To TrickyImp1305: Thank you so much!
To Bella-swan11: Unfortunately it's not just the women. Westerosi men are every bit as crazy as the women, although in a very different way. Can you imagine what a girl with Gabrielle's looks would incite them to do?
To Tashio: Thank you! I agree- there's no point in whining if no one is going to say anything constructive! Yes, we'll have Rhaegar here... And some surprises.
To iHateHotWeather123: I respect constructive criticism- not your pointless whining. Not a single ounce of constructive criticism anywhere, to the point that at least THREE other reviewers have read your reviews, and agree that the only thing you do is whine. Seriously? And did you even bother to answer:
1. When I tried to PM you it said: PRIVATE MESSAGING DENIED. This could only mean you blocked it (or someone else did- but most likely: you).
2. She has only just arrived in Westeros. First: prologue. First chapter: Realising where she was. Second: Steffon Baratheon comes. Need I go on? You expect instant lemons, blood and death, Rhaegar, et cetera? They only just met last chapter.
3. Her family consists of a workaholic father and a social-climbing mother who plays favourites with her sons, and uses Seraena/Gabrielle as a pawn. Only Jacaenor can be counted as reliable and loving. Seriously?
4. ASOIAF consists of realistic characters. People don't get over things so quickly. She's separated from her first family by death- only she's died. Has Catelyn gotten over Jon Snow's existence? Has Tywin gotten over Tyrion's status as a dwarf and Joanna's death in childbirth? No. So, if you don't like realism and want something else, don't go for ASOIAF in general. Not just the fanfics.
5. Do you really believe you have the right to flame when you don't even write? That's right I've been to your profile. No written stories. So, try to stretch your brain for some imagination before you flame. WRITE YOUR OWN STORIES BEFORE YOU CRITICISE HOW OTHERS WRITE.
To Beloved Daughter: I hope to show she makes some actual, but realistic changes.
To sddc0: Hope you like it. 😉
To ZeroJ25: And here it is!
To Isles: Thank you.
To WeylandCorp4: Thank you so much! And thank you for your message.
To timijaf: Thank you.
To Guest Reviewer 1: She will show some of her skills later on (not just healing).
To Guest Reviewer 2: The action will start soon enough, but do you really expect action right after she arrives in Westeros? She has magic, and she has travelled all over Essos. She has gone on adventures, she has fought.
ASOIAF is known for its realism. If YOU were plucked out from the real world. I know you want action, just as you want a happy ending, but consider: 1. Do you expect instant White Walkers/Others, Lannisters-Starks clash and Targaryen dragons in FIVE CHAPTERS? THIS IS ONLY CHAPTER SIX! And would YOU really get over things so quickly? If you were suddenly plucked from the real world and your loving family, would you get over it? There are characters in ASOIAF who don't get over it as quickly- e.g Catelyn and Jon Snow, Tywin and blaming Tyrion for Joanna's death. And while you can say that the former characters are flawed, what would you do if you were in their position and faced with the same reality?
At least Seraena/Gabrielle is moving on, it's a progress, but she's moving on. She only has Jacaenor, the rest of her new family really have their own agendas that they consider more important. she has adapted- heck, she's adapted way better than Fleur would have- remember how she was in Hogwarts, how she was constantly moaning about British food, ugly suits of armour and poltergeists?
To noname: Thank you. I'm sorry I can't give away any spoilers, but you will see! 😉
To thebestpeopleinlifearefree: Thank you!
To dark.wizard92: Yes I agree absolutely! But there's nothing too much about apparating onto a ship not so far away and setting it on fire with magic. As for Cersei… Well, I hope I don't disappoint!
To AvalonRivers: Thank you.
To ptolemy101: Thanks! Well, coming from magical, modern France, it's about time she can help them along.
To Meilinfan: Sorry for the length! I didn't choose Fleur for several reasons:
One, is that she's already been in the spotlight.
while Gabrielle might have difficulty adjusting, she would keep her opinions to herself, and search for some light amidst all of this. She's not a complainer as compared to her older sister.
Fleur has already lived her own life, a good life, formed her own opinions, et cetera. Gabrielle is underrated and we barely see her, we don't know who or what she's become or what she was capable of. Seraena/Gabrielle is a story that hasn't been told. I picked her because we know so little yet she promised so much. We know that Veela- or even part-Veela like Fleur causes quite a stir because of their beauty and grace. But we also know that they are part-human, and part-humans, like Hagrid who's part-giant, are often treated worse than muggle-borns, to the point where they become ashamed and hid their identity. What would Gabrielle have gone through in her life? Being a part-human, with beauty which could cause all sorts of attention, from jealousy to lust? Prejuidice against her status perhaps? With an elder sister like Fleur, whose shadow she may have been crushed under? With a deeply warm and loving family? She was too young to fight in the wizarding war, too young to even go to school in the books, but she was there at Bill and Fleur's wedding when the Death Eaters crashed the party. How they must have treated the family, I couldn't imagine. It must have made an impact on her. Gabrielle had a story to tell- in both lives.
