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The Crow Speaks Backwards

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“And yet you will tell me, for all you profess reluctance. How has this come about?” Lyanna trained her gaze upon her eldest surviving daughter, holding her accountable, for that was what she had heard thus far. Finally able to investigate without pulling off a scab, she was not about to let the chance slip past her.

Rhaella flinched but flattened her lips, her tractability diminished in the aftermath of her brush with, well, Lyanna had no other name for it but death. Her sister fidgeted in her seat, looking as children sometimes did when they were on the verge of giving away some secret of great import.  “Might be you can enlighten me, Elaena,” she addressed her second daughter at length seeing she would not win with the elder.

“We did not mean to cause trouble, lady mother,” Elena assured her, words she had heard before. She held back from interrupting, settling herself more comfortably in her chair. “But you’ve little idea of what has encouraged such a venture. Now that it has come to this, I’ve a confession to make.”

“More confessions?” she asked gently, half-fearing what her daughter might spill forth left to her own devices. “If you must, then by all means.” She motioned with her hand for the girl to continue, which Elaena seemed to both relish and fear by the reaction she presented her with.

“Rhaella only wished to aid me, for you see, lady mother, the simply truth is I’ve been having the strangest dreams and could not interpret them to any good sense. My sister offered a solution and I could not help but insist upon taking it.” Rhaella speared her younger sibling with a meaningful look, but she noted no words passed the girl’s lips. But that was a good sign. Rhaella could oft be brought to her knees from an overly abundant sense of caring rather than brute force. Her course becoming clearer, Lyanna cocked her head to the side, awaiting further revelations. When Elaena failed to indulge her, she simply encouraged the girl to further confession. “I thought I must be mad to be having such nightly vision, alas, the witch assured me ‘twas not a matter of madness as much as a matter of godly communication.”

Softening somewhat for the girl’s benefit, Lyanna leaned din towards her, reaching out to hold her hands in hers, “Elaena, whatever that woman told you, you mustn’t take it to heart. Such creatures will do whatever they can to earn their keep and if convincing a child she has the Sight will do so, then she likely won’t hesitate. I expected you to know better.”

“I know what I saw,” Elaena insisted, her nails digging the thin flesh of her hand. “Moreover I was right. I was right about the three little flames, just as I was about the forest fire.” She startled to hear the child speak so.  Beside herself, her daughter continued to list a number of dreams which made sense to her, no doubt, but none to Lyanna. Thus she was forced to interrupt her. Unwilling to lose her advantage, she gave a firm shake of her head.

“Nay, Elaena. Such blatant fabrications do not stand to aid your sister. In fact, if you insist upon acting in such fashion I shall be forced to dole out further punishment.” That seemed to have an effect. Rhaella straightened in her seat and her case transformed, leaving more iron where the soft lines of worry had been.

“She does not lie, lady mother. Not one word she speaks is untrue, except for insisting that we for see the witch. Elaena told me of her dreams, but it was I who insisted we ask the woman for help. I thought for certain one who claims to see beyond the mist to the true purpose of things will know whence such visions come, or if not, at least what they wish to say.” Her eyes sparked with a fire Lyanna was unused to seeing in her daughter. She had seen it elsewhere thought. A shiver of unease shook her. “My sister has the Sight and ‘tis no fault of hers.”

“How would you know the quality of the creature’s craft? Many claim they can see one’s fate at a glance.” At least for herself she had made her own. Looking from one daughter to the other, Lyanna considered going to Rhaegar with the knowledge. He had elected to concentrate on the feud between Aegon and Jon, allowing Rhaella and Elaena’s transgressions to fall to the wayside. And she well wished she had followed his example. Seers and visions were dangerous things.

The priestess had claimed to speak her god’s will as well. She had promised Lyanna a future of glory should she give herself over to the Lord of Light and not for a moment did she doubt the woman believed her own words.

“There were three flames and my brother bore three dragon eggs back to us,” Elaena spoke, “and then I dreamt of horse draped in red cloth and Alysanne perished. I saw lastly a sapling basked in soft twilight glow. By midnight it stood as high as a man and come morning it stood above all, giving gentle shade. The witch told me–“

“Enough, Elaena. You know not of what you speak.” They were just dreams, a mere coincidence. No good came of ascribing further meaning to figments of one’s imagination.  “In fact, I can prove to you there is no such thing as dreams which predict the future. You may consult with any maester you wish upon this matter.”

“That is not fair,” Rhaella cut in. “The witch knew of the comet, and she made sense of Elaena’s dreams. If anyone has to provide proof than it is not us.”

“I cannot allow you to condemn yourselves with your own two hands.  There will be no more talk of woods witches or the Sight. Have I made myself clear?” No response came. “Have I made myself clear?” Lyanna repeated.














