This took so much longer than I had expected. I am so sorry to all my faithful viewers and all the new ones. I really really thought I would have this finished by the end of last month but this was being just too stubborn to comply.
I really hope you all like this new update.
Dayla was a good handmaiden, she mused to herself. She had catered to the late Princess Elia before the announcement of her impending union to Rhaegar Targaryen that ultimately led to her doom. Even before that, back when she was no more than a green babe of six-and-ten, she had first practised her duties on Princes Doran, Oberyn and Princess Elia's lady mother. Though, she did not live long enough for Dayla to fully grasp the concept what exactly a 'good handmaiden' entailed.
Many believe that a handmaiden is nothing more than a glorified maid and, while she would sneer and scoff at those who would demean her position so dishonourably, back then Dayla would have agreed with the general consensus. The first princess she had served under was nothing if not kind (indeed, in later years Dayla would come to recognise just where Princess Elia found her own gentle nature) yet there had been a steely determination that burned beneath her olive eyes; the likes of which were emphasised in Prince Doran and Prince Oberyn's sharp gazes. The princess was on good terms with the Lady Joanna Lannister - the wife of the man who destroyed whatever warm relations had coexisted between the two Great Houses.
Dayla recalled the day she was entrusted to tend to the princess and accompany her and her children to the great Rock wherein they would find a match for young Elia.
The handmaiden could recall the small stab of sympathy she felt toward the Dornish princess; she was naught but a few moons old and yet her mother and the recently deceased Joanna Lannister had already entered into a pact that bargained with her future. Dayla could tell Elia was nervous and worried but she resolved not to let her mother see her tears so she rode on, Oberyn anointing himself her silent guardian.
(Were Dayla armed with the knowledge she now possessed she would have fought the elder Dornish woman against selling her daughter's hand in marriage to the highest bidder, as thought she were little more than a shaved goat. For the marriage of Elia Martell was what tore the Kingdoms apart.)
But Dayla was not the wise woman she was. Dayla was only a couple moons older than Prince Doran; she was nothing more than a babe herself.
So she had no choice but to assist the royal Martells on their long, arduous trek to Casterly Rock. The handmaiden's mother had all but imperatively ordered Dayla to follow alongside them and chastised her for even entertaining the notion of staying behind. "It is your duty, Dayla, your duty as a handmaiden to the Princess Martell - and your duty as my daughter to alleviate our position."
Oberyn and Elia were the only ones who appeared even remotely enthused during the journey. Along the winding roads and grassy mazes, all they had heard was the same old rumour: the monster twins that killed the womb that birthed them.
Their imagination had grown wild with possibilities fuelled by the persistent stream of rumours and fear-mongering. The dwarf was believed to have a blood-red eye; claws that could maim a body so brutally with nothing but a single stroke; the privates of both a boy and a girl. While the young Martell children were lapping up this information eagerly as though they were a pair of greedy hounds, Dayla felt physically ill at the supposed 'knowledge' regarding these twins. Doran refused to believe such facts, choosing instead to come to his own conclusions when they arrived at the Rock. Their mother simply laughed at her children's reactions yet decided not to input her own thoughts and feelings - Lady Joanna was her friend, for her death was still too raw.
Casterly Rock was not a whit like what Dayla had envisaged. The child handmaiden had expected whirlpools of gold laden with silver linings, lavish dresses and beautiful people. Dayla anticipated utopia. Instead she got Tywin Lannister and his spawn.
Cersei and Jaime Lannister: the former looked at her like she were nothing more than the mud on the bottom of her shoe and the latter ignored her outright. (Not that Dayla particularly minded; the elder Lannister twins frightened the life out of her.) Both twins focused intently on Elia and Oberyn and Elia and Oberyn focused intently on them, much to the chagrin of their mother.
"Mother, Cersei and Jaime said they'll show Tywin's monster to us, can we go and see, please?"
"Lord Tywin," she corrected haughtily. "You might be away from Dorne but you are to still remember your manners."
And that was the closest Princess Martell got to giving permission. Oberyn and Elia swapped matching mischievous smirks and ran off to Lord Tywin's children, leaving their mother's frantic cries to slow down, behave! behind them.
Prince Doran did not care for neither Tyrion or Tya. Dayla was glad, it meant she had one less Martell to worry over the whereabouts of.
Dayla busied herself with plaiting the Princess' hair and tried to put the young Martells out of her mind.
It wasn't until later that they returned; their smiles vanished and sombre expressions painted on their faces.
"What's the matter?" Dayla ventured to ask. It was Elia who answered.
