Author's Note: Summary of this chapter- the Tourney at Harrenhal happens! And Dany isn't the type of woman to suffer in silence...
THE POISON TREE
and it grew both day and night
'till it bore an apple bright
and my foe beheld it shine
and he knew that it was mine.
the mother of dragons
By the sixth day of the tourney, Daenerys had become a frantic mess. She tried to hide it, but the princess fretted for her dragon. In just three more days was the axe-throwing contest, the final event of the tourney, which the king would not attend as he believed the event was not significant enough to warrant his attention. Only Rhaegar was expected to attend from the royal family, as Dany declared that she would rest on that day.
It was a lie, of course. In three days time she would slip out during the night and go to the Dreadfort to help Visenyon. He was still safe, she knew, she could feel it, but how long more until her Visenyon was harmed by some bandits? Or Roose Bolton discovered a dragon near his keep and decided to gift the king with a dragon's pelt in exchange for gold and the king's favour?
Her thoughts became darker and darker. She had gotten little sleep last night, and her face reflected that. She sat at her vanity, staring at her reflection in the mirror while Janna Tyrell styled her hair. Images of her Visenyon being tormented and harmed flooded into Daenerys' mind, causing tears to well in her eyes. She forced the thoughts away and swallowed the lump in her throat. Three more days. Three more days and I will come for you, my love.
"What troubles you, princess? You've been so very quiet these last few days," Janna Tyrell asked, her voice laced with false concern. She only wanted gossip so she could run to her father and spill on the princess. Daenerys trusted very few of her ladies on her mother's urging, and the longer she spent in her ladies company, the more thankful she became that Queen Rhaella had not allowed her daughter to be a blind, trusting fool.
Dany forced herself to smile. "It is only the weather that troubles me, my dearest Janna. I do not sleep well in such a cold climate."
"Will I fetch you more sheets and furs then, my lady?" Janna suggested, eager to help. Too eager to help.
"That should help. Thank you, Janna." She gave her lady-in-waiting one last smile before the Tyrell girl scurried off to find some bedding for the princess. Daenerys leaned back in the chair, staring at the mirror once more.
In some of her dreams, her reflection often morphed from a girl with silver hair and violet eyes to a dragon with black scales tinted with red and red eyes like molten lava. In others, Daenerys saw her reflection become that of her father's, wearing a callous sneer as he stared back at her through the mirror. Daenerys preferred the dreams where she became a dragon.
She met Rhaegar just outside her door. He asked for her favour, which Daenerys dutifully gave him, and they walked together to the tiltyard. The husband and wife walked in silence, though the animosity that had existed between them before had waned and the silence was an amicable one. Subtly, Daenerys turned her head to look at Rhaegar. He was dressed in armour as black as night, the breast plate was decorated with red rubies that glinted when they caught the light. His beautiful shoulder-length, white hair was bound back with a hair tie, making his fine jawline and high cheekbones more noticeable. Rhaegar was beautiful, no one could deny it. Though their marriage had long been devoid of love, Daenerys had always thought him attractive.
When they had reached the arena where the joust was taking place, Rhaegar bid his wife farewell and departed, leaving Daenerys with only her father for company. She curtsied before him as he snarled at her and watched her carefully. The king had believed for some time now that his children wished to rise up against him in rebellion and had chosen to treat them with disdain and contempt. He made sure to never discuss state affairs in front of Rhaegar and Daenerys and had warned his small council against doing so.
As she took her seat beside her father and king, Daenerys felt hatred rising her stomach at the memories of how he treated her as child. She preferred distance and contempt to the way he used to touch her behind closed doors. Daenerys grimaced at the memory of her father's hand on her breast, on her arse, in between her legs; the dirty words he used to whisper in her ear – the ear of his eleven year old daughter... it made her want to cry.
She swore to herself that Rhaenys would never know such torment. She would kill her father herself and be hung for kingslaying before she let anyone hurt her little Rhaenys.
"Your beast has flown far," her father snarled. Daenerys looked ahead of her, the mention of Visenyon bringing tears to her eyes. She refused to let her father see her cry. "Perhaps he has fled to Essos!" The king barked a mad laugh that made Dany wince. "I wonder if the savages have found him yet. It makes me glad to think of your beast being torn apart by the Dothraki savages. I only hope that they will send me a piece of his pelt. Only a piece, just to make sure that he is dead. Perhaps I will have the seamstresses stitch his black flesh onto one of your dresses. Would you like that, Daenerys? Then your dead dragon shall be with you always!" More mad laughter erupted from her father's lips. It turned into a coughing fit, but even that could not cheer up Dany as the image her father created stayed in her mind.
