1. The girl and the Bear
She was cold.
That was the first thing she realized. Cold and wet.
And softly in the background, she could hear what sounded like waves crashing into each other. Odd.
She slowly opened her violet eyes, adjusting to the brightness and blinked a few times trying to make out where she was, but all she saw was sand. White, moist sand that seemed to stretch on forever. She used her elbows to gently try and sit up, but it proved to be quite the task. Her arms were numb and her entire body felt heavy. A soft whimper escaped her lips when her back was finally erect with her still numb arms weakly supporting her. She brushed her eyes over her body searching for any injuries, and they nearly bulged out of their sockets when she saw a thick piece of wood sticking from her thigh. And after her brain acknowledged the injury, excruciating pain quickly followed.
She let out a blood-curdling scream, and closed her eyes hoping it would somehow lessen the pain.
Panting loudly, she reopened them, and tried breathing through her mouth- a pain resistance technique she had learned from her brother. But even that didn't help. And with every second that passed, the pain only seemed to get worse and worse. And she knew, any minute now it would surely become unbearable.
“It'd be over soon. I’m going to be okay.” She chanted like a prayer. “I’m going to be okay,” Whether that was true or not was irrelevant, because in that moment- it made her feel better. But the feeling didn’t last long.
Vehement sobs punched through, ripping through her muscles, bones, and guts, and her body trembled from both the cold and the pain. She knew what she needed to do, but her body wasn't ready to cooperate. Both her hands were shaking violently, and she needed to steady at least one, before she attempted to pull the piece of wood from her thigh. Breathing loudly, she closed her eyes once again and tried to ignore the pain; it wasn't easy, but she was resilient and whatever she put her mind to- she did. Her right hand steadied a few moments later and without waiting for too long, she quickly yanked the piece of wood. She had screamed to avoid biting her tongue off and the screaming helped distract her from the pain.
After tossing the piece of wood away, she tried the pain resistance technique once again; closing her eyes and breathing through her mouth. The residue pain wasn’t bad, just annoying to have to deal with.
After wrapping a piece of her already ruined dress around the wound, she wiped her nose and eyes with the back of her hand and looked around, finally noticing the huge body of water in front of her.
A chill went down her spine that wasn’t caused by the cold. Valyria didn't have an ocean. So, where was she? And how had she gotten there? The last thing she remembered was her guard, Upper Gaelon rushing her out of the castle and giving her a horse; telling her to ride hard and not to look back. Her brain was blank from there on.
She tried to remember what had happened after that, but the harder she tried, the more her head hurt. And finally, hot tears began rolling down her face and she sobbed when she remembered why Upper Gaelon was rushing her out of the castle in the first place.
Her poor nephew and niece. Their screams echoed in her head and the blood-- there had been so much blood. And before Upper Gaelon had taken her into his arms, she remembered looking up at her brother, Viserys, and in that moment- he looked as deranged and as mad as people thought Targaryens to be.
She looked down at her now tattered and ruined dress- which was a gift from Rhaenys, and she sobbed harder. Rhaenys and Aegon were gone. Rhaegar was gone. She didn’t know where Upper Gaelon was, and she had no idea where she was.
The winds blew harsher and she shivered and hissed in pain when waves of unforgivingly ice-cold water washed up on the lower half of her body and the salt made contact with her wound through the thin material she had used to cover it.
She needed to move.
So as carefully and slowly as possible, she got up and limped to the nearest rock. Wincing in pain with each step taken. She sat down and once again looked around trying to make out where she was. But everything looked so… foreign. This place was heavily vegetated and very, very wet. She didn't know of a single country in Essos that was heavily vegetated and wet. Meaning... she wasn't in Essos anymore.
She wasn't in Essos anymore.
She wasn't in Essos anymore.
She had never even been outside the capital of Valyria, now she was alone in a different continent! So she, naturally, began panicking.
What if she was in the continent of cannibals, Sothoryos? Or in Westeros where men morphed into wolves and hunted day and night? Or in Ulthos where men laid and had babes with animals? Well, she supposed being in Ulthos wouldn't be that bad, she would just have to keep her head down and try not to stare when she came across men with pig heads or women with hooves for feet.
Yes, she nodded. Ulthos would be the preferred continent. And- and, mayhaps she could bend in. She could hunt and kill an animal and wear its head, so the people would think she was one of them. Yes, that would work. Only, she didn't know how to hunt or kill anything, and they would probably see right through her and have her killed.
Before she could weep again, for what seemed like the hundredth time that day, she remembered what her brother Rhaegar always told her;
"You're a dragon, Daenerys. And dragons don't cry. They get up, and take what is theirs with fire and blood.
Fire and blood. The words of house Targaryen.
But Daenerys didn't look much like a Targaryen in that moment, much less a Targaryen princess. Face dirty, body bruised, hair caked with mud, and when she tried to conjure fire from her hands- nothing happened. She felt as pathetic as she looked. Viserys would have loved to see her like this. Helpless, powerless and broken.
Oh, how she hated him. Hated the smug look he now wore. Hated how much he looked like their older brother Rhaegar, who he was nothing like. Hated how he had so drastically changed from when he was a child.
