He hadn’t believed her. Gods help him, but he hadn’t believed her.
Not when she’d convinced their father to abandon Valyria. Not when they’d boarded the ships that would take them to Dragonstone, the mocking laughter of their friends and neighbors still ringing in their ears. Not when they had married and he had sworn his love for her before gods and men. Not even when she’d told him, just that morning, that the day had come at last and everything would change, had he believed.
The dragons cry out as if dying, the sky blackens like night to the east, and finally, finally, Gaemon doubts no longer.
Balerion’s scream cuts through him like a sword and he can bear it all no longer. He pushes passed the crowd gathered to stare up at the sky in wonder and terror and makes for his chambers, running through the halls like a frightened boy. The wind against his face chills tears he hadn’t realized he’d cried.
Daenys lies still in the darkness on their bed, her body turned away from the closed windows. He wants to weep at the sight of her, to sob like babe from loss and pain and guilt. He wants to cry into her shoulder and have her say that everything will be alright because she knows, as she always has, as he’s never truly believed. He wants to tell her he adores her and that he’ll never doubt her again, because he does and he won’t.
Instead he says: “Don’t you want to see?”
“I saw it all long ago.” Her voice is cold, but he goes to her anyway. He lies behind her and slowly wraps her in his arms, waiting for- expecting- her to push him away. When she grips his hand in her’s and pulls him closer, he doesn’t even bother choking back his sob.
I’m sorry is no where near enough, but he can’t think of anything that is- can’t think of anything that ever will be- so he says it again and again, his lips pressed against her back, her neck, her hair, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, and prays that one day he will be be worthy of forgiveness.
*Note: Check out this post, or else this won’t make any sense at all.
→ viva blanca
The vision burns her. It sears her skin and blackens her lungs from ash and air turned to flames. She wakes gasping. She wakes shaking, still feeling the earth collapse under her, around her. She wakes still deaf from the screams of dragons and burning children. She wakes terrified. But she wakes sure.
There is nothing that can be done. The certainty chills the burns and offers her the merciless comfort of absolute powerlessness.
She rises and dresses, walks the halls of her home with no destination. She walks with her hand trailing the walls, memorizing the feel of the columns, the smell of the heat in the air, the sight of the unending red glow of the Fourteen Fires lighting the night sky through the windows. She thinks of waking her father to warn him of her vision, as she had so many times before.
She slips into bed with Gaemon instead. He stirs enough to reach for her and her heart aches, remembering the sight of him drowning in fire. Daenys holds her brother close and prays that she is wrong.
She sleeps wrapped around him and dreams of the west, and a chance for survival.
*Note: This isn’t going to make much sense if you haven’t read this post. So, you know, read it.
→julie marie berman
She is the one that pins the Hand’s badge on her Uncle Brynden. Aerys is in his chambers with his books, hiding away from the sickness and the world. But Aelinor is queen now, and has no time for such cowardice. There are kings and princes to bury, a coronation to plan, and plague. She has no time for anything.
The naming ceremony is no ceremony at all. It should have been done in the throne room, with the court (and king) in attendance, and a feast and tourney to follow. But the throne room floor is lined with noble bodies waiting to be burned, and half the court is dead, with the other half not far behind. So her two Kingsguard shadows and her Aunt Shiera are the only witnesses when, in a hallway, Brynden Rivers becomes Hand of the King in name as well as action. He bows formally, thanks her, and they walk together to the Alchemist’s Guild while discussing funeral plans.
That night, when green flames light the night sky and the now-familiar smell of burning death seeps into her skin, Aelinor takes a precious moment to herself and visits her husband. She chooses the largest book she can find, slaps it hard against his head, and leaves smiling.
The maesters can keep their herbs and ointments. That is all the cure I need. She’s sure that she would sleep soundly, if only she had the time.
aegon I targaryen
The air was thick with desperation and ash. Blank faces, worshipful faces, what used to be faces, all stared at him as he passed. He began with the intent on looking at them all, making sure that he saw them and they saw him and they saw him see them, but there were too many. Half way through, the guilt that sat on his chest made him turn away. He started looking at the blood then, and the fire. Those were familiar, those he could look at and feel like a conqueror.
This is all me, he thinks, every bit of it. He was the one who first thought the idea. He was the one who commissioned the table and studied it night after night. He was the one who turned down the chance to regain the empire of his people’s past. He was the one that chose west. I am the one that has come to kill you and rule you. Bend the knee and rejoice in it.
His soul is covered in black dragon scales and barely healed wounds, and it looks out across the field where what were men lie dead and dying, and it screams victory. Aegon the man looks across the field of his doing, and can only feel the weight on his chest.
He screams. He stops. He screams again. It is shrill and loud and carries through the empty hallways. He decides to chase it.
His clothes burden him, so he takes them off, leaving a trail of once fine materials in his wake. He screams as he chases his scream, and laughs at the shadows.
His Uncle Brynden stands at the end of the hall, dark and pale and cold. He’s always liked Uncle Brynden- he smells of trees and strange things, and never laughs when he talks of darkness. Rhaegel runs up to him and screams in his face. He never blinks- he never does. “Nephew. What do the shadows do today?”
