(122-06-10) The Will of the King
The Will of the King
Summary: Rhaegor returns from King's Landing with the fate of his betrothal to Visenya decided.
Date: 10 June 2015
Related: Seeds of Peace

It was over a month ago that Rhaegor left for Dorne, leaving Visenya to care for her growing hatchlings on her own. Rather than return directly to Oldtown from Sunspear, though, he and his men made a stop at King's Landing, or so the raven she received from him a week and a half ago seemed to indicate. And now, late one evening, without warning, his party arrives unannounced at Dragon Door Manse, as road weary as their horses for having ridden hard and fast to cut the journey as short as they reasonably might.

Her maid comes to her, all hushed and excited whispers, to let Visenya know that the prince has returned, and that he has requested to see her. When she finds him in his chamber, he's washed the dust from his face and hair, but still wears his riding leathers. One of his men, a Velaryon, is with him. It's grim faces all around. The atmosphere is palpable. "Visenya," he says, when he lays eyes on her. The nuance in his tone says more than anything he might, in so succinct a fashion.

Visenya had just sat down in front of her vanity to prepare herself for sleep. When word came that Rhaegor had returned she hastily put on one of her looser and easier-to-wear gowns, and rushed over to his room. She looks like she may rush up to him to embrace, but his Valaryon man, and both the men's grim looks cause her to pause. Her steps slow, and her eyes sweep over him slowly before she says in a small, confused and worry-laden voice, "Rhaegor?"

He embraces her anyway, a hand clasping the back of her head and burying in her hair, pulling her against his broad chest. Rhaegor holds her captive there, briefly, without affection exactly, but more like desperation. "We must ride for Dorne, princess," the Velaryon says, as Rhaegor forces himself to let her go. He leads her by the elbow to a chair, urging her to take the proffered seat before his man can say any more. Rhaegor shoots him a warning look over her head.

Her hair has grown since he saw her last, and it is thick and heavy in his hands. She lifts her arms up to wrap them around his neck as he holds her to his chest. When the Velaryon says they must go to Dorne she turns her head up and gives Rhaegor a hopelessly lost look. "Why?" And then he is leading her towards the chair, and she sits down as he silently asks. "I can't go to Dorne. Rhaegor…" Her eyes widen slightly, "My dragons are gone!"

As if what already wore him weary weren't enough, she tells him the hatchlings are gone. Rhaegor's jaw sets, the muscle in it tensing. "Gone?" he echoes, putting his hands on her shoulders as he stands before her. He grips them sternly. "What has happened? Why did you not send word?"

"…I didn't know where you were in Dorne. I sent word to Sunspear, but you must have been traveling." Visenya stares up at him for several heartbeats before she shakes her head. "They flew off with their mother… After someone played those Valyrian Steel panpipes the Hightowers have."

Rhaegor closes his eyes, a hand sweeping back the wet hair from his face. He stands there stoic, icy, unmoving, as though he'd been carved from stone rather than wrought in flesh and blood. The Velaryon is unsettled. He has been to Qarth and back by the prince's side, and knows what it looks like when Rhaegor grapples with the thrumming force of the rage he works so hard to keep buried within himself. King's Landing was trying enough; this development truly tests him.

"Apparently Lord Ormund's son got a hold of the panpipes, and played them at Prince Dhraegon and Lady Marsei's betrothal. They burnt up the window in my room, and broke the glass before flying out." Visenya says this is a dispirited voice. "I just returned myself after I went looking for them. …I didn't find them." She looks downwards as if ashamed. "I had planned on riding out again for them. If I go to Dorne they may be lost to me…"

Rhaegor hears this all out, eyes still closed, unflinching, unmoving. When at last he opens them, he says gravely, "We must leave within a fortnight. I will spend every waking moment between now and then searching for them." He pauses, looking to the Velaryon, sharing a look with the man that communicates, implicitly, that all their waking hours will be spent to this end, not only Rhaegor's. "But there is no question that you must travel with us."

Visenya tilts her head back to stare up at him. Her eyes are wide and she even looks slightly afraid at this statement that she must travel to Dorne. "Why?" She asks finally.

"It is the king's will," Rhaegor answers, maybe because it is the simplest, most practical and direct distillation of the reality of their situation. He looks to the Velaryon again, and says quietly, "Perhaps you should leave us now." The man has already moved for the door by the time the prince suggests it; so much between them is understood through a glance or a gesture. When he is gone, Rhaegor palms Visenya's cheek, briefly, and then paces toward the window to look out at the night sky. "He has refused to acknowledge our betrothal." It's a death sentence for them as a couple.

