A perfect duplicate, they’d said. Wrought with the same heavy red gold, shaped into the same dragonheads for each point and anointed with the same seven oils. It weighed the same, they assured him, the same diligence and attention that once poured the mold to his own was now used for its twin counterpart. As Rhaegar sat there looking at the two crowns, not even he could discern the differences. That was except, of course, for the gemstones used in each of the dragons’ eyes. Where his own flared with small pieces of glimmering ruby, its replica was instead fashioned with chips of emerald; a homage to the sparkling green gaze of its royal wearer. “Fit for a Dragon Queen,” he’d heard the smith goad, already fingering the small velvet pouch of gold coins in his hand. The idea had brought a brief smile to the King’s face, a flash of affection that quickly receded beneath the waves of increasing self-doubt. Was it fit for a Dragon Queen? Was his new bride even that? Did she wish to let the songs of history sing about her fiery, tempestuous House, or would she make sure her shining paw print as a Lannister lioness never faded from their rule? Suddenly he feared she would wish for a crown wrought from the yellow gold of her own family’s mines, not the heads of fierce leviathans as points, but the open maws of her roaring sigil instead.
Not for the first time, a long, audible sigh bloomed in his chest, deflating even the seemingly unsinkable line of his broad shoulders. Perhaps foolishly and childlishly he could still remember the reign he’d pictured for himself, the glowing Light of the West standing at his side, not competing with his fire, but only illuminating it further. Together the Seven Kingdoms would burn not with his father’s wildfire, but with their equal passion that many continued to say would see them be the two greatest rulers of his House. Yet still, Rhaegar looked to his bride’s new crown with a sense of hesitance, as if he feared it would not mean to her what it did to him. Only his wife for a few short moons, he was as new a husband as he was a king, and he was not sure where one ended and the other began. Cersei was like an unbridled filly, a wild wolf or, better yet, an untamed lioness, and it showed in her mannerisms as much as it did in their marital bed. He had consummated their union, of course, and had revisited it a few times after, but he wondered, could she read his own self-doubt? Were the many gifts he continued to shower upon her, from Myrish lenses to Lyseni silks, Tyroshi dyes and Pentoshi gemstones, even one of the finest hunting falcons from Willas Tyrell’s brood, was it all because he did not know what else to give her?
His eyes flashed with something unintelligible as his steward stepped forth, delicately plucking the heavy crown atop its crimson velvet pillow and gingerly placing it in the ornate wooden box nearby. A golden lock fashioned into the shape of a dragon let out a satisfying click once it was secured into place, protecting the Queen’s new royal gift until it could be at last set upon her brow. These were the crowns they would be painted in, he knew, throughout history. The great and many portraits that still hung in the throne room would one day be accompanied with their own, with Rhaegar’s ruby-eyed crown of Aegon IV matching Cersei’s emerald-eyed one. Perhaps even the queens after her would come to wear it, as well, and the thought alone was enough to briefly wash away the vacillation from his mind and leave him a soft, adoring smile that touched his lips. Tonight, during their feast, he would present it to her before all of the nobles and their squires, servants and valets; anyone and everyone in attendance would lay witness to their King crowning their new Queen. While they each had been coronated by the High Septon beside each other, this would be Rhaegar’s own moment, his own personal sign of devotion to the woman he called his wife. He just prayed it would be enough for her… for the woman who always had everything.
* * * * *
“What do you think of it?” He asked, standing just behind her as she looked to her reflection. The tri-fold of mirrors stood as proud as the couple it reflected, and the deep indigo of his eyes flitted over Cersei’s frame. The crown of red gold sat upon her head, glimmering in the chandelier light hanging from their domed ceiling, and even Rhaegar had to admire the precision of the workmanship. Still he could not note any difference against his own crown, save for the flecks of emerald embedded into the dragonheads, and it brought a loving smile to his lips that he did not hesitate to press to the top of her bare shoulder. Though they could not hear the music in the great hall from here in the Holdfast, the King knew their people continued to feast and dance and celebrate in the name of their new royal couple, and here… here, across the drawbridge and deep within his apartments, the King sought his own celebration. With gentle hands he collected her silken blond hair, moving it to one side so that her elegant nape was free for him to kiss and whisper warm breaths of air upon the small hairs. “‘Fit for a Dragon Queen,’ I was told.” Lifting his head, he glanced once more to her reflection before him, his thick arms slipping beneath her own and winding around the slenderness of her waist. “Fit for my Queen.”