With Missandei to help, Doreah’s responsibilities are fewer; they share the simple chores, those pertaining to the khaleesi specifically, and while Missandei deals with the world at large, Doreah deals with the world of the khalasar and the dragons. (Perhaps she should feel somehow put out, taken over, but she is startlingly happy to be left alone with what she knows sometimes. It feels like luxury.)
The day Daenerys is to meet the emissary from Yunkai, the three women wake earlier than all the rest. (Three women, Doreah muses for what must be the hundredth time, three women and three dragons. Missandei is not skittish with them like darling Irri was, either.) They are already set in a routine.
Missandei is already risen, readying for the day, when Doreah stirs. “Khaleesi,” she whispers, nudging the blonde’s shoulder. “Dany, love, wake up.”
A smile crosses Dany’s lips, though her eyes don’t yet open. She finds Doreah’s hips with her hands, shifts them on top of her own. “Good morning, my lady,” she giggles.
Does anyone else even get to see her giggle anymore? Did they ever? Perhaps not.
“I’m surprised,” Doreah says playfully, pressing her hips against Dany’s more firmly. “Missandei is just beyond the curtain.”
Indeed, her figure is visible, if indistinctly, through the filmy cloth. Furthermore, it’s a rather rote chiding, as they both know the scribe is tactful enough to pretend she does not hear their more private laughter.
Dany opens her eyes slowly, beguilingly, and Doreah leans yet closer, whispering, “I suppose there is no shame in a bit of affection. And your lips are just begging to be kissed.”
This begging is answered (as they would both guess, Missandei turns away, carefully ignoring it) and they rub against each other through the silk of their nightdresses until, with a sigh, Doreah pulls away, getting to her feet before she can argue with herself.
“I know, I know,” Dany murmurs, still smiling. “We’ve things to do.”
They are all three quiet as they wash, taking turns (Missandei scrubs Dany’s hard to reach places, Dany Doreah’s, and Doreah Missandei’s) and having their own thoughts. Daenerys has always treated her maids like ladies, there is nothing new in that, but Missandei is still new to it; Doreah, who grew up around other girls in an entirely different way, still marvels at it.
They braid each other’s hair, help each other to dress. Doreah dons her old Dothraki clothes, Missandei her still-new white and blue silk (a tactical choice, it being important to remind the Yunkish of the range of Daenerys’ following), and they wrap and belt Dany into an even newer dress, practically a gown even.
Doreah, who helped pick it out, knows exactly its purposes: its white fabric for innocence and harmlessness, the hint of pink and its length and volume for femininity, its styling for acquiescence to local fashion, its cut for both an allusion to Westerosi clothing and a seeming admittance of vulnerability. Dany still flinches when she is underestimated because of the facts of her birth, Doreah knows this, but she has learned to use it to her advantage, too.
“Splendid, Khaleesi,” Missandei murmurs, fussing with Dany’s jewelry and the fall of hair over her shoulders.
“As always,” Doreah adds in a whisper, lacing their fingers together.
A faint smile plays across Dany’s lips, she squeezes Doreah’s hand, but no more is said; they do not drop hands as they approach the tent set up to receive guests, but her gaze goes cool, her expression steely.
It is always fascinating to Doreah, watching the subtle, instant shifts that separate her Dany and rightful queen Daenerys Stormborn. There is, of course, some of the latter in the former, but there is little in the other direction; the private and the public have their uses, which do not always interconnect. (Missandei is getting to know Dany, Kovarro and the other bloodriders have seen glimpses, the knights are barely acquainted.)
“Khaleesi,” Ser Jorah says.
“Your Grace,” Ser Barristan says.
Both nod to Doreah and Missandei, if belatedly, and Daenerys nods at the men, polite but rather impersonal to match. “I trust all is prepared?” she muses. It is not really a question.
“Yes, Khaleesi,” Kovarro chimes in, gesturing to some of the other men to set the dragons’ cages down in the appointed place. (It is possible he doesn’t fully understand the question’s words, but its general intent is clear.) With a sigh of something like relief, Doreah goes to them, unlatching the doors one after another and cooing at the dragons as they fly out into the tent.
