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one . . .  DOHAERĀS

     Cressida's job placed a lot of responsibility upon her shoulders. Mostly because of Princess Rhaenyra, who insisted on doing everything her own way. Causing her companion to follow her in her mischief, even if it was from afar.

     She has been serving as Rhaenyra's companion for years now. So really, Cressida should have predicted the Princess would manage to fly off on Syrax instead of just visiting him as they had agreed. They had places to be and no time for adventures. And the Lady grew more anxious as the sun lowered on the horizon.

     Peeking out from inside the carriage, Cressida huffed in annoyance as she sat back down. Rhaenyra and her dragon were nowhere to be seen, and now they would barely make it on time for the Small Council.

     "Perhaps the short trip to visit Syrax wasn't a good idea," Alicent mused from across her. A small smile played in her lips as her eyes didn't stray from the sky.

     "No," Cressida answered, sighing exasperatedly. Looking down at her lap, a letter from her Aunt Jocelyn taunted her with a gold wax sealing it shut. The thought of her once-beloved aunt sent a current of betrayal down her limbs. Pursing her lips, Cressida stuffed the letter beneath her. "Listening to Rhaenyra is never a good idea. Much less when Aelyx is involved."

     At that Alicent let out a soft laugh, and Cressida looked at the Lady Hightower once again as her laugh faded. Alicent wasn't looking back at her, but at the spot where the letter had been hidden. Picking at her fingers raw in the way Cressida hated, Alicent got a glum look in her eyes, before they darted up to the Baratheon.

     "Any word from your father?" Alicent asked. "I know you dislike being blinded from the troubles in the Stormlands, especially with the recent disagreements with House Swann."

     Cressida paused to look at her friend, dark violet eyes piercing into her. The empty abyss of her gaze shoned in pity. Alicent was always afraid to speak as she wished, if she were to speak at all. Cressida knew what Alicent really wanted to know. For herself, or for House hightower, the Baratheon didn't know. But Cressida hoped Alicent would find her voice under everyone who tried to silence her.

     "The letter is from my Aunt Jocelyn," Cressida reached for Alicent's hands, stopping her from harming herself further. Her eyes soften at the girl, something odd to see from the Baratheon. "And I know you don't care about the unrest of the Swann's. But I do not know of my father's thoughts on the Hand's proposal."

     Alicent seemed to lighten at that, as if a burden was lifted from her shoulders. Cressida retracted her hands, looking down at her red gown. The prospect of the fabric changing to green made her chest tighten. In anger, disgust, helplessness. Whose house she joined in marriage was a decision beyond her. There were many factors to take into account, the most important being what benefits did marrying the Hand of the King bring to House Baratheon.

     "In his last letter," the Lady Baratheon started, voice level and expression still. Much more herself than the brief glimpse of vulnerability. "My father concluded the matter to be better discussed in person. So I suspect he has sent word ahead to have a hearing with your Lord father."

     Nodding, Alicent seemed much more relaxed after clearing the air. Cressida doubted the girl felt comfortable with having her as a step-mother, but a complaint against Otto Hightower's wishes would never be heard from his daughter.

     "Well, I do think it's a profitable match," Alicent said, straightening in her seat. Profitable. Yes, but not in the favor of House Baratheon. Or her own. "Definitely better than what Bennard Stark might have offered in the North."

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⏰ Last updated: Oct 17, 2022 ⏰

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