Chapter 1: PART ONE: DOREAH
He’s here, holding their child - Rhaego - and she feels as if all the air has been dispelled from her body.
He is just as he was. The scar on his eye falls along his cheek and the memory of her lips caressing the dent there floods over her. Her knees weaken and she rushes forward. This must be a dream. A trick. She knows it. Drogo is gone. The sun in her life has been extinguished from her life.
But seeing him here in front of her has lit the flame again. She has not known the sun to shine so bright before.
“Moon of my life.” His voice like a warm leather and fur underneath her naked body. His eyes are open and real.
Love comes in at the eyes and in tears that burn behind them as she presses her forehead to Drogo’s. Her sun and stars is here, waiting before the night lands, for her.
But she was just wandering through the snows beyond the wall and before that the Red Keep.
“This is dark magic.” She closes her eyes and wishes she could think anything else. He feels so real. So warm. “Like that magic that took you from me.”
Out like a doused fire. A spilled candle. The night over taking the day.
“Took you from me before I could even-” Before they could see their child together. Before they stood at the edge of the Narrow Sea to cross together. Before they could spend the rest of their lives together. “Maybe I am dead and I just don’t know it.”
Maybe she died the second she stepped into the house of the Undying. A fitting end for a little girl that believed she could never die. Not by fire at least.
“Maybe I am with you in the Night Lands.” She whispers. His lips are so close to hers now but she knows if she kisses him then she may very well die.
Drogo bounces their baby boy in his strong arms though she longs to feel them around her instead. “Or maybe I refused to enter the Night Lands without you.” He rumbles in his deep voice. “Maybe I told the Great Stallion to go fuck himself and came back here to wait for you.”
To wait for her on the edge of the known earth. Beyond the Wall.
Daenerys shudders out a breath with a smile. “That sounds like something you would do.” She cannot let the smile that comes over her leave. Especially not when her son, their son, reaches out and grabs her with his chubby fingers. Her chest swells in pride at the grip he has.
“Or maybe it is a dream.” Drogo continues. His eyes start to focus just on her face. He stops bouncing Rhaego as much and her own body feels heavy once again. “Your dream, my dream. I do not know. These are questions for wise men with skinny arms.”
She does not know. She cannot know anything other than this. This is how it always should have been. This is what she could have had if not for her own foolishness. Because she trusted in the magic of someone other than herself.
“You are the moon of my life. That is all I know and all I need to know.” Drogo pushes his head against hers to hammer this home. “And if this is all a dream, I will kill the man who tries to wake me.”
Daenerys recoils as if his touch burns her. He is the only fire she has never been able to sate. She is blind here. She is blind and this is the magic that took him from her. The truth is no longer in his eyes. Those are no longer his eyes but that of the Undying.
His skin dulls and his eyes unfocus.
And she cries silently. “Until the sun rises in the west, and sets in the east. Until the rivers run dry and the mountains blow in the wind like leaves,”
Until then this cannot be.
The crying echoes from afar and she must go to them, to her dragons and the people that Drogo left behind in death, because she cannot reside here until the end of time when her time has yet to come.
Her knees unbend. Her eyes do not open until they see only the outskirts of the tent and not the confusion on Drogo’s face. She does not hear anything other than the call of her children.
She does not say goodbye.
It is not that she loves too little but that her love is for too few.
She is shaken as she steps into the chambers of the Undying and her children save her from capture. She is angered as she flees from the tower unable to burn it to the ground just yet. She is taken by dark thoughts and the ghost of Drogo as she runs through Qarth towards the home of Xaro Xhoan Daxos.
Her dragons curl and crow over her body. They nip at her arms and her neck. She feels it all stinging at her but nothing can shake off the feeling of Drogo on her brow.
Nothing, she thinks, until she sees Doreah resting on the other side of Xaro Xhoan Daxos’s bed. Covered in his white sheets but not his comforting arm. Sleeping peacefully after crawling into his bed of free will.
It’s in that moment she knows the betrayal.
It’s in that moment, before she rips the key to Xaro’s vault from around his neck, as she hovers her hand over the exposed part of Doreah’s neck and wills herself to seize her handmaiden until the breath disappears from her body; that she realizes that her love is eventually going to kill everyone.
She was made to be alone.
Daenerys Targaryen was forged in a storm and that storm has followed her throughout her life. Destroying everything in her path, all those she touches and all those who she will come up against.
She can’t take Doreah’s life. Out of the small pain that comes with trusting and loving her. Out of need to keep something from her life with Drogo. Out of pity. Out of love.
She will spare her.
Jorah wakes them and everything changes.
“Khaleesi,” Doreah freezes and covers herself, like Daenerys has not seen her in this state, like she did not expect to be found. “Khaleesi please,”
She cradles her dragons and watches how Doreah is immediately drawn to them, to her, like a moth to the flame. “He said you would never leave Qarth alive.”
She doesn’t doubt that. She doesn’t doubt that Xaro would have murdered her soon after securing her dragon’s entrance into maturity. She just never thought that someone so close to her would think that she could solve everything.
She never thought that Doreah would betray her like this.
“Come.” She commands.
And they are dragged from the bed. Doreah grows silent and Xaro is taken by three of her dothraki guard to hold him. He denies nothing and Daenerys says nothing about the sobbing she hears coming from Doreah. This is not the time to feel for the weak hearted, nor the time for anything but judgement.
Jorah keeps Doreah at her back and she feels Drogon screech for her. He recognises this girl and wants to go to her. Even though she was the one who turned him over. Not that she will ask for this truth.
Daenerys doesn’t know what she might do if Doreah actually admits it.
The vault of Xaro Xhoan Daxos lies beneath his home. The large door is as imposing as it was but not as mysterious. She holds the key in her hands and trembles with the thought of what lies behind. Gold, silver, jewels maybe. Enough to buy her a fleet, an army and a way out of Qarth with her dragons to safety.
Xaro says nothing as they key turns and Daenerys holds onto her torch tighter as the door is pulled open from the sides.
But the storm hits again and sweeps everything that could go right for her away.
Xaro’s fortune is a lie. The vault is hollow and empty and her light pierces only half of it. He is a fraud and a fool.
And she has been toyed with enough.
“Thank you, Xaro Xhoan Daxos. Thank you for teaching me this lesson.” She looks to him and only him even though her torch light shines upon Doreah’s tear stricken face. It is his defiant and contorted expression she directs her words towards.
It is this face that she gestures to be taken alone by her Dothraki guard into the dark and inescapable vault. His screams are not as satisfying as that of Miri Maaz Duur. His fight does not leave either. She can hear his fists pounding against the door of the vault as they close it. Sealing his air and his fate.
He will die in there for taking her dragons and for his falsehood. He marks the first of the lives she will take willingly. And he will not be the last.
Jorah takes the key and waits for further instructions. He is her most trusted. Her closest now. He would never betray her.
Yet she cannot even bring herself to think this. Not when evidence against this stands, with a dothraki fist clenched in her hair to keep her from running, before her crying and scared.
“Khaleesi,” She whimpers.
No. She does not get to beg for her life when Daenerys is about to spare it. No.
She flings the torch from her hands to Doreah’s feet, watching as the woman flinches and tries to move back. Unlike Xaro there is no fight. She is too well trained for that. Doreah waits for it. She can see it behind Daenerys’ eyes, the fire and the blood, even before Daenerys has her gasping for air against the stone wall of Xaro’s former home.
“Nothing. You will say nothing!” Dany screams. “You do not speak to me!” She pushes her forearm against Doreah’s windpipe more. The woman’s choking sounds play a symphony to her.
“I don’t want to know why you did it.” She utters lowly and with contempt. “I do not want to know how or when you decided and I do not ever want to hear you speak a word of any of this ever again.” Her brother would follow through with these words. A crueler khal would take her tongue. A sadistic Khaleesi would sow her lips together and leave her to starve. She has no need or time for those methods.
Doreah could close her eyes and try to block it out but she doesn’t. She listens to Dany’s words and even against the pressure on her neck she attempts to nod.
“I will not lock you up in there with him because that is not the death I wish to give to you.” Doreah’s eyes widen. “I do not wish death upon you because death is too easily given and not what you will suffer from this.”
Doreah will not join Drogo. She will not be the first to see her husband and her son. Dany will not allow their space before the Night Lands to be tainted by this.
She releases Doreah and she falls to her knees. But she says nothing to her Khaleesi.
Dany steps back before she ends up apologising. She can’t go there. She can’t let her emotions get the best of her now. She will not think of the stories Doreah told or the times they shared. She will do nothing but leave her with a promise and a threat.
“You will not follow me. You will not search for me. You will not serve me ever again or in any other lifetime.” Daenerys vows. “I will not hesitate to let you suffer Xaro’s fate if you do not heed my warning.”
Doreah doesn’t speak but her eyes do.
They do not ask why, nor do they plead for anything else.
They thank her.
“And you will suffer.”
The words lick at Doreah like a flame and she crumpled once more as Dany turns from her. She does not need to chain her to a wall or bind her in a cage. She knows Doreah will not follow them from the tomb and into the house of Xaro Xhoan Daxos. She will not emerge until days after they have left. After all the fake jewels and gold are found and the house is looted and bare. She will starve for days until she knows Dany no longer lingers there. She will not follow.
Because it is not capture that will make her suffer the most, Dany thinks as her dragons settle in her arms and as she places the key aside once more;
It is freedom.
PART ONE: DOREAH
She wakes up with the mark on her arm fading and the red paint bleeding in pieces down her bicep. The dragon that was layered there, once lined and striking and strong by her Khaleesi’s hand, is peeling away. The last thing her Khaleesi ever did for her, other than sparing her life, is fading as she shelters in against the walls of Qarth.
The only thing that fills her head since escaping the city of Qarth is the look Daenerys gave her as she strangled her before sparing her life. She spared her life and she has the bruises to prove it.
It was more than she deserved. A crueler Khaleesi would have slit her throat there. A crueler Daenerys would have set her dragons on her. Doreah has seen a lot of things in her nineteen years but Daenerys Stormborn is the only woman she has met that can withstand fire.
Instead she gave Doreah her life and her freedom and left without a trace. Nothing was spared from Xaro Xhoan Daxos’ home. The Dothraki took everything. Stripped the walls and the floors for anything that could be traded and exchanged. If she weren’t so hungry and lightheaded from hiding beneath the floors she would have been surprised by the sudden change of heart her Khale-
Doreah lurches in the sand as her stomach heaves. Disgust fills her as she coughs up water into the sand. She has no right to call Daenerys anything anymore. She has no Khaleesi. No Khalasar. No home or family. She has nothing. She is nothing.
All she will be is suffering until death unless she can make her way away from Qarth. The greatest city that ever was and ever will be has destroyed her. Where does she go from here? To Vaes Dothrak and hope that another Khalasar will take her? Back into slavery and hope that she isn’t killed by the first man she is given to? Or back through the wastelands to Pentos to try and find a new purpose?
No matter what or where she needs to move. All she has is what she holds in a small cloth bag. A skin of water and meat that will not last her long. Yet she doesn’t move, she heaves and cries because she has never felt more free since she was nine years old, and it feels like her chest is caving in on herself.
‘I would do anything to see a dragon.’
A single selfish thought, that she once held so close to her chest, was exploited and now she’s wandering through dunes towards Westeros without the protection of a Khaleesi who has banished her or a Khalasar to house her.
She lies in the sand outside the walls of Qarth as she once lay beside Dany and Irri. Wishing never to leave out of some childish hope that maybe Daenerys will forgive her or give her a chance to explain.
‘That is a hopeless thought.’ She thinks pushing herself up on her hands. The sand burns her palm and sticks to her skin. Daenerys will not come for her. She will leave her here to suffer because she knows that will kill her faster.
Anger never emerges. Maybe if she were someone else it would. The bitterness might come easier if she were anyone else but she can’t bring herself to hate or even curse her for this banishment, for not letting her explain before she tossed her aside, for letting her in so deep and then tearing her out.
She can’t draw on these bitter feelings because she is too busy mourning the loss of her friend. Trying not to drag up memories of their time together. Forgetting as much as she can so that she won’t wake up somewhere with the feeling of Dany on her palms or a smile on her lips.
She needs to wake up somewhere else.
Doreah forces herself to her feet, stumbling against the wall, as she steadies herself. Qarth is not impenetrable. She slips past one of the southern gates again, the way she came out, and runs as well as she can muster towards the stables of the nearest house. It is grand enough and the number marking the door tells her that it belongs to one of the thirteen.
It is empty and the house servants have abandoned it, like many of the houses in Qarth, once they heard of the Merchant King’s deception. It occurs to her that she could ransack the house for more supplies, which she does; taking small amounts of food and coin that will fuel her journey, before storming the stables.
There stands a lone stallion. It rears in surprise when she flings the door open and scuffs his hooves on the stone floor. His suspicions and restlessness come as if he knows what she has done. She raises her hands as she approaches him though it hurts to do so, having eaten too little and breathing too shallowly, and he settles when she does not draw harm against him.
The saddle is not too far from the beast and though she is weaker than she looks she manages to saddle him. The struggle comes in trying to mount him.
She is free but her mind still feels like a slave. Even in as a handmaiden to Daenerys she did not ride. The Khalasar did not gift a horse to her or Irri. They walked and rode in carts.
“Come on.” She wills herself. “You have to. You have to.”
She is more Dothraki than Lyse. She lived with the Khalasar since her thirteenth name day, she worshipped their gods, slept with their men and women, obeyed her Khal and her Khaleesi and she stands here shaking at the thought of being able to ride a horse out of here.
Doreah jumps against the horse as a voice from the door yells.
No. Doreah growls and latches onto the saddle. There is no way she’s going to be murdered as a thief after being spared for something much worse.
The lone servant continues to scream at her as she goes against everything telling her not to and swings herself up and over the horse. From atop him she sees so much clearer and he rises up kicking the air before she pulls on his reigns and he bolts.
The wind takes them and knocks the servant down. Hooves attack Qarth’s ancient stones as she escapes the house and then the gates of the city.
A blue horizon opens for her as he takes her over the sand.
Now she understands it. Now she understands the air of superiority the dothraki wear on their horses. They tower above the common men because they wield two hearts instead of one, two bodies, two minds. Doreah gasps as the horse takes her over the planes like he’s never run before. He runs as if this is the first time he has felt the sand or seen the sky.
This is how she would run if she could.
Where she would fall, he does not falter. They ride for days. Stopping to search for water and food. Doreah passes many places she remembers settling with the Khalasar, abandoned tents and even the rotting corpse of Rakharo’s horse. She does not find Daenerys’ Silver.
All she finds is sand and more sand. At night she tries to build fires to keep warm and to hide from passing tribes. She names her horse Bronze and they defeat the Red Waste and reach sanctuary in Lhazareen, the village that Khal Drogo once plundered that has built itself once more from the waste. It will no doubt be taken soon again by another Khalasar. They keep their heads down and find a place to stay but the long months ride does not fare well for him and two nights later he passes into the Night Lands.
Doreah sells his body to a family for less than she could have got it from a trader but she doesn’t need that kind of attention. She sticks to the common tongue and tells no one of her dothraki alliances. It would soon get her killed if those who settled there knew of her relation to Khal Drogo.
Even taking these precautions makes it hard to stop people from staring at her. They look at her skin and her clothes and they begin to guess. It becomes clear she will not be able to stay here for long.
“Is there any traders making route to Meereen?” There is a market in the center of the village that she lingers around. She asks for traders in the market daily, and catches sleep in doorways away from as many people as possible . The men who leered at her on the first day have started to shirk away from her questions and try to avoid her. She told them straight out that she will not lie with them in exchange for safe passage, and soon their offers start to dry up, as do the money she has.
All she has left is luck when her food runs out and she weakly wanders around the market from stall to stall. Many turn her away because they recognise her, others listen to her before moving her along.
“Are there any traders on route to Meereen?” Shaking heads and avoiding eyes. Doreah has not drank all day and her voice is getting thinner as she calls out. She won’t be able to do this for much longer. Two weeks and she is failing already. She should have chanced being captured by another Khalasar in the Dothraki Grasses.
“What business do you have in Meereen?” A blacksmith calls to her. He stands with his hammer paused in the air. Doreah has passed him a few times this very morning but each time he ignored her call. She must look a desperate sight for him to finally speak up now. “There are no whore houses there.”
Doreah’s spine ripples with his implication. Even after years of being taken by the Dothraki it is impossible to shake the reputation that follows her looks. A young girl from Lys, what other business would she have anywhere?
“I am traveling.” She answers politely. His stare isn’t on her body though when she faces him. A surprise. “I have no business in Meereen other than my own pleasure.” She pointedly states.
He spears the coals of his pit as she tells him this. He forges horseshoes not swords and it calms her. One less weapon in the world that could be used against her.
“Are you looking to settle in Meereen?” He drags a rag from his belt and wipes off his hands, leaving the horseshoes to heat in the coal.
“Where are you headed?”
“To the shores of the free cities. Pentos. Braavos. Anywhere I can find that looks over the Narrow Sea.” She needs to smell something cool in the air and not the sand of the Red Waste.
He contemplates her answer with silence and takes a look at her. She’s ready to object to what he will no doubt offer when he surprises her completely.
“My family and I set out for Bhonash in three days.” He tells her. “It is a long journey but if you do not seek Meereen we may be able to accommodate you.”
Her relief is temporary. “I have no money.”
“I can tell.” He laughs and under the soot in his beard she can see his smile. “But I have three unruly children who I cannot watch on the road and a wife who is too fat to chase them.”
Doreah breathes out and smiles. A break. This is almost too good to be true. “I am Doreah of Lys.” She tells him now, where once she would have smirked and told him she was Doreah, sworn handmaiden to Daenerys Targaryen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea.
“Well Doreah of Lys,” He opens his arms and gestures to his small blacksmith shop. “I am Mason of Astapor. We both appear to be very far from home.”
Doreah nods and follows the blacksmith into his shop.
‘You have no idea.’
“You’re crying.” Mason’s wife, Oda, is not fat but pregnant with their fourth child. She bats Doreah’s hands from her face and wiped at her tears.
“I am?” Another dream of a different outcome. “I’m sorry, I should-” The sun is already towering in the sky and she can hear Mason’s children laughing outside the cart. “I should be out there.”
This family have been so good to her since Mason brought her home and introduced her to his family. They agreed that looking after their children was payment enough for safe passage to Bhonash and a share in their food. They even loaned her a raven to send word to Westeros. Except she sent no word, other than a raven back to Qarth, which she knows she shouldn’t have. She has worked to keep the children, two boys; Troy and Aaron and a girl, Ana, out of trouble. She tells them stories until they are tired and sated, leads them along the road when they are too restless to ride in the cart and overall keeps them out of their mother’s weary arms.
“You sit back down Dorah of Lys.” Oda pulls on her hand and traps her from leaving. “My children will be fine for a minute while you tell me what it is that is making you cry.”
They are a week into their journey to Bhonash. She has kept her word to Mason and his wife and keeps their children under reign as they travel. Making sure that they do not wander too far away from the family’s cart and keeping them entertained. She has the energy to keep up with them were their parents do not. They have all taken a liking to her and she to them.
She does so with a heavy heart. Not just because Ana will never face the same fate that she did, her family is loving and wealthy enough not to need to sell her to a pleasure house, or that they know a freedom that she cannot wear as well as they do. But because each day takes her further and further away from Qarth and Daenerys.
Oda sees her subtle sadness and sighs. “This land is a vast one. Whatever you are running from will get lost on the road behind us.”
“I do not wish her to be lost.” Doreah whispers. “I wish I was with her to help her on her journey.”
She hasn’t spoken Daenerys’ name in weeks. The fear of her somehow knowing and coming to seek vengeance on her for doing so doesn’t leave her as easily as being able to get on a horse.
Oda keeps quiet. She knows that Doreah isn’t as quiet as she attempts to be. Her face is too young and too bright around her children to wear this darkness.
“I was bound to serve a woman.” She can’t reveal why, or who, or even utter anything of her Dothraki nature to Oda, whom she knows holds a hatred of the Horse Lords. “We became close. Friends.”
They were so much more than that. She was the Khaleesi’s closest handmaiden. She was the support when her Khal was taken from her. She was her friend and she loved her.
“I betrayed her trust. I thought it was to protect her but I should have known,” Doreah wipes at her own tears and smiles bitterly. “She did not need my protection.”
Not Daenerys Targaryen of the Storm, mother to dragons, Khaleesi of the Grass Lands and future queen of Westeros. She almost laughs at herself, how could she - a slave of the Dothraki - ever hope to protect Daenerys Stormborn?
“And she asked you to leave?”
“She did not ask.” Doreah states. “She commanded me.”
Oda frowns. “She does not sound like much of a friend.”
Doreah closes her eyes and catches glimpses of fire underneath them. “No, she is but she cannot afford to trust many people. There are a lot of people who would die to be where I was, by her side.”
There are many people who would kill her to be in a position to slay the mother of dragons, King’s offer land and lordship for the very act, but that is a tale she can’t tell Oda. Oh the stories she could tell though. Her way with words was always a joy to Daenerys. She could weave tales of Daenerys’ entrance into the Khalasar. The story of her wedding to Khal Drogo and of the great feasts they had for days in her honour. There is no doubt she would terrify Oda’s children with her retelling of the fury of Viserys Targaryen, the cart king, and how he was presented with a golden crown that would indeed cause terror throughout the free worlds. Doreah could bring even the strongest men to their knees in anticipation with their journey through the Dothraki sea, to Drogo’s death and Daenerys taking the helm.
There would be no one in all the Kingdoms that would not hear her words of how Daenerys Targaryen walked into fire and gave birth to dragons. They would tremble and loyal men would call for their rightful Queen.
“She is a great woman.” Doreah utters as she comes to her revelation. “And she still has a long way to go.”
Oda nods but does not seem satisfied. “We are three days from Bhonash. Our time together has almost ended.” Doreah takes Oda’s hand when she offers it. “Wherever you go from there, you will always be welcome to come back.”
“Thank you.” Doreah stifles back a sob. “Your kindness is too much.”
Oda shakes her head. “No. Our kindness is less than you deserve.”
Doreah disagrees silently and takes herself from the cart. She stumbles slightly on the ground as the cart doesn’t stop for her. Troy and Ana run alongside their father’s horse, laughing at the noises it makes. They go towards a new life in Bhonash while she is forced from the only life she knows how to live.
Except now, she may just have a purpose for this journey away from her, a story to tell and share with all of the lands.
Oda pulls back the drapes on the cart. “What was your mistress’ name Doreah?”
The world will know that fire is brewing. And the fire will start with her words.
“Daenerys.” Doreah tells her. “Daenerys Stormborn.”
Three days travel takes them into Bhonash. It is a vast city on the shore of the Black Cliffs and it mostly in ruins. Doreah can’t understand why Mason and Oda have chosen here to settle until they enlighten her on the amount of Dothraki threats they have faced in the last few months in Lhazereen.
“They are too strong to fight off.” Oda shakes her head. “They come too quick and too frequently and we were lucky to escape the last one.”
Doreah stops herself from asking just who initiated the last raid for fear of hearing Khal Drogo’s name.
“Bhonash may be in ruins but it is a strong city and the Dothraki do not tread here.” Oda says. Doreah knows the reason they are safer here is because they reside so close to the sea. No Khal has ever crossed the poison water. No Khal came as close to doing so before Khal Drogo.
When she lays to sleep for the last night, after helping Mason move their family into the small house they have found for themselves, she wonders if it was Khal Drogo’s vow to cross the poison sea that led to his death.
‘That was always the plan.’ She thinks. That was the reason Viserys Targaryen sold his sister to be wedded to Khal Drogo. It is the reason he paid her to teach his sister to make the Khal happy and to please him. It was why they traveled together because Viserys wanted an army to take back the seven kingdoms with and on his death that dream was passed to Daenerys. The Iron Throne and the dynasty of the Targaryen’s was placed upon her shoulders.
It’s something she keeps wondering over the next few days as Mason negotiates with a shipbuilder in the bay who offers her passage to Valyria if she helps in the kitchens on deck. She’s not a wonder at cooking but she’s prepared meals on less stock than what they offer so she accepts. From Valyria, the ship master tells her she will be able to find a boat for Lys.
What would have happened to her if she hadn’t betrayed Daenerys? She would have followed her to the Seven Kingdoms and then what? Stayed as her handmaiden as she ruled? Or would she have been free in the city?
Doreah boards the ship for Valyria and waves goodbye to Oda, Mason and their children. Over the next two weeks she cuts meat and boils broths for the sailors who steer them to the old home of the Targaryens.
The cook asks her why she looks so thrilled when they catch the first glimpse of land. Doreah shrugs because she can’t explain her excitement.
Valyria was once a great civilisation, the first home of the dragons, whose power extended across the vast Free Cities and even to Dragonstone in Westeros. They never sought to engage war against the Seven Kingdoms until its destruction by a volcano. The power of it wiped out most of the land as well as the majority of dragons.
Suddenly Daenerys’ voice is in her ear, touching at her elbows, as she looks over Doreah’s shoulder to the smoking lands of her ancestor’s homeland. “My family was the only family to make it out of Valyria alive. We survived on Dragonstone and when we were ready, took our dragons to Westeros where my ancestor, Aegon Targaryen, the first of his name, forged the seven kingdoms together.”
Doreah closes her eyes. She can’t keep hold of Daenerys’ voice so clearly if she’s looking at Valyria and she needs to listen to her.
“He took the kingdoms with his dragons,” Daenerys whispers in awe and Doreah knows that she soon hopes to follow in his footsteps. “What were their names? You know them.”
There is no one around her as she speaks aloud. “Vhagar; whose fire was so hot it burned men alive in their armor. Meraxes; who could swallow a whole horse in one mouthful, and Balerion the Black Dread” She imagines Daenerys’ eyes glimmering with pride as she lists them effortlessly. “Which Aegon rode himself and between them they slayed over four thousand men.”
“You remember.” Daenerys smiles.
In her memories she feels lips brush against her cheek where only the wind whips at her face now. Valyria is closer when she opens her eyes. “How could I forget?”
She doesn’t stay there for much longer when the captain bustles out and shoos her back under deck. The cook tuts at her paleness and tells her not to be sick anywhere near the food. Doreah doesn’t have the heart to tell her that her sickness is not from the sea but from her heart.
The port of Valyria is now used as a trader’s nest. Ships take port there to replenish their stores, repair and take on new passengers. The rest of the land is too blackened and dead for anything else. Few people stay there, for fear of it being cursed, but many take the time to wander around the ruins. When they land that’s just what she does.
Doreah bargains safe passage to Lys on a small merchant boat that asks her to her unload when they get there and nothing more. They sail at dusk when the winds will fare them better so she walks out of the harbour and on to the blackened roads.
She covers her mouth when she tastes ash in the air and marvels at how even centuries after the Doom hit this place that it has yet to recover. No grass grows and no birds fly over the place. Doreah walks and walks until she can start to hear Daenerys’ voice in her head again. Commenting on the land and enlightening her of its history.
“A cataclysm split this land in two.” In her mind Daenerys walks beside her as she points things out. Doreah finds it hard to hold on to this image because she has rarely walked beside Daenerys. “It is what created the Smoking Sea, it is why no one lives here anymore. They believe that it is still haunted by the Doom.”
They walk together until Doreah feels her body start to tire and deep holes in the road start to appear. “Mother of Mountains-” She gasps when she sees it. A huge talon shaped footprint. “Dragons.”
Daenerys walks further into the print and smiles back at her. “This is where they all died. All of them except for mine.” She settles in the print and doesn’t move even when Doreah approaches her. Night is beginning to fall and she has to go back.
“You must go. It is impossible to see the real ruins of Valyria.” Daenerys doesn’t look at her. “You shouldn’t be here.”
Doreah blinks and Daenerys is gone. For a second her chest flutters in panic, her brain had made this moment too real and she feels foolish once more.
On her return towards the harbour and away from the mirage she looks up to the sky and sees the familiar trailing red of a comet. It has passed towards the edge of the horizon now, almost disappearing, but it glows as bright as it had in the Red Waste. She still believes it was born in the Pyre of Drogo’s funeral and signals the rebirth of dragons in this time.
Maybe it will only die when the dragons do.
She makes good time to the boat and immediately stows away under deck so that she will not have to hear Daenerys’ voice as they make the crossing to Lys. She can’t bare it. Each catch of light that tricks her into thinking it is white hair and eyes of lilac stone only adds force behind the blade driving into her chest.
It’s then that she realizes that no dragon will ever compare to their mother.
Her homeland has not changed much since she left when she was thirteen and brought to the Free Cities. The men still come for the pleasure houses and the women are aplenty. It would be easier to earn money if she just submitted herself to one of the houses, she’d have a solid roof over her head and all the food she could ask for but she can’t.
It was under Daenerys’ word that she made men happy and look where that had gotten her. For all of her talents, Doreah can’t bare to fall into that comfort again, so she embroiders material for clothes and tells her stories in a nearby inn at night for a coin or two.
At first the locals are wary of her dothraki garb and her darkened skin, that is until she started to speak and they recognised the lightness of their accent in her voice, after this they were all too happy to sit their children with her as she lulls them to sleep.
“Khal Drogo’s hair reached all the way to his knees.” Doreah chimes to the smallest child. He has light blond hair and brown eyes and is looking at her in total awe. He has never heard of the dothraki and sees them as fierce warriors rather than ruthless killers. “And for a man almost as big as his horse, that is a great length.”
They love to hear her stories of the Dothraki, they’re the ones that usually get her paid more as well, because the boys love to hear of the battles and the girls love to hear of the horses. Khal Drogo has become a figure of wonder over the last few nights but she has avoided telling this part of his story.
“Why didn’t he cut it?” One of the girls, who holds her brother still as he sleeps, pipes up in confusion. “Mama cuts my brother’s hair when it gets too long otherwise he can’t see.”
Doreah holds up a finger to show she’s got an answer for that. “Ah but the dothraki only cut off their hair when they are defeated in battle. Khal Drogo never cut his hair because no one was able to defeat him.”
The girl smiles for a second but then frowns. “But, he’s dead?”
Maybe she should have told them another story. “Yes.”
She smiles because if she doesn’t then she’s going to start crying. “Because sometimes not even all the devotion and love in the world can save a person. Even if you want to.”
It’s easy enough to distract them again when she starts telling them about the feasts she has seen in Vaes Dothrak and the markets of Samyrian. Doreah misses those times, not just for her people but for the feeling of belonging that came with walking to Vaes Dothrak and mixing with other khalasars outside the field of battle.
Being alone now, in a home that no longer feels like home, has made her realize just how much she had shed aside when taken by the Khalasar. The walls of Lys are strange to her after years and years of open grass and sands. Even the weather is different. The further west she goes the colder it becomes.
“For your trouble.” The last of the parents come to escort their children away, handing her a silver piece in return for keeping them entertained while they have no doubt been drinking the finest wine Lys has to offer. Doreah notices that the mother stumbles towards one of the many pleasure houses in this part of town while the father leads his son elsewhere.
Doreah watches them until they all disappear from sight before taking out the small cloth bag she has protected since Qarth. It has seen better days but it’s managing to hold strong for now.
She counts seven gold and thirteen silver. A few more days and she’ll be on her way to Dorne and from there it is a week or mores ride to King’s landing without stopping. Once she gets there she starts to lose the list of things she has to accomplish.
One of the pleasure houses that she passed, that eventually pointed her to the seamstress, told her that she wouldn’t be able to avoid coming into contact with ‘their sort’ if she wanted to get anywhere in King’s Landing. Pleasure houses, and the men and women that frequent them, are hot spots for information.
‘And as much as I really don’t want to, that’s where I have to go.’ Doreah sighs to herself.
The whole point of her traveling this far, enduring harsh lonely days and sleepless nights in tears, is to try and scrape together something of use.
She’s not trying to change the world, she’s just chasing a dream of forgiveness that sees Daenerys storm the shores of Westeros to take back what is hers; and a hope that when she does, she will be able to stand before her and explain what happened in Qarth.
A few of the women have told her that she should look to the biggest of the whore houses in King’s Landing. They’re run by the same man who holds a high seat in the capital and visits Lys looking for new girls to bring back every few months. She’s unlucky enough that he’s not due to return in the foreseeable future. Doreah can’t gather much information as to why but a lot of ships from King’s Landing have stopped sailing out from their port or have had to be rerouted.
She wanders towards the back of the inn she’s managed to snag a place to sleep in. At first she attempted to find someone that she knew, maybe her mother or father, but it has been ten long years and she doubts they would recognise her even if she did find them. The inn is probably a better choice in the long run. They don’t charge her because they think she’s running away from some scorned lover and don’t want to be responsible for her if she turns up dead. Doreah laughs a little to herself over this a few times a day because they aren’t too far from the truth.
Daenerys is much more than a scorned lover though. She is rage incarnate. She is the boiling fire pits and the flickering flame. She burns all that she touches and doesn’t realize how marked she makes those that she lets in. Doreah is still burning.
The mark on her arm that was pierced there by her hand, the sigil of house Targaryen, hasn’t faded. The sand tried and failed to shake it from her skin but the black and red lines have won out. Doreah makes her way to her room and places her bag underneath her bed once again before she touches the tattoo.
The Targaryen sigil is a three headed dragon. Fire spews from each mouth in red. The sigil represents Aegon Targaryen and his two sisters; Rhaenys and Visenya, and the words of their house: Fire and Blood.
The mark on her arm, however, is of a lone dragon. The red is layered on black which is darkened by her skin and the sun. When she pulls at it, she can see the whites of the eyes that have been stabbed there.
“This is not the sigil of your house.” Doreah remembers smirking with some confusion. “There is only one dragon here.”
“There is only one true dragon left in all of the world.” Daenerys glances up at her from where she is tapping the needle into her arm. She learnt to give these marks while traveling with the dothraki, though before now Doreah had only ever seen her do this to Drogo. A warm feeling turns in her stomach and her palms sweat slightly. It’s silly to react this way, she bites her lip, to someone younger than her.
“And that is me.”
“So you place yourself on my arm then?” Doreah teased because it was easier to make her smile than to watch her sadness.
Daenerys had then looked at her face, halting her progress on the dragon’s tail, because she had made the mistake of laughing to herself. “What?”
“Doreah?” Daenerys pressed.
“It is nothing,” Doreah remembers taking a chance and taking Daenerys’ hand then, jumping when it was held in return. Doreah had lowered her voice then and looked down her pale neck. “I can just think of a more desirable place that I would rather have you.”
Someone the floor below her slams the door violently and it shakes her from the day dream. Daenerys’ light blushing face disappears from her suddenly and leaves her feeling empty again. Doreah covers her eyes with her hands trying to bring the moment back but it’s gone again. The silence in her room that follows the door is too overwhelming to wander back into the heat of Qarth and soft beds and what happened soon after.
The further away she gets from Qarth and the warmth of the Free Cities, the harder it becomes to remember those things. Not because Daenerys ordered her not to, but because the distance beings to hurt when she faces up to the fact that she can’t just walk into another room and be reunited with her.
It doesn’t stop her from staring at the door to her room from her small bed and wishing that’s exactly what she could do.
‘A few more coins.’ She repeats until she falls asleep.
It takes a few more days and a lengthy run out of one of the markets when she steals an apple from a seller that doesn’t hesitate to chase her down, before she has enough money to buy her way to Dorne. When she hands over the money for her place a strangeness fills her.
The Dothraki never bought anything, they took it; and people in Qarth laid out gifts for the party of Daenerys Targaryen. This is one of the first things she’s gotten for herself and it’s a small hammock under the deck of a ship. It’s crowded and she gets sick enough that several women on the boat have to carry her atop for some air. The sickness she had on the way to Lys was from her heart, but this is much worse. It stays for the majority of the ride and comes from her stomach as well as her heart. The sea isn’t kind to her and fire has burned her.
What other elements will turn her away in the next few days?
As they travel into the capital, over the cobbled stones that clack under the cart’s wheels, Doreah starts thinking about what and where she needs to go next. Everything she has gleaned about King’s Landing has come from the mouth of Viserys Targaryen. His sister has never set foot on nor seen her future home.
It is the home of the Iron Throne. It is guarded by an elite band of men called the King’s Guard. There are seven gates to the city and their port is unrivaled throughout the kingdom. Viserys told her of this while they bathed together and she forces herself to think of the words and not the disgust he made her feel. He told her of the dragons that lined the Red Keep and how their skulls grew smaller as he walked past them.
In years to come, when they have grown and died, that is where Daenerys’ dragons will come to rest.
King’s Landing reminds her of Qarth but with a lot less colour. All she sees is red and orange and yellows apart from the blue sky. Doreah isn’t truly impressed by the sight of it all until a few days later because on her arrival the rains came and she was too busy stumbling towards a large white stoned building just on the insides of the city walls.
Doreah can feel the rain soaking through her hair and sticking to the back of her neck. She knows what she looks like in the rain, her face is more striking and many men have delighted in the way it waves her hair. It even took -her- by surprise.
It’s this that she uses to explain the stunned and intrigued faces of the women that she immediately encounters when walking through the pleasure house. They stare at her face, her dress and move away from her as she walks in. All but one.
“Can I help you?” A girl, younger than herself, comes forth and touches her elbow. She looks over Doreah as if searching for her coin purse and it makes her remember her own time in Lys in the pleasure house. Always look for the coin first, ask questions later.
“Yes,” Doreah answers, stepping out of the touch. “You might. I am looking for the Lord to this house.”
The girl purses her lips and puts a hand on her hip as Doreah makes it clear she’s not here for her own desires. “Our Lord is upstairs. Has he sent for you?”
The place is heavily perfumed to mask the stench of sex. The place could really do with more windows, the houses in Lys have accommodated this for years, but King’s Landing seems to prefer hiding their desires under thread and gold. It is not the way of the Dothraki either, who believe that all important things such as sex, should be done under the open sky.
“No.” Doreah says but gestures for the girl to take her to him. “But he will wish that he did.”
He sits behind a writing desk penning a letter when she is presented to him. He doesn’t look up at her when the girl brings her, but only when she introduces him.
“Our Lord Petyr Baelish. Master of coin for the good King Joffrey.”
‘He is no King. He is no dragon.’ She thinks.
Lord Petyr Baelish then looks up and stops. She sees him take her in quickly and then slowly before setting aside his letter. “My, my, a girl all the way from Lys.”
She doesn’t correct him.
“What business may I help you with?”
She doesn’t have the words all practiced, just a general proposal. She needs somewhere to stay and some way of finding things out quickly and she needs to do all this without anyone realizing the treason that she’s committing in the capital itself.
Where better than in the nest of the enemy?
“I come from the Free Cities m’lord.” Lord sounds so strange on her tongue compared to Khal or Khaleesi. It sounds so thin and false.
“You’re looking for work?” He asks leaning back in his chair. It makes the room seem bigger as he does so. There are couches behind her and a table laid with the freshest fruits and delicacies. “I house many girls who come to King’s Landing in exchange for their services.”
This is where she can see it getting more difficult. “I have heard you to be the most accommodating Lord in all of King’s Landing.”
The Lord smiles at this. “I pride myself on being able to satisfy all desires.”
“Even those of your women?” Doreah chances. She keeps her expression light and teasing but unthreatening. Dothraki arrogance will get her nowhere in Westeros.
“All desires.” Lord Baelish looks at her again. “Do you have something to offer me? Most girls are happy to settle here without a direct conversation with me. Most fear my connections.”
They fear what has drawn her here in the first place.
“I have come to offer you something other than my body.”
“I am afraid I am promised to another.” Oh the egos of Western Men. Always believing the word revolves around them. This is where she misses the honesty of the East.
Doreah, still, smiles politely. “I believe I have confused my words m’lord. I do not offer you my body for service, but my mind.”
The joking nature that played briefly is doused. Baelish turns up his nose. “What good are you to me if you will not sleep with my customers?” The lord asks with a twisted smile. “What use is a whore that doesn’t offer up her body?”
Doreah knows she could make this easier for herself. She could just say yes and make men happy and earn the money that she needs to eat but something is stopping her. The freedom she was given perhaps. Free women do not sell their bodies for pleasure. Free women don’t chain themselves again.
However free women still need to survive, and to survive in King’s Landing she needs information, and after all, men like to talk when they’re happy.
Lord Petyr Baelish wears his impatience on his face. She does not command much of his time and she offers him little of interest but he is the man with considerable pull in the capital and one of the only ones who has such a public business.
“I can read and write-”
“So can any girl who’s parents put effort into her.” Baelish mocks.
“In three different languages.” Doreah asserts. “I doubt you will find any common girl who can speak the language of the Dothraki or recite poems from Lys.”
Lord Baelish pauses with a smug but satisfied smile. “And is that all you offer me? Poems and horse lord culture? You are something that many men here in King’s Landing would not hesitate to sample.”
Doreah steels herself. She has come too far to be reduced by this man and she has so much to do in order to start rebuilding herself before the day comes when it is too late and Daenerys lays claim to these shores without her.
“I can offer you something that is worth much more than my body.” Doreah reaches her hand into her cloth bag and clasps her fingers around her final play. She knows it is worthless, so does the majority of people in Qarth, but the Lord that sits before her does not.
She presents him with the key to the impenetrable vault of Xaro Xhoan Daxos.
“He is the richest man in all of Qarth.” She tells him. This is where she gains power. There will be no news of his death because there is no one to send it. No servants as witness to Daenerys fury or fellow council members to report him missing. “Every year he challenges the best and the worst of thieves and criminals to try and open and lay claim to his fortune.”
“Every year they are disappointed.”
Lord Petyr Baelish holds out his hand and she gladly gives him the useless key.
“You did not seek those riches yourself?” He questions. She knows this concept must be hard for him to grasp, as the master of coin for the King, but she has no need for money just forgiveness and a place to stay until this is possible.
