AN: Just want to say thank you as always for your reviews. I believe I responded to all questions, but if not I apologize. As for the guest reviews...
applebe: You can see what happens with his new keep in this chapter.
coldblue:1) Lady Stoneheart and Shae won't play a part in the story. As for Gregor, it is possible. 5) No, definitely not. 8) I haven't considered it.
2&3&4&6&7&9&10) You'll have to read to find out.
reader: Last I checked blackstone is magical in nature, painting it white really shouldn't be necessary. Harrold isn't a fool, he will claim retirement.
Guest: At the end of chapter ten Harry is sixteen. Ashara is fifteen going on sixteen, about eight months younger than Harry. Arthur is twenty-two, about five and a half years older than Harry. Ulric is sixty-six, Larra is quite a bit younger at forty-six. Reynard died at the age of forty-seven. Lily is forty. Robert and Ned are fourteen, though Robert is nearly fifteen. Rhaegar is seventeen, nearly eighteen.
Harry drank deeply from his skin of water and wiped the sweat from his brow. Even in autumn, Dorne's blistering sun made the work all the more difficult but he and his workers carried on all the same. It was a different sort of toil from what he'd grown accustomed to in the yard, and he didn't have the same sort of talent for it but the workers appreciated the extra pair of hands.
In the eight months since Shandystone had officially become his, after he bent down on his knee and swore his oaths, he spent a great deal of time and effort making it into something worthwhile. Two dozen builders and half a dozen carpenters had been commissioned to see the walls replaced and keep restored. They worked in shifts, half during the day and half in the night. The stone and marble necessary for the endeavor came from a quarry in the Red Mountains, while the wood came from the Crownlands.
Their tireless work was beginning to bear fruit. The entire exterior of the holdfast was fully restored while the animals that once called the interior home had been removed. New tile was completed on the ground floor and new furnishings were being built by the carpenters. The smithy, storehouse and well were completed while the construction of the stables and armory were underway. The once chest-high wall was entirely gone. In its place, more than three-quarters finished, was a wall three men tall that reflected a shiny dark grey, nearly black, in the bright sunlight yet they were quite coll to the touch.
When workers arrived they marveled at the color, texture, shape and shine of the stone. Of course they were entirely unaware that their employer worked alone to shape each piece of stone with magic so they fit together as easily as matching puzzle pieces.
The Valyrian technique proved exhausting and at times painful. Given his refusal to spend another's blood for the process he used his own to power the spells. There was something exhilarating in it though, as magic seemed to come easier in those moments. The rest of the process involved heating the rock and then manipulating the stone like clay. It was odd taking something usually unyielding and feeling it bend beneath his fingers.
"Harrion," Mors called out to him from above, "a rider is approaching." The foreman of the builders was a big, pot-bellied and balding man with a big beard but strong as an ox. Harry put it down to the man's influence that the work was being finished at such an impressive pace.
"Thank you, Mors." Harry responded, "Send them to the keep." The big man nodded as Harry turned toward the keep, grabbing his shirt from where it lay across a stone. He made his way to a water basin and splashed his face before drying himself and throwing his shirt over his head. He waited patiently as he heard the whiny of a horse in the courtyard.
Oberyn entered with a smile, embracing Harry, "My friend, things seem to be coming along nicely." He surveyed the room around him, "You really must rename this place. Shandystone simply doesn't suit it any longer."
"They are and you're right I must." Harry agreed as he filled a cup with wine and offered it to the prince, "I am surprised to see you though. Is this a friendly visit or do you have news for me that simply must be told in person? Or maybe you are just checking up on me?"
"Just a visit, no ulterior motive involved." He said hands raised, "After so long spent traveling, I still have moments when I grow restless," Oberyn admitted, "and I was curious to see for myself what you had managed here. Ashara has told us as much as you've told her, but only so much can be conveyed in hastily written letters once a month."
Ashara currently lived at Sunspear as a companion to Elia. The princess requested her presence less than a month after Harry's departure to start rebuilding Shandystone.
"I doubt you have heard the news," Oberyn started as he sat down, throwing his feet up on a nearby table, "But Steffon Baratheon died along with his wife and a hundred men. They were returning from Essos when a storm caught the Windproud in Shipbreaker Bay."
Harry had heard of Lord Steffon's journey and while surprised to hear of his death, he was well aware tragedy could happen on roiling seas. The Lord of Storm's End had been sent to the east to find a suitable bride of Valyrian ancestry for Rhaegar, but all that Steffon was able to find was a fool named Patchface. Though, that wasn't his only purpose in the east.
Nesio sent a message by way of Ashara. The swordsman was in Lys during Steffon's visit to the Free City. He was keenly interested in learning the truth behind the rumors of the people who braved the Freehold at Aerys' behest.
And from what his old teacher said, the King certainly wasn't the only one interested in the goings-on in Valyria. The Red Priests had begun giving sermons about the growing fires around the Doom, claiming that a second cataclysm was coming. While Nesio was in Volantis, a representative from the Undying of Qarth visited in search of answers from the Old Blood and while in Tyrosh, a shadow-binder from Asshai arrived and questioned the people of the city about what they knew. And Nesio reported it all, as often as he was able. In truth, I did not expect it to garner this much attention. But then I also didn't think Valyria would seemingly come alive with fire again.
"I imagine the king was displeased?" Harry asked, pulling himself from his thoughts. The entire kingdom knew that Aerys wished to replace Tywin as Hand. His paranoia grows ever worse according to rumor.
Oberyn nodded, "From what my uncle says, Aerys is under the impression that Tywin somehow arranged the whole thing to remove the threat to his position as Hand." He scoffed derisively, "Tywin is capable of many things but I don't believe he can control the weather."
"No, I don't suppose he can't." Harry agreed absently, thinking back on his own father's death. The storm didn't necessarily kill Steffon. "Were their bodies recovered?"
"They were found among debris on the shore once the storm subsided." Oberyn told him, "Robert has had them buried, and there is talk that he might hold a tourney in their honor."
"Lord Steffen hosted a tourney before his departure. I doubt Robert has the means to do it again so soon." Harry chuckled lowly, "Though he loves them well enough that he might be willing to ignore good sense."
The prince barked a laugh, "That is certainly true." He eyed Harry critically, "Your absence from them has been noted of late. Rhaegar asked after you in Maidenpool. I believe he intends to journey here soon should the need arise. Robert lamented that he has had no opportunity to best you in another melee at the tourney for Prince Viserys' name day.
"I have pressing concerns here. I would see this place built with my own eyes and aid in it with my own hands."
