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Of Gods and Dragons

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Sansa has never had to host an army before, let alone one of this magnitude. If the reports she's received are correct, her life was about to become much more stressful than she would care to admit aloud.

As they do their best to prepare for the arrival of Jon and the Targaryen Queen's armies, Sansa thinks over what little information she's heard of this foreign queen and how best to handle her.

She knows of course that she has three dragons, which is a phenomenal feat in itself. She's also aware that the Targaryen commands legions of warriors she brought with her from the east.

Samwell Tarly had told her how he remembers reading a raven to their former maester, who was her last surviving kin, about how she was fairing in the east. She had refused to leave Slaver's Bay and come to Westeros until the freedom of the former slaves was secure. That had intrigued Sansa quite a bit. It told her much and more about what mattered to this queen- the people. It was a fact that Sansa kept carefully tucked away and was ready to use should she feel the need.

She knows that she is very beautiful. Apparently, even more beautiful than Cersei.

Sansa can't deny that the feats this woman has achieved in such a short time is something to be greatly admired. But, that doesn't mean she will so willingly bow to her.

From the summons they had received, she knows that her first husband, Tyrion Lannister, rides with her as Hand of the Queen. Who knew he would disappear for so long after being accused of killing Joffrey only to come back at the side of a conqueror.

She gives a bemused smirk at the thought, wondering what it will be like to see him again.

The lords are anxious about the arrival of the Targaryen. Some are still outright opposed to it and have voiced their complaints. Loudly. And often. She finally had enough of their incessant squabbling when one of the lords accused Jon of falling prey to the Targaryen's beauty and is coming to help her conquer them. Arya had almost jumped across the table but Sansa stood up and slammed her goblet down, her face livid. The hall immediately fell deathly quiet. She reminded them what is coming for them all and she will not hear anymore of these absolutely ridiculous accusations about their king. That the Targaryen queen is coming to help them. That she let Jon take as much dragonglass as the ship could hold.

She rubs her temples at the memory. How did they expect to win against such an enemy by themselves? She's opposed to the idea of returning to the fold of the Iron Throne under a Southron ruler just as much as the next Northerner. But even she understands that the time for such prejudices has come to an end. Their Northern pride was going to get them all killed if they didn't put it aside. The North Remembers, yes. Sometimes too well to actually be able to move on to build a better future.

She hasn't told the other lords that Jon has bent the knee. With the way they reacted to hearing that Daenerys Stormborn's entire force and dragons are coming North, Sansa can't have them conspiring against Jon and decide to leave with their soldiers when the dead are coming for them all.

And honestly, she's not going to take the brunt of their anger for his rash decision that he didn't think to consult her or anyone else about before making. To bend the knee to a queen none of the Northerners have met was foolish. Besides, she wouldn't be able to answer their questions and accusations when she herself doesn't know anything.

She loves him, she really does. He, Arya, and Bran are the only family she has left. She knows he's good and honorable just like father. The fact that he's looking out for not only the North, but the entire realm for no reason other than wanting to save them all from the dead, is something no one else would do if there was nothing to gain for themselves.

But the way he constantly makes decisions based on his heart more than his head causes her to want to strangle him sometimes. She knows he must have a good reason to have bent the knee. He wouldn't simply do as this queen bid because she shot him a pretty smile. She just wishes he had waited and discussed it when he got back. But, she can't change what has already happened. She can simply control what could happen and be prepared for the other hundred possible outcomes. One of the lessons Littlefinger taught her that's actually useful.

And she will be heard by her brother on this matter before he carelessly blathers his decision to the lords.

She sighs and looks over at Arya and sees how her sister flips the dagger Bran gave her over and over as she stares blankly ahead.

"Arya," she says, waiting until those grey eyes so much like father's turn towards her. "I know you are not one for being a lady and following standard courtesies, but I'm asking you to please show some decorum when Jon arrives. At least bow before attacking him. Better yet, wait for him to come to you. We cannot give away anything that can be later used against us by the lords or this foreign queen. Especially when we must play this mummer's farce that Jon is still king." Her tone serious as she allows her sister to read the truth on her face.

She stares at Sansa for a moment before she huffs out a "Fine."

She regards Sansa a moment before saying, "I'm sure he had good reason for doing what he did." Her sister's boundless loyalty to Jon still somehow manages to surprise her at times. 

"I do as well, Arya. But the fact remains that if he arrives and immediately tells the lords he's bent the knee, they will riot and then Jon will be lord of nothing. They chose him because he fights for them. And with hardly receiving any word from him all these moons, it's caused them to worry. You have seen how they've been, Arya. Even though Littlefinger is gone, he still managed to plant seeds of doubt in some of their minds," she says, the steel in her voice sharp as the dagger in her sister's hand.

"I know Jon is focusing on the threat of the dead more than the threat of the living and refuses to play the game of thrones, but father refused as well and look what happened," she says, the emotion clogging her throat as she looks sadly at her sister.

"And we cannot simply behead everyone who opposes us, as you wish to do. Otherwise, what kind of house would we be? We'd be just like the Lannisters," her eyes narrow slightly to emphasize her point.

"So we will play this wretched game until we have what we need in order for our pack to survive," she finishes sternly.

Arya looks at her, her face not giving anything away as she does. She finally smirks at her and nods her head in agreement.

"Alright. You know how to play it best, dear sister. This once, I will try to keep my more...unsavory ideas to myself, unless need be," she tells her slyly.

Sansa nods just as they hear the horns sound, signaling the arrival of Jon. She watches in bemusement as Arya bolts from her seat and runs to the gates. She shakes her head at her little sister and walks at a slower pace to stand at the entrance of Winterfell. Samwell Tarly walks behind her soon thereafter, pushing Bran.

The sight she sees makes her gasp and her eyes widen. She hears other respond in a similar manner, murmurs passing throughout the gathered company.

An approaching black mass swallows the landscape in front of them and she cannot see the end of it. Tens of thousands of riders and thousands more on foot. The sound of their combined footsteps pounding against the ground and the neighs of the horses strikes more fear into Sansa than any wars drums.

She looks to Arya and sees a matching expression of shock at the sheer number of warriors heading their way. She's suddenly glad that this horde is coming to them as allies and not as foes.

Then her breath completely leaves her when she hears a terrible roar from above that reverberates through her. All eyes look up to see a creature beyond measure drop down from the clouds. Its green scales glitter in the dim winter light like dull gems. Even from this distance, she knows it could easily swallow a horse whole. It's massive in size but the one that follows makes her heart almost stop. Never in her life has she even imagined seeing something the size of the beast she's witnessing now. The entire courtyard is eerily quiet as the people watch the dragons in the sky with terror.

A species that has been gone from the world for over one hundred years, come to battle a foe that hasn't been seen in thousands.

She's certain the black dragon could cover almost the entire keep. Even here so far north, she's heard the rumors of how this dragon is thought to be Balerion reborn. "The Winged Shadow", it's called. And she understands why when it flies over them, covering them all in total darkness until it passes over, releasing another monstrous cry that causes snow to fall from its placements on the walls. The answering call of the green one creates a terrible song.

Arya's eyes widen in wonder at the sight. She'd heard whispers about the infamous Queen of Meereen and her dragons while she was in Braavos, but to actually see the dragons is something else entirely. It's as though history has ripped itself out of the books she'd obsessively read as a child and come to life before her eyes. The very last of their kind. It's poignantly beautiful in a way.

The dragons fly around each other in an intricate dance, their screeches echoing down to the usual silence caused by the winter snows. The exhilaration she feels at witnessing such displays from the colossal creatures is more intense than she's ever felt before.

As she takes in every detail she can, she's able to see hints of red in the wings of the black one and she quickly looks at the smaller green one to see if it has any other colors. When it turns sideways in the air, she sees bronze intermingling among the scales. She briefly wonders if all dragons were actually two colors. No matter what she thinks of this queen, she knows she will never forget when the dragons came to the North. Her eyes frantically search for the third but oddly, it doesn't show.

She tears her eyes away from the dragons and watches the riders approach. She sees Jon riding next to a figure wearing a white and grey hooded cloak who could only be the queen. Behind them she can see a man with a greeting beard ride behind Jon, along with the queen's company. She makes out a small figure that can only be Tyrion Lannister. A woman with honey skin and a halo of spiraling dark brown hair rides next to Tyrion, her eyes taking in everything around her as the dwarf points around in obvious explanation. She sees an older Westerosi man riding right behind the queen and the bald head of what looks like Lord Varys. Behind them she sees the light blonde hair of Lady Brienne. But she's unable to see any of the other riders behind them.

When the group is close enough to them, they stop and dismount from their horses. Stable hands go up to take the horses from them and Sansa is able to see just how short the queen is. For some reason, she expected her to be taller and more imposing from all the stories she's heard of her. Jon offers his arm and walks her to them. When he sees Arya and Bran, a huge grin breaks out but he doesn't say anything, deciding to hold himself until the formal introductions are taken care of.

When the queen stops in front of them, she removes the hood of her white cloak and Sansa sees the rumors of her are clearly true. The petite woman before her possesses such a heartbreaking loveliness that it almost hurts to look at her. Her silver hair is intricately braided, with loose strands around her face that hang down to her chest. Her delicate features could mislead a person into thinking she's a soft woman, until you look into those unsettling violet eyes and see the formidable strength and hardness in them. Her rosy cheeks and full pink lips stand out against her skin. With the surrounding white of winter blending in with her hair and cloak, she looks as though she's some sort of mythical figure made from the snow itself.

"May I present Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, First of her name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons," the honey skinned woman says to the assembled lords and ladies before she steps back behind the queen. While the woman lists the many titles of this queen, Jon gives the crowd a penetrating stare to show he will not accept any public intolerance from them. When they all bow accordingly, he turns to the queen with a small smile.

"Your Grace, I present the Lady of Winterfell and Lady Regent of the North, Sansa of House Stark. As well as Lady Arya, and Lord Bran of House Stark," Jon tells her, thankfully remembering his formalities.

The silver queen smiles and dips her head in greeting.

Sansa recalls all her teachings and curtsies low before them as befitting royalty.

"Welcome to Winterfell, Your Grace," she says to the petite woman.

"Thank you, Lady Sansa, for your hospitality in allowing us to stay," the queen replies, a small smile on her face. Even her voice has a unique quality to it, almost like bells.

Sansa then turns to Jon and says, "Welcome home, my king." She gives him a warning look to not say anything in front of the other lords. The Targaryen raises an eyebrow at that and side eyes Jon but stays silent.

After a brief hesitation, he takes her hint and nods. "Thank you for holding the North in my stead," he tells her before he wraps her in his usual tight hug.

"I've not told them yet," she whispers in his ear before releasing him and turning back to the queen.

"Your Grace, your men are welcomed to set camp here," she tells her.

"Thank you, Lady Sansa. I know there are many of them so I have made sure that we bring our own supplies and foods. I also offer twenty and two carts of foods for the North as a gesture of good will towards our alliance," she tells Sansa.

Not expecting the offering, Sansa bows her head in gratitude. "You're too kind, Your Grace. We graciously accept. As you can see, the winter is hard," she tells her, gesturing to the bitter cold landscape are them.

The woman turns to the small group behind her.

"May I introduce my small council," she says as she begins gesturing to each one.

"Missandei of Naath. My translator and one of my advisors," she says and the honey skinned woman bows her head in greeting.

"Captain of my Queensguard, Ser Jorah Mormont," she says.

The older knight bows as well. A gasp is heard from behind and his eyes dart to where Sansa assumes Lyanna is.

"The last of my advisors, Lord Varys."

The bald man bows and says, "A pleasure to see you well, Lady Sansa."

Keeping her formalities in check, Sansa dips her head in acknowledgment.
"You as well, my lord," she says politely.

"And Hand of the Queen, Tyrion Lannister," she finishes as she looks down at the small man immediately to her right.

He silently bows as he looks around at the reactions from the other lords.

The small queen turns to a dark skinned man with a shorn head and speaks to him a language that has a musical quality to it. Then she turns back to Sansa.

"Grey Worm is commander of my Unsullied," she says to her. He tips his head to Sansa then bows to the queen before he walks back to the armies and begins giving out orders.

"Jhogo is one of my blood riders for my Dothraki," she says as she introduces a tall, hard looking man with a long dark braid dressed in thick brown furs. She turns to him and speaks in a different language that's harsher and more guttural. He doesn't even look in their direction. He simply nods to small woman and begins shouting at the riders.

The dragon queen turns and gives a small smile before looking around at the nervous reactions of the people when a shrill cry echoes in the air.

"My dragons will not harm any here, my lady," she tells Sansa even though she's looking at the gathered group. Her voice is louder so all can hear her as she looks around with a stern expression. "They will hunt away from us and will do nothing but occasionally fly over or help with my armies' fires should the wood be too wet. We have come to help the North. Please do not be afraid of them."

Her declaration that the dragons will stay away seems to be what the people needed to hear as some of the tension leaves those around them.

She looks at Sansa again and smiles kindly. "Lady Sansa, might I meet the other lords and ladies?," she asks. Once again, Sansa is slightly surprised by this conqueror of a woman. When they last had a royal family here, Robert went straight to the crypts and Cersei straight to her rooms.

Sansa glances at Jon to see him watching the queen, his face giving nothing away. However, she sees how his eyes are soft as he regards the woman.

"Of course, Your Grace," she says and leads her over to the group behind her to make introductions.

Sansa watches as she gives them kind, pleasant smiles even as they introduce themselves with hesitant, untrusting looks.
---
Arya, having enough of decorum, lunges at Jon, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck to the point of cutting off his air. He doesn't seem to mind as he laughs and spins her around, his arms hugging her just as tight.

"I've missed you little sister," he murmurs before releasing her and holding her at arm's length.

"Now, let me get a look at you," he says his eyes taking in every new detail of the young woman before him.

She does the same, noticing the scars around his eye and the hardened edges of his face. His curls are tied back away from his face and it reminds her of how father would always wear his hair.

No longer does she see the sullen, quiet boy that he used to be. Instead she sees a man who's been shaped by time, loss, and war. He stands tall and confident, not hiding away in the shadows as he did. There's an air around him now that commands respect, even though he's most likely unaware of it.

"You still have Needle," he exclaims in surprise, a huge grin at the fact that she continues to carry the sword he gave her.

"Of course I do," she tells him proudly. She then looks over at the dragon queen for a moment before turning back to Jon. She catches the look in his eye as he watches the petite woman greet the other lords but he seems to come back to himself and the look is gone as he smiles back down at her.

Curious, Arya thinks as her brother acts as though nothing happened. She makes a note to ask him about that when they're alone.

"You'll have to tell me what you've been up to since I last saw you once the queen settles in," he tells her.

"Same to you," she replies slyly.

He looks at her for a moment when his eyes land on Bran.

"Bran!," he happily exclaims as he bends down to hug him.

"Hello, Jon," Bran says with a neutral expression on his face.

"Where have you been?," Jon asks in wonder.

"Beyond the Wall," Bran replied calmly as he looks up at the older man.

Jon's eyes widen at that. "How....why?," he stutters.

"To become the Three- Eyed Raven," he replies.

Jon looks at him confused but takes it in stride and nods his head as he simply says, "Oh."

"He's like one of the Children," a voice from behind them says.

Jon's eyes nearly pop out of his head at the sight of his friend and a giant grin splits his face.

"Sam! What are you doing here? I thought you were supposed to be at the Citadel," he exclaims as he embraces his former brother.

"I was but I'm needed up here more. They won't believe any of the reports and I had had enough," Sam explains sheepishly.

Jon doesn't seem to mind as he pats his friend on the back.
---

As she stands off to the side, watching the queen, a throat clears behind her and Sansa turns to see Lord Tyrion looking up at her.

"My lady," he says politely.

"My lord," she replies.

"It does me good to see you back home where you belong," he says kindly, a small smile on his face.

She can't help the smile that graces her own face as she bends down to give her former husband a gentle hug.

"I'm glad to see that you're still alive and well, Tyrion," she says, remembering how he'd told her to call him that when they were married.

He chuckles as he releases her and looks at her face.

"You've grown to be as lovely and strong as your mother," he says gently.

Her throats tightens at the compliment. To know that this man she used to loathe when she had to marry him, can still be so kind to her is something she will always cherish. She gives him a grateful smile then stands back up.

"So, you're Hand of the Queen, I see," she says, glancing down at the broach.

"Yes, who would have thought," he says with a smile as he looks over at the silver woman who is still conversing with the other lords.

"You seem quite fond of her," she states, trying to get a read on this woman from her old husband.

Unfortunately, Tyrion sees right through her and smirks. "It's hard not to be. Even cynics like myself have found that she inspires a great deal of loyalty to her," he says honestly.

Sansa raises an eyebrow at that and hums in response.

Tyrion regards her with a calculating look then. "I assure you my lady, she is not like the rulers we've known. She is not my sister," he tells her.

"We shall see, won't we my lord?," she responds before she sees the head of Lord Varys across the yard.

"It seems Lord Varys has changed sides as well," she observes. Tyrion looks over at the eunuch before nodding his head and meeting her eyes again.

"He too believes that Queen Daenerys can change this world for the better," he responds.

Sansa looks down at Tyrion then, her gaze piercing his own as she asks, "Do you truly believe that? That she's good and not mad like her father?" She truly wants to know what this woman is like.

The almost devote admiration that flashes for a moment in his eyes surprises her as he says, "I do. She has her flaws like all of us. She has a Targaryen ruthlessness that is terrifying to behold and she can be impulsive. But, she wants what's good for the people, not just herself."

She regards him carefully for a moment.

"I hope you're right, my lord. I truly do," she sighs before giving him a polite smile.

He nods in response then makes his way towards his queen when he sees that their company has reached Lyanna Mormont.

Sansa watches how Jorah Mormont went stiff as a board as the young lady scrutinizes him.

"Lady Mormont," Daenerys says, "it is a pleasure to meet the head of the strong house of Bear Island."

The young lady takes her eyes away from Jorah and gives the queen a hard look.

"And yet you feel comfortable enough to bring a disgraced member of our house as you tell me your...pleasantries," Lyanna says.

Sansa looks nervously at the silver queen and then at her guards who have now directed their entire attention on the girl who would dare speak to their queen in such open hostility.

Daenerys raises her brow at the young woman as her smile fades and gives her an equally hard stare as she replies, "I have no intention of dishonoring your house, my lady. That is not why I am here. I am here to aid in fighting the army of the dead that has come for us all. I understand the nature of Ser Jorah's past actions. That being said, I will also not turn away a man who has been my advisor since I was little older than yourself and has shown me unending loyalty."

The queen's tone is sharp as a blade and causes the entire courtyard to quiet. The surrounding lords tense as they watch the two before them. Sansa sees Jon watching the queen intently, as though waiting to step in if need be.

Ser Jorah clears his throat and Lyanna's eyes snap to him as he steps up and bows in supplication to his young cousin.

"My lady, I am not here to cause any strife in our house. House Mormont is yours and always will be. I am here to serve my queen and assist in fighting in this war against the dead. And should we all survive, I will go south with Queen Daenerys and never darken the North again," he says fervently.

The queen's gaze softens as she looks upon her knight before she turns to look back at Lady Lyanna.

The young girl looks from the queen to the bowing man for a moment before she gives a sharp nod.

"Very well," she says at last. Ser Jorah rises and steps back.

The breath Sansa was holding slowly releases as she sees the rigid posture of the queen relax slightly.

Lady Lyanna looks at Daenerys and gives her nod as well. "I will accept your pleasantries then, as well as your help...Your Grace," she says, showing the queen the respect of addressing her title.

Daenerys smirks at the young bear and tips her head. "I thank you, my lady." Then she moves on to the next lord.

She sees Jon's shoulders relax slightly as he watches the queen a moment longer before turning back to Samwell.

Sansa gives a silent sigh as she sees just how much work they have before them to get the Northern lords to see what this foreign queen is offering them all.

She sees Brienne and motions her over. The female knight bows once she approaches.

"My lady," she says respectfully to Sansa.

"I'm glad to see you returned safely, Lady Brienne," she says as she gives the tall woman a kind smile.

"Thank you, my lady," her sworn shield responds.

"I assume all went well?," she asks, keeping an eye on the crowd around her.

"Yes, my lady. Cersei Lannister has sworn her forces to our cause and will begin preparations to send them to the North," Brienne says solemnly.

Sansa finds that extremely hard to believe from what she remembers from her time with the golden queen. But, perhaps they convinced her and she now understands that they're all facing a greater war.

Perhaps.
---

As she continues to watch Jon talk to Sam, Arya hears footsteps approach.

"I see you're still alive," a gravelly voice says behind her.

Arya turns to look up at the face of the Hound.

Her eyebrows raise slightly as she takes in his appearance. His beard is thicker and longer and his hair seems to have grown out. He looks worn down but still just as menacing.

"What are you doing here?," she asks curiously.

"I've come to be your new maester," he replies sarcastically. "What do you think I'm doing? I've come to fucking fight," he replies with a look of exasperation.

She smirks at his callousness. Yes, this is the Hound she remembers riding with.

"Speaking of fighting, I hear you're quite the fighter now. No more of that pansy water dancing, I take it?," he asks as he looks over the weapons on her person.

"Worried I'll come to take you off my list, Hound?," she asks sweetly.

He lets out a harsh laugh and shakes his head. "I'm not planning on gettin' in your way, girl," he tells her.

She purses her lips at that and gives him a nod.

"So I take it you know what we're fighting then?," she asks.

He gives a grim nod, "Aye, I've seen 'em. Let's hope your new skills work. You'll need them." Then he turns away without further explanation.

Her eyebrow raises at that but she suddenly sees Ghost out of the corner of her eye.

He happily greets Jon with licks and prods as his tail whipping eagerly. Jon laughs at the reception and murmurs softly to his wolf before the wolf turns his red eyes to the strangers.

The great direwolf approaches the new arrivals. Everyone but the queen and her Hand give the giant wolf hesitant stares and take a small step back. Tyrion, on the other hand, grins up at the beast.

"Ah, Ghost. You've grown since last I saw you," he says as he extends his hand towards him, but leaves it in the air to make sure it's alright. He remembers what happened the last time he tried to pet the direwolf in this courtyard and he almost bit his hand off.

The direwolf stares at Tyrion with his red eyes for moment then drops low so his head can be scratched by the dwarf. Once done, he turns to Daenerys.

The petite woman gives a small smile up at the great wolf before her, her hands casually folded in front of her.

"Hello," she murmurs to him, making his tail wag slightly. "My, you are an absolutely magnificent creature, aren't you?" The wonder in her voice clearly evident as she takes in the wolf before her. But, if she rides dragons and calls them her children, then Arya supposes a direwolf is nothing for her to fear.

Ghost's ears prick all the way forward as he cocks his head to the side, which causes the queen's smile to widen, showing the dimples in her cheeks, and her amethyst eyes to dance at the sight.

Arya notices all the stunned looks from the men at the sight of the beautiful queen's smile as she interacts with the direwolf and mentally rolls her eyes. No wonder this queen has so many devoted followers.

She turns her head back to Ghost as he leans down to sniff the silver queen's offered hand. When he makes no move against her, she slowly raises it to scratch him behind the ear. All the while, he silently watches her with interest.

As she looks upon the two, she can't help but grudgingly see the appeal of the woman. The combination of the queen's silver hair with her white and grey furs as she pets the white wolf is an almost unearthly beautiful scene with the snow falling around them. It's reminiscent of something out of a fantasy.

"You have eyes like my Drogon," she murmurs as she stares directly at the silent wolf. "But where his are more akin to the liquid flame found deep in the earth, yours shine like polished garnets." She looks over the wolf's face before she continues. "You have the look of the North in your fur, but a fire in your eyes, don't you?" His tail wags side to side as she compliments him.

She then strokes along his muzzle and traces his eye as she keeps eye contact with him, a contemplative look on her face. The two stare at each other for a moment as if in a silent conversation before the queen breaks out another one of her lovely smiles.

Ghost puts his nose against the side of her neck and takes a deep breath, as though taking in her scent to associate her for future encounters. He then huffs, his hot breath making the loose strands of her hair lift slightly and tickle her neck. The queen lets out a small, tinkling laugh at the gesture. He steps back and turns his great head to lightly lick her hand before he steps away, seemingly satisfied with her.

"He approves," Jon says with a small affectionate smile, knowing the sight of the queen and his wolf will be forever burned into his memory.

Arya's eyes narrow slightly as she sees the way her brother looks at the queen. And how, in turn, the queen gives Jon a pleased smile, her eyes shining with happiness. But, then her expression immediately turns polite and pleasant as she continues on.

Again, Arya stores that interaction to be looked at later.

When she searches the remaining company, her eyes stop on a face that she never expected to see again.

His hair's shorter but everything else is the same as she remembers him. She slowly approaches him, when he sees her, a smile takes over his face and he watches her until she's right in front of him.

"Hello Arry," he says, "is it too late to take you up on that offer?"

"You..," she stutters, not believing her old friend is actually here.

"You stupid bull," she says, smacking him on the chest, "what are you doing here?"

"I've come to help," he tells her seriously, his smile dropping.

She shakes her head at him then stands on her toes to wrap her arms around his neck. He's still for a moment and she knows he's reacting to all the eyes that must be on them, but she doesn't care. She never thought she'd see her friend again and they can all burn in the hells. He finally wraps his arm around her in a one armed hug.

"I'm sorry I left you, Arry," he murmurs.

She takes the opportunity to whack him upside the back of his head and steps out of the embrace.

"Ow!," he exclaims, rubbing the back of his head and staring at her in shock.

"Don't do that again," she tells him sternly.

"Whatever you say, my lady," he says with a smirk.

She hits him again.

"Don't call me that," she says, trying to hide the smile that wants to break free at the memory of this exact conversation all those years ago.

"What have you even been doing? I thought the red woman took you," she says.

"She did, but Davos managed to help me escape. I've been working in King's Landing since. Luckily, Davos came for me again so I left with him. And now I'm helping your brother," he replies.

She wrinkles her nose in disgust at him having to go back to King's Landing but says nothing about it.

"Glad you got out," she says instead.

He gives her a smile at that. "Me too. But it's cold here," he replies honestly.

She can't help but laugh at his sour expression as he looks at the snowy landscape with disdain.

When she sees Sansa looking at her curiously, she knows she'll have to explain her behavior. She gives a mental sigh at the prospect.

But thankfully, it won't be right now because someone else catches her sister's eye as a surprised look crosses her sister's pretty face.
--------

Sansa is beyond surprised to see Sandor Clegane among the crowd of arrivals as he approaches her.

"Ser Sandor," she says with a nod of her as she takes in the face of her surly former protector.

He sighs and shakes his head. "I still ain't no damn knight, little bird," he says as he looks at Sansa, taking in the woman she's become since he last saw her. She smiles slightly at his use of the nickname she hasn't heard in years.

"Although," he says thoughtfully, "I guess you're no longer a little bird. Looks like you finally stopped singing your pretty songs and got out of your cage."

"I did," she agrees with a nod.

"You're here with the queen?," she asks curiously after a moment.

He snorts at that. "No. It's as I told the she wolf. I'm here to fight."

Her brow raises at that but before she can say anything else, she sees how the arriving group begins to slowly try to make their inside out of the cold.

She turns back to Sandor saying, "Clegane, please excuse me. I will have you all shown to your rooms." Then she turns and begins having the servants round up the guests to escort them inside.

She makes her way to the group surrounding the queen and sees that Jon has returned to her side and sees the two speaking quietly to each other. They cease their discussion when she stops in front of them. She looks at Jon a moment before turning to the silver woman.

She dips her head and says, "Your Grace, the servants will show you and your company to the rooms we have prepared. I pray you forgive me but I must speak to the king." Her tone brooking no argument for any other option.

"Of course, Lady Sansa," the queen says as her purple gaze looks over Sansa. "Perhaps we may speak before the evening meal." It's obvious that, while the queen's tone may be kind, she is not requesting. She is demanding.

"That will be fine, Your Grace," Sansa replies. "We will be in the king's solar."

The queen nods and turns to smile politely at the young servant girl. She and her group follow the girl to their assigned rooms while the Northern lords depart to their own.

"Shall we?," she asks as she turns to Jon.

"Of course," he replies, smiling at Arya as she comes to stand next to them.

He turns to Sam and claps him on the back again. "I'll come find you and you can tell me what you've been up to," he says to his friend.

"Yes, you've much to tell me as well," Sam says. He smiles at Jon then turns to make his way to the library.

The siblings begin to head inside as well, Jon pushing Bran's chair while the sisters were on either side, when a particularly hard gust of wind blows up their cloaks and causes the snow to swirl around them.

It was going to be a long winter indeed...

But the pack survives.

Chapter Text

 They arrive in the solar and have mulled wine brought to them as they settle down in their seats, with Bran's chair placed near the fire.

"Where have you been, Arya?," Jon asks.

Taking a deep breath, Arya regales Jon with everything that happened since their father's execution. The old feelings of witnessing her father's sham of being shown mercy come back ten fold as the screams of Sansa while she begged Joffrey not to whisper through her mind. But she tampers them down as she continues with how she was taken by Yoren and disguised as a boy to be escorted to the Night's Watch. She tells him of the men

As she explains this, Jon's face becomes etched in sadness at hearing what his beloved sister had to endure at such a young age.

She then explains how it was within that caravan she met Hot Pie and Gendry.

"Was that the man you were embracing in the courtyard?," Sansa interrupts. A curious look on her face as her younger sister's actions now make sense.

"Yes," Arya says.

Jon looks thoughtful for a moment before he turns to Arya. "I assume then that you don't know who his father is," he tells her.

He brow scrunches in confusion. "What does his father have to do with anything?," she asks confused.

"Because he is the bastard son of the late Robert Baratheon," he tells her point blank.

The Stark sisters look at him in utter shock.

As Arya thinks on Gendry, she can see the resemblance. Black hair, blue eyes, strong jaw... she's sure he is the spitting image of his father before Robert became king and got fat.

"And the queen knows?," Sansa asks Jon.

"She does," he replies calmly.

"And she didn't try and give him to her dragons?," Arya asks skeptically.

Jon gives her an exasperated look to which she simply raises her eyebrows in challenge.

"No," he deadpans.

"Why not?," Sansa asks. "Robert was the reason her family was murdered."

He shrugs casually. "When she found out, she didn't believe him at first then was suspicious that he'd try and follow in Robert's footsteps. But he told her he didn't even know who his father was until the red woman came for him. She told him that as long as he shows loyalty to our cause, as Orys Baratheon was loyal to his half brother Aegon, she saw no reason to blame him for his father's crimes. When he told her that he's a blacksmith, she decided he could help with the weapons and armor."

"Huh," Arya says, looking at Sansa who shares her surprise.

She can't help the snort that breaks free as she thinks on just how much more interesting the queen's company is.

Jon and Sansa look at her when they hear the sound and silently indicate for her to share.

She shakes her head and smirks at them in amusement as she says, "We're one hell of an army, aren't we? Bastards, cripples, exiles, eunuchs, freed slaves.... It appears disregarded ones have come to take over."

Sansa smirks in response to that while Jon barks a laugh and nods in agreement.

"Aye, I never really thought of it like that," he says with a thoughtful smile.

They sit in silence for a moment before Arya clears her throats to continue.

"But back to where I've been," she says. She then goes on to tell them how their group was captured and taken to Harrenhal, the horrible events that happened, how she became Lord Tywin's cup bearer, the deal she made with Jaquen escaping with Gendry and Hot Pie, taken in by the Brotherhood, how Gendry was taken by the red woman, her time with the Hound, when she came upon the Red Wedding.

At that, Sansa covers her mouth with her hand as she remembers what she was told about what they did to Robb. Jon's face becomes broken and pained as tears form in his eyes as he hears what Arya saw. Bran simply stares into the flames.

But Arya doesn't falter and continues on telling her tale about how she sailed to Braavos, what she did while there and what she learned. She's had to come to terms with the atrocities she witnessed in her short life over the years. Otherwise, she would have surely died.

"I tried to become Faceless, but I couldn't let Arya Stark go. So I left and came home" she says with a shrug.

Jon just stares at her with a surprised look with a hint of sadness to know. This is not the sister he left. Yet at the same time, she's still feisty Arya Underfoot.

He shakes his head to clear it before he focuses on Sansa when a thought occurs to him.

"I noticed Littlefinger was absent," Jon says casually.

"Did he finally crawl away?," he asks, looking between his siblings.

Arya gives a devilish smirk and looks to Sansa.

"He tried to get me to turn against you and have me dispose of Arya," she says vaguely.

Jon looks at her with his mouth agape for a moment before a fierce anger crosses his face.

"Is he in the cells?," he growls.

"No," Arya says, "he was executed on the grounds of treason and murder."

Jon is once again silent in shock as he looks from Arya to Sansa. Both give him unbothered expressions and he shakes his head at the two she wolves in front of him. He looks to Bran as well, but his brother's face is a blank canvas.

But, he sees the wisdom in their eyes and reluctantly understands that they had solid reasons to execute the man. He just wishes he'd been here to do it for them. No matter how much his sisters grow up, he'll always want to protect them as he was unable to do when they were young. But, he sees he's too late. They don't need his protection. They know how to protect themselves. Sansa with her words and mind, Arya with her cunning and sword. Together, they could become a titan of power. And that doesn't even include Bran with his abilities. It's a hard truth to swallow.

He shakes the sadness away and quickly nods his approval, not really caring that Baelish was dead, and moves on.

"And the Vale still supports us?," he asks Sansa.

She scoffs at that. "Of course they do. Lord Royce never liked Littlefinger and was only too happy to see him removed once he learned how it was he who killed Lord Arryn. Although, giving him title as Lord Protector of the Vale until Robin Arryn comes of age may have also contributed to his lack of opposition," she says smugly.

He smirks at his sister's tactics, cementing his previous realization.

"Now, do you want to explain why you referred to me as king?," Jon asks Sansa.

"Because it was the smart thing to do," she replies calmly, refusing to back down from the challenge in his eyes.

"Why haven't you told the lords?," he asks.

"Because Jon," she replies, her anger flaring to life, "I would not have been able to answer the unending questions and demands they would have thrown at me! You were not here, Jon. You don't know what they were accusing you of when I had to inform them that Daenerys Targaryen was bringing her entire host here along with her dragons. You didn't even bother sending me reports on your progress or your whereabouts or anything! The only raven I received from you was your declaration that you've bent the knee!," she explains hotly.

"If I had told them you'd bent the knee, I know there would be several of the lords who would have taken their armies and gone home. Army of the dead or not, their pride wouldn't have allowed it," she finishes as she practically yells at him.

Jon at least has the decency to look abashed at that.

"I'm sorry, Sansa. That wasn't my intent. But we need her armies and her dragons. And I could not swear an oath to two queens," he tells her, his eyes pleading for forgiveness.

She sighs at the look and tries to calm herself down.

"I understand that, Jon," she says firmly, "I really do but you cannot make such important decisions when you're the only one there. You may believe in her but the rest of us have nothing to go on. You cannot expect them to bend. You were chosen as king. You can be unchosen." Her words seem to reverberate through the room.

He thinks on that before meeting her eyes again.

"Perhaps that's best," he says as he looks to his younger brother, "now that Bran's back, he is the rightful heir of House Stark and the North."

Sansa can't help the small wince at that statement as she shakes her head. No, Bran won't be a lord of anything.

"I can't do that, Jon," he says in a flat tone.

Jon's brow scrunches in confusion at that.

"But, it's yours," he says, his eyes flicking to Sansa in uncertainty before focusing on him again.

"I'm not meant to be the Lord of Winterfell. I'm the Three Eyed Raven now," his Tully eyes turning from the fire to look directly at Jon.

Jon's eyes squint at him briefly as he takes in this solemn young man before him. This wasn't the young boy he left behind when he went to the Wall.

"Can you explain that to me?," he asks Bran kindly.

"I'm the last true Greenseer," he tells him.

Jon's eyes widen slightly at that and he nods for Bran to continue.

"When I fell from the tower, I had dreams of a three eyed raven telling me I had to find it. I then began having dreams of other things," he explains as he gets a far away look in his eyes.

But his blue eyes snap back to Jon so suddenly, it's unsettling.

"I dreamt of father pleading with the king, his face etched in grief," he says then turns to Sansa. "I saw you crying yourself to sleep at night." Sansa goes rigid at that, not knowing which night he's referring to, but says nothing as he then turns to Arya. "You kept silent and held your secrets hard in your heart." Arya's eyes widen for a moment, tilting her head as she examines her brother.

He turns back to Jon and says, "I looked north and saw the Wall shining like blue crystal. I saw you sleeping alone in a cold bed, your skin grew pale and hard as all memory of warmth fled from you." Jon's takes a sharp breath through his nose at that as he remembers those last moments in the snow. The way Bran talks so is foreign to him, it immediately sets him on edge.

Either Bran does not notice the way they're all currently looking at him or he simply doesn't care as he continues. "I saw father in the crypts when he was beheaded. I dreamt of the ocean flooding Winterfell and drowning the people, including Ser Rodrick. Then the Ironborn came and took Winterfell, killing everyone," he tells Jon.

Jon feels the hairs on the back of his neck begin to stand up as Bran continues on, telling him about Jojen and Meera Reed coming to aid him, fleeing Winterfell and heading North while the wildling woman took Rickon elsewhere.

"We saw you beyond the Wall," he tells Jon.

Jon's eyes widen at that and he looks to Sansa and Arya. Apparently, he didn't tell them that either as they look just as shocked as him.

"Where?," he asks.

"When you were fighting the brothers who had betrayed the Watch," he says.

Jon winces at that, wishing Bran hadn't had to see such things.

"Why didn't you come to me?," he asks.

"You would have taken me back with you. And that was not my path. I had to learn," he says in reply. His eyes once again get a far away look.

"And... did you?," Jon asks hesitantly.

Bran nods. "Yes," he looks at Jon again before saying, "don't you remember, Jon? I've told you this before."

Now, Jon has absolutely no idea what Bran's referring to and can feel himself starting to panic as his brother looks at him with those Tully blue eyes that are both empty and full of an unfathomable amount of wisdom.

"You had wondered if I'd always had three eyes and I told you not before the crow," he says calmly.

Jon scrambles to remember where he's heard that but can't grasp it fully.

Seeing his struggle, Bran gives what he believes is a smile but it doesn't reach his eyes.

"I like it in the dark. No one can see you, but you can see them. But first, you have to open your eyes. See? Like this," repeating the words he'd said as he reaches forward to poke Jon's forehead between his eyes with his forefinger.

Jon reels away from the hand as the dream comes back to him. He was Ghost and Bran was a growing weirwood. He looks at Bran in disbelief and shakes his head as he struggles to find words.

"But...it was a dream!," he says in shock, his chest heaving.

Bran observes him for a moment before saying, "But not all dreams are just dreams."

Jon can't help but gape at Bran, not knowing what to say.

Sansa and Arya remain silent as they watch warily. They knew their brother could see things but to be able to communicate through dreams...

Bran keeps his eyes on Jon as he says, "And it's true, I was able to see many things in the dark without being noticed. Until I made a mistake."

He looks away at that. "I didn't hide myself well enough and he saw me."

The way he says that makes Jon break out in goose flesh.

"Who?," he asks quietly but for some odd reason, he believes he knows who Bran is referring to.

Bran cocks his head to the side as he regards Jon for a long moment.

"The same one who brought back those you could not save at Hardhome," he says.

Jon gasps at that. "How... how did you know that?"

"As I said, I see many things now, Jon," he deadpans as he looks back at the fire.

Jon looks wide eyed to Sansa. Lips thinned, she gives him a nervous look before her gaze returns to her younger brother.

"But, I'm learning to control myself more. I'm getting stronger," Bran says as he continues to stare into the fire.

"What do you mean?," Jon asks warily.

"It appears he is now connected to me and I to him... in a way. And I must become better than him if I wish to help defeat him," he says ominously.

Without another word, Bran looks down as he begins to roll the sleeve of his tunic and cloak up to reveal his forearm.

A perfect hand print is burned onto his skin.

Jon can't help the horrified gasp as he looks at the exposed flesh. He leans forward and grabs Bran's arm to examine it more closely. He looks back up at Bran who returns his stare with a blank acceptance. His eyes then turn to his sisters who are staring at the mark as if it were going attack them.

"How?," Jon rasps.

Bran shrugs as he says, "I thought I was spying on him when it turns out he was spying on me and took advantage of my distraction. It gave him access to where we were staying, killing the Three Eyed Raven, the Children who were there..." His voice dies for a moment and his eyes become sad as he swallows. "And Hodor and Summer," he whispers.

Jon can see the agony over the loss of the simple man but especially over Summer.

Sansa swallows hard and looks at her lap, knowing just how awful losing your direwolf is.

"I'm so sorry, Bran," Jon whispers.

"The ink is dry. The past cannot be rewritten," Bran replies.

Jon sits back in his chair and scrutinizes the crippled man before him as Bran keeps eye contact with him.

"So you see, Jon, I cannot be Lord of Winterfell. I must continue to watch," he says vacantly.

Jon stares at him for a long time. He looks first to Sansa who gives him a nod then to Arya who shrugs her shoulder. He looks back to Bran and with a small sigh, nods in acceptance.

They sit in silence for a moment when someone knocks on the door.

Arya gets up and opens it to find Brienne standing there with Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and the other members of her small council behind her.

"Ah," Tyrion says looking from Sansa to Jon, "I hope now is not a bad time."

"Come in, my lords, Your Grace," Sansa says stiffly as she rises from her seat, Jon rising as well.

Arya moves to the side as the group enters the room and takes their seats, Brienne shuts the door again to resume her position outside.

Once everyone is once again seated, Sansa looks straight at Daenerys.

"Your Grace, I did not address my brother as king in any a sign of disrespect," she begins but the small queen raises her hand to stop her.

"I can understand why you did it, Lady Sansa. I will admit that the circumstances in which Lord Jon declared his loyalty to me were not ideal," she says, her eyes flick to Jon before they bore into Sansa's. Jon's cheeks flush at the statement but his face remains neutral.

"I do plan on bringing the North into the fold, but I promise I am not here to conquer the North. I am here to save it," the queen tells her with conviction.

Sansa's brow rises slightly at the vehemence in the queen's lilting voice.

She quickly glances at Jon who gives a slight nod in confirmation then looks back to the queen.

"I hope that is true, Your Grace," she replies coolly, her face impassive.

Sansa watches the queen's eyes narrow slightly as she looks at her.

"If I was truly here to conquer, would I have emptied most of the grain stores we hold and brought them as an offering? Would I have brought my entire force to this cold land, when my dragons would have easily worked?," she asks as she continues to scrutinize Sansa.

Her heart skips a beat at the mention of the dragons, but she tries not to let it show.

"But I feel that is exactly what you are doing by coming here, expecting the North to simply follow their king and bend alongside him without complaint. Unfortunately, the Northern lords are too focused on the matters of the living instead of on the dead. The possibility of going back into the fold to play the game of thrones is one they will not accept," she says coolly. Arya silently nods her head in agreement.

The queen purses her lips and glances at Tyrion who looks at her in thought as the wheels in his head turn to find a solution.

Surprisingly, she then turns to Jon. He heaves a great sigh and looks at her grimly.

"Would it help them to know that I am not here to conquer because I too have seen the army of the dead?," she asks him quietly.

A pained look flashes in Jon's eyes as he takes in the queen before him while Tyrion winces slightly. Missandei and Jorah give the queen sad looks. Varys simply lowers his eyes to his lap for a moment.

The Stark sisters exchange a suspicious glance at the reaction of the others and look back to the queen. Bran looks right at the queen, already knowing why her third dragon is not with her. He saw how it fell from the sky.

"I don't think you need to tell them the details," Tyrion says as the queen looks back at her Hand, "but if the look my brother gave when you told him the number is any indication, then yes."

She looks back to Jon who silently nods.

A chill runs down Sansa's spine at the conversation held before her.

"You saw them?," Arya asks with a calculated look in her eyes.

The queen looks straight into her eyes and nods. "I did," she says.

"How many?," Arya asks.

"At least one hundred thousand from what I saw. But I'm sure there are more," she says grimly.

Horror washes over Sansa and she sees that Arya feels the same as she reads the truth on the queen's face.

She looks at Arya, the young she wolf quickly regains her composure as she purses her lips and gives a nod.

"That should get them to stop their nonsense," she says as she looks at Sansa.

"We will do so at the evening meal," Sansa tells the queen.

She nods in return.

"Now, about the situation with the North coming back into the fold," Sansa says to the queen. All eyes in the room focus on her.

"I think it would be wise to wait," she tells them.

The queen obviously does not favor that idea if the thinning of her lips is any indication.

Tyrion clears his throat as he watches the queen.

When her purple orbs settle on him, he says, "Perhaps we can come to a compromise of sorts."

"And what would that be?," the queen asks.

"The North does not wish to return to play the game of thrones, is that correct Lady Sansa?," he asks looking now at her.

"Yes," she says, unable to see where he was going with this.

"What if they were part of the kingdoms simply in name for the time being? Should you win the war against the dead, they will be given the option of sending their men to face my sister," he says looking back to the queen.

Varys looks thoughtful at that and nods slowly as it plays out in his mind.

"That could work, Your Grace," the Spider says.

"And if I need the men to face your sister and they still refuse? What then my lord Hand?," the queen asks.

Tyrion thinks a moment before he looks at the queen with a grim acceptance.

"Then you bring her fire and blood," he deadpans.

Sansa sees the displeasure on Jon's face of that idea but it quickly changes to grim acceptance.

The silver queen's brow raises at that and she then looks at Jon who gives her a silent nod of approval. She purses her lips before looking at Sansa.

"Is that acceptable?," she asks Sansa.

"I... believe it is, Your Grace," she says slowly.

"Then it is done," she says, rising from her seat, the others following suit.

"We shall see you at the evening feast," she tells them before she and her council exit the room.

When the queen's company leaves, Arya turns back to Jon. It was his turn to tell her what happened in the time they were separated.

"How were you able to leave the Night's Watch, Jon?," Arya asks him.

He gives her an incredulous look before turning to Sansa who looks at him sympathetically with sad eyes.

"I didn't tell her. I wasn't sure if you'd have wanted me to and it wasn't my story to share," the red head replies softly.

Jon heaves a great sigh and nods at Sansa before turning back to Arya, who's now rigid after the exchange.

"What?," Arya asks forcefully.

"You know that the vows are meant for life," he states slowly.

She nods her head, watching him warily.

"Mine no longer applied because my watch ended," he says softly.

"What do you mean?," she asks timidly, refusing to understand what he's trying to tell her.

"I was murdered by my brothers, Arya," he says, swallowing hard.

She gapes at him and shakes her head in disbelief.

She looks to Sansa who gives a single nod, confirming that it's true.

"Why?," she asks, emotion clogging her throat at the thought that her beloved brother had almost been gone from this world forever.

"They didn't agree with my decision to let the Wildlings through the gate in order to keep them from becoming more soldiers for the dead," he explains, "so they stabbed me."

She blinks back the tears as she examines the haunted look in her brother's eyes and takes a steadying breath as rage consumes her.

He slowly undoes the ties to his tunic and pulls his shirt down.

The hooked scar she sees makes her want to vomit and a choked noise comes from her as the tears blur her vision. She looks at her brother's face for a moment then jumps out of her seat and crawls into his lap, holding him tightly.

"The Red priestess, Melisandre, the one who took Gendry... brought me back," he says. His eyes drop for a moment as he swallows hard before looking back up to meets hers.

She thinks of how she had planned on killing the red woman who took her friend. But it appears that won't be necessary since the woman returned her brother. She wraps her arms around his neck and squeezes.

"I'm glad she did, Jon," she whispers, her voice breaking.

His arms wrap around her like a vice and he buries his face in her shoulder, taking a shuddering breath as he tries to control his emotions.

"I disagree sometimes. But seeing you all makes it better," he says hoarsely.

She nods and pulls back to look at his face. His eyes are red and shiny but his cheeks are dry.

"Did they pay?," she asks through gritted teeth, wiping the wetness off her cheeks with her sleeve.

"Aye. I had them hanged as traitors and cut the rope of their platform myself," he says, a muscle in his jaw ticking at the memory.

Seeing how her brother is slowly shutting down, she clears her throat and racks her mind on something she say to change the topic.

"So," she says lightly after a moment, moving off his lap and back into her chair, "the queen is interesting."

Jon looks at her sharply as he tries to read her expression, which in turn gives Arya the answer she needed: Jon is somehow involved with the foreign queen.

"How so?," he asks cautiously.

She shrugs in response and begins twirling the dagger through her fingers as she answers, "I'm simply intrigued by the company she keeps."

Jon smirks slightly. "Aye, but they're all strongly loyal to her."

"And you?," she asks.

His eyes narrow as he realizes the trap she laid and purses his lips in thought.

"Aye, I put myself in that category," he replies slowly.

Arya has to fight hard to hide her shock and is able to see the quick flash of it in Sansa's eyes when she looks over.

"Why?," Sansa asks him forcefully.

Jon's eyes drop to his lap. "She saved us," he responds quietly.

Arya's mind runs quickly through the information she's gained since their arrival when it snags on something.

"There were only two dragons," Arya says. "I thought she had three."

A pained look mixed with guilt crosses Jon's face as he raises his eyes to hers.

"A group of us went beyond the Wall to retrieve a wight so we could prove to Cersei that what's coming for us all is real," he begins slowly.

The two sisters look at Jon with disbelieving outrage upon hearing that he would do something so reckless.

He notices their expressions and holds his hands up to placate them. "I know," he says, "It wasn't wise but it was the only way to make them believe." He looks at them apologetic expression in hopes they will understand the necessity of such a foolish excursion.

Sansa takes a deep breath in an attempt to release her rising anger and gestures for him to continue.

Arya does the same and tucks her hands away to keep from leaning over and smacking Jon upside the head like she did to Gendry.

"We managed to capture one but it alerted the others and they surrounded us. It forced us to take refuge on a small island in the middle of a frozen lake," he says.

"But I'd sent Gendry back before that happened in an attempt to request for aid. He managed to make it to Eastwatch and sent a raven to her at Dragonstone and she came. She went against her advisors' council to just leave us there and brought all three of her dragons to save us," his voice getting quieter as he continues.

The two women exchange glances at the admiration they both can hear in his voice while regaling them with the events they took place.

Clearing his throat, he says, "The Night King threw an ice blade that caught the one she named Viserion in the chest. It fell out of the sky and sunk below the surface of the lake." His voice holds a note of profound sadness as he finishes the story.

Sansa is horrified at what she's hearing. Regardless of what she thinks of this queen, she can't imagine what it had been like to see that. To know that even these mighty beasts can be brought low by this enemy terrifies her.

Arya feels the sadness coming off Jon and can't help but feel her own melancholy. The only dragons in existence have now gone to two.

Jon heaves a long suffering sigh and looks between his beloved sisters with an earnest expression.

"All I ask is that you allow her the chance to prove herself before you judge her," he says to them.

Sansa sighs as well and gives him a curt nod. "But if I don't like her, that's it, Jon," she tells him sternly.

He nods in agreement to that and looks at Arya.

"We'll see," she says vaguely.

"She will succeed. For fire and blood are what's needed in this war and the dragon must have three heads," Bran says cryptically as he stares at the flames. The others share wary glances at that statement but say nothing as Bran looks at Jon once more.

"I must speak with you later this evening. It's time you know," he says.

Again, his brother's words instantly put Jon on edge.

"Know what?," he asks.

Bran looks him over for a moment before answering.

"Something that could help us... or hurt us depending on how you perceive it," he says.

"And you can't tell me now?," he asks slightly irritated at how vague his brother was being.

Bran gives another empty smile and shakes his head.

"I believe you have other matters to attend to. This can wait until after the evening meal. Besides, I need to go to the weirwood," he replies. Arya nods and comes to stand behind Bran.

Jon studies his brother for a moment before rubbing his hand down his face and giving a tired "alright" before heading out the door.

As he makes his way down the halls, his mind goes over everything his siblings told him.

Dragons, greenseers, assassins, dead armies... if he weren't living it, he'd never believe such things would somehow be associated with each other.

What interesting times these were.

Chapter Text

"What do you make of it?," Daenerys asks Missandei when they return to the guest quarters.

The rooms are almost quaint in appearance though more spacious than Daenerys would have imagined. The stone walls by the windows are covered in tapestries to help keep away the chill. The bed is piled with thick furs and the large fireplace gives the room plenty of light along with the candles placed along the spaces on the walls where the tapestries aren't hung.

A small table and chairs are tucked in the far corner of the room. An armoire stands on the opposite wall with a writing desk underneath the largest window.

The rugs on the wooden floor are lush and soft underneath her feet.

She decides she likes the coziness of it very much. It's much better than the rooms at Dragonstone though she enjoys the style of the rooms and layout more there.

"I've never known such cold," her friend says. The obvious distaste for it is evident.

"No," she agrees, "but it is beautiful in its own harsh way."

Missandei's lips twitch at that as her eyes drift to the window to watch the white specks drift along on their way to the earth.

"It is," she says softly before she looks at Daenerys. "From inside."

She can't help but laugh at her friend's truth.

"To be fair, I'm sure they would despise the heat of Essos," she tells the Naathi woman.

Missandei hums in response, pulling her dark cloak tighter around herself as she finishes unpacking the last items from Daenerys' trunk, laying out her evening dress and cloak before going to her own room to do the same.

Once done, they decide to go find Tyrion.

"I wish to walk around," she tells him.

"I'm not sure that's wise, Your Grace," Tyrion says slowly.

She arches an eyebrow at him and gives him a an imperious look. "Why not? Isn't the point of being allies trusting in said allies?"

"Yes...but-," Tyrion says but she cuts him off with a shake of her head.

"I don't mean to go anywhere far. Just maybe their...godswood?," she asks not sure if that's the word for it.

He nods in affirmation then looks outside. With a sigh, he relents. "Take some Unsullied with you at least. Or some of your blood riders if any are around," he tells her with a hard stare.

"As you wish," she says with a sly grin.

Turning to Missandei she gives her friend a smile. "Shall we?," she asks.

Missandei nods in assent and they head towards the door.

Turning back, Dany says, "When Ser Jorah is finished, will you send him to me? If we aren't in the godswood, we will be in their library. I'm quite intrigued to see what they have."

He gives another defeated sigh and nods his assent. "Of course, Your Grace," he tells her.

"Thank you, my lord Hand," she says with a smile.

As they walk to the godswood that sits next to the guest quarters, Dany can't hide the wonder on her face as she takes in the beauty of it.

The steam rising from the springs mixed with the snow gives the woods an ethereal quality. She sees Missandei wander over to them and put her hand in the steam. Her mouth opens slightly as she looks back to Dany.

"It's warm," she says surprised.

Dany goes to stand by her and copies her, feeling that the steam is indeed very warm.

"There was an old legend that the people thought dragons lived under Winterfell and that's why it's so warm," she tells her friend.

Missandei looks over and gives her a wry smile. "And who told you that, Your Grace? A certain solemn, brooding lord perhaps?"

She gives her friend a warning look before glancing around to make sure they're alone.

"Not when there are too many ears who can hear. We may not be as alone as we think," she whispers.

Missandei's eyes widen slightly as she too looks around before giving Dany a nod of understanding.

Dany leans in closer so she's shoulder to shoulder with her friend and whispers, "But yes."

Missandei gives her a smirk before her face turns serious.

"Just be careful, Your Grace. You aren't as subtle as you wish to be. I saw the Stark sisters giving him curious looks when his eyes would linger on you too long. If they have noticed, it won't be long before the other lords do too," she whispers, her voice so low that Dany has to almost press her head against hers to hear.

Her heart gives a few panicked beats before she forces it to calm. She leans away from Missandei and gives her a nod. If Jon can't keep up the mummery that they are only allies, she will have to play it for the both of them until she can speak with him.

She moves away from the small spring to continue looking around the wood.

The trees are all bare except the great tree in the middle, it's leaves a blood red that stand out while it's trunk is a pale cream.

"It's a....weirwood tree," she murmurs to Missandei, feeling the need to stay quiet in this place.

The Naathi woman's eyes are just as big as she takes in the strange tree. "I've never seen anything like this," she replies just as quietly.

"They are the eyes of the old gods," a voice says on the other side of the tree.

They walk around the trunk to find Brandon Stark sitting quietly before the tree, looking at them impassively.

"My Lord Stark," she says dipping her head in greeting, Missandei doing the same.

He gives her a flat smile and says, "I am no lord, Your Grace. I simply watch."

Dany looks at Missandei before turning back to the young man.

"Watch?," she asks.

He looks back to the tree and she follows his eyes. That's where she sees the face carved in the trunk.

"Yes, as the Children of the Forest used the weirwood eyes to watch the earth before men began cutting them down. Much like the glass candles," he says.

"Is it a type of sorcery?," she asks as she walks closer to the face on the tree to inspect it. She thinks back to the powers of the warlocks of Qarth and Quaithe of Asshai. When he doesn't respond she turns around.

He tilts his head in thought as his eyes meet hers again.

"Perhaps. It goes back all the way back to the Children. But unlike those you have dealt with in the east, my ability is not found through magic and spells. Mine is found through blood, known in the North as greenseers. Only one in a thousand are born as wargs. But one in a thousand wargs are greenseers," he tells her.

Her brow lifts at that as she studies the young man. She's always been hesitant of sorcery ever since Miri Maaz Dur. But she remembers how she saw visions in the House of the Undying and all the things Quaithe had told her.

"And what do you watch?," she asks curiously.

"Everything," he says looking around the woods.

She can't help the skepticism in her voice when she repeats, "Everything?"

"Things that have long since faded into the shroud of time, things that are happening now, even things that have not yet come to pass," he deadpans as his blue eyes rest on her again.

"So like the red priests of R'hllor with their flames. You see visions as well," she says in a casual tone, not very impressed.

The Shadowbinders could see what was happening in different parts of the world. Especially now that the glass candles are burning again. The Undying of Qarth could see things in the future as well. Even she saw things in the past and future if she included the dragon dreams her family has been known for.

He stares at her with those eyes that look through her, not at her and tilts his head again.

"But what I see are not only cryptic visions of possible futures. As I said, I am able to see all over. Not just distances of land but time as well," he responds.

She hums at that, intrigued.

He studies her a moment and then glances at Missandei before returning his gaze to her.

"Remember who you are, Daenerys. The dragons know. Do you?," he quotes.

She wills her face to remain calm even though her shoulders have gone stiff and her breathing begins to pick up. There's no way for him to know what Quaithe said... was there? The Shadowbinder remained in the east.

Missandei looks at her in worry but her eyes bore into the chair bound man.

Seeing her panic he gives her what she thinks is meant to be a comforting smile even though it's more empty than anything.

"I am not as the Shadowbinders of Asshai you have dealt with, Your Grace. Nor do I mean you harm as the witches and warlocks did," he says to her.

"But...," she says as stares at him with wide eyes.

"You strive to look forward always. But sometimes, to go forward, you must go back. No matter how painful," he says.

Her eyes widen even more at that. She stares at him in open curiosity now as she steps closer to him. He silently watches her when she crouches before him.

"You must prepare, Daenerys Stormborn. Your dragons are fire made flesh," he says and she nods. Yes, she knows this.

But he continues.

"And fire is power. All have, and will continue to, lust for that power. But none will do so more than he," he says, his eyes boring into hers.

She looks at him in alarm and he nods in grim affirmation. "Yes, you know of whom I speak. You are his biggest threat and he covets your children above all else. You've seen this already, when he took your white and gold dragon from the sky. But he will not be satisfied until all three of their flames are extinguished from the earth.... Along with yours," he tells her ominously.

She sucks in a breath as her body breaks out in goose flesh.

"Why?," she asks. Why her?

"Their kind hate every creature with hot blood in their veins. And the Targaryens were raised in the fires of Valyria. The heat of your blood is stronger than all the others. Even more so since you birthed yours dragons," he tells her solemnly.

"What do I do?," she asks him. She doesn't know how to fight. Much less fight this enemy she didn't even know truly existed until she went beyond the Wall.

He watches her for a long moment before answering. "Only you can answer that," he tells her cryptically.

She feels her frustration bubble up. It was the House of the Undying all over again. Answers given in riddles. However, she swallows it down and nods.

"But," he says as she stands up, "you will not be alone. Soon comes another."

She looks at him in confusion but before she can ask what other he's referring to, he looks away and simply says, "Your questions will be answered soon, Your Grace."

She stares at the young man then looks at Missandei. Her friend gives her an incredulous look at the exchange but says nothing.

Clearing her throat, she looks back to the greenseer.

"I...will take your words into consideration, Lord Stark," she says, not knowing what else to call him.

He gives her a slightly bemused smile and dips his head.

"I hope you do, Your Grace," he responds before looking back at the tree.

Dany gives Missandei another look before they wander out of the godswood and walk to the library next to the guest house.

Once inside, they come across a large man sitting with a mousy haired woman as she bounces a babe on her lap. She's about to turn away when the man's head snaps up. His eyes widen and he hastily gets up out of his chair and mutters, "Y-Your Grace."

The woman then turns around to see them and she too tries to get up.

Dany folds her hands in front of her and bows her head in greeting.

"I'm sorry, we did not mean to disturb you, lord...?," she says not remembering this man in the line of lords and ladies she was introduced to earlier.

"Oh, I'm not a lord, Your Grace. I'm from the Night's Watch. I'm Samwell Tarly," he says nervously.

The name has her immediately stiffen for a moment before she forces herself to appear calm.

She sees Missandei side eye her, but she too remains calm, giving nothing away.

"Tarly... one of the houses from the Reach," she says, pretending as if she has to really think where House Tarly is located.

He nods his head. "Yes, Your Grace."

She takes a quick breath through her nose as she realizes that this man is somehow related to the ones she had burned. But before she decides if she should be the one to inform him of his family's passing or if he even knows anything about the fact that his family was executed, she decides to get a read on him first.

She turns to the woman with the babe and gives her a polite smile which the woman hesitantly returns. Her eyes continue to dart between the two of them, never having seen eyes like those of this queen or hair like the exotic woman.

"And may I ask your name?," she asks kindly to the woman who's still staring at her unique features.

"I'm Gilly and this is little Sam," the woman says, gesturing to the babe before her eyes go large and she stutters, "Your Grace."

"And what house are you from, Lady Gilly?," she asks.

The woman shoots Samwell a nervous glance then says quietly, "I'm one of the Free Folk....Your Grace."

Her brow raises in interest at that.

"Really? I've met some of the Free Folk, but I've not yet had the pleasure of speaking in depth with your people," she says, her enthusiasm evident in her voice.

She gestures to the chairs next to them and asks, "May we?"

"Of...of course, Your Grace," Samwell says as he scrambles around the table to hold out the chair for her.

Missandei takes the chair next to her while Gilly sits across from them by Samwell.

"What was it like beyond the Wall?," she asks the wildling.

Again, the woman's eyes quickly flick to the large man before she answers.

"It was...cold. Even colder than here. And very isolated. I just lived with my family near the Wall. We weren't as far out as the other Free Folk," she says. Her eyes widen and she quickly adds, "Your Grace."

"Yes, I've never experienced such a cold before," the queen says.

"It's....very different from the heat I'm used to," Missandei says in agreement.

Gilly nods hesitantly, not knowing what to say to this beautiful woman in front of her. Much less how to properly address her. Kneelers were so complicated....

"So, are they now part of the North?," Daenerys asks her.

"They live in the North, but they are not part of it," Gilly says. She hasn't met the other Free Folk, but she knows the ways of her people.

"But they follow Lo- King Jon," she says, realizing until Jon told his people he's now a lord, it was safest to keep up the farce of him still being a king.

"Aye," Gilly says, "they follow him to battle. They don't kneel to him."

"Why do they not kneel?," Missandei asks curiously.

Gilly shrugs and says, "We've never truly knelt to anyone. It's not our way."

"But, there have been kings beyond the Wall before," Daenerys says, recalling all of the history lessons Tyrion and Jon put her through about the North on their journey here.

"Only to try and unite the Free Folk in order to get south of the Wall," the woman responds before adding, "Your Grace."

"And that's why the follow... King Jon?," she asks curiously.

Again, the wildling woman nods. "He's the only one who'd help us. He knew what was coming and what would have happened if we stayed," she says grimly.

A shiver runs down Daenerys' spine at that. Yes, they would have become more dead soldiers.

"No one else would help you?," Missandei asks.

The woman looks to her and shakes her head.

"We weren't allowed to cross the Wall. Been that way since it was built," she tells the exotic looking woman.

Dany twists her lips in displeasure at that.

"That sounds much like what you did, Your Grace," Missandei says thoughtfully.

Gilly's eyes look to Missandei in question.

"Queen Daenerys freed thousands of slaves in Essos, including myself. Something that has never been done since the masters and the slaves came to be," Missandei tells the woman.

The woman's eyes go large at that as she looks back and forth between the two women across from her.

"Slaves?," she asks.

"People who are forced to serve others and have no freedom or rights," Sam tells her quietly. "It's very common in the east."

"Many were treated worse than vermin," Missandei tells the woman, trying to tamper down on the anger she will always feel about the "wise" masters.

"Truly?," she asks them. She'd never known about slavery. Had never known such a thing was done. But... she guesses she and her sisters were slaves of sorts to Craster if she had to give her former life a word.

"Yes," Missandei tells her, "until Queen Daenerys ended it."

"I remember reading about that. It was very impressive, Your Grace," Sam says nodding.

Dany looks at him with a suspicious expression on her face. Why would a brother of the Night's Watch have knowledge about her time in Essos?

Upon seeing the look on her face, he realizes that Jon hadn't told her about her late uncle and hurries to explain.

"I uh... I was under the tutelage of a Targaryen before, Your Grace," Sam says sheepishly as he stares at the imposing queen.

Her brow crinkles in confusion, sure that he was misinformed. She stares at him silently as she waits for him to explain.

"Maester Aemon Targaryen at Castle Black. Your great uncle," he says when he sees her confusion.

Her purple eyes go wide at that. What? She had a relative at the Wall? Why had she never heard of him? Could she go see him? Her heart rate picks up with hope.

But as she goes over his words, the "was" sticks out like a beacon. But... but maybe he means that he was taught by Aemon until he had to leave.

"Is... he still at Castle Black?," she asks hesitantly, knowing the answer but needing to hear it anyways.

Sam shakes his head sadly in confirmation.

She nods, trying to swallow the lump in her throat. A crestfallen look covers her face at the realization that yet another member of her family is gone and she's truly alone now. She looks at her lap to hide the pain of that truth. As she thinks more of her line, she realizes he'd been over 100 years old. Missandei reaches over and grips her hand in comfort.

"But he got ravens about you, Your Grace. That's how I knew about your time in Slaver's Bay," he says gently in hopes that the knowledge that the maester knew of her would ease the pain he sees in her purple eyes.

It works as her teary gaze meets his again and turns slightly hopeful as she asks, "He did?"

Sam nods enthusiastically. "Oh yes, he'd have me read them to him."

When he sees her eyes narrow slightly, he rushes to explain, "He'd lost his sight."

Her face smooths out in clarity and she nods.

"He....he hated that he couldn't be with you," he says.

A flash of pain flickers in her eyes before it's gone.

"What was he like?," she asks quietly, keeping her voice as steady as she can.

"He was a wonderful man," Sam says with a smile. "He loved books and always said it was one of the ironies of old age. 'So many books, but no eyes to read them.' He was a brilliant maester. He was kind to all the brothers, but he really helped me. I'm not good with a sword or fighting so he took me as his steward. He was the wisest man I knew," he finishes quietly.

Gilly nods her head in agreement. "He was always kind to me and little Sam, Your Grace. And very smart, like Sam said," she tells the sad queen.

The silver queen gives the woman a small smile before turning back to Sam.

Sam takes a deep breath and his head tilts as he remembers. "He told me once, 'Sam, we tremble on the cusp of half remembered prophecies. Of terrors and wonders that no man now living can hope to comprehend'," he says as his eyes meet her enraptured ones.

"He believed you were the prince that was promised," he explains gently.

Her eyes widen at the phrase as curiosity and wonder fill them. She knows that the red priestess Melisandre told her she believed Dany was part of that prophecy, but she's never thought much about it since. The fact that her uncle believed this as well makes her want to hear more. Though she knows she's heard it somewhere else but she cannot wrap her hands around the memory of where, it disappears just as she reaches for it.

Her curiosity bolsters him to continue and he recalls the words as best he can.

"He said... no one ever looked for a girl. The error crept in from the translation. That 'dragons were neither male nor female. Now one and now the other, as interchangeable as flames.' He said the language misled them all for a thousand years," his forehead furrowed as he remembers the rest.

She glances at Missandei and nods. Her friend had said the same about the phrase being gender neutral.

He looks up as it comes back to him and continues. "He said you were the one, born amidst salt and smoke. That your dragons prove it. He said that I had to tell the Citadel that you're our hope. They needed to send you a maester to counsel and protect you. I'm sure he would have had the Citadel send another maester for the Watch so he could have gone to you himself. He even said he needed to go to you, but his body had betrayed him. He said that the dragon must have three heads, but he was too old and frail to be one of them," he smiles sadly at the queen.

Her eyes widen even more.

Mother of dragons... child of three....

Three?

Three heads has the dragon...the ghost chorus yammered in her skull.

But before she can think more about how her uncle knew of this as well, Sam continues.

"That's all he wanted when he took his last breaths- for you to know so you could come and save us. I know he would be glad to see that you have," he finishes gently.

She gives him a tragic smile for a moment before it falls. She swallows hard again and blinks rapidly to keep the tears from falling. Missandei looks at her with sympathy, never having seen her friend and queen show such sadness before strangers.

Oh, how Dany wished her uncle could have met her children before he passed. To know that the dragons were no longer the grief of their house, but the glory. A wistful look crosses her face at the thought. She thinks how different she would have moved, how her course of action would have been set had she'd known about Aemon. That she could have met another who didn't have the madness their family was known for and that had inflicted Viserys.

If there were gods, they had an unending cruelty in the ways they'd always make sure her family slipped between her fingers like sand, no matter how hard she gripped it. Leaving her to be the last of the forty families of dragonlords of Old Valyria. And when she died, there would be no more.

The thought is so depressing and bleak that she clears her throat and forces it out of her mind.

She looks back up at the man and gives him what she hopes is a smile. He gives her a sympathetic twitch of his lips in return.

"Thank you," she tells him, "for telling me about him."

"Of course, Your Grace," he says.

Taking a steadying breath, she knows she has to tell him what she's done to his family.

"Unfortunately, I cannot give you such tidings," she says quietly as she looks at him head on.

His expression becomes panicked at that and he swallows.

"I...met a Lord Randyl Tarly on the battlefield when I learned that Highgarden had been defeated by the Lannisters," she says as she keeps eye contact with him.

His eyes go large at that and a small "oh" comes out of his mouth. He looks down for a moment before meeting her stare again. "I take it he didn't survive?," he asks.

"He refused to bend the knee and said he would rather die than follow a foreign queen who commands barbarians," she says point blank.

He winces at that and with a sigh, nods his head.

"Your Grace, in truth, my father was the reason I went to the Wall," he says as he looks at her again. "I was never good enough or strong enough. He wanted my younger brother Dickon to be his heir. So, my father gave me the option of either going to the Wall or..." he pauses and looks down sadly as he remembers the hateful words his father said to him all those years ago and what he said when he and Gilly went back to Hornhill.

He clears his throat and looks back up at the striking violet eyes of the queen before him, unsure of whether he should divulge this stranger with such personal details. But, he can see the regret in her eyes as she probably feels he'll be angry with her.

Truthfully, he never had a connection with his father. Threatening your own son to take the black or you'll kill him isn't something that inspires love from that child. He'd disowned his father when he took Heartsbane. And now, he's quite glad he did because otherwise it would have been left with his father's ashes or sent back to Hornhill. Where it would be of no use to anyone here. 

"Or I would encounter an unfortunate hunting accident," he finishes.

A look of abhorrence covers the queen and her advisor's features.

"I never liked that man," Gilly says angrily as she looks at the silver queen.

"He was horrible to Sam when we stopped on our way to the place where Sam needed to go to be a maester," she tells Dany.

"The Citadel," Sam tells her quietly.

Dany and Missandei see the loathing look on Gilly's as she remembers the mean lord.

Sam clears his throat again and purple and brown eyes look back to him.

"I'm not mournful over his death, Your Grace," he says honestly.

But a thought occurs to him and he hesitantly asks, "Was Dickon with him?"

The disgusted look changes to sympathy as she nods her head.

"He too chose death over submission," she says quietly.

He breathes deeply through his nose at that. That one hurts. No matter what his father thought, Dickon was always good to Sam and Sam to him. He loved Dickon his whole life and knew he'd make a better ruler of Hornhill.

His baby brother, always following their father in hopes to be like him.

Even to death, Sam thinks sadly.

"Are my mother and sister alive?," he asks pained. Please, not his lady mother. Not sweet Talla.

"To my knowledge, yes. Or if they are not, it was not under my command. I did not meet the Lannister and Tarly forces at Hornhill and I have left it alone," she says.

He can't stop the whoosh of air out of his lungs in relief. He nods his head in gratitude at that.

"Thank you, Your Grace," he says fervently.

She tilts her head and looks at Sam a moment with those unsettling violet eyes before saying, "I did not come to Westeros to slaughter and ascend to the Iron Throne on the corpses of the people, Samwell Tarly. I came here to create a new world. Just as I did in Essos. A world where the common folk and people like your Gilly can find a place here and prosper just as much as lords and royalty. And now I am here to save it, as you said earlier."

Sam and Gilly sit there stunned at this queen's words. Sam recalls how he'd told maester Aemon she sounded like quite a woman back then and he stands by his observation.

Suddenly, the dragons' cries echo through the air. They all look to the window and see them flying around each other off in the distance.

The sight of only the two of them makes her throat tighten. She feels Missandei give her hand a sympathetic squeeze to which she gratefully returns. She looks at her friend and gives a sad smile.

"They miss him," she whispers, momentarily forgetting the other two across from them. Missandei nods in agreement as her brown eyes watch the dragons again. They begin circling closer to each other only to drift away before they meet once more. It's a tragic beauty with the grey sky behind them. A lonely dance that reminds her of the ones the water cranes would do with their mates.

Gilly looks at the queen a moment and sees the grief in her beautiful purple eyes that is locked away with the next blink.

"They're quite extraordinary," she says quietly as she gives little Sam a small wooden toy to play with. Sam nods in agreement as he continues to gaze at the creatures with wide eyes. He'd love to hear of how they came to be... what their intelligence is like...

The queen gives a small smile in response and watches the child in her lap with a wistful look.

"They're brothers," the queen says quietly in reply after a moment.

Gilly's brow knits in confusion as she remembers what Sam just said about dragons.

Looking up and seeing her confusion, Dany explains, "I simply call them that because they came into the world together. Samwell is correct in that they are technically an it. They change their sex accordingly."

"So...they could breed?," Gilly asks curiously as her eyes go back to watching the fascinating creatures.

When she turns back to the queen, she sees a hopeful light in her eye as she nods and says, "They could indeed."

When little Sam points to the dragons, her purple eyes go back to him and the wistful look returns.

"He's a beautiful boy," she tells Gilly kindly.

"Thank you, Your Grace," she says softly.

As Sam watches the dragons, he suddenly remembers something else maester Aemon told him.

"He told me how he dreamed of dragons. Maester Aemon, that is," he says quietly as he turns back to the queen.

She gasps lightly and takes her eyes off little Sam to look at him with curiosity.

"Did he tell you what they were about?," she asks just as softly.

He nods and says, "He said he saw a red star in the sky. He saw...," he swallows as his eyes flick to the window before looking back to her.

"He saw their shadows on the snow, heard the crack of leathern wings and felt their hot breath. He said his brothers dreamt of dragons too and the dreams killed them."

She swallows hard. He'd had prophetic dreams... Dreams of her dragons coming north.

Again, sadness winds its way through her and her heart constricts at the knowledge of just how much she could have learned from him. If only she'd left earlier...

But, she can't change it now. He's gone and the only connection she has to him is sitting in front of her.

"Perhaps you could tell me more about him some time?," she asks.

He nods quickly. "I'd be honored, Your Grace," he says before looking back out the window. "I would love to hear more about your dragons and Essos," he says without thinking before he realizes he spoke the words out loud. He looks at her with wide eyes and begins to stammer, "I'm sorry. I didn't...I don't mean that... I don't expect you to... to tell me things. I'd be happy to tell you more about maester Aemon."

She gives a light smile at the man. "It's quite alright," she tells him.

"Your Grace," a voice says.

They turn to find Ser Jorah standing there waiting.

When Jorah sees Sam, he gives him a surprised look before he smiles and bows his head in greeting.

"Ser Jorah," he says, dipping his head in return as he smiles at the older knight.

Seeing the interaction, Daenerys gives Jorah a questioning look.

"Samwell here is the one who cured me, Your Grace," he tells her.

Her eyebrows raise at that and she turns back to Sam.

"It appears I owe you a debt of gratitude, Samwell Tarly, for the knowledge you shared as well as returning my trusted advisor to me," she says kindly.

"Oh... I was simply doing my service, Your Grace," he says sheepishly.

Her brow lifts in response and she looks him over again, tilting her head as her eyes snap back to his.

"It was a pleasure," she says demurely as she gets up. She then turns to leave, with the others following behind her.

When the queen and her advisors are gone, Gilly looks at Sam thoughtfully.

"She's quite intimidating," she says. He nods in agreement with. She's very intimidating to him. He could feel the power coming off her. The unsettling way she'd look at a person as though she can skin their soul from their body with just a glance and judge it right there in front of them.

"She seemed so sad that she didn't get to meet maester Aemon," she murmurs, looking at Sam.

"He was her last living relative," he says. Except for Jon.

"Oh," Gilly says, looking at little Sam before returning her eyes to him after a while.

"I like her," she decides.

Sam cracks at grin at her in amusement.

"She's interesting," he says.

Perhaps her learning who Jon is won't be as bad as he imagined. But that hope is quickly snuffed out when he thinks how it'll all depend on how Jon takes it.

He sighs at that.

Their lives were never easy, were they?

Chapter Text

Once everyone is ready for the welcoming feast, Jon goes to find Daenerys to escort her in.

He spots her and her advisors walking out of the guest quarters and decides to wait for them to make their way over.

It also gives him the opportunity to take her in without too much notice.

She wears a black cloak instead of her usual white one. Her hair is only half up with long ringlets hanging around her face and down her back. When she sees him, her purple eyes light up and she walks right to him.

"My lord," she says quietly once she reaches him. Even though her face remains calm, he can see the way her eyes dance.

"Your Grace," he says dipping his head while maintaining eye contact with her. "I'm here to escort you into the Great Hall. But I need to discuss some news I’ve learned.”

She turns to her advisors and nods, telling them to continue ahead. He notices Tyrion giving her a warning look before he walks past with the others.

Once they're alone, he steps up to her and asks quietly, "Is everything to your liking?"

She smiles up at him and nods. "It's very nice. Thank you."

"Good," he replies as he looks around the courtyard before leading her closer to the Great Hall. When they come to a spot under the wooden stairs where father always watched them when they were young, he’s certain they can't be seen by prying eyes, he takes her gloved hand and presses the back of it against his lips as he looks at her. The softness in her eyes gives him the courage to pull her closer until she's flush against him.

"I don't think this is wise," she murmurs as her gaze roams his face. But he doesn’t notice as his own gaze is locked onto her lips, completely entranced in the way they formed words.

He rips his eyes away from her lips and looks around once more just to make sure they’re alone. Still seeing nothing, he spins her around so that his body blocks her should anyone happen to look this way. Although, he knows for a fact they won't because Theon would always brag about the countless times he lead one of the scullery maids to the secluded nook and never got caught. 

"No one looks here," he whispers as he leans closer to her.

"Oh," she responds just as quietly as a smirk crosses her lovely face, "I suppose you would know better than I."

He hums as his eyes lock on to how she wets her lips ever so slightly. That's all the encouragement he needs to press his lips to hers. Ever since watching her and Ghost, he can’t escape the overwhelming need to kiss her. She grips the front of his cloak to pull him closer as one of his hands cups her neck to tilt her head back more. His lips move against hers as his tongue darts out to taste her. As soon as he does, he’s lost in sensation. Gone are the restless thoughts in his head about everything he’s learned of his siblings and the threat of the Others. All he knows is the smell of her oils mixed with a faint hint of smoke, the feel of her lips, and the sound of her small, breathy moans she occasionally releases when he deepens the kiss even more.

Too soon, she pulls away and before he can press her against the wall to continue, she says breathlessly, "We're going to be late. If we don't hurry, they'll become suspicious as to why it's taking so long."

Coming back to his senses, he groans and steps back from her. He can feel his hunger rise as he takes in her flushed face. She quickly smooths her hair then those purple eyes cut to him. She bites her lip and his eyes flare in desire. Seeing his response, she releases the captive lip and gives a small shake of head, clearing her mind. After a deep breath, she straightens her shoulders and gives him a scrutinizing look.

"Control your face, my lord. Those eyes are ready to devour," she tells him quietly as she moves past him. Unfortunately, the scent of her hitting him straight on doesn't help him rein in his lust. Once she's a fair distance ahead of him, he regains his composure, walking quickly to catch up with her and offer his arm which she takes without hesitation.

“What did you want to discuss?,” she asks him.

“Littlefinger,” he replies.

“Ah, my advisors had noticed that Lord Baelish wasn’t among the greeting party,” she says conversationally.

“Aye. My sisters tried him for treason and murder,” he tells her.

Her head whips towards him and an intrigued expression crosses her face as she takes in this new information.

“My my... what fierce people you Starks are,” she says with a glint in her eye.

He can’t ignore the warm feeling that fills him over the small fact that she referred to him as a Stark. He pushes it aside though and nods. “Wolves through and through,” he tells her proudly. As if to emphasize his point, Ghost comes up to him. Daenerys grins widely at the direwolf and reaches across Jon to touch his face. Without any hesitation, Ghost meets her hand with his muzzle.

“Indeed,” she murmurs as she drops her hand and looks at Jon. He gives her a small, proud smile before petting Ghost himself.

“Are you going to inform the lords of your decision?,” she asks him quietly.

He gives a long sigh and looks at her.

“I think tomorrow would be better. It gives them time to adjust and it allows me to see who will be the most difficult to handle. I thought tonight could simply be a celebration. If that’s alright,” he tells her.

She purses her lips and doesn’t answer for a long time.

When he begins to worry, she nods.

“Alright,” she says quietly.

Once they reach the doors to the Great Hall, he hides away his emotions as his gaze drops to her dress that’s now revealed to him. It matches her black cloak but looks softer. Instead of her customary calf length dresses paired with her trousers and boots, this dress goes down to her ankles. Although it’s longer, it’s very form fitting, showing off her slim waist as the skirts flare out at her hips. He sees hints of red in it when she shifts her weight and he’s acutely reminded of Drogon’s scales. Her silver dragon broach sits right above her breast, drawing the eye to her chest. When he sees how the dress dips down to the hollow of her throat and reveals her entire neck with her collarbone peeking out, he has to take a steadying breath. It’s not much skin, but it’s more than she’s shown before.

When she turns to him, her eyes meet his and he watches as the softness in her gaze turns into one of cordiality. Knowing they're both ready, he offers his arm, ignoring the heat of her hand, he signals to the guards to open the doors.

As they walk in, the hall goes silent as everyone stares at the two of them. Daenerys keeps her head held high, but the slightly hostile stares he sees make him stare right back until the lords drop their eyes in submission. When they reach their seats, he pulls out her chair and allows her to sit before he takes his place beside her.

But before he sits, he looks out across those gathered.

“My lords and ladies, I want to first thank you for your patience while I have been away. As you saw, I did not come back empty handed. We have enough dragonglass to provide ample weapons for us,” he tells them. The lords all raise their cups in response and cheer him. When they settle, he continues.

“We also not only have Queen Daenerys’s forces and her dragons but also those of Cersei Lannister. After seeing one of the dead, she has agreed to send her forces to aid us.” At this, the lords look at him shocked before again cheering him.

“So, let us take the evening celebrate this alliance and the fact that we now have a strong chance of surviving this war,” he tells them and Sansa gestures to the servants to bring out the food.

The lords begin to talk quietly amongst themselves, but once the wine and ale begin flowing, they become merrier. He sits and talks to Daenerys and the others, feeling good about the feeling in the hall.

After the feast, he walks Daenerys back to her quarters and goes in search of Bran to see what he wanted to talk to him about. But, upon entering the solar, he finds his sisters there as well.

“What did you want to talk to me about, Bran?,” he asks.

“I’m afraid that will have to wait, Jon,” he tells him calmly.

“Why, what’s wrong?,” Jon asks, immediately tensing as he looks between them all.

"Riders are approaching Winterfell," Bran says to them.

"Who?," Jon asks.

"The Young Lion, Jaime Lannister," he responds.

They all exchange a confused look.

"That was quick. How'd they get their banners together in such short time?," Jon asks.

"He had no bannermen with him. He rides without any flags," Bran says.

"How many are with him?," Jon asks.

"Twelve," he tells them.

"So none are in Lannister armor?," Sansa asks incredulously. Remembering everything Cersei had “taught” her during her time in King’s Lamding, as well as Littlefinger, she can’t see any purpose for this move.

"Only half," Bran tells her. Her brow furrows even more at that.

"It appears the two groups met somewhere along the way," he says looking straight at Arya.

Her eyebrow lifts as she realizes he's bringing the Lannister soldiers she met.

She hums thoughtfully as a smirk appears. Oh, how surprised they'll be to meet her again.

"What?," Jon asks suspiciously.

"I may have met a group of Lannister soldiers on the way here," she shrugs.

"What did you do?," he asks as his eyes narrow even more.

She raises her hands and says casually, "They offered me drink and then I left. I did nothing to them. I swear it to the old gods and the new."

He watches her a moment before nodding in acceptance.

"Why were they so far north?," Sansa asks.

Arya looks at her and says, "The soldiers were sent to the Twins. The Crown had not heard anything from the Freys."

"Ah," Sansa says, already having been told by Arya what happened there after they had dealt with Littlefinger.

When Jon's brow furrows, Arya realizes she didn't tell him that bit. Her lips bunch as she waits for the inevitable.

He looks between them before turning his eyes to Arya. "What aren't you telling me? What's going on with the Freys?"

Arya purses her lips and meets her brother's matching grey eyes a moment before calmly telling him, "Winter came for House Frey."

Jon gapes at her and looks to Sansa who remains unbothered. He turns his eyes back to her and asks, "Which ones?"

"All of them," she responds, keeping her face still.

Jon reels back slightly and looks at her as if he doesn't know who she is, sadness seeping into his eyes. It hurts more than she'd care to admit, but she's not sorry.

He swallows hard and pinches the bridge of his nose as he takes a deep breath.