Viserys had always hated her, she knew that. He blamed her for the death of their mother. And after learning what that had meant when she was only 6 summers; she also began hating herself. If she hadn't been born, her mother would still live. Her father as well. And Viserys wouldn't be the way he was.
Rhaegar used to tell her stories about sweet young Viserys, how he used to love singing and reading. How he loved apple pies and playing with little Rhaenys. The sweet, soft, sensitive boy that Rhaegar had described was nothing like the Viserys she knew. The Viserys she knew was cruel, easily angered and violent. And mad. He was mad; that was the only explanation for his behaviour.
After their mother died in childbirth and their father, unable to live without the love of his life, took his own life. Rhaegar, as the oldest son, ascended to the Valyrian throne.
But as Viserys got older, he felt he would make a far better ruler than benevolent Rhaegar. And after the people of Valyria refused to stand with him, he travelled the whole of Essos building himself an army.
Daenerys was only ten summers when she almost lost both her brothers.
The war for the Valyrian throne was long and brutal. It lasted two whole years and only stopped when Rhaegar revealed himself to be an omega level pyrobender. He used wildfire and surrounded Viserys' army waiting for his younger brother to surrender. But Viserys didn't give up that easily. It was only after some of his men died from smoke inhalation and more than half were injured with second-degree burns that he finally gave in.
But even after giving in, Viserys didn't accept defeat. Before he could be captured he managed to escape and everyone thought they had seen the last of him.
Two moons ago, Rhaegar had died in his sleep and Aegon was set to be the next king of Valyria. Everything had been perfectly planned, and extra security had been planted around the castle in case Viserys showed up. But it obviously hadn't been enough.
Viserys had casually walked in on the day of Aegon's coronation and--
She closed her eyes and choked back a sob. Dragon or not, she was allowed to cry for her now dead loved ones. Her entire family. And she cried for her beautiful Valyria, for they now had a monster as their king. And she cried because she knew- while Viserys was still alive; she could never go back there.
And that's when she heard it. A scream.
It came from the forest behind her and she sniffed, wiping away her tears. It sounded like a child or a woman's scream, and then she heard a loud roar. It sent further chills down her spine.
Someone; a child or woman, was obviously in trouble. And she had to do something. But what?
She looked at her hands again and tried to conjure flames- but was only rewarded with a tiny spark.
"Dammit!" She cursed.
The screams got closer and without thinking about it very much, Daenerys grabbed a small rock and a stick, and limped into the forest. Again, wincing in pain with every step she took.
She definitely wasn't in Essos. It didn't have that many trees. And was that... snow? She had never seen snow before. In painted pictures yes- but never in person. But before she lost herself in its beauty, she spotted a figure running in her direction. She readied her rock but as the figure got closer- she saw it was only a little girl running her way. And behind the girl, was the biggest dog- no bear Daenerys had ever seen. It roared, and the girl screamed again.
Daenerys, realizing her only weapon would probably be useless against the giant bear, picked up another stick. This one was thicker and longer.
"Hurry!" She screamed to the girl hoping she spoke the common tongue. But this only seemed to distract the girl, as she tripped on a root and fell. Throwing her only weapons away and ignoring the pain, Daenerys hurried to the girl and helped her up, "Are you alright?"
"I didn't mean to, I just wanted to ride Starfyre and-"
The bear was now only a few feet from them. Daenerys gulped and pushed the girl behind her tiny frame. She could hear the girl muttering something about 'old gods and forgiveness' while she tried to think fast. She closed her eyes and pictured flames. She pictured them coming out of her hands and then igniting her entire body. She wasn't an omega level pyrobender, but she was pretty gifted.
And when she opened her eyes, orange-red flames danced in her hands and were reflected in her eyes. She directed the flames to the huge animal and heard it roar in pain. She didn't want to kill it, but injure it so she and the girl could escape. The animal fought for a short while before deciding it had had enough and ran in the opposite direction, whimpering softly.
Daenerys blinked and her eyes returned to their usual shade of violet, and she turned to the girl behind her.
"Are you alright?"
The girl's eyes were wide as saucers, but she gave a tiny nod.
"Do you live nearby? You should really run back home before it comes back again," Daenerys said to the grey-eyed girl. She looked up and saw it was getting darker. She also needed to find herself shelter for the night and maybe some berries to fill her empty stomach.
"I came by horse. But Starfyre ran the moment she saw the bear," The girl said shakily. Daenerys noticed her accent was unlike any she had ever heard before. "She's never been the courageous type, my Starfyre. Father says she's even afraid of her own shadow,"
"So, you're going to walk home? Is it safe?"
"The castle isn't too far from here, I've walked greater distances," The girl shrugged.
Daenerys frowned at that. The girl didn't look older than 10 summers and her parents allowed her to walk great distances without any adults watching over her? And with a cowardly horse?
"You live in a castle?" Daenerys asked slowly. The girl didn't look like someone who lived in a castle. She was in a thin, plain brown dress and her long black hair feel freely on her back. Maybe she was a servant’s child- but something about the way she spoke and stood made Daenerys think otherwise.
The girl nodded, "Aye, in Winterfell."
Why did that sound familiar to her? Of course, Winterfell in Westeros! She was in Westeros! But that meant she had to find shelter fast, before the wolfmen started hunting.
