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Silent Women of Westeros

Chapter Text

We have all heard the saying, there was never a conflict without a woman. I think about Lady Darke and the rebellion of Duskendale. I think of what the King did to her and how she was blamed for all of it. An entire legacy, an entire House, all wiped away because of her counsel, because of the words she whispered to her husband.

Or Tyanna of the Tower? She whispered terrible, evil lies in the King’s ears and every man, woman, and child with the name Harroway was wiped from the Seven Kingdoms in a fortnight. All because of a woman and her treacherous words.

Even Queen Alicent and Princess Rhaenyra were made to shoulder the dragon’s share of the Civil War. Because of their sex, because of the treacherous nature of woman. I never quite understood how women could be blamed for so much. After all, we have such little power in the world. We are barely let out of our houses, never mind sent to schools to learn to read and write.

The Seven Kingdoms have kept no record of any of my words. You can scour through the books and see if you can find them, but there are none recorded. They are written on my families’ memories and when they pass from the world, my words will disappear like mist in the sun. No one thought I would be important enough to record anything I said. Now, it is too late.

 

What is known is that I was the only daughter of a great lord, that I wanted to be a warrior, that I wanted to use a sword. There are many girls like me in Westeros but they do not speak of us much. It is uncommon as a person with different colored eyes or a cat with six toes, but it happens often enough. My father would not allow me a blade but he gave a bow and a horse. After all, what else is there to do in the north?

I am silent like most women in history, unknowable except by speculation and conjecture. Use your imagination to fill the gaps. I am the wind blowing through the cracks of the history books. Try to find my purpose. Try to find my motivation.

I wonder what will be left of me. I wonder of those that come after me what will they think of me? How will they see me?

I was wild. I was willful. In some stories, I was wanton. To some, I was a disobedient and selfish child. Others have suggested I was vapid and vain, uncaring that my world broke out in bloodshed. I was grasping like Lady Darklyn and used my sexuality, as girls are known to do, to take Rhaegar from Princess Elia, his faithful wife.

There are some stories that say I was a Northern witch, practiced in dark arts and blood magic, and Prince Rhaegar was spell-bound to act so entirely out of his character. As the Seven Kingdoms burned, we dallied with me in a tower and let his duties to the realm and his family fall in the flames. What terrible magic did I weave to distract such a fine and noble prince?

Or was Prince Rhaegar a rapist? Maybe, Prince Rhaegar seduced me with sweet words and his beautiful music like young princes are sometimes known to do. But once he captured me and bedded me, I was his prisoner. He kept me in a tower in the wilderness, a world away from my family, unable to write letters, unable to leave his bed. I was silenced in the tower, no words, no messages, no voice. I was just another ruined women, hurt by a man in power.

 

There are some who say Rhaegar told me of his visions and I was enthralled by the idea of giving birth to the prince who was promised. Some believe, at fifteen, I could see the weight of the task before me, to be chosen to be the mother of the Prince who was Promised and I took on the role like a Septa takes her beads and cowl, as my spiritual purpose, for the greater good.

Was I a victim or a willing participant? A wanton whore? A witch? A ruined and raped girl?

My body grows still and my final breath passes through my lips. My voice is silent. All is silence.

 

Prince Rhaegar died with my name on his lips. At least, that is what they told me. The purple-eyed knight Dayne told me and left me in the locked room to cry or rejoice. Whatever I did, it was my own secret to keep.

 

All that is known is that I cried when Rhaegar played a song at Harrenhal. It is widely said a woman who laughs is half taken but what do tears mean? Perhaps, I just felt the song spoke for me, echoed the sad words I was not allowed to speak.

 

No one will ever know. There is so much about me that no one will ever know. I have grown as quiet as the dead.

I could tell you his kiss was worth it. I could tell you that the memories of the few cool nights we shared together in the Red Mountains were enough to fill all the days I had left. I could but that does not sound like something I would say.

I would have liked to hold my boy, to kiss him, to teach him to walk on his tiptoes the way babies do, clutched onto my fingers, unsteady. An uncertain dark-haired baby looking to me, his mother, certain I would never fail him. I deserved that just as I deserved to hear him call my name, to feel his embrace, to watch him grow. What had I done to deserve any less?

I could tell you many things but the dead can’t speak.

 

Now, I am as quiet as the dead.