“Is there anything else I need to know about?,” he asks a bit harshly.

“No,” Arya says as Sansa shakes her head.

He sighs and stands. “I need to go inform the queen and see if Lord Tyrion knows what’s going on.”

He leaves them and walks back to the guest quarters, stopping in front of the door to her rooms. After he knocks, the door opens to reveal Tyrion still in his dinner attire and Daenerys sitting at the table with parchments spread out over it.

“My lord?,” she asks as her eyes search his face for an answer as to what brought him to her.

"I've been informed that your brother will be arriving shortly," he says looking at Tyrion.

"That soon?," Daenerys asks surprised as her eyes bounce between the two men.

"Apparently it's only him and about a dozen others," he says turning his eyes to her.

Daenerys exchanges a confused glance with Tyrion and turns back to Jon.

"Is he riding ahead of the armies?," she asks. Before Jon can answer, Tyrion sighs.

"No," Tyrion says with an expression mixed between worried and grim, "he's Cersei's battle commander. If the armies of the Westerlands and Crown were marching, he'd be with them."

"What are you implying?," Daenerys asks, her voice hard now as her eyes narrow at her Hand.

Tyrion closes his eyes and sighs, rubbing his temples as if to fight off an impending headache. "It means they aren't coming," he says grimly.

They look at him as they process everything he just said and what that means.

"What?," she says, as if she didn’t hear him correctly.

“If I know my sister, and I’m quite sure I do,” he says looking back at her with a serious expression, “it would mean that something has happened.”

“Then why is he coming?,” she demands, her voice like the crack of a whip.

"That's something you'll have to ask when he arrives," he tells her with a shrug, seemingly unbothered by the harshness of her tone.

"When will they be here?," she asks Jon.

"Within the next few days," he tells her.

“Are you sure that’s what this means? She really isn’t sending aid?,” she asks Tyrion with a slightly disgusted look. How could she be that selfish?

He grabs a cup of wine and drinks it before turning back to her.

“It was naïve of me to believe her, but I thought she would see the importance of joining forces,” he says resigned, slouching into his chair.

“So we’re alone?,” she asks as the gravity of it all comes crashing down.

“I believe we are,” he says grimly as he looks at her.

She looks up and covers her eyes with her hand to hide the pain she feels as her heart constricts. She takes a shaky breath and says, “Viserion cannot have died for nothing.”

Hearing the way her voice wobbles, neither of the men answer as they both look down in sadness and shame.

She suddenly snaps to Tyrion and the absolute wrath he sees in her eyes makes him flinch slightly.

“She dies. With fire and blood. I will make no exceptions for this. I won’t burn the city, but I will burn her,” she hisses.

He swallows hard and says, “She’s apparently with child.”

She and Jon gape at him for a moment.

“Seven hells,” Jon murmurs. A look of shock and a tinge of disgust cross his face before he drags his hand down it.

Daenerys’s jaw works back and forth as she realizes that she now has no way of dispensing the vengeance she desires.

She takes a deep breath and pinches the bridge of her nose as she thinks. "If this is true, will any of the Riverlands houses come to your aid if you sent word?," she asks Jon, not letting go of her nose.

"House Blackwood should. Lord Tytos only surrendered because he was forced to once Riverrun was taken. The crannogmen might as well," Jon tells her as he watches her closely.

"What of House Tully?," she asks, finally lifting her head to look at him.

He hesitates a moment before answering.

"He may.... I’m not sure where his allegiance lies right now since he was granted Riverrun again. But I believe he would since he let the Blackfish escape before surrendering during the siege" he says slowly as he watches her.

"What if Lady Sansa sent word?," Tyrion asks.

"That could be possible," he concedes, quickly turning his attention to him.

"See if she can send word tonight," Daenerys tells him.

“Alright,” he says as he gets up and is out the door as quickly as he came.

When Jon leaves, she falls back into her chair and closes her eyes.

"Did I ever tell you that I once dreamt of meeting you.... But you mistook me for my brother and fed me to your dragons," he tells her as he stares into his wine goblet thoughtfully.

"I assume you have a point?," she asks him.

"That you should hear what he has to say before making any judgement," he says raising his eyes to meet hers.

“Are you advising this as my Hand or as his brother?,” she asks with a serious expression.

He purses his lips in thought before shrugging. “Perhaps a little of both. But I know he would not leave Cersei for anything of little importance. If he is risking the wrath of the North and you, it’s because he believes he must. He’s not been the most noble of knights,” he says. Her brow raises and she gives him a look that clearly says he’s being much too lenient. “But he’s loyal and he can fight. He was under the command of our father for years. He knows how to lead and strategize. It could prove useful. That and he’ll know all the strengths and weaknesses of those fighting for my sweet sister,” he finishes. She purses her lips in thought for a moment before answering.

"And if I listen and still decide he is not fit to live? Will you turn against me?," she asks as her amethyst eyes study him intently.

He swallows hard as he thinks on that. He knew that joining her would mean going against his family. Against Jaime. But, it's still hard to accept when actually faced with it, even on the field of battle. He remembers watching his brother ride straight towards a dragon, wishing he'd turn away and run so he could live.

He takes a deep breath and shakes his head. "No. I knew this would happen," he says quietly as he stares into her purple eyes.

She searches for the the truth in his own mismatched ones for a long moment before sighing and nodding in return.

"I will take your council under advisement and listen to everything he has to say before making my decision," she tells him as she keeps eye contact with him.

"That's all I ask, Your Grace," he tells her honestly.

She raises an eyebrow at him and stands. "Good night, my lord. I have some things to do before I check on my children.”

A flicker of sympathy shines his eyes as he nods.

“Take some guards,” he tells her as he gets up to settle in for the night.
——————

After Jon sends summons to all the houses he and Sansa could think of that would respond, he walks along the ramparts trying to calm his restless thoughts. As he stares out at the wolfswood, he catches a flicker of silver walking towards the trees. A moment later Daenerys pulls her black hood over her head, becoming one with the darkness as she ventures deeper into the forest. He looks down and sees her Unsullied remain in position just beneath him, he runs down the steps and follows her out, nodding at the Northern guards as he passes.

When he gets to the edge of the forest, he sees Ghost emerge from the trees and make his way towards Jon.

"Which way did she go?," he asks his direwolf as he pets his neck.

His silent wolf turns his head and begins walking, following the trail of her scent.

They come to a large clearing deep in the woods and find her with the two dragons. Ever since Viserion, she has always gone to see them before she sleeps. To reassure herself they are still with her and give them the affection she feels she should have shown her fallen child more.

He stands at the edge and after a while, lets Ghost go hunt. As he waits, the winds shift and the dragons suddenly turn towards him and begin chirping. Their attention alerts Daenerys and she spins around while simultaneously stepping back towards her dragons. When she sees it's only him, her stance relaxes and she smiles at him. Turning to murmur to her dragons one more time, she leaves them and begins making her way to him.

He smiles softly at her when she's in front of him.

"I didn't realize I was being followed. Perhaps I do need more guards. There are too many scoundrels hiding in the shadows," she says lightly.

His smile turns into a smirk at her words and he wraps an arm around her lower back to pull her closer to him.

"I'm a scoundrel now?," he asks quietly as he watches the way her eyes dance whenever she feels like teasing.

"Yes. The worst kind," she replies as she places her hands on his chest.

"What kind would that be?," he asks, his other arm going around her.

"The deceivingly handsome kind," she says as her arms slip around his neck while her face inches closer.

He doesn't respond, instead crashing his lips into hers. When his tongue meets hers, he tastes mulled wine and herbs and he finds himself wanting more. He moves a hand up her spine to grip her hair, giving it a light tug to force her head to tilt back more and allow him better access to her mouth. She lets out a soft moan and the noise goes straight to his crotch. At least if he dies in the upcoming war, he’ll die with the taste of her on his lips.

The thought spurs him to kiss her harder and she responds by threading her fingers through the loose curls at the nape of his neck. He pulls her hips tight against his in an attempt to ease the burning ache he feels. She doesn’t seem to mind, rolling her hips against him in such a way, a small whimper escapes him, but it’s swallowed by her hungry mouth. 

His lips leave hers as they travel down her jaw to latch onto her neck while his hands go lower to her rear, kneading the soft flesh.

“It’s a shame you have to stay in the guest quarters,” he murmurs against her neck, the hair of his beard scratching the soft skin.

“Well...,” she says as she pulls away and makes an obvious gesture of looking around, “there’s no one here.” She looks back at him with a mischievous glint in her eye as she flashes him a suggestive smile.

He stares at her in silence for a moment, too shocked at her brazenness before he too looks around.

“That... I... it’s freezing, Daenerys,” he stammers, not knowing what else to say.

Her brow raises as she takes him in.

“I thought you Northerners were hardy folk,” she challenges.

“What does that have to do with anything?,” he asks bewildered.

“You lived beyond the Wall, I’m just surprised you find this cold,” she tells him with a mocking glint in her eye.

“Yes, but-,” he says before she cuts him off.

“Weren’t there ways to keep yourselves warm?,” she asks with a faux innocence.

“But it wasn’t in the damn snow, Daenerys! It was in their tents,” he tells her as if that should be obvious.

She shrugs casually, her fingers tracing patterns on him that he can feel even through all of his layers, before asking, “Do you feel cold now?”

“Well...no...,” he admits slowly.

“Then what’s wrong?,” she asks curiously.

His eyes widen at the question. What’s wrong? What’s wrong is that she’s a queen and deserves to be treated like one. Not like some Mole’s Town whore.

“I’m not taking you against a tree!,” he says affronted, even though the idea obviously excites his lower body and his cheeks redden slightly. She looks at him silently in thought before she replies.

“Did you know the Dothraki believe that all things of importance in a man’s life should be done beneath the open sky?,” she asks softly as her face tilts to the clouded sky above them, her eyes flitting across the darkness as if in search for something. A small, gentle smile lifts the corners of her mouth when those purple gems come back to him.

He swallows and stares at her as he puts together what she’s saying. He releases a breath and rests his forehead against hers.

“And you’re saying... what? That this is something important to you?,” he asks in a whisper.

She reaches up and rests her hand against his cheek. “Yes,” she whispers back, “you are.”

His throat burns at her sudden admission. Never has anyone told him that he’s important to them personally. Ygritte always told him she was his but she was more brash with her words. He knows he was important to her, otherwise she would never have pursued him. She would have killed him with those arrows instead of piercing him in nonfatal areas. But to have it actually said is something completely different.

He closes his eyes as her request flashes through his mind with images of him taking her slowly. He never thought of the appeal of such an act until now and he suddenly has to have her.

His eyes open to find her staring at him and before she can say anything, his mouth attacks hers as he hoists her up. Her legs try their best to wrestle out of the heavy confines of her long skirts in order to wrap around his waist. He quickly pins her against the nearest tree and blindly helps her get the fabric up around her hips.

Her tongue dives into his mouth and twines around his own as her hands go to his hair, pulling the curls out of the confines of the leather strap. His own hand moves under the skirts and reaches between them in search of her center. Thankfully, she’s not wearing long leggings and his fingers are able to push aside her small clothes without problem. With her legs open already, he feels how wet she and he easily slides a finger inside her warm depths. It’s now her turn to whimper into his mouth as he begins to slowly pump his finger in and out of her. When she gets even wetter, he adds another finger, carefully exploring which movements make her moan and mewl.

She pulls her mouth from his, tilting her head back against the bark. He takes the opportunity to suck on her exposed throat and chest. Licking and nipping everywhere he can as he presses his thumb against her sensitive bud. She lets out a choked cry and says, “Jon” before he presses down harder, causing her to squeal.

The noise isn’t one he’s heard from her and he begins circling his thumb as his fingers quicken their pace, making her start to ride his hand. He pulls back to watch her and the sight before him fills him with male pride.

Her eyes are closed and her mouth hangs slightly open as a symphony of noises escape her. Her face is flushed to a lovely pink and he sees the darker marks along her neck. His fingers become drenched in her juices. As she’s completely lost to the sensation of his fingers, his other hand begins unlacing his trousers to free himself. When her walls start to tighten around him, her eyes open and crash into his. They’re completely glazed over, dark with lust and need.

Right when she’s about to drop into the abyss of pleasure he’s been leading her up to, he removes his fingers from her. A desperate whimper escapes her as her eyes look up at him in confusion.

Before she can demand him to finish her, he lines himself up and sheathes his length completely inside her. She shudders and moans at the fullness and wraps her arms tightly around his neck and shoulders as he starts to thrust into her.

She feels like absolute bliss to him as he continues a steady rhythm and he decides the Dothraki are right as he looks at how the soft snow sprinkles her face. He wishes it was warm enough to lay her out on the ground beneath him but doesn’t complain.

His fingers dig into her hips when her walls flutter around him. He pushes up as far as possible to hit a spot deep inside to help finally bring her over. When he latches on to her neck and bites down on the milky skin, she lets out a loud moan.

Her release sets him over the edge and he quickens his pace. After several more thrusts, he releases into her with a loud moan of his own and rests his head on her collarbone.

Once he comes back down from the height of his pleasure, he catches his breath and meets her eyes. They droop in a sated expression as her body relaxes and she smiles softly at him.

“I think the Dothraki have the right of it,” he tells her after a moment.

She lets out a tired laugh and leans forward to kiss him again. After a moment, he slowly untangles himself from her and sets her down on her feet before he pulls his trousers back up. He then grabs the leather for his hair and ties the curly locks back as looks her over. He can’t help but snort in amusement and slight pride.

Her hair is in complete disarray, her lips are swollen and red, and he can still see the tiny marks he made on her neck. All in all, it’s extremely obvious what they were doing. It’s a satisfying image as a man, but not as an ally.

She runs her fingers through her silver hair in an attempt to smooth it out. When she realizes that won’t work, she pulls it all over one shoulder and does a simple braid. He reaches out and adjusts her cloak so that her neck is covered better and gives her an apologetic look.

“Do I look presentable?,” she asks teasingly.

“I think you’ll be fine to walk to your quarters without any suspicion,” he tells her.

“Shall we head back then?,” she asks as she hides a yawn.

“Of course,” he replies softly then he wraps an arm around her and leads her back. Right before they exit the woods, he removes his arm from her waist and instead offers it to her in a more dignified way. She sets her hand in the crook of his elbow and steps away so that they aren’t standing next to each other in such close proximity that alerts others of the intimacy between them. When they become visible, her Unsullied come up to them and follow silently behind. As they walk past the Winterfell guards, they bow slightly in respect as their eyes go between them and the sky above the woods, obviously in search of the dragons.

He stops in front of the guest quarters and bows to her. “Good night, Your Grace,” he says quietly.

“Good night,” she says just as softly.

He waits until she’s inside to head to his own rooms. He quickly takes everything off and puts on a night shirt. Once he’s finished with his nightly routines, he climbs into his bed, falling asleep with the memory and smell of her.

———————

"We need more men," she says the following day as she looks at the map.

Looking at Tyrion, she asks, "Is there not anyone who would raise their banners for House Targaryen? What about Crackclaw Point?"

"Ah, what a coincidence," Varys says as he enters the room.

"My lord?," Dany asks.

He holds almost a dozen parchments in his hand and gives them to her.

"I may have written several known Targaryen supporters when we left for King's Landing and informed them of the situation with the North. In case the parley didn't bear the results we needed. And I may or may not have sent word to gather immediately before we left King's Landing. Then sent your destination before we left Dragonstone. Should they choose to join us," he says vaguely.

"When were you going to tell us this, Lord Varys?," she asks.

"Your Grace, I did not want to give false hope in case they were unable to make it in time," he says.

"Why have they not answered my calls before now?," she asks sternly.

"The Stormlands and Crownlands have been under Cersei's thumb and she has been dealing heavy punishments to any who disobey. But in light of the threat of the dead and the truce, they did as I suggested and began traveling immediately," Varys tells her.

Tyrion gives him a mischievous smirk while Dany beams at him.

"My lord Varys, you are an invaluable man," she tells him.

He lifts his chin at the compliment before he bows his head.

"Who responded?," Tyrion asks Varys as he tries to see the seals.

Dany gives him a look and simply hands him the parchments.

"All the houses I sent word to have answered your call, Your Grace," Varys says.

"Velaryon, Celtigar, Brune, Buckwell, Bar Emmon...," Tyrion murmurs.

Dany nods in approval, pleased that her assumption of the Crackclaw houses’ loyalty was correct.

"Hasty of Harrenhal," Tyrion says as he raises his eyebrows.

"I thought Baelish was lord of Harrenhal," Dany says as her eyebrows draw together.

"He was," Varys confirms. "But he named Ser Bonifer Hasty as castellan. He will be bringing his Holy Hundred."

"Ryger, Goodbrook, and Mooton from the Riverlands," Tyrion murmurs before looking to Varys.

“That’s surprising about Mooton. He’s a known coward,” he muses.

“Well, he’s sending men. I don’t believe he himself is coming,” Varys replies dryly.

Tyrion snorts. “Typical. What about the Stormlands?," he asks.

"Some of the Stormlands houses have been spotted on the move North under a white flag as they begin passing through the Crownlands," Varys says as he pulls another set of parchments from one of his hidden pockets and hands it to Dany.

Her eyes go wide as she looks at the parchment.

"Grandison, Morrigen, Penrose, Mertyns, Wylde, Caron, Fell, Cafferen, and Selmy," she whispers. Her eyes turn sad for a moment as she remembers her old advisor.

She looks to Tyrion sharply. "Will your sister hold them back?," she asks.

Before he can answer, Varys clears his throat and the two turn towards him.

"I may have warned them ahead of time of the possibility of Cersei stopping them. So those who must travel by land are going through the countryside while others are taking ships since the Greyjoy fleet is no longer loitering in the capital. To be safe," he tells her.

"Is there news from any of the Dornish or Reach houses? Have they bent to Cersei?," she asks as she rubs her forehead.

"Oh, no, Your Grace. Apparently, the houses from Dorne began assembling when they heard that the Sands fell. They've been on the move since before we left for King's Landing," Varys tells her.

Her eyes go wide at the news and she looks to Tyrion who shares her shock.

"How have we not heard of this?," she asks Varys.

"They're mostly made up of smaller houses who would not withstand the might of the Crown. So they have been sailing along the coast, keeping to the deeper waters to avoid Euron's fleet," he tells her.

"Who is coming?," Tyrion asks.

"Houses Dayne, Allyrion, Fowler, Gargalen, Santagar, Manwoody, and Toland," Varys replies.

"Please tell me these armies will be bringing their own food stuffs," Tyrion says.

Varys scoffs at him, slightly insulted. "Of course I told them that. It's the North in Winter," Varys chastises him.

"And the Reach?," Dany asks as she tries to contain the hope in her chest.

"Oakheart, Hightower, Caswell, Ashford, Serry, Beesbury, Rowan, and Crane," Varys says.

"Makes sense...," Tyrion's muses.

"What does?," Dany asks.

Looking at her, he says, "Many of them are currently under the control of Euron's forces and want them gone. Others refuse to acknowledge Cersei as queen since the former Queen Margery was... eliminated."

"Ah," Daenerys says as she nods. "Well, freeing them from the hold of Euron can certainly be arranged," she replies sweetly.

Tyrion gives her a conspiratorial smirk. "I agree."

Varys clears his throat again and says, "I wouldn't expect too many of them. They refuse to leave their lands completely unattended. But they too are on the move."

She sighs and nods in understanding. "I understand. Any men is better than none."

She collects the parchments and puts them in her pocket.

Looking at her advisors, she gives a small smile and says, "Well done, my lords. I will go inform Lord Jon.”
--------

Once he finished his most important work for the day, he decides to find Sam and use the opportunity to talk to his old friend. So, they go to his solar and have some mulled wine brought, just like they would always do at Wall when they’d need to warm themselves up.

“Jon, what happened after I left?,” Sam asks hesitantly.

Jon looks at his friend for a long moment before asking, “You heard about Hardhome?”

At Sam’s nod, he looks down at Ghost and says, “Thorne and several others weren’t happy about the wildlings coming through. Even though Edd was at Hardhome with me and saw the Night King himself. They refused to look past their prejudices.”

He looks Sam in the eye.

“And they lured me outside where labeled me as a traitor and stabbed me,” he tells him.

The absolute horror and anger on Sam’s face is something Jon has never seen on his friend.

“How did you survive?,” he asks quietly.

“I didn’t, Sam,” he whispers as the memory returns.

Again, he watches as his friend’s fist clenches and his eyes become shiny.

“The red priestess brought me back. And after I hung them as traitors, I left,” he says as his eyes go to the fire. “My watch had ended,” he murmurs sadly.

“I’m so sorry I wasn’t there, Jon,” Sam says. He looks up and sees the guilt in his friend’s light eyes.

“Sam, it’s not your fault,” he tells him gently.

“But if I had been there,” Sam tries to say but Jon cuts him off.

“If you’d been there, you may have been as dead as me. I’m here now, Sam,” he reassures his dearest friend.

Sam looks away to collect himself and finally nods.

“You are,” he says to himself as his eyes meet Jon’s. “You’re here to help save us. You and the queen.”

Jon can’t help but snort at that. “Sam, the queen is here to save us,” he says.

“But if you hadn’t come back, you couldn’t have gone to her and shown her what’s coming for us. We’d all be dead if it wasn’t for you,” Sam tells him fervently.

Jon smirks at him and shrugs. “Perhaps,” he says quietly.

“I spoke to the queen,” Sam says after a moment.

Jon looks to him and raises his brow in bemusement. “Oh?,” he asks lightly.

“We talked about Maester Aemon,” Sam tells him quietly.

A sadness enters Jon’s heart as well as a twinge or guilt at realizing he’d never actually told her about her late uncle.

“What did you tell her?,” he asks softly.

“Everything I could remember that he told me of her,” Sam says with a shrug.

“I’m sure she enjoyed that,” he replies, thankful for his friend and his astounding memory.

“She did. It’s such a shame he never got to meet her. He would have liked her,” Sam says as he looks down a moment.

“He would have loved her. And she him. They would have been quite the force,” he says fondly as Sam nods in agreement.

“She also told me what happened to my father,” Sam says as his eyes meet Jon’s again.

“She did?,” he asks slightly surprised.

Sam nods and looks thoughtful. “I was surprised too. But I appreciated the gesture even though it was grim news. I just wish Dickon hadn’t followed him,” he says sadly.

“I’m sorry, Sam,” he says quietly.

“I can’t change it now,” Sam sighs as he takes another drink of his wine.

“But, at least I didn’t lose two brothers,” he tells Jon.

Jon smiles fondly at that and raises his cup. “Aye, and I got mine back too.”

Sam smiles and does the same before they drink more.

”What about you, Sam?,” he asks after a moment. 

“They wouldn’t believe me at the Citadel,” Sam says as he shakes his head. 

“When they refused to do anything about a letter Bran sent out, I knew I had to leave,” he continues with a shrug  “What Good was I there when I’m needed here? You know I can’t fight but I can do plenty of other things,” he says as his eyes search Jon’s as if hoping he’ll agree and not turn him away. 

“You’re always needed, Sam,” he tells his friend as he smiles.

————-

As she walks through the halls in search of Jon, she runs into Lady Sansa. The young woman's deep blue eyes widen in surprise as she takes in Daenerys and Jorah.

"Ah, Lady Sansa," she says to the lovely red head.

"Your Grace," she replies with a bow of her head.

"Have you seen...King Jon? I have pressing matters I must discuss with him," she says.

"He's returned to his solar," she says as she leads Daenerys.

When they arrive, they find Jon sitting with Samwell Tarly. Upon seeing the women, they both stand.

"What's wrong?," Jon asks as his eyes bounce between the two women.

Sansa raises her brow and turns to look at Daenerys, who gives Jon a smug smile and momentarily forgets the others.

"Nothing is wrong. In fact, I have very good news," she says pleased.

His brow raises in curiosity as a small smile tugs at the corners of his mouth. "Oh? And what is this good news, my queen?," he asks.

Sansa watches the exchange with hesitant interest. The casual way Jon calls her "my queen" alarms her. But she's curious as to what this good news is and decides to examine that information later.

Daenerys tries to fight the grin on her lips as she sits back in her chair, drawing out the suspense.

"Did you know that Cersei was keeping an exceedingly tight noose around many of the houses that were known Targaryen supporters since I have landed?," she asks pleasantly.

"I didn't," he says as his brow raises more.

Sansa looks at the queen and already putting everything together, hope begins to blossom in her chest.

Daenerys hums and continues, "Well apparently the truce, however false on her side, allowed said houses just enough time to move how they wished."

Jon stares at her as a true smile begins to form and asks, "And?"

"I have it on very good authority that right now, there are over twenty houses heading North to answer the call of their queen," she says as she beams proudly at him.

His jaw drops as he looks at her stunned. "What? How?"

Sansa gasps as well and can't help but stare at the queen. Sam looks hopeful as his eyes dart between the queen and Jon.

"Lord Varys was very busy on our way to King's Landing it seems," she says as she pulls the parchments out of her pocket and hands them to Jon.

He takes them and goes through them all before his eyes look back up at her in amazement.

"The farther houses will be here in a moon's time. While the others should be here in a little over a sennight. It seems they began marching as soon as we left in hopes of meeting us on the way North," she says.

He passes the parchment to Sansa and she gasps again when she sees that houses from Dorne are on their way.

"I thought your Dornish allies were gone," Jon says quietly.

"The smaller houses rallied together when they heard of the demise of the Sand Snakes and told no one of their plans," she replies.

He gives an impressed look as he goes through the parchments again.

"Will that be enough for the Northern
lords to show I am a true ally?," she asks casually.

Jon looks up and smirks wryly at her as he sets the letters down.

"If it's not, then they're fools," he tells her.

She lifts her chin and watches as his eyes turn to liquid silver. Remembering the others in the room, she quickly looks to Lady Sansa.

“Hopefully the lords you send word to will come to our aid,” she says, not missing the shrewd way the woman looks from Jon to her.

“I reminded my lord uncle Edmure the words of House Tully. Family, Duty, Honor. He should also have heard word of other houses marching north, so hopefully he will send at least a few men,” Sansa replies evenly.

“Your Grace,” Sam addresses her quietly. She turns to the man and nods her head for him to speak.

“I know House Tarly hasn’t shown the loyalty we used to have, but if I send word to my mother that should we defeat the dead and they help us with Cersei Lannister, will that be enough for them to see safety?,” he asks.

She gives the large Black brother a small smile.

“Of course it would,” she tells him softly. She’s begun to grow a fondness for him in the very short time she’s interacted with the man since he told her of her uncle Aemon. She can see the potential in him and the vast knowledge he’s able to retain will be useful.

His eyes look relieved and he nods in return.

Sansa looks through the Reach houses and sees a V of cranes.

“House Crane is coming?,” she asks surprised.

“Yes,” Daenerys says.

“I knew a Crane. Merry. She was with Queen Margaery,” Sansa says to no one in particular.

Sam hums in affirmation. “She’s my cousin,” he says quietly.

Jon sighs and leans back in his chair as his eyes go over the map of Westeros. His mind begins to work out how to move and where they’ll need to plan to fight, where the troops can go as they wait so that the camps don’t become a mud pit mixed with shit. The last thing they need is for men to become sick from those types of conditions. So lost in his thoughts and plans, he doesn’t realize that the others have stopped talking until a throat clears. His eyes snap up to the others and he brings his attention back to the present. He nods again and rubs his eyes before looking between Sansa and Daenerys.

“I think we need to tell the lords of what is going on so that they won’t immediately try to kill Jaime Lannister when he arrives. It means I’ll need to inform them I’ve bent the knee,” he says to his sister.

She lets out a small sigh and nods. “I’ll inform Arya. I believe she’s training with Lady Brienne and the Hound,” she tells him.

He looks to Daenerys and she gives him a determined nod, silently telling him that she will follow his lead.

He feels like he did when he was Lord Commander and about to tell his brothers that they were going to have to let the Wildlings through. He can’t help but glance at Sam who smiles slightly and the look in his eyes is one of encouragement and support.

“We will tell them tonight,” he says. Looking around at them, his eyes land on Daenerys and he takes solace in knowing that at least this time, he’ll have the support of more than the outcasted few.
————

"My lords," he says as the hall quiets.

"It has come to my attention that Cersei Lannister has possibly deceived us and has chosen not to send her armies to aid us,” he tells them grimly, causing the lords to gasp.

“How did you come about this, Your Grace?,” Lord Manderly asks.

“We’ve received word that Jaime Lannister rides to Winterfell under no banners with only a dozen men,” he tells him. He sees Lady Brienne straighten at the news with a look of surprise.

“But that doesn’t mean they’re not coming,” Rickard Ryswell says.

“Cersei Lannister refuses to see the threat against Westeros,” Bran says in a dull voice.

The greenseer’s words cause the lords to murmur nervously to each other. Some begin to give Tyrion accusing looks, as if he’s somehow responsible for his sister’s actions. The dwarf doesn’t back down from the glares and when Dany shifts closer to him, giving the lords a hard stare, they grudgingly back down.

“So, we’re on our own?,” Ser Gilwood Hunter asks after a moment, silencing the hall once again as all eyes turn to Jon.

"Actually," he says, “Queen Daenerys has just gotten word that we will receive support from the south. Her advisor summoned houses that remain loyal to House Targaryen to come North and fight for the people of Westeros alongside their queen.” The lords whisper quietly as they wait for him to continue.

“As of right now, there are more than twenty who have answered her call. They will begin arriving next week and continue until the next moon. Even Dorne has answered. Lady Sansa and I have also sent word to certain houses in the Riverlands,” he tells them firmly.

Murmurs fill the hall as the lords all look to Daenerys in shock.

Sansa watches silently as she prepares for the absolute upheaval that's about to come. She glances at Arya, finding her sister’s eyes already on her. The steady look in them shows she’s ready to defend Jon should she need to. She then looks to Lady Brienne and sees the knight give her a slight nod before she turns look to Podrick. The two take a discreet step and rest their hands on the hilt of their swords.

Suddenly, Lord Glover stands up and asks, "And what does she get in return?"

Jon takes a steadying breath and locks eyes with the man.

"I have bent the knee," he says.

Chaos erupts in the hall as the lords begin shouting and cursing, trying to talk over each other in their attempt to have their say. Some though sit calmly, as if knowing it would come to this.

Jon remains standing while Daenerys watches the anarchy taking place before her with a slightly furrowed brow. Seeing how right Lady Sansa was, she glances to Tyrion. Looking amongst the angry lords, he closes his eyes and gives a slight shake of his head. Her own guards begin to step forward and stare down the lords

When one has the audacity to shout obscenities at Jon, she gasps. Lady Arya stands up, her hand going to her sword, but Jon holds out his own hand to stop her. When another lord agrees, she sees red. Regardless of what they think of her, which is obviously very little, to assume they have the right to say such thingsp to the man they proclaimed king is something she will not sit idly and listen to. They have no idea what Jon has done for them. For the people of Westeros. He has sacrificed everything for them. He has died for them. And she will not allow this nonsense to go on any longer.

As Jon is about to say something to quiet them down, she mentally calls to Drogon and Rhaegal. When their shadows cover the hall, sending them all into total darkness, she stands up next to him. Drogon's cries are so loud, they rattle the foundation of the building. The lords immediately silence and look around in fright, some jumping up in fright while others stay sitting.

When Rhaegal joins in, the noise is deafening. Their combined screams vibrate through the air, causing the cutlery on the table to rattle. Everyone covers their ears in an attempt to block it out, but it's of no use. Moments later, she sends her children away.

"I would think again on how you address your liege and your allies," she says in a deadly tone, locking eyes with all of them.

"I am here because I have seen the army of the dead with my own eyes," she tells them. They look incredulously at each other before returning their eyes to her.

"And it is far more terrifying than even your worst possible nightmare can imagine," she says as her eyes penetrate them.

Jon clears his throat and their eyes shift to him. "More than one hundred thousand dead march on Westeros under the control of the White Walkers, collecting more soldiers as they go. If you don't believe me, ask Ser Jorah Mormont," he says and Jorah stands to give a silent nod. "Or Gendry Waters," gesturing to Gendry who also gives a grim nod. "Or Lady Brienne, or Ser Davos or Lord Tyrion," he lists.

"They've all seen them. Samwell Tarly has even killed one of the Walkers," his tone becomes hard and his eyes turn to steel before he continues.

"My lords, when we were discussing terms of a truce with Cersei Lannister, the only term she would consider in order for us to receive the help of her men was for the North to remain neutral. We stand on a narrow bridge with an abyss on each side. Pleasing one queen is difficult enough." His eyes flick to her and she sees the flicker of softness in them but it's gone too quickly for her to be sure she even saw it. Still, she stares back unamused but allows him to continue. "Pleasing two is impossible. I was given a choice and I chose the better queen. Now, if I had agreed to the terms and received the soldiers Cersei Lannister could provide, what do you think will happen if we win against the dead? The queens will go to war. Again, what would happen if Queen Daenerys lost?," he asks as he searches their faces.

When none answer he says, "I'll tell you. Cersei Lannister will want more from us and will come to reclaim the North as soon as she wins. We cannot go through another war where our chances of winning are none."

"Look around my lords," he says emphatically, gesturing to her company, "do you see any other houses that have taken our threat seriously and offered aid to us? No. Because they see us as ridiculous fools who have let the cold addle our brains. That we are prone to flights of fancy," he spits. The lords stiffen and sneer at the insult that is common amongst Southrons.

"Queen Daenerys is the only one who came. If we must fold back into the seven, wouldn't you rather do it in terms of peace rather than in terms of war and loss?," he asks them.

When he looks to Dany and she sees the slight dip of his chin, she takes the invitation to speak and turns to the men with a thoughtful look. "If I am truly not wanted here in Westeros, then I can take my armies and my dragons and return to the remaining warmth of Essos. Let you deal with the dead yourselves while the east simply deals with Winter," she suggests. When she sees the lords’ shoulders tense, her eyes narrow.

"Ah, so you don't want that. And there in lies the problem, my lords," she says as she trails her fingers along the raised table, "you want me to have my men and my dragons fight alongside you, taking the brunt of this war, yet you offer me nothing in return except hatred and mistrust." She pauses and glances at all of the lords who look at her with emotions ranging between mild skepticism to sudden awareness. She looks to her advisors and sees Tyrion watching her, he gives her a look that she takes as a warning to be careful. She looks to Jorah who gives her the same silent advice. She tilts her head and glances at Jon. His face remains still but his eyes watch her intensely before they return to the lords.

She hums and looks to the Northern lords. "Of course, one could argue the survival of all the people should be enough. So why should I make such demands of bringing the North under my rule? Demands you don't want to give a dragonspawn," she says. Now, some of them look away as she repeats the word a few of them hurled at her.

"Yet, the demand you make of me is to fight for you then run south with only your insults as gratitude. Which, to me, doesn’t sound fair either. So we appear to be at an impasse," she says, folding her hands in front of her.

"But let me tell you something, my lords. I may be a dragon, but I am not my father nor am I Rhaegar. I have not come to Westeros to burn your lands and take your sons and daughters from you. I will not sit on the throne built by the corpses of the people." She looks around and sees she's caught some of their attention.

"If you have been told that during my time in Essos, I ruined cities and crushed them into the dirt in my path of destruction to the Narrow Sea, then you heard wrong. While I did crush cities, it is because I crushed the oppression and the slavery that built their foundations and continued to hold them up. I freed my Unsullied in Astapor and they follow me. I freed Yunkai and Meereen and the Dothraki and they follow me. I have come here to create a new world. A world where the wheel made up of the spokes of great and noble houses doesn't keep rolling to crush each other in their climb to the top," she says as she folds her hands in front of her. Interest shines in a few of their eyes now and the outright hostility is gone from all their expressions, though the skepticism and distrust remain.

"I understand that the North is tired of playing the game of thrones. You are tired of losing your sons and brothers. Your uncles and your fathers. Even your mothers and daughters. Your whole families. And for what? For the crown to ignore you unless they demand your soldiers?," she asks.

"So, what are you asking of us?," Lord Royce questions.

She looks at him and says, "I am asking you to give me a chance, Lord Royce. Your liege did not bend through the use of any force or threat on my part. In fact, he refused vehemently for a long time. But, I apparently proved myself to him and he felt it right. Should we win this war against the dead, I will leave and go south. I will listen to Lady Sansa’s advice and not force your houses to send more of your men to fight for me. If you wish to support me, I will gladly accept. But know this, I plan to win. And when I do, there will be peace from the crown."

Daenerys begins walking back to the head table. Once there, she turns to them again.

"The choice is yours, my lords. But realize it is not only the North who remembers."

Then she sits down and looks to her advisors. Pride shines in all their eyes and Jorah gives her a nod. Tyrion just raises an eyebrow and gives her a half smirk before he takes a drink of his wine.

She turns to the other side and finds Jon looking at her in fascination mixed with a heat she's come to know well. Davos gives her an impressed look. Lady Sansa stares at her shocked and Lady Arya studies her with a raised eyebrow. Lord Bran gives her an empty smile and a nod.

Jon turns back to the lords and raises his brow at them. "I’ve heard it said that a fair bargain leaves both sides unhappy, and this is one of those bargains. But if we don’t come together right now, then we might as well not plan on fighting at all. Because we will not win. Unlike us, the dead don’t care who’s come from what house. They only wish to wipe out everything that has hot blood in them. So, I think that's an acceptable offer. Don't you agree, my lords?," he asks as he gives them a penetrating stare. 

The Northern lords look at each other before giving very reluctant nods. A few of the Vale lords watch her with intrigued expressions and she surmises they must be the Targaryen loyalists during the Rebellion and smiles lightly to them before she lets out a sigh. Hearing the sound, Missandei looks over and gives her a sympathetic smile.

As she looks over the lords, she sees getting them to put aside her family’s sins and follow her is going to be much harder than she’d anticipated. She’s always had to rule over people who didn’t want to follow her but this time is different. It has to be about the realm and not the houses if they wish to survive.

And there was so little time.

Chapter Text

After the tense evening meal, it seemed that wasn’t the end of the night as Bran asked Jon to meet him in the solar along with Daenerys. She had looked curiously at Bran but nodded once, telling her advisors where she’d be.

When they get there, Sansa and Arya are already there. And oddly enough, so is Sam. Jon helps Daenerys into a chair before he takes his own seat.

"What do you want to talk to me about, Bran?," Jon asks him.

Bran stares at him for a moment before answering.

"I know who your mother is," he replies.

“What?,” Jon asks as his eyes widen in surprise. That was the last thing he was expecting Bran to say. He was thinking it was about the Night King or something that happened in the South. Anything but this.

He's suddenly equal parts nervous and excited. The question he's always wondered, had begged his father to answer.

"Truly?," he asks hopeful.

Bran nods silently as he stares at him. He glances at Sansa, Daenerys, and Arya and sees the same curiosity in their eyes. But when he looks to Sam, he sees his friend twirling his thumbs around, something Sam only does when he’s nervous. That action alone suddenly has Jon on alert. There are so many more important matters that need to be attended to than him learning who his mother is. And Daenerys certainly doesn’t need to be here for this.

Unless... unless there’s a reason for it.

He takes a breath and looks back to Bran.

“Who was she?,” he asks quietly.

"Your mother was Lady Lyanna Stark," Brans tells him calmly.

Jon looks at Bran in complete confusion. He sees Sansa and Arya wear the same as expression, not sure if they heard him correctly. Daenerys’s brow is furrowed as she stares at the greenseer.

"That's not right. Father would never lie with-," he starts to say but Bran cuts him off.

"Eddard Stark was not your father, Jon," Bran tells him.

Jon's mind shuts down at that. What? No, that can't be right. He shakes his head as he continues to look at Bran, as if silently telling him he’s wrong. Or perhaps mad.

Arya and Sansa sit and silently stare at Bran with wide, disbelieving eyes.

"What? What do you mean, Bran?," he asks desperately.

"I mean that you are not our half brother. You are our cousin," he responds calmly.

"No. No, that's not right," he says. His head moving faster now as he tries to deny what Bran is telling him. He’s not a cousin. He’s their bastard brother.

"It is," Bran says.

"But then who was my father?," he challenges him.

Now Bran's eyes bore into Jon's as he says, "Rhaegar Targaryen."

It's almost as if the world has been pulled out from under Jon's feet. He feels faint and can't catch his breath as he gapes at Bran.

Daenerys can't believe what she's hearing. Rhaegar had another son? And it's Jon?

She cuts her eyes to the greenseer and asks, "How sure are you?" Her tone cracks like a bolt of lightning and actually causes the others to startle. When they turn and look at her, they see the purple fire in her eyes and flinch away.

But the greenseer simply turns those blank eyes to her and says, "As sure as I know that Mirri Maaz Dur promised when your khal would return to you."

She reels back as if he slapped her across the face with all his might. There is no possible way he could know that. She could find ways to explain how he knew what Quaithe said, but she has never repeated the words of the witch. At least, not to anyone still living. The true terror she feels of this man and his power consumes her for a moment before she has to use all her strength to shove it down. Now is not the time. It's not about her at the moment.

She collects herself and swallows hard as she nods, ignoring all the eyes on her.

No wonder Drogon let Jon touch him! She just figured his mother must have had a drop of Valyrian in her along with the fact that he showed no fear towards her fiercest child.

Oh, how wrong she was. He has so much more than a drop.

Jon is standing there breathing hard as he watches the total fear take over Daenerys's eyes as she stares at Bran before her face smoothes over again. Whatever Bran meant by that, must have convinced Daenerys of the truth of his words.

Bran turns back to Jon and says, "I think you've always known, deep down, that there was a bigger reason than just shame for my father not telling you who your mother was."

Suddenly, the recurring dream he used to have comes back to him.

Running through Winterfell only to find it completely empty. Standing in front of the doors leading down to the Stark crypts even though he doesn't want to go down, afraid of what he might find. Screaming he's not a Stark, it's not his place. But he's forced to walk down the stairs leading into it anyways.

He comes back to reality then and looks around, feeling like a caged animal. He can't catch his breath and his mind won't accept what its hearing.

"Can anyone prove this?,” Arya asks, feeling dread knot in her stomach.

Bran nods in confirmation. "Lord Howland Reed was there when father brought Jon out of the Tower of Joy.”

Jon grabs onto the back of his chair before his knees buckle. His mind literally cannot take much more of this.

"Why didn't he tell me?," he asks Bran.

"He promised Lyanna he would protect you from Robert. It was her dying wish. And he kept it," he says point blank.

"So that would make him a Sand," Sansa says.

"A Waters," Daenerys corrects quietly. Only half of her is paying attention to what's being said, the other half is caught up in the possibilities and realizations.

Sam clears his throat and shakes his head in disagreement when they all look at him.

He pulls out the document Gilly had found and lays it on the table.

"This is a transcription from High Septon Maynard that shows he legally married Rhaegar and Lyanna. You're a Targaryen," Sam says, looking up at Jon.

"You're more than that. You're Aegon, heir to the Iron Throne," Bran tells him.

Daenerys gasps as she looks from Bran to Jon. He's a true born Targaryen? All this time... hiding in the North. It's such a perfect plan.

She's never been so thankful to Eddard Stark than she is at this moment. If he hadn't sacrificed his honor and taken Jon as a bastard... she would truly be alone.

She breathes at that thought and repeats it again.

I'm not alone anymore.

It's more than she could have ever hoped for. Not only that there is one more Targaryen, but that he didn't inherit their pension for madness.

No, he inherited their greatness.

A slow smile spreads across her face as her thoughts continue. But when she looks at Jon, it immediately falls.

He looks livid. Livid and almost disgusted. And that look erases all happiness in her as it's replaced with hurt.

At the word heir, Jon spins to face Daenerys again and says, "I don't want the damned throne."

She reels back in shock at the vehemence in his voice and looks at him offended.

"I never suggested you did," she says quietly. And it's true. She wasn't worried about him taking the throne from her. He's not the type to actively seek out positions of power. He accepted them because others wanted him to lead. Perhaps she should worry about the people choosing to follow him instead of her. But she knows, deep down, that he won't accept this offer because he believes she should rule.

Seeing her look at him that way makes him realize how crazed he must appear. He tries to rein in his anger, but is unsuccessful as a new thought enters his mind.

If he's a Targaryen... then that means Daenerys is....oh fuck.

"Why are you telling me this?," he asks quietly, looking back to Bran and Sam, his chest rising and falling as he feels anger and hurt begin to drown him. What was the point in him having to know this? He was perfectly fine with being a Snow. He'd accepted it. They've got to worry about the dead, not that damned iron chair! Who cares who he is if they're all going to die? When he's quite sure he's going to die?

Sam looks at him with wide eyes, not knowing what to say as he looks to Bran.

"Because you need to know," Bran tells him calmly.

"Why?," he yells at this person who is his brother...cousin.... but at the same a complete stranger.

"The dragon must have three heads," Dany murmurs, her wide violet eyes meet Bran's who nods. Then she looks to Sam who's expression mirrors her own.

"What does that mean?," he shouts, remembering Bran said that exact phrase earlier.

"It's something I saw in the House of the Undying in Qarth," Dany says quietly as she watches the anger in his eyes. She's not sure how to handle this Jon. So, she reverts to how she used to act towards Viserys whenever she "woke the dragon" and sits calmly as the anger runs its course.

He breathes deeply and nods at her in silent invitation to explain.

"I saw a man who had Targaryen features with a dark haired woman. She was nursing a babe and asked the man if he would make a song for him. He told her that...," she pauses and she looks at Sam then. "That he already has a song. He is the prince that was promised and his is the song of ice and fire," she murmurs. How could she have connected that vision in Qarth? Now she knows why the phrase kept snagging at her memory when Melisandre and Sam mentioned it before.

Drink from the cup of ice.... Drink from the cup of fire.

She inhales sharply and looks back to Jon and says, "He said that there must be one more. The dragon has three heads."

"You have to rise, Jon," Bran tells him. Again all eyes in the room look towards the young man.

"The ice in you won't defeat the Night King. Only fire and blood. You have to embrace it," he says impassively.

"Embrace it? Just accept the fact that I'm not who I thought I was my entire life and move on? Act like this doesn't change everything?," he seethes as his eyes spit flames at Bran.

"Jon, you need to calm down," Sansa tells him. And that sentence, makes him explode.

"Don't," he says through gritted teeth, his eyes flashing as he turns to her. "Don't tell me to calm down when I have just learned the man who we all believed was my father is actually my uncle. That I have been lied to all this time. That I'm not a Stark or a Snow. I'm a Targaryen."

He doesn't notice how Daenerys winces at the way he says the name before her face turns contemplative, but Arya does. Her lips thin as she looks at her brother in disapproval. She may not like the queen, but there's a line. And Jon has officially crossed it. But before she can say anything, Sansa continues.

"And what should he have done?," Sansa asks just as viciously. The wolf within her stands at attention, raising it's hackles at the threat as it refuses to submit to him. "Told the kingdom you're a Targaryen? Not only that, but the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna? Robert would have killed you!"

"He could have told me before he left! He could have at least told Lady Stark so she wouldn't have hated me!," he shouts at her, as his anger consumes him.

"But, he didn't!," Sansa shouts back. "It could have ruined everything!"

"You don't know that!," he yells.

"No, Jon," Daenerys says after having thought through it all. They all look towards the dragon queen.

"If he had told you, there was a possibility you would not have gone to the Wall. With you at the Wall, you were out of reach of the Baratheons, the Lannisters, and anyone else who would gain from having you killed in their war for the Iron Throne. Even if you didn't want it, it would still have been too risky to let you live. Because the only reason they put Baratheon on the throne was because his grandmother was Rhaelle Targaryen, so in a sense, they still had a Targaryen as king. Compare his drop to your half," she gives him a searching a look and sees awareness come into his eyes. She looks at the others as they stare wide eyed at her and continues.

"Add the fact that Lord Stark would have been forced to choose between the two. His best friend or the nephew of his dead sister. From what I know of the man, he would have stood behind you and protected you. By doing so, he would also be choosing your claim over Baratheon's. Which would mean you'd have had the entire North at your back along with all the Targaryen supporters. Though, if proof of the marriage couldn't be found at the time and you were still a bastard, I’m still quite positive the Golden Company probably would have sought you out because you are Rhaegar’s only living son. Yet another army at your back. I'm sure Viserys would have argued your claim and would have tried to find a way to eliminate you as well so he could be king," she says. She watches as Jon's eyes go wide at the realization, panic and horror slipping in as he pictures the image she's created.

The others look at her with complete shock at how quickly she put all the variables together.

"If your true parentage somehow had been revealed while you were at the Wall, no one could have touched you, no matter how much they would have originally wanted to because your vows cut you off. Just as the vows did for maester Aemon. As they did with Sam. They kept you alive," she explains.

Everyone in the room nods emphatically in agreement with the queen.

Jon stares hard at her for moment then he clenches his jaw and looks away.

She stands and begins to move towards him but his eyes snap to her and he steps back.

No, she thinks as she immediately stills in response. Please, no. Don't move away.

The hurt on her face at that one movement tears him apart, but he can't deal with it all. So he walks to the door without a word and is gone.

They all sit in stunned silence for a long moment before Arya jumps up and follows him.

Sansa looks at Daenerys, eyes are shiny with tears as they look from the door back to her. Sansa notices the hurt in them as well. 

She flounders as she tries to find something to say to her, but Sam beats her to it.

"He's just in shock, Your Grace," he tells her kindly.

She looks at him silently, not truly believing his words.

He steps closer and nods. "Jon's never been one to handle news that turns out differently than he thought. He was so angry when he was chosen to be a steward for Lord Commander Mormont instead of a ranger when we were in the Watch. He'll calm down once he sorts it all out," he reassures her.

Sansa nods in agreement as she remembers similar instances from their childhood.

The queen looks between them and nods in acquiescence.

"Perhaps it would be best to give him the night to sleep on it," Sansa suggests.

Again, the queen nods. She quickly collects herself and looks at them.

“I would ask you not to repeat this information to anyone until I have spoken with Lord Jon about how he wishes to proceed,” she says calmly.

“Of course, Your Grace,” Sansa says, dipping her chin in acquiescence.

She turns to Bran and looks at him for a long moment. He meets her purple gaze head on and they seem to silently communicate when she gives him a single nod.

Without another word, she turns and leaves the room.
---------

Dany walks through the halls of Winterfell in a daze.

She finds Tyrion with the rest of her small council sitting in the large guest solar. They notice her look immediately and tense. Missandei jumps up and brings her over to sit down.

"What happened?," Tyrion asks worriedly as he looks at her.

"I...," she stutters as she looks at her Hand with large disbelieving eyes, "I'm not the only Targeryen left," she tells him in shock as her mind tries unsuccessfully to collect itself.

Her council looks as alarmed as she feels at that statement.

"What do you mean, Your Grace?," Lord Varys asks as he leans forward in his chair.

"Rhaegar had a third child," she says, her eyes still wide as a doe.

Tyrion and Varys share a glance of incredulity before they look back to her.

"That's... not possible, Your Grace," Varys says slowly. "Princess Elia had no third child. And we all know the other two are gone."

"No," she says as she turns her large eyes to her master of whispers, "not with Elia. With Lyanna Stark."

The Westerosi men's eyes become so large, Daenerys is sure they'll fall out of their heads.

"How do you know this?," Tyrion demands.

"Bran Stark saw her," she says hesitantly. She looks at the reactions and it's a mixture of skepticism and shock.

"But wouldn't the child be a...a bastard?," Missandei asks.

Tyrion, Jorah, and Varys all nod their heads in answer.

But when they see Danyshake hers, all three become filled with dread.

"He married Lyanna," she says quietly as her eyes become far away.

Her advisers share a disbelieving look before turning back to the queen.

"And.... where is this Targaryen?," Varys asks cautiously. Although he already believes he’s figured out who she’s referring to, he needs her to confirm it.

Her eyes snap back into focus as a pained expression crosses her lovely features.

"It's Jon Snow," she whispers as she meets their eyes.

Their jaws almost drop to the floor at her answer.

Tyrion runs a hand down his face as he realizes why his queen is so upset.

"Shit," he says and walks over to grab a goblet of wine then proceeds to drain it.

“Jon Targaryen?,” Jorah asks, his brow furrows as he tries to put it all together.

“Aegon Targaryen,” she corrects quietly as she looks to her oldest advisor.

The others exchange glances, but none comment on the name.

"Can this be verified aside from the young Lord Stark?," Varys asks seriously.

"Apparently a Lord Howland Reed was there when Lord Eddard brought him down from the Tower of Joy," she responds quietly.

That causes Lord Varys to sit back in his chair with a grim expression.

"Will he try and take the throne, Your Grace?," Jorah asks her.

She snaps out of her daze and scoffs at that. "You have seen how he does not wish to achieve anything other than win the war against the dead," she tells her old bear. "He most certainly does not want the throne. But that doesn't matter if we lose this war against the dead."

"Will the other houses vie to support him instead of you?," he clarifies.

She looks hesitant at the question and her brow furrows in thought.

"I...don't believe they will. If they do, he'll turn them down. That I know for certain," she says as her eyes meet those of her old bear. He nods in response and says nothing else.

Tyrion looks around the room and says, "May I have a word alone with the queen?"

They all look to her and she gives a silent nod.

Once they're gone Tyrion gives her a hard stare that sets her on edge.

"Is this going to cause problems between you two?," he asks seriously.

She blinks at him for a moment and swallows.

"I...don't know," she says quietly.

"Fuck," he sighs and downs another glass of wine. "I was afraid this would happen."

"That he’s my nephew and the heir to the throne?," she asks skeptically.

He doesn't rise to the bait and just stares at her, which makes her tense even more.

"No," he replies, "that there would be consequences from becoming involved with him romantically."

“I...,” she starts before her eyes drop to her lap, watching the way her fingers twist the ring around and around.

“So, is there going to be a problem now?,” he asks her, needing to know what she’s thinking so he can plan accordingly.

She swallows hard again and shakes her head. "There won't be any from me. You know the Targaryen ways," she says looking at him.

He nods silently and she continues with a shrug, "I grew up believing I would have to marry Viserys, so learning of our shared blood is not...not an issue for me. I don't even think of him that way. I doubt I ever will."

He watches her closely and asks, "Then what is it?"

She shakes her head again and looks down at her hands a moment before returning her gaze to his. He now can clearly see the tears in her purple eyes.

"I thought I was alone," she whispers brokenly. "I thought that I was the only Targaryen left and... now I'm not," she says, wiping the tears from her eyes.

His heart clenches at the sight of this woman before him and he reaches out to take her hand.

"No," he agrees softly, "you're not."

"But... I am," she whispers.

His brow furrows as he waits for her to explain.

"He...he was so disgusted, Tyrion," she says as her eyes return to his. The way her lip trembles and the sadness in those sparkling amethyst eyes make him wince. He suddenly feels more like he did whenever Myrcella was just a young girl and would come to him crying about whatever awful thing Joffrey did to her. A protectiveness rushes through his body at the vulnerability she’s showing him.

"I'm sure it was out of shock. The boy just learned his entire life is not what he's been raised to believe," he says in an effort to comfort her.

She hesitantly nods. But again, she’s unconvinced. Because regardless of what Sam and Lady Sansa said, she saw the way he reacted to her. How he couldn't look at her. She knows he probably won't want to come near her ever again. She can't help the tears that spill from her eyes at the thought.

Seeing her distress, Tyrion squeezes her hand before letting go. He hurries to the door and opens it to find Missandei waiting.

He pushes it wide to allow her in and she goes straight to her friend and queen.

Missandei drops right in front of her and takes her hands.

"Your Grace...," Missandei murmurs as her brown eyes meet purple.

"It’s foolish, I know,” she says as she wipes her tears away.

“It’s not,” Missandei murmurs.

“It is,” Dany says as she straightens her shoulders. She gives her friend a sad smile and says, “Dreams only break your heart. Best to put them aside.”

She then stands up and walks over to Tyrion. She rests her hand on his shoulder and gives it a gentle squeeze.

“Thank you, my lord Hand. As I said, there will be no issues from me,” she tells him as she lets it go. “I think it best to retire for the evening.”

She turns to Missandei and gives her a nod and her friend steps up next to her and the two make their way out.

Tyrion flops down on the closest chair and realizes he’s going to have to talk to Jon. The thought makes him groan. He’s too old for this.
-----

“Thought I'd find you here," a voice says from behind and Jon turns to see Arya walking up to him. Passing Ghost, she gives him a pat on the head.

He just stares at her as she settles beside him on the rock in front of the weirwood and looks straight at him.

"You are my brother," she says fervently.

"I'm not," he murmurs.

She breathes hard through her nose and her eyes narrow at him.

"Yes, you are," she says through her teeth.

He tries to disagree and tell her he's truly not. Not in reality. But she cuts him off.

"You were there when we were all born, just as Robb was. You were there when I hated that I wasn't as pretty or lady like as Sansa. You were there when we learned how to ride. You were there when Jeyne Poole would call me Arya Horseface. You were there for Bran's first execution. You were there when he fell. You were there for everything. You looked out for us as best you could and always helped teach us the ways of our family," she explains, her voice becoming louder as her emotions take over.

"So yes, Jon, you are my brother!," she yells at him. Tears form in her eyes that he would actually believe she would think any different of him.

His face crumbles as he sees her tears. He grabs her into a tight hug and she hangs on to him desperately in return. They sit there in silence as they continue to embrace.

"She's right," a voice says. He and Arya separate to see Sansa standing there, her gaze open and honest as she looks at him.

She makes her way to them and sits on the other side of him before gently asking, "What did I say to you at Castle Black?"

He flashes her a sad look as he replies, "That to you, I was a Stark."

She nods. "Yes, and you still are," she says as she pats his hand with hers before grabbing it.

"But," he begins when Arya hits him upside the head.

"Don't be stupid," she says, her eyes telling him she'll hear no more of this drivel.

"You are a Stark, Jon," Sansa repeats.

Arya nods in agreement.

"I'm a Targaryen," he says quietly as he looks at Sansa with sad eyes that remind her of the boy he used to be.

She can't help but scoff at him. "Half Targaryen. Just as I am half Tully. As are Arya and Bran. As were Robb and Rickon. That doesn't make your Stark half any less meaningful than ours. It only means that your house name is different from what we had thought. Not you," she says.

He thinks on that and gives a twitch of his lips.

"Gods, you men...," Arya says in exasperation. "Always tossing your bits everywhere and losing your temper. What would you do without us?," she asks him.

He can't keep help but smirk at his feisty sister and ruffles her hair. She smacks his hand away and gives him a look that tells him she's not amused.

"Probably kill each other," he replies.

"Oh, you definitely would," Sansa agrees casually. They all descend into silence, watching their breaths mist in front of them as they become lost in their own thoughts.

"You know... the queen was right about everything as to why father did what he did," Arya says.

Sansa nods her agreement. "Very perceptive."

They sit for a moment before Jon releases a tired sigh.

"I'm going to have to tell the other lords," he says to them.

Sansa gives him a frightened look and shakes her head. "No, Jon. It's not wise right now," she says almost frantically.

"And if I am suddenly needed to embrace the fire in me in such a way that can't be explained? Or if the dragons keep taking to me the way they have? Or if the lords somehow found out from a different source? Then what, Sansa?," he asks as he looks at her imploringly. She doesn't know what to say to that so he continues.

"I will step down and you will be named Lady of Winterfell and Wardeness of the North. It's better for me to tell them now and be upfront then to sit on this too long and it causes them to never trust us again," he says.

Sansa looks at him for a moment as her mind works through everything he's said. He can tell she sees the wisdom in that and sighs in resignation.

"Fine," she says and gives him a hard look. "But wait at least a day or two. Maybe three. Allow them to at least begin to come to terms with the fact that the North has returned to the rule of a Southron. If you tell them tomorrow, they will think that's the reason why you bent the knee," she says. Her eyes search his once she's done, hoping he'll understand.

He thinks for a moment as he stares back at her then dips his chin and says, "Aye, I can wait. I agree that would be the better course."

Her eyes close in relief as she releases the breath she was holding.

Again, they sit quietly for a long time when Arya turns to him.

"What are you going to do about the queen?," she asks.

He can't hide the wince as he remembers her face before he left. He has no idea what he's going to do with her. Now, it's all fucked up even more than it was to begin with. And he's made it even worse by shutting her out when she tried to comfort him.

"I don't know," he whispers sadly as he looks straight ahead.

"I think you should at least say something. You didn't see her face when you left, Jon," Sansa says quietly.

He swallows hard at that but remains silent.

She exchanges a glance with Arya before looking back at Jon.

"Jon-," she begins but he turns towards her again, the anger in his eyes returning.

"What, Sansa?," he asks in a low voice. "Tell me, what exactly should I say?"

She looks at him in bewilderment for a moment. Where does this mercurial anger keep coming from? And why does he keep throwing it at her? She's not suggesting anything outrageous!

But it confirms her suspicions that he was involved with the queen and her face goes hard again.

"I'm trying to help you mend this before it falls apart beyond repair. Don't get mad at me because you couldn't keep your cock in your trousers," she hisses at him.

Her words shock him and the anger immediately leaves his eyes as the pain returns. He swallows and looks away again. “It was more than that,” he whispers.

Her eyes close as she tries to keep up with his unpredictable emotions. She looks at Arya and silently tells her to intervene.

Arya grimaces, but clears her throat. "So... what? You care for her?"

Sansa's eyes widen at her sister's tactlessness. Arya shoots her an annoyed glance in response before looking back to Jon.

He doesn't answer, so she continues. "I mean...is that a bad thing?"

He shrugs as he puts his head in his hands and mumbles, "It can't be that way anymore."

"Why?," Arya asks. It's not that Arya approves of the queen at all, but she's trying to understand how to help her brother.

Sansa just looks skyward and shakes her head. Why did she think Arya could handle this better than she could?

"Because she's my aunt by blood, Arya," he hisses as his head remains downward.

Arya struggles to find something to say. She knows bringing up the fact that the Targaryens have always wed brother to sister would not be a smart thing to say right now. Especially since it brought on so many mad Targaryens. When she can't think of anything, she looks helplessly at Sansa to which she gives her an exasperated look of her own.

"Jon, we can't have her leave us here. We need her armies and her dragons," Sansa tells him.

He gets up and crosses his arms as he looks out into the night.

"I'm aware, Sansa. That's why this whole situation just became so extremely fucked up," he says, his shoulders dropping in defeat. They watch him silently before Arya speaks.

"Jon, whatever you need from us, we will happily give it," Arya says.

He turns around and gives them a sad smile.

"Thank you, little sister," he murmurs to her then looks at Sansa.

"I'm sorry I lost my temper, Sansa," he says ashamed.

She gives him a sympathetic look and shakes her head.

"I know it's extremely difficult and so much to take in, Jon. But Arya is right. You have our loyalty and our love always. You are our brother and our pack," she says fervently.

He swallows and nods.

Sansa gets up and hugs him tightly before letting him go. "We'll leave you but if you're gone too long, one of us will come back. I told the queen it would be best for her to wait until you've slept on this," she tells him.

He gives a small half smile and nods again.

But before she lets go, she gives him a searching look and says, "Just tell me when you're going to speak to the lords about this so that we can be prepared."

He nods in acquiescence and she lets go.

Arya jumps into his arms to give him a hug. When she pulls away, she has a thoughtful look.

"You know," she says thoughtfully, "maybe you could ride a dragon now."

Before he can answer, she turns and walks with Sansa back into the castle, leaving Jon with his thoughts and emotions.
----

When Ghost leaves to go hunt, he decides to go down to the crypts. He isn't sure how long he stands there looking at her statue. Sam somehow manages to find him late into the night and comes to stand next to him in front of Lyanna.

"I can't imagine what you're feeling," his friend says sympathetically.

"No, probably not," Jon quietly agrees.

"But," Sam hesitates before continuing, "at least you know now. You'll never have to wonder. And your parents were both nobility," he says as he thinks of other things about the people who created Jon.

"And fierce in their own rights. Rhaegar was a fine warrior. Maybe that's what you get your fighting skills from. That's something, isn't it," he finishes, trying to find some way to make Jon feel better.

Jon gives a bitter laugh at that and shrugs before his shoulders drop at the reminder of Rhaegar.

"She's my aunt, Sam," he says with despair.

Sam winces at that, knowing what he means by that.

"Well...yes. But....," he stutters as he racks his mind to try and think of an appropriate answer.

"There's nothing to say, Sam," Jon says with a defeated sigh as he rubs his eyes.

Sam suddenly turns to him and looks thoughtful for moment before he says, "I remember reading ravens to Maester Aemon about her when she was still in Slaver's Bay."

Jon looks at Sam incredulously as he waits for him to continue.

"And he said something that really stuck with me," he says. He pauses and searches Jon's face to see if he actually wants to hear this before he continues.

"What?," Jon asks quietly.

"He hated how he wasn't able to go to her and help guide her," his voice saddens before he looks intently at Jon.

"He said a Targaryen alone in the world was a terrible thing," Sam tells him.

The truth of that statement hits him like a physical blow.

"And... now she's not alone," Sam says kindly with a small shrug.

He heaves a great sigh and looks up at the statue of Lyanna before turning to Sam.

"What am I going to do, Sam?," he asks his scholarly friend. He truly wants to know because he has no idea where to go from here.

Sam looks away for a moment in thought. "Well, if anything, you could at least protect her," he says.

He looks at him as though he's suddenly gone thick in the head.

"Because I could do so much better than the most skilled fighters in the world that protect her now?," he asks sarcastically.

"No," Sam says, giving a shake of his head. "Because you didn't see the look in her eyes when I informed her of Maester Aemon's passing. And when she realized she had missed her chance to meet him, that she truly was the last Targaryen....," he hesitates, wondering if he should tell Jon.

"What?," Jon asks, almost dreading to know what happened because he can certainly imagine how Daenerys would take it. And the look Sam has, confirms that it was not pleasant.

Sam swallows. "I don't think I've ever seen such a heartbreaking sight, Jon," he says quietly as he meets his friend's gaze. He doesn't want to make Jon feel worse but it's true, the absolute devastation and loneliness in her eyes had made Sam's heart clench for her.

Even when he first met Gilly and wanted to help her, when she became distraught that little Sam was a boy, he'd not felt as he did witnessing the strong dragon queen's composure slip into one of such despair. At least Gilly had had her sisters, the queen had no one.

Again, Sam's words cut through him like the knives that killed him and he winces at the pain. Ever since he came back, it's been harder for him to feel. But in moments like this, he wished he couldn't feel a thing.

"I know Maester Aemon would have wanted you to protect her... however you can," he tells Jon. He thinks Aemon would have wanted them to stay together and protect each other, but he doesn't say that.

Jon swallows hard and gives a silent nod. They continue to stand there in the quiet until Sam turns to Jon and gives him a small pat on the back.

"Jon, why don't you try to rest?," he suggests gently.

His shoulders sag and he nods, turning from Lyanna’s statue and letting Sam lead him out of the crypts.
—————-

When Jon finds Davos the next morning, he takes him to the solar.

"I plan to hand the North over to Sansa in two days time," he says without preamble.

Davos raises his eyebrows at that.
"May I ask why?"

"I'm not a Stark," he says vaguely.

"I thought we've been over the fact that they don't care you're a Snow," he replies feeling utterly confused at where this coming from.

"I'm not a Snow either," Jon says.

Now Davos is completely lost and makes it evident on his face.

"Ned Stark was not actually my father. He was my uncle," Jon says grimly.

Davos's eyes go large at that and he gestures for Jon to continue.

Taking a deep breath Jon says, "My mother was Lady Lyanna Stark and my father was Prince Rhaegar Targaryen."

Davos is sure his jaw is on the floor as he stares wide eyed at Jon.

"But...that would...so," he stutters.

"I'm a Targaryen," Jon concludes for him.

"Not a Waters?," he asks.

Jon shakes his head and says, "No. There is documented proof that Rhaegar married Lyanna."

Davos's eyes get even bigger.

"So, you're Jon Targaryen?," he asks, needing to put it all together.

"Apparently my birth name is Aegon," Jon says incredulously as he eyes Davos as if he could tell him whether or not he's incorrect.

Davos's brow furrows as well and he says, "But Rhaegar already had a son named Aegon...."

"I guess Lyanna named me since Rhaegar had already fallen at the Trident," he replies with a shrug as he gives him a helpless look.

They sit in silence before Davos's head snaps up again.

"Does the queen know?," he asks, suddenly worried.

Jon nods.

"And... she's fine?," he clarifies.

"She didn't have any issues aside from the shock of it all," he responds quietly as his eyes stare at the table.

Davos sits back in his chair and shakes his head.

"Fuck," he says quietly, unable to take his eyes off Jon as he tries to find something in the man's features to suggest he's half Targaryen.

Coming back to himself, he looks into Jon's eyes as a new worry forms.

"Do you think the lords won't help you against the dead?," he asks.

Jon shakes his head. "No, they've heard from the queen's group that the dead are real. They'll fight if they want to survive."

Davos nods and sits in silence again as he processes it all.

Before any more can be said, there's a knock at the door.

The guard opens it to show Lord Tyrion behind him. Jon nods and the guard lets the dwarf pass before closing the door once again.

“Enter,” Jon says.

"Yes, Lord Tyrion?," he asks.

The dwarf doesn't answer as he walks to the table where the wine sits. He silently pours himself a glass and drains it before he sits down across from Jon. He gives Davos a nod then turns to Jon. He stares at him hard for moment before asking, "Is this going to be a problem?"

Jon blinks and asks, "Is what?"

Tyrion gives a long suffering sigh in response. "Don't play games with me, Jon. Is your parentage going to be a problem?," he asks in a hard tone that Jon has never heard the dwarf use before. Davos's brow lifts slightly at the tone as well and looks to Jon.

"No. I don't want the throne. I stand behind her as queen," he tells him.

Tyrion nods silently before letting out a sigh. "That much I believe," he says wearily.

"You don't believe the other part?," Jon asks as he feels his temper begin to rise at the insult. What was that supposed to mean? And what was the point in asking him if the man wasn't going to listen?

"That you won't let this become an issue between you and the queen?," Tyrion asks sharply. "Unfortunately Jon, I've seen how you handle difficult situations and it does not inspire my confidence."

Jon's eyes flare at the accusation but before he can argue, Tyrion continues.

"I remember when we first met and you were so angry at how Lady Catelyn wouldn't let you sit with your true born siblings during the welcoming feast. Then when I called you a bastard, you became even more distant and angry until I further explained how to wear it so others wouldn't use it against you," the dwarf says as he stares at Jon.

"That was years ago, Tyrion. I was a green boy who'd had too much to drink," Jon growls, purposefully not giving him any titles. How dare this man come in here and insult him as though he knew who Jon was then and who he is now? What gave him the audacity to sit there and accuse Jon of such utter nonsense?

The Hand doesn't seem to care at the slight disrespect as he tilts his head at Jon and gives him a reprimanding look.

"So, when you wanted to leave Dragonstone because my queen wouldn't believe you and refused to help you with the dead without getting something in return? Were you just a green boy then, Aegon?," Tyrion asks, throwing Jon's tactic right back at him.

Jon's eyes flash a warning at the man across from him. Even though he can feel heat rising in his cheeks at the reminder, he doesn't say anything as he grinds his teeth. That was different. He was trapped on Dragonstone with no way to help his people while the dead marched farther south.

"Or last night? When she cried as she told me how, according to her, you were so disgusted of your shared blood that you couldn't even look at her? That you apparently hated it? Which, by default, is also her? Were you drunk then, Jon? Because that would be so much easier to explain away than this. I have never seen my queen anywhere near the state she was in last night," he tells him fiercely. Davos's eyes widen at that new piece of information and he looks between the two.

Shame washes over him and his jaw clenches so hard, he's sure his teeth will break from the force. He hadn't meant to react that way, but it was just too much! He could never be disgusted with her. The thought of her sadness makes his heart clench and his stomach feel as though there's a lead weight in it. Knowing he caused her pain makes it so much worse.

Tyrion looks at him and sighs, rubbing his eyes with his thumb and forefinger.

"I'm not trying to anger you, Jon," the dwarf says, opening his mismatched eyes to meet his grey ones. "I doubt that's what you truly felt but that's the consequence of your response to the news. It's exactly what I'm trying to tell you," he says, his eyes boring into him, willing him to understand his point.

"And what I'm telling you is that if you continue to pull away and become even more distant with her, the lords will become suspicious and follow your lead. They will use it to confirm their decision about her and refuse to bend. Or they will become untrustworthy towards both of you."

Jon purses him lips at that but is still silent.

"I know what's been going on between you and the queen," Tyrion says as his eyes narrow in accusation. "I know it's not simply sweet looks and gentle words. I tried to warn her against such actions the morning after you went to her cabin, but she assured me nothing would come of it."

Now, Jon's face drains of all color and he swallows loudly. Davos’s eyes close at the confirmation of his suspicions.

"I...," he stutters as he tries to find the words, but Tyrion holds up his hand to silence him.

"I don't care. It's done. I'm simply here to advise you on how to tread now, although I'm sure Ser Davos will give his own advice when I leave. I like you, Jon. I think you're a good lad. But, I'm loyal to my queen first and foremost. And I will always advise her on how to best handle any situation so that is profitable to her. You know this realm needs her, even if the people don't want to see it right now. Because she can relate to the people after having spent her childhood in exile, living in poverty. With only dreams and schemes keeping her going. She understands the horrors they've gone through because she too has gone such horrors as well,” Tyrion says to him.

"I know all this," Jon says as his face becomes closed off.

"Then you know we cannot have the North divided and word of it sent south where Cersei will use it to have the people shun her immediately. So that even if my sweet sister fails and ends up losing her crown and her life, the seed will be planted. She's already doing it now and it will only get worse if you don't put a stop to this," he says fervently.

Jon slowly nods his head in agreement. It's true, she's needed here more than any of them.

"So, I'm telling you now, Jon," he continues as he stares at him, "regardless of your personal feelings on the matter, you cannot let this come between you as leaders. I've already spoken to the queen and she assured me that she would stay to fight. She won't have this cloud her judgement. I expect the same from you."

Jon stares at the man for a moment before giving a single nod.

"There won't be any issues," he says.

The dwarf looks at him a long time before he nods and gets up from his seat. When he’s at the door, he turns to Jon again.

"Fix this, Lord Snow. And do it quickly," he says before leaving without another word.

Jon heaves a great sigh and rests his head in his hands.

"Oh, lad...," Davos sighs wearily as he begins to rub his temples.

"He's right on all counts," he says after a moment.

"I know," Jon says quietly.

"So, are you going to patch things up now or later?," Davos asks.

"I...," he says and looks at Davos as though he may have the answer he seeks.

"I don't know what to say...," he murmurs.

Davos looks contemplative for a moment and asks, "What do you want right now?"

"To...adjust to all of this," he replies.

"Then tell her that. All you can do is be honest," Davos says with a shrug.

------

He finds her at the edge of the wolfswood as she searches the sky for her dragons. Her guards waiting closer towards the gate to give her some privacy.

"Your Grace," he says, causing her to turn towards him.

“My lord." Then she looks to Ghost and gives him a smile to which the direwolf responds by wagging his tail.

"I came to apologize for how I acted last night," he says, bringing her eyes back to him.

"It's understandable," she says softly.

He shakes his head in disagreement. "I still shouldn't have acted that way. I don't... I don't think that way of you," he says hesitantly.

She gives him a small smile as her eyes soften.

“I’ll need to inform the Northern lords,” he says with a sigh.

Her eyes scrutinize him for a moment before she nods.

“Of course. I will make myself scarce when you do if that would be better,” she says quietly.

He rubs his eyes and nods. “That would probably be best. But, I’ll tell them that under no circumstances will I make a bid for the throne. That’s yours alone. I’ll also let them know you’re going to inform your own bannermen at your convenience. They’ll not come between you and your men, I’ll make sure of it,” he says looking back up at her. Seeing the honesty in his eyes, she gives him a small smile and tilts her head slightly.

“Thank you, Jon,” she says quietly, watching how he shifts his feet.

“Is that all you wish to discuss?,” she asks.

"I uh...," he hesitates, unsure how to put this. "I just need time to... sort this all out. And focus on the war. Should we actually survive, perhaps then we can figure out everything...er... maybe we should... what I mean is that-," he flounders.

He watches as her smile falls and her face becomes void of emotion. The light in her eyes that allowed him to see everything in them has been blown out. He feels a slight sense alarm at how she closed herself to him. That's not what he meant.

"Of course, Lord Jon," she says in a toneless voice.

Seeing her reaction makes him regret how he phrased what he was trying to say. "Daenerys, I-," he starts but she cuts him off.

"It's perfectly understandable, Lord Jon. You don’t have to justify yourself to me," she tells him. She tries to smile but it's more of a grimace.

She begins stepping back towards the woods, needing to get away from here.

"I just don't want there to be-," he tries but again, she cuts him off.

"Tension," she interrupts, her voice sharp even though her face remains blank. It causes him to pause as he sees the way her breathing has become shallow and how she keeps swallowing. "Yes, I know," she says as she continues moving away from him.

That visceral pull he's always felt has him stepping forward without thinking and she stills as a small bit of hope comes back in her eyes. Luckily, her stopping allows him to regain his senses. He doesn't want to push her away but he also knows that giving her mixed messages while he tries to sort out the mess that has become his life wouldn't be fair either. Especially not now.

"Daenerys, that’s not-,” he says but she turns her head away and tries to unsuccessfully hide the sadness that snuffs the hope out of her eye. She turns her back on him and begins walking to the woods.

"Daenerys! Let me explain!,” he shouts as he begins to follow her in an attempt to properly tell her what exactly he's trying, and failing, to say.

Turn around, he thinks. Turn around and look at me.

But when she hears his boots crunching the snow beneath them, she walks faster.

"I apologize, Lord Jon. I must tend to my dragons. You have nothing to worry over in regards to me," she says over her shoulder as she almost flat out runs to get away from him.

He stops short and stares after her retreating figure until he can no longer see her. The entire time, he feels the warmth of her leaving him until he's numb.

You know nothing, Jon Snow.

When he hears the distant roars of the dragons, he swallows. This is what he wanted and now he has to stand by his decision. He pushes all of his personal feelings deep down before turning to begin his duties.

Chapter Text

Traveling North proved to be much more difficult than Jaime expected. The farther North he traveled, the deeper the snows became on the more untraveled roads. And unexpectedly, he somehow ended up not traveling alone like he’d planned.

Bronn and the men who were in the dragon pit had apparently gotten word of his departure and had left immediately, catching up with him on the Kings Road.

To say the sellsword was mad at being left behind would be an accurate statement, if the backhanded hit across his jaw was anything to go by.

And so, they made their way to Winterfell and the Targaryen Queen who would probably give him to her dragons as soon as she laid eyes on him. He was surprised when they came across some Lannister soldiers who had apparently been sent by Cersei to check in on the Freys. He was even more surprised at their ashen faces and the story they told of how the entire male line of their house was gone, apparently wiped out in one instance.

As soon as he was informed of the latest Frey wife’s story of how a girl wore Old Walder Frey’s face and said to tell anyone who asked that “Winter came for House Frey”, he made the soldiers discard their Lannister armor. The North was officially too dangerous for them to ride out in full red and gold regalia.

He was quiet most of the journey, contemplating possible outcomes of his arrival and news, thinking of seeing his brother and Brienne, and coming up with reasons as to why he’d be helpful in the war against the dead took up most of his mind. He’d think about Cersei and what she was going to do now that he was gone, the consequences he’d have to face should they actually win against the dead and he survive.

——-

Arriving at Winterfell is as much of a relief as it is terrifying. They ride through the Dothraki and Unsullied camps which Jaime must admit are much cleaner than the camps he’s used to. Regardless of the gargantuan size, it doesn’t smell as badly of shit and mud. He briefly wonders what they do to keep it as such. They’ve also managed to keep themselves free of the snow drifts that have built up in other places but upon further inspection, he sees the scorched ground around the camps and realizes the Targaryen Queen must be using her dragons. He can see the horses have been brought into the woods and kept out of the elements quite well. The camps also appear to be split up because he can only make out around ten thousand instead of her entire host of fifty thousand. Another smart move on their part.

But he knows this set up can’t last much longer. Not with this amount of men and horses. Two moons at the most.

He turns to Bronn and the slightly impressed look he sends Jaime makes Jamie suspect the sellsword is thinking similarly.

They come up to the gates and he’s surprised when they’re let through without question. Though there are more Unsullied guards posted around the ramparts and entrance along with the regular Winterfell guards.

Once inside the courtyard, they dismount from their horses and come face to face with Lord Jon Snow and his advisor, Davos Seaworth next to him. But the long faced lord isn’t what has the small group balk.

No, that would be due to the giant white direwolf that comes out of the shadows to stand silently beside the man.

“You have to be fucking joking,” Bronn says under his breath as he stares warily at the red eyed wolf.

Jaime has to agree with the sellsword. He remembers the direwolf Robb Stark had, and he’d thought that one was large. Oh, how wrong he was. That one hadn’t even been fully grown, only coming up to the young man’s torso. This one was as tall as a horse and could easily take the head off a man with one bite of that huge jaw. He racks his brain to try and remember what this one was named, but comes up short.

Seeing their wariness to continue forward, Jon Snow mutters something to the beast and approaches them.

“Jaime Lannister,” he says by way of greeting as he looks him over before his grey eyes bounce between the other soldiers.

He hesitates only a moment before replying, “Lord Snow” with a slight bow of his head, the other men following suit.

The lord doesn’t respond as he looks between them. When his eyes land back on Jaime, he simply says, “If you and your men will follow me. I believe we have some matters to discuss.” Without another word, he turns and heads to the Great Hall with Ser Davos. When he passes the wolf, Jaime hears him murmur, “Ghost, with me.” Ah, so that’s it’s name. Keeping a respectful distance between themselves and the wolf, they follow Jon.

Jon stops and orders the guards stationed at the door that no one but the queen be allowed inside. Once they’re in, Jaime sees that it’s empty except for five others that Jon Snow and Davos join at the front of the room.

“The queen will be here shortly,” Jon says as he comes to a stop in front of the hearth. His direwolf lays down at the man’s feet as he keeps his red eyes on them.

He recognizes Sansa Stark immediately. The young woman did indeed flower to become a beauty since he last saw her. But there’s a hardness to her now that he can’t ignore as she studies him with an unreadable expression.

“Lady Sansa,” he says with a slight bow, not knowing what else to say or if anything he says will be accepted as honest truth by the red head.

Her expression doesn’t change as she tips her head in acknowledgment and replies, “Ser Jaime.”

Taking his eyes off her, he looks behind her to clash with Brienne’s stare. She arches an eyebrow as she looks him over, taking in the fact that he’s not in any Lannister armor. When she meets his eyes again, he can see the approval in her eyes before she dips her chin ever so slightly and looks away.

At an almost silent gasp, he turns to find the four soldiers from the Twins staring wide eyed at the brunette girl on the right of Sansa who can only be Arya Stark. She in turn smirks at them before turning her grey eyes to him. She too has grown into a very lovely young woman. But where her sister has become hard like stone, she seems to have a wild beauty about her. An untamable, deadly air lingers around her and he knows Arya Stark is the most dangerous out of the four remaining children of Ned and Catelyn.

“Lady Arya, I presume?,” he asks as he once more gives a small bow. He hides his own shock at seeing the younger Stark daughter sitting here, completely unharmed and as though she never vanished without a trace. And even though he had nothing to do with the girls’ return to the North, he feels a small weight taken off his shoulders that Lady Catelyn’s request was fulfilled. She arches a dark brow at him and says, “You would presume correctly, Lannister.”

He blinks back his shock at the casual viciousness the brunette exudes in her words and stance. Deciding not to say anything more, he turns to the boy on the left of Sansa who can only be one person.

He feels trapped as he looks into the Tully blue eyes of Bran Stark. He’s grown up so much since... since Jaime last saw him. Knowing the chair he sits in is because of him, fills Jaime with guilt. Just one more sin come back to haunt him.

“Ser Jaime Lannister,” the young man says in a blank voice.

Clearing his throat, Jaime nods and replies, “Lord Bran.”
“What brings you to the North so soon, Ser Jaime? Are your troops following behind you?,” Jon Snow asks as he stares at Jaime.

Jaime’s eyes flick to the others in the room before straightening his shoulders in preparation for their response. “The Crown’s troops won’t be coming,” he tells him, looking him straight in the eye.

But instead of the shock and anger he’d expected, the man just clenches his jaw and gives a single nod before turning to his half siblings. Sansa meets his eyes with a grim acceptance before looking back at him. His brow furrows as he takes in their reaction. It’s almost as if they knew this was what he was going to tell him. Did someone send word ahead of time?

Before any more can be said, the doors open and in steps Daenerys Targaryen followed by his brother, Lord Varys, Jorah Mormont, and the honey skinned woman who was in the dragon pit.

He glances at Bronn and sees him staring up at the silver queen unblinkingly. It reminds Jaime that while he escaped her dragon’s fire on the battlefield, this is the first time he’s seen the Targaryen up close and in her full glory.

Yes, she’s most certainly stunning beyond measure. Just as he remembered in the dragon pit. But now that he’s standing before her, waiting to be judged, he can’t help but think how much she looks exactly like her mother. As he roams over her delicate features, he can’t find any of Aerys in her. Not in the shape of her face, the deep violet color of her eyes, the silver shade of her hair, nothing. And for that, he’s grateful. Because he’s not been this close to a Targaryen in almost twenty years, not had to look into those purple eyes that can cut a man with just a glance, or even really think of them until Robert started ranting about her. And if he had to be constantly reminded of the king he betrayed whenever he looked upon her, on top of his already guilty conscience, he’s not sure if he’d have been able to ride to her.

He takes solace in the fact that even though Rhaella died, she did so giving birth to the queen standing before him. It had nothing to do with him, his actions, or his family. And maybe... maybe this can be a sort of penance for failing her. For not being able to protect the gentle queen from her insane, brutal husband when he’d take her after he’d burn people. For having to stand outside the doors and listen to her screams and pleas and ignore them.

“Stop! You’re hurting me!”

He quickly pushes the memory away. Now is not the time to dwell on the late Targaryen Queen when he’s standing before the current one. Because while Daenerys Stormborn may not be his queen, he can’t deny that she is one.

Perhaps he could help the daughter when he was unable to help the mother.
If she lets him live that long.
“Ser Jaime Lannister,” the silver haired queen states as she stares at him.

“Is it true?,” she asks, turning to Jon. He gives her a single nod as he keeps his eyes on the soldiers before him.

As with the Starks, the queen and her company aren’t surprised by the news. She looks to her own council before returning her violet eyes back to him.

“Your sister understands what her decision could mean for the realm?,” she asks seriously. Pushing down the guilt of Cersei’s actions, he nods silently.

“And just what does she plan to do should we win against the dead?,” she asks. He glances at Tyrion and when his brother widens his eyes ever so slightly along with a tiny jerk of his chin, he understands he has no choice but to answer.

