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Allegiance

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AN Update For New Readers: For those who are reading this fic specifically for Sansa/Margaery, please note that they are a secondary pairing in this fic that occurs later on, starting in Chapter 23.

 

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She wished she could have killed the girl anywhere other than the kitchen.

A drop of sweat ran down her temple as she was guided in an iron grip through the Keep towards the throne room. Two Unsullied in full uniform held her like a wild animal, regardless of the manacles on her wrists, even as she bowed her head and followed without question. Had this happened only a few years ago, the indignity of the the entire situation would have bothered her - but now, after years of harsh training that in many instances stripped away any self-respect she had, it barely even registered.

She remained silent as she was led through a crowd that had gathered for an audience with the Queen. Using quick, sideways glances, she calculated the best methods to extract herself from her captors if need be. Eyes. Neck. A blade in either would do it - and if I'm quick, I can hit each before they realize what has happened. They had taken the shortsword that hung from her belt, and found the knife she had strapped under her tunic, but they had not noticed the thin blades expertly hidden between the intentionally broken stitching in the soles of each of her boots. Easier if I could grab both, but with these chains I'll have to make due with one. Fast - I will need to do it faster than I've ever done it before.

She was brought to an abrupt halt in front of the man she recognized to be Queen Daenerys' Unsullied commander. The men on either side of her spoke High Valyrian in quiet, accusatory tones as the commander nodded. She tried to make out their conversation, but their familiar tongues loosed the words far too quickly for her ears to wrap around more than a few phrases - murderer, caught, sentence, immediate. Her brow furrowed as she realized that she may not even have an opportunity get out of the Keep before being cast to the Queen for judgement after all. No, all of these people have been waiting here - she is a Queen who prides herself on the equal treatment of her subjects. Important matters of state and gods know what else are on the line. Surely they will come before-

"Come," the guard on her right spoke in a broken common tongue. "You speak now, before death."

Apparently a Queen who prides herself on the equal treatment of her subjects placed what appeared to be cold-blooded murder very high on her priority list.

She was hauled up a flight of stairs and through a pair of heavy, ornate doors. She barely had time to glance at the Iron Throne before she was tossed to the stone floor, cutting her lip on her chains as she tried to break her fall. She shook her head and shifted to one knee, eyes darting quickly around, trying to assess her surroundings. A full row of guards to both the right and left - twelve. Twelve on each side. The only doors leading out are barred - except for the ones they brought me in through. Stained glass windows, they're too high up and there's nothing for me to climb. She took the space of a heartbeat to accept her fate. Valar Morghulis.

She kept her head down as the Unsullied commander climbed the steps towards the throne. She perked her ears, and heard the faint crackling of his leather as he bowed before speaking to the Queen at her behest. She didn't bother trying to catch the words this time; there was no point. She was done, she'd made her choice, and it was only going to be a matter of time before she paid in blood. The only question was how long would it take, and which hand would be stained once she'd fallen. Swallowing hard, she finally allowed herself to look up, and decided to take one last thing from this life for herself - a full, open look at the fabled Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, Daenerys Targaryen. The Queen was paying full attention to her commander as he described what the guards had told him, unaware of the intent gaze that fell upon her from the prisoner in question. That was good. She wanted the freedom to look at her with more than the furtive glances she'd had to steal from the stables over the past season. Her porcelain skin, the few locks of hair that would curl over her shoulders as she sat, the way her silks would cling to her curves, the depth of her bloodline's violet eyes - she needed all of these etched into her mind and heart when she met the Many-Faced God. Because if he can see you the way I see you, he will understand. He will know why I had to betray my order. Even if he will not forgive me, he will understand.

An abrupt silence caused her to blink and look away as she finished her unspoken prayer. The Unsullied commander stood beside the Queen now, her eyes narrowing almost imperceptibly as she took in the ruffian that kneeled on her floor. "Rise," she spoke with regal authority, "and tell me who you are."

A shuffle and clinking of shackles, and the murderer rose. "Your grace," a bow, "I have been called Cade."

The Queen arched her eyebrow, catching the wordplay in the response. "Cade," she replied, her tone even. "I asked who you are, not what name you may have been hiding under on my grounds." A pause, and then "I am told that you were found killing one of my kitchen maids."

Instinct pulled a lie to her lips, and she had to bite down on her tongue before it slipped through. Damn you Jaqen, you trained me too well. I don't even know how to speak honestly anymore. Steel gray eyes met violet a moment. "Not so, your Grace. She was not your kitchen maid, and she was dead before anyone found me. And the only reason I was discovered at all was because I took too long lifting her to throw out the window."

A few shocked gasps filled the hall, and even the cool composure of the Queen appeared to falter.

Seven hells. That... came out so very, very wrong. A quiet sigh as Cade shook her head a little, cropped bangs falling over one eye. "What I mean, your Grace," words started to tumble out quickly now, hoping to mitigate some of the truth's blunt trauma, "is that what was seen, was not what it looks like. I did kill someone, but it was not one of your kitchen maids-"

"So I am to excuse murder because you say it was not a kitchen maid?" Daenerys cut her off sharply.

"No! It's... she was going to kill you."

There was no softening of the Queen's eyes. "Yes. Of course. A young girl in the kitchen was going to cripple my guards with a butterknife and end me," she bit sarcastically, her knuckles white as she gripped the warped steel of her throne. "Clearly you take me for a fool."

"No, your Grace," her voice dropped, "the trouble is that right now, you don't know what you are dealing with. She was only the second they sent, but there will be more. May already be another here now."

"Another what?"

There's no turning back. Even if I do not reveal us, I have already failed, and they know. I can never go back to the House of Black and White.

"Another what? I will not ask you again."

"Your Grace," a pause. "The one now called Cade is of the Faceless Men of Braavos. A contract for your death was paid."

Daenerys' eyes widened slightly as a hush fell over the audience chamber. Most had heard of the Faceless Men, but they operated as phantoms. So expert in their craft that many of their targets were presumed dead of natural causes or accidents. They were never caught. They never revealed themselves.

"Nearly a year ago, they sent me to kill you."