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January Light Will Consume

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Sonnet LXVI

I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.

I love you only because it's you, the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.

In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.

-Pablo Neruda


All she had was one piece of bread. That was the third thing he’d learned, after the maester assured him that Daenerys was alive and that Varys was chained in the dungeon with Grey Worm guarding his cell.

No little birds would come to free the Master of Whispers.

Tyrion had been the one to sound the alarm. He’d gone to the Chamber of the Painted Table to tell her the truth: that Varys had betrayed her trust, that he was plotting against her. When he arrived, she was already ill: stumbling, pupils wide and unfocused — crumbs scattered around the cold floor.

One piece of bread.

She’d seen him, Tyrion told him, as he entered. Just before she crumpled to the floor. She’d looked at him with her violet eyes, and all she’d said was “please.”

Jon had arrived at Dragonstone just an hour after it happened — it was still morning. He’d been greeted on the beach by an unfamiliar party. Truth be told, he hadn’t thought much about who would receive him. Missandei was gone; Daenerys was grieving. Grey Worm would be distraught.

No, Jon’s concern had been for her mental state. She’d lost so much in so little time — so many of her Dothraki fighters, her Unsullied, Ser Jorah, Rhaegal and now Missandei. He should never have left her alone.

But even through the haze of his thoughts, it seemed clear something was gravely wrong when a Dothraki who didn’t speak a word of the Common Tongue had been sent to retrieve him, rather than Tyrion or Varys.

Instead, he’d been hurried into the castle, the only clue he’d been able to get was a gruff “Khaleesi.”

Jon wasn’t sure he’d ever forget the feeling of seeing Daenerys laying half-dead on the featherbed. She’d lost consciousness just after begging Tyrion to help her, and there’d been little change since.

In truth, she looked like she’d passed — there was no other way to describe it. Her skin was pale, hair messy and loose. There were dark, swollen bags under her eyes and dried tear streaks on her face.

A coma, the young maester said. Essence of Nightshade, an unknown amount of it, mixed with her meals. Daenerys had been so distraught she’d been refusing her food for days.

She had finally succumb to hunger long enough to have one piece of bread.

Tyrion had been holding vigil by her bed, unblinking, when he arrived. The dwarf was pale, too, paler than Jon had ever seen him. His eyes were glassy — lips pressed together, tight and bloodless.

“Is she alive,” Jon managed to choke out.

Tyrion seemed unable to respond.

Seconds passed. Hours. An eternity.

“Dany,” he said, again, a desperate rushing building in his ears. “Is she alive?”

The pressure mounted until Jon’s skull was roaring so loud it could’ve been Drogon himself, a vengeful, painful scream. But finally, the maester had spoken those awful words. A coma. Limbo. She wasn’t dead, but she wasn’t safe.

It all depended on how much poison she’d consumed — that, and her constitution. She could wake at any time. She was in good health. But she hadn’t been eating; her body may be weaker than normal.

He felt like he’d been stabbed all over again. This was worse than anything he’d ever endured — the mother of dragons, a woman who could walk through fire, a woman who was fire, who he loved more than he’d ever loved another person, his kin, reduced to an ember by a piece of bread.

“How,” he spat, then “Who?”

At last, Tyrion seemed to find his words. He was still staring ahead, lost to the world, but his voice seemed remarkably steady.

“Varys,” he said quietly. “He’s in the dungeons. Grey Worm is guarding him.”

Tyrion looked toward him, and there were fat tears welled in his eyes.

“I didn’t know what to do with him.”

An ache pulsed through Jon’s heart — a loud rush in his ears.

“You did the right thing,” he replied. “Her Grace will decide what’s to be done with him when she recovers.”

Tyrion’s head jerked down once — it seemed all he was capable of. Then he resumed watching Daenerys as she lay there unmoving.

“My lord,” said the maester, gently. “There is a chance she may never awaken.”

On the ship to Winterfell, laying tangled together in bed, Daenerys had told him about her childhood in Essos. He told her what it was like growing up with Lady Catelyn, how she’d hated him, and she told him what it was like growing up with Viserys, who abused her. He’d struck her. He’d sold her. Threatened her constantly not to “wake the dragon.”

Back then, Jon hadn’t known what Viserys meant by it — Daenerys was always a dragon. She was never dormant.

He understood now.

The rage he felt was unlike anything before in his life. It was Robb and Talisa, Rickon, Olly with his blade. It was what he’d felt when he’d thought Bran and Arya were dead. It was all of them combined.

“What is your name, maester?” he asked abruptly.

“Pylos, sir.”

“And how long have you been at Dragonstone?”

“I was sent here to assist the late Maester Cressen when Stannis Baratheon lived here,” he replied. 

“You will see to it that she does wake,” he said, and his voice was so cold even Tyrion looked his way. The maester’s eyes were wide.

“M-my lord, there’s no way to be sure how much Essence of Nightshade the queen consumed—”

“Then I expect,” Jon said, “that you’ll have a great deal of work ahead of you, Maester Pylos. Daenerys will be the queen of the Seven Kingdoms in a few short days, and you will see to it that she recovers in time to be crowned.”

He stalked from the room without another word.

He could feel Tyrion’s eyes on him as he left the room.

Wordlessly, he stalked to a nearby chamber — he needed to be alone for a moment. His mind was racing.

How could he have ever thought their relation mattered? He’d been second-guessing himself since the moment Sam had told him who his mother and father were. He’d run from Dany in Winterfell because he couldn’t bare to see her face when she learned the truth.

It hadn’t made a difference at all. His blood still stirred when he saw her, and she’d still hated him for telling her. She’d saved him from the wights anyway. She didn’t leave him behind.

She’d been thrown from Drogon as a payment, toppled to the snow unarmed and left to fend for herself. No training, no combat in her life, and she’d picked up a weapon from the ground to fight.

At the feast, she’d elevated Gendry, restored the house of the man who’d killed her family. A man who’d tried to have her killed when she was pregnant. Anyone in her position would’ve been content to let House Baratheon be lost to the pages of history. She’d given Gendry a name and a castle — a bastard’s dream.

She’d led her people away from safety to fight and die for the living. The northerners had repaid her by leaving her alone in a corner while they praised him for flying the dragon that she birthed.

Still, she came to him and told him she loved him. A queen who hadn’t cared at all that he had no name, who’d loved him for who he was. He’d repaid her by pulling away and brushing off her concerns, thinking her fear unwarranted — her mistrust, unfair.

And now she was barely clinging to life. It had taken less time than he’d have thought possible for Varys to learn the truth of his identity. He wondered if Sansa had waited at all to break her vow, or if she’d gone directly from the godswood to betray him.

Newly resurrected at the Wall, Jon had felt more alone than ever in his life. Then Brienne of Tarth had brought his sister — his cousin — to him; and together, they’d taken back their home. He couldn’t reconcile that girl, who’d apologized so softly for mistreating him, with the woman who looked him in the eye beneath the heart tree and shamelessly lied.

There was no trust left now when he thought of Sansa. Just something broken and cold. Daenerys had been right about what was at stake.

He’d done nothing but fail her since they arrived at Winterfell. He wouldn’t fail her again.

Jon made his way to the dungeons shortly after, feeling ruthlessly determined. The fire of purpose driving each foot forward, distracting him from the fear that threatened to seize him each time he drew breath.

He was going to save her, he was going to win her the Iron Throne and then, when she recovered, he would beg her to forgive him—would tell her, at last, how much he loved her.

Ygritte had died in his arms, but Dany would live.

First though, he needed to see the Spider.

When he arrived in the dungeons, Grey Worm was stiller than a statue. His spine was ramrod straight, lips pursed, spear in hand. His eyes were colder than Jon had ever seen them.

Still, he greeted Jon on arrival.

“Jon Snow,” he said. “Is Daenerys Jelmazmo alive?” His voice was steady, but there was a near imperceptible twitch in his spear hand.

Varys was chained in the cell behind him, morose but unharmed. His eyes turned sharply toward them at the question.

Jon could feel his blood run hotter — the rage refocused him. Varys was hoping to hear that Dany was dead—that his plan had worked.

“She’s alive,” he said bitingly. He tried not to relish the look of shocked disappointment on the Spider’s face. “She’s not awake yet, but she’s alive.”

“Good,” said Grey Worm. His body remained steady and upright, but there was a look of relief in his eyes no man could miss. “This one will guard the cells until she is awake.”

Jon moved around him toward the jail, where Varys still stared. For a moment, his anger overcame him, and he couldn’t think where to begin.

Varys did it for him.

“You think I’m a monster,” he said in his light voice. “But I have done what I must to save the realm.”

“The realm?” Jon asked. “How does it save the realm to kill the woman coming to free them from Cersei Lannister?”

Varys turned more fully toward him, his eyes wide.

“You must see that the queen is deteriorating. She is prone to violence; she doesn’t listen to counsel—”

“And why should she listen to your counsel,” Jon interrupted. “Why should she listen to any of us? She’s done what we asked her over and over, and all she’s gotten is dead allies, dead armies, two dead friends and two dead dragons.”

Varys barely reacted.

“Some mistakes were made, your grace, but she cannot be trusted. She’s paranoid, much like her father. She does not trust her own advisers — King’s Landing does not need to trade one mad queen for another.”

“You poisoned her, Varys. That wasn’t paranoia; she was right. I would execute you here and now for treason, but I won't deny Dany that privilege when she wakes.”

A pause. 

“And I am not ‘your grace’,” Jon said. “Daenerys is the queen.”

“You have the better claim,” Varys said swiftly, an edge of desperation to his voice. He clasped one of his cell bars and leaned closer to look up at Jon. “You could take the throne yourself. The people would rally behind you. A just ruler, at last."

