A/N: There is a missing scene in this chapter, lovelies. The full, uncensored version can be found on Archive of our own or on Adult-fanfiction, the links to which are in my profile page.
This chapter is for Sif Shadowheart and Araea Swiftwind, thank you both for putting me at ease when I started to panic, as I usually do before posting a first or final chapter, and for calming me down. I appreciate everything that you have done for me greatly, lovelies! Thank you!
Chapter Warnings: Incest, Mpreg, Preg, gender fluidity, death, injuries, broken bones, a dragon eating a man whole, menstruation, forced marriage, dragonfire, captivity, mild starvation and dehydration.
Rhaegar – May 259AC – 47 years old
Haradarian – July 265AC – 41 years old
Viserys – March 276AC – 29 years old
Daenerys – February 284AC – 22 years old
Rhaegon – November 280AC – 25 years old
Haeraenya/Helaena – May 282AC – 24 years old
Baelon – October 283AC – 22 years old
Aenys/Aerin – June 285AC – 21 years old
Valarr – September 286AC – 19 years old
Aelinor/Aelora – July 287AC – 18 years old
Maelor/Maella – January 290AC – 16 years old
Naerys – April 293AC – 13 years old
Aenar/Aeron – August 297AC – 8 years old
Balerion – September 283AC – 22 years
Viserion – September 283AC – 22 years
Rhaelys – September 283AC – 22 years
Pyrexian – September 283AC – 22 years
Xeraxys – September 283AC – 22 years
Saera – August 284AC – 21 years
Vhaerys – December 285AC – 20 years
Aelyx – January 288AC – 18 years
Aedys – June 288 AC – 18 years
Maegon – December 288AC – 17 years
Daegon – February 291AC – 15 years
Laeraxes – March 300AC – 6 years old
Haradarian 'the Heart' Targaryen smiled gently as he watched the wispy clouds roll lazily across the sky from one of the numerous balconies that jutted out of the rebuilt Targaryen palace at Summerhall.
He had had his last children now he believed, twin boys that he'd named Aenar and Aeron, they were currently eight years old, but they'd be turning nine in just two turns. He'd had his very last egg too, six years ago, a beautiful purple and black egg that had hatched into an even more beautiful dragon, Laeraxes. His twin boys were his thirteenth and fourteenth children. Laeraxes was his twelfth dragon.
"There you are!" Rhaegar said with a relieved sigh that spoke volumes as to how long he had been searching for him, to how many balconies and small private gardens hidden away in the monumental palace that he'd visited to look for him. Rhaegar approached him immediately, wrapping his arms around Harry's waist and bending slightly to kiss the back of his neck. "Trying to get some peace, my love?"
Harry chuckled softly. "Does it ever work?"
"Not for very long, one of them always needs us and it doesn't matter how well we hide, they always find us. Are you looking out for…?" Rhaegar trailed off, deep worry showing on his strong, beautiful face as he looked out to the horizon with him.
"You know that I am. It has been four days now and we haven't had a single sighting of him, I'm really worried, Rhaegar." Harry said as he let his own gaze sweep over the bright blue sky, looking for any dark shapes that might indicate a soaring dragon.
"We should go out and look for him." Rhaegar said. "I've already sent ravens to Sunspear, to Starfall and to Haeraenya at Godsgrace. But it's not like Aelyx to fly off on his own. He was always more content to stay close to Summerhall. This sudden change is deeply worrying."
Harry and Rhaegar shared a look and they smiled at one another.
"I'm blaming that one on you; he obviously followed you up here." Harry told his husband. "What is it, Baelon?" Harry called out to his second oldest son, who was coming up to his twenty-third name day.
"Aedus is wailing without pause again and Joy and I don't know what's wrong with him, can you help us, please?" Baelon, silver haired and purple eyed, begged them, as he found where they were hiding and came out onto the balcony with them.
Harry sighed wearily. "I told you and Joy yesterday, Baelon, he's just teething. Give him the orange to bite on."
"He won't bite the damned orange, Mother!" Baelon insisted hotly.
"Watch your tone towards your Mother." Rhaegar chastised sternly, immediately. His arms clenched around Harry's waist gently in reaction to his own anger.
"Sorry, Mother." Baelon apologised, a little shamefaced for his sharpness.
Harry sighed heavily. "Okay, alright, where is he?"
"Joy had to take him out to the solar gardens, Viserys threatened to throw him off the topmost balcony if we didn't stop his cries."
Harry groaned and shook his head. He started the trek through the halls of Summerhall, going down a floor before he went to the very large solar and out into the rather large, enclosed garden behind it. He followed the ear piercing screams which led him to finding his good-daughter and his newest grandson standing in the shade of a fig tree.
"Joy." He greeted with a smile over the noise of the wailing babe in her arms, who was just a few turns old.
The beautiful Joy Penrose had immediately caught their Baelon's eye when she'd attended a tourney that he'd been squiring at for his older brother, Rhaegon. They had been courting ever since and they had finally married last year. Aedus was their first babe and he'd end up being their only if he carried on squalling for every hour of the day and night.
Joy was a nice, sweet girl and Harry did approve of her and her match to Baelon, it was just that she wasn't as strong as he would have liked for one of his children. This was one case where allowing their child to marry for love had worked out, as both Baelon and Joy were very happy and very much in love with one another, but Joy was a nice, docile girl and she lacked all substance and backbone in Harry's opinion.
"I can't get him to stop crying." Joy was almost in tears herself and Harry smiled kindly at her, even as he mentally told her to toughen up, and he took his youngest grandson, Aedus, from her and into his own arms.
As soon as Harry threw the boy over his shoulder and rubbed his back exactly how he liked, his cries trailed off into softer whines and then he calmed down completely, snuffling his wet face into Harry's neck as he finally stopped his crying.
"How do you even do that?" Baelon asked him incredulously.
Harry laughed. "I've given birth to fourteen children and twelve dragons, Baelon. After all of that you learn a trick or two to stay sane."
Harry turned the small boy down into his arms and he smiled to see beautiful purple eyes glimmering back at him, surrounded by thick, wet eyelashes that were clumped together by tears.
"What's all this?" He asked the tiny boy softly. "I know that you're in pain, Aedus, but giving everyone else earaches and throbbing heads is not the way to go about things." He smiled at the babe in his arms and kissed him gently.
Baelon approached him and he handed over an orange wedge wrapped up in a linen cloth. Harry took the small, covered wedge and he manipulated it gently into Aedus' mouth. The boy immediately started gnawing on it with his pained, inflamed gums.
"I tried to do that and he spat it back out and threw it away." Baelon sighed, taking his son back and cradling him gently.
"Just be calm, be patient and be gentle with him, Baelon. If you get stressed, anxious or angry with him, then he'll pick up on that and he'll react all the worse for it." Harry said softly. "No matter how loudly he screams, no matter how angry he makes you, you must never show him such negative feelings."
Baelon nodded seriously, taking in Harry's wise words, and he held the orange wedge into his son's mouth for him, letting Aedus clamp down tight on it, holding it still as his gnawing tried to dislodge the wedge even as it soothed his gums, the burst of orange juice a sweet reward for the small boy.
Harry went back into the solar and he sat beside Rhaegar with a groan, curling into him. They had been trying for another baby, another egg, for years now, but after he'd cut Laeraxes from his body, he had never fallen pregnant again, with either babe or egg.
He tugged on his Maester's chain, missing its Valyrian steel links after he'd used them to make Kingsfire for Rhaegar, playing it over in his hands and through his fingers before he sighed heavily.
"What's wrong, my love? You only ever play with that thing when you're anxious." Rhaegar told him as he wrapped an arm around Harry's body and stilled Harry's hands on the chain with his other.
"Hmm? Oh…I was just wondering why I suddenly stopped falling pregnant." He said softly. "It did seem to come out of the blue all of a sudden, I am not that old, I am going to be turning two-and-forty at the end of the next turn and I am still fit and healthy. It was getting a little difficult to cut through the scar tissue from my previous babes, but we found that the Valyrian steel dagger works much better when we had our Valarr."
Rhaegar smiled at him happily. "As much as it makes me incredibly smug to hear you wanting to carry more of my babes, I cannot say that I'm at all unhappy with the fourteen babes and twelve dragons that you've already given me, Harry. We have grandchildren now, our dragons are laying their own eggs, it is time for us to rest and enjo…"
"That's…that's it!" Harry said suddenly, turning to Rhaegar with wide eyes, cutting him off in mid-sentence as he had a sudden epiphany. "I stopped falling pregnant as soon as our first child had their first child! Whatever magics were sustaining my ability to fall pregnant broke as soon as the next generation of our family was secured."
Rhaegar pulled him in close to comfort him as he could hear that the realisation was upsetting him.
"We have more than enough, my love." Rhaegar assured him firmly. "You have been pregnant almost constantly since our marriage. You have carried a babe or an egg at least once a year except for the last few. Let us not even speak of the year two-eighty-eight. You gave us three dragons in that one year alone, Haradarian. We have enough."
"I knew that I was slowing down after…after the twins Maelor and Maella. Things went downhill from them."
"Five sets of twins you've given us over the years, my love. Who would have ever believed us so blessed?" Rhaegar smiled gently. "It is time to enjoy ourselves. To enjoy the children that we have and the grandchildren that they're going to give us."
Harry sighed and he frowned. "Perhaps. There's nothing that we can do about this anyway. Six years without a pregnancy now."
"I love you." Rhaegar said softly and he kissed Harry's mouth, enjoying the softness of those pliant lips under his own.
Harry sighed exasperatedly as he broke away from the sweet kiss to look at his beautiful daughter, Naerys. She was thirteen years old with beautifully waved, silver hair and his own bright, green eyes. She had yet to flower, but that didn't stop others from trying to court her before she was ready or from trying to wrangle a betrothal to her as she was the last of the Targaryen Princesses and the only one who was still unattached after their Maella had entered into a betrothal with her crush, Lewys Lydden.
Harry and Rhaegar protected her fiercely and hit back at those who claimed that she was of marrying age by pointing out that she was still just a girl, that she hadn't flowered yet and as such she was not of child bearing age and was most certainly not eligible for marriage.
Their Naerys was certainly the apple of her Father's eye and Harry watched as Rhaegar's dopey face broke into a soft smile as he looked upon their youngest daughter.
"What is it, Naerys?" Harry asked.
"Maelor keeps pulling on my hair and he's got sticky fingers because he's eaten a peach!"
"Maelor! Stop pulling on your sister's hair!" Harry called out loudly.
"I didn't pull it, Mother!" Their sixteen year old son insisted hotly. "She walked past and her hair brushed my fingers. It wouldn't have happened if she cut it once in a while!" He groused.
"Alright, go and wash your hands so they aren't as sticky. Naerys, come here sweet one."
Harry spun his daughter around and he run his fingers through her beautiful, silver hair that reached the tops of her thighs. She had always refused to cut it, from a very young age and honestly, the silver strands got everywhere and they were always in the way and Naerys spent half of her days tending to it, but it kept her happy and Harry was unwilling to force the issue, even when situations like this arose. He found the sticky patch at the end of her tresses and he carefully worked out the sticky peach juice, separating the strands as much as he could.
"There you go, sweetness. You can wash it tonight while you bathe."
Naerys nodded. "Thank you, Mother."
She gave him a hug, gave her adoring Father a kiss and then walked off.
"She is definitely your favourite daughter." Harry teased.
Rhaegar scoffed. "I don't have a favourite." He said. "I adore all six of my sweet daughters and all eight of my strong sons."
"Our Valarr is not as strong." Harry said quietly.
"No, he's too shy and sweet. Our Aerin however is strong, but I always knew that he'd be more like us, that said though to be caught coping off with a servant boy in the godswood, of all things, of all places!"
"He's one-and-twenty and he's rather shy too. Let him fuck who he wants to fuck. He wants to join the Kingsguard and he hopes that it'll cover for his…behaviours with the boys around him."
"Half of our sons want to join the Kingsguard." Rhaegar chuckled. "The current Kingsguard has certainly impressed our sons."
"Most of them are already married and thus they can't serve, our Aerin is never going to marry a woman or Father a child, he likes boys, like us. If he wants to be raised to the Kingsguard, let him." Harry said.
Rhaegar considered it and then he shook his head with a sigh. "I can't. It isn't right to have our own son give his life to protect us, perhaps when our Rhaegon takes the Iron Throne. It is more acceptable for a brother to give his life for a brother."
Harry looked over to the big, bulky man on the floor, acting a fool for the small girls sat before him. His four year old daughter, Shaea and his two year old daughter, Rhaenys.
"He'll be a good King when the time comes." Harry said with a smile.
"He will, I just wish that we hadn't been forced to marry him to a Lannister."
"They were working up to another rebellion." Harry said sadly. "Rhaegon was quite taken with Janei and he insists that it's no hardship. She was taken with him too." He added as he looked at the darling Janei Lannister, Kevan's only daughter, who was chuckling daintily at Rhaegon's behaviour with their two young daughters. She fit right in with her green eyes and blonde hair, though she was more golden blonde than the silver blonde of the Targaryens and her eyes were a paler green than Harry's own.
It had been eight years ago, in the year two-ninety-eight AC, when he'd heard that the Lannisters were subtly amassing their strength and that they were holding secret meetings that included several Maesters of the Citadel. Harry had been furious that the Lannisters, and the Maesters, were trying to figure out a way to get rid of his dragon babes and were planning to attack his family to take the Iron Throne from them.
Harry had acted swiftly and he had crushed the Lannister rebellion before it could even properly start and he'd taken Kevan Lannister's younger brothers, Tygett and Gerion, as hostages, as well as his only daughter, Janei. That had been when Rhaegon had seen her for the first time, as she was escorted into the Red Keep back at Kings Landing by himself.
They might have been forced to marry Rhaegon and Janei together, but on their son's part, it wasn't any sort of punishment, which helped Harry to sleep easier at night, at least.
Kevan Lannister was now a broken man. He'd lost his older brother, Tywin, in the war of the would be usurper and his oldest son, Lancel, his only child at the time, had been taken as a hostage and given into the care of the Freys. He'd lost his nephew, Jaime, in the same rebellion and his niece, Cersei, had been married off uncaringly to the newly raised Lord of the Vale, Amory Mallery.
Harry had thought that that would be enough, but no, Kevan Lannister wanted to be the Lord of Casterly Rock, over his other nephew, Tyrion, whom Harry had declared the legal Lord of Casterly Rock during the cleaning up process after the fool's rebellion had been put down.
Kevan had started planning another rebellion and as soon as Harry had gotten wind of it, he'd flown to the Westerlands on the back of his favourite dragon, Daegon. Their youngest dragon at that time, as Laeraxes hadn't been born, he'd been a very eager seven year old. Coloured a deep black and edged with a glittering gold, he looked impressively majestic. His gold eyes, horns and spinal ridges shone in the sun as he landed gracefully, right in front of the gates to Casterly Rock, sending smallfolk running and screaming as Daegon let out a thunderous roar that silenced all other noises for several moments before the people reacted to his sudden presence.
Harry had taken the place by storm, right as they'd been in the middle of one of their little meetings. He'd taken Tygett and Gerion captive, and he had slung Kevan's maiden daughter over his shoulder, sneering back at the restrained man. 'How many children do you need to lose, Lannister? I think you have the two sons left, the twins, can you really afford to lose them too?'
Kevan's wife, Dorna, had needed to be restrained as Harry had stolen her ten year old daughter from her side and carried her off on the back of a dragon. Tygett and Gerion had been taken back to the Capital by half of the Kingsguard, the three of them had been in charge of a score of men, that Harry had sent on ahead of him to arrive just as he did on Daegon. All of the Maesters involved had been stripped of their chains and exiled to Essos. The brothers were both confined to separate tower rooms back at Kings Landing, that while comfortable and plush, were still prison cells no matter how dressed up they were. The two could never leave, not unless they wanted to jump from their tower windows onto the stone below.
The Lannisters had not made a peep since Harry had stormed their home with Daegon and Harry hadn't seen them since he'd all but forced them to attend Janei's wedding to Rhaegon five years ago. They had had two daughters together and they were very happy with their marriage and their own small, budding family. The only Lannister to come and see the babes had been Lord Lannister, Tyrion, whom got along really well with him and Rhaegar, perhaps realising that he was only the Lord of Casterly Rock because Harry had decreed it as so.
Their darling Helaena had married first out of all their children and Harry had been right. She had been the better fit for Willas Tyrell, who was gentle and patient and frightfully intelligent. He was a good fit for their sweet and quiet Helaena, who was more observant and liked to watch before she acted.
They had been betrothed when Helaena had first flowered at thirteen and they had married four years later, when Helaena was seventeen. It had been an excruciating time for him, and for Rhaegar too, to watch as their daughter's Targaryen cloak was taken from her shoulders and swapped for the golden rose of Highgarden, going from their protection into Willas Tyrell's. Worse still was watching their daughter being stripped bare as men flung ribald jokes at her and complimented her body and breasts, as they readied her for her bedding. He'd almost been sick, but he'd held his stomach, and his smile, for his laughing, giggling daughter who only had eyes for her new husband, even as Willas' brother Garlan had carried her to her marriage bed, gallantly and fiercely fending off the other men that had crowded around to try to grope at Helaena. Harry had lain awake that night, crying on Rhaegar until his eyes were red and puffy and his throat was sore.
Willas and Helaena had had a son, Garyn, together nine turns later, the new generation of house Tyrell of Highgarden. He was Harry and Rhaegar's very first grandchild. He was six years old now, just a few turns younger than their youngest babe Laeraxes, and when he'd been born, that had been when Harry had stopped falling pregnant.
Helaena lived with Willas in Highgarden, and she had done so since their marriage, when Harry and Rhaegar had escorted her to her would-be husband from the Capital, her childhood home, for her wedding which had been held at Highgarden, and not seeing his sweet daughter daily had been very hard for him to accustom to. So for the first year of her marriage he'd sent raven after raven, he had gone to visit her on the back of a dragon just to see how she was, and to help with her progressing pregnancy, but he'd since learnt to let go a little more compared to those early days.
He'd also lost Helaena's older twin sister, Haeraenya, shortly after Helaena's marriage to Willas, to a man named Dyon Allyrion when she had gone with Prince Lewyn and her Uncle Viserys on a simple trip to Dorne. They had stopped off at Godsgrace and that was that. Haeraenya had met with Lady Delonne Allyrion's oldest grandson, Dyon, and they had been taken with one another ever since and they had a beautiful four year old daughter together, Daenya.
That marriage ceremony had led to their third born son, Aenys, meeting Gwyneth Yronwood, the youngest daughter of the Allyrion's good-family, whose older sister was married to Dyon's father, Ryon, and with that Aenys and Gwyneth had been married within the year. They had an infant son together, Gwynys.
Their younger brother Viserys had married Princess Arianne Martell, the only daughter of Prince Doran, thus bringing back the ties between the crown and Dorne after Elia's disgrace. It helped to keep the Seven Kingdoms together in peace and it made Lewyn Martell, their loyal Kingsguard member, very happy now that his family had been forgiven for the earlier transgression where Elia had tried to convince everyone that Rhaegar had married her truly, that their wedding night had been consummated, and that Haeraenya and Helaena were their true born babes. Harry remembered Rhaegar's ferocious anger at the betrayal, and at the time he had been convinced that Elia was not alone in the planning, nor in the enacting of the plot to sabotage their marriage and rip apart their family. He had since learnt to let it go and they were cordial to the Martell's of Dorne once more, though they had never taken such anger out on Lewyn, who was still, and had always been, their dearest friend and confidant.
The Kingsguard were further honoured by their family when their sister, Daenerys, had chosen to marry to Ser Oslyn Whent, Lord Walter Whent's oldest grandson, by his oldest son, putting her in direct succession for inheriting Harrenhal one day. Ser Arthur Dayne was also honoured, when their most striking daughter, Aelinor, with her silver hair and large, purple eyes, announced, rather suddenly, that she would marry Edric Dayne, Lord Alyn Dayne's only son, Ser Arthur's nephew.
'Does he know that you're going to marry him?' Harry remembered teasing her.
'Of course, Mother!' Aelinor replied affronted. 'It wouldn't be a marriage if he didn't know about it! He thinks that I'm the most beautiful woman in the world.'
'I look just like you.' Aelinor's younger, identical twin, Aelora had scoffed. 'If he thinks that you're the most beautiful woman in the world, then that means that he thinks I am too.'
'That's not always true, Lora.' Rhaegar had answered before Aelinor could tear her sister's head off. 'Sometimes force of personality shines through brighter and that would make Aelinor appear as more beautiful to Edric.'
'Thank you, Father! He wants to marry me, Aelora, not you!'
'That's okay, I know who I'm marrying too.' Aelora said with a shy smile and Harry's stomach had dropped at that.
'Who?' Rhaegar had asked casually, but Harry could hear the bite of paternal protectiveness behind the word.
'Ren Rykker, Father. He's been courting me for a while now and I keep acting like I'm not interested, but he is very handsome.'
Harry had breathed easier and he'd shared a look with Rhaegar. A look that clearly said that at least it wasn't a common farmer's boy.
'Be careful stringing him along like that, sweetheart. If you keep on acting like you aren't interested then he'll think that you truly aren't interested and he might move on to someone else.' Harry had warned.
Aelora had looked rather alarmed at that.
'Don't move too quickly either!' Rhaegar had cautioned immediately and Harry had chuckled under his breath.
Aelora and Ren Rykker, the only son of Lord Renford Rykker of Duskendale, were married within a moon turn of Aelinor and Edric Dayne, less than a year after that conversation. To make matters worse they had fallen pregnant at the same time and they'd given birth, both of them to boys, within days of one another. And thus Aeloras Dayne and Aelin Rykker were named (the both of them for their Mother's twin) and they became the heirs to their Fathers. The Targaryen family truly were spreading wide and growing strong.
"You really are thinking too hard."
Harry startled and he sucked in a deep breath, looking back at Rhaegar's smiling face. He sighed and smiled too.
"I suppose that I was. It's just…they're all growing so quickly, half of our babies don't even live with us anymore."
"Because they aren't babies any more, my love." Rhaegar said gently. "They don't need us as much, they have their own lives and their own families now. Of course our daughters are living with their husbands, its only right. We still have Maella and Naerys with us and most of our boys too."
Harry nodded. "I'll have to content myself with that, but even Maella is being swayed by that Lewys Lydden, they'll be married next."
"I know, my love, but they are betrothed. Maella liked him almost from the moment that she first met him after he saved that cat from those common boys. At least the grandchildren help." Rhaegar added, pulling him in tighter.
"And the dragons help more." Harry smiled. "At least they aren't going anywhere. Except for Viserion and Vhaerys that is." He added on, mentioning the dragons that they had gifted to their brother Viserys and the one that they had gifted to their sister Daenerys. Viserys would take Viserion back to Dragonstone when he went home and Daenerys had Vhaerys with her at Harrenhal.
"No, all ten of them remaining will always stay with us, but it was genius of you to think of rebuilding Summerhall. This place is perfect for hiding the dragons so that they have the space that they need to roam and fresh air to breathe, but they aren't tempted by the close presence of people wandering around."
Harry nodded and he looked at the massive solar that he'd had built for his family's use. It would seem too big, too spacious when their children were all grown and gone off on their own separate ways, leaving just him and Rhaegar, but…on the other hand being alone meant that they could go back to being very, very affectionate and naughty with one another. He grinned and suddenly he felt much better about things, much happier.
"What is it?" Rhaegar asked. "What have you thought of? I know that grin well by now, nothing good ever comes from that grin, Haradarian."
"Oh, I don't know. Some good things come from this grin." Harry teased.
"If you are talking about when you sucked me under the table while I was trying to hold a meeting, you are very mistaken!" Rhaegar hissed in a very hushed voice.
Harry laughed loudly. "Well, I enjoyed it." He giggled.
Rhaegar smiled and nuzzled into his neck. "I love you."
"I love you too. So much, my love."
"My brother, my husband." Rhaegar added and Harry swooped in on him, cupping his smooth jaw and kissing him hard.
"Maybe it won't be so bad having an empty nest." He said quietly, into Rhaegar's ear. "Maybe some free time, all to ourselves, will be just what we need. We've been forced apart these last few years, looking after children and grandchildren, looking after the realm, then there was the training of Laeraxes. Maybe it is about time that we have some time, just to ourselves so that I can fuck you on this settee without mentally scarring our children."
Rhaegar groaned and he pulled at himself beneath his breeches and Harry chuckled deeply.
"Soon, my love. I think we can sneak away after supper a little early." He winked and Rhaegar cursed.
"You are such a tease, my love."
"I have been all of my life, Rhaegar. Don't sound quite so surprised."
Rhaegar chuckled and rolled Harry to hug him tighter.
"Oh ow!" Harry complained. "I'm not a spry twenty year old anymore, Rhaegar. I can't bend like I used to!"
"I don't know about that, you were pretty bendy last night." Rhaegar grinned.
Harry laughed loudly, but he was forced to shift, to straighten out his leg as keeping it folded up put too much pressure on his hip. He cursed unhappily. When he'd been half the age he was now he'd been able to bend his body right back, he'd been able to sit on his knees for several hours before his knees or hips protested the position, now it didn't take five minutes before his aging body was complaining. Maybe he was too old to have another pregnancy, maybe it was time to settle back, relax himself and enjoy his children as they flourished into adulthood and started having their own babes and families.
They were all relatively protected here by the guards who lived at Summerhall, but they didn't currently have their Kingsguard with them, who had all been given a short leave to visit their families while their Kings were away from the Capital in Summerhall. They would all come back to escort them home when the time came, but Harry was glad that they could allow them some free time where they didn't have to worry about running around after fourteen children or their two parents, who happened to be the co-Kings of the Seven Kingdoms.
They had eventually replaced the three missing members of their Kingsguard, first with Ser Willem Darry, who had taken the place of his brother, Jonothor, who had died upon the Trident protecting Rhaegar. Then some moon turns later with a rising knight, Ser Arys Oakheart and then finally, after a full year with just six members of the Kingsguard, he and Rhaegar had had young Ser Balon Swann raised to the final position after he had proven his worth in a tourney held to celebrate the birth of their fifth son, Valarr, in two-eighty-six AC.
Their quiet, shy son, Valarr, was currently enthralled with an equally shy and quiet girl named Bethany Blackwood, whose Father refused to even entertain the possibility of his precious, most beloved daughter marrying, which was upsetting their Valarr, who had tried his very best to do things proper, asking for permission to see Bethany and to court her, but he had been rebuffed every single time.
"Maybe we should fly to Raventree and take the girl." Harry said thoughtfully.
"What's that?" Rhaegar asked, naturally not being privy to his thoughts.
"The girl that our Valarr wants, Bethany Blackwood. Perhaps we should take her."
"We are not thieves, Haradarian." Rhaegar reminded him. "Especially not of young maidens."
"Then perhaps we could order her to come to Kings Landing when we head back." Harry said, unwilling to give up. "Lord Blackwood is being unreasonable and he is hurting our son, I won't stand for it."
"Perhaps the threat of marrying Valarr to a Bracken will get him moving." Rhaegar said, suggesting that they play on the fierce rivalry that the two houses held for one another.
"Perhaps, but that might upset Lord Bracken if we only use him as a threat."
"Then we order them to visit us at Kings Landing, I will keep Lord Tytos busy while Valarr entertains his daughter. We will ask her if she wishes to stay in Kings Landing with Valarr or not when the visit ends, but if she wishes to go back home, that is the end of the matter. If she does not like Valarr as much as he likes her then we cannot force a marriage, Haradarian. He will have to find another girl to court and marry."
"They're perfect for one another. They are both quiet, gentle and shy. She won't humiliate our son by ordering him around and making a mockery of him in public."
"That's up to our Valarr." Rhaegar said sternly. "If he wishes to be treated as such, then he will be. If he doesn't, he needs to stand up for himself and not allow anyone to walk all over him."
Harry sighed and he looked to the nineteen year old Valarr, curled up in a soft chair, a book in his lap, utterly engrossed in its words. "He looks so much like you, like that." He smiled.
"Until he looks up and shows off the eyes that he took from you." Rhaegar said fondly. "Until him, I had worried that none of our babes would take your gorgeous green eyes, but he was the first, even if his hair is silver."
"Four out of fourteen isn't bad." Harry grinned, knowing as he did how much Rhaegar loved his eyes and had wished for more of their children to have them.
"It is abysmal." Rhaegar lamented. "Now with all the different added colours coming into our blood, it's doubtful that our grandchildren will have your eyes."
"Then it's a good thing that you get to look into my eyes every night before we sleep and every morn when we awaken." Harry smiled.
Rhaegar smiled back and brought their faces together, so that he could look into his eyes.
"I see so much hope, so much happiness in your eyes, my love." He said fondly.
"That isn't the colour, Rhaegar." Harry replied. "That's the confidence, the joy that you give to me daily."
"Still such a smoother talker, Harry." Rhaegar complimented.
"I have to be!" Harry teased. "I'm the one who always has to deal with things when they go wrong!"
"You're the Maester of the family."
"I'll have you know that I took no oaths." Harry said with a smile. It had become a running joke of their family and friends that he acted so much like a Maester that he had actually become one. "I can't be called a Maester truly."
"That doesn't stop you from having the brain of one." Rhaegar pointed out.
"Mother!" Their youngest child, Aeron, came pelting in through the open glass door of the solar from the garden. "Mother!" He called out again, tears in his eyes as he hurried over to him and Rhaegar, his young face very pale and urgent and his high voice was almost shrill with panic. "Aenar fell out of a tree! He won't wake up and I don't know what to do."
Harry was gone, he did not think that he had run so fast in his life as his heart pounded in his throat, even as he tore out of the solar and into the large garden. He knew exactly which tree their Aenar had climbed and fallen from. He'd been telling his younger twins for the last few years not to climb it and Rhaegar had even plucked their Aenar from the very same tree not two weeks before with a stern warning to never try to climb it again.
He made it to the group of peach trees and he went around to the one at the back, the one out of view of the solar, and he saw his little eight year old boy sprawled oddly at its base and he immediately thought the worst as he fell to his knees, ignoring his own pain at the action, as he immediately checked Aenar's neck for breaks before finding his pulse, calming his own breathing and heartbeat in order to check his son reliably, without his own racing heartbeat interfering.
He breathed out a sigh of relief when he found the steady beat under his fingers and he moved on, checking bones for breaks and Aenar's head for bumps. There was blood on his one arm and Harry found the nasty break, the white bone jutting through the skin at an odd angle. It was the only injury that he could see or feel.
While Aenar was still unconscious Harry set the bone and he tore his own tunic to tie it up to prevent it from moving or jostling, at least until he could get Aenar inside and to his medical kits.
"Is he alright?" Rhaegar asked from behind him, his voice tight with worry and fear.
"He has a badly broken arm. I need to get him inside and I need my things to help him. His arm needs stitching and binding and he'll need milk of the poppy when he wakes too."
"How many times have we told them to stay away from this tree?!" Rhaegar growled.
"Too many. Perhaps now they'll actually listen." Harry sighed as he tied up the last knot. "Take him inside for me, Rhaegar."
Harry looked up at the deceptive tree branches, that seemed so strong and stable, but in reality were thin and slender. All of this because his sons had wanted fresh peaches straight from the tree and were not tall enough to pick them themselves.
Rhaegar picked up Aenar gently in his big arms and Harry walked ahead to get his things ready. His children all looked at him worriedly and he sighed, but he smiled reassuringly towards them, particularly to the grey faced, teary Aeron.
"Aenar is alright. He has a broken arm and he's unconscious, but he'll be okay once I've patched him up."
"We just wanted peaches." Aeron said tearfully. "Aenar said it would be alright."
"We've told you not to climb the peach trees." Rhaegar said sternly as he carried Aenar into the solar. "They're not strong enough to support your weight. If you'd wanted peaches you should have come and asked for help."
"Will he really be okay, Mother?" Aeron asked.
Harry brushed his black hair from his purple eyes and he bent slightly to kiss his forehead.
"He'll be just fine, a bit unhappy when he wakes up and finds that he won't be able to use his arm for two turns, but he'll be fine. Now stay here and let me see to him without bother or distraction."
Harry followed after Rhaegar, who settled their silver haired twin onto the bed in Harry's personal medical rooms and Harry moved around, getting what he needed.
"He could have died." Rhaegar said through a lump in his throat as he touched the silver hair of their little son.
"He didn't." Harry said soothingly.
"He could have broken his damned neck."
"He didn't, just his arm, my love." Harry said calmly.
"It could have been so much worse."
"It could have been, but it wasn't."
Rhaegar swallowed hard and he breathed out raggedly, getting rid of all of his panic and fear. As he always needed to do in such crises involving his children. Harry always let him say such things, keeping calm and being soothing as he reminded Rhaegar that such a thing hadn't happened and that their boisterous, adventurous children were (usually) perfectly fine and unharmed or going to heal up very soon.
"Aenar is going to be just fine, my love." Harry smiled as he collected what he needed and he set to work. "Our boy is just unconscious after his fall and truly that's a blessing at this moment as stitching his arm is going to hurt him. Now, I need you to hold his arm still while I clean and stitch this wound."
Rhaegar nodded and he used his dagger to cut away Harry's makeshift bindings and he held the tiny, skinny arm gently, but firmly, by the wrist and the bend of the elbow, just in case Aenar woke up and moved or in case he moved in his unconsciousness.
Harry grinded up salt and cloves then added the powder to vinegar and then that paste to boiled water before applying it to his son's arm with a clean cloth to stop any infections from the broken bone, which had then torn through the skin.
Once done, Harry stitched up Aenar's arm before applying even more of the salt and clove solution, mopping up the blood and then binding up the broken bone tightly with clean linen. Once he was done, Harry told Rhaegar to let go of the arm and just few minutes later, just as Harry was cleaning up the tools that he'd used and discarded any unused items, Aenar groaned and wriggled. He sniffled and whimpered and Harry shushed him gently, lightly brushing back his silver hair.
"Aenar, my love. You fell out of a tree." Harry told him softy, gently. "Do you remember?"
"Yes, Mother. I'm sorry. I'm sorry I disobeyed and climbed it when you and Father said that I shouldn't. I'm sorry."
"Shh." Harry shushed him again. "It's okay, my love. You fell and you broke your arm. Are you in much pain?"
Aenar nodded miserably as his purple eyes opened and peered up at him, wet from his tears and very wide with pleading for help, for him to just take away the awful pain that was making his face tight and pinched.
"Rhaegar, sit him up for me." Harry said as he got out a small spoon and he picked up a vial of a thick, white potion. The milk of the poppy.
He dipped the spoon in and carefully measured out just half a spoon of the painkiller and he offered it to his son who swallowed it quickly. He sniffled a little more and rubbed his good arm over his face and eyes.
Rhaegar hugged him gently and kissed his brow.
"You're going to be fine, Aenar." Rhaegar assured their son. "Your Mother has fixed you up, you'll be better by the time that we go back to Kings Landing."
Aenar looked at the tight wrappings around his one arm and Harry smiled as he saw the question forming in his son's face.
"When can it come off?" Aenar asked and Harry had to fight not to smile.
"In two turns, Aenar. Until then, it stays on at all times, even when you are sleeping. Especially when you are sleeping." Harry amended. "Your bones need to heal."
"But…they will heal, won't they, Mother? I can still be a knight?"
Rhaegar laughed and Harry smiled. "It will heal, my love. Very soon too, and you can still be the most fierce knight that the Seven Kingdoms has ever seen. Just don't take off your bindings and don't play with it and be careful until I tell you otherwise. Now come along, your brother is very worried about you."
"Is Aeron okay?" Aenar asked as he hopped off of the bed and walked, perfectly normally, towards the solar.
"He's fine, just worried about you."
"I'll never climb another tree again, I'm sorry that I didn't listen."
"You can climb trees, Aenar, just not peach trees." Rhaegar told him. "Their branches cannot support the weight of a person."
Aenar nodded, but he was still a little shamefaced for ignoring their years of warnings, but Harry sighed and put it behind him. Aenar had ultimately chosen not to listen to their warnings and he'd learnt an important, and painful, lesson on his own. It had left him with a broken arm, but Harry was certain that Aenar, and Aeron too, would now never climb a peach tree ever again.
"Aenar, are you okay?" Aeron ran over to hug his twin brother, their contrasting hair at odds with their perfectly matching faces and the same coloured eyes. Aeron was crying more than Aenar was and Harry smiled and touched both of their heads and he moved to sit back down with a groan. He was getting too old for all of this.
"I'm okay. I have to wear this for two whole turns!" Aenar complained, indicating his bound arm.
"I got the peaches." Aeron offered, holding out a plump, succulent peach for Aenar.
"You'd better not have gone up that tree!" Aenar chastised his brother like Rhaegar usually would and Harry had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. He couldn't even look at Rhaegar, he knew that if he did then he was going to burst out laughing.
"Of course I didn't! Not after what happened to you. Rhaegon picked me up to get my own peaches. He's really tall so he can reach them without climbing!"
"All you had to do was ask!" Rhaegon said sternly, at odds with his soft actions as he cut up portions of juicy peach with his favourite dagger to feed to his two girls, who were both at his knees, mouths open like newly hatched birds waiting to be fed. "You could have both died."
"They didn't, so calm yourselves." Harry encouraged softly. "They're both fine and I distinctly remember every single one of you doing ridiculously stupid things when you were children too." Here he gave a pointed look to Rhaegon, who went red and averted his gaze, but still managed to pop a small, sliced chunk of peach into Shaea's mouth with his fingers.
When he was ten he'd thought that he was ready for a real sword and he hadn't been able to understand why he wasn't allowed one when he was so good with his wooden practice sword. So he'd snuck into their bedchambers and he'd taken Rhaegar's Valyrian sword, Kingsfire from where it was kept with his polished suit of battle armour. It had been too big, too long, too bulky and the grip was too much for his small hands to handle. He'd almost cut off his own leg when he'd tried to swing it and had overbalanced, dropping the deadly sharp blade and he had opened up a wound from knee to ankle in his own leg.
