Summary: Set in the future where Arya and Gendry have never met. Daenarys takes King's Landing and is intent to have peace. Stannis, still leading an impressive force, agrees to a compromise to put the war to an end. A union between the legitimized Baratheon and the last Stark is the last resort. But is peace even possible after all the horrors of the war? Can two people forcibly bound fall in love. Is it ever really possible to go home again?
An Inconvenient Proposal
He stood in awe like the others. Dragons. He'd heard the talk, who hadn't? They said dragons were alive once more, but far away, over the sea. He'd even been in Harrenhall; the burned stone proof of their fire, their might. Green, black, and red, beautiful things. One burned a bird flying nearby, a medium stream enough to char it. He couldn't help but imagine a perfect sword, forged from its fire.
They all marched forward, King Stannis, Ser Davos, and Gendry, who was actually surprised his uncle Stannis had asked him to come, and a few other close guards. Ser Davos must have suggested his coming for some show of house unity, or political trick, but he didn't care. He knew what people saw when they looked at him, what they always said. He could be his father's twin, with his black hair and blue eyes, tall build and strong frame. He'd never even met the King, but he was sure he would have been disappointed.
He was anxious to see her with his own eyes, the Dragon Queen, the Targaryan Usurper, or Kalesi, he wasn't sure about that one, but they were all common names around the men back at camp. His Uncle Stannis had been fighting for the throne for quite some time, and now it would all be taken away, by this blonde queen with dragons who had managed to take back King's Landing whereas Stannis' forces couldn't even breach the wall. They said her people were all freed slaves who chose to fight for her, that she brought peace. Gendry was sick of war.
The palace was exactly how he remembered it from the outside, looming and unreal from his place in Flea Bottom. They let them keep their weapons, and guided them to Her. He looked to Ser Davos to see what was expected of him, and the man gave him an encouraging nod. Thankfully Melisandre did not come, The Queen expressly forbid her attendance in this parlay, she apparently didn't trust magic users. He already likes her for that.
On the Iron Throne she sat. She was beautiful, but more than that, truly regal, Queenly. She was small, tan, hair blonde but she drew everyone's attention, sitting on the throne like she was born to it. To see such sights in his time, the wonders and the bad bits the same, what a life. He was meant to work and die in the armory, but here he was.
Stannis stood in front, ready to speak with the Dragon Queen, he did not kneel.
"Welcome, Lord Stannis, you and your companions are most welcome in my home." The Queen announces, gesturing them closer.
"Your home... that throne is mine, it belongs to me."
The Knight immediately pulls out his sword, but the Queen gestures to him and he backs down.
"Is it? Oh, I see. Because it was your brother's. Well he took it from my blood."
"The Mad King left us no choice."
"Perhaps not. He was mad, and a destructive force to the kingdom. And my brother was vain and selfish. I don't have to condone the actions of my ancestors in order to be proud of my name. It is my right and my duty to take back these Kingdoms. And you Baratheon, brave family of Westeros, you can learn to compromise or leave with nothing at all."
"King's don't compromise." Though Gendry could tell he was considering her words.
"Your brother tried to have me and my unborn child killed. Did you know that? He meant to wipe us all out. Shall I do the same to your house, your name? One of the greatest families in Westeros, destroyed here, today." Her voice had gotten steadily louder until she was shouting, never losing her composure.
Things tended to escalate quickly, he knew. He made to stand closer to his uncle, hand on the hilt of his sword, not drawing it.
A man must pick a side, that's what he'd always believed.
"Boy." Stannis orders in reproach, though he looks pleased. He takes his hand away. The Queen stands and her face takes on a softer hue.
"I did not wish to begin this way. And I do not wish to hurt any of you. I have what I want, I don't need revenge, and no more families need be destroyed."
"I have thousands of men outside the gates. If you harm me or my men they will attack. Are you so confident against so many men?"
"No, we would win. But a few might die, and many many of yours surely will. Is that what you want?"
Gendry was so tired all of a sudden. More fighting.
He is speechless after this.
"Think on my words, I am open to some negotiation. Camp life can be trying, come refresh yourselves and then come meet us for dinner later." A hot bath, a delicious meal.
"Yes, thank you, Your Grace." Ser Davos agrees.
Gendry bows his head in reverence.
They are escorted to quarters in order to make themselves presentable and collect themselves. He is given his own room with a hot bath, soap, a razor, and a fresh set of clothes. Apparently, he's meant to come to the feast tonight.
A girl comes to bring Gendry to a large ornate dining hall, and shows him to his seat. At the head of the table is Daenarys, dressed all in gold. To her right is Tyrion Lannister, and on her left is Stannis. Next to him is Ser Davos, then Gendry. The seat on his other side is empty, but one space over is the Imp.
They pour wine, or in Gendry's case water, and herb encrusted bread is set on plates. He has to sit on his hands to stop himself from grabbing a piece with his bare fingers, and wonders if anyone would notice him taking a bite. The Queen seems to be waiting for something.