To Guest Reviewer 3: I think you have the wrong fanfic- I did check everything. Besides, I did graduate with a degree in English and Creative Writing. Ask someone else if you really don't believe me.
To Guest Reviewer 4: Yes, the wedding will be on soon. As for the dragon eggs, I'm, afraid I can't give away any spoilers- sorry!
To alice: Merci. J'espère ne pas te décevoir.
To Mayuraheika: Thank you! I hope Cersei's reaction doesn't disappoint!
To falciatore1669: Thank you. You are, to put it simply, absolutely right. They are such complex characters, and even in archetypal stories, where you have the 'shapeshifter character' like Snape, the hero- Harry, the 'villains' Draco and Voldemort. It never really seems like that. And yes, contrary to what whiners believe, she is actually mourning the way anyone would mourn if they were separated from their loved ones, by entire worlds. She is going to stir things up and she is going to change things, we can be sure of that. She might not do it instantly but she will do it.
To alia00: Thank you.
To valdr: I understand your concerns, but although we have no way of knowing how much wealth the Veltarises has accumulated, there are other factors. We know the Lannisters are wealthy, but their incomes depend on the Westerland mines. This family, due to its own policies have always insisted in sending their children to do real work, as well as dividing their inheritance. Some have been bankers (like Aeramor) and more- not just merchants. I think their skill is managing their money and estates, without having to get involved in politics (except for Seraena) as well as generating numerous ways to get income. Besides, in Westeros, how many people simply wait for their parents to die and/or pass on the inheritance, instead of working? The Freys, for one, are all waiting instead of going out, making great names and fortunes for themselves, are hanging around, scheming, whining and sulking and waiting for Walder Frey to die. The Lannisters manage it better but are no different (why else would they be so desperate to send that useless Lancel to become a squire). There's way too many Lannisters too, and they can't all be the head of the house and be as well-supplied as the main branch )Tywin, Cersei, Jaime and Tyrion, so they needed to find a way to get themselves to get the fame and cash if they can't get the fair share they think they deserve.
To Esm3rald: Thank you! Don't expect unrealistic romance though!
To Cloudedstargazer: Thank you! Yes, as she's a healer it would make sense, and her family aren't like the Westerosi nobles who just sit around and wait for the head to die so they can have their own money. Thank you so much- I can't give away any spoilers though! I hate writer's block but the main characters of AGoT will appear here.
To Nate88: Thank you! Yes, Gabrielle is sadly left blank and to remain in the shadow of her more famous acquaintances and sister. We do not even know what she must have suffered when during her sister's wedding, the pure-blood supremacist Death Eaters attack.
To Guest Reviewer 5: Here it is- sorry for the long wait!
To ImploringIdeal: Thanks- but sorry I can't give away any spoilers- there will be clues, however.
To Guest Reviewer 6: Well, don't expect anything BAM! Instant Romeo and Juliet (this is a realistic fantasy). But here's the next chapter.
Dreams, Desires and Destinies
One of the things that slammed into Seraena apart from the reality of the present situation, was the familiarity.
Why? She had dreamt this. A dream which frightened her, and compelled her to put it from her mind. Even to the point of forgetting it. She had neglected to speak about it to Jacaenor, and Karina. She had even forgotten about it. But when those indigo eyes met hers, even after her eyes had moved from the monstrous throne, did astoundment slam into her. She had seen those eyes before.
And so did Prince Rhaegar. He knew this woman.
They knew each other, and though it may seem a dream, it was far from a good one.
It was a nightmare which they shared.
Seraena remembered dreaming of fire, fire rising to the sky, tongues of flame licking up to the moon.
She dreamt of ice, frosty blue hail and snow, so freezing and thick it blocked out the skies and buried the land under countless layers of thick snow and ice.
She dreamt of a tall man with a chiselled face, his hair of silver-gold streaming down when he removed his helm. Dark indigo eyes sparkling. His eyes were fixed solely on her.
She dreamt of a voice of iron and gold, murmuring, 'The Dragons has three Heads.'
SUddenly, a cloud of fire turned green, an impure, terrifying, poisonous green, every bit as dangerous as the Killing Curse, if not more so. The fires rose, threatening to engulf the castle of red stone.
She dreamt of three eggs laid within three cradles. Three babies were swaddled by their sides, and the embryos within the shells stretched and reached out with their tails, entwining the human babes, breaking their shells until they each became one.
She dreamt of the figure of a woman dressed in the finest silks and Myrish lace, a crown on her head, a dragon hatchling on her shoulder. It gave a cry, a shrill, shrieking sound that echoed all throughout the realm.
Then the fire was back; green and choking, and the ice, the ice which stung and stabbed worse than any weapon or Valyrian steel sword. It threatened to choke her, to weigh her down, to burn her, and to kill her all at once.
