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Aegon the Younger and the King's Simple Daughter

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My cell is five steps long and ten steps wide, I am nine years old and they call me Aegon the Younger. My uncle is King. I might be ten now. I do not know the date. I was born on the tenth day of the twelfth month. I know I have been in the dungeon for over a moon. At first, I would mark the days with a pencil on the wall. But, I stopped quickly as there seemed no point to mark time.

At first, they threw me in the darkest cells in Dragonstone, the ones in the deep part of the island’s belly. I screamed and cried like a baby in there for the first hour. Then, a Maester came and told me that my sister Baela was here in the castle and she wanted me to know she loved me and would keep me safe, to be strong and remember I was a Targaryen. He brought me broth and bread and left me in the dark.

I do not want to be a Targaryen. After all, Targaryens rail and rant and rage. Targaryens kill each other. Targaryens burn and bleed. I have no desire for those things. I have no desire for the Iron Throne. All I want is a good pork pie and Mushroom to cartwheel and juggle. All I want is my brothers to be alive again and I want Mother, even if she was the worst Targaryen who ever drew breath.

I did not do well in the darkest cells. All I could see in the dark were my memories and my family; Jace, Luc, Joff, Father, Viserys, and Mama. Mama was the person who dominated my thoughts, the smell of her perfume, the feel of her strong protective arms, the pretty color of her eyes, the six rings she had on her fingers that she would twist and turn all day and night.

"Six rings," she would say, "One for each of my sons and one for my daughter I will have." When I was small, long before the wars and death had disrupted my childhood, Viserys and I would each sit on her lap and ask which one of us she loved best. She would laugh and said she loved us all the best, She had no favorites. However, I would see how she looked at Viserys who was the image of Father and she adored him. I wish I could have been braver or stronger and saved him. Six bites were all it took for Sunfyre to eat her. Now, Mother and all her sons are dead and only I remain.

Every time, I close my eyes in the dark, I would see Mother holding me tight as we watch Joff fly off to the Dragonpit. I would hear her telling me how she would regroup her forces and hatch more dragon eggs, that the Iron Throne would be hers. I keep seeing how Sunfyre did not want to hurt Mother, as if it sensed the Valyrian blood, but King Aegon wanted my mother to die. They had to cut her arm with a dagger. My Mother laughed, a terrible sound, taunting the King. When the half-blinded, injured dragon smelled the blood, he did as his rider bid and ate Mother.

I did not do well in the dark. I did not eat. I did not move. I think I had a fever because I don’t think I ever was able to stand to relieve myself in the pot. On the fourth day in the dark, they brought men to carry me to a cell with a window. The Maester was there. His name is Hunnimore and he said he would help me.

They brought me books some green wooden soldiers and a golden wooden dragon to play with. After all, Maester says I am a child and I need some fresh air. Once a week, they take me for a walk in the yard where Mother died. Other things happened in that yard but it is harder to remember them. I remember Father teaching me to hold a sword and shoot a bow. I remember once that Jace danced Baela around the yard after she was teasing him about how he couldn’t dance. There was nothing Jace could not do. There were happy times in this place once. I sometimes wonder if there will be again.

 

There is a servant girl loyal to my mother who tells me bits of information that she knows when she brings me food. Sometimes, she tells me of the battles still being fought. Sometimes, she tells me what the servants think the King will do. Sometimes, she reminds me of my name. I think she might have been sweet on one of my older brothers, or maybe father. She is pretty and eager to offer me information. Sometimes, she cries a little to see me in a cell, in such terrible conditions.

She brings me food twice a day and water to drink. She brings me a bowl of cool water and a rag to wash up once a week. From the cold air that blows through the bars of the windows, I know that winter has come. I know that even though my circumstance is terrible, it will be much worse for the smallfolk soon. I have a blanket and food twice a day. Soon the people will freeze and starve.

Maester Hunnimore comes to check on me daily. He brings me books and tries to cheer me up. Once, he told me it concerned him how melancholy I was. I told him I would try and be better if he would bring me new books. He laughed and I knew I made a friend of the man. I have asked him if I will be able to see my sister. He told me that he could not make that happen but that she watches me walk about the yard.

 

The King does not like to come to see me in my cell. He was badly burned fighting Princess Rhaenys and even more injured while fighting my sister, Baela. Sometimes, they have me brought to his chambers for it is hard for him to walk to me. King Aegon the Second’s legs are healing and he may never walk without assistance again. Before they bring me to him, they wash and dress me. He sits in his bed and I find that when I am able to look at him, he resembles mother.

 

The first time, he made me recite the oath I made him, swearing fealty and his right to the Iron Throne. He looked at me like I was a bug in his soup. “They tell me that you should be my heir since I have no sons anymore. At least, until I am remarried and have more sons. What do you think, Boy?”

I spoke, “I think that you are the King and what you decide is law and I will follow because I am a loyal servant to House Targaryen.”

My Uncle clapped and laughed, “Well done. You are a clever boy. They said you were clever and you seem well-made. You will do until I am remarried. I am wedding a Baratheon girl. Her father is one of my biggest allies and taking back King’s Landing as we speak. But you will do..”

The second and final time the King called me to his rooms, he was mad with grief over the death of his dragon, Sunfyre. King Aegon II smelled like wine and his sheets on his bed were thrown on the floor. I remembered when my Mother had called us to this very room after Visenya had come too soon and Aegon had stolen her crown. I know how treasonous this thought is but they look so similar, their pale skin blotchy with emotion, their lips pouting and cruel, their jaws set in stubbornness. “My dragon is dead. She was the most beautiful dragon and now she is dead. Do you know how a rider feels when his dragon dies, Boy?”

I hesitate and wonder if I should tell him my dragon Stormcloud died out in the same yard that Sunfyre died. I want to tell him how much i willed and prayed that he would make it, how desperate and tired and terribly injured he was. Still, he lifted his wings, again and again, to bring me to safety. I speak, “I am, Your Grace. I lost my dragon but he wasn’t as lovely as Sunfyre.”

The King’s eyes narrow and I wonder if I misspoke. He motions for me to come closer, “Come here, boy.”

He doesn't call me by my name. If he would call me Aegon, it would remind him that I am his nephew, his family, his heir. Nameless, as Boy, I am an object, a trophy that he has won. I come to him and stand by his bed. The King is covered in burns and scars. His legs are in casts and braces. It is said he is in constant pain.

The King touches my face, “You look like your father. Has anyone told you that?’

“No, Your Grace.”

The King continues, “Your father was a terrible prick. I hated him. Daemon Targaryen, the most handsome and dashing Rogue Prince. I hated him. Do you know your father told me on my wedding night that he took my mother and my elder sister’s maidenhead and he would gladly help me take my wife’s if I needed assistance? You do not have your father’s manners, even if you have his look.”

The King pushes me onto my knees and he is touching himself. “Perhaps, I should fuck his son, make you my whore, like your father wanted to do with my wife. I hope he watches me in the Seven Hells use you.”

I am afraid and confused, but I do not move. After all, he is the King and I swore an oath to obey. It is clear he despises me. I keep my eyes on the mattresses and focus on counting the stitches. Something is wrong. Perhaps, he has drunk too much wine or his grief is too great. Perhaps, I have done something wrong or right. I will never know.

 

Instead, the King roars at me to get out. I scramble to my feet and rush from the room to the rough arms of the guards who take me back to my cell.

The next day, the serving girl tells me Lord Borros Baratheon has secured King’s Landing and the King and I are heading to the Capitol.

Chapter Text

I walk the length of the yard at Storm's End and Ser Fell follows me. He is my shadow. My shadow falls. It is Fell.

I like Storm’s End. The sound of the sea and the falling rain help me sleep. The smell of the pines and the trees is a better smell than the city of King’s Landing which smells like a privy. There is less noise, fewer sounds, fewer reasons to get nervous. At Storm’s End, I can enjoy the sunlight, the fresh air and the fact my Grandmother is not here to tell me to behave.

 

Lord Boros has a daughter. Her name is Cassandra. She has dark hair and blue eyes. She is sixteen. She rides horses and has ladies. She gives me sweets and braids my hair.
But she calls me simple behind my back. Her ladies laugh and say I am pretty but odd, not right in the head.

I try to do better, to be better, to remember how to be a lady and a princess. I always forget. It is hard to remember. I do not know what I did wrong. I do not know how to be better. I want Cassandra to love me, to like me, but instead, she makes fun of me. They think I do not understand, that I am stupid. I learned that is what simple means. I am not stupid. I am just not like them. I am different.

I remember my mother told me to smile more, to make small talk, to giggle softly and cover my mouth when I eat tea cakes. I am seven. I received word that Mother died but no one will tell me how. Shortly after that, word came that Maelor died. When I learned that little Maelor died, I tore at my skin and beat my head against the stones. I think I must have caused a terrible scene. Ser Fell took me in his arms and held me close like Mother had shown him, tight and constant. When I was done crying, he took me to the Maester to be treated for my injuries. Trying to comfort me, he told me that I still had my Father.

I had looked at him and asked him, “Ser Fell, I do not want Father to be my father. Perhaps, you might be my father. After all, he is often cross with me. But you are never cross with me.”

He had smiled and said, “Princess Jaehaera, I cannot. You have but one father and yours is my King. I will be your knight, to protect and keep you safe.”

Cassandra will be queen and my step-mother. Lord Boros has conquered King's Landing, and when he conquers the Black’s army in the riverlands, my father will wed this girl and she will be Queen and my mother. She will have children and I will have brothers and sisters again. We will be a family and I must do better to make her pleased. Once, I overheard Cassandra saying she would send me to the Silent Sisters after she has children.

Later, I asked Ser Fell if I would have to go. He said he did not think the King would send his eldest daughters to the Sisters. “You are too valuable, too important.”
I hugged him. Ser Fell was surprised and hugged me back. He did not expect such informality and he knows I do not like too much touch. I am glad to have a friend who will keep me safe. Since Mother has died, I do not know if anyone will ever care for me like she had.

Uncle Aemond used to tell me I was special like Mother. He would say, "In a House, full of boys, you are a girl. A Targaryen girl is a terrible, wonderful thing."

He would laugh and throw me in the air and catch me. Uncle Aemond was my favorite. It is said when I was a baby I would not smile and I would not cry often. However, I have been told that I would always smile and laugh for Uncle Aemond.

Uncle Aemond died on the back of Vhagar. Maelor, Daeron, Jaehaerys, Aemond, Mother, they are all dead. I must not think of them. I need to focus on being better, a proper lady, not an odd, simple girl. Tomorrow, Cassandra and I are going to King’s Landing to rejoin Father and I will miss Storm’s End.

Chapter Text

The Red Keep is a strange, big place and King’s Landing is bigger and stranger, still. Dragonstone has always been my home and yet, I will probably die in this big, strange place, surrounded by enemies and ghosts. I only lived here for a few months and it seems so long ago, though it has been less than a year. Mother, Father, Joff and I lived here but for such a short time. Now, Joffrey is dead and Mother is dead, too.

Some say Father is alive with Nettles in the Vale but I know my Father. If he knew I was alive here as both a prisoner and the Prince of Dragonstone, he would come to rescue me. I love my father and I know he loves me too. He would tell me how when I was born how he held me and I smiled, less than an hour old, as if I knew he was my father. He had prayed for me and here I was. He named me the strongest and the best name he knew, Aegon.

When father was still here with us in King’s Landing, he would come to my room every night. In fact, almost every night, he slept with me instead of Mother. I understood Mother was difficult and even at nine, I could see his eyes follow Nettles as she stood out of my mother’s sight. But still I was his only son and he would always look to me and tell me the War would be over soon and Mother would calm down when it was finished and all would be well. Father always was reassuring.

Father would spend nights telling me stories of his adventures until I fell asleep. On the last night before he left to finish the war in the Riverlands, I remember asking him not to leave. I was afraid because I had heard how ghosts roamed the halls of the Red Keep and murderers roamed King’s Landing. Father had smiled and said, “Never be afraid of King’s Landing. This is my city and the people love me here. They will love you, too, because you are my son and one day you will sit on the Iron Throne.”

I wanted to say Joff would be king, not me, but I did not want to correct him so I said nothing.

Father would hug and kiss me and then he would wrestle me and laugh. He would tell me stories of his adventures and his achievements like when he received Dark Sister from King Jaehaerys himself. He spoke, squeezing my hand, “That was the happiest day of my life until you were born. I waited almost forty years for you but you were with worth the wait.”

