Finally, some bloody good news at last.
The letter fluttered from Lily's fingers and settled down on the table in front of her. She allowed herself three deep breaths before looking up to face her friend who was eying her carefully from across the table, Rhaenys in her lap. "Well?"
"If I didn't know you any better," the red head began slowly. "I would think that you had planned this."
Elia raised an eyebrow. "Planned what Lily? Dorne is full of eligible men who would be more than happy to wed your sister. She was bound to meet one eventually, Oberyn is well connected after all."
"He certainly is," the younger girl muttered under her breath. None the less, in spite of the rather odd circumstances, the happiness bled through her sister's written words, causing a small smile to grow on her lips. Things were finally looking up for Lysa and this at least was one problem that Lily no longer had to worry about when it came to her sister.
Lysa's letter prior to the last little while had sounded almost completely despondent and Lily had been half tempted to ride to Dorne herself to find some way of breaking the older girl out of her emotional funk.
Truthfully the loss of a child was one thing that she could understand very well, even though she was certain that Harry was not dead. However, he was lost to her forever, so he might as well have been. She could never tell Lysa about such things of course, but part of sympathy was sitting with a person in their misery and simply providing a listening ear.
But now, it seemed that she didn't have to.
"I assure you Lily," the princess said, interrupting her friend's thoughts. "I had nothing to do with this. Although I can't say that I'm displeased with the results, someone should come out of this war happy at the very least."
The red head barely restrained herself from flinching and noted the hard look on Elia's face. They had both suffered far too much in the last few months on account of this war, having lost people close to them and suffered numerous betrayals.
"Then I suppose I can attribute this matchmaking to your good sister Ellaria?" the red head asked with a small smirk.
Elia rolled her eyes and selected a fig from the tray in front of her. "She is not my good sister. That would imply that Oberyn intended to marry her and I know for a fact that he does not. He loves her, has promised his heart to her, but has made no oaths for his body. But my younger brother has always been a…free spirit. I've lost count of how many beds that he's jumped into over the years."
Lily sighed and shook her head. "And Ellaria has no problems with this?"
Elia snorted. "Given that she is just as free with her body as he is, I would think not. My brother has numerous children and not all of them are of her womb. But she loves them as if they were her own anyway, all three of them."
Lily blinked several times at the ultimately bizarre lifestyle in comparison with the rest of Westeros' elite before shrugging. "Well, to each their own I suppose."
Elia chuckled. "Indeed. There are times when I wonder whether I would be happier adopting my brother's attitude about love…but I know myself well enough to know I never could."
It was on the tip of Lily's tongue to ask what her friend would do when the war inevitably came to an end, but she clamped down on the thoughts. No matter what, the princess stood to lose. Either her husband would die at the hand of Robert Baratheon and the rebels, or he would return victorious with a second bride in tow and she would have to deal with the possibility of having her daughters disinherited in favor of whatever children Rhaegar would have with Lyanna Stark.
The very thought made Lily feel ill.
Merlin, she wished that divorce was possible in this world.
As it was, she would have to settle for hoping the friend of her late fiancé would ensure that the dragon prince was no longer a problem for her friend going forward.
However, with the way things seemed to be looking, it only seemed to be matter of minimizing damage at this point.
Lily was already formulating contingency plans at this point, and she suspected that the princess was doing the same.
The only thing stopping them was the sinister "final plans" that King Aerys had supposedly put in place.
Neither Lily, Jaime or Elia had ever breathed a word of what they had heard to anyone since that fateful day outside the throne room, but the conversation was never far from either of their minds.
They had never seen the man Elia had described either, leaving their speculations to spiral into notions that had little logic and as much paranoia as they could pack into them.
But when a few weeks had passed and nothing had come of the conversation, Lily began to wonder if that was because the king was waiting for something.
Or perhaps he was just as everyone claimed…mad.
Either way, Lily went out of her way to avoid the man as much as possible as news from the crownlands grew more and more grim.
She read the tense letters that her brother sent and tried not to spend all of her time pacing her chambers or hovering over Elia's shoulder.
Her saving grace were the letters sent to her by Lysa. Dorne hadnt' been touched by the war, thank Merlin and her relationship with Ryon was something that Lily genuinely enjoyed reading about.