"He is no beast," Daenerys stated, her voice low and threatening as a tear fell down her cheek. "If he is a beast, then so are we."
The king snapped his head towards Dany and glared at her with such rage that she expected him to order Ser Barristan to bring him his daughter's head. Instead, he grabbed Daenerys' wrist in his hand and dug his fingernails into her flesh, deep enough to draw blood. Dany cried out in pain. The Kingsguard stood by idly, giving their princess sorry looks.
"You're hurting me," Dany whimpered, trying to tug her arm away, but doing so only caused more pain. Her father's nails were long. Having been cut so many times by the swords of the Iron Throne, the king distrusted blades and refused to have his nails or hair cut. Daenerys tried not to look at her father's nails, like many they disgusted her, but now as they pressed into her skin she had to look at them, and they were as disgusting as she had imagined – long and yellow. "Father, please," she begged as more blood started to gush out.
Her father laughed again. "Do you think I am a beast, Daenerys?" She could only whimper in response. "Answer me, girl!"
"Your Grace, if I may," Ser Barristan interjected fearfully, unable to watch the princess be tortured by her father any longer. The king merely looked at him, his nails still piercing Dany's flesh. She had began to weep from the pain. "I believe the princess only meant to say that since those of House Targaryen have dragonblood, to compare a dragon to a beast is a questionable statement. I'm sure Princess Daenerys meant no harm."
King Aerys mulled over what Ser Barristan had said for a moment. He eventually released Dany from his grip and the princess snatched her hand back, cradling it as blood gushed from the cuts. She gave Ser Barristan a subtle nod to show her thanks, which the knight returned. The king's glare was upon the member of the Kingsguard now, as fierce as it had been when Dany was its victim.
"Tell me, Ser Barristan. I am getting old and with age, comes confusion. But if I recall correctly, the duty of the Kingsguard is to serve and protect the king," her father said calmly, his voice light as though he was only discussing the weather. As quick as lightening, however, the king's face betrayed anger and his voice was raised to point of a roar. "Not to question his decisions!"
Dany flinched back, as did the members of the Kingsguard that were currently guarding the king and some of the lords and ladies that were seated near the king.
"You are correct, Your Grace," Ser Barristan agreed, bowing his head in submission. "I apologise if I have offended my king. That was not my intention."
With one last humph and a glare directed at the good knight, the king turned away from Daenerys and Ser Barristan and ordered his cupbearer to bring him more wine. Dany shared a look with Ser Barristan, one mixed with relief and terror. Her father's sanity was failing quickly and worsening more and more each day. A man like him shouldn't be allowed to wear a crown, but yet here they were, at the mercy of a mad man.
"Lord Tywin," the king suddenly spoke, placing his goblet on the table after he took a long gulp. "Bring me Lord Tywin," he commanded Ser Arthur Dayne briskly. The knight wore a solemn look, knowing that this wasn't going to end well, but obeyed his king.
"Of course, Your Grace."
The members of the Kingsguard and the princess shared worried glances. Her father no doubt planned to taunt Lord Tywin make a worse enemy out of him that he already had. As the Lord of Casterly Rock and Hand of the King bowed before King Aerys, a frown on his face and his body stiff, Daenerys watched with trepidation as her father hesitated to speak.
When he did, the king was surprisingly civil. Dany wasn't a fool. She knew it wasn't going to last long. "We parted on ill terms in King's Landing," Aerys commented mournfully. "You left so suddenly... were you angry with your king, Lord Tywin?"
"No, Your Grace. I merely wished to return home. I have for too long neglected my duties in the Westerlands and since my wife is no longer with us, the Westerlands was left without a capable ruler," Tywin explained. After years of dealing with a mad king, Tywin was cautious and capable of avoiding the king's rage. Daenerys wished she could master the skill.
"Ah," was all the king said in response, regarding his former Hand with uncertainty. "Very well. But there are matters to be discussed, matters that were left unattended to due to your sudden departure."