He looks back at the queen and sighs. “She has hired the Golden Company.”

The queen tilts her head and lets out a small hum. A look he doesn’t recognize passes through her eyes before her expression becomes thoughtful. But when he glances at Tyrion, he sees him staring up at her with narrowed eyes. Obviously his brother understands something about the queen’s unconcerned response that he doesn’t.

The silver queen refocuses her attention on him with such speed and intensity, that he feels his spine stiffen in response.

"Why are you here if your sister does not plan on sending aid?," she asks him.

He swallows and meets her gaze head on.

"I swore an oath to help fight the dead," he tells her honestly.

She arches a brow and her eyes flick to Tyrion before returning to him.

“Have you not broken many of oaths you’ve made? How do I know you will keep this one?,” she asks inquiringly.

But before he can say anything, Brienne steps forward.

“Your Grace, if I may,” she says with a bow before looking up at the Targaryen Queen. She regards Brienne for a moment before nodding.

“You may, Lady Brienne,” the silver queen replies calmly, folding her hands in front of her as she waits for the lady knight to speak.

“Ser Jaime made a promise to Lady Catelyn Stark that he would ensure her daughters were returned safely to the North. After her death, he entrusted me with finding Ladies Sansa and Arya and bringing them home. He went against his sister’s demands of having Lady Sansa brought back to King’s Landing to keep his word to the former Lady Stark,” she says confidently.

Those purple eyes stare into blue for a long time as she searches for the truth before the queen finally dips her chin again.

“I will take that into consideration, Lady Brienne. I thank you for speaking honestly,” she says.

Brienne nods and glances at him before stepping back behind Sansa Stark.

"I have one more question, how do I know this isn’t a ploy and you won't send word back to your sister?," the queen asks as she turns back to him.

"How indeed?," he mutters before sighing. "My sister will see this as a personal betrayal to her, instead of understanding that this about all of us. I am now as much an enemy as you. If not more so," he tells her.

She stares at him for a long time before her eyes again go to Tyrion and his little brother gives a small nod in confirmation that he's telling the truth. But before she can say anything else, a dull voice speaks out.

“He will be needed,” Bran Stark says in an impassive voice.

The queen’s head snaps to the young lord and she stares at him with an intensity that would make a lesser man cower. But he meets her stare head on unflinchingly.

“Is that right?,” she asks in an imperious voice.

He gives a single nod and looks back to Jaime, which makes the entire room follow the boy’s lead and he stills under the scrutiny.

“He was in his armor. With ice at his feet and fire above his head,” he says as his eyes slowly go back to the queen. Jaime’s eyes widen in bewilderment at the statement. What in the seven hells does that mean? And why are all of the others in the room not saying anything?

The two stare silently at each other before the queen lets out a silent breath and replies with, “Very well.”

She then turns to look to Jon Snow who meets her stare with a closed off expression. She raises her brow and Snow looks over the small group as if thinking of how they can best be used.

"Twelve more than we had," he says quietly as he continues to stare at them all.

The silver queen nods again and turns back to Jaime. She straightens her shoulders and somehow manages to look down her nose at him.

"I know that while one voice may speak false, there is truth to be found in many. Therefore, you and your men shall be in no danger from me," she tells him imperiously.

He feels his heart start to slow as he relaxes ever so slightly.

"But," she says looking between him and the Stark siblings, "the choice is ultimately up to the members of House Stark. Winterfell is their home and I will not encroach my decisions on them."

Sansa and Arya's brows raise slightly at the respect given to them. Jon however, is not surprised in the least and nods at her before looking at Bran. "You have no issue with him?," he asks the greenseer.

"I don't," Bran replies with a vacant expression as he stares at Jaime. How someone can have no expression to showcase their emotions or thoughts yet stare so deeply out at the world with so much wisdom was beyond Jaime.

Jon turns to his sisters who look less willing to accept. Grey eyes clash with blue and he holds contact with Sansa, silently telling her to put it aside for now. Her jaw clenches slightly and she lets out a small sigh before barely dipping her chin in acquiescence. He then meets Arya's grey eyes and sees the rage in them but it's quickly extinguished as she too sees Jon's look. She purses her lips before looking back to the elder Lannister brother then meeting his eyes again. She simply arches an eyebrow and taking that as acceptance, Jon gives a small nod and turns back to the men.

"Then your help is welcome," he says to them. He gestures to the servants to bring forward salt and bread which are set in front of the soldiers. After they’re given guest rights, Jaime asks the question that has been nagging him since he started his journey North.

"So, the Others are real?," he asks, looking at the raven haired man.

Jon nods with a grave expression. He turns to Arya and says, “Go get Sam. He needs to explain as well. He’s close by.” She nods and darts out of the room on silent feet. Jaime watches her leave before turning back to Jon.

"What can you tell us?," he asks, wanting to assess everything he can about the enemy they'll soon be facing.

Jon takes a deep breath as he thinks over everything he's witnessed and has been told about them.

"Tall, extremely strong. They can be lightening quick and somehow don't leave tracks in the snow. Their armor is some sort of reflective material, allowing them to blend in perfectly with the woods," he says taking in how Jaime's face slowly loses color. At that moment, Arya comes back in with a very large man in black. His light eyes look between them all before he stands near the Starks.

“Samwell Tarly of the Night’s Watch,” Jon says as he gestures to the portly man.

Jaime and Bronn’s brows raise at hearing the Tarly name and quickly glance at each other then the queen before Jaime clears his throat softly, refocusing on the task at hand.

"Their weapons?," Bronn asks leaning forward.

"They're able to send a cloud of snow and mist before them. That or they follow the mist and snowstorms. The only time they'll come out is when it's dark. They don't seem to particularly favor the light," Jon continues.

“A cave lion? Direwolves? Some bear? Tell me, Jaime. What lives here? What lives in the darkness?," Brienne had asked.

"Doom," he'd answered. No bear, he knew. No lion.

“Only doom."

He begins coughing and looks wide eyed at the table.

Doom.

Yes, it appears his dream self was correct. When he raises his eyes and finds everyone looking at him, he waves them to ignore him and continue.

"They hate fire too. And seem to have an aversion to iron," the large Black brother adds.

"For their actual weapons, they use ice blades," Jon says to the sellsword.

"Ice blades?," Bronn repeats skeptically.

Meeting the man's eyes, Jon says, "They aren't made of normal ice. These blades have some sort of magic in them that allows them to harden into more of a crystal blade. The magic makes them far superior to our own."

“How so?," Jaime asks.

Grey eyes now turn towards him and regard him a moment before answering. "They're almost alive," he says in a serious tone, his face giving nothing away.

"Alive?," Bronn repeats again.

"They glow a faint blue and seem as though they're filled with...," he pinches his lips together as he tries to find the right word. He looks to the Tarly boy for suggestion.

"Always reminded me of moonlight," the Black brother says quietly.

Jon raises his eyebrows and nods in agreement before turning back to Jaime and Bronn. "When they hit swords, it sounds like an animal screaming instead of metal on metal. And the blades don't seem to like fire either because when in contact with flames, a screech as sharp as a needle can be heard," he says.

The hairs on Jaime's neck stand straight up, dread hardening into a solid ball in his stomach the more he hears. "What else?," Jaime asks, knowing this isn't everything.

"They can cut through ring mail like it's silk and can completely shatter normal steel," Jon tells him grimly.

Bronn curses under his breath and rubs his thumb and forefinger under his closed eyes. Jaime's own eyes widen as the ball in his stomach grows.

"And then of course, they can raise the dead. Doesn't matter if they're just bones or newly killed. They can raise animals too," the young man says bluntly.

Bronn sighs and rubs his face, nodding in understanding.

"What can kill them?," Jaime asks.

"Dragonglass and Valyrian steel. Again, it seems to be linked with weapons forged from fire," Jon tells him, his eyes darting down to the blade on Jaime’s side before looking back up to him.

As he picked up the sword, a finger of pale flame flickered at the point and crept along the edge, stopping a hand's breath from the hilt. The fire took on the color of the steel itself so it burned with a silvery blue light, and the gloom pulled back.

Again, his eyes widen as he quickly glances at Brienne.

Brienne's sword took flame as well, burning silvery blue. The darkness retreated a little more.


Was that what his dream was about? It couldn't possibly be.... But still, he can't ignore the fact that they both now have Valyrian swords....

Burned silvery blue....

Made from the melted down blade of Ice.

He decides to think on that later when he’s alone and quickly refocuses on the conversation.

After the others have told the new group everything they can about what they’ll be facing, they split up to continue on with their other duties.

“Your Grace,” Tyrion says, looking to the queen, “if you don’t have any need of me, might I speak with my brother?”

Her eyes flick to Jaime before she returns them to her Hand. “Of course, my lord,” she says with a small nod.

Once they show the other soldiers to their quarters, Jaime and Bronn follow Tyrion to his room. Once inside, Tyrion gestures for them to sit in front of the lit fireplace as he fills three cups of wine, handing one to each before sitting down himself.

"Cersei never planned on sending support did she?," Tyrion asks Jaime.

Looking at his brother, he silently shakes his head. Tyrion lets out a loud sigh and closes his eyes. When he opens them, he looks at Jaime with a resigned expression.

"I can't say I'm too surprised. If she had sent the men, I think the queen might have allowed her to take a ship to the east and live out her days there. But her fate is sealed now. Should we win against the dead, she will die," he tells him straight forward.

Jaime nods grimly. "Yes, that's what I told her."

"I thought being with child would have made her see sense," Tyrion says quietly to himself.

Jaime swallows at the reminder that she's carrying his child and he still left her. But, this is bigger than them and he's never truly been a father before. He may have sired three children but he never raised them. They weren't his.

Still, in her mind, he's committed the ultimate betrayal and chosen Tyrion over her. Not him choosing honor over greed.

He's tired of always failing in some form or another. Ever since Aerys, he's failed. At being a Kingsguard, at being the son his father wanted, at being a true leader, everything. Just once, he wants to achieve some honor before he dies. And if he has to help the daughter of the king he betrayed, so be it. It’s as he thought earlier, this will be his penance for failing Rhaella.
As they all sit quietly, Jaime suddenly remembers something that's been bothering him since the parley.

"Where's the third?," he asks his brother.

Tyrion gives him a grim look and it confirms what he suspected. So instead, he asks, "When?"

Tyrion takes a long drink from his glass before replying. "The group that went to retrieve the wight was ambushed and surrounded. They'd managed to have word sent to the queen so she took her three dragons to save them. And returned with two," Tyrion tells him sadly.

"What kind of weapon was used to bring it down?," Bronn asks.

"To shoot the projectile? As in, did they use something similar to the one you used on Drogon?," Tyrion asks in clarification and is met by a nod from the man.

Tyrion looks even grimmer as he meets his eyes. "They didn't use one." Both men look at him confused for a moment.

"What do you mean?," Jaime asks hesitantly.

"I mean, dear brother, the one called the Night King threw a spear and brought the dragon out of the sky," Tyrion tells him.

He looks at his brother with disbelief but when Tyrion makes no move to say anything more, horror beyond anything Jaime has ever felt washes through him. Jon Snow said they were strong, but this? The strength to not only throw a spear that far into the sky but to be able to pierce the hide of a dragon? And kill it? It's an unfathomable concept to Jaime. How will they have any chance against that?

"Well, we're fucked," Bronn says solemnly, voicing Jaime's thoughts.

"Perhaps," Tyrion agrees.

"Perhaps?," Bronn asks.

Ignoring his question, Tyrion looks to Jaime. "Are there any of the Westerland houses that would answer your call to arms?"

"They're loyal to House Lannister. Which means they're loyal to Cersei," he tells him.

His brother scrutinizes him in that way that always meant he's forming a plan that Jaime can't see.

"True. But who is the one they follow into battle?," Tyrion asks.


Jaime's eyes go wide at that and he shakes his head. "She is the queen, Tyrion! They'll follow her," he tells him forcefully.

Tyrion shrugs unbothered and keeps staring at his older brother.

"How do you know if you won't ask? Who are we to deny them the option of choosing who they want to fight for? They may have been loyal to father but as Cersei has told me, since his...," he looks down and clears his throat. "Since he's been gone, the vultures have torn House Lannister apart. I believe there are houses that would leap at the chance to redeem their standing if they were told how our queen won't hold their past grievances against them. The fact that she allowed you to live is proof," he says.

But the skeptical look Jaime still wears tells him that he needs to explain more.

"Take House Spicer. They've never been in the favor of the other houses due to their heritage. What better way to gain honor than to serve an exiled queen hailed from Essos herself? They did side with the wolves after all. Same with House Hetherspoon being founded by a landed knight. And even though he may not have many men, I'm sure Tybolt would enjoy exacting retribution should he hear of the fact that his poor Melara didn't accidentally fall down that well all those years ago," he says.

Jaime looks at him in confusion and Tyrion rolls his eyes with a scoff.

"Oh, please. Our sweet sister has not been sweet in a very long time. When have you ever heard of a healthy child, who wasn't a simpleton, falling down a well? You know she most likely pushed that girl," he says.

Jaime purses his lips. Yes, deep down he suspected. He'd just never truly cared.

Seeing the concession in his eyes, Tyrion continues, "I think that Lady Alysanne could be persuaded to join us now that she is the head of House Lefford. She would be key. If we accomplish getting her to our side, then the Golden Tooth can be opened and troops can be sent through there across the Riverlands. Although Cersei is queen, she became queen after her children's deaths. Daenerys became queen through conquest. Follow the queen who lost her husband through... convenient circumstances? Whose son started the War of the Five Kings? Who destroyed the Sept of Baelor? Or follow the queen who brought dragons back into the world, freed slaves, has the fiercest and deadliest armies at her back, and put aside her conquest for the Iron Throne to save us all? When looked at in those terms, I find it's a simple choice. Who rode with you when you took Riverrun?," he asks.

"Brax, Marbrand, Estren, and Kenning," Jaime replies quietly.

"Send word to them. If they followed you once, it's possible they'll follow you again," Tyrion says.


Jaime just stares at his brother in awe. Tyrion may have his flaws, but knowing the ways of people aren't one of them.

"What you're suggesting is treason," he says after a moment.

Tyrion gives him a long look before replying, "No, brother. What I’m suggesting is survival. The time has come for the houses to choose. Put aside house strife and fight together or face the dead separately with no hope of winning. Again, it's not that hard of a choice."

When Jaime says nothing, he continues. “If you chose the realm over her, wouldn’t others?,” he asks.

“Perhaps,” Jaime concedes.

Tyrion rubs his eyes as he says, “It’s not just the dragons Westeros will have if we should win. You saw that four of the six Stark pups are alive.”

He opens his eyes to look at Jaime then. “You saw how they’ve grown. And they thirst for retribution.” The ominous tone of his voice has Jaime swallowing and he nods silently.

“I’m surprised you didn’t see dear Littlefinger amongst the shadows when you came,” Tyrion says wryly as he traces the arm of his chair.

Jaime’s brow furrows in confusion. “Littlefinger’s here?,” he asks.

Tyrion looks up at him through his lashes and says, “Not anymore.”

Dropping his hand, he looks between the two men.

“Sansa tried him for treason and murder. Bran was their… witness of sorts to confirm his sister’s accusations against Baelish. Arya the executioner, using his own dagger to slice his throat,” he says blatantly.

Bronn’s eyes widen and he lets out a low whistle.

“Fuck me,” he says quietly.

“What do you mean ‘Bran witnessed it’?,” he asked suspiciously.

“Ah,” Tyrion says as he takes a deep breath. “You obviously noticed his comment earlier,” he states as he tilts his head.

“Yeah. What the fuck was that about?,” Bronn asks.

“Do you remember the stories of the Children of the Forest? How some of them had strange powers and were able to see through time? Of the greenseers, like the ghost of Highheart?,” Tyrion asks

Jaime’s eyes widen as he looks at his brother.

That’s what he is?,” Jaime breathes.

Tyrion nods solemnly as he looks between the two speechless men.

“So, all the more reason to offer the other houses amnesty,” Tyrion tells them.

Jaime’s eyes squint slightly as he becomes lost in thought. Could he really ask the houses to betray Cersei and force them to face her wrath?

With a mental sigh, he knows the answer. Yes. Yes, he could. Because it’s as everyone, including himself, have been saying- if they don’t come together, they will all die. And he’d rather them face Cersei then face the dead. Blinking as he comes back to the present, he looks at his younger brother.

"Will it be enough?," Jaime asks.

"Anything is better than nothing. That they responded at all, shows a sign of good faith at the very least. I don't want to see more houses of the west obliterated in this war. We've lost so many already from Joffrey's idiocy and now Cersei's. You know the Dothraki are unmatched in the open. And anything they use can be turned to ash by the dragons. As I said, they’re very intelligent. Drogon will know to look out for the Scorpions and Rhaegal will follow his lead,” Tyrion tells him before looking to Bronn.

“It would be wise to send word to any sellswords you know. If you didn’t plan on staying in King’s Landing, then they won’t either. If they know the queen will reward any survivors, I think it’s too tempting an offer to refuse,” he says to the dark haired man.

Bronn looks thoughtful for a moment before shrugging. “Might as well,” he says nonchalantly as he leans back in his chair.

Jaime thinks on that before asking, "If any of our bannermen answer, can they make it in time?" Tyrion gives him a smug grin and gets up to lay out parchments, then sets an ink pot and quill down before him on the table. Lastly, he pulls out the Lannister seal and red wax.

"If I write them for you right now and they send their men immediately, then I think they can just make it," he replies confidently.


Shaking his head, Jaime leans back in his chair and they begin.
--------

On their way back from the rookery, they come across the small queen. Tyrion heads right to her without hesitation. He glances at Bronn before following his brother at a much more hesitant pace.

“Your Grace we were just coming to find you,” Tyrion says jovially.

The queen turns and gives her Hand a small quirk of her lips before she glances at Jaime and Bronn behind him.

"Were you?," she asks.

“Yes,” he nods interlacing his fingers together in front of him. “Hypothetically speaking... if by some strange chance, houses from the Westerlands send men to aid in the Great War, what would happen to the lords of said houses?," he asks.

A pale brow rises as she regards her Hand with interest. "Should they come and we survive, I believe negotiations can certainly be arranged. If they are hesitant to come, know they will not be in any danger from me. They are being asked to fight for the realm, not to choose one queen the other... at least not right now," she responds.

Tyrion gives her a wide grin. "Excellent."

"May I inquire how this will be done?," she asks curiously.

"Their battle commander has called them to arms," he replies sweetly.

Now both brows shoot up and she looks at Jaime a moment before returning her attention to Tyrion. "Will they respond when their current queen is of the same house?," she asks.

"Some may not," he concedes, "but there are others who just may if they're given the right incentive. Mutual survival being one of them."

She smirks lightly at her Hand and gives a tiny shake of her head. She then turns those purple orbs back to Jaime and regards him, trapping him in her gaze. As he looks at her, he still can't get over how much she looks like Rhaella. This close, he can even see Rhaegar in her eyes and it makes his heart constrict.

"It appears my Hand has chosen correctly in persuading me to let you live. I hope, for the sake of the realm, they answer," she says before nodding at Tyrion and walking off.

Jaime releases the breath he was holding and looks at his brother who gives him a pleased look.

"That went well," he says unbothered.

"Gods, only you would work so well with her,” Bronn says quietly with a shake of his head.

"Yes, she's quite unsettling to say the least," Tyrion concedes as he begins walking towards the castle.

Jaime hums in affirmation and looks around as he follows Tyrion. He can see the new stone and wood in some places as well as old burns on the walls. But, regardless of the signs of its time of downfall to the hands of the Boltons, it was still as he remembered it. When the courtyard is covered in darkness, they all look skywards to find the dragons flying down towards them.

"Is it just me or did the black one get bigger?," Bronn asks, his eyes trained on the creatures as the larger one releases a terrible roar.

"Scared?," Jaime asks sarcastically as his eyes remain glued to the giant beasts.

"Maybe it won't recognize me," Bronn suggests.

"Oh no, he will. They're extremely intelligent," Tyrion says wryly.

Bronn gives him a look before turning back to the dragons when they fly right above the castle, close enough that they all feel the hot wave of air. But they race back into the sky and fly off into the distance.

"All I wanted was a castle," he mumbles under his breath.

Tyrion looks at the sellsword thoughtfully and says, “If we survive the dead and you prove yourself, I’m quite certain the queen will grant you one. More and more keep emptying.”

Bronn gives him a look that shows he doesn’t believe him and says, “I’m going to go find what’s around here. I need a break from you Lannisters,” walking off without another word.

“You’ll find what you’re looking for in the winter town,” Tyrion calls after him. Turning back to Jaime, he asks, “Shall we continue on? I’d like to discuss some things in private.”

He nods silently and they make their way to his rooms. As they pass through the training yard, he catches a flash of black hair and sees a young man facing off with Arya Stark. He’d not have cared had it not been for the war hammer he swings and when the man turns, Jaime stops dead in his tracks. He feels like he was looking at a ghost.
Tyrion glances back and sees that he’s staring at the pair in wide eyed disbelief, he turns back to stand next to him.

“Ah,” Tyrion comments lightly, “I see you recognize Gendry Waters, Robert’s only remaining son.”

Jaime’s eyes swing to his brother and he can only gape like a fish as he processes Tyrion’s words. He wants to deny it, that Robert’s bastards were all put to the sword years ago, but he has the proof right in front of him. Looking back at the man, Jaime wonders if the bastard was told his father wielded a war hammer as well.

“Where was he?,” he asks curiously.

“Born in Flea Bottom and worked as a blacksmith apprentice. He left when Lady Arya did, apparently heading to the Wall,” Tyrion says with a snort. “As you can see, he didn’t make it that far.”

“The queen knows?,” he asks, not taking his eyes off the sparring pair.

Tyrion hums in affirmation. “Naturally, she was suspicious at first, but Ser Davos confirmed his parentage. The young man pleaded his case before her, swore he would not follow in his father’s footsteps and that he’d be useful with forging the weapons. She agreed and in turn, swore she would not spill the blood of her kin if his loyalty was as true to her as Orys’s was to Aegon’s.”

Jaime’s brow shoots to his hairline and looks down at him in surprise.

Tyrion nods as he smirks in amusement at the memory. “That’s pretty much the same reaction the poor boy had when hearing he was distantly related to the queen,” Tyrion says wryly.

“Huh,” Jaime says, unable to form a proper response as he thinks over it all. After a moment, Tyrion clears his throat and gestures for them to keep going. But Jaime catches a glimpse of Brienne on the other side of the yard and looks down at Tyrion.

“I’ll meet you there,” he tells him before heading towards the lady knight. She’s so engrossed in watching her squire, the Payne boy, fight against the Hound that she doesn’t notice him approach. He steps next to her and calmly says, “Well, it appears that once again, you were right.”

She turns her head quickly and upon realizing who’s standing next to her, looks at him with an arched brow.

“What was I right about this time?,” she asks.

Fuck loyalty,” he says with a smirk as he continues to watch the yard.

She gives him a slightly amused look and nods.

“I’m glad you took my advice. It’s just a shame your queen didn’t,” she replies, her eyes bouncing from him to her squire.

“Speaking of queens,” he says turning so that he’s facing her, “what do you make of yours?”

She narrows her eyes slightly before saying, “To be clear, I serve Lady Sansa.”

He waves her declaration aside and says, “Yes, but House Stark bent the knee to her. Therefore, she is your queen.”

She purses her lips in thought and turns back to watch the Hound easily deflect the Payne boy’s blow as she thinks on his question. “From the few times I have been in her presence, I’ve not had any reasons to doubt her sanity or her motives. She can be... quite intimidating,” she says after a time, remembering the way she’d handled the Northern lords. The air of power she radiated from her small figure was impressive and a force of its own. Even she felt the urge to cow in supplication to Daenerys Stormborn. Then add the dragons... well, Brienne could understand how she was able to conquer almost all of Essos.

“Well, that’s not surprising in the least,” Jaime says sarcastically. “I have met her twice now and have been judged by her.”

She shrugs a shoulder and glances at him. “Then you have your answer. She listened to what was told about you, took a calculated risk, and here you stand,” she says calmly.

He squints his eyes at her before shrugging himself and giving a nod of agreement. He studies the way the Hound and the squire move around each other as Clegane starts barking orders at the lad, not giving him a moment’s reprieve.

“I wouldn’t have faulted her if she had decided to simply kill me,” he tells her quietly.

“She saw the value of keeping you alive over past actions,” Brienne states. “I suppose that’s the difference between your queen and... mine.” She looks at him from the corner of her as if expecting him to argue.

But he just sighs and shrugs a shoulder as he keeps his eyes on Clegane who’s now full out yelling at the Payne boy before swinging his sword at him with enough force that the boy goes down.

Truth be told, she’s right. What Cersei did was wrong on so many levels and he can’t, in good conscience, defend her this time. She should have done what Daenerys did and put the damn iron throne to the side and think of the realm.

Before any more can be said, Clegane helps the panting squire off the ground and walks to where he and Brienne are standing. He takes a moment to take in the Hound and smirks at the odds of both of them being here in the North of their own volition.

“Surprised you’re still alive, Lannister. Much less here,” Clegane says as he comes to a stop in front of them, the Payne boy coming to stand next to Brienne.

“Funny,” Jaime says wryly, “I was just thinking the same of you, Hound.”

Clegane sheathes his sword before crossing his arms and studying Jaime. “That Valyrian steel?,” he asks, jutting his chin towards Widow’s Wail.

“It is,” Jaime replies casually.

Clegane smirks and his eyes flick to Jaime’s hands before asking, “You gonna be able to use it?”

Brienne shoots the man a hard look at his brash words but remains silent. The squire just looks from all three of the seasoned warriors as if this was an encounter he’ll need to remember.

“Only one way to find out, isn’t there?,” Jaime replies with a sardonic smile as his eyes narrow at the Hound.

Clegane just snorts and gestures to the training yard. “How about now, Lannister?,” he asks sarcastically. Jaime purses his lips in thought. That actually would be a good idea... but his eyes dart to the guest quarters and he lets out a small sigh as he turns back to the Hound.

“Tomorrow,” he says with a smirk. “Right now, I must speak with my brother. But I think it’d do me good to face off with you, Clegane. Especially if what Jon Snow says is true about the strength of the Others,” he finishes with a calculating look.

Clegane raises an amused brow at him, but relents with a nod and a shrug before turning and walking off without another word. Jaime dips his chin to Brienne and goes off to find Tyrion.

When he gets to the room, he finds his brother reading in front of the fire. He closes the door behind him and settles into the chair next to him.

“What did you want to discuss?,” he asks curiously.

Putting the book away, Tyrion stares at him for a moment before asking, “Why were you so nervous around Bran Stark?”

He stiffens ever so slightly and his brother’s eyes narrow at the movement.
“What aren’t you telling me?,” Tyrion asks.

He takes a deep breath and meets the mismatched gaze of his younger brother.

“Bran Stark... didn’t... accidentally fall from that tower,” he mutters, his eyes dropping to the ground in shame.

Tyrion didn’t say anything for a long time until finally, he let out a quiet, “I see.”

Jaime clenched his hand in as yet another memory of his past failures swamps him. But his younger brother’s voice snaps him back to the present.

“May I ask the reason?”

Jaime sighs and looks back up at him and quietly says, “He saw me with Cersei.”

He watches Tyrion sigh and lean back in his chair. For some reason, waiting to hear what his brother will say sets Jaime on edge because he’s not sure what the response will be.

“Well... it can’t be changed now and Bran doesn’t hold it against you,” he shrugs.

“Besides, who am I to judge you when I have committed worse crimes?”

Now it’s Tyrion’s turn to look down and Jaime understands what crime he’s referring to. He realizes then that he never actually took the time to ask him why he killed father.

“Why’d you do it?,” he asks quietly.

Tyrion’s eyes snap up to his and he searches his for something. He must have found it because he sighs before reaching over to drain his wine.

“You remember Shae?,” he asks quietly.

Jaime thinks back to the trial and the dark haired whore who spoke against Tyrion. He remembers the hurt and betrayal on Tyrion’s face at her words. When he gives a silent nod, Tyrion continues.

“When I was freed, I went to father’s room. I don’t know what I was going to do when I confronted him but I went anyways,” his voice becomes quieter as he refills his wine.

“Only, he wasn’t there. But... Shae was.”

Jaime gapes at Tyrion in disbelief. Their father had a whore in his bed? The man who openly resented such women and had, never to his knowledge, engaged with them? Why had he not heard of this? Did Cersei have it covered up? He’d have thought Tyrion was lying if not for the heartbroken look on his face.

“I suppose I found one of the places where whores go,” Tyrion says darkly as he swirls his wine.

“What happened?,” he asks quietly.

Tyrion bites his lip and gives him a one shoulder shrug.

“We fought. I lived... she didn’t,” he says quietly. Looking up at Jaime, he says, “You know what happened after.”

He stares dumbfounded at his brother for a long time as guilt and sadness war in his heart. He’s honestly not that surprised that their father would do something like that. After what he did to the Tysha girl that Tyrion had married, this was lenient. But the longer he goes without saying anything as he works it all out in his mind, the more Tyrion starts to hunch his shoulders and retreat into himself.

It shocks Jaime that Tyrion still seeks his approval and hurts that his little brother so obviously expects his hate and to throw him away. The thought makes him shake his head slightly. If only he knew that Jaime needed him just as much. Because despite everything that has gone wrong between them, Tyrion has always been the only one who has loved Jaime for him. Not his skill with a sword, not the promise of greatness for their family name, and not expecting him to be the other half without receiving just as much as he gives. Just someone who looks up to his older brother like he hung the moon and loves him no matter what.

A smile tugs at his lips but he hides it as he clears his throat, regaining Tyrion’s attention.

“Kinslayers and kingslayers. Noseless and handless,” he says in mock seriousness while he raises his wine glass in toast. “The Lannister boys.”

Tyrion stares at him for a long time, seeing the amusement in his eyes and the smirk on his lips.

He finally snorts at Jaime’s add on to his original comment about them before his trial. His snort quickly turns into a laugh and soon he’s bent at the waist in hysterics. Jaime can no longer hold in his own amusement and joins his brother. He has no idea why they’re laughing but he knows it’s not the jovial kind. It’s the desperate kind that a person has when they’re faced with the hard truth of their reality and can either laugh in the face of it or burst into tears. After they’ve calmed down, Jaime lets out a sigh.

“But in regards to the other houses, I do hope they come,” he says quietly.

"So do I. With the rise of the Targaryens, they'll want to remain in their good graces," Tyrion replies casually.

Jaime's brow furrows. "Targaryen," he says, emphasizing the singular name.

Tyrion's eyes cut to him and he thinks for a few moments before heaving a sigh as he drags his hand down his face.

"You'll hear of it anyways, so I don't see the problem with telling you now. Besides, I know how much you enjoy to gossip like an old crone," Tyrion says to him.

After receiving a droll look from Jaime, he shrugs. "Or perhaps that's me. I'm not sure anymore...," he says, drifting off in thought.

"Tyrion," Jaime says exasperated.

Snapping his eyes back to his older brother, he shakes his head.

"No, brother. Targaryens." he says emphasizing the plural form.

Jaime stares at him wide eyed and shakes his head in disagreement.

"No, that's not possible. There are none left," he says, but Tyrion nods his head.

"There is. One of Rhaegar's children survived," he says quietly.

Staring at his brother in bewilderment, Jaime's heart rate picks up as he remembers the small bodies wrapped in crimson cloth. The way he could see the little princess's black hair falling out of her wrappings. The infant hand of the prince.

Prince Rhaegar burned with a cold light, now white, now red, now dark.

“I left my wife and children in your hands.”

“I never thought he’d hurt them.” Jaime’s sword was burning less brightly now. “I was with the king . . .”

Shaking his head, he shoves the dream and memory away as his stomach rolls.

"No. I saw what father did, Tyrion. I saw the bodies," he says forcefully.

"He had a child with Lyanna Stark, Jaime," he says, watching his brother with a closed off expression.

Jaime stutters as he stares at Tyrion as if he had two heads or had told him he's actually a Targaryen himself.

"What?," he breathes in disbelief.

Tyrion nods silently.

"Who?," he demands.

His brother takes a long drink from his wine before locking eyes with him again. "Jon Snow."

Jaime falls back into his chair as if he'd been hit by The Mountain and just stares open mouthed at Tyrion for a long time as his mind processes what he's just been told.

“How did you come across this?,” he finally asks.

He sees the way Tyrion’s eyes squint slightly before he says, “Bran Stark informed them. But apparently, Howland Reed was there when Ned Stark brought the babe down from the tower Lyanna died. And there’s proof from High Septon Maynard that he married Rhaegar to Lyanna.”

He rubs his eyes and shakes his head silently as it all begins to make sense.

"Gods.... So Ned Stark really did die a perfectly honorable man. More so, now that the real truth is out," he says quietly, dropping his hand to look at his brother.

Tyrion's brow quirks at that and he gives a thoughtful nod. "I suppose he did. It was quite a brilliant plan. But only because Jon took after his mother.”

“So… he’s actually Jon… Targaryen?,” Jaime asks with a tilt of his head as he looks at Tyrion incredulously.

Tyrion rubs his temple with his free hand as he shakes his head.

“No. Apparently, it’s Aegon,” he replies skeptically.

“Wait, what?,” Jaime asks.

Tyrion shrugs and lets out a sigh. “I don’t understand it either. I’m guessing Lyanna named him on her own,” he says in a tired voice.

They sit in silence, lost in their own thoughts before Jaime looks at Tyrion.

“Will we have another Dance should we win against the dead?,” Jaime asks curiously.

“No. Jon doesn’t want the throne. He’s assured both myself and the queen that the Seven Kingdoms are hers,” Tyrion replies confidently.

"Still, I'm assuming your queen was not pleased," he says.

Tyrion's lips pinch slightly before he looks at Jaime.

"Actually, she was relieved to know she is no longer the last Targaryen. It was Jon who was not pleased. Not that I can blame him, but it shouldn't interfere with this war," he says slightly unconvinced.

Jaime’s eyes narrow at his brother’s tone and he asks, “If he has claimed her as queen then why do you sound unsure?”

Tyrion sets down his wine and looks at Jaime. “You have the queen,” he says, holding up one hand, “strong, honest and undoubtedly the most beautiful woman any of us has seen. That alone has caused men to bow to her will. Now add the fact that she’s come to save us all from certain death.”

“Then you have Jon Snow,” holding up his other hand, “a fierce, self sacrificing warrior, noble in his cause to also save Westeros without wanting anything for himself and a handsome young man.” He puts his hands together and asks, “What do you think happens when those two forces meet?”

Jaime looks from Tyrion’s joined hands to his eyes. Seeing the look in his brother’s eyes, his brow shoots to his hairline and simply says, “ah” as he nods in understanding.

His brother leans back in his chair and rubs his eyes as if he’s trying to stave off an impending headache.

Jaime rubs the back of his neck as he tries to think of something to say to his brother. He couldn’t imagine the position Tyrion’s been put in but it could be worse. They could be facing a new dance along with the war for Westeros.

“Let’s focus on the dead first then,” he says kindly.

Tyrion nods and looks out the window, noticing that it’s become dark. Turning back to Jaime, he asks, “It appears we may have missed the evening meal. Shall we go find some food? Or would you rather rest?”

He’d much rather just fall into his bed, but he knows it would be smarter to eat first.

“Food would be the wiser choice. I’d rather not risk trying to find some later,” he replies ruefully.

Nodding, Tyrion gets up and they head out to the Great Hall. Thankfully, there’s still food out from the evening meal and so they both quickly tuck into it before the servants take it away.

When he gets back to his room, he discards his layers and weapons and throws a couple of more logs into the fire before falling into the bed. Thankfully, sleep takes him the instant his head hits the pillow.
-------

He stands in front of Rhaegar. The Crown Prince is dressed in the armor he died in but instead of sitting on his black destrier stallion, he holds two children in his arms. A boy with raven hair in his left and a girl with silver in his right.

All six of his past brothers stand in a semi circle around the prince.

“Protect them, Ser Jaime,” Rhaegar tells him as he offers the children to him. “They’re all I have left.”

“I can’t,” he says, shaking his head. He tries to step away, but Willem Darry is suddenly behind him, blocking his path.

“You can and you will,” Arthur Dayne demands, his voice hard as steel. Rhaegar looks down at the girl and smiles softly before looking back at him.

“She is not my father,” he says, handing her to him first.

Jaime reluctantly takes the small child and belatedly realizes he has both of his hands as he holds her. He stares at her in bewilderment before dragging his attention back to the man in front of him. He watches as Rhaegar now looks at the boy with a tenderness that only a parent could know.

“And he... he is not me,” Rhaegar whispers before handing the boy to him.

Once the child is out of his arms, Rhaegar’s stance turns to one of a general.

“Protect the king,” Oswell Whent says.

“Protect the queen,” Selmy tells him as he looks intently at the small girl.

“Keep them safe,” Gerold Hightower commands.

“Cersei is queen,” he says in a desperate attempt to get away from this responsibility.

“Her time is at its end,” Lewyn Martell replies with a sneer.

“A storm is coming for her. It cannot be stopped,” Darry tells him, his voice ringing with finality.

“We did as we swore,” Dayne says as he stares at the boy, “we died protecting the prince.”

When his eyes snap to Jaime, he says, “He is king now. And we cannot keep him safe. Now do as you swore.”

“Do not fail this king as you did the last,” Hightower tells him.

“I’m not a Kingsguard anymore!,” he yells at them.

“But a knight you remain,” Selmy says with a hard stare.

They begin to slowly step back until they could no longer be seen. He turns pleading eyes to Rhaegar but the prince shakes his head.

“Prove to me you are the knight I once knew and protect them. The way you did not for my Aegon and Rhaenys,” he says as he begins to disappear.

“They are the song of ice and fire. And they will change this world for the better.”

Before Jaime can call out, the roar of dragons mixed with the howl of wolves, fill his ears.

He wakes with a start, breathing hard and covered in sweat. He sits up and throws the furs off as he stands to pace before the dying fire, going over his strange dream.

Granted, Rhaegar’s only living child is not a child anymore. He’s a man grown and a seasoned warrior at that. Besides, Jaime has broken oath after oath ever since Aerys. What’s one more?

But even as he thinks of all the reasons he doesn’t need to worry about such things, he can feel the weight of that oath he made long ago begin to settle around him like phantom lengths of silk. Though the weight of it is not unbearable like those of a chain, giving him the option to decline the chance to fulfill it, the oath is still strong.

Jon Snow doesn’t need a one handed warrior who could only offer a sword that just so happened to be forged from the one that belonged to his mother’s house. A knight who watched as one of the man’s grandfathers killed the other and uncle before he himself killed that grandfather. Who had to witness the ruin of his father and aunt’s house and the beheading of his other uncle who was actually thought to be his father. A knight whose father was the main cause in the ruin of his mother’s house as well. The thoughts of just how connected his own family is to the destruction of Jon Snow’s make him wince, so he pushes it away. 

Although... he has other skills. He’s competent enough to strategize well. He even bested Tyrion with Casterly Rock, which is no small feat when it comes to his little brother. He could help command as well since Daenerys will probably be in the air on her black dragon.

The phantom silk begins to wrap around his limbs, tightening itself and becoming a second skin as it ties off the ends in knots that could never be undone.

Keep them safe.

Jon Snow doesn’t need protection. And he surely wouldn’t accept it either. Neither would Daenerys for that matter.

But, he swore an oath.

Chapter Text

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.

To lead.

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.

 

Chapter Text

He doesn't know what to do.

He was so sure in who he was and where he came from that he's now unable to process his next step.

But, he slowly begins to accept it. Arya told him that even though Ned Stark wasn't his father by blood, he was in the ways that counted. She constantly reminds him that family didn't end in blood.

He's still Jon Snow, that much he knows at least. He's quite sure he will never be able to be Aegon Targaryen.

Which is ironic since, as a child, he wanted nothing more than to be a true born son. But now that he actually is a true born son, he wants nothing more than to be a bastard again.

He remembers how he used to dream of wanting to be like King Daeron Targaryen and lead men to glory. To be a conqueror. Again, the irony isn’t lost on him as his dream has somehow managed to come true. But instead of leading men to glory, he’s leading them to their possible doom. And Daenerys is more of a conqueror than he could ever hope to be.

He doesn't want the Iron Throne. He will never want that damned chair. It's not for him. It's for Daenerys. She is the true ruler of Westeros and he won't let anyone convince him otherwise.

He hates that he can't look at Daenerys without feeling conflicted. He’s tried to speak with her again, but every time, he stumbles over his words and isn’t able to tell her what he really wants to say. So, he eventually gave up. It is a physical pain as his emotions run amuck, and after his failed attempts of explaining his reasons to her, he simply chooses not to look at her at all while he sorts out his feelings.

And therein lies the problem, because he doesn't feel any differently towards her. He doesn't see her as family the way he does Sansa and Arya. He didn't grow up with her. They came together and learned about each other as strangers. He only knew that she and her brother had escaped during the rebellion. And until the raven came bearing her summons, he had never given her a second thought.

But her hold on the kingdoms is tentative right now and if she has him by her side, it may fall apart before it was able to begin.

However, when his eyes seek her out of their own accord, he can't help but notice how she changes back to the way she was when he first met her. No easy smiles grace her features. Should one appear, it's only out of politeness. A small quirk of her lips that doesn't reach her eyes. The fire in those purple eyes seems to have dimmed. Dark circles appear underneath them and her aura isn't as blinding as he's used to it being.

Though as more of her bannermen arrived, she slowly came back to life.

When they do speak, it's formal and stiff. At least, it is on his part. He doesn't know how to act around her anymore and it's a struggle to remain simply formal. She does a much better job at acting as though nothing is wrong. Her posture and tone show no signs of discomfort and her eyes are always unreadable. But as soon as the meetings have concluded, one of her advisors immediately whisks her away for one reason or another. Missandei always places herself between them so that Daenerys won't have to look at him. Or perhaps so she won't feel him watching her. Jorah follows her like a shadow and is always murmuring advice to her that she seems to accept more easily than before.

He tries to not take it personally but it’s proven difficult as the days drag on. He eventually gives up on speaking unless it’s absolutely necessary.

He keeps himself busy with battle plans and making sure they have the necessary supplies, armor, and weapons. He seeks out every piece of information he can find about the townspeople. He's even talked to Jaime Lannister about what he would do in certain scenarios. And where he'd place his men. He can't deny that the man is good at what he does.

He finds time to talk to the southorn lords. Thankfully, none have brought up his heritage.

He helps train in the yard, telling commanders what to expect when fighting the dead. Helping them build up their stamina so they can fight longer. He practices with the more experienced fighters; the older lords giving him advice on ways to better angle his body during battle. He practices with Arya to become swifter on his feet and more agile in his upper body. He practices with the Hound and Brienne for their strength. Then Bronn because he doesn't fight clean and it helps him stay more alert. He practices until he knows he'll be so tired, he'll fall asleep without dreaming of frightening blue eyes or heartbroken violet ones.

Or worse. Both.
--

The Night King walks through the field of corpses, thousands of dead men and horses beneath his feet. As he passes, the corpses rise again and follow him silently.

He comes upon a wounded Daenerys kneeling on the scorched earth in front of the still body of Drogon as her own blood stains her clothes. The wound steams in the cold as the Night King comes closer until he stops just in front of her.

Instead of piercing her with his sword of ice and magic, old, ancient magic, the king tilts his head and watches her. When she slowly lifts her own head, he holds her gaze for a moment then silently reaches out to touch his fingers to her cheek. Jon screams at her to pull away, don’t let the him touch her. He tries desperately to go to her, to save her, but he can't move, his body locked to the ground where he knelt.

He continues screaming as she stills completely at the contact before her body relaxes and she slowly rises. The Night King gives her a small smile then speaks to her in a foreign tongue as his eyes cut to Jon. She turns with a blank expression and walks to him. He can feel the tears freezing on his skin as he beholds what was once Daenerys Stormborn.

He wants to look away, but he’s unable to as he desperately searches for any sign of the woman he loves. Her features are sharper, more gaunt, and her skin is as white as the snow on the ground. She looks monochromatic with the lightness of her hair. Where there was once fire that blazed in those purple eyes, now only the coldest ice looks out at him from the glowing blue depths. When her own hand rests on his face, she's colder than anything he's ever felt, yet he stills leans into her touch. The knowledge that he’s completely failed her, failed Westeros, becomes too much and his eyes close as a choked sob escapes him.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispers brokenly.

He opens them again when he feels her cup his face and she gives him a haunting smile, filling him with despair as his heart completely shatters. She watches her fingers as they slowly trace his cheek before her eyes come back to his. She leans down so that they’re eye level and murmurs something to him. Her breath brushes across his face like the arctic wind, causing his own breath to catch due to the numbing cold. The sounds coming from her mouth remind him of small icicles breaking against each other and even though his ears don't understand, a soft voice, similar to a breeze blowing through dead leaves, flows through his mind.

"Come with me."

Always, he wakes up with a scream in his throat that’s ready to be released and his body cold. The first few times he dreamt it, he instinctively reached out for her to reassure himself it was a nightmare, only to find the spot next to him cold and empty. Each time, he panicked and then had to remind himself why she wasn't there. Because he pushed her away and now he has no idea how to make it right.

Thankfully, Ghost is there and Jon will reach down to where the direwolf sleeps next to him on the floor since he’s now too big for the bed. Feeling his soft fur and hot body helps chase away the nightmares.

--

Despite the horrors that plague his dreams, his days and thoughts are full of the impending war and soon the rhythms of command settles back over him.

He tries to do as he promised Tyrion and not let his feelings dissuade the northern lords from trusting the charismatic dragon queen. And it appears to have worked when she begins to eat at different tables during the meals, talking with different lords and ladies.

Her bannermen crowd around her, eager to have one of her lovely smiles be directed at them as they tell their tales of all the deeds of their houses during the Rebellion, how they've always secretly been loyal to House Targaryen. Some of the sons of the older Northern lords begin to openly take interest in her and he’ll catch the way their eyes follow her with a dark hunger. Aurane Waters especially seems to have taken a particular interest in her as he always seems to be nearby.

He hates it.

Every time he witnesses it, he feels jealousy course through him and it takes everything in him to not grab her up and take her away from them. Even though he can tell that her laughs are hollow at times and that she's simply reacting how they want her to, she stays. And he can't do anything about it. She doesn't belong to him. So, he's forced to watch it all in silence.

It makes him even angrier to know that she's with them because she can't be near him. He can't blame her. He knows he's been avoiding her and so it's only reasonable that she seeks solace where she can.

Once the Northern lords began noticing the formality and lack of the romantic undertones between the two of them, some approach him with marriage requests between their daughters or granddaughters. But he kept saying the same thing to all of them- that they all have to survive this war before such things can be evaluated. Though in reality, he will never accept their offers even if he does somehow manage to survive.

When the offers first began, he noticed how her shoulders would tense at the mention and a part of him deep down was relieved. It was cruel to feel that way, but it at least let him know she cared. He wanted to grab her by the shoulders and tell her that he'd never want a such thing. He was only pretending to consider the idea because Sansa had told him to so as not to insult anyone. That she must realize that.

But soon she began to display no reaction when he was bombarded with the requests. She would just continue talking to whichever lord or lady she was with and he would have to graciously turn down the offer. That hurt more than it should have and it made him even angrier at himself.

When the Free Folk arrived, they were surprised when they first saw the dragons. But not nearly as shocked as the other people, having seen many strange creatures beyond the Wall. The first thing he did when they came was make sure they understood they weren’t to stir up any trouble. If people throw insults at them, they were to ignore it. There was to be no fighting amongst them and the other armies.

When he told Val, she scoffed and then stepped towards him. She gave him a beautiful smile and ran her hand down his arm, sweetly asking, "Not even a little bit? What if they deserve it?”

As he'd looked at her, he recalled his time at the Wall and how he had always thought Val could turn heads in any court across the world, even without smiling. But since he met Daenerys, Val paled in comparison in his opinion. He knew she was trying to make him uncomfortable and couldn't help the smirk that formed at how her question reminded him of when she'd offered for him to come to her bed and she'd be happy to geld him.

“No, Val. We need all the fighters we can get. You know that,” he responded.

But it immediately fell when he caught sight of Daenerys walking through the camp. Worse, she saw them and looked between the two suspiciously when Val turned around to see what he was staring at. He watched as her violet eyes narrowed when she saw Val's hand on his arm and shot so much purple fire at the wildling woman, Val immediately dropped the offending limb. But before he could say anything, she regained her composure, her eyes going completely blank, spun on her heel and walked away. That was when she began to ignore him.

---

As soon as he heard that the townspeople had been noticing a mysterious cloaked lady walking through the market, he knew it was her. Of course he noticed how she'd be absent for hours and none of her bannermen could give an exact answer as to her whereabouts. Some would say she was with her dragons while others would say she was with her advisors.

He decides to follow her one day, keeping to the shadows and hiding his own face underneath his cloak. He leans against a pole under the awning of one of the tents and watches as she walks through the snowy market of the winter town, stopping to talk with a baker as he offers her bread. She laughs under her cloak and takes the offered piece. She says something that causes the baker to smile brightly then gives the man a coin and moves on.

Even hooded and cloaked, she demands attention. She has a way about her that captivates a person and draws them in. Eyes follow her wherever she goes, mesmerized by the cloaked woman.

Some children run around her feet and she bends down to murmur to them. The children look at her with awed smiles before they run off and continue their game.

"She quite charming,isn’t she?" a lazy drawl asks from behind him. His shoulders stiffen slightly at being found, but he can’t find it in himself to be too bothered about it.

"Can I help you with something?" he asks, not taking his eyes off the cloaked queen as she's shown a dark piece of fabric by an elderly seamstress.

"Simply making sure you don't do anything foolish," Arya says as she silently walks up to join him.

"I'm not," he assures her as his eyes track Daenerys amongst the crowd. When she disappears, he pushes off the pole and begins to weave through the bodies, Arya right behind him.

"So, are you going do this all day then?" she asks lightly, unable to hide the slight amusement she feels at watching her brother follow the queen as though he was a pup.

"If something happens to her, who do you think will suffer the consequences?" he asks. His eyes land on Daenerys at a stall looking at leathers. She holds up certain ones that the tanner points to, her hooded head occasionally nodding to whatever was being told to her.

"Yes... because that's why you're following her," she says dryly. She knows what her brother is really doing. It’s become quite obvious to many now what the two felt for each other now that they're separated. Both have lost the spark in their eyes and Jon has become much quicker to anger.

Jon, however, doesn't rise to the accusation the way he knows Arya wants him to. He just crosses his arms as he settles himself in the shadows again. He honestly doesn't know why he's following her. Maybe it's because watching her interact with his people warms something in him. The fact that she's even out here, walking amongst them, not wanting to draw attention to herself is something he's never seen a lord or lady do, much less a queen.

He knows covering herself is mostly for her safety but he's sure the other part is that it allows her to feel anonymous and act more herself. When he'd brought up his concerns with Jorah, the knight told him of how she would love to walk among the markets of Vaes Dothrak and see all of the different goods and people. Grey Worm even stated how she walked among the sick outside the walls of Meereen to tend to them. So, he's not that surprised to see her amongst the people here.

When Arya realizes he's not going to answer, she sighs beside him and leans against the wall of the ale house.

"But, truly," Arya continues, watching Daenerys with interest as well, her head cocked to the side in thought, "she is different. Not what I expected."

"No," Jon agrees quietly as he sees Daenerys move on to a stall that sells candied fruits, "she's not like anyone else."

Arya looks at him for a moment when she hears the wistful tone in his voice. She can see the sadness mixed with longing on his hooded face. But she says nothing and turns back to watch the queen clap her hands together in excitement and point to a few of the items, the shop owner laughing at whatever she said.

As Jon continues to observe her speak with the sweets owner, he sees how her body goes slightly still and she begins to subtly look around her, obviously feeling the weight of his and Arya's stares. But before she can fully turn towards them, she gets sidetracked as the man tells her something else. Even though he feels slightly bad for causing her worry, he’s actually glad to know that she’s aware enough of her surroundings to realize she’s being watched.

What surprises him is how the sweets owner begins looking around as well, as if searching for the source of her discomfort. The man subtly shifts towards her and murmurs something as his eyes keep scanning. Daenerys pulls her hood down to cover more of her face as she continues trying the offered sweets. When the owner sees nothing, he turns back and gives her a smile.

His eyes widen in shock at the scene before him. He glances at Arya and sees her watching with a raised brow. She turns to him with an intrigued expression before looking back.

"Do you think she realizes that the winter town is protected enough that she could walk without her hood?" Arya asks curiously.

"I'm sure she does. But she has lived under the eye of assassins throughout her life. And if remaining hidden is what she prefers, then so be it. I’d rather her be more cautious because we don’t know for sure if it is, Arya," he responds, watching as she pops one of the treats into her mouth and nods vigorously in approval.

Just as Arya opens her mouth to no doubt give him some sort of smart retort, the market is covered in shadow and a warm wind passes through, causing everyone to look up at the sight of Drogon flying low overhead. He sees how Daenerys tenses when she finds the dragon looking down right at her before he continues on. She glances around while murmurs pass quietly throughout the crowd, none seeming to notice Drogon spotting his rider amongst them. Children try running after the dragon but are unable to catch up. Jon feels warmth in his chest at seeing such a reaction from the people.

When the dragon is out of sight, a small brown haired girl of about two begins to cry, saying how she wants the "draggy" to come back. The mother picks her child up and tries to console her to no avail.

He watches Daenerys as she looks at the child for a moment. She then tips her head back slightly and stands perfectly still. He knows exactly what she's doing and heat rushes through him as he stares in wonder at this queen who is only happy to abide by the pleas of a stranger's child. His gaze flicks to Arya and finds she's staring intently at her as well, wondering what she's up to.

A piercing cry echoes through the air as the black beast comes back and flies over them a second time. Once again, everyone watches as it dips even lower before it takes off back into the snowy sky.

The child, her tears now dry, screams her delight. When Drogon begins to pass out of sight again, she waves up at the dragon. Her mother laughs and begins joining her child in saying goodbye. Daenerys looks at the mother and child then her head turns to see the reactions of the others, no one minds the dragon's appearance and the people closest to the happy girl smile at her reaction.

"Huh," Arya says, apparently as speechless as he is about what just happened, "that was interesting."

Again, he doesn't answer. He's too caught up in his thoughts. He can only imagine what Daenerys is feeling right now. But he knows she must be beyond happy to know her dragons are viewed with such appreciation. He wishes her face was in full view so he could at least witness the wide smile she's sure to be wearing and watch her eyes sparkle like newly shined gems. More than that, he wishes that he was next to her to see it all play out on her face. But he can only see her cover her mouth with her hand before she turns to take the pouch of sweets she just purchased from the owner, who gives her a knowing smirk. She shrugs a shoulder in response before she disappears through the crowd once more.

Jon snaps out of his stupor when she's out of sight and, with a sigh, turns around. After watching the exchange, he now has no excuse to be following her. He silently gestures to Arya as he begins to head back to the keep, having put off his duties too long.

----

"You need to stop this," Sansa tells him sternly one night after their evening meal as they work on reports and taking stock of the provisions that remain.

The entire time, Jon had sat sullenly, his jaw clenching every time laughter would come from the table where the queen resided.

She thinks back to the conversation she and Tyrion had several days after Bran had told Jon of his parentage.

Sansa sits across from Tyrion and takes a sip of her wine.

"So," he says looking around, "I'm sure it's finally good to be home."

She gives him a faint smile and nods. "It is now that the Starks are holding Winterfell once again."

He hums at that and nods. "Yes, I heard of the vile Bolton bastard taking over. Glad he's dead," he says as he takes a long drink from his own wine.

"As am I," she replies coolly.

"How did he die?," he asks curiously.

She tilts her head and regards her first husband a moment before answering.

"He liked to starve his dogs before he set them on people he'd hunt. In his thirst for Jon's dead body, he didn't feed them for almost a week," she says as she takes a drink and looks at him dead on. "It's not hard to get a dog to turn on its master when it's hungry enough."

His brow shoots to his hairline and he lets out a low whistle with a shake of his head before he gives her a wry smile.

"Well, it looks like I was right,” he murmurs.

“About what, my lord?,” she asks curiously.

“People thought that you killed Joffrey. I knew you didn’t. I told Jaime at the time that you weren’t a killer... not yet anyways,” he says, tilting his head as he looks at her with a penetrating stare.

She stiffens and gives him a cold look, thinking he’s insulted her. But before she can respond, he smirks.

“I’m very glad I didn't do anything that would give me cause to receive your wrath, my lady," he says as he lifts his cup to her.

She stares at him, feeling herself slowly relax as she realizes he hadn’t meant anything by his statement. She raises her own and they sit quietly for a moment before Tyrion looks at her again.

"I can't help but notice that things seem to be fine between you all," he comments.

She arches a brow at him and raises her chin slightly as she answers, "Of course. He is a Stark and therefore, part of our pack. Ghost is proof enough of that."

"Good," he says with a nod of approval.

But the topic makes her ask a question of her own in regards to it all.

"So, how has the queen been since the news?" she asks. She's not seen much of the silver haired woman and she's genuinely curious.

He watches her a moment as if reading her intentions with that question and slowly says, "She is managing. Jon's not making it easy of course."

She gives a sigh at that and nods in agreement. "No, he's awful when it comes to his emotions. It severely impairs his mind."

"I'm aware. I warned her this would happen. But apparently, I'm getting old and no one wants to listen to me and the wisdom I try to impart," he sighs, swirling his wine around in thought.

She smirks in amusement at him and tilts her head.

"When did that warning take place?" she asks.

His eyes lift to hers and again, he seems to judge how much he can tell her. She’s not sure how to feel about that. She’s never been on the receiving end of having someone decide whether or not they can trust her. They always assume they can. And she knows she has taken full advantage, others believing she’s just a young woman who doesn’t know the ways of the game. But, then again, this is Tyrion Lannister and he knows how to read past what people try to outwardly portray better than anyone. Even Littlefinger.

"On the way to White Harbor. But it could have been going on since we returned from King's Landing for all I know," he says.

She closes her eyes with a groan and rubs her temple. That means that they've been intimate for at least two moons.

"My thoughts exactly," he says.

"Jon will come around, he's already miserable without her and it's only been a few days.”

He looks at her in surprise at that statement. "Did I hear that correctly or am I truly getting old? Did Lady Sansa give her own round about blessing of their match?" he asks with a sly grin.

She rolls her eyes at him. "I did no such thing. I'm simply saying that he will truly see what their relationship would be like should he choose to stay away. And Jon may be many things but if he chose her over his own sense of duty once, he'll most likely do it again."

"Does that bother you? That he chose her?" he asks, those mismatched eyes that used to unsettle her boring into her.

"As I always do with Jon, I wish he used his head and thought more before making decisions. But... he told me what she did for them beyond the Wall. What she sacrificed. She saved my brother from certain death and I can't overlook that," she says quietly.

"She did, indeed," he says just as quietly.

"Will she truly change the world for the better?" she asks, allowing her gaze to be open so Tyrion can see her intent.

He gives a sharp nod. "Oh, she will. She is a force to be reckoned with. As I said, she has that Targaryen ruthlessness that can get away from her but that's what her advisors are there for. To control her more violent impulses. She can relate to the people after having spent her childhood in exile, impoverished, living on dreams and schemes, running from one city to the next, always fearful, never safe, friendless but for a brother who was by all accounts half mad... a brother who sold her maidenhood to the Dothraki for the promise of an army,” he says.

She looks at him with a furrowed brow as her mind snags on something he said. "Her brother sold her?" she asks slightly disgusted.

He raises his eyebrows in surprise.

"You didn't know this? I thought Littlefinger taught you to know all things," he says wryly.

Her eyes narrow at him and she sniffs. "We've been busy with our own battles here, my lord. I knew only the basics, not the details," she responds.

He hums and tilts his head in acquiescence.

"I had an… abundance of time to think on the queen when I was on the way to Essos. And I set up a list of things I know about her. Would you like to hear it?” he asks calmly.

She purses her lips but gives a silent nod, interested in what he thought of Daenerys Stormborn before he met her.

“I knew that somewhere upon the grass, her dragons hatched, and so did she. I knew she was proud. How not? What else was left her but pride? I knew she was strong. How not? The Dothraki despise weakness. If Daenerys had been weak, she would have perished with Viserys. I knew she had to be fierce. Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen are proof enough of that. She has survived assassins and conspiracies and fell sorceries, grieved for a brother and a husband and a son, trod the cities of slavers to dust beneath her dainty sandalled feet. She’s… much like yourself," he tells her.

She arches a brow at the comparison, but her mind snags on another piece of information.

"She had a son?" she asks quietly, wishing she had known all of this beforehand so she wouldn't look like a foolish girl.

He gives a silent nod as he watches her closely.

"How did he die?" 

"He never lived. He didn't take a breath when she gave birth to him," he says quietly.

She swallows at that and thinks over everything she's just been told.

"She doesn't see people just for their name. If she did, she would have killed me a long time ago.” He blinks and becomes thoughtful for a moment. “Speaking of names, I realize I've never once heard her refer to Jon as a bastard. Not to his face or in private. Granted she refused to call him "king" but she's always treated him as an equal. I doubt it even occurred to her," he says turning his eyes to her.

She pinches the bridge of her nose and releases a long suffering sigh before looking back at Tyrion.

"I still don't trust her," she says honestly.

He looks at her with the tiniest hint of bemusement and says, "I'm not trying to manipulate you to befriend her or anything of the like, Lady Sansa. I'm simply giving you my opinion of the matter. As I always have.”

She swallows at the last statement and again, scrutinizes her former husband. It’s been so long since they last spent time together, but she remembers that he was always honest with her. Always coming to her defense when she was alone in the lion’s den. If anyone had been on her side as a person, it was Tyrion Lannister.

“I know,” she whispers. “You’ve always helped me.”

He gives her a fond smile mixed with a hint of sadness and shrugs. “You were but a child. You couldn’t help yourself and I hated how you were treated,” he says gently.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t kinder to you,” she murmurs as she looks at him.

Again, he shrugs. “It wasn’t your fault, Sansa,” he tells her.

She nods and continues to watch him.

“In regards to the queen, all I recommend is that you watch her. Really watch her with unbiased eyes. You'll soon understand. Or it’s as I said to Jon, ask the people who follow her what they think of her. She saves people from monsters. Just the human kind and not the mythical kind.”

She bites her lip and stares imploringly at him for a long moment. He meets her gaze head on and she can’t refuse following such an easy request. She reminds herself that Tyrion isn’t Littlefinger and he’s not trying to pit her against her own family. He’d never want her to isolate herself with only him by her side. With that thought, she nods in acquiescence.

“Very well. I will watch,” she tells him.

She's done as Tyrion suggested and watched the queen. She heard from Arya of how she walks amongst the common folk. How some of them even keep an eye on her, especially the craftsmen that she's helped prosper. She's watched how she listens to all the lords, not just her bannermen.

She can begin to understand what draws people to the queen. She seems to truly care. Then again, it's easy to lead during the quiet moments, when there's no immediate threat. It's during times when their own lives are threatened and on the line that a person's true character is revealed.

"I'm not doing anything," he tells her quietly, not bothering to look up as he continues to write.

"No, you're not," she says sharply enough to finally make him look at her.

"You need to decide, Jon."

"On what?" he asks defensively, feeling the anger beginning to rise in him. He sets his quill down and looks at her head on. Ghost raises his head from the floor and watches Jon silently.

"There's nothing to decide on, Sansa. She is my aunt and I can't do anything to change it," he says, sadness mingling with the anger in his voice as he looks at her desperately.

Sansa scoffs at that. She's had enough of this ridiculousness. They have a war to fight that they may not win and Jon is wasting time being a fool instead of focusing.

"Jon," she says exasperated, "don't you know that Starks have married uncle to niece? Jonnel Stark married the first Sansa Stark. Other Northern houses have as well. So it's not a problem for the lords here."

She can't help her voice from rising as she continues. "You are making an issue out of nothing! And you're making it worse by continuing to do nothing! We don't have time for these games! You know we don't and yet here we are! So decide, Jon. Decide what you really want, make peace with it, and move forward," she finishes, huffing. Her eyes are hard as crystal as she stares at him.

He looks at her for a moment. Then he sighs and closes his eyes, the fight draining out of him as his shoulders drop.

"You're right," he says tiredly, looking back at her.

He gets up and motions to the remaining reports in front him. "Will you be alright with these?"

She gives him a single nod and comes around to sit in his chair.

He grabs his cloak and calls Ghost, deciding to make his way to the godswood. Once there, he sits on the stone in front of the weirwood and contemplates it all. He couldn’t help but feel an immeasurable amount of anger throughout the day. He’d been able to push his jealousy aside to focus on the Great War, but last night had struck a chord in him. He’s had wolf dreams since he returned, but none had been like the one from last night.

--

He lifts his head to the sky and lets out a long howl. It’s so loud that it hurts his throat, but he carries on. Once finished, he pricks his ears as he waits for an answer. After a while, he finally picks up a faint reply. His sister. The only one who's left. He tips his head back once more and howls again, making sure his voice is heard by her once more. He wants her to come home. He hears another reply but doesn't respond as he suddenly smells fire and burnt flesh and the loud crack of wings in flight fill his ears.

He looks up to see the winged ones coming down from the night sky. They fly over him as they head for their den in the deep part of the woods. Among their scents he smells hers. Lovely, sweet aromas that are mixed with the embers that always cling to her. He wonders what she's doing out here in the middle of the night and silently watches the woods from the shadows as he waits for her to emerge. But before he sees her, a haunting melody fills the forest.

Ñuha jorrāelagon bisa perzys iksis sīr bāne,
Sesīr se zaldrīzoti morghūljagon

His eyes catch movement up ahead as she finally steps into view, now singing wordlessly before she begins to hum. She walks at a leisurely pace, trailing her hand along the bark of the trees she passes. She looks smaller, more fragile than he’s used to seeing her. The hood of her cloak hides her face, but the hair that’s visible shines like silver even though the moon is hidden behind thick clouds. She’s wearing her white cloak tonight and it allows her to blend into the forest. The way her voice bounces off the trees, gives the effect of an echo, as if there was someone else singing with her. Except for the occasional screech of the winged ones in the distance, her voice and the soft crunch of her footsteps in the snow are the only sounds he can hear in the woods.

Her humming rises and falls for a long time before she begins to sing once again.

Se vys is zōbrie,
Se ōrbar mazēza naejot se jēdar
Ñuha jorrāelagon bisa iksis se mōris

The poignant note of her song reminds him of his kind when they cry out in search of another and he has the urge to answer her lonely call. Instead, he simply makes his way towards her. She stiffens when she hears a small twig break under his paw and throws her hood off as she looks around.

When she sees it’s only him, she relaxes. She smiles at him as she meets him. When she stands in front of him, she reaches up to touch his face. The heat of her skin is so much hotter than he's used to.

"Out for another stroll?," she asks gently. She stares at him for a moment longer before she drops her hand. He doesn't want that and dips his head to nudge her hand. She smiles again and shakes her head.

"You're insatiable. Are you sure you're a direwolf? You seem too tame," she teases.

He cocks his head to the side and lets his tongue fall out.

She laughs at the sight and it sounds like the tinkling of tiny bells.

"You are a wonder," she tells him affectionately. But when a particularly strong wind blows, she shivers and pulls her cloak tighter, lifting her hood back over her head as she looks at him.

"You may not be cold, but I am. Good night, sweet wolf," she murmurs. She strokes his face once more before going around him. Her scent envelopes him and he begins to follow.

She looks over her shoulder and gives him a small smile. "Are you going to walk me in again? How chivalrous of you," she says as he approaches.

He walks as close to her as possible, lending her his warmth while at the same time getting to inhale her scent with every breath. She hums in appreciation to the warmth and pats his shoulder as they walk.

"Do you know, I miss the days when my children were small. I miss holding them," she sighs. He glances down at her but she stares straight ahead.

"Although I'm sure you make a much lovelier sleeping companion. All that fur is good for such cold places,” she says smiling.

She strokes his shoulder and lets out a snort. "Look at me. I'm sure people would think I've gone mad if they heard me talking to a direwolf," she scoffs and shakes her head ruefully before looking at him. "But you're not a regular wolf, are you? You hold so much intelligence in those red eyes of yours." She stares at him hard for a few moments, her brow knitting ever so slightly as a flash of something he doesn’t recognize enters her eyes, before she turns back to watch where she steps.

"Besides, I know you won't tell my secrets,” she tells him in a quiet voice.

It must be nice to not have to worry about such things. You live to hunt and mate and sleep. So simple," she says wistfully.

She inhales sharply as they continue on.

"Sometimes I get so tired, Ghost. So tired of the looks and whispers. I've never fit in anywhere, so why try here?," she asks as her eyes fall to watching her feet.

"We have that in common, don't we? People look at your white coat and red eyes and they become wary of you. You aren't normal and they can't handle that. The same goes for my hair and eyes," she says quietly, lifting her braid up and holding it to his coat in comparison before letting it fall.

"At least you have Jon. Though people want my armies and dragons, the power I have, I feel as though no one wants me," she whispers sadly.

His ears fall back and he lets out a small whine.

Her eyes lift to his and she smiles sadly at him. "If the dead weren't marching, I wonder if I'd still be here. Of course... But.... Maybe...maybe I could take my children, fly around the world and never settle anywhere. See the remains of Valyria...travel to Asshai... visit the Summer Isles.... I could find a plethora of lovers or take Daario with me. I loved him once, I could do it again," she says but the way she finishes it as a question makes it clear she's not sure she could.

His hackles rise as fury sweeps through him at the thought of her leaving. He can't help but bare his fangs slightly. She raises her eyebrows at the reaction and studies him.

"It's not the best plan, I know. It's the young girl in me wondering that," she concedes quietly with a sigh. But then she straightens her shoulders and nods to herself.

“I will stay and I will rule. As I always planned,” she states. She turns to him and gives him another teasing smile.

“Besides, if you want me to stay, I suppose I have no other choice,” she jokes as she rubs his shoulder.

He gently licks her cheek just as they arrive to the gates of the castle. Her skin tastes of salt with a more concentrated form of the sweetness in her scent and it makes his mouth water. She lets out an amused chuckle as the guards let them in.

When she walks on to the guest quarters, he continues to follow her. She turns around and furrows her brow in confusion.

"Ghost, I'm sure Jon will want you with him," she whispers.

He lowers his head and looks up at her. She bites her lip as she looks up to the main keep then back to him.

"I don't want to cause Jon anymore...tension," she says in a slightly bitter tone.

He flinches slightly and drops his head even more. She tsks and he looks back up at her to find her watching him curiously with her head canted to the side.

"What's going on with you? You're acting very strange. You never stay with me," she says as she squints at him. She chews on her lip as her eyes continue to dart up to the main keep then back to him. After a long moment, she finally lets out a sigh and her shoulders drop in defeat.

"Fine," she breathes and opens the door for him. He slips through and follows her to her room, past her guards. Once inside, she turns to him and eyes him skeptically.

"Are you sure you want to stay here? You don't want to go back out to the woods or to Jon?" she asks.

He looks at her for a moment before he simply lies down on his side and stretches himself out, his answer very clear. She laughs quietly at the sight and shakes her head in amusement.

“I guess you knew I was lonely," she whispers. She then turns and puts a few more logs in the fire. Once done, she begins unbraiding her hair. The scent of it drifts towards him on the air and he closes his eyes, letting it surround him as she changes.

He feels a shift in the air and opens his eyes to find her right in front of him in only her night shift. She grabs his face again and drops a soft kiss on his snout before she smiles at him. But her smile fades as an inquisitive look takes its place.

"Your eyes....seem different," she says quietly as her own pierce right through him, as if commanding the truth be known to her.

"It's strange, it's almost as if smoke is passing over the fire of your usual red. Hmm..." she says before letting him go but still looking at him.

“Jon once told me he is you and you are him. Maybe that's what it is..." she says as her voice trails off. Her eyes don't leave his as she continues to stare inquisitively at him. She gives up after a moment and stands.

She stares at her bed in contemplation then looks down to the furs on the floor. She walks back and forth across them and bounces on her toes a bit as she continues looking at the floor. She crouches down and presses her hands down and stares at the furs, her hair falling around her face, making a silver curtain. She then stands and grabs the furs on her bed and brings them down so they're now piled on the floor then grabs a pillow. He watches silently as she sets up a small pallet then turns to him with a smile.

"I think it'll be comfortable enough down here. If not I can always move back," she says settling down next to him.

He puts his head right next to her and closes his eyes as she begins petting him.

"I can be happy here, can't I, Ghost?" she whispers after a while.

He opens his eyes to find her looking at him imploringly as if he could truly answer her.

"I've done it before. I remember," she says turning so she can lay on her side and face him. She tucks her hands under her cheek and her hair drapes around her shoulder as her big eyes stare at him. The picture she creates in front of him is so beautiful in its innocence, he can't take his eyes off her, can’t even blink.

"I remember what Xaro Xhoan Daxos told me. It was quite nice considering he was a snake," she murmurs as she continues to look at him.

"He said that when I left Qarth, I was a child who was as lost as I was lovely. He felt I was sailing to my doom. But when he met me in Meereen, he saw that I'd become mistress to an ancient city, surrounded by a mighty host that I raised from dreams." Her voice is so melodic, it's almost a lullaby.

"So, if I can do it there, I can do it here. Don't you think?" she asks him quietly.

His ears prick forward as he continues to look up at her silently. She takes that as a response and smiles at him, tracing her warm fingers along the side of his face before tucking the hand back under her cheek.

"I’m sure I can too. I know I can. I dreamt of this place, you know," she whispers as her eyes become far away.

"I dreamt of flying over the Dothraki sea and there was the red door. And beyond it was home. I could smell it. Green fields with great stone houses. A pair of arms waiting to wrap around me and keep me warm. I was so close, but when I threw the door open, I woke up,” she says, biting her lip as her eyes continue to watch the memory. “And I thought maybe... maybe those arms belonged to him," she murmurs. Her eyes finally turn back to him and she gives him a sad smile before it falls.

"I've had many a dragon dream that has come to pass. I just wish that one did too," she whispers looking down. Not liking that, he lifts his head up and bumps her with his nose. She raises her purple eyes to him.

"Or maybe it will. Maybe I thought wrong and it's not him.” She lets out a long suffering sigh.

“That's the problem with visions and prophecy isn't it?” she asks with a poignant look. “They're so vague, they could mean a thousand different things. But... I saw him too. In the House of Undying..." she trails off as she remembers once more.

"A blue rose in a wall of ice," she says, closing her eyes, "and the air smelled so sweet. It wasn't his face, but I know now it was him.” She swallows hard and looks at him again. The sadness in them, as well as the shift in her scent, makes him move closer.

She reaches out to touch him and whispers, "I'm all right. I have survived much worse. I’ve accepted it for what it is.”

The loneliness in her eyes has him pressing even closer to her. Accepting the comforting action, she wraps her arms around him and he rumbles deep in his chest, the noise reverberating through him and into her.

"You know just what I need," she mumbles into his fur.

She pulls back and lets out a soft laugh as she looks at him. "Why can't you be a man instead of a wolf? Or me a wolf instead of a girl? I wouldn't mind being a wolf with you," she teases before her expression becomes wistful.

"I guess I'm tired of existing. Of surviving. I want to live. I wanted a home,” she sighs before shaking her head and tutting to herself.

“But those dreams aren’t for me. I have to keep remembering that the more I wish for them, the more they break my heart. I need to put them aside where they don’t hurt,” she says.

“Besides, we have to survive the war against the dead before anything else can be decided upon. The Great War of Westeros.” She rolls onto her back to stare at the ceiling. He watches as she bunches her lips to the side in thought. Finally, she turns back to him as a grim look settles upon her features.

“I feel as if we are facing our own doom, as the Valyrians did,” she says softly.

The way her voice drops as she speaks makes him tense.

Her eyes suddenly snap back into focus and settle on him.“It is close now. Our time will be upon us before we know it. I can feel it in the air. Can’t you?” she murmurs, worrying her lip.

He can smell the slight fear coming off of her, turning her scent almost acrid. Not liking the harsh acrid scent, he bumps his nose against her hand in an attempt to soothe her. It seems to help as she smiles at him and stretches out to make herself more comfortable.

Closing her eyes, she reaches up and begins absently petting his forehead and face. The action causes his eyes to droop as he feels his body relaxing to the soothing rhythm of it. He peers out when she starts to softly sing another song. This time though, he understands the words she sings as it’s in Common Tongue.

With a sigh, you turn away
With a deepening heart
No more words to say
You will find that the world has changed forever

And the trees are now
Turning from green to gold
And the sun is now fading
I wish I could hold you closer

The gentle strokes of her fingers, the cadence of her voice, along with her scent that surrounds him completely, has him rumbling deep in his chest as his eyes close again, falling into the darkness of sleep.

When he opens them, he finds himself in his bed. He looks down to see the empty space where Ghost would usually reside and falls back down onto the pillows with a groan.

He thinks back to everything he heard last night and her sad words make his heart clench. He also can’t help the twinge of guilt at now knowing those secrets she’s held in her heart. But it’s not as though he did it on purpose.

He lets her beautiful songs drift through his mind again, committing to memory the notes of her voice that he was only able to detect because of Ghost’s superior hearing. He knows he’ll never find anything as lovely to his own ears. Nor will he find anything as beautiful to his own eyes than the image she made when she laid before him, looking like the innocent maiden she used to be and not the conquering queen he’s known. It solidifies his claim from long ago that Ghost is more alive than he is.

Still, her soft words haunt him and refuse to leave him alone, demanding he listen to them. To truly listen and take them to heart.

Coming back to the present, he clears his throat and thinks over the decision he has to make.

She's my aunt, he thinks to himself.

But you were strangers when you met, a small voice whispers.

It's a sin against the gods, he argues back. Thinking of every possible reason that he would need to stay away from her. Not for himself, but for her.

Which gods? No, the real question is, are there truly gods to sin against?, the voice asks. You know what waits for you.

He can't deny that. The doubt he's felt about the existence of gods and the afterlife since he came back from the nothingness of death. His mind seizes in terror whenever he thinks of what he will face when he leaves this world. It makes his desperation to truly live that much stronger. He remembers the words Maester Aemon told him all those years ago when he wanted to desert the Night's Watch and help Robb avenge his father's death.

Love is the bane of honor, the death of duty.

And it's true, because he's seen so many people die because they chose love. It happened to Robb. It was the reason he would never meet the parents of his blood. It's happened countless times all throughout history.

But the opposite could be said as well.

Duty is the death of love.

He's always chosen duty over his own desires. It's never been an option for him to choose otherwise. He chose the Night's Watch over Ygritte. He chose to remain a bastard and stay on as Lord Commander Snow when Stannis offered to legitimize him. He went beyond the Wall to capture a wight even though he knew it was a fool's errand and wanted nothing more than to stay on Dragonstone.

What is honor compared to a woman's love?

A bitter laugh escapes him as he thinks on how right the maester was. And the one time he decides to choose love over duty, it smacked him right in his face.

No, it didn't, that persistent voice argues. She reminded you how to live.

He pauses as he sees the truth in that statement. He turns it over in his mind and examines it from all sides.

It makes him think back on his conversation with Beric Dondarrion.

You and I won't find much joy while we're here.

But he did find it. And now he's thrown it away. All for the sake of fucking propriety that he honestly couldn’t care less about now. Yet for some unknown reason, he still abides by it. Because he knows that it could mean the people may decide not to follow her. If they feel threatened by two Targaryens coming together, it could be the downfall of the power and prestige of House Lannister all over again. And it would be his fault. Simply because he decided to be selfish and keep her for his own.

If you're going to die in this war, then does it really matter what others think?, the voice asks convincingly.

That’s true. It’s as Sansa said, there’s no time for such foolishness. Shouldn’t he try to enjoy what little time they all have left before the world goes to shit?

And yet... if they win and he miraculously does manage to live, should Daenerys be right in her claims about being barren, there's a possibility that they won't ever have children. If he stayed with her, it could mean that the Targaryen line ended with them. Being a bastard then joining the Night’s Watch, he never planned on taking a wife, much less raising a child, so it's not off putting for him. But he knows it hurts her to think she can never give any future consort the family he'd crave. He knows she probably believes he’ll end up marrying someone else. A noble woman who can give him a family. Then his child would be heir to the throne. Thus, continuing the line. And perhaps that's the smarter thing to do, should they both actually survive.

Even though he's quite certain his time in this world won’t be for much longer, he tries to picture himself years from now with a wife. When he does, he immediately sees her. He pushes her out of his mind and pictures a woman with brown hair instead. But upon further inspection, she has violet eyes. He tries again and sees a beautiful maiden with red hair who has Daenerys's laugh and smile. He even tries picturing himself with Val, but her honey colored hair turns to silver. Every time, the woman he forms in his mind has the quality of Daenerys's.

Then he tries to imagine her with a husband beside her to rule the realm. Perhaps the handsome Lord Arstan or one of the younger Reach lords. Maybe even with a child of their own. The jealousy, anger, and loss he feels is so overwhelming, he can't breathe for a moment. He pushes the image away as quickly as he can, refusing to accept her with anyone else.

There are plenty of ways to choose an heir, the voice whispers again.

Then the rest of maester Aemon's words come to him.

We're only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory and our great tragedy.

He thinks on how much he loathes standing next to her as only an ally. As though they're strangers. He misses her teasing humor and quick wit. He misses talking to her and having someone who can relate to him on a personal level. Her whispered words and soft touches. He misses her fire that warmed him with just a smile. The way she always made him feel worthy and accepted. That he was her equal and never the Bastard of Winterfell he was raised as.

He misses her.

He thinks back to the immediate response his mind whispered when she’d asked him where he wished for her to be when he informed the lords of his parentage.

With me.

Ygritte's words drift through his mind then.

If we die, we die. All men must die. But first, we'll live.

Then he remembers what Sam had told him.

A Targaryen, alone in the world is a terrible thing.

Daenerys’ sad face is suddenly brought to the forefront of his thoughts.

No one wants me.

I do, he had breathed to himself.

And his mind is made up.

--------

Bran Stark has called them all to Jon's solar. The Stark siblings enter followed by Brienne and her squire, Daenerys and her small council, Samwell Tarly brings his wildling love, even Jaime Lannister has been called. It makes the hairs on her neck stand at attention. They would not all be needed unless something has happened in regards to the dead. And she knows it must be because she felt a shift inside her earlier, an eerie feeling of foreboding that curled in her stomach and has yet to leave her.

"The Wall has fallen at Eastwatch by the Sea,” he tells them gravely.

Horror consumes them all. After several beats of silence, Jon is able to find his voice first and quietly asks, “The Night’s Watch is gone?”

Bran slowly shakes his head. “The brothers from Castle Black and the Shadow Tower ride hard for Winterfell. As well as the few survivors from Eastwatch. They sail south,” he tells him.

"How did they get past it? It’s magic should have stopped them,” Jon says desperately as he runs his hand over his head.

"He has Viserion," Bran says as he looks at Daenerys, knowing they will all understand who he is.

Gasps are emitted and looks are exchanged, but she barely notices them as her world stops.

"How long?," Jon asks in a grim tone.

"A moon," Bran replies.

Jon whips his head to Samwell and meets the wide eyes of the Black brother.

“Send a raven to the Citadel. The Wall has been breached and the surviving Night’s Watch have retreated to Winterfell. The dead march on Westeros. The South must prepare should the North fall,” he commands his friend. He glances quickly at Dany before turning back to grimly add, “You must make sure they’ll believe you… tell them of the dragon.”

Sam also glances at Dany before he swallows hard and silently nods in acquiescence.

Her blood pounds in her ears as the gravity of the young Stark's words sink in. Her chest begins to rise in a rhythm she is unable to slow down as her heart beats so hard, it feels like it’s going to break through her body.

No, no, no, no.

"No," she accidentally lets out of her mouth. Devastation and unending pain cleave her chest wide open as if she had truly been stabbed. The physical pain she feels is so real, she's surprised that there's no blood on the ground.

In the back of her mind, she knows that everyone is looking at her, judging her, maybe even blaming her. But, she doesn't care. They may have all lost family in the wars of the North and South, but this? They've not felt this all consuming horror of having to see their own dead child come back to them with blue eyes like stars.

The heat of Jon's gaze is a physical thing on the side of her face, coaxing her to look to him, but she ignores it. Her eyes are unable to tear themselves away from the greenseer. She can't feel her legs anymore and doesn't even realize she's sinking towards the floor until Jorah grabs her.

Her sweetest, most gentle child, one of the three remaining wonders of this world, has now become a creature of the most unimaginable nightmare.

As her imagination takes off with her, she pictures her beautiful child. But instead of his molten golden eyes, he has shining blues ones and is covered in frost. And on her child's back, sits the inhumanly beautiful Night King. His white hair swirls around him while his own blue eyes turn and pierce straight through her, almost as if he can truly see her. His mouth moves, though he speaks in words she doesn't know. His voice is reminiscent of ice splintering apart as he continues to stare at her.

Mother of Monsters.

She can't hear the words Jorah and Missandei are trying to get through to her as the screams of Viserion pulse in her blood with every beat of her racing heart. They echo in her mind, becoming louder and louder until it is all she knows.

"No,” she repeats, trying to make the image disappear, make the noise disappear, make the world disappear. Her vision blurs and a small part of her realizes she's crying, but she doesn't make any move to wipe the tears away. She’s too paralyzed with fear as she hears the sound of ice crackling on a lake.

Slayer of Men.

"Please," she whispers to the young man as though if she begs enough, he can make it go away. But he can't. She chokes down the hysteria bubbling up as the screams of her child become so loud, it's as if Viserion is right next to her. She feels her own scream finding its way up her throat, catching just at the back of her mouth, patiently waiting to be released as more images flash through her mind.

She sees her white and gold child bathe everyone in flame. Thousands upon thousands of screaming and writhing bodies fall to the ground and eventually go still. Others are completely turned to ash from the direct line of Viserion’s fire. Now, the Night King smiles at her. A smile that is inhumanly beautiful but beyond terrifying at the same time. What must be a laugh comes out, as his lips are still curved up, but the sound is so sharp it's almost as though her mind is being stabbed.

The dream she had in Meereen comes crashing back to her but it changes and suddenly, it’s him kissing her with his blue lips. Him thrusting his frozen manhood inside her. She has to force herself not to empty the contents of her stomach there on the floor.

Bride of Darkness.

Then she has the horrible realization that not only will she have to face this new, wretched form of her beloved child, but that her remaining children will have to fight their own undead sibling. In her mind’s eye, she watches as their combined flames light the world on fire.

And everywhere the dragons danced the people died.

Before she knows it, she’s running out of the room.