He taught me how to ride Stormcloud around the yard. Father showed me how to hold a sword and shield. Once, I asked him to hold Dark Sister. He let me but told me that my blade would be Blackfyre. I never corrected him but I knew Blackfyre would go to the King and that would be Jace. His mistakes were secrets between us like he wanted me to be King because I was good and strong and he was proud of me, because I was his blood. I knew they were not mistakes and now, I feel guilty. I should have told him that it would be Jace. I feel treasonous and shame like I wished for Jace to die. I did not. I loved him. Father was good at convincing you to do what he wanted. He would teach me how to read a man and how to rule them. He even tried to teach me how to make men love you. I tried to learn all I could.

The best part about when Father was here is that I always felt safe and strong beside him. I never felt that with Mother, no matter how she held me or kept me close. The last week before Father left, we waved to the crowds as he passed out bread to the people. Mother did not want me too close so that I would not be hurt. One day, when the people were cheering my Father’s name as he handed out rations, he called for me and he lifted me up so all could see his son. He shouted, “This is my son, Prince Aegon, and he will be your King some day. “

The crowd cheered and my father laughed and reveled in their love. Even though I felt safe, all I could see was danger among them. He was right. King’s Landing was his city and they loved my father. However, as much as they loved father, they hated mother. He had promised to return if he could and help me, teach me all he could, and have adventures of our own instead of stories about adventures.

Father never comes and so I know he is dead.

There are many people at the Court of King Aegon II that I must learn and not forget. Some I remember from before. One of those men is Grandfather. Only, he is not my grandfather. He is my brothers' and sisters' grandfather, the Sea Snake, Lord Corlys Velaryon. He seems sick and thin. He had been in the dungeons like I have. Only he was kept in the Black Cells, which is a terrible place. He has a gold tooth like he is a pirate. Even in weakened health, he has a good laugh. I notice him first because Father always said he was our man, which meant he could be trusted, he was safe.

Lord Corlys was the newly appointed Hand of the King, which even I could tell had some of his Small Council upset. When we entered the throne room, King Aegon went first, carried in a palanquin and I followed in the throne room by foot. Further back, Baela comes limping and slowly. I know I am not supposed to talk to her but knowing she is behind me helps me. Lord Velaryon barely noticed me. He is cold and distant but he embraces Baela tells her he loves her, and he prayed for her safety.

As I prepare for dinner, Lord Corlys comes to my room. He tells me not to fear anything. He tells me, “I will make it right for you, for all of us. For all, we have lost. We still have each other.”

Lord Corlys does not touch me in front of others. “It is important they do not know my affection for you. They need to think I do not favor you. They need to think I hate you because my own blood will not sit on the Iron Throne. But I do not. I gave up that dream a long time ago.”

While he is in my rooms, he grows nostalgic briefly, “You look like your father. I miss him. He was a good man and a good friend, even if he was a scoundrel. All the best men are... Do not give up hope. King Aegon the Second is deciding whether you should marry his daughter. Do you remember your cousin, Jaehaera? The Lords are calling for it as a way to win the peace. It might be the only way that the King can keep his head but I am not sure if the rebels will want anything but his head on the Red Keep.”

Lord Corlys is a talkative man and he reminds me of Father. His mention of his grandsons, who were before me in succession, and now dead bring me to my memories and my grief and shame. I feel I must tell him how I tried, “My Lord.. Grandfather, I tried to defend Mother. I picked up Ser Dark’s sword to defend her but Ser Broome knocked it away. I was not strong enough. “

“Aegon, you were not yet ten. Your mother was probably so pleased you made an attempt, but I knew your mother. Her whole life she wanted you safe, above all else. Aegon... Listen to me. My son, Laenor, your mother and father, and my poor Laena all made choices but they were grown. Luc and Jace were men. Maybe they were young, but when you play at war, you are men. Maybe, Joff was too young, but you are the youngest and I would never want you to have shame or guilt from that. Your mother wouldn’t either. Now, eat.”

He brings me cheese, fruit, some apple tarts, and roasted chicken. “Eat, Aegon. We must get you big and strong, big enough to swing Blackfyre.”

 

I eat for him and it seems to make him happy. However, mentions of me being King is too much. I speak, “My Lord, I mean no disrespect, but Blackfyre is the King’s. May the Seven save the King. I have no desire to swing Blackfyre or even hold it. Dark Sister, I would like to have but I hear it is on the bottom of the God’s Eye with the bones of Vhagar.”

Lord Corlys laughs, “Truth. May the Seven save the King. You are Daemon’s son it seems. We will get you Dark Sister, somehow, someday.”

Lord Corlys takes and apple tart and bites it, “ Aegon, do you remember your cousin? Do you remember Jaehaera?”

“I do not know if I do, my Lord.”

“Tonight there will be a feast for the King’s return to King’s Landing. Say nothing. King Aegon is tense. Watch and listen. Remember I am your friend.”

Lord Corlys leaves as quickly as he came.

Baela, my sister, is finally allowed to see me. I haven’t seen her in a year. Unlike when Lord Corlys visited, there are two Kingsguard who watch our every move and all our words. I do not remember the names of the specific knights yet. But I will make it my business to know. Father said it was good to know everything, all their secrets and their dreams about the men who keep watch while you sleep. It inspires loyalty he would say.

One side of Baela’s face is burned, as is her left shoulder and left arm. She walks with a limp and it seems painful but she barely shows it. As she hugs me tightly, I imagine it is two years ago and no one is dead and we are all still safe and happy on Dragonstone. She speaks, ”Aegon. Little Aegon, I would watch you walk the yard every week. I am so glad we are together. Rhaena is coming in a fortnight.”

I am so glad to see her but I find it is hard to look at her. She was once so beautiful sister. If Mother had survived, she would have looked like Baela, after Sunfyre burned her. The thought of Mother makes sorrow and grief swell in my heart. Baela is only allowed to be with me for a few minutes but she kisses me and promises to see me at the feast tonight.

The feast is a sad affair. First, it is not well attended and the lack of people is apparent, especially to the King. Many Lords could not make it. Some could not make it for they are dead or trying to deal with the winter upon them. Some did not want to be found in King’s Landing when the Lord Stark’s men are descending from the North with fury and certain death. Some have gone with Lord Borros Baratheon to fight Lord Tully and the Riverlanders.

There are still many people here and I need to learn them and remember them. This is how I will survive and I am my Father’s son. I will survive.

The King is busy on the dais with his betrothed, Lady Cassandra. Lord Corlys comes to me and whispers, “Come, Prince Aegon, Let’s introduce you to the Court and Small Council of the King.”

Behind him, he guides him to the first seating at the end of the main table. It is the Queen Mother Alicent. It seems the King would like to keep his mother far from him to seat her so. Lady Alicent, the Queen Mother, is golden and fair through the years have not been kind. I remember her so much prettier when I think back. Of course, Mother had thrown her in the dungeons. Captivity is hard on the body.

Lady Alicent was thin-lipped and though she smiled at me, I had the feeling she would stab me if she could. Her fingers grazed my cheek and she pinched it speaking, “He looks like my poor, dead Viserys. Only he will be taller and have such big shoulders. Hopefully, you will be a good boy not given to treachery and treason.”

I looked at her and spoke, ”My lady, Queen Mother, I will try to be good, a good faithful subject. I love the King.”

His mother had always called Alicent a snake and Father agreed though he had often teased she had certain charms. His older brothers would snicker and Aegon had known he was too young to understand but could not wait until he would be old enough to understand his father's jokes. He wanted to say something strong and smart but he thought better of it. After all, Lord Corly said watch and listen.

Larys Strong, Lord of Harrenhal, the Master of Whispers was the next man I met. He had the look of Jace and Joff, the brown eyes, the pug nose, the same mouse brown hair. The man spoke with the voice of honey and it made me slightly sick, “Aegon the Younger... We are glad you are well. The Kingdom has worried about your safety.”

“Thank you, Lord Strong. Your Family has always served House Targaryen. Your Father and brother were good loyal men. I appreciate all your works and deeds, as well. They will all be remembered.”

The Old Sea Snake patted me on the shoulder and raised an eyebrow, steering me away from the main table. Lord Corlys whispered to me, "Perhaps you are like your father and less like your grandfather.”

When we returned to my table off the main one, Baela was there. She had been late to the feast. Baela hugged him and laughed “Lady Alicent thought you looked like Father. That old fickle whore! Do not trust that one! Or Lord Larys..”

At some point, Lady Alicent comes to the table with a little girl, standing slightly behind her. She speaks carefully as I scramble to my feet, showing my manners. “Aegon, this is your cousin, Princess Jaehaera. Princess, my dear, this is your cousin, Aegon.”

Jaehaera smiled at me. For the first time in forever, I saw an openness, a willingness to be affectionate. Immediately, she looked guiltily at her grandmother, searching her memory as if she was trying to remember something. She smiled quickly, straightened her golden skirts and extended her hand as if remembering her lines and cues. “I am so glad to meet you, my Lord. We have been waiting for you and my father to return. I just made the trip from Storm's End. I haven't had anyone to play with near my age. Grandmother says you are near to me in age. Your name is Aegon.. Were you named after father?”

I kissed her hand and bowed. I kept her tiny hand in my own, afraid I might be sweating and not sure if and when I should let it go. She was such a tiny thing, so young. This was my future bride.

When she asked the last question, Baela laughed out loud. Tentatively, I looked at the Queen Mother who was looking at her only grandchild as if she grew three heads.

I must have met Jaehaera long ago but I do not remember her, not really. She seems distracted as she stands there. But when she smiles, she is the prettiest thing I have ever seen. She reminds me of a porcelain doll and silver-haired like she was my sister, my mother’s elusive daughter

As I was standing there, under the gaze of the entire court, I remembered a story Father would tell of when he met Laena Velaryon, his second wife. I can remember the soft, almost wistful smile Father would get every time he had told the story. One night before he left, he had told me the story again,

“I had been gone a long time and though I had been around when Laena was born, it was a long time since I had seen her. When I walked in the Driftmark, she was sitting beside her father. I couldn’t see anything, not all the gold that the Sea Snake had gilded everywhere, not her lovely mother, not the clutch of recently hatched dragon eggs, not the harbor full of Braavosi ships, laden with exotic treasure. The only thing I could see was her, Laena. Laena was all the treasure I ever wanted. The only time I never craved a crown was when Laena’s hand was in mine.

At this point, Father leaned in close, as if he was sharing a secret, “One time, Laena picked flowers and made them into a crown. I wore it the whole day, happy. Love makes fools of us, happy fools. If she had lived I would have been happy with my crown of flowers and her smile. Laena understood the simple things. Aegon, marry at least once for love. Promise me.”

Even at the time, I remembered thinking my father was drunk because if he was sober, he would not talk so. My father wanted the crown and the Iron Throne as much as my mother. But it is a nice memory to think he wanted me to love someone, to be loved. In the end, I think my father might have been a bit romantic.

For a moment, I wonder if I will tell our children how I thought she was the prettiest thing I had ever seen and how she had asked if I was named after her father.

 

There is too much food. There are jugglers and musicians. Even a dwarf. The dwarf I remember. Father always liked him. His name is Mushroom. He juggles colored balls and tumbles, even though he seems as old as my mother. When I laugh at his impression of Larys Strong, he sees me and catches my laughter with a look of intelligence. I hear my Father’s voice telling me to not trust him but he might be a friend. He drops all the balls and with great flourish, bows, “My Prince Aegon, we are glad to see you safe and well.”

Mushroom looks to the King and makes a loud farting noise in case the King reads his too much sentiment in it and takes offense. Mushroom placates the King by playing the fool. Perhaps, I could learn from Mushroom. After all, he is still alive when so many are dead.

We end the feast by going out to the balcony and waving to the crowds. It is cold and they are cheering but they are also screaming for food and wood for fires. But the cheers cover up the other yells. After all, King Aegon II has just returned and there is still hope. The King is smiling. The Queen Mother is smiling. Lady Cassandra Baratheon is smiling. Lord Corlys Velaryon is smiling but Princess Jaehaera does not smile. The crowd cheers and I notice how she flinches and the smile runs off her face. The way her shoulders lift I know she does not like the noises of screaming mobs. Her brothers were both murdered. There has been too much screaming, too many murderous crowds.

She looks at me and whispers so only I can hear. “It is always so noisy in the Great Hall and in crowds. I wonder why we always have to entertain so many people. Why do they always have to yell?”

“I agree,” I tell her and squeeze her hand. She smiles and we are friends. It is a start.

Chapter Text

I have more duties now that I am with my father. My grandmother visits me every day. Grandmother looks older. She is thinner and never laughs. She still has her critical stare. That hasn’t changed. Sometimes I think she blames me that only Father and I remain of her whole family. Sometimes I think she wishes Mother chose me to be given to Blood and Cheese. She will look at me and say, “You have your mother’s look, but you will be thinner. She was a pretty child, Helaena.”

