It is not hers to set the pace of their reconciliation, and Daenerys knows this: she cannot ask for more answers, she cannot demand more touches (especially not that). She does not want to undo what little they have managed, so though it is harder for her than she would wish to admit, she must let it out of her hands.
When they set out to sea really and truly, Doreah does not blanch or turn sick like many of the others, but neither does she join Dany in her above-deck walks. She has none of her queen’s wanderlust or daring, she thinks, and she is better-suited to spending her days out of sight, especially now.
The first night at sea, Doreah is already asleep when Dany crawls into bed, or she is pretending to be; somehow it is easier than trying to come up with conversation. She does not know yet how she feels; she does not know yet how to answer any of the polite and careful inquiries. She knows, too, that Dany will not push her.
The second night, after having spent two days running in almost total aloneness, Doreah has a bit better of an idea of what she needs. She waits for Daenerys, and once the other girl is in bed, she turns on her side to spoon her without preamble.
“You’re so warm,” she whispers.
It’s not in surprise since she’s always known it (she thought at first that it was flush from the sun or – or something else and she’d brushed it out of her mind, but she’s touched plenty of people in such conditions, and not even Viserys, for all his bravado and big talk, felt like this; there’s a part of her, she thinks, that maybe knew Daenerys was the true dragon all along) but it’s almost a reaffirmation. She’s always known that her khaleesi runs warm, but she’d forgotten how that warmth felt beside her.
Doreah herself runs just as warm as most people do, possibly even cooler sometimes. Dany opens her mouth, thinking to self-deprecate or perhaps to say something flirtatious, but no sound comes out. She is somehow overwhelmed by the feel of Doreah against her back, of Doreah’s arm over her waist, of Doreah’s breath against her skin; it feels to her like it’s been years since they last laid like this instead of weeks.
Finally she murmurs, “Reah, I –”
“Shush,” Doreah says, scooting closer and holding Daenerys tighter, pressing lips to her shoulder blade. All she needs right now is this, a way to anchor herself, something real and safe and simple.
The next night, Doreah is all but naked when Dany enters, and Dany isn’t sure what this means, but she follows suit, dropping her clothes on a chair as quick as can be and snuggling close so their bodies brush together under the covers.
Doreah’s arm goes around Dany’s waist once more, and on an impulse she travels her hand to Dany’s breast.
“Reah,” Daenerys breathes, suddenly both panicked and hopeful. “Reah, please –”
“Please what, Your Grace?” Doreah asks, and there’s just enough edge to her voice that Daenerys can’t tell if she’s being coquettish or annoyed. (For all that Doreah can read her, she’s still rarely able to read Doreah.)
“Please,” Daenerys repeats, choking on her words. “Only if – if you want to, if you want –”
Doreah shakes her head, and the look in her eyes would be enough to shut anyone up. “Khaleesi,” she says firmly. “Dany. I am not made of porcelain, I am not going to break.”
“I just don’t want to hurt y–”
She doesn’t have a chance to finish her thought, as Doreah flips her on her back and kisses her roughly, swallowing her gasp. Their hands are soon clasped, Dany’s arms pinned beside her head just as that first time; Doreah rests atop Dany, blessed little candlelight or air between them, and they’re close enough together to be comforted by each other’s heartbeats.
Doreah shifts to brush her fingers across Dany’s jaw, tender and almost-but-not-quite desperate. These are the touches not afforded a bed-slave, and so these are the touches she craves to give and receive.
Soon, Daenerys rolls their bodies, so they are face-to-face on their sides. She swings a leg over Doreah’s, brings her hand to her chest, thumbs her nipple, and Doreah gives a shuddery sigh against Dany’s lips, whispering “Daenerys” like it’s a prayer.
“My lady,” Daenerys whispers back, cupping the other girl’s breast. Her fingertips brush a line of raised flesh, then another, lines she doesn’t remember having felt before, and instantly they’re both frowning.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Doreah mutters, even as Dany discovers the feel of this new scar, the ruined flesh criss-crossing over the skin from Doreah’s side to her nipple.
Daenerys opens her mouth to protest, but Doreah looks so serious that she just can’t. With a faint nod, she permits Doreah to move to straddle her hips once more, kiss her once more.
They kiss and kiss, and Doreah again pins Dany’s arms, with wandering hands out of the way there is no room for unpleasantness. Dany shifts anxiously under Doreah when she feels herself growing wet, she does not want to push, and Doreah nods faintly in understanding. One thing at a time, she thinks.
