Minor Miracles, 4.5/? (2016-03-11)

Helwen Hightower and the Queens of Westeros

(secrets have consequences, the truth is dangerous)

The Lion Queen

Helwen was never sure how the story would end, but she didn’t think it would end like this: with a Lannister queen upon the Iron Throne, the crown on her head almost as gold as her hair. Dragons and Stags and Wolves rebuffed under the claw of Lions and the thorns of the Roses.

She had thought she knew what the end would be–not the exact winner, but at least that the Lannisters would not triumph after everything. Worsened but not weakened, prevailing over a kingdom that hates them.

Helwen is at court again because her presence was specifically demanded and in this kind of political climate, that is not a good thing. Her hands are sweaty and shaking but she is mindful not to grip the fabric of her dress between her fingers–she cannot be seen as nervous even though that is all she can feel.

It does not matter who her cousins are, does not matter that she is the only daughter of the heir to Oldtown.

When she is brought to the chopping block, Lord Varys looks away and she does not hold that against him.

She has committed treason and nothing can save her now.

It is only because the Tyrells are allies that Wilas is allowed to take Helwen’s body home.

The Stag Queen

“Helwen,” Shireen says, sitting carefully but not fearfully upon a throne made of swords. She gestures for the other girl to stand.

It would be stupid to deny a queen anything, especially in the presence of her full power, members of her court lining the walls with watchful eyes. So Helwen doesn’t, rising to her feet, the lone Hightower standing amongst kneeling Tyrells–the Reach called to bend the knee after so many missteps or, as some of the more bloodthirsty witnesses wish, to be executed.

“Your Grace,” Helwen says, humble but unsure.

“Helwen,” Shireen repeats, thoughtful and considering and almost wondering.

A few steps back and to her right is the Onion Knight, the chain of golden hands almost obscene next to the pouch purportedly containing the bones of his missing fingertips. He looks at Shireen like she is the last hope for a dying kingdom. He looks at Helwen much the same way he looked at Lord Varys before he was executed alongside all of those who served the Lannisters.

“You have always been a dear friend of mine,” Shireen says, voice soft and high, and almost kind. Unlike the previous queen that sat upon the throne. “And a loyal subject,” she adds, just as sharp as the swords of her throne.

From the corner of her eyes, Helwen can see her cousins’ reactions: the shock on Willas’ face, the thunderous scowl on Garlan’s, the betrayal etched onto Margaery’s pretty face. How galling it must be for her: three weddings to three kings and yet the girl with greyscale becomes queen. And for her cousin of all people to have helped pave the way.

“I live to serve,” Helwen chokes out around the lump in her throat. Because she knows what Shireen is doing, even as it seems she is bestowing an honor upon her.

Helwen may have helped clear the throne of Lions, but she would have been just as satisfied with a Dragon upon it instead of a Stag, and Shireen very well knows that.

Being pronounced lady-in-waiting to the Queen is nothing to scoff at after all, neither is the implied role of Lady of Whispers, but Helwen knows the truth.

She can never go back to the Reach.

The Dragon Queen

“Helwen,” Daenerys says, sitting carefully but not fearfully upon a throne made of swords. She gestures for the other girl to stand.

It would be stupid to deny a queen anything, especially in the presence of her full power, members of her court lining the walls with watchful eyes. So Helwen doesn’t, rising to her feet, the lone Hightower standing amongst kneeling Tyrells–the Reach called to bend the knee after so many missteps or, as some of the more bloodthirsty witnesses wish, to be executed.

“Your Grace,” Helwen says, humble but unsure.

“Helwen,” Daenerys repeats, thoughtful and considering and almost wondering.

On either side of her, seated upon chairs far less grand or symbolic, are her two nephew-husbands each as different in appearance as their mothers were. Jon Snow–newly recognized as Targeryen–clearly uneasy with the glamor of court, his clothes still far more suited to the Wall which Daenerys took him from. In contrast, Aegon’s posture is steadier, but the bland smile on his face is far less honest than Jon’s: Aegon would rather be on the Iron throne than seated next to it.

