AN: Sorry for the long absence. I'm an archaeologist and i spent the last several months in South America in an area with minimal electricity. Not to mention internet. This story is not dropped I do work on it. Am still looking for a Beta as i can only review my own work so many times before i get bored and give up.
Please leave reviews for thoughts and feedback all is appreciated.
The following morning Margaery found herself moving toward the Godswood for breakfast with Hadrian. She was thinking of her father's reaction this morning to the news of her impending courtship to the Prince. To say he was excited would be a gross understatement. She honestly worried he would die from over-excitement. She shook her head smiling at her father's antics. He was a fool but a kind man. Margaery had to remind him that a courtship was not a promise and could be broken. It just meant that the two people involved were allowed to be together and it not be viewed as unseemly.
She was almost in the Godswood and she smiled slightly to herself. She had a gift for the Prince and she was hoping he would accept it. She had seen the looks every other girl of even slightly appropriate age had given Hadrian at the feast last night. She was rather determined to show them that for the time being she was winning and to stay away. Walking around the corner she wasn't surprised to see Ser Barristan and Jon standing guard for the Prince. Jon gave her a small smile and waved her on in and she nodded her thanks. She found the Prince in the exact same place as the previous day, and she was already enjoying the calming feel of the Godswood. Hadrian smiled up at her and she felt herself return the smile. She observed him for a moment and decided that the Prince was better looking than the 'pretty' she would describe her brother as, more rugged.
"Margery," he said, "you look stunning this morning, the warm colors truly suit you."
She smiled in return glad he appreciated her efforts. She wore a darker yellow gown with green accents today. It was as close as she could get to his own house colors and matched him well with his black clothing and yellow trim.
"Thank you, Hadrian." She said joining him at the low table he had set up. It had simple bread and fruit on it with some jam as well.
"Here, have some water. I'm afraid I don't have anything stronger here. It's a little too early in the day for me to have a drink." Hadrian said, pouring her a glass from a pitcher on the table.
She accepted the offered drink gladly and settled in to enjoy the time. For a while they simply sat and chatted about nothing important developing an easy back and forth. They also touched on the short-term future with Margaery learning much about his current plans up to and shortly after his coronation. She was rather surprised to learn he would be King so soon and realized things would be moving forward quickly after this tournament was over.
They also talked more in depth about the developments he had planned for the Crownlands growth and expansion. It seemed he truly valued her opinion and thought through what she said carefully. This made her quite satisfied with her decision and somewhat excited to help him with these projects and ideas he had partially developed. Sadly, their time was soon over and he had to leave for the melee, but before he did there was something she wanted to do.
"Hadrian would you do something for me?" she asked calmly. Not giving away the loud thumping of her heart.
He raised a brow in question before she continued. She pulled out a green scarf with a gold rose and she smiled as he started to grin. "You want me to wear your colors today?" Hadrian asked.
She blushed for some reason that she didn't want to think about at the moment and said, "yes I would. If you wanted to that is?" She finished questioningly.
He just smiled at her and walked closer to where they were just a few inches from the other. She realized just how much taller than her he was. He quite literally towered over her but rather than be intimidated she was comforted by his calm presence. When he smiled at her she couldn't help but get lost in the bright green of his eyes. 'Those eyes are very dangerous,' she thought, feeling a warmth low in her stomach.
He reached forward and grabbed her scarf carefully and continued to almost caress her hands. They were rough and calloused but held her like the most brittle of flowers. "I would be honored, Margaery." He said quietly, raising her hands to kiss them briefly. Not looking away from her eyes. For a moment they just stared at the other. For how long she could not say, but just as quickly as it came it ended and Hadrian stepped away still smiling at her.
"I need to be going, my Lady," he said looking regretful. "I will gladly wear this today and I will win for you." He grinned in a way she could only describe as cocky, but it made her laugh all the same. She watched as he walked away and found herself looking forward to tomorrow morning and their next time together.
Hadrian sat in his tent yet again waiting for the melee to begin. He was not the first up this time but around the middle so he had quite some time. He was already in his armor but today he had a dark yellow cloak on as well. He looked at the scarf in his hands thinking about the woman to which it belonged, and could only smile. He liked her. There it was simple and plain. She seemed kind and confident, but he could see the intelligence in her eyes and the way she spoke.
His magic still 'perked up' around her, and it was a feeling he was coming to enjoy. Even if it was rather difficult to describe even to himself. He really appreciated his ability to feel people with his magic. It helped him create a general idea about what kind of person an individual would be. For example, Baelish felt oily and black like a sickness. His Grandfather and Mother both felt…grey. Which he thought was fitting. Neither was evil but they weren't good either. Margery, Myrcella, and Tommen were bright lights. Though Margery's had small tendrils of grey throughout telling him that she had lost her innocence of the world, but was still inherently a good person. Very similar to his own aura though he was even darker closer to Tywin's than Margery. Probably due to the fact that he had personally killed people before. He actually rather enjoyed the rush of battle or even a good fight.
He took the scarf and tied it around his neck so the rose would show from the front. He grinned as he thought of the reaction it would cause. Maybe now some of those simpering fools would leave him alone. But he was truly happy to wear it. If she wanted to claim him, who was he to deny her?
Checking the progress of the melee with a servant he found he was almost up. He stood and checked his armor and shield for any issues. Then he felt out the runes with his magic making sure they were operating correctly. Not feeling any flaws or feedback issues he then checked his sword. Darkheart, the Valyrian steel sword his Grandfather had given him only the other day, would be making its debut. He could feel a slight amount of magic in the steel of the blade. This told him that imbuing magic into the metal was probably part of its creation. He hadn't put any runes on the blade, and wasn't planning to. He was worried it might mess up its current magic. He had put cleaning runes on the scabbard though. This would clean the blade of anything whenever he put the sword back in its scabbard.
The only rune he planned on adding was a set that would make it impossible to remove the blade from his hand by force. He would be carving this into the handle and thereby avoid interrupting the magic of the blade itself. Clipping the scabbard onto his belt he drew the blade and moved with it through a few patterns before he was satisfied that everything was correct. Now sure that everything was correct with his equipment he walked towards the arena. The previous match must have just ended because he could hear the crowd chanting his apparent nickname.
