UPDATE: Okay. To all my good readers and supporters, I'm sorry, but I have to address this issue.
First off, I'm not making any money or profit from this. the only reason I'm doing this is to stretch my creative writing abilities further, and because of those that offer me support and CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.
I have had it with the abuse, and I'm sick and tired. To all the haters, or rather, this one:
LISTEN UP, YOU UGLY LITTLE CUNT. LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE. I DON'T SEE YOU WRITING, ESPECIALLY AFTER RECOVERING FROM HOSPITAL TREATMENTS WHILE HAVING TO MANAGE A HOTEL 24 HOURS SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.
SO WHAT RIGHT DO YOU HAVE TO THREATEN AND ABUSE ME OVER A STUPID FUCKING STORY ON THE INTERNET? OR ANY OF THE OTHER AUTHORS WHO HAVE GOTTEN IN TOUCH WITH ME AND COMPLAINED THE SAME THING- JUST BECAUSE WE DON'T SATISFY YOUR PORNOGRAPHIC TASTES- YES, I'VE BEEN TO YOUR PROFILE. IT'S TASTELESS PORN AND YOU CAN'T EVEN WRITE. YOU DON'T HAVE WHAT IT TAKES.
IF YOU DON'T LIKE OUR STORIES, THEN FOR FUCK'S SAKE, DON'T READ. CAN'T SAY IT ENOUGH. IT'S SIMPLE. DON'T HARASS THE AUTHORS. THIS ISN'T TOLERABLE ESPECIALLY AS WE ARE NOT DOING THIS FOR YOU! WE HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO, I HAVE A LIFE AND A JOB, I'M STILL IN RECOVERY, SO PEOPLE WHO HAVE LIVES TO LIVE ONLY ENTERTAIN YOU OUT OF THEIR OWN GOOD GRACES. YOU SHOULD BE THANKING US OR OFFER CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM RATHER THAN ACT LIKE THEY'RE THE KING OF THE WHOLE FUCKING WORLD.
I DON'T NEED TO BE THREATENED OR ABUSED OVER A STUPID STORY ON THE INTERNET.
To all the readers that do offer me support and constructive criticism, I am sorry for this ugly rant. I've tried blocking this 'author' (note the quote marks, please), and reporting for abuse on the site and review page. Obviously it didn't work.
Disclaimer: You don't need me to say this. I'm obviously not making any money out of this.
Seraena Veltaris, otherwise known as Gabrielle Delacour was too afraid to dream.
She lay in bed, staring at the unfamiliar arches of the ceiling and pondered the meaning of what she had experienced that day.
Cedric Diggory… Alive and in Westeros, the heir of a Lord Paramount. Two others… Possibly Harry's parents, possibly not.
Cedric Diggory had been a kind, compassionate, honourable and loyal person, based on what she had seen. If she hadn't been too busy blushing and feeling all warm, tingly and in awe over and around Harry (she blushed at her eight-to-eleven-year-old self- as Gabrielle), she might have even liked Cedric. But Gabrielle Delacour (thank goodness), was never the sort of person to fawn and drool over every boy that walked past, nor up to her. She'd fought and come dangerously close to losing her dignity and her sanity during her school years, and it was a hard-won battle. Seraena smiled grimly at the reminder. Life had taught her hard lessons.
In France, Gabrielle and Fleur were as different as night and day, Yin and Yang. They might have looked alike, were very close and shared blood, but both sisters had developed very differently. Yet they both had the same experiences. Ostracism, gossip, cruel and vicious rumours, pranks and being targeted. How many times did her homework get torn and her belongings taken and ripped, destroyed or displayed shamefully for her humiliation in front of the Great Hall. She still felt the heat when she remembered the time her diary went missing and saw Michelle holding it and reading out loud to a hilariously laughing audience… She remembered the times she panicked when she saw her homework was purposely ripped, torn, smudged, stolen or incinerated, along with her bag, ink bottles, quills, et cetera. Or the times she had ended up in the infirmary, hexed or jinxed, bruised, battered and bleeding- even burned. Luckily the teachers were sympathetic, but Seraena remembered the treatment had only gotten worse…
Especially in regards with boys. Boys and men. Her violet eyes darkened at the memories. Girls had been spiteful and envious in the treatment of her, to the point of sadistic, but the boys were crude, horrible, perverted and increasingly dangerous to be around. Especially if they were drunk or highly intoxicated. In the end, Madame Maxime (bless her), had heard. They had been suspended, even expelled. The parents had threatened (with death), Gabrielle, Fleur (in her time), their parents and so forth. This had been put in front of the Ministry, even. But fortunately, the Ministry in France was not so corrupt (or had de-corrupted itself by the time Gabrielle's tormentors were brought to trial), and they were punished.
But their argument was that the Veela-bitches should have known better than to show up in a school full of children and not expect anyone to react accordingly.
Fleur had fought, brave, fierce Fleur, determined not to give any more crumbs to the crows, and fought to prove herself the best to fight to become more than just 'eye-candy' a sex toy or worse. Gabrielle had been overwhelmed, as much as she hated to admit it. She had crumbled. She had been in and out of the infirmary not merely for physical injuries (that happened though), but shock, trauma, a nervous breakdown, depression and numerous issues. Her hands tightened around the bedcovers just thinking about the time those boys… It was a close call, far too close. She knew what would have happened if their Potions Master had not chosen to retreat to the Dungeons from the staff room a few minutes earlier. She would have been raped. And a Part-Veela… Well, Gabrielle had been shy, not like Fleur and Apolline. They were good at using beauty as their weapon and grace their armour. She just wanted to be left in peace.