At first glance, the Master of Whispers looked like a shell of his former self. His skin was fleshy and pale. He seemed to quiver. His eyes were watery. But in their depths, there was something sharply calculating.

Undoubtedly, he saw a way out for himself.

“I’m no king,” Jon replied. “Every title that’s ever been given to me, I gave away. And even if I was king, I wouldn’t let you walk out of here.”

Varys gave him an appraising look and sat back, shedding the weakened act like a skin. The Spider, indeed.

“You’ve taken every other title that’s been bestowed to you,” he said drily. “And I’ve already sent the ravens. Once the leaders of the Seven Kingdoms know there’s a male heir to the throne, they won’t want the Mad King’s daughter.”

“I don’t want it,” Jon said, his tone cold. “I don’t know how many times I need to say this, but I don’t want the Iron Throne. It belongs to Daenerys, and I will not take it from her.”

“There may not be a Daenerys Targaryen much longer,” he said dismissively. “Essence of Nightshade is a powerful poison.” 

Jon’s blood surged hotter still than before. He’d had enough of Varys of Lys.

“How much did you use?” Jon asked sharply.

But he now seemed entirely unperturbed.

“Enough,” he said lightly. “But as I said, even if she lives, the lords of Westeros will always prefer a male on the throne.” 

Anger beyond anger — Jon Snow hadn’t wanted someone dead this much since he nearly beat Ramsey Bolton into the underworld. Daenerys had begged him to understand what revealing his identity would do to her claim in this chauvinist country. He hadn’t believed her.

It was apparent now what he needed to do.

“There is no male heir,” Jon said.

Varys looked up at him sharply. He could see Grey Worm’s head tilt in the corner of his eye.

For the first time since he’d learned the truth, Jon understood how Ned Stark, the most honorable man he’d ever known, had lied through his teeth.

“The man who spread that lie was a traitor who poisoned his queen. Rhaegar Targaryen’s only children were killed when Robert Baratheon took the throne, as the realm has known for almost two decades.”

Varys scoffed, but the slightest shade of fear had entered his eyes.  

“No one will believe that. There are others who saw you ride a dragon up north.”

“Rhaegal is dead, and Drogon is bonded with the queen,” Jon said. “No one in King’s Landing will see another ride a dragon without her again. Eventually, it will just be a story.”

At last, Varys’ voice began to strain. “You told your own siblings to their faces — Lady Sansa will never go along with this farce. She sees the truth about Daenerys’ mental state as clearly as I do. How else can you explain that she run to Tyrion so swiftly?”

“I’ll speak with Sansa and Arya. But it’s as you said, Lord Varys. The lords of Westeros trust the word of men. And after all, if it were true, why wouldn’t I take the throne? Who would turn down the chance to be king?”

Varys simply stared.

“Goodbye, Lord Varys. I expect next time I see you will be at your trial.”

Jon turned to Grey Worm, who watched him impassively.

“I’ve been away from the queen’s bedside long enough. I’ll be sure to send a runner with any updates to her condition.”

Grey Worm nodded.

Jon turned to leave — as he reached the door, he heard the Unsullied commander’s voice ring out.

“Jon Snow.”

He turned.

“Missandei always say you were a good man for our queen. She was right.”

There was a sharp, bruising pain in Grey Worm’s voice.

“Thank you,” Jon said thickly. “I’ll try to keep proving her right.”

He left without another word.

By the time Jon made it back to Daenerys’ chambers, he’d worked himself into a frenzy again. What if her condition had deteriorated while he was in the dungeons?

It didn’t help matters, therefore, when he was greeted by a white-faced maester and a goblet-clutching Tyrion on his return.

“What is it?” he asked gruffly.

“The queen is still stable,” Maester Pylos said. “There is no visible improvement, but it’s a good sign that she has not passed at this stage.”

He felt some of the tension seep from his body. “That’s good news… isn’t it?”

The maester paused. “Yes, of course. But the queen’s condition has become rather more complicated, you see. Her Grace is pregnant.”

Time slowed to a full stop.

“Pregnant?” he choked out. “How far along—”

“Several months. She’s only just beginning to show. It appears the babe is alive, but this raises some additional concerns about her recovery,” the maester said.

Jon could barely hear him. Pregnant. She hadn’t believed it possible. He hadn’t been sure himself, despite what he’d said to her. And it was his. He was going to be a father.

He locked eyes with Tyrion, who appeared to be considering something intently.

“Daenerys was quite insistent that she was barren,” Tyrion said. “It makes sense that she wouldn’t have recognized the early signs, but still…”

“Lord Tyrion tells me Her Grace was thrown from her dragon during the battle at Winterfell. And she hasn’t been eating of late,” the maester continued. “It’s shocking the babe is living at all, but this does hasten her need to awaken. We need to get her eating again at once, or there is a high likelihood of miscarriage.”

She couldn’t miscarry. If there was anything Jon was sure of in this world, it’s that waking from a poisoning attempt to learn that she’d been pregnant and lost the child would kill her. It would be too much. Ser Jorah and Missandei and Rhaegal were already worrisome. The loss of a babe would destroy her. And him — he’d never dared to hope for a child, but he could not stand the thought of it not living.

He crossed over to her and lay a hand gently on her stomach. There — it was as the maester said, the slightest of swells in her belly. His entire heart clenched in a vice.

But if the news of her pregnancy had stunned him into silence, it seemed to have spurred Tyrion to action.

“Did you learn anything useful from Lord Varys,” he heard the dwarf ask from behind him.

“Not much,” he responded. “I asked how much poison they used, but all he said was ‘enough.’ He did confirm it was Essence of Nightshade. But Tyrion, we need to discuss something else — he’s sent ravens,” Jon began.

“What we need to discuss right now is the heir to the throne,” Tyrion interrupted.

“That’s what I’m trying to do.”

“No,” said Tyrion. “The queen’s heir. Daenerys is unmarried.”

His brain was full of static, as it had been for the last several minutes. He could hear him speaking, but the weight of the words hadn’t reached him.

Tyrion moved to his side, and he looked down, meeting his eyes at last.

“It would be inappropriate for the heir to the Iron Throne to be born a bastard.”

He felt like he’d been punched — all the wind knocked from him. His child would never be a bastard. That could not happen.

The decision came easily. He didn’t need to think. It had taken him exactly one look at Daenerys’ unconscious body and streaked face for him to realize he could not bare to be away from her. It wasn’t platonic. Her being his aunt meant nothing to him at all.

“I love her, Tyrion,” he said. “and she loves me. When she wakes up, if I have to carry her to a wood myself to be married, I’ll do it.”

“Good,” Tyrion said.

“But first, we need to send ravens to the lords of Westeros, informing them of Lord Varys’ lies.”

He’d accomplished a feat: He’d managed to stump Tyrion Lannister.

“His treachery, you mean?”

“Both. His attack on Her Grace and the lies he’s spreading about my identity.”

Maester Pylos was trying desperately to look uninterested, but he was young. His face was an open book. Jon figured he was as good as anyone for a place to start.

“The Master of Whispers was conspiring to undermine the queen’s position as heir to the Iron Throne. He sent ravens to the other lords claiming I am a long-lost child of Prince Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark. We must correct that lie at once.”

The maester looked scandalized.

Tyrion looked amazed.

“The audacity,” the maester exclaimed, “to question her legitimacy. And from here at Dragonstone, the very seat of her family. You’ll forgive me for saying it, my lord, but you hardly look like a Targaryen.”

“Of course I don’t,” Jon said, bemused. “I look like my father, Ned Stark. It was one of the things that displeased his lady wife the most about me.”

The maester nodded sympathetically.

Tyrion gave an astonished look at the maester before turning toward him. He cleared his throat. “Jon, you realize some parties who believe this may be harder to convince than others.”

“We’ll have that conversation separately, but I’m confident that even the hardest to convince will  eventually realize the truth: Daenerys and our child are the only ones alive who can be called Targaryens.”

Tyrion nodded.

“If the queen is stable enough, can we be excused for a little?” he asked the maester. “I’d like to be alone with her.”

Maester Pylos considered the request for a moment and nodded.

“I’ll be back in half an hour to check her vitals again. If there’s any change, I’ll be just down the hall.”

Jon clapped him on the shoulder.

“Thank you, maester. Until the queen is awake, I think it’s best we keep her pregnancy quiet.”

He nodded and retreated.

Tyrion moved to leave as well, but paused by the door.

“Do you truly think Sansa will help you with this mummer’s game?”

“She’s getting most of what she wants; I’ll be king consort. And she owes me for breaking her vow… Besides, even if she’s not convinced by me, Arya knows what Dany did for the North. And she won’t let Sansa do anything that’ll injure my child.”

Tyrion seemed to consider it for an age before nodding.

“I’ll draft letters to the other lords telling them of Varys’ treason. I’ll leave you to contact your sisters.”

Jon agreed, and Tyrion finally left.

He picked up Daenerys’ hand — it was cold and clammy. He ran his fingers over her mother’s ring.

Alone with her at last, the feelings became overwhelming.

“You’ve got to wake up, Dany,” he muttered. “You’re so close now. We’re going to get married. We’ll take King’s Landing, and our child will be born. But first you’ve got to wake up.”

He sat on the edge of the bed, still holding her hand, and he was struck by the realization that this was how she’d sat when he was recovering from his injuries beyond the Wall.

The deja vu hit him like a cavalry.

He looked up with a rush toward her face, certain that she’d open her eyes — that they’d land on him, and the moment would be complete.

But nothing.

Daenerys remained still, and a small bubble formed in his stomach. It expanded and expanded until he felt hollow and afraid.

He would never love another woman the way he loved her.

When he’d been brought back to life, he’d been cold and tired. Then they’d retaken Winterfell, and he’d thought he’d accomplished his purpose. But he’d still been cold.

