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DAENERYS

 

She jolted awake and looked around in panic. Her hysteria grew when she saw that she was in a dark room lit with candles and surrounded by people wearing red hoods chanting something in a strange tongue that she had never heard before.

 

"You're awake," someone said. A woman with a soft voice and a musical lilt with each word she said. "Your dragon brought you to the Dothraki sea. We were already waiting for you."

 

Her heart beat faster and she suddenly felt like she couldn't breathe. She felt a sharp pain close to her heart. Shaky fingers reached for her heart and she felt a scab. Her mind flooding with of memories that would soon rather forget;

 

She was in the throne room which was destroyed, she saw the symbol of the power of her House, Jon...Jon Snow.

 

He...he stabbed me. As soon as that thought took root in her mind, she burst into laughter. She threw her head back and laughed. It was a terrible sound even to her own ears. When her laughter subsided, she scanned the room once more. It wasn't really a room, she noticed. It was a tent and there were twelve people around her. Twelve people in red. Twelve Red Priests and Priestesses. Servants of the Red god.

 

The one who looked to be the leader cocked her head. It was eerie, but after what had happened to her, nothing scared her anymore.

 

"The Lord of Light brought you back as a reward for being one of his champions against the Great Other."

 

Dany heard her, but her mind was in Westeros...along with her heart and soul.

 

He killed me. I gave him the entirety of me and... he killed me.

 

Dany never let herself be seen as she truly was with people she didn't know, but in this tent, she was as naked as the day she was born and she didn't have it in her to be strong anymore so she buried her face in the palms of her hands and she wept. From the deepest trenches of whatever was left of her, she wept.

 

 


KINVARA

 

She was older than most of the known world. She had been alive when the First Men had left for Westeros and when Valyria was the ruling empire of the world. She'd seen its doom. She had seen the rise and fall of many kingdoms, fiefdoms and empires. She had seen hope and she had seen despair. She had seen victory and triumph. She had been kept alive by the mercies of the Lord of Light and one of the greatest miracles that she had ever seen or heard of was the Mother of Dragons coming out of the pyre she had lit unscathed. Not even the most powerful of them had experienced that wonder. Daenerys Stormborn was special. The Chosen One. And she had done what the Lord had rebirthed her to do. That is why she had been taken aback by what she saw in the flames merely two moons ago. She had informed her people and they had set out to Vaes Dothrak to await the return of the Dragon Queen.

 

When the dragon had brought them her lifeless body, they stripped her of all she was wearing and got to work.

 

A girl, Kinvara had thought. The formidable mother of dragons looked nothing more than a flowering girl as she lay lifeless on the stones. She was small of stature and had a beauty so striking, it made one's heart ache. The last scion of Old Valyria and House Targaryen. Kinvara had caressed her cheek lovingly and sorrowfully while she chanted in an ancient tongue. The other eleven priests and priestesses had joined in.

 

A little while after that, the silverhaired queen had shot up looking frantic and with a mad glint in her eye; looking around to get familiar with her surroundings and when all seemed fine, she laughed. It wasn't a sound of mirth. It was a broken song. That sound soon changed to one of anguish and bitterness.

 

Her heart went out to the Queen. All she saw was a young girl who had nothing to live for anymore. Many lifetimes ago, in a world so far away that she could barely remember, she had known a broken heart and she knew then like she knew now that only a broken heart could express such pain and despair. The utter loneliness of it made her wave the others away while she waited for the Queen to cry to her heart's content. Nothing she could say would make it better. But maybe having someone with no ill intentions towards her would provide some much needed comfort for Daenerys.

 

 


TORMUND

 

"Snow. Ice. Fire. Dragons. Dany...," those words kept being repeated over and over again in the same dull tune. Like a prayer. It was happening more frequently as time went by. Usually, it was either accompanied by a chuckle or a sob. He worried for his friend.

 

Jon thought he didn't know about his midnight treks into the forest, but he'd been keeping a keen eye on the lad since he returned from the south to where he truly belonged; with the Free Folk.

 

Jon wasn't the same man who had left to go south with the Dragon Queen. There was something dark and hollow that had returned with him. Something that didn't belong in him and if it wasn't closely watched, it could transform into a disease that would eat him alive from the inside.

 

Tormund sighed. Women. He too had lost a great love. The big woman. He tried to cheer Jon up with his own stories of wronged love, but those words were wasted on deaf ears. He would never have known what had happened if he hadn't forced Jon into drinking fermented goat's milk one night. That night, a very drunk Jon had loose lips and what a tale those lips spoke of. It had horrified Tormund for his sake. Not because killing lovers was unheard of, but because it killed something so true to Jon that where the man once was, only a husk remained.

 

He had seen the Dragon Queen. She didn't look like she belonged in Westeros. She didn't look like she belonged in this world. In Winterfell, she had looked as out of place as the Others had in the realms of men. She had a strange sort of beauty. But she had made his little crow happier than he could remember. She had looked at him like he was her whole world. But that love wasn't enough and when it was time to choose, love had to die to save the seven kingdoms.

 

Tormund didn't understand that type of honour, but it was something that had broken his friend. Something that was clawing away at his mind. Something that made him wander deeper and farther away from their travelling group more often than not. He wished he could change it, but the torment was Jon's alone to bear and it was something that clung to Jon even tighter than his furs. Something that brought out a wildness in him as it pushed away the humanity that had made him such a great king. Madness and humanity fought to possess him and more and more, Jon gave in to the madness just so he could be with his Dany.

 

 


JON

 

He felt the presence of Ghost before he heard him come to settle down near him. Jon could taste the blood of his kill on his tongue. He was getting better at warging. It was the only time he wasn't haunted by Dany's ghost. His body might be withering away, but his belly was always full. Ghost nudged him with his snout and he absently scratched the direwolf behind its ear.

 

She was here with him again. His breath hitched when he remembered her look of childlike wonder and absolute trust in him before he...

 

He couldn't bring himself to finish that sentence. Not even to himself and so he began his conversation with her to tell her how he was and to ask her how she was doing like he should have done when she was still the Dany he knew, but all he could say was, "Snow. Ice. Fire. Dragons. Dany...,"

 

He shut his eyes tight at the mention of her name. He willed himself to remember her. All of her. Her smile. Her will. Her voice. Her body.

 

She had commanded great authority, but whenever she was alone with him, she'd let the mask drop and he had seen that there was still an innocence and idealism to her. He smiled despite himself. She was talking to him now. Teasing him in High Valyrian. That mischief in her eyes. He reached out to comb through her beautiful hair. Full and soft and silky.

 

He used to loosen her braids and grab her hair to expose her neck to his tongue and teeth. He loved - had loved - how tiny she was. She fit just right with him. He wasn't a tall man, but he towered over Dany and was big enough to overcome her space whenever they got intimate with one another.

 

Her smell... What did she smell like? He searched his brain, but that piece of information was just out of his reach. He got up and ran to his tent; throwing things out of his trunk until he got to one of the ties she used to use for her hair. He inhaled deeply. Exotic oils, lavender and lemons. He clutched the tie and held it closely to his heart.

 

Her heart. He remembered that as well. Sweet Dany with a heart as selfless as anyone could have. That's where I stabbed her.He thought as his face contorted in pain. He stumbled out of the tent and went straight for the woods again. This time he retched.

 

He took a swig of wine from the animal skin that was never far from him and rinsed his mouth.

 

I did the right thing, he affirmed to himself. She was...she was going to murder more innocent lives and I had to do my duty. I needed to. I needed...Dany!

 

His thoughts always trailed back to her name. He called out to her again. He needed to see her. To be with her. To hear her voice. To tease her. To fuck her. To love her.

 

The voices in his head were becoming louder; regret, pain, justification, duty, honour, betrayal, lust, love, hate. All of it. Each one stronger than the last. Each one fighting for the ownership of his soul. He hated himself more than anything. And he hated her for what she had become and what she'd made him do.

 

Silence

 

The ground was soft and wet under his feet...no that wasn't right. Under his paws. He was Ghost and Ghost was him. Here, she couldn't haunt him. Here, he had peace.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

She was sore. From head to toe. She felt dead inside. She wished she had been left to rest in peace. For all she knew, she had been asleep. A dreamless sleep until Drogon intervened. Her whole body stung; from where the dagger had found its place to the claw marks on her body when Drogon carried her. At least she was clean. Bathed, clothed and cared for. It didn't matter. She felt the stickiness of death on her skin, still. A fresh wave of despair washed over her and she let it.

 

Kinvara, the First Servant of R'hollor, had hardly left her side. She always sat in silence observing Dany and tending to her in an almost motherly fashion.

 

What was it? A fortnight now? A moon's turn? It made no matter. Time was nothing if it all led to the same end.

 

They barely said words to each other, yet Dany was thankful for her presence.

 

"I failed," Dany began. "I failed the people who believed in me. Jorah, Missandei, Grey Worm...and when things got too hard, I held on too strongly and I destroyed everything. I murdered where I should have protected. The thing I feared the most befell me."

 

"Everything happens for a reason," Kinvara said calmly, "Whatever you did brought you here."

 

If she could, she would have laughed. That's what she used to tell herself, but look what happened. She'd lost her armies, her dragons, her friends, her dignity, her legacy, her life, her ... love. Because she believed in herself and her vision and would stop at nothing to bring it to realization.

 

Jon killed me, her breathing became heavier as she thought of him. He said he loved me. I trusted him and killed me.

 

"Yes, but now you're here. Alive. With a dragon and two more on the way," Kinvara said.

 

At first, Dany tried to remember if she had wondered aloud and then slowly, the Red Woman's words came alive in her.

 

What?

 

"What?"

 

"You're with child. With twins," Kinvara said with that strange smile of hers.

 

Dany's head spun until everything was black.

 

Chapter Text

DAENERYS

 

She hissed in pain when a thorne of one of the dry shrubs scraped her skin. This again. She was back where she had started.

 

She walked aimlessly on a disappearing path that was slowly being overrun by ghost grass. She plucked several blades of the grass and smiled at memories of a past lifetime.

 

Moon of my life. She shut her eyes close to stop the tears from running. Drogo. She hadn't thought of him for some time. Not in years except sparingly and even more rarely when she'd sailed to Westeros.

 

Her heart constricted painfully. She shut the thought of Westeros down and focused on Drogo. It had been a nightmare in those early days, but they had grown to love each other. She'd found her strength with him and for that she was grateful. He'd also given her a child. Well, almost. She'd been overcome with the joy at the thought of being a mother at the time. Now, she didn't care.

 

No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't bring herself to be happy about her current state. She already had one reminder of Jon on her. A permanent mark near her heart and now, not one, but two people who were half him were coming into the world through her.

 

She felt nothing, but the discomfort that came with being with child.

 

Moontea, that dark voice in her head whispered.

 

It repulsed her and the idea went away as quickly as it came.

 

Try as she might, no matter what lies she had to tell herself to muster up the courage to face each new day, she couldn't bring herself to hate him. She couldn't bring herself to rid of the fruit of their time together. Despite the lack of love or happiness she felt when it came to the children in her, she couldn't bring herself to let go of him no matter how much pain it brought her.

 

She touched the scar he gave her. A bitter memory, but a memory nonetheless.

 

Despite the betrayal she felt, she wasn't blind to the part she played in her downfall.

 

A bitter laugh escaped her.

 

She failed because she listened. She failed because everyone around her made her feel like she was her father. She failed because she feared becoming like her father and for that, she became indecisive. She failed because she wanted it all, had it all, but it all turned out too good to be true. She couldn't find it in herself to be angry with anyone or anything so she escaped into herself; into the void where she felt nothing and just stared blankly at the horizon.

 

 


BRAN

 

Murmurs of "Your Grace" filled the room as the council meeting ended.

 

Some of them on the council feared him. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered except the memories that life made.

 

His mind began to wonder again. He thought about the dragon and went to it.

 

There was a familiar presence there with it. He prodded further and saw a familiar face. Daenerys Targaryen. She was alive. In Essos. Surrounded by a malevolent presence. And she was heavy with child.

 

Jon's child, he thought. They have to know.

 

"Podrick," Bran called.

 

"Yes, m'lord? Pardon me...Your Grace."

 

"Gather the Council. I have something to tell them."

 

"Yes, Your Grace."

 

 

TYRION

 

With every word Bran said, Tyrion's heart fell. She was alive and with a living dragon. Pregnant with Jon's child and protected by Red Witches.

 

Just when he thought that the realm could finally have some peace.

 

Nothing had torn Westeros apart more than matters of succession. It's why Daenerys had begun her campaign all those years ago and now, not only was she alive, she had a child on the way. One that he knew she would stop at nothing to protect.

 

They both had to die.

 

Hypocrite, he chided himself. When all the world around him fell silent, he could admit the truth to himself. He'd only ever wanted to see the look on Cersei's face when he showed her that he had won. That there was another queen more worthy than she was. He wanted revenge for what his family did to him, but in the end, he couldn't bring himself to do anything because deep down, all he ever wanted was acceptance from his family and Daenerys had stood in the way of that.

 

He had taken advantage of Jon's honour and the absolute trust that Daenerys had had in Jon to eliminate her from the game. He, Tyrion, had been the beginning and cause of her downfall, that much he could admit.

 

He poured himself a glass of the arbor's finest and toasted to the gods for fucking him over one more time.

 

This news couldn't get to Jon. Bran had been following his brother. Unsurprisingly, the wildlings had taken him away from the Wall and accepted him as one of their own. Not even the honourable Jon Snow could sit alone in an ice waste for the rest of his life. But Bran had said that Jon was no longer Jon. The poor sod. He liked Jon Snow and in another life, he would have made a great king. He and Daenerys would have been a great pair for Westeros before everything fell apart.

 

In Bran's words, Jon was wasting away to grief and guilt. He still loved her and if word ever got to him about her, then only the gods could stop them from burning the world, his world, down in vengeance or misguided repentance.

 

"Jon can't know about this," Tyrion told Bran.

 

"Why?"

 

"They'll come for us."

 

"So what do you propose we do about her?" Ser Davos asked.

 

"The only thing we can do. Kill her," Samwell replied.

 

 

THE ONION KNIGHT

 

He was weary. Things had happened so quickly. The good and then the bad and then the unthinkable. He'd been wracked with guilt since the time that they had arrived in Winterfell.

 

The North hadn't taken to the Dragon Queen the way Jon Snow had. He'd seen how much of a blow it had been to her pride, but she bore it all for Jon's sake. Jon too had been put in a difficult position. The North had lost its respect for him, but he'd stood by what he thought was right because he truly believed in and loved his queen.

 

Davos had witnessed all the stages of the Jon and Daenerys union even until its bitter end. A simple marriage would have been the solution, but all his suggestions had fallen on the deaf ears of the Queen's counsellors. Sometimes, he wondered if they had brought her here just to destroy her.

 

Mayhaps he should have taken the matter to Jorah while he still lived. But he had thought it cruel to suggest such a thing to a man who was so clearly devoted to a woman who couldn't love him back as he did her.

 

Sometimes, he stayed up at night thinking of what could have been. An honourable man and a just woman. They were just what the realm needed to become better. They both had similar ideals and they were those rare leaders who cared about the common people. And wonder of all wonders, they had grown to deeply love each other. How the fuck did all that go to shit?

 

Ice and Fire.

 

Jon, to the best that he could, had been very open about where his heart and his loyalties had lain and that was no small feat when it came to the resistance that the North had offered. Daenerys, with her queer eastern ways, didn't care that the world watched when she held Jon's hands in council meetings when the lords of the North gave him an earful of how little they thought of him. With the world, she was an untouchable power, but with Jon, she was nought but a girl in love and that love had cost her everything in the end. She saved Westeros and died it's greatest foe. Or the foes of those who refused to relinquish power.

 

An unfair trade. One that he was complicit in. He could have done something, but he didn't.

 

Daenerys deserved better. And so did Jon. Jon had stopped at nothing to save mankind; he had lost his life and given up his crown to ensure that they all lived, yet he was exiled to the very place that had killed him.

 

He felt dirty thinking of all of it. He should have done something, said something, but he didn't. He'd watched in silence as everything fell apart and from the chaos that ensued, he'd risen higher than he ever had.

 

Life truly tests you. He'd always thought himself to be a man who stood up for righteous causes. It's why he had stayed with Stannis and why he had served Jon and by extension, Daenerys. But when it had mattered the most, he didn't pick righteousness. He'd picked himself. And now, that was all he had. Power wrapped in shame.

 

Now, he stood here with the same men who had been knowing and unknowing perpetrators in destroying Jon and Daenerys. They looked like good men and the way their words were framed supported their goodness, but it was all false. Underneath the goodwill was selfishness and greed. If they truly cared about the realms of men, then they would have put aside their differences and let Jon rule after the Queen had died. He was, afterall, the rightful heir. They would have let someone who had lived among the common people stand up for and represent the common people.

 

He didn't know that information until much later after Jon was exiled. King Bran had told him the truth of Jon's birth. He'd wanted to murder the crippled godking there and then, but he couldn't because it wouldn't change the past.

 

Bran could see everything, but thankfully, he couldn't see his thoughts.

 

Davos was getting old and didn't have it in him to play at the politics of the realm. It was a filthy game that blackened one's soul. He might not be able to stop them from going after Daenerys, but nothing would stop him from telling Jon the truth even if that meant he had to die doing the right thing.

 

Sam and Bran had told Jon the truth of his parentage just to destroy Daenerys. He would tell Jon the truth of his child if that meant giving him a chance at salvation because if there was someone who deserved peace, it was the man who had sacrificed everything to save everyone.

 

 

JON SNOW

 

"Avy jorrāelan," she whispered as she trailed her fingers through his hair.

 

She traced his face from his widow's peak to the tip of his nose to his lips and then stayed her fingers there; her thumb rubbing his lips gently. To and fro with a feather light touch.

 

Her fingers trailed down to his beared and she stroked it repeatedly. His cock got stiffer with each touch. It didn't matter that they'd exhausted themselves making love after a grueling day of endless council meetings.

 

Even with her eyes drooping shut, a sign of her succumbing to sleep, he could see the wealth of love she had there for him. No one had ever loved him as much as she did and he'd never loved anyone as much as he did her. It scared him to think of what her love would for him and what he would do to protect her.

 

Avy jorrāelan. He didn't need to understand what she was saying to know what she meant. It was how she said it.

 

"Dany."

 

"Hmm?"

 

"I love you too."

 

Just like he knew his confession would, it drove away the sleep from her eyes. She was wide awake now. Staring at him with all the vulnerability she had plain on her face. It made his heart ache. He wasn't one to wear or share his affections so openly because he believed that his actions told a better story than his words ever could, but she needed to hear this from him.

 

It wasn't much to offer, not to him, but he knew what it would mean to her to hear it from him and he wondered why he hadn't said so any sooner. It meant everything to him to see her happy.

 

He knew that she knew that he loved her. How many times had he stopped in the middle of their bouts of love making to simply stare and marvel at her? How many times had he sought her out just to soak in her company because he needed to be near her? He had given up his kingdom to and for her and he would do it again.

 

He was sure that the look on her face mirrored the one on his. He shifted closer until their lips touched and then he kissed her. He spread her lips apart with his tongue to taste her. She tried deepening the kiss, but he withdrew. He loved fucking her, but he enjoyed the quiet moments between them more. All he wanted to do at the moment was just be. With her. Both of them alone in her cabin shutting the rest of the world out. Saying things to each other without really saying anything.

 

He wanted to know her more. To see her in truth. And he wanted her to see him for what and who he really was. There was no room for perfection here. Only trust.

 

So he reached for her hand and kissed her knuckles. He loved her hands. For all her flawlessness, they were the one part of her that told him things about her that she wouldn't share with anyone who didn't truly know her. At first glance, they were perfect, but when you looked more closely, you could see some calluses and scars.

 

The roughness there spoke of all the times she had to get her hands dirty doing things that some might find beneath royalty. Her hands also spoke of the experience she had garnered as the only dragon rider alive in close to two hundred years.

 

He turned opened her palm and kissed her there. Her breathing had gotten shallow and fast. He could feel the small puffs of air from her mouth on his face. He leaned his face as close to hers without them touching. Her eyes were hooded again, but this time, it had nothing to do with sleep.

 

They could easily fuck now, but this moment for him was more than that and he wanted to show her beyond a good rut in her bed, that he truly loved her. He let go of her hand and traced the features on her face. She closed her eyes and swallowed hard.

 

It was as intoxicating as it was perilous getting used to this. To see how a few words and his gentle ministrations could make her come undone before him. To see just how much power she let him have over her. The danger of Daenerys wasn't her dragons or her armies, it was her heart. Because he was beginning to realize that when she loved, she gave everything and if that love ever fell into the wrong hands, it could destroy the world.

 

He shook himself from such ominous thoughts. Her heart was safe with him just like he knew his was safe with her. Together, they would save the world, and maybe, even rule and bring about reform that was long overdue in Westeros.

 

It was no small realization at that moment that for the first time, he was thinking of a life after the Great War. A life with her. Love and Duty. It felt good. It felt right. If she would have him, he would always be with and for her. But he couldn't get ahead of himself. First, they had to survive the Long Night.

 

"Avy jorrāelan," he murmured.

 

Silence.

 

"Dany, avy jorrāelan," he said again, but this time a little louder.

 

Only silence followed and this time, it was deafening. A memory from long ago that had come to him as a dream. Why wouldn't she leave him alone? She was resting in peace now. Why wouldn't she allow him just a few moments of that same peace? She tormented him when he was awake, it wasn't too much to ask for respite in sleep.

 

He needed Ghost. His mind strayed until he found the only comforting presence that she had spared him and he felt himself relax and start to disappear once more.

 

 

Chapter Text

KINVARA

 

"That's it, sweetling. Breathe and push. One more try and the little ones will join us," Kinvara encouraged.

 

Seven moons had passed since Daenerys Stormborn had been brought to them. The once abandoned Vaes Dothrak was slowly coming to life. Such was the effect of the Dragon Queen. Even without meaning to, she brought life to wherever she was and now she was about to bring in two more into the world. Something that would have excited most women who had been cursed to never give birth again. But not Daenerys. She simply had no interest in any of it. Only the dragon seemed to draw any kind of affection from her. It was something that dismayed Kinvara. These children were as much a gift from the Lord of Light as was her dragon. Two children for the other two that she had lost. Viserion and Rhaegal reborn in forms that could articulate the affection that their mother so desperately needed.

 

She remembered years ago when news had come to her of the girl who birthed dragons, she had been beside herself with joy and renewed strength. Because it meant that mankind had a fighting chance against the Great Other. When she heard that the Mother of Dragons was using her growing power to help the downtrodden, she knew that she had to do everything to protect her so that she could fulfill her destiny. That's why she sent preachers all over Essos. To give strength to the slaves and to keep hope alive.

 

The fear of R'hollor had kept the masters in reigns else they would have put asunder, the sermons that were held in the Dragon Queen's name. That fire in her had spread throughout Essos untamed and it had burnt off the chains of oppression. A movement that had taken on a life of its own to this day. In Essos, Daenerys evoked fear and hatred amongst those whom she had wronged, but she also inspired the deepest of loyalties from those who believed in her. Legends of the Dragon Queen's exploits had carved themselves in the history of Essos.

 

The Daenerys who writhed in pain and cursed the children in her was nothing like the one that Essos trembled in fear of. This one was thin with pallid skin and bloodshot eyes.

 

If she hadn't been stern with her, Daenerys would have wasted away with her unborn children in her, but it wasn't the Lord's will. There was a purpose for them.

 

"JON!" she let out a blood-curdling scream and clutched her belly.

 

Kinvara held her hand and continued her midwifery duties. She knew that name, but she didn't know the whole story; just pieces that she could fit together. Enough for it to make some sense.

 

In the seven moon turns that they had spent together, Daenerys' moods were as volatile as any treacherous sea in the middle of a storm. Calm and peaceful in one second, full of despair and delirium in the next. Sometimes, she spoke to herself. Reminding herself that Jon Snow really loved her and he didn't mean it.

 

When Melisendre had returned to Volantis after years of looking for Azor Ahai, she had come with tales of the Chosen One. A man of the Night's Watch in Westeros who had risen from his bastard status to Lord Commander. She had spoken of bringing him back to life. That had piqued Kinvara's interest. The gift of life and the blessing to wield it was something so rare that even the most devoted of those who served the Red God were hardly ever given. One in ten thousand Priests or Priestesses. Or so, her tutor had once told her. One in ten thousand also meant less than five because there weren't that many Red Priests and Priestesses.

 

Even though she was R'hollor's first and most powerful servant, she had only used it just twice. Hundreds of years apart. Many centuries ago. So when Melisendre had spoken of this Jon Snow who had fought and killed one of the generals of the Great Other and died because of it, she knew that it was destiny that had aligned the rise of Daenerys with the rise of Jon Snow. And so she had sent Melisendre back to help out Daenerys in anyway that she could and to do whatever it took to make sure that they met because they were the forerunners in the vanguard of the Lord's army.

 

Whatever had transpired between the Dragon Queen and the King in the North had most definitely led Daenerys here. Kinvara also deduced that he had been the one to end her life.

 

That was what was supposed to happen. Daenerys had been gifted with being unburnt and dragons to save the world. She had the right heart for it. Rulership, on the other hand, was not written in her destiny, and so when her work was done, her fire went out. Mayhaps, that is why Jon Snow was brought back. Kinvara understood that some things could not be explained. However, there was an imbalance when Jon didn't die immediately after fulfilling his purpose so something was amiss here.

 

She didn't know yet, but she suspected that it had something to do with the children and that is why she stayed with the young queen when she should have been tending to higher matters. The Lord worked in strange ways and whatever role she had to play in any of this, she would see through.

 

A sharp mewling cry filled the room and soon afterwards, another one followed. One boy with a dark tuft of hair and another with silver. That's were their difference ended. They were mirror images of each other.

 

She passed them over the other midwife to wash them clean so that they could be with their mother.

 

"You've done well, Daenerys Stormborn," Kinvara told her, smiling at the direction that they had taken the twins. When she looked back at their mother, all she could see was emptiness and self-loathing.

 

It broke her heart. For the mother overwrought with pain and loneliness. For the father who was undoubtedly suffering in shame and for the two innocent lives that would bear the consequences of their parents' actions. It also wore her patience thin. Bad things happened, but life was a current of wind that moved onwards only and didn't stop because of the bad things that happened. She would be as nurturing as Daenerys needed, but she wouldn't allow the neglect of those children no matter what their mother felt.

 

When the babies where washed and swaddled, she took them from the other midwife and tried to place them in their mother's arms, but Daenerys turned away from them as if repulsed by them.

 

Kinvara tried again, but Daenerys only curled into herself as if she couldn't bear the sight of them.

 

She had anticipated this and had thus sent for a wet nurse. But she would try one more time before she sent them to their wet nurse.

 

And so she did. Only to be met with the same response.

 

"You have undergone trying times, Daenerys, I will give you that, but you will be a mother to these children. They're the reason that you're alive," she said in a steely tone.

 

That got her attention. She saw a spark of defiance in those indigo eyes. That part of Daenerys hadn't died with her the first time. It was just rendered dormant by heartbreak. Good. It was better than indifference and self-pity.

 

This time, she placed the twins firmly, but gently in their mother's arms and stroked the young queen's brows affectionately to ease the bite in her tone. She'd come to care for her beyond her religious duties.

 

Reluctantly, Daenerys held them before passing one of them back to her so she could take turns breastfeeding them.

 

It wasn't a doting mother feeding her newborn children, but a woman doing what she had to do out of obligation.

 

It wasn't the most exciting start to motherhood, but it was progress.

 

 

MAGGO

 

Something wasn't right. It was the Dothraki way to kill those who had killed their Khal and avenge him and then kill themselves afterwards. Their Khaleesi had forbidden that they kill themselves should anything ever happen to her, but she hadn't stopped them from avenging her. She'd also told them to follow the Unsullied commander, Greyworm in the event of her demise. The problem was that Greyworm didn't treat her betrayal the way that he should have. It didn't feel right. It was almost like something was controlling his actions. He handed the scum who had killed their Khaleesi back to his family and then... left. Jon Snow should be a rotting corpse for his act of treason.

 

Now, the Dothraki were without leaders and there was a growing dissent amongst them. Fights were breaking out because some men deemed themselves worthy to lead what was left of their khalasar.

 

He had never been privileged enough to work or serve near the Khaleesi. He had been but a young boy when she had come out of the flames unburnt in Vaes Dothrak. She became the Khal of Khals that day. From that moment on, every Dothraki, old and young, had served their Khaleesi with fierce pride and devotion. They had crossed the accursed waters for her and they had followed her to the ends of the earth, to Rhaesh Andhali, to fight, kill and die for her.

 

They had fought death and won. At a great cost, but one that they had been willing pay. Every time she rode on her great mount, it had reinforced the fierceness in them. She had reformed their ways with fear and rewarded their loyalty with benevolence. And now she was dead because the pink people in this wasteland had allowed it.

 

It wasn't right.

 

The Dothraki had been compensated with the lands of Dragonstone and the half-man came to their self proclaimed leaders from time to time with gifts trying to buy their good faith and their strength.

 

It was an insult to him.

 

He wanted them to rise up against these lesser men and destroy their continent, but he had no voice here. He was but six and ten of age. What difference could he make?

 

 


BRAN

 

He had two eyes, yet he had many eyes. His many eyes roamed to and fro the world, yet they couldn't see Daenerys no matter where he searched. Not many things interested him. But another force was at work here. Something was protecting her from him. That malevolent presence again. Every time he tried to look, it felt like he was looking into the sun. It burned. He would have to look into that later.

 

The part of him that the Three Eyed Raven allowed to come to the surface smiled. The part that was still Bran. There wasn't much left of him there, but he knew everything that was happening. He was privy to all the Three Eyed Raven's plans.

 

Thousands of years ago, man had come to his continent and destroyed it. They had destroyed the children and the weirwood trees and in a resort for safety, they had created a being that they would cause even worse destruction than man had wrought.

 

Though they had fought together and formed a treaty, the Children had never really forgiven man and so in revenge, they had laid meticulous plans that took thousands of years to come to pass. But something was actively working against them. That presence was as much a guide to the Targaryens as the Children had been.

 

The Children wanted to use the Targaryens for destruction, but that other force saw them as a tool for salvation.

 

It all worked well, but only when their goals aligned. After that, things returned to the way they always were.

 

The Three Eyed Raven made sure that a careful word said here and there would set things in motion. Without his interference, Westeros would have had the best reign that they had seen since Jaehaerys and Alysanne, but they didn't deserve that peace and so he counted on the deceitful nature of man to bring destruction to the very thing he sought to protect.

 

Power without reigns corrupted. For Daenerys, he left it to Tyrion and Varys to bring her downfall. For Jon, he left it to Sam. He saw the different possibilities of the future of Westeros and the most appropriate one was the one that would crumble the institution that Aegon had built. He had time where they didn't. It was what the children had wanted.

 

Worry was not something that he knew anymore, but Daenerys being alive didn't bode well.

 

He looked to Jon and saw him in wolf form. No, Jon couldn't know.

 

 

THE ONION KNIGHT

 

In the last moon's turn, he had set sail for Pyke to inform the only person with power he knew would feel any sort of loyalty to the Dragon Queen.

 

Yara Greyjoy met him at the docks and welcomed him warily. She didn't trust anyone on the High Council. Not that he could blame her. The council had been set up with good intentions, but it had been built on treachery and deceit no matter what the others told themselves.

 

"Ser Davos."

 

"Lady Greyjoy," he answered back.

 

"Yara," she replied with a smile warmer than before. "What brings you here to our Islands?"

 

"Daenerys," he said without preamble. There was no time to dance around it.

 

Yara stopped immediately and turned to him in anger. The look on her face told him that this was new information to her.

 

He knew that she despised most members of the Small Council, she could barely contain her scorn for them, but she had a grudging respect for him because of their shared love for the sea. It was that respect that he knew stopped her from attacking him.

 

"What about Daenerys?"

 

"She's alive."

 

Her eyes grew round and she sputtered.

 

"Are you making jest of me, Ser Davos? You think me a fool?" she snarled as she held a fistful of his tunic and yanked him towards her in anger.

 

"Why would I come to this godsforsaken island just to make jest of you?"

 

Her eyes told him that she was considering his words.

 

"Daenerys? Alive? How?"

 

"The dragon took her to some Red Witches and they brought her back. I've seen it before with Jon Snow. She's with child. Or she was. I don't know. Many a time has passed since I was told."

 

She let go off Davos.

 

"That's impossible."

 

"Is it really? After all that we've seen?"

 

That made her doubt him less.

 

"Why wasn't I told?"

 

"Because of your loyalty to her, I presume. I don't know. But we don't have much time. Jon has to know and I'm going beyond the Wall to look for him," He paused for that bit of information to rest with her, "I don't trust anyone with this information, but you and Gendry. We need to plan ahead for the storm that is coming."

 

"Jon? Jon Snow?" she spat. "Others take him for what he did to my queen."

 

Davos knew that it would take more than a few words to convince her to see reason with him and so he sent one of his men to bring a barrel of her most favoured strong drink and he convinced her to sit down with him for them to get drunk and talk. If there was one thing Davos was skilled at, it was convincing people to see things his way.

 


 

"For fuck's sake," she muttered under her breath.

 

He understood. He hated the subterfuge that came with politics, but he owed it to Jon at the very least and if the last thing he did was to give him this gift, then that was what he was going to do.

 

The sun had gone down. The breeze that came from the sea tasted of salt. The wind blew through whatever hair was left on his head and the seagulls gave their noisy music to the air; picking at fish and shitting all over the place. Pyke was a miserable place, but for the first time since the reign of the new king, he felt at rest in surroundings that reminded him of his smuggling days.

 

He could see the wheels spinning in Yara's head and the hope she didn't even know was spreading on her face. Good. She also felt guilty for Daenerys' death and he needed someone he could trust to sail Jon to Essos when the time was right. He couldn't leave Westeros as to not draw suspicion. He only hoped that the limit of Bran's all seeing power would keep him safe away from those prying eyes.

 

She nodded at him and led him to where the horses were. They mounted their horses and rode to the dreary castle.

 

In a few days, he would set sail for Eastwatch by the sea. He had to find Jon and he had to find him fast.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

DAENERYS

 

She pretended to be asleep while Kinvara cooed at the twins. Three moon turns into the world and yet they didn't have names.

 

That One, was as far as she tried.

 

She fed them, clothed them and bathed them. It was what she was supposed to do, but she didn't have any more love to give another living being that she hadn't already loved before.

 

When they cried, her first instinct wasn't maternal comfort, but vexation. They were a gift that she didn't want. She just wanted the sweet emptiness of death. Again.

 

One time, while she was still with child, she tried to drown herself in the lake close to where her hut now stood, the Dothraki called it the Womb of The World. It was said to be a bottomless lake. She wanted to see if it was true. When she'd been saved, Kinvara had looked her pointedly in the eyes and told her that her life wasn't hers to take and she couldn't die until "the Lord" willed it.

 

Daenerys hated the Red Woman and her ramblings of a god that was cruel enough to torment her in this life. Or maybe she wasn't really alive and was in the seventh hell paying for killing innocent lives. A laugh bubbled in her chest at the jest, but she choked on it. She couldn't bear to face the younglings. They were an inescapable reminder of Jon's false love.

 

Jon. Her heart began to race. No! She wouldn't think of him. It had been almost a year since he'd killed her.

 

She wished she could forget him. But he was everywhere. He was in her memories. He was in her dreams. He was in her heart, in more ways than one. He was in the children. The children that she couldn't love.

 

As if hearing her thoughts, one of them cried and it didn't take long for the other to join in. She hated that sound. She wanted to scream, but she couldn't.

 

"They need their mother," Kinvara said not unkindly.

 

The Red Woman had tried everything under the sun to make her care short of threatening to kill her and when nothing else worked, she'd finally settled with bargaining. Daenerys hadn't lost her wits, she knew that she had freyed Kinvara's nerves, but she had found some perverse pleasure in raising the Priestess' ire. If she couldn't tell the Red God to fuck off to the worst place she knew, then she would settle for the next best thing.

 

She could kill her. She could command Drogon to burn this new village to the ground and no one would be the wiser, but the Red Woman would most as like enjoy dying by dragonfire. She wouldn't give her the satisfaction. Besides, who would care for the twins if she was gone?

 

You care about your new family..., a small voice whispered to her.

 

Lies!

 

To prove that voice wrong, she turned to look at her crying children and felt nothing.

 

 


TORMUND

 

It had been well over a year since the end of the Great War. He smiled at the children running and playing games with the direwolf. Their squeals were as sweet as the crisp spring air.

 

His attention was drawn to a group gathered around something that was making them shout in excitement. He walked towards them to see what everyone was on about. On his way, he passed a tent where people were fucking heartily. It filled his heart with happiness. That his people were alive and happy. Feasting on all the good things that life had to offer.

 

When he reached the group, he saw two people fighting.Jon Snow looked like shit with his bloodied eye and swollen lip. But the other man looked worse.

 

Jon had taken to fighting now. It was better than the self-inflicted misery he'd put himself in. It was a lot better than all the times that Jon had begged Tormund to give him a good death. No matter how good dragon pussy was, it wasn't worth dying for. After the third time Jon had come to him for death, Tormund had hit him in the face hoping to wake him up. He woke something up, alright. A beserker took over Jon Snow and Tormund had left that fight with a broken rib and a three broken fingers, but not before knocking Jon unconscious. Since that day, Jon had gotten into more fights than anyone else in their camp.

 

Most of the Free Folk enjoyed it, but some of the older ones were a wee bit tired of it.

 

Tormund didn't mind. He could get into all the fights he needed to move on from his Dragon Queen's ghost. Those fights made him eat more to keep up strength and they also made him stop seeking solace from his wineskin.

 

These days, Jon looked feral. Like a wild beast cornered. Everyone left him to himself until he started a good fist fight.

 

His Jon was still in there, but in broken pieces. He still walked into the forests at night to talk to her. He still chanted his song of "Snow, ice, fire, dragons and Dany." He still wished that he would have died in her place while finding a sick pleasure in being alive to serve this punishment he thought he'd earned. He still ignored all the advances of the women who threw themselves at him. He was still in torment, but there was a little progress and that was good enough for Tormund.

 

Time heals, Tormund thought patiently as he passed a horn of sour milk to his battered Little Crow.

 

 


GENDRY

 

He cursed the Dragon Queen for the thousandth time since he'd been made the Lord of Storm's End. He had grown up in Fleabottom, a bastard without a last name. A whore's son, but now, he'd been raised to a Great Lord. At first, it excited him, but that was before he knew that he'd be dealing with highborn lords and ladies who thought he was no better than the serfs that served on their fields.

 

If it weren't for the dwarf, Lord Tyrion, who spoke for him with a subtle threat of unleashing the Dothraki, he would have been expelled from the castle and flogged.

 

He wanted to escape. He wished he had with Arya. He missed her. If she had been here, she'd give him an idea of how to deal with the highborn. No one cared that he was Robert Baratheon's son. They only cared that they had been subjected to serve under a lowborn that was so undeserving of his new found station in life. The stewards, castellan and workers in his castle were a different matter. He had won some of them over because he knew what it was like to be them, but the others were tougher to get through to.

 

He was tired. It had been nearing a year and a half now. His lands were suffering. He didn't have enough men to enforce his might and subdue his vassals, some of whom, where rising up in mutiny. So, he did something unprecedented. He gave away a part of the castle to be set up as an inn. He needed the income to be able to afford the workers that he needed.

 

He tried to befriend some of the lesser lords, but all his efforts were wasted. Is this what the Dragon Queen felt when she came to Westeros?

 

He was a blacksmith. Not a lord. He hadn't been prepared for this.

 

He had thought of everything he could do peacefully and when all thoughts towards peace had failed him, his mind turned to the Dothraki. They were on Dragonstone. They had fought together against the Night King and his army. His was a familiar face. But so was Lord Tyrion's. Lord Tyrion who was experienced in dealing with this sort of thing. Lord Tyrion who was winning the favour of the new Khal.

 

Yes, he'd heard. There was a new Khal now. Several strong men had died before that was decided. It embittered Gendry that inspite of the apocalypse that they had faced together, mankind's greatest enemy was still man. Greed, selfishness, hatred and pride were all damning qualities of the flesh.

 

He wondered what they would think if they knew that Daenerys was alive. He was sure that only a handful of people knew. Ser Davos had told him.

 

He didn't know her. He had only seen her. As beautiful and as untouchable as a full moon. Majestic was another word that could be used to describe her. Tragic was another word.

 

He didn't like to think of her nor did he like to think of Jon Snow. Anyone who had seen them lead together never thought of one without the other. That was real power. A King and A Queen that the realm had deserved. He didn't know how something so good could become so bad. Ser Davos had come to him some time ago to tell him of his plans and to prepare him ahead of time should anything unlucky happen to deter his plans. For now, all Gendry could do was watch and wait.

 

He longed for a simpler life. But he couldn't leave now. There were people who depended on him now. People who had known his father. People who had come to mean something to him. He couldn't fail them, wouldn't fail them.

 

He took a swig of mead to ease the throbbing in his head.

 

This wouldn't do, he thought. He got up and took a walk to the only place where he truly felt at home in this large castle; the forge.

 

Chapter Text

DAENERYS

 


She touched Drogon's snout and he rewarded her with his dragon purr. Her son. A symbol and reminder of the good things that happened to her in her past life. He was at the back of the Mother of Mountains. No one dared to go there and for that, she was thankful. It afforded her a place of escape. The population of Vaes Dothrak was now up to a few hundred. Most of them were worshippers of the Red God and others were former slaves and traders. Whispers of the Dragon Queen's return to Essos were beginning to spread, but Kinvara had made sure to poison the truth with lies so no one knew for certain except those that were trustworthy. They only knew of a great black dragon who now resided at the back of the Mother of Mountains.

 

She hated the title, the Mother of Dragons. She hated any and all titles now, but that was the one title that she would never escape. She just wanted to be Daenerys. Or Dany.

 

"Alright, not Dany. How about my queen?" 

 

The memories always came whenever they pleased. They had no respect for her wishes. She was a prisoner to her own mind. Drogon could feel her agitation so she rested her forehead on his snout until she had calmed down. He felt her calm and responded in kind; settling down to sleep.

 

She was enjoying the quiet when he raised his head and she stumbled forward. She turned hers in the direction of what had captured his interest and saw Kinvara with a Red Priest at a safe distance. Each one with a child in hand.

 

Her protective instincts kicked in. She wanted to shield Drogon away from them. Drogon represented safety, strength and triumph to her. The twins represented a broken heart, betrayal and death. She'd kept them away from her dragon for that reason.

 

Everything in her screamed for them to stay away, but that turmoil was a war that only she was privy to so she looked on calmly and asked in a matching tone, "Why are they here?"

 

"To be with their brother and their mother," Kinvara replied. "He's just as much a part of them as they are a part of him."

 

And with that, she and the Red Priest, slowly, but surely, began to approach the dragon.

 

Daenerys held her breath until they were in front of Drogon, but away from the charred land and bones around him. They dropped the sucklings on the grass, turned around walked away.

 

They had been in the world for close to nine moon turns now. Still no names. Ser Jorah had once told her that if you named something, you would love it and if you loved it, it would hurt more when it left you or when it was taken from you. Her twins weren't things, but the same principle still applied.

 

Her twins...

 

She watched in fascination as the darkhaired one crawled forward without fear and then reach his tiny hand out to touch Drogon who had stretched his head forward to inspect them.

 

"No!"

 

This time, it wasn't because she wanted to protect Drogon from the twins, but because Drogon's scales were a bit too hot for their soft infant skins.

 

Spooked, the darkhaired one's face contorted and then he let out a wail that echoed in the mountains. His twin soon followed suit. For a beat, she stood there helplessly. But their loud cries soon overcame her temporary paralysis and she sat down close to them on the grass in response. She scooped them into her arms and cuddled them. Cooing and coaxing them with soft kisses so that they would stop crying.

 

They cried harder.

 

Drogon gave a roar and they stopped.

 

Eyes glistening with tears and shining with curiosity, their attention was fully focused on Drogon now. He gave a small huff through his nostrils and laid his head down again with a keen eye on them.

 

It was, in a word, compelling to see all her children interact.

 

Hers. Her children.

 

She marveled at that. They were hers. Inexplicably and irreversibly. All hers. That revelation soothed something deep in her. How could she not have seen that?

 

The darkhaired one struggled out of her arms and made for Drogon again. So she stood up and carried both of them as close to Drogon as his heat would allow and sat down again on the grass with them.

 

She looked at her babes. Really looked at them. She saw herself in them, but they inherited their father's curly hair. They were beautiful. It didn't matter how they came into the world, they had both been made from love. If not on Jon's part, then on her own part. She had loved Jon with all her heart, she still loved him, and whenever they'd mated, it was a way to express all of that love to him with her body. In return, he'd given her these precious boys. He'd given her new life. The irony of that wasn't lost on her.

 

She looked at their smiles and listened to their happy babbles and held them firmly so they didn't get too close to their scaly brother.


As the reality of her new life set in, she choked on a sob and hugged them tightly to her chest. They didn't like being confined like that so they struggled and started to cry in protest to let their mother know that they weren't happy with their confinement. It tickled her fancy. Amidst her tears and her heart opening to love them anew, she was laughing. It wasn't the humourless self-deprecating laughter that came whenever she cursed herself for being a fool and losing everything for a man who didn't love her enough to accept all of her. No. This one was full of happiness and newfound awe.

 

Oblivious to the chains that they had broken in her, they continued babbling at themselves and Drogon. Breakers of Chains. That made her laugh again.

 

"Daeron," she said as she nuzzled her first son's crown of rich black curls and breathed in his infant scent, "and Jaehaerys," she said as she pressed a long kiss on her second son's silver hair.

 

"Avy jorrāelan. Mama, jorrāelan ao." I love you. Mama loves you.

 

These words, she said repeatedly between kisses on their curly heads and their faces. It was a prayer. It was a promise. It was a declaration. And it was a threat to anyone who would think of harming them.

 

 


DAARIO

 

When word got to him about the demise of Daenerys, he had laughed it off. It was impossible. She'd left Meereen with even more power than she'd ever had so it didn't make any sense that she had died. Except, that it was an old friend who had come to tell him. Greyworm.

 

He had told him of their time in Westeros. He spoke of nonsensical things like the Night King and the Army of the Dead. Ghoulish stories from across the Narrow Sea to scare children into behaving right.

 

But still, Greyworm never lied. And so he couldn't say that what he'd heard were the ramblings of a mad man. She had saved the world, but the cost of that salvation was everything she had ever acquired and her life.

 

He stood on the balcony of one of the pyramids. He'd loved her. As much as he'd ever loved anyone. But it wasn't enough for her. No. She needed to make alliances.

 

His expression got dark when he thought of the man named Jon Snow. Greyworm spoke of that man with such deep hatred. It was uncharacteristic for Greyworm to hate anyone. But he hated Jon Snow. According to the Unsullied Commander, his queen's downfall and eventual demise lay at the feet of this Westerosi lord. When he'd asked Greyworm if he had avenged their queen, Greyworm told him no. Everything else he said didn't matter. If Jon Snow was alive, then Jon Snow had to die.

 

And then one day on his patrol, he had heard a former slave, who was now a merchant, in one of the markets say that he had seen, not only the black dragon, but the Dragon Queen. In Vaes Dothrak.

 

He stalked and followed the trader home and then held a knife to his throat, demanding to know the truth. Even with the threat of death, the man swore that he had seen, with his own eyes, a silverhaired woman, small of stature, dressed in traditional Dothraki-styled, garb go behind the Mother of Mountains where no one dared venture. He'd heard tales of a dragon and wanted to catch a glimpse of the great beast, but he had seen its mother instead.

 

Daario left him immediately and now here he was, at the highest pinnacle of the tallest pyramid, standing on the balcony. Contemplating his next move.

 

 


TYRION

 

He drank deeply from a flagon of wine while a whore sucked his cock. When she was done, he threw a golden dragon at her and winked at her gasp.

 

He didn't bother to put on his breeches. His doublet went below his knees.

 

The realm was riding dangerously close to being in debt. They were fools for putting a former sellsword in charge of all their money.

 

He'd shared Daenerys' remaining wealth; he'd given a third to the Dothraki and the rest of it, he'd shared amongst the remaining members of the Small Council alongside Sansa, now Queen in the North, and Arya.

 

Giving Bronn all those titles in addition to the wealth had been a spur of the moment thing. They'd placed an inexperienced and incompetent man in a position that was too big for him to handle because they were friends.

 

He could hear Tywin's voice mocking him. Even in death, his father's disapproval still stung. A failure, is what he was.

 

Well, I'm the Lord of Casterly Rock, so who's laughing now? he asked his dead father in defiance.

 

A lustful and spiteful creature, his father had called him. That he was, but he wanted to do good. To live the world a better place. That was Daenerys' dream. She was, despite her tyrannical tendencies, a visionary.

 

He thought of her. He thought of Jon. He thought of their child. He wondered if she had had that child. He'd sent a spy to her, but he hadn't heard word from him in nigh three moons. They needed to act and to act fast.

 

She has to die again, he thought sorrowfully.

 

'Jon must never know', he'd told Samwell Tarly the last time they had met. But this type of knowledge never stayed still. It would get out soon enough and gods help them when it did.

 

 

THE ONION KNIGHT

 

It had taken him a year, at least, to get beyond the Wall. From going to Storm's End to taking care of the matters of his Household to ensuring that he wasn't missed in the Capital to going to Pyke, it had been a long year.

 

He suspected that Bran knew and because the godking hadn't said anything, his paranoia continued to grow. All in all, he was very careful not to make any missteps that could end up being very costly.

 

He paid a tracker in the North to guide him and now, he had finally reached his destination.

 

He reigned in his steed and looked fixedly at the camp full of animals, tents, men, women and children. It was still too cold this far up north, but amidst the snow, there were grasses and flowers springing up.

 

He spotted a gathering of people laughing and in their midst was a big man who had bright red wild hair. He smiled. Tormund.

 

He dismounted from his steed and tied it to a tree.

 

Too cold. I'll be lucky if my balls don't freeze right off. He took in a deep breath of clean mountain air. There was a harsh beauty beyond the Wall, but a beauty, nonetheless.

 

He adjusted his cloak and approached the group.

 

"Ser Davos!" a familiar voice called out. It was one of the Free Folk whom he had made fast friends with.

 

"Bolald! Well met," Davos said to him when the man enveloped him in a joyful embrace.

 

"Well met, my good man. Come."

 

As Bolald walked Davos to where Tormund was, he chatted excitedly about their new way of life. Davos wanted to ask about Jon, but Bolald had a reputation for being talkative.

 

"GIANTSBANE!"

 

Tormund turned his head at the mention of his self-proclaimed title, Davos watched the recognition come into his eyes and the big toothy grin that followed.

 

Tormund pushed the people gathered around him out of his way and strode towards Davos. He clasped his arm in greeting and slapped him on the back.

 

"You old fucker! What brings you here?!"

 

"The air in Kings Landing smells like shit. And I wanted a real drink. Not that piss they have south of the Wall."

 

Tormund's laughter rang out, scaring some of the birds in the trees.

 

"Ah! You spent too much time with the Free Folk, Ser Davos. Come with me."

 


 

 

"Alive," Tormund said in a low tone full of disbelief, "you're sure about this."

 

"As sure as I am that I have stumped fingers."

 

Davos picked his teeth with a sharp bone and sucked out the string of meat that had come loose from between his teeth. It wasn't the best meal that he had ever had, but it was enough to stave off the hunger that had been with him for days, and for that, he was grateful.

 

"How? A Red Witch?"

 

Davos nodded and waited for his friend to accept and comprehend the truth of his words.

 

"This isn't good. Her death broke him. He's... not the Jon that you remember, but he's slowly coming back. He's getting better. He doesn't need to know this."

 

"Not even if she's had his child?"

 

"A child? Are you sure?"

 

"I am. He lost everything. If something will make him piece himself together, it's word of her survival and his child."

 

He could see that Tormund didn't like this new revelation, but he knew his friend to be true to Jon so he waited for Tormund to decide.

 

Tormund sighed and got up from his makeshift stool. He opened the flap of the tent and motioned with his head for Davos to follow him.

 

They walked away from the camp, deep into the woods. The farther they walked, the more dense the forest became with trees. Tormund whistled and the hairs on Davos' neck stood as he heard a menacing growl behind him.

 

Tormund didn't look bothered in the least.

 

"You have company, Little Crow."

 

They waited a few moments and then heard the rustling of leaves under someone's feet.

 

Jon.

 

When the man walked out, he could barely recognize him. His hair was wild and long. Untamable curls surrounded his face like a black cloud. He was thinner, but not in an unhealthy way. His beard was unkempt and his eyes looked like they saw a stranger. No emotion. Just a bloodthirsty look in his eye. Like he wanted to beat Davos or Tormund to death.

 

I failed you, Davos thought. But he was more determined than ever to make up for his failure as an advisor.

 

"Ser Davos," Jon said, "what brings you here?"

 

"There's something you should know. You'll need to sit down," when Jon didn't budge, he added, "Trust me."

 

Tormund nodded in support and sat down on the wet ground for good measure.

Chapter Text

JON

 

He knew what he heard and he could see Ser Davos' mouth move to form the words, but he couldn't quite understand what the old man was saying because, not only was it horse shit, it was also an untruth.

 

He blinked. The world was closing in on him. He had to get out of here. He stood up abruptly and staggered away from them.

 

Ghost. I need Ghost, he thought.

 

"JON!"

 

"Leave him be, Ser Davos. He'll be back."

 

He staggered and stumbled his way through the woods until he heard the sound of a trickling stream and made his way there. He couldn't breathe. Suddenly, it felt like everything he was wearing was conspiring to strangle the life out of him.

 

He knelt by the bank of the stream and doused his head into the freezing water.

 

Daenerys. Alive. A child. His heart was racing but not as fast as the thoughts that were running through his mind.

 

He brought his head out of the water and gasped for air. She was alive.

 

A child. She's carrying my child. Hope fighting its way through. I killed my child. He frowned and looked at the running waters. His reflection stared back at him and he scrambled back in revulsion.

 

She burned children alive so I killed my child in recompense. A twisted laugh escaped him.

 

But she's alive. Dany's ghost whispered to him.

 

Clinging to all his demons, was hope.

 

Hope was a deadly thing especially when it was false, but if this had even a shred of truth in them, then it was more than he could have ever asked for. Overwhelmed by the possibility of her still living, he hung his head and wept.

 


 

He didn't know how long he stayed by the stream, but by the time he was ready to leave, it was dark. He started to return to the camp, but he thought better of it. He needed to be alone with her in his thoughts. He closed his eyes, and for the first time since he had taken her life, there was no dread intermingling with longing he felt whenever he approached her ghost. Maybe it would come in the morning, but for now, he had respite.

 

 


THE ONION KNIGHT

 

"Tell me everything," Jon demanded.

 

And so Davos did. With every word he spoke, he could see that there was a life to Jon now that hadn't been there when Davos had seen him for the first time after a long time.

 

It reaffirmed his conviction that he was doing the right thing by Jon and Daenerys. Everyone deserved a second chance, those two more than most.

 

When he was done, he exchanged a quick look with Tormund while he waited for Jon to say something.

 

"She's a-alive," he stammered. Like he couldn't believe it. His eyes widening in awe.

 

Davos didn't blame him; it seemed like too much of a fairy tale, but the grim reality was that he had seen Jon come back by that same magic.

 

"What now?" Tormund asked, cutting to the meat of the matter.

 

"You go to her. To your family," Davos said looking at Jon.

 

Jon was already shaking his head in disagreement.

 

"No. She won't want me there. I wouldn't want me there if I were her," he said, his voice lowering in shame with each word, "I don't deserve to be there. If she's alive, then that's enough for me."