“I wish only for refuge in King’s Landing, a roof over my head, food to eat and to make use of myself.” Doreah pushes knowing this is her final plea. “I cannot do that if I am dead.”
Baelish turns the key over in his hands. There is no doubt that he knows of the challenge Xaro Xhoan Daxos sends out and that he recognises this key. “You stole this from him.” He states.
“While he slept.”
Why not - is on the tip of her tongue but that will not grant her anything. Doreah steps forward just enough for Baelish to look upon her face. “Because he threatened a friend of mine and killed another.” It is not the first time she has thought of Irri since her exile. “And there is nothing he feels for like I did for my friends, so I took the only thing he deems of value.”
Petyr Baelish does not have an easy smile to read. It starts small and hidden in his beard but grows in a thin line before it curls. It puts her on edge. “He can’t access his wealth without this key.”
“And the key is yours.” Doreah emphasizes. “In return-”
“Of course. My hospitality is yours. Your body remains your own.” He adds with his wry grin. “I will have chambers put aside for you and you can assist me in keeping my accounts in order.”
He holds the key up and lets the light from the window shine through the green jewel in its center. Doreah hopes that this does not turn on her. She hopes that he does not write or ride for Qarth before Daenerys makes her move or before she can help her in her journey.
“Is there anything else you would ask in return for this priceless object?” Lord Baelish coaxes her to speak. Obviously mistrusting still why she would not take this for herself. In all honesty, if the situation were different, she still would not have claimed the false riches. Her time spent with the Dothraki has rid her of need for material possessions, unless they are to be given to her Kh-
“Access to a raven and news.” Doreah smiles as sweetly as she can muster. “I have never been to Westeros before. There is so much going on here that I don’t know.”
Lord Baelish smirks at her. “And there is many things you will never know.” The key falls into a box which he seals with a key. Their business is done and her deal is secure. “The raven is yours and all of history.”
He gestures to a large book by the window. It is recently bound and Doreah runs her hands over the title.
“Believe all that you hear my girl, and not what you read.” Baelish tells her. “Because history can be deceptive.”
Doreah frowns. “How so?”
He bows indicating his departure but leaves her with a final offering of wisdom. “Because it is written by the victorious.”
With his leave she is introduced to his ‘house’. She is given a bed in a room to be shared with several other girls. It is not as soft as the bed she shared with Daenerys or even Irri in Qarth and it is not as comforting as the bed she had in the khalasar but it is enough. More than she deserves after everything.
‘I will never escape that thought.’ She acknowledges to herself. No matter what she accomplishes here the feeling of Daenerys’ arm crushing her windpipe will never leave her. Unless she is forgiven.
Doreah sits alone on the bed in her shared chambers with ink and paper. It is a far away dream that she could ever be forgiven but it is the only thing that is keeping her together. It is all that stops the freedom she refuses from overcoming her.
Closing her eyes brings the flash of fire but keeping them closed brings her Daenerys’ pale face. Her eyes and her smile.
‘Don’t cry.’ She urges herself and it works, to some extent. She emerges herself in the book of recent happenings. It is newly bound and some of the ink sticks to the page. It is on her first night that she takes the book to bed with her while the women a floor below take men. She reads and eats more than she has in months and tries to keep it down.
It is nothing like what Viserys told her. It is nothing that Daenerys expects.
Robert Baratheon the Usurper, Viserys called him, is dead. Killed by a boar while hunting. The hand of the King has passed from Eddard of House Stark, killed for treason, to Tyrion Lannister, to Tywin Lannister. Joffrey Baratheon now sits on Daenerys’ throne, son of Robert, a boy of who has only just reached his fourteenth name day.
What the book does not tell her she gleams from the girl that brings her food. Doreah makes sure to keep her tattoo well hidden.
“We are under siege.” She offers Doreah, bowing her head as if she is some lady and not someone in the position to outwit their Lord. “Stannis Baratheon attacked King’s Landing not a month ago and threatened the King.”
“What has happened to him now?”
“He has fled.” The small girl tells her. “Tywin Lannister saved the city and King Joffrey has named him hand of the King.”
They are at war on all sides. The Lannisters press against the traitorous Northern house of Stark, led by Robert Stark and his father’s bannerman. They also press against Stannis who seeks to claim the throne. Whispers of the King being a bastard child run throughout the city in the shadows.
Lord Baelish sits on the small council for the King and returns each afternoon, his grin never faltering, as he asks her to help compile his accounts. Doreah follows and he blesses her with information that seems almost petty.
“Cersei Lannister has invited Sansa Stark to have an audience with Margaery Tyrell.”
He has taken a small liking to her, she thinks, because she isn’t blind to the ongoings around her. She has spent far too much time learning how to make men happy and to say the right things to let them get the better of her. It seems to amuse him and he invites her to share meals with him from time to time. Rich meats and wines that the khalasar did not bother with. She feels sick from the delicacy of it all. Even Qarth did not possess food like this and she never ate as much anyway. However the food is necessary for the conversation.
Doreah learns that they hold the Stark girl against her will and she was once betrothed to Joffrey. She becomes familiar with the houses of Westeros and their allegiances to the North and the South. She learns names and events and who is the most powerful influence on the King and who is to be weary of.
But most of all she learns that no one expects Daenerys Targaryen to fly from the flames of the East. There has been no word breathed of her in court since Robert’s reign and Lord Baelish does not mention her when he asks of her history with the Dothraki.
On the end of her first week in King’s Landing she stows away. Doreah takes a raven and walks to the harbour of the city with a note she wrote secretly by candlelight every night. She rolls up the words as if they are worth more than gold.
It writes of Robert Baratheon’s death, of Ned Stark’s execution, of Joffrey Baratheon and the Battle of Blackwater. Of the war in the North and the preoccupation of men in Westeros and their blindness for the East.
“I cannot speak but you can.” Doreah ties the letter to the Raven and touches its wing delicately. “To Pentos. Find Illyrio Mopatis.”
She sends ravens often and receives little in return.
It is Lord Baelish that mentions of Qarth’s burning towers but nothing of Daenerys. Doreah can’t be sure that he would let her know of this even if he did hear of her. It worries her but at least her letters are out there. At least someone will know of the troubles in Westeros and maybe those words will somehow get back to Daenerys. This is all she can do for her.
It has become a joke amongst the women, one she kind of enjoys, that the reason she isn’t working the men like the others is because Lord Baelish is saving her for some reason. She shrugs it off as always. Let them think what they want. In truth she has probably handled more men than half the girls in this place, and those that outnumber her she, no doubt, out skills them.
Doreah steps into the room quickly ignoring the heavy scent of sex in the air. These men have paid for the night and Lord Baelish tells her that though they may not be Lannister soldiers, they must be treated as such. This means wine flowing like water and girls by the plenty.
She sidesteps the first man that attempts to grab her and pours out the wine. Men, she smirks, they’re all the same really. At least with the Dothraki there was no shame in desiring women and there were ideals. Dothraki men want women, the whole of them, these men want a hole to fuck.
Their conversation reaches her ears.
“They say that trading has stopped in Braavos. The merchant ships are sinking.” The first man who attempted to grab her slurs out. There is a woman between his legs seeing to him. She mustn’t be doing that well of a job if he can still talk. “Savages, all of them, but they’ll probably think we’re behind it.”
“Sinking ships from our own shores,” Another laughs. “I didn’t realize our arrows could fly so far. Stannis Baratheon must be shaking from Dragonstone!”
Doreah almost knocks over a cup when she hears the mention of dragons.
“I heard they collapsed in on themselves. Word from Braavos says that their sails were set alight by a passing fleet. An armada.” A bearded man sitting in the corner, farthest from her, speaks out. He is leisurely touching a young girl whose head rests in his lap.
It has been two months since she started sending ravens to Pentos in the hope that word would reach anyone if she’s honest. With no word back she had started to give up hope that she would ever see the arrival of the Targaryen force. Or even if Daenerys would pursue her battle for the throne.
What if she chose to rule over crumbling Qarth instead?
“What fire could take down an entire fleet protected by those Braavosi?” The first laughs. “One swordsmen took down six Lannister men in the Red Keep with wooden swords!”
It’s then that she knows the fire starter. She stops pouring and wonders which of the dragons went first. Perhaps Drogon, he is the most restless or Viserion who is more skilled with his fire.
At first she says nothing because of her lingering loyalty. She aches for that loyalty to be true once more, to be with Dany and to serve her, rather than this freedom that she did not choose. But now, when she hears the stories rumbling through King’s Landing, of dragons and fire and fleets burnt to ash, Doreah finds it hard to just smile to herself and keep quiet.
These whispers have started to creep ashore, fire is on the lips of the common people and some have started to speak the name of House Targaryen once more; when they start to speak louder, Doreah finds that she cannot be silenced. This is what she came to Westeros to do and these are her stories to tell. It is time for them to be told.
It gets harder as the men get rowdy. They cheer and laugh at the failure of the Braavosi and spit on their misfortune. They joke about fire gods rising from ash and accidents until Doreah can’t let these false figures take the credit for actions that are definitely not theirs.
The storm is coming.
“Their misfortune is not at the hands of a god but a woman.” She exclaims. “She lives.”
Everyone in the small brothel turns to stare at her. It is not something unusual. The men do stare because she is from across the narrow sea. They stare because they want to take her. They stare because she whispers to herself in a language they cannot understand and they roam their eyes over her because she is something out of place and that they can’t have her.
Now they stare in shock.
“The god rising from the ash you speak of,” Doreah stops pouring wine for the men and uncovers the mark on her arm that the sand failed to fade. It has been burnt there by the sun. “She is coming and she rides on dragons.”
The closest scoffs and taps the back of one of the women in the room for her to continue. Doreah has no qualms with being in the room while this happens, it is her job, but she rolls her eyes to herself when he continues to speak to her. “Dragons are mere stories. What do you know slut?”
Names cannot hurt her anymore. Nothing but her freedom can do that to her.
“I have seen her.” Doreah admits. “I have seen her rise from fire and give birth to dragons and take cities in a furious storm.”
She will paint them a picture of their future Queen. One splattered in blood and fire in broad strokes that instill fear and one touched with detail that draws their loyalty.
“Cities!” One sated man laughs. “Which of these cities do you speak of? I see no fires when I stand in the harbour!”
Doreah bites down her anger and turns to him. He is drunker than the rest but the red in his cheek doesn’t disguise his curiosity well enough. “She has burnt many, but none more viciously than Qarth.”
News of Qarth has reached her from the shores of Pentos and from the mouth of Petyr Baelish who smiled and assured her that Xaro Xhoan Daxos’ vault still stands. He worries about imaginary gold while Doreah held her breath. Qarth burns to the ground and she can only hope that Daenerys Targaryen commands a fleet and a khalasar that looks towards Westeros and the Iron Throne.
“The greatest city that ever was or ever will be.” Doreah lets out a bitter laugh. “Though I think that they may need to resolve that title.”
She has their attention now for her words. Not her body. It is a power she is used to yet she wants to shy from. It is not the same to be telling these stories of Dany and her dragons, when she has been exiled and forbidden from doing so, and when it is not Dany that she is offering them too either.
Another man, who rests with a woman on a near bed, sits up. “Who is this dragon woman? How do you know of her fury?”
That would be too long a story to tell. The bruises on her neck may have faded but the pain in her heart has not. “She is my Khaleesi, Daenerys Stormborn.” A shudder runs through her as she names Daenerys as hers again. No lightning strikes her down and they all sit up, the whores protest but the room grows silent.
“Of House Targaryen.”
Her stories come and they listen. As the night ends her words will have flown near and far reaching out of the capital and to the Northlands.
They hear of her time in Pentos and her cruel brother. They hear of her wedding to Khal Drogo and the might of the khalasar they commanded. She gives them the tale of her son and his demise and her vengeance. They sit speechless in fear of her rebirth. Doreah recalls everything from the stark white of her hair, untouched by flame, to the ash that spotted her skin but torched no flesh. To her eyes, pale and purple opening and the disbelief they all held when they saw their Khaleesi survive the pyre she crawled into.
Nothing is more powerful than the looks they give her as she describes the first glimpses of Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal clinging to Daenerys’ body and rising into the air.
The dragons have returned to the world and they are coming. These men shake and Doreah relaxes on a couch of luxury as they plead with her to tell them more about the last of the Targaryens.
Doreah does not notice Petyr Baelish slip from the room without a sound.
They lead her through the narrow streets and sand coloured walls and though she is used to this colour, the vast structures and the sky that looks down upon them still amaze her.
Today she wanders a little more before returning to the pleasure house. The sun is warm and she wants to soak it up. Westeros is a lot colder than the Free Cities and it has taken some getting used to. Being out in the city and in the sun makes her long for the Dothraki sea and the long days walk with the khalasar.
It is in these thoughts that she turns. Before Khal Drogo took Daenerys to be his wife they rode harder and with more vicious intent. Those nights saw her lie with many men for warmth and pleasure. She remembers looking up at the night sky and retreating to her tent with Irri. She remembers laying there with her friend and learning the ways of the dothraki from her.
The dothraki may have claimed her from the pleasure house but they did not hesitate in welcoming her to their teaching. Slaves that share their beliefs and their values feel less like slaves. They are less likely to run away. Doreah realizes how cunning the dothraki are now that she is no longer with them. It took a while to come to this, especially because she was gifted by the dothraki to a thirteen year old girl by the name of Daenerys Targaryen under the coin of her brother.
She slows in the street and clutches the book to her chest. Was it really so long ago? Was Daenerys really so young? Her fourteenth name day came soon after she was wed to Drogo, by her fifteenth she was widowed and childless and abandoned by the khalasar that once called her Khaleesi.
Was she really fourteen when her brother sent Doreah to teach her and tend to her? Barely growing into her dragon’s blood when Doreah took her to her bed and taught her how to please her Khal.
Her knees fail her in the street and she has to push her thoughts aside until she is able to collapse on her bed in the empty chambers of Baelish’s whore house and choke out her sobs.
She misses her.
After everything that she has been put through in the last few months; the exile, the harsh burning wastelands, the sickness she battled on the path across the Narrow Sea, to the fear she feels daily living in King’s Landing while secretly swearing her fealty to her Khaleesi.
Except these last few months have been nothing compared to that of her Khaleesi. She has been widowed. She has lost her son and her children within the space of a few weeks. She has been betrayed twice over, by the maegi and then by herself. Doreah whimpers. How could she do this to her?
Yet while Doreah hides and sends word from afar and hope for forgiveness, her Khaleesi is moving. She is acting and burning cities and fleets to the ground. She wields a power that no false king could ever dream of wielding. She has a claim to the throne backed by a three hundred year legacy and she has the strength to retake it.
Doreah bites down on her hand to stop her cries from reaching beyond the walls of her bed chambers. She can’t explain her sadness that she is not standing dutifully by the side of Daenerys because of her selfish and foolish mistake. Not if she wants to keep her head.
No. She cannot utter anything of her in this place. Not even in the letters she sends. She addresses them to Illyrio of Pentos because he is the last person Daenerys was in contact with before she came to their khalasar.
All she can have of Dany now is what her dreams bring of her. Maybe that’s all she will ever be able to have of her again. She will never take her Khaleesi’s hand again, she will never share her laughter or her bed; she will never braid her white hair and hook bells along the strands; she will never tell her a story again. She will never kiss her or look upon her face ever again.
All because she presumed that she was unable to protect herself and because she selfishly tried to prevent Daenerys’ dragons from being stolen on her own. Irri was killed because of her. Daenerys was all alone because of her.
“You were late to return today.”
Lord Baelish waits in the entrance, holding his accounts books. Doreah stands suddenly and wipes at her face before he can notice her tears.
“I’m sorry m’lord.” She apologises. “I am so used to the open sky that I fear I get quite lost in it.”
He nods in understanding. “The open spaces of the dothraki sea. I’ve heard it is a sight to behold.”
Doreah smiles. She knows he doesn’t really care for her culture and believes her to be more savage than Lysean but she humours him anyway. “The grasses are immense and never ending. The dothraki say that when the grasses stretch across the planes of the world, that is when the world will have ended.”
“The dothraki say?”
“Yes. It is known.” A jab to her heart and he laughs not seeing the significance behind those words.
He moves forward and places the book on her bed. “Your stories seem to be endless Doreah. Your words are far too good for the ears of common men.” She will no doubt have to write something for him that he does not have the time to do. Perhaps more of the history of House Baratheon that needs to be changed to cast a shadow over the betrayal of Renly Baratheon.
“My thanks to you m’lord. You are not the first to say that.”
“Apparently not.” He answers quickly. Doreah turns away from the book at the sudden snap in his voice. He doesn’t sound as casual as he did on arrival. “My customers have been singing your praises too. I hear that many have come to bed women just on the chance that they may hear you speak.”
Fuck. “I apologise m’lord. I understand that’s not what you want from me.”
“No it’s not but I get paid all the same.” The ease comes back again. He smiles and crosses his arms in front of his waist. “Men crave all manner of things. I pride myself on being able to satisfy all tastes.”
“Then maybe you would be interested in Irogenera of Lys,” Doreah remembers this tale well and the position she was in the first time she told it. “It is said that she could finish a man with nothing but her eyes. Khals burned their enemies for a few hours with her, Kings traveled across lands-”
“I have no interest in stories of whores and Khals.”
Doreah stops, frozen by the coldness in his remark. Baelish stares her down and says nothing of his exclamation.
“What stories would please you my lord Baelish?” Doreah watches her own hand out of the corner of her eye. It shakes unexplainably. “I can tell you about the House of the Undying or the splendour of the Spice King, or the great council dosh khaleen in Vaes Dothrak-”
“Or you could tell me of Daenerys Targaryen.”
He speaks a name she hasn’t uttered in weeks. A name he doesn’t deserve to call while she cannot.
Suddenly she has a reason for shaking. With everything she can muster, Doreah turns with a bright smile on her face. “Daenerys Targaryen? M’lord, I can only wish I had a story worthy of a name such as that.”
Lord Baelish tilts his head in a pitying way. He sees her shaking and the glint in his eye is matched quickly and without warning by a blade of Valyrian steel being shoved underneath her chin until she is slammed against the stone wall behind her.
“You have more than just words for this name.” Baelish drives the blade up until the prick of the steel breaks her skin. Doreah clenched her jaw tightly as her cries are muffled behind her teeth. “You have history and you have faith in this name.”
She can’t say anything. Here she is again, trapped by a man with a sword, who demanded she give him something. It’s always Daenerys.
“A Lys whore living in a khalasar traveling across the Free Cities.” Baelish spits out and looks down into her terrified eyes. “A girl with no more skill than a common beggar who is able to take the key to the vault of Xaro Xhoan Daxos and flee Qarth with no consequence.”
“None of these things are plausible feats for a girl like you Doreah.” She struggles against him as he places his heavy hand around her throat. Not again. The bruises have faded but she feels it all rush back to her. “Not unless she had help, protection from someone who could offer it.”
Lord Baelish’s eyes grow deadly calm but she fears the smile that comes over him more than his blade. “You think I did not know? Did you think that we were not aware of Daenerys Targaryen’s marriage to Khal Drogo, son of Bhobo, or her child?”
She has been a fool twice. She flew away from the threat of the Lions but into the nest of the mockingbird. A mockingbird that has known everything about her and her people since she set foot onto the shores of Westeros.
“Hush now,” He sings to her muffled attempts to breathe. “Say nothing. Save your precious stories my dear, you will have plenty of time and a much bigger audience to tell them to come dawn.”
Wet blood trickles from under her chin when Lord Baelish pulls the blade from her skin. He does not release her until a deafening march of steel echoes in the hall and into the chambers. Men in red armor. Spears and swords ready to be drawn against her. A golden lion upon their breast. Lannisters.
Lord Baelish hands her to them and they grab her with metal fingers and unforgiving grips. “Tomorrow you will tell the story of Daenerys Targaryen on your knees in the Red Keep,” He swoops in and bears over her. “And I’m sure your words will be greatly appreciated by the Lions Lannister.”
Doreah does not move. It has been over half a year since she left Qarth. She has managed to send over twenty letters to Pentos in her three months here. Tomorrow her suffering will end.
‘I’m going to die.’
Chapter 2: PART TWO: DAENERYS
Dany sets her sights on Westeros.
PART TWO: DAENERYS
She takes everything from Xaro Xhoan Daxos. His clothes, his furniture, his plates and gold and lets the remaining hundred men of her Dothraki Khalasar sell and burn it all. The returns she makes give her enough money for a boat. The truth is she no longer needs the money for a boat. Xaro Xhoan Daxos commands eighty four ships that in a few days she will storm and take from his dying control.
What she needs is an army to sail them.
For all of his talk, her brother was right. She cannot hope to march to Westeros and reclaim the Seven Kingdoms with a hundred men. She needs an army and a fleet and a plan.
“I have sent for news from Westeros.” Jorah states. He has barely left her side since they returned from the House of the Undying. Not even now, when the sun is setting and she’s about to retire to bed. “I still have a few friends on the shores of King’s Landing who can provide me with information.”
They reside in Qarth still. She has taken the home of The Spice King, who since his death has not needed to reside there. They took it easily and without much bloodshed. His household servants were all too quick to flee or beg for their lives even in the face of her small horde.
It is far enough away from Xaro’s home to be safe and protected well enough to keep those who seek her or her dragons out. It is a fortress that surrounds her while her men cause disarray in the city of Qarth and plunder homes for able bodied men.
Surrender and join them, is the call, and they would be wise to answer it.
“I have not heard anything from the Seven Kingdoms since our turn to Vaes Dothrak.” Not since Drogo or- “We have not seen or heard of any of Robert Bathatheon’s attempts on my life since then.”
The Usurper’s name is ash on her tongue.
Jorah stands in her presence. She has made careful steps to keep this formality since being reunited with her dragons. He was too close to her. The distance is what makes people fear her, it is also what makes them safe from her. “I shall send another raven.”
She nods again and wonders about affairs a stones throw away. It’s something that has been plaguing her since the House of the Undying. “Ser Jorah.”
A room with a throne for her to sit on.
“Do you know what the Throne room in the Red Keep looks like?” She asks as if she doesn’t know but the memory of stepping through the place comes to her. Even in its ruined state, the impossibly tall walls and the imposing throne fill her with excitement. She almost touched it.
She doesn’t mention the snow.
Jorah bows his head and shakes it. “I cannot say I have had the pleasure of witnessing it my Khaleesi.” He doesn’t seem to regret this and she remembers that he’s a wanted man and any trip to the Throne room may bring about his death.
Suddenly his tone goes through her in an off way and she curls back into herself. “Bring me a raven.” She orders to his confusion. “I have questions to ask of my own.”
He does dutifully and leaves. She watches his back disappear before she starts penning out words. They are short and quick and give no indication of her recent troubles. But she trusts less now and it suits her better. So whatever news Jorah will bring her of Westeros will only ring true if they match her own news.
The raven offers up its leg for her to attach the letter. She touches its head. “Pentos. I need you to fly to Pentos.”
It takes flight out of one of the windows, disappearing beyond the wall, towards Pentos. She hopes that she still holds an affectionate place in Illyrio’s heart and that he will answer her letter soon. If not, she thinks, I will see him soon enough.
The silence falls soon after and she realizes this is the first time since their upheaval that she’s been alone. Without any guard or Jorah by her side. The room dwarfs her with its grand walls and luxury. It’s easier to see now the difference between The Spice King’s true fortunes in comparison to Xaro Xhoan Daxos’ false riches. Mostly because the sheets are softer.
That seems to be what her dragon’s have picked up on the most.
Rhaegal bites at the pillows, leaving teeth marks and feathers everywhere. She has told the servants who did not flee with their arrival, to provide new ones daily. They often comment that the marks seem to be getting bigger.
Dany sits and he crawls to her, his copper wings stretch, before climbing up her arm. “Stronger by the day.” She murmurs to him.
They eat almost every hour now. A stark change from the Red Waste where they could barely afford to spare them meat and most days she went without in order to feed them instead and then Dor-
Rhaegal hisses at her unexpectedly when she stands.
The days have been too few to let her think about Doreah. The betrayal has hollowed her out like a hot knife in her stomach and she can’t admit just how much to anyone. Not even Jorah. Especially not him in this case. He has looked at her differently since she spared her and she can finally see the disbelief he talked about when he told her that he didn’t think she was real sometimes. Except this look is in disbelief of her actions and how he obviously doesn’t approve of them.
It’s getting harder to look at him.
Even the dothraki were grateful that they were not asked to kill one of their own women. Leaving her there is not something she wants to reflect on because she’s not ready to question anything about it. She has her dragons, she has her fleet and soon she will have her army. And that’s all that matters.
“Rheagal.” She chides as the dragon singes one of the pillows. He screeches a little when she picks him up, with some difficulty now that he’s growing faster, and places him on the floor once more. Viserion opens an eye from his slumber to watch his brother stumble to where she has created a small nest for them.
Once he has settled she moves to the dresser in the room. Her routine in the night is a lot different now that she is alone. There are no friends nor servants who will stay in the room long enough with her dragons present to help her. So she manages alone. The Spice King’s home was filled with many dresses and clothes that she has been able to take advantage of but only for the night. During the day she wears only what the Dothraki have given her. Leathers which she lays on top of finer silks from Pentos and gifts from her weddings. Her allegiance is clear, she is a khaleesi, and so she must look like one.
She undresses carefully and places her clothes over one of the chairs in her room. She wraps herself in a thin nightgown before brushing her hair. She’ll probably have to undress again before she sleeps because the heat has become too much during the night. Though she thinks that it is her dragons that have caused this sudden temperature change. Their body temperature is immense and she’s tried to stop them sleeping with her because of the dreams.
Rhaegal senses the sudden change of mood again and claws at the floor.
“I know.” She utters like he can understand her. “They won’t stop.”
Every night it’s the same. She walks through the Red Keep and notices more and more. The flashes she experienced in the House of the Undying grow more detailed every time she closes her eyes. She can feel the snow crunching beneath her feet and the hum of the Iron Throne inches from her hand when she goes to touch it. The cold she feels has her shivering in even in the morning.
And then Drogo comes.
Sometimes its the same as their meeting outside the Night Lands. She walks and sees him with their child. Sometimes the whole dream is of her sitting there and talking with them. She holds him and touches his hair and promises him that he will still be the Khal of Khals. Other times she sees him grow and they find horses and ride. Drogo lets his son take the lead and then sometimes Rhaego disappears and it’s just the two of them. Drogo touches and kisses her like he once did and they lay beneath the shelter of their tent and he takes her. His eyes never stray from hers and on the morning of those dreams she wakes up shaking and stifling her sobs so that no one comes rushing to her room.
She misses him. She misses braiding his hair and his body surrounding her as she slept. She misses his marks, his scars and his touch. And knowing he’s waiting before the Night Lands for her is tearing her apart inside. While she lives, he waits.
Dany pulls back the sheets of her bed and takes a breath before slipping underneath them. Her dreams of Drogo may devastate her come morning, but they are preferable to waking up to Doreah’s cries of Khaleesi in her ears.
Either way, she will be crying come morning.
Their time will come.
Servants burn ribs by the windows on an open fire pit until they are black and charred for her dragons, who climb the walls, eyeing their meat eagerly. The smoke hangs in the air. Ser Jorah, who is standing to one side of the table sweats slightly at the heat. She doesn’t feel a thing.
“That is their choice.” Dany states. “The six hundred you have found for me, are they well prepared?”
“They have heard many stories, Khaleesi.” Ikko nods. “They wish to serve you. To die for you. And help you reclaim Iron Chair.”
Throne, but she doesn’t correct him. He has done more than she expected and now she has six hundred men who will help sail her ships and ‘recruit’ others to her army. “Have your brothers see that they are loyal to me. I have no time for men and women who wish to follow me because they are interested in stories.”
“Yes Khaleesi.” Ikko nods his head in respect and takes his leave. The edge of his arakh is covered in blood.
When the door closes behind and leaves her with Jorah and her dragons, she takes a breath and relaxes slightly. She can’t afford to look anything but perfect and hardened in front of them. Her weakness for her dragons has already been exposed too much and with six hundred joining her, she needs this facade more than ever.
“You will see to it that those who sail my fleet are watched carefully by the dothraki.”
“It will be hard Khaleesi, especially as it will be the first time some of these men will cross water.” He reminds her. “We have a fair few with experience but it may be wise to find some men for hire that will take the ships. A man led by coin is less likely to stray.”
She nods. “See that it is done.” Jorah takes his usual bow but doesn’t make to follow through. The harbour is a good few hours ride and most of the men looking for work there will be returning home soon. “Ser Jorah?”
“I returned to the Merchant King’s house today.” He shows no expression when he admits this. Dany bristles and bites her tongue.
“Why? My order was clear.” Dany challenges as passively as she can. No one was to set foot in that place again.
“I was retrieving the last of our guard.” Jorah tells her. They left several men to watch the mansion to be sure that no one would attempt to free Xaro Xhoan Daxos.
“And you decided to go inside?” She doesn’t want to be angry about this but she is. It’s like he was checking up on what she had done, just in case.
Jorah doesn’t ignore her words but doesn’t acknowledge them. “He has stopped hammering on the vault.”
“He lasted longer than I thought.” Dany cuts across. She does not want to bring this up. As much as his fate was deserved, he was still the one to bring her into his house and into Qarth and save them from the Red Waste. She could have made his death a lot worse yet Jorah won’t let that be. He has attempted to speak to her about her actions in Xaro’s household. He’s come close to questioning her so often than she has grown to dread his presence.
“A slow and painful death Khaleesi.” Jorah notes. “It may be useful for you to become skilled with a blade before your return to Westeros.”
She eyes his own strapped to his waist.
“What use will I have for steel when I have fire?” Her brother taught her how to hold a sword and to swing with it. She is not trained in any case, like Jorah or her Dothraki people, but she is not so helpless as a newborn.
“Steel can kill you.”
“Fire forged steel. I will not let anyone close enough to harm me.” Dany looks to where Jorah holds onto his sword. “Not again.”
“They say she has fled the city.” This is why she didn’t want to talk about this. She doesn’t want to have to remember Doreah along with Drogo. She doesn’t want to talk about steel and fire and think about how Doreah stepped in front of a blade to protect her and her child or how Drogo killed her brother to ensure her safety.
It is too soon and she’s too tired from her dreams and gathering an army and watching her dragons grow day by day to be angry.
And she’s sick of Jorah looking at her like he expects to see this anger constantly as proof of her resolve. When really she can’t rid either of them from her mind anymore. They are there when she closes her eyes, on the dawn of the sun and the cold dusk horizon. Drogo’s patient face. Doreah’s warm smile. She can’t get rid of any of it while she resides in this city.
Yet they cannot leave until they have direction, until they have news and until she has numbers of men, women and horses to start a new khalasar that will lead her across the red waste and towards Westeros.
First she needs men for ships and a response from Pentos. Not someone second guessing her orders.
“Khaleesi.” Jorah begs of her attention.
“No.” Dany shakes his head. “I will not listen to you tell me what my discretion has afforded her.” Jorah tightens his jaw. She can see the confusion build in him and she cuts that down too. “Nor will you question my actions.”
She stands from the table and gestures for the servants to take away the food. “Go to the harbour and find men to sail my ships, Ser Jorah.”
This time he leaves.
She doesn’t have time for this distraction. Xaro is dead. Doreah is gone and she needs to be thinking about moving from Qarth soon. Her dragons are growing fast and the longer they stay here the harder it will be to travel with them.
She looks to Drogon devouring the burnt meat with enthusiasm. He is the largest of her children, in a month he will be bigger than herself. A month after that? A year?
Aegon Targayen rode into battle with his sisters on the backs of dragons. They fought and won from the skies. When Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal are grown she will lead her forces from the skies too. Maybe the time seems too far away because her visions of flying with them are hard to piece together. She can’t imagine feeling their scales against her thighs or their wings propelling them through the clouds.
Her thoughts are quickly interrupted by a loud crowing call. Dany turns and spots a black raven, stark against the sandy colours of the dining room, sitting atop a chair. But her attention quickly turns to the letter attached to its leg.
She coaxes it closer and unties the knot. The paper falls into her hand. It bears no seal from Illyrio. She has not received a reply from him and it’s been over two months since she contacted him.
Unrolling it carefully she starts to read.
It isn’t long.
It’s isn’t news from Westeros either.
“Drogon, Viserion, Rhaegal; come.” Dany crushes the paper in her hand and tosses it into the dying embers of the fire pit. Her dragons follow her out obediently and no one witnesses the ink burning ‘I’m sorry’ away, letter by letter.
She sees them from a distance at first but when they grow closer she calls for Jorah to summon her men. They outnumber them twofold just with Dothraki but-
“All of them.” She says. Jorah is fixing his sword to his side as she tells him. “The time has come for us to leave Qarth.”
Qarth with its colours, fine silks and milk men who bathe her in promises but in the end never treated her as more than a prized horse. Parading her around until she was of no more use. Qarth would have been her grave. They would have wrote no songs about her glory, only a tomb much like the one for Xaro Xhaon Daxos.
“Then I will assemble the ships and your guard. They will take you there right away.”
“No. We are to leave Qarth come morning.” Dany stands once more at the window. Surely the people will see her there and their anger will grow. “After we tear this city to the ground brick by brick.”
“I will assemble your guard.” He insists.
“I have three.” Her dragons sleep on the floor, their bodies take up most of the room, leaving them with just enough space to stand. “You will assemble all the men, Dothraki and Qarthian, and you will turn them away.”
She looks down at him. “If I need to tell you then you truly do not understand what I mean by tearing this city down.”
“Of course. I shall lead them myself.” He bows and takes his leave for the front line. Always so gallant in her name. She just wishes that his open affection for her wasn’t as obvious.
This will be a true test of loyalty for them all. To see if they will turn on people and family that they know in her name. She shall see. This is an advantage in Westeros, it’s easier to turn against people you do not know, the challenge will be winning over the people in the Seven Kingdoms.
But she is the blood of the dragon and they have conquered them before, and she will take it again, and bring back glory and power to her family line. The kind that her brother could have never accomplished and the kind she never thought would be on her shoulders.
“Hush now.” Drogon hisses and claws up the brick wall of her window. She doesn’t help him, he needs to learn to do these things for himself, but she moves along to accommodate his size. “Things are starting to get interesting.”
He’s strong enough now, but not fully grown, to fly short distances. They’ve tested their wing spans over the last few weeks, letting them fly over the mansion and beyond, to get their endurance up. Soon they will fly further.
Drogon looks like he wants to take flight now as her dothraki guard march to the gates to head off the start of the crowd, and others raise the alarm for the men and women they have recruited to join them. A loud blast from a horn has lights flickering in houses in the distance.
Dany sees it all happen.
Her dothraki stood strong and warned the people first that they would not leave this place alive if they did not leave now. The Qarthians ignored their words and then came sentences of steel. The first man falls and others are screaming before he even finishes choking on his blood.
The fight began on her doorstep, Jorah leading her men to cut down all those who attempted to get past them, no one reached the mansion. No one held bows to shoot her down from the window either.
They may not have even needed to call for their six hundred. The thirst of her guard for blood and battle was overwhelming and no man looked to lose his braid in this frey. But the six hundred came and trapped them from the back with pitchforks and torches.
The fire was to burn the bodies of the dead. They piled the bodies high in the courtyard of the Spice King’s land and threw torches on them. Some still screamed with life but it was soon extinguished. It was a little disappointing until those torches are taken elsewhere and she starts to see houses go up in flames too.
“We have taken the city of Qarth,” Dany murmurs to Drogon. “We have won with good men against all of the forces this city had to offer. And they trembled.”
Drogon screeches and nips at her finger in a display of affection. However he is not the size he once was when he was captured. These past few months have seen his tail grow long and his body expand. Jorah swears he will soon be the size of a small horse. Rhaegal and Viserion too.
“And this was without you,” She coos to him. “I’m sorry.”
Sometime later, when the fires are dimming and the red of the sky replaces the blackness of night, Ikko, strides into the room, his bowed head is the only curtsy he offers her. She can see the blood splattered over his face and his disheveled dress that signifies his recent conquests. Dany smiles at his appearance.
“Khaleesi, the khalasar is ready.” His rough dothraki accent soothes her as she turns from Drogon to fix a braid that falls in her hair. This is her first victory. This is where they will write of the changing tides in the history of their rule.
This is the morning of her first triumph.
“And so are we.” She stands. Her room is empty now and there is a horse waiting for her by the gates of the city that once was Qarth. The fires she can still see warm the morning view. Her Khalasar stands at over a thousand who swore to follow her over death and they are ready to ride out once more.
“Drogon, Rheagon, Viserion.” Her dragons are bigger, stronger and more fierce looking that there were mere months ago. They crawl and stretch their wings at her voice, eying the open window that she faces. They know what comes next. The only people who don’t are those that refused to follow her.
Dany smiles at her children and that is their signal to play. Qarth is theirs to toy with before they make their leave and the game is played with fire. “Burn them all.”
She takes her khalasar to Meereen and with some fight she acquires another thousand men. Some came willingly when they saw her dragons. Some came quickly when she burnt down their houses and their markets and let her dothraki men choose women to keep their favour. She leaves the children to decide whether or not to follow her. Others resisted all the way and they left piles of their bodies as they bring the city to its knees.
The Great Masters and Priestesses there welcomed her as they tremble in fear and proclaimed her Queen of Meereen to save their lives. She claimed the pyramids the wealthy lived in and had the slavers in the bay drowned. Many of the slaves chose to follow her in thanks for their freedom.
She ignored the reminder of others who chose to follow her rather than really take their freedom.
Jorah tells her after that this is where they would have taken the slaves Drogo took from Lhazereen. Afterwards she ordered for the bay to be destroyed and their ships claimed.
The multi-coloured walls of Meereen have seen better and brighter days. When she finishes with them everything is charred and dark.
This is the second city she burns but not the last as she travels north through dothraki seas. The grasses welcome her like a forgotten friend and the oldest of her followers find comfort in the horses they have to ride and the routine of the khalasar.
Every night Ikko and Jorah set up her tent and stand guard. Thousands of other tents sprang up alongside and around her. Fires warm them at night and though they are far from the forty thousand Drogo once commanded, it is still a sight to behold.
“They say prayers to you tonight Khaleesi.” Ikko comments. He’s taking a moment to help her feed her dragons as she has no one to ask and she refuses the handmaidens that come to offer their service to her. “We all pray to the Mother of Mountains for strength and life.”
Dany smiles at him. It has been a long while since she felt her lip curl upwards and the dry wind against her face for days makes it feel like her skin cracks as she does. He is loyal. “I am grateful for your prayers, qoy qoyi, and pray for the same for all of my people.”
When he thanks her in the common tongue she realizes it sounds so strange because they still have no word for it in Dothraki.
“They grow.” He comments. Viserion and Rhaegal are devouring the meat they have already charred for them. “Soon you will need a bigger tent.”
“Yes I will.” She agrees. “But by then I hope to be somewhere else with stone walls.”
Ikko nods to himself. “Stone is good. Sea is better.”
It occurred to her that the great dothraki sea is all these men have known for years and years. Just like the Free Cities are all she has known, with her brother, since her birth. Soon they will all cross the Narrow Sea together and be faced with something neither of them are prepared for.
“It is.” She agrees though. The sea has brought her so much happiness and it’s comforting to be back in it’s grasp. Even being on a horse is giving her the strength and power that she felt she lost in Qarth. Her dragons have started to make parts of the journey by the air, following their khalasar until their wings are tired and they ride the backs of the strongest horses for the rest of the way.
Being a Khaleesi gives her the strength that being a princess has not in all her fourteen years. As a princess she fled from city to city as Robert Baratheon sent hired swords to take her life and she hid behind her brother because he was to be the king and she was to follow. She gained no friends only pity. As a khaleesi she was wed to the most powerful Khal in all of the dothraki sea, she became a woman, she led a khalasar and became untouchable. She struck her brother down and saw him killed. She held life inside her and survived it being taken from her. She was widowed. She walked into fire and came out unscathed and bore children with scales and flame on their tongue.
Westeros will tell no tales of her time as princess to the ‘cart king’. They will tell them of Daenerys Stormborn, Khaleesi of the great dothraki sea, Queen of Meereen and the unburnt. The last of the Targaryens.
“Goodnight Khaleesi.” Ikko stands and stokes the fire quickly. It will burn through the night and keep her warm. “Shall I call for Jorah Andal?”
They don’t grasp the concept of knighthood. The metal dresses they wear confuse them and mean nothing to them. Daenerys shakes her head. She has had enough of him for today. “No. Tell him to retire to bed. And when he refuses, tell him to keep watch outside.”
He refuses every night and she sees his shadow against her tent, faithfully guarding, even when there seems to be nothing to protect her from.
“I wish he would leave.”
“He won’t.” She whispers and closes her eyes quickly. Her dragons are the only ones on her bed, she tells herself, the only ones.
“I think he likes to hear you.” The teasing voice. “I wonder what Khal D-”
“Don’t.” She reaches out her wrist and feels nothing on the ends of her fingers but if she opens her eyes she will be holding on to Doreah’s hand. She doesn’t open them. This isn’t the first time and it’s not going to be the last. At least this time it isn’t Drogo who has come to bed her.
“He looks at you far too much.” Her memory is astounding. The voice is just right. Maybe because this isn’t the first time she’s heard Doreah say this. It unnerves her. Just as Drogo’s rough dothraki accent is still as clear as ever when he enters her dream state. “He is not worthy Khaleesi.”
She almost shouted and opened her eyes when she hears Doreah call her that. The older girl has no right to call her Khaleesi anymore.
“He has dishonoured one King.” His exile. “Now he wishes to do the same to you.”
“He is loyal.” She spits in a hush. Hoping that it will slap or sting Doreah and remind her of her betrayal.
