Rhaegar lay on the bottom of the ocean, his bootstraps still strapped to the cannon at his feet. The moonlight didn’t penetrate this deep, but the sharks and the bottom feeders had long since lost interest in him. He supposed he just didn’t smell alive. Very well. They weren’t wrong.
He couldn’t feel the pressure of millions of pounds of water on his chest, but he knew it was there because he could not move. He couldn’t feel the seawater in his lungs, but he knew it was there because it weighed him down. Perhaps, if there was still air in his lungs, he would have floated, wouldn’t be stuck here on the ocean floor, the water crushing him to not death. But there was the cannon strapped to his bootstraps to consider.
He didn’t mind it. Almost. He supposed there were worse forms of eternal punishment than laying careless on the bottom of the ocean. If never lifting the curse meant that he stayed down here forever, then so be it. He had meant what he said. They all deserved to be cursed. Him included. He supposed Jack would have found the afterlife by now, whatever it was. Certainly it wasn’t grit and sea snow beneath you and crushing water above. Or perhaps Jack was serving his own punishment in the Locker. Rhaegar wouldn’t trade him that.
Perhaps the Locker was worse than Rhaegar’s fate, perhaps it wasn’t. Either way, he had no desire to find out. He had long since come to terms with his fate. It may be an eternity of nothingness but at least he still had his brain and his sanity to keep him company. It wasn’t quite so bleak when he had thoughts of Lyanna and his son to dwell on for eternity.
And so there Rhaegar was, thinking of how content he was with his bleak fate when he first saw it. A ship sailing beneath the waves. Rhaegar would’ve sat up in shock if he could. It was merely a hallucination, of course. Perhaps even a shipwreck sinking to rest on the ocean floor with him. But it wasn’t, oh god, it wasn’t.
Strange hands, certainly not human hands, hauled Rhaegar up out of his eternal resting place and onto the deck of the ship. Uneven footsteps clanked across the deck of the Flying Dutchman, and Rhaegar felt the words before they even left the captain’s mouth.
“Do you fear death?”
My Dearest L.S.,
I am sorry I cannot give you this message in person. What I wouldn’t give to see you again…
I’ve enclosed a medallion for Jon. Aztec gold. The source of the curse I told you about. They will need the medallion back to break the curse.
You have to take Jon and make the crossing to the colonies. They’ve led a mutiny against Jack. It’s only a matter of time before they realize what I’ve done. And when they do they’ll come for you. They know you’re in England. I don’t care where you go. Perhaps it’s better if you don’t tell me. That way they can’t torture it out of me.
Make sure Jon gets the medallion. It’s his. By blood. Help him protect it. It may very well be the only thing between them and everything they want.
You have to leave England, my love. I know you’ll miss Ned, but it very well could be Jon’s life on the line. Baratheon will come for you. I fear for my own life -- existence, rather.
Be safe, Lyanna. Protect Jon and keep yourself safe. If things do not turn out the way I fear they will, I will find you. Be safe, L. Give Jon my love.
All my love,
Lyanna read the letter again. And again. The paper had been worn soft, she had reread it so many times. And, surely, she would read it countless more during the rest of their journey to the colonies.
She sat on the bunk in their small cabin beside her sleeping son. She folded the letter back up and placed it back in its place in the breast pocket of her apron, nestled against her heart. She looked to her son, pushing his dark curls off his forehead. He didn’t stir, so she delicately wrapped a finger around the golden chain around his neck, pulling the medallion out from underneath his shirt where it lay against his heart. She held the medallion in her hand, inspecting it for possibly the millionth time. She did not like it. At all. Rhaegar was never specific about the curse, but she was thankful that whatever it was, it did not extend to her son.
The candlelight glinted off the gold of the aztec coin, and a sudden sharp breeze blew through their cabin, extinguishing their candle and chilling Lyanna to the bone. She dropped the medallion immediately, and it fell back against her son’s chest. He woke with a start.
“Mother, what is it?” he sat up suddenly, the whites of his eyes stark against the darkness of their cabin.
“I-” she started. She didn’t know. The air - it was wrong. Wrong, eerie, somehow. Lyanna stood suddenly. “You stay here and- and do not move.” Her son was so shocked, he could hardly consider disobeying her order.
Lyanna merely gathered her skirts in her hand and raced from the cabin. No alarm had been raised when she emerged onto the deck. But it was still the night crew. It was almost time to switch to the day crew. Of course they weren’t paying attention. So Lyanna leaned over the rail and looked as far as she could see in either direction. The moonlight was gone. All she had was the first tint of sunrise to illuminate the seas. She raced to the other side of the ship and continued her perusal, but-
Her heart leapt to her throat. No, it couldn’t be. But it was. There was no mistaking the tattered black sails belonging to the ship that was now gaining on them. The Black Pearl had found them. Lyanna spun around. No one was paying attention. None of the sailors had even noticed their impending doom.
