Minor Miracles, 7/? (2016-11-22)

Carlin Frey

(blood is one thing, family is another)

One of her earliest memories is of her sister, big brown eyes filled with tears, and the stinging pain after a blow to the face.

“Idiot child,” says their brother or cousin or uncle, the Twins fill to bursting with so many Freys she’s not sure how they are related, “Learn your place.”

The House of Frey is not a family, there is no kindness here: Carlin learns never to ask for something when taking is much more efficient.

Roslin is gentle and beautiful and, if not loved, then regarded fondly by others.

Carlin is the exact opposite: rough and loud and brash and only loved by her sister, but she is satisfied with that.

She’d rather be brave than kind, would rather fight than cry, would rather have only Roslin than the dozens of other Freys.

When she and Roslin are six, Carlin dresses in clothes stolen from a brother or a cousin or an uncle, and lines up alongside the boys of her family who are beginning to train in swords.

Beside herself, there are four other Freys of age; the master-at-arms too busy to check if she should even be there at all.

Carlin gets callouses on her palms and scrapes on her knuckles and couldn’t be happier.

Roslin doesn’t approve, but she doesn’t tell anyone else about it either–that early memory is one they share, after all–and she is distraction enough that no one thinks to borrow trouble in the form of Carlin.

As years pass, House Frey seems to forget that the lord’s sixth wife had two daughters, not just one.

… until it’s time for the newest generation of Freys to become squires.

This most recent blow to the face leaves her speechless not from pain–for she is a knight in training–but from shock.

Carlin thinks this is the first time Walder Frey has ever touched her, much less spoken to her.

Just like last time, she sees Roslin’s eyes fill with tears and Carlin learns a new lesson.

Think fast, talk faster, and maybe she can turn shame into glory.

If she were a terrible warrior, then that would be one thing, but she has been trained well and is skilled besides–this can still be salvaged.

If she fails, then that would only prove Lord Frey right, but if she succeeds…

Women warriors aren’t common in Westeros, but Carlin isn’t the first: there are the Sand Snakes of Dorne, the Maiden Knight of Tarth, and the Lady Bears of the North.

Surely one of them will be honored at the idea of a noble born squire?

Roslin helps her write the letters and, for the last time, acts as distraction so Carlin can seal and send them off.

Ideally the Mormonts, Carlin thinks to herself at night, listening to the soft breaths of her sleeping sister.

Brienne’s storyline intwines with the Baratheons and the Lannisters too closely for comfort.

And though the Sand Sisters would be good for her personally–the name Frey would not be a death sentence in Dorne regardless of the path their lord father chooses–Roslin deserves happiness; it wasn’t fair that she should be used as bait in a trap.

The whole of House Frey could burn to the ground and Carlin would be fine with that so long as Roslin were safe and happy.

Carlin presses a hand to her throat, remembering the fates of those brothers, cousins, nephews, whose only crime was to be named Frey.

Nevertheless, Carlin goes North: she doesn’t expect to be spared if it comes to that, she hopes to derail that future entirely.

~

A/N: I didn’t want to write about whether or not Carlin succeeds because… that’s not the point of this series…

Post Word Count: 607, Running Word Count: 7911

Minor Miracles, 6/? (2016-03-12)

Ailith Lannister

(there is no looking back, only forward)

Ailith is the daughter of Gerion and Edlyn Lannister, both of them youngest children and her mother from a cadet branch of House Lannister at that. Not much is expected from her, which is just as well–Ailith isn’t sure what she’ll do with the reputation attached to her name much less if she had actual prestige.

As it is, it’s likely that she will be married off in whatever political maneuvers Lord Tywin is up to–given that, with her father dead, he is in charge of her future. Either that, or married to a cousin to keep the Lannister genes strong: probably Lancel, the prospect of which she is not at all keen.

Sometimes she thinks about maybe becoming a septa or a silent sister–denouncing the Lannister name in exchange for a lifetime of servitude to a religion she doesn’t believe in. It is protection in its own way, to become anonymous by shedding her nobility.

But she is a Lioness of Casterly Rock, despite herself. And besides, Lord Tywin would never let her do such a thing.

All Lannisters share a look–blonde hair and green eyes and a ferocity that is usually beautiful–but Ailith doesn’t realize how closely she shares her looks with a different Lannister long passed.