Running in desperate need to release the pent up scream at the top of her lungs in order to drown out the wails of her dead child and the sounds of laughter as sharp as icicles that continue to follow her. Running to the ones who can support her, who can truly share her pain.

Running to the only family she has.

 

Chapter Text

When Bran tells them about Viserion, all of those present in the room look to each other and feel the small hope they'd held of having an advantage drain out of them.

Sansa puts a hand to her mouth and uses her other to grab Arya's hand. Lady Brienne exchanges a look with Jaime Lannister before she puts a reassuring hand on Podrick's shoulder. Giving it what she hopes is a reassuring squeeze, which he acknowledges with a small nod. Tyrion lets out a loud sigh and a curse before going to stand by his brother. Missandei briefly clutches Greyworm's arm while staring intensely at him before letting go. Sam stares sullenly at Gilly, who clutches Little Sam closer to her chest.

But Jon is only looking across the solar at Daenerys. He watches as her queenly mask slides off and she looks on with disbelieving horror.

"No," she breathes, her legs giving way. All eyes are drawn to her after her sudden outburst. Ser Jorah catches her under her arms and whispers something in her ear but she ignores him. Her eyes are on Bran as her breath continues to hitch in her throat.

Then she breaks. Gasping and shuddering as she crumbles to the ground. Ser Jorah now has to support her entire body weight just to keep her standing upright while Missandei rushes over to try and encourage her stand.

The strong dragon queen he's always known, so sure and confident that he would wonder if even the gods would think twice before crossing her is no more. The heartbreakingly beautiful woman he'd at first admired and feared then loved, who brought dragons and magic back into the world and freed tens of thousands of slaves, has broken.

He cannot comprehend the sight before him and he sees that the others in the room feel the same. The desire to reach out to her and hold her himself consumes him so quickly and thoroughly, he has to clench his fists and bite his cheek hard enough to draw blood.

She continues to stare at Bran and whispers, "No...please." She’s begging Bran to tell her it's not true but knowing it must be. And that whispered plea is, without a doubt, the worst sound Jon has ever heard.

Suddenly, she's on her feet and flees the chamber faster than anyone can realize. He recovers before the others and turns to go after her, but a hand has grasped his forearm. He swings his head to see who the owner of the hand is and meets the eyes of Tyrion.

He gives Jon a hard stare as he says, "It is not wise to follow. She doesn't need the extra pain."

Jon knows he's right but he cannot leave her, so he twists his arm away and runs after her. He catches the white of her hair running to where her dragons stay a little farther into the Wolfswood.

He sprints after her and follows her out to her dragons, where at last her legs give out. The action has them surrounding her immediately.

A horrible, heart broken scream wrenches its way out of her soul and spills from her mouth into the night skies as she's on her hands and knees. It's soon followed by the wails of her dragons. The combined chorus of their pain is unlike anything he's ever heard and so haunting that goose flesh rises all over his body. The cries echo in his mind and it's enough to bring Jon to his knees and make his lungs tighten to the point that he's unable to breathe. The mourning call of the dragons is loud enough that the people throughout Winterfell are able to hear it and none will ever be able to forget the heart- rending melody that brought tears to their eyes.

He watches her back heave up and down as sobs rack through her. He tries to find a way to get past the dragons and go to her, but there’s no safe way. So, he steps back and gives her space to grieve.

He refuses to leave her though. He finds a place to sit and takes up his silent vigil of her with Ghost. He stays close enough that he can hear how she tells her remaining children how sorry she is, how they will have to fight their brother even though he is supposed to be gone, that he is not the same and won't recognize them and they must bring him down. Her voice breaking throughout it all.He's never felt so helpless than he does in that moment nor has he hated himself so much.

She stays there for what could be hours and will not listen to any of her advisors who have ventured out and try to persuade her to come back inside the keep. They give up entirely when the dragons circle around her, blocking any from grabbing her and snarling at all who venture too close.

He finally decides to go to her, intent on bringing her back inside, when he can no longer feel his legs and he hears the dragons settle down for the night. She's sitting on the ground where the dragons have melted the snow and stares blankly ahead.

Ghost puts his ears down and drops to his belly. He crawls to her and nudges her arm gently before laying next her and silently staring up at her with his ruby gaze. Jon sits down beside her and tries to figure out what to say to her. But she surprises him and begins to speak.

"I've never known what it is to have a family," she says. Her voice is almost gone from her screams and barely above a whisper. "You're fortunate to have your pack, as your sisters are always referring your family as."

"Yes," he whispers. Because she's right. He is so fortunate to have been given back part of his family.

"It's good that you went back to them." Her voice is so emotionless that it causes a feeling of dread to run down his spine. The statement makes him feel as though he has come to some decision he wasn't aware he made.

"I understand you were hurt that Lord Stark kept your parentage from you. But the fact that he would take his nephew and claim him as his own, all for the sake of honoring his promise to his dying sister, is something to be greatly admired." She pauses then asks into the night, "Would you like to know what my brother promised he would do to me?"

No. He really doesn't want to know but he can't tell her that. The topic of her brother had always been sensitive, so he'd never asked about him. But after ignoring her and pushing away her because of his own confused feelings, this is the least he can do. So he simply shakes his head and says nothing.

"I told him that I didn't want to marry Khal Drogo. I just wanted to go home. He responded by asking me how will we get home. He then told me that he'd let all forty thousand riders of Drogo's khalasar and their horses fuck me if it meant he'd get his army to take back his throne."

Jon is so shocked, so repulsed that a brother would even think that way about his sister, let alone actually say it. He has to swallow back the bile building in his throat.

"So I became Drogo's bride. But Viserys still wasn't happy. Too impatient and selfish to understand that the Dothraki return favors in their own time. Then one night, Viserys got drunk and threatened the child I carried at the time, so Drogo gave him what he desired most. And he died. With a crown of molten gold upon his head. My only family died right before me and I didn't feel as much loss as I should have. He was horrible to me in the end and I felt I'd made a new family with Drogo and soon Rhaego."

She says the child's name like a prayer and again, Jon is struck speechless and all he can do is continue to listen.

"Then Drogo was injured. The stupid girl that I was trusted in a witch to help heal him. I ignored her warnings. "Only death can pay for life" she'd told me. I thought it was the horse she slaughtered but it wasn't. It was my child's. They took him away before I even got to look at him," she says.

New tears forming in her eyes. Jon desperately wants to take her hand or hold her or offer some form of comfort but he doesn't know if he'll be accepted. His fists clench at the frozen ground.

Useless, he's utterly useless.

"Drogo wasn't the same afterwards. He breathed, but he wasn't living. After a time, I did the only thing I could think of and smothered him with a pillow. And I was alone again," she murmurs.  

Jon can't swallow the lump that has formed in his throat and refuses to be pushed down. His eyes are filling with tears and he can't even imagine, cannot even imagine having to smother Ygritte. Of having to see her alive but lifeless and be forced to make that kind of decision at such a young age. At least Ygritte died in a way she would have preferred- fighting for her people.

Daenerys continues on, not noticing his battle to keep control of his emotions as her eyes remain forward, “but I walked into his funeral pyre and when there were only ashes left, I rose with three newborn dragons."

She finally turns to look at him and the devastation and loneliness shining in her red, tear swollen eyes make him want to look away in shame.

"I have lost two children, a husband, and a brother. I never got to know my parents or Rhaegar, and never even knew about Maester Aemon's existence. All of my family....gone. It seems the gods have chosen me to repent all of the sins my family committed, no matter how much I try to right the wrongs I've seen in this cruel place,” she says, her face showing just how much those remarks cut her.

"Especially now that the sweetest of my children has been turned into a monster that I must face. That his siblings must face,” she sobs. She covers her mouth with her hand as though that action will keep the pain from pouring out.

"My beautiful," she chokes out, "my beautiful child who only wanted his mother's love and to fly in the air. He was never aggressive, never a problem. He loved to simply to ride on my shoulder and sleep on my chest as a baby."

Tears fall from her eyes and run down her cheeks as she says, "My children are the only ones who accepted me for the longest time. I've always been an outsider. Everywhere I've gone in this vast world, I have been constantly reminded that I am not one of them and told I should leave. And then...to find someone who understands what I have gone through and felt because they too have gone through unimaginable events.” She swallows hard and looks away for a moment.

"I realized I'm no longer alone this unforgiving existence. Even.... even before your parentage came into light, I found someone who made me feel like they could be my family. That they'd love me and accept me as only one of your same kind can....,” she says, her voice fading into a whisper by the end.

She glances at him before she looks down and Jon watches as her tears drop onto her lap. Ghost gives her a soft lick on her hands and burrows his massive head under her arms, trying to offer her some form of comfort.

Jon realizes then the extent of the pain he has caused her by avoiding her this past fortnight. He thinks back to what she had said to Ghost in his wolf dream and winces.

To be turned away by the person you loved, that had loved you in return. The only family you have choosing his other family over you. Having them avoid you as though the entire ordeal is your fault when neither was to blame. 

Gods... what has he done?

And he can see it all through her eyes. Every mistake he's made by shunning her and leaving her alone in this cold, unfamiliar land. To face her nightmares and her fears alone.

The thought makes his chest feel like he's been stabbed again. His breaths are uneven and all he wants to do is sob at this beautiful, amazing woman's feet and beg her for forgiveness. He closes his eyes in hopes to keep the moisture that has built up from flowing over.

All of this pain due to the fact that she is his aunt and he couldn't decide how he felt. Even though he's found that there were Stark marriages that were of similar blood relations several generations ago. But in the eyes of many, incest is dangerous. It's why there were so many mad Targaryens. It is against the Seven, not that he follows the Seven, but the Southrons do. 

You know nothing, Jon Snow.

"Daenerys.. I'm-" he whispers, unable to hide the way his voice wavers from emotion as he swallows. He closes his eyes in hopes of getting control of himself. When he opens them, he finds she is already standing up.

“Dragons make no homes," she says with her back facing him, her voice barely above a whisper. Though it's still loud enough for him to hear.

"But wolves do. And I will help you keep yours. With fire and blood, your family, your people and your home will be protected. I will do whatever is necessary to protect the people of this realm. You have my word, Jon Snow," she says and begins to walk away.

Jon cannot ignore the fact that she didn't use his true given name. Telling him with those two words that she has given him the freedom to remain a Stark. That she would never make him choose. That to her, he'll always be Jon.

He also can't shake the feeling of dread that statement made. The underlying message of it, ominous and foreboding, makes him realize that if he doesn't move right now, he could lose her forever. And the thought of a world without Daenerys Stormborn brings him so much pain that the tears in his eyes finally fall.

He refuses to live in a world where she does not exist. He will not.

He jumps up after her and grabs her shoulders, forcing her to face him. She won't look at him and he cannot bear that. He grabs her chin, ignoring how warm she is and how his blood sings when he finally touches her, and pulls her face up so that she has no choice but to look him in the eye. She sees the anguish and regret he feels over the pain he's caused her. He keeps eye contact so she can see it all. Just as he did on the boat. But this time, words are needed.

"I am so sorry," he says, taking her face in both of his hands and cradling it gently. "I'm so sorry for leaving you alone, Daenerys. That was not my intent. You should not have had to suffer while I dealt with my confusion. I should have seen sooner what my actions were doing to you."

He gives her a heart broken half smile before he continues. "I have been told many times that I know nothing. And it's true. I left the only place I've ever felt was truly home. The only person who I would fight ice and death to come back to because she filled me with her fire and reminded me that there can be happiness in this life. That I can live again. And I threw away that happiness all for the stupid confusion I felt that you are my aunt by blood. Even though I know we will never look at each other that way and we were total strangers when we first met." He can feel the wind biting into his cheeks and freezing the tears he didn't know he spilled on them.

"I've been a fool who has always chosen duty over love. But I will do whatever it takes to make it up to you. I will burn this world down and rebuild it anew for you. You will never again have to wonder if I am going to leave you because you will always be mine. You have always been mine."

He takes a deep breath then continues.

"And I am yours. Yours to love, yours to hurt, yours to break, whatever you desire from me. I have been yours from the moment you came for us beyond the wall. If not even before then. I will always be yours and I will give whatever form you wish to have me if it means I get to keep you in some way. I will never take advantage of your love or twist it to my own gain."

He swallows hard and glances away before returning his gaze to hers. "But, if I am too late and there is nothing I can do, then I will fight for you to have the world you deserve. I will gladly give my life for yours should the need arise in this war. And if we both survive, I will never darken your door again."

It's the last thing he wants but he manages to get the words out. He keeps his eyes locked on hers the entire time. Hers are wide in surprise at how much he has said. He's never been the best with words or explaining his emotions, choosing to show her through his actions, his touches, and his eyes. But this time, he needs her to understand that he means it. Needs her to know without a shadow of a doubt where he stands. He will truly do anything for her, allow her to do anything she wants to him, in order to be happy.

"Do you understand," he whispers. Repeating back to her the question she had asked him on the boat where it all started.

Her breathing becomes erratic and her lips tremble as he waits for her answer. He knows that if she hasn't already cried all the tears she has, they would be spilling down her smooth cheeks.

"Yes," she whispers back, her eyes shining like the most beautiful amethysts he's ever seen. So open and honest is her gaze that it pulls him in. Hypnotizes him as it always does and he loses himself in her eyes. They warm every part of him and he knows with a certainty in his bones that he was made specifically for this woman.

He watches silently as she swallows and close her eyes while she tries to find the words she wants to say, figures out the order in which to say them, takes a breath to steady herself and opens them again.

"I don't want to break you," she whispers. "Because I know first hand what it would be like."

He sucks in a sharp breath and wonders if he will ever deserve the woman before him. If he'll ever be able to make it up to her.

"I cannot give you the family you deserve" she reiterates. Her voice is so quiet that he can barely hear her.

"Daenerys....," he murmurs, his heart clenching for the thousandth time. He wonders how he's still alive at this point with the amount of pain he feels.

"I've told you time and again that I don't care about that. All I want in this world while I am alive is you. No matter if we die in this war or die years from now when we are old and gray, I will always want you. I may not show it, but I do love you. And when we leave this world and are but distant memories in history, I will still love you."

Now, her eyes somehow do manage to fill with tears again. Every feeling of fear and self doubt and love coming to a boiling point and bowling over.

"Jon...," she whispers. "I'm scared."

"Me too, love," he responds just as quietly.

"I... I would give up the Iron Throne for you," she says as her fingers wrap around his wrists as he continues to keep hold of her face. "I don't want to do this alone. I'm so tired of being alone." 

"And you won't," he responds firmly. "I will follow you to the ends of the earth if that is what you desired. You are my home."

She swallows hard at that and takes a deep breath.

"And you are mine," she replies just as firmly.

His breath shudders out of him and he feels faint. He brings her lips roughly to his while one hand slips from her face to wrap around her waist and bring her flush against him. She responds immediately. Her hands reach up and burrow into his hair. Pulling on his curls to keep him from being able to escape.

Gods... how he has missed her. Her lips are chapped and he can taste the salt of the tears spilled between them, but he doesn't care.

He can think of nothing else as his tongue demands entrance to her mouth. She opens it immediately and twines her tongue around his. He tilts her face up so he can deepen the kiss even more. He removes his tongue so he can bite her plump bottom lip. He sucks and nibbles on it as though it could provide him the sustenance he needs to survive. When he gives it a harder bite and she gasps into his mouth, his tongue is right behind it to soothe any pain away.

He removes himself from her lips to kiss her all over her face. Kissing away the tear stains on her cheeks. Kissing her puffy red eyes in hopes of stopping anymore tears from escaping. Small, barely there kisses to emphasize his words.

She sighs, relaxing further into his arms as he grips her tight to his chest and drops a final kiss on her forehead.

"Let's go inside, Daenerys," he murmurs. "Everyone is worried and I'm sure most are waiting up until they know you're back inside."

She stiffens for a brief second before relenting to his request with a weary sigh. "I won't be able to sleep anyways, so I don't see why it matters," she mumbles quietly. She sounds so unlike a queen with that one sentence that he can’t help the small, affectionate smile that briefly forms.

Jon wraps his arm around her waist and pulls her to his side. "You don't have to sleep but let's at least get you warmed up and in dry clothes. We will strategize and plan once everyone has slept on it."

"Will you...," she bites her bottom lip as she hesitates to ask and decides to let it fade into the night. Her eyes flick up to him, showing him what she cannot form with words.

He knows what she wants before she even looked at him. He cannot deny her need of simple company to help keep away the nightmares that are sure to plague her should she surrender to sleep. The reassurance of a warm body next to hers to remind her that she is alive and he is alive. That neither will look towards the other and see bright blue eyes staring back at them. He knows because he needs her just as much.

"Always," he whispers.

Chapter Text

As her eyes take in the room, she feels an arm tighten around her waist to pull her closer to a hard chest. Looking down, she sees a pale arm with dark hair and she knows whose bed she’s in.

As she tries to piece together how she ended up in Jon’s bed, the night before comes crashing back and what she had hoped was just an awful night terror, is actually her reality.

The Wall has been broken. The dead are marching in Westeros. And the Night King has brought back Viserion.

She shrinks back into Jon and presses her face against the pillow, wishing she could hide from this horrible truth but knowing she can’t.

It’s as she told Jon last night, she’s lost many loved ones throughout her life. What she didn’t share was how this loss hurts so much more. Shame engulfs her as she recalls how confident she was when she went to rescue Jon and the others. She’d never even suspected that one of her dragons could be brought down so easily. She knew it was risky but not like that.

How are they going to defeat the dead now? How are they going to bring Viserion down? The questions swirl in her mind and threaten to drown her when she hears a gruff voice.

“It’ll be alright,” he murmurs groggily.

She flips around and finds grey eyes looking at her with more alertness than she’d been prepared for, although they’re still clouded with tiredness.

“Don’t lie to me, Jon Snow. Not now,” she whispers sadly as her eyes roam over his face before focusing back on his eyes.

His brow pinches together and he rubs her back as he says, “We’ll find a way, Daenerys. We have to.”

She bites her bottom lip as her mind searches for something that could help, but she comes up short. Seeing her expression, he pulls her flush against his chest, pressing his lips to her forehead as he takes a deep breath.

“You still have two of your dragons. I know you’ve been working with them. You have the small advantage of being able to practice more with them in the air now. You can prepare,” he murmurs against the crown of her head.

“I can’t keep track of both of them if Viserion is in the sky. It’s too much,” she says desperately.

He’s quiet at that.

She suddenly leans back and looks at him with wide eyes as an idea comes to her mind.

“You,” she breathes, “you must ride Rhaegal.”

He looks at her in bewilderment and shakes his head.

“No. I can’t do that. We can find another way,” he replies in a rushed voice, a panicked look enters his eyes and he unconsciously leans away from her.

“Why not?,” she asks, her face showing the hurt his reaction caused. Did he truly not want to have anything to do with his Targaryen side? Did he think she was mad to suggest such a thing? Why did his response sound so vehement in her ears? Seeing her expression, he blinks in confusion before realization hits him. He gives her an apologetic look and pulls her close to him again.

“I’m a man of North, Daenerys. What do you think the other Northern lords will do if I suddenly start riding a dragon? The path we’re treading on is narrow enough already. I don’t want to give them more reason to turn against House Stark and you,” he explains quietly.

Her chin juts out at his reasoning and she feels her eyes begin to blaze. Stubbornly, she replies, “You are half Targaryen, Jon. You have the blood of the dragon in you just as much as you have wolf blood. You cannot deny one side of yourself and the potential it carries simply to appease weak minded men.”

He takes in her fierce expression and he purses his lips a little in thought. His eyes become distant as he thinks over her words before his focus returns to her.

“We don’t know if I’ll even be able to get close to him, Daenerys,” he says as he rubs her back again in an attempt to soothe her.

“We won’t know until you approach him,” she says as it begins to come together.

He’s quiet again for a long time before he sits up and drags his hand down his face as he thinks.

“Just because I’m a Targaryen doesn’t mean I’m a dragon rider. Everyone knows how many people have died trying to ride them in the past. You should know this better than I do,” he says with a sigh. She sits up as well and turns his head towards her to make him look at her. She can’t deny the truth of his words, but she knows this is different.

“Jon, you don’t understand. Drogon let you touch him. He doesn’t let anyone touch him except for me. If Drogon didn’t bite your hand off, then Rhaegal won’t be a problem. While he’s never been the sweetest, he’s not nearly as fierce as his brother. Their fire is as much yours as it is mine. Don’t you see, Jon? Don’t you see?,” she asks emphatically, her eyes begging him to understand.

He stares at her for a long time, taking in the truth of her words. When she sees a hint of concession in them, she pushes on.

“Just try,” she whispers, making sure her eyes are big and have a pleading look in them she knows men can’t refuse.

“But I’ve not heard of a dragon immediately accepting a rider,” he says hesitantly.

“Just because it wasn’t documented, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” she replies.

“Still…,” he says as he scratches his cheek in thought.

“Jon, we have no time,” she says, a slight desperation ringing in her voice as she continues. “Yes, the dragon riders of old used magical horns to bind their dragons to them. Yes, Drogon took longer for me to bring to heel, but when he came to me in the fighting pits, we bonded. Perhaps they know when it is necessary or if the rider is in dire need of them. I don’t know. But I do know my children and I know what I saw on the cliffs of Dragonstone.”

He stares at her and she can see the acceptance of her words.

“I’ll be right next to you the whole time. If it doesn’t work, if I see the slightest sign that he looks agitated, we’ll stop. And I’ll… I’ll try to make due with attempting to keep control over the both of them,” she finishes, wincing slightly at how unconvinced she is with that option. All she thinks of when picturing that scenario is complete and utter chaos…Rhaegal somehow falling from the sky. The image makes her want to curl in a ball.

No, Rhaegal needs someone on him. She’s not felt this sure since she walked into Drogo’s pyre.

After a long pause, she drops her eyes and adds in an even softer voice, “Please, Jon. I… I don’t want to do this alone.”

And it’s true. If she can have him with her in the sky, she will do anything to make that happen, even if that means she needs to be a little manipulative. She can’t bear the thought of having to face off with Viserion by herself. She’s not sure she’s strong enough for that. And if she can’t deal the killing blow, Jon will have to be be the one to do it. It’d be safer to plan for that anyways.

When he still doesn’t say anything, she scrambles for something else, her eyes quickly darting from side to side as she searches through her mind and it immediately lands on what she thought last night.

“I received a letter from Lady Teora Toland of Dorne,” she says as she looks up at him. His grey eyes fill with curiosity as to how this could possibly apply to their current conversation and he dips his chin, silently telling her to continue.

“In it, she warned me. She told me of how she dreamt of dragons,” she says carefully, watching how one brow lifts in intrigue.

Taking a deep breath, she says, “She told me that the dragons were dancing in her dream. And that everywhere the dragons danced, people died. She may only be a young girl, but so was I when I had my first dragon dream.”

Now both eyebrows rise high as he looks at her.

“I can’t do this alone, Jon. You know there’s too much at stake,” she whispers, keeping her gaze open for him to read them.

His eyes suddenly narrow at her, knowing she’s playing on his sympathies. “Are you… trying to manipulate me?”

“I’m trying to make you see that you have to do what your brother said and rise. Wolves are strong, yes. But dragons are stronger. And you…,” she pauses to lift her hand to rest it on his cheek, making him look her in the eye as she continues. “You are both. You are the strongest. Stronger than the lions, the wolves, the krakens ….”

She watches him for a long time before she quietly says, “Stronger than me.”

His eyes widen and he stares at her in slight shock before he shakes his head in disagreement.

“That’s not possible, Daenerys,” he murmurs.

Tilting her head slightly, she gives him the barest hint of a smile even though it doesn’t reach her eyes. But her expression quickly turns serious as she considers her words.

“You could be if you just unleashed that fire crackling inside of you. You could rule this whole world if you so desired,” she tells him honestly.

He just gapes at her and she meets his stare unflinchingly.

“You’re wrong,” he says after a moment. She narrows her eyes at him, not knowing if he really has such little faith in himself or if he just doesn’t want to see it. Well, too bad for him if it’s the latter. She will make him.

“I’m not. And deep down, you know it,” she says imperiously as she gives him a hard look.

Finally, he closes his eyes and lets out a long sigh before he opens them again.

“Very well, my queen. We can certainly try,” he says softly as he gives her a small crooked smile. She can see the fear in then but it’s nothing compared to the determination that starts to shine through the longer he mulls over the idea.

She gives him a sad smile and leans towards him to lightly kiss his cheek. She then burrows back down into the blankets and looks up at him with a satisfied expression. Jon follows her lead and as soon as he’s lying down, she clings tightly to him. She breathes in the woodsy scent on his skin and closes her eyes in an attempt to push back the growing terror.

“I know you’ll be able to ride him,” she says softly.

“How so?,” he murmurs as he pulls her tighter against him.

”I just do” she whispers, deciding not to tell him of her own dream. While he may be accepting of her dragon dreams, she’s not even sure if the dream she had of the dark haired man on Rhaegal was one or if it was just her worrying that Jon would betray her. Pressing her face into the crook of his neck, she lets the steady rhythm of his heart lull her.

Instead of responding, he only hums and rests his cheek on top her head.

“We still have time to rest a little while longer. Go back to sleep,” he murmurs.

She does so without hesitation, letting the darkness of sleep take her under with the smell and warmth of him surrounding her.
———————

When they wake up again to get dressed for the day, Jon studies her.

“We’ll need to tell the lords what happened beyond the Wall,” he says with a grim expression.

Swallowing hard, she gives a single nod and waits to speak until she knows her voice won’t shake.

“I don’t… I can’t be the one to tell them,” she replies, momentarily dropping her eyes before meeting his. She sees understanding and sympathy swirling like grey mist in his eyes and he nods.

“Alright,” he says soothingly as he gently tucks a silver lock of her hair behind her ear before resting it on her cheek.

“But let’s keep the Rhaegal idea to ourselves for now, alright? If it works, we can tell them since it’ll be hard to explain to the Southern lords why a Northern bastard can ride a dragon,” he says with a small, rueful half smile.

Seeing the sense in that, she slowly nods. She’d rather inform all of the Southern lords of Jon’s heritage once the Reach and Dorne armies arrive. She briefly ponders whether any of the Westerland houses will answer Ser Jaime’s summons, but she doesn’t want to put too much hope in that.


I need to inform my advisors before though,” she tells him as she fastens her dragon pin on her dark plum dress, fastening the draped cloth over her shoulder in the style she has come to favor.

He nods in agreement and says, “As do I. We can tell them as soon as we finish breaking our fast.”

————————-
“My lords and ladies,” Jon says with a grim tone as he looks around the room, “war is upon us. The Wall has fallen.”

Gasps of disbelief fill the room as everyone looks around in horror.

“How can that be?,” Ser Brynden asks above the whispers. All look to Jon as they wait for his answer.

He glances at her and she gives a barely perceptible nod, steeling herself for their reactions as she looks back to the lords and ladies.

“What I did not tell you all is that when a group of us went beyond the Wall to retrieve a wight for Cersei Lannister, we found ourselves surrounded by the Others and the dead,” he tells them.

“Gendry Waters ran back to Eastwatch to send a letter to Queen Daenerys as the rest of us remained surrounded for days. If nothing else to let her know what became of us.” Everyone looks between the two of them before landing back on Jon as he continues.

“She could have left us to die and we were all prepared for that outcome. We were only five men. But she didn’t. She refused to leave us there when she knew she could do something to help. So she brought all of her dragons, risking her own life in doing so, and saved us from imminent death. But it wasn’t without great cost to her,” he says, pausing to take a deep breath.

“I know you have all probably been wondering where the third dragon is,” he tells them, pausing once more before saying, “He was taken down by the Night King.”

Everyone is now gaping at her, the expressions on their faces a mix between pity, sadness, and wonder. But once more, Jon calls their attention back to him by clearing his throat.

“The Night King has resurrected the dragon that was known as Viserion and used him to breach the Wall,” he says.

She clenches her hands into fists so tightly under the table that she’s sure the nails have pierced the skin. Her heart feels like it’s going to beat out of her chest as she awaits the lords to blame her for the doom that has been brought upon them. Their reactions are identical to the ones from last night. They gasp and look at each other with horror. She pushes down the panic and the need to run away from here, instead lifting her chin defiantly as she watches them closely.

They talk amongst themselves for a long time before Lord Tytos asks, “What of the Night’s Watch?”

“Those from Castle Black and the Shadow Tower are riding to Winterfell as we speak. The survivors from Eastwatch sail south now to avoid the army,” Jon answers immediately.

“Has the South been made aware?,” Aurane Waters asks.

Nodding Jon replies, “Ravens have been sent to the Citadel.”

“What do want us to do, my lord?,” Lady Lyanna asks, looking between Dany and Jon.

“We continue to prepare as we have. Although we now need to adjust our over strategy. We can’t make the final battle plans until the Dornish and Reach armies have arrived and we know how many soldiers we have to work with,” Jon says. His reasoning is met with many nods of agreement from the seasoned warriors.

“And the dragon?,” Lord Harrold Hardyng asks. The other lords begin to murmur and their eyes glance towards her before quickly darting away. The action causes her hands to fist to the point where she can’t feel the blood in them and her attention snaps to the brown haired man.

I will take care of Viserion, my lord,” she replies forcefully to the Vale lord.

“But how?,” one of the Northern lords asks. Her eyes slide towards him and she can tell he immediately regrets voicing his question.

“I still have two dragons left. I’m sure they will be of some use. And before anyone asks, I will be keeping them away from any of the Others that remain on the ground,” Dany says to the Northerner, her eyes as hard as gems and her voice is as sharp as a blade. Everyone except her advisors shrinks back at the biting tone and she reminds herself to stay calm as she focuses her attention on the far wall.

Jon continues discussing certain points with them but she can’t focus on what he says.

Only when Jon finally dismisses the lords and the hall empties does she finally relax the slightest bit. But she still keeps her eyes trained forward, unable to meet anyone’s eyes. Her need to run somewhere still has her tight in its hold, but she shoves it back with everything she has in her. The only problem is that she now can’t move at all. Her advisors all stare at her with uncertainty, but she nods her head in silent dismissal.

“Your Grace?,” Jorah asks hesitantly, his keen eyes noting the way her fists won’t unclench.

“I will be fine, Ser Jorah. I need only a moment,” she murmurs in a strained voice. She meets his eyes and she feels guilty at the look of concern in them. He’s been her oldest friend and advisor, and regardless of his past betrayal, he’s always been there for her. She knows he hates feeling so helpless and unable to assure her in some way. She tries to smile at him, but she knows it’s more of a grimace. He hesitates a moment and she says, “Please wait for me outside.”

He looks her over before he gives a slow nod and makes his way out the door. She closes her eyes as she remains in her seat, trying to calm her racing heart. Her head spins with thoughts of what to do about Viserion. She has no idea how to stop him. Will dragonglass be strong enough to penetrate his tough hide? What if it’s not? What if-

Her thoughts shatter when she feels a calloused hand gently take her own and slowly pull her fingers out of the tight ball she made it into. A thumb traces over the dark red half moon marks on her palm and the action causes her to take in a sharp, shuddering breath. She finally turns her wide eyes to the one holding her hand and sees Jon watching her. She didn’t even hear him come back inside.

He takes in the frightened look in her eyes and the way they shine with tears that she refuses to let fall. Her full lips are parted slightly as she sucks air into her lungs.

“We’ll find a way,” he murmurs, never taking his eyes off of her.

“Will we?,” she asks quietly as she roams over the planes of his face. She hates sounding so weak, but she needs someone else to be strong for her. Because right now, she simply cannot be the person who remains the backbone of the group and carries the others while they fall apart. This one time, she needs the Northern man in front of her to lift her up from this dark pit she’s found herself in.

“Aye. We will, my queen,” he responds, brushing his thumb along the bones of her knuckles in a soothing motion.

“How?,” she whispers. She doesn’t actually need an answer, she just can’t think of anything else to say to him. But she knows that anything he tells her will undoubtedly sate her for the time being.

He sighs before giving her a small crooked smile and saying, “You get to see me make a Northern fool out of myself once more.”

“I didn’t realize you had stopped,” she quips softly, unable to hold back her witty remark even though her face remains blank.

His smile drops and she feels panic hit her for a moment.

“You’re probably right,” he tells her with an equally unreadable expression. “But this time, you’ll get the opportunity to laugh if you so choose.”

The light, teasing words coming out of his mouth are so juxtaposed with his solemn look that she doesn’t know what to make of it. The tiniest smile flits across her face and his eyes soften as he to catches the movement, feeling better that he’s able to distract her the tiniest bit.

“Why do I get to laugh at you?,” she asks softly as she looks up at him.

“Because you get to see if you’ll be able to teach me how to ride a dragon. I’m quite sure that will be a laughable experience,” he informs her.

“And when will that be?,” she asks curiously.

“Now if you would like,” he replies with a small tilt of his head.

She smiles gratefully at him and stands. The moment she does, he takes a step back to give her room while opening his arms slightly in silent invitation. In a swift movement, she goes into his embrace and buries her face in his chest, her arms locking around his waist. He presses his lips on her hair and breathes in the exotic smell of her oils.

“I would like that very much. But we’ll see if he takes to you first,” she mumbles into his leather plated chest before she steps away from him.

She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath to collect herself. When she opens them, she finds him waiting patiently for her. Nodding her head to show him she’s fine, he extends his arm for her to take.

As they make their way out the doors, they find their advisors waiting for them.

“We are going to see the dragons,” she informs them as she lifts her chin slightly. They all nod and move aside to let them pass without complaint.

 ——————————-

He looks at the dragon before him and wonders just how insane he truly is. Maybe it's a drop of Targaryen madness. Although if that's the case, then that combined with the way many have told him he knows nothing, means he's royally fucked.

His mind returns to the task at hand and his eyes travel over the giant head of this creature. Not as big as Drogon, but only by a small amount.

Eyes the color of melted bronze meet his gaze and look from him to Daenerys.

"So I'm assuming he understands Valryian better than common tongue," he says and briefly turns his head to look at Daenerys.

She is standing a step behind him, playing with the fur she can reach at Ghost's shoulder while she watches him with a small, amused smile on her face. It's the first real smile he's seen in a fortnight and even though it’s really just a twitch of her lips, it causes the breath in him to stutter slightly.

He will take any smile from her, even if it is at his expense.

"For now he does," she says quietly. "That is what they've grown up listening to. He can understand Common tongue enough but I think it would be safest if orders were spoken in Valyrian."

He has to agree with that. It's too risky trying to teach him commands in Common tongue when their time to face the Night King is fast approaching.

"Well," he sighs, "I guess you'll get to hear me butcher your mother tongue."

She hums in a noncommittal answer and he sees a mischievous glint in her eyes.


"In regards to tongues, I personally have many other things I'd like you to do with mine."

He's so shocked by that he can't even form a response. His face flushes as heat courses through his entire body. This woman is so mercurial, he never knows what to expect. Except he knows it will almost always leave him breathless.

He's about to answer that and tell her just what he'd do to her tongue when she continues on.

"But that's besides the point. As long as you can get the basics, you should be fine. Luckily, both Missandei and myself can help you. Pronunciation isn't too difficult once you hear it enough."

He has to force himself to listen to her words and nods in assent.

"Would you like me to stand next to you or a step behind?," she asks.

"I guess I'll see how he takes to me alone," he says, even though he phrases it as though it is a question.

She nods and says in a stern voice, “Just remember how you were with Drogon. Focus on the fact that while he is bigger and deadlier, you are one of his kind. He can smell it on you. And just like any animal, dragons only bow down to those stronger than they are. And as I said, you could be the strongest of us all if you so choose.”

He blinks at how much sense that actually makes and nods.

“You must command him to accept his place beneath you. You will not allow anything less,” she says before her eyes drift down to the coiled whip at his side that she ordered one of her Dothraki to give her.

“If you need the whip, use it. It won’t hurt him and it may make him understand better,” she tells him as her eyes move to the green dragon.

“But I doubt you will,” she finishes as she rests her amethyst eyes on him again before she gestures for him to go ahead.

Steadying his nerves with a deep breath, he reminds himself what Daenerys said and that if Drogon let Jon touch him then Rhaegal shouldn't have any problem. But he wasn't as nervous as he is now about being accepted as he was about how much is riding on this bond to work.

He looks at Rhaegal's bronze eyes and lifts his hand up again. He silently watches as the dragon tilts his head a bit to side and take a deep breath. The gesture reminds him so much of Ghost when he was pup that he lets out a small, startled laugh to see this creature that could easily swallow him whole look at him in such a way.

This only causes Rhaegal to tilt his head even more to the side and Jon can't stop smiling. It immediately eases the tension out of him but he lets the smile fall as he focuses on Daenerys’s instructions of authority. Once he feels certain, puts his hand on Rhaegal's snout as though he's done it hundreds of times before.

He watches as the dragon's pupils dilate the same as Drogon did, but his go even more. To the point where the black almost consumes the bronze. And Jon knows that his own pupils have blown in response.

It's an odd sensation. He's always had Ghost in his mind but it suddenly feels like he's now whole. His body warms in a way that makes him feel as though he'd just eaten a filling meal and has tucked himself under the furs of bed. It lulls him and he realizes that Rhaegal is humming as well. His eyes glassy and unfocused.

He hears Daenerys approach and watches as Rhaegal's focus shifts to her. He begins to emit a chirping noise that continues to get louder until she's right beside Jon. Jon watches as she too sets her hand on his face and murmurs to him.

"Are you going to be good?," she asks softly to which the green dragon rumbles deep in his chest.

“Do you like Jon?,” she asks as she studies her child, watching for any signs of hesitation. But the dragon simply chirps as his eyes go back and forth between the two.

“He is yours now. As much as any dragon can belong to man. From what you've told me of your bond with Ghost, it is much the same. He won’t always listen, but I believe he understands the importance of this situation,” she tells him quietly.

She tilts her head to the side and says, “It’s curious that the dragon you are to ride is the one named after your father.”

She pauses and looks inquiringly at him "Is that alright?"

He's so unprepared for that question that he turns to fully face her, dropping his hand from Rhaegal's face. The dragon looks between Jon and his mother before stepping back and joining Drogon in the air.

"Of course it's alright," he says. "I may not want the Targaryen name because I will always be Jon but that doesn't mean I want nothing to do with that part of my family." He keeps his eyes on hers so she can she he means it.

She looks relieved and nods her head. "I'm glad," she says to him. "Maybe Rhaegal won't be so alone now that he has you. It will help with the loss of Viserion."

He nods in understanding then gives her a devilish smirk and wraps his arm around her waist to bring her closer to him and brings his lips inches from hers to whisper, "Besides, it’s like you said, who wouldn't embrace a family that has such beautiful women and gets their own dragon? I believe I will be the most envied man in the world to be able to say he knows the hearts of two dragons."

She laughs outright at that and pushes him away. "You are incorrigible! Who are you and what did you do with my solemn, brooding wolf king?"

He can't erase the smirk from his lips and shrugs in response. "Oh, I'm still brooding but there will be enough time for that."

She shakes her head in response then her eyes flick to the side before landing back on him and giving him a smirk of her own.


"I think you will be the most feared man as well. For not only do you have the hearts of dragons, but also the wolves. That is a most deadly combination."

He looks to where her gaze went and sees Ghost and his sisters watching silently.

He can't help the smile that lights his face and motions for them to come forward. Ghost is off his feet and in front of him. It's another odd sight to add to his list to see a wolf as big as a horse wiggle his body like a puppy and pant happily in front of him.

"Ghost, I'd never forget you," he tells him as he reaches for his direwolf's face. But Ghost diverts from his hand and begins licking his face as he tries to get as close to Jon as possible. "Ghost! You're too big for that, boy! Down!" The direwolf stops and steps back. He looks to Daenerys and approaches her, giving her a much more gentle lick before heading back to the girls.

Jon watches as Ghost sticks his nose in Arya's hair, making her squeal before turning to Sansa and lowering his head so she can give him a pet on the head. Then he silently trots his way deeper into the woods and leaves them there.

Jon turns back to his sisters. "Have you been here the whole time," he asks suddenly realizing why Daenerys had smirked at him. He feels his cheeks get warm when they both give him their own devilish smirks as answer.

Forget the Others and the dead. His sisters and queen will most certainly be the death of him.

"Yes," Arya answers as they approach him, "You really do have the blood of the dragon it seems."

"But Her Grace is right. You also have the blood of the wolf. As we've discussed already,” Sansa says pointedly at Jon. She speaks with such conviction that it still jolts him to remember how different they've become since they were children. Arya nods her head in silent agreement as she also gives a look.

“I know. I learned not to go against you two,” he says in acquiescence.

Arya scoffs and rolls her eyes at him before looking at Daenerys curiously.

Catching her stare, Daenerys smirks at Arya and asks, “Yes, Lady Arya?”

"I'm not a Lady. As I've already told you," she says as she sends a challenging look to the silver queen.

"Ah," Daenerys says lightly. Jon sees the gleam in her eyes and knows what that means- Arya is about to meet her match.

"But you are not No One any longer, are you?,” she asks with a tilt of her head.

Arya's eyes widen a fraction before her face immediately goes blank. It shouldn't be surprising that she not only knows about the order, but that Arya was one of them. The Spider's little birds really do fly just about anywhere. Jon and Sansa watch this interaction with fascination.

Daenerys raises an eyebrow as she waits for Arya to respond. Arya, not wanting to verbally confirm or deny Daenerys' observation, lifts hers in return and simply says, "Valar morgulis."

"But we are not men," Daenerys responds. Then nods her head in acquiescence. "But we must serve as well."

Arya's eyes shine with such curiosity towards this enigmatic woman and Jon can see that his silver queen has just found a new admirer.

"As long as you do not feel the need to give me The Gift," Daenerys continues with a smile, "I think we will get along just fine."

Arya can't help the impish smirk on her face and replies, "Perhaps we may. But if you are the Unburnt, I think it would be quite the challenge."

Sansa steps up then and claps her hands with a small smile on her, the Lady of Winterfell coming back out.

"Shall we see if there is any mulled wine available in the kitchens?,” she asks them.

They all nod in agreement before Daenerys looks at Jon and says, "We can start going over the commands you'll need and how to say them. I will ask Missandei to join as well. Mainly because I know she so enjoys teaching proper pronunciation. Then we can come back out tomorrow and ride."

When he nods in agreement, she turns to head back towards the keep with Sansa at her side, the two women conversing lightly as they walk.

"Oh, I must see this," Arya says ruefully to Jon. He just sighs and ruffles her hair. She pushes his hand away and gives him an unamused look then she bounds up to the other women.

Jon walks at a more leisurely pace behind the three women quietly chatting ahead of him. They all mean so much to him and for him to see them this way brings him such joy that he vows he will protect them with everything he has if this is the world he can have should they win.
————————-

"You're not sitting where you need to, Jon! Move up!" Arya yells at him from her spot on the ground the following day.

She, Sansa, Bran, Tyrion, Sam, Jorah, and Missandei, are all gathered at the edge of clearing to watch them while the others are practicing in the yard before their evening meal.

"Why don't you come up here and figure out where to best sit so as not to get a dragon spike in your 'special place', Arya? Then you can tell me how to ride a dragon!" He yells back at her, extremely annoyed that not only does he have a small audience, but they're actually trying to tell him what to do.

He's been sitting and shifting on Rhaegal's back for the past several minutes, unable to find the correct riding seat. Instead of his heavy cloak, he had decided to wear his Free Folk garb in order to sit on the dragon without getting tangled up. He’s very glad for that now as he sees he’d never have been able to sit properly with the cloak.

Gods bless the dragon, for he has remained perfectly still the entire time while his rider makes an arse of himself. At least the climb up to Rhaegal’s back was fairly easy.

Tyrion laughs outright at that while Sansa and Missandei cover their mouths with their hands to try and hide their amusement. Sam chuckles lightly and shakes his head. And Bran simply smiles serenely and watches silently.

He sees Arya's face redden a bit but she keeps a calm expression as she replies to him. "I'm not his rider."

"Jon," Daenerys softly calls to him from the back of Drogon. He turns his attention on her and sees the sympathy in her gaze. "Don't worry about where to sit. There is no exact spot. The only important thing is that you're secure in it and have a good grip on the larger spines." She demonstrates her hold and position on Drogon as she continues further. "He is very much like a sword. An extension of yourself. And if you are not comfortable in your grip, then he cannot be wielded to his fullest potential."

Now this he can understand. He looks down at Rhaegal's back and sees the spine spikes that look the most equidistant right above his shoulder blades. Once he grabs those, he can easily shift and find a comfortable spot.

He nods at Daenerys to show that he's ready even though his heart is in his throat.

He reminds himself that if he can climb the Wall, then by the Gods he can ride this dragon. Save him, did he really just make that comparison?

He takes a deep breath and watches as Drogon effortlessly leaps off the ground and into the air. He marvels again at the sight before him and knows he will never tire of seeing it.

He feels Rhaegal shift restlessly under him and looks at the back of the dragon's head to find the green dragon looking up towards his mother and brother.

"Sōvēs," he whispers. Rhaegal begins shifting and Jon can feel the muscles in his back begin to bunch as he pushes himself off the ground. Then they're in the air.

Jon has never felt anything so wonderful in his life. It's an experience that will never be able to be compared to and he's the one who gets to do it.

He looks down and sees all of Winterfell. The soldiers practicing in the yard, the wolfswood, all of it. He can't take his eyes off as it gets smaller and smaller and then, they're in the clouds.

Even though the air is brutally cold as it hits his face, the heat from Rhaegal's body underneath him makes it more bearable.

All he knows in that moment is the liberation he feels that has taken over his mind and body. All he hears is the thunder clap of Rhaegal's wings. All he smells is the crisp winter air that is so much cleaner up here. All he sees is the swirling grey clouds filled with snow until he catches a shadow darting in and out.

His eyes lock onto Drogon as he and Daenerys dip and dive in graceful arcs around Rhaegal. A playfulness present that he never knew dragons could have. Drogon screeches at Rhaegal while Daenerys laughs from his back. Rhaegal answers and the chase begins.

They rise and fall in the sky like waves on the water, until they finally drop out of the clouds and he can see the land below. His eyes widen as he takes in the breathtakingly beautiful scene before him.

The white snow lays quietly over the land as far as the eye can see. The smoke from the houses rises in streams to the sky while the light from inside gives them a warm, cozy feeling.

They begin to circle back around to the wolfswood and slowly make their descent.They land with large booms that echo until the snow catches the sound and it's quiet again.They find that the others have unsurprisingly already gone back inside due to the frigid weather, so it is only the two them.

Once dismounted, he regains his balance and shakes feeling back into his legs. As he does, Daenerys rushes over to him with a childlike glee he's never seen before.

"Well?," she asks him, almost bouncing on her toes as she waits for his answer. She is beyond happy that she can finally share this experience with someone. She really isn't alone anymore.

He pretends to contemplate his answer and her excitement slowly fade. Worry taking its place. "It was... the most fantastic experience," he responds with a huge grin that momentarily disarms her. Never has she seen a sight so breathtaking. His whole face lights up like the sun breaking from the clouds. It warms her soul and she can do nothing but smile just as wide back at him.

He scoops her up in his arms and swings her around, laughing the whole time.

He then sets her down and grabs her face with his hands, giving her a kiss on her lips. When he pulls away, his voice full of wonder. "It was beyond anything I've ever known."

"I couldn’t agree more," she tells him. She then loops her arm through his and settles both hands on his forearm. "Shall we go see what food remains before we retire for the evening?" He nods his head and places his free over hers and they make their way back to the castle for the second time that day. Both thinking over how this was one of the best days either has ever had. How for a day, that they got to be just Jon and Daenerys. Not lord and queen, not the leaders of the living, just two people with no impending doom hanging over their heads, enjoying the time they have together.

And that is very good day, indeed.

Chapter Text

They took their evening meal to the solar in hopes of privacy only to find it was already occupied once Jon opened the door.

"So there I was, standing in this brothel with a honeycomb in one hand, while leading a jackass and... oh, Your Grace. I see you've both returned in one piece," Tyrion said as the group turned towards them.

Arya, Sansa, Davos, Missandei & Ser Jorah were all gathered around listening while Ghost took up the entire floor by the fire. Apparently, the girls wanted to know how it went while their advisors wanted to make sure they came back alive.

"How was it," Arya asks before Jon is even in his seat.

"Arya, let him at least eat a bit before you pepper him with questions," Sansa softly chastises her.

Arya rolls her eyes but relents with a sigh before she looks at Jon. "Eat quickly."

He laughs before he does as he's demanded while Tyrion continues with his story.

Once he and Daenerys finish and their plates are taken away, they join in on the conversation.

"Now tell us," Arya says.

"It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Daenerys was right in that it's very much the same as Ghost," he responds unable to avoid noticing how Sansa's eyes grow sad.

Arya nods in understanding and continues with her questions. "When do I get to ride with you?," she tries to ask it in a casual way. Her eyes are desperately trying to hide the longing in them, but he knows where to look.

Jon can't help the fond laugh that comes out as he remembers her fascination with dragons when she was a small girl.

"We can go tomorrow after the war meeting if you'd like."

She seems pleased enough by that answer and her gaze moves over to Daenerys.

"How big were they when they were born?," she asks.

Daenerys smiles softly as she remembers. "About the size of cats. They were able to ride on my shoulder. Do you remember, Ser Jorah?" She looks over to the older knight.

"Aye, Your Grace," he nods slightly. "We had to makeshift a shoulder cover so their claws wouldn't dig into the skin."

"What was it like to live with the Dothraki?" Arya asks.

Daenerys realizes this is going to be a longer conversation than she thought and leans back into her chair to get comfortable. "It was different. We were always moving around. I saw much of the Great Green Grass Sea. It was very beautiful in its own way. They live in tents and the only city they had was Vaes Dothrak. They are a ferocious people, following only the strong."

"Were their customs very strange?," Sansa quietly asks, surprising everyone in the room that she has dropped her formal lady persona.

Daenerys barks out a laugh and shakes her head as she and Ser Jorah share another look as both remember their time with the Dothraki.

"Oh yes. They are very...open in their sexuality." Sansa blushes at that while Arya smirks. "They believe important moments in one's life, like consummation, should be done under the stars," Daenerys says. Her eyes get a far off look for a moment before focusing back on those in the room. "They made me go through...a ritual of sorts in front of the Dosh Khaleen when we were in Vaes Dothrak."

"What?," Arya asks from her seat.

Daenerys smirks as she stares right at Arya. "They made me eat a whole stallion's heart."

"No!," Sansa exclaims.

"Raw," Daenerys emphasizes.

Everyone in the room but Ser Jorah is simply staring at Daenerys with wide eyes and open jaws.

Tyrion recovers the quickest and gives a rueful shake of his head. "Oh, Your Grace, you will never stop in shocking us with your great adventures, will you?"

Daenerys pretends to sniff haughtily, "Who will keep you on your toes if I don't?"

He barks out a laugh and doesn't answer as he takes another sip of his wine.

Ser Jorah gets up then and bids them a good night, glad they safely returned.

"Where was your favorite place?" Arya asks, her questioning not done yet.

"Braavos," Daenerys tells her with a knowing smirk.

Her expression is mirrored on Arya's face as an eyebrow ticks upwards.

Daenerys' smirk turns to a smile as she elaborates why it was favorite. "When Ser Willem Darry was still with us, he, my brother and I lived in a house with a red door that had a lemon tree in the front. That was the only place that ever felt like an actual home for a long while. I always missed it when we had to leave and wished we could return to it."

"You said the Dothraki only follow the strong," Sansa states slowly. "How did you get them to follow you?" Her question hesitant as it makes its way past her lips.

Daenerys inhales slightly before she responds. "I was taken by one of the newer Khals to become one of the Dosh Khaleen after Drogon flew me out of the fighting pits in Meereen. They are the crones and widows of dead khals. They serve as seers to foretell the future and interpret omens for the Dothraki. They are the true rulers, even the greatest Khals do not disobey them. But they are forever bound to Vaes Dothrak. I would not have been able to leave had that happened." She wants to make sure these Northerners understand she did not burn the khals for nothing as she continues.

"The khals came together to decide what they wanted to do to me if they did not find me fit to be one of the Dosh Khaleen. As you can imagine, they weren't pleasant." Sansa looks down at her lap quickly before she meets Daenerys' eyes again and gives a small dip of her chin in understanding.

"In short, I told them they weren't worthy to lead the Dothraki. That they weren't strong enough. One thing lead to another and I pushed over all the lit braziers. As you can imagine, that did not go over so well in a wooden structure."

She pauses for a moment. "And I was the only one who walked out," she finishes.

Again, the Northerners are struck speechless. Jon shakes his head in wonder at this amazing creature he's lucky enough to have in his life.

Tyrion drains the last of his wine and stands up. "Well, Your Grace, I believe that is enough stories for me for one evening. I'm going to go finish preparations for the meeting tomorrow morning." And with that he makes his exit, but not before grabbing the remaining wine.

"For the road," he states without looking back.

Davos too stands up and stretches his arms over his head. "I too am ready to retire for the evening," he tells them. He turns to Missandei then. "My lady, shall I escort you to your chambers since your soldier is not here?" He gives her a genial smile and offers his arm.

Jon can't help but notice how Davos seems always to want to befriend the Naathi woman. It seems almost as if he's taken it upon himself to become the father figure for all of them in some form of fashion.

When she hesitates he says, "I'd love to hear more about those butterflies. I've not seen one in so long, I can hardly remember what they look like. And stories of your warm, peaceful home will help me pretend I'm not facing down the winter and the dead."

Missandei shakes her head slightly at the older man with a wry smile on her face.
"Oh Ser Davos, that tongue of yours is truly your best weapon. Alright," she says on defeated sigh. "Good night, Your Grace." She gives a small bow then turns to the Stark siblings. "Lord Snow, my ladies," she says with a nod then takes the proffered arm.

"That a girl! Now about these butterflies, do they land on you? Because that sounds like something my lovely Marya would absolutely adore," he says as their voices begin to recede.

Daenerys can't help but smile after them. She's found she enjoys Ser Davos. He's a good man for Jon to have.

She looks to Arya and asks, "Is there anything else you'd like to know?"

Arya shrugs. "Probably but I can't think of any at that moment."

Daenerys can't help but smirk again at the young she wolf.
"Then I think it's time to bid you a good night," she says.

Arya nods her head in response and Daenerys looks over at Jon.

"I'll be going to bed shortly," he says, knowing the question in her eyes.

"I'll escort you to your chambers, Your Grace," Sansa says as she stands.

"Thank you, Lady Sansa," she replies as she follows the tall red head out of the solar.

----------

When Sansa and the queen arrive at the hall that leads to the quarters where the queen is staying, Daenerys turns to Sansa.

"I too know what it is like to have to wall yourself up so that the world will never again know your weaknesses. To forever be on guard and never know a moment where you can shed the cloak of persona of the hard leader you've had to become," she tells Sansa quietly. There's a tiredness in her voice that Sansa can relate to.

"It is a very exhausting and lonely state of being," the queen says. Her violet eyes piercing into her own sky blue ones with what looks like sympathy. An understanding of the lives women of their status must go through every day.

A small part of her feels relieved to know that she is not alone in her feelings, but Sansa refuses to give an inch. She hasn't known this queen long enough to know whether or not she can be trusted with these sorts of personal issues, no matter that her brother and former husband can only sing her praises.

The silver queen seems to see the answer in her eyes and gives a slight nod of her.
"I am not asking you to reveal all your secrets and share your stories with me. I simply want to tell you that should you ever feel that the walls are closing in and you cannot take one more moment of the memories that refuse to leave, that you may always seek me out. For I have known much and more of what you're having to battle."

The wisdom in those eyes is so beyond the age of the woman in front of her, she is almost reminded of Bran. But she knows that her own eyes are just the same.

"Thank you, Your Grace," she murmurs softly.

"Of course, Lady Sansa," she gives a tired smile. "For women who want to change the world for the better would be fools to not try and support each other during such trying times."

The statement is said with such conviction and truth that Sansa cannot move for a few moments after the queen leaves. She's not had someone of her standing offer what she believes is friendship since she was girl. Not without wanting something from her. But Daenerys has everything she would need and has no reason to offer Sansa anything beyond tolerance.

She shakes herself from her musings and makes her way towards her own quarters. If they all survive this war, perhaps having a friend wouldn't be so bad. The thought comes so quickly and she can't help but shake her head at the constant turn of events.

A Stark thinking of befriending a Targaryen... what a world they live in.

Chapter Text

Once the door closes behind the women, Jon turns back to Arya.

"My, my Jon," she muses. "You sure know how to pick them."

He lets out a laugh at that and shrugs. They sit in comfortable silence before his expression turns serious as he looks at his favorite sister.

"What do you think of her," he asks.

She scrunches her forehead in thought for a moment before meeting his eyes and answering. "I can't say I don't admire the hells out of her. She's done what I always wanted to do as a child- forged her own path in pursuit of what she wants, disregarding normal societal standards and not caring what others thought. And you know how dragons fascinated me so that's an added plus."

"Now does that mean I'm going to accept her with open arms and completely trust her and her company? Absolutely not. But I also won't be giving her the Gift," she tells him.

He sighs to the last statement. "Well, I guess that's all I can ask for," he tells her dryly.

She sends him a smirk before shrugging. "But, it doesn't really matter what I think of her if you love her," she tells him honestly.

He raises an eyebrow at that. "Even though she's my aunt," he asks sarcastically.

She waves the question away. "Isn't that supposed to be the norm for Targaryens?," she asks cheekily as she rolls her eyes.

Again, he laughs. "Oh, little sister," he says fondly, "how I have missed you."

The air of nonchalance she wears like a second skin suddenly falls as her grey eyes meet his own. He can see the vulnerability in her features and she now looks more like the girl he knew growing up. He silently opens his arms and she jumps in them without hesitation.

"I've missed you so much, Jon," she tells him, clinging to him as though she's afraid he will vanish.

"I know," he tells her gently as he rubs her back in soothing circles the way he did when she would come to him, crying over how Sansa was the perfect lady and she was useless.

"I don't want you leave us again," she says into his neck.

"You know I have to fight, Arya," he says.

"I know that. But I meant after," she responds.

"After?," he asks, unable to follow her thoughts.

"After the war, you'll go South with her," she says as she begins to play with the strings on his tunic.

Finally understanding what she means, he sighs in exasperation. "Arya, let's focus on one war at a time. We need to actually win and survive this one before any of us can even think of what to do after."

"But you will," she says knowingly, refusing to drop the subject until she gets an answer. Her tone is so despondent, it makes him hug her closer.

"Most likely," he quietly acquiesces. "She has no one left in the world, Arya. And you're right, I do love her."

"I just got you back," she whispers.

He sits in silence as he tries to figure out what to say in response when it hits him.

"You're forgetting a very important fact, sweet sister," he says in an uplifting tone that surprises her enough to lift her head from his shoulders and pull back to look at him.

"What?"

"I now have the means to come here whenever I can and it will only take me a day or two to get here," he says with a wide grin on his face.

She realizes what he means and suddenly grins back at him. "You do, don't you?"

"Yes. And you can bet that I will be up here so much, you'll get sick of me," he says then he ruffles her hair.

She ducks out from under the offending hand and jumps off his lap as he laughs.

"I still hate that," she says as she tries to fix her hair.

He smiles at her and says, "I think it's time we go bed." He gets up and stretches his arms over his head. "Tomorrow is back to the task at hand."

She nods solemnly and makes her way to the door.

"Goodnight, Arya."

"Goodnight, Jon," she says before exiting the solar.

After he blows out the candles, he looks at Ghost. "Come on, you," he says while he holds the door open. The direwolf gets to his feet and silently follows.

He quietly makes his way down the halls. Only the night watchmen are still up at this time.

Once he reaches his room, he takes off his cloak and gloves before he adds another log to the fire. He then removes his sword and daggers and places them down. As he begins taking off the layers of clothing, he thinks over the day.

While it might not have been the most productive day in regards to planning, it was a much needed respite from everything they've all been dealing with and will have to deal with soon enough. They've planned and prepared as much as they can, have come up with ways to handle and respond to the many scenarios that could happen, and have talked to all the lords and commanders of each army. Now it is only a matter of actually preparing the fire defense lines and making sure everyone knows where they need to be. But there's only so much gloom a person can take before they lose it.

He's quite sure he's never laughed as much as he did today. From interacting with Rhaegal and flying for the first time, to getting to sit and talk to his family and friends, to being playful and bold with Daenerys.

The last thought brings a smirk to his lips and it's as though his mind called to hers because there's suddenly a soft knock on his door.

He walks across the room and opens the door to find her waiting with a soft smile gracing her lovely lips. Her hair is unbound and she's holding clothes in arms.

He doesn't say anything as he opens the door wider and she doesn't say anything as she enters. He's struck with a sense of deja vú of their first time together on the ship only this time, their roles are in reverse.

She sets the clothes in her hands over a chair before taking her boots off and neatly setting them by the chair. When she turns to face him, he raises an eyebrow and looks quickly to the clothes then back to her.
She shrugs in response and says, "If I get caught in the morning coming from the direction of your rooms, I figured it would be wiser to be seen in fresh clothes. And I'd rather not have to wake up before dawn and walk around during the coldest hours in only my night wear."

"Always the clever one, my queen," he teases as she removes her cloak.

"Did you expect anything less," she asks while she hangs the cloak up before turning to him again.

But he can't answer because she's standing before him in nothing but a shift. With the harshness of the Northern winter, it's not as revealing as the one she wore when he came to her on the ship, but it's enough to excite him.

They haven't been intimate together since the revelation of his birth. They've been orbiting around each other as though they are locked in an intricate mating dance. Neither one closing the distance but not moving away either.

And he's had enough of it.

His eyes roam over the shape of her body the shift shows as he feels a visceral pull in his stomach that has him instinctively stepping closer to her. He ends up standing toe to toe with her as his eyes lock onto her violet ones. He slowly brings his fingertips up to tuck a strand of her silver hair behind the shell of her ear then his fingers lightly brush along the side of her neck down to trace across her collarbone to the tip of her shoulder.

The action causes goose flesh to appear and her breath hitches slightly. In response, he takes in a hard breath of his own through his nose, never taking his eyes off her.

He continues to trace along the edges of her body, dragging his fingers along the side of her breast before feeling the dip of her waist and ending on the curve of her hip. They curl around it to pull himself even closer to her, needing to remove even the smallest distance between them.

He dips head down and his lips copy the trail of his fingers as he presses them right under her ear. He takes a deep breath as he lets the smell of the oils she uses fill his senses. It's a heady mixture of orange blossoms, tangerines, and nutmeg with an underlying smell of embers that always makes his mouth water. But the way they now blend seamlessly with the traces of snow, has his mind completely shutting down and all he knows is this smell and the soft skin under his roving lips.

She tilts her head to give him more access to her neck and lets out a small, breathy sigh when he nips at juncture of her neck and shoulder.

"Jon," she whispers.

He hums against her skin as hips lips continue their slow journey to her collarbone, his fingers pulling the shift aside to expose the skin underneath, refusing to pull away from her skin to give an actual response.

"May I ask what you're doing?" Her voice is still a whisper.

"I thought that was quite obvious," he murmurs as he moves to her other shoulder, moving the shift aside again before his lips taste her skin.

She huffs a silent laugh. "Yes, but you know I didn't come here for that."

He pulls back at that in confusion and looks at her, waiting for her to continue. He can't help but notice how her cheeks are a lovely shade of light pink and her pupils are large when they meet his own as she tries to collect herself.

"I don't want to ask for more than you're ready to give," she says quietly. "We can't afford to do anything that could cause regret later on. Not with what we're about to face."

The insecurity she shows him causes his throat to tighten and his chest to constrict. The trust she has that he won't ever use that against her makes his body warm.

"You're right," he says just a quietly, "we shouldn't do anything we'll regret."

Her eyes quickly flash with her sadness but it's gone with next blink. She swallows and nods as she heads towards the bed, but he grabs her wrist before she can move away.

"And I would regret nothing more than not showing you how much I love you," his voice confident and firm.

She sucks in a quick breath and the corners of her lips quirk up as she looks into his eyes.

Unable to wait a second longer, he grabs her face and presses his mouth to hers.

Her lips open the second his tongue asks for entrance and then hers dances around his own.

His hands move from her face and reach down to grab her waist and lift her up so that she's level with his mouth. Her legs around his middle and when she rubs up against his hardness, he moans into her mouth, losing the last of his control.

He he pushes her back against the tapestry covered wall to balance her so that his hands can freely trace every peak and valley he can find as his lips never stray from his hers. The softness of her skin against his calloused and burnt hands causes him to grind into her in hopes of relieving some of the strain his need is causing him.

Her fingers are in his curls, they scrape against his scalp before she takes one hand to run along his jaw. Her nails going through his beard, the hairs prick against her fingers as she moves them to cup his jaw.

His lips and teeth are sucking and biting at her lower lip, his tongue tracing the inside of her mouth in attempt to make sure none of her goes untasted.

She pulls away from his lips with a gasp as she takes huge gulps of air.

He takes a few deep breaths himself before her attaches himself to her throat. His fingers move up to cup her breast through her shift and she arches into him as he begins to move his thumb back and forth over the peak while his fingers gently knead the surrounding flesh.

"Jon, please," she moans. He can feel the wetness of her center soaking the front of his pants. The feeling and the fact that she just begged him causes a low growl to emit from his throat and she responds to it by tightening her legs around him.

His lips move to her ear and his voice is low and husky as he whispers, "What do you need?"

"You," she rasps out as her grip tightens even more, "I need you. Always you. Only you. In my body, by my side, no matter where I go."

Her confession causes him to snap. He sets her down and tears the shift off her faster than either thought possible. He then pulls his tunic over his head while she unties the laces of his trousers and they fall around his ankles.

She doesn't have a chance to admire his body because as soon as he lets go of the tunic, he grabs her up again and attacks her mouth with renewed vigor while he lays her down on his bed.

He settles himself between her thighs, the wetness coming from the tip of his length rubs against her own wet center and causes him to hiss into her mouth.

He quickly moves his lips to her ear again. "I will taste you, but not right now."

Then he braces his weight on his elbow, uses his other hand to lift her knee up and thrusts into her. The sensation causes both to gasp and moan. Her nails are moving all over his back and shoulders, trying to find purchase as his lips find hers again.

He begins a slow, steady pace. Pulling out almost all the way before he pushes back into her, circling his hips into hers in a way that allows him to hit a particularly sensitive spot inside her. Every time he hits it, she mewls and arches her hips up even more.

He releases her mouth to suck the skin of her shoulder, making sure not to leave any marks where her clothes are unable to cover.

"Yes," she moans when he bites down on a sensitive spot.

Her hands grip the top of his ass, trying to push him deeper and harder into her as the leg he's not holding up wraps high around his waist. The move allows him to go even deeper and his rhythm picks up. His hand moves from her knee to grip her rear and begins pulling her up to meet the hard descent of his hips.

He pulls back to look in her eyes as he feels the heat begin to boil in his lower belly. Her eyes are shiny with her desire and a much deeper emotion that lights a fire in his soul. He briefly wonders if this feeling is the dragon he now knows resides in him emerging and raging at finally finding another one. Like answering to like.

The only sounds in the room are the slapping of skin against skin and the breathy moans and whispered words occasionally slipping from their mouths.

He can tell her release is near with the way her walls begin to clench tightly around him. He reaches between them and begins to rub her most sensitive spot in sync with his thrusts. Her mouth drops open at the added sensation and he speeds up his thrusts even more.

He watches her face as her eyes close and she keens in pleasure. Her walls flutter and he can feel her release flow over his length. He lays himself right on top of her, their skin covered in sweat, and rutts against her in search of his own release. His head falls next hers, his breaths coming out in hard bursts, his body undulating like the sea.

After several hard thrusts, he pushes as far into her as he can and fills her with his warmth, a deep low moan escaping from his lips.

He opens his eyes and looks down at the beauty beneath him. Her eyes are glazed with sated pleasure and a dreamy smile on her lips. She reaches up to capture his and he obliges happily to her request, kissing her softly.

He feels himself softening inside her and rolls onto his back while keeping a hold on her so she lies on top. Once she settles into a comfortable position, he kisses her forehead and moves her hair off her shoulder and away from her neck to help cool her down. She hums in appreciation and begins lightly tracing his scars.

"Thank you," he whispers against her hair.

"For what?," she asks, not raising her head off his chest.

"For today."

She looks up at him now, her eyes soft. "Of course," she murmurs before kissing him softly. She settles back down and goes back to tracing his scars. When she leans over to kiss the one above his heart and places her hand over it, he shuts his eyes against the onslaught of emotion that simple gesture brings.

He stares at the ceiling for a while, listening to how her breathing slows as she drifts to sleep. When his own eyes begin to droop, he pulls her flush against him and buries his nose in her hair. He surrenders to sleep with the feel of her heart beating against his chest and the smell of orange blossoms and nutmeg filling his lungs.

Chapter Text

She's too warm.

It's the first thing that enters her mind as she comes into consciousness. She's also surrounded by the comforting smells of pine, snow, and a spicy musk that she has come to associate with Jon.

She opens her eyes to find herself lying on her side facing his chest. His right arm drapes across her waist while his left rests above her head. She blinks and tilts her head up to look at his face. The way sleep allows a person's innocence to be revealed is something she will always cherish, especially when she looks at him. Because in sleep, she can always see just how young he truly is. Gone is the furrowed brow, the solemn expression that hardens the smooth features of his comely face. His curls, free from the leather string that he uses to keep them away from his face, lay scattered around his head.

As she gazes at him, she can't help but wonder if gods really do play parts in their lives. Because for two people who come from entirely different ends of the earth, they have gone through such similar experiences that have helped shape them into the people they are today.

They're two pieces that, when looked at separately, would appear as though they would never work. But, when brought together and placed side by side, they fit perfectly.

His ice cools and tempers her fire. While her fire in turn melts away the brutal coldness of his ice. One never fully overpowering the other as the two elements twine around each other in an eternal dance.

Even their looks are the exact opposite. His dark blending beautifully against her light. Which is ironic since they're both Targaryens, sharing in the flame of Old Valyria that burns inside of them.

He's her perfect match. Everything she lacks, he possesses. It's something she never knew she needed, but now that she has it, has him, she will not let go.

She pulls herself out of her reverie when she feels beads of sweat begin to form on her brow. She shifts slightly to reach for the pillow underneath then places it between them as she carefully shifts away so that his arm now holds the pillow. Free of his embrace, she quietly gets out of the bed. The furs on the floor absorb the sounds of her steps as she walks to her clothes and changes into them.

Once dressed, she puts her white cloak on and takes her night clothes as she makes for the door. She casts a quick glance at the sleeping man before opening the door and stepping out into the hall.

Luckily, it is still early enough that, aside from the guards posted, only the cooks and some servants are awake and out of their rooms. She enters her room and sets her clothes on the foot of her bed. She grabs her brush and quickly combs through her hair. She decides to settle on braiding back the hair on each side of her face then joins the two small strands at the back of her head and entwines them with the remaining pieces of hair to create one large braid that falls down her back. Once finished, she heads out to see if there is any food prepared.

As she wanders the halls of Winterfell, she comes across several maids and servants. She gives them genuine smiles which they either return hesitantly or not at all, too baffled at the sight of her kindness to respond.

The Great Hall is empty when she arrives, the only noise is the crackling of the lit fires and the occasional tap of shoes as servants come in and out from the kitchens.

She notices that instead of the single table on the raised dais with the others below, the tables have all been put together to create one giant table at the foot of the dais. She surmises that Sansa must have decided it would be best to go over plans as soon as they broke their fast, which Daenerys agrees is wise. It will give them all more time to prepare and allows her and Jon to go look at the site he has chosen. So, she sits down at what she presumes is the middle with her back facing the main fire and sips on spiced cider as she waits for the others.

As she waits, she begins to review the battle plans they have already decided on and those she wants to add on to.

She's so lost in thought as she stares down at the table, envisioning the layout of positions, that she doesn't notice that she's joined by another until a throat is cleared. She looks up into the green eyes of Jaime Lannister.

She's kept her distance from the older of the two lions. She understands what her father was, what Tyrion had told her Aerys had tried to do to King's Landing at the end of the rebellion. How the elder brother was put in a position that, no matter what he chose, he would lose.

That didn't mean she had to like him. And while she could understand that, he also made extremely horrid choices that were purely for his own selfish gain. Choices that needlessly cost lives.

But, against all the vows and oaths he's broken in his past, he has kept two. One to the Lady Catelyn and one to them. He rode to the North alone to offer himself, knowing full well he would not be welcomed and possibly executed on sight. But, he ended up bringing the few men that chose to follow him and help them. After seeing the wight they apparently told other soldiers what was coming and convinced them to ride North. And if she can overlook Jorah's betrayal and allow him to come back to serve her, then she cannot overlook that.

So, she nods her head in greeting to the stiff knight as he waits for her to either invite him to sit or send him away.

"Ser Jaime," she says slowly, motioning to the table, "please sit."

His right eyebrow twitches up the slightest bit at the invitation before bowing his head and taking his seat.

"Forgive the intrusion," he says once he's settled.

"It wasn't as though you were intruding on anything important, Ser," she tells him as she motions to the empty room. "As you can see, I was not conversing with anyone."

His lips give the barest hint of a smirk at her sarcasm. "True," he says lightly, "but you seemed to be deep in thought."

"Running through battle plans," she responds.

"I see," he says, a tense silence settling over them.

"Ser Jaime, I will be honest with you," she says in a steely voice as her eyes narrow slightly at the golden lion. "I do not like you. Aside from slaying of King Aerys," she watches as he stiffens ever so slightly, "there are many things you have done against people of this realm. Things you have allowed to happen and things you have outright lied about, again at the cost of so many lives." She pauses and again watches as he stares at the table and clenches his fist so tightly that his
knuckles turn white.

"But," she says and waits until his emerald eyes meet hers, "you have honored your oath to come help us in protecting this realm. As well as offering your skills in battle and agreeing to aid in the command of the ground forces when Lord Jon and I will be in the air. And for that, I am extremely grateful. So, I will grant you the benefit of the doubt and allow you to use this war as a way to prove that you can indeed be the noble knight you started as when you were anointed. Should we survive, you will never again be judged for your past sins by me and I will make it known to all. Words are wind, but you know I speak the truth simply by looking at the members of my council and those I fight alongside. Actions are what I search for in a person to judge their true character.”

He stares at her completely dumbfounded, not believing what he heard come out of her mouth.

She stays silent and keeps eye contact with him as he regards her words. A flicker of respect and gratitude enters his eyes as he tilts his head to the side. "I am very grateful for the opportunity, your grace," he murmurs.

She gives a curt nod and turns her head towards the door when she hears voices.

Tyrion enters through first followed by the rest of her small council members.

Tyrion's eyes widen when he sees that it is only her and Jaime in the room then bounce between them as he tries to assess how he should respond.

She decides to quell his worries as he makes his way up to the table. "All is well my Lord Hand," she says.

He meets her eyes and slowly releases a breath as he nods to her before taking his seat next to her and has Jaime come sit across from him. Missandei sits on the other side of Tyrion, with Grey Worm next her. Varys and Jorah take the seats across from them.

The Stark siblings all come in together. The sisters and Jon converse quietly as he pushes Bran's chair. They're followed by Ser Davos as he talks animatedly to Gendry Waters. Sam follows them with stacks of parchments in his arms. Next comes Lady Brienne and her squire, Pod who's listening to something that Bronn is telling him. Tormund follows behind Brienne as if he were her shadow while she tries in vain to ignore him, though her cheeks appear slightly flushed. The Hound and Lord Beric Dondarrion along with the current Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Dolorous Edd, enter next. The rest of the Northern and Vale lords file in, having been told of Sansa's summons to go over their plans as soon as they finish breaking their fast.

As they join the table, Jon glances at her and raises his eyebrow, his eyes dancing even though his face remains still. She lifts her chin slightly in response, her own brow mimicking his. The corners of his lips fight to lift up as his neutral expression cracks the tiniest bit.

He looks away as he settles Bran's chair across from his own. Then he walks around to take his seat to her right. Lady Sansa sits on his right while Lady Arya takes up the seat across from her. Everyone else takes their seats and begins to eat.

"Did you sleep well, Your Grace?," Sansa asks Dany as they eat.

Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Jon pause as he raises his food to his mouth, but it's so quick that she's not even sure if it truly happened.

"I slept extremely well, Lady Sansa. With all of the activities yesterday, it was very easy to fall asleep," she replies lightly, not giving anything away.

"It's fascinating how warm the rooms can be. I actually woke up feeling quite hot. A feat I wouldn't have thought possible with these Northern winter winds," she says as she turns to take a sip of her drink.

Lady Sansa smiles slightly. "Yes, the hot springs underneath help keep the rooms quite warm. It's very helpful in times like these," she says quietly then returns to her meal.

Not able to help herself, Dany turns towards her Northern wolf.

"And how did you sleep, my lord?," she asks.

His eyes flicker to those around them before settling on her, giving her a look that tells her he knows exactly what she is doing.

"I too, slept very well. Probably the best sleep I've had in a fortnight," he says, his expression calm.

She hums in reply and continues to eat her meal.

"I'm sure it was," Arya says slyly, giving her brother a knowing look.

Dany bites the inside of her cheek to hide her amusement while Tyrion chokes on the wine he was currently drinking. Jon's face flushes ever so slightly as he gives his sister an annoyed look.

The young she wolf simply gives her brother an impish grin before turning to Gendry and talking to him.

Once everyone has finished, Sam lays out a giant map of the North on the table.

"My lords," Jon says seriously to the group, "now that the dead have a new advantage against us, we will need to adjust accordingly. We have less than a fortnight until they reach us."

They all murmur their agreement and he takes that as a sign to continue.

"Now, we have all the blacksmiths and armorers working on forging the dragonglass. As requested, we will have spear heads for the Unsullied, arrow heads for archers and Dothraki, daggers, and they're also fitting it onto the weapons we already have," Jon tells the assembled table before looking at the map.

"I still think the best location to meet them would be slightly north of the Lonely Hills here," Jon says pointing to its location on the map. "It gives us Long Lake to the west, preventing them from surrounding us. It also gives Winterfell enough time to flee should we fall. But, should we succeed, it's not too far away and will make it easier to transport the wounded."

"You ought to execute the same plan Lord Tyrion did at the Battle of the Blackwater," Davos says. Tyrion raises his eyebrows at the idea as his mind begins to work through everything needed to apply the technique on land.

"And what would that be?," Dany asks as she watches her Hand.

"We were able to lure the ships into the bay. Once there, we lifted an underwater chain for the ships to wreck into and then set the bay alight with wildfire," he tells her, meeting her eyes.

Dany can't help but be impressed and she sees the others at the table feel the same.

"That should be possible," Jon says slowly.

Tyrion nods as he voices his thoughts. "The hardest part would be the exact location of where the fire lines would go. It would be best to have wood on top of the oil line so that we don't use all of our supplies and still have barrels for the catapults. But it would take out at least the first two lines of wights."

He then meets Dany’s violet gaze head on. "You'll have to be the one to light them," he gravely tells her.

She nods, already preparing for this. "I am fine with that. The dragons will light them then immediately fly up and stay out of range from any of the White Walkers. I will periodically try to come down and have them help with the wights until they need to return to a higher position."

Tyrion hums in agreement.

"The key," Jon says, "is to get the Night King out of the sky. As long as he's in the air, our chances of actually winning this war are next to none." His gaze meets Daenerys', knowing the pain it will cause her to have to shoot down her own child. Even if that child is no longer truly hers.

She gives him a firm nod of her head, her gaze full of determination.

Murmurs of agreement ripple through those present as they begin to think on how to make this possible.

"What we need," Jaime says, looking at Bronn, "is a scorpion."

The sellsword's eyes light up at the idea. "Oh, that'll definitely be able to bring it down," he says confidently.

"Are you referring to the mechanism you used to try and take me down, Ser Bronn," Dany coolly asks as her gaze narrows on the man.

"That's the one," Bronn replies, purposefully ignoring the silver queen's tone.

Before anything can get out of hand, Tyrion clears his throat. "Do you know how it's made?," he asks Ser Jaime and Bronn.

"The basics," Bronn says with a small shrug.

Jon purses his lips in thought. "That'll have to do. If you can speak to our craftsmen about it once we're done here, it'll give us more time to fix any possible issues."

Bronn gives him a nod.

Jon then looks at Jaime. "Ser Jaime, if you'll also tell the craftsmen anything you can about the device, it can help."

"As much as I can," Jaime tells him.

"What will the projectile be made of?," Arya asks as she looks around the table.

"Valryian steel would be best," Bran says solemnly, his face void of emotion.

Lady Sansa looks at Bran with a hard stare. "Only we don't know how to make Valryian steel," she tells him.

Sam suddenly sits up. "Actually," he says, turning slightly red as all eyes turn towards him. "I may or may not have... borrowed some very old records from the Citadel that I brought with me."

The expressions at that statement range from shocked to highly amused as he swallows before continuing. "And I perhaps found a way." Now, every jaw in the room, save Bran's, has dropped.

"As we know, the steel must be forged with dragon fire,” he says, looking at Dany. "And until recently, we have not had dragons to make that possible."

"Are you telling us that you know the way to forge Valryian steel?," Ser Jaime asks Sam in slight awe.

"I believe I do," Sam answers a bit hesitantly, knowing he can't lie and say he does when he's not absolutely sure of it.

"We need more than that, Sam. We need certainty," Jon says kindly to his friend.

Sam looks at Jon for a moment before answering. "It will take me a day or two to comb through but if I can't find the exact method, I understand the principle of the process enough to know what will be needed," he answers more confidently then before.

"Do we even have someone who is skilled enough to forge it?," Daenerys asks Jon and Sansa.

"I can," Gendry says from beside Arya. "I apprenticed for Tobho Mott in King's Landing before I left."

Tyrion and Jaime's eyes widen at that piece of information, both extremely familiar with the master smith's work.

Noticing her Hand's reaction, Daenerys asks, "Will that work?"

The Lannister brothers share a hopeful look before Tyrion slowly nods. "It should indeed, Your Grace."

She turns to the blacksmith then. "Will you help Sam and see if his explanation is enough for you to work with? Then whatever else you need, he can find."

He meets the striking violet eyes of the queen and swallows hard before answering, "Yes, Your Grace."

"We need to get the Night King somewhat close though," Jaime says.

"I can lure him to you," Daenerys says then turns to Jon. "But I'll most likely need your help. With what Tormund and Ser Beric have said, I won't be fast enough to outlast them and I cannot command both while keeping away."

"I can alternate between the ground and the air," he tells her. "I will pass Longclaw to Ser Jorah when I go up with you."

"We currently have five Valryian blades amongst us," Jon tells the group. "Those with them will be tasked with finding and eliminating the White Walker lieutenants. Unfortunately, they're going to be either in the middle of the horde or farther back. So, you'll have others with you so that they can help form a path."

Jon looks over to the Hound. "Clegane, you'll take the Tarly sword."

"Fine with me," The Hound dryly replies.

Ser Jaime's eyebrows shoot to his hairline and he looks over at Sam, who's gone a dark red shade. "I'd wondered why I didn't see Lord Tarly with Heartsbane," he said to the man.

"It appears our Sam here is full of surprises," Edd say cheerfully as he smacks Sam on the back.

Jon smirks at the two Brothers before his expression grows serious as he turns to face the Northern lords, knowing they will not like what he's about to say.

"Now," he says, "Queen Daenerys and I have discussed and agreed that Ser Jaime will help command the troops when I must join her in the air. I have also spoken with him about useful strategies and we will hear them out."

He gives the Northerners a warning look, showing he will not accept any objection to his decision. They share unpleased looks but thankfully say nothing.

Ser Jaime nods at Jon and begins. "In regards to placement," he says, "it would be best to have the catapults either scattered about or in small groups that are far enough away from each other that they can't all be extinguished from above in one fell swoop."

"The scorpion cannot be seen," he continues, "If they find out what the purpose of it is, it will be taken out immediately."

"It would probably be best to have empty barrels placed on it to make it look as though it is just another cart," Tyrion muses.

"That will be fine," Jon says.

"Now for formation, it would be best to have long shields in front," Jaime says.

"Half of the Unsullied will go behind the long shields and use their own to cover and spear dead that come from above," Grey Worm says.

"As long as your men can make it out before the weight of the bodies becomes too much and they get trampled over," Jon says as he remembers Hardhome and how the wights stepped over and crawled on top of each other to get to them. Snapping out of the memory, he sees Grey Worm look at him for a moment before dipping his chin in acquiescence.

"We'll need all of our archers to fire lit arrows into the dead once they're close enough. So they'll need enough room for the oiled arrows to sit along with small fires so that they can light them," Jon continues.

"It would help if the men were spread out slightly or have a way to make sure that the living aren't too mixed with the dead so that it will be easier for the dragons when they come down and I won't accidentally incinerate our own soldiers," she tells them.

All the lords nod in agreement to that.

"It'll also ensure we don't lose our entire force immediately once the horde hits us," Jon says, tapping his finger on the map.

"The dead will not have any strategy or formation of their own. The White Walkers will simply send them right at us and have them overwhelm us. But I believe tight square formations like The Unsullied would work," he concludes.

"I do think the Dothraki would be better used to come in from the side and attack from the rear," Ser Jaime says as he marks the map. "The wights will be too focused on those in front to notice the sides until it is too late. And the riders will be overpowered if they face the dead head on."

"Agreed," Dany says.

"The Vale cavalry should stay back to protect the right flanks of the troops along with a light infantry since Long Lake will protect the left," Jaime says.

He then looks at Lord Royce and adds, "If that's acceptable to you, my lord."

The Lord Protector of Vale pursues his lips as he looks at map then silently nods his head in agreement.

"The Free Folk can be part of that," Val tells Ser Jaime.

"The rest of the Northern soldiers, Westerland soldiers, Free Folk, and the remaining Southern armies will make up the infantry of the left, center, and right wings," Ser Jaime concludes.

"The remaining Unsullied can make up the reserves as well as guard the archers and catapults," Jon tells Grey Worm.

Everyone murmurs their acceptance of this arrangement.

"My lords and ladies, I believe that is all we can do for the day. It's now time to prepare. The queen and I will leave to look over the land and get a better feel of the placements," he says to gathered company.

They all begin to get up and set out on the tasks given until it is only the Starks, Ser Davos, and Daenerys' small council.

"Guard the entrances and make sure no one is nearby to overhear," she tells Grey Worm. He takes the Unsullied standing by the door and they all go out.

When they hear a knock signifying that the guards are posted, she turns back.

"Now, I would rather not have to worry about Cersei should we survive," Dany says the group.

"Do we know when the Golden Company is to arrive?," she asks, her eyes going across the map.

"Little under a moon's time, Your Grace," Varys tells her.

She turns to look at her Master of Whispers then and asks, “Lord Varys, how many men will Cersei have with the Golden Company?"