'This Black Prince moniker is amusing and I can see where they got it from. I mean my armor is black and yea kind of easy.' Hadrian chuckled quietly to himself. Walking into the arena he looked around as the common people cheered loudly and the Lords and Ladies clapped politely. Other than his family of course. Myrcella and Shireen were waving excitedly and Tommen was chanting with the crowd. His Mother was smiling widely just like his Father. Tywin, Stannis, Tyrion, and Jamie seemed to be smiling slightly with pride clear on their faces. Whereas Renly seemed to be attempting to glare. 'Must be pissed I smacked his lover down a bit. Whatever Renly is a spineless shit and I'll be removing him soon enough.' Hadrian thought glad his expressions were hidden by his helmet.
He watched as his opponent Thoros of Myr came back into the arena after a small break. He had beat most of the other fighters in the melee so Hadrian would be taking him very seriously. 'No flashy moves just finish this quickly and efficiently,' Hadrian thought.
The trumpeter announced the start and Hadrain drew his sword getting low and raising his shield. It covered him from thigh to neck and was an excellent defense. Holding his sword just to the side he waited for Thoros to make the first move, and he did. He lit his sword on fire and charged right at him. The fire was a neat trick but really didn't add anything to his blade. Not that he could feel with his magic anyway.
Carefully moving he pushed out and deflected Thoros' blade to the side, but he shocked Thoros by punching forward and smashing him hard with his shield into the front of his helmet. Now stunned he kept going repeatedly beating Thoros pushing him into the corner until he stumbled. Then Hadrian, throwing all his weight behind it, punched him hard in the throat with his steel gauntlet. Thoros collapsed like a doll with its strings cut gasping for breath. Hadrian quickly stepped back into his corner while the crowd cheered and clapped, and Thoros was taken off to the medical tent.
Just like the previous day Hadrian beat each opponent either by proving his expertise with a shield, or his ability with a blade. He had even cut one Knights cheap blade in half when he struck it dead on. The crowd loved him and Hadrian got some much-needed experience in fighting random opponents rather than the same people he did every day in training. Not every opponent had been easy though. Ser Alain Dondarrion and Ser Valmar Royce being the most impressive. Hadrian actually thought he may talk with Ser Barristan about the two men. They each had other brothers in their houses and might be good choices as replacements for his Kingsguard.
Eventually the melee ended and Hadrian was again crowned the winner. He was bruised and beaten. Several opponents had made it a close match. All this told Hadrain was that he needed more practice so that he would be better in the future. Going back to his tent he was not surprised when he had barely taken off his helmet before his family was walking into the tent. Or in the younger members case sprinting and jumping onto him.
"Hadrian, Hadrian you won! I can't believe it, you were so amazing out there!" Myrcella said, giving him a bone crushing hug. Shireen and Tommen were each attached to a leg like they would never let go and Hadrian just laughed and returned their affection.
"Thank you, very much dear sister, but do you think you could give me a moment to get out of this armor?" The assembled children blushed before they stepped away and sat in a few of the spare chairs. His uncle's man Davos Seaworth 'the Onion Knight' who was probably here to take care of Shireen. Helped him take off his armor while he answered the many questions from the younger audience. His mother came in with his grandfather as he was finishing up. This was about what he expected the other members of his family would see him later or had other duties to get too.
His Mother waited until he was free and gave him a very tight hug that he returned. Then she turned to his siblings and said, "see your brother lets me hug him when I wish. Much like I do to you, and he doesn't get embarrassed he just returns it with a smile."
"But Mother," Myrcella exclaimed, "we are older now not children."
"I will let Mother hug me even when I have children of my own," Hardin said. "It's part of her right as my Mother and as yours." His siblings just sighed while Shireen giggled. It was a common topic for them. His mother just smiled at him and took a seat next to Tywin.
"You did very well today Hadrian, Jamie and I were very impressed. He requests time to spar with you to help you fix the one or two errors he found in your blade work. However, he did say your skills with a shield, and the way you use it were flawless. So, congratulations," he finished with a proud smile.
"Thank you Grandfather. I appreciate it and will be sure to set aside time to get that help. I would appreciate it, and I believe I know what he is talking about. I admittedly have focused on my defense and know I need more practice with my sword." Hadrian replied looking thoughtful.
"I thought you did great Brother," Tommen said smiling over at him. "I wish I could fight like you do."
"Tommen I'm as good as I am because I work hard and always have. However, I do have a bit of natural ability, according to Uncle Jamie, which has helped me learn faster." Hadrian said, giving him a kind smile. "You are still young and from what I've heard doing well in your current lessons. I have spoken with Grandfather and Mother though and your training in weapons will soon increase. I expect you to try to be the best you can alright?" His brother nodded in understanding and his Mother gave him an appreciative smile. She had asked him to talk to Tommen about the issue because he had been hesitant at the idea of increasing his weapons training.
Then he caught the glint in Myrcella's eyes and he almost groaned aloud. "So Brother dearest, is there a reason you are wearing Lady Margaerys' scarf?" Shireen giggled and Tommen blushed slightly. His Mother looked at him expectantly and Hadrian just sighed.
"Well dearest Sister if you must now Margaery and I are going to enter a courtship together. This was to be announced later today at the closing feast." Hadrian said with a smile.
His sister and Shireen squealed and ran over to hug him while Tommen blushed a bright red and his Mother smiled somewhat sadly. Tywin just nodded in agreement with Hadrian's decision seeming to have expected this. Ser Davos seemed surprised so Hadrian was glad it wasn't known throughout the entire Kingdoms yet.
"Congratulations Brother, she is very beautiful, but be sure to treat her right, do you understand?" Myrcella said, glaring at him slightly.
Hadrian just laughed and kissed her head, "I promise Myrcella. I will be a true gentleman." He could hear his Mother chuckle quietly, and gave her a grin Myrcella couldn't see.
"Good!" she replied, smiling at him.
Margaery was dealing with a very different experience with her own sibling. They were back in their apartments in the Red Keep where Margaery had gone to change into a much more formal dress. After getting ready and being satisfied with her appearance she sat out on the balcony eating a small meal. The door to their apartment slammed open and her brother Loras rushed in looking about. His arm was in a sling, his chest was wrapped, and he was looking rather beat up from his loss in the joust yesterday.