She is eight, not yet a woman grown or even on the cusp of it, but already she hears whispers of the name. Joanna Lannister, Ailith’s mother’s eldest sister, and lady love of Lord Tywin.

It is hard to stay invisible when one is a living ghost. Unfortunately, it is not the correct ghost.

Ailith is eight when Lord Tywin takes her as his page.

Given what she knows of the Lannisters’ proclivities, Ailith had feared the worst. But Tywin, while being fond of her in a dour sort of way, does not actually view her as Joanna come again.

She learns much by being his shadow, under his guidance, how to rule the richest region of Westeros and how to get men to cower from quietly stated words and how fear is better than love but respect greater than both.

Something within her tells her she will not be able to turn back should she accept these lessons, but she would never have been able to escape the circumstances of her birth.

Ailith meets the royal family during their first visit to the Rock. She is not impressed.

“Why teach her?” Joffrey asks, more cruelty than curiosity, “She’ll never inherit anything. Who would put her in charge of their land?”

The question is aimed toward his grandfather, but Ailith chooses to respond instead.

“I may one day be married to a lord as stupid as you and his subjects will be glad to have me,” she snipes with a smile as pleasant as the cliffs of the Rock. Tywin does not agree but he also does not reprimand her, which is agreement enough.

Of course, then Joffrey goes whining to his mother, at which point Ailith has to stand and look contrite, but there is protection in being Tywin’s page. She may be a lesser lioness, but for now she is under the protection of the lion.

She is, apparently, a topic of much conflict for Tyrion. Which is just as well, because he is the same for her.

She’s quite sure he will be the only Lannister to survive the upcoming turmoil–even if badly wounded and poorly treated–and she had been fond of him. Perhaps the same way he had been fond of her father, but mostly the way one is fond of a fictional character.

No matter. To him, she is the girl who looks like his dead mother, the girl who his father clearly wishes was his third child instead of Tyrion, tall and beautiful and smart–the perfect combination of Tywin’s actual children. The girl who is being groomed to possibly steal his rightful inheritance.

It is for this jumble of reasons that Ailith asks, just the once, if he would like to marry her.

He says no, and she is grateful.

There is no way Ailith will ever actually inherit Casterly Rock–not with Tyrion as Tywin’s rightful heir, and Kevan and his children in front of her anyway. But she knows Tywin must be teaching her for a reason. She does not think he’d waste his time if it were only to marry her off to Lancel.

Ailith has been Tywin’s page–his protege–for five years when finally he reveals his intentions.

On his desk is a giant map of Westeros, each region marked with the symbol of the liege lord. Except for Dorne, who would never accept a Lannister bride, anyway, the rest of the regions have unwed men or unbetrothed heirs ripe for the taking.

To his real daughter, to Cersei, Tywin chained her to a poor husband and worse king in exchange for a crown that she failed to use to bring the Seven Kingdoms to heel.

To Ailith he gives the opportunity to do just that.

~

A/N: I’m a little… mreh about this one: I didn’t quite get the succumbing to being part of the “evil side” that I wanted, but it was surprisingly easy to write?

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, 5/? (2016-03-09)

Jesena Sand

(a snake, a shark; a predator with teeth)

Technically, Jesena is a Sand Snake–one of Oberyn Martell’s acknowledged bastard daughters–in practice, she’s never fully belonged. After all, while the other Sand Snakes are loyal to their father and Dorne, Jesena was raised to be loyal to one thing above all else: the Iron Bank of Braavos.

Although, that is not to say that Jesena did not also enjoy the Water Gardens as a child, or learn how to ride on a Dornish Sand Steed, or train in weaponry and poisons and subterfuge alongside her half-sisters. Because she did. And she is both grateful and fond of those times.

But while Oberyn made it clear to the mothers of his other daughters that they were first and foremost his, with Jesena’s mother he was willing to compromise. After all, the Iron Bank is not a force you want to antagonize when you can ally with it instead.

And so Jesena is to follow after her mother’s footsteps–as an Iron Banker of Braavos.

Supposedly, Jesena’s mother was the daughter of the Merling Queen–the previous one, that is–and while she was just as beautiful, there was something about her. She wanted blood, not wine, she wanted to take money not have it given to her. She left her inheritance as a courtesan in order to follow the path of a banker.

Supposedly.