 

Davos knew that he meant to be honourable, but fuck honour. Look where it had gotten the poor lad; exiled by the people who betrayed his trust.

 

"They're going to kill her and they're going to kill your child if you don't go to them and protect them. The gods have given you a second chance, don't throw it away."

 

 


TORMUND

 

"They're going to kill her and they're going to kill your child..."

 

Tormund knew when Davos' words brought back that madness in Jon back to the surface. He looked ready to murder somebody. Anybody.

 

"Who?"

 

"The Small Council," Davos said in response before he clarified, "Tyrion, Bran, Bronn and Samwell mostly."

 

"I'll kill them," Jon said calmly. His tone doing nothing to match the rabid look in his eyes.

 

"That's well and good, lad," Davos said slowly, "but you should see them first."

 

"If I kill them, my... fam--Daenerys and the child will be safe," he countered, "there'll be no one to go after them."

 

"Do you really think that, Little Crow?" Tormund said in persuasion, "she will always have a target on her. Especially now that she has a child. Your child."

 

Davos gave Tormund a grateful look.

 

The truth of it was that Jon didn't need convincing to go her. He knew his friend. It was fear, more than anything, that made him think of everything that would stop or delay him facing his Dragon Queen.

 

With each point Davos and Tormund made, Jon's resolve to not go to his family grew weaker and by the time they had concluded their meeting, Jon Snow was ready to leave for Essos.

 

 


KINVARA

 

Their little household had gathered around the fire beside the lake, the Womb of the World, to enjoy the cool evening breeze. Their small camp had become a village brimming with life and bustling with activity; tents had become huts and huts were being torn down to make room for more sturdy squat houses. Construction was under way. The dirt roads were now being cobbled with stones. More people would have settled in their village if it hadn't been for the fear of the servants of R'hollor. Kinvara made sure that her people spread word of human sacrifice and cannibalism to keep intruders at bay. There was a reason that the Lord hadn't permitted her to leave the Dragon Queen's side yet. Great danger lay ahead of her.

 

She turned to look at the woman in question. Daenerys Stormborn was playing with her little ones. The Mother of Dragons in more than one sense, Kinvara thought to herself.

 

It had been tough seeing her so detached from life. She hadn't wanted anything to do with anyone except the dragon, not even her boys. Kinvara had tried everything and nothing had worked until she took the twins to the dragon. Whatever transpired that day, she didn't know, but Daenerys had come back looking different, happy even. And the boys had come back with names. Since then, she'd clawed her way back from whatever hell that she had been in for their sake, and now, here she was, laughing and trying to keep up with two rambunctious boys. She doted on them, sometimes, a little too much.

 

Her expression softened as she watched the twins. She loved them like they were her own. She had cared for them when their mother couldn't love them. She still did, but they spent more time with Daenerys these days. In some ways, they bore a striking resemblance to their mother except for the texture of their hair and the colour of Daeron's hair. Though they were identical with exception to their hair colour, their personalities were far apart. Daeron was outgoing, friendly and for an infant, rather humorous. Jaehaerys was quiet, a little broody, calculating, and would never allow a stranger touch him. They both had their mother's stubbornness. You had to say "no" a thousand times before they got the message. They enjoyed being spoiled by everyone around them and while Daenerys was also guilty of spoiling them, she had begun to enforce a little discipline.

 

"Ȳdra daor renigon se perzys, Daeron," she heard Daenerys say for what had to be the sixth or seventh time. Don't touch the fire, Daeron.

 

Kinvara let out a small laugh when she saw Daeron sneak a look at his mother to see if she was still distracted by feeding his brother. When he felt it safe, he went for one of candles that was laying around. Being around Drogon made both boys think that they could touch fire too. She observed the scene and saw that Daenerys knew what her son was up to and didn't warn him again when she saw that the flame of the candle had sputtered out, leaving a thread of thin smoke rising from its wick. When he touched the candle, the heat made him flinch with a cry. As blood of the dragon, Targaryens were more immune to heat than most, but Daeron was still a babe. His mother looked at him and scolded him gently. Then she made room for him on her lap and blew on his pudgy little fingers. Jaehaerys didn't want to be left out so he put his fingers on his mother's mouth and she obliged. She kept blowing air and kisses between the two. Laughing when Daeron's tears had stopped flowing and his attention was now on the camp fire. It was a beautiful thing to watch. Motherhood.

 

Kinvara got up quietly and left everyone to be alone. She was troubled. Something, or someone, was coming and whoever that person was, they were coming with a dark cloud. It had been nigh two years since Daenerys had been resurrected and almost a half year and one full year since the boys were born. Those days of peace were almost over. She only prayed that whatever darkness lay ahead, they would win against.

 

 

 

SAMWELL

 

He read the scroll one more time and his hands shook. The Citadel had revoked his chains as a grand maester. It wasn't something that he had earned, truth be told. It was another lie that the members of the small council had told themselves to cover the wrongdoings that had had a part in in the name of the realm. It was all pretense. Out of anger, he had told Jon the truth of his birth just so he could bring the queen down. That knowledge had caused everyone in the realm more pain than it was worth. He'd destroyed his friend and when it really mattered to tell the truth, no one had stood up for Jon. He lost his love and his freedom for the sake of the realm.

 

For the realm. Another lie they all told themselves. Sam knew that no one on the council really did anything out of the selflessness of their hearts. Everyone was in it for something personal to gain and now that news of Daenerys had come to them, threatening that safety and security, they had resorted to the only thing they knew; kill her and her child. If only it were that easy. Bran said that he hadn't been able to see her. It was close to two years. Tyrion had sent more spies to Essos. Word had come back and from what he'd heard, she could be anywhere from Meereen to Vaes Dothrak. It was peculiar.

 

He didn't feel good about the decision that they had made, but if the choice was between Jon's family and his, he would always pick his. It was the right thing to do by his family.

 

His time at the Wall had left him ill prepared for the politics that came with Kings Landing. There was something about this place that corrupted good intentions.

 

He had a small retinue now and they escorted him as he made his way home. Most of the city was still under construction from the destruction that the dragon had wrought two years before. The Red Keep now amongst the ruins. So, they had moved just outside of the city to a garden front with several manses.

 

When he arrived at his apartments, he stood at the door to compose himself so he could spare them from his dark mood. He grinned at the voices on the other side of the door; his children arguing with their mother. He knocked and responded to Gilly's muffled, "Who?" before she opened the door. As soon as he entered, the children pounced on him with joyous cries of "father" and if it could, his heart would have burst open. This was why he did what he did. Gilly smiled at him. He loved his family and he would do anything to keep them safe. He killed a Thenn, he killed a White Walker and he would kill anyone, if need be, to ensure that they were safe.

Chapter Text

DAARIO

 

Daario had been in Vaes Dothrak for close to three weeks. He would have been here earlier if there wasn't yet another uprising by some former slavers that he had to deal with. He had started on this path selfishly, but now, he truly believed in the cause.

 

When he first arrived Vaes Dothrak, he had been surprised to see that the population of the place was what it was. There were many servants of R'hollor; priests, priestesses and warriors. But there were also not a few merchants, petty traders and former slaves. It was tiny melting pot of different cultures.

 

The Daenerys Effect, he smiled to himself. He didn't need anyone to tell him that she was at the centre of it. People were drawn to her, naturally.

 

He'd seen her. The first time he did, he wanted to go to her and embrace her and shower her with declarations of love. She was more beautiful than ever. But the longer he observed her, the more he noticed how different she was. Gone were the braids and expensive silk and cotton gowns. Her hair was let down; a glorious silver mane. Her clothes were simple and in similar style to traditional Tyroshi garb. There was a melancholy to her now that hadn't been there before. The fire in her that had spread across the continent wasn't there anymore or perhaps, it was, but only in the form of an ember.

 

New faces surrounded her now. No one he recognized. What a difference a few years could make. For all that she'd lost, she had gained two little boys. They had their mother's skin and eyes. It was only when she was with them that he could see the Dany of old; fiercely protective and happy. There was also a childlike wonder she had when she was with them that he'd never seen before.

 

He was sad at how far she had fallen. She deserved the world and if he could lay it at her feet, he would.

 

It wasn't easy getting into the heart of their quaint town. As busy as it was, whoever had picked this location was smart because it was hidden and not easily accessible. The Warriors of R'hollor were on guard, but he had snuck past the unsullied all those years ago when he'd sworn allegiance to his queen. He could have gotten past them, but he was bidding his time. He wondered if she would be happy to see an old friendly face.

 


 

"Ȳdra daor angogon aōha lēkia, Jae," he heard Daenerys scold one of her sons. Whoever was being scolded was trying to bite the other.

 

He was pressed against a wall of her small home. It was a beautiful and simple structure. The courtyard was lined with trees and flowers on either side of the path leading to the house. The air smelled of flowers and lemons. There was a small pool by the side of the house which got it's supply from the lake. Cobblestone paved the gardens and courtyard. Terraces overlooking the pool and fountains, shaded by lemon trees, could be reached via a fluted pillar gallery leading to a triple archway. The walls of the house had no paint because of the vines of flowers that had grown on them. Nothing here would ever make one guess that she'd been the one who had brought the slaver cities of Essos to heel.

 

From where he stood, he could hear her stern tone soften to a coaxing one and the giggles of her children that followed soon after. Good for her, he thought.

 

He would wait here until she had put her sons to sleep. He'd studied her routine. Every night, after putting the boys to bed, she'd go out for a walk and sit by the lake with a glazed look in her eyes or swim. He planned to follow her there and reveal himself.

 

He was still thinking of her when he heard an eerie voice call his name. His knife was at her throat immediately. The Red Woman who watched over Dany like a hawk. She didn't flinch. She only smiled at him and said, "Welcome, old friend."

 

He'd never seen her before, but when she looked into his eyes, he felt completely exposed.

 

"I don't know you, witch."

 

She chuckled at that and said, "It doesn't matter. If you mean her no harm, then you have nothing to fear from me."

 

He knew a threat when he heard one.

 

"I'm here to protect her and her sons."

 

"I know and I welcome you. But tread lightly, sellsword."

 

 


DAENERYS

 

She stroked Jaehaerys' silver curls as she waited for him to fall asleep. Daeron was already out cold. Jaehaerys was sucking his tongue and playing with his ear while curling and uncurling his toes. He was especially needy today. Every time she laid him down and tried to get him to sleep, he would stay there quietly, but as soon as she made to leave, he would start crying. So she stayed with him and rocked him back and forth as she regaled him with stories and legends from ages past.

 

When he was still, she peered at his face to see if was asleep. He wasn't. Just quiet and somber. He reminded her so much of Jon. Everyone said that they looked like her, but the older they got, the more of Jon she saw in them. Especially Jaehaerys. He was thoughtful where Daeron was carefree; reserved where Daeron was expressive; slow to anger where Daeron's burned quick and fast. They were both very stubborn, however. It had to be from her and Jon. She watched him brush his hair away from his eyes. She would have to cut their hair soon.

 

He yawned and lay his head on her forearm, fidgeting until he was in a more comfortable position.

 

Her son stared up at her like she hung the sun in the sky. Love overwhelmed her in that instant. She bent her head until their noses touched and rubbed hers against his and he rewarded her with a sleepy giggle. His smile was Jon's smile. The way his upper lip protruded a bit was the mirror image of Jon's quiet smile. She missed him. Fool that she was.

 

She thought about him more often than she would have liked. She still loved him. He'd given her a period of what she thought was unconditional love; the happiest moments in her life that she'd ever had and as painful as the end of their time together was, she was thankful to him for those days. The days where she was just Dany, the girl; free of all her burdens, responsibilities and titles. In the end, he'd seen her as a monster and one to protect his people from. Pain shot through her at the thought.

 

She wondered how he was doing. If he was well. If he still thought of her. If he had found someone else. Her heart hurt thinking about how easily he might have forgotten her.

 

He's king of the Seven Kingdoms now, she thought bitterly.

 

She hugged Jaehaerys a little tighter to ease her troubled heart.

 

The twins were growing up fast and given that their... village now had some families, they would see how families were and would want to know about their father. She wasn't prepared to ever have that conversation and she was thankful that as quickly as their growth was, they were still infants. In three moon turns, she would celebrate their second name-day. It would not be for a long time until they were old enough to ask her difficult questions. For now, their half comprehensible words were all that she needed.

 

A little snore interrupted her train of thought. She looked at Daeron in his cot. It was a ludicrous sight. His buttocks was sticking up in the air and his head was turned away from the wall. He had a smile on his face too. It made her chuckle. He was as active asleep as he was awake that's why they had to make a separate cot for Jaehaerys. Before then, Jaehaerys had suffered kicks and blows from his brother's unconscious form.

 

She got up and put the now sleeping Jaehaerys down before going to adjust Daeron's sleeping position. She stroked his soft hair.

 

They were teaching her to love, laugh and enjoy life again without fear of pain, betrayal or loss.

 

She gave his tiny little toe a gentle squeeze before she blew out the candles and left their sleeping quarters.

 


 

 

She walked barefoot to the lake. She wanted to go to Drogon, but the distance made her change her mind. She removed her clothes and dove into the lake.

 

This was where she'd made love to Drogo after eating the horse's heart. Maybe it was because she was back in Vaes Dothrak, but she thought about her first--her only--husband more than she had in years. What would life have been like if she'd never left this place?

 

She would have never met most of the people who had shaped her life except for Jorah. Sweet Jorah. Jorah who had been with her from the beginning, who had died protecting her...

 

She swam up to the surface of the lake to take in some air.

 

No matter what she did, she could never wash away the stench of failure that followed her around. Sometimes, the weight of what and who she had lost threatened to crush whatever was left of her sanity. So many people died because they believed in her and she failed them. They gave up everything for her and she promised them a new world of justice, prosperity and peace. She killed innocent people ... so many dead bodies...

 

She shut her eyes and took another plunge.

 

Her words hadn't been enough. Her titles. Her legacy. Her deeds. None of it had been enough. She wasn't enough to make any of this right. 

 

She swam to the bank of the lake and walked out naked. The breeze made her skin prickle. She reached for a thick cloth and dried herself. So lost in her thoughts was she, that she became oblivious to her surroundings.

 

A hand on her shoulder made her jump and the hand over her mouth muffled any sound of alarm that she would have given.

 

Recognition came into her eyes when she saw that arrogant smile.

 

Daario!

 

She didn't know if she was happy or not to see him, but knowing he was alive made up for her conflicting thoughts.

 

"Daario," she said, surprised, "how did you find me?"

 

"Greyworm told me about what happened..."

 

Greyworm! He was alive? She had so many questions. Where was he? How was he? Where were the Unsullied? Were people taking advantage of them? Had they found peace?

 

"...and one day, some trader said that her saw you at the back of the Mother of Mountains. I didn't believe it so I had to see for myself. And here you are, my Queen."

 

She gave him a sharp look and shook her head in rejection of the title because she hated that one more bitterly than the others, "Don't call me that. Daenerys will do."

 

He smiled at her. He loved her still, she could see. Even after she'd left him. She also recognized the other look on his face. She turned away from him and proceeded to dress herself.

 

"I've missed you," he said. Looking at her wear her clothes unabashedly.

 

"And I you, old friend."

 

He laughed at that. She had missed that about him. His inability to take offense at almost anything. His lack of seriousness in the face of intense situations. His outlook on life in general. He was easy to be around. He didn't expect much. He just lived to please and serve however she saw fit. But that was a lifetime ago. She was no longer a queen. Just a woman, a mother, trying to build something new with what life had handed her.

 

She smiled at him and asked, "How is the Bay of Dragons?"

 

"Thriving. But not without its challenges. Conflicting reports on whether you're alive or dead are beginning to spread so some of the masters have been getting bold. But it's nothing that we can't handle."

 

That weight of defeat got heavier. If she had just done...more, or maybe less, she wouldn't be here and her people wouldn't have to fear for their freedom.

 

They're no longer your people, she reminded herself. But she still cared. She felt helpless and ineffectual in her inability to stop any of it.

 

What kind of a queen am I if I'm not willing to risk my life... She'd asked Jon that the first time she sought his advice.

 

How was it that all thoughts led her to him? She was with a man who had travelled leagues across the continent to see her, but it was Jon she thought about. She hated herself for being this weak.

 

Daario continued to chatter as they walked back to her home.

 

Home. That was what this was. Where the two most precious people in her life lived with her alongside a few servants, guards, and of course, Kinvara.

 

"...the last riot was because a former...,"

 

"Where will you stay?" she interrupted.

 

"Where I've been staying for the past three weeks."

 

"Three weeks? You've been here for three weeks?"

 

"I had to spy on you to know when to meet you. You're heavily guarded. The Red Woman and I already spoke, though she warned me not to cause you any trouble," he confided.

 

She shook her head at him and was about to say something when he cut her off.

 

"Don't worry, Khaleesi, I'll steer clear of you until it's alright with you."

 

Without warning, he engulfed her in hug that lasted for quite a long time.

 

"I'm so happy you're alive," he whispered. His voice thick with emotion. "Don't die again or anytime soon at least."

 

And with that, he placed a quick kiss on her forehead and walked backwards with all the charm and swagger that only Daario could exude.

 

He winked at her before disappearing into the night.

Chapter Text

 

TORMUND

 

Things hadn't quite gone according to plan after the Onion Knight had come with word of the Dragon Queen. A small plague had broken out in their camp and more than a few of the elderly had died. He'd urged Jon to go, but Jon being Jon decided to stay on and help. Ser Davos had gone back with the intent to send for them later but word had come to them that there was some trouble brewing in the capital. He shook his head at that. Damn southerners.

 


Eight moon turns later and here they were, set out on their voyage. He had put some people in charge and given the young charges in his care to trusted hands to look after. Tormund looked over at his young friend. Jon's face was unreadable. Save for the nervous drumming of his fingers on his wolf's back which gave his dread away, one couldn't tell what was on the young man's mind. If he were being honest, Jon didn't stay all those months to help entirely because it was the right thing to do. He was afraid of facing her. Life, being the nasty fucker that she was, had handed the most honest person he knew, the worst fate that she could deal. And now, rather than let him rest and move on, she'd thrown some more shit in his direction.

 

He couldn't let Jon go on this journey alone. Jon had already done so much for his people. He belonged in the true North. Or so he had thought. His time with them this time around wasn't what it was before. Because Jon was a different man from who he used to be.

 

He heaved a deep sigh and went below deck to get a drink. It stank to high heaven. He already missed home. Clean air, the likes of which didn't seem to exist anywhere else but beyond the Wall.

 

He powered through, shoving people away from his path so that he could get to his cabin and drown in some damn piss they called ale.

 

 


DAARIO

 

The first time he met the twins, they had been fighting with an older child. He didn't know what caused it. One minute, they were all playing and then next, Daeron was crying and hitting the older boy and Jaehaerys joined him in solidarity. Just two years of age and they already understood what loyalty meant. Daenerys had come running from the archery where she was learning target practice, but by then, someone had pulled them apart. He had taken to them instantly. Their mother's fire had most certainly been passed down to them. With dirt on their faces and tears still streaming down Daeron's, they looked at their "enemy" in defiance until whatever their mother said got through to them which made them look down in shame. In no time, the three boys were friends again. She hugged all three of them and sent them off to play.

 

Kinvara, the Red Witch, had been keeping an eye on him since she caught him lurking by the window that night and her watch on him was even more keen when he started coming around Daenerys in the open. He didn't care. He'd seen a lot of shit in his life time and not much threatened him. Moreover, he bore no ill will towards the queen and her children. He was also a very skilled fighter so if anyone fucked with him, as long as no magic was involved, they'd be dead. He was here for a reason and he meant to see it through. She was still Daenerys Stormborn, the Mother of Dragons... or Dragon. What did it matter how many they were now? What she had was still raw power. The mention of her name made her enemies tremble in fear of her. Daario loved seeing it. She was a force to be reckoned with. So were her children it would seem. Fiery little princes.

 

Children were a lot smarter than people believed them to be. At first, he'd been a stranger that Jaehaerys wouldn't come close to, the little snob, but the more time he spent around their mother and the less apprehensive she was around him, the more the boys took to him. Now, they were comfortable enough around him without their mother having to keep an eye on things.

 

Charming Daenerys wasn't an easy thing. The last time he'd courted her, he had to swim across a lake to bring her flowers. But he'd succeeded then and he was succeeding now. It wasn't really about getting into her bed, not entirely, but getting through those barriers that had sealed up the trust she had in people. A woman like her should experience life the way he imagine riding a dragon was. With careless abandon.

 

A scream discontinued his musings.

 

Earlier, he'd given the twins sticks and showed them some sword play against their mother's wishes. And well, she was right. Jaehaerys held his left hand up pitifully. It was bleeding.

 

She's going to burn me alive, Daario thought with a little chuckle.

 

"Come, Jae, let's see," he said gently, "Daeron, you too."

 

Daeron looked on the verge of tears. He'd known a few twins through out his life so he knew that the bond that they shared was a bit ... more than what normal siblings shared. The little fucker had to be feeling like shit. He came close tentatively and tried patting his brother's head to comfort him, but that just vexed Jaehaerys more who was sure to call the attention of the entire continent to him with how loudly he was hollering.

 

"What is it?!"

 

Fuck. Kinvara.

 

Jaehaerys reached out for her and she snatched him from Daario's arms as if Daario was going to kill him.

 

"It's nothing serious. Just an injury. Children get those all the time."

 

The look she gave him made him explain further, "Sword play," when her expression didn't change, he added, "With those sticks."

 

With that, she went on a tirade on how they were too young. He was half listening to her rant. He picked up Daeron and shuffled his hair.

 

"... alone with you."

 

"Yes."

 

"You agree that I have half the mind to not leave them alone with you?"

 

"What? No."

 

"So you weren't listening."

 

He shrugged and she turned away from him, muttering something in a language that he didn't understand, but in a way that he suspected that she was raining curses at him.

 


 

 

Daenerys did look like she wanted to burn him alive, but her tone with the boys betrayed none of that. With Jaehaerys bandaged and soothed, they were already out the door with one of her most trusted servants to look after them.

 

She turned her attention on him and if those eyes could kill, he'd already be dead.

 

"What did I tell you about that?"

 

"No sword training?" he asked with as much charm as he could muster.

 

It didn't work.

 

"I'm sorry," he said more sincerely.

 

"They're not old enough for that type of training. Daeron gets carried away with physical activities and when he's pushed too far, Jaehaerys overreacts in retaliation. They're not yet old enough to understand the rules of fighting, I think."

 

"I'm aware of how old they are, but I wasn't doing it to defy you or because I felt like amusing myself. They're your children which means that by extension, they're not safe. It's not too early to set them on this path," he tried persuading.

 

"They're a little more than babes," her voice taking a clipped tone, "They. Are. Too. Young."

 

He could see the truth of his words begin to resonate with her and the fear that sprung up in her because of them, so did not push her beyond this. He held up his hands in forfeit and smiled.

 

He could see her relief.

 

"Did you know that the Dothraki believed that the Womb of the World is a bottomless lake?"

 

The sudden change in topic made him look at her curiously.

 

"I might have heard something."

 

"When I was first brought here, my husband told me a myth about how some Khals from so long ago had come up with that story to keep their treasures hidden in plain sight."

 

"So what happened to your husband's story?"

 

"It ended, but I've been spending a lot of time alone and it's given me ample time to think and plan. This settlement grows larger every year and most of them are here because of me, be it directly or indirectly. We're not fierce horselords that travel around being gifted with precious stones and horses. So we have to make do with the things we craft here and find new ways to survive. Whatever stipends we make can't afford the protection that I should give them."

 

"I could always go back to Meereen and engage the Second Sons in some sellsword business. We're still yours to command and we're well compensated. You don't have to worry."

 

"No. They need to be there. I have found a solution."

 

He waited for her to continue.

 

"I don't know if there are precious stones and jewels at the bottom of the lake, but for close to a year, I've sent scouts across Vaes Dothrak and the Dothraki sea. It seemed silly at the time to rely on fairytales, but going on a fools errand is better than sitting on one's hands."

 

He murmured his agreement.

 

"A few days ago," she continued, "some of the people from the expedition returned with things that were buried for centuries. Things obtained from different cultures and religions; from the conquests of Khals long dead and forgotten."

 

He continued to listen without interrupting her.

 

"From what I've heard and the evidence I've seen, I'll have enough or more than enough to buy protection for what and who is my duty to protect. No one is getting near my sons or my people, Daario Naharis. And if by any chance they do, they will rue the very thought that dared them to cross Daenerys Stormborn."

 

She looked up at him and he saw the hardness there that he'd seen whenever she'd been about to destroy anyone who stood in her way. His cock twitched.

 

His Queen. She had ruined him for other women. He wanted to fuck her until she screamed. Judging from the slight angle of her head just then, he knew she'd caught on to what he was thinking.

 

And like a door slammed in his face, she put up her mask again.

 

Sigh.

 

 

 

TYRION

 

There were already rumours from Dorne that they wanted to secede and become their own independent principality. He rubbed the bridge of his nose. When Daenerys had died, the peace between the kingdoms was shaky at best, but he'd hoped that they could try to rebuild from the destruction that she'd left behind.

 

Destruction.

 

That wasn't really right. To blame the state of the realm on her. The War of Five Kings had torn the country apart a lot worse than the damage in King's Landing. The Lannister army had raided, pillaged and raped through the chaos. As had the Stark army and anyone person who had taken advantage of the weak.

 

Maybe assassinating Daenerys had been a mistake. It didn't matter. She was alive now with a child and none of them were safe.

 

He'd been in talks with the new Khal of the Dothraki horde and if Dorne did anything out of turn, then the Dothraki would be there to root out the rebels. The realm didn't need anymore trouble now. Bronn as the Master of Coin was a mistake and he had to find a way to get his friend out of the Small Council before he ran Westeros to the ground.

 

There wasn't any real unity amongst the members of the Small Council. Ser Davos was shifty and up to something. If Tyrion were a betting man, and he was, he'd say that it had something to do with Jon. Davos hadn't really allowed himself to enjoy his rise in society. Not speaking up for Jon was eating at him. Tyrion knew because he felt the same guilt sometimes. Sam had woes of his own; the Citadel was inciting Oldtown against him. It may not have been its own separate kingdom, but Oldtown had a vast amount of influence within the ranks of the highborn and those who worshipped the Seven which led him to think of Bran. People were beginning to wonder why anyone would allow someone who worshipped the Old Gods rule the rest of the Six Kingdoms that were predominantly of the Faith.

 

Good intentions didn't always mean good results. If he didn't put a lid on some things now, the realm would fall into an even bigger mess than he had inherited.

 

His door creaked open and he smiled at Podrick. Good man. Loyal till the end.

 

"What brings you here?"

 

"His Grace is asking for you," the lad said cheerily.

 

"What are you so happy about?"

 

"Oh, nothing..."

 

"You've either been to the brothels or you're going to go there. Am I right or am I right?"

 

Podrick's chuckle told him all he needed to know. Tyrion smiled fondly at the lad.

 

"Well, at least, some pockets are getting fatter in this shit city. Come, Podrick, let us go see what our all seeing king wants."

 

 


BRAN

 

He passed the scroll to Tyrion who cursed under his breath when he was done reading it. Word had come to him that there was an unrest in Oldtown because of his coronation. They didn't care about the Old Gods and everyone was beginning to find it odd that a few people had decided that a cripple who claimed that he could see all should be king. If only they knew.

 

Chaos is a ladder.

 

Bran found it mildly amusing. This land had first belonged to the Children of the Forest and the giants. The Three Eyed Raven had come as a product of the Children. If anyone should be king of this land, it was someone who knew it since the dawn of time.

 

It was true that he didn't have armies and power, but what he had was far more useful. He could see everything. A little word here, a little word there or a little silence, and everything could just come tumbling down.

 

"Can you see what they're up to?"

 

"Yes, but not at once and I'll have to know what I'm looking for."

 

Tyrion's sigh was one of barely contained frustration.

 

"I'll work with the Master of Whispers. Have you found Daenerys?"

 

"No."

 

"Can you look for Jon?"

 

"Yes."

 

At his blank stare, Tyrion asked, "Well?"

 

And so Bran did. It was odd. He couldn't find him either. So he went to the past to the last time that he could see Jon.

 

"I can't find him, but the last place I saw him was on a ship heading to Volantis."

 

"He's heard about Daenerys. Fuck me."

 

Bran spared Tyrion a glance and looked out the window.

 

"Your Grace" was the last thing he heard before the sound of the door closed behind him.

 

Chapter Text

DAENERYS

 

"Winter is Coming," Kinvara had told her. She was too afraid to ask what that meant, but those words had been haunting her for days and today, her worry had escalated into panic. She didn't like to think about Westeros, least of all her time in Winterfell. It was the most pain she'd felt in long time. The memories were an endless torment. She'd been used and cast aside when she was no longer needed in that place. That's where she had started to lose everything including and especially Jon. She hated that accursed place. But try as she might, Kinvara's words followed her. Maybe, it meant nothing. The woman was strange enough, but what if it meant... Did people know that she was alive? Were they coming for her? For her children?

 

Fear dug its claws in her and refused to let her go.

 

They're coming for me, she thought hysterically.

 

She strode quickly to her sons' sleeping quarters and checked to see if they were still there. They were sound asleep.

 

They're safe. She breathed out in relief. But for how long? that small voice insisted.

 

Rattled, she left them and called for one of Kinvara's warriors. His name was Raemar. He hardly ever left the twins' side. He was big man, taller than most with his head shaven bald. His face was covered in tattoos and he didn't talk much, but he was kind to the boys and they both adored him.

 

He heeded her call and listened as she told him not to let the boys out of his sight. He nodded once and a part of her felt some reassurance for their safety.

 

She had to find Drogon. If it meant that she would fly to Winterfell and turn it to ash, then so be it.

 

She didn't see Kinvara as she walked hurriedly outside. She almost hit her when the other woman held her arm. Kinvara smiled that eerie smile and told Daenerys, "Winter is Coming. But the boys are safest. You too are safe, however, you're also at risk. Two deaths, two lives."

 

If she could, she would have had the woman whipped. She hated the cryptic messages.

 

Kinvara laughed softly and rubbed Daenerys' arm in a comforting way. "Don't attack anyone. I won't let anything happen to any of you. No danger can find this place unless the Lord lets it," she assured her and left Daenerys with even more confusing thoughts.

 

Strangely, the alarm she'd felt gave way for calm. She was still worried, but the apprehension had been assuaged.

 

She walked some more until she found herself going towards her dragon. Sometimes, he was the only one who understood what she was feeling.

 

It was a wonderful thing, the bond between a dragon and its rider. As she got closer, they could feel each other.

 

The smell of charred bones got stronger as she approached him and he turned his head towards her in welcome. She reached for the side of his scaly head and he answered with that dragon purr of his.

 

She sat down beside him, not minding the burnt bones and blackened grass. She'd go for a swim after she spent sometime with her first son.

 

Looking up at the moon, she reflected on her second chance at life.

 

She was on Drogon, the bells in King's Landing were ringing, but she didn't hear anything, but the grief and pain in soul. It was too much for her and if destroying Cersei would ease all this hurt, then she was going to burn the Red Keep to the ground. Except it wasn't Cersei who was screaming, but strange faces. Men, women and children. By the thousands. Green fire and red fire laying waste to the disease that was King's Landing.

 

"Noooooooo," a familiar voice screamed, "Forgive them. Forgive me!"

 

She knew that voice. She loved that voice. That voice had whispered sweet nothings to her in the height of her carnal pleasure. It had called her...

 

"Dany, please!" Viserys begged.

 

What was he doing in King's Landing?

 

"Please, Dany!" the other voice begged. She tried to stop Drogon from burning him. To save him so that he could save her from herself, but it was too late.

 

She woke up in tears. Drogon felt her distress and covered her with his wing. Ashamed and full of self-reproach, she curled into herself and wept.

 

She thought about the ruin she'd caused to the lives of those closest to her and the ones who had left all to follow her. She had requested that they move the settlement far away from the abandoned buildings in Vaes Dothrak for this very reason; she had taken the Dothraki away from their home and left them scattered across the world. The Unsullied, she didn't know how they fared. She thought about the horrors that she had wrought upon the people of King's Landing.

 

She'd gotten a lot better at escaping from the burden that the memories brought with them, but there were times when the floodgates opened and she couldn't hide from them. This was one of those times.

 


 

Weeks had passed since she'd cried under the safety of Drogon's wing. Life was moving on.

 

It had been a busy day for her, but nothing that she wasn't used to. She'd been called in to settle a dispute about some land and that had taken longer than she thought it would.

 

She walked around the centre of their little village, if it could be called that. It was beautiful. The tents had disappeared and in their place, small houses with intricate designs and tiled roofs had sprung up. Streets and paths and work places joining them. They had a forge now. And everywhere the eye could see, there were trees. She had enjoyed joining the people in planting them.

 

She lived quite a distance from the settlement. Kinvara ensured that it was that way when more people started settling in. It didn't hurt that Drogon stayed close by. She liked it that way even though she'd grown to love the place and its people. Some servants of R'hollor, some former slaves, some adventurers looking to find something new, perhaps.

 

It was their safe haven. She wasn't sure for how long. Word was getting across of its existence. But thank the gods for the tales that the Red Priests and Priestesses had started. Apparently, it was a place of cannibalism and human sacrifice. Daenerys chuckled to herself.

 

She'd spoken with Kinvara and Daario about hiring soldiers or mercenaries, but both of them had objected to the idea. Kinvara insisted that if the time came when her warriors weren't enough, "the Lord will tell me."

 

Dany didn't trust in gods that much, but she was willing to wait. If ever the time came that she felt she had to bolster their protection, then she would do so. These were her people and she would do whatever she could for them.

 

As she drew nearer to her home, she heard the excited shouts of children and a man's voice. Daario. She smiled.

 

The twins had taken to him like fire across a dry field. Initially, she wasn't keen on him being around because he was one of the few things left unscathed from her glory days and an unwitting reminder of where she was now, but it didn't last. He added more laughter and love to her sons' lives and she wouldn't deprive her sons from as much as love as the world was willing to let them have. She didn't have that growing up as a child or for most her life.

 

She flinched when Daario tossed Daeron a little too roughly into the hay. They were in the stables with the other hands. Daeron got up and scrambled towards Daario, Jaehaerys in tow.

 

"Daor sīr rhinka, valītsossa," she chided. Be careful, boys.

 

At the sound of her voice, they came running towards her, Daario temporarily forgotten.

 

She was ambushed with hugs, straws of hay sticking to her body and gown, cries of "mama" and a gaggle of words that were an interesting mix of High Valyrian and incoherent baby babble. She loved it.

 

She squatted so she was on eye level with them and let them talk her ear off while she busied herself with brushing away the dirt from their bodies.

 

From the corner of her eye, she saw Daario move to pluck out straw from her hair without intruding and pretended not to notice as she faced her boys who were now doing their best to outdo each other in vying for her attention. She laughed at their antics and stood up, holding out each hand so they could all walk hand in hand.

 

She thought of retiring into their home, but she decided to take the boys for a swim at the lake instead. Daeron slipped from her grip and ran towards the lake. She panicked, but Daario had already caught up to him and hauled the laughing child over his shoulder with a stern look and teasing tone.

 

If anyone looked at them from afar, they would think that they were a family. That he was their father.

 

Their father, she thought. Once again, Jon slipped into her inner musings. He always did. How differently would things have been if they had both known that she was carrying his sons? He would have been a good, no, a great father. She was sure of it. He was in their sons as much as she was; in Daeron's black curls and Jaehaerys' quiet and reserved nature.

 

Winter is coming. Kinvara's cryptic message slithered its way across her thoughts. It dampened her happiness a bit, but she forced herself out of it. Yesterday was yesterday and today was today. She would never get another chance at it so she decided to just relish the moment.

 

Daario was here and he loved her and the twins. He was loyal to her. He had never betrayed her. She knew he also wanted to come to her bed. She decided there that if he tried, she wouldn't stop him. It had been a long time and she was still a woman. That's what she tried to tell herself when her heart told her that she belonged to someone else. A traitor.

 

 


DAARIO

 

CLANG

 

He needed a good fuck. Maybe that would warm his blue balls. He'd been here for some time now and he hoped that he and Daenerys would continue from where they had left off. However, he understood why she had not taken a lover to her bed. She'd lost all that she had fought for because of the last man that she'd taken to her bed. A man unworthy of her.

 

At least the boys had come out of that farce, he thought.

 

He'd never thought of having his own and maybe he had some running around a brothel or some rich merchant's manse, but he'd never thought about offspring until the twins.

 

He blocked the blow of his opponents sword and expertly ducked the slash of the sword. Then he quickly reached for a handful of sand and blew it in the eyes of his attacker. The resulting string of curses made him laugh.

 

"Your mother is a whore," the man said in Valyrian.

 

"Was a whore," he corrected. "Don't speak ill of the dead," he finished with a wink.

 

The Warriors of R'hollor were a formidable force, but he had picked up a few things in the fighting pits. He patted the man's back and walked him to a trough of water where the horses were drinking from so he could wash his face. The man muttered curses under his breath and Daario laughed and walked off.

 

Though the sun was glaring, the breeze from the lake made up for it. It was unlike the blistering heat of Meereen that had you sweating to your arsehole unless you were at the top of a pyramid. Vaes Dothrak was an expansive and empty land save for the queen's little town. She may not admit it, but she took pride in it. In a way, the progress of the town reflected how much healing that she had done. He liked it here, especially because of the queen and the boys, but he was starting to get antsy for Meereen. He had always considered himself a nomad of sorts, but Meereen was a place that he could now call home. Or the closest thing to it. Or maybe you've gotten too used to the power and opulence the queen left you. He shrugged at the thought. It could be and there was nothing wrong with that.

 

Daenerys had immortalized her place in the history of the slaver cities and he thought that she should be there to see what had come of her vision. He'd tried bringing it up to her a few times, but she always laughed it off.

 

My place is here, Daario.

 

Do it for your sons, then, he'd almost blurted out one time. They were blood of the dragon and should grow up as royalty. He'd tried speaking of their Targaryen heritage, but she'd told him that they had no last names. They were just Daeron and Jaehaerys and they would forge their paths when the time came. She didn't need to explain why she'd deemed it so. He knew it was because of the burden that came with carrying the legacy of kings and an empire long destroyed. In the end, she'd restored House Targaryen, but at the high cost of her life.

 

The subtle brush of fingers on his arm as he passed through a new street, a faster path to Kinvara's home than he was used to, broke through his rumination. It was the wife of one of the merchants. She gave him a sultry smile and he stared back at her. I just might take you up on that offer.

 

They leered at each other until the angles of their necks couldn't allow for it anymore.

 

Sigh.

 

He continued through thickets of bushes until he heard the sound of two little voices. He grinned.

 

"Daor nyke ȳdra daoooor. " a small voice said in his best whine. No, I doooon't.

 

"Ziry iksos qrugh!" the other little voice added in disgust.

 

"Daeron!" the Red Woman asked, sounding incensed. "Who taught you that word?!"

 

"Boys!" Daario shouted in greeting.

 

Gasp. "Papa!"

 

He was taken aback by that because it was the first time anyone had ever called him that. He was still trying to bask in the feeling when they ran up to him, talking over each other and sending Kinvara dirty looks while pointing at her. She was looking pointedly at him because she knew that he'd taught them the word 'shit' or at least they had heard him say it.

 

He sat down on the ground to listen to the grievances they had to air and they imitated him. Ahhh. The passage of rites; she was trying to force them to eat something that they didn't like. He'd sneak in candied fruits for them later when no one was looking.

 

When the Red Woman left them, he whispered to them conspirationally, "Don't say 'shit' again. At least not in front of Kinvara or your mama."

 

The nodded vigorously. And grinned.

 

Maybe just a few more weeks, he thought. He missed Meereen, but being here wasn't so bad.

 

 


JON

 

Tormund hadn't stopped cursing since they had gotten off the ship. Essos was a fresh kind of hell. They had discarded their warmer clothes for lighter ones more suitable for the weather in Essos. The ship had docked at a harbor in a port city named Pentos. With its high walls, many brick towers and walled estates, it was very different from what he was used to.

 

At first, he'd tried to place where he heard the name 'Pentos' until it came to him that this was where Daenerys had said she'd begun an important part of her journey. He felt sick thinking of her. It took everything in him not to turn back. But they had already made it this far in their quest and he had to see it through.

 

He'd been a coward with her before. He wouldn't be that same person this time around. Maybe she will kill me and I would have paid my debt in full. A life for a life.

 

These days, he dreamt that he was bathed in dragon fire, but she was the dragon and no matter how scorching the heat from her fire was, it never killed him. He always woke up from those dreams drenched in sweat. Or maybe it was the heat on this godsforsaken continent that was making him delirious. He didn't know. Either way, these dreams were better than the ones he'd had after her death. He'd rather be burned alive than kill her repeatedly.

 

His horse neighed as if in agreement with his thoughts. They would have to find a place to rest soon. Ghost wasn't used to the heat either, but he was a loyal friend that stuck by Jon's side no matter what. Wherever they went in the Free Cities, people were fascinated by his wolf. Some offered to buy him from Jon, but he always declined. Or Ghost scared them away. Right now, his wolf needed shade, water and a good kill.

 

Some children were trying to get near Ghost and his mind wandered to his child ... *their child*. If the guilt of taking Dany's life hadn't succeeded driving him mad, the thought of killing her as she carried his child certainly did. His only hold on any form of sanity was seeing her again and seeing their child. But they didn't exactly know where to look. It was, frustrating, to say the least. Their guide was a man trusted by Yara. He was fluent in the local languages and acted as an intermediary between Jon and whomever they needed to communicate with since they got off the ship. He was thankful to her for being a key part in making all of this happen even though she couldn't hide her contempt for him.
She was doing it for her queen. Well, so was he.

 

He took the time to admire his environs. Myr was even stranger than Pentos, but no less beautiful and from the looks of things, founded on the backs of slaves.

 

...Breaker of chains. He shook his head as if to chase the memory away.

 

Hours went by and the sun away with them. By the time they got to an inn, it was already dark and the breeze was kinder. Sweet smells of roasted meats, fresh bread and alcohol filled the air. Music, lights, dancers and all sorts of guests filled the room.

 

"By the gods!" he heard Tormund exclaim. It wasn't hard to see why. Bronze skinned women with tiny bells tied around their small waists and firm bared breasts moved their hips in a very hypnotic manner. He swallowed almost convulsively. One of them, with a tattoo under her eye, pulled a grinning Tormund away from their group. He wanted to call out to his friend that they might not be able to afford that kind of company, but he thought better of it. Tormund had been supportive and a source of strength in the years that he had returned beyond the Wall. The least he could do was let the man enjoy a good fuck.

 

How long had it been since he'd been with a woman? With Daenerys? He closed his eyes. The agony was eating at him. All those times that he'd pushed her away ... and for what? Whatever brief arousal he'd had looking at the naked women died. He felt unfaithful. He had never allowed himself think of another woman that way until this night.

 

His other companion tapped him on the shoulder, "The fat fucker isn't happy with your wolf being inside here. Guests are uncomfortable. He says you have to find a place far from his establishment," he finished gruffly.

 

His name was Liram Lefford. He was a tall and had a slim build. He looked like a lord, but Jon knew that he was as dangerous as any cutthroat.

 

"Can we buy some food at least? Ghost and I can sleep under the stars. You and Tormund get some rest in comfortable rooms," he said with a small smile.

 

"This isn't Westeros. It's dangerous to be alone by yourself in a place that you don't know," Liram told him. "When your wildling friend is done fucking that whore, then we'll make camp in the outskirts of the city. It's about fifty leagues from here. We'll get there faster if he run our horses ragged. I could talk to the innkeeper about keeping your wolf in the stables, but far away from the horses."

 

Jon nodded and off Liram went to negotiate.

 

The weariness that gripped him then, he felt to his bones. He was tired. He wanted to lay down and warg into Ghost, but he couldn't. Not here. He scratched his greasy hair. He needed a hot bath and a hot meal. He was getting irritable being around all these strangers with their strange tongue that he couldn't understand. Liram came back to him with a compromise; the innkeeper agreed to what they wanted, but for double the price of their accommodation. Jon agreed. They were running out of gold, but that was a problem for another day. Right now, he just wanted a bath, to change into cleaner clothes, a hot meal and a dreamless sleep if Daenerys' ghost would allow him those few hours.

 

"Ghost. With me."

 


 

He was in stables with Ghost as his guard and pillow. He had to leave the room. Tormund was loud with his grunts while he was fucking. They couldn't afford more than one room because of the cost. Liram didn't seem to care, but Jon couldn't bear all the noise so here he was.

 

How long would it take until he saw her again. If he ever saw her again? And so his thoughts and memories and dreams went until he sleep overtook him

 


 

"Ahhh. The women here, lad. They look good, they smell better and they're the best fuck I've ever had."

 

"You fucked more than one whore? You old dog," Liram chortled.

 

"Not whores. Pillow girls. She invited her friend. You lot left me alone and I needed two new friends to ease me of my loneliness," Tormund continued, hand to his heart.

 

Liram guffawed and shook Tormund's shoulder.

 

Jon was riding a little distance behind them and he was quiet as both men gave each other a good natured ribbing.

 

"While you were enjoying the finer things of that establishment, I went around asking questions," Liram retorted with a pointed look at Tormund. He looked back at Jon and continued, "There's word that they saw a dragon in Volantis."

 

Jon kicked his heel and sped up his horse to catch up with the rest of the company, Ghost in tow.

 

"Volantis? How far is it from here?"

 

"Five hundred leagues at least, Bastard. Much faster if we sail."

 

Jon nodded. His anticipation, excitement and fear warring with one another.

 

Soon.

 

 


TORMUND

 

Tormund found himself wishing for home. Pentos and Myr, though hot, at least offered amends. Volantis, smelled like an old whore.
The air was rich, rank and pervasive. There was fish in it, flowers and some elephant dung, also something sweet and something earthy and something dead and rotten.

 

It was a very busy city. He had never seen so many people in one place at once and he'd seen the different Free Folk tribes live together for a while. He looked over at Jon who was watching, with intense focus, the exchange between Liram and a Volantene. He sighed. Jon had taken on a new form of madness and her name was Daenerys Targaryen.

 

He knew the boy would do anything to correct his wrong and Tormund wanted nothing more for his friend's sake.

 

This better end up in a good fuck for Jon Snow, Tormund thought wryly. It had been too long for the lad. He saw some of the Volantene look their way and turn up their noses at them. Tormund didn't understand why.

 

He looked around again and the injustice of what he saw made him rage inside. There were slaves everywhere. People being treated lesser than animals. In the few times that Jon had spoken of Daenerys, he had told him of her fight against slavery and how she conquered slaver cities. He hadn't known that when he toasted to Jon in the feast at Winterfell. He felt like shit for that now. In some ways, she stood for the very core of what being a Free Folk was about.

 

Nobody should own another human being. Every man, woman and child had the right to freedom.

 

"...the temple," Liram said.

 

"What?"

 

"I said that that slave just told me that he heard that the First Servant of R'hollor hasn't been seen in the temple in years and there's word going around that she's in Vaes Dothrak so we have to go to the temple confirm or, at least, get more information."

 

"What the fuck does that mean?" Tormund asked, more confused at the strange names Liram was saying.

 

"He means that the Red Witch who resurrected Daenerys is in the land of the Dothraki and that's where Dany most as like is," Jon said. "We go to the temple and see what we can know from there?"

 

Jon nodded at Liram to lead the way and they both followed.

 

On arrival, he stared at the temple in awe. It was a monstrosity of a building. They walked past desperate worshippers to a courtyard where he could here the clanging of steel. Males ranging from boys to young men with marks on their faces were training hard. Beyond the courtyard, he could hear moans of pleasure. If this was the god that saved them from the Night King, then Tormund didn't mind being a follower.

 

He grinned to himself. Too distracted with contemplating the causes of those moans, he didn't notice when some Red Witches and Red Priests gathered in front of them, saying things that didn't make sense

 

"Ice and Fire," some of them chanted to Jon Snow.

 

"Snow put out Fire."

 

"Fire revived Fire."

 

"The Prince that was Promised."

 

"We brought Ice and Fire together."

 

"Fire Wight!"

 

None of it made sense and it was beginning to draw the attention of the other visitors to what was happening around them. Ghost was growling and snapping his teeth, but it did nothing to keep them at bay.

 

"What the fuck does all this mean?" Tormund asked loudly.

 

A man walked up to him and gripped his arm, "Beware of the three eyes that see all."

 

Tormund unfurled the mans fingers from his arm and pushed his face away from him.

 

"Jon! Let's leave."

 

"No."

 

Instead, he yelled at all the crazed people so he could be heard above the chaos, "Please tell me where she is! Where is she?!"

 

It wasn't getting any better. A crowd began to gather and Tormund felt like suffocating so he pushed a man away from him and before anyone knew what was happening, a brawl ensued.

 


 

"I apologize for any discomfort our people may have caused you," A Red Priest said. He looked older than most of the others.

 

"King Snow--,"

 

"I'm no king."


"--you're most welcome to the Lord's temple. We saw you lead the charge against his eternal enemy. You and your queen," he continued.

 

"And you, Giantsbane. You were on the war front for even longer. Our Lord thanks you."

 

Tormund looked at him with uncertainty, but nodded. The man had stopped the brawl with a single word and had offered them very good food and sweet wine.

 

"You're here because of Daenerys?"

 

"Yes," Jon said gruffly.

 

"She's in Vaes Dothrak. She's alive and well. Well, as well as one can be all things considered. Rest here for tonight and continue your journey tomorrow. My people will see that your horses are fed tended to. You're welcome to worship, train with our men and enjoy the company of the prostitutes."

 

"Thank you," Jon replied.

 

With that, they all got up and left. Liram, walking purposefully towards the pleasure house. Tormund followed him. He stopped when Jon turned around and went back to the man's solar.

 

"Little Crow?"

 

All he got in response was a wave of Jon's hand. Tormund shrugged and went on to satisfy his cock.

 

 


JON

 

She's in Vaes Dothrak. She's alive and well. Well, as well as one can be all things considered.

 

Those words were incessant in his mind.

 

After they left Volantis, it was all he could think of. How was she doing?Was she safe? How was their child? Was it a girl who looked like her? Or a boy? Did she think of him? Would she ever want to see him again? And on the questions went. Morning and night. Without end.

 

He kept imagining seeing her again. His heart beating painfully at the thought of her hating him. He wished he could go back in time and love her like she asked him to. With every distance they covered, he felt a darkness cling to him. He didn't know how she would act towards him. He adjusted and patted his satchel. He'd bought her a heady sweet perfume from a Lysene trader like the one she used to wear. It had cost him a small fortune, but he didn't mind at all. For the child, he'd bought a wooden soldier, a doll, a wooden ship and a puppet in case it was a boy or a girl.

 

"We're here."

 

Liram's announcement shook him out of his reverie.

 

They had traveled with some traders to the Western Market from Volantis. It looked nothing like the grand bazaar that Liram had described it to be. It was a great square of beaten earth surrounded by mud-baked brick, animal pens and whitewashed drinking halls. Hummocks rising from the earth and beneath the square lay large storerooms. The interior of the square was made up of stalls and aisles. The most notable thing about it was that there weren't that many people. A hundred, maybe two hundred.

 

"I was expecting more people here," Jon stated.

 

"As was I, but I suppose business ran dry when your Dragon Queen took the Dothraki away from here."

 

Jon nodded in silent agreement. As they rode past, he saw children running on the streets and between the stalls. Some stopped to point at Ghost who paid them no mind.
There were quite a few people here draped in red robes.

 

Dany is here. He was so close.

 

He tried to think of her face. To remember her. To prepare himself for when he would meet her. The sick feeling that hadn't left him since her death was more present with him now than it had been in a while.

 

They kept riding until they got to what Liram said was the Horse Gate. It was no true gate, but was named for the two gigantic bronze stallions whose hooves met a hundred feet above the roadway to form a pointed arch. He couldn't tell if the city was heavily guarded or if the warriors there were a part of the Red Woman's retinue. For she stood there like she had been waiting for them.

 

"The Lord of Light shine upon you, Jon Snow. My name is Kinvara, First Servant of R'hollor," she announced. She motioned for him to follow her and warily, he obliged.

 

"My time here is almost up," she conversed with a smile.

 

She led them through a broad, grassy road that ran through the heart of an abandoned ruin in a straight line.

 

The sun was merciless, but at least, there weren't crowded buildings here to trap the breeze that came from the mountain before them.

 

As they got closer to the mountain, he could hear a rumble. Drogon. Jon felt relief that the dragon was here and sadness at the thought of their last encounter. She took them past a very small town. They rode past squat houses, many of which were covered in flowery vines. The air fragrant and sweet. They kept on until, at last, they stopped in front of a house.

 

It was a fair-sized house built of red Lyons Sandstone shrouded in the midst of flowery shrubs. She dismounted from her horse and invited him inside.


"Just you," she declared with a pointed look at Tormund and Liram.

 

He exchanged looks with them and followed her inside.

 

The furnishings were sparse and simple. In one corner, by a fire place, was a rocking chair with books and scrolls and toys scattered around. He went there and picked up a wooden sword.

 

"A boy?" he whispered.

 

Before she could answer, he heard Daenerys' voice. He also heard two children speaking excitedly in a foreign tongue. High Valyrian. He rushed to the window and saw her. She was more beautiful than he remembered. She wasn't wearing her hair in those complicated braids. It flowed onto her shoulders, billowing in the wind. Her smile creasing her eyes as she suddenly lifted up one of the boys and tossed the squealing child in the air.

 

Two boys. Twins! He had two children. With her. He watched the other one protest with his hands up in the air until she picked him up and gave him the same treatment that she'd just given his twin. She was laughing. She looked happy and young and carefree.

 

What am I doing?

 

He began to feel wave after wave of fear. He could hear his heart pounding so loudly he thought it would come out of his chest. Pains shot down his legs. He became so afraid he couldn’t catch his breath. He panicked as he blinked to clear his vision.

 

He felt a gentle squeeze on his shoulder and glanced at the stranger giving him a sympathetic look.

 

Without word, the Red Woman left him.

Chapter Text

 


DAENERYS

 

They were still very young, but she was seeing to it that the twins had started learning how to count. She wanted them well prepared for life and like Tyrion had once told her, a book was to the mind what a whetstone was to a sword. She didn't like to think of her former Hand so she wouldn't fly into a murderous rage, but before things had gotten sour, he used to dole out good advice.

 

She held up five fingers and both boys counted and stumbled until they shouted, "Tōma!". Five. She clapped in encouragement, her heart swelling with love at how pleased they looked with that accomplishment, preening because of the praise she showered on them.

 

They couldn't speak the Common Tongue very well, but they could understand it. Her aversion to all things Westeros had stopped her from teaching them, but Daario had changed that. For a while, he was the only one who communicated to them in the Common Tongue. She'd soon given in and joined in. It was, after all, a part of who they were.

 

"MHYSA!" she heard a lad call for her. She stood up quickly and went to him, looking at Raemar to keep an eye on the twins.

 

"What is it?" she asked. Quelling the alarm in her so that she could think clearly.

 

The boy, barely catching his breath from running too fast, told her that Kinvara had asked for her to meet with her in Kinvara's quarters. The Red Woman had been living in Daenerys' little "manse" until a short while ago.

 

"Is everything alright?"

 

He gave her a sheepish grin and said in Valyrian, "She told me to tell you that there was something important to discuss ... but I forgot." At Daenerys' raised an eyebrow, he blurted, "We went to look at the wild horses!"

 

She tried to maintain a stern look, but it didn't last because he charmed a smile out of her. His name was Nakan. He had come here with his parents who were part of some common folk that had joined the slaves of Myr in an uprising against the masters. They'd failed and the ones who hadn't been slaughtered or put back in chains had fled. A few of the survivors had found themselves here. He was three and ten, but smaller than most of the boys his age.