Tywin's frown deepened. "Oh?"
The king grinned and nodded. "Yes. Firstly, I would like to inform you that your son makes a brilliant Kingsguard. He has been sent to King's Landing to watch over my wife and son. I am overjoyed with my decision to raise him to the Kingsguard."
Daenerys could see the anger etched onto Lord Tywin's face as he clenched his fists by his sides. His words betrayed no such emotion. "He will not disappoint you, Your Grace."
"No, he won't. Not like his father has." Tywin did not respond to the insult and schooled his expression into one of indifference. "I betrothed my son to your daughter out of gratitude to you for your loyal service to the crown for so long. I was willing to sacrifice my son by marrying him to a mere servant's daughter with common blood! But you betrayed me, Tywin. You left the capital without telling me. What do I owe a traitor?"
"We have already agreed to set aside the betrothal, Your Grace," Tywin reminded the king, who only smirked back at him.
"Yes, we have," the king agreed, his smirk becoming a callous grin as he observed Tywin with narrowed, vicious eyes. "But then I gave the matter some thought and I began wondering... if your daughter was not wed to House Targaryen, then to which house would she marry into? Your daughter is as beautiful as her mother and you would be a fool not to use her to further the ambitions of House Lannister. I have called you many things, Tywin, but a fool... never. So I have decided to take the matter of your daughter's betrothal into my own hands. You always wanted your daughter to marry a Targaryen, did you not? Well, a Baratheon must do!"
Seething, Tywin gritted out the words through his clenched teeth. Daenerys almost flinched at the sight of the Great Lion of Lannister, seething in rage. "Lord Robert is already betrothed to Lyanna Stark, Your Grace," he reminded the king.
Daenerys understood then, only now realising why Tywin was so angry. Not only was the king dictating who Tywin's daughter could and could not marry, but he was marrying her to second son with no major titles or lands of his own.
"Come now, Tywin. You understand perfectly who I mean to marry your daughter do," Aerys bore his teeth as he grinned up at his Hand. "Lord Baratheon's brother will be a fine match for your daughter. No lands, no titles, no armies to rise up against me in rebellion should you command it!"
The king cackled manically, slapping his armrest in mirth as those around him watched the king fretfully. Daenerys could not bare looking at him for a moment longer and stared ahead, willing away the sound of her father's cackling. His laughter went on for longer than what could be considered normal, and only came to a halt when he started choking. Dany did not miss the small smile that appeared on the solemn Lord Lannister's face as the king gasped for breath. While it may be considered treason to take joy from the king's suffering, Dany did not fault him one bit.
"If you would excuse me, Your Grace," Lord Tywin said after Aerys had stopped wheezing but before the king was strong enough to argue with him. Tywin disappeared into the crowd, seated far away from his Mad King.
Dany made her excuses as well, desperately needing a break from both her father and the lords who sought the king's favour. Fools, the lot of them. My father favours no one but his pyromancers these days. Of course, the true extent of her father's madness had not reached the ears of many lords. If a letter that contained any ill word spoken of the king was shot down, that person would face punishment at the hand of Aerys Targaryen. And, knowing her father, he would show them no mercy.
"Princess!" she heard someone call her name and turned around. She should have recognised the falsely chipper tone of Cersei Lannister, what with Cersei being her lady-in-waiting for so long.
"Lady Cersei," Daenerys greeted, inclining her head after Cersei and her dark-haired companion curtsied. Dany had never seen the girl before which, considering the girl's beauty, was very strange. Most pretty, highborn girls in Westeros had been to court at least once. Dany looked away from the girl and asked Cersei, "How are you?"
"Very well, my lady, though I miss court terribly," Cersei replied silkily. Of course she would miss court. Dany had never seen someone fit into court and its mechanisms as well as Cersei.
"The court is not the same without you," Dany claimed, and it was the truth. No. It is so much better without you breathing down my neck and listening to my every word. Having Cersei in her household was like having one of Varys' little birds live in her room in plain sight. Daenerys forced a smile on her lips and turned to Cersei's companion. "I don't believe we've met..."
"Lyanna Stark," the girl finished. Her grey eyes flashed with mischief and narrowed, as though sizing the princess up. Dany flinched at first at the girl's intense look. She then caught herself and, filled with a sense of indignation, stood a little taller.