“That is not the dishonour I speak of Khaleesi.” Her fingers curl like Doreah is lacing them together. Just like the first time, on the night she told her the story of the moon being an egg that gave birth to thousands of dragons when it wandered too close to the sun.
“I need you to leave.”
She expects a laugh or protest or a word more to warn her against Jorah.
All she gets is silence that follows Doreah obeying her and the whine of Drogon as he picks up on what is missing from their nightly routine. “I know.” She utters. “Me too.”
“My Princess.” He smiles. “My Khaleesi. You return with more beauty than when you first came here.” She grimaces through his compliments yet lets him take her hand. “And I hear you have brought more than just beauty to my household.”
Jorah steps up beside her holding the reigns of one horse. He was against them coming to Illyrio, he distrusts the man that once sold her to Khal Drogo while falling silent when she told him that he also gave her these dragons. Seated atop the stallion is Rhaegal, covered by a blanket, who stretches his long neck and shrieks for her.
“By the gods.” Illyrio stares at the wonder of Rhaegal’s copper scales. “I thought they were stone.”
Dany releases her dragon from the stallion’s saddle and he leaps to the ground, only to raise back on his legs and spread his wings. There isn’t a trace of jealousy in Illyrio’s eyes which Jorah predicted, only wonder.
She turns back to Illyrio. “You have given me the greatest gift. You will never understand just how much these dragons mean to me.” Jorah struggles to lead Rhaegal and her dragons inside, they cry for her and huff loudly when they are steered into Illyrio’s palace. “I will reclaim my throne soon. I will do what my brother could not and I will reign fire and spill blood over Westeros.”
“And I would have you follow me to council, as you did my brother.” Dany presents Illyrio with her offer. “I will be in need of a master of coin.”
Illyrio is still stunned from seeing her children as he bows to her. “Khaleesi I would be honoured. Please,” He turns his body and gestures to the door. “I welcome you and your khalasar into my home once more.”
It has not changed much since she left. Compared to Xaro Xhaon Daxos’ house it seems smaller and less grand but it is full of real riches and a homely feeling she’s only just started to recapture on the way through the Free Cities. Illyrio has his servants follow them through, offering her sweet wines and food even before they reach his main hall.
The sun creeps down out of sight of the windows casting an orange haze in the room. Her dragons crow at the loss of heat.
“Will they share your room Khaleesi?” Illyrio asks. “I can have another set up for your closest handmaids if you need.” He searches for them but comes back with no faces.
“They will, and I am afraid I no longer have any handmaids to attend me,” She states. Jorah offers to take her dragons to her room. She will let no one else. “Nor do I require any.”
“Of course Khaleesi.” Illyrio accepts her request. “Your khalasar can make their way to the second hall where we will provide food and music.”
“I have near ten thousand.” Only a quarter of what Drogo used to command. “Do you have the room?”
Illyrio nods. “Soon you will have more khaleesi, and I will still have room.”
In the end many find a place behind the walls of his Pentos grounds. Some erect tents while others gladly sleep on the floors of warmer halls and rooms. She can hear many singing songs from where she takes her food in a smaller hall with Illyrio alone. Ikko offered to stay at her side but she ushers him off, knowing that he has had his eye on a Meereen woman since she started traveling with their khalasar, and he may not get this chance again.
“They sing in your honour Khaleesi.” Illyrio pours himself more wine after she refuses. She can’t afford to let herself go. “You have commanded a loyal following.”
“We shall see.” Dany sighs. “I burnt many of their cities and their homes to claim them. I feel more like a Khal than a Queen.”
“Kings and Queens have done far worse in the name of their rules.” He takes his cup and leans back in his chair. They both watch the sun begin to set from the comfort of a round table. She remembers this room well from when she sat to eat with her brother and listen to his promises of a future. Now it is just her. “They know that they will be rewarded well when you take back your kingdoms.”
“Some won’t make it that far.” She admits.
“No.” He agrees. “But many will be in it for the glory. For the songs that they will write of your battles and your victory. A chance for them to live on longer than they would have if they’d stayed.”
If they hadn’t have come she would have laid waste to their homes. She knows that she has to prove herself a good leader to them before their true loyalty will be with her. Many are just scared. She hopes this hospitality will be another stepping stone to that loyalty.
“I am happy to see you Khaleesi.” Illyrio sets his cup aside and smiles at her. His beard is a little longer and he is fatter than she left him. Whereas she has grown thinner and harder. “Though I did not doubt that you would return this way.”
“How so?” Even she wasn’t aware that she was headed towards Pentos until she started sending Ravens for him.
“This is the easiest route to King’s Landing. I knew that you would come back here in some shape or form.” Illyrio waves away the servants that bring them more food. “I did not expect you to return with little of who you set out with.”
Dany looks out of the near window because it is easier than seeing the pity in his face. “My brother made many mistakes on the road to Vaes Dothrak. His death was inevitable.”
They buried his body outside the lands of Vaes Dothrak. Drogo was adamant that he was not of their people, and unlike her, he would not be buried with them. Her own death feels so strange to think about. Will she lie underneath the ground on the shore of Westeros or be returned to Vaes Dothrak to be buried with the Dosh Khaleen?
“Your husband?” This may have been the first question to be asked, since there is no Khal leading her khalasar and no Drogo sitting at her side.
“Killed by a Maegi.” Daenerys forces the words out. “He died and she brought him back but he was not the same.”
They did not have time to take his ashes to Vaes Dothrak. They lie under warm sand somewhere in the Red Waste. He waits for her in the Night Lands because she could not fulfil her duty to him and because she killed him.
“There are many dangerous magics in the word Khaleesi.” Illyrio looks at her in sympathy even when she makes eye contact with him again. Did she really forget that it was he who brought Drogo to her? “Khal Drogo was a master of war and fighting, not even he could defeat an enemy in opposition to his strengths.”
Daenerys does not scream out like she wants to. She wants to overturn the table laid out with fine plates and gold cups with rich wine and rampage through Pentos. She wants to cry out that in the end it was her own hands that took Drogo’s life from this world. It was her fault and her hands will be forever stained in his blood. Her sun and stars-
Instead she agrees. “Yes. And now I am here.”
“Here with the ash of a city following your path.”
Her hands are black underneath the skin from all of the fire. “And more if they get in my way.”
Illyrio pauses for a moment as he eats as if that would encourage her to do the same but the conversation is too dull for her appetite to surface. “I would not have thought that I would ever see a dragon in my lifetime.”
“You were not as surprised as I thought you might be.” She notes. “Most people scream.”
He laughs. “I am not most people. It helps as well that someone told me of your children’s existence some three weeks before you arrived.”
Three weeks? Three weeks ago they still rode through the Flat Lands undetected and deadly. “Who?”
“A source from King’s Landing. I would have thought it to be Ser Jorah but he appears to have traveled by your side constantly. He is the only man who could have known about them.”
This makes her heart beat faster in panic. They have not been as invisible as she thought. “Someone in King’s Landing knows of my dragons?”
“Yes,” Illyrio leaves his food as the topic turns. Her seriousness has startled him. “Someone who apparently wanted me to know many other things as well.”
“A change in the tides in Westeros. Robert Baratheon is dead, his son Joffrey now sits on the throne.”
“Robert Baratheon is dead.” This stuns her. She never laid eyes upon him but he was always a threat to her and her brother. A dark and vicious shadow that followed them from city to city ready to slit their throats for something she had no part in other than her blood ties. Now the shadow has disappeared. She has not had any news of the capital since the last attempt on her life before they ransacked the village of the Lhazareen. He is dead and she is alive. “What else?”
Illyrio smiles. “You may read the letters for yourself. There are many and they come often with news from King’s Landing.”
She does. There are over forty them that have been sealed and sent to Illyrio. Some are longer than the others but most are no bigger than a line or two, detailing something of relevance happening in the city.
“How long have you had these?” She asks. There is too much to make sense of and it is late.
“A few months.” He tells her.
She can’t read them all tonight, especially as she’s still reeling from the news that Robert Baratheon, the man who tried to kill her so desperately, is dead.
“You should rest Khaleesi, we have time to discuss these matters in the morning in greater detail.” He ushers his servants in to clear up once they have left and holds out his hand for her to take. “I will happily talk of these affairs with you come tomorrow if it should please you.”
She accepts his hand and nods. “Yes, I-,” Overwhelmed she stops there. “My fleet should arrive within a month or more from Qarth.” She had almost forgot Xaro’s ships. “They will need to land.”
“Tomorrow Khaleesi,” Illyrio leads her into the corridor towards her chambers. “All will be settled.”
Jorah watches for her ships every other day as her dothraki bloodriders, Ikko, Korvarro and Aggo are hesitant to go near the sea just yet. They spend their days on horseback, riding around Pentos, to get used to the area again.
She doesn’t leave Illyrio’s palace for the first month. She takes her meals with Illyrio daily and only has the barest of guards. He discusses the letters and the news he receives in return for her own news. He looks upon her as a daughter he has missed dearly since her marriage to Khal Drogo and as they spend more time together she begins to find comfort in his fatherly presence.
“There is war brewing you say?” Dany has shed her dothraki garbs in the last few days but wearing the dresses Illyrio has found for her feel strange like she is betraying a nature she didn’t think to have. “And not the one I plan?”
Illyrio has brought them into the small hall once more. The round table they sit at is full of food and delicacies she hasn’t eaten since Qarth as well as all of the letters he has received from King’s Landing.
They have been going through them for days.
“The North against the South it seems.” Illyrio passes her the note for her to read. “Many of the great Houses in Westeros do not agree with Joffrey on the throne and not just because he is cruel.”
He goes on. “There are rumours that he is not Robert’s heir.”
“I do not know Khaleesi, the letters did not explain, only wrote that there is dissident in the capital.” Illyrio wonders. “Half of the capital is starving and the other is revolting, so to speak.”
“There is an advantage to that.” She says. “My fleet was acquired from a Merchant King in Qarth.”
“Acquired?” Illyrio smirks.
She ignores it as best as she can. “It would be possible to carry a large amount of supplies following our landing. Enough to win favour with the people.”
“Certainly, as long as this food stock does not worsen on the travel over there.” He says. “I would check the winds.”
“The North is in opposition you say?”
“The Starks have called for their banners against Joffrey, they have heard the same news that we do though their rebellion was started because the boy king decided to kill their Lord father and imprison his sisters.”
Dany closes her eyes. “They always go for the children.”
“Striking the heart makes many men more willing to kneel.”
Her heart must have then turned to stone. “What of the Usurper’s brothers?”
Illyrio searches through the notes once more. “Stannis Baratheon sits on Dragonstone but he has declared himself against Joffrey. Robert’s younger brother, Renly, fled the capital after Eddard Stark’s capture but he too has declared himself against Joffrey and is calling himself King in Highgarden.”
“Yes, Khaleesi.” He agrees. “But all of them believe to have more of a claim to the throne.”
“The throne belongs to the Targaryens.”
“The throne belongs to those who have the power to take it.” Illyrio counters politely. “I believe that you have that power.”
Dany places the letter down. “I am the blood of the dragon, stormborn and the rightful Queen of the Andals and the first men.” She falters. “I have the power but I do not have the sight ser, I do not recognise any of these names.”
“Nor would your brother.” Illyrio offers. “Much has changed in Westeros since Ser Darry took you as a babe and your brother to Braavos.”
“I need to know it all.” The houses, the lords, the lands, the people and all those beyond. What is a Queen if she does not know her kingdoms?
Illyrio settles with a certain pride written across his face. “I can help you learn Khaleesi. I have many books on the histories and houses of the seven kingdoms, many that you would have studied since your ninth name day already if circumstances had been different.”
“Will it take me six years?” Dany smiles. There is something familiar in this.
Illyrio shakes his head. “No, Khaleesi.”
He brought her to the library in his house. There were thousands of books stacked floor to ceiling. Some with titles in languages she couldn’t even understand. Others that held pictures rather than letters. Illyrio took many and asked servants to bring more.
It was not accomplished in an afternoon. The great houses of the Seven Kingdoms and their banners are a tedious journey. She marveled at the writings of her own house. The victories of Aegon and his sisters. The glory of Valyria and the birth of dragons. Her own name was marked there and Illyrio confessed to writing it.
“These books may outlive us all, Khaleesi. This is where your legacy starts.”
Targaryen soon made way for Lannister and their Lions. Everything she could, she committed to memory. Their Lords, their lands and their banners. All would fall for their crimes. Starks in the North, Winterfell, their lords and words. Tully, Tyrell, Baratheon, Greyjoy; she even passed Mormont and traced a finger over Jorah’s own name while he was stood outside the room in guard. Baelish, Darry, Fisher, Selmy, Tarth, Slynt, Manning, Blackwood, Frey, Arryn, Umber, Hornwood, Clegane, Florent and more and more and more.
She looked on maps and Illyrio showed her just what her lands entailed. He taught her histories and words and the laws of her lands.
Sometimes her head ached to be left alone to rest in her room with her dragons who seemed to grow each time she laid eyes on them. They were almost the size of her horses now with the appetite to match. A far cry from the tiny hatchlings she played with in Qarth.
Soon though, the histories ran out and word came that her ships would be here within two weeks, and Illyrio lays a blank book before her.
“I don’t understand.”
“You have everything I can give you from my library. There will no doubt be a more extensive collection in King’s Landing that will tell you more of your father’s reign and thereafter. But only you can fill in the empty space of your birth to now.”
Dany touches the book. “You want me to write my own history?”
“Write or tell it. I would be happy to hear it either way.” Illyrio says. They are settled in the small hall as always but he has brought ink for her now. “They will ask of it soon anyway. People will clamour to know of how you grew up and the hardships you overcame.”
“I don’t think I can write it.” She admits. “And I’m not the greatest story teller.”
No, but she knew someone who was.
“It is not for you to paint a picture Khaleesi,” Illyrio tells her. “Leave that to the man with the pen. It is only your truth that matters. History is written by all, but the truth is what you make it.”
Ikko enters soon after to escort her to the larger hall. She has been taking an audience with her people more frequently to inform them of things and listen to their desires. The more time she spends with them, the more they come to respect her. They all name her Khaleesi now. They are her khalasar.
“Tomorrow my dear Illyrio,” She swears. “But I cannot promise that it will be a tale you want to hear.”
Viserion sets fire to the stables in his restlessness and it collapses, killing several of her khalasar’s horses. Illyrio tells her to pay no heed to the accident but it worries her. They grow and grow but she keeps them locked down to one place. They miss the open Dothraki grass seas and the flatlands. They need to fly.
It’s a warning for how she must adapt to them in Westeros.
Ikko and her bloodriders are still the few who are not scared of her dragons. “Take Viserion and Rhaegal to the edge of the flatlands and let them fly.” She says but elects to keep Drogon close in case something goes wrong.
They leave and Jorah falls into her side once more. She isn’t used to his close company since leaving Qarth, and with echoes of laughter in her head, she asks him to stay outside the door when she enters her chambers where Illyrio is waiting to listen to her.
She asked for it to be done here. The comfort of her room calms her and Drogon naps on her bed after the excitement of the morning. Dany wants to keep close to him.
“Where can I start?” She questions herself. “I barely remember leaving Westeros. Ser Darry, who saved us from the Usurper’s blade, told me that I was plucked from my mother’s breast and hidden on a ship that sailed for Braavos with Viserys. I don’t remember much of my early years other than a Red door.”
When Ser Darry died they were shuffled out of the house they had lived in. Viserys was fourteen when they began to wander the Free Cities. They called him the Beggar King. They mocked him and she never knew why until she was married to Drogo. Her brother grew bitter and half mad as the years passed and his throne stayed out of his reach.
“Then we came here and you welcomed us for a year and treated us like royalty.” Dany strokes Drogon’s head. “I never saw him as happy as I did when he was here.”
“For all his misgivings, your brother was just a boy who wanted to go home as much as you did.” Illyrio reasons.
“He was lost on the way.” Dany shakes her thoughts of him out. She feels fonder of him now that he is dead but she can’t get rid of the trauma in her mind nor the fear that she would anger him enough to strike her. “He was not the dragon the kingdoms called for.”
She recalls his death in detail for Illyrio, starting from his striking of her handmaids to the mistake of him threatening her unborn child.
When she is finished and his pen stills she returns back to Pentos and to her wedding to Drogo.
“I did not love him at first.”
“But I grew to. How could I not?” She lets herself smile quickly. “He loved me and accepted me as one of his people. His people loved and respected me. They would do anything for him and anything for me.”
“The dothraki do hold certain biases towards women,” Illyrio adds. “But their khaleesi is usually treated with respect.”
“It’s all I knew. It’s all the women in my company knew either.” She then sighs. “That may have been my mistake. In trying to protect them all I-”
If she had not saved Miri Maz Duur from Drogo’s men she would have never have offered to heal Drogo, he may have been saved by the dothraki healers, he may have lived. Maybe Jorah was right. Maybe she did have a gentle heart.
“I have made many mistakes since leaving Pentos, Illyrio.” Dany admits quietly. “I fear that was the biggest one.”
“You cannot save everyone Khaleesi. Some people are far beyond your help.”
“Not everyone.” She whispers. “Drogo was after she cursed him, my son was because he was taken from me, my dragons where when they were stolen from me but-”
“I’m getting ahead of myself. The story does not end with Drogo’s death.” She turns away from the topic and the person she is avoiding to capture a picture Illyrio needs to hear. Their terror and trials in the Red Waste that killed one of her bloodriders and Irri’s lover, Rakharo and led them to the great city of Qarth.
She tells him of their troubles in gaining entry to the city and how one of the Thirteen council there took her in under his name.
“It was there that I spared someone.” Dany finishes. “I spared someone but I did not save her.”
“She was a handmaiden of mine. You may have met her. Viserys bought her within the khalasar to teach me to-” She blushes but Illyrio shows no sign of judgement and she carries on. “-teach me how to please Khal Drogo.”
“You became close.” He guesses.
“Very. She was there throughout everything. She carried my dragons to Qarth. She fed them. She helped Irri nurse me back to health after Rhaego’s death,” The more she goes on the harder it becomes not to utter her name or picture her face.
“In Qarth I needed information and she would get it for me.” Dany stills her hand on Drogon’s head, remembering what she said to Doreah. “She grew up in a pleasure house and was skilled in making men talk to her, so I asked for her to do this.”
“I do not know what happened but sometime later she was involved with Xaro Xhoan Daxos-”
“The Merchant King you acquired your ships from?”
“He wished to marry me, or so he said, but instead he plotted to take over Qarth by killing the Thirteen. They are the highest and richest members of Qarth. My dragons had been taken, Irri had been killed, and he suggested I plead to them.” Old fear and shock rises in her voice. “Before he killed them in front of me and it was revealed that my dragons were in the House of the Undying.”
She slows as this comes out. She describes how she, Jorah and Ikko made their way to the House of the Undying and how she entered alone.
“What I saw is not for you to write.” She orders and he stops. This is a truth that no history book will claim from her but Illyrio listens gratefully and hears of her seeing the Red Keep and reaching for the throne. He doesn’t express anything as she tells him of Drogo and her son waiting for her in the Night Lands or of her leaving him to wait there.
“He is a good man, Khaleesi.”
“To me he was.” She agrees.
She allows him to start scribbling again as she tells him of Drogon burning the Warlock that took them and of her recovery of her dragons.
It is starting to darken when she gets to her return to Xaro Xhoan Daxos’ house and the memory of what she found there.
“She was with him. Doreah.” Dany finally surrenders her name. “Sleeping next to him without care. I had not seen her for days and she had been with him.”
“Did you confront her?”
Dany looks at him in confusion. “I almost killed her. She betrayed me and Xaro took my dragons.”
Illyrio raises his hand. “I meant no disrespect Khaleesi. Continue.”
His words have thrown her. “I woke them both and took the key to Xaro’s vault. He claimed to be the richest man in all of Qarth. I planned to take his riches and buy an army to sail to Westeros.”
“You have his ships.”
“He had ships but no riches.”
The vault was empty and dark. She tells Illyrio how she turned to him and thanked him before Ikko and Korvarro forced him inside and locked the vault behind him.
“Jorah said to me that he had stopped banging on the vault when we left.”
“What of the girl?”
What of her? She wonders to herself. Doreah did not emerge from Xaro’s house while she was still there though Jorah claims that she fled the city. How far could she have gotten with no food, no gold and no protection?
“I banished her from my family. I spared her life.” To this day she knows why. Underneath all of the betrayal she still looked at Doreah, through her anger and her madness, and saw the girl that brought her closer to her husband, saw the girl who looked after her and cared for her. She was devoted to her.
“I sometimes wonder if leaving her there was the right thing to do.” Dany confides in Illyrio. “I left her there to die.”
Illyrio takes her hand. “The path to the seven kingdoms was always going to be difficult Khaleesi. Sometimes sacrifices are always going to have to be made.”
“I let her live.”
“Not all sacrifices call for death.” The thought hadn’t occurred to her. Illyrio continues. “And people will love you more for it. A good ruler does not depend on the loyalty of her subjects through fear but from devotion. A fearful kingdom will happily turn their backs on the one who comes to save them from their fear.”
That is what happened to her father, Aerys II Targaryen.
Illyrio stands and turns to her. “A devoted kingdom will rise up and defend you.”
A voice slices through their warmth conversation.
“But a merciful Queen will inspire no loyalty.” Ser Jorah stands in the entry of her room. He looks at Illyrio distrustingly. “You did what was necessary in Qarth. The death of Xaro Xhoan Daxos was called for in his betrayal.”
She did not call for him to enter.
“I do not appreciate your tone Ser Jorah.” Dany rises from her place on the bed after Illyrio.
His presence is an interruption of her time with Illyrio. She didn’t summon him yet there he stands in his old armor but no sword at his side.
“You should have killed her too.” He saw how she paused while Doreah slept. Her hands ready to strangle her while she slept but instead she woke them both and left Doreah to starve for a few days and exiled her.
“It is not your place to question the actions of your future Queen, Ser Jorah.” Illyrio defends her. “Sparing the life of one Dothraki handmaid has no adverse affect on the loyalty of her future kingdoms.”
“No.” Dany echoes. “It does not. What problem do you have, Ser Jorah, with sparing Doreah’s life? She was a devoted handmaiden.”
“Until the day she betrayed you.”
“Loyalty is hard to forget, Ser Jorah.” Illyrio comments. Dany frowned in confusion as Jorah glared at the merchant. “The action of sparing her life has probably affected Doreah in a lot of ways. It may even be suggested that her loyalty has grown.”
“Loyalty and affection are not the same thing.” Jorah remarks.
She didn’t expect that to be used against her. It is no secret that since Drogo’s death, she had grown much closer to her handmaidens, Doreah especially. Jorah had said nothing at the time but now she sees it in his eyes. The jealousy. How long has that resided there? How many times has he held his tongue as she called for Doreah to keep her company, to share her food, to raise her dragons and share her bedroll?
“Doreah was my closest friend.” Dany starts her words carefully. She doesn’t want him gaining the upper hand in this while she is still so raw from telling Illyrio everything that has happened to her. “I spared her life because it was necessary.”
“Khaleesi, how can you hope to rule a kingdom if you spare those that show you any kind of affection? People will not follow you.”
“You dishonour yourself Ser Jorah. You offend me by attacking my actions which I followed through with.” Dany’s voice grates in the back of her throat and she rises from her seat, staring the knight down. “I did not have to leave her alive but a good Queen, a good Khaleesi knows when to show mercy.”
She sees Illyrio nod in approval of her words and understands more what he was trying to teach her. She will definitely be bringing him to council.
“Not when that mercy may cost you the loyalty of your people!”
“I have NO people!” Dany screams and he takes the step back she has been waiting for. “The last of my people died out in the Red Waste. The last of my people were killed by Xaro. The last of my people I left to starve and exiled.” His face grows smaller in her eyes like she’s seeing his true nature for the first time.
The people who reside with her in Pentos belong to her but they are not truly hers. And-
“The people of Westeros-”
“The people of Westeros don’t even know I am alive!” She embodies rage. “They do not sow banners for Dragons or whisper secret toasts. They swear fealty to Stags and Lions while I sit here and listen to you say that I should be more ruthless?”
Dany wants to laugh in his face. “My dragons are reaching maturity. Their fires have already burnt three cities to the ground. Half of the Free Cities fear a hell they cannot name. I will lay siege to not one kingdom,” She taunts his previous mistake. “But seven and there will not be a man, woman or child who does not know my name.”
She takes a step forward. Drogon has clambered to the floor beside her, he is only one still able to fit inside her room at the size of a Stallion, and he opens his black jaw. Dany turns her hand down. Jorah will not burn here.
“Do you think I will do this without bloodshed?” She asks. “I will murder and burn and kill anyone who opposes me to the throne. They will burn like Qarth and they will take me as their Khaleesi.”
Jorah says nothing but there is disapproval in his face.
“And you question why I kept her alive?” Dany keeps the hurt out of her voice by sheer force of will.
“Yes.” He answers simply. Her words have not gotten through to him.
Dany shakes her head and takes a roll of parchment from her desk. “My sources in King’s Landing tell me that my time to cross is coming soon. The capital is weak after Stannis Baratheon’s attack and there isn’t a city that can withstand an aerial attack.” She produces the letter to him. “They also sent good news for you.”
Jorah takes the paper from her hand slowly. She watches him read it just to see him realize what she now knows.
“They expected to hear from you when I was due to land.” The letter he holds was not from her source, but from his. “They expected to hear how well my dragons had grown and how strong of an army I possess and how you were going to try and stop me.”
He has a royal pardon from the hand of Robert Baratheon and he thinks that she didn’t know this? Did he think that Illyrio would not show her? This is the reason she has distanced herself from him.
“You question why I saved Doreah’s life when you stand there committing a treason far beyond hers.” Dany’s voice echoes and Drogon surges up on his legs to surround her. Jorah will make no move if he wants to leave alive. “You are no Ser. You are a false knight and I would kill you where you stand.”
“Then why haven’t you Khaleesi?” He asks. His question is posed with sincerity but she can almost taste the mockery underneath it.
But she is far past tolerance or mercy now. The last of it she gave to Doreah, and would again over this man, if the choice came to it. She bears him no love, like he does for her, but she does not want Drogon’s first true kill to be tainted by a blood that was sworn to her. No. His will be Joffrey Baratheon’s.
“Because it is not my kill to make.” The doors to her chambers creak open and several of her Dothraki guard enter, alerted by her cries. They form a wall around Jorah. “It is theirs.”
Jorah’s hand discards the letter and rushes to his side to grab a sword that is not there. He looks at her as if she is the one who has betrayed him. Dany takes a seat at the edge of her bed and sees Illyrio move back to accommodate Drogon.
“I swore to serve you.” He spits out. The Dothraki wait for her command. He will be an easy prey for them to cut down. His armor is worn and dented and he has no weapon.
Dany holds out her hand for Drogon to come. His scales are hot under her palm. “And a Khaleesi swears that betrayal does not go unpunished.”
“You asked me why I showed mercy to Doreah.” The end for men is truly unjust, she thinks, if they are unfulfilled. It is why she imagines her brother in torment as he was unable to attain his crown and why Drogo sits in the Night Lands waiting for her because they did not cross together. Jorah is unfulfilled and demanding satisfaction, daring to anger her while he is outnumbered and denying death.
“Yes.” It is his final challenge to her authority. The one thing he will continue to fight against. What is Doreah’s crime to his? Which of them is worse? She knows the answer.
“I found her sleeping with the man that wronged me.” Dany flutters her eyes and the Dothraki behind Jorah, Ikko, takes the first swing with his arakh and lobs Jorah’s unprotected head from his body.
Jorah’s eyes are still twitching in his skull before his body even hits the ground. His affection for her did not save him. Just like Drogo’s love and her brother’s affection for her did not save them either.
Drogon whines in amusement as she touches him. Dany doesn’t blink as the number of her khalasar that are truly loyal to her cause dwindles to none. “And I loved her more than you.”
Without his protection her queensguard is no more and she keeps her bloodriders closer than ever and her dragons hidden at all times. Illyrio offers to search all of Pentos for the noblest of men but she has had enough of men who claim nobility, preferring Ikko and Aggo to any man Illyrio could offer her.
She accomplishes more in the wake of his death. Not realizing just how much his presence was hindering her, like it was once hindering her brother. Dany no longer fears too look behind her because she dislikes the affection in his face. Now she looks back and sees only pride in Ikko’s eyes or the satisfied grin on Aggo’s face. They protect her and they, like Drogo’s bloodriders, will do so until she dies.
Her ships are still a while off and she takes up Jorah’s role of waiting for them by the harbour, taking the chance of being outside to stroll through the Pentos markets and tradesmen. She haggles as well as she did with Drogo’s khalasar and returns after the first day with several short knives and leather bracelets. When Illyrio chuckles over her petty amusements she tells him that although she is wearing fine clothes, she will sail to Westeros as a Khaleesi and take the throne with a dothraki khalasar leading her into the fray.
Days pass a little easier. No news comes from King’s Landing so her walks to the market to await her ships become something to do. Dany has grown tired of telling her tales to Illyrio. She has never been much of a story teller and some things are hard to put into words.
Drogo’s love and the feeling in her heart she had when he lay beside her. The noise of the bells in his hair signifying each victory. She spares him the details of her pregnancy as well. There are too many moments that she cannot give from her heart into words. History does not need to use this.
She still heeds Illyrio’s advice.
“We do not know what Jorah may have sent to Westeros. It would be best to wait.” He says on an afternoon a few days after Jorah’s death. “Wait and let your strength grow. Your dragons would reach maturity faster and many more men could be called to your cause.”
“My people grow restless.” She states. They have been for weeks. Especially the dothraki. “They will not wait.”
“Send them to Braavos to seek men.” Illyrio suggests. “They will have the flatlands to explore and freedom to travel on your command.”
He urges her to give him a year to gather forces for her. To prepare her army and to teach her all she will need to know of her Kingdoms.
“Less than half a year.” She bargains. “Westeros will not stay weak forever.”
“You shall not stay so unprepared either Khaleesi.” He smiles and talks of equipping her with a blade and teaching her to face fear. It makes her laugh because she can walk through fire and come out unburnt. She has faced death thrice over. She has been betrayed three times and stands quite alone on the shores of Pentos wishing she was crossing now.
Yet he is right and Ikko teaches her to swing an arakh. It is far too heavy for her frame but afternoons pass and her arms grow stronger. She will not be able to take the head off a man as easily as he can but when she can fight and avoid cuts herself, as good as any dothraki man, Illyrio gifts her with a sword of her own.
“It is beautiful.” She utters in awe. She unsheathes it from its scabbard and holds it up to the light. The handle is black with accents of silver and the blade has been engraved. “Dothraki words.”
“It seemed fitting for a dothraki Khaleesi.”
She smiles as she reads it aloud. Vaz Yolat. Ikko looks impressed, even though he favours his arakh more than he ever will a sword, and she gives it him to hold for her. “Storm Born.”
A sword named for her birth. A sword to take back the Seven Kingdoms. “Yer chomoe anna.” She slips back into dothraki and the words feel like home on her tongue. Illyrio smiles in understanding. ‘You have honoured me.’
She never leaves without it. The dothraki look at her a little more with a weapon strapped to her hip and Illyrio finds her a teacher. A man from Braavos comes to her each afternoon in exchange for shelter and the promise that he will be able to fight for her.
It escapes her just how many of the men that have joined her do not ask for gold in return for their service but the chance to battle beside her. Is honour really worth more than coin?
The sword is harder to master than the arakh. It is more precise and longer. The Braavosi, Eli, teaches her to dance with her sword. To dodge and watch and lie in wait. Illyrio watches them duel curiously and she feels a fire inside her. She has been leading men willing to fight for her, but fighting for herself is a new thrill entirely.
When she mentions to him that she is sending men to Braavos to gather forces he offers to join her Dothraki party and search for them. “They will be more compliant to one of their own, Khaleesi. No man of Braavos will be swayed by men of the dothraki seas.”
They believe them to be savages, his voice betrays, but I know better.
He leaves after a day and Aggo takes his party North towards Braavos.
The next day she stands in Illyrio’s courtyard holding Storm Born in one hand. She has not mastered anything by far but she follows the motions Eli has thus given her. She moves in steps, a dance, light across the yard while her khalasar goes about their routines. Some attend to the horses while others are helping to rebuild the stables that Viserion burnt down. Others watch her work. Some shout encouragement to her and cheer when her form works out.
A few soldiers that joined her in Meereen offer to practice with her and she finds herself dancing with them. She isn’t as skillful as them but the edge of their swords pointed at her make her blood rush and she imagines this as more than a practice bout. Dany matches them as much as she can. Blocking and striking, though carefully as Illyrio has not serviced everyone with armor yet, until the men are sweating and she is smiling at their praise.
They do not look at her and think they are equal, but they look at her and believe she will not treat them as less. “You fight well, Nahl of Meereen.”
Nahl bows. “As do you, Khaleesi.”
She puts her sword away and asks him to follow her, along with two of the others who stepped up; Jacon and Zol. “You shall accompany me to the harbour. There has been word that my ships will land today.” This elicits excitement from many of the men and women whose family had chosen to travel to Pentos on her fleet rather than face the flatlands. She has ten thousand already in Pentos with another fifteen joining her on those ships.
She saddles her own horse as she has been doing since Drogo gifted her with her first. No horse has been as fast or as gentle since Silver. Her chosen men from Meereen follow her as she rides to the harbour. The wind flies through her hair and people part in the streets. Her face is well known now. A few of the braver souls offer up gifts for her to take.
Her men do, but Dany only plucks a white flower from a young girl who offers it up.
The harbour is busy and the people of Pentos are out in force. Dany stays on her horse until they can no longer make their way through people. Jacon takes them and ties them somewhere they won’t be bothered for the duration of their stay.
Nahl and Zol keep with her as she wanders through the crowds. The flower she took from the girl twists in her fingers until the stem is short enough to place in her hair. Her braid keeps it in place. She wonders what she must look like to the rest of the world. A dragon queen. A Khaleesi. A young girl. She feels far more than her fifteen name days. Her sixteenth will soon be upon her. Illyrio talked of having a feast in her honour, as they would have done if she were in Westeros. A tourny would be held in her name and the bravest and greatest of knights would have come to fight for her favour and amusement.
She had waved him off and begged only a small celebration until he reminded her that this feast would not just be for her, but all of her people.
‘For them,’ She relented eventually. They would leave soon after her name day for King’s Landing so let them feast while they are still able to find something to celebrate.
Her hand rests on her sword now that she is used to the weight. She may not be skilled enough to kill anyone who has been well trained but by the time they leave she has sworn to know enough to take down whoever sits on her throne. Be it Joffrey Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon, Robb Stark or any Lannister.
“There they are Khaleesi!” Zol exclaims as they come to a lull in the crowd. She can see clearer now there are not people in her way.
The first of her fleet is coming into dock. “Will the port be big enough?” She wonders.
Nahl answers. “Magister Illyrio says that many of the traders have left or moved their ships in preparation. On Mormont’s order.”
His last act.
“Jacon,” She calls. “Ride back to Illyrio and tell him that we will need more room. Tents need to be set up for those who wish and food.”
“Yes, Khaleesi.” He bids and runs back towards his horse.
They are towering and immense. Zol and Nahl go ahead and make people step back as she walks towards the first. Xaro’s prized merchant sail, The Red Summer, is already throwing down it’s anchor and ropes to people on the docks. People hang over the sides and cheer at the sight of land. And then they see her emerge through the crowds.
Their cheers growl louder. Chants of ‘Khaleesi! Khaleesi!’ fill the afternoon air and if there were people that did not know who she was, they do now. Zol and Nahl look up in awe at the first and whistle in approval as they spot the rest of the eighty four strong fleet start to come up behind it.
“They will need help organising my men.” She says to Zol. “Go up and tell no one to climb ashore just yet but tell them they will have solid ground beneath them and food by nightfall.”
He nods dutifully and races towards the Red Summer and the boards that have been laid down. Fifteen thousand more to join her. By the end of today she will have Twenty Five thousand. How many more when Aggo and Eli return from Braavos? How many will join her when she sails for King’s Landing?
Her resolve only grows as she hears them call for her louder and louder. The journey must have gone well otherwise they may have tried to push past Zol who is now on board. She spots one of the dothraki men that has been with her since she first arrived, Wren, who looks a little bit sea sick but smiles at her.
She is proud that he chose to brave the poison waters and he will be stronger for it. Ikko, Aggo and Korvarro will have to develop this strength in due time.
He, like others, looks down in happiness to see her but even from a distance she sees his expression turn. For a second she thinks he will empty his stomach into the sea but he raises his hand and screams. “Khaleesi!”
“What is wrong with him?” Nahl asks.
She has known this soldier for a few weeks but she has never spoken to him since this afternoon. When she turns to face him and sees the sword bursting through his stomach she wishes he had never stepped up to practice with her.
“Khaleesi!!” Grows louder as Nahl is shoved to the side and his blood drips down the length of a long sword.
Daenerys freezes at the sight of a man in black garb. He has blood on his sword and she shakes as she tries to take hers out. The white flower falls from her hair as he brings the sword up and she pulls hers up to meet it. His force is more than hers and it pushes her to the ground.
People all around her scream and somewhere behind her she can hear Zol and Wren yell for people to get out of their way. They are too far away though and her knees buckle as she pushes back with Storm Born.
He doesn’t let her shake him off. Quickly swinging the sword at her again. Dany backs up and the blade misses her cheek by an inch. Her eyes widen and somehow she remembers Eli’s form and crouches to support her weight. It’s this that saves her from the sword slicing open her belly.
It seems to be where he wants the sword to land. Dany feels hate spit on the end of her tongue. Was one attempt on her child not enough that they have to rip out where he came from too?
She cries out in anger and it surprises him enough to flick her sword against his chin. It’s the closest she’s gotten to wounding him and he screams in return. More in fury than pain. His next swing for her almost has her arm but her dance is solid, if a little quick, and it misses. She finds strength somewhere and it’s like watching the dothraki fight in the Lhazareen again. Swinging and missing and yelling.
In the haze of the memory the black assassin kicks out at her swift feet and she crashes to the floor. Storm Born comes up once more to stop a deadly blow, but it only succeeds in pushing the jab to the side and his sword sticks in the stack of the market cobbles.
That second is all it takes.
He is ravaged in a second. All she can see is a hulking figure take the man to the floor, twisting his arm until an unholy scream sounds out the man’s wrist breaking and his hold on his sword ceases.
‘Drogo’ She thinks. ‘Drogo has come to save me.’
Except this man has white hair and a flowing grey cape that falls from his shoulders and a knife pressed to the assassin's throat before she can even reach for her fallen sword. There’s a disgusting splutter of the man choking on his own blood when the knife cuts through his flesh. She feels flecks of it pitter against her cheek. Her saviour holds his hand there until everything stills and then drops his lifeless form to the floor.
The market watches in dread. Out of all of these people, this man was the only one to step up to save her, he stands with blood on his gloves and determination in his eyes. Sadness.
Zol and Wren fight their way through and come to her side quickly. “Khaleesi, are you hurt?”
“No.” They help her stand but she doesn’t take her eyes away from this bold man. He has the whitest hair she has seen apart from her own and though he is much older than she first expected, he shows no signs of fatigue. “This man saved me.”
She snaps out of her trance when her mind settles again. He is not Drogo. “Someone get rid of this body. Now. Strip him of valuables.”
“He will have nothing on him,” The man speaks. His voice is proud and practiced. The common language. The language of Westeros. “He is a sellsword sent here to kill you.”
Daenerys is wary of him. He has saved her but he keeps a distance to her. “You speak with the common tongue.”
Wren steps forward protectively. His shoulders are tense and he probably feels guilty for not reaching her fast enough. “She is Khaleesi. You will address her, Ifak!”
“Of course,” He acknowledges the dothraki insult and bows deeply. When he rises he looks upon her face. “Forgive me, Daenerys Targaryen, Queen of Meereen and Khaleesi to the Dothraki. Mother of Dragons.”
He knows. He knows of her dragons.
“Your name Ser.” Her voice is hard but she wants to know. He has just saved her life when she thought it didn’t need to be. The ghost of the blade is still pressed to her skin yet he has already dispatched the man to her bloodriders, bleeding from the throat and choking on his own blood, and stands before her while the rest of the market is in quiet chaos over the attack. He knows who she is.
“Khaleesi!” Horses clatter behind the crowds and Illyrio comes forth on his stallion. Jacon and Korvarro have riden with him to the port. He is helped from his horse when he reaches them and stops in surprise at the scene he has stumbled upon. “What has happened?”
“An attempt on my life,” She replies coolly. “Apparently there are still people I cannot trust in Pentos.”
Illyrio nods. “Disperse the crowd,” He orders Jacon. “This man-”
“Barristan Selmy.” He replies. His hair is a shocking white and he wears his age with dignity but wields his sword with a youth unseen, even from Jorah. His eyes though, they are the saddest she has seen.
“Barristan the Bold.” Illyrio adds. “I thought you to be in Westeros. Serving the King.”
Dany takes a step back from this man’s bloodied sword. He wears a sullied armor but she can see the white underneath where he has tried to blacken it. Kingsguard.
“I have served many Kings, Illyrio.” He surprises them all by addressing her host fondly. “But my loyalty is to justice and peace in the realm.”
She doesn’t move back again at this. “You seek to bring the King’s peace here.” Dany states. Her spine ripples and she wishes now that she had a weapon to hand. “By killing me?”
Barristan smiles and then shocks her men a second time by sheathing his sword. “No your Grace. I seek to bring peace to Westeros. A Queen’s peace.” He takes her careful silence as a nod to continue. “I have served many King’s your grace, never a Queen. I served your father as a member of his Kingsguard.”
“My brother knew of you.” She interrupts him. “You fought against the rebellion for my father and the Targaryens.”
