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The Crow Speaks Backwards

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Viserys reached out for the small, cold hand of his good-sister, finding it a much too strange sensation that her fingers did not curl in loving strokes. He reminded himself that she was a corpse, after all, and could not help being glacial. A small smile twisted his lips at the unintended pun, his thoughts did at times mock him into a queer state. The stiffness of her limbs had passed, the skin was still soft, even if warmthless and sallow in colouring. She looked, his mind drew up a blank for a first, eyes roaming the prone figure.

Dressed in stately fashion, she looked every inch the queen she’d never quite been named. She wore her husband’s colours, something the good lady had done from time to time during her life was well. Whether it was pride or mere adherence to tradition, Viserys was not certain. There were still so many things he did not understand about his good-sister. In her own way, she’d ever been a walking contradiction, severe in her insistence obedience and strangely willing to betray that very ideal. Although, might be she had been loyal to entirely more elevated gods than he’d ever heard of. Viserys blinked gently at the face of serene acceptance.

“Confounded woman,” he whispered, “could you not have parted with at least some crumbs of understanding?” Light played upon her flesh making it seem as though she smiled. She had smiled oft as a young girl, for truly when his brother had taken up with her she’d been no more than a girl. Unfailingly charming, sweet-natured to a fault and entirely too aware of her strange lure; she’d played her part masterfully, if he said so himself.

Or so his brother thought. Rhaegar thought a lot of things. Most of them were unforgivably stupid. He would never say as much to his face; nevertheless, there it was. His brother, whom Viserys had once thought beyond the reach of anything as mundane as maidenly snares, had gone and stumbled over his own feet, falling in a graceless heap at the feet of his good-sister. He’d had help, of course. Lady Lyanna was nothing if not helpful. Would he have fallen for her in his brother’s stead. He turned the thought this way and that, drawing his hand away from her touch to reach out for her powdered cheek. They’d applied the scented dust to her flesh to keep it from decaying. It did nothing to help with the colouring, but it kept odours at bay. Which might as well be a good thing, considering his brother was becoming increasingly unwilling to depart these chambers for his own.

Truly, he felt bad for having slipped that bit of sleeping powder in his wine, but it seemed prudent to force him to rest. There were some knots his brother still hand to untangle before he could fall upon his sword and into his wife’s embrace. Afterwards, well, some other industrious Viserys had already laid out a possible path for him.

Would it not gall his good-sister beyond words? All her charitable work on his brother’s children amounting to absolutely nothing; all her worries for nothing. His fingers lifted, dusted with the chalky powder.  The flesh beneath discoloured at the lightest of pressures. Colour flooded back in its own time. Fed up with such simplistic inspection Viserys pulled out the small knife from his sleeve and leaned over the table, glancing at the space where ear met throat. There was a bruise there. Just like the woman had said. He turned his attention to his good-sister’s fingernails.

It made sense. Whoever had gone on to speed the woman along her way had chosen a very opportune moment. His knife cut along the nail-line. Certainly he was rewarded with further confirmation. What he needed to determine was whether he brought the knowledge to his brother or kept it to himself a while longer.

“Poor Lady Lyanna, you were so very certain, were you not, that your luck would hold out?” He sighed to himself. “But if the situation is as such, who would have enough courage to put themselves into such a position?” The obvious answer would be Oberyn; a history of such would certainly lent credibility to such an accusation.

He would not be so careless, though, would he? Oberyn was not precisely an idiot. Vindictive, ill-tempered and a hazard to anyone around him, but not stupid enough to so blatantly challenge Rhaegar; or if he were, his brother had kept him in line well enough for too long a time to simply spring him on the poor lady.

“What do you say to that?” he asked the dead woman as thought she’d been part of the earlier process. “A poisonous snake; well, you ought not to have stepped upon its tail, lady. Always aim for the head. Safest option, do you not think?” She gave no reply, predictably.

A sound from behind announced the entrance of another. Viserys glanced over his shoulder in time to catch his niece in the production of a grasp. “Uncle, what are you doing?” Her eyes fell to the knife, or rather returned to it. Round as saucers, her eyes were. He gave her a little grin and lifted a finger to his lips.

“Close that door, Rhaella, and lower your voice.”   In her state, she went along with the demand. “Your lady mother never did appreciate disturbances. Just because she cannot speak for herself, we should not disregard her preferences.”

“My lady mother did not appreciate sharp blades being waved in front of her face either,” the girl responded primly. He beckoned her closer. As if tugged by the motion of his finger, she stumbled ahead.

“What do you know, silly child?” he pressed when she’d reached close enough, trustingly allowing herself close enough for him to grab. “You barely even knew her.” He straightened, keeping an eye on her.

“She barely even knew me.” For the first time he saw something other than softness beneath her mask. Dare he dig deeper? Dare he make an insinuation?

“Come then. I will leave the two of you to it.”