It’s likely there are some hints of truth in the story. Perhaps Jesena’s mother was once a Mermaid, a lovely but poor girl elevated above her station, and yet still wanting more. Regardless of what the truth may be, the story still lingers.

Jesena’s mother is known as Rina Squalo–the Shark of the Iron Bank.

The Iron Bank of Braavos is unlike banks that Jesena remembers from that place and time that she keeps secret. Or rather, it is something more. It is independent of the Braavos government and yet it has the personnel and organization of an agency that would be in her former world.

When Jesena is twelve, the age Westerosi highborn boys become squires and girls get betrothed, she becomes an Iron Bank cadet. At first, she is one in a class of twenty other Braavosi adolescents, trying to learn enough to make the cut.

After a year of learning maths and culture and language and water dancing and, actually, many things she already learned at her father’s side, Jesena graduates alongside five of her classmates. Under the guidance of an experience banker, she is put on an apprentice team with two others and all three of them are given new names: Noho Dimittis, Tycho Nestoris, and Sena Martello.

“It seems… rather on the nose, don’t you think?” The newly renamed Noho Dimittis asks his teammates, “Isn’t the whole point of these new identities to be to protect our families?”

Tycho, whose new last name literally just means ‘scion’ and who is the grandson of one of the council members running the Iron Bank, just shrugs.

Jesena, in contrast, considers it fully, “Sometimes your family name can be a weapon instead of a shield,” she says.

“Oh yeah, Hammer?” Tycho responds pointedly of Jesena’s new last name.

“I was thinking more of a spear,” she says, “A sun and spear.”

Noho, Tycho, and Jesena learn, and soon enough are sent off on collections of their own.

Noho is known for somehow surviving the most hostile situations, Tycho for weaving and entrapping new clients, and Jesena? Well, she is the daughter of a viper and a shark–there aren’t many things deadlier than she.

When the time comes, Noho is sent to deal with Mad Queen Cersei, Tycho with the stony, self-styled King Stannis Baratheon, and when it comes time for Jesena’s assignment the council gives her a choice:

Daenerys Targaryen or Aegon Targaryen.

Which dragon would she rather take on?

While Jesena will always be loyal to the Iron Bank of Braavos above all else, that does not mean she is at cross-purposes with Dorne’s agenda. She will always be proud and thankful for the other half of her heritage.

The other half of Aegon’s.

In the end, it’s not really a choice at all.

~

A/N: So… you can probably tell that I was writing some DoS recursive fic simultaneously. But… uh. JESENA SAND aka Sena Martello, the badass banker from Braavos.

I basically picture the Iron Bank training super elite bankers kind of like Interpol agents or at least the secret agents you see in movies.

So Dimittis means “release” in Latin, Nesto(ris) means “scion” in Italian, and Martello means “hammer” in Italian. And originally, I was going for the hammerhead shark kind of thing… but then Martello sounded too much like Martell for that not to be a thing…

Minor Miracles, 4/? (2016-03-05)

Helwen Hightower

(not all knowledge is meant for the light of day)

Helwen is the only child of Baelor Brightsmile, who himself is the heir of Leyton Hightower.

It is not a problem yet, but she is daughter not heiress–give it time.

“No need to look so grim, little cousin,” Willas says amused, smoothing his hand over her hair. She forgot to tie it up before delving into the library this morning–no doubt it is a horrible mess. But in a way, Willas has always been more Hightower than Tyrell, and so he does not mind.

“Uncle would never wed you to someone stupid or cruel,” he finishes, in what he must think is a comforting manner.

It’s not his fault it fails. Were she a different ten year old highborn girl of Westeros that might be enough.

But she is not, and so it is not.

She’s not worried about the intelligence or kindness of her potential husband. She’s angry that she even needs one.

She tries to explain to her father, but though he listens, he is still a man in a culture of systematic patriarchy. Mother, too, doesn’t understand her concerns.

They worry that she’ll end up like Aunt Malora, the “Mad Maid,” but that’s not the case at all. She doesn’t hate marriage, she just hates that she needs to be married to get what ought to be rightfully hers.

Helwen realizes that, if she wants to maintain her lifestyle in the future, she’ll have to secure it herself.

She starts small. Or rather, near.

She knows that, despite the disastrous tournament that resulted in Willas’ bad leg, he corresponds with Oberyn Martell. It’s a tenuous connection at best, especially given the traditional enmity between the Reach and Dorne, but it’s the only one she has.

