Author's Note: Basically, this is an AU where Daenerys is born 20 years earlier and marries Rhaegar. She has two children, twins, and then gives birth to a sickly Visenya thanks to a ritual that a witch preformed, which is explained in this chapter. The prologue is set before Robert's Rebellion and focuses on the birth of Daenerys' dragons. There will then be a time jump and the fanfic will be set just before the rebellion. Hope you enjoy!
some say the world will end in fire,
some say in ice.
from what i've tasted of desire
i hold with those who favour fire.
the mother of dragons
The Last Month of 278AC
Daenerys Targaryen sprinted through the halls of the Red Keep, clutching her blood-stained skirt in her hand. Anger pulsed through the young princess' veins and boiled in her blood as tears of grief, of rage, fell down her cheeks. How could she be so stupid? She entrusted the fate of her child into the hands of a witch and her little Visenya had paid the price for it.
"WITCH!" Daenerys screamed as she stormed into Merentei's room where the Red Priestess was meditating before her fireplace.
Blinded with rage, Dany grabbed the priestess by the hair and threw her against the wall. She then grabbed a fire poker and pointed it towards the witch's neck, digging it in deep enough to draw blood. The witch was shaking with fear. Dany felt a sick satisfaction come over her. Merentei wasn't quite as brave when it was her life being threatened.
It was this very room where the ritual took place, the ritual that doomed two royal babies. Merentei had stabbed a thief in the gut with a knife of Valyrian steel and then painted an 'X' on Daenerys' pregnant stomach with his blood. Dany had thought the witch was blessing her child with strength and good fortune. That's what both her own father and the Red Priestess promised. But the ritual caused Dany to give birth early to a weak, sickly child who died after only four months of life.
"You killed my child!" Daenerys roared. "You did this to me! You lied to me!"
"I never lied," the witch retorted in accented Common Tongue. She smirked up at Dany once she felt the tip of the poker being taken away from her neck.
"You told me – you promised me – that the blood sacrifice would make her stronger! You told me that my child would be the third head of the dragon and needed the strength of R'hllor. You lied!"
The priestess chortled at her, but there was no amusement in her voice, only contempt. "No, silly girl. Your father promised you so. I made no such promises."
"Liar! You told me that my daughter would be Azor Ahai come again," Dany snarled, lifting the poker up to the priestess' neck.
"You are mistake once again, Daenerys Stormborn. I told you that your daughter will bring about the coming of our saviour, Azor Ahai. The Prince That Was Promised," the priestess corrected, still grinning. "I told you that Azor Ahai would come again within the year and rise fire. I remember everything, Daenerys."
Daenerys stepped away from her, fighting back tears. She wasn't sure if they were tears of grief or anger, but Dany refused to let the witch see her cry. "How can she possibly do that now? She's dead! My daughter is dead!"
Merentei's smirk only became more sinister, widening into a large grin. What she revealed next only served to disturb Dany further. "You'll find that your daughter will serve a better purpose dead than alive."
Mouth agape, Dany stared at the witch, horrified. Her arm went limp by her side. She faintly heard the fire poker fall to the ground, its metal clashing with the cold floor. Merentei glanced between Dany and the fire poker. Deciding that this was her only hope of escaping the Red Keep alive, Merentei ran out of her room. Daenerys realised that the witch was gone too late. The young princess ran after her, skirt hiked above her shin.
"Seize her! Ser Barristan, restrain the witch!"
"My lady?" Ser Barristan asked, confusion evident in his tone. Despite his confusion, the old knight drew steel against the Red Witch, backing her against a wall, before he turned the witch around and grabbed her wrists.
Daenerys rushed towards Ser Barristan. The knight regarded her with worried eyes, seeing the blood on her dress, but Daenerys paid him no mind. Her eyes were set on the witch who had taken her child from her. Merentei of Lys would know her pain, Dany decided, and then some.
"Princess, what has happened?" Ser Barristan's worried voice tore Daenerys from her murderous thoughts. Her violet eyes snapped towards him, surprised that he was still there, even though she knew her surprise was not logical.