Ser Arthur had heard him screaming and had gone running. Harry had never seen him so scared nor so pale as when he'd carried a screaming Rhaegon to him, his little son covered in blood, in utter agony and completely terrified. Rhaegon still had the scar from that injury running down his leg and he would carry it for the rest of his life. But at least his fears of those early days had not come true, when he had thought, when they had all thought, that the wound went too deep for Rhaegon to ever walk again.
Rhaegar had almost had a fit afterwards and he'd started locking up his sword and all his daggers to keep them safe. He'd sat down with Rhaegon once he'd recovered and they'd had a very long, very serious talk about why it wasn't safe for Rhaegon to have his own, real sword until he was old enough to handle the length of one without overbalancing.
"We all make mistakes and we all learn from them." Harry said softly. "We all do things at times without thinking them through first, it's how we handle those things and how we act afterwards that matters the most."
"Will he be okay, though?" Their soft, sweet Valarr asked, his wide green eyes, so much like his own, looked from his brother to his Mother pleadingly.
Harry stood up again and he went to hold his Valarr gently. "He'll be just fine, Valarr. As long as he doesn't play with his arm or the bindings." He said seriously, directing the last to Aenar.
"I won't, Mother." Aenar said. "I want it to come off soon. I don't want to be stuck in it for a year like Aerin was when he broke his wrist."
Their fourth son, Aerin, only distinguishable from his older identical twin brother, Aenys, by his longer hair, scowled at the reminder that when he was eighteen, three years ago now, he had broken his wrist in a tourney. He had not left the bindings alone and he had stubbornly tried to practice his swordsmanship with his broken wrist. He'd been in his bindings for a little under a year…nine and a half turns, and he had been angry and miserable throughout.
"Learn from Aerin's foolishness." Maelor, their only child to take completely after Harry with his black hair and bright green eyes, told Aenar. "He was stupid and didn't listen to Mother."
"Shut up, Maelor!" Aerin burst out.
"Don't you shout at him!" Maella burst out in automatic defence of her twin, looking up from the dress that she was making. "It's not his fault that you were stupid and didn't listen to Mother!"
"Don't call him stupid!" Aenys joined the fight, his infant son, Gwynys, dribbling on his knee, and Harry sighed wearily. The gods truly had been playing a trick on him giving him so many sets of temperamental twins. They fought mostly with each other, but if someone, anyone, turned on their twin, that was it. The both of them turned on that person to devastating effect…unless it was two sets of twins on one another, then things got loud. Really loud.
"Stop it." Harry said lowly, warningly, cutting through their argument before it could escalate to a fight. "Aerin learnt from his injuries, as must Aenar. Maelor, don't tease him about it, he was in constant pain and living with such an injury made it hard to ignore and it was harder to keep his wrist still. If you don't believe so, let me bind up your wrist and you'll see how difficult it is to not move such an important body part."
No one said anything and Baelon broke the tension by walking in from the garden with his own infant son, Aedus. His wife, Joy, was laughing behind him at something that he'd said.
"Aenar, what have you done?" Baelon asked when he caught sight of his younger brother's ashen face and bound arm.
"I broke my arm."
"You climbed the peach tree, didn't you?" Baelon said sternly.
Aenar nodded miserably as his brother Aeron, gently stroked the bindings.
"Aeron, my love, be gentle with your brother's arm." Harry said. "He can't touch it and neither can anyone else."
Aeron pulled his hand away quickly and he looked so upset that Rhaegar swept him up and kissed his cheek.
"Your brother will be fine in just a few turns." Rhaegar told him. "Your Mother is an amazing Maester."
"I'm not truly a Maester." Harry reminded endlessly.
"You have more knowledge and more experience than most true Maesters." Rhaegar said stubbornly and that made Harry laugh.
"Pass me Aedus, let me hold my little grandson." Harry said to Baelon, who strode over and handed him his son, who was finally sleeping.
Harry relished holding such a tiny babe again and he smiled. He would never get to do this again with his own babes, but holding his grandchildren truly helped and he inhaled deeply the scent of Aedus, who smelt clean and fresh, like all new babes did.
They would be going back to Kings Landing soon. They'd had a three turn break, leaving the realm in the hands of their very capable small council and the very abled Hand that they had in Lord Jon Connington. Lord Jon who had never married, had never had his own children and had never given up his desires for Rhaegar, nor the hope that perhaps, one day, Rhaegar would see his love and reciprocate it. Harry had lessened his spite towards him somewhat, but he hadn't given it up entirely. He would always be a jealous man at heart.
Before they went back to the Capital, the seven members of their Kingsguard would arrive here at Summerhall to escort them back…all except for Baelon, Joy and Aedus, who lived here at Summerhall, as Baelon was the Prince of Summerhall and this entire palace was his. Aerin, and his twin brother Aenys, along with his wife Gwyneth and their son Gwynys, were staying with Baelon here, as was Viserys and his wife Arianne for another few turns before they went back to their home on Dragonstone, as Viserys was still the Prince of Dragonstone. He and Rhaegar had never taken that from him in favour of their own children, they had practically raised Viserys as their son, and they had raised Daenerys as their own daughter, they were as much their own children as they were brother and sister. Their Valarr, who had stayed here at Summerhall for the last several turns, now wished to ride back to Kings Landing with them.
It was hard to leave his children all over the Seven Kingdoms, but Rhaegar was right, they were fully grown now, and very soon, all of his children would be fully grown and off living their own lives.
He sighed and smiled at his youngest grandchild so far. None of his children were pregnant or expecting babies that he knew of, but his sister, Daenerys was pregnant with her first child with Ser Oslyn Whent, who according to her last raven was so overprotective that he flapped like an overgrown vulture if she so much as needed to use the privy by herself. It made Harry smile to think about as he thought back to how Rhaegar had acted in those early days, trying to protect him and be with him, but hiding that they were in a relationship and hiding the fact that Harry was pregnant in the first place had made things much more difficult.
Rhaegon's oldest daughter, his four year old Shaea, ran over to him and she held her hands up. Harry smiled and swept her up and sat her on his knee.
"Is baby Aedus hungry?" She cooed, looking at her tiny cousin.
"No, darling. He's very sleepy now. He needs his rest." Harry told her.
"He's cried himself to sleep then?" The twenty-nine year old Viserys asked as he strolled into the solar. "Thank the Seven for that."
"He has, now what is this about you threatening to throw him off a balcony?" Harry asked sternly.
"I was only jesting." Viserys waved away. "I went down to see the dragons instead."
"How are those two clutches of eggs?" Harry asked.
Viserys smiled excitedly. "It won't be long before they hatch. Saera wouldn't even let me go near her clutch and Pyrexian is little better, but I checked all five eggs and they are still as beautiful as ever and all undamaged."
"Can I have my own dragon with this clutch?" Rhaegon asked excitedly. "I'm a Father now, I can look after a dragon too!" He insisted.
Harry and Rhaegar shared a look, teasing their son. They'd already decided that their Rhaegon deserved his own personal dragon with this new clutch.
"I think that perhaps it is time that we trusted you with your own dragon." Rhaegar told their son.
"You can pick one when they hatch." Harry added.
"Truly?" Rhaegon asked excitedly. "Aunt Daenerys has her own dragon and she's younger than I am, do I finally get my own?"
"Your Aunt Daenerys is living away in Harrenhal, we wanted her to have some personal protection and Vhaerys loved the two year old Daenerys almost from hatching, the two of them are inseparable. Do you remember, Rhaegar?"
Rhaegar smiled and it made Harry's heart lighten, he loved that smile on Rhaegar's beautiful face.
"I remember this tiny, regal purple and silver tinted speck that looked like a lizard with overlarge wings clambering all over poor Daenerys and following every single step that she made." Rhaegar recalled fondly.
"That is why your Aunt Daenerys has Vhaerys, he wanted her from the moment of his hatching. He chose her himself and he would rebel if we tried to separate them. But you're five-and-twenty now, Rhaegon my love, it's about time that you had your own dragon to rear."
"I hope for the blue and purple egg, the one that's in Pyrexian's clutch." Rhaegon said wistfully. "But truly, I'd be happy with any one of them."
"You'd be better off going and spending some time with them, Rhaegon." Rhaegar advised their son. "Daenerys and Vhaerys have such a strong bond because she liked to cradle his egg when she was sleeping, she would cry if we tried to take it from her or if she woke up without it in her arms if we'd taken it the night. He got used to her and her voice before he'd even hatched. So he naturally went looking for her once he'd hatched and was able to move himself around."
"Do you think Pyrexian would allow me to take the egg to sleep with it? Vhaerys was one of your eggs, Mother."
"Pyrexian allows us to handle her eggs, as does Saera. At the end of the day, I birthed them myself, the eggs they have had are my grandchildren too, so they allow Rhaegar and I to handle them, they're just a bit wary if anyone else approaches them." Harry explained.
"If you came down with either myself or your Mother, then Pyrexian might be a little more receptive to your approach, Rhaegon. Just let Pyrexian nurse and rear the hatchling for a week or two and then you can have him." Rhaegar explained. "It'll be easier on them both if you aren't unsupervised with the eggs, they worry otherwise."
Rhaegon nodded excitedly and he went back to his youngest daughter.
"Does that mean I can have my own dragon?" Baelon asked. "I know I am their guardian as Summerhall is mine and the dragons stay here at Summerhall with me, but I don't have a dragon to call my own."
Harry chuckled. "I hope you aren't conspiring to have all of my children taken from me."
"I think that Baelon should have his own egg." Rhaegar told him. "He's old enough and responsible enough now."
Harry hummed, looking from his brother-husband to his son. They were both so alike with their silver hair and purple eyes.
"Perhaps, we shall see." Harry said calmly. "But a warning to the both of you boys when you do eventually get your first egg, if you mistreat those eggs or the hatchlings then they will be taken from you immediately and you will never get another one, ever." He said seriously.
"I wouldn't mistreat one!" Rhaegon said immediately, utterly aghast at the thought.
"Of course not!" Baelon agreed with his older brother. "What a disgusting thought, Mother!"
Harry nodded. "Good. You reacted exactly as you were supposed to."
"Let that go!" Maella shouted out. "I mean it, Aeron!"
Harry looked over with a sigh to see his youngest son pulling on the sleeve of the dress that Maella was making for herself.
"Aeron." He called out sternly. "Maella has been making that dress for three turns! Don't you dare tear it."
"I only wanted to see what she'd done differently today!" Aeron protested his innocence. He was very clearly bored now that his twin couldn't play with him. Aenar was dozing in a soft chair, slumped over slightly as the milk of the poppy made him sleepy and drowsy now that he was no longer in any pain.
"Then you need to ask!" Maella told her younger brother huffily, rolling her green eyes. "I have a needle in my hand and I was using it when you started pulling on my dress!"
The sixteen year old Maella patted the seat next to her and her eight year old brother sat beside her as she started pointing out everything new that she had added to her dress and she started talking about what she was going to do next.
Harry suspected that poor Aeron was bored to tears, he had no interest in dresses or how they were made or any other needlework, but Maella was a better prospect than sitting by himself or reading…much to his parent's horror, their youngest son had absolutely no desire to pick up any sort of book to read it. The last book that he had willingly touched had been used as a weapon to throw at Maelor.
Harry stood up and he kissed Rhaegar.
"Keep an eye on Aenar, if any problems arise, come for me immediately. I'm going down to check on the five eggs." He said softly. "Keep these demons under control."
Rhaegar gave him a loving look. "Of course. Let me know if Aelyx has come back. He's been gone for four days and I'm worried."
"If he's not back yet, I will take Balerion to find him."
"Make sure that that mountain hasn't crushed anymore walls." Rhaegar added.
Harry laughed, remembering fondly back to when Balerion had first come to Summerhall, when it was newly built, and had promptly put in a brand new doorway for himself…right through a wall. Rhaegar had never forgotten, nor forgiven, their Balerion the Moving Mountain.
He made his way down to the dragon caves underneath the palace. He and Rhaegar had had them carved out when their first seven babies had grown bigger and needed a place to sleep that was safe. Over the years their own dragons had made them wider and had dug them deeper underground and further out into the Dornish Marshes. The biggest cave had been burrowed straight through, so that it served as an exit and an entrance for their dragons. He had been worried about this at first, as just anyone could walk in and take one of the younger dragons or the eggs, but Rhaegar had laughed at his fears. His husband had pointed out logically that absolutely no one in their right mind would ever willingly walk into a cave that housed twelve dragons, two of them currently nesting Mothers. Rhaegar was right, of course. Anyone who dared even come close to the cave mouth would be squashed, incinerated or swallowed whole by any one of the twelve adult dragons that swarmed the area. Balerion in particular enjoyed bathing himself in the bright, hot sunlight, his head right by the entrance to the caves so that he could do as Harry and Rhaegar had asked him to do and look out for his brothers, and his current two sisters.
He made it to the stone steps that lead down underneath the palace and he could hear the roars and shrieks already. His dragon babes were as temperamental and as loud as his babes upstairs, it made him smile.
He reached the huge, heavy doors that were propped open, allowing for his babes to come upstairs if they wished. It was normal to come face to face with a dragon in the corridors of Summerhall, it was why the guards here always stayed behind closed doors and why the servants had their own tunnels and staircases that were smaller and narrower, so that the dragons couldn't get through them.
Harry heard the purrs of pleasure as his babes smelt him coming and he was mobbed as he came out into the wide, cavernous social area of the caves.
"Alright." He laughed as the huge dragons nudged him and batted at him with their wings and snouts. "I've missed you all too."
He scratched at a multitude of different coloured scales, hearing the grunts and croaks of pleasure as he hit a soft spot with his nails.
"Have you all eaten?" He asked.
The dragons didn't so much as reply to his question as they didn't react to it, which indicated to him that they were all well fed. Usually if one was hungering they would lower themselves down in front of him at the mention of eating, indicating their hunger. He and Rhaegar had taught them well.
"Has Aelyx come back?" He asked, looking for the black dragon who had hints of gold and red upon him and not seeing him. He bit his lip, even as several dragons raised their heads and shrieked, calling for their missing brother.
Harry went looking through all of the tunnels and their ending rounded caves. He found his beautiful green and bronze Rhaelys sleeping at the end of one, pale steam rising from his nostrils with every breath. The nesting Saera was in another rounded cave and Harry took a moment to check over her two eggs, holding them gently and giving them a kiss under the watchful blue eyes of their Mother before he carried on, checking the other caves and tunnels, once again taking the time to check over the stunningly red Pyrexian and her three eggs. Aelyx was not in any of the tunnels or caves and as he made his way through the rather long and monstrously large tunnel that led to the outside, he tried not to panic as thoughts spun in his mind as to what could have happened to his eighth dragon.
He came out into the blinding, blistering sun and he took a moment to shield his eyes and accustom to the wash of heat and light after the cool, dark tunnels. A deafening rumble preceded a nudge of a snout that almost bowled him from his feet and Harry turned, smiling up at his Balerion, who had earned himself the name the Moving Mountain. Harry could see where people were coming from with that epithet, Balerion truly did look like a mountain as the ginormous dragon blinked open brilliant red eyes and rumbled again, sounding more like a thunderstorm than anything living, but Harry's gaze softened and he smiled lovingly up at the dragon who had suckled at his own milk, from his own breasts, as a newly hatched baby who was barely bigger than a cat.
"Balerion." He said, reaching a hand out to touch the snout that had lowered down to his level. "I love you. How are you?"
Balerion shrieked happily at his declaration of love and the sound almost pierced Harry's eardrums, but he endured it, he was used to it by now as Balerion and his four brothers, Viserion, Rhaelys, Pyrexian and Xeraxys were now twenty-two years old, though Pyrexian chose to be a female more often than a male, so she was more of a sister.
"Have you eaten?"
Balerion shrieked again, ending with a low rumble and he dipped down. Harry truly should have known better. Balerion was always hungry.
"Come on then, take me with you. I want to look for your brother Aelyx."
Balerion uncurled himself from the top of the mouth of the cave and he stretched, completely blocking out the sun and casting Harry in his dark shadow for several moments, before he lowered himself right down and allowed Harry to climb him like a tree. He settled himself between the two red horns on top of Balerion's massive head and he stood carefully, holding on tightly. He dug in the heel of his right foot to indicate to Balerion that he was ready.
Flying on Balerion was always a heart stopping experience. There was nothing to stop him from falling to his death, nothing to stop Balerion from pitching him off over the mountains, over the Sea of Dorne or even as far out as over the Summer Sea. It was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.
Their Moving Mountain refused to wear any sort of saddle like his brothers and instead they had to ride him bare. As such only he or Rhaegar could ride Balerion, they wouldn't allow their children to ride him. Harry didn't think his heart would take the strain if he had to watch one of his children set off bareback on Balerion.
Harry looked down and he could see the landscape rushing past underneath them, he could see the sea from here and he directed Balerion to the dragons' hunting grounds. Several massive penned fields where he and Rhaegar paid two dozen smallfolk to continuously breed a large number of pigs, cows and sheep for their dragons' consumption. Anyone caught stealing an animal from these fields were penalised heavily…after all, as he always told them as they pleaded starvation and desperation, if the dragons started to starve, they'd look elsewhere for their food. If they had no livestock readily available to eat, they'd eat anything, including people and more often than not those who stole the livestock from the hunting grounds, were those people living closest to it, thus they and their families would be the first to be devoured as a result of their theft.
He and Rhaegar had had their hands full teaching the dragons, particularly their first five, purely because there had been so many of them at the same stage of life as they had all been hatched together. But one of their teachings was to stop the dragons from seeing humans as food. They would always go for a sheep or a cow first, but if they had nothing left to hunt then Harry was absolutely sure that they would then eat anything that moved. Horses, deer…children. No one would be safe if the dragons ran out of their food supply, which was why they accepted any donations of livestock from anywhere. Lame horses, unbreedable livestock, or even perfectly good livestock that other realms gave to them to keep them sweet. They had kept to their solemn promise though, they did not use their dragons as a method of execution. The Kings' Justice was still carried out by the sword, or by hot pincers.
Balerion shrieked and landed in one of the fields, scattering large, plump cows and Harry held on tight as his boy immediately started hunting, gripping cows in his mouth and swallowing them all but whole. He ate four before he stopped and let out a grunt.
"Eat, Balerion." Harry said sternly. "You eat until you are full."
They'd been through this routine before. Balerion would only eat enough to abate his hunger for a short while. It was almost as if he felt guilty for eating too much, because he shared with his eleven brothers. He always left food for them and it made Harry so proud, but it wasn't necessary. They had enough surplus livestock to feed Balerion well, they'd recently started breeding deer and goats and they even had two smaller pens that contained boar and oxen. They had more than enough and with the smallfolk breeding the animals, naturally keeping the pregnant animals and the young indoors, away from the feeding fields and the hunting dragons, Balerion's restraint in feeding was just causing more harm than it was doing any good.
Harry watched everything that Balerion ate, counting it, urging him to gorge himself as they moved from the cows to the large, plump pigs.
It took Balerion an age to feed to Harry's satisfaction and when Balerion started playing with the food before he ate it, that was when he knew that his boy had truly had enough to eat. He let Balerion finish off the last of the pig carcass that he had been playing with and then he pulled on both horns to indicate for him to stop.
"Come on, Balerion. We need to find your brother Aelyx."
Balerion shook himself and Harry held on tightly, praying to the Seven that he didn't plummet to his death. Thankfully he stayed put and Balerion stretched himself out and then took several running steps and took flight, his massive black wings stretching out wide.
Harry kept his eyes peeled for Aelyx, very concerned for his babe, wondering where he was and why he'd gone so far. It wasn't like any of his babes to fly so far from home and it gave him an uneasy feeling deep in his gut. He didn't like this at all, something was seriously wrong, he could feel it.
As they started reaching populated areas, smallfolk looked up with dread when they were cast in a deep, dark shadow…only one thing could completely block out the sun and cast them in complete darkness and it sent them running and screaming as they saw the Moving Mountain flying overhead.
Balerion landed at Highgarden with a thump that shook the ground and Balerion let out a loud, ear piercing shriek of a call, but he dropped down onto his belly, letting his head drop to the green grass when directed so that Harry could slip down and go towards the gates of Highgarden. He was unimpeded as he walked the roads, most people too terrified of the sudden appearance of Balerion to venture outside, even when they saw Haradarian the Heart walking the streets.
He made it to the castle and he grinned as a small boy came pelting out to meet him. He swung the boy up into his arms and kissed his forehead.
"Garyn, it's wonderful to see you again." He told his six year old grandson genuinely.
"You never sent a raven!" Garyn said excitedly. "I would have been looking out for you if I'd known that you were coming!"
Harry chuckled and put the excited boy down and took his hand instead. He greeted his beautiful daughter with a tight hug and a kiss to her rouged lips.
"You look beautiful, Helaena." He told her before turning to his good-son. "Willas, how are you?"
"Your Grace. You honour us with a visit to Highgarden. Please come and refresh yourself."
Harry snorted. "You're my good-son, Willas. You have married to my beautiful, kind, intelligent daughter, that makes you family too."
Regardless Harry followed the Tyrells down to an open garden and they sat at a large wicker table, servants bringing out light, summer wine and plump, fresh fruit. Harry had Garyn up on his lap, holding his grandson tightly. The boy had the Tyrell looks, like his Father, but he had Helaena's bright purple eyes, which made for a very, very odd combination. Pale brown and bright purple did not go so well together, but it did make Garyn rather striking.
"Is anything the matter?" Helaena asked worriedly as soon as Harry had taken a sip of wine. "Is Father alright?"
"He's fine. I left him wrangling the beasts back at Summerhall…of course he's watching over the remaining dragons too." He jested with a smile. "Though Aenar has broken his arm, he climbed a peach tree."
Helaena gasped, her purple eyes widening. "He'll be alright though, won't he?"
"Of course, I've already set the bone and given him milk of the poppy. He'll be fine as long as he rests and doesn't play with his bindings or move his arm about. I've warned Aeron to be gentle with him too."
"You wouldn't have left him lightly in such a state."
Harry sighed. He often said that Helaena was his most intelligent daughter, such a thing was up for debate, but there was absolutely no denying that she was his most observant child. She could pick up on the slightest change of body language or mood and she could hone in on the problem like Balerion would hunt down his prey from the sky.
"Aelyx is missing." He said, brief and straight to the point. "Has he passed this way at all?"
"How long has he been missing?" Helaena asked.
"Four days now. We have the guards looking out for him and they haven't seen him come back. He's not in the palace, he's not in the dragon caves or in the surrounding area. The smallfolk who watch over the feeding fields haven't seen him eating there for the length of time that he's been missing. Your Father and I are worried now, so I've come out to look for him."
"I haven't seen him pass by." Willas insisted. "I'll go and ask Garlan and Loras."
Willas stood and he hurried off to find his two younger brothers. Harry sighed and drank another gulp of sweet, summer wine.
"Do you think it's the Maesters?" Helaena asked softly.
Harry put his curled fist to his mouth and said nothing for a moment as he thought hard, before moving back and dropping his hand back to his wine goblet. "I hope not, Helaena. If they have taken Aelyx as a captive, if they have found a way to imprison him and to kill him…no good can come of this. Aelyx isn't the most tame of our hatched dragons. He is trained, of course, but if we have any choice, we will not ride him as he dislikes it, much like Balerion dislikes having a riding saddle."
"Will you take me up on Balerion, Nan?" Garyn asked and Harry smiled down at him, patting his head gently.
"Once you're older." Harry told him. "You know you're not old enough yet. You need to be how old?"
Garyn sighed unhappily. "Six-and-ten." He answered miserably.
"Exactly." Harry said. "But…"
Garyn perked up so quickly that Harry had to laugh.
"Saera and Pyrexian have had our first clutch of eggs that haven't come from me. Saera has two, Pyrexian has three. Perhaps if you come to Summerhall once they've hatched and grown a little bigger you can ride one of the hatchlings like a pony. As your Mother did when she was a girl."
"It was Aedys whom I always rode. I was about your age too, Garyn." She said with a soft, reminiscent smile. "Aelyx was hatched just before Aedys, wasn't he, Mother?"
Harry nodded. "Aelyx, Aedys and Maegon were all born within a few turns of one another in the same year."
"Can I really?" Garyn asked excitedly.
Harry laughed and nodded. "Of course. You'll have to fight your cousins and your Uncles and Aunts, but yes, you can ride them once they're big enough. We have to get them used to humans as part of their training."
Willas came back with his two brothers, Garlan and Loras, his sister Margaery, and the tall, rather stunning Renly Baratheon, who had chosen to be known as a Tyrell, completely eradicating his name. Harry was sure that he'd only done it so that he and Loras could pretend at being married, as he and Rhaegar were married.
He was well able to recognise the looks between them, not to mention the servants gossiped like no other. It was well known, but kept quiet, that Loras and Renly were involved with one another very, very intimately.
"It is good to see you." Garlan the Gallant greeted him genuinely.
"When did you get so tall, Garlan!" He teased. "You were a chubby babe playing around my feet with Rhaegon not a week past."
Garlan snorted and hugged him. Harry hugged him back tightly.
"Willas said that one of the dragons is missing?" Renly asked. He wasn't quite so passive anymore, Harry was sure that the young, beautiful Loras had had a hand in helping with that.
"Aelyx has been missing for a few days now. Rhaegar and I are rather worried. We don't allow them to wander too far, or for so long. They know not to stay out this long and it's rare that they ever stay out overnight. It gets cold in Summerhall and they prefer to stay in the caves, where their combined heat will keep them warm. It's abnormal for any of them to be gone for more than a day, but for four? Something is very wrong, I just know it."
"I haven't seen any dragon passing by and I haven't heard anyone saying as such, but he might have done so at night." Margaery said shrewdly. "Is Aelyx one of the silent fliers?"
Harry nodded. "Aelyx is rather quiet for a dragon. Xeraxys will let you know where he is at every moment of the day, but Aelyx was quieter, if he makes a noise it's often a small chirrup. If Xeraxys is our loudest, then Aelyx is certainly our quietest."
"Are you going to see if he's gone back to Kings Landing?" Helaena asked.
Harry nodded. "If he hasn't gone back to Kings Landing, or to Harrenhal, then I have no idea where he's gone, or even if he's gone there by himself, but I would venture that he hasn't. None of them wander off for this long without a purpose."
"You think he's been captured." Willas said perceptively.
Harry bit on his lip. "I think so. It's just too unusual." He said. "We have trained them so well, impeccably. They know what they can do, what they can't and where they can go. Aelyx disliked being ridden, but he was never disobedient."
"Would it be the Lannisters?" Loras asked.
Harry hadn't thought of that and he wondered if he would have to kill Kevan Lannister straight up. Lancel, his oldest son, was a squire, not a very good one, but he was very quiet and soft having grown up at the Twins under the oppression of the Freys and his rather formidable Aunt Genna. He and Rhaegar had deemed him as a non-threat.
Kevan had two other sons, however. Willem and Martyn Lannister, the twins. They had been left with their Mother and Father. Harry was wondering now if that hadn't been a mistake. Obara Sand, Oberyn's oldest bastard daughter, was currently at Casterly Rock to keep an eye on the Lannisters after her Father had gotten bored of his role as Castellan when Tyrion had come of age and had become the Lord proper of Casterly Rock, but she hadn't reported any incidents or anything that had caused her any concern. The Lannisters had been quiet…perhaps looking back on things they were too quiet.
Then there was Cersei Lannister, who was rumoured to be keeping her hated husband dosed with poison so that their son, Jaime Mallery, could rule the Vale and become the Warden of the East while his Father, Lord Amory, was stuck in his sick bed, but no Maester who had been sent to cure the ailing Lord Mallery could find anything wrong with him. They all insisted that there was nothing to cure and they had never seen the likes of his illness before. There was unrest in the Vale due to this perceived manipulation and Harry could almost feel another rebellion brewing.
Robb Stark was a loyal, wonderful, kind young man and he was still the Heir to Winterfell, over his brother-cousins, Brandon and Rickon Stark, who had been born after Eddard Stark's widow, Catelyn, had married his younger brother Benjen, the current Lord of Winterfell until Harry and Rhaegar deemed otherwise, but Robb wasn't ready to go to the North yet. He wanted to stay in Kings Landing and learn more first. His Mother sent him a raven at least once every turn begging him to come home and while he had taken to writing to her back, he had always refused to go Winterfell, the kingdom that he was the Heir of, but where he had never actually set foot before.
"It could be, but I'm more concerned with the Maesters." Harry said wearily. "We have refused them so many times over their requests to study our dragons that I believe that they've found a way to take one. We would have heard of Westermen in the Stormlands, but men of the Reach being near Summerhall is normal, it's common. So anyone sent from the Citadel would have been unnoticed."
"How would they have taken Aelyx, Mother?" Helaena asked. "They couldn't have flown him, he would not have gone. They could not have dragged him there in ropes or chains, someone would have seen it. There isn't a cart in the whole world that could have borne the weight of him. How did they take him and get him to where he is being kept?"
Harry shook his head. "That is something that I don't know, Helaena, which worries me. Aelyx is distrustful of humans, he would have taken flight if one had approached him. I don't know what they've used or done to take him, but I need to find him."
"You have all the force of the Reach behind you." Willas pledged formally. "If you believe that Aelyx is in the Citadel, I will send my men to search for him. It is not like they can easily hide a dragon."
Harry smiled. "Thank you, Willas." He said gratefully. "I'll call back in after I've searched Kings Landing and Harrenhal. The one time previously that we lost a dragon was when Rhaelys flew to Sunspear to visit Viserion. I am hoping that maybe Aelyx was missing Vhaerys and has flown to Harrenhal to visit him."
"Do you truly believe that?" Helaena asked him.
He smiled weakly. "It keeps me from outright panicking, sweet one. Only after I have searched and cannot find him, will I panic and order him to be found by any means necessary. Until then we are acting merely as if he has gone off on his own, but Dany has not sent word that he is there with her, and I fully believe that if Aelyx had turned up at Harrenhal, then she would have sent a raven, as Viserys did when Rhaelys turned up at Sunspear without a rider."
"I hope he is at Kings Landing or Harrenhal." Margaery said graciously.
Harry inclined his head. He hoped so too, but he couldn't shake the feeling that this had nothing to do with Aelyx missing Vhaerys and everything to do with the Maesters who wanted to study the dragons and find a way to eradicate them once more, as they had done to the last Targaryen dragons. He was glad to have the support of Willas and Highgarden, he would need it if he was to take on the Citadel.
An ear piercing roar sounded from below and off into the distance and Harry rolled his eyes.
"Is he okay?" Garyn asked, his young face crumpled with worry.
"He's fine, stop your fretting, sweetness. People have probably tried to approach him and he's just showing off for them, warning them not to come any closer."
"I'd be surprised if anyone had approached Balerion, Mother." Helaena said.
"You'd be surprised, Helaena, at how much force curiosity has." Willas told his wife.
"He's right." Harry said. "We see it all the time, particularly at Kings Landing. They sort of hover or linger around, even knowing that it's dangerous, they do it anyway and that's normal curiosity. If they approach him however, then that's just plain stupidity. There is a difference."
"Can I see Balerion?" Garyn asked.
"If your Mother and Father allow it." Harry said.
"You're the King!" Garyn said, aghast.
"And in this I will not overrule your parents, my own daughter and good-son." Harry said sternly. "You do as they say, against the King or not."
Helaena laughed lightly. "I don't see any problem in it. Willas, what do you think, darling?"
Willas looked at his young, earnest son, who was all but pleading with him silently, with a smile that lit up those brown eyes.
"I'm not sure." He played slowly.
"Please, Father!" Garyn begged. "Please! I'll be with Grandmother, he won't let me be harmed!"
"Oh, go on then." Willas chuckled. Garyn cheered and took Harry's hand and tried to pull him down to the streets and back out to Balerion.
Harry pulled him back and lifted the boy into his arms.
"Not so fast, I haven't finished my wine." He teased.
"Don't tease him so, Mother!" Helaena chastised, even as her husband and good-brothers laughed at his trick.
"Come on then. Let us go and pay a visit to the Moving Mountain."
Harry led the procession down to Balerion with an excited Garyn on his hand. He had been correct, people were indeed peeking out of the city gates and staring at Balerion as he slept on the grounds just outside of Highgarden. A group of children were throwing stones at him.
"What would you do if he turned and ate you?" He demanded as he came up behind the boys, they turned quickly and then paled as they took in the red, three headed dragon on his black doublet, and the Lord and Lady of Highgarden stood just behind him.
"He…he wouldn't, m'lord."
"That is Your Grace." Loras said to the boys sternly. "This is King Haradarian that you are addressing and his dragon that you are abusing."
"Balerion is rather patient." Harry said. "But if you throw stones at any animal, or a person for that matter, eventually they're going to turn on you. If one of those stones hit Balerion where he'd actually feel it, his eye for example, he would be up and on you before you could even turn around. He would have eaten you whole. Do not throw stones at him, or any dragon you come across."
"Ye…yes, Your Grace." The young boy swallowed and Harry shooed him and his little friends off.
Harry moved over to Balerion and he held Garyn's hand tightly as the boy tried to run off towards him. Smallfolk watched from little hide holes as Harry nudged Balerion and cooed to him. The huge, jet black dragon with red accents woke up with a lazy yawn and he opened red eyes to peer at them. He grunted when he caught sight of Helaena and he nudged her insistently, purring.
"Mother, he likes you!" Garyn said in wonder.
"Of course, your Mother grew up with Balerion." Harry said with a smile. "She was nearly two when Balerion and his brothers were hatched."
"Mother is older than the dragons."
"Than all of them, yes." Harry replied. "Come here."
Harry picked up Garyn and held him tight under the arms as Balerion turned to nuzzle the six year old's belly with his massive snout and Garyn squealed and wriggled. His uncles laughed at him, but Harry kissed Garyn's cheek and let him get used to the rather rough, forceful nuzzling of the dragons.
He showed Garyn how to scratch at the dragon's scales and how to avoid being stepped on, before he had to cut his fleeting visit short.
"I'll see you soon." He promised as he kissed his daughter, hugged his good-son and did both to his grandson.
"Drop back in after you've been to Kings Landing and Harrenhal." Helaena insisted. "Let me know if you've found Aelyx. Say hello to Aunt Daenerys for me."
"Of course." Harry said as he mounted Balerion, holding the red horns tightly.
He indicated for Balerion to go up and his biggest boy took several running steps before spreading his wings and taking off. Kings Landing was closer than Harrenhal, so he set a course there first. He would look in on his small council, make sure that things were running smoothly, and of course he'd check to see if the missing Aelyx was there first, before he went over to visit Daenerys and his friends, the Whents, at Harrenhal.
"Can you smell Aelyx, Balerion?" He shouted as loudly as he could over the rushing wind.
He could hear that Balerion took in an extra deep breath, but Balerion showed no reaction. He couldn't smell his brother.
Harry was stiff and sore when he dismounted at Kings Landing, Balerion going right through the open roof into the rebuilt Dragonpit on the top of Rhaenys' Hill.
He checked through the entire Dragonpit, but he found nothing, not a single sign that any dragon had been in here since Harry and Rhaegar had gone south to Summerhall three turns before. He sighed worriedly.
"Take a rest, Balerion." He said gently. "I won't be long."
He walked stiffly from Rhaenys' Hill to Aegon's, where the Red Keep was situated, working out the kinks and aches in his muscles as he did so. He hated riding bare without a saddle, his legs felt like water and his back was aching with a persistent, painful throb with every footfall.
"Your Grace, what are you doing back so soon?"
Of course Lord Jon Connington would have come to greet him as soon as Balerion's considerable shadow had passed over Kings Landing. He had likely been hoping that it was Rhaegar who had come…Harry more often rode on Daegon or Xeraxys after all. Balerion was usually Rhaegar's chosen mount.
"Have any dragons passed this way?" He asked urgently, in a whisper.
"I…no." Jon said, blinking in surprise. "Of course not. What has happened?"
"Our Aelyx has gone missing. We had hoped that he might have come here, or that he's gone to Harrenhal. He wasn't at Highgarden."
"How do you lose a dragon?" Jon demanded of him.
Harry shot him a look that that out of turn comment deserved. "He has been missing for four days now and Rhaegar and I are worried. We've decided to come looking for him, but we believe that the Maesters are involved and that they have found a way to imprison Aelyx and have him at the Citadel."
Harry shook his head. "I don't know, but if that's what has actually happened, then I'll find out and I'll kill all of those involved."
"You can't kill all the Maesters."
"If all of the Maesters are involved, all of them will be executed." Harry said firmly, stubbornly.
"Is angrier than I am." Harry snapped. "Do not try to tell me that you know what my husband wants better than I do."
"Ser Barristan, you are supposed to be taking a rest." Harry said sternly, but with no heat as he smiled, genuinely happy to see the man, who was back to wearing his white scale armour and the pure white cloak of his sworn brotherhood.
"I can rest when I am dead, Your Grace." Barristan said easily. "I am the Lord Commander, it is only right that I am here first to plan your escort home."
"Aelyx has gone missing, Ser. Rhaegar and I suspect the Maesters of Oldtown, but we have no proof. We are looking for him currently. I've checked Highgarden, he's not here. If he's not at Harrenhal, we'll have no other choice but to assume that the Maesters of the Citadel has taken him. Willas has already sworn that he will send the might of the Reach to the Citadel to find Aelyx, he's right, they can't hide him easily. Aelyx isn't the size of Balerion, but he's still a large eight-and-ten year old dragon. He's not going to fit in most normal buildings."