 

My days have been busy, almost frantic. In the morning, I have several maids wake me. One of them is my father’s bastard, my sister. My grandmother has kept the girl close. She is roughly my age. Her name is Kelly Waters. She has blonde hair and lilac eyes. Her mother had been one of my Grandmother’s ladies from the Reach. Kelly’s mother died when King’s Landing was invaded by the Blacks. Kelly was named after a color of green.

My Septa comes and teaches me my prayers and lessons. Sometimes, if it is clear out we'll go riding on my horse and Ser Fell and other soldiers. Sometimes, my dancing instructor will teach me to dance. Sometimes, my tutors will come and teach me lessons. When that happens, Aegon, my cousin, will be there to learn with me.

Aegon always has a smile for me but he has a sad quality about him. That is what makes him smile so special.

When we do not have lessons, Aegon visits once a day. He and I will play or talk or read or draw. He loves my drawings and says he does not have the skill but I think he could. He has a keen eye and is observant like a bird. I see him flutter about with song and a silver plumage avoiding danger.

Most of my days are being beside Father in the Great Hall. Recently, we have had word that Lord Borros Baratheon was slain by Lord Tully and his forces broken in the Riverlands. We know that Lord Stark is coming closer. Father wants me close. Father’s moods are volatile now. He has taken to fits of laughter and rage and no one can calm him, not even Jocella. However, since word of her Father’s death, she is all tears.

My father's mood has been foul.

An army of wolves is upon us. The Greens may hold King’s Landing but they have lost. My mother told me before we fled to not trust Father. She patted my head, “He will hurt you… If it is between you and that ugly chair, he will choose the chair. The Iron Throne is all he has and all he thinks about.”

Every night there is a feast, though every night the attendance grows less and less. Tonight the audience is very thin. Word is that anyone who is able is fleeing the city, bribing the City Watch, sneaking into the darkness.

Tonight, Lord Velaryon told him Lord Stark would be outside the gates soon, most likely by morning. The Wolf comes as does winter, wreaking death and vengeance for Princess Rhaenyra. He tells Father that the remaining forces are calling for him to take the Black. He is a Kinslayer and he broke his promise to his father, King Viserys. He murdered his sister.

Father screams, “I will not take the Black! I will not wear black the rest of my days!”

I want to tell him that black is the color of House Targaryen and he has worn it before many times. It would not be too hard. Somehow I know I should not speak.
My father tells Lord Velaryon to cut off Aegon’s ear and send it to Lord Stark. “Tell the Wolf if he comes any closer to the gates of King’s Landing, I will kill the boy. If they kill me, I will kill him. Let us all die together. One big happy family. I will feed Jaehaera myself poisoned wine if they breach the gates.”

His laugh is ugly. I look at Aegon and he looks at me. I look at Father. Lord Velaryon speaks gentle, whispered words in his ear and my father agrees, laughing. His Hand has soothed the King. No blood is spilled tonight. My father calls for his palanquin and Lord Corlys helps him in, handing him his glass before he shuts the door.

As my Septa comes to gather me to bed, I rush to Aegon the Younger and give him a paper flower I have folded for him.

He looks at me confused.

I speak to him, “It is winter and flowers do not grow, so we must make our flowers where we can.”

He smiles at me and says, “When it is not winter, we will have plenty of flowers in the garden again.”

I want to tell him to flee. I know my father will kill him. I have no allies here to help him. Perhaps, he has his own.

I have just gotten in bed in my sleeping dress when the knock is heard on my door and the bells start ringing. My Septa answers the door and Ser Fell and the Hand of the King, Lord Corlys, come in my room. My grandmother has told me not to let any men in my room except Father and Ser Fell. Ser Fell might be a Kingsguard but he is still my shadow, always watching, always wary. My Septa is screeching about how late it is and how they should go.

Lord Velaryon tells me to dress. My Septa pulls out a white dress or pink. Lord Velaryon shakes his head. “Dress her in black or red. Her Father, the King, is dead and she is all that is left of his line and Head of the Greens. Put her in black.”

“Father is dead?” I ask him.

He kneels at me, “Yes, Princess.”

“Is Aegon alright, my Lord? Is he safe? Did Father…”

“He is safe. I must go to see him on the Iron Throne and you will join him there.”

“My Grandmother?” I only ask because she is family and it is important to protect family.

“I have put her in her rooms until after Lord Stark swears fealty and sees Aegon on the throne. It is for her safety.”

 

I remember when Morghul died. It was night and I woke screaming. I remember when I heard Mother died and I hurt myself crying for her. I remember weeping for Maelor. I remember when Jaehaerys died I felt as though a piece of me died. However, I feel nothing but relief that Father is dead. I wonder what is wrong with me.

As quick as he came, Lord Velayron leaves. Ser Fell speaks waking me from my thoughts, “Hurry, Princess. The bells are ringing. The King is dead. The gates are open. Lord Stark and his men are in the city. We must get you to the Throne Room quickly.”

I dress quickly, obediently, and silently. My Septa scurried around, weeping, “We should wake the maids to help braid her hair.”

Ser Fell speaks roughly, “There is no time! We must get the child to the Throne Room. Do you think that old bastard Velaryon has woken maids to get Aegon dressed? Hurry, woman!”

 

Ser Fell picks me up and one of my shoes was falls in the darkness of the hallway. He starts to run. All I can hear are the bells tolling and my heart pounding. This is the end. He carries me through the halls. I am looking over his shoulder, as the hallways grow long. The bells are loud and I think how I should be afraid but I am not. I think how my lord Father put Gaemon to the lash at the age of five and I wonder what punishment will be meted out to me.

I ask, my arms around Ser Fell’s neck, “Will Lord Stark beat me for being a traitor like father did to Gaemon, or will he throw me in the Black Cells?”

Ser Fell stops and looks at me. “Princess, you must trust that Lord Stark is an honorable man and he has stated you will come to no harm. We must hurry but I would not rush you towards and unsafe place.”

I think of the story of Aegon's mother, my aunt Rhaenyra, who I can't remember. I think how her Queensguard all died, defending her in a place they thought she would be safe. I think how I would cry if Ser Fell falls. I would cry hard like when Morghul died or Jaehaerys.

I speak again, not meaning to be disobedient or willful. “Ser, you have been my good and faithful servant and sworn shield all these months, my only protection. Please do not do anything foolish to save me. I am the daughter of Aegon II and will take whatever judgment is measured out. I accept my fate but I would not see you hurt. Promise me…”

“Shhh... Princess, we must away”

When we enter the Throne Room, Aegon is on the Iron Throne. They have Mother’s chair beside it and a small step stool. Ser Fell sets me down, “Go, Princess.”

I walk up all the steps and when I reach the top, Aegon steps off the Throne and helps me to my chair by his side. Lord Velayron is beside him. He smiles at me, “Jaehaera, we will be safe.”

When he sits, there is a great clatter and the doors to the Throne Room open. On a huge black war horse, a man in bloody armor comes. It is Cregan Stark and his men rush into the room.

He comes up the stairs, taking two or three at a time. When he reaches the top, he kneels in front of Aegon III and swears his fealty. When they are done speaking, Lord Starks kneels before me.

Lord Stark, with his ice eyes, asks me “How are you, Princess?”

I extend my hand and say “I am Princess Jaehaera Targaryen and I am very well, my Lord. Welcome to King’s Landing.”

He laughs and it is a gruff, welcome sound. Aegon looks over him and smiles. Perhaps, no one will be hurt this time.

Chapter Text

Cregan Stark is my Hand for one day. I like Cregan Stark. He is honest and not given to flattery. He is honorable. I want to ask him to stay but he will not. Instead, he tells me that he will stay for my wedding and then he will leave. I wonder if he seems my anxiety because he tells me, “Your Grace, I will come back. Your brother promised my House a Targaryen princess. I will come back frequently to check in on you and your bride. If you have need of me, send word.”

“I will, Lord Stark. Your service to my House will be rewarded.”

He looks at me, “Your Grace, I do not trust many here at court. I would say you could trust Lord Tyland and Lord Torrhen. If you have any trouble send word and I will come to your aid.”

Lord Cregan sounds like strength and action to me and I am certain he never feels the weight of hopelessness or sadness I feel. In one day, he has tried all the men he felt responsible and two of their heads dress the ramparts. He will take the rest of them and go North. He will leave after my wedding. It is strange that I will miss him when he is a stranger.

I wonder why he tells me to talk to Lord Tyland and not Lord Corlys. I do not understand why he hates him so much but it has taken all of Rhaena’s and Baela’s cunning, as well as the beautiful, raven-haired Lady Alys Blackwood’s hand to allow him free from the Black Cells.

I am hoping these dark thoughts I have will lessen in the days to come. I know I am young and I have seen too much and time heals all wounds and all the other sayings people say to me to try and make me smile. I have stopped telling people what I think because I know it worries them. I do not mean to make anyone uncomfortable. I mean to be the best King I can be. I mean to never go to war and keep the people fed and well.

Sometimes, I think to take the ceremonial dagger at my hip and cut myself to watch the blood, to feel the pain, and perhaps, it might lessen. Sometimes, I think to step out the window and fall to the stones below or to walk into the sea and join Viserys and Jace. Sometimes. It is strange that for all those days since my Mother’s death, my death was a certainty. Now that I am King and my life is more certain, I find myself thinking of my death more and more.

I approach Lord Tyland’s study cautiously. I do not want to be a bother and I have seen how he looks when he hears me enter a room as if I am filled with the worst of intentions. But Lord Stark said he would be trustworthy and I know he would not steer me wrong. Lord Tyland has just returned from Pentos and Braavos.

I have found when I do things for others it helps me get through the hardest of days. I will be married in two days and I fear that my hesitancy to speak to Lord Tyland might mean I will not be able to have a gift for my bride, Princess Jaehaera.

Jaehaera is the strangest of girls. She rarely smiles or laughs but sometimes, she will if we are alone. She reads as often as she can and she is much better at her studies than I am. However, if the Maester or Septa try to teach her something, she becomes stubborn or willful and acts as if she cannot learn or even speak. Often, the only thing that will stop her is threatening to spank Gaemon. But she is to be my wife and I find that it is comforting that she will be mine and I hers for the rest of our days. After all, she understands what it is to be an orphan and to have all your siblings be taken from you when they were too young. I sometimes wonder if she has dark thoughts as I do.

My sisters, Rhaena and Baela, have different opinions about her. Baela says she is simple like Targaryens sometimes are. She calls her odd and stupid. Baela thinks she must get it from her mother, Helaena, who threw herself out a window. I think to myself that I will never tell Baela about my dark thoughts or sadness. I do not think I mind if she is simple and odd, or even a little mad. Madness is something I might struggle with myself.

Rhaena says she will be fat like Queen Helaena was. I do not think I will care if she gets some weight. After all, Mother had grown fat after giving birth to all her sons. Father had called her curvy. What a curvy wife meant was there was plenty of food and many happy children. All of that seemed like a good life to me. Wasn't that what a happy life was? I had told both of them, “I hope she is plump and eats lots of cakes. I think that would be a fine thing.”

This had made them laugh and tease me more about my upcoming wedding.

I knock on the door and the young man who helps Lord Tyland opens the door, bows, and grants me entrance.

Lord Tyland rises, slightly unsteadily and welcomes me, “Your Grace, please come in. I did not expect your visit. How may I help you?”

Lord Tyland wears a crimson silk hood because people find it disturbing to look in his empty eye sockets and his difigured face. I know it is morbid but I wish he would remove it so I could see what really happened. It is a morbid faacination. As I sit in front of him, all I can think is Mother did that to this man. Lord Tyland looks at me, seeing nothing, facing the direction of my voice. Lord Tyland has been gelded, his fingers on his right hand are broken and he walks like an old man. All these things are Mother’s work. For a moment, I think of all I can remember about Lord Tyland and all I can think of is how many days he was held prisoner and under my mother’s torturer’s skilled hand.

 

I speak, hearing the hesitation in my voice. “My Lord, Mother had several rings removed before she was executed. I was hoping that I might have one of them.”

“What do you want with your mother’s rings?”

I wish my voice sounded more kingly. Instead, all I hear is a sad boy’s voice. “I do not want all six, just one of them. The Fire Opal. The setting is thick in a Tyroshi fashion. My father had given it to my mother on the day they were wed. It is a Tyroshi custom. Mother said when I wed I would be given it to give to my bride. Now, that I will marry the Princess. I would like to give it to the Princess.”

Tyland speaks, “Why do you think the Princess would want anything your mother wore on her fingers, especially something given to her by your father? Your parents are responsible for all her grief, for all the grief of the Seven Kingdoms.”

When Lord Tyland says mother, it sounds like he is saying monster or whore. I know he hates me, despises me, but he will respect me some day. He will kneel to me and my children. He is angry and as I look over the injuries that have been done to him, he is right to be angry.

