The Tyroshi diplomat's jest had not been particularly amusing, in truth much of what he had said had been lost in translation, but Margaery threw her head back and laughed anyway. Hers was a husky, knowing sort of laughter. The kind that made men think of tangled sweaty sheets and energetic night-long couplings. This was not lost on the diplomat, and he drew her closer to his body than was appropriate. The minstrels' song picked up its tempo and she pulled the diplomat (what was his name? Dameno Bahglani? Domignee Bolagni?) closer yet. He grinned at her, his golden teeth glinting dully in the candlelight. She let go of him and took two quick turns with the other women, her long dark hair swinging freely to her waist. Then she returned to face him, holding out her hands for him to hold. Sweat was beading on his forehead and staining his brightly colored jerkin. He was a good dancer. And a handsome man, she guessed, under that green forked beard.
The dance ended and he leisurely led her back to the dais with her hand tucked in the crook of his elbow. She placed her other hand on his hard, muscled arm and caressed it, looking up into his eyes and pursing her lips into a secret smile.
"My lady," he said in his deep, thickly accented common tongue. "You dance very good."
"Why thank you, kind ser," she replied, smiling. She pinched his arm lightly. "And I can say the same to you. But you must call me 'your grace' or 'Queen Margaery' in my husband's presence. You have been here for many days now. You must be aware of how incorrectly used words and phrases anger him."
"The whole of Essos is know this, my queen. Which is why I sent here for negotiating. My common tongue is free from flaw."
She looked away and hid her grin in her hair. His common tongue was far from flawless. Watching her husband's face as he listened to the diplomat had been a great source of amusement for the past few days. For the first time since… Domino Balonee? Yes that must be his name. For the first time since Domino Balonee had led her away to dance she let her eyes find her husband again. He was sitting with his hand tightly gripping his water cup, looking straight at her, his face still as stone but for the slight movement of his jaw.
He came to her rooms as her maid was brushing her hair. Sitting yet, she met his eyes in the mirror, her heart thudding in anticipation. This was a dangerous game she played. She knew it. Knew it but could not help herself playing it anyway. "Leave us, Mylia. The King and I have matters to discuss."
Only when her maid left did she turn to face him. She shifted a little, letting her robe fall open to reveal the sheerness of her nightgown. But, as always, his eyes did not leave her face. Stannis Baratheon was made of sterner stuff than most men.
Her face serene and still, she regarded him, taking in his grim, harsh features. He had shed his fine courtly attire for a long, somewhat threadbare, dull colored robe. Even without his heavy crown upon his head he looked as stiff and uncomfortable as he always did.
She had his attention though, and she took advantage of it. Tilting her head, she pulled her bottom lip into her mouth, suckling and biting it lightly. She almost laughed when he suddenly looked away.
"You will not become my brother's wife," he said, his tone deep and clipped. "You will not become Cersei Lannister. I will not allow it."
She tittered girlishly, knowing full well how that made him cringe. "Will not allow it?" she mocked, smiling. "And what can you do to stop me, my husband? Take my guards away and place Baratheon men at my door? Or perhaps the Kingsguard. I would not mind that too much. Bastard though he is, my ladies will not stop talking about your newest recruit." She looked at him coyly from under her lashes and pouted. "But, my king, would you have your court think you cannot trust your wife? That you cannot satisfy her so she seeks her pleasure elsewhere?"
He clenched his fists, his tall body coiled tight with fury. "You silly girl. You stupid bitch. You continue to... continue to treat this like a laughing matter! Continue to throw yourself at every young fool who forgets his place. You will be sorry to know Damio Bargus is packing his bags for Tyrosh as we speak. He should feel lucky I haven't imprisoned him." He paced the small area between her bed and the door, a caged animal, stopping only to sneer at her. "As should you, my queen. Have you forgotten so soon what happened the last time the queen sought her pleasure elsewhere? The seven kingdoms bled… My brothers died. My wife died."
Margaery knew then a sharp, fleeting remembrance of Renly. Of Loras too, of how he had been then. Of their handsome, smiling faces when Renly still lived. But she tucked those thoughts away for later, led them aside as carefully as a mother does her child from the edge of a cliff. Those were contemplations for a different time, for when the king was not standing there before her.
He was so angry right now. Furious. But at least he was here. It had been too long.
Tossing her hair over her shoulder, she pursed her lips and looked up at him. "Well, your wife's death was not so unfortunate for you, was it? She was old and barren, poor thing. You should have set her aside years ago."
