A/N: Just a reminder, new chapter here officially means new chapter over on the P atreon now, where my patrons are currently voting on the future direction of this story!

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"Ah, Myrcella, dear heart. Come in, come in. Tell me, have you seen either of your brothers today?"

Entering her mother's bedchambers, Myrcella Baratheon's lips purse for a moment, before ultimately, she shakes her head. When she speaks, her tone is quiet but strong… not a waver to be found in her voice.

"No, mother. I confess I have not seen either of them in quite some time."

Cersei Lannister glances up from her table at that, eyes almost hawkish as she follows Myrcella's passage down into the younger blonde's seat. Then, just as quickly as that sharp look finds her, it vanishes, replaced by a warm smile and a pair of glazed over eyes.

"Oh, well… I'm sure they're around. More than likely simply getting into trouble as men do. As they say, boys will be boys, and men… men are no different, my love."

Myrcella slowly nods, even as she pours herself a cup of wine from the decanter in the middle of the table. It's already half-empty, but then, Myrcella knows where the first half has gone. Into the goblet held in her mother's hands. One moment, Cersei will be grasping her cup with both hands so tightly her knuckles are white. The next, she lounges back lazily, her goblet held in that 'proper manner off to the side as she gives Myrcella a knowing, doting smirk.

"Go ahead, child. But only a small sip. No more."

Myrcella just smiles and nods and takes that small sip before holding the cup in her lap, out of Cersei's line of sight. It doesn't take more than a moment for the older woman to look off to the say, not a glance but a full-blown gaze off into the distance. It's then that Myrcella brings her cup to her lips again and takes a longer, fuller pull.

"Oh, dear heart. Where did it all go wrong?"

For a moment, Cersei sounds altogether broken and Myrcella jolts, eyes widening as she looks to her mother. But as quickly as the older woman sounds broken, she shifts tacks again, eyes swinging back around and narrowing at her.

"Tell me, daughter, have you kept up with your lessons?"

Myrcella nods, as has become instinct. Agreeable as ever. Then, because she can't help herself, she asks a question of her own.

"Mother… where do you think we are right now, exactly?"

Cersei blinks at that query, before scoffing and holding her wine glass off to the side, her hand dangling backwards at the wrist.

"What a silly question, Myrcella. Did that little spot of wine addle you so quickly? We're in Casterly Rock, of course."

"O-Of course, mother…"

Cersei nods… and then scowls, glancing off to the side for a moment.

"Your grandfather best return soon. He's been away in the field for far too long. He needs to be here, to properly lift you up as the next Queen. Him and the Westerlands Armies he took with him. Altogether, our forces shall be more than enough to sweep and retake Westeros for you. The Iron Throne will be ours… yours."

Myrcella grimaces, but then Cersei looks back to her, and she quickly harnesses that grimace into a soft, pleasant smile as she tilts her head.

"I'm sure he's on his way right now, Mother. Grandfather has never been one to dally, no?"

Letting out a 'hah!' of laughter at that, Cersei takes another long drink of wine.

"No. If there's one thing Lord Tywin does not do, it's 'dallied'. Of course, there are other things he doesn't do either, despite the rumors. Shit gold, for instance. If only he did…"

Myrcella gasps, not because she's shocked, but because it's expected of her.

"Mother!"

Cersei blatantly rolls her eyes, before putting on an apologetic face a moment later as though she hadn't.

"Ah, sorry Myrcella. You're right. I shouldn't talk like that. Neither should you. You are a Princess after all… the Crown Princess now that your brothers are gone. Joffrey… Tommen… do you know their greatest failing, dear heart? They share it, of course."

Here, Myrcella bobs her head, repeating by rote.

"Yes, Mother. They didn't listen to you."

A smile flickers across Cersei Lannister's face, and a hint of something more flickers across her eyes. She takes another long pull of wine before tilting her emptied goblet in Myrcella's direction.

"That's exactly right, my love. They didn't listen to me. Men rarely do and look where it's brought us. Eddard Stark could have gone home, you know. He could have taken his filthy, flea-bitten daughters with him after bending the knee to Joffrey and everything would have been fine. But then, Joffrey could have taken my counsel and let Eddard Stark take the Black, defusing at least one front of that stupid, insipid conflict they called the War of the Five Kings. And Tommen… don't get me started on Tommen."