Oberyn raised one dark eyebrow at that, "Admirable but surely you are growing pressed for coin. This cannot be a cheap venture and your skill at arms would surely see more coins in your pockets. Though then again you might have means I am entirely unaware of." He looked thoughtful for a moment, skeptical even, before speaking again, "But I digress, Gregor Clegane looks for you at every tourney since Lannisport." He smiled wolfishly, "Arthur told me of what happened there. Did you know that the giant walks with a limp because of what you did to him? It's made him slower than he was and I think he wishes to separate your head from your shoulders because of it."
Harry frowned at that, "That is good to know. Feral dogs can be dangerous."
"They can," Oberyn agreed, "Just last month there was word of the Smiling Knight harrying travelers along the Rose Road."
"There is a truly feral dog. He will need to be dealt with sooner or later."
"That he will but for now he is the concern of the Tyrells." The mention of the Tyrells brought a scowl to Harry's face as his mind drifted to Garth but he quickly banished those dark thoughts.
"Any word from Ashara?"
Oberyn chuckled lightly, "Of course…" They continued speaking through most of the night of family and politics among other things. The prince stayed for two days and leant his strength in laying stones, when he departed he made his way further west to Oldtown. He meant to retrieve something he had left behind in the city years before.
Elia and Ashara watched as Mellaria played with little Arianne in the Water Gardens. The Norvosi noblewoman had dark hair that sat in a mass atop her head, her dark eyes were alight with mirth as her daughter enjoyed the waters. The woman did not enjoy every Dornish custom but she certainly had come to appreciate the beaches, fountains and pools of the place Maron Martell built for his Targaryen bride so many years before.
Nearby the newly arrived Obara Sand jabbed with a stick. Oberyn brought her back with him upon his return from Oldtown. The little girl was not a pretty thing with mousey brown hair and a pinched face but she had her father's fire, "She wishes to be my brother's equal with a spear and she is only eight years old." Elia commented gaily as she followed Ashara's gaze.
"I would say that she wants to be better," Ashara countered kindly, "And she may just manage it. If I can be a better archer than the Sword of the Morning and Ser Harry of Blackstone, surely Obara can be more dangerous with a spear than the Red Viper." She spoke with a fondness for her brother and Harry that she couldn't hide. In more than a year she had only seen her brother a handful of times at tourney. And she had only visited Harry twice.
There was peace and contentment in Sunspear where she spent her time doing little but reading, riding, and when she was given any long period of time alone, copying a number of the books they'd found in Valyria into the common tongue. But there was a part that sorely missed the adventure they could get up to together. Things were never dull with him, that much is certain. But more than that, she simply missed his company. It was hard to concede that she would be of little use to him in the rebuilding of his new holdings but in the end he had won that argument with little trouble.
"Ah, Harry seems to be on many mind these days," Elia commented with a knowing smile, "Doran told me just the other day that Lady Allyrion has begun bleating about the lands he now owns."
Ashara's visage soured at that, "Funny, she had no complaints when a hundred dragons found their way into her treasury when Harry requested the land."
Elia merely smiled indulgently, "Yes but at that time she thought it little more than a joke. Dragons acquired in exchange for nothing. But instead the land grows richer by the day." She leaned back in her chair, her dark eyes laughing, "Tongues wag often of the oasis that has grown where once there was a ruin. I cannot imagine what he has done that has turned the desert into workable lands."
"Yes soon it will become a town and one where trade might flourish." Ashara said softly, eliciting a furrowed brow from the princess, "He has expressed an interest in employing men to create a new arm of the Greenblood."
"That would be no small task." Elia said slightly taken aback, "I doubt he has the means to accomplish such a thing."
Oh you would be surprised. "For the time being, I believe you would be right. But it is something he is considering for the future." She knew that should he want to see it done he could, his magic making it all the easier.
"Is that all he is considering of the future?" Elia asked feigning innocence.
Ashara groaned internally at the older woman's obviousness, "Harry has made his intentions regarding me clear on more than one occasion and nothing has changed with that regard. A landed knight is not an appropriate suitor for a noble lady."
"Your father would be foolish to consider such things at this point." Elia spoke sharply, catching Ashara off-guard, "Harry had nothing but now he has a holdfast of his own and it is quickly growing. His fame and wealth are greater than a number of noble lords. He is skilled in arms, intelligent and fair to look at. And had he been of the mind to ask for it, he would already have a title. Oberyn was tempted to broach the subject with Doran without prompting and had Harry actually asked him to do so I doubt Oberyn would have let the matter lie until our brother agreed." The usually quiet, good-natured princess only grew more impassioned as she continued. And there was a knowing light in her eyes.
Ashara didn't know what to make of the older woman's reaction, "You have always been… supportive of my feelings for Harry in the past but never quite so vehemently outspoken about what should be done."
Elia frowned in thought, "As I said tongues wag. Janna Tyrell questioned me in great detail when she found me alone at the tourney at Blackhaven two months ago." She raised a hand to quiet any interruption, "While Arthur tells me that Cersei Lannister asked after him while at court, as did her lady-in-waiting, Melara Hetherspoon." She paused and looked Ashara square in the eye, "So while Harry does what he thinks is necessary to win your hand, and your father worries over his current station, there are others who are less concerned."
"Lord Tywin would never allow his golden daughter to wed anyone of such low stock, especially given his reputation among the Dornish." Ashara countered a bit stiffly. This news caught her off guard. She saw Harry's worth plainly and she wasn't surprised that others did as well, but she thought that news of a landed knight in Dorne would have been below the notice of the likes of the Tyrells or Lannisters.
"And Melara is the daughter of a landed knight in her own right. Harry could easily refuse any offers without causing offense." She finished more firmly, even as she tried forming an argument against Janna. But it was futile, she knew more of that story than Elia. She knew full well of the friendship between the Queen of Thorns and Lily, not to mention the attention she paid Harry when they were in the same place. And there is both Harry and Lily's belief that Olenna helped to divert Terrence and his ilk to the east.
"I agree with regards to both Cersei and Melara, but that still leaves Janna. She is beautiful and buxom, but more importantly she has her mother's mind. And given their station, Harry would be hard pressed to deny them if they were to press the issue." Elia played the tip of her plaited hair absently, "And there is always you to worry about as well."
"The king alone would be able to 'convince' my father of a betrothal I don't desire," Ashara said calmly, even if there was a seed of concern somewhere deep in her mind. "And Aerys worries far more over the next plot against him then he does about Rhaegar's wife."