"It would be more proper to have Willas invade Oldtown." Jon said diplomatically. "It is a part of the Reach, and thus it falls into Willas' Kingdom. If he were to search for Aelyx it would not be so invasive than if you or Rhaegar flew there and did it yourselves."
Harry nodded. "I would have done so if needed. I will not abandon one of my babes to his fate at the hands of those cruel Maesters. They could be doing the Seven knows what to him, they could have already hurt him and I won't stand for it."
"How would they have even captured him?" Barristan asked as they made it through to the small council room.
Harry sat at the head of the table and he shook his head.
"I don't know and that terrifies me. Aelyx is one of our most distrustful of dragons. He would not have wandered off and he usually takes flight as soon as anyone unknown approaches him, or even if he just doesn't feel like company. I don't know how they've gotten him or how they're keeping him, but I will get my babe back."
"Speaking of babes, I refused another suitor for Naerys while you were away, this one from Tyrosh. I hope I did not overstep." Jon said.
Harry growled, getting more like a dragon with each passing year. "Why can't these vile men understand that she is not yet flowered?" He demanded angrily. "When she is ready, then we will put out word ourselves for any suitors for her to come forward! I've had enough of them asking for her to be married off when she is but a girl! She has more care for her hair than for a husband at the moment, she is too fucking young!"
He thumped his fist into the table top and tried not to grind his teeth.
"No, I've had enough of this now. I want a list made up of all those who have asked for Naerys' hand before we have officially announced our intentions of looking for a suitor for her." He said suddenly.
"Your Grace?" Jon questioned the strange order.
"I want every single one of them noted down, all of them, Jon. I will then show the list to Naerys and explain to her that these men had tried to steal her childhood from her."
"You would turn her away from her potential suitors." Jon said, suddenly understanding.
"No, but I would have her understand that such a man would not make a good husband." He said seriously. "If she still chooses one of them, that is then her decision, but if I can turn her away from them before she makes a mistake, I will do so."
He took a deep breath and got himself back on track. Naerys wasn't going anywhere until she was a flowered woman of at least sixteen or seventeen, of which she wasn't yet. He had more important, pressing matters to attend to first.
"I am going to fly to Harrenhal." He said. "Aelyx is not here. I need to make sure that he is not at Harrenhal before sending word to Willas to invade Oldtown."
"It is getting dark, Your Grace." Barristan said worriedly and Harry could see how unhappy he was with his plan.
Harry shook his head. "I'm not leaving Aelyx to suffer, Ser." He said softly. "He is my own babe. Thinking of him in pain hurts and angers me. Just the thought of him being hurt or scared is enough to make me want to tear apart the entire Seven Kingdoms to find him. The sooner I fly to Harrenhal, the sooner I'll know to speak to Willas about sending in his men to search the Citadel. If they think that they'll get away with this…" He trailed off, breathing heavily.
The Maesters were trying to think of themselves as something that they were not, and he was going to put them right back into their place, just as he and Rhaegar had done with the Faith of the Seven when the newly raised High Septon had opposed their marriage, their ruling, their children and their dragons several years before, after the old High Septon had died. He hadn't been quite so vocal once he'd had his head stuck in Balerion's mouth and Kingsfire pressed to his fat belly. After that incident he had not said a word against them, too frightened of the threat to roast him alive in dragonfire and then feed him to the starving homeless down in Flea Bottom, who had no care for where their meat came from as long as they ate something to fill their empty bellies.
"Your Grace! I had heard that you were back, are you well?" Grand Maester Gormon hurried in. "Is it another babe?"
Harry smiled despite himself. "No. Rhaegar and I are done with babes now. We're going to enjoy our grandchildren from here on in. No, Aelyx has been missing for four days. We suspect that he's been imprisoned and we want him back safely. I want to call a small council meeting, Willas is going to send his men to Oldtown to search for Aelyx, but I would feel better if it was debated about beforehand. I always think better when debating and I need to see from all sides. I need to fly to Harrenhal first though, just in case Aelyx went to visit Daenerys and Vhaerys. I don't believe that he has, as we've had no word from Dany that he's turned up there, but just in case, I need to check."
"Would he have gone to Dragonstone?" Jon asked.
Harry shook his head. "You would have heard him calling. He's a quiet dragon but no dragon will stay silent for three consecutive days."
As if to prove his point they heard a screeching roar echo from the other end of Kings Landing as Balerion made himself at home. He disliked being stuck in the Dragonpit, but at least it was open to the sky now and not covered with a domed roof as it had been before, but Harry had told him to stay, so he would stay unless he felt threatened. Then Harry would fully expect him to take flight and defend himself. He had taught all of his dragons this, which is why he was so stunned, and terrified, that Aelyx was missing and presumed captured.
Balerion roared again and Harry cocked his head in confusion, listening to his noises, trying to discern if he was distressed or just unsettled in the Dragonpit. A third roar and Harry knew that something was wrong and he panicked. Balerion was noisy, he was always roaring and screeching and grunting to assert dominance over his brothers, or to scare people away from him, but no one should be anywhere near the Dragonpit, Rhaenys' Hill was a restricted area.
He leapt up from his seat and he started running as fast as he could, pushing his sore, tired body hard. He took half the time to get back to the Dragonpit on Rhaenys' Hill than he had taken to get to the Red Keep and in that time Balerion had roared and screeched several more times. Each time Harry had forced himself to run even faster.
Harry entered the Dragonpit to see, at a quick, rough count, two dozen men surrounding Balerion and he curled his hands into tight fists.
"What in the Seven hells do you think that you are doing?!" He demanded furiously. "This is a restricted area for all but the royal family."
The men spun to the side, to look at him after his angry outburst, but unwilling to turn their back on Balerion. The one man who spun fully to face Harry, foolishly forgetting that it would mean putting an enraged dragon at his back, lost his life when Balerion singled him out immediately and had bitten him in half before Harry could tell him not to.
"Those beasts have terrorised us for the last time!" One man yelled, all but shitting himself as he stared in a horrified fascination at his friend's bloodied lower legs lying forlornly on the stone floor, all that now remained of him.
"Terrorised you? How have they done as such?!" He demanded. "They have attacked no one without provocation, they have stolen no livestock, they have damaged nothing. How are they terrorising anyone?"
"I believe that he means the very threat of them is terrorising, Your Grace." Jon said. He had kept himself in good shape over the years and he had followed easily when Harry had taken off running towards the Dragonpit, and despite being an old man, so too had Barristan Selmy, who's sword was out, ready to defend his King.
"Have you known about this unrest?" He demanded of his and Rhaegar's Hand.
"There has always been talk, as you well know." Jon told him. "But I had not heard about any suicide ventures to assault the Dragonpit."
"It was a success the last time!" One of the other men shouted. "When the Dragonpit was ruined and those dragons inside killed!"
Harry scoffed. "The Dragonpit was assaulted by thousands of smallfolk at that time, and a great many of them lost their lives in the attempt. I count you at a little under two dozen. You are lucky that I came when I did, Balerion would have killed you all and we would have found nothing left of you but red smears on the stone."
"Shall I arrest them, your Grace?" Jon asked, indicating the dozen gold cloaks that had followed their flight through Kings Landing from Aegon's Hill to Rhaenys'.
"I believe that that would be a kindness to them, yes." Harry said, his heart now calming. "I want all of them questioned under any means that Ser Ardwell deems necessary. I will have from their mouths the name of where this unrest has started. I do not believe that a dozen smallfolk thought to assault the Dragonpit off of their own backs and with Aelyx missing, perhaps their knowledge could help us understand just what has happened to him and how he has gone missing, but mostly importantly at this moment, perhaps they know of where he is being kept so that Rhaegar and I can find him."
"Your Grace." Jon bowed his head and then he oversaw the near two dozen men being arrested, those resisting were disarmed or injured before they were taken, but one tried to go straight after Balerion.
"Sōvēs!" Harry roared out over the sounds of metal on metal and of men shouting.
Balerion immediately took flight from a standstill, hovering several feet from the ground first, before he got enough movement in his massive wings to soar out of the opened top of the Dragonpit and away over to the Red Keep. He would perch on top of the Red Keep and wait for him there.
Harry's heart lightened at seeing his babe get away before he was harmed and he turned furious eyes onto the man who had gone after Balerion.
"What had you hoped to achieve?" He demanded. "Balerion would have crushed you underfoot or eaten you whole like your comrade. You couldn't have injured him or even scratched him."
Harry turned at the urgent call and he swallowed as he saw the small jar being held up, a green liquid inside it. Wildfire. He turned back to the man behind him, being held by two gold cloaks and he took several steps forward and he punched him square in the face, feeling the nose break under his knuckles.
"How dare you!" He hissed.
The man spat blood at him and Harry stepped back in disgust.
"They're traitors." He said. "They are to be treated as such and they will be tortured for all information, for every scrap of it, and then they will be executed, their heads decorating Traitor's Walk."
"I will be sure to tell Lord Ardwell to ask about Aelyx."
Harry nodded. "Please do. If I can find Aelyx, and this seems related, I want it done sooner. The wildfire could only have come from the Alchemists' Guild, which means the Maesters are involved."
Jon nodded. "Away with them. To the Great Hall, call for Lord Celtigar and his gaolers'. We will do this now."
"I'm going to Harrenhal, at the least Daenerys needs to be warned so that she can protect Vhaerys." Harry said as he strode out of the Dragonpit and back towards Aegon's Hill.
He could see Balerion perched on the top of the Red Keep like a massive dark shape against the setting sun. It was already going to be fully dark before he arrived at Harrenhal and Dany was pregnant too. He sighed and cursed the vile people trying to harm his babes.
He was sore, aching and tired, but there was little that he could do about it. He had to reach Harrenhal before Vhaerys was targeted. It seemed that these people, whomever they were, they were going after isolated dragons. First Aelyx as he flew off solo, likely while he was hunting or drinking, then Balerion as he landed in the Dragonpit by himself. It was rational to think that Vhaerys, alone at Harrenhal, would be a very large target, especially as Viserion was currently at Summerhall with Viserys while he and his wife, Arianne, stayed with them while they rested away from the Capital. Though as the Prince of Dragonstone, Viserys stayed on the island more often than not and it was a lot easier to protect Viserion on Dragonstone than it was on the mainland, Viserion probably wasn't a high target. Those most at risk were Vhaerys and the two dragons that Harry and Rhaegar always kept in the new built Dragonpit, as they were the most isolated.
He lengthened his stride and he made it back to the Red Keep. He called Balerion down from the tower that he had perched on, down into the large courtyard and he mounted him quickly.
"I will be back soon." He said tiredly. "Likely near dawn. I want answers from them by that time. I will fly Ser Oswell back. Ser Barristan, I need the Kingsguard summoned. I am loathe to cut their promised rest short, but we may have need of them if our family is being attacked and I fear now after this that we are under attack."
"We have lazed about enough." Barristan insisted. "Where do you need us?"
"Call them here, to Kings Landing, except for Lewyn and Arthur, they'll be better off going to Summerhall and getting Baelon to fly them to Kings Landing." He said. "I'll come back here from Harrenhal and then I need to go back to Highgarden and then to Summerhall. I will be as quick as I can."
Harry took Balerion through several movements, before he took off and he flew over to Harrenhal. It took him a shorter amount of time than it did to fly from Highgarden to Kings Landing, but it was still fully dark when he arrived and Balerion announced them, when he caught the scent of Vhaerys and let out a screeching roar, that Vhaerys then answered. They could have woken those back in Kings Landing with their noise.
Harry landed with another ground trembling shake and he dismounted and then he went right to his knees with his muscles trembling. Balerion nudged him in concern and Harry scratched at him soothingly.
"I'm alright, Balerion, but I have never wished more in my life that you would agree to be saddled like your brothers."
Harry could have laughed as Ser Oswell Whent had come running in his sleeping tunic, his white hilted sword already unsheathed in his hand. Ser Oswell had known immediately that another dragon at Harrenhal had meant an additional member of the royal family. It was usually Viserys come to visit his sister if he got tired of Dragonstone, but today it was him and at this time of night, any visit was an urgent one, Ser Oswell likely believed him to be injured or that he had been set upon or attacked or some such, especially hurrying towards him and noticing that he was slumped on his knees. Harry immediately put him from his panic with a softly waved hand to indicate that he was fine.
"Where is the dragon vault? Get Vhaerys out." He ordered as he climbed shakily to his feet and looked around suspiciously.
"Now, Ser!" He ordered sternly. "Aelyx has gone missing and Balerion was attacked in the Dragonpit. Vhaerys might be next, he can't be enclosed. Balerion, up to the tower. Hep. Hep." He ordered and he watched as Balerion the Moving Mountain cocked his head and then followed to where Harry was pointing. He took off and Harry waited to see him up on the tallest tower safely before he hurried through the grounds of Harrenhal to find the newly built dragon vault that Lord Walter Whent had had commissioned for his good-granddaughter when she had married his grandson, Ser Oslyn, and had brought Vhaerys to Harrenhal with her.
He opened the heavy iron doors with the help of Ser Oswell and he released Vhaerys quickly, ordering him up to the towers with Balerion before he went to find his baby sister, the one whom he had nursed and raised as a daughter, and her married family.
"Your Grace, what has happened?" Lord Walter Whent asked him urgently, looking at his curled up form from his sore muscles and his tired, drawn face.
Daenerys waddled towards him as fast as she could, rounded with her first babe, her hair still tangled with sleep and she came right to him. Harry held her tightly, kissing her smooth, pale forehead.
"Haradarian, what is it, why did you release Vhaerys?"
"Aelyx has gone missing, Dany, and Balerion was attacked in the Dragonpit. There are people singling out the dragons and attacking them. The dragon vault is too exposed, Vhaerys would be trapped inside if he was attacked too."
"Aelyx is missing?" Dany asked, shocked.
Harry nodded. "I've been flying everywhere to try and find him, but he's not at Highgarden or Kings Landing and he's not here. I think he's been taken by the Citadel."
"You have to get him back." Daenerys told him urgently.
"I'm going to, but you need to keep Vhaerys safe."
"He can't sleep on the towers." Dany fretted.
"He needs to be guarded, Dany. Until this threat has passed, he needs to be guarded as he sleeps. I have already imprisoned those who attacked Balerion and Lord Celtigar is currently extracting answers from them, I am hoping that they'll spill all about who is behind these attacks."
"What were they thinking attacking the Moving Mountain?"
"There weren't even two dozen of them. I believe that whoever ordered them to storm the Dragonpit to kill Balerion was just sending them to their deaths. It would reflect terribly upon us and the dragons if two dozen men were killed by Balerion. They're trying to create a reason to keep Aelyx imprisoned. A reason to try and insist that all twelve of them are imprisoned, not to mention the five eggs."
"How are the eggs?" Daenerys asked.
"Still intact. They're very warm now, we think they might hatch soon. Which is why I can't allow this threat to continue. Those hatchlings are going to be small and weak, easily picked up and carried away, especially if they can take Aelyx."
"How did they even take a dragon?" Ser Oswell asked.
Harry shook his head. "Something that I'm determined to find out. Dany, I need to go back to Kings Landing now, then to Highgarden and then to Summerhall, you need to keep Vhaerys safe."
"Take him with you." She told him firmly. "He is going to be safest with his brothers."
"Are you sure? I don't want you to be left without him."
"I want him to be safe more than I want him here with me. If it is not safe for him here, take him back to Summerhall." Daenerys said firmly.
"Is there a threat to Daenerys also?" Ser Oslyn demanded, his arm protectively around his incredibly beautiful, heavily pregnant wife.
Harry sighed. "A threat to the dragons is a threat to our whole family." He said. "As soon as the dragons are taken from us or killed, they'll come for us afterwards, like first taking a shield from a man in battle. Daenerys is one of the most exposed and currently the most vulnerable as she's pregnant. Keep her close, Ser."
Ser Oslyn's face hardened and his muscled arms held Dany closer and he laid a kiss to her shining, silver hair, one hand pressing against her pregnant belly where his babe grew.
"I'll keep her safe, I swear it."
"Good, I won't have my sister-daughter harmed or put in any danger."
Dany chuckled at that and she broke free from her husband to hug him tightly, kissing his cheek.
"You need to rest, Mother." She admonished him. "When did you last sleep?"
Harry shook his head. "There's no time. Rhaegar and I are so worried for Aelyx, we want him back. Ser, you need to dress." He directed at Ser Oswell, who looked at his sleeping tunic and then nodded, hurrying off to get himself dressed in the white armour and cloak that he hadn't worn for the last three turns.
"You are going to be no use if you don't rest." Dany told him sternly.
He nodded his agreement. "It doesn't help that Aenar has broken his arm either. We can't leave his care to Rhaegon, he would put him into a deep, unending sleep with an overdose of the milk of the poppy."
"He climbed the peach tree, didn't he?"
Harry snorted. "Of course he did. I thought that he'd died when I saw him sprawled, unconscious at its base."
"You could always take Rhaegon to the Citadel with you." Dany said. "He is five-and-twenty, he has every right to go with you to free Aelyx. Baelon, Aenys and Aerin too. Leave Valarr to look after the dragons at Summerhall and to look after Aenar. That way you won't be alone."
Harry immediately went to protest.
"Mother, they are old enough." Dany told him, a determined, almost fierce look in her beautiful purple eyes. "Let them be men. They are no longer boys in need of your loving hand, they are grown men capable of looking after themselves. Truly so is Valarr and Maelor, though Maelor only just and Valarr is soft. You cannot hold them back any longer, Mother."
He sighed. "You have become a stubborn, formidable woman, Daenerys. I'm proud of you."
"Your Grace, I'm ready." Ser Oswell said, coming back to where they were loitering in the Hall of a Hundred Hearths.
"Come on then, we need to get back to Kings Landing and see if any of those fools have talked about the attack on the Dragonpit or about the whereabouts of Aelyx."
Harry hugged Dany goodbye and he left her in the care of her doting, protective husband. She had truly chosen well for herself with Ser Oslyn. He was completely smitten with her, but also protective and loving too. He adored the very ground that she walked on and Harry was sure that, behind closed doors, that Daenerys was truly the force behind their marriage. Oslyn did anything and everything that she asked of him, as he should do.
Harry called both dragons down from the towers and he spoke to the both of them in short bursts of High Valyrian. He mounted Balerion and Ser Oswell mounted the purple and silver Vhaerys, who baulked at having a rider who was not his beloved Daenerys, but she calmed him herself and instructed him to bear his rider and he did eventually settle and accept Ser Oswell, but he made his displeasure known. Ser Oswell was not going to have a smooth or easy flight.
Harry led the way and he kept calling out to Vhaerys, to lead him to where there were going in the pitch black of night. He had already told Ser Oswell that they were heading straight to the Red Keep. They were not leaving the dragons in the Dragonpit, he wouldn't risk that there were more people involved in the plot to attack the dragons.
Landing in the courtyard before Maegor's Holdfast, Harry dismounted on quivering legs and he knew that he would have to rest, even just for an hour before he rode to Highgarden. He sent Balerion and Vhaerys up to the towers with an encouraged order in High Valyrian of 'hep' and he ordered the gold cloaks nearby to seal the bronze gates to the Red Keep and dismiss themselves, away from the dragons.
He went to the Great Hall, where the smell of blood and piss was thick. His entire small council was present and there was already a pile of bodies on the floor, but those still to be questioned were crying and pleading for mercy, even as another of their number was being attended to by Lord Ardwell Celtigar, his Master of Laws.
"Your Grace." Ser Barristan greeted him, immediately standing and coming to mirror Ser Oswell. "The ravens are already flying. The rest of your Kingsguard should be here as soon as they can manage."
"Good. Have any of these filth talked?"
"It was as you feared, Your Grace." Jon told him. "The Maesters at the Citadel ordered the wildfire to be given to these men, who have been charged with killing any dragon in the Dragonpit. There are others in Kings Landing and we are attempting to get all of their names. It is the Maesters who have also taken Aelyx and are keeping him at the Citadel."
Harry swallowed. "I had wondered." He said softly.
"There are also more men on the way to Harrenhal to kill Vhaerys." Barristan told him.
"They will have a wasted journey, I brought Vhaerys back with me." Harry said. "He's on the towers of the Red Keep with Balerion. I'm taking them all to Summerhall and putting them under Valarr's protection."
"Prince Valarr's protection?" Jon queried.
"Rhaegon, Baelon, Aenys and Aerin are grown men. They will be coming with Rhaegar, Viserys and I to free Aelyx at the Citadel. Valarr will be staying at Summerhall to protect his younger brothers and his sisters, and the remaining dragons."
"Is it wise to take the crown Prince?" Lord Lucerys Velaryon, his Master of Ships, asked worriedly.
"Rhaegon is a man of five-and-twenty. We cannot take his three younger brothers and leave him behind. If all seven of us are to die, the crown will rightfully pass to Valarr as our next oldest child."
"You would miss out Princess Helaena's son? Prince Baelon's son? Prince Aenys' son?"
"Garyn is a boy of six. Aedus is newly born only just getting his first tooth and Gwynys has yet to celebrate his first name day." Harry said impatiently. "The crown will pass to Valarr, he is a man of nine-and-ten. He is able and of an age to rule."
Harry knew exactly why these men would prefer Garyn, a boy of six, over his Valarr. Their fifth son was very soft and he disliked confrontation and much preferred reading and studying. But those around them forgot that Rhaegar had once been exactly the same, and likely would have remained the same if he had not found the prophecy from old Valyria. They forgot that Harry was a very learned and intelligent man, with his chain of many metals hanging around his throat. Valarr would make a good King if given the chance, like Harry himself he could strategise on the edge of a blade and make the decisions that needed to be made. Just because he disliked warfare did not mean that he wouldn't do what was needed to be done if such a situation arose, it just meant that he would take no pleasure in it and Harry was proud of his son for such. He ignored the slight, for that was what it was, and he instead sat himself down and called for wine and refreshments.
He wasn't one to eat and drink while men were being tortured and killed before him, but his travelling today had left him parched and sore and aching. He once again cursed that Balerion wouldn't wear a riding saddle. He would leave the Moving Mountain for Rhaegar to ride to the Citadel. He would take his preferred mount, Daegon, who would be saddled and would allow for him to sit down if needed. After riding Balerion up and down the Seven Kingdoms all day and night, it would be needed.
He drank a cup of wine and then poured himself another from the silver jug that had been left on the tray beside him. A small meal had been brought up for him and he picked at it, even as Lord Ardwell and his gaolers turned back to their duty. Harry disliked it, but he hadn't eaten all day and he needed to take a rest before he made himself sick. He couldn't fall sick now, not when he needed to get his Aelyx back from the Maesters who had taken him and were keeping him imprisoned in the Citadel.
"I sent a raven on ahead to Highgarden. You can go straight to Summerhall, if it pleases you, Your Grace." Jon told him and Harry nodded gratefully.
"Thank you." He said over the screams as another man had his fingers removed. "That the Citadel are involved once more in trying to destroy the dragons. Rhaegar's anger is going to be a terrible thing to behold. I do not believe that I have the capabilities of holding him back, not when it comes to a threat against our children."
He sighed again and picked up a chunk of chicken to eat, washed down with more wine. His shaking had lessened some at least, he was just very tired now, but he was not going to sleep…not while the Maesters still had his Aelyx and were trying to kill his dragon babes and then perhaps even his human babes, before they would try to take out his brother and sister and his husband, his beautiful Rhaegar. This had to be stopped, now, before any more of his family were attacked, hurt or imprisoned like Aelyx. He would not allow for this to continue.
He arrived back to Summerhall in the late morning and Rhaegar was waiting for him in the dragon caves. He was visibly surprised to see Vhaerys with him. When the two dragons had been seen on the horizon, he had furtively hoped that Aelyx had been found and was being brought home.
"Tell me everything." He said, knowing for definite now that something was very wrong.
"Come with me." Harry said, taking the hand of his husband. "Are the children up, how is Aenar?"
"He's been miserable. I did as you instructed and gave him more milk of the poppy before he went to bed, but he still crawled into our bed near dawn. I didn't know if I had to give him any more milk of the poppy, so I settled him down and played my harp until he fell asleep again, but he's in pain. He was even grimacing in his sleep. He has been pleading for you since dawn."
The two of them made it up to the main solar and Harry was immediately swarmed by his younger children happy to see him. He smiled and kissed all of their upturned faces gently.
"Mother, please can I have more milk of the poppy?" Aenar begged him, his young face pinched and pale with pain.
"Yes, love. Sit yourself down."
Harry took a spoon from the table and the small bottle that Rhaegar handed to him and he measured out half a spoon of the painkiller and he held it out steadily for Aenar, who took it with his mouth immediately, with no complaints forthcoming about the horrible, bitter taste.
Harry sat next to his young son and his youngest, Aenar's twin, Aeron, cuddled in on his other side.
"Why has Dany given up Vhaerys? What has happened?" Viserys asked, having obviously seen the two dragons on the horizon from the garden or perhaps a balcony, and not just the expected Balerion.
"Things are much worse than we'd feared." Harry said, looking at Rhaegar, but speaking to them all. "I arrived back at Kings Landing and...and as I went to call a small council meeting, Balerion was attacked in the Dragonpit."
"He's unhurt though, isn't he?" Maelor demanded.
Harry snorted. "Of course he is. He's not called the Moving Mountain for show, Maelor. I heard him calling and I hurried back to him, he was being set upon by twenty men. They had wildfire on them."
"Was there also a threat to Vhaerys?" Rhaegar asked, his face tight, his jaw clenched in anger.
"I didn't know as such when I flew to Harrenhal, but Daenerys wanted him safe more than she wanted to keep him isolated with her. She told me to bring him back and to keep him with his brothers, she's completely correct they're much safer in numbers. So I flew him back to Kings Landing, where I'd left Jon to gather information from those arrested in the Dragonpit, and it was there that I found out that there was a force heading to Harrenhal to 'deal' with Vhaerys. They're targeting any isolated dragon. Aelyx likely went out hunting on his own, we only ever have two or three dragons at Kings Landing at any one time and Vhaerys is all on his own at Harrenhal. They were taking out as many as they could beforehand."
"Who would try to attack a dragon, Mother?" Naerys asked, her brush stilling in her small hand, even as she paused in mid motion to listen to him.
"The Maesters of the Citadel." Harry said with a pointed look to Rhaegar, whose large hands clenched into fists. "Willas has already sent a force of men to the Citadel. The small council agrees with this action, that it'll look better if Willas deals with matters of his own realm first, before we get involved. I don't like it as it's our Aelyx that they have imprisoned, but it gives me more time to strategise. Once Willas confirms that Aelyx is at the Citadel, me, you, Viserys, Rhaegon, Baelon, Aenys and Aerin can go in and get him back. Then I want this matter put to rest. I won't have them threatened further."
"You want us to go with you?" Aenys asked, looking shocked.
"You are men grown, all of you above twenty. You will come with your Father, Uncle, and I to free Aelyx and deal out justice to those whom have dared hurt him and sent out orders for Vhaerys to be attacked in the dragon vault at Harrenhal and for any dragon that is in the Dragonpit at Kings Landing to be slain. Those who have plotted and schemed will not get away with this."
"Will…will I look after…?" Valarr asked, looking as shocked as Aenys.
"You will be the acting Prince of Summerhall in your brother, Baelon's, absence. You will look after your sisters and your younger brothers and the remaining dragons while we are away. If all seven of us are killed, you will take the crown for yourself, Valarr. You will be King. I have left such instruction with the small council and the Kingsguard."
"I…I can't be king!" Valarr said, his face going pale.
"You are our next oldest son, Valarr." Rhaegar told him. "Our oldest grandchild is Garyn and he's only six, your nephews are all much too young to rule. You need to step into your place if it is needed."
"We have no plans on dying, however." Harry said kindly. "You'd do just fine, Valarr, I know you would."
"Of course you would." Rhaegon said to his brother firmly. "I said that when I'm King it will be you who I choose as a Hand."
"I don't want to be either!" Valarr insisted fervently.
"Now is not the time to argue about it." Viserys snapped. "Those Maesters have Aelyx and they tried to kill Vhaerys and Balerion! Viserion could have been in danger also!"
Harry inclined his head, but tried to sooth his brother as well. "One good thing is in your favour, Viserys, and for Viserion too. You live on Dragonstone with Viserion. It would be very difficult for any outsiders to get onto the island and attack him. He has the run of Dragonstone, does he not?"
Viserys calmed at hearing that and he nodded. "Yes. He sleeps in the open on the Dragonmont, just above the castle. No one can reach him up there."
Harry nodded with a smile. "Viserion was likely the most protected of the isolated few, Viserys. If any were to have perished, it would have been Vhaerys. The dragon vault is on the ground, two men can open the doors and if they bar the exit with fire or spears, then Vhaerys would have been trapped inside and with wildfire, he would have been burnt to death."
"Have you mobilised the Kingsguard?" Rhaegar asked him.
Harry chuckled then. "Ser Barristan was already back at Kings Landing. He said that he'd had enough rest and he'd come back early to await our own rest to be over. He told me that he'd personally summon his sworn brothers back to Kings Landing, that they could rest when they were dead. Though I brought Ser Oswell back personally from Harrenhal and it makes more sense to have Prince Lewyn and Ser Arthur come here, as they would need to pass Summerhall to get back to Kings Landing anyway. At the least it will be some more protection for the children."
Rhaegar nodded. "We need to prepare and be ready to leave as soon as the raven from Highgarden arrives."
"Boys, pick your mounts." Harry said to his oldest four boys. "I'm riding Daegon."
"I'm naturally taking Balerion." Rhaegar said.
Rhaegon smiled. "Rhaelys." He said immediately.
"I'd like Xeraxys." Baelon said with growing excitement. Xeraxys only ever let Harry or Baelon ride him.
"Maegon!" Aerin said before his brother could and Aenys glared at him.
"Fine, I'll take Aedys."
"You should have chosen him outright, you always liked him best and he loves you in return." Maelor told Aenys.
"Aedys was always my favourite dragon, but he's more like a sunburst, people don't look at him and think him intimidating."
"I always thought that he looked more like a blazing inferno." Harry said with a smile. "All orange, yellow and gold. He looks like he's on fire, especially when the light catches him."
Aenys looked a mite better at hearing that and Harry sighed, looking to his youngest children, one on either side of him. He looked more critically at his Aenar, who was drowsy with the milk of the poppy, holding Harry tightly about his middle, his broken arm resting in his lap. Harry was pleased to see that the bindings had not been played with while he'd been away.
"I hate standing here and not doing anything." Viserys said angrily and his wife, Arianne, immediately moved to comfort him.
"It won't be very long, Viserys." Harry said soothingly. "As soon as Willas sends that raven, we will take flight and we'll be at Oldtown shortly after. I expect the raven to come within the next several hours, certainly before dusk approaches."
"You haven't slept." Rhaegar pointed out. "You'll put yourself at risk and I won't have it."
Harry sighed. He had been wondering when Rhaegar would bring this up. He was tired, but he was also very worried and stressed.
"I'll take Aenar to bed then." He said calmly, unwilling to fight with Rhaegar at this moment. Not right before they would be flying into certain danger. "I want to know the moment that raven arrives, Rhaegar. If you even think of leaving without me you had better never come home again."
"I would never do that to you."
Harry nodded. "Good, because there is nowhere in the known world that you could hide from me, brother."
Rhaegar snorted. "You only ever call me brother when you're angry with me. I have not done anything wrong yet."
"It was just a friendly reminder." Harry teased. "Aeron, are you tired?"
His youngest child shook his head and Harry nodded, standing and kissing him. He picked up Aenar and carried the eight year old to his own bedchambers, to the bed that he shared with Rhaegar. He thought that he would never drop off to sleep, but he was asleep almost as soon as he settled down with Aenar.
Rhaegar woke him up several hours later with a smug grin on his face. Aenar was no longer in the bed with him.
"Go away." Harry complained, pulling the sheet of the bed tighter under his chin.
"You're beautiful when you've just woken up and you're still sleepy." Rhaegar told him.
Harry smiled and rolled over onto his back, stretching himself out, peering blearily up at his brother-husband.
"I love you more and more each day."
"I love you too." Harry murmured, still clinging to sleep.
"Come, I've had some light foods laid out for you."
Harry blinked and then his mind caught up to him. "Have we heard from Highgarden?" He asked urgently, sitting up.
"No, not yet, but I wouldn't imagine that it would take much longer. I wanted you to eat before we left."
"What aren't you telling me?" He asked with a knowing smile.
"Those boys are taking away my sanity, I need you." Rhaegar told him, bending down to kiss him. "They're so eager to leave, they're pacing like caged animals and snapping at one another. They're so anxious and wound up. Joy is in tears and she's begging Baelon to stay, Janei has just told Rhaegon that she's pregnant with their third child and Naerys keeps clinging to my hand or sitting in my lap. She's gone quiet too, I don't like it."
Harry sighed and he wrapped his arms around Rhaegar's neck. "The sooner this is all over and we have Aelyx back, the better."
"If they've hurt him at all, their lives are forfeit!"
"I couldn't agree with you more, my love. Come, I need to get into some clean clothes and have something to eat."
Rhaegar watched him, forcing himself to keep his hands in his lap, as Harry stripped himself bare and then redressed. They walked hand in hand to the solar, where Rhaegar had laid out a meal for him.
"Mother, please don't go!" Naerys begged as soon as he walked into the room, hurrying to him and wrapping her arms tightly around his waist.
"Naerys, we need to go and get Aelyx back." He explained patiently. "He is as much my child as you are and I wouldn't leave you as a prisoner either. You need to understand that as the royal family, if we allow the Maesters to take and kill Aelyx without retaliating then we'll be perceived as weak and we'll be abandoned by our allies and set upon on all sides. We need to crush this unrest now, before anyone can think us weak and ripe for a takeover."
"Will that really happen?" Maella asked worriedly, stopping in mid-motion the embroidery of the left sleeve of her dress.
"It can." Rhaegon said, even as he cradled his sleeping youngest daughter, Rhaenys, in his large arms. "We can't take the chance, Mae. We could lose a lot more if we don't retaliate to this threat. At most, seven of us will die, they certainly won't catch seven dragons at once, but Valarr will take over and he will keep you all safe here while the Kingsguard mobilise around him."
"I don't want any of you to die." Aeron cried.
"It's unlikely that all of us will die, sweet one, but it is a possibility that we reasonably have to face and prepare for." Harry said as he sat down, moving with Naerys clinging to him.
"A small one." Viserys said.
"But a possibility nonetheless." Harry reminded his little brother. "We're not going to go into this like fools. We are not going to take any risks. We will have Willas' men with us, we're not going to be seven against the entire of the Citadel."
"They're all old men stuck in their books!" Viserys complained.
"There are still men there who would die to protect the Citadel." Harry said forcefully. "You forget that I was at the Citadel for two and a half years in my youth, I know exactly how fervent those men can be if there is any threat to the Citadel or the Maesters within."
"We have dragons!"
"Have you forgotten that they have one too?" Rhaegar demanded. "They have somehow managed to take Aelyx and keep him imprisoned. We have no idea how they have done as such or if they could do so again, taking the dragons right from under us."
"All of you, calm down." Harry said sternly. "This is going to be dangerous enough without all of you squabbling as well."
Everyone remained silent as Harry ate, his youngest daughter curled on his lap. He had forgotten to tell Rhaegar about the newest request for Naerys' hand. He was not going to mention it here, however. Not while she was within earshot. She was a child still and he refused to worry her over such things unnecessarily. He kissed the crown of her silver hair and picked up a juicy, perfectly ripe peach and he bit into it.
"Please don't get the juice in my hair, Mother." Naerys begged.
"I won't, sweetness." He said, juice dripping from his chin and down his wrist. He made sure to keep both well away from his baby girl.
Rhaegar could not resist. He just couldn't stay away. He came to sit beside him and Harry squirmed away as his husband's tongue licked at his chin and mouth, catching the peach juice.
"Must you do that? It's obscene." Baelon complained.
Harry snorted and Rhaegar laughed, pulling Harry into a proper kiss.
"We love one another very much, Baelon." Harry said gently. "I love him more and more as time passes and I feel no shame in showing that love to him."
Rhaegar smiled happily at hearing that and he bent forward to kiss Harry again.
"Finish eating, you need your strength." Rhaegar told him.
"Is Aunt Dany okay?" Maella asked him, even as she focused on the next part of her dress.
"She is fit to burst with her babe, but Ser Oslyn is very protective of her. He will keep her safe."
"We've spread the dragonseed halfway across the Seven Kingdoms." Rhaegar chuckled to him and Harry laughed.
"We have. We did very well. We've married to Tyrell, Lannister, Whent, Martell, Dayne, Rykker, Penrose, Allyrion and Yronwood. With potential matches with Vance through Maelor and with Lydden through Maella too."
"Has Frey tried to gain control of…?" Rhaegar's eyes flicked down to Naerys settled in Harry's lap and Harry shook his head.
"He's gone from that to asking for Aerin to pick one of his daughters or granddaughters, whomever he fancies, and she'll be his."
Rhaegar snorted. "Frey would be better off offering his sons and grandsons to Aerin."
"I thought as such, but naturally I said nothing." Harry smiled. "I wouldn't have any daughter of mine marry a Frey, nor would I have my sons married to one. They do not deserve the honour. I will never forgive them their cowardice and inaction when our family was threatened with extinction during the rebellion of the would be usurper. Our children will not be married to cowards and cravens."
Rhaegar nodded and agreed with him. Harry finished eating, cleaning off his hands so that he could hug his daughter without her shouting at him for dirtying her sheet of wavy, silver hair, before he started running through a detailed plan of action with his two brothers and his four oldest sons.
"Please don't go." Joy begged Baelon, who looked rather annoyed at her tears and persistent pleads.
"He has to go, Joy." Harry said firmly. "Stop your tears, now. He is a man grown and it is his place to come with us."
"I want him to be safe." Joy sniffled, Aedus clutched tightly in her arms.
