Castle Pendragon looked more like a fort than a castle.
The Red Keep was a castle. Highgarden and Winterfell were castles. Even Castle Black was a castle, given its strategic importance in the North, even after the Others had been defeated. But Castle Pendragon was...small. Larger than Castle Black in size, granted, but still, all those other castles had a certain radiance to them. An importance that was cast out over the land. Castle Pendragon looked like it was hiding, somehow. That out here, in the desolate moors of the North, it was a place that would escape notice. And over the years, it had, as the Seven Kingdoms tore each other apart. And now, with her rule having been solidified, with the Seven Kingdoms united under the banner of House Targaryen, with peace having been restored, House Pendragon was apparently intent on tearing itself apart.
She'd been tempted to let it. She had little love for the noble houses, and one less might make her job easier. And, accompanied by a retinue of Queensguard, riding a horse clad in armour as magnificent as her own, she couldn't help but frown at the sight of the Pendragon banner – a black dragon on a red background. No different from the Blackfyre Pretenders in days long gone, only with one head missing. The inverse of her own that was carried by her retinue, of a three-headed red dragon against a black background. How long, she wondered, would it take to ride Drogon up here, burn the place to the ground, and be back at King's Landing in time to break bread and wine? Far shorter than it would to arrive here on horse, granted, but…
But nothing, she thought, as a call of "open the gates" rang out from the castle guard. Burning Castle Pendragon to the ground would be easy. That wouldn't have made it right. Ten years of ruling the Seven Kingdoms had taught her that what was easy was rarely what was right. The Usurper had thought ruling would have been easy. The Lannister bastards had barely even tried to rule competently, and the less said about the Mad Queen the better. But, she thought, as she watched the lady of Castle Pendragon walk out to greet her, maybe there was merit in Queen Cersei's madness. Even as the queen's brother operated as Warden of the West, and her distant cousin ruled from Winterfell. Maybe the Lannisters could teach her a thing or two. Because watching Morgan Pendragon come out to greet her, watching as she knelt until she said "rise," she was reminded of Cersei Lannister quite a bit. The look in her eyes she'd seen before the Queenslayer had rammed a sword through her gut.
"Queen Daenerys," said Morgan. "I'm so glad you could come."
"I go where the realm needs me," she said, dismounting. Morgan cast a look over her horse. "No dragon?"
"I ride one of my dragons when the need demands it," Dany said.
If Morgan took slight, she didn't show it. Dany hoped she got the hint though – she didn't want to come here. There were greater injustices in the world than that of a house that was tearing itself apart. But, she had intended to ride north anyway, and Castle Pendragon wasn't too far out of the way. So she followed Lady Morgan into the keep, to music, dancers, food, and revelry.
Dany let it play out for a time – she was tired of it within fifteen minutes, and took some solace that Morgan had appeared tired of it in ten. But the game had to be played, even if there was no question as to who had actually won it. The only question was-
"So, tell me Dany-"
She glared at Morgan, even as the festivities continued. Very few people had called her "Dany" in her life. Fewer of them, to her sorrow, were still alive.
"My queen," Morgan corrected, in a way that made it clear that she was barely interested in such formalities. "Have you considered my claim for lordship of House Pendragon?"
"I have," Dany said.
"And I understand that you have a very interesting relationship with your brother."
"Half-brother," Morgan said, with barely concealed contempt. Enough to cause Dany to smile faintly.
"Yes, half-brother," she corrected herself. "A man who rules from Castle Camelot, who also flies the Pendragon banner. A man who's also been in touch, and claims to have been subjected to more than one assassination attempt from you."
"He's a pretender," Morgan said. "I'm Lord Uther's rightful heir. His first child, and not born from the womb of a whore." She smiled at the queen. "I understand that you have some experience in matters of reclaiming what's yours."
Dany didn't smile. Morgan reminded her of Viserys, or in a way, Arthur did. She hadn't killed her brother, but she had let him die. In a way, she was just as culpable as her long-dead husband. Over ten years later after his death, it still haunted her. More, even, as she could learn to forgive her brother's sins. And now…
Now, paradoxically, Morgan ruled from Castle Pendragon, while by most rights, it was Arthur who held the greater claim. More people followed him, he'd been anointed in the eyes of the Seven, and it was Arthur who did what he could to protect this region of the North. Morgan was closer to Uther in blood, but that was all.
"Tell me," Dany said. "Why do you want the Pendragon title?"
"Yes, why," she repeated. "Why you? Why should I help you?"
Morgan fluttered her eyelids. "Isn't a queen obliged to serve her subjects?"
"As long as those subjects serve the queen in turn," Dany said. "There are many in the Seven Kingdoms I can count on, and most of them fought at my side against the Others. House Pendragon was nowhere to be seen, still caught up in fighting a war amongst itself."
"Arthur has most of my men that are rightfully mine," Morgan said.
"So you say. But you haven't said why you want the seat."
"Because it's my birthright," she said.
Dany sighed. Birthright. Of course. She knew that attitude – it was the same attitude that had driven her onward all along Slaver's Bay, to cross the Narrow Sea, to storm King's Landing and topple the Mad Queen. In many ways, Morgan reminded her of herself. More than once, she'd asked herself what would have happened if her rule had been challenged by those not of the living, that she had to play her part in the song of ice and fire. What then, she wondered? Would she be here talking with Morgan Pendragon, listening to claims of birthright and little else? Or would she have burnt House Pendragon to the ground and be done with it?
"Very well," Dany said. "I'll hear your claim at Winterfell in two weeks."
"Hear my claim? But-"
"This?" Dany smirked. "This is just a simple feast, is it not? A way for a queen to get to know her subjects." She took a sip of wine. "Besides, I'm not used to the cold of the North. Essos, King's Landing…they're far more within my temperament." She sat down the class and a servant refilled it. "I'll hear your claim, Morgan, along with other important matters."
Morgan bowed. "Of course."
Morgan wasn't stupid, Dany knew. She no doubt expected her to visit Camelot as well and here Arthur's side of the story. She likely knew that she could count on no military support, and that the fate of House Pendragon would be decided via hearing, among numerous other matters that required the queen's attention. She was no doubt running scenarios in her mind as to how best improve her chances.
But Dany let her. Because she wasn't stupid. Because she knew that she could burn this so called castle to the ground and let the ashes scatter to the four winds. Loved and feared, she reflected. She was a ruler who would play with both sides of the coin.
And, she reflected, enjoy some wine while she was at it.
So I watched Camelot recently. Pretty good, shame the show never got more than one season. But while watching it, I couldn't help but be reminded of Game of Thrones in some ways. Not only does Morgan have the same drive to get the throne as Dany does, but it's under a dragon-themed banner as well. Plus, they have bad relationships with their brothers, both have, um, gratuitous shots, and...well, yeah. Hardly calling Camelot a rip-off, since sex sells and the Arthurian legend predates both stories, but anyway, drabbles this up.