"There is a hint of truth to that claim but at the same time Aerys sent Steffon Baratheon to Essos in search of a suitable bride. Your mother is a Velaryon and while that might be beneath his notice it may not be beneath your uncle's." Fortunately, her Uncle Lucerys was not overly ambitious and would not risk his sister's ire. Particularly as any betrothal would prove far more beneficial to House Dayne than Velaryon. But should Aerys learn of my presence in Valyria his tune might change.
It was for that very reason Harry intended for them to be betrothed, or preferably wed, before the truth of their involvement came about. I would be fine with my name being forgotten entirely in the story, and with what Nesio has done in Essos that may prove possible.
"You have a closer Targaryen relative than I do." Ashara pointed out archly, "And you are a princess of Dorne."
Elia only shrugged at that, "Rhaegar is pleasant enough, and he is a good friend. I would not be terribly displeased by such a match."
Ashara chuckled earning a scowl from her friend, "Most of the woman in the kingdoms would be far more excited at the prospect of such a match." Of course she would much rather my brother than Rhaegar but that is impossible. Friendship certainly seems preferable given her position. Some women certainly aren't so lucky.
"Yes, well most woman see only the handsome prince, resplendent atop his horse in tourneys as he knocks many a skilled knight from their horses. They don't know that he is prone to melancholy and quietness." She smirked slightly, "And I've never been quite as fond of the harp as other women."
Ashara laughed along with her friend even as she made plans to send a letter to her father and Harry. She knew that a betrothal would not deter the truly determined but she would deal with such things as they came. Olenna wasn't the only mother who taught her daughter how to play such games.
Harrion twitched in his sleep. At times a soft noise would emanate from deep in his throat but he did not wake. The dreams that plagued his sleep continued as always though more fitful in recent years than they ever had been in his youth. Through his own trials he had also seen Harry Potter's.
The death of Cedric and Sirius and even his own parents clearly sat heavy on his counterparts mind. Misfortune seems to follow us. But I would certainly take my own lot in life over his most days. At least I had my parents there to raise me. Despite the magic learned, it was Harrion's opinion that the greatest boons this second life had granted were experience and perspective.
Unable to stop any of it, he was forced to suffer through the likes of Tom Riddle and Umbridge. I would have loved to open up that frog woman at the throat. And Harrion raged internally as he was ignored about the machinations that took place during his sixth year, even if he had come to find out that Dumbledore was aware of it all. The old man meant well, but he could have saved people a great deal of trouble by including them in his thinking.
But now it seemed that whether things were to end in success or failure, they would come to an end. The fitful sleep might finally end as this wizarding war reached its conclusion.
In his mind he was marching through the Forbidden Forest knowing full well what he would find at his destination. When he found the clearing, he could only wait. With a flash of green, the spell leapt from the bastard's wand and hit him square in the chest.
In the waking world, Harrion's back contorted painfully, a number of joints cracking but he did not make a noise before falling back to the bed with a thud. And then there was peace and a white, shining representation of King's Cross station. The whimpering, shriveled remains of what the snake-faced murderer had left of his body sat beneath a bench.
Sitting further on down the station was an old man dressed in simple clothes, grey-haired and watching him with seemingly unseeing eyes. They sent a shiver up Harrion's spine, as did the voice that emanated from his mouth. It was not male or female, old or young, deep or high, but all of those things at once and it reverberated through the room and through the entire station and right down to his core, "Good of you to join me, Harry Potter. There are others who wished to meet you here, your headmaster, your mother, your father, your godfather but I wished to see you personally. I have been with you far more often than most."
Harry approached slowly, "And you are?" He had his suspicions but he wanted to know for certain.
"I've had so many names, so many faces given to me by people, in so many places and times all who wish to give form to a thing that they fear: Azrael, Thanatos, Hel, Stranger, the Lion of Night." And before Harry's eyes, his skin darkened, his hair receded and he turned from tall and old, to young and hail. "But they do not give me form nor name, in the end most simply call me Death." He stared Harry straight in the eye, and for the very first time, Harrion felt like someone in his dreams could see them both, "You weren't afraid of meeting your end, a rare thing particularly in one so young."
"Everything must seem young to your perspective," Harry quipped as he sat down beside the ancient force sitting there like any other person. It smiled as Harry continued, "I wasn't afraid because it was the only way to make him mortal. It was the only way that Ginny, Hermione, Ron, all of the people that I care about might be able to see an end to it."
"Hmmm, bravery and selflessness, quite the honorable qualities." Death noted, its voice was that of every soul ever ferried along, "You did not think you would live? Even having found the relics of the Peverell brothers?"
"Stories aren't always true. And the belief that joining them makes the owner master of death is just that… a belief. No one has ever managed it before to know for sure."
"Too true." Death agreed, looking him up and down briefly, considering him, "I do not take special interest in the lives of individual people. All things have their end in time, and for something like me centuries feel like a moment. The brothers were talented, their relics powerful, but they could not hope to master me, let alone cheat me."
Harry shrugged slightly, "I thought not."
"Your headmaster thought Tom Riddle might have created a tie to the living world for you by using your blood in his resurrection." Death explained, "But it will not be enough. It might please you to know that your death shall weaken him far more than he could have expected. It seems to be Tom Riddle's habit to overlook older magics."
"And I take it the Horcrux in my head will not be enough to save my soul from the killing curse." Harry spoke up, realizing why Death was discussing these things, "So I am dead then."
"Yes, you are dead." There was no gloating in the figures voice, nor remorse just finality, "You may choose to go on should you like."
"I will see my parents again?" The prospect of being with those he had lost making the idea easier.
"Perhaps," Death answered, leaving Harry bewildered, "I know nothing of what comes after, good or bad. It might be family and peace or the void, I am unknowing. All I know is that I take the dead to their rest."
"Well that is certainly reassuring." Harry sniped sarcastically.
"I am not here to reassure you," Came Death's apathetic reply, "I am just here to take you but given your unique situation there is another possibility." Harry just waited patiently for an explanation, "Fate was unkind to you in this life, so you might live another in a different place and time. The essence of who you are shall remain the same, the magic that is a part of you shall go with you, as shall the memories of this life but you will have a new opportunity at life."
"There are no guarantees either way are there?" Harry questioned, and Death merely shook his head. He was silent for a long time, entirely unsure of what to do. There was a chance that he could live a happy life with a proper family or he might suffer through the same miserable childhood he had with the Durselys.
They fell into a serene silence that could have lasted for a minute or a year, it was hard to tell given the nature of the place. Death did not hum, did not fidget, did not even breath, it just sat there a reminder of the decision that needed to be made.