I think back to the dark days when we fled King’s Landing, Mother and I. Joffrey had died and all we had was a few Kingsguards, a bag of gold, some horses, her crown, and a few dragon eggs. Since Ser Lyonel Bentley was killed by the broken men on the frozen road, Mother has gotten worse, more afraid, more I can remember the crack in his skull and the grey material that lay underneath the blood. Mostly, I remember his screaming as he died in the wagon, screaming that we were all cursed, that we would all die in the fire and blood.

We had made it to the Dun Fort at Duskendale. The town was strangely quiet and half of it was a burned ruin. When they had reached the gates of the Dun Fort, Lady Darklyn had not wanted them to stay. House Stokeworth and Rosby had turned them away. Finally, Lady Meredith had relented after Ser Darke brought up Prince Aegon and an egg, a dragon’s egg.

Ser Darke had convinced his mother to give up one of the eggs for their safety, for one night of rest. Lady Meredith had relented Saying, “As a mother, I could not turn away the Prince. For the Prince. One night for your son,” she said smiling a smile at Aegon but Lady Meredith stroked the egg in her hand.

Syrax had had a clutch of four eggs in the stables at the Red Keep, a moon before she died. It had been seen a sign of certain victory for the Blacks. Mother had not protested too much when she had turned over the egg. Strangely, she seemed quiet and proud, reserved.

Later that night, as she lay beside me in a guest room, Mother had been unsettled and sat up in bed, twisting her rings. Since Syrax’s and Joff’s death, she had to sleep beside me, constantly waking me throughout the night, to touch me and make sure I was still breathing. Even though I was not quite ten, I knew Mother was not well.

Mother spoke, laughing a broken laugh, “That stupid, old cow demanding I give her one of my eggs. She will get hers. She will. We must remember House Darklyn. Aegon, help Mama remember. Well, that dumb whore doesn’t know I gave her the smallest egg. The golden one. Let her have the golden egg. It reminded me of the Usurper. It is his color. Let House Darklyn have a traitor's egg. It will be a curse on their House.”

 

I spoke, taking Mother’s hand, trying to soothe her, “Do not worry, Mother. What is one dragon egg? We will have more, many more.”

Mother hugged me close, whispering. Her eyes were overbright and she was flushed. “I will tell you a secret, Aegon. Your father did not leave us all alone. His baby grows inside me. He left me one more before he died. A sister. We will name her Rhaenys and you will marry her.”

At these words, she had taken my hand and put it on her stomach, a big smile breaking her face. There was no movement, no hard bulge, nothing like when she had been pregnant with Visenya. I had a thought that my mother was lost in her madness and I would be left alone with this mad woman. There was no baby or else she would have told everyone before now. She had created one in her grief.

I had spoken quietly, in the darkness, “This is great news. Mama, all will be well. We will go to Dragonstone and hatch the eggs. You will have Rhaenys and we will be a family, safe and well.”

Mother had continued her litany, “We must punish all those who stood against us! House Baratheons, House Lannister, the Hightowers! Remember all of them, Aegon. We will hatch these eggs. We will have three more dragons, a three-headed dragon. Do not worry, Aegon. All will be well. I will get my throne back! It is my birthright and one day you will be King. The gods decree it. We will punish all of our enemies.”

At this, I took my mother in my arms, like she was the child and I was the parent, “Yes, Mother. All will be well as soon as we get home to Dragonstone.”

Before she had fallen asleep, she had told me, “And when you marry, I will give you this ring, the ring your father gave me on my wedding day. All will come full circle. All will be well.”

 

I look at Lord Tyland Lannister and his injuries. It has been said he once wooed my mother and was one of her suitors. Now he hates her. He spoke against her claim for the throne. I think about his words, and I want to correct him, to tell him it was his words and his King and the King’s brothers that escalated all of this, that caused all the grief. Instead, I look at his face. There is no reason to avert my eyes to the damage that has been done. My defensive words will not change his mind. The Black Cells have hardened his truth.

I take a deep breath and think what Jace would do. Jace had charm and wit, as well as wisdom. I speak, “That is true, my Lord. My Mother caused grief across the Seven Kingdoms. But since my wedding to the Princess is a sign of the war ending and the Greens and Blacks coming together united as one. I was hoping to give her a token of my affection and loyalty to her. It might build trust and show my affection. I have been told that the Princess has an affinity for silver and the setting is lovely, as is Jaehaera. It is the only thing I have of any worth that I could give her. She is the daughter of the true King and I am the son of two traitors. But we need to rebuild and heal. Lord Stark says winter has come and we must band together to brave it together. They say once you delighted in my mother’s attention and pursued her hand in marriage. We all have made mistakes but now is time to forgive and move on. Much has been lost. We need to rebuild what we can when we can.”

Lord Tyland says, “Your Grace, I do not know where it is. It may have been lost. It may be on Dragonstone still.”

I thank him and leave his study, wondering how I will ever survive all of this, wondering how anything will ever heal.

On the morning of my wedding day, a messenger brings a box from Lord Tyland Lannister. In it was his mother's ring, the Fire Opal in a silver Tyroshi setting.

Chapter Text

The bells of the Sept have rung fifty-seven times since I started counting. I do not know why I keep counting but I do. It is repetitive and comforting and it calms me. I am sure Aegon does not mind. He sits beside me during the feast. There are so many lords, ladies, knights, so many people in the great hall. They all come up to our table and pay their respects, wish us well, kiss my hand. Lord Corlys sits beside Aegon.

Occasionally, when Aegon looks sad or brooding, Lord Corlys will lean in and whisper a joke in his ear. Aegon smiles sometimes but does not laugh. I wonder what jokes he tells him.

When I am too distracted and play with the ring Aegon gave me on a silver chain, listening to the soft click as the metal rushes of the links in the chain, Grandmother pinches me on my arm. She pinches me when I am distracted or do not smile, or play with the ring or do anything I am not supposed too. I am certain my underarm is black and blue from all the pinches I have endured from her during my wedding feast. I think I would rather Lord Corlys sat on my side.

On the ride to Visenya's Hill where the stands and a huge platform was built for our wedding, Aegon took my gloved hand in his. My gloves were green and his were black. The streets were full of well-wishers, screaming our names, even if it was a bitterly cold winter day. It is the coldest winter it has been in my whole life, at least that is what the Grand Maester said. The sea is frozen on the bay and children ice skate on it. None of the fountains work because the water is frozen. Grandmother makes me wear a white fur cloak to keep warm.

He looked out the leaded pane and takes a breath. Looking at me he smiled, “You seem to be nervous. Do not be.“

I remember what Grandmother told me to say to him. “Your Grace, I will be loyal. I will be obedient. I will swear this day and all of my days to help you any way I can.”

Aegon squeezes my cold hand. As he speaks, his words are smoke from the cold, “There is no need for all that. We are cousins. We are all that is left of our House. We are a family. Soon, you will be my wife. Do not be so formal. We should be friends.”

We stand in front of the High Septon in the open air, my breath is a puff of smoke and I fear my nose might be runny. I wonder if Mother and Father are watching from the Seven Heavens or the Seven Hells. I wonder if Aegon’s mother and father are watching, as well. I wonder what they must think. The Septon has me repeat some words. Aegon ties a dragon cloak around my shoulders and kisses me on the forehead. It is a brotherly kiss, a kiss Jaehaerys would give me or Uncle Aemond.

There is a feast, big but not extravagant. After all, the kingdom is starving and winter is here, but it is big enough to say a King and Queen are married on this day. There are musicians, fools, jugglers, and fire-breathers. There are performances and songs written about us. All of them speak of how we will heal the nation. All of them say how our son will be the greatest King of all time. However, everyone will have to wait for some time for Aegon and me to have a child.

When we are done eating the food, I lean in and ask my husband, “Your Grace, could we send the food to the orphans in Flea Bottom? They are starving.”

 

“Of course,” he says, in agreement.

As the day progresses, couples dance on the floor. Some kiss. We do not do either. I do not mind. I do not want all those people to watch me. I do not want their eyes and judgment on me. It is sunset when the bedding is called.

I know this is not a typical bedding. I am too young. Aegon is too young. I have not seen a wedding before ours, not one I remember. I wonder what a typical one must be like. I am certain it is surely not as grim as mine is. The High Septon walks us to our rooms. Aegon and I walk behind him. My Grandmother behind me. Lord Corlys behind him. Behind them are all the lords and ladies come to see us put to bed and our enmity put to rest.

When the King’s chambers are opened, I hear the sound escape my lips. There must be a hundred candles and the room is beautiful. The bed is all red and black, black velvet and red petals on the white sheet. Blackfyre lays from the head to the foot of the bed, dividing it between his space and mine Blackfyre is sheathed in its scabbard, so we will not be wounded by its deadly blade.

As soon as I enter the room, I am ushered behind a screen where several maids quickly help me out of my wedding dress and into a simple white nightdress. Then, they gently push me into the room. I see that Aegon has had a similar experience and is pushed out in a similar nightdress. Slowly, the Lords enter the room and circle the bed to watch us, to verify and bear witness; Lord Stark, Lord Lannister, Lord Tully, Lord Manderly, Lord Velaryon, Lord Peake, Lord Blackwood, the High Septon, my Grandmother, Rhaena, and Baela. They watch me climb in bed in my nightdress on the left side and Aegon climbs on the right side.

Blackfyre separates us and joins us. It will lay there until they say I am old enough to bear children. My Grandmother told me so, and she makes it her business to know everything.

 

Someone lays a sheet on us. The High Septon blesses us and sprinkles the sheets with Holy Oil. I lay there and look at the ceiling. Slowly, the lords and ladies drift out each with their blessings. Some make bawdy comments and laugh, slightly drunk. I do not understand most of them. My Grandmother has said she will stay here all night to make sure Aegon does not misuse me. However, after a while, she leaves too. Perhaps, she has more pressing concerns. She has told me that our situation has become more precarious.

 

Ser Fell waits. It is his job to protect me. He will stay and stand in darkness. He walks behind a partition and he has my heavy quilt, the one that I need to sleep.

Ser Fell speaks, “Your Grace, your wife, the Queen, finds it easier to sleep with this heavy blanket on her. Would that please your Grace, if I placed it on you?

I wait for laughter or a refusal. After all, I am not a baby but the Queen. Instead, I hear Aegon say, “That would please me a great deal. My wife’s happiness is my pleasure.”

Aegon smiles a sad smile. He speaks kingly words but he is just an orphaned child, like me. We are both alone and different. Strange children that do not laugh. Underneath the quilt, I reach over Blackfyre and take his hand. I squeeze it and he squeezes me back.

I turn to him like I did when Jaehaerys and I would speak in bed. “I am glad to have a family again but I am even more glad to have a friend.”

“Me too, Jaehaera. You are Queen. You are my wife and family. No one will hurt you, I promise.”

 

I think to myself that he still has two sisters but then I think better of it. Instead, I think of my sore arm, all pinched and purple, from my Grandmother trying to correct me. Sometimes, hurt is necessary. After all, our situation is precarious and I make too many mistakes. I think that Aegon should not promise that no one will hurt me. He cannot keep that promise. Sometimes, those closest to us are the ones who hurt us. Sometimes, even the King cannot stop hurting.

Chapter Text

 

When I sit on the Iron Throne, I have dark thoughts like when will it cut me like it did my uncle and mother? I wonder if it would kill me like Maegor the Cruel, though in the end perhaps the Iron Throne kills all the Kings that have sat on it. My moods are dark as the cells they kept me in at Dragonstone, as dark as the blinding shadow that Sunfyre left when his golden fire burned mother, as dark as Stormcloud's wings, as dark and craven as my heart.

It is hard for me to get out of bed. Gaemon comes to cheer me up. Baela will come and make me wash my face. But every muscle in my body hurts. I should not be King. I should not have survived Jace or Joff or Viserys. I should have taken Viserys on Stormcloud. I should not have been so craven. The kingdom is starving, sick, and freezing and I cannot even get up from my bed. Even if I could, the Regents would not let me do anything.

Jaehaera comes. She stands silently like a ghost, her hands folded. I think I have a premonition that she will be dead before the year's end. I want to touch her hand but I cannot move. She is simple and sweet and childlike. She holds a doll. "Your Grace, Aegon, are you unwell?"

"No, I am fine."

She looks at me bending down to see me in the darkness. "Would you like to play?"

"No...Not today."

She flees crying saying something about how I am like her mother before she died. Maybe, I should throw myself from my window onto the iron spikes that surround Maegor's Holdfast. I could not do that to Jaehaera. She would be Queen and alone in this terrible place, unprotected. I fear no one can help me. No one can save me from myself. I cannot move from the dark. All is lost.

