Aemond's blade clatters to the ground between them, the scrape of steel across stone echoing throughout the hall, piercing enough to silence their onlookers, and Lucerys knows that his time has run thin. Aemond speaks the truth, he owes a debt to be paid in blood, and should he try to shirk it now, he knows it will be taken by force, sooner or later. Mother has always taught them the value of control and it's a lesson Lucerys has taken to heart. All his life, he's been at the mercy of others' perception. They look at him and see only what should be, rather than what is, but here and now, he can choose what others will see when they look his way.
"It's true," his voice comes out steady, much more so than he feels, and of that, he's proud. No one has to know how his palm sweats when he bends to close his hand over the hilt of Aemond's blade. "I will pay my debt to you, Uncle, and then—" His voice threatens to break, Lucerys does his best to breathe through it without showing his nerves. "Then, we will consider the matter settled." It's clear from the smirk on his face that Aemond doesn't take his words to heart. Lucerys can hardly believe them himself. Turning the dagger over in his hands, he wonders if he knows the weight of it well enough to prevent calamity. What if the blade runs too deep? What if—
"Well, go on then, little Lord Strong," anger bubbles up and simmers behind his ribs. It makes him feel as though he might burst, swelling and burning, just the same as the same rage that led him to this mess in the first place. "We've not got all—" Lucerys, unwilling to bear Aemond's smug taunts even a second longer, allows his anger to take hold of him as he plunges the dagger into his own eye. It takes him a moment to realize the screams filling the hall are his own. Lord Borros calls for a maester, and Lucerys' instinct to look towards the sound is what damns him. The pain is both immediate and excruciating. Agony blinds him and cuts down his spine, slithering and twisting into every crevice and nerve he didn't know his body contained. Around him, the room spins as he fights to keep his eyes still, only distantly aware of the cold sweat that breaks over his skin and the way his knees buckle, too desperately preoccupied to think why he hasn't hit the floor until Aemond fills what's left of his vision.
"Where," Aemond drawls, tone soothing but speaking words of little comfort, "have you been hiding, nephew?" Tremors begin to take hold when Aemond reaches for the blade, seizing his muscles and bringing a fresh wave of pain as the steel embedded in his eye is jarred. It subsides only when Aemond's hand closes over his own, steadying his grip. "None of that, now, I know you don't scare so easily, and you haven't given me my gift yet, have you?" Aemond wets his lips, Lucerys stares into his sapphire eye and thinks he might be sick as he's hauled closer by his uncle's arm, locked around his waist. He is right, the debt is not yet paid. Will Aemond truly gift his mother with his mangled eye? Looking at him now, so eager to see Lucerys finish what he's started, he'd believe it. "Would you like help, nephew?"
"No," the word rushes past his lips without thought. "No, I will finish myself."
"Of course you will," Aemond smiles, "go on, then."
Lucerys' hand has gone cold under Aemond's. He wants to weep. He wants to cry and scream and beg for his mother. He wants to turn and be sick all over the floor, close his eyes and let this all be over with, but he cannot. All he can do now is finish what he's started, he's come too far for anything else.
Lucerys swallows the blood that's filled his mouth and does his best not to scream again. Somehow, the pain isn't the worst part. Without screaming, Lucerys is able to hear the horrible, wet crush of his own eye being mangled in his skull as he finishes the job, with only Aemond's sickening attempts to soothe him, some horrible facsimile of comfort, and his own low, pained groan to provide any escape from the sound. When he's finished, the room goes dark and the last thing he feels is the blade slipping from his fingers. Thank the gods, Lucerys thinks, the worst is over.
Aemond only just manages to catch the dagger, punctuated by his nephew's mutilated eye, before it can clatter to the ground as Lucerys faints in his arms. He's struck by the urge to lick the blood from his nephew's cheek, it looks so lovely where it spills past his temple and pools in the hollow of his throat, but no. The gift Lucerys has given him is the most lovely one he's ever likely to receive, and he intends to savour it privately, personally, with no audience to gawk or hinder. Anything else would be a waste. Physicians, called by Borros at some point, no doubt, crowd them and bring only irritation with them. Aemond has no intention of handing Lucerys over to anyone else. When Lord Borros beseeches him, he relents only enough to allow one of the maesters to feed milk of the poppy into his nephew's open mouth. It's for the best that he remains asleep through their journey.
He's handed a small vial containing more, should they need it, and then he hauls Lucerys up into his arms and takes his leave.
"Please, Prince Aemond," Borros' voice is desperate, Aemond finds himself losing patience with the man by the second. "We have maesters here who could treat him—"
"You do not have what I need, I assure you, Lord Borros."