“Yes, your grace.” Barristan confirms. “Your house was the one that I vowed to serve when I first joined the Kingsguard. Though I admit that I continued to serve the two kings that followed him after.”
“You did so loyally, it seems.” Dany acknowledges. “I must say, Ser, I don’t understand why you are here though my life is indebted to you because of it.” She spits out this fact and worries what will be asked of her in return. Viserys never liked to be in debt to anyone. He preferred to promise and distract while taking what they needed and never returning.
Illyrio becomes wary of their surroundings and ushers them further into the market place. There they find a small square with a fountain to hold a quieter conversation. When they arrive, Barristan continues.
“King’s Landing is not the place it was during your father’s time. There is no honour in serving a King who would happily send hired swords to murder a woman and her child nor one that is too young to understand the consequences of war or duty or honour.” Barristan Selmy doesn’t disguise the anger in his voice and she realizes that the woman and child he refers to is herself. He looks to her flat stomach. “Did he succeed your grace? Robert Baratheon was a headstrong King, but no one at his side, not even his hand, thought he would kill your child.”
Everyone seems to swallow back their discomfort and grief before she answers. “He did not succeed. There was a wine merchant in- who tried. But my child,” She touches at her stomach and stops. A Khaleesi doesn’t need to explain what she does not want to. It has not been long and she still bears marks to show for it. “My child never lived Ser Barristan.”
“Your grace, I am sorry.” He bows his head for her.
“Why have you come here?” She asks, wanting to remove herself from this sadness. “To tell me of King’s Landing or your service?”
“No, your grace. I have come to swear my fealty to you.” Before her he takes a knee. His grey cape pools on the floor and he keeps his eyes on the ground. “And to join your forces to help you reclaim the throne.”
Something twists in her stomach. A delighted knot. “You would do this against your king?”
“I have no king, your grace.” Barristand refutes. “Joffrey Baratheon is a boy and a sadist and a bastard son with no right to the crown.”
This is new information.
“No one other than a Targaryen has any right to the crown.” Dany utters, to herself mostly, but Selmy nods too. “Ser Barristan.”
He is truly a knight through and through and even in his old age he looks ready to cut through anything that comes against him. His sad eyes look at her like he has found what he was searching for. A spark of hope.
“You have saved my life and I would give you something in return for this noble act.” Dany recites. She holds her hand out to Korvarro. “Your Arakh.”
She has a sword but Barristan is swearing to her as a Khaleesi, not a Queen and so the traditional weapon of the dothraki will be used now to bind Ser Barristan to her. He passes the handle to her. The weight dips her hand but she grips it firmly as she places the blade on Ser Barristan’s right shoulder. “You would swear your loyalty to me and the House Targaryen.”
“I would.” Loyalty to her house.
To the other shoulder. “To protect the Seven Kingdoms and the realm in my name.”
“I would.” Duty to her kingdoms.
“And all those to follow in the Targaryen line.”
“I would.” Honour bound to her family and her dragons.
“Then rise Ser Barristan, as I would name you head of my queensguard.” Dany removes the sword and a thrill fills her quickly at the look on Ser Barristan’s face. Shock. Awe. Graciousness. She hands the arakh to Korvarro without looking at him.
“Your Grace, this honour-”
The honor is not finished. When she knows she can trust him and he has proven his loyalty to her, there may be other uses for his prowess.
“Calls for new armor.” Dany has to look up at him now that he is standing. His shadow engulfs her and for a man she has only known of in stories and known now for a few moments, she is calmed. “Illyrio, see to it that Ser Barristan is fitted with the best armor Pentos has to offer. He will need it.”
She is slowly building a council. She has the start of a Queensguard. She has a Master of Coin. She will need a Maester and her bloodriders, Ikko and the others, will be sworn into her personal guard. What of her master of whispers, or ships or laws? These will no doubt come in time but first she must wait for more news.
Ser Barristan disappoints her by admitting he is not and has no knowledge of Illyrio’s source in King’s Landing. They send more letters frequently and urgently but no more come. Robert Baratheon is dead. Joffrey Baratheon, a bastard, has claimed her throne and men all over the Seven Kingdoms are at war and claiming themselves to be false kings.
King of the North.
King of the Iron islands.
King in Highgarden.
There will soon be no kings at all. Only a queen. A khaleesi.
Ser Barristan presents himself to her a few days later in armour of black and red. He wears a blood red cape that could be mistaken as Lannister garb if not for the three headed dragon the craftsmen of Pentos have engraved into the breastplate.
“I never thought I would see the day I would serve your house once more, your grace.” He says proudly as they sit inside Illyrio’s mansion. They have taken the small hall while her twenty five thousand strong army feasts inside Illyrio’s walls and in the tents of her khalasar outside Pentos. Here though, she dines with Illyrio and Selmy and her dragons.
“You have come at a dire time, Ser.” Illyrio charms. He has gifted Selmy as much as he has all of his guests. The armor he wears is impressive and Illyrio claims that all men and women of her personal guard may be presented with the same when she comes to King’s Landing. “We have recently lost one of Daenerys’ personal guards.”
An army of black dragons. A Queensguard.
“He was killed?” Selmy questions. “Are you attacked frequently, your grace?”
He hasn’t quite gotten used to calling her Khaleesi but she cannot change everything in a day and he has been attentive in the days following the ambush.
“My dothraki men killed him.” She states bringing a small cup of wine to her lips. “Jorah Mormont was conspiring against me by sending information of my whereabouts to King’s Landing.”
“Mormont?” Selmy echoes. “Mormont of the Bear Islands?”
“Yes.” She confirms.
“I feel I have much to learn, your grace.” Selmy admits.
She already knows his story. Cast out by Joffrey for failing to protect his drunken usurper father, he decided to align himself with the true heir to the Iron Throne. Men all over Westeros have expected to see him ride with Stannis, Renly or Robb. “They truly do not know that a storm is coming, your grace.” He told her.
Illyrio calls for more wine and food and Daenerys makes sure that her dragons have enough to eat before her host rumbles in amusement. “I know the story well enough, if you give me leave to tell it Khaleesi?”
Dany nods, the wine is making her drowsy, and she will not be able to stay to listen to him tell it for long. She manages well enough, smiling as Illyrio makes her simple retelling of her wedding to Drogo sound like it actually felt. A celebration and unity of two great powers. The feast that went on all day and the many gifts that were offered up, including her dragon’s eggs and Jorah’s service.
However when Illyrio starts to talk of Drogo gifting her with a horse she feels tears prick behind her eyes and she excuses herself for the night.
Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal are too big to be kept in her room now so she leads them to the underground pit that was once used as a dungeon. Illyrio has taken down all of the bars and the space is big enough now for all three of her dragons to occupy. They are as weary as she is and soon after she brings them down they are sleeping.
But she doesn’t leave them.
Illyrio’s words and the wine have unhinged her. Crawling under Viserion’s great wing Daenerys settles to sleep. The days have been too sudden and panicked since the attempt on her life and mistaking Ser Barristan as Drogo has only hurt her more. She clings to the warmth of her dragon’s body and quietly lets the tears fall and dreams come.
Drogo is waiting for her in the Night Lands. She is in his tent once more. Rhaego is sleeping under horse skin. Drogo comes to her and wraps his arms around her body. She collapses into him. Strong and warm. Her fingers grip at his tan skin and she spots the tiny black marks she inked into his body.
“Moon of my life.” He groans at the feeling of her in his arms.
She closes her eyes and takes in the familiar smell of him. The bells in his hair chime when he picks her up and she wraps her legs around him. “My sun and stars. My love.”
It’s not long before she’s kissing him. He holds her like she weighs nothing and her lips brush his over and over. His beard is soft against her chin and under her fingers when she touches his cheek. The scar on his eye is traced while she whimpers into his mouth. There is nothing to compare to this feeling. This feeling that they are alive and together and this is the life that they have.
When she is here in his arms she has let go of the Iron Throne and there is only the future of the khalasar they will lead until their son comes of age.
She feels him grow hard against her and her body aches for him to lay with her. But not here, not with her son sleeping so soundly. “Let him dream,” She smiles against his mouth. “You will have me before the night sky and the stars will look upon us.”
Outside the tent there is only fresh grass and a cool breeze. Tents of the khalasar are littered around them. People will see them but the dothraki are not shameful people. They will rejoice in their act. The stars themselves will shine for them.
“Yer zheanae.” Drogo lowers them to the ground and utters to her. He cannot whisper, his voice is too thick and coarse but his words to her beauty shiver through her body. It has been too long since he has had her. Too long since she has felt him inside her and now, with the grass on her back and her sun and stars looking down upon her, she cries happily.
“Shekh ma shieraki anni.” My sun and stars. Over and over again.
Drogo never takes his eyes too far away from her face. “Jalan atthirari anni.”
He moves with her until she is gasping to the sky and he is pulling her to ride atop him. The moon shows him to her and he gives her a rare smile. There is nothing that gives her more pleasure than that smile.
She rides his lap until that smile grows and it becomes a challenge to him, to make her crumble before he does. When they first did this, he would always finish before her. Now they know each other. Now Drogo takes her to make her happy. He takes her for the promise of another child. For a future and for love.
“Jim shekh.” Drogo stops and touches her face.
“What?” She slips into the common tongue.
“Jim shekh.” Western sun.
Drogo kisses her with a lingering sadness and picks her up once more. “Ofrakhi vos jadat.” He says as he brings them into the tent again. Rhaego has not woken and Dany joins him underneath the furs of the bed. She touches his soft skin and Drogo looks at them both in wonder.
Dany falls asleep in love and wakes up torn and curled around Viserion.
The Western sun, he said, it will not come.
Ser Barristan brings forth several men that have fled the capital and Joffrey’s rule with him. They are former members of his kingsguard and she swears that they’re loyalty to her will be rewarded when she reclaims the throne.
Illyrio comes to her with numbers. They are at twenty five thousand, then thirty, then forty by the last letter her source in King’s Landing. She has regained Drogo’s numbers. She knows that Joffrey Baratheon does not hold that amount within the city. His men are falling and fleeing and divided between the false kings in the lands. Once she crosses, many will see her sigil and lay their swords with her, and he will fall harder.
But she does not know when to take her fleet to King’s Landing.
“We have not heard anything for days khaleesi.” Illyrio looks troubled. “No ravens have come.”
Not for a while. The last letter detailed Stannis’ impending attack on King’s Landing. Since then Illyrio has only gleamed news from his own source in King’s Landing, one that holds a lot of information back. Dany misses the truth.
“Maybe there is no news.” Selmy offers. “For all the ongoings I have heard there must be some sort of lull. Wars involve a lot of talking and no action.”
“They came every few days and it has been more than two weeks.” Dany informs him. “They were meant to tell us when to come.”
It had been hinted in the last letter than her time to strike was near. The capital would be weak after Stannis’ attack and vulnerable to her forces.
“I know there is no better time than now khaleesi.” Illyrio pleads. “The capital is still recovering from the attack by Stannis Baratheon but please wait until Ikko returns with the Braavosi.”
The last of the letters was hastily written and told of Stannis Baratheon’s attempted attack on King’s Landing. He sailed a large fleet towards the weakest of King’s Landing but fled in defeat.
They will not make the same mistake. Illyrio has a letter written to send to a member of Joffrey’s small council, someone whom he claims to trust and who will prove loyal to the realm and not Joffrey in the end, that offers up aid from Pentos. In the form of twenty merchant ships ready to bring over food and supplies for the King and his people.
When in reality there will be eighty ships disguised as merchant boats with dothraki and Essos soldiers ready to storm King’s Landing.
“Another false usurper.”
“He will be dealt with once you come to rule.” Selmy promises. “The bay is weak from an attack by sea. Stannis’ ships were burnt by wildfire, they say, and it takes a lot of wildfire to take down a ship. No doubt the Hand will have no more of those resources.”
“Or by air.” She adds. “They do not know of my dragons if whoever has sent these letters have been careful.”
“We have the element of surprise.”
“And fire is on our side.” Her dragons will have grown more by the time Ikko and Eli return from Braavos. They have sent a raven to her, telling her of their success and the eager brigade of Braavosi swordsmen that will ride back to Pentos with them. But their journey could take over a month.
It has been almost a year since she left Qarth. Almost three since she left Pentos with Khal Drogo and his khalasar. Yet it feels as if she has lived a thousand years for the weight she bears on her back and the war she will soon have to bring to the Seven Kingdoms.
“We will take King’s Landing first.” Their target is agreed. Taking the capital is necessary to taking the rest of the lands. “The Lannisters will fall and we will gain their enemies as our allies.”
It’s a risky prediction, because not all will fall to their knees so quickly when she returns, they will still see her as someone trying to destroy their city and their false king. However she will quickly bring order and compliance to King’s Landing. “We will not target the same gate as Stannis Baratheon did. My fleet will fall back until the gate is breached.”
“You plan to use your dragons to take the gates?” Illyrio asks. “They will fly much faster and are less likely to be hurt by archers.”
Dany nods. “Their scales are thick and we can protect their eyes with helms.” Their fire will burn the doors to the ground and cover her army when they storm the walls of King’s Landing. “From there they will fly to the Red Keep. Once the walls have fallen, my ships will sail into Blackwater and land. Except the foodstocks which will be sent for once the city has fallen.”
She will win back her throne with fire and blood and through the stomachs of her future people.
Once King’s Landing has fallen she will regroup her forces. “It will take days for anyone that opposes me to make the journey to the capital. We will gather strength and send out a call to the rest of the Seven Kingdoms.”
Ser Barristan nods. “Many will come, your grace. Joffrey has not been kind to the Seven Kingdoms but there may be difficulties with the North.”
Dany remembers her readings. “The Starks control the North.”
“Yes,” He says. “Robb Stark has claimed the title, King of the North, and currently wages war against Joffrey for rights to divide the Kingdom and kill the current king.”
He wants to split Westeros where she wants to reunite it. “He will come and he will kneel like the rest of them. There will only be one ruler and it will be me.” Dany knows she sounds much like a child when she tells him this but she has not come to claim half a kingdom. “The Starks are wardens of the North, nothing more, and if he and his family come to King’s Landing and take a knee they will remain my wardens.”
This is the same offer she plans to extend to all of the great houses. ‘Your houses will still stand and still have their lands if you reaffirm your loyalty to House Targaryen and accept her as your new Queen’.
“And if they don’t?” Ser Barristan asks.
“Then the gods be with them.” She answers with a steel grace. Her dragons will be her greatest weapon in this war, just as they were for Aegon Targaryen when he first forged the Seven Kingdoms together.
They spend a lot of time pouring over maps that Illyrio has provided for them. As head of her Queensguard, Selmy takes it upon himself to assess every angle of their attack and update the maps, which haven’t been used since before the fall of her father. As they do, she begins to trust his guidance more and more.
“There will be some trouble when you approach the Starks.” Selmy draws a new line where King’s Landing has expanded. “Lord Eddard Stark may have been killed but his blood remembers what your father did to Eddard’s father and brother, and what your brother; Prince Rhaegar did in kidnapping his sister.”
Dany doesn’t know much about her brother. He is a mythical idol and a figure of awe for her half slept dreams. Viserys never talked about him. She sensed there was a jealousy there that was never closed because of the titles and honours and wisdom Rhaegar held.
“Jorah once said that he saw a lot of my brother in me.” Dany admits. She cannot tell as they never met but there’s a small part of her that dreamt of seeing her brother upon a black horse and weighed in armor that hopes it is true.
“Your brother was an extraordinary knight and prince. No man, not even Eddard Stark, could deny this.”
“Even after all of the things he did?”
“No one knows what caused Rhaegar to take Stark’s sister.” Selmy puts down his quill and watches the ink settle on the page. “But he was not always driven to this gift, he read a lot and played the harp and was wise, your grace.”
“I think Jorah saw that in you, just as I do, the brimming potential and fire that rests inside you, as it did in Rhaegar.” Selmy smiles at her. “I once heard Jamie Lannister-”
“The man who killed my father.” She interrupts.
“-The Kingslayer, yes.” Selmy purses his lips. Dany knows that he has fought beside Jamie as a sworn kingsguard brother and his dismissal was soured with the news that Jamie would replace him, but there is still a level of respect for his skill with a sword. Though Dany has vowed to both of them that no skill will save the Lannister when it comes down to it. “-say that Rhaegar would have made a good king.”
Dany tears her eyes away from the maps and looks out to the Narrow Sea. She can’t even see Westeros in the distance. It seems like a dream to be planning this. “Do you agree?”
He pauses to consider the question. “Yes. I think he would have made a better king than your father or any Lannister or Baratheon.” When she doesn’t look back at him, he goes on. “But there is no doubt that you may succeed him and be more loved than them all combined.”
Dany closes her eyes. Something pricks behind her eyes and she forces herself to swallow the lump in her throat. “You are too kind Ser Barristan.”
His eyes have grown a little less sad since he saved her in the harbour. He has seen too much and split too much blood for that shade of blue to ever really fade. “I speak only the truth, your grace.”
“Speak it often and I will always have you beside me.” She utters in reply as she fights away the tears. “You are more than I could have hoped to find here in Pentos.”
Ser Barristan bows his head but doesn’t press her to speak anymore. He returns to updating the maps on the table and she watches him with curiosity.
She watched as Illyrio brought forward several black smiths and armourers who have been tasked with supplying her army. They represented their individual workers, which numbered to around one hundred, but sent only the most skilled to present their work.
They have followed Ser Barristan’s lead and forged armour in black. There is no design or pattern adorning the breast plate. She doesn’t have the time for beauty but needs strength and protection and armour for forty thousand men excluding those Ikko and Eli bring back from Braavos.
“The dothraki wear no armour.” She tells them. “If you can provide thick leather or woven material, they will gladly take that.”
Her first worry had been about how to pay these men, but Illyrio had begged to take the burden. “I will become a poor man in Pentos,” He’d expressed. “But I will always be rich in King’s Landing.”
The words had postponed her troubles and she’d given the order for the work to go on. By the time Ikko and Eli return, the preparations will have been completed and her forces would be ready for battle.
Dany admires the swords they bring forth and Aggo tests the arakh that they have forged for her dothraki men. Illyrio has even set about money for knives for the women in her company. Citing that there was no innocents when soldiers are fighting. Women needed to be able to protect themselves in King’s Landing too.
Ser Barristan was given a new sword to replace the one he had left in King’s Landing. It was longer that Dany’s, with a brown hilt, the colour of his house sigil. He’d thanked the smith for his fine work and given Dany his sword to admire. “I thank you too.” He’d said.
Many more of her army had come to thank her in the days that followed. Men and women brought their swords and new armour forth to kneel and thank her for her gifts. The more they came, the more she realized that they had grown to respect her and admire her.
Illyrio had only laughed at her small surprise. “You would do well to remember this. Fear is not the key to a long and happy rule.” She remembers it. She also remembers Jorah’s head falling to the stone floor. “It is devotion and love.”
They will fear her power but they will respect it. They will be in awe and wonder of her but they will be devoted to her and they will serve her willingly. Affection brings loyalty. Loyalty brings power. Power wins the throne.
Ikko and Eli return to Pentos a few days later, bringing with them seven thousand Braavosi swords. Many are green boys just looking for their first real confrontation but among them are seasoned swordsmen who have heard of her path from Qarth and wish to follow in her footsteps.
“One Braavosi sword is worth five Lannister guards.” Ser Barristan comments when she returns from welcoming the men into their fold. “There was a teacher in King’s Landing who was there to instruct the young lords and princes, who we found dying in the courtyard with seven of Robert Baratheon’s men dead around him.”
“He was still alive?”
“For a moment, yes.” Ser Barristan answers. When he doesn’t explain she realizes that he must have killed this Braavosi man on sight.
“They will serve you well, your grace.” He trails away from his story. “I’d recommend they come after the vanguard so you may take them with you into the Red Keep.”
Many of her Meereen and Dothraki warriors have offered to lead the fight into King’s Landing. They will tear Lannister soldiers apart while she rides to the Red Keep with Ikko and her bloodriders. Ser Barristan will lead the Braavosi behind her.
“I am not confident in my abilities to fight with my sword.” She admits to him as they walk from the small hall. Upon Eli’s return she has taken up her lessons again, a move which Eli demanded of her after learning of the attack against her life. “My path to the Red Keep will be dangerous.”
“If you ride a horse it may well be.” Ser Barristan sticks to her side while members of her army and Illyrio’s household servants bow and greet her. “But I did not think you planned to ride a horse. Aegon Targaryen did not when he took the Seven Kingdoms.”
Dany stops in her tracks when he voices that thought aloud. “You think I should take King’s Landing on the back of Drogon?”
“Or Viserion or Rhaegal.” Ser Barristan must notice how unsure she sounds. “You would be untouchable from the sky.”
Dany scoffs to herself. “Apart from archers.”
“Archers would never be able to touch you. Arrows are decimated by fire and, if your grace takes no offense,” He gestures to her. “You are not a sizable target.”
She thinks for a moment. Her dragons have grown tenfold since Qarth. It has been over a year now. A year of eating and eating and flying and burning cities to the ground. They are no longer the scrawny hatchlings she was able to hold in her hands or rest on her shoulder. They sleep beneath the floors of Illyrio’s mansion rather than tiny boxed cages.
“Are they big enough?” She wonders to him. “I know they have grown but Viserys talked often of the size of the skulls in the Red Keep as if they were as wide and tall as towers.”
She has nothing to compare them too. Viserys was the one her father walked down the halls of the Red Keep and recited the names of the Dragon skulls. He saw them and dreamed of them, but she is the one who has them.
“Your grace, I believe that you don’t see the dragons as your people do.” He tentatively states. “You have raised them from the egg and held them and slept with them as babes.”
He steered her towards the nearest window overlooking the courtyard. “They may not be fully grown but they are not as little as you make them.”
They do not lie in the courtyard but in the distant skies. She sees them soaring as free as birds, weaving around each other and bursts of flame emitting from their mouths. But most of all she sees them as they are. Hulking beasts with wings stretching to blot out the light of the sun. Ser Barristan is right, they are not as little as she thinks of them.
He narrates her thoughts. “They say that free dragons never stop growing. It is only those that are trapped by walls that become stunted. Your dragons have the best of both worlds, it seems.”
A pang strikes her chest when she realizes that she’s in awe of her children growing up the way she should have been in awe of Rhaego growing up and riding on his first horse. Things she will never get to experience.
It’s too soon. A year is too soon. Maybe ten years will be too soon.
“If I am to ride to King’s Landing on the back of a dragon then I will need a saddle.” Dany states plainly.
He nods obediently. “I will have Illyrio informed and you shall be flying within a week.”
She can’t imagine it though. Not even when her dragons return and she stands before Drogon, touching his large face. He seems so much bigger now her perspective has been changed. His body is large and well fed and his scales are tough and unscarred. Illyrio has people measure his neck and body to fit the saddle.
Drogon settles for this, as long as she is near. He is still and calm as she touches him but rumbles with readiness. She loves all of her dragons but Drogon holds almost a knighted place in her heart. His namesake means the most to her. He is the leader. The warrior spirit that will lead his brother’s, named after her own brothers, to war. And she will command all from his back.
“You will have to teach him to bow his neck so you can mount him.” Illyrio tells her.
“He will do whatever I ask.” She utters. Drogon breathes out warm air on her face. She doesn’t need a command for him to lower his neck. When she touches him, he complies and Ikko helps her to swing her legs over the expanse of his neck.
It’s not a steady seat. “I’ll need the saddle to be padded.” She instructs. “Drogon is no horse and my legs will be torn to pieces if I were to sit here.”
Drogon is motionless as she lists off the requirements for the saddle. She needs to have something to steady her back. Straps to keep her attached to him if he decides to turn them over. Special armour for her to ride in and a small helm that will protect his eyes without damaging his sight.
When she sleeps that night she dreams of flying. Rhaegar and Viserys ride alongside her on their named dragons and they own the skies above Westeros. She laughs and feels nothing other than joy. On the ground her brother Rhaegar teaches her about compassion and how to honour the Targaryen name and Viserys is at peace, doing nothing more than listening and watching them with happiness in his grey eyes.
Her dream becomes oddly predictive when the saddle is deemed ready. Drogon grunts as they attach it to him, not used to being held or trapped since his turn at the house of the Undying, but when she mounts him he becomes all too aware of what he is carrying.
The straps hold her in place and there is a back brace to stop her sliding down his neck. She sits just before his shoulders and hides behind his thick neck.
The real test comes when Ikko and Aggo encourage Drogon to take flight. He hesitates with a whine until she soothes him. Eventually his hesitation is traded for care and his large wings open and slowly lift him from the ground.
Dany gasps and hangs onto him desperately when the bottom of her stomach falls. She is flying. She is the wind and the clouds.
Drogon’s caution lasts and he takes to the skies with a stability she has not witnessed since his first flight. He guides her around the air, cutting through it like a sharp blade. There is nothing that compares to this feeling. No horse nor ship can ever hope to replicate the feeling of Drogon under her legs or his heartbeat thumping across her body.
She dares to stretch her arm out to feel the air whip against her. It casts no shadow on Drogon’s wing but she weeps anyway because this was a dream, her dream, but it didn’t always belong to her.
Drogon gets braver each day that she takes him out. He starts to anticipate her flying with him and is eager to impress her. They soar higher and faster until she thinks it would be possible to reach out and touch the moon.
Always the moon, never the sun, comes as a warning from a faded memory a long times passed.
He delights in plummeting with her until the ground is coming towards them fast and twisting upwards again before they hit the dirt. She knows when to hold on and when it’s safe to loosen her grip. She can handle his turns and flips and how he acts around his brothers.
She has not felt joy like this since happier times in Qarth.
Viserion and Rhaegal fly with her too. Drogon leads and they follow him as well as her. They all learn to watch her because they have no riders to guide them as Aegon once did. She conquers the skies and their fire and their power and trembles in excitement at the thought that they still have yet to reach maturity.
She tells Illyrio and Ser Barristan as much when they meet in her chambers the night before her sixteenth name day.
“I will lead them to the walls of King’s Landing as our fleet approaches.” She asserts. “Nightfall would be the best time to strike.”
Drogon cannot be seen against the evening sky. The soldiers of King’s Landing will know nothing of their doom until she is upon them.
“We have attached merchant sails to the ships, your grace.” Ser Barristan claims. “And a raven will be sent before our departure to suggest that Pentos has heard of King Joffrey’s struggles and is reaching out with aid for his capital.”
“They will not know?” Dany asks. “What if they have heard whispers of my path?”
“They will be merely whispers.” Ser Barristan states. “The last I had heard from King’s Landing was that you had forty thousand dothraki men at your side, not forty seven soldiers. They will not suspect that you will cross the narrow sea with them.”
“And no one other than your fated source seems to know of your dragons.” Illyrio adds. His voice is free of the slur of the wine that awaits them later. He has been a solid foundation since she began to fly with her dragons. “Besides, some whispers will help. They will ignite the people of King’s Landing. They will begin to hope.”
“I will bring it to them.” Dany declares in assurance. “I will bring it to them with near fifty thousand strong.”
She settles by the window and glares out across the Narrow Sea. The closer she gets to crossing it the angrier she feels. There her forces will meet and win and she will ascend the throne and take vengeance for all of her family, for all of the years of her exile and for every single usurper and his men.
“The Braavosi have joined us and their armour is ready. I have been flying for over a week now. Drogon knows how to handle me atop him and his brothers know well to follow in our lead.” She goes over every detail in her mind. “Eli says that I will get no better with a sword unless I am forced to use it against someone. I do not have the time for petty battles and my soldiers will grow more restless in the days it takes us to reach King’s Landing”
“Khaleesi,” Illyrio calls to her. “What will you have us do?”
“Bring up the sails and rouse my people. All of Pentos will fly black and red tonight and I wish to join them in the large hall tonight.”
“Tomorrow morn is your name day your grace,” Ser Barristan brings up. “The feast was not due until tomorrow.”
Sixteen years and already she feels ashen inside. This war will bring back the fire that Mirri Maz Duur took from her. There will be blood. There will be fire.
“It shall be tonight.” Dany stands watching the calm before the storm outside. “Alert the household and my people. There shall be a celebration tonight.”
Illyrio bows out and runs once he think she cannot see him. No doubt to the kitchens to tell them to hurry their preparations and gather her guests. Ser Barristan remains with a face that knows what she is thinking. “You are a woman even though your years do not show it.”
“I have been a woman for too long, I may as well be a crone.” Dany smiles with dry lips. “I’d like you to dine with me tonight in the hall. You shall sit beside me.”
She hasn’t told him anything of her plans for him once they reach King’s Landing. The promise of it all may be too much to hope for.
“Gladly, your grace.” He looks out of the window with her to the orange sky that will soon grow dark as the eve approaches.
“Do you know Ser Barristan, that the dothraki have contempt for cities because they believe that anything of importance should take place underneath the open sky.” Dany murmurs. She knows this because they lived under the sky, the fucked under the sky and they die under the great reaching sky. “Yet they still follow me here and live in buildings and walls. Then I realized something-”
“The sky is what I make it.” She owns the skies now. They stay for her. They love her. Their Dragon Queen.
She takes Ser Barristan’s hand and he escorts her to the large feasting hall. She can hear the starts of new songs and cheering and excitement already. “Tomorrow we sail for King’s Landing.”
Her storm approaches.
Chapter 3: PART THREE: KING'S LANDING
A storm approaches.
PART THREE: KING’S LANDING
Three days ago things were a lot easier. They were ignorant but content. Planning a wedding and thinking about how they could best use the Tyrells to further ease the anger of the people of the city.
Tyrion was thinking about how he might sneak away to Shae that night and appease his lady wife Sansa. One day that girl would not scowl at him as much.
He suspects that day would only come when he was dead.
“Our scouts have stopped ships coming forth into Blackwater.” Tyrion announced while shaking the thoughts from his mind. He plans to live a long while yet. “Their sails are without colours yet I believe we have had no warning of ships coming to port.”
Mace Tyrell spoke frankly. “Is it Stannis come again? I thought that we had burned down most of his ships.”
There had been no word from Stannis since his defeat near three weeks ago. Sources said that he had retreated to Dragonstone with what remained of his fleet.
“It is not.” Cersei assured. “These are ships from Pentos.”
His Lord father drew out a small letter. “A raven from Pentos that sends us good tidings for King’s Landing.”
“Good tidings?” Tyrion narrowed his eyes at his sister. Once again he had been left out of the chain of information to look a fool amidst the small council. “Pentos is of the Free Cities. They have no ties here.”
“No ties other than peace.” Tywin stated. “They have reached out in our time of need and are sending twenty merchant ships and coin to lend us. Apparently it was the work of Lord Baelish before he took leave of us.”
‘Leave,’ Tyrion scoffed to himself. ‘More like fled, leaving them with a half dead whore babbling nonsense about fire, to seek safety in the Vale.’
“They bring forth much needed supplies.”
“They cannot land in our ports.” Tyrion argued. Had they all forgotten what the battle had cost them? “There is too much damage and too many sunken ships that may pierce the bottom of their hulls and drown all the little favours they have for us on board. Tell them to turn back.”
Cersei laughed at him. She had not forgotten his actions and deceit that led him to hide away Tommen and Mycella. “And insult them? We need these ships just as we need their holdings. Half the city is starving-”
Tyrion slapped his hand down. “All of the city is starving! Starving and hateful. A fleet of ships will not win you back this city.”
Cersei’s face hardened and Tywin called for him to be quiet. “These ships will come to port and we will take their gift. We cannot afford to refuse this, especially as we are to ride out to resume against Robb Stark.”
Tyrion sat back. There was no force alive that can go against his father. “I hear Robb Stark has ventured to the Twins with his mother and uncle, Lord Tully.”
It had always amused him slightly, that even in the midst of war people were still so willing to keep up with their idol news.
“Lord Tully is to wed one of Walder Frey’s girls. Thus strengthening their alliance.” Tywin informed them. “Robb Stark will be in attendance trying to make amends for breaking his oath to their house.”
“He shall try at least.” Tyrion said. “Lord Frey is old and bitter.” He looked to his sister. “And not in favour of such slights.”
Lord Tywin ignored his comments. “Either way it buys us the needed time. Joffrey will be wed three days hence and those ships will be brought into port even if they have to be pulled ashore.”
There was no arguing against that. Tyrion took his wine once more and stayed until everyone had left. He was sick of trying to hobble out of the council room with the rest of them. It was bad enough they could not hide their smirks that he should have to listen to their mutterings about his face as well as his walk.
Instead he drank until the wine stopped and only then did he call for Pod to take him back to his smaller quarters. Except when the door opened to him it was Jamie, not Pod, who had answered his call.
“My knightly brother, come to save his grotesque sibling.” He frowned in contemplation. “Actually that could be used either way now couldn’t it?”
Jamie hides his stump underneath a sleeve of his Kingsguard uniform. He’d been made Lord Commander upon his return, but even that glory could not turn back time and stop Vargo Moat from cutting off his sword hand. He stiffened at Tyrion’s words.
“Have I offended you?”
“No more than usual.” Jamie answered curtly. “I sent your squire back to your chambers. I feel we have a little to talk about.”
Tyrion checked the bottom of his cup but there was no more wine to distract him. “Talk away. I don’t believe we’ve had a conversation since you rode off to battle Robb Stark.”
His legs hurt, not just from the battle, but from sitting so long. It made him laugh at how he had compared himself to Jamie during the Battle of Blackwater atop his horse and leading his men, and now Jamie was akin to him. Scarred and deformed.
“How fares our sister?” He asked Tyrion.
“Fare as always. I would have thought her to be happier to know you were safe and sound behind Red Keep walls once more,” Tyrion rattled off. “Yet I appear to be mistaken.”
Cersei had not spoken of Jamie in front of him.
“Had a falling out have we?”
“A disagreement.” Jamie confirmed. Tyrion looked to the emptiness below his right arm and held his tongue.
Now she had two brothers to lurch back from in disgust. Except Jamie still has the height.
They paraded down the Throne room hall towards the bronzed doors. Joffrey was no doubt firing his crossbow at some poor animal somewhere, while Margery Tyrell was surrounded by her ladies in waiting. For a second he wondered where Sansa would be until he’d remembered that she spent most of her days and nights away from him in the Godswood.
“You did not come to collect me to talk of our sister, Jamie.” Tyrion had no time for these petty talks. He had coin to find and ports to rebuild for those damn Pentos merchants. “Speak it now and speak it quickly.”
Jamie led them towards the Lord Commander’s tower, where Ser Barristan slept mere months ago, which was now Jamie’s. “Father appears to be ignoring the both of us at this time.”
Tyrion stopped for a moment, to rest his legs, but he stared at Jamie.
Jamie turned. “I heard you asked him for the rights to Casterly Rock.”
He fumed a little where he stood. Jamie made no mocking towards him but just towering there over him reminded him that even though Jamie could not legally inherit his father’s castle, title and lands, he would no doubt do so in some way.
“I believed that to be a private conversation.”
“Is anything here ever private?” Jamie contested. “He said he will not speak to you as long as you keep up with this folly...or until you bed the Stark girl.”
Everything always came back to the North and his wife.
“Surprisingly, I do not wish to be Lord of Winterfell.” Tyrion defended.
Jamie laughed. “You will be no lord of anything if you don’t consummate your marriage before she slips through your fingers.”
Tyrion had enough people on his back, now Jamie? “Just like Vargo Hoat’s axe slipped over yours?” Jamie’s right arm clenched, as if he were trying to tighten his invisible hand into a fist. “Tell me brother, how do you feel to be crippled?”
‘Just like that Stark boy.’ He thought. ‘Because of what you no doubt did to him.’
“Must you be so unreasonable?” Jamie settled on. “Bed the girl and claim the North and settle up there until she sprouts crimson haired children that will rule on long after you die. Or stay here and perish with your whores and books all the while hoping that father will one day grant you something he doesn’t wish to because he has no other choice.”
Tyrion stormed past his brother as quickly as he could. “And freeze in the North until I grow lame and icicles form on my cock?” He stopped when Jamie did not follow him. “How is this Jamie? You wed the Stark girl and fuck her and take the North. She’s no lion but she still has teeth.”
Jamie’s Kingsguard armour did not sound after him as he limped his way back to his chambers. He sent Pod away for wine when he returned. He thought he was alone until he noticed the open window. He’d kept it closed because his chambers were low enough for the people of the city to throw things through it. Usually shit.
There was no sweet perfume of Shae or the dread creeping on his neck for it to be Cersei. Just alertness. “Varys.” The Spider.
The master of whispers emerged from behind his door. “My lord.”
Sansa was nowhere in sight. No doubt still knelt before the Godswood praying for her brothers, mother and sister.
“I did not expect another generous visitor today.” Tyrion drolly stated. “Did we not see enough of each other at the small council meeting? I swore you were there.”
Varys tucked his hands in his sleeves and wore a grave expression. “I was my lord, and forgive me for intruding, you no doubt wish to see your wife after this long and tedious day.”
Tyrion didn’t grace him with a reply to that last part.
“Yet still you are here and as a lord I find it necessary to offer the hospitality of my chambers.” Tyrion seated himself and gestured for Varys to join him. “Will you not?”
He eagerly accepted.
“What are your little birds bringing you today?”
“Good tidings from Pentos.” Varys echoed his father.
Tyrion sighed. “More tidings? I have twenty to deal with already.”
Varys did not fidget. Once sat he was still and calm. Tyrion had always been a little unnerved by his coolness in the face of dire situations. “More like eighty.”
“Eighty ships?” Tyrion sat up. “We barely have the room for twenty. Why did they not write this to us?”
Varys let a small smile cross his face. “Because she means for you not to know but you are the only one who will be able to lead this charge.”
“Charge?” Tyrion had to silence his words when Pod returned with the wine. He sent him away again soon after filling his cup. “Speak Varys, I do not like your tone.”
“Before I do, my lord, I have a question I must ask you.” Varys waited until he could hear Pod’s footsteps fade away into nothingness before he returned his lowered gaze to Tyrion’s face. He was the only person still able to look upon his damaged features. “How far will you go to protect the realm?”
Tyrion sipped at his drink. “My nephew is the King. We are all in his service.”
Varys shook his head. “No my lord, not the King but the realm.”
A silence attempted to settle on them both but Tyrion shook it off carefully. “My lord, I’m afraid I do not understand this test.”
Varys smiled. “There is no test to be had my lord, just a question and something for you to think about.”
He did think about it.
For three days.
On the third, the early evening before of Joffrey’s wedding, the bells sounded. At first for joy, second for confusion and the third brought Varys’ words back into his mind as he saw the eighty ships sailing for Blackwater with nothing in their way to stop them.
There, peeking from the first ship, on a field of black, flew a crimson dragon with three heads.
Varys whispered in his ear. “How far would you go to protect the realm?”
Joffrey screamed too. Commanding his soldiers to man the walls and gut everyone that came ashore. Tyrion strides into the Throne room just as Joffrey starts calling for his grandfather to lead the charge.
“Against who, your grace?” Tyrion calls. His small voice echoes throughout and Joffrey turns his disgusted face upon his uncle. “Who is it that has come to storm the great walls of the Red Keep?”
Cersei is nowhere to be seen, she will soon appear, and Joffrey’s small council, including Varys keep quiet. Everyone turns to Joffrey, their king, and awaits his answer.
Except in his haste to declare war against these unknown ships he has forgotten himself. He does not know who is coming to take his city. Serve the realm, Tyrion thinks, defender of the realm.
“Do you see a sigil? A flag? A mark on these ships?” Tyrion keeps moving forwards until he is at the steps of the throne.
Joffrey hides his embarrassment well. “Mother said they were from Pentos. Merchant ships.”
“Well we have nothing to fear from the screaming and the torches burning on board then do we?” Tyrion mocks him. “Open the gates! Let them in!” He shouts to the Kingsguard awaiting orders. Jamie is not there. He whirls back to his nephew and reprimands him. “Except if you’d looked upon these ships for yourself you would see their banner flying from the ships.”
He tosses the paper he’d torn from one of Maester Pycelle’s books at the boy king’s feet and waited for him to pick it up.
“A scarlet dragon with three heads.” He narrates to the rest of the hall. “On a field of black.”
Joffrey does not shake like expected, yet his court does. One woman faints.
“Targaryen?” Joffrey knows how to read at least. “That fool Viserys that my father talked about? He’s mad!”
Tyrion ducks his head. That fool indeed.
Joffrey unsheathes his sword. “All the Targaryens were mad! He thinks that he can come ashore here to take back his kingdom with eighty ships?”
“It is more than Stannis had.” Tyrion points out.
“We beat Stannis.” Joffrey points his sword at him. “Didn’t you have a part to play in that uncle?”
He mocks him. They all do. They all know that he lead the van when Joffrey fled and he bears the scars to show it yet no one will confirm this. Not against their King.
“And how do you propose to do this to a fleet tenfold the size of Stannis’?”
“The same. Go to your stocks. Bring out the green fire again.” Joffrey laughs. “They will have to rename this gate for all the sunken galleons in the bay.”
Tyrion holds his tongue until Joffrey makes a royal show of burning the Targaryen sigil in one of the fire pits to the side. The people of his court cheer with as much enthusiasm as they can muster. But the very action confirms to him just how incapable Joffrey really is.
“And what if I told you that it wasn’t Viserys Targaryen sailing to our doors?” Tyrion asks him. “What then?”
Joffrey tears his glee away from the burning paper. “What did you just say?”
“I believe in your haste, your grace, you have forgotten that Viserys Targaryen is dead.” Tyrion schools him. “Long dead by the hands of a dothraki warlord called Khal Drogo.”
Outside he can hear forces rushing and the city watch being organised at the gates. They are too few, near four thousand four hundred, after Stannis’ attack. Inside the Throne room, however, everyone becomes deadly silent.