 

"How long ago was this?"

 

"Just a little bit after dawn," he mumbled.

 

Whatever the Red Woman wanted to talk about couldn't have been that urgent if she hadn't sent someone else since then. Still, Dany decided to continue teaching her sons at a later time. She would go to the priestess.

 

Already impatient to leave, but needing her dismissal, Nakan shifted on his feet until she ruffled his hair and gave a small nod for him to leave.

 

The sun was high so she took the longer route beside the great lake so that the breeze would stave off some of the heat. She played a game with the boys until they got there.

 


 

Daeron was up in the air after she'd just given his brother a turn. They loved it. When she caught him and set him down, she noticed that Jaehaerys had frozen still, his eyes growing round at the sight of something. Puzzled, she followed his gaze and saw a great white red-eyed direwolf with a missing ear.

 

She shook her head and instinctively pushed her children behind her.

 

It was too many thoughts competing to come to fore at once and she couldn't get a hold of any of them to make sense of what she was seeing.

 

Distraught and wild-eyed, she looked around until she caught sight of a familiar head of wild flaming hair.

 

Oh gods.

 

Trying not to frighten the boys who were pointing and clutching onto her legs, she told Raemar to take the boys away quickly.

 

Tormund made his way to her, calling her by one of her old titles in greeting.

 

"Jon? Is he well?" she asked immediately, not answering his greeting. Her voice trembling in fear of what she might hear.

 

"Aye," the big man responded with a smile.

 

"Daenerys," Kinvara called.

 

Winter is coming. The words came to her again. This time with a new dawning.

 

"Come."

 

What came afterwards felt like she was a spectator to the events that were unfolding. She didn't remember leaving the courtyard and she didn't remember going inside Kinvara's home.

 

She tried to control her breathing, but she was going about it a poorly. She wiped her palms on her gown to dry them of the sweat that was there. She felt dizzy and light-headed.

 

"Dany," she heard that deep voice say in that burr that she had grown to love a lifetime ago.

 


 

She'd never really allowed herself think of what she would do if she ever saw him again because she never thought that she would ever see him again, but she was taken aback by the deep unbridled anger that ran through her at the sight of him.

 

"What is he doing here?" she asked Kinvara, ignoring Jon.

 

She knew it was an ill-conceived question seeing as Kinvara most as like didn't invite him to Essos.

 

"He's supposed to be here now," Kinvara stated without further explanation and left.

 

"Dany," he pleaded softly.

 

That was all it took for her temper to flare.

 

"Don't call me that!" she said harshly, adding as much anger to her tone as she could, "Don't ever call me that."

 

"Alright," he agreed.

 

She looked at him then. He was slimmer than before, but he didn't look ill. His hair and beard were neat, but longer. Gone were the northern clothes. In their place, he'd donned on lighter clothes more suitable for the heat of Essos. His eyes, haunted, were trained on her. He was holding a wooden sword in one hand and a satchel in another.

 

She shook her head and tried to say anything that would clear her confusion.

 

"Ser Davos told me about you and our child. Our children."

 

He hesitated when she didn't say anything, but went on, "I--I would have been here much sooner, but a plague broke out amongst the Free Folk."

 

Her silence stopped him from saying more. A thousand and one thoughts were running through her mind. The Free Folk? Were they a part of the Seven Kingdoms now? Why wasn't he with more guards here? What kind of a king traveled with just two people? What if something had happened to him on the way? Was he here to kill her again?

 

His hand clenching and unclenching the sword convulsively.

 

"You can't be here," she said when she could find her voice. "You have to leave. Go back to your kingdom and people."

 

"Dan--Daenerys..."

 

"You have to leave," she repeated. She wouldn't let him know how desperate she was so she kept her tone even.

 

He'd killed her and, though unbeknownst to him, the twins also. He had chosen his family over her without ever considering that she too was his family. She didn't trust him. Least of all anywhere near her children.

 

"You're a man of honour, Jon Snow. I trust that you will grant me this one thing."

 

And with that, she walked out of the house.

 

She kept a steady stride until she arrived home. Completely shaken, she hurried to where the twins were and reached for them just to reassure herself that they were safe and she wouldn't let anything happen to them for as long as she lived.

 

 


JON

 

From the window, he could see when she began to piece it all together. His silverhaired son had alerted her to Ghost, she looked stricken, then she saw Tormund and soon afterwards, Kinvara invited her in.

 

When she came in, it was all he could do not reach for her and bury his face in her hair, begging her for forgiveness. He drank in the sight of her. She was leaner. The sun had given her skin a healthy bronze look and beaten her silver hair an even paler shade if that were possible.

 

She was angry. Really angry to see him and refused to pay him any mind.

 

"What is he doing here?"

 

"He's supposed to be here now."

 

They were soon left alone to face each other.

 

When she finally faced him, a plethora of feelings brewed a storm in him leaving him tongue-tied. Guilt, love, shame, relief, happiness, fear and self-reproach all swirling in his gut; threatening to expel the little food that he had managed to eat the past day.

 

Not knowing the right thing to say, "Dany," was all he could manage.

 

She recoiled at the sound of that and insisted that he never call her that again. He nodded, only too eager to oblige if it meant that it was some form of payment for his misdeed.

 

"Alright."

 

She was looking at him now and though she tried to hide it, he could see the turmoil behind the anger. Neither of them spoke for the next few moments.

 

The silence was agonizing so he said, "Ser Davos told me about you and our child. Our children."

 

Silence.

 

The only indication he got from her that she had heard him was the double tap of her fore finger on the table. She did it when she was either impatient, uncertain or nervous. He couldn't tell what she felt so he rushed on;

 

"I--I would have been here much sooner, but a plague broke out amongst the Free Folk."

 

Even more silence.

 

This time her mouth did its little twitch. A sign that she wanted to say something, but was holding back. That gave him hope. At least she was willing to talk to him.

 

She finally spoke and when she did, it was to say;

 

"You can't be here." A pause. "You have to leave. Go back to your people and your kingdom."

 

"Dan--Daenerys..."

 

She cut him off. "You have to leave," she insisted.

 

Before he could get in a word, she said, "You're a man of honour, Jon Snow. I trust that you will grant me this one thing."

 

In the midst of his sinking hope, he clung onto the fact that she'd called him by his name. Hearing it from her after all this time, after never thinking to hear it again, was a sweet kind of hell.

 

A few moments later, he watched her leave.

 

He didn't know what would happen from here on out, but he knew that he loved her. He knew he had no right to claim that he did, but by the old gods and the new, he loved her.

 


 

He was not sure how long he stood in that empty space until Kinvara's voice brought him back to the present.

 

"She hates me," he observed.

 

"You killed her," she said not unkindly.

 

That overbearing guilt that gnawed at him came rising to the surface. He swallowed and forced it down.

 

"She doesn't want me here."

 

"No. But she needs you here. My work here is almost done and your family needs all the protection that it can get."

 

Dismay instantly forgotten at that, he asked sharply, "Did you see something in the fire?"

 

"Yes. And no. She's Daenerys Stormborn. She will always be in danger. As long as she's alive, she'll always be a threat to somebody. As will you, Jon Snow. You'll never really be safe. Neither her nor you nor your sons."

 

He would lay waste to this world before he let any danger near them.

 

A sudden exhaustion overcame him then. He rubbed his face. He was tired from all the fighting. Life wasn't about looking out for death. That wasn't living.

 

You'll be fighting their battles forever.

 

"You and your friends can stay the night here. I asked that a meal and hot baths be prepared for you all. Rest, Jon Snow, for the journey is far."

 

"What are their names?"

 

"Daeron is the one with hair like yours. Jaehaerys is the one with his mother's hair."

 

Daeron and Jaehaerys. Strong names. They were named after The Young Dragon and the Old King. He smiled at that.

 

"Thank you."

Chapter Text

TORMUND

 

Three weeks. That's how long they had been in Vaes Dothrak. The first night, they'd spent at the Red Woman's abode, but neither he nor Jon liked it there so they asked for a place that they could set camp. Her men showed them a good spot that was just a safe distance away from the settlement.

 

He'd thought that seeing Daenerys would help Jon get better, but the man looked more lost than he had before they sailed for Essos.

 

Tormund thought about the children. They looked like pretty little girls. Jon still hadn't gone anywhere near them and if he even spared a glance their way on the rare occasions that he saw them, there was always some guard or ten watching and giving him suspicious looks. They didn't trust Tormund either. Daenerys didn't want them here or so Jon had said, but piss on that. They didn't travel all the way to this foreign hell just so that they could turn back at the Dragon Queen's command.

 

He and Jon couldn't sit idly by so, uninvited, they joined the natives of the place to look for wild horses, break them in and sell them at the Western Market. It was better than nothing. Neither of them knew the first thing about it, but they were learning. These days, it was the one thing that he looked forward to at dawn every day.

 

He used a cloth to wipe the sweat from his face. He winced at the gash on his side from where he barely missed the hoof of one of those bastards.

 

"Tormund!"

 

It was Liram. He was walking towards him with a plate of food and a horn of what Tormund hoped was the ale that they had bought from Myr. It was some of the best he'd ever had.

 

"Well met," Tormund murmured gruffly when he accepted the offerings.

 

"You've been spending too much time with the Bastard. Brooding doesn't suit you, Come sit with the rest of us."

 

"And say what? I can't understand what they're saying," he said between bites.

 

"Well, you never will if you insist on separating yourself from them," Liram retorted. "And some of them do speak the Common Tongue. Join us."

 

"When I'm done eating," Tormund conceded grudgingly. Liram left him alone to wolf down his meal.

 

He looked around for Jon. The lad was still at it. Splattered in mud and struggling with a thrashing horse. At least he wasn't nursing his hurt of being kept away from his sons. He knew it pained Jon more than he would ever admit that Daenerys saw him as a threat to their offspring. It didn't help that on occasion, he'd seen them with that man who was always around Daenerys and looked like the boys' father to anyone who didn't know the truth. Daario, his name was. A cocksure fucker whom he would have liked to fight beside on the battlefield. Or against. A formidable foe was almost as valued as a loyal ally.

 

He missed the simple life of the Free Folk. If a man wanted a woman or anything, he just took it if he could. But Jon would never do that. No. He was too honest and honourable for that. He most as like thought that it would be selfish of him to make those demands of the queen.

 

He thought about his people far across the sea. Were they well? At Jon's suggestion, he had moved them close to Eastwatch because it was close to the sea where they could fish and game had returned to those woods close by. He worried for them even though he always waved away Jon's concern whenever he thought that he was keeping Tormund away from his people. They were in trusted hands and Jon needed all the support that he could get.

 

He cleaned his mouth and took a swig of ale. It had a bitter aftertaste. Not as good as fermented goat's milk, but certainly better than the dog piss they had on the ship that had set sail from Westeros. He took another swig and got up to join the natives.

 


 

Tormund grunted as they hefted the last of their purchases on the wagon. It was a good day. They had sold a few horses and made enough money to buy supplies and livestock. He'd bought two female goats and a male goat in addition to all they'd bought. The market was bustling with life. They passed by hagglers almost coming to blows. Across the street, a puppeteer had set up a little play and a small group of people, mainly children, gathered around him. Vendors walked the streets calling for customers to buy their goods.

 

The air smelled of fried foods, rich perfumes, leather, fresh wood and animal dung.

 

He bared his teeth at the children pointing in their direction and they ran away. He chuckled to himself. He knew they pointed at the wolf. Ghost had become like Jon's shadow. He was never far away. It had earned Jon the name "Zolka Vala" which meant 'wolf man'.

 

"Today is a good day," Jon commented.

 

"Aye."

 

"Is that all we need?"

 

"Aye, lad."

 

"Those smell good," Jon said tilting his head at the frying sausages dripping with oil.

 

"Aye," Tormund agreed more enthusiastically.

 

He tossed a coin at Jon who went on to buy some sausages and fruits.

 

"I'll be over there," he told the lad, pointing at an empty stall at the far end of the bazaar.

 

He slapped the rump of his horse prompting the beast to move.

 


 

He was enjoying the shade that the stall provided when he heard his name.

 

It was the Red Witch and she wasn't alone. In her arm and the arm of one of her guards were two little boys who were looking at him with curious eyes.

 

"Witch," he responded in greeting.

 

It was his first time of being this close to them. Though they favoured their mother, he could see their father in them too.

 

He smiled at the one with silver hair who proceeded to hide his face in the Red Woman's shoulder. Jaehaerys, Jon had said his name was.

 

"Is Jon Snow here?"

 

He turned his attention back to the Red Witch and motioned with his head for her to look behind her.

 

Jon slowed his steps as he approached them. His eyes darting between the boys.

 

"Kinvara," he said in a voice that gave nothing away, eyes still on the boys.

 

She didn't respond, but was saying something to both boys in a foreign tongue.

 

The boys looked at Jon then, but their interest soon turned to Ghost.

 

"We came to watch the puppet play," she finally told Jon.

 

Tormund watched with interest as she tried to pass the boy with her to Jon, but the little one only clung tighter to her.

 

"They don't know you," the Red Woman said almost apologetically.

 

Jon's response was a quick strained smile that didn't reach his eyes.

 

Undeterred, she told the guard to hand over the boy with him to Jon. This time, when Jon stretched his hands, this child didn't reject him. This one's name was Daeron.

 

It was interesting to witness; Jon hesitantly reached up to touch the boy's hair as if he was afraid of spooking him. The child looked at Jon like one would a stranger.

 

Tormund looked away and saw the Red Witch talking to Jaehaerys. Whatever she was saying had him shake his head from side to side. She sighed and kissed the side of his head.

 

He looked back to Jon and saw him bury his face in the boy's hair with his eyes shut tight. Daeron soon began to fidget and Jon loosened his grip. The guard reached for the child who stretched towards him eagerly. Jon looked at Jaehaerys again whose head was now resting on the Red Witch's shoulder. He caressed the boy's cheek and thanked Kinvara.

 

"You're their father," she simply stated and left.

 

Jon stared at them until they disappeared from sight.

 

"Today is a good day!" Tormund remarked and clasped his friend on the shoulder.

 

"Aye," Jon replied with a smile in his voice.

 


 

Two moon turns. That's how long they had been here and that's how long Daenerys had stubbornly refused for Jon to go near his children. Well, she was none the wiser because Kinvara brought them to see their father from time to time. Although they were usually heavily guarded with Jon dispatched of his weapons, it made no matter. They still hadn't grown used to him, but at least, he was no longer a complete stranger.

 

Tonight, he and Jon sat under the stars exchanging stories and a tankard of bitter ale.

 

He could hear Liram snoring not so far away.

 

"...and I returned the sword back to him, but he refused it."

 

"Valyrian steel? You're an honourable man, Jon Snow."

 

"Am I?" He asked. His voice had grown quiet. "What kind of man kills the woman loves the same way that he was killed? I lured her like my men did and betrayed her trust like my men did. That's not honour."

 

Tormund had no answer for him so he avoided the subject all together and told ribald jokes of Sheila the Bear instead.

 


 

When all had quieted down, he wondered what the future held. There was a time when the biggest threat had been the Night King. Now, it was the uncertainty that came with a new day.

 

The last thing he saw before he drifted off to sleep was large wing flying above their camp.

 

 


MAGGO

 

Word was spreading fast that their Khal, Khal Naqo, was thinking of invading the lands closest to their Island. He had taken up residence in the Dragon Castle, a gift from the Halfman. He boasted that one Dothraki rider was worth ten pink men. There were also whispers that Khal Naqo was also talking of bringing back slavery.

 

Maggo recoiled at the thought. It went against everything their Khal of Khals had stood for and she who had ridden the greatest mount had commanded them against it. But she had fallen and the older members of their Khalasar had not completely given up on their old ways. After their period of mourning, the strongest men had taken the most comely and fertile women to their beds by force and for some, any woman who refused was raped and beaten beyond recognition.

 

As warriors with nothing to do, agitation was spreading within their Khalasar. There was a growing split between those who honoured the old ways and those who had embraced the revolutionary ideals of their Khaleesi. The former group employed intimidation to silence the more radical group who wanted peace and reform.

 

He was born of a new generation. The generation with the right ideals. As a little boy, he had seen her walk out of the flames in their holy place. A god amongst men and they had all bowed at her feet. They had crossed the poisoned waters for her and, though he'd been too young to fight in the wars, they had fought against the dead and conquered the capital. Now someone unworthy had taken her place and threatened to shit on her name.

 

His blood boiled.

 

Someone yanked his braid and he scowled as he glanced back at the perpetrator. His scowl soon softened to a smile.

 

"Mother," he greeted her in their Mother Tongue.

 

She was one of the voices of reform. Secret meetings, she held in hidden caves; giving hope and reminding those who cared to listen of the dream of their Khaleesi. She was also a widow who hadn't passed her prime years of bearing children. How long before one of the men set their sights on her.

 

A young woman came in after her and threw an arakh at his feet. He didn't flinch, but grinned at her. Vrozzi, his sister.

 

She had first cut her dark hair short when word of the Khaleesi's death had reached them. She had taken it harder than most. Vrozzi hadn't been much older when Daenerys burned down the temple and she had worshipped their Khaleesi since then. She'd fought and bargained her way into the personal employ of the Dragon Queen, to hear her tell it. In truth, she hadn't really worked closely with the Dragon Queen, but her advisor, the now dead Missandei. In that time, she had gleaned all the information she could about the Dragon Queen and had been gifted an old trinket that belonged to the Khaleesi. It was a three-headed dragon pin. A possession that Vrozzi treasured above all else.

 

Today, she still wore her hair short to honour their fallen Khaleesi.

 

She'd been spying for their mother and reporting back with any news of unrest and ill will towards the new Khal.

 

She gestured for him to throw an apple to her and said, "I did what you asked, mother," crunch, "Twelve more families are willing to stand up against Naqo."

 

"Lower your voice," their mother whispered, "You're sure?"

 

"Yesshh," she answered with her mouth full.

 

"Good. Soon, we will be free of him."

 

Maggo hoped for this too. Until then, they would watch and wait.

 


 

Across the Narrow Sea, a man stood left his lovers' arms. A messenger had come from Westeros with word that the silver bitch was dead. He grinned. She'd stolen from them and demeaned them by making slaves around the continent think that they had a right to freedom. They'd been subdued in fear of her dragons and armies, but now, not only was she dead, two of he dragons were dead and her armies were scattered across the world.

 

The Second Sons were fearsome, but it made no matter. There were mercenaries everywhere and with the right amount of gold, their guild would buy as many as they needed to flush them out of Slavers Bay.

Chapter Text


SAMWELL

 

When he was a boy, he read stories of great heroes; great men who had fought against evil and changed the world. He had been named after one such man. The heroic deeds of legends remained long after they were gone; kept alive by minstrels and old wives' tales. Nobody ever spoke about the aftermath of their victories. That's because there was no poetry or song in the world that could paint a beautiful picture of shit.

 

He never thought that the day would come when he would miss the miserable cold and the hard life that the Wall had provided. Their problems had been much more simpler and they had a good sense of right and wrong. Now, the lines were blurred and he didn't know how to separate them.

 

He'd come into power knowing that there would be some blowback from the detractors at the Citadel, but nothing had prepared him for the magnitude of it. They had sent ravens across the now Six Kindgoms and the North saying that they didn't recognize him as the grandmaester. Truth be told, it was farcical that he was a grandmaester. He never finished his studies at the Citadel. One had to first become a maester and then master a particular subject to become an archmaester. Even then, it wasn't just any archmaester that became a grandmaester. A conclave of archmaesters sat behind closed doors to decide who would represent them in the Small Council and that was how a grandmaester was chosen. He had skipped all of that and eagerly grabbed at the position because he knew that he would do a lot more good than the relics at Oldtown who dubbed themselves 'Knights of the Mind.'

 

He could hear his father's disdainful voice. If he were alive, Sam wouldn't even be here. If he were alive, it wouldn't have set of the chain of events that led to Daenerys' death. But she wasn't dead, was she? She was alive somewhere and for reasons unknown, no one could find her. Not even Bran. It troubled him, but it wasn't an immediate concern. Voices of discontent were also growing in the Reach.

 

On one hand, he had the Citadel to deal with. On the other hand, the lords of the Reach had grown tired of Bronn. The man was an illiterate who had no business ruling one of the Six Kindgoms. He was an insolent rogue that changed alliegances on a whim and he didn't have allies save for the lickspittles that he had surrounded himself with. He was a dangerous man who had access to all the wealth of the Kingdoms which he used to buy armies from across the Narrow Seas. More sellswords. More potential foreign invaders with no Dragonlord to keep them in check. They were going around the Reach intimidating everyone who wouldn't or couldn't meet Bronn's demands. The most formidable army, though not the largest, that the Reach had had been from HornHill, but they were a lot fewer now because most of them had died in battle against Daenerys.

 

He still had the matter of the Faith, who had their strongest following in Oldtown, to contend with. They wanted Bran out and spat on the idea that someone who worshipped the old gods would lead them. There was already a conspiracy that Tyrion Lannister and his family had deposed of the High Sparrow who had defanged the Lannisters so that he could install Bran as his puppet king in the guise of atonement for what the Lannisters did to the Starks. No one truly believed that a cripple could rule and no one thought good of Tyrion because, after all, he was a dwarf, and worse, a kinslayer.

 

It was all too much. None of them had thought ahead because if they had, Jon and Daenerys would have been the rulers of the Seven Kingdoms.

 

He balled up the scroll in his hand and threw it away. Shakily reaching for his goblet of wine, he drank it all in one gulp.

 

The door to his solar creaked open and a little head poked inside.

 

"Father?" her small voice called.

 

"Yes, sweetling?"

 

He calmed his heart and forced a smile so as not to scare her. She and her brother and their mother were the reason why he was doing this.

 

She ran to him and knocked over the bottle of ink on his desk.

 

"Careful now," he chided gently and took a cloth to wipe the mess.

 

"Sorry," she said in a muted tone.

 

"That's alright. Why aren't you asleep?"

 

She shrugged and shivered.

 

The winds of winter still wandered about the continent even after these years. He could feel the chill slipping through the cold stone walls so he got up and added a few logs of wood to the fire. She followed him and he hugged her close.

 

"Better?"

 

She smiled at him in response.

 

Samwell knew that she wanted a story so he dragged a chair, sat her on his lap and obliged her. She had him wrapped around her finger and she knew it. He was sterner with his son, but not enough to scare the lad away from him. He loved his children and he would keep blurring all the lines, if need be, to protect them. He would kill if he had to and hold onto power if that meant losing a part of himself.

 

 


YARA

 

She had yet to hear back from the Dragon Queen. It had been two years since she sent a message through Liram to her. Three simple words: Fire and Blood.

 

To honour the queen, she had stopped her people from raping, but their islands needed to survive and the fastest way that they knew how was by raiding. Some of her men had led small attacks on Lannisport. Their only spoils had been goods. No salt wives.

 

She had set her sights on White Harbor, but Lannisport was nearer and richer in goods. White Harbor was also part of an independent kingdom. One that the crown had strong ties with.

 

Independent kingdom, my arse, she sneered. It was horse shit.

 

She didn't know why everyone went along with it and didn't protest. Things had happened so hastily and looking back, none of it made sense. But time had rid them of the scales in their eyes and there was a wave of growing unrest spreading through out the remaining six kindgoms. A storm was coming. How fitting that it was coming with the arrival of the one who was named for one of the worst storms that the then Seven Kingdoms had ever seen.

 

She tried to relish the thought of bathing in the blood of her enemies, but doubt slithered its way into her thoughts, reminding her of the hope she had had in her queen the last time. Questioning if the Dragon Queen was really alive.

 

If she's alive, why hasn't anyone said anything?

 

No word from Liram. No word from Ser Davos. She wanted to believe that the queen was coming back, but sometimes she wondered...

 

 


KINVARA

 

She was giving instructions at a rapid pace to the stone masons. They were erecting a small temple to honour R'hollor. Many of the former slaves who had settled in Vaes Dothrak were worshippers of R'hollor. She had spoken with the Dragon Queen and upon her approval, had sent word to Volantis and now, their town was bustling with even more activities. It was a funny thing, that; she'd slowly deferred leadership responsibilities to the queen because that was where Daenerys shined and now, she was the one who everyone turned to while Kinvara, the Priests, the Priestesses and a few of the older folk served as a sort of council to the queen.

 

It always amazed her to see how quickly humans settled in and adapted to new environs.

 

In the four years that they had been here, they had a town square, several farms in one massive farmland, a small forge, a bakery and a small barracks. Houses were springing up here and there. The streets were becoming more alive with wagons and animals and children causing a wonderful kind of chaos. The main streets were paved with cobblestone and trees lined up either side of them. Flowers of yellow and blues and greens and purple were planted everywhere. Oh, and the lemon trees. The queen had an affinity for them. Under the queen's watchful eye, their small town was quaint, but neat and with its own sort of charm.

 

Word was beginning to spread of the "Cannibal Village" protected by a lone dragon. They were becoming a curiosity, but most people who had heard of them thought it nonsense.

 

Good. We're safer that way.

 

She lifted a bucket of water and took it to where a group of men were moulding mortar. They thanked her reverently and she smiled at them.

 

Everyone who lived here had a role to play. Those who weren't building were fishing and those who weren't fishing were weaving. Or sewing. Or looking for wild horses to domesticate. It was in that, their visitors from Westeros had found kindred souls. It was the only place where they, especially Jon, didn't feel out of place.

 

He was trying, but it wasn't easy when the vernacular was a barrier and even harder when the people had adopted their leader's attitude of distrust. The people were curious about him enough to give him the nickname 'Wolf man', but they couldn't trust someone who still segregated himself after spending close to five moon turns in their town. It made them wary especially when Daenerys made no moves to welcome him. Tormund had an easier time of it because, well, he was Tormund; boisterous with an easy laugh and exaggerated ribald tales. Liram could speak and communicate in several languages and more importantly, he translated Tormund's stories so they both had, in a way, found a place with a few townsfolk.

 

Jon, however, was a quiet and brooding foreigner who didn't look like them nor speak like them nor bother to join them in any activities that didn't involve work. He seemed aloof and that made him unlikable.

 

Little do they know, she mused.

 

It was not necessarily his doing. He wanted to make up for the hurt that he'd caused Daenerys and so he had let her dictate the limits to which he would interact with her people.

 

But no matter how much she thought she didn't want Jon here, Daenerys was still drawn to him. On more than one occasion, when they'd crossed paths, Kinvara had watched the Dragon Queen watch him and then avert her eyes when he caught her looking. Truth be told, if she didn't want him here then he wouldn't be here.

 

She frowned at the glare of the sun.

 

Ignoring things wasn't the best way to deal with them. Eventually, whatever was brewing beneath the surface was sure to come to fore the way pus did when one burst a boil.

 

The children were another matter all together. Daenerys didn't trust him around them. She was, to put it mildly, very suspicious. It was understandable all things considered. The Dragon Queen had already lost everything once before. Thanks, in no small part, to him. It came as no surprise that she guarded what she treasured the most to this degree.

 

"THROW IT!" someone yelled from above her, interrupting her thoughts. She bent her head to avoid hitting it against a log of rotting wood that lay horizontally between two newly constructed windows. Wherever she passed she was met with reverent greetings or fear or both.

 

She remembered the twins' third name day. There had been a small feast in their honour. Some town's people had come bearing gifts and gathered around tables full of food and drink. She had been off attending to some religious rites to thank R'hollor for another fruitful year. When she'd returned, she'd seen people dancing and making merry, but that didn't draw her attention as much as the man lurking in the shadows, looking from the outside in;

 

"You can join them down there, you know."

 

Startled, his hand went for his sword and relaxed when he saw who had spoken.

 

He shook his head and held up a satchel, "Give this to them, will you?"

 

"Give them yourself."

 

And so he had, but not until a week later. It had all started when she saw Tormund at the Western Market. On impulse, she'd taken the boys to meet their father. What she saw that day, had made her decide to go against the young queen's wishes. It wasn't her doing the Lord's wish; it was someone who had lived for millennia and seen how fleeting life could be to not grasp at any illusions of happiness that one happened upon. When one lived as long as she had, one had an unrestricted view of things. She was also acting because according to Melisendre, Jon had taken the Lord's burden upon himself when the night was darkest. He had fought and he had lost. Now he needed to heal as much as she, Daenerys, did and the children would play a part in that.

 

Kinvara wasn't one to meddle in small matters especially those of the domestic kind, but she felt a compulsion to in this case.

 

After the union with their father at the market, she had started taking the boys to visit with him and those visits had become more frequent. She never left them alone with him, but she didn't intrude on their time together. It didn't take long for them to warm up to him. The wolf had served as common ground for them to bond. He was still Zolka Vala, 'Wolf Man', to them, but a stranger he was no more.

 

There were a few hindrances like communication; for though they could hear the Common Tongue, they couldn't speak it very well and always ended up responding back to him in a bastardized hybrid version of the Common Tongue and High Valyrian that he couldn't make much sense of.

 

When Daenerys had found out what was happening, she had been very angry as was expected and conspicuous threats of dragonfire had been thrown around, but the young queen wasn't one to ignore reason. She might be wary around Jon, but there was a part of her that knew that they were safe with him especially in the wake of a possible enemy attack. The children needed as much protection as they could get. It had taken a bit of time convince her, however.

 


 

She rubbed the scar on her thumb. It had been throbbing more recently. Before the twins were born, she'd felt a cold presence probe her. With some incantations, she discovered that it was the Three-Eyed Raven. People thought that it was a force for good, but they were sorely mistaken. Like the Night King, the Three-Eyed Raven was a creation of the Children. Where the Night King had strayed from their intentions, Three-Eyed Raven had been the correction of their mistake. He was here almost as long as the Night King; slipping into different forms as time passed. This time, he was Brandon Stark. The crippled king. He was looking for Daenerys and her children, but he couldn't find them. She'd made sure of that. She had slashed her thumb and marked each of their foreheads with her blood. She had dipped that same bleeding thumb to the lake that was a source of life to their settlement. He could look, but he wouldn't see.

 

 


DAARIO

 

"If you're not going to kill me, join me for a drink," the bastard said calmly. Daario waited for a bit and then sheathed his dagger; a myrish stiletto with a hilt fashioned as a naked woman made in gold.

 

It was Daario's first encounter with Jon Snow.

 

"Did she send you to kill me?" he had asked warily.

 

"Daenerys has a guild of people who live for the dark arts devoted her. If you were a threat, you would be dead. She doesn't want you dead."

 

"She certainly doesn't want me here."

 

"Would you want you here? She doesn't trust you, as is her prerogative."

 

Jon looked at him then and offered him what he was drinking.

 

Daario spared a quick glance at the wineskin outstretched towards him in offering and refused it.

 

Jon shrugged, corked the skin firmly and threw it gently on the makeshift bed situated on the hard ground just beside the fire.

 

"I should kill you like I should have killed the dwarf."

 

"What's stopping you?"

 

"Our queen wouldn't like it." He observed Jon for a beat and then asked, "Why'd you do it?"

 

"I don't know. I thought I was doing the right thing; the honourable thing. It's not something that I can take back no matter how much I want to," Jon replied

 

"Why are you here? After all this time?"

 

"To make sure that they don't get to her and my sons."

 

"They won't. Kinvara has her and this place shrouded in some magic."

 

"Can the magic stop spies?"

 

"Who knows? Whatever comes, they'll be safe." From a distance, he could hear the crack of thunder follow the lightening that struck some leagues away from whence they were. "Tend to the things that matter to you, bastard. Leave her and the children alone."

 

If Jon heard him, he didn't show it.

 

Daario gave him one hard look and left him to stew in the misery he'd brought upon himself.

 


 

He'd been charged with training some of the men how to fight. If there was an attack at the very moment on their settlement, not a lot of them would make it. He pushed an olive skinned man to the ground knocked the spear off his hands.

 

"Dead." Daario said without a smile.

 

He heard a chuckle and turned towards the sound.

 

Daenerys.

 

"You think you can do this better than me?" he asked in a teasing tone.

 

All she did was smile at him.

 

Whatever this was between them, he really liked. He knew she wanted him. She'd once told him that the Dothraki made love in the open because there was no shame in it. He tried it, not with her unfortunately, but with the wife of the petty trader who always made eyes at him. He remembered it clearly; Daenerys had been coming back from somewhere and had seen him locked in the throes of wantonness with the petty trader's wife. At first, she'd been surprised to see anyone on that path and then she'd stopped and looked into his eyes as he fucked that woman. He remembered the look on her face. Hooded eyes, one hand on her neck, the other one reaching for her breast. It just made him go harder at it. It was a heady thing seducing the queen even when he didn't mean to. She'd stayed for a bit longer before she walked away, but not before throwing him one last look over her shoulder. That was all it took to make him spill his seed into the petty trader's wife. Since that day, their light-hearted colloquy with undertones of the promise of tireless nights in bed had returned. Or so he'd thought.

 

Like the last time in Meereen, he wanted to play; to take his time in courting her. He wanted to be the first man that she took to her bed when she was ready, but it was clear to him, however, that since the bastard had come, something had changed.

 

She still loved Jon.

 

She was a very desirable woman and but for the men who found their affections in other men or boys, he'd hardly met any man who didn't become lovestruck around her. Yet, as vast as Essos and Westeros were, she'd chosen to give her heart to the one who was the most unworthy of it. And despite what he had done to her, Daario could see that she deeply cared for Jon Snow. If not, he would be ashes by now and nowhere near her children.

 

Daario hated to admit it, but he wasn't one to lie; Jon was a good leader. He might still be having a tough time of it with being an outsider, but with those whom he worked, even with the need for a translator, the people deferred to him on many matters.

 

He walked up to her and she offered him a drink. It was one thing to have her body and another to have her heart. He wished for both. Thanking her, he brushed her hair away from her face. Lingering his fingers a bit too long.

 

She was the reason he was still here. She and the twins. They were a family of sorts to him, but Meereen was home. They all belonged there. With him.

 


 

He awoke with a start. He didn't feel right. Maybe it was because he'd been away from Meereen for too long, but he felt troubled. He missed fighting and he missed exerting power. He wasn't built for this the simplicity that the life here offered. He had to go back. He got up from his pallet and adjusted his eyes to the darkness. He put on his breeches and boots and began to ready himself for the day. He would wash after he trained. He thought about his men and wondered how they were faring. He worried about how volatile the tides were in the Bay of Dragons; riots broke out on a whim. They still had a long way to go before they achieved true stability.

 


 

"No. Jaehaerys, watch me."

 

They were three years of age now and he'd convinced Daenerys to let him start training them.

 

He gestured fancifully with his practice sword, but that wasn't as impressive as the white direwolf that had just padded into the training arena.

 

"Zolka Vala!" they shouted in excitement and ran to the wolf and its owner.

 

Jon didn't come around here often, but since their mother's approval of his time with the twins, he seemed to know when the boys were training and hung around to watch their progress.

 

"Papa, jurnegon," Jaehaerys called to him and ran back to pulled him towards the wolf.

 

He hadn't bothered to correct the boys from referring to him as their father and Daenerys didn't seem to mind. He was amused by the look on Jon's face.

 

He'd known them for much longer than Jon had. The same was true for them. The people here also thought he was their father. Life had many pleasures and this was one of them.

 


 

"I'm worried?" Daario said.

 

"You? Worry?"

 

She was in a good mood. She popped a grape into her mouth and he licked his lips at a memory of one of the times that they'd fucked when she still ruled Meereen. That mouth was around his cock in this memory.

 

Oblivious to his thoughts, her incredulous look made him add;

 

"I'm worried that there's unrest in the Bay of Dragons. I should go back and you should come with me."

 

She laughed this time. She didn't think him serious.

 

Her dragon rumbled and shifted it's wing, causing a short current of hot wind to blow away her scarf.

 

He shifted his gaze from her to look at the flatland and the few white lions languishing under a tree. They kept their distance away from the greater predator.

 

"I mean it. Come with me. You and the boys are royalty and is there anywhere else where your reign was more recognized than in Meereen?"

 

"I'm no longer a queen, Daario, and even if I wanted to, the people here need me."

 

His patience had all but corroded now.

 

"And what of the former slaves over there? Aren't they your people too? What happens if the Masters rise up against them?"

 

Her gaiety disappeared with the warning look she gave him;

 

"The Second Sons have kept the peace, haven't they?"

 

"They're sellswords, Daenerys. Treacherous by nature. How long before they tire of patrolling?"

 

"They've been rewarded handsomely and if I recall, you were eager to call them here in the not so distant past," she argued back.

 

"The difference being that word of your demise was nothing but a rumour. I've been here long enough. I have to go back. It must be spreading fast that you're no more. What do you think the slavers will do when they receive confirmation that you're supposedly dead?"

 

She had no answer for that, but he knew she was troubled because she knew his words to be true.

 

He changed the subject.

 

"You told me Targaryens wed brother and sister. Why didn't you just wed Jon Snow? You're both Targaryens and you're not that closely related."

 

Her eyes widened in surprise at the sudden change in discourse and she considered him as if weighing her answer before she said;

 

"I... did want that," she replied, settling for the honest answer. "But that was before I knew about his claim to the throne. It was a threat to everything I'd worked so hard to get and things happened. I came to terms with it again, but only a little too late."

 

He wanted to probe her more, but this matter was painful for her to broach so he relented.

 

"Go to Meereen, Daario Naharis. If the Masters dare, send word and I'll come for them with Fire and Blood."

 

There she is.

 

He leaned in to kiss her, waiting to see if she would meet him half way. She did, but it was a close mouthed kiss.

 

He sighed and rested his forehead against hers.

 

"You still love him," he stated the obvious.

 

When she didn't deny it, he continued light-heartedly, "Maybe if I kill you and the Red Woman brings you back, you'll return my affections."

 

That drew a laugh from her. When her shoulders stopped shaking in mirth, she kissed him. This time, it was deep and long and, oddly, it felt like a farewell to what might have been.

Chapter Text

DAENERYS

 

When she had heard about the plans of her enemies towards her and her children, the first thing that she thought of doing was flying on Drogon's back to where they were and ending it all, once and for all. But two things had stopped her; Kinvara had covered them from the all seeing eye of Bran and the other was that, she had just one dragon.

 

The last time her life and that of her child had been under attack, Drogo had been about to go on a rampage for her and their son, but she'd lost her family and almost everything else in the process. She'd gained three dragons from that misfortune and eventually, two of the most powerful armies in the world. As misfortune would have it, she had lost most of those in Westeros. This time, she had to be more cautious than ever before because Tyrion knew her vulnerabilities. He knew that scorpions could kill her dragon. She didn't have an army to be a bulwark against whatever she might face. She also knew that flying away from this place to Westeros would expose her, or at least her dragon to Bran. So, she did this time what she wouldn't have done at any other time before now: she waited. But there was even more trouble gathering force somewhere else across the world.

 

What do you think the slavers will do when they get bold enough?

 

Her conversation with Daario worried her to no end. Since she'd been resurrected, she had put away her house words, distancing herself from its tarnished legacy, however if ensuring that free men, women and children stayed free meant that she would pick up that mantle again, then so be it. She fingered the scroll from Yara Greyjoy. It was a message from her envoy and it said three simple words; Fire and Blood.

 


 

Daenerys, situated at the head of the table, rubbed the bridge of her nose as she waited for the din of the crowd to settle down. They were in a crudely built hall made of mortar, wood and hay with a floor of hard packed earth that served as a poor replica of what a Great Hall should look like where they held "court" or celebrations. A part of it had been torn down for proper construction and also so that the building wouldn't cave in on them one day. It had been agreed upon that twice a week, her entire day would be dedicated to attending to her people. Today, dissent had arisen because the head of the guild of merchants who had settled down in the town had been found guilty of stealing from their levies to further things on his own end. The town's people were gathered, sitting on either mats or wooden benches, deliberating what should be done. Some suggestions were a bit bloodthirsty.

 

"In Myr, we don't suffer a thief to go back with whole body parts, Mhysa. I say, cut off his hand. It will be a warning to anyone who thinks of being dishonest," a man weathered with age said a little too eagerly in the Myrish dialect of Valyrian.

 

Voices erupted, some in agreement, and others opposing the idea.

 

She exchanged a brief look with Kinvara and said, "Thank you, Harar."

 

In some places, the thief would be hanged, but if there was one thing that she had learnt, it was that small mercies could be all that it took to make a big difference.

 

"Kinvara?"

 

At the mention of Red Woman's name, the man fell on his knees. While the people respected her, many of them were frightened by Kinvara, especially the ones who hadn't come from Volantis. The Red Woman, on a few occasions, had made a show of great power that drew from a dark source. It was all a ruse to bolster the reputation of the horrors of a "haunted" Vaes Dothrak.

 

The accused look to Daenerys, his eyes imploring that she not leave him alone with the Red Woman. She let him stew in his fear. She already knew what she would do. They didn't have cells or dungeons here, but she had a dragon and staring it in the face was sure to keep the people in check. She knew it wouldn't last if people saw that all she did was intimidate them, but before they caught on, she would think of something else.

 

A movement at the far end of the hall caught her eye and her heart raced when she saw who it was.

 

Jon.

 

He and the man named Liram had just slunk in, accompanied by the wolf, drawing little to no attention to themselves. She quickly looked away, but she was very heedful of him.

 

She centred her attention back to the matter at hand. Or at least she tried to. Her eyes flitted back to Jon and she quickly took him in. His hair and beard were shorter than the last time she'd seen him. His skin was darker, a result of being under the eastern sun, days at a time.

 

She'd told him to go back and at the time, she had meant it, but right now, she didn't know what she wanted. Kinvara had given him and his little "retinue" a partition of land to stay on, on the outskirts of their little town, and for the most part, he'd stayed away.

 

At first, it surprised her that the king of the Seven Kingdoms would come all the way to this part of the world and stay here for this long with just two other people, but she'd found out from Tormund everything that had happened.

 

Kinvara's lyrical voice brought her back to the present. The accused was looking to her now and she maintained the stern look on her face which did nothing to give away the conflicting thoughts in her that were battling against each other.

 

Her mind went back to Jon. When she'd found out that her sons had been spending time with him, she'd been angry, but beneath that anger had been fear. The last time he had to choose, he'd chosen the family that he grew up with and had ended the one that, together, they had unwittingly built. What happened if he had to make that choice again? Kinvara had made a case for him on many an occasion that she'd eventually succumbed. When it came to Jon, even with what had transpired between them, her will was fragile. When she allowed herself delve even deeper than the fear, there was a part of her that knew that the children were safe with him. The part of her that steadfastly loved him.

 

And that's the part of you that got you killed, she reminded herself. It always came back to this and that wariness was the only thing that she would allow herself trust.

 

As if sensing that she was watching him he looked at her then. She darted her eyes away and turned away so she could fully commit to what she had set out to do.

 

She gave her verdict and a guard took the man away to await his punishment. Over the course of what had begun to feel like an eternity, she listened, advised, commanded and rewarded where it was due. She'd slipped into the role of leader without meaning to. At first, when she'd been brought here, she had lost all and every enthusiasm to engage in anything. But then, her sons had been born and slowly, she'd found herself connecting with the world around her more. Soon, she began to communicate with others and then bonds began to form. She felt responsible for them. They came here because they felt safe and she would do whatever she could to protect that sense of safety.

 

She thought of the Eastern Market that instant. They had focused so much on the Western Market that they'd paid little to no mind of what happened on the other end of Vaes Dothrak. She worried that if something happened, they wouldn't be able to protect themselves. She no longer had command of three dragons and the largest armies the world had ever seen.

 

She had been in talks with Kinvara about it, but as helpful as she was, the Red Woman was no soldier. Daario would know what to do. So would Jorah. She felt that ripple of guilt go through her. He died protecting her. What would he say to me now? Would he be ashamed of me? She didn't allow herself dwell on that. She couldn't. For the sake of her sanity.

 

Jon would know what to do if he knew the Eastern armies well. She didn't know if she could bring sellswords to this place. She trusted them as far as she could spit. If someone else paid them more, they would turn on her and her people.

 

For now, Drogon and tales of the Cannibal Village will have to do. She told herself that even as trepidation seeped into her bones. As much as she feared outside threats, nothing came close to the terror she felt when she wondered if she was building all of this up just so she could destroy it all one day.

 


 

She walked between the mounds and ridges on the farm, responding to greetings of "Mhysa" and inspecting how much work had been done. It was a new addition to their town. One of the newer settlers had suggested transporting seeds of crops from different parts of the continent that would thrive in this terrain. The water supply would come from the lake to irrigate the land and when their crops were harvested, whatever wasn't sold, would be shared amongst the inhabitants of the town for sustenance.

 

She heard before she saw some people try to communicate with Tormund. They tried with a few words from the Common Tongue and lots of hand gestures. For the most part, the freed slaves and merchants who had settled down here spoke either Valyrian or a bastardized version of it so even though some words were different, many of them could understand one another to a fair extent. The Westerosi visitors, however, were estranged because of that hindrance. No, that wasn't quite the case; it was Jon in particular who felt... other. Tormund and Liram, the people liked.

 

She contemplated leaving and letting him deal with his communication or lack of it thereof, but she decided against it and went there to be his extempore translator. With that done, she turned to leave, but hesitated;

 

"I didn't think Ghost would adapt to this weather so far away from home," she smiled.

 

"As long as there is game, and there is plenty here, that one can survive anything. He's also not alone. Your little lads have taken to him," Tormund responded jovially.

 

"That, they have."

 

She wanted to ask about Jon, but she didn't know how to broach the subject, so she asked about the wild horses. His eyes lit up and he went on and on about the joys of taming the wild animals.

 

"That's good to hear," she said when he was done. "Are you... how are you faring? All of you?" How is Jon? Is he alright? Why does it matter to me?

 

How many moons had come and gone since Jon arrived here? Five? Six? In all that time, they'd barely said a word to each other.

 

"Aye. We might be living on your fire god's balls, but ahhh... the food and the women!" he exclaimed.

 

She turned her head sharply and forced a smile, nodding stiffly. The women. She'd never considered that Jon might be with other women here. It made no matter. He didn't belong to her nor did she belong to him and it had been that way since her time at Winterfell and had been made sure to remain that way after he'd stabbed her in the heart.

 

It's of no concern to me.

 

Maybe her enemies were right after all. Maybe she was mad because, despite the anger and deepseated betrayal she felt, what else would make her not stop loving or wanting the man who had ended her life?

 


 

Before, during and after she'd bathed them, the twins wouldn't stop talking about the direwolf and "Zolka Vala". The more time they spent with the 'Wolf Man', the more time they wanted to spend with him.

 

She tried to dress Jaehaerys in his sleep clothes, but that was nigh impossible to do when he wouldn't let go of what he was holding. He gripped his wooden soldier harder when she tried to pry it away from his hands. Jon had gifted them with toys after their third name day. A wooden boat and a wooden soldier. The boat, now missing a few pieces after the boys had struggled for whose turn it was to "sail" with it, was discarded somewhere. The soldier was still whole and it was that way because Daeron had left it for his brother.

 

She finally unclasped his fingers from the toy and put it away. He looked at her sullenly and she gave him a quick kiss on his brow before smiling at her son. Silver hair, indigo eyes, Jon's brooding stare.

 

She motioned for Daeron to join her and gave him a kiss and a tickle when he came. Slight forgotten, Jaehaerys joined in and she was sure their squeals could be heard all the way to Pentos.

 


 

She loved watching them sleep. Her little hellions became lambs when they were asleep. She stayed there for a moment, soaking up their presence, before she left quietly.

 

She went to her own sleeping quarters and began to prepare for bed. She preferred to sleep nude, but she put on a very light sleeping gown in case one of the twins woke up and came to her. She'd taken the wooden soldier away with her. Now, she picked it up and fingered its feet. She gave a self-deprecating laugh when she thought of the irony of life; in the end, that's what Jon had become with her. A wooden soldier. She closed her eyes. She didn't like to think of those days. They were heavy with misery and regret and they deserved to be lain to rest. The past was where it belonged for a reason.

 

If only her mind would agree. She'd seen him earlier in the day when she'd gone to meet with the builders. On her way there, saw him sparring with some of the warriors. Bare chested and glistening with sweat... She'd noticed a scar on his arm that hadn't been there before.

 

She tugged at her gown to ease the sudden discomfort she was feeling.

 

Restless, she lay on her bed. Memories that she'd deliberately put away began to inch out.

 

Her hands were clenching a fistful of the sheets as his tongue ran lazily across the slit in her woman parts.

 

Gods be good. She got up and quickly changed to clothes more suitable for riding. She called to Drogon and went outside to the nearest open field to wait for him.

 

 


JON

 

"Don't hurt them."

 

It was the only thing she'd said to him since the first conversation they'd had when he came to Vaes Dothrak. She hadn't given him the chance to respond. She just walked up to him one day and told him not to hurt their children. He'd been too surprised to see her and before he could say something back, she'd left. Did she really think that he would let anything happen to do them or hurt them? They were his too.

 

Like she was yours? That voice again. His faceless companion that took on many names, sometimes all at once. This time, it was guilt. He shoved it down to the deepest pits of his own personal hell. He wasn't a threat to his sons. He loved them more than he loved life itself and would rather see himself come to harm in a thousand ways than allow it befall them.

 

They had given his life a new standpoint. They were the reason why being here felt a little less lonely.

 

He hadn't felt this way since he was a boy in Winterfell, hiding from the cold stares of Lady Catelyn.

 

He felt so out of place here. Other than the hands who worked with the horses and now, the warriors of R'hollor that he sparred with, he had no true bonds with the natives of Daenerys' town. He was distinctly foreign and they didn't trust him. Not when he hadn't made any proper attempts to integrate himself into their way of life.

 

He was adrift and this time, he didn't have his thick fur cloak to shield himself. Sometimes, he wanted to leave, but where would he run to that this isolation wouldn't follow him? One of the very few times where he'd been safe from it was on the ship to Winterfell and that had gone tits up.

 

Those days on the ship with Daenerys were some of the happiest of his life. He'd felt safe enough to just be Jon. Not the bastard. Not the king. Not anything else. He yearned for that type of simplicity.

 

Whatever had happened up to this point had brought him to two beautiful boys that were his. He never thought he'd have children until he'd met Daenerys, but then things had changed. Yet, somehow, they still wound up here.

 

He felt overwhelming tenderness and protectiveness when he thought of them. It had been difficult to stay away from them when he first got here, but he'd been and still was, eager to do whatever Daenerys asked of him because nothing she could ever ask would make up for what he'd taken away from her. Then, Kinvara had introduced him to them and he'd known at that instant that he would do anything for them. He was also indebted to the Red Woman for her part in all of this.

 

In Westeros, they would be considered baseborn. Bastards. Thankfully, they were far away from there. All his life, he'd had to suffer uncertainties and suspicion because of the status of his birth which had turned out to be false. He was a true Targaryen, but none of that meant much anymore. Not after what had happened because of it.

 

Unwilling to pay it more heed, he reflected on his sons once more.

 

He had no experience caring for lives that young in a personal manner so every time he spent with them, he learned something new.

 

Daeron was quick to show himself friendly. He was bold, daring, generous in nature and quite protective of the people he loved... and Ghost. Jaehaerys was shy, sweet and very observant.

 

He still couldn't understand a lot of what they said because High Valyrian was their mother tongue, but they understood what he said quite well and that was good enough for him. He had learned a few words of High Valyrian, but not enough to make a sensible statement.

 

Now, whenever they came to his camp, they strutted in like they belonged there. It hadn't always been that way. At first, they'd been tentative. Jaehaerys wouldn't even let Jon touch him, but slowly, they'd gotten familiar and now they loved him, perhaps, like a father. His good mood soured slightly at the memories of Daario being called "Papa" by his sons. It was something else that he'd had to endure. He didn't like to think of what the man's relations were with their mother or how it came to be that his sons thought of the sellsword as their father. He put away those thoughts and settled with the happier memories.

 

"JON!" Liram bellowed, disturbing his quiet time.

 

"Liram."

 

"The lads want to know if you'll join us. One of them snagged a barrel of hippocras from a Westerosi sailor."

 

"No." Jon smiled regretfully.

 

Liram sighed and muttered. Jon didn't catch anything he said, nor did he particularly care.

 

It wasn't that he was averse to making merry, he just didn't think it wise to be involved in the daily life here beyond what was necessary. It hadn't escaped his notice the way those who worked with him looked at him. He had seen it before. Back at the Wall where those hard men had looked to him as their leader. But he'd failed them, hadn't he? He'd gotten himself killed and then left them to fend for themselves. The last time that he'd been at the head of a group of people was to lead the Free Folk home. As for his capabilities as someone who others looked up, he found himself severely wanting.

 

It was why when he had seen how capable Daenerys was as a leader, he'd been all but happy to lay it her at feet. And yes, he'd also trusted her to lead because he loved her.

 

And look what how much that love cost her. He got up to chase after Liram. He didn't want to think anymore.

 


 

Today was a day of content for him. He looked at the different hues of colour in the evening sky and thought of his lord father, Eddard Stark. He wondered if this was how he'd felt with his trueborn children. He thought of his true father, Rhaegar. What might life had been like growing up with Rhaegar?

 

His eyes followed a hawk heading for its prey until it disappeared into the grass below. The small body beside his shifted and he ran his hands through the boy's hair. Daeron was fast asleep. Jon couldn't move his other hand because Jaehaerys was using his arm as a pillow. He'd clothed them in his tunics which swallowed them whole and covered them in thick woolen cloaks while their clothes dried by the fire. Raemar was several stone throws away, keeping a watchful eye on things.

 

Daeron had wet himself without meaning to and then poured water all over his clothes to hide the wet patches of his piss. It didn't take long for Jon to see and smell what had happened. Red-faced, Daeron had whispered, "No Jae," with a shake of his head which Jon rightfully deduced to mean that he didn't want his brother to know. So Jon had taken some water and doused himself in it. Jaehaerys, who was playing at a distance with Ghost, saw them and ran to them thinking that it was a game. And so it was that they were in this state now. Not that he would change anything.

 

I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children.

 

Had he known that this was what he would be giving up, mayhaps, he would never had said those vows before the weirwood tree beyond the Wall all those years ago. He'd been young and eager to make a name for himself in the only place where a bastard could rise above his status. It had been the last time he'd seen Lord Stark.

 

Life was funny in the way that it wove events together. Something had to led to something else that led to another and as time would have it, he crossed paths with Daenerys Targaryen. The woman he loved. His true father's sister. He hadn't known what real love was until he met her.

 

He thought of the days in Winterfell when he didn't know how to deal with the truth of who he was and his love for her at the same time. Neither truth could change the other. It didn't matter what he'd told himself, his body had still responded to her of its own accord. It still did. It took little to no effort on her part to make his member twitch. Sometimes, all it took was hearing her speak in another tongue. It did strange things to him hearing her speak a different tongue. Things that made him want to do... things to her.

 

It was selfish to think of her that way after he'd been the one to reject her affections. Funny how death laid waste to monumental issues and made them so trivial in retrospect. He thought of his discomfort at the time. He'd done it because honour demanded it. You lie.

 

Maybe if... He stopped those thoughts immediately. They always took a very dark turn and whenever be explored that path, it was to face things about himself that he just couldn't come to terms with. Not yet if ever.

 

Not today.

 

A cough made him look down and adjust the cloak so that it covered the little sleeping body properly.

 

Tomorrow would bring its woes, of that he had no doubt, but today, he would luxuriate in the moment and forget about everything else.

 


 

He was skinning the game he caught when Jaehaerys ran to him and was pulling him frantically in the opposite direction. He laughed at first, thinking the boy impatient to play a game, but then he started to cry and that made Jon frown.

 

Following his son to where he led him, he stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Daeron lying on the ground unconscious. What happened after that, he didn't remember, but he must have moved at lightening speed and rushed the boy to the Red Woman, Raemar closely following behind him with Jaehaerys.

