It wasn’t as bad as he had first thought.
Like Dany and Vis he had found the idea terrible and pointless. No amount of s’mores and campfire stories would change the past or make the Starks forget it.
And yet here he was, enjoying his time picking sticks for a camp fire. His family never went camping. Well, the photos he’d found in his fathers office disagreed. Camping used to be something the Targaryens did. Vis had told him and Dany once that the whole family would gather, once a year for a huge bonfire. A tradition Aegon’s mother ended. Aegon never knew why.
He wondered what his mother and Rhaenys were up to. His mother had refused to come proclaiming she felt unwell. An open door Rhaenys had taken, staying behind to care for their mother. Aegon knew she had other motives then being a loving daughter. Her and Tyene had been planning something. Though, she wouldn't tell him what. Keeping secrets from him, seemed to be a family trait. One his father had recently been showcasing.
Aegon couldn't figure out why his father, so insisted on taking the Starks camping. He had almost obsessively planned every single aspect of the weekend. They were going to the Kingswood forest. Arriving on Friday night and leaving Sunday morning. Rhaegar had made certain they had packed every single thing they could possibly need. Though he had not allowed any of the servants to come along. Claiming they would travel just like the Starks; as a family. Aegon guessed this was his fathers way of trying to amend a decades old feud. Or begin to amend it anyways.
Eddard Stark had never forgotten nor forgiven the Targaryens for Aerys' part in the disappearance of his siblings and the suicide of his father. Everything Aegon knew about the events came from reading Newspaper articles and watching old clips from News Channels. He had read about it in newspapers and magazines since he could remember. 20 years ago, not long after Aegon's own birth, the young Lyanna Stark went missing. At first it was thought she was kidnapped but when no ransom was ordered and no trace of a kidnapper could be found, most people, the police included, had just assumed she ran away. The case had slowly started to die down as the media turned its attention to other things until Brandon Stark, Eddard's older brother, had come barging into the Targaryen families house accusing Rhaegar of kidnapping her and demanding his sisters release. Rhaegar had not been home, being away at Uncle Doran's house with his wife Elia and their children, himself and Rhaenys. The articles had said that a nearby House had caught the events on a security camera, the police had never released the footage. But every version of the events told in the news said that when Brandon had found no one at home he was so enraged he started to knock out all the windows of the house before breaking in. The Police were called by a neighbour but upon arriving on the scene Brandon was nowhere to be found. There was no word of him again until days later when Rickard Stark opened his door to find a foul smelling carton box on his doorstep. After opening it, the police were once again called onto the scene and every media platform reported the same story: ''Father is sent missing sons mutilated body part''. A new case was opened up and an old put back into the spotlight. People had started questioning what had really happened to Lyanna Stark and if Brandon's accusations held truth. Aegon's father was arrested but after questioning his and his mother Elia he was released. Rhaegar had an alibi and with no evidence against him there was nothing the police could do but let him go. A year after the disappearance of his daughter and eldest son, Rickard Stark had taken his shotgun and killed himself. It wasn't until two months after his suicide that evidence came up, attesting that Aegon's grandfather Aerys had played a part in the murder of Brandon Stark. 3 days past, the owner of Westeros' men's club had called a exterminator because of a vermin infestation, instead of finding rats he had found the dead body of Brandon Stark shoved into an old narrow tunnel that ran between the clubs walls. The police hadn't released the autopsy but Viserys had told him he still remembered the day the cops knocked at their door and arrested grandfather Aerys. Soon the news had got out that Aerys' DNA was found on the body. He was questioned but denied committing any of the crimes. He was released after Rhaegar had bailed him out. Aerys had remained a suspect and was under surveillance by both the law enforcement and the media just waiting for him to make the wrong move. They never got their wish as a week after being bailed out Aerys had fallen down the stairs of his house. He had broken his neck and died almost immediately. The ambulance had arrived to carry out his dead body. Every news channel in the country had tracked the story to its cliff hanger. Though Aerys had died before the case was closed, he was accused of the murder of Brandon Stark and suspected of kidnapping Lyanna Stark. The case was closed and over time the media moved on to other stories. But whatever happened 20 years ago had followed Aegon his whole life.
The Targaryen Industries almost went bankrupt as businesses refused to work with them and clients started to change companies. His family would have ended up on the streets if it wasn't for uncle Doran. His uncle had, in secret from the media, paid off their debts and over the years he and Rhaegar were able to get the company back on track thought it never again knew its former glory. Even now, all those years later, Aerys' madness was the first thing people thought of when they heard the name 'Targaryen'. It was Aegon's mother, Elia, who advised Rhaegar to change the company name. Life slowly became stable, though it was never normal again.
