The Northern lords took Jaime Lannister’s arrival as well as to be expected. Which was with hate in their eyes and sneers on their faces. But they made no move against the knight when Jon gave them strict instruction not to, reminding them that they weren’t the Freys and Winterfell honored guest rights.
Dany wasn’t too concerned about the golden lion. He seemed to keep himself busy in the training yard and never bothered any of the other lords or soldiers. She allowed Tyrion to keep his brother company when she didn’t need him. She disliked the elder Lannister without a shadow of a doubt, but she could respect the courage it took to abandon his sister and lover to ride here. And who was she to deny her Hand the companionship of the only family he had left when there was no guarantee they’d win the war against the dead?
But, she casts all thoughts of the elder Lannister aside when Lord Varys holds out a letter sealed with green wax and stamped with a dragon during a meeting with her small council.
“This arrived for you today from House Toland, Your Grace,” he says quietly. She looks at it in bemusement for a moment, arching a brow as she takes it.
“Have they decided not to aid us?” Tyrion asks the spymaster while she reads it.
Varys looks at him and shakes his head. “No. It’s not from Lady Nymelle, but her youngest daughter, Lady Teora,” the man says, causing Tyrion and Dany’s brows to scrunch in confusement.
Queen Daenerys of House Targaryen, I have heard tales of your time in Essos and feel that you would understand the importance and truth to this letter.
For I have been dreaming of dragons for the past moon, the same dream every time. And I know that it must pertain to you. You may choose to cast it aside as fanciful thinking the way many here have, but I do not think you will since the Targaryens are known for their own prophetic dreams.
They were dancing. In my dream. And everywhere the dragons danced the people died.
Take caution, dragon queen.
Lady Teora of House Toland
Her brow furrows even more as she reads it a second time, trying to ignore the small feeling of dread knotting in her stomach, before silently passing it to Jorah. When he finishes, he gives it to Tyrion who squints his eyes at the words in suspicion.
“What do you think of it?,” Tyrion asks her once done.
“It’s… interesting,” she replies, tilting her head as she looks at him. “How old is Lady Teora?”
“Young. No older than ten and three, Your Grace,” Varys tells her.
She taps her index finger on the table as she thinks over the ominous letter. She meets Varys’ eyes for a moment and nods before looking off at nothing in particular, remembering that her own dragon dreams began around the same age.
She’s curious, but not all that surprised to hear of this. With several of the Dornish houses marrying Targaryens then later marrying each other, such traits could easily be passed down.
“What are you wanting to do about this, Your Grace?” Jorah asks, setting the parchment on the table as he looks at her curiously.
“I… will not discount it,” she says slowly as she looks back up. “But I also won’t waste any effort to try and decipher the meaning of it. If it’s anything at all.”
He nods slowly before asking in a hesitant voice, “And… you’re sure this has nothing to do with Lord Jon?”
She snaps her eyes to him, feeling the need to reprimand him if this was once again petty jealousy. But she sees only concern in his gaze as he meets her stare head on and she relaxes.
“I don’t believe it does,” she tells him sternly.
When he doesn’t look away, she relents to the silent persistence to at least consider it might be and, with a sigh, says, “but, I will keep it under advisement.”
“I only want what’s best for you, Your Grace. That’s why we’re here,” he says gently as he gestures to the others.
She feels her heart soften at the sincerity in his voice and gives her oldest friend a small smile.
“I know. And I am forever grateful you are here to help me, my friend,” she tells him kindly before returning to the matter at hand.
Even though she knows Jon would never betray her in such a way, that night she dreams of a man with dark hair sitting atop her green dragon and flying right towards her with Rhaegal’s jaws opened wide as flame builds in the back of his throat.
It was days later when Jon approaches her with an unreadable expression. The sight makes her chest hurt but she doesn’t let it show as he stops in front of her with a bow.
Before he can even open his mouth, she asks, “I assume you wish to inform them?”
His eyes snap up to meet hers and for a moment, she swears she sees some unknown emotion within them, but it’s gone too quickly for her to be certain.
“I do, Your Grace. Best to tell them now rather than later,” he says, his Northern accent rumbling quietly.
She takes a moment to look over the planes of his face before looking back to his grey eyes and giving a small nod.
“Very well. How do you wish to proceed?,” she asks in a neutral voice as she folds her hands in front of her.
“Sansa has agreed that should they wish for me to step down, House Stark will remain loyal to you if the dead are defeated,” he tells her.
She nods slowly as she takes in his words. So many ifs contingent on the dead.
“Where do you wish for me to be?,” she asks. This time, she knows she saw something flash in his eyes at her question before he looks away. Her eyes narrow even more when she sees the quick movement of his throat as he swallows.
“I don’t… want them to assume that this had any... sway on my decision to bend the knee,” he says quietly, his eyes returning to hers as he finishes. His face is once more closed off to her as he continues to keep eye contact with her.
She purses her lips as she tries to read in between the lines of what he’s attempting to say.
“Do you wish for me to be elsewhere then?,” she asks in an emotionless voice.
His brow twitches downward and it’s the only sign of emotion she sees as he shakes his head.
“No. Just maybe not at the front? I don’t want them to say something unthinking they’ll regret later if this goes the way I expect it,” he replies solemnly.
She resists the urge to slap some sense into him and demand he talk to her as they once did, but she gently bites the very tip of her tongue so as not to say anything to worsen the strain between them.
“Very well, Lord Jon. These are your men and you know them better than I. Therefore, I will defer to your judgement in this,” she tells him in a formal voice.
Dipping his chin, he replies, “Thank you, Your Grace.”
When he turns and leaves, she closes her eyes against the hurt she feels at the formality between them. She wants soft grey eyes like clouds to look at her, not hard steel. She wants unspoken conversations to pass between them again. Understanding and secrets only they know. Not this.
But this is what she has to deal with. She opens her eyes to the reality of her situation and takes a steadying breath before she too leaves and continues with her day.