"The king's witch murdered my daughter and brother," Daenerys growled. The knight winced at the unfamiliar harshness the princess was displaying. Even Dany had surprised herself. "He will no doubt want her dead as well, once he puts the pieces together."
"Princess, I don't understand..."
"This witch tricked me into sacrificing my child, as she did the king before my brother was even conceived," Daenerys explained, eerily calm as she stared at the snarling witch.
Visions flashed before her eyes. Visions she had seen before, mostly in the form of dreams. The two dead children and the betrayer at a funeral pyre, their bodies surrounded by the dragon eggs Lord Varys had gifted to her at her wedding to Rhaegar. Merentei was the betrayer, and her blood would fuel the fire that gave birth to dragons.
"I see it now. What you meant," Dany told the witch, a small smile on her lips. Hope radiated from the witch's face, but it was fleeting. "Take her to the black cells."
"Very well, princess."
"NO! You need me! Daenerys, do not do this! You need me!"
Dany smirked. "I think you will serve me better dead than alive."
"You fool," was the first thing Rhaegar said to his grieving wife after they lost their child. Thankfully Daenerys was no longer the sensitive sort. She did not respond to him, which resulted in Rhaegar continuing with his insults. "You should have known better than to trust a witch."
"You seemed fine with her when she first came to court," Daenerys retorted, just as heatedly. "When she was all flattery and compliments. You did not see her as a threat then either!"
"No. But then again I did not allow her to paint my pregnant stomach with the blood of a criminal!"
Daenerys pressed her lips together firmly. She had no answer to that. Feeling tears well in her eyes, Dany turned away from Rhaegar and faced the mirror of her dressing table. Behind her, she heard Rhaegar sigh and sit down on their bed. That was more like him. Rhaegar had never been hot-tempered. He was gloomy and brooding and selfish, but never cruel with words.
"You are forgiven," Daenerys replied immediately, blinking away the tears in her eyes.
Rhaegar sighed again. "Father wishes to burn her tomorrow night in the throne room. A public affair, of course."
"I wish to burn the children with her."
"Dany..." Rhaegar trailed off, uncertain, giving her a warning look.
"It must be done," Daenerys stated, with all the authority of the true crown princess she had turned into over night. "It must be done. With fire and blood."
She saw her brother's expression through the mirror. A familiar look crossed his face, one that she had seen many times before during his discussions with Father. It was more than just fear, it was fear in it's most powerful form, mingled with disgust and horror. Daenerys hated that it was directed at her, caused by what she had just said. He will understand soon enough, she reassured herself. She would hate for Rhaegar to think her mad.
"You sound... like him," Rhaegar said slowly, horrified. It broke her heart to hear his voice break like that, to hear his voice mingled with pain and horror. To hear his accusations directed at her.
Dany rose from her vanity and moved to sit beside her brother. She placed a hand on his shoulder and another on his face, turning his face towards her so he could see the promise in her eyes. "I am not him, Rhaegar, and I will never become him. I swear it."
Rhaegar didn't nod or give some sort of sign that he was appeased as she had hoped he would. No. Her brother and husband simply regarded her with a sorrowful expression and whispered, "That's what all mad men say before madness overcomes them. Promises mean nothing when the darkness seeps in."
She had nothing to say to that. Was this madness? Dany did not know, so she closed her mouth and looked at the wall ahead of her, her mind drifting to a vision of a witch aflame and dragons rising from her ashes.
the silver prince
Disturbing as it was, Rhaegar remembered his little sister when she was just that, little and innocent and blind to all life's tribulations. He remembered the day their grandmother died, and Daenerys rushed to their mother's chambers as soon as she heard the news, to check if Queen Rhaella was alright. A child of three, Dany had been more concerned about her mother being sad than herself.
She didn't remain a child for long. Their father saw to that. At twelve, Aerys started to get too familiar with his daughter, touching her in ways no man, not even a king, should ever even think to touch their daughter. Rhaegar tried to protect her then, just as he tried to protect her now.
But how was he to protect her from herself? From her own madness?