Melisandre’s fire god had revived him. Daenerys’ fire had reanimated him.

He sat there with her until Pylos returned. He sat there after.

He sat for hours.

The sun had begun to set before he moved again.

Tyrion had returned with a bowl of broth and a member of the Unsullied.

When the dwarf spoke, it was in his trademark sardonic tone, but there was strain there.

“We have questioned everyone in the kitchens, and we’re confident we’ve determined the culprit. But for obvious reasons, feeding Her Grace will require a bit more care than we’ve shown in the past.”

He turned toward Maester Pylos.

“If a meal has been poisoned, how long will it take for the effects to begin?”

“It depends on the type of poison and the quantity, but it shouldn’t take long.”

Jon realized what was about to happen moments before it did.

Tyrion turned to introduce the Unsullied guard. “This is Red Flea. He has requested he be allowed to try the queen’s food before we serve her anything.”

Jon balked.

“We’re not gambling his life; Dany — the queen would be furious.”

“We don’t have a choice, Jon,” Tyrion said. “We cannot risk her being poisoned again. It was this or the kitchen staff, and I think she would prefer a volunteer to us throwing dice with the lives of the children who work in this castle." 

Jon swallowed tightly. Tyrion was right that the risk was high, but using Red Flea as a guinea pig sounded unequivocally wrong.

“I’ll test her food,” he said.

“Absolutely not,” said Tyrion. “Gods forbid anything goes wrong, I will not be the one to tell Daenerys Targaryen that the father of her child died while she was unconscious.”

Red Flea spoke up.

“This one will test food,” he said in broken Common Tongue. “It is honor to protect the Breaker of Chains.”

Jon looked away.

“My lord,” came Maester Pylos’ voice. “She does need to be fed, or she will never recover.”

He looked at Daenerys again, down toward the tiny slope of her stomach.


Without further ado, Red Flea took three spoonfuls of the broth.

They sat and waited.

When twenty minutes had passed, the maester went and examined him, pulling back his eyelids and timing his pulse.

“Any change to how you feel?” he asked.

“This one feels fine,” he replied.

Jon exhaled a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding.

Pylos took the broth and lifted Daenerys so she was resting upright against her pillows. He called Jon over and together, they managed to hold her straight enough for him to pour the broth down her throat.

The maester pressed on the skin near her throat as they went.

“Stimulating her muscles to swallow,” he clarified.

When at last the bowl was empty, they laid her back against the pillows again.

Tyrion spoke from behind him.

“We should gather the commanders of all our forces and meet. We don’t know how soon Daenerys will wake, and we need to have a strategy in place if she does not before we’re forced to confront my sister.”

“Aye. Gather them here, then,” he said. “I don’t want to be far from the queen in case she wakes.”

Tyrion nodded and left.

Jon turned to Red Flea. “Grey Worm is in the dungeons guarding Lord Varys. Go relieve him until our meeting concludes.”

Red Flea nodded sharply; and in an instant, he was gone as well...

It didn’t take long to assemble the relevant people.

So many had been lost in recent weeks that the meeting was comprised of just him, Tyrion, Ser Davos, the Dothraki commander who had replaced Qhono, and Grey Worm.

They’d brought in a handful of the chess pieces from the Painted Table and arranged them quickly on a small table in the corner of the room.

Jon began.

“The original plan was for Daenerys to ride Drogon down from above — using the sun to hide her approach — and burn Euron Greyjoy’s fleet, clearing the way for Yara and the ironborn to join us. Then she would burn down the gate to King’s Landing, and we’d storm the city.

He adjusted a lion figurine.

“Cersei will be here, in the castle.”

The others looked at each other.

“Obviously that plan relies pretty heavily on the queen being able to ride her dragon,” Ser Davos said, breaking the tense silence.

“Indeed,” said Tyrion. “The ironborn won’t get far with Euron’s ships blocking the way, and if we have to fight our way passed the Golden Company to enter King’s Landing, many will die before we even breach the walls.”

Grey Worm looked toward Tyrion.

“Are there tunnels, like Casterly Rock?” he asked.

“Most likely, but Cersei will have sabotaged them. My sister has already proven that she’s willing to use the wildfire Daenerys’ father once placed beneath the city. I suspect she’ll have hidden more. It would be unwise to get trapped underground.”

Ser Davos spoke up again, turning to Jon.

“The dragon you rode was slain, but if the queen is unconscious, would her other dragon let you ride him?”

“No,” Jon replied swiftly. “Drogon has a rider. He won’t take another while the queen lives. And I’d be a fool to try — he was the most vicious of the three and the closest with her.”

The Dothraki commander spoke haltingly. “Could dragon fly alone? Burn ships without Khaleesi?”

Jon weighed the idea, but Tyrion interjected.

“It’s too risky. Without a rider, he may be brought down. And even if he would listen to Jon without the queen present, we may not be able to stop him afterwards.”

The group fell into a thick silence.

Without Daenerys, they didn’t have Drogon. Without Drogon, there was no real way to take the capital.

“We have to wait for the queen to wake up,” Jon said finally. “We’ll gather all our remaining forces here at Dragonstone for the time being. We’ll send a raven to the new Dornish prince and see if their armies can join us, as well. But there’s no point trying to breach King’s Landing without her, and Tyrion’s right. No one can command Drogon but her.”

A hoarse voice chimed in from behind him.

“I don’t command Drogon, either. A dragon is not a slave.”

He turned rapidly and met her lavender eyes. The strain of speaking had clearly cost her — if anything, she looked sicker awake than she had asleep. But she was alive.

He was distantly aware of motion behind him — the Dothraki commander saying something. Ser Davos, ever the diplomat, assuring her they were thankful she was awake. Grey Worm had stalked around the bed to stand by her side.

Tyrion had stepped forward to her bedside, too.

She kept her gaze on him, and he on her. He could feel his eyes watering.

“I am grateful for all your concern. But I’d like a moment with Jon Snow,” she said, voice soft.

“Your Grace,” Tyrion interjected, “the maester should examine you first.”

“He can do that in a few minutes,” she said dismissively. Tyrion hesitated but nodded.

“I’ll let the maester know you’re awake and that you’ll be ready soon.”

“Don’t go far,” she said to the rest. “We’ll continue this planning meeting soon.”

The others retreated, and then it was just the two of them at last. She seemed to shrink the moment that they were alone, resting back into the pillows.

“What happened?” she asked.

“You were poisoned. By Varys,” he said. “Essence of Nightshade in your food. You didn’t eat much, though… and it was diluted.”

“And where is Lord Varys?” Her eyes were narrowed.

“He’s in the dungeons, guarded by a member of the Unsullied. Grey Worm has been guarding him personally for most of the time. We held off on his trial until you woke up.”

“What if I didn’t wake up,” she asked, and he could hear the current of anger there beneath the exhaustion.

“That was never an option,” he replied. “I’d have done anything to stop that from happening.”

Her eyes softened for a moment, and her hand twitched as though she were going to reach for him. Then, suddenly, something seemed to occur to her.

“Varys wanted to poison me now because he knows he has another option,” she said. “I told you that Sansa would do this if you told her. You betrayed me.” Her voice sounded so broken that he thought it may break him too.

“I would never betray you,” he said. “I made a mistake, Dany. You were right — I shouldn’t have trusted Sansa to stay quiet. But I’m going to fix it.”

“You can’t fix it,” she said.

“I can. Tyrion’s already sent ravens to all the lords that Varys contacted, assuring them that it was a lie invented by a man who’s jailed for treason. We’ve told them the truth, that I really am Ned Stark’s bastard.”

She scoffed. “Ravens from my Hand will mean nothing once your sisters disavow them.”

“They won’t,” he said. He could see her indignant retort forming and cut it off, “I was wrong last time, but I’m sure now.”

He finally moved forward, coming to sit on the bed where he’d held vigil for all those hours. He picked up her hand gently, and she twitched.

It burned him that he’d hurt her this much.

“You know that I love you, right?” he asked quietly.

“Do you still?” she replied tightly. “You’ve barely been able to look at me since you learned the truth.”

“I was a fool,” he said. “The only look I needed was seeing you lay here, thinking you were dead. I love you, and it’s clear now. I can’t be apart from you. I’m yours, Dany.”

He could see the crack in her eyes as they welled up. She twisted her wrist flat to finally twine their fingers together. 

“And I am yours. But that doesn’t explain how you’ll keep Sansa quiet,” she said softly.

He kept hold of her hand in his but reached over to her other side, bringing her other palm to just beneath her chest.

“What are you—” she asked, confusion evident.

He slid her hand down her torso until it reached the hard swell just beneath her abdomen and stilled it there.

He saw the precise moment that she understood. Her eyes widened desperately, fear overwhelming them.

“That’s not possible,” she breathed.

“I told you that witch wasn’t a reliable source of information,” he said with a small smile.

“I’m not — I can’t be.”

She let go of his hand entirely, running both of hers lightly over her stomach, dazed. She seemed afraid to press too hard on any part of it.

After a time, she finally looked back to him, and this time he could tell she believed it. There was hope in her eyes, but genuine fear in her voice.

“What if it dies,” she asked. She looked terrified.

“The maester says you’ve been pregnant for months,” he replied. “Our baby already survived the Long Night and Euron’s attack. It’s not going to die now.”

Her eyes were still fearful.

She was always so strong. So imperious. To see her lost for words was jolting.

“I’m scared, Jon,” she said. “When I was in Meereen, the people loved me. The masters wanted me dead, but the people loved me. I don’t have love here. All I have is fear.”

“I love you,” he said again. “And our child will. And when the war is over, the people will come to see you, too. Let me spend the rest of our lives proving that to you.”

An eternity passed as she searched his face for any hint of deception.