Letting out a moan, Cersei places her free hand on her forehead, splaying her fingers out as if she's feeling faint. Myrcella takes the opportunity to take another sip from her wine cup while her mother isn't looking.

"At least you listen, dear heart. At least you, of all my children, are obedient. The Crown Princess. The rightful heir to the Iron Throne. One day, my love, you WILL be Queen. But for now, you will listen to your mother, and continue to learn at my feet."

"Of course, Mother. I've learned so much from you already."

The smile Cersei gives Myrcella in response to that is almost knowing in its sharpness, and for a moment Myrcella feels alarm. Then, just as quickly as it shows itself… it's gone, and Cersei's eyes are glazed over again. She looks momentarily confused, before refocusing on Myrcella.

"Myrcella, my child… have you seen Jaime today?"

Myrcella's hand on her cup tightens, and her jaw ticks. But she keeps herself… contained.

"No, Mother. I can't say I have."

"Hm. It's not like him to be gone for so long. Do you think… do you think he's with your brothers? I asked him to take over Joffrey's training so many times…"

"… Perhaps, Mother. In fact… yes, I imagine that's exactly where he is. With Joffrey and Tommen."

Another brief smile spreads across Cersei's face, before she gives Myrcella a sharp look.

"You mustn't address Joffrey in that familiar of a way, dear heart. I know he's your brother, but he IS the King now. And you know how he gets."

Feeling tired as can be, Myrcella just lowers her head.

"Of course, Mother. But it should be fine here, yes? With just the two of us?"

Cersei scoffs at that.

"Don't be ridiculous, child. You never know who's listening. You never know who's watching. I've taught you better than that, Myrcella. You must always act as though you have eyes upon you. Sit up straight now. There you are."

Myrcella was already sitting straight, but when Cersei snaps off the order, she's quick to sit even straighter. A satisfied smirk spreads across the older blonde's face, and she nods her head.

"Good girl. Now, tell me about your day. How were your lessons with the Septa?"

Myrcella opens her mouth to speak, only for the door to the room to suddenly burst open, revealing a young man clad in Lannister Soldiers.

"M-My Queen! There is news from the East! The Targaryen, his dragons, and his armies… they grow closer by the day! If we're to get you out of here, we need to act swiftly! We can't-!"

"Be silent!"

Cersei's hissed, venomous tone cuts through the panicked young man's words like a knife through butter. The young man flinches, turning to look at Cersei with wide eyes, immediately apologetic.

"O-Of course, Queen Mother! A thousand apologies, I-!"

"You will cease your prattling this instant."

The young man shuts up immediately.

"Good. So then, we are surrounded, are we?"

"N-Not quite yet, Queen Mother-!"

"Silence. It was rhetorical. Or, if anything, I was speaking to my daughter. Not YOU."

Trembling now, the Lannister Soldier goes even more silent. Cersei looks to Myrcella then, and a hint of the old Cersei Lannister is back as she smiles a macabre smile.

"Ironborn at our shores, besieging the harbor. Dragons at our back, coming down upon us from above. Tell me, Myrcella… do YOU think we can escape the net that has closed around us? Do you think we can escape the grasp of Dragons and Krakens alike? Lions we may be, and proud at that… but do you think we should flee?"

A test, of course. Even after everything, her Mother still made it all a test. Smiling slightly, Myrcella shakes her head.

"No, Mother. I do not see escape as an option."

But of course, Cersei just scoffs, her eyes growing madder by the second.

"That is because you are blind, child. Escape is ALWAYS an option. Leave us!"

Those last two words are directed to the Lannister Soldier, who glances to Myrcella. She gives him the slightest of nods, and he leaves the Queen Mother's bedchambers behind.

Cersei, meanwhile, sweeps out of her chair at the table, and moves over to a nearby cabinet. She quickly retrieves two vials, even as Myrcella rises from her own chair… and joins her mother over on the bed. As they sit beside one another, Cersei tries to hand Myrcella one of the vials… but Myrcella shakes her head and takes the other.

"This one is mine, Mother. That one is yours."

Cersei scoffs and rolls her eyes at that.

"Honestly, Myrcella. They're both poison, and you're more than old enough to know that."

But she doesn't fight Myrcella on her daughter's choice. Together, they remove the stoppers on the two vials… and drain them at the same time. As wine hits Myrcella's throat, she swallows and swallows, before watching her mother let out a breathless sigh.

