016. Strong Ties

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Aemma watched intently as her mother rose, Rhaenyra's eyes remaining fixed on the table as she held her cup high. 

"I wish to raise my cup to Her Grace, the Queen. I love my father. But I must admit that no one has stood... more loyally by his side than his good wife," Rhaenyra announced, causing Aemma to relax in her chair, "She has tended to him with... unfailing devotion, love, and honour. And for that, she has my gratitude... and my apology,"

Aemma smiled at her mother's ability to rise to the occasion. Rhaenyra had never once lost her cool or fallen into squabble and anger when others tested her. It was a trait Aemma respected deeply, and a trait she hoped she would one day be able to inherit. 

"Your graciousness moves me deeply, Princess. We are both mothers... and we love our children. We have more in common than we sometimes allow," Queen Alicent said softly, rising to her feet, " I raise my cup to you and to your house. You will make a fine queen,"

Aemma raised her cup cheerfully, surprised at how smoothly the entire feast had gone. Her gaze wandered to Aemond, who tipped his cup to her. She had assumed someone would lose much more than an eye this time around. Now that they were all older and knew how to wield swords and dragons.

Aemma realised she spoke too soon, watching with narrowed eyes as Aegon wandered over to Baela and began to pour yet another glass full of wine.

"I regret the disappointment you are soon to suffer," Aegon began, a smile toying on his face," But if you ever wish to know what it is to be well satisfied, all you have to do is ask,"

The vile words were met with a clatter on the table. Jace slammed his fists against the wood as he rose in anger, his jaw tense. Aegon simply slipped past him, as quick and sly as any green snake. 

"Jace," Baela said softly, trying to calm her betrothed down.

Aemma glanced at her mother before turning back to Jace, unsure how Rhaenyra would want her children to respond. But as Aemond rose to his feet too, a silent warning thrown their way, Aemma rose quickly after. Watching Aemond with a sharp eye, she lifted her chin in challenge as Aemond's eyes parted from Jace and locked onto her. 

Jace, glancing between his sister and uncle, showed restraint, softly punching Aegon in the arm as he lifted his cup.

"To Prince Aegon and Prince Aemond. We have not seen each other in years, but I have fond memories of our shared youth," Jace spoke, quelling the tension with his level head, "And as men, I hope we may yet be friends and allies. To you and your family's good health, dear uncles,"

Aemma slowly sat back down, her hands remaining on the table in case she needed to jump back up. 

"To you as well," Aegon said tightly, realising he had been bested. 

Aemond threw an annoyed look towards the three dark-haired siblings, returning to his seat without tasting blood.

"I would like to toast to Baela and Rhaena," Helaena rose to her feet, Aemma thankful for what she assumed would be a sweet and innocent speech, "They'll be married soon. It isn't so bad. Mostly he just ignores you... except sometimes when he's drunk,"

An audible laugh escaped Aemma's lips, causing Aemma to slap her hand over her mouth to silence herself. Helaena, not realising how comedic and cutting the speech was, sat back down happily. Aemma clapped softly, giving her aunt an encouraging thumbs-up, which Helaena took with a smile. 

"Let us have some music," Her grandfather announced.

The celebrations began, started by Jace who offered his hand to Helaena for a dance. Something her husband likely never did for her considering her speech. 

Aemma stayed at the table, enjoying her time speaking with Luke and Rhaena. She'd mostly resorted to ignoring Aemond, knowing they'd soon return to Dragonstone and she'd be rid of the horribleness that was Aemond Targaryen. 

"Aemma, let us speak with you,"

Aemma turned towards her mother, noticing she was in deep conversation with the Queen and her grandfather. Furrowing her brows, she gathered the bottom of her dress to stand up and made her way towards the three. 

"Aemond, speak with us as well," The Queen beckoned her second son.

Aemma watched suspiciously as Aemond got to his feet, walking to stand beside his mother as Aemma stood beside hers. 

"Your mother proposed long ago to marry her son to my daughter, but I was too stuck in my anger to see what was best," Queen Alicent explained to Aemma, reaching over to take Aemma's hands in hers, "To fully bind our families would do for the good of all,"

Aemma felt lightheaded, glancing around in confusion. She hardly had the strength to pull her hands out of the Queen's grasp, feeling the breath of Aemond on her lips return to her like a phantom. 

"But both my sons are betrothed, and her daughter is already married," Rhaenyra explained.

Aemma glanced up at Aemond, who looked as though a maid had run into the hall declaring she had given birth to his child.

"You are both of age. We can unite our houses and families once and for all," Queen Alicent finished, smiling at her sweetly, "It would ensure all of our children rule these lands in peace for centuries to come,"

Aemma felt her stomach doing backflips, her body desperately trying to shut itself down in order to get her out of the situation. She finally pulled her hands away from the Queen, staring at her mother with incredulousness.

"You cannot be serious, mother?" Aemma said softly, hoping her brothers didn't hear.

"You two were very close as children," Rhaenyra pointed out, "You would soon find that closeness again,"

"We are practically strangers now," Aemond spoke up, supporting his soon-to-be wife. 

"Only because of the great distance between you, too," Queen Alicient said. 

Aemma turned to Daemon, pleading for some support.

"We will speak more of this tonight," Daemon sighed, running a hand through his hair, "When we're all less drunk,"

Rhaenyra and Queen Alicent went to speak, but Aemma had already turned heel and rushed back to her seat. Plopping herself down with a thud, she waved away Luke and Rhaena's questions about what had occurred in the whispers at the head of the table.

Noticing Aemond had also returned to his seat, she kept her eyes on her plate, not wanting her face to betray her. 

Authors note:

Rhaenyra and Alicent out her conspiring to help all your Aemond and Aemma lovers.

Happy late halloween

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