"Tell me what it is and I'll—"
"Privacy," Aemond offers, tired of this exchange but not so much so that he'll ignore the man entirely and ruin the good will curried in favour of his mother. "Privacy, following the accommodations of a traditional Valyrian wedding ceremony, of course. Privacy that would, no doubt, be ruined when my insipid sister gets word of what's happened and comes to take back what she's already lost any right to. Privacy that you, Lord Borros, cannot provide." Aemond watches with some satisfaction as the colour drains from Borros' face, before resuming his leave.
"Aemond, you cannot—" Borros' voice is hoarse, disbelieving, and entirely too familiar. All it takes is a look back to silence him. He could leave it at that, but—
"You presume to tell the crown prince what he cannot do?" For a moment, Borros stares, then his eyes find his feet and satisfaction curls deep in Aemond's chest, stifled only by his building impatience. Time is wasting.
"No. No, I would never."
They face no further delays. Aemond hauls Lucerys onto Vhagar's back, securing him against his chest while Arrax circles anxiously overhead. They head for the nearest castle that's unlikely to be seen on the journey from Dragonstone to Storm's End and arrive at the home of a wealthy family, headed by some minor lord or other. The horror on their faces when told what he requires is second only to the fear when faced with Vhagar, should they fail to deliver. Within the hour, Aemond holds Lucerys and presses dragon glass to his lip, watching the blood that pools there and wishing to taste. The wedding is without frill, they lack the proper garb and family to witness their union, but Aemond has never been one to stand on ceremony. What matters is the blood spilled between them, the gods of old Valyria will act as their witnesses, and no power, not even that held by the iron throne, holds a higher authority.
Lucerys feels as though he's caught underwater, pulled out to sea by the tides and crushed under some great wave. Someone speaks to him, touches him, as if through many layers. Every sensation feels half-formed and distant and even his own body is strange as though it's not quite his own. He can no longer seem to fit inside of himself in the way that he used to. Only the sharp ache in his head cuts through clearly enough to bring him any semblance of certainty, and he clings to it, holds fast to the pain and listens as the voice in the distance becomes sharper. It's low, familiar, but far from comforting. Lucerys does not know who it is, but he knows his own fear.
"Such a sweet boy," the voice crows. There's something off about the tone, something that makes the knot behind his ribs tighten further, quickening the pace of his heart. "Who could have known what you were hiding?" Lucerys feels he might be ill. He tries to open his eyes and his mistake is both clear and immediate. It feels as if he's been lacerated from tongue to tail, pain coiling heavy in his gut and making him wretch, though nothing comes of it. Small mercies, he thinks. No one sings songs of the young boy who choked on his own vomit, ruined by his first and only real step towards manhood. His uncle—Lucerys remembers, the pain has lifted the worst of the fog from his mind. Where has Aemond taken him?
"Uncle," his own voice is broken enough he hardly recognizes it.
"That's right," Aemond's voice comes from so close the words almost seems to be inside his own head, it takes him a moment to understand that they've been spoken against the bare skin of his neck.
"One flesh, one soul, or don't you remember?" One flesh, one soul, Lucerys searches his mind, one flesh, one soul. He catches the taste of copper on his lip just as recognition lights his mind and he feels, quite suddenly, awake. Awake to the ache that runs through his bones, the pain in his head, made worse when he forces his eye open to meet Aemond's. Awake to the heavy weight of his uncle atop him, laid between his spread thighs without even a single thread to separate them. He tries, in vain, to sit, and it's laughable how easily Aemond holds him down, his efforts only serving to make him aware of the slick slide between his thighs.
"Please," Lucerys begs, blind with terror, "please, uncle. I gave you what you wanted—"
"Not at all, Lucerys. How could you have, when I only just learned for myself what that might be?" The warmth, the want of Aemond's words has Lucerys' heart jackrabbiting in his chest. It feels impossible to be here, to be looked at in the way Aemond looks at him now. He's seen this look before, in the eyes of every dragon ever to emerge from the dragonpit when it spies the lamb trotted out as bait. "Don't worry," Aemond grins, "you'll have done so soon enough. You're ready."
"I'm not," Lucerys hears the boy, the child, in his own pleas and hates himself for it, but he cannot seem to keep hold of his nerves, "please, uncle—" Aemond pays his words no heed, only pressing forward to take what he wants, what Lucerys, in his brashness, has somehow offered him. When he feels the pressure, heavy and nauseatingly fevered, of Aemond against him where no man should be touched, Lucerys' voice fails him completely. He doesn't realize his eyes have shut until Aemond grips his jaw—he can feel the bruises that bloom under his fingertips already—and speaks in a way that gives rise to an unfamiliar tension, stirred up from somewhere deep within him.