“So who, then, is sailing to our doors ready to kill us all?” He has burnt the page with her name on it. He’s burnt the page about the Targaryen lineage. He has asked him to bring out fire to burn the Targaryens. He’d laugh if his life wasn’t at stake.
Joffrey’s silence says it all.
Tyrion bows mockingly, unbeknownst to the King himself, and orders one of his Kingsguard that has both of his hands, for now, to follow him.
Ser Swann keeps up with his stride, not letting his annoyance for Tyrion’s short pace get to him, which Tyrion would appreciate if he cared.
“We have to get word to the bay and the towers,” Tyrion tells him. “If they were able to sail this far without detection it means that Dragonstone has been abandoned.”
A bitter part of him knows that if Stannis Baratheon was not their enemy they would have been warned. They would have been prepared and had the united forces of the south against this fleet and army.
“We’re to go to the maester’s chamber and send two ravens.” Tyrion steers himself around the corner. “One to Cracklaw Point to enquire on their well being after Blackwater-”
“My Lord,” Ser Swann hesitates. “We are about to come to war.”
Tyrion waves him off. “A war that will be much worse if the Targaryen princess has called those on the Point still loyal to Visenya and Rhaegar.”
Ser Swann sees his point quick enough. “And the second?”
“To the bay, calling for all of the City watch to unite behind the Mud Gate. It is the weakest and the most damaged. If the girl is wise, that is where she will strike.”
The knight raises concerns. “We are less than five thousand not including the injured.”
Tyrion knows this. “Call for the sellswords under Ser Bronn,” His newly knighted friend. If he can still call him that now he has risen upwards. “Call all men who can stand to take up arms again.”
“The forces won’t be able to hold my lord!” Ser Swann doesn’t show fear but there is no lying to the cloud of dread that hovers above everyone in the city. This battle is too soon after Stannis. They are weak. They are defenseless. If the Mud Gate falls, the city and the King will fall with it.
And the Targaryen princess knows it.
“They will, hopefully we can destroy the galloens and drown them all like Iron men before they reach the gates.” Tyrion curses. “They cannot reach those gates or they will have the city.”
Nothing has been rebuilt. If they reach the shore, they will lose. They can only stall and hope. Maybe he should join his lady wife in the Godswood to pray for his life. For the protection of the realm.
“You will order them to raise the chain-” Tyrion asks the knight. “Ser?”
But the man is looking out of the window. “Seven hells.” He utters.
Tyrion turns but he cannot reach the window to see out of. “Gods man what is out there? Tell me!” Have they come to shore? Have the dothraki hordes that they suspect she commands come to plunder and rape and kill all before them?
Ser Swann takes a great step back. “I should be with the King.” He utters with glazed eyes. “The King will need me.”
He flees and leaves Tyrion shouting curses at him. “The REALM needs YOU!”
In frustration Tyrion hobbles quickly to the nearest window that he can see out of. The sky is darkening, the night will come and leave them even more exposed to the battle, something this Targaryen girl no doubt wanted but he cannot see what Ser Swann revolted from.
The ships are numerous and advancing and his chain will do nothing unless someone gives the command. Ser Swann ran off with that hope in favour of prolonging Joffrey’s life as much as he could instead of defending the city.
“Nothing,” He grips the stone of the window. Curse every Swann to come after him if they live. Curse them all in-
There are fires everywhere to be sure. The fleet coming towards them is lit with torches and people holding them. The more he sees the more his stomach twists beneath his armour. They are outnumbered just by the first four ships of men.
Except it’s not the fire on the ships that he finds himself looking at. But the fires flying towards them.
“Gods, arrows?” He mutters to himself. “No, they are too big - catapults-”
His guesses fall far and few between until he sees and backs from the window.
Protect the realm, Varys said, protect the realm to protect the throne.
That’s all that rings in his head as he follows Ser Swann’s steps to the Throne room where Joffrey is stood, acting commander while his men will go out to die, to speak more sense that the blubbering knight before his King.
“Your grace, we have a problem.” He words carefully. “To be blunt, we have three.”
Jamie and Cersei have entered the hall to sit beside their...son and they look to him with needing eyes. They need him. They need him and it kills them to know it.
“Three?” Cersei asks. There is an unusual shake in her voice. “What did you see?”
What did he see?
Blackened skin and blood red eyes. Shimmering green lit in fire. Copper gold worth more than anything in this entire kingdom. And a woman with platinum hair bathed in flame.
Tywin Lannister arrives just as Cersei finishes her question. “The Targaryens are breaching the gates. Their ships will land and the gates will be taken.”
“But they haven’t landed yet!” Joffrey balks. “You said you would tell me when they landed!”
A King who hasn’t got a clue what is going on, Tyrion sighs, they’re all going to burn.
“Their ships haven’t but their dragons have.” Tywin takes the thunder from them all. Cersei’s face drops to an unhealthy shade of grey while Joffrey is struck silent for once in his life. It is Jamie that steps up.
“A Dragon?” He repeats. “There are no dragons in Westeros. They died out centuries ago.”
Tywin spares a look for his eldest son. “They have returned to the Targaryens.” He confirms to the hall. “And she has three.”
Tyrion speaks up quickly. “The girl is riding one of them.” The hair was unmissable even in the dark. Bathed in flame. The Targaryen Princess.
As his grandfather speaks, Joffrey becomes more assured somehow. Like the news of dragons is a blessing rather than a curse. “The Targaryen Whore rides on Dragons!” He roars. “Take them down! Take them down now!”
His voice calls for them to be brought to the ground, not killed, as if he imagines himself taking them from the Targaryens. How will he inspire others to take them from the safety of his throne? Just as he inspired no loyalty by leaving the lines against Stannis no doubt.
Tyrion hates this ignorance. He ignores the presence of his father and siblings to bestow some needed wisdom on his nephew. That’s why they need him. “That Targaryen Whore may just lop your little crown from your head, skull and all boy if you do not get out and fight.”
“Fight?” Joffrey spits. “Against dragons?”
They would not be calling Joffrey the Dragonslayer.
Tyrion growls and seizes his nephew by his belt. “You will go and lead your men to their deaths or there will be no men to stand between you and that Targaryen Whore spilling your guts all over the floor of the Red Keep.”
Joffrey sweats in the shimmering light of the torches by his throne. The idea of dragons seems a little less appealing, no doubt, when it is him they want to send to fight them. They all need him now. “What must I do?”
“Plan an attack. Order them to take down the dragons, focus your forces on the ground against the horde that comes to our doors and maybe we can keep the dothraki from our halls.”
The gates will fall. Their city will be taken. But gods be good he is going to get out of this alive.
“Take them down.” He nods. “Archers. On the walls.” He swings to the nearest of his Kingsguard. “Tell them to fire at the dragons.”
Tyrion grunts to himself. He should just jump fence now, maybe that would have been still an option if Jamie and Cersei weren’t here to cut him in half if he even thought of abandoning their son. “Arrows will not work for shit.”
Joffrey doesn’t seem to understand. “Then bathe them in flame, send out rocks and wildfire!” He yells.
Again with the fire. Tyrion cries out in frustration. “Idiot BOY! What use is FIRE against DRAGONS?” His harsh voice snaps everyone not running to the corridors to join the fighting to look at him. “Targaryens are the last of the dragons. They come from old Valyria and you think that throwing FIRE at DRAGONS will do more damage than it will good? Are you completely stupid?”
Targaryens know how to ride dragons. Arrows will not take the girl from their backs anymore than they will pierce their skin. Fire will not burn them.
“How dare you call your King stupid!” Joffrey rages. His sword is in his hand and Tyrion knows that he would no doubt cut him down if he could.
A moment of clarity hits him. He has no sword. No heir. No wife even, Sansa Stark is nowhere to be found, and Shae has disappeared. All he has is his family.
He knows Jamie will protect his sister and his lover to the very end, with one good hand or not. That’s all he has asked Joffrey to let him do since being returned to King’s Landing near a week ago. The rest of the Kingsguard and his father will protect Joffrey and the throne.
‘Alas,’ Tyrion thought. ‘There seems to be no one to protect me.’
A Lannister does not cower or run, he knows this much, nor does he wait like a lamb to be slaughtered. They will all be killed, he knows this now, because no Dragon can lay quietly amongst a pride of Lions. One lion, however, will not be a threat.
Tyrion waddles quickly towards a side door that he knows will take him to the route the Dragon Queen intends to take. Joffrey splutters as he leaves his side, forgetting momentarily that he has been insulted. They all need him. “Where are you going?”
Tyrion turns and looks at his nephew in the eyes. then to his father, who looks more distrusting than ever. “I’m going to die, your grace, whichever way I look at it. I once told a tribesman I planned to die abed with my cock in a woman’s mouth. This is exactly what I plan to do.”
Without so much as a protest Tyrion turns and begins his walk to the undefended corridors of the Red Keep. He has no sword. No armour. Yet he doesn’t fear death.
Cersei beat up whores and stripped him of everything but his name. His father denied him Casterly Rock even though Jamie could never take it. And Jamie, well, Jamie got the looks and the height he wanted. So in a small way they are indebted to him and his slights that have allowed them to continue to rise above the world and avoid their deaths.
Except here the debt collector comes with an army of fire and blood behind her and she has a price that Tyrion finds himself able to pay. Varys was right. In the end, it’s all for the realm.
Besides, what is one dwarf against three beasts that breathe fire?
He was not lying to Joffrey about his death. He has planned it, to be abed with a woman’s mouth on his cock, a devil until his last breath.
He just forgot to mention the fact he plans to die a great number of years from now.
The roars he hears outside come closer and closer until he can hear the screams of men echoing in their song. As he stands in the entrance, behind the doorway, of the Red Keep, far from the eyes of Joffrey and his men who man the boundaries, the air grows warm. His skin sticks to his mail and his hair is slick against his head and neck. The scar on his face itches and irritates the rest of him.
But he doesn’t move. He doesn’t move when he hears the warning bells or spots archers falling from their posts. Nor does he move when he hears thunderous horse hooves outside the door.
He sees a flickering flame flash past the nearest window and then an eerie quiet.
Then his ears come upon a strange sound. Like a thousand bells ringing all at once. Tiny noises singing in the war ridden air. “My gods.”
The huge door is pushed open. The guards on the floor are smoking, weapons fallen, duties ended.
And then she emerges with a force and a single dragon at her back.
He has only seen a handful of Targaryens in his time. They are striking and unmissable. But the girl, nay the woman, that strides towards him with her sword in hand has him wanting to scamper off and hide in a corner. Her hair is silver and her eyes purple. Her face is marred by soot and blood. She rode on the back of her biggest dragon in the air and took down their men, he’d seen it from his chambers, and now she comes by foot with men flanking her on all sides.
He expected the dothraki, he expected the Meereen soldiers and even, to some extent, the dragons; the ones he can hear breaking down stone and burning glass. He did not expect to see Ser Barristan marching beside the Dragon Queen in black armour and sword in hand.
It is the sight of this old man that keeps him frozen in his place even as the Dragon Queen spots him. She has her sword raised and hisses out some dothraki language he doesn’t understand. When several others come at him with their arakhs he yells out. “No! Wait!”
King Robert had told him once of a boy that cried for him to wait before he smashed his chest in with his war hammer. He did not wait, this Dragon Queen does.
“Speak halfman.” Spits out one of the dothraki.
The singing of bells stops and he realizes that they are woven in their hair. A bell for a victory. How many will this Targaryen Princess soon place in her hair?
“Ser Barristan.” Tyrion greets. The knight acknowledges him. “Your ladies forces,” He duly notes. “I’m afraid that I haven’t had the pleasure of your introduction, my lady.”
She doesn’t rise to his playful voice, as if she can see his nervousness under his bravado, there’s a coolness under her expression like she has waited too long to be thrown off by any interruption. “Daenerys.”
“A Targaryen no doubt.” He adds when she offers no more to him. “My, it has been a long time since you stepped in these halls.”
“I have never stepped in these halls, Tyrion of House Lannister.” Her voice, gods her voice, is a buried sweetness. A confidence tarred by gravel and anger.
“You know of me?”
“There is no other halfman in the Seven Kingdoms that wears a Lion upon his breast as you do.” She points her sword at it until it is touching his chest. “Though it seems to be faded.”
Scuppered in the battle of Blackwater. He has not had new armour since. “An oddly true sentiment.”
Ser Barristan steps from beside Daenerys Targaryen. “There is no honour in killing you here Tyrion, where have you wandered from?”
“The same place you are wandering too no doubt,” He stares between those he is blocking the path too. Varys knew. He has a debt to pay and wants to be sure there are enough here to collect it for him. “My nephew and my father are in the Throne room. My sweet sister and her brother too.”
Daenerys pushes her blade against him. He winces. “Why are you telling us this?”
“I’d advise you to order your beasts to break the glass outside the Throne room windows. Unless you’re taking the main doors that’s the only way they’ll get in.”
The dragon behind her lets out a low rumble in it’s throat so deep that no doubt all who reside in their dungeons will have heard it.
“You bargain for your family’s life Lannister?” Daenerys asks sweetly, knowing this folly.
He scoffs. “Gods no.” Tyrion steps aside. “Just my own.”
Chapter 4: PART FOUR: DAENERYS
The Siege of the Red Keep
PART FOUR: DAENERYS
She was not at the front of the battle lines but she was the first into the Red Keep besides Ser Barristan. The hall trembled as Drogon broke through the glass windows screamed fire and blood followed. Just as the smallest Lannister said it would.
The bastard king trembled at the sight of her and fumbled with a sword he didn’t know how to use.
She looked upon him as calmly as she could as he stood screaming for someone to kill her. He was younger than Viserys. Shorter too. Golden haired and clothed in red. More a Lannister than Baratheon in every sense. He would never appear in her nightmares. She feared the ghost of his named father more than the boy himself.
He was no match for Selmy. A scream he gave to her, her own name in terror and rage, as Selmy stabbed him through his belly. A small revenge for dismissal. Her Dothraki riders pound their horses into the cobbles and take out the Kingsguard. Their armour is too restricting and their fear of Drogon too great for them to do anything more than bleed red.
The Lioness gave a scream to her while her son stepped back off the sword and began to cough up blood as red as the Lannister banner.
His mother screamed that he was to be wed on the morrow.
Dany saw the other man first. Hair woven with strands of the golden sun. A face scarred by war and armour dented by no man. Kingslayer.
She begged off Ikko and Aggo who stepped forth to meet him. They would fall fast, she thought until she saw his sleeve slip past his right hand. In return she brought forth Stormborn.
Maybe she would fail, maybe she would be hurt, but she would not let this man live to defile the memory of her father and her brother and her mother and her family.
The Kingslayer wielded his blade in insult, it is Valyrian steel, yet he flinched when her less skillful swipes catch the air in front of him. He was brave, but he was broken and lost. She was young and burning and whole. She was no man or King but he knelt all the same when she had Storm Born to his throat and Ser Barristan to his back. Yet still he laughed. “Pray tell me Daenerys,”
Even his voice seemed to deny what was happening to him. Even as he knelt in the spot where he drove a sword through her father’s back. His reputation faded to a dull trick of the light the more she looks down at his face.
“They say when a Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin. Will they be calling you Mad Queen Daenerys?” He grinned with blood staining his teeth. Jamie Lannister knelt before her with his last ditch words while his sister tried to escape her dothraki men feet behind him.
She didn’t smile back while she watched Cersei Lannister taken by her soldiers, she would not escape so easily, but drew a golden coin from her pocket. “Shall we see?”
She had his throat before the coin hit the floor. Dragons may die, Daenerys remembered, but so do dragonslayers.
The Red Keep became scarlet once more with the blood of the Lannisters and the fire of dragons. The Iron Throne glowed from heat and many swords looked to join the back of it. Ser Barristan led her dothraki men and Free City soldiers and stormed the rest of castle. Lannister men were killed on sight. Slave girls, whores and servants were rounded up and brought to the throne room. They screamed and screamed at the sight of the bodies of Jamie and Joffrey, who was given a seat of honour on the steps of the Throne. All, Daenerys noted, except one. A red haired girl who looked upon Joffrey’s lifeless body with the hint of a smile on her face.
The battle for the Red Keep didn’t last long. Her dragons laid waste to half the castle and its men, who were either killed by sword or roasted to death in their own armour. Just as Aegon once had commanded.
Ikko returned with less of her bloodriders and Braavosi swords but all of his limbs. He grinned fiercely as he announced to her of their victories in the streets. Of how many of the starving citizens of King’s Landing rose up against their bastard King’s forces. All they ask for is food and health.
She brought with her the finery of Qarth and the trade of Pentos. Food they would have.
When the fighting inside the castle quiets and her forces are reported to have taken control, Ser Barristan takes the liberty to bring forth the members of Joffrey’s small council. They are all terrified and charred and a far sight away from the composed nature they are suited to. She has them chained together and calls upon the red headed girl to name them for her. The girl is no older than fourteen but she pointed to each and spoke clearly.
“Grand Maester Pycelle,” A frail looking old man with a hacked off beard. “Lord Varys, master of whispers- The Spider-” He was not a face, but a name, she remembered. More specifically the second signature on Jorah’s royal pardon. “The Queen Regent, Cersei Lannister. H-hand of the King. Tywin Lannister and his son, Tyrion Lannister.”
The last of the Lannisters she had in her reach. A bold man knelt with his cape in tatters and his sword taken. The halfman with twisted legs and grim face that had come to her with no sword and no hope left in him other than a plea for his life. A Lionness who has just lost her cub and her mate.
“Well.” Daenerys spoke as the fighting noises outside quelled. The arkah quietened and her dragons grew eerily still. By dawn, the city would be hers. Soon, all of the kingdoms.
She had not dreamed of this place since her nights in Qarth. The ruins she saw in the House of the Undying have come to life before her in a lesser form. Stone has crumbled and glass has cracked. Dragons roar from the corners and fires flicker across pools of blood. It is too hot for snow to fall.
The Iron Throne glowed red like a dying coal from all of the fire Drogon had unleashed and so she sat, for the first time, on her throne.
There was no burning sensation, only a gasp from the servants and slaves who did not know who she was and a dark cloud of dread to settle over Joffrey’s council.
“I must admit,” She gripped the arms of the chair and tilts her head towards the halfman in particular. “I didn’t expect such a welcome.”
They keep their tongues to themselves for fear of her setting Drogon on them. It’s almost too sweet to watch when Korvarro leads Viserion and Rhaegal in to announce that the city has surrendered and her arrival has been felt in the far reaches of the South. One dragon had terrified them enough, but three?
“The north will know of my conquest.” She echoes, her voice louder than it was when threatening the Thirteen, louder than her screams in the house of the Undying. The Red Keep is hers. King’s Landing is hers.
Queen feels so foreign on her tongue.
“I am Daenerys Targaryen, rightful Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Shackles, Queen of Meereen and Princess of Dragonstone.” She is the unburnt mother of dragons and destroyer of cities. Her titles call out and her bloodriders cheer out in dothraki and rip down the false banners on the walls. No stag or lion has a place in the Red Keep any more.
“All of the Kingdoms will know and they will kneel to their rightful Queen.” She orders with the Kingslayers’ blood on her face. Ravens will fly, riders will be sent and the lords of the lands will come to her. “Who will be first?”
Many take a fearful look at her dragon, Drogon as he curls around the Iron Throne to face the Keep. They will come no closer, bar one. The shaken girl that named Joffrey’s council looks to her with widened eyes. She is the first to come forth and kneel so fast that her hands fall to the bloodied stones on the floor. “Your Grace.”
Ser Barristan strides to her side. He does not fear Drogon. “Khaleesi.” She acknowledges him. “I have the honour of presenting Sansa of House Stark.”
Her eyes flared open. “Stark.”
The girl doesn’t raise her neck from the ground. “Yes, your grace.”
She has half a mind to order Ikko to take his arkah to work once more at the sound of that name. The Usurpers’ ally, Eddard Stark’s cold name birthed a hatred in her heart. He was the trigger for her houses’ downfall. It was her sister and his friends called to arms to overthrow her father. Yet this is his daughter on her knees looking thankful to not be in chains and smiling down on the Lannister bodies. So she does not raise her hand.
Ser Barristan sees her troubles and bends his own knee to speak to her. “She has been held captive here at the mercy of Joffrey’s sadism. Her house is fragile and she is the eldest, the heir to Winterfell and the North.”
Gone and buried. Dany knows what it is like to be one of the last of her house.
“Rise, Lady Sansa.” She commands. Her first command from her throne. It doesn’t even seem real. Surely the battle is not already done. Have her forces won so quickly? Was the city so easy to take? “Speak.”
Sansa Stark is thin and bruised but she looks upon Dany sitting in the burning throne in wonder. Dany does not want to think of Ser Barristan’s words of this girl being prisoner. The marks on her face say it all. Tyrion Lannister looks at the girl with sympathy.
“Your grace,” Her voice is steady but so used to shaking. “What Ser Barristan speaks is the truth. I have been kept a prisoner here since my father’s death. I never wanted any of this.”
She never wanted to be apart of a war. She never wanted her father to die. Just as Dany never wanted to leave Pentos with Khal Drogo, just as she never wanted Drogo to die, just as she never wanted her exile.
“Please, your grace, I would swear my house’s loyalty to you and ask only to be allowed to return home to Winterfell.”
She has been kept here for a long time. Dany looks to the girl’s knees. “When did you come to King’s Landing?”
Sansa swallowed the lump in her throat. “Over a year ago, your grace.”
The more she hears it the more she starts to believe. Especially as the rest of the Lannisters seem to shift the longer the story goes on. If they interrupt, they will have no trial, only punishment and the punishment for treason is death. “Where is the rest of your family?” Even if she was betrothed to a King, they would not have left her here to manage on her own.
“I do not know, your grace.” Sansa admits. “My sister Arya has not been seen South since Robert Baratheon’s death and my brother Robb and my mother have not sent word for a month now.”
Words of the north remind her that this siege is not yet over. They have to send forces North to conquer and break. Then to the East and West. She will not take half a kingdom.
“My brothers Bran and Rickon wait for us all in Winterfell.” Sansa says. “They don’t know anything of what has happened here.”
“You speak for your entire family here, Lady Sansa.” Ser Barristan reminds her. “Would you declare your loyalty to the Royal House Targaryen and make an oath before the gods?”
Sansa nods her head. “I would.”
Daenerys will have the North.
“Then you will tell your family of your troubles here and that I have freed you.” She states clearly. “And sent you home with a royal guard in a weeks time. The City is mine but it is not safe. There are no doubt more Lions still roaming the streets calling themselves lords.”
She hears one of the Lions she has caught scoff at her words. Tywin Lannister looks down on her even from the floor. She has sixteen years to his sixty.
“You will return when peace has been made and come to swear an oath of fealty with your family.” She carries on regardless. “This is the condition of my kindness.”
“Yes, your grace. Thank you, your grace.” Sansa bows her head and when she brings it up she is crying. There is nowhere for her to retreat to yet so she has Zol take her to sit to one side of the hall.
By now Meereen soldiers and Braavosi swords, all dressed in their black armour, have lined the Throne Room. The rest of her forces are securing the city or distributing the first supplies. The city is crying out ‘mother’ and ‘queen’ once more.
The next man to step up brings his sister in tow too. His armor spells him a knight, and he quickly takes the knee to swear fealty to her.
“Your name, Ser.” She acknowledges his title.
“Ser Loras Tyrell.”
Someone hisses out traitor when he kneels with a smaller woman following after. Dany lets Ikko leave her side to deal with it.
Ser Barristan acts as her guide once more. “The Knight of the Flowers and his sister, Margery Tyrell. They were sworn to House Baratheon during the reign of Robert.” From there their alliances have grown complex.
He stood by the King when they entered the hall but when Joffrey was dead and bleeding against the stone floor he had a sword gutted in one of the nearest Kingsguard, his white cloak abandoned on the floor.
He is young, like Viserys was, and his face shows great loss. “Ser Tyrell.” She announces once, and then again louder when he responds to his name. “Would you Ser kneel to represent your house and your lands?”
Ser Loras looks to Drogon before he looks at her. While his sister will not look up at all. “I would.”
Ser Loras steels himself. Growing strong. “A knight is sworn to protect the rightful K-Queen,” He is unused to seeing a woman sit upon a throne, she thinks. “The throne, the realm even against his family.”
Dany remembers her readings with Illyrio. The house of Tyrell was loyal to her father. They defeated Robert Baratheon in the Battle of Ashford. Only bending the knee to defeat when her father was killed and she and her brother were cast into exile.
They are large, powerful and wealthy family. She would claim highgarden and their houses without a single blow.
“Say the words, Ser Loras.” She commands. Ser Barristan takes her sword and Ser Loras begins to renew his houses’ fealty to the crown and the rightful blood that sits upon it.
Many houses will follow. She will welcome the support and the forces and wealth they command. They will be loyal and she will have her kingdoms. All except the Lannisters.
Illyrio taught her that mercy was a gift at the expense of Jorah’s head. Battles are won by the devoted and loved and respected, but not by the feared. The people would find someone to protect them. Mercy would not protect anyone from the Lannisters.
Once they houses swear to her, the Lannisters will come. They will be stubborn but she will offer them a chance that they will not take. Their Lord will spit upon her offer. The Lionness, Cersei, will curse her. Tyrion will say nothing and his silence will save him and not his family. The line will die with him. He will father no children, hold no lands, wed no woman.
He will live out his days somewhere even she does not know yet.
The rest of them will not see another sunrise.
She tells them as much hours later, once the sun has risen and her Braavosi return to tell her that the city is really hers, as well as all of the lands that swore to her. Ravens have been sent and Sansa has written to her brother Robb at the Twins.
Tyrion is not told he has been granted his life until his father has been given to her Braavosi and his sister to her dothraki. He is led away to the dungeons below by Aggo to be brought up once she has stationed herself in her city.
Dany flexes her fingers against the Throne. It is sharp and still warm. She can see how one might cut themselves on this easily. She can also see many swords from the fallen that could be added to it.
It’s finally hers.
Forged by Aegon the Conqueror, the first king of Westeros, and heated in the fires of Balerion the Black Dread: the Iron Throne.
If Viserys were alive-
She has it all. Everything they had dreamed of so long ago as they were lost in the Free Cities. Everything he promised her, she has taken for herself and her family. Yet they are not here with her. Viserys is dead. Drogo is gone. Jorah betrayed her and her family is no more. All she has is her dothraki bloodriders and Ser Barristan who she has made Hand of the King.
She will win the wars and the battles and reclaim all of her Kingdom and more. Her dragons will become legendary and she will bring peace to the kingdoms once more.
‘Alone,’ she ponders as she looks down at the blood that drowns much of the floor of the Red Keep.
Loud footsteps come calling to her right. Aggo emerges into light, breathless with the bells in his hair chiming.
“Khaleesi! Khaleesi!” He climbs upwards from the dungeons below. They have been searched and filled by Tyrion and Joffrey’s small council while she decides what to do with them.
The few servants and lone members of houses that have chosen to stay in the Red Keep after swearing their allegiance to her, in order to share her food and shelter, watched curiously as she slips out of the common tongue and into dothraki.
“Aggo, what is wrong?” She’s alert for another attack but he brings no shouting behind him. Only two of his blood brothers carrying a small woman in his arms. “Aggo-”
When they get closer she rushes to her feet.
“Lys, Khaleesi. She was prisoner down there.” Aggo pleads with her as Ser Barristan takes off towards the men to take the woman out of his hands.
She looks smaller than the last time she saw her.
“Khaleesi,” Barristan exclaims. “This woman has a high fever and wounds. She needs a healer.”
“Healer!” Aggo shouts out but no one understands him.
They look at her now in wonder. She has come to them dressed in fine silk and a light weight armour, yet they can see what she truly is underneath the exterior she wants them to believe. She appears as their Queen as they do not understand her as a Khaleesi.
Ser Barristan takes the body into his strong arms. He doesn’t even know who she is. Just believes in the connection Aggo has brought forth. “Khaleesi, she may not be able to fight this off.”
Another taken by a wound? Is she so cursed for this to happen twice?
She turns to one of the men in armour who sits solemnly by a pillar. His family have been granted leave but he begged to be able to stay and serve her. “Ser Loras Tyrell.”
“Your grace.” He stands swiftly.
“Send for a healer. Take one if you must, and bring them back here immediately.”
He bows and makes haste to the exit. She nods to Ikko and he turns to follow him.
“Aggo, Karvorro; lead these people into the encampments.” The ones her forces have been commanded to set up outside the city in the hundred thousands, as in Pentos. “Make sure they are fed and find shelter then return here. Leave men posted by their tents.”
King’s Landing is in ruins and tents are preferable to sleeping on the streets. She has not stepped out of the Throne Room since taking it, but the scouts she recruited in Meereen tell her that people are faring well and that many are moving out of the city to her makeshift khalasar.
Joffrey starved his kingdom. She will rebuild them.
Servants and knights alike are led out like sheep by her forces, who still look ready to take arms if there is sign of trouble, and close the large doors behind them. It’s only then, out of sight of all but her most loyal and her dragons, does she make her way down the steps.
“A fever you say?”
“She must have been down there for weeks, Khaleesi.” He says. “These wounds have tried to heal over. She needs them cleaned.”
“Lay her down here.” She gestures to the cleanest part of the floor. They have moved the bodies to burn but blood still puddles in the cracks.
She is older and taller but she looks so much smaller than Daenerys herself.
“I should find somewhere for this healer to see her. There is a room in the Tower of the Hand that we can place her in if you permit.” His own chambers which he has yet to even see let alone be told he can claim.
“Yes,” She agrees distractedly. “First, see to it that the area is clear.”
“Yes, Khaleesi.” He leaves when the rest of the hall has cleared, so that she is not likely to be attacked but when he is gone Dany’s hands cup the lines of the woman’s neck, keeping her head up as she lies unconscious. Daenerys can’t afford to think of the words she spoke almost a year ago nor anything else.
Ser Barristan’s steps echo into nothingness and Drogon grunts his head around to see the sharp rise and fall of the woman’s chest. Daenerys touches her hair and looks upon her face and feels everything and numb at the same time.
The gods have seen her arrival to King’s Landing with an offering of the past. One she thought never to see again.
“This will be the second time I have saved your life.” She whispers quietly, hesitating before pressing her palm to her forehead. A fever rages. “I fear it may be the last.”
Ravens had been sent out far and wide with many returning and promising to begin their journey to King’s Landing. The North had been informed to expect Lady Sansa and for them to put down their weapons and bend the knee to the Dragon once more.
In days and weeks to come the city would be full again, with Houses coming to swear their oaths to her, so she had commanded those builders and workers who still lived to begin repairing the damage left by her siege. Many who had lost their homes joined them with the promise of food.
Ser Barristan expressed his honour, as she expected, when she informed him of his promotion though he has bowed to receiving other chambers for the time being. Illyrio had also settled into his role, finding coin quickly and putting it to good use. Her dragons had been given free reign of the Dragon’s Pit. There they can fly and leave to hunt as they please but under the watchful eye of Wren and Eli, who have taken a shine to watching after her children. Ikko, Aggo and Korvarro are the first to be recognised as her Queensguard by the people, but they remain close to her as her bloodriders, they still refuse armour or swords. Several of her men who steered her fleet from Pentos are vying for the role of her Master of Ships but she has yet to receive any of them.
She hasn’t received anyone since the first day.
Dany sits in the chambers of the Hand on a small chair draped in pillows and silks. The whole tower stank of illness until she had the Maester bring up incense and smelling salts to drive it away. Now it smells of candle wax and burning wood. The fire in the corner is constant, day and night, as well as the candles she has had brought up there.
While she sits, she waves her hand over the flame and feels nothing burning on her palm.
Doreah has not woke for three days. The Healers that weren’t busy collecting up the wounded and the dead from her victory were posted outside the tower of the hand. It is Ser Barristan’s suite but he has kindly accepted another room for the time being, more concerned for the girl and honoured at her appointment of him as Hand. Doreah is weak.
“I’d say she was there a while, your grace.” A maester told her. He was one of the first to swear to her his loyalty, recalling that he had announced to be waiting for the day a Targaryen sat on the throne again, she thanked him for his attendance.
He comes to change the cloths covering the wounds on her arms and knees every day as well as leaving milk of the poppy and honey. Whenever he arrives she is stays inside the room. While she trusts the man to do his duty, he is still a man and Doreah is still a beautiful woman.
No one is able to tell her what happened to Doreah. Even some of the servants who worked under the Lannister rule had not seen her come into the castle. Yet the wounds on her arms and cuts to her back suggest a prolonged whipping and torture and the fever had no doubt set in a while after.
Dany knows that when Doreah wakes, she will not be here to see it. The hurt is still too raw and she sits at her bedside now out of a sense of duty and possession. Doreah was not someone else’s to hurt or to take pain from. That alone belonged to her.
It’s a sick sense she feels but it’s easier than owning up to the fact that this happened because Doreah was not with her and protected.
The Maester had told her to have someone rub honey on her lips a few times a day to encourage her to take something in. Water as well. At first she commanded someone else to do it while she attended court and her people but Ikko threw a servant down the stairs when it had become clear she was trying to smother Doreah as she slept.
Since then she has let no one other than her dothraki inside the Hand’s Tower.
The sun is starting to set when she picks up the spoon she has been using to pour water into Doreah’s mouth. Her hand shook the first time as she touched her skin as the feelings from Quarth and the betrayal came rushing back to her all at once but she’s learnt how to push that down inside her.
‘I will deal with it later.’ She tells herself. ‘When you are able to defend yourself to me.’
After the water she opens the half empty pot of honey on the table. She had it brought from one of the ships. This is always worse than giving her water.
Putting a small amount on the tip of her finger she dabs the sticky substance over Doreah’s bottom lip. She does this a few times until unconsciously Doreah licks the honey away.
“He will not much care about your pleasure until you make him care.”
The candle by the bedside flickers quickly and settles into a haze as she holds the honey pot on her lap. They have done this before, back in the time of Drogo’s khalasar, when it hurt to ride her horse and it was even more frightful still to ride Drogo.
She had not known then that Doreah had been bought by her brother, and she had not known that Doreah had not been instructed to be as hands on as she was.
“He wants to take you. All of you. But it is for his gain. His need.” Doreah brushed her fingertips over the softness of her stomach. “Just like before, you must show him that he is not allowed to leave you to linger, and that it is a dishonor on him if he cannot finish you as you finish him.”
Dany remembered sitting facing Doreah as she spoke this. Doreah kept touching her and pushing her chin up to look her in the eyes. She kept her on the edge with her words. How eager she was to learn and to please her Khal that she did not realize that she was being seduced.
“Men are forthcoming,” Doreah had smiled at her. It was more of a smirk. “With their desire.”
“You would have me be more of a man?” Dany had asked. How else would she be able to fulfil her needs if her Khal would not?
“Definitely not. I would have you,” Another pause, she remembers, another touch. “Show him where he is needed.”
Doreah’s hand slipped over her stomach and underneath the thick furs she wore to bed. “Show him as you would show me.”
Without realizing it Dany has been sucking at the honey herself. Flushing slightly, she places the pot down and moves off the side of the bed and away from Doreah. She has lingered here too long. Quietly she makes the room up again and places a sheet over Doreah’s fevered body before taking the candle off the bedside and walking to the door.
Aggo is sitting on the steps outside playing with one of the dogs from the yard. He throws a stick for it to chase down the stairs and waits until it comes back with it. He stands when she comes out. “Khaleesi.”
“No one is to come in apart from the maester.” She tells him. “And when he does, you will watch him as he works.”
Aggo nods in understanding. After all, the maester is old and however beaten and ill Doreah is, she is still a beautiful woman.
She stalks into the throne room in the morning, with her dragons curling around the edges of the room and Illyrio sitting by the side as the lone member of her own small council for now, intent on thinking of her kingdom not Doreah. The maester reported no change in the night as she broke her fast in the morning with Ser Barristan. They have to keep waiting. However the waiting will come later, once the day is over and her duties have been filled.
The first of the houses of the Seven Kingdoms, House Redwyne, comes to bend the knee before her. They march into the Red Keep, their Lord with thirty of his guard and their banners: a white field with blue grape clusters. Illyrio had helped to her to brush up on some of the houses in the Reach. The Redwynes were sworn to House Tyrell and their lands included the vast Arbor which holds a great fleet.
They also remind her, as they look upon her on the Iron throne, that they are Targaryen loyalists.
It’s a challenge with all the houses that have come before her. All served the Usurper, then the Lannisters or the Baratheons or the Starks, while not thinking of the day the Targaryens would return to Westeros. Those who swear to be loyal to her family are rarely those that are as wealthy or powerful now, because the Lannisters and Baratheons would not have let them stand.
Yet right now she can’t afford to condemn whole houses who come to pledge themselves. Lord Redwyne brings with him gifts to win her favour as well as port space for her merchant ships to rest while Blackwater is rebuilt. She ignores the offer of one of his sons or daughters to wed her future child. Illyrio notes this with a small concern.
After Redwyne, lone bannerman comes forth. He wears a cloak of burnt orange and presents a scroll to Ser Barristan to hand to her. It is his shield however, that bears a golden sun pierced by a spear, that had everyone watching intently.
“You have traveled from Dorne.” She states as she breaks the seal. “How fares your Prince Martell?”
The bannerman stands straight. “Well, your grace, though he would fare better if he was fit to travel to bid you himself.”
Dany reads quickly. Dorne is complicated. Since the rebellion of the Usurper, Dorne has not played a whole part in the kingdoms. Partly because of Robert but also because of her brother Rhaegar taking a paramour when he was already wed to Elia Martell.
‘My sister-in-law.’ She is struck by the notion suddenly. ‘Our houses were bound in blood.’
The message is short and simple. They want a man called Ser Gregor Clegane to be handed over to them to face Dorne justice. He is a Lannister knight who was responsible for the murder of Elia Martell and her children. Her sister-in-law’s children. The Prince of Dorne believes that if this is done their houses will be joined once again without the taint of her death still lingering.
She repeats the sentiment to her court and Illyrio takes a look over the letter for himself. Her quietly gives her council. “It would be wise to agree to these terms but to allow Dorne to search for Clegane himself. He has built himself quite a reputation here in Westeros and if it is true then we would lose many men in the search for him.”
Dany takes it in. Dorne is a powerful land and the Martells of Sunspear hold the keys to many more Houses in the South. To have them behind her is more than Robert Baratheon could have accomplished.
“Return to your Prince,” She orders. “Tell him that he is free to pursue Clegane and to bring him to face Dornish justice. My council will send ravens informing the realm of his wanted status and that whoever brings him to King’s Landing, or be it to the feet of your Prince, will be rewarded considerably.”
The Dornish bannermen nods. “My Prince will be grateful to hear this, your grace.”
In return he promises that the Martell banners will come again to King’s Landing once Gregor Clegane’s head is theirs.
The Martell banner takes its leave and several other houses follow once they have made their piece to her. It is then that Illyrio opens the court for free speech. Many of the high persons of King’s Landing have gathered to look upon the face of their new Queen and to offer their words for a long reign. Few are quick to hope that she takes a husband. More offer well wishes for a strong Targaryen heir. Dany holds her tongue and politely thanks them.
They are not the first to talk to her of marriage and children, and from the look on Illyrio’s face, they will not be the last.
However this talk is banished to one side when a cluster of her Braavosi swords come forward with several men in irons. They are unarmed and beaten and the captain of her swords, Magos, presents them to her. “Lion loyalists, Khaleesi.”
Her soldiers and dothraki continue to call her Khaleesi. It reminds her constantly of her journey here and the ruthlessness she had to show in order to conquer the city. A ruthlessness they believe she needs now.
He kicks the first of three Lions. “We found them gathering small folk inside the walls. Together they burnt down a whore house by the bay.”
Dany sits up. Actions such as this remind her that she has not yet completely won this city. “They convinced my people to do this?”
Magos slips back into his Braavosi tongue for a second, trying to find the words in the common tongue, before addressing her again. “Some small folk have been rising up. We have been dealing with it. They were stags or lions. We are dealing with it.”
Dany clenches her teeth. “Do you need more men?”
Magos shakes his head. “No Khaleesi.”
They may not need men but they do need help. “Ser Barristan, send a word to Wren and Eli, tell them to take Viserion out for a while.”
“Yes, your grace.”
Maybe the sight of Viserion in the air will do well to remind people of their new Queen. She knows Illyrio will not approve. It is a scare tactic and she wants them to love her but if they will not love her then they will respect her.
Something ill stirs in her stomach. For all of the favor that she won with the people for freeing them of starvation, there are many that still hold contempt for her.
“That is all for today.” Dany announces. She stands straight and tells Ser Barristan to see to it that these Lions find their way to the dungeons.
They have not forged a crown for her yet but she walks away like she wears one.
Illyrio follows her out and tells her not to listen to the smallfolk and to focus on rebuilding her kingdoms before she attempts to win their love. “There are more important things to concern yourself with.” Such as building up the High Septon and executing traitors.
Yet for all of this, the words and actions of the smallfolk do concern her. They are her people. They are hers. And for all of her bravado and power and justice, she cannot ignore how different it feels to go from a khalasar that cheered her name when she consumed a horse’s heart in the light of her son to this coldness and bitterness at reclaiming something that was rightfully hers.
News like this continues for several days until Magos comes to report that many who were involved have forsworn their actions at the sight of Viserion and have been moved into the tents outside King’s Landing while work is done to rebuild homes and walls.
It settles her nerves a little.
Dany brings up food and water for Aggo outside the Hand’s tower. He has taught his dog to roll over and delights in showing her when she greets him. He thanks her for the food and she enters the chambers.
The fire inside the room is lit and a new candle is there to replace the old one. The pot of honey is almost empty and she thinks to bring a new one on the morrow. Doreah has shifted in her sleep onto her side, facing the chair Dany sits in on her visits.
She has started to whisper court matters to Doreah’s form. The girl still sleeps most days. Her fever is close to breaking, the maester says, and her wounds have healed.