One of us should get to be happy at the very least. We've all had love taken from us.
"Do you know Ser Ryon Elia?" she asked, realizing that she had been silent for far too long and that the older woman was giving her a concerned look across the table.
"Only in passing," the princess replied. "He was always Oberyn's friend and the two would often spend time riding together among other things. From what I recall, he fathered a child that he still cares for even after the mother died."
Lily blinked. Lysa hadn't mentioned that in her letters and with how much time the two had been spending together, it was impossible that she hadn't known.
Well, it wasn't like that was the sort of news that one would share in a letter so perhaps she would tell Lily if the two ever saw each other face to face again.
The prospect of going to Dorne was a tempting one and besides Elia, Lily was quite certain that there was nothing for her in King's Landing anymore. She didn't want to know what sort of eligible bachelor her father found for her. Elbert she had cared for, Elbert she would have been happy with.
As it stood though, her prospects were beginning to look increasingly like his Uncle and while she admired Jon Arryn, the very concept was appalling.
She would sooner accept exile in Dorne or the Free Cities before she would commit to a notion like that.
She suddenly itched for action and had to grasp the handles of her chair so that she wouldn't leap out of it and begin pacing again. She had already worn a path in the rug by her fireplace nearly threadbare.
The red head was so focused on not betraying her own sense of unease that she nearly missed the arrival of a whitefaced servant bearing a letter that she all but shoved into Elia's hands before beating a hasty retreat.
The two women exchanged glances and then they both stared at the letter in Elia's hand before the brunette tore it open.
Lily busied herself with entertaining Rhaenys and Visenya who were playing with various toys on a blanket by their mother's feet. Visenya in particular seemed rather entranced by a set of jewel like blocks that her mother had had sent to her from Dorne. Oberyn in particular seemed inclined to spoil his nieces.
A small smile tugged her lips upward as she remembered the dark haired man that she had wanted to hit and laugh at in equal measure. She wondered if he was well.
A sharp gasp from Elia caused the red head to look up and see her friend's naturally caramel complexion to turn white.
"What is it?" she demanded shooting to her feet. "What's wrong?"
Elia swallowed hard a few times, muscles standing out in her throat and lower lip trembling. Just when Lily was certain that she was going burst from the charged silence, the brunette held out the letter to her with shaking fingers.
Lily wasted no time in snatching it and devouring the words hungrily. She didn't even wait to see who it was from, the information far more important than the informant.
Two lines stood out from all the rest.
Royal army defeated at the Trident….Prince Rhaegar has fallen.
Those two sentences bounced around in Lily's head like marbles in a maze before they finally sunk in.
The rebels had won.
House Targaryen was as good as dead.
"No," she whispered and Elia, sitting below her, let out a hysterical laugh. "It would seem so my friend. My husband is dead, doomed by his own folly and so is his protection. The king will see no reason to keep me now, not when he has sent the queen and his other son away. My life is forfeit."
"No!" Lily all but shouted, the pent up energy in her muscles surging to the fore. She threw the letter down onto the stones. "I refuse to let it all end here. You are not going to die and neither are the girls. I am done sitting on my hands. It is time for action."
Elia's eyes snapped up to hers, seeing the natural emerald of Lily's eyed turn an electric green. She knew well her friend's magic and had selfishly and ashamedly kept her here, thinking that if she were to ever emerge from this war alive, it would be by Lily's skill alone. "And what did you have in mind my friend?"
Lily bit the edge of her lip, thinking frantically. It wouldn't be too far to find a few horses and steal out of the capital, particularly if the fighting had not yet reached citadel as yet. She had no intention of waiting around for the rebels to arrive, remembering all too well the horror stories that told of those who were left behind in military retreats for the enemy to consume.
"The letter was dated nearly a week ago," Elia whispered, breaking Lily out of her desperate musings. "They could be almost here by now."
Lily scoffed, "they would have had to ride as fast as the wind in order to make it here in that length of time your majesty. We still have some breathing room."
The words had no sooner left her mouth when the sound of booted feet caused Elia to shoot to hers. Jaime Lannister came skidding around the corner and entered the pavilion at a dead run, chest within his breast plate heaving and his face pale. His sword was drawn and to Lily's alarm, there was blood on it.
