"Why do you call him Sirius?" Rhaegar questioned, looking between Taliya and Serion. Ser Arthur stood behind him, keeping watch. The children that Taliya had brought with her were exploring the ruins. Taliya had let them run free throughout the ruined stone and the young girl had looked upon Taliya adoringly. "How do you know him? Are you betrothed to him?"
Taliya shook her head, her lips twitching up into a bemused grin. "Rhaegar, I am not betrothed to anyone. He is only an old friend, one who knew me before I was even born here."
Rhaegar blinked as he sat down upon the log that he usually lay on. The sun shined down on them as they talked and they were unbothered by the small chill in the air. Taliya sat down opposite him, looking at him evenly.
"Before you were born here?"
"The gods brought me here," Taliya started, brushing a few strands of golden hair away from her face. Rhaegar wondered what her hair would feel like under his fingers and cursed his father yet again. "My mother knows this. As I told Archmaester Marwyn, magic and I are old friends."
"Magic? You mean the magic that we lost when the dragons died?" Rhaegar questioned faintly, looking between Taliya and Serion. They were sitting close together, almost like lovers and it made Rhaegar's heart skip a beat. What if Taliya had fallen in love with Serion Baratheon while they had been apart? "You talked with one of the archmaesters about this?"
Taliya dipped her head in a small nod, glancing to Serion briefly before shrugging. "It's not quite dragon magic. Nothing that you would know of. Here…"
Rhaegar watched as she held out her left palm, whispered one or two words under her breath and a glowing, blue lion leapt from her hand. The big lioness stood in the middle of their camp, in the center of the old ruins and let out a loud roar. "What…"
The lioness stalked forward, its' glowing eyes looking straight at him. Rhaegar was not frightened though. If anything, he felt warm and safe with it around.
"It's a patronus," Serion explained, sighing a little. "Taliya… That will take some getting used to. I cannot use magic anymore."
"What? You… You don't have your magic," Taliya said, her eyes narrowing and at Rhaegar's questioning look, she explained further. "This spell is to keep away dark creatures. I… In the life I held before I was reborn here, I had more than a few run-ins with dementors. And Serion… He was my father's best friend. We weren't together or anything like that."
"Reborn." Rhaegar looked at her in confusion, raising an eyebrow.
"This is not my first life," Taliya said, looking at Serion with confusion in her green eyes. She made a motion with her fingers and the blue lioness vanished. "I died. Then I was born to my mother and father here, Lady Joanna and Lord Tywin. I think the gods brought me here, mayhaps to find you, Serion. And… I suspect to meet you, Rhaegar."
"Why me? What are dementors? You said…" Rhaegar trailed off. "Did you see the gods?"
Taliya's lips twitched up into a small, wary grin. "Dementors… Thank the seven there are no such things here. They were black cloaked creatures who flew through the skies in my first world and they would suck your soul out if they could. They would erase any hint of happiness while they were around someone."
Rhaegar shivered at the thought. "So you two weren't… Lord and Lady?"
"No. Definitely not. He was older than me," Taliya said. "Sirius, you really can't use magic?"
Serion shook his head. "I cannot. I've become good with a sword and was knighted a few years ago but that is the extent of my weapons. I saw you're fostering a girl that has a dog that looks..."
"Like Padfoot, yeah," Taliya finished, turning to focus on Rhaegar. "Huh. Summerhall. You were born here."
"Yes, I was," Rhaegar remarked, standing up and taking in Arthur's interested look. "I come here sometimes."
He looked around the ruins, hearing Taliya's footsteps and seeing her come up to stand beside him. "My great-grandfather died here, along with his notions on House Targaryen."
"King Aegon the Fifth. He wed Betha Blackwood, if I recall correctly," Taliya spoke quietly.
Rhaegar nodded. "He thought that the practice of wedding brother to sister had to stop. He died here and so did Prince Duncan and the Lord Commander."
He watched as Taliya took another step or two to reach out, her palm landing on the soot soaked stone in front of them. "If only stones could talk… I am well used to ruins, your Grace."
"Please, call me Rhaegar."
Taliya looked at him then nodded. "Of course. In my… first world… I was the Girl-Who-Lived. Everyone knew who I was. I took to avoiding going out sometimes after the war."
"How did you come by the title, my lady?" Rhaegar asked, holding out his arm. He half thought that Taliya wouldn't take it but if she did… That might possibly mean that she liked him. She studied him for a second or two than took his arm and his heart did a flip in his chest.