She learnt yesterday that it was Joffrey who inflicted the wounds.
Ser Barristan had brought Tyrion Lannister up from his cell after a week of imprisonment where he confessed to knowing the fate of Doreah. He did not see who brought her in but she had the look of a whore and Joffrey had held a crossbow on his lap and asked her to tell him about the dragon lady while she cried and spoke in a language he could not understand.
“Dothraki.” She guessed. Tyrion had shrugged.
When she had learnt all that she could from him she sent her guards to take him to one of the tents to eat and bathe.The smallfolk hated him just as much as any Lannister and there is a justice in having a halfman be the last of the golden Lions of Casterly Rock. The line may die with him.
“Am I too strange to them that they find it hard to be my people?” She utters. It’s easier to look upon Doreah’s face when her eyes are closed. She hasn’t been around to see her awake, though the maester says she is not altogether coherent as yet, but soon she will have to face her. “Have they grown too accustomed to Stags and Lions and Wolves that Dragons hold no place here?”
Behind the closed door to the Hand’s bed chambers, she feels tears fall down her face. She hasn’t let herself cry since they got to King’s Landing and it comes quickly. Sobs tremble in her small body as she sits aside Doreah on the bed. Her chokes are silent so that Aggo outside is not alerted but it hurts to do so.
“Do I have such a gentle heart?” She wonders. “Was I wrong?”
She is a Khaleesi of the Dothraki more than she is a Queen of Westeros or Princess of Dragonstone. Her battles have been long and unforgiving but now she has to win the hearts of her people and stay to rule. She has not stayed anywhere so long since Pentos or Qarth, and she was not expected to rule there.
When she closes her eyes sometimes she imagines how it would have gone differently. What if she had crossed with Drogo and they took the Iron Throne with brutal and bloody force? Or Viserys and became Princess while he became King.
What if she had stayed in Pentos or returned to the Dosh Khaleen and resided in Vaes Dothraki to be served by eunuchs and host every Khal and their Khalasar that ever was or will be?
But she wouldn’t have settled, Dany knows this, for anything less than the Iron Throne and the kingdom that she knew she deserved.
Dany becomes hypnotised by the flame of the candle next to the bed. The burden on Viserys’ shoulders was passed to her when he died and she’s doing all she can to prove herself worthy and to restore the honour their family lost as soon as her father was killed.
She reaches for the small pot of honey without thinking. Her finger is coated in the sweetness to brush along Doreah’s lips when she freezes suddenly.
“The gentlest of hearts can still hold the strongest of fires,” A small voice whispers. Dany, so used to hearing nothing but silence in the Hand’s chambers, stands suddenly at the words. The pot falls from her lap and the honey on her fingers sticks to her.
Doreah’s eyes are open a slip and her chapped lips mumble out words that she struggles with.
Dany wants to get the maester to tend to her so that she can leave and come back when she’s prepared for this. She’s not prepared for this. She did not speak to be heard. The last time they spoke she was choking her against a stone wall and telling her she never wanted to see her again and if she did she would kill her.
Her hands are not around Doreah’s neck, nor do they want to be, but she feels like she’s breaking a promise.
“I will send for the maester.” She states quickly and without looking at Doreah. “You are confined to this room.” Her words sound harsh but she knows that if she doesn’t speak them, Doreah will try to follow her even in her weak state. She always has. Unless ordered otherwise.
She strides to the door when she hears Doreah utter something that sounds like her name. It shocks her until she remembers that she forbid the woman to call her ‘Khaleesi’.
“You have grown so much,” Doreah’s chest heaves as she takes a breath. “I knew you would.” Dany lingers at the door until her words grow weaker and she slips back into unconsciousness. “I missed it all.”
Her small council meetings are small. She sits often with Illyrio and Ser Barristan and Ser Loras to discuss what needs to be done with the city and the lands. The food she brought over from Pentos will last them another few weeks but soon they will need to rely elsewhere.
The Dornishmen have crossed to start their search for Gregor Clegane and disturbing news from the North has been frequent in their talks.
“I will send a raven with my sympathies.” Dany murmurs. “And insist that she take however long she needs to recover.”
Grave news had reached them through two ravens. One from the North and the other from the Twins.
“This happened several weeks ago but we have not heard word of it in the midst of landing.” Illyrio passes her the news. “Robb Stark and Catelyn Stark were murdered in an ambush at the Twins by Lord Frey.”
Ser Barristan sighs. “This was an act of revenge for Robb Stark’s offense to Lord Frey no doubt.” He turns to Dany. “Robb broke an oath he made when securing passage and men from Lord Frey. He was to marry one of his daughters but he wed another.”
“So Lord Frey decides to murder both him and his Lady Mother?” Dany spits out irrationally. “This happened as I landed here. Lady Sansa spoke of being in contact with her brother.”
“An oath broken does not care for war.” Illyrio says. “No doubt Frey had been planning this for a while.”
Sansa Stark had lost her mother, her father, her sister and now all of her trueborn brothers. “See to it that Frey is called to King’s Landing. This was no ambush, it was a slaughter.”
Illyrio nods. “I believe he will not be favourable to that idea.”
“He will come or I will find some other way of seeing him knee before me.” Dany takes a piece of parchment to write in her own hand. “I understand that Winterfell has been burnt to the ground. Where is she staying?”
Illyrio sips at his wine. “She has been offered housing with several Northern houses but I believe she resides in the Bay of Seals with the Umbers.”
Winterfell would have to be rebuilt and soon. It was not the holding for the Warden of the North for nothing.
“She has lost her family but gained the land.” Dany claims aloud. “I am not sure that she will be happy of this.”
Ser Barristan calls her attention. “I understand that she is still legally wed to Tyrion Lannister.”
Another matter to think on. “It will have to be annulled somehow. He will hold no lands.”
Illyrio smiles wickedly at this. “That will not be a problem as they never consummated the marriage.” When Dany asks him how he knows of this he just shrugs. “King’s Landing is not the most secretive place, especially when it came to the Lannisters.”
“I will send the letter to her and hope that she replies and accepts her title.” There is so much to consider. “Is there anyway we can assist the rebuilding in Winterfell?”
Illyrio considers it for a moment before shaking his head. “Not if you wish King’s Landing to be secure as fast as possible. Perhaps after.”
The city first, then the realm. “Is there any other matters?”
A long list of them. Including several marriage proposals that make her fill her wine cup for a third time, an invitation to greet the Alchemists of the Red Keep, notes from Dorne and Highgarden as well as news on Stannis Baratheon beyond the wall.
“If it is within your time, Khaleesi, we also have the history to consider.”
Dany pushes her chair back. “Not today Illyrio, I am tired and I fear I will fall asleep before we start to write of my victory.”
They both wait until she has left before packing away. Tomorrow they expect someone to come forth with the crown she will wear upon the Iron Throne. A light crown shaped to her head shaped in flame. Tomorrow more matters will come to council and she will try to judge them.
Thoughts of Sansa Stark stick with her as she climbs the Hand’s tower. She has spent more time here than in her own chambers of late but she hasn’t dare entered since Doreah woke.
Aggo feeds his dog when she approaches. He’s named him Brute because he’s a rough little thing. “Khaleesi.” He stands as always.
Dany bids him to sit. “Is she awake?” She whispers.
Aggo nods. “The Maester say that she is doing well. Wounds better. Fever gone.”
‘Good.’ Dany thinks as she turns from the door to Aggo’s confusion. She will not go in yet. Neither of them is ready.
Instead she calls for Korvarro to saddle a horse for her and take her to the dragon pit. Night has fallen and she wears a great black cloak over her head. People do not look at her when they ride past. They do not recognise her.
The journey gives her a chance to see her city, not all of it pleases her. People are still wandering the streets at night unsure of where to go. They pass the whore house that Lions had burnt to the ground and abandoned shops.
She still has much to do for her people out here and back in her castle.
For now though she rides to see her dragons and sleep beneath their wings. Ikko and Eli keep watch by the fire they have glowing. For a moment, as she passes into slumber, she glimpses Drogo sitting by the pyre. The flames flash off his bronze skin and he laughs beside Ikko and Eli like they are his brothers.
Drogon breathes heavily out of his nostrils and the moment is gone. She clings to his warmth until she is able to fall asleep. There she meets Drogo again on the morning she asked him to take the Iron Throne with her, for her, as she braided his hair. She remembers having to place all of the bells he’d acquired in his lifetime back in there.
When he’d rode with the khalasar later, they’d sang out tiny notes.
All she wants is to be able to rest and think of her next move. She can’t.
“A Kingdom does not sleep.” Dany mutters to herself.
She has to be present to accept the crown and the announcement of a coronation within the month. Illyrio bombards her then with the plans for this event and Ser Barristan begs her time to be able to choose more men, other than her dothraki, as men of her Queensguard.
The crown weighs on her head like she never imagined and it’s as if someone had taken all of the stress on her shoulders passed from Viserys and forged it in gold.
From there she received a short and polite reply from Sansa Stark, expressing her thanks for her Queen’s concern and that she would still make the trip to King’s Landing soon. “Apparently her brother’s Bran and Rickon are okay but not dealing with the losses too well.” No doubt.
Some small problems had started in the tented khalasar to do with stealing but Ser Barristan assures her that her dothraki men had stopped the fighting. It only urges her to Illyrio to increase the work being done on the city.
Dany had thought that would be the worst of her problems when she came to court in the afternoon until a slim man in beaten armour stepped forward with a sigil bearing on his shield.
Ser Loras looks to her unsurely but introduces the man anyway. “Tyne of House Caswell. He has come to speak on behalf of his Lord Lorent Caswell.”
Dany is not too familiar with their sigil; a yellow centaur with a bow on white but knows they are of the Reach.
“My welcome to you Tyne of Caswell.” She states politely but is too aware of Ser Loras’ discomfort. “What business have you come with?”
Tyne bows deeply. “No business, your grace, but a proposal.”
Illyrio coughs into his hand.
“My Lord has bid me to come to you and present a proposal for a match between the houses Caswell and Targaryen. Our house is notably loyal to the Tar-” Tyne continues but white noise passes through her ears. He proposes marriage to her, before the entire court.
She glares down at him and as he begins to notice Tyne quickly finishes his sentence.
Dany looks upon him and remembers the tone she used when speaking to Xaro Xhaon Daxos before his imprisonment. “I thank you, Tyne of Caswell, for this proposal.”
He waits on her to say more but she has nothing left to say to him. Ikko and Korvarro pull him to his feet and escort him from the halls.
Calmly she looks out to the rest of the court. There are many knights and bannerman in wait. Boldly she stands. “Is there any more of the like who wish to propose on behalf of their Lords?”
Several of them raise their hands.
“Hear this good sers,” Dany stands and wears her crown like armour. “I am no prize to be given, I am no regent but Queen. Your Queen. And you will return to your Lords and lands and tell them that if they will not face me then they are no men and I will have no time for them.”
She knows she has said more than she should. She has almost near denied ever taking a husband, which she so wishes to say, to save her face. Illyrio shakes his head to himself as she dismisses court for the day.
“Say what you wish to say, Illyrio.” Dany holds her head in her hands and her crown on her lap. “I will not sit here and be insulted by flowery words of marriage. I am wed.”
“To a dead man, your grace.” Illyrio murmurs. “The people will not understand your devotion to Khal Drogo and this will not be the last of them by any means, your grace. Men hunger for power and for a Targaryen heir to your new Kingdoms.” Illyrio advises. “For the line to go on you will one day have to remarry and-”
She has had enough of his folly. “I will bear no children and I will take no husband.”
“Your grace-” He tries again.
“I was cursed.” She breathes out before he can say anything more. “I angered a woman in the Free Cities by letting my khalasar burn her temple down. I angered her because I presumed to save her life and she presumed that life is not worth very much.”
Illyrio waits by her side as people start to file into the throne room. “People in the Free Cities can be as dangerous as they can be useful my Queen.”
Queen. A name that burns.
“Khaleesi.” She corrects.
He does not flinch as he did several days ago. “Khaleesi, what I mean to say is that how can you be sure of this curse? What exactly occurred out there in the wastelands of the Free Cities?”
What happened? Her hands clench and her teeth grind and she stands strong because she will not cry while she knows Drogo waits for her in the space outside the Night Lands. She will be returned to him soon enough.
The words of the Maegi haunt her and cast a dark shadow over the whispers of the kingdoms. Those who cry out in joy for her return also cry out to see her bear an heir. A boy that will soon take the throne from her and rule with more strength than her sixteen year old self can.
It both enrages and suffocates her.
“When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east,” Dany says, keeping her eyes on the people falling into line to leave her throne room, watching the fluttering banners of House Targaryen along the walls. “When the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves. When your womb quickens again, and you bear a living child. Then he will return, and not before.”
“Who will return Khaleesi?” Illyrio asks. His voice is no louder than a fly’s wings.
“My sun and stars.” She replies simply. “As long as the waves hit the shores and the sun rises and sets in the pattern of the world, he will not return.”
Her guards are all that is left in the throne room..
“And as long as he waits in the place of the undying with my son-” She cuts out the words with a scythe’s precision and turns to bear her steel eyes unto Illyrio. “-I shall bear no children.”
“My Khaleesi, we must hope-”
“There is no hope.” Daenerys stands in the door, not Dany. A striking sight all clad in leather and steel. She does not look the part of a princess, nor the queen that the Seven Kingdoms have come to expect, but the Khaleesi that they never realized they wanted. And they have welcomed her with half open arms.
They bowed and knelt when her ships came to land. When her dragons circled in the air and ripped apart the King’s Guard. They cried out her name and she emerged.
Drogon, the largest of her children by far, rests behind the Iron Throne with his neck curled around to the front of it. Each breath he takes is followed by a burst of smoke from his nostrils. Viserion and Rhaegal stalk the castle as they please during the day. Their threatening presence act as the deterrence no other house has to play and she will have no personal guard as long as they live.
“These are the only children I will ever have.”
Illyrio stands motionless as Daenerys walks away from the Throne. Her steps are light.
She holds no silk. Her hair does not fall from her braid. Her frame will never falter.
Daenerys Targaryen. Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lady of the Seven Kingdoms. Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea. Breaker of Shackles. Queen of Meereen. The Princess of Dragonstone.
The last Targaryen.
This will be her legacy.
She busied herself and told Illyrio to remove all of the gifts and men that come to offer their words to her. Now is not the time for such matters. Reports have come in with unsettling words from the North, the wall calls for men and arms to defend against the beasts beyond.
The Wall is one of the things she hadn’t thought much of until she sat on her throne. It was a mythical object of fascination but one that had slowly decayed in time. Apparently the mythical aspect is what is troubling the men there.
Ser Barristan informed her of Stannis Baratheon’s presence and his plans to gain the Night’s Watch as his to use, something which does not fit with the duties and oaths the men had taken, but that they need to deal with those beyond the wall first.
“Wildlings?” She asked.
“White walkers and giants and all forms of unspeakable beings.”
Yet she has not won the war for her own lands yet, she cannot afford to start another one. She entrusts her Braavosi men to go amongst the encampments to see if anyone is looking for a better life, of sorts, and directs them on carts bound for the wall.
In time she will need to go there and face off against the beasts beyond. Ser Barristan is convinced that by then her dragons will have grown bigger making it easier for her to ride them over the wall to fight ice with fire.
“Is there anything else?” She had called off the council meeting in favour of sitting down for a meal with Ser Barristan. Illyrio had begged off to order some ships to return to Pentos to bring forth some of his household possessions and luxuries.
Ser Barristan had steered away from the more formal atmosphere and discussed matters with her over food and wine.
“Ikko asks for you to come and take Drogon out again sometime this week and maybe for more saddles to be fitted for Viserion and Rhaegal so they can learn to be ridden too.” He says.
Dany notes that he looks a lot healthier than he did before. His eyes still hold a tangible sadness but he has filled out and stands straighter once more now that he dons the chain of the Hand.
He pauses purposefully after he speaks of her dragons to then settle on another topic. “Your grace, the maester has been to see me this morning to speak of your dothraki maid-”
“She is not my maid.” Is her automatic response.
Barristan bows his head slightly. “Forgive me your grace, I do not know her name.”
Dany stares at the rim of her wine cup and pretends she’s not avidly interested in this conversation. It’s childish and not befitting a Queen but she can’t help it. “Doreah. Her name is Doreah.”
“Doreah.” He sounds it out. “She has been awake for a few nights now and recovering well. He says that her fever has broke and that her wounds have healed well.”
He will be rewarded. “See to it that he has station within the castle. I may need to use him again.”
“Of course, your grace.” He will be put somewhere in the lower parts of the castle once they have restored the Throne room to its former glory.
Dany has walked the lower dungeons and seen the skulls of the dragons. She has called for the strongest of her men to bring them up from their hiding places to be restored into the Throne room. In the order that Viserys had told her. As long as she sits upon the Throne, as long as the Targaryen ruled, there would always be dragons in Westeros.
“What else does the maester say, Ser?” She prompts.
Barristan looks at her. It is an odd look. A small and curious look. “She has asked if you would see her.”
Of couse she has. She is alone in the tower of the Hand being guarded by Aggo and Brute with no one to talk to or see bar the servants Dany has sent to bring her food and water. She has been biding her time and refraining from seeing her since she awoke.
“You remember what dear Illyrio told you of her back in Pentos?” Dany questions. “Of her betrayal?”
“I do, your grace.”
“And what I did.”
“Yes,” He confirms.
There is no other way to approach it but honestly. “It has been almost a year yet I can still see it, hear it, feel it whenever I let my guard down.” Dany touches her forehead. “Until I found out about Jorah’s actions-”
What he did was worse, she has decided, but even still Doreah had betrayed her and Irri was dead while Jorah had been there.
“He had been dishonest and disloyal to you from the beginning.”
“Yes,” It’s hard to believe it. From the very moment he ascended the steps at her wedding celebration to hand her books and writings on the history of the Seven Kingdoms, he had been working selfishly to return home when he should have been loyal to her and returning home as a part of her army. “Before Jorah or Doreah it was only myself and Viserys and he told me that anyone I held so dear or so close to me would not hesitate to do such a thing.”
Apparently the wisest words her brother had ever spoken to her.
“He was right.” Dany admits. “I let Jorah in and he sold me out and would have done far more damage than Doreah-”
“If you had let him live.” Ser Barristan finishes. She nods. “Then why have you not gone to this woman?”
“She still betrayed my trust. I still found her sleeping with the man who led the House of the Undying to my dragons and the warlocks who almost took my life.” Her voice stings in the back of her throat. “Whatever happened- it cannot be excused. She wronged me and because of it another close friend is dead and-”
“And you torture yourself.”
Dany looks into his blue eyes. “Ser?”
He has not leant forward or reached a hand across the table, as Jorah may have done, he is the image of restraint and council. “You hold on to the memories and the feelings of her betrayal unlike Jorah’s, because you have not had the closure. You presumed her dead and now that she is alive to you, you have to deal with what it means.”
“Her presence in the castle is causing you a great discomfort.” He claims. “Not because of your anger or upset towards her, but because you have no closure with her.”
Maybe it is true, or known, as Irri would have said. But hasn’t she got enough burdens to bear already to add more?
“What would your council be, Ser?” Dany murmurs out.
“My honest council,” Barristan asserts. “Would be that you see her and question her about her presence in King’s Landing. Talk to her. Maybe through it all you will find the closure you seek.”
Or maybe a new pot of worms will be opened. “Thank you, Ser.”
She sees out the rest of the day. The work on King’s Landing proceeds as planned and much of the destroyed gates and bay are working towards completion. Her fleet helps to clear the bay of broken galleons. Many of her Braavosi have begun to wear the armour she had made for them now that the city is bending the knee and she sees a few walking the walls of the Red Keep as she makes her way to her room.
While Ser Barristan has taken up his old quarters in the White Kingsguard tower, she has acquired the chambers of the King, or rather, Queen.
When she had arrived it had been a mess. Broken wood and weapons lay everywhere and red was all she could see. Joffrey Baratheon had left all of his possessions in the room. When she had attended to Doreah in the tower of the Hand, she had Ikko and Aggo take everything out and burn everything not of worth. Now she walks into the room and it reminds her of the Khal’s tent.
A fire burns in the middle of the room in a pit. Embers spit out as she walks past it. Her bed is covered in furs and horse skins like the one where Drogo first took her, rather than the four poster Joffrey had in its stead. She keeps her possessions around her. Arakhs line the wall but Storm Born lays underneath her pillows when it is not attached to her hip.
Ser Barristan has warned her to be more vigilant now that she is Queen. Drogon is too big to guard her inside her room now and it is unfair for him to be kept inside the Keep at all times. Instead her bloodriders take turns in watching her door while she rests. Ser Barristan had quietly suggested that they would not need to do so when he chose a Queensguard for her. For the moment, however, that guard consisted only of Ser Barristan and Ser Loras Tyrell.
She has returned here to stall.
Dany pulls her leather belt that keeps Storm Born on her waist off and places it on her pillow. Then she unlaces the front of the leathers she wears on her chest, taking them off piece by piece, until she feels the warmth of the fire on her naked torso. She does the same with the heavy breeches and sandals.
Illyrio has tried, once or twice, to convince her to return to the dresses and finery that she wore in a past life when her brother was alive but she sees no benefit in lying to the people of Westeros. She is a Targaryen and when the time calls for it, such as now, she will don clothing that befits her status but she is also the blood of the dragon and khaleesi to the dothraki, and they are more her people that Westeros have been, so she will continue to wear the clothes that they have given her. She feels stronger with them on, as if Drogo himself is watching over her.
But now, as she pulls on one of the simple cream dresses she wore in Qarth, she wishes to look different from the Dothraki as if it will mark a difference between herself and Doreah, who is already somewhat out of place in King’s Landing. Even so she finds herself quickly weaving her hair into the braids she has become accustomed to.
She steps out of her room after a while and heads down into the kitchens. The cook and servants bow and curtsy to her when she enters but she kindly asks them to continue their work. The heat of the stoves quells the nerves she senses around her and she finds the young maid who has been delivering food to Doreah.
“I will be attending her tonight and we are not to be disturbed.” She informs her. The girl is of Dorne and looks much younger than the thirteen she claims to be, but she prepares the platter for Dany and offers to carry it to the tower of the hand. “Thank you.”
Dany must surprise her by talking as they walk. The girl, whose name she discovers is Alaine, was born in Dorne as she deduced and has been working in the kitchens since the Tyrells arrived at the Red Keep. Apparently she was brought with them to serve at Joffrey’s wedding.
Alaine doesn’t speak freely but Dany assures her that she will not be punished for speaking of the Lannisters’ time in the Red Keep.
They reach a comfortable silence as they climb the steps to where Doreah rests. When they arrive at the door, she sends Alaine in first while she stands to converse with Aggo, who shows her some new tricks Brute has learnt. It makes her miss when her dragons where that small.
Alaine returns without the tray. “She is asleep, your grace. I have left the food there.”
“Many thanks Alaine. You may return to your duties.” Dany waits until the girl has scampered down the steps again before pushing the door open a slip to see inside. Doreah is visible beneath the covers of the bed. Her head dents into a pillow with her brown hair splayed out across her cheeks.
A part of her had hoped she would be like this but it doesn’t excuse the need for this talk. Dany doesn’t need to ask Aggo to stay outside, he just continues to play with his pup as she silently moves into the chambers.
Her chair is there and she takes it. Alaine has lit the candle on the bedside which her hand is immediately drawn too once more, running her fingers through the flame, while her other hand pulls her braids over her right shoulder.
Doreah sleeps. Her chest moves up and down with an ease that Dany hasn’t seen since Qarth, maybe even before that. They had slept together most nights in the Red Waste and she had become accustomed to the way Doreah slept on her side, curling her legs to her chest, like she was protecting herself from something. In comparison, Irri had slept on her back without a care for who may have come crawling into her bed.
She has not slept well without either of them, though it pains her to admit it, and the nights have not been kind to her since Drogo passed to wait beside the Night Lands. She wakes with fevered dreams and terrors. The last peaceful sleep she stole was beneath the wings of Drogon. The less sleep comes, the more she can hear the darkness and polluted thoughts. The more she can see Jamie Lannister’s mocking face asking of her madness with blood staining his white teeth.
Dany has seen his head on a pike next to his sister and his father. She knows that he is dead and poses no threat to her anymore. He was a Kingslayer but did not live long enough to become a dragonslayer.
Candle flame licks at her fingertips. Fire is comforting to her. It calms her. While she keeps her face unchanging and strong she can’t deny the traces of sadness and disquiet that rattles her bones. She felt it when Tyne from Caswell appeared. She felt it when Jorah urged her to be ruthless. She feels it now as Doreah sleeps on unaware of her presence.
There is a lot to be said between them. Questions she has to ask and answers she will command Doreah to give. How did you get here? Who did this to you? What did you tell them? Why did you betray me? Why? Why?
All the same there are truths that she must face up to as well. What if she was wrong? What if she tells the truth? What if she came here to set things right and what will it all mean?
Where would they go from here?
Dany purses her fingers over the wick before extinguishing the flame. The fire casts the only light on her face now and bathes Doreah in a beautiful glow. She has seen this scene before, looked upon this and smiled once. Now an ache pulls her stomach willing her to admit everything to herself.
Despite it all, it has become impossible to deny that she has missed her.
In the mornings, in the afternoons and the evenings. She has missed her smile and her stories. She missed her like she missed Drogo, deeply and with an unswaying sad guilt, yet she is here and Drogo is not which has to count for something.
However the question still comes back to, where do they go from here? Once the questions have been asked and the truths found out, she will look upon her differently for good or bad, and then they must live with it.
“Your hair grows longer since the fires of the Red Waste.” Doreah whispers. “You wear it in a braid.”
She’s been aware of Doreah waking up for some time now. Her eyes had fluttered when she put out the candle and it had taken a moment for her to realize that Dany was sitting there next to her.
Her hair has grown. Her body may not have been burnt when she climbed upon Drogo’s pyre but a good portion of her hair was. It blackened and turned to ash at a touch. Now it is longer and as healthy as it was.
“Yes.” The air is not yet asl tense as it will be between them. Doreah has waited for her to come to see her and Dany knows that they will not get much talking done tonight. Neither of them will push for anything more than just sitting together. Though Dany can see all too clearly that she wants to. Even now, as she looks at Dany’s braid, there’s an itch in her hands to redo it in a less clumsy manner.
“Where are your bells?”
It’s strange not to hear Doreah address her as Khaleesi but she knows Doreah won’t until she has granted her permission to do so again.
“My bells?” She repeats.
“For your victories.” Doreah looks at her like she is searching for them. “The maester says that you have taken the Seven Kingdoms and Meereen and people even as far as Pentos call you their Queen. You should wear a bell for each victory.” That is the dothraki way goes unsaid.
A bell for Qarth. A bell for Meereen. A bell for Pentos. A bell for Jorah, for Joffrey, for Cersei and Jamie Lannister and their brother Tyrion and their father Tywin. Bells for all the fallen and for the cities she has burnt.
Maybe her steps have been missing that noise. She regards Doreah carefully. The woman has shied away from her gaze, still hiding her body beneath the sheets. They can’t live like this for long. They can’t. “If you were to find them,” She offers. “I would gladly wear them.”
It’s a peace offering. Peace is all she can offer without consequence. She has served Doreah a punishment for her crime and cannot bring upon another without cause. So peace be it.
Doreah sinks back to her pillow but pushes her hair out of her face. She is still thin. The food on the side is there for her to offer. “How many bells shall I seek?”
“None until you are well.”
“Yes-,” Doreah pauses so suddenly that Dany thinks there is something wrong with her, only to realize that she is physically stopping herself from calling her ‘Khaleesi’. “But how many bells will you wear?”
This will be it for tonight. Stories for Doreah. Bells for Dany. A truce until the hardships must be faced. “My count is twelve so far.”
Doreah smiles and the ache grows. “I shall find you twelve of the best then.”
Dany cannot deny the curl of her own lip and she lets it pass, they are weary and careful and there will be no confrontation tonight other than the tales she weaves to tell Doreah just what has happened since Qarth.
A dream. No darkness or terrors or Lannister faces. Just blissful rest.
She does not voice why but looks to her. Doreah is awake too, squinting against the sunlight, to watch her wake up. How long has she watched her?
Dany knows she can’t stay. While she is the Queen and respected by all in her service it does not stop the whispers from flying. All of King’s Landing may know of her restful night in the Hand’s tower even if no one knows exactly who resides there. They will think it to be Ser Barristan. She must leave and prepare for another long day.
Nevertheless, her limbs feel heavy with Doreah’s eyes on her.
She spoke for hours last night telling Doreah of the journey here. Dany was no storyteller but the look of thanks in Doreah’s eyes was enough to make her think that she was, though her thanks may have just been born because Dany was there with her.
“Aggo has been knocking.”
“-I wish to thank you-” All of her sentences are awkward and stalled as if she doesn’t know how to begin them anymore.
To thank her for what? There is so much she could choose from and a lot Dany would refuse thanks for.
“Don’t-” She stops her before Doreah can even try. A small hurt flashes on her face but it’s quickly discarded. Dany knows that she will return again tonight and it will be harder but she must come, and they must move on somehow. “You can say it again. It’s okay.”
Doreah’s face is blank for a second before it crumples. Her forehead shows a dent between her brows and her eyes close. The woman’s lips are drawn into a line. She does not sob though. Dany waits until Doreah draws in a shaky breath and her chest stops heaving.
Silent tears. “Khaleesi.”
Dany can’t stay for this. She thought herself prepared after staying and talking with her all night but just hearing Doreah address her like this once more, it feels so good and so wrong all at once. She takes to her feet and comes to perch briefly on Doreah’s bedside. “I will have someone bring up some breakfast for you. You must eat it and you must rest.” Doreah nods as she looks up at her. From this position they could almost be back in Drogo’s tent. “If you feel ill again you will call for Aggo to fetch the maester.”
Doreah mouths ‘Khaleesi’ again. A swell of emotion rises in her breast.
“I will come again tonight.” Dany promises. She goes against her resolve and brushes hair off Doreah’s forehead. “We need to talk of the Lannisters.” For they are an easier start than Qarth.
A fear passes over Doreah’s expression until Dany can’t take anymore of it and she bids her leave.
She tells Ser Barristan of the night because he will pass no ill judgement. Though he informs her of the whispers.
“Let them think what they want for now.” Dany dismisses it. “They think me strange and savage anyway.”
“They think you dothraki,” Barristan corrects with a quiet smile.
They do so only because that is how she presents herself to them. She has changed since leaving Doreah, back into leather and with Storm Born at her side, to walk with Ser Barristan to one of the open rooms in the Red Keep where Eli waits for her. She has put aside her meetings for Illyrio and Barristan to take up with while she practices.
In contrast to her Hand she supposes, she is queer to them, savage and exotic while wearing the face of something familiar. They know her as Targaryen but not as Targaryen as they are used to.
“We did not speak of anything. I told her of our course here and the battles-” She has failed in the task he set her. “It seemed easier to start with.”
“Too much in one sitting may prove ill for the both of you.” Ser Barristan holds open the door for her and the guards behind it snap to attention. “This will not be solved in a day, nor will it be solved when all is laid bare. You do plan to keep her with you in King’s Landing?”
To be honest, she hadn’t thought of it, just assumed. Where else would Doreah go?
“Would it be prudent to let her have a say in this?” She sighs. “I exiled her to freedom and now she is confined to her room.”
“I’m sure that if it was her will to escape she would have tried to by now.” Ser Barristan points out. “Give it time, your grace.”
He is her most honest and wise. More so than Illyrio. If only it had been him counselling her from the day of her wedding onwards, maybe things would have turned out differently. He leaves her with Eli to find Ser Loras and return to the small council and her mind is clearer than before.
“Are you ready to begin, Khaleesi?” Eli draws a steel blade and motions for her to start her dance with him.
Storm Born weighs well in her hands. She has washed off Jamie Lannister’s blood and taken a whetstone to it yet sometimes it looks as if red settles in the dothraki script engraved on it. It will always remember the first life it took.
They dance. Steel on steel and singing rings in the air. Unlike in Pentos there is no one to watch her or cheer, but there is also no one to jeer when she falls or misses a blow. Eli talks to her as they spar. Complimenting her on her skills and practice as well as getting her to open up about Storm Born’s first kill.
“A Queen’s blade for the Kingslayer.” He praises as he blocks her next attack. “They will tell the tale for years to come and write it all down in history.”
Dany grunts as she exerts her strength.
“He was wounded.” She counters and spins out of the way when he takes a charge to her. “He had no right hand.”
Eli swings once, twice, forcing her to block and stand her ground against the sword. “A killer does not lose his instincts just because he has lost a hand.” Dany pushes him back. “You bested him.”
It doesn’t feel like she did especially now when Eli manages to disarm her. It did not feel like she bested him then either as he laughed at her and cried out for her madness. The Gods may have been watching over her that day.
Dany takes up her sword again and continues until her arm aches to hold Storm Born and she has nicked her knuckles and shoulders from coming too close to Eli’s blade.
Their session ends but he stays to sup with her. She has missed being able to take time for herself. Though it is a small sacrifice in the short term, Dany admits to him, she feels overwhelmed by it all. “Viserys always made it sound as if it were going to be easy.”
“He lied.” Eli suggests. “He lied because it will not be easy. Ruling will never be easier. But it will get better Khaleesi.”
When he leaves she sits for a while. She can’t bare to go back to Doreah just yet nor can she hope to concentrate on matters of state like this either. So she flees for freedom.
Ikko welcomes her heartily as she rides into the dragon-pit a half hour later. Once again her disguise has fooled most of King’s Landing into seeing nothing more than a crone on a horse. If they cared to look closer they would see that the horse was bred better than any common mare. They would look upon their Queen for the first time. Even so she doubts that many would know who she was, they have not seen her in public yet, only on her dragons.
She takes to the ground and her children roar at the sight of her. It’s almost an age for them. She has been too cooped up and troubled to visit other than for times at night. Now she wants to take them flying.
“Ikko, hash yer dothrae chek asshekh?” How is he? Does he ride well today? She gestures to Drogon.
Ikko looks to her biggest dragon with an open mouth but he doesn’t lie. “Sek, Khaleesi.” Yes, but Drogon is no horse, he knows this.
Dany teases him. “Gerat ahilee?”
Ikko laughs loudly.
She knew she had him as soon as she questioned whether or not he had the balls. Dany rises into the saddle with ease and pulls Ikko behind her. He secures them together with shaking hands while she laughs at Drogon’s curious expression.
He is brave. Braver than many of her dothraki men who still fear the water. Though while Ikko screams in delight as they kick off from the sand and into the clouds, he still yells a little in protest as Drogon steers them to skip over the water of the bay.
Dany hears his screams echo in the voices of many on the ground who look up in wonder. Their screams are in awe, not fear, like they were a few moons ago. Ikko points out to her the buildings he has seen and the places that he has ridden. She slips back into dothraki because she misses its roughness and Drogon keeps them flying around the city until she has seen all of King’s Landing.
It is a sight to behold. The damage of war has weakened it but she can see where her hand has started to rebuild the city. Visenya’s Hill disappears under Drogon’s wings and she can see the Great Sept of Baelor as they ride past. The khalasar of tents outside the walls are a mass of yellow and burnt orange. She can see many of her dothraki and their horses keeping the peace and children that squeal as she brushes over the walls of the city.
King’s Landing is broken, just like much of her Kingdoms, but she will repair it and restore it to the greatness it once was and maybe that will be her legacy in the end.
When they land Ikko is the first to dismount. Dany laughs wildly at him as he pretends to kiss the floor and he thanks her for the experience. She has missed this. She misses being surrounded by a dothaki khalasar and laughing and horses and celebrations and her son and Drogo. She misses the dothraki sea but this is her home and her sea now.
As Ikko tosses raw meat to Viserion and Rhaegal and Drogon, she wonders if she will ever see the dothraki sea again. When she dies she will be put to rest wherever she may want. If she had a son then she could pass the throne to him before that.
‘Then what would you do?’ Dany thinks. ‘Leave Westeros like you were exiled and run back to the dothraki?’
Drogo’s kos had said when he died that they would take her to the Dosh Khaleen to live out the rest of her days as an honoured member of Vaes Dothrak. Would she still be welcome there?
“I will see you back safe to the stone house, Khaleesi.” Ikko says. He brings them horses and as she dons her crone’s hood once more she attempts to get him to pronounce ‘castle’ rather than stone house.
The time has passed faster than she wished it to. Ikko sees her safe and then departs once more to the dragon pit. He tells her that he has a tent there with Wren and they keep her children company, like Aggo with Brute, but she can tell that he longs to ride out. Perhaps Ser Barristan was right to think about assembling a Queensguard. Her dothraki prefer to fight than to guard.
A few of her servants attend to her when she enters the Red Keep once more. They offer her water and wine and ask if she wishes to eat. She politely accepts if only to delay her return to Doreah.
Once more she strips the leathers from her body and places Storm Born under her pillows. A few of the braver servants compliment on her dress when they return with a simple broth. Dany thanks them and then dismisses them to eat. Her appetite hasn’t fared well since Pentos, out of nerves, but she manages to keep it down.
Dany steels herself when she leaves her room to seek out the Hand’s tower when she’s cornered by Ser Loras. “Good evening, your grace.”
He looks a far cry from his appearance weeks ago in the Red Keep when he was dressed all in white. Ser Barristan has gifted him with a new armour that he had a hand in designing. Ser Loras’ armour was not black but a dark moss colour, swirling with adorning blossoms on the chest plate, covered with the long white cloak of the Queensguard.
Although Ser Barristan hadn’t officially started to pick the knights that would protect her, they had both silently agreed that Ser Loras would be apart of that order. He had proved himself in battle even before they came to meet and his family had been quick to offer their loyalty and support in rebuilding the city and keeping the peace.
“Ser Loras, what do I owe the pleasure?” Dany asks.
His curls fall over his face in a charming sort of way. In another life, if she were highborn in a different family, the fates may have brought them together in a different match than Queen and Knight. “The pleasure would be mine to escort you to the Tower of the Hand.”
As a few servants scurry past Ser Loras raises his voice a little louder. “Ser Barristan begs an audience.”
She’s about to correct him and say that it is Ser Barristan who should come before her when the servants stop and chatter amongst themselves. The whispers in the halls.
Ser Loras does not look to them but it is clear that Ser Barristan has sent him to throw off the suspicions about why Daenerys is keeping company in his chambers. “I would be glad of it.” She asserts. Ser Loras offers his arm to her and she places her hand in the crook of his elbow. “I have not yet had a chance to commend you on your actions during the Siege of the Red Keep.”
The smallfolk have many names for her battle. They cannot call it the sack because that has already been taken. Most name it the Siege as she had come to reclaim her throne and take back what was hers. However, privately, Dany rather prefers the Massacre of Lions so that there is no misunderstanding.
“It is I that should be thanking you, your grace.” Ser Loras states. “Many a man would not have heard me out but saw which side I stood on in the heat of it all and cut me down.”
Dany’s fingers are cooled by his armour. “I am no man, Ser. And if I were to cut down every House and Knight that fought for a side that was not mine then there would be no houses left for me to rule.”
He seems to understand this. “If there had been any signs-”
“I’m sure there were.” Dany interrupts. “The Seven Kingdoms had not forgotten my father or his children, but we were two against all the power of the Baratheons and Lannisters and Starks.”
She smiles though. “Now I am one.” Viserys is gone. “And it would have been foolish for anyone to have sided with me then as one against Westeros.”
“But there were those who did.” Ser Loras claims. “Ser Barristan came to you. He knew.”
“Yes he did, but he did not come at first.” Dany tells him. “Before him all I had were my brother and the people he sold me to.”
Ser Loras keeps his words to himself as she reveals a little of her recent years. No doubt he has heard much of this from Ser Barristan as he and Illyrio are working on writing her history while they look for more members of the small council.
“And then they died and I had to lead my people with my strength and-”
“Dragons, your grace.” Ser Loras utters.
Dany hears the spark in his voice. “Have you seen them since?”
“No.” He admits hastily. “Not since the battle. I never dreamed I would. They were stories to me as a child.”
Dany understands this. They were myths to all, even to her own family, as they died out over one hundred and fifty years ago. Now she owns the only three living dragons in the world. “Aren’t we all stories in the end? They will write of my dragons, they will write of me and they have no doubt already written of you and your valour and bravery.”
Ser Loras has taken his time in seeing her to the Hand’s Tower but she finds that she doesn’t mind so much. Illyrio is right. To be loved is worth so much more than to be feared. “Ser Barristan says that you did not serve the Lannisters until before the Battle at Blackwater Bay where you rode against Stannis Baratheon.”
“That is true, your grace.” He confirms. His voice stiffens suddenly.
“I do not question your loyalty here, Ser Loras, I am curious.” Dany can see their direction now. “I only wonder who was it that you last pledged your life and sword to because it was not the Lannisters otherwise we would not be walking here now.”
The young knight bows his head and they come to a neat stop outside the steps to the Hand’s Tower. Aggo will be waiting for her ascent with his pup and Doreah behind that. Dany waits, however, for her answer.
“Speak freely, Ser.”
Ser Loras cannot be more than twenty yet his face shows an age that he doesn’t seem able to shake. “I fought for Renly Baratheon.”
“You were his squire once, were you not?”
He nods. “We grew up together.”
“You were fond of him.” He doesn’t answer her with anything other than a short nod. She did not expect him to. Losing someone close to you is a pain that she can share with him. “You keep with the Seven?”
He nods again.
“Even so, Vod chafaan.” Dust to the wind. “He will ride with his ancestors and brother in the Night Lands. One day you will be united.”
Ser Loras thanks her. “Though, I hope that day is not for a long time.”
