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Fandom Unbowed [Closed]



Laudandum puellam, ornandum, tollendum.
The sky was clear in King’s Landing, the atmosphere light, as the Crown Prince strode out of the Red Keep. His indigo eyes were fixed upon the ever-milling crowd outside, curious at the activity and fuss that seemed to be taking place. It was to be an exciting day, as he was to meet Lady Elia Martell, his bride-to-be. He had no say in it, and lived off rumors of her, her brother, and the Martell family.

Exotic, unlike the rest of Westeros, or so he was told. At least not half as likely to stab him in the back as those of the West, nor as boring as those of the North, but still, he held concerns over this, and they escaped him in a sigh as he finally came to a rest outside of the Red Keep, besides a statue of a dragon, one of three that graced the stairs up to the Red Keep. He stood at the central one that graced the two sets of stairs. The other dragons flanked it. “What is it?” A blue-eyed knight asked the prince.

He did not answer immediately, but set his lyre down and pulled himself up onto the pedestal where the dragon rested, sharing the space besides its raised, clawed hand. He reached his hand down, and the silvery lyre was handed up to him, “I am merely concerned of this arrangement, Ser Selmy,” he answered, as he settled the lyre on his lap and then started to pull the long strands of silver hair back. “I know that we are distantly related and that is why my father has arranged this,” after all, the Martells married into the Targaryens ages and ages ago, “yet I am not certain it is a good match.”

“You haven’t even met her!” The Kingsguard said, “You must give her a chance, your grace.”

“I will,” he promised, hair finally tied back with a black string so it wouldn’t get in the way of his playing. The sky may be clear, but the breeze was still a nuisance. “Is it true, though? Is she fragile?” What he heard of the Martells usually suggested anything but fragility. He heard of the great strength and cunning of her brother, Oberyn. He heard of Doran and how the man was well-traveled, and married a woman of Essos. All that he heard of Dornish women, too, seemed to tell him that this one should be spirited and free-willed, and yet every rumor suggested she’d be as willful as a Frey.

He did not want a servant. He did not want someone as his own mother, Rhaella, weak-willed and defeated. As much as he loved his mother, it was hard to look upon her most days. “I do not know, your grace,” Selmy answered him honestly, “I have not met her myself, but Lord Steffon Baratheon searched high and low for a suitable bride for you.” As he saw the melancholy look enter the prince’s eyes, he suggested, “Don’t you know the song of the Dornishman’s Wife, though?”

A smile teased on his lips at that, “Mm, I may know that one,” he said, and his fingers strummed over his lyre, the strings, before they found the ones he wanted and they started to strum the familiar melody, improving his mood a bit as the wind continued to blow.

He was grateful he hadn’t worn his black armor, though the black tunic was doing him no favors that day, but at least his slacks didn’t match – red instead. It may have been winter, but it was still too warm in King’s Landing. Of course, the white ravens had only recently flown to announce the change of the seasons. It was not thought to be a long one, at least. It would be a mild winter if the Gods were good, which they had been of late. The winters had been short, though many, the seasons shifting quickly, but it gave them plenty of time to prepare the harvests.

Before he could part his lips to sing, though, a feminine voice did.

“The Dornishman’s Wife was as fair as the sun
And her kisses were warmer than Spring
But the Dornishman’s blade was made of black steel
And it’s kiss was a terrible thing.”

Rhaegar did not cease vibrating the strings, but his eyes sought the unannounced companion, and they fell upon a woman with long, auburn hair, and wildfire eyes, and a similar color scheme to his own in her dress. The guards near her wore the colors of House Hetherspoon – if the spoon on some of their armor didn’t give it away. They were expected. His mother, Rhaella, had met the Hetherspoon woman while the Tourney for Viserys three years ago went on in Lannisport, though he did not recall her.

His lips quirked upwards more as she sang along, before he stilled the strings with his hands, and shifted down from his pedestal. “Lady Aemilia Hetherspoon, I presume?”

Lady Aemilia Reyne smiled at the Prince’s greeting, and bowed her head, but not her form, before him, “You presume correctly, Your Highness,” she greeted, before she lifted her eyes back up to his indigo orbs – the purple of his home. Traits always carried, like the green eyes of the Western lions, or manes of red. “I apologize for disrupting you, we only just arrived.”

“Nonsense, it is good to know my mother has found a woman who actually has talent for song, and not just someone trained in it.” There was a difference to Rhaegar, and the woman nodded her agreement.

“Too many highborn women sit at their harps and sing when they shouldn’t, ever, but I digress.” She was not there to see him, nor did she desire to linger. The road had been long, and she knew the guards that had accompanied her were looking forward to leaving her side just as well, to enjoy the brothels and bars of King’s Landing, before they would return to Hetherspoon lands. “I should not keep your mother waiting.”

“Ah, no,” he glanced then to Barristan, “I should await my betrothed, do you mind showing her the way from here?”

“Princess Elia Martell is arriving today?” She already knew who the betrothed was to be. The woman made it a point to stay informed. Yet, she had not known she would arrive that same day. “Is Prince Oberyn to be with her?” There was an undeniable excitement in her voice at the question, and one of the guards wearing the spoon let out a groan at the question.

A muttered, “Please, no.”

His wish would be denied. “Spoon!”

The Red Viper had rushed ahead of his own entourage, separating from his sisters when he saw the familiar Sigil of House Hetherspoon. “Viper,” her grin could have almost been called poisonous as she turned fully to face him.

“What are you doing here?” He asked, “Do not tell me you are here to court the prince as well?” He jested, though his eyes roved over the prince then, “Not that I would blame you at all….” Ever the bold one, even when it was unappreciated. Or perhaps, especially when it was unappreciated.

Rhaegar fluttered his lashes, uncertain how to react or how these people tied together, while Barristan Selmy seemed equally confused.

“No, I am entering into Queen Rhaella’s services,” she answered the man. Both of his dark brows rose, and a smile touched his lips, but he didn’t speak the mischief in his gaze.

Highly inappropriate to speak of their shared interest in poisons when it came to her service to Rhaella, right in front of the prince, but the man would not deny his curiosity. He did snap out of it when he heard Barristan clear his throat. “Prince Martell….” Barristan addressed, “You are familiar with Lady Hetherspoon?”

“We have some common interests in exotic foods and pretty men,” Oberyn answered cheekily, before he stepped back and then, more properly, bowed before the prince, “I do apologize, I got caught up in seeing an old friend,” he said, “Your Grace, please forgive my insubordinance, and allow me to introduce my sisters,” for even the bastard was a sister to him. It meant nothing to him that she was not trueborn, she was his blood, and deserved that same respect.
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nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
King’s Landing was hot. Not nearly as hot as Dorne, no, but still warm. Sweat still beaded on the tan skin of the Dornish sisters as they walked their way to catch up with their brother, who had suddenly abandon them, reasons unknown until they caught a glimpse of red hair, the spoons on a flag. His Hetherspoon friend.

And then a glimpse of silver and Elia Martell froze, causing her bastard sister to stop as well.

“What is it?” The woman’s dark brows furrowed, seeing the anxiety written on Elia’s face. She followed Elia’s gaze, for her own dark eyes to land on the Silver Prince.

Elia had been incredibly anxious the entire journey leading up to this moment. Asking questions such as ‘will he like me?’ or ‘what if he thinks I’m ugly?’ And then the worst of all ‘what if he’s like his father?’

“Saige, I don’t know about this.” That much was evident in the older sister’s voice.

Saige had spent the trip comforting her sister, as that was her real purpose. She was to bring comfort to Elia in this strange place, with these strange people for as long as the Princess-to-be needed. Elia had begged her mother to allow Saige to join her and her brother. She needed another woman. She needed not her brother, but her sister. The current Princess of Dorne, Elia and Oberyn’s mother, had at first denied the request. She’d worked so hard to arrange this marriage, she didn’t want the slightest thing as the royal family being offended by the bastard girl to ruin it all.

But Elia had persisted and so she won.

And Saige had brought much comfort to Elia already, more than Oberyn alone could have done.

“Elia, you have to give him a chance.” Saige insisted as they stopped, twirling the ends of her sister’s braid in her fingers. Saige had braided it herself, weaving white flowers into it along the way. They were fake, of course. Made from fabrics, painted white. But they were pretty in her hair. And in return, Elia had braided back the front of Saige’s hair, weaving multiple small braids and flowers into the long, dark locks. “You know nothing of him except rumors.”

“That’s not what I’m worried about. I want him to like me, sister, as well as I want to like him. He’s to be my husband. I’m supposed to bear him children,” Saige frowned at that. Neither she nor Oberyn like the idea. They saw it unsafe. It was terrifying when their sister sneezed, she couldn’t imagine the frail woman birthing any children.

“And he will like you, Elia. You’re beautiful,” though some in Dorne would say otherwise. Never to Elia or her siblings. Oberyn and Saige had spoken about happily slitting anyone’s throat who spoke bad of their sister. “And kind,” which worried Saige greatly. Elia was very kind, she believed she was much too kind for King’s Landing. For the Targaryens. “What’s there not to like? Or even love?”

Elia opened her mouth to speak more, but Oberyn then spoke of introducing his sisters. “Go on, Elia. Meet your husband.” Saige tried to push Elia ahead, but she stood firm.

“Oberyn said sisters. You’re coming too.”

“Elia, things are different here than in Dorne, I—“

“Come.” Elia gripped her sister’s arm with her skinny fingers and urged her to walk with her.

Oberyn gestured his arm out, presenting the two women. “My sisters, Saige—“

Saige forced her head to bow, “Your Grace.” She spoke quietly, not wanting to be introduced in the first place. Her siblings didn’t quite understand the difficulties of being a bastard.

“—And your betrothed, Princess Elia Martell.” Oberyn played up his sister when introducing Rhaegar to his future wife.

Elia didn’t have to force her smile, curtsying before the Dragon Prince. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Your Grace. Rumors of you do you no justice.”

Saige cocked an eyebrow as she silently agreed to that. Stories, paintings. They portrayed that he was pretty, but Gods was he pretty. Unnaturally so.

“Lady Aemilia,” Ser Barristan spoke as to not interrupt Rhaegar meeting his bride, “If you don’t want to mingle any farther, I can take you to Queen Rhaella. I’m sure she’s anxiously awaiting your arrival.” Anxiously awaiting an excuse to be swept away. Anxiously awaiting someone to distract her from her husband, the Mad King. “I imagine your first task will be to help her prepare for the feast tonight.”

The feast. Held in honor of Elia’s arrival. Rhaella thought it would be an efficient way for Rhaegar and Elia to become accustomed to each other, as well as a way to meet her son’s bride. Rhaella did hope her son would like his betrothed. She wanted him to have some happiness.

See Barristan gestured Lady Reyne, known to him as Hetherspoon, and her party to follow him as Elia spoke once again. The woman, certainly exotic looking compared to those in the rest of Westeros, gestured behind her to the small party of guards and servants. “We brought gifts.” Yes, Elia’s mother had insisted upon the offerings. She truly wanted the arrangement to work. She’d sent an assortment of spices and wines, fruits and silks. Things native to Dorne, expensive otherwise.


Laudandum puellam, ornandum, tollendum.
Rhaegar and Aemilia both watched the presentation of the woman. Aemilia was already slightly familiar with both, though not much. Oberyn Martell was the only one of that family she knew, due to a chance meeting in the market and what she happened to be buying. Needless to say, the friendship blossomed easily once it began with taboo. Elia and Saige were not so well known to her, and if either were versed in the arts of poison, she did not know of it. Their white flowers were a nice addition, contrasting beautifully with their hair.

Rhaegar set his harp aside completely then, taking them both in. They were pretty, and he expected nothing less, but he had not anticipated the bastard sister to appear more radiant than her sister. The health of her seemed to glow upon her skin, while Elia seemed too frail, skinny, like a doll one should be careful with. No doubt, many men would have been drawn to that, their need to protect and to feel strong brought out in full force around such a fragile thing, but he saw enough of that in his life already in Rhaella.

Yet, he knew he should not think that. He should give this Elia a chance, perhaps her mind was beautiful enough to compensate for the looks. So, it was her that he approached, and her that he offered his hands to, “You may rise, Princess Elia,” he said as she spoke of gifts. She did rise, and her small hands fell into his. Her anxiety could be felt, and he wondered if it was the heat or the nerves that caused her hands to feel so clammy and cold upon his own warm ones.

“And I will thank you and your mother on behalf of my father, for all of these gifts,” he looked over them without seeing what they truly were, protected by their boxes, “We should present them properly,” in the throne room. His father would want to see them displayed, and hopefully he would be in one of his good moods. “You may also rise, ah…Lady Saige,” he knew not how to address her. She wasn’t a lady, but she wasn’t a princess either. He used lady as a term of courtesy. “It is a pleasure to meet you, as well, and you, Prince Oberyn,” despite the odd way it had occurred with Lady Hetherspoon.

When he glanced back, she was already moving with Barristan Selmy, and a couple of her guards following behind, luggage in hands. The others were moving off with the horses, apparently not intending to stay in the Red Keep, as they did not seek a place to stable their horses there, but moved on towards the town itself.

“Allow me to escort you to where you will be staying,” the offer extended to all, and his eyes moved again to Saige, “Your room will be near your sister’s, of course,” he noted, and his eyes did not wish to leave her, but they did, as his hands let go of Elia to politely offer his arm to her instead, so he could lead her in. Saige’s room was to be permanent, or at least, more permanent than Oberyn’s, who was expected to return to Dorne after a few days. Saige was though to remain on with her sister for a while longer, perhaps forever. It was a good station for a bastard, after all.

Elia did take his arm, her face turning florid, even though the skin was much darker than his. The contrast was almost pretty as she looked at her arm with his, though much of his was covered in clothe.

Was she underdressed? She had always heard those further North were more modest. Did she offend? The worried thoughts continued again as she was led alongside him, and her head bowed with them.

Rhaegar would lead them on through the gates, speaking to some of his guards to see that their horses were taken, and any of the men seen to rooms, who would not be presenting gifts. Oberyn was looking around, intrigued by all of it. The architecture was quite different than that of Dorne. “Where will we be staying?”

“Lady Saige and Princess Elia shall be residing in Maegor’s Holdfast,” he answered Oberyn, “You will be staying in the Maidenvault,” it was customarily where guests were allowed to stay, though from the look on Oberyn’s face, he wasn’t sure if that was offensive or not to the Dornish prince. He felt the need to clarify, “The rooms of the ladies are in the Holdfast as they are considered permanent, that is all.”

“My brother is not thinking of that,” Elia said, a small smile on her lips as she recognized the look on Oberyn’s face. “He is wondering how many maidens may be there. That is not why it is named so, Oberyn.”


Aemilia had turned to Barristan when Rhaegar moved to meet his future queen, and gave a nod. Pride and glee burned in her both when he mentioned the kitchens. A part of her wanted to shout she wasn’t a scullery maid to be sent to the kitchens, though it was likely just to be in an overseeing position. Yet another part of her was…delighted. If she was near the food, finding a way to poison the Hand of the King wouldn’t be so hard. She hadn’t wasted her time learning about poison to not use it, after all.