Daenerys had somehow managed to convince their father to burn their children with the Red Witch of Lys and to change the site of the pyre to the Kingswood. Rhaegar couldn't imagine his sweet-tempered sister ever manipulating anyone, let alone their cruel father, but yet Dany had gotten her way.
His sister had placed her treasured dragon eggs beside and on Visenya's dead body. The pale cream egg was positioned beside their daughter's head, the black laid atop the left side of her tiny chest, and the deep green egg laid at Visenya's feet. Rhaegar knew what Dany was planning, and he did not like it.
Just as the pyre was lit by Ser Gerold Hightower, the Red Witch, shaking with fright, managed to snarl at Daenerys, "You will not hear me scream, child! For my lord stands beside me!"
"It is not your screams I want," he heard Daenerys say darkly, "only your life."
Her words chilled him to the bone, and startled the Red Witch as well. When Rhaegar looked at his wife, he saw no emotion on her face whatsoever, only flames dancing in her eyes as she stared at the pyre with some sick fascination.
The Red Witch started muttering then, a prayer in Old Valyrian to her God. Rhaegar pitied her. All those about to die deserved pity, he believed, even those who had wronged him as she had. But his wife had no pity for the witch.
A bright light in the dark sky forced Rhaegar's eyes away from the pyre and up to the sky. A large, red star flew across the sky, like a ball of fire making its way across the world. Dany smiled up at the sky, before looking back down at the pyre, determination shining in those violet eyes of hers, so alike his. Daenerys started to walk towards the fire, in some sort of trance. In an instant, Rhaegar had grabbed her wrist and pulled her back to him.
"Dany, we are not fireproof," Rhaegar told her. "If you walk into that pyre, you will burn."
His wife smiled at him, a sad, pitiful smile, and laid a hand on his cheek. "Fear not, husband. You do not understand now. But you will."
Wide-eyed and shocked, Rhaegar's grip on his wife's wrist loosened. Daenerys took that opportunity to step away from him and walk into the flames. Rhaegar wanted to run after her, but just as he took his first step towards the pyre, he saw fire lick the bottom of Daenerys' dress, burning it to dust. He waited for her scream.
It never came.
The only sound that could be heard was his mother's loud shriek of despair, the fire crackling and his father's mad laughter. Rhaegar dropped to his knees, and the rest of the court followed suit except for his father. He caught a glimpse of Dany's beautiful silver-gold hair within the flames before fire engulfed her like a blanket. All he could do now was pray.
He stayed awake until morning came, like most of the lords and ladies of the court. His father had left hours ago. "And they dare to call me mad!" he had shouted before he took his leave. The court did not spare him false laughter, no one even spared him a smile. His mother had left the king's side to kneel beside her son, an act she would surely pay for later.
It took all night, but the fire had died down to the point that Rhaegar would not burn to death if he stepped within the pyre. So the crown prince stood and searched for a path where the fire did not burn as strong. He ignored his mother's protests, walking into the pyre as Dany had the night before, only he wasn't as likely to die. Rhaegar feared that he would find her ashes along with the ashes of his child.
A loud cry came from somewhere within the pyre, though the cry was not quite human. Rhaegar smiled and laughed in relief. That cry was all it took to lift his spirits, all he needed to know that his sister was still alive. She had done it. She had truly done it.
He followed the cries that were beginning to sound more like singing to Rhaegar's ears. The fire had almost completely died down, and the visions he had seen within the flames were almost completely gone. He would think about them later, but for now, all he could think about was his sister and wife, sitting on the ground with three dragons surrounding her. The black dragon was perched on her shoulder while the cream and gold dragon and the green suckled at her breasts.
Sensing his presence, Dany's eyes flickered up to him. The coldness held within them the night before had vanished, and in its place the softness had returned. Rhaegar recognised that look. She had the same expression on her face when he had come to see Rhaenys and Aegon after she had just given birth, and then Visenya a year later. It was the look of doting mother as she held her child.
Only this time, Dany was not the mother of children.
Daenerys was the mother of dragons.