Soon Daenerys falls into a murmured conference with the knights; Missandei sets about tending to the refreshments. Doreah and Kovarro stay in the corner, watching the dragons essentially romp. “Everything is good?” he asks carefully.
“Yes,” Doreah says with a smile, haltingly sliding into Dothraki to add, “The khaleesi knows what she is doing.”
Kovarro smiles too (it is clumsy on his features) and for a moment Doreah truly thinks he’s going to ruffle her hair, such is the strangely fraternal affection of it. “Good,” he says, still attempting the Common Tongue himself. “She –” He furrows his brow, hesitating, and finishes the sentence in his native language; a few of the words reach Doreah, but the overall meaning is lost to her.
“She is a wise ruler, he says,” Missandei translates, crossing to join them with a sheepish smile. “And he respects her judgment.”
With another smile, albeit one that turns rather humorless as she glances across the tent (she knows that consciously cool, almost detached expression on Daenerys’ face, the one that makes her want to run in front of Daenerys and yell at whoever is offending her until they treat her with respect). “That counts for a lot,” she says instead, nodding in assurance as Missandei translates it to him.
They assume positions as the emissary approaches, ones as are appropriate (Daenerys settling against her cushioned seat, knees pressed daintily together, Missandei standing in wait at the tent’s entrance, Doreah moving to Ser Jorah’s side) and they wait. Doreah can see the flash of horror in Dany’s eyes as she takes in the spectacle of the slaves carrying their master in, collars around their throats; she can see the shallow breath Dany takes as if to guard herself against this.
There is nothing can be done about it, of course, nothing that is not already part of the plan; to keep from watching the minute changes in Dany’s expression, Doreah watches the dragons as they romp and fly about the tent. (Really she is here as their nanny of sorts, their nursemaid, it is hers to keep an eye on them and prevent them from acting up too much while the others politic. So shall it be.)
She finds herself having to work, too, to keep from reciting along with Missandei as she introduces their queen, having to work to keep from smiling. “Breaker of chains,” that is the one she loves to hear the most.
Doreah doesn’t pay too too much attention to the man’s words, she just watches Dany’s face, she watches Missandei’s face, she watches the faces of the slaves. Most of all she watches the dragons. Their reactions, she thinks, are their mother’s reactions. Not the ones she can vocalize, perhaps, but nonetheless. They match her, and Doreah finds herself matching them.
They are aggressive because Daenerys (and Missandei, who is no doubt smarting just as much at these reminders of the life she was only recently spared, and Doreah herself) cannot be. The answer to all of this, Doreah thinks, lies somewhere between what the dragons can do and what the khaleesi can do: aggression when needed, because men will rarely listen to words, and words when needed, because aggression cannot be the only thing someone offers.
Still, though, watching them and the way they circle and round on the cruel emissary gives Doreah an idea, and once the others are gone from the tent, she approaches her queen and lover.
“If there are as many dangers outside for us as they say,” she begins in a whisper, “I need to be able to care for myself.”
And Daenerys mulls this over a moment. She understands, and she understands more than she ought to say aloud: Doreah has an interest in making sure that what happened to her once does not happen again, and how could that be argued? “All right,” she says. “Did you have anything in mind?”
“I’m not suited for any of the grand weapons,” Doreah muses. “It would take me longer than we have to learn. But poison isn’t always practical.”
“A dagger, then?” Dany offers. “It seems a compromise.”
Doreah’s turn to contemplate, but the more she does, the fonder she is of the idea. “Is that all right?” she murmurs. “I suspect ladies-in-waiting don’t often carry knives.”
Dany shrugs. “What do I know of what a lady-in-waiting is supposed to do?” she points out. “And why would what someone is supposed to do affect what is right to do? If you want it, if it would make you feel safer…”
“It would,” Doreah admits.
“Then it’s settled,” Daenerys declares. “We’ll find something that suits you, and I’ll speak to Kovarro about teaching you to use it, perhaps.”
“Thank you,” Doreah says, scooting onto the bench beside the other woman and reaching for one of her hands. For everything, she means, and it doesn’t need articulated. They both understand.