Chapter Text

When I was a girl, my septa used to say a good woman is worth her weight in gold.

 

I have tried to be a good woman. When I was still a girl, I learned very slowly. I had trouble with my memory and could not remember my prayers. Mother wished my Septa to hit my knuckles with a stick until I would learn my manners, my stitches, my prayers. But I could not learn and my Septa would not beat me. My Septa was kind and gentle like the Mother. She told me that I could be good too. I must be quiet and faithful and true like the Mother, quiet like the lamb on our sigil. She said that one day the Father would send me a husband who would see my virtue.

 

Sometimes in the dark, as I lay in my bed, I reach out to my husband. He is not particularly soft or given to affection. He is not given to chivalry or tales of romance. He does not know the Seven or the prayers of the faithful. Lord Bronn of the Blackwater, knighted during the War, a companion to the Lannisters, tells me that his life has not been one suited to stories or septs. He has had to be a man given to action to rise so quickly in his life.

Once, he was a sellsword. Falyse laughed on my wedding day saying he was a little more of a brute and Mother was selling me to the man because I was ruined and good for nothing. She teased me saying I was like a fat stupid cow at market for slaughter and Bronn was the butcher.

 

I spent my life with Falyse calling me names. But she liked calling me a fat stupid cow best of all the hurtful things she called me. She said I was a cow, always lowing, always wide-eyed and good for nothing, except birthing other stupid fat cows.

 

Falyse was thin and smart. She would laugh and dance and could sew and knew all the prayers. She was perfect and Mother loved her best. When Falyse married Ser Byrch, Mother opened her purse and the feast they had for her wedding was almost as rich as the ones the Queen has. I got a simple dinner after the septon heard our wedding vows.

But it doesn’t bother her too much. Mother is gone now, dead with a chill and a broken hip. Ser Byrch is dead and Falyse has disappeared, disappeared with her sharp and hurtful tongue. It does not worry me now they are gone. I don’t know where Falyse went but Bronn says she will not come back. I have Bronn to keep me safe. He calls himself Lord Stokeworth and he calls me Lady Stokeworth and that is a fine thing indeed.

My husband is dark and scarred but he has fine white teeth and eyes as blue as the morning. I have seen him fight and he is ruthless and his steel is sharp. I watched him fight Ser Byrch in the yard, hiding behind a post and I saw the strength and skill of my husband. I knew he fought for Stokeworth and his position but he also fought for me. A wild tremor of excitement filled me as blood spread on the ground. I was no longer something to be mocked but something precious to be fought over like a lady in a legend.

Bronn does not know the story of the knights and their lady loves. His manners are rough like his hands. He is not good with sweet words but has not told me I was ruined, stupid or fat. He has never made me feel like I am good for nothing. Instead, he calls me his sweet lamb.

When he picks Tyrion up, he does not call him bastard or make him feel wrong. Bronn named him Tyrion after his lord who gave him honor, a lord who gave him a chance. I heard the Queen was angry when he named him that but I was proud. Proud that he loved him enough to name him after Lord Tyrion.

 

The day I was taken, I screamed and tried to fight. I knew what would happen and I fought. I fought and screamed until one of the men said for me to be quiet or he would slice my nose off. I do not remember what happened after that but I made no noise. If nothing changes and no one listens, why bother?

Sometimes at night, my husband builds a fire with his own hands in the hearth and we will sit together on a couch. We watch the flames. Sometimes, we roast chestnuts in a pan and eat them while they steam, burning our tongues.

Bronn is dangerous and he is rough. But to me, he always speaks softly. He says I have the softest hands he has ever felt and calls me Lollys the Lamb. In our bed, Tyrion will sleep beside me and Bronn will touch my stomach gently. Our child grows inside me. My husband is not gentle but when he touches Tyrion or me, you would think we were Myrish glass.

Sometimes, I teach him to read. He struggles over the letters but I am patient. After all, it took me a long time to read. A Lord must know his letters. No one has ever thought I could teach anyone anything. No one ever listened to me or even looked at me. But he does. Perhaps, my old Septa was right and the Father sent him to me because I was good and I was quiet.

I do not tell Bronn that he is a gift to me. He would not understand and I do not need to waste words. When I reach for him in the night, it tells him what words cannot say. We can be quiet as lambs and still know.

