Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction based on the Harry Potter and A Song of Ice and Fire universes. All recognizable characters, plots, and settings are the exclusive property of Joanne K. Rowling and George R.R. Martin, respectively. I make no claim to ownership.
Acknowledgements: This chapter was edited by Void Uzumaki and Ashestodust. I also want to thank my beta-reader nicknm for helping me bounce ideas around.
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Daenerys Targaryen, The Gates of the Moon
"I, Harrold Arryn, Lord of the Eyrie, Defender of the Vale, and Warden of the East, promise to be faithful to King Aegon Targaryen, the Sixth of his name."
"Rise, Lord Arryn," she graciously accepted the oath of fealty. The other lords in the Hall were murmuring and eyeing her with thinly veiled distrust. The deeds of her father haunted her even now, twenty years later, but she paid no heed. They could do nothing but grumble after their liege had already sworn.
"Your Grace, you can stay in the royal chambers while I organise a tourney in your honour!" Harrold Arryn enthusiastically proposed while undressing her with his gaze. "Many a knight would die for a chance to meet with Ser Barristan the Bold!"
The Lord Paramount of the Vale was quite handsome and had a roguish charm to his smile that reminded her of Daario. But she was a married woman now.
"I am afraid I must refuse, My Lord," she replied with a sincere smile. "I must still fly North and visit Winterfell with haste. Westeros has seen much divide in the last years, and it's high time it has been united under its rightful rulers once more!"
Disappointment flashed across the handsome face of Harrold Arryn for a moment before it settled on a smile again.
"If so, let me grant you some gifts for your journey, Your Grace," he said and signalled for the servants. Two thick bundles were quickly carried in. "Two shadowskin cloaks to keep you and Ser Barristan warm in the North. It might feel cold here, but I've heard it's nothing compared to the lands above the Neck."
Daenerys received one of the bundles and looked at it with amazement. The thick cloak was made of black fur with beautiful white stripes, and it felt nearly as soft as silk to the touch. She discarded her woollen cloak and placed the new one atop her shoulders. It indeed warded off the cold better, and it was a beautiful and worthy gift.
"Thank you for the hospitality, Lord Arryn," the old knight said after receiving his gift and slowly headed to the courtyard. She scrunched her brow for a moment as she followed Ser Barristan but then remembered. Giving gifts indicated the end of the Guest Right. They should be on their way now.
Though, Harrold Arryn was very bold in gifting her a cloak. And Marwyn's lesson on how cloaks played a very important role was still fresh in her mind. Aside from the obvious, was it a not-so-subtle gesture that he was interested in her? Or maybe he was a sword swallower and liked the old knight? Or it was simply a gift, and he had no ulterior motive.
Drogon's enormous form was waiting uneasily in the snowy courtyard. Her dragon did not like the cold. He lowered himself so she could climb over on the saddle. The heat emanating from his scales quickly banished the cold air.
"The gall of the boy. Jon Arryn would turn in his grave if he could see his successor," Barristan sighed sadly in disappointment as he slowly climbed over the saddle.
"What was he like?" Daenerys asked curiously.
"As High as Honour. He embodied his House words perfectly. You'd scarcely find men like Jon Arryn and Eddard Stark anymore. The man was one of the most capable Hands and bore the weight of the Seven Kingdoms on his old shoulders for fifteen years when Robert spent his time on other… endeavours. If it was not for his able hand in ruling the Kingdoms, Robert's reign would not have enjoyed the peace it did. They said a fever took him, but now that I look back, the golden Queen must have poisoned him."
Daenerys scoffed inwardly. She would never mourn the death of her enemies, no matter how good or honourable. And it was no secret that Robert Baratheon spent his days whoring, eating, and drinking. The Usurper deserved worse than being killed by a wild pig. But the former kingsguard kept his oaths of silence even now and avoided talking about him.
"Do you remember the way to Winterfell, Ser?" she asked.
"Not on dragonback, but I'm sure we'll find it. Head northwest first. If we can fly out of the Mountains of the Moon today, we can mayhaps reach the seat of House Stark in three days or so," he said.
"Soves!" At her order, Drogon took to the skies.