"In that world, there were people who could do magic like me. They were called wizards and witches," Taliya explained, as Rhaegar led her through the ruins. They could hear the shouts and excited yells of the two children, more from the girl than the boy, running through another part of the ruins and Rhaegar saw her smile. "There are so many more things I can do other than cast a patronus. I can heal, attack, defend, cast wards… I can even shift shape. There were hexes, curses and charms. One of those curses, dark magic, if you will, was a killing curse. It killed the person it was cast at and there were no exceptions."
Rhaegar inhaled sharply, pondering where her story was going. "You were the exception, weren't you?"
Taliya nodded, her eyes going to the horizon or perhaps her mind was elsewhere. "Yes. I survived a killing curse."
Sirius watched as his goddaughter and their new friend, the crown prince, wound their way back through the ruins of Summerhall. The two had been gone for a few hours and he assumed that it was due to Taliya telling Rhaegar her story. He could see Ser Arthur walk a ways behind Prince Rhaegar, the sword Dawn, at Ser Arthur's side. He shielded his eyes from the midday sun and smiled to himself.
He couldn't believe it! Hariel Potter… now Taliya Lannister. The lady who had unhorsed Rhaegar. Sirius grinned, wished that he had seen her in action. He wasn't alone in this world, in Westeros. In this strange world where seasons lasted for several years and magic was gone.
As Taliya and Rhaegar walked back through the ruins, so too did the children that Taliya had brought with her. It seemed that Taliya was still taking in strays and Sirius wondered if her father, Tywin, approved. Though she had said that the girl and boy were fostering with the Lannisters. Perhaps they were some children of a Lannister bannerman.
The girl and boy were running towards their camp and carrying… Sirius narrowed his eyes at the sight. The things that the children were holding looked like… balls. Or eggs? His heart jolted in his chest at the realization of what the two children had found.
Sirius turned to look at his goddaughter, watched as she ran up to them and knelt right before the children. Prince Rhaegar had followed her and he too was looking at Taliya with an awed expression, his purple eyes wide.
"She is quite something, isn't she?" Sirius idly said, watching as Taliya froze.
Rhaegar dipped his head in an nod, brushing some of his silver hair from his face.
"Don't hurt her," Sirius whispered, crossing his arms and dropping one to the blade at his hip.
"Sirius, don't you dare give him the shovel talk," Taliya croaked out, turning around with the dragon egg in her arms. "Rhaegar, look what the children found."
"Is that…" Rhaegar trailed off, hastening over to Taliya's side.
"Cynthea, where did you find these?" Taliya asked, looking between Sandor and Cynthea. Rhaegar was looking at the two eggs wonderingly, tracing over the black egg and the red egg with his fingers. Her heart was beating fast at his closeness and she still had goose pimples from touching his arm. He was looking at her in awe, his purple eyes wide with adoration. "These…"
"Dragon eggs," Rhaegar said, his shoulders stilling. "I would have thought…"
"Over there," Sandor answered. "Cynthea found them. She talked me into carrying one of them."
Taliya looked over to where Cynthea and Sandor were pointing, over to the far side of the ruins.
"There's five more of them over there too," Cynthea said, grinning. "I knew you were going to be interested in them."
"Were they all in good condition?" Rhaegar asked faintly, his eyes widening more in disbelief.
"Come on. This way," Cynthea exclaimed, running off with Leo barking at her side.
"Lady Taliya. Why did she say she knew you would be interested?" Rhaegar said, looking at her as they followed the children. He still had the black egg cradled in his arms and Taliya was carrying the red one, peering down at it. The eggs looked to have turned to stone but she could feel warmth coming from the creatures inside. "Taliya?"
"I was going to hatch dragons," Taliya finally answered, her heart beating rapidly at the thought that she wasn't going to have to search very hard for eggs. "Magic should come back to Westeros. Also… my brother and I are very fascinated with them."
"Your brother? Jaime?"
"No. Tyrion. Jaime doesn't care about dragons or magic or history. And it should make your father more amenable to us marrying."
Rhaegar's lips twitched up into a small grin, stopping and looking at her. "You would be amenable to having me?"
Taliya took a step towards him, closing the distance between them. "You and I are most likely destined for great things. You have a prophecy. I had a prophecy. Besides, you're cute."
Rhaegar snorted, letting out a surprised laugh. "I had thought perhaps you were to be betrothed to Robert Baratheon."
"The things I have heard about him… I would not marry him if he was the last man in this world." Taliya wrinkled her nose at that.
Rhaegar smiled and reached out to cup her cheek, his eyes asking permission.
Taliya nodded and he leaned in, pressed his lips to hers.
