Chapter Title: Larra Blackmont
Fandom(s): A Song of Ice and Fire
Word Count: 2,044
Summary: Five people who loved Elia Martell in secret, and one who told her.
When the West Wind Moves
iv. Larra Blackmont
iv. Larra Blackmont
Help me cripple the Lannisters.
That’s all the note says, and Larra’s been mulling over it for a week now. She’d have known it was from the prince even without the sun-and-spear seal; no one in all the realm hates the Lannisters half as much as Oberyn Martell. She doesn’t know exactly what he means—what could she possibly do?—but it doesn’t matter. He could ask her to render her life forfeit and she’d do it in a heartbeat if it meant she could take a pride of lions down with her.
There’s a nag of guilt at the thought, for it would mean leaving her children without a mother, but Perros is nearly thirteen and squiring in Sandstone, Jynessa’s newly sixteen, a woman grown, and at Prince Doran’s request her three youngest are happily playing in the Water Gardens. They’d have their father as well, oafish fool that he is, Larra’s father, and their aunts and cousins. They’d be fine.
Her mind made up, she grabs a fresh sheet of parchment and writes three short words:
I am yours.
She discovers he’d chosen her for her discretion, knowing full well her skill at keeping secrets. While Oberyn is off provoking the Lannisters, Ellaria is making every Kingslander rethink their distaste of Dornishwomen, and the rest of the retinue is generally being a nuisance, Larra wiles the guards away from the armory, picks the lock, and slips inside with a glass bottle tucked in her hand. The duel is scheduled for the following day, but there would be even less of a window of opportunity then as there is now.
Quiet as a snake, she dribbles Oberyn’s specially concocted poison onto the tip of his spear, turning it so as to let the liquid seep into the tiny pores of the metal. It dries black, perfectly visible to others; but then, that’s Oberyn’s way. Let the Lannisters grind their teeth over how he’d managed to poison his spear without anyone noticing.
He’d chosen her well. Between Dragonstone and the Red Keep, she’d spent almost three years in the crownlands in her youth, and she’d learned long ago how to use these northerners’ biases against them. Dornishwoman or no, not a soul would suspect a lady of Larra’s standing to be so devious. Being from the mountains adds to the guise, for her fair skin, honey-brown hair, and hazel eyes make it easy to trick them into thinking she’s one of them.
She’s not. Little as it is, the blood of the Rhoynar flows through her veins as surely as it did through Queen Nymeria’s. As it does through Oberyn’s. As it did through his sister’s.
She replaces the spear in its holding, flits back outside, and thinks, This is for you, Elia. Always for you.
The letter comes a month after the announcement of a tourney Lord Baratheon will hold in memory of his parents (ostensibly in memory; rumor has it he’ll use any excuse for a tourney). Even after her sisters assure her she read the note correctly, she can’t believe it. She is being chosen by the Princess of Dorne as one of her daughter’s ladies-in-waiting? She’d have thought girls from closer to Sunspear would have that honor. After all, Ashara Dayne is already there to represent the mountain houses; what use would Princess Elia have for a Blackmont?
Nevertheless, she immediately sends her acceptance, and in no time her chests are filled and she’s riding south. She boards a ship at the tiny port off Starfall’s coast, and the ten days it requires to get from there to Sunspear is torture. Ser Manfrey Martell, the castellan, is the one to greet her at the port, not either princess, but the arrival is enough to overcome that dismay.
Princess Nymeria walked these sands, she marvels. Mors Martell, Harwin Uller, Ser Davos Dayne, they were all here. And now I am, too.
It isn’t until supper that night that she meets them all, Princess Loreza, Prince Doran, Prince Oberyn, and, most strikingly of all, Princess Elia. Larra had known for a while that there was a reason she’d never liked any of her suitors, and if there were any doubt, that would be eliminated when she sees her. Her stomach is filled with butterflies, and her cheeks flushed by what she claims is the heat.
She’s not the only new lady-in-waiting, unfortunately; other than Lady Ashara, there is Lady Hellyne Qorgyle, Lady Nymella Toland, and Elia’s cousin, Lady Divya Manwoody. She carefully scrutinizes the others to see if any of them are smitten as well; none are. Hellyne is starstruck, but that’s not the same thing; Nymella looks confused as to why she’s there, something Larra can understand; Divya holds only familial affection; and Ashara…well, Ashara is her confidante, her sister in all but blood, but nothing beyond that.
Larra’s not stupid, she knows the chances of Elia liking her as more than a friend is less than slim, but then, she hasn’t seen the princess looking at any boys either. She thinks Prince Oberyn has caught on, though he hasn’t said a word, and that’s enough to confirm in her mind the hearsay that he lies with women and men. If there were anyone to not judge her for her preferences, it would be him.
In hindsight, she should have realized the tourney at Storm’s End wasn’t just a tourney, but an opportunity for an announcement of Elia’s betrothal. She should have realized that of course the future king would be the match Princess Loreza orchestrated, given that the previous betrothal trip that included a Hightower and a Lannister didn’t amount to anything.