Gabrielle had learnt a painful lesson by the time she graduated: never trust anyone and always watch your back. Especially if they were interested in you, or envious. Because they never truly wanted you. Ever. They only wanted to use you.
Fleur had been lucky to find Bill. She had succeeded. She may not have won the tournament but she had become a champion. She may not have killed Voldemort but she had fought in the war. Gabrielle had been eleven by the time the war ended. Fleur had just gotten married. Fleur had shown the world. She got the happy ending she deserved.
But why did it have to be Gaby that ended up in this world?
Seraena wondered… If she had been older… If she had been stronger… If she had been anything like Fleur… But her experiences had made it difficult to trust anyone, even Rhaegar Targaryen. She bit her lip.
Sitting up, she allowed her long silver hair to flow freely past her shoulders.
Rhaegar Targaryen was about to be her husband, whether she liked it or not. She had promised that she would give him the benefit of the doubt. She had also promised that should he prove… Unsavoury as did those boys in Beauxbatons, she would not stand for it.
She would never stand for it. Never again. Enough was enough. If, despite everything (she had experienced betrayal of trust before), Rhaegar betrayed her, she would disappear.
Seraena stood and walked over to the dressing table, her footsteps soft.
Her mirror showed her reflection, glowing eerily, in her eyes, in the moonlight. Lovely she might have been to the eyes of others, but Seraena had developed a habit of avoiding her own reflection whenever she could- unless she was preparing to look presentable (though with Karina she never looked anything less). Seraena opened the box sitting on the dressing table.
Inside were vials, some small bottles. Potions she had prepared herself.
Lady Saera had advised her to become pregnant as quickly as possible, and to bear as many sons as she could. But if Rhaegar Targaryen proved to be a man like the ones she had experienced, then she would not give a whit if she died a maid. Oh no. Seraena felt her lips twitch at the implication. How would they all love that? Her fingers trailed, ghostly pale, against the glass of one vial.
A contraceptive. A highly efficient one. To prevent pregnancy. She did not know what methods the Westerosi used, or the common Lyseni, but she knew this well enough. Highly effective, simple, easy to make, and much safer than anything the muggles could think of. If Rhaegar Targaryen was as unsavoury as the boys she had met, then she would not think twice of depriving him of herself or any heirs before 'dying.' Besides, she would not leave any child, especially if she was the mother, in a court of poisonous backstabbers and schemers. Or if she already had one or more, then they would leave with her. Let Westeros' feudal society burn to the ground. She would take her children with her. She would never abandon them. Ever.
On the other hand, if she did decide to stay… Her fingers strayed onto another bottle. She would have drink this… To ensure her safety and her survival. Seraena loathed the idea of conceiving a child- using a child- her child no less- to ensure her survival in court, but her mother was right. She needed heirs to give to House Targaryen.
Seraena sighed and shut the case.
Time enough to decide, she thought wearily, slipping back into bed.
In hindsight, she should have taken a potion for Dreamless Sleep.
Because she had the same dream again.
Only this time, the images ran through faster in Seraena's mind. Not only the ice, the fire, the fire as green as the Killing Curse, Aerys on his throne, but something else entirely.
She saw amidst the ice a wall so high it could have been made of mountains. Only it was ice, and it could only have been carved through artifice- magic.
The ice and sleet blurred her vision, but she saw the image of a dog, a very large dog… No, it was a wolf. An extremely large wolf, and her heart leapt to her throat. The wolf's eyes were grey and striking.
The wolf had the shadow of a man.
There was a young couple nearby. They clasped each other's hands for comfort. Seraena could not make out their faces, but they stood in front of a forest of black, barren trees.
She was beginning to hate her dreams.
Fire rose to the sky, normal fire this time, well, if you could call an inferno normal. It rose higher and Gaby felt the scorching heat. The fire stood in the shadow of a castle, large enough and burnt black, terrifying in the demonic light.
Seraena heard screeching in the distance. Screeching and roars of some animal.
A dragon, she thought. No, more than one.
She remembered the noises well enough. Gabrielle had befriended Bill's brother Charlie and shared his fascination, despite what had almost happened to Fleur, with dragons. She'd visited Romania enough and was even stationed there as a healer (for keepers and dragons). It felt like an adventure.
Fire washed over Gabrielle- no, Seraena- she was getting confused- but it wasn't painful. She relished it, basked in its warmth as it made her feel clean. She felt cleansed of everything foul and bad in her life. It gave her courage.
Seraena woke to Karina shaking her shoulder. Her handmaiden's breathtaking liquid gold eyes met hers beneath the veil she had hastily thrown on. It was time to prepare for the wedding.
She had undergone countless beauty treatments until she glowed and shone brighter than before- and that was saying something. The mixture Seraena had made was poured over her hair, after it was washed, and then brushed and combed until it drifted like pure silk. Her nails were trimmed, manicured and polished. Seraena didn't bother to keep track.
Whatever dreams she had had… They were no longer important. What mattered now was getting through this day and her life as Rhaegar Targaryen's wife.
She sighed as Karina tended to her hair gently. She loved the feel of Karina's fingers. But she knew her handmaiden did not deserve to spend the rest of her life tending to her. None of them did. Karina was also born free, and a lady to boot.