In the end it came down to certainty. Passing on provided no guarantees. Should he allow death to take him, he might spend eternity in the companies of those he lost but then he might spend eternity alone in darkness. But choosing life was a guarantee of opportunity if nothing else, "I would like to live again." Death turned to look at him and reached out a hand. As his fingers gripped his shoulder, Harry's entire body seized and he felt fire run through his body as he fell into nothing.
As he shot awake the last thing that Harrion remembered was the faintest of baby's cry. The sun shone brightly inside of his quarters, as he stretched his sore and tired muscles. Sleep ought to be refreshing not as draining as the yard.
He swung his legs over the side of his bed and shielded his eyes from the bright sunlight as it filtered into the room and reflected off the glass candle sitting in the corner. The twisted pillar of obsidian still refused to light but then the books discussed only how to use the constructs not how to light them. He sacrificed a bit of his own blood in attempt but it had yielded nothing, He reached the conclusion that he just didn't have enough magic on his own to see it set aflame. It remained as dormant as the dragon egg that sat hidden amongst his other wealth. But I am patient, and with enough time and effort I will see both done.
It was only as he wiped the sleep from his eyes that he noticed he was not alone in the room. It would appear that I've overslept.
His mother was standing just inside the doorway, looking concerned. Her once vibrant red hair was beginning to grey and lines were beginning to form on her face but she was still fair to look upon. She walked to his side and ran a hand through his sweaty hair, "One of your dreams I take it."
He smiled at her weakly, patting her knee, "Yes, but no need to worry mother. I have become accustomed to them after all the years." It will be interesting having a night's sleep completely free of them.
"Very well," She pushed him off the bed with a chuckle as he tumbled in a heap, "You have slept longer than you ought to and you have important visitors." He stuck his tongue out her impetuously which she ignored. Without a maester at Blackstone, his mother oversaw much of the day to day goings on around his new home.
A few short minutes later he made his way down to the hall of his keep. The appearance of Harrys land and home would be hard to reconcile with anyone who had seen Shandystone. It was clean and gleaming, the bark of hounds and the whiney of horses could be heard from outside, as could the ring of hammer on anvil from the smithy within the walls. His grandfather's reputation was well earned, and since his arrival he'd been working daily sometimes at tasks set to him specifically by Harry and at others dealing with the needs of the holdfast.
"Morning, m'lord," Greeted one of his new household guard as he came to stand in his hall. His name was Finn and he was of an age with Harry. Not particularly tall but long-limbed and stronger than he looked. And in the yard he was fast, if unpolished. But there is potential, and plenty of loyalty to go along with it. All of his new guards were lowborn, and young but bright with plenty of potential in the yard if no real skill yet. Harry felt that old hedge knights, the sort that had come to offer their service, had nothing new to learn and were only as loyal as the coin in their pockets. He sought another way of doing things than the conventional.
Without a master-at-arms, Harry could only train them with whatever time he could spare and that was not always in abundance. I shall rectify that soon enough. But that didn't dampen their excitement for the sword, and it made them all the more productive when they found themselves helping to build the infrastructure around Blackstone.
"Is it still morning?" Harry asked cheerily, "I thought I must have surely slept past it today. I can be such a lazy arse sometimes." Finn chuckled, knowing full well that nobody who'd seen Harry around Blackstone would think to call him lazy. His new guards respected him in a way he wasn't entirely accustomed too. Today though he felt older, and slightly more at home with their admiration. Maybe that can happen when you witness a conversation with Death.
"Perhaps I named you a knight to soon, Harry, if you're already waiting till noon to pull yourself from bed. I can remember the days when you were up at dawn with sword in hand." Arthur stood there looking serious, his indigo eyes conveying severe displeasure. Finn could only stare in stunned silence at the unexpected presence of a Kingsguard.
It was the first that Harry had seen his friend since he left Starfall for Volantis two years prior. The white enameled armor and pure white cloak fit him as though he was born to it. Just as we always expected. The silver fastening on his armor shined with the tell-tale sign of being well-kept. The only other color on him was a strip of purple fabric wrapped just above his elbow. Where other Kingsguard would wear decorative brooches or gaudy helms that harkened back to their family names, Arthur was not the sort.
Suddenly the frown evaporated into a smile, and Arthur pulled him into a tight hug "It has been too long. I seem to hear news of you from others but never see the man in the flesh." He pushed away and appraised him, "You've grown taller since last I saw you." It was true, Harry realized idly. He now stood only an inch shorter than Arthur.
They chuckled at that, "This place has demanded a great deal of my attention. Trust me when I say it wasn't exactly anything to look at when it first became mine."
A new voice spoke from the doorway, regal as ever, "But it certainly is now. At the rate this place grows there shall be a new Oldtown here within a decade." Prince Rhaegar wore a loose red shirt and carried a harp. It stood in stark contrast to the sword that sat upon his hip.
"Welcome, your Grace. I did not expect that you would take the time to come visit me."
"I meant to sooner but there were matters at court that demanded my attention. Prince Oberyn told me he had warned you I might choose to visit."
"He did but that was half a year ago." A servant came in bearing a midday meal. As they sat Harry asked, "You visited the growing town then?"
Rhaegar smiled softly, "Yes, your servant, Lily, was kind enough to escort me." Arthur and Harry shared a brief look of amusement at that but didn't comment, "She left me when I sat down by a hill where a number of the children were gathered." Harry was sure the children stopped their play to listen to the Prince play.
Rhaegar ate a piece of meat from his plate before turning to Harry, "What caused you to rise so late? I have never known you as one to drink in excess, nor do the people of this place speak of you in such ways."
"I had a restless sleep," Harry explained, "I was plagued by discomforting dreams but found myself unable to wake."
Rhaegar's brow furrowed in interest. He placed his knife and fork down and leaned closer, "Interesting, what did the dream involve?"
Not expecting to be asked to elaborate on something so personal, Harry sputtered for a moment before settling on a half-truth, "I revisited old memories of difficult times. Such things sit heavy on mind my occasionally when I realize how far removed I am from that time."
Rhaegar hummed his understanding, but still seemed to be searching for the truth of it in Harry's eyes, "I often find myself beset by dreams, but they are often of the future." His gaze grew hazy as he thought back, "There are times when I dream of bitter nights and blazing fires." With the Prince, there was always a chance that he might fall into some melancholy. But at the same time, Harry was very much aware that it was rare for Rhaegar to discuss such things.
Harry could tell by looking at Arthur that this was not the first he had heard of such things. Rhaegar's eyes cleared , and he smiled sadly, "There was once a time where I dreamed of a red lion attacked by two massive, vicious hounds. The lion wounded the beasts terribly, left their legs useless but a third struck it from behind and pulled out its throat."