She had a nice, easy laughter, akin to a summer breeze if ever Lyanna were inclined to make a comparison. She could not help but laugh alongside the girl, relieved, if not truly pleased about the match her husband had settled on. “I am glad to find Your Majesty so well disposed towards us,” the lady commented gently, passing her a cup which had just been refilled. “Although I think it a silly, silly thing.”

“It is somewhat of a tradition, I surmise.” She took a sip of the brew, swallowing daintily. “And since it harms no one, I let it slide. You see, my experience has taught me that there is no use in trying to stifle the curiosity of other. They will gossip. They will spread rumours. And they will certainly bet amongst themselves. It hurts me none to be part of such dealings.”

Lady Margaery conceded with grace, although she still did not seem very pleased. Lyanna decided against pressing for an answer. After all, it was very much like a young maiden to shy from the overt, somewhat rude attention such a bet insinuated. “And of course, I expect my husband will be made plump in the pocket by this venture, which ever increases my joy,” she said for a closing argument.

That her companion seemed to find rather interesting. “His Majesty took on such a bet as well?” While not aghast at the notion, she did frown gently.

“Not in his own personal name, of course. But there are ways. And he has done so for ever single occurrence. Have you put coin down yet?” It never failed to amuse her how the courtiers scrambled about, asking this knowledgeable woman or that, whether she would have a boy or a girl. As if that much could be predicted.

“His Grace advised me to put coin down on the child being a boy.” Lyanna nodded her head encouragingly. “But I do not think I shall. I am no betting woman, truth be told.” Now that was a lie, if ever Lyanna had heard one. Still, she felt compelled to not provoke the child by outright confrontation. “Whatever the babe is born as, I shall be very happy to see him or her healthy.”

“You do not enjoy risk, yet here you are, about to wed my son.” Lyanna supposed there was some similarity there. She’d never enjoyed the thought of matrimony yet she’d settled fairly easily into hers. “Methinks there is some inherent contradiction to such a statement.” She smiled at the girl to indicate she did not admonish her in any way.

“Nay, Your Majesty. I said I do not enjoy gambling. But a little bit of risk taking offers worthy rewards and is in truth no gamble. Your son strikes me as a young man with enormous potential. Any woman would be glad to have him.” She accepted the answer with only the slightest sliver of disbelief.

A small twinge of pain stabbed at her abdomen, distracting her attention momentarily from Lady Margaery and their discussion. Her hand patted the spot with care, pressing gently upon the tender area until the pain flared. She breathed in through her nose, swallowing the sigh threatening to overtake her. “One may look at the situation in such a light,” she managed after a moment. “But let us not speak of such things. I was wondering, rather, if you would enjoy taking up a few on the reins I am at this time unable to grab hold on.”

“Who does not enjoy taking up worthy causes? But I thought Her Grace, Princess Rhaenys sees to these matters in Your Majesty’s absence.” Well informed as she was, she had perhaps missed one crucial piece when making her reply.

Lyanna gave her a small smile and inclined her head to the side thoughtfully, “I know she will be very pleased you thought so. “She has always been a dutiful child.” Might be more so than any of her brothers. Rhaenys lacked whatever it was that made Aegon so very joyful, or the ambition which pushed Jon towards his achievements. She had mastery over her own notions nevertheless and, to Lyanna’s mind, had set for herself a number of goals in the name of duty.

“I do Her Grace no favours. ‘Tis simply a matter of truth,” Lady Margaery insisted. Something in her gaze shifted. Unable to decipher what it was she saw in that moment and not entirely certain it too precedence over the conversation, Lyanna forced her attention away from the girl’s gaze and looked towards the door, a sense of anticipation knotting within her.             

“Her mother impressed it upon her that there was very little outside of duty she need concern herself with.” Oft she’d wondered at that. Elia had had the perfect chance to nurture in her children a hatred for the woman who had usurped her place. Why she hesitated to do so when she clearly desired her husband back made little sense to her. Alas, she shied from delving deeper into it. There might well be answers there she had no wish to hear.

“I thought the children were raised here,” her companion commented with a hint of confusion.

“For a time. Rhaegar sent them to their mother as well. We did not feel it right that they should cut all bonds.” Her explanation was accepted.

“Your Majesty, I will be frank, I admire the courage, but I do not understand why you would willingly put yourself in such a position.” A question for the ages. Lyanna declined to answer the implied query and Lady Margaery mayhap sensing her reluctance took it upon herself to change the subject. “I’ve noticed Your Majesty has been eyeing the door. Are we waiting for someone?”

“How ill-mannered of me to have been so transparent.” She nevertheless looked towards the door once more. “Now that you have caught me I suppose there is nothing for it but to confess.” Before she might do that, however, she was interrupted by the door opening and Rhaenys stepping in, followed by her sisters. “I thought we might visit all of us together.”

Lady Margaery rose from her seat, greeting the new arrivals most becomingly. Pleased with the apparent harmony, Lyanna relaxed in her seat, trying not to notice the increasing pain in her abdomen. So much kicking about was not natural.