He releases his arm and begins his way back to his duties. She never asked Ser Barristan why Ser Loras picked the green he wears for his armour rather than black, she assumed it was for his family, but maybe it meant more.
With some reluctance she starts to climb the stairs once again. It’s almost as if she never left by the time she reaches Aggo again. Dany doesn’t stop to witness any new tricks but pushes open the door to the chambers.
The light of the late afternoon still streams into the room with a cool breeze that duels with the heat of the fire. Dany closes the door behind her before she turns to assess the room. Her chair has not been moved but a few other things have. More logs rest by the fire and clothes have been left over the desk in the room. Doreah herself sits in the middle of the grand bed, facing the porch until she arrived, now she glances nervously in her direction.
Maybe it’s just the light of day but Doreah’s face looks fuller and brighter. Evidence of her eating rests on the end of the bed and someone has bathed her. While the Maester had informed her of her injuries, she has not seen them since she stood with him to clean them.
Ser Barristan had bid that she leave it to the Maester but she couldn’t. These marks were in a small way, her fault, and the last time she trusted a healer so blindly she was harshly reminded of how little life was actually worth. Not again.
She has seen the deep stripes on Doreah’s back. She has seen the bruises on her face. She has felt the broken bones and swallowed back her bile as the Maester cleaned the blood from her jaw and mouth. She has seen all that and more.
“Khaleesi.” Doreah whispers it, unsure if Dany will let her say it.
“How do you feel?” Dany strides around the room first. She glances at the desk and the half eaten food. The water is all gone and a new candle has been brought. There is no one outside on the porch and no listening ears underneath the window. Only when all this has been checked does she circle the room to take her chair. Doreah watches her move it forward slightly, to make up for the distance Doreah has placed by sitting in the middle of the bed.
“Awake.” Doreah offers like she cannot figure it out. “Awake and tired at the same time.”
Dany sits up straight. An instinct that has been with her all her life but only recently enforced once more from having to sit on the Iron Throne. For all its imagery, it was not a comfortable seat. “Did you sleep at all last night?”
Doreah appears guilty for a second. “A little.”
‘She must have watched me to make sure that I was there for most of the night,’ Dany parts her lips with a silent sigh. ‘I should have left.’
“This will not be easy.” She warns. “I cannot say that I know everything will be alright for us after everything is laid bare.”
Doreah pauses. “I know, Khaleesi.”
Dany stares at her deeply before going on. Taking the time to remember what it felt like to look upon her face. She knows Doreah’s tale will be a long one but she vows not to stay all night again. Doreah needs to rest. They both do. “Tell me only what you think I should hear.”
Doreah panics quickly and jumps into words in an attempt to reassure her. “I told the Lions nothing Khaleesi. Nothing. Not even when Baelish dragged me here.”
“Baelish?” She knows that name. He was one of Joffrey’s small council. The only man that she has not found yet.
Doreah nods. “I came across the Free Cities. I did not know what to do after Qarth,” After she exiled her. “So I came here. I knew that one day you would cross and change this place forever.”
It stays unspoken the reason she came to King’s Landing. She came to find her. Forgiveness.
“I found passage from Lys to Dorne to King’s Landing and tricked Baelish, he was the master of coin for a while, into giving me work here. Not my body. Never my body.” She assures with desperation and sadness. “But I told stories. Men came and I bought them with my words.”
“Of me.” Dany realizes. “You told them of me.”
Doreah nods. “And he came for me one day after I sent a raven to Illyrio-”
She pleads to her so sweetly that Dany almost misses it.
“Wait,” Dany stops her abruptly. “You sent Illyrio a raven? When was this?” Did she miss the message? Or had he withheld it?
“I can’t remember. I sent so many.” Doreah shakes her head. “I never signed them Khaleesi. It was news. News of Westeros.”
Illyrio’s letters. Illyrio’s contact. Doreah. “You were my source.”
A sigh of relief. “They found you.”
“They did but then they stopped.” Dany mentions. “We did not hear from you long after I came to Pentos.”
“Baelish arrested me and took me to the gaolers. Lannister men with swords. Apparently I had said something interesting that they wished for the court to hear.” Doreah pulls her knees up to her chest. “It was almost a week that he left me to rot in the cells below the keep but I would have stayed there forever rather than face any of the Lannisters.”
She can imagine it now that she has walked her Throne room. How they would have dragged her by her hair and arms and thrown her to the floor before the King and his council. They would have laughed at her appearance, dirty and wounded, and her tears.
“He brought me before the boy, the King, the little Lion.” Dany sees her start to shake but Doreah doesn’t even realize. “They asked me to tell him a story. The story I told the men in the pleasure house. I asked him whether or not they would pay me.”
Dany is silent until Doreah lets out a forced laugh. “They didn’t appreciate that.”
“I have no doubt.” The Little Lion did not seem one for jokes that he did not put forth. Doreah’s sly charms would have been an insult.
“Then I asked them which tale they meant for I had many of exotic women.”
Dany remembers a lot of them. Irogena. Vexus. Naaz of Myr.
“I kept it up as long as I could until the little lion grew impatient.” She looks up to Dany with confident eyes yet she will not call Joffrey by his name. Fear. “I could take the beatings. The dothraki are brutal though they were my family and they taught me well.”
Yes. “But they didn’t just beat you.”
Doreah’s lip quivers even as she tries to put on a brave face. “They took a whip to me when I started to speak in Dothraki. They wanted to hear your story. It’s not my fault they couldn’t understand.”
She has seen the marks they gave to her along her back. They were deep and gashing and even now as they’ve healed they are long and pink. Was it worth the pain? To defy them?
“But he was a bad aim you see?” Doreah points to a thin faded scar that comes up under her chin. “The little lion had no business with a whip. He had someone else do it for him.”
The words echo and Dany realizes something else. With a grave tone she asks; “What else did he have other men do for him?”
“They liked to try a few things.” Doreah keeps adding little laughs on the end of her sentences as if laughing makes it easier to think about. “He liked to threaten me, the little lion, talked about ripping out my tongue or gutting me.”
Dany bites back on her own tongue as hard as she dares and she starts to notice little things. Places on the side of Doreah’s head where her hair has been ripped and now grows short and spikey. Bite marks.
Doreah looks up a few times. “He was no Drogo, Khaleesi. Drogo would have torn the little lion to pieces. His guards too.”
Dany forces her voice to level. “Drogo would have crushed his skull between his hands.”
“He was a little thing wasn’t he?” Doreah confirms. Dany nods. She had not killed Joffrey. Ser Barristan had. It was her gift to him for his dismissal and shame. But she had walked over his body and kicked the crown off his head. He was a small thing.
“He had a lot of blood.” She keeps her eyes on Doreah’s knees. “His death was painful.”
“I’m glad.” Doreah asserts.
She will bear the scars forever. “Tell me.”
Doreah wrings her clasped hands around her knees. Her whole body tremors. “I was a whore, Khaleesi. For all my days and nights spent with my people and you and Irri, I’ve always been reminded of what I was.”
“Words, Doreah. That is only a word.” Dany knows now is not the time to shy away from reaching out to her, so she extends her hand. “That is not what you are. You are qoy qoyi.”
Doreah takes her extended hand with a sob and holds on for dear life. Dany leans forward in her chair to lace their fingers together. “Khaleesi, they gave me no words.” She starts to shudder with sobs now that Dany is touching her. “I would not let them have my words of you. I would not let them-”
A chill creeps up her spine and twists a bolt in the back of her neck. “They took your body instead.”
“I could not fight them Khaleesi, I could not.”
“No, no, hush-” Issues are pushed away and Dany crawls over the bed to Doreah’s side. The girl will not let go of her hand and she flinches in surprise when Dany pulls her legs over hers. “It’s okay. It’s okay-”
It does not come easily as Doreah fights the instinct to curl into her. Dany’s words in Qarth still cut her and she has to battle her own obedience when Dany presses her forehead into the side of her hair.
“I’m sorry-” She cries out. The words slice against her and Dany thinks this is what agony sounds like.
“No. There is nothing-”
“Did you tell them about me?” Dany closes her eyes.
“Then there is nothing for you to apologise about.” Dany knows that there may come a conversation where this is reversed but that has not come yet. “It is I who should-” She whispers but can’t finish the sentence. Doreah cries enough that she does not hear it.
She should be the one apologising. If Doreah had not known her at all she would have never been taken or violated in that. If she had not exiled Doreah into freedom she would have been with her in Qarth out of reach of the little lion and his men. If Doreah had not been so loyal to her even after everything Dany put her through, she would have been safer.
“Do you know who they are, qoy qoyi?” She utters into Doreah’s hair. The girl loosens her grip on her hand enough so that she can hold her better. It strikes her for a second that this is the closest she’s held another person since she last slept beside Doreah and Irri. “Name them or see them and they will die screaming as I promised.”
But they never gave their names and they were all of the City Watch, Doreah stresses, and Dany has to grit her teeth as more enemies slip through her fingers. “Anni haj lajak. Anni haj lajak.”
My strong fighter.
Still Doreah prays. “I told them nothing.”
“I believe you.” Dany avows and finds herself meaning it. If Doreah had said anything, the lions would have known of her advance.
“I could never, not after what-” Doreah skims the line that they know lies between them. The incident they have to confront. Qarth and her dragons. “Khaleesi, I have to explain.”
But it is too soon. “Not tonight. We have said too much for tonight.” She may hold her and comfort her but she has not the strength to hear her pleas for forgiveness just yet.
“I had not lay with a man since I left you.” Doreah confesses. Her tears have driven a delirious sound to her voice. “And then I lay with many.”
“You did not break, anni haj lajak.”
“I did not fight.”
Dany rests her fingers between the loose dreads in Doreah’s hair. “You did not give up either.”
Doreah quietens soon after. Her sobs subsided and she leant heavily against Dany’s body. The closeness would soon become a problem but Dany can’t let go of her.
They took her body when they could not get her to speak of her march to Westeros. They violated her and beat her and threatened to kill her. Dany has seen more marks than Doreah had pointed to so she knows that there is more to the story there. Then they left her to fester in the dungeons with fever and hunger until Aggo freed her from her cell and brought her to the foot of her Throne and back into her arms.
Here she is again in her arms. Tired and torn but alive. She is alive and strong and Dany hopes that she is strong enough still to get through more.
Doreah has wrought sleep out of her tears and trauma so much so that she doesn’t arise when Dany carefully lays her back on her pillows nor when she wipes a wet cloth over her cheeks. She murmurs to her as she brushes the cloth over her dried tears. “You did not give me to them even when they took everything from you.”
“When you had nothing left you still fought to keep me there. To keep me from them.” Dany gasps silently as a wave of shame floods her. “When it was I that allowed them to take you.”
She will leave before Doreah wakes in the morning. She will leave a token of food and a note from her hand telling her that she will call upon her soon and that she is free to wander the castle if she feels well enough to do so. She will leave out all the words she hopes to convey to Doreah, her thanks and gratitude, and hope that she will be able to tell her as much herself soon.
“Remekat chekl, anni haj lajak.” Sleep well, my strong fighter, she delivers her prayer.
In the morning the light of day will bring all anew.
“I may be a Lannister, but I don’t like hurting women for sport.” He pressed. “That was my nephew’s game, not mine.”
He wore no chains because he wasn’t fool enough to try and outrun her mounted dothraki men.
“Do you know the names of the men on the City Watch that she spoke of?” Dany had asked.
“Not the names, no.” Tyrion had apologised. “But I never forget a face.”
Beneath the throne room they held captive hundreds of Lannister men that fought against her. Many were to be executed soon, many would be left to rot, all she brought forward to have Tyrion look upon. When all was said and done six men trembled on their knees. All named men of the City Watch.
“Ikko, adakhilat rek hrakkaris anni zhavvorsa.” She spat out so fiercely that the men would swear they saw her breathe fire. That is, until they were given to her dragons.
“I need no thanks.” Tyrion stated after they were taken away. “I only wish to know what you will do with me.”
Dany sat still on the Iron Throne. “By right you still own Casterly Rock. You are it’s heir.” She turned her stone gaze on him. “When I deem it possible, that is where you will return to live out your days.”
“And what of my lady wife?” Tyrion inquired.
“It has been dealt with.”
Tyrion grunted gruffly. “She will be pleased no doubt.” He did not argue of her terms; that he would take no wife and bear no children and upon his death a new lord would take Casterly Rock from him, he just nodded and bowed and gratefully thanked her for not sending him to the wall.
She knew it killed him to say such things and she would not take her eye off him even when he left King’s Landing.
Dany attends her meetings and her practices and calls upon her dragons and says nothing to anyone about her ongoings in the morning. She knows that Ser Barristan is aware of the men she has had killed but he doesn’t say anything when he goes about their meeting with Illyrio.
She holds her tongue until she sits with her back to Doreah in the Hand’s chambers at the end of the day.
Doreah acquired the bells that she promised. They lay on the bed beside them both while Doreah slowly braids her hair.
It’s an intricate process that Doreah and Irri used to exchange. They would sit inside her tent and teach her the dothraki language as they wove her white hair into masses of braids that wound into one. Now it is just Doreah, who doesn’t seem to have lost the touch, even though she has not done it for near a year. Her own hair is damaged and tangled. While Dany feels as though she should offer to help, there is still a line between them, so she will call upon one of the handmaidens to come and help her. Maybe that Lys maid she has seen wandering aimlessly in the kitchens. No doubt Doreah would feel so out of place with it all to be waited on like a lady.
Doreah is careful not to let her hands linger too much on Dany’s neck but every time their skin brushes a shiver runs up her spine.
Near a year ago she thought about killing Doreah, about sowing her lips together or choking her, her rage was so big and now they sit together once more. Her fury has been reigned in and she has permitted Doreah to address her again. How much a year has changed them.
When the braid is done Doreah pulls it down so that it falls between her shoulder blades. Then she reaches for the first bell.
“Mirri Maaz Durr.” Doreah utters as she places the first bell at the very top of her braid.
“The first.” Dany confirms. These bells represent victories but not all of them will be battles.
The second, third and fourth. “Qarth and Xaro. The House of the Undying.” All burnt to the ground and dead.
Doreah is careful to keep them from ringing just yet. “Meereen.” Meereen where they made her Queen.
From here Doreah needs her to call them out. The next bell, the sixth, falls midway. “Jorah Mormont.” Her hand rests there longer than the others. Dany can’t turn around nor can she tell her what they spoke of when he was killed. “He was not the man he presumed to be.”
In the end they never were.
Seven. “The Black Assassin in Pentos.” The one she fought. The one Ser Barristan slew.
Eight. Nine. “Kingslayer. House Lannister.” Ten. Eleven. “King’s Landing. The Massacre of Lions.”
Doreah goes to finish and have Dany stand so that the bells chime together for the first time but Dany picks up one of the bells that she has spare. “The City Watchmen.”
A hand takes the last bell and holds onto the tips of her fingers. She holds it for as long as it takes Doreah to understand that those men have been taken care of. Then the bell is fastened at the end of her braid.
She doesn’t turn until she has stood and the bells ring out as promised. She has never worn bells before. Not like Drogo or her bloodriders, her kos, who wore them proudly while she wore none. Now she has more than most of them.
Doreah has tears in her eyes when she meets her gaze. “Thank you Khaleesi.”
She wonders if the dothraki had a word for thank you, would it sound as grateful as Doreah does now?
Dany moves and crouches beside the bed. “They will never hurt you again, anni haj lajak. They will never hurt anyone again.”
She nods with her. “Anni atthirar, yeri atthirar.”
‘Yes’ She thinks. ‘You have said that before.’ On a distant night where they lay beneath the stars of the red waste to watch the red comet pass over the sky. Where she had asked why Doreah still came with her when she could be free.
“My life is your life, Khaleesi.” She had said with a dry throat but a wide smile. “Anni atthirar, yeri atthirar.”
“Anni.” Dany replies. It is hers.
Doreah accepts her excuses to leave, to be alone and think, and bids her a good night. As she walks from the tower the bells play with her every step. Dany realizes that it is almost impossible for dothaki to sneak up on people. It explains a lot about their battle tactics. Charge and plunder.
Aggo is there to compliment her on the new additions as she passes. “Hajas, Khaleesi.”
She does need time to think. She needs air and space and for everything to start feeling as though it is right.
King’s Landing is her home. Her rightful home. Her dragons are safe and growing. Ser Barristan guides her. Illyrio has kept her city from its debts. Doreah lives. Yet she walks the halls now still waiting. For what? For the North to come into line? For the people to return to their homes? For Stannis Baratheon? For the wildlings beyond the wall? For the cold winds to rise and see summer truly away?
For things to finally start sticking and not falling from her like petals from roses.
Dany retires quickly out of sight and into her chambers. The fires have been burning well and the heat caresses her body, easing her troubles, and trying to chip away her tension.
She strips and dresses for sleep. Glimpses of dreams come to her and she hopes for an easy rest and peace. Or even something to rouse her in the middle of the night with enough feeling to take away the knots in her shoulders.
Something to make her feel less alone.
“Anni atthirar, yeri atthirar.” The night whispers to her.
But she is not alone and all alone at once.
Dany does not sleep until the fires die to embers and the darkness envelops her and the whispers that have feasted on her.
With her sleeplessness, the troubles followed.
“What do they ask of us?” Dany rubs her head. The sand colours of the Red Keep are starting to hurt her eyes. The crown weighs heavily. “Do they need more men?”
Ser Barristan shakes his head. “They only ask that Sansa Stark be the one to give out the Queen’s justice.”
Dany bristles. “I am the Queen.”
“And you are a thousand leagues from the Twins or Riverrun where they will capture Lord Walder Frey.” Illyrio interjects. “Lady Stark acts on your command.”
The House of Frey did not reply to their warnings. They did not acknowledge their crimes. They did not return the mutilated bodies of Robb Stark or his mother, Catelyn Stark. Now they would not know of their coming.
“They will trial all of those involved in the North and justice will befall those that murdered Robb and Catelyn Stark.” Ser Barristan adds.
“And then their bodies will return to the Stark family.” Dany knows this. “What of the Twins?”
The Freys are guilty and a lot of them bound for death. Bastard sons and daughters had no claim to the lands of their Lord father. Dividing the land and seeking a new Lord to replace him would mean more work for her.
“We are looking, your grace.”
She is tired. The unkind nights have tried her patience and each new morning brings more and more for her to deal with. If it is not the Freys then it is-
“Stannis Baratheon has sent another raven challenging your claim to the throne.” Illyrio recites. “He proposes that you step down and renounce your family’s hold to the kingdoms.”
“Tell Stannis Baratheon that I am tired of men proposing to me and that he has no claim to the throne as my blood and house are the rightful rulers of the Seven Kingdoms.” Dany fires out. “If he should claim otherwise then I would be only too happy to see to it that he joins the fate of the Lannisters.”
Illyrio pens this quickly. Ser Barristan heeds it more closely. “He will try to inspire war.”
“I am ready for war.” Dany states. “He does not wish to know how ready I am.”
As long as she has dragons, no man or army may stand before her. Let the kingdoms tear themselves to pieces when the last of them die out. For now, they are hers to wield.
Her master of coin produces yet another letter and she sighs. “Word from our friends in Dorne.”
“News of Clegane?” She asks.
“Bad news I am afraid...”
She thought as much but Illyrio still tells her that no less than seventeen men have been killed in their attempts to take down Ser Clegane. “Send out a raven, maybe if we offer someone the Twins they will be more inclined to bring the Dornishmen his head.”
When Illyrio huffs about small matters she waves it off. “A joke.”
The sooner he is caught, the better, for then she will have Dorne back to command.
“Is that all for today?” She hopes it is. Just say yes. Just say yes so she can ride to see her dragons and have a second for herself-
“I’m afraid not, your grace.” Illyrio apologises.
“Is it a money problem?” Dany asks, covering her eyes now.
“No.” Illyrio professes. “More tokens from your suitors-”
At this she slams her hand against the wood of the table. A wine glass jumps. “I have no suitors.”
Ser Barristan holds his tongue. While he supports her notion to forget these fallacies, Illyrio continues to entertain them. “Several good Lords from the Reach and Stormlands bid for an audience. Their sons-”
“Their sons will do nothing more for me than swear their loyalty and take up arms to defend the kingdom when I see it so.” Dany stands. She has had enough. “You have served me well and kindly, my dear Illyrio, but you will think twice before you insult me by bringing this issue up again.”
“This meeting is done.” She declares as she rounds the table. A few seconds later Ser Barristan has caught up with her.
“Your grace.” He shouts for her as she crosses the courtyard.
“I will not have it Ser.” Dany whirls around to object. “I will not sit upon my throne and be peered and gazed upon by braidless boys who want nothing more than to claim something from me. I am wed. Before the mother of mountains and Vaes Dothrak and he spits on that-”
He waits until she has wrestled the words out and stands with her chest heaving under her fury. “I will speak with him and convince him of this, your grace.”
But he doesn’t leave. “Is there another matter? Can we not leave it until the morrow?”
“I would rather not if you are headed to speak with Doreah.”
Doreah has been moved into new chambers now that she is well enough. Dany no longer seeks out the Tower of the Hand. “What is your business with her?”
Ser Barristan hands her a letter. “A proposal.”
The room is lavish and warm. As in her own, Doreah has opted for reminders of the khalasar. Only splashes of Westerosi dress and luxuries set her room apart. There are no weapons on the wall other than the guards that Dany passes outside her room.
Protected, he’d said.
“Khaleesi.” Doreah greets her. If she senses her mood then she does well to conceal her reaction to it.
“Doreah, Hash yer dothrae chek asshekh?” She prefers to shy away from the common tongue when they are together, or when she is with her dothraki men. It makes her feel more at home. So Doreah follows.
“I am well Khaleesi.” She answers. “Lord Illyrio says that he will call upon me later for my hand in writing.”
“Deny him.” Dany ordered suddenly. The idea of her spending time with Illyrio, who has caused her enough grief today without him whispering all kinds of things to Doreah, irks her. “He should not presume you to do his work for you when you have other things to do.”
For a second she sees something curious flash over Doreah’s face but it is soon gone. “Other things?” Doreah echoes.
Dany moves forward and presents her with the scroll that Ser Barristan entrusted her with. “A request, if you shall consent to it.”
Doreah’s eyes latch onto hers before she breaks the wax on the letter.
“Khaleesi-” She starts before she has properly read the letter and makes a noise of excitement soon after. “Khaleesi this is too much. An honour.”
Dany looks over the top of the letter. “A great honour.” But not one that she thought of.
Doreah winds the letter into her hands and holds it against her chest. It may not have been her idea but she gave it to Doreah. It is her will that decides it. It would be cruel to go against her council and deny something that will ultimately bring good tidings to her people for once.
“I understand that it is a lot to ask.” Dany grants. “But I would ask you to take a place upon my small council. As the ears and eyes of my city.”
Her whisperer. Her mistress of whispers.
Doreah is beaming so widely that she almost wants her to say no. “I would accept, Khaleesi.”
The Queen’s spymaster. Ser Barristan had filled her in. The position was usually given to someone of low birth and presented them the title of Lord, though they would possess no lands, and they were charged with receiving and gather intelligence from the Red Keep and King’s Landing as well as the Seven Kingdoms and the Free Cities. Just as Doreah had been doing before she was arrested.
Dany’s face betrays her discomfort when she realizes that the last whisperer was the one that Jorah was sending his word to. She is tasking Doreah to acquire a similar trade.
“A storm brews on your brow, Khaleesi.” Doreah’s excitement is quelled and she motions for Dany to sit on the bed. “It is written in your face.”
“The day has been trying.”
“The days, Khaleesi.” Doreah corrects. There is a trace of her old confidence there, laced with uncertainty. “That crown weighs heavily on your head but more on your shoulders.”
“I knew it would.” Dany sighs. “I am Queen now.”
“You have a kingdom to do your bidding.”
“A kingdom to run.” Dany utters to correct her. “The weight is more when you have to rule.”
Doreah place the scroll to one side. “Here, Khaleesi.”
Doreah does not move quickly. She moves slowly and has Dany watch her every motion until her hands rest on the back of her neck. When there is nothing else said she kneads in a little. A knot pinches between Doreah’s hands and she works effortlessly against the tension in Dany’s back.
A touch takes her to the Red Waste and to the days of the unending sun and hopeless chasing of the pyramid. Back when everything seemed lost and she had to be the strength for her fledgling khalasar. Back when she would sit in silence when they made camp until Doreah sat behind her and took it away. The touch to her neck. The touch to her shoulders and back.
And then more.
But now the touch sends a shock to her. The touch against her leg takes it away.
“What are you doing?” Dany balks suddenly. Doreah flinches from her as she gets to her feet and away from her words and comfort. A stupid move. A stupid move. This is what they did then. What Doreah gave to her in the Red Waste. Comfort. “Do not presume that- I did not come here for that.”
Sickness comes quicker than the feeling of insult. Doreah has told her of what the City Watch did to her and yet she is still so quick to offer herself to Dany. For comfort. For use. And she thought that would make things better?
This is what has been keeping her awake at night. This nagging feeling of hurt and wounded pride. The line that they tug and tug but never cross. Dany burns to cut the damn wire and drop them both into the depths of it all. So she does.
“I don’t think you understand just how you have made me feel. How you make me feel.” Dany feels her throat tighten. Her words aren’t angry but they’re not passive either. “You were my closest friend. I trusted you and you betrayed me.”
Doreah bows her head at the strain in her voice. She knows where this is going. It is the thing that hangs in the air between them constantly. It is the unspoken and the tense. Doreah cannot apologise enough and Dany cannot bring herself to let things fall as they may. They try to repair it and repent and carry on but they can’t. A standstill.
“I’m not good at any of this. I never was.” She stalks to the window in Doreah’s chambers. Now that she’s well enough they have moved her from the tower of the Hand. According to Illyrio this was the room that housed Cersei Lannister. She briefly wonders what happened to the Lioness during her time in here.
The view is one of the sea. A full moon gleams over the water and it reminds her more and more.
“Why should I trust you? Why should I forgive you?” Dany echoes. It’s for her own sake mostly. They have started to work on this day by day. Since she gave her bells, Doreah has spent time with Illyrio learning the ways of Westeros and detailing Dany’s journey since her birth. Her story telling will be put to good use. And now she will be even closer, on her council, and Dany will have to look at her and suppress these feelings.
Yet the time they spend alone together is fraught with tension and unfinished sentences and misread signals. Her touch-
Doreah told the Lannisters nothing yet Dany can’t bring herself to welcome her so freely as Ser Barristan would have her do. She repeats all the things she screamed at Doreah so long ago in her mind at night. The vows she made and the threats she has not gone through. Ser Barristan knows not of the specifics. He cares only for the future.
“The council is small and needing.” He’d said to her. “Doreah, this woman, you say that she possesses the skills to help you. She was your source here.”
He would have her come to council. A dothaki woman for her master of whispers. The ears of her council. She has no doubt that Doreah would be up to the task but can she have her there when they are so far apart emotionally?
“I cannot beg for you to forgive me.” Doreah murmurs. “‘I can only beg that you do not ask me to leave.”
The bells in her hair ring when she turns around. Doreah keeps her eyes on her know. There is part of this conversation that they need to have as equals.
“You would rather I never forgave you as long as you didn’t have to go?” Dany questions her curiously. “You could stand that?”
“I could stand it as long as I was around you.”
It makes no sense for Doreah to admit she would rather Dany hate her and mistrust her until the end of their days than send her away again. Is freedom really that hard of a price to pay? Is she really worth more than freedom to her?
“Khaleesi,” Doreah laces her fingers together and the motion makes Dany notice the clothes she is wearing. Doreah no longer looks like a dothraki slave. The merchants of King’s Landing equipped her with silks and soft materials. She no longer wears her hair in a braid, Dany is afraid to ask how long this has gone on for, and the dirt flecked freckles she remembers on her face, that came from wandering the wastelands of the Free Cities, are muted.
Where Doreah has blended, Dany has struck out. She rejects the dresses they send her to wear for court. She sits upon the Iron Throne in worn leathers and dothraki garbs with the bells Doreah found in her hair and only a hint of the fine materials underneath. She wears no disguise of royalty but presents the air of power.
“I never meant for any of this to happen.” Doreah starts and Dany wants her to stop. This is not a tale she is ready for but will she ever be ready for it? “I need you to know this. I need you to understand that I was trying to protect you-”
“By stealing my dragons?” Her children that Doreah loved as much as she did.
“I never touched them.” Doreah denies. The swift reply is a defiant slap. “I would never.” She sounds offended by the very thought.
“But you led Xaro Xhoan Daxos and the Warlocks of the Undying to them.” Dany takes a step away from the window and the moon that reflects Drogo’s memory. “Why? If you love them, if you loved me so much then why?”
Doreah shakes a little. It is of her own self and the raised voices they use for the Red Keep is lined with enormous pools of fire at every corner. The heat she was used to in Pentos and the Free Cities can only be replicated by torches.
“Because they were going to kill you.” Doreah chokes out. Her brow darkened as if haunted by the thought. “They came on his orders in the afternoon, the day before your meeting with the Spice King.”
“You said that.” She remembers him. She remembers shouting and parading her titles around and threatening him for a fleet of ships. Looking back she flushes over how quick to rise to his games she was. How foolish of her, she can say now looking back, as she sits on her throne.
Doreah shudders like the memory is frightening her. “They told us to cooperate. Irri and I.” They each make a painful noise in their throats. “That they were coming to take your dragons and if you tried to get in their way, they would kill you; if you acted against them, they would kill you; if you tried to find them, they would kill you.”
They would have killed her. They tried to but the House of the Undying was no match for her.
“So you stole away with them?” Dany clenches her teeth and grinds. Closer they come to the truth.
“No.” Doreah shakes her head. Tears fall over her cheeks. “I was going to hide them. The house held many places where they would be safe- but you left and they came too early.” Xaro had soldiers to kill her dothraki guards and warlocks to trick her dragons.
“They killed Irri.” She died alone and in pain and without her. “They found you.”
“Xaro Xhoan Daxos found me.” Doreah explains. “You can’t hide somewhere if someone knows exactly where you will go.”
She knows this story. She knows that they took her dragons and she came back screaming and raging and wondering who killed Irri and took Doreah. That she did not see either of them until Xaro Xhoan Daxos killed the Twelve and led her to the House of the Undying.
And then the betrayal.
“Why?” Dany looks at her friend’s face. Tear stained and pale. Shaking and sorry. “Why didn’t you just tell me? Why did I find you with him?”
Doreah purses her lips. The pause in the air before her words pierced through her. “I wanted to protect you, like you protected me. He said he would not harm you if- I made him happy.”
Men like to talk when they’re happy. It’s a taunting reminder of her hints to Doreah in Quarth.
Guiltily Dany almost asks how she has protected Doreah. Her protection has not worked well on those she has bestowed it on. Her protection of Mirri Maaz Duur cost Drogo his life, it killed her son, and it harmed her people.
But then she remembers Viserys dragging Doreah into her tent by her hair and threatening to cut her throat. She remembers the terror in Doreah’s eyes and the belief that it would happen and how Dany swore that Viserys would never touch any of her girls again.
He didn’t but others have since.
She swore to protect her.
She has a long way to go before the trust falls into place but her hands are cupping Doreah’s face easier than trust will come for a while. Her lips shimmer with wetness when Dany presses her mouth to hers. Their lips overlap gently and Doreah inhales sharply through her nose in surprise.
Dany feels her face burn as Doreah starts to kiss back. At first she is hesitant and slow, the pace hitting her as she imagines Doreah straddling her hips in a tent in the Free Cities teaching her how to make Drogo happy, before Doreah allows herself to pant into the kiss. Dany slides her hand behind Doreah’s neck, her thumb brushes the back of her ear and keeps her still. She can feel Doreah tremble and await the moment Dany pushes her away for good.
When the push doesn’t come Doreah seems to relax in her embrace. She opens her mouth and Dany moves forward. Brushing her tongue against her lips and singing the sounds of their kiss with each smacking noise. Doreah makes desperate little noises, too worried to be wanton, while Dany fuses their mouths together.
It is not perfect. Teeth brush and air is needed. Dany opens her eyes to see Doreah scrunching hers closed and keeping herself in a dream like state. She wonders, as she rubs the back of the older girl’s ear, if she thinks this will all disappear if she opens her eyes. She feels tense where Dany is determined. Disbelieving where she is sure. They keep a small distance between their bodies for the sake of the unsaid things that still hover between them but Doreah keeps a hand pressed over Dany’s heart to be sure that it still beats there as close as she remembers.
It breaks down into small kisses. Dany nips at Doreah’s bottom lip with her eyes opening slowly as the kiss dissolves. Doreah still wears tears on her cheeks that Dany brushes off before returning her hands to her neck. Their eyes don’t meet until Doreah’s fingers brush against her own lips.
“Don’t try to protect me.”
“How can I not when you do things like this?” Doreah cries but it falls in the air. “You say that a storm follows you and destroys all you hold dear but you do not realize how many of us would gladly be swept up in that storm just to be with you.”
Dany stills and Doreah covers her hands with her own, keeping Dany’s pressed on her neck. A horrifying thought passes over her as they both remember the last meeting between them that ended with Dany’s hands wrapped around her throat.
“I cannot give you what you want.” Dany utters.
“Khaleesi, you do not know what I want.” Doreah purses her lips and exhales heavily.
“I know enough.” Dany whispers. Their voices grow as small as the space between them. “He waits for me.”
She has not breathed a word of what she saw in the House of the Undying to anyone. No one knows of her meeting with Drogo or what the face of her son looks like other than her. She has had no one to tell.
“While you breathe he waits for you.” Doreah urges. “While you live, I want you.”
Their closeness is suddenly too much and Doreah doesn’t argue when Dany rises to her feet and out of her touch. The kiss burns on their lips like it lasted longer and she knows in the morning if she doesn’t feel it she will no doubt crave it.
“I’m sorry.” Doreah quickly throws out. “I did not mean to make you uncomfortable.”
“No.” Dany stops her. “No, you didn’t.”
They have too much to talk about before this can be resolved. Their relationship is complicated. Khaleesi and servant. Friends. Lovers. Enemies. When Drogo was still alive they were never physical. On the road to Qarth it was then that Doreah held her while she slept. It was in the wastelands, when their food and their spirits were low, that she would kiss her dry lips and satisfy her hunger with other distractions. When the doors to Qarth opened and the hospitality of the greatest city that ever was became theirs it continued. Doreah took care of her needs, of her dragons, of her desire for information that led her to the beds of others.
“I did not mean to make you uncomfortable either.” Her face burns at the thought of what she asked of Doreah. Asking her to make other men happy at the very expense of her own. Treating her, not as a friend, but as a pawn.
Doreah’s eyes widen as her Khaleesi apologises.
“I will see you tomorrow at the small council meeting.” Dany wanders to the door of Doreah’s chamber and opens it. She feels a little of the tension fly out of it and disappear forever. “Sleep well.”
Doreah stands as she leaves in respect. “And you, Khaleesi.”
It will be clearer in the morning.
Council meetings pass and while things are hard it is more bearable when Doreah starts to bring news in to them and tells them of the atmosphere amongst the smallfolk. Stannis Baratheon says nothing yet reports come that he has left Dragonstone abandoned. She orders men to claim the land once again. The Freys are soon to be captured. The last of the Northern armies have disbanded and replied to her summons. Lady Stark writes to her about how her people fare and sends her best wishes for her coronation.
Illyrio does not mention suitors again.
She has Ikko and Aggo set aside a small patch of garden one morning and she joins her gardeners in planting new flowers and trees. At the end of the day, with dirt under her fingernails and mud on her knees, she sits before it alone and prays to the Mother of Mountains that all who fell on her side, all that died in the Red Waste, have found their way into the Night Lands.
Dany stays there in pensive thought as she pats down the soil for the flowers. Each plant to represent the fallen.
Doreah joins her later and brings forth the trinket that Dany had saved from Qarth; a small bracelet that Irri wore, woven out of leather with a tiny bell on it. Doreah carefully takes the small bell from it and hooks it into Dany’s braids. It joins the rest of them in singing a note of prayer.
“I should have never left her.” Doreah stares at the tree in the center of the garden which Dany has placed the bracelet on. They haven’t spoken much outside the council meetings. Both of them have been busy enough to avoid it. “You would have never left her.”
“But I did.” Dany folds. “I left you both.”
They kept Irri’s body within Xaro Xhaon Daxos’ house until she had found her dragons. They built a pyre in his courtyard and sent her into the Night Lands to be with Rakharo once more.
“But you came back.” Dany doesn’t look at Doreah. She doesn’t want to see the emotions in her face and succumb to her own need to pull her close to her. Instead she takes her hand. “We will ride with them all again.”
“Vichromerate.” Doreah utters. “I hope that we will someday, Khaleesi.” Just not today. Just not soon. Doreah rubs her thumb over her wrist. Beneath the skin the blood pumps.
There is still a lot of things that she needs to have done before her coronation but she’s content to just sit with Doreah now. Seeing her in the meetings hasn’t been as painful as she expected. Their explosive words have destroyed everything that they had not said to each other. The past is the past and it always remains, but they have joined hands again.
They have kissed on it.
Dany can feel some of the soil on her hands being pressed into Doreah’s palm. It makes her think of the sand showers in the Red Waste and the dirt in Vaes Dothrak. A sadness flutters by as she stares at Irri’s small memorial. “I think I want to go back East.” She admits. “When I die. I want to be returned to Vaes Dothrak.”
Doreah stares at her with some shock tinted on her cheeks. “Khaleesi, your family are buried here in King’s Landing.”
“I never knew my family so I made a new one.” Dany decides to glance at her now. “And they are all buried in the East.”
Drogo lies upon a cliff near Vaes Dothrak while Viserys was buried just outside the dothraki city. Irri’s ashes are in her chambers in the Red Keep. Jorah’s have been sent with an envoy to the Wall to be presented to his father.
“If something should happen to me,” Dany starts.
“Nothing will happen to you, Khaleesi.”
“If something should.” She tightens her grip on Doreah’s hand and stares into her eyes. “I want you to make sure that my wishes are respected.”
It’s odd to be planning her funeral while she is listening to others plan her coronation but she knows from experience that the life of a Queen or King is usually short and infamous or otherwise long and tortuous. She doesn’t yet know which she would prefer.
“Of course, Khaleesi.”
She knows it will be done then. “We have a lot to finish later, Illyrio has postponed the small council meeting until later.” He’s no doubt pestering the kitchens for food for an evening meal to be had while they talk about the progress that’s been made and certain things she needs to do for her coronation. “But I think I’m going to stay here a while and pray.”
There was no time to pray for Irri or any of her fallen people in Qarth. Her dragons were in flight and her thousand strong army was storming the city. They raised her body on a pyre and said the words but Dany could not give her the proper ceremony.
“Essalat Irri elat Rhaeshi Ajjalani dothralat mori fichat dothrak.” Doreah knows the prayers better than she does, so she murmurs the blessings under her breath for her to repeat out of time. “Azhasavva athohharar ohara.”
Ride with the fallen. Bless your defeated daughter.
When the plants in the garden have grown she will bring down Irri’s ashes and bury them beneath the soil so that she may return to the earth.
Time passes and it’s only when Illyrio has sought them out and the sky has darkened does she realize how long they had prayed silently together.
“Apologies Lord Mopatis.” Doreah charms. She rises first and helps Dany from the floor. What a mess they must look to him, covered in dirt and working clothes. “We lost track of the time.”
Illyrio waves his hands. “No matter, my lady. We serve at the pleasure of the Khaleesi.”
Dany smiles. That he does. “Lead the way, my lord. I will have this over with quickly I think.”
They leave the memorial garden and stroll through the hallways of the Red Keep again. Neither of them suggest changing into something more appropriate and Illyrio doesn’t think to say anything. Doreah has not let go of her hand.
“There are only a few matters we will bring up today, Khaleesi.” Illyrio confesses. “No doubt you will want to rest for the celebrations to come.”
“My coronation is in a week,” Dany points out. She is still prickly over the nature of their last conversation and meeting. No doubt this is the reason why Illyrio has suggested a less formal setting tonight. Not that it will matter if he insults her again. “I will have plenty of time to sleep.”
They make their way to Maegor’s Holdfast to where the Royal Apartments are kept. Doreah resides in one of the lower rooms whereas her own chambers are towards the top of the tower. It is a formidable architecture within the Red Keep as they have to cross a small moat to gain access to her. The spikes surrounding it are where the heads of traitors to the Crown rest.
When she had first seen it, she had joked to Ser Barristan, that Joffrey should have stayed in his bedroom. It may have offered him a few more minutes more of his life.
Illyrio has set them up in one of the unused apartments. The bed has been moved and replaced by a large round table with chairs draped in pillows and warm covers. When they enter there is already a selection of sweet fruits and warm bread along with Ser Barristan and Ser Loras.
“Sers,” Dany greets. “I only expected to see one of you tonight.”
“Forgive me, your grace.” Ser Barristan stands. Ser Loras follows. “I would have sought you out sooner but I did not wish to disturb your work today.”
She gestures for them to sit as she does. Doreah takes the seat to her left.
“Good evening Ser Loras.”
The young knight has exchanged his armour for softer wear. He looks thinner without the bulk of steel strapped to him. “Good evening, your grace.”
Ser Barristan wastes no time in starting while Illyrio has servants serve them. “I have decided that Ser Loras will take up the position of Lord Commander of your Queensguard. A decision that I have not taken lightly.”
Dany doesn’t touch any of her food until it has been served to her. Only then does she pick at the fruit there while listening to Ser Barristan merit Ser Loras for the job.
“He has proven himself well in the field as a knight and in our time here at King’s Landing, and my prior history with him, I know him to be a loyal and just man.”
There is no doubting that. There is also no doubting that there are not many knights that she knows well enough to trust with her life. Other than her bloodriders.
“Ser Loras?” Dany peels the skin off an orange. “Do you have any words to convince me further?”
