6.3.12

Mountain Part 16 - Feast

They cheered as the wedding processional passed through the Outer Ward. Cheered. Not for him, he knew, but for her. Their Lady, his wife. What was it about this little creature, he wondered. How did she win your heart without effort? With a look, a smile? She had charmed him, that was certain. He half wondered if she had some kind of magic about her. Not that he believed in such things, but still... he could not deny that she caused him to feel something strange and different, something damn near unsettling.

This topic had occupied his thoughts since he first discovered her in the Godswood. He puzzled over it once more as he carried her toward the Hall of the Hundred Hearths. Perched in the crook of his arm, wrapped in his cloak, her arm around his neck, she was smiling. She was fragile, delicate, and that made him want to protect her, somehow. And yet, she was brave. Perhaps the bravest girl he'd ever encountered. In fact, he'd never before met a female who hadn't been afraid of him, save Queen Cersei, and as Queen, he supposed she needn't be afraid of anyone. This girl though… she seemed to want to be near him. She'd smiled at him as they were wed, as though she were... glad.

Glad was a feeling Gregor wasn't overly familiar with. He hadn't had much cause for joy in his life. He felt a kind of pleasure sometimes, fucking a whore or some captured village maid. He liked the fear in their eyes, liked to see them cower… but it was better sport when they fought him. He often felt relief, torturing a prisoner or beating a servant. The best relief, however, was killing. He was so easily angered. No sooner had the seed of anger been planted, then the headaches would begin. Intense, blinding pain, he would feel sick to his stomach from it. Light bothered him. Milk of the poppy used to relieve the pain, but lately did not help overmuch, so he didn't often bother with it anymore. There was no release as satisfying as watching the life drain out of the eyes of another living thing. Hunting sometimes would suffice, but the killing of humans, that was the best relief. 

When they reached the dais, he set her down beside him and turned to face the crowded Hall. Ronal had reminded him that it was his duty to address the guests and begin the festivities. He was a man of very few words, and so he simply said in his deep rumbling voice, "I give you my wife and your Lady, Lady Melicent Clegane. Let the feasting commence." There was a cheer and he nodded to Ronal who clapped his hands. The servants of Harrenhal sprang into action.

Gregor turned to his Lady wife and she smiled at him. Even though her face was bruised and her lip swollen, she still looked beautiful, standing there in all her finery, his House Jewels at her throat, his House cloak around her shoulders. He felt a surge of anger toward the Dornish snake who’d damaged her. Waiting for the headache that he knew would follow his fury, he asked her, "Are you well, girl? Your injuries, I mean. Should you rest?"

"I am very well, my Lord." She nodded, but he could see she looked tired. He reached to unfasten the heavy cloak, lifting it from her shoulders and draping it over her chair. He helped her to sit and watched as she arranged her skirts, noting her soft lips, the swell of her breasts, her small waist, the curve of her hip... Mine... he wanted to take her now, here on the dais, in front of all of his wedding guests. He could, he thought, she belonged to him now. No one could stop him from having her if he chose to. Instead he waited, gritting his teeth and settling his huge frame in the large chair beside his new wife. Self-control was needed here. With difficulty, he pushed the physical desire to assert his power in the moment down deep inside, focusing his mind on the political power he would acquire through this union. If he played this correctly, he stood to gain much more than a spent cock. And he would have her before the night was out. He motioned to his squire to fill his goblet, then he lifted it and drank deeply. 

Wines, whites from the Arbor and reds from Dorne flowed freely and food began to appear. Delicacy upon delicacy was presented to the bride and groom, and then shared among the guests. He had ordered Ronal to spare no expense. He had become a rich man who ruled over a fertile land. Many of the ingredients, he knew, were sourced from his own lands. The servants brought forth a creamy soup of river mushrooms and buttered snails; a salad of young greens with pears, bramble berries and spiced nuts; hot candied onions; tender pickled fiddleheads and goose liver paté fried in butter.  

