Brandon is pacing furiously in his chamber, he knows that he should calm himself, but can’t. His wedding is in a few days and, so far, Ned has yet to arrive at Riverrun. Which is very, very much unlike Ned.
So that’s what tips Brandon over that something is wrong. Ned would never fail in his duty, he’s the dutiful son and brother, the one you relied on and knew that he would never disappoint. Until today, it seems. For there’s less than a week to go before he is wed, and Ned has not even had the grace to send a messenger from Harrenhal.
Ned had remained behind with Lyanna, promising that they would meet Brandon at Riverrun in time for his wedding, and he knew what Ned had meant: Making sure Lyanna didn’t went somewhere she shouldn’t.
But now? Brandon can’t quite help the worry that he feels, it’s there in the pit of his stomach. His whole being is screaming at him ‘something’s wrong’, but all that he can do is wait. He can’t leave Riverrun or it will be interpreted as running away from his marriage.
Brandon is still pacing when the knock on the door comes, he walks towards the door and opens it. Catelyn. “Yes, Catelyn?”
Catelyn hesitates and Brandon’s worry worsens. “Ah. Forgive me Brandon, but a messenger has come from Harrenhal and the Lady Lyanna has arrived.”
Part of Brandon’s worry lifts. At least his sister is safe, but his instincts are just as sharp as the direwolf of his sigil. “What of Ned, Catelyn?”
Catelyn bites her lips. “The messenger is about Ned, Brandon. You must come, he waits for you at my father’s solar.”
Brandon squares his shoulders and follows Catelyn. Torn between mindless worry and relief, at least now he’ll have an answer. If anything, Lyanna will speak. When they arrive at Lord Tully’s solar, Lyanna is not there and there’s an anxious looking man standing. “My lords,” Brandon says. “Ser. Tell me, what news you bring me? And what of my sister?”
Lord Hoster speaks first, “Your lady sister went to change, she was weary of travel and hungry, Lysa is seeing to her now. Rest easy.”
Brandon nods. “My thanks goodfather.” He turns to the man. “Go on then, whatever it is, it’s better to hear it now.”
The man looks everywhere but him. “Ah. There was an incident in Harrenhal. Shortly before Lord Eddard and Lady Lyanna were meant to come, Lord Eddard went riding with a man of Lord Whent. And… well…”
“Spit it out already!”
“Prince Rhaegar took Lord Eddard with him,” the man rushes. “And by that is, he took him at sword point.”
Brandon’s could swear that his brain has frozen. His eyes were wide, his heart beating so loud. Then, it happened, the absurdity of it all came crashing down and he did the only thing he could. He laughed.
Brandon laughed so hard, there were tears falling down his cheeks. He couldn’t help it, all the anger and worry vanished, replaced by a deep sense of irony and humor. Leave it to Ned to catch the Prince’s eye. Oh this was a true gift from the Gods. This was perfect teasing material.
Elia sighed, she was tired and still sore. Aegon’s birth had worn her down in a way Rhaenys’ birth had not. And she knew that this would be her last child, the maester had spoken to her and Rhaegar after Aegon’s birth, one more child and she risk dying in the birthing bed and taking the child with her. Rhaegar had accepted calmly, he’d even soothed her and promising that Rhaenys and Aegon were enough. She wished she could believe him, and a part of her felt like a failure.
But her children were precious. Elia knew that Aegon already favored his father in looks – at least no one would speak against him, like Aerys had done with Rhaenys – and was a healthy child. Little Rhaenys was a playful and happy girl, she knew that it was enough for her.
But now Rhaegar was gone. Elia frowned, she had no idea where the man was, he’d said nothing save going to somewhere in the Riverlands. He was not a bad husband, she supposed, he treated her kindly and with respect, he didn’t have paramours (though that could change at any moment), he loved Rhaenys and didn’t complain of her being a girl. But he was always distant.
Truth be told, there was a part of Rhaegar that she couldn’t reach. Elia knew that Rhaegar was nearly impossible to know, there was a deep sense of grief and doom that he didn’t share with her. Whatever thoughts or emotions that he might have, he didn’t spoke with her about them. But she knew that none save Arthur truly knew Rhaegar. It was a strange comfort.
Elia was drawn from her thoughts by a knock on her door, “Come,” she called. Ashara walked in, a nervous look to her face, putting Elia immediately on edge. “Has something happened?”
Ashara walked towards the bed, sat gently on one side and took Elia’s hand in hers. “Yes. But, it’s both slightly worrisome and not.”
Elia tilted her head, trying to guess what could have prompted such words. “Tell me.” Whatever it was, it was best to face it head on.
Ashara took a deep breath. “Rhaegar has taken someone for a lover.”