My Hand comes. Lord Lannister wears his red hood. He has become kinder to me, gentle, almost. I find I look forward to his meetings with me. Lord Lannister comes to tell me the news that there is the start of sickness in the Seven Kingdoms, He has told him that people are hungry and this will make them more susceptible to illness. Lord Lannister has said it would do the small folk good to see their King and that I should leave my bed. He tells me that the Queen is often crying. He speaks, "Perhaps, Your Grace, if you went to console your wife. She weeps and is sad. I have found when I am overwhelmed and in despair. Sometimes, it helps to bring care to others. Sometimes, it can help us. Perhaps, it would help, your Grace."

I think about it but find I do not have the energy. 

My sullenness and melancholy usually make people disappear. I could drown in my silence drown in the darkness of my bed sheets never move until the darkness and my grief swallows me. I do not know how long I lie there. At night, I cannot sleep. I pace the length of my room. In the day, I cannot rise.

My wife stands over me looking at me. Finally, she speaks, "They say the Blackwater is frozen and small folk are skating on it. We could go to see it. Grandmother said we should not but I would like to see.”

I wonder why she won't go away like Baeala and Rhaena, like the Maesters.

I breathe out slowly as if it takes all my strength to move and roll over looking at her “Yes let's go out today. Rhaena has said there is a doll maker that makes beautiful dolls and to see the Blackwater frozen that would be a sight. Perhaps, you could wait for me while I dress."

She had looked like she might cry but she smiles a slight smile. The tears that threatened to fall from her beautiful purple eyes disappear.

 

It is a huge procession when the King and Queen leave the Red Keep but Lord Lannister does not stop them. We ride out in a palanquin that has the three-headed dragon carved and painted on both sides. There are five Kingsguard that accompany us, as well as regular soldiers from the City Watch. Even though it is cold, the people come to the streets to see the King and Queen pass. Occasionally, my Queen will wave to the children but her eyes look fearful. I remember what a crowd did to her brother.

We go to the shopkeeper first. The man is thin and tells us of how he stayed in Oldtown with a cousin during the war. He talks of the price of bread and how much meat has risen in cost. He tells me that he has only recently returned to work now that King's Landing is safe for an honest tradesman and his stock is light still. There are only a few dozen cloth ones, a few wooden ones, and some wooden animals. On the high shelf, there is one doll made with porcelain with silver hair and purple eyes.

Jaehaerys eyes lighten.

I speak, "Good man, how much for this doll?"

The man bows and scrapes around, unsure what to do with the King here, "Your Grace, your father once bought dolls for your sisters here."

I do not want to hear this man’s stories or trade pleasantries. I want to buy a doll. I look to the Kingsguard who always watches Jaehaera, Ser Fell, to pay the man which he does.

When they hand his wife the doll, her eyes grow big. In the carriage, she holds it like a baby, cooing gently to it and holding it softly. I smile and think that my Hand may be right. The day has helped me. We stop by the Blackwater. It is solid and unmoving, like a stage of ice or a road. The smallfolk skate upon it. There are vendors on the ice, hawking their wares. Ser Fell gets us some roasted chestnuts and I peel them for her and myself, munching on them the way back to the Red Keep.

 

Later she comes to my room. I am in bed. She climbs next to me, holding the doll still. She is smiling and I think I have not seen her smile so often as I have today. "Your Grace, what shall we name our baby?"

"Our baby?"

She lifts up the doll in her arms, "Our baby."

I feel a smile break my face and sit up, "Jaehaera, why don't we name her Helaena after your mother?"

"No. No, not Mother. Maybe we could name her Alyssa after our Great-Grandmother. Then she will be both Black and Green. Like all our children."

I smile again and touch the doll, "I think Alyssa is a fine name for a good girl."

Chapter Text

Winter Fever is upon us. It is a terrible thing. Every day more die. Ser Fell has locked the Red Keep to keep the sickness from us. But the Winter Fever is too big to be kept out by locks and gates.

My Lady Tyshara says that three out of four people who catch the Fever will perish. Yesterday, Lady Cassandra, another one of my attendants, said that the smell of the dead would smother King’s Landing. Only the freeze of this dark winter has kept the dead from rotting. She laughed and said in Flea Bottom all the children are fat from eating the dead. She laughed and her face got mean as she said, “It’s the first time there are fat bellies in FleaBottom.”

I started to cry, thinking of children eating dead bodies, and she pinched me. Lady Cassandra is often mean to me. Lady Cassandra Baratheon would never pinch me if Ser Fell was my personal shield again. But he is the Lord Commander now and he has a great many responsibilities. Lady Cassandra calls me a crybaby and says the King will tire of me. She says I am a child and everyone can see Aegon is becoming a man, a handsome man she says in a sigh. When we are alone, Lady Bethany tells me that Cassandra is jealous because she wanted to be Queen.

I think of my poor father and his terrible injuries and his temper and silently, I am glad he never married Lady Cassandra Baratheon. She would not be a good Mother.

Cassandra is not the only woman who looks at my husband and talks of his looks, of his height, of his figure. Many ladies in the court look at the King differently.

I look at my husband and I only see Aegon. He has grown a bit taller and his shoulders are thicker. He has started to grow hair on his chin and I have heard Gaemon giggled that the King needs to shave. Mushroom says even more things I don’t understand but everyone laughs, except Aegon. Of course, Aegon rarely laughs when there is anyone around. Usually, he only laughs for me and Gaemon.

Since Aegon has started to grow taller and become more a man, Ser Fell has tried to get him to practice more. He tries to tempt him by saying if he gets good enough, Ser Fell will let nim wear Blackfyre on his hip. The King does not care for Blackfyre or the honor of wielding it. The King does not care to practice or fight. Ser Fell makes him practice at least an hour every day regardless that my husband does not have the heart for it.

Every night at bedtime, Lord Fell comes to my room to make sure I am well and good. I forget he is the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard now and still call him Ser Fell, instead of Lord. But Ser Fell never gets cross with me as others do. One night, I told Lord Fell, “Aegon has a broken heart and is too hurt to practice. ’But Grandmother once told me all broken things can be mended. Hearts can be healed I am certain.”

He smiled at me and nodded, “Of course, Your Grace.”

 

My days have a routine. I wake and my ladies help me dress. My ladies are Tyshara Lannister, Cassandra Baratheon, and Bethany Hightower, who is a distant cousin to me. Tyshara and Bethany are always kind and pleasant but Cassandra is mean whenever she sees an opportunity and will tug at my hair sharply.

After breakfast, I go to see my Grandmother, every day in her cell. It is a well-lighted room but there is a lock on the door and she is only allowed a single maid and no knives. Grandma has grown so much older in two years. She has grown forgetful and sometimes speaks in riddles. She asks when her son Daeron will come and sometimes she mistakes me for my mother, Helaena. One time she called me my mother’s name and asked for my brother Jaehaerys. I began to cry because I remember well the night when Jaehaerys head was cut clean off his body and taken in a sack by two men. I remember the blood pouring onto the floor and all over my hands as mother screamed and tore at her face. Maelor had cried and I had covered his face with my skirts and held him close.

I began to cry from the terrible memories. After that, the Hand of the King, Lord Lannister said I still had to see her every day but I did not have to stay for the entire hour, especially when Grandmother was particularly forgetful.

After Grandmother, I have my studies with a tutor. My Septa, Maira, comes to accompany. Sometimes, I will have dance lessons or riding lessons. Sometimes, they will try to teach me to speak Valyrian but I do not have the ear for languages. They get my brain twisted with the letters and sounds.

Sometimes, when Aegon is able to leave his bed, he will come to studies. He usually sends Gaemon, his food taster. At first, the tutors complained of Gaemon presence, because he is a commoner and a pretender, but the Hand said the King desired it. Aegon only goes to the classes once or twice a week but he is so much more clever than I or Gaemon. He seems to know more and he never studies.

At supper, I always see the King. We eat every night in his chambers. Sometimes, he does not eat. Sometimes, he wears his nightclothes and looks unwell. Sometimes, he is well-dressed and looks very fine. Sometimes, on those nights, when Aegon is well, he will have a gift for me.

 

The King has given me five more beautiful Lysene dolls with purple eyes and silver hair. I thank him each time and smile. The King always smiles back and Aegon rarely smiles.

I do not tell anyone, not even my ladies but I pretend the six of them are the children we will have in the future. The doll’s names change but there are always three boys and three girls. I wonder what our real babies will look like and what it will be like to hold them. I am certain I will be a good mother. Then, we will have a family again, a real family.

One night, the King comes to my room. I am putting down the babies in their cribs and chairs. Aegon looks at me quizzically, “What are you doing?”

As I cover one of the dolls with a small knitted blanket, I smile, “I pretend they are real babies, our babies, and that I care for them. I pretend that we are a family, a real family. You are the father and I am the Mother and these are our babies.”

I watch Aegon look at each one of them. He takes my hand, “When the time comes, I will keep them all safe. I promise, Jaehaera, I will keep all of them safe and you, too. I will keep you all safe.”

I smile and nod, but then I think of Father and how he could not keep Jaehaerys or Maelor safe. They both died. Hesitantly, I ask, “Your Grace, how will you do that?”

“I will learn. I will figure it out.”

Aegon’s face seems troubled and his brow is lined with worry. I take his hand, “Aegon, I can help you. I can figure it out as well.”

After that, I try to study harder when my tutor comes. I ask questions about how to rule, what makes a good ruler, and most importantly, how can a queen keep peace in the kingdom. After all, we were all safe before the War and winter. Aegon comes more frequently to study with us. He asks fewer questions but always seems to understand without asking.

 

One night, at dinner, we receive word that Aegon’s sister, Rhaena, is with child. It is maybe the coldest day of winter. Even though there is a fire in the hearth, we shiver. It is so cold that I wear leggings under my dress. I look up at Aegon, “I would like to have a Ball when spring comes.

“Why?” he looks up from his soup, almost guilty.

“Well... because I have learned all these dances with my dancing instructor, and if we do not have a ball, I will never use them.”

He looks at me, “But, Jae.. you don't like crowds?”

I consider what he says. Then I speak, “That is true but I think I do like to dance. Perhaps, dancing will make the crowds more bearable.”

Aegon frowns and looks in his soup, “My lady, if you want a Ball, we will have one.”

The King looks faraway, “Jae, I am worried. The people out there beyond the Red Keep are very ill. Our people. They are dying… There is a belief among the smallfolk that if a King lays his hands on you, a person will heal. It is called the King’s Touch.”

I look at him, “Aegon, you have touched me before and I have never felt any different. Father was King and he couldn’t heal himself or Mother. That is silliness.”

Aegon sits up and I realize he does not look like a boy. I look in the mirror and realize that I still am very much a girl. He speaks, “I know… but maybe it would bring them peace. I must do something. I must.”

I realize he will be a good man when he is one. But I am still a child and I am afraid, “But Aegon, what if you get sick? Or die? What will happen? To Me? To the Kingdom?”

“You will be Queen and you will have Lord Tyland, Lord Fell and all the Regents to help you. You will be safe.”

Suddenly, I think of him dead. I begin to cry. In a rush of emotion, I tell him of Cassandra and how she pinches me and calls me names. I see the anger cross his brow and then it disappears. Aegon speaks, “Do not worry, Jae. I will take care of that.”

The next day, my quiet world and peaceful schedule are changed forever. When I wake Cassandra Baratheon is replaced by Myrielle Peake. I ask the plain-faced girl, “Where is Lady Cassandra?”

Lady Myrielle says that Lady Cassandra has been called to other tasks and from now on, she will be here to help me. Lady Myrielle seems more affable and gentle to me but she talks even more about how handsome the King is.

When I go to see my Grandmother, the maester tells me I cannot pass. Grandmother Alicent is ill with the Winter Fever.

Aegon stops coming to dinner or lessons. I hear he is the only one that they let near the sick, even though Lord Tyland hates it, saying he cannot bear to think of the risk to the King. But I hear that the King loves to minister to the sick and it brings the sick great comfort.

My tutor gets sick and my lessons are canceled. The Winter Fever is raging through the castle. The days grow long with no lessons or dinners with Aegon. We are forced to stay in my rooms.

One night, Lady Bethany wakes me gently to tell me my Grandmother has died. Lady Bethany weeps prettily in her handkerchief. I wish I could cry but I do not feel sad. Lord Tyland has Grandmother buried at the Sept of Baelor but we cannot have a funeral because he will not risk us outside the Red Keep where the Winter Fever still rages. One night, Lord Fell does not come to my room. In the morning, I hear from Lady Tyshara that Lord Fell has caught the Winter Fever.

As soon as I am dressed, I rush to Aegon’s rooms. I find him sleeping. He looks tired and I wonder how much sleep he has been getting. “Your Grace, please use your King’s Touch. Please go to Ser Fell. He was my sworn shield. He has kept me safe. Please, Aegon. Heal him”

Aegon pulls his body from the bed and says, “Of course.”.

