When the Wars of Kings and the War for the Dawn and all the other things had ended and King Bran had ascended his weirwood throne on the island in the middle of the Gods Eye, Shireen Baratheon returned South with all her father's remaining men and made for the keep of Storm's End.
She might have returned to Dragonstone, the castle where she had lived all her life, but in the end she decided not to. That castle was full of ghosts- her mother, her father. It also was a less- weighty- castle, politically speaking. Fewer people would take offence at her being in Storm's End. There had always been Baratheons or Durrandons in Storm's End. Only Stannis had ever lived at Dragonstone. It was the first of many decisions she would make in the course of her very long life, and it was also pretty much the first decision Shireen made all by herself, with no input from maesters or nurses or parents or servants.
So she lead her father's broken company south, to a holdfast she had never been to, to a people who had never met her, to a destiny that remained utterly uncertain.
When the dust settled in Dorne, Ellaria, Trystane, and all the Sand Snakes had gently suggested that she might wish to leave Sunspear. Myrcella had no particular objections towards leaving the place where her face had been mutilated, her trust had been manipulated, and her life had almost been ended, but at the same time, she was accustomed to life in Sunspear. Her skin had long since taken on a healthy glow instead of peeling off in strips, and she shuddered at the thought of once more consuming food without any sort of seasoning, but the Martells had all been very assuring that of course Myrcella would be welcome to return to Dorne at any time.
Just so long as it was never with a crown on her brow or an army at her back.
And that was perfectly fine with Myrcella.
Myrcella packed up her things herself. There were still a few other girls in her retinue- most Lannister cousins or Lannister bannermen- and they could have helped her pack, but in truth, she didn't want them. They'd all been so odd since her scarring, like they weren't sure whether they felt pity for her or not. Myrcella never cared much for her brother Joffrey's puffed up sense of pride, but she couldn't deny that it rankled something deep within her to be treated that way. So she was sending them away.
"You all will go to the Rock," Myrcella told the girls, "If you don't wish to stay in Sunspear, then go attend Lady Hill. She is your liege now, not I." Myrcella's cousin, a bastard a few years older than her, Joy Hill, had been named the new Lady of Casterly Rock. Myrcella had never met her, but she'd also never heard about her. In a family like the Lannisters, that was a rare enough thing. So Myrcella figured she'd be good enough at it. She'd have plenty of help, afterall.
Where Myrcella would go, she wasn't sure.
When she had packed all her dresses and gowns into her trunks, Myrcella went to the Maesters' tower one last time.
Lady Sarella Sand, Maesters Caleotte and Myles, and Samwell Tarly were all in attendance, each bustling about doing their own work. Sarella was the first to notice Myrcella's presence.
"My Lady," she said, sketching a bow. It was not as deep as Sam's, nor the maesters', but Myrcella didn't mind. Sarella was just like that, more cat than anything. Myrcella had heard that in Oldtown when she'd been masquerading as the acolyte Alleras she'd been called the Sphinx. Myrcella had read a few stories about sphinxes, and she had to agree that it was a rather fitting nickname.
"I've nearly finished packing," she told Maester Caleotte. He'd been the one who stitched up her face and saved her life after the attack. She felt a bit of partiality to him because of it.
Maester Caleotte was short, fat, and bald, with dextrous fingers and a quick mind. His smile was gentle on Myrcella. He handed her a jar.
"Here is the salve," he said, "You remember how often it should be applied, my lady?"
Myrcella nodded. "Twice daily, when I arise and when I retire, to keep it from getting irritated."
"Good memory, girl. Have you decided upon a direction to travel?"
Myrcella shook her head.
"Oh!" Samwell Tarly said, as if suddenly reminded of something. "There's been a raven for you, Your Grace- er - my lady." He handed her a scroll sealed with the sigil of house baratheon in yellow wax.
"Who is it from?" Sarella asked, curious, as Myrcella broke the seal.
Princess Lady Myrcella Baratheon, at Sunspear,
I welcome you to Storm's End, cousin. I have recently reclaimed Storm's End for myself, as the last living trueborn Baratheon. Though I know you are not truly my blood, I would still like your company. There are few enough ladies here, and I admit myself to be somewhat lonely. If you are ever intending on returning north from Dorne, I bid you come visit me in our ancestral home.
Lady Shireen Baratheon, Lady of Storm's End
"It is from my cousin, Lady Shireen Baratheon."