She held one finger up to him, begging a moment with the gesture, before she turned back to her own entourage, “Ser Pyke, Ser Erik,” her favorite knights, an Iron bastard and one of her household knights who had ended up good friends with Tybolt Hetherspoon’s nephew and heir to the Fern Valley. After all, Gods forbid a woman inherit, “Come with me. The rest of you are dismissed,” Page and Eric would help with the luggage, which wasn’t much. She never kept much any longer, her days of luxury long lost. She may still seem noble, but not half as noble as she once was.

The tanned Pyke was quick to grab the box of what most would assume to be cosmetics and hand it over to her, “Here you are, that should be light enough for you,” he teased, before he would start to take luggage for himself, the other light ones, leaving Erik to grunt as he grasped the one that had her tomes of books. Poisons and medicines. History. She would have been a maester if allowed. “Why?”

“You’re stronger,” Pyke answered, and it was accurate. Still, Erik didn’t seem to approve, but he trudged on once they had all their things, and the horses were handed over to the remaining guards to go into town.

“There are rooms for your men to stay here in the Maidenvault,” Barristan noted once they started walking.

“No thanks,” Pyke answered, “We need to return home soon.” Well, they did. Pyke was staying. Not here, but around. He was the only one aware of Lady Hetherspoon’s mad plot. He liked to assume it was because they were both bastards that she told him, even if she was legitimized after Melara was drowned. Of course, that’s also why he assumed that Lady Hetherspoon was going to try and poison the Hand – she blamed Tywin for Melara drowning, when Melara was in the care of the Lannisters.

So he was sticking around to make sure if she got caught or got into any trouble, she disappeared. The woman might be good at poisons and quick with her words, but she was rubbish with weapons and lock-picking.

They came to the Holdfast, and a gesture from Barristan lowered the drawbridge so they could go across the moat of spikes. He had introduced many of the buildings they came across, such as the Sept of Baelor, and the Tower of the Hand. That was where Aemilia’s eyes had lingered, wondering how difficult it might be to get in unnoticed, wondering how Tywin’s schedule was, and how difficult it was going to be to find decent servants not already on Tywin’s payroll to start acquiring information from.

As they entered into the holdfast and began to climb up the stairs to reach the royal apartment of the queen, they could hear the murmur of voices, the angry tone apparent. On the floor, the voice was head more clearly, with light whimpers.

“…ask you one more time. Where. Is. VISERYS?”

Barristan froze. He seemed clearly at a loss as to what to do in that situation, realizing then the whimpers were coming from the Queen, and the voice was Aerys. Rhaella always tried to protect Viserys from the worst of Aerys, and that must be the case then. ‘What did you do, Viserys?’ Likely just something childish. Likely nothing. And what was he supposed to do with Lady Aemilia? They couldn’t enter that hall—wait, what was she doing?

There was a clatter. Aemilia had heard, as well, and tapped Pyke. They traded luggage, her taking clothes, and she unceremoniously threw it on the ground in front of them, breaking into the hall that Barristan didn’t dare to step into, and she did her best impression of faltering over her own steps to land on the ground as well, hands catching her on the rock floor.

The scene of Aerys and Rhaella was immediately disrupted as Aemilia pulled the luggage to herself that had spilled open, and tried to quickly gather her things together without looking at the two of them.

At least that tension broke.

Aerys let go of his sister’s silver hair and turned to the new disturbance, of the fiery-haired one, and Barristan, who stepped almost sheepishly into the hall with two other unknown faces. “What is this?” He directed the question at Barristan. He didn’t like surprises, at all.
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nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
Saige was pleasantly surprised when she was called ‘Lady’. Should the time arise, she’d tell him that just Saige was fine. Lady was probably the nicest thing anyone’s ever called her. Usually, when people were being polite they’d call her by her name or Sand. Except for her siblings who would sometimes call her ‘Princess’ around their home. But she was neither a lady or a princess, and she’d accepted that she’d never be either long ago.

She watched as her older sister turned red when she took her soon-to-be husband’s arm. Saige could practically see the doubts and worries began to flood Elia’s mind once again. But at this point, Saige could do little to comfort her. When they were alone she’d reassure her. And she hoped soon she wouldn’t have to reassure the woman.

Saige, too, admired the architecture of the Red Keep. Yes, it was much different than in Dorne. But the woman was more impressed by the statues of dragons leading up the Red Keep.

And then they were in the castle, being led to their rooms. Hers was close to Elia’s, which she was grateful for, and it was to be more permanent than Oberyn’s. She knew that their goodbyes would be difficult for all three of them.

Oberyn sighed then due to the lack of maidens in the Maidenvault, “Unfortunate. I was hoping not to venture far."

“I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding someone to bed you, Oberyn.” Saige commented. Man or woman, many seemed more than willing to fling themselves at her brother.

“Yes, but maidens are a breed of their own,” Oberyn said as he offered his arm to his dear sister, which she took. Virgins, no matter their gender, were something else. For details he would not speak of to his little sister.

He was older, but only by a few months. Their father had sailed off to Lys months before Oberyn was born, returned for the birth of his second son, and left for Lys again. When he came back a second time, he had a fresh babe with him, already named Saige.

“Oberyn!” Elia gently scolded, not wanting her brother to embarrass her in front of Rhaegar.

It seemed as though they were venturing to Oberyn’s maidenliness Maidenvault first, as Saige noted they hadn’t crossed over the river of spikes she’d heard so much about. Again, Saige had thoughts of worry for Elia being in such a place. Her heart was too gentle. She could only hope Rhaegar would treat her well. Saige really didn’t want to have to kill the Silver Prince, but she would if Elia needed her to.


“Er, forgive us, my King.” Barristan spoke, silently cursing Lady Aemilia. What was she thinking? “This is Lady Aemilia Hetherspoon, Queen Rhaella’s new handmaiden. These are her Knights, Ser Pyke and Ser Erik” Selmy introduced, looking down on the woman as she gathered the clothes she purposefully dropped. “I apologize for the intrusion, I believed her arrival had been anticipated.” Even if it was, whatever Viserys had done overshadowed it.

Or whatever Aerys thought Viserys did.

Barristan always was careful in the way he worded things in front of the king. Sometimes Aerys was more lenient, some days he was not. And no one could ever tell which it was. Not to mention it could change without notice. Aerys seemed to grow more and more unpredictable each passing day.

Selmy dismissed those thoughts as Aerys looked over the fire-haired woman. Rhaella watched her brother-husband through her silver lashes, silently hoping that he would take no interest in the poor woman. He’d harassed enough of her handmaidens. Rhaella thought briefly to the last handmaiden she had to send back to her home. Even if Aerys had claimed he’d take no more mistresses, he’d said nothing of harassing them.

It wasn’t just sexually, either. Rhaella worried her brother’s paranoia would fuel some form of torture. As his paranoia had fueled his cruelty towards former handmaidens, wet-nurses. Rhaella still felt guilt for those who died due to her seeming inability to carry out her children. Rhaella was always said to be mindful of her queenly duties, but she couldn’t help but feel like she’d failed every one of them.

It was quiet for a moment as the Mad King took the new woman in. “What good is a clumsy handmaiden?” The man grumbled.

Rhaella spared one more glance at her brother before she tentatively walked to assist her handmaiden. She knew that the purpose of a handmaiden was to do things for her, but Rhaella mostly did so as an excuse to put distance between her and her abuser.

She kneeled across from the woman, picking up what little clothes lay and the ground, folding them, but not going out of her way to do so. It was simple folds. She stood and held them out for their owner, questioning as she did so. “Are you alright?” She spoke softly, near a whisper. Her throat had been used to uttering soft, meek noises. Barristan pitied the Queen. She did not deserve the abuse she had to endure. Yet, he would never utter his pity aloud.

“If I may, I’d like to introduce Lady Aemilia to her duties.” The Queen spoke louder, then, for the unkempt King to hear, as if asking for permission. She hoped that Viserys was forgotten, or at the very least would be postponed for later that night.


Laudandum puellam, ornandum, tollendum.
The Maidenvault was not far from Maegor’s Holdfast. In spite of how Baelor did not want to be tempted, he wanted the women under close watch. Rhaegar still could not help but give Oberyn a judgmental look for his words of wanting maidens, and Elia seemed to cry out at it as well, “There are plenty of brothels here if you need to wet your appetite. I understand things are different in Dorne,” unfortunately, “but in the rest of Westeros, most do not appreciate being dishonored.”

That was how it was considered her, after all, and though Rhaegar could not call himself a virgin, he had not dabbled with highborn maidens, lest he bring serious offense and more trouble than they needed. His activities had also been kept quite private, and they were not often.

“Yes, I know,” Oberyn gave an exaggerated sigh, “You all wish to deny your passions and shame those who enjoy them,” he noted, and then slyly added, “I hope my sister will teach you that such passions should be…fully enjoyed.” And he watched as Elia turned a deep scarlet, to his delight, “She is pristine, but she has Dornish blood in her still,” Oberyn said, to ease the prince’s mind of her chastity before he asked anything. “Our mother always liked these ways.”

For some reason or another.

They came into the Maidenvault, just as he caught sight of his father leaving the Holdfast. He did not dare to call out to him, but let a guard open the door to the Maidenvault to let them all step in, and Rhaegar followed last, though took the lead once more as Oberyn looked over the environment. It was well decorated, but not many windows. Just torches. When he was led to his room and the door opened, he sighed, “No windows?”

“No…,” Rhaegar gave him an apologetic smile, “Baelor who built it did not want windows, lest the beauty of the women tempt him to sin.”

Oberyn let out a groan of suffering, before he had his own luggage tossed on the bed he would occupy, and Rhaegar then motioned to the rooms around him, for their guards, “You may leave your personal belongings in the rooms on this floor, all have been cleared and cleaned for your visit, so your guards may stay here as well,” and doors were immediately opened to let the guards start to set aside their personal effects.

“I trust Maegor’s Holdfast will be better, yes? My sisters should have light.”

“I promise you, Prince Oberyn, there will be windows in Maegor’s Holdfast for Princess Elia and Lady Saige,” he answered him, “You will see,” once his guards had settled in and they could continue on. And fortunately, it seemed Aerys would not be there any longer.

“Ah!” Someone shouted out, and Rhaegar let go of Elia, marching towards the room, to find that his brother was coming out from under a bed, dusting himself off and looking agitated, for a three year old.

“Viserys,” he spoke in a chastising tone, “What are you doing here?”

Those purple orbs looked up at him, and Viserys answered simply, “Hide and seek,” with his mother. Though she didn’t come. She never seemed to come. It was as if she just wanted to get rid of him.

“You shouldn’t be here,” Rhaegar sighed, and knelt, letting Viserys walk to him. He lifted his brother up in his arms, offering an apologetic look to the Dornish, “Viserys, these are Prince Oberyn and Lady Saige,” he introduced them first, before, “And she is to be your sister,” in a way, “Princess Elia.”

Viserys looked over them, a criticizing eye for a three-year-old. “They smell like horse.” He stated bluntly. “I don’t like them.”


Aemilia made sure not to lift her eyes from the clothes, purposefully slow, purposefully appearing scattered. A life lived as a lie made another only too easy. Sure, she could have ignored the suffering of Rhaella, but she wouldn’t. ‘You are only here for Tywin.’ Yes. And yet, that did not mean it would be all she did here. Roger Reyne wanted her to be so much more in this life, and when Tywin was out of the picture, she could find a way to rise.

Ties to royalty would aid her, even if it was only Rhaella.

When Aerys spoke, his tone was dismissive, and Rhaella moved then to assist her with the clothes. Aemilia glanced up, briefly, caught her eye, but didn’t visibly smile then. She heard the question, but didn’t answer it with words. She closed her hands over Rhaella’s, gentle, affirming, and then let them slide with the clothes to put them into her luggage once more.

Again, she let Rhaella handle words. Aerys grunted, “Fine. Teach her some grace,” and he stepped without care, or perhaps, with purpose. He crushed the luggage under his boot as he stepped between her and Rhaella, and then, away. Aemilia lifted her head enough for her eyes to follow the trail of his boots, his shadow, never lifting higher. Never daring to show the malice. She grasped her luggage as if nothing had happened, though, and rose with the Queen.

“Lady Hetherspoon,” Rhaella greeted then, “Ser Pyke, Ser Erik, Ser Barristan,” all, greeted, with that soft voice and gentle smile, “Please, come this way,” the room for the handmaiden was always the same, besides her own, and she took them to it, let the luggage be set down, let Pyke and Erik enter, “Thank you for bringing her, Ser Barristan. You may attend to your other duties now,” she did not know what he had to do, but assumed bringing a woman to her wasn’t meant to occupy his entire day.

Barristan left, and she turned back to the room as the Lady Hetherspoon seemed to be doing the same with her men, “Thank you, you can both go enjoy yourselves now,” her items were set.

“Thank you,” Pyke said, relieved.

“Please take care of yourself, my lady,” Erik spoke lower, concern lacing his tone. He had worried he might have to draw steel on the king then and there.

“I will be,” she told them, and it was Pyke that stepped forward to embrace her, before the two men headed out, leaving her alone with Rhaella.

A beat of silence, except for retreating boots, and Aemilia turned her gaze to Rhaella, the soft smile turning coy, mischievous, even, “I told you, I would try to protect you, my queen.” To let her know that accident had been no accident, in case it wasn’t clear to her eyes. Three years ago, they met by chance in King’s Landing, when she was ‘Aemilia Hill’, blissfully unaware that Melara was choking on water in a well in Lannisport, and how that would change so much for her.

If only she had been there herself…but Tybolt tried to keep her far from Tywin then. The death of Melara changed that, embittering the old Spoon. “Did he hurt you much? I may be able to treat it…” She had salves, and some medicine for pain. It wasn’t only poisons she carried. She’d get in trouble if it were so. That was far too suspicious. She brought poisons with the lie that she used them to make antidotes, and had antidotes to show for it.

She was not going to be afraid of Aerys Targaryen. After all, she was a woman of the West. She lived under the genocidal maniac, Tywin Lannister. Nothing was going to scare her, when the only thing she had to lose was a chance at revenge…and she was too close now to let Aerys stand in her way.


nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
Even though Saige knew very well that marriage entailed sex and the like, being Dornish—very passionate people, so to speak—she knew very well the details of it. But the idea of Elia sleeping with anyone was a strange thought. She was sweet, naive. And above all, fragile. Saige especially despised thinking about her sister and the whole bedding ritual.

But that wasn’t until Elia’s wedding night. So, Saige shook that thought from her head. For the moment.

The Maidenvault was dim and lit only by torches, Rhaegar explaining why. Saige couldn’t help but find the situation amusing. It was the exact opposite of what Oberyn would ever want. Fortunately for him, he was only staying a few days.

Then there was commotion and Rhaegar wandered off, returning with a mini version of himself. ‘Not quite him.’ Saige pointed out. Different eyes, yet still shades of purple, somehow.

Little Viserys declared that the three of them smelled like horse, and for that reason he didn’t like them. Saige had to laugh. She wasn’t offended by what the child said, nor was Oberyn. Because Viserys was just that, a child. Elia took no offense to the words, either. But she worried that what Viserys said, a three year old’s words, would somehow affect what others thought of her.

Saige could see it. She withheld a sigh. ‘She’ll calm down, she just needs to get used to the Targaryens and this place.’ Saige told herself. Elia was marrying into a family she’d never met before. Heard a lot about, not all good things. Marrying a man she didn’t know, who she still somehow hoped to love one day.