"What is it now?" Lily demanded, anxiety sharpening her tone.
For a moment, the blonde didn't answer but Lily could read the terror in every one of his movements, the darting eyes, the way he ran his gloved hands through her hair, the way he dampened his lips every few seconds without even noticing.
"Speak Ser Jaime," Elia demanded, for once, the fearful tone in her voice giving way to that of a commanding queen. "What is it that you know?"
Her words seemed to snap the knight from his stupor and he stood at attention. "It's….It's the army your grace. They congregated outside the gate and are asking to be allowed entrance."
Any chance of this situation resolving itself peaceably flew out of Lily's mind. She gaped for a second before finding her voice. "The rebels are here?!"
Jaime shook his head so fast that it might have been comical if the situation wasn't so dire. "No, your grace. It is the Lannister army. It is…my father's army."
Lily's thoughts ground to a halt for a few terrifying seconds before resuming again at full force. She didn't know why Tywin Lannister was asking entrance into the city with his entire army but she was certain that it wasn't a gesture of good will. After her sister's rejection by him less than a year ago and the man's inherent callousness to everyone and everything around him, she didn't trust him as far as she could throw him.
"You have just come from the king have you not?" Elia asked in a steely voice.
"Yes your grace," the knight replied, nearly wringing his hands together.
"And what command did he give you?" she asked. Her lips were pinched together and her face was all but bloodless.
"He said," Jaime began and then stopped, swallowing hard, a stricken look on his face. "He said…to bring him my father's head."
A stream of curses flowed from Elia's mouth and for one wild moment Lily wondered where she had learned them all. Oberyn most likely.
"Was anyone else with you when he gave you that order?" she demanded.
Jaime's eyes widened as if a startling realization had come to him. "Grand master Pycelle was lurking about. He seemed to think that it would be a good idea to let them all in."
Of course he did, Lily thought to herself ferociously. He was another creature that she didn't trust. The capital was full of snakes and she didn't trust this doddering old man who gave off an air of innocence but whose eyes saw everything.
"Here is what we're going to do," she heard herself saying and both the knight and the princess turned to her in surprise. "Your grace, gather the children and get whatever you can carry together. I will help you. And then we're leaving."
"Are you mad?" Jaime demanded, his disbelief shaking him of his shock for a moment. "Every gate in the city will be guarded. There is not a chance in all the hells that you will be able to escape unseen!"
Lily gave him a smirk that was devoid of all humor. "We're not going to be seen Ser Jaime. I have a way that will guarantee it."
She didn't wait to see what he said next and bent to scoop up Visenya off the ground. The small blonde made a protesting squeak but Lily chucked her under the chin and her sounds were cut off with a giggle. "We're getting out of here."
"And how exactly are we going to do that?" Jaime demanded. "Every gate will be watched by now! We'll be sitting ducks for anyone who happens to see us!"
"Weren't you listening?" Lily said in a voice, low with intent. "No one is going to see us. We're going to escape the keep and then get out of King's Landing and then we're going to ride for Dorne as fast as we can. On the road, perhaps we can send a letter to Prince Doran informing him of everything."
That last part was wishful thinking. Lily knew they would have time to write to Doran but she was searching for some way to reassure Elia.
It was worth it to see a light come back into her friend's eyes and she looked at Lily with new hope, nearly overcome to know that her life was being saved once again.
"Just like before," the red head said to her friend. "We'll hide, and no one will be the wiser."
Elia nodded, a nearly glazed look in her eyes. "Yes….yes."
"And what of the king?" Jaime demanded, still not done voicing protests. "Do you honestly think we have a chance of escaping him?"
"You leave the king to me," Lily said, a sudden idea coming to her. "He won't be bothering us."
She stepped closer to the knight, watching as his eyes followed her. "The only question you need to be concerned about with Ser Jaime, is whether you are more loyal to your father…or to the crown?"
The knight's eyes went wide as he comprehended her meaning. "Surely you're not suggesting that my father would –"
"Think Jaime!" Lily snapped, finally losing her patience. They were running out of time. "What is one of the first things that is done to prisoners of war when they are captured? Especially women!?"