"Ah," Daenerys replied, regarding the wolf girl coolly, narrowing her violet eyes. A dragon does not cower before a wolf. I have nothing to prove to a mere wolf girl. "Lord Rickard's daughter?"
"I am," the girl answered proudly, straightening her back and raising her chin.
"I hear you are betrothed to Robert Baratheon. You are very lucky. He is a handsome man," Dany commented, watching Lyanna closely for her reaction. She remembered hearing that Lyanna was not so taken with her intended after he fathered a bastard in the Vale and wanted to know if the rumours were true.
"That he is," Lyanna said, sadness seeping into those fierce grey eyes. The sadness faded when she caught sight of someone behind Daenerys and were filled with what Dany believed to be desire. "Though I think you are the lucky one. The prince is very kind and honourable. You are very lucky to be his wife."
Yes. I am most lucky to be married to my brother. If only the Stark girl truly knew Rhaegar, as only Dany did. Knew him for his obsessions and his ruthless determination and his occasional madness. Then, perhaps, she would not think Dany so lucky.
She looked over her shoulder to see who Lyanna was staring at and found the object of that adoring gaze to be Rhaegar himself. Dany could handle another woman loving her husband. After all, wasn't half of the Seven Kingdoms in love with perfect Prince Rhaegar? Yes, Daenerys could handle one-sided love towards her husband without feeling a hint of jealousy. But what sparked fear and even sadness in the young princess was when she looked behind her, and found Rhaegar looking back at Lady Lyanna with equal fondness.
Dany felt no envy as she watched her husband fall in love with another woman. Only dread.
Daenerys excused herself quickly after seeing her husband longingly stare at the Stark girl. The princess sat with her father and endured his cruel words for hours as he mocked and threatened the liege lord's of Westeros, their sons, their daughters, and sometimes even Dany herself. She wasn't sure whether she wanted to cry or roar. Perhaps both. She missed her mother. She wanted her mother.
The joust started soon after Daenerys sat down. Today was the final tilt and Rhaegar would compete against Ser Barristan. He wore her favour on his lance, a cloth of red and black. A part of Dany that never wished her brother well wanted him to lose, though another part of her, out of gratitude for how he comforted her a few nights ago, hoped that he did well in the joust. As always, the bitter part of her won.
"Who do you hedge your bets with, Daenerys?" her father asked her, not even turning his head to look at her. Dany could see the grin on his lips anyway. "The White Bull or Rhaegar?"
"I could not say, Father," Dany replied, knowing that she would risk her father's ire regardless of which man she chose. "Both fight so well."
The king barked a mad laugh. "Pretty words, Daenerys. You're just like all the rest of them, aren't you? Dragon's daughter or no, you recite pretty words to please your king. Speak true, daughter. Which knight?"
Daenerys watched her brother as he climbed upon his horse – a beautiful brown stallion – a look of determination on his handsome features. Dany had seen that look many times before. The night Visenya was conceived, he had stormed into her chambers with a purpose, wearing that very same look. He frightened Dany that night and was much rougher than usual. In truth, it still sent a shiver down Dany's spine to think of that night. Whenever Rhaegar wore that expression, he seemed to succeed in his endeavour.
"The dragon must have three heads." And three heads it had, for a time.
"Rhaegar," Daenerys answered finally, staring at her husband with a distracted look in her eye. "It will be Rhaegar."
Her father grinned at her once more. "You have faith in your brother, how sweet. Here's hoping he does not disgrace House Targaryen in his feeble attempt to defeat the White Bull."
Dany pressed her lips together and chose not to respond, knowing that her response would be taken badly no matter what she said. If she agreed with the king, she would be speaking ill of their House. If she disagreed with him, she would be disagreeing with the king. Daenerys had learned a long time ago that it was sometimes best to say nothing.
She watched Rhaegar as he placed his helm upon his head. It was a magnificent piece of armour, in the style of a dragon's head and adorned with jewels of black and red. Rhaegar truly looked like a knight from a song in his armour, tall and handsome and brave. Dany understood what women swooned for him and wished they were his wife instead of the stoic princess. If only they knew what it was like to be his wife. The prophecies, the distance, the demands... Rhaegar is easy to love from afar, yes, but impossible to love as a husband. But I am the villain, as always. The evil princess who could not love her husband.