Visenya tries to remain stoic when Rhaegor says those words. She keeps her chin high and although tears begin to gloss her amethyst colored eyes she keeps them at bay. "Why?" She finally manages to choke out. "Have I done something to displease him?" She stands up from the chair to stand behind Rhaegor, and leans her front against his back. She presses her cheek into the back of his riding leathers, and puts her arms around his waist. "You will marry Mariya, then?" She asks after a moment of silence, "…But why must I go and see this?"

Rhaegor shifts, to loosen her hold on him, as though it were easier to deliver the news without the weight of her against his back. His words sound practiced, but then he had time to try to perfect the manner in which he would deliver this news. "There must be peace with Dorne. As a gesture of good faith, both houses will present a bride and a groom." The implication goes unspoken. This will allow a cross-seeding of the houses, ensuring succession on both sides of the coin goes to the issue of the two arranged marriages, to the mutual benefit of Dorne and the Crown.

Visenya gives his back a sad look when he shrugs her off of him. She stares at it hopelessly before she says in a quiet little voice. "Oh." She understands what this means. "I am to replace Daevon, then? Not you." She is trying very hard to keep her emotions out of her voice, and to remain neutral, but a little bit of a quiver remains in her voice. "Rhaegor….?" She reaches forward to touch him again, but stops short.

"We must both of us replace him," Rhaegor says lowly, turning away from the window when she beseeches him in that quiet, quivering voice. His expression is a reflection of the war within his heart, but there is resolve in it too. He is a servant of the Crown, and has made a career of doing the king's bidding; this is no different. But, too, he had allowed himself to envision the life they might lead together, and has already begun to abandon those notions one by one. He does not reach for her. Instead, he says, "Forgive me, Visenya. I ought have secured his blessing before ever a word was spoken to you. It's only that I thought…" Well, he thought that one arranged marriage in his lifetime would have been all that was expected of him.

"You are not to blame." Visenya says sadly. She watches him long enough to see that resolve in him. To know that he is hardening his heart against her. And that is when the tears begin in ernest. "Will you not comfort me tonight, at least? Or will you treat me as if I were a stranger to you?" She reaches for him instead, her hand curling around one of the straps on his leathers, "That I cannot marry you does not change my heart. Please Rhaegor…"

Rhaegor's expression would seem to indicate that they have a difference of opinion on the matter, for not only is there resolve in his pale, violet stare, but guilt, mingling in conflict with desire as she reaches for him. Desire that has been held painstakingly at bay, unindulged and unrealized, in anticipation of their marriage. And now the finality of the king's proclamation renders a most damning verdict: It is not to be. Rhaegor hardly wants to refuse her, but feels condemned to. "You will never be a stranger to me," he vows against her ear, bending his head to it as she steps in against his chest. The rest goes unspoken. Neither will they be lovers.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Visenya=Charm Vs Rhaegor=mind
< Visenya: Amazing Success Rhaegor: Success
< Net Result: Visenya wins - Crushing Victory

Visenya tilts her lips upwards to whisper back, "There is only tonight for us, Rhaegor. After tonight…" She stops speaking, and instead puts her arms around his neck to draw her down to him, and if he allows it she presses a deep kiss to his lips. Her mouth is salty from the taste of her tears, and there is a desperation as she presses closer to him. As if this is truly the last time.

Well, when she lures him into the kiss, Rhaegor cannot help himself but to sink into it, to taste the tears on her lips, to fall prey to the temptation that has been broiling all the while between them. He cups her cheeks to brace her upturned face against the might of his kiss, lingering in it for longer than he might like to admit. It's harsh, the way he forces her back, away from him, releasing her resolutely from the kiss with an aggrieved sound rife with frustration. "If there is any happiness to be had for you in Dorne, I would not stand in the way of it," he says, crossing the room just to be away from her. He seems to head for the door. To recall the Velaryon, perhaps?

Visenya's grip around his neck tightens as he kisses her. It's as if she can't bear to be parted from him, and when he pushes away from her so violently it takes all of her might not to weep in ernest. "I should hope that you will find some happiness as well, my love." She responds in a weak, sad voice. "And perhaps I won't feel so badly about this given time, but right now it feels like I could weep enough to refill the Summer Sea." As he goes to the door she squeezes her eyes shut to suppress another bout of tears.

Both their beds will be cold tonight. Rhaegor reaches the door and goes to open it for her, unceremoniously indicating that perhaps it is time she take her leave. But before she goes, he takes her by the elbow to halt her, visibly ill at ease to be made to watch her cry, to be forced to convey such dark tidings when he'd hoped and pledged to return with Crown support for their union. "I cannot imagine that there is room for happiness in this life for me. But yours would be enough and more. Even if I will not be the one to inspire it." His heart is as heavy as his words, his distance intended to be a mercy for them both, even if he struggles to keep a firm grasp on his resolve.

