1. Love In the Eyes
"Khaleesi," said Jorah when the young woman suddenly ducked beneath the door flap of his tent. He started to push himself up from the sleeping mat on which he had been lying-not sleeping-but she gestured for him not to rise.
"Please, don't trouble yourself, ser," Daenerys mumbled.
Jorah obeyed-in part; he did not stand in the presence of the princess, but he did sit up, drawing one knee up and resting his forearm on it. He'd remained dressed in breeches and loose linen shirt in case of such a visit, which had become something of a habit of late. Though this was the first time Daenerys had come empty-handed, always previously accompanied by one or the other of the Westerosi books he gave her for a bride's gift, to ask him what he knew of the songs and histories beyond the words scratched long ago in now faded ink. He gazed up at her, the slight girl dressed in a sandsilk robe the color of leather with wide sleeves and a deep v down the valley between her breasts, who cast a long shadow across the walls of his tent in the candlelight as she paced to and fro like an agitated animal in a cage.
"And do not call me khaleesi," she added, in harsher tones than he'd heard her utter before. "No one else does. They call me the Brooding Mare amongst themselves. A clever pun, I'll grant-though I think not so clever as me, for learning enough of the Dothraki tongue to understand them."
"So I've heard," Jorah replied, quietly, lowering his gaze to the mats of woven rushes that covered the earthen floor of the tent. "It is a cruel name, my princess, and I am sorry you had to hear it."
In fact, he had heard Daenerys called much worse, by her husband Khal Drogo and his bloodriders. The Broken Mare, who bore her rider in silence, not crying out in pleasure at his prowess as a lover, nor in pain at his dominance as her lord-either an acceptable response to a Dothraki man, who preferred more spirited mounts. And who had found them.
"Why should you apologize, Ser Jorah?"
He looked up at she halted in her tracks, turning to face him.
"You told me it would get easier," she said, "and it has-Khal Drogo has not come to me once these seven nights." Her lips twitched at the corners as she made a brave attempt at a smile, but ultimately her wide eyes betrayed her, glimmering brightly for a moment before they cast downward. She caught her full bottom lip between her teeth. "Though I am not such a child as to think that is what you meant."
"The painful aspect has not passed?" Immediately Jorah wished he had not asked as she lowered herself gingerly onto the cushions beside him, the shadows throwing into relief the twinge of her cheek muscle and the telltale bags of sleeplessness that hung beneath her eyes. But, idiotically, he kept talking, his callused fingertips scratching over his beard. "A moon has waxed and waned since you wed the khal."
Daenerys glanced at him, the tight smile again tugging at the edge of her mouth. "You have been married before, ser, have you not?"
He nodded. "Aye."
"Was a moon's turning the length of time required to make it easier for your wife?"
"Wives." Jorah studied his fingers as they picked at a threadbare place in the knee of his breeches. "The second was not a maid when I wed her, and the first was…" Dutiful, his mind supplied, but he found himself unwilling to speak of duty to Daenerys, who had been exactly that in her own marriage bed, and to no avail.
"Married to a husband who no doubt took care go see to her pleasure, as well as his own," she concluded the sentence for him.
Dutifully, Jorah thought again, though technically, he supposed, Daenerys was not incorrect.
"I had hoped Doreah would show you how to please yourself," he told her, "as well as Khal Drogo."
To his shame, Jorah felt a tightening in his breeches as his traitor imagination once again produced the pictures he previously failed to push away during the long lonely nights in this tent, of the princess and her handmaid, naked and entwined and writhing together at the tender ministrations of each other's sweet lips and fingers. He swallowed the hard knot in his throat, but got no relief there-or further below.
"But that is the trouble, don't you see?" Daenerys hugged her knees to her chest, her robe falling open above them to reveal perhaps a greater expanse of pale curved thigh than she meant for him to see. From which a more honorable knight than he would have averted his gaze. "I don't want to please Khal Drogo, nor to be pleased by him. Not if he would rape and pillage and enslave and slaughter his way across my country, as he has done in these eastern lands."
As she spoke her voice pitched higher, but also grew stronger, a raw defiance present that made Jorah raise his head and meet her eyes. He read the misery in them as plainly as he read the stories on the pages of her books, but fire burned in the depths of them, too. Docile though she might be for her khal, Daenerys was no Broken Mare. Indeed, there might have been something of the Dragon in her, after all. More fire than her fool of a brother could claim flowed with the blood through his veins, at any rate.