Seraena stood as Karina touched upon her wedding gown to ensure that no stitch of lace or jewel was out of place. The countless beauty treatments she had undergone for a fortnight consisted of bottles of cosmetic potions and charms to make her skin even more flawless, even more luminous, with a slight dusting of fairy powder to enhance her Veela glow. Her hair had been washed scented and styled with Apolline's old potion recipe and now cascaded in gentle waves and very loose curls, brushed past her shoulders and hanging past her waist. There was a rosy glow on her cheeks and lips, as if she had been out in the snow.
There wasn't really much anyone could do when they were part-Veela, Seraena thought wryly. It was one thing she was grateful for. She turned to change into the gown.
Seraena sighed. These past few days had seen moments of quiet bliss where she and Rhaegar would often ride together and he would show her the palace grounds and more of the city. But the kingsguard had been tripled and the king had insisted on keeping her on a tight leash- an exceptionally tight leash.
Imagine her surprise when several septas appeared after knocking on her door, apparently they had been sent here by order of the king and the recommendation of the High Septon- to teach her all there was about the Faith of the Seven. Seraena cursed her apparently complimentary words when she had visited the Great Sept. The High Septon had taken those words to heart and sought a way to keep the future queen under his leash, and the king took the opportunity to gave her more chaperones, guards and spies who would report back to him. Seraena had had to confund them in order to have some privacy. It was clear the king was paranoid! He was getting on her nerves!
She smelt fragrant by the time she and her handmaidens were finished, and she felt clean and fresh- and outrageously beautiful too. Her complexion outshone the moon, and the tiny fractures of light cast by glittering fairy dust not only added to her shimmering quality but accentuated her best features, including her fine, elegant cheekbones and the colour in her lips and cheeks. Her eyes appeared bigger, framed by her brows, her lashes thicker, longer and blacker. She was an ornament; a prize. I'm going to be a bride, she thought.
She fought the urge to grimace.
Fleur had been a bride. A joyful happy one. She'd had a happy marriage too. But Fleur had married for love. She knew Bill.
Seraena still couldn't get a clear idea of the man she was about to marry. Yes, he knew her secret, but what were his motives? Why would he keep such a secret? His own benefit?
What would happen to her?
It was unlikely, she thought as she changed, that Rhaegar would betray her to the Faith of the Seven. Nor intentionally make her secret public. He may wish to keep her gift by himself, and why then would he marry her? She doubted that even a prince would be protected if everyone suspected him of possessing magic powers.
Outside, the Red Keep was scrubbed so clean that the floors, ceilings and walls practically glittered. Rich tapestries decorated the walls, embroidered in gold and silver thread, the rushes in the Queen's Ballroom were fresh and sweet-smelling. Fresh flowers and herbs from Highgarden were strewn about or arranged in large vases imported from Myr, glazed and brightly painted; while trestle tables, large ones, were being scrubbed thoroughly with soap and lye; and countless ingredients were scrutinised, tasted and approved of, before being sent off into the kitchens and cellars.
Countless gifts had been sent to the capital: silks from Lys and Yi Ti, books from the Citadel in Oldtown, lace and glassware from Myr and tapestries too, and from Norvos as well, the best wines from Dorne and the Arbour. King's Landing was a mad flurry of activity planning the most lavish wedding in centuries. Not even the king's own marriage had been so grand.
People from all over the Seven Kingdoms and beyond were flocking to see her. Even the stiffest nobles were curious. Most of them were willing and eager to take advantage of her.
Seraena reminded herself that she was no helpless fool.
Part of her wanted to cringe and sink, hide within a box.
Another part reminded her she was- and remained- a Veela witch. She was also the blood of dragon-lords. She should not be afraid.
Today, she was a bride. Her wedding gown was made of the finest silk, pure white and simple but very beautiful and elegant. It had a very fitted bodice and a gently flared skirt with a train. The skirt was covered in places with rich but fine Myrish lace forming patterns like roses in bloom and myrtles, embroidered with pearls, crystals from Lys, and mother-of-pearl in ornate but delicate patterns. Mostly, the fine material simply showed but the lace and adornments were prevalent in the bodice, parts of the skirt and the hem. Karina nodded. "The veil." She said softly.
Seraena wanted something as a reminder of her old life. Lyseni did not wear cloaks for their wedding day, and neither did the Valyrians. But to show up with absolutely nothing (which she had) to indicate her status would be- as Queen Rhaella pointed out- be the subject of potentially damaging gossip to the Westerosi. She had decided upon a veil, woven by magic. It was beautiful, so white and clear it seemed to wink and float, iridescent in the sunlight, gossamer edged in Myrish lace. She'd always loved French lace. It was a reminder.
A knock on the door startled her. She nearly jumped. Jacaenor's voice sounded and Karina allowed him in.
He froze and inhaled sharply. Seraena was used to such a reaction, but not from him. He managed a smile. "For your wedding day. A gift from our parents."
He handed her a polished box inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Inside, nestled on a bed of velvet, lay a tiara, richly glittering with moonstones and diamonds. What?!
Seraena froze. Fleur had worn such a tiara- on her wedding day. How was this possible? A similar tiara for her carried through time and space? She nearly shook as she took the box, her eyes doubtless, were massive.
Something or someone was responsible for this. The same one that was responsible for her rebirth surely. Her mind drifted to the Chief Lector in Egypt. Did he…
"It looks beautiful, but it dulls compared to you," Jacaenor said tenderly, as he with Karina's help, placed it on her head. "Thank you," she managed.