Rhaegel laughs and points at the walls where patches of darkness curl and twist. “They’ve come to dance, my lord!”
Brynden scowls, but Rhaegel leaves him, curling and twisting and dancing with the shadows. His scream is running down the stairwell, and needs catching.
aenys I targaryen
Aenys Targaryen is taught to rule a kingdom subdued by the Dragon, a people held in check by the Conqueror as a man is held against the earth by a boot pressing against his throat. Aenys Targaryen, the First of His Name, takes the throne to a land breathing the first sweet sigh of relief, and wanting more.
Rebellion spreads through the kingdoms like wildfire, faster and fiercer than anything he could have imagined, and led by the same faith his father had renounced the gods of his homeland for. Mother used to tell me stories though, of Balerion the dark god of war, and Meraxes, the trickster goddess that could change her shape into anything she pleased. I could take them as the gods of the Iron Throne, and have done with the Seven. The thought, the half-hearted threat, gives him comfort and a semblance of bravery when he closes his eyes at night to the sounds of the zealots screaming for his head.
The sounds grow louder and louder still, no matter how tightly he closes his eyes or how hard he presses his hands over his ears. The septons cry out for a dynasty to end before it begins. The smallfolk cry out against the enemies of their gods, blindly and unquestioningly following the words of the leaders of their faith. Maegor calls for war, his son calls for peace. Peace is what I wish for as well, my smart son. For this to end. For it all to end, and be as it was before. His father had ruled with such ease. He had made everything look so simple. All I want is for this to be simple.
The world grows harder, the crys grow louder, and King Aenys covers his eyes and ears to it all. Behind him, unseen, his brother scowls.
Aegon begins calling them his queens long before he ever decides to sail west. Both she and her sister had always laughed it off, taking it for a compliment and an unnecessary, but appreciated, attempt at seduction. It isn’t until he commisions the table and turns away the Volantenes that she realizes his sweet words are meant seriously.
She never feels like a queen, not when she covers herself in silks and jewels and commands the awe of what troops her brother can gather. She doesn’t feel like a queen when she leaves Rhaenys behind and becomes ‘your grace’ and rarely anything else. She doesn’t feel like a queen when Aegon places a crown upon her head and carves out a place for her beside him, instead of behind him. She never feels like a queen because she has no idea what a queen should feel like.
She watches from the back of her dragon as the men of the Reach and the West die screaming, their sounds mingling with the roar of the flames and the cries of the dragons. There is blood under her nails, her own, from where she grips the reins too tight. Her silks and jewels and crowns are long gone. Her names and titles are left behind as well; here she is no one, only a dragon, beautiful and terrible at once. She makes a final pass over the field, relishing the feeling of heat between her legs as Meraxes ignites the horizon, and the screams grow louder. Her fists clench and her palms bleed, but she looks down upon the suffering, rides high over death, and smiles.
This is what it means to be queen.
Bodies laid in front of her, beside her, behind her, all around her. The air hung heavy, thick with the smell of death and smoke and burnt flesh. She could hear a man retching from it somewhere behind her. He wasn’t the first, nor would he be the last.
Visenya stopped amongst the carnage and took a deep breath. The smell was comforting to her. It smelled of home, and victory, and possibilities. It smelled of her dragon, as familiar and natural to her as her mother’s milk.
She walked on, stepping through the bodies and the blood and the burns, until she came to a man, sobbing and pleading for death. Kneeling, she took the man’s face in her hand; dirt and sweat and blood streaked together as she ran her finger over his cheek.
“What is your name?” She asked, soft as a child.
The man’s words came out in a gurgle of blood and spittle. She did not understand, but it did not matter. She unsheathed the dagger strapped to her thigh and slit his throat. The blood ran red and bright to the ground, singeing as it touched the blackened earth.
Red and black. Fire and blood. Visenya smiled and walked to the next pleading man.
baelor I targaryen
The gods were close. They were there with him, all around him, urging him, come closer my son. Come close so that we may touch you, guide you, sustain you. Come closer to us, for we are all you need.
Baelor could hear the truth in their voices inside his head. He could hear the Father’s voice, strong and deep, and the Mother’s, smooth and loving, and the Maiden’s, high and clear. The Crone spoke to him of the wisdom of his struggles. The Smith thanked him for building them such a grand home, for building a sept worthy of them. The Warrior lauded his peaceful ways, for true strength lies not with steel but with prayer.
The Stranger stood behind him, silent and intimidating, but Baelor feared no part of the gods, so he turned, to look upon Death’s face-
Death wavered, and disappeared. In it’s place stood his uncle.
“Your grace, you need to eat.” Concern sat deep within the lines of his face, that face so like his father’s.
Or was it? Baelor did not know. He could not remember his father. He could not remember the last time he had seen his uncle, or closed his eyes to sleep, or tasted food on his tongue.
The gods test me. They take away memory and thought to see if I will relent, but I am not so weak. “My faith sustains me, uncle. I need nothing else.”