The fire on oen side, the ice on the other, and the sound of voices like crackling ice amidst the shriek of dragons in the distance. She knew they were coming closer. She just didn't know which would reach her first.
And she saw a throne; made of barbed, burnt and blackened iron swords hammered together. Dark, sickening, menacing and threatening; it was uncontained, unlimited, mad power. A madness which threatened to spread. It towered above all and she struggled to escape its shadow.
Within the towering, dark and grim monstrosity, a man was seated within, wearing a heavy crown of red-gold with three dragon-heads their eyes, gems. His hair and beard had grown long, scraggly and matted, his long, talon-like fingernails grasping the arms of the throne. The blood seeped from his fingers and dripped onto the floor to mingle with the blood that had already pooled there. Blood which she realised, with a growing terror, that flowed like a river into a sea or an ocean full of blood... and an island of corpses and ash.
Seraena was surrounded by them. And then the flames were back and the cracking sounds of ice and snow. she was surrounded with it, as she was surrounded with the piles of corpses. Corpses, which she saw in horror, began to shudder and move, to pull themselves to their feet and reach out towards her.
The fire rose higher, as did the ice and snow.
A fevered glint was spotted within the man's eyes- a horribly familiar, maniacal glint in his lilac eyes. "BURN THEM ALL!" He yelled as Seraena had gasped, jolting awake.
At the same time, the prince named Rhaegar Targaryen jolted and burst from his sleep within the safety of his chambers in the Red Keep.
Unlike Seraena, Rhaegar did not forget the dream so easily, not until he found himself in the great hall, caught up by the tide of the court, awaiting the arrival of his future bride.
Through the corner of his eye, Rhaegar cast a glance at Lord Tywin. There was no sign of Lord Steffon, so the Lord of the Stormlands could only have gone to escort his bride.
Lord Tywin Lannister, head of House Lannister and Lord Paramount of the Westerlands, did not look pleased. But he did not allow his displeasure to be shown, carefully holding that mask of indifference in place. In truth, while Rhaegar knew the Lannister lord was not pleased that his daughter Cersei had been scorned as his potential bride, there were other matters in mind. As always that mask of calculating indifference never gave way to joy, nor anger, nor even annoyance and sorrow.
His mother looked composed and regal as always, but Rhaegar sensed her growing curiosity towards this bride that Lord Steffon had found, and that the king had eagerly agreed to without a moment's thought. For the first and last time in his life, Rhaegar blessed the gods for his father's actions today. He had finally emerged after weeks of seclusion, leaving affairs of state to Lord Tywin, but now he sat on the Iron Throne, wearing orange-red and black, bright as flame. His hair and beard were unkempt but shorter than before.
At last, Rhaegar turned his attention to the opening doors- and the growing crowd that had gathered. But all thoughts or anything in his mind had vanished as the sight of his future bride slammed into him.
She was, simply put, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Or, more accurately, the most beautiful creature in this world.
The words goddess and vision could not describe radiant beauty that glided into this room, so breathtakingly heartbreakingly beautiful, every breath was stolen, with loud gasps, bugging eyes and the crash of goblets and plates dropped by servants. The purpling, shocked, and gawking faces of the individuals faded before the silvery glow radiated by the lady, like the moon's light or the stars, radiantly illuminating the blackest night. Impossible as it seemed, she glowed.
Her luminous skin was pale, silvery-white, shaming the moon's glow and the stars'. Her silky mane of silver hair cascaded all the way to her waist, gently waving, like a waterfall of the brightest, purest, shining metal, down her willowy form to her tiny waist. She had the most delicate, perfect features; very large, the deepest and the most richly-coloured violet eyes framed by long, silken black lashes that met his without flinching. Without the slightest trace of fear, shyness, coyness, lust, avarice or desire.
There was a mild surprise, but she quickly concealed it. It had appeared when she had seen him. He wondered what it was, what could have surprised her. But the lady showed no indication of her earlier thoughts as she approached the dais. Rhaegar noticed the way she moved, gliding like smoothest water, or floating like softest air, as if she did not possess two ordinary feet, but invisible wings. He did not understand any of it. Out of the corner of his eye, as some started- with difficulty- to overcome their shock, Rhaegar saw his mother cast an incredulous, disbelieving glance at Lord Steffon. The Baratheon lord only shrugged sheepishly as Rhaella's eyes met his, as if to say, Sorry, but you would not have believed me if I had told you.
Well, he wasn't wrong about that, Rhaegar nearly snorted. There was no possible way Lord Baratheon, who was not even a master poet, could ever describe such beauty and be believed.
The lady came to a stop before the dais, and although Rhaegar and everyone else, was still staring at her, he noticed that there was a young man by her side. He had the Valyrian colouring, silver hair and lilac eyes, he was strikingly handsome, but there was no resemblance. Not at first, it seemed. But the shape of the eyes, a unique almond, might have been one. On his own he would have cut a striking figure. But next to the maid, like everybody else in the room, he dimmed terribly in comparison. The lady filled everyone's vision with her radiance it appeared that no mortal eyes could ever fully scope the full extent of her loveliness.