He looked at her and she could see his jaw clench and she sighed. 'By the gods is he really going to be upset over this?' Margaery thought already knowing what Loras was mad about. She watched as he strode over and threw himself into a chair across from her like a child throwing a tantrum.
"So," he spat, "the Prince was wearing your favor in the melee today. What in the seven hells do you think you're doing shaming me like that? You're supposed to be my Sister and support me not throw yourself at the Prince like some cheap whore!" Loras said, getting progressively louder.
Margaery didn't see it but Olenna came in through the door and heard Loras' words but she paused to see what Margaery would do. To her delight Margaery stood up and slapped Loras in the face.
"Do not ever say that about me again Loras." Margaery said, her voice quiet but all the more worrying because of that. Her hazel eyes almost seemed to burn with her fury. Loras shrunk back realizing he may have just gone too far.
"You lost to Hadrian because you're arrogant and full of yourself. You thought yourself invincible and Hadrian smacked you down for it. You underestimated him, and you insulted him to his face in front of not only your family, but his Grandfather Tywin Lannister. Did you really think they would take that lying down? If so, you are even more foolish than I thought you were." Margery stood over Loras glaring at him while he couldn't even meet her gaze.
"Both Grandmother and I asked Hadrian on your behalf to forgive you. We essentially begged him not to kill you." At Loras shocked look she just snorted in derision at his naivety. "Did you think it was a coincidence that Hadrian was your first opponent? That your bout was set to be the first of the day? You're an idiot Loras, and yet Hadrian was merciful. Yes he damaged your pride and caused you some injury, but you are alive and whole. For that alone I would thank him and look upon him favorably."
"However, that is not all. He has had several conversations with both Grandmother and I over the last few days and each one has been increasingly informative on who he is. And Brother," here Margaery paused and got right in Loras' face before continuing. "You are not even half the man he had already become." With that Margaery threw the remnants of her drink on Loras and turned around to walk off. She paused seeing her Grandmother just standing there. Lady Olenna just smiled and mimed applause before she turned around and left the room without a word.
Margaery felt a little bit of pride at her grandmother's approval before she left the apartment needing to walk off some of her anger at Loras. She walked for a bit not really paying attention to where she was going until eventually, she found herself outside the Godswood. She smiled realizing this place might become a haven for her. She walked in and found her way to the Weirwood tree. She sat down against it and tried to lose herself in the calming effect of the wood.
She wasn't sure how long she was just sitting there but she found herself easily able to let go of her anger and now only felt a mild annoyance with Loras. She opened her eyes as she heard footsteps approach and saw Princess Myrcella walking toward her with a concerned look on her face.
"Lady Margaery are you alright?" She asked, giving her a questioning look.
Margaery smiled slightly before she invited Myrcella to join her, "I'm okay Princess. Just irritated with my Brother."
Myrcella smiled brightly at her before saying, "I believe I might have an idea about what you're feeling."
Margaery laughed before saying, "indeed you might Princess. With you having three Brothers you're in a very similar situation to myself."
"True," Myrcella replied. "However, no offence Lady Margaery, but I don't think any of your brothers could compare to the headaches Hadrian can give me. The idiot can be so damn stubborn it's like talking to a brick wall. He has only been back a few days and it's already started"
Margaery chuckled at Myrcella's put out tone before she looked at the younger girl thoughtfully. "Princess, Hadrian and I have an agreement to drop all of the normal formalities among nobles of our rank when we speak in private. Do you think you and I might agree to a similar arrangement?"
Myrcella to Margaery's amusement nodded eagerly, "Oh yes please Margaery. Though it is much to my Mothers chagrin both Hadrian and I hate all the formality sometimes, and often speak with each other in such a way even in public."
"I'm glad, it has made getting to know your brother much easier," Margaery said with a smile.
Myrcella giggled slightly before saying, "I'm sure it has. He always opens up much more if you can talk to him in private or here in the Godswood." Myrcella looked around with a smile and a fond look on her face.
"Do you spend much time here?" Margery asked.
Myrcella nodded looking back at her, "yes I do. It always reminds me of Hadrian. I used to come in here at least once a day while he was gone. I would come in here with Tommen and we would ask the Old Gods to watch over our brother and keep him safe so he could return to us."
Margaery smiled kindly before speaking, "he loves the two of you very much you know? His eyes always light up when we speak of you." Myrcella seemed to glow with happiness at that. "Your brother actually made a request of me to become friendly with you. As well as to try and teach you the lessons I have learned from my Grandmother about politics, people, and the wider world." At Myrcella's rolled eyed and exasperated sigh Margaery made a questioning motion.
Myrcella just smiled and spoke quietly, "Hadrian worries about me greatly and constantly seeks to protect and watch over me. Do you know he plans to have Ser Barristan himself guard me when he is King? I mean come on I know I'm important to him but Ser Barristan? I would rather a great knight like that keep my Brother safe."
Margaery grinned indulgently and decided to try and explain, "Myrcella I want you to try and think about your brother and describe him in the simplest way that you can." At Myrcella's look she said, "just indulge me please I promise I will explain."
Myrcella nodded and took a minute to think before she looked at the Weirwood tree and spoke slowly. "Hadrian reminds me of a great tree. Tall and strong with many different sides of him depending upon how you look at him."
Margaery smiled pleased, "that's a good example Myrcella. Now I want you to keep that image of Hadrian as a tree." At Myrcella's nod she continued, "now what keeps a tree standing, strong, and alive?"
Myrcella thought before shrugging and replied, "the roots of the tree."
"That's correct," Margaery replied. "Now imagine each of those roots had a name. For example, one would be named Tommen one would be named Cersei, and another would be named Myrcella. Each of the things Hadrian holds dear is a different root holding up his tree. Do you see it?" Myrcella nodded thoughtfully. "Now imagine you start destroying those roots or cutting them away. What happens to the tree?"
Myrcella seemed to sag and a few tears came to her eyes. "The tree would die," she said trying to hold back her tears, but a few still slipped through. Margaery reached over and pulled Myrcella next to her in a gentle embrace.