Saige made an act of leaning over and sniffing her brother. “That’s just Oberyn you’re smelling, little prince.” If only because Saige had worked hard to mask the smell of their journey, practically dousing Elia in citrus scented oils. She’d got some on herself in the process as well.

It served to relax Elia, as the older woman chuckled at the gesture.

“I take it you don’t like horses then, Your Grace?” Saige called little Viserys ‘You Grace’, even if the child had yet to understand what that meant. But at the same time, the little brat seemed terribly intelligent for a three year old. “If smelling like one is grounds enough to dislike someone, I can’t imagine how you feel about actual horses."

She didn't know how much the boy could comprehend what she was saying. He seemed rather...mature. She was kind of hoping he'd show a lack of interest in her and the rest of them, to ease the stress off her sister. 'I need to put Elia to bed.' She joked with herself.


Rhaella’s lips pulled ever so slightly into a smile at Aemilia’s words. Rhaella felt warm, for once. “Your efforts are greatly appreciated, Lady Aemilia.” She was being honest in that. “But please, don’t try to protect me at your own expense. Your…entrance, it could have gone much differently.” If Aerys had been in a worse mood than he was when she’d came in, things could have had a much worse outcome. More than crushed luggage.

And Rhaella would feel nothing but guilt if something happened to Aemilia because she was trying to save the Queen from the ill treatment. “It’s your first official instruction as my new handmaiden.” She attempted to bring light into the situation.

But then she hadn’t answered Aemilia’s question. “I’m fine. Nothing more than an aching head and a bruise or two.” Her smile was kind, grateful. She was used to such things by now, though. The headache would go away in an hour, less if she was lucky. The bruises were small and would heal in a few days. All of it worth it, as long as her little Viserys was left alone.

But she would keep in mind Aemilia’s offer of treatment. There were times when the abuse, her injuries were much much worse. And it seemed like that was becoming more often of an occurrence. Rhaella shuddered thinking about it. She urged the feeling away. “Thank you, Aemilia.” Rhaella smoothed over her own dress with her hands. “Now, we have a lot of work to do leading up to the feast tonight.”

It was Rhaella’s first meeting of her soon-to-be daughter. She’d met her mother a while ago, but not Elia yet. She knew she had no say on whether or not Elia and Rhaegar could get married, but she still wanted to make an effort towards her first born’s happiness.

And so she wanted the night to go well, as much as she could control. “I’m relieved Tywin will be joining this evening.” Not that she liked him. “The evening should go…smoother.” Aerys had become increasingly paranoid of his Hand, convinced Tywin was conspiring to do something. It meant that her brother would not be drinking heavily, not wanting to be impaired around the Lannister, or risk himself being poisoned.

“There’s a lot to prepare. And I’ll inform you of what will be your regular, daily duties, as well. Only if you’re ready, of course. If you’d like to settle beforehand,” Rhaella offered. Maybe Aemilia would like to unpack or freshen up. Wash the long journey off of her, change her clothes. Anything of the like, Rhaella would allow.
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Laudandum puellam, ornandum, tollendum.
Viserys did like to think he was clever, and far above all of these people. Well, except Rhaegar. He squinted his eyes as he was called ‘little’. Others liked to use it. He was pretty sure they were mocking him. ‘Your Grace’ made him feel better, though, and he straightened a bit in his brother’s hold, and looked at the man who reeked of horses, believing it. Then he looked back at the talkative woman.

She asked him if he liked horses, right? “I don’t like horses,” he said. They did smell awful. That was a good enough reason for him. Who wanted to be around messy, smelly animals? Who wanted to smell like them? If they smelled bad, he wanted nothing to do with them.

Rhaegar rolled his eyes, though, “You’ll learn to like them one day,” he told his brother, and motioned for the others to walk with him again, now that the Maidenvault had been seen to and the guards had unloaded some of their personal effects. “You want to be a knight one day, don’t you?”

“I want to be a dragonrider.”

“There are no more dragons,” he reminded his brother patiently, as if he’d had this conversation a thousand times. He was pretty sure he had. Viserys had to learn how to ride a horse, but he really didn’t get along with the creatures.

“Have you ever seen a Sand Steed, Your Grace?” Oberyn asked him, thinking to engage the prince on a topic that was dear to him. He loved horses. He didn’t care if he smelled like them in the least.


“You should see mine. You might like horses after that.”

Viserys didn’t seem to give any indication that he was interested, and just relaxed a bit against Rhaegar as they came out into the sun again, Oberyn stretching up into it as soon as the light touched him. “Where’s mom?”

“I don’t know,” he said, “I would guess in her room. Was she playing with you?”

“Mm….” the sound trailed off, almost sorrowful.

“You must have confused her by leaving the Holdfast.” He encouraged. He knew the reason, though. He wouldn’t dare let on. That…was a lesson he hoped this group would not learn any time soon. Ever. Thankfully, he recalled seeing his father exited the Holdfast, so it ought to be safe to return him there.

“You are talented at hide and seek, your grace,” Elia thought to compliment, hesitant as to if she ought to.


Aemilia was glad to see the smile, and feel the warmth of it, however dimmed it may have been by years of maltreatment. “I understand,” she cracked her own smile as she was given her ‘first’ instruction. She didn’t say she agreed, but she did understand. She wasn’t there to trade her life for Rhaella’s, much as she liked the Queen.

The woman claimed not to need any treatment, and Aemilia accepted it, making sure to put the box of her poisons and potions on the vanity to sort through later. The others were scattered about by her guards, to be unpacked likely in the night once the feast was over and she was allowed to return to her chambers. Sleep wouldn’t occur. Not until the next night.

Her eyes darkened a bit as Tywin was mentioned, but she turned her gaze to organizing a few of the boxes as Rhaella elaborated on how his presence seemed to keep things sane. "Yes, my lord has a way," there was a lilt on 'my lord'. She quickly covered it with play, looking back up at the Queen, “Are we on a first name basis already, Rhaella?” Aemilia joked as she heard the gratitude, and she saw the Queen look momentarily startled, a blush of fluster coming, and Aemilia lifted her hand. “I don’t mind,” she reassured her. “And I would prefer to get into my duties, if I could have a couple of turns before the festivities begin to clean up?”

Better than possibly ruining what she would wear to the feast by going along with the Queen and learning her duties. She’d like to be fresh before the feast. Before seeing Tywin.

She’d seen him before, but that was so many years ago…when she had a different name than Hill. She knew she looked much different, but she imagined Tywin would still be easy to pick out. She was not allowed as a Hill, but now…well, things had changed.

Rhaella gave a nod, “That should be doable,” she was willing to make the time now, so she could instead try to see to it that Aemilia had enough time at the end.

Aemilia gave an appreciative smile, “Where do we begin?”


nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
“I am!” Viserys stated as if he already knew he was talented at it. His brother’s words, as well as Elia’s, made him all the more confident. That he was just too good at hide and seek for his mother and it wasn’t because she was trying to get rid of him. “Your wife is smart,” Viserys told his older brother as he rested his head on Rhaegar’s shoulder.

Saige had to grin at that, especially as Elia looked back to her siblings, almost proud of herself. Elia seemed to relax after that. Saige couldn’t help but think that Elia was always better with children than her or Oberyn. She was kinder than them, not to say that they were unkind. But children seemed to gravitate towards Elia. She always had that motherly quality to her.

Saige admittedly wanted to see her sister as a mother. But Elia’s health posed far too much of a risk. Saige knew that Rhaegar and Elia would have to have a child together at some point. She just hoped that it wouldn’t be the end of Elia.

“Does this mean I’m going to marry Lady Saige when I’m older?” Viserys questioned, eyeing the woman over his brother’s shoulder.

Oberyn snorted, his laughter turning into a fake cough when Saige shot him a look. He was definitely going to tease her about that the few short days he was there. “No, Your Grace…” Saige’s voice trailed off as they came to the drawbridge above the moat of spikes. Oberyn felt the need to tighten his grip on his younger sister, as Saige felt the need to reach out and hold onto Elia.

“Why not?” Viserys frowned, almost taking it as an insult.

There were a number of reasons why. But Saige went with the easiest, prominent answer. “Because I’m a bastard. Princes don’t marry bastards, now do they? You’ll marry a highborn lady.” Or his own sister, if Rhaella happened to give birth to one anytime soon.

“You’re a bastard?” Viserys didn’t get that, since Rhaegar had called her ‘Lady’. “Gross.” Viserys proceeded to put his thumb in his mouth. His mother told him he wasn’t supposed to do that anymore. So, he didn’t do it. In front of her.

Elia quickly spoke after the youngest prince’s words, to distract from them. “Er…Your room is here too, right? Are our rooms near?” She questioned as they were across the drawbridge, not only to distract from Saige’s bastardy, but also out of a woman to be married’s curiosity. Viserys decidedly born with them then, turning his head away from the group.


Rhaella motioned for Aemilia to follow next to her. “First, I’m to approve a plate setting for the feast, which leads you to your main duty. Simply accompanying me. Accompany during the day, around the Red Keep. To court, when it’s allowed.” When she was allowed. It wasn’t often anymore that Aerys let her attend court or any outing that he went on. It was rare she ever left the Red Keep.

"And then we must head to the kitchens. There’s already a couple of honeyed hams cooking, but I wanted to include some of Rhaegar’s favorite side dishes. I wanted to include some of Princess Elia’s favorites as a way for the two of them to get to know each other, but I didn’t think to ask her mother. And I know nothing of Dornish food except that it’s all incredibly spicy. But I want Elia to feel at home her,” welcome. Rhaella did not want Elia to learn how unwelcoming the Red Keep or King’s Landing could be.

“Do you know anything of Dornish food, Lady Aemilia?” Rhaella thought to ask the woman. The Queen wasn’t well familiar with what Aemilia did prior to coming to be her handmaiden.

It seemed as Rhaella and Aemilia would miss Rhaegar and his entourage as the Queen led Aemilia in a different direction, not purposefully avoiding the group, as they entered the Holdfast.

“Speaking of food, you’ll join Viserys and I for breakfast and dinner each day.” It was usually just Viserys and Rhaella, and of course the servants that brought the food. Sometimes Rhaegar would join them. Aerys almost never ate with them, thankfully. “You’re welcome to the kitchens at any time, and feel free to tell the cooks what you like to eat.” Rhaella had been over the spiel so many times already with former handmaidens.

“And following that you’ll assist me in dressing and undressing, respectively. I really only need assistance with lacing dresses and particularly large gowns. I won’t ask that you draw me baths or bathe me, I can do all of that myself.” And Rhaella did like the alone time of it. No children, no Aerys, no one but herself. Quiet. Except for those rare times that she couldn’t bathe herself. Aerys hadn’t hurt her that bad in a long time, but it did happen.

“And of course there’s tasks individual to each day that’ll arise. And that’s why you’re to accompany most of the day. But of course you’ll have time to yourself, and if you ever need to leave my side, please don’t hesitate to ask.” Rhaella assured as they crossed over the drawbridge, the knight planted at one end bowing ever so slightly in acknowledgement.

Rhaella responded with a brief bow of her head before continuing on her way, holding her skirts up ever so slightly as she walked. “And then at some point today I need to find Viserys,” Rhaella softly mused. She had this feeling that her youngest was figuring out that these games of hide and seek were really just a cover for her sending him away. She’d have to play a few actually games with him, where she found him, so he wouldn’t become suspicious. She worried he’d stop playing the game when she needed him to.


Laudandum puellam, ornandum, tollendum.
Rhaegar groaned as Viserys called Saige gross. He wanted to speak up for her, to call her beautiful, or to correct Viserys that bastards weren’t gross, but he didn’t. One day, Viserys would understand that bastards weren’t gross, just…lower. Though, everyone was technically lower than rank than the Targaryen monarchs. There was also a decent chance that Viserys would marry one of their own, if Rhaella ever gave birth to a girl. He would have…but he was spared that incest. All because of a prophecy…his parents had become obsessed.

Or, his father, anyway.

Elia, it seemed, preferred to be distracted from such confrontations. Rather than try to teach Viserys it was wrong, she asked of rooms, while Viserys sucked on his thumb. He had to comment, “You know how childish that is, don’t you, Viserys?” He had to break that habit. Rhaegar figured teasing him would break him of it. He didn’t like to be mocked.

And the child did send what could pass for a withering glare at him, before the thumb popped out of his mouth and he held that sour look as Rhaegar answered Elia, “Yes, our rooms are…near. Mine is across the hall from yours,” not right next to it, but right across. They were meant to be close, as his father was meant to be near his mother. As with his mother, the lady would remain near, as well. “Lady Saige—”

“She’s not a lady,” Viserys tried, and was ignored.

“—will have the room right besides yours,” he indicated, as they came into that hall. He pointed first to his own room, “That is mine,” Viserys was still much closer to their mother’s room, considering his age. He set the young prince down then, and as he straightened up, pointed, “And that is to be your room, Princess Elia. Lady Saige,” Viserys huffed, “the room to her left is yours,” he indicated, “You may take the time to unload and unpack your things,” there was naught expected of him then, thankfully, only to see to the Dornish guests and get to know his wife. His mother would likely take care of most of the rest, and Lord Tywin would see to anything that would have required his father’s attention, most likely.

Unless Aerys felt like being involved in these sorts of petty things, but he doubted that his father would take that sort of time or care for the festivities.

Elia moved forward to take a look at her own room, wondering how much different it would be from her space in Dorne. She was glad when she opened it and the room seemed flooded with light from a gorgeous window, and another that led out onto a balcony. That would be nice, even if the spikes in the moat were…disheartening.

Rhaegar spoke from the hall, though he had moved a bit closer, "Are the rooms to your liking?" He addressed both of them.

Elia turned, the dress hissing over the floor as she did so, "Yes," she answered him. The colors had clearly been made to match with her house's colors, as if to make her feel more at home. She would have to adapt it a bit. She wanted more purples and blues, lighter hues, than the sandy ones of home. She would keep some of those, too, and one day implement some of the colors of the Targaryens...but purple seemed like it fit for that. His eyes were so beautifully purple, like those of House Dayne. She would step out then, to go and see Saige's own quarters, as guards moved into her room to place her luggage carefully about.


‘Simple accompaniment.’ Aemilia did not mind that so much, though she knew at times she may find it tedious or boring. Right now, of course, it was interesting. She did not know this area as well, and she had a great desire to learn its workings as she walked alongside the Queen. She liked Rhaella as it was, or what she knew of her, what she’d enjoyed of their letters, so she doubted the company would ever become an issue.

She moved fluidly from topics, and Aemilia did not answer her question immediately as it did shift to breakfast and dinner, which she would have with the Queen and her son, Viserys. She was welcome to the kitchens, and could specify her own desires – fortunately she wasn’t picky, though she certainly had favorites. Dornish food was to her liking.

Dressing and undressing was expected. Bathing would have been as well, but she was not sorrowful to not be needed for it. She’d learned to do her own bathing as well – a bastard didn’t get help for such things, and a bastard she had pretended to be for only too long. “I understand – the duties of the day vary, and I will learn to adapt to each one,” she gave her a light smile, “and likely, time in the morning before breakfast, and time in the evening before bed should be enough for me, but if I require more, I shall inform you.” There would be occasions, she knew, even without her ulterior motives.