"And I need my family to be safe." Baelon replied sternly. "If I die in defence of my family, then so be it. As long as I die to keep them safe, and not in vain, I'll be happy to do so."
"It has always been the same for us." Rhaegar said and Harry nodded his agreement.
"We were willing to die to protect Mother, Viserys, Daenerys and our three children when the would be usurper tried to wipe out the Targaryen name on a whim. We sent Rhaegon, Haeraenya and Helaena over to Dragonstone with our pregnant Mother and Viserys and we fought with everything that we had to keep them safe."
"I was four-and-twenty during the rebellion." Rhaegar said. "I rode out to fight in numerous battles, I almost died upon the Trident clashing with Baratheon so that my family could be safe."
"I was nine-and-ten." Harry said softly, thinking back to the rebellion. "I was younger than all of those whom we are taking with us when I fought to defend my family. When Kings Landing was sacked and I had to fight while six turns pregnant with our Baelon and our dragons were newly hatched and barely a week old. Baelon has every single right as a man to fight to protect his family. We will not stop him, Rhaegon, Aerin or Aenys from fighting, it is their choice to make and their right to do so."
Joy turned pleading eyes to Baelon then, at hearing that it was his choice, and he shook his head.
"No." He said firmly. "I'm going, Joy. You will stay here with Aedus, under the protection of Valarr and I will go and fight to free Aelyx, to keep our family safe. I am not going to stay here and sit on my thumbs while my parents, Uncle and brothers fight to keep us safe. I'm going."
Harry smiled on proudly as Baelon took charge of himself and his wife. He was twenty-two now and he had his own palace, he had his own son, he had the heavy responsibility of being the guardian of the majority of the dragons, who always stayed at Summerhall. He was a man and he deserved to come with them to rescue Aelyx.
"A raven!" Maelor called out and Harry stood, putting Naerys on her feet.
He strode out to the balcony, where the raven had landed on the balustrade, and he approached it gently, picking the bird up and tucking it under his arm as he pulled off the message with the other. He set the bird free and it flew off again, back to Highgarden, but all of Harry's attention was on the small scroll of paper in his hand.
He untied the slim piece of green and gold ribbon around it and he unrolled it, reading slowly and calmly so that he missed no words.
"What does Willas say?" Rhaegar asked him.
Harry finished reading the small missive and then he dropped his arm.
"Aelyx is at the Citadel." He said, his heart thundering and every muscle in his body clenching in furious anger. "Willas has sentenced those involved to death. Come, let us fly."
"Did it mention the state of Aelyx?" Rhaegar asked him, his tone tight.
"No. They likely haven't located him, but they can hear him calling. They can pin him down in one place, but they cannot stop him from calling. We must be quick, if they know that we are coming, they can do untold damage to him, or even execute him, we must not give them that amount of time."
The seven of them made it to the dragon caves quickly and Harry located the black and gold Daegon easily. He took a specially made saddle from where it was tacked to the wall and he only had to indicate with his hand and Daegon was lying down. Harry saddled him up, making sure that the strong steel breastplate was in place and he checked that each strap was secure and then he looked around, overseeing his sons doing the same.
Rhaegar, who was going on Balerion, did not need to saddle up his own mount, as their biggest boy refused to wear one. He was going around to each dragon and checking that all of the straps and the breastplates were in place and wouldn't slip or dig in during the flight.
"Are we ready?" Viserys asked from atop Viserion.
Harry, who had climbed into the saddle on Daegon, glad to be sat down at the base of Daegon's neck, sat upon his shoulders, nodded himself, watching as Rhaegar had to hold himself between Balerion's red horns, atop his large head.
The seven of them flew away from Summerhall and they headed to Oldtown and to the Citadel, where they now knew their missing boy, Aelyx, was being kept prisoner. Those Maesters would rue the day that they had ever conceived the plot against their family. He had not ruled out Lannister involvement either, the Maesters needed someone to fund them, after all. Perhaps it was a mistake on his part to leave the Lannister twins, Willem and Martyn, with their family. If he found out that the Lannisters had had any involvement at all in this…well, he had given them more than enough chances over the years. If they were involved at all, including merely bankrolling the Maesters, he would wipe out Kevan and his three sons (as he would execute poor Lancel too), and Tygett and Gerion, still prisoners of Kings Landing, would be executed as well. The only Lannisters left would be women, and young Tyrion.
The flight over to Oldtown was short. Harry seriously hoped that Lord Leyton Hightower had not been involved in this, it would be devastating to execute another great house, but Willas was the Lord of all the Reach and if he chose to execute Lord Leyton, that was Willas' right as the Kings' Warden of the South. But one good thing fell in favour of Lord Leyton not being involved, and thus Willas not having to send orders of execution to his Mother's Father, his own Grandfather. Lord Leyton hadn't come down from Oldtown's Hightower, of which they were named, for over a decade now. He stayed up in the Hightower of house Hightower and Harry hoped that that meant that he hadn't been a part of the imprisonment of Aelyx. House Hightower had always been firm supporters of House Targaryen, and of their liege lords, the Tyrells. But they were also one of the biggest supports of the Faith of the Seven and of the Citadel.
He and Rhaegar could control the High Septon in Kings Landing with a few threats easily enough, but all the other Septons and Septas throughout the Seven Kingdoms were likely spreading discord and dissent throughout the cities and the smallfolk. This had to stop or the danger to his family would only grow and he could not, would not, risk his children.
They landed, Daegon's feet touching down on the ground first, and his black and gold boy screamed, calling out to the brother whom he could smell.
Balerion landed with such force that Harry could feel it pass through his body. Harry slid from the back of Daegon and gathered his four sons and younger brother around him, Rhaegar coming over to join them, even as Balerion's roar echoed around them. Everything had fallen silent, and then the screaming of the smallfolk started, likely having never seen so many dragons in one place before, but it wasn't the smallfolk that they were here for. It was never the poor, innocent smallfolk who would always, inevitably, be caught in the crossfire of the coming fight.
Rhaegar led the six of them to the gates of Oldtown and it was clear that the guards didn't know what to do…they couldn't bar the royal family from entering a city that they essentially owned. Not without it being a declaration of war, so they just stood, stunned and fearful, as the seven of them strode through the gates into Oldtown. Harry led the way then, he remembered this place as well as he did Kings Landing. He had spent two and a half years here, studying, exploring, he knew these streets, and he knew exactly where he was going as he headed to the Honeywine, the large river upon which the Citadel was situated, on both sides of the river, where he had spent most of his time while here in Oldtown. The tall towers were all connected to one another via stone bridges and it truly was more like a city within a city.
The seven of them made it to the gates of the Citadel to find Garlan in command of a large force of men from the Reach.
"Your Graces." Garlan said, dipping his head respectfully to Harry and Rhaegar. "We heard the dragon, Aelyx, keening as soon as we arrived, I immediately sent a raven back to Willas. We could get through into Oldtown, but the Citadel gates are barred and they will not open."
Harry looked at the tall, twin green stone sphynxes that had so entranced him as a boy. They had the bodies of lions, the open, splayed wings of an eagle and the tail of serpents. The left hand sphynx had the smooth face of a woman, the right hand sphynx the face of a man.
The courtyard he was in was big enough for a dragon to land in. Just the one, but it would be enough to destroy the wooden gates.
"Baelon, go and get Xeraxys." He said softly. "Take some men with you."
A score of men wearing the green and gold of Highgarden immediately listened to the order given and they strode forward to escort Baelon to get one of their smaller dragons.
Harry gave a look to Rhaegar, who nodded and he inhaled deeply. Harry couldn't deny that his brother-husband's voice was certainly much more impressive than his own. Rhaegar's voice could boom, low and deep, and hopefully some of the smallfolk would hear him this way, and they would know that they had given ample chance for the gates to the Citadel to be opened.
"In the name of King Haradarian the Heart, the first of his name, and King Rhaegar Targaryen, the first of his name, Kings of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lords of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protectors of the Realm, open these gates and allow us entry!"
Rhaegar's voice echoed it was so silent in this area of Oldtown and they stood, waiting. Rhaegar called out the same once more, at a much louder volume, before he grit his teeth in anger and looked at Harry.
"I'm not calling a third time, they are making a fool of me." He insisted.
Harry laid a slim hand on Rhaegar's muscular arm. "I would not have asked you to call a third time, my love. Twice is quite enough. If they didn't open upon the first call, they were never going to, but calling for a second time gave a chance for more smallfolk to hear you calling for a peaceful end to this. Now all they will get from us is fire and blood."
His twin sons were all but bouncing in their eagerness. This would be their first true battle and with Aerin wanting to be a member of the Kingsguard once a place opened up, once Rhaegon was King, this was the perfect platform for him to prove himself worthy of the high honour.
Baelon came back to them atop Xeraxys, who only ever let Harry or Baelon ride him and grew aggressive if anyone else tried to mount him, with the twenty men walking ahead of the beautiful blue, silver and gold dragon.
"Xeraxys, calm my sweet one." Harry called out softly and Xeraxys settled down with a happy chirrup of a croak that made Harry smile. Xeraxys came to him and lowered his head for a scratch, right on the patch of scales that he loved being scratched. Harry all but raked his nails over those scales as a reward and his beautiful boy all but groaned in pleasure, grunting and making pleased noises.
"You spoil him so much." Rhaegar teased.
"He was always attached to me, from the moment of his first hatching. He used to sleep on my chest, like a small, hot coal." Harry sighed wistfully as he remembered when this huge, colossal dragon had been able to sleep on his chest and could be cupped in both hands and carried in a pocket or a soft leather bag.
"Your Graces, how are we to handle this?" Garlan asked, his sword at the ready. "My men are ready to do as ordered. Willas has given his instruction to us and we are to follow your lead in all things."
Harry took in a deep breath. "Xeraxys, your brother Aelyx is behind this gate. Burn it." Harry commanded. "Dracarys!"
Xeraxys looked at him as he spoke, then looked beyond the wall, then at the wooden gate, he waited until he had the command and then he turned and those watching him could see him inhaling. He opened his mouth, showing his terrible dragonfire within. It was hot enough to melt stone, it could incinerate a man in seconds, especially at a short distance…Xeraxys unleashed the fire that was shot through with beautiful blue sparks directly at the Citadel gates. It lasted for mere moments before Xeraxys closed his mouth and cut off the flame, but sweat had broken out on the bodies of all those present and many a man wiped his forehead on his sleeve to clear his eyes of the sting of sweat. The gate was just gone, the stone around it was blackened and now malformed. The entire section of wall would need to be replaced before a new gate could be put in, but that could wait for later.
The empty stalls where scribes sold their custom of reading and writing letters for the illiterate smallfolk met them as they, and the Highgarden men, slipped through the hole where the gate had once stood. There was no one else around, that they could see at least, but Harry knew that they were there and he shared a look with Rhaegar and automatically they both used themselves as shields for their four sons and Viserys. Harry had the feeling that there were archers here, and if there were, they would be aiming at the Targaryens. He would die before he let them harm his sons.
They walked through the seemingly abandoned Citadel and Harry didn't like it. Not once in his years here had he ever seen the Citadel as anything less than a mass of people moving and teaching and learning.
"Where are we heading, Haradarian?" Rhaegar asked him, looking around with critical, suspicious eyes.
"I don't know of any building that could hold Aelyx. Hold on." Harry took a deep breath and he unleashed a terrible, keening noise, high and serpentine in nature. They had found that he was the only one who could make this call, and all of his babes responded immediately. Xeraxys closer to them, Balerion the loudest, with Viserion, Rhaelys, Aedys, Maegon and Daegon echoing them, but it was the keening, almost pleading, call that came from in front of them that Harry had been listening for. Aelyx was here and he was hurt, but crucially, he was still alive.
"Was that…?" Rhaegon started.
"Aelyx is hurt." Harry said angrily, cutting off his oldest son. "Garlan…"
"You don't need to say anything, we're with you." Garlan insisted. "Whatever you need, Willas has cast his judgement and we are to follow your command, Your Grace, no matter what you choose to do."
Harry nodded and he turned to Rhaegar.
"You know that I would follow you to the ends of the world, my love. I would go with you straight to Valyria, or through the wilds of Sothoryos, to the unknown shadow lands beyond Stygai, or even walk with you north of the Wall. Where you go, I go." Rhaegar told him seriously.
Harry smiled and pulled Rhaegar's head down to kiss him gently on the mouth.
"Then let us go and rescue our Aelyx from his torment." Harry said.
"Do you think the Faith is behind this also?" Rhaegon asked as he looked to the huge, Starry Sept that was near the Citadel, also on the Honeywine. It was unmissable with its high, arched windows and walls of black marble.
"They hate us." Harry said bluntly. "They hate that your Father and I are married brothers, that I am some anomaly to them as a man who can carry and birth babes as a woman would…"
"I thought that was because you were born in the Great Sept, on the day of the Mother?" Aenys asked.
"In truth we don't know how I can carry my own babes, all we know is that somehow, I can. The Faith hates this, as it goes against all of their teachings and they try to claim me as some sort of beast or demon, or that I've dabbled in dark sorcery. They have always declared Targaryens abominations for marrying sister to brother, or when we have taken more than one wife at a time. They tried to cow us, but Maegor the Cruel saw to the Faith Militant and put them to rest. Now they are trying to bring that back, to set the Faith against us once more. They have hated us since the truth of our marriage and babes first came to light, now it has come to a head and they have taken Aelyx and it was one step too far."
"Anyone who touches our babes has gone a step too far and they will be dealt with. They will be punished for it and face the Kings' Justice." Rhaegar agreed.
Harry swept his eyes over the buildings and the empty windows. He knew that there were people here, he kept seeing shadows move, but every time that he looked back, closer, no one was there.
"Keep your eyes open." He said quietly. "It looks abandoned, but it's not. There are hostile men here. Men who are fighting for the Maesters and the Faith for whatever reason."
"Call Aelyx again." Rhaegar encouraged.
Harry took a breath and he unleashed the terrible noise again, listening to seven calls from behind him, and one, quieter keen from in front.
"We're getting closer." He said. "They must have him on one of the river islands. It's the only place that he could be that is kept away from the bulk of the people, that's isolated and big enough to contain him. He sounds like he's outside."
"What's the easiest way over, Mother?" Rhaegon asked him.
"The only way to get us all across is by boat." He said. "There should be a dozen boats down by the pier, but it would make us vulnerable. Just as they want it." He sighed, thinking hard, his fingers pulling along his Maester's chain. "We need support from the air. Boys, go back and get your dragons and fly over. See if you can't see which island Aelyx is on. Be careful and watch out for archers on roofs or at windows. Never forget to look up as well as around." He said sternly, before turning back to Rhaegar. "We need to cross by boat, but they will have more archers trained on us."
"Burn them?" Viserys asked him eagerly.
Harry hesitated only for a moment, then he nodded. "Burn them all."
"This crossing is going to be dangerous." Rhaegar said, as he watched their boys hurry off, back to the dragons.
Harry nodded. "We stand out, you more so than I." He said, casting a worried glance at Rhaegar's glorious silver-blond hair that was all but glowing in the sunlight. It would be a target that Rhaegar would be carrying around with him, alerting all those against them of where he was at any given moment.
"We will shield you in place of your Kingsguard, Your Graces." Garlan said firmly.
"If only you weren't married." Harry teased.
"Loras isn't." Garlan said calmly.
Harry chuckled. "Nor is he like to marry. We will consider him for a place when one comes up, he is a formidable knight in his own right, his big brothers have seen to such, but our Aerin is first in line for a place. He has been begging us for several years now, it gets tiresome. We keep telling him that the Kingsguard serve for life, that one of the current members has to die to give him a place. He always seems to forget as such in his excitement."
Everyone fell quiet, the thunderous footfalls of Xeraxys were getting further away as Baelon led him back to the gates of Oldtown with his brothers and his Uncle to collect four more dragons to fly overhead. They needed to get to the pier.
"Where are these boats, Harry?" Rhaegar asked him, almost as if he were reading his very thoughts from his mind.
"This way, come."
Harry led the way down to the pier; they were prevented from getting to it when a sudden barrage of arrows came flying at them from what seemed to be all directions and Rhaegar all but tackled him to the floor and covered him with his own body.
"I think you did more damage doing that than the arrows would have, my love." Harry complained, rubbing his neck, which had snapped back when Rhaegar had taken him to ground.
"I should have cradled your head, I apologise, my love." Rhaegar said, cupping his large hand around Harry's neck and squeezing gently. "I panicked when I saw you in the firing line. I cannot see you hurt, never again."
It took Harry a moment to realise what Rhaegar was referring to, then his mind flashed him back to being squeezed into a tiny crow cage, hurt and bound, barely fed enough to stay alive, and he shivered. He still had the odd dream about it, even now decades passed.
"It's alright, Rhaegar. I was fine then and we're all going to be fine today. We will get Aelyx back and put this unrest down, with fire and blood if we need to. They obviously want a fight, let us give it to them."
"Be careful. I don't know what I would do if I lost you."
"If it were you, I would hand the crown to Rhaegon and I would grieve and mourn for you for the rest of my life. I would not be fit to rule if I lost you, my love. You are too important to me."
Rhaegar considered that. "I believe that I would do the same, my love." He said softly. "But we should try to stay alive today, we cannot put that sort of pressure on our Rhaegon."
Harry took his husband's hand and allowed him to pull him to his feet. Garlan and his men were formed in a line with their shields up, several of the shields were studded with arrows already.
"They're clearly not going to let us pass unmolested." Harry scowled. "They want to kill as many of us as they can, before we reach the boats."
"We can box you in, Your Graces." Garlan said. "If we put shields on all sides they cannot hit you and we can make it to the boats."
Harry nodded with that idea, there was little else that they could do and though it was slow and cumbersome to travel this way, it was much safer for all of them.
Five dragons, all in a line, not quite wing tip to wing tip to prevent clipping one another during the flight, passed overhead. Harry smiled at his clever boys, they were flying quickly, much too fast for anyone to nock an arrow, take aim and fire at them.
Not too long afterwards they reached the pier and the boats moored there. Rhaegar immediately followed Harry into his boat.
"Don't you think this is a little like sharing a donkey up to the Eyrie, my love?" Harry questioned worriedly.
"I don't care. This time we are not going to plummet down a mountain." Rhaegar insisted. "I'm not leaving you for a moment, not even just to go in a separate boat."
Garlan joined them and Harry worried that it was too much, there were three high profile men all in one boat…all their enemy had to do was aim at them, sink their boat by aiming at the hull, but he calmed himself as Garlan lodged his green painted shield, with his personal coat of arms, two golden roses of Highgarden, into the front of the boat, covering them. Three other men joined them in their boat and the shields boxed in him and Rhaegar. Him more so, as his husband covered his body with his own, slightly larger one. Harry had gotten used to Rhaegar doing as such over the years, but he didn't actually enjoy it, he doubted that anyone in his position would, but he'd grown tired of fighting Rhaegar over it. His husband was not going to stop doing as such, no matter how often Harry complained of it and fought against such treatment.
Rhaegar watched ahead of them, but Harry watched the air, looking for the sign that he needed. It was when he saw Viserion hovering over one of the islands that he directed everyone to head for it…it was the island where Aelyx was being kept.
"It's going to be heavily guarded, isn't it?" Garlan asked.
Harry didn't take his eyes from the river island. "Yes, but I think our boys have most of them in hand though." He smiled as Rhaelys, who was being directed by Rhaegon, spewed yellow-green fire all over the one half of the island as he flew overhead.
It was not much longer that they arrived, unmolested, to the clear side of the island that wasn't burning. It was then that they got barraged with arrows, before they could even get their feet on solid ground.
"Take out the Black Heart of Targaryen!" Someone screamed almost hysterically. "Remove the taint!"
"Remove the taint! Remove the taint!" Several men all around them took up the chant.
"It seems that they have issue with me." He said in exaggerated surprise.
Rhaegar's face had taken on a fierce glare and he pulled Harry in tight to him, protectively.
"They will not touch you." He growled.
"Why are they focusing on you, Your Grace?" Garlan asked. "You are so good for the realm, so kind and patient, why you?"
Garlan seemed to realise then that he had offered insult to Rhaegar and those brown eyes widened before he apologised to Rhaegar gracefully.
"It's alright, Garlan. We've known you since you were a mere babe." Harry insisted. "They're so focused on me because I'm the abomination who was able to birth our babes. They believe me tainted and think that if I were removed, then it would set everything to rights again. Viserys, Daenerys and Rhaegar are normal, but I and my babes are demon monsters in the eyes of the Faith."
"They will aim for the boys too?" Garlan asked.
Harry nodded. "A main reason why I have sent all of them to the air. It would be terrible for me to lose my Rhaegar, but it would be overall more devastating if one of our children were killed here today."
"I agree." Rhaegar said, touching him gently. "But no one is going to die today. No one but those who took Aelyx and have hurt him."
"I hope he can fly and they haven't damaged his wings." Harry fretted. "It will be overall more difficult to get him out safely if he cannot fly."
"Don't worry over such things needlessly." Rhaegar told him sternly. "We'll be with him soon, then we can see to him and check to see if he can fly or not and then plan accordingly, come."
They moved carefully over the island, going to where Viserion seemed to be hovering, beating his wings to keep the smoke and flames from getting near Aelyx, who was keening and calling continuously for his brothers now that he could not only hear and scent them, but he could see them too. He was calling desperately for their help. It was enough to make Harry's heart break and he moved a bit quicker.
"Kill the tainted King!" Another round of chanting started and Rhaegar tucked him up under his arm, to his chest, the both of them behind a large shield.
Thankfully Garlan's men had bows and crossbows too and once they had a target, they could loose their arrows and bolts and take down the members of the illegal Faith Militant.
They did lose men as well, those who got too into their bloodlust and moved from behind their protective shields to take out a man only for another to take him out as well. Or even the lucky arrows that found niches or gaps in the shields and went through flesh…if those men were lucky then it was just a flesh wound, if they were unlucky it found the neck or an organ and it was fatal. Again the lucky ones died quickly, or even immediately, the unlucky ones lingered in agony, crying for help or even for their Mother's. Harry swore that they would all be avenged.
They met a force of men on foot with their swords at the ready. Harry sucked in a breath and pulled his own sword from its scabbard, preparing himself for the fight to come.
"No risks." Rhaegar warned him.
"Not on either of our parts, Rhaegar." Harry said just as firmly.
Rhaegar nodded and they both raised their Highgarden shields that had been dropped by the dead and they locked them together, Rhaegar crouching to be more on a level with Harry, who was an inch or two shorter.
Rhaegon flew over the top of them again, much lower, and he directed Rhaelys to knock over the line of men with low hanging legs, down beat wings and an open jaw and Harry had to laugh…he had to as Rhaelys took nearly all of them from their feet, injuring some, killing others and terrifying the rest.
"It seems like we no longer need to worry." Harry chuckled.
"Let us make the most of this opportunity. Come." Rhaegar insisted as they moved beyond the scattered men, Garlan keeping pace beside them with a score of men.
They were followed, but Garlan's force easily held off the scattered, frightened men who were attacking them half-heartedly as Harry hurried to where he could now see Aelyx, chained down, red blood on his sides and Harry was furious. Aelyx was his babe and to see him being treated in such an appalling manner infuriated him beyond all reason.
He lost all sense and he ran straight to Aelyx's head, shushing him and cooing to him, trying to sooth him and comfort him and he could almost hear the relief in his babe's keens as Aelyx realised that his Mother was there for him. Whatever those filthy Maester's had done to Aelyx, it had left its mark and Harry would not have it so.
A shout of warning was all he got, and then there was pain and Harry pitched forward, off of his feet as he found himself with an arrow lodged in the top of his shoulder. A mere moment later Rhaegar was right behind him, a shield up and Harry could have kicked himself for his own stupidity. He was a complete danger to himself. He should have known better.
"Are you alright?" Rhaegar demanded, sounding as frantic as he looked.
"Yes, it's a flesh wound. Do me a favour and pull it free, Rhaegar." He said.
"Slowly?" Rhaegar asked.
"No!" Harry said urgently. "No, quickly, in one sharp jerk. It'll cause more pain if it's pulled out slowly. One nice yank, Rhaegar, with your hand against my back to push me forward as you pull."
Rhaegar did as Harry had asked him to do and Harry screeched in agony as the barbed arrowhead was removed from his body.
Rhaegar was there then, cradling him and hugging him tightly, his hand pressed tight over the wound, which was now bleeding freely.
Harry sucked up his pain and pushed it aside, Aelyx had to be his priority. His babes would always come before himself.
"Stop, enough." Harry said, pushing against Rhaegar and brushing his eyes clear of the tears of pain that had gathered there. "We need to get Aelyx free, love. The boys can take him back outside of Oldtown and they'll be much safer."
Rhaegar nodded, but it was not nearly as simple as that. Aelyx was chained tight, the barbed chains digging in and causing wounds as their babe shifted, wriggling, trying to get himself free. Harry grit his teeth and scratched Aelyx just how he liked, just under his eyes on the bony ridge there, trying to comfort him as Rhaegar directed Garlan and his men to heave on the chains, even as three men stood over Harry with their shields, one of them firing back at those archers who were aiming at him. There were still calls to take out the Black Heart of Targaryen going on behind them. Harry ignored them as best as he could.
Finally Rhaegar worked out how the chains were secured to the ground and he used Kingsfire, his Valyrian steel sword, to break the chains that had been melted to the stone floor. Aelyx keened as the barbs were pulled from under his scales and Harry soothed him gently, cooing to him and trying to ignore the throb in his own shoulder as he did so. His back was sticky with blood and his tunic was aggravating the wound. The members of the Kingsguard were going to have his guts for this.
Aelyx stood himself up once he was able and Harry ordered him to fly, to go with his brothers. He trusted that his sons and Viserys would look after him from here on out, as he and Rhaegar made their way back out of the Citadel on foot. Only Aelyx refused to leave him.
"Fly on him, Harry." Rhaegar ordered.
"I'm not leaving you!" Harry hissed furiously.
"It's for our Aelyx, he needs you!" Rhaegar said back angrily. "The Faith Militant are trying to kill you, you Haradarian, you need to go with him."
"They will try to kill as many of us as possible, don't try to tell me otherwise. Bad things always happen when we're away from one another, Rhaegar." Harry said stubbornly. "Aelyx, sōvēs!" He ordered more sternly, putting a bite to his words, the one that all of his babes, human or dragon alike, knew not to disobey.
Aelyx wailed unhappily, but he took flight after his brothers passed overhead and called out to him. Harry saw Rhaegon slow Rhaelys down so they could support Aelyx as he flew rather wonkily and wobbly from being hurt and chained down for so long.
"Right, now no talk of leaving either of us anywhere. We're going together." He said sternly.
Rhaegar snorted in amusement before bending to kiss him. They started back to the small fleet of boats, avoiding the brightly coloured flames, all with a core of green or gold. Rhaelys and Viserion had been very busy.
There seemed to be no one left alive on the island with them, at least not anyone who would be bothering them as Harry watched one man screaming over his own stump of an elbow, where his hand and lower arm used to be.
It was when they reached the bank of the Honeywine that their problems started again as they lost several men to arrows and even one to a spear before they could even climb out of the boats.
Harry rolled onto the pier, with much more difficulty than his younger years, and he crouched with a shield to cover Rhaegar and Garlan as they got out to join him, making a wall of shields to allow more men to climb out and join them on the pier.
"You're the strategist here, Harry, what are we doing?" Rhaegar asked him.
"Trying not to die." Harry quipped back. "No, our best option is to keep together. From my view, they outnumber us. We need to stay together and keep as covered as possible. Be mindful that we can't kill them all, so we need to watch our backs as well as our fronts." He said seriously.
"You should have gone with Aelyx." Rhaegar told him worriedly.
"Perhaps you ought not to have come at all." Harry snarled. "We are co-Kings, Rhaegar. I am not now, nor have I ever been, your Queen. Stop treating me as if I am lesser."
"I'm not!" Rhaegar told him furiously. "I am treating you as a loved one and I wish that you were not here in this position, in this sort of danger."
"None of you would ever get out alive if I were not here!" Harry snapped. "I will not have you sacrificing your life when I can get you out."
"I…Your Graces?" Garlan interrupted their stony silence as they glared at one another. "Perhaps this is not the best place for this conversation?"
Harry breathed deeply and he nodded. "You are right, Garlan. Come, let us get out of this place first. They have no one on the outer walls, they're all inside the city and on top of buildings. We go around the city, not through it, and by now we have to assume that they have overwhelmed the guards in Oldtown too, and have taken that over as well as the Citadel."
"It will take us longer to go around than through!" Rhaegar countered.
"Of course it will, but it is also the safest way, Rhaegar. I was right, you are all lucky that I remained! Going through the city would have you targeted on all sides! Look at the buildings, look at where they could aim from! They could come from all sides and above at once, there is no cover inside the city!"
"So you would put a wall to our backs? We could be pinned in on all sides with no option to get through the wall while giving them ample time to kill us all as we take the longest route back to the gates!"
Harry glared at Rhaegar. "Just who is the strategist here, Rhaegar?" He demanded. "Do as you have always done before and defer this decision to me! Why is today so different?"
"We don't have nearly as many men as we usually have with us." Rhaegar explained. "We are not going to outlast our enemy if we don't take risks."
"There are risks, Rhaegar, and then there is a suicide venture through the centre of the city. As you said putting a wall to our backs is a risk, but it is a safer risk that having nothing to protect our backs."
Rhaegar breathed heavily for several moments, then he nodded. "I trust you." Was all he said.
Harry reached up to kiss him. "I love you. I would see us all safely from this place, so that we might storm it another day, with the royal army."
Rhaegar nodded. "Hopefully we can kill a great many here today, then round up those injured and make them talk."
Harry nodded, even as he set off at the head of the group to start their long, arduous walk around the Citadel, around Oldtown and back to the gates. "We get names from them, I haven't seen any Maesters yet, but then they are truly not fighting men, which is why they have rounded up these men and dubbed them the new Faith Militant, to use them for their own purpose. I have heard a few familiar voices however, especially the first call to kill the Black Heart. Only a Maester would have thought to call me as such, or perhaps a Septon, but I never met any Septons here in my time, so I would not recognise their voice as I would an Archmaester's whom I had learnt from and studied under."
"You did not pray in the two years that you were here?" Rhaegar asked him in surprise.
"No, I spent some time in the godswood, but I was far too busy learning to pray properly. Perhaps that is the reason they dislike me so." He chuckled ruefully.
They fell silent as they edged their way around the Citadel, through the several feet of clear space between the city wall and the nearest buildings. It gave them more space to stay together, to fight if they needed, as opposed to the narrow streets of Oldtown, where they would only be able to stand two or three men abreast.
They made it out of the Citadel with barely any trouble and into Oldtown, and this was the dangerous part of their journey, as their enemy was going to be behind them also, coming out of the Citadel too. They hadn't made it three steps each before the first arrows flew at them and Harry ducked behind his shield quickly.
"Harry, are you okay?" Rhaegar called out to him urgently.
"Yes, perfectly fine and you, Rhaegar?"
"I'm unhurt." His husband shouted back and it made Harry's chest lighten some. He would not stop fretting until they were safely away from this place, however.
Perhaps he should have waited for the royal army to be called in and sent to meet them, but he had been so worried for Aelyx that he just was not content to wait too long and the royal army, and all their bannermen, was a rather large force to mobilise that would be slow and he had not wanted to wait, not while Aelyx could be hurt or even dying. The very thought had pushed him to almost immediate action, the unknowing had driven him half mad before he'd even arrived in Oldtown…he could not have waited.
Their progress was slow, they were harried from behind and to the side as they tried to make their escape and Harry truly thought that Rhaegar was right, they were not going to outlast their pursuers, when the scrabbling of claws on rock caught his attention and Viserion came around the corner from above them, walking along the abandoned outer wall of Oldtown. Viserys was perched upon him, looking out for them.
"There you are. Rhaegon said that you would take the outside wall." He declared and Harry smiled. Rhaegon would be a fine King.
"It is not going to plan." Harry admitted.
"That is why I am here." Viserys insisted as he used Viserion as a deterrent. The cream and gold dragon spitting golden-orange fire at anyone who came too close, chasing their pursuers backwards. "Baelon is a little further down the wall on Xeraxys, making sure the way stays clear."
"Run." Harry told the Highgarden men, under Garlan's command. "We have it from here."
"Leave them your shields." Garlan directed at two men, who immediately gave over their shields, so that Harry and Rhaegar now had two apiece. "Fix one to your backs." Garlan told them.
Harry nodded and he did as told, slinging the one shield over his back and getting Rhaegar to fix it into place before doing the same to his husband, making absolutely sure that the straps were secure and that the shield would not come loose while they ran.
"We will see you soon, Garlan. The dragons lingering out the front will cover your journey back to Highgarden."
Garlan nodded. "Stay safe, Your Graces."
Harry waited half a heartbeat for the Highgarden men to run as fast as they could, their shields in their right hands, protecting their bodies from any arrows that came from the city. Harry kissed Rhaegar and then passed his sword to his left hand and his shield to the right. Rhaegar did the same.
"Viserys, keep your wits with you." Harry told his little brother. "You are as much a target as we are!"
"You are the Kings, I am but a mere Prince of Dragonstone. Rhaegon is the crown Prince and he is out on the fields before the city."
"Take no risks!" Harry hissed seriously.
Viserys nodded his understanding and then he and Rhaegar started running, trying not to swing their right arms that held their heavy shields protectively over their bodies.
Everything was going well, Baelon was keeping Xeraxys with the Highgarden men, offering them cover and protection, as Viserys kept Viserion with them. It almost seemed too good to be true, it truly seemed as if they were going to get out…then Rhaegar yelled and he dropped to the floor like a stone. He screamed and clutched at his side, an arrow sticking carefully through his fingers of the hand he had raised to press against the wound.
Harry immediately skidded to a halt and dived back to shield his husband's head with his borrowed shield. Rhaegar had two arrows sticking out of him, one in his lower leg that had caused him to fall and one high in his side, the one that he was holding and seemed to be causing him the most pain, which had caught him as he fell. Rhaegar was breathing strangely and Harry panicked.
"Harry, Rhaegar!" Viserys called out desperately. "What happened?"
"Rhaegar's been injured!" Harry shouted. "Viserys, come down here, take him on Viserion, straight back to Highgarden, it is closer!"
"It'll leave you with no protection!" Rhaegar argued furiously, his words coming out strangely high pitched, even as blood streamed from his mouth and nose, where he'd smashed both into the cobbles of the street as he fell.
Harry ignored him as Viserys led Viserion down off of the wall, sending a group of men scattering for cover as he unleashed the gold-orange fire at them. Viserys helped Harry to get Rhaegar onto Viserion and then the dragon was back to climbing up the wall with a panicked order of 'hep dōros'.
"I'm not leaving you!" Rhaegar cried out, even as he was flopped like a boned fish over Viserion's neck, screaming out uncontrollably at the pain of the action.
"You have no choice, my love." Harry said, his heart in his throat as his eyes medically assessed the wounds to his husband. "Remember that I love you, always."
"No! No! Viserys, stop!" Rhaegar was near tears, Harry could hear it, but whether they were from emotion or pain, it was impossible to tell.
Harry shook his head when Viserys looked at him. "Those wounds need tending to quickly, Viserys, or he's going to get an infection and die. I don't like the pace or sound of his breathing, that is the same side that Baratheon smashed in, even now his lung could be pierced. Take him straight to Highgarden. Do not stop."
Viserys didn't like it, but he nodded resolutely and he directed Viserion to take flight with a harsh command of 'sōvēs.'
Then Harry was alone and his fear increased tenfold. He didn't wait around. He took Rhaegar's dropped sword, there was no way that he was leaving Kingsfire here for these people to find and use against them, before he picked up his shield, and then he ran. He ran as fast as he could, cursing his aging body. He had never felt so old and stiff before in his life, and that assessment included all of the numerous times that he had given birth and the time after he had been rescued from the Kingswood Brotherhood also.
He was out of breath and gasping, his sides hurting and his lungs burning, but not nearly as badly as his shoulder, which was throbbing with every footfall. He saw the group of crudely armed men ahead of him and before they could even react to him running towards them, he cut inside and he went into the city. Exactly what he'd told the others not to do, but then he was just one man, even with Kingsfire he could not fight off a group of armed men by himself, not even if they were merely wielding clubs, kitchen knives and cudgels. They could still kill him easily enough, all it would take was them surrounding him and overwhelming him with superior numbers and just one blow to the head could be enough to kill him.
"Your Grace!" A young woman whispered, hanging out of a door to a small, modest house. "Quickly!" She urged him, her terrified eyes wide with panic and Harry took the escape offered to him, hurrying his pace, forcing himself to move through the pain and the breathlessness.
He made it into the little house and he was urged to huddle down as the door was slammed closed and barricaded. There were quite a few smallfolk cowering inside.
"We heard the dragon crying, Your Grace." One man said in a rush. "But no one was allowed to leave Oldtown. The Septon said it was necessary, he called for volunteers to make a military group. People were scared, not to join meant that you were against the Faith and the Maesters, most people didn't know no better."
Harry nodded his understanding. "They knew that Rhaegar and I would come for the dragon. It was why they risked themselves, and all of you too, by taking him, so that we would come here, so that they could try to kill us. All it would have taken was for Aelyx to break free and he would have rampaged through the entire of Oldtown, burning and crushing everything in his pain and his fear. We cannot let this rebellion threaten the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. We will execute all those involved."
The smallfolk all nodded, as if they understood his reasoning. Harry hoped that they did.
"When we heard them at their rallies." The woman who had let him in the house started, then she stopped and shuddered. "They were calling for your death, Your Grace, you who had done nothing to hurt no one!"
"It was why we refused to let the Maesters and Septon poison us as they have others." The man nodded.