It is several days later I hear Ser Fell is getting better. That night, Aegon comes to my room before bed. He looks tired but he was bathed and dressed in fresh clothes before he came to my rooms. He speaks, “I thought Lord Fell was too far... He had taken a turn for the worse but Lord Fell came back. He will be recovering for a few days but I think he is out of danger.”

I am so happy. I take his hand and squeeze it. He smiles, “My lady… Jae, I am glad you are happy.”

Aegon leaves almost as quickly as he came.

In the next few days as Ser Fell recuperates, it seems the Winter Fever has run its course. Many are dead but everyone says it is passing. There are no new cases. The gates to the Red Keep are reopened and Grand Maester Munkun is back. He tells us that he feels the threat is over.

That very night, Lord Tyland is said to come down with the Winter Fever. Lady Bethany tells me the story of how the King, my husband, attends to him for two days but to no avail. The Hand passes.

It is very late at night when the King comes knocking at my door. .Lord Fell is with him. Aegon looks haggard, half-crazed. He is yelling for the ladies to leave us. They scatter in their nightdresses with their hair loose out of the room. Even my Septa is asked to leave. Septa protests her removal but Ser Fell does not listen to her protests.

When everyone leaves, Aegon hugs me. It is awkward because he has grown tall in the last few months and I am slow to grow. As he pulls me close, I can feel his body seems hesitant to touch, hesitant to feel. I understand. He has felt so much. He does not want to feel more. He leans against my shoulder, curling over me. Aegon’s breath is erratic and it sounds like he is crying. I hold him tight like when Shrykos died and I felt it all the way at Storm’s End, the burning, heart-rending pain. Ser Fell held me tight and it helped. Maybe, this will help Aegon.

I do not know what to say. I rub his back like my Mother used to when I was sad. I ask one question, “What has happened Aegon?”

“Lord Tyland is dead.”

I say no more words and I ask no more questions. After all, what are words to grief and loss? They do nothing. Instead, I hold him closer.

Chapter Text

Things have changed after Lord Tyland died. Lord Unwin Peake has named himself my Hand. Grand Maester Muchin is Lord Peake's ally in all things. They do not allow me to name my own knights to the Kingsguard or my own men to my Small Council. The Hand, Lord Peake, calls me a boy and treats me as such and not as his King. I had named Lord Alyn Velaryon, my good brother, to be my Master of Ships and Lord Thaddeus Rowan to be my Hand, but Lord Peake took the notes and burned them. He gave Master of Ships to his kin, Lord Gedmund Peake, and kept the position of Hand for himself.

The Red Keep is full of Peake men and soldiers. Tessario and the Fingers of the Hand lurk around the Red Keep doing Peake's work and bidding.

Lord Commander Fell is my only ally and it is only by his power was Ser Robin Darklyn kept to be on my Kingsguard. I choose Ser Massey and Ser Darklyn as my Kingsguard nomination to replace the two who died. Lord Peake protests but Lord Fell is the Lord Commander. Ser Darklyn remains but Ser Massey is sent home. Instead, Ser Mervyn Flowers joins the other spot by the Hand's command. Lord Fell tells me to be patient, to wait.

Yesterday, Lord Peake was heard to say that it is too bad that my Queen is a simple child, as simple children are known to be accident-prone. I do not go to Small Council meetings but I have been told many times that Lord Peake has said things like this about my Queen. I have told Lord Fell to summon Baela and Rhaena, my sisters. I fear to bring them here and the danger I put them in. I know they have little love for Jaehaera due to her father but they love me, and I have need of them. They are strong and do not fear men like Peake. They have Father's spirit.

Lady Myrielle Peake, Lord Peake's only daughter, finds me whenever she can, in the garden, in a hallway, in the library. I barely leave my rooms but if I do, she will be there. I know Lord Peake has arranged the whole thing. Myrielle is always demanding my help or asking a question. I never leave my rooms anymore trying to avoid her.

Last night, Lord Peake said I must come to dinner in the Great Hall to celebrate the new positions on my Small Council. My Queen was not there and they told me she was weeping again, too emotional to leave her room. Lady Myrielle placed her had on my knee and squeezed. The way her hand lingered there made me sure of her intentions. Lord Fell saw the pale had of Lady Peake on my thigh. Later as he walked me to my chambers, I told him to tell my sisters to hurry and he told me of the sad news. Lady Rhaena has miscarried her child with Lord Cobray and is convalescing at the Driftmark.

 

The next day, I ask to speak to my Hand Lord Peake. I ask him questions of the famine, of the sickness, of the people he brushes it away and says, "Your Grace, do not worry. It is too much for you to think of, a young boy like yourself. I will take care of the realm."

I look at my shoes and ask another question, “When might I see my Queen Jaehaera? It has been almost a month and I miss her."

"Well, Your Grace, the Queen is a sickly child given to tears and fits. She has not been well since the death of her Grandmother. As soon as she is, she will rejoin you at your side.”

I look at him directly and ask another question, "My Lord, when might the Queen and I share a bed?

This starts the man in a fit of coughing. It was an unexpected question. Lord Unwin clears his throat and peers at me, as if he is trying to see my thoughts, “Your Grace, I imagine when she has her first courses and is a woman. Before that, it would be improper."

“Hmm, and girls become women at twelve or thirteen..."

"Yes, your Grace. I know that is still several years away. Do you have need of a lady? I could arrange someone pleasing to you if you wish."

"No, my Lord. Thank you but I will wait for her, for my wife."

But I notice the way his eyes narrow. I notice the way he whispers to Ser Waters. I notice the way that his daughter’s dresses get more tight-fitting. I make a plan. After all, I am my father’s son and he always had a plan, even if they never worked out in his favor. Perhaps, I can. Perhaps, since I am a Targaryen on both sides, maybe I will have the strength to keep all of us safe.

I receive a letter from Lady Baela. It is brief but it tells me that she is on her way. I do not tell Lord Peake. Instead, I tell the staff to move her to my rooms. I know she is only ten and they will fight me over this move but I am worried. I do not sleep from worry.

Jaehaera arrives with her ladies. She smiles to see me and I smile back. I see that she is pale and thin and I wonder if they have let her out of her rooms at all in the last few weeks. Surely, Lord Fell has kept an eye on her when I could not. One of her ladies with her is Lady Myrielle Peake. Her face is in an angry frown and her brow is furrowed. Jaehaera takes my hand and squeezes it. She whispers, "I thought you were angry with me."

I shake my head. I do not want her to speak. It is not safe.

Lord Peake, who rarely comes to my room, comes to my room. Jaehaera is looking around the room. When she sees him, she stands behind Lord Fell, who is supervising the moving of her things. Lord Peake tells me that I cannot do this, that it is improper and not right. I look at him and I feel Lord Fell reach to touch the hilt of his sword. I speak clearly and commanding, as a King, “My Lord Hand, she is my wife and I will not be kept from her any longer. We were joined by the Septon and what the gods have joined together no man can keep asunder."

Lord Peake’s face grows red, “I could remove her. You are just a boy and she is just a girl.”

It is the first time Lord Fell speaks, “He is not just a boy, but your King. The hand you put on him will be on the floor and you will never use it again.”

Lord Peake threatens to resign and return to the Reach but he leaves my rooms.

On the first night that Jae stays in my room, I ask Ser Waters and Lord Fell to remove Blackfyre and place it on its stand by my bed. Ser Waters speaks, ”Your Grace, the Queen is still a child."

I speak like a King as a man helps me in my nightclothes, "She is my wife and I claim my rights this night and all the nights after. Take my sword or I will have your head for disobedience."

Jaehaera sits on her side of the bed. She is ten and she has no fear. I fear she has no idea what I am speaking of or what any of this means. Ser Waters chuckles as he leaves mumbling about the King's tastes. I know he goes to tell Lord Peake. In fact, I am counting on it. Ser Fell goes to stand watch, in case one of the Fingers comes to remove her from my bed.

As I climb on my side of the bed, I speak gently, looking at my hands, “Jae, you will sleep here in my room tonight and every night. We will share these rooms. If anyone asks, you will say I had my way with you. What will you say tomorrow?”

Jae bites her lip, but repeats dutifully, "That you had your way with me."

I ask her another question as she plays with her doll's dress, "Do you know what that means?”

“That we will sleep here tonight and every night."

I feel the color in my face rise and think my plan is foolish. “Yes... but it means more than that.."

“Grandmother said I could have a baby if you take Blackfyre away.”

"You could but you are not ready yet. You are not grown enough. But I need you...I want you to tell everyone that I had sex with you tonight."

The words come out in a rush and I take a breath certain she will understand.

Instead, she asks, “What is that?”

Her eyes are huge purple saucers and she watches me curious. I clear my throat and continue, "Like the dogs in the yard or the horses in the field. Remember when your Septa sees animals rutting and she tells you to look away. That is sex. It is what husbands and wives do and babies come from that."

She looked confused and spoke, "Aegon, I am sorry. I do not understand."

I look at my hands and I think she and I are doomed. I take a deep breath and say, "Forget it, Jaehaera. If anyone asks, tell them the truth. Tell them we just we slept here under your old quilt and told each other stories of our day."

She lies next to me and speaks, holding one of her dolls. "Are you certain, Aegon? I am sorry I am not clever but I will do what you need me to. i can lie."

I look at the canopy and say, "No, we don't have to lie. You will sleep here with me in this bed. You will be safe here. Soon, Baela will come..."

I stop myself from telling her the plan. After all, Jaehaera would tell someone. It is better she does not know.

We sleep like that for a fortnight under her heavy quilt.

When Baela comes and takes the Queen, we do it quickly. Lord Peake does not know until they have left Blackwater Bay. When he learns, he is furious and threatens to leave. He has Gaemon whipped for my insolence. Every lash hurts me but it reminds me of the danger to the Queen here in King's Landing. Every lash Gaemon cries out. No matter what I do, someone is hurt.

Chapter Text

Almost a moon ago, I received a message from Lord Alyn Velaryon saying he was coming home after all his victories, He ended the message saying he was bringing me a rare and precious treasure. I have not worried about it. After all, it is Lord Velaryon’s way to be dramatic. It is in his nature and charm and probably part of the reason Baela love him so. I do not remember much of my father but Lord Alyn shares that quality with my father. I miss him sometimes. He would marvel to see me as King.

There is someone who has worried on this cryptic message. Lord Unwin has been visibly troubled by the message. It almost makes me smile to see him so concerned what the nature of the treasure will be...

 

Because of the upcoming arrival of this rare and precious treasure, I have called my sisters to King’s Landing. Lady Rhaena is bringing her husband, Lord Cobray, and her young dragon, Morning. I have let her know that Morning can stay at the Dragonpit during her stay. I know Rhaena would ask if Morning could stay in the stables, as Syrax had done. I could not bear it.

Lady Baela brings my niece, Laena, who I am excited to meet. But she brings another in her party who I am equally happy to see, Queen Jaehaera.

So, I am waiting for my family on the docks. Lord Fell sees the sigil of the Seahorse on the ship long before I do. But as the ship gets closer. I see the teal sigil blowing in the breeze. There is another sigil as well, the red three-headed dragon of House Targaryen. It tells that the Queen comes.

The people of King’s Landing have turned out for their young queen. I did not think she was as well-loved by the people but they loved her young mother and are glad she returns. I wonder how she has been. She has written only a little but I do not fault her for I have written even less to her.

On the day, Jaehaera left with Baela. She had been worried and said, “Your sister, Baela, does not like me. Why would she want me with her?”

I had taken her hand, trying to sound reassuring, “Baela likes few people. But she is my sister and she loves me. I ask her to do this. Baela will do her best to make you feel welcome.”

 

When the ship is docked, Lady Baela is first to step off, waving to the crowd. Second, comes Rhaena and she is arm in arm with a girl dressed in silver to match her hair and fur cloak. The girl is smiling sweetly, overwhelmed by the crowd and their cheering. The girl has a small crown on her head and she is my wife, Jaehaera.

She has grown so tall in the months we have been separated. She is still not nearly as tall as I have gotten but she no longer looks like a child. Jaehaera is somewhere between a child and a woman, thin and lanky with no curves. But she is as tall as Rhaena, possibly even taller.

I can tell she is nervous crossing over on the water. Jaehaera worries about her skill and her ability. It is because they have always told her she is slow and simple. When she reaches the dock, Jaehaera kisses Rhaena’s cheek, as if they were sisters, and waves to the crowd with a big smile. The crowd loves to see her and cheer back. Gently, she walks toward me. Taking my hand, Jaehaera leans up and kisses my cheek. I feel a strange flush burn on my cheek.

I look at her, “Jae, you seem different.”

She smiles, “Only a little. Your sisters were kind and helpful. It was good to be around them.”

The crowd cheers and I see her flinch, almost imperceptibly. I see it and so I take her by the hand and head for the carriage. “Let us get to the Red Keep.”

