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Hope

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How could this be? 

It was early morning, the sun had not risen yet as Daenerys stood at an open window in her chamber in Winterfell, taking deep gulps of cold air into her lungs in an attempt to fight the dreadful - but by now familiar - nausea. Her stiff fingers were clinging to the wooden window sill as waves of dizziness washed over her, leaving her shaky and light-headed. She closed her eyes and leaned against the wall next to the open window. The fresh morning air outside was ice cold and she was beginning to shiver, only clad in a thin night gown and robe.

She had made her peace with it. Even back when she had still believed she was the last of her family, she had come to terms with the fact that she would never carry another baby. She had accepted it as a truth. She was barren. She was the mother of dragons. That had to be enough. 

And truly, it was. Or it had been. Until a dark-haired Northener with charcoal grey eyes and a stare so intense the mere memory sent shivers down her spine, had stepped into the throne room at Dragonstone. She had insisted he bend the knee and he had refused. Instead he had told her ludicrous stories of an army of dead men beyond the wall. 

 Jon. 

She had mistrusted him back then and had paid the ultimate price. Again. Viserion had died and it had broken her heart. Again. It had been on the ship, during their voyage back to Dragonstone, when the loss of her dragon had still felt unreal, too devastating to acknowledge, that he had reached out to her, both with his hand and with his heart.  The way he had looked at her, the intensity in his expression, it had taken all her courage and every ounce of self control she possessed to hold his gaze. And she had still averted her eyes from him eventually, the emotion in Jon’s too blatant, too unmistakable, threatening to overwhelm and force her to acknowledge her own heart’s desire. She had not been ready, caught off guard by her conflicting feelings, torn between all-consuming grief and the beginnings of a new, half-forgotten yet utterly exciting feeling taking root in her heart. 

They had fallen in love in a similarly devastating manner, slowly and then all at once, with every fiber of their being and every breath of their bodies. The weeks that had lead up to their glorious first night together had consumed every ounce of self restraint either of them had been able to muster.That night had changed everything. Or had it? Perhaps it had been a more gradual process, a change that had occurred little by little, with every stolen glance, every sleepless night, and every heated debate between them. In the end, it had felt altogether inevitable. 

And not even your godsdamn honor could have stopped you, Jon Snow. 

Dany smiled faintly at the thought and pushed herself off the wall. The nausea and dizziness were slowly subsiding and she made her way over to the large bed decked out with soft furs and wool blankets. She lifted a few layers, slid underneath and curled herself up cozily, arms wrapped tightly around herself. She was scared. As the morning sickness had kicked in, she had been able to dismiss the symptoms as a stomach flu for a few days, blaming the constant exhaustion and absence of her monthly bleeding on the arduous travels on horseback and harsh northern climate. If truth be told, she had been in denial about what was happening inside of her for weeks. 

And why would I not be? 

Years had passed since she had lost Rhaego. And no man had been able to prove the witch wrong since then. Until now. Dany turned to lay flat on her back and moved her hands up to gently touch her sensitive breasts. Yes, the tenderness was still there, the feeling vaguely familiar, merely a distant memory, almost from another life.They are bigger, too. She smiled her second smile of the day as she remembered catching Jon staring intently at her neckline at the end of a particularly tiring council meeting the other day.  He had blushed momentarily, and for a few fleeting seconds a boyish grin had crossed his otherwise brooding face. 

Her hands slowly moved downwards and came to rest on her stomach. The idea that right there, right under her palms, a new life had taken root and was growing stronger every day, filled her with a mix of conflicting emotions she did not know how to handle simultaneously. She felt a hot tear running down her cheek and onto the cool fabric of the pillow underneath her head. 

“Are you there?”, she whispered into the emptiness of the room, both hands still resting on her belly, “can you hear me?” Of course not, silly, it's way too early for that. Yet she felt strangely comforted by the sound of her own voice so she continued: “I wished for you, you know? I had given up hope, but I never stopped wishing for you.” Tears were flowing abundantly now, and she let them. Her voice was hoarse and barely audible to herself. “I think your Pa never fully believed me when I told him that you were impossible. And maybe he was right. Or maybe that is just who he is, what he does. He makes the impossible possible".