Later that day, Jon calls a meeting with the lords and ladies in the Great Hall. Daenerys and her council stand in the very back, against the wall as the others settle in their usual seats. Some give her curious looks at her placement but most have their eyes fixed on their liege lord.
“My lords and ladies,” Jon says standing in the front of the room. He looks over them all with a solemn expression before straightening his shoulders ever so slightly.
“I know much has been revealed and put on your shoulders this past sennight, but I’m afraid I have one more piece of news,” he tells them before continuing.
“You all chose to follow me and have remained loyal as House Stark’s bannermen even when it wasn’t easy. But certain facts have been brought to light and, should we win against the dead, I will relinquish my title to Sansa,” he says.
Murmurs go around the room as they take in what he’s just told them. “
“Why?,” Lord Robett Glover asks.
Taking a breath, Jon replies.
“When you all chose me as King, you did so on the sole fact that Ned Stark’s blood runs through my veins. It’s been revealed to me that while I do have Stark blood, it does not belong to the late Lord Eddard Stark.”
He pauses before saying, “It belongs to Lyanna Stark.”
The room goes so quiet, she swears she could hear a needle drop.
Her eyes dart around the room as she watches their reactions.
“You’re saying you’re the son of the She- Wolf of Winterfell?,” Lord Rodrick Ryswell asks after a moment.
“Yes,” Jon replies slowly. “My mother was the late Lady Lyanna and my father,” he hesitates and locks eyes with her for the briefest moment before saying, “was the late Prince Rhaegar Targaryen.”
If she thought the room was silent before, now it feels like all of the air has been stolen from it. She feels herself tense and her folded hands grip each other so tightly, she’s sure her knuckles have turned white. Regardless of Jon’s aversion of her, he’s still the only family from her house that she has left in this world. The only other dragon alive and she will defend him until her dying breath if she has to. Just as Drogon would do for Rhaegal now that Viserion was gone.
She starts when she feels a hand on her elbow and turns to find Jorah watching her with concerned eyes. Quietly letting out a breath, she forces her fists to unclench, feeling the blood return to her fingers once she does. When she returns her focus to the room, she locks eyes with the Lady of the North who’s watching her closely. She holds eye contact with the redhead until the other woman raises her brow the slightest bit and continues on with her assessment of the gathered Northmen. She herself looks down to Tyrion, but her Hand is too busy watching the room. No doubt thinking of this like a game of cyvasse, trying to predict all the possible outcomes and planning his best move accordingly.
“How do you know this to be true?,” Ser Wyllis Manderly asks.
“It is true, Ser Wyllis,” Bran Stark says in his usual emotionless voice.
The knight recoils a bit from the greenseer and swallows before nodding. The others in the room have a similar response but don’t question the boy.
“Rhaegar kidnapped and raped Lyanna,” Lord Brandon Tallhart states loudly. Murmurs of agreement rustle throughout the room and the lords finally seem to have regained their voices.
She suddenly has a strange thought of the Dothraki and in her mind, the lord’s statement is ended with it is known. Even though it’s actually not true at all.
“He did not,” Bran Stark says as he looks at the lord with a penetrating gaze. She feels a chill go down her spine at the harsher tone in the young man’s voice.
When the lords once again shy away from the greenseer and quiet, his blue eyes travel around the room.
“Lyanna Stark went willingly to the arms of the dragon prince. They were married before the old gods and the new. Their union was true,” he tells them.
When Bran waves to Samwell, the Black brother steps forward and holds out the document.
Clearing his throat, he says, “This is a document written by the High Septon Maynard stating how he married Prince Rhaegar to Lady Lyanna.”
”Lord Howland Reed can attest to the fact that a babe was brought out of the Tower of Joy if you do not believe me,” Bran tells them in his monotone voice.
The lords all gape at him before whispers break out.
“So Ned lied to us,” Lord Brandon Norrey spits after a time.
“For good reason. What do you think Robert Baratheon would have done if he’d found out? That he would have been fine with it and let your liege lord keep him? Are you that daft? He’d have killed Jon the moment he heard. Or would have had Tywin Lannister do it,” Lady Arya seethes as she stares down the man who bristles at the insult thrown at him.
She ignores his glare and looks around the room. “What would you all have done if your dying sister left you her child? Would you really have turned it over to your king where it would have most certainly been killed?,” she asks with a disgusted sneer.
When none answer, she scoffs and says, “I thought you were Northmen.”
Lady Sansa and Jon turn to give her reprimanding looks but she just rolls her eyes and crosses her arms over her chest.
“Why are you telling us this?” Lord Medger Cerwyn finally asks in his soft spoken voice.
Jon looks at him and says, “Because I’d rather you hear it from myself and know it was told to you out of respect instead of someone else informing you and causing you to doubt House Stark’s honesty.”
The room goes silent again as they think on his words.
“Know this my lords and ladies,” Lady Sansa says in a steely voice, effectively breaking the silence as she meets all of their eyes. “Lord Jon is still a Stark. He may not be the true son of Ned Stark, but none can deny the blood of the North that runs through his veins. And should you have Lord Jon step down as Warden of the North, House Stark will not go back on its word and will continue to remain bent to Daenerys Targaryen.” She pauses for a moment, allowing her entire countenance to become frigid before continuing.
“While I know there are still many of you who are… upset about the loss of the North’s independence, I would remind you to keep such opinions to yourself whilst we focus on the Great War. Guest rights apply to the host just as much as to the guest. If there is even a hint of betrayal amongst the walls of Winterfell before we face the dead, you will face the wrath of the wolves,” she finishes in a deadly tone.
She feels immediate respect for the redhead and fully realizes what a deadly adversary this woman could be. Yara Greyjoy was lethal with an axe, but Sansa Stark could be as cold and lethal as the Northern winds she was born in.
She wouldn’t kill a person outright in a single blow like the Ironborn woman nor would she completely incinerate her foe like Dany. No, she would lull a man into complacency, convincing them she was no threat until she struck her final death blow. Much like the way the snows would convince men to fall asleep in them and gently lead them into darkness.