This is no ordinary maid, Rhaegar thought. He did not know what made her appear like the overly exaggerated poems and tales of the mystical past, only… More. He doubted even Shiera Seastar could have competed with her loveliness. Rhaegar wondered how this woman would be perceived by the annals of history, no doubt there would be tales about her. The most cynical and bitter would accuse her of witchcraft, of course. The wildest, would say she was a goddess.
"Your grace," Lord Steffon stepped forwards. "May I introduce you to the Lord Jacaenor, son and heir of House Veltaris. And the Lady Seraena of House Veltaris."
The two siblings stopped directly in front of the dais, bowing and curtsying in turn. Aerys' eyebrows had shot up as he gazed wide-eyed from the bride to Steffon, with not the slightest trace of amusement.
"Yes, welcome," he waved a careless hand. "I must admit, when Lord Baratheon spoke of your exceptional beauty my lady, he did not mention it would be outstanding." He chuckled, and Rhaegar inwardly winced at how rude he seemed. He struggled to cover up his father's lapse before he could give offence.
"Welcome to King's Landing and the Seven Kingdoms," he said hastily. Their eyes turned towards him. Her brother's eyes were calculating, clever, bold yet cautious. "We are honoured by your presence."
Seraena's eyes observed him. So, a clever man…
"Yes," Queen Rhaella stood. "Welcome." Her eyes left Seraena once more, and settled amusedly at Steffon. Seraena knew that there was no possible way Lord Steffon could have told them of her appearance without causing disbelief. By the sheepish, embarrassed way the Baratheon lord's expression had settled, he was thinking the exact same thoughts.
"Thank you, your graces," the elder brother spoke. The lady inclined her head, but her sharp eyes told Rhaegar that she was more wary than meek. "I trust your journey was uneventful?" The queen politely enquired.
"Save for the foolishness of a few pirates, completely uneventful," Jacaenor Veltaris replied smoothly. This caught his attention. Pirates...
His mother shared the same sentiments. "Was anyone harmed?" Rhaegar asked. "On our side, none." Lord Jacaenor spoke. "The pirates' ships caught fire, no doubt due to their own mismanagement. They burned before they could reach us."
Lord Tywin's eyebrow rose. "How fortunate," he said stiffly, descending from the dais. "I do hope that your stay shall be a pleasant one here in the Seven Kingdoms." His cool pale green eyes, flecked with gold, scanned the new arrivals.
Clearly, he had been hoping to intimidate. But Jacaenor met his gaze with an even one that matched perfectly. The king clapped his hands together. "Yes, a true sign of the gods, a miracle, meant to bring you here, and all those that would impede you shall be reduced to ash." Seraena's startled look went unnoticed before the king. Rhaegar winced inwardly. "For now we must have you settled. The negotiations-" he gave a sharp glance at Tywin. "Can wait."
Tywin bowed. "As you wish, your grace." Jacaenor bowed as well, and his sister performed an exquisite curtsy, smooth as silk and water.
Once the guests had been escorted into their chambers, the breathless whispers, full of awe, shock, amazement and disbelief, grew into a frenzy. Rhaegar turned towards his mother. His father was mumbling something beneath his breath about this being a sign of the gods... Fire and blood... Rhaegar dared not think about how his father thought of that particular incident. In all likelihood, the pirates were Tyroshi. And Tyrosh had been the seat of Maelys Blackfyre's recent rebellion.
But surely they would not dare harm a bride of House Targaryen, at least without the Blackfyres' support?
But Rhaegar did not have time to think as the guests went away. His bride-to-be met his eyes. There was a searching, a curiosity that was far from unintelligent in her luminous orbs. It stunned him because no other woman he had seen nor met, highborn or low, had ever looked at him in such a way.
"What do you think of her?" Rhaella asked once they had left the throne room for the privacy of her quarters.
"Of the Lady Seraena?" Rhaegar asked warily.
"Yes." Rhaella paused. "She is... Infinitely more beautiful than I expected. She may outshine Shiera Seastar in beauty. Although this may cause problems."
"Men duelled for the right to sit beside her. They killed themselves after falling from her favour. Poets competed and outdid themselves in writing songs about her beauty. And Bloodraven and Bittersteel fought to the bitter ends in order to possess her. Beauty, Rhaegar, incites wildness, weakness and the very worst in men and women alike. By this time tomorrow, word will have spread beyond the capital. People would kill themselves for a passing glimpse of her, and compete for her favour. As her husband, this will prove very challenging. I cannot say if the lady is as chaste as Queen Naerys or brazen as Shiera Seastar. But it matters little as they will still grow wild and mad over this maid. You, Rhaegar, will be the most envied man in Westeros," she warned. "Do not take this lightly, as this will mean men will hate you, for no reason other than envy and a lust which may never be sated."