Elia froze. All those worries about being replaced bubbled up, her eyes widened in fear (not for her, but her children), her hands began to shake and her stomach clenched. “Who?” Her voice sounded shaky even to her ears.
Ashara sighed and shrugged her shoulders. “Apparently, that husband of yours went and kidnapped Lord Eddard Stark from Harrenhal, there was a witness.”
Bad as this was, Elia couldn’t help but to feel a wave of relief wash over her. A man. That she could deal with, had it been another woman, that would have been dangerous waters, for that woman could give Rhaegar children. But an ambitious man could also have her replaced with kin, but Oberyn had spoken well enough of Lord Eddard when they had met at Harrenhal. “What happened?”
“Apparently, Lord Stark was riding around Harrenhal when Rhaegar, Arthur and Oswell came upon him, and he was asked at sword point to come with them. The poor squire that accompanied Lord Stark relied the news to Lord Whent, who sent the news.”
Elia took a deep breath, released the air and then took another. Trying to calm the emotions she felt. A strange mix of relief, anger and amusement. In the end, she bowed her head, placed her face between her hands and groaned. “Rhaegar, you bloody idiot.”
Jon Connington loves Prince Rhaegar.
He doesn’t know when it happened, only that it did. Jon knows that it should be better if he were to forget the Prince, but a selfish and hopeful side of him clings to the desperate hope that one day, Prince Rhaegar would love him. The Prince was the finest man in the realm, a man that was easy to love.
Jon knows, however, that he can’t speak his love openly. Not unless the Prince does first, how could he? Prince Rhaegar is wed (to a woman who doesn’t deserve him) and a father besides. A man who is devoted to his marriage and thus far, no other woman (much less a man) has turned his head and make him stray from his vows. Ever the dutiful man.
Jon has spent many times in company of the Prince, he’s one of the lucky few who have. But he still feels like an outsider, like he’s looking at some far away object he can’t quite reach.
Jon, in one of his more romantic musings, has called the Prince his moon. Bright and beautiful and impossible to touch. So, he consoles himself with time spent in Prince Rhaegar’s company. Jealous of the closeness between Ser Arthur Dayne and the Prince. He wants that. It’s greedy and almost childish, but he doesn’t care, he wants and craves with an almost desperate need.
But he knows that it won’t be. At least not yet. So, Jon loves and longs for in silence. Ever hopeful.
It’s one month after the birth of Prince Aegon, that Jon decides to go to King’s Landing. He knows that Prince Rhaegar and Princess Elia must present the boy to the King, so he makes his way to court in the hope of seeing his silver prince.
And finds the whole court in a tizzy. Why? Because apparently, Prince Rhaegar has taken a paramour. And not just anyone, but none other than Lord Eddard Stark. According to the witness, the Prince and Sers Dayne and Whent kidnapped Lord Stark at sword point and now, have been missing for two weeks.
Jon wants to laugh, to laugh until he can’t laugh any more and deny this. This is absolute nonsense, the Prince would never. And there is his heart, that’s also breaking. The Prince, it seems, has chosen and it wasn’t him.
It’s only in the privacy of his chamber that Jon screams his rage. That destroys the small table and chair, that tosses a pitcher of wine against the wall and watches as it shatters into tiny pieces. His anger is bubbling, hot and demands satisfaction. So he makes his way to the training yard, beats others with a ruthlessness that surprises even him.
Jon can taste the vile in his mouth, the anger, no, the rage. He wants to cut Eddard Stark open, to make him pay, to make him suffer the same way he’s suffering now. To hurt him, for daring to touch his silver prince.
But there is nothing he can do. And Eddard Stark is untouchable for him, his friendship with Robert Baratheon would spell disaster for him, he’s a paramount’s son and foster and well loved to another. And now, the lover of Prince Rhaegar. And there’s nothing he can do.
Brandon smirks when he spots the bruise, “Nice bruise you have there, little brother.” His voice is full of laughter, how can he not? This is all terribly amusing. Ned and Prince Rhaegar were missing for two moon turns and now, they have decided to reappear.
“Not a bruise, a mosquito bite.” Ned says tersely.
“Is that how we’re calling Rhaegar now?”
The scowl that Ned gives is a memorable one, but he doesn’t say anything. So, throwing caution to the wind, Brandon sing songs, “Ned and Rhaegar, sitting on a tree…”
“If you finish that rhyme, you’ll explain to Lady Catelyn why you’re an eunuch.”
“Say brother mine, are you getting a title out of this? Or at least a position in court? Will you be a companion to Princess Elia?”
“Yes, brother mine?”
Brandon’s laughter echoes in the room.