She looks at Tyrion and sees the smirk on his face as he regards his former wife. When she glances at Lord Varys and sees the interest in his eyes, she understands that this formidable woman is not the girl they last saw.
Lady Arya solidifies her sister’s point by casually shifting in her seat to allow her blade and dagger to be visible by the lords. Jon and the greenseer simply nod, silently agreeing to the redhead's words.
After a moment, Jon steps forward and looks around the room once more.
“My lords and ladies, I will gladly give power to the Lady Sansa. She is the eldest child of Ned Stark and the rightful head of this house. I only ask you to do as she has said and remain united while we face the dead,” he tells them.
He seems to hold his breath as he waits for their decision when the young Lady Lyanna Mormont stands.
“The fact that you told us the truth in such matters shows me that you are Ned Stark’s son. You brought us the armies of the dragon queen and have yet to lead us astray. You are our battle commander and it’s time to focus on the real enemy. House Mormont will continue to follow you during the Great War,” she says confidently.
Dany glances at her old bear and sees him looking at his young cousin with such pride and admiration that she can’t help but smile. Feeling her gaze on him, he turns to her and his own lips twitch up as he gives her an approving nod.
Lord Robett stands and with a stoic expression, says, “The swords of Deepwood Motte will remain as well.”
More and more of the lords stand until all have pledged to keep their men here and remain loyal to House Stark. While the Vale lords don’t mind as much, some of the Northern lords seem to stand only because they refuse to be seen as traitors. The siblings all relax as they see that none will betray them. She can’t help but feel the same. Though she noticed the young bear’s wording of how she’ll follow him in the Great War, she’s glad to see that the Northerners can, for the moment, overlook the prejudice of their house. Jon nods to them all and says, “House Stark thanks you for your loyalty my lords and ladies.” He glances at her once more before turning back to his siblings.
She bites her lip to push down the feeling of rejection that simple act did because she knows it wasn’t truly meant as a message. At least, that’s the thought she tries to reassure herself with.
Give him more time, she thinks to herself.
She turns to look at Tyrion to find him already facing her.
“Did you catch the odd phrase the Lady Lyanna said at the end or am I going mad from the cold?,” he asks softly.
“I did,” she replies with a small nod.
He sighs and rubs his face. “At least they’ll have peace for now,” he says with a sigh.
For now, she thinks, unless they can be convinced to continue it.
He continues to avoid her.
She can see the look on his face whenever she is in the room with him. It's a physical slap every time, like those Viserys would give her when she angered him. So she keeps to herself.
She stays away from all the Stark children unless needed for official matters, respecting their need for the space and time to figure out their new family dynamic that will either forge them together or will break them apart.
She also does not want to put more strain on them by making them feel as though they need to try and appease her while supporting Jon. But she's glad when she notices how the Stark sisters continue to treat Jon as they have in the past, as their brother. It's as she would have done had she been them.
It also eases the tension that had somehow formed between the two parties. She knows her Hand is worried about the rift between her and Jon. The consequence he feared the most of their joining was coming true. She assured him over and over that she would not let it cloud her judgment nor would it cause her to change her decision to stay and fight for the realm. However, he still watches her cautiously whenever she and Jon are in the same room.
Her entire council seems to watch her more closely. Missandei in particular seems to have made it her mission to make sure she's always at her side. She's even begun to put herself between the two Targaryens. As though having her body between them will help ease the tension. It makes her grateful to have such a friend, but it's unnecessary.
She's come to terms with the fact that he will stay a wolf and she will be the last dragon of this world. But it's not as hard as she thought. She's known that for a long time.
"The last, the last..." She lifted his polished visor and the face within was her own.
If I look back, I am lost.
So she carries on, just as she has always had to do. She has greater issues to worry over, issues that need her attention more than her own broken heart. And she refuses to let the realm fall because she can't set her personal feelings aside.
She surrounds herself with her advisors. She has Tyrion and Lord Varys go over which of the lords they think will come themselves, who will send sons or nephews, and basic descriptions of all of them.
She even asks Ser Davos what he knows about the Stormlords, which he happily supplied to her. She’s constantly going over battle plans with the lords and battle commanders, including Jon and Jaime Lannister. Always keeping a formal air about her to uphold her promise to Tyrion of not letting her personal feelings get in the way of effectively making decisions about the war.
She helps with evacuation preparations alongside Lady Sansa should they lose. But also what they'll need should they win. The amount of supplies for the wounded, food, all of it. Fortunately, the Lady of Winterfell is very courteous and open to her ideas.
When she’s not with them, she's with her dragons, flying over the lands of the North, enjoying the tranquility of the picture below her.
She's also begun practicing her ability to control both of them and having them fly in certain formations at her command. She does it twice a day, every day. She'll even have them go out at night if she's not able to during the day. It's actually quite useful to train them, and herself, in the dark. They will be shrouded in it when they face the Night King. The soldiers have their weapons to practice with, she has hers.
Sometimes, she's with the Northern and Vale lords who don’t completely shun her and learns about their lands. Listening to their stories of the previous wars they've had to fight in, of their families and the people they rule over.
Everything she can garner from them, she does.
She learns about the impenetrable Vale and the different bridges that must be taken to get to the fortresses. She listens to Lord Gerold Grafton and Ser Lyn Corbray as they tell her the stories of the battle of Gulltown during the rebellion. Ser Lyn even shows her Lady Forlorn, the ancestral Valyrian longsword of their house. It’s a dark smoke grey steel and she’s suddenly very grateful it wasn’t one of the many lost ones.
She's fascinated how the ladies of Bear Island are taught to fight alongside the men. And she said so to Lady Lyanna one day. The girl had scrutinized her but when she said that she wished she had known how to wield a weapon to protect herself when she was younger, the girl looked at her a moment before agreeing that it's very useful. Then when she asked to know what weapons the lady could use, the pride on Lyanna's face was clear as day as she listed them off.