Even Arthur seemed surprised by this admission, "You've never spoken of that before, your Grace. When did that happen?"
"After the first night of the tourney at Lannisport." He answered without thought. Rhaegar seemed entirely unaware of the unease he was causing Harry, "I recall seeing that medallion." He pointed to the golden chain that still hung around Harry's neck, a reminder of his father and the rest of their family, "And then after your defeat of Gregor Clegane, and the manner in which you did so, I grew concerned. The Mountain is prone to violence particularly when defeated." He looked to Arthur curiously, "Did you never wonder why I urged you from the city so hastily after the tourney?"
"I wondered often, but thought it rude to ask."
"Your concern is greatly appreciated," Harry added solemnly, a pit in his stomach. The Targaryens have always been able to see things to come. Their family would have perished in the Doom if not for Daenys the Dreamer. But it is troubling to think of what Gregor was willing to do in defeat. It left Harry with something to consider the next time he met the Mountain. I should have simply stuck my dagger through his eye when I had the chance.
Rhaegar waved a hand, "Your appreciation is not needed. My concerned was likely misplaced. And besides, you are one of my closest friends, and I would not see harm come to you if I could avoid it."
"Thank you, your Grace." Harry offered genuinely, "So I doubt that I alone brought you to Dorne?"
"You are correct. Arthur did not give voice to the inclination but I am aware that he wished to see his family. We shall visit Starfall next before traveling back to the capital."
"We already visited Sunspear." Arthur put in with apparent calm but Harry could see the tightness in his eyes and hear a twinge of irritation in his voice, "Ashara sends her regards."
Rhaegar continued, "But our time in Sunspear also gave me an opportunity to inform Prince Doran in person that my father accepted his proposal of marriage between myself and Elia." He did not seem overly enthused by the prospect but nor did he seem to dread it.
"Ah, my congratulations." Harry knew what truly bothered Arthur now. Elia was likely the only woman that might have dissuaded him from putting on a white cloak. He was also well aware that she would someday wed, but he could only imagine that he would prefer somebody- anybody- other than Rhaegar. Now instead of Elia being out of sight and out of mind, he would be forced to see her often and with his closest friend.
"Thank you, I shall expect you at our wedding in three months' time." Rhaegar informed him highly, "Elia would be disappointed by your absence, as would Ashara." Harry chuckled in agreement to that. He saw her rarely of late but the letters passed between them often enough, which had only been made easier once Harry's request at the Citadel for ravens was answered, they seemed peeved that he had no interest in a maester to arrive along with them though, "And two years is long enough to go without appearing beyond these walls."
"I believe that I will be able to pull myself away long enough to make the journey." Harry conceded without any argument which earned a small smile from Rhaegar. In fact, it may provide an opportunity.
As they finished eating, Harry stood and told his guests he would return shortly. When he returned he carried a small leather-bound book, and offered it to Rhaegar, "I imagine this is already in your library at King's Landing," It was a lie, but that wasn't important, "but I acquired this in Volantis. It is in pristine condition and details the members of some of the Great Houses of Valyria. Consider it an early wedding present." It was a copy written in High Valyrian by Ashara at Harry's request, "I would have given it to you sooner but…" He realized that Rhaegar stopped listening entirely, too engrossed by the book.
Arthur leaned toward Harry, "He will be occupied for some time now," he patted him on the shoulder, "We should go to the yard, I wish to know if two years of disuse have left your sword skills lacking."
"With your leave, your Grace." Harry said keen to take up the challenge, even if he still was likely to struggle against the Sword of the Morning.
"Of course, I would join you but…" He made a vague motion with the book in his hands. With that they made their way out into the yard. It did not take long for them to draw a crowd and Arthur found that Harry had not, in fact, grown worse from disuse.
The crowd watched on as Elia made her way through the Sept of Baelor to where Rhaegar awaited her. She was clad all in white, save for the cloak draped across her shoulders. Her long dress hugged gently to the subtle curve of her hip. In her hair were amber jewels that made her eyes shine, adding to her simple beauty.
Rhaegar awaited her dressed in the red and black of his house, an unadorned circle of gold sat upon his brow. Five of the Kingsguard stood watch around the room as silent sentinels, Arthur closest to his friend. All seven would have been present but Aerys refused to come, or to allow Viserys to be present, for fear of a possible assassination. People whispered of his paranoia, and of the ever growing tensions between the king and his heir. Still Queen Rhaella stood to the front looking proud and happy. Just beside her, an austere Lord Tywin stood in stark contrast.
While outside a throng of smallfolk watched the festivities with glee, within southern lords and ladies, many from Dorne and the Crownlands, lined the walls watching in silence as the Septon droned on about the Mother, and the Father, and duty, and all manner of other inanities for some time until finally Rhaegar removed the Martell cloak and replaced it with a Targaryen one. Cheers rang out throughout the city, not just in the sept.
With a new winter chill in the air, the wedding festivities were held within the Red Keep. There were musicians, mummers, jugglers, fools and all other manner of performers within the vast halls. They performed as two dozen courses came and went over the passing of hours. The people of the city would see themselves treated to the abundant surplus.
Harry enjoyed it all from a distance, sat between Ser Tybolt Hetherspoon and Ser Symon Santagar, both landed knights with their daughters beside them.
Melara leaned around her father on occasion to smile in Harry's direction. The girl was still slender, and had grown quite tall. While not possessing the most eye-catching of figures, her freckled face was prettier than most and she still had a pleasant smile. And while she said nothing, there was a noticeable blush upon her cheeks.
As a lady in waiting to Elia, Ashara sat near to the wedding table with Arlan and Elinor. Their parents respectfully declined their invitation as Allyria suffered from a winter chill.
Ashara looked resplendent in a purple dress that drew the eye of many men within the hall. He smiled slightly at the silver, jeweled hair net within her dark locks and the snake bracelet upon her wrist. She does so love my gifts. And he returned the gesture, wearing a broach she had made bearing his sigil.
Cersei sat beside her father hiding whatever irritation she was feeling with surprising skill. In the two years since last he saw her she had begun to grow into a woman. Her crimson dress, laced in the front hugged her growing bosom, while her golden hair fell in delicate curls around her face.
Even from two tables away, Harry could make out the booming laugh of Robert Baratheon. The young lord had only grown taller and stronger in the past years. His dark hair was trimmed short, as was his neatly kept beard. His blue eyes were full of mirth as he joked and drew those around him in. A man like that makes for easy company.