They’d called in the rest of their party to inform them of the impending wedding. Tyrion, who’d known to expect it, still seemed relieved. The others had congratulated them — Grey Worm nodding fervently with a glance at him.

Her reconciliation with him and the news of her pregnancy seemed to invigorate Daenerys in a way she hadn’t been since they returned from the waterfall.

She’d been irritable, as predicted, that one of her men had volunteered to taste-test her food, but a small reminder from Tyrion that she was not only risking her own life had silenced her. They’d agreed to find a long-term solution that didn’t require volunteers to risk their lives, and she’d agreed in the interim that there wasn’t a better solution until they were sure Varys had no one else working with him. 

With that handled, they turned toward more serious matters.

Daenerys was adamant that Varys be tried immediately. The maester was adamant she remain in bed. They’d struck a bargain that no one was wholly content with. Daenerys would briefly greet her armies and then Varys would be brought before her for his trial.

Under no circumstances was she to travel far enough from the castle that Drogon could reasonably carry out the execution — that was the sticking point they were caught on. 

“You were poisoned this morning, Your Grace,” said Maester Pylos.

“I told Varys if he betrayed me, I’d burn him alive,” she said bitingly. “I intend to keep that promise.”

Her Dothraki commander—she’d called him Gorro—took her side, of course. “When Khaleesi burned the great khals, all Dothraki saw her strength,” he said.

Even Grey Worm, normally passive, seemed eager for Varys’ death. He’d been thirsting for revenge since the execution, and it was obvious he’d taken the attack on Daenerys so soon after Missandei’s death personally.

Ser Davos, gods bless him, was a voice of reason. “Your highness,” he said, “if the maester thinks it’s dangerous for the babe for you to go so far, perhaps it’s best to wait on the actual execution.”

Maester Pylos nodded fervently; Tyrion seemed to agree.

“We could try him today and execute him once you’re well enough to leave the castle,” he said.

She practically snarled at the thought. Jon was conflicted — on one hand, he had no interest in her injuring herself to prove a point. But when he’d been brought back by Melisandre, he’d executed those who’d betrayed him almost immediately.

She turned to him, at last.

“Jon?” she asked. “You’re quiet.”

She was eyeing him warily. This, Jon felt sure, was a trap.

“In the North,” he started, “we follow the old ways. The one who passes the sentence swings the sword. He poisoned you, my queen.” She looked at him intently. “The choice is yours.” 

He’d passed.

The decision to defer to her would show any who’d heard The Spider’s whispers that she was in charge.

“Very well,” she said. “He will be tried now, and then I will return here to rest for a little. Jon Snow will assist me in getting down to the beach later on. We will execute him then.”


Daenerys had insisted on walking to the hall unaided. It had been a slow process, slower than she seemed happy to admit.

They’d sent for a young Dothraki woman to help her wash and dress. Calling for a woman who wasn’t Missandei seemed to have struck her anew.

By the time she’d made her way to the throne room, it had been almost two hours — it was now unquestionably nighttime.

The Dothraki and Unsullied who remained were already present in the hall. The Northern fighters as well. When she entered, the Dothraki began to cheer, stamping their feet and raising their arakhs high. The Unsullied stood at attention.

She made her way to the throne swiftly; if Jon had not seen her in pain as she came from her chambers, he’d never have known she was ill at all.

Concern was present, but so was a low hum of amazement.

The things this woman could do.

He took his place on the step below, to her left. Tyrion stood on the other side.

She sat and called out something in Valyrian that he assumed was an order to bring in Varys, because moments later, the main doors to the room were opened, and Varys was dragged in roughly. Chained.

He seemed shocked to see her sitting there so casually.

Jon could hear Dany’s voice, high and pleasant — she sounded almost girlish. But there was an undercurrent of rage just beneath the surface.

“Hello, Lord Varys. Are you surprised to see me?”

Varys looked back and forth once each — to Tyrion’s tight, dark face, to Jon’s impassive one.

He nodded, resigned. 

"I must confess, I am a bit."

“Do you have anything to say in your own defense?” she asked. Her voice had tightened.

Jon couldn’t resist — he twisted his head briefly to look at her. Her fingers were white clutching her armrests. Her eyes were cold and hard. He turned back to face the front.

“I hope I deserve this, truly I do. I hope that I am wrong,” he said.

That seemed to be all he was prepared to say. After a beat, he heard a shuffling noise behind him. Daenerys had risen from her seat and was slowly striding down the steps in front of him toward Varys.

“If ‘I hope that I was wrong’ is your only defense, then this trial is concluded. I, Daenerys of House Targaryen, the first of my name, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons, find you guilty of treason and sentence you to death. You will be executed at dawn.”

Varys’ eyes widened.

But then Daenerys said something rapid in Dothraki, and several of her men sprung to action — taking the Spider out of the hall and back toward his cell.

Jon followed Dany out as she strode from the room without another word.

He’d made the right choice. She had barely made it out of the room before she slumped against the wall from exhaustion. He arrived just in time to steady her. 

She felt small in his arms. But with her skin clean and clear, cheeks rosier than they’d been, hair pristinely braided — he felt himself stir.

“I don’t think you’ll ever stop impressing me,” he said to her in a low voice. “Are you feeling alright? I can carry you, if you’re tired.”

She smiled at him softly. “I’ll manage… but I could use an escort, if you know where I could find one.” 

He offered her his arm, and he had a wild feeling for a moment like he was dreaming. This otherworldly woman still wanted to marry him, after everything he’d cost her. She was giving him a child. And all he’d needed to do, in the end, was be the same man he’d always been.

She was quiet as they made their way back to her room — contemplative.

He didn’t want to interrupt.

It wasn’t until he’d helped her back onto the bed and moved to go for the maester that she spoke, grabbing his wrist to halt him.

“I think I should legitimize you,” she said.

He stared at her.

“Not as a Targaryen,” she continued. “But if you were truly Jon Snow, I’d have made you a Stark before we married… if that’s what you wanted. I’ve already legitimized Gendry. It seems strange that I wouldn’t do the same for the man who’s to be my king, doesn’t it?”

He thought back to childhood. Theon needling him; Sansa ignoring him. Robb insisting they were brothers. His fervent wish to know who his mother was — if she’d loved him. Now, the only thing he wanted was to have never been told her identity.

He knew his mother had loved him until her dying breaths, that it disrespected her memory to feel such things. But gods, how simple it had been before.

He had been caught within his thoughts and realized belatedly he hadn’t responded to her.

“Are you angry with me?” she asked. He knew what she meant.

“No,” he said immediately. “I don’t want the throne. It’s yours. And the only reason to tell people my name is for that. Ned Stark raised me. As far as I’m concerned, he was my father. 

Struck by inspiration, he grabbed a small scroll from the pile of papers on the maester’s supply cart. Swiftly, he jotted down the letter he’d been delaying all afternoon.


The queen has been attacked—poisoned by Lord Varys. Thankfully, Her Grace has recovered, and Lord Varys was just now found guilty at his trial. Among his other crimes was to spread a lie to the lords in Westeros that I am a trueborn Targaryen, in an attempt to undermine the queen. He will be executed at dawn for his treachery. But I also write with some happy news: Daenerys and I are to wed, and she is pregnant with the heir to the Seven Kingdoms. As king consort, my place will be here with my wife and our child. For this reason, Her Grace has decided to formally name you Wardeness of the North. Her signature below shall serve as evidence of this decree.

We hope when our babe is born, you will visit to meet your niece or nephew.

Your brother,


He left space below his name for Daenerys to sign, and before the ink had even dried, thrust it into her hands.

She read silently and looked up at him, mouth agape, when she’d finished.

“Sansa won’t be able to hide the scroll from others’ eyes if she wants to be wardeness of the North. And she can’t contradict anything else in it without jeopardizing her position either."

“What if she decides not to show it to anyone?” she asked.

“Eventually, she’s going to have to explain why I’ve not returned. And why the Northerners learned about my marriage to the queen from someone other than her.”

She stared at him a bit longer before she finally nodded.

She reached out to him softly, touching his chest. Tracing the scar over his heart.

“If she visits when our child is born," she said, "I’m putting her in the smallest room we have.”

She looked up at him softly, and her beauty slapped him in the face, just as it had the day they met and each day since. Jon felt himself break into a grin, and he could contain it no longer. He drew a palm up to her cheek and leaned in to kiss her, an exhaled “Dany” the last sound before their lips connected.

Her lips were softer than he remembered but just as insistent. She leaned into him, mouth opening wider until they were fused together.

He felt her wind a hand into his hair and pull his body closer — he leaned over her, careful not to lay on her stomach.

He could feel his cock twitch inside his trousers. Everything about her made his blood burn.

But before it could get too heated, he pulled back to lay down beside her. She looked horribly put out.

“I don’t think that’s what Maester Pylos and you agreed on when it came to relaxing,” he said with a grin.

He leaned forward once more and pecked her on the lips, before settling behind her, wrapping an arm over her stomach protectively.

She sighed and nestled into his arms. 

“I think it’s a girl,” she said quietly a few minutes later.

“I hope it is,” he replied. He brushed his lips against the back of her shoulder above her dress.

“Now rest,” he said. “We’ve got a long day ahead tomorrow.”

Chapter Text


Sonnet LXVI

I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.

I love you only because it's you, the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.

In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.

-Pablo Neruda



The Spider’s death had been climactic in a rather different way than Jon had anticipated.

Daenerys had woken before the sun — had rolled over in his arms and cupped his face in her small hands. The feeling of her lips pressed against his forehead roused him from sleep; and by the time he opened his eyes, she was smiling.

“I wondered if when I woke up, this would all have been a dream,” she said quietly.

He wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her closer to him, so their bodies were flush against one other.

“I’m not going anywhere, Dany,” he whispered. She met his eyes with her own; they were watery.