The door knocked. In came the ladies Queen Rhaella had chosen for her. They were Lady Ashara Dayne, Princess Elia Martell, Lady Mina Tyrell and Lady Lilian Tully- the one that looked like Harry's mother. And, the uneasy feeling returned, based on what she had found out…
Their reactions were, of course, predictable. Even the most sensible would gasp and lose their breaths (and their heads), over her appearance. Seraena simply smiled and pulled the veil over her face (not that it hid her completely).
They proceeded to the Red Keep in a palanquin which Seraena found bumpy and hated. Even horse-drawn carriages were better than these poor men lugging her around. But the streets of King's Landing were littered with holes and loose stones. A carriage would tip in no time, but experienced litter-bearers were less likely.
When it drew to a stop, the doors slid open and a knight (Ser Selmy quite possibly), helped her out. Seraena straightened, keeping her eyes lowered and wary so she would not trip, while all the reactions were doubtless predictable. She knew she should smile and wave, but she couldn't do anything, not right now. If she saw the crowd…
Stop this, she ordered herself firmly. Remember who you are.
Those words echoed in her father's voice as she mounted the steps of the Great Sept.
She nearly started when Lady Ashara handed her a bouquet of flowers. The Dornish noblewoman smiled gently in reassurance as she stepped backwards. Seraena nodded mutely and turned to face the front as the doors swung open. Jacaenor, she dimly registered, was by her side. He had taken her hand.
Do brides typically feel like this? She wondered. Did Fleur and her mothers? Both of them? They entered into the Hall of Lamps, the bright, pulsing, eerie lights boring down upon her before they reached the main chamber. Again, the doors swung open and of course, their reaction was predictable, but even more intense than usual. Granted, she and Karina had taken special care of her appearance today.
Jacaenor gently gripped her hand and Seraena found herself back next to him once more. She felt as if she had been disconnected from her body, she had not realised it until then.
They glided down, past the others. It was an unbearably long walk. Seraena barely remembered to acknowledge everyone and thank heavens she did. A small smile and a gracious nod may seem trivial, but she could not afford to offend anyone, especially as a foreigner. Larra Rogare's story had been enough to warn her.
Finally they reached the space between the altars of the Father and the Mother, their giant statues inlaid with gems and staring down at them. Candles were placed on every altar, most especially these two today. Seraena stared at Rhaegar from beneath her veil.
Rhaegar stood, dark and magnificent in black leather boots and woollen trousers, doublet and cloak or tabard, lined with red silk and emblazoned with the Targaryen three-headed dragon in red, shining through the black. The High Septon stood directly behind him, a crown of crystal and spun gold flashing with colours in the sunlight. Rhaegar himself looked blown away at the sight of her, but afterwards blinked and gave her a smile of astonishment. She could only manage a small smile in return. Her knees had never felt so weak.
She'd faced the worst horrors, and there she was, afraid of marriage to this man. She could laugh at the absurdity.
The prayers began. The High Septon swung his censor full of incense, reminding her of the cathedrals in France. But there were no rings, no romantic words there and now. Instead seven blessings were given and seven songs in honour of the seven gods of Westeros, unknown and alien to her. Seven prayers were said, and seven vows uttered by the bride and groom right after Seraena had lifted her veil and Jacaenor had carefully unpinned it.
Rhaegar draped a cloak of black silk, the finest made, the three-headed Targaryen dragon in its centre, over her. The clasps were red-gold, fastened at her throat. It was done. She was married to him. She was a Targaryen.
She needed to let that sink in.
The septon pronounced them 'one flesh, one heart, one soul, now and forever.'
Rhaegar pledged his love through a kiss on her lips, and the bells started tolling as the people cheered outside. It was finally over. Rhaegar took her hand and off they went.
A larger, grander litter borne by more men appeared. He helped her inside and Seraena almost sighed in relief as the doors shut.
She looked at her new husband. Rhaegar looked at her nervously, as if waiting for her reaction.
"I'm not going to bite you," she said. He let out a hearty laugh at that which surprised her.
"I almost said the exact same thing," he retorted as he chuckled. Before long, Seraena had to giggle too.
At least, she thought, this didn't seem so bad. But was it real and would it last? She asked herself that as they made it through the crowds (it had taken nearly an hour, due to the masses), to the Red Keep. Rhaegar stepped out first and helped her out. She felt the weight of her gown and jewels overwhelming her and she was happy to be back inside the castle, full of intrigue as it was.
Lady Ashara smiled. She wore a gown of lavender silk gossamer which revealed her every charm and brought out her eyes. She looked lovely, even more than when Seraena had first seen her. Princess Elia was in amber, edged and embroidered in gold. The two of them looked happy and surprisingly unenvious of her. It was remarkable. Any other girl would have hated her, especially in Beauxbatons.
"May we offer our congratulations, your graces?" Lady Ashara's eyes twinkled. Elia laughed. "Indeed."
Seraena smiled genuinely. "Thank you, Princess Elia, Lady Ashara. I am glad to have you both with me today. You as well, Lady Mina and Lady Lilian," she remembered the other two ladies.
They smiled, curtsying. It reminded her of the disturbing resemblance between Lady Lilian Tully and Lily Evans Potter. "Congratulations, your graces," Lilian Tully at least seemed genuine. But was she really? And what about Lady Mina Tyrell? Did she wish to take advantage of her? Did she want her dead and wished to take her place? The Lannister girl- Cersei- certainly did.