"I'm Rayna by the way. Rayna Stark" The girl introduced herself and started walking east. Daenerys found herself following. She at least needed to make sure the girl- Rayna got home safe before she looked for shelter for herself.
"I'm Dae- erm. Dany Vasi" She didn’t know where the Vasi came from. But it just sounded right.
"Nice to meet you Lady Dany. And thank you for saving me." Rayna blushed. "Father won't be too happy I snuck out again, almost getting myself eaten by a bear" She sighed, kicking a rock.
Daenerys almost scoffed at the 'Lady Dany' part. She didn't exactly look like a lady right now, but she gathered Rayna was just trying to be polite. "Do you sneak out a lot?"
"Only when I'm bored and my sister has lessons," Rayna said gloomily. "How did you do that? You know, make fire come out of your hands," She quickly changed the subject.
"I- erm" Daenerys started and turned to Rayna, "I need you to make me a promise, Rayna. What you saw me do, promise me you will never tell anyone about it, ever. No one can find out." Pyrobenders weren't common, and once word got out about a woman who chased away a bear with fire, Viserys would find her in an instant. And she didn’t want to think about what he’d do to her when he did.
"Please," Daenerys begged.
"Are you running from bad men, Lady Dany?" Rayna asked, tilting her head, and Daenerys smiled sadly at the smart little girl.
"Promise you won't tell a soul?"
Rayna hesitated before giving Daenerys a smile, "You saved my life, so I promise"
The two walked in silence for some time before Rayna turned to Daenerys, "Where are you from Lady Dany?"
"Erm... Volantis" Daenerys answered. It was the first city that came to mind.
"Really? Our castle healer, Lady Talisa is also from Volantis" Rayna said, "How did you get here?"
"By, erm- by ship, with my friends. But there was a storm and I got washed up on the beach," Daenerys answered and that could actually be the truth. Maybe Upper Gaelon had put her in a ship and there had been a storm, that's why she was there. "And are you not cold?"
Rayna shook her head, "Girls of the North only feel the cold after they bleed"
"Oh," Daenerys nodded. Must be nice.
They walked till Daenerys noticed the trees were thinning out, meaning they were almost out of the forest. She suspected if Rayna was on her own- she would have made it home by now. But Daenerys’ limping was slowing them down. She wrapped her arms around herself shivering softly. It seemed the closer they were to exiting the forest, the colder it got.
"We're almost there," Rayna smiled apologetically. "We can get you warm clothes, food and Lady Talisa can treat your wounds"
"Oh, Rayna. I can't- I'm only taking you to the edge of the forest where you can see your home. I need to find shelter for the night,"
"You can come stay with us, father won't mind. And you saved my life, he'd be delighted to host you. Please, Lady Dany. This forest isn't safe at night, and I'd worry too much if you were alone,"
She thought of the wolfmen and gave in, "Alright, but only for one night. And are you sure your father won't mind?"
"I promise. He'll be too busy being mad at me for sneaking out,"
"Why do you do it? Sneak out I mean,"
"I'm--I'm not like my older sister. She can do things, I can't. And she'd rather spend her time reading and staying indoors and having lessons while all I want to do is ride Starfyre and play."
"She can do things you can't?"
"She has gifts from the Old Gods, like you and your fire. Everyone in my family has them, except for me. Grandmother says I'm young and they can still come, but- I know they won't, she's just saying that because she's my grandmother," Rayna sighed sadly.
Daenerys understood her pain, Viserys was also the only Targaryen who hadn't been able to manipulate fire, and that also led to his madness. Amidst the cruelty, she had seen he was very hurt and saddened by it. She wanted to make Rayna feel better, but like with Viserys, she didn't know how.
"There, that's Winterfell," The girl smiled when they finally reached the edge of the forest.
Daenerys looked up and gasped.
Winterfell was beautiful. It looked straight out of a kid's mythical storybook. But she didn’t admire it for long.
Daenerys didn't need to ask what Rayna was 'uh ohing' about. Six riders carrying banners with a wolf sigil were riding their way, and a massive white wolf was leading the charge. Were these the wolfmen?
"We need to run," Daenerys said. But felt daft immediately after the words left her mouth. She was barefoot, injured and where would they run to that the wolfmen wouldn’t find them.
"No Lady Dany, I know them"
The men were getting closer. "You know them?"
"That's my father and his men," Rayna said and Daenerys let out a breath of relief. But it was short lived. A man with black hair tied back jumped from his still moving horse and ran to Rayna. He scooped her in for a tight hug and Daenerys didn't fail to notice his wet eyes.
"You scared me, Littlest Wolf," He whispered in her ear, but Daenerys caught it.
"I'm so sorry, father"
The huge white wolf stalked towards Daenerys, red eyes glowing and teeth bared. She tried to back away, but the other riders finally dismounted their horses and two yanked Daenerys' arms.
"Ow," She cried and tried to escape their strong grasp. "Let me go!"
"Uncle Grenn! Uncle Pyp! Please, let her go! She's my friend! She saved my life!" Rayna cried, jumping out of her father's arms. But the men paid no attention to her and tied Daenerys' hands behind her back. They did so, so roughly, Daenerys sprained a wrist. "Father! Tell them to stop! They're hurting her!"
"Who are you?" Rayna's father asked Daenerys, slowly walking towards her and mirroring the actions of the white wolf. His voice was deeper than she expected, and he had the same accent as Rayna.