She looked a world healthier than she had the night before, the bags beneath her eyes less swollen, cheeks pink.

He watched as she rose from the bed and made her way to the window, resting against the frame to stare into the early morning sky.

Gods, she was beautiful.

Jon lifted himself onto an elbow to watch her, eyes traveling down her form to her stomach, to the small bump he knew rested beneath her nightgown.

His child.

His heart still felt like it would burst at any moment.

Daenerys’ voice broke the silence.

“He has to die by fire. You do know that, right?” she asked, still staring outdoors.

He stiffened.

Her voice was casual, too casual for this conversation. But underneath the words, he could hear a note of trepidation. She was afraid of his response.

He considered her words for a moment. She did need to execute him; there was no question of that. What Varys had done was unequivocally treason.

Burning her enemies alive, though… it was practically asking the people to compare her to her father.

He’d been raised on stories of his uncle and grandfather, as had his siblings — cousins — whatever he should call them now. No, the wolves would not like to hear of another Targaryen with a penchant for fiery executions.

And Tyrion would certainly note the pattern. He’d already made it well-known how he felt about the Tarlys, and they had only just betrayed the Tyrells when Daenerys executed them. The loss of Highgarden so soon after the Sand Snakes and Dorne had been substantial.

Briefly, his thoughts strayed to Sam.  For all his emotion in the crypts — all his insistence that Jon would do different, better — Sam had always acknowledged that his father was a hard, persistent man. Randyll Tarly would never have kneeled. He would have chosen death.

Daenerys was watching him watch her.

She was standing there stoically, and a greedy, ugly thought wound its way into his mind: He was lucky that she was standing there at all.

Had Daenerys eaten just a bit more, she’d be dead now — and their child would be dead, too.

He wouldn’t even have understood the enormity of his loss until their bodies were cold and the news of her pregnancy trickled down from someone — probably Maester Pylos — to Tyrion and then to him.

The dragon returned, larger and stronger in his chest.


Without another word, he drew himself from the featherbed and padded over behind her, wrapping her in his arms — one around her chest and the other resting on her stomach.

“He tried to kill you, Dany,” he said into her ear. “I could’ve lost both of you. There’s only one ending left now for Lord Varys, however it happens.”

She nodded, bringing her hands up to grip his wrists where they laid. Her head tilted back to lay against his chest as he cradled her.

Jon could feel her heartbeat beneath this arm. His beat at the same pace.

They stood like that for several minutes before she pulled away to get ready. He could've had hours, and it would not have been enough.

“Thank you,” she said quietly, just before she left to wash.

In the dark, her eyes looked more gray than purple. Stark eyes framed by Targaryen hair.  A stupid, wild thought formed in his mind that if they had a daughter, she might look like that.

Daenerys dressed rather quickly, but i t was still dark when they left for the beach. It was only then he was certain of the extent of the damage: For all that she looked healthier, she’d needed to stop several times to catch her breath.

By the time they reached their designated meeting place, the first rays of dawn had begun to shine. She was clutching his arm, panting, and seeing her so winded by a simple walk had eliminated whatever vestiges of guilt that he had felt for the Spider’s fate.

At least they’d timed their arrival well.

It was not more than five minutes before her guards appeared. A small retinue of Dothraki and Unsullied escorted a chained Varys before her. Tyrion, ten steps behind the group, came to her side to join them.

He had readily stepped back a few feet behind her as the Dothraki approached, knowing Daenerys would not want to seem too weak to stand in front of them. But the sight of her swaying gently threatened his control.

Jon turned instead to Tyrion to distract himself and felt a small twinge of surprise break through his concern — the Hand of the Queen’s face was drawn and dark.

Tyrion had been the picture of stunned horror yesterday while Dany lay unconscious, but now that she was awake, Jon noted that he seemed less comfortable with what was about to happen.

When Daenerys finally spoke, it was short and simple.

“Lord Varys,” she began, voice strong and clear. “I told you once that if you ever betrayed me, I would burn you alive. Do you recall?”

He inclined his head. Even now, he was calm.

“You did.”

She paused.

There was a ripple of sound, and then a scream rented through the air. Drogon appeared in a moment, never too far from his mother. He still seemed to be growing — his wings cast a shadow.

With a crash, the beast landed steps behind them. The pebbles on the beach shook as he moved his great body forward. Jon could feel the heat of his breath against his back.

He turned his attention back to Daenerys, determined not to swivel his head and see just how close Drogon’s mouth was to his neck.

“You poisoned me,” he heard her say. “You sought to undermine my claim. You have been sentenced to death. Do you have any last words?” Her voice had turned soft and cold.

But even now, Varys showed no remorse.

“I did what I believed was right. The realm needs a measured ruler — not one who lights their enemies aflame.”

Some of her patience had seemed to strain.

“Nor one who poisons those they’ve sworn allegiance to.” She shook her head lightly. “But it’s no matter. I have one last secret for you, Master of Whispers: You will get your heart's desire.”

Varys’ eyebrows furrowed; he tilted his head, perplexed.

Daenerys turned to him, eyes blazing and hard — “Come stand beside me, Jon.”

He didn’t dare disobey.

When he reached her, she settled against him, resting her back gently on his chest as she’d done that morning by the windows. He dropped one hand to her hip, thumb circling gently.

“Jon Snow will be king of the Seven Kingdoms,” she said. “My king.” A pause. “And our child shall reign after.”

She gave Varys just a beat to process the words she’d spoken, and then her chin was tilted up defiantly.


He’d followed her back to the castle in some sort of trance. Her silver hair was blowing in the wind; the early morning sun made her glow like the moon.

He wasn’t sure if the walk back took them minutes or hours — his mind on lower matters.

Dany had never directly called him her king before. He was surprised what it did to his blood. He could feel it pumping inside his ears, could hear it in his chest.

The past 24 hours seemed to have unlocked something in him — some fundamental shift. The Night King was gone. They’d managed to survive. When he’d learned his true identity, that the life he knew had all been built on a lie, it felt like he'd taken another knife to the chest.

And then he’d experienced for less than one minute what it felt like to lose Daenerys Targaryen. It was unthinkable.

Come nightfall, they’d be married. Pledged to each other. Lady Catelyn had never missed an opportunity to remind him that bastards were greedy — that they coveted. Jon may not be a bastard, but he’d been raised one. And right now, he was certain she was right.

A dragon was not a slave, but Daenerys was his.

When they arrived, she led him directly into the hall to break their fast. In his haze, he hadn’t thought twice about it — not until it came time for Red Flea to test her food once again. She clutched his arm so tight that her nails dug grooves in the leather.

The fear doused him in cold water.

This battle was not yet won, and the precise knowledge of how many little birds the Spider had in his employment had died on the beach with him.

He felt guilty anew.

Dany was terrified, and he was acting like a green boy preening over winning a maid’s favor.

They ate quietly. It wasn’t until long after she finished her meal — what she could, at least, with her recovering appetite — until they’d left the hall and were making their way back up the towers that she finally spoke.

“Thank you for being here,” she said softly. “I didn’t want to be alone.”

His heart tightened and swelled.

Maester Aemon’s voice was in his head.

A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing.

“I’ll never leave you alone again.”


Daenerys had called for a war council — to make up, she jested, for her poor attention during the day prior.

It struck Jon that too many of the people here were new to her.

Most of the people who’d known her best were gone now, and in their place were those who meant well without understanding.

That was the only explanation he could come up with for why, when he arrived a few minutes early, he’d found a couple of the northerners, some of the castle staff and Tyrion hastening to set things up in an adjacent room — to spare Dany the discomfort of meeting in a room where she nearly died. He'd eyed Tyrion with a bewildered look; he'd merely shrugged in reply, gesturing toward the others.

It had been foolish. Fierce as she was, she’d taken one look at them and insisted they move back to the Chamber of the Painted Table at once.

By the time they were settled in, it was afternoon. A tense silence lined the table.

No one, Jon thought, wanted to be the one to state the obvious.

Ultimately, Tyrion chose to break the silence.

“As we know, the situation is fraught” he began. “Cersei has invited smallfolk into the Red Keep to use a human shields. We cannot burn her out without burning them.”

Grey Worm interjected. “The Lannisters will be armored. Once we are through the gates, Unsullied can tell them apart easily.”

“That’s if we get through the gates,” Ser Davos said. “Her Grace’s armies are large, but they were on the front lines in Winterfell. Many will die fighting to get by the Golden Company. Without the dragon, we don’t have many options.”

“We don’t have any options,” Daenerys interrupted. “You all discussed it yesterday right in front of me. The Red Keep cannot be taken without Drogon, and I am the only one who can ride him.”

Jon blanched.

Surely not.

For a second there was silence — the others were as speechless as he was.

Then a wave of voices crested as Tyrion, Ser Davos, Jon — even Grey Worm began to argue. Only Gorro seemed confident in this plan.

“You were poisoned yesterday

“Your grace, if a stray arrow—”

“You can’t fly into battle, Daenerys; you can barely walk—”

“Unsullied can take the gate—”

“There must be a better—”

“Enough,” she said. “We don’t have a better choice.”

Jon’s jaw ticked.

“We don’t have a worse choice,” he spat. “Think about what’s at stake, your grace.”

Her face tightened at his words.

“That’s the only thing I’m thinking of,” she said coldly. “If we give Cersei any more time to reinforce the Red Keep, even Drogon won't be enough to get passed those scorpions.”

“Beg pardon, your grace,” Ser Davos interrupted, “but it does us no good to take the Red Keep if you die of exhaustion to do it.”

The monster in his chest roared in agreement.

“You can’t fly in your condition—” Jon started.