As for Dornish food, “In Dorne, they enjoy spicy foods as well as using their many citrus fruits. Duck marinated in lemon is delicious, and their wine is not as sweet as ours, though they do have some dessert blends that are rather enjoyable, plum in particular. It’s quite sweet. They also have pomegranate wine…it’s rather dry. More like a white wine,” when one would think it ought to be akin to a red wine. “They do use spicy peppers with much, as well. They even put it in with their eggs at breakfast.” It had been so difficult to escape spicy food in Dorne. “And then they make this bland thing called hummus,” she shook her head.

She thought to the conversations she’d had with Oberyn, though, and his sister’s tastes, “Lady Elia favors more the sweet fruits and the bland hummus, she does not have the stomach for spicy foods. Breakfast of cheese and grapes, hummus and bread, seems more to her tastes, not spicy eggs,” in spite of where she lived, it seemed to disagree with her, though much did. The citrus did better, especially when cooked or used as a marinade. “Foods marinated in citrus, sweet wines, onions – I believe these will be more to her tastes without boring her palate or those of her Dornish guests. Perhaps peppers not as spicy as those found in Dorne, as well. Oh! Or stuff the peppers with cheese, that’s quite tasty and the heat of the peppers seems to fade with the cheese….”

She realized from the look she was receiving as they moved along the grounds towards the Red Keep, that she had startled Rhaella by speaking of Elia, and she flushed a bit at realizing not only that, but how much she’d been talking of food. She enjoyed food. She’d learned so much about tastes in learning the art of poison and how to hide poisons, that she’d also developed a love of foods and even making it herself. “I am friends with her brother, Prince Oberyn. He would comment on how his appetite differed from hers,” her smile was a touch apologetic as she realized she had spoken too much. “He had me try grilled snake with him – I do not advise serving that, you have to have a very skilled chef to avoid it becoming dangerous,” or not care about the poison, as she and the viper hadn’t.


nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
Saige was admittedly surprised by such distaste coming from a three-year-old. But she wasn’t bothered by them. After all, Viserys was just a child. She wouldn’t let a child’s words bother her.

Instead, she took to the room that Rhaegar indicated was hers. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting when she opened the door. The first thing she was greeted by was light from the blazing sun. Her eyes adjusted to the light and she was welcomed by the sandy colors that reminded her of Dorne and the colors of House Martell. There was plenty of decor and furniture to look at but what she was drawn to first was the bed.

She dropped herself onto the bed. It was a bigger bed than she expected. It was soft and the sheets and blankets were obviously thin, due to the hot climate. It wasn’t a canopy bed like hers back in Dorne, so she already had something she was going to change. But the room was nice.

Elia entered Saige’s room, moving to join Saige on her bed, sitting rather than lying, “I don’t know. Oberyn, is this enough light for us?” Saige’s tone was humorous.

Oberyn had inspected the rooms from the hall, “Hm, I suppose they’ll do.” He too was jesting.

Saige rose from the bed then, actually looking around at the room. It was nice, the decor and everything. Saige would make a few changes one day, but she felt once she had unpacked, once she laid out her jewelry and cosmetics on the vanity and laid out her clothes, the room would feel much cozier. She stepped out of the room, to go look into Elia’s. Guards moved to place things in her room as she passed Rhaegar. “The room’s wonderful, Your Grace.” She assured him, in case he hadn’t realized they were joking.

Elia’s room was just as nice as hers was, if not more. She only glanced into it, knowing she’d get to know it later. She maneuvered back to her room, “You can enter the rooms, Prince Rhaegar. I don’t mind. I’m sure Elia wouldn’t mind either,” Saige winked at her sister who still sat on her bed, the woman turning red once again.

Viserys figured that applied to him, as well, not understanding the suggestion in Saige’s voice. He seemed to have grown bored with them, though, as he seemed to be playing a game with himself. He was speaking lowly enough for him to not be disruptive as he ran out to the balcony, pretending to be a knight. Or rather, a dragonrider, even if Rhaegar had discouraged him by telling him there were no more dragons.


Rhaella’s facial expression softened at Aemilia’s apologetic smile. She didn’t find that Aemilia was talking too much, just rather she didn’t know the woman could talk that much. About food. And specifically, foods that Elia liked. The Queen didn’t know that Aemilia knew Elia. Or rather, that she knew Oberyn. Or any of the Dornishmen. Aemilia must have more stories than what they spoke of in letters.

Rhaella didn’t find Aemilia annoying. She actually rather enjoyed Lady Aemilia rambling. She felt inviting and friendly. Rhaella’s previous handmaidens were nice, but spoke too little or couldn’t hold a conversation. Rhaella was really only allowed a handmaiden for company, other than her youngest son, and she wanted to be able to enjoy the presence of said handmaiden.

Though, Rhaella wasn’t going to encourage her to talk that much in any other situation.

The silver-haired Queen smiled ever so slightly, “Grilled snake doesn’t sound quite appetizing anyway. But thank you for the suggestions, I’ll keep them in mind.” Rhaella was certainly worried that their food would be too bland, but it seemed like Elia would like it better that way. Maybe not the rest of their Dornish guests, but they’d be leaving in a few days anyway. And then Rhaella would actually communicate with her soon-to-be daughter.

Rhaella had heard good things about the Princess, but she really hoped that Elia would be kind, and strong-willed, and exactly the person she’d hope for Rhaegar to marry.

“You seem to like food by the way you talk about. You certainly don’t look like you like food,” Rhaella cracked a little joke. It didn’t take much for Rhaella to warm up to Aemilia in person. She already felt like she knew the woman from the ravens sent back and forth. But not everything, apparently. “I didn’t know you knew Oberyn Martell. I believe he came here as his sister’s party,” Rhaella offered, not knowing that Aemilia had already run into the prince.

It was then that they made it to the throne room, the doors immediately being pushed open for the Queen and her handmaiden. As the doors opened, Rhaella silently hoped Aerys wasn’t there. He shouldn’t have been, as Rhaella had told him the throne room would be converted to accommodate the feast. But she never knew what was going through her husband’s mind.

Thankfully he wasn’t, but there were people shuffling about, table being moved in, not yet set as they were waiting for the Queen to approve of dinnerware and such.


Laudandum puellam, ornandum, tollendum.
The women took in their rooms, and Rhaegar still stayed aside as he watched Elia move from her room, to her sister’s room. They spoke of the light, and at first, Rhaegar wasn’t actually sure if they were joking about it – it was Oberyn’s tone that made it clear, before Saige did, stepping out as the guards stepped in to distribute their belongings into each of their rooms. He wondered at all they had brought, wondered at who these women would truly turn out being once he got to know them.

He chuckled at Saige’s invitation, “I can enter the rooms in my own home?” He pretended not to notice the actual joke as Elia turned red Well, thank you, Lady Saige, Princess Elia,” he did step in, glad the rooms were appealing to both, and that even their brother agreed to it. He did not mind the rooms either, he had looked in on them a couple of times before and knew the schemes. It was meant to make them feel closer to home, though he didn’t know Dorne that well.

Ser Dayne had some minimal input.

He leaned on the wall near the doorway, “You may have time to unpack as you like, or I can see that baths are run for you if you want to wash off the road – you as well, Oberyn.”

“Will you help?” Oberyn asked, and Elia shot him a glare for it, her face still flushed, “I’m kidding, I’m kidding – I may take you up on that, though,” he flopped onto the bed, “It was such a long journey.”

Rhaegar had to ask then, “Have you ever been to King’s Landing before?” It was addressed to them all, though he had a feeling he knew the answer from Elia, he was not so sure about Oberyn or Saige.

Elia did shake her head, “No, Your Grace,” he realized only then how all the formality still surrounded them. He supposed if they were to be married, they should become acquainted with informality, and yet he did not correct her, not then. “I have not traveled much, in truth…this is all quite new to me.”

“I’ve been many places,” Oberyn boasted, “but not here before,” never had cause before. Now, he would have to visit more frequently since his sisters were here. He rose then, stretched, “I think I will take that bath now, though, I presume we do not have too much time before we must all go to the feast, present our gifts to your parents, and then enjoy, yes?”

“A few turns yet.”

“Not nearly enough time to enjoy a warm soak,” Oberyn complained, though it was in jest. He wanted to give Elia some time without him, to get to know Rhaegar. Let them learn how it would be without him in general, and make sure they both still felt safe.


Rhaella’s smile seemed too soft for Aemilia to consider she had not spoken too much, up until Rhaella cracked a joke, and she immediately felt her expression shift to one of shock, before a short laugh escaped her lips, more from surprise than anything else, “Portions, my queen, are the way to enjoying food. Portions and lots of walking,” so much walking. “And Prince Oberyn did. He is an interesting man, but in small doses,” sometimes he could be overwhelming, his presence dynamic.

She let her hands clasp behind her back as they entered the Throne Room, and Aemilia’s gaze wasn’t caught by the tables nor the servants flitting about. No, they moved to the dragon skulls that decorated the throne room, from the large one, to the small, and she wondered at how they could all be gone, when they were so powerful.

‘Like the Reynes.’

Her heart twisted and she turned her eyes from the dragons as a servant called out, “Your Majesty, Queen Rhaella,” her eyes moved there, and as Rhaella walked over, she followed. The servant was an older man, a smile still in his eyes, though it was tempered by age. “I have the dinnerware sets to consider for the feast, my queen,” he indicated, and gestured as it was still being brought out and set then on the table that he stood near.

Golds glimmered like gilded sand, and silver seemed as smooth as a mirror’s face. There were no blacks, it seems they were considering brighter colors, touching on aspects that weren’t quite official colors for either house, but associated all the same. The gold and silver sets were also near sets of red and yellow, fiery, and another set more natural, akin to wood.

Table clothes were brought out as well, often with trim or tassels that tied into the colors of the sets. Purple with silver, black with gold, and a host of other options to match the mood that the Queen would wish to set for the evening.

Aemilia didn’t know if her opinion would be desired, in truth, but she couldn’t help but comment, “The purple one is pretty,” and purple seemed a calming hue, paired with that silver, it seemed that it might paint a more even hue, and it represented the traits the Targaryens were known for – purple eyes and silver hair.


nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
Oberyn rose from Saige’s bed then, Elia shifting as her brother’s weight left the bed. “Enjoy yourselves. But don’t enjoy yourselves too much. Not yet, anyway.” While the first part addressed both his sisters, the latter was meant to tease Elia and her betrothed.

“Go take your bath, brother,” Saige urged Oberyn to leave her room. She decided Elia had enough teasing for the moment. Her older sister was already as red as can be. Though, if Elia hadn’t reached peak redness, Saige would’ve continued the teasing. She knew what she would’ve said. Something along the lines of not waiting. They were already to be married after all.

Saige could only imagine the impression they’d left on Rhaegar already.

Her brother only grinned before moving past Rhaegar to leave.

The dark-haired woman began to unpack some of her things, as Rhaegar said she could. Not everything, just things she’d figured would come into use until she could unpack all of her things. She started with her jewelry and cosmetics, things of the like. Oils and perfumes, as she figured she’d need some to bathe. She likely wouldn’t until Elia felt comfortable enough around Rhaegar to be left alone with him. Though, Saige would suggest to Elia bathing before the feast. And then Saige would doll the woman up to meet her betrothed’s family.

Saige still had questions about the feast. She knew bastards were treated much differently in the rest of Westeros, with less respect. And Saige was really just supposed to be Elia’s handmaiden here. She figured she wouldn’t be able to sit with her siblings, and didn’t want to offend by doing so. But Saige wouldn’t ask of it then, those were worries for later.

As Saige began to move about with a few dresses in her arms, she recalled Rhaegar’s question and figured her sister would like to change the subject. “I’ve been a lot of places but never King’s Landing.” And Saige had little desire to after her experience in other parts of Westeros. But she came for her sister.

“Saige and Oberyn have sailed across the sea to Essos.” Elia informed. Elia recalled wanting to go with her siblings, but her mother hadn’t allowed it. Elia knew Saige’s mother had been from Essos, but didn’t see it appropriate to mention that. “Have you ever been, Prince Rhaegar?” She thought it was a good start to get to know each other.

Viserys poked his head back in then, Essos intriguing the young boy. He knew Valyrian blood was strong there, that dragons were said to have been born there. “I want to go to Essos!” He declared.


Rhaella glanced back to her handmaiden as they entered the throne room, the Queen’s lavender eyes following Aemilia’s green ones. They weren’t on the tables or the servants or even the Iron Throne, but rather the dragons. Rhaella’s own gaze moved about the varied skulls, wishing they were more than skulls. That they were still around.

Rhaella quite enjoyed the tales of her ancestors and their dragons. She always enjoyed telling them to Viserys, even though she often had to insist that dragons didn’t exist any longer. She remembered telling Rhaegar such tales as well.

The Queen often enjoyed the ones involving the Targaryen women before her. Strong and smart. Though she often felt guilty that she never lived up to their strength or intelligence. Their ferocity. Rhaella sincerely wished she had.

Her attention was drawn from the dragon skulls lining the throne room and to the old man she knew to be Byron. He’d been around a long time, he’d even served her father. Rhaella stopped just next to him, greeting him with a nod, that small smile still on her face. “Thank you, Byron.” She spoke as the sets were laid out on the table before them, table cloths being placed next to them.

Where Aerys lacked courtesy, Rhaella tried to make up for it tenfold.

Rhaella’s eyes roamed over the sets and cloths. She frowned ever so slightly, already eliminating a few in her mind. The black and gold cloth seemed too serious, or something that they’d lay out during mourning. Not very welcoming. The wood plate set seemed not extravagant enough. Rhaella didn’t want anything that represented the Targaryen house too much, as it was also to welcome Elia and the Martells back into the family.

Aemilia spoke, regarding the purple and silver table cloth as pretty. Rhaella ran her hand over it as she mulled it over in her mind, playing with the hem of it. It was calming and subtle, but reminded her the slightest bit of House Targaryen, and she knew very well why. It wasn’t offensive. “Indeed it is, Lady Aemilia,” Rhaella glanced over the plates, crossing off the plain gold and the fiery set. The silverware naturally went with the table cloth.

And so it was decided. “The purple one paired with the silver set.” She declared.

“Of course, Your Grace. Wonderful choice.” Byron praised as other servants went to take the other sets away and gather enough of the purple and silver.

“Thank you, but I believe the credit goes to Lady Aemilia.” The redhead’s opinion was valued, in fact.


Laudandum puellam, ornandum, tollendum.
The Martell siblings were close, Rhaegar noted, and he almost envied it. He and Viserys were not close, though much of that had to do with their age difference, and how little he liked being near Aerys. He had half a mind to leave for Dragonstone once he was married. He would miss his mother, but even they had grown a bit distant thanks to his father. It would be better all around if he removed himself from the situation…but first he had to see how it would go. See if his father would manage to reign in his temper a bit, and not immediately dislike all of this.

He would not let Aerys abuse either of the Dornish women.

Rhaegar did remain in touch with the conversation and he shook his head at the question, “No, unfortunately I have never had the pleasure of leaving Westeros,” he answered. He had been to a few different places in Westeros, but not as many as he’d like. He was the heir, after all. He had to be watched and protected.

He looked down at Viserys, chuckling as he poked his head in to declare he wanted to go to Essos, “One day,” it might be easier for him, one day. He was the second born. “You can go to Volantis.”

“No! I want to go to Valyria!”

“Valyria’s gone, Viserys.”