"They started calling you a taint, Your Grace!" Another, older woman burst out in a hush. "The Black Heart of Targaryen, they said, mutilating your honoured name! As if any one would believe that you were anything but a sweet man with a heart of goodness!"
"You were always Haradarian the Heart, travellers come bearing stories of your generosity, your kindness with them. From when you were a young sweet boy, to a strong, caring man. There is no blackness to your heart and I would slay all who dared disagree if I had but half the strength of my youth." An old, withered man wrapped in a thick blanket declared in a hushed voice. "I was there upon your blessed birth! Right in the Great Sept of Baelor as you were born on the very day of the holy Mother! See I was living in Kings Landing then and I was at that service when you arrived, Your Grace. There are those of us who still know that you are favoured by the Gods! There are those of us even here, so far away from the Capital, who know who you truly are. My children and their children know rightly!" He insisted proudly.
"Do the dragons not frighten you?" He asked curiously, thinking back to those in the Dragonpit, who had believed that the dragons terrorised all those of the Seven Kingdoms just by merely living.
"They ain't never done nothing either!" The woman burst out. "I took the children to see the hunting grounds, to show them that the dragons were well fed and wouldn't bother us none and while we was there, Your Grace, a dragon landed not a great distance from us, making the ground tremble, almost sending us all to our knees. It saw us, it did! It even walked over to look at us more closely. The children thought then that they would be eaten, but I chastised them harshly that the Kings' dragons wouldn't hurt us and it didn't. It bent its great head, took a deep sniff and then turned right back around to hunt the cattle, Your Grace!"
Harry didn't have the heart to tell her that the dragon had likely gone to investigate them and to scent them as a food source. If they had been farmers, and had smelt like any sort of animal, they would have been eaten there and then with no hesitation. By luck they hadn't and the dragon had remembered his training and to avoid the scent of humans.
"We watched the great, green and blue dragon eat, Your Grace, the children happier and so fascinated. They insisted on buying a piglet and we left it with the servants, who thanked us graciously in your name for the donation to the dragons."
"That was very generous of you, thank you." Harry smiled politely. The dragon they had seen had thankfully been Maegon, one of their most tolerant dragons and one of the least likely to attack humans on a whim.
"I was there, Your Grace, when you addressed the people when you first came to Summerhall." One of the younger men said. "What you and King Rhaegar said made sense to me, if the dragons are well fed, they won't hurt no one. I always buy a piglet or a lamb or a kid when I know I'll be passing by the hunting grounds."
The tramp of armoured men running by silenced them all and he saw many of the women praying silently to the Seven, their lips moving furiously with no sound as they clutched crudely carved statues of the Gods in their tightly clasped hands.
It was the same every couple of minutes now and they had no time to speak again, all of them too frightened to do so as Harry huddled out of view, worrying about his children and willing them to take flight back to Summerhall. He prayed himself, but not for himself, he instead prayed for Rhaegar. He prayed that his husband lived. His mind kept flashing back to seeing Rhaegar's blooded face, the two arrows stuck in his body, the one that had caught the previously broken ribs and seemed to have broken them again, or at the least pierced a lung by the sound of Rhaegar's pained, laboured breathing and he wanted to vomit. He could not repress the shiver of horror and fear that went through him as he recalled the memory. He prayed that Rhaegar lived as he huddled down with this family of smallfolk willing to help him, to wait out the searches that were being carried out to find him.
He would likely be imprisoned if he was caught, as Aelyx had been, or perhaps the men of the new Faith Militant even had orders to kill him on sight, he didn't know. What he did know, however, was that as soon as they had cleared the streets without finding him, they would then start kicking down doors and searching the houses, he would need to be gone by then, to save these poor smallfolk the consequences of being found harbouring him when all of the Citadel was against him, the Maesters and the Septon both. He just had to figure out a way in which to actually do so safely, for the smallfolk and for himself.
Ser Barristan was absolutely furious with his two Kings. With the whole royal family if he were honest, well…most of them at least. King Rhaegar was on his death bed and kept trying to get up every other hour, despite his rather life threatening injuries and a leg that refused to hold any weight. King Haradarian was missing, still in Oldtown they believed, perhaps even a prisoner of hostile forces once more or even dead for all they knew. The crown Prince Rhaegon had taken over the duties of the King while both of his parents were incapacitated, as per Haradarian and Rhaegar's own written law, but all he cared about was storming Oldtown and finding his missing Mother and he refused to listen to any counsel from anyone as he ordered the royal army to be called and prepared. He was insistent on heading it himself, instead of giving the command to someone else. It terrified them all, this was the tiny babe they had seen curled up in a shawl, the same boy they had seen throwing a tantrum because he did not want to wear his new boots or eat his carrots. They had watched Rhaegon grow from babe to boy to man and it was very difficult to let go and see him walk into such dangers, but he was a man now himself, he was five-and-twenty, he was a husband, he was a Father of two beautiful little girls, he had earned the right for their respect.
Helaena had sent a raven and insisted that the entire might of Highgarden was at her brother's disposal, as per her husband, Willas', own words and Rhaegon had accepted the offer graciously and he'd told Helaena through a replied raven that he would pick up the army from Highgarden on his way to Oldtown with the royal army.
Daenerys had also sent a raven to the Capital, informing her nephew Rhaegon, who was older than she was, that her good-grandfather had pledged all his men to her family to find the missing King, and to avenge the lunacy of the Maesters who had taken Aelyx and had dared to set upon the royal family in the first place. All able men of Harrenhal had been sent to them at the Capital, they had arrived under the command of Ser Oslyn Whent, Daenerys' beloved husband, a few days previously, ready and willing to fight for their royal family.
Of course as soon as Rhaegar had heard that there was to be a march on Oldtown to find his brother-husband, he insisted on getting up and joining them, despite the fact that he was limping with his injured leg and could hardly breathe right with his broken ribs, the same ribs that Robert Baratheon had smashed in upon the Trident. He had promptly fallen down the stairs when his leg had given in under his weight and he had damaged his body even more and now he wheezed painfully on every exhale. Lord Jon Connington barely left Rhaegar's side after that, insisting that he was guarding the King…when Ser Arthur had pointed out angrily that it was their place as the Kingsguard to watch over Rhaegar, Lord Jon had angrily pointed out that it was their job to protect the reigning King, who was currently Rhaegon, not Rhaegar, and the Others take him, he was right.
So the seven of them were following around King Rhaegon, who was now five-and-twenty and had his own baby daughters, two of them, Shaea and Rhaenys, with his wife Janei Lannister. Where had the little babe they'd known gone? The one who all but terrorised them as a small boy, running about the Red Keep, hiding from them, climbing curtains, pulling down tapestries and walking across the top of walls that had a hundred foot drops on the other side? Or the one time that he had opened up his own leg with his Father's Valyrian steel sword, Kingsfire, surely that had not been fifteen years ago when he remembered it as if it were yesterday?
Ser Arthur and Prince Lewyn had arrived on dragon back with the twins, Aenys and Aerin, not long after Rhaegar himself had been brought over from Highgarden to Kings Landing after being hastily patched up before being sent to Grand Maester Gormon. Baelon had once again resumed control of his palace from his younger brother Valarr and he had locked up Summerhall to protect his sisters and younger brothers, as well as all those married into the Targaryen family and the babes that they had had.
They would have preferred that the royal family were safely in Kings Landing and under their own protection, of course, and not so close to Oldtown and the Citadel, but it was far too dangerous to move them all at this moment and they didn't have the time to escort them home properly, not when Haradarian could be in life threatening danger, he needed to be their priority at the moment and the Princes and Princesses would be safe locked up at Summerhall. As King Rhaegon kept insisting to them, Baelon would look after the others, they needed to find his Mother before he was tortured or killed.
Barristan once again cursed King Haradarian and his penchant for always finding trouble and danger. Of all those who had gone to Oldtown, seven members of the royal family, Garlan Tyrell and all of the Highgarden men he had taken with him and out of them all it was Haradarian who was lost or taken prisoner. He would never have expected Rhaegar to be injured though, nor for him to have lost the precious gift of Kingsfire, that Haradarian had forged for him with his own hands. Rhaegar treasured the sword if only slightly less than he did his own children and he had lost it in Oldtown, much to his fury and frustration, as he was like to never get it back now that it was lost.
"We should have left yesterday!" Rhaegon fumed, all but seething as he paced like a caged animal. "Those people could be doing the gods only know what to my Mother! I won't stand for it. It'll take us days at a hard march to reach Oldtown as is!"
"Your Grace, you need to calm yourself." Prince Lewyn insisted soothingly.
Rhaegon blinked, still not used to being referred to as 'Your Grace' and it threw him from his anger, thankfully. He would be able to think more rationally without the judgement-clouding anger filling his mind.
"My Mother might be being tortured at this very moment!" Rhaegon snapped.
"Or he might be safely hidden within Oldtown. He spent two and a half years there, Your Grace, he might have found a hide hole to nestle into that he remembered from his youth."
"Or he might be on his way back to Summerhall as we speak, we don't know that they caught him, we do not know if he has been hurt as your Father was, Your Grace."
Rhaegon blew out a breath. "Either way, I want him found and the sooner we leave, the sooner we'll reach him."
"Let us be on our way, then." Barristan soothed.
"We're ready?" Rhaegon asked then, much happier, once again distracted from his anger.
Barristan nodded. "Any stragglers are like to be holding back on purpose, Your Grace. We would do better not waiting for them and then penalising them for their lack of haste once this is over."
Rhaegon sucked in a breath and he nodded his understanding, realising the truth of what was being said to him.
"They will rue the day that they decided to stall the aid to my Mother." Rhaegon promised, a dark look covering his indigo eyes, a perfect match to his Father's.
"Are you leaving?" A voice called out and Barristan's rage grew…so too did Rhaegon's.
"You shouldn't be out of bed, Father!" Rhaegon insisted harshly. "Are you trying to do yourself more of an injury? Are you trying to kill yourself?"
"The biggest injury I have is to my heart!" Rhaegar declared to his son. "I do not even feel these body wounds over the pain of losing my beloved husband! Viserys about ripped out my heart when he took me from Harry's side and I could do nothing to get back to him. Leaving him there by himself, in that hostile place, alone and undefended…" Rhaegar shuddered and closed sad purple eyes. "I need him back, Rhaegon. I need him to be safe and I need him back here with me."
"I will get him back for you." Rhaegon promised, his words catching in his throat at the raw emotion his Father was showing.
"You don't understand, Rhaegon. I should never have left him. I need to be the one to go back and get him. He is my heart, if anything were to happen to him, it would mean my life."
"It will mean your life if you do go." Ser Arthur chastised him, as only an old friend who had grown with the King could. "We are not going to Oldtown to rescue King Haradarian only to have you fall to the Stranger along the way. We would have lost King Haradarian before we'd even found him if as such were to happen."
"I'm not being left behind." Rhaegar raged. "You can't stop me!"
"They can't, but I can, Father. I am the King and I order you to stay here." Rhaegon said, a little nervously, as only a boy standing up to his Father for the first time could be, but he was strong and firm too. He would not allow Rhaegar to accompany them.
Rhaegar turned on his son as quickly as a lightning flash. "You are my son and you will remember as such!" He spat. "I am still the King and I will be the King until I am dead!"
"No." Rhaegon contradicted, his hands clenching at his sides to hide his discomfort. "The law that you and Mother wrote together stipulates clearly that if neither King is in a fit state to rule, the crown will temporarily pass to the crown Prince, which is me. I am the King until you recover or Mother comes back well. As such I order you to stay in bed to recover your strength and leave this matter to me!"
Both Rhaegon and Rhaegar turned at the title to face Jon Connington, but it was Rhaegon who answered.
"Take him back to his room and keep him resting, Lord Connington." He ordered. "Have Grand Maester Gormon see that he hasn't pulled his stitching. If he gets out of bed again, I wish for him to be put to sleep, so that he can rest free of fretting."
"I am not a cripple!"
"You may be if you carry on pushing yourself with that leg." Ser Arthur said.
"Come on, Rhaegar." Jon insisted. "The sooner you rest, the sooner you will recover. If you rest enough you will be better and back on your feet by the time Harry comes home."
Rhaegar looked so angry, his pale face flushed, but there was little that he could do. He and Harry had written that little clause, at the time it had seemed a brilliant way to prevent another King such as their Father from keeping the Iron Throne while suffering from such madness that it affected the entire realm. He had not understood exactly how frustrating it was going to be when he was merely injured and had to watch his son set up the rescue party to go and find his missing husband when he wanted to ride to Oldtown and raze it to the ground to find Harry himself.
He was pulled in the direction of the bedchambers that he shared with Harry and he couldn't, he just couldn't go there, he stopped himself and he turned in the other direction. He went to sit in the solar instead, choosing to rest there, but it did little to help him. He saw Harry in every room he went in, he heard Harry's laughter, his voice as they spoke together. He could recall their conversations perfectly, he could almost feel Harry's breath in his ear. He remembered watching Harry laughing and rolling on this very floor, playing with their young babes. He closed his eyes and he desperately tried to force the memories from his mind, but he believed that he could smell Harry, that he could feel his skin, his hair, his eyes snapped open when he felt the touch on his arm, having convinced himself that Harry was in front of him, only to see Jon instead.
"Don't touch me." He snapped. "I can't have anyone but Harry touch me. I need him back."
"It…it has been six days, Rhaegar." Jon told him.
Rhaegar's purple eyes blazed with fury. "How dare you even suggest that he is so weak as to succumb after just six days! He was gone a turn when the Kingswood Brotherhood kept him captive, torturing and violating him, and he came out of that alive!"
"He was a young boy back then, Rhaegar." Jon told him quietly. "He is one-and-forty now, it is not the same."
"Shut up!" Rhaegar growled furiously. "Shut up now!"
He got back to his feet and he started pacing, the limp hindering his progress as he hobbled back and forth, hearing the horns as Rhaegon led the royal army off towards Oldtown, where his Harry was stuck, waiting for him to come back to get him. He growled again and he tugged at his hair in frustration. He had never felt so useless in his life.
He almost subconsciously rubbed at his chest, where an arrow had taken him, shattering the ribs that Robert Baratheon had smashed like dry tinder twenty-three years previously.
"You need to rest." Jon tried, but Rhaegar gave him a filthy look and continued his hobbled pacing. "You will only injure yourself further!" Jon told him.
"I don't care!" Rhaegar hissed, rubbing his ribs harder as they throbbed.
"You have children to look after, Rhaegar. How is Aenar's broken arm? Do you even know?"
Rhaegar was furious with Jon, but he was now also feeling guilty. He had forgotten that his eight year old son had a recently broken arm and would be in pain and distress while his Father was injured at Kings Landing and his Mother was lost in Oldtown. He hoped that Baelon was taking care of him and giving him milk of the poppy, or that Valarr had stepped up as Harry had shown him how to dose out the milk of the poppy to Aenar.
"Leave me!" He commanded, almost hyperventilating in his anger, filled with emotions that he couldn't even name or control.
Jon gave him a look, but he did eventually leave him alone in the solar. He would send in Grand Maester Gormon, but Rhaegar would prefer him to Jon at this moment in time. His long-time friend was only making him feel worse, making his anger worse and on top of that, he now felt fresh guilt. Harry would be ashamed of him for not taking care of their babes, they had few who remained to them as it was, only truly their sweet Naerys and the eight year old Aenar and Aeron. Their twins, Maelor and Maella, would only be with them for a very short while longer, Maella was already speaking of marriage and Maelor was taken with a young girl named Ella Vance. Very soon they would all be grown too and setting up their own lives and families and he and Harry would be alone…together, always together. He should never have left Oldtown without Harry, his heart.
Harry cursed his terrible luck as he crouched as silently as he could in the godswood. He had climbed the heart tree two days previous and he had yet to leave it. The power he always felt here had transformed the rather neglected godswood into a thriving, living space of trees, plants and insects.
He had come here as soon as he'd heard the screaming start and the splintering of wood as doors were kicked in and the smallfolk within their homes were dragged out and questioned, their homes torn apart as men searched every inch of it for him. He had quickly thanked the family profusely for harbouring him, despite the danger to themselves, for two days and their corresponding nights before he had slipped out into the streets and he'd ran to where he knew the godswood was from his time here as a young boy. He had been hiding here ever since, for a further two days and nights.
He knew that he couldn't stay here, however, not least because he was in desperate need of water, but eventually he would be found, it was only inevitable. He needed to move, he needed to get out of Oldtown. He needed to know that Rhaegar was alive and mending, he knew his husband far too well, he knew that Rhaegar would not be resting, he would not be taking care of himself or his injuries and if he was still at Highgarden, then he knew that Helaena would pander to her Father, to his own detriment. He hoped that Willas had sent Rhaegar on to Kings Landing with Viserys after making sure that he wasn't in any immediate danger of dying. At least there were people in Kings Landing who wouldn't accept Rhaegar's nonsense and would keep him resting and healing, chief among them, their Kingsguard and Grand Maester Gormon.
He had been busy up in the heart tree, directing his magic to grow a small, thin sapling that had been half way dead, but had been perfectly placed, very close to the outside wall. He had been feeding it with the last of his strength and he now judged it to be thick enough to hold his weight. He would need to dash to it, climb it and then find some way down the other side. It was not going to be easy and he judged himself in for a broken arm like his babe Aenar, but it was all he could do. He just hoped that he didn't break a leg or worse, his back or neck.
He waited until all he could hear was the wind rustling the leaves of the trees, the voices of men had all faded to nothing, no sounds of armour or shields or any boot falls. He stole his moment, slipping down the heart tree, almost dancing around the trunks of other trees, weaving around large bushes and patches of thorny brambles, before making a final dash for the tree that he had meticulously grown over the last two nights. He once again cursed his age as he was not as quick as he'd been in his youth. Perhaps it was time to hand everything over to Rhaegon, who at five-and-twenty was in a much better state to do these sorts of things than he was. He was too damned old for this nonsense.
He clambered inelegantly up the tree, further darkening his mood as he could scramble up a tree like a fucking squirrel as a boy, yet now he made the tree into an inaccessible mountain at nearly forty-two. He almost judged himself deserving of being caught, but thankfully he wasn't and he huddled up in the branches, covered in leaves as he listened with bated breath for any cries of alarm to be raised that would be indicative of him being spotted by any of those searching for him. Nothing came and after long minutes of silence with no cries or shouts, with his heart hammering in his chest and the blood roaring through his ears, he breathed out a relieved, shaky sigh.
Breathing raggedly from his exertion and from the fear of being caught, he took a moment to centre himself and then he slipped down a few branches and shimmied out onto the outer wall of the city. He peered over the other side and he grimaced. It was a touch higher than he'd thought it would be, especially looking down at the ground from up here. There was nothing else for it, he had to get out of the city before he was found or he would be as good as dead. He would much rather die of his own accord, attempting to escape, than to be found huddled up like a scared babe and killed on an enemy sword.
Gritting his teeth and sucking in a steadying breath, he lowered himself over the wall quickly, before he was seen, and he lowered himself down as far as he could, holding onto the edge of the rough stone wall with just his fingertips, before he let himself drop into thin air. He had a moment of weightlessness, of falling, and then he impacted hard into the solid ground and he tried not to scream as the pain tore through his body, the force knocking the breath from his lungs.
It took much too long for him to catch his breath again, much too long to remember what was happening and where he was and why. He carefully, gingerly, tested his body, lifting and rolling each part of it to check for injuries. Miraculously, he seemed to be completely unharmed. He thanked all the Gods, the old and the new, for his escape, but he was still not out of danger, not yet. He might now have been outside the walls of the hostile city, but there were going to be guards looking out for approaching armies, namely the royal army and all their banners. They would easily see him if he started to run out into the open fields and then it was only a matter of picking him off with an arrow to the back.
He would need to be careful, there were open fields all around Oldtown, but if he waited until night fell, here against the wall, hidden in the bushes and scrubby weeds, then he'd have a higher chance of survival. He sighed. At least that would give him some time to recover from his desperate fall from the high city walls. He still needed a drink of water too. Perhaps he should run towards the Honeywine, take a deep, cleansing drink and fill up his single water skin that had since gone dry, before following the river to Brightwater Keep, which was the seat of house Florent…he would need to be careful navigating the Keep though, Rhea Florent was married to Lord Leyton of Hightower…if Lord Leyton had sided with his Maesters and the Septon of his city of Oldtown, despite the fact that his daughter Alerie had been married to his liege Lord, Mace Tyrell, whose son Willas was now Lord of Highgarden, then the Florents might try to seize him and hand him back to the Maesters and the Faith of Oldtown. He would be better off skirting Brightwater Keep and heading straight for Highgarden, keeping off of the Roseroad and skirting the Mander too, just in case.
He sat with his back to the wall, covered in bushes and shrubs and he tried to plan his way to Highgarden, but whichever way he chose, without a horse it was going to take him weeks of walking to get there safely. He sighed and sat back, waiting for the sun to set so that he could start his long, dangerous journey to Highgarden, the closest city that was assuredly friendly to him.
He couldn't wait to see his Helaena, he needed to know that Rhaegar was fine and well and that his young Aenar was being looked after properly and that Aelyx was recovering from his captivity and the wounds inflicted upon him by the cruel Maesters.
He didn't want to be stuck here any longer, he didn't want to spend the next few weeks walking all the way back to Highgarden, but currently he had no other choice if he wanted to get back to his family alive at all. He would have to grit his teeth and do it, then he could rest and exact his revenge upon the Maesters and the Faith of the Seven, who had broken the law by setting up a Faith Militant, despite the stringent laws that forbade any religion from taking up arms. They had only been ordered to do as such because none of the Maesters were fighting men. They couldn't have done this by themselves, they needed the poor, frightened smallfolk to fight for them, to be their sword and shield, as men of learning were rarely men of action. They would be punished for their illegal actions, he swore it.
Helaena was worried, but she tried not to show it as she led her young son, Garyn, to break his fast in the solar. It had been almost a turn since the initial assault on Oldtown, two weeks since Rhaegon had led the royal army, including her husband and his two brothers and Renly Baratheon, who preferred to be called Tyrell, to the gates of Oldtown to find their missing Mother.
The Faith Militant rebellion had been put down and several Archmaesters, a dozen Maesters and the Septon had all been arrested for their crimes against the Seven Kingdoms and their treason towards the royal family. Oldtown had been turned upside down, but there was no sign of their lost Mother anywhere within the city.
Rhaegon had intensively questioned those imprisoned, even as a gentler approach was used for the terrified smallfolk to see what they knew, but apart from one family of smallfolk, who Willas had told her in a raven had insisted that they had harboured the King in their small home for two days and two nights, no one had seen her Mother at all.
Garyn was, of course, very inquisitive and curious about all the fuss and commotion. He knew that his 'Nan' was missing, that his Father and Uncles had gone to rescue him, but he didn't truly understand why or what was happening and Helaena tried to keep his routine as normal as possible, with the help of her good-sister, Margaery, to try not to show him her deep worry, but he was a very observant boy, as she had been herself at his age, and he picked up on things regardless, particularly her lack of sleep and how very little she was eating, much to her frustration and exasperation.
"When is Father coming home?" Garyn asked her as he picked up some bread and dipped it in honey.
"Soon, sweetness." She said with a bright smile. "He's just helping your Uncle Rhaegon."
Garyn nodded his understanding and he went back to his meal. Helaena joined him, eating small morsels for her son's sake, but she was unable to stomach much more than a few chunks of bread dipped honey washed down with some water. She just wanted her Mother to be found safely, for one of those awful, cruel Maesters to tell them where he was, to say what they had done with him, to admit to where they were keeping him. It was driving her…all of them, completely mad.
After breaking their fast, having pretended to her son that she had eaten more than she truly had, Helaena handed Garyn off to the master-at-arms for him to learn his sword play, which then left her free to fret and worry about her Mother and his whereabouts freely, without also having to worry about her son picking up on her fears and having it then disturb him and his routine, at least until the noon meal came about, however, when she took charge of Garyn again ad she had to lock away all of her worry and fear under a mask of smiles and bright, airy happiness that she truly didn't feel.
She spoke with her son gently, humming in all the right places as he regaled her with a blow-by-blow account of his practice in the yard and he mentioned several times that Ser Alleran had thought him to be good enough to become a knight, once he was older. Helaena praised him enthusiastically every time that he mentioned it, to encourage him, of course. Margaery also helped her with this, by telling Garyn of all the knights of house Tyrell, all of the legends that had been surrounding their family for centuries and that one day, once he was old enough, he would join his Uncles, Garlan and Loras, as a knight of house Tyrell.
It was just after the noon meal when things took a rather unexpected turn, when a servant came hurrying to her, breathless, sweating and red faced, claiming that her Mother, the King Haradarian, had stumbled through the city gates and that the guards had immediately whisked him to the Maester's sick rooms.
Helaena had passed Garyn off to the servant with instructions to look after him and she lost all dignity as she picked up her skirts and ran all the way to the sick rooms, ignoring shouts of alarm from her attending ladies as they saw her, and the city guards who didn't know what was happening and called out inquiries as to what was wrong. The poor Septa of Highgarden had all but fainted as she saw Helaena running through the hallways, showing off her lower legs to all who cared to see them, but she did not care and neither would her husband begrudge her her moment of panicked flight after hearing such news.
She had nearly passed out herself when she finally barged into the Maester's rooms, only to see her battered, weary Mother sat upright on one of the three beds. She did not realise that she was crying in sheer relief until her Mother forced himself to stand up and had come to embrace her, wiping her eyes gently with injured, dirty hands. Helaena did not care as she held him tightly and just allowed herself to cry, letting go of all the fear and worry that she had been carrying with her for the past turn, trying to hide it away from her curious, far too perceptive son. She felt so much relief, so free in that moment of crying, that she could not even speak for long minutes as she held her Mother tightly and allowed the fear to drain from her body. It took long minutes, but she did eventually manage to find her voice.
"Where have you been?!" She demanded through her tears. "We have been going completely mad looking for you."
"I had to walk here, sweet one." He replied to her in a soft, tired croak. "It is a fair distance from Oldtown."
"Brightwater Keep was closer, Mother!" She said.
"I could not risk their loyalty, Helaena. Just in case. Rhea Florent is married to Lord Hightower."
"They were not involved. When Lord Leyton was hefted out of his tower to answer to Rhaegon he had no idea what was going on or what had happened. Willas says that he has been so far removed from his own city and people that they do not even bother him with grievances and such, instead they go to the Septon or to the Maesters."
"Rhaegon?" Harry asked with dread in his heart. "Your Father, how is he?"
"Oh, he's fine! He's completely fine, Mother." Helaena assured quickly and she watched as her Mother sagged with relief, much as she had done when she'd first seen him alive and now safe. "Viserys took him over to Kings Landing as soon as he was stable, he is on the mend, but he is still recovering, so Rhaegon has assumed the crown for the time being. He's doing a good job of it too."
"I never doubted that he could." Harry smiled tiredly, even as the Maester fussed over him and directed him back into the bed. "We raised him well, we raised all of you well."
"Are you truly alright, Mother?" She asked worriedly.
"Yes, darling. I'm fine, just very tired, a little weak from hunger and thirst, but otherwise fine. I am almost a Maester myself, remember?"
"Is he telling the truth?" She asked the Maester of Highgarden, overseeing her Mother.
Harry laughed. "You sound more and more like your Father." He teased with a smile that showed off his very sore looking, chapped lips.
Helaena strode to a jug of water and poured her Mother a goblet, passing it over to him and watching critically as he drank it.
"He is telling the truth, my Lady." The Maester assured her. "There is nothing more serious than an untreated wound to the shoulder."
"Ah, the arrow wound. I cleaned it with river water, but I had nothing else to treat it with. I found some painkilling herbs by the roadside, but nothing else."
"It is very clean, Your Grace, it is likely your cleanliness of it that has contributed to your survival and the lack of infection or festering. You have taken great care with it."
Harry nodded, even as he refused to pause in his drinking. It felt wonderful to have clean, fresh water at his disposal. As much of it as he wanted, without being limited by how much he could hold in the single water skin he had. As soon as he'd hit the Mander, that had been the best time for him, as he could follow it up to Highgarden, but between the Honeywine and the Mander, there had been nothing and that week and a half of rationing and then the panic as the water skin had once again run dry had been truly terrible. He had had to ration a single bag of water for a week and a half and it had been so difficult and there had been times when he'd thought that he would just curl up and die, where he had thought that he'd never be able to get back up again or where he'd thought that he'd not be able to take another step more. The worst had been the two days he'd been forced to walk on with no water and no idea as to how long it was going to take him to reach the Mander. The days where he had believed truly that he was going to die without ever making it to Highgarden, either from exhaustion and thirst as he walked or that he was just going to fall sleep one night and never wake back up again. But it was all over now, he had finally made it to Highgarden. He could finally lay eyes upon his sweet, beautiful daughter and he was finally back in touch with his family. Now all he needed was to know that Rhaegar was truly alright, to see him with his own eyes to be assured that he was, and to know that Aelyx was healing after his terrible ordeal and that Aenar's arm was still being taken care of properly.
"Helaena, can you send out ravens please, sweet one?"
"Oh, of course." Helaena said, startling.
"You can tell Garyn that I'm here too. I wouldn't mind seeing him."
"No, he would climb all over you and you need to rest." Helaena said sternly. "You're already going to be swarmed, as soon as those ravens arrive at Kings Landing, Oldtown, Harrenhal and Summerhall you're going to be mobbed and you need some rest before then."
Harry sighed, but he conceded to his daughter, he was rather tired after all…very tired as a matter of fact. So he laid himself back against the wonderful feather pillow and he closed his eyes. It took just several moments for him to fall asleep on the soft mattress when he'd been sleeping on the cold, hard earth with not even a blanket or a cloak to cover himself with for the last three weeks.
Helaena covered her Mother over gently with a blanket and tucked him in. She laid a kiss to his dirty face. She would leave instruction for a bath to be drawn as soon as he was awake next so that he could get himself clean. She knew that he would want a nice hot bath to make himself feel better, but as a priority she needed to send out those ravens. Rhaegon would need to be told, Baelon at Summerhall needed to tell their younger siblings the good news and her Father at Kings Landing would need to be told. He had not been the same man by all accounts, Rhaegon had told her so on his way down to Oldtown with the royal army and six members of the Kingsguard at his back. He needed to be put from his misery, they all did.
"Is it truly him, Helaena?" Margaery asked as she fell into step beside her.
"Yes." Helaena said with a smile. "It is truly him. He walked here, Margaery! All the way from Oldtown."
"Is he unharmed?" Margaery asked seriously.
Helaena nodded happily. "Completely unharmed. He has the arrow wound that my Father mentioned, but it is clean and the Maester says that it is already healing well. He has numerous other scratches and bruises, but they will not cause problems. The biggest worry is that he has had no food and little water for a long while. He will need to be fed slowly at first, it will take a little time, but he will make a full recovery. I could not be happier."
"I am glad that he has been unharmed and is going to be fine." Margaery smiled. "Will you tell Garyn?"
"Not just yet, my Mother needs to rest and he is fast asleep. I need to send ravens out to the others. It will take a few days to reach them as is."
Margaery nodded her understanding and hurried along beside her, the both of them heading to the rookery and to the cages of ravens, each with a city label upon them.
Helaena wrote the four notes herself, plucking four strands of hair to set into a small blob of wax in the corner of each scroll. She tied them up with the Highgarden ribbon of green edged with gold and she and Margaery tied them delicately to the legs of their corresponding raven, setting the four of them free to fly away, each of them heading in a different direction.
The news was now away, winging its way to those who needed to know. It would not be long before her brothers arrived on dragon back, before her Father arrived on Balerion, or her brother, Rhaegon, arrived with her husband and good-brothers from Oldtown. She just hoped that her Mother had a chance to rest a little first, because as soon as those ravens were received, it would take mere hours for her brothers in Summerhall to arrive, it would be a few days before Rhaegon got here, but the raven would take twice as long to reach Kings Landing, as it was the furthest away. She knew that her Father would ignore everyone who would try to keep him resting and he would come straight here upon Balerion regardless of his still healing injuries, and once he got here, he would not leave their Mother alone for a moment. Until then, she would make sure that her Mother went undisturbed and was well fed and well rested, with plenty of water on hand for him. He would need his strength for the battle that was to come.
Ser Barristan leapt to his feet, along with five of his sworn brothers, when a servant came barging into the King's rooms without so much as a by your leave. He had his sword out and ready to swing before the poor man could blink.
The servant fell to his knees and held up both hands to show that he was unarmed. He had a piece of paper clutched tightly against the palm of his one hand with his thumb.
"Your Grace!" He said quickly. "I was sent by Maester Wi…"
"I do not care to hear more pleadings from those supplicating Maesters!" Rhaegon said sharply. He was in a dark mood following a night of little sleep and after almost a turn since his Mother's disappearance with no sign of him anywhere within the city, despite them tearing it to pieces to search for him, and his Father's missing Valyrian steel sword, Kingsfire.
"No, Your Grace, a raven has arrived from Highgarden, Your Grace." The servant said quickly, almost stuttering in his haste to get the King to understand why he was there.
"Is Helaena alright?" Lord Willas Tyrell asked urgently, standing quickly in alarm. "My son?"
"It was her missive, my Lord, but His Grace, King Haradarian is at Highgarden."
"Hand over this missive from my sister!" Rhaegon demanded.
Ser Barristan took the note from the servant's outstretched hand and he passed it over to King Rhaegon. The young man read the small slip of paper through several times and he exhaled deeply, all but sagging in his seat, resting his head back against it. He suddenly looked much older than his years, and as exhausted as Barristan had ever seen him. It was a terrible look upon one so very young. This rebellion had affected him very deeply and the nightmares of it would be a long time in leaving.
"Is the missive true?" Ser Loras asked.
Rhaegon nodded. "It is in Helaena's own hand and she has placed a single strand of her hair into the corner with wax. It is a code that we all made when we started getting older. If ever a missive came without that strand of hair then we would know that it was written under duress. Mother truly is at Highgarden."
"Are we going back?" Barristan asked.
"Yes. I need to see my Mother alive and well with my own eyes."
"It is not so far to Highgarden." Ser Garlan said. "We have imprisoned all those of note, executed those who rebelled and now King Haradarian has been found. We have no need to stay here."
"If anyone could have escaped a locked down city and then walked all the way to Highgarden, I would only believe that King Haradarian could have done as such." Prince Lewyn smiled, trying to lighten the mood of things.
He succeeded as Rhaegon smiled as well. "He only lives to do what other men would claim as impossible. If it were anyone else I would declare them a liar, but not my Mother. Come, we need to leave immediately, if Father gets there first, I will not be seeing either of them for the next week."
Oldtown became a hive of activity as Rhaegon stationed most of the royal army within the city, just in case, he told them, though he had no doubts that Helaena's missive had been true. Of course she would recognise their own Mother, but just in case it had been a false missive, he was not taking any chances that the Maesters would take his absence to move his captive Mother to a different location. Barristan was very proud of the young man, who was shaping up to be as honourable, as just, and as intelligent as both of his parents. Rhaegon had handled the pressure of a King's duties very well and he would be sure to tell Rhaegar and Haradarian as such as soon as they had both recovered from this debacle. Perhaps this would teach them not to storm off in the heat of the moment without even a single member of their Kingsguard at their backs, what use were their white shields if their Kings left them all behind?
They were gone that very afternoon, on fresh, well rested horses, and Rhaegon rode as if he were the wind itself, pushing his horse faster, harder, forcing the rest of them to keep up pace with him or be left behind in his dust.
"This reminds me of another frantic horse ride following a possessed King." Prince Lewyn jested. "Funnily, we were riding to King Haradarian back then too!"
Barristan remembered the moment all too well, the news that Kings Landing had fallen, that King Haradarian and King Aerys had been slain, that the city had been taken by the Lannisters in the name of Robert Baratheon, who had already been dead, still lying, back down, in the Trident where he'd been slain by Rhaegar's own sword, Kingsfire. Rhaegon had looked for the missing sword, but he had been unable to locate it, much to the young man's anger as he had promised his Father that he'd find both his Mother, and the missing Valyrian steel sword of house Targaryen. He had been unable to do either.
Barristan remembered the fear he had felt as they'd ridden from the Trident to Kings Landing, a fear that was echoed in all of their faces as they had ridden the Kingsroad hard, only to find Kings Landing smouldering, bodies piled in the streets, the gold lion on red of Lannister floating on the battlements and from the Red Keep. That fear had been compounded when they'd found the slain King Aerys…perhaps the taunts on the battlefield had been true, perhaps the messenger they had met on the road had been correct. But no. They had found King Haradarian alive and well, if a little blooded, six turns pregnant with the Prince Baelon of Summerhall, sitting calmly and peacefully in the godswood, a perfectly content and unharmed infant Robb Stark tied to his front.
This desperate race towards Highgarden felt eerily similar, only this time they were following a different King as Rhaegon headed their group. Rhaegon who was almost of an age with his Father during that last race towards King Haradarian and once again, as he had done twenty years before, he prayed to the Seven that Haradarian was fine and well, as he'd been after the sack of Kings Landing. Rhaegar loved his husband so dearly that he would not survive his death, of that Barristan was absolutely sure, and there was truly no telling how Rhaegon would react to such an event as both of his parents' dying either. The grief would be all consuming, throughout the entire Seven Kingdoms, if the two Kings died as a result of this.
Thankfully they arrived without much issue at Highgarden, which was surrounded by dragons, but not one of them was Balerion. Rhaegar had yet to arrive, but Baelon and several others from Summerhall had. Then it only took scant hours to reach one end of Westeros to the other upon dragon back, so truly it came as no surprise that they were already here.