"Fair enough, Princess," Jorah said, hoarsely, his throat constricted now with sadness at the thought of such a woman-a true beauty, as much within as without, despite the ugliness of her upbringing-being sold by a brother who did not love her to a man who could not-at least, not in the way desired to be-"but you would spare yourself a deal of pain at the hands of Khal Drogo and Viserys if you would not deny yourself what pleasure you may find."
Daenerys sighed as she hunched over so that her cheek rested on her knee, her hair of spun silver falling over her face. "What does mere pleasure matter if I am denied love? Or does such a thing exist outside of songs and stories?"
"It exists, Daenerys." Without thinking Jorah stretched out his hand to stroke her hair back from her face, so that she might see the conviction of his words in his eyes. "More certainly than the gods."
She regarded him for a moment, so still and so silent, that his pulse raced beneath the thin skin at his wrist. Was she not uncomfortable with his touch? The heel of his hand lingered against her cheek as he wove his fingers through the silken strands. He started to withdraw, but Daenerys' small hands fluttered up to cover his, holding his palm to her face as she lifted her head. Her skin, he discovered, was still soft around the new calluses that have begun to harden after a month at the rein.
"Show me?" Her words were scarcely a whisper, little more than a breath against his hand, so that Jorah could not be certain he'd heard her correctly.
"What did you say?"
Daenerys' skin warmed beneath his touch as the fingers of a flush streaked upward from the low neckline of her robe into her neck and cheeks.
"Love comes in at the eyes, Doreah says. I know that the love I see in yours belongs to your wife…your wives…" For an instant her gaze faltered, but then she drew a breath and peered up at him again, shyly, through her lashes. "But you have been so kind to me, Jorah, my true friend…If you would give me but a glimpse…"
He would give her much more than that. Before he could think further, before he could question the wisdom of kissing Khal Drogo's wife-and the sister of the king he'd agreed to spy on-or consider the consequences that would likely follow such an action-for his own sake or the princess'-he sat up on his knees, leaned into her, and covered her mouth with his.
As her lips parted in an O of surprise it occurred to him that this might be the first time Daenerys had been kissed, the Dothraki approach to the act of love being rather more to the point than the Westerosi. Jorah held back his own instinct to sweep his tongue into her warm, inviting mouth, and instead closed his lips and pressed them to hers almost chastely-an irony on which he chose not to dwell-allowing himself to savor what was for him, too, a first kiss of sorts-the first he'd known in far too long.
Cupping her face in both hands, his long fingers nearly spanned the length of it as his thumbs traced her delicate cheekbones. Daenerys made a small whimpering sound, almost a mewl, and when her hands curled around his wrists Jorah feared for a moment that his touch somehow displeased her, perhaps overwhelmed the young woman who came to him seeking comfort from so troubled a marriage bed. He started to remove his hands from her rounded cheeks, a reminder to him of her youth, lightening the kiss; before he could she released him, threading her arms between his on either side of her face, skimming his shoulders to twine about his neck, drawing her own body closer against his as her lips parted slightly. Though still restrained, he took it as an invitation to slip his tongue into her mouth, coaxing it further open by lightly tracing the edge of her lips with the tip, and Daenerys responded in kind, eliciting a low moan from him at the soft warm friction of her tongue sliding along his, eagerly exploring his mouth.
One of her hands strayed up to hold the back of his head, and her fingernails raked through the soft curling ends of his hair to scratch his scalp as she pulled him down to her. His knees began to ache as they pressed into the hard floor of the tent, so he shifted positions. He slid one hand down over her chin and neck and shoulder, unable to resist allowing the tips of his fingers to skim over her breast before they trailed down her hip and back over her arse, cupping it to draw her into his lap as he sat back on the ground. Daenerys locked the fingers of both hands together behind his neck as her legs fell on either side of him, her knees pressing into his sides as she leaned in to deepen the kiss even further.
Jorah, however, had other plans; he ignored her gasp of dismay as he broke the contact of their lips and tongues to dip his head and trail kisses along the line of her jaw and down her throat, which she exposed to him as her head fell back in the cradle of his hand. His thumb scuffed over her lower lip, and he felt the smooth hardness of her teeth when she bit down on her lip at the same moment as her belly twinged against his.
"Daenerys?" he asked huskily, raising his head from her neck-though he was reluctant to leave off kissing it-to look at her. But the concern that furrowed his brow eased as soon as he saw the laughter in her eyes, followed closely by the girlish sound of it as she could no longer bite it back.
"Your beard tickles," she said.
A lazy grin tugged at the corner of Jorah's mouth as he leaned in to nuzzle her neck, intentionally rubbing the scruff on his chin across her collarbones.
"Tickles, eh?" he asked, and she rewarded him with another ripple of laughter that set her to wriggling against the press of his hardened cock. "Shall I interrupt to shave it off?"