"I mean no trouble, really- I was just-"
"I asked who you are, not anything more"
"I'm Dany." She choked out.
"You think she's a Wildling?" One of the men asked.
“A Wildling wearing this? Not a chance- mayhaps she’s one of Maeve’s brothel girls”
"She's not, Uncle Grenn! She's from Volantis and she saved my life!" Rayna shouted.
"Volantis?" Scoffed the one who tied Daenerys’ hands together.
"Jon?" The Uncle Grenn fellow asked looking at Rayna's father. Whose eyes were locked on Daenerys. She felt naked under his gaze. Like he had stripped her bare and could see right to her soul. But she was also paralyzed by his eyes. They were grey like his daughter’s, but a darker shade of grey. So dark, they almost looked black. Daenerys had never seen anything like it, but at the same time, they seemed so familiar. Like she had seen them before. Got lost in them before. It was strange.
"Untie her," He said, his eyes still locked on Daenerys.
"Are you sure-"
"I said untie her Pyp," He growled. Actually, growled- but Daenerys wasn't frightened by the sound. Strangely enough, it was comforting, and sent pleasant sensations down her body. Gods, the pain must be making her delirious.
Then he did something she had not expected, he took off his cloak and put it around her body. She thinks she whispered a small thank you, but he didn't say anything in return- so mayhaps she didn't.
"And give her your horse,"
"I'm not going to fight with you Pyp,"
"Whatever you say, your highness," Pyp spat and helped Daenerys up the monstrous horse. "Don't try anything, sweetheart," He said to Daenerys. She wanted to roll her eyes at this, she was cold, barefoot, and injured- why would she run? And where would she run to?
Rayna ran to her father and hugged him, "Thank you father,"
"Aye, but I'm not done with you yet. You and I are having a long talk when we get home," Jon said and Rayna grimaced. He climbed onto his horse and helped Rayna up.
As they rode to the castle, Daenerys couldn't help but take in the beautiful scenery they passed by. It had also started snowing and she was thankful for the cloak Jon had given her. She hugged it tighter around her body, savouring in its warmth. It smelled of pine, snow and something Daenerys couldn't quite place. But she liked it.
When the castle gates were only a few feet away, Daenerys began feeling anxious. What if Jon changed his mind and decided to have her kill or imprisoned? Or what if-
"Rayna!" She heard and saw a beautiful older woman run towards them. Daenerys watched as Rayna got off her father's horse and ran to the woman.
"Grandmother!" She cried, and they embraced.
Pyp helped Daenerys down her horse again and she gave him a small smile.
He didn't return it.
"You almost worried your poor grandmother into an early grave! I was of paramind with fear" The woman cried, hugging Rayna tighter, "When Starfyre returned on her own, we feared the worst! I'm so glad you're okay,"
"This is Lady Dany, grandmother. She was the one who saved my life,"
Daenerys' face flushed as all eyes turned to her. She wanted to bury herself in Jon's cloak, but instead, she gave the grandmother a smile. Then she was tackled into a hug.
"We're forever in your debt! Thank you," The woman cried.
"Your Highness, urgent news from White Habour," A stout man in long robes said, bowing his head to Jon.
Your Highness? Daenerys almost got whiplash turning her neck to Jon.
She thought Pyp was just being sarcastic when he said it. But of course, looking at Jon- King Jon, Daenerys felt foolish for missing it.
The clothes he wore, the way he stood, spoke, the air around him. Jon was every inch a king. And she didn't know if that made her feel better or worse.
"Marya, please take our guest to one of the empty rooms. Make sure she's bathed and dressed appropriately for dinner," Jon commanded. “I’ll send Lady Talisa to check on her wounds”
An old woman with a kind face stepped forward and gave King Jon a bow, "Right away, my king" Then she walked towards Daenerys, "Come," She smiled, and Daenerys followed her.
Rayna gave a small wave and everyone in the compound was still looking at Daenerys in curiosity. And she couldn't help but stare back. The people of the North were unlike anything she had ever seen or imagined before.
Everything, from the way they styled their hair to the shoes they wore, was foreign to Daenerys. The Valyrians had thought themselves to be grand people, but even they didn't measure up to this.
Some of the women had their hair half-up, half-down with gold and silver ornaments trodden in their hair. Daenerys could make out roses and insects as she walked past them. Others had it swept up with tall confections of ribbons and feathers. And the dresses they wore were even more beautiful. They were all intricately designed, with fabric flowers, patterns, sequins and metal ornaments adorning the thick materials.
In Essos dresses were simple; they were sheer and flowy and light- appropriate from the weather. But here they were thick and extravagant. And the colours stood out stunningly against the pure white snow background. The women also had this hardened beauty about them. Like they could go from picking flowers and smiling sweetly to wielding a sword to running to battle.
The men of the North were also not to be outdone, most wore huge cloaks- similar to the one she was currently donning, but the furs were different colours and they also had gold and silver ornaments embellished in the long cloaks. And they seemed to be matching with the women next to them.
"This way, m'lady,"
"Erm- just Dany," Daenerys said, finally tearing her eyes off the Northerners and smiling at Marya.