On the fifth day, Doreah wakes before her queen, dresses in real clothes for the first time since they set sail, tiptoes onto the deck. Kovarro nods a hello, and one of the younger girls of the khalasar, skinny and frizzy-haired and with eyes like pitch, whispers “good morning” to her in Dothraki as she passes, but mostly she is left alone. She sits at the stern and stares all day at the rippling blue-black water.
Daenerys sees this when she emerges, but she does not join her maybe-handmaid in her reveries. She can tell somehow that it would be the wrong thing to do. She discourages others from wandering back, too; Jorah frowns, watching her watch Doreah at this distance, and he touches her arm as he whispers, “Is she all right, Khaleesi?”
Daenerys just presses her lips together, turns her eyes to the sea. Her voice is strained, as it often is with Jorah of late. “She may be,” she says. “She must decide for herself.”
Doreah stays on the deck until nightfall, watching the sun set, letting the breeze cool her skin. It is only when the chill becomes difficult to bear that she makes to return to the cabin that she and Daenerys share.
Daenerys is reading – something, some old book – by candlelight, wrapped in one of her silk robes. She is so concentrated, frowning over the text, and Doreah is struck with a sudden tender feeling. (She herself can only read as well as the undereducated nine-year-old she was when she was sold to the pleasure house – which is to say barely at all – but watching the other girl do so is somehow impossibly endearing.)
Doreah undresses and slides under the covers, not wanting to disturb, but she finds herself growing almost comfortingly impatient after a few minutes, and with something approximating playfulness, she asks, “Are you going to be at that all night?”
Dany shakes her head, shutting the book softly. She takes a deep breath as she stands, and she’s watching the other girl’s face very carefully as she removes her robe.
“Tonight I am yours,” she whispers.
The candlelight makes her skin glow, makes her seem the bride and daughter of fire that she is; for a moment, all Doreah sees is her face, wide eyes – looking almost dark green now – and parted lips. Soon, though, her eyes catch on the thin silver links, delicate necklaces only everywhere, around Dany’s torso: looped around her shoulders, falling over and under her breasts, dropped down between her legs.
This, even more than the little games of tying up and teasing they played in their simpler life, even more than any words they have shared, is an act of such submission and devotion that it startles her. Queens, especially not ones so independent, so fond of liberation, do not present themselves in chains, even just wrapped in them, these ones that are quite clearly only decoration, that have no real binding properties at all, to their whores.
Perhaps she is finally thinking that she might not be just the queen’s whore, though.
“Your Grace,” Doreah breathes, her usual coy tone all but vanished as she regards her queen-khaleesi-lover with more adoration and awe than she thought herself capable of.
Dany smiles, climbing onto the bed with demurely lowered eyes. She settles between Doreah’s parted thighs and tentatively Doreah reaches out to finger the metal glinting against her shoulder. “I do not – I do not deserve this,” she murmurs.
“Shush,” Dany says softly, pressing the fingers of her right hand to the other girl’s lips. “The fact is that I am joined to you, Doreah, and such things are rarely logical.”
Logic would have been leaving her behind. Logic would have been never allowing this connection to develop in the first place. Yes, Doreah knows that there is little logic to this – but she cannot very well argue. Logic and luck rarely coincide.
So she takes a breath, she guides Dany’s fingers into her mouth. She meets Dany’s eyes – widest blue just now – as she wets those fingers, sucks on them suggestively; Dany does not move a muscle, just waits for instruction.
“Will you fuck me, Dany?” Doreah asks, and it’s not rough as would suit the words or saccharine as would be found in some man’s misguided fantasy, it’s just straightforward, dichotomously tender. She guides Dany’s hand between her legs: her expression is almost pleading but never desperate. She never says and Daenerys never asks, but it is clear what she needs: a reminder that her body is capable of receiving pleasure, that not all touch is pain, that some touch has meaning beyond. It is not unlike the lesson she taught the khaleesi all that time ago.
Dany nods just slightly as her fingers ghost over Doreah’s clit, light and sweet and good, and she leans forward to press her lips to Doreah’s shoulder blade, her throat. She wants to feel Doreah’s skin go as warm as her own.
Doreah relaxes under Dany’s touches. “Khaleesi,” she murmurs, “Khaleesi, please.”
