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“There is a matter of children, Your Grace.” Laenor drinks from his gilded goblet, his spare hand rife with tension. “We have established that my… interests lie elsewhere.”

“Indeed, cousin.” Rhaenyra replies, spearing her fork into a slice of pear. She allows a faint twitch of her lips. “Your proclivities matter not as long as I provide suitable heirs to the Iron Throne and House Targaryen.”

“And House Velaryon? We need an heir to Driftmark. I will have to renounce my claim following your coronation as is expected of the Prince Consort.” 

Rhaenyra pats her mouth dry. She hadn’t considered House Velaryon’s politics much less their line of succession. Her father spoke plainly of the arrangement of their betrothal and why it must be done. While it wasn’t implicitly said, House Velaryon had to be appeased following her father spurning Lord Corlys of a proper Valyrian betrothal for the Lady Hightower. 

“And your father won’t accept any of Ser Vaemond’s sons?”

Laenor’s face relaxes as a sharp chuckle escapes him. “Not when he has a perfectly healthy firstborn son who can sire his own sons regardless of his proclivities. He hasn’t said it but it is expected that our secondborn son will be the heir to Driftmark and our first will be the heir to the Iron Throne.”

Rhaenyra’s gaze grows cold, hands folding in her lap delicately. “And if I can only birth daughters?” 

Laenor indulges in another glass of wine. “Then he will consider my uncle’s sons and grandsons and ask us to betroth our daughters to them.” 

Rhaenyra’s jaw tightens minutely but she relaxes her posture to be more agreeable. “Forgive me, cousin, but your father was most willing to support a woman’s claim at the Great Council and has graciously allowed our match, would he not consider naming one of our daughters as heir to Driftmark?” 

Laenor’s smile is an ironic thing. It is both kind and derisive. “That was for the Iron Throne.” 

Rhaenyra bites back a snarl that could rival Syrax’s. Doesn’t it always lead back to that blasted chair of tarnished, burnt swords? 

“My father would gladly, and without hesitation, take on the role of Prince Consort if it meant his son and grandsons would be the future kings of Westeros. He expects the same of me.” Laenor calls for their plates to be taken away and stands. “But Driftmark is different. It is our homestead. Shall I introduce you to it? And to Seasmoke?” 

Rhaenyra takes his proffered hand and pushes her chair back. “We have already met but I am agreeable to reacquainting myself with him.”

Laenor’s face lights up and he offers her his arm. “A reintroduction then. Say, both our dragons are young and have such exquisite and unique coloring, do you perchance think they will be open to mating?”

If Syrax is anything like her rider, she is attracted to the mount of brash, arrogant, destructive men with amethyst eyes, wicked smiles and a restless heart that leaves her breathless and longing and alone. 

Rhaenyra merely smiles teasingly. “If he doesn’t have the proclivities of his rider.” 

Laenor laughs jovially, squeezing her forearm tenderly as he begins to escort her out of the dining hall and towards Driftmark’s dragonpit. “On the contrary, dear cousin, Syrax has the beauty of her rider and I’m certain Seasmoke will find it most difficult to resist her.”

Rhaenyra smiles at the thought of Syrax teasing Seasmoke with her wingspan and tail. She likes to play coy with the few male dragons in the dragonpit at King’s Landing, particularly a blood red serpent whose mating call was a high-pitched whistle that responded to Syrax’s croons in kind. “She will certainly prove herself a challenge for Seasmoke. She is quite selective.”

Laenor grins knowingly. “Dragons are hardly monogamous but they are possessive if they choose a mate.”

Rhaenyra squeezes his elbow in retribution. “Syrax is hardly ready to lay eggs. She is a juvenile dragon with centuries ahead of her. She will pick a mate when she’s ready, if she ever is. She’s a wild thing, a free spirit and I pity any dragon who tries to claim her without her permission.” 

“Nevertheless, we will have to reacquaint our dragons and that of Meleys. They will have to cordially coexist if nothing else since they will be cohabitating.” Laenor says decisively. “And that doesn’t take into account our children’s dragons but arrangements will be made.”

Rhaenyra abruptly stops walking and softly tugs her hand out of his grip. “May we speak candidly, Laenor?”

Laenor smiles curiously. “I thought we had been, Rhaenyra.”

Rhaenyra gathers her hands in front of her and straightens her posture, looking her future husband straight in the eyes as a future queen shall. “It is undeniable that our union will bring upon a new age of prosperity to Westeros with our combined wealth, might, dragons and Valyrian ancestry. Nobody will dare challenge us if we are united but I must ask, Laenor, since we are prognosticating about our future offspring as if it's an inevitable and not a mere possibility, will you be able to provide me with heirs?”