A minstrel played as they began to feast, the sounds of his harp nearly drowned out by the droning chatter of the wedding guests and the servants moving busily about. Every table in the huge Hall was filled; his Bannermen and their Houses seated below the dais, with lesser Lords and Ladies and Landed Knights coming after. Finally there were the high ranking soldiers the richest merchants, and the most successful businessmen, some of whom had bought their seats in order to gain the favour of their Lord. While most of the guests commented on the bride’s beauty and wished her well, still others placed quiet wagers on how long she would live and what would be the manner of her death. The people had not yet forgotten the mysterious deaths of Lord Gregor’s first two wives.

The feast went on and on. After the soup, salad and savouries came river pike baked in a crust of fresh herbs and hard cheese; trout wrapped in bacon and served on a bed of wilted greens. Then followed countless capons stuffed with apples, raisins and walnuts; sliced swan poached in garlic butter; spit roasted rack of venison; honeyed carrots; buttered pease and roasted root vegetables. The meal was concluded with an array of sweet delicacies, baked apples stuffed with spices, apricots, dried berries and brown sugar; forest berry tarts; lemon cakes iced with sugar; cream swans; lemon sorbet, honeyed wine, spiced wine and mead. 

Outside the Hall in the Outer Ward, the Smallfolk were given their own feast of grilled whole river trout, spit roasted aurochs rubbed with pepper and spices, venison stew, pease porridge, fresh baked bread and hot apple tarts. Bonfires were lit and there was dancing and singing, as well as much cheering and drunken toasting of their Lord & Lady. The food was plentiful and the feast was a great success. In truth, it seemed as though they were made happiest by the many, many barrels of ale their Lord had provided for them. 

At the head of the Hall, Gregor shared his plate with his bride as was the custom, offering her the finest portions before eating his own. He had simple tastes, himself, and though he ate and drank heartily and enjoyed the feast, he found it interested him more to observe his Lady wife. She sampled the offerings delicately, seeming surprised that she enjoyed the snails, politely declining the onions and the paté. He noticed she didn't seem to mind the salads or the vegetables, for which he had very little use. She drank sweet white wine and spiced red, by the time the mead was poured, her cheeks were flushed pink and she was laughing. The things she liked best were the lemon cakes and she was delighted by the lemon sorbet. He thought perhaps he would tell Ronal to order a case of lemons as a gift for her and wondered if a lemon tree would grow in the Riverlands. 

That thought surprised and pleased him. He had never given his other wives any kind of gift before, although he did allow them to wear the House Clegane jewels on one or two occasions. He had never thought to do things to please anyone but himself. He hadn't seen any point in doing so until this moment ... until he realized that it pleased him to see her happy. He studied her as she listened to the three singers whom Ronal had engaged for the celebration. She was fond of songs, the stories of Knights and Ladies seemed to captivate her. She told him that singers rarely ventured as far North as Karhold, and it was quite thrilling to be able to hear three on the same day. She watched the entertainers who performed tricks of acrobatics and juggling in awe, confessing that she'd never seen anyone perform such feats before.

Gregor didn't spare the performers more than a glance or two, instead dividing his attention between a discussion of the state of the realm with Lord Tomard, who was seated to his right, and watching his bride. She sat at his left, talking with her mother, laughing at the acrobats, smiling dreamily at the songs. He watched her green eyes filled with light, fascinated by her long dark lashes. He noticed the way her pale cheeks had flushed a pretty rose color, a combination of the wine and the many hearths blazing. Her creamy skin was tantalizing, her full breasts just about to spill out of the bodice of her gown, the way her chest rose and fell when she breathed, the tiny pulse in her neck. He felt his cock stiffen and he shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

He gave up on talk after a while as the noise level made conversing difficult. He was thankful he did not have a headache, when suddenly he realized that when he was with his bride, his headaches always seemed to fade. Could this be true he wondered? There was a part in a song that one of the bards had sung and it suddenly came to his mind. The song was about a tortured, and wounded Knight and the maiden who cared for him. There was a verse, it went something like 'she was the balm that healed and soothed his broken soul.' He chuckled to himself. Do I even have a soul at all?  He did not know, but if his soul remained, was it this little doe-like creature who could help him to find it? The thought disquieted him more than he would care to admit and he motioned to his Squire to once more refill his goblet.