"How do you know there will be happiness for me, Rhaegor?" Visenya asks, her tone suddenly bitter. "Men get to marry pretty young things. Not women. Not me. How do you know they won't punish me for Daevon's insults? I may marry some fat old cousin of theirs, and he will…" She trails off as if the thought of it repulses her. She was told from the moment she could understand that she would likely never pick her own mate. That marriage was her duty and not her pleasure. But now that she almost had such pleasure with Rhaegor she can't imagine that it will be better any other way. She touches the hand on her wrist because she is certain this will be the last time she can touch him. "Don't make me leave." She pleads. "Please Rhaegor. Once I walk out this door…."

The election of a bride has never been within Rhaegor's control, either. Visenya was his attempt at it, and all for naught. The difference between them is that he has learned to abide his bitterness, to put it away in a corner of his mind, to focus on service and duty and honor and not to count the losses he has known in life. She is but one more addition to a long, miserable list. It's almost as if he has stopped hearing her, or at least he doesn't try to placate her. "Our fate was decided before you walked through it," he tells her with an air of regret.

Visenya does not like having no control of things. "Damn you." She says with sudden venom in her voice. She cannot lash out at the King for this decision. Or the Cockshaws or Blackmonts for making this happen with their hatred, "Damn you for being complacent, and not fighting harder for me!" The tears stop flowing, and instead her eyes burn with a rage in them that can barely be contained. "And damn you for not being man enough to take me right here! Damn you for not loving me enough for that!" She lifts a hand to strike him then because she can think of nothing else to do but to make herself hate him.
<FS3> Opposed Roll — Visenya=brawl Vs Rhaegor=alertness
< Visenya: Good Success Rhaegor: Great Success
< Net Result: Rhaegor wins - Solid Victory

It's easier for Rhaegor when her tears dry and her despair turns to venomous rage. Her biting words only reconfirm what he feels in his heart; that he ought have done more, that he architected the situation and its failure and ought have navigated it all so much differently. That Daevon would not marry Mariya had been a foregone conclusion. He should have anticipated that he would be tapped to stand in and fill the role the Maiden Knight could not. Would not. Hard enough to find himself subject to another marriage he'd no say in; worse, still, to watch her be subject to the same fate right under his nose. Rhaegor can sense the strike before it comes, and contemplates lifting a hand to catch her wrist to block it. The flit of his gaze gives him away as the thought crosses his mind. But he doesn't, and nor does he flinch when her blow finds purchase. It's nothing compared to his internal warring against himself.

She expected him to stop her, and when he doesn't and her hand connects with the flesh of his face she lets out a choked sound of despair and puts her arms around his neck. "Rhaegor…" She leans forward to kiss him where she hit him. "Rhaegor I'm sorry. I just can't bear this. I can't! I don't want to part from you like this." She reaches down to take his hand, and entwines her fingers with his. "There is no shame in having loved me. There isn't. And even if you can't say it later or show me later you can show me now." She lifts his hand to press it to her cheek.

Rhaegor tolerates the kiss and the arms around his neck, but not the twining of fingers; at that, he takes her by the elbows and holds her at bay. Her pleading is futile, and he steers her to the doorway. "Have your maid draw you a bath and see you to bed," he tells her lowly, reaching past her to open the door. "We must both of us rest if we are to have any hope of tracking your dragons."

"I don't need your help." Visenya spits out. It feels like a double rejection to her. Not only are they not to be wed, but he is rejecting her as a woman. "That's all I was to you, wasn't I? A decent marriage prospect. You never loved me. Not really." That said she starts for the door once it is opened at a fast pace. She pauses then before spitting out, "Who am I to wed? Probably not Prince Alaryn, although that would be fitting."

Rhaegor is content to let her curse him all the way down the hall without comment, knowing her outburst for what it is and not what she tries to make it seem to be. They are hot words, not genuine ones, and he simply lacks the spirit to argue with her over them. She was right, at least, that he has resigned himself to this sentence, even if she knows nothing of his effort to avert it.

He cannot help himself, though, in one respect. "Why should Prince Alaryn be more fitting a match than any of his brothers?"

"Why do you think, Rhaegor?" Visenya asks in a tired voice. She told him she wasn't a maiden. Now must be the time for the whole truth. "Am I to marry one of Princess Amarei's sons or one of her brothers? Tell me of my groom." She sounds tense. The idea of marrying a man who may be a brother to her former lover brings some unease to her. And perhaps she says it a little to wound him.

It works. Rhaegor's jaw sets once more, and the hand still laid to rest on the door shifts to begin to pull it closed. "A son, I gather," he says, giving her the consolation she seeks, but little more. "Leave me now. On the morrow I will visit the Hightower and investigate the instrument that summoned your dragons." It's final, and he all but shuts the door in her face.

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