IN the week before Alyn arrives, I realize that Jaehaera has changed. She doesn’t cry as often and she has more self-confidence. Rhaena has convinced her she loves dancing. All around our room, Jae practices steps. Baela has taught her to ride horses and to love them. Jae has been practicing Valyrian and reading about Targaryen history. She has also fallen in love with Morning, Rhaena’s dragon and Laena, Baela’s daughter.

On the first day she returned, I woke in the morning beside her. I had forgotten how much I liked her heavy quilt pressed down on us and her body beside mine. As soon as she had known I was awake, Jae started talking about how she wanted to go see Morning and watch Rhaena ride her. The twist of fear in my stomach made me short with her, “Do what you want but I will not go see that dreaded thing.”

The old Jaehaera would have cried or changed her plans but she looked at me and spoke, “Are you sure you don’t mind? I will come back in an hour.”

It took her three hours because she stopped in the nursery to hold the baby.

Jaehaera had made friends other than my sisters. She had a dear friend who was almost half her age, but still a lovely and sweet girl, Daenaera Velaryon. Lady Daenaera was a ward of Baela and Alyn. Her father had been a cousin to Alyn. I would often see the two of them, almost the image of sisters, giggling in the hallways. Jaehaera is given to laughter now. She seeks out Mushroom when she can. She is also filled with questions. One day, she convinces me to take her to the Small Council meeting. Lord Unwin is unsettled to see us there but we remain there anyway.

On the day that Lord Velaryon arrives, we wait on the dock for him to disembark. He comes first, laughing, waving, full of life. Lord Velaryon stops to see my sister, Baela. He kisses her passionately on the lips and the crowd cheers approvingly. He picks up his daughter, Laena, and shows her off to the crowd, lifting her high. I am reminded of my father and I feel a smile touch my lips. Jaehaera squeezes my hand. Lord Alyn kneels before us. Jaehaera steps forward and offers him a priceless sapphire as thanks for his success in the threats at sea. She stutters with fear but overall, Jaehaera does well for a young girl.

Lord Alyn speaks something about a brother. There are horns and cheering. Two figures begin to disembark from the ship. One is a tall beautiful woman in white furs with a dress cut in Lyseni fashion. Holding on to her arm is a youth about my height but shorter, slighter. I cannot see his face well ut his hair is silver.

When he is before me, the youth lifts his hood back. For a second, I cannot process what I am seeing. The boy looks like me and then I realize who it is. It is Viserys. I hug him so tightly that I am certain he will break. I feel that strange darkness and guilt over having left him behind all those years ago overwhelm me and I brush tears quickly off my cheeks. Viserys is smiling and happy.

Jaehaera looks confused but Rhaena tells her the truth of it. There is hugging and crying on the dock. The crowd goes wild. For the next fortnight, King’s Landing celebrates the return of Prince Viserys.

Viserys is married to a Lysene noble, named Larra Rogarre. Her father has ransomed Viserys to me. Lord Peake is angry at the cost and at Lord Alyn but no one wants to hear his complaints. Lord Peake returns to the Reach and Lord Rowan is named my Hand.

I feel happy for the first time in years. I have my sisters. I have my wife and now, I have my brother. We are all safe. We are all together. We are complete.

Chapter Text

Since Viserys has been returned to me, life is different. It has been jarring. There is much more movement, so much more color and laughter. Depression is like moving underwater, thick, heavy, muted, muffled. Viserys being near is like being able to lift my head above the waterline and see the brightness. However, it is still exhausting.

The Maesters have declared spring. In the garden, there are snowdrops and daffodils. Tulips are everywhere and Jaehaera seems to decorate everywhere with tulips. In our room, every table is an explosion of tulips; yellow, red, pink, purple, black. I hear myself laugh to see such displays as if the war never happened as if winter never ate through the remaining souls of the realm.

Laughter is something that I have not heard from my lips but I have started to hear it more and more. Mushroom complains I never laugh but I notice that I do, just more quietly than others in Court. But for the first time in almost a decade, the halls of the Red Keep are filled with laughter; Viserys, Gaemon, Daenaera, and Jaehaera. My sad little queen is no longer known for her crying but her laughter, a sweet sound.

Viserys’ wife, Larra, is strange, an exotic flavor of Old Valyria and the Free Cities. Everywhere through the Red Keep is the Rogarre influence. There are different Lyseni everywhere, each vying for favor from one of Larra’s brothers or uncles. I do not care because my brother is home. Viserys is home and he is happy.

People whisper of Larra but Viserys seems to be deeply in love with her. There is another who loves Larra almost as much as Viserys; Jaehaera. She is learning Valyrian and speaks it with a Lysenei accent, a wet provocative noise that sounds forbidden and slightly wanton. She is taken to wearing kohl under her eyes and jewelry in Lyseni fashion. I catch her and Daenaera playing with make-up to look more like Lady Larra. I tell them they don’t need make-up to be lovely and they giggle.

The truth is Larra is pretty but Daenaera will be the beauty of the age. Compared to them both, Jaehaera is maybe a bit plain but she is still lovely to me. She reminds me a bit of Mother. There was a portrait at Dragonstone of Mother on her wedding day when she was still known as the Realm’s Delight. He mouth is slightly parted and her hair crowns her face in silver and gold. Her skin is flawless and her eyes full of promise. I never knew that woman but sometimes in the morning when the maids are doing Jae’s hair, I see the look of Mother in her chin, her eyes. When my Queen blossoms, she will be the only face I see. Already, I look only for her in a crowd, her and Viserys.

 

Larra is due any day. She grows round and rubs her stomach protectively. Viserys has boasted to me countless times of the joy he finds in his marriage bed. He tells me of how his wife’s touch incites him, how he longs for her touch throughout the day.

Sometimes, I think about how Viserys is two years younger than me and yet, he will be a father. I can hardly stand to be touched. It is too much, too close, too near. Though, under Jae’s old quilt, in the safety of our room, when she takes my hand, I find I like her touch. It does not have any judgment or expectation. It is just that she wants to hold my hand. I think her touch does not bother me as much as others.

 

The Queen has just turned twelve when she e has just turned twelve when she rushes to our rooms, crying. Daenaera rushes in behind her, trying to soothe her. I speak gently, “My Lady, what is wrong?”

Jae tells me that she thinks she is dying. When I ask why does she think that, the story tumbles out between tears and nose blowing. The Queen is bleeding between her legs. She has flowered. I am stunned a little that the Queen has not been told what to expect. I have had the knowledge of what to expect for years. I take her and Little Daenaera and bring them to Lady Larra. She explains the whole thing over a few glasses of wine and when Jaehaera returns, she is soothed but a bit shyer.

-----

In the third month of 135, Viserys’ son comes into the world. The birth was relatively easy and took only a few hours. Viserys is ecstatic and names the boy after me. Aegon. I look at the baby in his cradle and hope he has a simple life with no misery and no wars. I hope he will always be safe.

He would be the first Aegon to have that and so I wish it for my nephew.

Later, Viserys fines me. He is drunk and celebrating. He speaks, “You should have one, a baby. A son. Aegon, it would make you happy.”

I look at him. I do not think a child would bring me happiness. Instead, it would make me worry, anxious over all the harm that could befall the tiny helpless thing. I say nothing and attempt to smile at my brother.

Viserys slurs his words, “I know you worry for her, for her safety. A Prince would secure her place and her safety. Larra and I agree that you are King and you need a son. It could keep the Queen safe.”

I feel the anger flash in my stomach and the words tumble from my lips, “Or it will kill her…”

Viserys is drunk and cannot hear the anger in my voice. He continues with his unsolicited advice, “Girls her age have babies in fields with no maesters or midwives and they are fine. The Queen will have both. She will be fine. Larra has had Aegon for me. Now, you, as the elder brother and King, should have an heir for the Iron Throne, as well. If you don’t, she will never be safe…”

I want to argue with him. But it would do no good. My brother has spoken the word to my fears. The Queen is not safe and yet, childbirth is no safe undertaking. I go to bed that night and wonder if I reached across the bed and asked the Queen for a prince, what would she say?

I find my cheeks burn in the dark of the night and roll over to think of the dangers of childbirth.

Chapter Text

Now, that it is Spring, the entire world seems different. I feel as if I have spent my whole life in the gray cold light of winter. I don’t remember what spring, as if it had all been erased from my mind. The winter was so long I felt as if I have not experienced summer ever before. Winter was almost six years long but it felt like it was forever. But now, the sunshine is back and there is color again in the garden. I no longer have to make paper flowers. Now there are real ones.

Instead of being locked inside, huddled by a fireplace, I spend my afternoons with Lady Daenaera playing with dolls and our puppies in the garden. We must bring the other ladies as well. Sometimes, Gaemon will come out.

One morning Lady Larra came out pregnant and lovely to the garden to join us. She took her shoes off and stood under a tree and thanked her goddesses for bringing Spring back. I could not understand much of it because she speaks only Valyrian and I have a poor command of that language. Aegon and Daenaera are much better with languages than I am but I persist to learn so that I may speak to her.

All my ladies, besides Daenaera, caution me to be wary of Lady Larra and her ways. Even Lady Bethany tells me that her strange gods will corrupt me to the Faith. They are worried about her magic, her cats, her style of dress, her freeness of sex, and a hundred other things. Most of the Court looks at her pregnant belly and her strangeness and they worry.

I don’t worry. I love Lady Larra. To me, she is patient and kind. She allows me to go to her solar and watch her and her ladies laugh. Sometimes, Sandoq will play sad songs on a strange instrument. Sometimes, we will read our fortune with cards. Sometimes they will dance. Lady Larra finds it hard to speak in Common but she and her ladies will try and teach me Valyrian.

Lady Larra has even given me a maid from her party. Her name is Calla. She is fifteen and can braid the most beautiful ways I have ever seen. She doesn’t speak much Common but she speaks more than any of the highborn ladies. She was a slave but when Lady Larra gave her to me, I freed her.

Larra is everything a lady and a wife to a prince should be. She is delightful and funny. She is beautiful and full of grace. She is patient and kind. Viserys loves her very much and he can not keep his eyes or his hands off his wife. I try to learn all I can from Larra. She has much to teach me.

Now that I am a woman grown and a Queen as well, I need to learn all I can from the women around me. But more importantly, I need to apply all my lessons. For a Queen should be a wise and good counsel to the KIng. My Grandmother always said this to me. I learned much about the role of a Queen from Grandma. I also learned how bitterness and hatred can seethe in a heart until it drives it mad.

From Mother, I learned how to cry and be afraid and how kindness will never succeed in war. Mother. Sweet sad Mother did not teach me much. Now, I have other women to teach me different lessons.

My time in the Driftmark with Aegon’s sisters taught me much about what a woman could be. I liked spending time with Rhaena who is sweet and courteous. She reminds me of what I think Mother was like when I was very young before the war and father broke her heart. I learned how to hold myself, what is expected of me as a lady, and what men want in a lady. Sometimes, I would imagine what it would be like to be Rhaena with her pretty pink dragon and her brave husband. It would be sweet.

Baela did not like me at first. But I think I learned from her even more. I learned strength and power. She told me one night, “Family is all we have. Family and strength. You are my sister now regardless of what your father did. We must look out for each other and we must look out for Aegon. He cannot see all the threats. I cannot be there for him but you must. You must be wary and strong.”

Baela was the one who I would listen to when she spoke but she did not say much. She spoke that we must hatch more dragons, and the Targaryens must never fight against each other. We must rebuild and heal. She showed me that a woman could want and she could take it like how Baela chose her husband, Lord Velaryon. Baela did not care how the other ladies of the realm acted. She did not care what people think of her.

Larra is like Baela. Larra is kind to me but I have seen how she mocks the ladies of the Seven Kingdoms. She calls them cows and says mean things about how they dress or their smells. Larra, like Baela, will kiss her husband in public or take him by the hand and boldly lead him to their bedroom. Larra and Baela have both told me about the pleasures of a wedding bed. Larra and Baela speak plainly of the act. From what they speak of, I do not think I would like that too much. But I have seen Viserys kiss Lady Larra or Lord Alyn swing Baela in his arms and kiss her so tenderly that she stopped with her breath hitching in her throat. I would like to be kissed like that. I would like Aegon to take my hand in his and look at me with desire. In his eyes, all I see is care and affection like I am a child or a pet. Aegon has no desire for me.

 

I tell no one but Larra once told me that Calla had been trained to be a pleasure slave. Leaning into my ear, Larra whispered, “ Calla could teach you things. She could teach you how to kiss your husband and he would never look at another. All you have to do is ask, Your Grace.”

My ears flushed and my face turned red. I have never spoken to anyone about it. I wonder what I might say to Calla and what she might teach me. I have seen how Viserys looks at Larra and wonder if anything she might teach me would make my husband look at me like that.