“Nuh uh. It just smokes. We could go there,” they were dragons, they would be fine there, “I wanna go and find dragons. One day.” The young prince looked to Saige then, “Have you seen them?” Dragons, of course, always dragons. So much better than horses. They had to fly away from Valyria, now and then, right? Maybe even the bastard saw them. She seemed immensely more interesting if she had.

Rhaegar sighed, though Elia glanced to Saige to give her an encouraging look. Elia didn’t want to crush Visery’s dreams…completely, “Well, my sister has told me some interesting stories of things she’s seen in Essos…,” she led, hoping Saige would find words to help her with Viserys’s opinion of her, at least a little bit.


‘Byron.’ Aemilia made a note to commit the name to memory, as Rhaella seemed to consider the options set before her, mulling over her own words, and for a moment Aemilia did imagine she had spoken out of turn. She may have been brought up to be a humble spoon, but she wasn’t. It was never her style, and so being a servant to anyone was still…strange, in a way. She did respect the Queen, but she did not yet know the limits, what she should and shouldn’t do.

She was there to help, that much she knew, but whether ‘help’ just meant being near, or adding input, was another matter.

Fortunately, Rhaella accepted it, and even chose that set, pairing the purple with the silver utensils. It would be a calming set, that would evoke the Targaryen family without question. Byron naturally thanked the Queen, and the Queen deferred and offered her praise. ‘Do I defer? Do I…?’ “Thank you, your grace,” Aemilia just accepted it. Perhaps not as humble as she should have been. Perhaps she should have thanked the servants for offering such a spread and having such an idea as the purple and silver.

Did she? No.

As it was cleared away, Byron spoke again, “We will need to see to the seating for the High Table now. Your seat and King Aerys’s will remain the same as ever,” he said as they started to walk towards it, “His Grace, Rhaegar, will have his seat, and Princess Elia will be at his side. Prince Viserys will be at your side, if you wish,” sometimes, she did not wish him so close. “Lord Tywin should also be seated here, on Aerys’s side, but I was not certain how to situate Prince Oberyn, or Princess Elia’s handmaiden, er, nor yourself, Lady Hetherspoon.”

Sometimes Rhaella had them join her, sometimes not. It usually depended on what mood Aerys was suspected to be in. He did not often make scenes in public, and perhaps some of that was due to Rhaella’s careful planning and insight.

“I will not mind regardless,” Aemilia said, for herself, and she would not offer insight otherwise. Seeing how Aerys had been just that morning, looking for Viserys, well…she wouldn’t say a word about where Viserys ought to be, nor if Saige or Oberyn should be up there.


nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
Saige scrunched her nose up ever so slightly at the mention of Volantis. Volantis wasn’t her favorite, but Saige didn’t say as much. Saige had a lot to say to Elia in that moment though but, again, didn’t say a word. She simply shot her older sister a look, one that Elia knew to mean that she’d be in trouble once they were left alone.

But Elia also knew that Saige could never stay upset with her for long. And for that, she only offered her sister an encouraging smile.

Saige sighed, turning to the silver-haired boy as he looked up at her expectantly. Not even Saige could crush the child’s dreams, lest he dislike her even more. She gave Viserys’s brother an apologetic look. He was clearly trying to discourage this talk of dragons and here she was about to encourage it. But she wouldn’t feel too bad. He was still just a little thing, he’d come to realize as he became older. She wanted to become a horse when she was four and she accepted that wasn’t likely.

“I have a few stories, but I’ll tell you just one.” She told him. She had no stories about living dragons and the one she was about to tell was something she’d make up in the moment.

“Yes!” Viserys cheered and dropped to the ground in front of Saige as he would when he was usually told stories. “You’ll tell me the others, though, right? I want to hear all of them!”

“If it’s allowed, maybe another day.” Saige hoped it wouldn’t be. Otherwise she’d have to come up with more stories. And she wasn’t even sure how to start this one. “Well, while I’ve never seen a living dragon, I have seen some…curious things. Like when I was living with a merchant.” She actually did live with one for a while. He gave her food, shelter, showered her in gifts. All for a few acts of intimacy. And then he tried to sell her off as a slave.

“One time, he didn’t receive goods he paid for, so we and a few sellswords rode to find out what had happened. They were farmers you see, and when we arrived, we found their farms burned to the ground. Those who survived the fires said something came screaming in the night, took their sheep and burned their crops.”

“It was dragons, I know it!” Viserys chimed in, lilac eyes wide with excitement. “Tell me more, bastard Saige!”


Rhaella followed Byron’s lead as he explained what he’d gathered so far for seating. She would sit next to Aerys, as always. That never changed unless she wasn’t permitted to attend such festivities. So far she agreed with the arrangements, Elia next to Rhaegar, Viserys next to her. Rhaella didn’t always allow Viserys to attend such things, but she figured it appropriate in this case. And she would be in-between her son and her husband.

But what would she do as far as Elia’s company and her own handmaiden went?

“Thank you, Lady Aemilia,” Rhaella acknowledged Aemilia’s words as she considered her options. While Aemilia’s input had been helpful in things such as table cloths, it wouldn’t do much when it came to seating people together. In some situations, it could be quite vital.

Typically, Rhaella wouldn’t seat handmaidens at the High Table during events like these, but there was the difficulty of Elia’s handmaiden also being her sister. A bastard, but her sister nonetheless. And the Queen was aware of how differently bastard children were treated in Dorne. And she didn’t want to offend, but she couldn’t very well put either of the handmaidens next to Lord Tywin. At the same time, she knew that the Martells and the Lannisters had a bit of a bump in the road a few years before.

“Hm,” she mused. And then she had an idea. “Elia’s handmaiden will sit at the Princess’ side. Lady Aemilia will sit in-between Lord Tywin and Prince Oberyn.” Technically Aemilia was a noblewoman, having been legitimized. So, she wasn’t simply placing a handmaiden next to the Hand of the King. Rhaella didn’t want to slight Tywin anymore than her husband already had.

The Hetherspoons were sworn to the Lannisters, so Rhaella saw little issue.

Besides, people moved about during feasts to mingle and, once drunk, dance about. Seats weren’t permanent. Rhaella would be sure to send Viserys to bed before then. “Of course, Your Grace.” Byron nodded to her instructions.

“Thank you again, Byron.” Rhaella expressed with a warm smile. Byron made much easier. “Come, my Lady. We must head to the kitchens now.” Rhaella would probably have Aemilia recite to the cooks what she’d said to her on the subject of food Elia prefers. She was fairly certain they’d be able to appease whatever recipes called for, but Rhaella would look into getting ingredients native to Dorne that they did not possess in King’s Landing.


Laudandum puellam, ornandum, tollendum.
Elia knew that look, and though she felt some pain for her sister, she did not regret her choice. As Saige spoke on, she wove a story of events in Volantis that captivated the young prince. Elia was heartened to see him so easily intrigued, and hoped this would spell good things for his future with Saige. Elia wanted them all to get along. They were to be family, after all. If she could just get on his good side…that would make things easier.

Though, the prince had to slip and call her a bastard again. “Lady Saige,” Elia corrected gently, and Viserys looked as if he might argue it as his eyes turned up to her, catching fire at being corrected by someone else.

Rhaegar, however, added to it, “She is Princess Elia’s handmaiden, her…lady-in-waiting,” he said, and then added, “Besides, being rude to her won’t get you any further stories,” Rhaegar lifted his eyes to catch Saige’s, wanting her to encourage that. Perhaps with bribery, they could get Viserys to act a little nicer. It might help him in his interactions with others, too, not only Saige.

“But she is a bastard,” he whined to Rhaegar.

“And a lady.”

A pout crossed his lips, before he sighed, and said the words as a spat, “Okay. Lady Saige. More stories?”

Rhaegar smiled, even if it came as a spat, it was at least improvement. “Later,” he told Viserys, as she had said later. She had started this. “They are our guests, we should not be making demands of them when they’ve had a long journey here. Perhaps they have questions, or perhaps they need to kick us out so they can prepare to meet our father today, hm?”

Viserys just looked so annoyed right then. He’d been nice. He called her a lady. Why couldn’t he demand more stories right now? “This is stupid,” he grumbled. Were he older, he might have instead called it horseshit, but as he was three, it was just stupid, and so he stood back up to storm off again. He should have gotten what he wanted if he followed the rules of being nice.

Rhaegar gave them both an apologetic look, though mostly focused on Saige, as he may have spoken out of turn in dissuading Viserys from more stories, but he had sensed it was not something she wanted to dwell on right then. “I’m sorry for him,” he said when he was certain Viserys was far enough away, and not paying any attention.

“It’s all right,” Elia soothed, “He’s a child….” As if that was reason enough to forgive his mishaps and rudeness.

Still, Rhaegar sighed. He hoped he wasn’t this troublesome to his mother when he was a child. He didn’t think so. He was quite certain that was actually the problem with him when he was a youth, a certain lack of energy, or interest, in what he ought to be interested in.

Perhaps this was the norm for all children, no matter their station.


Aemilia was silent as Queen Rhaella considered her options, looking over the table in her silent contemplation. Aemilia expected to be situated elsewhere, perhaps with Saige and Oberyn. At least those would be friendly faces to pass the time with, and she could learn a bit more of Saige, whom she would be seeing around, as Elia. She didn’t know if she’d truly get along with either, but she’d want to keep her eyes over both.

If Rhaegar was anything like Aerys…or if Aerys paid either of them any attention…well, she might have to find a way to intervene for them, as well, for Oberyn’s sake if nothing else.

It seemed that wasn’t to be the case, though. Elia was to be near her sister, and she…was to be near Oberyn.

‘Tywin.’ For a second she felt herself go rigid as the words passed Rhaella’s lips. It was what she wanted, to be near enough to easily cause him harm, but not then…that was simply too suspicious if she killed him her first night there, when sitting next to him. Which meant she would have to play nice, without getting to casually know him in the halls or during the events. No. Right besides him. ‘Ellyn would be laughing at his ignorance.’ She relaxed, thinking of her aunt and that haunting laugh.

She had to use the opportunity given, take it as a blessing and not a curse. When she finished eating she could drag Oberyn to dance, or even before, if she needed to. Mingle. Each thought assisted in calming, as Rhaella thanked Byron and then turned, taking them on to the kitchen.

“Thank you for the honor of sitting at the high table, your grace,” she slipped back to formality.

“It will not always be so,” Rhaella cautioned, hoping to not offend her later in the future if it had to be otherwise.

“I understand,” Aemilia was still torn between wishing she wasn’t there then, and being elated she had a chance to be so near her target, so early.

They came into the kitchens then, and the air alone put Aemilia into a better mood as she took in a deep breath to catch the many notes of flavors in the air, trying to discern each individual one as they mingled pleasantly together. It was heavy with heat, as well, and cooks were moving about hastily, trying to prepare for the guests. Yet, they all parted for the Queen, even if it didn’t seem as if they looked at her or saw her, and Aemilia followed in her trail.

Soon enough they came to a man, whom Rhaella called out to as, “Master Vylar,” she addressed him, and the man turned. “How are things coming along?”

“Well, well,” he said encouragingly, “We have much prepared, now moving on to those things which must be served shortly after preparation.”

Rhaella looked pleased with this, and gestured to Aemilia, “Master Vylar, this is Lady Hetherspoon. She is familiar with Princess Elia’s tastes, and I thought it would be prudent to have you speak with her.”

“Oh?” There was a slight narrowing of his eyes, “Well, go on then.”

Aemilia did, “I’m sure you are aware that the Dornish love spicy foods.”

“Of course, everyone—”

“Not Elia.” Aemilia cut him off, almost too satisfied with the abrupt sour expression his face took. “Lady Elia has something of a sensitive system, per her brother, Prince Oberyn,” she cited her source, “Hummus and fruits she is known to enjoy, and things that are lightly marinated in citrus are fine, but too much, and she may have a poor reaction. Duck marinated in lemon, for example. For spice, onions are about as far as it goes with her. If you’ve already prepared horribly spicy dishes, you may wish to make an alternative option for her, Master Vylar.”

“And should I suppose the same is true of Prince Oberyn?”

“Quite the opposite. He’d enjoy scorpion if you put it in front of him.” The aghast look on Vylar’s face was making this quite enjoyable, as if he would never consider scorpion food. Then again, who would? It was poisonous. “You have a wide and varied palette before you, though Oberyn will eat whatever is put in front of him, so you need not worry much. I'm afraid I do not really know Saige's tastes as well, though I do not believe they are far from Prince Oberyn's. Perhaps not as...adventurous." But few matched Oberyn there. Oberyn was insaitable in, well, everything.


nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
Saige waved her hand, “He’s fine.” She actually appreciated Rhaegar enforcing her words of later. Otherwise, Saige likely would’ve caved and gave Viserys another story as to not upset the little prince. “As my sister said, he’s a child. Besides, he was only calling me by what I am. And I am a bastard, last I knew.” Saige was rarely if ever offended by being called a bastard.

“Though, I suppose children can sometimes be blunt. Too blunt.” As was the case with Viserys. But he’d learn. Saige expected he’d likely come to her for stories again, even if he was upset now.

And she would enforce him referring to her as Lady Saige. Or simply Saige. And he’d be rewarded with the stories. Which she’d have to come up with. Maybe she’d try to teach him some lessons through her tales. She didn’t mind telling stories. It was simply her sister putting her on the spot, after her betrothed tried to discourage dragons. Even if Elia meant well.

“If you’ll excuse us, Your Grace,” Saige moved to lift her sister off the bed. “We only have a little while before the feast and I need all of that time to get myself ready.” She joked, but in reality she’d spend most of the time getting her sister ready. Elia was going to meet her future family, after all. She had to make a nice impression. Especially to a family that kept it all in their family, so to speak.

Their incredibly attractive family.

“I’d say the next time you see Elia, she’ll be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen, but if she’s not already…”

“Saige! You’re embarrassing me,” Elia mumbled. She was much too flushed for being here for only a short while. And Elia worried greatly that Rhaegar wouldn’t find her attractive. She wasn’t much compared to Targaryen beauties like Rhaella or even northern girls like Cersei. Young, the last time Elia saw her, but already stunning. Elia wondered if Rhaegar had expected to marry Cersei before Aerys denied the proposal.

Saige only smirked at Elia’s words, satisfied in a way only a sister was allowed to be, “Forgive me, Your Grace, but I’m going to kick you out of a room in your own home now.”


Rhaella was a bit taken aback at Aemilia’s interruption of Master Vylar. Rhaella briefly thought to scold the action, but dismissed that thought. It wasn’t consequential enough in the moment. Rhaella did hope, however, that the behavior would be left in the kitchens. The Queen worried that Aemilia would one day cut off the wrong person. And there were a lot of wrong people in King’s Landing.

But Aemilia already seemed to be scared of so little. She’d barged in on her and Aerys as soon as she arrived in King’s Landing, it was almost as if the woman had never heard of anything Aerys had done. But Rhaella knew she had. Everyone knew how mad Aerys was becoming.

As Aemilia and Vylar spoke of the Dornish’s tastes, Rhaella moved about the kitchen, examining what had been done so far. Vegetables and fruits, meats and things laid about tables, chopped. Cooks moved about with various already recognizable dishes. It was hot and humid in the kitchen, but Rhaella didn’t mind. She never minded the heat.