"Yes, the tree would die." Margery said, speaking quietly. "No matter how great and powerful the tree is it always needs the support of its roots. Do you think you can see why Hadrian would value your life so greatly?"
Myrcella nodded leaning into her embrace seeking comfort like the young girl she was. Obvious to Margaery was that Hadrian was extremely important to Myrcella. 'Probably to all of his family. He inspires such great feelings of loyalty and love. It's not so surprising that I find myself so interested in the man,' Margery thought.
Margaery and Myrcella just sat there for a time in the peaceful quiet of the Godswood. One providing support the other thankful to receive it. Finally, Myrcella pulled away and looked at Margaery with an intense expression.
"What are your intentions towards my Brother Margaery?" Myrcella asked, staring straight into her eyes.
Margaery just stared back into her eyes taking a minute to collect her thoughts and feelings on such a complicated subject. While doing so she noticed that though Myrcella also had green eyes they were more of a forest green compared to Hadrian's emerald green.
"Your Brother and I had a long conversation about this very same topic though framed in a different way. Basically, I intend to be his partner. He and I have very similar goals on domestic issues, and he himself said he would appreciate it if I could be the one in charge of implementing many of those changes. Since this would allow him to focus on other issues of the realm, he would be more suited than I to focus on. Such as organizing the military and international politics and trading issues." Myrcella paid close attention to her explanation and seemed to understand what she was saying.
"I understand that. As his Queen you want to be a partner and split the responsibilities between each other depending on your individual strengths." Margaery nodded, glad she had understood. "There is another part of my question you didn't answer though. What about his heart?"
Margaery sighed knowing this question would come up. She took a moment to evaluate her feelings on the man she had only met a few short days ago. She found herself slightly shocked realizing she had developed some true affection for the man. In public he was a strong but patient figure. He also was considerate to the regular citizens and seemed to care about their welfare. He was in every way the strong charismatic Prince. In private he was kind and considering. He was also charming and his eyes should be avoided as dangerous weapons. She found herself blushing a bit at the thought of the feelings those eyes created within her. She heard Myrcella giggling next to her and glanced down. Catching her teasing grin, she blushed a little more before blowing a small raspberry in her direction. That caused Myrcella to laugh quietly.
"Well in answer to that question I would say that we need more time to grow closer, but I do think a true affection is possible between the two of us." Margaery finally said getting control of her emotions.
Myrcella gave her a small bright smile, "well that's good to hear. Though I know hoping for love between a King and Queen is a bit naive I would hope my Brothers' wife would care for him at least."
"Well then don't fear I imagine Hadrian is a very easy man to care for." Margaery said.
"Good," Myrcella replied, relaxing again. "Thank you for helping me understand the guard thing as well. I had never looked at it in that way before."
"It was no problem. It's actually a small example of the way my Grandmother taught me to think about everything. It's why I believe Hadrian asked me to teach you to think about things in that way." Margaery replied.
Myrcella just stared at her in awe for a moment before saying, "you can understand everything around you that way?" She shook herself a bit before she smiled and said, "Margaery I would very much appreciate anything you can teach me to help me think about the world in such a way."
Margaery grinned before saying, "well it would be both me and my Grandmother who would teach you. As she will also be staying here with me in the capitol."
Myrcella just nodded in thought before she grinned at Margaery and teasingly replied, "you know I think you may well be on your way to becoming one of my brothers roots as well."
Margery was glad she could prevent her blush. 'What is it about that man that challenges my ability to keep my emotion under control?' Margaery asked herself, refusing to think about his bright emerald eyes.
"Well back to your original issue, what did Ser Loras do that upset you so?" Myrcella said, reminding her of the original reason she came to the Godswood.
Margaery was surprised she had completely forgotten about her brother's idiocy. She smiled at Myrcella realizing that without trying the girl had helped her forget her anger. "He was being an idiot about Hadrian. Claiming I had no right to give him my favor in the melee, and that I shamed him by doing so."
Myrcella rolled her eyes and groaned, "ughhh Brothers. They are truly great and I love mine dearly, but sometimes they can be such little boys!"
Margaery giggled a little at Myrcella's antics, "true enough and they constantly need watching lest their heads grow too large."
Myrcella nodded emphatically in agreement, "yes they do. Though Hadrian has always been oddly mature for his age. But thankfully I have Tommen to tease and watch over. So, what did you do to him?"
Margaery smiled and straightened her posture putting on an exaggeratedly polite air. "I merely reeducated Loras on his rightful place in the world, and made him truly regret speaking to me in the way that he did."
Myrcella smiled and bumped her shoulder in silent congratulations. They both sat back and continued to chat about various things. Margery realized that being friends with her future betrotheds' sister would be quite easy and enjoyable.
That evening Hadrian was putting the last touches to his clothing. He was wearing a black velvet doublet with golden trim and a low collar. Soft brown cloth pants tucked into knee high black leather boots He had his sword clipped onto the belt at his waist and a dark gold cape. He had to look a certain way for tonight. His future courtship with Margery and impending coronation would both be announced to the realm tonight. He was looking forward to what he viewed as a prank on the entire Kingdom.
Happy with the way he looked he headed out to the throne room with uncle Jamie, his current Kingsguard shadow. He flashed a grin at Jamie's approving nod and continued on towards the noise. Coming into the throne room he walked over to stand next to his father who gave him a proud smile. He observed the room for a minute seeing Margaery looking stunning in a rather fetching gown that covered everything but hinted at what was underneath. She was currently sitting next to his sister and Shireen and they seemed to be enjoying their conversation.
He caught his mother's eye who gave him a soft smile, and also got an approving nod from Tywin. Tyrion predictably silently toasted him with his goblet. Stannis just seemed bored and Renly was in a corner flirting with Loras. 'Honestly they could at least try to hide it better' Hadrian thought, rolling his eyes at the sight. He personally didn't care who you decided to love or fuck, but that didn't mean society at large agreed with that opinion. In Westeros appearances often mattered more than reality.
At length and giving enough time for everyone to arrive his Father stood and got the hall's attention. "Lords and Ladies of Westeros thank you very much for coming here to celebrate my eldest Son's eighteenth name day. Both his Mother and I are very proud of the man he has become. Not only is he a great warrior as he proved throughout the tournament, but he has a great mind as well." Here he paused to let the crowd clap and cheer his name.