She even learns about the different foods and clothing styles that each house is known for. How White Harbor differs from the more Northern houses. She hears about how even in the North, the forests are different from each other. She never tires of them.
She is grateful though when the first of her bannermen arrive days later. When they hear the horns signaling the approach of forces, she has to forcibly contain her excitement at finally meeting her bannermen.
Her bannermen. It has a wonderful ring to it.
They wait before the gates of the courtyard with her at the forefront. Her council stands directly behind her with the Starks. The Northern lords stand off to the sides farther back.
As she looks upon the arriving soldiers, she sees the banners displaying green willow tree of House Ryger, the blue bend on a yellow field for House Goodbrook, and the red salmon of House Mooton. She also sees the dead weirwood of House Blackwood and the leaping silver trout of House Tully. Her brow raises at that and she looks to Tyrion.
“Lords Ryger and Goodbrook are close friends of Lord Edmure. It seems they persuaded him to ride with them,” he says quietly.
She watches as he quickly glances to Ser Jaime who gives him an impressed look before turning back to watch the procession. Seven riders continue towards them and dismount before approaching her. She directs her attention first to a tall man who looks to be in his early thirties that must be Tristan Ryger. As her eyes look him over, she can’t deny that he’s quite handsome. Dark chestnut waves fall across his forehead. He has a strong square jaw with a full bottom lip. His nose is slightly crooked in that way where it’s obvious it’s been broken before. When he stands before her, dark navy eyes take her in.
“Your Grace,” he says with a bow before straightening.
“Lord Tristan,” she says as she dips her chin.
“House Ryger is yours,” he tells her with a deep, gravelly voice.
“I thank you, my lord,” she tells him with her most regal smile.
She then turns to Lymond Goodbrook. A wispy man with dark blonde hair cropped close to his head. Thin lips and large nose on such a thin face could make him appear unapproachable, but the twinkle of mischief in his light eyes gives him an air of comfort as he bows.
“The swords of House Goodbrook are yours to command, Queen Daenerys,” he says with a soft voice.
“And I accept them gladly, my lord. Especially in such dark times.”
She then turns to a man who can only be Lord Edmure Tully if the auburn hair and deep blue eyes are any indication. He looks at her a bit warily before his eyes flick behind her for a moment. She knows he and Lord Tytos are here for the Starks and not her, but in a roundabout way, they are here for her since Jon bent the knee.
She waits patiently and his eyes quickly return to her and he bows, murmuring a hesitant, “Your Grace.”
“Lord Edmure,” she says, “I know Houses Tully and Blackwood have come to support the House Stark and not myself, but I thank you for your aid.”
A flash of surprise passes through his eyes at her words as he scrutinizes her before responding.
“If House Stark follows you, then House Tully does as well,” he says as he dips his chin.
She quirks her lips and returns the gesture. “I am honored to have the Lords Paramount of the Trident on my side,” she replies demurely before she steps aside and gestures that he may go see his nieces and nephew. But instead of moving, he just looks at Tyrion quizzically.
Before he can say anything, Dany beats him to it.
“I see you recognize my Hand,” she tells him sternly.
He looks back up at her and raises his brow as he gives her a nod.
“Lord Tyrion,” he says curtly, turning his attention back to the dwarf.
“Lord Edmure,” Tyrion replies as he tilts his head in greeting. The lord’s eyes bounce between her and Tyrion before he looks behind him and nods to one of his soldiers. The soldier removes his helmet to reveal an older man with a craggy, wind-burnt face and grey hair. He looks at her with bright blue eyes that’s she’s seen before.
Several gasps are emitted behind her, but she keeps her eyes trained on the man before her. Seeing the resemblance between him and Lord Edmure, she hedges a guess as to just who this man is.
“Ser Brynden Tully, I presume?” she asks calmly as she tilts her head ever so slightly.
When he raises a bushy eyebrow at her and gives her an impressed smirk, she mentally pats herself on the back for guessing correctly. She can’t say she’s terribly surprised. She’d been told of how Lord Edmure allowed him to escape and that he’d been labeled as an outlaw of the crown.
“Aye, Your Grace,” he replies with a hoarse, smoky voice as he bows. When he straightens, she nods and gives him a faint smile.
“Be welcome, Ser,” she says as she opens her hands slightly. She glances at Lord Edmure and sees the slightest hint of relief in his shoulders. Ah, now she understands. He wanted to see why Tyrion was here before he revealed his outlawed uncle to her.
Ser Brynden nods to her and then looks to the Stark children and the Northern lords. His eyes then snag on someone else and they turn hard.
“Jaime Lannister,” he barks.
She turns to find the knight in question gaping slightly at the older man before he comes back to himself and straightens his shoulders. The other riverlords turn as well and sneer at him. She quickly looks around and sees how everyone tenses as they watch the interaction.
Ser Jaime nods and replies stoically, “Blackfish.”
The Blackfish looks at the younger knight for a long moment, as if sizing him up. But the Lannister doesn’t bow under the weight of Ser Brynden’s hard stare and stares right back at him.
Finally, the Blackfish gives a dismissive sniff before turning away to go greet his great nieces and nephews.
She turns to meet the hard brown eyes of Lord Tytos Blackwood as he scrutinizes her. Another fierce warrior if what she’s been told is correct. She observes the tall man as he bows and stiffly offers his swords. He’s thin with long black hair that’s tied back and his close cropped beard is mixed with grey.
“I thank you, my lord Tytos,” she says cordially. When she sees the remaining hardness in his eyes, she adds, “House Targaryen remembers the ties to House Blackwood through Queen Betha and I will honor them.”
He arches an eyebrow at her and she catches the barest twitch of amusement on his lips at the blatant reminder that they are distant kin and she lifts her own brow in return.
“Well said, Your Grace,” he says gruffly. Once he steps back and turns to the Starks, they’re left in shadow.
She doesn’t even look up as her children fly over them, getting a look at the newest soldiers before they continue on. The Riverlords however all stare in wonder as they watch the dragons disappear into the clouds.
