Rhaenys had been staring at the sugar that covered her hands for a moment longer than one would deem normal—Arianne almost asks what her niece sees, but changes her mind at the last moment. There is a storm swirling there, and sometimes it is better to leave such things be, and she had no intention of being pulled down with Rhaenys.
It’s been hell. Arianne laughs, but it is without humour. It is dark and there is an undercurrent of bitterness that shocks herself (she has no idea what she is capable of anymore). “As well as you could have expected, really.” sometimes she dreams of blood congealing and gaping bullet wounds, sometimes it’s not only her father shot but Tyene and Sarella and Alys all of her beautiful cousins, dead and gone. On the worst nights is Arys that shoots them, or Robert Baratheon himself wielding the pistol.
Arianne starts to flick the granules of sugar off her fingers, aiming them into the dregs of her coffee and her used cup. She clears her throat and continues. “He was taken before his time, just like Elia, and—” she pauses, considering her words. “—it’s been a long few weeks. Sometimes I just want to lock myself up in my flat and stay there forever.” the darkness of her mind creeps up on her before she shuts down that dangerous train of thought. ”I think we’ve had enough of misery.”
“Yes,” Rhaenys agrees, eyes fixed on her cousin. “Enough to last a lifetime. It won’t happen again.” Not if I can help it.
Rhaenys doesn’t remember what it was like after her mother died. All she knows is a life without her. She can’t understand what Arianne is saying - why lock yourself up when his killer roams free? But of course she doesn’t say that. “It will get better,” she says eventually, unsure if it actually does. “It will always hurt. But eventually you - you stop dreaming of them coming home. Eventually.” All of Rhaenys’ dreams had been based on videos and pictures; is that worse or better than knowing the person you’ve lost?
There is really nothing more to say to her. What do they actually have in common, apart from their murdered parents? Nothing that Rhaenys can think of, but then, she hardly thinks of anything but her murdered parent. She twists her fingers together and smiles awkwardly.
“Yes, well,” she clears her throat. “I suppose….” She has no idea what she was going to say and sighs in frustration. “I’m sorry…I just…” I just what?
Msg: I don’t doubt you could snap that little fucker in half, but if he actually has even as much as touched you I am going to kill him.
Msg: I’m coming home soon, don’t worry…It would be cruel and unusual punishment to leave you alone with him.
Msg: I look forward to it.
Msg: I’ll see you when you get home. And I won’t let you leave again. I need people to talk to that aren’t Viserys
Stop acting like our father.
The admonition is insulting on top of being ridiculous; does his brother expect him to be ashamed of the comparison? Their father raged, their father used his fists, but their father was a great man. Viserys would sooner be Aerys come again than anyone else in the world.
“And act like who, Rhaegar? You?” Viserys asks contemptuously. “Should I run and hide? Should I send her away?” And Rhaegar is herding her, coaxing her away from him, and a dry bark of laughter escapes Viserys as he watches. He knows who his brother is imitating. His mother’s voice, whispering,shh, come here, come away, and his own clumsy steps into her arms. Rhaegar is frightened of Viserys, of what he would - could - do. His chest swells, and he finds himself smiling.
“I won’t apologize,” he informs his brother, chin lifted. “Your little cunt of a daughter should know not to speak to me that way.
An apology wouldn’t be enough, anyway, she thinks as she flinches. Somehow being called a cunt hurts more than Viserys hitting her. Her dad is as much help as she thought, knew, he would be, but somehow she feels better when he is there, all calm and…her dad-like.
If Viserys hadn’t spoken, if he hadn’t smiled that stupid little smile of his, perhaps she could even accept any half-arsed apology of his, but instead he does what he always has.
And while Rhaenys can put up with anything physical he doles out to her, can fight against that without raising a hand, if he can call her a cunt, if he can get away with it, then he’s won. Her father will do nothing and Viserys will win, and that’s not something Rhaenys can stomach.
She’d told herself that she wouldn’t be like Viserys, and she won’t, she won’t, but she can’t let this go. Cunt. She stepped away from her dad and narrowed her eyes. He was still smiling. Cunt. She wanted to hit him. Cunt.
“I’ll speak to you anyway I like, you little fucker,” she says, teeth gritted. Her hand flies up, as if to hit him, and Rhaenys wants to. She wants him to know what it feels like, but something stops her and she smiles tightly. Viserys is still her family, despite everything. “Why don’t you go suck daddy’s dick? Perhaps it will help you on your quest to become him.”
“Money isn’t an issue, my dear. I certainly have more money than Tywin Lannister, anyway.” she replied, picking up a sachet of sugar placed on the side of the table. She began to systemically tear at the edges, peeling back the paper.
It wasn’t a kind smile. Her father had called it her “hostile takeover” smile.
The idea that Arianne would withhold information about Elia to Rhaenys is wounding, really. She might disagree with her nieces’ ferocity—she’s young, Arianne reminds herself, young and passionate for her cause—but she is family. Family looks after family, and Doran always spoke of the importance of famiy within the Martells. The protected each other—it was what they did.