Waving for quiet the hall slowly quieted down. "In light of this I have made a decision that is best for me and all of Westeros. I King Robert Baratheon will at the end of this month abdicate the crown to my eldest Son Hadrian Baratheon." The entire hall erupted in shouts of either shock or pleasure at the decision. "QUIET IN THE NAME OF THE KING!" Robert shouted, easily being heard over the thunderous sound of the hall.
He glared about the hall for a moment before he continued. "This has been decided and it will only strengthen the Seven Kingdoms. However, that is not the only news I have to announce." At this statement Robert put a proud hand on Hadrian's shoulder. "I and the Queen are proud to announce Prince Hadrians' betrothal to Margaery of House Tyrell."
The crowd once again erupted in sound most cheering but a few women crying out in denial. Margaery stood, and with Lady Olenna at her side came up to Hadrian and took his left hand as they stood together before the crowd. Margery's golden gown with black trimming matched perfectly with Hadrian's own clothing and together they presented quite the attractive pairing to the Seven Kingdoms. Or at least he thought so.
Hadrian just squeezed Margaery's hand in his and was glad to receive one in response. He guided her over to a previously set aside spot at the table and helped her into the seat. They spent the rest of the evening being inundated with congratulations by every single person in the Red Keep and it grinded on even Maergaery's patience. You could only tell by the look in her eye, but if you knew what to look for it was plain to see. However, Hadrian really did appreciate his mother's approval. Cersei was very protective of her children and this presented a great threat to her influence on Hadrian. The fact that she truly seemed to accept the choice and think Margery was a decent match for him probably helped.
Still Hadrian would be increasing Margery's security. Trust but verify was a solid strategy when his mother was involved. Still eventually they were done and could retire. Hadrian led Margaery to a private Royal garden in the Red Keep and sighed heavily glad they were finally alone.
Margaery gave a soft laugh and said, "yes that got quite stressful towards the end there."
Hadrian smiled and sat with her on a bench, "I don't think I've ever just wanted to get blackout drunk so badly before. I was quite jealous of Sandor who collapsed about halfway through."
Margaery smiled and leaned against him resting against his shoulder taking a minute to close her eyes. 'He is so warm and that feeling of calm that seems to follow him around is quite soothing,' Margaery thought happily.
"You comfortable, my Lady?" Hadrian asked with amusement clear in his voice.
"Oh yes very much so. Thank you for being so considerate." She replied grinning not even thinking of moving away.
Hadrian chuckled softly. "Glad to be of service."
They sat there enjoying each other's company and the quiet. Margery for her part just enjoyed Hadrian's presence. While Hadrian enjoyed the light she seemed to give the world. He was watching the stars that were so very different from the ones in his last life. Things were happening so fast now. He had only been in Kings Landing for a little over a week and already he was soon to be King and was already essentially engaged.
"I spoke with your sister in the Godswood earlier just before the feast," Margaery said, breaking the silence. She shifted and looked up at him for even while sitting. His head was still much higher. "I found her to be rather intelligent and she seems to constantly look on the bright side of most things."
Hadrian smiled brightly, "yes she has always been that way. Mother used to say that she spread joy to all who were blessed enough to know and love her." He got quieter and leaned down to whisper in her ear, "I'll never admit this to anyone else but she is my favorite sibling."
Margery shivered at the feeling of his breath on her ear and tried not to follow her thoughts down that path. "I understand," she replied, also speaking softly, "I have always been closer to my eldest brother Willas. He and I share a very similar behavior, and we tend to see the world in the same light. Not exactly too shocking as we both took to Grandmother's lessons the best." Hadrian nodded thoughtfully looking down at her. "Your hope of us becoming friends has a pretty decent chance of success. We really got along quite well."
"I'm glad since Myrcella will be staying in Kings Landing, and the two of you hating each other would make things very difficult." Hadrian said grinning down at her.
Her breath caught in her throat at the light in his eyes. 'Seriously those eyes are dangerous weapons.' Margaery thought to herself.
They spent more time in the quiet of the night before Hadrian sighed quietly and stood up helping Margaery to stand as well. "Well Margaery I suppose it's time to retire for the night." He turned and stood before her holding her hands. "Godswood tomorrow morning?" He asked.
Margery smiled up at him and squeezed his hand, "of course Hadrian so far it's been nice."
Hadrian smiled and gave her hand a soft kiss before he turned and led her into the hallway, and then through the Red Keep to the Tyrell apartment. "Goodnight Lady Margaery," Hadrian said letting go of her hand.
"Goodnight Prince Hadrian until tomorrow," she replied softly closing the door behind her giving him one last smile.
The next few weeks leading up to Hadrian's coronation were some of the most frustrating of his life to date. First his Father hadn't even waited for Hadrian's' official coronation before he was off to the North. Admittedly Robert had started looking progressively worse since Jon Arryn had died. The news might have sped up the King's impending death. The worst part was that even though Hadrian was now the effective King. Without any of the official power it made things difficult at times. For most Lords this was not an issue and they listened to the Crown Prince anyway. However, Lords like the Bolton's and the Frey's were being progressively more difficult.
One of the Frey's had been caught running a protection racket in the local villages, and when Hadrian had ordered Walder Frey to turn him over to the Tully's for his trial. The Lord Frey had instead warned his son who had now fled. He was still on the run and Hadrian believed he had run to the Vale looking for protection from Lysa Arryn. The current Lady Arryn hadn't even waited for Jon's corpse to cool before she was out of the capitol like an arrow, and hiding from his summons in the Eyrie. That was greatly disturbing to Hadrian. The Eyrie had a powerful standing military to constantly fight back the mountain tribes. If they turned on him Hadrian would currently have to hope the Lannister army could stand against them on short notice.