Her hands clutched the front of his shirt, holding him firmly in place, though he had no intention of really leaving her.
"I like it," she murmured in his ear, and Jorah was the one who squirmed as the heat of her breath made the hairs at the back of his neck stand. "You are not ticklish, my knight?"
"I am too old for such silliness," he replied, teasingly gruff, though the whisper at the back of his mind was not a joke at all. Too old for her. Twice her age-and more.
Jorah brought his head up to kiss her again, as if to stifle the voice with his mouth though the words came not from Daenerys' lips. Her hands opened, the bunched fabric of his shirt damp where she clutched it so tightly between sweaty fingers, and her palms pressed flat against his chest. His hand left her neck, settling for a moment on the curve of her hip before he decided that the silk of her robe was too much of a barrier between them. Not bothering to untie the belt to preserve her modesty even as he touched her more boldly, he slid his fingers underneath one edge to rest his hand on her bare thigh.
So occupied was he with the glide of his palm and pads of his fingers over her smooth skin and the occasional accidental brush of his fingertips against the coarse hair that grows over her mound, that he did not immediately realize that she was pushing against him until she broke their kiss and he felt the tension in his abdomen and the burn of muscles burn as he instinctively leaned toward her to keep himself upright. For a heartbeat he gazed up at her, saw her silver hair blazing in the candlelight that poured over her shoulders-over her bare breasts, he noticed with widening eyes, the robe having slipped off her shoulders, the pink tips of her nipples peeping through the fair curling strands.
Supporting himself on one elbow, he reached out his other hand to curl over her breast, her supple nipple hardening as his thumb stroked over the tip. Her chest swelled beneath his hand with a shuddering indrawn breath. Again Jorah hesitated, but again before he could withdraw Daenerys clasped his hand to her breast as she leaned into him to capture his mouth, and at once it became plain to him that she meant him to lie back so she can mount him. A trick learned, no doubt, from her handmaid.
"Daenerys," he said into her kiss, a feeble attempt at a protest. She would not let him break it, her tongue plunging into his mouth, seeking his desperately, nor had he the heart to break it himself.
When she removed one of her hands from his chest and tugged, the whisper of silk as the belt pulled from around her waist and the garment started to slither down her arms prompted him to tear his mouth from hers, to sit up and catch the robe around her as it pooled about her elbows. When she looked at him, brows knitting together in confusion, he swallowed.
"Let me show you, Daenerys," he said, thickly. "You asked me to show you."
She asked him to show her love-or what he could of it. Desire, he could show her, undoubtedly; his hardened cock pressing the V between her legs through his trousers provided ample evidence of that as he slid first one of her arms, then the other, out of the bell sleeves of her robe and watched as the silk slipped away to bare the rest of her to him. Though she spoke not of the lust of the eyes, but of his friendship, of which he is equally certain. What was the sum of friendship and desire, if not love?
Two wives Jorah had known, one who was his friend, the other whom he desired. Often he wondered if the one could have been a little more like the other, might both marriages have been more successful? Could it be that in Daenerys he would find all he sought?
He leaned her backward onto the floor, her robe a silken blanket against the scratchy rush mats, as he slid his legs out from under her. With his eyes he traced the pale outline of her figure against the dim backdrop of the tent, the rounded hills of her breasts and the sharper rises of her ribcage and the valley of her belly when she sucked in her breath as he slipped his leg over her hips to straddle her. His hands curled around her breasts, the hardened red peaks of her nipples like little flames against the inner edge of his thumb. Dragons were fire made flesh, Jorah had heard it said, and Daenerys' skin was so warm against his that he wondered if the same wasn't true of their masters the Targaryens themselves.
"You are so beautiful," he murmured, bending with the intent of bestowing soft kisses upon her breasts. As he did he caught her eyes and, seeing the pools of tears that shimmer in them, knew he was the first man to tell her so.
He kissed her lips again, briefly, feeling their upward curve against his; when he drew back she smiled, though the expression faltered when he kissed his way down her body, lingering so he could suck and tease her nipples with his tongue, and stopped at the sight of the even rows of faded green bruises down each of her sides, perfectly rounded and just the size of Khal Drogo's fingertips. Jorah had seen how the Dothraki men mounted their women, their hands gripping like iron as they pounded into them from behind.
"Not beautiful everywhere," Daenerys whispered, turning her face from his when he looked up at her sharply. The trail of a tear glimmered on her cheek in the candlelight.
"We all have scars," Jorah told her.
