Sorry I know it isn't as long as my other chapters but I am going away for a few days and I wanted to get this out. It isn't everything I wanted to cover in this chapter but I wanted it out early. I apologise for any mistakes caused by my rush.
As for Margaery's character. The way I understand her is that she is ambitious and the way she aims to get what she wants is by basically being what she thinks the person she is aiming for wants her to be. She has recognised that Harry appreciates honesty and forthrightness and so that is what she will be. In later chapters her cunning will take on other forms as you might expect. In saying that she is genuinely interested in Harry because his character speaks to her other side, not that of ambition but of wanting someone of the same vision and values as she. She is attracted to him not because of his position but because of his potential and his character.
Chapter 6: The Flower and the Tree
Harry spent much of the remainder of the feast in a daze after his meeting with the girl from Highgarden. He spent his time wandering the halls before eventually making it back to the feast. By the time he returned many of the guests had left but in the corner of the courtyard a ruckus could be heard. Harry looked over.
The King, the Hand and a number of the Vale lords and some other lords were grouped up slapping backs, swigging ale and laughing uproariously. Harry decided that he would avoid the group only for the King to catch sight of him.
"Peverell! Get your arse over here!" Harry bowed in acceptance and made his way to the King. One lord offered him a drink and Harry took it. They drank and made merry, telling stories and getting nostalgic, for a few more hours but as time went on Harry began to feel more and more uncomfortable. He had noticed that a middle aged man with curly red hair and purple clothes near the back of the group had been staring at him long and hard. He had been able to ignore it but was thankful when they finished up and went their separate ways. Harry followed Jon Arryn back to his solar, deciding to ask him about Margaery. When they both stepped inside they were surprised to find the King in there waiting.
"Your grace?" Arryn asked, confused at the man's presence.
"Bah Jon, relax you old goat, I just couldn't be troubled going to bed just yet and I figured you would probably be up late." The Defender of the Vale nodded and took a seat. Harry followed him in and took another. "You're here too kid?"
"Yes your grace." Harry replied. "I had something to ask Lord Arryn about."
"Sounds interesting; out with it then." Ordered the King.
"I met Margaery Tyrell today." Harry started before the King interrupted.
"That girl Renly keeps bothering me with? Bloody Tyrells, schemers the lot of 'em."
"Yes well I don't know much about them but she asked me to marry her." Both men almost fell off their seats and Jon choked on the water he had been drinking.
"M-married?" Coughed the older man.
"Yeah. She seems to see something in me, and proposed to me I guess…" Harry trailed off, rubbing his hair in embarrassment. It was a strange situation for him to be in really, and he didn't know what to do now, what he should do now.
"And?" Asked the King. Harry shrugged in reply and looked down. "You ran away didn't you?" The King then burst out laughing as Harry nodded in admission.
"So what is it you want to do?" Asked the Warden of the East. "If you accept you will need to convince her family, which will be an immense task in itself." Harry nodded in agreement. "No doubt you'll also get a fair share of negative attention from other jealous of such a match too. To hold such a minor position and catch the eye of such a family is no small thing. On the other hand you would acquire a powerful ally."
"Aw Jon stop being such a stick in the mud!" The King bellowed jovially. "You should do it Peverell! Shake things up a bit I say!"
"I think." Harry looked about nervously, he was still so unsure about the situation. "She is still too young any way, and I barely know her."
"Ha like that's stopped anyone before!" Robert leaned towards the table and poured himself a drink.
"I think that I will wait, perhaps try to know her better and then consider even attempting to win over her family."
"A wise choice, it is no small matter." The Arryn agreed.
"Alright!" The King announced then stood and downed the rest of his drink. "I'm off, make sure you don't wake me too early Jon." And with that the large man strode off. Harry was about to do the same but realised he had one other question. He was about to open his mouth when Jon spoke before he was able to.
"His name is Harland Elesham." The Lord said, answering Harry's unasked question. "I noticed the way he was acting too. You need to be careful with him, he, as well as Mandon, did not take kindly to my granting you Moore's seat."
"House Elesham, from the Paps?" Harry asked. The Paps was an island which lay off the coast of the Fingers, or more correctly right outside the bay in which Moore's Valley rested. The island acted as a breakwater, shielding the bay somewhat and making the waters of the bay vastly more calm then they may have been, given the strong winds of the windswept Fingers.
"The very same." The lord replied. "His grandmother was a Moore and so he feels that you have stolen something from him." The older lord sighed then and pinched the bridge of his nose. "He used to be a kind man, but his wife being barren and no heir has turned him into a hard man, caring greatly for how he will be remembered. You have made him seem weak and for that he is unhappy."
"I see. Do you think it will come to violence?" Harry asked, concerned for the people he was sworn to protect.
"I should think not, I told him to leave it alone. Though he believes that I have slighted him as well so might be inclined to ignore my order."
