You hear Mama screaming, and men shouting, and Aegon wailing until he stops, too quickly.
There is more shouting, and the tuneless-bell clattering of swords, and then Ser Jaime peeps under Papa’s bed with blood on his face, asking if you might perhaps come out, and he will keep you safe.
You are the last Targaryen, save for Grandmama and Viserys supposedly away on your island, your Dragonstone, and the cold-face-sad-eyed man with the sword the size of Ser Arthur’s tells you that you must come now, immediately, or you will be in danger.
Ser Jaime, in his white armour instead of the gold, with his face washed clean and his sword gleaming bright and loose in its sheath on his hip, gently nudges you behind him, and says “I will slay any man who tries to harm the Princess.”
You remember your lessons, and if Grandfather the King and Papa and Aegon are all dead, and Viserys is in exile and perhaps dead as well, then you are a Queen, not a Princess, but you think that it might be best to keep quiet, and trust Ser Jaime to keep you safe. He felled a mountain to do so, everyone says, and so he can keep you safe from the wolves, too.
The man who sits the Iron Throne is no Targaryen, and you think to tell him so, that he has no right to a throne and a crown meant for your family, your House, except that Ser Jaime thinks you should not. Ser Jaime says that the man, who calls himself a King, hates House Targaryen, and that you must play the Martell, at least for now.
You are good at that - everyone has always told you how much like your mama you look, save your eyes, and you always preferred the soft robe-dresses and silky underbreeches in the Dornish style to the itchy black dresses Papa asked you to wear, to please Grandfather the King.
You do not ask for Mama or Papa or Aegon, for although you do not yet truly understand death, you do understand that it is a place from which there is no return. You ask for Grandmama just once, of cold-faced-but-gentle-handed Lord Stark, who begs you not to ask such things again.
Ser Jaime carries you almost to the stables before you wake, curled against his chest, confused by the warmth of him without his usual plate and mail to keep you away.
“Hush now, little princess,” he says, so quietly you almost cannot hear him, that it almost feels a game. “We must away, you and I, and we cannot make a sound.”
Ser Jaime binds you to his chest with silk scarves that still smell of your mother’s perfume, rich and salt-spice and sweet, and some that smell of the windblown-floral scent Lady Aunt Ashara preferred, and you fall asleep once more in safety and home.
When you wake the second time, you are still in Ser Jaime’s arms, but he is asleep now, and when you look through the tiny window, you can see only water, right out to the sky.
Ser Jaime bleeds bright red against the brown-white mosaic floor when Uncle Oberyn extracts a blood-oath from him. The blood from Ser Jaime’s slashed palm drips down his fingers, as Grandfather the King’s so often did from the blades of his throne, and for the first time, you fear the man who has kept you safer than any other.
Ser Jaime arrives one day at the Water Gardens, where you stay under Uncle Doran’s protection against threats of war, in a cloak of Targaryen black and Martell orange. It is light, a blend of linen and sandsilk such as Uncle Oberyn wears, and Ser Jaime explains that it is a jape.
“According to the Usurper,” he says, sitting with his feet in the pool and his boots set neatly at his side, holding your hands so you can stay close enough to hear him without being overheard, “I am a traitor, and you a traitor queen. Your uncle thought to have this cloak made for me, a black cloak for a failed Kingsguard, paid for with Martell gold.”
Some boys called Ser Jaime the Kingslayer, and you do not know what to think of that. Mostly, you hope that he will kill the Usurper for you, if he killed Grandfather the King already.
You have been in Dorne, in safety, for almost four moons by the time word reaches you that Ser Jaime’s sister has wed the Usurper.
Ser Jaime seems angry and sad, but you are only afraid - if his twin, the other half of him, is wed to the man who would see you dead, then how can Ser Jaime stay by your side as your guard?
His anger seems to disappear, though, after a sharp conversation with Uncle Oberyn, and another with Uncle Doran’s captain of the guard, and he sits once more with his feet in the pools and his hands in yours, and swears to never leave your side, on pain of death.
Arianne and Tyene tell you that they do not believe in the gods, chittering and laughing as though this is some fine act of bravery. Uncle Doran overhears and scolds them soundly, and you kneel before the Warrior and ignore everything but your gods.
Listen here, you gods, you pray, you had best keep them safe.
Ser Jaime has left your side for the first time since you were six years old, to fight a war in your name. There are enemy ships blockading Sunspear and Starfall both, and the Prince’s Pass and Boneway are both sealed by the Usurper’s forces.
There is a war, and while Ser Jaime has promised to come back to you, you are six-and-ten now, and you know too well that often, people cannot keep their promises.
No one told you that Uncle Oberyn was bound for the Usurper’s camp, with poison dripping from his fingertips like blood from an oath.
“He did not make it through the night,” Ser Jaime tells you bluntly, “but neither did the Usurper.”
One day, you hope to make your knight into your Lord Commander, and you tell him so.
He laughs, silver shining through the gold of his hair, and shakes his head, still smiling. “White has never been my colour, my lady,” he tells you, teasing, his cloak still black-edged-with-orange, the bright orange faded to a soft red after so many years, but the black holding true. “I already wear your cloak, I have no need of a title.”
Some part of you not trained in regal graces thinks to blush, but you have no desire to show such weakness, not when there are others who might see.
“We shall see,” you say, adjusting the drape of your cloak from your pauldron. “First, let us win our war.”
You ask to wear his favour as a jape, just as the cloak he wears was a jape, but you find that you like the look of crimson and gold against your skin, when you fasten the scarf he produced from some hidden bolthole around your arm, before fitting your armour over the top.
Soon, you will likely wed a rose, but what is a rose against a lion, you sometimes wonder.