“Do you think I could write to his daughters?” Helwen asks tentatively, glancing at her cousin from the corner of her eye.

The surprise is obvious on Willas’ face–no doubt struggling to resolve the idea of his young, bookish cousin wanting to befriend the Sand Snakes whose collective reputation can only be described as fearsome.

But he has always been concerned for her–the only child in a castle full of adults and books. And though he understands why Helwen doesn’t want to be one of Margaery’s aptly nicknamed flower girls, he still thinks her lonely.

He might not be wrong, but he is not entirely right, either.

Correspondence with the Sand Snakes go well–which is surprising even to Helwen. She thought, at most, they would indulge her for a letter or two before stopping, but that’s not the case.

While Obara’s letters are sparse and mostly talk about weaponry, and Nymeria’s are long and winding things that give absolutely nothing away, Helwen has actually met with Tyene and Sarella. As a septa and trader’s daughters respectively, they are the two Snakes which best correspond to Helwen’s own position as first daughter of Oldtown.

But it would perhaps be overly generous to call Helwen friends with the Sand Snakes. First of all, there is the continued cultural differences that even the most earnest letters would not be able to overcome. Second, there is an age gap–and while they respect her intelligence, she’s still technically a child. Third? Well.

There are some secrets she’ll never tell, and the Snakes know that.

But they don’t need to be friends to be allies, and who else would Helwen turn to help her overthrow the Lannisters?

The Reach has enjoyed a blessed existence–rich in natural resources, situated for mild climes and profitable trade–and Oldtown is its crown jewel.

When Helwen turns eleven, the Hightower receives no less than twenty suits for her hand in marriage and more are incoming. She is no beauty like her cousin Margaery, but that does not matter–she is any man’s ticket to the seat of Oldtown.

Her mother is excited at her prospects, Helwen is less appreciative.

Her father takes great pride in rejecting the lesser suits, and he promises not to let her ends up like Aunt Lynesse who eloped with some minor Northern lord only to return home once the man was exiled as a slaver.

Helwen looks at her father in surprise and thanks him–not for the vow, though that is appreciated, but for the information. Aunt Lynesse’s slaver ex-husband? Jorah Mormont–Daenerys Targaryen’s Bear Knight.

She doesn’t know how she’ll cultivate this tenuous connection, but its more than she had before. And plus, the Reach had been loyal to the Targaryens during Robert’s Rebellion–she has until the Tyrell’s formally claim alliance with Renly Baratheon to establish another correspondence.

Maybe the Dragon Queen will allow Helwen to keep the Hightower seat.

Just in case, she leans heavily on her grandfather’s current Florent wife to cultivate her own Baratheon alliance.

Shireen Baratheon is both younger and lonelier than Helwen was, and far easier to influence.

Dragon Queen or Stag Queen, Helwen believes in hedging her bets.

Now if only she could figure out how to get a Stark.

Despite all protests, Helwen goes to King’s Landing. She will not be there for long, to her mother’s despair–hoping that the trip would become Helwen’s debut in court–but her cousin is getting married (again) to a king (again) and so Helwen is expected to make an appearance.

She doesn’t enjoy it at all, constantly on edge and paranoid that someone will know what she’s been doing for the past four years. That she’ll be accused of treason and thrown into jail, while the Tyrells are accused of the same and the Lannisters turn their claws on her family.

While the latter does not happen the former does.

“Lady Helwen,” Lord Varys greets mildly, after she rebuffs the latest knight attempting to steal her birthright. Unlike most girls her age, she thinks she almost prefers the Spider’s company than the false charm of an ambitious minor lord.

Almost.

“Lord Varys,” she returns, just as mild.

“I commend you on your collection,” he says. And to an eavesdropper, it may seem like he is referring to her well-known love of books. Or, to one more politically inclined, even her frustratingly ever increasing number of suitors.

But she knows what he means; her back stiffens even as she thanks him for the compliment. It is, in its own way, flattering that the ultimate spymaster has acknowledged her own burgeoning ring. Though, for obvious reasons, such a thing is also incredibly dangerous.

What exactly does he want from her?

“Now is not the time, what with the festivities and your dear cousin’s upcoming nuptuals,” Varys says, “but I understand Hightower used to have quite the aviary.”