Laenor doesn’t avoid her gaze which Rhaenyra appreciates but it is undeniable that he is apprehensive. “Rhaenyra…”

“Have you ever lied with a woman?” 

“No, Your Grace.”

“Have you tried?”

He winces. “Yes, Rhaenyra. Many times.” 

She sighs heavily, defeated. “And none were fruitful?” 

“None.” He approaches her with soft, guarded lavender eyes. 

“Then we are at an impasse, Ser Velaryon.” She states solemnly. “How can we possibly bring upon a new age of Houses Targaryen and Velaryon if you are physically incapable of impregnating me? My Father is expecting grandchildren with pure Valyrian blood to be the heirs to his throne. And do not suggest to me to find a lover that will provide me his seed to fulfill our duties, do not insult me with the suggestion of bastards as our heirs even if you were to claim them as your own.”

Laenor gives her a guilty, bashful smile that is entirely too endearing from her elder cousin. “I would be remiss if I said that I hadn’t anticipated this predicament when Father told me that your father had begun a betrothal contract with us. I have enlisted the help of my mother and she has heard rumors from Essos that there are solutions to this.” 

She narrows her eyes at his evasion. “Rumors?”

“Yes, rumors.” He offers her his arm again and she is hesitant to take it. “There are those with my proclivities of both sexes in the Free Cities. It is not as taboo there as it is here but according to my mother there are practitioners that facilitate pregnancy for those in our predicament without consummation.” 

Rhaenyra gasps and pulls away from him. “You jest! Such a thing is not possible.”

“I did not believe my mother either when she approached me with this but she has been exploring this diligently for us as a viable alternative.” Laenor continues and doesn’t offer his arm again. “She is attempting to find one of these practitioners so she can interrogate them herself and discern the validity of such rumors.” 

“How would such a thing be possible?” Rhaenyra wonders. How can pregnancy be facilitated from outside influence? How is conception a possibility without a man and woman copulating?

She prays that it is possible. If it is, then their lives have infinitely gotten easier.

“When your mother meets with one of these practitioners I want to be present.” Rhaenyra approaches her cousin and takes his arm firmly. “I have my own questions and would gladly strike down any charlatans.”

Laenor laughs and nuzzles her forehead, pressing a soft kiss at her hairline. “Of course, Your Grace. Now, shall we visit Seasmoke?”






 

 

Laenor sends Rhaenyra a raven a fortnight later informing her that his mother had been successful in her search for these practitioners. She broadened her search once Laenor had informed his mother that Rhaenyra was interested in the possibility of her findings.  

Laenor wrote that Princess Rhaenys was bringing two of them, one from Lys and the other from Volantis, to Driftmark. She had sent a ship with a small envoy to the Free Cities to find them, bargain with them and then retrieve them. 

Rhaenyra asked her ladies in waiting to prepare a small bag for her while she visited her father in his chambers. Her father happily greeted her, asking her to sit opposite him on his desk. “How is my lovely heir? Or should I say ‘how is the blushing bride?’” 

“I am well, Father. I have come to tell you that my betrothed has invited me to Driftmark at the behest of our beloved cousin Rhaenys.” Rhaenyra says, reaching forward to pluck a grape from the gilded bowl of fruit set aside. “She wishes to dine with me before our wedding as two princesses of House Targaryen do. Perhaps to speak about the wedding arrangements.”

Her father waves her request off as he is entirely uninterested in perceived womanly matters as she predicted. Best to keep him blissfully ignorant rather than risk his ire if she were to take Syrax without forewarning. He was already irate with her. 

“You are taking Syrax, I presume?”

“Yes, Father.” 

He is back to drinking from his goblet and idly scrolling through multiple pieces of parchment. “I shall not expect to see you on the morrow then.” 

She smiles and gets up from her seat. She walks around the desk towards her father and presses a kiss to his cheek in farewell. “Give the Queen my regards.”

He takes her hand, rubs it affectionately and presses two kisses on the back of her hand and knuckles before bidding her farewell in their ancestral tongue. “Fly safe and swift.” 

After she retrieves her bag, changes into her riding leather garments and bids farewell to her ladies in waiting, she is making her way to the dragonpit with Ser Criston following but notably keeping his distance. 

“Princess, might we have a word?” He inquires as they enter the pit. She’s already conversing with the handlers to bring out Syrax for her so she does not see him shuffle his feet with uncertainty. 