Seraena had had to endure a lot over the next few days.
Apart from negotiations over the bride price and dowry, a frenzy had settled that went far beyond King's Landing. Word had spread about a beauty. A beauty formed by the gods on high that descended onto the earth to become the bride of a future king. A goddess, beyond words, fairer than any maid in history, songs and poetry, a beauty who caused awestruck and dazzled people all throughout the world to flock towards the Red Keep in eagerness and desperation, to see the haunting, heartbreaking and breathtaking creature whose radiant loveliness was said to illuminate the skies and cause the very air to be stolen from the breaths of others... As if Seraena would actually come and stand on the crenellations or the parapets of the Red Keep for all to see. Queen Rhaella was right, beauty drove people wild and mad beyond recognition.
As if that wasn't enough, servants and even courtiers constantly popped near Seraena's chambers, asking their servants constantly whether Seraena needed mulled wine, perfumes, bed-linen or silks for her embroideries.
The next few days were a frenzy of activity. Apart from attending negotiations, more suited for the haggling of markets, than those of courts and emissaries, the Veela-witch had had to endure the gaping, gawking, whispering, and wildly exaggerated tales (in Seraena's opinion), about her.
Word had spread throughout King's Landing and beyond, that a formed by the gods, had descended upon the earth to become a future queen. A beauty who caused awestruck and dazzled peoples to flock towards the Keep in eagerness and desperation to search out the haunting, heartbreaking and breathtaking lady who was said to illuminate the very skies with her appearance. And cause the air to be stolen from the breaths of others… As if she would be standing on the parapets or the crenellations of the castle walls, the masses crowded to and around the Red Keep. Guards had had to deal with intruders breaking into the palace several times in order to catch a glimpse of the bride-to-be. Servants appeared at Seraena's doors constantly asking her handmaidens if she needed mulled wine, lemon cakes, bed linen and silk for embroideries. They tried to crowd the gardens below beneath what a few knew to be her window, until her own servants barred the doors and shuttered the windows closed before moving her into another chamber. They had already had to arrest intruders foolish and bold enough, to run near her quarters without permission.
As mentioned, Seraena was used to people gawking, staring and craning their necks to see her, whilst falling silent. But this was on a whole new level. She could not disappear, retreat as she normally did in Lys and France. As the prince's bride she was expected to put up a public appearance. And while she wasn't in her chambers, she was being constantly beautified in preparation for her wedding. Hair potions, magical masques, steam baths, manicures and pedicures, fixing her hair and magically sewing her trousseau and wedding gown, all the while ensuring that no intruder ever came through with magic, took its toll. It left Seraena drained.
She saw Prince Rhaegar at negotiations. They were clearly negotiating bride prices and the dowry and Seraena could not see the reason for all this pointless babble save in concern with anyone's pride.
No party could afford to back down. No party could afford to seem weak and to make what they had to offer appear cheap. A royal title would not be enough for the Veltarises to trade the first daughter in several generations, to the Targaryens. She knew that many of her father's kin, while they did not interfere in their affairs, viewed the match between Prince Rhaegar and a daughter of their blood as a humiliation and an insult. The Targaryens had been lower in rank, by far, than the Veltarises in Old Valyria. So, while House Veltaris may be spread out and disunited, Jacaenor still needed to appease the family name and honour or else their branch would suffer the wrath of the rest of the family, whoever and wherever theymay be. Seraena did not keep track of her father's relatives.
At the same time, Lord Tywin Lannister, the king's Hand, held a grudge. According to the gossip Jacaenor had implored Karina and Mira to find out, the castle courtiers and servants have all agreed that Lord Tywin had tried to wed his only daughter, a maid of twelve. Seraena tried not to wince at the implications of the young girl's age. Being wed at twelve or even betrothed was something she liked even less than arranged marriages.
But thankfully, though Lord Tywin and the Lannisters, seemed to think otherwise, King Aerys had rebuffed his offer. The king had once been firm friends with Lord Tywin Lannister and Lord Steffon, but years of envy and growing paranoia on the former's behalf directed towards Lord Tywin, had eroded that friendship. How long before he turned against him, Jacaenor had wondered.
It was treason, he admitted to Seraena, telling her she should never say these things out loud- at least not without her wards about. But at least now, Seraena wondered why Tywin was raising a steep dowry price…
Only to be countered by Jacaenor's demands of the bride price. Yet Jacaenor told his sister, it would be unwise to antagonise Lord Tywin further or to take him for granted. Aside from being the Hand of the King, Lord Tywin was also Lord Paramount of the Westerlands, Warden of the West and lord of the richest house in Westeros.
So the negotiations were more slippery and full of difficulty than anyone had anticipated. But the king had been determined. It seemed as if no one else was good enough to be his son's bride.
At long last, both parties had conceded. Seraena managed to use her calming influence on Jacaenor and to see through some tricks the Westerlands Lord had tried to lure them into along with his allies. But smoothing the negotiations was only the beginning.