“I would not withhold information, Rhaenys.” Arianne speaks with brutal honesty. “Elia—your mother was my aunt. She was my father’s most beloved sister and I know nothing about her death. If I did, I woudn’t hesitate.You would know.”
She tore the sugar packet violently, the contents emptying over her hands and the table.
“Thank you,” Rhaenys said, relieved. “If there’s anything I can do, let me know.” She had the Targaryen name, whatever that meant, and there were still people who were loyal to her family.
She realxed back into her chair. She’d been afraid that Arianne…but no, she was family. Arianne wouldn’t keep anything from her, not when it came to her murdered mother.
She stared down at the sugar on the table, the white turning to red in her mind, blood running down Arianne’s hands, and she smiled. That’s all I want, she thought viciously, blood for blood. Lannister blood.
But perhaps that was inappropriate and so Rhaenys forced her eyes up and met her cousin’s eyes.
“How has it been?” she asked gently. “Since Uncle Doran died?”
Frustration was an emotion Arianne had found herself familiar with. She had been frustrated with her father when he hadn’t come out in support of the Targaryen’s (now, with his duties resting on her shoulders, she understood his reluctance), she had been frustrated with Areo for killing the assassin (oh, if she had been able to get her hands on him), frustrated from the false sympathy and fake condolences. Frustration seeped in, and it was hard to get rid of.
“I understand your lust for vengeance, niece. It burns through my veins as much it does yours, and sometimes I think I’m going to explode.” Arianne paused, clearing her throat, avoiding eye contact with Rhaenys completely.
Show no weakness, not even to her.
“When we found out who was responsible for the murder of your Aunt and my Father, whether it’s the Lannisters or anyone else, rest assure, I will end them. There will be no place on Earth that I will not find them.” Arianne’s words are quiet and ferocious. She was never very good at being denied anything, and no one would deprive her this.
“I have—people, looking in to it. They have less qualms about such things the Police hold dear.” she knocked back the dregs of her bitter coffee, “Morals are so quaint and they do tend to get in the way of proceedings.”
“Naturally,” Rhaenys pushed away the latte; it was half empty and cold. “Of course, their reluctance may be due to misplaced loyalty. And money is always a factor, and the Lannisters have a lot of that.”
She paused, stared at the table. “If you knew anything - anything - about my mother’s murder, would you tell me?” it hurt to talk. It hurt to know that for her mother to have justice Rhaenys had been forced to ask for help. A charity case. ”Do you know anything?”
She liked the sudden ferocity Arianne was showing. Of course, all her Martell family were snakes at heart, but they brought all the fire of the sun with them, fire to amtch the dragons. Martells never were very good at composure or patience, not when it came to family. Not when it came to revenge. Rhaenys saw that only as a good thing. Fire burned everyone, even Lannisters.
He’s breathing in angry gusts through his nose, jaw tight. Dared him? Is that what she wants? Another bruise, or another excuse to run to Rhaegar, sniveling about how hehither? The latter, he thinks. She wants me to snap so she can use it against me.
It’s a convenient excuse. Now that he’s dared, taunted, Viserys is wary of the idea, acutely aware of his own fist, of Rhaenys, of the spot on her cheek where he’d hit her before. He doesn’t like being dared. However impossible it might be to fail at this - how could he? he’s bigger, stronger - the chance of him not hitting hard enough, of her laughing at him, of it having no effect, keep his hands at his sides. He’s not brave enough to weather her scorn. In the end, that’s what stills him. Not Rhaegar’s potential reaction, but Rhaenys’. She’s not afraid of him; hitting her won’t accomplish anything. It scares him.
“Get, out,” Viserys hisses.
She laughed to cover up her relief. Her heart hammered in her chest and her head was spinning, but she had one up on his, didn’t she? He hadn’t hit her, she’d won.
“Whatever you say, uncle dear,” she blew him an exaggerated kiss and opened the door, stepped out with one hand on the door frame. “It was simply lovely talking to you.” Or, well, shouting at you. That was fun, too.
Rhaenys honestly had no idea what she’d expected when she’d come here. Explanations, apologies, whatever. Instead she’d gotten…nothing. Just the belief that Viserys was too far gone for anyone to help him, but hadn’t they known that before?
“Good night, uncle,” she said, leaning on the frame, trying to mock him still. “I’ll see you tomorrow!”
And then she laughed again, because there was nothing else to be done, closed the door in his face, and left.
Oh my god.
Lies. It’s a slap Viserys hadn’t thought would hurt him. It would be a lie to say you loved me? He’d suspected it, but having it confirmed makes his fists clench tighter. Rhaenys had been his friend when they were children. Just another thing the Baratheons have taken away from me.