“Ser Criston, I am expected at Driftmark before sunset. I must make haste or Lord Corlys and Princess Rhaenys might take offense.” She says, the screeches of Syrax coming closer. “I am not at liberty to take my time.”

He flushes, big brown eyes even more doe-eyed than before. “Apologies, Your Grace. I promise to speak quickly.”

“I shall speak plainly, Ser Criston.” She says as her beloved dragon walks towards her, she looks at him from the corner of her eye. “Ser Laenor is expecting me.” 

She approaches her dragon, stroking the golden beauty with reverent hands just as Ser Criston’s face falls, the light in his eyes shuddering instantaneously. “Of course, Your Grace. When shall we expect your return?”

She hoists her bag onto the saddle and mounts it soon thereafter. She ties her bag with the rope provided by her ladies in waiting to the front of her saddle, securing the garment bag with multiple knots. “My Father is aware of when I will return.” 

She takes to the skies before Ser Criston can even attempt to garble a response.

Have men nothing but audacity?

No matter. Her flight is as her father hoped, swift but it is by no means safe. She wouldn’t be a Targaryen if safety was her priority but she does arrive with little fanfare as she sent ahead a raven to Driftmark to prepare for her expedient arrival. 

Laenor is at the dragonpit with two guards adorned with the Velaryon colors and seahorse sigil. He is rushing forward to greet her with confident strides and open arms. “What your dragon lacks in size, she compensates with quickness.” 

Rhaenyra smirks down at her cousin. She reaches forward to rub her hand down the spine of her dragon’s neck. “Are you sure you want to say that so closely where she can hear such slander?” 

Laenor’s guards immediately step backwards much to the glee of Rhaenyra. Her cousin, however, is scowling. “Come now, cousin. Surely your dragon knows I was basking in her swiftness.”

Rhaenyra throws her bag at him in reply and dismounts her dragon with practiced movements. He sputters, wrinkling his nose at the coarse material of the garment bag but compitulates easily. He hands the bag to the guard with a shorn head and offers his arm to his cousin. 

She takes off her leather gloves and clicks her tongue at Syrax. Syrax sends a chirp in response and is then distracted by the dragon handlers approaching her with rapid fire Valyrian, wielding staffs.

Laenor barks a command at them in their ancestral language. “Fetch her two hogs. Quickly.” He guides his future bride past them, their escorts trailing behind them a few paces. “And make certain Her Grace’s belongings are in her quarters.” 

Princess Rhaenys is resplendent as always but infinitely more relaxed in her seaside castle than the Red Keep. Her amethyst eyes are soft, bringing forth a pang in Rhaenyra’s stomach at the similarity. Targaryen eyes are unmatched.

“Rhaenyra, darling.” She squeezes the Crown Princess’ hand affectionately. “You look well. Come, sit. We have much to discuss.”

Rhaenys guides them to a large study with an ornate fireplace, tapestries adorned on the walls, book shelves filled to the brim with tomes, and decorated with the Velaryon teal and numerous, nameless sea creatures. There is a tray with a tea set, sliced bread, butter and marmalade. Her stomach rumbles at the sight. 

Laenor pulls out a chair for her as Rhaenys is helped to a chair by one of the kingsguard tasked with defending a princess of House Targaryen. He moves towards the door, his back against the wall and a solemn look upon his face. 

Rhaenyra wonders if she will have a kingsguard –better yet a queensguard – that’ll remain with her until his fiftieth nameday like this man has remained faithfully by Rhaenys’ side. She hopes she can find someone that is that ardent in their duty and devotion. 

“Laenor wrote to me about your findings, Rhaenys.” She begins, crossing her legs languidly and takes the proffered cup of tea from one of the Velaryon servants. 

Rhaenys smiles at her son in bemusement. “He was rather forthwith in his correspondence.” 

Laenor flushes, covering his face hopelessly with a teacup. “I am not alone in my zeal, Mother.”

Rhaenys laughs into her own teacup. “Indeed you are not, son.”

Rhaenyra is too busy giggling at her cousin’s flustered state to enjoy her tea. To see a knight and dragonrider as accomplished as Laenor brought to such a state by his mother is a rare but wholly welcome sight. 

“I am rather curious to see what this ‘practitioner’ has to say.” Rhaenyra sets her half-empty tea cup down and takes a slice of rye bread off its plate to spread some butter upon it. “Have they arrived?”

“Oh, yes.” Laenor says, wiping his fingertips on a cloth. “They arrived early this morning. They are awaiting your summons, Mother, Your Grace.” 

“If I may.” Rhaenyra says. “How did you come about such rumors? Surely the Ladies of the Realm aren’t gossiping about such matters.”