His younger brother, Stannis, sat grimly beside him finding no humor in his brother's good nature. It would appear that Lord Steffon's last letter proved false, his new fool was unable to teach his son to smile. Understandable, I think he would have preferred his parents.
To Robert's other side was Jon Arryn. Grey haired and blue-eyed the Lord of the Eyrie was broad-shoulder even if he was dwarfed by Robert. A number of his teeth were missing but that did not deter him from eating heartily of the dishes laid out before him. Just beside Jon was his other ward, Eddard Stark.
The second son of Lord Rickard Stark did not frequent tourneys nearly as often as his friend and participated even less. He was shorter by a head than Robert, but had strong shoulders. He was neither a particularly handsome or ugly man. His grey eyes were soft as fog in their enjoyment at Robert's antics, while his dark hair moved loosely about his head. Eddard seemed the very vision of what one expected when thinking of a northerner.
When everyone was watered and fed, music began to emanate more loudly around the halls and the dancing began. Rhaegar danced with his new bride, followed by his mother while Elia fell to Oberyn who twirled her around with a smile.
As a number of the crowd began to find themselves drawn into the music Harry made his way toward Ashara, ignoring the looks sent his way by a number of ladies as he passed. He tapped her shoulder to gain her attention, "My lady, would you like to dance?"
Ashara smiled radiantly, "I'd be delighted, Ser Harry." With a quick word to Arlan and Elinor, he took her hand and fell into line with the other dancers. He was not the most skilled of dancers but he knew the steps well for each dance, from the line dances to the circle dances, and the partner dances as well. He was a fair bit better than Harry Potter had been at the Yule Ball to say the least. Oh, how I sympathized with him then. And to be forced to do it in front of a crowd as well. At least I've been learning since I was five years old.
Where his skill at dancing was functional, Ashara was truly graceful. Her skirts whipped around her feet and her hair bounced against her shoulders as they moved together. Despite that, it demanded very little of her attention as she spoke quietly to him, "It is wonderful to see you. After twelve years spent with you day in and day out, it is still odd to be parted from you for so long."
They twirled and passed hands to the next partner before finding each other again a few moments later, "It is something I desire to put an end to." He smiled mischievously, "Things never seem quite as exciting without you around."
"I know," She replied thickly, "I often think the same thing of you."
He leaned close enough to ensure that only she could hear, speaking just against her ear "Fun as this is, it isn't exactly as exhilarating as braving the fires of Valyria."
"That is most certainly true." A soft noise came from the back of her throat at the feel of his breath against her skin, "So I take it you have plans for your time here?"
"With Rhaegar wed, it alleviates at least one of my concerns," He told her, "I hope to remove another before I leave the capital."
"I thought as much." Ashara said knowingly, "I've written to my father about us but he remains reluctant despite my best efforts. I even wrote to my mother to see if she was willing to help but she informed me that my father would not budge on the matter."
"He made his opinions quite clear to me once." She raised an eyebrow in question at that, "Before we left for Volantis, when he informed me you would be allowed to accompany me, he said that you deserved more than a sworn sword and that I should see that you had it."
"You are far more than a sworn sword." She retorted irritably, "You are a landed knight with men of your own, and a growing reputation among other things." He knew she meant their success in the Freehold.
"True, but clearly that isn't enough. As I see it, all that remains is a title of my own." They parted yet again as they traded partners briefly. Harry found himself holding a plump girl of House Florent who possessed a slightly upturned nose and red hair. She blushed almost the second she looked at him.
When they came back together Ashara looked thoughtful, "While he dallies over concerns of a title others will not!" She whispered harshly even as she looked over his shoulder to another part of the room, "Right this moment Janna looks at you with interest, as does Olenna. How long before she decides you are truly the person she desires to wed to her daughter? And should she come calling, how could you refuse given their name? Not to mention the aid she has offered in the past?"
The dance came to its close. During the applause the pair moved away from the crowd and as the next tune started up they found themselves a secluded alcove outside of the hall, "I can't control the actions of others Ash." Well that might not be entirely true but… "I can only control my actions and hope that the result are enough to convince your father. And should Olenna make a request, I shall refuse her." Dangerous as it might be.
"Even knowing you might need her aid to deal with Garth in the manner your mother desires?" Ashara snipped irritably before taking a deep breath, "I'm sorry, I don't mean to be argumentative. I do understand, Harry, but I worry. You have been far removed from the intrigues of the world of late, but I haven't. And it seems you have the growing interest of many noble ladies." She leaned her head against his shoulder, "I don't expect to be married but a betrothal would do a good deal to ease my mind. It would force Janna to resort to… other means to get what she wants."
He kissed the side of her head softly, "You seem highly concerned about Janna?"
"She has been the most persistent." He frowned at that, "I have my ways of knowing, and Elia has aided me."
Harry hummed his understanding before grasping her hand in his, "Come, we shouldn't be away long. And I would not have us dwell on such things when we could be enjoying ourselves." She giggled and stepped in stride beside him.
They danced three more songs together before Arlan stepped in to share a dance with his sister. As Harry milled about with the other guests he heard his name called. He turned to see Robert sitting there with a serving girl in his lap and drink in his hand, he pushed the girl away with a playful slap and she only tittered loudly at this. Eddard seemed amused at his friend's brashness. The Lord of Storm's End opened his arms wide in greeting, "Ser Harry, I haven't seen you since you bested me in the melee at Lannisport. Gods that was good. You missed a good one there Ned."
The young Stark nodded indulgently, "So you've said Robert." His eyes shifted to Harry, "It is good to meet you, Ser. I hear that you beat this great lout in that melee, though the way he speaks of it you would think that he won."
Robert thumped Ned on the shoulder happily, who wasn't entirely listening to his friend, "Never! But it was down to just me, Harry and the White Bull. I wanted to beat the Lord Commander myself and turned my hammer to Harry, and he made me pay. A demon with two swords this one is."
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Lord Eddard. And Lord Robert, it is good to see you again. I was sorry to hear of your parents' passing." Harry finally interjected. He followed Ned's eyes to the dancing crowd and found them looking at Ashara and Oberyn as they turned about the floor. Realizing he was being scrutinized, Ned looked away with the barest hint of red in his cheeks.
The smile fell from Robert's face and Stannis nearby just scowled more deeply at his words, "Thank you, Harry. They were taken too soon." His smile returned then as he offered a cup, "Come share a drink with me in their memory." Accepting the drink, Harry clinked his goblet with Robert and drank deeply.
"If only there was a tourney being held in celebration of the wedding," Robert sounded thoroughly disappointed that there wasn't, "I could finally best you in the field." He gave a great booming laugh as he took another pull from his drink.