It felt odd to be in the sky without her other children once again. Viserion had stayed back with Aegon now and had been unresponsive to her ever since the bonding with her husband. After much debate, Daenerys had decided to also leave Rhaegal in Harrenhal, where he made a nest atop the ruins of the gigantic Widow's Tower. She had this unexplained premonition that the green and bronze dragon would not fare well on a journey north. Drogon was more than enough to intimidate the Vale and the North, after all.
Once again, she watched with wonder as they flew over the snow-capped peaks. The white blanket covering the mountain ridges and merging with the green grass on the slopes below was ethereal and amazing and she couldn't get enough of it. There was pure and untainted beauty in it, unlike the desert landscapes of Essos.
She just hoped that everything would go as smoothly in Winterfell as it did here. Lord Arryn was quick to bend the knee at the sight of her dragon and promised to join Aegon on his campaign with two thousand knights. According to Ser Barristan, the Northerners were a stubborn lot, but the sight of a dragon should be more than enough to cow them back into submission, no matter what grievances they had.
Damion Lannister, Braavos
He was too old for this at eight and fifty. Damion would have never agreed if he knew how perilous the journey on the sea was. Thankfully, while they had not encountered any Ironmen or pirates, biting cold winds and stormy seas were their constant companions. And he had spent half the time puking his guts over the railing. The other half was fretting that something would go wrong and that the vast wealth they carried would be their doom. The ship barely had two hundred redcloaks, armed and armoured to the teeth. It was too few. What was Cersei thinking in sending this much gold with a single ship, no matter how fast across thousands of miles?
As they passed under the Titan of Braavos, he still felt somewhat nauseous, but it was not as bad as it was at the start.
He and the Lannister guards were disembarking the 'Swift Lion' into the foggy harbour.
"Seven fucking hells, why must you test me so?" he swore quietly as nothing could be seen beyond a dozen meters. "Ser Cerion, you said you know Braavosi?"
"Yes, Lord Damion," a blond knight confirmed. He was the leader of the redcloaks accompanying him on this journey.
"Ser, find a guide to the House of Black and White. I'd rather not stay here longer than necessary," Damion ordered, and the knight went into the mist.
After ten minutes or so, he returned with a young, scrawny orphan in tow.
"Tell the boy he'll earn two silver coins," he took out two stags from his purse and showed them to the orphan, "if he leads us to the House of Black and White and back. One now, one for the return."
A jumbled speech that Damion did not recognize, and the boy's face lit up. The young began speaking enthusiastically and gesturing to follow him.
"I'll take half a dozen men with Ser Cerion and me. The rest of you stay on guard," he ordered and closely trailed after the boy with a small retinue.
Not only did the annoying fog make it impossible to see in the distance, but it made his joints ache. He had been very tempted to abscond with all the gold during the journey here and go live out the rest of his life in Lys but thought better of it. His lovely wife and children would pay for his treachery if the red cloaks did not kill him. After all, he could not carry even a tenth of the gold on his own, and the men accompanying him were all loyal to House Lannister, and all had family in Lannisport or Casterly Rock. Tywin's daughter chose his retinue very carefully, and he did not doubt that crossing her in any way would end up poorly for him. She managed to bring low far greater men than he.
No, he would serve faithfully and be rewarded richly in the end. He had risen from a landless knight relying on his cousin's generosity to the Castellan of Casterly Rock. Damion expected to rise even further when he returned from this task successfully. And if any gold was left over, he could always fill his purse, and nobody would know. He liked the sound of men and women calling him 'Lord' far too muchto run away with a dubious chance of success.
Damion lost count of the stone bridges that they crossed. The fog was not as thick inside the city, and he could see various shapes in the distance through the misty veil. The Braavosi were queer people to build their city atop a marshland. But they had somehow managed to become the strongest of all the Free Cities in four hundred years, and no one could deny their skills in seafaring, trade, and banking.
They finally arrived in front of a building made of dark grey stone, sitting on a rocky knoll. Damion could see no windows, and the roof was made of ominous black tiles. The front door was large enough to be called a small gate and was made of weirwood and ebony, depicting a moon face in black and white.
"This is it. The House of Black and White. The boy says that only one can enter at a time, Lord Damion," the knight translated the jumbled speech once again with a frown.
"Worry not. I will be fine inside. If I need a translator, I'll call for you, Ser," he placated the redcloak.