Helwen can’t say she would disagree. But she’s always been good at keeping secrets. The same cannot be said of their queen.

“You have always been a dear friend of mine,” Daenerys says, voice soft and high, and almost kind. Unlike the previous queen that sat upon the throne. “And a loyal subject,” she adds, just as sharp as the swords of her throne.

“I live to serve,” Helwen murmurs, still unsure as to what the other might be leading towards.

“For your service, I grant you your rightful inheritance as Lady Hightower, unwed if you should choose” Daenerys says, and for a moment Helwen thinks that will be it. Foolishly thinking that she has succeeded, that her machinations have bore the correct results.

But there is more.

“Moreover, I decree that from now on, House Hightower is to be Lords Paramount of the Mander and Wardens of the South,” Daenerys continues.

From the corner of her eyes, Helwen can see her cousins’ reactions: the shock on Maergery’s face, the thunderous scowl on Garlan’s, the betrayal etched onto Willas’ familiar face. How distressing it must be for him: for the titles that rightfully should be his, that he has been born and raised for, that the Reach has been waiting for him to inherit all to be taken from him because of his family’s ambition. And for his cousin to have been the one to receive them for treachery.

“I live to serve,” Helwen repeats, closing her eyes, unable to think of anything else to say, unable to bear the sight of Willas looking at her like that.

Helwen may have helped clear the throne of Lions and restored the Dragon to her rightful place, but as the burning of Harrenhal can attest to: dragon fire can still destroy towers.

She knows Daenerys means well, but this is not what Helwen wanted.

The Wolf Queen

Helwen was never sure how the story would end, but she didn’t think it would end like this: with a Stark queen upon the Iron Throne, the traditional crown abandoned in exchange for the one that her brother once wore when he was King in the North.

She hadn’t expected a Stark queen to triumph over Dragons and Stags and Lions. She had expected the Wolves to eventually have a happy ending, or revenge, or as close to either as they could get, but not necessarily for them to sit upon the Iron Throne. They had no claim and, more importantly, no desire for it; no love for a kingdom that had unjustly destroyed their family.

For once, Helwen is treated the same as her Tyrell cousins: ambivalently. While the Tyrells had been kind to a girl hurt by the world in a time and place where kindness did not grow, they still had allied themselves with the Lannisters. But the Starks that remain know that sometimes survival means doing terrible things.

In contrast, while Helwen helped clear the throne of Lions that does not mean she did anything on behalf of the Wolves. Nor did she do anything to actively harm them, either.

Helwen kneels alongside her cousins and, when bidden, stands amongst them as well. For now, the Reach and all its children, despite their plotting and scheming, are safe.

The same cannot be said of Helwen’s correspondents.

When Lord Varys is brought to the chopping block, the executioner’s sword held in the hands of a Stark, Helwen does not look away. But her hands grip the fabric of her dress so tightly that she knows it will wrinkle.

Around her, once the deed has been done, members of the court seem to sigh in relief, thinking the Spider finally dead and their secrets safe.

They are wrong.

His little birds simply have a different tower to roost in.

~

A/N: Who the hell is Helwen? Check out Minor Miracles, part 4/? here.

… So here’s more about Helwen. I was trying to write about a different person but Helwen was like–hey, what’s gonna happen to me. Am I gonna die?–and I was like, god, Helwen fine let me settle the matter for you. Except then I was like… I guess it really does depend on which family wins the game… So here are four possible futures for Helwen Hightower.

Also I wanted to leave it ambiguous as to whether or not the Lannister queen was Cersei or Myrcella and whether or not the Stark queen was Sansa or Arya.

Minor Miracles,2/? (2016-02-26)

Baela Blackfyre

(even half a dragon is worth more than one hundred stags)

The Mad King gets impatient and reckless and within the year Baela is born: finally a girl child to keep the bloodline pure. Except for how it won’t. And not just because Rhaegar is slated to marry Elia Martell.