"My little birds have told me she expects 20,000 men with horses and elephants, Your Grace," he replies calmly.

Worried glances are exchanged between the Westerosi at the news of the elephants as none of them have ever fought such animals.

Dany taps her fingers on the table as she remembers everything she knows about the Golden Company and it's leaders from when Viserys had dined with them with to appease them to help him reclaim the throne before they left with the Dothraki.

"Is Myles Toyne still the captain-general?," she asks Jorah.

"I believe it's Harry Strickland now, Your Grace," Jorah answers hesitantly.

She then turns to Tyrion. "We know your sister has paid them," she says to him. He nods in reply. Her gaze darts between Tyrion and Varys. "But do either of you believe she has offered the reward they truly seek?," she asks with an unreadable expression as she seeks the confirmation she needs.

"I'm not sure," Tyrion says, beginning to catch on to what she is implying. He looks to Varys who gives a small shake of his head with raised eyebrows as he too begins to see where this is going.

"I only know of the payment, but I'm sure my little birds can find out if there's more to the offer," Varys says as he looks back to the queen.

She smirks at her Hand then. "And what do you imagine they would do, my lord Hand, if they heard that not only will they be up against the last scions of House Targaryen, but that I can give them what Bittersteel and the Blackfyres could not?," she asks slyly.

The answering smirk is so devilish that it makes the others at the table see just how dangerous the council of Daenerys Stormborn can be.

"Oh, Your Grace. Why, I do believe it could be possible to witness them break a contract for the very first time. Especially now that there are so many empty castles in need of lords," he answers with a jovial tone.

"Wouldn't you agree, my friend?," he asks mischievously, turning to Varys.

The Spider hums as his lips twitch slightly. "Even if Cersei has agreed to the their terms, who's to say she will uphold her end of the bargain? You and I have seen how much she favors in ripping apart signed declarations," he says to Tyrion.

Tyrion nods. "Although, I think it would be wise to plan should they refuse. But that can wait until we are finished with this war and actually survive it," Tyrion said.

"Your Grace," Missandei spoke up then. "Do we need to inform the Second Sons that they may be needed?"

The name of the sellsword company causes Jon to stiffen. He's heard plenty from Tyrion about the commander she left behind in Meereen as she crossed the Narrow Sea.

Tyrion casts a quick glance in Jon's direction but Jon doesn't notice it. His eyes are glued to his silver haired love. She purses her lips in thought then looks around the room at the others. When her eyes land on him, she holds his stare for only a second longer before they move on.

"If we have no other choice and there is time for them to be able to come, then perhaps. For now, it will serve as a reminder of the amount of allies House Targaryen has at its back should the captains deny my generous offer and believe us to be an easy win," she concludes.

"Do we know what houses they're from?," Jon asks no one in particular, trying to steer them away from the current topic.

"When I left there were 3 brothers who were definitely from House Peake. The others had the surnames of houses Mandrake, Lothson, Strong, Cole, and Mudd, though it's not known that they're actually true descendants of those houses," Jorah explains. "As well as many bastards from the Crownlands, Westerlands and even some from the Vale. The rest are Essossi."

"House Peake had three castles in the Reach," Sam tells them.

"Starpike is currently under the control of the Lannisters. So I can see how Cersei could hold that over them," Tyrion says.

"The only problem I see is that Strickland is a coward," Jorah tells the table. "It will be difficult to convince him to break their current contract and bring him to our side."

"So then we don't persuade Strickland," Tyrion says. "We persuade the others in charge. If he is a coward then he will most likely bend to the will of his sergeants."

"That should work," Jorah says, slowly nodding his head in thought.

"It's settled then," Dany says, addressing the table. "We will send an envoy to treat with them."

She looks to Lord Varys then. "My lord, I know the journey will be long, but I believe you are the most qualified for this task," she says calmly. "If you can convince my Hand that I am someone he can follow and support, then exiled lords and sellswords that wish to come back to their ancestral home should not prove to be difficult at all."

Varys bows his head at the compliment given. "I thank you, Your Grace," he says, "and if that is where you need me, I shall go. I'm quite capable of blending in to my surroundings."

"Then we will arrange for you to leave at once," she says then looks to Jon.

He nods and turns to Lady Arya with a small smile. "Well, are you ready to go?," he asks.

She quickly looks over herself to make sure she isn't forgetting anything and that everything is secure then looks back up at Jon and nods. Her eyes alight with excitement.

Dany turns to Tyrion. "And are you ready?," she asks.

He looks at her startled. "Am I ready for what, Your Grace?," he asks confused.

"To go look at where we need to begin preparations. You are the one in charge of the set up of the first defense and you said you were unsure of where to put the fire lines," she calmly explains. "It would be illogical to wait while you went on horseback."

He stares at her with wide eyes as he understands what exactly she means before asking, "You wish for me to ride with you?"

"Yes, my Lord Hand," she says as she rises out of her seat, the rest of them following suit, and makes her way towards the doors. She looks back over her shoulder in exasperation. "Lord Tyrion, we need to leave while we still have what little light remains."

Tyrion shakes himself out of his stupor and glances down at himself. Seeing nothing wrong, he walks quickly to catch up to his queen.

Chapter Text

Once outside, the group makes its way to the clearing near the Wolfswood and looks up as the dragons slowly fly down to land, their shadows covering the land below.

Drogon lands first, the great beast screeching his arrival for all to hear. Rhaegal drops down next to him and joins his brother.

Daenerys hands Tyrion a leather tie, which he takes with a raised brow. "I would recommend tying your hair back as best you can, my lord Hand," she says before walking away. He does as he's bid and quickly ties back the hair that will stay in.

The excitement coming from Arya and Tyrion is palpable as they watch the two Targaryens approach the dragons; Daenerys with the ease only a mother could display and Jon with a slight hesitancy before he straightens his shoulders and walks with a more confident gait as his direwolf trailed behind him.

The giant creatures lower their heads to greet their riders and those watching the exchange are struck with the image of the silver haired woman and raven haired man petting the dragons as though they were common house pets. The dragons' colors a vivid contrast to the vast white of the snow covered forest. Never before had a sight such as this been seen and the onlookers knew that it is something they were fortunate enough to witness.

The riders turn and beckon the two over and they approach carefully. Arya can feel the heat coming off them as she gets closer. Once she's in front of the green dragon, she stands perfectly still as the dragon's great maw comes right up to her, she's now able to perfectly see the teeth as long as her arm in his mouth along with the smaller ones jutting out of his top gums. She remembers what Jon instructed to do and allows the green dragon to smell her before eyes like melted bronze turn to Jon.

He smiles at the dragon and pats its nose reassuringly.

"You'll be good for Arya, won't you?," he asks, not caring that he's speaking Common Tongue. He figures that Rhaegal will have to learn sometime because he knows that he won't ever be able to remember everything in Valyrian.

The dragon rumbles in response before it looks at Arya again. Her grey eyes watch in fascination as it slowly lowers its shoulders, giving them permission to mount. Jon goes first, stepping on the limb of its wing then begins to pull himself up the dragon's shoulder, all the while showing her where to step and what spikes to grab, until he's seated between the shoulder blades. She follows easily, taking in every detail of the texture of its skin, the feel of the spikes between her fingers, the almost painful heat that radiates from within. Then she's seated behind Jon and he has her hold onto the spikes on either side of his waist so she'll have purchase when they take off. They wait as Tyrion and Daenerys mount Drogon.

Tyrion almost wants to pinch himself, sure that this is a dream. The one thing he's wanted since he was a child is actually coming true. He watches Daenerys murmur to Drogon in Valyrian. Then the black dragon lowers itself down and she steps onto it, turning to take his hand and help pull him up. Once they're both on the limb, she climbs up its shoulder and situates herself on its back. Tyrion follows her lead and is able to reach her without much difficulty. She scoots back and gestures in front of her.

"It will be easier to have you in front, my lord," she tells him, "then you'll be able to hold on to Drogon's spine."

He plants himself where she tells him to and grabs hold of the spikes he's seen her hold onto. Then she reaches around him, pulling herself flush against his back, and puts her hands underneath his own.

She looks over at Jon and he gives her a nod that they're ready then leans down and murmurs, "Are you ready?"

Not wanting to make a fool of himself by showing just how ready he is to fly, he nods, biting his lip in anticipation.

Dany smirks fondly at how her hand tries to unsuccessfully contain himself.

"Sōvēs," she murmurs. The muscles in Drogon's back writhe and bunch then they're moving. Lifting off the ground with great beats of its wings, gaining altitude until they pass the trees. The wind snapping at the skin exposed as they continue to rise. He can't help the giant smile on his face as he looks down at the others for the first time in his life. He sees Rhaegal follow them into the white sky and then they really soar.

Arya can't help the squeal of delight as they lift into the air. Its a sensation she never thought she'd experience, let alone with her favorite brother. She hears Jon laugh at her excitement then has Rhaegal push himself a bit harder so he's next to Drogon. She turns to see Tyrion grinning like a mad man while Daenerys is laughing behind him. Daenerys then looks at Jon and gives him a wicked grin before she speaks into Tyrion's ear, she sees the dwarf nod emphatically and grab the spikes tighter before the black dragon suddenly dashes away from them through the white and grey clouds.

Jon laughs at the sight. "Oh, little sister," Jon yells to her, tilting his head to the side so she can hear him over the rushing wind and claps of Rhaegal's wings. "I believe we've just been issued to a race," he says.

"Well then what are you waiting for?," she yells back delightedly.

"Hold on!," he yells. Rhaegal lets out a shriek as they begin to speed after the black beast.

It's the first time since she left Winterfell all those years ago that she feels like a young girl again. Screaming gleefully as the dragon's swerve and glide around each other, creating a beautiful dance in the air. They occasionally nip at each other and screech, what she believes, in enjoyment.

When they disappear into thick clouds, she lets go of one of the spikes to reach her hand out and feel them pass through her gloved fingers. It's an odd sensation as they hit her face, she can feel the slight thickness of them but they're damper than she imagined.

She can't feel her face anymore due to the cold but doesn't mind in the least. But when she needs respite from the biting winds, she simply hides behind Jon's back. She's extremely thankful for the heat of the dragon beneath her to balance the winter air around them.

They continue their journey over the white lands. Flying over the empty houses and keeps below that look like they could fit in her hand. If she had a dragon, she'd fly around the world and see as much of it as she could. She imagines what the lands look like in the spring. She makes a note to tell Jon she expects him to take her up again should they all live to see the warmer climates so she can find out.

After hours of flying, they begin to steadily lower themselves as they make their way past the Dreadfort, up over the Lonely Hills towards Long Lake. She sees a massive flat expanse by the lake and can see the appeal of using this land for battle.

She looks over to see Daenerys and Tyrion talking and pointing as they circle around the area as they begin to land. When they hit the ground, it's a bit jarring to feel the vibration of the impact run through the dragon and into her.

Jon gives Rhaegal a few pats and murmurs softly to it before it lowers its upper body for them to dismount. Once they dismount, the two dragons rise back up into the air and fly off in search of food.

Daenerys pulls her cloak tighter around her, trying not to shiver, as Jon and Arya walk up to them.

Arya sees how both of their cheeks are flushed from the cold wind and the hair not tied back stands around their faces like light halos. She's sure she and Jon look exactly the same. The Hand's face filled with exhilaration from their journey.

Jon gives the queen a sympathetic smile at the sight of her struggle and stands facing her so that his back blocks the wind, to which she awards him with a grateful look. Arya has to bite her tongue to keep from teasing her brother's acute attentiveness towards his silver haired love.

"Well, my lord," she says looking down at her hand expectantly.

Tyrion also tucks his cloak more firmly around himself and pulls his hood over his head as he looks out across the field.

"The fire lines will need to go all the way to the shore of the lake," he tells her as he begins walking.

"Do you know if the Vale horses do well with fire?," he asks Jon.

"I'm sure not as well as the Dothraki but they're good enough," he replies.

"It'd be useful to have the first fire line go around the fighters, then the dead can't simply go around it and overwhelm you from the side before the Dothraki can come in," Tyrion says.

"We'll see that it's done," Daenerys tells her hand before looking at Jon.

"I believe the scorpion should be by the trees," she tells him, turning around and pointing towards the section of field right in front of the hills.

"That will work," Jon tells her. "It's out of the way enough to look inconspicuous but not too far to make it difficult to lure him to it."

The three nod their agreement as they continue to look around.

"I think it wise that should one of you fall and you become overwhelmed," Tyrion says grimly, not wanting to actually say this but knowing they must plan for every outcome, "the one that remains should light as much of the trees on fire as you can."

The two share a look before nodding silently.

"Ser Jaime's idea of grouping the catapults together at different angles will be able to work as well," Jon says as he looks at the field, picturing where they'll go.

"We can do four groups of three, each diagonal to the other. It will make it too difficult for the Night King to simply fly over. He'll have to really maneuver to get them all, which will leave him too open for us to attack," he concludes.

"How far out do the fire lines need to be?," Arya asks.

Tyrion purses his lips as he remembers the trap on the bay.

"I'd say about a league for the first then half a league for the second," he tells them. "Then should the queen need to douse them a third time, it will still be far enough away that it shouldn't effect you all."

"Agreed," Daenerys says with a curt nod.

Jon then turns to Arya, his eyes hard like steel.

"I want you near me the entire time," he tells her.

"Jon, I can handle myself fine," she says exasperated, feeling like a child again.

"I know you can but I still want you near me. I've seen you fight with Lady Brienne but you still only have a dagger. And the White Walkers are stronger than Lady Brienne and the Hound combined," he says, watching her eyes widen a fraction at this new knowledge of their enemy. Jon glances over at the other two seeing the grim look shared between them.

"Besides, I will constantly worry about you and I know Sansa will also want us to keep close to each other. The pack survives, Arya. And there are too few of us left," he says, not relenting in his decision.

She stares petulantly at him for a moment as she reads his face. She can see the worry that creases the corner of eyes and mouth and the openness of his gaze tells her he's being honest about his reasons.

"Fine," she sighs unable to argue about such a request.

He gives her a grateful smile and kisses her forehead.

She turns to see Daenerys giving them a small smile at the exchange before she snaps back into focus and looks at her Hand.

"Is there anything else we should discuss while we're here," she asks him.

"No, your Grace. I believe that's all," he replies.

She turns to Jon and raises a pale brow in question.

"I'm satisfied," he tells her.

She nods and looks back up to the sky, silently calling her children.

They have to wait a few minutes before they hear the calls from above.

Once again, they climb onto the dragons and get situated then they're back off into the sky.

They fly around the field one more time to make sure they're satisfied then head back towards Winterfell.

When the dragons are high enough to begin to glide on the Northern winds, Daenerys leans down towards Tyrion to ask, "You're satisfied with the layout?"

He nods his head. "Jaime will be pleased with it as well. Jon did well to have the lake act as a natural barrier since our armies will be outnumbered."

"I think so as well," she says.

Then, "And did you enjoy the ride?," she smirks as they turn slightly through the clouds.

He gives a jovial laugh at that. "Oh, my queen, if we do end up all dying, at least I will leave this world having achieved a feat no dwarf has ever done."

Her bell laugh gets swallowed by the wind, as though the elements themselves are greedy to keep a piece of this charismatic woman.

By the time they land in the wolfswood, twilight has fallen over the lands and the air is already much colder.

They quickly dismount from the dragons, Daenerys giving the dragons a soft thanks before taking the offered arm Jon has extended towards her.

As they walk back, Daenerys turns to Arya. "Did you enjoy yourself?," she asks kindly.

Arya looks at her for a moment before she gives her a small smile and nods her head.

"They're magnificent," she says quietly, her voice wistful.

The answering smile is so stunning in its joy, Arya thinks that this woman could have the entire world bow down to her by simply giving them a smile like this.

"I think they are too," she tells her. "They're as awe inspiring as they are terrifying. But not many see them for the beautiful wonders that they are. Instead, they look upon them with fear at what they can do to their enemies and lust at the power they can bring them."

"I'm sure that will change should we defeat the army of the dead," Arya says.

The queen's purple eyes turn sad then at the reminder that her own child is amongst the dead ones and is now the most feared out of the entire army, excluding the Night King himself. Jon places his free hand on hers and squeezes it as he brings her closer to him. Lord Tyrion slightly winces then looks over at his queen sympathetically. 

Realizing her mistake in bringing up her dead dragon, Arya tries to correct herself. "I mean," she stutters unsure of how to comfort someone, much less Daenerys Targaryen.

Daenerys shakes her head and smiles sadly at her. "It's alright. You didn't say anything wrong. It's just hard," she tells her quietly.

"But you're right, should we win this war, hopefully the people won't be so adamantly against them," Daenerys says as they come to the doors to the keep.

Once inside, they make their way to the Great Hall. When they arrive the only ones that are present in the Hall are those closest to the queen and Jon. They all sit at the raised table, talking quietly amongst themselves. 

Tyrion nods at Jaime as they sit at the table and begin to add food to their plates.

"It will work," he tells his brother.

Jaime nods and looks at Jon. "And the catapults?"

"Four groups of three should do the trick," he tells the Golden knight.

Jon eats his food then looks at Sam. "Were you and Gendry able to work out everything you need for the Valryian steel?"

Sam nods his head excitedly. "It looks like it. He wants to test it on a smaller piece to make sure so he won't use all the steel," he says looking at the queen.

She looks at him with interest and nods her head. "I can go ask how he wishes to have one of the dragons light the forge as soon as I finish eating," she tells the brother with a small smile.

"Thank you, Your Grace," Sam tells her softly.

"Thank you, Samwell. It was not I who found this information. I am just glad my children can assist," she tells him demurely.

His face flushes slightly at the compliment, still not used to the disarming beauty of the queen when she uses it on him. Gilly hides her amusement behind her hand before looking to Daenerys, giving her a shrug and shake of her head.

Daenerys' smile grows at the kind gesture of the Wildling girl.

Jaime turns to Tyrion with a teasing smile. "So, little brother," he drawls which has Tyrion on alert instantly. "It seems as though your wish was granted today."

"Wish?," Daenerys asks the knight.

Emerald eyes meet her violet ones and the smile falters slightly as he clears his throat.

"When he was a child, he once asked for a dragon for his nameday. But, of course there were no dragons at that time. He was always fascinated by them," he tells her quietly as he looks back at his younger brother, his eyes softening a bit.

"Did he?," she asks, looking at her Hand. "Well, as he said, should we die, at least he will have ridden a dragon."

Her Hand nods, raising his goblet. "To being able to finally look down you lot," he toasts then drains his wine.

"Did you enjoy yourself?," Sansa asks, looking at the young she wolf.

"Yes," Arya responds with a sniff. "And should we survive, I expect Jon to take me up again once spring comes so I can see what it looks like then," giving Jon a hard stare to show her seriousness.

The others chuckle at her response and Jon nods his agreement.

Daenerys wipes her mouth before standing up. "I shall go have Drogon light the forge," she tells the table and grabs an empty goblet.

The others stand as well to follow, wanting to watch. Jon gives the goblet a quizzical look but offers his arm to her again as they lead the others out to the snowy courtyard to the armory.

Upon arrival, Gendry sees the entourage and wipes his brow off before walking to them. He gives Daenerys a slight bow before looking at Jon expectantly.

"Daenerys has come to see what you need from the dragons and the rest of us simply wanted to watch," he tells the smith lightly.

"Ah," Gendry nods and looks back at Daenerys. "Instead of regular fire to forge the steel, I'll need one of the dragons to light it, Your Grace," he says.

"Of course," she tells him. "Will this forge be big enough?," she asks looking at the fire pit in the room, trying to make sure her dragon won't catch the entire armory on fire.

Gendry looks around as well. And slowly nods. "It should be. We can move things around though so nothing catches," he says.

"I'm assuming you'll need blood for the spells," she tells the smith point blank.

Jon reels back slightly at that, as do a few of the others. He looks around and sees Sam walking to the front of the group.

"That would be ideal, Your Grace," he tells her, his voice hesitant in its request.

She nods and holds her hand out to Arya who pauses before handing over her dagger.

Jon grabs her hand as she sets the blade against her palm. "I'll do it," he tells her, not really wanting to watch her cut herself, regardless of how small it is. But she shakes her head.

"It is my child, therefore, it will be my blood," she says and, before he can persuade her otherwise, cuts the knife across her palm. She gives the blade back to Arya and holds her hand above the goblet, allowing a fair amount of blood to spill in as they all watch.

Sam hands her a piece of cloth to tie around her hand once she's done.
Jon reaches over to take the cloth from Sam and ties it on for her.

"Thank you," she says when he's finished then looks at Sam. "Should you need the incantations in Valyrian, myself or Missandei will say them," she says.

Sam nods silently and hands the parchment with the incantations to Missandei then covers the goblet with another cloth Gilly has given him and takes it inside the forge.

"Now," she says, "shall we see if Drogon is able to light it?,"

Gendry nods and hurriedly begins to move aside anything that's flammable with the help of Arya, Grey Worm and Podrick as the others clear the courtyard to make room for the dragon.

They are covered in complete darkness as the massive dragon flies over them. He can barely fit in the courtyard, adjusting his wings so they're tucked tightly against his body as he stares at his mother.

Once Gendry has the test steel ready, Daenerys looks to Drogon and speaks to him in Valyrian. It's magma eyes look at the steel on the fire pit and a small stream of fire comes out of his mouth as he bathes the steel in his fire, the coals catching with his flames. Sam grabs the goblet and pours the blood over the hot blade with Missandei quietly reading off the parchment from the Citadel. Then Gendry quickly begins hammering the metal and forging it into a small blade. By the time he's done, it resembles Arya's own dagger. Daenerys allows Drogon to fly back up now that his take off won't disturb Gendry's work.

The blacksmith inspects the metal then nods in satisfaction and hands it to Jon.

Jon takes it from him and compares it to Arya's then he looks at Gendry and Sam with astonishment as he passes both blades on for the others to compare. And they all come to the same conclusion.

What was once lost after the Doom of Valyria, has been completely restored.

Chapter Text


Jaime’s practicing with Bronn in the training yard when they hear the far-off horns blow from somewhere beyond the snow-covered walls of the keep and the answering call of the sentries reverberating through the air that somehow manages to stay frigid even in midday. He exchanges a curious glance with the sellsword before they sheath their weapons and make their way to the gates, curious as to see whom amongst Targaryen queen’s allies are arriving today.

What he sees on the horizon causes his heart to stop while it soars at the same time. For the banners he takes in are not those of Dorne or the Reach.

They’re from the Westerlands.

He takes in the golden inverted pile of House Lefford, the purple unicorn of House Brax, the yellow spoon of House Hetherspoon, the silver ships of House Farman, the eagle and star of House Clifton, the red ox of House Prester, the green arrow of House Sarsfield, and the three black pots of House Spicer. He guesses there must be a little over a thousand men in total. There are just as many carts and it eases him to know that they hadn’t travelled without enough provisions.

“Well, I’ll be damned,” Bronn mutters under his breath.

“Ah, and what wonderful timing,” Tyrion says as he joins the men.

“You were right,” Jaime remarks quietly as he looks down at Tyrion.

“Don’t sounds so surprised, dear brother. Of course I was right,” he scoffs, turning his mismatched eyes to meet Jaime’s green ones.

“You know, Cersei asked me once what I knew about warfare. I told her nothing, but I did know people,” he says before looking back out at the arriving army. “I’m glad to know I still do.”

They stand quietly for a moment before Tyrion snorts breaks the silence. “If we had done this years ago, you being the competent battle commander you have become, and with my assistance with the people behind you, we could have ruled the world.”

“Aren’t you already?,” Jaime asks.

“No. That would be his pretty queen who’s steadily ruling the world,” Bronn replies lightly. Tyrion throws him an unamused look, but Bronn just smirks.

“Of course. Don’t know how I could forget that,” Jaime says with a roll of his eyes as Tyrion grins in amusement.

“I can’t deny that I’m not pleasantly surprised that Prester, Sarsfield, and Farman sent men. Prester especially,” Tyrion remarks slyly, effectively bringing them back to the subject at hand.

Jaime hums in agreement and says, “Sarsfield has mounted archers. They should be useful.”

“Indeed. Now, you know you won’t be able to speak with them privately. At least, not right now,” Tyrion tells him with a serious look.

Sighing, Jaime says, “I wasn’t expecting to be given the opportunity. I know I wouldn’t allow such things an oversight.” “A wise choice indeed, if I do say so myself. Now, shall we?” he asks, gesturing to where the queen and the Starks have gathered at the front of the ever growing crowd, just behind the entrance of the gate with Ser Davos, the queen’s female advisor, and Brienne just behind them. “You’ll need to be there when the lords arrive. Otherwise, I’m sure they’ll think they have been led to a trap,” Tyrion says before turning to make his way to the side of his silver queen, with Jaime following closely behind and Bronn moving to blend into the peripheries of the crowd. When they approach, the Queen glances down at his brother and dips her chin in approval, her face blank and expressionless, before lifting her piercing gaze to him. She hesitates for a moment, then gives him the same gesture then before she turns back to the approaching men as they dismount and come to stand before the group. Those who notice him all nod rigidly to Jaime before directing their attention on the silver queen.

The Westerland men stand silently as the queen’s advisor goes through her titles before Ser Davos introduces the Starks. As the lords look over the group before them, Jaime notices the way all of their eyes stay on Tyrion for a long moment, some with surprise while others with a bit of disdain, before looking away.

Once Ser Davos is finished, he watches as Lord Rolph Spicer with his square jaw, grey beard, and broken nose steps up to the Queen first and gives a slight bow as he introduces himself before returning to his place.

Tybolt Hetherspoon stands tall and proud as he addresses the queen, his light brown eyes assessing everyone before him. Aside from the greying of his sand colored hair and the wrinkles lining his face, he looks the same as Jaime remembered him.

As Ser Forley Prester steps forward, Jaime thinks how he stands by his statement that the short, bald man looks more like an innkeeper than a knight. But, he knows the man has a keen mind and is a fast thinker when he’s in a bind.

Ser Flement Brax hasn’t changed at all as he wears the atrocious armor of the sigil of his house. Why anyone would wear a helmet that had a unicorn horn melded on it was beyond Jaime. Regardless, he knows the lithe strawberry blond is quick on his feet and deadly with his sword.

Lord Sebaston Farman seems to have gained a little weight since Jaime last him and his hair is more wispy than he remembers, but the cunning in his blue-grey eyes can be seen from across the courtyard.

“Thank you for coming, my lords. Know that you are here for the realm, not for me. The truce made with Cersei Lannister will stand during your stay here and you will be treated as allies,” the queen says imperiously as she looks between the men.

Jaime feels the barest twinge of amusement as the lords blink in surprise at the young queen’s words before they murmur in agreement.

The queen silently gestures to Jon Snow who gives her a solemn nod before he leads the men into the Great Hall to serve them bread that has no doubt gone cold since it left the ovens that morning, along with what little salt they could afford as their stores dwindled with each arrival. As they partake in the food offered, the young lord tells them how best to set up camp in such a fashion to block as much wind as possible and where they should dispose of waste to avoid their camps being caught downwind.

By the time the lords and ladies gather in the Great Hall for evening meal, the skies have already begun to darken. Their meal is simple bread and stew in portions just enough keep a man feeling full. There are no extravagant foods or servings like they were served when he last came to Winterfell with Robert. As Jamie looks around, he notices how worn everyone appears. He hopes this war comes to a head soon. Otherwise, they’ll all be too weak to put up a proper fight. Or they’ll be nothing but frozen men.

“What made you decide to come, my lord?,” Jaime asks Farman, needing to get rid of his morbid musings.

Lord Sebaston curls his lip back and angrily replies, “I’m not pleased one bit about the those damn ironborn flocking our shores like they own them. And for her to promise the Crow’s Eye a marriage? Preposterous. One look at him and it’s clear that insanity runs strong through his blood.” He shakes his head in disgust as he rips off a piece of his bread.

“Ah,” Jaime says, not really wanting to discuss the choices of his sister. He still can’t stomach the memory of how she so callously abandoned the realm.

“Is it true? Dead men are really marching for Westeros?” Ser Flement asks, his face showing how much he’s dreading to hear the answer.

“Yes. I saw one myself,” Jaime replies grimly as he looks around at the other men.

“What of the Night’s Watch?” Lord Rolph asks. “Aren’t they supposed to guard the realms of men?”

“If Daenerys Targaryen is correct, there are over one hundred thousand dead men marching our way as we speak,” Jamie tells him. “The Night’s Watch barely has three hundred men in total. Besides, they did warn us. Multiple times. We just refused to believe them.”

“And Queen Cersei knew of this threat?” Lord Sebaston asks with a sneer.

Sighing, Jaime just nods.

Lord Rolph clicks his tongue as he shakes his head in disapproval.

“Tywin would never have been so blinded by the throne,” he mutters.

“Tywin would have eliminated the Targaryen queen as soon as she set foot on Dragonstone,” Ser Forley says with a look.

Lord Sebaston waves his hand in an impatient gesture and says, “Tywin has been dead for years. It matters not what he would or would not have done.”

“I know that. It’s simply a pity she didn’t think this through. But, she always believed she knew more than she actually did,” Lord Rolph replies as he takes a drink of his spiced wine.

“I still find this all… very hard to believe,” Ser Forley sighs.

“Do you truly think the Targaryen queen would be here if these things weren’t real? That I would be here?” Jamie scolds.

“I’m not saying you’re wrong,” the knight says defensively, “but these were just stories told to children. Just like grumpkins and snarks. And we’ve not seen them.”

“You don't want to see them. They’re the stuff of nightmares,” Jaime replies.

That causes them all to sit in silence for a moment.

“Well, if we can’t win with these forces and dragons then we’re well and truly fucked,” Ser Flement says as he gestures around the room to the ever-growing number of lords.

They all raise their cups in solemn agreement to that.

“And I see your brother is her Hand,” Ser Flement remarks as he turns to Jaime.

He keeps himself from reacting to the slight bitterness he hears in the man’s voice as he replies, “Yes. And?”

Shrugging, the knight whispers, “Is that a wise choice in a Hand? He did kill Tywin. A kinslayer as a Hand may not inspire much support should the Targaryen rise to the throne.”

Daenerys will win this war. You know it’s true.

“I’m aware of what he did. But regardless of his past crimes, you know he’s the most competent man for the position. Especially with this queen,” Jaime replies wearily as he begins to rub his temples.

“Bah,” Lord Tybolt says with a wave of his hand, “Robert wanted the Targaryens to be removed from the earth. He ordered the murder of his own kin. And he was king.”

“Speaking of kings and queens,” Ser Forley says to Jaime with a shrewd look, “we heard about how the dragon queen burned Randyll Tarly and his boy.”

Jaime looks at the bald man and tilts his head in affirmation. “That and more,” he says grimly as he remembers the way the Dothraki has run down his men as if they were leaves on the wind while her black beast rained fire from above.

“She’s not going to become her father, is she? This isn’t the beginning of the Targaryen madness?” Ser Forley asks, leaning closer to keep his voice quiet.

“Gods, man. Are you trying to get us killed?” Lord Tybolt hisses as he looks around to make sure no one heard Forley.

“I’m simply asking what we’re all wondering,” the knight says in defense.

“If she had shown such signs, Tyrion would not be by her side,” Jaime replies evasively, not quite comfortable discussing his opinions on the silver queen.

“Enough of this talk,” Lord Tybolt tells them in a stern voice. Turning to Jaime, he says, “tell us everything you know of these dead men.”

Taking a deep breath, Jaime recounts everything from the dead man in the Dragonpit to what Jon Snow told him when he arrived. As he tells them, he watches the color slowly drain from their faces.

————————————————————

The following day, as Jaime enters the training yard, he spots Brienne standing at the far end and decides to make his way over to her.

“Why is it that every time I see you, someone else is training your squire?” he asks the tall woman as he steps up next her.

She looks at him from the corner of her eye and says, “Now isn’t the time for such sentiments. He needs to know everything he can if he’s to survive this war. While I’m good, and have beaten you, even I cannot beat the Lady Arya. Why shouldn’t I allow him to take advantage of learning from such a fighter?”

His brow rises at her honestly and he can’t help but feel a flash of pride at her insight. Many knights would never be able to accept others teaching their squires, but Brienne of Tarth is above the average fold.

“Very true,” he agrees as he watches the young woman move around the squire with more ease and agility than he’s used to seeing.

“She does have a… terrifying deadliness about her,” he muses as the brunette dips effortlessly under the swinging the blade.

“She put the Hound to shame the other day,” Brienne replies with a small smile. Jaime snorts and shakes his head, wishing he’d been there to see it.

“I’m sure he was thrilled,” he tells her sarcastically.

“He was satisfied she could fight well and no longer ‘spun around on her toes like a dancing cunt’,” she remar

He barks a laugh as he looks back at the girl for a moment before his eyes continue their perusal of the training yard.

He spots Jon Snow practicing on the far side with several men, including Gendry Waters. As he watches, he’s struck by the vague idea that in another life, the two could have been half-brothers, had Robert married Lyanna and still couldn’t keep his cock to himself. But seeing Robert’s son swing his war hammer around while Jon ducks underneath, has him then thinking of the Trident and the battle that their fathers fought, and in Jon Snow’s case died, in.

He’s tried thinking of him as a Targaryen, but he can’t do it. The young man has built himself up on the name of a bastard and it’s harder to separate the name from him than Jaime had originally thought. Although, the derogatory sting behind the “Snow” is no more when people speak of the of lad.

He wonders what Rhaegar would think if he knew his true born son would rather be known as a bastard than a Targaryen. An image of sad but understanding indigo eyes floods his mind.

He is not me.

Oh, but he is, Rhaegar, Jaime thinks as he watches the way the younger man moves. Even a jaded man like me can see it. But you’re right as well. He’s more.

He pulls his eyes away from Jon and back to the woman beside him.

“So, do I get to see the Maid of Tarth go up against the She- Wolf of Winterfell? If yes, then I’d like to get a bet going amongst the men,” he tells her.

She scoffs and shakes her head. “Are you here for any reason?” she asks, turning to him.

“I’m here to practice. Isn’t it obvious?” he replies slyly.

“Really? Looks to me like you’re gossiping like a milkmaid,” she tells him archly.

“I’m waiting on Bronn,” he replies, unconcerned about the man’s whereabouts.

She just hums distractedly and says, “very well. If you’ll excuse me, Ser Jaime.” She then walks off without another word to go practice with the squire and the young Stark before she would have to return to her lady.

Rolling his eyes good naturedly at the woman’s back, he decides he had best go find his own sparring partner before he freezes his balls off.


——————————————————————

Two days after the arrival of the Westerlanders, Sansa finds herself walking along the ramparts overlooking the armies spread out before Winterfell.

She had gone to the godswood earlier that morning and sat in front of the heart tree. As she had stared at its carved face, she did something she hadn’t done in a very long time.

She prayed to the old gods.

She prayed that the snows would hold off to allow the coming soldiers safe passage. That the people of the North wouldn’t go hungry before this war even began. She even prayed that Queen Daenerys be successful and live to take the Iron Throne. But most of all, she prayed that they would watch after her family during battle.

Now as she observes the snowy fields, she hopes the old gods are more receptive to answering than the Seven.

A movement on the horizon catches her eye and she watches a small group makes its way towards the keep. She hears one of the sentinels blows the horn to announce the arriving group as she squints her eyes to try and make out the banner.

When she does, she gasps at the black lion- lizard of House Reed.

She quickly makes her way down to the entrance and finds the others gathering as well.

When she sees Jon, she heads straight towards him and murmurs, “it’s House Reed.”

His brow rises slightly in surprise but aside from that, his remains ever stoic as he nods.

When several men from the group stops before them, they all take in the short statured warriors in front of them with interest. Some have large ears that can be seen through their shoulder length hair. Freckles adorn their tanned cheeks under eyes varying from gold to dark green. A lithe girl with dark curly hair who Sansa realizes is Meera Reed, steps forward and bows her head.

“Lord Jon, House Reed has come to honor our liege lord,” she says as she turns her eyes on the Northerner who steps forward with an unreadable expression.

“We thank you for your men,” Jon tells her. Turning to his men, he orders them to show the crannogmen where to set up camp then gestures for Meera to follow him and the other members of the combined small councils inside to the main solar.

Once they’re all seated, Jon looks to the crannog girl.

“May I ask how you came to know of our need for soldiers? We didn’t send a raven in case Cersei sent her men to us,” Jon says as he takes in the young woman.

Meera glances at Bran before returning her moss colored eyes back to him.

“I saw the White Walkers when my brother and I took Bran to the three-eyed raven beyond the Wall. I know what’s coming for us,” she tells him.

“When I… returned home, I informed my father. He was aware and told me that before we had left, my brother, Jojen, had said to him when the broken ice glimmers and the haunting melody of the dragon calls out on the winter winds, our men will march North,” she replies calmly, her eyes going back to the greenseer who looks at her with a serene expression.

Everyone in the room stares at her in stunned silence for a moment.

“Now you understand why I sent you home,” Bran tells her.

The crannog girl’s eyes dart to the others as a blush blooms across her cheeks before she collects herself.

“Regardless. My father asked me to give you this,” Meera tells Jon as she pulls out a sealed parchment and hands it to him.

Unrolling it, he quickly reads through it.

Lord Jon,

You do not remember me, but you have never strayed far from my idle thoughts and musings. What my daughter cannot tell you is that when I was told about the need of my men, I was also told that when the time came and these tidings came to pass, it would also be a sign. The dragon wolf will rise out of the ice and his fire will be a terrible thing.

I’m comforted that you know how you truly came into this world. Should you need me as witness to your lineage, I will answer gladly. Or, should we survive this great war, perhaps one day you can come visit an aging man and listen to the stories he has to tell about your mother. Greywater Watch will accept you with open arms if you do.

I would have marched North myself, but my sweet Meera was adamant that she be the one to lead our men. I ask you watch her as she’s all I have left in this world. I could only give you a smaller fraction of our forces, but they are our best archers and fighters.

Please inform Lady Sansa we have followed her instructions and are prepared should the North fall. However, if we win, Neck will not be passable if Cersei Lannister tries to send her men to you.

Howland Reed
Lord of Greywater Watch

When Jon hands it to the queen, Sansa notices the dark circles under the woman’s eyes. She’d first noticed them when the queen and Jon weren’t on speaking terms, but they seem to have gotten worse.

She’s also seen how the queen’s face has gotten thinner, her cheekbones becoming sharper and more pronounced. She knows Jon’s started to worry as well as her small council. During meal times, she’ll see Jon lean over to whisper to the queen while pointing at the foods, but she’ll simply shake her head with a queasy look on her face before reaching for the bread.

She’d even caught them whispering to each other one night when she had been walking down the halls. She had stepped into the shadows before she could be seen and watched how Jon had cradled the queen’s face and traced the bruises beneath her eyes with his thumbs. She couldn’t hear what was being said, but she didn’t have to. Her brother was wearing the same look then as he is now, with a furrowed brow and downturned mouth.

She’s brought out of her musings when the letter is handed to her. Once she’s done, she can't tell what she feels about the letter. Mostly surprise at the fact that there is now living proof of Jon's parentage. While she'd always believed, it hadn't felt as substantial as it does now. She nods to herself in regards to the last bit and returns the parchment to Jon.

Perhaps the old gods had heard her prayer after all.
————————-

When the sentries alert the keep of new arrivals, they see the armies of the Reach crest over the horizon. Ser Garth Hightower rides before grey tower of House Hightower with the banners of its vassal houses close behind; the three beehives of House Beesbury. The six yellow flowers on a blue field indicating House Cuy with the willowy Lord Branston Cuy, his dark hair tied back at the nape of his neck. House Bulwer’s bull skull on red, and the silver chalice and black rose of House Costayne, led by long nosed Lord Tommen Costayne. Further down the mass waves the golden tree of House Rowan, led by the stout, clean- shaven Lord Mathis Rowan. Along with its vassal houses, the green and yellow checkered lion of House Osgrey and House Webber’s red spider.

As more soldiers march into sight, more banners appear. The white sun of House Ashford, House Caswell’s yellow centaur, and the three oak leaves House Oakheart. Ser Rycherd Crane riding ahead of the banners depicting the cranes of his house. Beside him was the stout Martyn Mullendore, the monarch butterflies on the banner flapping in the cold wind.

Although there were many houses answering the call of their declared queen, there weren’t many men, perhaps two thousand at most. But they couldn’t complain. It was two thousand more than they had.

After the lords and knights are given their guest rights, they sit silently through Jon’s explanation of the Others, the dead, and their weaknesses. He tells them of the plan they came up with before the Reach’s arrival and listens to the men’s suggestions, changing certain aspects accordingly.

When Jon gets to Viserion, Tyrion looks at Dany from the corner of his eye and watches the stoic look on her face. She keeps her chin raised and meets the eyes of anyone who glances her way.

Once he’s done and retakes his seat, she stands.

“I realize there are many of you who don’t like one another and there are people here that you consider your enemy. Some of you may consider my armies to be barbaric, while some of you despise the crannogmen who have come. The Northerners and Southrons may not see eye to eye. Many of you don’t approve of the Free Folk,” she tells them. “I understand that and I’m not asking you to like each other or me.”

Gesturing to Jon, she says, “but you’ve just heard what’s coming for us. So, I will tell you now that I expect you all to put aside your grievances with each other for now and focus on the real threat.”

When some begin to grumble, her stare turns deadly and they immediately silence.

“You will not refuse this, my lords and ladies. When you look at each other, I expect you to understand that the man or woman next to you is on our side. The side of the living. We’re all here fighting for the same goal and that goal is survival. We must stand united or we will fall.”

Looking at all of them, she says, “if you can’t be civil, then ignore one another. But if I hear of any fighting amongst your men, I will deal with you personally.”

Greeted by silence, Dany nods and returns to her seat.


———————


“You’re gaining many seasoned warriors, Your Grace,” Jorah says in her solar after the Reach lords were shown to their quarters.

“So I’ve been told,” she says, the approval in her voice clear to them.

“We’ll need to march soon though,” Jon states.

“Jon’s right,” Sansa says. “While I’m grateful for the support, Winterfell can’t hold this many men for much longer.”

Dany nods as she studies the map of the North. “As soon as Dorne arrives, we march to Long Lake. I think it best to leave no later than a sennight from now.”

The others agree and slowly trickle out of the room to retire for the night. Jon hesitates at the door and glances at Tyrion before he looks back to her and nods his head, leaving without a word.

“So, are you going to inform the lords of how it came to be that Jon can ride a dragon?” Tyrion asks once they’re alone.

She looks at him inquisitively for a moment before asking, “do you think it wise?”

“I don’t. You never know if it could reach my sister,” he replies, lacing his fingers together as he settles in his seat.

She runs her fingers along the wood of the table in thought before giving a nod of consent.

“I agree. If this… Qyburn has his own birds, I’d rather not test how far North they go,” she says, meeting his eyes once again.

“A wise move, Your Grace. They’ll find out soon enough,” he sighs, turning his attention to the dancing flames.

“Do you think the Northern lords will inform them?” she asks quietly.

He looks back at her and his mismatched eyes clash with her purple gaze. Pursing his lips, he shakes his head.

“No. I was told that Jon and Sansa gathered them up and gave them specific orders not to mention any such thing. These men are yours and it is your decision as to when they will be informed,” he tells her. She lifts a pale brow, but remains silent as he continues.

“Besides, with the Starks rallying behind you, the Northerners have little choice but to follow. They’re numbers are too small to go against either you or Cersei and they would never follow the queen that stood idly by while her son chopped off Ned Stark’s head or whose family caused the Red Wedding. Aside from a select few, the Vale lords have come to heel under Sansa, so they’re not a problem,” he finishes, keeping eye contact with her so she can read the truth in his eyes.

“Good,” she nods as her eyes close.

“You look tired, Your Grace,” Tyrion murmurs.

Opening her eyes, she looks at him and says, “we’re all tired, my lord.”

His eyes narrow and he shakes his head slightly. “Yes, but you seem more so than usual. And don’t think I haven’t noticed you not eating as much either.”

Her lips quirk up at how her Hand sounds like a doting mother hen before her expression turns serious.

“Perhaps I’m simply too stressed with the upcoming war,” she muses. It’s the only explanation she has. Her dreams are filled with glowing blue eyes and watching those she’s come to care dying before her. Food has started to taste like ash in her mouth or something equally horrid which makes her remember how utterly revolting that horse heart was, and she can’t stomach it. The only food she can manage are bland bread and unflavored meat in a light broth.

Tyrion’s eyes narrow even more, but he keeps his thoughts to himself.

She knows she’s begun to worry her advisors and Jon, but there’s little she can do. She feels strong enough to fight and lead her people into battle. For now, that’s all that matters to her.


—————————————————————————-

Two days later, Dorne arrives.

The sword and star of House Dayne, the red cockatrice of House Gargalen, House Manwoody’s crowned skull, the porticullis of House Yronwood, the green dragon indicating House Noland, the red fires of House Uller, and the hand of House Allyrion all stand tall, their bright colors a stark contrast to the white landscape around them.

As the men come before their ever-growing group, Ser Ulwyck Uller approaches her first. He’s a tall, burly man with the classic Dornish features. There isn’t much resemblance to his niece except the shape of his face and eyes.

“I thank you for coming all this way good ser,” Dany says.

His dark eyes turn hard as he says, “Cersei Lannister will not go unpunished for what she has done to Ellaria. The North may remember, but Dorne does not forgive.”

Nodding, she replies, “justice will be given once we have defeated the real threat.”

“Then I will make sure to live to see it through, Your Grace,” the knight says before moving on to Jon.

Next Lord Edric Dayne stands before her. His blue eyes are so dark they could be mistaken for purple. She notices that his silver blonde hair is almost the same shade as hers.

“House Dayne is yours, Your Grace,” he says softly as he bows. When he straightens, his eyes find Arya watching him with a raised brow, but he quickly returns his focus to the queen before him.

“I thank you, Lord Edric,” Daenerys replies regally with a tilt of her chin. Her eyes catch on to the sword at the young man’s side and seeing the gold sun in the pommel, lifts her eyes back to his. “I’m honored to have the allegiance of the Sword of the Morning.”

A light blush comes to the man’s cheeks as he bows his head again. “Ned will do, Your Grace,” he tells her in a quiet voice.

Before any more can be said, the blonde steps aside then and a swarthy young man with dark brown hair and a dimple in his chin makes his way forward next.

“Ser Daemon Sand of House Allyrion, Your Grace,” he says as he bows.

When he straightens, he flashes Jon a quicksilver smile and says, “I’ve heard much and more of you, Jon Snow. You are said to be the greatest swordsman of the North.”

“I know how to swing a blade,” Jon replies. The Dornish bastard stares at Jon for moment, thinking he’s going to say something more. When Jon remains quiet, he realizes his assumption is false and chuckles.

“Ah, there’s that acclaimed Northern modesty,” Ser Daemon says before he nods.

“Should you find the time, my lord, I would very much like to spar with you and see for myself if the rumors are true. A Snow and a Sand,” he tells him with a cheeky grin before meeting the other lords and ladies.

“You do realize he is Dorne’s finest sword,” Tyrion says under his breath with a sly grin.

Jon raises an eyebrow at him and hums before he turns back to watch the retreating Dornishman.

Rubbing his hands together, Tyrion asks, “think a friendly wager could be had there?”

Sansa looks down at him with an arched brow. “Do you think it’s wise to be contemplating such things during a time like this, my lord?”

“There’s not a better time, Lady Sansa,” the man replies. “There will be plenty of time to worry when they march. It’s best to keep spirits up in whatever way possible. Though I’d rather not see all the wine drained.”

“I see,” she says primly as she returns her focus to the Dornishmen ahead. “A silver stag for Jon, then.”

Tyrion grins while Jon looks at the young woman with wide eyes. But before Jon can say anything, one of the lords comes and introduces himself, effectively pulling their attention away.

While the others continue through the expected formalities, Arya sidles up next to Edric Dayne.

“I thought you were still with the brotherhood,” she comments.

“I was. But when Lord Beric left, we all parted ways,” he replies quietly. “Then the tales of Queen Daenerys reached us. Of how she had freed the slaves in Essos, of her dragons and armies, and how she had set her eyes on Westeros. I knew if my uncle was still living, he would pledge Dawn to her. So I returned to Starfall and waited.”

The Dornishman turns his blue eyes to the queen with a thoughtful look as he continues. “On my way to Dorne, I heard the dragon queen is here to not just take the Iron Throne, but to make a new world. Much like she did across the sea.”

Looking back at Arya, he asks, “is that true?”

Arya purses her lips before answering.

“She does seem to care for the small folk,” she admits slowly.

The lord of Starfall nods as he explains. “The brotherhood’s role was to protect the people and defend the realm. I thought that if there’s a chance of us gaining a queen who cares just as much, it would be foolish to cast her aside. Then I received a raven from Her Grace asking for men to fight in the North against a foe that’s coming for us all. And I knew she would be worth following.”

“So you just believed the raven?,” Arya asks skeptically.

“Wasn’t that the point? You forget I saw Lord Beric rise from death many times. If Lord Beric could be brought back from the dead and the dragons have returned to the world, it’s not impossible,” Ned tells her with a small smirk. “Besides when we docked at White Harbor, we were told how the Wall had fallen.”

Arya hums and watches as the lanky Ser Myles Manwoody bows and simply says, “House Manwoody honors our pact since the days of Princess Elaena, Your Grace.”

The queen gives him a small smile, as she says, “your help is most welcomed, Ser.”

Lord Tremond Gargalen is that last to approach. Just by looking at him, one can see that the man’s more of a warrior than a lord. Even though his hair has was mostly grey, he still moved like that of a man twice his junior.

Once more, they usher the Dornishmen inside and Jon tells them what enemy they’ll be facing. They then strategize and adjust the soldiers’ battle positions accordingly with the strengths of the new arrivals.

“My lords and ladies,” Dany announces afterwards, “it's time to prepare your men. We ride north in two days.”

————————————————————————-

As the ones who are heading to war say farewell to those who are staying, Dany’s surprised when Lady Sansa approaches her.

“Thank you, Your Grace,” the younger woman says, her eyes sparkling, “the North will always remember when their queen came to its aid.”

Not knowing what to say in response to that, Dany just bows her head.

When the redhead moves to embrace her sister, Dany is met with the golden eyes of her most cherished advisor.

Missandei grabs both of her hands and squeezes them tight.

“Come back to us, my queen,” her friends says brokenly as she tries to keep the tears at bay.

Dany knows she can’t promise such a thing. She squeezes Missandei’s hands back and says, “you are my dearest friend. Thank you for taking this journey with me.”

The tears in Missandei’s eyes fall as she lets go and steps away.

Turning to Tyrion, she squats down so she’s eye level with him.

“I’m proud to call you my Hand,” she tells him.

The man’s face falls for a moment as he nods.

“Don’t do anything stupid,” he mutters.

She gives him a sad smile before she stands.

“Keep them safe, Ser Davos,” she says to the knight.

“I’ll do my best,” he replies hoarsely as he bows his head. When his eyes meet hers again, he says, “you’re the queen this realm needs.”

She tilts her head before she looks to the others. Bran Stark meets her stare and nods.

Turning away from the group, she finds the others have finished with their goodbyes and are already mounted as they wait for her. She raises her chin and walks calmly past them out the gates to where Drogon waits for her.

Climbing onto his back, she looks at the tens of thousands of soldiers behind her. Her eyes meet Jon’s for a moment before she turns back and commands Drogon to fly.

Horns of all kinds begin to blow as her dragon lifts into the sky with a roar.

——————————————————————————

When the horns blow once through the camp a day after they arrive at Long Lake, they make their way out to see who has arrived. What meets their eyes causes almost everyone to gasp.

Three banners fly high amongst the small army, no more than three hundred men, that’s currently making its way towards them. A bare tree on a field of pale green, a green lobster on white, and red flames on black.

“Did you send word to them, Jon?” Arya asks quietly. The dark-haired man just shakes his head in silence as he continues to look out with wide eyes.

“Then how did they know?” she asks with a suspicious expression.

“Whose banners are those? I don’t recognize them,” Dany asks Jon under her breath.

“Those, Your Grace, are from the men from the dreaded Northern island of Skagos. Houses Stane, Magnar, and Crowl,” he murmurs to her, watching her eyes go as she turns back to the army. Jon has to force himself not to smile at the fascination on her face when she turns back to observe the approaching men.

“They’re known to be similar to the Ibbenese,” she murmurs thoughtfully as she recalls everything she’s read about the elusive island people.

“Seven hells,” Arya gasps as she points ahead, “is that… gods, it is! They’ve brought unicorns!”

They all search the mass and find two large goat-like animals the size of small garrons with shaggy brown hair in the middle of the men being ridden by whom Jon presumes are the two leaders. Their large horns look to be about the size of half a man’s arm and are pale like elephant tusks. They calmly walk through the snow, obviously not struggling with the deep blanket of it the way the horses are known to do.

“Aren’t the Skagossi known to stay on their island? I’ve not heard of them coming so far inland,” Dany says in a hushed tone.

“You’d be correct,” he replies just as quietly.

“And aren’t they rumored to be cannibals?” she asks.

Jon can only nod in response as the men dismount and the animals are immediately surrounded by their soldiers while they make their way towards the front.

Jon sees a flash of red hair as Tormund Giantsbane steps forward from the men and grins widely at Jon, slapping him on the back.

“I’m glad to see you made it,” Jon tells him jovially.

“After all the shit we’ve lived through, you think I’d just go off and be killed by a falling wall?” Tormund asks with a look.

“No. I had a feeling you’d find a way to escape,” Jon replies wryly.

Before Tormund can say anything more, a man with a greying beard steps forward and starts speaking in the harsh, guttural dialect of the Old Tongue. Tormund sighs and waves the man off with a quick reply.

Jon watches as Beric Dondarrion steps up to the Hound and gives the sullen looking man a pat on the back.

“I told you we’d meet again,” Dondarrion says before stepping around to stand beside him.

“I’m obviously the unluckiest fucker in the world then,” Clegane replies irritably.

Turning his attention back to the Skagossi, three men

Pointing at each of the men, Tormund says, “Anthor Crowl”, indicating the man who just spoke. “Kormed Magnar” he says and points to man looks to be in his late thirties. “And Tobin Stane,” pointing to the last one who seems to be the youngest of the three men.

“I’m aware of their… customs on their home,” Daenerys says as she looks over the acclaimed cannibals before returning her purple eyes back to Tormund. “They will not be able to practice such things while they are here,” she tells the man sternly.

The tall red head looks at her in amusement before replying, “Aye. Don’t you worry, Dragon Queen. They brought seal meat and fish aplenty to eat. Though I’ve been warned that they’ll have no issue with spilling the guts of any man who tries to come near their mounts.”

She raises an eyebrow at the threat, but tilts her head all the same as she replies, “consider it done.”

Once the Skaagosi warriors are settled at the end of the camps, Tormund comes to the main tent.

“How did you end up with Skaagosi?” Jon asks.

“Ran into their ships while we were sailing down in the few ships that weren’t ruined by the Wall. Thought they were attackin’ us, but they just followed behind. When we were gettin’ off they said they were comin’ with us,” the redhead replies.

“How did they even know?” Dany asks.

Shrugging, Tormund says, “ole Crowl told me they’d been having strange things happening on their island. Dead things in the water. He said…,” he scratches his beard and sighs, “Said that the Old Gods told them to come here.”

“What?” Jon asks in a flat voice.

“That’s what he said,” Tormund says with a look that states he’s not sure what to believe.

“What do you mean? Did he say anything more?” Jon asks, leaning forward in his seat.

“Aye. I asked him if they’d started drinking the sea water and he said they heard it clear as day. The voices of the gods were rustling in the leaves of the heart trees,” Tormund says, shrugging again.

“And they heard...what?” Jon presses, becoming impatient.

Tormund turns his eyes to him and replies, “Winterfell.”

A chill goes through the room at that.

“Yeah,” Tormund nods as he looks around, “scared the fuck outta me too.”

——————————————————————————

As Jaime looks around at all the men, he finds himself meeting the stare of the red headed man called Tormund Giantsbane, who Jaime had learned is the closest thing to a leader amongst the Wildlings. The man’s eyes jump from him to Brienne and back before he turns back around to train with Jon.

He had noticed how the tall Wildling had seemed to keep a close eye on Brienne and Jaime had watched the interactions between the two throughout the day. The man would stare at her longingly or try to get to her attention in some form or another. Brienne on the other hand did her best to ignore the redhead but, on the occasion where she did meet his stare, her face turned red and she would always get a distinctly uncomfortable look.

“It seems you have an admirer,” he says slyly as he turns back to tall blonde.

She scoffs and shakes her head. “Ignore him. He’s an odd man.”

“Does this mean I have competition in the bid for your affection?” he asks, pretending to looked panicked at the thought. He knows it’s not the best time to be acting so lightly in the face of the war but enjoys the way he can feel like the man he was before he lost his hand when he talks to Brienne. He might as well take advantage of what little pleasures he can before they’re all dead.

She sneers at him as her cheeks flush crimson before turning back to watch the Unsullied.

Jaime presses his lips together in an attempt to not burst out laughing at her obvious discomfort and clears his throat.

“Well, I’m sure I’m not the only one who would be more than willing to rescue a maiden,” he says conversationally.

“I do not need rescuing,” she says through gritted teeth.

“You did when I saved you from that bear,” he corrects, not missing a beat.

“That was one time,” she seethes, keeping her eyes on the sparring pair as Arya begins instructing the squire on his footwork.

“And yet you have still refused to give me a proper thanks,” he says as his eyes follow the girl’s feet.

“If I had, your ego would have made it where you wouldn’t be able to fit in your armor,” she quips.

“You have me mistaken for Robert, my dear lady. I’ve always fit into my armor,” he says idly, earning a disgusted look from her.

“Gods, men are insufferable,” she groans before stalking off, ignoring the laughter that followed her.

—————————————————————————

Two days later, as the commanders are sitting in the main tent, they hear a horn in the distance blow once.

“We’re gathering up quite the army, aren’t we?” Arya says

“The Night’s Watch has arrived,” Jon tells the group as they approach the edge of the camp.

A group of black clad men and about a dozen small folk make their way to where they’re waiting. They all look worn and appear to have hardly any supplies.

When Ghost goes up to one of the brothers, the man pats the great wolf on the neck, saying, “Well Ghost, at least you’re built for the snows.”

Jon approach the man and pats him on the back as he leads him over to where Dany and the others are.

When the newest arrivals see her, they gawk.

“Edd, this is Queen Daenerys of House Targaryen. She’s come to help us,” Jon tells the brother.

“I see that,” Edd replies quietly as he takes in all of the warriors.

“So, you’re the Lord Commander?” she asks the dour looking man next to Jon.

He gulps and nods. “Aye, Your Grace. I told Jon I’d make an awful Lord Commander. But he never listened to me before he died, so why should I have expected him to do so after?” he asks with a shrug.

Even though Dany’s face remains impassive, her purple eyes fill with amusement at the man’s blunt statement. She stares at him a moment longer before turning to Jon who gives the slightest shake of his head as he glances at the Brother with a fond exasperation.

“Well, I’m sure you’re all in need of some food. Lord Jon, would you help them settle in then bring the commanders to my tent?” she asks, receiving a quick nod as he leads the men away. Just then, Drogon and Rhaegal fly over and the newcomers all gasp and let out exclamations.

Just before she turns to the villagers, she hears Edd Tollett say, “Well, I may never get to see anything else before I die, but at least I can say I got to see dragons.”

She smirks in amusement while she walks to the small folk.

“Would you all like some food?” she asks a girl who looks to be about ten and five.

When she gets no reply, Dany turns to a man with greying hair.

“That… that would be most kind,” he nods.

She smiles and ushers them further into the camp.

“Are you here to fight the dead men?” a small brown-haired boy asks her.

She looks down at him and says, “I am. I’ve come all the way across the sea to help you.”

His brown eyes widen, and he looks at a woman who could only be his mother.

“Well, we thank ya for that. It’s… it’s bad,” she tells Dany quietly as she lifts the boy in her arms.

“I know,” Dany replies as she opens the flap to one of the tents.

Once the villagers have food in front of them, Dany asks, “can you all make it to Winterfell?”

The four men glance at each other before the one who had spoken to her first nods.

“If we could just take enough food to last a few days, we can continue on at first light,” he tells her.

“I’ll see to it,” she tells him as she rises from her spot.

“Thank you, my lady,” he says earnestly.

Nodding, she exits the tent and tells one of the Unsullied what to give the villagers before making her way to her own tent.

Stepping inside, she finds Jon with the two Lord Commanders.

“How many men from Castle Black, Lord Commander Tollett?” she asks.

Wincing slightly at the title, he replies, “Less than a hundred, Your Grace.”

She focuses her attention on who she remembers to be Ser Denys Mallister from Jon and asks, “How many men do you control from the Shadow Tower now, Ser?”

“We had to burn twenty-three on our way here. I myself thought I saw the Stranger on more than one occasion. But, you have one hundred and five from us, Your Grace,” the old man says courteously.

“Very good,” she says with a twitch of her lips.

“I saw you brought the villagers from Mole’s Town,” Jon says to with an approving nod.

“Aye. Just the stragglers. With the way the snows are pilin’ up, they wouldn’t have been able to travel soon enough,” Edd tells them. Ser Denys silently nods in agreement.

“We had to go down and dig them out of the tunnels. Stupid fucks thought they could just hide there. But I wasn’t taking any chances with the dead coming,” Edd tells him with a sigh. “Knowing my luck, they’d get turned into wights and I’d end up getting killed by one of the brothel girls.”

“Did you run into any trouble?” Jon asks.

The man’s face falls at the question and he say, “had to burn a few that had frozen. And had to put a boy whose feet and half his legs had turned black from the cold out of his misery. Never had to… do that. Least of all a child.”

The others are silent at that. Dany looks to Jon and finds that his emotionless mask is in place. She remembers him telling her about the boy… Olly.

She looks back to the other men and says, “I’m sorry for what you all were forced to do. Let me have one of my men show you where you can get some food and a place to sleep.”

Escorting the men out of the tent, Dany orders her guards to not let anyone in.

When she turns back to Jon, he’s still looking at the ground. She approaches him slowly and once she’s in front of him, she skims her fingers down the side of his face.

“Don’t,” she whispers. “Don’t linger in the past.”

His eyes lift to hers and nods, but she can tell he doesn’t mean it. She sits down on his lap and he immediately lock his arms around her waist as she settles her head on his shoulder.

“There was one instance in Meereen,” she tells him quietly, “where a man had come to tell me that Drogon had burned and eaten all of his goats. He’d even brought the burnt bones to show me.”

Taking a deep breath, she says, “but the bones… they weren’t from the goats. Drogon has burned his daughter. A girl not even ten. That’s when I locked Rhaegal and Viserion below the pyramid.”

Jon’s arms tighten around her in a vice like grip, but he remains silent.

“I know it’s not the same, but a child is no longer a child when they understand death and are willing to commit murder,” she says.

“It’s still… hard sometimes,” he whispers sadly. She lifts her head off of his shoulder to meet his gaze and the pain she sees in it has her wrapping her own arms around his neck.

“I know,” she tells him. “But… I prefer to look at the positives of that.”

“There’s a positive of having your own men stab you?” he asks in a harsh voice.

Keeping eye contact, she nods as she trails her hand down to the scar that sits just above his heart.

“If that hadn’t happened at that place, at that time, you could have died somewhere else. Somewhere Ser Davos or Lady Melisandre couldn’t get to you,” she tells him. “Or you’d have lived and would still be the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Bound by your oath, you couldn’t have helped your sister retake Winterfell.”

Cupping his face in her hands, she leans in close and whispers, “you couldn’t get to be here with me.”

He lets out a small chuckle and rests his forehead against hers. “You make a fair point, my queen.”

She hums lightly, savoring the way she can feel the deep rumble of his accent against her chest. Pressing her lips to his, she tries to pull his pain from him as one would suck venom from a wound.

His kiss is rough and desperate as he tries to block out the memories, but she could care less, and she kisses him back with equal fervor.

She forces herself to pull away from him and she sees the hunger in his dark eyes. Standing, she takes his hands in hers and pulls him up.

“Come, Jon Snow,” she says as she leads him towards her bed. “Come celebrate the fact that you’re alive and I’m alive. There’s so little chance to do so in this world that’s filled with so much darkness and death.”

His eyes are full of so much emotion, she thinks he may bowl over. He pulls his hands out of her grip and lifts her up. His mouth attacks hers with renewed vigor as they remind each other what it means to live.

 

Chapter Text

It's time.

The horns begin to blow, signaling their approach. They can hear Viserion's cries and the footsteps of the dead as they slowly advance.

Rhaegal and Drogon keen in grief but do not move from their positions on the ground. Dany tries to comfort them and remind them what they must do. Jon currently on the ground to fight before he's needed in the air with Daenerys.

After working tirelessly with Rhaegal he feels his connection is strong enough where he can call him if necessary. But Longclaw is needed to help destroy the walkers while Rhaegal is needed to cover Drogon in the air. Should Daenerys need him, he will pass Longclaw off Ser Jorah and join her above.

The dozen catapults they have are lined strategically in preparation of an aerial attack. Barrels and barrels of oil ready to be lit and launched.

They see the dark horde of the dead cresting over the hill.

Once Daenerys calms the dragons down, she turns towards the men and sees them begin to cower. The fear is a tangible thing that almost over powers her.

"Westeros!," she shouts. The fighters all turn towards her with wide eyes. "Do not let this enemy cow you into terror! Remember what they have to do! They have come to destroy humanity. They think we are weak, easy kills that they can step over and take what is ours as though we are mice!" She sees all eyes are on her, completely focused on what she is saying.

"And they. Are. Wrong! They are about to see what a force they have dared to reckon with. They will face the behemoth they have woken from the deep! The men and women they have brought together from every corner of this vast world. They will remember that we came to them with fire and blood! They will hear our roars and howls. They say the North remembers! I say it is they who will remember not only the North! But also the South and East and West!"

Jon can feel the change in the air as she continues her speech. And can't help but also feel bolstered as the others begin to bang their spears and shields into the grounds, stomping their feet and swinging their axes and swords.

"All men must die. We must all meet our end and travel from this world's existence to the next. But if our end is today then I would have you make it such a glorious end that it lights up the world in a way that will forever be remembered!"

The roar of their cries is deafening and reverberates through their bodies and seeps into their bones.

Dany and the dragons take to the sky and position themselves where they must light their first line of defense.

As soon as the dead are close enough, the line is lit. The dragons immediately fall back and go higher into the air, avoiding the ice spears that the walkers carry.

The dead begin to fall as they become alight with fire but the ones behind simply crawl over them and continue on.

Again, the dragons quickly fly down low enough to light as many as the can and are gone just as fast.

Shields are brought down and dragonglass spears are out.

Jon can hear Jamie Lannister yelling as he gallops up and down the lines.

"Knock!"

Archers are lighting the tips of their arrows on fire and aiming towards the sky.

"Draw!"

They pull back and for a second, they are all quiet as the dead come closer.

Closer.

"Loose!"

Thousands of arrows light the dark horizon above and it is as though the world is only flame and shadow.

And then they find their marks. They watch as now the ground becomes littered with beacons of fire. Watch as the dead on fire drop and become still.

But they keep coming.

"Brace yourselves!," Jon shouts. "Shields up!" Those behind the front line of shields raise their own over head and cover themselves.

Then they collide.

Bodies smash into the shield and run straight into spears. Drop and stay down.

The amount is too much though and they surge forward and over. Crawling on to top of each other to get to the living. Falling into the gaps of the shields and attacking.

Screams of the dead mix with screams of the living as the two forces finally clash. Fire balls are launched into the air in rapid succession.

All the fighters with Valryian steel are tasked with getting to the walkers. Those around them help keep the dead away when they happen upon a White Walker and try to clear the way for them.

"Make paths to the walkers! Find the walkers!," Jon yells as he takes his dragonglass blades and runs through the skeletal throat of a wight and removes its head.

Arya is next to him, spinning in a circle and takes out several wights in one fluid motion.

Gendry is right behind her, smashing his war hammer that he managed to add dragonglass to the pointed side of the hammer again and again.

The dead are now where they need to be in order for the Dothraki and the other soldiers on horseback as they begin to flood in from both sides. Their horses breaking apart their skeletal bodies and breaking them apart under their hooves. The Dothraki swing their weapons with ease and shoot down wights with their dragonglass arrow heads.

The Unsullied stab through dozens of wights and are in tight circle formations as they hold their positions.

Suddenly, amidst all the fighting, there is a long howl that can be heard above the noise. It's quickly joined by more until the world is only howls. The men can feel themselves become surrounded by predators just as vicious as the dead.

Jon spins around, trying to locate Ghost. He finally sees him running towards the trees with his ears pricked all the way forward.

All of the horses that aren't under Dothraki begin to panic even more than they already have been and shy away from the forest. And It's a quick observation that makes Jon understand further why they are the horse lords.

Eyes can be seen as they emerge through the tree line. They move silent as fog and just as relentless. At least a hundred of them are now steadily making their way towards the battle.

The wolves have come.

He turns when he hears Arya gasp and follows where her eyes are staring at with wide eyed disbelief. His jaw drops when he sees a grey direwolf only an inch or two smaller than Ghost currently rubbing against his direwolf and licking Ghost's jaw before its gaze turns directly to them.

"Is that...?" He can't even finish the question as he turns back to his sister.

"Nymeria," she confirms for him in a wistfully hopeful tone. Her eyes never leaving the grey she wolf as though afraid it is just her imagination.

But then she tips her head and releases another long howl.

And suddenly they're running. Past the horses. Past the men. Straight to the dead.

Dodging between bodies and grabbing at legs and arms all while they continue to move. Never stopping long enough to be caught by the skeletal fingers.

Nymeria and Ghost begin circling around a half decomposed mammoth that has come barreling through the dead men swinging its giant tusks at any who cross its path. Other wolves join too and soon they are on the mammoth. Biting at its legs and jumping on its haunches, sinking their teeth deep into the rotten flesh. Then Nymeria jumps onto the shoulder that isn't bone and the mammoth buckles under the weight.

Jon sees the opportunity they're being given. "Fire your bows at the mammoth! Now!," he screams at the archers around him. They quickly light their oil tipped arrow heads and take aim.

The first goes straight into the gaping hole that used to be its face. The second and third hit it in the chest. Then the last hits it right where it's heart would be.

The wolves unlatch themselves from the beast and move quickly away as the now alight mammoth tries to take off running. It only makes it a few steps before the dragonglass and fire have taken effect causing it to collapse on several other wights who are crushed by the weight.

They continue on. The wolves herd and bring down the larger wights where the archers then light them up with their fire tipped arrows or are slashed with the dragonglass daggers and stabbed with the dragonglass spears.

Jon sees Brienne making her way towards a walker to the far left of the field. Tormund is front of her swinging his great axe in one hand and slashing through with his dragonglass blade in the other. Podrick behind her. The Hound and Beric's group far to the right.

"Jon!," Arya calls from behind him. He bows down to the left to avoid a rusted, broken blade. He pulls his torso back and uses the momentum to stab up through the bottom of the wight's jaw.

"Jon, straight ahead!," Arya calls again as she avoids a bite to the shoulder from her attacking wight and dips down to slash through its rotted thigh.

He sees the walker she's talking about straight ahead. "Forward!," he shouts to those around him.

He then hears the shrill screech of Viserion and sees the blue engulf the catapults at their backs. The men who got caught in the flames scream and flail before they lie still.

The Night King comes back around and begins to scorch them again when a scream emanates the air and Rhaegal comes down to fly straight over Jon, ending up right in front of the Night King and shoots a bout of his orange and yellow flame straight at him. He's forced to turn at the last minute and heads back up to gain altitude, Rhaegal right behind him.

Then the sky grows even darker above them for a moment, sending them all into total blackness, as a roar is released into the air that shakes the ground beneath them and he knows that Drogon has joined the chase. He glances up to see the Winged Shadow dive down straight towards the other two dragons. With Drogon coming at the Night King from the side and Rhaegal coming at him from behind, he has no where to go but back up into the clouds.

With the air now clear for them, Jon and his group continue to make their way towards the walker. Ghost and Nymeria come back towards and flanking them, grabbing wights by the head and crushing the skulls between their teeth.

He hears a sound that reminds him of steel breaking and turns his head to see Brienne and the few men left alive around have managed to attack their White Walker, her blade ripping through its abdomen and then watches as a few dozen eights turn to dust. Then their group continues on as more barrels are launched through the air. He can no longer see Jaime Lannister but can hear his voice begin to fade as he continues shouting orders and running down the lines to keep aiming towards wights that are around the White Walkers.

Jon and his group keep moving forward and are finally on the White Walker. Ice and steel begin to clash as they continue to block each other from the object they wish to sink into.

Chapter Text


Keep moving.

Dany has to keep Drogon and Rhaegal moving. Dipping and diving, rising and falling, every turn and twist they can manage to keep out of range from that blue flame. While dragons are immune to fire, even the fire of other dragons, she has no idea what Viserion’s flames would do to her other two children and she’s not taking any chances to find out.

When she first saw her fallen child emerge from the dark clouds brought by the Others, she had wanted to scream. She couldn’t see any of his gold scales through the frost on his back. Instead, it looked like the gold had been replaced with light blue. His once gorgeous wings that would allow bits of sun to pass through the then delicate membrane when he was young and make him look like he was encased in glorious light as he passed over the sun now had several tears in them. He looked just as she imagined he would. But to actually be forced to look upon him and know that the sight before her is true, was something she could have never prepared for. His cries weren’t the same as before, they were now so much higher in pitch that they could make one’s ears bleed.

She could feel tears begin to form in her eyes as her breath hitched. All she could think about as he got closer was how this was her fault. Once again, her rashness caused the death of her child. Guilt and anguish threatened to consume her along with pure horror as she watched him release a long line of blue flame from his mouth.

She had felt Drogon shudder underneath her while Rhaegal let out another soft cry. She had squeezed her eyes shut as tight as she could and bitten her lip until she could taste blood to keep herself from sobbing. But a small keening sound escaped from her mouth regardless of her attempt to stifle it. Thankfully, only her own ears were able to catch the noise.

When she opened her eyes, she vowed that she would not let anything happen to her remaining children ever again. Whether it was by her hand or not. That’s when she had turned her despair into rage.

As soon as they took to the sky, she let her anger clear her mind and help her keep focus on what she must do.

They’re forced to hide in the dark clouds that have covered the sun and come out only when necessary to strike. They then have to immediately going back into the blanket of the dark. Viserion is so much faster now that if they are still for even a moment, they will lose. Drogon makes a hard left and spews his flame under his wing while Rhaegal comes at the Night King and Viserion from above.

She knows Drogon and Rhaegal can feel her unending hatred towards this creature who dared take her child from her, who took their sibling from them. To remove one of the only remaining wonders of its kind and make it his slave is something she will not allow to go unpunished.

Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor.

Not in life or in death. She will make sure of it. The one who took him from her will learn what happens to those who evoke the wrath of a dragon.

King of the dead be damned.

They are relentless in their attacks and give the creature no respite from their flames. She does her best to make sure they keep him distracted enough from setting their troops and catapults alight with blue. Faster and faster, they continue to draw him closer to the scorpion armed with Valryian steel spear head.

She has a fleeting, hysterical thought that this must be how it was when the dragons last danced. A graceful beauty that was terrifyingly lethal.

Suddenly, Drogon makes a dip that she is unprepared for. It causes her grip to loosen and her body to slide down his back. While she is trying to regain her balance as quickly as she can, he moves again. This time, turning right to avoid the ice spear that flies past her face. She can feel herself slipping even more as her legs now lose their hold on him. Panic takes hold of her and she tries to yell to Drogon while she desperately claws for some sort of bearing, but blue flame then comes at them from behind, forcing him to dip again.

Finally finding her voice, she screams Drogon’s name. He tries to shift and right himself, but it’s too late as her fingers slip from the protruding spikes on his back.

She feels nothing but air rush past her.

Drogon snaps his head around to shoot a line of flame at the Night King before he lets out a monstrous cry and dives after her.

--------------

The dark, snow filled sky is constantly brightened with flashes of orange and blue flame that could be seen for miles and miles. If one didn't know that the screams coming from beyond the clouds and rising smoke were caused by dragons, it would be easy to think that it was the gods themselves battling for the heavens. The way their roars and screams would reverberate through the bones and echo like thunder makes it hard to remember that dragons are mortal.

Perhaps this is why Targaryens were revered so highly for a time. To be able to control beings fire made flesh is about as close as you get to being near the gods, Jon briefly thinks as he guts a white walker and watches the dead around a few groups turn to dust.

He catches a glimpse of Ghost grabbing the dead and snapping their bones in his jaws. Jon quickly thanks any gods that are listening for throwing him this small boon. But the gods have never been kind. Because as soon as he releases a breath, he hears the ear piercing screams of the dragons. And it is not screams of victory.

When Ghost howls, it's the most chilling song he's ever heard and he knows their cries will haunt his dreams for the rest of his life.

Everyone who is able to, looks up. Gasps and cries are released as their eyes process what is actually happening hundreds of feet above them. When Jon's own eyes lift upwards and find what caused this reaction, horror beyond measure consumes his body, leaving him breathless.

A small silver figure is falling from the sky like a star, being chased to the earth by a screaming shadow.

Drogon's wings are pushing him as fast as he can go to reach Daenerys. Rhaegal is right behind them, trying to keep ahead of Viserion who uses his speed to try and fly around the green dragon in an attempt to reach the falling queen. He lets out a screech when the Night King and Viserion are almost on top of him.

Upon hearing Rhaegal’s cries, Drogon turns his head over his shoulder and spits a large bout of flame at the Night King to get him away from his sibling. Unfortunately, the distraction causes more space to come between Daenerys and Drogon as she continues to plummet towards the battlefield.

Loud screams fill Jon's ears and it takes him a moment to realize he's the one who is making the noise. His feet start moving of their own accord. Needing to be closer to her, to do something to help. Even as his rational mind is screaming at him that there is no possible way for him to help her this time, he carries on, slashing his way through the dead blocking his path. He refuses to believe that she may be gone from this world.

Arya is at his side in a moment, holding him in place as he tries to run towards Daenerys. No matter how hard he tries to get her off of him, she will not let him go, even as he begins to drag her with him. She tells Gendry to continue covering her and Jon. He does so without hesitation, swinging his war hammer at any who get too close. Ser Lyn Corbray comes running up to help, Lady Forlorn shining bright in his hands as he slashes through the converging wights. The others around them do the same as Arya continues to scream at Jon.

She's yelling at him, pleading with him not to be stupid and attempt to try and blindly follow Daenerys. She shouts that he's more helpful trying to control Rhaegal. He needs to do something other than run straight to his doom.

Her words break through his panic and force him to focus. He quickly reaches out to Rhaegal and gives a sharp yank on the connection he could feel in his mind. He takes a deep breath, hoping this works, and yells out one of the Valyrian phrases he had memorized for a moment just like this.

"Rhaegal! Kelitis! Gaomagon zirȳla qrīdrughagon!"

Immediately, Rhaegal swoops back up and slams his body into Viserion in an attempt to block the Night King's path to Drogon. The boom of the force echoes like a mountain that’s been split open by thousands of lightning bolts. The action forces the Night King to drop his spear in order to hold onto Viserion. Rhaegal twists his body away just in time to miss Viserion’s snapping jaws. Every time Viserion tries to move a different way and continue the chase, Rhaegal is there to block him with his body and flames.

As he watches the interaction, his breath suddenly catches again. Viserion is screaming and thrashing in the air. Rhaegal continues diving in and out around him but Viserion isn't paying attention. He seems to be watching Daenerys. He lets out a scream that Rhaegal answers in kind.

But Jon can't think of what that might mean right now, if it means anything at all. Knowing Rhaegal has effectively distracted the Night King, his eyes go back to the ones currently in a race towards the earth.

Drogon has now tucked his wings into his body as he free falls through the sky, the speed allowing him to close the distance between himself and Daenerys. He turns his body slightly so his legs can stretch out towards her, his claws open and ready to catch her.

As she continues to near the ground below, Jon is just able to see her silver hair flying all around her and her arms reaching towards Drogon, knowing her dragon is her only salvation. Which is strange, because the magma eyes and black scales make the dragon look like a demon that came from the deepest of hells. Jon can almost make out the sound of her screams on the wind as though he was being chased by a phantom.

Drogon answers his mother's cries and lets loose a scream so loud and powerful that Jon is shocked it hasn't cracked the earth open. Everyone is forced to cover their ears when Rhaegal's voice joins. He screams as though urging his sibling to go faster, push harder, to reach for their mother, that Drogon must make it to her. There is no other option. Viserion joins in as well and the high pitched sound almost bursts Jon’s eardrums.

Then, Drogon is on her. His talons wrap around her body and hold on tight. Right as they have a scant fifty feet of air left before they both hit the earth, his wings snap open with such force, it sounds like a thunderclap. The wind produced from the movement causes the soldiers and dead below them to fall back as a giant gust of heat washes over them.

Jon continues to watch, needing to see proof that she is alive before he can do anything else.

Drogon turns his body sideways in order for Daenerys to crawl up his leg. Then he shifts again and rights himself, making it easier for her to get back on her perch between his shoulder blades. Flame continuously streams from his mouth as he easily circles around. He can just see her settle in and lean forward on his back before Drogon shoots back up into the sky. He lets out a vicious cry that could almost be considered a demand for blood as they race towards Rhaegal. The motion is so smooth, it appears that nothing even happened. One would never guess that she had just fallen from her dragon and through the sky. The entire ordeal couldn't have been longer than two or three minutes.

The sight of their queen coming so close to death, only to immediately head back into the fray taking place above them, has suddenly reinvigorated the men and women fighting. Their cheers turn into ferocious war cries as they push forward again.

As soon as Drogon disappears into clouds and Jon's heart returns to a normal rhythm, his focus snaps back to his surroundings. As he scans around him, he locates another white walker. Bringing his sword up, he takes a steadying breath and begins to fight his way towards it.

—————————————————-

She does not want to do this. She knows she must, but she's not sure she can handle watching her child fall from the sky for a second time. The more she thinks on it, the more positive she is that it hwill break her.

Watching her child attack his siblings without any hint of recognition was enough for her to release one broken sob before she forced herself to focus.

She promised herself that she will do everything in her power to make sure he is not alone for his final rest. She doesn't know how she'll do it, but she refuses to abandon him again to die scared in this foreign land of ice and snow.

If she can recover even a small bit of him, she will display it for all the world to see how magnificent her gentlest child was. Like the Targaryens of old did for their dragons.

She makes sure her grip on Drogon is secure as they head back up into the smoke and clouds.

She can hear Rhaegal call out for them and Drogon answers. Fighting his way through the dark to find his brother.

She tries to orient herself but she can't see the ground. She has no idea where the scorpion is located in relation to her, meaning she's going to have to leave her cover of darkness and go lower where they will be out in the open. Where they will be exposing their backs from above. Making them easy targets.

Shit.

She remembers Lady Olenna's words to her. "You are a dragon, be a dragon." She steels herself and has Drogon slowly dip down until he's just barely able to blend in.

When she looks down, the sight before is one she knows will be forever burned into her mind.

It is ice and fire and death.

Through the snow that continues to fall and swirl she watches as droves of dead men keep pushing forward like a wave. Only to fall back into the sea of bodies as they are forced back by fire then crest again and start anew. Fire balls continue to launch into the sky and sail through the air. They land with a crash and spreading out more as the oil goes everywhere. Taking with it all in its path on the melted snow. Screams fill her ears. A mixture of the high pitched shriek of the dead with those of the living. Commands being yelled are entwined with the moans of the dying. The screams of horses as they are pierced with the dead's weapons or being bitten and torn apart rise like the pounding of the ocean. With the roars of the dragons being the chorus of a terrible song. She thinks this is what the hells must be and that thought makes her hair raise on her arms.

She tries to find Viserion but can't see him anywhere. Taking a deep breath, she has Drogon dip down and rain fire on the lines of dead men closest to those of the living.

Again and again Drogon swoops and dives to release his fire and rises back up.

Rhaegal appears from the clouds and descends until he is just a little above them to the right. They constantly keep switching positions. Rhaegal will stay above as Drogon takes on the dead. Then Drogon comes back up and guards Rhaegal as he swings the opposite way and clears away the dead on that side.

One is never without the other. Something she and Jon made sure of while planning.

She sees the scorpion mechanism on the far right of the battlefield. Carefully kept away from the catapults should blue flame engulf them.

She still hasn't seen Viserion even though she can see evidence that he has been used. The blue mixing in with the orange to create a horrifying and tragically beautiful display.

No matter where she looks, she can't see him. But she can feel him. She knows she's being watched. She tries to shake him off but she can't now that she's exposed them. And she can't go back into the clouds because she is needed here.

She knows that the time has come and she must get Viserion out of the sky and get that creature off his back.

She needs Jon in the air.

As if reading her thoughts, she sees as Rhaegal locks onto a group of fighters, knowing Jon is among them and descends to the earth. He begins circling and she has no choice but to follow.

Rhaegal lands with such force that it shakes the ground and the men around him temporarily lose their balance.

She's low enough that she can see Jon look up at her as she circles around him and knows he's realized it's time.

As he is climbing onto Rhaegal, she hears it.

Fast approaching flaps of wings and then an other worldly screech.

Viserion has come.

She looks up and she can see the flame building in his mouth as though time slowed down.

She swings Drogon up to face his brother just as the blue begins to flow from his mouth and then blue and orange flame collide in a battle of dominance.

Never before has a sight like that been seen in the world and never again will it occur. It will be remembered in songs and kept written in the citadel for all of time. To those on the ground, it is truly a battle between gods.

She can see the creature look on as though he was watching a tourney and knows who the victor will be.

But then it's attention shifts when a second flame hits Viserion from underneath and causes him to fall back.

Jon levels Rhaegal with Drogon and looks at her with a grim determination. She nods in return and they begin their race to the scorpion, knowing they will be followed now that Jon has joined.

The dance for the dawn has now come to a head.

Chapter Text

Just a little longer.

He just has to keep going a little more. He can feel the beginnings of exhaustion entering his body, effecting his movements. Not enough to get him killed, but enough where he can't ignore it for much longer. He can see it in the way Ser Jorah's moves are becoming less coordinated where he is off to the side and how Gendry's breathing is more rapid and strained as he swings his war hammer. Arya seems to be handling herself well enough at least.

They've been able to take down at least four of the White Walker lieutenants that he knows of.

Suddenly, a huge unkindness of ravens flies over the battlefield. They begin to break off into smaller groups and continue to circle over several places on the field.

Jon realizes it must be Bran locating the White Walkers and signals to those around him to head towards the ravens.