The Bolton's were an entirely different problem. Well Roose Bolton was not really the issue, the man was too crafty to do anything rash. It was his bastard son Ramsey Snow that was the larger issue. He had been accused by Lord Stark to be skinning wilding women and children alive. Varys' own birds had confirmed the rumors but did not have any solid evidence. 'That tends to happen when you fed the bodies to your dogs,' Hadrian thought grimly. Lord Bolton had denied Lord Stark's claims and refused to even consider the idea of an investigation. This in turn pissed off Lord Stark and some of the other Northern lords who had always had issues with the Bolton's. Lord Bolton also sent back his raven with a reply that basically said 'you're not King yet'. It was infuriating and Hadrian had been greatly tempted to send a force to drag the Bolton's to Kings Landing to be brought to heel.
And this was just in the Seven Kingdoms. Issues abroad were smaller yet more worrying.
Euron Greyjoy now had 500 ships under his personal command and was raiding Tyrosh and Lys. At 100 men per ship on average that was a huge fleet, and presented a great threat to the Seven Kingdoms. He had talked about the issue with his Uncle Stannis, the Master of Ships, and he too was concerned over the issue though he would never show it. The Royal fleet was around 50 ships with only 50 to 80 men per ship. Barely a third of Eurons' forces.
Then there was the issue with the Targaryen girl. Varys' agents had been able to find her and her brother, but it was too late. She had already been married off to a Dothraki warlord named Khal Drogo. Though they were able to kill Viserys, the victory felt hollow without the ability to gain the allegiance of the Targaryen girl. Oh, Varys' agents had tried, but of the twenty he sent the Dothraki killed thirteen of them. Now there is no telling what would happen with her.
Hadrian walked over to a map of the world on a side table in his office and grabbed a wooden figure carved into a dragon. He picked it up from the Free Cities and set it right in the middle of the Dothraki Sea. The rest of the map had several other figures on it. Between Tyrosh and Lys was a black kraken. In the North was a red X, in the Vale a blue bird, a yellow kraken for the Iron Islands, in the Riverland's a set of towers, and in the Stepstones a ship representing the massive pirate presence in the area. To counter this, he had white symbols of all the Great houses, other than the Arryn's and Greyjoy's, a black shield on Kings Landing, and a white ship on Dragonstone.
'The board is set and the pieces are playing their parts,' Hadrian thought solemnly. 'The forces that could be arrayed against us are spread out and unorganized. If someone were to realize this and organize them to work together then Westeros will burn in the fires of war.'
In a weeks' time Hadrian would have his coronation ceremony, and then the real work would begin. One thing had gone exactly to plan though and it caused Hadrian to smile slightly. Ser Gregor had been delivered to the Martell's wrapped in chains.
Hadrian really didn't want to know what the Martell's did to Ser Gregor, but the other day a raven from Prince Oberyn had arrived thanking Hadrian for the gift. Oberyn himself was now headed to Kings Landing as Hadrian had a job for the man. Oberyn was a highly skilled fighter, and was known throughout the world for his prowess. Hadrian had asked the man to come to Kings Landing so that he could hopefully aid Jon and Sandor in training the Iron Guard. There was also a new seat on the small council for him if the man wanted it. Hadrian knew the man loved to travel so he might not wish to be tied down to any position. Hadrian would need a Master of War soon the world just seemed to be tilting in that direction rather than towards peace.
Hadrian looked over at his desk and sighed at the paperwork that lay there. Most of it was things that Tywin would soon be handling, and was mostly just tedious paperwork approving this or that.
'Still I'd best get to it I suppose. A shame that it won't do itself,' Hadrian thought wistfully. Sitting down Hadrian managed to work quietly for the next few hours and had made significant progress on his paperwork. He was just wrapping up an approval form letting Lord Redwyne take a few hundred barrels of wine to Braavos when a knock came from his door and Ser Greenfield poked his head inside.
"My Prince, your sister is here to see you and has brought you some food," the Knight said.
"Oh…right…food. I guess I missed lunch then?" At the Knights nod he sighed and said, "let her in Preston I'm sure she will just torture us both if you don't."
The Knight barely had time to nod before Myrcella pushed past him with a shout, "Hadrian Baratheon! I do not torture people!" The young girl screamed glaring down at her brother at his desk. Hadrian laughed which caused her face to turn red in anger as a serving girl followed her in and set some food and water on a serving table before taking her leave. Ser Preston quickly closed the door not really wanting to be involved.
"Why are you laughing at me? All I was doing was bringing you some food because gods know you'd work yourself to death in here if I didn't." Myrcella said, stalking up to Hadrian and poking him in the chest with each word.
Hadrian just grinned and stood pulling his sister into a tight hug while she squirmed against him. "Hadrian! Let me go right now!" she shouted, beating on his chest with her little fists.
"But how can I let you go dear Sister? I'm merely returning all the love and care that you have shown me this past week," Hadrian said grinning as he tried to avoid being hit in the face.
Myrcella just looked up and gave him a death glare while Hadrian just smiled and let her go, taking a seat at the nearby table with food on it. "All right, all right I let go and am eating happy now?" he asked patronizingly.
His sister just growled and whacked him over the head before she sat down with a huff. Hadrian wasn't too worried he could see the slight grin at the corner of her lips. "Feel free to join me Myrcella you brought this food here after all."
She just glared at him some more before grabbing a freshly baked roll and biting into it. Hadrian had to struggle greatly to hold his laugh in. "For your information Margaery is the one who asked me to bring you some food. She was very sure that you had disappeared behind your desk much to your family's disapproval." Myrcella said, pouting a little. "We get to see so little of you now brother and we miss you. Or at least everyone but Joffrey does," she corrected rolling her eyes at her other older sibling.
Hadrian looked at her in surprise, "Margaery? Really? Huh... guess she may actually be starting to care for me. That or she just wants to make sure her ticket to be Queen survives for now."
Myrcella just blew him a raspberry, "oh shut up, you know you like her. Even if it's not love, I've seen the way you look at her. It's obvious to anyone that knows you, that you care for her, you idiot."
Hadrian just pretended he didn't hear her and Myrcella threw another roll at him in return. She sighed before saying, "she cares for you as well. Though I have no idea why, she is much too good for you Brother dear."
Hadrian just smiled at her and swallowed his food before saying, "Myrcella I love you I truly do. Now I may admit, though I will deny it if anyone asks, that Margaery has grown on me. She is kind, intelligent, and deals with the leeches around here like a professional."