Still straddling her thighs, he sat fully upright on his knees and peeled off his shirt, discarding it to find her eyes raking over his chest and torso, curiosity mingled with-his heart missed a beat, even in the midst of this serious conversation-desire; she reached out with a tentative hand to trace her forefinger over a white line in his side where he took a knife fighting the Braavosi on the Rhoyne.
"But you earned yours in battle," she said.
"Life is a battle, Daenerys." He stretched over her again, his palms resting on the ground at either side of her shoulders, unable to stifle the low sound he made in his throat as the bare skin of his belly met hers and her fingers stroked the smattering of brown hair across his chest. Tenderly, he kissed the marks that marred her fair skin. "In time these bruises will fade."
"Make them fade, Jorah," she said, her hand between them moving lower, over the line of coarse hair that grew downward from his navel and disappeared into his breeches. "Make him fade."
She brushed the bulge beneath his breeches, and when her fingers tugged at the laces he slid his left forearm beneath her shoulders to pillow her and balance himself as, with the other, he tugged his trousers down over his hips and buttocks, freeing his cock to brush against her thighs and the fair curls between them as he kicked free of the garment.
Before he attempted to enter her, he swept two fingers between her folds and found her wet; her eyelids fluttered at this intimate touch, and his gaze followed the roll of her throat with the moan that rippled out of it. Thinking her ready for him, he positioned the tip of his cock at her entrance, where his fingers had touched her, and pushed lightly against her. Instantly, Daenerys went rigid beneath him.
"Try and relax, my love," he murmured against her lips. "I'll go gently."
She sighed long into his mouth as he kissed her languidly, and he felt the tension seep out of her. Pleased as he was to take care with her, to give her what had been denied her on her wedding night, he was even more so that Daenerys did not merely lie beneath him, a passive recipient of his attentions; she returned his kisses as if she'd never enjoyed anything more. When she kissed him a little more intently, taking his chin in her hands and scratching her fingertips over the stubble of his beard, Jorah tried again to slip inside her.
This time, she did not flinch away, though he did find her tighter than he would have thought, for all she was wet and not a maid. He pulled his mouth from hers and kissed her earlobe, whispering to her as he did so. "Wrap your legs around me."
She heeded his instruction, crossing her ankles together so that her heel fitted into the small of his back. The opening of her hips created more room for him, and Jorah allowed a little more of his weight to rest on her as he pressed in a little deeper. But again her belly dipped inward, and her lips opened on his with a gasp.
"Forgive me, Daenerys. I don't wish to hurt you."
He tried to pull out but was met with resistance when her ankles locked tighter together at his back, holding him firmly in place; her heel, in fact, pushed him in deeper.
"Please, Jorah, don't stop. It's getting so much easier."
Whether it was hearing his own words spoken back to him and realizing that they meant so much more to her than he ever imagined they could, or, if he was honest, intended them to; or that the raw and complete trust in her voice as she spoke them was as arousing to him as the tight embrace of her thighs around him; or if he simply had always been more easily persuaded by his cock than by his head, he could not say. What he did know was that the next moment found him fully sheathed in her wet warmth, grunting with the effort of stopping himself from spilling into her at once because it had been so long since he'd lain with a woman he truly cared for. He battled past the urgency, as much for his own sake as for hers-though once he got control of his need, his concern was all for Daenerys.
She lay so still beneath him, fingers clutched around the taut muscles of his upper arms, neck bent so that she could look at their joined bodies. After a moment she smiled at him, half-shy at first, then tilting coyly as she lifted her hips up into his. Jorah groaned and rocked against her, his own lips curving as her lips parted into an O when he touched that mysterious place deep within where a woman's pleasure lay. When he retreated she made a sound of protest, her hips again bucking upward to his. Though he at first grasped her hips, pushing her gently back toward the ground, he found that he hadn't the heart to tease, wanting to be nowhere but pressed as close as is possible to her, and dropped into her again.
Their tempo started out erratic as they learned each other's bodies and movements, but soon enough they fell into a rhythm. Daenerys' head fell back, and her arms splayed at her sides, her mouth open but her eyes shut. Make them fade…Make him fade. Jorah's eyes closed, too, as all the hurts of the past five years of lonely wanderings began to drift away on the ebb and flow of pleasure.
Yet it was the very thought of fading that brought the present into stark clarity before him. He was not now alone, but had found solace in another lost soul. He opened eyes to look upon her, his friend. His lover.
"Look at me, Daenerys," he panted, the words barely audible amid her moans as his thrusts carried her toward the brink.
She heard, though, and her lashes slowly parted. For the beat of a heart there was nothing but him, hovering, somewhere above her bright gaze.
"Love comes in at the eyes," Jorah said.
And together they fell.