"Oh, I couldn't." Marya shook her head. They had now entered the castle, which was much bigger than Daenerys had expected. It seemed almost endless. Just how many people lived here? It was easily twice the size of the castle in Valyria. And she had also noticed it was much warmer inside. Marya led her into a large room and closed the doors behind her. "Wait here while I fetch the hot water,"
Daenerys nodded, and the woman walked out of the room. She let out a breath when she was finally able to rest her leg. She looked around the room and noticed, though it was big and grand like the rest of the North it seemed, it was also very empty. It had a fireplace, a huge bathing tub, a bed and a table with drawers and a huge mirror. She turned her body towards the mirror and grimaced when she saw her reflection.
She looked bad. No wonder the Northerners kept staring.
Tangled hair, muddy hair and face, red nose and tired eyes. The only thing that looked good was the cloak she was wearing, and that wasn't even hers. It belonged to Jon. King Jon.
Oh, what a day she's had. And it wasn't even over yet.
"Hello," she heard and turned to see a slightly older version of Rayna, but a much younger and female version of King Jon. This must be Rayna's older sister. She was as beautiful as Rayna and she wore a gold headpiece that looked like a crown on her head. Her dress was gold and more extravagantly made than the ones Daenerys had seen in the compound. The look reminded Daenerys of a song about beautiful golden birds. The girl also had a large box next to her.
"Hi," Daenerys smiled.
"I'm Eliyana, Ray told me what you did for her. Thank you," The girl said and walked to give Daenerys a tight hug. "If only I had been there,” She said softly and Daenerys didn’t say anything because she suspected Eliyana was just thinking out loud. And what could she have done against a huge bear? She wasn’t that much bigger than Rayna. “I can't believe you really used two sticks to chase a bear away" This she voiced louder.
"It wasn't a very big bear," Daenerys lied.
"That's what Ray said," The girl laughed. "This is for you-" She picked up the box. "I made it myself- with some help from the royal dressmaker, but I hope you like it. It was meant for-" She started and shook her head, handing Daenerys the large box. "It doesn't matter. It would look better on you anyway."
"You really didn't have to," Daenerys said and opened the box. "Oh, Eliyana this is beautiful." She gasped. And it truly was. It was a gown similar to Eliyana’s very own, only differing in colour. This one was velvety red with black sequins running down the sides.
"I'm glad you like it. Well, I'll see you at dinner." She smiled and turned as a beautiful tall woman knocked on the door.
"Princess Eliyana" The woman smiled, bowing her head slightly to Eliyana who smiled back and left the room. “Lady Dany, I’m Talisa. I’m here to tend to your wounds,”
As the woman got closer, Daenerys noticed the huge scars on her face. Three to be precise. They looked like claw marks. The largest ran from her right eyebrow right across to her left cheek. They were so prominent she didn’t know how she had missed them from afar. But the woman was still stunning, exotically so. The scars did nothing to deter that. Daenerys realized she was staring and quickly looked away.
“I’m sorry, that was rude” She blushed.
“Oh don’t worry. I’ve grown used to it.” Talisa smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “Now, how can I help”
“Er, my thigh, and I somehow sprained my wrist,” Daenerys said, looking at her wrist which was now an ugly yellow-y colour.
“Let’s start with the wrist, then we’ll deal with the thigh,” Lady Talisa said. She worked on Daenerys’ wrist, rubbing salves on it and gently massaging it. “So, I hear you’re also from Volantis?”
“Er yes, all this is very different” Daenerys looked around the room.
“Oh, you have no idea,” Talisa laughed as she began working on Daenerys thigh. “I just need to wash this, then I’m going to give you some herbs to drink while I sew it shut, and some salts to put in your bathing water to help relax the muscles.”
Daenerys nodded, and Talisa began washing the wound. Talisa must have magic hands, or the herbs she was given to drink were really strong because Daenerys didn’t feel any pain as the woman began sewing and treating her wound.
“Done, any pain should be gone by tonight, but no strenuous activities till then. You need to rest,”
“I will, and thank you Lady Talisa. Truly, I feel much better already” And she did. Much better.
“You’re welcome and thank you for saving Ray. I swear Jon gets a grey hair every time she pulls something like this.” Talisa laughed, and Daenerys couldn’t help but give a small smile, she also noticed how she referred to King Jon as just Jon instead of King Jon. “And at the rate she’s going- he’ll have a full set of grey hair by his 4th decade,”
“Ah, Lady Talisa” Marya greeted as she entered the room once again, but this time with four friendly faces carrying huge buckets. They bowed their heads to Talisa and Dany and proceeded to slowly pour the water into the bathing tub and also tossed in wildflowers.
“She’s all yours Marya, and I gave her salts to help relax her muscles. Well, I need to refill my stockroom, I’ll see you two at dinner” Talisa said and walked out of the room.
Marya smiled and walked to Daenerys, "Let me help you undress and wash your hair.”
Daenerys nodded and Marya helped her out of the large cloak and out of what was left of her dress. Out of habit, she first dipped her toes into the water then gradually her entire body.
The water felt magical. It was just the right temperature and Daenerys quickly got comfortable.
"Is it not to hot my lady?"
"It's lovely Marya," Daenerys sighed in contentment.
Marya then attended to Daenerys' hair. Washing the mud off and massaging her scalp. Daenerys had never felt anything so relaxing. Her handmaidens back home sometimes did this, but it never felt this satisfying. Marya's fingers were a gift.
