She had to admit he looked splendid in his armor. Pure jet black, polished and glinting in the sun. It was well made but simple, which only seemed to enhance Rhaegar's natural good looks. His silvery blonde hair was tied back with a bit of red silk and fell long and straight to the small of his back. The prince glittered in the sun as his deep purple eyes looked up to the spectators, searching the faces calmly, studying his subjects. His eyes settled on Lyanna and lingered as they made eye contact. She felt her cheeks flushing as a slight smile crept to the corners of his mouth. He turned away when a squire came and whispered something in his ear, and the prince strode off towards the ring.
Lyanna felt how warm her face had grown and pulled out her small silk fan, waving cool air on her cheeks. She wished she had worn her hair up instead of down. Her thick brown waves tumbled to her waist and, while pretty, made hot days like this all the more unbearable.
"It's so bloody hot," her younger brother Benjen complained from her right. "Let me borrow your fan, Ly."
He laughed and snatched for it but she held it away. He grabbed her arm and tried to bring it down to pry the fan from her fingers. "Stop it Ben! People are watching!"
She tried to swing her elbow into his chest but Benjen caught it. He stole the fan at last but no sooner did he take it than Ned reached over from Lyanna's left and took it back. Their older brother frowned at them.
"Stop making a scene, both of you. Father's not here and Brandon's riding soon. You both seem to take that as an opportunity to act like children."
Ned tossed the fan back in her lap and Benjen sulked. Her cheeks burned again, this time from shame. She turned away from her younger brother and stared at her hands in her lap. Stupid noble Ned. Stupid Benjen. Benjen was always making jokes and Lyanna was always the butt of them. Ned was worse than father when it came to scoldings, and he always included her as part of the problem. A short trumpet blast filled the air to announce a joust and Lyanna quickly forgot about sulking.
Prince Rhaegar was seated on a red stallion that was snorting impatiently beneath him. His shield had his sigil, the three headed dragon painted on it. Wistfully she wondered if there was anyone who had ever looked more princely than Rhaegar Targaryen, or at the very least if there was a man as beautiful. Stop it you silly thing, fawning over a man like that, she scolded herself. You’re betrothed and he’s married. When did you ever care for these sort of things anyways? She sighed and turned to gaze up the rows of spectators to where Robert Baratheon sat drinking and jesting with the other men in the stands. That’s who she should be paying attention to if anyone. He was handsome, and there was no doubt in her mind that he loved her, but… No. She should be satisfied. Robert was a good man.
Brandon rode up tall and imposing on a white mare, decked in the Stark colors of gray and white. He was more ornately dressed than the prince, but Rhaegar had a regal air and calm swagger that no other knight at the tourney could match. The riders lowered their visors and raised their lances. A hush fell over the crowd as they sprinted towards each other and slowly swelled as they grew closer… and missed. A brief turn and the riders squared off again, the noise of the crowd rising again. Another miss. The third time they swung around the roar of the spectators was nearly deafening, as Rhaegar hit his target while Brandon’s blow simply glanced off Rhaegar’s shield. He landed on his back with a curse. The crowd screamed its pleasure, all but the three Stark children in the stands, watching their brother walk away defeated.
So it was with all of Rhaegar’s opponents; skillfully and gracefully he knocked them all off their horses and into the dust. As the last rider tumbled off his palfrey, the crowd exploded with cheers. The spectators stomped their feet and screamed so loudly Lyanna thought her ears might burst as Rhaegar trotted triumphantly around the ring. He pulled his helm off and let his silvery hair stream behind him, shining white in the sunlight. Lyanna felt her heart flutter a bit once more as he walked his horse past them, smiling again at her. He’s happy to win. He’s not really smiling at you.
Rhaegar’s father, King Aerys presented him with the wreath of winter roses to bestow on the Queen of Love and Beauty. No doubt Rhaegar would give it to Elia, his lovely but frail wife. Frail she may be but she still had the most desirable man in the kingdom for her husband, Lyanna thought. The noise had quieted to a smattering of applause and a few small cheers. Rhaegar looked straight ahead, head held high with pride, heading right for Elia of Dorne, seated in the very center of the stands… and then walked right past her. Any cheering quickly died. The crowd sat in silent shock. If not Elia, then who-
The fragrant blue roses landed softly in Lyanna’s lap. Her heart leapt for joy while her stomach sank. “My lady,” Rhaegar smiled, seemingly ignorant to the appalled spectators staring at them. “For you. The winter rose of the kingdom. The Queen of Love and Beauty.” His gloved hand reached out and covered hers.
She didn’t dare look over at Ned nor up at Robert, so she looked in Rhaegar’s eyes. Bright purple met cool gray and for a moment, the winter rose and the dragon forgot the struggle of fire and ice.