What do you do when your father goes insane? No, that isn't a trick question. What do you do?
I was very young when I was spirited away from King's Landing with my mother and niece. I don't really remember what Father was like, if I'm honest. I didn't spend much time around him that I can remember, and after, well, all I was told was the dangers of the Mad King. People often forget that, mad or not, Aerys was my father.
I was so young when Mother, Rhaenys, and I were spirited away to Dragonstone. For our safety, we were told. Who were we being protected from, though? Those who wished my father harm? Or from my father himself? No one ever answered that question, and I don't think anyone had the answer.
The trip was dangerous, and we were ambushed. Mother and I survived thanks to Sir Barristan. I was shoved into a cabinet bellow deck, for my own protection. I was truly lucky that I wasn't found. Rhaenys, however, didn't survive the journey. I remember mother screaming and crying wildly, as my niece died in her arms. There was so much blood, and I saw the life leave Rhaenys' eyes. It still haunts me to this day, and sometimes I think I can still smell the coppery tang of the mixed blood of my mother and my niece. A sight like that leave its mark on a child, one that can't easily be healed. Nightmares set in and have yet to loosen their claws on my dreams.
Some good did come out of the trip, though. My little sister was born at Dragonstone, and I loved her dearly. She was so tiny, and little, and beautiful. Mother told me many a time that it was up to me to protect Daenerys from harm. All I wanted was to be a good brother to Dany, like Rhaegar was to me. I couldn't save Rhaenys, but I would keep my little sister safe. Maybe, if I protected her, Rhaegar wouldn't hate me for not making sure Rhaenys wasn't behind me like she was supposed to be when we hid.
We were at Dragonstone for a year before Mother, Dany, and I were called back. Father was dead, killed by one of his own Kingsguard, and my brother Rhaegar sat on the throne that had cause our family so much grief. I was in awe of him then. He wasn't my older brother in that moment, but the King. Would he be furious with me for not protecting his daughter? I was terrified of him in that moment, but it quickly became apparent that the King was still my older brother, and he still loved me.
I remember when I was given my dragon egg. It was beautiful, all gold and cream. I carried it with me everywhere, waiting for it to hatch. If I had a Dragon I could protect my growing family. I wouldn't have to see anyone else die before their time. I sat and talked to the unmoving egg when nightmares wouldn't let me sleep, which was often. I told it what I was afraid to tell others. It never answered, but I knew it was only a matter of time.
Aegon's egg hatched first, a full two years before my own. I was upset, to be sure. I had to be doing something wrong, but what was it? Talking to the egg still did me no good, though it continued to comfort me. After Dany's egg hatched, a year later, I became furious. Was I doing something wrong? That couldn't be the case! In a fit of rage, I lobbed the egg at a wall, screaming out my rage. The shattering of the shell stopped me cold. I had just broken my best chance at protecting my family, all because I let my anger get the better of me. I was lucky that I hadn't damaged the little Dragon nside. I'm not sure if the little one was ready to hatch that day, or if I had taken the choice from him. I had him, though, finally. All cream, and gold, I had my own dragon. Drax and I would finally be able to start protecting our family.
I was eleven when my knight master was selected. I had half hoped, half dreaded, that Rhaegar would take me under his wing, but the country was in too much disarray for him to train me. I was more than content with my brother's choice, though. Barristan Selmy was my savior as a child, and as I moved into adulthood, he would be my teacher.
Selmy was not an easy teacher, but I learned much under him. I learned how to be a man, and how to wield a sword. I learned how to protect, and how to serve. I spent time with Arthur Dayne, as well, and it is safe to say that I am the man I am today because of my two teachers.
I was knighted at nineteen. It was a bit older than I would have liked, but I would have worked for years longer if it meant that I was taught all I needed to know. I know my family was proud of me, and Drax and I were finally able to do what we were meant to do. We were protectors of the realm, and I would be damned before I let someone else I loved fall. I was twenty two when the King, for he was the King and not my brother Rhaegar in that moment, presented me with a white cloak of a Kings Guard. It was an honor I had never fully considered, and one I was hesitant to take. Would I be able to live up to the standards that my brothers-in-arms had set? In the end, I took the cloak, and the armor, and thanked the King for the honor.
I still sleep very little, even after all these years, and I still find my temper quick to flare. I have tried to master both of these traits, with little luck. My brothers-in-arms say they are proud to have me at their side, but even now, I am still unsure of myself. I have said, since Rhaenys's death, that all I want to do is protect. Rhaegar has given me the chance to do just that. But, what if I fail again? The consequences would be much more dire. On my bad nights, the nights full of fire and blood, I curse Rhaegar for this burden, while I smile and thank him during the daylight hours. For better or worse, this is my path. I just won't fail. That is the only option.
I have plenty of reasons to be the best Kingsguard I can be. My brother and his wife have more children than I would know what to do with. One day, though, it will be Aegon I'll be watching over, and his family. I was jealous of him when I was younger, but now I wouldn't want his fate. Being King is not for me. If he's anything like his father, though, I know he'll be a good and just king.
My nieces and nephews are closer in age to me than Rhaegar, but I didn't spend much time with them when we were young. I was too focused on my training. I see them much more often now that I am member of the Kingsguard, though. It seems, though, that a bastard son of my brother has turned up. This Kairen has been legitimized. Rhaegar seems to trust the younger man, but it's my job to watch for things like this. If the boy means no harm, then he'll be welcomed into our family with open arms.