Damion opened the heavy doors with some struggle before making a short descent down a flight of stairs. The insides were only lit by reddish dim candles. He carefully walked past rows of stone benches and looked with a shudder at the various macabre statues depicting the different incantations of the Stranger. Where in the seven hells did he end up? This whole place was terrifying. A sickly sweet smell assaulted his nose.
Just as he was nearing the large red pool in the middle of the chamber, a figure wearing a half-black, half-white robe quickly approached. The stranger had a kindly face with a warm smile.
"Valar morghulis. How may I help you on this side of the Narrow Sea, kind Ser?" His voice and eyes were gentle. Thank the gods! The man spoke the common tongue. For a moment, he wondered how the priest knew that he was a knight from Westeros. He wore no armour, but his luxurious clothes emblazoned with the golden Lannister lion probably gave him away. But Damion had the feeling that the man in front of him saw right through him.
"Valar dohaeris," Damion replied as he felt his throat go dry. "I'd like to offer two names to the Many-Faced God… for a price."
"You can only offer one name here," The face of the priest remained an impassive smile, which gave him goosebumps. The man looked completely harmless, yet for some reason, everything here seemed more and more terrifying by the minute.
The smell of candle smoke felt heavy in his nose, and the Lannister began sweating. When Cersei had given him two names, he never expected to have to choose. The man in front of him watched with his kind face, making Damion wish to flee as fast as possible.
"Aegon Targaryen," he said hoarsely. A man would be a far greater danger than a woman to King Tommen Baratheon. Even a hundred and fifty years after the Dance, very few would be foolish enough to support a Queen in her name, dragons or not.
"A mighty name," was the unperturbed answer. "Come back on the morrow. We must pray and see if the God of Death desires his name. If he does, the price will be… steep."
Damion nodded quietly and left the Temple of White and Black as quickly as possible. If anyone asked, he would say that he left graciously with the dignity of a Lannister of Casterly Rock and that he did not run away in terror.
The thought of returning here the next day filled him with dread, and he contemplated visiting the other catspaw guilds in the Three Daughters instead. But no, after reading up on the Faceless Men in the library of Casterly Rock, he knew they were the best option. His future depended on Aegon Targaryen dying. If the dragons won the war, he knew House Lannister would get no mercy whatsoever. After all, they were responsible for the brutal murders of Aegon's mother and sister.
He breathed with relief as soon as he left the temple, only to be greeted with an icy cold rain – it had cleared the mist, but the chill hit him in the already aching joints.
"Tell the boy to lead us back to the harbour," he ordered grimly after fishing two silver stags out of his pouch.
He managed to gather enough courage to return only at noon the next day.
The interior of the main chamber was as creepy as he remembered, and the same kind man was waiting at the same place, wearing the same smile on his face.
"Valar morghulis. You're in luck; the Many-Faced God graciously smiled on your request," the priest's soft voice gave him chills again. "You can pay in gold or kind."
"Valar dohaeris. In kind?" Damion hoarsely asked.
"All your grandsons in the male line, both born and unborn," the pleasant voice sounded demonic in his ears, and he paled. Dear personal price indeed.
"In gold?" The Lannister managed to croak out.
"7 777 777 golden dragons," the man said in his creepy yet kindly voice, and terror froze Damion's heart for a moment while sweat began to drip from his sweaty brow.
The figure quoted was slightly above what they brought from Casterly Rock. But if he added everything from his purse, it would barely be enough, and he'd scarcely have a handful of dragons left...
How did they know?! Was there a spy amongst his retinue? No, it was not possible; he was the only one that knew how much gold was on board.
He thought that they would ask for one or two million, and he could go south and buy the assassination of the Mad King's daughter in one of the catspaw guilds in the other Free Cities. With this much gold, one could clad hundreds of thousands of men with a full plate and buy a good horse for every one of them. Hire most, if not all, sellsword companies in all of Essos. Or buy many fleets with sailors to man them. With so much gold, one could build not one but two grand castles worthy of a seat of a Great House.
Damion could turn around and mayhaps try his luck with the Tyroshi or Lyseni assassination guilds, which would surely request less for both Aegon and Daenerys. He could pocket a good part of the remaining money. But their success was far from guaranteed, and he could not enjoy his newfound wealth or position for long. Or he could get rid of Elia's son for good, as the Faceless Men never failed to kill a target, even if he had to empty his purse. He stood there, sweating heavily, torn by indecision.
