Of White Trees and Blue Roses

I own nothing. This all belongs to GRRM, and I'm just playing with the story he gave us.

I'm having trouble finishing Summerhall Part 2, so to try and keep the story moving, here is a brief interlude. Some harp playing for Kitkat, in return for a lovely review.

~X~

Chapter Forty Three – Faith

As Arthur approached, his prince gave a melancholy twitch of his lips and continued playing. Sitting himself on the opposite side of the bench, the knight of the king's guard took a moment to listen. Since arriving in Dorne Rhaegar hadn't often taken out his harp, but tonight he was immersed in his music.

The situation felt familiar—how many nights had Arthur sat and stared at the stars while listening to his friend's harp. You could always tell Rhaegar's mood by the tone and lyrics of the songs he sang or composed.

Tonight the prince was in a dark frame of mind.

Saying nothing, Arthur mixed a little wine with water until his musical companion uncharacteristically hit a duff note and dropped his precious harp on the table in frustration. Their eyes met but Arthur left it to his friend to break the silence, should he wish to talk about what was vexing him.

"Do you believe in what I dream, Arthur?"

"Of course. I always have."

The prince picked up his harp and inspected the strings. Almost absentmindedly he asked, "And what if my dreams aren't the prophecies I thought they were. What if it transpired that they were simply dreams?"

Arthur shook his head. "No, there's too much truth in them for them to be nothing. You were right about the three dragons. You saw Lyanna. I would stake my life on what you dream."

Rhaegar breathed heavily through his mouth for a moment, as if in physical pain. "If a simple man has a dream that stays with him and tells all around him that he believes it is the truth, then they'll likely cry madness. If a king or a prince has the same dream, then it is a prophecy. My father has dreams too..."

"Your father is losing his grip on his mind and his dreams make no sense. You and I both know that."

"And who is to say I don't have the beginnings of insanity. If I hadn't dreamed of a direwolf knight would I have been looking at the Starks so closely and found Lyanna was the mystery knight? Was that foresight, or maybe I simply read things where there is nothing to be read, fulfilling my own fancies because I am in a high enough position to do so? My father wasn't always mad. He was a good man, and did much as I would have done in his place. Until Duskendale... I know what they say about Targaryens—flip the coin for brilliance and madness. Maybe my coin has turned as his did?"

"You are not your father." Arthur gave his friend a serious look, but his friend did not seem comforted.

"I wish I believed less in my dreams. It might have been better for my peace of mind had you said you thought they were nonsense. I had a dream before I realised my child was in Lyanna's belly. At the time I thought it told me the Prince that was Promised was your sister's child. Now, I realise I was mistaken."

"Then the Prince that was Promised is your son, as you always believed—"

Rhaegar raised his voice, and the unfamiliarity of the usually composed prince's tone shocked. "But what if I am wrong? What if I want to be wrong?" Seeing Arthur's sudden stiffness, the prince softened. "If my dreams are simply a logical putting together of what I have read and seen down the years, and the likely outcome, can I change the destiny of the people around me?"

Arthur took a moment to take in his dearest of friends. His violet eyes were wide and anxious, his face drawn and his fingers splayed uncomfortably wide on the table. "Are you losing your faith?"

The Prince followed Arthur's gaze to his tensed hands. "I feel like I am at a fork in the road. Down one path are the beliefs I've clung to for so long—the prophecies, the long night, the Prince that was Promised, the three-headed dragon...I've been so committed to preparing for what is to come for so long. I've read so much and been horrified. To abandon my preparations now would leave Westeros unready for those horrors. It would be a total dereliction of my duty as Crown Prince...and yet, in walking that path have I ignored another path entirely. I've had dreams where my father has allowed the country to burn while others squabble over it. Instead I have gone off on a frolic of my own, chasing dreams, more concerned with impregnating Lyanna Stark—"

"That's not true. You dreamt of a direwolf knight and she is here, sleeping in this tower as we speak. She is a talent that would otherwise have been wasted, some high lord's wife, bearing children to pick up swords and never showing what she was really capable of. You did what you set out to do, you made her a knight—one as good as any twenty knights you might choose."

The Prince picked up his harp and experimentally toyed with the strings. "Yes, I did what I set out to do a little too well. Lyanna is a fine knight, without any doubt, but I daresay her armour won't fit for long as my child grows in her belly. And I'm sure that as we speak there could be at least twenty knights out there, dying on a battlefield, because I chose to take her and turn her into a knight. They might be Starks, stags, dragons, or from a number of different houses, because I've plunged the country into war. Maybe those twenty other knights might have made the difference when the white walkers come. And the others—the people in the towns caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, the farmer who is forced to pick up a pike rather than a rake because his lord has to provide his army for a war that doesn't concern either of them..."

One of the harp strings broke. It held Rhaegar's attention and it seemed as if he'd forgotten Arthur was there at all.

"I have my Prince that was Promised, but if what I dream is true then I'll lose Lyanna soon after. Chasing dreams is a dangerous business, and too high a price even for the heir to the throne. Maybe I choose not to believe. Perhaps I will take the other path."