They were admitted quickly and with little fanfare. Helaena had taken her duties as Lady of Highgarden very seriously in her husband's absence and she had declared there to be no need for formalities, a good call as Rhaegon was almost completely out of patience. He had almost ridden his horse lame to get here, and he begrudged even stopping to eat or sleep, but his Kingsguard had been firm with him and had insisted that he eat and rest, and as three of them had been looking after him since he was a mere babe in swaddling still, he knew them, he respected them, but mostly, thankfully, he listened to them. The same could not be said of his wayward parents, who seemed to enjoy frustrating them and rushing off without them into every perceivable danger.
They met Helaena first, who had been forewarned of their arrival and had come to greet them and to lead them directly, and quickly, to where Haradarian was staying.
"Helaena, is it truly him?" Rhaegon could not help but ask as soon as he saw his sister.
A very beautiful woman now at four-and-twenty, Helaena kept her glossy black hair short and neat at her shoulders, she was wearing a stunning gown of green silk, the golden rose of Highgarden upon her left shoulder. She smiled at them and nodded once to her older brother's question.
"It truly is him. He came stumbling in through the gates out of the blue, tired and bruised, covered in numerous cuts, but he has had plenty of rest now. The others are with him. Come."
Helaena stepped towards them and slipped her arm about her husband's middle, kissing him in greeting happily before she led the way to a large solar, directing her husband silently with her arm about his back, and true enough, there was Haradarian, all bright smiles and genuine laughs as he listened to Baelon chatter.
"Mother!" Rhaegon exclaimed in sheer relief and those bright green eyes turned to them and the smile widened.
"Rhaegon, sweet boy." Haradarian greeted, forcing himself to stand, but it was clear that he was not yet fully recovered as he stumbled slightly upon finding his feet. Baelon rushed to steady his Mother and Rhaegon had done the same, but he waved them both off. "I am fine, truly. I am just a little tired still."
"Did you truly walk from Oldtown, Mother?" Rhaegon asked. "Oldtown to Highgarden is such a far way, especially on foot. It took us long enough to get here on horseback."
Haradarian nodded. "I jumped from the city walls and then left under the night's darkness, sticking to the Honeywine for water. I skirted past Brightwater Keep as I could not be sure of their loyalty and I kept away from the road. I went straight to the Mander and then followed it all the way to Highgarden. It took me a while, but I did make it eventually."
"I am still sure that you have a death wish." Prince Lewyn exclaimed.
Harry laughed happily and it felt wonderful to hear that laugh again after, once again, believing him to be dead.
"I don't do these things on purpose, Lewyn!" He said with a tired grin.
"I am not so certain that that is true anymore!" The man replied with a grin of his own.
Harry laughed again, but soften his gaze when Rhaegon sat next to him, touching him, once again a small boy who needed his Mother's reassurance and comfort.
"I have heard a great deal about how well you handled yourself in our absence, Rhaegon. I am so very proud of you." Harry said gently, pulling his son's head to his mouth and pressing a kiss to the smooth forehead. "Of course your Father and I never doubted you in the least, we knew that if anything were to truly happen to us, then we could count on you to do as you have been taught and you did so wonderfully."
"I missed you." Was all Rhaegon said. "When I could not find you in Oldtown, when everyone we questioned had no idea as to where you were or where you were being kept…I was so afraid, Mother."
"It is normal to feel such emotions in the unknown, Rhaegon. Do not mutter such a confession under your breath as if you are ashamed of it or your own feelings. It is normal. Your Father had been seriously injured, I was missing, your brothers and sisters felt the same fear as you did, you are not to be excluded, Rhaegon, just because you are the crown Prince or the acting King. You do not have to hide such fears, especially not from me."
"I just wanted to find you." Rhaegon said softly. "I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat, I was convinced that you were being hidden in some secret dungeon in the Citadel. That someone there knew exactly where you were and were not saying."
"Oh, Rhaegon." Harry sighed, embracing his son. "Of course you thought as such, you had no idea that I'd escaped the city by jumping from the city wall, much less that I avoided the road and walked to Highgarden. Of course you had no way of knowing, you are justified in the actions that you took."
"I hurt people, Mother. I tortured them for information on where you were, on where you were being kept, and you weren't even there. They were telling the truth and I didn't believe them and I then hurt them more."
"I see." Harry said softly. "Rhaegon, tell me sweet one, what do you think your Father would have done in your situation, if he had not been injured and I still missing?"
"I…I don't know." Rhaegon faltered.
"Oh, you do." Harry persisted seriously. "You know that he would have done exactly the same, and much worse, to find me if he thought that I was being kept as a prisoner in that city. If he believed that I was there, and there was no possible way to know otherwise, he would have torn it to pieces, the people with it, and nothing would have made him stop. Nothing. You showed a reasonable amount of restraint and I'm proud of you for that. I would never wish your Father injured, of course not, but I am glad at least that you were in charge of this rescue party and not him. Rhaegar would not have been objective or merciful. How is he anyway, does anyone know?"
Harry looked to his sons, then to the Kingsguard for an answer.
"He is doing much better, Your Grace." Barristan said gently. "He refused to rest, refused to do anything other than shout and rage, especially when Prince Rhaegon assumed the crown. He was very frustrated and angry and he was frightened for you. He did not wish to leave you and all he has spoken of is going back to get you. Grand Maester Gormon has had to put him to sleep several times already, for his own good."
"The dragons can only take two grown adults." Harry sighed. "Viserion could not have taken Viserys, Rhaegar and me, and Rhaegar was the injured one this time."
"I beg to differ, you had an arrow wound in your back." Helaena chastised him.
"That was nothing." Harry waved away. "Rhaegar had two arrows sticking out of him and he couldn't walk or breathe properly. We would have never gotten out of the city with him limping and unable to fight and he would not have survived if he had gotten an infection or a fever as I had no way to treat him. I made the right decision at that moment and I am fine, a little tired and in need of some rest, I'll admit, but otherwise I am completely fine and I will recover given some more time."
"You jumped from the city walls, are you sure that you're alright?" Prince Lewyn asked sceptically. "No head wound? No broken bones? Oldtown has some of the largest walls in the Seven Kingdoms, of course exempting Harrenhal."
Harry nodded. "I didn't so much jump as I lowered myself down as far as I could and let myself fall. I was uninjured from the impact of hitting the ground, just slightly winded for several moments. I have said before, I am rather difficult to kill and many a man has tried over the years and not one of them has ever been successful."
"Thanks in part to your wonderful Kingsguard." Lewyn teased cheekily, out of turn Barristan judged and as the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, he gave his sworn brother a stern look of chastisement. "Oh, lighten up, Barristan the Old."
Barristan could not stay stern, he chuckled, especially as he heard the stifled chuckles of the babes he had watched over from birth. Sweet Helaena delicately covering her mouth, silver haired Baelon who snorted and ducked his head and strong Rhaegon, who choked out a chuckle and then coughed to hide as such.
"I am not so old that I cannot still beat you." Barristan said seriously, though he was smiling through the threat.
"I do not doubt it, you are still a fearsome knight, despite your advancing years." Lewyn teased.
"You are not that much younger than I. I believe that you forget as such."
They were spared the teasing quarrel when the dragons started roaring and one cut above the others and then the ground shook. Balerion had arrived, and only one person would come to them riding upon Balerion the Moving Mountain. Rhaegar had come to Highgarden.
Harry settled himself down, knowing that Rhaegar would near enough charge at him as soon as he saw him. Rhaegon moved to make space and everyone cleared a pathway from the door. It amused him that Rhaegar would be getting a wider berth than Balerion would down in the courtyard with his brothers.
It took a mere several minutes before a harried, frightened looking servant hurried into the room, holding open the door as Rhaegar came striding through, Ser Arthur at his back. Purple met green as they caught one another's gaze and then Rhaegar actually ran to him, dipping a little on his right side leg, falling to his knees in front of the soft settee that Harry was sat in and they both moved together, they both threw their arms around one another and held on tight.
"We couldn't find you." Rhaegar told him, his voice harsh and tortured from stress and too many tears.
"You were injured." Harry replied worriedly.
"I thought that you were dead." Rhaegar answered, his arms clenching tighter.
"I worried that you were too." Harry said softly. "I had no idea if you'd survived the arrow wounds, I didn't know if one had caused an infection, or if the arrow had taken you in the lung or not, or if a shard of rib had slipped in, I didn't know."
Rhaegar held him tighter and Harry in turn held Rhaegar tighter, just relishing the action of holding him again after so long.
"What happened, how did you get here?" Rhaegar asked him after absorbing his presence enough to loosen his hold and pull back enough to see Harry's weary face, and those wonderful, beautiful eyes that he had feared that he'd never see again. "The missive was rather rushed and vague and though I appreciate a timely raven, I was so worried about the lack of details."
"I walked here, Rhaegar."
"From Oldtown?" Rhaegar asked, his eyebrows lowering in concern.
Harry nodded. "Yes. I went via the Honeywine, gave Brightwater Keep a very wide berth and then I walked right up to the Mander, following it until I had reached Highgarden."
"Anything could have happened to you out there!" Rhaegar raged. "Any brigand or cutthroat could have murdered you!"
"You know what would have happened to me if I'd stayed." Harry replied calmly. "I could not have hidden forever, Rhaegar. Eventually they would have found me and it would have been worse than the Kingswood Brotherhood. They would have ripped me to pieces, they already knew that they were dead, they had nothing else to lose."
Rhaegar's purple eyes flinched at hearing that and Harry found himself pulled back into a tight hug, his brother-husband holding on to him desperately.
"I love you." Rhaegar whispered to him, stroking his hair with gentle hands.
"I love you as well, I always have and I always will."
Rhaegar chuckled then and pulled back again to kiss him gently.
"Are you still injured?" Harry asked. "How is your leg? I saw you limping. Your ribs too? Though your breathing sounds much better than the last time I saw you."
"I'm able to stand and walk upon it now, but it is still a little difficult to move quickly with the damned thing, though I have been assured that it will fully heal. The other arrow shattered my ribs, you were right after all, my love, as you so often are. Robert Baratheon's hammer left its damage behind, they were not as strong as they once were and shattered easily with a mere arrow."
"How badly?" Harry asked worriedly, laying a soft hand over Rhaegar's side. He could feel the tight bandaging underneath.
"Not as badly as when I was struck with the hammer, it was only an arrow after all, but I was wearing armour back then too."
Harry smiled. "An easy, quick fix then." He chuckled.
"They are already healing, Grand Maester Gormon said so. How about you, are you injured?"
Harry shook his head. "No. Not at all."
"The arrow wound in your shoulder?" Rhaegar persisted worriedly.
"It is almost completely healed." Harry said with a grin. "Unlike you I can look after my own wounds well enough to keep out infection and thus I healed much faster."
"And you sustained no other injury?" Rhaegar persisted.
"None. I'm just very tired from my weeks of walking with rationed water."
Rhaegar's purple eyes widened at that and he looked around for a water jug automatically before Harry stopped him with gentle hands.
"I have been well plied with food and water, Rhaegar. Our Helaena would not have left me as I was." He teased. "I have been forced on bedrest since I wandered into Highgarden."
"You did not so much wander as you stumbled in, Mother." Helaena told him.
Harry smiled at her. "Okay, so I may have stumbled a little." He laughed.
"You could barely keep your legs under you."
"Alright, Helaena sweet one." Harry grinned. "There's no need to completely humiliate me."
"I…oh, sorry, Mother, I never thought of it that way."
"I'm teasing you, sweetness." Harry laughed. "We're all family here. Besides, it is not as if there were no witnesses to the stumbling as I arrived. The streets were full, after all."
Rhaegar moved then, standing up from his crouched position and he instead sat next to Harry, they automatically moved closer to one another, leaning into the other without thinking of such as they both rested on the other, such was the closeness and intimacy of their bond of love.
Harry closed his eyes, finally feeling at ease, at peace, now that he had seen Rhaegar with his own eyes. It was never quite enough, to be told that someone was fine, as opposed to seeing that they were fine with your own eyes. Sometimes it just wasn't enough to be told something, you had to see it for yourself. He sighed happily and snuggled into his husband more, getting a tender kiss to his temple as Rhaegar wrapped his large arms around him tightly.
"Are we going straight back to Kings Landing?" Rhaegar asked. "I would have you see Grand Maester Gormon, just to be sure."
"We are not leaving our children at Summerhall." Harry said sternly.
"You are in no state to go to Summerhall and then travel by horse to Kings Landing." Rhaegar told him firmly.
"Your Grace, perhaps we could escort the Princes and Princesses home." Ser Barristan immediately jumped in to calm the waters of a brewing argument…he had had plenty of practice over the years, both in recognising the start of an argument, and of what to say to quell it.
"Thank you, Ser." Rhaegar said graciously. "I wish to take Haradarian home, so that he can rest properly."
"Oh, as I'm sure that you've been resting properly yourself." Harry quipped back. "If I'm being forced to rest when I'm uninjured, you certainly will be, as injured as you are."
"Someone has to rule the Seven Kingdoms and I would have you rest!" Rhaegar insisted.
"If I am to rest, so are you." Harry said stubbornly. "Rhaegon is technically still the King. He can carry on ruling in our place for a while longer, if anything it will teach him that being a King is not all wars and exacting justice. It's boring and relentless too."
"I already know that." Rhaegon insisted.
"Oh, you don't." Harry smiled at his son kindly. "You have no idea, not yet, but you'll see. Now, how is Daenerys? No one has mentioned her yet, is she well?"
"She had her babe, Your Grace." Ser Oswell told him with a gentle smile at the thought of what would be his great-nephew's child. "A boy. She has called him Jaerys. Both mother and son are doing very well, but Oslyn stopped her from travelling, both when you went missing and when His Grace, Rhaegar was injured and brought back to Kings Landing. He would have stopped her from travelling when the raven reached Harrenhal of your arrival here too. It is one of the only times that I have heard of him being stern with her."
"Stern for her own good." Harry nodded approvingly. "I would have been furious if she had risked herself or her babe to come to see me. I will go and see her…when I am able!" He rose his voice above Rhaegar's automatic protest.
Rhaegar shut his mouth and Harry smirked at him, he got a harsh kiss for it and he laughed as soon as his mouth was released.
"Perhaps it'll be good for us to both be on rest and confined to our bed." He said sultrily. Immediately several shouts of disgust and horror were echoed around the room. "Oh please! How do you think you were all conceived?" He laughed.
"We don't want to hear of such things in detail, Mother!" Baelon insisted in a disgusted horror.
"In detail? Baelon, if that was detailed then I would hate to see the state of your reports for Summerhall." Rhaegar stated seriously.
Harry laughed harder at that before planting a kiss to Rhaegar's jaw, it was rough with a few days growth of silvery hairs. Harry looked closer, just barely being able to see them. His eyes narrowed immediately.
"Why are you not clean shaven?" He demanded of his husband.
"Perhaps I would look good with a beard." Rhaegar said back.
"Perhaps you would look like an old beggar!" Harry said. "Go and shave, right now, Rhaegar!" He insisted firmly.
"Alright." Rhaegar laughed, giving him a last kiss before standing and going to a wash room, where he would find a razor and a servant to tend to him. Ser Arthur automatically turned and followed him out of the room and down the hall.
"Mother, why do you or Father never grow beards?" Helaena asked consideringly. "I do not think I have ever seen either of you with more than a few days growth upon your chins."
Harry sighed. "It reminds me of your Grandfather, Aerys."
"The Mad King." Baelon whispered, all of them knowing all too well what their Grandfather had been like from their history lessons with their Maester.
"Rhaegar in particular would end up looking a lot like him if he started wearing a beard and I could not…I could not even look upon him if he did. I loved my Father, I loved him so much only to have that love thrown back at me and my very life threatened. In the end I grew to hate him. I hated him as fiercely as I'd loved him as a boy and when I declared myself King of the Seven Kingdoms and I went unchallenged, he tried to kill me as I strategised the war. As I directed the armies and kept safe the Capital, he skulked around the Red Keep and he tried to set me on fire and when that failed, he stabbed me in the back with a pilfered kitchen knife, I who was unarmed and six turns pregnant with Baelon. Not that he knew that I was pregnant, of course, everyone just believed me very fat and lazy." He smiled, sending a look to his own Kingsguard, to Ser Oswell and to Ser Barristan, who would never admit to such thoughts, but Harry knew. He had known when he was pregnant with Haeraenya and Helaena what people had thought of him, the same when he had fallen pregnant with Baelon. He did not begrudge them their thoughts while ignorant of the real reason for his substantial weight gain.
"We could have lost him." Helaena fretted, moving to place a hand on her blond brother's arm.
"We could have, several times. Pregnancies in wartimes are often lost." Harry said gently. "But I was not about to let my little boy give up." He smiled. "Nor was I ever going to give up on him. Baelon survived all that happened to me while pregnant, all the stress I put upon him in the womb, and he was born perfect. But when Jaime Lannister killed your Grandfather, Rhaegar and I…we were in two minds. On the one hand there was anger and grief, that he had been slain like cattle by a member of the Kingsguard. On the other was…was…"
"Relief." Rhaegar's voice carried over to them as he re-entered the room. "Sheer, all-encompassing relief."
Harry nodded and he sighed. "It sounds terrible to be relieved that he was dead, but though we would have never done so ourselves, his death freed us in a way that we had never felt the like of before."
"We were much safer, our children were much safer, with him dead and with ourselves on the Iron Throne." Rhaegar said as he sat next to Harry again, who couldn't resist reaching over and feeling the fresh, clean shaven skin. "We were freed from the fear of what he would do to us, to our babes, if he found out about our marriage and the truth of your Mother's ability to carry and birth you all."
Rhaegar turned and smiled at him, taking his hands, that had been rubbing his face, before he kissed them and held them.
"He already wanted to kill me because of my black hair." Harry sighed. "He believed your Grandmother to have been unfaithful, especially when Viserys was born silver haired and purple eyed. When his mind started to wane, after the Defiance of Duskendale, he wanted to have me burnt alive on the steps of the Great Sept, to prove to all men and the gods, that he rejected me fully. To hear such a thing broke my heart. To think that my own Father hated me so much as to want to burn me alive on public display."
"I was not about to allow such a thing to come about." Rhaegar said firmly, his teeth gritted at remembered memories that were very painful to recall. "You know that after your Mother returned from Oldtown that we married one another in the godswood and then sailed for Dragonstone."
"I was conceived there." Rhaegon said with a nod.
"No, you were born there." Harry corrected. "You were conceived in Volantis."
"Are you sure that it was not in Lys or Myr?" Rhaegar teased. "Or perhaps Pentos."
"He was conceived, Rhaegar my love, in Volantis." Harry said, his voice lowered dangerously. "It was too late to have been in Pentos, and we went to Myr and then Lys, after I was already pregnant. It was the first time that we were in Volantis, where we had docked our ship."
Rhaegar chuckled. "I know, my love, I just enjoy teasing you. But after we sailed to Dragonstone, and then to the free cities of Essos, and had had our Rhaegon, we needed to come back, we couldn't hide away for any longer."
"You were going to Harrenhal to set up a Great council, only Grandfather heard about it and he suddenly came with you." Baelon said.
Harry nodded. "We could not go through with the Great council with him in attendance, it was just too dangerous and we worried about the motive of his sudden desire to come with us. We had Rhaegon at that time, we refused to risk him."
"You found out that you were pregnant with Haeraenya and Helaena at Harrenhal." Rhaegar recalled fondly.
"Though naturally we could not have possibly guessed that I was carrying two of you." Harry said with a smile directed at Helaena.
"We wanted to surprise you, Mother." She giggled lightly.
"Surprise us you did, love!" Rhaegar laughed. "Your Mother panicked and then when he pulled you out after your sister, I panicked."
"We're you any better with Aenys and Aerin?" Baelon asked curiously.
Harry and Rhaegar shared a look and then they both laughed.
"No." Harry finally answered. "I pulled out Aenys, but I'd grabbed Aerin's arm too without realising, Rhaegar thought that the baby had three arms and two heads and he started yelling and shouting, panicking me I might add, before Grand Maester Gormon thankfully pushed him out of the way and pulled out Aenys and then Aerin afterwards. I saw the funny side once I had recovered and had slept for a few days, but I was in far too much pain during to find anything funny and naturally my husband screaming and panicking as I tried to deliver my babe frightened the seven hells out of me."
"Were you any better with Aelinor and Aelora?" Rhaegon asked with a frown.
"Love, we weren't any better when we had Aenar and Aeron." Harry laughed.
"Though we did know with Maelor and Maella that they were twins before they were born." Rhaegar conceded.
"The both of them liked kicking at the same time. It was a little difficult to ignore that I was pregnant with two babes when I had eight limbs beating my insides at the same time. There were times when your Father was utterly convinced that I was carrying three babes!"
"No other set of twins did the same?" Helaena asked curiously.
Harry shook his head. "No. Not that I noticed. I only noticed with Maelor and Maella, so we knew to prepare for twins, though after you girls, we always made sure to prepare for twins, just in case. After all, as I reasoned, if it could happen once, it could happen again. So we had Valarr and he was so easy compared to the rest of you."
"It was because he was smaller, wasn't it?" Rhaegon asked, frowning as if recalling a distant memory. Harry had said before that Valarr had been born the smallest.
"That's right." Rhaegar said. "Valarr was the smallest, then Naerys and then Baelon."
"Baelon was affected by the war, though." Harry said. "So he was an exception."
"All of your single babes were smaller than your twins, Mother, should it not have been that they were bigger?" Helaena asked.
Harry smiled sadly. "I had more difficulties with my single babes, Helaena. Rhaegon was my first ever babe, so we could expect that he'd be smaller as I was unused to carrying. Baelon was conceived and carried through a war and I was very stressed and under a lot of pressure at the time. I was very sick when I was carrying Naerys and I was confined to my bed for four turns while pregnant with her through fever. Your Father feared that he'd lose us both. It was why there is rather a large gap between her and Aenar and Aeron. Rhaegar was too afraid to try for another babe afterward seeing me in such a state during pregnancy."
Harry and Rhaegar shared a look. Harry grimaced.
"Valarr is just a rather small boy." He said. "I wasn't overly sick with him, nor were we at war, though we had some pressures from the smallfolk at that time. There was a shortage of fish that year and they blamed the dragons."
"Truly, why?" Rhaegon actually laughed.
"Everything that went wrong back then was the fault of the dragons." Harry waved away. "Crop failure, receding rivers, the death of a tavern owner's infant son in the womb, missing livestock, and the fish shortage, all the fault of our seven dragons of that time, particularly Balerion as he was visibly the largest."
"So…Valarr was just special from the beginning?" Baelon grinned.
"All of you are special." Harry refuted immediately.
"Valarr is just a little more special than the rest of you." Rhaegar added with a chuckle. Harry slapped his thigh.
"I remember Aenar and Aeron being tiny though, Mother." Helaena said with a frown.
"They were tiny, love, but you were not old enough to see how very small Valarr was. He was born very early and Grand Maester Gormon barely kept him alive. There were times when we believed that we would lose him."
"Is that why you coddled him?" Rhaegon asked. "I remember trying to play with Valarr as I did Baelon, Aenys and Aerin. Valarr was only a year younger, but I wasn't allowed to play with him."
"We were very worried for him. It was nothing that you were doing wrong, Rhaegon." Rhaegar insisted. "We just lost our heads after we had our tiny Valarr and he was always smaller and weaker than the rest of you."
"He was always sick as a young child." Helaena said with a thoughtful frown.
"Every fever and ailment that was going around always hit Valarr hard. As soon as Summerhall was built, we went and stayed there for two years, taking it in turns to run the realm while the other stayed with Valarr at Summerhall."
"I remember that." Rhaegon nodded.
"As you should, you were eight years old." Rhaegar teased.
"The cleaner air of Summerhall seemed to do Valarr so much good that we were loath to ever take him back to Kings Landing, but as he got older, he stopped getting sick so often and he was able to come back and forth with us."
"He stays at Summerhall with me often." Baelon said.
Harry nodded. "It makes him stronger and keeps him healthier. He never gets sick when he's at Summerhall and now that he's older, he can stay there without either one of us needing to stay with him. It was the best decision we ever made to rebuild Summerhall, even if your Father does miss his ruins."
Rhaegar dug gentle fingers into Harry's waist, startling a laugh from his husband and set him off squirming.
"It was the best decision you had made, my love." Rhaegar corrected. "It was your idea to rebuild Summerhall as a palace for the dragons, we had no idea that it would do such good for Valarr too, not at that time as he was not even born, but it was a good thing in the end as it made him stronger and healthier."
Harry yawned and immediately his eyelids dropped a little, his shoulders sagging and he rested himself on Rhaegar.
"You need your rest." Rhaegar insisted firmly.
Harry nodded, not arguing as he was held tighter and more securely by Rhaegar, who laid himself down on the settee and pulled Harry down with him. Everything was quiet, no one said anything, and Harry drifted in and out of sleep easily, his thoughts coming and going, still exhausted from his three week walk from Oldtown to Highgarden, but seeing his husband again had been amazing, knowing that he truly was alright after being shot with two arrows, it was a huge weight off of his shoulders and a worry taken from his heart. He felt so much better being wrapped up in Rhaegar's strong arms, a small selection of his children around him. He would naturally want to see all of his babes again, particularly Aenar, who was once again under Valarr's protection while Baelon was here, and Aenys and Aerin were still at Kings Landing, having not had access to a dragon to ride.
He didn't like that he was being forced to fly to Kings Landing immediately, when all he wanted to do was to fly to Summerhall to see his babes, to fly to Harrenhal to personally check on Daenerys and her new babe, Jaerys, to make sure that they were truly alright. He was not going to be given the option, however. Rhaegar would strong arm him onto Balerion, much like Viserys had done to him at Oldtown, and they would fly to Kings Landing while their Kingsguard went to Summerhall and took two weeks to ride their children back to Kings Landing on strong, swift horses. He would see them soon, but it wouldn't nearly be soon enough. Not for his liking.
The wait had been as long and as painful as Harry had been imagining. Only it was worse as Rhaegar refused to allow him to get up from their bed. No one could see him except by leave of Rhaegar himself, he had a handpicked team of three servants that looked after his daily needs and of course Rhaegar stayed with him as often as he could and he took all of his meals with Harry, who currently had a tray over his lap so that he could eat his supper, as he was still not allowed to get up.
Tomorrow Rhaegar told him, as he had presented Harry with his supper tray and a beautiful bouquet of red dragon's breath flowers that he had picked himself from the godswood, as he knew that they were Harry's favourites. Harry knew that tomorrow the children would be arriving back from Summerhall and as he ate his supper without complaint, a simple broth of chicken and vegetables, his anticipation grew. It had been two and a half weeks since he had been reunited with Rhaegar at Highgarden and he was so excited to see his babes again. There would be no one left at Summerhall, only the household guards and servants, as his children were all coming to Kings Landing. Though Rhaegon, Aenys and Aerin had barely left him alone since he'd come back, reading to him as he rested, bringing simple work to him that Rhaegar had delegated to him, judging it to be easy enough for him to do without taxing him, or without him needing to get up…Harry judged it very dull and boring, but having his oldest son and his oldest twin sons with him helped to break up the monotony, though Rhaegon was more often than not very busy, as he was still the acting King of the Seven Kingdoms while he and Rhaegar recovered from their horrifying ordeal.
His twins though, they had become his own permanent shadows and he looked to them now, sniggering at the small square table that was in his and Rhaegar's bedchambers, while Rhaegar himself sat next to Harry in the bed, hovering over him as he ate.
"What has amused you both so much?" Harry asked with a knowing look to his twins, who looked up guiltily at being caught in whatever mischief they had been up to.
"I…it's nothing, Mother." Aerin said quickly…far too quickly in his opinion and Harry smirked.
"It wouldn't have anything to do with the beautiful new stable boy, would it?" Harry said casually. He knew he was right when Aerin went bright red and Aenys started laughing. "Just don't get caught fucking him on the small council table, this time, Aerin." Harry teased. "Your Father and I used to change your small clothes, but we haven't seen that part of you in a very long time. We have no wish to see that part of you again either."
Rhaegar snorted in laughter and he almost choked.
"I said that I was sorry." Aerin muttered.
"Just…take your boys back to your bedchambers, alright?" Harry said calmly. "Any fucking you do is easier concealed there…and won't have me clawing out my own eyes while innocently going to a small council meeting. I thought that poor Ser Barristan was going to keel over in shock."
Rhaegar did laugh then, along with Aenys, while Aerin's ears coloured up as well as his neck and cheeks.
"I was younger then."
"All of two years." Rhaegar snorted.
"I am one-and-twenty now!" Aerin insisted. "I know how to be more discreet."
"You were caught in the godswood with that poor boy not a year ago!" Harry pointed out.
"I know better now!" Their embarrassed son said more firmly.
"I am glad to hear of such things." Harry teased. "Shall we assume from your sniggering that you have already had the stable boy? Are you keeping him? We could have him become your personal servant if you wished."
"You…you would?" Aerin asked, looking between his parents.
"If it is what you want." Rhaegar nodded.
"I do. I like him and he likes me too."
"Of course he does, you're a Prince." Harry pointed out.
"No. No, Mother, he didn't know that I was a Prince at first."
"No person in the Seven Kingdoms has purple eyes, Aerin." Rhaegar said. "Only the Daynes and us Targaryens."
"Well, some of us Targaryens." Harry amended with a gentle nudge to his husband. "But you took your Father's purple eyes, Aerin. There is no way that this boy didn't know who you were, even if he claims ignorance, though it is sweet of him to try…or perhaps underhanded, I'd have to meet him to know which."
"I'd blindfolded him, Mother." Aenys said firmly. "I'd wagered that he couldn't find his way back to Maegor's Holdfast if I blindfolded him and led him to a place he couldn't see. I left him there and went back to the Holdfast to await him, after binding his arms behind his back to ensure that he couldn't just take the blindfold off himself."
"What were you thinking?!" Harry demanded, his heart in his throat. "He could have been killed! He could have tripped over a wall and fallen to his death! Someone could have taken him, anything could have happened to him! Why would you do this?!"
His twins immediately ducked their heads and Harry tried to calm down, he tried to tell himself that nothing had happened as both boys were sat in front of him, perfectly fine and well.
"It was still a very stupid thing to do, especially as you knew that we were in a quarrel with the Maesters and Archmaesters of Oldtown. Hundreds of people a day come to Kings Landing, people who we don't know and could easily be a cutthroat or a kidnapper, we have always told you to keep your eyes open and your wits about you when down in the city. Do not do something like this again." Rhaegar said sternly.
Both boys nodded quickly, grateful that they were getting away with just a telling off and nothing more.
"So can I assume that you did not know your way back to Maegor's Holdfast and you stumbled into the stables?" Harry asked, a little calmer now. Aerin nodded.
"His name is Lanoha. I call him Noha. He tried to help me, but Aenys had tied the bindings too tightly and thus I was stuck. Noha stayed with me, talking to me. I really liked the sound of his voice and…and I…"
"You told him so, didn't you?" Harry said, very amused.
Aerin nodded and then blushed. "He said he liked the shape of my mouth and I knew then that he was like me, that he liked me without knowing who I actually was."
"Were you wearing any finery?" Rhaegar asked suddenly.
"No, Father. We weren't quite that stupid." Aerin defended. "I was in roughspun clothing with no jewels or anything. I had a dagger on my hip though, the plain one, it was just a simple dagger in a plain scabbard."
Rhaegar nodded. "You kissed the boy, there and then, didn't you?"
Aerin nodded with a goofy smile. "His lips were so soft."
"That is too much information to share with your parents." Harry complained. "So when did he know that you were a Prince?"
"When he finally got my arms free and I yanked off the blindfold. He hadn't wanted to do it as the tie was caught in my hair. He was very shocked and he stumbled over himself to apologise. He actually started crying and I didn't like that at all."
"He thought that you'd done as you had on purpose, to trick him, or to test his reaction because he was new and he thought that he was going to be punished for his candid manner."
Aerin nodded. "He thought I was going to have him flogged! I couldn't believe that he would think as such of any of my family, let alone me, but I understood his fear."
Harry sighed. "Is he happy with you now? And do you want to keep him for longer than a turn?"
"It has already been five turns." Aenys grinned.
"Truly?" Harry asked with a smile. "You must really like him, Aerin."
"Then we'll have him transferred from the stables to your rooms as your personal servant, but in truth he'll be your paramour. Treat him well."
"Oh, he already does that." Aenys teased.
Rhaegar snorted and shook his head. "Well it's about time that you found someone to truly love and not just to fuck around with, Aerin."
"Hopefully now we won't be running in on you bending the poor servants or porters over any tables."
Aenys laughed and Aerin groaned, dropping his head to his hands.
"Off with you both now, go on." Harry chided. "Aerin, go and give Noha the good news that he's to be promoted, just try not to make too much noise, especially tomorrow, when the Kingsguard come back, you know they so like bursting in on people who are having fun. I'm sure they do it on purpose."
Rhaegar snorted. "They wouldn't do so if you weren't so very loud, my love."
Aenys and Aerin made sickened noises and hurried out of the room at a faster pace, leaving their parents behind, laughing happily.
"I love you so very much." Rhaegar said softly.
"I'd love you a little more if you hadn't kept me confined to our bed like a prisoner." Harry declared with no heat and no bite.
"Tomorrow, Harry, my love. Tomorrow you can get back up, fully recovered, to tackle our entire horde of babes, until then…why don't we enjoy ourselves, one last time before we will have no time to do so?"
Harry chuckled. "No children, no Kingsguard to come running, the Grand Maester insisting that I am well and recovered, yet you still keeping me in bed…I knew there had to be a reason for it."
Rhaegar turned and laid over him, avoiding the supper tray, and kissing him hard. "I love you, be as loud as you want to be tonight, my love. I want to hear you properly."
"Then you'd better do a proper job, my love. If you want my noise, you'd better do something to cause it."
Rhaegar's eyes glinted with the challenge and he moved again, taking the tray from over his lap and placing it on the floor instead. Harry made sure to pick up the beautiful bouquet of flowers, bringing them to his nose to inhale their sweet scent deeply, before he rolled over a little to place them carefully on the bedside table before laying himself back down on the bed. Rhaegar came back to him, only this time he lay flat over him, so their bodies were pressed tightly together.
Rhaegar lightly brushed his knuckles against Harry's jaw and cheek and they smiled at one another.
"I love you so much."
Harry smiled at the repeated words. "My brother, my husband." Harry declared proudly.
Rhaegar kissed him hard and Harry's hands fisted into silver hair, pulling gently, even as he rocked his hips up, kissing Rhaegar back harder, pushing his tongue into Rhaegar's mouth. Rhaegar made a soft, passionate noise and he cradled Harry's head, lifting it slightly to get a better angle so that he could force Harry's tongue back into his own mouth, his tongue following to taste him, to arouse him, before pulling back for air.
"It has been a long time." Harry chuckled. "We took that break at Summerhall to relax with one another, but we had so very little peace there, then we were worried when Aelyx went missing. It seems that we barely had a moment to ourselves."
"Now we do." Rhaegar said, looking down at him with love.
"It truly will be a mere moment too." Harry laughed.
Rhaegar grinned. "Very soon they'll all be spread out, off having adventures or doing their own thing and we will be here, all alone, to do as we please, all day, every day."
Harry chuckled. "Only when we pass the crown to our Rhaegon."
"He truly has proven himself now, to us and to the Seven Kingdoms. He is going to be a very adept King and he'll be as fair and just as we have been ourselves, we taught him well."
"Perhaps when he is thirty then." Harry said with a grin. "You'll be two-and-fifty and I'll be your age now at nearing fifty. It's as good an age as any to retire from public grievances."
"Five-and-thirty." Rhaegar insisted. "If he seems ready."
Harry chuckled and then nodded. He reached up and kissed him hard. "Enough talk about this now, we have all day tomorrow to talk about it. Tonight I want your attentions upon me."
"As you wish." Rhaegar grinned, bending down and stealing his mouth once more with an impassioned kiss.
Harry moved against Rhaegar, but eventually the blankets and the clothes that they were both wearing became very restricting and frustrating.
"There are too many clothes, Rhaegar." Harry complained.
"Well, we'll have to fix that, won't we?" Rhaegar smiled down at him, moving away and tugging off the heavy blankets that were stifling Harry and making him sweat.
Harry took a moment to just breathe, his chest rising and falling rapidly as he took in the sensations of having Rhaegar once again in his arms, and in his bed, touching him, kissing him. It felt truly wonderful after their last parting.
They were both feeling rather desperate, recalling the look that they'd given to one another as Rhaegar was forced away on the back of Viserion, leaving Harry behind in Oldtown alone with no protection and no men.
"I love you." Rhaegar declared as he removed Harry's loose sleeping tunic, kissing up his chest, towards his neck.
"Let us never be parted in such a way ever again, Rhaegar. We are not getting any younger. We're not the fit, spry boys of our youth. We're getting old. Let us leave these wars to our sons, to the young warriors of the Seven Kingdoms who can fight so fiercely while half asleep even. I never want to go through anything like this ever again."
"I agree." Rhaegar said easily, looking down upon him and touching his face again with the barest brush of his knuckles.
Harry reached up and he pulled his husband down into a kiss, prodding his tongue into Rhaegar's mouth easily as his husband had been laughing at his frantic boldness.
Missing Scene - Please head over to AO3 or AFF for the full, uncensored scene.
"That was wonderful." Harry sighed happily.
"It always is with you." Rhaegar chuckled, his voice gruff and raspy.
"I love you so much, Rhaegar. We need to stop taking so many risks. I don't think I can handle any more of this sort of stress." Harry managed to say before yawning widely, not even bothering to politely cover his mouth as his hands remained in silver-blond hair.
"Get some sleep, my love. We'll talk more in the morning, when the kids are home and have had their fill of seeing you."
Harry hummed and turned to lay more against Rhaegar, who had moved off of him and to the side, tugging the heavy blankets over them to stave off the coming night chill as he'd done so. Harry slid against sweaty skin and he yawned again, his eyes watering.