"You have such beautiful hair. I've never met anyone with hair this long and pale," Marya said and began humming an unfamiliar song as she continued to wash Daenerys' hair.
"Is the king going to kill me?" Daenerys asked in a small voice.
"Did he say he was going to kill you?"
"Well no, but-"
"Then he's not going to kill you. You saved his daughter's life. And we're all thankful for that, the king especially. The king is a man of his word, Lady Dany, and with Northerners, their word is their bond." The woman answered.
"Are you not a Northerner?" Daenerys asked noticing how Marya didn't say 'us Northerners'.
"No m'lady. I was born in Flea Bottom. But I've worked for King Jon since he was chosen as king"
Daenerys didn't know where Flea Bottom was, so she just nodded. And Jon was chosen as king? She knew Westeros had different methods of naming kings and even though she wasn't familiar with them, she was impressed with Jon. He still looked so young and he was already a king. He reminded her of sweet Aegon. Her heart clenched, and she bit away the tears threatening to fall. It wasn't the right time.
After her bath, Marya helped her dry herself and her hair. Daenerys noticed a fire had been started in the fireplace and the room was much warmer.
She put on the dress Eliyana had given her and Marya helped her with her hair. Braiding it then leaving it to fall freely on her back. She added a few golden roses on the sides and stepped back to admire her work.
"You look like a proper Northern lady, now," Marya smiled.
Daenerys turned to look at herself in the mirror and smiled. She did look like one of the ladies from the compound, and she dare say- even better. Her dress was floor length and hugged her body like a glove. The top of her shoulders were bare and her arms were covered fully. The sequins running down the sides of the dress somehow reminded her of dragon scales and red complimented her pale complexion beautifully. She felt majestic and positively looked the part.
"Thank you, Marya. Oh, and Marya, Eliy- um, Princess Eliyana said she had made this gown for someone else. I hope I wouldn't be offending anyone if I showed up wearing it,"
Marya smiled sadly, "You won't be offending anyone, Lady Dany. The princess is a very hopeful girl. But some things were not meant to be. It isn't really my place to talk-"
"Oh no, please, it's alright. I just didn't want to offend anyone."
Marya nodded and smiled, "Of course. I'll tell you when dinner is ready."
Then Daenerys was alone again. But not for long. Rayna entered the room and her eyes widened when she saw Daenerys.
"Wow Lady Dany, you look beautiful. Like a princess!"
"But you're the one wearing the crown," Daenerys smiled. She almost didn’t recognize Rayna. The girl was now in a lengthy silver gown, her hair was in a neat up-do, and she wore a small crown on her head.
"I only have to wear it to dinner. And thank the Gods, if I were to wear it all the time, I'd surely lose it, and father would chide me into forever-land. Even if he has also misplaced his crown a couple of times,"
Daenerys smiled and shook her head, "Have you spoken to him yet?"
"I just came from his chambers. He wasn't happy, but he's glad I'm okay. I'm not allowed out of the castle grounds for the next moon and I can't have any sugary treats for 2 weeks" Rayna pouted.
"It could have been worse," Daenerys tried to console.
"Aye," Rayna huffed, "3 weeks without sugary treats."
Daenerys laughed, and Rayna joined in.
"I know I've already said it, but thank you Lady Dany. Only the gods know where I'd be if it wasn't for you today." And she hugged Daenerys.
"You're very welcome,"
"Oh, and I’m your escort to dinner and I have some advice for you."
"Alright," Daenerys smiled as they linked arms and walked out of the room. Daenerys with a slight limp.
"Don't sit next to grandmother or Lady Marya; they force you to eat all the greens on your plate first. And don't sit next to Maester Sam, he tells you facts about everything you put in your mouth- some aren’t really proper for the dinner table. Father and Lady Talisa always talk about boring grown-up things. And don't sit next to Uncle Grenn or Pyp, they steal your meat and dessert."
"Then who can I sit next to?" Daenerys asked holding back a laugh.
"Uncle Edd is alright, though he doesn't say much. And Eliyana is also alright, but she zones out a lot. Probably warging. And my father's hand Davos tells the best stories. But the absolute bestest person to sit next to is me." Rayna finished as they walked into the dining hall.
Daenerys noticed everyone was already there and seemed to be waiting on her and Rayna.
King Jon, who was at the head of the table rose and everyone followed suit.
"Everyone, this is Lady Dany. As you know, Princess Rayna went riding very early this morning and she came across a bear, while running from it- she found Lady Dany. The lady was able to scare the bear off, saving Rayna’s life. Because of this great deed, the North is indebted to you Lady Dany. Anything you wish for shall be yours multiplied." King Jon said.
"Thank you, your highness" Daenerys bowed her head. Did he really believe she chased the bear off using a stick?
"After dinner, we can talk more about this," He added, "Everyone may be seated"
And everyone was immediately seated.
Daenerys found herself in between the two princesses and right across Marya.
"This is my hand, Ser Davos" Jon introduced looking at a friendly looking man next to Marya, "You've already met his wife, Marya. That's the castle Maester, Sam and his wife Gilly and their son Little Sam." The family gave Daenerys smiles which she returned. "That's my mother, Lady Ashara and you already know Lady Talisa, Grenn and Pyp. And I believe you've also better acquainted yourself with my other daughter Princess Eliyana." Jon concluded and Daenerys smiled and nodded.