A young girl rushes through the entrance, she makes eye contact with the Queen and mouths 'sorry', which receives an eye roll from Her Majesty. She isn't as delicate as the Queen, or as colorful, in a fitted simple tunic and trousers the colors of the forest. They suit her, and don't lessen her effect in the slightest. She has pale skin and a few faint freckles on her nose and cheeks, brown hair in a simple braid down one shoulder, and steel grey eyes. She sits herself between Gendry and Tyrion.
The Queen makes a toast. "To a new era of peace." Everyone raises their glasses.
Before anyone can take a drink, Stannis makes another toast.
"May the Lord of Light protect us, guide us, and light the way."
Only Stannis, Gendry, and Ser Davos intone "In his name", in response, and the latter only half-heartedly.
The Knight comes from his place against the wall and takes the Queen's cup to sip it first, pausing a second, before handing it back to her. She takes a dainty but substantial drink. Tyrion drinks all of his. The Knight seems to be having water, and the dark haired girl next to him only pretends to drink, but he notices the liquid never goes past her lips. He keeps glancing over to inspect her. She catches him and looks right back, an intensity in her perusal that makes him uncomfortable. He drops his gaze to his plate, but he can see her smirking out of the corner of his eye. He decides she is beautiful, in her way.
They all begin eating, and servants bring delicious dishes to heap on each plate.
The first course is a salad with leafy greens, red fruits, spicy peppers, and candied nuts with a vinegar sauce. He selects a random fork out of the dozen or so and starts spearing the vegetables, some of the nuts start shooting around the plate in protest to the tines. He feels a violent bump on his shoulder and looks over. The girl holds up a little spoon to use with the fork, he picks up his own and tries again. It works after a few tries. He turns again to thank her, but she is distracted talking to Tyrion.
The next course is boar braised in wine, and a creamy broth soup for dipping. He has to stop himself from drinking the broth down and making a fool of himself, so he settles with dipping the bread in it. He then helps Ser Davos cut his meat, a difficult task without all your finger bones. He feels eyes on him, only to see Tyrion looking at him interestedly.
"So, however did you take King's Landing? The dragons alone wouldn't do it, your ancestors spelled the walls against fire." Stannis always did lack tact.
"Thanks to my good friends, it was quite easy to sneak in. The back way." She motions to her right whereby Tyrion nodded in response, and the girl gives a small but genuine smile. Stannis looks bewildered, he stares for more than a minute at the slight brunette.
"Please introduce me to your friends. I recognize the Imp, of course. A Lannister." He almost growls.
"Why do I so often get that reaction? Well it's lovely to see you again as well, Lord Stannis, always so complimentary. How long has it been, since the Battle of Blackwater I believe? Do you recall?" Stannis sneers at the Half Man.
"And I'm sure you must know Ser Berristan Selmy? A true knight." Daenarys interjects.
The Knight puts his hand to his chest and nods, calling Stannis My Lord.
"Yes, you served my brother did you not?" Stannis asks.
"I did. But before that, I served the Targaryans, and always will." He responds.
The dark haired girl to Gendry's left watches everything in silence, keen eyes taking in everyone, even flicking back to himself from time to time.
"Ser Davos Seaworth, Hand to King Stannis."
"And my brother's bastard. Gendry." Gendry is shocked to find himself singled out by Stannis; he's barely acknowledged him before. They're all looking at him now, even those steel grey eyes.
"Huh." Tyrion makes a noise deep in his throat. "Yes, I can see that now. Spitting image of Renly. I had no idea he had it in him." Many smile at the joke.
He continues. "Gendry, you said it was?" He looks up at him with patient appraisal.
"Ser Gendry. And, I… Yes, Robert Baratheon was my father." He corrects, feeling pride he didn't know he possessed.
"He had them all over The Seven Kingdoms. But Joffrey, that monster child, ordered them all executed. How are you alive?"
"He's the last."
Tyrion was still looking at Gendry expectantly.
"I travelled with The Night's Watch out of the city, My Lord. I meant to take the black, but…" He doesn't know what else to say. His skin is hot, he's sure he must be red, and he knows they are all scrutinizing him.
The dark haired girl speaks up next.
"And you do not know me, Lord Stannis?" Stannis seems confused.
"Do we know each other?"
"We have never met. Though I would know you from your brother. Would you not know me from my father?" His brow furrows further.
"Your father. You're the Stark Girl." He looks bewildered. "We all thought you dead."
"Not yet, My Lord. I find I still have cause to live."
She is about to say something further but the Queen gives her a stern look. She swallows and tamps down what she was about to say.
"As do we all." The Queen agrees. "So let us settle this. You have fought the Lannister threat well and deserve consideration."
"I deserve the throne." The girl, Lady Arya Stark, rolls her eyes. Stark.
"Well, you shall not have it. You may have a seat on the small council if you wish." She placates.
"No. No. I can't, I can't leave with nothing. You don't understand."
"It's not nothing. A seat on the council, a voice in public policy, an honorable title. It really is a great deal. I would take it if I were you." Tyrion comments as he takes another gulp of his wine, keen mismatched eyes never leaving Stannis.