"I'll pay," he rasped out weakly after wiping the sweat from his brow. Damion felt every single year of his age weigh heavily on his old shoulders. His purse might become empty now, but at least he would not lack for money for long with his position as a Castellan of Casterly Rock.
At that moment, Damion had yet even to think how he was going to transport tons of golden coins to the House of Black and White.
Genna Lannister, Riverrun.
Being under siege and knowing that no help would come was… terrifying. Every raven she tried sending was shot down. Not that Jaime would risk wasting the little men he had left in a vain attempt to break her out. Could she have fled to Casterly Rock safely before being surrounded? Genna would never know now. She felt exposed with only a hundred and fifty men at arms guarding the walls of Riverrun. Naturally, when a man bearing Martell's coat of arms approached, asking for her surrender, she declined. The Dornish could not be trusted, the Martells-doubly so after the grudge her brother created with the murder of Elia Martell and her children.
Genna shouldn't have let Emmon take half the men-at-arms. It had been nearly twenty days, yet no word of her husband ever came. He probably died just as he lived – useless and had dragged half the garrison with him.
Outside all three directions were enemy camps, spreading for miles in the distance. Riverrun's larders could easily last for more than two years, yet she didn't think the enemy would wait that long. For four days, they had been assembling battering rams, siege ladders, and makeshift bridges. Thousands of enemies would have to die to take the fortress, but it was not a consolation to her at all. Genna was observing all this from above- the window of the Lord's Solar was the highest vantage point in the whole of Riverrun.
Slowly, she could see the Targaryen forces prepared to assault from two sides while keeping the third one blockaded. The Lannister men-at-arms began to man the walls when a terrifying roar froze the blood in her veins.
Her eyes could scarcely believe her eyes a giant scaled monster swooped down and hovered above the walls before starting to bathe the ramparts in pale golden flames streaked with black and red. A few of the bowmen were brave enough to shoot arrows towards the armoured rider atop the beast, but that did nothing but attract the dragon's ire. The ground forces quickly approached with their makeshift bridges and ladders. Yet nobody could stop them, as the defenders were either cooked alive in their armour or fleeing from the dragonfire. At that moment, Genna knew that Riverrun would fall and regretted not surrendering when she could. Tywin might have cursed their house with his heavy-handed cruelty.
Cerenna Lannister, The North
She pulled her fur cloak closer, but it was in vain. Even under layers of thick clothes, she felt the chilling bite of cold. Every gust of wind was like sharp knives on her bare face. Her mare looked at ease as she trudged through the snowy road. That was not a big surprise since Dream had been born and raised in the North. Cerenna had never seen so much white before in her life, and she would probably be enjoying the exquisite view if she was not freezing.
"Ser Vylarr, do you think we're close?" She heard her cousin ask quietly. They had been on the road for five days already.
"Yes, Ser Lucion," was the hushed reply of the captain of the redcloaks. "We should arrive within the hour."
Their landing in Barrowton had been rather poorly received. Cerenna had little doubt that if they had not been sent as envoys to Winterfell, they wouldn't have managed to leave the seat of House Dustin alive. House Lannister was even more hated than she ever thought. The Baratheon banners that they carried were completely ignored. Lord Dustin had immediately sent a raven to Jon Snow, informing him of their retinue, and a score of his men-at-arms was closely escorting them along the way. She had seriously begun to doubt that they would manage to spirit Myrcella away if she was indeed there.
The Northmen were scarcely different from any man from the Westerlands-but there was still a handful that was big, shaggy and grim, though their hair and eyes were darker. Cerenna began to suspect that Cersei had lied to her about Jon Snow because she had never heard anyone call the men of House Stark handsome or comely. Though, there was a deep respect and even fear in the eyes of all northerners when they mentioned the new Lord of Winterfell.
Her stomach churned at the thought of laying with some big and ugly brute. But she knew how vicious the Queen Regent could be. Cerenna had been there when Cersei had the twin bastards of Robert Baratheon ruthlessly killed in Casterly Rock. At nine and ten, she had no idea how even to begin to seduce anyone and had faithfully kept her maidenhead for her future husband, but now... Hopefully, Jon Snow would indeed be a creature of lust and sin as her septa had always described bastards.