Rhaenys takes her cloth to dab at her mouth. “Surely not. I had been inquiring about aphrodisiacs under the guise of impotence to traders. I had hoped to find a strong enough tonic for your wedding night so that Laenor could fulfill his duty as a husband.”

Laenor shrinks under her words, his eyes downcast. Rhaenyra reaches over to place a supportive hand on his knee. He places his hand atop hers, squeezing it gratefully. 

“I was introduced to a woman who specializes in these sorts of things. She must’ve caught my Westerosi accent because she immediately began to promote her strongest aphrodisiacs. She must’ve thought I was there on behalf of our King because rumors had spread to Essos that our King struggled to sire a son. I suppose they assumed that Viserys had certain proclivities as the reason why he couldn’t perform his royal duty.” Rhaenys huffs ironically. 

“They believe that if you bed men you can’t sire men?” Rhaenyra demands incredulously. “That’s absurd. Plenty of men bed women and sire women. That is ludicrous.” 

“I’m inclined to agree.” Rhaenys says, humor alight in her eyes. “But such are spoken as if they are omens and one this merchant woman certainly believed if not as an unbridled truth but perhaps as a selling point.” 

“Then she mentioned there are more exclusive but expensive avenues.” Rhaenys sets her cup down and crosses her legs, placing her ring-adorned hands on her lap. “And that there were nobility that used such avenues to conceive children. I hadn’t the faintest idea what she was talking about, it was so ludicrous but I am nothing if not thorough.” 

“Based on that description I would assume witchcraft or fraud.” Laenor’s pallor had begun to recede. “What are these avenues? Rituals? Stealing children from slaves?”

“Nothing so crass.” His mother says with pinched lips. “It is a procedure.”

“Procedure?” Rhaenyra and Laenor are equal in their incredulity. 

“Yes. It is a procedure that allows for impregnation.” Rhaenys turns her head to look at her kingsguard. “Bring her to us.”

“Mother. What do you mean by procedure?” 

Princess Rhaenys straightens her back. “As I’ve come to understand it, a man provides seed into a cup and a practitioner administers it into a woman’s womb using a long instrument to pour it into her. The woman has to be on her back, with her legs spread to insure conception such as with coupling. This is done by the nobility that has trouble conceiving children because of age, physical incapabilities or proclivities such as Laenor’s.” 

Rhaenyra and Laenor are left similarly speechless. Rhaenyra is trying to imagine herself in such a position. She wouldn’t conceive children like her mother or Alicent or even Rhaenys herself did. She would have an alleged practitioner insert Laenor’s seed into her instead of the man doing it himself after a round of fucking. She would have to lie back and allow the seed to pool in her cunt with the hope that a child would grow within her womb. 

If such a thing is possible, she would absolutely do it. It would not only strengthen her claim to the throne if she had legitimate, Valyrian children with purple eyes, pearl-white hair that could ride dragons. The future of her dynasty would come from her womb. Future kings and queens would come from her blood, not little Aegon’s, not Daemon’s, not Alicent’s… hers. 

A woman is escorted into the parlor and she does not look like a charlatan. A charlatan wouldn’t have such fine garments made of expensive fabrics. Her hands wouldn’t be adorned with rings and matching bracelets. She wouldn’t have the veneer of a woman who lived in luxury. If she was a fraud, she would have been killed and thrown into the Narrow Sea for deceiving nobility and defrauding them of coin. 

Rhaenyra stands regally, her back straight and her gaze strong. “Explain this procedure.” She commands. “And thoroughly. For if it is fruitful, you will be richly rewarded for your contribution to the conception of the future heirs to the Iron Throne and the Targaryen dynasty.” 



 

 







In a year’s time when Rhaenyra Targaryen gives birth to a healthy baby boy, she is relieved to see that the procedure didn’t result in a stillborn birth, like her beloved mother had suffered so many times, nor any visible abnormalities. She desperately feared that the unnatural means to her son’s conception would result in a cursed existence.

She is elated to see that there are strands of Valyrian white hair atop of her messy, bloodied, squalling infant’s head. She anxiously awaits for him to open his eyes to see proof of his pure Valyrian ancestry. She doesn’t even care that the midwives are working between her legs. She doesn’t care that her body is wrought with exhaustion. 

Laenor is invited inside and the visible relief he exudes for the health of his wife and their child permeates the room. He kneels by her side, placing reverent kisses to her brow and caresses her messy, sweaty hair back from her forehead. 

Rhaenyra is still panting but her breaths are rife with satisfaction and pride. “Hold your son, Laenor.” She whispers in Valyrian. She lifts her arms, holding the snuffling infant towards her dearest companion and husband. 