“None that would sway you if you are set.” He answers truthfully. “Other than it would be an honour.”
Doreah looks between them both as she wields her bread knife. Dany nods to Ser Barristan. “There would be no one better, other than yourself, and I would rather you act as my hand.” Ser Loras smiles in happiness. “Ser Barristan will see to it that you are moved into your new chambers and from there you will have to set about choosing the other six of my Queensguard.”
Ser Loras will no doubt seek other brave men to protect her. As much as she wishes for Ikko or Aggo to be apart of that order, she knows that the dothraki would not be suited to such strictness or the armour they wear. She will keep them as her bloodriders, her kos, and they will protect her as well as her dragons.
“Congratulations.” Doreah offers and soon after Illyrio calls for the wine.
Dany takes her own initiative while they are distracted. “I have not heard if Tyrion Lannister has set out yet. I agreed that he would have an escort to Casterly Rock this morning who would stay with him.”
Illyrio has bread in his beard that they all ignore when he speaks. “He has left. With a guard of twenty and a few servants.”
Doreah gives a pleased noise. At Dany’s curious glance she explains. “I spoke with three of the servants he was given. They will be watching him. He will know of course and the guards will be there to spy as well but those girls are mine. As are the seven others already stationed in Casterly Rock that he doesn’t know about.”
Tyrion will be under watch and alone just as she had charged him with. “Perfect.”
“Casterly Rock has been stripped of all of it’s titles.” Illyrio adds. “It would be wise to name a new Warden of the West.”
Dany thinks on it for a minute. While House Lannister has only one remaining heir to Casterly Rock, they still branch off into other houses, many of which will no doubt be bitter towards her rule. She can think of a few; Marbrand, Banefort; bestowing favour on them in return for their fealty will ease relations.
But not just for one House.
“Robb Stark’s widow.” Dany calls to mind. “Her house lies in the West. The Westerlings.”
“Allied with the Lannisters until Stark wed the girl and then they lay with the wolves.” Illyrio narrates. “You would name her Lord father the Warden of the West?”
Doreah considers it brightly. “West for the Westerlings.”
“Gawen Westerling is Lord of the Crag, it is further North than Casterly Rock and closer to the Iron Islands.” Illyrio goes on.
“All the better to keep an eye on them.” Ser Loras interrupts. “There’s been a storm brewing there since the death of Balon Greyjoy.”
“They’ll be looking to find a new lord to sit on the Seastone chair.”
“And the Crag will be in a better position to warn us of any rebellion?” Dany asks. She can navigate her way around a battle better than she did two years ago, but politics has always been her brother’s game first, hers second.
“It might, though Casterly Rock is in a better position to defend it.”
“With the title goes the spoils.” Doreah points out. “Doesn’t it?”
“They will be able to use the wealth to restore and build.” Dany agrees. “And this will look like peace to all Houses. The Starks will be pleased, the Westerlings will have their honour and the Lannister branches will still feel as if they have a connection to the crown.”
Ser Barristan gazes at her with a pride she didn’t expect to see from him. “A raven will be sent in the night. I’m sure they will be happy to hear it.”
It feels like she’s finally gotten something right. Doreah passes her some wine and whispers praise to her. A surge of confidence shakes of the rubble it’s been hidden under. “Have you thought who you might have join us for our Masters of Law and Ships?”
“I have written to Lord Randyll Tarly of Horn Hill to ask if he would join your council as your Master of Laws.” Ser Barristan replies. “He was one of Robert’s men but now he is yours.”
They all are.
“And for our ships?”
“I have several considerations to think on but I am considering Lord Paxter Redwyne.”
She remembers that name from her studies in Pentos. “Lord Redwyne was master of ships for my father.”
“A loyalist to your family.” Ser Barristan confirms. “He would serve you well, your grace.”
“He would.” She decides. “Let them be notified. I would have them here before my coronation.”
And it’s done. Her council is complete. There will be less of these informal situations no doubt but now they will progress further and faster than before. Her rule is secured as much as it will be until her coronation.
Ser Barristan leads the rest of the notices. Dorne has thanked her for her increased vigilance in their search for Ser Gregor Clegane and Ser Loras talks a little more of what is happening in Pyke.
“An apology as well.” Doreah announces. “I have received word from Lady Sansa.”
Doreah produces a letter that she must have had with her all day. Dany feels grateful that she did not break their peace for business. Now she takes the letter while Doreah addresses the rest of the council. “She has written to say that she is honoured to receive the invitation to the Khaleesi’s coronation but she would not make it in time.”
“The Frey’s have handed over the body of her brother.” Dany reads aloud. “We ordered for her mother’s body to be presented too.”
Doreah saddens. “They said that they did not have it.”
She knows why Doreah didn’t tell her earlier. Dany knows all too well what a body can mean and this denial has no doubt stricken Sansa Stark terribly. “They will find it. Catelyn Stark was at the Twins for that Red Wedding. They had her brother too. If they do not find her body then may the gods help them when Lady Stark bestows my justice.”
She turns to Illyrio. “Send a raven. Tell her that the Freys have not come to swear to me, they have sent no sons or daughters and their lord does not speak to me. He is hers to do with as she pleases in my name.”
“Certainly.” He doesn’t object.
Doreah’s fingers brush over the back of her wrist. Dany notices how hot her face feels and how tightly she has clenched her jaw in anger at the matter. When she calms herself she moves their hands so that hers covers Doreah’s instead. Ser Loras flickers his eyes between them but politely says nothing.
“Is there anything else?”
Illyrio smiles. “Other than the preparations for your coronation?”
At the mention of the feasts and the numerous red and black drapes he has ordered to cover the walls of the Red Keep everyone begins to ease into their own food and thoughts. Dany keeps her hand brushing the backs of Doreah’s as Illyrio tells her of the wall to roof Targaryen banner he plans to hoist behind her when the night falls and the coloured fires that the alchemists have prepared to glow different colours every hour.
It sounds amazing and grand and befitting of a Queen yet she would rather see it than listen to it.
As Illyrio goes to launch further into his description of the event she raises a hand. “Maybe the mystery of it all will surprise me on the day.” She suggests. “And the rest I could see now.”
“Of course, Khaleesi.”
She grins at that and they smile back. It’s strange to see them act like they have not seen her smile. Has she really been so grey lately?
Doreah rises too and playfully asks if Ser Loras would follow. “The Red Keep is dark and full of terrors, Ser.”
Her nature is like it once was and Dany rolls her eyes before whispering a few choice words to Doreah as poor Ser Loras leads them to the Throne room, unaware of how Doreah is commenting on his graceful stride.
Servants bustle around her bringing tables and chairs for the Lords and Ladies that will be in attendance tomorrow, ignoring her for the most part, but when she approaches they bow politely. She still hasn’t quite gotten used to that. The dothraki did not bow.
Illyrio promises it will be a feast to remember. The finest wines and richest foods. Seven courses, one for each of the Gods that have blessed her. Doreah had smirked knowingly when he’d said that. Dany didn’t have the heart to tell him that she prayed more to the Mother of Mountains than the Seven of late.
Even so she looks forward to it. It is not like the feasts she had with Drogo, it is her crowning, it will be the celebration of all celebrations. At least, that is what they tell her.
Dany delights in knowing that she is in the way of preparations for her coronation but she hasn’t had a chance to see the Throne room since the dragon skulls of old had been brought up to line the walls.
It makes the room look smaller, certainly, but she has wanted them to be present in the Red Keep as a notion to her brother. Misguided and tempered, but he was her blood.
“They are magnificent.” Doreah gasps when she sees them all. Ser Loras has kept his distance to admire some of the skulls on his own. She can see that he doesn’t want to intrude on their closeness even though he isn’t aware of their long history.
Dany falls to her side with a wicked thought. “Can you name them all?”
Doreah smiles to herself like she has a secret or is looking upon a fond memory and takes her challenge. When she has named all the skulls that line the wall she turns to Dany. “Your brother said that your father used to give him a sweet when he got all of them right.”
“I have no sweets, my lady.” She teases knowing how much it embarrasses Doreah to be called by her title. “But I can offer you my arm while we look at the rest of the preparations?”
Doreah takes her arm and with her other she points to the large banner that Illyrio had mentioned. They pull and pull until it streams down to the floor. The crimson three headed dragon is smaller than Rhaegal but looks fierce all the same.
“They will have missed you.” Dany comments.
“Will they?” Doreah answers instantly knowing who she speaks of.
Dany pulls their pace into a slow stroll as they admire the decorations that are being drawn and how Doreah stalls when she sees the Iron Throne. “Of course. They have grown quite a lot since you last saw them.”
Doreah hums to herself. “They were the size of puppies when I last saw them.”
Dany spots the skull of Balerion the Dread. The Dragon that forged the Iron Throne. Her dragons are nowhere near as big yet, but in time they would be. “You’ll be surprised. I could take you flying on them now.”
She makes a small noise that gasps and she lowers her voice even more. “Khaleesi, you rode them? Drogon? Rhaegal? Viserion? You must tell me!”
Dany enjoys the glee in her eyes too much. “No,” She slides her arm away and takes Doreah’s wrist between both of her hands. “I would rather show you.”
Before that night she had only ridden in the day but Drogon knew exactly where he was going and saw more than they could. What they couldn’t see didn’t matter as the stars shone brightly even through the clouded night.
Doreah sits in front of her with Dany’s hands around her waist bend over slightly in her worry of falling off Drogon’s neck.
But she shows no fear like Ikko did as they soar upwards and upwards. He shows off twirling and weaving and skimming the Bay through the ships anchored there.
Doreah yells out encouragement to Drogon, who knew Doreah on sight and attempted to bound to her as he once had as a whelping dragon, and he flies faster. She keeps one hand on the reigns and the other over Dany’s hands. She keeps looking back as if to ask her whether or not this is real and Dany can do nothing more than laugh at her and bury her face in her shoulder as they ride.
When she feels them dip she presses a ghosting kiss to the back of her neck that Doreah must miss in the thrill before they are both laughing again until Doreah begs him for fire, not knowing the words to produce it.
All she can do it smile and hold on to her tighter while she feels the moon glowing on her face. They are being watched and she knows that, somewhere, he is laughing too.
The ceremony is revered and when the crown is formally placed on her head a loud cry comes from her men and soldiers. Ser Barristan claps and soon the whole of the Throne room has erupted in cheers. She stands, officially recognised and loved, as their Queen.
Her small council come forth and swear their loyalty to her once more. It’s all for show but it gives her a chance to meet Lord Randyll Tarly, her new master of Laws and Lord Paxter Redwyne, master of her ships, for the first time.
Lord Redwyne kisses her hand and rises. “An honour, my Queen.” He knew her father more than she ever did. As he leaves she almost wants to call out that the honour was hers.
Soon after she has changed into a gown the feast gets underway. Many come forth with small tokens, brooches and pins and bells for they think she wears them as jewelry, to which Doreah smirks slightly when she accepts them.
Doreah sits on her high table, as her mistress of whispers, dressed up as much as she is. When Dany looks to her she still sees the handmaiden presenting her with the gown Xaro had gifted her in Qarth. Now she wears one of even more beauty.
“Your grace,” Ser Loras approaches the high table just as the music begins. “Would you care to dance?”
The flirty expression Doreah gives her is enough to make her blush as she accepts Ser Loras’ hand to the floor. He wears a light armour but has discarded his sword for this time. As she dances many clap along while they eat but some of the younger members of her court go to their ladies to ask for their hands to join them.
Ser Loras banters with her playfully. “You dance better than my sister, your grace.”
“You dance better than you fight, Ser.” Dany laughs.
She is paraded past her dothraki, Ikko, Aggo and Korvarro who all stand uncomfortable in dress shirts and silks. They consented for one night to be apart of the culture and she knows that they no doubt regret it, even as some of the braver maids in the hall wander near them in the hope of being asked to dance.
Her knight of flowers steals her for three dances before he consents to Ser Barristan cutting in as a slower song is plucked from the singers and harpists.
“Your family is looking down on you today, your grace.” He says warmly. “I have no doubt.”
“I hope that I will do them proud.” All of them. Her brothers, her father, her mother, Irri, Drogo and her son. She is the last.
He is stiffer than Ser Loras as he still wears his sword but manages to lead her until the end of the song. When it ends a few others ask for a dance and she consents. She dances with Knights and Lords and even Prince Trystane of Sunspear when he approaches.
She is worn well when the singers announce the last song before the second course and as soon as the first note comes from his lips she feels at home once more. The Dance of the Dragons.
A song about war erupting between members of the House Targaryen but a song for her house all the same. Many swiftly join the floor for this song, even those who were content to eat their way through the dancing, and Dany spots several men about to approach her.
Wickedly she refuses them all and climbs back to the high table where Doreah is speaking with Lord Selwyn of Tarth. Doreah spies her but continues her conversation until Dany comes forth. “My lord, I feel I must steal my lady away from you.”
Lord Selwyn waves. “Of course, your grace.” He smiles at Doreah. “I shall tell you more of my daughter when you return.”
“I would be grateful to hear it.” Doreah says honestly. She looks to Dany. “Your crown suits you, Khaleesi.”
Dany had hoped it would. It’s silver, unlike the gold the Baratheon’s wore, and it reaches to the ceiling in patterns of flames. “Would you be so kind to join me for this dance?”
Lord Selwyn has returned to his seat so there is no one to look upon them curiously as Doreah takes her hand. “Only if you call me your lady once more.”
“My lady.” Dany laughs heartily and pulls her from the seat.
Her bells jingle as they join the dancing crowd. No one bats an eye at them dancing together. Doreah protests to Dany leading but they are too far gone in the song for them to switch now.
“You are too short to lead.” Doreah mutters, teasing her.
Dany scoffs. “I am tall enough to sit upon that throne.”
“The throne is raised!” Doreah jokes. “It lies!”
They mix and dance and as the second singer, a woman, begins the next part of the song they fall into the rhythm. Doreah consents to being led and settles to talk under the cover of the song. “I am glad to be here today, Khaleesi.” She squeezes Dany’s shoulder with a small smile. “The ceremony was beautiful.”
It was long. She was blessed by the High Sept and her council. The crown was presented to her and she stood and spoke to her people. She promised them peace and justice and truth. She promised to unite the Kingdoms as Aegon once had. She promised to be a good leader to them for all her years to come.
“Please tell me no one wept.” Dany blushes.
Doreah chuckles. “Many a man did when they saw Ser Loras ask you for the first dance.”
“Doreah.” She chides with a grin. “Ser Loras is married to duty.”
Doreah rolls her eyes. “I think the people would rather he be married to you.”
An impossible dream. She is wed already. To Drogo. To the realm. To her throne. Mirri Maaz Durr saw to that when Drogo burnt her temple to the ground. Ser Loras is kind and strong, but he will never be her husband.
Doreah moves her hand to Dany’s neck. “Khaleesi.”
“While I breathe he waits for me.” She remembers. Doreah’s hand is still on her neck yet it stirs her. “While I live, she wants me.”
“I’m fine.” She lies. Doreah knows it.
“If you aren’t-” They turn together and hear the another verse start.
Dany inhales sharply as Doreah’s thumb rubs over her jaw. “If I wasn’t I would be inclined to slip out after the second course.”
“But you’re fine.” Doreah confirms.
Dany shakes her head. “Of course I’m fine.”
Doreah smiles and lets the music and Dany lead her. “Well then, I shall see you after the second course.”
When the song ends they return to their places, Dany on the Iron Throne, with Doreah seated beside Ser Barristan on her right. To her left is Illyrio, Lord Tarly and Lord Redwyne. It occurs to her that the servants were actually waiting for her to be seated when they bring out the next flurry of food.
‘If I’d kept dancing.’ She ponders. ‘Would anyone have eaten at all?’
The selection does not disappoint anyone. The kitchens have ironically prepared several dishes with venison sided with roasted vegetables and broth. She smells honeyed chicken and accepts a dornish meal of kid roasted with lemon and honey, and grape leaves stuffed with a mixture of raisins, onions, mushrooms, and fiery dragon peppers from Lord Redwyne.
The lemon taste lingers in her mouth until she eats something else and Doreah watches her between bites of mereneese lamb with a salad of raisins and carrots that have been soaked in wine, or so she whispers to her when she asks.
Ser Barristan takes his fair share too being careful not to embarrass himself as much as Illyrio is with his drinking and to avoid spilling any of the suckling pig in plum sauce or chestnuts with white truffles he has on the chain he wears signifying he is hand of the Queen.
Her dothraki mingle and pass along goat roasted with sweetgrass that makes her think of the night she found out she was pregnant. Dany sees boar and stew and fish and people who look happy to be there that she finds herself still in her seat after the second course being offered strawberry fruit tarts and baked apples that taste so good that her head spins.
Her dizziness doesn’t stop her from politely excusing herself when there is another break for dancing and entertainment.
She chooses to slip into one of the side chambers that run below the Throne room. Her guards have been instructed to stand vigil at all of the entrances and when she passes them she tells them that no one, other than the woman who she knows is following her, is to interrupt them.
Even so she wanders well along the corridor until it would be hard for people to tell on first glance who they were.
“You look so regal today, Khaleesi.” Doreah smiles at her. However Dany thinks she wears her own form of regality, maybe better than she does, in honour of her day. Her maids have dressed her in a patterned gown of purple that comes over her shoulders and splits in a ‘V’ shape baring her neck to her sternum. They have adorned her with a modest set of earrings and a brooch that is pinned to her dress on the left of her shoulder. It’s silver in the shape of a burning torch.
“As do you, Doreah.” They’ve dressed her in shades of white and red, shying away from the darker colours of her house for this day of glory. The dress reminds her of one she wore in Qarth. A light material, white with wisps of burnt orange woven into it. The red comes in as a sash around her waist locked in place by a silver clasp, the one she wore on the day of her presentation to Khal Drogo, and it hangs down to the floor. She argued for something to wear in token to her dothraki but nothing matched so they braided her hair and put her bells in before she was crowned.
Now the silver crown she wears is surrounded by tiny bells to mark her victories.
“Does it weigh as much as it looks?”
“Less.” It’s light and thin not like the ugly stunted thing Joffrey wore or the crown she saw that belonged to Robert.
Doreah appreciates it either way. “You will learn no doubt to make it seem effortless.”
“I believe that’s what Ser Barristan told me.” Officially, now that she’s coronated, he’s Lord Selmy but she can’t get used to not referring to him as her knight. “And you, what is this?”
Dany points to the pin that she wears with curiosity.
“I am a Lady now and ladies of Westeros,” Doreah mocks as if she has been told this by someone who she doesn’t much like. “Wear tokens of their houses or sigils or favours. I have none so I chose something.”
A burning torch.
“A light in the dark.” Dany comments.
“I would have picked a dragon but,” Doreah touches her pin. “I did not want to presume.”
“You may presume if you wish but I like this.” Dany tells her. “It’s yours. Something of your own to keep and pass on in these strange lands.”
Strange. Everything is. This is her home and her kingdoms but she is new to this part of the world. Her life has been spent wandering the scorching hot free cities and learning the cultures of the exotic peoples that lived there. She knows more of Braavos or Pentos than she does for the Reach or Dorne.
“Though not as fearsome as the one hoisted behind your throne, Khaleesi.”
A red three headed dragon on a field of black. Designed to inspire fear and terror.
“A burning torch is still something to flinch from.” Dany asserts. “Though I hope you don’t plan to be raising this on a banner to march anytime soon.”
“Isn’t that what armies are supposed to do?” Doreah’s arm crosses over her torso and she plays with the side of her gown beside her torch pin. “Rise up to fight for their Queen?”
“And are you my army?”
“If an army is defined by its power, then probably not.” She takes a step forward. There is a layer of concern in her eyes that has been there since Dany started on her pin. “If it is defined by their willingness to serve and defend and devote their lives to you then yes, I am your army.”
Anni atthirar, yeri atthirar. My life is your life.
It’s all too much and all too good. Dany reaches out to her and takes her wrist away from the burning torch token and pulls. It’s enough to have Doreah stumble forward, closer, peering down at her suddenly short of breath.
“Sometimes I wonder just where you find the words.” Dany’s laugh sounds like a blissful sigh. Doreah’s skin is soft and the food did not make her as dizzy as she feels now in this stone corridor with her back to the wall. “Gods have blessed you with a far greater weapon than a sword.”
“My tongue has never been called a weapon before.” Doreah caresses her face with a hand while her words twist through the space between them.
Just as it was so long ago, she doesn’t realize how deeply she has been seduced until Doreah has seen the consent in her eyes and tips her head back to kiss her.
Her top lip is taken in the first kiss. Their noses squash together in the surge of need that follows the contact. Dany scrunches her eyes closed with a whine as Doreah presses her lips to the same spot again and again. Turning her lips pink and filling the air with the sounds of breaking kisses.
Of course there are things to say but strangely Dany finds that they don’t matter while she slides her hands over Doreah’s arms searching for a place to keep them. They hover boldly over the exposed front in her dress until they both tremble when her fingertips skin low between her breasts. At that Doreah inhales sharply through her nose and Dany takes her hands to Doreah’s hair.
Doreah kisses again, bringing Dany’s bottom lip between hers, sucking until she grips her hair. The weapon she so called before flicks against her lip and Dany glimpses desire written on Doreah’s face before the contact deepens.
It’s only for a second though, a second of groaning before Doreah stops with a pained whimper and Dany feels her throat tighten like she’s come close to having something back that she thought lost forever or finding something new that she never realized she needed.
The air is filled with short pants of breath and waiting. Dany feels it. She feels what she wants to know and it’s here in front of her. Dancing, daring and brazen bold and she wants her. She wants this. This is what she’s been missing.
Faces dart about each other like a game. Doreah moves forward and Dany moves back, a chase, until Dany fixes her tinted purple eyes on Doreah’s with a seriousness unexpected to Doreah.
“You can say it-” Doreah’s hair has grown back slightly but she still has had the maid that waits on her weave it back into the dreadlocks she once wore in the Red Waste for the ceremony. Dany grips them tightly, feeling the coarse hair and listening to Doreah groan.
Dany pulls the hair. Her fingers are close to where the dreads are braided by the skull so Doreah’s face is turned upwards as she does. Her lips are red like the tart they had served for the third course and her eyes are dazed. “No.” She pushes their foreheads together. “No I want to hear you say my name.”
For weeks it has been ‘your grace’, ‘my queen’, ‘khaleesi’, in the midst of it all she feels lost. She can’t remember the last time anyone said her name.
Doreah pushes into her forehead. Locked eyes as she moves her lips to brush Dany’s once more only to dart them away. Glossing over her bottom lip and just breathing deeply like Dany’s very request has her desiring her more.
“Please.” She asks in her smallest voice.
Her name doesn’t come until Doreah has tasted her lips again. The red was the tart that Doreah had sampled. Her sweetling tasted sweet. Dany arches against the wall behind her so that Doreah can slip her arm around her waist to hold them together. She’s missed this. Closeness. The irritation of the past few days slips from her shoulders and she wishes it were the gown she wears. Doreah plucks a whimper from her throat and kisses the corner of her mouth. “Daenerys.”
She kisses her deeply once more and then again- “Dany.”
Dany cups her cheeks instead of her hair and prolongs the next kiss. ‘The tart.’ She praises. Dany can feel Doreah smiling into the kisses now, they become shorter and needier. “What is it?” She demands as Doreah moves just out of her reach once more.
“I fear I will never get used to saying your name, Khaleesi.”
“Then you may have to say it again and again until you are.” Dany’s jest falls flat when Doreah keeps her eyes closed and their foreheads pressed together. “Doreah?
“I think I’m dreaming.” She replies. “Do you know this? Is it possible to be so far gone in a dream that you believe it?”
When she opens her eyes Dany is stunned by the shades she sees swirling there. The gold flecks that appear on green. “I keep thinking that I’m going to wake up half dead in that Red Waste outside Qarth and the only dragon I will ever see again is the one on my arm.”
Dany glimpses the tattoo she speaks of. The one she began in Qarth and the one that she touched up a few nights before. The red is blushing well on her arm.
“And I keep hoping that someone will wake me up if it is a dream before this goes any further because the more I dream the more I can’t stand the thought of it ever ending.”
While you breathe, he waits.
“I don’t want this to end. I don’t want to go.”
While you live, she wants you.
“If this is a dream then I never want dawn to come.” Doreah touches her face differently now. Like her hands are mapping out every detail. Touching the shape of her face and blindly finding every feature.
It’s not Doreah saying that she feels it’s all a dream. It’s Doreah admitting that she never thought this would happen. She never thought her reckless journey from Qarth to Bhonash to Valryia to Lys to King’s Landing would ever come with a chance for this again. She never thought Dany would be in her life once more.
“Sleep if you must,” Dany utters with a shake in her voice that she forces into something stronger. “But even when you wake I will still be here.”
Doreah’s eyes focus on her own again.
“I will always be here.”
She can a deep music fill the hall above them. The strings of a harp play over a deeper melody that would sound like the Rains of Castamere if she didn’t know that Illyrio had forbid that song. But it charges her. It fills her body with a longing that has been present for too long and a loneliness that wishes to take fight from her body.
Dany closes her eyes and kisses Doreah again once, gasping back with an open mouth when Doreah’s hands crawl up her spine, keeping them so close together. “I will always be with you here.”
Life is hers and hers to share with Doreah.
There are tears to kiss off Doreah’s cheeks and hands to move but Dany knows better than to abandon the feast too long.
“Come to me tonight.” She has to look up at Doreah. In a world where she now looks down upon everyone, she still has to look up to meet Doreah’s gaze. “Come tonight.”
“Are you inviting me to share your bed, Khaleesi?”
“My bed, my warmth,” She tilts Doreah’s chin down with the pad of her thumb. After pressing their lips together in an almost virginal kiss, her eyes flutter up again. “My body.”
“Daenerys.” Doreah drops her teasing words and titles for a hailed look. “Dany.”
She pauses in their proximity and pushes Dany’s crown back into place. The bells in her hair ring when she takes her hand away. “Is it a dream?”
Dany’s knuckles brush over Doreah’s jaw. “No.” She will come to her. Once the feast is done and she has danced with half her court and more. She will come to her bed and lie with her this night, and the next and thereafter. Dany will take no other to bed and wish for nothing more.
She kisses the corner of Doreah’s sweetened mouth. “It’s not a dream.”
Doreah is the one to take them to the bed but the rush she foolishly expects does not come. She sits in the middle of the bed and bids her to come forward to sit in front of her. Dany clambers with as much grace as she can muster, but the slip she wears stalls her and she feels anything but the composed Queen she presents to her court. And Doreah knows it.
"You are nervous. Why?" She feels Doreah’s fingers come to her hair and from there she starts to take out the twelve little bells that are littered in the braid. It eases her slightly that this is the way they’re starting but even so, the events of the day and the kisses have taken a lot of her patience and her assurances.
"Out there I am the mighty Queen," Dany pokes fun at herself and the words that Doreah once spoke to her along time ago. "But in here-"
Doreah's laugh moves her more than the harpist's songs. "Do you remember the first time?"
The browns and oranges of the Khal’s tent. The fire burning in the center. Doreah astride her hips, lacing their fingers and telling her of Irogena of Lys. "In the tent."
"No, the first time." Doreah unhooks another bell. "In the Red Waste."
"Yes." The furs they sit on catch her eyes. Doreah continues to take out each bell until all lay on the bed next to them and she moves to unbraid her hair instead. Every slow movement is purposeful.
"I want it to be like that."
The first time for them was not when Doreah was sent to her by her brother to make Drogo happy. It happened long after her husband's death in the unforgiving Red Waste a few days after her dragons hatched and before they began to run low on water and food. It had happened when she least expected it. Doreah had been helping to wash, they had stopped using water to preserve it, and instead used sand to clean her skin. Her nights had been filled with looking after her new dragon children and Doreah had pleaded for her to let Jorah mind them while she got a moments peace. Except when her hands had started to wash her there a click sounded in the depths of her body and Doreah had asked to take her.
She wields words better than any sword she has come up against and they have struck her well. Dany has yielded to her gladly.
It will be the first time again so it is Doreah’s hand that starts by brushing her white hair off her shoulder and blowing a kiss to the soft skin of her neck. It is her that distracts her with the mouth on her shoulder as she deftly unties the back of her slip and then pans her fingers over her back to push the thin fabric off her shoulders. Her instinct is to cover herself and for half a second she does because it feels as it once did, new and blushing, but Doreah is there again guiding the slip off the front leaving it to settle on her waist where it will soon fall.
“Yer zheanae.” Doreah utters. They are not here, they are in the heat and the sand and Doreah is turning her chin behind to meet her gaze to see the truth in her words. To know her beauty and find a strength in it.
“No,” Doreah is the woman who brought these feelings out of her and told her to embrace it. Dany twists to face her. Doreah has to spread her legs further to keep Dany sat between them and the bells on the fur are jolted. The laces on the cloth shorts she wears are loose. “You are zheanae. Beautiful.”
Doreah came into this room and brought with her the night of their first time that saw Doreah behind her and worshiping her body in the sand. Dany kneels between her legs watching Doreah fall on the softness of the bed behind her with eyes that want to see her undress.
Her hands slide to reach the bottom of the slip and she pulls it up over her body. It catches on her breasts until she arches her back. Dany doesn’t see what it does to Doreah but she lets out such a noise that she almost sounds wounded. When the slip is discarded Doreah takes her hand and beckons her forward to straddle her waist. The insides of her bare thighs feel the heat from Doreah’s stomach. Her torso is covered only by a scratchy woollen shirt which parts in the middle like the dress she wore for the ceremony. Dany’s hands fall there and she hooks her thumbs underneath. She sits back back enough that when she does the shirt is pulled away from Doreah’s chest.
Her hands are covered by Doreah’s own with a challenge in the eyes she finds there. The shirt must itch against Doreah’s tan skin as they tug it over her head. It disappears and her brown hair falls over her chest. She is denied the sight but given touch. Doreah sits up and presses as much of her body as she can against Dany’s front. Her lips cover her skin with languid kisses and half-lidded gazes.
Dany feels half gone already by the time those lips brush her breast. Doreah lingers there when she shudders until Dany rests her arms over Doreah’s shoulders. Only then does she place her mouth over her nipple and suck at it. She cries out and it’s muffled in the air. Doreah ignores her. Her tongue works against her nipple, over and over, sucking in expectation of the way the strength flees Dany’s knees. Her weight rests down on Doreah. Her mouth leaves her nipple hard and red where it was once pink.
Doreah doesn’t go to the other one with her mouth, instead she pinches it with her fingers so that she can kiss her again. The sweetness of strawberry is still there after hours and it makes Dany wonder if she didn’t bring some of the tart back with her to keep the taste in her mouth.
Fur moves beneath her knees. A dropping sensation in her stomach panics, thinking that they are nearing the side of the bed, but it is Doreah using her own legs to spread her thighs on top of her.
Dany looks down on into Doreah’s eyes and sees a little of herself reflected in her eyes. White hair loose and crowning her face. A flush so red that she could be aflame. Lips touched and bruised. Above all else she sees how much she desires this. The craving, the need, that steadies her hands on the bed either side of Doreah’s ribs and pushes her own legs open wider.
The first time she had not bared herself like this, so trusting and willing, but she had still let out the guttural moan that comes from her now as Doreah’s hand skimmed between her parted legs. She explores her fully. Her fingers soak in the wetness of the silver hair that leads her downwards.
Doreah is then at her neck with an open kiss to her throat. Her white hair drapes over Doreah’s face but neither of them move to push it behind her ear. The kiss feels the shudder vibrate through her body when the hand cups her completely.
Her body still hovers over Doreah, wishing to press against her, but waiting for the right moment. Light kisses follow the previous one until they make a trail from her neck to her mouth. The distraction of it all covers the action. Doreah’s thumb rolls over her clit and Dany gasps into her mouth, but it’s the feeling of Doreah slowly pushing the tips of two fingers inside her that has her crying out in a wash of relief. She didn’t even know how much she needed that until then.
“Just the tips,” Doreah whispers. Dany’s reaction has stolen most of her breath. It has been so long since she has been with someone who she wanted to make feel like this. “Slow.”
It is different with Doreah. The build up lasts and she keeps her fingers moving inside her slowly while her other hand comes down to rub circles over her clit. Her hips show restraint though Dany can feel how much she wants to piston the air and have her ride her like this, to hear her moan her name, for her body to shudder and bounce and collapse at the brink.
She moves back, pushing her hair over her forehead again as the cool air of the night fills the distance again. As she does this she shifts and feels just how deeply Doreah is inside her. The slow motions on her clit act like strings and she moves atop of her. Rolling her stomach and her hips.
Now she smirks down at Doreah. This is how it really began, her moves say, this is what we will bring it back to. To the rocking hips and her own hands touching while Doreah’s push upward in a controlled thrust. Every muscle in her arm looks ready to let loose and take it further but Doreah wants the eventual snap first. She wants to see the pace she sets work and make her bend first. She wants the fleeting power that she’ll claim from the first orgasm that eventually fades into a bigger search for release.
It’s when Dany’s hands skim over Doreah’s moving palm that she does bend. Something snaps inside her. The strings are cut and Dany’s hands fall to Doreah’s waist while she keels over with her spine shooting spasms throughout her. Eventually the sound catches up to the pleasure and Doreah hears her sing her name out to the evening sky.
She meets the furs that have been against Doreah’s back. They’re flipped. Doreah smiles. The fires in the room hit against her skin more like this as she’s swamped in the warm of the furs beneath her while Doreah is treated with the cool air coming from the porch. The bigger release comes forth. The one that sees Doreah pump into her the way that she knows Dany has missed. The way that sees her arch up into it. The arch is met with kisses to her collar and a hand on her waist that grips her in once place while Doreah thrusts into her.
Her turn will come, once the waves of her body retreat and that spend satisfied feeling has her laughing into Doreah’s mouth while they kiss slowly, then she will lay Doreah on her back and take her too.
As Doreah presses on, harder and harder, Dany takes her cheeks between her palms. A kiss. A promise.
She will turn them again and watch the lust come forth in Doreah’s eyes unable to deny what she wants. Dany will dance her fingers over her ribs and take her teeth to the unmarked skin of her stomach. A gentler peck of her lips will sow against the whip marks she comes across. Worship and healing for the last to have their hands on her did nothing of the sort.
Doreah will want no reminder of it but Dany will want to take the thought of it from her body and destroy it. The destruction will come from pleasure. From the way Doreah will try to sit up on her elbows to watch Dany stroke her tongue through her slit, tasting her, before she takes her open mouth and kisses. Grazing her mouth over her while her fingers hold onto the underside of her hips to feel the way that they shake into her. The taste, the taste- the tart will not even compare to the failing of Doreah’s arms as she will collapse back and stretch up while Dany takes her in her mouth.
The promise of all that comes in the kiss that she gives. That and more. That and the sight of her wet mouth. That and the vow to worship her body, to give her as much as she has been given.
That and the piece she has been missing.
Dany’s soft moans come cracked and gasping when Doreah finishes her. She finishes her with open eyes that see exactly what Dany has to bring to her with the lust Dany knew she would find.
The piece that was missing floats in the back of her mind somewhere with her crown and duties and other things for now. It only returns when she has tired. After she has laid Doreah on her back and claimed her over and over with her mouth. After drawing out her pleasure and washing away the touch of men that did not deserve her. After seeing her arch and break. After tasting her on her lips and Doreah taking it on her own tongue too. Gripping at the tattoo like she had her hips. She becomes marked all over again. Claimed once more. But Doreah claimed her too.
Doreah has her the last time. Dany’s legs are wrapped around her hips so hard that when she is pushed over once again she leaves bruises in the shape of her heels on Doreah’s back.
“Let me look at you.”
“Gods.” Doreah has abandoned her dothraki and her weapons. When they have left her all that she has is truth. “Gods you’re so beautiful.”
The piece flutters to her side as Doreah does. It skims over her stomach with her hand that rubs her belly. It sighs as Doreah does. It fills her without warning with something she knows she can’t say just yet but is no less true.
They are sated and together in her bed. While there is a stone roof over their heads the stars still bore witness to it all and granted it the meaning they desired.
And she hasn’t felt so happy in a year.
Dany turns into her pressing her body against her side. The furs will not cover them until one of them wakes during the night with a chill long after the fires have fizzled out. The heat they made between them now keeps them. She searches for what she might say. That she missed this. She missed her. Thank you. You’re beautiful too. Gods. Prayers over and more.
A revelation in it all.
Doreah doesn’t ask for words in return, she has asked for nothing but to be here with her, while Dany wants to give her more. They have so much to face together and lying here together, limbs and hands entwined, is just the beginning.
Dany exerts the last motion of the night and comes to give Doreah the soft kiss with the feeling of laughter and enchantment behind it. It’s returned and the buzz of it lulls her ready for sleep to come and carry them both away.
Then she finds her words.
Dany spends her mornings appreciating it. The time for thinking comes in the afternoons when she is busy practicing or greeting her court. The long hours sat in the Iron Throne have brought her many visions of Doreah and just as many of Drogo.
But the complexities don’t come. She loves Drogo. She loved him for all of their time together. She loves Doreah and she will love her for all of their time together. In death she will have time for complexities.
While Dany breathes, he will wait for her.
While Dany lives, she wants her.
The Western sun doesn’t come but winter does and the morning dawns when Doreah wakes before her and whispers to her that the Starks have arrived. The last of the Kingdom has come with her promise and her family.
She rises in the light of the day and they dress together. The bells settle in her braid and the crown rests upon her head. Doreah’s burning torch is pinned to her dress and Storm Born is knotted to her waist.
They wait together to the side of the throne while the rest of her small council is already seated to receive the Starks. They don’t say anything, they don’t need to, the conversation they would have had has already happened while they lay together the night of her coronation.
Dany’s white skin had wore only the furs on her bed in stark contrast while Doreah had wandered the room, naked as she entered the world, while Dany watched her. The morning was approaching and Doreah was pulling back the window flaps so they could see the sunrise.
“I will bear this kingdom no children other than my dragons.” Dany remarked then looking at Doreah. There were many things she could have said so soon after sleeping together but that seemed the most important.
Now she watches the Starks and their banners march into the Throne room. She will see to them shortly to hear their pledge and to offer her condolences for their troubles.
“You do not owe this kingdom anything other than your rule. If anything that is something they owe you.” Doreah commented. Her body was marked with bruises in the shape of her lips and fingers. She resembled the flirting spirit that she was in Drogo’s khalasar. She spoke little with her mouth for now, but her eyes gleamed and implied all that she couldn’t say.
They both look out at the Starks. The eldest, Sansa, with her auburn hair and a small shake in her steps leads the room with her northern guards. She has walked this keep before as prisoner of the bastard Joffrey Baratheon. Now she walks as Warden of the North; Lady Sansa and her siblings. She has written to her much over these last few months. Dany has heard of her brother’s death and the recovery of her youngest who were presumed dead, of her justice to the Freys and of her homeland. Today they will dispel the bad blood between their houses once and for all.
She will keep the north safe and the Targaryen sigil will fly alongside the Stark wolf.
Young Bran sits horseback as Illyrio said he would. A fall from a tower cost him the use of his legs, a fall caused by the Kingslayer. He looks unnerved by the vastness of the hall unlike his younger brother who itches to scamper towards Drogon who lies by her throne. He won’t if he knows what’s good for him. The last she almost confuses for a boy; Arya Stark with her short hair and sword by her side. She stands close to her sister, as if to guard her from Daenerys’ dothraki soldiers and Queensguard. They are accompanied by loyal Stark men, a protection of Robb Stark’s forces; they are the last of the Stark’s.
“My family ruled these kingdoms for three hundred years,” Dany had argued from her bed.
They are a peculiar sort. They inspire no great fear but she can feel the cold from them. They own the north in a way she will not be able to but they will never rule it.
Doreah looks at her instead of the Stark children. Does she hear the words she said next too?
“And who is to say you will not rule them for three hundred more?”
She thought of Drogo and how she was not sure that it was fair to make him wait three hundred years or even fifty.
Doreah brushes their knuckles together now. She holds back now in public for appearances sake, but Dany craves even this small gesture. “Whether or not the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, should have no bearing on what you leave behind for this kingdom.”
“You are a beautiful and loved Queen and this will be enough for them.” Doreah had then confessed quietly. Her affection poured through in her compliments.
The Starks do not want for children. They say Arya refuses the suitors that come to her and that Sansa will not marry until her brother reaches his sixteenth name day. From her bed she had worried. “I do not want to be the last.”
“Who is to say you will be?”
“You speak in riddles and promises, Doreah.” She’d smiled to herself but her friend, her lover, saw it.
“I speak to enlighten, my Queen.” Doreah tapped her knuckles then where now they start for the stairs. “My Daenerys.”
Her banners are down and the throne room echoes with the noise of horns for her descent.
“I am no Queen, Doreah.” Dany had sighed in protest, rolling on her side.
Doreah follows behind her as she makes her way to the stone entrance. She keeps herself in shadow and when they reach Dany pauses to take her hand and touch her cheek. As she once did with Drogo, as she did with Jorah, and as she does now with her.
The kiss is chaste but no less wanted and it certainly won’t be the last.
“Not a Queen.” She repeats so suddenly that she’s not sure Doreah quite understands for a second.
The Starks kneel as she steps out. Illyrio stands and Doreah follows behind her to take her place on the small council. No one in the room meets her eyes until she strides down the steps and offers a hand to Sansa Stark.
This is where the history of her rule will change. They will write of the treaty of the kingdoms North and South and the words of war beyond the wall. They will write of dragons and food for all of the lands. They will write of peace, and in privacy Daenerys will write of Drogo and the Stallion who would mount the world; and Doreah and their rule.
‘Not as a Queen.’ She thinks once more as Sansa takes her hand to kiss it. ‘But a Khaleesi.’