Helwen considers the statement and the offer hidden within, “I’m open to discussion,” she responds with a smile, “send me a letter.”

~

A/N: So what I know of the Hightowers I got from the Wiki of Ice and Fire here and also the absolutely fantastic fic Rough Winds Do Shake by SecondStarOnTheLeft.

When I first thought about making a Hightower character, I wasn’t expecting her to be so ambitious or political… but I also didn’t realize until I checked the Wiki that Baelor didn’t have any children. Which means Helwen would be the only Hightower of her generation and, well, as is obvious from the ficlet, she doesn’t want her inheritance to go to someone else.

Minor Miracles, 3/? (2016-03-04)

Ffion Pyke

(what is dead may never die, despite all attempts)

He finds the babe on the shore, swaddled in seaweed, the incoming tide lapping away at its small body. Aeron is only newly devoted to the Drowned God, but time means little to worship, and he knows what he must do.

The child will most likely die, but if so, that is the will of He Who Dwells Beneath the Waves.

And anyway, it is a far more cruel fate to leave the babe stranded ashore than to swiftly end its suffering. The ironborn are not much for mercy, but in this case, the answer is clear.

Except for how it is not.

Aeron names the child Ffion, for the foamy waves that carried her back to shore.

Somehow alive.

There is no such thing as a drowned woman, or a priestess of the Drowned God, but Ffion’s survival can only mean one thing.

She has been chosen.

For what? Only time will tell.

There is no love between Ffion and the drowned men, but they do care for her as she grows. Or try their best.

Most of the drowned men are young bachelors who know little about the fairer sex beyond how to fuck them, and even that is in question.

Balon, Aeron thinks, has one daughter, surely there is not much difference between two little girls.

He is wrong.

Asha will one day be a master at the finger dance.

Today is not that day.

And anyway, while Asha has been practicing with a hand axe, that doesn’t mean Ffion has–the drowned men have little use for axes, and so she doesn’t either.

Asha throws the axe, whether out of an honest attempt to play or a far more sinister reason is unknown, and Ffion falls.

That’s what happens when one is stabbed in the chest.

Asha drags the corpse to one of the bridges interconnecting Pyke’s towers to each other. She knows she will be in trouble if the body is found and so, in childish logic, she is making sure the body will not be found.

Asha drops Ffion off the bridge, watching it fall the entire way, until it splashes into the water with a high, white spray.

That’s half of the problem taken care of, now she just needs to clean up the blood.

The truth comes out, soon enough, once Balon asks his daughter. Aeron listens and sheds no tears–Ffion was not his blood, not like Asha is. At the end, Aeron only nods and says, “You have returned her to the waves. It was well done.”

Being praised by her strange uncle Damphair is not so nice as being praised by her father, but Asha nods in acceptance. That wasn’t her intent, but she is glad to know she isn’t in trouble.

Already, she is pushing this event out of her mind, shoving it into the past where it belongs. It’s not like she’ll ever see that strange girl, anyway.

She is wrong.

Three weeks after Aeron leaves Pyke, he is walking along the shores and hears coughing.

He follows the noise, and the drowned men follow him.

Clawing her way out of a tangled bed of seaweed, Ffion rises.

Aeron is silent. As are the drowned men behind him.

“What is dead may never die,” Ffion calls out, as if in question, whole and alive and impossible.

Aeron is startled into responding by rote: “What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger.”

If Aeron is agreed to be the Drowned God’s prophet, then Ffion is something different. Something more.

Whether she be the Drowned God’s child bride or the Drowned God’s chosen vessel, even Balon, barely a fraction as religious as his brother, knows better than to dismiss this strange girl.

Asha, too, learns that despite name and birth Ffion Pyke is as much a kraken as she.

Ffion turns her sights to the east–to the soft and sleepy lands of soft and sleepy people.

She does not need to ask the Greyjoys to raid the Seven Kingdoms because they are ready and eager to do so, emboldened by the knowledge of having a god on their side.

It only makes sense for the ironborn to make their own attempt for the Iron Throne.

~

A/N: Ffion Pyke dies several more times, freaking out even the followers of the Lord of Light because that is just not natural. HA!

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.