Every word out of her mouth is just an echo in his ears; it’s his father’s voice that’d shrieked the same, that’d already left him bruised enough to bear Rhaenys’ contempt without breaking. “Kept away?” Viserys repeats mockingly, eyebrows lifting. “You’ve beenkept awaywith me. You and Aegon and Dany. I wasn’t the only one dumped in America. And ifIwere Rhaegar, I’d be just as frightened of my dear little daughter shrieking to the press about Lannister corruption.”
His smile when he takes a step towards her is hollow. “I have done something right. Very recently. I shut up a little girl who wouldn’t stop screaming at me, and I’ll do it again if I have to. Do I have to, Rhaenys?”
“Fortunately for everyone, you’re not Rhaegar, are you?” she snapped. “And I’m not an idiot like you, Viserys. I don’t care if my father sent me away, if it was the right thing to do.” Liar, she thought. Rhaenys counted herself lucky that she hadn’t turned out the way Viserys had, after all those years in America. “I’m not going to go bleating to the press in hope of - what was it you were looking for? Trust? Love? Sympathy?”
She smiled at him tightly, a smile to match his own. “I don’t give a fuck about what you have to do,” she told him, mocking. “I don’t give a fuck about you. Do your worst Viserys, I dare you.” She felt a little breathless, high on adrenaline, limbs tight. “I fucking dare you.”
“I know he was!” Viserys bellowed back. He was on his feet and couldn’t remember when he’d stood up, but his head was swimming and he remembered then that he hadn’t eaten. Eating would’ve meant seeing Jon, and he didn’t want to do that. He tried to focus through the blood pounding in his head, his face red with anger.
“I know he was with the Baratheons! Do you think I’m an idiot? But he’s a journalist, I thought—” He was interested in me. He said I could trust him. He’d said the same to Aerys and it’d sounded as pitiful then as it would if he repeated it now. He’d trusted someone and they’d repaid him by dragging him through the mud. It always happens that way.
“Don’t,” he started, teeth baring. ”I said thetruth. If that- if that makes me look mad, then-” ’No son of mine is sick’. ”Then so be it,” he bit out. Her sudden shock at seeing his bruise only made his fists tighten. Did she actually care, or was she happy someone had given him a matching welt beneath his eye?
“Yes, you and poor Aegon,” he spat instead, ignoring her question. ”It’s not as if you’ve attacked me. What would you have said if some reporter asked you about your uncle? Nice things? ’Oh, we love him?’” Viserys sneered. ”I doubt it.”
“Yes, I would have said that!” she shouted. “I would have told all the lies I needed to if it looked the family look good!” Lies? She’d never thought she could stop loving anyone in her family. No sane person could love Viserys, could they?
“So, yes, Viserys I think you’re an idiot,” she was breathing heavily now; the bruise on his cheek had jarred her out of her rage, but if he wanted to keep shouting, she was just fine with that. “I - what did you think it would accomplish?! Really? Did you not think there was a reason you’ve been kept away from people like Loras fucking Tyrell?”
In any other family, Viserys would have help. Medication and doctors and god knew what else to help him. But the Targaryens were not any other family and the public eye was on them. And as cruel as it might be, Rhaenys wanted to blame her uncle for everything that had been going wrong.
“We can’t afford any fuck ups, Viserys, but that’s all you seem to be,” she sneered at him. “Unless you can think of something you’ve ever actually done right?”
Arianne looked at the girl sharply.
“There will be no killing, you hear me?” she said swiftly. “You will not implicate me, or my company in any murder, justified or not. That makes us no worse than them.” Arianne leant forward slightly, looking straight into Rhaenys’ eyes. “Martell Steel is my Father’s legacy. It is my birthright. I will not throw it away on a quest for vengeance, however much be both desire it.”
Arianne would find her own vengeance. It would be swift and silent. It would be her’s, not even shared with her own niece.
She could feel her cheeks burning, anger rising up again in her like vomit. Exhaling, she took a long sip of coffee.
“Of course, I will continue to donate my own personal funds to the Conservative Party and Rhaegar’s campaign. It is what my father would have wished and it is what I want.”
Rhaenys shook her head, irritated at herself. She had not tiptoed around this issue for twenty years to blow any chance at revenge in her first month back in England. “Of course not,” she’d been to rash, too quick to speak. “Sorry. I was just frustrated.”
“But you agree we need revenge?” she took a sip from the latte just to have something to focus on. “Despite what we both may know, as far as the public are concerned, as far as the authorities are concerned, the Lannisters are innocent. We need to change that.”
She was annoyed at Arianne, too. Perhaps she might not want revenge as much as she claimed, or perhaps she simply did not want to share her revenge. But hatred nursed for an entire lifetime was stronger than that a month old. Rhaenys would have revenge, even if she had to resort to murder, and Arianne would not be able to stop her.
“If you don’t want to declare for my father then I’ll your choice,” she stared at her cousin and leaned forward intently. “But I need your help. We need to shame them. The world needs to know what the Lannisters are. All I ask is that you help me with that. That’s it. Please, Arianne.”