Together, they laid down on the bed, mother and daughter, both of them waiting for the contents of the vials to take effect. Only one of them actually understands what was IN the two vials, however. Myrcella's vial truly was just wine… while Cersei's was a simple sleeping draught, nothing poisonous, nothing fatal.

The Queen Mother's eyes flutter and she quickly fades, even as she clings tightly to Myrcella's hands until sleep finally claims her. Better that than death, Myrcella thinks as she slowly extricates herself from Cersei's grip and rises from the bed.

Gone is Cersei Lannister's daughter. Gone is Princess Myrcella Baratheon. In her place stands Queen Myrcella Baratheon, rightful Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms… or so some people liked to claim. So her Mother herself had proclaimed, once upon a time.

Though Cersei rarely remembered it at this point, it was she who had coronated Myrcella, lifting her up and making her Queen of the Seven Kingdoms several months back. Cersei's authority in the rest of Westeros was questionable at best and nonexistent at worst, but in the Westerlands, in Lannister Lands, her word had been law.

And so, Myrcella had become Queen… of one Kingdom and one Kingdom only. She had then used that newfound power to do something someone should have done a long fucking time ago. She'd locked her own Mother up.

Moving to the cabinet, Myrcella carefully refills the two vials, one with wine and one with sleeping draught. Then she puts them both back where Cersei found them, for the next time that the ailing Queen Mother needs a 'way out' and decides to take her daughter with her. Myrcella had found it to be much safer to simply play into Cersei's delusions and have the tools for her and Myrcella's 'suicides' at hand, rather than risk Cersei plotting with sharp instruments or the like.

… Her mother was unwell, to say the least. She didn't know what year it was, most of the time. She couldn't remember who was and wasn't dead from one moment to the next, and of course, above all else… she still thought she was in control. When Myrcella had used her authority as Queen to confine Cersei to her own quarters for her own safety, the psychotic break that her Mother had suffered afterwards had left her unable to even remember the coronation.

Shame, that. It was quite beautiful… or as beautiful as it could be, all things considered.

Slipping out of her mother's chambers, Myrcella nods to the young man waiting for her outside.

"I-I apologize, your Majesty. I know-!"

"No, it's fine."

Turning to the guards ever-stationed outside of her mother's door, Myrcella nods to them as well.

"Let no one in or out."

""Yes, Your Majesty!""

… Why they were all so loyal to her even now, Myrcella didn't quite understand. She hadn't really done anything to deserve their loyalty. All of the Lannister Men were dead. As were the Baratheon Men… if her brothers had even BEEN Baratheon. If SHE was even Baratheon.

And yet, here she was, a Queen of a falling Kingdom, the Ironborn growing bolder and bolder by the day, taking more and more of her people. She was doing her best, but between them and dealing with her mother, Myrcella was at wit's end.

Now… now the Targaryen and his forces were very nearly on her doorstep. She had been aware of him and his armies for quite some time now, of course. But there was nothing to be done. Even now… there was nothing to be done.

"My Queen, we can still try and sneak you past the Ironborn blockade, o-or find a way to slip you North, to Oxcross and then the Golden Tooth. The Targaryen's army comes from the South, by way of the Ocean Road and Crakehall!"

Myrcella looks to the young Lannister Soldier for a moment. He truly cares for her. Not in a lustful way, but in a subject caring for his liege. He means every word he says. And yet… one thing bothers her. Why is HE the one telling her all this? Why is this young man, who can't possibly be anyone of importance, the one advising her in this moment?

Ah yes, that's right. Because everyone older was already dead. It was just them. Too young and too inexperienced by half… but they were truly all that was left.

Letting out a soft sigh mixed in with a chuckle, Myrcella shakes her head.

"Even if I fled North, the Dragons can easily outfly even the swiftest horse. Hiding in the hills would likewise be of little use when they take to the air with such ease. My good man… there is no escape. My options are the Ironborn… or the Targaryen."

"Y-Your Majesty…"

He looks heartbroken, and so Myrcella spares him a fond smile and even places a gentle hand on his cheek. The poor lad barely has stubble there, and not from shaving, but from an inability to truly grow a beard just yet.

"Do not fret. Your Queen will not abandon you. Not now… not ever. We shall see what this Targaryen desires for assistance in ending the Ironborn threat plaguing our shores. And if that is my life… so be it."

The young Lannister Soldier has a protest on his lips for that, but Myrcella has already turned and began walking away. She had a missive to write, and a brave soul to send with it. It was time… to try and parley.

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