Rhaegar watched as Harry slipped slowly off to sleep in his arms, his hand against Harry's back, rubbing in soothing circles. It eased something within him to have Harry back in his arms, back to sleeping beside him every night. He pressed a kiss to the top of Harry's head and he settled himself down to sleep too. He was never, ever letting Harry out of his sight, if not his arms, ever again. Too many times over the years he had come too close to losing him forever, this last incident was just one too many and he was terrified of losing Harry. Perhaps it was time to hand everything over to Rhaegon. If anything it would save his heart from pain, or the possibility of bursting from his chest.
He sighed and pulled Harry in tighter to his body, smiling at the small grunt that Harry emitted in his sleep. He tucked the blanket around Harry more securely and he eventually stopped worrying long enough, and he relaxed himself enough, to finally drift off to sleep too. Tomorrow their small respite of peace would be broken and things would go back to their hectic normality. He was very glad that they had had this one, small moment to themselves first, it would go a long way to settling them both down once more.
Harry smiled in joy as he was embraced by several children. Naerys' long, silver hair getting in his mouth, tall Maelor who looked his image was stood behind him, tiny little Aenar and Aeron down by his chest.
"I'm alright." He told them all, the Maester in him digging out Aenar and turning him to protect his broken arm.
"Ser Barristan said that you had walked all the way to Highgarden, Mother!" Maella said fretfully.
"That's right, sweetness." Harry said gently, finding her in the mass of bodies and pulling her head to his lips. "I could not stay in Oldtown, so I escaped the city and walked to Highgarden."
"You could have died, Mother." Aeron warbled and Harry was devastated to see that he was in tears.
"Oh, come here." Harry stepped from the circle of his babes and he picked up his youngest child. The youngest one he'd ever have now. He settled Aeron on his hip and hugged him tight. "I'm fine, Aeron, I promise. I was not hurt."
"But what if you had been?" He stressed. "What if they'd found you and hurt you?"
"Well they didn't, my sweet boy and now they can never harm anyone ever again. Your brother had them all put to the King's justice."
"What if one of them still lives?" Aenar asked, just as worriedly.
"I watched as every single one of them were charged and executed, Aenar." Rhaegon said gently. "None of them are still alive."
"But…how can you be so sure, Rhaegon?" Aeron asked insistently.
"A man cannot live without his head, tiny." Rhaegon replied easily.
"Oh." Aeron blinked a little. "So Mother is safe?"
"Good!" Aeron declared firmly, planting a kiss to his Mother's cheek.
Harry placed him back down on his feet and then sat down. "Aenar, come here, let me check you over."
The slim eight year old came to him, his bound arm already held out for inspection.
"I did my best." Valarr said worriedly. "But I don't think I tied it tightly enough, Aenar kept complaining of pain and he said that it was itching."
"No, this is perfect, Valarr. The painful feeling and the itching are both a sign of the bone healing. Well done."
Valarr looked a little less worried then, standing up straighter and he gave a small, soft smile.
Harry turned back to Aenar and he took his dagger carefully to the binding, cutting it away and then he checked on the bone, the skin, for any odd marks or shapes.
"How is it feeling now, Aenar?" He asked, even as he dipped a cloth into a bowl of water to wash the skin gently.
"Better now that the stitching is out, Mother." Aenar said, watching every move he made curiously. "Valarr was very gentle."
"You haven't been playing with it?"
"You haven't knocked it, not even by accident or in play?"
Aenar shook his head. "No, Mother. I've been very careful with it because I want to be a knight!"
"You'll make a very formidable knight one day, but first, you need to heal."
"It's been awful not being able to sword play." His eight year old insisted.
"I know, but with a broken arm, there are a great many things that you can't do."
"Perhaps the next time that we tell you not to do something, you will actually listen." Rhaegar said firmly, Naerys perched happily in his lap, she had not flowered in their absence, much to both of their relief. Rhaegar had fully supported Harry's idea of presenting her with a list of all the men who had demanded that she marry before she was even flowered. He had been furious when Harry had told him about the Tyroshi nobleman who had been the most recent man to demand Naerys' hand in marriage.
Aenar ducked his head. "I will." He said.
"This is healing nicely." Harry declared. "A few weeks more and you'll be fine and back to playing and taking your sword lessons."
"Truly?" Aenar asked excitedly.
Harry laughed. "Truly."
"You are alright too, Mother?" Maelor asked.
Harry smiled softly. "I am. I needed to rest and eat a little, I have now done so and I am very well. Your Father is a little protective, as always, but Grand Maester Gormon had declared me fine and healthy a week ago."
"We've brought Aelyx back with us." Baelon said, as he came striding into the solar of Maegor's Holdfast. "He won't settle at all, I left him with Balerion and from the way that he's acting, Aelyx has slipped genders."
"How is he, or she if he has slipped gender?" Harry asked immediately. "Were those wounds very deep afterwards? We never had the chance to examine them thoroughly during the rescue."
"They weren't too deep, Mother. I managed to heal him and now he's doing better, but he has been scarred. Some of his scales are missing and I don't know if they'll ever grow back because of the puckered scars underneath. He's also a little more demanding and skittish than he was before. He refuses to go anywhere alone, he's staying close to Balerion and he keeps keening, crying out for something, but when we offer him anything, the things that we think he want's, he rejects them."
Harry nodded, he had a very good idea of what Aelyx wanted, and only he could give it to him. "I will go and see to him then. Children, a light meal has been prepared for you, I should be back before you've finished. Go on."
He urged them towards the laid table and then he left Maegor's Holdfast, making his way to the newly reinforced Dragonpit, with five members of the Kingsguard standing tall at his back. He rather thought that it was a little unneeded, or at the least a bit of an exaggeration, but he said nothing as Ser Arthur, Ser Barristan, Ser Oswell, Prince Lewyn and Ser Arys followed him out of Maegor's Holdfast, out of the Red Keep and into the city proper.
From there he was surrounded on all sides as if he were under imminent threat and he sighed heavily, lifting his eyes skyward for a moment, as if beseeching the Gods.
"It's no good huffing and puffing, Your Grace." Prince Lewyn teased him. "You've brought this upon yourself."
"A little excessive, don't you agree?" Harry said with a smile.
"After the trouble that you always manage to find, I have to disagree with you." Ser Arthur insisted.
Harry laughed then. "Rhaegar and I have sworn off of such things now. This latest disaster was one too many. I was terrified that Rhaegar was dead when I saw the arrows stuck in his body and we were ripped away from one another, leaving me to face grave danger alone. Garlan almost killed himself and all of his men to come back for me, but after Rhaegon had ordered him back to Highgarden when I couldn't be found, I was alone in that city for four days."
"Where did you hide?" Ser Barristan asked him.
"Can you not guess?" He asked with a small laugh. "The godswood, of course. I eventually climbed a tree right beside the city wall and I dropped over the other side, I waited for night to fall and then ran to the Honeywine, filled up my water skin and then followed the river until I could just about see Brightwater Keep and then I went West around it and into open field."
"There are no rivers out that way." Prince Lewyn said sternly.
"I rationed the one water skin that I had." Harry said softly. "I had to make it last from the moment I left the Honeywine until I hit the Mander."
"How long did you survive with just the one water skin?" Ser Barristan asked him, looking a little paler.
"A week and a half." Harry admitted, to gasps and grunts of distress. "I'm fine. I survived. I took a swallow of water every morning, but refused to allow myself to have any more. I will not lie though, not to any of you, there were times when I wanted to just sit down, drain the water skin dry and then lie down and never get back up again. It was much harder, much worse, when the water skin ran dry about two days before I eventually reached the Mander, I truly thought that I was going to die then, as I had no idea where I was in relation to the Mander or if I would even make it there. I wanted to lie down and not get back up again at that point, but that has never been the person that I am. I have never in my life allowed myself to give into such desires and I have always fought through such difficulties. I was determined that that walk would be no different."
"You have certainly proved as such over the course of your life." Ser Barristan sighed.
"You truly have never been one to give in when things get difficult." Prince Lewyn said sadly, thinking back over the events that had marred his tiny friend's life, from the madness of his Father, King Aerys, the orders that he and his sworn brothers had chosen to follow to ignore the small, heartbroken twelve year old, to the uncelebrated thirteenth name day. Then there finding the recently turned thirteen year old missing one morning, about a week later. Their tiny Prince had turned up two and a half years later with a Maester's chain about his slim neck and that insufferable grin as if he had never been away. Then came the threats to his life once more, the quick, secret marriage in the godswood and as quickly as he'd come, he'd been gone again, this time to Dragonstone with his new brother-husband. A year and a half later he had come back with the infant Rhaegon. Then came the trip to Dorne and then the Kingswood Brotherhood and when he'd seen his beloved Prince in that too small crow cage, beaten, bound and unconscious, he had lost all sense as he attacked and killed those responsible. It had been an agonising time, waiting for his Prince to recover and wake up once more. The relief had been extraordinary as he'd seen Rhaegar supporting Haradarian into the solar, a little tired, a little unsure on his feet, but he'd smiled and that had been the greatest thing that he'd ever seen.
Shortly after had been the tourney at Harrenhal and then…then the fool's rebellion and the desperate, clawing fear that Haradarian had been slain by the Lannisters, even as Rhaegar had won at the Trident, though they had feared that he would keel over at any moment due to the dent in his armour and the ribs underneath. They had found Haradarian safe and well, his babe still thriving…the babe who would emerge as Baelon, the Prince of Summerhall and the protector of dragons. The Prince whose infant son, Aedus, kept all those of them on duty at night with a constant sore, pounding head with his screaming and wailing.
After the rebellion, not much had actually threatened their beloved royal family, there had been a few Baratheon supporters who had tried to attack them, the Lannisters had tried to rebel with the aid of the Maesters, but Haradarian had sorted that out quickly and efficiently and he had taken Janei Lannister as a hostage. The ten year old had been terrified and in tears, but Harry had never been one for unneeded cruelty, not to children, and he had treated her kindly and reassured her that no harm would ever come to her. She had been placed into the care of the Septa who taught all of the Princesses their sewing and such and she had been very well cared for, then Rhaegon had spotted her and the infatuation was almost instant. They had married when Janei had first flowered and they now had two baby daughters and another babe on the way, according to his wife.
Since the put down of the Lannisters, would-be rebellion, nothing had truly threatened their royal family until the rise up of the Maesters and the Faith in Oldtown. Aelyx had gone missing and Haradarian had immediately known that the Citadel had been to blame, but he had still gone looking for Aelyx first, insistent on being seen to do what was right before he went to Oldtown and stormed the Citadel.
None of them could take much more of the antics of the royal family, and this latest debacle was just too much. Thankfully, it seemed that their two Kings finally agreed with them, at last. With a little luck, nothing like this would ever happen again.
"I don't believe that I'd ever be able to live with myself if I gave in without fighting, without even trying." Harry said thoughtfully.
"My King, it is wonderful to see you." A female voice called out from the streets and Harry automatically smiled and raised a hand in acknowledgement. "May the Seven bless you, Your Grace!"
"Thank you, dear woman." Harry replied graciously. "It is wonderful to be home in the Capital once more."
More smallfolk called out greetings and blessings, right up until they reached Rhaenys' Hill, then the crowds became thinner, with less people around. A dozen gold cloaks guarded the Hill, several of them right outside the newly reinforced entrance to the Dragonpit. He and Rhaegar were taking absolutely no chances with their precious babes. It was too soon after the fear of the Maesters attempt to once more wipe out the living dragons in Westeros…they would not allow them to have an easy target.
The gold cloaks stood aside with respectful nods and murmurs of greetings and then the six of them entered the Dragonpit, where a dozen dragons were sleeping lazily. A dozen different coloured eyes opened to squint at them, before declaring them as no threat. Daegon, King Haradarian's favoured war mount, was the only one to get to his feet, stretching, before he came to greet them.
"Hello, Daegon." Harry greeted the black and gold dragon fondly, lovingly, but his gaze was pinned to Balerion, and the smaller lump nestled incredibly close beside him.
Aelyx was close in colouring to Balerion, jet black, with hints of red, but with the addition of a smattering of gold too.
Harry finished greeting Daegon and he pushed him towards the massive pile of cooked meat in the corner of the Dragonpit while he went straight to Aelyx.
"Aelyx, my love." Harry called out gently, touching the nose of the dragon gently, scratching at his scales with his nails.
The dragon flinched under his touch and reared back before he'd even opened his eyes. Balerion beside him gave a warning growl of discontent.
"Enough of that." Harry chastised Balerion sternly. "Aelyx, come here."
Aelyx, who had actually opened his golden eyes now, tried to snuggle up to Harry as if he were a tiny hatchling still as soon as he realised that his Mother was in front of him.
Harry sat on the floor and the tip of a snout found his lap, pressing in as Aelyx bent his head to get on eye level with him, whining and grunting. Harry just sat and stroked him, scratched him with his nails, speaking to him softly and soothingly, ignoring the tremendous heat coming from his babe. The Dragonpit was always swelteringly hot, the stone held the heat of the dragons so well that it was almost like a furnace inside, especially when there were a dozen or more dragons housed inside it.
"We're never going to let you go again." Harry promised Aelyx softly, listening to the soft chirrup of pleasure and happiness as Aelyx rubbed his head into Harry's lap further.
Balerion shifted and he took a moment to peer around and then one wing flared and came down over the back of Aelyx, tucking the much smaller dragon up safely. Harry smiled to see it, but Baelon had been right, Aelyx had shifted genders and it seemed like she was going to be having her first clutch of eggs soon. Their Balerion would be having his first ever clutch too. He hadn't fancied any of his brothers turned sisters before now, Aelyx was the first and Harry smiled. He couldn't wait to tell Rhaegar, but at least Balerion would be very protective of Aelyx from now on. Very few dragons were monogamous, usually one of them impregnated all of the females. He and Rhaegar had expected it to be their big, dominant Balerion, but he had shown no interest so Rhaelys, driven mad by the fertile females, had slipped under and had impregnated Pyrexian and Saera, he was the sire of the five eggs back at Summerhall. Now Balerion had staked a claim on just one particular dragon, one who had been a male before she had been taken and imprisoned in the Citadel. Harry was just happy that Aelyx would now be protected and safe and hopefully, she would stop flinching when she was unexpectedly touched with a bit more time.
Harry spent hours down in the Dragonpit with Aelyx. He had told his children that he would be back before they'd finished eating, but he was sure that Rhaegar and their older sons would look after them and keep them entertained. Aelyx whined every time that Harry made to move, so he was very prepared to stay down here, in the Dragonpit, and sleep with Aelyx if that was what his babe needed to feel safe and secure again.
"How is he?" Rhaegar's voice came from the other side of the Dragonpit.
Harry looked up, towards Rhaegar and he sighed. "She."
"She has slipped gender then?" Rhaegar asked, coming to sit behind him on the hot, stone floor.
Harry nodded. "Our Balerion is smitten. I think that they have eggs on the way."
"So soon after Aelyx's torment?"
"It might have made her feel better." Harry said consideringly, then he sighed. "Remember when I was caught by the Kingswood Brotherhood, and when I got back all I wanted was for your touch? It helped me to remember that you were there with me, that you still loved me despite what had been done to me. Of course I still had nightmares and moments of fear and panic, but you helped me through it, Rhaegar. It seems that Balerion helps Aelyx through the same."
"Well it seems that Rhaelys will have some competition for the affection of the female dragons." Rhaegar chuckled.
Harry snorted. "I don't think so. By all rights Balerion could have trampled Rhaelys to get to Pyrexian and Saera, but he didn't. He had no interest in them."
"You're saying that he might only want Aelyx?"
"Well he certainly didn't want Pyrexian or Saera." Harry pointed out. "I'm not saying he might not want others later, if any more of our boys switch to females and he takes interest, but he has staked a claim on Aelyx, very soon after she has arrived home a female too. He made sure to do so before any other dragon could show any interest and he's keeping her close. I think that he's just rather picky."
"There's nothing wrong with that." Rhaegar teased, nuzzling his neck.
"No." Harry smiled. "There's nothing wrong with it, but Rhaegar, our Balerion is going to sire a clutch!" He said excitedly.
Rhaegar laughed and bent forward a little more to kiss his cheek.
"Baelon has said that the five eggs are still well cared for and they're not any nearer to hatching, but Pyrexian and Saera are both still incubating. Rhaelys brings them both food and they are well within distance of the water tanks. The servants keep them topped up via the drains we had built in."
"Good." Harry nodded happily. "All the writings claim that when the eggs are close to hatching that they will not want to move away from the top of them. I want them to have water within distance and Rhaelys is being a good sire and feeding them both well. Very soon we'll have some more little hatchlings running around the corridors."
"Speaking of…Baelon said that Laeraxes is missing you. He has never been so long without you and he is prowling the halls of Summerhall looking for you. The servants are all too afraid to go about their daily duties."
Harry sighed. "When Baelon goes back to Summerhall I will have him send Laeraxes over and I will spend some time with him. He is only six after all. Our youngest babe."
Rhaegar nuzzled against the back of his head and Harry laughed softly, but he was getting aroused and there was nothing that he could do about it.
Balerion lifted his head and sniffed the air a little, then he snorted and settled down again. Rhaegar actually laughed and Harry gave him a good, bony elbow to the chest for his teasing. He made sure to hit the opposite side of Rhaegar to the healing broken ribs…the twice broken ribs.
He sighed heavily and rested back against Rhaegar gently, trying not to put much weight on him, but his husband knew what he wanted, knew what he was doing, and he wasn't having it. He wrapped an arm around him and pulled him back firmly, putting all of Harry's weight onto himself.
"I have enough strength left to me to hold you, my love. I will always have the strength to support you."
"I am almost of a size with you, your ribs."
"My ribs are fine and I have no sharp pains that you warned me of. You might have grown to be near as tall as me, brother, but I am still much broader and heavier than you are."
"My dear, Rhaegar, are you truly admitting to being fat, after all of these years of denial?" Harry teased. He heard a quiet snort from further back against the wall, where their Kingsguard were standing guard over them. It would only be Lewyn or Arthur. They had known about them, truly known about them, for so long that he and Rhaegar found it difficult to chastise them, just the opposite, they usually joked with them and spoke to them both as dear friends, as truly that is what they were to the both of them.
"You know damn well that I wasn't." Rhaegar faux growled, but still he got several answering growls from the dragons, who looked up and cast about their eyes for a reason for their Father to growl in such a way, before they settled back down once they realised that no one was here that shouldn't have been and their Father was merely playing.
Harry chuckled and he trusted his husband's judgement and he rested fully back upon his broader husband, Aelyx's snout still in his lap.
"Do you think that she will let you go?" Rhaegar asked.
"Not tonight, I wouldn't imagine. It has been some years since I have had to sleep with the dragons. I do not count the nights I spent with Pyrexian and Saera as they laid their eggs, I didn't actually sleep then. I was too worried and far too excited for our first dragon born eggs."
Rhaegar kissed the back of his head. "The children are all unpacking. None of them want to go back to Summerhall with Baelon, they want to stay with you."
"After over a turn away from them, it is nothing I did not expect." Harry said. "I am going to be rather popular in the coming weeks."
"I don't mind sharing you with our children, but remember, at night, you're mine."
Harry laughed at that, surprised. "Just not tonight, my love. Aelyx needs me."
"You're not staying down here alone, Harry. I'm not going to just leave you down here so soon after getting you back."
"It has been over two weeks since I wandered into Highgarden, are you still so off balance?"
"Yes. It will take several turns for me to get back to leaving you in peace to wander around alone. Until then, you're staying in my sight, or you'll be under the protection of the Kingsguard at all times."
Harry hummed then. "I had wondered why it needed five of them to escort me down to the Dragonpit when truly, only one would have usually been required. We have a lot of children, Rhaegar, children that need protecting here in the Capital. I would never forgive you the order that would see me protected over our own babes."
"They are safe inside Maegor's Holdfast." Rhaegar told him soothingly. "I ordered the Bronze Gates closed for the night, naturally only letting ourselves back in if needed, and Ser Balon is on Maegor's Bridge while Ser Willem is patrolling the corridors."
"It is not so late already, is it?" Harry questioned in surprise.
"The children are exhausted from their nine days of travelling and Aenar and Aeron barely made it through their dinners." Rhaegar told him. "I put them both to bed before coming down here for you. I would imagine by now that all of our babes are either sleeping, or they're being quiet in their bedchambers."
Harry sighed and lifted a hand to stroke at Aelyx's head some more, scratching right below the eye socket, on the ridge of scales there, just as Aelyx liked. His other hand had risen almost against his will to tug on the Maester's chain around his neck.
"You're torturing yourself with thoughts again. Stop thinking about such things, Haradarian, it will do you no good. What has happened, has already happened and there is no changing it now."
"How do you always know?" Harry tilted his head back to smile up at Rhaegar.
"You get this scrunched up, pained look on your face. Stop it."
"It is one of my heaviest thoughts, it has been for years."
Rhaegar looked a little uncomfortable then and he sighed heavily himself. "What if I had never found the prophecy from Valyria? What if it had been destroyed before either of us were even born and we didn't know to lie with one another? What if we had never given our love a true chance and had never had any of our babes, human or dragon?"
"So you do know." Harry said softly.
"We have the same greatest fear, my love, and that is losing one another in any way, losing the family that we have built together over the many years. It is a common fear among those of us who hold true love, as we do. I wouldn't let it trouble you, as I have said, what has happened has already happened, and cannot be changed."
Harry smiled and rested against Rhaegar's chest, leaning more towards the side that didn't have twice broken ribs. Rhaegar was lucky to be alive…in truth, they both were. They were lucky in so many ways, to have one another, to have their babes, to have the dragons, to have grandchildren. Then they had friends that they could entrust their lives to, strong allies in those around them, they were safe on the Iron Throne, as they had been privileged enough to be born to royalty. They had so much to be thankful for that it seemed ungrateful to worry about anything, but he couldn't help it, he did worry and fret a lot, and it seemed that his husband did too. They would need to talk more about it once they were safely wrapped up in one another's arms in their bed together.
"How is Aelyx?" A new voice joined them.
The both of them looked behind to see their tall, strong Rhaegon approaching.
"She's very unsettled, but Balerion is helping her. She has eggs on the way."
"Truly?" Rhaegon asked as he laid a gentle hand on Aelyx's head, up by her horns. She didn't even stir and Harry smiled in relief. She was going to be just fine.
"Yes, it seems that Balerion enjoys Aelyx as a female more than he did as a male." Rhaegar laughed.
"Aenar woke up in pain, I gave him some more milk of the poppy and I stayed with him until he fell asleep again. I made absolutely sure that it was less than a quarter of a spoon."
"You do make a wonderful father, Rhaegon." Harry said happily.
Rhaegon chuckled. "I had good parents to model my behaviour on."
"Did you find out if Janei was truly pregnant again?" Rhaegar asked after several moments of silence.
"Yes, and she is. Grand Maester Gormon has confirmed it. She says that she is praying for a boy for me, but I have told her, as I did with Shaea and Rhaenys, that I do not care as long as she and the babe come out of the birth healthy. I have enough younger brothers that I do not need a son to secure our family. I would be content with all girls if that is what the Gods grant us and I always mean my words. If Janei and I have no sons, I would happily name Baelon my heir and then I could go and lounge around Summerhall all year round and play with the newly hatched dragons all day. Baelon already has a son in Aedus, and truly there are enough of us to secure our family for generations. Soon we will be a part of every major and minor house of the Seven Kingdoms."
"It was not so long ago that we numbered just five." Harry said thoughtfully. "Now we are twenty-seven. We will be twenty-eight when Janei has your third babe. We truly are growing and spreading."
"We have done well." Rhaegar said. "Truly we have done all that we could to save our family. Fourteen babes you've given me, Haradarian. It is their turn now."
"Will you have no more now?" Rhaegon asked.
"Whatever blessing the Gods gave me when I was young, they have now taken away. I cannot have any more babes. I stopped falling pregnant as soon as our babes started having babes of their own. As soon as the next generation was secured, the ability was lost." He said softly. "Laeraxes is six years old, and so is Garyn. As soon as Helaena had Garyn, my ability was no longer needed to secure the Targaryen family. Truthfully your Father and I are getting much too old for this nonsense. We will see Aenar and Aeron to adulthood, if they don't kill themselves first, and then we will retire and enjoy the rest of our lives peacefully."
Rhaegon laughed at that. "I have never seen either of you sitting still for more than a day." He explained. "There is always a new tourney to practice for, a new threat to take down or some other problem that interrupts such idyllic notions. Neither of you were made to sit still."
"The mantel will pass to you one day, Rhaegon." Rhaegar said seriously. "We are getting older and we cannot live forever. On that day we will hand over our crowns and then you will be King of the Seven Kingdoms and Lord Protector of the Realm and it will fall to you to deal with the problems that arise and the grievances of the smallfolk. I just wish that I could still hand over Kingsfire to you, but…"
"The last time that you held it you opened up your own leg." Harry finished with a laugh. Rhaegar shifted under him uncomfortably.
"Haradarian. I am so sorry, my love. I know that you collected the steel for years, for a decade even, that you carved out the hilt yourself from dragonbone, that you had forged it with your own hands, putting in your own Valyrian steel links from your Maester's chain, but…"
"Rhaegar, what are you speaking of?" Harry asked worriedly as Rhaegar trailed off painfully, turning to look at his husband, almost dislodging Aelyx's head from his lap. "Are you feeling quite well? Perhaps I should look at your ribs again, just in case."
Rhaegar intercepted his raised hand before it could touch his head to check for a fever. He looked so mournful that Harry's heart actually missed a beat in his chest and he didn't even know why.
"Harry, I cannot give Kingsfire to Rhaegon because I lost it in Oldtown when I was injured. I am so sorry, my love."
"I tried to look for it." Rhaegon carried on as Harry remained silent. "I had men tear apart every single house, every building and hide hole to look for it, but it was nowhere to be found."
Harry blinked twice, and then he laughed. He laughed so hard that he had tears in his eyes.
"I thought that you would be angry." Rhaegar confessed. "It took you years to collect enough steel, you were heavily pregnant with Baelon when you forged it, putting both of you at risk, and you carved the hilt from an ancestral dragon head with your own hands."
"Oh." Harry exclaimed, wiping his eyes. He giggled a little in true amusement and it brought an answering smile to Rhaegar's face as he heard it, as it always did. "Do you think that I value some sword more than I do my husband? My children?" He asked. "Regardless of how long it took to make, or to collect the steel, I love you and our babes more than I could ever care about some sword."
Rhaegar hugged him close and kissed him. "I am just regretful that I lost such a precious gift that was made by your own hands. You know that I treasured it more because you had made it with your own hands and had given it to me with such a look of love and pride on your face. You were so proud of the work that you'd done that I swore to myself that I would treasure whatever it was that you were giving to me for the rest of my life, just because of that look. I treasured it as I could only treasure a gift given to me by my beloved husband."
"So you should be regretful for leaving it." Harry teased. "You're just lucky that after you were gone on the back of Viserion that I picked it up and took it with me. It is up in our bedchambers, in my luggage that was given to me by our Helaena."
Lewyn and Arthur couldn't help themselves as they started laughing from against the wall. Even Ser Barristan managed a rueful chuckle and Rhaegon laughed out loud, but Rhaegar looked stunned as those twinkling green eyes gazed up at him, that perfect pink mouth curved into a naughty, teasing grin.
"Truly?" He asked, hardly daring to believe it.
"Truly. I would not have left it there, just as I would never have left you there, injured as you were. It is your sword, made by my own hand to my own design just for you, my love. No one else but a Targaryen can have it. Only the ruling King will ever hold that sword as his own. Of course I took it with me after first seeing you to safety. Though perhaps this will be a lesson to you in shirking your duties. I am sure that I told you two weeks ago, once we had arrived back home from Highgarden, to unpack my luggage for me. If you had done as asked, you would have found the sword and put a stop to all this needless fretting."
That set off another round of laughter and even Rhaegar managed to chuckle this time and he all but crushed Harry in a tight hug. Aelyx moved her head herself, to tuck it up under Balerion's neck and Harry stretched automatically, working out his numb and stiffened legs.
Balerion shifted himself, his wing tucking Aelyx in tighter to himself and he turned his head to curl up around Aelyx and Harry smiled. He stood with shaky, wobbly legs that had fallen asleep under the heavy weight of Aelyx's head and he stretched as much as he could, going almost lightheaded as a result. He took a deep breath and smiled as he looked upon his sleeping babe, he was so thankful that she had been brought home safely and he kissed Aelyx's scales lovingly, scratching against the ridge of scales that she loved being touched.
"Rest peacefully, my babe." He said to her softly. "Know that you are safe and loved, that you are back with your family now and this will never happen again."
"It seems that we will not be spending the night down here then." Rhaegar said happily.
Harry turned and smiled at him, walking forward to wrap his arms around his neck, fingers automatically playing with silver hair. They were almost on eye level with one another, Harry was barely an inch shorter, but Rhaegar was much broader, as was their Rhaegon, who had grown to be taller than them both, but with his Father's broadness.
"Come, let us go back to the Holdfast and rest in the solar for a while. I need to eat and I want to check on our babes before we retire for the night. Aelyx is well protected and it seems that she doesn't need me as much as I had thought, Balerion has her from here."
Rhaegar supported him upright as they left the Dragonpit. The shift of gold cloaks had changed, but the men were alert and they had more than enough warmth and light. They had a large fire pit, food and wine, warm cloaks and two dozen torches. They were well provided for, and even if they were a little scared still, as the dragons could and would leave the Dragonpit via the open roof, they knew well enough to douse themselves with perfumes, anything as long as they did not smell like meat and thus invite the dragons to see them as food.
They made it back to the Red Keep, and then to Maegor's Holdfast, with no trouble and they greeted Ser Balon Swann cordially. The young man was stood, tall and strong and dutiful. Harry very much approved of this man. He made for a good Kingsguard member.
Ser Arys Oakheart replaced Ser Balon on the bridge, as directed by Ser Barristan, the Lord Commander of them, and Ser Oswell was sent to find Ser Willem and relieve him of his duties. Both knights who had been relieved were to go to White Sword Tower and sleep.
Harry went to check on his sleeping babes, Aenar and Aeron, both in the same large bed for warmth. He checked on Aenar's arm gently and he kissed them both on their foreheads, moving their conflicting hair first, Aenar with silver, Aeron with black. It was such a strange thing to see when both boys had the same face and the same eyes.
He checked on his older twins, Maelor first, their only babe to take fully after himself, then Maella, who was silver haired and green eyed. She was in bed with Naerys, who was also silver haired and green eyed, but Naerys was awake…she looked petrified.
"What is it, sweet one?" Harry asked her at a whisper. "Have you had a bad dream?"
"I…I've flowered." Naerys said in a soft sort of horror as she lifted a blood covered hand. Whatever he had been expecting, it had not been that.
"Come with me." Harry ordered.
Naerys listened immediately and with an air of a woman going to her own execution, she followed him to the bathing chamber just down the hall.
"Clean yourself up while I fetch an attending lady, it is not proper for me to see you in nakedness."
"Mother!" Naerys called out worriedly and Harry stopped and he thought about how all of this seemed to his young daughter.
He turned and went back to her, kissing her forehead and smiling reassuringly. "It is nothing for you to fret over, you have become a woman now, Naerys. I will send someone to help you to change and clean up while I am going to mix you something to help with the pain. Then we will talk, yes?"
Naerys nodded, still looking as if she were about to be executed. He would have to reassure her more with their talk once she was clean.
He left the bathing chamber and sent a passing servant to wake one of the attending ladies for his young daughters. It had been important to him and to Rhaegar to give their children the influence of an actual woman, especially their daughters, so they kept a handful of noble ladies at court to teach their young daughters about womanly things, and also to give a softer influence to their sons. It seemed to have worked out rather well.
Harry went right to his and Rhaegar's bedchambers and to the table in the corner that was covered in dried herbs and little bottles and jars. He made up a small dose of a moderate painkiller and he took the vial to the solar to await Naerys.
"Are you well?" Rhaegar asked him, seeing the expression on his face.
"Boys, go to bed." He ordered his older sons.
Rhaegon, Baelon and Aenys all baulked at the command as if they were mere boys once more, but Valarr, soft, lovely Valarr just stood, bid him and Rhaegar goodnight, and he left for his bedchambers.
"Haradarian?" Rhaegar queried again, worriedly.
"All is well, just go to your bedchambers, there is something that has come up and you will only regret staying." He explained, settling his grown sons some as they took their curious wives and then left for their childhood bedchambers, after bidding him a rather stiff goodnight.
"What was that about?" Rhaegar asked once they were gone.
"Naerys has flowered and she doesn't wish for an audience with her brothers." Harry said simply.
"Oh. Oh!" Rhaegar said. "Well, seven hells, will we ever get the chance to just settle down and rest?"
"Not tonight it seems." Harry smiled ruefully.
They waited for near on half an hour before Naerys made her appearance, very pale, very slow moving and looking as uncomfortable as Harry had ever seen her.
"Here, sweet one. Drain it in one and then have some water." He encouraged.
She did as asked and swallowed the whole vial in one and then, with streaming eyes, gulped at some water in a very unladylike manner, but they could forgive her as such in the circumstances. Truly Harry believed that Rhaegar would forgive her just about anything.
"Has it been explained to you what has happened?" He asked.
She nodded. "I already knew what would happen, Maella told me when she first flowered and I asked Aelinor and Aelora about it too."
"Then why are you so worried, little flower?" Rhaegar asked her.
"Because…" Naerys cut herself off with a frown.
"What is it?" Harry prompted after several moments of silence.
"We are your parents, Naerys, you can tell us anything."
"I don't want to be married!" She said in a rush.
"You don't?" Harry asked, sharing a look with Rhaegar.
"No! I don't want to disappoint either of you or let down my family, but I don't want a husband." She said before she started to cry.
Neither of them could ignore that and as one they stood, crossed to the opposite settee and sat on either side of their youngest daughter.
"Shush now, sweet one." Harry coaxed, smoothing that thigh length hair.
"All will be well." Rhaegar assured her. "Why did you never tell us as such before?"
"I didn't want you to be angry with me." Naerys said softly.
"We wouldn't have been angry, we just want to understand. Do you not want a husband or children?"
Naerys shook her head. He and Rhaegar shared another look.
"Is there something that you've heard about or seen that has put you off? Was it stories of a bedding? You don't have to have one of those if you do not wish to. Your brother Baelon refused to have one and he and Joy celebrated privately. If you don't want one, we will find you a husband who will agree to such terms."
"I don't want a husband! I don't want to be married." Naerys cried out angrily.
"Alright, alright." Harry soothed. "So, nothing has turned you off of the idea?"
"No, I've just never wanted to do as such." Naerys said sadly. "I don't want you to be upset with me."
"We're not." Rhaegar assured her quickly and Harry smirked at him for a moment before turning back to his daughter.
"Of course we aren't, Naerys, but can you explain your thoughts to us?"
"It is just something that I have never wanted, I know that you can force me to marry, I have been dreading my flowering for years."
"We would never force you to marry, Naerys." Rhaegar said firmly. "We have never forced any of our children to marry before and never with someone they did not like."
"You did with Rhaegon!" Naerys accused. "Besides it has never truly come up before, none of my sisters have refused to marry and they are all happy with their chosen husbands. I don't like anyone the way they did!"
"Rhaegon was a special exception, Naerys, and he is the only one. We had to bring the Lannister family into our family or they would have kept rebelling year after year, putting us in more danger. Rhaegon and Janei love one another, they have since they first laid eyes upon the other. As for your sisters, we have allowed them to each pick their chosen husbands, and not once have we ever tried to sway them, or your brothers, from their chosen partners, we have even allowed for Aerin to not be married or even betrothed."
"Because he likes boys." Naerys said, wiping her eyes as she calmed down. "But I don't like girls either."
"Just because you are flowered does not mean that you are to immediately be married." Harry said firmly. "You are three-and-ten, Naerys. Maella is six-and-ten, she has been flowered for two years and she is yet to marry. We will not push you into anything and if you never want to marry, as long as you are happy, we will be content with that."
"You…you will?" She asked, peering up at him and then looking to her Father for confirmation.
"Yes." Rhaegar said firmly. "Just because you have a dozen suitors demanding that you marry does not mean that you have to. We are the blood of the dragon, we will not allow anyone to bully us or to walk all over us. If you do not want to marry, then you do not have to. You can be a half mad, spinster maid who throws things from the tower windows at passers-by if that is what you want and I would love you just the same."
"Truly?" She asked, much happier.
"Truly." They both replied together.
Naerys wiped her eyes with a handkerchief and she looked at them both through large, green eyes. "So, it does not matter that I am now flowered? I do not have to marry."
"Not if you do not wish it." Rhaegar said. "We would never have forced any of our daughters to marry, nor would we have forced our sons."
"Valarr doesn't really want to marry either." Naerys told them.
"I thought that he wanted to marry Bethany Blackwood." Harry said in confusion.
"No. He just thinks she will match him better than anyone else he had yet met. He wants to be a Maester truly and take the oaths, but he doesn't believe he can now after the assault on the Citadel."
"It seems that we have a maid and a man-maid then." Rhaegar said, right before he laughed.
"You're not funny." Harry told him. "I will speak to Valarr in the morning. Now that this has been sorted, why don't you go back to bed? Has the painkiller worked?"
"Yes, Mother. Thank you, for everything."
"Whatever you want, sweet one. Off you go, before poor Maella gets a chill."
"She will not be happy with me, Lady Tammy woke her up so the servants could change the sheets."
Harry laughed. "Then go and share with her your news."
Naerys hurried off and Harry groaned and fell onto Rhaegar.
"Will we ever have a quiet moment to ourselves?"
"No. It seems not." Rhaegar said. "I told you that Valarr was queer."
"Don't say such things of our own son."
"He is more a maid than any of our daughters."