"Grown on you huh?" Myrcella asked a teasing lilt to her voice. Then much too innocently she continued, "Is that why I saw you and her kissing rather heatedly in the Godswood this morning?" She laughed loudly as Hadrian choked on the drink he had been taking. "What did you think no one would see you in your secret corner brother? Well you will need a new spot. I'm you Sister I know all your favorite spots in the Keep."
It was Hadrian's turn to glare now but he refused to say anything and cursed under his breath at the slight blush her teasing had caused. If Myrcella's giggles were any judge she had noticed too.
"Oh, save it for someone else," she said waving away his look. "Don't be too embarrassed Brother I know for a fact that she very much enjoyed it, and you are also 'growing' on her as well." Myrcella said stressing growing with a leer that Hadrian thought was slightly disturbing on his sister's face. "Your raging hormones aside, Margaery is coming to care for you greatly, Hadrian. You are no longer just a title to her. She at the least sees you as a friend, and in only three weeks I would say that's pretty good progress for the two of you."
Hadrian sighed but smiled at his sister. She had a point. His and Margaery's morning talks in the Godswood were fast becoming his favorite part of the day. She was a great person to talk to, and usually had advice or saw things in a way that helped him with any issues he had. In return, he provided a sounding board for her problems as well. Hadrian had given her his renovation plans for the capitol and she was working on getting everything set up so that they could begin quickly after he was crowned. This, of course, came into its own share of issues. Often Margery just needed to vent her frustration, but he had found that he was glad to provide that service for her.
That's part of what led to this morning. She was really getting into how annoying the local merchants were because they refused to move, or allow their business to be renovated. The passion in her eyes and the way she spoke had driven him to kiss her. To his joy and relief, she had kissed him back just as hard. Though he did make the mistake of not thinking about who might be watching. Of which his sister was surely the most harmless. She could only tease him.
Coming back to the conversation he said, "well she has become a good friend to me as well, and if that is all we have I will be satisfied. Many in our situation do not even have that."
Myrcella nodded looking at him in thought her head bent slightly to the right. "I agree and I can only hope that I may be as fortunate in my future Lord."
Hadrian smiled and put an arm around her drawing her close. He sighed as she leaned into his embrace and he said, "don't worry Myrcella there is no rush for you to be married. If you still do not have someone you want to marry by the time Grandfather dies. I will let you just remain as you are it wouldn't bother me in the slightest."
She smiled up at him gratefully before she hugged him tighter, "thank you Brother. For always taking care of us. Margery has been teaching me like you asked her too, and I see now how much you've done for us. Always being a buffer between Mother and Father. Preventing Grandfather from interfering in our lives too much. Also, I know you were always very busy, and yet you always made time for us. Time for us to just be family and be happy together."
Hadrian smiled and kissed her head softly. He had worked hard to be there for his family because he remembered what it was like to grow up unloved and uncared for. He did everything he could for Tommen and Myrcella. Even Joffrey for a time until he had decided it was better Joffrey fear him.
"While on that topic. How are your lessons with Margaery?" Hadrian asked, truly curious.
Myrcella smiled brightly before replying, "they're good. I've learned quite a bit already from Margaery. Lady Olenna even spends time with me teaching me the same lessons Margaery has. Lady Olenna actually gives me assignments where she asks me to observe people, and then I tell her everything I learn from doing that." She paused in thought before continuing, "Margery prefers stories as lessons in a way. She often just talks with me and finds a topic before she explains the way she thinks about an issue or idea. It seems to me that they have decided to split the lessons with Margery handling people and Lady Olenna is teaching me about politics."
Hadrian nodded and reminded himself to thank Margaery tomorrow. "I'm glad they are helping you. Be sure to pay very close attention to Lady Olenna's lessons. She is actually the best in the Kingdoms at reading people. You could ask for no greater teacher."
Myrcella looked up at him with a questioning look, "she is even better than you or Grandfather?"
Hadrian chuckled quietly before replying, "she makes me look like an amateur, and is much better than Grandfather. Both Grandfather and I lean towards knowing information about people or situations, and then using that information to understand their motives. Lady Olenna however can just watch people. The way they act, what they say, and who they say it to. That alone tells her everything she needs to know."
Myrcella just looked thoughtful before she just shrugged her shoulders and scooted closer to his body while saying. "I think both ways are good and each has a value the other doesn't possess."
Hadrian smiled in pride before replying, "that, my sweet sister, is absolutely true. You saying something like that lets me know just how much you've learned in so short a time. I'm very proud of you." Myrcella smiled at him brightly before resuming her spot and just relaxing against him.
Hadrian missed days like this. Days when he, Myrcella, and Tommen would just sit around and talk for hours about anything and everything. In the end times change, and his siblings were growing up. All he could do was prepare them to the best of his ability.
"So, when will you and Margery have a baby?" Myrcella said grinning at Hadrian evilly. Speaking up just as he took a drink causing him to put forth a decent effort on drowning himself.
Margaery was completely unaware of her betrothed's unwilling attempt at breathing water. Her thoughts were currently on the issue before her. 'Refusing to allow the merchants to trade in the city until they agree to have their buildings redone will work very well,' Margery thought cheerfully. Writing down the reminder to do just that she sighed as she took a moment to relax. She looked around at her office and had to smile. As soon as they had been arranged Hadrian had set her up in her own office on the same floor as the Tyrell apartments where her and her grandmother still stayed. He had also handed over all his current plans on remodeling Kings Landing.
She shook her head in remembrance, 'that man just walked up to me, smiled, dropped these papers in my lap, and then ran off with that gods damned grin of his. I still need to get him back for that,' she reminded herself. 'Though he did do a massive amount of the work already. I'll mostly just be a supervisor until something goes wrong.' The amount of information he had been able to acquire already was astounding.
Hadrian had exact measurements on the widths of the roads and alley's to be, and a good estimate on the amount of stone needed to pave them. The detailed blueprints of the myriad of buildings to be erected had good estimates on the raw resources needed for those as well. Precise and detailed information in anything from tons of lumber needed to the amount of labor that will be required. It definitely made the work easier and allowed Margery to make progress much faster than she thought she would.
