The long journey back to King's Landing lay ahead of them and the Lords and Ladies of every house lined up outside the castle of Harrenhal to bid their King and champion farewell. The tents that had littered the grounds outside the castle had been cleared away and it seemed most would leave soon after them. The King was already sitting in his gilded carriage, alone and did not acknowledge the crowd that gathered for his honour. She felt oddly queasy when she had woken and soon brought up the meal from the night before into a vase that stood on the table beside her bed, now still she felt sick as if she stood on the deck of some swaying ship. Rhaegar's black destrier stood beside her carriage and she looked out at him as he surveyed the crowd, beaming his beautiful smile. He had never looked so handsome, his light golden skin glowing, his shoulder length silvery gold hair tossed by the breeze. His strong, lithe body was draped in his house colours and his dark lilac eyes twinkled in the early morning light.
"The prince looks particularly handsome today, if I am not so bold to say your grace." Said Lady Ashara beside her. Her black hair was thick and straight and Elia assumed it would feel like silk should she touch it.
"Yes, I suppose he does." She smiled. It made her feel slightly better that beautiful ladies like Ashara Dayne were jealous that it was Elia that was chosen to marry the dragon prince. But Ashara did not know that Rhaegar was not as besotted with his wife as he seemed. Elia looked across at the crowd now and spied Lyanna Stark standing amongst her brothers, her eldest Brandon had a thick bandage wrapped around his chest and shoulders underneath his tunic from the wound he had sustained at the hands of Rhaegar. She was dressed in grey and the dress was trimmed in pale fur with her long dark waves that fell to her waist brushed out across her shoulders. She had such a mournful look upon her lovely face, it was almost terrible to see, Elia wondered if it was due to being parted from her brothers to ride for Storm's End with her husband-to-be, or for some other reason, was she sad to be parted from another perhaps? Let her be sad, let the girl cry, she thought darkly. She was glad to be putting so many leagues between them. A horn sounded and the carriages began to move, soon Harrenhal was a speck in the distance and she left the thoughts of the Stark girl behind. After a week of slow travelling they passed into the Crown Land's and King's Landing became visible on the horizon. The Red Keep on its high hill, with all its stone turrets and towers gleamed in the sunlight. Home. Well not truly home, she had not seen Sunspear in so many years, she missed the sun so. The sun here was weak and barely warmed her compared to the sun in Dorne, that baked the desert sands and made its people golden. They entered the gates of Kings Landing and the reek of the city began creeping in through the hangings. Elia wrinkled her nose, the small folk lived in such squalor and she held her nose until they entered the Red Keep and left the common people's stench behind. As she stepped from the carriage, helped by a young servant, she saw Lord Varys and Grand Maester Pycelle stood awaiting their return. They knelt before the King and Rhaegar came to stand beside her, linking his arms through hers. She wondered why Lord Tywin had not come to greet them too.
"I do believe congratulations are in order Prince Rhaegar."
"Thank you my lord, is there anything you do not know?" The eunuch tittered and shrugged his lavender robed shoulder slightly.
"Well word travels faster than you it seems my prince."
"A crone on a donkey would travel faster than us it seems." He glanced at the line of endless carriages and carts that had begun to pile into the stone courtyard through the gate with a look of distain. He'd rather have galloped the whole way home, his horse thundering beneath him, the land rolling by in a blur.
"Your grace there is a matter to attend to before you rest." Grand Maester Pycelle rattled a little as he spoke, his many linked chain jiggling as he did.
"It will wait." Said Aery's curtly and he strode away from them into the castle, his guard following him like pale shadows.
"But your grace-." Varys quickly followed him calling.
"I should go with them my love." Rhaegar kissed her cheek lightly, untangling his arm from hers and striding after his father. The sun set over the keep and she sat alone in Great Hall, alone on the high table. Rhaegar and the King did not join her so she bid Ashara come to sit in Rhaegar's place and talk with her.
"Where are they I wonder?" Elia said sipping on a fine Arbor gold. "They have been in council for over three hours, surely they are counselled enough by now."