Over the hill, another, bigger group of riders appeared. Half a hundred men, clad in steel and wearing the grey direwolf of House Stark. At the head was a tall man with limbs like tree trunks, wearing a different coat of arms – three brown pinecones on white and green. Cerenna struggled to remember the name of the House, but it simply did not come to her mind.
"Halt! Are you the envoys sent by Cersei Lannister?" the man's voice boomed.
"Yes, Ser. I am Ser Lucion Lannister; this is Cerenna Lannister, and our escort, Ser Vylarr, "her cousin finished with an uneasy nod towards the captain of the red cloaks.
"This is not the south, and I am no Ser, little lion," was the gruff reply.
"Captain Rickard, we haven't let them out of our sight for one moment," Ser Rodrick, the man in charge of the Dustin escort, said with a grin.
"Good, we'll take it from here."
Now instead of twenty Dustin men-at-arms, they were surrounded by fifty Stark ones. They were even bigger and more vicious looking than their previous northern escorts.
She managed to endure the cold for long enough to see the walls of Winterfell in the distance. Cerenna scowled at the sight. They looked grey and drab, and the seat of House Stark could in no way match the size of the greatness of Casterly Rock. No wonder the northerners all looked grim – she would too if she lived in such a glum place. Cerenna only hoped it was warmer in Winterfell's walls than outside them.
"Ser Luson," her cousin's face reddened when he realised that the Northman was speaking to him, and she barely managed to suppress her involuntary giggle. "You and your men must surrender your arms, and your guards will stay in Wintertown."
"My name is Lu-ci-on, my good man," the Lannister replied through gritted teeth. "And captain Vylarr must come with us. He is the only one that can confirm whether Princess Myrcella is truly here."
"Fine, the redcloak can come too, Ser Lu-ci-on."
After disarming all members of the Lannister retinue, all the redcloaks but Captain Vylarr were escorted towards the rows of small and neat snow-capped houses built of log and undressed stone under the towering walls of Winterfell.
They entered the snowy courtyard, and their horses were quickly led to the stables. It seemed to be thankfully warmer inside, but she wasn't sure if it was because of the high walls blocking the cold winds or for some other reason.
"So those are the Lannisters, eh? They don't look like much," an old greybeard with a craggy face clad in scale armour said with thinly veiled contempt. He had no distinctive markings on his armour other than ...a blackened trout? Was this the legendary Blackfish, the man who participated in every war in the last forty years? It was said that the man was dead... But this was most probably Brynden Tully since her cousin was looking at him with awe and reverence. "You're in luck. King Stark is still holding court in the Great Hall, and you can get an audience today. Not many petitioners here."
Cerenna regretted not checking all the Northern Houses and their coats of arms in the library of Casterly Rock while she had the chance. She still had no idea who the man who led their escort was, probably Captain of the Guard. A social faux pas. In her defence, it was the last thing on her mind when the Queen Regent told her that she was going North the next day to seduce a bastard turned king.
The Blackfish led them through a training yard, where hundreds of men were training hard on the muddy snow, despite the cold. Then her group was quickly led to the inner keep where a large building made out of grey stone with a tiled roof stood. He stopped in front of the large oaken doors bound with thick bands of iron and signalled to a man to run inside.
"Ser Lu-ci-on Lannister, Lady Cerenna Lannister, and Ser Vylarr of Casterly Rock, envoys of Queen Regent Cersei Lannister," they heard the herald announce, and they finally entered the Great Hall.
Inside, there were long tables on both sides, various banners covering the walls, and the middle of the Hall was left empty. The hall smelled pleasantly of pine and oak. There were less than three scores of courtiers sitting on the tables...if they could even be called such. Her stomach twisted in a painful knot. Grim looks sat upon hardened faces; the clothes were mostly made of wool or lined with furs. Cerenna even noticed three very savage-looking men that were wearing furs only. She and Lucion received looks of distrust, even outright hate, from almost all of them.