 

He was pacing back and forth, trying to comfort an inconsolable Jaehaerys when Daenerys hurried in. At the sight of his mother, the boy stretched his arms out and she took him from Jon.

 

"Where is Daeron? What happened?" she asked him accusingly.

 

"I don't know."

 

"You don't know," she repeated angrily, her eyes widening to glare at him. She was about to say something when Kinvara walked out with Daeron.

 

"Is he alright?" Daenerys asked, worried eyes searching their son's body.

 

"What's wrong with him?" he asked at the same time.

 

"He will be," she said facing Daenerys. "There's a swelling on his leg where he was stung, but the healer cleaned it with boiled wine and I've applied some ointments to it. When the poison wears off, he will wake."

 

Kinvara handed him to Jon and looked at him pointedly.

 

She must think me a poor father. I think me a poor father.

 

He couldn't look at Daenerys for fear of what he might see on her face.

 

She put down Jaehaerys and took Daeron from his arms. Then she sat down to closely inspect the bite. Jaehaerys was at her side in no time and she hugged him close. Kinvara was telling them words of assurance and trying to draw a smile out of Jaehaerys.

 

Jon felt like an outsider looking in once more, but he couldn't look away. The family he'd all but destroyed and had no right to want to be a part of.

 

He stood there until Daenerys made to leave. Before she could tell Raemar to bring Jaehaerys along, he swooped in and lifted his son. My son. My family. It wasn't that he thought Daenerys to be his woman, but she was his family and they were even more closely tied to each other now.

 


 

It was his first time in her home. He'd hesitated to enter, but when she didn't even spare a glance to invite him in or stop him from entering, he followed her lead. There were a few servants busying themselves, all under the watchful eyes of guards standing still at their posts. There was a large chamber or hall with coloured glass windows that didn't have any chairs. Instead, there were thick carpets and pillows strewn across the carpets. The sweet scent of incense burning and candles in intricately designed metal cases hanging from the ceiling. And lots of flowers.

 

He followed her past her "Great Hall" devoid of chairs and walked through a hallway until they got to a door with a single dragon carved on it. It dawned on him then that he hadn't seen a single Targaryen sigil anywhere in her home or around the town for that matter.

 

She walked in and laid Daeron on a table, carefully undressing him. Kinvara had given her an ointment that had a very pungent smell and she claimed it would make the swelling stop and disappear if it was applied at certain intervals during the day. Daenerys did as she was instructed and then stalked out. She briefly came back with a bowl of water and a wash cloth to clean the boy.

 

Jaehaerys, whose head was rested on Jon's shoulder, was quiet and sniffling every so often.

 

When she was done with Daeron, she put him in his bed and reached for Jaehaerys who hesitated a bit before stretching out his arms to her.

 

While she nuzzled and comforted him, Jon looked around the room. It had two little cots, a shelf of toys and several books that were large in volume, a table and the single rocking chair that Daenerys occupied at the moment.

 

He looked back at Daenerys and Jaehaerys. She looked so young as she rocked him and spoke things to him that had reduced his tears to a few hiccups and a watery smile.

 

"Avy jorrāelan," she said gently.

 

He didn't understand the rest of what she said, but he understood that.

 

I should leave. But he was stuck there like one of the old weirwood trees that had stood its place for thousands of years. He couldn't stop staring at her if he tried.

 

Soothed, cleaned and asleep, Jaehaerys was lain in his cot. Jon wanted to give his sons kisses, but he was ill at ease by the thought of her watching him do that. It was strange. They had shared their bodies and their deepest fears and secrets with each other at one point in time, but now, they felt like strangers.

 

She left Jaehaerys and waited at the door for him to leave before shutting it behind them. Raemar was there waiting for her, he began to gesture excitedly, or perhaps anxiously, with his hands and while he spoke. Daenerys listened and then stopped him from saying anything further. Whatever she said made Raemar visibly relax. He bowed his head and she smiled at him.

 

She hastened her steps and went into what seemed to be a private audience chamber. He followed her there and shut the door behind him. It was small. This one had a desk and two chairs and though simply decorated, it was a room that spoke of Daenerys' distinct style.

 

She stood before the table with her back turned to him, and he could see from her stiff stance how upset she was.

 

All the while he followed her around her home, he'd been tongue-tied; not knowing what to say. It was no different in here; what was the right thing to say to someone when you confirmed all their worst fears? I'm sorry I couldn't protect our sons from harm like I couldn't protect you? And that I almost got one of them killed the way I killed you?

 

"Daenerys."

 

When she didn't answer, he said, "I'm sorry."

 

Not knowing what else to say or do, he opened the door to leave. But it didn't feel right to leave her like that so he closed it gently and just stood there. Since she wouldn't face him or speak to him, he walked up to her and tried again. But being this close to her made him forget what he wanted to say.

 

He was staring at her bare shoulder. It looked so soft. He didn't know what took over him to reach up and knead it. She grew tense and looked up at him then making him grow still. He knew that look; lips slightly parted, eyes drawing him in, her breathing becoming heavier.

 

His eyes searched her face for a beat before he reached his hand for her neck and pulled her in for a kiss. They were both uncertain at first, but soon fell into the familiarity of old lovers. The kiss quickly became hurried and desperate. His tongue stroking hers as soon as their lips parted to meet. Their breaths intermingling as he tugged at the strip holding her gown together.

 

She broke away from their kiss and pulled at his tunic. He obliged and took it off and then reached for her again. She met him with that same fire that made his own skin burn feverishly.

 

He had her between his body and her table now, pulling her gown down her chest and exposing her breasts to him. He stopped and bent his head to suckle one nipple while he rubbed the other between two his thumb and his forefinger. Panting, she clutched his head with one hand and tried to use the other to pull her gown all the way down. He paused to help her slide it off her head instead. After tossing it aside, he fumbled to unlace his breeches. Clumsy fingers came to his aid while he sucked on her bottom lip. Full. Soft.

 

Feet tugging on boots and kicking away their breeches all the while moving away from the table, they managed to undress fully. He lowered her to the ground and stretched his hand downward to feel how ready she was. Soaking wet. His licked his glistening fingers and pushed the back of her knee upwards so that he could guide his cock into her.

 

She was tight. It was all he could do not to spill his seed inside her. He didn't move. With one hand in her hair and the other on her hip, he held her still. He wanted to wait until she was fully pleasured and sated, but she rolled her hips upwards and his body jerked in response before slowly slackening.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

His head was buried in her neck as he tried and failed to steady his breathing. She caressed the back of his head soothingly, softly massaging the nape of his neck, enjoying how he felt in her. Still breathing her in, he hooked her legs above his arse and moved. She could feel the thick length of him hardening inside of her. This time, his movements were slow and deliberate. He lifted his head to look at her; into her eyes and then placed a hand gently on her neck so that his thumb was on her chin and the other above her head to support his weight.

 

She could see the desire in his eyes, but so had she those few times when she'd gone to him and he'd pushed her away.

 

Like he will after he's done here.



His look turned questioning and she knew that he'd seen the fear in her eyes so she pulled his neck towards her while reaching up to kiss him, lest he dwell upon what he saw. She kissed him until he came up for air.


He bent his head to scrape his teeth on the spot where her shoulder met her neck and she could feel her eyes roll back. When he licked the spot he had bitten as if to soothe, she moaned. Her body soon tensed and bucked before slowly coming to a release. His own release following soon afterwards.

 

 


JON

 

He lay atop her, relishing the feel of her body beneath his. But as the haze cleared and their sweat and mixed liquids became sticky and dry from the air blowing in from outside, he felt her become distant.

 

He rolled off her and lay on his back. Both of them staring on ahead and neither saying anything to the other. That ease that came with their love making all but gone. He didn't know why, but it all felt wrong now that he could think clearly.

 

He wanted to talk to her. To say anything. Like he used to before and, mayhaps, for the first time, he was truly beginning to understand what he'd lost. Because, before this moment, he had never allowed himself think too deeply of anything bad that had transpired between them beyond her death.

 

Determined not to waste this opportunity, he shifted and turned to his side.

 

"Dany."

 

Silence.


"Dany, look at me," he pleaded, placing his hand on her face to turn it towards him. She allowed him guide her head, but her eyes were tightly shut.

 

"Please," he whispered brokenly.

 

He didn't know what he's asking for nor did he understand the sudden yearning for her to see him. All those feelings that he had wrestled with since he'd lain her lifeless body down rushed through him, rendering him weak.

 

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." For failing you.

 

Tears slip from her eyes, but she turned away from him before he could wipe them away, reaching for her gown to cover herself.

 

Resigned, he reached for his clothing and dressed methodically. When he was done, he squatted and touched her shoulder, but she flinched and his hand hung in the air before he clenched his fingers into a fist. He didn't want to leave her this way but he needed to get out of this place. Fast.

 

He got up and looked around until he found a piece of black cloth large enough to be a curtain and covered her with it. It was a banner with the sigil of her house. Their house.

 

He opened the door, looking at her rigid form one last time, and left.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

She heard his feet shuffle around before she felt something cover her body. A few moments later, she heard the creak from the hinges of her door and a soft click letting her know that he'd left.

 

Then she cried.

 

 


JON

 

Jon was restless that night. His instinct was to warg into Ghost and go for a run so far away from here, but he couldn't because he didn't think even that would do anything to wash away the guilt gnawing at him.

 

What have I done?

 

His mind went back past her death, past her attack on Kings Landing, past everything that happened and stopped at Winterfell. He'd never allowed himself look into anything that happened there too deeply because then it had been easier to justify everything that happened afterwards.

 

You killed her. That mocking voice jeered at him.

 


 

Trust, Jon. Trust is the easiest thing to lose, not lands nor castles, and the hardest thing to win back," his lord father told him. "It's even harder to win than love. But don't tell anyone I said that."

 

He shrugged. He was too young to understand what that meant. He went looking for Robb, but he found himself running towards a smoking ruin. He faltered and walked in carefully until he came upon a silverhaired woman standing before the throne.

 

He turned her head towards him, "Dany. Look at me... please."

 

She obliged, but it was her cold dead eyes that stared back at him.

 

He jerked away from her body in horror. The wet stickiness on his hands distracted him momentarily and he looked at them. They were dripping with her blood.

 

He woke up to his body convulsing and shivering uncontrollably.

 

He had this dream so many times before, but it always happened differently. This time, Lord Eddard was in it, but he couldn't remember what he said. Shaken, he laid back down and stayed awake for the rest of the night.

 

 

Chapter Text

THE CITADEL

 

Murmurs of dissent rose as the subject of grandmaester was brought up in the conclave. All archmaesters present were in agreement for once. It was a disgrace that a man who didn't have the mettle to finish his training was appointed to such a high position in the Kingdom for a king that most of the realm didn't recognize by a Hand that nobody really took seriously. A disgrace!

 

He knew the boy Samwell Tarly. He was foolhardy, that one. They should never have let him in when he showed up with a woman and a child he claimed that he was helping. What kind of a Brother of the Night's Watch broke his oaths, exposed himself and lived to tell the tale? That order was nothing but a den of opportunists, sons with no inheritance and every low life that the Seven Kingdoms sought to rid itself off.

 

Samwell Tarly had come with claims that a mythical legend had come to life. Balderdash. How convenient that he was free of his vows now that the Wall had "fallen". There were claims that the Dragon Queen had melted it with her three dragons. An account more believable than the children's tale that the Night King had ridden on a dead dragon and blown Icy Fire to make it come crashing down. The thought of such nonsense made him harrumph.

 

"...all in favour of sending one last warning to the pretender, Samwell Tarly, so he steps down peacefully before we apply force, say 'Aye'."

 

A ripple 'aye's' made its way around the hall.

 

"And how do we intend to apply force when we have no armies of our own?" someone asked.

 

"House Hightower. The true nobles who should have been awarded custody of the Reach. They too find this new system of government a travesty," another responded.

 

"We have only been this patient because Samwell is of House Tarly which served the Reach well."

 

"How well? His father was a traitor!"

 

Another bout of arguments ensued for the better part of their time there.

 

He took notes of all that was happening to chronicle later. They were sitting on the verge of a revolution that Westeros would either be destroyed by or be reshaped by.

 

 


GENDRY

 

"The Targaryen girl gave you one of the Seats of the Seven Kingdoms and was murdered soon afterwards. Yet after her death, you, who no one had ever heard of, simply walked into Storm’s End which you'd never seen, and became its Lord. And now you expect everyone to go about their lives like it's nothing?"

 

Gendry shifted uncomfortably while one dour looking lord something of somewhere gave him a good dressing down. He had called his bannermen and the few who hadn't refused the call came at the behest of Lord Selwyn Tarth, Lady--Ser Brienne's father. She had put in a good word for Gendry and even then, the man wasn't here out of respect, but to humour his daughter.

 

Gods, he missed Arya. If he had any sense, he would have joined her on her voyage to fall off the face of the known world. What was it like to be that free?

 

He let his castellan do the talking for him. He couldn't even speak proper--speak properly--and talking to these nobles made him even more aware of his low birth. He was reflecting on all the things he would rather be doing when he heard "marriage".

 

What?

 

He sat up immediately, looking alarmed. Maegor's tits!.

 

"Begging your pardon, me lord..."

 

It was like he wasn't even there. He cleared his throat loudly and everyone stopped to look at him.

 

Timourous, he stuttered, "I--I... No."

 

"No what, m'lord?"

 

"No marriage," he said more firmly. He wasn't a broodmare to be sold off at the whims of these people that he didn't know.

 

"You have no allies, my lord," Lord Tarth said kindly.

 

"Yes, but you're here. It's a good start," he replied weakly.

 

He could see the other lords not even bother to hide their derision. I didn't ask for any of this. He wanted to bellow.

 

"Lord Baratheon is right, but so is Lord Tarth," his castellan said in that his patronizing manner. "You need allies, m'lord, and you have people who rely on you. Without allies, how can you hope to protect them or care for them?"

 

Before he could get a word in, the rest of the Lords and his castellan made their plans and preparations.

 

I fought against the dead to save mankind... for this.

 

He raged within himself. Mayhaps, these matters were why his father had turned to drink and whoring. He had a good mind to walk in the late king's footsteps, but it was too early in the day to be inebriated.

 

I could just walk away. Leave everything and run.

 

It had been years since Ser Davos had come bearing strange news. He wondered about it especially on days like this. What would happen when the Dragon Queen came back? He indulged in his own flights of fancy of seeing the terror in the eyes of all these men before him. He wished Jon had taken his rightful place. We should have attested to his claim. He would have been a fair and just ruler.

 

He sat back and watched with growing disinterest as they did whatever it was that lords do, awaiting the day that Ser Davos would come with fresh tidings and instructions so that he could leave this miserable place.

 


 

He brought down his hammer sluggishly on the head of another copper skinned warrior who was attacking him. He was getting weaker.

 

He could feel the wet stickiness of his own blood sliding down his side. He swiveled to left with brute force and heard the crack of bones and accompanying scream and then he fell on one knee and used the handle of his hammer to support himself.

 

Is this how I'm going to die? On a land that I don't know, protecting people who don't want me?

 

The clangor of the swords and arakhs died away, the shouting of the slaughter was hushed; silence lay on the red-stained fields. The pale bleak sun that glittered so blindingly from the waters nearby struck sheens of silver from rent corselet and broken blades, where the dead lay in heaps. The nerveless hand yet gripped the broken hilt: helmeted heads, back-drawn in the death throes, tilted red beards and golden beards grimly upward.

 

His hand slipped and he fell face down into the mud.

 

The war had lasted a few days. He received a mysterious message several moons ago that Khal Naqo was planning an attack on Storm's End soon. Panicked, he called--or tried--to call his banners. No one took him seriously, so he'd sent word to the only other person that he knew with a ready army with the hopes that his efforts were not in vain.

 

Ser--Lord Bronn had come to his aid, at a price of course, but that was a matter for another day. They had been ready for the Dothraki, but those fuckers fought like demons. They only lost because Lord Bronn's sellsword army outnumbered them ten to one. A lot of the Dothraki had died in Winterfell and they had no dragon or Unsullied to stave off the attacks where they were vulnerable.

 

He saw rough sandaled feet before him and tried to get up, but he lay pathetically on the floor awaiting the sweet peace of death. Instead, he saw a long braid fall at those feet before he closed his eyes in surrender to unconsciousness.

 

 


MAGGO

 

They gathered to watch the procession of the defeated warriors. Less than half of them who went for battle had returned and all who returned came back with much shorter hair. Maggo couldn't hide his smile so he looked down so as not to give anything away. His mother had sent word to Gendry. It wasn't that she cared about the pink man, but it was to weaken those who would destroy everything that their Khaleesi had fought so hard to instill. All they had of her was her legacy and they would protect it no matter the cost.

 


 

He heard the angry voice outside their tent and was trying to make sense of it when some of the warriors ripped it open, shouting and kicking things.

 

"Where is she?! Where is your cunt mother?!" Khal Naqo screamed in their mother tongue, with a crazed look in his eyes.

 

He felt the dread creep over him like an icy chill, numbing his brain. In his frozen state of mind, he could only think one thought. Run.

 

He eyed the space between the two men in front of him and ran through them. He didn't get far before his braid was yanked painfully resulting in him falling on the hard floor. He curled into a fetal position and covered his face from the kicks and blows that followed.

 

"...and tell them that if I don't see her soon, I'll kill the boy. But first all my men will take turns fucking him and then cut his head off so that he can't enter the Night Lands," was the last thing he heard before he slipped out of consciousness.

 


 

He woke up with a silent scream. Whatever they had doused the cord in that had been used to tie him up with stung. It felt like a thousand scorpions were feasting on the cuts and bruises on his body. He tried to remember where he was and then it all came back to him.

 

Mother.

 

Tears ran down his face as he knelt helplessly. Worried for his mother and sister, he willed them to hide. He would readily die for them. It was a cost that they had all considered when they embarked on this mission. He hoped Daenerys was watching him from the Night Lands. This was all for her.

 

"MAGGO!"

 

No.

 

He tried to scream at his mother to run away. To leave him, but he couldn't gather his wits to form complete sentences, his tongue too full and heavy to support his words.

 

He couldn't tell what was happening as he battled to stay awake, but one moment, he heard his mother pleading and the next, someone, sobbing, was hurriedly untying him and walking him through a crowd of people. There were angry shouts and jeers... and a fire? He couldn't tell. His eyes were almost completely swollen shut. He stumbled on something that rolled away from him.

 

"Don't look down, brother." Vrozzi?

 

Why are you crying? He wanted to ask, but soon lost consciousness again.

 


 

That stings!

 

"You're awake!" his sister rushed forward and pulled him into a hard embrace.

 

"Mother?" he asked immediately.

 

Her face crumbling in response told him all he needed to know. He lay back down and didn't bother to stop the tears that flowed freely. They weren't tears of sadness. They were tears of hate. Hatred for the people responsible for this. He was going to kill that fucker, Naqo.

 

He listened as his sister recounted what had happened in the past week. Someone had told the Khal of the secret meetings his mother held and had also disclosed her role in their defeat against the Stormlands. He had come for her, but found Maggo instead and used him as bait to draw out their mother. She'd come begging, but they wanted to humiliate her before the entire khalasar and make an example of her so they stripped her naked and were about to rape her, however she grabbed a dagger from one of the men and slit his throat before slitting hers. Her final words were, "Dracarys."

 

It was the match that lit the fire; a riot broke out and the faction that wanted progress began to attack. Some died, including the Khal who was shot in his cock with an arrow. When things settled down, the strongest of them called for peace and heard the opposing sides. After much deliberation, those who didn't want to stay in Westeros chose to return back to Vaes Dothrak. It was a bitter split, but it was necessary.

 

He smiled inspite of his sorrow. A hollow victory, but a victory nonetheless.

 

 


BRAN

 

He liked this memory the most. It was his creation. He was born when the first living thing had died. It's memories seeping into the earth and granting him form. And for years he had been that way until the children had given him consciousness. He came alive after their failure with the Night King. They were ingrained in him and so their motivations were now his.

 

He remembered thousands of years ago when the first Valyrians had landed in Westeros with their dragons. They had built their peculiar structure with dragonfire;
The labyrinthine square fortress of unadorned black stones at the foundation of Hightower. That was roughly five millennia into the past.



It was there that they had heard from a mysterious source that Westeros would be their doom and so they had stayed away and withheld from conquering the continent and enslaving its peoples all those years ago. But when the Children had seen that man was growing stronger in Westeros inspite of the endless wars they raged against each other, a greenseer had gone to Daenys the Dreamer to warn her of the Doom of Valyria and the Targaryens escaped to the island called Dragonstone. All that had been set in motion for the destruction of the Others, first, and then Westeros. But they weren't the only forces set to wield the Dragonlords to their will.

 

The Targaryens were set apart to be a tool for good or for destruction. The Children were still double-minded when it came to them, but the Three Eyed Raven had decided for them and so before Bran, he took the form of Brynden Rivers, one of the Targaryen Great Bastards of Aegon the Unworthy. Just to toy with them. He couldn't do much because the Children were still alive and he wouldn't have if they had still been. What he had done during that time was to peer into many possible futures of the Targaryens and eventually, he chose the one that had happened.
But the other force, the Lord of Light still had need for them. It was poetic in an ironic sort of way that he who had spent thousands of years to preserve sought to destroy them, but the fire god known for consuming sought to preserve them.

 

There was an unseen war waging between both entities. It couldn't be explained. Sometimes, wading through so many memories, he even forgot why he wanted them destroyed, but he did and he would see to it that they were. He looked into them once more, looking for Daenerys and Jon and their child, but his eyes only burned.

 

He flitted into Dorne by raven and perched on a window.

 

"We are the oldest of kingdoms on this continent. Why shouldn't we secede? The North did and everyone just let them? And now the king is a crippled boy who has no armies nor strong ties in the south. Don't you find it odd?" a woman stated.



"It feels like we're waking up from a dream, my love," the Martell Prince agreed.

 

"Yes," she said. "We were independent until we joined the Seven Kingdoms by marriage and now all ties have been cut to the crown."

 

Caw.

 

He commandeered the raven away from there and their voices faded into the background. He thought of what they said. He had no armies nor allies save for the men on his Small Council. He would tell Tyrion. It would be interesting to see what happened as a result.

 

He cocked his head and looked at the sea.

 

 

Chapter Text

TYRION

 

He sat on a chair beside the throne and listened to the lords complain. Their distrust of him growing even stronger now that the Dothraki had attacked them. To them, he was an abomination; a dwarf, a kinslayer, the traitor brother of Queen Cersei and finally, the man who had brought Daenerys Targaryen back only to betray her in the end. Bronn, on the other hand, was their hero. When he had walked in, the room erupted in cheers. Fools.

 

First they hated and distrusted "a common sellsword" but now that it was convenient, he was the darling of the Stormlands.

 

Tyrion took note of the lords who still eyed Bronn suspiciously. They were mostly from the Reach. Good. He would need them when the time was right.

 

He drank some more wine to dull the throbbing in his head. It felt like it would split in half. He got up and toasted to Bronn who basked in the sycophancy and praise of the men around him. How much more corrupt can power corrupt that which is already corrupted. He laughed at the alliteration. Clever.

 

When the room came to order, he got up to address it;

 

"My lords, the Dothraki will no longer be a problem. I promise."

 

"Like you promised your queen the Seven Kingdoms?"

 

"Nonsense!"

 

"More lies from you imp?!"

 

Words mocking him being thrown his way at the same time. If only Daenerys were here. She never let anyone speak to me like this.

 

His smile didn't reach his eyes and he held up his hands in surrender, "You are right to find me suspect, I agree. But I received word that many of them will be returning back to Essos and those who remain will live in peace on Dragonstone." You have my word. But he didn't bother to add that since his word meant less than shit these days. His reputation was in the shitter and he had to find a way to buy into the goodwill of the people so he proposed a tourney in honour of Bronn and as expected, excitement rippled around the room.

 

That would have to do for now. He sat back down and let someone else do the talking for once.

 

His eye caught Podrick's who was looking at him apologetically.

 

Me too, lad.

 


 

Treason. The Dornish were thinking of treason. Tyrion fell on the whore and fucked her harder with each worrying thought. Things were getting out of hand.

 

When his spy had returned with word of being sure that Daenerys and Jon were in Vaes Dothrak, he thought, surely, that luck had decided to smile in favour of him, but no. Just one more thing to fuck with him.

 

He still had Samwell Tarly to attend to. The boy had his own problems haunting him. Problems that the crown could not ignore.

 

He groaned and fell gracelessly on the whore. One hand on her breast.

 

He had already sent an emissary to Braavos. He heard that the Faceless Men never failed. He told no one of his plan so that they wouldn't foil it.

 

Davos was another matter. He knew that he was the one who orchestrated the reunion of Jon and Daenerys, but there were already too many foes to deal with and he would take care of him on a another day.

 

 


BRONN

 

The gods may not have brought him into a noble family, but he was here now and that was no small feat on his part. A tourney in my honour. He smiled as someone patted him on his back. He liked this. When he first came into power, many people turned their noses up at him, but riches had a way of buying anything and he sat on the wealth of the continent. He'd bought an army, but armies were expensive to maintain and so he increased the taxes on his lands. When the lords couldn't deliver, he took something from them. At first, it had been a little land, but recently, he started to take small castles from the lords and knights who couldn't rise against him. He knew not to go against those with power. He was still trying to win House Hightower to his side, but they couldn't be bought.

 

When Gendry had come to him desperate, he saw an opportunity and helped him on the condition that some land in the Stormlands would pay their taxes to him in perpetuity. Gendry agreed and they fought against the Dothraki and won. It came at a cost. A few thousand of his men were dead, but it didn't matter. He'd learned from that attack, how easy it was to take something that one wanted if one really wanted it and so he'd made his enquiries about the weakest high lords and found Edmure Tully to be his easiest prey. Soon. He thought.

 

 


JON

 

His destrier trotted through the large, rolling terrains of white grasses, flowers and herbs to the carcass of the stag that he had shot down. Some of the other men went to work quickly. His reigned in his steed and got off to join them.

 

They upheaved it onto the cart and off it went. They would have a feast tonight. Though these plains had game, they were not easy to come by, not like in the forest of the North, the Wolfswood, and those beyond the wall.

 

A young boy called Nakan brought him some water to wash his hands and he thanked the boy. No matter what how aloof he was, the boy had taken a liking to Jon. In his early days here, Jon had done everything to avoid bringing attention to himself, but that was impossible when he was a lone stranger and the only one with a very conspicuous direwolf. Ghost had drawn unwanted attention to him and in the end, he'd gotten used to the stares and the whispers when he passed by.

 

Nakan was one of the braver ones in their little town; the "Cannibal Village", the outsiders called it. The few who dared come in didn't make it very far because of the dragon and even fewer were brave enough to call it home. The population had increased by at least fifty people since he'd arrived. Today would make it the eleventh day of the seventh moon since he got here. Though he still felt apart from them and still lived in a tent, it was beginning to feel like home. His boys were here... and so is their mother.

 

He almost laughed at himself for thinking that. He didn't particularly know where he stood with the woman in question. They had fucked and then... nothing. It was like nothing happened. Whenever he saw her, he didn't read anything on her face that indicated how intimate they had gotten with each other. He still felt guilty about how he had left her afterwards. If she felt anything, she didn't show it. She was the same Daenerys that she had been since he arrived this place.

 

He nodded at Nakan and the boy ran off. He reminded him of Olly before he'd pierced that knife through his heart. He didn't like to think of it because those thoughts led to others and he didn't have it in him, at the moment, to allow them hover anywhere near the surface of his mind.

 

He turned back at the soft neigh behind him. Time to get back. He hoped to see Daenerys today. He found himself thinking of her a lot more now and how well she fared. He missed her.

 

He got on his horse with the click of his tongue, became one with the wind.

 


 

"You're sure of this."

 

"Aye, lad. They look like your queen's horse people, but less wild," Tormund finished.

 

Intruders. They'd been found lurking close to the settlement. Some of the men who were on patrol, one of whom was Tormund, found them and tied them up. Tormund had come to him with it since their camp was the closest place to where their prisoners had been found.

 

"Did they say why they're here?"

 

"No one can understand what they're saying."

 

"Liram?"

 

Tormund shook his head 'no'.

 

He went out to meet them. It was dark and quiet save for the creatures that sang in the night. Someone passed him a torch when he got there and he used it to get a better look at their faces. They were just as Tormund had said; the same copper skin of the Dothraki, but they were fearful. He took pity on them and tried not to look too threatening. Little effect that had since all the other men were either shrouded in red hoods or angry looking, armed with weapons.

 

"Leave them here. Three of you, stand guard. The rest of you, go back to your posts. Tormund, with me."

 

He let Liram translate as he stalked to his mount to let Daenerys know. Tormund and Ghost in tow.

 


 

"What?" he spared a glance at Tormund who was smirking at him.

 

"You can't help it, can you?"

 

"Help what, Tormund?"

 

"Lead." And with that, Tormund guided his horse onwards leaving Jon behind.

 


 

"Where are they?" she asked.

 

He pointed her in the direction where the men were tied and watched her go there, following closely behind.

 

Even now, she looked every bit the queen that she was. The queen we chose, Missandei had said.

 

He observed her regal gait as she addressed the prisoners. She listened on and nodded when appropriate. When she was done, she ordered their release. Whatever she said instilled them with fear and they ran off.

 

She spoke to the rest of the men there and then dismissed everyone else but her guards.

 

"They're Lhazareen. Their town is very not far off Vaes Dothrak. They were afraid that the Dothraki had moved back. They're peaceful people who have always lived in fear of the Dothraki. I'm surprised it took them this long to wander this far," she explained.

 

He raised his head slightly in acknowledgement.

 

She looked around and he watched her. The wisps of her hair that her escaped her tight braids were dancing in the evening breeze. The light from his torch shining on the part of her face not shrouded in darkness. He wanted to touch her, but he stayed himself and balled his free hand into a fist.

 

"This is where you've been staying," she observed.

 

"Aye."

 

She looked like she wanted to say more, but thought the better of it. He knew because her mouth always twitched when she wanted to say something, but was considering her words. He wished she would.

 

She nodded at him. "Thank you for telling me."

 

"Of course, Your Gr--Daenerys."

 

She lingered, but with nothing else to say, she began to leave.

 

"I fixed the boat." At her confused look, he added, "For Daeron. I'll go get it."

 

He was rummaging through his things when he heard quick and light footsteps get closer and the sound of his tent flapping open soon afterwards. He glanced at his visitor and smiled at her tentatively.

 

She stayed.

 

"I'm afraid I don't have bread and salt to offer you," he joked, standing up to face her.

 

"That's alright," she smiled.

 

He lit several lanterns and went outside to put the torch back in its stand. He quickly returned and offered her a seat on his pallet, doing his best not to think of her sitting on the place that he slept on. She accepted his offer and waited.

 

Reluctantly, he handed her the boat. He didn't want her to leave just yet so he searched his brain for something to say. Anything that would keep her here a bit longer.

 

"I should go," she said when the quiet became uneasy.

 

"I'm sorry," he blurted out suddenly. "We--I shouldn't have... I should have told the Northern lords that you agreed to come before I bent the knee."

 

"It's no bother. That was a lifetime ago and we agreed that you would say that since you stood to lose their respect even more if they had known that there wasn't really any reason to bend the knee after I had agreed to help."

 

He could see her put up her mask and steel herself. She wasn't one to avoid hard discussions, but this was a dangerous subject.

 

"There was a need to bend the knee," he said firmly.

 

"It doesn't matter now, does it?"

 

"The honourable thing to do would have been--"

 

"Honour?" she interrupted angrily. "Fuck your honour, Jon Snow. What good was your honour when it mattered the most?"

 

She was on her feet now, her eyes alight with indignation.

 

"You don't think I hate myself for what I did to you? That I wish I--"

 

"You can't even say it, can you? You killed me, Jon," she accused. Her mask dropping and revealing the bedlam behind those beautiful eyes.

 

The guilt he felt was crippling. "I didn't want to," he implored, shaking his head, "I had no choice."

 

"Yes, you did," she said immediately. "You had a choice and you made it."

 

"Fuck, Dany! Tell me, what was I supposed to do? What would you have done if you were me?!" he asked frustratedly, his voice getting louder with each question.

 

"Not kill me?" she retorted with a harsh laugh and a look of disbelief.

 

"Daenerys, there were heaps of burned bodies, men, women and children, scattered on and underneath the rubble! Those who didn't die by dragon fire, were caught in the wildfire explosion! How many surrendered soldiers were slaughtered at your command? You weren't you anymore," he gesticulated to emphasize the "you" in his sentence."

 

"And who was I, Jon?"

 

A rhetorical question, he knew, but he answered anyway, "I defended your actions to everyone who would care to listen, but you were speaking of taking away free will from people--"

 

"From whom? The poor lords and nobles in power who don't care for the people that serve under them?" she asked in a mocking tone. "Or your precious family that your honour demands you tell everything to. Tell me, does Sansa know about me and my children?"

 

"Daenerys," he warned.

 

"Anyone who I wanted dead, died. I never hid that part of me from you," If I wanted Sansa and Arya dead, they'd be dead, was the silent implication of that statement. "I was going to change the world, Jon. With you."

 

Her voice had grown softer, breathy, with that last thing she said. With you.

 

Unable to stop himself, he brought his hands up so he could hold her face. His own getting closer so that there was little distance between them now.

 

"Do you know how many people died that day because you had to get your throne?" he countered just as softly, wanting her to see reason with him.

 

He could see the conflicting thoughts flit through her eyes.

 

"I had to get my throne because it was all I had left! My name. My legacy. Everything I had worked for up to that point had to mean something. Else, what was the point of anything after all I'd lost and sacrificed?" For you.

 

She didn't say it. She didn't have to. It hung in the silence between their ragged breathing.

 

He liked to pretend that this path didn't exist in this thoughts because it was the only way that he could live with himself after everything that had happened. He knew that if explored, that path led to an ugliness, a stain, within himself that he wasn't ready to confront.

 

Agitated and unable to face her, he let go of her and began to pace the breadth of the tent. He ran a hand through his hair and let out a breath.

 

"And at the end of the day, it didn't matter what I'd achieved or acquired because my worth wasn't enough."

 

He stopped pacing to take a look at her.

 

"I'm not enough," she said, her voice cracking and the bleak look on her face reflecting the raging storm within her that she was trying so hard to temper.

 

He'd done this. Aye, she was responsible for the destruction of Kings Landing. But everything that had happened before then...

 

The thoughts he had chained and reigned in for so long broke out. I used her. He'd never meant to, but he had. Worse, he'd stood by and let others do the same. He'd known that she'd been grieving all those years ago, but seeing her look so defeated...

 

He was still trying to comb through his thoughts when she stepped away from him. As if she couldn't be far enough away from him.

 

She bent down to pick up the mended toy. Shoulders hung low, she walked out of his tent.

 

He wanted to stop her and tell her that she was worthy of any throne she wanted and that she was more than just her family name and that she was enough, more than enough, but it all felt a little too late.

 


 

Queenslayer. Kinslayer. Oathbreaker. Man Without Honour.

 

I’ve never begged for anything, but I’m begging you, please.

 

Tired of tossing and turning, he kicked the covers away and sat up, burying his head in his hands. It was easy to rationalize certain actions when one didn't examine them too closely.

 

She fought our battles for us and we killed her. And now the realm thrives on the sacrifices she paid.

 

His head was spinning.

 

He'd gone to her for aid and after they had overcome their suspicions of each other, love had begun to nurture between them. She gave him dragonglass when he offered nothing in return. She lost her first dragon coming to save him and she never blamed him for it. No other person that he'd sent word to had paid him any mind. They most as like thought him mad.

 

She'd gone to Winterfell and had borne the distrust of his people, people she came to save at great cost, and the disrespect of his family because she loved him. He knew that love was true. He knew it was unyielding and unwavering and so he'd taken advantage of it. It wasn't premeditated. He'd taken it for granted because he knew it wasn't going anywhere and the little boy in him who yearned for the approval and acceptance of his family, of the Starks, had been willfully blind to the decisions he had made and everything else that had happened as a result.

 

She'd listened to him about Cersei the first time. And then she'd lost Jorah, the man who she trusted more than anyone before he came into her life. She'd lost him because he, Jon, had been surrounded by wights and she had taken it upon herself to see to his safety only to be ambushed by those same wights. Jorah had died protecting her from them.

 

His hands shook as the weight of everything came crashing into him;

 

No one in his family thanked her. They had all questioned her intentions and for all the times that they'd expected anything bad of her, she'd done the opposite until she couldn't anymore because listening to everyone but herself cost her everything and in the end, she decided to become the monster that they all thought her to be.

 

Except she wasn't a monster. Just a girl who had lost everything and everyone dear to her and had needed some reassurance and comfort.

 

He saw it all so clearly now, what he'd refused to see then. That life had changed his brother and sisters and to survive, they were just as capable of deceit and cruelty as the enemies that they hated.

 

He saw now that in his state of confusion at the time, he'd been used as well. When Samwell had told him the truth of his parents, it had been to hurt her with that information and it worked. When Sansa had spread that news, it had been to depose her. When Varys had heard, he wasn't even subtle about wanting her out of the way. Everyone who couldn't get to her directly, went through him. And though he had been loyal to her, it wasn't his loyalty she had sought. It was the desire to be seen and loved and cared for.

 

And he couldn't give her that because he'd been so immersed in his worries that all he'd wanted to do was escape them and for once in his life, he didn't want to bear the burden of anything, really. Not the kingdom, not the implications of his true birth, not the indecision that complicated his relations with Daenerys. He wanted none of it. And more than anything, he wanted to escape failing again.

 

All his life, he'd just wanted to belong somewhere; to just fit right in. And for a while, he'd found his place with the men of the Night's Watch and then with the Free Folk, but he'd been killed in the process and when he was brought back, he'd felt an overwhelming sense of failure. He'd done everything and lost his life for it.

 

That's what she went through. The realization kept pouring in.

 

He'd never sought for power, but whenever it was thrust upon him, he bore the burden. So when he'd met the Dragon Queen and had gotten to know her, he knew that she was worthy.

 

Maybe it was her strength that made him think that she could handle all the shit that she'd been dealt since she landed on the shores of Westeros, but all she did was give and give and give until all she had left was her life. And I took that from her.

 

I wasn't enough.

 

He wanted to make it better. To bear her pain and will her to heal if he could, but where to start, he had no clue.

 

Bone-tired, but unable to sleep, he got up and walked out into the night.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

She should never have gone into that tent. She should have waited outside for him to bring the toy or better still, let him give it Daeron himself, but he looked eager to have her around and she'd felt the same about seeing him. She let her curiousity get the better of her and went in to meet him and well, here she was. Lost, confused and hurt. Again.

 

He thinks me a tyrant.

 

With all that she'd been through, she was able to shield herself, to a fair extent, from what people thought, but Jon's approval meant something else entirely.

 

The closer she had gotten to her goal, the more fearful had become of losing the two things that mattered to her more than anything; her throne and her lover. But Jon was more than just her lover. He was the person that she loved more than she loved anything else, and so when he'd told her who his father was, she knew that fear the way she hadn't known it in a long time; fear that she would lose all to the person she could lose all for. Fear had a way of blinding one to the most obvious things. It worked on the mind as a torture, elevating decreasing logic and self-control. 

 

He stopped being Jon and became one more obstacle that she had to overcome. But that didn't last long because when she'd seen him surrounded by wights, the only thing that she could think of was keeping him alive.

 

No one, in all her years, had seen her, peered into her, the way that Jon had. He would take one look at her and understand what she was feeling. He understood her fears and her desire to belong to someone as they belonged to her. He understood her loneliness. He saw Dany and not the woman crushed by the weight of all her titles. And so, when that had come to an abrupt end, she couldn't find her bearings and the only tether she had left, after the losses that she suffered in succession, was her family's Seat.

 

Do you know how many people died that day because you had to get your throne?

 

She had done everything she could to avoid bloodshed, but Cersei had used them as human shields and after all her lies and deceit, the bells didn't mean anything to Daenerys and so to take out all that grief and anger on Cersei, she went to burn the Red Keep down. Except she hadn't done that. She'd killed people who hadn't wronged her. She could hear their screams of terror, fleeing away from the terrible might she wielded.

 

The Mad King's daughter.

 

"I'm not," she whispered to herself and shook her head in the darkness of her chambers, curling into herself. "I'm not mad."

 

She missed Missandei now more than ever. With her quiet strength and unwavering belief in Daenerys even when Daenerys had been unsure of herself. She missed Jorah and his wisdom. Jorah saw the good in her. She should have died with them to save the world of what she was.

 

"I'm not mad," she repeated to the darkness.

Chapter Text

MAGGO

 

He was in the the cave where they had mined the dragonglass. He and some of his friends used to come here all the time for a glimpse of their Khaleesi. She had spent a lot of time here when Jon Snow, the traitor, had overseen the work done here.

 

He heard his sister, Vrozzi, gossip with some of the other girls and swoon because she thought the Khaleesi and Jon Snow shared some affections with each other. They weren't the only ones who thought that. Some of the men thought him too small to be regarding the Khaleesi in that capacity and joked of how they were more suited for her.

 

Simpler times.

 

It was taking them longer than they had thought to leave for Vaes Dothrak. The Halfman had said that there were no ships readily available and so they had to wait. Today made it the second day of the fourth moon since his mother had died.

 

His heart beat with pride and sorrow. She may not have had the means to exact power, but her death had made a difference.

 

The different factions lived in distrust and a little contempt for each other, but there was peace even though it was a rocky one. He longed for the endless fields of ghost grass and the vast sky that served as canopy to the hundreds of thousands of Dothraki whenever there had been a pilgrimage to the temple of the Dosh Khaleen.

 

He missed being one with a horse. Many of their horses had been used for meat. A once fearsome people now reduced to a few thousand, most of which were women and children.

 

He felt no regrets or bitterness that they had come to Westeros, it wasn't the Dothraki way for they had embraced their time here with pride, but it ceased being home when the one who made it home was no more.

 

He knew the story of Daenerys. It was one that was told around fires and whispered between lovers or people looking to find strength. She had found hers in his motherland. That was where the Great Stallion had chosen to bless her. She had lost her dragon, but found him after she had formed their people into one khalasar. She was every bit as much a part of their land and culture as he was. That was her home. Not this Dragonstone. So, they would go back there to live out the rest of their lives and cause the changes she had set out to bring in whatever ways that they could.

 

When they returned back home, they would carry out her vision of breaking the wheel.

 

 


VROZZI

 

Before Daenerys Stormborn had made her people cross the poisoned waters, it was forbidden to cross it and many of them had grown sick on their voyage. Yet sailing in those days had become the pleasure of her life. Moreso now that they were returning back home to the land of her ancestors. The sea, the sun, the cry of the birds all melted away, leaving just thoughts of her mother's sacrifice and hope in the future.

 

She walked the deck, hailing the sailors cast crimson by the setting sun. The salty air and the spray of sea water on her short hair and face.

 

She wondered about Vaes Dothrak and sometimes worried if they were doing the right thing. She was one of the people that the others looked up to. She didn't know anything about hunting and their old ways of raiding and conquering were now forbidden, but she knew survival. They would find a way. The blood of the greatest and fiercest horselords flowed through them. There was no room for defeat.

 

A bird flew overhead squawking.

 

She thought of her lover. An Unsullied with no true name. She wondered if they were well. Greyworm, the queen's commander, had taken them back to Naath in honour of Missandei. She felt sadness wash over her when she thought of the Dragon Queen's quiet advisor. So much death that happened could have been avoided. She was privy to some of the more private discourse that had centred around the conquering of Westeros. She loved her queen, but she found a few faults in her methods. Even now, amongst the group that stood for her ideology, little factions were forming; some in favour of all the Dragon Queen did and those who examined her errors. Vrozzi was of the latter. Daenerys had waited too long to act and had fallen because of that. It was a lesson to learn from. One that she would always refer to when she needed to take action.

 

She felt someone come to stand beside her. Maggo. Her heart softened.

 

She pushed his shoulder affectionately. She'd almost lost him, but now they were going home.

 

Soon. She promised silently.

 

 


KINVARA

 

She saw dragons. Lots of them. Some built and some destroyed. It looked like the Valyrian Freehold, but it differed in a way.

 

She squinted her eyes when she didn't see high rising towers. Instead she saw stone-walled castles peculiar to Westeros amidst manses that were found in Pentos. They were all behind the Black Walls of Eastern Volantis. There were dragons behind the walls and dragons outside the walls with freed men pushing back. And then a in a flash of light, everything was gone.

 


 

It was nearing the fifth year since the Lord had sent her here. She knew why she had come, but she still didn't completely understand why she was still here. These days, the same dream appeared to her recurrently. At first, it came to her when she was asleep, but more recently, she would fall into a trance and see the same thing. She didn't know if it was from the past or if she was seeing into the future. Amongst the dragons were Targaryens, but some were also not Targaryens. It was strange in the way that dreams were strange.

 

She rubbed the glowing necklace on her and it burned hotter. It was a sweet sensation. Today seemed like any other day in their growing settlement, but she could taste death in the air.

 


 

She was riding past the Horsegate into Vaes Dothrak and she saw Jon Snow coming in the opposite direction with his wolf slinking along, it's lone ear twitching at the sounds.

 

"Well met, Kinvara."

 

"Jon Snow." She grabbed his arm suddenly and said, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but it's end is a way to death,"

 

At his puzzled look, she cocked her head and smiled. She had to because she too was trying to make sense of it.

 

She rode past him without another word and left him to stew in what she told him. Sometimes, she understood the mysteries when the Lord granted. But other times, she was just as lost as everyone else.

 

 


JON

 

Essos was much more vast and diverse than Westeros was, all the more so if one took only the North into consideration.

 

He walked amongst the ruins of the old temples and gods that the Dothraki of yore had brought here from whatever other ancient civilization that was no more. There were strange looking idols and buildings on these grounds.

 

Since the Lhazareen scouts had been found, he had taken it upon himself to defend his new home. Home. A realization that made him smile. He had neither house nor hearth here, but his family was here and he would see to it that they were protected for as long as he could.

 

He heard the rumble of thunder from a distance. He had to go back to the settlement. He had strayed far from the rest of his group, curious about the ruins. In all the time that he had been here, nearing a year, he'd barely seen any rainfall. He agreed with Tormund when his friend called it, 'The Land of Always Summer'. A little rain would be welcome.

 

The white grass flattened in waves with each gust of wind as he made his way back.

 

There is a way that seems right to a man, but it's end is a way to death.

 

It had been four days since the Red Woman had said that strange message to him. He brushed it off as her being odd, he'd seen all this with Melisendre, but more and more, her words beleaguered him. He had so many encounters with death that he didn't fear it for himself anymore, but he had people in his life that he loved and cared for and a renewed sense of purpose. Nothing was getting past him to them if he could help it.

 

He waved in greeting at the calls and whistles of 'Zolka Vala'. It amused him that the nickname had stuck even though 'Jon Snow' was short and 'Jon' even shorter. No one here called him Jon except Tormund, Liram and Daenerys.

 

Quite a bit of time had passed since Daenerys had come to his tent. It had been difficult coming to terms with things in full. He could hardly recognize himself through the eyes of truth. But there was nothing he could do to change anything from before. All he had was determination. He didn't know if anything would ever be as they once were, but they could surely be better than they were now.

 

His hand went to his sword when someone shoved him aside, cutting off his musings abruptly. When he turned to look, he saw no one. He swiveled, but all he saw were people walking or running down the dirt road unperturbed. Unsettled was he when he sheathed his sword back carefully. He continued on, but frowned when Ghost's hackles rose, and his muzzle curled back to expose yellow and white fangs. Ear shoved forward, tail held high, he began to circle Jon. Something was awry.

 

The passers-by looked at him oddly and gave his direwolf a wide berth.

 

"What's it, boy?" he murmured.

 

He waited to see if Ghost would follow the phantom menace, but his wolf abruptly sat on his haunches and began to wag it's tail. Strange.

 

 


KINVARA

 

Prompted by an unseen force, Kinvara walked purposefully to the now completed red god's temple. A very small, but impressive building with its elaborate pillars and columns and bricks brought in from as far as Tyrosh to build a befitting edifice for R'hollor.

 

As she made haste past the worshippers and visitors, some of them cowered before her or avoided her gaze, speaking of her in hushed tones. Those who weren't afraid, bowed their heads reverently. She went up the stairs in a quick pace and entered the worship hall. She summoned the priests and priestesses who weren't leading in prayer and commanded that they follow her immediately, telling one of them to bring a rope with her.

 

Onto the stables they went and mounted their horses. She led the charge and they, along with some of her guards, galloped as fast as they could to the southernmost end of their settlement where barely a soul ever went because it was rumoured to be the place of human sacrifice.

 

On arrival, they all dismounted and she held out her hand for the dagger passed on to her; the cool sensation of the blade sliding down her palm as she lit it afire with her blood.

 

Her comrades formed a half circle and began chanting some incantations.

 

She held up the dagger and waited.

 

The bushes rustled and someone stumbled out. She adjusted her eyes to the darkness to take him in.

 

Surprised, she asked, speaking the Myrish dialect of Valyrian, "What are you doing here, Nakan?"

 

The boy looked frightened and confused. He tossed his staff to the ground and held up his hands.

 

"Pl--Please don't hurt me. Some of the boys made a wager on who could stay here the longest. I didn't know that you would be here."

 

The chanting increased and Kinvara could feel a stranger close by.

 

The air shimmered around her and she looked at the boy again. This time, she smiled at him and said, "Valar Morghulis."

 

His fear was palpable, but she hardened her gaze and waited. Seeing her remain unmoved by his mummery, he straightened himself up and gave her a toothy smile.

 

"Valar Dohaeris."

 

Then he pulled at his face to reveal the one who was true beneath the mask. He bowed cockily as some of her warriors held him and bound him.

 


 

"You're very far away from Braavos," she said.

 

"And you from Volantis." he quipped like they were long time friends. "You're angry."

 

"The boy's life was not yours to take."

 

"No, but his time was up. In few days, he would have encountered a pride of lions and died as their food. This was a better death." When she didn't answer, he added, "There was no malice in taking his life. It was necessary."

 

"Why are you here?"

 

"You know."

 

"She's already died once. It's not yet time. Who sent you?"

 

He didn't answer her question, instead, he said, "Daeron and Jaehaerys too. You owe me their lives."

 

It wasn't very often that she felt fear, but she did now and it was all she could do not to kill the assassin.

 

"Who sent you?" she asked again, this time with a smirk.

 

"Look and you will see," he leered at her.

 

She held his face in her hands and looked into his eyes. A dwarf looked back at her and behind him were black wings and three blind eyes.

 

Tyrion Lannister

 

"The dwarf sent you."

 

"As long as their names have been promised to the many-faced god, we will keep coming for them until our debt is paid in full."

 

She knew it to be true so she asked, "And what about the boy? You took his life when you weren't owed. Your debt is his life."

 

He considered her and nodded, "So be it. We will spare one life, but Daenerys will have to make a choice between her sons."

 

It was an impossible request.

 

"There has to be another way."

 

"You could protect them with your magic, but your god is just one of the faces of the many-faced god. He will still collect what he is owed."

 

Immediately, she convulsed and was transported into a trance. It was the same dream that she'd been having recently, but this time, there were two paths. She followed the first one which led her to the same end; dragons on each side of the Black Walls warring against each other. She saw an opening which led her to the second path; it was the same, but different. The same thing happened, only this time, it ended in front of a man who removed his mask.

 

She came out of it dawned with new understanding. Now she knew why she had been here all this while. To preserve the Targaryen line from Ice and Fire for a war that wouldn't take place for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years from this day. A war for humanity. If she didn't do something, their line would end. Again.

 

"A life for a life," was the last thing she said before she ordered her men to cast him to the ground and she burned him alive. Listening to his screams as she thought of what next to do.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

It was late, but she found that she preferred to fly at night especially when she was troubled. Deciding that she had flown as much as she needed to, she circled back. As she drew closer to the settlement, saw a fire when she looked down. Alarmed, she guided Drogon towards it and landed him near the place.

 

She saw people in red cowls and frowned as she rushed off Drogon's back. When she got closer, she was horrified by what she saw.

 

On the ground, was a staff that belonged to the boy Nakan. Beside the staff was the burning body of a male. She felt rage course through her at the sight. Drogon felt it too because his roar reflected her anger.

 

"What is the meaning of this?" she demanded.



The guards trained their spears on Daenerys when Drogon advanced with her. Kinvara lifted her hand to stop them.

 

Without a word, the Red Woman calmly tossed a mask at Daenerys her. Wary, she caught it and held it up questioningly.

 

And then Kinvara told her everything.

 

 


JON

 

The more he heard, the more his heart hardened in anger and retribution. Tyrion. He had come all this way to protect his family, but the serenity of the place had lulled them into a false sense of safeness. He wouldn't suffer the man to live when he saw him again. Not this time.

 

Jon looked around the private audience chamber at the handful of people gathered. Kinvara and three of her personal guards, Tormund, Raemar, Daenerys and himself.

 

They were in Daenerys' home. He could see how shaken she was and how she was doing her best not to show it. She paced as they made plans and went to stand in one corner where a black cloth with a red stitch at the edge had been folded neatly. The Targaryen banner.

 

"What can we do to stop it completely?" Tormund inquired.

 

"Burn them alive. Raze Kings Landing to the ground again, if need be," Daenerys said without missing a beat.

 

Fire and Blood.

 

"The Faceless Men will still come after you and the boys," Jon countered.

 

"Then I'll fly to Braavos and kill them all," she fulminated.

 

"You're magic, but it is whispered that theirs brought doom upon the Valyrian Freehold. If you do that, then you and all you hold dear will be erased from this world to be forgotten forever," Kinvara cautioned.

 

Her words of warning subdued Daenerys' ire, "What if I go to their temple alone to treat with--"

 

"No," Jon cut her off. Absolutely not.

 

"They're coming for the twins too, Jon. The best option is to lure them away from here."

 

He understood the desperation. He felt it too along with the gut wrenching fear of losing everything, but he and she knew that that plan was porous and would be rendered ineffective.

 

"No," he repeated firmly. "You'll be safer here. I won't let anything happen to any of you."

 

"So my killer is going to protect my sons and I from our would be killers?" she retorted sarcastically.

 

The room fell silent at that.

 

It wounded Jon, but she wasn't wrong. The truth of her words shining light on how ludicrous it all was.

 

He looked across to her and noted that she looked repentant.

 

As terrible as her words made him feel, he preferred her anger and hate than the downheartedness he'd seen when she left his tent. It was the one thing that he'd not allowed himself notice when they were on Dragonstone after Missandei and Rhaegal died.

 

At least she's alive to hate me. He thought ruefully.

 

Kinvara broke the silence;

 

"I'll go to Braavos."

 

"You were able to spot the man. None of us can do that. We need you here," Daenerys averred.

 

"Aye, we do," Jon agreed.

 

"If I remain here, we will all be trapped here, looking over our shoulders for the next attack which may or may not come immediately. My people will see to it that nothing happens to any of you. Trust me," she said all of this directly looking at Daenerys.

 

At Daenerys' slight and almost imperceptible nod, Kinvara continued, "So we agree then?"

 

"Aye."

 

"Yes."

 

Some nods.

 

Daenerys spoke some more and when she had to switch between tongues, Kinvara interpreted for those involved.

 

How much longer they stayed there, he didn't know, but by the time they were done, he could see the different colours of dawn dance through the windows.

 

He would kill and destroy before he let anything happen to Daenerys or his sons.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

Dismissed, everyone but Jon left.

 

He waited for them to leave before asking, "How are you?"

 

Afraid? Angry? Tired? "I'm well, all things considered," she said with a tight smile.

 

He stood there stiffly for a moment and nodded at her. With that, he opened the door to leave.

 

"I shouldn't have said that," she said in apology. "It was ill-advised."