Laenor gasps, gently taking their progeny in his arms, his hold is awkward and brimming with fear and inexperience. His eyes begin to overflow with tears. She knows why he’s crying. He thought he would never have this. A child of his blood. He craved children of his own and wanted his blood to live on in a brood of children. He presumed he would leave this world without it and resigned himself to it but here in his arms, is his firstborn son. 

“Oh, Rhaenyra.” Laenor sobs, his fingers trembling as he caresses the cheek of the sleepy baby. “He’s beautiful.” 

Rhaenyra’s eyes tear up with such love for her cousin and their child. She no longer holds disdain and terror for her womb, for childbearing, how could she when this is the result? 

“The King and Queen have arrived.” The maester announces interrupting their first moments as new parents. “His Grace is most anxious to meet his grandson.” 

Rhaenyra looks over to the waiting maester and nods, closing her legs as the midwife pulls the blanket over her bloodied limbs. She tries to sit up but winces in pain. Her back and abdomen are sore. There is a dull throbbing between her legs that she breathes through. 

Her father waltzes in and is beaming with so much pride and fervent joy. They hadn’t disclosed to him the nature of Rhaenyra’s pregnancy but he was the most enthusiastic when Rhaenyra and Laenor’s union immediately bore fruit. He could be heard throughout the Red Keep shouting about the future of House Targaryen. He and Lord Corlys were most ridiculous with their shared pride and boasting. It was embarrassing.

King Viserys, First of His Name, takes hold of Laenor’s shoulder with a firm grip and squeeze. “Oh my Rhaenyra, he looks so much like you.” 

Laenor smiles and turns his arms so the proud king can look at his grandson closely. “Meet your first grandson, Your Grace. He’s the future of your dynasty. Your heir’s heir.” 

King Viserys takes his grandson gently, with practiced hands and immediately soothes the whining infant with soft bounces. He peers at the soft features of the newborn with affectionate, searching eyes. “My heir’s heir, indeed.” He whispers, leaning in to place a gentle kiss to his forehead. 

Alicent had taken a seat by Rhaenyra’s bedside. She hadn’t requested to hold the child and she might never ask. “What have you decided to name him?” 

Rhaenyra doesn’t look at the Queen. Her eyes are glued to the way her father has cradled her son closely, whispering to him in Valyrian. But she does answer. “Jacaerys. Jacaerys Targaryen.”

Alicent gasps. “Targaryen? But Ser Laenor–”

“He cannot be a Velaryon and inherit the throne, Alicent.” The King explains, his eyes looking upon his wife in her defiant Hightower green dress. “If Rhaenyra was a man, all of their children would be Targaryens. But Ser Laenor and Lord Corlys understood the rites of succession and were gracious enough to allow their firstborn son to be given the surname Targaryen. That will not be the case with any children thereafter as is their right.”

Rhaenyra holds her arms up before Alicent can speak. “My son needs to feed, Father.”

Viserys is reluctant to part with his grandson but does so with a loving smile. He places numerous soft kisses on his daughter’s head. He is so incandescently happy. He hasn’t felt this since Aemma gave them Rhaenyra. There’s always something about the first. 

“Prince Daemon sends his regards, Laenor.” Viserys informs the Velaryon heir. “And his congratulations to you, Rhaenyra.” 

Rhaenyra laughs derisively but helps her son latch onto her so he can eat. “How kind of him. Was the raven in Lady Laena’s hand?” 

Viserys shrugs, dismissing the subject. The Rogue Prince had left in a strop after the news of Rhaenyra’s pregnancy made it to the Red Keep. His face was as red as Caraxes’ scales. Lady Laena Velaryon had been most optimistic with her chances to soothe the seething prince. But one does not soothe a dragon. The dragon just rages until it ultimately exhausts itself. 

The midwife chooses then to shoo everyone from the birthing chamber except Ser Laenor. King Viserys shakes Laenor’s hand and kisses both mother and baby on the forehead before leaving with a trailing and quietly fuming Alicent behind him. 

Rhaenyra laughs breathlessly. “She thought my son was going to come out looking like a right bastard.” 

Laenor pulls up a chair so he can sit down while gazing at his son feeding upon his mother’s breast. “How could he possibly be a bastard when he looks like that?”

Rhaenyra smiles. “How can he be a bastard when he has his father’s eyes?” 

Laenor leans over to see Jacaerys’ eyes eagerly looking at his mother and gasps. “He has the Velaryon eyes.” 