His mother tried to protect him and Rhaenys from it but there was little she could do. Aegon need only type his name into the search engine of Google to find hundreds of articles and stories written about the case. A short visit to the image section would show him pictures of himself all throughout his life; as a baby in his crying mothers arms, as a toddler holding his older sisters hand in the sept, the incident in primary school when he had gotten into a fight with a classmate, as a teenager partying every night, even some as recent as a month ago when he finished college. Every one of them questioning how much of his grandfather was in him and how long was it until he showed his true colours. He knew Rhaenys, Dany and Vis got the same treatment. Especially Viserys, who looked almost identical to a younger Aerys.
He was knocked out of his thoughts when he felt something hit his head. He turned around to find Arya and Rickon Stark, standing behind a tree not far from him. Laughing, as a pinecone fell to his feet. He felt irritated at the interruption but decided to let it go and laughed too. Though is own laugh didn't sound any bit genuine.
The two smiled at him and Aegon wondered which one of them had thrown the pinecone. The girl was first to speak.
''Father sent us out to look for you'' she grinned. ''They got afraid that you had gone off and gotten yourself lost''.
''Dany said you probably got distracted by your own reflection, again!'' Rickon added in.
Aegon was brought back to the time when Dany and Arianne had caught him watching his own reflection, they had stood at the door phone in hand filming him flexing and winking at himself. They had yet to show it to anyone. Preferring for now to attain favours from him. Aegon could feel his face turn red with shame, had Dany shown it to the starks when he wasn't there. He turned his head up to the sun, only to see that it was gone and in its place were dark clouds and amongst them a glimpse of the moon. He had gotten so lost in his thoughts he hadn't even noticed the sun set.
''Hey, sleeping beauty'' it was Theon Greyjoy who broke him out of his thoughts this time. Robb, Jon and Theon had joined the two young starks, who now looked ready to burst from laughter, Robbs warning glance making them try hide it behind their hands. He then turned to Aegon with a kind smile.
''Are you okay?''
Aegon hadn't realised he had zoned out again. A memory of a terrible dinner floated through his mind but before he could examine it he heard Jon coughing, to get his attention he presumed. Theon had joined in with Arya and Rickon in their amusement of him, and the three were now openly laughing at his expense. It finally occurred to Aegon that he should probably answer. They probably thought he was a half-wit. He cleared his throat.
''I-I was collecting the branches for the fire'' The group looked amused as Aegon followed their lead to look at the pitiful three sticks he had gathered. He once again felt his face heat up and desperately tried to come up with a good excuse as fast as he could, only to be beat by Robb.
''You should go back now with what you have gathered, we'll collect the rest''
Aegon could see the hint of laughter in his face, though he tried to keep it as straight and blank as one could. Not wanting it to seem like he was incapable of collecting a bunch of sticks, he was about to object when Robb ordered the younger Starks to go back with him, since it was getting too dark for children to stay out in the woods alone. Arya then began to argue that she was not a child and could well take care of herself. Aegon looked to the younger boy, who was strangely quiet as he overlooked Aegon before a wide grin spread across his face. He caught onto Arya's arm, who was still arguing with her eldest brother, and whispered something into her ear. Simultaneously, they both turned to him as wicked grins spread across their faces. Without further dispute, she quickly agreed to go as both her and Rickon turned back towards camp.
The other guys suspiciously watched them go. Jon shouted out to them.
''Go STRAIGHT back to camp! N0 STRAYING off the road! Do you hear me??!!''
They hummed back their agreement without once looking back. Robb then turned to him with that questioning look of his. Aegon, no longer feeling the camping spirit as he had before, started to follow the younger Starks. As he walked he felt the breeze get stronger and decided going back to the campsite was the best decision. He watched the two Starks in front of him and followed their lead, only now realising he hadn't paid a single bit of attention to where he was going and if Eddard Stark hadn't sent his kids to check on him, he would have truly been lost. The two seemed to know the woods by heart, though Aegon didn't remember them ever mentioning coming here before. The girl was a teenager and the boy was well, still a boy.
Aegon remembered the evil grins they had shot him earlier and wondered at what childish prank they would play on him.
After all, how bad could a Stark kid be.