“I suppose I have a lot on my plate,” Master Vylar said, pun unintended. “I believe it would be more fitting of me to cater more towards Princess Elia’s tastes.” They’d already made a few spicy dishes. Or dishes considered spicy in the rest of Westeros. Based on the scorpion comment, Master Vylar doubted it would be spicy enough for Prince Oberyn. Besides, Elia’s tastes would be easy enough to take care of.

“Thank you, Lady Hetherspoon.” His appreciation was curt, but it was a thank you nonetheless. It would have been embarrassing for him if Elia could eat nothing that he and his staff had made. And for the future, Master Vylar figured Elia would appreciated the foods they made regularly. No scorpions or snakes or whatever it was the Dornish typically ate. “If you’ll excuse me, I should get back to work. My Queen—“ Master Vylar looked to Rhaella to bow, his eyes widening. “My Queen!”

“Hm?” Rhaella turned her attention back to Mater Vylar, following his gaze to her hand, which was terribly close to a fire. “Oh!” Rhaella pulled her hand back. She hadn’t even noticed. “Thank you, Master Vylar.” Rhaella placed her other hand high on Aemilia’s back. “We’ll let you continue your work. Come, Lady Aemilia. I’d like to find Viserys and make sure he’s taken care of before the feast.” Viserys was always terribly fussy when it came to getting dressed up.

Sometimes she wished he was more like how Rhaegar was when he was a baby.


Laudandum puellam, ornandum, tollendum.
Perhaps Saige was a bastard, but Rhaegar could not see her that way. She was a Lady. She was enforcing things and not letting herself be stepped on, nor her sister, who seemed only too sweet and sheltered. Beautiful as Elia was, it was still her sister that shone brighter, as someone he could imagine performing as a lady ought – managing a household, preparing a defense, and educating children. It was her who told Viserys later, not Elia. She forgave him as a child.

As if such was a good enough reason. He swore his mother did the same thing.

Yet, more of his company or Viserys’s was not wanted – Saige wanted the privacy to change, and Elia was lifted to her feet by Saige’s pull, and Saige tried to sell her sister as being beautiful – and how she would be so much more beautiful for their feast. He smiled at it, chuckling as her skin somehow tinted red despite how dark it was.

The hue of their skin was fascinating in so many ways to the fair prince. Especially the way it reddened, not pinkening as his own, but seeming to ripen like fruit. He laughed as Saige then said she was kicking him out, and he made sure to move back to the doorway, “I am sure that I will find your sister lovely for the feast,” he reassured Saige, “As if I did not already find you both to be beautiful,” he let the compliment slide easily off his lips.

‘You, more.’ Not to be spoken, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t compliment her, did it? “I will look forward to seeing you both stop the Lord Hand in his tracks,” that would be a feat for anyone, so he figured it’d come off as quite the compliment. Nothing stopped Tywin. Nothing made his jaw drop Nothing seemed to even interest Tywin Lannister, which made him absolutely perfect for the dull work of managing things behind the scenes.

Aerys really ought to treat him better, but would he? ‘No.’ Not that Rhaegar wanted to marry Cersei – she was a beauty he was simply too accustomed to, to find beautiful, and her personality left much wanting. The Lannisters all seemed to have something of an elitist view, and it showed especially in Cersei, who held herself above all others.

He would leave them though, shutting the door behind himself with a, “I’ll be sure a bath is run for you both,” before the door was shut, and he would indeed make sure to stop a servant to order it, and to let the two ladies know when it was prepared, while he went off to put himself together as well, and find Viserys. First, find Viserys – he really shouldn’t be wandering around all on his own.


Though her agreement was not asked for, Aemilia still nodded when the chef mentioned he should cater to Elia’s tastes. Oberyn really wasn’t that picky, just hard to satisfy. He’d be the sort her father would have loved trying to impress, simply for the challenge of it. At his gratitude, curt as it was, she said, “You’re welcome, Master Vylar,” for she bore him no ill will, even if she enjoyed his reactions. She was simply that way when it came to people who thought they knew better.

He turned from her to find Rhaella, and it seemed they had both let her out of their sights for too long. ‘Pyrophilia.’ Aemilia didn’t speak to it then, let Rhaella pull herself from her flames, and put a hand on Aemilia’s back to turn her away from all of this. “Of course, my queen,” Aemilia agreed easily, and stepped with the queen to leave behind the kitchens.

Outside of the kitchens, Rhaella spoke in a hushed tone. She may not have mentioned it in the kitchens, but she thought to, then, considering who Aemilia would be seated besides. Tywin was one of those ‘wrong people’. “My Lady, you must be cautious in how you speak to others here in King’s Landing,” she advised, “You may be above Master Vylar’s station, but if you were to cut off others like that, no matter how well intentioned, you would make your life here harder.”

Aemilia was silent a moment, before she answered, “I will try,” it was no promise. “I suppose I should keep it in mind, considering you’ve decided to seat me besides my own liege lord,” she let out an overdramatic sigh.

She had to be overdramatic. It was the only way to hide she was absolutely terrified, and absolutely infuriated, at once. Curious, as well, but the curiosity was more dangerous, as any cat knew – cats always liked to play with their prey, and she would play with Tywin if given the chance, she knew. “Hopefully Viserys will not be too difficult. I would not wish to disappoint Tywin by giving a bad name to the West and appearing unprepared for the feast myself,” she chuckled, still in that overly dramatic way, as if she didn’t truly care at all.

Viserys and the Queen’s needs would always come first, no matter. She had asked for time, but knew it was not guaranteed, and she would not act as if she were unprepared if she had to walk in what she wore now to the feast. “Where would Viserys be?” She asked the Queen, though she’d slipped into High Valyrian. She knew Rhaella spoke it. “I don’t suppose he’s hiding in any fires, is he?” A tease, but a probing tease, a curiosity at Rhaella’s fire-interest, to pull away from her comments about Tywin.


nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
As if I did not already find you both to be beautiful.’ The sentence repeated in her head. ‘Both.’ The compliment wasn’t lost on her. And maybe if it wasn’t something she heard all too often she would’ve blushed. Though that didn’t mean she didn’t greatly appreciate the compliment.

She let her attention wander back to the conversation. As if either Tywin Lannister even cared. The only thing Tywin took interest in was prevailing over everyone in the Seven Kingdoms. Saige wondered if Tywin Lannister even had a libido. ‘Maybe he’s a eunuch.’ Saige wondered in jest, of course. Saige might’ve found it fun to try and test that theory, if he weren’t Tywin Lannister.

“Thank you, Your Grace,” Saige thought to say as he disappeared out of the door. Once the door was shut and Saige figured he was far enough away, she turned to her sister. “I hate you. You know very well the closest thing I’ve seen to a dragon is a burnt lizard.” Saige complained as she made her way back to the vanity in her room in which she’d set her jewelry upon.

“No you don’t. You needed to make the little prince like you more. You’re going to be here a while, you know.”

Saige waved her sister off as she plucked a few pieces of silver accessories, “So, what do you think of Rhaegar?” Saige changed the subject as she returned to her sister, pulling her in front of a mirror.

“He’s nice.” Elia couldn’t help the grin on her face. Elia liked Rhaegar. And there was something exciting about marrying the beautiful prince. Saige stood behind Elia, placing a necklace around her neck. It was silver with a simple pendant hanging from it. A light pink gemstone surrounded by an ornate frame. “Are you letting me wear your jewelry?” Elia’s eyes widened as she turned to face her sister. Saige’s jewelry collection was rather precious.

“He’s more than nice, sweet sister. And yes. I have a feeling we won’t be sitting together at this feast, so I’m letting you wear it to remind you of me. But if you lose it, I am going to kill you.” No, she’d just be very mad. “For your dress, I’m thinking a low back, maybe cinched in at the waist to give you some shape,” she mused. Elia didn’t have much of a chest, or curves at all, so Saige was going to give the illusion of curves. “Something alluring, but not immodest.” Not like the things Saige herself wore, in other words.

Saige was going to have fun getting her sister ready for the feast. She just hoped her efforts would pay off in impressing the Targaryens.


Queen Rhaella forced a chuckle at Lady Aemilia’s tease. “I’m sure he would be hidden in a fire if he could be.” Rhaella’s response came easily as she slipped into her native tongue. It wasn’t spoken by many Westerosi at all, so even though it was her first language, she rarely spoke it.

Viserys was much too obsessed with dragons and fire. Rhaella tried her best to steer him away from such things, but he insisted in believing that they were all dragons. That they’d be able to survive smoke and fire as actual dragons once did. She hoped he’d come to realize as he got older that such things were just stories now. She hoped he’d take interest in other things.

“He’s likely somewhere in Maegor’s Holdfast,” that’s where he should be, anyway. It’d been a while, maybe he’d left. “If he takes too long to find, I’ll dismiss you.” Rhaella had said Aemilia could have her time before the feast and Rhaella was going to stand by that statement. She could get Viserys ready on her own and even herself. She’d just need a hand with a few things Aemilia could take care of in a few moments.

And so Rhaella led her handmaiden back over the drawbridge, into the holdfast. She wasn’t sure where to look first. Perhaps his own room.

But Rhaella wouldn’t have to go that far quite yet as Viserys had been walking about, looking for his mother. His purple eyes spotted her as she and her redheaded companion crossed the drawbridge. “Momma!” He called to her as he ran as fast as his little legs could carry him. He wanted to tell her of the bastard’s story and wanted to complain about how he’d been nice but still got no more stories.

Rhaella smiled thats of smile of hers as she lowered herself to Viserys’s height, opening her arms for him to run into. Which he did, and Rhaella lifted him up as she straightened. She held him on her hip as she began walking again. “Hello, my love.” Her marriage was loveless and miserable, but two good things came of it. Her sons. “Where have you been? I looked all over the castle for you.”

“You did?” So he was an expert hider! “Well, I was hiding in the Maidenvault before Rhaegar found me. I met Princess Elia and her brother and sister. They smelled bad. But Elia’s bastard sister told me a story about dragons in Essos! But she wouldn’t tell me any more.” Viserys went on.

“Princess Elia’s sister has a name, you know. And I hope you haven’t been calling her a bastard,” Rhaella scolded.

“But she is a bastard!” Viserys groaned. Why could he not call her by what she was? “Rhaegar made me call her Lady Saige.”

“Good, as you should.” Viserys pouted, but Rhaella only kissed her son’s chubby cheek. “You’ve yet to meet Lady Hetherspoon, Viserys,” Rhaella acknowledged Aemilia then. “Go on, introduce yourself.” She encouraged her son. He did need to work on his manners.


Laudandum puellam, ornandum, tollendum.
Elia pursed her lips a bit at Saige’s words of a dress. The temperature here was cooler than in Dorne, and she had noticed how women dressed on the way here. More and more layers, but she had no dresses like that. Women here seemed to think showing skin was a scandal, even a low back probably was. Yet, she did want to…perhaps, attract Rhaegar a bit. He was handsome, and she knew her figure was not as alluring as some.

Too frail. Too thin. If she could have the illusion that Saige was implying.

She lifted her finger to lightly touch the pendant. “I think that would work…,” she agreed. She didn’t think she had a dress that would match the pendant, but a red-violet could work just as well. Though, that almost seemed bold for her, and she felt herself start to panic a bit, wondering just how to make herself look alluring enough, without going too far outside of her comfort zone.

Her cheeks had to be flaming.

“I—I don’t even know what dress I have that would work,” she started to rise, to start throwing dresses upon the bed. She did get it open, and did begin the process, before there was a knock at the door. “Yes?” Her voice was a bit higher pitched than normal.

A woman outside spoke, calling, “Princess Elia? Ah, the baths have been prepared for you and Lady Saige,” apparently word was spreading fast that Saige was now to be called ‘Lady’ in spite of her bastard status. Her status as the princess’s lady-in-waiting was more important than that of bastard.

“O-oh! Right, thank you!”

A pause, then, “Do you need help finding the baths, or do you know the way, princess?”

Her cheeks must have flamed more as she realized she hadn’t considered that, and thought she could go back to looking at dresses. ‘But the time!’ She looked to Saige as she rose, and reached to take her hands. She would think of what dresses she had. Perhaps Saige already knew which one when she mentioned such a cut and design. She didn’t speak, just squeezed her hands, and forced a deep breath, before she walked to the door, trying to compose herself and not appear so flushed or bothered.

“I’m sorry,” Elia said when she saw the servant, inclining her head a bit, “It’s been such an overwhelming day. Please show us to the baths.”

The servant gave a nod and a smile, and looked to Saige, to await her being ready to leave with them to see at least where to go, even if she ended up running back to the room for some reason. She should know the layout of this area, especially since she was to be a lady-in-waiting. A servant by any other name….

A higher class servant, like Rhaella’s own handmaiden.


The Valyrian flowed fluidly off the lips of the woman, and seemed to answer the query. Fire may indeed harm them, no matter their unnatural attraction to the flames. She smiled at the melodic way it flowed from Rhaella – beauty of voice always drew her in, and in Valyrian, Rhaella’s voice seemed like a siren from ancient tales, enough to soften Aemilia’s features completely. She did not say as much – it was an odd thing to compliment, and she knew not how. Complimenting looks and style was easy, but voice? Never so, when one wasn’t singing, anyway.

Before she could long consider it, Rhaella’s words of dismissing her if it took too long going in one ear and out the other, Viserys showed up, an adorable child with the beautiful eyes of the Targaryens. He came running to Rhaella as she knelt, and right into her arms. A smile bubbled to the Reyne’s lips as she observed it, trying not to laugh lest it offend the prince.

Such things were always adorable, and Rhaella’s affection for her child only pulled more at her heart. As Viserys seemed to question whether his mother looked for him, Aemilia made sure to nod, as if she had been assisting. Of course Rhaella was looking all over for him, of course he was a good hider.

Viserys had met the Martells, and seemed to have quite the interesting meeting. She was introduced then, and he was told to introduce himself. His eyes fixed on her, and Aemilia felt a strange chill as they came upon her. He didn’t introduce himself, not at first. It seemed he liked to point out obvious things – like smell, or, “Are you related to Tywin?”

Aemilia jolted at that, “What?” Startled. Angry. She calmed the anger quickly, “No, just of the West…why?”

“Your eyes…,” not flecked gold, but he didn’t see green eyes that bright anywhere else. Lion’s eyes, he’d been told, like his eyes were dragon eyes. Tywin’s burned when he was angry, like wildfire. It was terrifying. “Hm. Well. I’m Prince Viserys Targaryen,” he held his chin a bit up, tried to look…imposing. It was too cute. Aemilia managed not to smile, though.

She introduced herself as well, dipping into a curtsy, “It is an honor, Prince Viserys. I am Aemilia Hetherspoon, your mother’s humble handmaiden,” not that humble, “and a former bastard.”

Viserys let out a long groan at that, “And I know a thing or two about dragons, too,” she slipped into Valyrian, immediately calming him as he heard his native tongue unexpectedly – the tongue of dragons.

“The Dance of Dragons?” Rhaegar asked, approaching, and continuing in Valyrian, “Mother,” he greeted her with warmth, approaching them and pulling her into a quick, brief hug, before looking to Aemilia expectantly.

“Yes, I do.”