“—I’ve flown several times now in my condition, and nothing’s happened. I flew against Viserion and the Night King, and nothing happened. I flew away from Euron Greyjoy, and nothing happened.” she finished.

“And what if one of the scorpion bolts hits you?” Tyrion asked.

She rounded on him swiftly.

“Lord Hand, do you have some idea that you’ve been saving for how we breach the gates without the Golden Company slaughtering most of our remaining men?”

They were still speaking, but Jon couldn’t hear them. His brain had gone fuzzy, the edge of an idea half-formed, curling at its edges like a scroll on a burning log.

Tyrion sounded like he was underwater. Jon could hear him extolling the virtues of Daenerys remaining away from the battle, but it was distorted.

Dodge. Arrow. Slip.

The risk was too high.

A small, traitorous voice countered: He wouldn’t say that if she were not to be his wife, if she were not the mother of his child…

She was probably right — they needed Drogon to burn the scorpions and Euron’s fleet. To bust through the gate.

Fly. Bolt. Fall.

It was far too dangerous. But it was the only way their armies could take the city.

Tyrion and Daenerys were still arguing.

If only they still had Rhaegal, if only Jon could fly in her place.

Burn. Throne. Fire.


“What if I ride with the queen?” he asked suddenly, the words fell from his mouth before he had time to think them through.

But the more he did process them, the more sense they made. The room had fallen silent.

“If I ride with Her Grace on Drogon. She can guide him, and I can guard her back. If an arrow’s coming for her, I’ll take it. Gods forbid we’re grounded, I’ll have Longclaw. And when we’re done burning Euron’s fleet and the gate, I can guard the queen until the battle ends.”

Ser Davos’ voice was dry.

“Yes, a good solution to the problem of endangering one monarch seems to be endangering two.”

“I’m not a monarch,” he insisted. “I bent the knee. My only claim is through the queen.”

“By the time this battle occurs, you two will be wed,” his former Hand reminded him.

He looked up at Dany — her eyes looked strained.  It was clear she hated his idea as much as he hated hers.

He straightened his back and addressed her directly.

“You’re vulnerable if you’re alone. Let me protect you.”

She seemed uncomfortable. The room was quiet as she ran her hand over the table, brushing over it until she reached the lion figurine in the Red Keep. Cersei.

In one swift motion, she knocked the lion over.

“We will keep our original plans,” she said, and his heart dropped into his stomach.

But then she turned her eyes up and looked at him through thick lashes, eyes glittering like jewels.

“But Jon Snow will fly with me.”

He exhaled a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding.

“Once we’ve destroyed the gate, Jon and I will fall back with Drogon while our forces will take the Red Keep. I will remain close to aid our armies if it becomes necessary.”

She turned to Grey Worm.

“I can’t command that we take The Mountain alive; he’s too dangerous to subdue. But if Cersei Lannister survives our siege, you will be the one to execute her,” she said. “For Missandei.”

Grey Worm gave his signature sharp nod, but his eyes had squeezed at the sound of his lover’s name.

He said something in Valyrian that Jon couldn’t quite parse. Dany simply nodded.

“Everyone is dismissed,” she said.

The others shuffled out of the room, but Tyrion remained behind. He looked ill at ease — unwilling to begin speaking.

“Yes, my Lord?” Daenerys asked, an eyebrow raised.

“There is one other contingency,” he began. “I… I believe we should discuss the North.”

Jon felt his own eyebrows lift. Daenerys had turned to steel in an instant, her spine rigid.

“And what do you think we need to discuss about the North?” she said.
Her fist was tight. He recalled her sitting in the corner of the hall alone in Winterfell, and a hot spike of shame tore through him.

Tyrion, however, seemed undeterred by her tone. Jon wasn’t sure if that was brave or foolish.

“Once you have taken King’s Landing, we will have to determine who will oversee each of the Seven Kingdoms. Lady Sansa is, I believe, unlikely to be satisfied by being named wardeness,” he said, looking helplessly toward Jon.

He’d come to the wrong place. Jon was still furious with Sansa. Her calculation. Her betrayal. The manipulation. And he could see Dany watching him from the corner of his eye, could feel the tension in her body from where he stood.

No. He’d told her long ago in the caves beneath their very feet that the North would not accept another Southern ruler, and he’d counted himself among that number when he said it. And then she’d risked her life and lost Viserion to save him. And he’d known, in that moment, as she held his hand on the ship, that he would give her any kingdom.

He’d believed his family — and the rest of the North — would accept her when they saw what she had agreed to do for them, when they saw what the true threat of the Army of the Dead entailed.

And ultimately, most had grown comfortable enough to toast her, despite their mistrust for Targaryens. But those were the men and women who’d fought. Sansa had been in the crypts for the entirety of the battle. She hadn’t seen Daenerys ride down to save him — a white bolt against the starless sky — hadn’t learned that when she was bucked from Drogon, she’d rolled over to pick up a blade, every inch the warrior queen. Sansa hadn’t watched this diminutive woman stare down the Night King and try to burn him. As she waited in the crypts, all she’d seen was an opportunity. And she’d used him to pursue it.

Jon remained silent.

When it was clear he had no plans to agree, Tyrion looked back toward the queen, some measure of defeat already visible in his eyes.

Some of the steel had relaxed from Daenerys’ frame, but her voice was iron.

“I will not grant independence simply because Sansa Stark wants to be a queen,” she said. “I brought my armies and my children to fight for the North, despite the costs. My son died so I could save their king. My bloodriders, my Unsullied, Ser Jorah, died protecting them from an evil they could not protect themselves from. A country that cannot defend itself is not independent.”

Tyrion looked somewhat ill. “If she starts spreading rumors…” he trailed off.

"I'll swear she's wrong," Jon interjected.

"But if she does," he said again.

There was nothing but sincerity in Dany’s face when she looked toward him.

“If it comes to that, then my lord husband will handle it.”

A spike of hot lust ran through him at the sound of her calling him her husband already. There were mere hours left before they were to swear themselves to each other. Objectively, he knew that — had thought about it a thousand times and again. When she’d agreed to marry him, he’d known what it meant.

But still… he was struck again by the fact that this woman, the most beautiful woman in the world, wanted to be his wife.

He nodded, not entirely sure what he was agreeing to.

Tyrion finally left, but Jon still hadn’t moved.

The moment they were alone, she seemed to relax. Her shoulders dropped, and her face softened. For a moment, they just stared at one another.

“Thank you,” she said, “for supporting me on this. And I am sorry. I know what I’m asking of you is cruel — to hide who you are. To push back against what your family wants, and Sansa…”

“I don’t care what Sansa wants,” he said roughly. His voice came out hoarser than he’d expected.

He could hear Daenerys’ voice, a loop of her words playing endlessly in his mind. My husband. My king.

A predator had taken root in him when he’d seen her laying half-gone on that featherbed. It stalked inside his chest now, pacing.

“And your heritage?” she asked softly.

“The only people I need to know already do,” he replied.

She tilted her head gently as she surveyed him. “Then what do you care about?”

“I’ve already told you that I’m yours, Dany,” he replied.

Her eyes were bright, and he’d never felt more certain of anything. How could anyone call this woman mad? How could anyone look at her and see less than the enormity of what she was?

At last, she smiled at him fully, and he realized it was the first true one he’d seen from her since they flew to the waterfalls before the Night King’s arrival.

She moved until she stood just before him. Her lips looked full and pillowy; her chest heaved.

“Then show me,” she said.

His self-control was on a thin tether already. He could see the outline of her curves through her dress, could imagine her breasts in his hands, her uncovered stomach rounding with his child.

The things he wanted to do to her were appalling.

“We’re to be married this evening,” he replied. “Maybe we should wait until then.”

He was surprised when her voice hardened and she took a half-step back. “Is that the truth? You turned me away last night, as well. Perhaps you’re still concerned about our relation,” she said. Daenerys had done her best to sound cold, but she hadn’t masked the look of fear on her face fast enough.

He had her in his arms in one instant and on the table in another. Jon stepped between her legs, pulling her close. He could feel her tits pressed against him. His blood was pumping, rushing south, and he was hard already as he ground against her.

Her pupils were dilated, and she’d arched against him, rotating her hips slowly.

“Does that feel like I’m concerned?” he growled roughly.

“No,” she said breathlessly, and he was mollified that her voice had become thin and high.

His victory was short-lived. His reassurance had been all she needed; and with it, it was clear that Daenerys had moved to mischief. Her fingers ran over the outline of his cock and he hissed, touching their foreheads together.

He could hear rushing in his ears again — blood burning just as strong as it had the day before, but of an entirely different kind.

Yesterday, he’d been driven by anger. Today, she might drive him insane. He wanted to fuck her into the floor.

They fused their lips together in one motion, hands wrapping and squeezing — the sounds she made were unholy. But just as he reached to loosen the tie of her dress, to unveil that incredible chest, she pulled back.

He followed her back with his lips, kissing any part of her face he could still reach.

“Such a tease, your grace,” he mumbled against her jaw. “What have I done to deserve this cruelty?”

She slid down from the table and ran a hand through his hair, leaning in to kiss him sweetly.

“You were right,” she said, once she’d pulled back. He could feel his face burning and was relieved to see that her eyes, at least, were darkened with lust. She seemed barely able to speak. “We’re to be married this evening. You shall take your queen then, once we’re man and wife.”

She left the room steadily, but he remained there long after her exit, the echo of her promise an anchor.

It seemed a bit ridiculous that the last thing standing between Jon and his marriage would be logistics.

Stannis Baratheon had burned Dragonstone’s idols of the Seven long ago, and there was no godswood for them to marry in here on the island.

Daenerys had suggested they have a Dothraki wedding, as it required nothing more than an open sky, but a traditional ceremony lasted the whole day, and neither of them had been willing to push the date back any further.