Rhaegar groaned as Taliya melted into him, their mouths meeting each other halfway. He wrapped an arm around her waist, his other hand going to wind in her hair. Heat coiled in his body as they finally pulled apart, both of them breathing heavily. He could see Arthur behind them, grinning at them.
"The Silver Prince and the Lioness Rampant," Rhaegar finally spoke.
"Lady Taliya! Hurry up!"
Taliya let out a quiet laugh and pulled him with her, as they went to go see the other dragon eggs. "I should be able to produce enough of a flame to hatch them."
"How are you so confident that you can hatch them?"
"Your house motto. It's Fire and Blood, right?"
"Soon to be your house too," Rhaegar whispered, his heart settling at her look. Images of golden haired, purple eyed babes flashed through his mind.
"Yes, I suppose so. Anyway, fire and blood. I can do the fire. Blood. I don't know if it requires some blood or a life or…" Taliya trailed off as they reached the section of the ruins where Sandor and Cynthea had stopped. It looked to be a stone platform in the corner of what might have been the great hall of Summerhall. She stared at the five other eggs on the stone table and exchanged glances with Rhaegar.
"I had not seen this part of the ruins before," Rhaegar offered, going over to place the black egg next to them. Taliya walked over too, shooing Sandor and Cynthea away, before placing her own egg next to Rhaegar's. "Arthur, would you go get wood for a fire?"
"No need for that," Taliya said, turning to look at Rhaegar. "I can do it. Rhaegar, you'll need to smear some blood on the eggs. Not too much, mind you. The kingdom and I need you alive."
Rhaegar looked at her, raised an eyebrow.
"Hold on. Just a minute."
Taliya took a step back, whispered the animagus spell.
Rhaegar's eyes widened as Taliya shifted, seemed to change. Between one minute and the next, the young woman ended up on four paws, a beautiful black fox, except for the… four tails? Each of the three tails were tipped with almost ice white color.
The fox yipped, her tails fluttering about in the slight breeze. Taliya's green eyes shone through and Rhaegar grinned, his mouth opening and closing in amazement. "What are you?"
Rhaegar turned to see Serion… or was it Sirius… standing next to Arthur.
"That is not her usual color," Sirius remarked thoughtfully, peering down at the fox in front of them. "But that is her shape. She's a kitsune, a magical fox. Known for being mischievous and for possessing magical power."
"What color fur did she have… in your first world?" Rhaegar questioned, watching as Taliya as a fox trotted over the stone to his side. He knelt down to her level and held out his hand for her to sniff. The fox looked up at him then licked his hand and he let out a surprised laugh.
"Her coat was auburn, fire red," Sirius replied, grinning in amusement. "Taliya, you have ice in your tails."
The fox in front of Rhaegar yipped quietly, quickly turning around to look at her tails. "You're right. Taliya, there is ice in your tails. Little icicles only though."
"May I?" Rhaegar asked quietly, reaching out a hand. "My lady."
Taliya let out a quiet huff of noise, one that sounded almost like a laugh, but nodded, her ears flicking back and forth. Rhaegar stroked a hand through her fur and touched some of the ice at the tip of her tails. "Is this common?"
Sirius walked over to them, knelt down next to Rhaegar. "Not quite. Taliya, could you shift back?"
Rhaegar watched as Taliya shifted back, landing on two legs in front of them. He stood up fully, along with Sirius, and looked to where Sandor and Cynthea were. "You thought you could produce fire by shifting shape."
"I could," Taliya remarked, her eyes narrowed in confusion. "If you found ice in my tails…"
"She was a fire kitsune back in our world, in our time," Sirius explained at Rhaegar's look. "Now… I think you're an ice kitsune."
"Ice kitsune. Hmm," Taliya muttered, looking to Rhaegar. She pulled her loose golden hair back and began to braid it. "Oh well. We'll just have to hatch the dragons the old fashioned way. Over a fire."
"Do you remember anything, Sirius?" Taliya asked, watching as Arthur fixed up the fire and began to store the boar meat in a pack. She flinched at the blood and the meat before turning to look at her godfather, who was sitting next to her. The sun had gone down two hours ago and she had set up a tent for Cynthea and Sandor.
The kids were worn out by their traveling and exploring of the ruins, though it was more Cynthea that had explored. Sandor had just gone along to keep an eye on his sister.
Rhaegar was sitting across from her and every time she looked up, he was watching her. She had made a place for him next to her but he was a prince, the crown prince, and a gentleman. Their kiss this afternoon was something that Taliya would always remember and assuming they were married, it would not be the first one.
"You mean between the veil and here?" Sirius said, shaking his head. "No, I don't. I just remember growing up here. Nothing in between."
"I wonder why I have my magic and you don't," Taliya remarked, peering down at the seven eggs that they had evenly placed around the fire pit.