Jacaerys undoubtedly has purple eyes but his are identical to Laenor’s and Corlys’ eyes. Lord Corlys is going to be insufferable when he sees that his grandson, the future king of Westeros has Velaryon eyes and if the tufts of hair are any indicator, he will have gorgeous curly hair that he didn’t inherit from Viserys’ side of the family. 

“Your parents are going to be beside themselves with smugness.” Rhaenyra laughs in delight. “Jacaerys wouldn’t exist without them.” 

Once Rhaenyra deemed the practitioner honest and enlisted her services, she didn’t want to ask her father for the money in the case of Alicent and by extension Otto Hightower discovering. They would be spreading rumors about witchcraft before the day was out to delegitimize their son. Therefore House Velaryon would be paying for the procedure. Rhaenys had been the one to confront her husband with her findings and Laenor and Rhaenyra’s desire to try and have children. He didn’t need convincing and had paid the practitioner whatever her asking price was and more for the chance of trueborn Velaryon heirs. 

Their investment had worked seamlessly. Due to their youth, Rhaenyra had been pregnant within three months of attempts. She was thankful. She had prayed and prayed she wouldn’t be afflicted with her mother’s fertility issues. The gods of Old Valyria had blessed her. She would make sure she was worthy of their blessings. 



 

 


 

 

 

Rhaenyra is sitting in a rocking chair in the nursery on Dragonstone. She is singing a Valyrian lullaby to her six-month old baby. He is clutching at her breast as she croons to him in their ancestral tongue. His eyes have begun to droop in contentment. She steadies her grip while she pushes her foot off the floor to rock them gently. 

Jacaerys Targaryen is a Targaryen by name but he is irrefutably a Velaryon. It is in his complexion that has darkened since his birth. It is in how his hair curls in ways no Targaryen ever has. He is exquisite. 

She sets him down into his crib and moves his emerald green dragon egg beside his sleeping body with pride. He curls around it like the Valyrian dragonlords of old. This is when he is undeniably Targaryen. 

“Your Grace?” 

Rhaenyra holds up a finger. She looks down at her son and he is thankfully undisturbed. He has the lungs of a dragon and she would rather not have to deal with his incessant wailing for a few minutes. 

She walks away from the crib, leaving him with his nursemaid and towards the entrance of the nursery. “Yes, Ser?”

He clears his throat, placing his hand on the hilt of his sword. “A dragon has just landed.” 

Rhaenyra smirks. “Have you not seen a dragon before, Ser Erryk?” 

He is unamused. “It’s a dragon that is new to us. He does not look like the mounts of Ser Laenor or Lady Laena or Princess Rhaenys.” 

Rhaenyra feels her heart stop. “What color was the dragon?”

“Blood red, Your Grace.” 

“Fuck.” 

“Shall I call the others?” Ser Erryk is following closely behind her stalking footsteps.

“No.” She says. “Nothing that drastic. It’s just my Uncle Daemon.”

Ser Erryk flushes in obvious embarrassment. “I am sorry, Your Grace.”

“I would have thought you would have heard of the Blood Wyrm by now, Ser Erryk.” Rhaenyra remarks. “He is, by all accounts, a legend.”

“I have never seen his mount, Your Grace. I had been stationed elsewhere but I should have known. I will remedy that, Your Grace.” Ser Erryk’s pallor has been replaced with scorching redness upon his cheeks. 

“It is fine, Ser Erryk.” Rhaenyra says tersely. She doesn’t want to hear his babbling. “Proceed as you were.”

“Yes, Your Grace.” 

She is met with a recognizable sight. It is her uncle sitting on the throne of Dragonstone. He is always sitting where he shouldn’t with such unabashed arrogance it’s almost comforting. 

She decides to cut with Valyrian steel. “Have you finished throwing your tantrum, Uncle?” 

He looks at her with contempt and bites back just as sharply. “Where is your husband, Princess?”

She has no time for this. It’s time to settle this. To air out all grievances. “You are sitting upon a seat you hold no title to. My seat.”

He leans back into the throne with nonchalance that irks her very being and stokes her dragon flame. “It was my seat for years, forgive an old man for his nostalgia and forgetfulness.” 

Rhaenyra crosses the room to start her ascent of the steps of the throne. “Are these lapses in judgment why you haven’t come to meet my son? Are you here to sit upon the Targaryen stronghold once more because you have been displaced further down the line of succession?” 

He attempts to hide the impact of the blow by smirking. “Motherhood has made you cruel, niece.” 

Her eyes glint with dragonfire. “Do not poke a mother dragon.” 