As the lords are introduced and reunited with the Starks, Dany turns to an older man who must be Ser Bonifer Hasty. He reminds her of Ser Barristan with his grey hair and wrinkles. Although he’s much thinner than her old knight was, his features almost stork like, he stands tall and proud as he approaches her.
“Your Grace, the Holy Hundred are yours,” he says with a deep bow.
“Thank you, Ser,” she replies with a small smile.
As he stands up, his eyes roam over her face and the wistfulness she sees in them gives her slight pause until he says, “Forgive my forwardness, Your Grace. But you look just like your queen mother.”
Her eyes go wide in surprise and she steps closer to him, momentarily forgetting the many eyes watching her.
“You knew my mother?” she asks quietly.
He nods as he continues to stare at her. “I did, Your Grace. We were very close when we were young,” he says.
The slight sadness she can hear in his voice suddenly reminds her of the story Ser Barristan told her of the knight her mother had feelings for and who had loved her in return. His passion was impossible of course. A landed knight was no fit consort for a princess of royal blood.
She gives him a sympathetic smile and says, “I’m sure she would be very grateful that you’re here.”
He swallows hard and smiles sadly in return before giving a small laugh. “Bah. I don’t mean to bore you with the musings of an old man, Your Grace,” he says as his smile becomes brighter.
She grins at him and shakes her head. “Not at all, Ser. Perhaps you could tell me about her sometime,” she says hopefully.
He beams at her and nods. “Aye. I’d be honored, Your Grace,” he tells her as they make their way to the others who are walking towards the Great Hall.
Once inside, the lords are given their guest rights and they all sit down.
“Your Grace,” Lord Lymond says, “the summons we received spoke of the war of the North not in the South. Of an army of the dead? And we’ve heard queer tales on the road. Is it true?” he asks.
She folds her hands on the table and looks him right in the eye. “I’m afraid so, my lord. We are here to fight for the survival of Westeros,” she says as she looks at them all.
“So the old stories are true,” Lord Tristan murmurs as he takes a long drink of his mulled wine. “They are. I have seen the dead and the Others myself. As has Lord Jon,” she tells him grimly. They look at her with wide eyes then look to Jon who nods silently.
“Do we have a chance?” Lord Edmure asks Jon.
Jon’s eyes glance to her before he quietly says, “we have a better chance now that the queen has brought her armies and her dragons. As well as other houses answering her summons.”
They look back to her and the Blackfish asks, “How many other houses?”
“Eleven from the Reach, nine from Dorne, the Crackclaw Point Houses, and about five from the Stormlands,” she tells him smoothly.
They gape at her for a moment before a small smile flits across Ser Bonifer’s lips.
“That will most certainly help, Your Grace,” he says with a nod.
She can see the wheels begin to turn in his head as he looks to the other three lords.
Lord Tytos turns to Jon then. “What can you tell us about the Others?” he demands more so than asks.
Jon takes a deep breath and repeats what he told Ser Jaime. Even though she’s heard it already, it still causes the hair on her skin to stand as she recalls her own encounter with the terrifyingly beautiful Night King and the loss of her child. She lowers her gaze to the table to hide the flash of pain that slips through her stoic mask. She feels the weight of someone’s eyes on her and she wipes her face clean of any emotion before looking up to meet grey eyes. She knows he understands what’s going through her mind, but she feels confusion at the show of what she guesses is comfort he’s giving her and has to look away before she gets trapped in his gaze. Now isn’t the time for such thoughts and feelings.
“And we have the weapons to kill them?” Lord Tytos ask, bringing Jon’s attention back to the other lords.
“We do. We collected dragonglass from the mines of Dragonstone,” Jon says with a nod.
“And they’re being shaped into weapons we can use?” Ser Brynden asks with a shrewd look.
Again, Jon nods. “We’ve a multitude of blacksmiths working on them. One in particular is very skilled and teaching the others how best to work it,” he confirms.
“Very good,” Lord Tytos says with a curt nod.
Three days after, the Crackclaw Point houses arrive.
The silver seahorse of House Velaryon, the brown bear paw of House Brune, the red crabs of House Celtigar, the golden antlers of House Buckwell, and the blue swordfish of House Bar Emmon all wave in the brutally cold winds as the armies approach.
Again, she waits patiently for them at the gates.
She meets the jovial Lord Bennard Brune. A slightly balding man with long blonde side whiskers and eyes a shade of blue that look purple in certain lights.
“Your Grace,” he says with a low bow, “forgive us for not being able to come to you sooner. Our lands and shores were being watched by the Lannister woman. House Brune is yours.”
She gives a small smile when he meets her eyes again and replies, “my lord, you came. That’s all that truly matters.”
He smiles in return and nods.
When she turns to Aurane Waters, she almost thinks she’s looking at the ghost of Viserys. But where Viserys was decent enough to look at when he actually smiled, Aurane is alarmingly handsome.
He can’t be much older than she, judging by the smoothness of his face. His silver-gold hair reaches down to his shoulders and his beard is kept short. Sparkling grey- green eyes appraise her in return as they rest above high cheekbones. Though he’s thinner, he’s still defined. And if the sword and dagger on his belt are an indication, he knows his way on a battlefield. It also doesn’t detract from the striking image he makes when taking in how tall he is. She knows he must have struck the hearts of many a maiden.
But for her, his handsomeness does nothing. His hair is too light for her and his skin is too smooth. There aren’t any sharp edges to balance the softness of his Valyrian features. She wants to let out a harsh laugh when she thinks that he’s too tall for her. Where before she wanted someone the size of Drogo who could wrap around her and make her feel protected from the world, now she enjoys someone of a height that didn’t leave her feeling so small and powerless. And it’s not as if Jon is that little. Obviously he’s not as tall as some other men, but he’s still a head taller than her. When she’s not wearing her boots, she’s eye level with the scar on his chest. He can still look down at her and she, in turn, can fit more comfortably against him than she could with Drogo or Daario. No, she’s decided she prefers looking more like an equal than a timid young maiden hiding behind the large frame of her lover.