"Your uncle Stannis's daughter?" Samwell asked. "I met him at the Wall."
"She has invited me to come and live at Storm's End." Myrcella bit her lip, tapping the parchment against the palm of her hand. "I have not seen my lady cousin in years. Perhaps I ought to go."
"Did she say why she wanted you to come?" Sarella said. "She may be wishing you to arrive that she may cut your head off to prevent any of your heirs from claiming Storm's End or the throne."
"She writes saying she wants company." Myrcella scanned the words once more, then rolled it back up decisively, nodding. "I will go to her. If it is a trick, then I am a fool and she would have to be much changed from the girl I knew besides."
Maester Myles fetched a fresh piece of parchment and dipped his quill anew. "As you say, my lady."
"You appear to be anxious," Devan whispered in Shireen's ear. "You ought not to be. She is coming with but two men-at-arms and a maid. She means no harm, Shireen."
"Aye," Shireen nodded. Devan was right. Devan was usually right. She offered him a small smile and took a deep breath.
"My lady!" came a guard's shout, "Lady Myrcella has been spotted but a quarter of a mile away!"
"Open the gates to welcome her in," Shireen ordered. Devan slipped his hand into hers, their fingers hidden by the voluminous folds of her skirts.
After what seemed an eternity, Lady Myrcella Baratheon, bastard born of incest, arrived in the courtyard of Storm's End.
She was taller than she'd been when they'd been children, but Shireen supposed that was to be expected. They were a maiden and a woman grown now, and Shireen hadn't seen Myrcella since before the long summer had ended.
Otherwise, not much about her appearance was much different. She was still lovely, with golden curls escaping from a yellow scarf and sharp green eyes. Her skin had tanned to bronze under the hot Dornish sun, but that was not at all to her disadvantage. She wore a loose gown of red silk with black and yellow flowers stitched upon it, lions chasing deer near the hem.
Shireen stepped forward to greet her. "Cousin," she said, giving her courtesy just as she'd seen Lady Sansa do.
Myrcella bent herself, a little lower than she'd likely ever been taught to do. Shireen bid her to raise herself up and opened her arms to her. Myrcella smiled and entered her embrace.
After a small feast that night (if there was one thing Shireen's parents had educated her on, it was the importance of frugality) Shireen showed Myrcella to her chambers.
"My chambers are just down the hall there and Devan's are across from mine. If you cannot find me in my own rooms, I'm like as not to be in his."
Myrcella raised her eyebrows. "I hadn't realized you were married, cousin."
Shireen looked down at her slippers. "We didn't tell very many people. It's all official- we did it by Red Priest the first time and by the Seven the second time, but we didn't want to cause much fuss. We simply wished to be married." Myrcella nodded.
They were both quiet for awhile.
"If it is not too rude a query," Shireen asked, "is there a reason you wear that scarf?"
Myrcella reached up to touch the fabric. "It's not rude. Few people knew of it and fewer still of them are still alive to know it now." She pulled the scarf off to reveal the full riot of her curls and-
Shireen gasped. "You have a scar!"
Myrcella swept her hair over one shoulder. "And missing an ear, too." Shireen's dark blue eyes found the place where her ear had once been. Myrcella let her hair fall back into place.
"It's ugly, I know that," she began to pace near the fire, twisting the yellow silk of her scarf in her fingers, "My own mother thought so when she heard of it, I know that. It's why Prince Trystane and I aren't betrothed anymore, or at least part of the reason. No one wants to marry some inbred bastard girl who isn't even whole."
Shireen stood up and crossed the room to her. "That's not true, Cella."
Myrcella paused in her pacing, looking up into Shireen's face. "How do you know?"
Shireen reached down and brought Myrcella's hand up to her own left cheek, where her greyscale scars remained. "I'm scarred too. I'm the daughter of a usurper, with the scars of a deadly dreaded disease. Uncle Renly spread rumors saying that Patches was my real father, though father always said I was more Baratheon than Uncle Renly ever was. I'm still loved. I'm still wanted. I'm married to a man I love, and I still have men at arms here to protect me and carry out my every whim. And so are you. Because I know that I, at least want you here. You. Scars and all."
Myrcella let out a sob she'd been holding in since the first day she woke up after the Darkstar's attack and fell into Shireen's arms. Shireen held her until all her tears were gone and all her fears were dead again.