"Men and their politics, I shall never understand it princess and I hope I never do." Ashara shook her lovely head, her black hair was tied in elaborate knots and they gleamed as she moved her head. She traced a braid with her hand admiringly.
"Teach me how to do this Ashara, it is so beautiful."
"Of course princess, I shall do it for you" They sipped on wine and ate slices of rare beef with honeyed pears and apples. Ashara was beautiful but slightly vacuous, men who courted her rarely found much beyond her beauty, though she was good-hearted. There is no more a person can be than kind, she thought. She heard a door behind her swing on it's hinges and close quietly, a white figure concealed himself in the shadows. She had yet to see set Jamie Lannister in his white finery but he looked like a golden haired statue. Tall, proud and glittering. "He may be young but he is a fine looking man don't you think princess." Ashara had turned and looked at him, her head rested on her chin, her eyes flashing.
"Ashara." She chastised playfully, giving me a light tap on the wrist. "He is more a boy than a man."
"I've never been with a man with golden hair..." She mused aloud and Elia giggled. "It's a shame he must be celibate." She sighed and finished the rest of her wine. Not all were though. Oberyn had told her jestingly that their uncle had a paramour he hid in the city somewhere. She crinkled her nose at the thought of her sweet Uncle Lewyn writhing with passion. She wondered if she had some sand sister hidden away too. Oberyn had his two girls that he doted on at Sunspear, though she had not met them. As she thought of him she considered that he should have been dining with them and looked about the hall for his familiar black hair and Dornish drawl.
"Have you seen my brother since we arrived home my lady?" Ashara looked about for him as well and her purple eyes swept the hall.
"No princess, I cannot say I have. Let us ask Ser Jaime." Her mouth formed a wicked smile as she said his name and she called him over to them. H come eyed them warily and then glanced at the door he'd come from before walking over to them, his white cloak dazzlingly bright.
"Ser Jaime, we have yet to meet." She said, smiling kindly. He is handsome, he has a boyish charm.
"I have not had that honour princess." He bowed his head politely, his golden waves falling in his eyes.
"Is my husband still in council Ser Jaime?"
"Yes princess. It is still in session." He is words were short and blunt. He glanced back at the door again. It was the way with the Kingsguard, they always heard things they'd rather not hear. She suspected Jamie Lannister had already learnt this to his dismay. Suffer in silence Ser and you will keep your tongue
"May I say Ser you look very fine in your new armor." Ashara placed a hand on his silver white enabled scales and he looked down at it confused. "Luckily white seems to be your colour.". He swallowed and coughed uncomfortably, moving a little away so her hand could not reach him.
"Thank- thank you my lady. You are very kind to say so." He cleared his throat again as Ashara smiled lustily at him, her full lips parted to reveal her gleaming white teeth. This is ridiculous, Elia thought. She rolled her eyes.
"Have you seen my brother Ser? He has not been seen since we arrived and he was supposed to dine with us."
"The red vi-" he stopped and started again. "Prince Oberyn has left the Red Keep princess, he left our procession through the city to frequent a... An inn." Inn, did he think her some fool. He'd gone to some whorehouse no doubt and was probably surrounded by as many naked women as his gold could buy. She rolled her eyes again.
"An inn." She scoffed. "I'm sure he is having an evening drink and enjoying the company of the small folk." Ser Jaime smiled and nodded to them before returning to his post in the corner of the room. As she left her meal and returned to her chamber she turned back on the emptying room and watched the shadow where his golden hair shone in the firelight. He may be a boy, but this will make him a man.
She lay in bed alone later, watching the night sky through the large window in the room. There was no moon and the city was cast in darkness without its light. She heard footsteps behind the door and soon after Rhaegar slowly turned the door knob before entering.
"Oh I thought you would be asleep." He said wearily. He had dark purple circles forming under his matching purple eyes.
"Almost." She said with a yawn, pushing herself up on her elbows. "Is everything alright? You've been gone such a long time."
"Lord Tywin has resigned." He said blankly. Elia stared wide-eyed and felt her mouth drop open.
"Resigned? But why?" Rhaegar raised his eyebrow at her, he often did this when he knew something she did not as if she were foolish for not knowing. He walked slowly towards the windows and placed long finger on the glass, tracing a swirling shape.