As they push through, a giant appears right in front of them. It's skin is hanging off the side of its face and some of it has fallen off of parts of its fingers, revealing the bones beneath. It faces off with some of the Unsullied and Jon can see Grey Worm is one of them. The giant starts swinging one of the Unsullied it has effectively killed at the others as though the soldier's body was a toy.

As he tries to make his way over, he sees Grey Worm reposition his spear in his hand, cock his elbow back then lets the spear sail through the air.

Jon watches the spear fly through the air, he when he suddenly has a moment where he's not watching Grey Worm take down a giant wight, he's watching the Night King take down Viserion again beyond the wall.

He shakes the vision loose from his mind as the spear buries itself into the neck of the giant. All the men around the giant scatter as its body topples to the ground with a loud thud.

As they stand there catching their breaths, Jon catches movement out of the corner of his eye and looks up to see Rhaegal circling overhead as he begins his descent towards the ground.

"Make clear!," he shouts and they all scatter to try and get out of the way of the dragon. His landing cause them to lose their balance for a moment. Once righted, he looks up again to see Drogon and Daenerys arching around them, Daenerys staring right at him.

Understanding that it's time for him to join her above, he gives Arya a nod before turning to Ser Jorah to hand Longclaw over. "Wherever there are ravens circling overhead, that's where a White Walker is. But we still need the men to fall back towards the scorpion."

Ser Jorah nods and steps back as Jon climbs up Rhaegal. When he's just about to settle himself, he hears Viserion.

Drogon flies over Rhaegal as it turns and meets its sibling's blue flames with its own orange burst and the distraction is all the time Jon needs to grab the spikes and get Rhaegal in the air as well.

"Dracarys!," he shouts and the flame hits Viserion in the stomach.

Once he's level with her, they exchange a look then are off through the sky faster than he's yet to experience.

They can't fly straight to their destination as that will not only give the Night King a perfect shot at both of them, but also clearly show what they are flying towards. So, they are forced to twist and turn around each other, never staying in one place long. They come together for brief moments then widen the space between them. Then they fly over each other before suddenly dropping away once again at angles.

They act as though they have no real course and are simply focusing on not getting burned or speared. All the while trying to keep enough distance from Viserion.

But they can feel the air change and know Viserion is right on top of them.

Jon sees an ice spear fly right at Drogon's back where Daenerys sits. His stomach drops to his feet as he watches the dragon twists its body just enough that the projectile seems to just barely miss her from what he can see.

Rhaegal turns his head and aims his fire right at the Night King, forcing him to go lower again as they continue on.

~~
They keep swerving and dodging as they begin to approach where the scorpion is standing. Looking inconspicuous as though it was simply a cart holding the oil filled barrels.

She can see the soldiers around it begin to take the barrels off as they see the dragons flying their way.

Daenerys turns her head to come face to face with the gaping jaw of Viserion's mouth as he comes less than a wing's width from her.

"Viserion, daor!" she screams. But the wind takes away her voice on it so quickly, she can't even hear herself.

Even still, its jaw snaps closed around air as it turns its head to the side at the last minute and falters in its chase.

Her eyes widen in disbelief but she has no time to wonder. She must get on the ground and cover the scorpion before the Night King understands that it is not actually a cart.

She feels a sharp pain in her side but tries to ignore it as they continue to go lower. They set dead men ablaze in their rush to the scorpion. The pain in her side keeps getting worse to the point where she knows she won't be able to hold on for much longer.

Drogon seems to sense something is wrong and pushes his wings faster as he begins to head straight down towards the area right by the scorpion. He lights up any dead men then lands with a great thud, screaming at the world to try and challenge him. She clumsily makes her way off Drogon and stumbles when she lands. But she continues to ignore the pain when she sees that Viserion is still having issues, similar to a horse that refuses to go where its rider wants. She can't comprehend the sight in front of her, her mind running through a thousand possibilities as her eyes follow her beloved fallen child.

Rhaegal soon follows and lands right next them and Jon begins to climb down.

As soon as his feet are on the ground, Jon is sprinting to her. "Daenerys," he breathes, feeling slightly relieved. But as soon as she turns to him, his relief evaporates and he knows something is wrong. Her face is so pale it's almost translucent and her lips look slightly blue. She sways slightly on her feet as her breaths rasp in an unsteady rhythm.

His eyes widen and begin to travel over her body and that's when he sees her whole left side is stained crimson.

"Daenerys!," he yells trying to see how bad the wound is but she's not paying him any attention now. Her eyes are fixed on where Viserion is writhing in the air as though he is in agony.

Soldiers are beginning to gather around and keep the wights away from the queen as she continues to stare at the dragon.

"Viserion!," she screams. "Viserion, vīlībagon ziry!"

Jon keeps his hands pressed into her side to try and staunch the bleeding but she pulls away from him. She begins walking towards the beast. While clutching her side with one hand, she lifts the other up towards her lost child.

"Viserion," she chokes out. "Māzigon arlī naejot nyke."

The dragon drops to the ground and spews blue flame into the air, screaming and screaming. Jon looks to the rider and he sees the first emotion he's ever seen on the Night King's unnaturally handsome face - doubt.

Jon then quickly looks around to see Ser Jorah, Arya, Gendry all running toward them. Jaime, Brienne, Bronn and Tormund are making their way to them as well. All are wearing matching expressions of horror and disbelief.

Jorah sees Jon and runs to him, giving back Longclaw and reaching for his own dragonglass blade to fight the dead that make their way through the gaps of the soldiers. Ghost and Nymeria come through the circle of dead men, snapping in half any who come too close.

"Get the scorpion ready," Jaime says to Bronn. He nods and quickly makes his way over while the dragon and Night King are distracted.

The Unsullied begin to reach them and Jon gets a quick glance at Grey Worm. He even spots the Hound slashing his way over with Heartsbane. He seems to have blood on him and when Jon looks behind him and does not find Beric Dondarrion, he knows whose blood it is. The Dothraki continue to stay on the outskirts, trying to take out any stragglers.

"Iksan sīr vaoreznuni ñuha gevie tresy," Daenerys says as she continues to slowly approach the raging dragon, trying to keep her voice steady. She is oblivious to everything else around her, too caught up in the possibility that Viserion is not as gone as they all thought.

Giant blue orbs swing towards her as the dragon slowly begins to calm and pitiful chirps escape the beast as his eyes continue to stare at his mother.

"Iksan sīr vaoreznuni nyke geptot ao mērī," she says through her tears. "Iksan paktot kesīr." She stretches her hand out even more, as though she means to touch him.

"Avy....avy jorrāelan sīr olvie," she stutters out after swallowing hard in hopes of getting rid of the sob that is sitting right at the back of her throat.

The pupils in his eyes begin to enlarge and his huge head lowers. The anguish that can be seen in those once golden orbs is enough that the sob escapes from her mouth without her permission. And it's that look that keeps Daenerys slowly moving forward. 

Suddenly, when she's only about twenty feet from Viserion, the Night King presses his hands forcefully onto the dragon. It happens as though it is in slow motion. The pupils pinpoint and his great maw opens with a terrible cry.

"No!," Daenerys shouts as blue heads straight at her. The air feeling somehow as though it's so cold that it burns at the same time as the flame moves. The other two dragons release cries as they bolt towards their mother.

"Shoot it, Bronn!," Jaime screams at the sellsword just as Drogon shields Daenerys with his massive body with a terrible roar. The command and the roar of Drogon shake Bronn out of his stupor and he fires just as the dragon's head begins to turn towards the rest of them.

The bolt goes into the dragon's chest and the scream that is emitted is so much worse than the first time the dragon was brought down by a spear to the chest. It's as though the sound of a thousand swords being dragged across smooth stone has been added to the sound of the dragon.

Ser Jorah uses the opportunity to run towards Daenerys and try to grab her out from behind Drogon's front leg. But she fights against him, almost hysterical in her screams as she reaches for her child when he falls to the ground.

Jon sees absolute rage cross the Night King's face as he stands up from Viserion's fallen body. He raises his arms up and the dead begin to surround them and attack with renewed vigor.

He looks to the dragons and shouts at Rhaegal as he begins running to where Daenerys is.

"Bē! Dracarys,” he shouts. The green dragon flies up and begins to incinerate the dead bodies farther along the battlefield as the black one stays on the ground, refusing to move away from his mother.

"Hold the line! Hold it!" he screams at no one in particular as he raises his sword and makes his way right towards Daenerys. Jaime begins yelling orders again while he swings Widow's Wail.

"She's too weak to move!" Jorah yells at Jon when reaches them. The blood has managed to start soaking the front of her as well. Dany slumps against Jorah as though she will pass out at any moment but her eyes are alert as they lock on Jon. He has only a split second to come to a decision.

"Drogon will guard her. But you need to be prepared to get her out,” he says to the older knight.

"Jon, don't you dare!,” she yells. She weakly tries to fight against Jorah in order to reach Jon.

He closes the distance and gives her a searing kiss. "I will always love you, Dany," he whispers against her lips before pulling away. 

"No!" She screams, her eyes are wild and filling with tears. She tries in vain to keep hold of him but he uses all of his will to pull back. He moves away from her and keeps making his way towards the Night King, trying desperately to block out the sounds of her screams as she pleads with him to come back.

He can hear Jorah yell for the Unsullied but as soon as those blue eyes turn towards him, his focus centers at the figure who has cost all of them so much pain.

He gathers the last of his strength and yells out as they meet sword to sword.

Chapter Text

Watching.

That's all he can do. Watch the world, watch the past, watch the present. He sees it all. Yet he doesn't have the power to do anything that allows him to help fight in the present except the ability to tell what he's seen to those who can fight.

He knows what people think of him now, he sees the wariness his sisters and Jon can't hide when they are around him. He knows he's not the same boy that they remember and that it is that Bran that they truly want back.

He wishes he could give them what they want, that he can go back to how he was. But it's too late for him. Too much has happened between that time and now. He's seen too much, experienced things they couldn't understand. He witnessed events unfold that he had no choice but to watch all the way through, no matter how much he wanted to turn away. What he is and has to be is something only he has the power to fulfill.

Generations and generations of history are now embedded into his mind, passed onto him by the prior Three Eyed Raven when he wasn't ready to receive them. But there was no other option and he had to be given as many sights and as much information as possible in those short few moments before it all went to the hells. All because of his mistake of being careless and giving the Night King that small window of opportunity to grab hold of his arm and mark him.

He will not make that mistake again.

He's been working on his abilities that he now has as the Three- Eyed Raven. Every waking moment he makes himself stronger. He works on focusing his mind on choosing what he wants to see, especially when he tries to see something happening in the present. He now no longer sees random events, never knowing if he will see the past or present.

He can now warg into anything, animal or person, as easily as breathing. He could even warg into the living dragons if he so chose.

All of it to strengthen his mind to block the connection he seems to have with the Night King, allowing him to move unnoticed and unseen by others.

It's this own form of training and preparation that has allowed him to be able to watch the scene in front of him.

Jon is swinging Longclaw, matching the Night King blow for blow as they are surrounded by death and fire.

While his broken body is in the godswood against the weirwood tree, he is free to walk around the battle field and take in everything as he looks at the surrounding area.

Screams of every kind fill his ears accompanied by the sounds of steel against rusted steel and the occasional sound of steel against ice. The ripping sound of muscle and bone being sliced apart. The flames that melt the icy ground and engulf bodies from every side crackle and hiss as they try to whisper their secrets to him. The pounding of bodies against shields reminds him of the beat of war drums. The flapping wings above boom like thunderclaps. Moans and cries of the dying follow him everywhere.

Bran watches Arya weave in and out of reach from the overwhelming number of dead hands and broken swords that come towards her.

He also sees other familiar faces.

Gendry swings his war hammer as he spins in a circle, effectively taking out about five wights.

Lady Brienne stabs the back of a wight currently latched on to Podrick's shoulder. While Tormund cuts through the spine of another that tried to run and attack Brienne's back only a few feet away.

Jaime Lannister and Bronn fend off the four wights that are converging on them, the dead shoving into each other as though in a race to be the first to devour and maim the living men in front of them.

Grey Worm and the Unsullied spear wight after wight and pushing back the dead that climb over the fallen with their shields.

The Dothraki and Vale riders gallop through, bringing their weapons down over the tops of skulls, ripping through shoulder blades, and separating parts of bodies in various states of decay as though they were cutting through water.

Lords and soldiers from other houses fight for their lives, taking out as many of the dead that they can.

Horses without riders run aimlessly through the dead before they are overwhelmed and dragged screaming under the sea of bodies. Although some make it to the woods and disappear through the trees.

The green dragon rains down fire all around. It's shadow momentarily comes over and sends them into almost total darkness before it moves away, only to come back and cover them again as the darkness devours them all.

The black one remains on the ground. It constantly spins around in a tight circle and incinerates any wights that come too close.

Ser Jorah and several Unsullied stand near by, slashing through the wights Drogon missed as they guard the injured queen who continues to shout commands to the dragons on where their flames need to go. For such a small woman, her voice somehow echoes above the chaos.

Wolves feast on the dead though he can see others running with Nymeria along the outskirts trying to chase down what looks like a dead elk.

Ghost shakes a dead mountain cat he's caught by the neck and effectively tears its head from its body. He then grabs at a wight that has jumped upon him and sunk its teeth into his right shoulder.

Arrows of dragonglass and others that are bright with flame shoot up into the air and fly into the mass of wights as catapults continue to throw lit barrels out and away.

And glowing blue orbs shine everywhere he turns.

The air is filled with the stench of rotted and burnt flesh mixed with the copper scent of spilled blood. The thick tendrils of smoke feel like they're cloying against the back of his throat.

He hears a sound reminiscent of steel exploding, the high pitched screech almost bursting his ear drums. He turns around and sees the Hound become covered in ice shards as the momentum of his blade has his face and upper body turning away from the explosion of the sharp projectiles. The wights around the now fallen White Walker crumble to pieces.

His eyes swing back to Jon when he hears a yell. Jon is on one knee, panting hard. The Night King brings his blade down for the killing blow, but at the last second, Jon twists away while his blade comes up to block it.

It's obvious to Bran that Jon's strength is failing him when he barely misses a cut aimed to his ribs and the blade catches him in the arm instead. Jon cries out as skin and muscle tear, but he still keeps fighting.

The Night King on the other hand shows no sign of fatigue as he swings his blade with so much force that it actually causes Jon's feet to slide back when he meets the parry with Longclaw. He pulls away, making Jon lose his balance long enough for the Night King to slice into Jon's exposed shoulder. Bran watches as a few drops spill onto Jon's sword before continuing to the ground.

He catches a swish of brown hair off to the side and turns to see Arya trying to fight her way towards Jon. She begins screaming, though he can’t make out the words. But the mass of bodies between them makes her progress too slow.

The others are either too far away or too occupied with keeping wights off them to help Jon.

Bran takes a few steps forward to see if he still remains unnoticed.

The Night King keeps driving Jon even farther away from the other fighters, circling around him as a cat would play with a mouse before going in for the kill.

Breathing deeply, Jon tries to aim for the Night King's leg when he falls to his knee again, but the Night King knocks his sword away as though he is swatting at an insect. Jon looks up with a grim determination and locks eyes with the Night King. He suddenly surges up and swings.

Again, his blade is blocked with a loud clang. A desperate cry comes from Jon's lips as his arms start to buckle under the force of his opponent. He uses his weight to push away from the Night King and circle again as he tries to find a weak point.

Bran creeps closer still, until he is only a few feet behind the Night King who has now managed to graze a slit into Jon's thigh. A hiss of breath is the only indication of the pain that Jon feels as he spins away out of reach. The arctic temperatures causes the blood to steam as it makes its descent to the ground where it then freezes solid.

Bran focuses all of his mind on the connection with the Night King, imagines himself being solid enough to touch him just as the Night King did to him. As soon as he feels the energy of that connection begin to pulse and vibrate through his blood, he latches onto it while his feet simultaneously remove the remaining distance between them and his arm strikes out as quick as a viper to grab the back of the Night King's neck.

He ignores the unimaginable pain it causes him once his hand touches the Night King's skin. It reminds Bran of the texture of meat that has the first stages of frost forming on the outer layer, causing it to become slightly brittle, before the center freezes and the entirety of it becomes hard as stone.

His mind pushes everything he has towards the Night King and it's enough that startles him into becoming still for a moment. Then Bran can feel the pain as the Night King tries to fight against his hold on his mind. But Bran refuses to budge and pushes right back, his fingers digging even harder into the unusual flesh.

Jon looks on with wide, confused eyes at the sight of the Night King seemingly struggling against nothing. But he doesn't waste the opportunity given and arches Longclaw up into the space between the ribs then quickly grabs his dragonglass dagger from the sheath on his left side and stabs it into the Night King's throat for good measure.

The dark snow and cloud filled air that always surrounds the White Walkers gets sucked in to where the Night King stood and there's a moment when there is no air left before it all explodes outward. It covers all with a mix of snow and dirt and ash that has them coughing and choking as the particles coat the inside of their noses and mouths and gets sucked into their lungs. Jon tries to cover his face when thousands of cuts rip through his clothes and bury into his skin as he falls to the ground.

Every wight that is touched by the burst of snowy air and energy coming from the fallen Night King, collapses to the ground and grows still.

Bran jerks back into his body, gasping.

Sansa, Davos, Sam, Tyrion, and Missandei are in front of him, waiting for him to come back and tell them what is happening.

"It is done," he says as he looks at the new scar on his hand, "the living have won."

Sansa lunges at Bran and hugs him so tightly, that he can't breathe for a few seconds. He returns her hug, but with less enthusiasm.

Once she lets go, Bran looks at Sam and Davos. They still look uncertain as they wait for the news of what happened with Jon.

"Is Jon...?," Sam begins to ask.

"Jon is alive but he was wounded," Bran tells him calmly. He looks back to Sansa who meets his eyes again. "Arya is fine as well. It appears Nymeria has decided to come back to her."

Sansa's tears fall then, relieved beyond measure that she hasn't lost another member of her family.

"Your Queen is also alive, but she too is badly injured," Bran says to Tyrion, Varys, and Missandei.

They all slump in relief before coming back to themselves. Tyrion turns to Sansa. "We must get an area ready for the wounded."

"We've already planned to use the Great Hall for the most severely wounded. We will need to set up tents for the others as well. But I will also tell the kitchens to begin preparing food and alert all healers that they will be needed," Sansa says after collecting herself.

"I'll help with that," Davos says as he stands up.

"My lady," Sam says quietly, "It would do well to evenly spread out the medical supplies we have so that we don't use it all too quickly. And I'll let Gilly know to find you. She's good at mending and sewing, so she can help stitch up wounds. Or clean bandages and clothes"

"Thank you, Sam," she says. Then she gets up and hurries back with Ser Davos to the keep while Sam begins getting Bran's chair ready to be wheeled back inside.

Tyrion turns to Missandei next. "Since they're injured, they'll be coming back on the dragons. Please inform the maester that the queen and Lord Snow will be here soon and require his attention. So he should start preparing for their arrival. Then get the queen's room ready with everything she and the maester will need." Missandei nods silently before she too leaves.

Tyrion walks beside Bran as Sam begins pushing his chair back out of the godswood.

"One war down. One more to go," Tyrion says on a sigh.

"Perhaps," Bran says.

Tyrion gives him a quizzical look but doesn't have time to ask more. He first needs to make sure his queen survives.

Chapter Text

It's done. It's actually done. And he's alive.

Even though he had accepted his fate and was prepared to die, had planned on dying, he's alive.

The cuts from the ice blade feel as though he is freezing from the inside out. The flesh around the wounds hurt the most, as though it has frozen solid already.

He tries to get up but his leg won't hold his weight. He feels someone yank him up by his good arm and turns his head to see Tormund looking down at him with wide eyes. He's covered in blood and grime and it reminds Jon of how he looked after the battle for Winterfell. He gives his wildling friend a small smile in thanks as he stands and rights himself.

"You really fucking did it. I honestly expected us to all die," Tormund says to him, shaking his head.

Jon can't help but laugh. "I did as well," he tells the wildling.

Tormund laughs with him and gives Jon a hard slap on the back that causes him to stumble a bit and cry out in pain from his shoulder wound. When Jon looks back at the wildling, the red haired man makes a grimace and gives an apologetic shrug.

Then he's suddenly enveloped by wiry arms and looks down at the top of Arya's head. Ignoring the pain, he wraps his good arm tightly around her and presses his lips to her hair as he shuts his eyes tightly relief.

"You did so well, little sister," he murmurs, "I'm so incredibly proud of you."

She chokes out a single sob and squeezes him tighter before letting go. She looks up at him with a watery grin and says, "You didn't do so bad yourself."

He notices the cuts across the apple of her cheek and neck. There's blood along her shoulder and one of her wrists looks bruised. She also seems to be favoring her right foot as well. But aside from that, she's relatively unharmed.

His eyes assess the surrounding area and it's so much worse than he thought.

Thousands upon thousands lay dead. The ones alive currently combing through the bodies to find the wounded. It truly is a show of a united front as he makes out Dothraki and Unsullied, men of the Vale, northern soldiers, free folk, even some Lannister red can be seen amongst the fallen. Other houses and soldiers that he's not as familiar with are also scattered throughout the field. Carcasses of horses litter the ground. Even the bodies of some of the wolves can be seen.


Plumes of smoke make their way up to the sky and patches of fires flicker and burn all around them.

He sees that the ground is a mix of mud and blood and snow. Ash covers everything like a light blanket, hiding those that are underneath. There are places where the earth is completely scorched black. The combination looks as though all the color has been drained away and this is what was left.

A few of the catapults are now just piles of ash, others are broken and useless. Yet there are some standing tall that remain unharmed.

Ghost comes up to him then. His coat no longer the pristine white color as it's covered in ash and mud. What looks like a bite mark turns his shoulder red and he has a gash running down his left side.

But the direwolf seems unconcerned with his wounds as he sniffs Jon over. Once satisfied, he steps closer and Jon wraps his arms around his neck tightly.

"Thank you, boy," he says into the fur on the side of Ghost's neck before he lets go.

He limps over to where he assumes Daenerys is. Upon arrival, he can see just how much worse she looks as she leans against Drogon to support her while she attempts to stand.

Her hair around her face is slicked down with sweat. She's so pale that if it weren't for her shallows rasps of breaths that come in and out, many would think she was dead. The monochromatic look makes her eyes an unnaturally bright shade of purple as they keep trying to glaze over in pain before they snap back to focus and meet his own.

"You're hurt," she wheezes out as her eyes take note of the blood soaked clothes, how he favors his left leg, and the blood on the side of his face and neck where the ice shards caught him.

"I've had much worse," he replies, unconcerned for his own well being. He tries to appear calm even though his insides are screaming at him to take her away from here immediately as he continues to look her over.

Jorah turns and looks up at Jon with worried eyes as he helps her stand, supporting as much of her weight as possible.

"She needs to be taken back to Winterfell and seen by a Maester quickly," he tells Jon.

"I'm fine enough for now, Ser Jorah," she says weakly as she reaches out to cup Jon's face. Her eyes shine with such relief and happiness that he almost forgets everything around him.

He tilts his head into her hand, hating that he can't offer to help support her or show more emotion. But he knows she doesn't want to show weakness in front of all of the other soldiers. So he settles to wrap his fingers around her wrist and takes a fortifying breath when he can feel her pulse beating underneath her skin.

"Aye, she'll need someone to ride behind her on Drogon. I'm too weak to support the both of us," he replies to Jorah as if Dany never spoke, even though his eyes never leave hers.

Her brow creases in annoyance at that. She removes her hand from his face and steps to the side to stand on her own as her chin lifts up. No longer is he looking at his Dany, but instead he is faced with Daenerys Stormborn.

"I will go once I make sure everything is sorted here." Although her voice is weaker, her tone brooks no room for argument.

She looks around and motions Jaime Lannister to her when she catches sight of him. He approaches hesitantly and nods his head in respect at the wounded queen.

"If there are any of the fallen that your men wish to take home to bury, please collect them along with the wounded. The Dothraki and Unsullied burn the bodies of their dead, so the field will need be put to the torch. Also tell them to take whatever weapons and supplies they can find that they might need. We do not have the time or the materials necessary to make more," she says in a no nonsense manner.

His eyes widen slightly in surprise at the courtesy given but he bows nonetheless in gratitude. "Thank you... Your Grace," murmurs before turning and relaying her orders.

She looks to Jon then. "Same for the Northerners," her eyes meet Tormund's as she adds, "and the Free Folk."

Turning back to Jon, she continues. "Once the wounded and any of the dead they wish to bury have bee moved and the weapons that can still be used have been collected, the dragons will burn those who remain." He dips his chin in acquiescence. But instead of leaving, he motions to Arya to help inform the men. Her eyes flick quickly to the dragon queen's bloodied torso and pale face before they come back to meet Jon's gaze. She tilts her head and taps Gendry on the shoulder and the two begin moving through the soldiers.

She looks to Grey Worm. "Inform the Unsullied of the weapons, help with the bodies and get the wounded onto the carts and whatever else we can use to transport them." He bows silently before going to do her bidding.

Then she turns to Jorah. "Do the same with the Dothraki."

"Yes, Your Grace," he says and turns to find the nearest riders.

Daenerys turns away, but stops to look back at Tormund who's still standing by Jon.

"I've been told that the Free Folk also burn their dead. Would you like to have them go with the others here or is it something you do on your own?"

Tormund raises his eyebrow and quickly glances at Jon before answering. "As long as they're burned, it don't matter where," he says gruffly.

She gives a curt nod, straightens her shoulders as much as her wound will allow and heads straight for Viserion's body.

Once she reaches him, she slowly falls to her knees and strokes her hand over his skull. She looks into his blank eye that is once again gold and allows one more tear to fall down onto her cheek. "Lēda perzys Ānogār ao māstan ezīmagon bisa vys. Se lēda Perzys Ānogār ao geptot ziry," she says as she gently closes its eyelid shut.

She then leans over him and presses her cheek against his cold face. Drogon and Rhaegal go over as well and nudge the body of their fallen sibling, keening softly in grief.

The sight of the massive creatures acting in such a heartbreakingly tender manner is so juxtaposed with the ferociousness shown just minutes before that the surviving soldiers can't help but marvel at them, unable to ignore the sadness the dragon's calls provoke in them. However, when they see the small, silver queen lying across the fallen dragon, they suddenly have to avert their eyes, feeling as though they're intruding on a private moment. 

Daenerys doesn't take note of any of the reactions of those watching, too busy saying goodbye to her sweetest child. "Kesan ūndegon ao isse se bantis tegor ñuha dōna valītsos," she murmurs against his skin before she pushes herself off of him to get up. Her strength isn't enough though and her knees buckle just as she thinks she has her footing. A brutally sharp pain lances through her then and she has to use all her might to resist the urge to vomit.

Familiar hands wrap under her shoulders to pull her up and steady her. As she breathes through the pain, she looks up at her old bear and gives him a weary smile on in thanks that he does not return. 

"Your Grace, we need to attend to your injuries," his voice deeply concerned.

The small smile falls as she looks back towards Viserion.

"We will. Just..," she pauses to take a breath. "Just allow me to properly say farewell to this child as I did not get to do with my first," she whispers, pulling her eyes away to meet his for a brief moment before they settle back on her child.

Seeing the utter devastation in her violet gaze, Jorah swallows. "Of course, Khaleesi," he murmurs, her old title coming out in a show of support and understanding.

She grabs his arm before he leaves. "Not now of course, but I plan on taking him back to King's Landing so that he may sit with his ancestors of old," she murmurs, her eyes still on Viserion. Jorah nods silently then walks back to the small group that has been watching the entirety of their exchange.

"Dracarys," she whispers once she steps away to be clear of the oncoming fire.

Drogon and Rhaegal shower their sibling with orange as she stands still. She lets the flames warm her and the smoke surround her, as she did when they were hatched. Once it's body begins to burn on its own, the other two close their mouths and back away. They then lift their heads to the sky to roar at the heavens in farewell.

When she turns towards the others, her vision swims and she sways on her feet. Once her sight comes back, she blinks in confusion at how the others have taken steps towards her, their expressions showing concern and worry. Even Ghost has come closer to her, his ears tipped back and his head cocked slightly as he watched her silently. But her eyes quickly disregard them as they dance over the crowd and the different array of colors until they land on the grey they were searching for.

"Jon," she says as she tries to reach for him. She vaguely thinks of how odd her voice suddenly sounds. His name releases on a breath with an urgency she doesn't understand. For some unknown reason, it suddenly frightens her that she won't get to him in time and she begins to rapidly gasp for breath as her heart picks up a fast rhythm in her chest.

Those grey eyes she loves so much widen in alarm at the frightened expression on her face. "Dany!," he says as he tries to make his way to her.

But before she can take two steps towards him, her vision slowly fades as she hears the cries of her children and her name being called.

Then black swallows her whole.

Chapter Text

This is not how their fight against the dead is supposed to end.

He will not believe that he was brought back from the blackness of death in order to fight for the living only to lose her.

Not her.

Not his Dany.

His mind immediately rebels at the thought that he may have to walk this earth without her by his side for the remainder of his days.

He knows he will never forget the terrified expression on her face as she looked at him. The way she called out his name will haunt him in his nightmares. How she collapsed onto the ground where her blood stained the snow plays out in his mind over and over again.

He should have forced her to leave as soon as the war was over.

They run to her and try to pick her up. But the dragons scream and crowd around their mother, snapping and hissing at everyone that tries to get to her. It's the first time Jon has ever seen them completely out of control.

Ghost tries to put himself between Jon and the dragons, silently baring his fangs with raised hackles. But Jon has had enough of this and pushes past the direwolf.

"Rhaegal! Enough!," he bellows when the dragon's black teeth snap shut so close to Jorah that the force is enough to lift the older knight's hair. His panic of getting Dany away and taken care of, along with his anger at the dragons' refusal to move causes him to yell in Common Tongue.

Rhaegal's head whips towards Jon and he can practically feel the panic coming from the dragon. The desperate, almost feral need to protect the only mother they've ever known shines in those bronze eyes. As he sees the wildness drain from the green dragon, he reaches his hand out and Rhaegal bumps his nose against it. What he can only describe as a whine travels up his throat to rest at the roof of his mouth before it slips out through his teeth as he lowers his head and allows Jon to pass.

Before he can step towards her though, he finds himself face to face with eyes like magma. The black beast continues to rumble in his chest as he stays put.

"Drogon," he says through gritted teeth. "I said enough. Now move!"

The dragon holds his stare a moment longer before blowing black smoke out of its nostrils right at Jon and slowly moves back.

Jon coughs, his eyes watering, and waves his good arm to try and disperse the smoke. He glares at the dragon before heading towards Dany, not noticing the stunned expressions on the faces of everyone around him as they carefully follow to where she lays prone on the ground.

He drops down beside her, ignoring the pain of his wounds, as he tries to look at her wound through the tear of her clothes.

Upon seeing the deep gash right under her ribs that continued around to her back, he sucks in a breath. It is much worse than he originally thought. He forces himself to focus and looks up at Grey Worm.

"I need something to tie around her waist and wrists," he says, trying to hide the panic cloying to be released.

Grey Worm glances around then runs to one of the fallen banners and cuts off a long strip of the cloth then another smaller piece. Running back, he hands them
to Jon.

Jorah lifts her upper body into a sitting position while Jon tucks the small strip in his belt then wraps the cloth snug around her waist into a decent tourniquet.

"We need to leave, now," Jon says as he ties the ends together.

"You'll have to ride with her," Jorah tells him, "the dragons won't listen to anyone else.

"We'll finish here then make our way back," Jaime says.

Jon nods as he tries to get up, taking the offered hand from Tormund. Once he's steady on his feet, he looks at Arya.

"I need you to ride behind her. I can't support her alone," he says. She nods silently and comes to stand next to him. Jorah picks Dany up and follows as Jon makes his way to Rhaegal, who is already crouching down for him.

Jon looks up at Rhaegal and knows he can't make the climb up his side.

"Can you go lower, please?," he asks the dragon not knowing how to in Valyrian.

Thankfully, the green dragon lowers itself so that it's flush with the ground. Its wings spread out flat where Jon can simply step up onto the limb. He bites his lip hard enough to break the skin in order to contain the cry of pain that sits on his tongue when he has to pull himself up the short distance to its back. Luckily, Rhaegal lifts its shoulder up to help him.

Once Jon's settled, he gives the dragon a pat and murmurs his thanks as Arya climbs up next, careful not to put too much weight on her bad foot.

Jorah and Grey Worm lift Dany up to his and Arya's waiting hands. Between the four of them, they're able to situate her between Jon and Arya. Jon wraps her arms around him. He takes the cloth from his belt and ties it around her wrists, locking her in place so she won't slip.

Arya scoots up so that she's firmly against Dany's back and grabs onto Rhaegal's spinal spikes on either side of the unconscious woman.

"Sōvēs," he says to Rhaegal. The dragon lifts himself up off the ground and launches into the air as carefully as possible, Drogon right next to him.

He can feel Dany slide back as they go up, but Rhaegal levels itself over the land as soon as it's above the trees. Then they're speeding through the sky, the two dragons pushing themselves to their limit as they race towards home.

At the speed the dragons fly, it takes them only a half a day to reach Winterfell. They scream into the sky when the keep comes into view. As they descend down, he can see people running around at the sight of the dragons, alerting others of their arrival.

They land with enough force to cause the earth to shake as Sam, Sansa, Missandei, Davos, Tyrion and Maester Wolkan all run out to them.

"Take her now!," he yells down at Davos. Rhaegal lowers itself down to lay flat again without fuss so that Davos and Maester Wolkan can stand underneath them. Jon unties Dany's hands then helps Arya pass her down to the waiting men. Davos carries her back into the keep with the maester next to him assessing her as they walk, Tyrion and Missandei on their heels.

He waits for Arya to dismount then tries to climb down. But when he's about halfway down, the little strength he had left leaves him completely and he falls gracelessly to the ground. Sam rushes over and hoists him up and wraps an arm around his neck. Sansa calls for one of the guards to come help with Jon's other side. The two men have to practically drag Jon's dead weight back inside as he tries to stay awake.

He's taken to his quarters and succumbs to exhaustion before he's even laid out on the bed.

---
It's dark out when he opens his eyes again.

He looks down at himself and sees that his clothes have been changed and the bandages covering his wounds. He moves around slightly to test how much pain his body is in. Finding that the pain has dulled slightly, he pulls himself up more and sees Ghost lying next to his bed. The direwolf must have run the entire way back if he's already here.

He looks around the room and sees Sam asleep in the corner.

As Jon remembers everything that led up to him being here, he begins to panic, needing to see Dany.

He begins pushing himself up into a sitting position and slowly turns so that his feet hang off the bed.

Ghost wakes up and comes to stand in front of him. Jon grabs hold of him and pulls himself up, grunting with the effort.

The noise startles Sam and he wakes with a jolt. When he sees Jon standing he jumps up from the chair and hurries over.

"Jon, what are you doing up?," he asks, worrying over his friend as he makes his way across to him.

Ignoring Sam's question, Jon asks, "How long have I been asleep?"

"A little over two days," Sam replies. He begins to check the bandages and make sure they're still in place as he continues.

"You need to lie back down. Your wounds are still tender and you can't risk opening your stitches."

"What I need is to go see Dany," Jon says forcefully, his voice hoarse from sleep and disuse.

"Jon... she's asleep," Sam says, not meeting his gaze. The hesitant tone in Sam's voice confirms to him that he needs to leave right now.

"Then I won't wake her," he tells him, jaw clenched as his eyes flash.

The violence Sam can see brewing in his friend's gaze stuns him. He watches as his hand forms into a fist, showing the rising frustration, and knows that he will not win this fight.

Sighing, he opens the door for Jon and then steps around him to collect the bottles of medicines and the extra bandages from the table.

Still leaning on Ghost, Jon makes his way out the door. He has Ghost go through first then uses the doorframe to keep him steady. Once he's out in the hall, he grabs onto Ghost again and they begin their trek.

It's a slow process but they make it to the door of her room. Sam steps in front of him to knock before he cracks open the door to stick his head inside the room and whisper something. He then opens the door fully for Jon to enter.

The only light and sound in the room come from the fire. It makes the room feel as though it has never known anything else and one loud noise will break the entire setting beyond repair.

He doesn't notice Missandei off to the side and ignores what Sam says to her as he makes his way to the bed.

She's laying perfectly still underneath the furs. Her hair is undone and she looks like she's been cleaned off. She's still so incredibly pale, the dark circles under her eyes look like bruises and her chest rises and falls with shallow breaths.

Ghost leans down to sniff her then presses his snout into the space between her neck and shoulder, releasing a small whine. He lays down facing her, still able to see her due to the lower bed frame, and tries nudge his nose under her hand as he continues to whine. Sensing what the direwolf wants, Jon gently lifts her hand up and places it on Ghost's head. Red eyes look up at him sadly before they close as he props his chin up on the bed. The picture before him makes Jon's chest tighten.

He sits on the edge of the bed and lifts the furs away and pulls up the night shirt she has on to look at the wound now that it's clean.

His jaw clenches and he swallows hard at the sight of the long, jagged red mark that mars her once beautiful smooth skin. It sits right on her lowest rib and wraps around her side to her back. Her sides and chest are covered in bruises from the force of the impact caused by Drogon's claws when he snatched her out of the sky.

"Has she woken up," he asks no one in particular, his eyes glued to wound as his fingers lightly trace underneath it.

"Not yet," Missandei says quietly.

"What did the maester say," he asks as he lowers the fabric and covers the furs back over her.

"He is not sure but he feels her chances are slightly higher now that she has made it past the first day," the Naathi woman tells him, her voice even quieter.

Jon nods silently as he continues to stare at Dany. When his thigh starts to smart, he adjusts himself in an attempt to find a more comfortable position.

"Jon," Sam says, walking towards him. "Do you need to lie down?"

"I would rather stay here," he says quietly as he tries to keep his voice steady. His eyes never leaving his love.

"You don't have to leave. I'm sure it will be fine to stay with her," Sam tells him softly.

Jon nods again and tries to stand up. Sam offers his hand and pulls Jon up then helps him around to the other side.

When Jon sits down again, Sam hands him a vial of Milk of the Poppy.

Jon forces himself to drink the bitter fluid then lies down. He hears the footsteps of the other two leave the room.

He takes her hand in his scarred one, his thumb on the pulse point of her wrist and traces his eyes across the features of her face, taking in every detail until he can't keep his eyes open any longer.

------

He wakes to the sight of Maester Wolkan putting salve on her wound and watches her face for a reaction of any kind. The worry that creases his brow as he looks at her causes Jon's face to crumple for a brief moment and he swallows hard as he smoothes his features into a more neutral expression.

He looks behind the Maester and sees that Ghost is gone. Most likely off hunting or perhaps he went to go find Nymeria.

The Maester looks up at Jon when he realizes his breathing is no longer the slow steady ones of sleep. Obviously not surprised to see him in the queen's bed.

"Why isn't she waking up," he asks the Maester.

"It's hard to say. When the injury was cleaned, it was much deeper than it first appeared. The blade cut almost to the bone of her bottom rib. It's a miracle of the gods that it only cut her muscle and didn't puncture her lung," he says.

"But along with the bruising, it's making it very difficult for her to breathe. And after the amount of blood she lost...," he tells Jon quietly.

"Will she survive?," Jon asks desperately.

"It's beginning to look like she will, if she wakes up," he told Jon.

He swallows and nods.

Wolkan finishes up with Dany then comes around to Jon's side of the bed and helps him sit up.

"And how are you feeling, Lord Snow?," he asks as he begins to remove the soiled bandages to look at the wounds.

"Still in pain, but not it's not as bad as it was," he says as he tears his eyes away from Dany to look at the new marks on his already scarred body.

They too are red and puckered but not as horrible as he expected.

He lets a soft hiss escape as the maester cleans around the stitches and smears the salve on them.

Once he's bandaged up again, the maester helps him up so that he can relieve himself. When he comes back into the room, he sees a cushioned chair near her bed that looks comfortable and awkwardly pushes it towards her until it's practically right next to the bed.

He sits down in it and reaches for her small hand. He traces the newly formed callouses she's gotten at the bottoms of her fingers from where she grips Drogon's spikes.

He closes his eyes and begins his wait.

Shortly after he's settled, a servant girl comes in with a tray of food for him. He has her set it on the small table within reach and thanks her before he slowly eats some of the bread and soup.

Tyrion comes in a bit later and looks silently from him to Dany before dragging another chair over and sitting down. He glances at their joined hands then looks to meet Jon's gaze.

"What happened?," he asked.

"We were in the air trying to lure the Night King to the scorpion when she took an ice blade to the side that was aimed for Drogon," Jon says quietly, his gaze on Dany.

"And the bruises?," he asks just as quietly.

Jon swallows hard and drags his free hand down his face, suddenly tired as the memory of her fall plays out in his mind.

"She fell," he says, releasing a slow breath as he meets the small man's eyes.

Jon watches as they widen and then look back at the silver queen.

"I was on the ground when it happened," he says, feeling the goose flesh rise as he begins to explain.

"She was trying to keep away from Viserion in the clouds. I don't know what happened because they were hidden from view, so you could only see the flames. But, everyone began yelling and looking up so I did too," his voice strained. "And she was falling, Drogon right behind her."

Tyrion's eyes somehow manage to get even larger as he listens.

"I've never seen Drogon fly as fast he did as he chased her to the ground. He managed to grab her just before they hit. She climbed back on as he maneuvered in the air," he pauses to glance at the woman.

"And then they went back up," he finishes, looking back at the dwarf.

Tyrion sighs and scrubs his face with his hands before slumping back into his chair, looking sullenly at Dany.

"And Viserion?," he asks as his eyes go back to Jon.

"He...,” he pauses, still unsure what happened.

“He seemed to understand she was his mother and was able to resist attacking her until the Night King forced him,” he says.

Tyrion's eyes almost fall out of his head and his jaw drops open.

"I know," Jon agrees with the reaction.

"But, she wants to take his remains back so he can be with the other dragon skulls once Cersei has been dealt with," he says quietly.

Tyrion swallows and looks sadly at his queen. "That will certainly be arranged," he says to Jon.

They sit in silence for a moment before Tyrion sighs. "Our time with the queen will never be dull, will it?"

Jon huffs a laughs at that. "No," he agrees.

"Although, I would not be opposed to a little dullness," Tyrion says tiredly.

Jon only grunts in response as he closes his eyes again.

He refuses to leave her side for anything other than bodily necessities. He continues to hold her hand, needing the reassurance that her heart still beats.

After midday, Sansa comes to see him.

She's dressed in her usual attire, a dark dress with the large pendant laying on her sternum, her grey fur pelt placed on her shoulders. Her long fiery hair is expertly arranged. The perfect lady.

But the dark circles under her eyes show how little sleep she's gotten and her eyes give away the worry as she looks him over then looks at the queen.

"Arya told me what happened," she says quietly as she sits in the vacated chair.

He waits while she gathers what she really wants to say.

"Was it as awful as she said it was?," her blue eyes meeting his with a hesitant curiosity mixed with sadness in their depths.

"Which part?," he asks.

"All of it," she says.

"Yes. I'm only glad that we can come back to you alive and not with bright blue eyes," he tells her honestly. Sansa shudders at the image of it.

"And the queen..." unable to finish her sentence as she stares at Dany.

"The queen what?," he asks gently.

"She really did all the things Arya said," she says. It's more of a statement than a question.

She knows Arya wouldn't lie, especially about such serious things, but it's hard for Sansa to wrap her head around just exactly what this silver haired woman did and continues to do for the people of Westeros. The events she was told of sound so far fetched that they remind her of the songs she loved as a girl. But she guesses there will be new songs told of what this queen and her brother did. Because even from here, they all saw the small bursts of blue, orange, and black flames dance across the darkened sky, could hear the screams of the dragons and what sounded like the earth itself ripping open echo across the silent land. Everyone had watched the horizon and waited, trying to see who would come out victorious. It’s something she knows no one will ever forget. 

It makes Sansa understand why Jon bent the knee to her, why her sister admires her so much, why Tyrion and Varys believe in her, why thousands upon thousands follow her. She truly sees how different this queen is from every other ruler Sansa has known. But also she sees the woman that has captured the heart of her brother.

She looks up in time to see the agony that fills his eyes and causes his face to fall as he looks at the woman. As though he is completely lost in how to proceed without her, as he allows his feelings to be openly displayed to her. It's a sight she has never ever seen on her brother.

"Yes," he whispers, "she did."

His pain is a physical entity that sits with them and drapes over her, causing her own eyes to tear.

Without hesitation, she reaches out to grab his hand and squeezes it tightly. A fierce protectiveness runs through her and she promises herself that she will do everything in her power to make sure she never has to see such a sight again.

"She will survive," she tells him fervently when his grey eyes meet her blue ones.

"She is no mere woman. She is a dragon. And you dragons are hard to kill," smiling slightly at the last statement.

Jon's lips twitch at that, catching her turn of phrase.

"Aye," he says quietly squeezing her hand in thanks.

She lets go and stands up. "Do you need anything?," she asks.

He shakes his head in response.

She goes over and hugs him tightly. "I'm so glad and thankful that you all came back to me," she whispers.

"Of course. The pack survives," he says gently.

She nods and straightens herself. "Are you sure you don't need anything?," she asks one more time.

He gives her a crooked smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes. "I'm fine, Sansa. I promise I will find someone if I do."

She dips her chin. "I'm sure Arya will come shortly."

"That's fine," he tells her as he settles back down into the chair.

And with that, Sansa steps out and Jon is alone again. He turns towards the prone woman and his face falls once more.

"Please, Dany," he begs in a broken whisper as he desperately tries to blink back the tears forming in his eyes. "Please come back to me."

He's lost so many friends, so many loved ones. Never to see them again. He's even lost himself. The person who came back is not who he remembers being before he died. But he had accepted that this was to be his new life. There was no other choice.

Every day he struggled to find purchase, something to hold on to that could help him remember his humanity, to make him feel something. He lived in the cold and was reborn out of the darkness. And it was all he knew.

Then she came with her fire and her dragons and her armies. And suddenly, he could feel again. Her passion and sense of justice singed the edges of him. Her gentleness a soothing ray of light to warm him.

Melisandre may have brought back his body when she gave him the kiss of life, but it was Daenerys that reignited his soul when she breathed her own flames into him their first night on the ship. They burned his old flesh to ash and he was formed anew. The light of her bright inferno chased away the darkness that followed him constantly. The heat of her fire ran through his being and melted the coldness that had numbed him inside.

"Don't leave me here alone," his voice even softer in its plea.

He knows without a shadow of a doubt that he will completely break if he loses her. When he lost his brothers, his father, his friends, even Ygritte, he was heartbroken but he managed to carry on. He kept fighting to make sure their deaths weren't in vain. But he knows that won't happen if he lost Dany. She fills a hole in him that his siblings can't. That no one else could.

She is his and he is hers.

He will say the words as they kneel before the weirwood of the old gods. He’ll cover her in his cloak during the ritual of the Seven. He’ll take her as the Dothraki do and this time, he’ll make sure the stars are out to witness them. He’ll jump hand in hand with her over a ditch fire like the Essosi. He will do it all if it meant he could keep her by his side.

"Stay with me," he says as he lifts her hand to his face and closes his eyes against the tears that cover his lashes.

--------------

She's so tired.

The blackness that surrounds her is so peaceful and quiet that she doesn't mind it at all. She forgets everything and everyone as she drifts along in the dark, even herself as she becomes content to spend eternity in it.

She is occasionally able to rise to what she believes is the surface, hearing the murmurs of indistinguishable voices before she's swallowed back down.

As she floats along the bottom of the nothingness that is her existence, she's able to make out a whisper of sound.

Please, Dany.

She knows that voice.

It calls to something deep inside her, demanding that she respond to it. She can feel the visceral pull that lifts her up towards the sound. The desire to reach out and soothe the overwhelming pain she can hear in it that stabs straight through her heart, breaking it into thousands of tiny shards.

She suddenly needs to be near the owner of that voice. Will do anything to stay with them forever.

Please come back to me.

I'm trying, she wants to say. But she doesn't know where to go in order to return. The plea echoes within her, resonates through her and suddenly the black around her fades to grey.

And she remembers a man with eyes like thunderclouds and raven hair. Made of the Northern winds and snow but also burns with the fires of Old Valyria.

Don't leave me here alone.

No, I don't want to, she thinks, fighting with all her might to pull herself from the abyss. Little by little she crawls out, determined to reach him.

Stay with me.

Always, her mind whispers as she surges towards the surface. The grey she loves turning into white as she finally breaks through.

Chapter Text

It's so bright when she opens her eyes, yet she can clearly hear her childrens screams in the distance. She blinks several times to allow her eyes to adjust. As she looks around, she realizes it’s actually not as bright out as she originally thought. But compared to the blackness she came from, it's as if she's staring at the sun.

Once she's able to shake the last tendrils of unconsciousness from her mind, she realizes she's in a bed at Winterfell. Which surprises her a bit because she has no idea how she got here.

She tries to push herself up but the action ends up doing the opposite as pain takes over her so completely that for a moment, it's all she knows. Fortunately, it only lasts for a few moments before it begins to lessen. Soon, it is only a dull ache that doesn't quite go away but is at least bearable if she keeps her breaths shallow. Her wounds were obviously much worse than she thought.

She hears a rustle beside her and her head turns to find her wolf beside her bed, his head tilted back as he rests in a large chair with his eyes closed. Ah, now it made sense how she came to be here.

She drinks in everything about him as her eyes roam over his face. She looks down to find her hand in his and the sight causes her heart to almost burst.

When she sees a giant white ball curled at Jon's feet, she grins. The direwolf seems to sense something as he opens his big, red eyes and looks at her silently.

She smiles at Ghost and he takes that as an invitation to approach her. He bends down to put his face in her outstretched hand, his tail gently wagging. She beams at him as she moves her hand to scratch under his chin. She truly loves the silent wolf. He’s even better than her children in some ways. While her bond with them has grown stronger and they’re more agreeable, she always remembers what her old bear told her.

They’re dragons, Khaleesi. They can never be tamed. Not even by their mother.

She knows it’s true. And she’s alright with that now. She could never force them to be where they do not wish to be. She learned her lesson after making the grave of mistake locking two of her children in the dark.

But Ghost’s wildness is of a different kind. While he too goes where he wishes, he still remains loyal to Jon. The bond he shares with Jon truly has tamed him in a way that a normal person with a regular direwolf could never accomplish.

She gives him one last scratch before he goes to lie back down. She then turns her eyes back up to Jon's face and stares as her thumb runs back and forth over the skin of his hand. She feels the scars from the fire when he’d witnessed his first wight. She knows that even now it still causes him pain and he has to really work on keeping it from becoming too stiff. She remembers how he’d always kept it hidden beneath his gloves at first, as though the rough, damaged skin would be abhorrent to her. But she could never find it repulsive, not to her touch or sight. As her eyes travel up the length of his arm and land on his face, she knows she will never tire of looking at him. Even when they're old and grey, she would love him like a maiden would a young knight.

He looks so tired and frail that it worries her. How long has she been unconscious? How long has he been sitting next to her, waiting for her to wake up? The last question clenches her heart as she imagines his worry while he sat beside her.

But her train of thought is cut short when her ministrations alert something in him as his brow furrows and his eyes open. They blink as he turns to her and he goes completely still.

As he stares at her, not quite believing that she's actually awake, she uses the opportunity to take in the state of him. His eyes are bloodshot and the circles underneath them are the darkest she's ever seen. His beautiful curls are tied back once again. His skin looks slightly sallow in complexion.

Then his face crumples as he takes a deep shuddering breath and removes his hand from hers to cradle her face. They simply stare at each other for an unknown amount of time, reading the emotions in each other’s eyes. Her throat tightens as she sees the lingering fear mixed with happiness and love. His eyes search her own a moment longer before he leans in and gives her a searing kiss then rests his forehead against hers.

"Please don't do that again," he whispers, his breath hot on her face as he struggles to keep his composure.

"I won't," she whispers back, her voice hoarse and cracking.

He breathes through his nose as he pulls away to look at her again.

Before he can say anything else, her bladder tightens and she asks curiously, “What hour is it?”

“Almost sunset,” he replies.

“Is Missandei near?,” she asks.

His brow furrows as he shakes his head. “She’s eating supper with the others. Why? Do you need me to have her brought to you?”

She can feel herself start to feel embarrassed but the need to relieve herself overpowers it.

“I need a woman’s help. Now,” she says with a pointed look.

His face clears and he nods. Turning his head, he calls for the guards to send two servants as he slowly pushes himself out of the chair with a wince. She can tell how difficult it is for him to stand up and sit down but knows he's most likely having to take milk of the poppy or perhaps a special herb to help lessen the pain. The rest will simply have to heal with time.

Like her.

The thought causes her to lift her hand and attempt to touch her ribs, but he grabs her hand to stop her. She turns her head and stares at him in bewilderment.

“Don't," he says quietly. "Your chest is bruised from Drogon and your wound is still tender. Maester Wolkan had to keep it bandaged.”

She gulps nervously and asks, "But it will heal?"

"Yes," he says as he twines his fingers with hers and kisses the back of her hand, his eyes never leaving hers before he lets go and limps towards the door, Ghost right next to him to help support him, just as two female servants come in.

One is a girl a little younger than herself with the usual Northern features of dark hair and light eyes. The other is a plump woman who looks to be in her early forties, with light brown eyes and dark hair. Both curtsy and listen to Jon’s explanation of her injuries before they nod and quickly make their way towards her.

“Your Grace, I’m Mary,” the older woman says kindly before pointing to the young girl. “That there’s Anya. What do you need help with?”

“I… I need to relieve myself,” she says quietly.

Mary smiles and nods before pulling the furs back while Anya brings the chamber pot over to the side of the bed.

“We’re goin’ to need to slowly push you up. Can you lift your hips up a bit so we can avoid the bruises? We can’t go pullin’ ya up or that’ll be too painful,” Mary tells her.

Dany does as she’s told and together, the two women somehow manage to get her into a sitting position and slide her towards the end of the bed.

She looks at them nervously and without question, Anya sets a few rags down beside her and helps push her up while Mary holds her hands. The women help her sit down on the stool and get her shift up around her waist. While Dany has become used to nudity from her time in Essos, this was another matter entirely. But she decides she doesn’t care as they quickly step out while she relieves herself.

When she’s done, they come back in and remove the pot before helping her sit down and lay back against the pillows. Fortunately, it’s not too hard to move as long as she keeps her upper body completely still.

“There now, Your Grace. Feel better?,” Anya asks in a soft voice as she adjusts the pillows while Mary wipes her hands off with a hot rag.

Dany smiles at the girl and nods.

“Thank you,” she tells them as she looks between the two.

“It’s no trouble at all, Your Grace. Not after what you did for us,” Mary says as she pats Dany’s hand before they curtsy once more and leave the room.

Jon immediately comes back in with Ghost and resumes his place in the chair next to the bed.

“How long have I been asleep?,” she asks as confusion.

“We’ve been back almost three days,” he tells her as he puts their joined hands back on the bed.

She blanches at that. Her mind quickly runs through the last moments that she remembers and the reality of their situation sets in. She’s alive. And so is he. The Great War is over and somehow, the living prevailed.

Her eyes meet his worried ones and she stares at him for a long time before saying, “We won.”

The awe in her voice shakes away his worry as his lips quirk up and he nods.

“Aye, we did,” he tells her in a soft voice, his eyes shining with relief and pride. He blinks then and looks at her in concern.

"Do you want some water?," he asks, unable to break the quiet as he continues to speak softly.

She nods her head and he leans over to grab a cup from a small table that she hasn't noticed before. It has vials, a water jug, a wine flagon as well as a plate with bits of bread and a bowl of broth.

He brings the water close to her face and she lifts her hands up to hold the cup herself. He still keeps his hand near the bottom as she drinks it. Once she’s finished, he puts the cup down and gives her a small piece of bread which she gladly takes. As she eats, he goes back to simply watching her as though she's going to disappear. She pats her fingers on the bed in invitation. His eyes flick to her fingers then meet hers before he silently pushes himself out of the chair and walks around to the other side of the bed. He adjusts himself as he lies down beside her. He’s close enough that she can feel the heat of his skin and can see the darker flecks of black around the pupils of his eyes when he turns his head to her, mimicking her pose.

She smiles at him and lays her head back down on the pillows, content to simply look at him. She can see the dark circles under his eyes are worse than she thought and feels her brow pinch. He looks at her with a curious expression, silently asking her what’s wrong.

“You should try to sleep. You look tired,” she murmurs as she continues to frown.

He gives her a small, crooked smile and quietly tells her, “I’ve plenty of time to sleep, my queen. I’m quite happy at the moment.”

She feels her mouth curve into a smile of its own as she sees the emotions in his eyes that support his words.

“Oh,” she says, her smile not faltering, “well, who am I to deny you such pleasures then? Carry on.”

Her words cause him to break out into a full grin and his eyes to soften to a grey that reminds her of clouds that released a light rain. Her heart stutters at the sight. She lifts her hand and lays it on his cheek, cherishing the heat of his skin and the feel of his beard beneath her fingertips. His eyes close at the contact and he brings his own hand up to cover hers, his thumb lightly brushes back and forth across her knuckles. His dark lashes fan out across his cheekbones and she has the urge to bring her other hand up to trace them. But before she can, his eyes open, crashing into hers as he tilts his head to place a kiss on her palm. The small gesture, accompanied with the heat she sees in those grey depths, sets her heart on fire.

“Thank you, Dany,” he whispers against her skin. Her breath catches slightly at the words, pulling her back to a different time. When she was the one waiting on him to wake up. Her mind then goes to the battlefield when he’d called her that just before rushing off to fight the Night King. Then she vaguely remembers dreaming of whispered words in the dark, beckoning to her. She decides right there that he can call her by that name as long as he chooses.

The timbre of his voice and the vibrations of his gruff Northern accent on her wrist makes her break out in goose flesh. She feels herself being pulled into his eyes as her thoughts drift around the pet name and she has to blink several times to focus on the meaning behind the words. When she realizes it, her eyebrows pinch in confusion.

“For what?,” she asks quietly as her own thumb moves across his skin.

“For not leaving me here alone,” he replies, his eyes watching her intently.

Her chest tightens at that and she gingerly lifts her other hand to cup his face, never breaking his stare. “Never, Jon Snow. I will never leave you. I’d fight the gods themselves if they dared try to take me away from you,” she whispers vehemently.

He takes in the fierce possessiveness in her eyes and his mouth slowly pulls up into a rueful grin.

“I’m glad to hear that. I’d hate to fight them on my own,” he tells her.

“As long as we're in agreement,” she says with a smug smirk. Before she can say anything else, she hears the far off calls of her children and looks to the window. She finds she can’t tear her eyes away from it as she wishes with every part of her being that she could go to them. Jon turns his head to the sound as well, staring at the window for a moment before looking back at her.

“They’ve hardly left,” he tells her in a soft voice, another echo of a cry solidifying his point.

Her eyes remain on the window as she nods, absently biting down on her lip as Viserion comes back to her mind.

“You’ll see them soon,” he says as he sees the sadness in her eyes.

Her eyes drop to the bed then. Releasing her lip, she whispers, “I know.”

He stares at her for a moment, wondering why she won’t meet his eyes when he realizes what her dragons’ calls are probably doing to her.

“I know you miss him,” he says gently. He knows he’s guessed correctly when he sees her lower lip tremble ever so slightly. He also knows that while it was extremely hard for him to see her dragon in such a way, he could never comprehend what it was like for her. No amount of acceptance and preparation would have helped in this situation. Her desperate screams as her lost dragon fell for the final time echo in his mind.

“He… he knew. In the end,” she whispers, biting down on her lip again to keep from crying.

“I think he knew when you fell,” he murmurs, his eyes roam over her downturned face in a vain attempt to see if he can gauge what would be the best thing to say to her. He hopes this won’t make it worse for her.

At that, she lifts her eyes up to him and he can see the way they shine with unshed tears as she silently asks him to explain.

“He stopped chasing after you and Drogon. He didn’t fight Rhaegal or try to get past him. He just watched you and cried out. He knew,” he tells her, lifting his hand to wipe the stray tear off her cheek.

Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor,” she whispers, her lilting voice flowing over the Valyrian words like silk.

”That’s right,” he agrees solemnly as he continues to watch her, wishing there was something he could do to take her heartache away from her.

“He was a such a good boy, Jon. He didn’t deserve that,” she says, her voice wavering the entire time.

“No, he didn’t,” he replies as he closes the last inch of space between their bodies so that he’s right next to her. That seems to help her as she presses her face against his shoulder.

“But you were able to talk to him. He seemed to understand what you were saying,” he says, hoping that can somehow help ease her sorrow.

Swallowing hard, she nods as she tries to regain her composure.

“It’s alright to be sad, Dany,” he whispers gently as he swipes away another tear.

“It won’t bring him back to me,” she says, her own voice remaining in a soft whisper as well.

“It won’t. But it doesn’t mean you have to lock it away if you don’t want to,” he tells her.

“We’ll bring him to King’s Landing, just like you wanted. A true Northern ritual. He can go right next to throne. And we’ll make sure none of his remains are used in a way you don’t wish,” he murmurs as he caresses her face.

She looks up at him and searches his eyes for a long time before the corners of her lips twitch upwards in a small, watery smile and she nods her agreement. Even though it’s not a true smile and it’s filled with sadness, he’ll gladly take it.

He presses his lips to her forehead and takes a deep breath. He’ll say anything, do anything, to make her smile again. The kind that makes her eyes sparkle like newly polished gems and shows the small dimples in her cheeks. But he knows that first, she needs to properly mourn. He realizes suddenly that she’s never had the opportunity before. She’s always had to tuck her pain and sorrow away and carry on. He knows then that he’ll help her bear the weight of her sadness for however long she needs him to.

They lay in silence for a long time and both of them begin drifting into the state between sleep and consciousness as they relax. Without thinking, she shifts her position to get more comfortable. But she must have twisted her hips too much, because blinding pain suddenly courses through her as the action pulls at the wound on her ribs. It's enough to make her wish she could have stayed in the darkness a bit longer as spots dance before her eyes.

She can't catch her breath and the more she tries to breathe through the pain, the more she experiences. It’s an all consuming agony that she feels from her head to her toes and causes her to try to instinctively curl in on herself to escape it. Which of course, only makes it worse. A part of her registers that Jon’s trying to say something to her, but there’s a ringing in her ears and she can’t hear him. She begins to panic as her stomach rolls and her heart rate picks up. Tears prick her eyes at the extensiveness of it and she knows she’s never felt such agony in her life.

"Jon," she pants, her eyes large with fright and tears as they meet his. "It… it hurts."

The shooting pain becomes too much and a low keening sound comes out of her mouth.

At the sound, Ghost is immediately on his feet and hovers over her anxiously. Jon calls out for one of the guards to get Maester Wolkan immediately.

Jon leans towards her and grabs her face, trying to get her to calm down. When he touches her skin, it’s cold and slick with a light sheen of sweat. Then she somehow manages to lean over the side of the bed just enough to vomit the bread and water she just ate onto the floor. Thankfully, she just barely misses the furs. She can feel Jon pulling her hair back to hold it away from her face then gently grabbing her arm to help her sit back up once she’s done. All the while attempting to soothe her to no avail.

Within moments, Maester Wolkan is bustling into the room and pushes past the large direwolf to examine her, calling for one of the servants to bring something to clean the sick on the floor. He takes one look at her pained expression and the way she’s sitting before he pours some dreamwine into a small cup and holds it up to her lips.

“Not yet, Your Grace. Rest a while longer,” he says gently as she looks at him over the edge of the cup.

When she finishes drinking it, Maester Wolkan waits until she falls back asleep before he cuts her bandage off to make sure her stitches are still in tact. Once he seems satisfied that she hasn't torn them, he begins moving his fingers along her ribs to make absolute sure nothing is broken or some sort of harm to her insides has occurred.

"What happened, my lord?," Wolkan asks as he continues examining her.

"She...she woke up and was fine but then she must have moved queerly," Jon replies quietly as he moves to get off the bed. Ghost came around to support some of his weight, allowing him to pull himself up to stand. He then goes over to the other side of the bed and looks between the prone woman and the maester.

"Well, at least we know now that she can wake up. That alone relieves me immensely. I'm not too surprised she suffered such an episode with the amount of stress her body is currently undergoing in healing itself along with the shock of the injury. Since she's never had such injuries and is unequipped to know how to handle that amount of pain, unconsciousness is her body’s best defense in dealing with it. But it may also be because-," the maester stops his probing fingers when they reach her lower abdomen. His brow wrinkles and he begins to prod more. He keeps going over the area for almost a minute, murmuring under his breath. As he watches, Jon is just able to catch "hmm...as I suspected."

Then he meets Jon's eyes with a serious expression.

“I believe I understand now why her body has taken so long to heal, my lord,” he tells him. Jon stands there in confusion, unsure of what the maester believes is wrong with Dany. He opens his mouth to ask when there’s a knock on the door and the two servants who had just been in here come to clean the floor enter the room. Jon kindly waves them on when they pause and thanks them as they leave.

Jon looks back at the man but before he can say anything in reply, the maester holds his hand up in a silent request. He then goes and looks out the door, closing it all the way before coming to stand right in front of Jon.

His voice is barely above a whisper when he says, "It appears that she is with child."

Jon stares blankly at him, not comprehending the words that were just said. Then it hits him and his eyes go wide, gaping like a fish as he tries to find the words.

What?,” he breathes as his eyes dart back to the sleeping queen.

The maester silently takes Jon's hand and brings it to her lower stomach where he gently presses Jon's fingers down. Jon gasps when he feels a small bump under her skin, almost as long as his thumb. He looks at the Maester with wide, unbelieving eyes.

"But couldn't that just be an injury or swelling of some sort?," he asks, his eyes wide. 

"From what I've been told of the events that caused the injuries, the location wouldn't make sense. As you can see," he says as he gestures to the bruises along her side, "the dragon was somehow able to catch and hold her so mostly her sides and chest got the brunt of the impact. How this is possible, I don't know. But her abdomen itself appears relatively unharmed."

Jon stares at Dany for a long time before he can find his voice again.

"She said she was barren," he rasps.

His mind suddenly goes back to the conversation in the Dragon Pit. She had been so convinced while he was hesitant to believe the word of a witch. But, he didn't press her on the subject. He could see the pain in her eyes just by mentioning it to him, no matter how unbothered she tried to appear.

"She was misinformed then," Maester Wolkan quietly stated as he looks back down at the queen.

"But…," Jon says, not knowing what he's trying to say. He just stares at the maester until he can gather his thoughts. He swallows the lump in his throat as he looks back down at her.

“If you would like for me to bring a midwife in, I am more than happy to oblige,” Maester Wolkan tells him.

“Not at the moment, Maester,” he sighs as he rubs his face.

"How did she not know?," he asks, remembering how Lady Stark had always gotten sick. She was so sensitive to certain foods and smells when she had carried the younger children.

"There are some women who do not show the usual symptoms, like sickness. Or if they do, it can be until a later time. Sometimes it will just be sensitivity to certain parts of the body," the maester explains.

Jon can feel his face flush like a green boy at the uncomfortable topic the maester has tread into and quickly moves on to his next question.

"How far along is she?,” he asks the grey robed man in a quiet voice.

"Early. Around three moons I'd say, given the size," the maester responds as he looks down at her thoughtfully.

So right after they began sharing a bed.

Gods, she went to war. They both almost died not knowing that she is able to carry life within her again. That she already is.

He takes a deep breath, shaking loose the memories of things they can't change now before asking the question he wants to know the most but at the same time is desperate to avoid.

"Will the babe survive?," he asks quietly. His mind is whirring over the possibilities and consequences of what this could mean for her. For them. Hells, for the entire realm.
The maester looks contemplative as he decides how to best word his answer.

“One can never really know with these things. Women have lost their children under regular circumstances and her grace has just survived a war,” he says quietly. Jon’s heart stutters in his chest at the maester’s words, but before he can reply, Wolkan continues.

“But since it seems she hasn't suffered from any extensive damage to her insides and she hasn't had any sort of bleeding, there is a very good chance that the babe will survive. Actually, I’m quite certain it will as long as the correct steps are taken. I will need to observe her recovery even more closely than I already am. And her grace will need to be very careful. Any more stress to her body or mind would be damaging, especially for the next moon," he tells Jon.

The relief he feels is so potent, he almost falls to the floor.

But it's quickly replaced by a startling realization.

"Maester Wolkan," he says, his voice steely, "no one can know about this."

The maester nods his head emphatically. "Not a soul, my lord."

"When do you expect her to wake up?,” he asks.

“Most likely during the hour of the ghost or owl. No later then sunrise. The little dreamwine I gave her will let her rest for several more hours. I will give her some honeyed water to keep her body sustained while she sleeps," the maester replies.

"Thank you, maester Wolkan. I will need you to be here though when I inform her advisors. Most likely before the night is through,” Jon says to the man.

"Of course, my lord," he replies with a bow before leaving the room.

Jon sits by the bed, staring at her as his mind races with how to proceed from here.

Once her wounds have healed more, he will take her to the godswood and make her his wife before the old gods. Something he's wanted to do for awhile, but with the war and everything else, it didn’t seem sane. And had they both survived, he’d planned on doing it after she won King’s Landing.

But now?

Now, he will do anything to make sure the people accept the babe as her legitimate heir. He won't stand for any speculation of it legitimacy. Nor will he have whispers of uncertainty or judgement follow her in regards to their child.

Their child.

The thought warms his entire being and causes his vision to blur. Never had he even imagined that this life would be his. To not only be a legitimate son himself but to have the love of this goddess of a woman and now to have a child with her. Never again will he have to fear the possibility of bringing a bastard into the world.

He can't help the smile that splits his face as he imagines what their child will look like.

Perhaps a girl with grey eyes and shining silver hair who is as beautiful as her mother. A perfect representation of what the Moon Maiden would look like should she deign to come down from the sky and walk the earth amongst them. Or a boy with dark hair and bright amethyst eyes. A strong warrior that has the fires of dragons burning inside him which drives him to be daring on the battlefield, yet the tempered cold of the North to keep him level headed and just. Perhaps the babe will take all the looks of her, but the actions and mannerisms of him or vice versa.

The possibilities are endless yet he tries to imagine them all.

He knows whatever it is and whoever it looks like, it will be the most loved child Westeros has ever seen. It will experience the adoration of both parents, something Dany and he never had. He was luckier in the sense that he did at least have a father and his half siblings who cared for him.

But even so, he was still an outsider, always battling with the consequences of being a bastard, the one dark stain on Eddard Stark's honorable reputation.

He was never able to escape the cold stares from Lady Stark, nor the sharp stabs of pain at Sansa’s avoidance as she copied her mother, or the drum of anger that threatened to overwhelm him at Theon's constant ridicule. He had grown up excluded and pushed to the shadows whenever lords visited, do everything to ignore the pitying glances people would throw at him. Even his brothers in the Watch had called him "Lord Snow" in mockery.

The similar upbringings they experienced is one of the many reasons he is glad to have Dany in his life. She understands what it's like to have people judge you simply by your name, never bothering to look at the actual person. Both of them have had to rise above the stigma surrounding the circumstances of their birth and family.

But the more he thinks on it, the more worried he becomes. What if Cersei gets hold of this information and has her mercenaries come to them before they can regroup? What if she sends an assassin of some sort instead?

He'll need to send a letter to Lord Varys. He will have to make sure his little birds control what's being said about the news of the North. As well as to see if he’s made any progress with the sellswords. Daenerys will have to convince them to join her side. He won’t allow her to be part of the battle if they refuse. If Cersei has made more Scorpions, he can’t risk Drogon getting shot down while she’s on him. She can control the dragon from the ground if need be.

They will also need to have more guards around her. He will personally make sure she doesn't go out to the winter town alone, if at all. He knows his dragon queen will rage and spit her flames at him for that, but he doesn't care. He knows now that he has his own flames to protect him.

Whatever he must do to make sure she and this child live, he will gladly do it. Even if it means he must become the king to her queen in order for him to get his way.

Thinking of that, he heaves a sigh. No, there is no "if" about that part. He will have to become a king in order for her to listen to him. He purses his lips in thought, maybe it won't be too difficult. She's listened to his council since the day on the beach. He'll just have to word any demands in such a way she won’t be able to argue against them.

After a moment, he has to stop as his thoughts begin to muddle together causing his head to ache right around his eyes,causing his stomach to roll in protest.

He looks down at Ghost, who has yet to move from his spot near Dany, and smiles fondly at the wolf as he reaches over to scratch behind his ear.

"You knew, didn't you? Is that why you always walked with her when she was alone? You were protecting both of them?," he asks as the direwolf’s behavior towards Dany finally makes sense to him.

Ghost just stares silently at him as he pants, his tongue hanging happily out from the side of his mouth.

As continues to pet Ghost, he thinks over Maester Wolkan’s observation about her bruising. He realizes that the dragons must have somehow known as well. Because while their child may not be a dragon rider to either of these dragons, it’s clear now that they’ll protect it. Again, he puts together their behavior and how they’d both stay close to Winterfell unless it was to hunt. [removed a sentence]

It comforts him to know that this child will have the protection of both wolves and dragons. He’s not sure if the dragons will continue such behavior once the child is born, but he knows Ghost will. Surfacing from his musings, he looks down at his beloved direwolf.

"You're a wonderful guard," he says, "but why don't you go hunt? I'll watch her."
He knows some find it odd how he talks to Ghost as though he's a person, but he also knows that Ghost can understand him.

“I’m sure Nymeria is waiting for you,” he tells the wolf.

Red eyes flick back to Dany before the wolf stands. Jon grabs onto his fur again and pulls himself up to walk to the door to let Ghost out.

However, when the door opens, he finds Davos standing on the other side.

The man looks from him to Ghost then steps aside as Ghost walks by him and continues down the hall. Turning back to Jon, he says, “You’re looking better.”

Jon gives a small smile and nods, allowing the man in the room.

"I've been told the queen was awake for a short time,” he says with a smile as he steps inside.

“Aye, she was. But the pain was too much,” Jon replies as he closed the door before limping back to the chair by her bed.

He gestures for Davos to take a seat nearby and quietly says, “There’s something I need to discuss with you, there is a bit of news the maester relayed to me.”

Davos’s brow furrows at the tone of his voice and sits without question.

Taking a deep breath, Jon looks Davos in the eye and says, “Maester Wolkan believes the queen to be with child.”

Davos doesn’t respond for a moment and simply stares at Jon while he processes what he’s just been told. He then turns his eyes and looks at the queen for a moment before meeting Jon’s eyes again.

“He’s sure?,” he asks.

“Yes. Although he said he’d be willing to have a midwife look at her as well,” he replies.

Davos lets out a sigh, his eyes bouncing between the two of them again.

“That changes everything,” he says quietly.

Jon slowly nods and looks away from the inquisitive brown eyes of his advisor, unsure of what more to add to that statement.

“How far along is she?,” he asks

“Three moons,” Jon replies, meeting Davos’s eyes again. But he averts them once more when the man lifts a brow in response, feeling his cheeks warm.

“That puts us in a bit of a bind on time before she begins to show," Davos contemplates as he scratches his chin.

Now all shyness on the matter leaves Jon as he turns back to the older man with a fierce expression.

“The moment she is well enough, I am taking her to the weirwood to claim her before the old gods. I will not let my child be thought of as a bastard,” he says vehemently.

Davos’s brow goes to his hairline as he takes in Jon’s words and the fire in his eyes. Jon doesn’t back down from the stare and clenches his jaw in determination, ready to argue his point more if need be.

But a large grin spreads across Davos’s face and he nods in agreement.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less from you, lad,” he says approvingly.

Jon feels himself relax, briefly wondering why he was so worried about the possibility of Davos trying to turn him away from that course of action. The man was honest to the bone and would disagree with decisions, but he’d never become disloyal and turn his back on someone simply because he didn’t share the same opinion. Perhaps he just wants this so bad that he knows he’ll fight any way he can to make sure he gets it.

“So what now?,” Davos asks him.

“Will you have my siblings brought here as well as Lord Tyrion, Missandei, and Maester Wolkan? I’d like to speak with them about this before they retire for the night,” he asks Davos.

With a nod, the man stands up and goes to the door. But before he opens it, he turns to Jon and says, “Fatherhood will do wonders for that brooding you’re always fond of.”

Jon just snorts and shakes his head in amusement as Davos gives him a wicked grin then leaves, allowing Jon to sit with his thoughts once again. His eyes go right back towards the sleeping woman who captured his heart and he simply studies her as he waits.

When Davos returns shortly after with those he requested, all but Bran look warily between the sleeping queen and Jon. He motions for them to sit in the chairs he had brought in.

"What's wrong, Jon?," Sansa asks worriedly. Her cerulean eyes search his for any clues.

He leans back into his chair and steeples his fingers.

"What I'm about to say cannot leave this room until the queen wakes and we have discussed a plan of action," he tells them, looking at every one of them.

The tone of his voice immediately sets them all on edge.

"Done," Tyrion says without hesitation.

"Maester Wolkan has informed me that the queen is with child," he says quietly.

He receives disbelieving looks from those in front of him, all except Bran.

"But before... she never...," Missandei stammers to Tyrion.

Tyrion snaps out of his stupor and turns to Missandei, looking thoughtful.

"Perhaps she wasn't the one who couldn't conceive," Tyrion says thoughtfully before looking back to Jon.

“That’s entirely possible, my lord,” Maester Wolkan agrees.

Jon understands who they're discussing and he breathes through the ridiculous and unnecessary jealousy he always feels when hearing of the Tyrosh sellsword and focuses on the fact that the sellsword is not here and she loves him.

"Are we certain?," Tyrion asks, his gaze is fiery as he seeks the truth from Maester Wolkan.

"Yes, my lord," the maester says, calmly looking around at the others.

"It's true," Bran says serenely. "The dragonlords shall return to the world once more."

They all look silently at the greenseer as they take in his words before Missandei asks, "How far along?" Her eyes going back the queen.

"Around three moons," Wolkan responds quietly. Jon knows they'll make the same connection he did.

The Naathi woman looks at him with an unreadable expression before turning to the maester and asking, "And you're sure the babe will live?"

"As I told Lord Jon, since she sustained no damage other than the bruising and the wound on her side, the babe should live. If she had lost too much blood, the child would have already perished. I’m quite confident it will live," the grey robed man tells her. She stares at him for a moment before finally giving him a silent nod.

“When will the queen wake?,” Tyrion asks the Maester.

“Soon. The dreamwine will give her a few more hours of sleep,” he tells him.

When Tyrion narrows his eyes slightly, Maester Wolkan explains, “She was in too much pain earlier and could not calm. I had no other choice. It was a slightly diluted mixture to begin with.”

That seems to appease the dwarf as he relaxes slightly in his seat. Maester Wolkan walks over to the queen and quickly examines her before turning to Jon.

“How do you wish to proceed then?,” Tyrion asks curiously although there’s a glint in his eyes that tells Jon he already knows the answer.

"I’ll tell you the same thing I said to Ser Davos. I won’t have any lords question the legitimacy of my child and will take her to the weirwood," Jon tells them sternly.

Tyrion sighs and rubs his eyes with his thumb and forefinger before nodding his head.

"A Northern wedding would be wise. It won't raise as many questions about the timing as it would if we wait. And we can use this to our advantage to portray it as uniting the North and South in a more equal setting for any of the lords who still have doubts about bending the knee to our queen," Tyrion says in agreement.

"It will bring the Northern lords to heel with the king and heir of the throne having Stark blood," Sansa says confidently. Arya gives a nod in confirmation.

Tyrion looks suddenly at Jon. "You'll have to do a ceremony of the Seven as well."

"That won't be a problem for me," he says looking Tyrion in the eye.

"Good," Tyrion responds.

“Will it be a problem for those who follow the Seven?,” Jon asks Tyrion with a penetrating stare. He can’t help but hold his breath as he waits for the answer. This has been the question that has plagued him since he learned of his parentage but he’s never been able to voice it. Yet he knows that the time has come and he has to face it. While those who followed the Seven were fine with cousins marrying, he’s not sure how they would feel with their queen marrying her nephew.

Tyrion bites his lip and his eyes squint slightly while he thinks over that question.

“The Targaryens followed the Seven even though they married brother to sister,” he says slowly as his fingers begin to tap the arm of the chair.

“Why does it matter? You two are practically the saviors of Westeros. They should be begging her to take the throne,” Arya says defensively.

“I don’t want anyone to find a reason to rebel against her,” Jon tells her patiently.

“Fortunately, our queen has never been one to care much for the opinions of others. And with you both being dragon riders... well, I think this will very much be Aegon the Conqueror all over again. They’ll accept it or risk the wrath of the dragons and those who follow them,” Tyrion says in a dismissive tone.

Tilting his head, he looks at Jon.

“While we’re speaking of marriages and thrones, I want to make absolutely certain that you realize you will be crowned as Aegon Targaryen VI, King of the Seven Kingdoms. And that you will be expected to rule beside her in King’s Landing until the end of her reign,” he states. He gives Jon a moment to let that soak in before asking, “Is that something you’re now willing to accept?”

He takes a deep breath and glances around to those gathered in the room. His eyes land on his sisters and he nods before turning back to Tyrion.

“Yes. I’ve already told her I’d go with her wherever she chose to rule,” he says quietly, though the certainty behind his words is clear. He’s never actually told anyone aside from Arya that he’d planned on going with Dany if they both survived the Great War, but he stands by his statement. Especially now that their child grows inside her.

“I think Jon Targaryen sounds better,” Arya says in a slightly petulant voice.

They all look at her for a moment before Sansa lets out a long suffering sigh and gives Arya a reprimanding look, though the corners of her mouth twitch ever so slightly.

"Sansa," Jon says, looking at his sister and drawing her attention back to him. "You will then officially be Wardeness of the North."

Sansa's eyes go wide at the declaration, a small smile playing at her lips as she nods.

Tyrion raises an eyebrow at that. "The lords won't give you any issues with a woman ruling the North, will they? While there are lady heads of houses, I'm not sure any have been Wardeness," he says to Jon.

Jon's eyes are hard when he looks at Tyrion.

"She's already been ruling in my stead. And I know the queen will not have a problem with it, in fact, she'll most likely be very adamant about it. You know she finds Sansa to be an extremely capable leader. And after what the lords on the battlefield witnessed of the queen, they would not dare go against her."

Touched that not only Jon, but the queen as well actually feel so sure about her, Sansa can't help but sit taller in her seat.

Tyrion raises his hands in supplication. “I know this. But I’d rather not have to worry about the North once we head south and I wanted to be certain,” he says.

Jon nods in understanding before turning to Missandei. The Naathi woman arches a brow ever so slightly as his grey eyes meet her brown ones.

"It's paramount that we get the Golden Company on our side. We need an answer from Varys on his progress and inform him of the news,” Jon tells her. He hesitates only a moment before continuing.

“Would you mind writing to Varys? You’re the only one who knows High Valyrian and this is something that cannot be written in Common Tongue. Make it as vague as you can but with enough clues for him to catch on,” he explains.

“I’ll dictate and you translate,” Tyrion offers as he looks to the woman.

She looks between the two of them before finally settling her eyes back on him and bowing her head.

“It will be done... Your Grace,” she says quietly.

He completely blanches at the title, but before he can tell her he’s not a “Grace” at all, Davos speaks.

“With the Golden Company, it would be best to plan on having to meet the captains face to face," he says. "While Lord Varys is quite persuasive, it'll be hard to convince them on his own to switch sides. They're not the Windblown. I'm sure they'll want to hear it straight from her."

Jon nods as he begins to think through that suggestion and everything they'll need to do in preparation.

“It’s still worth a try. I know none of us will want her to ride Drogon into battle. And he won't listen to anyone else,” he tells them in a stern voice.

"Well, to be fair," Arya drawls as she gestures lazily towards him, "he did listen to you."

Tyrion and Missandei eyebrows shoot up at that and they both look at Jon.

"Those were extenuating circumstances that I will make sure don't happen again," he tells her, not explaining further. Seeing the steel in his eyes, she shrugs and concedes to his point.

"Another story for another time," Tyrion says, his expression telling Jon that he expects to be told about this before he moves on to the present matter at hand.

"But yes, we cannot let Cersei find out about the queen's condition," Tyrion says, looking back at the queen. "If she knows that both of you were severely injured during the war along with these new tidings, she will most likely send her mercenaries to our door step before we have time to regather our strength or an assassin if she feels the Golden Company is moving too slow."

"An assassin is not something to worry about," Arya says in a dismissive tone with a wave of her hand. "If that does seem to be a possibility though, then I will guard the queen. I had to identify almost every poison there is before I was allowed to learn how to change my face.”

Jon feels a warmth in his chest at the offer his sister just made. She has just told them all, in no uncertain terms, that she considers Dany worthy of her protection and a member of their pack. He glances at Sansa to see her nod in agreement.

“Word of the queen won’t leave the North, Jon. Only that we have won against the dead. I can’t deny the soldiers the opportunity to inform their families that they’re alive,” she tells him.

"I will watch the borders to the south," Bran says tonelessly.

“Thank you,” he says to them with an affectionate smile.

When he looks over to see Davos smirking at him. He raises his brow in question at his advisor’s thoughts.

"Oh, lad," the old smuggler says with a sigh, "you'll never stop proving the world wrong, will you?"

Jon cracks a small smile at his advisor.

"It's not as if I set out to do it," he replies lightly, settling back into his chair.

"That's what makes it all the more fascinating," Davos responds.

"Yes," Tyrion agrees wryly, "they're a fascinating pair that I'm sure are going to run us in the ground with their surprises."

Davos chuckles, "Without a doubt."
Sansa nods to him then gets up to hug Jon. Wrapping her arms carefully around his shoulders, she whispers, "I'm so happy for you, Jon. And thank you."

He gives her a light squeeze in response. "You are the rightful heir. Besides, you were always better at ruling than I could ever hope to be. It's only fitting," he says affectionately.

"It looks like you'll get to have a family after all," Arya tells him quietly.

He studies the look in his sister's eyes as they show the grim acceptance that this will mean without a shadow of a doubt he's going to have to leave her.

He leans forward and chucks her lightly on the chin before saying, "Aye, but what did I tell you about me being up here so often you'll get sick of me? Besides, I know after awhile you'll be unsatisfied about being in one place for so long and you'll decide on somewhere new to go next. And who’s going to train my child in being a water dancer if not you?”

The slight sadness in her eyes leaves as she hears the confirmation that he still plans to come back to Winterfell and wasn't simply telling her what she wanted to hear. And that he’d want her to train his heir.

“What if it’s a girl?,” she asks teasingly.

He shrugs, unconcerned. “If she wants to fight, she’ll learn to fight. Visenya was queen and a warrior. I gave you Needle, didn’t I? Besides, growing up surrounded by such fierce women will be good for the child,” he says with a smile.