 

She knew he knew what she meant. When she had accused him in front of everyone. A part of her still wanted to hurt him like he'd hurt her, but she didn't find joy in retaliation. Only more misery and she was weary from all of it.

 

"It doesn't matter," he said with a forced smile. "You were right."

 

She had no response to that. She watched him look around the room and saw his eyes linger on the floor before darting back to hers.

 

He went still. So did she.

 

"The twins?" he asked without warning.

 

"They're asleep." A pause. "Would you like to see them?"

 

This time, a true smile lit up his face and she found herself smiling back. He opened the door for her and let her lead the way.

 


 

Since the Faceless Man had come, Ghost was a constant entity in her home to the boys' delight. Jon wouldn't have it any other way. He'd become very vigilant about keeping them safe.

 

He also felt responsible for Nakan's death. It pained her that even here, someone else she had come to care for had died because of her and one so young at that. The burden of his death hung over her like a dark cloud.

 

She thought of his father and mother. He could still hear their wails of grief. She understood loss and she understood the pain of a grieving mother; she'd lost three sons before. When she could, she would visit the bereaved.

 

There was a melancholy to their town now. His death had cast a shadow over her people and raised their suspicions towards outsiders.

 

She had to keep them all safe.

 

She thought of how quickly Kinvara's warriors had turned their spears against her. She relied so much on them that she hadn't bothered to think of what would happen to her family and her people should the Red Woman decide that she was the enemy.

 

Maybe she would hire a sellsword company.

 

She thought of Greyworm and the Unsullied. People she had trusted with her life; people who never let her down until the very end. She thought of the one she had trusted with all her heart and soul: the same one who ended her life the first time.

 

She had come out again tonight to watch over their town from above. She had begun these aerial patrols since the boy's death. She guided Drogon so low to the ground that he was gliding barely above the trees. She observed as the grass flattened under the wind in beautiful shimmering waves, each blade turned momentarily to reflect brilliant moonlight. Together they danced in ways that brought out her pain and fears. And great were her fears.

 

She feared loss more than she feared anything else. She feared losing her children and her people. She feared that Drogon wasn't as invincible as she had once thought.

 

But that wasn't all she feared; she feared that her enemies would never let her rest. She feared that if they didn't destroy her, she would destroy herself and everything that she loved in her bid to destroy them first. She feared that she would fail everyone she loved and those who now looked to her for protection.

 

She feared the beginnings of familiarity with Jon that were growing again in her unbidden. She feared that when she struck her enemies down, he would reject her again.

 

Fear was torment. It wasn't the predictable anger or pain that was the worst, it was the things she knew were coming, just never when.

 

 


KINVARA

 

She saw them through her window. Daenerys, the twins and the direwolf. The Dragon Queen and her kin had become more than an obligation to her.

 

As they neared the entrance, she went to open the door for them.

 

Both boys rushed in to give her tearful hugs. She went on her hunches and returned their hugs. She would kill anyone who would harm them.

 

She looked up at their mother and a look of understanding passed between them. She knew what the girl wanted to say, but couldn't stay.

 

Back on her feet, she moved to the Dragon Queen and looked into her eyes.

 

"Come back safe," Daenerys said in a soft command, leaving no room for anything else.

 

With a nod, Kinvara set out to do what she had to do, leaving behind tearful sniffles of two boys
under the watchful eye of a young woman who she'd come to love as her own.

 


 

She stood in front of the looming doors ahead of her. The House of Black and White sat upon a rocky knoll made of dark grey stone. It had no windows and had a black tile roof. Its wooden doors were about ten to twelve feet high and carved. The left door weirwood, the right ebony.

 

She instructed her company to remain outside. She pushed open the doors and walked into a large room with a long pool across it and statues of gods standing around the room. There were at least twenty to thirty idols standing sentry in the room.

 

She walked in carefully, taking in her surroundings. It was dark and it had the sickly sweet scent of death.

 

One of the acolytes approached her and she whispered a name into his ear. He recoiled sharply and looked at her. She smirked.


"Wait here."

 


 

The man before her, though she had never met, she had a sense of knowing. He had long hair, one half of it red, the other half white.

 

"The Lord of Light shine upon you," she told him in greeting.

 

"The red god has his due, dear woman, and only death may pay for life."

 

"Yes."

 

"What is it you want of a man?"

 

"A life in exchange for a life."

 

"Whose?"

 

"Daenerys Targaryen."

 

She could see behind that charming smile that he was annoyed. He no longer had a name, but she knew his true name and when the acolytes had come up to her, she told him the name of the man whose life she wanted taken.

 

"A man cannot do that. You know this."

 

"The you too will die," she told him.

 

"Name another price and it will be granted you without charge."

 

She called his name again. And again. And again. And again.

 

He gave her a hard look and it soon melted into a smile. He bowed his head, "Very well then. What can a man do in exchange for his own life?"

 

"Spare Daenerys and her son."

 

She told him of the fate of the first assassin he sent and he nodded as he listened.

 

"A man can only spare one more life."

 

"I'm going to order for the deaths of every single priest, acolyte and novice in this temple if this is what your god needs as payment."

 

His exasperation slipped behind his smile.

 

"A man will spare her, but you have to give a man a name in exchange for hers. This woman has taken one that was his. This woman must give one in their place. Speak the names, and a man will do the rest."

 

Her first thought was Brandon Stark, King of the Six Kindgoms, but his life was a necessary evil. So she said the next best thing, "Royal blood for royal blood. I give you Sansa Stark."

 

"Why not the dwarf who is in the wrong?"

 

"He is to die in the East."

 

"A man will heed," he said with a slight bow.

 

She left the temple and climbed into her palanquin. Sansa was just one more enemy who would harm the Dragon Queen if the opportunity ever presented itself. Daenerys didn't know of her plans, but it was something that had to be done.

Chapter Text

JON

 

The boy's death still weighed heavily on his mind. He had been on an errand for Jon when he'd been killed. He also used to watch the twins sometimes. Jon had been living in a constant state of consternation and anger since he discovered that the assassin could have had easy access the twins.

 

He thought of Arya, then. She would know what to do. He wondered where she was and if she was safe. He didn't think of his family, the Starks, very often anymore. It was deliberate. He loved them and he always would, but remembering how they all, including himself, made a mess of things, he didn't like to think of them. They were the legacy that Lord Eddard had left behind and to preserve them in the light of his father's legacy and honour, he didn't like to think of the last time he saw them.

 

He stayed his mind, instead, on the present. On the sons he never thought that he would have and the woman who had given them to him. The Starks represented all the things that were and might have been, Daenerys and their sons represented what could be.

 

He knew it was too much to hope for more with her, but he didn't mind whatever she was willing to allow as long as she was in his life in some capacity.

 

Since the day that they had held a meeting to keep the boys safe, she had changed towards him. She was no longer aloof, not entirely. She didn't make any major decisions without him. It wasn't just concerning the boys' safety, it was regarding their town as well. And following her lead, the inhabitants of the town deferred to him more. It also helped that he had picked up enough Valyrian to not be lost in a conversation even though he could hardly string a sentence together.

 

One time, she'd told him of how Kinvara's warriors had been ready to attack her when they thought she was a threat to the Red Woman and confided her fears that her people weren't really safe and so he'd suggested that every man, woman and child old enough be required to learn simple self defense and those who could, would train even harder to fight against attack should it ever happen. That was several moons ago.

 

Today, he was going to meet with her to deliberate on the matter of sellswords. He didn't trust them. Neither did she, but she thought she was running out of options.

 

"Where are you going?" Tormund shoved him, cutting off his musings. "To see your queen, eh?"

 

He didn't say anything.

 

"What does Jon Snow think? Is Jon aware? Inform Jon... Jon, Jon, Jon, Jon, Jon," Tormund joked.

 

Jon ignored the man and gave Liram, who was howling hysterically, a black look.

 

"You've been spending an awful lot of time with her lately," his friend said with a sly grin. "Has she gotten over you killing her now? It's about time."

 

If Tormund saw Jon's look of annoyance, he ignored it. Jon left the place at the sound of Liram laughing like a fool at Tormund's jests.

 


 

When they met on the ruins of the temple of the Dosh Khaleen, he could tell that something was different. Gone was the cordiality he had grown used to; he was met with forced politeness and false smiles. Alarmed, he tried to remember if he'd done or said anything to warrant the unwelcome treatment. Trying to talk to her was like walking around broken glass barefooted until he asked her pointedly what the problem was.

 

He'd found it odd when she had requested that they discuss protective measures and strategies on that specific location, but he didn't think more of it than that.

 

Now, at his behest, though she didn't exactly say what was wrong, he could tell what she was doing.

 

The Daenerys telling him of how she burned the Khals on this spot was the same one he'd seen when he had gone to Dragonstone; regal, distant, authoritarian. But he'd come to know her intimately and behind all that pomp and flair, was a woman afraid. Of what, he didn't know in particular, but if he had to wager, it would be on the fear of her enemies going after their children and whatever bottled up frustration she felt, he was an easy target for her.

 

"... I'll burn any threat alive," she declared, looking at him as if daring him to oppose her.

 

"Alright," he shrugged.

 

If she thought that would chase him away, then she underestimated his own willfulness.

 

He felt a strong gush of wind and heard the loud thud beside him, accompanied with the slight tremble on the ground and a terrible roar in tow.

 

"You looked at me with fear once when I burned my enemies. Do you remember?" she asked

 

He did, but he didn't remind her of the others who had died as well. His only response was to look unflinchingly at Drogon and then back at her.

 

"Are you a threat to me, Jon Snow?"

 

He didn't look away from her.

 

She'd walked up to him slowly, "Will you still want me when I rain fire on those who would harm me like I did before?"

 

Is that all I am to you? Your queen? The memory fleeted away as quickly as it came.

 

He lowered his eyes to her mouth and asked throatily, "Are you going to kill me?"

 

She didn't say a word. Instead Drogon raised its head up and opened its maw. Jon turned his head to the dragon and could see the inferno behind its throat. Waiting for her command of "Dracarys" to turn him to ash.

 

He cocked his head at her. Unafraid. Waiting.

 

He knew fear when he saw it for he was well acquainted with it and he recognized it behind this show of power. He also knew Daenerys. It was innate. He knew that she wouldn't hurt him.

 

"You won't burn me, Dany," he told her softly, a sad smile on his face. "I won't let anything happen to you or our sons."

 

He brought his fingers up to her cheek and let them fall to her shoulder, trailing her neck along their way. He could see her struggle to keep up appearances. If this ploy was what she needed to do to subsist, then he would be there to support her.

 

He kissed her brow and hugged her close, noting that Drogon, now subdued, was resting his head on its giant talons.

 


 

Daenerys doted on the twins to the point of spoiling them sometimes, but she didn't shy away from disciplining them. As young as they were, they understood when she was their mother and when she was their queen. She didn't let anyone serve them if they could do those things for themselves. A law had been passed that on seventh and fourteenth day of every moon that everyone who lived in the settlement would come together to clean it thoroughly or work on the farm. The children too, though their work was a lot lighter and was more like a game for them. She made sure the boys did their part and whenever they got into trouble, she did her best to be fair and just in doling out the appropriate punishments. Now that they were nearing four, that punishment meant standing with their hands reaching for the sky until she was satisfied or doing a bit of "manual labour". They hated both.

 

As he approached them, he could see them try to squeeze the life out of each other as they held one another in embrace. This must be a new form of punishment. Raemar was trying his hardest to look stern.

 

As soon as they saw him, they ran to him and began to tell on themselves and their mother.

 

He brushed the dirt from their bodies as they went on; they had gotten into a fight and neither would admit whose fault it was and then their mother had stopped the fight and told them to hug each other until she called them in for supper. But that wasn't the worst of it, she had forbidden them from practicing horseback riding and kept Ghost away from them.

 

Jon tried not to laugh, but he couldn't stop the chuckle that escaped him. They smiled in return. He was about to say something stern to them when he heard;

 

"And when did I dismiss you two?"

 

Mirth forgotten, they gave her a forlorn look and turned to him with pleading eyes before returning back to their "embrace."

 

He stood up and smiled at her. She returned his smile and turned her attention to the twins. He could see the laughter in her eyes, but in the boys' eyes, she might as have well been The Stranger.

 

She invited him to join her and he obliged; letting her lead while he walked leisurely behind her to enjoy the view that her back form provided. He preferred her in Essosi garments. They brought out a softness in her that her military style clothing hid.

 

Careful now, he warned himself.

 

They went to sit under the shade of her lemon trees in terraces overlooking the pool and fountains. The table there was lavish with a feast; sweet cakes soaked with honey, a thick soup of barley and venison, salads of sweetgrass and spinach and plums, sprinkled with crushed nuts. Snails in honey and garlic. There were jars of wine and fresh water placed here and there.

 

His stomach rumbled at the sight.

 

She got up and told him to start eating without her.

 

Hungry and now alone, he took one of the sweet cakes, bit into it and moaned for it was rich and heavy on the tongue. He heard the patter of little feet and the excited chatter of the twins as they ran to him and plopped down heavily beside him, making his cake fall to the ground.

 

Jaehaerys picked it up and handed it back to him, "Kesīr jā, Zolka Vala."

 

Jon beamed at the lad and was still patting himself on the back for understanding, "Here you go, Wolf man", when he heard Daenerys correct the boy in the Common Tongue.

 

"Not Wolf Man. Papa."

 

The world stood still for him and it was a moment that would live with him for the rest of his life.

 

He looked at her sharply and swallowed. She looked at him too. There was an openness there that mirrored her gaze when she'd told him about the witch who had cursed her to never have children. He wanted to kiss her.

 

Oblivious to the milestone that their father and mother had just crossed, the boys talked and demanded that they be fed, causing her to look away from him. Of course their mother scolded them to be polite. A scene he watched with renewed wonder. She had just given him a gift.

 

He felt a fierce tenderness envelop him at the sight of her and marveled at just how generous she was.

 

 


THE ONION KNIGHT

 

Davos kept looking behind him. He could feel eyes at the back of his neck. They know.

 

He was afraid, but he steeled himself. Whatever was coming, he would be prepared. He'd faced death back at Winterfell. Nothing could be worse than that.

 

He had arrived at Durran's Point late in the afternoon and gazed at the gigantic castle looming ahead of him.

 

Storm's End was surrounded by a massive outer curtain wall, one hundred feet high and forty feet thick on its thinnest side and nearly eighty feet thick on its seaward side. It was composed of a double course of pale grey stone with an inner core of sand and rubble. The wall was smooth and curving, the stones so well placed and so perfectly together that the wind could find no purchase. On the seaward side, there was a one hundred fifty foot drop below the wall into the sea.

 

It was one of the strongest castles in all the realm. It was no wonder the Dothraki had attacked. That or the fact that it was the closest part of the Kingdom to Dragonstone.

 

Word had come to him of Gendry's misfortune and Bronn's "goodwill." If there was someone that was enjoying the power that had been handed to him, it was the Lord Paramount of the Reach. Though inexperienced and without allies, he had limitless access to gold and what he lacked in, well, anything, he made up for with money.

 

Davos wondered what Bronn's help had cost Gendry.

 


 

"Ser Davos!" Gendry embraced him.

 

"Look at you, lad."

 

Davos pulled back to inspect him. There were signs of worry under his eyes now. He glanced at the lad's desk and saw several flagons now empty of strong drink. The lad had taken to the comfort of drinking his worries away, it seemed.

 

Gendry must have noticed Davos observing the chamber and quickly cleared his desk.

 

Davos chuckled. "I'm not judging ya. Now be a good lad and hand me some of that."

 

Gendry's laugh was booming and full of relief. "It's good to see you, Ser Davos. I'm tired of the miserable old shits on this side of the Kingdom."

 


 

"Seven hells," Davos muttered.

 

"Aye, old man."

 

Gendry's woes had only compounded since he became the Lord of Storm's End. Some of the minor lords under him were in open rebellion because he'd leveraged some of their land to pay Bronn for saving them. The only good thing to have come out of this was that the smallfolk loved Gendry. They were the ones who he was striving to do right by.

 

"They're right, you know." Gendry raised an eyebrow in question and Davos added, "It's wise to marry from any of the houses that has presented their daughters. Choose the best option. Do it to appease them and quell the dissent. There's a storm coming. You'll need all the help that you can get."

 

He could see the boy struggle with his words, but this was one of the things that duty demanded. Sometimes, the choices were taken out of your hands.

 

He patted Gendry on the shoulder and emptied his cup.

 

"So you came all this way to whore me out," Gendry joked.

 

"Aye, lad."

 

 

 

DAARIO

 

Daario seethed when he saw hacked pieces of the butchered body. It was gruesome to behold and had been done with cruel intent. It also meant that the fear of him and his men was waning.

 

This was the sixth body in four days that they had discovered like this. It belonged to one of the freed slaves.

 

The masters had returned. Word had come in from Westeros that the Dragon Queen was dead and that her armies were scattered across the world. They had also heard that two dragons were dead. If this wasn't curbed soon, there would be a war. He already heard gossip that a sellsword company was marching this way.

 

He didn't have enough men to match the might of the armies that he knew the masters would hire. One dragon, however, was enough to turn the tides of war in their favour.

 

He had to send word to Daenerys immediately.

 

 

 

THE MASTERS

 

They sat amidst food wine and the finest whores, making merry at what was to come. There were jokes about the bitch being truly dead and all present cursed her name. The Red Keep in Westeros had collapsed on her, some said. It was retribution for what she had stolen from them, others jeered.

 

Dead bodies were mysteriously turning up all around Slavers' Bay. Soon they would attack.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

"What is it?" Jon asked.

 

She handed him the scroll and waited for him to read it. He had been supervising the training that was now obligatory for all who were old enough to fight.

 

His eyes scanned the scroll and he cursed under his breath. "Fuck."

 

Indeed.

 

He hefted himself over the short fence and walked with her while she planned her next move.

 

"I have to go there."

 

"You told me that freed slaves outnumbered the masters five to one."

 

"Yes, but they don't have the resources the masters do. They can't afford to hire protection."

 

"Aye." He agreed sounding worried.

 

"I can't leave this place unattended. Drogon is the best weapon of offense and defense that we have."

 

"Kinvara's men are here and the town is hidden. Those who know where it is fear to come here because they think the people who live here eat people," he tried assuring her with a smile.

 

She had known that this attack was inevitable, but had hoped that it wouldn't be till much longer. She had no armies. But I have a dragon. Her heart lurched in terror at the thought of Drogon going down from a scorpion bolt.

 

"I'll come with you."



"That won't be necessary. And I need you here to protect the people and the children."

 

She could see the effect her words had on him. She could also feel what they did to her. She and Jon had gotten to a place of... understanding. Not quite trust, but a far cry from what had been when he'd first come here. There were times when memories of her death didn't hang over them. During those times, he'd taken to touching her; a caress here, an embrace there.

 

She hadn't stopped or resisted any of it even though there was a part of her that expected this all to end badly.

 

"You'll be alone there. You don't have--,"

 

"--armies?"

 

He averted his eyes from hers. She could feel the guilt from him and her own resentment dampen the goodwill between them.

 

When the disquiet grew, he said, "Let me come with you."

 

He felt responsible. That, she knew; she'd lost most of her forces at Winterfell and her death made the slaves vulnerable. He wouldn't be at rest knowing that there were people abusing the peace that she had brought to the Bay of Dragons because they thought her dead which he was, in fact, responsible for.

 

She didn't like to go down this road because then she would think of the magnitude of her loss and sink into despair or rage with hate. She didn't like the darkness those feelings and thoughts brought her so she forced herself to focus on the matter at hand;

 

"What about the children?"

 

"They'll be safe here. Tormund, Raemar, Liram and a host of other strong men will be here to protect them. They have the magic of the red god shielding them."

 

"The Faceless Men--"

 

"--Kinvara."

 

The Red Woman had returned with abstruse assurances that all had been dealt with, but Daenerys still worried.

 

"You'll need me more than they will," he urged gently.

 

"Alright, then."

Chapter Text

JON

 

Four moons had passed since they'd come to in Meereen. They were waiting for the right time to attack. The scouts that Daario had sent beyond the city hadn't returned, but his network of spies kept them abreast of any information that they could glean from any master with loose lips. They were working tirelessly in the shadows.

 

They had flown in on the dragon's back in the thick of the night to avoid prying eyes or an ambush. Then she had sent Drogon away to remain hidden until she needed him. Right now, the edge that they had over the masters was the element of surprise although he didn't know how well that plan would work since talk of a lone dragon hunting was spreading. There were also whispers of the Dragon Queen's return. That information, he was sure had come from this room. One of the officials, maybe. Or Daario. He shook his head as if to discourage that sliver of jealousy. Daenerys wasn't his. She was a woman grown who could do as she liked.

 

In three days, the sellswords would attempt an assault on Astapor. Before they got the chance, Daenerys would steal in at night and burn the enemy.

 

He watched her give sharp instructions and ask for advice where she needed it. Surrounded by fierce men, large and small, who were ready to die if need be. Daario, standing a little too close to her for comfort, was showing her some things on the map. He made a joke and she smirked at him. There was a familiarity there that Jon wished he wasn't bearing witness to especially when he didn't quite know where it was they, Jon and Daenerys, stood with each other. He wasn't blind nor was he oblivious; on more than a few occasions, he'd caught her looking at him in the way a woman admires a man. He'd felt her melt into his embrace the few times he'd been brave enough to envelope her in his arms whenever it looked like she needed comfort, he'd felt her breathe him in when that embrace lasted longer than it should have. There were times when it felt like the good days where things were a lot simpler between them; those times almost always involved the children. And then there were days where the underlying acrimony between them was palpable. During those times, something as simple as a word could turn her cold or make him reclusive. There were days when he wished for the comfort of his thick cloak. It was silly, but in times past, when he'd been unsure of himself, his cloak had served as a form of comfort to him.

 

Since they'd come to Meereen, the only times they ever saw each other were during war council meetings like this one. She was usually busy seeing to the state of affairs with the city's officials in the privacy of the Great Pyramid or he was training with the men down below. When he wasn't training, he was getting the lay of the city. Daenerys was revered in these parts; feared and worshipped.

 

He'd seen a fight break out because a freed slave had heard a former master speak ill of her. He'd seen plays and feasts held in her honour and people renting sack clothes covered in ash because they were mourning her death. He hadn't known the extent to which that choice he made would ripple. There was a whole other world of people that thrived because she gave them hope.

 

And I killed her.

 

As much as he did love her and as much as he wished he still had her trust, he understood better now just how deeply his betrayal had cut. I wish I could take it back.

 

"...we will convene here on the morrow when we hear from one your men," she told Daario.

 

At her dismissal, some of the people gathered in little groups to make small talk. Some of them surrounded her and she looked like she felt at home here. Home. He still felt that deep-seated guilt that had anchored itself in his belly whenever he thought of how he'd neglected her when things had become too difficult and confusing. It was easy to see things with clarity in retrospect.

 

He moved out of the way for those leaving. He didn't know why he still tarried. He had work to do. At the thought, he left without a glance. There was a battle to be fought and won. That's why he was here.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

She guided Drogon silently in the dark. The stars weren't out tonight in Astapor so the darkness was more profuse than it usually was, thank the gods. He tucked his wings and dipped downwards until he was close enough that no enemy would escape his fire. And then she commanded him to let loose;

 

"Dracarys!"

 

For the next hour, soot, ash and screams of horror filled the air. It was as terrible as it was exhilarating casting down her enemies.

 

Daario had given word that it was the right time to move and she'd commanded Drogon's presence. There was no need to get the army involved especially when there were no bolts and scorpions that she would have to dodge.

 

She saw some survivors throw down their swords in surrender and grinned. She wanted to kill them all, but Kings Landing flashed before her eyes and she could see Jon torn about what was happening begging her to forgive her enemies. Jon whom she loved. Jon who had killed her.

 

She froze there with Drogon unsure of herself. If I don't take care of this now, they will come back for my people. But the thought of his disapproval from all those years ago persisted.

 

She shook herself out of it. This won't do. She was in the middle of battle and the slightest indecision could cost her her life. She hovered to observe what she could through the thick cloud of smoke. Amidst the people burning and screaming, those who weren't were on their knees with their weapons on the ground. She hesitated before she steered Drogon around back to Meereen.

 


 

Daario praised her ruthlessness, but it was Jon she looked at to see what his response would be. His face was expressionless save for the few nods he gave showing that he was still in the conversation. She didn't know why it still mattered what he thought especially when it shouldn't at all, but it did.

 

"You say the company, the Long Lances, is advancing on the city. How many Freeriders?" Jon asked.

 

"Eight hundred men on eight hundred horses. They're not the only ones. There's a second company of even worse repute. The Brave Companions. We're outnumbered."

 

"We have a dragon," Daenerys cut in.

 

Jon looked at her and gave a small distracted smile, "Aye. How much longer do we have?" he asked.

 

"Less than a day at worst, two days at best," one of the scouts said.

 

"Then we best prepare. Get some rest," Jon said before quickly looking at her to see if that's what she wanted.

 

She nodded and everyone left. She went to stand on the balcony that overlooked the entire city. Her city. She didn't know how much she missed it until she'd come back. Maybe Daario had a point about returning back here. When she had first conquered Meereen, her stay here had not been without its problems. She'd had to ward off attack after attack on her life and those of her people, but her close companions had all been here. Alive. She felt culpable for being alive when they weren't, but she wasn't about to let that self-pity steal away the joys that this new life had brought her. Daeron and Jaehaerys. What were they up to now? She hadn't seen them in over four moons. She missed them. Meereen was great and wonderful, but nothing could ever stand to match the feeling she had when she got home to eager young boys waiting for her and receiving her with such warmth, acceptance and unconditional love.

 

She closed her eyes and raised up her head for the wind to wash over her.

 

"Beautiful."

 

She looked over her shoulder to see Daario leaning on the entrance with his ankles crossed and a rougish smile on his face. He walked to her and held out three flowers. They were the same flowers that he'd given her the first time he tried to win her affections on their way to the city. The time before they had became lovers years before. The flowers were beautiful and they had been his excuse to teach her about their deadly and healing properties.

 

"Poison and healing herbs?" she teased and tutted when she took them from him.

 

"I came to keep you company."

 

"You should be down with the men."

 

"Your bed is cold."

 

"We might die tomorrow and that's what you think about?"

 

"That's all any of us should think about if we're dying tomorrow."

 

She chuckled at that, but didn't parley with him any further.

 

"Meereen suits you."

 

"Maybe a lifetime ago. I'm just here to maintain the peace."

 

"Exactly. How can you maintain anything when you're away from it?"

 

"It's not home, Daario," she admitted.

 

He sighed and came to lean on the balcony so that he could face her. Arms folded, he observed her. "Hmm."

 

She knew what he was thinking. Jon Snow. She didn't know if she thought of Jon when she thought of home. She didn't know if she ever would again, but he was... she liked having him around. That much, she could admit. She sought his council more and more. And his company, that voice of foreboding said. It was the voice that kept warning her that none of this would end well. She didn't disclose any of that to Daario. Instead she feigned a smile and looked away.

 

"I didn't thank you for the daggers you gifted the twins. They will receive them when they're old enough."

 

"You don't have to thank me. Their interest in toys will fade. Learning to protect themselves from harm... that'll be for a lifetime."

 

She hummed her agreement and they stayed that way in silence until he pushed himself away from the half wall that enclosed the balcony and kissed her temple before he left.

 

There were a lot of conflicting thoughts in her mind, but they were on the verge of battle and she needed to be well prepared for what was to come. The immediate future was all that mattered at the moment.

 

 


JON

 

He was quick to pry sword from the dead man's swollen fingers and whip around to clash steel. He held the blade even, a perfect, undaunted horizon; always leveled with the nose, just as Ser Rodrick had taught him. He stalled the big man’s strike, but watched a wretched, stained grin split the enemy's fat lips as his own blade shivered under the brutality of his opponent's compelling strength.

 

Jon was quick to evade the man's attack and noted where Longclaw was. It was stuck in the neck of a dead man. The weight of the sword in his hand didn't feel right. He'd picked it up from the lifeless hands of a fighter when he hadn't been able to remove Longclaw from an enemy soldier's body on time.

 

He picked up a shield to block the blow from the big man's mace and made a run for his own sword while shouting commands at the men beside him. They had underestimated their opponents. Daario's scout had reported two sellsword companies, but a third had attacked them from behind so they were surrounded.

 

He saw Daario swivel gracefully and quickly. The man was a dancer in battle.

 

A sudden gush of pain jolted throughout Jon's body. His stomach ached, his arms lost tension and his legs began to weaken. Bruised and winded, with a leg in agony, he grabbed the foot of the captain who attacked him and pulled him to the ground. His head was pounding. He brought a fist to the captain’s face, snapping his nose into a grotesquerie. The man lay there unconscious, but Jon slit his throat to make sure he was permanently so.

 

He gathered his strength stumbled to the dead man's body where he pulled Longclaw out, using his leg to kick the body away from the sword. The clouds, suddenly full of rain, emptied themselves on the living and the dead alike. Jon slipped on the muck and blood, dodging the swing of enemy swords. He pulled an unsuspecting Freerider from his horse and thrust his sword in him before the man could even hit the ground. The force from his dead weight dragging his body through the sword and spilling his innards on the muddy ground.

 

Jon heard someone shout his name in warning and spun to swing his sword in an arc, blinking away the spray of blood that splattered on his face. He wiped his face and scanned the battlefield. He saw the archers trained on them awaiting command. If those arrows rained down, then they would lose even more men. Where are you, Daenerys?

 

Someone should have given the signal for her to swoop in sometime ago, but it hadn't happened yet and so he was running towards the horn to blow it himself.

 

He turned around and ran back to the horse now missing a rider and swung on it before racing for the horn.

 


 

Jon coughed and blinked rapidly. His eyes stung from the smoke and his throat was raw. The smell of burning bodies filled the air. Those who weren't ash were burning and those who weren't burning had fled save for the ones who had been rounded up and brought before Daenerys. She had turned the tides in their favour and made a very quick work of the enemy.

 

The people in question had been forced to their knees awaiting their impending death. She got down from Drogon and walked towards them.

 

"You will tell me who put you up to this and I will spare your life if you join me."

 

Some of them refused, but those wisened by fear turned cloak. She gave the men who refused one last chance before Drogon turned them to ash. It wasn't the sight that disturbed him, but the memories it evoked.

 

They were there until the sun went and came up again. By this time, many of the masters in Meereen had been rounded up. Some of them already trembling and in tears at the look of indignation on their queen's face. They were too far away from Yunkai and Astapor, but the guilty ones who were found would meet the same fate that these men were about to face.

 

"Dracarys."

 

Drogon reared his head back and bathed them in fire. Fire and Blood.

 

He was taken back to that day; the day he killed her. He remembered how she'd walked away after giving her speech.

 

She looked at him just then. He wasn't sure if he saw a flash of uncertainty there on her face, but whatever it was he thought he saw disappeared before he could finish that thought.

 

Will you still want me when I rain fire on those who would harm me like I did before? she had asked him several moons ago. Now watching the men scream and reduced to ash in his very before, he could only say 'yes' to that question. Now and always.

 


 

She looked tired. They had just returned from outside the city walls where she'd burned every single offender that they had rooted out. It was a grueling task and he could see that it had taken its toll on her
Their procession had passed through wide brick streets, temples, granaries, hovels, palaces and baths. They were now passing through gardens.

 

They had been in Meereen for six moon turns now. It had its own strange beauty, but it was nothing like the snow covered pine trees and glacial waterfalls of the North. Nor was it anything like the laughter of two little boys who were amused by the smallest things. Gods, he missed them. He had taken away their chances at being born, but they'd been gifted new life. Life that they had shared with him when he'd all but lost his: becoming less man and more... wolf. He regarded their mother.

 

Someone bumped into his horse breaking him away from admiring her. He watched the crowd press in, wanting a closer look at Daenerys or the opportunity to touch her. From the corner of his eye, he saw the sun reflect on something shiny. He looked in that direction and peered through the bodies of those pressing in to be able to tell what he was seeing.

 

Realization dawned on him and he yelled, "Dany!"

 

She didn't hear him. She was too engrossed in attending to those who were cheering her. He dismounted quickly and pushed and shoved people away from him until he got to her and tugged her urgently. She looked puzzled, but he didn't have time to explain so he dragged her from her horse and she fell ungracefully. The soldiers quickly trained their weapons on him and those who didn't, pushed off the crowd that had now been driven into a frenzy. He wrapped his body around her tight to shield her away from the dagger that just pierced his side.

 

He could hear someone calling his name frantically, but he wasn't sure. He could see and he was aware of his surroundings, but he couldn't feel nor could he hear anything. Those were his last thoughts before the darkness came.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

"Poison?" she asked the healer.

 

"Yes, my queen. Venom to be more specific."

 

Someone had tried to murder her, but Jon had protected her and borne the menace in her stead.

 

"How long until it wears off?"

 

"It depends on the individual and the extent to which the poison spreads. It could be within the hour or it could be in a fortnight."

 

A shaky hand was pressed on his pillow just above his head. She gave in to the need to feel that he was still here with her and smoothed his hair gently, using her thumb to brush his widow's peak. The honourable Jon Snow lay on his bed unconscious.

 

Word had spread quickly that she was alive and that meant that she was now more susceptible to danger than before. It also meant that her children and her people were at a greater risk than they were before. Jon was one of those people. Maybe more than just one of her people. Her heart beat painfully at the thought of losing everything again. This time, the stakes were higher and a lot more personal than before.

 

She was so tired of fighting. She had wrapped herself so far away from the world in her illusion, but life was shaking her out of it. It was the second attempt on her life. She worried for the safety of her sons. Kinvara had assured her that she had averted anymore attempts on their lives, but what if...

 

Fear is torment. She reminded herself. It wouldn't do to worry. What she needed was a thorough scrubbing and a good sleep. She bent down to place a gentle kiss Jon's forehead and left him to heal.

 


 

It had been a week and Jon had only just come out of it. She didn't even know how apprehensive she was until she felt the relief that washed over her when word reached her of his recovery.

 

He had gone back to sleep almost immediately after. She stayed with him whenever she was done holding court or seeing to her people. She would be with him soon.

 

Her body was battered from fatigue. She yawned and went to pour herself a drink from the decanter.

 

"My queen."

 

She nearly dropped her cup.

 

"Don't do that!" she chastised.

 

Daario smiled joined her, "I haven't seen much of you lately."

 

She poured him a cup of what she was having and handed it to him. She took a sip from hers and closed her eyes as the sensation burned through her throat. She opened her eyes to see Daario looking like he wanted to take her on the floor right then.

 

"It's been a busy few weeks," she told him.

 

"With Jon Snow?"

 

She stared at him pointedly. She was too tired for this.

 

"For the second time, you're letting yourself fall in love with the man who killed you. He took advantage of the love you had for him before and murdered you." he intimated.

 

She frowned at what he said.

 

"Don't be a fool twice," he added and gulped down his drink before walked away from her.

 

It troubled her because what he said was true. What would happen when things got too difficult or she no longer had anything to offer Jon that was of any interest to him? Like the last time. Even as those thoughts swirled, there was that love for him deep within her that chipped away the need to be cautious around him the longer she spent with him. He'd almost died saving her. Maybe because he was duty bound to protect her, still...

 

What am I doing?

 

 


JON

 

He woke up groggily, trying to remember where he was. A sharp pain shot through his side as he moved making him wince. Memories raced through his mind and he remembered how he had gotten here. He lay back down on the soft bed with a plop. He was sick of being bedridden. He was thirsty too. He forced himself out of the bed to the pitcher and basin situated at the far end of the chambers, if one could call it that. I looked like a small hall. With plush pillows, long chairs and expensive ornaments that adorned the room.

 

One of the light, transparent curtains billowing in the wind brushed his arm gently as he bent down to wash his face. It was refreshing, but he needed a proper bath.

 

Feeling a bit stronger, he stretched gently, careful not to open the wound. His bandage looked clean and fresh. He narrowed his gaze when he caught a very faint whiff of Daenerys' scent. It lingered in the air like she had been here just before he awoke. It warmed him thinking that she might be worried for him.

 

Someone entered, interrupting his thoughts. It was a servant. He greeted the plump dark-skinned woman who had a kind face. She bowed in response and he made his request known.

 

In no time, he was soaking in a tub of hot water filled with a liquid that smelled like a fresh new day.

 


 

He felt the vigor return to his bones with each day. The healer had told him that he needed to be involved in only light activities for a little bit longer. It wasn't what he wanted to hear, but if he really wanted this to end quickly, he had to comply.

 

Seated on his bed with his back to the bed post, he flipped through the pages and passages of eastern lore and fables about ancient warfare. He looked up at the sound of Daenerys clearing her throat and smiled broadly at her. She was a sight for sore eyes. She looked happy to see him as well. His eyes followed her as she came to join him, sitting at the edge of the bed. He tried not to, but his eyes feasted on her. That gown. It was a pale blue gown that had strips of a darker shade of blue which held her breasts, but left her stomach, sides and back bare. He had to busy his hands because he felt like running them across the flat of her stomach. She was looking around so she didn't notice his struggle.

 

"You've been asleep for so long."

 

"It's the bed," he quipped. "Are you well?"

 

"I should be the one asking you that."

 

"I've fared better," he smiled.

 

She laughed and then her expression grew serious, "Thank you."

 

He shook his head. He'd been willing to die before for people who didn't know him. This was nothing.

 

"I just came in from treating with some members of the trade guild from the Disputed Lands."

 

He listened as she told him of how difficult they had made trade for the people of the Bay of Dragons by causing a high inflation. She told him of how the economies of the cities in this region were enriched by slavery and how her abolishment of the vile act was affecting her people.

 

"...I have a mind to line them up in front of Drogon and intimidate them until they reach a better compromise," she said in jest. Then she hesitated before saying, "I... Word has come from the Astapor and Yunkai that no one dares mention bringing back slavery so they don't get burned alive."

 

Everywhere she goes evil men die.

 

"Good," he replied firmly with a smile. "You told me that the Unsullied were trained here and that there are a lot of good fighters here who still fight in the pits."

 

"Yes?"

 

"Why don't they build an army to rival the Unsullied and then sell their services? Essos is a large continent and I imagine that people would be willing to do anything to get their hands on an army that's close enough in combat to the Unsullied."

 

She considered his words and said, "The Unsullied training was horrific, but that suggestion could work. I'll speak to Daario and the people in charge of the fighting pits. But there are no incentives for them."

 

"Glory. The glory that comes with tales of war. The glory of grand heroics. The glory of a good death. Soldiers love that."

 

"Do you?"

 

"Only when I finally get Daeron and Jaehaerys to sleep. Our fearsome twosome are more terrible than all the warriors in these lands."

 

She laughed at that and it was the sweetest thing he'd heard in a long time. They both recounted stories of some of the outrageous things their sons did, laughing and enjoying the memories of their children together. These conversations were so easy to have with her.

 

Their laughter grew into a comfortable silence until the silence got heavy. She was fidgeting with her hands and staring at everywhere but him. He tried to think of why she was suddenly flustered and then he caught himself staring at her.

 

"I'm sorry," he said seriously and then laughed. "I'm always asking for forgiveness, aren't I?"

 

She laughed softly.

 

He had a lot to say to her, but he didn't quite know where to start so he just got straight to the point;

 

"It took me a long time to admit some things to myself and an even longer time to accept them. In Winterfell--,"

 

"It's no bother." She sat up straighter and he could see her uneasiness as he tried to broach the subject so he rushed on;

 

"When Sam told me about who my true father and mother were, I didn't know how to handle that bit of information with all that was happening at the time. I was a bastard and then suddenly I wasn't. The love of my life was now my aunt and I had so many people that I wanted to appease who wanted different things from me."

 

She sat stiffly now, staring at him.

 

"Growing up, I'd always sought to belong with my family and people," he paused and treaded carefully. "It's... I... I knew I had your acceptance and that nothing would change that so in a bid to win theirs, I ignored... a lot of things."

 

He could see her composure begin to crack and it encouraged him to continue.

 

"I was tired, Dany. So tired. Of the fighting and the leadership and the failures and the losses so I was happy to follow after a long time. And so I followed. A little too well to the detriment of being what you needed. I didn't see what you were experiencing. Or maybe I didn't really want to face it so I wouldn't have to deal with it. I don't know."

 

He tried going on, but this next part was the hardest thing he'd ever had to discuss because of the weight of the shame that came with it so he got up and went to a table so he could pour himself a drink.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

With every word Jon spoke, she could feel her heart jerk, slow down and then lurch. When she'd come in to see him today, she never thought that she would be hearing any of this. She could see him struggle to put his words together and how whatever he was about to say made him pour himself some wine. So, she sat still and waited because she didn't know what else to do.

 

"I was so blind. You had the most reason to want me dead--,"

 

"--I never wanted you dead."

 

"--because I stood in the way of your claim, everyone told me as much; Varys, Tyrion, Sam, Sansa. And they were right about your reasons. But you know what you did? You saved my life when you could have left me for dead with no one the wiser. You loved me. You wanted to rule with me." His laughter was bitter, "I was a tool. A means to an end. Sansa used me to take back Winterfell, I think. Tyrion used me to take power from you and then...,"

 

He balled his fingers into a fist. She could feel all that pent up shame pouring out of him. It mirrored hers for the destruction she'd brought upon Kings Landing and the disappointment that all those who died for her would most as like feel if they saw her that day.

 

"You weren't--aren't--mad. You were in mourning. And you were goaded and pushed by two traitors. Three if I count myself."

 

"I shouldn't have burned the citizens of Kings Landing, Jon."

 

"No, you shouldn't have," he said facing her now. "But if anyone had bothered to really see how you were faring, then mayhaps--"

 

"We can't change what happened," she told him earnestly, full of remorse.

 

"No, but we can admit where it all went wrong and the part we played in it." He walked back to the bed and sat down to face her.

 

Her eyes roamed his face.

 

"My sense of duty and justice became skewed. I--I didn't really want to see my family for what they had become. I love them, but life had hardened and twisted them through no fault of theirs. Not one of them even thanked you for your sacrifice. The Dothraki, the Unsullied. Even Missandei and Rhaegal. If you'd gone straight to the Red Keep and paid me no heed, they would all still be here."

 

"And we'd be ambushed by the dead," she said wryly, trying to bring some levity to their discourse.

 

He averted his eyes. She too was finding it difficult to hold his gaze whenever their eyes met.

 

"I still dream about that day," she admitted. "Screams I ignored because I let my grief get the better of me. Everyone thought that I couldn't be better than my father. They were right."

 

Her hands shook and she folded them to keep them still. With her eyes downcast, she gave a small self-deprecating, breathy laugh and continued;

 

"He cast such a large shadow that I tried so hard to escape. No matter what I did, in Westeros, I was 'the Mad King's daughter' and I tried so hard to be different, Jon, but I wasn't. I'm not. Just a pretender who played at being Queen. No one ever mentions my mother or what she was like. The only memories I have left of her are this ring," she stretched out her finger to show him. "And Viserys selling her crown to feed us and hating me for it. Maybe she was worse than my father and that's why she's forgotten."

 

"You're not your father. Do you hear me? And your mother wasn't evil," he told her fiercely.

 

"I burned all the masters alive. Some of them were less guilty than the others."

 

"They were all going to sell people again. And it wasn't the first warning you gave them. It was a necessity to root them out and kill them."

 

"You don't think me mad for burning them alive?"

 

"If everyone who ever killed their enemies is mad, then we're all mad," he chuckled. "You've done so much good, Daenerys. More than anyone I know. Your mistakes don't erase them."

 

She could feel herself soften at his praise. "Nor do your mistakes erase your good deeds, Jon Snow."

 

He gave a small laugh to hide his agitation as he ran his fingers through his hair. "Some mistakes are unforgivable."

 

"Jon--"

 

"I killed you," he whispered. He couldn't look her in the eyes anymore. "I killed you because I thought it was the right thing to do and when it was done, everyone else tossed me aside."

 

Her breathing had sped up. As much as they had just said to each other, this wasn't something she wanted to dwell on, let alone talk about, but she could see his own condemnation eat at him so she kept still and bore her pain in silence, letting him wrestle his demons before her because he had to.

 

"I'm not... I'm not a good person, Dany," he took her hand and placed it on the crescent moon scar on his chest. "Do you remember me telling you how I was killed? That I was tricked and lured into a false sense of security by men I trusted? That's what I did to you."

 

She could feel the bile rise up to her throat. All those warnings that told her that he would betray her again were screaming in her head for her to flee and never look back. She blinked and tried to slow down her racing heart.

 

She could see that he was suffering. There was a part of her that wanted him to be this way forever, because when she thought of his betrayal, it broke her in a thousand different ways, but she didn't find pleasure in seeing him this way so she fisted the hand that he still held against his chest, bent her head to peer at him, following his eyes until they met hers and softly said;

 

"You're the best person I know, Jon Snow. You're good and honest and kind."

 

"How can you say that?" he asked hoarsely.

 

"Because it's true," she shrugged helplessly.

 

 


JON

 

He was spent. He didn't plan on saying any of this, but seeing her there laughing with him and thinking of how far she'd come pushed him to empty himself of his burden. He'd been carrying it for such a long time and he felt she needed to know his truth. He owed her that at the very least.

 

He knew this was hard for her. She was as transparent as crystal clear water at the moment and he could see how much this was affecting her. Maybe it was selfish of him to burden her with his woes, but she needed to know that he knew he was culpable in a lot of what transpired between them in Westeros. Even with all that, here she was absolving him of the worst of it.

 

They had both grown quiet, looking at their hands or anything else, but each other. The air was thick with unspoken words and intense complexities, but the one that shone through for him was his love for her. He loved her and he wanted to show her how much so he got up immediately and went to his things. He searched until he found a small cloth and brought it back

 

The bed dipped under his weight when he sat back down to unwrap the cloth. He took out a ring with a silver direwolf head and held it in front of her. It was a ring that she'd had made when they had begun to love each other openly. He'd "stolen" it when he held her lifeless body in the throne room as a token of their time together, but he'd soon kept it hidden because it was a souvenir of his indignity.

 

The look on her face... it was the same one she'd had when they'd stood across from each other in the war council planning to bring down Cersei and he defended her against Sansa: it was openness and guilelessness and hurt and love.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

She took the ring from him and squeezed his fingers. He held her hand when she wanted to withdraw it and she let him while she examined the ring with her free hand.

 

She'd made this to have something of him with her always. A monument and testament to the bond that they had built.

 

He was now playing idly with her fingers. She studied him as he focused on her free hand. She found that she wanted to comfort him. To protect him. That ineffable devotion she'd once felt for him was slinkng its way back in and it frightened her.

 

 


JON

 

He looked up at her when she withdrew her hand and stood up abruptly to leave.

 

"Stay," he said in a bid to keep her here longer. He reached for her and gently tugged at her until she sat back down. Reluctantly.

 

He knew her. It wasn't because he was the most discerning person, but because she didn't know how to hide her true self from him when she bared herself like this. He knew she was afraid to trust him. It was plain on her face. He didn't blame her. He'd hung the men and the boy who had killed him. Expecting anything more than she was willing to give was asking for the sun to become the moon. So, whatever she could offer, he would receive. He loved her and he always would. That was what mattered the most.

 

It had grown quiet between them, but not the uncomfortable kind. He took the ring from her and slid it back in its place. She withdrew her hand and he watched her clench it and then followed its movement with his eyes as it she placed it on her navel.

 

Fixated on that, he snaked his hand to hers and removed it so his could be on her bare stomach instead, his palm smoothing it from one side to the other in a gentle and slow caress. Her stomach quivered in response. He trailed upwards until his thumb was underneath one breast and he rubbed the spot before trailing downwards again. He moved his hand to the side of her waist and gave it a gentle squeeze. She held his wrist in response. He gave her a questioning glance and when her tongue darted out to wet her lips, he looked back down and kept on. Up and down her side, his palm went, gently brushing against the side of her breast when he trailed upwards. Her skin was hot and her breathing, shallow. He leaned into her and she met him for the kiss.

 

Their lips melded and the darkening room was filled with soft moans and whimpers as she opened her mouth for him to get a deeper taste of her. She sat up straighter so that she could fit her mouth to his better. The kiss wasn't hurried. As much as he wanted to give into the urgency he was feeling, this moment was about her so it was deep and long and lazy. He let her come up for air and bent his head to the side of her neck to trace its entire length his tongue. He angled her head to give him better access and brought his other hand up to her breast to mould it. He bit her neck and sucked on the spot, drawing out a long moan from her. Looking down, he slipped his had into the flimsy part of the gown that covered her breast and squeezed her bare, soft skin.

 

He brought his other hand down to peel off the gown from both shoulders, but she stopped him and brought his hand around to a string at the back of her neck. He pulled at it and the dress came loose, making it easier to pull the dress down which he did. She was bare-chested now. He dipped his head and suckled hard on one teat and rolling the other breast in the palm of his hand. He gently bit her nipple and brought his head up to hold her as she convulsed in release. She dropped her head to his shoulder to catch her breath. She's going to need it, he thought as he unclasped the dragon pin that held her hair together. It flowed freely now. He smoothed it and ran his hand down her back.

 

Leaning back, he pulled her with him, shaking his head for her not to worry about his bandaged side. Then he flipped her over and knelt above her body to pull her gown and smallclothes all the way down, taking a moment to admire her naked body. She had kicked off her sandals sometime during their kiss, he observed absently. She reached up to rub her hands against his bulge, but he stopped her. Any slight mishap, and he'd spill all over his breeches. It had been too long since the last time they were together like this and he wanted to savour her so he bent toward her and kissed her again. Then he kissed down her body, using his hands where his mouth hadn't reached. He moved his hand to her one breast and became still when he felt the scab underneath it.

 

He dropped his head to her chest, lust giving room for guilt. This was the second time that they'd been together this way in years and he'd been too heady with his desire to notice it until now. The scar she bore from when he'd stabbed her in the heart. He was still trying to grapple with everything when she brought his head up and pulled him towards her. She leaned up and kissed him

 

"Not now. Not here," she said when she broke away from the kiss. His forehead resting on hers.

 

She reached for his hand, guiding it down between her legs and rubbed his hand against the slit between her thighs. It didn't take him long to oblige. He edged back down and parted his way into her, pushing two fingers in and pulling them halfway out repeatedly while his thumb rubbed back and forth on her little pink sensitive swell. She writhed and moaned his name when he bent down his head to kiss her there.

 

He brought up his head to watch her arch until the tension slipped from her. Satisfied with what he saw, he got up, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and pulled off his breeches before joining her on the bed. He could still feel the little tremors of pleasure leave her body and when they had passed, she lay on her side. Exhausted.

 

He lay behind her and she lifted herself up a bit so he could slip his arm around her. He hugged her close with her back to his chest and held her that way until he felt her relax into sleep.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

She woke up to a hardness moving against the back of her thigh.

 

"Jon?"

 

"I didn't mean to wake you. I was about to get up, but..." His words trailed off in that thick burr.

 

She didn't see him, but if she were to guess, he was looking down at the evidence of his arousal.

 

She turned her head to glimpse at him and he was smiling at her. He reached for a kiss and she became pliable. It was a playful kiss at first until it wasn't. He lifted up his head and pushed one of her legs forward so that he could enter her from behind. She shut her eyes and reached back for his head.

 

His movements were fast as he reached down between her legs to tweak and twist. The other hand reaching around her to squeeze her breast. She could feel the roughness of his scars scraping against her back. It didn't take long for both of them to come undone.

 

Their breathing was ragged and the chambers smelled of their lovemaking.

 

He'd drained her of all her strength, she thought tiredly as she drifted off to sleep, but not before she heard whispers of love in between soft kisses on her shoulder.

Chapter Text

KINVARA

 

The boys had clung to her when they heard her say that she wanted to leave for the temple so she took them with her. They stood beside her while she performed her rituals and said some rites. They wouldn't even leave her side to sit with the others who came to listen to a Priest preach. She opted to leave the temple earlier than she'd intended and took them with her to a cave that she had found within the Mother of Mountains. Jaehaerys rode with Raemar and Daeron with her.

 

It had been a week since their mother and father had left for Meereen. It was the first time that they were separated from their mother so adjusting to their new way of life was more onerous than she had been prepared for. At least, they had stopped bursting into tears randomly. Now, they were usually quiet and never strayed far away from her.

 

She stopped her horse at the mouth of the cave and got off, carefully taking Daeron with her. Raemar did the same with Jaehaerys and lit a torch for her like she told him to. They walked inside the cave and, Daeron gripping her fingers with, Raemar and Jaehaerys following closely behind. When they got to where she wanted them to be, she said in a loud voice, "Daeron!" Her words echoed off the walls. “…Daeron… Daeron … Daeron…”

 

She looked down at the boy whose eyes had grown large. He pulled her hand and she called his name again. He let go of her hand and tried it. "Jae... Jae... Jae..."

 

She looked to where Raemar stood with Jaehaerys who was now scrambling so Raemar could drop him on the ground. "Daeron... Daeron... Daeron," his little voice said.

 

Daeron let go of her hand and looked up at her with a grin. She smiled back at him. Delighted, they both went on to call out and say as many things as they could. She knew that if Daeron enjoyed himself, then Jaehaerys was wont do so as well. Just then, Jaehaerys ran to her side and asked, "Kostagon jī se rhaenagon īlva raqiros?"

 

She let out a laugh at the innocence of the question. She didn't know how to explain an echo to one so young and she didn't have it in her to tell him that they couldn't go and meet with his "friend" because there was no friend so instead, she said, "Later."

 

Satisfied, he ran off to meet Daeron.

 


 

That night, she smiled at them as they slept. They wouldn't sleep anywhere else, but on their mother's bed. She thought of Daenerys. She was confident in the young Queen's victory. She just hoped it would be soon so that she could return back to them.

 


 

"What are they doing up there?" she asked Tormund curtly, looking worriedly at Daeron who was trying to place his foot on a higher branch. "Where is Raemar?"

 

"Seeing how high they can climb. Raemar went to take a shit or a piss or eat. The man deserves a few moments alone, doesn't he?"

 

"Are you trying to kill them? On their fourth name day?"

 

He looked offended by that. "Why would I do that? They're boys who have a lot of excitement in them. It won't hurt them to climb a tree. When I was a boy of ten, I killed a gia--"

 

"Yes, I know. The whole settlement knows that you did that and then drank milk from the giant's wife's teats--"

 

"Aye, I did" Tormund said looking pleased with himself.

 

"--but these boys are less than half the age you were when you think you drank--"

 

"--I don't think, I know I was nursed by a giant's wife. I was there."

 

"Daeron! Jaehaerys! Come down now," she demanded.

 

The twins looked down and giggled. Daeron shook his head and bounced on a branch. Her hand could reach his foot if she stood on her toes, but she knew the boy would only seek to climb higher just so he could evade her.

 

"I can't find Ghost," she lied to the boys. "I need you to help me look for the beast."

 

"Ghost is right over th--"

 

She cut Tormund off with a look and added, "The first person to help me find Ghost will get two gifts from me." She didn't tell them that that was what they were already getting for their nameday from her. She watched as Jaehaerys got thoughtful and then try to come down after he considered her offer. Tormund helped him and pointed to where Ghost was. Jaehaerys took off. Refusing to be left behind, Daeron tried to come down on his own, but slipped one foot off a branch with a cry of dismay. Ignoring the quickening of her heart, she acted quickly and with Tormund's aid, they were able to bring him down without much ado. He too ran off to Ghost.

 

She gave Tormund a warning look and left. As she walked away, she smirked at how easily they were fooled and went in to continue preparing for their nameday celebration.

 


 

"Jaehaerys, just because Daeron is better at archery doesn't mean that he's better than you. You're both equally good. Just at different things," Kinvara said gently as she listened to the little boy's plight.

 

"Skorkydoso gaomagon ao gīmigon?" he asked seriously.