"I had thought about it."
"Oh! Remus would be proud of you for that," Taliya teased.
Sirius rolled his eyes. "I miss him. But I did wonder if it was the veil. Maybe it stole my magic and then… I don't know. Sent me here."
"Are you betrothed to anyone?"
"No. I don't think Steffon has any plans for me," Sirius said, looking to where Arthur and Rhaegar were talking. "I hear your brother and my nephew are in the Vale though."
"I'm sorry about your nephew," Taliya said, wrinkling her nose.
Sirius sighed. "Robert. It's strange having a nephew. I actually do prefer Stannis and Renly."
"Hey…" Taliya started, looking at Sirius before glancing to Ser Arthur. "Ser Arthur?"
"Yes, my lady?"
"Is there a list of potential knights for the kingsguard?" Taliya questioned, raising an eyebrow. "I mean… for the next time a spot's open?"
Arthur's eyes narrowed before he nodded. "There is something like that of which you speak. Did you have someone in mind?"
"Him." Taliya gestured to Sirius. "He's good with a blade. You are good with a blade, right?"
Arthur walked over and sat down across from them. "Sirius Baratheon?"
"Sirion. I squired for Lord Mathis Rowan," Sirius answered. "He knighted me three years ago."
Arthur seemed to study him while Taliya looked to Rhaegar.
"I think it's time," Rhaegar said, drawing a dagger from his belt and cutting a slice in his palm.
Taliya grimaced but walked over to him, drawing over a stick to poke at the fire. She whispered a spell under her breath, one to heat up the fire, make it warmer. The stars shone down on them, lighting up their camp. Cynthea and Sandor were asleep and it was just her, Sirius, Rhaegar and Arthur.
"You could have found a better place to cut," Taliya muttered, watching as Rhaegar smeared his blood across the seven eggs. "Alright. Here we go."
Rhaegar watched as Taliya murmured words under her breath and with her words, the fire moved. It hissed and crackled as it moved, flowing like water onto the eggs. The sparks of flame seemed to move through the eggs, almost consuming them. The sounds around them in the ruins of Summerhall stopped but the dead trees that were still standing swayed in the non existent wind.
The loud crack emanated through the ruins and Taliya's voice quieted down and so did the fire. Rhaegar watched the flames, watched the hypnotic red flames and reached out, dipping his fingers into the fire.
Hands moved into his vision and he blinked, seeing Taliya grasp his hands. He was on the ground, having dropped down from the log. "I'm okay."
"You're not burned," Taliya murmured, her voice quiet and amazed. "Must be a Targaryen thing."
"Did we succeed?" Rhaegar questioned, looking at her before peering at the dampened fire. The flames were just sparking, dying as they watched and he had to do a double take as he saw movement within the dying embers.
Taliya dropped down to sit next to him, her eyes wide. They were both staring at seven dragons, seven newly hatched dragons.
"We did it," Taliya whispered, as they watched the seven dragons toddle over to them. The red dragon went for Taliya while the black baby dragon walked over to Rhaegar on its' wing-claws. "Right where King Aegon tried and failed."
"And killed several people," Rhaegar added. "Everyone's okay, right?"
"We're okay," Arthur said faintly. "I didn't expect…"
"I didn't expect to walk away from here with dragons," Rhaegar said, looking to Taliya. "Thank you."
The red dragon toddled over onto her legs, peering up at her and chirped.
"We'll need to find names for them," Rhaegar spoke. "This one…"
The black baby dragon had red abysses for eyes and was slightly bigger than the others.
"Looks like Balerion reborn," Rhaegar finished.
Taliya nodded, remembering the image of Balerion that she had found in one of Maester Creylen's books. "Leona, for this red one. The name means lioness."
"That is a good name," Rhaegar commented quietly, watching as Taliya's hand reached out to his, entwining their fingers.
The newly named Leona chirped quietly, nestling against her legs. Taliya reached out a hand to stroke the dragon's wings, feeling the warmth that radiated from the creature.
"Leona and Balerion. What of the other five?" Rhaegar asked, looking between the other baby dragons. They had all crowded around the fire, seemingly like cats seeking warmth. But Rhaegar knew that the dragons didn't need extra warmth. Mayhaps it was like calling to like. Dragons were fire made flesh and they had returned.
Balerion let out a puff of smoke and ambled over to curl up next to Leona, the two small creatures mirroring Rhaegar and Taliya, who had ended up sitting next to Rhaegar.
"Magic has come back," Taliya whispered, leaning against him and dropping her head on his shoulder. "Dragons are back and so is magic."