Harry made to reply but was interrupted as he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see Janna Tyrell standing behind him with a soft smile on her full lips. The buxom young woman wore a dress of green and gold that accentuated the swell of her chest. Her long chestnut hair fell around her shoulder in tight curls, and it seemed to be littered with tiny golden flowers, "I do not mean to interrupt, but I hoped that you might dance with me, Ser Harry." Robert waved away the apology on Harry's behalf even as his eyes roamed up and down Janna lasciviously. The man can't see a beautiful woman without showing… well let's call it appreciation.
"Of course, my lady, I would be happy to dance with you." As they reached the dance floor hand in hand, Harry couldn't help but realize Janna's hands were noticeably softer than Ashara's. Probably because the only strings she's ever pulled at are harp-strings, not bowstrings.
The dance was a simple couple's dance, and Harry followed along to the best of his abilities not quite as comfortable with an uncommon partner. Still, Janna seemed pleased enough with his ability as her golden eyes never left him. She spoke, her voice light and airy, "I have missed seeing you at tourneys, Harry."
"So, I've heard." A little smirk played across her lips, no doubt expecting that word would reach him of her interest, "I traveled with Ashara in Essos for a time, and have been otherwise occupied since my return."
"Oh yes, I have heard. For some, you have become nearly as common to speak of as the rumor that someone, or many someones depending on the story you here, survived the Freehold." Nesio has done a truly fantastic job of spreading rumors, he might have missed his calling. He could be a poet with the way he can weave stories.
Janna grinned up at him, "But then your story is quite the good one. A lowborn street urchin turned squire to a noble house and one of the finest knights in the realm, becomes a knight in his own right and acquire lands not just for the sake of appearances but to actually build them up." She squeezed his arm a bit more firmly where she held it, "I doubt that is where the story ends though, and I am sure that there is more to it than anyone really knows."
Olenna quite clearly shared his true heritage with her daughter, trusting her to keep the secret unless it might benefit her in some way, "I have ambitions that I mean to achieve, my Lady." That was all he had to say on the matter, quickly switching topics, "It might interest your mother to know that my tutor she is so fond of has traveled with me to Blackstone and that I would welcome her visit there."
"I will inform her." Janna responded dutifully. "Would I be welcome as well?"
He applied pressure on her lower back to steer around a clearly drunken lord who no longer had any business trying to dance. He swallowed a little uncomfortably, "You would, my lady. Though I admit that I am curious why you have taken such an interest in me."
She tilted her head and narrowed her eyes, indicating her slight exasperation, "You are a bright man, Harry. Acting the oaf doesn't suit you."
"I have my suspicions but I would like to know the truth of it." Janna did not seem willing to budge, staring up at him defiantly.
He held her gaze until she finally relented with a resigned sigh, "You are, of course, aware of my mother's interest in you and some of the reasons behind it. She quite likes what she sees in you and so do I. You have ambition, a trait many men possess. But unlike most you are also intelligent enough to see your ambitions realized. You have the respect of other men thanks, at least in part, to your skill with a sword." A sultry little smirk formed on her lips, "And I can easily admit that I find you very pleasant to look upon whether in silk or armor."
"The simple truth of it is that I have taken an interest in you because you are an interesting man." Janna spoke plainly, "My intentions shall remain my own. You must simply wonder." The dance came to a close a few short moments after. As they parted ways, she placed a soft kiss to his cheek that no one around them took notice of and she offered her thanks for the dance. As Janna walked away, Harry didn't notice that her eyes were fixed squarely on Ashara who stared right back.
There was no bedding ceremony that night. Rhaegar didn't have the disposition to allow such things. It was after the newlywed couple left for their quarters in Maegor's Holdfast that Harry came upon Cersei and Melara talking together conspiratorially away from the ever dwindling crowd of people. As he approached they both stopped to watch him, "It is good to see you both in such good health. Last I saw you I recall foul words that left such things in doubt."
Melara averted her gaze, blushing slightly, "Yes, thank you again, Ser Harry. We should never have gone there."
"No, we shouldn't have." Cersei agreed with a small scowl, "I still count us quite fortunate that you were there to intervene." She huffed a laugh, "You were only a squire then, and now you are a knight. My congratulations on your achievement."
"Thank you, Lady Cersei." He answered amiably, "Is your brother well?"
"Both, I suppose." Harry successfully hid his satisfaction at her question. It would seem my words left at least some small impression.
Cersei tilted her head slightly, "Our Uncle Gerion recently taught Tyrion how to tumble, and his last letter to me was rather enthusiastic as a result. He is often lonely at Casterly Rock, and tumbling gives him a pleasant distraction." Even if it lacked genuine affection, her voice held some measure of fondness for the younger brother she once hated so utterly. That changed as she spoke of her twin, "Jaime is now the squire of Lord Crakehall, along with Merrett Frey, though he would prefer if he were perhaps the squire of Ser Arthur, or even you." She frowned slightly, "I have not seen him since my father brought me to court."
They were interrupted at that moment by Lord Tywin, "Cersei, Melara the night has grown late. I believe that it is time that you return to your quarters." Both girls followed the Hand's command without question, even as he turned his attention to Harry, "Ser Harry, your knighthood was well earned, and from what I hear you have put it to good use." Tywin did not offer the congratulations that so many others had inundated him with over the course of the night. It was surprisingly refreshing.
"I do what I can, my Lord." Harry responded earnestly. Tywin nodded sharply and made to leave him but stopped as Harry spoke again, "There is a matter I wish to discuss with you before I return to Dorne, if you have the time of course." Two years before, Tywin would have denied such a request out of hand, but now Harry was a close friend of the Prince with a growing reputation. That should at least give me an opportunity.
"You will come to the Tower of the Hand at midday tomorrow." After receiving Harry's acknowledgement, he left without further word.
Harry danced one last time with Ashara and escorted her back to her rooms. As they walked she asked nervously, "Lord Tywin agreed to meet with you?"
"Do you think it shall go well?"
"I believe that it will." He responded confidently, for her sake if nothing else, "There is nothing to worry about, I assure you." She looked far from convinced, "Even if he doesn't like what I have to say, he won't do me any harm."
"I don't know why I seek your reassurances." She chuckled weakly, I will certainly worry regardless."
"I'm sure you will." That earned him a light slap to the shoulder. He smiled at her as they reached her quarters. He pulled her close and laid a quick kiss upon her lips. She smiled up at him, her eyelids drooping slightly from fatigue, "Pleasant dreams, Ash. I'll see you tomorrow."