A knock on the door interrupted her further musings. Her grandmother walked in and flashed her a quick smile before taking a seat across from her.
"How are your negotiations going my dear?" Olenna asked.
Margaery gave her a small smile in return before replying, "they're going slowly. People just don't seem to understand how what we are doing will benefit them in the long term."
"A common issue when dealing with the regular people of the world I think you'll find." Olenna with an expectant look. "I believe I had told you as much, but I do understand that it is one thing hearing it and another to experience it."
"You did and for the most part it has been what I expected, but the merchants have been especially stubborn. Hadrian actually thought of a solution for them though. He gave me permission to deny their ability to trade in the city if they do not let this happen." Margery watched Olenna's face as she said this trying to gauge her reaction. A single silver eyebrow raised was all she got. For her Grandmother though, that was equivalent to stunned surprise.
"Really? Well that will certainly work and it's a rather simple solution. I am shocked that Hadrian saw fit to give you this power though. It shows he has quite a lot of trust in you dear girl." Olenna said smiling at Margaery proudly. "Soon you'll have him right where you want him my dear then you'll be the true power behind the throne." Olenna got up and said, "well you're obviously busy so I'll leave you be." Then she turned and walked out of the room to Margaery's soft 'goodbye'.
Margaery felt conflicted. She knew what her grandmother just said was her original goal, and the one her grandmother always trained her for. However, she didn't exactly feel comfortable doing that to Hadrian anymore. She didn't have to make him into a puppet for her to have the power she wanted like her grandmother did to her grandfather and father. It was more than that though.
Hadrian was someone she was growing to care for greatly. She would certainly say they had a decent friendship. She was also coming to rely on her mornings with him as a way to relax, and talk with someone plainly without all the ceremony or doublespeak she usually had to deal with. She also found herself very attracted to him physically. He was much bigger than her around a foot taller and yet he was so gentle when they interacted. He also made her feel safe and comfortable.
Then there was the way he felt when they kissed. Margaery blushed slightly at the memory. His touch burned across her skin and his lips claimed her with his passion. What she thought would be a small peck turned into much more. She only stopped when she felt him poking into her stomach, and the shock snapped her out of the trance she had been in. The whole experience made her feel energized and attractive in a way she never felt before.
Of course, Myrcella, who was one of her better friends in the capitol, was one of the first she told about this experience. She had been most unhelpful. She just giggled, smiled, and teased her endlessly. At least until Margaery reminded her that Hadrian had probably not eaten lunch yet. That was another issue with Hadrian that Margaery had become aware of. The man had a bad tendency to get so lost in his work that he was blind to his own needs. From what Myrcella had told her either she or Queen Cersei often had to go and remind him to eat or to leave his office. No one could ever say the man wasn't dedicated to his work, but even she took breaks. You could only stare at words and numbers for so long before your mind went fuzzy.
She actually felt rather hungry herself at the moment, and decided to take a small break. Walking over to her door she opened it and caught a passing maid to ask her to bring her some food. As she turned around she walked over to one of the lounges on the balcony and poured herself some wine and took a moment to relax. She thought of what the next few weeks would bring trying to set up an order of importance list in her head. One of the more interesting things that would occur was the arrival of Prince Oberyn Martell and Yara Greyjoy.
Hadrian had somehow gotten the man to agree to come to the capitol to hear a proposal from him about the military force Hadrian was working on. A Yara Greyjoy was coming to meet with Hadrian and Stannis apparently. She wasn't quite sure why but if she had to guess. She would say that the Greyjoys were unhappy and Hadrian was trying to keep the region settled by picking a power in that kingdom to throw his support behind. She knew he received almost a constant stream of ravens throughout the last few weeks and she had a pretty good idea on the moves he was preparing for. They hadn't talked about them specifically yet, but Margaery was determined to ask him about them tomorrow so that she could plan her own actions to work alongside his own.
If anyone were to ask Robb what he would rather be doing right now it would be quite simple. Literally anything as long as he could do it back in Winterfell. He sighed to himself as the column he was in just kept on moving sought down the Kings Road. He knew going to the capitol to pledge his family behind the new King was important, but he still wished his father would have been the one to go rather than send him. Though Robb had to admit the trip has been interesting. He had never seen any of the other kingdoms and he found vast differences between them but also many similarities. After all farming was often the same no matter where you lived unless the ground was particularly tough. The difference lay in how the people they had seen reacted to the party of Northerners moving by and through their towns and villages.
The folk of the Riverlands seemed rather ambivalent about them. Neither being welcoming or rude just ignoring them for the most part and getting on with their lives. However the Crownlands had been different. The people here seemed to distrust them for some reason he couldn identify. Maybe it was just that they are strangers, but Robb felt it was something different than that. However before he could think much more on the topic his thoughts were disrupted by his younger brother trying to get his attention.
"Robb how much further until we can take a break?" Bran said with a groan as he shifted on his saddle.
"We have a few miles yet Bran, but we will break for the night soon enough." Robb replied blandly. Though Bran was turning thirteen soon he still had a few habits that made him slightly annoying. One that Robb had discovered on this trip was that Bran still tended to whine a bit when he was uncomfortable and didn't know how to deal with it. Robb was internally glad that it was only him and Bran that had been sent on this trip. Arya wanted to go but his mother put a firm stop to that idea from ever occurring. He wished his father had been able to come though he didn't know how the other lords would react to the fact that the Lord of the North didn't come in person to swear loyalty to the Crown. His father though had just told him that Hadrian was fine with Robb doing it in his stead.
Robb could believe that. Hadrian was a good friend and he had apparently sent a raven to his father clearing the issue with him as Hadrian had felt that Lord Stark was needed in the North especially with the issues surrounding the Boltons and Greyjoys. Robb was looking forward to getting to their destination though. He wanted to see Hadrian and Jon again. It had only been a few months since they separated but Robb missed his friends, and he found himself wondering what they had been up to during their time apart.
Robbs thoughts were broken again as Bran once more groaned aloud and he couldn't help but shake his head in annoyance. Maybe this trip would be good for Bran too; their mother tended to coddle them a bit, especially his younger siblings. Hopefully Bran would gain something from this trip other than it was boring and his ass hurt.