Beside him, inside of him, the gods smiled.
Tap-tap-tip-tap-tap. Elaena’s nails tapped a rhythmless beat against the balcony railing, her chin in her hand, and her eyes fixed on the bay. Behind her, Rhaena heaved a sigh and closed The Seven-Pointed Star gently, her thumb absently stroking the cover out of habit. “Just go.”
Her sister didn’t spare her a glance. “What’s the point? Our cousins are no fun- well, Naerys isn’t, Aegon’s likely drunk already, and Aemon will just bring me back here if I’m caught. And Alyn’s at Driftmark.”
And that’s it. Rhaena stood and walked onto the balcony. The wind ruffled her skirts and blew a stray hair into her face. The breeze felt so nice against her skin she didn’t even bother pushing it back. “So do whatever it is that Daena does when she escapes.”
“Daena fucks our cousin when she escapes.”
Rhaena’s mouth twisted into a smile. “So do you.”
Elaena startled, shocked silent by her usually demure sister’s brazenness. Slowly, a smile spread across her face, and together they laughed, loud and full, with the wind in their hair and the sunlight on their faces, and, for a moment, it was as if they were free.
daeron I targaryen
Beside him, Daena has the gall to laugh. “I quite like these Dornish that you seem so transfixed by, brother. You don’t suppose you could marry me to one, do you?” Daeron doesn’t bother pointing out that she is already married, her husband sitting not a foot from her, his head bowed in silent prayer over his empty dinner plate for the late Lord of Highgarden.
Their uncle ignores her as well. “Lord Tyrell, however foolish he was, was all that was holding your rule in Dorne together. The other lords fight to contain it, but the Dornish are empowered again, wild as only rebellion and the end of winter can make a man. I fear it may be only days before the Martells have control of the kingdom again, if they don’t already.”
Damn them all to seven hells. Them, and their bloody scorpions. It had taken him years to finish what Aegon the Conqueror had started. Years of sand and sun and fire and blood and death. He would not have it all undone in a matter of days. “How long would it take to reform the armies?”
His uncle stares at him down his nose, the same condescending look in his eyes he would have when Daeron was a child. It only serves to anger him more. “Your Grace, Dorne is likely lost already-“
“I will not lose Dorne!” His voice echoes off the walls, and his family sits in silence, none of them daring to move or meet his eyes. “What are my titles?” His uncle looks up, confused. “Prince Viserys, what are my titles?”
“The…First of Your Name. King of the Seven Kingdoms-“
“Seven Kingdoms, Uncle. Seven. That title has been a lie, a courtesy taken by my fathers, all the way back to Aegon the Dragon, when he left his conquest incomplete. I mean to finish what he started. I mean to say that I am King of the Seven Kingdoms and have no man contest it. And I will not have everything that I have fought for ruined by a bit of trickery. So I ask you again, how long would it take to reform the armies?”
This time, Viserys does not hesitate. “Months. Four, five, at best. The lords have not been long in releasing their soldiers; those men won’t be quick to return. Some not at all.”
Daeron crooks his finger. His wine steward shakes as he pours his cup too full. “See that they do, my lord Hand, and quickly. I intend to march for Dorne as soon as possible.” The wine is lukewarm in his mouth, but he barely tastes it; his mind is filled with the burn of the sun on his skin, the sight of the red dunes turned redder by bloodstains. I will see this done. I will see House Targaryen finish it’s work. Even if it kills me.
duncan “the small” targaryen
The crown was a gaudy thing, all black iron and sharp points, made to match the throne of it’s wearer. The throne of it’s prisoner. Duncan ran his thumb over the polished gold band, watching with mute satisfaction as the smear of fingerprints dulled it’s shine.
His brother stood wheezing behind him. The late autumn chill was already cutting him to the bone, and many a day sending him all but running out of council meetings, barely making it out the door before another attack hit him, his coughing echoing through the halls. My dear brother. Jaehaerys was the only one who understood, the only other one who saw this life of theirs for what it was. But Jaehaerys does his duty. Duncan wasn’t that strong. Or that selfless.
He smiled as he extended the crown to his brother, as if he wasn’t condeming him with the action. Take it brother, release me from my shakles and bind them to your own ankles. “It’s always been too heavy for me.”
Jaehaerys smiled knowingly as he accepted the crown, his hands looking even more weak and frail against the gold and hard iron. “It weighs heavily on all those worthy enough to wear it. Many in our family’s history wore it too easily, more still died for only the chance of it resting on their head. Yet you refuse it.” His brother’s eyes were wide and cloudy when he looked up at him. “What is it about you that makes you so much better than the rest of us?”
There was no trace of disdain in his voice, and Duncan heard the question for what it was. How can you be so brave as to say no?
I am not brave. He thought. The brave thing would be to do my duty, to do what is expected of me, to think nothing of myself and all the while smile and be grateful for it. The truth was, Duncan was too much a Targaryen for that. Fire and blood. Only the fire in my blood burns for something other than power.
It burned for freedom.