The sun was beginning to rise, Rhaenyra had arrived at Dragonstone the morning before and had spent the day being informed of any important events since she left for King’s Landing. Nothing truly of any import had happened, they had only been gone for three days, and an eventful three days they had been. From securing her son's claim to Driftmark, to mending her relationship with Alicent, to her brothers and sons getting into a fight that forced them to leave the city, truly an eventful three days. Now she was taking a moment of rest before breaking her fast, her princely husband was seated in a nearby chair, reading as he usually did in the morning, ravens from his network of contacts she presumed.
Rhaenyra leant back in her seat, closing her eyes and allowing her hands to rest on her stomach. The roundness of pregnancy was known to her by now, after bearing five sons she had grown used to the discomfort.
Suddenly, a sharp cry cut through the usual sound of the island. Rhaenyra’s eyes snapped open, Daemon stood eyes scanning the sky out the window. Rhaenyra hadn’t heard that particular dragon’s cry in a long time, six years to be exact, since Lady Laena’s funeral on Driftmark. A few moments later the dragon appeared through the clouds, its golden scales shimmering in the early day light, “Sunfyre?” Rhaenyra locked eyes with Daemon, her husband's eyebrows furrowed in confusion, “what is Aegon doing here?” Daemon just shook his head, with no answer himself.
“Ser Lorent,” Rhaenyra called, the door to the study opened, her kingsguard stood at attention in the entrance, “go and receive my brother, bring him to the main hall.”
“Yes, Princess,” Ser Lorent bowed.
“Let us go and receive my dear brother, and find what brought him to our rocky island,” Daemon took Rhaenyra’s arm and led her out of the room.
“We should also bring Jace and Luke,” Daemon suggested, “they should see how one would receive royal guests, for when they must do so.” Rhaenyra nodded in agreement.
The dragonglass throne was not the most comfortable seat, though she assumed it was more comfortable than the Iron Throne. Her husband stood directly to her right, eyes locked on the door. Jace and Luke had taken positions on her left, looking uncomfortable and like they didn’t know why they were here. Rhaenyra locked eyes with Luke, looking over his shoulder at her, and gave him a small smile. “Prince Aegon of House Targaryen, eldest son of King Viserys, the First of His Name,” Ser Lorent announced as he entered the room, her brother trailing behind him.
Aegon looked paler than she had ever seen him, which was something, the dark circles under his eyes darker and deeper, his pale silvery hair stuck to his head. When Rhaenyra looked down at his hands she noticed they were shaking. Aegon looked up at her, swallowed, and then spoke, “I must apologise for my… lack of decorum, there was no time to send word,” his voice almost cracked when he spoke, the muscles in his neck strained as he swallowed again.
It was rude to arrive unannounced but Aegon had always been rude, lacking in decorum. That she wasn’t surprised by. But arriving on his lonesome to Dragonstone, that she was surprised by, none of her siblings had ever visited her on Dragonstone. They were not particularly close, which she must admit was partly her fault.
"What can we do for you, Brother?" Rhaenyra asked. "Or shall I assume this is merely a social call? Perhaps you have come to apologise for your behaviour toward my sons and their betrotheds." She did not say this to be petty or snide*. It could be the truth, given how she had left things with Alicent, promising to return on dragonback after the children were settled back home.
Aegon paled, if that were possible, “no, yes, no… if that is what you wish, they shall have my sincerest apologies.” That was… oddly worded, it made Rhaenyra feel slightly concerned, something about the wording. “May I say one thing first?”
“As you well know, Father had twenty years to name me heir. He never did. He steadfastly held your claim, through thick and thin. You are heir to the Iron Throne.”*
Rhaenyra nodded along, that was correct of course by why… “Did something happen? To father?”
Her brother nodded, “I believe… The Stranger took him last night.”
Rhaenyra sucked in a breath. Her father, her poor, kind father. How it had pained her to see him as he was of late, the guilt of not being there for him in the past six years, was now joined by a stinging grief. She had not been there for him and now would never get to be.