"And if he does?" Harry asked again. He didn't really know the rules for such a situation and wanted to be sure of how he should act to not cause difficulty for this man and his people.
"Then he shall have to be dealt with." Harry was slightly taken aback by the blunt statement but even more taken aback by the resoluteness behind it. Harry nodded in understanding and left the office and the Hand to his work.
Margaery came across Harry the next day just as he was finishing his meeting with a man of some colourful and exotic dress. Harry handed the man a pouch of gold then shook hands, both men seeming happy. The Lady waited till they were done and then approached as the silk laden easterner had left.
"Lord Peverell." She greeted as she sashayed over to the Vale lord. "I was told I could find you."
"Oh. Hello Margaery." Harry stumbled. "I mean Lady Margaery! Uhm sorry. How can I help you today?"
"Who was that man?" She asked, looking back at the retreating figured.
"A Myranese merchant come slave trader. I am buying some slaves from him." The Lady of the Reach gasped in shock. Harry wasn't surprised, slavery had been outlawed in Westeros for a very long time and the practice had become reprehensible to its citizens ever since. Essos had no such qualms but Harry did and at least agreed with his countrymen on this.
"But slavery, it's an awful practice, and…and illegal!" Harry smiled, happy to have put her on the back foot.
"Don't worry!" Harry grinned at her. "They will be glass workers for the valley, very expensive, but they will be given their freedom." The girl sighed in relief and looked up at him quizzically, her big brown eyes shining in the morning light.
"You will be making glass in the valley?" Harry nodded but indicated that he didn't want to speak on the matter. Instead he changed the topic.
"So, you were looking for me Lady Tyrell?"
"Yes, yes I was told that you would be leaving today. I am sad to see you leave so soon but I thought it might be nice to see you again before you go." The girl did look somewhat disappointed at his leaving but Harry couldn't help but think of the King's words last night, was she faking it? And if so what did she get from it? Harry gestured that they should walk together, through the gardens of the Red Keep.
"Yes I am travelling with Lord Redfort back to the Vale." Harry answered.
It was a bright spring day and the flowers were in full bloom. Courtiers were taking full advantage of the weather, Sers and Ladies in bright well-tailored clothing moved about chatting and laughing. The mood seemed infectious as a smile slowly grew on the Tyrell as well.
"The gardens here are beautiful, though Highgarden may certainly rival them." The girl bent to inspect some of the flowers. Harry stood to the side and watched as her soft curls slipped against her finely brocaded dress and across her bare delicate shoulder to hang loosely, shielding her face from view. Margaery absentmindedly pushed the hair back up behind her ear in a way that Harry found so endearing he had to look away. "I am sorry about yesterday."
"Sorry?" Harry asked, slightly surprised by her apology.
"I put you on the spot, I was very blunt. I did not mean to make you feel uncomfortable." Harry shook his head and stared anywhere other than at the Tyrell.
"It's okay Lady Tyrell, I should apologise for leaving so quickly, it was not proper of me." Harry smiled slightly in regret. "I must admit though, I do not understand your intentions. You're a Tyrell, you could have much better than me." Harry looked slightly embarrassed and fiddled with his clothing, cheeks reddening. The grew a deeper hue of crimson when Margaery took one of his hands and looked him straight in the eye.
"I was not lying yesterday Harry. You are a special person, one I find intriguing but at the same time I think there is something immensely important about you. I cannot explain it but I feel you have an inner drive that will change this country for the better and…I find that I find this drive attractive, it is what separates you as a singular human being." Margaery looked about and then dragged Harry along with her to a much more secluded area of the gardens. Nobody was around in the small grove but it was a very small area and Harry found himself very close to the lady.
"You are an honest and forthright person Harry, so I will be honest with you as well. I am being selfish. I am attracted to you, your character and concern for those around you are special for a lord and as a person I wish to be closer to you. However I have made this decision for my family as well, we will gain, I just knew it when I met you, when I heard about all the things you have done already. You will be something and my family will gain, I just have to convince my family of this too."
Harry nodded and thought on the girl's words. It was certainly not the most romantic of confessions but Harry did appreciate the honesty. He knew that romance and marriage was just another tool in this world and that pure attraction would never be enough. Harry gulped.
"I appreciate your honesty. But…but I cannot accept at this time." Margaery looked downcast at the rejection. "That does not mean I am saying no. I would like for us to wait until you are eighteen, that way we can work on your family and perhaps get to know each other better." The Tyrell's eyes glistened with unshed tears but a smile dressed her pretty face.
"So you might accept then?" She asked, joy lacing her tone.
"Yes Margaery." She kissed him then, not a light peck or a passionate snog, but a forceful kiss that spoke of joy and elation. She pulled away and wiped the tears from her face.
"I will talk with my parents and will write to you as much as I am able. Perhaps I would be able to visit some time?"