She did not wish to trouble and sour this early stage of her marriage with those thoughts, she decided. She had to get along with Rhaegar. He led her inside and her new ladies ushered her away to help her prepare for the feast. The smell in the city wasn't so foul today, though that was probably because they cleaned the road between the Keep and the Sept and strewn it with flowers and sweet-smelling herbs. Her new quarters consisted of a large suite, but Seraena had little time to examine it as she donned a gown of iridescent silk which first began as deep purple, before fading to lilac, rose and dark crimson, girdled with delicate silver chains. It was cool enough and much lighter than the heavy wedding gown she had worn. For now, she could relax and enjoy the party.
Outside, the gathering of lords and ladies greeted them. Mace Tyrell, the lord of Highgarden jumped eagerly to be the first to offer his congratulations. Lord Tywin was cordial, and Lord Arryn too. She and Rhaegar had greeted the lords as they arrived before the wedding, and he had taken the time to inform and introduce her to each and every single one of them.
She didn't know if she could love him, but she was grateful to him for being there and for being a friend. Queen Rhaella kissed her, smiling happily.
Rhaegar smiled her and she had to admit she liked the way his eyes and smile lit up when he saw her. "Prince Rhaegar," she greeted. "Or is it just..." She trailed off teasingly. Rhaegar grinned. He kissed her. "I think you know what it is." He smirked. Cheers resounded through the crowd. They were already drunk or really.
"Shall we?" He extended his arm with a smile, and Seraena took it, also smiling. The two strode to the Great Hall amidst roars of approval and cheers bouncing off the walls.
Inside was amply decorated with garlands and wreaths, vases of flowers and ribbons. People stood when they entered, and a fanfare blew. Outside, more people flocked and cheered, like they did when she first arrived at the sept, calling blessings down upon them, and growing more rambunctious by the free food and wine Seraena and Rhaella had ordered distributed out towards the populace. Today was a day of celebration for them, and Seraena knew it was the start of something she had never experienced in both lives.
As soon as they were seated servitors entered, bearing platters, plates, bowls, trays and goblets of pure gold and silver, crystal, gorgeously engraved and inlaid with gems, like amethysts, rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds.
It was lavish and spectacular, to say the least. Dishes from all over the Seven Kingdoms and Essos were in display. Seraena suspected Aerys decided to go all out to show their wealth and power, and the success of this union to come. It was beyond lavish.
A dish from the Reach, of baked rosemary bread, or sops- bread fried with sweet butter and studded with flowers was presented to her. Seraena eyed it curiously.
"Best eat small quantities and slowly," Rhaegar whispered to her. "There will be many courses to come."
"How many?" She whispered.
"Probably seventy-seven." He answered. Seraena was stunned. Seventy-seven? And Fleur complained about the food at Hogwarts' feasts?
Thinking about Fleur, her first family in France and the one in Lys sent a pang through her heart. She forced herself to focus on the here and now.
A Dornish dish of flatbread, tender as a cloud, olives stuffed with goat cheese, oysters sauteed in olive oil with a squeeze of lemon juice on top was set in front of them. Crusty, hot pumpkin bread sprinkled with seeds from the Vale of Arryn; trenchers of meats spiced with pepper, garlic, onions and wrapped in bacon from the Riverlands; bits of bacon in a wine sauce spiced with honey and cloves with roasted vegetables from Lord Steffon's home; roasted quail basted in honey, cherries and cloves from the Westerlands; and roasted pork soaked in honey, raisins and cider from the North.
It seemed as if Aerys wanted everyone to eat their way through the seven kingdoms, Seraena thought as a harpist and a singer took the stage. It was a beautiful ballad and melody about two lovers in Valyria. But it was sung in High Valyrian and thus, few people could enjoy it.
She took Rhaegar's advice and merely sampled everything. It was a good thing too, because everyone carried the food around for all to share, so everyone took what they wanted, and they all had appetites this day.
Seraena spotted Tywin Lannister speaking with his son Jaime about something, his twin by his side. Lord Tywin's daughter would surely grow to be one of the most beautiful women in the Seven Kingdoms, with hair shining like spun gold, eyes as green as emeralds and striking classical features as finely chiselled as a porcelain dolls with perfect skin. Yet there was a proud haughtiness in her face, a scowl to boot which marred her looks. She was certainly dressed to impress, Seraena thought. Eating bits of rosemary and pumpkin bread with her long fingers, she would surely captivate any man who would dream of her feeding them. Cersei Lannister wore a rich gown of deep crimson velvet with thread-of-gold embroidered on her brocade sleeves and rubies.
By Gabrielle Delacour's standards, she was too young to be drinking. Especially in such a heavy amount.
Seraena had been so deep into her own thoughts she was almost startled when the next course came up. This one had a bigger portion than the first, but still not big for a main course. Delicate pastries, fresh from the ovens, stuffed with a filling of eggs, herbs and pork mince made by some Reachman; crabs boiled with fiery spices laid in a bed of leaves inspired by Dorne's food; pheasant with wine sauce and wild mushrooms, spinach and thyme made by Stormlander cooks; grilled trout poached in Arbour gold, truffles and peach sauce, a dish recommended by Lord Tully; walnut pastries sprinkled with cloves and cinnamon made by Lord Arryn's cook. Wild boar ribs in a sauce of honeyed wine- no doubt hunted by some Lannister kinsman of Lord Tywin's arrived in a blaze of glory while lamb baked in a crust of herbs and garlic, garnished with mint- all in the Northern style was presented regally but appeared more modest and less flamboyant.