“It’s nice to meet all of you,”
“You too, Lady Dany” Ser Davos replied.
"I really want to know how you scared a bear off. No offense my lady, but you're a twig," Grenn said getting warning looks from Lady Ashara and Jon.
"Luckily for the princess and I, the bear wasn't very huge," Daenerys said, keeping up with the lie.
"Hmmm," Grenn hummed, "Bears here in the North are born huge. Already towering over a grown man in months. So how-"
"Grenn, this isn't an interrogation. Can we please have a pleasant dinner" Lady Ashara said, coming to Daenerys' rescue.
"Of course, my lady" Grenn bowed his head. But he didn't look pleased. He turned to king Jon and the king gave him a stern look.
Daenerys picked up a grape from her plate and popped it into her mouth. It was bigger than she was used to, but still as delicious.
"You look beautiful in that dress, Lady Dany. I've already started making you a new one," Eliyana beamed. She seemed to really enjoy making dresses.
"You're extremely talented, my princess. It's truly lovely, thank you." Daenerys smiled.
The rest of the dinner was a pleasant affair. Daenerys listened as the princesses told her stories of the North and Marya's husband also shared a few funny stories about his adventures at sea. Rayna pouted when dessert was served, and she was skipped. Eliyana tried to discreetly pass her some of her lemon pie, but their father caught them. This caused the entire table to laugh and Rayna dramatically folded her arms and refused to look at anyone. But Daenerys could see the small smile on the young princess' face.
After dessert, the kids left the table- saying something about 'warging and ghosts' Daenerys didn't really catch it. The adults lingered on for a few more minutes drinking wine, then finally they all- save King Jon, bid Daenerys a good night, and left.
Two ladies came and cleared the table leaving only their wine goblets 1and another jug of wine.
King Jon then stood up and bared the doors before returning to his seat.
"So, I take it you're Princess Daenerys Targaryen," He said causing Daenerys to almost fall off her chair.
"Wh- what? How? I-"
"Rayna tried, she really did, to keep her promise to you. But I'm her father, she's never been able to successfully lie to me." Jon said, "There are no known pyrobenders in Westeros. So, with that, the eyes and hair- I was able to deduct that you're a Targaryen."
"But how did you know which one I was?"
"A raven arrived here 4 moons ago, informing me Prince Viserys had slain his niece and nephew. Apparently, his sister escaped, but the ship she boarded sunk and there were no survivors. So, everyone thinks you're dead."
"4 moons ago?" No that was impossible! How could she not remember anything? Had it really been 6 moons since Rhaegar had died? Since this nightmare began?
"Imagine my surprise when my daughter tells me her new friend could conjure fire from her hands. I knew it had to be you. And I promise you, you're safe here. No one outside this room needs to know who you really are." Jon said placing his rough, callous hands over hers. "But if you'd feel safer elsewhere, say the word and I'll make sure you get there safely and give you fresh horses and men to accompany you."
"Promise me," Daenerys choked up. "Promise me I'm safe here,"
"You have my word," Jon vowed. "And my word is my bond. I will not let anyone touch you. If you choose to stay, the North shall be your home, it's people your people. And here in the North, we protect our own."
Daenerys nodded and sniffed, "And what will you tell your people?"
"We'll add onto what they're already gossiping about. That you're from Volantis and your ship was attacked by pirates. You were thrown overboard and washed up on our shores. That's when you saw the bear heading for my daughter and you-"
"Used a stick to chase it off," Daenerys smiled and Jon laughed. She found herself hypnotized by the rich sound like a young maiden. And she decided right there, that his laugh was now her favourite sound in the world.
"Aye, but it was a small bear." He added, a smile still playing on his handsome face.
"Do you think they'll believe it?" She wouldn't.
"It’s the North, stranger things have happened. I assure you."
Daenerys nodded and began playing with her hands. "If it's also no trouble, I'd like to do something around the castle."
"Maybe take care of the girls or- I speak 5 languages. Maybe I could teach them one. You never know when you might need to speak High Valyrian, right?"
"Oh, Princess Daenerys, that I assure you, you will regret. Rayna hates lessons, of anything. Even of things she loves. She never keeps still and Maester Sam has had to bind her to a chair on several occasions. And Eliyana is the opposite, she enjoys lessons too much. And she's very hard on herself when she doesn't understand certain concepts”
Daenerys saw herself in both princesses, "I'll manage. Please, I need something to do or my mind will explode."
"We wouldn't want that now, would we. Hmmm, alright. You can take them for High Valyrian lessons."
"You won't regret it," Daenerys smiled.
"Aye, but you will." Jon smiled getting up, "Well, you've had a very tiring day. You must be exhausted. I won't keep you much longer."
"Oh, and King Jon, um, the lady of the house won't mind me giving her daughters lessons right?" Daenerys didn't know why she asked that. No, actually, she did. She didn't see the girls' mother during dinner or before and she was curious. But she instantly regretted asking as Jon's face morphed into a sour one.
"She's not around anymore" Was all he said.
"Oh, I'm so sorry. I didn't-"
"She's not dead; well I think she isn't. What I meant is, she left. This life wasn't for her, so she left."