The subconscious comparison makes her have to push away the pain of realizing that now that Jon Snow has shown her love and she’s experienced loving him in return on her own, instead of being more or less forced to like her sun and stars, he effectively ruined her want of other men. She knows she will always be comparing them to him, just as she did with the men in Essos with Drogo or even Daario. But even those two men couldn’t stand near what Jon had become to her.
“House Velaryon has come to stand behind House Targaryen in honor of our long standing allegiance since the time Valaena birthed Aegon the Conqueror,” he says with a bow, his voice flows out as smooth as silk.
She smiles at him once he rights himself.
“And I will return such allegiance proudly, my lord,” she tells him.
Again, her children make an appearance. Now that she’s bonded with Drogon and gotten a better hold on him, it’s much easier to curb his more violent tendencies of attacking whoever he’d like. And with the loss of Viserion, they both have been coming back to fly over at least once every few days. She knows it’s not going to be long before she’ll have to deal with the fact that they’ll have to venture farther south to find food on land, therefore being gone for longer amounts of time. She snaps out of her reverie and sees the lords watching her dragons with smug looks.
“Good to finally see them up close,” Lord Bennard says as he turns his eyes back to her.
“Aye,” Aurane agrees with a nod.
Seeing the the slight tilt of her head, he explains, “we could only see them from afar when they’d come down the coast.”
She gives a light smile before they move on to the Starks and the other lords. Once given their guest rights, they’re told by Jon and the group that’s seen the dead everything they said to the riverlords before being shown to their quarters. Throughout Jon’s explanations, she makes sure to keep her eyes focused on the lords in front of her and not let them drift to the Northerner like they so want to.
The more of her bannermen that arrive, the more settled she begins to feel. To finally have people who accept her is something she never realized she needed until she has it. They make her realize that there are others who will stand behind her without having to constantly prove herself over and over again as she’s had since she’s arrived in the north.
She listens to how the houses from Crackclaw Point had never given Robert Baratheon peace of mind and caused trouble for him. She especially loves to spend time with Ser Bonifer. To hear stories about her mother as the two grew up together. The things she liked and things she didn't. It makes her feel closer to the mother she never met. Hearing of how Rhaella also never once shied away from her duty of marrying Aerys, regardless of the fact that her heart belonged to another, gives her the strength to carry on the weight of her rule alone. It also makes the thought of possibly having to marry someone else down the line not fill her with despair. She feels a sort of kinship with her mother for the fact that they had both fallen for swordsmen who would never be able to stand by them. Rhaella with Ser Bonifer and Dany with Daario. Even though Daario was more of a desperate love that wasn’t the pure kind like what she feels for Jon, she can’t help but find the humor in it nonetheless.
When he’s not busy with his books, she speaks with Samwell Tarly about a variety of topics. He tells her more about his time with Maester Aemon and everything he learned from the wise man. In return, she answers his questions about Essos. When she receives word a sennight later that Stormlords would be arriving the following day, she goes off to find Gendry Waters. She finds him in the armory speaking candidly with Arya Stark as he works on the dragonglass weapons.
When he sees her, he immediately straightens before quickly bowing.
“I… Your Grace. How can I help you?” he asks nervously as he keeps his eyes downcast.
She glances at the young Stark and sees the brunette watching her with the closed off expression the Starks are so known for.
Returning her gaze to the blacksmith, she says, “I would like for you to be present when the Stormlords arrive tomorrow.”
His eyes snap up to her and he looks at her in confusion and apprehension.
“You are the one who is working on the dragonglass,” she says with a tilt of her as she gestures to said weapons, “and all the other arriving lords have asked many questions about your work. It will be easier to have you present to answer them all at once instead of them searching you out and disrupting your work.” Her innocent tone doesn’t seem to fool him and his eyes narrow ever so slightly.
“Is that… all you ask of me, Your Grace?” he asks her hesitantly, obviously hoping he’s not crossing a line with his questioning.
She gives him the barest hint of a smirk and folds her hands in front her. “I think it would be beneficial for the Stormlords to see the only son of Robert Baratheon alive and well,” she says slyly.
When he doesn’t answer and exchanges a glance with Lady Arya, Dany can see the mistrust in the she wolf’s eyes as she silently communicates with the man and her expression hardens slightly.
Once he returns his gaze to her and sees the difference in her eyes, that are now like uncut gems, he stiffens.
“I am not using you as a hostage or a bargaining ploy, Gendry Waters. But do not think for a moment that I won’t take the opportunity to show the realm that House Targaryen does not judge,” she glances at the girl as she says, “the sins of the father against the son nor am I a kinslayer.”
Arya raises her brow in response but before she can do any more, Dany looks back to Gendry and says, “as we have already discussed.”
He swallows hard and bows his head in submission.
“Of course, Your Grace. I apologize,” he says quietly as he keeps his head bent and his eyes on her feet.
She looks at the top of his head for a moment as she thinks. Even though Jon has still not come to her, she at least has some type of relative. This man before her is her fourth cousin and she can’t quite believe he’s related to the Usurper. But, that’s the reason why she can’t kill him. How would she be better than her kinslaying cousin if she slayed his only living son just because she hated his father? The answer to that is quite simple. She wouldn’t be. She clears her throat and waits until he raises his eyes to her.
Giving him the barest of smiles, she says, “all you must do is tell them about the weapons because they will ask. Am I not correct in assuming that the lords and commanders have been coming to you and the other smiths with questions while you are here?” Seeing the softness in her eyes surprises him and he takes in the beautiful queen before nodding silently.
“Then this will keep them from disrupting your work,” she says with a lovely smile.
He just stares wide eyed at her. She turns and walks out before any more can be said but she hears something hit the blacksmith and a retort of “Ouch, Arry! What in the seven hells?”
As she turns the corner, the last thing she can make out is the brunette simply saying “stupid bull”.
