RHAEGAR AND LYANNA: LUST, LOVE, OR NEITHER?

Anonymous asked: so rhaegar and lyanna lust or love or neither?

Hey there!

Love or lust? That’s a hard one to answer, because as with most ASOIAF things, there’s no simple black and white answer: it was definitely both.  Lust at first, stolen glances, probably small smirks and reveries at Lyanna’s fiery, wolfish tendencies, her ferocity.  The Knight of the Laughing Tree story is one of our biggest hints at Rhaegar and Lyanna’s relationship, although I would argue R+L=J’s love story is etched out across all of Ned’s AGOT chapters, also.  

“The Knight of the Laughing Tree had vanished. The king was wroth, and even sent his son the dragon prince to seek the man, but all they ever found was his painted shield, hanging abandoned in a tree. It was the dragon prince who won that tourney in the end.“

Bran II, ASOS

Without a doubt, KOTL is Lyanna, and this was the imprint; Rhaegar had to have met her this way.  The missing links are just between the lines, and we as readers are so close to uncovering them. (Also, I don’t doubt that Bran will get to see a vision of KOTL at some point in future books – the penny is in the air, and the penny has to drop eventually.)  

What can we glean from Rhaegar meeting Lyanna?  

 “None offered a name, but he marked their faces well so he could revenge himself upon them later. They shoved him down every time he tried to rise, and kicked him when he curled up on the ground. But then they heard a roar. ‘That’s my father’s man you’re kicking,’ howled the she-wolf.”

Bran II, ASOS

Rhaegar chose Lyanna on an honor basis alone – which, funnily enough, highlights the Dragon’s Honor, but we’ll slide past that.  Did he fall in love with her right away?  No, there was a certain amusement, I’m sure.  If you believe the theory that Rhaegar was meeting her to carry her to safety before Aerys could get to her like I, and most, do, then you may gain something from parallels in Jon chapters —

It happened twice more that night, and again in the morning, when she woke to find him hard. The wildlings were stirring by then, and several could not help but notice what was going on beneath the pile of furs. Jarl told them to be quick about it, before he had to throw a pail of water over them. Like a pair of rutting dogs, Jon thought afterward. Was that what he’d become? I am a man of the Night’s Watch, a small voice inside insisted, but every night it seemed a little fainter, and when Ygritte kissed his ears or bit his neck, he could not hear it at all. Was this how it was for my father? he wondered. Was he as weak as I am, when he dishonored himself in my mother’s bed?

Jon III, ASOS

 Many a night he lay with Ygritte warm beside him, wondering if his lord father had felt this confused about his mother, whoever she had been.

Jon V, ASOS

“Was he as weak as I am, when he dishonored himself in my mother’s bed?

Rhaegar absolutely tossed and turned through their ‘adventure’, through the two of them being on the run.  He absolutely lied there and wondered, “what am I doing? Did I make the right choice?” Whether it was prophecy or love.

And I’m sure Lyanna didn’t make it easy on him.  Again, we’re told of how willful she is, how she reminds Ned of Arya daily, and how Jon was reminded of Arya in Ygritte at times.

“It has a name, does it?” Her father sighed. “Ah, Arya. You have a wildness in you, child. ‘The wolf blood,’ my father used to call it. Lyanna had a touch of it, and my brother Brandon more than a touch. It brought them both to an early grave.” Arya heard sadness in his voice; he did not often speak of his father, or of the brother and sister who had died before she was born. “Lyanna might have carried a sword, if my lord father had allowed it. You remind me of her sometimes. You even look like her.”

Arya II, AGOT

So that brings us to the harder parts.  When did it turn? Because it did.  It turned from lust and passion to love.

“I was with her when she died,” Ned reminded the king. “She wanted to come home, to rest beside Brandon and Father.” He could hear her still at times. Promise me, she had cried, in a room that smelled of blood and roses. Promise me, Ned. The fever had taken her strength and her voice had been faint as a whisper, but when he gave her his word, the fear had gone out of his sister’s eyes. Ned remembered the way she had smiled then, how tightly her fingers had clutched his as she gave up her hold on life, the rose petals spilling from her palm, dead and black. After that he remembered nothing. They had found him still holding her body, silent with grief. The little crannogman, Howland Reed, had taken her hand from his. Ned could recall none of it. “I bring her flowers when I can,” he said. “Lyanna was … fond of flowers.”

Eddard I

Rapists and kidnappers don’t often bring their ‘victims’ flowers, and Lyanna died in a room full of flowers- her favorite flowers, specifically.  Dead rose petals spiraling out of her hands.  Her, grasping onto them, holding on for dear life as the life passed out of her. (Kidnapping my ass.)

“The Others take your honor!” Robert swore. “What did any Targaryen ever know of honor? Go down into your crypt and ask Lyanna about the dragon’s honor!”

“You avenged Lyanna at the Trident,” Ned said, halting beside the king. Promise me, Ned, she had whispered.

Eddard II

He could still hear Sansa pleading, as Lyanna had pleaded once.

Eddard IV

Her eyes burned, green fire in the dusk, like the lioness that was her sigil. “The night of our wedding feast, the first time we shared a bed, he called me by your sister’s name. He was on top of me, in me, stinking of wine, and he whispered Lyanna.”

Ned Stark thought of pale blue roses, and for a moment he wanted to weep. “I do not know which of you I pity most.”

Eddard XII

For those interested in a more detailed read that helps analyze R+L=J, I STRONGLY recommend trying a Ned only POV read through in AGOT.  It embellishes on many details- how Ned regards certain people, how he behaves whenever Robert mentions Rhaegar or Lyanna, how he stiffens, how he immediately pushes it away.

He pities Robert and Cersei, because the two people they ‘wanted’ more than anything were together and very much in love.  

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