Daemon’s voice interrupted her pained thoughts, “you believe? So he may not be dead?”
Aegon blushed, “I… I suppose that may be a possibility , I had no time to verify the whispers I heard,” he looked at Rhaenyra once more, “I had to come here.”
“Why? Why come without verifying the rumours?” Jace asked sceptically.
Aegon sucked in a breath, somehow it made him look even more winded. “Sister… I have no wish to rule, no taste for duty. I’m not suited. I know my mere existence is a challenge, that by drawing breath I invite revolt. But I will not do anything, I swear on my life, I swear it. I will not even be in the Seven Kingdoms on the morrow if you wish it, I will fly to Essos on Sunfyre and never return.”
Aegon reached towards his side, unsheathing his sword. Her guards reached for theirs.
“Uncle…” Jace said, voice a warning. Luke stepped behind his brother, eyes alarmed.
But her brother made no aggressive action, he dropped to his knees and held up his sword. For the first time Rhaenyra actually looked at the blade, Blackfyre’s distinctive pommel shimmered in the light.
The kneeling was unexpected, but the entire encounter had been, no? He held the sword up to Rhaenyra, head bowed. His eyes, so very wet and ringed with red, were fixed at a spot near her feet. "The smallfolk claim that such a sword belongs to a King. Please, take it. I have no need nor desire for it. Have it. Have it all. Have the Iron Throne, have your birthright. All I ask in return is that you spare my siblings and my children."*
Rhaenyra felt something ugly settled beside her grief and shock, “spare them… why do you ask such a thing of me?” An even uglier feeling had joined the first, and an ugly thought joined that.
Aegon gasped out a breath and began to cry, placing the sword at her feet he sobbed out words, “please my queen, I beg you. Do what you will with me but spare them please. My queen, I shall leave, I shall do whatever you ask but my children are innocent, our siblings are innocent please.”
Rhaenyra felt distinctly uncomfortable at this display, he had even slipped into valyrian during his tirade, “brother.” he didn’t respond, simply keeping on babbling. “Aegon, enough.”
Aegon ceased his speech, remaining where he prostrated himself. Trembling foregone in favour of a terrible stillness.
Rhaenyra stood and stepped closer to her bowing brother, “would you look at me?”
Aegon did not move for a moment, before he slowly looked up at her. His eyes full of desperation, tear stains on his cheeks. “I shall not put you, our siblings, or your children to the sword.”
Aegon’s expression didn’t change, though he looked very much like he did not believe her, “you will not?”
“No, of course not,” Rhaenyra leant down to help him up, but he flinched away as though she struck him, “you may rise.”
Aegon stood, slowly and shakily, his eyes fixed on the ground. Gods he looked so scared, Rhaenyra could not help but feel guilty, though she had not done this. The person who had filled her brother’s head with such lies was to blame, and she had a feeling she knew exactly who that was.
But she could deal with the rage bubbling in her at a later date, right now she needed to focus on her brother. He could not leave like this, in this terrified state. "Jacaerys, Lucerys, why don't you have a bath drawn for your uncle and find him something to change into. In an hour, we shall dine together and speak further," Rhaenyra decided.*
Both her sons had conflicted looks on their faces, “yes mother. Come qȳbor ,” Luke motioned for Aegon to follow. For once, Aegon had nothing to say and followed his nephews meekly.
It was Daemon who picked Blackfyre from the ground. Rhaenyra could not bring herself to take it, it felt wrong to even look at. But it did not look out of place in Daemon’s hands, in a way it was the matching blade to his own Dark Sister. “What would you wish to be done with this, little dragon, ” Daemon’s voice was passive.