The next day, when she finds the man clean of soot and grime from the forge and in regular attire, she can grudgingly see the appeal his father had if he looked at all like the man before her.
Tyrion turns and looks between them with a intrigued expression before his mismatched eyes land on the dark haired man.
“It may not work,” he lightly tells her as he keeps his gaze on Gendry.
She gives a small hum in reply before saying, “it may not. But it also won’t hurt us.”
Now it’s his turn to hum as he concedes to her point.
Once more, she looks upon the horizon to observe the approaching banners. The black sleeping lion on gold of House Grandison, the crescent moon above the spruce line to indicate House Fell, two white deer on green for House Cafferen, the golden wheat stalks of House Selmy, and House Caron’s banner with the field of black nightingales.
Her eyes land on a brown haired man with a pox scarred face. The nightingale on his breast plate indicates him as Rolland Storm. She quickly thinks back on what Ser Davos told her. The older knight spoke highly of the man and deemed him trustworthy due to his fierce faith in the Warrior. Looking at the way the man carries himself and the hard expression on his face, she can tell he’s someone others would do well not to cross. He’s a man that’s obviously going to be very valuable to have on their side and the fact that the Lannisters denied him Nightsong under the rule of Joffrey makes it all the finer for herself.
After he swears allegiance to her, her eyes focus on the man beside Rolland. A tall man who looks to be in his late thirties with dark brown hair that could almost be considered black and amber eyes. He stands tall, donning the crescent moon of House Fell.
“My lord,” she greets. He gives her a mischievous smirk and bows.
When he lifts his head, he replies, “Silveraxe is fine, Your Grace.”
One side of her mouth quirks slightly in amusement at that. She can see this man is certainly a character and the complete opposite of his hard, intimidating physique.
“Very well,” she concedes.
“The men of House Fell are yours,” he declares as he tilts his head slightly to the side.
Finally turning to the remaining lord, she gives a small smile to Lord Arstan Selmy. He looks very similar to her late protector from his height and build to the shade of blue of his eyes. His light brown hair hangs above his eyes, giving him a boyish quality to his face if not for the sharpness of his jaw. She imagines this is what Ser Barristan looked like in his youth. His voice is quiet as he declares for her, but it’s still appealing with the way it lilts over certain words.
They continue their introductions to the Starks and other lords.
Once finished, they receive their guest rights from the Starks and Jon tells them of the Others.
The hardened warriors remain calm throughout his explanation, asking many of the same questions Jaime Lannister did when he arrived. By the end, Silveraxe asks the question she knew would come up.
“We have the weapons?” She concurs and gestures to Gendry.
“This is one of our blacksmiths that is currently working on the dragonglass,” she tells them.
All eyes go to the black haired man and the Stormlords still as they take him in. She glances between them and Gendry, letting out a small hum.
“Ah,” she says lightly to no one in particular, “I see this man is familiar to you.”
Silveraxe turns to her and says, “he looks like….”
“The previous lords paramount of the Stormlands, perhaps?” she finishes for him. Now all eyes return to her and she gives them a single nod as she gestures to Gendry again.
“Gendry Waters. The only surviving child of the late Robert of House Baratheon,” she tells them. Silently, she adds, the fat Usurper king of Westeros. The men’s eyes snap back to Gendry who lifts his chin slightly as they scrutinize him with intrigued expressions.
“Aye. That’s Robert’s blood alright,” Lord Rolland says.
“He’s got Stannis’s eyes,” Silveraxe corrects. They continue to muse over the man a moment longer before returning to the topic at hand.
“What can you tell us of the dragonglass?” Lord Arstan asks.
As the Free Folk begin to arrive from the Gift, she has Gilly walk with her, Missandei, and her guards amongst them. From the woman, she learns of the imposing spearwives, the black feet of the Hornfoots, the discipline of the Thenns under the Magnar and how they speak in the Old Tongue. All of the cultures of each tribe, she soaks in like a piece of cloth collecting water. It fascinates her beyond belief that these people have thrived so well in the frozen lands beyond the Wall. She never expects them to kneel or address her as "Your Grace". She ignores their stares and initial hesitancy towards her. At least theirs is due to not wanting to be “kneelers” as Gilly put it, instead of being repulsed by her name.
After a few visits to their camps, they began to ask about the Dothraki and how they fight. So, she translated what she could but eventually had to let the two groups sort it out on their own. Soon enough, they began to practice with each other when the Free Folk saw just how lethal they were. The Free Folk in return, gave advice on ways to best keep the horses alive and well kept in the snowy conditions.
Other times, she will slip away from her advisors, order away her guards, cover her hair with the hood of a black cloak instead of her white one, and walk through the market of the winter town to converse with the towns folk and buy goods from them.
There were just so many people in the town. All coming to reside and bring their goods now that winter had come. Even with the cold of winter, the armies surrounding the outskirts of Winterfell, and the occasional passing of her dragons, the townspeople continued on with their daily routine once they got over the initial shock of seeing the dragons and such a vast army of exotic looking men.
She was bolstered to visit the market when she saw a cobbler actually work into the night to repair boots for her men. She immediately went to him and paid him for his work and time. He stared at her with unbelieving eyes at the amount she gave him and even tried to give her some of it back, telling her that the North remembers and they will forever remember how she answered their call and came to their aid.
She helped bring profit to many of the craftsmen and they are grateful. From that point on, people began to offer their assistance when Jon would hold court to listen to requests. It became so much that she ended up having to attend court as well since almost all of the requests and offers were directed towards her. She had even seen some of them gain the courage to go out to the Dothraki and Unsullied camps and help repair the soldier's clothing and shoes or bring them food.
Still, she tries to keep her eyes hidden or wear blue to offset the purple while in the winter town. Her precautions are simply because she does not want a repeat of what happened when she walked outside of Vaes Dothrak and she came upon the wine seller and his poisoned drink. Or when she met Ser Barristan on the docks of Qarth and was almost killed by a Sorrowful Man.