Baela is born to a woman with pale hair and violet eyes, a whore chosen specifically for her Valyrian looks–she is killed not too long after she gives birth, and Baela is whisked away to the Red Keep by order of the King Aerys.

However, while Queen Rhaella had been submissive in most matter–there is one which she will not falter.

Baela is a Blackfyre, not a Targaryen, the revival of a name better off dead.

Baela is bastard, not a princess, but she is noble born and dragon blood at that, so she is treated relatively well. She is only two years younger than Viserys, and expected to be his playmate–whether or not she will be his sister-wife depends on their father’s moods.

Regardless, even as children, he makes sure she knows her heritage, tainted and low as it is. She will never be a dragon, but Blackfyre was the name of House Targaryen’s legendary weapon.

She’ll never be family, but at least she’ll be useful.

Baela is brought along with Rhaella, Viserys, and newly born Daenerys mostly because no one thinks to tell her no. She’s as good as dead if she stays behind and even Rhaella is not so cruel as to leave a child to her death.

Life is hard across the sea–Rhaella and Viserys adapt poorly. Baela? Not so much. She has always been an in between child, not quite royalty, not quite lowborn–and being a noble refugee is not so different.

Daenerys does not have to adapt because it is all she ever knows.

Magister Illyrio is more like her father than Viserys will ever be. Probably because he has so much power where Viserys does not.

But Baela mislikes him just as much, and for good reason–he keeps trying to get her to marry him. Frankly, he could demand it–the Beggar King is certainly in no place to refuse, especially after all that he’s done–but if Illyrio’s gamble is to pay off, he has to at least continue treating Viserys like he’s king.

As it is, Viserys knows he only has a few political coins to spend, and Baela as a bride is one of them. He can’t use it on an ally already won.

He can use it on an ally not yet bought.

Khal Drogo does not want Baela–or perhaps he doesn’t care. Ilyrio is the one negotiating–he wants Daenerys.

And what the man with an army forty thousand strong wants? He gets.

“I’m scared, Baela,” Daeny says, gripping tightly to her half-sister’s hand. Baela does not pull away or flinch, but she does not hold on in return, either.

Baela can’t lie. Can’t say there’s nothing to be scared of, can’t say that she’d take Daeny’s place if she could. She just can’t.

Baela has always known her role in the world, and not just as a Blackfyre.

Daeny is given three dragon eggs as a wedding present. They’d never hatch if they were Baela’s.

Some things she tries to change. Some things she doesn’t.

Daeny is pregnant, Viserys is foolish, and Baela looks away when molten gold is poured over his head.

Sometimes, even when she tries to change things, they stay the same.

“Don’t trust her,” Baela warns, seeing a future of betrayal and loss behind her eyelids. But Daeny has Mirri Maz Duur brought to her, has the Lhazareen brought under her protection, asks for a cure that will poison instead.

“Don’t ask her,” Baela says, when Khal Drogo falls from his horse, infected and unwell. Already his screamers begin to disperse, Daeny’s army blowing in the breeze, but not all hope is lost.

“Don’t do this!” Baela pleads, because maybe she can save Rhaego’s life. If she can change this one thing, she’ll know she’s here for a reason. But Daeny disregards her:

What are the words of a Blackfyre bastard to a Targaryen khaleesi and queen?

There is a pyre–an execution, a funeral, a baptism.

There is grief in Daeny’s eyes, sorrow and regret but still determination. She does not apologize to Baela because that is not their way, but she does reach a hand out when the fire grows large and scorches the air.

“Join me,” she says, because Daeny is khaleesi and queen and widow but some part of her will also be the little girl that walked without fear because her sister was with her, “We are blood of the dragon. Fire cannot hurt us.”

Baela blinks–torn between fear and longing, sees possibilities flitting through her mind–but she’s already been shown that there is only one true path.

“So was Viserys,” Baela says instead, “And he was more dragon than I.”

Daeny is disappointed in her, but that is no longer something new; she does not falter.

Baela is the first to pledge fealty to Queen Daenerys of House Targaryen, Mother of Dragons.

There will be no Blackfyre Rebellion.