She vaguely notices at the tourney that Elia can’t stop glowering at the Kingsguard Ser Arthur Dayne for reasons she can’t suss out; when they arrive in the Red Keep, Larra discovers that glare has turned into something else entirely. An admiration that puts a sinking feeling in her stomach. What could have caused the change from that hostility she’d seen at the tourney to the…something else she sees now she couldn’t possibly begin to guess.
Still, although it’s not ideal, of the admiration part she can make sense, for his handsomeness is as well-known as his star-wrought sword. The vapid, blushing servant girls make it no secret what they think of the lilting accent he’d never managed to lose. One of Larra’s favorite hobbies is setting them into a scowl when she points out his only mistress is duty, and that they’d have a better chance romancing a snark.
Well-founded or not, it’s painful to watch Elia be so clearly smitten with him—how Prince Rhaegar doesn’t see it, she’ll never fathom—to watch as her attention is constantly caught by his movements, how a private smile graces her full lips when he walks into a room. It doesn’t help matters that he is as mesmerized as Larra herself, those vivid violet eyes filled with unfettered lust wholly unbecoming of a Kingsguard. Prince Lewyn, at least, seems to be on her side, if his constant warning glares are anything to go by.
The only thing that keeps her from outright disdain is that they’ve never acted on anything, so far as she can tell, keeping themselves to looks and looks alone. That, and Ser Arthur’s ironclad vows.
She has it in her mind to tell Elia how she feels, finally, after the scare that follows Rhaenys’s birth. She knows nothing could ever come of it, but keeping it closeted is eating her up inside. While Elia recovers, Larra contents herself with doting on the baby, who is easy to think of as only hers and not Rhaegar’s, for she bears little similarity to him. Rhaenys’s amber eyes always strike a niggling feeling in the back of her mind, like she’s seen them before.
Shortly after the birth, Ser Arthur returns from his latest attempt to charm the kingswood smallfolk into giving up the Brotherhood, and she catches him in the nursery one evening. It wouldn’t be odd—the entire castle already adores Rhaenys, guards included, and it’s hardly unusual for someone to be spending time in there—except that it hits her then, the sheer resemblance. And those eyes…Larra has seen them before. In Lady Arynna Dayne.
While she hadn’t been well-acquainted with Ser Arthur or Lady Ashara in the past for both had spent most of their time in Sunspear, Blackmont is a stone’s throw from Starfall, and she’d visited with Lord Geraint, Lady Arynna, and Allem Dayne on multiple occasions. She would know that shade of amber anywhere. If only Rhaenys’s eyes had been purple, Larra would have been none the wiser. But that golden-brown hue could have only come from the Allyrions of Godsgrace.
It makes her stomach churn, the realization. Any hope of it being some kind of coincidence vanishes when she studies Ser Arthur’s expression as he gazes down at the baby. He looks at her like Elia does, like Larra’s own father looks at her and her sisters: the pure, unconditional love of a parent for their child.
She doesn’t know how she missed it, when or where or how he and Elia had lain together, but needless to say it’s far too late for her to prevent it. As she dashes away from the nursery, the enormity of the newfound knowledge dawns on her.
Treason. There’s no other word for it. Not only had Elia committed adultery with the—alleged—most chivalrous knight in the realm, but she’d birthed his child, passed her off as trueborn with no apparent care of repercussion.
Though what Larra now knows couldn’t be explicitly proven, if she presented the possibility to Prince Rhaegar, he would see instantly what she does. He may have never met Lady Arynna, but all Larra would need to do is wait a few years until Rhaenys’s features grew more distinct, when she would show signs of being awfully reminiscent of his closest friend. She would receive a reward for her information, and whatever fondness the prince holds for either Ser Arthur or Elia wouldn’t matter, they’d both be punished to the severest extent. Execution, or exile.
Months pass, and Larra watches as Rhaenys slowly comes to look more and more like a Dayne, happens upon Ser Arthur countless more times in the nursery with the child in his arms and tenderness in his gaze. It would be so easy to ruin his life, to use her own heartbreak to force others to feel what she does. A few short words, maybe some hand-wringing for show, and the Sword of the Morning would be summarily out of the way.
Except he would be taking Elia with him, and that Larra can’t stomach. The very thought of her left to rot in the black cells—or, worse, hanged—has her retching. No, she won’t say anything. Can’t say anything. Regardless of how much it hurts to every day look upon Ser Arthur Dayne’s bastard daughter trussed up as a Targaryen, ultimately the girl is Elia’s, too, and Larra decides that’s enough. Hadn’t she been happy for that very fact when she thought the babe was trueborn? Hadn’t she pretended Prince Rhaegar had nothing to do with Rhaenys? Mayhaps she can learn to do the same once again.
She wrestles with the knowledge for three years, until everything falls apart and they all die within a fortnight of one another. Elia, Rhaenys, Arthur, even poor Aegon, and what’s the point? She’d wished Arthur gone, and he is—with unthinkable collateral. Elia’s uncle is slaughtered alongside her husband on the Trident, Arthur’s sister throws herself into the sea, and Larra despairs, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. This isn’t what I wanted.
She promises to take Elia’s secret to the grave and tries to pretend the gods aren’t punishing her for how spiteful she’d once been. The wound festers and festers and festers until it nearly drives her mad, and then—and then—the letter comes
Help me cripple the Lannisters
and for the first time in seventeen years, Larra Blackmont laughs.