(Scenario: You Can Have All Three takes place several years after the events of Three Strong Boys. Aemond learns that he might get his justice as The Dance With Dragons conflict begins.)
Aemond stroked his nephew’s cheek. The newborn baby’s skin was soft and the boy cooed, bringing a smile to Aemond’s face. It was a genuinely happy smile, of the sort he could not remember himself doing for years. Water welled in his eyes. Or, rather, in his sole good eye, while the void that a sapphire jewel filled itched him. “What do you intend to call him?” Aemond asked.
“Jaehaerys,” Aegon replied. “Like our great-grandfather. It is my hope that he will emulate the Old King. It is a shame we never got to meet him.”
“He was known as the Conciliator, Brother. He would probably have told us to kiss and make up with Rhaenyra and her bastards for the good of the realm. I have inkling that we would not get on so well, the Old King and us.”
“Speak for you, yourself, Aemond. King Jaehaerys, the First OF His Name, ruled for fifty-five years and advanced the legacy of the Conqueror by sewing up the wounds that Maegor had dug.”
Lost The Stomach For War?
Has Aegon lost the will to fight? Aemond narrowed his eyes, the sapphire pressing into the socket. Of late, Aegon had been spending an awful lot of time with Helaena, their sister and his wife, and with baby Jaehaerys. Aegon had been coddling the boy and showing him off to everyone who visited court.
Did this mean that Aegon had lost the stomach to deliver the justice that their father had denied Aemond when Lucerys, their bastard nephew, had cut open his eye after Aemond had ridden Vhagar? Aemond hoped not. Aemond would have delivered the justice that Lucerys and their half-sister, Princess Rhaenyra, had deserved years ago if it had not been for Aegon’s words. They had soothed him at the time. If Aegon refused to follow through with his promise, there would be consequences. Aemond would make sure of it.
“We have not seen a king like Jaehaerys the First,” Aegon continued, oblivious to his brother’s thoughts, as he looked down at his son. Aegon’s eyes glinted, as if with hope; as if his son could be the one to emulate Jaehaerys I simply because he had his name. “We must pray for another one like our great-grandfather.”
“You will make a fine King, Brother.”
“Fine Isn’t Good Enough”
Aegon sighed and the glint in his eyes changed. “Fine isn’t good enough, Aemond,” he said. “Father is a fine King. He is well-liked and the realm has prospered. But he has been unable to prevent the animosity festering within his own family. Indeed, he has chosen to willfully ignore it than deal with it. The Old King knew how to reconcile with his enemies, so that they kept his peace.”
Aemond raised a brow. His brother had viewed the Conciliator’s rule as if it had all been honey and roses. While there had been no wars during Jaehaerys’ reign, disease had claimed countless people.
Moreover, Jaehaerys had been estranged from his wife on a couple of occasions; had chosen against reconciling with his daughter, Saera, calling her a whore instead; had known loss on a scale that few could imagine; and had died in a bed, long after his wits had abandoned him. Did Aegon truly want to be Jaehaerys I come again and suffer all that he had? “If you want your peace so much, Brother,” Aemond said. “Kill your enemies first.”
Aegon shook his head. “Septon Barth wrote that it is a poor king who wages battle against his own lords and leaves his own kingdom burned, bloody, and strewn with corpses. Jaehaerys the First was wiser than that. He had seen what waging war had done to Maegor, and thus kept his family safe because of it.” He looked down at baby Jaehaerys again, as if it were the only thing that mattered to him now. “I must keep him safe, Aemond,” he continued. “He is too precious to us, to all that the Old King and Aegon the Conqueror built. We cannot just wage petty wars. You must understand this.”
The Conciliator’s Kind Of Peace
“If you kill your enemies, you will have the peace you desire.”
“Maegor tried that. And he failed. His wars failed and he ended up with a dagger through his throat on the Iron Throne. Don’t you see that the Conciliator’s way is more conducive to peace?”
“Peace will not bring me justice for my eye!”
“No, it won’t,” Aegon agreed. “But there is more to being king than settling scores.”
Aemond glared at his brother. What had happened to the person he had grown up with? The one he had looked up to? The war hungry boy had been replaced by a weak, peace-loving man. How was Aegon ever going to make a great king if he did not desire war? “I do not know what-”
The door burst open. It was their mother, Queen Alicent. “The King is dead,” she said, shuddering. “He went for a rest earlier this afternoon and stopped breathing.”
“Why No Bells?”
Aemond’s heart ceased. He stared at his mother, as the news sunk in. His father, King Viserys I, had died.
“Why no bells, Mother?” Aegon asked.
Queen Alicent ceased shuddering and stared at her first-born. “I ordered them not to be rung,” she said. “I do not want news of the King’s death spreading to Dragonstone. When Princess Rhaenyra finds out, she will come flying to King’s Landing to take up her position. We must make adequate preparations to ensure that she does not dare sit on your throne.”
Aemond raised a brow. “Mother do you really believe that our half-sister will give up her alleged claim to the throne just because we put up some soldiers, towers and scorpion crossbows on the walls of King’s Landing?”
His mother growled. “No. I said we had to prepare and that means taking all available measures and coming up with a strategy to deal with Rhaenyra’s response to the King’s death.”
“You Don’t Have A Choice Now”
Aegon groaned. He looked down at his son, took a deep breath, and sucked on his lips. “This is not what I had in mind so soon after becoming a father,” he said. “I do not want my son to grow up amidst a backdrop of war and-”
“Well, you don’t have a choice now, Brother,” Aemond interjected. “Do you really think Rhaenyra will spare us, including little Jaehaerys, if she plonks her arse on the Iron Throne? I think not.”
“Aye,” Aegon said. “You have taunted her and her sons too much for that over the years. If you hadn’t, mayhap we’d have had a chance for peace-”
“No, we wouldn’t!” Aemond snapped.
“A Son’s Claim Is Stronger Than A Saughter’s”
“A son’s claim is stronger than a daughter’s,” Queen Alicent added. “That was decreed at the Great Council of 101. Regardless of anything Aemond has done, Rhaenyra is fully aware of the decree and would have to rid herself of you all to avoid problems in the future. Trust me on this one. I know her heart.”
“Thus,” Aemond said, with a smirk. “If you want to keep us and your son safe, ascend the Iron Throne now and become King Aegon, the Second of His Name.”
Aegon gave his brother a sharp, side-long glare. “If I had a choice, I would do otherwise. But since I don’t, we must prepare for war.”
Aemond’s heart leapt. At last, he would get his justice. “Tell me, Brother, what would you have me do?” he asked.
“Take Vhagar and fly to Storm’s End,” Queen Alicent said. “We need alliances and I have my suspicions over the Baratheons. At the Great Council, Lord Boremund had supported Princess Rhaenys’ claim to the Iron Throne over Prince Viserys’. We cannot risk his son, Lord Borros, siding with Rhaenyra’s claim. Hopefully, a marital alliance to Aegon will make sure that his House chooses the right side this time around. And if not, the sight of Vhagar should be enough to convince him.”
“You Can Have All Three”
Aemond frowned. That was not what he had wanted to hear. He had hoped that his mother or brother would come up with some clever plan for a battle that would draw out Lucerys, to make him easy prey for Vhagar.
But Aemond nodded all the same. “Just promise me that you will leave Prince Lucerys to me.”
“You can have all three of the Strong bastards if you like.”
Aemond grinned. It was the first time he had heard his mother use that term to describe his nephews, and it warmed his heart. “I will leave at once,” he said. “I will return when I have gained Lord Borros’ allegiance.”
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