(123-02-05) On the Breeding of Dragons
On the Breeding of Dragons
Summary: Vhaerys and Rhaegor seal their plans to make beautiful blonde grandchildren together. Never have two characters been so nauseatingly pleased with themselves.
Date: 18-19/06/2016
Related: To Court a Marriage Contract
Players:
Vhaerys..Rhaegor..

The pavilion in the midst of the gardens at the Dragon Door Manse is the most auspicious place for Rhaegor and Vhaerys to attend to the task yet ahead of them, the signing of the contract that will bind their offspring together in adolescent betrothal. Rhaegor awaits his cousin's arrival at a table carried out for the express purpose of their meeting, a table laden with a fine brocade cloth to cover it, upon which is the contract itself (sketched in ink so dark a crimson as to appear sanguine upon the crisp, pristine vellum), two silver goblets, a decanter of wine, a dagger of Valyrian steel resting upon a tray of gold lavishly inlaid with rubies, and a quill and ink. The braziers are lit, and the air is heavy and close with its heat. Rhaegor occupies the chair on one side of the table; the other is empty, awaiting Vhaerys's arrival.

Of course at every other stage of these so very cautious negotiations between dragons a third goblet has been set out, a third chair placed in arrangement with the others, a third place laid with fine porcelain and crystal.

The exigencies of the moment, however, Prince Rhaegor's imminent departure to Dorne (one must recall he is King Viserys's chosen envoy to that troublesome little kingdom), the summer fever afflicting Prince Vhaeron, the wish of all parties to see matters settled in a timely and above all a tidy fashion, have required Princess Vhaerys to absent herself for an hour from her husband's bedside and sign the necessary documents upon his behalf as well as her own. (Could it be that that canny diplomat planned it this way—?)

To the pavilion she comes in state, accompanied by her personal maester, the captain of her guardsmen, her trio of beauteous handmaidens, all of them unmistakably the Blood of the Dragon — though none so much as she. She is clad in one of her Valyrian gowns, stitched from the finest pale golden sandsilk and fastened at each shoulder with a priceless brooch of rubies and black pearls forming the three-headed dragon which is the sigil of her house, her arms bare but for delicate, looped golden chains, her hair worn loose as a hip-length veil of rippling white and gold; she walks with the same regal and measured pace out of the manse, through the gardens, and directly into the pavilion which has been the scene of so many of her tete-a-tetes with her cousin, her retainers taking up their places in a pattern opposite his, one handmaiden hurrying ahead to hold the door for her so that she need not so much as pause in her progress.

She sits; that chosen handmaiden, the eldest, her favourite inasmuch as she has favourites, kneels to arrange her trailing skirts about her feet, then backs away out of the pavilion, shutting the door without a sound.

"Rhaegor," murmurs the princess, inclining her head.

What an audience is assembled outside of the pavilion, once her numbers combine with his. Showy. Ceremonious. Well suited to the occasion and to the offering they make to their bloodline, the esteemed lineage coursing through his veins as well as hers. Rhaegor stands when his cousin makes her entrance, his pale violet eyes tracking the princess from door to chair. And then it is closed, and she has seated herself, and it is just the two of them.

"Aeksio zaldrizes." He greets her in smooth High Valyrian with the nickname he has come to favor for her: Golden Dragon. He resumes his seat, and presents her with the contract inked on vellum in a business-like, officious manner. Standing on the ceremony. Anything less might risk diminishing the significance of what they are about. The results of their vigorous negotiations have been outlined in writing. All that remains is for their names to be put to paper.

The words bring a faint curve to the princess's lips, she whose armour was emblazoned in her youth with the likeness of the very golden dragon she flew… She receives the contract from him with both hands, inclines her head once more in a ceremonial bow over it, and then sets out the three copies of it side by side on her side of the table. One for the bride's moth— parents. One for the groom's father. One to be lodged in the royal archives.

She is a quick reader, she possesses an attentive eye; it is the work of moments to confirm that all the provisions for the children's future are as they finally agreed, and that all three copies are identical. The scribe's hand is exquisite; his deft, precise work seems pleasing to her. Her eyes lift, to gaze violet into violet, steady and calm, full of the gravity of the moment. "Of course all is in order," she declares quietly, with the assurance of one who assumed it would be. "Do you prefer to sign first, or…?"