"I would like that Margaery, but for now we should probably head back, your hand maidens are probably looking for you by now." Harry moved out of the grove and the lady took his arm in hers briefly.
"I am happy." She said with finality before rushing off out of the grove, but before she disappeared from sight she twirled on the spot, her curls fluttering about, and flashed him the largest smile he thought he had ever seen on a person.
Harry left the next day to travel to Redfort and see the library there. The journey was far easier than the first time Harry had travelled to King's Landing, though he still had not got the hang of riding and Horton Redfort took some delight in Harry's discomfort, Cid really wasn't much help either. They took the Kingsroad until just past Darry and the Trident and then the Highroad, turning off before the bloody gate. The road to Redfort wound through the narrow passages of the mountainous Vale, in the dead of winter Harry guessed the place would be completely isolated.
The Redfort was a round structure which encompassed the whole of a pillar mountain that descended into a river valley far below. The fort was a round structure made of the reddish orange limestone which seemed to make up the coast of the Vale. The limestone of the Vale is likely what has given it its unique coastline and passageways. It was also what Harry planned to use to make glass in the Valley.
The drawbridge lowered as their party approached and they were met in the courtyard by a group of teen red headed males. They all bowed and Horton embraced each one at a time.
"Lord Harry these are my boys. Jasper, Creighton, Jon and Mychel." On closer inspection each boy looked quite different. The eldest, Jasper, looked most like his father while the others seem to have inherited various aspects of his appearance, but they all had his flame red hair. If Harry was to guess he would suspect that the children of Horton Redfort did not all share the same mother.
"Welcome Lord Peverell." Greeted Jasper, proper as any noble heir is expected to be. Harry shook his and in greeting and then repeated the gesture with the other sons of House Redfort.
"Thank you for your greeting Sers."
"We will wash our journey from us and then eat and drink." Horton gestured at a nearby man. "Take Lord Peverell to his guest quarters." The man bowed to his lord then at Harry and then walked away, bidding Harry to follow.
The library of the Redfort carried many ancient tomes amongst its hard wood shelves. Many of them Harry could not read, the Maester advised him that this was because they were written in High Valyrian. But many more he could and they often spoke of the fairy tales Horton Redford had said they did. Tales of the Children of the Forest and the age of heroes, of gods old and new and of the undead. Harry read all these tales, Bran the Builder and the Long Night, but unlike Lord Redfort he saw them for what they were, legends no doubt, but holding a truth to them too. Dragons had existed once their evidence could be found all over the seven kingdoms, there was no reason to believe other frightful creatures once did too.
There was an enemy that terrified these people enough to build a wall beyond the size of any other structure they were capable of building, one that still stood to this day thousands of years later. Perhaps it was not the dead it was built to keep out but there was something in the north that men should fear, nobody would build that wall to keep out other men.
Heart trees were also a source of intrigue for Harry. Most southern heart trees were carved by men, but those of the northern kingdoms of the first men it was said that it was not men who carved them. It is said that it was the Children of the Forest who had carved them. Perhaps they were further proof of these tales. That is why Harry now found himself in the Redfort's godswood.
The place was a clearing amongst a wild group of evergreen bushes and trees of reds and greens. In the centre stood a weirwood tree, larger than all the others. It's smooth bark, the colour of bleached bones, stood in stark contrast with the red of its five pointed red leaves. Carved in its wood was a solemn face.
As Harry approached the tree a sudden light headedness came over him. He felt dizzy and struggled to stay standing. He felt a headache coming on, as though something was attempting to pierce his occlumency wards, he had not felt this since fighting Voldemort.
"You are strong." He heard without hearing, a whisper in his mind. "I should speak with you." Harry collapsed to one knee, his legs buckling form a lack of balance.
"Then speak and be done with it."
"Let me in." The voice said again, and perhaps against his better judgement Harry did and the world disappeared.
A fog drifted within the void, grey and bright against the nothingness. All Harry could see was himself and the fog, a mist of swirling energies and thoughts.
"You are not of this world." The voice stated. Harry looked around him but all there was to see was fog and himself.
"Who are you?" Harry asked the void.
"Greenseer they call me, but it matters not. You are not of this world." The voice repeated.
"No I am not." Harry confirmed.
"And yet, you may be that which saves it. They are stirring Harry Potter." The voice held an ominous and prophetic tone, which Harry thought odd given it was a bodiless whisper.
"They?" Harry asked and continued to search the caverns of his mind for the voices origin. Occlumency was truly an amazing tool but not a well understood one. Slowly before him a figure began to materialise from the mist. It was black and held no form, a void like everything else that was not the mist.
"Yes, They, the sleepers are waking and the world of men must be ready. You can face them where others can't but not alone. Dragons return and the Others walk again. You were brought here and with your return they walk." Harry reached out to figure.
"The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." And as he touched it an explosion of visions overcame him, a dead stag, dragons born from a grave and blue eyes staring back at him and through him.