A light snow fell just outside the tall windows as Harry made his way through the Tower of the Hand. His footsteps echoed loudly off the high-vaulted ceiling. He carried a long, wooden case easily beneath his arm.
He reached Tywin's private audience where the captain of his guard, Ser Ilyn Payne, stood there vigilantly. Ilyn was a grim, thin man with no beard and a heavily pockmarked face. His gaunt face made his light grey eyes almost eerie. He was by no means pleasant to look at.
"Lord Tywin is expecting me." Harry told the stoic guard. Ilyn only grunted in acknowledgment and made a gesture toward the door.
Tywin sat behind his desk reading over a sheet of parchment, he glanced up lingering a moment on the case beneath his arm but made no further acknowledgement of his presence. A few short moments later, he placed his signature on the bottom of the parchment with a flourish and set it aside, gesturing for Harry to sit, "What did you wish to discuss?"
"It is well known that you have attempted purchasing, on more than one occasion, Valyrian steel swords from lesser lords around the realm in an attempt to replace the lost Brightroar, and that you have been rebuffed at every turn." Tywin's nostrils flared in irritation. He likely isn't in the best of moods to begin with given Cersei can no longer wed Rhaegar, and that wasn't the most pleasant reminder.
"You are correctly informed," He replied tersely, "What of it?" Harry lifted the case onto his desk, careful not to disturb any of the prickly man's things. He opened the silver latch to reveal Brightroar sitting within.
Tywin's eyes widened slightly as he took in the golden lion head pommel, the ornamented crossguard, and tell-tale wavy grey metal of the Valyrian steel blade. His gaze shifted from the sword in front of him back to Harry. If he was pleased by what he saw, he did a fantastic job hiding it, "This is my family's sword, how did you come by it?"
"I acquired it while in Essos." Harry deliberately answered vaguely. The truth of where he found the sword wasn't entirely important.
Tywin watched him intently, expecting him to submit and elaborate, but Harry just waited patiently. Deciding it wasn't worth pressing him for any further information, Tywin stated confidently "I take it there is a price for its return."
"There is a price of sorts, my lord but I don't need nor require your gold." Hard to believe given he was a newly landed knight, "I don't even need recognition for its return."
"What is it you require then?" There were very few situations in which Tywin was unable to intimidate or pay somebody to do what he wished. Ironically, most of those instances have likely been because of Valyrian steel.
"I want certain assurances in return for the blade." Tywin waited patiently for him to elaborate. Harry knew that what he said next could prove dangerous, "The story that most people know of my life is false. I am not a lowborn street urchin. I grew up with my parents, both of them healthy and whole. My name is Harrion Reyne, son of Reynard and Lily. And we hid ourselves largely out of fear of what you might do should you discover our survival. Or what others might do in the hopes of gaining your favor."
A flash of anger showed behind Tywin's green eyes, but it was quickly gone. In fact, he seemed surprisingly calm regarding the revelation, "Admittedly, I had some small suspicions regarding you though I could not fathom a way in which you could have survived. And I will not guess at how you managed to survive the flooding of Castamere now, nor do I particularly care. What is it you want from me in return for that sword?" He pointed down at the blade.
"I want your guarantee that you shall not seek further retribution against me nor anyone that I care for, whether by your own hand or any hand you command. Along with an agreement, in writing, that all debts owed to House Lannister by House Reyne are recognized as paid in full." Harry leaned forward, his hands resting on the table, "I have every intention of revealing my heritage in the future, and I would prefer not to have an enemy in you when that time comes."
"I would prefer that your family name remain dead, and that the only mention of it comes when minstrels sing the Rains of Castamere." Tywin replied stonily.
"People have sung the Rains of Castamere for over a decade now, Lord Tywin. Your vassals fear your reprisal and the revelation that a single Reyne remains alive will not change it." Harry argued evenly, "My uncle and aunt are dead fools, you dealt with them as you thought necessary. Before his passing, my father made his opinion of their actions quite clear."
"Reynard showed greater wisdom than his siblings." Tywin admitted with a hint of respect, "I nearly accepted his terms of surrender." Whether it was a lie or not, Harry didn't care. He made his decision and by the grace of his magic his family managed to survive.
"But you didn't, my lord. All that interests me is whether you will accept my terms now?"
"I could simply have you killed here in this room, and take the sword." It did not sound like a course of action he was seriously considering but he presented it all the same.
Harry looked unconvinced, "Only one guard is present outside your door, Lord Tywin. And while Ser Ilyn might be good, and you might have some skill of your own, I still like my odds. Of course should you succeed and I fail, you would be hard pressed to explain my untimely death to the numerous people who know of my presence here today." He smiled slightly, "But more importantly, you are far too pragmatic and subtle a man to attempt such a thing."
There was the slightest twitch near the corner of Tywin's lip at that. Silence fell between the two men, the only noise in the room the whipping wind outside the window. Tywin deliberated on his decision for a good time before he spoke again, "I accept your terms." Apparently the prestige of owning a Valyrian steel sword and succeeding where his predecessors failed outweighs the blow to his pride the survival of my family might cause.
Harry was no fool. He knew that Tywin could renege on the agreement, "Shall we write out the agreement then." Between them they decided on the wording, but the end result was as they discussed along with repercussions should the agreement be broken. Three copies were written in total, signed and given the seal with both the lion and hand. Tywin held onto one while Harry took the other two. He did not inform Tywin what he intended to do with the third copy.
Harry offered a small bow to Tywin as he left, "A pleasure speaking to you, my lord."
"Ser Harry," Was Tywin's succinct farewell. As Harry made his way out of the tower of the hand, he was satisfied. Losing Brightroar meant very little to him, he would never use the blade and had Valyrian steel to spare. What he received in return didn't have any significant value, save perhaps the coin he would save without any debts that might be called due, particularly as he knew Tywin might renege given the right opportunity. I doubt he'd act overtly against me, but men die of accidents all the time.
By approaching Tywin and informing him personally of his heritage, Harry avoided taking the man off guard, of potentially embarrassing him when the truth came to light. The best result was that this built some trust between the two of them. The worst would be that Tywin began plotting against him. But should he not have done this, he doubted there would have been any best case scenario. Whether he chooses to leave me alone as agreed will remain to be seen. I shall have to ensure that no spies enter my service.
With that thought in mind he exited the Tower of the Hand.
AN: So there's the new chapter. I really didn't want to dwell on the restoration of his lands in significant detail, I've done a great deal of that sort of thing in TDOMCM. Sufficed to say, Harry has ensured that life there will be viable so water won't be an issue.
Just for those who wonder about the years, it is now 279 AC, two years before the Tourney at Harrenhal.
Until next time.