"You're not me. I have honor. I don't have brothers and sisters who fuck. I didn't kill my own father in the privy."
"Pride you mean. I have both, as a matter of fact. And while I did kill my father, I daresay he deserved it. And I don't think I should be held accountable for what my siblings did. I wouldn't throw stones were I you Stannis, we've all heard the stories about your brother's untimely demise." Gendry looks over at Stannis for some kind of clue to what that means, Stannis just swallows and continues on.
"What about Dragonstone?"
"It is mine, however, you may keep Storm's End."
"And the North. It's so empty and cold; surely you with fire in your blood have no need for such a savage place. We could divide it, or…"
Arya stabs her knife violently into the table, skids her chair away from the edge and stands.
"You will never have the North. If you try I will kill you myself." The controlled rage next to him has him clutch the sides of his chair tightly.
"I meant no offense, Lady. I loved your father, he was loyal to my brother, and he supported my claim."
"Yes, he did. And it's what got him killed. I support Daenarys as ruler in the South. But only the Starks may rule in the North."
"But there are no more Starks, only yourself. No woman can expect to rule by herself."
Ser Davos coughs pointedly.
"You think you can be king in the North? Queen Daenarys painted a heroic picture of your battles, but everyone knows you lost more than won. The Northerners will never accept you, not up there." Ser Berristan remarks.
"And a lone girl, even a fierce wolf girl, will not find it so easy to hold such wild territory either." He counters.
The Queen looks thoughtful.
"Danaerys, you're not actually considering this, are you? You promised." The girl looks worried, and its clear how very high the stakes are to her, life or death.
"I did. And I intend to keep that promise. But he has a point Arya. The North has grown even wilder in the past years without a firm hand to keep it in check. That is quite the task for any one person, man or woman."
"I can do it, it's my right, my duty."
"And Lord Stannis, you want more territory, to better the Baratheon name, carve a wider legacy for your house." Stannis looks surprised she has put it that succinctly.
"Yes, that is all that I want. For my family."
"It's settled then. We'll join the two houses. We can have the wedding tomorrow."
"What!?" Arya screeches. The Queen looks exasperated, Tyrion amused, Stannis shocked, and Ser Davos unsurprised. Gendry himself is unsure what is even happening.
"A Baratheon will serve as Steward in the North, and Arya will be… as a Lord. I'll write-up a contract, and all involved will sign it on the morrow."
"What!?" Squawks Stannis.
"You cannot do this, My Queen." Arya begs. And Gendry finds he also wants the Queen to reconsider. He doesn't like the thought of his uncle anywhere near this girl.
"Once upon a time, you made me a promise. Do you remember that? Do you?" Arya clenches her jaw and swallows loudly.
"Yes." She admits softly. She looks away from the Queen's gaze.
"And?" The Queen prompts. After no response she repeats. "And…"
"I agree." The words are painfully forced out her throat.
"You wish me to marry that insolent little pup? She might be fertile enough, but after one evening with her I can tell she'd make any man miserable." Stannis insists. Ser Davos sighs.
The Queen looks insulted and Arya smirks for an instant before frowning once more.
"There. See. He doesn't want me, so…"
"Actually, I was referring to your handsome, young nephew there. Ser Gendry, was it?"
"Wait, what?" Gendry can only manage that much.
"It is my wish that you marry Lady Arya and unite houses Stark and Baratheon henceforth."
Gendry looks around at the different faces, stopping only briefly on Arya who is somewhere between appalled and livid.
"But I… I'm… I'm not a Baratheon. I'm still a bastard."
"Perhaps I could legitimize you. If you prove yourself, if you obey." Stannis offers. He'd never made such an offer before, not in public, no chance to take it back. Ser Davos smiles at him in encouragement, excited in Gendry's stead.
A name. The thing he's wanted since before remembering. But at what price?
"And that's it? As far as you all are concerned, it's done? The matter in the North, settled?" Arya exclaims.
"It really is the best option Arya, surely even you see that. Else you would be throwing an even bigger tantrum now."
"I do not throw tantrums." She wines. Then looks over at Gendry, still seated. "And what about you. Don't you have anything to say? Say no, dam nit. Tell them how miserable I'll make you. Tell them being a damn lord isn't worth all the trouble." Grey eyes boring into him.
He freezes, completely unsure what to say. Any word out of his mouth could be considered offensive.
"Now Ser Gendry, you do have a choice. I certainly won't force you to do anything. Do you agree?"
"Of course he does. He will do as I say. Right?" Stannis looks expectantly at Gendry for an answer. "If you do not, there will be no surname, no land, no inheritance, nothing. Do you understand that, boy?"
The Queen scowls at Stannis, and turns a patient look back to the boy in question.
"No one here will force you, you must agree." The Queen is adamant. Arya pleads with her gaze, although for what he can't be sure.
"I… Yes, I agree." The words come out of their own accord. Most breathe sighs of relief, the Queen is pleased. And Arya storms out of the room in a huff.
"She's always doing that." And Lord Tyrion drinks the wine Lady Arya left behind in her cup.