"He wasn't a monster," she said. "He was just a baby. And she hurt him so much just for being different. She hurt him so much that Jaime had to ask her to stop."
Dayla was shocked. Children weren't brutalised in this manner in Dorne. Children are blameless.
"Cersei didn't even show us her sister. We didn't want to see. All she did was say how much she hated them both for killing their mother." Elia was near tears by that stage. Oberyn wrapped his arms around his baby sister and rested his chin atop her head.
The handmaiden looked up at her Princess, who was watching her children's interaction with sadness. "I'll request an audience with Lord Tywin on the morrow," she informed Dayla. "It's time to go home."
And when Lord Tywin rejected the proposed union between Elia and Jaime and the second union between Cersei and Doran, the Martell family packed up their bags and began the trek back to Dorne. Lord Tywin only offered Tyrion to Elia yet the Princess scorned that proposal - she couldn't forget her children's adverse reaction to what Cersei had done to him. She didn't want to bring home a reminder of the Lannister's unjust cruelty.
She never thought to enquire as to the suitability of Tya Lannister. That was perhaps the greatest irony of all, Dayla thought in hindsight.
"Fetch Dayla. Immediately. This is a matter of urgency."
Tya ignored the young boy's hurried affirmation as he sought to comply with her request. She was in too much of a frenzied panic herself. Her heart pounded in her chest every time her mind wandered over the morning's events. The feel of satin sheets against her bare skin, the warm breath ghosting over her, the naked body beside her...
The chair scrapped in noisy protest at the unexpected motion of her standing but she paid it little heed. Gods, she needed some way to quiet the traitorous thoughts that snuck past her carefully secure defences and threatened to destroy her composure. Tya hadn't survived years of Cersei to be defeated by a mere Dornishman.
Unbowed, unbent, unbroken. She would throw House Martell's words straight back at him. He wouldn't appreciate her lion's roar. Cersei Lannister was the one uniformly recognised as the epitome of House Lannister, the one most likely to follow in the reputable Tywin Lannister's footsteps. And they weren't small.
But now... now Tya was determined to show the world that they were wrong. A Princess Martell could easily hold her own against a Queen Baratheon.
First thing's first, Tya planned grimly. Time to play the Martell card and get my husband on side. To do that, she would need her ever-faithful handmaiden to aid her in her plight.
A knock at the door. "You called for me, my lady?"
Tya found herself motioning for another of her servants to open the door but realised that during the time that transpired between the events of last night and her newfound nervous pacing she had frightened them all off.
(Well. Either that or they had simply left themselves after her embarrassment at the hands of a Martell but Tya refused to go there.)
The princess grumbled to herself as she begrudgingly twisted the Lannister-golden handle of her oak door to 'welcome' Dayla into her humble abode.
She couldn't recollect the last time she had to do such a thing herself. Perhaps she never had.
"What took you so long?" she snapped. Her patience was running thin; her system running on nerves.
Dayla bowed her head as per Dornish custom. "Do forgive me. I was busy personally supervising the washing of your gown."
"The one I expressly told you to burn?"
"The material was of such intricate design and the detail of the embroidery complimented your form so beautifully the previous evening, it would have been a shame to set it aflame."
Tya gritted her teeth. A vein was threatening to burst somewhere.
"No matter. Leave it be. I have another matter that requires your immediate attention." She took a breath and exhaled quickly lest she lose her steel.
"You have no doubt heard rumours of what transpired between Prince Oberyn and myself late yesterday evening."
"And in the early hours of dawn," Dayla replied with a light twinkle.
Tya bristled. "Yes," she hissed sharply. "Though I hardly think that is a matter of importance. I need you."
The handmaiden raised a pointed brow at Tya's admission. "You need me, my princess? In what particular manner are you requesting my services? I assume not the cleaning department," she added.
"Nor will it be in the conversation department. I have a dwarf-brother for that. No, I need your help in a far more important matter." Tya hesitated.
"How can I help?"
Tya shook her head once, appearing to steel herself in preparation for her confession. "I need your help in making Oberyn faithful to me - and only me."
There was a protracted pause.
"Forgive me if I'm wrong but I was under the impression you had managed to win his affections all on your own. Last night, to be precise."
Oberyn's wife in question glared daggers at Dayla - a dark, icy stare that penetrated deep into the handmaiden's very soul. The infamous motto of House Stark came rushing back to the forefront of her mind. Winter is coming... It was almost comical: a lioness of Casterly Rock, now tamed under the sun and spear, currently personifying the long winter's night of the North.
Dayla loved ironies.