The crabs reminded Seraena of home- of Lys. Despite her missing France, she also considered Lys her home. She did miss her mother with her constant fussing and crooning, even remembering the times she combed her hair. She missed her father with his calm, comforting presence that promised safety and warmth. She missed Aeramor and his peals of laughter, the merriment making the air around him shine, and his affectionate, gentle teasing, though he always looked out for her. She missed Belaegor, solemn and reserved, even distant as he was at times, though he always had a smile, and a warm and gentle word for her. And she would certainly miss Jacaenor when he left.
Seraena thought about the gentle waves of Lys, crashing softly on white sandy shores, lulling her to sleep, the fragrance of fruit trees and flowers, the sound of lavender water trickling from marble fountains. She smiled ruefully as she took a pastry. It was too late. She had to play her part or offend everyone.
The king clearly needed to impress. She didn't know how many courses there were, but she was nevertheless, irritated. If Fleur had complained about English food being too heavy, she needed to taste a bite of this. It was all delicious, and Fleur had been exaggerating, but Seraena knew the Westerosi were just too lavish in regards with their banquets.
I don't need any more strain on this night, she thought. But she remembered the bedding ceremony- where the men would strip the bride naked, and the women would do the same to the groom, and they would carry- or drag- them to the marriage bed. She was no stranger to being gawked at, but the shock of having strangers strip and laying their hands on her person had made her pale and quiver.
If only I could do something about that...
Her thoughts and plans flew out the window with the arrival of the next course. The next song came as well, a Myrish song but in the Common Tongue. And if it wasn't dessert, at least Seraena could be thankful for putting off the bedding ceremony. It was a salad course, and but strangely, salads must've been as common as horses in Westeros.
Why else would they have spinach, chickpeas and turnips in butter made by some Northern cook? Or sweet pumpkins, radishes, spinach leaves and apple slices, generously supplied by Lord Arryn, covered with shavings of nutmeg and cloves? Or that sweetgrass salad garnished with rose petals, and grapes, courtesy of that plump Lord of Highgarden? Or the Riverland greens, plums and raisins by an overly helpful 'Fish-Lord?' And Lord Lannister didn't appear stingy either, despite his stern demeanour, because he must've been responsible for at least lending the cook who supplied them the recipe for herbs, cherries and potato salad, tossed in some brandy sauce? At least the salad course was lighter, but by the time Seraena had eaten her portion of Dornish eggs flavoured with dragon-peppers, and a salad of greens, aromatic herbs, radishes and raisins, flavoured with lemon and orange slices, she had had more than enough.
Then she spotted the wine carried by servitors and she formulated a plan.
Seraena silently drew her wand beneath the table and confounded the servitors and many of the guests. "Accio sleeping potion," she murmured softly.
Seraena knew which wines would be served later. She beckoned Karina over. As the Lengish lady bent down, Seraena discreetly caught the bottle in her hand. She had plenty of practice in Romania.
"Please place this in the wines for dessert," she whispered. Karina smiled beneath her veil. No one would notice.
"At the climax there will be a wedding pie," Rhaegar informed her. "A pie?" What was wrong with a cake?
It may not be lighter, but knowing Westerosi and their love of pies...
The next one was filled with stews and meats. Lamb basted with honey, cherries and cloves inspired by Highgarden's cuisine; suckling pig with apples and turnips, taught by Westerlander coinnoiseurs, no doubt. A stew of beef, pease, garlic and onion which Riverlanders must've loved. A hearty Northern stew of pork, onions and capon; a pie stuffed with spiced squash, cheese, red fennel and pigeons, with ingredients from the Vale. The Stormlanders must've loved their meats too, judging by the amount of aurochs steaks there were, with radishes, herbs and honeyed apples. On the other hand, if this feast was helpful in geography at all, it was in realising that the Dornish loved their spices, judging by the fiery tastes that exploded on her tongue: of mustard seeds, dragon peppers, diced onions, oranges and lemon squeezed onto grilled lamb. This course wasn't so bad, but Seraena was sick and tired of having to make a show of enjoying and appreciating the food (without appearing to stuff herself), all the while trying to keep room for more. She was already feeling stuffed just watching people eat.
What are the crowds eating? She wondered. Are they feasting too on this day? Or is it just us?
The thought made her angry, that she willingly participated in and caused such a thing and who paid for this feast? The poor would go hungry before long.
Rhaegar pushed away his cup of wine. He did not wish to appear drunk tonight. Seraena could have kissed him for that alone. He smiled when he saw her watching him. "The food isn't too heavy, I hope?" He asked.
Seraena forced a smile. "I... Well, I've had lighter," she admitted truthfully. "I shall not need to eat for days to come," she informed him bluntly.
Rhaegar couldn't help the snort that burst from him. "At least someone had the right idea of preventing seventy-seven courses- with each dish from the Seven Kingdoms- from taking place in this banquet." He smirked.
Seraena stared. "Seventy-seven courses?" She whispered. "By the gods, how much food do you consume in Westeros? The books mentioned nothing on this!"
She would grow fat before long. Fleur had absolutely no reason to complain after feasting in Hogwarts. Not even at Christmas.
Again, Rhaegar could not help his laughter. "At least you've read all you need to know," he pointed dryly.
"At least I've learned that Dorne likes its spices, the North needs little of those, and the Vale of Arryn certainly has gourds that grow aplenty there," she pointed in return.
Rhaegar grinned. "See? A geography lesson."
"Through cuisine," Seraena watched as they wheeled in the dessert course- and she could've kissed someone for that. But she watched as a massive pie was wheeled in along with the sweets. And by massive, she meant MASSIVE. It was almost as large as a table itself, and not a small table.