Daenerys wanted to ask more questions but could see this was affecting Jon, so she let it go.
"Well, good night then," She bowed her head and limped out of the room. She tried to remember the way to her chambers, but the halls were too big, and every corner looked the same.
"Are you alright Lady Dany?"
It was Eliyana.
"Eliyana, I was just searching for my room,"
"Oh, I'll take you there. I know how tricky these walls can be sometimes," Eliyana smiled. She had her father's smile, Daenerys noticed.
"What do you have there?" Daenerys asked referring to the big book in her hands.
"Tales of the Long Night by Maester Pelycan. It has some of my favourite stories. It also explains how everyone got their gifts."
"Aye," Eliyana nodded. "It says that thousands of years ago, the Lion of Night escaped his prison in the heavens and freed all his demons. They descended to the world and began killing everything and everyone in their way. After thousands of their people died, the gods decided it was enough. So, they gave their people gifts so they would be able to fight off the enemy."
It was the first time Daenerys had heard this version of the story. The one Rhaegar had told her was lighter and didn’t include any of the things Eliyana mentioned.
"The gods of the Rhoynar were very peaceful gods. They gave their people the gift of healing above all. They also gave them the gift of precognition, medium-shift and the Rhoynar are also known for their ability to grow plants at a rapid rate and for their beauty. My grandmother is a Rhoynar." Eliyana smiled. "The gods of the Andals were gods of war. They gave their people strength and speed making them the fiercest warriors. They're also known for their sharp minds and strong leadership. You'd think my father was an Andal the way he fights and leads."
"He's not?" Daenerys asked as they turned a corner.
"No, our gods are the old gods. They blessed their people with the ability to be one with beasts. We can warg into-"
There was that word again. Warg.
Daenerys had never heard it before today. Eliyana must have seen the confusion in her face because she smiled and started explaining.
"Warging is the ability to enter the minds of animals and see the world through their senses and even control their actions."
"And you can do this?" Daenerys asked, and the princess nodded.
"Everyone in my family can. Except for my aunt Sansa and Ray." Eliyana said sadly. "Anyway, the old gods also gave some of their people the ability to perceive future, past, or contemporary but distant events in dreams, called greensight. My Uncle Bran and Great- aunt Lyanna have it. And girls of the North don't feel the cold till after they bleed." Then Eliyana smiled cheekily and looked up at Daenerys, "And full-blood Northern men can't lie. It's impossible for them. They can omit and deceive, but never lie. And they're always able to tell if someone else is lying."
"Wow" Was all Daenerys could say. The old gods really went all out.
"Then comes my favourite, the many gods of Essos. They say Essos has so many gods they couldn't decide on just one set of gifts to give their people. So, with help from the Maiden made of Light, they decided to give their people gifts of the four elements. Fire, water, earth and air. Air being the most powerful, was the most rare. And people grew jealous of those who possessed the gift. So, they were hunted and slaughtered like cattle. There are some people who still possess the gift, but there are less than a handful and they hide it. Fire benders are now the most powerful, only 6 families in the entire continent of Essos have been known to be pyrobenders; people who can manipulate fire. But only less than 11 are still alive."
"How do you know that?" They had arrived at her chambers, but she was still interested in Eliyana's tales.
"Maester Sam and I keep count. He has this formula he uses and has eyes and ears everywhere. Well, we've arrived. I bid you a good night Lady Dany."
"Good night, Princess Eliyana," Daenerys smiled, then entered her chambers. She was surprised to find Marya patiently sitting on her bed, and the older woman stood when she saw Daenerys.
"I came to help you out of your dress m'lady."
"Oh, Marya you really didn't need to. Really, I would have managed" Daenerys smiled, she was also thankful for the fire Marya had probably started, heating the large chambers.
"Nonsense, and my husband is having word with the king, and they tend to talk till the late hours of the night." Marya waved her off. "Now come, let me help you out of that."
Marya helped her with the dress and then into a silk nightgown.
"Thank you, Marya,"
"I heard you'll be staying with us for the foreseeable future,"
"Well, I'm glad. I think you'd be a great addition around here." She beamed. She then nodded and left the room.
Daenerys took a deep breath and slipped under the furs. Now that she was finally alone, she could think freely about the day she's had.
Viserys had killed Aegon and Rhaeyns four moons ago.
She had escaped Valyria four moons ago.
She had no recollection of what occurred during those four moons.
She was now in Westeros and she had no memory of how she got there.
Deciding to remain in Winterfell.
Her head was now pounding. She made a mental note to thank Marya for the mug and jug of water she had placed by her bedside. She drank the mug whole and refilled it.
Winterfell would be her home now. Westeros would be her home.
Valyria had been her home her entire life. Rhaegar, Aegon, Rhaenys and later, her husband, had been her home. And now they were all gone. But strangely, Daenerys didn't feel alone.
She knew she had only been in Winterfell and had only known Rayna, Eliyana, Marya and even Jon for a day, but they strangely felt like home.
She felt at home.
And that thought alone led her to a peaceful slumber.
Map of Westeros
- Jon- 28
- Dany- 26
- Rayna- 9
- Eliyana- 12
- Ashara- 48
- Talisa- 26
- Robb- 28