He chuckles and gets up from the throne. He puts Dark Sister back on his belt. He gazes down at her necklace and back to her eyes. “Forgive an old dragon for trespassing upon your nest, niece. Forgive me for coping with my anguish as only an old dragon can.”

“With temper tantrums? The Vale may never recover from your anguish.” 

“Fuck the Vale.” He spits dismissively. “Those bronze cunts can all fuck off.” 

She smiles pleasantly. “Tread carefully, Uncle. My mother was an Arryn.” 

“You are no Arryn.” He says, hissing the words. “You are a dragon.”

“A mother dragon now and soon a dragon queen. I am no little dragon anymore, Uncle. I haven’t been in some time.” She says plainly. “I’m a dragon that has no time for old, bitter dragons that want to set the world aflame because he didn’t get what he wanted.”

He descends the steps, his eyes never leaving her. “Dragons are not used to being denied, dear niece. And I was denied.”

She sneers. “You had two opportunities to stake your claim but you ran away. You always run away. And now my son is paying for it. Will you show up next time wearing green just to spite me? Is that what old dragons do?” 

“You think I would align myself with those Hightower cunts? You think I would support them over our family?” He is blazing with anger. “I would rather die a peasant’s death than help Otto fucking Hightower put his blood on our family’s throne.” 

“My son is my heir. You have shone no allegiance to him, to me, to us. You have only been self-interested. You have only conveyed your imagined slights time and time again. You have been the perfect distraction for Otto Hightower and you are blind to it. He seeks to divide us even further and he is succeeding because your temper is so easily stoked. He knows your weaknesses and exploits them and you let him. He knows you won’t support me or my son because you’re still angry at being born second.” She pushes him away when he tries to clasp her hands. “I cannot fight two fronts, Uncle. Alicent is already grooming her son to rule at the behest of Otto Hightower and you left me to deal with this alone.”

“Rhaenyra, I did not leave of my own volition.” Daemon pleads with her. “I asked for your hand and your Father banished me for having the audacity. I told him I wanted us to marry in the tradition of our house and restore glory to our house. And I sullied my chances when I took you to the Street of Silk and that fucking brothel instead of pleading with Viserys to give me an annulment for retaking the Step Stones. I should have done that but I didn’t because old dragons are stupid and short-sighted.”

He steps away so he can kneel, offering up Dark Sister before her. “But they are also loyal. I kneel before you, Rhaenyra of House Targaryen, Crown Princess, Heir to the Iron Throne and I will kneel again at your coronation and again at your son’s coronation barring death. I’m a fool, Rhaenyra but I am loyal to the blood of the dragon. I am loyal to you, my dear, dear niece. I am yours.” 

Rhaenyra is as pigheaded as her uncle. “I shan’t accept unless you meet my son.” 

Daemon only smiles still on his knees. “Show me this whelp, then.” 

She thinks her uncle looks infinitely more attractive sitting in a rocking chair cradling her son than sitting upon a throne. 

Her uncle gazes down at her son in his arms, he’s quiet and content. “How did you manage to conceive him? Laenor’s preferences are clear.” 

Rhaenyra smirks. “What, you don’t think he’s a bastard?” 

“I had hoped he was.” Daemon whispers, bringing his index finger to Jacaerys’ cheek, her baby instantaneously wrapping his fist around it. 

“It would have been easier for you if he was?” Rhaenyra rolls her eyes. “It wouldn’t have been easier for me if I had bastard children that didn’t look like us and Laenor was most willing to accept any children I conceived with lovers. If I want to be queen, I need legitimate heirs whose parentage cannot be called into question. Alicent was eager to report back to her father at the possibility but she saw his eyes and his complexion and knew she would sooner be called mad. He is Laenor’s. He is mine.” 

Daemon brought Jacaerys’ hand to his mouth to kiss. “How? I have heard stories of Laenor’s tryst with men and his failed ones with women. He couldn’t fuck a cunt if you held him under dragonfire.” 

“Why does it matter?” Rhaenyra whispers, bringing her hand to support Jacaerys’ head and intertwining hers and Daemon’s fingers. “Will it ease your heart if I told you that Laenor hasn’t touched me?” 

Daemon is pressing reverent, desperate kisses to her arm that is astride his shoulder. “Rhaenyra, please.” 

Rhaenyra releases her hold on Jacaerys’ head safe in the knowledge that Daemon won’t drop her son. She grips his chin with her thumb and index finger. “Jacaerys is our son. He is of Laenor’s seed.” She releases his chin.

He leans upwards, straining in the chair, arms occupied with child but he kisses her neck with bruising kisses, whimpering into her flesh. “I am cursed to live without your touch or your love. Don’t put an old dragon through anymore.”