 

"How do I know? Well, for one, I doubt there is anyone who is good at everything, let alone a better person than others because he or she is better than everyone else at everything."

 

Daeron brought his plate to where they were, nearly dropping it as he said, "Mama iksis."

 

She smiled at him. It was like almost any child to think that their mother was perfect at everything.

 

"Skori kessa ziry māzigon lenton?" Jaehaerys asked her and she sighed inwardly. The questions were infrequent in recent times, but it didn't mean they missed their mother any less. Daenerys had been gone for five moon turns and Kinvara didn't know when she would return so she couldn't answer that question specifically.

 

"Zolka Vala tolī," Daeron added so as not to leave his father out.

 

"Daor Zolka Vala. Papa," Jaehaerys corrected.

 

She smiled at that. Jon hadn't been with them as long as their mother had, but he had made his mark in their lives just as Daario had, but unlike Daario of whom they had little to remember him by, Ghost being with them and Tormund's constant reminders definitely helped keep Jon alive in their memories.

 

"They will be back after they defeat the bad men," she promised.

 

"Kesan ērinagon se quba vali!" Daeron proclaimed, quickly putting down his plate and running to get his small bow which he proceeded to use in showing them how he would shoot down his enemies with his invisible arrows.

 

Jaehaerys went off to get a wooden sword and thus, a "battle" for the ages unfolded before her eyes. She wanted to tell them to finish their supper, but far be it from her interrupt her little warriors. Perhaps one day, tales will be told about them just like they were told of their mother and father.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

EDMURE TULLY

 

He awoke to the sound of a loud banging on his door and the muffled, panicked voice of Utherydes Wayn calling his name urgently. Roslin was awake as well. Her beautiful heart shaped face made even rounder by the second child she was carrying in her belly.

 

He quickly rushed out of his bed to the door and unlatched it. "What is it, Utherydes?"

 

"We're under attack, my lord," he said, panting. "My lady," he greeted.

 

"By whom?!"

 

"The Reach."

 

Since the day that Walder Frey had murdered his family, being the Lord Paramount of the Riverlands had become strife after strife. He'd been imprisoned and then forced to betray his uncle, the Blackfish. When he'd heard that the Dragon Queen had come, he had been willing to bend the knee if it ever came to it; he'd called his banners and had told them to do the needful. Then she died and his nephew became king, which he thought would be greatly advantageous to him for once. Now, they were under attack. For what, he didn't know.

 

"Brynden?" Roslin asked in fear.

 

"The boy sleeps, but Maester Vyman is on his way to get him up," Utherydes replied as regarding their son.

 

Edmure looked out the window and could see the night alight with torches of fire and hear the beginnings of the sounds of battle. His heart raced in trepidation as he remembered the horrors of being a captive.

 

"Th-The moat should stall them until--"

 

"I'm afraid not, my lord. They're on the castle battlements as we speak. Ser Desmond Grell can only do so much and Ser Robin Ryger has fallen," the man said, speaking of the master-at-arms and the captain of the Tully guard respectively.

 

Hushed voices and the sound of running feet soon met them. He felt a short-lived relief at the sight of his son. He mouthed his thanks to the maester.

 

"Gather as many of the household as you can in the sept. We will... we will--"

 

"--make for Raventree hall. Lord Tytos Blackwood will welcome you into his castle. The Blackwoods have always been loyal and he harbours a grudge against the Lannisters who gave Lord Bronn the Reach."

 

Edmure looked at him thankfully.
Fear had all but driven his wits from him. At the man's word, they wasted no time springing into action.

 

 


BRONN

 

Belyros Paenen was an impressive man. A native of Norvos; tall, broad-shouldered, short-cut hair and his beard dyed blood red. He had a golden tooth which he liked to suck when he was contemplating things. Like right now. They hadn't even fully overtaken the castle of Riverrun and the man was already negotiating for more pay. He was just as greedy and as cutthroat as any sellsword. Moreso even, else he wouldn't be the captain of the company that Bronn had hired.

 

"We've stormed the castle walls, my lord. In no time, we will be in the keep. One of my spies has reported back to me that he's seen a mass of people headed to the Great Hall. They're trying to escape."

 

My spies.

 

He never failed to remind Bronn whose men they really were. Not that Bronn could blame him. He would have done the same. He grinned at the man and turned his attention to the sandstone walls of the castle which rose sheer from the water. It was an impressive castle. Now I have two castles, he thought cheekily.

 

Riverrun's keep was located inside the castle walls. He'd heard Lord Tully boast that properly garrisoned, Riverrun could hold supplies for men and horses for as long as two years and it could garrison two hundred men. Good.

 

He spurred his mount forward and rode to the castle doors where he could see the broken bodies of
guardsmen adorned with fish-crest helms. Waiting impatiently for the castle doors to be opened, he calculated his next moves. He couldn't let Lord Edmure escape.

 

 


EDMURE TULLY

 

They had been ambushed in the sept and the soldiers that assailed them left many dead bodies in their wake. He led them through the water stairs from the lower bailey up to the castle. His wife had fallen on her belly and was now bleeding from her woman parts, but he dragged her along. It saddened him that he might have lost this child, but better the issue than her. It had taken him years to be able to look at her without hatred and resentment for what her family had done to his, but she had remained steadfast and in defiance of her lord father. A truce had come to be when word of all the male living members had mysteriously died. They had bonded in a mutual and nilhilistic shared experience of slaughtered family members and, to this day, still tried being man and wife in truth once more.

 

Edmure led the members of his household to the Wheel Tower.
The Tumblestone on the Wheel Tower led to the Water Gate, a wide arch and a heavy iron portcullis, red with rust in its lower half. Many boats were tied up within the Water Gate, secured to iron rings in the walls.

 

He hauled his son into one of the boats and was of a mind to get in after his family and sail away, but he was still doing what he could to redeem himself in the eyes of his people. Many still looked at him with scorn because he had allowed the Lannisters seize the castle and kill the Blackfish all those years ago. They didn't understand that his son, their future lord, had been threatened by the kingslayer.

 

He waited as the boats were being filled up to capacity.

 

"Keep moving!" he yelled and pushed forward, an old woman who was moving too slowly.

 

He felt a sharp sting on his shoulder as he lurched forward from the force of the arrow that had just hit him. He looked back and saw their enemies were racing towards them. He ordered that the boats start leaving and those who were unfortunate to not climb in were scrambling and shielding themselves for dear life. In the rush, some boats capsized. He felt his heart speed up even more when he saw his wife try to stay afloat. Determined, he dived into the water and swam with all the strength that he could muster. It was difficult. Luckily, one of his men saw her and lifted her out of the water. He felt the water splash around him as arrows rained in. Cries of pain and screams of despair rising into the night. He tried to keep swimming, but alas, he was too weak. This is how I die, he thought before his vision turned completely dark.

 

 


BRONN

 

He sauntered around the triangular keep while his... while the sellswords ripped the banners from the walls and flew his own banners of a flaming arrow bendwise against a grey background. He'd chosen that years ago one night in a tavern. His first duty as the new Lord of Riverrun was to take into account all the wealth that was in the castle. It wasn't as much as he had expected, but it would do for now.

 

Observing the piles of dead bodies as he walked past, he heard someone say that Lord Edmure was last seen sinking into the moat. His body was yet to be found. That won't do. "I don't care if we have to dry up that fucking moat, find his body. If he's still alive, some people might try to rally behind him and we don't want that."

 

Meanwhile his--the soldiers were plundering the armory of keep. Let them. He thought with a smile. He would give them what he could to win over their "loyalty" from Belyros Paenen. The loyalty of a sellsword was, after all, a fickle thing.

 

The Riverlands had been really weakened from all the wars in the past. Its people were tired. Though some minor lords might rise up against him, he already had a plan for that. He'd saved a portion of the realm from the invasion of the Dothraki and that battle had cost him valuable fighters... and gold. But a tourney had been held in his honour to celebrate his victory and chivalry. He chuckled at that. There was nothing chivalrous about why he helped the Baratheon bastard. More land meant more wealth and more wealth meant more power. There was bound to be some opposition, but he already had a plan in place.

 

For now, he would enjoy his victory.

 

 


MAGGO

 

It had been a long and arduous journey, but they were nearing their home at at last. Their procession of budding young men, women and children was bustling with excitement. Someone was singing a song and others joined in. Children and dogs running in between the horses, scaring some goats and chickens. He stretched his hand out to graze the tall grasses that seemed to bow at their return. It was joyful.

 

They would go to the Womb of the World, their sacred lake, and give thanks to the Great Stallion before setting up camp. Maybe he and some of the other young men would hunt some hrakkar. He tried to remember any spots where the white lions lay.

 

He breathed in the air. The sky had begun to brighten, bringing with it sweet sounds of the morning. It had been so long. The procession into Vaes Dothrak had been slow and he was anxious to settle down. They had treaded the hills of Norvos and crossed the bridges that the Valyrians of old had built over the Rhoyne and its tributaries. Each step closer to their land.

 

When the looming bronze horses came into sight, he couldn't help the grin that spread across his face. It was sharply interrupted by a small host of people wearing red and some others with dark skin and some with light skin coming in the opposite direction.

 

Maybe they're just passing through, he thought warily.

 

They made their way further into their abandoned city and when they got close to the lake, they saw more people stream in and out of a particular location. Maggo was still trying to make sense of it when they came across a well hidden... town? Vrozzi rode close to him and exchanged looks with him. She gave him and some of the other warriors orders to look into the matter. She raised her hand and halted the rest of the procession from going any further.

 

Maggo rode cautiously into the new town and surveyed the land. The first thing he noticed was that it had a lot of trees and flowers. The main roads were cobbled with stone and there were squat buildings made of stone or wood lining either side of the roads. He rode further and ignored the suspicious stares of the people walking down the streets. He passed by large stone building filled with people who were coming in and out of it. A lot of red cloaks. Red cloaks... The Red Woman! He remembered Vrozzi telling him about a strange woman who had come to see the Dragon Queen. What were they doing here?

 

The wind swayed his braid gently from side to side. He tightened the reigns on his mount, bringing it to a stop when some men walked in front of them silently. They were speaking a language that he did not understand. He turned to the other men with him and ordered them to stay their weapons. These other people outnumbered them and if they attacked, it wouldn't end well for him and his own men. Still thinking of what to do, a man who had to be Westerosi walked up to them. He had flaming hair on his head and on his face. What was he doing here? Maggo was still pondering on all these things when one of the men beside him told him that they had fought together against the dead.

 

Vrozzi had to come here. She understood a bit of the Common Tongue, something she had learned during her time working under Missandei. His man tried to communicate with the Westerosi man, but the other man had no recognition for his man. So Maggo said, "Khaleesi... Dragon," and hit his chest.

 

This Westerosi considered him and said something to the others. He spoke to Maggo, but Maggo had no words for him since he didn't understand what was being said to him.

 

"Jadat ma anna," he told the man. Come with me.

 

Maggo held up his hands and dropped his weapons, telling his men to do the same. The other men--they had to be warriors--the other warriors confiscated their weapons and motioned for all of them to dismount their horses. It angered Maggo, but with little resistance, he complied. He touched the Westerosi man's shoulder and gestured for the man to follow him.

 

 


TORMUND

 

"What in fuck is he saying?! Someone go get Liram."

 

The lad leading them looked to be no more than eight and ten. He was dressed as the horse warriors that had followed Daenerys and fought for her during the Long Night, the Dothraki. He had been on his way to a brothel when he saw a commotion. Some guards of the town had stopped the intruders and when Tormund came on the scene, one of the intruders was trying to talk to him like he knew him, but Tormund didn't recognize the man and he couldn't understand what the man was saying. No one could. Valyrian and a little Common Tongue were what the people here conversed with.

 

"Khaleesi. Dragon."

 

Tormund looked at the lad again. He was motioning for Tormund to come with him when a young woman with short black hair rode towards them. She was flanked by two other riders who were heavily armed. The lad who made mention of dragons was speaking to her in their harsh tongue and when they were done, she turned to Tormund and said, "We, Daenerys people. We fight with you in Winterfell. Now we come home."

 

So this was their home. He knew little of them, just that they had been here before and then had migrated with the Jon's queen to Westeros. They were also said to be a nomadic people. Tormund understood what it was like to be displaced from one's home. Jon and Daenerys had left five moons ago and they were yet to return. If the Dragon Queen were here, she would have welcomed them with open arms. They were her people after all. But she wasn't here and there was a whole new group of people here who had built a life here so they had find a way to make something work.

 

"The Dothraki?" Liram asked walking up beside him.

 

"Aye. They've returned home."

 

"You know I don't speak their tongue."

 

"How would I know? Where's the Red Witch?"

 

"Which of them?" Liram asked slyly.

 

Tormund scowled at Liram and the man quickly went to speak with some of the people around to make it known to Kinvara what was happening.

 

"My name... Vrozzi."

 

"Tormund."

 

By the time the Red Witch came a small crowd had gathered. Not long after, some of the elders joined them. He watched as they deliberated, observing how the young lad who had first approached them bristle when his sister interpreted the latest suggestion. The others didn't want them in their town. A lot of them were freed slaves and some of them had been captured and sold by the Dothraki. The girl with the short hair was trying to explain that most of those who had returned were but children or not even born at all when all of that had happened and they wanted peace and that they had later fought on the side of the slaves in Meereen, but the settlers wouldn't hear any of it.

 

The lad was exclaiming angrily and the others were reaching for their weapons. The people of the town were closing in on them, ready to attack. The Dothraki girl looked bewildered. Tormund placed one hand on the hilt of his dagger and the other on the hilt of his sword, watching closely for any misstep. Kinvara stood there calmly and signaled for her men to quell the potential furore.

 

"We all serve the Dragon Queen and some of us fought against our common enemy," she said. Then she spoke in Valyrian to the people and the excitement quieted down a bit. The girl, Vrozzi, nodded but the look on her face was guarded.

 

"The Lord of Light has brought you here, girl. If you mean no harm, stretch forth your hand."

 

"Why? We serve our Khaleesi. She die. Now we come home. To our land."

 

Tormund cut in, "If the girl is true, then there is an entire land here that is unoccupied." Facing the girl, he said, "Your queen's not dead, but she's not with us."

 

The girl looked at him with pity, "Yes, she go to the nightlands to be with great khal."

 

"He means that she's alive. Here. With us," Kinvara said.

 

Though she tried to hide it, the Dothraki girl looked at him and Kinvara like they were not right in the head. It didn't matter. If they didn't sort this out, it would cause problems in the future. He'd seen things similar to this with the warring tribes of the Free Folk.

 

"You're welcome to our town, but if I were you, I would find somewhere else to make camp. The people aren't happy to see you here." Having said that, he looked at Kinvara and the rest of the elders and walked out of there. He had boys to train. The twins were of an age where they old enough to shoot arrows according to their mother. Still too young, Tormund thought, but Jon had told him that Daenerys wanted them to start practicing after their fourth name day. They were well past that. Daeron had a good eye to be a marksman, but Jaehaerys wasn't particularly keen on it. He was a babe still so Tormund didn't blame him. By the time Tormund was done overseeing him, he would be the better. Or at the very least, he would not be shit.

 

 


JON

 

Since the evening that they had spoken with each other honestly, things were different between them. He knew that the trust between them was broken, but there were glimpses of it here and there. Sometimes, it felt almost like the times that they had gotten to know each other before they gone to Winterfell. It was more than he could have asked for.

 

"This wasn't here before," she noted, tracing the long scar on his arm.

 

"No," he smiled, looking at her finger draw a line on his arm.

 

She leaned forward and kissed it. Like she used to do to the scars on his chest when they had just started sharing a bed. She looked up at him and asked, "What happened?"

 

"I got into a lot of fights," he replied, shifting the hair that had fallen over one eye away from her face.

 

"Hmm."

 

"With the Free Folk. I didn't know what else to do with myself after..."

 

Her hand stilled on his arm and she looked down. Despite all that they had said to each other the other day, this subject still made them both pensive so he changed it to something lighter;

 

"I wonder what Daeron and Jaehaerys are up to now."

 

She smiled at that, "Trying to convince Kinvara to let them do something that they're not supposed to do."

 

He chuckled. "How much longer until we return?" Until we return home? But he didn't ask her that because though he now knew that home was with her, he wasn't sure that she thought the same of him.

 

"In a fortnight, thank the gods."

 

"Aye."

 

They stayed that way, her head on his chest and his hand smoothing her hair, until she drifted off to sleep. These days, she slept earlier than he did.

 

"I love you," he said with his mouth pressed to her hair.

 

It was the only time that he deemed it right to tell it to her because then he wouldn't see the doubt in her eyes or feel her become distant as a way to shield herself from what she thought was inevitable. He understood. He'd been the one to forsake her in the past and sometimes, some things got broken to the point where they couldn't ever be mended, but maybe he was a fool for hoping against hope.

 

 


VROZZI

 

"Why should we be the ones to leave? It's our city. Our lake. Our way of life!" Maggo demanded in their tongue. The day had grown dark, but she could see how angry her brother was.

 

The others around murmured in agreement. A lot of them, like him, were clearly rankled. She and a few others tried to tread lightly. He was right and if they wanted, they could go to war, but too many people would die for nothing and like the pink man said, Vaes Dothrak was a city that was larger than most, if sparsely populated. The main reason why she hadn't suggested that they move far away was because of the lake. It was the primary source of water closest to them. There were shallow rivers that flowed through the Dothraki sea, but those that hadn't run dry, were too far away or completely hidden between the tall grasses.

 

She scratched the back of her head and tried not to think of how hungry she was.

 

She had been a young girl when Daenerys had walked out of the fire that day. It was nothing like she had ever seen. All the khalasars had bowed to her. Before her father had died in battle against the half man's people, he had told her of how the Khaleesi had led them on a horse and then disappeared into a mountain and come back on a dragon. That was the day that she made all the men who rode with her her bloodriders. Vrozzi still wished that she had been there to see it with her own eyes. The women and children had been left behind to join them outside the walls of Meereen after the battle against the masters had been won. Her father said that that day, the Dothraki had been reborn. There were a few who thought that those who hadn't earned their braids shouldn't have same honour as those with braids nearing their waists, but none could dare speak up for fear of offending their new Khal... Khaleesi. She had three dragons, two armies and the world at her feet. No one could meet up to her in Vrozzi's eyes. Those feats were nigh godly, but it was the littler things that had captivated her more. The stories she had heard. Like her first time with the Dothraki or the time that they had almost died in Qarth or the time that she had escaped the Sons of the Harpy. Those times... those adversities and how she had triumphed were the things that spoke of the woman's strength. In those times, her titles and military might hadn't saved her. It was her mettle that had pulled her through. It's the Dothraki in her. Khal Drogo's strength, her father had always claimed with pride. He had especially loved to point out that all those times that her strength had truly been tested, it always had something to do with the Dothraki. She got dragons because the Dothraki were involved. She killed and escaped the blue wizards of Qarth because they had slain her Dothraki loyalists. She united all the khalasars and refound her dragon because of the Dothraki. If she were here, what would she do in the face of this trouble?

 

The Westerosi man and the Red Woman had said that she was still with them. In a way, Vrozzi agreed, her name and legacy were a part of their peoples. But she was riding with Khal Drogo now in the nightlands. She wouldn't be able to fly until her great black beast joined her. The stars in the sky were horses made of fire, and in the starry sky was a great herd of fiery horses racing across the sky ridden by the deceased Dothraki. The more fiercely a person burned in life, the brighter their star in death. No one had burned hotter and more brightly than Daenerys Targaryen. She looked up as her people continued to cry foul. No stars. Would that there were, she would have asked their Khaleesi for guidance.

 


 

They had moved into buildings that their people had abandoned when the Dragon Queen had taken them all away. The Dothraki flew every Targaryen banner they had brought with them on all the posts that they could find until they ran out of banners. In Vaes Dothrak, all buildings were made by the slaves serving there at the time. Since the slaves all originated from different lands, they were built after the fashion of their own people. As a result, Vaes Dothrak consisted of many different types of buildings, including carved stone pavilions, manses of woven grass as large as castles, rickety wooden towers, stepped pyramids faced with marble, and log halls open to the sky.

 

Being back felt like trying to fit into old garments; it felt familiar, but also strange. That wasn't the worst of it. The Dothraki and the freed slaves were at odds with one another and the little raids on each settlement were becoming more serious attacks. The Dothraki who had returned home had come back because they upheld the Dragon Queen's beliefs. Many of them had been children or not quite men and women grown when she had come out of the fire so they were a lot more idealistic than the older ones. It was easy to hold onto that idealism when the one who taught it to you was there to show you how to go about it, but now that she was gone, in addition to things not going the way that they thought it would, there was a growing bitterness and cynicism amongst her people.

 

It was nigh a sacred rule that they would never enslave others. But nobody ever said anything about not taking back what was theirs. The other people from the Cannibal Village, for so it was now called, had grown farms to feed their people, but those farms thrived because of the sacred lake of the Dothraki and so whenever they needed sustenance, they just took. But unlike the Lhazareen, these new people had more fight in them and whenever things were "stolen" from them, they came to where the Dothraki had begun to rebuild their lives and assualted them. It had started with little maraudings, but soon became plundering, pillaging and incursions. There were even rumours of rape. Now some roads weren't safe to travel alone. If these things did not cease, some people might end up dead.

 

Someone nugded her and passed her a bowl of sweetgrass stew. She raised the bowl to her mouth and closed her eyes as she relished the thick broth.

 

She wished her mother were here. She would know what to say. She and the other leaders who were her mother's peers had done their best to treat with the Red Woman and her people, but hate wasn't something tactile. It wasn't something that one could control in another. And it wasn't just the men and women grown who were in contention; the grudges had trickled down to the children as well.

 

She drank what was left of her soup and dropped the bowl on the ground.

 

She'd gotten wind of Maggo's plans with some of the other young men and she'd had to talk him out of it. Violence was not the way in this situation unless absolutely necessary. Regardless, she wouldn't stop them from taking when they needed. They had to survive somehow and these people wouldn't have dared to come here if her people had never left their motherland in the first place. She would try to foster peace without erasing who they were. It was the least that she could do.

 

 


TORMUND

 

"For fuck's sake," Tormund mumbled under his breath and cast an amused look at the sniggering twins. He had half a mind to box their ears, the little shits.

 

Jon and his Dragon Queen had been gone for nigh a year now and so it had been left to those that they trusted to look after the boys. In that time, they had run amok. Their mother had declared that everyone fit enough to train should do so, her boys as well because "Dothraki boys learn how to ride and shoot arrows after their fourth name day."

 

Naturally, other children close to their age saw them and wanted to be "warlords" too and now he was faced with the task of seeing to it that no one left with a blind eye at the end of the day. He could understand basic things in Valyrian. Enough to know that Jaehaerys was telling Daeron that they should pack some horse shit to pelt some Dothraki children with in the farm. Children weren't as dumb as people believed them to be; they knew that trouble was brewing between the Dothraki and the townsfolk. They saw and heard everything and so the animosity had been passed onto them as well. Daeron was a natural leader like his father. Whatever he did, the other little ones followed. He was also a bold fucker who would never back down from a fight nor would he ever stand to see anyone make his friends cry. But Jaehaerys, gentle Jaehaerys... that was who all the ideas that got them into trouble came from. This particular idea he was sharing with his brother was so they could avenge a friend who had been pushed into muddy waters at the farm when said friend had been helping her mother during the last "Dothraki raid." It hadn't really been a raid. Some Dothraki children always snuck in to cause trouble and today was no different. Most of the children on the training ground were going to the farm because of that and the twins were just as eager.

 

Tormund chuckled to himself. The twins whispered to each other in Valyrian because they didn't know that much of what they said, he understood.

 

"You'll be going home to sup as soon as you're done."

 

"We want to help on the farm. Kinvara won't be home until she's done at the temple and when we're alone, we miss mama," Jaehaerys said sweetly, looking so crestfallen at the mention of his mother. He had a thick Valyrian accent when he spoke in the Common Tongue. Daeron nodded in agreement, eyes downcast.

 

A mummer's farce. Certainly, there were days where they missed their father and mother, but this was posturing. He caught Daeron's little smirk and was about to refuse their request when someone came running up to him with word of the crops being on fire. He cast a quick glance at Raemar who nodded, an assurance that he would keep an eye on the boys, and ran after the messenger.

 


 

Some Dothraki had set a portion of the farm on fire and the townsfolk had retaliated by attacking the Dothraki city. The Dothraki outnumbered their attackers at least three to one so though the rampage had been fierce, it had been short-lived and had it not been for the girl, Vrozzi, there would be more than a few dead people. Instead, they had some people on both sides beaten within inches of their lives and destroyed buildings and properties. It would have gotten a lot worse without the intervention of those who led either group. The peace that they had come to was unreliable and any mistake could undo it.

 

He grunted in pain as he flexed his fingers. His hands were raw with bruises from all those blows that he had exchanged with some other fuckers. He liked Essos and the life that he had seen here, but it still wasn't home. There was absolutely nothing like the freedom of the True North. It was life as life was meant to be. He had come here for Jon; to see that his friend had a measure of the peace that was stolen from him. He hadn't planned on being here this long. Three years. That's how long he had been away from home. He longed for the snowy mountain caps and the biting cold winds that came from there. Jon was finding himself again which was a good thing. He wondered about the wars in Meereen and how his Little Crow fared. They had been gone for longer than he anticipated. When worry tried to steal its way in, he shook it off and reminded himself that Jon had fought and survived death itself. He would come back.

 

He turned his thoughts back to his home. When Jon and his queen got back, mayhaps, Tormund would start preparing for when he would return to Westeros.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

When they had arrived earlier, the last thing that she thought she would hear was that the Dothraki had returned home. It was barely dawn and they were now in her home. Kinvara and some of the guards were keeping her abreast. It was too much information at once; the Dothraki had returned and then there were endless disputes between them and the town's people. There had even been a riot with several lives almost lost. A portion of the farm had been set on fire as well.

 

She had to go to the Dothraki and show herself. But they hadn't merely followed Daenerys, the woman. They had followed Daenerys Targaryen. The conqueror who had set alight her enemies and the path she led them on with Fire and Blood. The part of her that she thought she had lain to rest forever upon resurrection. Those words had been her guide and ultimately, her destruction. She feared what they would make her become should she every fully accept them again.

 

She closed her eyes for a moment to ward off the sinking feeling in her belly. She didn't want to face them. It was easier in Meereen because her people there hadn't witnessed everything fall apart. The Dothraki, however, she'd taken them away from what they knew, made promises that she didn't fulfill, brought them to Westeros to die and those who survived, she couldn't protect or lead. Now, they were back and fighting for what, in some ways, was theirs and the worst of it was that while they had been away, lost just like she had been, she had regained some of herself on their land. The land that, some times, she felt she didn't have any right to.

 

She opened her eyes to see Jon's gaze on her. He gave her a small reassuring smile. This is happening because of him. But she pushed that thought away. She had her fears when it came to him and whenever there was a hitch, no matter how little it was, that voice--that doubt--became louder. She was the one who failed her people. Not Jon. It's because he killed y--

 

"Thank you all. I'll ride on Drogon and meet with them alone," she said in an attempt to suppress those unwanted thoughts. Now wasn't the time for uncertainties. She had to face the Dothraki one way or another.

 

When the meeting was over, she walked to Kinvara who smiled and stopped Daenerys from thanking her for taking care of the twins in her absence. She was happy to see the woman. And grateful too.

 

Kinvara told her where the twins were and after she left, Daenerys went straight to her bedchamber and saw her sons fast asleep on her bed. Her heart filled with love anew at the sight of their small bodies strewn across her bed. She opened the door at the knock and saw Jon standing on the other side of it. She let him in. Refusing to consider, in depth, what it meant that all four of them were in her chambers together.

 

"They've grown bigger," he whispered with a smile in his voice.

 

"Yes," she marveled as well.

 

She raised her nose to sniff the air. Ghost had been in here. She sat on the bed and unable to resist, she gently shook them awake. Daeron was like a log of wood. Jaehaerys sat up abruptly with his silver hair disheveled from sleep and nodded off. She tried again, this time a little more forcefully and he rubbed his eyes;

 

"Mama? MAMA!" he scrambled into her arms and cried. She held his head to her shoulder saying sweet things to him, looking over at Jon who had now woken up a disgruntled Daeron. His eyes widened at seeing his father and he pounced on Jon. It was all a tangle of limbs, arms and legs, when this twin had to go to his father and that twin had to come to her. This was one of the chiefest of reasons why she had abandoned thoughts of Westeros with no plans to ever go back. She breathed in Daeron's clean scent and settled down in the bed with him, Jon doing the same with Jaehaerys. She would meet with the Dothraki, but in the intervening period, she would draw strength from the ones here with her.

 

 


MAGGO

 

He saw a large shadow engulf the village and looked up to see the great black beast flying very low to the ground. It's wings causing the black and red Targaryen banners to flap with furry. Maggo knew fear at that moment. The rest of the Dothraki were running and flailing wildly, looking for where to hide.

 

When they'd first come back, they had seen, at the back of the Mother of Mountains, a full land mass of blackened grass and charred bones that had been gnawed on by what could only have been really powerful fangs. It had given him hope that they did the right thing by returning home. His sister said as much; if their Khaleesi's mount thought of Vaes Dothrak as home, then that is where home was, for the beast was a blessing from the Great Stallion to them. It didn't look like a blessing now.

 

The ground trembled when the dragon landed and he froze. A woman, small of stature with a crown of flowing silver hair climbed down and approached the people who had now fallen silent. His knees grew weak because it couldn't possibly be.

 

Afraid, he stepped out slowly said questioningly, "Khaleesi?"

 

Then he and all the others fell on his knees and bowed reverently.

 


 

There was a new hope and life that had washed over all her people present. The people had gathered around their Khaleesi to get a glimpse of her or touch her. Some of the little ones who had either been too young to remember when she'd left them or hadn't been born at all stared curiously at the woman with pale hair. She had come out unburnt from the fire and now she was back. It was all too confusing to understand, but Maggo hadn't known this fullness of joy in so long. If all their tribulations had led them here, then every moment of the pain they had faced was worth it.

 

 


VROZZI

 

They had feasted in honour of her return; food, music, laughter, and people making love in the open under the stars. All of that had died down as the night grew longer. There were still some people too drunk from fermented mare's milk and pepper beer laughing too loudly and disturbing their otherwise quiet encampment.

 

Try as she might, Vrozzi couldn't ignore some things that the others were all too happy to not take note of. When they had first returned, the man called Tormund and the Red Woman had said that their Khaleesi wasn't dead. She had thought it to be some strange belief that the dead never died, but as time would have it, the Dragon Queen had shown herself today. Vrozzi had been drunk with joy, but when all the merriment had begun to settle, she wondered why the Khaleesi hadn't come back for her people and had let them go and remain astray all this time. She turned to look at the stars, rubbing the old dragonpin that Missandei had given her between her fingers and willing herself to trust in their leader.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

They had been at this for far longer than she would have liked, but both sides had a lot of rave about the indignities committed against them and some were even bold enough to demand or suggest the appropriate justice that she should meet the other side. Despite not understanding what the people from the other group was saying, each side could translate the hostility just fine. This land belonged to the Dothraki, but the people who had settled on this side of it had come here because they felt kinship and safety with her and they had built this life here.

 

And then there was the matter of Jon. A few of the Dothraki had risen up in anger against her, exacting that he be hung by his entrails for killing her. The girl, Vrozzi, being the most vocal of all and saying what she thought true and just, conveying all of that in a bastardized version of the Common Tongue that was heavily accented. Her disappointment in Daenerys coating every word. She was one of the people who had upheld Daenerys' statutes and fought against those who hadn't. It bothered Daenerys to know that there had been such such bitter strife amongst her people. One more thing she wished she could have stopped. It had surprised Daenerys to know that the Dothraki and Unsullied hadn't waged war on Westeros upon her demise, but a little part of her was relieved that Jon was still alive. Was it insanity on her part? Perhaps, but relief nonetheless. The town's people, mayhaps out of spite or loyalty to Jon whom they now somewhat considered one of their own, took an offence to that. She snuck a look at Jon. He sat on the high table with her and the other elders. To his credit, he remained stoic, his face giving nothing away.

 

She thought of her sons. Would they be hated because of the circumstances concerning their birth? She could feel her heart steel over. Let them try. She dared the world silently.

 

On the one hand, she felt shame for the disillusionment that she was causing Vrozzi. On the other hand, she had lived a life before this one. In that life, all she'd ever wanted was to be accepted and to belong somewhere and to restore what had been stolen from her family. She'd lost everything because of that. It wasn't a place or time in memory that she liked to visit. Now, she had been granted a second try at life. There were mistakes that she'd made before that she couldn't make again. She would come to a decision. They didn't have to like it, but for peace to reign and if they didn't want to risk her displeasure, they would comply.

 

She held up her hand and the noise quieted down.

 

"I have heard you all. I will sit on the matter until we convene here again on the morrow." And with that, she stood up and everyone else with her.

 


 

She watched, with a grin, her sons run around her gardens with nothing on but loin cloths. Their skin glowed a healthy shade of bronze from their time in the sun. She hadn't spent enough time with them since her return. They squealed in delight as the sword practice had devolved into a game of chase with their father. She loved moments like these. She stayed in them long after they were over because they had become her solace.

 

She indulged in all of it until they tired themselves out. Jon, laughing, walked up to her and hesitated before laying a kiss on her lips.

 

"What troubles you?" he inquired.

 

"Nothing? Everything?"

 

"Your people?"

 

"I didn't anticipate any of this," she confided.

 

"You could always give me up to appease the Dothraki," he said lightly.

 

She chuckled, "I'm not sure Daeron and Jaehaerys would ever forgive me. Or the town's people for that matter. They're quite taken with you."

 

"They only like me for my wolf," he joked, then he shifted uncomfortably and added soberly, "I don't think they'd think that if they truly understood or believed the girl's accusations."

 

She didn't know what to say to him. It wasn't something that could easily be forgotten, but she didn't need this time with their sons tainted by the darkness of their past mistakes so she reached out for his hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

 

"How about we think of other resolutions?" she suggested.

 

He took a deep breath and waved at the boys calling his attention to something before saying, "Having the Dothraki here solves the problem of not needing sellswords. They're not as many they once were, but they're still feared. However, if they live apart from the townsfolk, the divide will only stoke the enmity between them."

 

"Marriage!" she exclaimed before she sighed, "It's not going to be easy getting them to agree."

 

"Well, they don't all hate each other. How about enticing them with incentives? We--You could start from there."

 

"Yes, we could," she emphasized the "we." His counsel was valuable to her.

 

She could see that the convictions he had in himself and his abilities as a leader had suffered. He questioned everything he did. Now, she knew that his self-doubt had been slowly building since their time at Winterfell or maybe before. It was why he'd been taken too long or acted too quickly in making certain decisions. Things he blamed and punished himself for. But underneath all that, she saw a man who had a strong compass of right and wrong, a man capable of insurmountable goodness. If he searched deep within himself, he always knew what to do.

 

"So, it's settled then, is it?" he asked.

 

"Yes."

 

"I--umph."

 

Daeron barrelled into him, interrupting what he meant to say, and he caught Jaehaerys with his other hand to stop their son from falling on his face.

 

"Mama!"

 

And so it was that for that piece of time, all her woes were put aside to be dealt with later.

Chapter Text

 SAMWELL

 

He was about the city when one of his men delivered a scroll to him. He hurried back to one of the manses that served as a temporary holdfast for the king and the members of his Small Council. Now back at his apartments, he stared at the seal again and swallowed. The sigil on it was a white tower crowned with flames on smoke grey. House Hightower. One of the oldest and richest houses in all of Westeros.

 

A muscle twitched involuntarily at the corner of his right eye, his mouth formed a rigid grimace. With arms folded tightly across his wide chest, he tapped his foot furiously and all the while stared out of the grimy window. This fitfully sunny morning would either see the dawn of his new life or snap his dreams in two.

 

It seemed like these days, every day brought something worse to his doorstep. Just a few days past, he had received word from his mother that Bronn had attacked and seized Riverrun. A man who never hid his lack of honour, Bronn was. Yet, this was the same man that they had committed great positions of power to. That was a troubling matter unto its ownself. And now a scroll from House Hightower.

 

It wasn't merely the fact that it was a scroll from one of the most powerful houses in the Reach and in Westeros, but that it could be about anything ranging from the Citadel to the Faith to Bronn, for there was no bigger patron to the Citadel or the Faith in the realm, both of which saw Sam as either the enemy or an accomplice.

 

Craven. A disgrace. He could hear the disapproving voice of his late father.

 

"I killed a Thenn, I killed a White Walker," he said repeatedly. Maybe if he said it enough times, it would dispel the foreboding that had dug its talons in his heart.

 


 

He bowed. "My lord." The envoy from House Hightower left after Sam dismissed him.

 

It was unavoidable now. Several moon turns had passed since the Hightowers sent him that message. A message he still didn't know anything about for he had adamantly refused to open it.

 

This time another message came, mayhaps the same one, and it came through an envoy. A tall and powerful looking man who was flanked by soldiers. He had been summoned. Those weren't the words used, but that was the message behind the display of false diplomacy that had been accorded him. He thought of the years that he had spent in Castle Black and wished for nothing more at that instant. Ser Alliser Thorne and freezing balls were the better option at the moment. Would that he could run away, he would have. But he had a family now. He had a house to run. Upon the deaths of his father and brother, the duty had fallen to him to become the Lord of HornHill. It was unconventional for a disinherited son who happened to be a... maester to become a lord. It was one of the many reasons that the Citadel wanted him to rescind his position of grandmaester.

 

He thought of his family. Gilly and the children. They had survived the worst beyond the Wall and at Winterfell. With the memories darting through his mind, he steeled himself. They had fought and survived the Night King. He remembered being overrun by wights and drew courage from surviving death yet again. The Hightowers, the blustering old men at the Citadel and the hypocrites of the Seven paled in comparison. Taking a deep breath, he stood to ready himself for the troubles ahead.

 


 

Since he came into power, he had ordered that some of his father's soldiers serve him which they did especially because he was generous in his compensations. He'd also used the implications of his part in the demise of the Mad King's daughter to entice them. Gold and vengeance. Most of them had stayed back to protect his family and some of them escorted him into Oldtown. Though he still felt fear for his life, he drew a little assurance from being in their midst.

 

Sam took time away from his dread to marvel at the city. They went through a labyrinth of wynds, crisscrossing alleys, narrow crookback streets, and markets. He adjusted his the hood of cloak to get a better look at his environs. The streets were quiet for they had arrived late into the night to avoid prying eyes. He took in the smell of the foilage that gave the air a sweet perfumed aroma; melons, moonbloom, nightshade, peaches, and pomegranates.

 

His amazement was short-lived when they got to their destination. It was an inn located close to the seat that House Hightower was named after. The Hightower was a massive stepped tower with a beacon on top to guide ships into port. It was the tallest structure in the Westeros; even higher than the seven hundred foot wall.

 

He stumbled and was caught by one of the soldiers.

 

I killed a Thenn. I killed a White Walker. he chanted to wave off the dread that had crept into him once more.

 


 

He'd heard that the labyrinthine square fortress of unadorned black stone at the castle's foundation contained gloomy halls, vaults, and chambers. He wondered if they would throw him in one of the cells as he was escorted to the Great Hall to meet with the lords of the great castle. Upon entry, he saw archmaesters, septons and soldiers already seated on either side of hall, adjacent to the high table. A herald announced his arrival and all his titles, some of which the men present scorned at. It was just as well. He was in the snake pit now and the best he could do was face his opposition head on.

 

"Lord Tarly. Or is it Grandmaester Tarly?" Lord Leyton Hightower, Lord of the Hightower, asked him.

 

Sam's face grew red at the laughter and sniggers of "pretender" that arose and he waited for the noise to quiet down before he answered, "Whatever pleases you, my lord."

 

"You were one of the people who rewarded the sellsword the Reach, correct?"

 

"Asinine!" someone yelled and others agreed with grunts.

 

"Not I, my lo--,"

 

"His father was a traitor. Why hasn't he been cast into one of the vaults below?" the man standing beside Lord Leyton asked. He was an impressive man with greying hair that reached his shoulders. Garth Greysteel, second son of Leyton Hightower.

 

"I--I'm not my father," Sam stuttered.

 

"No, but weren't you one of th--,"

 

"Leave the boy alone. His mother is sister to father's wife after all. How is Lady Melessa?" the man seated to Lord Leyton said. It was Baelor Breakspear, heir to the Hightower.

 

Sam opened his mouth to answer, but was cut short.

 

"It's why he's still standing here," Ser Garth interrupted.

 

"We've received word that Bronn has overtaken Riverrun and killed Lord Edmure," Lord Leyton said after he held up his hand to halt the back and forth between his sons. "We've sent word to *your* king and his small council. We're going to march to Highgarden to reclaim it. It belongs to my late daughter whose husband and children died when the Lannister pretender blew up the Sept of Baelor."

 

"Oh, don't look so surprised, Lord Tarly," Ser Baelor added. "No one can prove that Cersei did it, but we all know. Else why would the Imp so willingly give away what belongs to my family?"

 

It wasn't surprise that Sam had meant to display, it was realization of how poorly they had planned everything and how, in their eagerness to rid themselves of Daenerys, they had fucked the Seven Kingdoms.

 

"My lords," an archmaester stood up to address them, "sellswords are vulgar and pitiless. The Reach has long been considered the home of chivalry in Westeros and this...this pretender and his friends insult us--nay--insulted you by giving him these lands. House Hightower has the right of it, Lord Leyton. The true Lords Paramount of the Reach!"

 

A chorus of "aye's" and cheers filled the room. Lord Leyton smiled and said, "Let's not get ahead of ourselves. First, we retake the castle and expel whatever forces he left behind to man the walls. What say you, Lord Tarly?"

 

"Flush out the vermin!" a booming voice said.

 

"Of course, my lord," he agreed quickly, noting how fickle power was. If House Hightower decided to go for the crown, there was hardly any force, unless the combined strength of different kingdoms, that could stop them. So, he nodded and smiled amiably because not even House Tarly could match the numbers of their armies.

 

 


PODRICK PAYNE

 

"It keeps getting better doesn't it?" Ser Davos joked.

 

Lord Tyrion ignored him and said, "We're being strong-armed into accepting their terms, Your Grace."

 

"I saw them. I saw Samwell Tarly. They march for Highgarden," King Bran said in a voice that bore no inflection.

 

Lord Tyrion let out a string of curses and Podrick looked to Ser Brienne. She stared straight ahead, a stoic look on her face. Their duty was to protect the king, but how much could a Kingsguard do against the might of House Hightower and their allies? Unless Lord Tyrion hired sellswords from across the narrow sea, their options were very limited. He'd been about the streets. The "crippled king" wasn't very beloved. He wasn't hated, he just wasn't well liked either.

 

"Then we don't have a choice do we?" Ser Davos asked a little too eagerly. Lord Tyrion's look told Podrick that he too had heard the glee in Ser Davos' suggestion.

 

"One might think you want this, Ser Davos," Lord Tyrion observed.

 

Ser Davos shrugged, "You told me that ten years ago, Bronn didn't even know how to balance books--,"

 

"--and you didn't know how to read yet here you are."

 

"--and we made him Master of Coin. Now the realm is near bankruptcy because when he's not throwing gold at whores, he's hiring men from across the sea to subdue the
lords and knights under him. The only way that this was ever going to end was in war."

 

"If we depose him, it should be on our terms. If we bend to their whims who knows what next they'll demand?" the Master of Whispers said.

 

"You don't want House Hightower as enemies, do ya? They're as rich as the Lannisters used to be. We need them on our side."

 

"So what happens to the Reach?" Lord Tyrion inquired. "They've wanted it for centuries, since Aegon the Conqueror gave it to the Tyrells, or so history says."

 

"Another problem for another day," Ser Davos quipped.



"I suppose. Write to Bronn and tell him that his title of Master of Coin has been rescinded and if he's caught in the Capital, he'll be arrested," Lord Tyrion told the Master of Whispers. "I'll write to the Hightowers and tell them that we already acted before we received word from them. I'll be sure to hide a vague threat underneath the flattery."

 

"I'm sure you will," Ser Davos laughed.

 


 

"We're fucked aren't we Podrick?" Lord Tyrion toasted to him later that evening.

 

"Yes, m'lord," he chuckled.

 

They both laughed until Lord Tyrion said seriously, "Ser Davos is a good man, but I don't trust him. He's been... distracted."

 

Podrick was no politician and he liked both men so he raised his cup of wine to his mouth to avoid answering.

 

"Smart boy."

 


 

He had survived the Long Night and he had lived to see the aftermath of the destruction of Kings Landing. Some might even say that he was on the side of victory. But was it really victory if the survivors were left to deal with the threat of uprisings or scornful lords who thought they were being robbed due to the increased taxes that the crown needed to rebuild the capital and care for its own citizens? Was it really a victory if the survivors had to face victims who were displaced from their homes; who only lived so that they could die another day from starvation or disease or by the hands of other victims now turned murderers and rapists? Was it really a victory if the survivors were becoming the very thing that they had fought to prevent?

 

"Ser Brienne?"

 

"What is it, Podrick?" she asked impatiently, dropping her whetstone and inspecting the Valyrian steel sword, Oathkeeper.

 

"Do you think we are on the right side?"

 

She looked uncertain before she hid whatever she was feeling, "Don't speak treason. We're on the side of justice."

 

He nodded, her response doing nothing to quench the doubts rising in his mind.

 

 


VROZZI

 

Vrozzi glared at the traitor Jon Snow and spat in contempt. He should have been hung by his entrails. Instead he was alive while some of the Khaleesi's people had died fighting to preserve her vision.

 

She couldn't help that some of the anger was directed toward the Khaleesi. A part of her felt like a traitor because of it, but Daenerys had never come back for them. Instead, she'd formed a new khalasar. How many people would have been alive if only she had come back for them. She could hear her mother gently scold her. In her eyes, the Khaleesi could never err for she had brought great pride and reform to their people.

 

Vrozzi followed faithfully, but never blindly. She'd expected Maggo to feel just as angry as he used to be, but since the Khaleesi's return, he'd been very forgiving, saying that percase they had received false information. Vrozzi knew that she wasn't the only one who felt betrayed, but all feared to oppose their Khaleesi again. Once was one too many times.

 

She sat with the crowd on the grass. They were all waiting for their leader. The town's people stood on one side and the Dothraki sat or stood on the other. She saw a great white wolf walk in on the heels the horse Jon Snow was riding.

 

She looked up when a large shadow covered them and stood as the crowd present cheered her on. Despite her anger, her heart swelled with pride. Her eyes followed their Khaleesi as she dismounted the great beast and walked into their midst. She was closely surrounded by the Red Woman, some of the warriors and Jon Snow.

 

She smiled at them and Vrozzi marveled at how a woman of that stature could command any crowd whose attention was on her. Her wonder came to an abrupt halt when she heard "marriage." For once, both sides were in agreement. Many rejected the very idea.

 

After much deliberation and the promise of some wealth and more land, some people were swayed. A few so much so that they were willing to take multiple wives.

 

The day ended with both factions agreeing to live more closely and merge with one another. To commemorate the agreement, a feast was to be held. The Khaleesi left it to her people to plan the ceremony.

 

 


GARTH GREYSTEEL

 

He'd been given the task of training new troops at Oldtown after the Ironborn had attacked them many years ago and so he was always prepared for battle. He called out orders as his men marched towards Highgarden. It was hundreds of leagues from Oldtown so it had taken over a fortnight to get here. The palacial castle appeared and he felt his heart swell. His lord father had agreed that upon victory, he would hold the seat until it was decided what would happen to it.

 

His family had coveted it for centuries. When Aegon the Conqueror had given it away to the mere stewards of the last King of the Reach, it had cut deep. House Tyrell had held it for three hundred years until their house became extinct. A lot of things had happened between that time and now, but it made no matter; now it had fallen into their hands by a stroke of the Small Council's folly and sheer luck. Like his lord father had said, it was too early to get ahead of themselves. First, the battle ahead. Then the victory.

 


 

The eastern soldiers fought fiercely and without honour, but he had the numbers and so his strategy of overwhelming them until they were surrounded had the remaining living men drop their swords, but Garth had no time for mercy. He commanded that all the captives be slain.

 

Ignoring the screams of death, he lifted up his bloody sword in jubilee. At last.

 

 


BRONN

 

Bronn had never known an anger this great. Every single raven that came to him with some more bad news, he'd killed with malicious glee. First, word had come that those fuckers in Hightower had taken over his castle. And now, Ser Davos had sent a parchment telling him that he had not only been cast away from being the Master of Coin, but he also had a price on his head if he ever went to the capital. They'd all conspired against him behind his back.

 

He didn't think that the Hightowers would move against him. They hadn't done anything against Cersei so he didn't think that anyone would be bold enough to oppose him, but he'd been mistaken. He'd left a third of his men behind. Something that Belyros Paenen wouldn't shut up about.

 

He mourned the loss of Highgarden. It was paradise compared to this shit hole of a castle. He thought of the groves, fountains, and courtyards within the walls. And the statues and colonnades. All of that and more lost because of this shit.

 

"My men--," Belyros began.

 

"Shut up about your men, would ya? I've paid you. It's more gold for ya now that they're dead so really, you should be thanking me."

 

Belyros' howled in laughter. When his laughter had settled down, he asked, "What do you plan to do now?"

 

"Not give you any more gold, that's what."

 

"They'll come here, you know. You have no allies."

 

Bronn didn't respond to that. He was too embittered to. He should have gone back and left some of his men here, but he'd stayed back to administer and oversee the gold and other jewels that they had found. It made no matter that it was more than enough to buy him another army, it couldn't make up for his losses. Highgarden held the greater part of the wealth that he had acquired.

 

His thoughts darkened and began to spin a web. The thing about power was that once one had a taste of it, one wanted more and once it was threatened, one wanted it even more. He wanted people afraid to betray or oppose him when they heard his name. He wanted those uppity Hightowers to become lickspittles because they feared his might. He wanted... the realm. His eyes widened in cognizance.

 

Bran had less wealth than some of the powerful lords of the Kingdom and he had no armies. He was a cripple and Bronn already knew that treasonous words were spreading throughout the Reach that people didn't recognize him as their king. And they had the right of it. Why should a cripple rule the realm?

 

Why settle for a castle when I can have the realm?

 

 


TORMUND

 

It was the fifteenth day of the eleventh moon. The dusk was when the festivities were to begin. Ten men and women from both the settlement and the Dothraki had been wed before the red god. Close to two moon turns after the people had agreed upon the unifying of both factions.

 

However, agreeing was one thing and living together without enmity was the other. He'd seen this beyond the Wall, but Mance Rayder had succeeded in unifying a lot more warring factions so this was mild in comparison. Jon, who had also fought beside Mance had learned from him so both he and Jon had advised the Dragon Queen on what to whenever she asked.

 

They had managed an unsteady peace, there was still a feud between the children. Everyone had left them to it because no one thought it serious. Not so, it would seem. Looking at the fallen canopies, carts and tables with the food and drinks scattered underneath them, he looked up to see about ten to twelve children running away with a direwolf on their heels.

 

He chuckled. The twins. There was a whole town centre here to bear witness to their crimes. There was no escaping their mother and father.

 


 

"What is the meaning of this?" Jon asked his sons. "What's this I hear of the mess you made?"

 

Daeron faced his father bravely, but didn't say a word. Jaehaerys, though afraid before, was gaining courage from his brother.

 

"Whose idea was this?"

 

"Mine, papa," Daeron answered solemnly in the Common Tongue which he rarely spoke.

 

Tormund smirked at the lie. He'd looked after the boys nearing year. Jaehaerys' sweet nature deceived people into thinking he was a lamb. He was far from docile. If Daeron did the deed, it was Jaehaerys that came up with the idea. He could see that Jon also knew.

 

"Who else joined you?"

 

Silence.

 

They were getting a bit too comfortable until their mother strode in glaring at them. Daeron's brevity faltered and he cowered before his mother's angry gaze. Jaehaerys shifted on his feet and slunk behind his brother.

 

"Who else joined you?" Daenerys wasted no time in asking.

 

"Ghost?" Jaehaerys squeaked.

 

He didn't completely understand the rest of what was said. Daenerys spoke quickly in High Valyrian. Too quickly for him to place the words. But he could tell that she wasn't having any of her sons' fibs. Their faces grew red, their lips jutted out and Jaehaerys was trying his hardest not to cry.

 

"...is that understood?"

 

Satisfied with their nods, she gave them a hard look and looked at Jon.

 

The other children must have felt guilty because they came out of hiding to confess. A few were Dothraki and the others were of the town. Or maybe it was in solidarity with the twins who hadn't given up any names.

 

Exasperated, Jon doled out the punishment. For a fortnight, they were to clean up dung from the stalls in the newly built stables and animal trappings around the town at certain time intervals. And when they were done, all of them were to stand in the public gardens holding hands for all to see, forcing that peace, until whoever supervised them saw it fit to release them. No archery practice, no sword training, no horseback riding for the duration of their punishment.

 

Daenerys translated for those who didn't understand and when it was all done, she sent them on their way. Eyes dancing in mirth after they'd gone, she exchanged an amused look with Jon.

 

Tormund laughed. He thought about the children beyond the Wall. Many of them had been left without father or mother because of the Great War and all the times that the dead had come upon them. He'd left them in good and trusted hands, but he still felt responsible for them. He longed for home and knew that his days in Essos were numbered.

 

 


LORD TYTOS BLACKWOOD

 

Lord Blackwood's solar was large and airy, with great beams of dark oak. Wool tapestries adorned its walls, while latticework doors with panes of diamond-shaped yellow glass overlooked the godswood. He stared out at the dead ancient weirwood tree. It was nearing dusk. Soon the ravens would come to roost.

 

It was time to go to war once more. He had received the survivors of the Tully household into his after the attack on their home. Garth Greysteel had sent word to him asking him to join forces so that they could expel the sellsword from Riverrun. He stroked his beard and read the letter again;

 

Lord Tytos, join us in marching against the traitor like we did against the Baratheon forces for the Targaryen king. We will send word again upon your agreement.

 

Wars were nothing. He'd fought for King Aerys II alongside the Hightowers. Ser Gerold Hightower, called the White Bull. Lord Commander of the Kingsguard under kings has been slain at the tower of Joy in 283 AC by Eddard Stark. But Lord Eddard Stark had been a man of unquestionable honour and so when King Robb Stark had called his banners, House Blackwood had heeded the call only for some of its members to be killed at the Red Wedding. Theirs had been the last Stark loyalists in the south until Jaime Lannister had come to treat with him.

 

The same Lannisters who had killed the Targaryen girl. For as far back into past as before the conquest, House Blackwood had always stood by the Targaryens. They had fought with Aegon in the Conquest and Rhaenerya in the Dance. They would have fought with Daenerys if she had ever called their banners. He had made sure to stay out of her way when she fought the Lannister forces after they invaded Highgarden. A resounding victory for her, one he'd toasted to in private. He'd expected her to come to them, but she hadn't. Instead, he'd heard that she fought against the dead at Winterfell alongside the King in the North who was now exiled to man the empty halls of the Wall until his last day. Here in the south, people laughed at the religion of the old gods, but the blood of the First Men ran strong in House Blackwood. They believed in "grumpkins and snarks." He didn't know the details, but somehow, she had been killed by Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion Lannister who had brought Bronn with no last name into the king's employ. But that king was the Stark boy. The Three-Eyed Raven, he'd heard. There was no greater honour.

 

Caw.

 

He dipped his quill into the ink and began to write on the parchment.