As soon as that was done, the king announced that wedding preparations needed to start immediately.
"I hate this place," Jacaenor muttered as he threw down his doublet upon the bed.
Seraena gave him a look and promptly resumed unpacking. Karina came and took a painting away. She had made it herself, although it was not enchanted.
"Do you think the king is agreeable?" She asked. She would be unpacking for permanent residence this time.
Jacaenor snorted. "The king is most certainly never going to let you out of his sight now." He scoffed. "If he wishes he could marry you instead. Or make you his mistress," he warned.
Seraena cast a nervous glance around the room, before remembering she had cast anti-eavesdropping charms around the room. "You shouldn't say things like that," she warned. "Even with my magic. It's dangerous."
Jacaenor nodded but said: "Everything's dangerous now. You've won a prize in which every lady in Westeros aimed for. Some wish to be his wife- and those are the highest ladies in the land. Lord Tywin Lannister- the Hand of the King- had a daughter whom he proposed to wed to Prince Rhaegar once old enough."
Seraena stared. "How did you know that?" They had been there for less than four hours.
"I have to know," Jacaenor said impatiently. "Open your eyes, and stop being so innocent." Seraena's cheeks flushed, but Jacaenor did not give her a chance to answer back. "Open your eyes. Everyone is going to be scheming and plotting against you now. And you may think this an over-reaction, but I have no doubt assassinations or plots to discredit and humiliate you- even frame you for treason- is being conducted right now." At Seraena's appalled look he continued:
"Get used to it. You have to be at least one step ahead of everyone, friends, allies, enemies, rivals- even neutral bystanders. This isn't a society like ours. Here a woman's worth depends on her birth, her wealth, her beauty and fertility. You've already got the first three, but no one knows for certain if you have the fourth, and therefore every jealous or simply vindictive individual will seek to discredit you. There are highborn ladies in the Free Cities who have been poisoned- some while pregnant." He shot her a glare. "You have to be at least two steps ahead- anticipate so you can guard yourself. Neutralise your enemies if you cannot eradicate them."
"I can safeguard myself against poison," Seraena managed. "That's a start, but should anyone find out about your powers?" Jacaenor arched a brow. "They could burn you alive."
Seraena suddenly felt a chill settle upon the surface of her skin. "I would still survive." She managed.
"And be hunted all your life- or killed another way." Jacaenor shook his head. "You cannot ever stop fearing for your life now. Our parents should never have agreed to this. Mother should never have paraded you so shamelessly in front of visiting guests."
His voice was filled with regret. Jacaenor sat down upon the chair, exhaling and putting his face in his hands. Seraena came beside him.
"Jacaenor," she began, hand gentle upon his shoulder. He looked up at her. "I will take your advice. I will be careful."
"That's not enough. You need to appear innocent, and you need to get your husband on your side, at least." He insisted. "Provide him with a male heir as quickly as possible- more children is preferable. I assume you have potions that can help with the matter."
Taken aback, Seraena nodded. "Use them." Jacaenor insisted forcefully. "And remember: every lady here- especially as you are the foreigner- will be looking to usurp you and have the king and prince put you aside. The highest-born will be aiming to be Prince Rhaegar's wife. The less adequate ones aim to be his mistress. Everything depends on him- and on pleasing everyone by maintaining an innocent charade."
Just then, the door knocked. Both siblings nearly jumped. Seraena stiffened, as Jacaenor had his hand upon the knife belted at his waist. She shook her head. "Who is it?" He called.
"An invitation, my lord and lady." The servant called from the other side. Seraena nodded and Karina opened the door.
The servant handed a parchment scroll, sealed with red wax and a string. Seraena watched warily as Jacaenor read through it.
"The queen has summoned us for a private dinner in her chambers," he said shortly, tossing the scroll aside once the servant had left.
That night, Seraena was dressed in plum silk. It was so smooth it ran through her fingers like water. She had never felt anything so soft. But her palms were damp, and the amethyst-encrusted silver jewellery did not aid her in the slightest.
"What do you think she wants?" Seraena asked. She resisted the urge to rub her hands on her dress.
I am a witch. I am a Veela. I am the daughter of House Veltaris, she forcefully reminded herself.
"Firstly to find out what kind of wife her son will be gaining, and to see if you are a threat." Jacaenor replied calmly.
"A threat?" Seraena was bewildered. "Why would she consider me a threat?"
They were being escorted by two kingsguard and the servant as they made their way to the part of the castle known as Maegor's Holdfast. It was a fortress within a fortress. The walls were twelve feet thick by the looks of them, surrounded by a moat filled not with water, but with deadly spikes ready to impale anyone unfortunate enough to fall. The only way in or out was through the drawbridge. The royal family's quarters resided within Maegor's Holdfast.