"You will be sleeping in the godswood, I warn you."
"I do not mean to be disparaging." Rhaegar assured him. "But I am sure that he is like you."
"Like me how?" Harry demanded dangerously.
"You need me to be blunt? Fine. He prefers to be fucked instead of being the one to do the fucking, as Aerin does."
Harry breathed in deeply, his nostrils flaring in anger. "So what if he does?" He demanded in his most dangerous tone.
"But nothing." Rhaegar said. "If that is what he prefers I have no worries about it, but he is still a man-maid at nine-and-ten. It is odd. Even you had lost your virginity at four-and-ten."
"Yet, if I recall you were much older." Harry pointed out savagely. "You were seven-and-ten when you had your first ever tumble and yet you despair that our Valarr has waited two years longer than you did? Did I despair that you waited three years after me to lose your virginity? No! He can have sex when he feels that he wants to! If he is four-and-ten, or forty! It is determined by when he is comfortable and ready, not by age, as you should well know. You only lost your own virginity because you did not want to harm me, if you had waited, how old would you have been, Rhaegar? How old?!"
Rhaegar was angry, Harry could see it in those dark indigo eyes and the clenching of his jaw, but Harry would never stand for such said against his children, not even by his husband.
"I would have been twenty." Rhaegar said in a harsh tone. "It would have been our wedding night."
"You cannot see how alike you and Valarr are and it drives me mad." Harry said, his own tone biting. "You only picked up a sword after you found the prophecy, do you think that you would have done as such if you had never found it?! Valarr is your double with my eyes, nothing more. I will not stand for you to insult him, our own son, just because he is a virgin still and likes to read. You would have been exactly the same if not for that prophecy!"
Harry stood and stormed away.
"Where are you going?" Rhaegar demanded.
"I'm getting as far away from you as I can!" Harry answered.
"The Others take you and your anger!" Rhaegar shouted after him and Harry knew that his husband would regret those words as soon as he realised what he'd said. Rhaegar never used that curse with him, not since he had been taken by the Kingswood Brotherhood.
Harry stormed past Ser Arys Oakheart, who was startled as he guarded the bridge into the Holdfast, and he tromped his way to the godswood, a silent Ser Barristan escorting him.
The power of the godswood lashed out violently around him, coming much quicker and more violent in his anger, and he let it whip at his hair and cloak, tugging on him, stinging his skin.
"Brace yourself, Ser." He warned through gritted teeth before he screamed, long and loud, in the high, serpentine hiss that had several dragons screeching from the Dragonpit, on the other side of Kings Landing, as they heard his furious call, unleashing his special magics that shot through the godswood like a wave of high wind, bringing the already blooming and flourishing plant life to a higher quality and to a healthier state, even as his own power cut and harmed him, leaving shallow, bloody rents in his skin and tearing up his clothing. He fell to his knees and he screamed a second time, unleashing everything that he was feeling until he had nothing left.
It was a mark of his self-loathing for fighting with Rhaegar, and it had only happened a handful of times during their lifetime. Truly they hated fighting with one another and after such an event as the siege of Oldtown and the liberation of Aelyx, this fight had come much too soon for them to absorb. Neither had meant to make the other angry, neither had meant to harm the other, it had just happened and now they would both be beating themselves up with their anger, Rhaegar more so for his parting comment.
"We should get those seen to, Your Grace." Ser Barristan said worriedly, several minutes of silence later, when he could no longer hold his tongue as he watched his King bleeding from various wounds over his face, hands and arms.
Harry nodded silently and he held a hand up, silently asking for assistance with his quivering legs. He was too newly recovered for this. He had not truly had the energy to spare for such an outburst. He was going to be back on bed rest, he already knew it.
They ran into a frantic Rhaegar just as they stepped off the serpentine steps. He was running across the courtyard from Maegor's Holdfast. He did not stop running, in fact he got even faster as he saw the blood on his husband and he held Harry tightly when he reached them and he held Harry's face between large hands and kissed his forehead gently.
"I am so sorry, my love." He said, very upset. "I did not mean what I said and I did not mean for the power that you hold to harm you."
"It is not alright." Rhaegar said harshly. "I love you and nothing would ever turn me away from our love. I should never have gotten so riled up and I should never have cursed you as I did. Not after…after all that has happened to you in your life. I love you, with all that I am, please forgive me."
"You were not the only one whose anger was stoked, Rhaegar. We both got angry and we both lashed out in that anger. Come, you can help me bind up these wounds and then we will go to bed. It will be dawn all too soon." He said, craning his head back to look up at the pitch black night, at the thousands of bright stars twinkling above them.
"Do you need me to wake Grand Maester Gormon?"
"No, Rhaegar, let him sleep. They are not deep, you know as such from previous encounters. They will need a bit of a clean and some dabbing with a clean cloth, but they will eventually scab over and heal." Harry sighed heavily and he cast a glance around before deciding that, in the middle of the night, he was safe to indulge a little, he did deserve it after all.
He stopped hobbling and he held his arms up to Rhaegar with a smile. It took his husband a moment to cotton on and he smiled too, picking him up and carrying him back into Maegor's Holdfast.
"I cannot tell if you just wish to be indulged or if you are hurt worse than you appear."
"A little of both." Harry said truthfully. "Truly I will heal without issue, but after so recent a period of bed rest, such an outburst was ill advised. I will need to rest some more to regain my strength."
"I will carry you to wherever you need to go until you are healed, my love, as penance for causing you such harm."
"Oh?" Harry questioned, his tone light and teasing. "I had not known that carrying me was such a burden as to be seen as a penance."
Rhaegar laughed then, before ducking his head and laying a kiss to his lips, closing his eyes against the horror as he tasted blood upon his husband's lips. He had known that Harry's magic often punished him for fights that they had, Harry had theorised once that it was because they were fated to be together and anything that harmed their bond was not allowed, thus Harry's magic punished him for fights that they had. Rhaegar hated it, as he had no such magics and his body did not turn on him in such a way. He hated that they were so unequal in such an awful way.
As punishment he forced himself to see the cuts on Harry's body, imagining that he had taken a knife to his husband to create each and every wound and his vision blurred several times with tears as he helped to clean and bind them, the silent, disapproving Kingsguard stood at their vigil, watching them. It made him feel worse, as they had intended. He took his meagre punishment without a word, or thought, of complaint.
Harry sighed happily once they were finished and he held his arms out again. Rhaegar didn't care at all that their Kingsguard were watching them as he embraced Harry and pulled him across to sit him onto his lap, laying a kiss over those lips. Harry just tasted of Harry this time, not of blood, and he was very thankful for that. Harry cuddled into him and Rhaegar held him tightly, not willing to move, or put Harry down, as they healed the rift in their bond in the only way they knew how, with apologies and physical intimacy, reminding themselves of how very much they loved one another, despite their arguments and anger.
"Come, let us retire to bed." Rhaegar said softly some twenty minutes of calm and quiet later, to a dozing Harry, who was still in his lap.
"Carry me." His husband demanded.
"As if I would ever dare do anything else." He jested as he stood with his husband safely nestled in his arms. Tall Harry might be, but he was a slight weight all the same and easily carried.
Only Ser Barristan followed them to their bedchambers, having obviously declared himself their protector for the night. After the day they had had, indeed in the last two turns, it was hardly surprising that their Lord Commander had taken it upon himself to guard them personally.
He left them at the entrance to their bedchambers and they went inside and closed the door behind them, then Rhaegar took him to the bed and laid him on it gently.
"Let me take care of you." He said softly as he carefully removed Haradarian's tattered tunic and breeches and dressed him again in a loose sleeping tunic, kissing random parts of his body as he did so to convey his sincere apology for the wounds inflicted upon him.
He tucked Harry into the bed before taking care of himself and getting into his own sleeping tunic. They had chosen a terrible time to fight, with Harry's forty-second name day approaching in just a few days, but at least they were over as such and they could talk rationally about it from now on. Tomorrow was a new day and it would bring more anger, questions and perhaps even tears. He was not looking forward to that as he slipped into the bed with his husband and he held Harry close to him. Despite being nigh on exhausted, it took him hours of fretting and thinking of all the ways that he could have handled their fight better before he finally fell to sleep next to Harry.
Rhaegar had been correct that the family would be fraught with anger and tension, but what he hadn't counted on were his sons refusing to even look at him after they'd seen the state of their Mother. Indeed, all the way from Rhaegon to Maelor, his older sons gave him disgusted looks and all his attempts at conversation were met with silence as a reply. His two youngest daughters were the same and Maella and Naerys, after first being assured that the fighting had not been about her or her decision not to marry and had instead just been terrible timing, both refused to speak to him either. As such he was spending a lot of time on his own, and with his two younger twins, Aenar and Aeron, who didn't really understand what had gone on. No one had told them either, as he and Harry had judged them too young to know of such troubles and they had both warned their older children off from telling them also.
Harry's name day had passed normally, with gifts and celebration from all over the Seven Kingdoms, but no tourney had been held, no invitations were sent out, Harry had not wanted such a fuss, he had wanted to stay with his family and no one could blame him for such after what he had been through so recently. The day after Harry's name day, however, was near the same as the last week, silence and loneliness, which had been the same for the last few days now as Harry had flown to Harrenhal the day after his name day to see to Daenerys and the newest member of their family, Jaerys Whent. He had yet to return.
"What was the fight about?"
Rhaegar all but jumped from his skin and he turned to see Rhaegon behind him, looking angry and determined.
"Oh, you are deigning to speak with me today?" He couldn't help quipping.
"I only remember a handful of times that Mother has come back from the godswood looking as he does now and all have been as a result of you. What was the fight about? Naerys is still fretting that she is the cause, is she?"
"No, as your Mother and I said, it was just poor timing." Rhaegar said clearly, firmly.
"What was the fight about then? What caused you to harm one another in such a way? When you know all too well that such rage towards one another causes such wounds to my Mother? We have begged the members of the Kingsguard to tell us, but they continuously refuse."
"As they should. They are all sworn to hold the King's secrets, or Kings' in this case, and despite your short stint as ruling King, I and your Mother are back to filling in that role now, you all should have known better than to put them in such an impossible position."
"What was the fight about?" Rhaegon persisted and Rhaegar sighed out heavily, knowing when his stubborn son would not give up.
"Valarr. It was over Valarr."
The answer visibly shocked Rhaegon. Whatever he had been expecting, it had not been what the fight had truly been about.
"What has Valarr ever done to anyone?!" Rhaegon demanded, suddenly all brotherly overprotectiveness.
"Rhaegon, calm yourself. Your Mother and I had a ridiculous argument and that is the end of things."
"No it isn't!" Rhaegon said. "Why are you fighting and hurting one another over Valarr, what has he done?"
"He must have done or you wouldn't be fighting over him fervently enough to cause those wounds to Mother."
"He hasn't done anything and you shouldn't take that tone with your Father."
Rhaegar turned, a smile already on his face despite his soured mood and he held his arms open for Harry, who looked fresh and healed from his days away, his scabs had healed and nothing remained of them. He was soaking wet, though smiling as he approached him for a proper greeting.
"Why did you ride through the rain?" Rhaegar asked his husband fondly, yet resignedly, even as he hugged him tightly to his chest.
"I needed a bath." Harry said back with a cheeky smile.
"What if you were hit by lightning?" Rhaegar demanded.
"It isn't a thunder storm, just a light rain. Laeraxes enjoyed it too." He said. "By the Gods it's good to see you again. I missed you at Harrenhal. Dany is perfectly fine, though she's getting angrier by the day. Poor Ser Oslyn isn't allowing her to do much. Oh, but you should see little Jaerys, he's beautiful! Big too, and thriving. I'm very proud."
"Has he taken after our Dany?" Rhaegar asked.
"He has, though it is too soon to tell with his eyes, but his hair is a shock of silver-blond. Oslyn goes all gooey eyed and I swear he started melting into a puddle when his son gripped his finger and yawned. Lord Walter and I had a good laugh at his expense for that."
Rhaegar had to kiss him. Rain drops still clinging to his skin, his hair plastered to his head, but Harry was back with him and they were going to be just fine.
"That is all well and good." Rhaegon interrupted. "But why were you fighting over Valarr?"
Harry sighed heavily. "Valarr doesn't want to marry, did you know?"
"No, I thought that he liked the Blackwood girl?" Rhaegon said, his face crumpling in confusion.
Harry shook his head. "No, that was what we thought, but he just thinks that she is the best fit for him, but he truly doesn't want to marry anyone. He wanted to go to the Citadel like me, only unlike me he wanted to swear the oaths and become a Maester truly. It came as a shock to us both and we have had a disagreement over the best course to take with it, but that is all it is, Rhaegon, nothing more."
"But you got hurt, you said before that you need to be truly angry, and only at Father, for it to happen."
"No, my love, you are remembering that wrong. I have to be angry at myself for fighting with your Father for this to happen to me." He stressed. "I feel so awful for shouting at him and for fighting with him that my magic takes it out on myself. I do have a bit of a temper. I can be level-headed, but my patience is not limitless, and when that limit is reached, my temper explodes and I will take it out on the nearest convenient target. Mostly your poor Father."
"So it wasn't anything more?" Rhaegon persisted.
"No, my love. So you can go and tell your brothers and sisters to leave your Father alone, as I insisted before I left for Harrenhal, and you can all stop ignoring him. He deserves your respect still as your Father and this was not his fault, not entirely. We are both equally as hot tempered when we choose to be and we can be as bad as one another sometimes, which does lead to feelings getting hurt, but we always make up in the end, usually before an hour has passed."
"It is not Valarr's fault either?"
"No." The both said firmly.
"This is not the fault of anyone." Harry lied smoothly. "The argument escalated from us not noticing before that Valarr had no interest in marriage, but in the end it wasn't even about Valarr that we were arguing. It is not his fault, it is our fault. The both of us, not just your Father."
"I…I am sorry for laying the blame on you, Father."
"Do not fret over it, Rhaegon." Rhaegar sighed. "You saw your Mother hurt, so soon after he had been found after we believed him to be a prisoner. I do not hold it against any of you. Indeed I had a lot more time to dedicate to Aenar and Aeron and I believe that they enjoyed as such."
"They've been running you ragged, haven't they?" Harry teased.
"I will be glad for a rest!" Rhaegar laughed. "I don't think I have had so many play sword fights since I was the same age."
"Older." Harry cut in with a shitty grin. "Much older."
Rhaegar swatted him and hefted him up, holding him tightly.
"Okay, I was about three-and-ten…alright, five-and-ten!" He conceded when Harry coughed with a grin. "But still, those two boys are fierce."
"I do hope that you haven't just admitted to giving Aenar a sword."
"No." Rhaegar said proudly. "Aeron was the sword, Aenar was his brother's shield. They work so well together."
"Perhaps something to look at in the future then." Harry said, before giving his husband a kiss. "Come, tell me about what has been happening in the Capital while I was away at Harrenhal."
"It has been rather dull and boring here since you left. The dragons have been the most exciting, of course with so many of them here in the Dragonpit the smallfolk have been unsettled. You'd think that after two-and-twenty years of there being dragons here that they would be more used to them."
"Baelon has yet to leave?" Harry questioned.
"He is waiting for you to see him off. He didn't want to leave while you were away at Harrenhal."
"A last supper with him then, I assume he wishes to leave tomorrow morning now that I am home?"
"He is eager to get back to Summerhall, he wants to check on Saera and Pyrexian and the five eggs."
"I can understand that, he is the official protector of the dragons, being the Prince of Summerhall." Harry sighed then. "Rhaegon, how is Janei?"
"She's fine, Mother." Rhaegon said, stepping forward to cup his Mother's cheek for a moment before stepping back. "Shaea and Rhaenys are very excited to be older sisters. They have demanded that their Mother is to have another girl, because they don't want a brother."
Harry laughed. "Oh, those precious girls."
"I'm sure they only say as such because they think a brother will take all of my attention from them. It is not true, of course, but they worry nonetheless, so another sister is the best choice…at least in their opinion."
"Bless them." Harry chuckled. "Come, I need to see my babes and I want to check on Aenar's arm. Has he been well? How has Aelyx been?"
"Aenar is much better in recent days." Rhaegar told him, even as he placed Harry back on the floor and instead took his hand. "He hasn't needed any milk of the poppy at all. Grand Maester Gormon insists that it is a sign that he has healed well and that his bindings can come off soon."
Harry nodded. "It is. I am glad that he listened to us this time and didn't play with it or use it overly much, unlike Aerin. And Aelyx, how is she? I only caught a glimpse of her when I landed with Laeraxes."
"Her egg bearing is progressing very well, but Balerion is so protective of her. He actually bit Daegon for getting too close."
Harry stopped dead. Daegon was one of his favourites. "Is he okay? Did the wound fester?"
"No, but he is limping. I have checked the wound several times, as has Valarr, but we both believe it to be a superficial wound. He is currently in the godswood, we thought it best to separate them so that nothing escalates to anything worse than a warning bite to a hind leg."
Harry nodded and then he sighed. "We always knew that Balerion was going to cause problems if he ever sired babes."
"He is the most dominant of them all." Rhaegar agreed with a nod.
"And as such, he is the most likely to lash out."
"Come, Daegon is fine and he will heal, Aelyx is doing well with her egg bearing and Balerion is being a temperamental male."
"Oh, will we ever have a quiet, peaceful life?"
"Something we ask ourselves every day."
Harry grinned over at Lewyn as he moved to stand at guard behind them.
"It is good to see you again, my friend." Harry greeted him happily.
"It is good to see you safe and sound, considering that you flew off without your Kingsguard…again!" Lewyn chastised. "You said that that habit would change."
"Well, I was never going to change overnight." Harry laughed. "I wanted to see Dany and baby Jaerys."
"You need to stop doing this, the both of you." Lewyn told them.
Harry nodded. "We do know and we're going to take better care of ourselves and our safety from now on."
"It has come about twenty years too late, but we will take what we can with you both." Lewyn teased.
They made it to Maegor's Holdfast and to the royal solar. Harry was delighted to see Ashara in attendance.
"Ashara!" He cried in delight. "Rhaegar, why didn't you say that she was here?" He demanded as he embraced the beautiful woman tightly.
Rhaegar laughed. "I didn't know." He insisted. "I would not willingly have kept you from your beloved wife."
Harry gave him a look, but he laughed regardless.
"I only arrived an hour ago." Ashara said with a smile. "The children said that Rhaegar was sulking in the Maidenvault."
Harry laughed fully then. "The best place for him." Harry quipped.
Rhaegar sighed. "I went to the godswood, the Dragonpit and then to the Great Hall, where my beloved husband found me."
"Enough of that, how are you, Ashara?"
"Wonderful." Ashara said. "I decided to come for a short visit to see my favourite royals, and my brother of course."
"I do love how I was second on that list." Arthur said.
"I've had enough of you already." Ashara laughed.
"Come, have you been offered refreshment?" Harry asked.
"I have, your beautiful daughters have been very dutiful too." She praised. "Sweet Naerys and practical Maella. That dress that she is making is going to be copied from one end of the Seven Kingdoms to the other."
Harry smiled at the praise. "Maella always was very fond of needlework. You know she tried to sew Maelor's fingers together when they were six, she claimed that she was practising, thank the Gods that Ser Balon caught them at it."
"She is very talented." Rhaegar said proudly at a very straight and tall Maella who was listening, the very aforementioned dress draped over her lap. She was elaborately embroidering the hem of it today, she had finished both sleeves already.
"Mother!" Aeron cried out as he hurried into the solar, Aenar just a short pace behind him.
Harry embraced them both and kissed two little faces.
"It has been awful without you!" Aenar said, upset. Aeron nodded seriously beside him.
"Why?" Harry asked. "What has happened? Aenar, your arm?"
"No, Mother. My arm is fine and Grand Maester Gormon says that it is healing really well."
"Then what has happened?" He asked seriously.
"Everyone is angry and won't say why." Aeron said sadly. "Was it something that we did?"
"Oh, boys, no." Harry said. "Come, sit down."
Harry got both his sons onto the settee, one on either side of him.
"Your Father and I had a bit of a fight, okay? It happens sometimes. We always make up afterwards, but when we do fight, it can be bad. Your brothers and sisters blamed your Father and refused to speak to him, that's all. It wasn't your fault."
"Is that why you were all cut up? Did Father do that to you?" Aeron asked, his young voice wavering as he sent his Father a terrified look.
"No." Harry said firmly. "Your Father has never hit me. Not once. Those marks you saw upon me, I did to myself, as penance for fighting with him, as you should never fight or say hurtful things to those you love."
"So…so you fought with one another and…and now what?" Aenar asked.
"And now nothing. We have made up and we are our normal selves." Harry said.
"You remember when you and Aeron had that fight over whose sword was whose." Rhaegar said gently, hunching down in front of the settee, looking at both boys. "What did you do, Aenar?"
"I…I hit Aeron because it was my sword and he said that it was his and it wasn't."
"Why did you hit Aeron? He is your twin brother and you love him, so why did you want to hurt him?"
"I…I don't know, I just wanted him to understand that it was my sword and he kept arguing, and I got so angry, so I hit him."
"It is a little like that. Your Mother and I disagreed over something and we fought like you and Aeron did, only we have never once hit each other, we would not dare to do so. But we still love one another very much, we just shout at one another sometimes if we disagree over something."
"You would not dare to harm me." Harry chuckled. "I would have your head off quicker than you could apologise."
"I do not doubt it." Rhaegar laughed, bending forward and kissing him. "Just as I know that you would never harm me in turn."
"Of course not, we're not so old yet, I still have need of you."
The screeches and screams of their children amused Harry so much that he couldn't breathe through his laughter.
"I don't understand." Aenar said confusedly. "What happened?"
"Don't worry about it, sweet one. You'll know soon enough, until then you can remain sweet and innocent." Rhaegar said, pressing a kiss to Aenar's cheek.
"So, everything is alright now?" Naerys asked.
"Yes, my love. Everything is fine."
"Good!" She declared before she clambered onto her Father's lap and knocked him onto his arse. "I missed our hugs."
Rhaegar laughed, but he held her tight, at least until Maella put aside her dress and leapt onto his back. Not to be left out, Aerin joined them, but Aenar stayed beside him, casting a forlorn look at his bound arm.
"It won't be long now, my love." Harry assured him. "A week or two more and this binding will be able to come off and you can go back to playing and climbing as usual."
"It seems like it has been forever."
"I know it does, but truly it hasn't been and it will be healed very soon. You just need to take a little more care with it for a short while longer and then you will be free of it."
"And it will be the same as it was before?"
"No, I'm sorry, Aenar, but it will always be weaker than the other arm. Once you have broken a bone, it is never as strong as it once was."
"But, I can still be a knight? You said that I'd still be able to be a knight!"
Harry smiled and held Aenar tightly. "You will be able to become a knight, of course you will. You'll just always have to keep your eye on this arm. If you do not believe me then all you need to do is go and ask every knight that you know how many bones they have broken in their lifetimes."
"Your Mother is right, Prince Aenar." Ser Arthur said gently from behind them. "I have broken my arm twice."
"You have?" Aenar asked, turning around, going up on his knees and peering up at Arthur with wide, admiring eyes.
"I have, once when I was a boy like you, and once in a tourney when I was in my twenties." Arthur insisted.
"I've had my ribs broken twice." Rhaegar said. "Yet I can still fight."
"I broke my leg falling from a tower in Sunspear as a child." Lewyn added.
"It's a wonder you didn't break your neck!" Harry snorted.
"Thankfully I landed in a cart of silks from Naath, but my leg caught the edge of the cart as I fell and it broke. It was awful waiting for it to heal as, unlike you, my tiny Prince, I couldn't even get up to walk. I was confined to my bed for nearly three turns waiting for it to heal."
"That sounds awful!" Aenar said, looking at his bound arm in a new light.
"Your Mother is right, near every knight has broken something at least once." Ser Barristan said kindly. "It will not stop you from being a knight."
"Yes!" Aenar cheered. "I need to make up with my sword play too, for all that I've missed, but I am glad that this will not stop me from becoming the greatest knight of all time."
They all shared a laugh at that declaration and the enthusiasm of children. Harry breathed in deeply and looked at Rhaegar when he finally extracted himself from their children and sat beside him, one arm automatically slipping around his shoulders and pulling him to his lips to press a kiss to his temple.
"I love you so much." Rhaegar declared.
Harry smiled as he looked out at his family, at his friends.
"We've done so well, Rhaegar." Harry said happily. "We have a big, beautiful family. We've secured the Iron Throne, we've brought back the dragons, we have friends and allies, but most of all, we have one another. Thank you for being my husband."
Rhaegar laughed and looked at him before kissing him. "No, thank you for loving me, for being so stubborn and so persistent. For showing me what we could have together and for each and every one of our babes."
"Ah, you're such a sweet talker." Harry teased. "Your tongue as smooth as silk."
Rhaegar bent right into his ear and whispered. "You love my silky tongue….in certain places."
Harry blushed red. "You're terrible, but yes…yes I do."
Rhaegar chuckled deeply. "Perhaps I will treat you tonight, as a welcome home gift."
Harry grinned, then laughed. "I do love you with all of my heart. Let us give up these suicide ventures and grow old together."
"My love, I hate to tell you, but we're already old." Rhaegar said seriously, but with a smile.
"You cannot speak for us both, I am five years younger than you are."
Rhaegar laughed and held him tighter, Harry slid in closer and he rested his head on Rhaegar's chest.
"This is what our lives are for." Harry said. "This…our babes around us, all of them happy, another minor rebellion put down, our family safe once more."
"With a little luck and the will of the Gods this is the last time we will have to put down a rebellion. Three in our lifetime, it is at least two too many."
"The fool is dead, the Lannisters are now under our heel and the mad Septon and the fearful Maesters have been…pruned. Like dead flower heads from an otherwise healthy plant." Harry said with a small smile. "We should have no more trouble. We will not relax, nor close our eyes to such dangers, but nor will we become paranoid or start seeing dangers in the shadows."
"No, we will have to build the Citadel up again and weed out any notions of killing off the dragons as the Maesters were rumoured to have done before. We will not grow complacent, but it is time that we took more for ourselves and start relaxing a little. We've earned it, we deserve it. We need some peace for ourselves now. I love you."
Harry kissed Rhaegar once more and he settled, just watching, silently…peacefully. This was perfect, utterly perfect and nothing else could compare. He would never stop worrying nor fretting, but as long as he was alive, he was always going to watch out for his babes and be on hand to give them advice and help. He took in a very large, deep breath and he let it out slowly, turning his head to place it more firmly over Rhaegar's heart. This was perfect.
Several turns later and once more everything had settled into their daily routine of normalcy. Willas had taken over the clean-up of Oldtown and the repairs of the Citadel. The remaining Maesters, those who hadn't been executed under the Kings' justice, had once more sworn allegiance to the crown and to the two Kings'…publically, in front of a watching crowd of thousands.
He and Rhaegar had made a loving speech, about acceptance and care, how they held the learned men of the Citadel in high esteem and about how the illegal Faith Militant had been put down so that they couldn't harm anyone ever again, of which the smallfolk had cheered loudly. He and Rhaegar had taken it in turns to speak, never cutting across the other, but just gliding easily between one another, as they had always done. They both reassured the smallfolk in their speech that they and their family were dedicated to protecting them and their way of life and that anything that threated one, was a threat to the other. They'd gotten more cheers for that. They had called a tourney to be held at Kings Landing to celebrate the ending of the Citadel rebellion and as a mark of the rebuild of the new order of learning of the realm. That had gotten them the biggest cheer, but then they had known that it would. The smallfolk were simple people with simple lives, as long as they could eat and be entertained, they were happy.
For once in their lives Rhaegar did not participate in the tourney, and Harry finally got to sit beside his husband as they both watched as spectators, their hearts in their throats as Rhaegon and Aerin came upon one another in the final tilt of the jousting. Aerin won and Harry nudged Rhaegar and nodded to a very pretty boy with a shock of pale blond hair and big blue eyes cheering his heart out against the railings that fenced off the jousting lines…Aerin's beloved Noha.
Rhaegon was thankfully unhurt as he congratulated his brother graciously, laughing happily as if he were the victor, showing true sportsmanship and the gallantry of his high birth. He walked over to them, but it was to his wife and young daughters whom he was heading to see, as he swept both girls up, in an arm each, before kissing his wife and then the tiny babe wrapped in a shawl in her arms.
Aerin had been celebrating with Aenys, but he kept sending rather noticeable looks over to Noha. It was clear where he would much rather be, or rather who he would much rather be celebrating with.
Their Aelyx had recovered very well after her imprisonment in Oldtown and she had laid her eggs in Kings Landing, where it was quieter after Baelon had taken nearly all of the other dragons back to Summerhall with him. She had only laid two eggs and she had incubated them perfectly, both had hatched and had been named Daegal and Maerion.
Saera's two eggs had also hatched, being named Arlys and Starspear…the latter had been named by a very excited, visiting Garyn, who had been enchanted with the silver and white egg and had claimed that the equally silver and white dragon was his. Starspear would not respond to any other name, so like as not, they had a Starspear who had bonded strongly to Garyn, much to his parents' dismay as their son was rather young for the responsibilities of his own dragon, but Harry was sure that Helaena would help him.
Pyrexian's three eggs had hatched at near the same time as Saera's, the both of them having been impregnated at the same time by Rhaelys, and Rhaegon and Baelon had both claimed their own personal dragons. Rhaegon had named his blue and purple dragon Tessarax. Baelon had named his black and blue dragon Vermithal. The third and final dragon hatchling had been named Syrys.
He and Rhaegar were teaching the hatchlings and training them, as they had done with all their born dragons, but they had surprisingly little to teach them, as their sons barely left the hatchlings alone and the adult dragons were so watchful of the cat sized hatchlings and were teaching them themselves, whether it was where to find their water, or how to unleash their fire to cook meat that was brought back to the den for them.
Balerion, Aelyx and their two hatchlings had been moved safely to Summerhall once they were large enough and it was safe enough. He and Rhaegar had held a hatchling each and it had been a tense flight to the Targaryen palace, but they had all made it safely and the seven hatchlings were growing up together, all of them interacting happily.
It was a time of peace in the Seven Kingdoms, how long this one would last, they couldn't even guess, none of them wanted to, and as things were heading, it seemed that the next rebellion would come over their, now four-and-ten year old daughter, Naerys, who was now known to be flowered, but was strongly refusing to take a husband or a betrothal. She was still polite and gentle and she would dance generously with anyone who asked her to do so, but if any of those men had hoped to talk her around or to sway her into marriage, they were all left sorely disappointed. She was not interested and until she did meet a man whom she liked enough, if she ever did, she was very happy to be free and unattached to anyone.
Their Valarr was also much happier as he was now an acolyte of the new Citadel, and their unofficial spy on the Maesters. Harry had made him promise not to give up his name and family, to swear to no oaths until he had been at the Citadel for some years. Valarr had done as such, so they had all come to a happier compromise. Though Lord Blackwood was regretting his rather fervent rejection of Valarr now that the only interest that his Bethany was getting were from the Freys, who were also still trying to wrangle a marriage with Aerin or Naerys, both of which were rejected every few turns when the raven inevitably arrived with the proposition.
Aenar's bindings had come off and his arm showed no sign of his bad break and now nine years old, he and his twin Aeron were getting into all sorts of mischief and mishaps, as they sparred almost every day with the Kingsguard, went swimming in Blackwater Bay and on hawking trips to Highgarden when they visited their much older sister and their nephew, who was only two years younger than them.
Viserys and Arianne had had their first pregnancy…twin babes, a girl and a boy. Harry had flown to Dragonstone to deliver the babes personally after Arianne had started having problems with a long and difficult labour and Viserys had sent him a swift raven for help. He had delivered first Visenya and then Olyvar. The babes had both been born healthy and their two parents' were very happy.
Truly all of them were now happy. There wasn't much to be unhappy or displeased with. Their family was still growing, spreading and thriving. Their dragons were breeding with one another and producing new babes and they were all trained very well. The realm was quiet and peaceful, oh they still had their fair share of smallfolk grievances and all sorts of disputes to manage and quell, but such things were commonplace for a King…or rather two of them. It was usually rather easy to put to rest and they would then be able to carry on with their day.
They were slowing down a little more now as they got older, they were feeling the effects more and more of their activity and their rather busy lives. They had started going to bed earlier, getting up a little later than usual, but they still had several years left in them yet, before they would officially retire from public duties and hand the crown over to their Rhaegon, so that he could take over for them as they did nothing but relax and enjoy one another's company. Not that they didn't already, but they didn't usually have more than a few hours together a day and when all they wanted was to sit down and relax, it was grating on them both a little more than usual. One of them was always wearing the crown, answering grievances, taking the head of the small council, then there was Naerys and Aenar and Aeron to look after, the dragons in the Dragonpit to see to, and that was if they didn't get a raven from one of their babes out in the wide world asking for advice, assistance or a visit and on top of that they were also planning Maella's wedding to Lewys Lydden. They had known that it was coming, but at seven-and-ten, Maella was done waiting and she wished to be married, so there was even more work to be piled on top of everything else that they had to do.
It was not all bad, however. They did still get to sleep in one another's arms at night, it was just a shame that that was all they did…sleep. The both of them were always too tired or too sore to do anything more, but the both of them had finally had enough. They were not young, fit boys any longer, they were getting to be old, stressed men. They had passed more work onto Rhaegon and their small council, preparing for the changeover in power. Once Rhaegon had proven to them all that he could fully handle the responsibility, then they would know that he was ready and they could finally have the unending peace that they deserved…or as much peace as they ever bloody got within their rather large family at least. Harry had been the King since he was nine-and-ten, Rhaegar since he was four-and-twenty, it had been twenty-three years since then, it was time for them to rest a little more.
Harry sighed as another long, arduous day ended and he finally got to climb into his bed, crawling over Rhaegar, who grunted and shoved him over, rolling onto his side and trying to get to sleep.
"Love you." Harry grunted tiredly as he slipped under the sheets.
"Love you too. Come here."
Rhaegar rolled over onto his back once more and threw an arm out, Harry rolled into the crook of Rhaegar's arm and planted his face in his husband's chest. The arm wrapped around him and held him tightly.
"Maybe Rhaegon can have the crown by the end of this year?" Harry pressed.
Rhaegar snorted softly, his indigo eyes still closed. "I'd give it to him tomorrow morning if I didn't think it was too abrupt a change."
"The year three hundred and eight after Aegon's Conquering." Harry said before he yawned widely and loudly. "It seems the perfect year for a change in monarchy."
"If we can survive that long." Rhaegar said, rather dramatically in Harry's opinion.
"We can, for one another. We need to give the realm the chance to adjust to the change and give everyone plenty of time to get used to the idea of us stepping down and Rhaegon stepping up. This will give them almost a year, ten full turns, to prepare for things and get used to it."
Rhaegar hummed. "I like the idea. We will tell them…them in the morning." He said around his own yawn. "Until then, by all the gods, just go to sleep and stop speaking."
Harry chuckled. "Alright, you win, but only because I am as exhausted as you are, I wore the crown all day today. My neck has shrunk into my shoulders."
Rhaegar hummed again, his normal response when he was on the edge of drifting into sleep. "I love you, Harry."
Harry smiled against Rhaegar's chest, nuzzling his face into the soft sleeping tunic that Rhaegar was wearing. "I love you too, forever and always, my brother, my husband."
A/N: I am so sorry that this has taken me almost a year to write and get out for you, lovelies, but truly, I had not expected that this epilogue would be our longest chapter for this fic, not with two 50,000 word chapters already written. I had originally wanted just a few thousand words, perhaps 5,000 at most, just to sum everything up and to neatly end the fic, but when I got to actually writing it, well, as you can see it clearly had ideas of its own and it is by far the longest chapter for this fic, and indeed the longest chapter I have ever written for anything before.
I hope that you have all enjoyed this last chapter, regardless of how long it has taken me to finish it, and I hope that you liked the additional bit of drama, as many of you wanted to see the Maesters get their comeuppance after they had been the ones to stunt and destroy the ancestral dragons of the Targaryens a hundred and fifty years previous, and then the final ending, and of course the dragons and the children too. I am so glad to finally have this epilogue chapter finished at last.
It's going to be sad to say goodbye to Harry and to Rhaegar after all of this time, but I'm sure I will think of more fics to pair them up in, though I have several others to do first, including a Drogo/Harry, because truly, how can anyone ignore the stunning Drogo/Jason Momoa as a potential pairing? So that is currently in he works.
Anyway, I hope that you have all enjoyed the epilogue to this fic, lovelies and I can finally put this one to rest at last. I am so happy and so excited to know all of your thoughts, but I'm also nervous too! I hope I haven't missed anything out or forgotten anything!
For easier viewing, here is the remaining part of the family tree with the addition of the grandchildren/granddragons to go with the one at the top.
Garyn Tyrell – Helaena/Willas - Highgarden
Shaea Targaryen and Rhaenys Targaryen – Rhaegon/Janei – Kings Landing
Daenya Allyrion – Haeraenya/Dyon - Godsgrace
Aeloras Dayne – Aelinor/Edric - Starfall
Aelin Rykker – Aelora/Ren - Duskendale
Gwynys Targaryen – Aenys/Gwyneth – N/A (Kings Landing)
Aedus Targaryen – Baelon/Joy - Summerhall
Jaerys Whent – Daenerys/Oslyn - Harrenhal
Visenya Targaryen and Olyvar Targaryen – Viserys/Arianne - Dragonstone
Arlys and Starspear – Saera/Rhaelys
Tessarax, Vermithal and Syrys – Pyrexian/Rhaelys
Daegal and Maerion – Aelyx/Balerion.
So this wraps up everything in a nice bow now, I believe. Thank you so much for sticking with me throughout this fic, despite how long it has taken me, and I hope that you have enjoyed this final instalment, lovelies.
StarLight Massacre. X