Squeaks, thumps and other sounds emanated from the pie. Seraena stared.
"Come," Rhaegar offered her a hand.
Everyone, she could see, were stuffed. There was Cersei Lannister, scowling at something her father was saying as he glared sternly at her. There was Mina Tyrell in apple green with flowers of golden brocade talking with her mother and sister Janna. Ashara Dayne quieted her laughter and was eying the wedding couple and pie excitedly while not far away Elia Martell was speaking to a handsome dark-haired young man. Lilian Tully was speaking with Jacelyn Baratheon and one of the Stark siblings, but pulled away as soon as eyes were on her.
That same nervousness came forth. Was Lilian Tully who she thought she was?
Someone handed the prince a large knife- no, that was a sword. Rhaegar guided her hand and together they cut through the pie.
A cloud of birds burst forth. There were pigeons and doves, skylarks, songbirds and nightingales, sparrows and bluejays and a great parrot. The guests cheered and marvelled at the sight. Seraena knew Muggles didn't have magic, even to make the birds appear in her pie. Her mind wandered a lifetime away, at the Burrow in England, where Fleur's wedding cake had a pair of phoenixes joyfully taking flight when the cake was cut. Her heart constricted in sadness and pain, that Fleur, Aeramor, Belaegor, her first and second parents were not there to ease her loneliness and entry into this new life. This was her wedding day, yet it was infinitely more lavish and far more different than she had imagined it. In her first life, she had never given much thought into marriage, but if she would have dreamed of a ceremony it would've been like Fleur's. Simple, intimate, filled with family, friends and magic, all the guests ready to share and partake in their joy. Not for the privilege of witnessing pomp and pageantry or to view and grope her naked body.
Seraena took a deep breath. If the instructions she gave Karina were followed, then there was little to fear. They would not see her naked, much less grope her.
No, never again would she suffer the same abuse as in Beauxbatons. After her breakdown, Madame Maxime had had to stun her in order to prevent her from killing herself.
Part of Seraena wished she had killed the ones who abused her. They certainly deserved it.
Lemon cakes were brought, powdered with sugar and figs stuffed with almonds, the main ingredients fresh from Dorne. Baked, honeyed apples from the Reach; light airy puddings from the Vale of Arryn, like clouds covered in cinnamon sugar with plums and icing; spiced honey biscuits and blackberry tarts in cream which the North were accustomed to. And there were more: a tart stuffed with raspberries and garnished with sugar and mint, popular in the Riverlands; oatcakes drizzled with honey and cherries with a glass of red wine, which Lord Steffon smiled at. Peaches in Arbour gold and a sweet pie of quinces and peaches from the west, powdered in sugar. And there were sweet summer strawberries, blood oranges, pomegranates, quinces, apples, figs and pears besides. Seraena needed to admit it: she had a sweet tooth. But it would certainly be another lifetime when she next sampled chocolate. Now that was truly sad, she smiled to herself.
Tumblers, jesters, sword-swallowers, fire-jugglers and more accompanied the dessert and the singers. A theatre troupe set up a stage, audiences were laughing and calling for more wine. The more reasonable and sensible had gone off to bed, but the dessert was not yet over. The ones waiting for the bedding had remained and there were still plenty.
Jacaenor walked over. "A gift, from myself and my brothers, Belaegor and Aeramor." He beckoned it with his hand. "May I?"
Rhaegar nodded. "By all means, Lord Jacaenor."
Jacaenor strode forwards and announced: "To my lovely sister and her new husband, for their own purposes." He opened it with a flourish.
Everyone sober enough gasped. Inside, lay three huge eggs, the most beautiful objects Seraena had ever seen. They were so huge they required two hands to hold one, at first she thought they were crusted with jewels, patterned in such rich colours as they were, they seemed to be made out of fine porcelain, delicate enamel or even blown glass, but they were heavier than that, as if made of polished stone. The surfaces were covered with tiny scales, and as Seraena picked one up, they shimmered like polished metal. One egg was a deep green with burnished bronze flecks that came and went depending on how she turned it, another a pale cream streaked with gold. The last egg was black, black as a midnight sea, yet alive with scarlet ripples and swirls.
"Dragon eggs," Jacaenor murmured. "I hope this gift pleases you."
Seraena stared, speechless at her own brother. She could feel Rhaegar doing the same. Dragon eggs. Her brothers had given them dragon eggs.
Jacaenor was smiling. Seraena held up one of the eggs- the black one. She could feel everyone's gaze on her and the eggs. King Aerys was watching so intently, his gaze looked hard and brittle, near-to-shattering as it was. His hands gripped the sides of his chair tightly. He was breathing heavily, almost a wheeze.
His eyes were fixed on the egg. The black egg. And her.
Aeramor Veltaris was the only brother left in Lys. Belaegor had left for somewhere, Aeramor didn't know and he didn't care.
The second Veltaris brother was, unlike Jacaenor and Belaegor, quite comfortable and happy in Lys. He never saw the need to wander.
Especially not now. "Are you sure about this?" Drazenko II Rogare asked.
Aeramor inclined his head. "I am certain. Six hundred-and-fifty in Lyseni gold and a quantity of gems for your own daughter's personal use, once she becomes my wife. Close ties between House Veltaris and House Rogare will benefit us all. Especially when it comes to the bank." Drazenko's eyes widened ever-so-slightly. "An alliance with House Targaryen will not benefit you. I am aware that my sister has married the Crown Prince, but as much as I adore her, in fact, because I adore her, I wish not to make things difficult for either of us. Our situations are precarious as it is, and is about to become somewhat difficult. The Westerosi will be highly suspicious of a foreign bride. They are certainly contemptuous of bankers, in spite of their need for gold."