The eating ended; it was time for the dancing to begin. It was customary for the bride and groom to lead the first dance, and Melicent looked to him questioningly. “Shall we begin the dancing, my Lord?” she asked and he nodded. Standing and taking her hand in his, she rose and he led her to the open area in front of the dais. Best to get it done quickly, he thought. Gregor was annoyed by silly things such as dancing and he was tiring of the feast. He wondered how much longer he would have to wait until he could bed his new bride. He was not used to waiting for things, if he wanted something, he took it. This girl was his now and he wanted her. The waiting angered him, it was difficult to be patient and he had to remind himself again, of how much he stood to gain from this marriage. 

The music began and he placed his hand on her waist. She looked up at him and smiled… not shyly, the wine had made her bold. He curled one corner of his mouth upward and said “I don’t dance.” She laughed and stepped in closer to him.

“I’d have been awfully surprised if you did, my Lord. Just step back, and then step toward me. When you do, move me backward a bit.” He did so, picking her up and placing her back down again. She laughed again, her head falling back. “You needn’t haul me around, I’m meant to step back on my own!” 

He scowled. “You weren’t clear.” He attempted another step and then took her hand, leading her back to the dais. He sat heavily in his chair and pulled her onto his lap. She offered no resistance, leaning against his chest and sighing. 
 
“I’m sorry…” she said, “…really, I’m tired and the wine…” she looked up at him and smiled. “I’d be a better dancing master another day, perhaps.” 

He chuckled, a deep rumbling in his chest. “I don’t foresee more dancing in my future, girl.” 

They sat in silence for a while. Gregor drank sour red wine and tried not to let his wife’s cleavage entice him, overmuch. Melicent rested her head on his chest and watched the dancing. He imagined she was in pain and kept an arm loose around her waist, his huge hand resting on her thigh. Time passed and Gregor waited. Finally, after his squire emptied the second flagon of wine into his cup, he drained it, set it down and rose, gathering his new bride in his arms. Someone in the shouted out “It’s time for the bedding!” People began to stand and a cheer went through the Hall. 

“I need no help to bed my wife.” Gregor growled, and the Hall quieted. “Remain here and drink my wine, I’ll take my Lady to my bed and bed her well, I promise you that.”

The guests cheered loudly, though some looked a fair bit disappointed not to be able to participate in the disrobing. Lady Sylva burst into tears and Septa Rohanne rushed to comfort her, a pained expression on her face. Nella rose from the high table and left the Hall, through the side doors which led to the gardens. Gregor looked to Lord Tomard, who looked sad and tired. Tomard nodded to him and smiled at his daughter. Then Lord Gregor carried his bride from the hall, smiling darkly, heading in the direction of his chambers in the King’s Pyre Tower. 

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5 comments:

  1. Well done ;)

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  2. This is marvelous! The attention to detail is unlike any I have ever seen in a fanfiction before. I'm very much impressed with your writing style, plotline, settings, description. Just stumbled across this and thought I might read a chapter or two. I could not stop and read the whole story. Now I'm excited to find out what happens next! Huzzah to you Houndgirrl!

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  3. Why are you so amazing??

    Sorry I can`t comment more now, I have to reread this part twice or thrice...)))

    Really happy to see the update!)

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  4. OMG you make me blush! thank you so much for reading & for your encouragement, it means so much! Working hard on the next part, keep an eye out! ;D

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  5. asjkfhdajkshdfhfdncnglll|!!!!!! i'm you're slave! *0*

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