"He and my father had a... Disagreement. You know how my father loves those who disagree with him." It must be about his son, it must be about Ser Jaime. Why else would a man who revelled in power turn away from such a powerful title?
"But Lord Tywin has been Hand of the King for over ten years."
"And now he can be The Lord of the Rock again. He will be gone by the dawn I don't doubt." He removed his day's clothes, casting them aside into a woven basket beside the bed. He had a bruise across his ribs from the tourney that had begun to turn a sickly yellow and he had only recently removed the sling from his dislocated shoulder .She drank in the image of him naked as if she would never see it again. It was not often she did, she was surprised he had decided to sleep here this night. He pulled on a pair of thin cotton breeches and climbed in beside her with a sigh. She bent over and kissed his cheek. He turned to look at her, a wary expression on his face. His lips were slightly parted and she kissed them. He stiffened and held still and did not kiss her back. She drew away from him and arched her brow.
"Grand Maester Pycelle examined me before we left for Harrenhal. Should we want another child, he said the time was right." His eyes seemed to draw away, as if he disappeared somewhere in his mind. She wanted him so, since the moment she had laid eyes in him. She kissed him again and he kissed her back this time, after a while it almost felt like he lusted for her, the way his hands moved over her. It almost felt like he loved her. She recalled how her heart had raced and raced when she walked towards him in Baelor's Sept, the whole world watching . He had taken her hand in his and she could hardly breathe he was so beautiful, when he lent in to kiss her it was as if the Seven themselves had carved him from her dreams. He laid over her now she hardly remembered the last time they had kissed in the dark, reached for each other or woken up to the sun, in each other's arms. He reached down and pulled down her dress in one swift motion so she lay under him completely bare. He ran his hands from her breasts over her stomach to the mound of dark hair that grew between her thighs. He ran his hand past it, where she was already soaked and he slid a finger inside her. She shuddered and bit her lower lip with a whimper, he barely looked at her as he undid his breeches and took himself, hard as steel in his hand and guiding his way into her. She moaned softly and he began to rhythmically enter her over and over, the wet sounds penetrating the deafening silence of the castle until she felt the pleasurable tension building up inside him. This is all I want, this is all I want. Elia arched her back, moaning his name loudly, and her nails cutting into his back as he split his seed . They lay beside each other, Elia turning so she was back with her head nestled in his chest, Rhaegar with an arm around her. They stared out at the sky beyond the large window that was across opposite the bed, breathing heavily. The stars were tiny lights spinning above them and a red blur could be seen across the sky. She sat up to stare at it, squinting her eyes.
"What is that Rhaegar?" she said pointing to it. He pushed his hair from his face and sat up to see where she pointed. He cocked his head and squinted at it too.
"A star, no, a comet. A red comet..." he shook his head slightly, probably at a thought he had. "It is said in the ancient books of Asshai that the stars will bleed at the coming of Azor Ahai."
"Azor Ahai?" she questioned, saying the word slowly, letting it roll over her tongue.
"The Prince that was Promised." He said with a slightly smile. "He will save us all and the darkness will flee before him. My uncle told me that a woods witch told my great-grandfather that Azor Ahai would be born from my father and mothers blood line."
"Would you not be the Prince that was Promised then my love?" He smiled and chuckled.
"No, Uncle Aemon and I decided against it. Though from their line he shall be born, let my seed quicken within you and it may be our son who saves the world." He kissed the top of her head and got up from the bed, dressing and closing the door behind him, leaving her alone in the dark. It is all he wants me for, to bear him sons, nothing more. Nothing. She could feel his seed dripping from her on to her thighs, she felt like a common whore. You are a Princess of Dorne, she told herself as tears pricked in her eyes. You are a daughter of the sun, you are not nothing.
"I am not nothing." She spoke in the gloom and lay back, pulling the sheets over her so she was cocooned in them. She began to drift into sleep, dreaming of bleeding stars. She dreamt of fire, of burning skies and stars and Rhaegar with a fiery crown on his head, more beautiful than ever before.