Minor Miracles, 1/? (2016-02-25)

Young Nan

(little things can have magic of their own. so can little people)

Hodor finds her one day, a naked thing wandering the woods. They are opposites–he, so tall and large and pale, she, so small and slight and brown. Harmless and helpless, and so Lord Stark allows her into Winterfell.

For the first few weeks she does not make a sound, following after Hodor like a living, breathing shadow. Master Luwen is not even sure she can speak, though she can hear well enough–turning her head to look when people speak, startling at sudden, loud noises–but maybe it is merely a lack of knowledge, not a lack of ability. They leave her with Old Nan, who these days does nothing but talk and tell stories, in hopes that the girl with absorb words of her own.

She does not. But, as months pass, Winterfell becomes accustomed to her. She becomes known as Young Nan.

Winterfell is a machine, constantly moving with every person playing a part to ensure survival–The North is cold and harsh, one cannot be lazy here. Young Nan, too, is given chores once she is deemed old enough and capable enough.

Like herself, it starts small, nothing too difficult helping the laundresses in their duties. Laundering is hard work, strong work, and many of the bedclothes when wet are heavier than she is, but she can still fetch and carry and fold. In time, they add more responsibilities, including darning, until someone remarks on how much thread is missing.

Young Nan is skilled with a needle; she is in trouble until, suddenly, she is not. With discarded scraps of cloth and the extra thread she had worked on a project of her own–a quilt as complex and beautiful as any of the tapestries hanging on the walls.

A gift, she did not say, but gestured well enough, for Lady Stark’s soon to be born child. Beneath the paws of a black wolf in a forest are the letters for the name Rickon, embroidered carefully along the edge. Or perhaps it is just a trick of the light–the pattern of leaves forming a shape. After all, Young Nan doesn’t speak, surely she can’t read.

Three weeks later, Lady Stark gives birth to a boy. A boy that they name Rickon.

Young Nan is moved from the charge of the laundress to the seamstress.

No one knows how old Young Nan is, how old she might be. As the years pass, she remains the same, and even the less superstitious wonder–could she be one of the forest children from Old Nan’s stories.

It doesn’t matter. She doesn’t get into trouble, continues to make beautiful works of art out of cloth and thread, and still says nothing.

But that doesn’t prevent her from communicating. Or at least trying to.

For Bran, she makes a doublet and cape–grey and white with small details of blue and red–simple enough. But it grows as he does, never fades or wears down, and on the under side of the cape is set of wings; so long as he wears it, he will never fall.

For Arya, she makes a cloak with a fur-lined hood. From far away, the pattern may look like flowers, albeit in grey and black, but up close it is swords–sabers with thin blades and ornate handles. Arya is already fond of it, even without knowing that it protects her from more than just the cold.

But not all of the Starks look at her gifts as such.

Young Nan is working on the second of a series of handkerchiefs for Sansa, each with a barely visible cream colored wolf in the corner, when Jeyne Poole drops the tattered remains of the first in front of her, sneering. Sansa’s expression is not quite as harsh, but there is no reprimand on her lips. Young Nan does not finish.

By now, everyone is expecting her to present something to Robb and it’s true that she is working on something–but it’s difficult. Wisdom in warfare is easy to depict, not that the future Young Wolf needs any help from her for that. But wisdom in peace, in politics? How could she possibly articulate that in cloth and thread?

Young Nan enjoys her inordinately high position mostly because of Lady Stark. Young Nan is not ungrateful.

She will make whatever the lady commissions, no mistake there, but she never makes Lady Stark something out of her own volition. Not like she does for the lady’s children.

But that is well enough–she never makes anything for Jon Snow either, well aware of Lady Stark’s dislike of the bastard son.

But she does make something for Lord Stark–and if he happens to pass it down, then that is the matter between highborn people.

The day she gives it to him is the same she disappears–the same day he finds a litter of direwolf pups and gives them to his children.

The gift is small and, perhaps, not even a gift–a warning, a message. A tiny tapestry, smaller than a shield, showing a split scene. On one side, a forest at night, and a white wolf howling to the moon. On the other side, a desert in the day–the sun blotted out by something serpentine and large. And bisecting the sky? A tower.

She’s done what she could, tried her best. Gave them what they need to improve their fates.

The rest is up to them.

~

A/N: Here’s a series of A Song of Ice and Fire SI!OCs that nobody asked for. Next installment will be about someone else; so goodbye, Young Nan.