Chapter Text

GENDRY

 

Being the Lord of Storm's End, he'd had to learn the names and sigils of his vassals in the last five years. There were so many names to store in his memory. His castellan had also had to painstakingly teach him how to read, write and do sums. He didn't have a head for sums, but it was much better than not knowing anything at all. His lordship had been especially miserable after he granted some lands to Bronn. A mistake, but a lesser evil than being conquered by the Dothraki. It sparked a rage in him whenever he thought of how ungrateful many of his vassals were; when he had gotten wind of the impending invasion, he'd called their banners. How many of them had answered? And when he had to resort to the most desperate means for their safety, all he got was scorn and disrespect. The only good thing that had come out of any of this was the love the common people had for him. He truly cared for them and saw to it that knew that.

 

He looked on from the battlements of his castle as some of the lords arrived. They were here so that they could all discuss the matter of Lord Bronn... if he could still be addressed as that. He'd received a parchment from the man several days past requesting that he join him in a war that was brewing. It still weighed on his mind. Treacherous as Lord Bronn might be, at least he was a known face and a friend... with the right price. Still, Gendry was tired of the resistance from the lords who were supposed to serve under him. It wasn't all bad, Ser Davos was his most faithful vassal and Lord Selwyn Tarth, though not loyal to him per se, didn't treat him with disdain.

 

He looked at his family banner flapping in the wind, the black crowned stag set upon a golden field. So many mighty men before him had borne this sigil. Legend had it that Orys Baratheon had been a bastard, but no one remembered that over three hundred years later. It was his deeds that lived through time, not the status of his birth. Gendry never thought that he would ever climb this high and though the days that he wanted to leave it all behind surpassed the days that were tolerable, a part of him thought of the legacy that he would leave behind.

 


 

It took everything in him not to shrink under the disapproving looks some of the lords and knights sent his way. He was no longer a bastard, he had fought to save the realms of men. He would not allow for the blatant disregard of his lordship over them. Or so he tried to tell himself. He waited until the hall had quieted down before he spoke again;

 

"Though, Lord Bronn--,"

 

"He's no lord!"

 

"A cutthroat!"

 

"--has asked that I ally with him, I will decline, but we won't go against him. It's his w--,"

 

"So we sit on our hands while that crooked-nosed knave steals from better men?!" Lord Arstan Selmy demanded. He was of one of the principal noble houses of the Stormlands and great-nephew to the great Ser Barristan the Bold.

 

"Lord Arstan speaks true, my lord. He has brought foreign invaders to our lands."

 

"Lands that were never yours to give," another lord added.

 

Ser Davos stood up abruptly and said, "Lord Baratheon has the right of it. Shouldn't we spend our resources chasing Bronn's men away from the Stormlands rather than leave our families and our fields unprotected?"

 

Some murmurs of agreement arose and Gendry cast Ser Davos a look of thanks. He had been sent to the Hightowers as an envoy, but had come to Storm's End at Gendry's behest after his diplomatic mission.

 

"Why should we listen to you, Onion Knight? You're a smuggler, a bottom-feeder, who served--,"

 

"Aye, Ser Mertyn, I was a smuggler and I know the way men like this think. Go to war at your own risk."

 

"My lord, if I may," Lord Selwyn Tarth stood up to say, "We Stormlanders are not craven. We fought with your father, King Robert, against the mad king. We have the might and the men to do both. We can drive the sellswords and go to battle against the sellsword. We will divide our forces if need be."

 

At the shouts of "aye's" and the incessant bangings on the tables, Gendry knew that he was outnumbered. It was good to have the open support of a member of the Small Council, but even that wasn't enough because Ser Davos was only one man and so he pretended to consider it so as not to look weak and then he agreed, saying that he would lead the charge against Lord Bronn. He forced a smile at the ensuing roar that echoed in the round hall, hoping that it would keep him in their good graces. For a while, at least.

 

 


TYRION

 

When he received a letter from Samwell Tarly informing him of House Hightower's plans, Tyrion knew that he had to act fast. So, he sent Ser Davos as an envoy along with a few hundred Lannister soldiers to show support for the cause.

 

Let it not be said that House Lannister didn't help in quelling the insurgency. He knew that his men would be treated with suspicion especially because their liege lord was the one who had offered Bronn such a powerful seat. He was also a party in bringing the Dothraki to Westerosi soil. But it made no matter now. There was no use crying over spilled milk. The best that he could do was look for an opportunity in the mess that he had an unwitting hand in creating.

 

It wasn't lost on him how quickly the Hightowers had come out of hiding or perhaps it was the awakening of a sleeping giant. He had considered offering them the position of Lords Paramount of the Reach on Bran's behalf, but it was precarious because though they didn't govern any given kingdom, they were still considered a Great House; one of the oldest and proudest in the entire realm. They were also the richest and one of the most powerful now. And most importantly, they had the Reach now even though that truth wasn't formally recognized.

 

Sam had also made mention of House Blackwood being allies with the Hightowers and in open rebellion against Bronn. They weren't the only house in the Riverlands who were in open rebellion, but it was to be noted that they had fought alongside the Hightowers and all the other Targaryen loyalists for the mad king against Robert Baratheon. The mad king whose daughter's death Tyrion had orchestrated. It got worse; word had come to him that the Stormlands would join the Hightowers in war.

 

As it stood, he was losing his grip on a lot of was happening. He knew that Yara hated him and was loyal to Daenerys, but he held onto the hope that she didn't know that Daenerys was now alive, else that would mean that he and all the king's men were even more isolated than he originally thought. He still had the Vale and Dorne was quiet for now.

 


Mayhaps, he shouldn't have been so hasty to send all those Dothraki warriors back to Essos. There were still a few thousand strong on the Isle of Dragonstone, but the new Khal wasn't as bloodthirsty as Khal Naqo.

 

I wonder if Lord Hightower will reject another marriage proposal. He reflected on his father's marriage proposal rejected by Leyton Hightower many years ago. Would that he weren't a dwarf, things would have been so different.

 

 


GENDRY

 

Gendry raised his cup as another lord toasted to his betrothal. He had agreed to marry a daughter from House Estermont. Ser Davos told him that she was the best choice for him. They were a wealthy and influential house. He also had their blood; King Robert's mother, Lady Cassana Estermont, was a daughter of House Estermont.

 

He took one more sip and he thought of Arya Stark, the girl that he had loved and woman he could never have. If she had agreed to his proposal, it would have solved so many troubles. She was highborn, from a powerful house and she was no stranger. Or she hadn't been a stranger. He glanced at his betrothed, a shy, plump girl of six and ten. He felt no love nor lust. Only pity for her. She was just as much a pawn as he was, mayhaps even more.

 

He watched, a stranger detached from the happenings in the hall, as the lords and knights made merry. It will strengthen goodwill and lift the spirits of your men before battle, his castellan had said.

 

He spared a glance at his betrothed and she turned bright red when she caught his gaze. He smiled and raised his cup to her. He would try to do right by her. He didn't have much to offer, but in many ways, he had learned honour in the streets of Flea Bottom and loyalty, he had also learned on his way to the Wall all those years ago. He vowed silently to give her both. He would try to at least. She was no Arya, but she was to be his wife. It was the least he could do for her and for the sake of his people.

 

 


BAELOR HIGHTOWER

 

He looked the field and listened to the cries of battle as men, green and weathered, lusted for the war ahead and the glory that came after. He saw the banners of House Lannister, House Blackwood, House Baratheon and a whole pantheon of other noble houses in the encampment where the soldiers and their liege lords alike had pitched their tents. He saw some septons walking about the camp offering prayers to knights who needed the blessing of the gods. They were going to root out the scum root and stem.

 

They had all congregated in Highgarden, awaiting his father's command to move on Riverrun.

 

Soon, sellsword.

 

 


BRAN

 

"Prince Oberyn would never have sat there and let a prisoner dictate what was to happen in the Seven Kingdoms!" Anders Yronwood spat.

 

"He did it during the dwarf's trial and now he is dead," Prince Maron Martell said calmly. His smile betraying none of the anger that Bran knew boiled under his skin. Anders Yronwood, the Lord of the second most powerful house in Dorne after House Martell, was a thorne in his side.

 

"Yes. Because he died defending a Lannister! The Lannister that you conceded to so easily," Wylla Wyl exploded.

 

"The last time a successor to the throne had to be chosen for Jaehaerys I, there was a great council. A thousand lords were in attendance and it took that council over half a year to assemble. Yet Bran was declared king by less than ten people and a prisoner who committed treason!" someone else said.

 

And on and on it went; the lords and ladies from the lesser houses than his sending biting remarks the Prince's way. Dorne had fallen into a crisis of its own when all the main members of House Martell had died and all their troubles could be traced back to House Targaryen and House Lannister. House Targaryen was the lesser of two evils and so when Ellaria Sand, the cause of the Dornish crisis and vengeful lover of Prince Oberyn, had allied with the Dragon Queen, over half the ruling families of Dorne gave their support. Unfortunate events happened and the mantle fell into his hands by sheer happenstance.

 

"Then we secede. We didn't bow to the dragons; we only joined the Seven Kingdoms through marriage. I will admit that it's an action that I should have taken sooner, but it is better late than never."


That memory was from years ago. These days, he felt weakened anytime he tried to look. His eyes were trying to heal from the burns of unseen fires, but Tyrion didn't understand.

 

"Is he dead yet?"

 

"No. He defeated Lord Yronwood before I could strike the deathblow. I couldn't hold on much longer."

 

"We should have gone through his wife. If she killed him--,"

 

"It's too late now."

 

"What do you mean? No one knows that we're behind this," Tyrion said anxiously.

 

"He wrestled with me in his head and when he managed to gather his wits outside my control, someone bore witness to his eyes flickering," Bran said, feeling nothing.

 

"And you couldn't do anything?" When Bran didn't reply, he let out a string of curses and added, "Let's pray to all the fucking gods that this doesn't get out, else, we're fucked."

 

 


PRINCE MORAN MARTELL

 

There had been a great unrest in Dorne since he threw Anders Yronwood into the vipers pit. The man had risen up against him and had attacked. No one could understand why until a young child was brought before him. She told him of things that he could only hold one person responsible for. The king had tried to kill him and the boy was no more than a puppet in the hands of the Imp. It angered him to no end. All they had wanted was independence, but not so anymore. They would seize the capital. Some of his men were still in doubt and thought his dreams too lofty, but now that word had reached him of the trouble brewing in another part of the Kingdom, he had sent ravens and emissaries throughout Dorne. Today, he and all his banner men would meet. Word had spread that the Hightowers were about to attack the former Master of Coin. Normally, the things that happened outside of Dorne didn't matter to her people, but this couldn't be ignored. The Hightowers, though a powerful house, had only ever made a grasp for the height of power during the Dance of Dragons and after the great loss that they bore, they were content to remain highly influential, but not as overly ambitious where the crown was concerned. Although they still proved themselves loyal to the crown, it was only a matter of time before they set their eyes on it. As it stood now, they were the most powerful house in the realm and would only gain more power. They had the full strength of the Reach and the Stormlands and a few houses from the Riverlands behind them. They were unanimously supported by the Faith and the Citadel and they were the richest house in Westeros. How long before they decided to depose the crippled boy?

 

Dorne was an enigma to the rest of the realm and it remained so because the Dornish were different. They tended to mind what was theirs and theirs alone, but the changing times had forced their hand to act in this manner.

 


 

The Tower of the Sun had a dome of gold and leaded glass. Beneath the dome sat the throne room, a large round room with thick windows and many colored glass. The floors were made of pale marble. Within the throne room there were two seats on a dais, near twins to one another, the only difference being that one is inlaid with the Martell spear on its back and the other featured the blazing Rhoynish sun that flew from the masts of Nymeria's ships. The spear seat is used by the ruling Prince of Dorne. He sat on the seat with the Martell spear on its back while his wife sat on the other.

 

"The boy has no armies. We will cease the capital and take him hostage," Prince Moran said.

 

"Our cause is true and our need for vengeance, righteous, but the other kingdoms won't sit idly by," the fair Lord Edric Dayne cautioned. "If we do this, we stand the risk of a greater loss than the one we suffered during Robert's Rebellion. I say we continue with our plans to secede."

 

Lord Edric was amiable and well liked, but he was too soft. Always looking for the more peaceful alternative. It was said that the man had never killed before.

 

"That was a good plan before my father was murdered because of the crippled king and the Hightowers began to grow their strength. Our forces suffered fighting for the Dragon Queen. The stronger the support for the Hightowers, the lesser our chance at becoming independent," the new Lord Yronwood said.

 

"They say we are hot-blooded and sexually licentious, and for that, we are viewed with mistrust and rivalry by the people of the Reach," his wife joked and everyone in the throne room laughed.

 

"We're too different from them. One day, that difference might prove too much that they will want to change who we are," he said more seriously.

 

Murmurs of agreement arose. He could see the fire in their eyes. Dorne was the oldest kingdom in the realm. Before Princess Nymeria sailed to find sanctuary here, there were bloodroyals and kings of the torrentine and kings of stone and sky to name a few. They might be the least populous of the kingdoms, but both times that the dragons had tried to conquer them, both times they had lost a monarch.

 

"How can we hope to bring the rest of the realm to heel, my prince? This is asking for more than we might be able to handle. Our fight is against the cripple and the his Lannister hand," Lord Edric responded adamantly.

 

Prince Moran narrowed his eyes and stated, "I know that the Ironborn have no love lost for the Stark boy and the Imp and they have no loyalties to the Hightowers. I've sent an emissary to Yara Greyjoy to join us. She wants an independent kingdom. When we cease the capital--,"

 

"And what happens to Dorne while we're away fighting?"

 

He uncrossed his ankle from his knee and leaned forward, "When Aegon and his sisters attacked Dorne, we were ruled by a blind woman and they lost a dragon and Rhaenys. When Daeron, the Young Dragon, tried to conquer us, fifty thousand of his men died on this soil."

 

When the young man tried to speak, he held up a finger, while his face hardened to stop the insubordination. He continued, "Whoever holds the capital, holds the keys to the realm. If the Hightowers want to it so badly, then they will have to get it the way the Targaryens did. By marriage. On our terms."

 

He felt justified when he looked around and saw the noble men and women, vengeance and vindication permeating the throne room. When they received word from Yara Greyjoy, then they would go to war.

 

 


YARA

 

"FALL BACK!" she yelled at her men as she ran towards the wheel on her ship, cutting down anyone who wasn't Ironborn. The attack on Lannisport was a disaster.

 

They had raided the Westerlands without drawing too much attention to themselves until they grew bored of it so she had led her men in an attack. And an ill-advised attack it was, for when they got to Lannisport, their ships were ambushed and she suffered a massive loss as a result. Most of the ships that they had come with were under a counterattack or up in flames. She heard the groan of a mast breaking from the ship beside the one she was on and the huge splash afterwards, all but confirming how fucked they were.

 

Someone jumped on her back before she could touch the wheel of her ship and she flipped her dagger to have a more comfortable hold on it and stuck it into whatever part of the bastard's face that she could pierce it into. He dropped to the floor, and she turned around, kneeling to slice his throat with the dagger stuck in his eye.

 

She got up immediately, not bothering to wipe off the blood from her dagger and took control of the wheel to steer her ship away from Lannisport. She would lick her wounds of humiliation later, for now, retreat was of utmost importance.

 


 

She had grown careless because of all their successful raids. * should have sent spies. The Westerlands were not the power that they once were under Lord Tywin, but she had underestimated Tyrion Lannister.

 

She hoisted a sail to one of the builders repairing a ship that could be salvaged and dusted her hands on her doublet. Defeat was a part of life and it might take a long time to recuperate, but the Ironborn always came back.

 

She had received some gifts from Dorne a moon turn ago, but the one that she delighted in the most was the promise of independence. It always stupefied her to think that not one person had protested when Tyrion, a man in chains, convinced the rest of them to let the cripple rule. Even more surprising was that no one else demanded their independence. It always felt like she couldn't really remember that day. It was strange.

 

She had been awaiting the Dragon Queen for years now, but she had now accepted that it was all in futility. She had also lost a good man, Liram, but it made no matter because now, a new opportunity had presented itself. Only a fool would let this pass her by.

 

 

 

JON

 

"Papa, look!" Jaehaerys shouted running towards him with his hand outstretched holding something.

 

As he ran nearer, Jon could see that his mouth was bleeding. Alert, he immediately went to the boy to check what was wrong. His son just lost a tooth. Relieved and amused, Jon took him to a nearby trough to rinse the blood out of his mouth. His mind flashed to Rickon when his brother was about their age. How old would he have been had he lived? Thankfully, Daeron yelling didn't allow him dwell on his sense of failure.

 

"Jaelan naejot ojughagon ñuha ātsio tolī," Daeron said, looking incensed as he drew closer. It made Jon laugh because his eldest didn't want to be left out from missing a tooth.

 

"You will lose a tooth soon. Just give it time," he affirmed.

 

Both boys were as close as brothers could be, but they still competed with each other, always trying to outdo the other.

 

Done helping Jaehaerys clean up his face, he did the same for Daeron just so the boy wouldn't feel excluded. Woes temporarily forgotten, Daeron talked his ear off about his improvement in archery while he walked them to their saddle horses. The boy had a very good eye for it and the makings to become an expert marksman if he continued like this. He looked back to see Jaehaerys traipsing behind them. Jon held out his hand until Jaehaerys caught up to him to fit his little hand into Jon's. His second son didn't like archery. Understandable, since in most parts of the known world, he'd be considered too young for it, but Daenerys had insisted on this for the sake of their safety and now that the Dothraki children had become a part of their town, it was even more unavoidable because those boys could shoot arrows while riding horses. He squeezed his son's hand gently and tactfully shifted the conversation to sword practice. Like he thought, Jaehaerys' face lit up. He was more skillful with his wooden sword than Daeron was, but unlike Jaehaerys, Daeron wasn't bothered by not being "perfect" at it. He waited for them to mount their horses on their own, watching with sharp eyes should they need any help, but they both liked to do things on their own because their mother insisted on it, so they didn't require any aid.

 

As they rode together back to Daenerys' home, he chuckled and laughed and answered questions when the situation called for it, thinking of just how lucky he was and wondering how so much good had come of the shitty life that he'd been dealt and the mistakes that he'd made.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

She told Jaehaerys to extend both hands forward, placing them together to form a small triangle between the thumbs and the first knuckle on the index fingers.

 

"Now open both eyes and look through the triangle--,"

 

"I can't do it!" he said in the Common Tongue which was heavily accented. He was speaking more in the Common Tongue these days. Jon's influence. He bit his lower lip to keep it from trembling.

 

Daenerys was just as frustrated as he was. It wasn't just that he didn't like archery, it was that he hated it. She wished that she could tell him to cease practice and do what he was comfortable with, but everytime she remembered how much people wanted her dead and now her children, she was only more determined to have them trained early in lieu of any attacks they might encounter. They were in her yard now and she could see that for him, it was all it took not to toss the longbow slung over his shoulder to the ground. She swallowed a sigh. An idea began to form in her head before she saw Daeron dash excitedly towards the only other person besides her that brought them that much delight with Ghost in chase.

 

She stood up from her haunches and gave Jaehaerys a quick kiss on the top of his head before she faced Jon.

 

Daeron was chattering away, oblivious to Jaehaerys' hurt while Jon took in the scenario. He met her where she stood and gave her a small smile which she didn't return before he looked at their angry son.

 

"I didn't like archery either," Jon said conspirationally as he unslung the longbow from Jaehaerys' shoulder. "My... brother, Theon, he was an excellent marksman. Better than the rest of us."

 

She saw Jaehaerys wipe a lone tear with the back of his hand as his interest piqued while Daeron peppered Jon with questions. She too wanted to know. Though they had grown closer, they hardly ever spoke about the past and sometimes, in an effort to push past her fears and misgivings about him, she forgot that there were good things in their past as well. Like the innocence of their early childhoods.

 

"It didn't stop me from practicing, however," he said as he pointed his index finger at an object, instructing Jaehaerys and Daeron to do the same.

 

"Close your left eye... this is your left eye. Does your finger still stay on the object?"

 

Both boys answered and confirmed enthusiastically.

 

"Then you are right-eye dominant."

 

"Skoros iksis paktot laes... dome-ee-nant?" Daeron inquired, testing the new word slowly and making his father grin at that. It didn't matter how well he understood the Common Tongue, he simply refused to speak it. Or rather, he hardly ever did if at all. Fortunately, Jon had spent nigh his third year here and now had a good grasp of High Valyrian.

 

"Right-eye dominant just means that this eye," he said point at Daeron's right eye, "is your good eye for shooting arrows.

 

"Oooh."

 

He turned back to Jaehaerys, "Ready?"

 

At his timid nod, Jon said, "Ready your bow. That's it, boy. Nock. Mark... steady now. Don't look at me, look at your target. Draw... and loose!"

 

At his command, Jaehaerys let go and though it didn't hit his target, it was a much better attempt than anything Daenerys had seen from him. Jutting his chest out, he beamed at his father's praise while Daeron scrambled to give it a try.

 

The whole scene made Daenerys' throat constrict. These little things made it difficult not to love Jon the way she used to before he took her life, but even now, she couldn't fail to remember nor could she get past all the events that had preceded it. She couldn't trust him like before and no matter the wonderful moments between them, some things were impaired beyond fixing. Still, she treasured these moments. If not for her, then for her sons. They were safe, they were loved and they didn't face the pressures and expectations that being born of noble or royal blood brought.

 

Jon caught her staring at him and stood up after sending Jaehaerys to join his brother who was now being a nuisance to Ghost, not that the direwolf seemed to mind.

 

"That wasn't so bad now, was it?" he asked softly.

 

"No," she smiled at him.

 

She watched his eyes lower to her lips and back to her eyes. Despite the difficulties they faced when it came to trust, the lust between them remained undisturbed by time and circumstance. She looked pointedly at their sons in warning and he grinned in response. He still had that effect on her. The one that made her want to throw caution to the wind.

 

The moment was cut short when she felt skinny arms wrap themselves around her waist. A very happy looking Jaehaerys tipped his head up and gave her an open-toothed grin before bouncing off to do whatever he was doing before.

 

She hadn't known this much peace in... she'd never known this much peace. But such was her state of mind that these brief moments of contentment were almost always stolen away by fear. What if she lost it all again?

 

 


JON

 

She'd invited him to the back of the Mother of Mountains. For the first time in their lives, the twins were to ride with their mother on dragon's back and she wanted to share that with him. To say that the twins were excited would have been to understate it. He on the other hand, while grateful, was cautiously treading this experience with her. Especially when he remembered everything that had happened surrounding the deaths of the other two dragons and the aftermath of heartache and slaughtered bodies. Unpleasant images flashed through his brain; things that he would much rather forget. He didn't understand what had set off those memories.

 

She'd told him that the twins had no last name, but in truth, they were still Targaryens. It made no matter that they didn't bear the name, they still had fire in their blood. Just like he did. He still didn't know how he felt about it all these years later. Sometimes, it filled him with curiosity or pride and other times, he was left feeling hollow. The only two things that tied him to his Valyrian heritage were his love for Daenerys and the bond he'd shared with Rhaegal. His reaction or lack of one thereof to the dragon's death was one of the things that Jon wished he could go back and do differently.

 

Everytime a Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin.

 

In Westeros, his sons would be treated like gods or with contempt. Just like their mother had been in Winterf-- No!

 

He forced himself out of that thought and shook Daeron awake. He'd come to her home earlier and she had to take Jaehaerys first without Daeron who was in a deep sleep and so she'd told him to meet her there with him whenever he awoke. Today was going to be a good day if he had a say about it. Daeron's sleepy grin at the sight of Jon made him push the bad memories even further away.

 


 

An indignant Daeron flew at his mother and attacked her with his tiny fists when she got off from Drogon.

 

When Jon had told him that his mother and brother had left without him, he'd been angry ever since. Seeing them land and Jaehaerys scream in delight at being airborne only made it worse so as soon as Daenerys dismounted carefully with Jaehaerys, Daeron threw a tantrum.

 

"That's enough of that," Jon rebuked sharply. Peeling the crying boy from his mother's body.

 

He continued his scolding, speaking sternly and in a strict voice. It was the first time he'd ever used that tone on either of them. Both boys noted it too because they had grown silent and Daeron was sobbing looking down at his feet. Jon, ever cautious, glanced uncertainly at Daenerys to see if she thought him too harsh, but the twinkle in her eye made him relax.

 

Now remorseful, his son apologized to his mother tearfully. He could see her struggle not to engulf him in a motherly embrace, but she stayed her hands by folding them and delayed his flight until she was satisfied that he had learned his lesson.

 


 

There had never been a right time to give her the perfume he'd bought from the Lysene trader on his way to Vaes Dothrak years before, but something about today made him bold enough to give it to her. When he told her how long he'd had it... the way she'd looked at him... he was of a mind to buy back her trust if need be, but he knew it wasn't that easy. He hadn't given her the gift to earn her trust back, he just wanted to do something gracious in return after all she kept giving him.

 

She was drifting asleep in his arms now. They were under the stars, far away from the settlement and naked save for the furs that were covering them. They had talked about everything and nothing. She'd sought him out in his encampment. Why, she didn't say. But he was glad for it. One thing had led to the other and now, here they were. He wanted to wake her so she could keep talking with him, but a part of him was relieved that she'd fallen asleep. It was in quiet and close moments like this one that he'd see fear or distrust steal into her eyes. She was expecting him to fail her again. It saddened him. The only time he'd ever attempted to tell her that he loved her when she was awake, she had kissed him to silence him. When she withdrew from the kiss, she shook her head at him, doubt etching the beautiful features of her face.

 

Still, they were here now. It wasn't something that he would have ever thought possible after he stuck that knife in her heart and all the moments leading to it. He rubbed the scar on his chest in response to the unbidden ugliness that came with those thoughts.

 

To him, she was home. She also deserves to be fucked on a comfortable bed, he thought wryly. He'd been talking to some of the builders. He was ready to live in a house now. As comfortable as he had made his tent for the sake of his sons and their mother, he wanted to live close enough that it didn't feel like a journey when he had to see his kin. He grinned at the empty sky when he thought of that. Kin. His. He could already see the house; stone walls, a thatched roof, a hearth, two or three small rooms. It would be surrounded by as many lemon trees as he could plant and he would paint the front door red.

 

 

Chapter Text

BRONN

 

It was a grueling march from the Riverlands. They had gone through the stoney sept, passing scowling faces. If any of the other lords wanted to challenge him, they thought the better of it because of the men that he had hired. They were strange looking and fearsome. To an untrained eye, that is. The sellswords were no more than mere men, although renowned fighters. It was why as soon as the second sellsword company arrived, Bronn had decided to go to the Reach first and not wait for the Hightowers and their allies to attack. The combined strength of his sellsword armies was no match for what was coming for him. They sailed the blackwater rush and continued on to the Roseroad.

 

Vexation overcame him afresh when they crossed the borders into the Reach. This was his land.
The Reach might be the most fertile of all the kingdoms, but it was the most indefensible and there were no impregnable mountains to stop them from retaking it. Numbers were advantageous, but they didn't necessarily win you wars. It was cunning that won duels or battles or wars. And so he had played a game of cat and mouse with the Hightowers. A few men of his had scouted the layout and when he had all the information that he needed, he took to raiding and ambushing their encampments at night before slinking away; making sure to steal, to kill and to destroy whatever he could. There weren't heavy losses on the enemy, but those losses were enough to make them uncomfortable. That was the thing about bulk; sometimes it could be too cumbersome to coordinate such a large army in time to respond.

 

Alas, their raids had come to an end for today, on the roseroad, they would meet the intruders in battle.

 

Bronn scanned the horizon while listening to the men beside him. They were captains of the companies he had hired. The new man, Lazero, a man short and stout with yellowing teeth and sharp sense of humour was swearing that Daenerys Targaryen had come back again with a vengeance. Bronn listened with interest. When Bran had informed the Small Council, he'd thought it was nonsense. He still did, truth be told. There was no such thing as resurrection because if there were, then the likes of Tywin Lannister would have fought his way back to life.

 

"Peddling fish-wives' tales are ya?" he asked the man.

 

"I swear it on all the gods. Her enemies were fucked. She rode her black into batt--,"

 

"There's a loose dragon flying around Essos with no rider. Of course you're all fucked. We will be too if that thing ever decides to come back here."

 

The other man waved him off with a good-nature insult and shook his head. Bronn chuckled and adjusted his jerkin.

 

He adjusted himself on his destrier and looked back. Some of the men looked to be cooking in their armour. He couldn't, for the life of him, understand why one would want to weigh themselves down like that. He mopped his brow of the sweat that had gathered there, cursing the cloudless sky and taking a drink from his waterskin to cool his parched throat. In this heat even the trees appeared defeated. Leaves that should be firm and upward tilting drooped, flaccid as old lettuce.

 

He saw his man race towards him bellowing that the enemy was at hand. Bronn unsheathed his sword and dagger and leered at the still empty ground before him, awaiting the onslaught of horseback riders and foot soldiers.

 


 

The sky was carrion-black now. Poppy-red blood drizzled from his wounds. He saw men from the Stormlands clunking axes and crashing war hammers against their shields. Arrows were zipping and hissing through the air. Some of his men were bowled over in agony. Swords were ringing against each other. A legion of knights attacked the centre of his lines. The septic smell of death hung over the battlefield. There's no way that we can win this, he thought as the acrid taste of blood rose up in his mouth.

 


 

A bitter wind swept the hillside and the soil was bloodied with battle. Enemy soldiers wore thick leather armour or suits of mail and plate. The menfolk stood in formation, thirty rows was all they had now for their forces had been outwitted, outmanoeuvred and battered beyond mercy, their eyes trained on the road to see how many more the Hightower commander would send. They heard the boots long before they saw the mass of uniformed bodies led by a horseman bearing a banner; the white tower crowned with flames on smoke grey. Their answer had come. Bronn's face blanched. He was not a man of honour. This was never a battle they could win, only a sacrifice to buy time. He didn't throw his sword in surrender. Instead he swiveled his mount and rode the other way. Fast. Fleeing while he could still draw breath.

 

 


SAMWELL

 

The tables were laden with delicacies. Everything one could think of, and things one could have never dreamed of, lay in wait. Whole roasted deer and pigs. Huge platters of fowl stuffed with savoury fruit and nuts. Ocean creatures drizzled in sauces or begging to be dipped in spicy concoctions. Countless cheeses, breads, vegetables, sweets, wines, and streams of spirits that flickered in the flames.

 

The hall was thick with music, obscenities, stories of wars and battles as well as endless toasts to Lord Leyton Hightower who had thrown this feast to celebrate their victory in "the Battle of Roseroad" as the maesters now dubbed it.

 

Samwell felt ill. He would rather be anywhere else than in a room full of drunken lords, soldiers, scholars and priests, some of whom were with a lady beside them or a whore on top of them. He tugged at his doublet to help him breathe better, but even that was no use because the air was stifling. He got up immediately and trudged past the press of bodies heavy with perfume or the faint stink of sweat.

 

Finally outside, he took a deep breath and doubled over. Steady now, he told himself as he swallowed the bile that rose to his throat. He felt like a lamb that was about to be readied for slaughter. For all that he hated war, those days had stalled his inevitable judgement by the Hightowers. In title, he and Lord Leyton Hightower ranked the same, but in power and favour, he might as have well been the man's vassal.

 

I should run away. Escape! he thought. But he couldn't do that because of his family. He would put them in danger. He also wouldn't get very far in Oldtown.

 

He heard the laughter ebb after yet another toast to Lord Leyton and veiled ridicule of Lord Edmure. This one was less subtle than the last. He didn't know why he felt anger on the man's behalf. Mayhaps, it was because he thought Lord Edmure a kindred soul; a victim of the shit luck this accursed continent had bestowed upon him.

 


 

A tourney was being held in Lord Leyton's honour and Sam scurried past the tents and heraldry of the different bannermen gathered to win gold and glory. He spotted several coats of arms; dark-green sea-turtle on a pale-green field of House Estermont among others.

 

Before he could get into the Hightower, he watched slowly as a commotion occurred before him. Soon, strong hands grasped the thick of his arm and he looked to its owner to see a scowling face staring at him. He gulped and held up his hand to stop his men from attacking. Their efforts would result in pointless deaths. The Hightowers were patrons of both the Citadel and the Faith of the Seven and could field three times as many swords as the other bannermen of the Reach, as well as the manpower of Oldtown.

 

It was time.

 


 

"Lord Tarly," Lord Leyton Hightower greeted with a welcoming smile.

 

Sam wasn't deceived. Those eyes were hard as flint and had only grown sharper with age.

 

"My lord," Sam answered with a slight bow of his head.

 

"I regret cutting your festivities short, but I'm afraid there is a pressing issue that we have yet to... settle in proper terms," the old man said, leaving no room for any arguments.

 

Sam looked around the hall. It was half as full as it was the last time that he'd been summoned, but still full of people who thought little of him.

 

"Your men did well in battle against the sellsword armies. HornHill is renowned for their mettle in battle. But it is no small thing to forget the hand you had in giving that... lowborn the Reach. As a result, the vassals and those in need of their protection suffered," Lord Leyton said.

 

"Let's not forget the lickspittles who were shoved up the man's arse," someone chimed resulting in the braying laughter of the men present.

 

Sam forced a smile and said, "Of course, my lord. But all I was, was present when the king and his lord hand named him Lord Paramount of the Reach. I had and still have no power to bestow lands and titles to anyone."

 

"Hmm. That is true. But it is also true that some things are hard to be understood by they which are unlearned; you have two titles, both of which speak of great power. To save many simple folk of wresting with such complexities, shouldn't you give one of the titles up? Preferably, the title of being a grandmaester which, you can't deny, is unearned."

 

Many a man had called Sam clever, but he had walked into that trap.

 

"Hmm. Well, yes, but a-actually, my--,"

 

"You either step down or we make you step down," an old man, tall and thin and shrunken with age said to him. Cutting straight to the matter.

 

His name was Bonifer Hasty. He had a stern face and sad eyes. Those eyes bore what may have been anger? Hatred? He was a former knight who was now a man of the Faith, not an archmaester so Sam didn't understand why it concerned him so and he knew not why he drew much hostility from the man.

 

Spelling out his words carefully, Sam spoke facing Lord Leyton, but addressed the hall prevaricating, "Step... down?"

 

"You're a disgraced son from a disgraced house. Your father was a turncloak and di--,"

 

"That's enough Ser Bonifer," Lord Leyton said and waited for the noise that had arisen in agreement with the pious knight to quiet down.

 

"Lord Tarly, your father lost a lot of men when he went against the Dragon Queen. Men who you'll need to garrison your castle and lands. If I'm not mistaken, you lost some in the Battle of Roseroad. Surely, you can't split the forces you have left between Kingslanding and HornHill."

 

"He doesn't even have a chain," one of the archmaesters sneered.

 

For some reason, that declaration made Sam's fear give way for ill-humour. He swiveled sharply and looked around the room. These... weasel-like old men with scrawny shoulders and pink their long necks. His expression darkened at the relics that they were and the vain lords and knights that dared question him. While they were fighting for the base things of this world, he had been in the front lines battling against an enemy that they couldn't even begin to fathom. Before then, he had survived Craster's Keep, the Fist of the First Men and had stood in the battlements of the Wall against Mance Rayder and his Wildling army. He had saved Gilly from a White Walker and for all anyone knew, he was the first to kill one in thousands of years. He had lost friends; Pyp, Grenn and Edd. He had been party to those who deposed the world of a tyrant with a dragon and had lost Jon in the process. Yet, here he stood before these men, clouded by their small-mindedness and traditions. For what? Why should he relinquish any titles?

 

Bitterness stewed in his soul and he shouted, "Fuck your chains! Fuck the Citadel! Where were any of you when we fought against the dead?! Where were you when we held Winterfell against the Night King and the White Walkers?! Where--,"

 

In his rant, the hall had grown quiet until a familiar voice from the back of the hall said, "Such puerile behaviour. The boy was always odd. He's finally lost his wits."

 

The hall erupted in laughter and any audaciousness he may have felt slowly receded, leaving him feeling spent and ashamed. First in Battle. Those were his house words. Those were words that he had never really felt any kinship with. Words that he wished that he could draw courage from, if only for this moment; to fight and stand bravely like the man that he was named after. Savage Sam. When the Vulture King began raiding the Dornish Marches in 37 AC, Lord Orys Baratheon was joined by marcher lords in the Second Dornish War. Savage Sam had played a key role in the defeat of the Vulture King. Living true to the spirit of their house words. He, on the other hand, had been given the moniker, Sam the Slayer, in mockery by men who were now long dead. If he postured and held his ground, he might be thrown into one of the dungeons. He had a family and a house to cater to.

 

"We didn't ask that you be here for you to regale us with tales of grumpkins and snarks, Lord Tarly," Lord Leyton said looking amused. "You clearly understand the graveness of honour if you fought against the dead. Honour demands that you do what is right."

 

Overmatched, Sam quietly said, "Very well, then." Then he added, "But do not expect me to give up anything else."

 

"Of cours--,"

 

"I wish you good fortune in finding a place to live amongst the rubble, shit and disease of the city," he sneered before he stormed out. Hurrying his steps in case they sent men after him for his insolence.

 

 


GILLY

 

"Wake up my fairy princess," Little Sam crooned to his sister. He was the sweetest boy in all the kingdoms. Shy and gentle. Like his real father, Samwell. For as long as she lived, she would never acknowledge Craster's role in bringing him into the world. Looking back, none of that even seemed real. She'd lived several lifetimes in this one alone, but whatever roads or gods led her to this very moment, she was grateful to.

 

She watched him pick her up and tickle her until he chased away her drowsiness. Both Sams, her husband and her son, were fools for her daughter. She could do no wrong in their eyes. Little Sam whispered something in his sister's ear and she giggled uncontrollably. Gilly's smile widened into a grin. This was why they had all fought. This was why they had had to do some things that were less than honourable. Things that should only be spoke of in secret and should never be spoken of beyond a whisper.

 

Mayhaps, that was why those things were finally catching up to them. Sam had been away for most of the year, but he had been sending word to her through ravens or trusted messengers. He had survived battle and now he was no longer the grandmaester. She wanted to rave because he was one of the few people who cared for the wellbeing of others, but that wasn't good enough in this world. If it were, Jon Snow wouldn't be exiled, she thought guiltily. In his anger and moment of weakness, Sam's need for vengeance had started a fire that no one could stop. In the end, hundreds of thousands of people had died, caught in the fires that unintentionally lit them in the pyres of their homes and places of work. A stain of an event that could never be cleaned no matter how much they tried. It was the burden of that day that had driven Sam to lose some of who he was in order to preserve all of who they were: his family. And she loved him for it. Now, one of the things that he had braced his strength on had been taken from him. She wanted to take their children and ride for HornHill where the rest of their family were, but Sam told her to stay put until he came back. It was no easy thing to wait, not knowing what would happen next, but if that was what he needed from her at this time, then that was what she would give.

 

 


BRONN

 

"Another!" one of the men seated across him demanded.

 

He had sung his favourite melody; the Dornish man's wife. He pinched the side of the buxom whore seated on his lap and asked, "What say you?"

 

She gave him a sultry smile and said, "Only if you will do to me what the man did to the Dornish man's wife."

 

He chuckled and in response, brought his hand between her thighs to rub her cunt.

 

"If you're not going to fuck her now, sing us another song," another man demanded.

 

Bronn laughed and obliged. He had escaped to Braavos. He'd ridden with a few men that he could rely on to a certain extent and taken as much gold, silver and precious stones as he could before he killed the men and went to the nearest port. Then he boarded a ship and sailed to Braavos. He had taken a liking to the place. By and large, the Braavosi were a kind people. He spent a lot of time in the brothels and alehouses in Purple Harbour. He was still getting acquainted with his surroundings, bidding his time to make the right move. For now, he would wait like the desert snakes that Dorne was renowned for.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

DAENERYS

 

She grunted as she was pushed forward by a mass of people coming off the docks of the Western Market; hustle and bustle, people bumping into people, toes trodden on, smells of freshly slaughtered meat hanging from hooks, smells of foods, baked and cooking, the rancid smell of sweaty bodies, the smell of manure and chicken droppings, caged chickens, tethered pigs, lambs in pens, stalls overflowing with produce, vegetables spilled onto the muddy ground, splashing through puddles, stall holders hollering out promises of enticing prices, customers haggling over prices, people gossiping in huddles, cacophony of sound, bulging bags swinging into peoples legs.

 

She had come here her with some of the builders to observe and learn what it would cost to buy materials for the garrison that they were to build. They did have a barracks, but it wouldn't do especially now that word of her being alive was sure to spread. She and Jon had agreed that he would see to the construction of the place. It would be located close to the Eastern Market and would house both the trained and the novice "soldiers" in the army that Jon was building. Jon's "army" wasn't an army, not really. It was a group of people who had volunteered to be trained stand guard, keep watch and defend if need be. Some of them were skillful, if unremarkable, but most were no more than farmers or freed slaves or petty traders who couldn't wield a knife let alone a sword. However, the need for vigilance was increasingly important now more than ever for though some Dothraki had returned and the Warriors of R'hollor were ferocious in battle, they were at no loss to prime the men under Jon's watchful tutelage. A caravan from Asshai had been spotted by one of the settlers near the Mother of Mountains. If she had to guess, they had heard about Drogon. By the time they had gone to check for and apprehend the caravan, it was simply gone. Had it not been for the tracks on the ground, no one would have been the wiser. Kinvara had chanted a spell and smiled her strange smile afterwards. "Nothing is amiss," was as much as the Red Woman said about it.

 

Daenerys tugged the hood of her cloak further down her face to hide her eyes. She was parched, but she decided wait until her task here was completed.

 


 

She was brought to a standstill when she saw Jon sitting on a rock, carefully washing a gash on his calf. He had bruises and cuts on other parts of his body as well, but the most glaring one was the one on his chest. It looked like one of the scabs had been open anew.

 

Disquieted, she asked, "What happened?"

 

His head shot up at her voice and he grimaced and said gruffly, "It's nothing."

 

"It's not nothing, Little Crow," Tormund directed at him. Then he turned to her and said, "Your horse people want him dead."

 

"What?"

 

Sparing an annoyed glance at Tormund, but addressing her, he said, "Just four lads is all." He turned his attention to her and continued, "I disarmed them all and threatened to cut their braids and shave their heads if they ambushed me next time. It's nothing."

 

While he was talking, she had walked to him so that she could examine his wounds.

 

"You shouldn't be walking certain places alone," she chastised softly, taking the damp rag from his hand and lifting his face up by his chin to press the rag against a cut on his cheek.

 

"They're just boys eager for glory, Dany."

 

"Hmm."

 

He held her wrist and got up. Rubbing his thumb on her pulse, but pointedly looking around at all the men that he were awaiting his instructions. She had thought it expedient to apprise him of her time in the Western Market and what they needed, but mayhaps that would have to wait.

 

"I've kept them waiting for too long. These men aren't going to train themselves," he said with a smile. "Tormund, we need more swords and spears. Find out from the blacksmith how much steel we need to buy. We need more shields as well."

 

"Aye," Tormund replied and immediately sprung into action.

 

"You're going to limp," she told him directly before Tormund was out of earshot.

 

"I've survived worse. Tell me about your findings."

 

"After you let a healer apply some salve on your chest and your calf. Really, J--,"

 

"Alright," he conceded with a laugh.

 

She knew that she had no need to fret, but Drogo had died from a seemingly harmless wound. Jon, however... he survived several stabbings, one to the heart. A stab to the heart. She withdrew her wrist from his hand and gave him a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes.

 

A silence fell upon them and she could hear the wind rustling through the leaves of the trees.

 

"I'll leave you to it," she told him, and placed the rag gently in his hand.

 


 

"We have need for more woodworkers, stonemasons, diggers, quarrymen and blacksmiths," she informed Kinvara.

 

"We do have need for even more than those, but I fear the Cannibal Village will no longer be the cocoon it once was if we let more people find this place."

 

Daenerys nodded in silent agreement and said, "I suppose we'll have to build at a much slower pace. There's not much that we can do against disappearing caravans, is there?"

 

She'd been fishing for more on that from the Red Woman, but all her attempts were fruitless. It was unsettling to know that a Faceless man or a warlock could slip into their settlement at anytime without anyone's notice.

 

"You have nothing to fear from that, I assure you. It was no more than an illusion. If it will ease your troubled mind, we could ride to Eastern Market. You told me that you flew your dragon there and the place is all but abandoned. Haunted even. You've sent scouts there repeatedly and the reports remain the same. And if anything does happen that needs physical intervention, you have the Dothraki, Jon's men and my warriors," the Red Woman assured her confidently.

 

"Hmm."

 

"I'm told Jon was attacked?" Kinvara asked.

 

"By four Dothraki boys, he said."

 

"Not even your lover is exempt from punishment if harm is perceived to come your way."

 

Something about the way her words led Daenerys to ask about a matter that had become a ceaseless cause of worry for her, "What about the Faceless Men? No one, but you and yours can perceive them."

 

Kinvara looked at her piercingly for a long time and finally said, "A life for a life."

 

When Kinvara had come back from Braavos, all she had told Daenerys was that they were all safe now. She didn't say what she did and didn't share the source of her confidence. Daenerys had asked if the Red Woman sacrificed someone to her god to make that happen and Kinvara had said no and they had left it at that. Today was the first time that the priestess was being unambiguous.

 

Dreading what she would hear, she asked, "Whose?"

 

"Your enemy. A wolf."

 

Daenerys balked at that. She knew without needing to be told that Kinvara meant Sansa, still she eschewed the very thought. Determined to deny it unless it was explicitly stated, she said, "I don't have--,"

 

"Sansa Stark. It had to be done," the Priestess said unyieldingly and without remorse.

 


 

Sansa Stark.

 

That name rang in head throughout the day bringing back a lifetime that she wished would stay buried. Jon coming to Dragonstone asking for her help. Her promise to Jon on the ship. Her arrival at Winterfell. The hostility of the North. Sansa's inhospitality. The losses of her armies. Seeing Jorah die in her arms. My name... my real name is Aegon Targaryen. Her plea to Jon not to say anything. Jon's rejection of her. Her men plotting behind her back because Jon told his family. Missandei and Rhaegal. The destruction of King's Landing. And finally, her life slipping away from her.

 

The images came to her in no particular order. Sometimes, they were a whisper and other times, they were a rushing stream of unwanted memories. In all of them, Jon was at the centre.

 

She thought of her sons and felt terror and foreboding. Her first instinct was to drive Jon as far away from them as possible. Until now, they had lived relatively protected; free of fear for their lives; free of loneliness; free of the pain that came with knowing one would always come second to ambition or duty or honour or family because they were only as good as their name or what people wanted from them.

 

At every impediment that she and Jon had met in the past, he picked his family over her. To the point that he thought she had to die so that they could live. And now, he would be faced with the same choice again. One that involved not only her, but the lives of her sons. So great was her fear that she could scarce recall arriving at her home and coming into her sons' sleeping quarters.

 

She blinked in confusion until the awareness of the familiarity of her surroundings settled in her. She would do anything to protect her family. In the most absurd twist of fate, the implications of that also meant Jon. In that instant, as much as she dreaded what he was capable of, she thought of how he was just as much a part of her life as he was a part of her sons. Something that she didn't think she had the will to sacrifice. She wanted to dwell on the periphery of what that meant, because peeling back the layers would reveal how weak she was. Still, she could not refute what was true: for as long as she could remember, the one constant in her life had been loneliness. There were a few gaps in time where she didn't feel so alone; when she embraced the Dothraki way of life and when she'd first accepted that Jon loved her. He seemed to have loved her for the person that she was with all that he could love her with and she'd reciprocated by giving him all of her. It wasn't an exchange of affections; it just... was. She'd felt whole and protected and safe with him in ways she'd never thought possible. So, when that had come to an abrupt end without so much as an explanation at the time and in the place that it did, that loneliness was no longer a silent companion, but a crushing weight. She'd been desperate for even a shadow of respite, but it never came. Instead what had come was a confirmation that she was only as good as the things that she had, not who she was. She feared being reminded of that again because this time, she'd been forewarned and this time, the pain would be greater. Yet, here she was years later: at a loss because she had let him mean more to her than she had ever intended. She was afraid of losing him. She was afraid of the devastation that his choice, that need to protect the Starks, would bring her and her sons. She was afraid for Jon himself and how much more broken he would be to make this choice again. Like her loneliness, death did nothing to stop how deeply she loved him. And as much as she feared for herself and her sons, she also feared for him. He was a good man with upright morals and he too was struggling to understand who he was again. She wanted to rage and curse, but time was fast spent and the only thing that she could now was look for a way out of it.

 

 


JON

 

After he'd given her the perfume he'd bought from the Lysene trader, she had taken to wearing it. Something that always made his heart a little bit fuller, but today, it wasn't so. The moment he met with her in her private audience chamber, the smell made his belly churn because something didn't quite feel right with her. She was taciturn. Cold even.

 

Slowly, he asked, "What is it?"

 

Her face giving nothing away, she looked at him directly and said, "Kinvara gave Sansa's name to the Faceless Men in exchange for mine and my sons."

 

"What?"

 

She raised her head in defiance and met his gaze unflinchingly, though she remained silent.

 

Nothing fucks you harder than time, Ser Davos loved to say. Nothing could have prepared him for this fortuitous turn of events.

 

"How long have you known this?" he asked in a tone that he hadn't meant to sound accusing.

 

"Today. And you don't have to wonder if I want her killed. I won't--"

 

"I haven't said that."

 

"You don't have to. It's clear to--"

 

"Daenerys, stop."

 

He had yet to gather his wits and until he found the right thing to say, all he could do was pace. He spared a look at her. She was completely shuttered from him.

 

"I won't let you hurt my sons," she said.

 

My sons. It was the second time that she had referred to them as such in the span of a short moment, deliberately removing any personal association he had with them.

 

"They're my sons too," he said forcefully. "I'd never harm them. I'm in here alone with you, aren't I? Why would you allow that if you're so threatened by me?"

 

"You chose your family in the throne room, remember?" she asked, whether it was in disregard for or avoidance of his own question, he didn't know.

 

He could feel that familiar ugliness and divide between them again. It never truly went away, but it had been quieted and pushed off farther away that sometimes, he forgot it was there. Images and memories from Winterfell and King's Landing crept through his mind, slithering and overshadowing the good memories that he'd painstakingly rebuilt. He stopped pacing and faced her.

 

"I didn't choose the Starks that day, Dany. I chose duty," he said solemnly, "I made a choice to save more innocent people who were at risk of dying because...,"

 

"...because of me," she finished quietly and remorsefully. "I can't do this again, Jon," she said, despair colouring her words. "I won't," she added more firmly.

 

He'd been puppeteered the day he killed her, but he didn't lay all the blame on Tyrion's feet. He'd been willfully blind and ultimately, he'd made that choice on his own.

 

He liked to fight, but he didn't like killing. He liked to fight because the enemy he exchanged blows with or swung his sword at, he could see. In those moments, the world and his woes grew silent, leaving nothing but the music of steel against steel. Those enemies had faces. This wall of distrust that he could feel growing, he had no skill to fight against. It was not an enemy that he could see nor one he could wrestle with.

 

He didn't know what to say to her because no matter what he said, she had already set her mind on what she thought he would do. Yes, he loved the Starks, but he had done all that a man could do to put them behind him, Sansa in particular. She had betrayed him and in her bid to rid herself of Daenerys, she had cost him everything and cast him aside when he was no longer useful to her. Yet, he didn't want her dead. She was one of the last reminders of the man who had raised him as a son. The man who had borne the shame of fathering a bastard, a choice that, to his dying day, had followed him around like a bad stench. He loved the Starks and he always would, but he also loved Daenerys. More than he loved anyone else. Her strength, her beauty, her sorrows, her resourcefulness, her temper, her intelligence, her unending capacity to love and all the things that made her who she was. But saying these things to her would be like sowing seeds on rocks: they wouldn't yield anything fruitful, only more doubt. More doubt that arose not just from the time he'd killed her, but all the happenings that had predated it; all the times that he had ceased being what she needed.

 

He could feel her consternation and resentment. He too felt resentment rise within him, but all of it would lead to nowhere so he gave her one last look and walked out without another word.

 


 

Immediately he left Daenerys, he went to find Kinvara. He rode quickly to the temple, but she wasn't to be found there so he set his course for her abode and took no time in dismounting his steed as soon as he rode into her courtyard.

 

The moment he saw her, he asked, "What did you do?"

 

"What I had to do. It was either Lady Stark or Daenerys and your sons. There's little you can do to stop it. For all we know, she is already dead. If she's not, then you don't have much of a choice but to expect the inevitable, do you? And if at all there is choice in this, will you betray Daenerys Stormborn again?"

 

"I didn't choose my family."

 

"No? Then it's time to right that wrong and stand behind your children and their mother," she said. "Will you betray Daenerys Stormborn again?" she repeated.

 


 

Will you betray Daenerys Stormborn again?

 

He was torn because none of this was right. Because, perforce, someone would find out and want to avenge Sansa. He could see it now; Bran, who could see all but only ever used his sight to stir the waters of trouble, would tell Arya who would stop at nothing to avenge Sansa. Someone else would want to avenge Daenerys and then the cycle of vengeance would never end.

 

He'd stayed away from Daenerys for several days since their last encounter because he didn't think she'd want to be around him. He knew he was a breathing reminder of the things that she feared the most and, after their spat, all she'd lost because of him. He'd also done it to avoid confrontation.

 

He wanted to see her, but what to say if he did, he didn't know. To forget or perchance, ignore the sinking feeling in his belly, he'd sparred with his men until all his muscles ached from overuse. It did nothing to calm his troubles. He'd thought of warging into Ghost, he hadn't had need for that in a long time, and he would have if Liram and Tormund hadn't persuaded him to hunt a hrakkar, a white lion peculiar to the Dothraki sea, with them.

 

It was dark now and they waited outside beside the fire while he readied himself and gathered his hunting weapons in his tent.

 

 


TORMUND

 

A red, orange and yellow ball of rage roared upward eating its way through the wooden pyramid at its base. Plumes of grey were buffeted into the night sky, carried aimlessly by the chilly wind. Ashen debris glided silently away from the smoke onto the hooves of the palfrey that had just ridden into their camp. Atop it sat the undeniable cause of Jon's unrest in recent times.

 

Eyes looking ahead at the tent, not sparing them any glance, she gave a quick nod in response to their greetings and asked where Jon was. Liram, smitten with her, was quick to answer and she thanked him before striding towards Jon's tent.

 

Whatever they had to say to each other would consume the time that Tormund could not spare so he clamped his hand on Liram's shoulder and got up to so he could walk to where his horse was. He could hear the sound of Liram's quick feet behind him.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

Don't be a fool twice, Daario had warned. If only she'd listened. In the days that she and Jon had... quarrelled, she'd done nothing but think and worry and reflect.

 

Since Kinvara's revelation, she had felt like there were eyes on the back of her head spying on her and plotting to kill her and hers. She remembered the treachery of Varys, Tyrion and Sansa. She'd be lying to herself if she didn't welcome the voice that basked at the thought of her enemies dying, but thoughts of Jon wouldn't even spare her that. And if Sansa had to die because of her, then it shouldn't be like this. Her heart broke at the thought of Jon having to choose the Starks again. Regardless of what he said about choosing duty, they had factored into that choice, she believed. He said he killed her to save people but the only people he really saved were those who were spokes on the wheel and the Starks were situated comfortably at the top of that wheel. She thought of the pain of losing family that she had suffered and no matter that his had cast her aside, she didn't want that loss for him. She thought about her sons and although reason demanded that she keep them away from him, there was a place in her heart that was convicted beyond doubt that he would never hurt them.

 

Her fears, her love and her longing for him were what made her seek him out this night. Now she stood at the entrance of his tent, tentative. She willed her heart to be still, but it was to no avail. Steeling herself with purposeful resolve, she pushed the canvas aside and let herself in.

 

"I'll be out shortly," he said gruffly without looking back. He was tying something on the table and adjusting the lantern so that he could see better.