"She might think that you are about to usurp her authority and place, over the court, over her country, over her son…" Jacaenor gave her a look. "At times like this, I am glad I am a man. At least we think and deal with our rivalries head-on. You will be confused." Thank Merlin he was speaking in Lyseni.
"Thank you, my dearest brother," Seraena said sarcastically. "Now can we focus on meeting the royal family?"
They arrived at an intricately carved pair of heavy wooden doors. Two knights stood on duty. Seraena saw the cloak that flowed from their shoulders, white as snow. The Kingsguard.
Immediately they opened the doors. They needed no introduction. Inside Queen Rhaella was there, conversing quietly with her son Prince Rhaegar.
Rhaegar Targaryen turned. It appeared to be a Targaryen custom for him to wear blacks and red. Admittedly, it looked much more elegant than if he had shown up in robes of peach, pale blue or orange. Black was always elegant and he stood straight and tall, broad-shouldered and regally impressive in black trousers, a black silk knee-length caped jerkin with large, open sleeves and boots polished to a shine. The three-headed Targaryen dragon was emblazoned in front. It wasn't overly ornamented but it was respectful and tasteful enough not to offend the most critical. Yet what Seraena liked was that while he did appear respectful, he did not wet-comb his hair or oil it until it was drenched, nor did he dress in such frippery. He was not showing off to impress her. This was no braggart.
But it might not mean that they would be agreeable to each other.
Queen Rhaella turned. Seraena saw that she had indigo half-circles beneath her eyes. She looked tired. Yet she was kind. "Greetings and welcome once more." The queen said warmly. Seraena curtsied and Jacaenor bowed. The queen's eyes never left hers, but Seraena did not relax nor allow herself to look at the prince. She was too wary to be at ease.
"Please, sit." The queen invited, and the servants pulled out the chairs for them to sit down. "I understand that it is very different here in King's Landing than in Lys."
"Different, your grace, but it does not necessarily mean 'bad.'" Seraena informed.
Queen Rhaella's eyebrows rose in interest. "Oh? And are you eager to learn more."
"I am always eager to learn." Seraena said evenly meeting the queen's gaze and holding it calmly. "I have always sought to learn."
"My sister is a voracious reader and a scholar," Jacaenor explained. He took a sip from his chalice. "She has already learned about not merely Westeros, but the peoples and lands of the known world."
"Truly?" Queen Rhaella laughed lightly. "Then I believe the two of you have something in common." She glanced at her son.
Seraena blinked. Rhaegar asked her. "Which books and subjects do you enjoy?"
Surprised, Seraena answered. "Many things. I enjoy learning of the customs, beliefs and lands of different peoples in Essos, the Summer Isles, Sothyros and here in Westeros. I have spoken with peoples from various parts of the known world when they were invited to my parents' estate. I always sought to question them."
Rhaegar looked surprised and even impressed. "I always wished to travel to distant parts of the world to learn, but of course, that was not possible." She managed to keep the resentment from her voice.
Of course, she travelled, but it was always in secret, with few companions, heavy disguises and disillusionment charms, and constantly having to confund just about everyone on her whereabouts.
Rhaegar was gazing at her with a look on his face which she could not decipher. Jacaenor, his eyes flicking from Rhaegar to her, cleared his throat.
"In any case, sister, you are already in Westeros, surely this is exciting and adventure enough?" He pressed, with the slightest bit of insistence that suggested that he did not truly appreciate Rhaegar's fascination turning up a notch.
Before Seraena could respond, servants appeared bearing platters of food. There were crab pies, steaming hot; pheasant basted with honey, herbs and spices; a salad of sweetgrass, apples and rosemary; fish poached in wine-red sauce with oranges, lemons and pepper. It smelt quite good, much to Seraena's relief. But now she remembered that she was in severe danger of poison. As sumptuous as the meals in King's Landing were, they were like the courtiers; they could mask foulness with charm and beauty.
The queen did not seem to be overly concerned. The wine server came to refill their glasses, not that Seraena's required refilling. The wine was also good, she noticed as she sipped cautiously.
In any case, she kept antidotes to common and rare poisons to be certain.
"Oh, do forgive my neglect of my manners," the queen suddenly stated. She gestured to the kingsguard knights. "May I present Ser Barristan Selmy and Prince Lewyn Martell of Dorne?"
They bowed their heads. Jacaenor nodded politely towards them. "Indeed, even act is a great honour," Seraena stated. "Indeed, both your names ring with them even across the Narrow Sea."
As well it should. Barristan the Bold was the knight who defeated the last of the Blackfyre pretenders: Maelys the Monstrous, Seraena remembered. The Blackfyres were a thorn on the side of House Targaryen and the peace of Westeros in general. Born to a rebellious princess and her dissolute, debaucherous cousin (who would be the most inept king ever to sit upon the Iron Throne), the first Daemon Blackfyre had featured in the histories of the Seven Kingdoms as an acknowledged bastard (or love-child as the people in her previous life more commonly knew them as). He had been given the name of Aegon the Conqeuror's blade, when his father bestowed the sword upon him. He had risen in rebellion against his half-brother when denied the woman he loved- Princess Daenerys, his half-sister who was wed to Prince Mors Martell of Dorne- whose descendant was apparently the other knight in this room. He had the colouring of the Rhoynish peoples and Seraena marveled at his desire to be a kingsguard knight.