Chapter Text

A donkey, a woman, and a walnut tree

the more they are beaten the better they'll be...

 

Such were the songs that were sung in the tavern across the street from my husband’s forge. It was a common song. After all, women were weak, petty, and lustful creatures. A husband’s correction was all that kept us in check. Even the Septon in Fairmarket said so in his sermons.

I remember the old man’s sermon in his reedy, breathless voice speaking of Rhaenys’ law. A husband was allowed under the law to beat his wife seven times, one for each of the Seven. But my husband believed in the Old Gods and he beat me so much more than seven times. Once, I dared to tell him that he could not beat me so that I would go to Lord Smallwood and tell his lord that my husband broke the Queen’s law.

My husband, Waylan, was a big man and his face turned as red as the forge he worked. That night he beat me until I could not stand for three days without the room spinning. He spit on me when he was done. I remember him speaking, “What does a dead Queen’s law mean in the privacy of my own house? I am the man. I am your husband. In my house, I am your Lord and Master. Do not forget that, Meg.”

I did not forget it. I was not a stupid girl.

I was fourteen when my father brought me to my husband. My father was a farmer who had five daughters and five sons. The girls were born first and he hated us because of it. He hated that we would need dowries and dresses, that we could not help lead a plow or hunt squirrel. We were useless to him, except to spend his silver, the silver he needed for ale.

Because of my beauty, Waylan took me with no dowry at fourteen. I was the prettiest girl in eight villages, a prize. My father had given me to the blacksmith with no dowry but a promise I was fertile as a spring field.

In the beginning, Waylan was hopeful full of dreams. He had been sure that he would win a landed knighthood from the Lothstons as the harsh winter was over and there were still many empty keeps, timber, and mud. But a knighthood was a knighthood and a keep made of mud, still a keep. At first, he was gentle and loving. He bed me every night but still, my courses came, angry and red. But when the babies did not come, my husband’s heart grew bitter and mean. When I would laugh and sing, it would set him on edge. But regardless of how he beat me, no child came.

I was washing clothes in the river behind the forge when Prince Aegon’s horse lost its shoe. He happened upon me and his eyes were bright with laughter. I was singing the song about Queen Alysanne. Standing on the river’s edge, his boots in the mud, the Prince smiled, “Are you a water goddess of old or are you Jonquil reborn?”

I was enchanted when he laughed and gave me his hand. “My lady, would you like to come with me?”

I spoke a word. Yes. But I do not know if Aegon heard it at all. My voice was barely a whisper. I don’t think the Prince was used to listening to anyone. He gave my husband seven gold dragons and we rode away on his horse like I was a princess and not a blacksmith's wife.

On my cheek was an angry red mark given to me by my husband. Later, Aegon kissed it and promised me that my husband would never dare lay a hand on me again. I believed him, my sweet, sweet Prince.

 

We had a small house in the Streets of Silver. He kept me well for four years. You could not know how sweet my lord was. The children came quickly, one right after another, girls all of them, Alysanne and Rosey with silver hair, and Willow and Lily, as dark as mine. It was as if love opened my womb and out flew all the children Waylan was guaranteed.

Of course, Aegon’s father was a heartless man. He came to take me back to my husband, Waylan with his fists and his forge. He pulled the baby from my arms and sent the girls to the Motherhouse to be septas. Aegon cursed him, drew his sword, threatened him. He screamed, “You will not take her, you heartless monster.”

Before the knights took me from him, Aegon whispered in my ear, “Fear not, Meg. I will come to you. I will go to Fairmarket as soon as the week is out. We will be together and no one will keep me from you. Not my wife. Not your husband. Not the High Septon. Our love is stronger than all that, Meg.”

They bundled me in the wagon, without my fine clothes or my children. I wept for the girls. My heart ached for them. But I know Aegon will come... After all, how many sweet words had he whispered and how much happiness had we had together?

Soon, Aegon will come. I watch the road for him. My husband, Waylan, watches the road as well. He watches to see if the Prince will come or that sturdy knight who threatened to thrash him. He whispers whore and slut under his breath. He will not look at me, refuses to touch me. But I feel his anger rising, bitter. It fills the space between us and chokes me. I can barely breathe anymore.

I think about my girls. I hope the Septas are kind and hold them close. I hope they learn their letters and can write. I hope their voices are strong and loud. I hope they are safe.

I fear I am not.