She is not so naïve to believe that Cersei wouldn't send a Faceless Man or another Sorrowful Man to assassinate her or that everyone is pleased that she and her armies are here using their limited resources and destroying the fields where the horses and soldiers are. But she's missed walking amongst the people as she did in the east.
The first time she ventured into the town, she allowed Jorah to go with her. Since he is a man of the North, his looks weren't as noticeable as her bloodriders or Unsullied. But no one paid her any attention as she went from tent to tent, admiring the craftsmanship and the different styles of foods.
She had Missandei go with her one time. They tried as many of the foods that they could and took what they couldn't eat to the poorer children and elderly. After the fourth time, she went alone. Or at least not trailed by guards.
She suspected some of the people and merchants realized who she was by then with the formalities they began to extend to her but other than that, they were kind enough not to bring extra attention to her.
She noticed how one or two would look at the others in warning if any behaved in an unseemly manner. One time, an elderly woman she’d given food to even walked with her amongst the market, telling her who to avoid and who sold the best of what.
When her curiosity was too great, she asked an older man who sold candied fruits why they were offering her such kindness. He'd pursed his lips and simply said he knew what she was doing for the poorer folk while still helping the businesses, so why would he not offer kindness to the cloaked lady in return. She'd bitten her lip and stared at him as if waiting for him to take it back. But he'd simply asked her if there were any types of delicacies she'd known of that were popular because he had so many fruits that were about to go bad and wanted to experiment with different flavors. After that, she visited him every time she went to the town.
When Tyrion found out and voiced his concerns about her going out alone with no protection, she dismissed them. She did have eyes on her. She knows her Master of Whispers has made new little birds here that sang him their songs of her whereabouts, who she talks to, and what the townsfolk thought about her visits. If something were amiss, he would know and he would tell Tyrion or herself.
On the rare occasions she is alone, she walks through the wolfswood.
Sometimes though, she will gain an unexpected companion.
The silent direwolf doesn't seem to share the same aversion to her as his master. He would come up to her, look at her with those red eyes that remind her of Drogon and allow her to run her hands through his soft white fur.
Sometimes it would become too much and she'd bury her face into his neck and hug him tightly, feeling like a small child. He would press his cold muzzle into the joining of her neck and shoulder and rumble deep in his chest until she'd let go.
Oddly, it always brings her great comfort, like the purring of a cat. And then he would follow behind her until she's close enough to the keep to continue on her walk alone.
The more days that go by, the more she finds that it's absolutely ridiculous for her to be acting as a love sick, broken hearted girl instead of a queen. Especially now with the greatest war they will ever face looming over them.
But, she is young and she is in love.
Three fires must you light...
One for life and one for death and one to love.
She had finally found someone she'd be proud to stand next to and call her equal. Someone who would look at her and see the woman beneath the queen. Who wouldn't see her as merely something to use for their own gain. Someone to make a family of her own.
She didn't care about who his parents were. She never cared.
He could have any name and as long as he was still the person he is now, she would love him.
Three mounts must you ride...
One to bed and one to dread and one to love.
The main reason she was happy that he was a Targaryen was simply because she was not alone anymore. No longer is she the last of her family that the world will ever see. And now, their house has the chance to continue on because of him. It has a future.
Perhaps, it's for the best that he pulled away. If they both somehow survive the war against the dead, she cannot give him the heirs needed to keep their line from dying out. She can rule the Iron Throne and he can be her heir, whether he wants it or not. He can find a Northern beauty or maybe a daughter of one of the Targaryen bannermen. Or perhaps even the "princess" that came with the Free Folk, who has stolen many a heart with her loveliness and sharp tongue. She even remembers seeing her talking to Jon and how he smiled at the pretty blonde.
He has the choice of taking any of them as a wife who'd be able to give him a child that will rule after her. The pain that lances through her at the thought is so sharp, it immediately brings tears to her eyes. The loneliness of that future fills her with an immense despair that’s hard to ignore. But again, with a determination she didn’t know she possessed, she shoves the pain aside and accepts it.
Three treasons will you know...
Once for blood and once for gold and once for love.
If I look back, I am lost.
Her walls begin to rebuild as she locks up all her feelings in the deepest recesses of her heart. She slowly transforms back into how she was when she and Jon first met on Dragonstone.
A queen, come to conquer her home land, who will stop at nothing until she gets what she wants. And what she wants most right now is for the people of Westeros to live.
To live and love and experience the joys and sorrows of this world.
And should that mean she does not, then so be it.
It's as she asked Tyrion on the shores of Dragonstone. What kind of queen is she, if she doesn’t risk her life for them?
Dragons plant no trees. Dragons make no homes.
No. Dragons are for conquering. Dragons are for war.
Remember your words.
Fire and blood are her words. They are what's needed to survive this war. The fire of her dragons to melt the ice and light up the darkness the Others wish to cover across the land. The blood that pumps through the living to fight against the dead.
Remember who you were made to be.
She was made to rule.
She was made for this.
To be a commander of legions in the ultimate war for Westeros.
Remember who you are, Daenerys. The dragons know. Do you?
Yes. She knows who she is.
She is not a sweet, young maiden. She is the Mother of dragons. Bride of fire. Slayer of lies. The blood of Old Valyria. The last of the dragon riders.
She is fire made flesh, and fire is power.
She is a dragon.
And the dragon does not bow to the stallions or the wolves or the lions. Not to the stags or the krakens or the harpies.
The dragon does not bow to ice.
She recalls her dream where she was Rhaegar and was mounted on a dragon at the Trident. How, instead of metal, the Usurper's forces were armored all in ice. But when she bathed them in flame, they melted away like dew.
The dragon certainly does not bow to death.
No, she is the daughter of death.
And death will bow to her.
But... if by some chance, this is to be where her song must end, then she will make sure it ends as it began- in a storm.
A storm of fire and blood so catastrophic, it shatters the very foundation of the world.
The gods themselves will scream for mercy from her wrath.