Tyrion had ultimately been the one to suggest a hybrid — they’d marry beneath the stars with the vows used by the old gods and then host an evening feast — a truncated version of the Dothraki celebration. Daenerys had beamed at her Hand when he offered the idea.

“We’ll marry again before a weirwood when we’ve won,” she said to Jon. Her smile was so wide that Jon couldn’t imagine disagreeing. She’d turned to Gorro and fired off several rapid sentences in Dothraki — he nodded, seeming disgruntled. And then she’d vanished, off to ready herself for the ceremony.

“That was the most pleasant look I’ve gotten from her in months,” the dwarf said to him faintly. Tyrion rattled off a list under his breath of preparations for the evening before he, too, departed, leaving Jon alone.

He’d gotten ready faster than he should’ve. Jon was no pampered lord; in less than an hour, he’d washed and dressed for the evening. It was only then he’d realized the remaining hours would be impossible to bare sitting quietly in his chambers.

So instead, he’d gone looking for Gorro, curious what to expect from a Dothraki feast. He’d found him by the cave where Jon had mined dragonglass so long ago. Gorro had not been indulgent: The vast majority of their conversation was clipped and unhelpful. He’d never known the queen’s bloodrider to be so irritable, a state only heightened by each question asked of him.

Eventually, Jon wrangled the truth from him: “Khaleesi says no death during wedding,” Gorro said in his choppy Common Tongue. “And ceremony begins and ends in hours. She is khaleesi of all khals. Boring wedding.”

Jon stared for a moment, bemused.

Time passed faster than he’d expected, and soon Jon found himself making his way to the grassy cliffs. The night sky was clear and starry.

Tyrion had outdone himself — Daenerys’ people had been decimated, but whoever had set up the feast up had gone to great pains to transform the area. There were cushions laid along in a large square, tables heavy with food and drink. At the top of the square was a raised area for the two of them. And then, closer to the edge where he’d once pet Drogon, an empty space lay where they’d say their vows.

He tried not to muse too much on the fact that it was here at Dragonstone, the ancestral seat of his father’s family, that the last two Targaryens in the world would pledge themselves to each other.

Jon had never expected to marry. He hadn’t dreamed any woman would willingly saddle themselves to a man with no name. But now that it was here, a small part of him wished his family could be there to see it. Arya, Sansa, Bran… Rickon… and Robb.


But there was nothing to be gained in reopening those wounds. Not tonight.

Ser Davos’ arrival shook him from his thoughts — literally — with a clap on the shoulder.

His former Hand led him to the edge of the cliffs to wait, encouraging him with his steady, reassuring, Flea Bottom brogue.

“You’ve done well for yourself, Jon Snow,” he said.

Ser Davos was standing where Ned Stark should have. Or maybe Rhaegar Targaryen, if this were a different world.

He heard a noise in the distance and turned abruptly — it was time.

With nearly all other candidates dead, it had been left to Tyrion to escort Daenerys. When she finally came into view, Jon felt all the breath left in his body leave his lungs. She was always beautiful; but tonight, she was ethereal.

She had dressed in a thin white dress that hugged her body around her chest and hips before spreading wide at the bottom. He could see the outline of her waist through the gown. A black and red cloak lay untied on her shoulders.

She wore just one braid that evening, the rest of her silver hair loose and soft in the starlight.

When she at last reached him, she grinned widely, and his thoughts followed his breath out into the night.

He barely registered Davos’ voice, asking who came before them.

Tyrion had clearly done his level-best to memorize the ceremony: “Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen comes here to be wed. A woman grown, trueborn and noble. She comes to beg the blessing of the Gods. Who comes to claim her?”

Jon stepped forward; all he could see was Dany’s shining eyes.

“Jon Snow of House Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. Who gives her?”

“Tyrion of the House Lannister, the Hand of the Queen.”

His body was buzzing; there was little to go.

“Queen Daenerys, do you take this man?” Davos asked.

All of the universe was contained in her reply.

“I take this man,” she said. His heart nearly burst.

The feast had been the most raucous he’d attended in his memory; the Dothraki cheered and writhed and shouted as they ate. Daenerys seemed entirely unfazed. When he’d finally mentioned quietly that Gorro had told him this would be a dull party, she laughed so loudly that it jolted those nearest to them.

“I forget, sometimes, that you hadn't been with me all those years I was in Essos,” she said. “When I married Khal Drogo, several of his khalasar disemboweled each other.”

He blanched and turned back to his ale.

Jon filed away in the back of his mind that a few of the northerners seemed to grow more comfortable with the Dothraki as the evening went on. Perhaps the key really was just ale and celebrations; men were simple creatures.

When at last it was time for them to leave, he stood to take her hand and help her to her feet.

His wife’s hand.

They made their way back toward the castle. He was still rather shocked by the whole thing. She, on the other hand, was radiant. There was no other word.

The wind blew through her hair again just before they crossed the entryway. Seeing her in white reminded him of her walking through the snow at the waterfall up North. She looked otherworldly.

She was leading him through the halls, his hand still closed in hers.

He could see their relationship play in reverse in his mind’s eye — Daenerys kissing him by the fireplace, him landing Rhaegal after his first flight, Daenerys opening her door on the ship, him saying goodbye on the beach, her staring at him in the caves beneath Dragonstone, skin warm and open in torchlight, him desperately trying not to reach for her.

“Should I be jealous,” she asked from his side.

He blinked. When had they made it back to her rooms?

“Of what?” he asked. There was no real reproach in her voice, just curiosity.

“Of whatever my lord husband is thinking about so intently on his wedding night,” she replied.

He nearly laughed — her. Always her.

“When I was first got your raven, demanding I come to Dragonstone,” he said. She seemed surprised. “My people told me not to come,” he continued. “Most of them thought I was putting myself in danger. Some of them were just worried I’d bend the knee. But a few of them warned me privately not to make a fool of myself when I landed, because Daenerys Targaryen was said to be the most beautiful woman in the world.”

“People always seek to flatter a queen,” she said, and somehow, impossibly, her modesty was genuine.

“Aye,” he said. “And that’s what I expected. Most of the songs about kings and queens are shite. I grew up hearing war stories about my… about Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon, but when Robert came to Winterfell, he was nothing more than a fat drunk.”

She tilted her head, uncertain how to take it. He closed some of the distance between them, one hand sliding around her hips as the other came up to cradle her face.

“Imagine my surprise when I got to Dragonstone and realized there wasn’t a story in the world that could’ve prepared me for you.”

Daenerys sealed their mouths together in an instant, eliminating any remaining space between them. She’d moved so suddenly that her lips nearly swallowed the end of his sentence.

It was far from their first coupling. They’d had nothing but time sailing North. And once he’d gone to her chamber that first night, he couldn’t stay away. But their bodies seemed more attuned now than they had before.

It was remarkable still to him that he’d even considered being apart from her. He could not have gone more than a few weeks before he was sure he’d have been desperate to touch her again.

She broke their kiss to move her lips to his neck — he could feel the sharp twitch of his dick in his trousers.

He smoothed his hands over her body, squeezing her round bottom and running his palms over her hips, back up and around her chest.

She made a girlish noise that sounded too gentle to come from the Dragon Queen. They stumbled to the bed in one uncoordinated movement; she’d managed to get his shirt off somewhere along the way.

In a single-minded rush, Jon moved to unlace her wedding dress. He pulled at the ties roughly, a scandalized exhale and the sound to a tear made him certain he’d torn a piece of the fabric. When at last her tits bounced free from the bodice, the monster in him purred.

Her breasts had swollen; the skin had become more sensitive now that she was with child. The slightest touch of his tongue on her nipples and she was a quivering mess, keening beneath him, whispering something incoherent in Valyrian, but he understood her moans, what she was asking for.

They worked together to remove the rest of her gown and his pants, and without further delay, he spread her pale thighs wide to him. She was already soaked.

“Gods, Dany, look at you,” he said.

Without hesitation, he dropped his head to her core and licked up her folds, tongue running over her nub. It had barely been a minute when she shrieked and pulled him up by his hair.

For a moment, he thought he’d done something wrong. Then he saw the look on her face. She looked completely winded.

“The first time I finish on my wedding night will be around my husband’s cock,” she said, and the open vulgarity of her matter-of-fact words made his vision blur.

She took advantage of his shock, rolling him back against the bed and climbing on top of him, knees straddling him. her hair was coming loose from her braid, a curtain of silver shielding their faces as she leaned down to kiss him.

She was grinding her cunt against him, the wet heat against his pulsing skin was more than he care bare.

He couldn’t wait anymore.

He reached down and moved his throbbing cock into position against her.

She moaned above him as he rubbed the leaking head against her. And then in a swift motion, she slid down onto him, sheathing him fully.

The first time they laid together — all those months ago on the ship — had been tender. Passionate and sweet.

This was feral.

He couldn’t think at all; he was completely consumed by her.

Her cunt burned like molten metal around him. Like prisoners’ cuffs — a fiery vice that he would never escape from.

Somewhere along the way, she had pulled his hair out of its tie, and she was clutching it now in one hand as she rode him. Deliriously, he murmured promises into her neck.

Forever. Forever. More than life. More than anything.

And she was breathing out words, too — their shadows on her exhale.

Mine. Mine. The rest of my days.

He felt like he could come apart at any moment… but he couldn’t let go yet — she’d demanded he finish her while he was inside her, hadn’t she?

Without warning, he flipped them, landing her softly on her back and pulling a leg up to rest on his shoulder as he fucked her.

For a moment, the only sounds were the slapping of their skin and her breathy moans.

Her breasts were jiggling as he pounded into her.