“Good. I was going to perform one of the solos tonight, but if you know it…there’s a duet I rather like. Oh!” He realized then, “Mother, I met Lady Hetherspoon before she found you, she’s actually a rather good singer,” he offered, in case she wasn’t already familiar with the skill of her new handmaiden. He didn’t know how rigorous the screening was any longer. “Would you mind?” he doubted it, unless Rhaella was concerned with her handmaiden drawing Aerys’s attention.


nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
Saige could feel the stress and anxiety radiating off of Elia. She felt it as Elia the dresses upon the bed and when the woman came to tell them their baths were ready. Saige looked at the mess Elia had begun to create and decided she’d come back to it. She needed to know where the baths were, not just for her new job as a handmaiden. She had to get herself ready too.

So she joined her sister and the woman, the servant offering the two Dornish women a smile before taking the lead. Saige then looped her arm through her sister’s, holding Elia back a little distance behind the other woman. Not so far they’d lose her, but just enough so Saige could talk to Elia in “private”. Meanwhile, Saige did keep track of the twists and turns they were making. Picking out landmarks in the form of windows and patterns in the walls.

“Breathe, sister. All your stressing is going to give you wrinkles. Besides, this should be exciting! It’s a feast. You get to meet your future family. Best of all you get to spend the evening with your delightfully pretty husband-to-be.” Saige tried to encourage, but she soon realized her words did little to calm Elia. In fact, she was pretty sure she had the opposite affect, if Elia’s tightening grip on her arm meant anything.

It was understandable. The Targaryens were the monarchs. Quite the family to impress. Specifically the Mad King. Even the thought of Aerys made Saige nervous.

Saige sighed then. “Relax, Elia. I’ll take care of everything. All you need to worry about is bathing in a timely manner and being your lovely, charming self.” Saige would take care of the dress and Elia’s hair. She thought to add some makeup to Elia’s face. Elia often looked a little pale, despite her darker skin tone. Saige wanted her to look healthy. In front of the King and Queen, at least.

“Here we are, Princess Elia, Lady Saige.” The woman held the door open for them, steam from the baths greeting them. “The water might be a little hot,” she informed them.

“Thank you, my Lady.” Saige thanked the servant.

“Oh, I’m not a Lady.”

“Neither am I,” Saige winked at the woman before turning to her sister. “Will you manage on your own? I have to take care of your things.” Saige teased. She wouldn’t have much time to bathe herself, but she only needed to wash the smell of the road off of her. “I won’t leave you for long,” Saige assured as she released her sister’s arm. She wouldn’t leave her sister naked and alone in a foreign place for more than a few moments.


Viserys’s introduction could use some work. Perhaps start with his name and then ask questions later. Rhaella was startled by Aemilia’s reaction to the child asking her if she was related to the Hand. But the Hetherspoon seemed to brush it off. Maybe it was a new accusation to her. And another thing for the three-year-old to work on. Perhaps his aversion to bastards. He must’ve learned that from his father, Rhaella assumed. Unfortunately.

If Rhaella could, she’d never let Viserys anywhere near Aerys. Ever. And she wished she’d been able to have sheltered Rhaegar more from Aerys. But he hadn’t been so…horrible when Rhaegar was first born. Rhaella supposed it was all her fault. Her inability to produce children.

Speaking of Rhaegar, she was pleasantly surprised when she heard his voice. She hadn’t expected to see him until the feast. She gladly accepted his hug with one arm, still holding her youngest in the other. The hug was brief, but warm. She supposed he was too old for her to embrace him as she did when he was a boy. But it was rare that she had the chance to hug him at all, so she wasn’t going to complain.

Aerys kept Rhaegar away. Another reason for Rhaella to silently despise her husband.

Rhaella wasn’t much surprised by Rhaegar meeting Lady Hetherspoon beforehand, but the singing? If Rhaegar found someone to be talented, they must truly be. “Oh?” Rhaella looked to Aemilia, “Of course I don’t mind. I look forward to hearing you sing, Lady Aemilia.” Rhaella didn’t think a song would cause much of an uproar. Not a negative one, anyway.

Viserys was evidently bored with their conversation as he played with his mother’s necklace, fascinated by all the shinies. No one was talking about actual dragons, just songs. Rhaella glanced to her youngest then, before her violet eyes moved back to her first born. “If you’ll excuse us, my love. I need to prepare Viserys.”

Viserys whined then, “No! I don’t wanna.” He pouted, but Rhaella was already moving.

“You must, Viserys. Otherwise, no one will believe you to be their prince.”

“But I am their prince!”

“They won’t be able to tell if you look like a beggar,” Rhaella looked to Aemilia then. “You may have your time, Aemilia. It’ll take some time to get Viserys ready. If you could meet me in my chambers when you’re ready, we’ll head to the throne room together.”


Laudandum puellam, ornandum, tollendum.
‘Smiling is what gives you wrinkles.’ Elia thought to say, though constantly knitting her brows and flustering over all of this likely wasn’t helping her case to keep a wrinkle-free face, either. She breathed as Saige suggested, and her smile had a curve of delight, in spite of her anxiety. It would be nice to spend more time along her betrothed. Be seen as just that, before others, and hopefully find acceptance with more than just his mother. She did not imagine Rhaella would be too difficult…but everyone knew that Aerys was mad.

Not only that, he had wanted to marry Rhaegar to a sibling, but he had none. He had also found no one of suitably Valyrian blood to marry to him in Essos. Elia was slightly surprised a Dayne was not found for him, considering their heritage, or a Velaryon, for that matter. Yet, it had been her…and she did hope it would be for the best, for both of them. That her marriage to him would be happy.

The servant left them after Saige thanked her, Elia giggling a bit at the ‘lady’ comments that were flying around. Everyone was going to be a lady at this rate. “Yes, I’ll manage on my own,” though often she was accompanied in Dorne, it didn’t mean she didn’t know how to bathe herself. It was fairly simple to wash up without assistance. “I’ll be done soon, you can take some time to yourself,” Elia reassured.

Perhaps she was a bit nervous by the new location, and didn’t know the norms, but Saige deserved some time to get cleaned up, as well, and she would be so uncertain afterwards that she’d likely take up all the time they had wondering over how best to impress the beautiful prince with the purple eyes. “Go on,” she encouraged, before she would step into the steamy room.

Hopefully, Saige would be quick in taking care of those things, so she could also get cleansed.

She would let Saige leave, though, before undressing. She would go towards the water. It was hot – far hotter than she expected it to be, and she flinched when she stuck her toe into the large tub. She took a breath though, and reminded herself of the Dornish sun, before she tried to submerse herself into the warmth.

It certainly brought color back to her skin.

‘This is…a bit too hot….’ She would have to work with them next time to make her preferences known.

The ‘too hot’ thought didn’t last once she had been in it for a few moments. In fact, the water became wonderfully relaxing, and she set about cleansing herself with the soaps and oils provided, pleased with the hints of citrus in the air. Hopefully Rhaegar would not be opposed to such a scent. It made her think of home; citrus was always plentiful there, and she wondered if there would be some at the feast then. ‘Oh, don’t think of food!’ She chided herself.

She was actually able to get clean on her own, and was grateful for the bench along the interior of the tub that let her sit comfortably in the water. If she had strolled out deeper, she was almost certain it would go above her head. She didn’t want to test that, lest she slip and not be able to come back up.

It was only after she had finished, and drew herself out of the warm depths, that she realized she had forgotten a robe, or even a towel, and she had a panic at the thought of having to get back into her dress and walk back to her room. Getting into a dress while wet was not the easiest thing in the world. ‘Miracle, Saige?’ She didn’t count on it, headed for her dress with her cheeks now flush with embarrassment and the heat. Hopefully none would see her on her hasty trek back to her room. '...where is the room?' Okay, perhaps she really did need Saige to come back, she hadn't been paying nearly enough attention to know how to get back to the room from here.

'Saaaaige!' Her mind whined as her hands picked up the dress to try and struggle back into it on her own.


Well, Aemilia wasn’t going to get out of singing, was she? If she didn’t enjoy it so much, it might be a problem, but she did. Rhaella offered her permission, and Rhaegar lit up, so Aemilia had to agree. She inclined her head a bit to both, “I will join you in the song then, Prince Rhaegar, whenever you wish.” It was really a horribly unguarded secret. She should work on it…but no.

Rhaella now had her child, and would now go to prepare him. Rhaegar agreed, “Of course,” he gave a little grin to Viserys, “You have to look like a dragon, Viserys. Dragons don’t wear rags,” always tell him such things and he’d be easier. Maybe it would help his mother with him. He could only hope. “I’ll see you all at the feast,” he said, before he would turn out of the hallway, on towards his own chambers.

He had already washed up earlier, to be prepared to meet Elia. Now he just had to change his attire to something more formal for the feast.

Aemilia had intended to follow Rhaella to the room, but was told she would not be needed. ‘Ah.’ She inclined her head in response, “Of course, your grace. Should you need me before, I will either be in my chambers, or at the baths.” Getting prepared in one room or the next. At least her own chambers were near the Queen’s.

She would at least follow her back, but turn into her own room rather than Rhaella’s, let the Queen prepare the prince on her own. She spoke to a servant she caught in the halls to request a bath be drawn for herself, and then started to go through the various gowns she had, trying to determine exactly how make her impression. ‘You’re overthinking….’ Yes. But she had to be on Tywin’s good side. ‘Then don’t imitate Ellyn.;

She did not listen to that thought. At least she was sane enough not to wear red or silver, but she drew out one of her favorite green dresses instead, thinking of Viserys’s comment. Annoying, yes, but the child had a point. The dress she found was not of Western styles, but the Reach, a fashion she found acceptable enough as it wasn’t quite as scandalous as Dorne, but still offered lovely deep cuts, and skirts that flared nicely when twirled, seemed like wildfire with the hues of greens and translucent fabrics that would seem to shift with each step, giving it the illusion that it was alive.

If she was going to make an impression to the house of Fire and Blood, and Tywin Lannister at once, this seemed the best route. She’d add bits of silver jewelry, since the tips of wildfire were often white, to play it up.

A knock came to her door as she got the matter sorted, and she was informed of the prepared bath. She was out the door quickly to go to it, snatching up a robe – she wasn’t dressing in her own dress again after bathing, too much work.

Fortunately, there was more than one bath room in the Red Keep, though the water was just as hot, and the tub just as deep, as the one that Elia found herself before. It wasn’t the heat that bothered Aemilia when she entered the room. It was the tub itself, a large, square thing, that seemed built into the floor. Hardly like the mobile tub back at her home, or like the stone ones she’d found at inns.

She was almost certain that if she stepped into it, it would rise up to her neck. ‘…Fuck me.’ She may have to make a request for a…not so deep tub. Needless to say, she never submerged herself in it. She sat upon the edge, and did her best to cleanse herself and her hair without ever fully submerging herself in it. She didn’t bother to consider what scents to the soaps or oils at that time, barely even noticed them over the heat and her own heart beating against her throat.

She didn’t linger longer than necessary, and was quick to get into her robe and back to her room. She would brush out her hair and let it dry a bit, dress herself in the meanwhile and find some of her silver things that would go with the dress - and one necklace to rest nicely in the v-cut of the dress, a peridot gem resting as a tear.

Once she was put together, some of her red hair pulled into a braided crown, she would exit her room to go to Rhaella's, knocking upon the door, "My Queen, I've finished with myself," meaning she was ready to go, or ready to assist her, if it was necessary.


nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
Once Saige left her sister, she hurried her tasks along. She knew that her sister could bathe herself, but Saige worried for her sister anyway. What if she slipped? Broke a fragile bone? What if she drowned? And there was the possibility of someone walking in on her sister. Saige felt bad about leaving Elia, suddenly realizing that her big sister couldn’t take care of herself.

Or at least, she couldn’t in Saige’s eyes.

Saige knew which of Elia’s dresses when she spoke of a style. It was a pretty berry colored dress. And Saige hadn’t told her sister, but it had slit up the leg, stopping a little above the knee. To show some skin. It wasn’t too terribly bold in color, so Saige hoped her sister would feel comfortable wearing it. And it would go well enough with the necklace she’d lent her. It was willowy, but Saige could pull it in at the waist easy enough. Saige figured she’d bring it with her so she could help her sister dress if she needed it and send her on her way, instead of having her wait until Saige was done bathing.

Saige picked her own dress as well. She picked a simple one. Or at least, simple to her. Her dress was black, rather bland for her. But where it lacked in color…it also lacked in fabric. There was barely anything to cover her chest and what would cover her chest was held to the Georgette skirt only by a central ‘v’ shaped piece of fabric. And of course, a modest slit in the dress. Stopped slightly above the middle of her thigh. Saige would of course pair the dress with her signature snake cuff.

Thinking about it, it was not at all modest by these northern standards. But Saige cared little. The women here were all too prude.

Saige quickly moved to return to her sister, but remembered that she hadn’t grabbed a robe. Or a towel. Did her sister have any? Luckily, Saige ran into the same woman as before. “Excuse me, is there any towels in the bath room?” By the way the other woman’s eyes widened, she knew what the answer was. The woman began to apologize profusely, but went to get some. Once she returned, Saige was on her way again.

She arrived just in time, it seemed. “Knock, knock! I have your dress and towels! Dry yourself and get your dress on as best you can.” She spoke as she entered the room, placing both of their folded outfits on a bench in the corner. She moved to hand her sister a towel before taking her own to the second bath in the room. There were a total of three. “Why are they so large?” Not that she was complaining. She set her towel down and stripped herself of what little dress she wore. She submerged herself, surprised by the depth of it. It nearly swallowed her and she was taller than most men.

The water was hot, still. And Saige wondered how hot it had been before. But she wasted no time in diving into washing herself with soap and oils. It was relaxing, despite how little time she spent in the bath. She spent only the amount of time it took her to cleanse herself and no longer.


Rhaegar’s comment about looking like a dragon truly helped Viserys from being as fussy as he usually was. And Rhaella was incredibly grateful. She’d thank her oldest for it later. If she even had the chance, that was. She’d have to use that line more in the future. As looking like a dragon didn’t necessarily tie into actual dragons…sure. That’s what she convinced herself.

She just hoped it wouldn’t go to Viserys’s head. Hoped he wouldn’t wander into any burning fires because of it.

Viserys insisted he’d dress in black and red, though. And he fussed when she tried to put him in blue. And so she caved, dressing her son in black pants and a black shirt, embroidered with red swirls and a red silken collar. He’d also insisted on wearing a pin of his, one that had been gifted to him for his birth. It had been too big when he was a baby and still was a little large. It was more for when he was older, as it had when Rhaegar was gifted one as well.

It was his favorite pin, of the Targaryen’s three-headed sigil. The dragon silver instead of red with a ring of rubies around it. And when Rhaella had presented him in front of a mirror, Viserys held his head high, obviously pleased with himself.

Following him being dressed, he followed his mom to her room, where she set him up to play while she dressed herself as much as she could on her own. Viserys sat behind a dressing screen as Rhaella managed to get her underskirts on over her garments, and even managed to loosen the laces of her stiff corset enough to fit it over her head and around her body. It just needed to be tightened.

Her dress would be a charcoal color with her deep red underskirts peering through ever so slightly. Rhaella dressed rather modestly, most of the time, but this dress exposed her shoulders just a bit, but with long, flared sleeves. If she showed any more skin, she’d run the risk of Aerys calling her a whore. He was paranoid she was trying to sleep with other men. Or that she already was. But of course, she would never. Out of fear.