Drazenko scowled. "You don't have to remind me." A member of his family had after all, married into House Targaryen, during the Lyseni Spring.
"No, I understand." Aeramor bowed his head. "But, to my sorrow, I must be frank with you: any association with House Targaryen and House Rogare will ignite suspicions and pesky rumours that you are trying to gain as much power in Westeros as well as gold. Untrue and unnecessary. I think we all understand, you prefer it so much more in Lys. Here, you have everything- except that the Lyseni Spring is over. And your namesake Drazenko the First, and Lysandro the Magnificent are long-gone. We all know, when it is time to rebuild. Rebuild, and start from scratch so that someday we can rise in power once again- without anyone interfering from Westeros, might I add. But you need help- we all do, even the best of us." Aeramor's eyes were fixed onto Drazenko's. "I propose an alliance: an alliance between my branch of House Veltaris and House Rogare. And if you don't think that one branch is enough on its own, you have yet to see what I can do.
"But I suggest you make up your mind and soon. Because once my brother Jacaenor returns from Westeros, he is heading straight to Braavos, and is betrothed into a powerful family there who are not only keyholders, but number among the very powerful in Essos, and they have put their complete trust in him. So much trust, that they intend him to become a permanent fixture in Braavos and the Iron Bank have become one of his greatest supporters." Drazenko froze and then his eyes narrowed. Aeramor did not take his off his prospective good-father's. "He is gaining wealth, influence and power as we speak, and not only the Iron Bank, but the Sealord of Braavos, their magisters and the majority of their keyholders have given their support. Several prominent courtesans for all I know." He scoffed. "My siblings and I have always known that we were meant to walk different paths that lead away from one another. My branch of our line will stay in Lys. I have no intention of giving my support to the Iron Bank as the gods know that they are thriving enough as it is, with Jacaenor supporting them. Why else would the oh-so-secretive and successful Iron Bank, the Sealord and the keyholders and magisters of Braavos have given him such influence, such trust, if they weren't certain of his abilities?"
Aeramor allowed Drazenko to mull this over. He was sure that Jacaenor would be doing similar things, though thankfully, none of them would ever jeopardise their sister's position- as vulnerable and new as she was to it- by making alliances with the ever-so-pompous Westerosi. Bad enough she had to marry one of them, but she was fit to be a queen, Aeramor could not deny that.
Aeramor also couldn't deny that House Veltaris had more than enough wealth to fund countless families that were bankrupt, like the Rogares. House Rogare was not what it once was. But Aeramor could change that. Drazenko knew it too, it was only a matter of time. He was his father's primary heir in Lys, with Jacaenor on his way to Braavos and Belaegor going to whatever forsaken lands he was headed to.
Aeramor was a beautiful man, with classical features of the Ancient Valyrians: straight, thin nose, perfectly proportioned chin and jaw, high cheekbones, elegant as could be, and slightly rounded eyes that were somewhere between lilac and violet, his eyebrows and lashes dark, thick and long, like his sister's. Long, slender and graceful neck and hands added to features of refinement and delicately arched eyebrows gave a Patrician appearance, along with his high forehead. Today his long silver-gold locks in loose curls fell slightly past his shoulder and brushed out, dissolving into a soft, voluminous cloud. He was a catch for a family as renowned and formerly as esteemed as the Rogares and he knew it. Normally, he would stay well-away from anyone and anything that had something to do with the Targaryens- even if it was a long-forgotten alliance- but now times were changing: his brother was picking up and building prestige, power, influence and wealth in Braavos. His sister was going to be a queen in Westeros someday, the wife of a man who ruled seven kingdoms and Aeramor had absolutely no intention of shaming the family legacy.
There was silence for a long moment as Drazenko Rogare II looked hard at him. "Are you sure you can restore our family to its former glory?" He laughed harshly.
Aeramor only gave a small, but sinister smile in response, warning him not to test him.
Drazenko sighed. "Very well, then." He stood. "My daughter Lerasha Rogare, shall be your wife. Aeramor stood with him and they clasped hands.
It was done.
House Rogare and House Veltaris- or rather, Aeramor's branch, would be united. He would give the Rogare family back its wealth and prestige and a degree of influence unseen and unheard of since the Lyseni Spring and the days of Lysandro the Magnificent. They would give him their whole-hearted support, crowd around him as if to protect him, and continue his branch of the family by ensuring one of their own daughters would be the mother of his children.
Jacaenor and Belaegor would be off, finding their own branches of House Veltaris, no doubt. It was time Aeramor did the same, even though fortunes may yet pit brother against brother.
Let's hope that Seraena will stay out of this, Aeramor thought. Seraena wad wed, Jacaenor nearly so, and he himself had a betrothal to formalise.
He had his future. Jacaenor, Seraena and even Belaegor likely had one too.
Aeramor had no intention of being considered weak or less renowned and powerful. His siblings were already building their power bases. Belaegor was bound for Asshai whether their parents liked it or not. Him and his Red Priestess had decided to go so he may learn 'the ways of the Lord of Light.' Personally Aeramor preferred to distance himself as far as possible from such persons, especially if one was his brother. He would rather not damage his reputation amongst potential and existing clients.
Before long, few people would remember that they had met, let alone shared blood. From then on, each sibling was on their own