She beams at him and lunges forward to hug him. "You're going to make a wonderful father," she murmurs, hugging him even tighter.

He chokes out at laugh and squeezes her, "I need Dany to wake up first," he says.

She pulls back and sees the emotion in his matching grey eyes. "She will. Stop worrying so much," she reassures him as she lets go.

He breathes deeply and nods before giving a her small smile.

"Did Nymeria go off with her pack or is she still around?," he asks curiously.

Arya gives a half smile as she answers, "I believe she's around somewhere, no doubt feeding on the dead horses on the battlefield. But since Ghost is here, I think she'll stick close by. At least I hope she will."

“I told Ghost to go find her while he hunts,” he tells her.

“If she’s not close by, I’m sure she and her pack are still eating what remains on the battlefield,” she says lightly.

That reminds Jon of what Dany told the soldiers about having the dragons burn the remaining dead.

"Shit," he says, dragging his hand over his head.

"What?," Arya asks, her head tilted to the side in confusion at his outburst.

"Dany told the soldiers she'd have the dragons burn the dead on the field, remember?," he says to her. "I'm sure they'd rather not have their dead eaten."

She gives him a smug look and says, “I already told Bran while you were asleep. He took Rhaegal and burned the men.”

He blinks at her a moment, taking in the knowledge that Bran can actually warg with dragon as she laced her fingers behind her head and arches a brow at him the glances at Bran who nods silently.

“So, you’re welcome,” she states wryly.

"Thank you,” he says with a smirk before turning to Bran. He still feels hesitant around his younger brother but he quickly pushes it aside.

“Did you see the soldiers?," he asks him.

"Yes, they seemed to have taken meat from the fallen horses, tended to the more serious injuries and are making their way here. They should be here in about three days. Four if the snow slows them down," the young greenseer responds. Jon nods and thinks about that, knowing the soldiers and horses will be practically starving and need to get back as quickly as they can.

“Can you use Rhaegal to help them along?,” he asks.

“Of course,” Bran replies with a dip of his chin.

After a moment, Tyrion looks around the small group and says, “I suppose we should all retire. Tomorrow we’ll need to begin the preparations for the returning soldiers."

The others murmur their agreement and make their way out of the room, bidding their good nights. Davos offers his hand to Jon to help pull him out of the chair. Once standing, he nods in gratitude and makes his way towards the bed. If she’s going to wake up sometime in the night, then he wants to be rested enough to tell her of the news.

Just as he sits down, there’s a knock at the door. But before he can call out, it opens to show one of the guard’s nervous face who silently moves aside to let Ghost pass.

“He wanted back in, m’lord,” he says apologetically.

“It’s quite alright. Thank you,” Jon says kindly with a small smile. The guard nods and closes the door again.

Jon watches as the wolf sniffs Dany then looks at him before going to lie back down. He shakes his head fondly at the white wolf, realizing he’s as likely to leave Dany as Jon is right now. Which is not at all.

Once he’s comfortable on the bed, he looks at Dany and feels his heart race as he realizes that he’ll get to look at her sleeping next to him for the rest of his life. The thought warms his entire being, all the way to the deepest recesses of his soul. Taking her hand in his, he sets them on his chest and closes his eyes. He falls asleep to the picture of Dany smiling her beautiful smile as she holds a small child in her arms.

Chapter Text

Fire. She’s surrounded by fire. It glides across her skin and weaves between her limbs like a lover, yet never burns her while in its gentle caress. She turns around and finds those of her past standing before her in the flames. She sees her sun and stars, the man who would have been Rhaego, Viserys, and many more with pale hair and light eyes.

Death,” they murmur as one.

She tries to walk to them, but before she can get close enough, they blacken and disintegrate. She continues to spin in a slow circle until she finally comes face to face with eyes like gold. Viserion looks at her for a long time before he stretches his long neck out to her. She feels her tears drying before they even hit her cheeks as she puts her hands out to her child. His nose meets her hands and they stare at each other for what feels like forever as he lets out soft noises and she holds him.

They close their eyes at the same time and when she opens them, she whispers, “Goodbye, my beautiful son.”

He pulls back from her hand and opens his mouth to let a small stream of fire the color of pale gold shot through with red and orange engulf her before he too falls and turns to ash.

This fire isn’t like the previous one, it races across her body and tries to bury itself into the skin of her breasts and stomach. The flames shoot between her legs and burn her. She cries out and tries to push them away, but it’s no use.

“Only death can pay for life,” the fire whispers in her ear.

She closes her eyes and waits for the pain to end. But as soon as she does, she’s beside a man standing in front of the frozen North. He turns and his dark grey eyes penetrate her for a moment before he throws his head back and becomes the skeleton of a wolf. He lets out a long howl as he’s blown away, turning into snow. The answering cries are lost on the winds that whip around her and mercilessly bite at her exposed flesh. The snow stings her eyes and she’s once again forced to close them.

When she feels a warmth surround her, she opens her eyes once more and finds  Jon smiling down at her with his shining grey eyes.

“Life,” he whispers before he too turns into Ghost and takes off.

She tries to follow him, but he’s too fast as he runs towards the horizon. Shadows fall over her and her arms curl instinctively around something she’s now holding. When she looks down to see what it is, she’s startled to find eyes the color of thunderclouds watching her from a small, round face. The babe she cradles stretches its chubby little arms towards her and smiles a toothless grin. When its tiny hand rests on her cheek, tears blur her eyes and she blinks them away in a desperate attempt to see the child clearly as she kisses its palm. The calls of her two remaining children, along with the howls of wolves, fill the world with their song and she’s blinded by the light of the rising sun.

When her eyes open once again, she finds herself back in Winterfell. She blinks in confusion and looks around the room. She searches for the babe but when the cold night air hits her in the face, it brings her mind back into focus.

It was only a dream, she thinks, her smile falling as an immense sadness overwhelms her. Tears form in her eyes, as she desperately wishes to go back to her dream.

She looks to her side to see Jon sleeping and shifts a bit so she can be closer to him, hoping that will bring her some comfort. She takes a trembling breath as she remembers the babe. It had felt so real in her arms. A heaviness that was just right, allowing the child to fit perfectly against her breast. The babe’s skin was like velvet under her lips and its hair was that fine texture that only babes possesseds. It had even smelled lovely, like lilacs. She squeezes her eyes tight as she tries to burn the image into her mind so it will stay with her forever. A small sob, barely above a whisper, escapes from her mouth and her heart constricts at the knowledge of how that dream will never be her reality.

Though she tried to be quiet, the noise wakes Jon and he turns to find her eyes shining with tears. His own eyes widen in alarm as he sits up and reaches over to her.

"Dany, what's wrong? Are you in pain?," he asks, his eyes scanning her body for any signs of discomfort.

"No," she says, reaching gingerly to wipe her cheeks so as not to disturb her side. "I just had a dream."

The worry in his eyes remains as he misunderstands her, thinking she had a night terror.

"It wasn't real," he says, his hand stroking her cheek as he tries to comfort her. But it has the opposite effect and more tears begin to form. In the back of her mind, she realizes that she is acting absolutely mad, but can't seem to stop herself.

"I know," she chokes out. "It's just... I wish it had been." Her voice breaks as the tears flow even more.

Now, he's completely lost as he looks at her. He tries to think of something to tell her, but comes up with nothing. Unsure of what to say, his hands cup her face as he tries to wipe her tears away with his thumbs.

"Is there anything I can do?," he asks, trying to appease her in some way.

She gives a watery laugh at that. "It's nothing you can solve. It's me," she says quietly as she carefully reaches to touch his face.

He turns his head to kiss her palm. "I'm sorry," he whispers against her skin.

"It's alright," she whispers back.

After a moment, her mind regains clarity and she takes a steadying breath. As she does, she realizes how awful her mouth tastes when she swallows and instinctively rubs her tongue against the roof of her mouth to try and get the taste out to no avail. She looks up at Jon, her nose wrinkling in disgust.

"My mouth tastes horrid," she says, her face still scrunched up.

Jon quietly laughs at her expression before he pushes himself up and walks across the room to get the powder and a clean linen cloth. She then notices Ghost on the floor. Her brow wrinkles in confusion as she remembers seeing him when she woke up the first time.

"Why is Ghost still here?," she asks Jon as he turns around. "Doesn't he usually dislike being inside so long?"

He gives her an unreadable look as he says, "He went out to hunt after the maester came to see you. But other than that, he’s refused to leave your side."

She blinks and tilts her head as she looks down at the direwolf in curiosity. She knew he was fond of her but even when he stayed with her that one night, by the time she had woken up, he was gone.

He helps her shift around until she's somewhat propped up against the pillows then hands both items to her. She puts the powder on her teeth then rubs it in with the cloth. After a few moments, she finishes and folds the cloth up before putting it and the powder in his waiting hand.

"What hour is it?," she asks as he walks to the dresser, wondering how long she’s been unconscious this time.

"The hour of the nightingale," he replies as he puts down the items. He then comes back to settle down next to her and looks at her thoughtfully.

"May I ask what your good dream was about?," he questions quietly, gauging her reaction.

She swallows and looks down at her hands. "There was fire and Viserion was there. Then I was in the North with a man I didn’t know. You were in it,” she says quietly, smiling at him briefly. But it falls as she garners up the courage to tell him the rest.

"There was a babe," she says as her voice begins to quiver.

"The babe...,” she swallows the lump in her throat as she remembers the child from her dream. "The babe was so beautiful, Jon," she whispers.

She looks sadly up at Jon then and is surprised by his reaction. He's smiling softly at her, his eyes shining with a happiness she doesn't understand.

"Dany," he murmurs.

"What?," she whispers bewildered.

"Do you remember how I asked if you'd ever considered that the witch wasn't a reliable source of information?," he asks gently.

"Yes," she replies, still not understanding why he's acting like this.

Instead of answering, he pulls down the furs that are covering her and lifts the night shirt up. The cold air causes her skin to break out in goose flesh, but that’s not what causes her to gasp in horror. That would be due to the sight of her upper torso. It's a myriad of blacks, purples, and greens with bits of yellows in it. No wonder it hurts to move. Jon looks at her and, seeing the expression on her face, reaches up to touch her cheek so she'll look at him.

"Maester Wolkan has assured me that you've not broken anything. He looked you over again after he gave you the dreamwine," he reassures her, his eyes steady.

She nods and he takes her hand in his and brings it down to her lower abdomen. He then presses her fingers down until she feels a small bump. Her brow furrows and she looks at him in confusion.

"As I said, an unreliable source," he tells her with a beautiful smile.

She stares at him with a blank expression as her mind puts together what he’s implying. When his words finally make sense to her, she snatches her hand away and tears start to form in her eyes.

"That's not possible," she rasps. Her breathing begins to pick up until she feels as though she's been sprinting, not daring to believe what Jon is telling her. Because there's nothing to believe she thinks to herself. It's simply an injury or swelling of some kind. It’s not… that. It can never be that.

"It's quite possible," he tells her in a calm voice, watching her face closely. But she just shakes her head, not wanting to hear such talk. 

"Stop it," she hisses through her teeth when he tries again. Immeasurable fury courses through her as she continues to shake her head. He looks taken aback by the anger in her voice, but she can’t control her emotions.

“Dany, I… why are you so angry?,” he asks quietly, watching her with wide, incredulous eyes.

"Because it’s cruel to tell me such things,” she snaps. She can feel her eyes blaze with hurt and despair as she looks at him. When he continues to stare at her as though she’s going to strike him at any moment, she bites down hard on her lip and knows what she has to tell him.

“You weren't there when they took Rhaego from me, Jon," she says, her voice breaking as the memories of that day consume her. She can feel her throat aching with the need to cry and tears blur her vision even more. She’s been able to look back at that day and not feel so strongly about what became of her unborn son, but this blatant reminder of why she’s so adamant this current implication can’t be true is bringing up all her old feelings of guilt and loss.

She tries to collect herself, but gives up after several attempts and continues on, her tears now falling freely down her cheeks.

“You didn't… you didn’t hear what that awful witch said to me. What her magic did to Rhaego. Or what they told me he looked like,” she sobs.

She buries her face into her hands for a moment, unable to look at him as the expressions of Jhiqui, Irri, and Jorah swarm about her head when she had asked for the body of her son. She finally removes her hands away and looks at Jon’s wide eyes as he takes in her tear stained cheeks and heartbroken expression.

“They told me that...that he... he was a monster! A creature! He should… should have been beautiful. The best of Drogo and me,” she says, her voice shaking as she forces the horrible truth out of her mouth and she ignores the way her stomach tightens with the need to empty itself.

“B-but instead he had scales, Jon! He was a deformed, twisted thing! Not even a babe! His flesh had.. had sloughed off the bone when he was touched and he had gr-graveworms inside him. You...you don't know!,” she cries. She does her best to keep from sobbing, but a small keening noise rises up the back of her throat and slips out of her mouth before she can stop it.

The horror and disbelief she sees in his eyes is what breaks her. She begins sobbing hysterically, feeling her heart cleave in two as she remembers the beautiful man in her fever dream who had her eyes and hair with Drogo's skin and build. How he had burst into flames and how hard she had sobbed in the dream. Then her heart turns to dust as she thinks of the sweet babe with Jon's eyes. The pain shooting up her side begins to burn so much that she grabs at it in a vain attempt to keep it from moving more.

Jon looks at her in alarm and sees the endless devastation in her eyes, turning them to a dark indigo that verges on black. After a moment, his expression becomes fiercely determined and he reaches to grab her face, locking her in place when she tries to turn away from him.

"Calm down, Dany,” he says, his thumbs brushing the tears away from her cheeks. She stares at him as he waits until her breathing returns to a somewhat normal pace. She takes in the warring emotions in those grey depths. Sadness, pity, anger, love. When he sees that she’s no longer as distraught, he continues.

“It's true. I swear it on the old gods and the new. Whatever gods you want me to swear on, I will. You know I would never lie to you. Especially with something as serious as this. I will go get the maester now if you wish," he tells her fervently, his eyes like Valyrian steel as they bore into her.

She knows he wouldn't lie, she can see it in the openness of his gaze that he believes what he’s saying. But she also knows it's too good to be true. And any good things that happened to her only get taken away in the worst possible fashion. The thought makes her shut her eyes against the pain.

"When the sun rises in the west and sails in the east. When the seas go dry and the mountains blow in the wind like leaves. When your womb quickens again and you bear a living child. Then he shall return to you and not before," she whispers brokenly to him. She opens her eyes and finds him now looking at her with bewilderment.

"That's the answer I was given by the maegi when I asked her when my husband would be healed and normal again once she had completed the ritual," she tells him.

"Which means I will never be able to bear a child, Jon," she says. She's unable to keep the venom from her voice in her desperate attempt for him to understand that while she is mother of dragons, she will never be a mother of man.

Jon's jaw clenches and he studies her for a long moment. She watches the way his eyes shudder until his emotions are no longer visible for her to see, filling her with panic because the last time he looked at her like that was when he learned Ned Stark wasn’t his true father. Just as she thinks to open her mouth and say something, he lets go of her face, gets off of the bed, and walks out the door without a word. She can hear his muffled voice talking to one of the guards but even when the retreating footsteps are gone, he still doesn’t come back in. She's so stunned that she stares at the door for a moment before new tears begin to flood her eyes. She covers her face with the crook of her arm as she tries to prevent the sob in her throat from coming out.

She doesn't know why he left her. She had told him time and again that she was barren! It's her fault, she knows that. She brought this on herself and she's paying the consequence of her past stupidity to the highest degree. What more does he want from her? He had promised that her being unable to conceive didn't matter to him. But now, faced with the delusion that she is, it's obvious how much he truly does want a family. She was fooling herself in thinking that they would be fine with this life, with just the two of them. Again, the realization that it would be wiser to give him up so he can have that family with someone else makes her heart clench so hard, she's sure it will stop.

Still concealed in the darkness created by her arm, she slowly allows the tears to stop falling down her cheeks as she lets her anger take hold. She latches onto it like her children do to their prey, as she’d much rather feel angry at him than this gut wrenching sadness.

How dare he tell her such drivel then walk away from her like that? To be mad at her just because she's being honest. Who does he think he is?

But before she can completely lose herself in her rage, she hears the door open again. She lifts her arm to find Jon standing there with Maester Wolkan behind him. He steps aside to let the grey robed man pass and closes the door. He then leans on the wall and watches silently.

"Your Grace," the maester says kindly as he walks to the bed.

"Maester Wolkan," she greets warily after clearing her throat as she looks between the two men.

Standing at the side of her bed, the maester hands her a cup with a strange smelling liquid coming from it. She takes the cup but doesn't drink it, she just holds it in front of her while she looks at him like a simpleton.

"What's in it?," she finally asks as she looks down into the cup with an incredulous expression. Are they trying to give her more milk of the poppy or dreamwine? If so, she will not drink it. She’ll throw it at Jon instead.

"Just licorice steeped in vinegar mixed with honey and cloves. It’s to help your strength," he tells her kindly. That relaxes her and she looks back down at the liquid. She glances at Jon before she brings the cup to her lips and drinks. Once done, she hands it to the maester, who sets it aside before turning back to her.

He gestures to the chair next to her bed and asks, "May I sit, Your Grace?"

She nods silently. Once he's comfortable, he looks her over.

"First, are you feeling any pain that I should attend to now?," he asks, watching her face for the truth. She thinks on that a moment and feeling nothing above what she can handle, replies, “no.” He nods and settles into his chair.

"Good. Now, I understand you are dubious of the news Lord Snow shared with you," he says calmly.

"Yes," she replies, the incredulity she felt moments before slipping back in as she looks at him.

"May I ask why you believe you are barren, Your Grace?," he says as he continues to look at her, completely ignoring Jon’s presence.

"I was cursed by a witch when I was with the Dothraki," she says quietly, shame coloring her face.

The maester's eyes narrow at her and his lips bunch to the side. His expression clearly stating he does not believe that to be possible. She understands his skepticism. Maesters are men of science not witchcraft.

"How?," he asks, his focus completely on her as he waits for her answer.

"Blood magic," she whispers. Her eyes now drop to her lap, unable to bear the scrutiny of this man and Jon. Even if the maester didn't believe in curses, blood magic was very real. They have to use it when they forge their Valyrian chains at the Citadel.

"And you know this for sure? You saw the ritual she performed? You heard the spells she used?," he asks incredulously.

"I didn't see the ritual. No one was allowed in the tent. But she told me as much once it was completed," she says as she slowly looks back up at the older man.

"And this is all you have to go on that you are indeed barren?," he asks, the speculation still clear in his voice.

"No. I..," she begins when her eyes flick towards Jon. His face remains stoic as he continues to watch her silently, yet she can feel the heat in his eyes even from here.

"I’ve had...others… who have shared my bed," she finishes hesitantly as she looks to the maester then back to Jon. The tension in his shoulders is evident, yet his face stays perfectly calm.

She looks back to Wolkan and sees he has a contemplative look on his face as he slowly nods.

"Yes, that would be reason enough to assume it was you who could not conceive," he says as his eyes meet hers again. That comment brings her up short and for a moment, all she can do is blink.

"But...," she says as she tries to reason with him. He waits patiently while she gathers her thoughts.

Clearing her throat a little, she continues. “There was more than one. Surely they can’t have both been unable to produce heirs,” she says as she tries not to wring her fingers together as she recalls her few nights with Hizdar.

He looks thoughtful and nods in concession to that as his eyes become far away in thought. He quickly returns his focus to her and asks, “May I ask what the witch told you?”

Taking a breath, she repeats what she told Jon. By the time she’s through, the maester’s brow is furrowed, giving his forehead pronounced wrinkles.

“That doesn’t sound like a true answer, Your Grace,” he tells her slowly.

Now, it’s her turn to look at him in confusion. She looks at Jon to see if his face gives away any understanding, but he gives a small shake of his head, indicating he doesn’t know either.

“What do you mean?,” she asks, returning her attention to the man before her.

“I’m not certain I mean anything in particular, Your Grace. I’m simply stating that what you were told does not sound like an answer one would normally give,” he says as he strokes his beard in thought.

“It’s something to think on though,” he muses before coming back to himself.

"Did you notice anything odd in regards to your moon blood, Your Grace?," the maester questions.

Her face goes slack at the question. It had been lighter than normal, but not enough to cause her worry. There was just so much going on, the stress of the preparations for the Great War and Jon.... Her eyes flick to the man of her thoughts but still, he makes no move towards her whatsoever. She swallows and looks helplessly at the maester again.

"There was so much going on with the war... it just didn't occur to me at the time to think of it as anything but stress," she whispers, even though she somehow phrases it like a question. In this moment, she's never felt less like the queen she's become and more like the young girl that she had thought died in the pyre with her khal.

Again, the maester nods in understanding.

"That's quite a reason, Your Grace," he says, giving her a kind smile.

"Have you noticed any sensitivity to particular parts of your body?," he asks after a moment.

She ponders that and thinks how her breasts have been slightly more sensitive as of late, but it wasn't enough to cause concern. She simply assumed it was due to heightened desire from Jon's attention.

She gives a small nod at that and again glances at Jon. His cheeks are pink but still, he keeps his composure.

"You're absolutely sure?," she asks, still not believing him.

"As sure as I am a maester, Your Grace. If you do not believe me, then come the next moon you will be able to see the difference in your body," he says confidently.

"But I am more than willing to bring a midwife to you if that would help," he finishes, looking between the two.

"It’s up to the queen," Jon says calmly, the first words he's actually spoken since returning.
“I… I would like that,” Dany tells him with a small nod.

Maester Wolkan nods as well and stands.

“I had a suspicion you would. I’ll be back in just a moment,” he says as he walks to the door. Once it closes, she turns her full attention to Jon.

“Jon?,” she asks quietly, her eyes showing just how worried and confused she is over his behavior.

He gives her a soft smile and she instantly feels the tension and anxiety leave her as he says, “It’s alright, Dany.”

Her eyes flick to the space beside her before returning to him. Realizing what she’s silently asking, he shakes his head.

“I’ll just be in the way when they return,” he tells her.

She looks back down at her fingers and begins twisting them together, needing something to do while she waits. Thankfully, Ghost seems to pick up on her nervousness and nudges his nose against her hands. Letting out a small sigh, she smiles and pets him instead, keeping her eyes trained on the movement of her fingers as they slide across his head. She can feel Jon’s gaze on the two of them, but she keeps her own locked on Ghost as her heart rate starts to slow down.

After a while, the door opens again and the maester steps in with a hooded figure that he lets pass him.

When the door is closed, the woman lifts her hood back to reveal a tall, lean woman in her mid thirties with hair as dark as Jon’s and eyes the color of moss. She gives a small curtsy before approaching Dany.

“I’m Margaret, Ya Grace,” she says in a rough Northern accent as she scrutinizes Dany.

Turning around she looks at the men and says, “Out.”

Jon stiffens slightly at the order and gives a single shake of his head.

“Do whatever you must, but I will not leave the queen alone,” he tells her.

Margaret stares at him for a long moment, her lips pinched. She glances to the maester who nods and she shrugs, completely unbothered, saying, “Very well, m’lord. But I’ll have no interruptions and if the queen feels uncomfortable with answerin’ while you’re in here, you’ll have ta step out.” She waits for Jon to nod in agreement before turning back to Dany.

“Now, Ya Grace,” she says as she sits down and begins to rub her hands together and blows on them in an attempt to warm them, “am I allowed to touch ya?”

At Dany’s nod and quiet “yes”, the woman reaches towards her and holds her breasts in her hands, watching for any signs of reaction while she examines them. She looks at Jon surreptitiously and sees his cheeks flame. She internally scoffs at his shyness when he’s done so much more to her body. Her attention is dragged back to the midwife when Margaret’s fingers touch just under the swell of her breast. Upon seeing Dany’s small twitch of discomfort when she squeezes a bit too hard, she lets go.

“Full and sensitive,” she states as she sits back.

“Was there a time where ya had been feeling more tired than usual?,” she asks, folding her hands in her lap, observing the slight circles under her eyes.

She thinks back to the time after Jon’s true parentage and how she could barely sleep for a sennight. Of course she was tired then so she thinks back further. Again, she’d not slept well for a time so she didn’t think anything of it.

“At times,” she says slowly as she meets the midwife’s eyes, “But I wasn’t sleeping well during such periods.”

She glances at Jon and sees his eyes narrowed and his lips pursed, most likely remembering the time when she looked like death warmed over. Thankfully, he keeps his thoughts to himself although Margaret follows her eyes and catches his expression. Making a small noise in the back of her throat, she turns those moss eyes back to Dany and gives her a look that tells her she’s not convinced by her vague answer, but moves on.

“Have ya been feeling the need to relieve yourself more?,” she asks.

Again, Dany answers with a slow yes to which Margaret nods. She then lifts the furs off of her.

“Now, moon blood. Have ya had any?,” she asks as she presses down on the small bump and hums before lightly massaging her entire pelvic area.

“It’s been light, but yes,” she replies as she watches the midwife’s fingers.

“Bleeding can happen,” Margaret says with a nod before covering her back up with the furs and meeting her eyes head on.

“That’s no injury, Ya Grace. That there’s a babe. Just as the maester said,” she tells Dany in a calm voice.

“I ask that you tell no one of this,” Jon says to the midwife with a stern look.

Margaret clicks her tongue as though that was obvious before nodding her head.

“Not a peep will come from me, m’lord,” she tells him before turning back to Dany.

“We’ll keep a good eye on ya, Ya Grace. Make sure that babe grows strong. I won’t have any problems while you’re in the North. If ya have more questions, call for me,” she says with a small smile.

She swallows at the kindness she sees in the woman’s mossy eyes and nods. Margaret curtseys to them both again before putting her hood up and leaving the three of them within the bedchamber.

Looking between the two men, Dany’s eyes land on the maester and she looks at him for a moment. She could trust this man, couldn't she? He has no reason to lie to her, does he? He's bound to Winterfell, so he has no specific house loyalty, no ties to other lords to help benefit himself. He’s always seemed to be a kind hearted man and she’s never felt anything sinister from him, regardless of the fact that he served the Boltons.

"Maester, I..," she stops to try and swallow the lump in her throat, "I don't want... She told me I'd never bear a living child. What if I lose this one too?"

She tries unsuccessfully to hide the tremble in her voice and her purple eyes show how terrified she truly is. How this hope will completely break her if it doesn’t come to fruition.

The maester's expression softens as he glimpses the scared young woman behind the intimidating queen. He glances to Jon and notices the young lord looking tenderly at the queen before him. Turning back to her, the maester reaches out to place his hand on top of hers and gives it a light squeeze.

"There is always a possibility that could happen, Your Grace, as it is with all women," he says honestly. Her eyes lower at that. But before she can let the despair take over, he gives her a harder squeeze that brings her eyes back up to his. The determination in his gaze surprises her as he says, "But as long as you reside here, I will do everything I can as maester of this keep to make sure that your child lives, Your Grace. It's the very least I could do after what you have done for us."

Her brow creases the slightest bit at the last statement. The two servant woman had told her the same and the midwife had given her an odd look before she left, but she didn’t understand the looks of admiration in their eyes. They had all won against the dead. She doesn’t think she did anything in particular that would garner such emotions from the people.

"Even here, we could see the flames in the darkness of the sky and the sounds of the dragons. We would not be here now if it wasn't for them," he tells her quietly.

Her bottom lip trembles as she tries to imagine the sight, not sure how she feels that others had seen Viserion’s blue flames without knowing her child had come back to her in the briefest of moments. That he wasn’t truly a monster.

Coming back to the present, she searches his eyes before slowly nodding her head in acceptance. "Thank you," she tells him in a small voice.

“It is my honor, Your Grace,” he murmurs. He lets go of her hand and looks out the window to see the early morning light peeking through the boards then turns back to her.

"Now, seeing as I am already here and it is nearly morning, why don't we have a look at your wound, Your Grace?,” he asks.

When she nods her head, he stands and goes to get Sam to assist him. The large Black brother comes in with more bandages and gives her an awkward bow then turns to smile at Jon who whispers in his ear. He nods before setting the supplies down. Dany then allows the maester and Sam to carefully push her into a sitting position. Every wrong move, no matter how slight, has her hissing in pain. So she attempts to do as she did before and keep her torso as still as she can. Once she's settled, he rolls up her night shirt so he can undo the bandage. With the bandage off, she can't help but try and look at the wound again.

A long and jagged line hugs around her side like the embrace of a lover. It's an angry red color with puckered skin around the stitches. All in all, an ugly sight, but she doesn't mind. It's a testament that she fought and that she survived.

"Fortunately, I see no blood to show any breaks in the stitching," he says as he looks at the bandage then at her wound. He looks at the skin around the stitches closely and nods in approval then lets Sam observe it as well, murmuring certain facts to him.

"The skin around the cut still doesn't look as though there is any infection. That’s very good," he tells them, the satisfaction clear in his voice.

She looks up at Jon again and this time, he graces her with another small half smile and gives her an encouraging nod.

"How are your bruises?," the maester asks as he begins smearing a salve of what smells like lavender and something else along the darkened skin that Sam hands over to him.

"Still tender," she says through her teeth, trying not to gasp at the pain. The other two men give her sympathetic looks which she ignores.

"I would say you will need about another five to seven days of bed rest, Your Grace," he tells her as he finishes and wipes his hands on a rag. She turns to Jon in outrage at that but he gives her a stern look, silently telling her not to argue, and her expression turns sullen. When she glances at Sam, she finds him watching them with amusement before dropping his eyes.

The maester looks up at her and, seeing her expression, says, "Your soldiers are still not back yet. I would like to make sure you are healed enough because once they arrive, I will be needed to treat the other wounded. And we need to do everything we can to ensure you and your child remain healthy."

Her expression changes to chagrin at her moment of selfishness and she nods her head.

"Of course, Maester Wolkan," she says quietly. But then a new thought comes to her.

“Am I allowed to at least get up for basic functions? May I bathe?,” she asks him, running her fingers through her tangled, greasy hair in disgust as though to prove her point.

“As long as you have someone to help you at all times while you regain your strength. I’d prefer it if you had two though. And if you don’t get your wound wet, then yes. Although you should be able to fully bathe in another three days. That will give the stitches time to close the skin,” he replies as he adds more salve. Once he's done spreading it, he wipes his hands while Sam takes the new bandaging helps and begins to wrap her wound again. While Sam continues, Maester Wolkan turns to Jon.

"Shall I do you also, my lord?," he asks him.

Jon nods silently and comes to sit on the bed beside her.

She's able to see the newest scars on his body as well once his bandages are off. They look similar to hers but aren't as long. Still, they’re not pleasant looking. She makes a promise to herself that she will kiss every inch of them all.

When the maester gets to the one on his thigh, he sees that it's opened. He gives Jon a reprimanding look to which he just shrugs sheepishly.

"It would be wise if you were to not rip your stitches, my lord," he tells Jon sternly.

The maester takes out a vial of what smells like vinegar and drips some onto the open wound, causing Jon to lightly hiss.

After he's done, he begins to stitch the skin up again and bandages the fresh wound.

"If you're not careful, my lord, the skin and muscle of this wound will not heal properly or it will become infected. As I’m sure you’re aware," the maester tells Jon.

"It won't happen again, maester," he says truthfully.

Maester Wolkan nods and stands up so he and Sam can help Dany settle against the pillows again before they collect the old bandages.

"If you have any need of me, simply send word. Or Samwell can help," he tells them with a slight bow. Then he and Sam make their way towards the door and leave them. Jon shifts on the bed so he's closer to her and watches her silently.

Her body hurts as her chest heaves in its fight for air but she ignores the pain as she stares at Jon's eyes. Her gaze flitting back and forth between the grey irises as she finds only an unfathomable amount of love and happiness directed at her.

She looks down and rubs her currently flat stomach that, if Maester Wolkan and the midwife are correct, will soon grow with the life she now carries. Never in her life has she been so frightened to even dare to hope something was true. What if this babe dies too? What if she could carry as many children as she wishes, but never actually hold a living one? What if she is cursed to forever birth monsters?

What if you’re wrong and this child lives?, a voice in the back of her mind whispers.

Her breath hitches at the thought. She can feel her heart pick up speed as it begins to lighten. Her eyes look at nothing as she thinks that if this babe hasn’t died yet, and that’s after almost dying herself, maybe… maybe she could allow herself some hope. As she tries to let in only a sliver of that dangerous emotion, the wall around her heart crumbles and she’s flooded with possibilities of her child as her dream returns to the forefront of her mind. A sob breaks through her lips as she looks back up at Jon and she can't stop the tears running down her cheeks. The one thing she's wanted most in this world, but never thought she would truly have again, is now hers.

She smiles at him so brightly, it's almost blinding in its joy. He can only stare dumbfounded at the stunning image it makes of her face. He’d seen her smile and laugh, but it was never so powerful that his mind literally could not function for several seconds. Once he recovers, he gives her a smile just as radiant, his eyes turning to pools of silver. He leans down and gives her a searing kiss, saying everything he feels that words can't describe as his tongue battles against her own.

She gets lost in him as she breathes in his scent. She doesn't even realize she's pulled him on top of her until she feels his chest press lightly against her own. But before she can demand more, he's gone.

She opens her eyes in displeasure to see him smirking down at her. His eyes are almost completely black in their lust as they roam over her face.

"I did not give you permission to stop," she says breathlessly.

A single brow raises as he regards her.

"Forgive me, Your Grace, but I don't need your permission. I am a king," he tells her, repeating the words he'd said on Dragonstone. Her brow lifts at that statement although she can feel heat warm in her belly.

"I believe you bent the knee," she replies in challenge.

He smirks as he leans over to slide his lips along her cheek before they stop at her ear.

"Aye, but when you're able, Daenerys Stormborn, we are going to the weirwood. And before the old gods, I will make you mine, just as I am yours," he whispers low against the shell of her ear. He kisses the skin just below it before pulling back again to look at her.

Her heart picks up speed as she realizes what he's telling her and she can only stare at him in shock as she desperately searches his eyes for the truth. He wants to marry her? He'll rule with her even though he's never been appealed by the idea? He’ll truly leave his home to stay with her?

 The possibility that not only could she be wrong about her ability to conceive, but also that Jon wants to marry her makes her feel ecstatic while simultaneously terrified.

As she thinks on it more, she’s once again filled with apprehension and doubt. Something like this really and truly is too good to happen to her. Which means it's either false or she will lose it, just as she loses everything that brings her even the tiniest bit of actual happiness. Because when has her existence ever given her anything her heart has desired? Much less the one thing she’s always wanted. A home with a family to call her own. The answer is simple. Never. If there are gods, they exist to taunt her with the possibility, only to snatch it back just as her fingers close around it. The fear that it will happen yet again takes over so fast that she has to close her eyes.

Jon sees the change in her expression and is immediately on alert. Maybe... maybe she doesn't want to marry him. Insecurities begin to flood him and he can feel himself shutting down to try and numb the unending pain he's sure to feel with her rejection.

When she feels him pulling away, she opens her eyes to see his expression completely blank. Even his eyes.

Tears fill her own eyes as she irrationally thinks she's woken up from yet another dream.

"I woke up didn't I?," she asks sorrowfully.

His expression changes to confusion now. "What?," he asks.

"It was a dream wasn't it?," she asks, becoming distressed as she continues. "I...I'm... this isn't really happening to me, is it? It's too good to be true which means it actually isn't true," she says as she becomes almost unhinged by voicing her fear.

Jon's expression clears and he looks at her with an immeasurable gentleness as he takes her face in his hands again. Her eyes close at the contact and a pained expression crosses her lovely face.

"Look at me," he commands in a quiet voice. Amethyst eyes open and look right into grey with a desperation he tries to soothe away.

"You are very much awake," he murmurs in a comforting voice.

Her breath shudders out of her as she keeps staring at the handsome man before her. As if needing proof, she silently reaches up to touch him. She feels the coarse hairs of his beard scratch her palm and the heat of his breath against her wrist. Once again, he instantly leans into her hand while his eyes remain locked with her own.

"Do you believe me?," he asks softly, his lips on the pulse of her wrist.

She nods as she takes as deep of a breath as her side will allow, letting the lavender salve invade her senses and aide in calming her mind.

He gives her a soft smile and gently kisses her palm. But after a moment, his smile turns mischievous and he nips the skin below her thumb with his teeth as his eyes roam over her face.

"Are we sure you didn't hit your head?," he asks teasingly.

Her eyes widen in indignation at the question and the hand on his cheek retaliates by giving him light slap.

"You are not nice," she states, her face showing just how unamusing she finds his jest.

He grins widely in response and leans down to kiss her again. He takes her bottom lip between his teeth and gives it a light squeeze before letting it go.

"I think I can be very nice, my queen," he says against her mouth. He then moves his lips against hers in a slow rhythm while his tongue languidly strokes against her own in a way that sets her soul alight.

But too soon, he's removing himself from her. Again.

Her eyes blaze at him, but he simply gives her an innocent smile that is completely ruined by the wickedness in his grey eyes. She can only stare at him with her mouth slightly agape.

Who is this man before her? She’s asked herself this question several times before but has yet to be able to come up with an answer. It's certainly not the sullen king that came to her at Dragonstone asking for her help but giving her nothing in return. Who was so insecure of his title but so sure of his cause. This mercurial man she’s seen glimpses of on the other hand, is completely confident in himself. Maybe it’s the dragon in him coming out. Or maybe he feels his confidence will be accepted by her. But she shuts her mouth when his grin stretches ever so slightly and her eyes narrow.

"What do you think you are doing?," she asks irritated.

"I thought that was obvious," he says sweetly.

Her eyes widen slightly at his gall for giving her such a response. She hates that she also feels a fire starting to burn in her stomach and warm her core. She tries to hide her visceral response to him but with the knowing look in his molten eyes tells her she wasn’t quick enough.

"Why do you keep pulling away?," she clarifies, annoyance clear in her voice.

His face suddenly becomes serious and his eyes darken so quickly she would have thought it was a trick of the light had she not been watching him so closely.

"Because if I don't, I won’t be able to control myself from taking you right now. Stitches and bruises be damned," he says in a low voice.

She takes in a sharp breath at his bold response. She feels the small sting of her bruises from the movement, but it's not nearly as bad as it was. Mostly because her mind is completely focused on the pleasure she knows this man has brought her. The pleasure that he refuses to bring her now.

Before she can reply though, something wet and cold pushes against her neck and she turns to find two red eyes staring at her.

Grinning widely, she turns slightly so she’s facing the wolf.

“I’m sorry, sweetling. I’ve not forgotten about you,” she says as she reaches for him. But he just sits next to her and watches her carefully. “Who could?,” she teases as he sets his head on the bed next to her and looks up at her silently, allowing her to run her fingers along his forehead.

“Don’t fret. I’d still be a wolf with you,” she says with a grin as she continues to pet him.

She swears the look Ghost shoots Jon is almost smug and she has to bite her lip in an attempt not to burst out laughing. Unfortunately, it’s to no avail when she turns to see Jon staring at the direwolf with an unimpressed expression.

“She’s not yours, Ghost,” Jon tells him as he reaches for her. His wolf seems to disagree because he leans over her and nips at the offending hand. Jon stares at his companion with disbelieving eyes and tries to hide the fondness that wants to pull his lips up.

“Ghost, you’re a direwolf. Not some lap animal. Act like one,” Jon says in mock exasperation, not moving from his position. The “lap animal” in question gently flings his head and shoulders onto Dany’s legs. As he stays on his side, he uses a large paw to push Jon away, his long tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth in a way that gives him a wolf- grin.

“Ghost!,” Jon says in admonition, staring at the white wolf as though he’s been betrayed. But again, the direwolf doesn’t seem to care. He just rubs the side of his head on her legs as though attempting to infuse his scent into the furs. He then lets out a sneeze before resting his chin on them and looks back at Jon with large, innocent red eyes, his ears pricked all the way forward. If he hadn’t been the size of a horse, he would have looked like a sweet, young pup. And the more she thinks about that image, with his ears and paws being too big for him, Dany is sure he’s used that look on Jon many times before. Especially if the man’s torn expression is anything to go by.

Tears of mirth cloud her vision as she watches the scene before her with her lips pressed tightly together. It causes her to snort in a very unladylike way and she quickly claps her hand over her mouth. Jon whips his head to her with his brow raised in surprise at hearing such a sound come from her.

“Jon, let him be,” she laughs, wiping away the tears that escaped. He simply huffs and sits back, crossing his arms as he stares at the direwolf. Sensing he’s won, Ghost lifts his massive body off of her legs, much to her appreciation, and gets comfortable on the ground then rests only his chin on her legs, his eyes darting between the two of them.

“Don’t be so put out,” she teases. “Ghost and I have spent many nights together walking through the woods. He even stayed with me an entire night one time,” she says fondly as she looks down to meet his red eyes.

When Jon doesn’t say anything, she turns back to find him looking uncomfortable and his cheeks tinged pink.

“What?,” she asks, her brow pinching slightly in confusion as she tries to understand the expression on his face. It looks… almost guilty.

“I uh… I know he was with you one night,” he says with downcast eyes.

“You do?,” she asks warily, still not understanding why he won’t meet her eyes.

“Yes,” he says quietly as he looks at Ghost. She waits for him to explain, but when he remains silent, she knows she’s going to have to force it out of him.

“Jon… what aren’t you telling me?,” she asks with narrowed eyes.

He sighs and crosses his arms, as though trying to protect himself and the action has her tense up.

“I… do you remember how I told you Ghost is me?,” he asks as he looks at hands.

“And you are Ghost,” she finishes with a nod.

He scratches his beard and sighs before saying, “What that can entail is that sometimes… when I sleep… I can… well, it’s not on purpose. I can’t control when it happens, but it does sometimes when he’s near me….”

When she realizes he’s going to continue to ramble, she reaches a hand out and places it on his thigh. Her touch has him stop immediately and look at her with wide eyes.

“What happens when you sleep?,” she asks gently as she keeps eye contact with him.

“I can see what he sees,” he whispers, an apologetic look crossing his face.

She retracts her hand and looks at him incredulously.

“What do you mean?,” she asks. Although with the way her heart rate picks up, she already knows what he’s trying to say and why he looks so stricken.

“I have wolf dreams. I go into his mind,” he replies, once again looking away.

She stares at him for a long moment before she too has to drop her eyes.

“So you’re saying… you know he stayed with me because… you were having a… wolf dream that night?,” she asks in a small voice.

“Yes,” he says, watching her from beneath his lashes.

“Does that mean you can... hear everything he hears too?,” she asks as her own cheeks turn pink in embarrassment.

Taking a deep breath, he nods and says, “It does.”

“Oh,” she replies, not knowing what else to say. He heard her? Heard her whisper her secrets and insecurities? She can’t look at him as mortification sweeps through her.

“I’m sorry, Dany,” he whispers, the guilty note in his voice clear as day.

“It’s not your fault,” she whispers back, still unable to look at him. She’s not sure why she’s so embarrassed. He’s seen her at her lowest points and he didn’t run away from her. It’s not as though this was any different. She supposes it’s more because what she had said to “Ghost” was about Jon.

Suddenly a new worry enters her mind. Is that why he came back to her? Did he feel sorry for her? Did he return to her because he felt guilty? And now that she’s most likely pregnant with his child, does he feel obligated to marry her? The questions cause her throat to tighten. She doesn’t want him to be with her through guilt. Out of all the men in the world, only Jon Snow could make her revert to the shy, young girl she had been back in Pentos. She hates this feeling of inadequacy, but she can never do anything to stop the uncertainties from entering her mind. Not after he’d left her alone. While he may have thought that she was better off without him in regards to the realm’s acceptance of her, he’d never asked her what she wanted. How can she be sure he won’t leave her again?

She tries to remember that she’s a dragon and that dragons are stronger than that. But she’s never been faced with another dragon before. Viserys has never been a true dragon. Jon however… Jon is that and more. Because he is also half wolf and they are just as ferocious.

“Dany?,” he asks softly, worried about the hurt look on her face and the way she keeps swallowing.

“Is that why you came back?,” she asks, voicing her thought quietly as she continues to avert her eyes from him.

“What?,” he asks in disbelief.

When she doesn’t repeat herself, he quickly shakes his head.

“No,” he says fervently before asking, “Why would you think that?”

She shrugs and takes a deep breath before mimicking him and looking up at him through her own lashes.

“You have done what you saw fit to be right for me and the realm before. How am I to know you won’t do it again?,” she asks in a quiet voice.

He stares at her as if she’s gone mad, his mouth slightly open and his eyes wide with incredulity. It causes her to feel slightly uncomfortable and she has to avert her eyes. After a moment, he shakes his head as his expression turns serious.

“I made a mistake, Daenerys,” he tells her in a serious voice. The use of her full name grabs her attention and she snaps her eyes up to look at him head on now. A small part of her is surprised at how quickly she’s taken to the pet name but she pushes that away as she takes in the sullen regret on his face.

“I should have never left you for so long and I’m sorry. If it’s any comfort, it was just as painful for me, if not more so because I stood in my own way,” he says quietly and sighs. His eyes focus on nothing as he tries to gather his thoughts into the words he wants say. Knowing his usual hesitancy of saying what he truly feels and tendency to trip over his words at times, she doesn’t rush him. Her patience pays off after several minutes when he looks back at her with a resolute gleam in his eyes.

“But I won’t ever leave you again. Even if you didn’t want me, I’d break my promise about never darkening your door again,” he tells her.

“Why is that?,” she asks, feeling her chest flutter at the need to hear him say the words.

He shrugs his uninjured shoulder and replies, “I can’t leave you alone now. Babe or no. It’s too late for me.”

Taking a deep breath, he looks at her with a penetrating stare that strikes her very core and in a voice barely above whisper, he says, “I can’t go back to the cold and expect to survive when I know what the warmth of your fire feels like.”

Seven hells, she thinks as she bites her lip. This man, who is almost always so unsure of his words, is now able to tell her the most wondrous things; erasing all her doubts in the span of one sentence. She’s usually not one for patience, but she will give him all the time in the world if statements like this are the result.

She swallows and observes the tense line of his shoulders as he waits for her response. Finally, she dips her chin in acquiescence as a small smirk graces her lips.

“I suppose... I have no other choice but to allow myself to be whisked away by you, my Northern wolf,” she tells him, unable to keep the sultry note out of her voice.

His body instantly relaxes and he gives her an equally heart stopping smirk as his eyes turn to silver.

“I’m afraid it’s you who’s done the whisking, my queen,” he replies huskily.

She stares at him for a long time before she quickly regains her composure and, after clearing her throat, says, "Well. Back to the conversation we were having before we were… so kindly interrupted,” giving a rueful smirk to Ghost before turning back to Jon. “If you continue to tease me in such a way, then leave," she tells him archly.

One dark brow rises at her statement and he makes no move to do as she ordered.

"Fine," she says, trying to keep her jaw from clenching. "I'll leave."

Now, the other brow joins and they disappear into hairline as he gives her an unconvinced look of that truly happening.

”I want to at least wipe my face off and wash my hair because I feel disgusting and I’m hungry," she tells him, clarifying why she wants to leave. His face instantly changes to attentive and he nods.

"Shall I call for Missandei?," he asks.

She smiles at him and says, "Please."
But before he can get up, her smile disappears and she looks at him curiously.

“Who all… knows?,” she asks as she watches him closely.

He meets her eyes and replies, “Your advisors, Davos, my sisters, and Bran.”

She hums and gives a small nod.

“Very well. I suppose I should thank you for taking care of that for me,” she says with a teasing smile.

Shaking his head, he smiles back before he clears his throat.

“I’d like to tell Sam as well if you don’t mind,” he says a bit nervously. 

Smiling, she says, “Of course, Jon. He is your family too. And I know he would never betray your trust.”

He grins and leans down once more but, much to her disappointment, doesn't kiss her.

He simply whispers, "Believe me, my queen, when you have recovered, I plan on showing you just how happy I am that you didn’t leave me here alone." His voice is so passionate in its husky tone and his eyes are so hypnotic, that she feels her breath leave her and has trouble finding her voice for a moment.

"I will accept those terms," she finally whispers.

They stare at each other for a moment before her stomach signals its need and brings her back to the present.

"Now go away and send Missandei to me quickly," she tells him, waving her hand dismissively.

"As my queen commands. I’m going to find Sam, but I’ll be back. I’m sure Tyrion will come to you as soon as he’s able," he says with an impish grin before getting up and leaving the room with Ghost at his side for support.

Once he's gone, she lets out a loud groan that turns into a hiss as the movement causes her side to pinch a bit. As the pain slowly ebbs away, she looks to her abdomen and affectionately rubs the area where the tiny bump lies under her skin. But her head turns to the window when she hears the distant cries of her other children and the sound of their calls has her desperately wanting to go to them.

She needs to heal immediately.

Chapter Text

A short time later, the door opens to reveal Missandei with a small tray of food and she smiles at the Naathi woman. She rushes over and sets the food down before she falls to her knees beside the bed, grabbing Dany’s hand as she attempts to keep her composure.

“Your Grace,” she breathes as her amber eyes roam over Dany’s face.

“I’m alright, Missandei,” she says gently, patting the top of the woman’s hand with her free one.

“We weren’t sure you… there were moments where...,” she whispers, unable to voice the fear they had all shared and swallows hard at the thought of her friend and queen not surviving.

“It will take more than that to kill me,” Dany replies in an attempt to lighten the air around them.

Missandei nods and moves from her position on the floor to sit in the chair next to the bed, but the haunted look doesn’t completely fade as she stares at her queen.

Clearing her throat, Dany tries to think of something to say but Missandei beats her to it.

“Was it terrifying?,” she asks quietly as she folds her hands in her lap.

Biting her lip, Dany nods in silent confirmation and, seeing the sympathy in her friend’s honey eyes, inhales before telling her what she saw.

“There were… so many of them. More than I had guessed,” she whispers with a grimace before a thought occurs to her.

“Maester Wolkan said you all saw the battle. What… what exactly did you see?,” she asks.

“We saw their flames in the distance when the snows would allow it,” she replies as she settles into the chair. “They were like small sparks in the sky. I knew the blue must have been… his, as Drogon and Rhaegal’s flames are black and orange.”

“We could hear them... on the wind,” she continues softly, her eyes growing vacant as she remembers. “While it was distant most of the time, there was one point where their cries were so loud that it was truly terrifying.”

Her eyes come back into focus as she looks at Dany with a searching expression and Dany nods in thought.

“That must have been when I was… dismounted,” she tells her with a small sigh.
“Or maybe when Viserion...,” she swallows and blinks away the tears that form in her eyes as she looks at the Naathi woman.

“Oh, Missandei. He… he was….,” she trails off, unsure of what to say, and closes her eyes against the pain. They snap open though when she feels a warm hand cover hers and finds Missandei looking at her with her own tear filled eyes.

“Lord Tyrion told me what Lord Jon had discussed with him,” she says in a voice barely above whisper before swallowing.

“I… I miss him too, Your Grace. And he wasn’t even my child. It’s not... the same without him,” she finishes with a heartbroken look.

With a trembling lip, Dany shakes her head. Her friend has never spoken of her feelings on the loss of her dragon and while it tore to her pieces, it also mended something inside of her to know that her precious child was loved by someone other than just herself. Lifting her hand to cover her eyes, she says in a wavering voice, “He was a good boy until the end.”

They’re both quiet for a time while she regains her composure. She lowers her hand and wants to say more, but her stomach growls loudly. Missandei gives a small smile and says, “I’m sorry, Your Grace. I shouldn’t have kept you.”

She reaches for the wooden tray and sets it on Dany’s lap. On it are a piece of bread and a thick stew with beef and vegetables. The aroma of the stew makes her mouth water and she quickly begins to eat. Before she knows it, the food is gone and Missandei is removing the tray and setting it aside once again.

“It’s good to see you eat so heartily, Your Grace,” she says with an approving smile. “We can’t have you not eating enough for the babe.”

The corners of her mouth twitch up into the barest of smiles, even though it doesn’t quite reach her eyes, and she rests her hand on her stomach.

Noticing the hint of melancholy in her expression, Missandei’s brow furrows.

“Your Grace?,” she asks as she retakes her seat.

Inhaling sharply, Dany looks up and whispers, “I just… I don’t know if I can remain in one piece if I lose this child too.”

“You will not lose the babe, Your Grace,” she says fervently.

“You don’t know that,” she replies with a sad smile.

“I don’t,” she concedes reluctantly. “But if you can cross the Red Waste, bring dragons back in the world, become queen in Essos and Westeros, then who am I to doubt that you can have this child?,” she asks honestly.

For some odd reason, having her impossible accomplishments listed in such a way lightens her chest and she relaxes back into the pillows, allowing the hopeful emotions she felt before Jon left to fill her again.

“I suppose that’s true,” she says with a small smile.

Missandei gets up and picks up a brush then comes back to start brushing her tangled locks.

“You will have the family you so desire, Your Grace,” Missandei says softly.

Swallowing hard, she drops her eyes to her lap and whispers, “It’s all I’ve ever wanted. To have a family. To know the joys of holding a babe in my arms.”

They lapse into silence again as she turns her head so the back can be brushed. When Missandei finishes, she turns back around and sees the slightly bittersweet look in her golden eyes. Dany realizes her mistake in her word choice and gives her an apologetic look. But the Naathi shakes her head, silently saying it’s not needed.

“If Grey Worm were not an Unsullied, I would not have ever had the opportunity to know him,” Missandei tells her, shrugging one shoulder.

“I’m grateful for every moment I have had since leaving Astapor,” Missandei says. They’re quiet for a moment before the Naathi continues.

“While it may sadden me later on that I’m not able to create a family with the man I love, I don’t plan on dwelling on such things. I grew up knowing to never expect a family of my own. If I did ever have a child, you know as well I that it would have been because the Masters would have decided to breed me,” she says, sneering in disgust at the last comment.

Dany slowly nods in agreement and she looks down at her covered stomach a moment before lifting her eyes with a decided look.

“You know this child will be yours as much as it is mine,” she says gently as she grasps Missandei’s hand.

“It may not come from your belly, but you will be there to watch it grow every step of the way and you will be the one to help Jon and me raise it to become a great king or queen,” she tells her friend.

Missandei’s eyes line with silver as she takes in the queen before her, feeling unsure of how she managed to be able to serve such an extraordinary woman but thankful for her lot in life for the first time she was taken from her home land all those years ago. For if she hadn’t been bought by Kraznys Mo Nakloz, she would not be standing beside Daenerys Stormborn and witnessing her change this world for the better.

“Thank you, Your Grace. I am honored,” she whispers, squeezing the queen’s hand.

They lapse into silence again as Missandei grabs a piece of leather to tie her silver locks into a single braid that hangs over her shoulder. She then gets up and adds another piece of wood to the hearth and starts organizing the room, in obvious need to do something. After several minutes, there’s a knock on the door and Missandei opens it to find Tyrion.

When his eyes meet Dany’s, he lets out a relieved sigh and quickly walks to her side as Missandei shuts the door.

“How do you feel, Your Grace?,” he asks as he scrutinizes her.

With the barest twitch of her lips, she says, “I’m fine, Lord Tyrion.”

His keen eyes search her own for the truth before he nods and sits in the chair next to Missandei.

“Well, I expect a full story when you feel up to it,” he says drolly as he pours himself some wine.

She doesn’t even dignify that with a response and just closes her eyes, sighing loudly in exasperation as she reminds herself the man beside her is brilliant and she appointed him as Hand of the Queen for a reason.

Smirking knowingly, he says, “I suppose Jon has told you what’s happened since you’ve been… unavailable.”

She opens her eyes and meets his mismatched gaze as she nods silently.

“It appears we don’t have to worry about an heir after all, Your Grace,” Tyrion says, his wry smirk still in place.

“We’ll see,” she replies quietly as she glances at the crackling flames in the hearth.

Tyrion frowns at her but before he can say anything, she continues.

“I think it would be wise to discuss the options you had mentioned as well. Should,” she pauses to take a deep breath and says, “should this child not live.”

When she meets the imploring stare of her Hand, she keeps her expression neutral.

“Do you not believe what you’ve been told?,” he asks her.

“It’s not that I don’t believe their words because I do. It’s that I’m hesitant to put my faith in something that could go horribly wrong without the necessary precautions and planning,” she replies stoically. While she still feels hopeful that this child just might live, she knows it would be foolish to put the future of the realm in her ability to produce an heir.

His eyes narrow at her as he thinks over her response. After a long moment, he gives a single nod.

“Have you heard anything from Varys?,” she asks him, quickly changing the topic.

Shaking his head, he says, “not yet. A raven has been sent to him stressing the necessity of forming an alliance with them.”

She nods slowly as she bites the inside of her lip in thought.

“They will want their ancestral lands back. Nothing less,” she sighs.

“You know… Bronn was promised a castle and a lordship for his service and loyalty,” Tyrion says.

She narrows her eyes at him and slowly looks him over before asking, “And you think I should give him one?”

“I think it would be a nice repayment,” he says as he swirls his wine around before taking a sip. She waits until his eyes lift up and meet hers before replying.

“I cannot hand out castles to every sellsword who desires it,” she tells him.

“Ah, but not every sellsword has already had a deal made regarding such issues,” Tyrion quips.

She observes him silently for a long time before she says anything else.

“Do you truly think he’d be capable of running his own keep? That he would make a good lord?,” she asks him with an intense stare.

“He’s malleable. You can mold him into the lord you desire without him realizing it until it’s too late. And by that time, he’ll hardly care. Though he does enjoy talking, he’s loyal. He stayed by my side until such time I was forced to leave and he’s been by Jaime’s since. Although he was paid handsomely throughout our time. He’s cunning-,” he lists when she interrupts him.

“You mean he has the conscience of a sellsword. Which is none at all,” she says pointedly.

“Or you could look at it as him not being concerned of what others think of him and he won’t be easily swayed to join the opinion of such,” Tyrion replies with a shrug.

“Not even if the right amount of gold were offered?,” she asks with an arched brow.
Tyrion hums before shaking his head.

“If you gave him his castle and lordship, he would remain loyal to you till the end of his days. Of that, I’m quite certain,” he replies.
When she doesn’t say anything, he lifts an eyebrow and asks, “Aren’t you going to offer the Golden Company their due if they join your side?”

She purses her lips and studies him a moment before letting out a sigh. She’s never fully trusted the sellsword, but she knows she can’t let her personal feelings cloud her judgment. As Tyrion said, the man has stayed steadfastly to him and his brother. But she needs something more.

“I will consider it. If he shows his loyalty to me,” she tells him with a small tilt of her head.
He holds back his smile at the knowledge that whenever she tells him she will consider his suggestion, she has always ended up agreeing with and simply nods.

“Now, should they refuse we will meet them-,” she starts but is cut off by the blond man.

“Oh no, Your Grace. Jon has already made his feelings on that very clear,” Tyrion tells her in a laid back tone.

“And what would that be?,” she asks.

“He’s going to do whatever is necessary to convince the Golden Company to come to your side,” her Hand says.

“That was already planned,” she says dismissively.

“True,” he nods. “But what wasn’t is that should they not, you will not take Drogon and meet them on the battlefield.”

She stares at him with a stunned expression before she glances at Missandei who silently nods in confirmation. She suddenly feels indignation course through her and she snaps back to Tyrion.

“I will do no such thing,” she says in a dangerous voice.

“You will,” he replies sternly.

Her eyes flare at him and she stares at him fiercely, silently telling him to submit. When he simply stares back at her unaffected, she feels her temper rise.

“Your forget your place, lord Hand,” she hisses.

“And you forget your condition, Your Grace,” he replies evenly before taking a drink of his wine, maintaining eye contact with her over the brim.

“I refuse to sit idly by and watch others fight for what’s mine,” she says fiercely.

“None of us expect you to,” he tells her in a calm voice.

“But,” he says after a moment, “it’s time to step back and allow your soldiers to be on the front lines. You’ve proved you’d die for them. If you can’t win the realm with deeds like this,” he gestures to her prone form, “then you won’t win at all.”

“Your Grace,” Missandei says quietly, drawing Dany’s attention back towards her, “Do you really want to put your child at risk?”
Her amber eyes beseech Dany to see this from their point of view, that they can’t take the chance of losing their queen in this war.

“You know the answer, Your Grace. You don’t need to think on it,” Tyrion tells her with a reprimanding look.

She crisscrosses her jaw in stubbornness before letting out a slow breath through her nose.

“Fine,” she says petulantly, falling back against her pillows. She really doesn’t like the idea of not leading her armies, she’s been doing so since she began her journey across Essos and it makes her uncomfortable to think otherwise. But she knows that they’re right and she has to remind herself of the life inside her once again.

Tyrion leans over and pats her hand sympathetically. ”Thank you. Now I won’t have to worry about looking like the ancient Pycelle before my time,” he tells her.

She gives him a curious look in response to his comment and he rolls his eyes.

“If I have to watch you go off one more time, against my advice mind you, I swear the next time you see me, I’ll be an old man. That is how many years you take off of my life, Your Grace. I won’t even need women to entertain me because I’ll have my own tits to play with,” he says. He looks down at his flat chest as he runs a hand down it, as if trying to comfort himself with the fact that it’s only his imagination.

She scoffs and looks at him in amusement.

“Well, since it seems the effects of my actions are actually about you, then I suppose I have no choice but to relent,” she says dryly.

“Quite,” he replies with a mischievous spark in his eye as he grins at her.

“Besides, your soon to be husband would not have allowed it in any case,” he says with a dismissive wave of his hand.

“Yes,” she drawls, her eyes narrowing at her Hand. “I’m surprised you didn’t at least wait for me to wake up before allowing him to make such important decisions.”

Missandei’s dark eyes slide towards her and she gives her a knowing look.

“Did you truly expect him to wait to ask you for your hand, Your Grace?,” she asks slyly.

She tries to keep a straight face, but ends up having to purse her lips to hold back the grin threatening to break through.

Sniffing, she replies, “Of course not. He is a dragon. And a dragon does not ask. They take.”

Locking eyes with her dear friend, she lets her lips form the smile they’ve been so desperate to release as pride sweeps through her. The woman returns her smile with a rueful one of her own.

Tyrion chuckles and shakes his head.
—————

Once Jon tells the guard to send Sam to his solar, he slowly starts to make his way down the hall where he runs into Davos, who quickly falls in step with him.

“How did the queen take it?,” Davos asks curiously as they walk.

Heaving a sigh, Jon gives the man a tired smile before saying, “It was... difficult for her to accept at first.”

Davos nods thoughtfully and says, “Though I’m sure she was thrilled.”

Jon swallows the response that wants to claw its way out of his mouth. Dany was most certainly not thrilled in the beginning. What she had told him of her dead son was something he’s sure has never actually passed through her lips and told to anyone. The description of the babe had sent chills down his spine and caused bile to rise in his throat. Though it wasn’t because he was disgusted in Dany’s actions. It was because he was disgusted the witch would use such magic.

He wants to believe that maybe the witch had lied to Dany about the state of the babe to simply scare her, but his mind keeps going over her words. What they told me he looked like. He wonders who else could have seen the child. If what he’s learned of the Dothraki people from his time around them is correct, then they’re an extremely suspicious people. They hate witches and anything related to magic. So, he’s quite sure that none would have ventured near the witch. As he continues his musing, his mind snags on the only possibility he can think of. And that is Ser Jorah Mormont.

He’s tempted to ask the older knight about their time with the Dothraki, but isn’t sure if it’s truly his place. It’s not that he wants to actually know just to know, he just doesn’t want her to worry herself sick about this child potentially being born as some monster.
He’s lost in his thoughts as they make their way into the solar and sit down. He doesn’t even realize Davos is still there until he says,

“Seems like something’s on your mind.”
Jon’s eyes snap towards the man in surprise and he slowly nods as he lets out a long sigh.

“People your age shouldn’t have reason to sigh like that,” Davos says lightly.

Jon just gives him a look and he chuckles before asking, “what’s got you so wound tight?”

“Besides this next war we have to face with Cersei?,” Jon asks wryly.

“That’ll be nothing with what you all just went through. Once you get the Golden Company on your side,” Davos replies unconcerned.

He stares at the old smuggler thoughtfully as he tries to decide if he should voice his concerns about what Dany told him. He knows the man won’t tell a soul if he does, even under pain of death.

“It’s just something the queen told me,” he says quietly as he looks at the fire, adjusting in his seat to get comfortable.

“As you know, she was supposed to be unable to have children,” he says to Davos as his eyes remain locked on the dancing the flames.

“Aye,” Davos replies, nodding slowly.

“She told me in the dragon pit that a witch cursed her to never be able to bear a living child,” he continues as he looks back up at Davos.

The man’s brow raises high at that and he asks, “I’m assuming you don’t believe that.”

Shrugging, he says, “I don’t. But… I’m not sure what she’ll do if that comes to pass. What she told me the blood magic ritual did to her unborn son was… unpleasant to put it lightly.
Now it’s Davos’s turn to sigh as he sees what has Jon so quiet.

“You know we’ll do whatever we can to protect them both. We’ll keep that babe alive,” Davos says fervently.

“We?,” Jon asks, arching a brow.

“Don’t forget I asked if you’d forgive if I switched sides. And that was before I even knew her,” the man points out.

Jon’s lip twitch into a small smile as he asks, “and now?”

“Oh, now I’m hopelessly enchanted. So it’s a good thing you’re going to marry her because if not, I would’ve had to leave ya, lad,” Davos tells him with a cheeky grin.

Jon chuckles as he shakes his head, knowing Davos is being completely honest.

“I’m sure you would have,” he replies ruefully just as the door opens.

“Jon,” Sam exclaims in surprise, setting down the parchments and books in his arms as he enters the room.

“What’s wrong? Is it the queen?,” his friend asks nervously, his light eyes glancing to the door.

“No. I mean, yes but she’s not in need of anything right now,” Jon says, stumbling a bit over his words in his effort to calm Sam.

Sam’s brows pinch together as he waits for Jon to explain.

“I need to tell you something about the queen,” Jon says quietly.

“What about her?,” Sam asks curiously as he glances at Davos.

“She’s… she’s… she’s with child,” he says in a quiet voice, feeling his cheeks pink although he’s not quite sure why. Perhaps it’s because while he told his and Dany’s advisors, it was due to him wanting them all to know where he stood in his need to make her his lady wife. With Sam, he’s telling him as a friend.

Sam’s eyes go wide and he blinks owlishly at Jon for a long moment before he seems to find his voice.

“And… the babe… is… yours?,” Sam asks hesitantly as he watches Jon with a wary expression.

Jon stares open mouthed at the man before he finally splutters, “Of course it’s mine!”

Sam just nods and continues to stare at him with wide eyes.

“Why would you think differently?,” he asks, unable to keep the growl out of his voice. The anger he hears seems to snap the other man out of his shock and he grimaces in apology. Davos simply presses his lips together to keep from smiling at Jon’s open jealousy and protectiveness of the Queen.

“Well… I just wanted to make sure is all. You didn’t seem… excited,” Sam says in defense as he raises his hands up.

Sighing, Jon rubs his eyes and slumps in his chair before looking back at Sam.

“Of course I’m happy, Sam. It’s just… not the best timing,” he tells him in a tired voice.
The larger man nods in understanding before giving a small smile.

“So, you’re going to marry her?,” he asks.

“Aye. As soon as we can,” Jon replies solemnly to which Sam shakes his head as he continues to look at Jon kindly.

“You get to marry and be a father,” he states as his smiles grows. “Strange isn’t it? Since it was something we had to swear off when we first met.”

Jon nods in agreement as he thinks back to when he and Sam had knelt in front of the heart tree as they said their vows.

“Another life,” Jon murmurs.

“Well, for you… that’s quite a literal fact,” Davos replies wryly.

He can’t help but bark a laugh in amusement and nod again at the smuggler. But it falls and he turns to meet his friend’s light eyes.

“I’m… scared,” he says quietly, his face crumpling as he looks between the two men.
Sam gives him a sympathetic look and while Davos nods.

“I would be worried if you weren’t, Jon. But you’ve nothing to fear,” Davos says gently.

“You don’t know that,” he replies as he shakes his head.

Sighing, Sam sits back and observes Jon for a moment before saying, “Jon, if you’re worried about the babe, you have to take into account that the fact that it’s survived despite the queen’s injuries is truly amazing. As long as she’s careful, she shouldn’t have much issue.”

Jon bites the inside of his cheek and simply nods.

“If you’re worried about being a father… then you’re a delusional fool,” Sam says lightly with a smile.

“I have to agree. And I’m going to tell you what your sister always reminds poor Gendry. Don’t be stupid,” Davos adds with a mischievous smirk.

“Well, that seems to be a common judgement about me, so I’m not that surprised,” Jon tells him with a small shrug, causing the other two men to snort.

“It’s a real shame Maester Aemon isn’t here to see his family’s restoration,” Sam says after a moment with a sad smile.

Jon returns the smile and nods in agreement.

“I never knew the man, but I’m sure he’d be proud,” Davos remarks kindly.

“I’m sure he’d laugh if he had found out that his work with Prince Rhaegar was actually true in regards to the prophecy of the prince who was promised,” Sam muses.

Jon tilts his head in curiosity and it’s then that Sam realizes he never told Jon the details of what he and the queen had discussed that day in the library.

“He told me how he realized it was Queen Daenerys who was the prince that was promised. He and Prince Rhaegar had always assumed it was a boy. But right before he passed, he told me he believed it was the queen. That she was the one born amidst salt and smoke and how her dragons proved it,” Sam explains.

Jon stares at him a moment before letting out a small “huh”, not really knowing what else to say.

“So, what now?,” Sam asks him with a small tilt of his head.

“Now, we wait and we heal,” Jon replies as he rubs his eyes tiredly before looking up to lock eyes with Sam. “Then we march south.”
———————————-

Four days later she’s told that the remaining soldiers will be arriving today, and she demands to go out and greet them. Missandei is helping her up when Jon walks in.

"Dany," Jon begins but his words die in his throat when he sees the purple fire in her eyes.

"Don't you dare try and stop me, Jon," she says through gritted teeth. He looks to Missandei but she simply raises an eyebrow at him. Obviously, he's on his own with this situation. 

His jaw clenches at her stubbornness and he takes a breath through his nose before he looks back at Dany, knowing he’ll now have to prove he can be the king she needs.

"You will only greet them," he says, his tone matching the steel his eyes have become.

Her own eyes harden to uncut gems as her chin lifts in defiance.

"I will-," she begins but he cuts her off.

"No, you won't, Daenerys," he says forcefully through his teeth, once again using her full name.

The raging fire she sees in his eyes gives her pause for a moment as she blinks in surprise. He takes the opportunity of her silence to finish.

"You will not risk pushing yourself only to have your wounds tear or somehow cause your healing to delay even more because you were too impatient to heal properly. Nor will you risk causing too much stress to your body and the babe," he tells her.

The fierceness of his voice seems to have the desired effect as she purses her lips. She knows he’s right on all counts, but she still doesn’t approve of being spoken to as such. Just because she’s shown her gentler side does not in any way mean her advisors should become used to ordering her around as those she were a hapless girl.

"You would do well to remember your place, Lord Jon," she says in a low voice. Usually, men would cower at such a tone but he just raises his eyebrow before he sighs.

"We've been over this already, my queen," he says wearily.

"You are to be the king consort," she stresses, knowing the conversation he's referring to and knowing that her statement is not entirely true. He’ll be a king as much as she is queen. 

"Still has king in it," he replies with a shrug, completely unbothered by the difference and calling her bluff.

She glances at Missandei and notices the way her golden eyes are unable to hold in her amusement at seeing her friend being told what to do.

"Think of the babe, Your Grace," Missandei tells her softly.

Realizing she’s outnumbered, she tries to fight the smile breaking through, but she's unsuccessful and shakes her head in amusement at her king.

"Alright," she says in acquiescence.

He smiles smugly at her and comes to take her other hand to help her up.

Once standing, he gives her his arm and lets her lean on him as they make their way out with Missandei a step behind Dany. Sansa, Arya, Tyrion, and Davos meet them at the entrance hall.

When they get outside, everyone in the courtyard stops to look at the queen and young lord. Then suddenly, one by one they bow towards them.

Tyrion gives Sansa and Davos a satisfied smile at the respect his queen has finally achieved from the people of the North.

Daenerys blinks rapidly as Jon tightens his arm around the hand on it. She looks to him and the pride she sees in them makes her smile brightly at him as she turns her smile to the others. She nods to the ones she passes as they walk to the gates where she sees her children flying towards her at great speeds. They begin releasing shrill cries at the sight of their mother and she has to bite her lip to keep her composure at finally being able to go to them.

Jon moves her right to them as they land with monstrous thuds before the group. They chirp and shriek in ways she hasn't heard since they were young and she can't hold back the watery laugh as she pulls her arm from Jon to reach out to her beautiful children.

They lower their heads and she puts one hand on each for a time before she lets go of Rhaegal to cup Drogon's massive head as best she can while she looks into his magma eyes.

"You were so strong and quick, my brave child. Thank you for saving me. Saving us," she says in Common Tongue as his pupils enlarge and he trills softy. She kisses his snout and lets go to turn to Rhaegal.

When the green dragon sees he has his mother's full attention, he gives a sharp chirp and pushes his snout straight into her hands. She laughs at her nicer child and rubs her hands fondly along the green scales of his jaw.

"And you," she says meeting those lovely bronze eyes, "you were so good to watch out for your brother while protecting Jon. I wouldn't expect anything less." Rhaegal also gives a trill as she drops a kiss on his snout just as she did Drogon. She steps back so she can put one hand on Drogon again and looks between them as a sadness creeps into her.

She takes a breath and raises her eyes skyward for a moment in an unsuccessful attempt to keep the tears from falling as she looks back at them. She thought she had finished shedding her tears for her sweet golden child, but faced with her two remaining children, the pain opens anew. Because on top of her own heartache, she feels their anguish fall upon her like a second skin and it’s simply too much to ignore.

"You... you did so well with helping Viserion go to the night lands. I know it wasn't easy, but I also know he... he was very grateful,” she says, looking between eyes of red and bronze. She realizes that even though she just said that Viserion is gone, her eyes had almost kept going to find his gold ones. She swallows the lump in her throat and gives her full attention back to Drogon and
Rhaegal.

“Because we are not slaves. And he proved that. He could... he could never have truly hurt us. You know he wouldn't have wanted to continue on like... like that," she says brokenly, uncaring of the eyes watching her.

Both of the dragons release high pitched whines and she’s unable to hold back the tears that now fall fast down her cheeks as she nods. "I know, sweetlings, I know. I'm sorry. I miss him just as much,” she says, turning to meet the sad eyes of her green dragon.

“But, I know you loved him the most, my darling. And I am so sorry. I wish… I wish I had been a better mother and kept all of you safe. I wish he had never been taken from you,” she chokes out. She’s never really apologized to Rhaegal and she feels the need to let her quiet child know she will always hate herself for her actions that took his dearest brother away from him. She briefly thinks how two of her children that she named after her brothers followed their namesakes to the grave.

Regardless of the fact that he is an animal, she can see the despair in his large eyes and the sight causes her breath to get stuck in her throat. Rhaegal starts to keen again and leans into her hand so much that she ends up letting go of Drogon to wrap her arms around his thick snout. The heat of his being that burns beneath his scales causes her tears to hiss and turn into steam when they make contact but she doesn’t let go as she silently cries for her children’s pain. Drogon stretches his own snout to press lightly against her shoulder and makes a low groan in his throat.

A single sob escapes through her lips at the reality of knowing without a doubt that she will never again see Viserion’s white and gold form arch through the sky. She’ll never again marvel at the way his wings would give off a beautiful effect as he passed directly under the sun or watch his beautiful flame shoot through the air. Never again will she tsk over Drogon pushing him around a bit more than necessary as they ate and hunted.

No, all she’s left with now are cold bones and memories. Memories of being alone amongst a strange people with no company except three petrified dragon eggs. Memories of clutching her eggs to her and knowing she could feel the warmth of them and the movements beneath the hard shells. Memories of a beautiful white dragon growing up to be so strong and powerful. Memories of locking two of her children away in the dark, causing them to break their trust in her until she earned it back. Memories of sad blue eyes meeting her own before they stared lifelessly at nothing.

The thoughts make her hug Rhaegal tighter until her side begins to burn in protest. Of course she had always known that he was gone, but she had yet to fully accept the force of the feelings behind the knowledge while facing her two remaining children. Until this point, she had managed to push the overwhelming and crippling grief aside and focus on the army of the dead. She had cried the night they were told of his resurrection, but that had been a different kind of mourning, one that was mixed with fear and horror.

Her two children have had to mourn him without her while she’s been healing and something inside of her needs this moment with her dragons to finally begin to allow herself to let go of Viserion, no matter how much she wants to cling to him.

When the pain in her ribs becomes too much, she slowly releases him and wipes her eyes as she collects herself. Both pull back slightly and stare at her with unblinking eyes when she puts her hands back on their muzzles.

“But we will bring him home with us so that he may rest with the great dragons of old, alright? We’ll lay him next to Balerion, Meraxes, and Vhagar for all the world to see and remember him. We... we won't have to leave him alone in the cold ever again. I promise," she says brokenly. Her hands travel up their snouts in an effort to sooth them as they continue to whine. She wishes they were little again, just this once, so that she could hold them close to her as she consoled them, but that can't happen. Instead, she has to she shush them with soft, calming words while her hands continue their paths along the hot scales of their faces.

Jon's throat tightens as he listens to his beloved's anguished words. Once again, he remembers her screams when Viserion fell and he pictures the way she had tried so desperately to reach for her lost dragon so he wouldn't be alone in his last moments.

He turns to the others and sees that Sansa and Missandei have tears in their eyes. Arya bites her lip but the skin around her eyes is scrunched with sadness as she watches the silver queen. Davos looks on with a sad, understanding expression, knowing how it feels to lose your child. Tyrion simply looks grim as he observes his queen.

They’re all apparently just as affected by the heart clenching scene before them as he is. He knows that none of the people here except Arya saw those last moments between her and her child before it fell for the final time. The picture she made as she draped herself over the dead dragon’s face among the ruins and corpses of the battlefield as the smoke and fire rose into the sky while the other two dragons watched with their heads low. If he were an artist, he would have painted it to show the world the loss this magnificent women had to bear in order to save them all.

It almost angers him to think that many didn't have to ever experience such a threat and will probably carry on believing it was complete nonsense, while so many of the people who fought had to suffer. But he shoves the selfish feeling aside and focuses on Dany again.

“We will make sure the songs of him are just as sweet as he was, won't we? I won’t allow anything else. I'll even let you eat whoever tries to tell it different,” she says with a sad smile. It quickly falls though and her expression turns serious.

“But now, you two must guard each other always. You’re all that’s left in the world and you will remain here long after I am gone. Promise to never go against each other, no matter what your riders say,” she tells them as she looks between them. It’s a silly thing to ask, almost impossible, but she can’t bear the thought of her children one hundred years from now, fighting to the death against each other. She did not bring them into this world for such actions to occur and she hates that she won’t always be able to protect them.

“Promise me," she says almost desperately looming between the two. At the request, they release their hot breaths causing her cloak to fly up and her hair to dance around her. The snow swirls in the air and it quickly turns to water, but she doesn't mind the spray of it against her. She gives them a soft smile as the hot air dries her tears and lets her hands drop to her sides. They take to the air again as she turns around.

Her eyes immediately go to Jon, who’s looking at her with such tenderness in his eyes that she wishes it was only them. As she walks up to him, he opens his arms slightly in invitation. She accepts without hesitation nd presses herself against him, burying her face in his chest. He sets his chin on her head as his arms rest loosely around her waist.

She stands there for a moment then takes a calming breath and looks back up at him.

He gives her a small smile as his eyes silently tell her everything he feels. She smiles in return and nods her head. He drops a light kiss on her forehead before stepping back and offering his arm, which she gladly takes.

They make their way back to the others and she's surprised to see that some have shiny eyes as they look at her. She gives them a sad but encouraging smile as she takes in these people who have come to mean so much to her.

The horns begin to blow signaling the approaching armies and the others let her and Jon pass to stand in front.

As the soldiers make their way closer, she can see the amount of wounded.

So many dead, she thinks as her eyes scan over the noticeably smaller force. Though, it's still large in its own right, she worries it won’t be enough to win against Cersei.

She watches as Maester Wolkan, Sam, and Gilly lead the group of healers and silent sisters to the head of the caravan and begin telling them where to take the wounded and dead.

Lady Sansa quickly strides past, Arya right on her heels along with two Northern guards, and begins telling the commanders of the shops and other available spaces in the winter town that have been prepared for their less severely wounded, motioning to the townspeople that are waiting for orders. Arya weaves in and out of the men until she finds the one she had been searching for and throws her arms around Gendry.

Daenerys desperately wants to follow Arya’s lead and check on her soldiers, but Jon seems to sense her thoughts and sets his arm lightly around her waist while Missandei and Tyrion come up to stand on her other side, effectively blocking her in.

She looks to Jon and finds he's already watching her.

"You'll be able to see them all, but not right now," he whispers.

Her face falls slightly as she continues to stare at him but she sees the worry and sympathy in them as well as a determination that she won't be able to win against him this time.

"He's right, Your Grace. If you over extend yourself now, it means you will have to recover even longer," Tyrion says as his eyes scan the crowd for a familiar face. But they snap to hers as he says, "You must think of the future consequences of such actions."

His meaning causes her to glance down at her stomach. She’s not used to having to constantly remind herself that she is in fact with child and that she must be careful. During her time with the Dothraki, they had always expected her to continue on and had never treated her so delicately. She’s not sure she likes this treatment, but decides to hold her tongue until she’s well again. If they continue, then she will put a stop to such nonsense and remind them of her strength.

Her eyes find Jon's again and she nods, silently telling him she will only stand here and allow her men to come to her. He stares at her a moment longer before dropping his arm and taking a step away from her, Tyrion and Missandei doing the same.

As her eyes roam over the leading group, she sees Jorah break off and head straight to her. His steps are tentative and he winces every so often, along with a shoulder that she can see hints of red though. But she can't find anything to indicate what other injuries he may have sustained with his clothes and armor. 

She takes a single step towards the haggard looking man and reaches out to touch him, needing the reassurance that her bear is truly before her. He gives a stiff bow before he steps up to her, allowing her to rest her hand on his arm.

"I am so glad you did not leave us, Your Grace," he says quietly as hep takes in the dark circles under her eyes and her pale cheeks.

As she looks up at her old knight, she gives him a small smile.

"Thank you for everything, Ser Jorah," she tells him.

"I serve my queen," he says with a tired smile. He then looks to Jon and tries to bow but Jon scoffs and shakes his head.

"No need for that," Jon says, a bit uncomfortable with the formality.

"Thank you for bringing her back," Jorah tells him.

Knowing how the older knight loves Dany, Jon's sure it was hard to not get her help himself. "None needed," he says quietly.

Jorah gives him a nod before turning to Tyrion.

"Well, you live again," Tyrion says with an impish grin before looking at his shoulder.

"Shall I show you where to go get that fixed up?," he asks.

Jorah shakes his head and gives a final bow before turning towards one of the tents for the injured.

As they continue to watch, Tyrion suddenly catches sight of a blonde head and hurriedly walks to his brother, Missandei taking a step forward to take his place on her right as her eyes look over the crowd. When the elder Lannister sees the small man, he rushes forward and kneels, embracing Tyrion firmly.

She sees the tall Lady Brienne approach Lady Sansa and stand behind the redhead until she’s shooed away.

Lords approach her and exchange a few words before they excuse themselves to tend to their men or go find somewhere to rest. Grey Worm finally makes his way to them and after she watches as he exchanges a soft look with Missandei.

After several more minutes of watching, she begins to feel her energy slowly drain out of her.

“Your Grace?,” Missandei asks her quietly, her golden eyes looking over her worriedly.

“I’ll be fine,” she says stubbornly as she straightens her shoulders and continues to watch those gathered.

Jon’s eyes snap to her and she knows without looking at him that he disapproves of her brave front. She finally turns to face him and sees that she was right. His lips are thinned and his eyes are hard.

“Your Grace,” he says in a low voice, not wanting to order her to retire in front of so many people.

Sighing, she turns to Missandei but the woman gives a small shake of her head and Dany finds herself outnumbered once again.

“I need to speak to Davos about some issues and then I will return as well. Will you help the queen?,” Jon asks Missandei over her head.

She opens her mouth to retort, but he gives her another steely look that says he won’t hear of it and she clenches her jaw.

Missandei quickly escorts her back to the chambers, not listening to her weak protests as she all but shoves her back inside. Once she's helped out of her cloak and dress, remaining in just her loose wool shift, Dany sits down on the bed and leans back against the pillows. She lets out a contented sigh as her eyes close, realizing just how tired she is.

"Do you need anything, Your Grace?," Missandei asks her kindly.

Without opening her eyes, she says, "Go to Grey Worm, Missandei. I know how much you've missed him. I'm just going to rest for awhile."

With that, she snuggles deeper into the furs, hearing the quiet footsteps and the closing of the door before she lets sleep take her.

She wakes up, feeling her heart beating fast in her chest. She knows her dream was more of a nightmare, but she can’t remember what it was about. As she feels her surroundings coming through the haze of sleep, she registers a hand running through her hair and her forehead pressed against what she imagines is a thigh. The hand stills when she shifts and moves to rest on her neck.

"I'm tired of not being able to lay on my other side," she says without opening her eyes.

He snorts in amusement and replies, "One of the prices soldiers have to pay when fighting in a war. That's what you get for being a hero."

She smiles and opens her eyes to find him already looking down at her, his grey eyes dancing in mirth.

“A hero am I?,” she asks as she stretches carefully.

“Aye,” he says as he watches her movements.

“I thought I was the dragonspawn bitch,” she teases ruefully.

His brow furrows as he frowns at her, not liking the reminder of hearing such things be said about her. But he tampers the anger rising inside of him and lays his arm behind her head as he looks at her.

“Well, I know none will call you that now,” he tells her seriously.

She simply hums. She had been called worse things during her time in Essos. And she could truly care less what people call her. That would not stop her from ruling and bringing about the changes she plans to implement.

“You’re the true hero. You’re the one who killed him,” she murmurs as she lays her head on his shoulder.

He shrugs at that and presses his lips against her hair. “It was nothing,” he says.

She snorts at that. Only her wolf would say such a thing and be completely truthful in his modesty about it. She feels him smile and his fingers come up to her chin to tilt her head back.

“Are you laughing at me, my queen? I’m hurt,” he whispers as his eyes stare into her own.

She can’t help but be dumbfounded at the image he makes before her. The way his eyes shine at her and the way he looks so young and carefree. She’ll never tire of tracing the map of his face. After a moment, she’s able to respond and clicks her tongue.

“What a sensitive man you are underneath that fierce warrior. Is that Northern hardness all an act?,” she asks as she raises an eyebrow in speculation.

Now it’s his turn to snort as he leans his forehead against hers.