"Look at me, Lucerys," pressed close as he is, Aemond's words echo in Lucerys' own chest, "my strong boy." When Lucerys complies, Aemond begins to overtake him, and he finds he cannot look away, focus fixed on the sapphire—it catches the light in such a way that Lucerys feels unsettled, as though Aemond might see right through him, somehow—as the pressure of his uncle mounts until he feels his own body give. There's no dignity to the way he cries out as Aemond breaches him, nor the way the unrelenting push of him, makes that strange tension pull tighter, so all of Lucerys feels drawn tight and ready to snap. Aemond pants and grins above him, and Lucerys burns; with shame, with want, with fire and blood and everything in-between.
When Aemond draws back with a groan, burying his face low in Lucerys' neck, a part of him remembers himself and he tries, weakly, to push back against his broad shoulders. Fever has made him weak, and even without it, he knows he'd have little hope of escaping his uncle, but at least he can tell himself he tried, when this is all over. As Aemond finds his rhythm in Lucerys' body, he's subject to the greed of his hips, the agonizing weight of pleasure between his own that tells him even his own body has betrayed him. Lucerys knows little of how adults couple, but he knows, beyond any doubt or question, that it should not be as it is between them here and now. Perhaps Aemond is right to have taken him, perhaps he's seen something in him that he did not know well enough to recognize in himself, because despite his misery, his pain, his certainty of wrongdoing, he grows hard under the relentless press of his uncle's hips.
"Please, uncle Aemond," Lucerys tries once again, voice wet, desperate, no longer sure what it is that he begs for. Aemond only laughs low against his neck before leaning back to look into his eyes once more.
"Calm yourself, nephew," he urges, "you will have what you need." When Aemond licks the blood from his cheek, Lucerys knows he was right. The way it stirs him—there is nothing good or righteous to be found between them. "You see," Aemond breathes, "let me teach you your own needs, Lucerys, just as you have for me."
Aemond takes one of Lucerys' hands in his own, winding their fingers together, and Lucerys finds himself clinging to his uncle's shoulders with the hand that remains free. Nausea and shame nip at his heels with every movement, but he is desperate to feel anything beyond fear, anything beyond hurt, so he allows himself to take what's offered.
"Show me," he speaks with the voice of a stranger and Aemond's expression goes sharp. Lucerys has the feeling he's stumbled into a terrible trap, though he's not certain of his own desire to escape it. Aemond presses their joined hands down against his stomach and Lucerys' finds he can feel the shape of his uncle within him. The feeling draws a moan from his chest, a sound he didn't know he could make, even as the pleasure scraped out from him is chased by shame so strong he's never known its like. They stay like that a while and Lucerys allows himself to become lost in the heat between them, the weight bearing down on him and his uncle's voice in his ear, coaxing him further away from the pain, towards pleasure that Lucerys knows will bear far greater consequences. Something dense and heavy and almost unbearable has swollen in the cradle of his hips, where Aemond's greed teaches him his own, and Lucerys wonders if this might be enough to do him in, after everything.
"Do you feel what I feel?" Aemond pants into his neck.
"I don't know," Lucerys breathes. It's the only answer he has to give. Upon hearing it, Aemond kisses the underside of his jaw, making Lucerys' heart run so quick he fears it might give out, and draws his hand, still holding Lucerys' own, up to run both their fingertips along the edge of his open socket. The blood there is still fresh, but it no longer flows, and Lucerys does nothing to stop Aemond as he pushes both their fingers deep into his ruined flesh, nor to stop the scream that rips from his chest as pain careens down his spine and pulls his stomach taut. It's too much, his body carries more sensation than it knows what to do with and he's helpless against the way every muscle seems to seize and draw inwards as he finds his release.
He's only distantly aware of the way his knuckles ache, gone tight in Aemond's hair, and the way his uncle's hips stutter against his own. As their hands are drawn down, pressed to Aemond's lips so he can kiss his knuckles and lick the blood from between their fingers, he holds his uncle's gaze and feels as the heat of his pleasure spills inside of him. It's no longer comfortable to have his uncle so deep under his skin—he wonders when it became so at all—but he holds no protest as Aemond grinds against him, slow and heavy, no longer urgent as he was a moment ago. When Aemond presses their joined fingers to his lips, he allows them to fall open so he might taste the same blood that coat's his uncle's own lips.
Copper teases at his tongue, sharp and bitter, and Lucerys has only a moment to appreciate the taste of it before Aemond takes his face in his bloody hands and kisses him. Lucerys has never been simultaneously so gratified by and desperate to escape a sensation, not even with his uncle's blade still embedded in his eye. It's over, he tells himself, you've survived. But of course, Aemond would never allow him such ease. When he leans back, mouth covered in blood Lucerys can taste the reflection of, and swears to him, "No one will take you from me now," Lucerys knows, beyond any shadow of doubt, that he speaks the truth.