Lyanna raced up the stairs to the poop deck, not caring if it was her place or not. “Sir, look!” she shouted to the officer at the wheel, pointing at the pirate ship off the starboard side, creeping ever closer.
“Mind yourself, woman!” The sailor shouted, stepping towards Lyanna and raising an arm as if to hit her, but Lyanna was already thundering back down the stairs. She glanced back once to see that, thankfully, the officer had raised a spyglass to look in the direction of the Pearl, but she did not linger to watch him discover it. She was practically back to the cabin by the time she heard the alarm being raised.
“Mother! What’s going on?” She ran into Jon just outside their cabin.
“I told you to stay,” she snapped at her son, but there was no venom behind it. She grabbed his arm and drug him back in the cabin. She grabbed his shoulders with an iron grip and turned him to face her. He was so tall. Almost as tall as she was now. He searched her eyes while she tried to memorize her son’s face.
“Mother, what’s happening?” he asked again, terror in his eyes. She considered taking the medallion from him. Instead she grabbed his shirt, pulling it closed, and buttoned it all the way to the collar. She turned to their trunk, rifling through it until she found one of his vests, shoving it into his hands and ordering him to put it on. She grabbed his coat as well and pulled it around his shoulders, helping him into it. She buttoned it up quickly, since her hands worked faster than his. The more layers between the medallion and the pirates, the safer he would be, she believed. She hoped.
“Mother, what-” he started again, but she cut him off.
“Pirates,” she said, pulling her boy into a crushing embrace. Baratheon had seen her, knew what she looked like. But he had never seen Jon. As far as she knew, Rhaegar had never even told them if their child was a boy or girl. Jon was safe from Baratheon as long as… As long as she wasn’t with him. She drew back from her son, cupping his cheeks and staring into those beautiful grey eyes, so much like her own. “Jon, you have to escape. The first chance you get to run, to hide, to get out, you must take it. Do not come for me. We will be safer if we are separated. Do not come for me. Do you understand?”
He nodded, tears beginning to form in his eyes.
“Jon, do you understand?” she asked again, voice slightly raised, shaking her son’s shoulders gently.
“Yes,” he said, his voice breaking. “But-”
“It will be alright,” she said, smoothing her son’s curls back from his forehead and pressing a kiss there. “I will- I will come find you when it’s over.” Jon nodded, and this time he was the one to pull his mother into an embrace. When he let her go, Lyanna looked at her son’s beautiful face for the last time. “I love you,” she said, and left the room to make her final stand.
“No,” Rhaegar answered simply. “I welcome death, but seeing as I cannot die-”
“No?” Davy Jones almost shouted. He had not the patience to listen to Rhaegar’s reasonings. “Would you prefer I strap you back to your cannon and leave you where I found you, then?”
“No, of course not,” Rhaegar responded. “I would join your crew and serve my years. I just do not fear death, is all.”
Jones narrowed his eyes, but spit, “Welcome to the Flying Dutchman, Mister Snow.”
“Yo ho, yo ho,” Daenerys sang softly. “A pirate’s life for me.” She was twelve years old and already as beautiful as the legends of Old Valyria. Of course, none of those legends were true. She was English through and through. Perhaps a touch Gaelic, but that was not to be spoken of, after all. “Drink up me hearties, yo, ho!” Daenerys gasped suddenly when a hand landed on her shoulder.
“Quiet, missy!” the owner of the hand spoke. “Cursed pirates sail these waters. You want to call ‘em down on us?”
Daenerys simply stared. Meeting pirates surely couldn’t be as bad as he made it sound. It would be adventurous, surely.
“Mr. Gibbs,” the lieutenant said, sparing Daenerys from having to respond. “That will do.”
“She was singing about pirates,” Gibbs tried to argue. “Bad luck to sing about pirates, with us mired in this unnatural fog - mark my words.”
“Consider them marked,” the lieutenant said simply. “On your way.”
“Aye, Lieutenant,” Gibbs said, before grumbling, “Bad luck to have a woman on board too. Even a miniature one.” Daenerys watched him go back to swabbing the deck, and did not miss it when he took a swig from a hidden flask.
She turned to the lieutenant instead. “I think it would be rather exciting to meet a pirate.”
“Think again, Miss Targaryen,” he responded. “Vile and dissolute creatures, the lot of them. I intend to see to it that any man who sails under a pirate flag, or wears a pirate brand, gets what he deserves: a short drop and a sudden stop.”
Daenerys didn’t understand the phrase, but Gibbs made a rather helpful gesture - of a man being hanged - behind the lieutenant’s back. Daenerys gasped in spite of herself.
“Captain Lannister,” Aerys Targaryen joined the conversation, his son trotting along behind him. “I appreciate your fervor, but I am concerned about the effect this subject will have on my daughter.”
“My apologies, Governor,” Jaime Lannister responded, and opened his mouth as if to continue, but Daenerys decided it was her turn to speak.