"Prince Lewyn's sister is the ruling princess of Dorne," Queen Rhaella continued the conversation between bites as they ate. "And one of my oldest and dearest friends. Alas, the princess has passed, but her son holds Dorne as its ruling prince."
And once more Seraena could not help but admire the Rhoynar- and the Dornish- for this. She had heard that muggles looked down upon the female gender. But not the Dornish.
"I believe your niece and nephew will be there for the wedding, Prince Lewyn," the queen said pleasantly. "It will be wonderful for them to join us."
"Yes, your grace." Prince Lewyn had a slight accent which Seraena thought sounded somewhat exotic and enticing. Yet he wore the very armour of a traditional western knight.
"My lady," Prince Rhaegar spoke. She turned her gaze away from the Dornish prince and towards Prince Rhaegar. "You have yet to see Dragonstone or Summerhall or even the rest of the city." His eyes were very deep and piercing. "Would it perhaps please you to accompany me on a tour of the city on the morrow?" He asked.
Seraena was stunned to say the least. Rhaegar did not seem like a besotted boy, yet she knew from her own experience in Beauxbatons, that no one was actually immune at first. Even if they did recover from her Veela charm.
"With Lord Jacaenor's agreement, of course." Rhaegar looked at him and Jacaenor knew that he could not refuse.
"Why ever not?" He asked. "I believe in any case, that I must send a message back to our family, informing them of the results of the negotiations. In addition to this, I must see the final preparations in regards to the dowry and the bride price as well as the traditional inheritance my sister is entitled to as a daughter of our house." He looked at her.
Rhaegar nodded in understanding, but Seraena was too surprised other than to nod her head. "Thank you, your grace." She managed. "That is very kind."
After a dessert of strawberries and peaches in cream, the queen bade them good night and Prince Rhaegar- as was protocol, kissed her hand. His lips seemed warm, even burning hot to the touch as they landed on the cool surface of her skin. His indigo eyes met hers and Seraena wondered what she was in for.
Seraena had placed countless wards around her quarters, Jacaenor's and their entourage. She remembered that servants would often be sent to summon her, and kingsguard knights, but she ensured that the spells only affected those with hostile intents.
She then went on to sleep but her dreams were turbulent; restless and disturbing, like a hurricane.
She dreamt of fire, dire rising to the sky, tongues of flame licking up to the moon.
She dreamt of ice, frosty blue hail and snow, so freezing and thick it blocked out the sky and buried the land under countless layers.
She dreamt of a man garbed in red and black armour, dark purple eyes sparkling. Rhaegar was smiling at her warmth radiating out from him. A blessed distraction and temperature from the ice and the fire.
She dreamt of his voice. "You know what guides us," and "The dragons has three heads."
Suddenly, a cloud of fire turned green, an impure, terrifying, poisonous green, every bit as dangerous as the Killing Curse, if not more so. The fires rose, threatening to engulf the castle.
She dreamt of three eggs, laid within three cradles.
She dreamt of the figure of a woman dressed in the finest silks and Myrish lace, a crown on her head, a dragon on her shoulder. It gave a cry, a shrill, screeching sound that echoed throughout the stone halls.
Then the fire was back; green and choking, and the ice, the ice which stung and stabbed worse than any Valyrian steel sword. It threatened to choke her, to weigh her down, to burn her and kill her all at once.
The fire on one side, the ice on the other, and the sound of voices like crackling ice amidst the shriek of the dragons in the distance. She knew they were coming closer. She just didn't know who would reach her first.
And she saw the Iron Throne, dark, sickening, menacing and threatening; uncontained, unlimited, mad power. The madness which threatened to spread. It towered above all and she struggled to escape its shadow. And within the towering, dark and grim monstrosity, a man was seated, wearing a heavy crown of red-gold with three dragon heads, their eyes gems. His hair and beard had grown long, scraggly and matted; his long, talon-like fingernails grasping the arms of the throne, blood seeping from his fingers and dripping onto the floor to mingle with the blood which had already pooled there. Blood, which she realised in horror, that flowed like a river into a sea or ocean full of blood… And an island of corpses and ash.
She was surrounded by them. And then the flames were back and the cracking ice and snow. She was surrounded with it, as she was surrounded by the piles of corpses. Corpses, which she saw in horror, which began to shudder and move, to pull themselves to their feet and reach out towards her.
The fire rose higher as did the ice and snow.
A fevered glint was spotted within the man's eyes- a horribly familiar, maniacal glint in his lilac eyes. "BURN THEM ALL!" He yelled as Seraena gasped, jolting herself awake.
She recognised that voice: it was Aerys.