Rhaegor watches with the same attention, only his gaze is fixed on Vhaerys while hers speedreads. When they lift and lock on his, and she asks if he prefers to sign before her, he simply cants his head a deferential fraction and in so doing confirms the right as her own.

The heat cast by the incensed braziers is cloying, like something to be worn as a second skin. How often has Rhaegor been in this position in the course of his work for the king? But today's is a singularly unique experience, even if some of its trappings are familiar. Today he commits his only son to her daughter, and though he is entirely patient in waiting for the quill to pass to him, the poignancy of the moment is as palpable as the heat that engulfs them.

The tilt of the princess's head mirrors his, in courteous acceptance; she takes the quill and dips it in the ink, and holds it hovering there just long enough for a dark crimson bead to well up and drip into the inkwell.

Then she signs her name, Vhaerys Targaryen, three times from left to right, with a boldness which is anything but casual. Even an eye as keen as her own would be obliged to strain itself to find any difference between those three sweeping instances of her signature, its clean lines ornamented just enough for elegance, its grandeur and its position commanding and anchoring each page.

She restores the quill to its rest and folds her hands neatly upon the edge of the table to await the drying of the ink. She does not of course hurry. Her every gesture is imbued with that same sense of ritual dignity, of the greatness of this moment, of the future which begins here.

And while the ink dries, Rhaegor sits opposite in regal silence, satisfaction written in the stare with which he holds his cousin's eye in the wake of her signatures.

"Rijes aot," he declares. Praise to you.

The deal is half done. All that is left is for him to make it fully so. When she presents him with the triplicate copies of the betrothal contract, when her ink has bled into the page and dried upon it, Rhaegor takes up the quill and repeats the very same ritual she did just earlier. With a fresh coat of ink on its pointed tip, he scratches his name opposite hers, one after another. His signature seems to convey the same effortless authority as the signatory himself; on the page, the crimson ink stands in stark relief from the pale vellum, Rhaegor Targaryen penned strong and bold upon it.

When Rhaegor's gaze lifts from the third contract, Vhaerys's awaits. "Praise to you," she echoes, speaking as always in that ancient tongue more natural to them than any other; "praise to our children, and our children's children."

Whilst he turns those vellum pages a second time, to align them with the open third side of the table, away from their chairs and their wine, it is she who first takes up the Valyrian steel dagger from its gem-inlaid golden tray next to the inkwell. Rising, she calmly cuts open her right palm. Her left hand offers the dagger to him, over the contracts; her Targaryen blood wells up.

Rhaegor watches the blood well, and he takes the proffered dagger, mirroring her gesture and inflicting the same ceremonial cut upon himself. This phase of the proceedings is no more rushed than the earlier ones; every step is painstakingly executed. He returns the dagger to its tray. The blood of the dragon springs from his own palm, and he demonstrates it to her, his hand extended in offering.

Gazes meet and then hands, dragon's blood mingling in a long, firm clasp which brings them both from their opposite sides of the table to stand together, united as they shall be henceforth, by bonds of blood and kinship more powerful and more enduring even than those which called them to one another in the making of this alliance. They do not rush to relinquish the formal touch of hands pleasantly warmed by the pavilion's great heat. But then it is time. Thumbs are touched to bloodied palms and leave next to each signature the reddish prints which make of this contract a sacred thing, in Targaryen eyes.

Upon completing this stage of the ceremony, sealing with blood what they have already committed to with ink, Rhaegor attends to the only matter left outstanding. The quill.

He leaves Vhaerys's side, offering her a formal bow before moving away from her. The quill with which they signed their names is retrieved from its tray. On his way to one of the myriad burning braziers, Rhaegor pauses to offer Vhaerys his hand, and when she accepts it, they move to the heatsource together.

"May our blood flow a hundred, hundred years," he utters lowly before giving the writing utensil to the flame, its feathery tendrils crisping and burning in a heartbeat. Never again will it be wetted with ink. Never will it know a lesser purpose than the one it has this night.