So her fashion was restricted, even as she longed to wear more exciting clothes.

Aemilia knocked right on time and Rhaella held the corset to herself as she moved to answer the door. She pulled it open enough to greet Aemilia with a small, but warm smile. “Lady Hetherspoon, perfect timing.” Rhaella’s violet orbs roamed over the woman and her dress. Aemilia was already stunning, but the color and style of the dress highlighted her beauty even more. “You look stunning, my Lady. Please, come on. I need your assistance briefly, and then I’ll be finished.” She only needed the corset tied and the heavy top layer shrugged on.
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Laudandum puellam, ornandum, tollendum.
Miracles indeed. Elia looked to Saige as she came in, before she could even get the dress on, with a smile painting her lips and the relief dripping from her. She accepted the towel gratefully and dried herself off immediately, messing up her hair quite a bit in the process, but that would be handled soon enough. At Saige’s query on the largeness of the tub, Elia shrugged, “I don’t know, but it’s nice,” she enjoyed it, anyway, “There’s a bench along the wall of the tub, too.”

Did Saige seem to listen? No, she didn’t. She immediately submerged herself – Elia could hear the sound of the water as it came together again, and she saw Saige’s head vanish. Not that she saw it when it returned, the lip of the tub was too high for that.

Once she’d dried herself as completely as she could, she began to dress herself in the berry gown that Saige must have been considering when she spoke of what she ought to wear. The slit up the side was not forgotten , and Saige knew she had darkened with the flush as she adjusted it a bit once on, as if she could hide that slit. She was worried about how immodest it might be considered here, especially with that low back. ‘Perhaps just leave my hair down more….’ To help obscure that idea.

Was hair down here also improper, though? It seemed so many women had their hair styled up, that she wondered. ‘Not Oberyn’s friend.’ Oberyn’s friends were rarely the norm, she shouldn’t use the red-headed woman as an example. What was her name again? ‘Ami….’ That’s what she knew her as, but that wasn’t her name. ‘Spoon….’ Oh dear.

No matter – the dress did look good on her, she knew without need of a mirror, and the pendant seemed to fit it nicely. There was no help needed from Saige, though her sister didn’t seem to be spending much time in the tub anyway. It was almost as soon as Elia had slipped back into her shoes, that Saige seemed to be climbing out of the tub.

Rather than hurry along back to the room to see about getting her hair straightened and unknotted, she decided to wait for her sister instead. In case she needed any help getting into her own dress, although she doubted it would be required. “They’re nice though, aren’t they?” She continued on a bit, about the tubs. “I imagine Oberyn is going to start wishing we had these at home,” she chuckled, before she paused.
It was strange then, but it hit her.

Dorne was no longer going to be her home. This was going to be her home. It wasn’t a terrible thought, but right then, it did make her horribly homesick, a wave of emotion that she hadn’t felt the entire trip here. Her expression faltered, though she tried to shake it off, to be happy…optimistic. Saige was doomed here, too, wasn’t she? “Hurry, I want to see your dress!” She insisted, though her voice was clearly distracted.


Aemilia was greeted quickly and could see that things were mostly prepared. Little Viserys was dressed in black, rather like his mother, both with hints of red showing. They bore the colors of their house with pride, while Aemilia could not. In spite of that, her cheeks still tinted under the compliment from Rhaella, wholly unexpected as it was. "Thank you, your grace," the smile warmed, and she stepped in, certain to close the door before she would go to tighten the corset.

She didn't have many now, but knew how to tighten them. The cons of being a bastard, and then an only daughter - she wore clothes that required no help.

"Let me know if it is ever too tight." She encouraged, but no such complaint came. Rhaella braced herself, but that was all. The dress was well fitted to the woman, and the laces gorgeous in the back, strung up like a gift any sane man would want to unwrap. She was quite pleased with her work, in truth. Pyke would be - considering he taught her much of what she knew about lacing and ropes. Pity she couldn't show this off to him.

She smoothed the fabric down and then moved to assist with the top layer, all while Viserys was distracted by his pin. It wasn't until Rhaella was dressed and ready that he seemed to notice Aemilia had even shown up. "Is it time to go now? I'm hungry," he whined.

"Yes, my love." Rhaella smiled gently down at him, and he picked his way up, coming to her as if he expected to be carried again. "You will have to walk now," she told him, speaking gently as it looked like he may fuss.

Indeed he did. "But I am hungry!" As if such were enough reason for why he shouldn't walk, "and it's so far!"

"Your father would not be happy to see you carried in," that was the main reason for such restraint. "You do not want to displeased him, do you?"

He huffed. "I don't care."

Aemilia had quickly caught on about his love of dragons. Rhaella may be reluctant to humor it, but she wasn't. "My prince," she brought herself to a knee before him. She hated such an action, but for the sake of peace, and her queen unharmed... for a child..., "If you will walk, I will tell you of the ice dragons beyond the wall on the way there."

He furrowed his brows. "Ice dragons?"

"Mm. There are many kinds. Water dragons, even, that fight with the great krakens, and ice dragons that hunt dire wolves." Well she assumed they did. There weren't many stories, but she could use what she heard. "There are many wonders to the world, my prince, and I've seen some."

His eyes were wide before he looked to Rhaella. "We need more bastards here." He declared then, thinking of bastard Saige and her stories, and now Aemilia. It must be normal for them.

Aemilia could only laugh a bit, then, "Do we have a deal?"


nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
Saige was drying herself off as Elia commented on how nice the tubs were. That Oberyn would want them in Dorne. Yes, the tubs were nice. She knew her brother would appreciate such things and Saige herself couldn’t wait until she had the opportunity to actually soak in the tub. She could float in the silly thing.

Saige noticed her sister’s voice become distant, but Saige didn’t question it right at that moment. Instead she did as her sister wished and hurried to put her dress on.

Something that should comfort Elia was the fact that if her dress was thought to be inappropriate, it would largely be overshadowed by how much more modesty Saige’s dress lacked. Saige had no trouble getting the dress on. There wasn’t much fabric to get lost in. Saige knew the dress would earn her a lot of attention, especially here. Good and bad. And admittedly, Saige liked the attention. Particularly the good, which often came from men.

Though she knew men couldn’t and wouldn’t be her priority.

“There. Not much to see.” Saige went about grabbing their dirty dresses and towels to have them taken care of later. “Come, I still have a lot of work to do on you.” Saige reached out to touch Elia’s tangled hair before letting her hand drop to grab her sister’s, pulling her along. It wasn’t until they’d returned to their rooms and Saige had pushed powder into her sister’s hands with instructions to put it on her face, did she ask about what was bothering her older sister. “What’s bothering you?” She asked as she got to work on untangling and straightening out Elia’s hair. “Is it about Prince Rhaegar?”

Of course Saige was going to ask about it. Elia gently shook her head, apologizing when Saige hissed at her for doing so. “No. It’s…I miss home already. And who knows when I’ll get to go back. To see Mother and Father. Doran and Oberyn.”

“Oberyn hasn’t even left yet, silly.” Saige chuckled, but she too missed Dorne already. “Maybe once you’re married to Rhaegar you can convince him to visit Sunspear. Before you start having his babies and all your wifely duties.” Saige teased with a smile. “I want to visit home, too. So if that means I have to steal you away in the middle of the night, so be it.” Saige offered to comfort her sister.

Saige set aside the comb once she finished untangling Elia’s hair. She’d let it be to dry, instead taking control of the cosmetics on her sister’s face. She lightly applied the finished touches of blush to give Elia’s skin some color. She followed it by painting her sister’s lips a sheer pink color. “There. All pretty and colorful. If Rhaegar didn’t fall in love with you the moment he laid eyes on you, he’s most certainly going to now.”


Rhaella often grew frustrated with Viserys. He was all too stubborn and fussy. She’d gotten it easy with Rhaegar, she’d come to realize. Viserys was hard to please, but dragons really did make things easy. So as much as she wished for her son to get over them, she’d let Aemilia, and apparently Elia’s sister, tell Viserys tails. The price of it was nothing compared to what Aerys could do.

The Queen only smiled once Aemilia laughed when Viserys decided they needed more bastards, believing that to be the key to dragons.

Viserys looked to Aemilia, “Deal!” Viserys declared, but he also decided he wanted to grab the redhead’s hand while she told him stories. He didn’t ask if she or his mother were ready, just began to pull her out of his mother’s room.

“Viserys,” Rhaella scolded ever so gently. “You didn’t ask Lady Aemilia if she wanted to hold your hand.” She didn’t want her son to develop such tendencies as his father. That was potentially Rhaella’s greatest fear, that either one of her sons became so cruel, especially to women. She’d experienced the horrors of it. And that was one of the few fears she had for Rhaegar as he goes into his new marriage.

She knew Rhaegar to be kind. Kinder than Aerys had been. But people could change.

“But I’m the prince! She should be honored to hold my hand!” Viserys complained as he continued to usher Aemilia along, stomping his feet the whole way.

“Be kind or Aemilia won’t be telling you any stories,” Rhaella warned.

Viserys groaned. Why did everyone want him to be so kind to bastards in exchange for stories? He supposed this time he’d get what he wanted, though. “Sorry, Lady Aemila.” He didn’t need to hold her hand anyway.

Rhaella closed the door to her chambers behind her before following after her son. She would let the two lead. Or rather, let Viserys lead Aemilia while she followed from behind. She’d apologize for her son’s behavior later, when she could speak to Aemilia in private. But it gave Aemilia a taste of what was going to be her life here. Rhaella supposed she wouldn’t consider it too late for Aemilia to quit if she so desired.

She wondered who was at the feast already. If Aerys or Tywin were already. Tywin was always punctual, whereas Aerys wasn’t necessarily.

But when they arrived it seemed to only be servants filing in and then filing out as they finished setting up the throne room. All the tables had been placed and set with the designated table cloths and plates. Most of them were already stocked with food and lots of wine, waiting to be consumed.


Laudandum puellam, ornandum, tollendum.
Elia felt as if she’d barely finished applying the powder she was given, before blush was added to her skin, and then her lips were painted, a shimmering pink. She saw it reflected in the mirror and smiled, flushing under Saige’s words of Rhaegar falling in love with her then, for how much prettier she could look with make-up.

Her sister was stunning in little.

Little make-up.

Little dress.

She was lucky to have her health. “Thank you,” she smiled up at her and rose to her feet, before she slipped into her shoes – flats, a bit strappy, but flats all the same, and dark. They shouldn’t draw attention, though they really weren’t meant to. “Are you not going to do anything yourself?” She asked, canting her head a bit, “A black dress, and no cosmetics?” A teasing smile, “You should have a bit of color, too.”

She doubted she would do much more with her hair, but the cosmetics were out, it shouldn’t take too long. “There’s a red that would look good on your lips….” She couldn’t imagine doing much so far as colors elsewhere, not around the eyes, nor really a blush – that wasn’t needed for her. Of course, the red would stand out far more than the sheer pink, no matter how dark her own skin tone was, or her lips, red always stood out.

Like Oberyn’s friend and her hair.

Like the Lannister colors. The Targaryen colors. Red seemed to be in style here in King’s Landing.

There was a knock on the door, rapid, but familiar. “Elia? Saige?”

“What did I tell—”

Elia moved quickly to the door and opened it to see Oberyn there, dressed in his finest yellow clothes, and a guard approaching, looking quite annoyed, while another leaned against the wall, looking wholly amused.

He actually looked a bit familiar as he bit into an apple and observed with mischief glinting in his dark eyes. “I told you, that’s Prince Martell. Isn’t it, Princess?”

“Yes…is something the matter?” She looked to the guard, who flushed multiple shades of crimson in his anger. He didn’t answer, just scowled and pushed away as Oberyn turned to the guard.

“Thank you, Ser Pyke,” he gave an extravagant bow to the man, who just smirked and pushed away from the wall. “Going to tell me how you so swiftly became a Gold Cloak yet?”

“I told you – I asked Selmy.” Maybe it wasn’t exactly that simple, but the point was, he was a Gold Cloak, and Aemilia was going to be livid. And happy. But first, livid.

“Come on, bastard,” the guard grumbled, “We still have to get you accustomed to your duties and the fucking chain of command.” And with that, Pyke turned to follow after the grump.

Oberyn let his attention shift back to his two sisters then, whistling as he took them in, “Elia, you look gorgeous. Marvelous. Saige, did you do this?” He expected as much, as he put a hand around her waist to let himself in for a moment. “And Saige!” He laughed, “You should have told me you were going to scandalize the court – I would have worn less.”


Aemilia was slowly keeping the cues in mind. Viserys should learn to be gentler. Kinder. She would have allowed this – for he was a child. She didn’t even think of his status as a prince, he was only an excitable child, but she should keep the Queen’s wishes in mind, and enforce the rules. Make sure he knew he would get no stories if he wasn’t kind. Make sure he asked to take her hand. Simple things, that were too often overlooked.

She gave Rhaella a smile, before glancing back down to Viserys. She didn’t let go of his hand, “You’re forgiven, my prince. We can walk together, and I will be honored to hold your hand on the way to the Red Keep,” she said, and so off they went, and Aemilia did begin to tell the story she knew. “When I was sailing upon the Shivering Sea, I learned of the ice dragons.”

“Did you see one?”

“No – I’d be dead if I did,” she told him, “but better men than me claimed that they had seen them, and said their blue eyes glowed, and could be seen for miles, even in fog.”


“The constellation is as large as them, they say – a real ice dragon put in the sky by the gods.”


“A collection of stars in the sky, only these stars outline the body of the dragon,” Aemilia answered, “If you ask me nicely later, I will show it to you,” she was familiar with them, too long at sea. “Hopefully, it will not see us.” She teased as they walked out, and she glanced up at the sky, still too bright. “That isn’t the only one, though. There was an ice dragon in the North, and a girl named Adara had tamed it.”

“Was she a Targaryen?”

“No, she wasn’t – but she rode a dragon, and she did defend it from enemies that wielded fire, but she did not win,” she was careful not to say fire dragons, just in case the prince would take offense to them being written as villains.

“No winners?”

“No,” Aemilia smiled forlornly, as Viserys seemed quite interested in it all as they paced into the Red Keep, “Adara survived, they say, and the ice dragon protected her home from those fiery raiders, melted, and became the Weeping Waters river. The dragon was just as long,” not quite, but a little embellishment never hurt. The dragon melted into a pond, perhaps a reflection pool in truth, but Viserys clearly liked the idea of giant ice dragons becoming long rivers. “There aren’t any more dragons in the North, except beyond the Wall, or so they say. They haven’t been seen for centuries….”

“I want to go beyond the Wall!” He said immediately, “Have you been?”

“No, I haven’t,” she shook her head, and shifted the subject, imagining that was where she had to cut it – at the potential of Viserys’s dreams going too far into reality. Plans to go to the Wall. “I will have to tell you more the next time, my prince, and I will show you the constellation, but I believe that now you must go to your mother and prepare for the feast with the Dornish.”

He let out a loud groan, “But they’re so boring! I hate feasts,” he whined, as Aemilia released his hand, and pulled hers away, “You’ll be near, won’t you? She’s sitting near, right? Or Bast—Lady Saige?” Not Bastard Saige. Lady Saige. Even though she wasn't a Lady. Calling her Lady got him stories. He'd call anyone Lady if it got him stories.
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