He could see the lift in her belly from this angle, and the cord snapped — he was desperate now to fill her, to see Daenerys Targaryen laying satiated with his seed between her thighs. Reaching forward, he rubbed the area around her nub in circles, and within moments, she was shouting. She clenched herself tight around him as she came, and the world exploded. With two more short thrusts, he was spilling into her. He felt boneless.

Her skin was damp from sweat, hair mussed, cheeks red.

He was the luckiest man in the world.

“I love you,” he said suddenly, struck by a need to be sure she knew.

She simply smiled below him, beautiful and happy.

“And I love you.”

He dropped to her side and pulled her back into his arms as he had just the night before.

They were asleep within minutes, naked and sated.

He’d woken the next morning to find her gone.

Jon hadn’t slept so soundly in months — since before Winterfell, before the Night King. But still, he was surprised he hadn't woken when she slipped from the furs.

The sun had already come up, rays like torches against his eyelids and it shrined through the windows of her chamber. Their chamber.

He had known she planned to rise early. They’d resolved that one way or another, their war with Cersei Lannister would end today.

But he’d still been disappointed to sleep passed her exit, the memory of hours before had left him in a state.

Jon moved quickly, dressing in his leather jerkin and donning his sword faster than usual. He broke his fast in a matter of minutes, a quick bowl thrown back before made his way outdoors where he knew he’d find her.

As predicted, she’d left to visit with Drogon before their day began in earnest.

He could see her from across the grass. She was dressed for battle today — less of the soft silks and fitted fabrics, instead garbed in a gray coat. She had redone all her braids. A Targaryen brooch lay on the chain she wore.

Then Drogon spread his wings, and Jon’s breath caught.

Tyrion had been right all those months ago — you never really got used to fully grown dragons. Rhaegal may have let him ride, but he was a different creature entirely from Daenerys’ fiercest child. And yet, by the time Jon made it out to the cliffs, his wings had refolded. Daenerys was stroking her remaining son’s face like he was nothing more than an overgrown cat.

Drogon eyed him warily as he approached. More than once, he had privately suspected that the dragon did not like him. The one time he’d made the mistake of joking that it was because of his namesake, Daenerys’ rebuke had been so caustic that he’d wound up apologizing. He'd felt properly chastised, but all the same... Drogon still seemed to dislike him.

Daenerys was calm now, though. Too calm for a day of war.

“Tyrion says if they begin ringing the bells, then Cersei’s surrendered,” he said by way of greeting.

She arched an eyebrow at him.

“Is my Hand still trying to make excuses for his sister, then?” she asked.

Jon shrugged apologetically. “I’m just sharing the message.”

"If he's hoping I'll be merciful if she surrenders, he's wrong," she said. "Not after she abandoned us to the Night King and his army. Not after..." she trailed off.


"I don't think he considers an act of mercy very likely, all things considered," Jon said softly.

He could see her beginning to shrink into herself, the weight of her friends' deaths was visible, like one thousand stones on her shoulders, ready to sink her beneath their weight. He stepped up to her swiftly and leaned in to steal a kiss. She melted into it readily.

“Careful,” she whispered as she pulled back. “I hear your new wife is the jealous type,” she said.

He smiled at her, twirling a strand of hair around his finger.

“Aye, but if I ever dissatisfy her, she can always have her son smack me around a bit,” he replied.

He tilted his eyes sideways toward Drogon, who was now eyeing him eagerly.

She let out a gentle laugh and kissed him again. He knew he'd remember the moment until death took him.

“Are you ready, Jon Snow?” she asked. “We have a throne to win.”


Flying in the sun was both blinding and blisteringly hot. Drogon was soaring down toward the Iron fleet in a nearly perfect vertical, and it was all he could do to hold on — one hand clutching a spike for dear life, the other holding onto Daenerys.

But it had worked better than he could have dreamed. The glare had blocked them until they were so low that Jon could register the stunned look on Euron Greyjoy’s face. With a murmured “dracarys” and an exhalation, entire ships were blown apart.

Dany steered them in circles, flying behind one ship to burn a second, pivoting before they could adjust the scorpion again — she moved like it was a dance.

There’d been little to protect her from, ultimately. In what seemed like mere minutes, the bulk of the Iron fleet was no more. Euron had dove into the sea moments before his own ship was torn in half. Jon had considered whether they should look for him.

But Daenerys barely acknowledged it. Without a word, she adjusted course to head toward King’s Landing.

Their scorpions fared no better, though a few bold archers attempted to unseat her. Only one came close; Jon leaned over her body, pushing her closer to Drogon as the arrow whizzed across his shoulder, grazing it.

Drogon seemed to take the attempt on his mother’s life personally — he caught the archer with a large swat of his spiked tail as they rode by, knocking the man clear from his perch to the ground below, dead from the blow long before he hit the earth. With another bolt of fire, the scorpion was gone. They flew around the walls of the entire city, destroying one after an endless other with such decisive skill that he understood truly for the first time how impossible it would have been to take the city without Drogon.

Finally, with one last tremendous blast, they tore through the gate, burning a large line through the Golden Company.

Below, he could see their armies charge forward.

He shouted toward Daenerys that they should fall back now, and to his immense relief, they did — she pulled Drogon in a straight line ahead, flying them back toward the landing spot they’d designated earlier, where they’d be able to survey the battle. They didn’t dare dismount.

In the Red Keep, a burst of green tore up above the walls. Wildfire.

He could see her body stiffen in front of him. He tried not to pay attention to it, determined to keep his focus on their backs and flanks. They'd been pretty certain that Cersei would expect Daenerys to be inside the keep. The odds that she'd sent swords to out to look for the dragon queen seemed slim. But Cersei was mad. It was better to be prepared.

Another burst of wildfire rose up, its sickly lime hue reflecting against the buildings.

“I hate this,” she said. “I should be there fighting alongside them.”

Privately, he hated this, too. Jon was a warrior. A swordsman. He couldn’t remember another time he’d voluntarily stayed off the battlefield during a conflict.

But the numbers simply didn’t add up here.

“There’s not much more you could’ve done without burning the Red Keep to ash,” he said in reply.

She didn't seem to agree, to his chagrin. He tried another tactic.

"We don't know how much wildfire she's placed; Drogon might set it off."

This seemed to register. Finally, she nodded... but she still seemed unsure.

He wasn’t sure how much time had passed when they heard an unmistakable chime.

Her jaw had dropped a tad — eyes shocked. They’d turned to each other simultaneously. He could hear Tyrion’s voice again: The bells mean surrender.

He nodded to her unspoken question — it was time to go back.

The dragon shuddered beneath him as he took off, soaring through the open air toward the Red Keep.

They’d landed on top of a roof. He could feel Daenerys shaking against his chest. Drogon’s body was hot beneath them.

Below he could see Grey Worm standing before a garrison of Lannister soldiers; their blades laid abandoned on the ground. Jon couldn't believe his eyes. Cersei would never order her soldiers to stand down. And yet...

The bells were still ringing.

His brain felt fuzzy. They had won.

Jon leaned in toward her ear, curling a hand around her waist.

“You’re queen now, Dany,” he said. She whipped her head around to him.

There were tears lining her lashes, but her eyes were blazing.

“There should be others here for this,” she said, and he could hear a steady anger in her voice that made him wary again. “Missandei—” her voice broke off.

“Missandei would be proud,” he said. “No one believed this moment would come more than she did.”

"They shouldn't be allowed to surrender," she said, and her voice was harsh. "How many have these soldiers killed in cold blood?"

Bells. Bells. Bells.

"On Cersei's orders," he said. "They're flies in a web, but they surrendered."

She looked toward the ground again and back at him.

At last, she nodded.

She shouted a victory cry to their armies.  Beneath them, the Dothraki were shouting and cheering. The Unsullied slapped their spears into the ground.

He kissed her hard. 

She gave it back just as strong, just as passionate. When she pulled away, she seemed to vibrate. As it settled, a determined look blossomed on her face.

“Let’s go find out if Cersei survived,” she said.

He hadn’t had time to respond before she’d turned back around and Drogon reared, taking flight suddenly with a piercing roar. He could hear some of the smallfolk shouting.

He surveyed the city as they flew to the castle. She’d burned as little as possible — reconstruction would be necessary, but the Red Keep was largely spared. The greatest damage had come from caches of wildfire; but whether Cersei had placed it herself or it had been left from the Mad King was hard to say.

He felt guilty for his wariness minutes ago — she'd watched Missandei be beheaded. She'd been chased by assassins all her life. Was she supposed to now forget all that? How many times had Daenerys said she didn’t want to be queen of the ashes?

He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her shoulder.

Before he knew it, they’d reached the courtyard. Drogon landed hard — the space was barely large enough to accommodate him.

The castle was pristine and silent.

Jon hadn’t mastered the art of climbing off a dragon yet. He squirreled off ungracefully, smacking his feet to the floor just in time to see Daenerys descend as if she was floating.

She moved toward the archway, and he fell into step behind her. Stilling suddenly, she turned and grabbed his wrist.

"You don't walk behind me," she said. "We are going to break the wheel together."

There weren't really any words. At least, not many.

"I love you," he said. "Now and always."

Together, they made their way through the castle, Jon exceedingly wary of what lay just around each corner. But nothing came — it seemed Cersei had sent nearly every soldier she had left to reinforce the city. When they laid down their swords, there'd been no one left to defend the halls. He noted silently that they had not seen The Mountain.

Wherever Cersei was, he was bound to be.

He was shocked, therefore, when they made it to the throne room and didn't find The Mountain at all. Instead, he saw Jaime Lannister sitting on the steps before the Iron Throne with his face buried in his palms. His sword lay tossed away from him, Valyrian steel gleaming though it lay surrounded by red droplets.

He looked up and stood quickly when they entered. Daenerys' face was wide, surprised.

Cersei Lannister’s body was on the ground in front of him.

Jaime kneeled. 

"Your grace."