The blood spilt in the present is already drying; the pressure of one hand clasping the other, repeated as Vhaerys places her hand in Rhaegor's and permits him to escort her to the brazier, has begun to seal their cuts, as it has sealed their contract. With each step she takes her golden gown whispers over the pavilion's black marble floor; then she is still, perfectly and portentously still, gazing into that feather-devouring flame.

“I have dreamt it,” she answers simply.

They stand before the broiling brazier a moment longer, and then two, in reverent silence. Rhaegor watches the licking flames, as if looking for a portent in them that will confirm what she has already seen in her dreams. His hand, the one hers holds, is held high between them; her palm is but one further thing he places on a proverbial pedestal. He elevates it further still, bringing her knuckles to his lips. He kisses them.

Feeling her hand lifted to a still-greater height Vhaerys turns from her contemplation of the brazier, from her savouring of its heat, and meets her cousin's violet eyes with her own as his lips brush her skin. This tribute she receives as though it is as much her due as his desire to join his lineage with her own; she gazes at him with the regal and confident recognition of one dragon for another, an equality it is given to neither of them often to feel.

After another long moment she suggests, "Let me tend your hand." It won't be the first time he has accepted her ministrations in that regard.

And in nigh any other circumstance Rhaegor would decline the offer as unnecessary, on account of the minute nature of the incision. Instead he inclines his head in acceptance, and offers Vhaerys his thanks with another low utterance. Then he turns and leads them back once more.

Two bowls of cool, fragrant water stand waiting upon one of the benches which line the pavilion; and, between them, another golden tray upon which hands acquainted with Vhaerys's precise mind have laid out two untouched cakes of soap in exquisite porcelain dishes, two folded drying cloths, two strips of clean white linen prepared for use as bandages, and a dainty crystal jar which (as Rhaegor well knows) contains the ointment called Myrish fire.

First of course they must both, sitting to either side of these ideally symmetrical arrangements, wash their hands clean of their own and the other's Targaryen blood. Vhaerys's gown, sleeveless, was perhaps chosen out of her extensive and opulent wardrobe with hand-washing in mind.

"You are to depart early in the morning…?" she inquires, in a manner less ceremonial and more conversational, hastening to wash and to dry her own hands, lest she bleed any more upon her cousin or anything else.

"Indeed," Rhaegor confirms, his own garb not selected with handwashing explicitly in mind, and yet given the utilitarian manner of his attire, his cuffs do not interfere whatsoever with the process.

She knows already that this is not one of his usual short jaunts, and that he will be away for several months. She knows, and it is why they finalized the contract in the manner they have, lest the opportunity escape them. "Viseron and the girls will join us in Dorne," he further informs her. And then his intent in so saying is immediately revealed. "They will accompany us back to Oldtown. The girls will remain with us for a time, but Viseron will shortly thereafter be sent to Dragonstone." To embark upon the path to knighthood. A prerequisite of his marriage to Ardaerys.

One of Vhaerys's hands swiftly anoints and binds up the other, the folded end of the bandage making a soft pad against the palm of her hand, the end which has been cut in advance wrapping round and round before being tied in a neat knot. She reaches next for Rhaegor's hand, pressing his drying cloth against the cut for another moment to staunch what little bleeding there is, and then dropping the cloth with her own on the floor at their feet and turning his palm up towards her. "Our plans have been delayed, of course, by my husband's illness; we shall remain in Oldtown until he is quite well," she explains. A manicured fingertip trails across his flesh, a caress stinging and burning with Myrish fire. "It is our intention to bring Ardaerys with us to Oldtown; perhaps we might find an opportunity, between your own travels, to introduce the children to one another here. Better that it should be done so, than that they should meet by chance," she says firmly, wrapping his bandage about his hand just as her own, with her usual careful, professional, impersonal touch.

"I will ensure that we have the opportunity," Rhaegor confirms, not so much as flinching when the Myrish fire is swept across his palm, though his jaw briefly sets against its initial scorch. Vhaerys has seen the price he paid to survive Qarth, the scars that mar his flesh; the temporary singe is nothing compared to what it has taken to heal him before. When the bandage is applied, he flexes his palm to test it, and then he thanks her.