Aegon shows no interest in me or love, He doesn’t even try for a kiss. At night, I say my prayers and climb beside him. Sometimes, he will take my hand and hold it before he rolls over to his side of the bed. In the morning, Aegon has moved in his sleep to be pressed near me, against my back. Sometimes I wake before him and I feel his member, hard against me. It happens more and more frequently. When Aegon wakes, he is apologetic and rolls away.

Since my courses have come and Lady Larra’s lying in time draws near, all have begun to look at me and whisper when will I give birth to a prince. Even the Grand Maester has called me to his chambers to ask, I told him that I believe the King is capable of relations but he has made no attempt to make me pregnant.

Sometimes, I think that maybe Aegon just does not like me.

When Larra gives birth, she and Viserys name the baby after Aegon, my husband. I look down in the cradle and think that they should not have named him Aegon. I look at my husband and I know he feels the same. The baby seems perfect. He is healthy and well-made. I wonder when will be my turn to push one of these things out.

*********

Roughly a fortnight after Aegon is born, Baela sends a ship full of gifts. There is a crate for the baby, Aegon, and one for Prince Viserys and Lady Larra. But, there is also a crate of things for me. My crate is full of beautiful dresses for me and Daenaera, as well as spices, dried fruits, candy, and some fruit wine. Baela sends a letter with the gift. The letter is simple and asks about her brother’s health as well as mine. Then, she mentions how the realm needs an heir. She tells me the wine has a love potion in it and I should drink it with her brother and only him.

It takes me another week before I decide to use it. It is right before bed one night when I begin to drink it. I tell Aegon that I will drink this new wine and would he like a glass. Aegon does not usually like wine but he takes one. It is a delicious wine and tastes like dragonberries.

At first, I notice nothing is different but then, Aegon seems to smie a little more. The wine goes down quickly. When Aegon asks for a second glass, I realize that there must be something in it and it is working for Aegon never drinks more than one glass. When I have finished the second glass and began to pour a third, I am laughing, gigglin because everything seems funny. It is then I see the light jump and change color. I feel my heart beating so quickly and I feel dizzy and hot. The patterns in the fire twist and change shape unnaturally. Suddenly, I stop and clutch the table.

This is not right. Even when I close my eyes, I can still see the shapes behind my eyes twist and turn. I am certain I am dying or sick. The room is spinning. I feel Aegon take me, lifting me up to carry me. I wonder that he can carry me so easily but am reminded that I am still small for a woman.

His arms feel sturdy and strong and they seem to be the only thing that stops the world from spinning. When he lays me on our bed, I open my eyes to him above me.

In a gesture unlike him, Aegon places his hand on my face, “Jae, are you okay?”

I laugh even though I am frightened, “Aegon, I think I am dying. Why do you think Baela would poison us?”

Aegon’s eyes are dark because his pupils have grown so big. I can feel his breathing. It is fast and uneven. Sometimes, it hitches. Leaning down, Aegon kisses me on the lips. My heart beats even more quickly. This is my first real kiss and it is my husband, finally. Even if I am dying, surely, this helps soothe my spirit for its journey onward to the Seven Heavens. It is as lovely as the stories speak of.

I feel his tongue lightly touch my top lip and the way his hand cups my jaw feels as delicious as the wine tasted. Slowly, Aegon pulls away. He kisses my forehead, my nose, my cheeks. When he reaches my ear, he whispers, “Baela did not poison us. This is a love potion and we are feeling its effects.”

I touch his face. He smiles but it seems sad. Kissing my forehead, Aegon speaks, “I should go…”

I wonder what Baela or Larra might do. Closing my eyes, I run my fingers against his leg which is next to me and find what I am looking for without ever opening my eyes. When he feels me touch him, Aegon moans.

I open my eyes and pull him toward me, “Kiss me, Aegon.”

Instead of leaving, Aegon kisses me.

 

********

In the morning, I wake beside my husband. I feel his skin warm under the blankets. It is strange because I realize immediately that he is naked as I am. I run my hand against his back and wake him. Immediately, Aegon pulls from my touch. He climbs from the bed as if I were fire. My head hurts and my lips are dry. I wonder briefly how he can move so quickly. Aegon pulls a sheet to cover his nakedness before he stands. As he does, the sheets pull with them. I grab one to cover me but my legs are exposed to the air. On the sheets and my thighs is dried blood. Aegon looks guilty and looks at me, “I am sorry, Jae. I should have left last night.”

“No...” I move suddenly and feel an ache between my legs. I feel my face wince from the unexpected pain.

Aegon speaks in his King’s voice. “Perhaps, we should sleep apart.”

Aegon will not look at me. Instead, he sends me to a nearby room to sleep. I can no longer sleep near the King.

Rumors fly around Court that I am cast off, that the King does not care for me, and there are even worse. I don't listen to rumors. I know the sheets were taken to the Small Council and both the Hand as well as the rest saw it. Larra tells me this.

*****

It is another moon that passes when Gaemon gets sick. One minute, Gaemon, Daenaera, and I are laughing at Mushroom and his antics. The next minute, I am dizzy and my stomach hurts. Then, I am on the floor and I hear Aegon yelling. Ser Fell is in the room. He has gathered me in his arms and he is running. For a moment, I feel we must be going to meet Cregan Stark and his Winter Wolves in the Throne Room or maybe we are escaping the city because Rhaenyra approaches. Then there is only darkness and pain.

I wake a few days later to Larra. She has one of her healers with her, a priestess of the cat goddess. When she sees me, Larra kisses my forehead and smiles. She speaks in Valyrian and I only understand a little but it is something like she is glad to see her little sister open her eyes and the gods have been merciful. In a few minutes, Aegon is there, worried and sad.

He tells me that Gaemon has died but with the Grand Maester’s quicking thinking he saved my life and Daenaera's.

Grand Maester Munchin is there to take my thanks, nodding. He smiles, “Your Grace, I appreciate your thanks but I believe there is more good news. The Queen is expecting. It appears we may have a prince before the end of the year.”

Grand Maester puts me on bed rest because he is worried about the child.

------

When I am almost five months pregnant, I am in my room as I always am. Lady Bethany and Lady Daenaera help me sew baby clothes. Aegon comes about once a week to eat dinner with me. He does not ask me to return to his room. I want to ask him why he sent me away. I want to be like Lady Baela and demand to return to his room and our bed. But Aegon does not like confrontation or demands. I wish I was Larra and I would use sweet words but I do not think they would work on Aegon either. So I say nothing when he comes to eat dinner with me.

I am sewing when the word is sent from the King. Lord Fell has died from falling off his horse in the city. But there are other rumors that his throat was slit, that a cat sent by Lady Larra spooked his horse or a pale naked child approached him at dusk. It is a dark time and Lady Larra’s family has had some struggles recently. Both her father and her uncle passed away. There are some problems with their Bank. I do not understand all of it but Larra seems to always be worried or sad.

When I recieve word of Lord Fell’s death, I am heartbroken. I am so greif stricken I decide I will leave my room to go and see his body in the throne room. I am stopped at the gate of Maegor’s Holdfast. It is Viserys, “My Queen, my brother wishes you to stay here. He will be down soon but you must not leave the Holdfast. Not now.”

I think to argue with him. But something about the worry in his eyes makes me pause. Aegon comes. He tells me that men who are not loyal to him are going to come and try to take Larra from us. He tells me Larra’s brothers have been arrested and Lord Rowan, the Hand, has been taken to the Black Cells. I watch as Ser Amaury Peake and a dozen men are cut down trying to come and take Larra from us. Larra is crying. Aegon, her son, is in her arms. However, it becomes apparent that Sandoq will not allow anyone to harm her. No one who stands against him is left standing.

Aegon stands next to me in front of me as if he would protect me. I wonder what protection could he grant me when he can't bear to sleep beside me.

We are there for twenty days. We run out of food by the second week. On the fifteenth day, I faint from hunger, I wake to Aegon resting his head on the pillow beside me. I am angry to see him there, lying beside me as if he did not kick me out of his room. Aegon has dark circles around his eyes and I wonder if he has been sleeping at all.

When he sees me open my eyes, Aegon rolls toward me. In his hand, he has some candy. “Look, Jae. We found some food. Please eat it, Jae. Eat it all for the baby. It will help.”

My mouth waters and my stomach lurches but I am angry. I am so angry at him and his handful of candy. I speak angrily, turining from him. “No, give it to Daenaera or baby Aegon. His cries hurt my heart.”

Aegon touches my hand amd pulls me to look at him. He speaks in his King vice but it is soft. “I want you to eat it for our baby.”

My anger simmers over and I let it overflow past my lips, “What do you care? You barely look at me and you no longer speak to me. If I have done anything wrong, I am sorry, your Grace. But you do not control me. I am a Queen from the same blood you came and my body is my own. I will make my own decisions for it. I do not want your stale candy. I needed you months ago but you sent me away. Take your stale candy and leave me be. ”

Aegon looks troubled, “I did not mean all that. I just wanted you safe and I have made a mess of things. It worries me that you look like you have lost color and weight. I have forgotten how small you are beside me. The baby has grown so big. You are mostly baby now.”

I looked back at him and touched my stomach, “Aegon I do not think that is polite to say how fat I am. Especially if you hope to reconcile.”

He smiles a small smile, “Jae, I did not mean that. I just meant the baby is so big. It is funny to think we made it and it grows inside you.”

He raises his hand over my stomach bulge but doesn't touch. Aegon always needs permission.

I smile, “You can touch him. He will need to get to know you. You are his father and his King.”

Gently, he places his hand over my hard stomach. Lying next to me, he speaks to the baby more than me. “When you fainted. I almost left the Holdfast. I would not see you come to harm, nor our child. You are more important than Larra. It was Viserys who stopped me. Viserys found the candy. He wants you to have it for our baby. All of us want you to eat it for the baby. Please, Jae.”

Even lifting my head makes me feel lightheaded but I take the candy from his hand and eat it. The baby responds happily to the sugar and kicks beneath Aegon’s hand. Aegon looks at his hand with a mixture of anxiety and pride.

____

After the siege, when we finally emerge, Aegon invites me back to his room. “It is still unsafe and know Lord Fell is gone, we should stay close.”

I return to his bed, our bed. My things are moved back to his chambers. He does not touch me or kiss me, except on the forehead or to feel the baby kick.

Viserys and I attend the trials every day. Aegon does not come to the trials but I do. Even though I grow bigger everyday, I go and watch those who would posion me, those who would do me harm, those who would harm my child and those I love.. I need to know. I need to be wary and watch. I need to see the faces of my enemies.

------

 

On the night before his fifteenth birthday, I wake in the night to terrible cramps and a rush of water from my legs. I wake Aegon, terrified that I have been posioned again. The pain comes in waves. I clutch his hand, “Aegon something is wrong I am dying. The babies are dying.”

The Grand Maester confirms that I am not dying. Instead, I am in labor. My baby is coming.

Lady Rhaena has come to help. She helped Baela through the delivery of Laena. She will help me the delivery of this child. I am glad she is here. She helps me and soothes me through each of the pains. We recite prayers to the Mother and it helps distract me.

When the pain gets really bad, I cry out. It is then that Rhaena speaks to the midwife. She comes to me and takes my hands, “My Lady, you must push now. Now is the time. Push hard.”

 

We push together. I see the blood on the sheets and the worry in her eyes. I hope the baby will be fine and strong. I hope he will be good.

 

My son comes first. With a push that felt like my body was being split, the Prince of Dragonstone emerged between my legs, red-faced and screaming. The midwife wrapped him and handed him to Lady Bethany who cooed gently at him.

My daughter came almost immediately after her brother. She is a surprise. The Grand Maester did not hear her heartbeat or feel her. She is small and red-faced as well. Both are perfect.

Aegon is there as soon as they let him in. He looks at his son and daughter in their cradles beside my bed. He does not move to hold them or touch them. He looks overwhelmed at them.

I speak, “What shall we name them?”

Aegon looks at me, “I am not sure.”

 

I look at him. Unlike Aegon, I have been thinking on names since I knew they were coming. “I think we should name the boy, Jacaerys. Jacaerys Targaryen after your brother who risked everything to try and keep you and Viserys safe.”

At the sound of his son’s name, Aegon finally touches the boy, repeating it, “Jacaerys.”

I continue, “I did not expect a girl. We could name her Rhaenys after your sister…”

Aegon speaks, “If we have a Black name, we will need a Green one... Perhaps, Helaena..”

“No.. not after Mother. What if we called her Maella after Maelor?”

Aegon touches our daughter on her forehead wiith his finger. “Maella”

Then, my husband takes my hand, “We have a Black and a Green name. It is good.”

 

But I shake my head, “No, we just have two Dragons.”