Rhaenyra laughs. “We had intervention, you old fool.”

He pulls away from her neck, lips swollen. “What?” 

Rhaenyra merely smiles and explains it to him in Valyrian just in case there are any Hightower or Strong spies lurking about. Her uncle is both intrigued and disgusted by the thought of being impregnated in such an odd, unfamiliar way but can’t deny the results. His eyes can’t lie about how he already feels about Jacaerys.

“Lady Laena has female lovers.” Daemon muses. “She’s been trying to seduce me for ages but I have rejected her. I have to wonder if she would be amenable to a similar agreement. We can combine House Targaryen and Velaryon’s dragons and coffers even further. If Lord Corlys is agreeable, he can draw up the betrothal contracts between our houses if Laena and I are fortunate enough to have daughters. The Iron Throne should only have Valyrian blood, or as much as possible.” He sends his niece a cheeky wink. 

“If that is what you want.” Rhaenyra says. “I would never begrudge you happiness, Daemon. If you shall remarry, marry for love.” 

“Marrying for love is for those who have less responsibilities and less to lose. I intend for House Targaryen to be glorious long after we are dead. We have to make sure your children and grandchildren are the future of this house. The Hightowers, while rich and ambitious, will only be our ruin. Aegon cannot be a threat to you or Jacaerys. Viserys needs to make sure that child knows he is a second born royal child. He won’t inherit the throne but he won’t be cast aside. Resentment festers and with the Hightower coffers, it’ll be nigh impossible to beat them.” Rhaenyra’s heart flutters. He is prognosticating like her future Lord Hand, or King Consort. 

“You will have to make amends with my Father, Uncle.” Rhaenyra caresses his cheek. “He will never listen to you otherwise. He won’t hear it if we tell him that Aegon is being raised as a Hightower with dragon scales. He needs to be raised as a dragon, Hightower half breed or not.” She chuckles at his wrinkled nose. She doesn’t actually believe in that nonsense but it is undeniable that Alicent is shoving Hightower green at her son. “Because the House of the Dragon needs to be united. Or else we are as doomed as Old Valyria.” 

He sighs in resignation but nods. He brings baby Jacaerys to his face so he can kiss him on the forehead. He smiles. “He’s warm like the dragon.” 

The pride of the dragon stirs in her gut. “He’s a dragon prince, Uncle. Of course he is.” 

“You need to have more.” Daemon rocks baby Jace. “Lord Corlys will want an heir for Driftmark. But you need more than just two heirs. My grandparents had thirteen children. They had two male heirs and they both died before either of them sat on the Iron Throne.”

“I’m aware. Laenor and I have discussed it. We will wait until Jace has had his second name-day before we try again.” 

Daemon scowls darkly. “How many Velaryon brats will I have to love?”

Rhaenyra smiles wickedly. “At least eight.”

Daemon’s snarl is almost as impressive as Caraxes’. “Don’t push it, niece. Or I will have to intervene.”

“Intervene? How?” 

Daemon purrs into her ear, flicking his tongue on her earlobe. “Your womb was made to house my heirs.”

Rhaenyra almost slaps him for his audacity. “Laenor is my companion. Touch him and you’ll never see or feel my cunt again.” 

Daemon bares his teeth but relents for the sake of the dozing baby in his arms. “Will you take no lovers? Laenor is with his, isn’t he? That’s why he isn’t here.”

“Laenor and I have an arrangement. He was here for a moon before he took flight to see his lover in King’s Landing. I have no issue as long as he’s discreet and Jace is a priority for him. Laenor hasn’t violated that yet. I suspect he’ll be back soon. He can’t stay away from Jace too long.” Rhaenyra smiles fondly at the thought of her husband. 

Daemon licks his lips, his eyes eying her pale skin and flushed neck. “I can take up residence in Dragonstone. If you’ll have me.”

“Uncle, you will quickly resent being my lover. I cannot have your children and you will resent them being Velaryons if I were to have them.” Rhaenyra is helpless as he kisses along her jaw. She hasn’t had a lover since Ser Criston and he was as virginal as she was. He didn’t lavish her neck with attention until her skin was pink and bruised. 

“I only wish to serve my queen.” He whispers, voice husky and dripping with desire. “Fulfill her needs, sate her desires, encourage her to take what she wants like the dragon she is.” 

She hisses when his teeth drag through the marks he’s left behind. She is restless and aching with desire and he’s barely touched her. “Move your shit into Dragonstone.”

She can feel him grin against her neck, victorious in his feral, dragon glory. “Yes, Princess.”