He approached her now, the wrath in his features shifting, becoming sheer disgust. Her heart sank even as, knowing what was to come, she congratulated herself. Soon his hand was in her hair and he pulled her roughly to her feet. She gasped and clung to his shoulders, her neck arched and lips parted.
"I have never raised my hand to a woman," he said, his voice low and rough. "But so help me… You will not speak of Selyse this way. Not again. She died for me. She was nothing but loyal to me."
Margaery drew in a ragged breath, letting her grief wash through her in bright pulses of color. Loyalty. That was all he cared for. Well, that and an heir to his kingdoms, though he seldom sought the act that would lead to a future king. Her eyes roamed his features, searching for what she could not say. Thinking to make herself queen, this was the man she had chosen to marry. She had thought Sansa Stark so foolish, with her head full of songs, even after all she had suffered. But she had been the fool to think herself strong enough to live without love, or at least a modicum of affection.
She dug her small sharp nails into the back of his neck and dragged them, relishing the brief flash of pain on his face. "I will speak of her as I wish, your grace," she said, all the honor and pride of House Martell in her lilting voice. "You have no control over me or my tongue. You forget you hold these kingdoms with the most tenuous of grips, and that without my father to provide food for you and your people through winter, you would be eating cats yet again. Or was it dogs that are your culinary preference?"
His hand tightened in her hair, making her wince. His was a soul covered in still seeping sores, and the siege at Storm's End against her father's armies was yet another wound she had learned to probe. Just eighteen years old he had been, yet how many men had he seen starve to death, how many women, children?
Not handsome to begin with, his face was ugly now, a mask of despair. Pupils were blown wide, making his blue eyes near black in the firelight. When he finally crashed his mouth to hers it hurt. Her lips would be bruised tomorrow. He did not kiss with finesse. It was more a rough mashing of lips and the burn of his stubble against her delicate skin. But when he put his tongue into her mouth she sucked on it, the taste of him making her moan in pleasure.
Lifting her with large hands under her buttocks, he pressed her against the wall. He soothed the hair away from her face, dragging hard, open mouthed kisses down her neck. He grasped her breast and squeezed it, thumb pushing at and rolling her nipple until she cried out his name.
He stopped then, eyes closed, his forehead resting against hers. "They have set you up to this," he said, his voice pained. "You think to make me a slave to you wantonness. I will not have it."
She patted his cheek lightly, condescendingly. "Shut up and fuck me, your grace."
He led her to her bed this time. Many times before it had been against the wall. She remembered that one time on his desk after she had kissed Ser Alyn Estermont (just on the cheek) with mixed feelings. She had come so loudly but the many small things on his desk had left many small bruises on her back.
He did not undress her though she wished it. Though she wondered yet again what all of his skin would feel like against all of hers. All these thoughts were forgotten when he spread her thighs wide and entered her. She was unbearably wet for him and he glided deliciously inside her. His eyes were squeezed shut and she wanted him to look at her. So she kissed his jaw and drew his ear between her teeth, biting it hard. With a hiss he drew back and glared at her with gritted teeth, all the while moving his hips in a deep, steady rhythm. She did not come this time, but she enjoyed watching him as he did. He was always so silent in his release, his eyes briefly full of strange wonder before he locked himself up yet again.
Still holding him close with her legs and her arms, she reached out to touch his brow, thinking to sooth the ever present frown there. But he shrugged away her touch as he always did and slipped out of her. She clenched her thwarted fingers together, hating him at this moment as she knew he hated her, hated himself. Her thighs spread, his seed seeping from her core, she watched him as he tucked himself away and did his laces. He then sat on the edge of the bed and stared into the fire, his look faraway.
She shivered and drew her knees together, pulling her nightgown down and tucking it around her feet. Hate. She was almost grateful for his hatred. It was a feeling, was it not? For when he did not hate her, when he was not angry with her, he did not even see her, she did not even exist.
With Damvo Bongee gone she would have to find someone else to flirt with. The king spoke much about duty, but he seldom gave her opportunity to do her duty to the realm unless she angered him first. (She would not flatter herself into thinking him jealous.) Already they had been married two years and her womb had yet to quicken.
A vision of the Stark bastard, of his soft full lips, dark curling hair, and shy sweet nature came to mind. And Queen Margaery the Kind drifted off to sleep, a mischievous smile upon her lips.