Daenerys strokes over Doreah’s sex, then slips two fingers inside her. “Tell me what you want, sweetling,” she says, her breath hot against Doreah’s skin.
“Start slow,” Doreah murmurs, her eyes closing. Daenerys moves her fingers betwixt the other girl’s legs a while, kisses along her shoulder and clavicle, but when she reaches Doreah’s breast, Doreah recoils.
“You don’t want me to do that,” Dany surmises.
“Why would you want to?” Doreah retorts, though it is mostly sad. She folds her arms self-consciously over her chest, frowns. “It’s ugly, Khaleesi. It’s not fit for you.”
It’s so plaintive, so lost, that Daenerys wants to cry; instead, she withdraws her hand from Doreah’s womanhood and tentatively caresses the scarred tissue, shakes her head. “I think it’s beautiful,” she declares, making assumptions. “Not because of what was done to you, there is no beauty in that, but because it tells me that you have survived. It tells me that you are resilient and strong.”
Doreah opens her mouth to disagree, but no sound comes out: it’s only when she looks in Dany’s eyes again – gray-violet now – that she sees the truth of it. She tangles her hand in Dany’s hair, gently urges Dany’s mouth toward her nipple.
Glad that her efforts seem to have succeeded, Daenerys kisses the flesh of Doreah’s breast, tracing her tongue in circles, sucking and caressing and sighing lovingly; she presses her fingers against Doreah and into her, feels her tighten and hears her moan.
“With your mouth, too,” Doreah murmurs after a while, pushing Dany’s head down further still.
“As you like,” Dany beams, repositioning herself so as to be able to lick at Doreah’s sex. It gets a low, choked wail falling from Doreah’s lips, causes her to grip Dany’s hair a bit firmer.
For her part, Dany just smiles more, anticipating that Doreah will cry out, “More, Khaleesi, faster.”
More and faster can be done, will be done: Daenerys spreads her fingers out on Doreah’s thighs, presses so she’s close as she can possibly be, moans and lets the low rumble add to her ministrations.
This keeps up, Daenerys responding to every low sigh and prompting touch from Doreah, until Doreah about shouts, “Please, Dany, now,” gripping her shoulders so tight that fingernail marks are left on Dany’s skin. So urged, Dany licks up the length of Doreah’s slit, focuses attentions on her bud until Doreah positively wails, her body going tense and then relaxed as she lets go.
Daenerys does not move once she’s finished, she stays on her stomach between Doreah’s thighs and idly traces circles on her skin, she allows the moment to take over.
Doreah allows the same, suddenly blurting out, “I love you too.”
Daenerys does not rush to reply, but she lets herself be pulled back up, she wipes her mouth, she smiles softly. She does not make for Doreah’s lips, but she lets herself be pulled in for a quiet, tender kiss.
On the sixth day, when the women are lying in bed with all the candles blown out, fingers tracing lazily over each other’s skin, Doreah takes Dany’s hand and guides it really and truly to the scar on her breast. “Fire cannot kill a dragon,” she murmurs, “But a dragon’s whore can still burn.”
Dany purses her lips, but says nothing. This must be Doreah’s to tell, not hers to presume.
“I was but a pretender,” Doreah continues, and it’s clear she’s mimicking what was told her. “Of course I’d want them for my own, I’d play along with their plans, but who’s to say I wouldn’t be expecting rescue the whole time? Who’s to say I wasn’t planning my own escape from them? Once a liar, always a liar, at least till tested, and how better to test the unburnt queen’s woman, really?” Her voice drops, her tone becomes detached. “How better to ensure that I’d stay right there as I swore? Nobody wants a ruined whore but the one who ruined her.”
“I should have burned him, too,” Daenerys mutters. “He did not deserve a quiet death.”
Doreah shakes her head, laughing so as not to cry. “He deserved every death that could have been given him. I could have done it, could have strangled him with that damned necklace he wore, could have opened his throat like a letter, but I – I am a whore, not an assassin.”
“You are my goddess, the moon of my life,” Daenerys whispers, moving so their foreheads touch. “I do not stand for it if others call you ‘whore,’ and I will not stand for you saying it of yourself. It is a piece of your past, but it is not you. And neither is this,” she adds, running fingers over the scar. “I would kill them twenty times over for doing this to you, but you are still standing, you are mine and I am yours.”
“Oh, my love,” Doreah breathes. “My beautiful, vengeful, merciful love.”