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Vanity

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Fire and Blood.

            Fire and Blood.

            She had found Euron Greyjoy’s fleet and burned it until there was nothing left. She had flown to the Red Keep and burned it to the ground. Olenna secured Highgarden with an escort of 5,000 Dothraki screamers. Just dozens had died in comparison to the thousands in her dreams (in her past life).

Cersei Lannister had been captured, and summarily executed after standing judgment before Daenerys, Lady Olenna, Queen Yara, and Ellaria Sand. She had asked Tyrion’s forgiveness afterward. He gave her a shaky smile, and she shared a glass of wine with him. She knew what it was like to have a monster as family.

            Cersei’s sins were too great. Great enough that she could have just burned the woman, but…

I will not be my father.

            Madness did not equate evil. And the Dragon Queen had accepted that she was a little bit mad.

            As Jon Snow stood before her, Daenerys Targaryen changed tact. She had seen what was to come, and she would not fall to him. She would not go where she was not wanted.

            “…Take the dragonglass from Dragonstone, and go. That should be enough.” The blasted North was not worth what was to befall her beloved children. Her bloodriders and the Unsullied. Her loyal and unwavering Ser Jorah. Her sweet Missandei, who would never betray her. Her Drogon, her firstborn son, who would be all alone in the world. She would be content with her Six Kingdoms. The North could have its independence, for all she cared.

A land of ice and traitors.

Jon made a step forward, opened his mouth to say something, but overhead, Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion screeched. Never before had their mother found their music so sweet. She coldly looked at this man, the King in the North.

            In a past life, perhaps, she had loved him. I am not alone, she’d thought, her heart swelling. I am not the last Targaryen. We can be a family.

Vanity of vanities, all is vanities.

            Now, she felt nothing. Only gazed upon him as one would gaze upon an acquaintance. He was still ignorant of what his true heritage was, but no doubt the crippled boy would tell him soon. “Should you survive this Night King, these White Walkers, I would love to speak about an alliance between both our kingdoms.”

Never marriage. I will never trust a man who is so easily swayed.

                        “I…” He bowed stiffly and left her.

(…)

“The North has survived their Long Night, Your Grace.” Daenerys looked up from where she sat, staring down at the debt the Crown owed the Iron Bank. Her allies had been instrumental in assisting her with it and she was planning to send Tyrion to negotiate new terms. Some wealth had been brought from Mereen: hindsight was a funny thing.

            She had ordered the Lord of Riverrun to be released (no Lannisters, no reason to be imprisoned). The price was merely to bend the knee. He had been hesitant, of course, but an apt reminder from her hand that it was the Dragon Queen that had released him was enough. Lord Arynn bending the knee had been a surprise: she was almost certain he would stand with his cousin. Perhaps his memory was long and there were things the Dragon Queen did not know about.

            She had sent the remains of the Mountain to the South, to Dorne, for the new Prince to do as he pleased with it.

Vengeance at last for Elia. For Rhaenys and Aegon.

            “The North will need food, I imagine.” Crops were difficult to grow in the North without their glass houses. They would need to ally. She could make them submit, she thought. Make them reenter the fold.

Let them stay in their barren land. I care nothing for a place where I have known such suffering and loss.

            “You would like to invite them to King’s Landing, Your Grace?”

            “They may accept the invitation, or they may not. I don’t care.” She went back to work. She had better things to do than to worry about wolf packs. To Tyrion, she inquired, “What news comes from Highgarden about the harvest?”

            “Bountiful, in spite of all the lands have suffered. King’s Landing will not starve, at least.”


 

They do accept the invitation, in the end.

            Daenerys is gracious but cold. Lady Sansa is as beautiful as she remembers.  As suspicious. She has learned her lessons and learned them well. But there is a haggardness to her, she looks a bit gray around the cheeks and the temples. Lacking an important ally would do that to you.

Fire is warmth, but I have none for you.

            “Will you demand we bend the knee?” Tully blue eyes stare at her from across the dining table. Daenerys raises her brows and the she-wolf continues, “Like you demanded of our uncle—”

            “I restored your Uncle to his seat of Riverrun, and returned his wife and child to him.” It was not a statement of pride, simply one of fact. “It was well within my rights to request he bend the knee to the person who returned his heir and power to him.” Still, she persisted.

            “But will you demand the North bend the knee?”

            “No.” There was shock on her face. Jon Snow merely let out a soft sigh. Apparently, he had told this girl (for she was a girl, for all of the metaphorical armor she wore). “The North may do as it pleases. It is free of the vow it swore to my ancestor.”

            “Perhaps we can make an alliance.” Realization dawned on Sansa Stark for what this meant for the North. Daenerys’ assumption was correct: their glass houses had been decimated. Their people would starve. “My brother is unmarried—”

            “Speaking respectfully, Lady Sansa…” The young woman’s head snapped around to stare at Missandei, who barely hid an amused smile, “Her Grace has already promised to wed Prince Quentyn of Dorne, as his sister, Arianne, is heir.”

            Daenerys gazed upon them. Then, she smiled.

            “…I will assist the North.” She would show them that she had a long memory. But that she was a Queen of mercy. “House Targaryen has brought suffering to House Stark, and I will see that debt repaid.” But once it is, you will be on your own. You want your independence? Have it.

            “And when that time is up?”

            The Queen gave a shrug. A smile. “The North was prosperous before. I am sure that the King in the North and the Lady of Winterfell can ensure that will be again.”

            The elephant in the room comes up.

            “Your Grace…” Jon Snow’s eyes widen, and he glares at his sister.

            “Don’t.”

            “You have a better claim than her.” The red-haired woman stares at Daenerys. The Queen merely smiles, then turns to Jon Snow.

            “Tell me, nephew. Do you want the throne?” They seem astonished that she already knows.

            “I never have.”

            “Good.” She turns to Sansa Stark. “Keep this knowledge to yourselves, then.” There was a silent threat behind her words. The North did not have the resources or the power to press his claim. Dorne would never side with the son of Lyanna Stark, the Ironborn and House Tyrell were loyal. Storm's End had gone to Gendry Baratheon, who Daenerys had sought out and legitimized. The Vale and the Riverlands were hers. 

            The she-wolf looks enraged, but dragons have never cared for the opinions of sheep.


 

            Jon Snow and Sansa Stark return to the North after two weeks. Daenerys sends them with grain and other resources and hopes quietly she will never see them again. A tiny part of her wishes, as she walks through the Red Keep, flanked by bloodriders, that things had been different. That she had gone blindly into this alliance and fell for the mysterious and honorable Jon Snow again.

            The doors open and Prince Quentyn turns to face her. He smiles, and dimples appear in his golden-brown skin.

But that was this life, and now I must live another.

            The Queen smiles back.