Tya smiled sweetly, strained. "Yes, Dayla, we've already covered that," she said. "But what I'm proposing is a little more permanent, you might say."
"You are the one married to him, my princess. I cannot imagine what could be more permanent than that."
"True, yet I'm not the one who routinely shares his bed, am I?"
Dayla briefly contemplated feigning ignorance at Tya's presumptuous comment, however, she ultimately vetoed that idea. Instead, she allowed a dawning look of realisation to sparkle across her face as the name Ellaria Sand flitted through her mind. "Yes, and last night the rumour was that-"
Tya interjected sharply, "That I shared his bed. I know, Dayla, I was there."
The older woman attempted to bait her: "Then you should have nothing to fear. You are the woman he married."
"Not by choice. What happened was an accident, Dayla." She didn't have to say to which 'accident' she was referring. "It is up to me now to solidify my position in his bed and in his life before that bastard whore steals him from me." Tya looked at her handmaiden wearily, her Western features betraying just how nervous she was with the whole situation. "You know I didn't seem to manage that very successfully this morning."
Dayla knew what she was commenting on. It is strange, she thought once more; how one being as fragile as her could illicit such an ear-piercing, shrill shriek. She was sure even the Starks of Winterfell heard her.
Looking at the princess' face, she thought better of allowing her unadulterated mirth to show. Nothing of this humorous magnitude had ever been performed here and certainly not for the years Dayla had been alive. Yet in spite of the Princess Tya's brave facade, she could spare the cracks, or rather chinks in her armour and it registered on Dayla that Tya had no idea what to do. She most definitely did not have a confidant, either - and assuredly not one within her own family. Dayla reasoned that one could almost be forgiven for forgetting Tya had no mother. The Lannisters came from the womb grown up.
Except they didn't. Her handmaiden was seeing the evidence of this right in front of her.
"That doesn't matter," she said instead, a reassuring smile accompanying her words. The young girl standing before her was without a mother in the world; Dayla would do her best. For she was dissimilar in years than Dayla had been that faithful journey to the Rock. "There is nothing wrong with how you acted."
The princess scoffed at the remark. "You know nothing of the world, handmaiden."
Before, the insult would have stung but Dayla refused to let it damage her resolve. The handmaiden recognised a wounded animal for what it was, realised that Tya was simply lashing out.
Because she was terrified.
"Tell me, then. What I have to do to ensure Prince Oberyn shares only my bed from here on out."
The woman smiled sadly, tilted her head in contemplation and asked, "Might I ask, what has brought all this on, my princess? You have been married to Oberyn a short time already."
Initially, Tya blinked at the suddenness of Dayla's question before a cruel smile malformed her features. "No, you may not. And I might have been married to Oberyn for a short time, however, I have changed. I have a woman's body now, not that of a green babe. It is my duty-"
It was Dayla's turn to interject. "Your duty? Your duty to spread your legs for the bloodthirsty Red Viper of Dorne?"
Tya flinched at the ferocity of her handmaiden's declarative.
"Who taught you that, Tya? Who taught you to become submissive to your husband; despite his well-founded hatred of you and your kin?"
"How dare you address me so casually so, so, so informally! I am your princess in case you have forgotten. And last time I checked, you work for me."
Dayla wasn't fazed by Tya's violent outburst. "You should thank the gods Oberyn has Ellaria. She keeps his attention away from you."
At the handmaiden's careless statement all the blood in Tya's body rushed to her face. Veins began protruding all across her pretty white skin, so many that one could hardly count them all.
"Get out," she whispered; quietly at first, voice as soft as a newborn's. "Get out." Her voice shook with barely-concealable rage.
In that precise moment in time, the Dornish woman knew the damage was done; knew that, in her current state, there would be no reasoning with Princess Tya, volatile she was. A rise of guilt not unlike bile swamped her stomach contents as the reality of what she had done became clearer than crystal. It went against everything she was taught, her training, everything. She would never have even dreamed of addressing the deceased Princess Martell so 'informally', so 'casually' as she had just performed to Tya.
Be that as it may, Dayla knew she did not have to trouble herself over the repercussions of her actions - whatever small slither of popularity Tya had previously gained had just dissipated into thin air (Dayla overheard even the Baratheon soldiers cackling at her unfortunate predicament as though her life were nothing more than a comedic spectacle for other's own amusement). Nevertheless, Dayla digressed, she never had to insult previous princess' before and indubitably not for their own survival.
For there was not a child born on Dorne who was without the instinctual fear of the Red Viper.
All Dayla could do as she dutifully bowed her head and left the princess' chambers was hope that, once the shock and humiliation wore off, her words could sink in and her warnings would flash before her eyes.