He makes my impossibles possible.  

She swallowed thickly and took a deep breath. “He’s one of a kind. He truly is.” 

You’re not like everyone else. 

He had told her that. On that fateful day of the meeting in the dragon pit. Coming from him, she had wanted to believe it more than ever. As a queen, she was expected to have confidence in her own exceptionality, her destiny to be superior, to lead and to be followed. 

But as she had been standing there in front of him, she had also known that he was the one person who made her question these things more than ever before. Not that he did not believe in her, not at all. In fact, Jon had enough confidence in her for the both of them. And that’s why. You make me care. For you. For us. You mad me wish for this more than ever. Her palms were caressing her lower belly in gentle circles. You made me fall in love with you without even trying. And being a queen had made being in love with Jon Snow considerably more difficult.  

At least until they had arrived in Winterfell almost a fortnight ago and had learned of Ned Stark’s -most likely- first and last lie, a well kept secret that he had taken to the grave as his life had been ended so cruelly and way too early. The concealment of Jon’s true identity had certainly saved his life, a vitally important lie, yet its revelation had thrown him into deep confusion and bitterness. He was a Targaryen. Hence, being in love with Jon Snow - or was it Aegon now? - had turned from being merely complicated to wholly impossible.

She knew what this - their - new truth meant, she had known from the moment her mind had processed the news. Yet, there had been a part of her that had refused to believe it meant the end of them right away. What they had with each other felt too important, too real, too significantl to just end. It was utterly unimaginable, altogether unsurvivable. And still, it had happened. He had left the room without another word. At the beginning of a small council meeting the next morning, Ser Davos had informed her that Jon wished for the news to remain a secret for the time being. She had simply nodded and turned away in a futile attempt to hide the fresh tears welling up in her already reddened eyes.  

That night, when she had seen him leave the Great Hall during dinner, she had gotten up, motioned for her guards to stay behind and had gone after him. She had not had a plan, no idea what she would say to him. In fact, she had not even been sure there was anything to say at all. Most of all, she had been driven by a desperate longing, for him, his soothing touch, his gentle embrace, his loving voice. She had been hurting, so much, and it had felt like he was the only one capable of taking her pain away. In her mind she had known how paradox that was, but her heart had not cared. He had turned around when she had almost caught up with him, only a few steps separating them in that stone-walled, torch-lit corridor. 

 Oh Jon

His face had been pale and unmoving, his jaws clenched together. But his eyes. Oh, your eyes, your beautiful, beautiful eyes. They had mirrored everything she was feeling. Pain. Fear. Confusion. Sorrow. Longing. And, yes, love. It had still been there. She had seen it there, somewhere, in the depth of his impossibly irresistible eyes. I love you, too. I always will. Always. I promise. 

When he had suddenly moved towards her she had frozen, equally torn between the urge to meet him halfway and the knowledge that his touch might shatter her once and for all. He had stopped his advance standing mere inches from her and had slowly reached up to gently cup her face with both hands, tenderly stroking a calloused thumb over her cheekbone. For a moment hope had welled up in her, sweet, naive hope that together, they could ignore what had happened, forget everything they had learned and mend each others' broken hearts. It had been a few blissful moments before he had removed his hands from her and had taken a step back. Before turning from her, he had looked at her one last time, the agony in his eyes blatant and painful. “I’m so so sorry, Dany. More than you’ll ever know.” It had been barely a whisper. And with that he had walked away, leaving her behind unable to breathe or form a coherent thought. The finality in his words had been undeniable.

Damn you, Jon. You always strive to do what’s right and just. Nothing has ever felt more wrong than this. 

He had withdrawn from everyone since then. 

Everyone, not solely me. But me included. 

The sound of footsteps and opening of closet doors from her front room brought her back to the present. She sighed. It was time to get up, pull herself together and act the Dragon Queen everyone was expecting. She would have to deal with her personal life later. She knew she needed to consult a maester as soon as possible. Yet, more rumors were the last thing any of them needed right now. It could wait a little while longer. 

You wanted this, you wanted to be a queen, you wanted to rule. Duty comes first. 

She sat up and looked down at her hands that were once more cradling her belly. “I love you, little one. You're my hope.”