"I..." All she could see in her mind's eye was her brother, placing it at her feet whilst he cried, rendered to such a pitiful state by her. By what he feared so deeply from her. That ugly feeling surged in her gut with a vengeance, bile rising and burning a trail up the back of her throat. "Place it where you wish for now. I shall decide later. We have more pressing issues to deal with."*
Her mind was clouded as she left the hall, slipping through corridors to reach their personal chambers. Once inside Daemon placed Blackfyre on a random table, and turned back to her. They stood in silence for a moment, but it wasn’t a long one.
“She has gone too far,” Rhaenyra paced around their chambers, clenching her fists in rage and gritting her teeth, “to poison my brother in such a manner, to make him fear me so. I can only imagine what she has been saying to Aemond and Helaena, and I am grateful that sweet Daeron has been spared from her venomous lies.”
She was aware that Alicent, and to a lesser extent Otto, had been working these past years to encourage animosity between their boys. Who else would have told Aegon and Aemond to call her sons bastards, to antagonise them so. They had gotten along well enough before that regrettable incident following Laena’s funeral, an incident she knew her boys still deeply regretted.
But this… this Rhaenyra would never forgive, could never forgive.
How could she, how dare she think so little of her? To suggest that Rhaenyra would ever harm her own family, her father’s children. And indeed that must have been what Alicent was telling her children, why else would Aegon fear her so? Drop everything and fly to Dragonstone at the mere notion that their father was dead.
Rhaenyra was estranged from her siblings, it was true, had never been close to them. But she was not that cruel. No matter what animosity lay between them, she would never harm her own blood. Even if Aegon had wished to rule, she would have done anything to avoid bloodshed, locked him in a tower or banished him but never put him to the sword.
Daemon watched her silently throughout her tirade, looking impressed for the briefest moment. “If the boy was under the impression that he would be put to the sword the instant my brother stopped drawing breath, then coming here alone was either incredibly brave or inconceivably foolish.”
From Aegon’s perspective it would have been a gamble, it was truly no wonder that he had broken down in a moment of pure humanity and begged for her mercy. If Rhaenyra was truly as ruthless as he obviously had been led to believe, she could have had him killed the moment he was away from Sunfyre. No one would know what happened to him, he had absconded in the dead of night, based on the time of his arrival, and it was improbable that any other member of his family new he had left. Rhaenyra felt her ire grow further. Alicent was most fortunate she was not currently present before her. Were she might have strangled her.
“Aegon should stay with us until we get this mess sorted out," Rhaenyra said. She did have concerns that, should she let Aegon merely run off as he had suggested, he may get caught by one of the Greens' allies and sent back to their side. They had been planning his ascension for decades, after all. They would not allow him to flee so easily. Rhaenyra was unsure of how well Aegon could evade such capture even with his Sunfyre, and it would be best not to take such a chance, for his sake and her own peace of mind.*
“Those Hightower cunts would seek to crown him regardless of his own wants,” Daemon conceded, “they would drag him onto his place on their board.”
They absolutely would, if only to spite Rhaenyra. They had shown that they would even manipulate the one they wished to call King to the point that he lived in such fear he could no longer look upon his mandia . “He will be a guest, not a prisoner. We must make that abundantly clear.” If her little brother remained as he had been earlier, so full of fear, she did not think her heart could bear it. Not in addition to her father’s death.
Daemon nodded, accepting this. “Another thing we must do is confirm that the King is truly dead. It would be in poor taste to make preparations for your coronation if your father still lives.”
“I agree,” it was important to know whether her father was truly dead. She could not grieve without proper confirmation. Additionally, she did worry that the Greens might not give her father the funeral he deserved. They may even conceal his death from public knowledge while they made their plans and assembled their allies. Rhaenyra would not dare to think they would not stoop that low. "How do you suggest we go about that?"
"I believe that I may have someone in mind for such a task. Leave that up to me." Daemon stepped forward and took her hand. He ran his thumb over the back of it, back and forth gently.
Rhaenyra felt tears of her own come to her eyes at last. Grief finally overwhelming all else. When she leaned into her husband, he embraced her in turn, letting her rest her head upon his shoulder. His hand smoothed over her hair. He held her as she began to cry.*