Elia made a noise in the back of her throat behind them and the red head grimaced. As morbid as a picture it created, she wanted both her friend and her sworn sword to have some idea of what would happen if they didn't leave the keep right now.
"Are you with us, or against us?" she asked in a low voice. "Because if your loyalty is to you father, then I suggest you turn around and walk the other way. We won't trouble you and you won't trouble us. Or you could come with us and guard Elia as you were appointed to do…the last loyal knight of the Kingsguard. The choice is yours Ser Jaime…but you need to make it right now."
Jaime stared at her, his green eyes darting back and forth between her own, erratically. But in those tense few seconds, he seemed to come to some sort of resolution, because he nodded choppily and Lily released all the tension she had been holding in a rush.
She was suddenly absurdly proud of him.
But there would be time for that later.
"Right," Elia spoke up, taking charge once more. "Ser Jaime, I believe it would be a good idea for you to accompany me to my chambers where I will gather some things for the girls and we will be on our way. Lily, I believe that you said you would handle the king?"
"Good, then we will meet your in the throne room in less than ten minutes." She was sounding more like herself now, more like the princess she was before Rhaegar robbed her of that right.
The party of three hurriedly split up, all of them running for their destinations like bats out of hell.
Lily gave Elia a meaningful look when she reached the main hall and her friend returned it before disappearing with Jaime down the corridor.
She herself took a deep breath and stepped into the large chamber that had housed every major Targaryen event for the last three hundred years. If all went as it seemingly was going, this would be the last time a Targaryen held court in this room.
She didn't know that with the utmost certainty of course, but it didn't seem likely.
The king was sitting slouched in the iron throne at the far end of the hall where she knew he would be, although at the sound of her footsteps, he looked about somewhat blearily. "Rossart? Rossart? Is it done then?"
Lily had no idea what it was, but she had a feeling that she wouldn't like the answer. She wondered absently if the blood on Jaime's sword had anything to do with what the king was inquiring.
She would have time to ask him later.
"No your grace," she said, her voice sounding oddly detached. "It's not Rossart."
He looked up and caught sight of her, his eyes narrowing in confusion and Lily cringed when she saw the mad glint in them, through all the cloudy purple.
He opened his mouth but she didn't give him the chance to say anything else. With a wave of her hand, Lily immobilized him. His limbs seized as his body locked up and he fell out of his seat with a dull thud.
Lily approached his swiftly, though warily. Quickly she knelt down and saw with some satisfaction that he was still aware and then silenced him as well.
"These will be the last words that you will ever hear," she said softly. "I am not going to torture you, nor am I going to kill you. That would be a waste of my energy and you are simply not worth its loss. But I will tell you this. The Targaryen line will survive, not because of you or your worthless star gazing son. It will be because of nothing you did, but everything to do with the girl you scorned and spit upon for daring to be too "Dornish."
She knelt closer, knowing that she had to be quick. "Rhaenys and Visenya will live. And you will die. Though not by my hand. I pray that you will have a swift passage into any one of the hells that will take you."
She said no more than that because suddenly from somewhere, a distant scream pierced her ears.
She whirled around in horror. "Elia!"
Though it wasn't wise, Lily gathered her magic and apparated to the royal chambers where her friend was staying.
And there she was greeted with a horrifying sight just down the hall.
Jaime was battling for his life against one of his father's men, Amory Lorch perhaps and he was losing ground. Skilled as he was, he was still young and the adrenaline was not working in his favor.
But Lily's eyes only lingered on him for a moment.
Coming from the doorway, she glimpsed the Mountain, Gregor Clegane, emerging with the tiny form of Rhaenys. He was holding her by the arm and reaching towards her head with the other hand. The only thing that had stopped him thus far was a screaming Elia's grip on his other limb.
Before Lily's disbelieving eyes, he raised that hand and backhanded Elia across her face, sending her to the floor, stunned.
That was when Lily's stupefied horror broke and she waved a hand. "Accio Rhaenys!"
The shock of all in the hall, the screaming child was torn from Clegane's grasp and was sent flying into Lily's outstretched arms.
The red head didn't even blink before waving her other hand and screaming the curse at this monstrous man with all the poison and rage she had inside of her. "Crucio!"
