Shireen sat in a chair by the fire, reading. Castle black was cold, even this close to the fire, but she tried to ignore the chill, and focus on her reading. It was a thick book, and she found it fairly dull, but it was also the sort of book her father would be pleased with her for having read. After all, he was always pleased when she displayed knowledge of history and politics. She clutched her doll closer, smiling down at the pages. When he came back from battle, he would come to see her. And he would ask what she had done while he had been gone, what she had learned. She would be able to tell him all about the history of the Night's Watch and the Wall. And he would listen, and ask questions, and maybe even smile at her.
A knock at the door drew her out of these happy thoughts. She looked up, surprised. It was mid morning, and she could not think of a reason anyone would have need of her.
"Who is it?" She called.
"Melisandre, my princess." Came the reply.
Shireen was startled to hear the voice, and hesitated. Melisandre had never sought her out before, and Shireen had never spoken with her of her own will. Why would she? Though her parents both seemed to hold a great love for the foreign priestess, Shireen had always found her to be somewhat frightening. She had had a nightmare about her once. In it, the woman's hair and clothes had been true flames, and she had chased Shireen around Dragonstone. Whenever she saw the priestess after, the image rose, unbidden, to her mind.
"Am I disturbing you, Princess?"
"Ah... no, of course not." She had taken too long to reply, that was rude. She chastised herself. Her father trusted this woman, so she had no reason to be afraid. "One moment, please."
Marking her place in her book, she then began to head to the door, then hesitated. She turned back, and quickly moved her doll from the chair to under her pillow before opening the door.
Melisandre smiled down at her. "May I enter, princess?"
Shireen nodded, and stepped aside to let the priestess pass. Her presence seemed to warm the room more than the fire could ever manage to. She set a plate down on the small table in the room. Shireen stared, scarcely believing what she saw. The plate held a number of small cakes, covered in powdered sugar. She had not had proper sweets since Dragonstone.
"... Where did you get these?" She could not imagine the kitchens at Castle Black preparing such a thing.
"Oh, I have my ways." She smiled at Shireen. "It is the least I can do, princess. Still, you should enjoy yourself today."
"Why?" Shireen gave the priestess a confused look.
"Why?" Melisandre laughed. "It is your name day, princess. Have you forgotten?"
She had forgotten. There was so much going on, it simply hadn't even occurred to her. Her own mother had not even mentioned it over breakfast. No doubt she had forgotten, as well. Melisandre was the only one who had thought of it, then. Shireen suddenly felt very guilty for being scared of this woman.
"Thank you." She smiled shyly at the red woman.
"As I said, princess, it is the least I could do."
"You... You don't have to just call me princess. You can call me Shireen."
The Priestess's smile widened. "Very well, Shireen. You should eat the cakes before they turn to ice blocks."
"Of course." She hesitated. "Would you care to join me? There are lots."
"I would love to."
As they sat down, Melisandre spotted the book Shireen had set aside. "Have you truly been reading that?" Shireen nodded, and Melisandre raised her eyebrows. "Is it as dull as it looks?"
Shireen giggled a bit at this. "Some bits are exciting, but... It is mostly dull, yes."
"Then why on earth would you read it? Surely there are more interesting books out there."
"There are, but..." Shireen paused. "I might be queen of all of Westeros one day, you know?"
"Yes, you are your father's only heir."
"So... If I'm going to be queen, it makes sense that I should know a lot about the kingdoms." She nodded to herself. "And... And also, this is one of the books I think maybe my father would think was good to read, so..."
Melisandre gave a smile that seemed very sad to Shireen. The princess took a bite out of her cake, embarrassed that she had perhaps shared to much. The cakes tasted even better than they looked, sweet and light. Before she knew it, she had finished the whole of one, and she blushed, thinking perhaps she had eaten to quickly. A glance at Melisandre, however, showed that she was already starting on a second. When she caught Shireen's gaze, she grinned.
"One does not get treats like these often, princess. It is advisable to enjoy what we have, while we have it." Though she spoke seriously, Shireen found it hard not to giggle, for the priestess had somehow managed to get powdered sugar on her nose.
The two chatted pleasantly, for some time. However, as Shireen started on her fourth of the cakes, she found she was feeling slightly woozy.
"Is something the matter, princess?" Melisandre gave her a concerned look. "Your face has gone pale."
"I'm fine." She murmured. "I'm just feeling a little... tired."
Tired was an understatement. She felt exhausted, even though it was not yet noon. Her vision was starting to blur a bit, as well.
There was another knock on the door. Before Shireen could even react, Melisandre was up, and had opened it.
"Is it done?" Shireen recognised that voice. It was the one her father called the wildling Princess. She frightened Shireen with her glaring. What was she doing here?
They both walked into the room. Shireen tried to speak, to ask Melisandre what was going on, but she couldn't make her mouth form the words.
"She will still be alive when you burn her?"
"Yes." Melisandre bent over and gently lifted Shireen out of the chair and carried her to her bed. "The poison won't kill her. But she won't be awake for it."
"I don't see why you don't just slit her throat."
"She needs to be purified."
Shireen lay in her bed, trying to make sense of what was being said. Trying again to speak, she managed to let out a soft moan. Melisandre sighed at this, and, brushing her hair back, leaned in to kiss her forehead.
"You should not touch her so much." The wildling grumbled.
"You worry too much. How is your double's glamour?"
"Perfect. No one suspects a thing."
Shireen closed her eyes. Maybe this was a dream. If so, it was a strange one. There was some moving about, she could hear.
"I shall go inform her mother of the fever." Melisandre said. "If the poison works as intended, she should appear dead within a few hours."
The wildling responded, but Shireen could no longer make out the words. Everything was so muffled sounding. No longer able to think clearly, she drifted off to sleep.