"And fetch the whore Elia while you're at it," Tya ordered once she was nearly out of the door. "Tell her to prepare me for a night with my husband. And make it quick!"
As the dusky hue of the evening sky painted her eyesight, Princess Tya herself exited her chambers, clad in what she could only describe as one notch above traditional- skimpy- indecent attire. There was more cleavage on display than perhaps she had bargained for... but he's already seen me naked. Too much skin than was appropriate was also clearly visible-
No. She needed to stop: calm and composed; strong and stable. By the gods, Cersei managed. Years and years of this seductive allure, Cersei Lannister had transformed it into a perfect art. Tya was still a novice. But she was learning - and by harnessing the power and reputation of such a man as Oberyn Martell, who publicly hated House Lannister, she could finally bring her family to heel.
(And that is what Dayla did not understand. It wasn't about falling in love with him for Tya knew upon entering the marriage that that was not what the gods had intended for her. It was about control and about making the most out of her situation."
Tya wasn't jesting when she said she was no longer a green babe. This was no longer a pretty tale where the beautiful lady married the prince. It was far sinister than that.
Yet still the golden-haired princess hesitated.
Jaime Lannister stepped out from the shadows, noticing her pause, although not yet knowing who she was exactly, her but Tya noticed not. Her body was numb from indecision.
"Are you quite alright, my lady?"
That snapped the young princess out of her brief reverie, emerald eyes matching emerald eyes. Tya resisted the urge to curl a lip in disgust of her older brother.
"I believe the correct address is princess, not lady. Not that I would expect a disgraced knight to understand the simplicities of social politeness and tact."
Jaime raised his brow at her sharp comment. "A disgraced knight? Please don't think that. You know what Father always said whenever someone threatened a lion."
"You seen to forget I am a lion also," she said haughtily but her brother paid her no heed.
"Besides," he said, gesturing to himself. "Look how well my armour suits me." She missed the bitterness in his tone, his self-hatred, and took his words at face value.
"Why don't you like me?"
Such a plain question, Tya thought. Such a plain, loaded interrogative.
"Because you followed my sister around with you wherever you went. Neither Tyrion nor I would ever be able to compete with her. Not in your eyes," she snorted.
"I have never mistreated Tyrion."
"Oh, yes, you have," she cut him off. Her emerald orbs flashed into ice that dared him to challenge her. "He still does not yet know the true story of his wife, does he?"
Jaime frowned. "How do you-"
Tya laughed but there was no mirth in the noise that it produced. "Our beloved sister journeyed across great lengths to ensure I knew every little detail before my own bedding." The courage she gained from the strained discourse between the pair of them enabled her to finally cross to the chamber door of her husband and knock prettily, neatly on the oaken structure.
Her brother chuckled. "You call that a knock? That's not a knock." Jaime crossed over to where his younger sister stood, the tiny hairs on the backs of her arms standing up on edge. Their closeness frightened her. There had to be something about him, she thought desperately; something deeply, inately wrong. Because why else would he engage in regular incestuous activities with their sister?
How could someone call Tyrion the monster of House Lannister when compared to the Kingslayer?
Jaime raised his fist to the door and rapped against the wooden surface with force that Tya did not imagine was strictly necessary. It made just being in his very presence extremely uneasy.
"Thank you," she said flatly and stepped subtly backwards. Defensive. She did not like him invading her personal space; he was nothing to her. He was tainted by Cersei and Cersei was tainted by him.
The almighty Kingslayer stepped back himself, seemingly almost amused by her discomfort. Tya forced herself to remain calm and collected, strong and stable. She could do this. He was her husband. That was her brother. They were her family. The thought, unbidden, amused her greatly. Family. Albeit a highly dysfunctional one.
"Anytime, sister mine." He said with a toothy smile. "Listen, I know how much you crave my company, but I'm afraid I'll have to leave you here. Kings to protect and all that. You'll be fine I'm sure, with your pretty husband on the other side of that door. I'll tell Cersei you said hello."
Tya faked a sugar smile. "Please refrain." She watched as his golden-steel form grew smaller and smaller, disappearing into the emerging shadows of the night. She let her eyes fall to the floor, the nerves beginning to overcome her previous pride.
But the door opened and her eyes instantly raised to meet the dark pools of Oberyn Martell.
"Hello," he said neutrally. She wasn't quite certain whether she should take that positively or negatively.
"Good evening," she replied in a slightly happier mood than what she had first received.
Oberyn extended his arm to welcome her in. "After you," he offered.
Tya took a breath and entered the snake's den.