At the end of the hall stood a raised platform, where two figures sat upon thrones on the dais, behind which a giant white direwolf banner sat on one side and the crowned stag of House Baratheon on the other. As her party approached, Cerenna finally made out the details. Her eyes were instantly drawn to the man sitting on the carved stone throne. Long, curly hair, comely, clean-shaven face, soft lips, and mesmerising purple eyes belonging to a tall, muscular man with a bronze crown upon his brow. Her heart started beating faster, and for a moment, she imagined herself in the strong arms of the man on the throne.
Yet the view on his left quickly woke her up from her daydreams. On an intricately carved wooden throne stood a young woman, no older than five and ten, with a similar crown upon her brow. Black hair, a sharp face, a scarred left cheek, and clear blue eyes glaring daggers at her. If it was not for her scar, she would be quite pretty but not as beautiful as Cerenna. If the position of the queen was taken, she would have to settle for being a paramour. Next to the Queen, a huge white wolf was sprawled carelessly on the floor, looking at Cerenna with terrifying red eyes that made her want to run away screaming.
Lucion and Vylarr bowed deeply while she tried to get her now stiff legs to bend in a curtsy and barely managed to avoid falling.
"Why does Cersei Lannister send envoys to Winterfell after putting bounties on my and my sister's heads?" The king's powerful voice sent shivers down her spine.
"The Queen wanted to confirm whether the rumours of Princess Myrcella's stay here were true," Lucion replied with a gulp under Jon Snow's heavy gaze.
A rather familiar-looking girl with golden hair and classical Lannister green eyes with a thick scar on her left cheek, ending up with a... missing ear, stepped forward from the Queen's left. Who would be so barbaric to attack a highborn maiden like this!? But the scar looked quite old… Cerenna scowled inwardly; she hadn't even noticed that the men and women were on the sides of the throne. On the right sat a very fat and greying man dressed in silks, with the merman of House Manderly emblazoned on his doublet and a bronze pin in the shape of a vicious claw on his breast. The Hand of the king, mayhaps? Further right stood a young man in full plate aside from the helmet. A squire to either the King or the Hand.
"Here she is, Princess Myrcella, daughter of Cersei Lannister and personal handmaid to Queen Shireen Stark!"
The announcement made Cerenna even more confused. The only Shireen she knew of was the daughter of Stannis Baratheon, who was said to be timid, ugly, with greyscale, and dead… nothing like the girl in front of her. This would explain the Baratheon banner sitting behind the Queen. She had the same colouring as the stag king, true, and her ears were slightly bigger than normal… but greyscale had never been cured before. Was this some sort of mummery?!
"This is indeed Princess Myrcella… but how did she get scarred like this?!" Captain Vylarr looked livid. And for a good reason, whoever dared to scar Cersei's golden daughter like this would pay a steep price. Next to her, Lucion had gone completely pale.
"Calm down, Ser Vylarr," Myrcella herself spoke softly. "I have been treated with every respect and dignity afforded to a Princess here, in Winterfell. I lost my ear in Dorne, attacked by Gerold Dayne, the man calling himself 'the Darkstar'. He tried to take off my head, but my mare moved out of the way just in time. As you see, I did not get off unscathed, Doran Martell didn't allow me to write the extent of the injuries suffered from the attack."
"The gall of those Dornish dogs!" Her cousin was outraged. Nods and grumbles of agreement echoed in the Hall. She even heard someone saying 'Fucking Dornishmen' from the lower tables. It took Lucion nearly a whole minute to calm down. "I request permission to send a raven to the Queen Regent to inform her of the situation and receive further instructions."
"Granted. But your letter will be checked before being sent. Bring the bread and salt!"
Harrold Arryn is quick to bend the knee at the sight of dragons and a pretty woman.
Damion Reaches Braavos and feels he's too old for that shit.
On a side note, we know that the Faceless men will agree to assassinate anyone in the known world for a price which is always high or dear. Well, the price is very high this time.
Riverrun falls quickly, and while Viserion is far from old enough to melt stone, killing the defenders on top of the walls with fire is well within his capabilities.
The Lannister Delegation arrives in Winterfell and is surprised. And they have yet to see the dragons. (For those who ask, they took a boat from Lannisport and landed near Barrowton)
I update a chapter every Sunday! You can find me on my discord(dgj93pNeAD), where a chapter is posted eight days in advance.
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