She had never used one of the Unforgiveables before, the very idea making her feel sick. But the hate that poured through her when she saw her best friend brutalized and her child about to be murdered was such that no amount of morality could explain it away.
It was pure instinct.
Clegane dropped like a stone, a roar tearing out of him and echoing in the hallway, filled with pain and agony.
And Lily could not care less.
The fight between Jaime and Lorch had come to a standstill when Lily had uttered her spells, but the younger blonde had recovered first. He batted the sword out of the other hand and had the point of his own up against his throat lightning quick.
Lorch sneered. "You will pay for this Lannister. Where is your loyalty to your house? Your father will hunt you down like a dog!"
Jaime shrugged, an odd almost manic smirk on his face. "Maybe so, but at least my conscious will be clear."
Then with a deft move that Lily hadn't expected from him, he flicked his wrist and separated Lorch's head from his shoulders.
Lily looked away to avoid the sight and released the curse on Clegane, causing his boy to slump into unconsciousness.
She glanced at Jaime who was painting as he took in the fallen form of Lorch with a dazed look in his eyes.
It was official then. He was a traitor to his house.
He glanced at her and then caught her looking at the motionless form of Clegane. "Allow me my lady."
Walking over to the man who Lily was wondering if she hated more than she did Voldemort, he did the same thing, ensuring that his father's dogs would never again join a hunt at their master's call.
Lily ignored the gruesome scene and rushed to Elia who had pushed herself to her feet and stumbled towards her, sobbing her daughter's name. The red head pushed the little girl into her arms and dashed into the room to find Visenya shrieking on a corner of the bed. The younger girl quieted when she saw Lily, but not by much.
"Come on sweetheart," the red head, not bothering to hide the shaking from her voice. "We're getting out of here."
She pulled the blonde into her arms and snatched the bag that had clothes and provisions hastily shoved into it, from the floor. Looking around wildly, she snatched Elia's cloak off a hook on the wall and bundled it up as well.
She didn't take anything else before hurrying from the room to find her friend and Ser Jaime in the hall. Elia saw her and threw herself into Lily's arms, tears wetting the other girl's shoulder.
Lily allowed herself the indulgence of comforting her friend for all of three seconds before she gently pushed her away.
"Quickly now," she hissed. "These two were the first but they will certainly not be the last."
Jaime nudged at the headless form of Ser Gregor Clegane with his boot, looking down at the man with a curled lip. "What did you do to him my lady?"
Lily sighed. "I will explain the intricacies of magic when we are well away from the city good Ser. But for now, the both of you take my hand."
Elia did so without question, tears and blood still streaking her face from her split lip where Clegane had hit her. Jaime however, eyed her warily.
"What are you going to do?" he asked.
Lily rolled her eyes and seized his gloved hand before any other words were said. "I am saving our hides you fool. We need to get to the stables and this keep is soon to be crawling with Lannister soldiers. I'm going to make things easy for us."
Before he could say anything else, she readied her magic and fixed him with a glare. "And one last thing Ser Jaime? Don't, under any circumstances, let go of my hand."
"Why – "
But his words were lost when Lily spun on her heel, apparating the three of them from the hallway and out of the keep entirely.
Unbeknownst to their small company, Kings Landing was beginning to burn.
Yeah...so...I'm still alive in case any of you were wondering. My new job has taken up a lot of my time and between that, dealing with covid and my YouTube channel, fanfiction has kind of taken a back seat. I am still here, though and I have every intention of finishing this story because its taken root in my heart in a way that few others have.
So, I decided to gloss over the escape from King's Landing because that's not the important part, everything gets extremely AU after this. I didn't really want Jaime to have the guilt of killing Aerys on his conscience so I have Lily just bind him and leave him there for the rebels to find and execute. I wanted to give him the satisfaction of doing away with some of his father's men in defense of Elia though, because he's always struck as a romantic figure who wants to be the knight in shining armour.
The next chapter is going to jump around a bit in terms of who is going to be talking and there will be a bit of a twist coming up. Lily and Elia and Jaime make it to Dorne with the girls and the next king of Westeros arrives in King's Landing.
I seriously CANNOT wait to get Robert and Lily together and we're getting close.
Thanks for reading and hanging with this story everyone!