The princess inclines her head slightly in acceptance of his thanks; "I'm sure you think me unnecessarily concerned," she suggests, clasping her now idle hands upon the smooth golden silk flowing over her lap, "but the smallest of wounds might endanger a man's life if it were to fester… I have seen, at the Citadel, such extraordinary cadavers. And why should our kin not see upon us some small mark of what we have done this evening…?" She shrugs elegantly. "I imagine we shall return to Oldtown by the end of the sixth month; unless the child finds the city too overwhelming," unless, in a word, the child is difficult, "we shall keep her with us from then on. Such an opportunity might easily be found, when you return from your sojourn in Dorne… In the company, perhaps, of your wife—?" And she raises an eyebrow, inquiring delicately into the progress of his betrothal to Emira of Dorne.

Rhaegor glances sidelong at Vhaerys, perhaps inwardly marveling at her enduring ability to practically read his mind. "The original intent was that we would marry at Dragonstone, in contrast to the marriage of Visenya and Torren at Sunspear." His words are slow, carefully chosen. Just enough to confirm that it is now no longer his intent, if ever the original was. And, too, his marriage to his first wife, the Velaryon who had to be sent off to the motherhouse, was a large and lavish affair at Dragonstone in the day. Perhaps he reckons he has paid his due on that account.

Where she sits on the bench Vhaerys has been sitting also upon the ends of her hair; she rises, becoming again a pillar of gold, hair floating softly about her as she glides toward the table set in the very centre of the pavilion. "So I understood," she agrees quietly. Her long white arms, draped with golden chains, reach out to pour the wine which has been breathing all this while in the anticipation of a toast. Showing Rhaegor her profile, and studying him perhaps with one eye, she adds, "Some might consider the symbolism unfortunate, if your marriage were to be solemnised also in Sunspear. In these matters there must always be a certain balance, surely…? And yet Dragonstone might well be considered inconvenient for the lady's kin."

"She has restored me from the fever that had begun once more to boil in my blood," Rhaegor says as he joins Vhaerys alongside the table, his eyes on the wine rather than her formidable, glorious profile. "I would end my days in Dorne, if she wished it." And so to him it is nothing to spite the wishes of others and marry her there. But still, Vhaerys makes a pointed, delicate suggestion, and he concurs with a low sound of approval.

The wine is an Arbor red, of course, and of a vintage so sublime there can't be more than two or three other bottles of it left in all of Westeros. Vhaerys replaces the stopper in the decanter and takes up both goblets, offering her cousin his choice; if she is surprised by his words, she reveals it only by the way her attitude of cordial interest seems to set itself in place, becoming a mask rather than a fluid expression of her feelings. "Let us hope," she suggests, "that she does not wish it." The goblet she retains, she lifts to him; "Our grandchildren," is her entirely natural toast.

It is an entirely natural toast, by Rhaegor's reckoning. He mirrors it, in the lift and then in the drink he takes from his cup of the precious Arbor red. His eyes wander, afterward, to the three sets of contracts. "I will leave the third in your care?" he queries, even if just to reconfirm their existing understanding of who will file the record copy.

Vhaerys's first mouthful of that glorious red was swallowed at once, with their toast; her second she lets linger upon her palate, in appreciation of its bouquet. And then she nods: "Of course. We'll be passing through King's Landing more than once in the coming months and I shall myself see it given into the archivist's care. You need have no concern, cousin." She speaks lightly and yet with certainty; and all the world knows she is not a woman given to the uttering of excuses, or the shirking of duties. "It is a great satisfaction, is it not, to have the matter concluded before we go our separate ways—? … I wish you just such a swift and suitable resolution in, shall I say, your other family matters." Another lift of her goblet.

"With my thanks," Rhaegor says, lifting his cup a second time and then drinking fluently of the red, parting from it only to echo the same words he'd greeted her with. Golden one. What, precisely, he thanks her for is not stipulated. It could be her well wishes or how readily she takes carriage of the contract that must yet be filed or for the bandage is bound snug to his palm or for the future they forge together or the friendship they have wrought.

Before they part company, he kisses her again; this time to the cheek, in a lingering gesture reflective of the farewell it represents and the time that will pass before they meet again.

The princess's wide red mouth curves into a slight, wistful smile, for she is perhaps thinking of that same distance in time and space; and then her lips brush his cheek in turn before their joined hands separate.

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