“Actually I find it all quite fascinating.”
“And that’s what concerns me,” Aerys muttered, but it was Viserys who spoke at full volume.
“Dany, why can’t you ever just act like a proper lady?”
She opened her mouth to respond, I would if you’d treat me like one, but their father spoke before she could.
“Children,” he said, Viserys rolling his eyes. He wasn’t a child. “We will be landing in Port Royal soon, and beginning our new lives. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could comport ourselves as befits our class and station?”
“Yes, father,” they both murmured, but the tone of Viserys’s voice left Aerys rather inclined to drag the boy away and bestow him with more words of advice. So he did, Viserys dragging his feet the whole way.
Finally alone, Daenerys turned back to the sea. “I still think it would be exciting to meet a pirate,” she muttered to herself before something floating in the water caught her attention. It was a parasol, left opened and floating through the waves as if it were a boat itself. She followed the parasol for a moment before debris began to float by. Then she saw him.
“Look!” she shouted, pointing out into the water. “A boy! There’s a boy in the water!”
It was silent for a heartbeat before Lannister must’ve seen the boy and shouted, “Man overboard!” It spurred the men to action, and Daenerys was pushed back as they crowded the rail and hauled the boy onto the deck. Daenerys pushed her way through the men to get a closer look at the boy just in time to hear Lannister say, “He’s still breathing.”
“Where did he come from?” Viserys almost sneered, looking down his nose at the water-logged boy. Their father opened his mouth to, no doubt, snap at Viserys, but their attention was drawn elsewhere.
“Mary mother of God,” Gibbs said from the rail as the wreckage came into view. Everyone congregated at the rail as they watched the remains of the ruined ship burn. There was complete silence. Daenerys’s jaw hung open limply. When she turned back to glance at the boy, her father ushered her away from the rail, removing the wreck from her view.
“What happened here?” Aerys asked, a hand on Daenerys’s shoulder, keeping her from looking back toward the shipwreck.
“An explosion in the powder magazine,” Lannister said, his voice full of certainty Daenerys knew he couldn’t possibly have. “Merchant vessels run heavily armed.”
Viserys rolled his eyes as if in silent agreement with Daenerys. Unfortunately, he did not stay silent. “There’s no proof of that,” he snapped.
At both Lannister’s and her father’s looks at her brother, Daenerys stepped in. To defend him, she supposed. “It could have just been an accident,” she said.
Aerys silenced his children and addressed Lannister. “Captain, these people were under my protection. If there is even the slightest chance one of those poor devils is still alive, we mustn’t abandon them.”
Lannister nodded. “Of course not,” he said and began to shout orders. Daenerys was watching the boy again, but did not miss it when Lannister murmured to her father, “Hope for the best...prepare for the worst.”
Then Aerys was pulling Daenerys away again as a couple of the sailors picked up the boy to move him elsewhere. “Daenerys,” her father said, “I want you to accompany the boy. He's in your charge now. You'll watch over him?”
“Yes,” she said, nodding, and followed the sailors to where they laid the boy. She knelt down beside him. He couldn’t have been more than a year or two older than her. He looked so peaceful, as if he were simply sleeping. If she hadn’t seen the shipwreck herself, she never would’ve guessed where he’d come from. She reached forward and brushed his dark curls out of his face, but the action startled him awake and he grabbed her wrist, gasping.
“It’s alright. You’re safe now,” she said, watching calm come over his eyes. She took his hand to hold it more comfortingly. “My name is Daenerys Targaryen.”
“Jon Snow,” he managed.
“I’m watching over you, Jon,” she said. He squeezed her hand tight before falling back into unconsciousness. It was then that she noticed a golden chain peeking out from underneath his shirt. She knew she should leave it be, but her curiosity got the better of her and she pulled the chain free. It was a gold coin, but when she flipped it over, the other side was adorned with a garish skull. She gasped and whispered, “You’re a pirate.”
She heard footsteps behind her and quickly hid the medallion in her skirts. Jon Snow was in her care, and she would not be allowing him to be hanged for piracy.
“Has he said anything?” Lannister asked, and she stood up quickly and spun around to face him, keeping the medallion hidden.
“His name is Jon Snow,” she said. “That’s all I found out.”
Lannister nodded and a couple sailors came forward to carry Jon Snow below deck. “Very good,” Lannister said.
Alone once again, Daenerys made her way to the stern to examine the medallion. She turned it over and over in her hands, the sunlight glinting off the golden skull. A sudden gust of wind threatened to blow the medallion from her hands, and she looked up to see another ship, mostly concealed by the fog.
Only this ship...This ship was flying black sails. And as she examined the ship, her eyes found the most damning evidence - the skull and crossbones of the Jolly Roger. She looked from the skull on the flag to the skull on the medallion in her hands. It was true.
However, before she could gather her thoughts and raise the alarm, the pirate ship simply disappeared into the fog.