The sound of a trumpet signalled the beginning of the joust. Rhaegar and Ser Barristan raised their lances and urged their horses forward with a kick. Rhaegar's stallion was faster than Ser Barristan's. Dany didn't understand jousting very well, but surely having a faster steed was advantageous.
Rhaegar and Ser Barristan raced towards each other, aiming their lances at their opponent's chest. Twice, the knight and the prince missed and rode on to the end of tiltyard before riding towards their opponent again.
Lance raised, Rhaegar aimed his lance at the knight and Ser Barristan did the same. This time, however, Rhaegar managed to hit Ser Barristan in the chest with the tip of his lance and knock the knight to the ground, unhorsing him. The audience cheered and clapped for the young prince, some even stood to cheer for Rhaegar. Dany stayed seating. She was never as joyed over Rhaegar's accomplishments as a wife ought to be.
Everyone was smiling and laughing as Rhaegar climbed off his horse and pulled off his help, his silver hair falling down his back and flickering in the sunlight. He went over to Ser Barristan and offered him his hand, which the knight accepted. Ser Barristan clapped him on the back and congratulated him on a good tilt. The young prince seemed merry, but Dany could see the melancholy in his eyes.
Lord Walter Whent presented Rhaegar with a crown of blue winter roses. Dany sat up straighter. It was tradition for the victor of a tourney to crown his wife, if he had one, and crowning anyone but his wife would cause a stir. Rhaegar climbed on top of his stallion, crown in hand, and urged his horse forwards.
The Prince of Dragonstone did not spare his wife a glance as he rode past her, towards some other lady in attendance. Daenerys froze, equal parts humiliated and angry. She watched her husband with narrowed, fiery eyes as he trotted towards the lady Dany met that day. Lyanna Stark.
You fucking fool, Dany seethed, clenched her fists on her lap. She could feel the eyes on her, flickering between the princess and the prince fearfully, and tried her best to remain composed. But her resolve slowly withered as Rhaegar raised the crown in the air and smiled at Lyanna fondly, lovingly.
"I proclaim thee the Queen of Love and Beauty!" Rhaegar announced. Dany heard the quiet gasps of women. He had even shocked their father into silence.
Her face became hot and the anger became unbearable. Why? Why had he done this to her? Was this her punishment for not allowing him to take another wife? Since she refused to allow him to shame her by taking another wife, he decided to shame her in another way. Could he be so cruel?!
Rhaegar placed the crown on Lyanna's head, sharing a smile with the young she-wolf and placing a tender kiss on the back of her hand. Dany could not take it anymore.
Embarrassed and angry, so angry, Daenerys rose from her seat, a hundred eyes upon her, and stormed out of the tiltyard, fists clenched by her side and anger radiating from her body. She wanted to run away – far away from Rhaegar and that wolf bitch – and so she would. She gathered her skirts in her hand and ran towards the stables. Tears had begun to well in her eyes, but Dany refused to let them shed. I will not cry for Rhaegar. I will not!
She saddled her white horse – named Silver, for the colour of her mane. She was about to climb onto her back when another person joined her in the stables.
"Princess," it was Ser Barristan, bruised and wincing in pain, who had rushed after her. "Where are you going?"
"For a ride," Daenerys declared. "I must clear my head."
"I will go with you-"
"There is no need. You are injured. Go rest. I will be fine on my own," Daenerys promised, climbing on top of her silver. The horse had been a wedding present from Rhaegar, she noted ruefully, and strangely enough she preferred the horse to her husband and brother.
"I'm coming with you," Ser Barristan stated firmly and climbed on top of his horse. Daenerys saw him wince with pain as positioned himself on top of the stallion. She felt guilty, but she was not forcing him to come with her. She did not want him with her.
"I am sworn to protect the king and his family. You would have me sacrifice my honour?" Ser Barristan asked, his horse trotting towards her.
"Never," Daenerys replied, though she was still uncertain. "That is why I must refuse your company. You see, what I am about to do is against the king's wishes and may compromise your honour, I fear."
Ser Barristan sighed and gave her a short nod. "We're not going on a short ride, are we, princess?"
"No, Ser Barristan. We're not," Daenerys agreed. "Visenyon is in trouble. What kind of mother would I be if I allowed my child to remain in agony?"