”But back to heroes. They’ll sing songs about you, you know. For all of time,” she tells him.

“They’ll do the same for you,” he says as he lets her silver tresses run through his fingers.

“As long as the songs are something other than my staggering beauty, I’m quite fine with it,” she replies with a scoff as she pulls back to look at him.

“That sounds so terrible. Don’t you enjoy hearing about how you’re the most beautiful woman in the world?,” he asks with a smirk.

She exhales sharply through her nose and narrows her eyes at him.

“It’s tedious and unimaginative. You’ll find out soon enough,” she retorts.

“I’m sure,” he says dryly, looking like he’d rather fight another battle than listen to songs about him.

“They’ll also give you many more names and titles,” she she says impishly.

He chuckles and shakes his head. “I don’t need them,” he replies.

“Too bad. You’re getting them,” she teases.

“You’ll be Aegon VI of Houses Stark and Targaryen. Or Jon,” she muses before shaking her head. “We’ll deal with that later. You’ll be King of the Seven Kingdoms. Protector of the Realm. The White Wolf. The Resurrected. Lord of Winterfell. King in the North-“

“The North is back in the fold of the Seven. And Sansa is now the Wardeness of the North and Lady of Winterfell. I’m not king of it,” he interrupts with an amused look.

Waving her hand in dismissal, she says, “And I’m no longer in the Dothraki Sea yet I am still Khaleesi. Besides you were lord before she was it’s lady. And all kings and queens have the title of lord or lady.”

He hums in understanding when she suddenly points her finger at him, causing him to blink and glance between the outstretched appendage and her face.

“Don’t interrupt. It’s rude from someone of your standing,” she admonishes though he can see the twinkle in her violet eyes.

“I’m sorry, my queen,” he replies with mock contrition.

Sniffing she says, “Where was I… ah, yes. The Prince that was Promised. Sword of the Dawn. Savior of Man-“

“Sword of the Dawn sounds too similar to the late Ser Arthur Dayne,” Jon interrupts as he indulges her creation of fanciful titles that he couldn’t truly give two shits about. Nevertheless, he can’t tell her such things and simply enjoys the opportunity in watching her act so jovially.

“Fine,” she concedes, “not that. Defender of the Dawn, then. Hmm…. what else.” She taps her chin in thought.

“Tamer of the Dragon Queen,” she says with a rueful smirk as she looks at him from the corner of her eye.

He barks out a laugh and smiles at her in a way that lights up his whole face and turns his eyes to the color of moonlight.

“Tamer of the Dragon Queen? You want that as my formal title?,” he asks, still laughing.

“I’m just trying to make your titles and names are as long as mine. So I’m not alone, you see,” she reasons, as if that should make perfect sense.

“Ah,” he says with playful roll of his eyes. “Well, in that case, you forgot 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, the Black Bastard of the Wall, and the Bastard of Winterfell.”

She wrinkles her nose at the second title and asks, “Were you truly known as that?”

His smile fades and he nods solemnly.

Scoffing, she mutters, “Ridiculous.”

When she sees the light slowly leaving his eyes, she murmurs, “I was always called the Mad King’s Daughter by people. And as I just said, you’ve heard many refer to me as the dragonspawn.”

He gives her a sad smile at her solidarity, but she doesn’t want that. In an effort to get past such reminders, she says, “Well, you will not have such names in your formal title. What else were you known by?”

“Lord Snow,” he says thoughtfully.

She snorts and shakes her head saying, “Aegon VI. Jon Snow. Bastard of Winterfell. 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Lord Snow.”

“King Crow or Lord Crow,” he adds, the corners of his mouth twitching up again. She raises her brow and smiles back at him, glad that his dour mood was only temporary.

“That’s an interesting one,” she observes.

“That’s what the Free Folk would call me. You’ll most likely get another title or two added on as well then,” he muses.

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” she replies with a nod.

“It will take ages to introduce you now,” he says with a teasing smile.

“To be fair, there are several names I do not put in my title and am simply known by. So, you’re welcome for that,” she replies haughtily.

His eyes widen and he lets out a disbelieving laugh.

“And what are those?,” he asks curiously.

Ticking the names off of her fingers she says, “ I’m known as Mhysa, Daughter of dragons, Bride of fire, Bride of dragons, Slayer of lies, Daughter of death, The Dragon Queen, The Silver Queen, The Queen Across the Sea, and the Lady of Dragonstone.”

He gapes at her a moment before covering his eyes.

“By the Gods, I’ve never met someone with so many names,” he groans.

“Then you should feel extremely honored and humbled to not only have met me, but to know me personally. Obviously, your life was incredibly boring before I came into it if you only knew people with less than three titles,” she says in a prim voice, knowing his life was anything but.

He laughs again and removes his hand from his face, his eyes dancing as he takes in her conceited look.

“Boring, was it?,” he asks with a smirk.

“And cold,” she adds flippantly.

“Aye. You’re right about that, at least,” he comments.

“I’m always right,” she tells him, lifting her chin.

He gives her a look that says he doesn’t quite believe that and she purses her lips.

“I am almost always right,” she grudgingly concedes, though she doesn’t drop the arrogant tone of her voice.

He presses his lips together as he shakes his head at her, idly wondering if he’s ever laughed as much as he has in this one conversation with his beloved queen.

“You’re in a delightful mood, aren’t you? If you’re admitting such things,” he states.

She reaches her hand up to brush her fingers across his cheek up into his hair, turning carefully so that she’s able to face him better.

“Of course I am,” she replies as she plays with the loose curls at the nape of his neck. When she drags her nails back down through his beard, he inhales sharply and pulls back slightly.

“Dany,” he warns her quietly as his eyes take in the way she bites her lip in an attempt to keep herself from grinning widely at him.

“Yes, Jon?,” she asks innocently as she continues to trace his jaw.

“What are you doing?,” he asks her warily.

“I’m touching you,” she replies as her fingers run down his neck, causing his skin to break out in goose flesh.

“Why?,” he asks, his voice now a husky whisper.

“I like touching you,” she tells him. When her eyes meet his again, she sees the internal struggle he’s currently going through and she can’t help but give him a sweet smile.

“You know we can’t,” he says, his eyes roaming over her face.

“Well, I think my mouth works just fine,” she tells him with a smirk. She brings her hand up to his mouth and brushes her thumb across his bottom lip. Oh, how she loves those lips of his. Feeling the softness of it causes her face to heat and she lifts her eyes to meet his darkening grey ones. He sighs through his nose and his eyes search hers.

“Please,” she whispers, showing how much she wants him to kiss her.

His hand comes up and cups her cheek he continues to watch her as he leans in and gives her a chaste kiss. But before she can open his mouth with her tongue, he pulls away.

“I don’t think it wise to-,” he starts to say but his words trail off as he gapes at the tears that begin to fill her eyes.

She has no idea why she’s so hurt, maybe she’s still tired, but it feels like a rejection. She looks to the side before she starts sobbing like a fool and pushes herself away from him.

But she barely makes it an inch when he grabs her chin and his mouth is on hers, his tongue demanding entrance to her mouth. She parts her lips and a small hiccup escapes as her fingers greedily trace the lines of his face. He’s not gentle in his assault at all and she’s incredibly grateful. His tongue clashes and writhes against hers in a way that makes her feel lightheaded and dizzy with want. His lips are bruising in their intensity but she meets them with vigor, biting them before sucking on the bottom one a bit.

After several minutes, the movement of his lips slow down against her own and he shifts closer to her so that she gently falls back against the pillows. Just as she wonders if she can stay conscious with so little air, he releases her lips as he trails his own up her face, his teeth and tongue brushing against her skin in a similar manner to that of their first night together all those months ago on the ship. The action makes her whimper and arch her neck to him.

When he reaches her ear, he takes the lobe between his teeth before he pants, “That’s all I can take.”

It takes a moment for her to understand his words, but when she does, she swallows hard and nods, pushing her disappointment down. He kisses her cheek before he moves off of her and settles himself beside her.
When she opens her eyes, she finds him looking at her inquisitively.

“What’s wrong, love?,” he asks quietly as he trails his fingers across her body before he settles them on her stomach. She shrugs and plays with his fingers for a moment then looks back up at him.

“I’m not sure. It just felt like you didn’t want me,” she whispers, feeling slightly embarrassed as he looks at her as if she’s gone mad.

“When do I not want you?,” he asks baffled.

Again, she shrugs and looks down as she continues to play with his fingers. When he turns them over to grab hers, she once more meets his eyes.

“I told you, once you’re healed, I will show you how glad I am that we’re both alive,” he tells her in a low voice that sets her pulse racing.

His eyes roam slowly down her body before coming back to her eyes.

“And I will make sure that we aren’t bothered throughout the day. Because one night won’t be long enough,” he says.

She inhales sharply and bites her lip as she takes in the predatory gleam in his dark eyes.

“When will I be healed enough again?,” she asks hopefully, unable to keep the breathy quality out of her voice.

He smirks and brings her hand to his mouth to kiss the top of her knuckles.

“When your stitches are removed and your bruises aren’t so severe,” he murmurs.

She huffs, unsatisfied with his answer even though she understands the reasoning.

“That is too long,” she tells him crisply.

He smirks at her again and gives her a small one shoulder shrug.

“Like I said, that’s what you get for being a hero,” he tells her ruefully. 

 

Chapter Text

Four days after the soldiers returned has Dany standing in only her leggings in front of the looking glass in her bedroom. She studies the small bump of her belly with a reverent awe. Her bruises have turned into a faded yellow color and her muscles no longer scream in pain when she moves. The stitches were finally removed this morning and she turns to look at the long scar on her side. An odd feeling of pride rushes through her at the fact that she has proof that she fought for Westeros and she lived. It makes her feel like the kind of queen the people of the kingdoms deserve, the kind they would gladly follow.

Lowering her arm, she goes back to staring at her stomach. Her hands travel her abdomen greedily as she becomes lost in thought. She knew that the maester and midwife were right about her condition, but to finally see her child growing inside of her is something completely different. She feels a protectiveness so blinding in its ferocity that she knows she would burn the world down for this child. It’s a different sort of love than she had while carrying her Rhaego, a fiercer and more desperate kind. With Rhaego, she never feared any harm would come to him because Drogo was there to protect them. She had a youthful certainty of what her last son would achieve. He was to be the Stallion Who Mounts the World and she never once doubted it. Her Drogo would take Westeros for her and give her the Iron Throne for their child to rule.

Looking back, she sees how foolish and naïve such dreams were. Perhaps it was for the best that Drogo perished in the desert. If he had led his khalasar to Westeros, it would have been almost impossible to keep the warriors in check. They would have taken the small folk as their slaves and raped them. They would have pillaged and burned their lands while the lords hid behind their stone walls. She would have had no control over them and they would have done as they did amongst the sheep people- pushed her aside and gone to argue their way of life to Drogo. She herself would have never the opportunity to rule as her late husband would not have allowed such a thing.

No, it’s better that she lost Drogo. She realizes how, in her own, twisted way, Miri Maaz Durr gave Dany everything she has now. Without the witch, she never would have birthed her dragons, she wouldn’t have strived to become a just queen, freed the slaves, and ultimately saved Westeros from certain death. She wouldn’t have Jon.

And with Jon, Dany feels like she could do anything, be anything. Or nothing. For the first time in her life, she feels free of the burdens of her name. She knows Jon would love her even if she wasn’t a queen.

You're a Targaryen… You’re a dragon, be a dragon…You’re a conqueror.

Jon is her breath of fresh air and she plans to make sure he knows just how much she loves him until she leaves this world.

Focusing on the bump again, she knows this babe will have the childhood she and Jon didn’t. One filled with laughter and love. That is, should it be born…

Pushing those thoughts away before they became too despondent for her, Dany put on her dress and called for Missandei to help lace the back up.

Once she was dressed and her hair was braided, she called for Ser Jorah.

She didn’t have to wait long until there was a knock on the door. Opening it, she found her old bear looking at her in curiosity.

“Is everything alright, Your Grace?,” he asks.

“Yes. We’ve simply much to discuss,” she says, gesturing to the empty chair beside her. He quickly strides forward and sits, waiting for her to explain.

“It has been decided that Lord Jon and I will marry as soon as I am well,” she tells him, looking him straight in the eye. She sees a flicker of sadness, but he doesn’t look at all surprised by the news.

“Of course, Your Grace,” he says, dipping his chin and his eyes fall to the floor for a brief moment. She says nothing as he sorts his feelings out and when he lifts his head, she sees a grim acceptance on his face.

“I need you by my side, Ser Jorah,” she tells him. She tries to assure him with those few words that she will always desire her old bear’s counsel.

“You have me,” he replies, lifting his head up to meet her gaze again, determination shining in his eyes.

She lets out a small breath at his declaration. While she knows in her heart he will never leave her again, she cannot deal with any jealousy from him.

“I always knew you could never love me the way I love you,” he says quietly.

Her heart and stomach clench at his words. No, they’d discussed that a long time ago. She hopes he won’t try to change her mind the way he did when they were in Qarth or with Daario.

“But I couldn’t ask for a better man to stand by your side,” he says with a sad smile.

She smiles back and reaches for his hand. “You and I have been through so much and while there were times I wish you’d chosen a different course, I will never regret what you have come to mean to me. You know I will always cherish your opinion. Thank you for your acceptance of him,” she says, her voice barely above a whisper.

He swallows hard and nods before clearing his throat. Pulling his hand away from hers, he settles back into his chair and asks, “are you not going to wait until you’ve conquered King’s Landing?”

She presses her lips together and shakes her head.

“It must be done as quickly as possible. Which brings me to my next point,” she says as her heart picks up speed.

She looks down at her lap as she feels tears sting her eyes. She knows that out of everyone who knows, her bear would be the one to share her true emotions on the matter. Looking back up at him, she gives him a trembling smile and whispers, “I am with child.”

He gapes at her for a long time as he takes in her words then releases a huge breath.

“Khaleesi,” he breathes, reverting back to her old title yet again.

“You’re sure?,” he asks, looking at her stomach before meeting her eyes again.

She blinks the tears away that have begun to burn in her eyes and nods.

“The maester told me I am three moons,” she quietly replies.

He gets out of his chair and kneels before her, taking both of her hands in his.

“I know what this means to you,” he tells her. She nods again as she collects herself and he squeezes her hands in silent support.

“You’re the only one who does,” she whispers, knowing he’ll understand everything she’s implying with those words. All of the pain and suffering they’ve had to face since their time in the deserts of Essos. The unending climb to queenship she has made in response to her losses. The man before her is the only person alive that has seen her at her lowest, when she had nothing but a name.

“You will be happy, Khaleesi. This child will not be Rhaego,” he tells her fervently.

She gives him a small, sad smile of her own and says, “we can be sure of nothing in this world.”

“You can,” he replies.

She doesn’t know why she still hangs on to the fear of losing this child. She thinks back to when Drogon rescued her from the fighting pit and she feverishly thought she was dying from the bleeding between her legs, how it wasn’t the time for her moon blood. She has always suspected that it was yet another child she was forbidden to bring into this world. She probably won’t be assured until she holds her babe in her arms, watching it take strong breaths and feeling it’s heart beat under her fingers.

Returning herself to the present, she takes a steadying breath and nods once to Ser Jorah.

“You know this means it would not be wise to lead your armies on Drogon,” he tells her quietly.

She clenches her jaw and says, “yes. Lords Jon and Tyrion have told me I will not be allowed to fly.”

Jorah looks at her with a small twitch of his lips and says, “perhaps you can use the march south to begin strengthening your command of Drogon from the ground. Or see if he’ll listen to Lord Jon.”

She tilts her head in thought at the suggestion and nods in agreement. She’s never actually tried to test the limits of her control over her fiercest dragon for battles.

“I’d also take advantage of this opportunity and give Lord Jon the command of the armies. It will give him a chance to prove himself as a leader in his own right to the Southron lords,” Jorah explains. “They’ll then see him as the king the North currently does.”

Dany’s brow arches at the advice and she folds her hands on top of her stomach while she thinks. As with most things, her old bear makes a valid point that she didn’t consider as in depth. Not only would it allow the Southrons to see Jon at his finest, it would more than likely comfort the Northerners to know that she plans on having Jon truly rule alongside her and not simply be a figurehead.

“That… is most certainly doable,” she tells him.

“When will you tell the lords?,” Jorah asks her.

Meeting his stare, she replies, “today.”

“And if they don’t approve?,” he asks curiously.

Rising from her seat, she says, “they will.”

——————————————————-

When she enters the Great Hall, her eyes immediately seek out Jon. He responds to her arrival with a long, solemn look, his expression unreadable. Then the tiniest smile touches the corners of his mouth, enough to reach to his eyes, but not enough to be seen by anyone who wasn’t watching for it. It’s beautiful, private, and as delicate as a spider’s web.

She makes her way to the front where he and his council are, her small council right behind her. Once everyone else is seated, she looks at all the people gathered and says, “my lords and ladies, I thank you for all the sacrifices you made for the realm. Without your help, we would not be here.”

They all raise their cups and cheer to their victory.  

“Now, as I said before, I will be taking my armies and marching South,” she tells them, making brief eye contact with them all before she continues. “If there are any here who wish to return to follow Cersei Lannister, gather your men and leave immediately. You will not be harmed.”

She waits silently as she lets them decide. When none move, she nods in approval. “Very well. Then let us begin.”

Taking a breath she says, “Before we discuss our move on King’s Landing, I’m sure there are some who have questions about certain things they saw on the battlefield in regards to the dragons.”

Everyone’s eyes glance to Jon before returning to her.

“While this can no longer be kept from you, I expect none of what is about to be said to get back to Cersei Lannister.

“I’m sure you’re wondering how the son of Ned Stark was able to ride a dragon. It has become known to me that Jon Snow is not a Snow at all nor is he the bastard son of Ned Stark. He is the true born son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen,” she tells them.

The Southern and Western lords all gape at Jon, their eyes flitting between the two of them as if to try and find some sort of resemblance. For his part, Jon doesn’t break under the bewildered stares. His face remains void of any emotion as he keeps his chin raised and his back straight.

“If that is not enough proof of his parentage, Lord Howland Reed was present when Lord Stark went to the Tower of Joy to retrieve his sister and emerged with a babe. Sworn to secrecy by his liege lord and friend, the two passed the babe off as Lord Stark’s bastard son,” she informs them before motioning Sam to step forward

Setting the book on the table, Sam quietly says, “this is a personal insert from High Septon Maynard that he wed Prince Rhaegar and Lady Lyanna.”

They all look at the book and murmur amongst themselves.

“So, if Lord Jon is Rhaegar’s son, will he take the Iron Throne?,” Lord Arstan Selmy asks.

“There is no “if”, my lord. And he will rule by my side,” she confirms imperiously, allowing the lords to recognize the true meaning of her words. They all glance between each other, but none raise any objection to her decree.

“I think we can all agree this is a well placed match and the most prosperous for the realm,” Tyrion states in the silence, gaining the lords’ attention. Spreading his hands on the table, he continues with a small smirk. “I don’t really think I need to explain why, but I will anyways.”

Looking around, he says, “aside from Lord Jon being a true born son, he was declared the King of the North by his lords and voted Lord Commander before that by his former brothers because they believed in him. He is a natural leader though he does not actively seek such positions. He puts the safety of the realm before himself. As does the queen. They’ve done something that hasn’t been seen in a long time. They fought and bled, not for their personal glory or gain, but for the people. They were ready to sacrifice themselves so that our children and grandchildren could have a future.”

Several lords nod a bit in silent agreement when Tyrion gestures to the Northern lords and ladies.

“The North will have a king with Stark blood who understands its ways and people. It will put you on equal footing and the fact that a member of his family will be the Wardeness of the North guarantees that he will always make sure your concerns are held with the utmost importance,” he tells them.

Turning to the other lords, he says, “now this doesn’t mean the North will be the favored land of the realm. The queen understands the ways of the Southrons and the Dornish. She will bring new trade from Meereen to the Reach and keep your shores safe from pillagers and pirates. With a few flaps of their dragons’ wings, they can bring aid to any of you in less than a fortnight. Again, it’s quite simple.”

He sits back with a smug look in his eyes as he gives Dany a small smirk while he allows the others time to mull over his words.

“House Stark agrees with this match. Lord Tyrion’s points are all correct and the North will need more foodstuffs and other supplies than can’t be sourced from the North alone now that Winter is here,” Lady Sansa states. Her siblings silently nod their agreement.

The Northerners glance at each other before they too nod their heads.

“Also,” Tyrion interjects with a casual air, “for any of those worried of a Targaryen wedding another Targaryen, might I remind you they are not brother and sister. Several of the houses sitting here have married uncle to niece without incident or madness. If it will make you all more comfortable, we can make a decree that this union shall be the last of the intermarriages of House Targaryen.”

They wait in silence as the lords consider Tyrion’s words.

“House Dayne will follow you,” Lord Edric says at last in his quiet voice. The Dornish houses begin to announce their allegiance as well.

“The Greatjon once said that it was dragons we Northerners married before they all died. It’s the dragons we’ll marry again!,” Lord Glover says loudly. The other Northerners shout their agreement.

Soon, the houses from the Vale, the Reach and the Riverlands call out their allegiance, followed by the Crownlands and the Stormlords. And finally, the Westerlands houses tell out their approval.

She glances at Jon and arches a brow at him before looking to Tyrion.

“Your Grace,” Sansa says once she can be heard, “it would mean so much to the North if you and Lord Jon were married in front of the old gods before you march south.”

Dany has to fight to keep her face neutral at how innocent the redhead looks. As if this were just a simple request and not a calculated move in the great game. She glances at Tyrion to find him looking at the young lady with a hint of pride in his mismatched eyes. He dips his chin when he meets her stare.

Turning back to those blue eyes, Dany nods and says, “If it pleases the lords, I have no issue.”

“Then I’ll have arrangements prepared and we shall do it tomorrow evening,” Sansa tells her.

“We must remain here in the North. By the time this war is over, we’ll be unable to travel home. The snows will be too deep,” Lord Ryswell says suddenly.

“Aye,” Lord Cerwyn agrees solemnly. “Northmen don’t fare well below the Neck.”

The other Northerners begin agreeing as well. Dany glances to Tyrion then to Jon and notices the grim set of their faces. Her stomach clenches as she tries to figure out how to address this matter. She needs as many men as she can get, but she’s never experienced an actual winter so who is she to say what the snows will be like? Can she really force these men to leave their homes and families for years and fight for her?

No. She’s always given her people the choice to follow her and she won’t stop now. She still has the Southron houses and what remains of her armies. If she can’t get the Golden Company to her side, she’ll send for the Second Sons.

Coming out of her thoughts, she finds Jon staring at her, waiting for her decision as the others continue to bicker. She turns to the lords and says, “if you wish to stay, then I will not force you. I understand that Winter is hardest on the North. I gave you my word and I plan to keep it. However, I will take any soldiers that wish to go and I will give them shelter and pay once this war is over.”

The Northern lords look to each other and discuss amongst themselves before Lord Glover nods to her and says, “we’ll ask the men if any wish to go.”

She feels a small weight lift off of her shoulders and tilts her head in acceptance.

“Will we have safe passage through the Riverlands, Lord Edmure? Or should we expect attacks from the other houses?,” she asks the auburn haired man.

The lord shares a glance with his uncle before replying. “I’m not entirely sure, Your Grace. Though I would hazard to say those houses would either have sent their soldiers to the Lannister queen or they’ll be remaining in their castles so we can’t take them back. But they would be foolish to attack such a large host.”

“Very well,” she says. “Have we heard news about the Greyjoys?”

“All we know is that Euron’s fleet brought back the Golden Company. There’s no news on Theon or Yara yet,” Tyrion tells her.

“Speaking of, has Lord Varys sent word about the Golden Company?,” Dany asks, turning to Tyrion.

Drumming his fingers on the table, Tyrion nods and says, “yes. As expected, they wish to parley with you. Your dear Magister Illyrio told me once that sellswords will not stand against Dothraki screamers. The Golden Company is smart. Too smart to stand against your allies, the Dothraki, Unsullied, and dragons.”

She hums and turns back to the others.

“We’re sure it’s not a trap of some kind?,” Lord Ryder asks. “What did I say about the Second Sons, Ser Jorah?,” she asks.

The knight smirks and clear his throat. “Men who fight for gold can’t afford to lose to a girl,” he replies, causing a few of the lords to chuckle.

“There’s your answer my lord,” she says to the man. “In regards to sellswords, the Golden Company is by far the most noble. Besides, Lord Varys would know if things were amiss. They’ll hold true to their parley.”

“What we must do is make sure this war doesn’t take more food supplies than it already has. Winter is here and won’t be going away any time soon,” Lord Rowan states, earning murmurs of agreement from the others.

Dany turns to the gruff lord and says, “this is true. I will also look to my cities in Essos and ships of food can be brought over.”

Looking to Tyrion, she adds, “we should be able to afford them, I believe.”

He dips his chin in confirmation. “But we cannot afford to spend it all for the entirety of Winter. There will be hardly anything left in King's Landing. If I remember correctly, they had enough food for five years of Winter. And this was back when I had to act as Hand to my nephew.”

“It’s like I told Lord Tyrion before the Battle of Blackwater,” Ser Bronn interjects, drawing the attention of everyone. “It’s not the fightin’ that kills people in a siege. It’s the starvin’. Ladies will give their diamonds for a sack of potatoes.”

“And as I said, King’s Landing will most likely be filled to the brim of starving people. My sister cares little and less about the welfare of the common folk,” Tyrion says grimly.

“What we need to worry about first is making it out of the North before the snows become too high,” Jon tells them.

“Can we even get our carts through this snow?,” Lord Edmure asks worriedly.

“The dragons can help forge our initial path on the road, keeping it clear enough for us to travel,” Dany tells him. Many of the others relax slightly at the confidence in her voice and the reminder that her children can be used for more than death and destruction.

“Speaking of traveling, I will not have our soldiers pillaging along the road South,” she declares in a voice like steel. “I don’t care if it’s against houses that are our enemies. The people won't pay for the crimes of their lords. I expect your soldiers to be under control or I will control them.”

She meets all of their stares and waits until each one nods their consent.

“One more time, my lords and ladies,” she says vehemently. “Follow me just once more and we shall have the peace this realm deserves as we begin a new era.”

The others cheer and bang their fists on the tables . She’s so busy looking at the lords that she doesn’t notice the admiration shining from those who sit next to her at the high table.

“Very well. Prepare your men, my lords. We march as soon as possible,” she announces.

 

————————————————

 

When the only ones left in the Great Hall are their small councils, Gendry Waters comes in holding a parcel.

“Your Grace,” Gendry says quietly as he steps before her.

Her eyes drift down to the parcel before returning to his face. Taking the item from him, she unwraps the cloth and stares unblinking at the object inside.

A shining sword that’s the color of smoke stares up at her. It’s slender in width and looks like it could be held by a woman. Gold is interwoven in the pommel that’s even blacker than the sword and she knows without a doubt what the pommel is made of. And where Gendry Waters obtained it.

 “I… I know should have asked you first, Your Grace, but I just… I thought...,” he stammers, but she silences him with a look. 

“Leave us,” she says, finally looking up at the occupants of the room.

“Your Grace…,” Tyrion says hesitantly.

“I said leave us,” she tells him again, meeting his gaze head on. She lets him see the calmness in her eyes and he relaxes, leading her small council out of the room.

“Not you, Lord Jon. You will stay as a witness,” she says. Jon looks at her a moment before silently gesturing for his siblings and Ser Davos to go ahead. When his sister opens her mouth to argue, his expression hardens, brooking no room for argument. The she wolf glares at her brother before turning to Dany. Her steel eyes hold a promise of pain should anything happen to the blacksmith before she turns and storms out. Dany ignores the stares a few give her over their shoulders and focuses on the raven haired man before her.

She hands the sword to Jon and walks slowly to Gendry. His eyes are large and he tries to keep his breathing under control as she stops before him. He looks to Jon for some hint of what’s to come, but the other man stares back at him with no expression.

“You took my dragon’s bone and forged a sword out of it,” she says calmly as she looks at the man before her.

“I… Your Grace, I’m sorry-,” he says desperately, but she holds her hand up before he can say more and he bows his head.

“What made you do it?,” she asks him.

Keeping his head down, he quietly replies, “I just, while we were gathering the injured and weapons, Ser Jorah told me about when the dragons were born. And I thought, after what you’ve done… it’s the least I could do. To… to keep your dragon close. It just… seemed appropriate.”

“You will look at me, Gendry Waters,” she tells him as she comes to stand in front of him.

She waits until he slowly lifts his blue eyes up to hers, shock and confusion entering them when he sees the hint of warmth in her gaze. 

“I have only once received a gift as fine as the one you have just bestowed on me and that was when I was given my dragon eggs,” she explains. Even though the child she’s carrying is a much greater gift, she can’t exactly say that out loud. The small warmth in her eyes leaves as she scrutinizes him for a long, silent moment. 

“Stand, Gendry of House Baratheon,” she commands him at last.

 His eyes double in size and the man does nothing but gape at her before quickly pushing himself off of the floor. When he glances at Jon, the Northerner gives him the barest hint of a smile and nods once in confirmation.

“I don’t… I… Your Grace, I’m honored but… I didn’t make that for, for this. You don’t owe me anything,” he stumbles.

“Which is precisely why I am legitimizing you,” she replies evenly. “You have proved to me that your loyalty is true. You’re the reason Lord Jon and the others are alive. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have been able to save them. We wouldn’t have obtained one of the dead and been able to show it to the Lannisters. We are all here today because you made it back to the Wall and got the message to me.”

The blacksmith just gapes at her, completely flabbergasted.

“Tell me, will you use your name to gain power over those who are weaker?,” she asks.

“N-no, Your Grace,” he replies with wide eyes.

“Will you decide to go against me or any of my allies?,” she asks.

“No, never, Your Grace,” he tells her, shaking his head.

“Then why shouldn’t I reward you?,” she asks

“I’m just a blacksmith,” he says quietly as he looks down to the floor.

“And Ser Davos was just a smuggler yet he was granted knighthood and later a lordship. And then he was Hand of the King and a respected advisor to Lord Jon. Missandei and Grey Worm were just slaves. Now, Missandei is one my closest advisors and Grey Worm commands the Unsullied. Lord Varys was just a street boy in Myr and now he is the Master of Whispers from here to Essos. Lord Jon was just a bastard, but he was still declared King in the North and now he’ll be king of the seven kingdoms,” she tells him.

Turning to Jon she asks, “do you not agree, my lord, that one who shows such bravery, honor, and loyalty deserves to be rewarded?”

Though his face remains unchanged, his grey eyes beam at her as he nods. “Aye, Your Grace. I do.”

Turning back to Gendry, she says, “then it is done.”

He raises his cobalt eyes back up to her and says, “I don’t know how to be a lord.”

Tilting her head at him, she replies, “I’m not asking you to choose. I’m simply giving you the opportunity so you have the choice. If you wish to be a knight, so be it. If you wish to return to your ancestral home of Storms End, you will be welcomed with open arms. If you wish to remain a blacksmith, I will appoint a new Lord Paramount of the Stormlands.”

She feels a bit of pity for the poor man as he silently works his mouth to respond. He’d gone from thinking she was going to punish him to hearing she was legitimizing him.

“Thank you, Your Grace,” he says dazedly.

She arches a brow at him and takes the sword out of Jon’s hands before she takes her leave. She hears the two men speaking softly behind her and decides she’ll give them a moment.

When she steps out, Jorah and Tyrion are waiting for her. She passes the sword to Jorah and tells him to put it in her quarters. Narrowing her eyes as a thought comes to her, she turns to Tyrion.

“Bring Ser Bronn to my solar,” she commands.

————————————————

“Lord Tyrion has told me of the deal that has been made pertaining to your possible lordship,” she says to the dark haired sellsword turned knight.

Lacing his fingers together, Bronn leans back in his chair and replies, “Aye. That was what was promised.”

She looks him up and down before meeting his light blue eyes. “And why do you feel like you would make a good lord?,” she asks.

“Didn’t know that was a requirement. I’ve seen plenty of lords who don’t deserve the title. Kings too,” he quips in a light tone that makes her narrow her eyes slightly.

“Be that as it may, I will not give such a title to a former sellsword who wants it simply to have it,” she tells him. “I’ve dealt with many sellswords. I know your kind.”

“Beg pardon, Your Grace, but I’m a knight now,” he replies with a small twitch of his lips.

She arches a brow at him and asks, “tell me then Ser , if you were in King’s Landing when I brought my armies, would you stay and fight under the Lannister banner or would you flee?”

When he remains silent she gives him a knowing look.

“As I thought. You may have a the title of a knight, but you have the heart of a sellsword. Your loyalty is to no one but yourself and you value your own safety more than anything. A lord must be steadfastly loyal not only to their king or queen, but to their liege lord as well and place the needs of their people first. You must be able to provide them with food, help settle any disputes with a fair and just decision, give them safety to prosper, and deal with matters of the land and coin,” she informs him.

She gives the man a penetrating stare before she asks, “is that something you feel you can do?”

He looks at her thoughtfully, the arrogance leaving him as he nods.

She returns the gesture curtly and stands.

“You have shown your fealty to the realm by fighting against the Others. Now, it is time to prove your fealty to me ,” she tells him imperiously. “Should you survive the war against Cersei Lannister, we will discuss which stronghold you will be granted.”

The man stares up at her inquisitively and she holds his gaze. He finally nods and stands as well.

“Lord Tyrion was right about you,” he tells her quietly.

“Oh? And what is he right about?,” she asks.

“He said followin’ you was a simple choice,” the knight replies before bowing and leaving Dany to her thoughts.

———————————————————————

As Jon walks across the courtyard, he sees Ser Jorah approaching him.

“Lord Jon,” the knight says with a dip of his chin. “May I speak to you in private?”

He looks at the man curiously before nodding and leads the way to the solar. Once there, Jon pours two goblets of wine and hands one to the knight while he waits for him to speak.

“The queen informed me of her… condition,” Jorah says at last.

Jon keeps his face void of emotion, unsure of where the man is going with this topic.

“You’ve no idea what you’ve given her,” Jorah’s tells him, meeting his eyes.

Clearing his throat, Jon says, “she… told me what happened, what the witch did, what was left of the Khal and her son.”

The other man’s brow rises at that, but he doesn’t look too surprised.

“I’m sure you can imagine how much that hurt her,” Jorah tells him before taking a sip of his wine. “But, like a true queen, she carried on and led us out of the Red Waste.”

“Has she always been that way?,” Jon asks.

“Oh no. I remember when I first met Her Grace during her marriage feast to the late Khal Drogo. She was a scared girl of ten and three. Scared of her brother who hated her as much as he loved her, of her new husband and his people’s strange way of life,” Jorah reminisced thoughtfully. “But she accepted it and adapted quickly. And soon, she was thriving. Her strength and courage grew to where she was no longer afraid. She stood up to her brother whenever he threw one of his fits of anger. She accepted that these people were hers to look after and she did.”

“There is something I feel I should tell you about in regards to our queen,” Jorah says, causing Jon’s muscles to tense.

“Above everything, Daenerys Stormborn is a rescuer. She refuses to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others and the injustice of the small folk. Yet there’s a ruthlessness that dwells in her. The first time I witnessed her rescue another was when the Dothraki had raided a Lharazeen village after Khal Drogo proclaimed he would take his horde and set sail across the salt water to Westeros. They were gathering the women and children to sell into slavery to buys ships. She hated it. She ordered me to bring her a woman who was being raped. I told her that she had a gentle heart, but this was their way. She informed me she did not have a gentle heart, got off her horse, and ordered the men away. Then she said the others were hers as well. I told her she couldn’t claim them all,” he says, a fond smile lifting the corners of his mouth. “She looked at me with fire in her eyes and said she could and she would. But the  first time I saw the ruthless side to her was when her brother died. She didn’t cower or cry while her husband poured molten gold on her brother’s head.”

“Then it was Astapor,” he stops and looks at Jon. “Did Missandei or Grey Worm tell exactly how she obtained them?”

When he shakes his head, the older knight nods. “It was a long process to convince her to buy them. Ser Barristan has joined us by then and he was opposed to the idea of it. She abhorred the way the Unsullied were trained. But I told her that they would never rape, never pillage, never do anything unless she commanded it of them. We all know how victors love to take their spoils in wars, especially with the women. There’s a beast in all of us and war brings it out.”

Jon can only nod in agreement as he listens.

“Finally, she told their master she would give him one dragon in exchange for his entire Unsullied, including the untrained boys. Much to the protest of Ser Barristan and myself. She also told the master that in honor of a successful agreement, they would “gift” Missandei to her. Of course, she immediately her,” he says with a small shake of his head as he remembers. “As soon as the master held the end of Drogon’s chain and she had the whip in her hand, she asked if it was done and they were hers. Her first order was for them to slay all the masters, soldiers, and anyone who held a whip. But to harm no child and strike the chains of any slaves they find. She then had Drogon burn the master. Once it was over, she freed the Unsullied as well and told them they could choose whether or not they wanted to fight for her. As we all know, every single one followed her.”

“At Yunkai, I urged her to keep going. Their main trade was bed slaves, not soldiers. She asked how many slaves there were in Yunkai and I told her two hundred thousand if not more. She said then we have two hundred thousand reasons to stay.”

Jon’s heart swells with so much pride at his queen’s actions. He can only imagine what it was like to be by her side as she conquered city after city before she was even ten and eight. It’s no wonder Ser Jorah is so devoted to her. He feels like a child, listening to Old Nan’s stories. But these are so much more powerful because the man in front of him was there .

“On the road to Meereen, they crucified one hundred and sixty three slave children to use them as markers for every mile between it and Yunkai. When Ser Barristan offered to have soldiers ride ahead and bury them so she would not see them, she refused. She would see every one of their faces,” the man explains.

Jon’s stomach clenches violently in disgust. He’s seen men do so many terrible things, but this type of callousness towards another person, towards a child , is something he’ll never understand. It reminds him of Craster sacrificing his sons.

“When the city was hers, she had one hundred and sixty three of the masters crucified as retribution. She refused to bow down to their ways. They would live in her new world or die in their old one.”

“I’ve heard many stories about Cersei Lannister since I was exiled and I don’t doubt for a moment that she won’t use innocents in this war,” Jorah says wearily as he rubs his face. “If… when that happens, you’ll need to be there to bring her back from that edge of ruthlessness she can be prone to walking on. It can be hard to make her listen when it comes to showing mercy to those who gave none to others who were weaker. She has never answered injustice with mercy. She answers it with justice. And she’ll deliver that justice to all, no matter if they’re a lord or a commoner.”

The knight’s eyes lock onto Jon’s and he says, “ruthlessness can very easily be mistaken for madness if people want to view it as such. And if the child is threatened, her retribution will be severe.”

The hairs on his arms stand up at Ser Jorah’s words. He saw that ruthlessness on the beach of Dragonstone when she had asked him what she should do after she had lost her only allies.

“You think she’ll listen to me?,” Jon asks carefully. Even though he’d prepared himself for moments where he’d have to become the king to her queen when she was lying unconscious in her bed, he wants to know for certain from the man who’s known her the longest.

The older knight nods. “I do. While myself and Lord Tyrion are her advisors, you’ll be her equal come tomorrow. If she won’t listen to us, she’ll listen to you.”

Jon lets out a small breath he didn’t realize he was holding at the confirmation.

“I once told her that while she may cover it up and deny it, she had a gentle heart. She would not only be feared and respected, she would be loved. Centuries come and go without a person like that coming into the world,” Jorah says before looking at Jon. “The fact that there are two that share that quality, and will rule together, is even rarer. You make her happier than I’ve seen in a long time.”

The two sit in silence, lost in their own thoughts, before Jorah speaks again. “I’m only glad that I’ve lived long enough to witness such wonders. And terrors.”

Jon nods in silent agreement with unfocused eyes. They’re quiet for a moment before a new thought enters his mind.

“The lords won’t like her marching once she begins to grow,” he sighs.

“A khal who cannot ride is no khal,” Jorah replies with a serious expression. “The Dothraki women are expected to ride until the moment they give birth. Anything less is seen as weak. Her Grace did it with her first son and she will do the same with this one.”

Jon can only stare at the older knight in shock. He’d known the Dothraki were a tough people, but he never realized how deeply entrenched it went.

“Her Grace has united the entire Dothraki people into one khalasar. Something that hasn’t been accomplished since the reign of Khal Mengo during the Century of Blood after the Doom. On top of that, she is the first Khaleesi to ever lead in her own right. They follow her and her alone. She cannot show any weakness in front of her khalasar,” Jorah explains.

Jon rubs the space between his eyes as he thinks on this. While he admires the strength of his queen, riding through the snows with the harsh winter winds of the North that leave one chilled to their very bones isn’t the same as riding through the tall grasses of the Dothraki Sea under the Essosi sun.

He’ll just have to keep a close eye on her because he knows her pride will make her push herself to the edge just as she did on the battlefield. He knows her small council members will also be watchful of her and Ghost will alert him if anything should happen.

“Do you think the Golden Company will come to our side?,” he asks the knight.

A pensive look crosses Jorah’s face and he says, “it’s hard to say. The reason the Golden Company has never lost a battle is because they don’t take on contracts if they can’t win. Even with elephants, they’re no match to dragons. If they don’t take it, then it’s because they feel they can win. But our queen is known for her inspiring words. If anyone can get them to break a contract, it’s her.”

Jon nods. That’s what he feels as well. 

——————————————————————-

 

After speaking with Ser Jorah and going over the provisions Winterfell will need with Sansa, Jon ventures out to the godswood in search of some peace. He’s ready for all of this fighting to be done. He can feel the weariness of war in his bones and hopes they can defeat Cersei without too much bloodshed.

Arriving to the heart tree, he brushes the snow off of the large stone by the pond and sits. Pulling Longclaw out, he takes a whetstone and starts sharpening the blade as he gets lost in his thoughts. He doesn’t even notice the lithe young woman approach until she sits down next to him. He glances at her from the corner of his eye and gives her a small smile before he continues with his sword.

“You looked so much like father that, for a moment, I thought you were his ghost,” Arya says quietly.

Chuckling, Jon puts Longclaw back in its scabbard and says, “you used to be so scared to go down into the crypts because of the ghosts. I’ll never forget when Robb took you down there and I pretended to be a ghost. You could hear your screams from up above.”

She gives him a sour look so reminiscent of their childhood years that he can’t help but grin and ruffle her hair. Her look turns deadly as she slaps his hand away.

“So, you’ll be leaving soon,” she states after a while.

He takes a deep breath and nods. “At least this time I’ll be able to come visit.”

She hums and looks around the godswood. “King’s Landing isn’t all that grand. Smells like shit too,” she tells him.

“I’m sure Dany will fix that,” he says and nudges her shoulder with his.

“Dany?,” she repeats with a mocking look.

His eyes widen slightly at his mistake and he clears his throat.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay here?,” he asks her, effectively changing the subject. Even though he knows the answer, he still wants to give her the chance to decline.

As expected though, she scoffs and rolls her eyes at him.

“Why would I do that?,” she asks. “You’re going. Therefore, I’m going. The lone wolf dies.”

“But the pack survives,” he finishes with a small smile, wrapping arm around her shoulder and tucking her into his side.

“Besides, Cersei’s on my list,” she tells him.

“List of what?,” he asks.

Meeting his eyes, she says, “people I’m going to kill.”

He takes a silent breath in through his nose as this reminder that she’s not the sweet child he once knew and that there’s a viciousness in her that will never abate. But, she’s still his little sister and he still loves her.

They sit in companionable silence as they look at the heart tree.

“Speaking of wolves,” he says, “how is Nymeria? I’ve not seen her.”

“She’s out there,” Arya replies in a quiet voice. “I doubt you will see her often. I don’t think I’ll ever truly get her back. She’s become wild.”

He looks down at her unreadable face and nods in understanding. Even though she continues to stare straight ahead, he knows she sees the gesture.

Again, they fall into silence until she hesitantly asks, “did you… ever have dreams where you were a wolf?”

His head whips towards her and he meets her inquisitive grey eyes as his mind races with the implication of her words.

“Did you ?,” he asks instead.

“Yes,” she replies. “In Braavos when I was blind. I’d dream of hunting in the woods with others wolves.”

“Did they feel real?,” he asks. He knows she must have slid into Nymeria’s mind, but he wants to make sure before he confirms it.

“Yes,” she says again. “I was strong and swift. I had my pack at my heels and knew they’d never leave me. The smells… I can remember those best of all. In one, I could taste the richness of the blood from the man I was eating. The other wolves were too scared to go near the body, but I didn’t care. To me, meat was meat and men are prey.”

He swallows, thinking back to his own dream of hunting as Ghost and how much more alive he felt as a wolf. But his heart thumps hard as he remembers how the free folk have a code that wargs are not to eat humans.

“So, have you?,” she asks.

“Aye, I have,” he says with a slow nod. Her eyes snap to his and she sees the understanding in his gaze.

“What do they mean?,” she asks curiously.

He takes a breath and replies, “it means you’re a warg, little sister. Like me and Bran.”

The way her eyes widen is almost comical. She’d wear that same expression when Old Nan would tell them stories of ice spiders or when he or Robb would tell her tales of the Targaryen wars.

“For true?,” she whispers.

His lips turn up into a small smile and he nods again. “For true.”

“Have you done it when you’re awake?,” he asks her in a gentle voice.

“A cat,” she tells him quietly.

His brow raises at that. “I’m told cats are hard to control.”

“By whom?,” she asks with a tilt of her head that she would always do when they were younger.

“The Free Folk,” he replies.

He’s silent as he lets her mull over his words.

“So I really am a wolf then?,” Arya asks, excitement and wonder in her voice.

“No, Arya. You are a woman,” a voice say behind them. They turn to find Bran with Sam standing silently behind him.

Bran’s Tully blue eyes stare penetratingly at his sister who makes a face at him in return.

“I know that,” she huffs. “I’d just rather be a wolf.”

“As did I. But you must remember who you are at all times, sister. The temptation to give in to the wolf’s impulses is strong when you wear their skin. But for you, it will be much harder. When you hear their cries, you feel as though they are calling to you. And you are the only one of us with the wildness of the wolf blood running through you,” Bran says in that knowing voice that reminds them who he has become.

Jon glances down at her and sees she has closed off her expression. When her grey eyes meet his, he gives her a look that shows he agrees with their younger brother.

“What’s this about, Bran?,” he asks, turning towards the chair bound man.

“I can’t be there to guide you the whole way south. That is not my duty,” he replies monotonously. “So you must learn to control your abilities when you’re awake. Just as Varamyr Six Skins did.”

“You’re going to teach us to warg?,” Jon asks quietly.

“I will teach you the way to learn how to warg,” Bran clarifies. “You will have to practice on the road south.”

“Why?,” Arya asks with a tilt of her head. “Why do we need to learn?”

“The time for wolves has come,” Bran replies evenly. “You’ll need the strength of wolves from Nymeria’s pack and the only way to control them is through her.”

Bran looks between the two of them and says, “let’s begin.”

——————————————————————

Once they’re done, all four head back for the warmth of the keep. But before they leave the safety of the godswood, Jon puts his hand on Sam’s shoulder to stop him.

“Sam, I need you to ride south with us,” he tells the large man.

“Of… of course, Jon,” Sam stutters. “Can I ask what for? We all know I can’t fight.”

Jon gives his friend a small smile and replies, “I need you to help with the queen. You’re the closest thing I have to a Maester and you’re used to the cold.”

Sam’s pale eyes widen in understanding and he nods vigorously.

“Will she be alright going?,” he asks Jon.

He runs a hand over his head and nods. “She rode… this way when she was with the Dothraki. And Ser Jorah told me that she plans to do the same here. That she has to ride, whether it’s on horse or dragon. Her khalasar won’t do well if she doesn’t.”

Arya lets out a low whistle and when Jon turns to her, she has an impressed look on her face.

He raises his brow in silent question. She just smirks at him and shakes her head, keeping her thoughts to herself. His eyes narrow at her, but he decides to leave it alone.

Turning back to Sam, he claps his friend on the shoulder and thanks him before they continue towards the Great Hall for the evening meal.

—————————————————————-

Just before he retires for the night, Jon goes in search of the queen. He’s not seen her much and he knows he won’t be able to sleep without checking in on her. Coming to her quarters, he knocks and waits until he hears her tell him to enter. When he steps into the room, he finds her sitting at the table in the corner pouring over maps.

Turning those violet eyes towards him, her expression softens when she realizes it’s only him. She gives him a gentle smile and murmurs, “good evening, my king.”

One side of his mouth twitches up into a small, crooked smile as he takes her in.

“My queen,” he replies quietly with a small dip of his chin.

He watches as she rises from the chair with a fluidity only she can possess. His eyes travel down to her middle and linger there as she walks towards him, but she stops when Ghost pushes past him and goes straight to her. He leans his great head towards her and sniffs her up and down. The direwolf began the habit of checking on her every night since she’s been able to get out of the bed before he’d go hunt with Nymeria. Seemingly satisfied, he grumbles and presses his nose against her neck before turning back to Jon. Ghost gives him a lick on his cheek and then leaves as quickly as he came.  

“So, tell me, Jon Snow,” she says, drawing his attention back to her once the direwolf is gone and the door is shut. “What does a Northern wedding consist of? I assume it is nothing like the grand affair known with the Seven.”

He glances to one of the chairs next to the fire and she raises a brow when he meets her eyes again, tilting her head towards it. He takes a seat, clenching and unclenching the pain out of his burnt hand while he explains, unable to look at her as he does.  

“No. You’ll be taken to the heart tree, I’ll ask your escort who they’ve brought, they respond with your title and asks who claims you to which I answer. Your escort will ask if you’ll take me then, once you accept, we’ll kneel before the tree and send up silent prayers to the gods,” he tells her quietly.

“That’s it?,” she asks.

He finally turns his head and sees she’s standing mere feet away from him, her purple gaze fixed on him with its usual intensity.

“And I give you my cloak as a symbol of protection. But yes, that’s it,” he responds.

She hums and comes to stand directly in front of him. The fire creating a warm glow framing her body.

“Are you having doubts, Jon Snow?,” she asks him with a small smirk. She reaches down to pick up his sword hand and slowly pulls the glove off, setting it aside. He watches entranced as she runs her fingers lightly over the scars before she begins to knead the muscles in his palm with her thumbs.

She raises her amethyst eyes back to him and looks at him expectantly. “Doubts?,” she repeats, continuing her ministrations.

Clearing his throat, he shakes his head. Averting his eyes, he says, “I just… I was never supposed to marry. Bastards aren’t allowed. Neither are the men of the Night’s Watch.”

When she stops, he slowly lifts his gaze back up to her. Her face is unreadable when she gently sets his hand back down.

“And what do I say?,” she asks. She braces her hands on the chair on either side of his head, leaning down towards him.

“I take this man,” he tells her. His voice is barely above a whisper as he watches her advance. Her scent hits him and he breathes it in deeply without even realizing what he’s doing. His eyes fall shut when she presses her soft lips onto his cheek with the barest amount of pressure and skims them across until they’re at his ear.

“I take this man,” she breathes.

His heart thunders in his chest and his throat aches with the sudden, inexplicable urge to cry. Never in his life has he been gifted with anything as glorious as this woman since he lost Ygritte. And he’d come so close to losing Dany too. When she’s in front of him again, his hands reach for her instinctively to cup her face.

Without hesitation, he brings her mouth down on his, pushing his tongue past her lips. She lets out a content hum and straddles his lap, her arms going around his neck as she molds herself against him.

He carefully wraps one arm around her back to keep her in place while the other trails down her neck, past her breast, and settles on her stomach. He presses it down in an effort to feel the small bump he knows is there.

When she suddenly pulls back, he blinks up at her confusion, wondering if he did something.

“I’m afraid I can’t, Lord Jon,” she tells him, getting off his lap to stand in front of him. “I am to be married tomorrow and I simply cannot be unfaithful to my future husband and king.”

He stares at her and wonders what she’s talking about until he sees the mischief in her sparkling amethyst eyes.

“I see,” he says slowly as he rises from his seat, deciding to play along. “He’s a fortunate man.”

She clicks her tongue and walks to the table to pour herself water.

“No. I believe I am the fortunate one,” she states , bringing the goblet to her lips.

When she’s done, she says, “I sometimes have to remind myself that I’m not dreaming and that he’s real. He’s the most selfless, righteous, and bravest man I’ve ever known. The kind of man you only hear of in stories and songs.”

“I’m sure that’s not true,” he grumbles. What he’s also not sure of is if he’ll ever get used to her open praises. He’s never had such words directed towards him. They make his chest tighten even more and he wants to tell her that it’s the other way around. He’s the one who has to constantly tell himself that this goddess spun of starlight and flames in front of him is real.

“Oh, it is,” she says softly with a dreamy smile. Her eyes lock onto his as she makes her way back to stand in front of him. “He is a king of kings. Yet he could go by any name and I would still call him mine. Even with a world between us, we found one another. And I will never let him go.”

She takes his hand in hers again as she continues. “He may not be the most eloquent with his words, but I don’t mind. Because when he is, it’s exactly what I need to hear. And his eyes...oh, his eyes. With a single look, he can bring me to my knees.”

“So you see, I simply have no other choice but to refuse your advance, my lord. I’m afraid I’ve become rather fond of my king,” she tells him with a small smile. “You understand, of course. I want to make sure I’m ready for my husband tomorrow.”

“Is that so?,” he asks in a gravelly voice.

“Yes,” she tells him as she slowly rakes her eyes down his body in a way that burns him. “I’m hoping he will be just as… enthusiastic about our marriage as I plan to be.”

The heat in her gaze makes him want to pin her to the table and show her just how enthusiastic he can be, but he swallows down the need to go through with it. If she wants to play this game, then he won’t deny her.

“Aye. I understand,” he replies. Part of him hates how obvious his desire can be heard in his voice, but the other is too busy planning what he’ll do to her tomorrow.  

“Good night then, ver anni zhor ,” she says gently as she traces the tips of her fingers down the side of his face.

Leaning into her touch, he whispers, “what does that mean?”

She drops her hand and puts on a face that he assumes is meant to be innocent, but her eyes give her away.

“Oh, I’m sorry, my lord. That’s between my husband and me,” she tells him.

His own eyes widen when she throws him a sensuous smirk and before he can respond, she steps around him and is gone.

As he stares at the door, all he can wonder is whether or not he’ll survive such a hellion of a wife.

Chapter Text

The following morning has Sansa making sure all the preparations for the ceremony and feast are in order. After instructing the cooks on how much food they’re to prepare, she goes in search of the queen’s advisor, Missandei.

As she walks through her home, she thinks on just how different her and her siblings lives have become since that fateful visit from King Robert. Never would she have imagined that the Others were real or that dragons would turn out to be their only salvation. Not that anyone could have planned for that, not even Littlefinger.

Thinking of the man makes her quite glad they had ended him before the queen and Jon arrived. He’d have planted dark thoughts in her mind in regards to Jon and the queen in order to isolate her even further from the only family she has left. Gods, he would have torn them all apart and given them no chance to defeat the dead. But she did learn from him and she will always remember the more sound pieces of advice he’d given her.

Seeing the halo of curls belonging to the woman she’s been searching for talking to Lord Tyrion, Sansa approaches the two. When they notice her, they bow their heads.

“Lady Sansa,” the Naathi woman says in greeting, “is there something I can help you with?”

“There is actually,” she replies. “I was curious to know if the queen have a cloak she can use for the ceremony this evening.”

Missandei glances at Tyrion before nodding to Sansa. “Yes, Lady Sansa.”

“Is there anything else you need?” Tyrion asks.

“I was wanting to speak with the queen in regards to this evening,” she tells him politely.

As she and Tyrion walk through the courtyard, she hears him sigh. Turning to look at him, she sees a small smile on his face. When he catches her inquiring stare, he grins.

“Did I ever tell you that I slapped our dearly departed Joffrey in this very courtyard?,” he asks her.

A faint smile reaches her lips and she can only shake her head as they walk in companionable silence. Upon reaching the queen’s chambers, she lets the guard open the door and walks through.

“Lady Sansa,” she says with a nod. “What can I do for you?”

“Your Grace, I was hoping I could speak to you about the ceremony,” she says cordially, stopping just in front of the now closed door.

The silver queen tilts her head and bids her to enter fully.

“Is there a problem, Lady Sansa?” she asks as she sits down in one of the chairs in front of the hearth.

Taking the other seat, Sansa shakes her head. “No, Your Grace. I wanted to ask if you would allow Jon to cloak you in the Stark’s cloak and not the Targaryen.”

The queen stares penetratingly at Sansa, obviously trying to read her intentions.

“If that is what he wishes,” she replies slowly, “then I have no issue. May I ask why?”

Raising her chin slightly, Sansa says, “as a child, Jon wanted nothing more than to be a Stark. I think our father would want him to use the family cloak. It would also show allegiance to the North.”

The other woman studies Sansa with a raised brow before she gives a single nod. “Very well.”

“Your Grace-“

“Please, call me Daenerys. At least when we are in private,” the queen interrupts.

“Daenerys,” she says hesitantly before clearing her throat. “There is one more request I have in regards to the ceremony. Northern women wear their hair a certain way for their wedding and while I know you’re not from the North, I think it would mean a great deal to Jon.”

Daenerys’s purple eyes evaluate her as she decides before dipping her chin once more in silent acquiescence.

As she and the queen sit by the fire, Sansa decides to take up the offer she made about listening to her.

"I've heard...," she hesitates before barreling on, "I've heard that your brother was not the kindest."

She looks at Sansa again in contemplation on how much to share before gives her a slow nod.

"He used to be loving when we were young," the queen says thoughtfully. "But as we grew older, the madness in him grew as well. When I would anger him, he would tell me that I'd woken the dragon and hurt me. I'd grown up expecting to have to marry him and be his queen. To forever be at the mercy of his beatings, with no escape from his madness."

Sansa looks at the fire and quietly says, "Joffrey was the same."

The queen purses her lips and regards Sansa's small confession. "It wasn't easy," she says, "to be trapped with such an abusive person that holds so much power and control over you. To have nowhere to run to and no one to help."

"No, it wasn't," Sansa agrees.

Daenerys takes a sip of her drink. Then looks at Sansa with a small smile.

"But, here we are," she says triumphantly. "We are the ones alive, ruling in our own right. And the ones who abused us and tried to take away our power can never hurt us again."

"They are indeed," Sansa says, smiling at that. She feels that kinship towards the queen she had begun to feel start to grow over their shared experiences. She knows she won't find such a thing with many others, if any at all.

"You were married before, yes?," she asks the queen quietly.

Violet eyes meet her blue ones before she nods her head again. "Yes, twice," she answers.

"What… were they like?," Sansa asks.

The queen shifts in her chair so she can look at Sansa better before answering.

"My first marriage happened when I was ten and three," she tells her. "To Khal Drogo, as you already know." She pauses, thinking over her words for a moment before she continues.

"In the beginning it was... very unpleasant. The Dothraki couple as animals do, with little regard to how the woman feels," she explains. It reminds Sansa of her times with Ramsay and she desperately tries to block out the memories as Daenerys keeps going.

"I was fortunate in that Viserys purchased a pillow slave from Lys to be my handmaiden. She helped me learn the ways of the sensual arts so that I could use them to establish myself as someone worthy of my khal.”


A gentle smile crosses her features as she says, "She was my closest friend at the time. We were both slaves, I was simply a higher priced one. She gave me the best advice I've yet to hear. She told me, 'You must look in his eyes always. Love comes in at the eyes.'"

She clears her throat and continues, her eyes becoming far away. "It worked. The Khal became my sun and stars and I became the moon of his life," she smiles fondly before she looks back at Sansa.

"My second marriage was purely out of political necessity. It was completely loveless and he was awful in the few times we consummated," she says brusquely, her lip curled in displeasure.

Sansa chuckles at the queen's look. "Fortunately, Lord Tyrion never even suggested that. He was very kind and respectful to me. I was ten and four when we married."
"Although I almost wish he had now," she says as her expression grows pensive, glancing at the silver woman before she looks away.

"It… would have made it… easier with my second marriage," she whispers. "I would have used that experience to block out what was actually happening."

She’s never spoken about her time with Ramsay to anyone. Theon knew what was going on; he’d seen the bruises and scars that were left on her. A voice in her head that sounds remarkably like Baelish tells her not to share such words of weakness, but she pushes it aside. She looks up when she hears the queen breath in sharply through her nose, seeing the pain and understanding in her purple eyes.

"Yes," Daenerys whispers back, "it makes coupling so much worse when you have no good experiences to help dull the bad ones. Especially when it is your first time."

Sansa can only nod silently and stare into the fire.

The queen reaches out to touch her hand. "But I assure you, you will find someone who will make it so enjoyable and makes you feel so loved in the process, you'll never want to leave the bed. It may not happen until years from now, but it will," she says smiling.

"I hope you're right," she replies quietly.

Winking at her, she replies, "I am. Because if I can cross the Narrow Sea and somehow manage to find Jon, then I know you will find someone."

Sansa looks into those purple eyes for a long time and feels the smallest blossom of hope.

Then a wicked smirk appears as she looks at the queen.

"So you mean to say that our brooding Jon is an exceptional lover?," she asks slyly, knowing Arya will love to hear this to use against him.

A light blush tints the queen's cheeks and she tries to hide the smile forming as she looks at Sansa with a raised eyebrow.

"You'd be surprised," she answers, her eyes sparkling.

Sansa gives an unladylike snort at the amusement on the queen's face.

They're quiet for a moment, staring at the fire again before Daenerys turns back to her with a mischievous look.

"And if you can't find a suitable lord, I've heard Ser Bronn mention on many occasions that Podrick Payne is quite... skilled. Although his version, of course, is much cruder. Perhaps it is the quiet ones that women should keep their eyes on," she says, giving Sansa a cheeky grin at the implication.

Sansa stares at her a moment before she bursts out laughing, imagining the shy squire being a master in the ways of the bedroom.

"No!" she exclaims, tears forming in her eyes.

Daenerys laughs too and nods her head. "I even asked Lord Tyrion and he confirmed it. The women that Tyrion had paid for gave the boy the money back!”

Sansa tilts her head back as peals of laughter come out of her and Daenerys has to clutch her growing stomach as her own tinkling laugh takes over her.

Once they've calmed down and wiped their eyes, Sansa says gasping, "Perhaps... perhaps I should. Although I'm not sure what he would do if I simply approached him."

She looks at Daenerys again, and watches her trying to imagine the scene in her mind. When their eyes meet, it starts a whole new round of laughter. She has no idea why this piece of knowledge is this funny, but right now, she doesn’t care. Gods, when was the last time she had laughed so freely? It’s felt like years. With a start, she realizes it has been years. She’d forgotten how a true laugh could make one feel so much better. As if one’s very being was cleansed.

Once they collect themselves, Daenerys says, “but yes, a second or third brother would do well so that they can live here.”


At hearing that, it suddenly hits Sansa that she probably will have to marry once more. She’s always known of course, but it's just never felt quite so… real and immediate.


The queen looks over at her and quirks an eyebrow. She almost shakes her head in dismissal, but realizes that this is yet another instance that the silver queen also faced and decides to forge ahead.

"I just… I realized I too will need to marry a third time. The North needs heirs," Sansa tells her quietly. Then a pained look comes over her face as she again comes to another realization. One she’s not wanted to truly face.

"Once I do, there will no longer be Starks in Winterfell," she whispers sadly. The pain of that thought causes tears to form in her eyes. Their house died with Robb and Rickon. She's not even sure if Bran wants to take a wife and keep the Stark line from dying out, much less whether or not he can .

The queen looks thoughtful for a moment as she drums her fingers on the arm of her chair.

"Well... who says you must take your husband’s name?” Daenerys asks thoughtfully.

Sansa’s eyes widen as she stares at her, unsure of what to say.

With a shrug Daenerys says, “Even if I had married someone else, I would have remained a Targaryen. Cersei was queened as a Lannister. I don’t see the difference.”

“I doubt any husband I have would take kindly to that,” she responds incredulously.

The queen waves her hand in dismissal. “That’s why you’ll need a husband who won’t try to take your power and rule over you. Not a craven but one not hungry to marry you simply because of your name. One who would rule with you,” she says, her eyes going distant as she runs through all the eligible lords.

Returning her focus back to Sansa, she says, “which may be somewhat difficult as some men will always be threatened by strong women and try to stamp them out. Because a woman does not need a man the way a man needs a woman. While we share the powers to destroy and build with men, we share one power with the gods that men will never have.” She looks down at her stomach and smiles softly before raising her eyes back to Sansa. “We create life . And there will always be those who hate us for it.”

The queen takes a sip of her drink before she continues. “So those men push us below them and make us believe that it’s men who should rule and men who should have the power. That we’re nothing more than broodmares and that’s where we deserve to be. That we should thank them for the child they give us. They shame us as soon as we’re born because we aren’t boys and therefore, not heirs. And then we’re left wishing that we were born as sons.”

Scoffing, she rolls her amethyst eyes. “As if cocks are so grand. How many men in power have made decisions based off of lust and the head of their cocks instead of the head on their shoulders?”

Sansa presses her lips together to hold back her amusement at hearing a queen talk as such while Daenerys clears her throat.

“All we truly need from men is their seed. Aside from that, we can live on our own. They know it and so they try to beat us into submission before we have the chance to realize our own power and we soon forget to even try.”

Her purple eyes stare straight into Sansa’s as she says, “there is great potential in you, Lady Sansa. I think you’ll accomplish many things as you lead the North. Though, it’s mostly the central kingdoms who have issue with ruling women. Thankfully, the North and Dorne are much more open about such things. But nonetheless, you’ll show them exactly what a young woman with power can do. You’re smarter and more cunning than all of the others put together. And you don’t ever have to use your body to get what you want. If they don’t like it… well,” she lifts a shoulder with a faint smirk, “they can live in your new world or they can die in their old one.”

She remembers all of the “teachings” Cersei had told her when she was in King’s Landing. And she never quite realized how much she unconsciously took to heart until just now as this queen tells her almost the exact opposite. 

“While the line of your family rests on your shoulders, that doesn’t mean you must find a husband immediately based on the opinions of others. Because there will be some who will try to push a husband on you so he can rule. If or when that happens, remind them just how deadly a wolf’s bite can be and that it’s the she wolf who guards the den. Should they ignore that, well… don’t let them forget that you have dragons in your family now.”

Daenerys gives her a conspiratorial smirk that’s almost feral.

“And whether  you birth a son or daughter, they will safeguard the North. They will have the blood of the Starks running through them. Just as Jon may not be the son of your father, he is a Stark,” the queen says as she sits back in her chair and stares at Sansa.

It takes everything Sansa has not to gape at the woman. She feels the last walls she’d kept around herself to protect her and her people from this queen crumble to dust. Everything she’s just been told has been for her benefit alone. There was no underlying threat, no manipulative scheme, no making her someone else’s pawn. Just advice and support from one ruling woman to another. She feels like a weight has been lifted off of her chest and she can finally breathe.

“I… thank you, Y- Daenerys,” she says quietly. “You’re very kind.”

“After tonight, you will be my good sister,” the other woman replies calmly. “Above anything else, Jon sees you as his family. I will also see you as such.”

Sansa swallows before she nods.

“And when you do birth a child,” Daenerys says with a wistful smile, “we will make sure our children are raised to love one another and never worry of war between them.”

A small smile of her own touches her lips before she asks curiously, “you feel confident about the war against Cersei then?”

“I do worry about her unpredictability and her supposed fondness of wildfire,” Daenerys admits with a grimace before a pensive expression takes over. “But aside from the dragons and my own armies, I have her allies surrounded on all sides, the two people who know her better than anyone alive on our side, an advisor who knows that city better than anyone, and I think if given the option and push in the right direction, the common people within the walls can be persuaded to help if need be. That’s how I managed to take Meereen. So, yes I feel it should be quite easy once I bring the Golden Company over.”

Again, Sansa can only stare at her. She keeps forgetting that Daenerys Targaryen isn’t just a queen. She’s a commander who knows and understands war strategies, who began conquering entire cities at the age of ten and five.

Tyrion was right, she’s Aegon the Conqueror with teats.

A slow smile creeps up her lips as she realizes the possibilities .

“I will say this, Daenerys,” she says slowly, blue eyes meeting purple. “I will gladly offer you my counsel should you ever need it. Because between your love for the people, Jon’s sense of righteousness, along with Tyrion and my knowledge of how to play the game. Not even including your other advisors….” She sucks in an awed breath at the realization of how much this behemoth of power can be used for. “I do believe your reign will be unstoppable.”

One side of Daenerys’s mouth tilts up slightly and she arches a brow. She raises her cup to Sansa who matches her look and returns the gesture.

Yes, the time for wolves and dragons has indeed come. 

                      ~~~OoOoO~~~

Once Missandei and the handmaidens are through getting her ready, Dany stares at herself in the looking glass, not really recognizing herself. Her hair’s piled up on top of her head with a large braid winding around the base.

Instead of her usual outfit, she wears a thick, white dress that has black fur on the shoulders. Sitting underneath the fur is a black cloak with red embroidery stitched throughout. She can’t help but appreciate how she looks like a perfect combination of both of Jon’s houses.

When a knock sounds on her door, she opens it to find Ser Jorah waiting for her on the other side. He looks her over before giving her a gentle smile.

“It’s time, Your Grace,” he tells her, offering her his arm.

She takes it silently and they make their way outside to where her other guards are waiting to escort them into the godswood.

As she and Jorah walk through the godswood, she can’t help but take in the beauty of it. Torches have been set up along the path to the heart tree. The way the soft orange glow of the flames sets against the white ground and the smoke from them mixes with the steam from the hot springs and the falling snow makes the area look like something out of a dream. The red leaves of the weirwood burn bright against the dark sky, throwing shadows across everything under them. She and Jorah pass by the gathered lords and ladies and she’s vaguely aware that his family and her small council are standing at the front, but Dany could care less about anything else because her eyes finally land on Jon.

He stands in front of the carved face of the tree, his expression unreadable as he watches her approach. Even still, he’s more handsome than any man she’s ever met. When she’s close enough however, Dany can see the way his grey eyes are shining at her. She’s quite sure neither of them have blinked since locking eyes, as if they’re both afraid this could be some dream.

Once she and Jorah are in front of Jon, his grey eyes turn towards the knight and he asks in his thick Northern accent, “who comes? Who before the gods?”

“Daenerys of House Targaryen comes here to be wed,” Jorah answers. “A woman grown, trueborn and noble, she comes to beg the blessings of the gods. Who comes to claim her?”

Jon clears his throat and says, “me. Jo- Aegon of Houses Targaryen and Stark. Lord of Winterfell. I claim her. Who gives her?”

“Ser Jorah of House Mormont, Lord Commander of the Queensguard,” the knight replies before turning to her and asking, “Queen Daenerys, will you take this man?”

She waits Jon’s eyes meet hers again before she confidently replies, “I take this man.”

Jon holds his gloved hand out to her and she takes it without hesitation before they kneel before the heart tree, bowing their heads in submission to the gods. She’s not sure what to do, but she decides it couldn’t hurt to ask. She’ll carry on as she’s always done regardless of whether or not these Northern gods can hear her and decide to answer her.

So she asks that anyone or any thing that could be listening to protect the child she carries, the man beside her, and the others she cares about.

They spend a few moments like that before Jon squeezes her hand, silently telling her that they can stand up. When they rise, Jon removes her black cloak and turns to Sansa, who’s holding another cloak. They switch and Jon places a cream colored one bearing the grey direwolf of House Stark, signifying him taking her under his protection and into his family.

When they turn to the gathered lords and ladies, it’s as husband and wife. 

                    ~~~OoOoO~~~

 Taking in all of the lords and ladies gathered in the Great Hall, Jon can’t help but wonder if this is an elaborate dream he’ll soon wake up from. They’ve defeated the dead and he’s still alive with what remains of his family and friends.

Turning his attention to the woman beside him, he’s still shocked that this queen is now his wife . Without a doubt she is the most beautiful woman in the world, especially this evening. When he saw she’d worn her hair up in the traditional Northern style, he’d been speechless. She’d looked so beautiful in the torch light with the falling snow and rising steam from the springs, that it almost hurt to gaze upon her ethereal form. But he couldn’t have looked away even if his life had depended on it.

While Jon isn’t the kind of man who’d value a woman solely on her looks, he just can’t believe she chose him out of all the men she could have picked. He’s not blind to the lustful and longing looks she gets when she enters a room or passes by. Even now, he can see some of the men stare at her with slightly dazed expressions.

He’s never seen her hair pulled away from her face, but he enjoys it immensely. It makes her big violet eyes even more striking and her features sharper. It also shows off her neck, and he’s slightly surprised to find a neck alluring. Yet as he looks at it, he finds his teeth actually aching to bite down on the creamy flesh.

He’s still observing her when she turns those violet eyes and gives him a soft smile meant for him alone. He wants to reach out and touch her, but knows now isn’t the place to show such openness. So he settles for letting her see it all in his eyes as he roams over the contours of her face. While she’s still radiant as ever, he doesn’t like how she’s not yet regained her weight. He’ll have to speak with Maester Wolkan about what kinds of tonics that will help with her queasiness before they leave.

He gestures his head towards the food in a silent request for her to eat. She looks at the choices laid out from the corner of her eye and he can see the way her face turns sallow.

Deciding to take action, Jon puts a small pile of meat and bread on her plate. When she looks up at him from the plate, his gaze hardens. He’s no longer requesting, she will eat.

Her amethyst eyes widen in indignation, but he refuses to back down. As they continue their silent standoff, her eyes suddenly become dark and heated as they drift down towards his mouth before meeting his stare again.

She tears apart the bread and tops a small piece off with some of the meat. Returning her gaze to him, she puts the food in her mouth and chews it slowly. After she swallows it, he pointedly glances at the food again. When she raises her chin in defiance, his eyes turn to steel again. What he finds curious is that instead of challenging him like he expects, her eyes become even darker. She bites down on her lip before turning to grab another piece of meat and bread. He watches as she slowly releases the captured skin and eats the food.

They continue this twice more when he notices the flush blooming on her cheeks and how she’s begun to shift as subtly as she can in her seat. Jon’s eyes widen as he realizes that she’s aroused .

Tilting his head, he leisurely rakes his gaze down what parts of her aren’t obstructed by the table. When his eyes clash with hers, his stare turns predatory. A sense of male satisfaction rushes through him as her pupils swallow almost all of the purple and her lips part ever so slightly in response. He completely forgets about everyone else until someone jabs him in the ribs. Turning sharply to his other side, he finds both of his sisters staring at him, Sansa in exasperation and Arya in amusement.

“You’re not being very subtle, Jon,” Sansa tells him quietly as she tilts her head towards the other lords.

“Yes, some of us are trying to eat. Save such things for the bed chambers. We don’t actually want to see it,” Arya mocks, earning a reprimanding look from Sansa that she completely ignores.

He can feel his cheeks heat and he grabs the goblet in front of him, taking a long drink. As he eats some of his food, he glances at Dany from the corner of his eye and finds her picking at her own food as she talks to Tyrion. Feeling his gaze on her, she turns and her eyes are full of dark promises that make his blood burn.

“So, will there be a bedding ceremony?” Arya teases, jostling them out of their silent conversation.

Before Dany can even open her mouth, he turns sharply to his youngest sister and growls, “ no .”

Even if Dany wasn’t with child, he’ll never allow another man to look upon her naked flesh. The very thought has his hand clenching into a fist.

When he sees how Arya is pressing her lips together to keep from laughing and how Sansa sighs quietly as if wondering what she did to get stuck with the two of them, Jon clears his throat.

“She’s a queen, Arya. She’ll be treated like one,” he tells her with a hard stare.

Turning back to Dany, he finds her amethyst eyes dancing with mirth and Jon decides he can’t take this any more. He holds out his hand in silent invitation. She looks at it before meeting his stare and he arches a brow at her. Understanding what he’s saying, she smooths her face out and sets her hand in his before they both rise.

Upon noticing them, the hall quiets and Jon has to force himself not to redden under their stares.

“The queen and I will be retiring for the evening,” he announces.

Everyone begins raising their cups and cheering, some even whistle.

As he and Dany turn to leave, Jon leans down to Sansa and quietly says, “no one will be allowed in the keep until you arrive.”

When he pulls back, she looks up at him with those blue eyes and pats his hand. “I’ll keep them occupied,” she tells him before giving him a look. “Just don’t take too long.”

Part of him is extremely embarrassed by this conversation, but the more aggressive part refuses to have anyone hear the noises he plans on evoking out of his queen. He won’t let others look at her with anything less than the respect she deserves.

Offering her his elbow, Jon leads them out of the Great Hall, ignoring the continued cheers the lords bellow out as they pass.

                   ~~~OoOoO~~~

 

As the feast continues on, Jon escorts her back to the chambers that will be theirs until they leave. There’s an energy between them that makes her knees weak and her breath quicken. Upon arrival, he reminds the guards to not allow anyone inside until the Lady Sansa returns.

“What was that about?” she asks curiously as they may their way to the room.

Jon gives her a heated look out of the corner of his eye and says, “no one but me will be allowed to hear you, my queen.”

The implications of his words makes Dany’s knees want to buckle. But she somehow manages to keep herself upright and she quickens her pace.

Once the door is closed, she begins unlacing the ties of her dress she's able to reach while he starts taking off all of the layers he's so prone to wear. But even with the multiple layers he has on, he can still take them off quicker than she's able to get her damned dress unlaced. It's times like this that she misses the light, flowy dresses she used to wear in Essos. The thought makes her sigh with want as she tries to reach back and grab the ties.

When she turns around to ask him for help, she finds him watching her with a smirk on his handsome face.

"Shall I get that for you?," he asks innocently, even though his eyes dance with mischief and desire. She stares at him for a long moment, captivated by the combination, before regaining her senses.

"Unless you would like for me to leave and find Missandei," she sniffs, her chin rising in challenge.

"Well, that won't do at all, my queen," he says as he stalks towards her. In these moments, she always notices how he moves with the lightness and grace similar to the wolf he has or one of the jungle cats she remembers seeing in Essos. She can't help but choose which of the two he favors more as her heart rate quickens. While she continues to silently watch him approach her as if she was his prey, she realizes she’s never felt so unopposed to being the one who is the hunted instead of the hunter.

A wolf , she decides when he gives her a predatory grin and his eyes darken to a charcoal grey. Her body responds immediately to his silent call as her thighs clench in anticipation. She's sure that her own eyes have darkened by the time he finally stands in front of her.

"Turn around, please," he says in a low voice.

She does as she's bid, moving her hair aside before she holds the front of the dress. She feels his fingers ghost over the sides of her torso before they slowly begin to unlace her dress, making sure to trace her skin with every inch that becomes exposed. When he's done, he runs his fingers up her spine, causing her to break out in goose flesh as he then begins undoing all her braids until her hair hangs freely down her back.

He leans in so his mouth is right next to her and whispers, "is that all?" His hot breath against her skin makes her shiver. Knowing her voice will betray her, she nods in silence. He gently kisses the skin just below her ear before he drops another farther down her neck. The heat coming off his body, while only his beard and lips touch her has her eyes closing of their own accord.

"Come to bed, Dany," he murmurs as he begins pushing her dress off her shoulders.

She lets her arms fall so the dress slides off to pool around her feet. She steps out of it then turns around to face him. His eyes have darkened even more as he looks over her flushed face and lidded eyes.

She's becoming too hot as she waits for the wolf that lurks beneath his skin to come out. But he simply stands there, staring at her with a fathomless expression, not touching her.

Her impatience gets the better of her and she reaches out to stroke the front of him through his trousers, never taking her eyes off his. His eyes flare in response and turn black with desire as she runs up the length of him. She flashes him a sweet smile as her fingers journey back down to squeeze the base of him before she pulls away.

A soft moan of protest escapes him when her fingers leave him, but he composes himself enough to grab the shift and slowly raise up her torso. She lifts her arms so he can remove it completely. Once it's off, he tosses it on the floor without looking away from her. He then takes his tunic off, leaving him in just his trousers.

A low, animalistic growl rips from his throat as he grabs her face and brings his mouth down onto hers. His tongue pushes past her lips and starts battling with her own. She responds in kind, throwing her arms around his neck and pressing herself to him hungrily. Their mouths drink from each other for several heated moments before he starts walking them towards the bed.

When the back of her knees hit the edge, she lets herself sink down onto it. She wraps one arm around his shoulder while the other holds his neck, keeping him perfectly trapped to her. He doesn’t seem to mind at all as he follows her and covers her body with his own. He kisses her until she forgets everything but his name as his tongue swirls around hers and his lips brand her. She feels cocooned in the warmth his body is projecting and the contrast to the cold air that occasionally hits her makes her dizzy.

She whines her displeasure when the weight of him is suddenly gone. When she opens her eyes she finds he's looking down at her with a heat in his gaze that she's sure will melt her.

She tries to reach for him, but he pulls back even further to slide down her body. He stops at her breasts and covers one with his mouth. Her back arches at the feeling of his tongue circling her peak while his hand works on the other, alternating between pinching and pulling. They feel even more sensitive to his ministrations than normal and it causes heat to pool between her legs. He releases the breast in his mouth and turns to latch onto the other one, showing it the same attention before moving farther down. He stops just below her ribs and runs his lips along the pink scar then continues his journey. When he nips at the skin of her navel, she arches her back.

He pulls back to study the growing swell of her stomach, touching as much of it as he can. When he looks up at her through his dark lashes, she’s not sure how she hasn’t combusted under the intensity of his stare. Leaning back down, he continues his journey south until he's at the apex of her thighs. He kisses the area right above her curls, causing her to gasp.

"I told you I'd taste you," he tells her in a husky voice as he spreads her thighs further apart. As he takes her in, his nostrils flare and his eyes turn to midnight at the sight of how ready she is for him.

"So eager, my queen," he murmurs as he dips his head and slowly kisses her thighs. She tries to lift her hips up to him but his hands grip them tightly and push them back down to the bed, holding them in place. She's now helpless to his actions as he continues to kiss and nip his way up each of her thighs. After what feels like hours, but was likely less than a minute, he brings his mouth to her apex and kisses her lightly.

He presses his tongue flat against her before he suddenly pushes in to taste her fully. She gasps as he explores her depths. He pushes it in as far as it will go, and begins to grind against her inner walls, the wetness flowing freely now. He then changes tactics and performs the same ministrations against the upper wall, and then draws out slowly before forcing it back in against the sides. It’s as though he needs every drop of her essence in order to sustain him.

He adds a finger inside of her while his tongue roams her outer lips and her pink nub. He

He slips a second finger in, moving his digits, twisting them and pumping in and out while he takes her bud in his mouth, alternating between sucking it lightly before he pulls on it hard. Her legs begin to shake like tremors around his head as she feels herself coming close to the edge. But suddenly, he’s gone. Her eyes snap open in shock as a strangled whimper escapes her mouth.

“Jon! What are you-” but he cuts her off with a bite to her inner thigh.

“I thought… I’d return the favor from the night before,” he tells her innocently as he rubs his bearded cheek back and forth against her thigh.

Her mind whirs as she tries to process what he’s saying while her body is screaming for its release. When he lightly runs a finger up and down over her center, she keens and tries to raise her hips up to meet him, but he keeps them pinned down. The ache is too much and she can’t stand it any longer.

“Please, Jon! Please!,” she whimpers.

He gives her a satisfied smirk before he complies. Dany arches her back as his mouth resumes his work on her while he stretches her passage with two fingers. She closes her eyes as she feels the pressure build once more. Just as the ball in her stomach begins to unravel, he stops again .

She can’t hold back the scream of frustration this time and the pain of it actually causes her eyes to water.

No ! Jon, please ! Please !” she cries, uncaring if anyone can hear her. Let them suffer the way she is right now and they can see just how quiet they can keep.

“What do you want, Daenerys?” he asks as his dark eyes burn into hers.

“You! Please !” she sobs.

He quickly unties his trousers and kicks them away before he pulls her down the bed towards him. Her legs instinctively wrap around his waist to try and join them but again, he stops her and holds her in place with one hand as he uses the other to reach under her back. She lifts her arms to grab his shoulders as he flips them over so that she's now above him.

She looks into his eyes and sees how much he has to fight against his need to take her how he wants in order to give her what she's more comfortable with. The gesture sets her heart on fire and she promises herself that she will bring him just as much pleasure.

She slides herself down until she feels the tip of his erection touch her center. She reaches down to wrap her fingers around his length then lines herself up and lowers herself onto him.

His head tilts back as he hisses in pleasure. When she purposefully clenches around him, his eyes snap open and he looks at her fiercely as she braces her hands on his chest and begins to ride him.

His hands knead her hips as she lifts them up then lowers them back down to once more sheath him. Every time she lowers herself, she tightens her inner muscles around him and rotates her hips.

He lazily circles her nub with his thumb until he loses his concentration when she squeezes her walls even tighter and he starts raising his hips up into her while pulling hers down in quick succession. After a moment, he pushes himself up into a sitting position and the shift causes him to hit a spot deep inside of her that makes her breath catch and a high pitched gasp come out of her mouth. He begins to bite at her collarbone and chest before dipping his head to pay attention to her breasts again. She feels one of his hands slide up her back to fist her hair, tugging her head back just enough to push her breasts right up to him. Her hips arch against him, straining to hold him where she wants him, and he moans against her skin at the sensation.

As she feels herself about to reach her peak, she pulls Jon's head away from her breast so that they're now level and runs her lips along his bearded cheek, reveling in the sensation of the rough hairs against her skin, to stop at his ear.

"Ver anni zor," she whispers before she brings her lips to his again. She kisses him as she slams back down on him and swerves her hips in a way that makes him whimper loudly into her mouth. The declaration snaps his control and he brings her down hard onto him repeatedly. Her tongue battles his for dominance until he lets go of her hip to pinch her bud. As soon as he presses it between his thumb and forefinger, her release sweeps through her with such intensity that she sees white behind her lids.

When he feels her walls tighten around him, he flips them over again so that she’s on her back. He quickly grabs her one of her legs to push it up towards her as he continues to search for his own release. The new position allows him to control his speed while also going deeper and Dany can't help the whines and moans that spill from her mouth every time he pushes roughly back into her.

"J- Jon...,"she stutters when he suddenly thrusts into her so hard, it takes her breath away. The sound of his pelvis hitting against the back of her thigh fills the room alongside her moans and Jon’s grunts.   

Those black eyes meet hers and soften for a moment at the emotion he sees in hers before they fill with lust again as he approaches his release. She suddenly feels herself building up as he sets her legs on his shoulders so he can more easily speed up his pace.

His face shows the bliss he feels as he pushes into her as far as he can and she begins moaning louder each time he thrusts hard into her. Her nails dig into the muscles of his arms as he suddenly presses his body down into hers with each new thrust, bending her enough that her knee rest against her chest.

He covers her mouth wit