 

Without a word, she walked up to him and wrapped her arms around his waist, placing her forehead between his shoulder blades. She felt him grow still and carefully drop the bundle in his hands. When his hands came up to hers, she was taken back to the night in the crypts of Winterfell. That moment had been the beginning of the end, but mayhaps it didn't have to be so this time.

 

"I don't know what else to do, Dany," he said in a voice that made her heart ache for him. "I know you cannot trust me and I'm not asking that you do, but I'm being true to you. I'm relieved that you and our sons are safe."

 

She swallowed, "But?"

 

"Eddard Stark... Because of him... He would have...," he trailed off and took a deep breath. "I don't know what is right anymore," he admitted quietly.

 

She didn't understand what he was trying to say, but she understood the conflict within himself. She had no answers for herself, much less him, so she pressed a kiss to his back instead. He rubbed her the length of her forearm in response. She didn't know how long they stayed that way until he turned around and took her face in his hands to kiss her. It was a sweet kiss, almost virginal. She could feel his uncertainties so she deepened the kiss, to mayhaps give him and herself some kind of assurance? She was yet unsure. She pushed her tongue past his lips and stroked his tongue, eliciting a moan from him. He held her tighter, almost crushingly.

 

She pulled back from the kiss to study his face. There was pain there. His hair was loose and shorter, making him look more youthful. Giving in to her indulgence, she ran her hands through his curls, pushing them back away from his face. She pushed against his chest until he released her and led him by his hand to his pallet, pushing him gently until he sat down. Kneeling between his legs, the urge to feel his skin burned through her so she pushed her hands through his tunic and scraped her nails against his scars. He threw his head back, flinching when she touched his new chest wound. When withdrew her hands, he pulled his tunic over his head. She bent her head between his legs to kiss his bulging member and he gripped her hair. He lifted her head up, unlaced his breeches and pulled them down, kicking them away after toeing his boots off his feet. Completely naked now, he held her gaze. Unable to do the same now for reasons unbeknownst to her, she averted her eyes and, instead, focused them on his stiff member. She wanted to lick him down there, but she found that she wanted to feel him in her even more so she impatiently undressed herself while he reached for her to touch her all over. She could feel herself get slicker in her nether regions. He shifted back to accommodate her when she sat on him and stroked his hard length before guiding him into her, their moans filling the dimly lit tent.

 

With one hand slung over his shoulder so that it was holding the back of his head and the other hand on the side of his face to hold him steady for a deep kiss, she began to move.

 

 


JON

 

She was moving too slowly for him so he held her hips and thrust sharply into her. Her watched her eyes roll back and he did it again.

 

Restless now, he grabbed her thighs and he hoisted her up by her arse, standing still so that he could wrap her legs around him before laying down with her on the pallet.

 

Her hands clung loosely to his neck as he began to push further into her.

 

He looked down at her and she averted her eyes. Again.

 

She's trying to shield herself from me. He thought bitterly when she wouldn't meet his eyes. Whenever she did hold his gaze, he could see glimpses of her love for him and the apprehension that always found its way between them in the most unwanted times.

 

Chagrined, he removed her hands from his neck and placed them above her head, shackling her small wrists in the hold of one hand. With the other hand, he gripped her waist, blunt finger tips digging into her skin.

 

Awash with deep affection for her and anger at this new conundrum, he began to pound into her, each slamming motion of his hips drawing a matching whimper from her. He bent his head to capture her mouth in a bruising kiss and bit into her bottom lip, gently pulling it with his teeth before he released it. He kissed her again, this time softly, mouthing the words, "I love you" against her lips. Not that she believed him.

 

She pressed him further into her with her legs and he soon felt her body grow taut. He swallowed sounds of release and kept on fucking her until he came to his own release. Head buried in her neck, he let out with a guttural sound as he emptied himself into her.

 

He felt the sheen of sweat between their bodies as they struggled to recuperate. She wiggled her wrists out of his now loose hold and he remained atop her for a few moments longer before he rolled onto his back, his cock slipping out of her and leaving a trail of the wetness of their coupling on her lap.

 

They both lay awake in silence long after that.

 

"I love you, Dany," he said finally. "I'd never... I wouldn't hurt you nor would I hurt our sons."

 

He didn't know why he felt the need to repeat the same thing again. Maybe he needed to hear it himself, but even to his own ears, those words rang hollow in light of promises that he'd failed to keep in times past.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

"I love you, Dany. I'd never... I wouldn't hurt you nor would I hurt our sons."

 

She wanted to say the words back to him, but they were stuck on her tongue. It was the first time he'd said it without caring if she was awake. One time before, he'd tried, but she'd stopped him. There were times she pretended to be asleep when Jon professed his love for her. She was thankful for the ebbing light from the lantern and that they lay not facing each other because if his face held the same sincerity as his voice, she might believe him and if she did...

 

A sudden inordinate compulsion to be with her children overcame her.

 


 

 

She waited until she heard Jon's soft snores before she left his tent.
As soon as she got into her home, she washed and then went to wake Daeron and Jaehaerys up, ushering them to her chambers as they trudged sleepily ahead of her. When she had them all settled in, she hugged them tight and thought of what to do next.

 

The stars had disappeared into into the morning skies when she finally came to a decision.

 


 

"You're going to fly to the House of the Black and White," Kinvara repeated.

 

Drogon thrummed beside them. She'd invited the Red Woman here to Drogon's lair because she didn't want to risk being apprehended by her warriors when Daenerys told her what her intentions were nor did she want the Priestess to use any sorcery on her. Kinvara wasn't like Jorah or Daario. Although she did respect and honour Daenerys, she would defy Daenerys if it meant obeying her god.

 

When Daenerys didn't answer, she said, "You're being foolish. What's done is done. What can you do?"

 

"Something," she said, getting angry now.

 

"Sansa could be dead now. In your place, do you think that she would do the same for you? Let her die."

 

"I'm not doing it for her."

 

"No. You're doing it to take the choice away from Jon so it never comes down to the Starks or your children. Or you."

 

Daenerys didn't bother to deny any of it.

 

"Is there anything I can do to dissuade you from leading yourself to certain death, because I don't see how else this will end. What about Daeron and Jaehaerys? What happens to them when their mother never comes back?"

 

"Your lord won't let me lose my life. He seems to be fond of me," Daenerys tried to joke, even though Kinvara's words were like poison to her resolve. "You won't let anything happen to them," she said in a more serious tone.

 

At the Red Woman's silence, she asked her to tell her all that she needed to know about Kinvara's time in the House of Black and White. A demand the Priestess reluctantly complied to. Satisfied with her newfound knowledge, she turned abruptly so that she could mount Drogon.

 

"The Lord of Light shine upon you, Daenerys Stormborn," Kinvara said.

 

She smiled at the Red Woman and to Drogon, she commanded, "Sōvegon."

 

 


JON

 

It wasn't every day that he saw Daenerys, but it was unusual to not see her anywhere around their settlement for these many successive days, especially around their sons.

 

After the night that she had come to him, he'd woken up to see that he was all alone in his tent. He felt her absence, but he also felt much more better than he had in days. He had been thinking of Arya and what she would do in this given circumstance. She had trained with the Faceless Men and although she was no longer who she used to be as a child, his Arya, the little girl who had adored him, was still in there. Faceless Men were still men, after all, and all men had a price.

 

He wanted to deliberate on the matter with Daenerys, but it was like she had vanished. So, he went to the woman who was at the heart of this very misfortune.

 


 

"Jon Snow," Kinvara said in greeting.

 

"Daenerys?" he asked.

 

"She's gone to Braavos to treat with the Faceless Men."

 

Terror curled up inside him and silent noise that sounded in his ears blocked out the rest of what the Red Woman was saying. The helplessness he'd felt when he'd seen Rickon's dead body drop at his feet, the same one he'd felt when Kings Landing was being destroyed, it was the same one he felt now.

 

"How could you let that happen?!" he accused acerbically. "Why didn't you stop her?"

 

"When have you ever known Daenerys to suffer the whims of anyone who she thinks would stand in her way?"

 

What she said was true, yet Jon couldn't stop the anger that was stoked by unbidden images of Daenerys' corpse lying somewhere in Braavos. He was angry at himself, he was angry at Kinvara, he angry at the Starks and Tyrion. He was especially angry at Daenerys for this recklessness that could mean the end of her life. The irony of his anger at her be damned.

 

"Look into the fire, then. Tell me what you see," he demanded.

 

"She's still alive. For now," Kinvara said.

 

"How do you know?"

 

"Because the Lord--,"

 

"Fuck your lord. Look!"

 

His hand went to his sword when her soldiers moved in on him, but she spoke to them in a tongue that he didn't understand. They stopped advancing on him and she repeated, "She's alive."

 

With his hand still on the direwolf pommel, he looked around and stormed out.

Chapter Text

YARA

 

You may dress an ironborn in silks and velvets, teach him to read and write and give him books, instruct him in chivalry and courtesy and the mysteries of the Faith, but when you look into his eyes, the sea will still be there, cold and grey and cruel.

—writings of Haereg.

 

After the losses that the Westermen had dealt them at Lannisport, the Ironborn were in need of supplies. The closest port that they could attack was Deepwood Motte, the Seat of House Glover. Yara remembered all those years ago when Theon had led them through these parts. They had taken the castle, but many of her her men had suffered and either died by sickness or by Ramsay Bolton's hand. It was a miserable memory. The more recent memory, however, made her smirk. A wooden pisspot on a hill, Theon had called Deepwood Motte. Apt. And also very advantageous to her and her men. Deepwood was an old but not particularly strong castle. Its longhall sat on a hill with a flattened top, along with a watchtower rising fifty feet higher, the tallest object this side of the northern mountains. It was defended by a ditch, earthen dike, and palisade of logs. Its mossy outer walls did nothing to protect it from the Ironborn. It was a good raid. They had made away with weapons and food. She had stopped her men from raping the women. Some of her spies that she sent forth to the North several moons ago to map out the layout of their path as well as glean any useful information that they could get reported back to her that House Glover had fallen out of favour with the Starks so even if they sent word for help, that help might be slow to come especially considering that the North was in its most weakened state than it had been in centuries. Still, Deepwood Motte was but a stepping stone, for her sights were set on White Harbor, the harbor city of the North. They boasted that it had never been attacked by the Ironborn. She was about to rewrite history.

 


 

She let out a breath of relief when they passed the last empty crofters village. These northerners and their strange ways. They advanced their journey at night and in those nights, it felt like they were walking in a hall were they were paraded before white eyes and menacing crooked trees whose leaves dances in such a mesmerizing manner that they almost seemed like waves in the sea and the wolves in the woods howled to pay homage to the moon. She didn't like it. They were leaving all of that behind now. There was death in the air. They had passed quite a few rotting corpses. She had sent men to steal boats and even more to wait for her in White Harbor and blend into their surroundings until they saw her signal to attack. Her heart hummed in anticipation. White Harbor would soon pay the iron price.

 


 

"What is dead may never die!" she cried.

 

"But rises again, harder and stronger!" the voices of her men rang out.

 

The sack of White Harbour was swift and merciless, augmenting the wins for the Ironborn. A thousand Ironborn invaded the city. They hadn't all come to the North at once. In small groups they settled in and spied on different Northern towns, waiting until she sent word before they left unobtrusively to join her either on the road or by boat until their numbers grew in strength. While most of them fought and killed the inhabitants of White Harbor, some of them had apprehended ships anchored on the docks, ready to set sail at her command.

 

She hacked an old knight and smiled as his body went limp in her hands, breathing in the sharp and salty scent of the city. It smelled of the sea. Would that they could take these lands, she thought wistfully. The need for more northern land would only be detrimental. She'd learned from the first time that they attacked Winterfell several years before. She didn't have the men to hold the lands.

 


 

She caught the spear that one of her men threw at her and nodded her thanks. It was a beauty. One of the spoils of their raid. She had lost close to half her men, but the victory was still in her hands. They had gotten more than they had set out to take. Now, they sailed for Dorne. They had taken ten ships. Most of her men that she had left at Pyke, she'd told to set sail from the west for Dorne. Starfall in particular, the Seat of House Dayne. They would all converge there and march to Sunspear.

 

She knew that her attack had only set to sour relations between the North and the rest of the kingdoms, but she didn't care. They didn't deserve to be an independent kingdom. Quelling her bitterness, she focused her attention on the war that was at hand. In a matter of time, they would depose the crippled king.

 

 

 

DAENERYS

 

There was something nostalgic about the Titan roar and the cheers of the crowd that followed. A memory that kept slipping through her mind, one that made her feel safe. It was odd. She had spent her earliest years in Braavos, but she couldn't remember most of it save for the ones that had left their mark. She wrapped innermost self in that safety she felt from so long ago and drew strength from it. High above the city in the thick of the night, she could see the streets lit by torches and full of people throwing things in the air. The atmosphere was alight with celebration, abandon and lewdness. That much she could see from atop her black. Drogon soared silently as she guided him to the rocky knoll where the Temple of the Many-Faced god sat, the House of Black and White, it was called. It was hard to miss.

 

Drogon landed with a soft thud by the steps rising to meet imposing doors of black and white. Save for a few people who had fled when Drogon landed, these parts were empty. She climbed down from her dragon's back and walked towards the entrance of the temple. On her way in, a hand with gnarled fingers grabbed her wrist. Her panic caused Drogon to inch further, but the old man who was dressed in musty clothes looked like a blind beggar. He smiled at her through those milky eyes and pressed a coin firmly into her hand.

 

"Valar Morghulis," he said and hobbled slowly down the stairs.

 

Too startled to say anything back, she looked at the coin, but when she looked back at the man, she saw nothing but the night and Drogon's piercing eyes. Shaken and disturbed, she hurried in, looking this way and that to make sure that she was alone. She feared to think that harm could come to Drogon who was out in the open so she sent him a command through their bond to fly and wait until she sent for him. She felt like a fool embarking on this mission. Risking her life to save Sansa's. But it wasn't about Sansa. I'm doing this for my sons. And my people. That was as much as she was willing to let herself admit for the sake of her dignity. Yet, Jon's face also danced before her eyes.

 

She tried not to wince at the grating noise that the great doors made when they creaked open. Walking in, she blinked until her eyes were accustomed to the dimness. Some worshippers lit candles to their god, then drank from the pool using a stone cup. She peered at sleeping bodies lying on the alcoves.

 

"These ones sleep until they sleep forever," a gentle, soothing voice told her.

 

She spun at the sound of the voice and stood face to face with a being that had a yellow skull with scraps of skin hanging from it and a white worm coming out of an eye hole. The first thing she felt was fright and the need to run, but she stood her ground. She had faced death in more than one form and she had escaped its lifeless grip. This was just another manifestation of death, she told herself as her fear ebbed away. The worm slipped out of its eye and when the creature pushed it back in, its face changed into a face so kind, she wondered if this was what Maester Aemon, whom Jon had told her of, looked like.

 

He gave her what could only be an apologetic grandfatherly smile and took her hand to pat it comfortingly.

 

"What brings you here, child."

 

Narrowing her eyes suspiciously, she slipped her hand out of his and was about to speak when he gave her a gentle push on her back to follow him. Her eyes went to some people pouring some liquids into the fountain and he said;

 

"A religious order refills the fountain with a poison, so that drinking from the fountain leads to a painless death. It's called 'the gift'." Pointing to some alcoves, he said, "Dreaming couches. You see those special candles? They bring visions of the past, for a sweet and gentle death. When a body is found--,"

 

"Only death may pay for life," she cut in, ending the unwanted stream of knowledge.

 

"This is true. Whose death do you seek?"

 

She whispered a name to him and he laughed out loud.

 

"Very well," he replied. "Stay here."

 

She stood there for what seemed to be hours before she saw a man swagger in her direction.

 

"Daenerys Targaryen," he said loudly to no one in a Lorathi accent, her name echoing in the dark halls. To her, he said, "A man has said a queen's name to all who would hear so that should she request for a man's death, the price for her life would be a man's death."

 

Clever.

 

"What is it you want of a man?" this new stranger asked charmingly.

 

"It appears you thought this through more thoroughly than I did."

 

"A man has had... experience," he said amicably.

 

"Don't kill Sansa Stark."

 

"A queen you might be, but not even a queen gets to decide who lives or dies."

 

"You'd be surprised. Spare her life."

 

"A price has already been paid and we will grant the gift of death to the Stark girl."

 

"And what of her sister, Arya Stark of Winterfell? Word has it that you spared her life."

 

"That was a different matter. She had to kill the pretender who thought himself death."

 

"I, too, fought that in that war against death, saving many lives," she said fiercely.

 

"And what of the lives in King's Landing?" he asked amusedly.



Guilt and shame seared through her, but she responded, "Then it is apparent that I have served your god better than you ever can by giving him those many lives, one of which he can spare Sansa's life for."

 

"Would that it were that easy. The price paid for Sansa Stark is a sacrament to the many-faced god."

 

"It can't be that sacred if you still stand here when your name has been given, can it? Surely, there is--,"

 

"A queen can give her life in exchange once more. That was the natural order of things before. But take heed for a queen will never see death coming and a queen will have to watch over her shoulder in fear for her life for as long as she has it."

 

 


DAENERYS

 

The moment he suggested her death, she sent a command to Drogon who now hovered above the temple, poised to burn it to the ground if harm came her way.

 

"No," she said calmly, although her heart beat at a different pace.

 

At the sound of Drogon's roar, she could feel the air around her become maleficent; it felt like people she couldn't see were slinking around her. Like they wanted her to know that her life was in their hands just as much as their lives were in hers. The hall grew silent, but it was a silence filled with inquietude. She felt the coin the blind beggar had given her burn in the palm of her hand and she tried something different. She stretched out her hand and gave him the coin.

 

"Valar Morghulis."

 

"How did a queen get this?"

 

"A... friend," she said carefully, her voice inflecting the words so that what she said almost sounded like a question.

 

"Hmm."

 

"What can I buy with it?"

 

 


JAQEN H'GHAR

 

He enjoyed playing games with people and Daenerys was a welcome challenge. It had been passed onto each new novice, the history of this guild. It was said to be founded by the man, a former slave, who brought about the Doom of her ancestors in Old Valyria. Her argument was impassioned, but the coin did a far greater job in convincing him to offer a compromise. The old man had given it to her to honour her for her fight against slavery. That was what Faceless Men guild was founded on and that is why Braavos stood proud and tall today.

 

He smiled, still inspecting the coin and said, "The life cannot be taken from the many-faced god. There shall always be a price on Sansa Stark's head. However, before anyone is sent to take that life, a girl shall always be forewarned and may escape." Then he looked at her. With the coin lodged between the two of his fingers he raised to tip his head at her and said, "Valar Dohaeris."

 

He noted her expression soften a tad before he faded back into shadows.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

It was dawn by the time she was ready to leave. Someone who seemed to be a priest led others in prayer, as they kneeled around the black pool. People in cowled robes, black on the right side and white on the left, shuffled around the temple. Servants wearing a tunics of undyed wool, baggy breeches, and cloth slippers cleaned the hall or carried dead bodies away to a secret to a secret room.

 

She marched out, not bothering to look back when she heard that kind grandfatherly voice say her name with a chuckle.

 

 

 

KINVARA

 

She had that recurring vision again, but this time, she when she saw centuries into the future, she saw a black banner with a red three-headed dragon stitched on it flying beside a white and black banner that looked like the front doors of the House of the Undying. This lone banner had on it, a single dragon that faded into a wolf head. A white wolf head. Beside these bannermen, she saw the faithful fighting beside them against the enemy; red cloaks beside red and black armour against a foe so great, even though all she saw when she looked at the enemy was the Black Wall of Volantis. She was still trying to make sense of it when it all faded away.

 

 


JON

 

For the past fortnight, he couldn't sleep peacefully. Each time he closed his eyes, he saw Daenerys' corpse in the throne room... except the throne room was the streets of Braavos which looked exactly like the burning streets of King's Landing. He always awoke with a start. Always, his heart slammed against his ribs in dread whenever he regained consciousness. His sons could sense his fear too because they too had grown sober in the days following their mother's departure and asked after her increasingly.

 

He gave no heed to the voice that kept reminding him that he had killed her too. All he could hone his attention on was her safety. It was no different on this sunny day. He kept thinking of ways that he could look for her while also ensuring that their sons were safe, when he heard shouts of excitement and people pointing upwards. Drogon's large shadow swallowed the farm. Jon could feel the hope and panic scorch through him as he rode towards the dragon; hope that she was alive, panic that the beast had come back, carrying her lifeless body in its talons.

 

He didn't have to ride very far. Drogon landed a quarter of a league away from the farm. Jon could feel his bones become liquid with relief when he saw a palehaired head peer over the dragon's shoulder. And then he felt a surge of anger ripple through him at her.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

She was smiling faintly at some old forgotten memory when she heard footsteps approach her. When she had arrived earlier in the day, the Dothraki had ridden in chase when they saw her dragon, but not before a lone horseman had followed Drogon first. Jon. He'd stayed back while her people swarmed her. She hadn't seen him again since that time until now. It was dark now and she had come to enjoy her solitude by the lake after she'd spent ample time with her sons, who, in contrast to their father, were ecstatic to see her.

 

She spared him a glance. From where she stood, she could see his barely contained anger at her.

 

"You could have died," he said without preamble in a gravelly voice.

 

"I didn't," she answered softly.

 

"Of course," he replied with a tight smile, his brows furrowing.

 

 


JON

 

"Are you--,"

 

"What in seven hells were you thinking, Daenerys?" he interrupted. "Did you ever think what would happen to Daeron and Jaehaerys if something had happened to you?! What about your people here? What about the ones in Meereen?" What about me? But he didn't... couldn't ask that because of how hypocritical it all was. Hypocritical or not, he couldn't help how he was feeling, how utterly afraid he'd been and how his deep relief at her safety had given way for the bright hot anger he felt right now.

 

When she opened her mouth to answer, he cut her off and said, "I was never going to choose Sansa or the Starks over you or our sons. I just needed some time to get my bearings, but I wanted us to work through all of it together. And if there was no way where bloodshed was avoidable, then that would have been her misfortune. For all we knew and still know, Sansa might already be dead. You're not, but you put that at risk for something uncertain."

 

He had so much to say to her, but the words were coming out too slowly to articulate all he had to say satisfactorily. He sized her form; he wanted to put his hands all over her, first to see if she had gained any wounds in the House of Black and White and next to hold her tightly against him, but he was too angry to move.

 

"I and one of the Faceless Men charged with killing her came to an agreement," she said calmly. "Your sister will always get word that someone is coming to kill her to give her enough time to prepare or escape. I don't exactly know how any of that will work, but it was the best that I could do."

 

That meant Sansa was still alive, but Sansa wasn't the object of his attention at the moment. It was the woman before him whose silver hair glowed in the moonlight. The same one that he loved. He wanted to tell her again that there was no way he would ever side with people who had cast him away over her who had and still did love him and that there was no choice at all when it came down to her and the Starks because he would always choose her, but he knew that it would take a long time, if at all, for him to convince her so instead, he said;

 

"I drew a plan for a squat house. It's a little distance from here," he motioned his hand in a sweeping gesture.

 

She grew curious so he continued, "Brick walls, a hearth, a few chambers. I was planning that a thatched roof be built over it, but that won't do. A home is supposed to feel safe and sturdy, hmm?"

 

He could see her eyes roam his face questioningly so he took her hand and went on, "I didn't know that lemon seeds from Dorne cost a small fortune in these parts. I'll pluck the lemons from your trees or the ones around our settlement and dry the seeds so that I can plant them when the house is ready."

 

Her face was softening now.

 

"As many windows as they can fit into that house, I'll tell the builders to make provision for. Someone once told me that riding dragons makes one appreciate open spaces more. The house will have two or three doors. Most of them will be bare except one: the front door. I'll paint it red."

 

Her eyes widened at that and he took advantage of her surprise by enveloping her in a tight embrace. It was what he had wanted to do since she'd landed Drogon earlier in the day.

 

"I'm sorry," she said quietly, arms around his waist.

 

"Heroes do stupid things and they die. Remember you told me that days after I regained consciousness on our way from Eastwatch?"

 

She pushed against his chest so she could look at him, "I'm no hero, Jon."

 

"You are," he said with conviction. "You are," he repeated before he bent his head to kiss her.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

After he'd kissed her, they walked back to her home in silence with Jon leading the way. Now they lay naked facing each other. They had undressed each other, but their need for skin contact had nothing to do with indulging carnal appetites and everything to do with seeking comfort in each other so all they did after undressing was just lie down and soak in each other's presence.

 

"Don't do that again," Jon said in a manner that was both pleading and reprimanding, tucking some strands of her hair behind her ear and then running his knuckles down her cheek.

 

"I love you."

 

He looked surprised by her admission.

 

Of course she loved him. How could she not? Once she had opened herself to loving him, there had never been a question of if she did not. Truth be told, it was how much she loved him and what she was willing to do or not do because she loved him that frightened her. Love that came with that kind of fear had the potential to destroy everything in its path like it once had and as much as she did love him, it wasn't the right way to love him. The paradox was that she didn't know any other way to love him.

 

He was asking her not to rush head first into danger, but she wouldn't make promises that she couldn't keep. She would always put herself in harm's way for the people she loved and sought to protect. It wasn't something that she could stop herself from doing anymore than he could stop himself from his willingness to die saving people even if those people were complete strangers to him. She leaned forward to kiss him and he drew her close until she was burrowed as closely as she could possibly be in his embrace. He thought her a hero. She wished she were because a hero would know what to do about the unsettling feeling she'd had since she left the House of Black and White. She could feel it as much as she could feel anything that trouble was not far away.

 

 


MAESTER WOLKAN

 

He examined the bloated body in the godswood. This was the second one that they had found around the castle. They had both been surrounded by crows plucking out their eyes and clawing their belly regions to feed on their entrails. It was gruesome. Even more mysterious was that they found similar coins on the bodies. He couldn't tell where the coins were from. He considered it no more than a mere curiosity. Mayhaps, if they found a third body, he would take the matter to Queen Sansa. She had more than enough things to worry about. In the wake of the attack on White Harbor, they were even more disadvantaged than before. At the beginning of their independence, they had been able to manage the mild famine that hit their kingdom, but things had taken a turn for worse. In addition to the dearth of food and game on their lands, the already exorbitantly high taxes on food and goods from the Six Kindgoms had gone even higher. She had sent word to Bran and Tyrion Lannister for any aid that they could deliver. Word that he hoped would yield something beneficial.

Chapter Text

SAMWELL

"Oh, but it's not alchemy versus magic, father. I think that it's best to look at it this way: one is an expression of magic and the other is a manipulation of magic," Little Sam said before having another bite of his meal.

Sam looked at his son with great pride and asked, "Is that right? So you think that necromancy is an expression of magic, do you?"

"Well... I'm not well versed in necromancy and in one of the volumes of the books of Archmaester Marwyn, he wrote that--,"

"FATHER!" his daughter yelled and ran to him. He stood up and caught her in a warm embrace, twirling her around and basking in her delight at seeing him. He had missed his family so.

Her mother and she had been away running some errands about the part of the city that was undestroyed so when he had returned from the seventh hell that most people called Oldtown, he hadn't seen them. Now, here they were, looking so pleased to see him. When Gilly got to him, he pulled her in for an embrace and turned a bit red at the giggles of his children when he kissed her. He still wasn't very comfortable being this openly affectionate with her even after all these years because there were times that he felt like that green boy who had been lovestruck at the Wall all those years ago.

"It's good to see you, Sam," she told him, beaming at him. He grinned back at her and watched her answer their children who were now asking her questions.

All three of them, his family, were chattering away happily and seeing them this way eased his unseen wound some. He'd wanted to go to Horn Hill first and then send for them, but he couldn't stand to be around the Reach at the moment. His House wasn't particularly liked after his father had fought for Cersei and betrayed Lady Olenna. It was such nonsense and hypocrisy; not many of them had stood up for Lady Olenna. At least his father had taken a stand, albeit the wrong one. It was that decision that had cost him his life, Dickon's life and those of the faithful bannermen who served under him. A choice that had led to all of this. He grimaced and shook his head at Gilly who just noticed his troubled look. It made no matter: what was done, was done. Regardless that he was no longer grandmaester, he was still the Lord of Horn Hill. A minor lord, but a lord, nonetheless. He had his name, he had amassed wealth and he wielded a considerable amount of power. All of which he would use to protect his family. He had yet to meet with the rest of the Small Council. It had been agreed upon that he would continue to meet with them until arrangements for the new grandmaester had been made and settled. That was a trouble for another day. Right now, all that mattered were the only ones who mattered to him.


 

"Father?"

"Hmm?"

"Can I be a maester like you? I want to study at the Citadel. Sam said that only the greatest men can go there."

His daughter's chin was on his chest atop folded arms while Gilly snored lightly beside them. She still hadn't completely given up the habit of sneaking into their chambers in the middle of the night to cuddle in between Gilly and himself. In her defense, their efforts at stopping her were half-arsed at best. She was still a wee one, after all, Gilly liked to say.

"I suppose so."

"Piper said that girls can't go to the Citadel. That's a lie, isn't it father?"

Damn, Piper. He was a scullion's son that was a year or two older than she was. He was right, but the whole notion of it was wrong. Knowledge wasn't meant to be hoarded by old goats who didn't know anything about anything. "It's... The Citadel, you see, is good, but libraries are better."

"Really?" she looked up at him with so much hope in her eyes. She had his heart, this one. Whatever he said was the law in her eyes. She wanted to be a maester because that's what he was. Or rather what he used to... was supposed to be.

"Really," he affirmed and nodded for good measure. "You tell Piper I said so."

"I will! I'll be the best maester there ever was," she said sleepily.

"It's time to go to bed, sweetling."

Her eyes flew open and she shook her head in protest.

"Selsa," he warned gently.

She smiled at him very sweetly and asked, "Just this once, father?"

He had lost count of how many times she'd said that. It would happen again after this night. He held back his laugh and said, "Alright. But this is the last time. You're almost a woman grown."

She giggled and shuffled away from him so that she could curl up beside her mother. He gave both their heads kisses and blew out the light beside him. In the dark of the night, with no one to see him look ill, he thought of the future and all that would happen henceforth. Something inevitably bad was coming and he had to prepare himself well. This manse had become home to his family, but they would have to leave it all behind for the time being. The safest place right now, was Horn Hill and returning there with his family was a precautionary measure, but first, he would have to come to an agreement Small Council. He didn't have many powerful friends. He had some friends in the Vale with whom he had fought against the Night King, but the Vale was notoriously passive whenever the rest of the kingdoms squabbled and Lord Yohn Royce had passed on so he wasn't counting on them for anything. There was also the Small Council, but that list of allies had grown smaller. Still, whatever power that they could come up with together would certainly be advantageous to them.

He didn't know how long he lay awake worrying until he looked out of his window and saw the day begin to brighten.

Another day, another vicissitude, he sighed resignedly to himself.

 


MAESTER WOLKAN

"What does it say?" Queen Sansa asked him, looking out the window and rubbing her neck ornament with nervous fingers.

"Nothing good, I'm afraid, Your Grace." When she looked at him, he added, "Your cousin, the young Lord Arryn, sends his regrets. There's nothing that the Vale can do to help us."

She nodded and gave a half-smile, "Of course."

She turned abruptly and walked to her table to pick up a glass of wine. It was one of the small pleasures that she allowed herself. Actually, it was the only pleasure that she could allow herself. The people, nobles and smallfolk alike, had risen against her in anger. Anger fueled by the hunger that was widespread in the Northern Kingdom. Where people once praised her for claiming their independence, there were now murmurs and denunciations against her saying that she had doomed them all. What had started as a mild famine had grown into something that they hadn't quite anticipated or thought through. Or perhaps they had taken into account that her brother was king of the remaining six kingdoms so they would still enjoy certain privileges. Not so, for they had been sorely mistaken. The price of food had risen so high that there were whispers of men selling themselves to slavers from Volantis just so they could afford to feed their families. Some families had begun to migrate to the other kingdoms of Westeros, but most were met unkindly; turned back at toll points or asked to pay what they could not afford. One would think that they hadn't all been the part of one realm not so long ago. It grew even worse when one considered that they were truly isolated from everyone else. Their ties to the Vale had grown thinner since the death of Lord Yohn Royce. Edmure Tully, the queen's uncle, was rumoured to be dead. There was no love lost between the North and any other part of the Six Kingdoms. On the other hand, now the queen knew those who were the most loyal to her. Big Bucket, Chief of the Wull clan, had sent support once he heard of the Ironborn invasion. He had a special hatred for that lot. He'd also sent the young and some women from their clan to Winter town in hopes of their survival. The Manderlys, though disgruntled and perhaps, remained loyal as well. He was sure that there were some other houses like the Reeds, but many houses and their lords were beginning to go public with their discontent for the queen.

The queen was doing the best she could. However, an intention, no matter how well-meaning, without the right fruits to show for it, was as good as nothing at all. But he didn't dare speak that thought out loud. There were already rumours that the Citadel would start to charge each castle, keep or holdfast from the North that wanted a new maester a form of payment because they weren't a part of the Six Kingdoms anymore. Everyone was looking to exploit the North either by extortion or by reaving. And there was the matter of the mysterious deaths that plagued Winterfell. Death by ravens was so out of the ordinary that the people thought the queen accursed. At first, they had been few and far between. He'd thought it curious, but nothing *that serious*, then the deaths became more frequent and each one was closer to the Great Keep.

All these things had burdened the queen to such a degree that she had grown thinner. Or perhaps it was because there wasn't adequate food to feed them within the castle walls. They still had a few goats, sheep and cattle along with some chicken and withering crops of wheat, but those were more valuable than gold and silver now.

"Any word from the Kings Landing yet? Bran? Tyrion?" she asked hopefully.

"Nothing," he responded and watched a muscle twitched at the corner of her right eye, her mouth forming a rigid grimace. With arms folded tightly across her chest, she tapped her fingers anxiously on the glass, all the while staring out of the window. He didn't enjoy being the harbinger of bad news, but she had to know what he needed to tell her;

"We... found--,"

"Another dead body? I'm aware. One of the guards informed me this morning." She took a sip of wine and looked into her glass, "Mayhaps, someone wants me dead. Mayhaps, it's Bran? He's the one with the close affinity to ravens and...," she trailed off and sighed. "No. The pack survives."

He couldn't tell her that the number of villagers camped outside the castle walls was increasing daily at an alarming rate and that more lords had barred their gates to keep villagers away so that they could feed the mouths within their castles. He didn't tell her that though the pack survives, the lone wolf dies.

 


YARA

"Lady Greyjoy," a stout woman with trunks for arms greeted her as they both stood amidst the painted silken banners of House Martell and House Wyl and the more roughly stitched banners of House Greyjoy. She had a very pretty face and her dimpled smile only added to that loveliness. "I'm Wylla Wyl. Welcome to Dorne. The Prince sends his apologies for not meeting you himself. You'll be our guest for the night and then we'll head for Sunspear on the morrow."

Yara looked around and nodded her thanks. "Well met. The name's Yara. Any word of my men who set sail from the Iron Islands?"

"They're already at Sunspear. They arrived almost a moon turn ago and have been Prince Moran's... eh... guests."

Relieved and amused, Yara chuckled at that. "They're not giving you lot too much trouble, I hope."

"No more than we can handle," Wylla smiled.

"Good. Lead the way then, Wylla."


"I want leaders who are suited to managing a war, in the field I want leaders who are dedicated to preparing and planning for the next battle, but are worldly enough to see the big picture," the Dornish Prince said.

"You haven't been to a war of this magnitude since Robert's Rebellion," Yara said.

"And that's why we will be well prepared. Yara, you say you have all the ships you need, yes?"

She nodded.

"The Iron Fleet will block ships from leaving Blackwater Bay."

"All our ships?"

"Yes. But some of your men will march with us to the Capital on land. We need as many men--,"

"--and women," Wylla Wyl added and Yara smiled.

"--as possible. Yes, Wylla, and women who are capable. Lord Edric Dayne, you will be among those who stay behind to help govern the affairs of Dorne. I've sent mummers, hedge knights, bards, sailors, whores and everyone who I can send to spread the word that the crippled king is a false king. In every inn, tavern, brothel, market, harbor around the realm, word is running amok like wildfire about this false king who worships the old gods and his kinslayer Hand. I've gotten reports that by the time we get to the Capital, the people will be unsettled enough with who they have in power that they will eagerly support us."

It was a good plan, Yara thought, and the enemy was sure to be outnumbered. They had no way of matching them in battle. They would cease Kings Landing in no time. She had no friends there, but she had respect for Ser Davos and she would send word to him in secret to warn him ahead of time.

"On the twenty-first day of the ninth moon, we march north for Kings Landing," the prince declared.

She could already feel the victory in her bones.

 


BRIENNE

"The last time a successor to the throne had to be chosen, there was a great council with a thousand lords who attended and it took them over half a year to assemble. Bran was chosen as king by ten people at best and a prisoner who committed treason. Of course the people think that he's a sorcerer. It makes no sense to anyone," Ser Davos said.

"The people have never had any love lost for us, especially me. If I were alight with fire, there's not a soul that would piss on me to quench it," Lord Tyrion joked.

"Let's strike a flint and see," Brienne said.

"Your tongue is sharper than your sword today, Ser Brienne of Tarth. Lately, you've been more dour than usual," Tyrion replied and then cocked his head. "Why is that?

"Lord Yronwood," she said without wasting time, then she turned to Bran and asked, "How many times have you done... that? Who else have you done it to? Are we even here of our own accord?"

"Yes," Bran answered in his toneless voice.

"Rest assured, Ser Brienne, your mind belongs to you. You've been culpable in/of all that has occurred by reason of association. You are sworn to obey the king's commands, to keep his secrets, to counsel him when requested and to keep silent when not, and to defend his name and honour. So, you see, not only are your wits about you, you've been doing your duty quite well," Lord Tyrion said much to her chagrin.

When Lady Catelyn Stark had made her her sworn shield all those years ago, she never thought that she would be here today, aiding her son destroy lives. Sometimes, she looked within herself and didn't recognize who she saw there. She'd always wondered why Ser Barristan the Bold had never done much to stop the Mad King. But then, even he had walked away from the order when Joffery was made king. She thought of Ser Jaime Lannister and her heart constricted painfully. She could barely remember his face. Even though he was no longer a member of the kingsguard by the time of his death, he had fought the most important battle on the side of the living. He too had stood aside while the Mad King did horrific things to people. In the end, he had done the right thing and earned the moniker 'kingslayer'. She thought of the Mad King's daughter. Though she had fought for the living, she ended up destroying more lives than any other monarch before her. Or so Lord Tyrion claimed. That's why she had to die as well. Yet, something about all of it didn't feel right. Years later, with all that was happening now, it seemed like an excuse to further their own ends. She knew it bothered Podrick as well. It was one thing to lose herself and another to be a party in blackening the soul of a good man. She wasn't clever or quick-witted like Lord Tyrion. She wasn't omniscient like Bran. But she before she swore any oaths, she had always leaned on her honour to guide her;

"You had no right to deprive the man of his ability to make decisions," she told Bran and to Tyrion, she said, "And you had even less rights to ask that of him. You price your wits highly. Why would you request such a thing?"

"Yes... Be that as it may, there's nothing we *can* do about it now, us there?"

"No, there isn't," Ser Davos said, cutting into their dialogue. "But we have to be prepared for what is coming. We're losing support and even worse, we're losing friends."

"'We', Ser Davos?" Lord Tyrion asked.

"Ser Davos is right, you know," Samwell Tarly chipped in. "The Reach doesn't look at anyone in this room favourably. As long as we're in the service of the crown. A new grandmaester will be appointed soon so you can be certain that you'll be spied upon."

"Really, Sam? We'll be spied on?
What was it that gave you the idea?"

She could see Sam become shamefaced. He was angry too. When it looked like he would say something, Lady Brienne asked, "What about the North?"

"What about the North?" The Master of Whispers repeated. "They're a separate kingdom and hardly our concern."

"We received a letter from the king's sister asking us to cut down the cost of things we export to them. I think we should help them where we can," Brienne said.

"There's a famine there," King Bran finally added to the conversation.

"How bad is it?" Ser Davos asked.

"Not the worst one that has ever happened in the known world," King Bran said.

"Well, in that cas--," Ser Davos started before Lord Tyrion interrupted him.

"It's beyond anything we can help them with. We need gold and supplies more than ever in these perilous times," he said. He was the new Master of Coin until they could appoint someone trustworthy.

"Any word of Bronn? What can you see, Your Grace?" she asked.

"Nothing."

"He was last seen fleeing the battlefield. No one has heard from him since," the Master of Whispers said.

"Good riddance," Lady Brienne said.

"Indeed. I think we should bring a Hightower into the fold. Appoint one of Lord Leyton's sons as the new Master of Coin. In addition to appeasing them, we'd be able to get a hold of their wealth," Tyrion suggested.

"Aye," some said.

She remained quiet as the council went on. She wasn't a politician and had she known that being the Lord Commander meant compromising one's integrity, perhaps she would have been more hesitant to don on the white cloak of the kingsguard. Podrick had once asked her if they had chosen the right side. These days, she didn't know if there had ever been a right side to begin with.

 


BRONN

"I'm telling you what I saw. It was during the festival of the uncloaking," a wealthy Braavosi dressed in charcoal grey and blue so dark that it was almost black. "There I was, walking across from the House of Black and White when I saw eyes so big and so red staring at me in the darkness. I've never been a pious man, you know this, but that day, I prayed to all the gods honoured in Braavos."

"So all the gods in the known world, then?" his companion asked.

"All the gods in the known world, my friend. Why would a dragon come to Braavos if it wasn't being controlled by a rider?"

Bronn sat up. When the captain of one of the sellsword companies he had hired told him of Daenerys Targaryen being alive, he'd brushed it off as nonsense. Now, accounts were being spread around of either seeing a dragon fly over Braavos or seeing a silverhaired woman walk out of the House of the Black and White one very early morning some time ago. This was the first time he was hearing of the dragon being seen near the temple. He strained his ears to hear more, but it was futile. The play was about to begin. He had come to the Blue Lantern's, a playhouse located in one of the more fashionable neighborhoods of Braavos in the hopes to catch a glimpse of the Black Pearl, courtesan of light brown skin renowned worldwide for making young men duel each other to death or the rich and powerful beggar at her feet just to gain her favour. She was strikingly beautiful, but this new information on the Dragon Queen stalled his interest. If there was truth to this, then luck had just shone his way. Her enemies were his enemies. But first, he had to be sure that she was alive and next, he had to find out where she was.

 


BRAN THE BROKEN

Every time he tried to look and see, he grew weaker. His strength began to drain from him very subtly when he first looked for Daenerys. That was years ago. It had been a while since he could find her or Jon for that matter. Still, his curiosity only seemed to rise. It was almost like a game. He tried again, flitting around Essos, searching to and fro for even a glimpse of her or the mention of her name. Nothing. He was about to come back to the present when he decided to try one last time. This time, he looked and listened to sailors. Sailors knew everything. It was there he heard of the Dragon Queen seen in Braavos. He went back in time until he came to a stop. *I've found you,* he smiled to himself. He went in and heard her exchange with a Faceless Man. Sansa's life was at risk.

Warn her! Bran cried, fighting to claw his way out to the surface, but Bran was no more. Only the Three-Eyed Raven. Still, he would do him this small favour.

The memory made his head throb lightly. He managed a small frown at the inconvenience. Since that day, he had kept an eye out for Sansa. To save her, perchance? It seemed like the right thing to do, but even then, his reason wasn't so benevolent for each time he looked to the North, his strength grew. Especially when he perched on a weirwood tree. He had thwarted the plans of the Faceless Men. Though they always sent a warning whenever they were about to go after Sansa, there really was no need. His ravens had taken a liking to feasting on their fresh dead bodies.

He looked to the North again and watched, through time, the slow but steady desolation that the famine was causing. It all started when the northmen began starving because there was not enough food left after all the wars they had suffered. No one wanted to trade with the isolationist kingdom that had done nothing for anyone else and welcomed no one into their lands. Word had spread of how thankful they had been to the Dragon Queen who lost so much for them. The Dothraki had made sure to tell it well and tell it true. Those who could understand them embellished their tales when they passed the stories on and soon, the phrase 'as ungrateful as a northman' was coined. A sentiment that had only added to how unwelcome a king he was. From every corner of the North came the signs that the death and dearth were upon them.

He looked for Sansa and found her writing letters upon letters late into the night; she sent this one to Lord Tully and that one to the Vale and the other, she sent to the Capital. She sent word to the Reach and to Storm's End. Those that she didn't remind of the bonds they had forged before or during battle, she made promises to.

He looked again. This memory was more recent. She stood tall and proud, her red hair was shining in the sun, she was still a beauty, but other than that, she looked different. Her sharp cheekbones were even sharper now, giving her a stern look. Her beautiful dress hung a bit loose from her body, hiding her thinning frame. In this memory, she stood with the maester. She took a sip of wine and smacked her lips at the taste.

"What to do, Maester Wolkan. What to do," she said.

"Your Grace, what if we rejoin the rest of the kingdoms. Your brother will be sure to welcome you."

"That can't be the only solution. I hear there is a lot of game beyond the Wall and the land is getting greener. We're... friends, are we not? We sheltered them here when they needed help against the Night King. Any word from Jon?"

"No, Your Grace. No one has seen him in years. If there is game or food of any kind beyond the Wall, then no one but the Wildlings are privy to it."

"Hmm. This isn't the first famine that the North has seen nor will it be her last. If all good things come to an end, then so do all bad things. We'll find a way."

In another place, at another time, he saw that the famine was so widespread people had been reduced to eating grass, tree bark, roots, berries, frogs, birds, and even earthworms. Desperate hunger drove people to sell off all of their possessions for any food they could find, some even sold themselves to feed their families. During the nights, an eerie silence fell over a village he was looking at, where all the livestock and chickens had long since been killed for food and exhausted villagers went to bed early. Because things had become unbearably hard, the Northern crown was looking to fulfill the impossibly high grain quotas and began to search even those villages where inhabitants were already dying from starvation. Those who still had strength acted without mercy, taking away the last crumbs of food from starving families knowing they were condemning even small children to death. Any peasant who resisted was killed. Rape also took place.

As food ran out in the villages, thousands of desperate people trekked to beg for food in keeps and holdfasts. Food was available in these places, although strictly controlled and rationed.

He looked a year into the future of that memory and saw thousands of starving peasants, painfully thin with swollen bellies, lined on the roads begging for food. The more severe cases of hunger drove many people to desperation and madness. On the northern island of Skagos, the people living off the remains of other starvation victims or in some instances resorting to murder. Most peasant families had five or six children, and some mothers killed their weakest children in order to feed the others.

So, even though death could not prevail against them in the Battle of Winterfell, it had found another way to cut the North down. Curious.

 

 

SER DAVOS

Batten down the hatches. Kings Landing will fall. Tell no one and save yourself. What is dead may never die.

It was a warning from Yara Greyjoy. The ominous tone of it made him feel queasy. If he took the worst interpretation from it, it meant that war was coming to Kings Landing and that the Ironborn were going to invade. The Iron Fleet had attacked Lannisport on many an occasion and word had it that their last attack had happened in White Harbor. He knew it was only a matter of time before someone sought to depose Bran. It had taken longer than he would've thought. The people had gone from apathetic towards their king to regarding him with high suspicion. If they were suspicious towards the king, the hated his Hand for there was no greater taboo in all the realm than kinslaying. Tales, truth mixed with falsities, had been spreading faster than a sudden wave and those who didn't distance themselves from it contacted the stink that came with the growing ill repute of the king and his hand. Something that dismayed Ser Brienne. Her honour was the thing that had helped her endure mockery before and after she became a knight, but now, she battled with shame at what she had become a party to.

The end of their time in power was at hand. What he didn't know was how soon. Tyrion and Bran had made sure to shorten that time, that much was certain. Though the warning had been for him alone, he couldn't leave the rest of the Small Council high and dry. If not for their sakes, then for the sake of people like Ser Brienne and Ser Podrick. He had come to the Stormlands for Gendry's wedding, but he would have to go back and help them all escape. Would that they could see what was happening to know what exactly they needed to know. These days, Bran couldn't see much and when he did see, it was Winterfell. Mayhaps, that was where they would go. It was as far away from Kings Landing as they needed to be.

 


JON

"Neither of you is flying on the dragon's back again if you don't stop what you're doing and get in here immediately," Daenerys threatened.

At that, the twins dropped their wooden swords and ran to her, charming her with hilarious cries and adulations of "Mhysa", even going as far as bowing their heads in an exaggerated fashion. He laughed at that. They were growing up to be quite mischievous, but Daenerys had found a way to rein some of that in with Drogon whenever their mischief began to get out of hand. The boys adored flying on their brother's back. Daeron had taken to calling the beast "ñuha zōbrie" which was High Valyrian for "my black." It amused him, but worried Daenerys just a little because she said that she didn't want him thinking that he could fly the dragon alone because anyone who tried to mount a dragon when its rider was still alive was sure to die. But he knew that it was just Daeron being who he was. The boy might not know that he had the blood of kings running in his veins, but he certainly acted like it. Like Robb had been, he thought sadly. He had all the makings of leader and was well-loved by both the children of the settlers and the Dothraki children alike. Jaehaerys, on the other hand, was more reserved and shy. Both traits which hid that of the two boys, he was the more likely to get into trouble. He had a sharp mind, never missing anything. Many a time, since the Dothraki had moved back home, whenever there was a mishap that befell the Dothraki children, he was certain, that if Jaehaerys wasn't at the heart of it, then he was close to it. Something that fascinated him and Daenerys. Despite their differences and disputes, for they had many, both boys were fiercely loyal to each other. If you were an "enemy" to one, then you made two enemies. Not even their mother or father were spared this.

He walked in after them and smiled when she said, "You're not helping, you know. If they practice when it's dark, they stand the chance of dealing blows to each other that will result in wounds."

He shrugged, "I did it when I was a boy and here I am. They'll live to tell the tale."

"You're aware that that's how Daeron lost his tooth."

"Of a truth, I'm not convinced that it happened that way. He'd been very eager to be like his brother. I still think that whatever took place was not without intent."

"I know," she conceded. "I just tell myself that so my thoughts don't run wild at how far they're willing to go to do what they think they have to do."

"Their mother's sons," he joked. But seeing her expression shutter quickly made him realize what she thought he meant. This was still something that they had to deal with. Sometimes, something as harmless as playful banter could be misconstrued. "It's a good thing, Daenerys," he added carefully.

"Yes," she responded, sounding uncertain.

"You're a good person," he said softly. When she said nothing, he added facetiously, "And I've never known a good person to keep another from a good supper."

She narrowed her eyes at him and he smiled unrepentantly.

"Suddenly, your speech has been narrowed down to the word 'good'?"

"I'm hungry," he said before pressing a quick kiss to her temple and walking in the direction that their sons just went.

Chapter Text

 

MAGGO

 

Since the Khaleesi had returned, there was a joy amongst the Dothraki that hadn't been there for years, but many of them were still getting acclimated to their new way of life. Slavery had been abolished, but the Dothraki still believed in taking resources that they needed even in peaceful times. The weaker people called it pillaging. The Khaleesi had also stopped it alongside slavery when she had united the khalasars, but after she had left them in Westeros, many had gone back to doing what had known for many years: taking what they needed to survive. Those who had returned to Vaes Dothrak had continued to take without asking, but since the Khaleesi's return, that had been put to a stop. Now, they worked just like everyone else.

 

The Dothraki people were many things, but farmers? Some saw it as demeaning. Still, none could complain beyond murmurs for they all revered their Khaleesi and some thought her to be the moon goddess after her return back to life. She had come to the large farmland today to supervise and also render help where she could. He was learning leadership from her. From afar. He frowned at that. He wished he could serve her personally as a ko. He had taken to training with the traitor, Jon Snow. Something his sister never let him hear the end of. She still didn't trust the man. Truthfully, Maggo no longer fostered any hatred towards him because if the Khaleesi was alive now, didn't it mean that she was never dead? He was one of those who didn't think she'd ever died, but he couldn't explain her absence for the period of time that she had disappeared from Westeros. A few thought she left to raise her children and were none too happy about being abandoned. There were many different debates about it, but one thing that they all agreed on was that her return brought with her a new kind of hope and purpose. To Maggo, that meant setting aside personal grudges and looking forward to what the future held. It was why he had started training with the man, Jon Snow.

 

Well, it was one of the reasons. It was no secret that Jon Snow was the Khaleesi's lover, a very enviable position that he seemed unaware of. There were a lot of rumours that had spread in the town about both of them and how it was that the Wolf Man had won such favours with the Khaleesi. Many thought him to be the father of her children, but some older settlers disagreed, saying that another man who had been here and left before the Dothraki arrived was their father. To Maggo, it made no matter. Training with the man was just an opportunity to see the Khaleesi often and learn things about her. Every piece of information about her could be useful for when he would request to be in her service. It was also an opportunity to learn the Common Tongue. It was a calculative move.

 

He'd taken to her sons as well, the twins. Anytime they came around, he took it upon himself to take them under his wing, something Jon Snow seemed to appreciate. Lately, he had been trying to teach them how to shoot arrows on horseback. Daeron was a fast learner. Jaehaerys wasn't very good at it which was a generous assesment on Maggo's part, but he had adopted Jon Snow's example of encouraging the boy not to give up. On the other hand, he was adept with his wooden sword; surprisingly skillful.

 

No horseback riding nor archery practice nor sword training today. Today was a day of harvest. Later, during the week, there would be a celebration. Some of the settlers attributed their luck to their gods and wanted to honour them in return.

 

Maggo received the water offered to him and smiled at the girl who gave it to him. She was the youngest daughter of a warrior that had come back with them from Rhaesh Andhali, or Westeros like it was called in the Common Tongue. His smile grew when he saw Daeron follow behind her like a puppy. It was that way whenever the Dothraki children and the children of the settlers met. Daeron had become the girl's shadow. She must have been at least a year or two older than he was for she was taller than he was, but that didn't seem to deter him. The boy had the boldness of one twice his age. It was expected of the khalakka: the Khaleesi's heir.

 

Maggo used his arakh in place of a sickle and continued his work until a bell rang for a his group to get some rest and the next group of workers to continue from whence his group had stopped. He stretched and looked around for a place with some shade to sit. He cursed as he suddenly keeled over as a great white direwolf ran past him to Daeron at the boy's command.

 

Dusting his hands, he stalked in the direction of the boy to reprove him in the few words of the Common Tongue that he had learned, but he slowed his steps and found that his scowl had softened to a smile as he observed the scene before him. Daeron and the Dothraki girl were seated next to each other on a broken cart and he watched as the boy inched his hand closer to hers in an attempt to hold her hand. Something she wasn't aware of until their fingers touched. She looked down at their hands and back at Daeron and then giggled and ran off to some other girls. He saw Daeron sit up and look around to see if anyone had noticed. When Daeron's eyes met his, the boy turned bright red and shrunk into himself a bit. He darted his eyes away immediately, swinging his legs back and forth before jumping down from the cart and running off in the direction of his twin with Ghost trotting behind him.

 

Maggo chuckled and went to sit on the cart for the time being.

 

 

 

PRINCE MORAN MARTELL

 

The sky was black. His cold hands gripped his cold, steel swords. The wind whipped at their faces. Their spears glinted wickedly in the moonlight as they stormed the city. Those who hadn't gone into hiding stamped on others as they tried to run for safety.

 

He heard one of his generals scream his commands at a distance.

 

Their aim was not to harm innocents, but this was war. They surged forward, hacking down the enemy like insects. Their wooden ladders thudded on the walls of the crippled king's manse which served as a kind of palace for him. 

 

They were met with resistance, but the king's men were outnumbered and outmatched. The swishes and hisses of swords slashing through the air made the battle seem more perilous. His sword rose and the guard who stood before him fell.

 

 

SAMWELL

 

He could hear the noises of battle outside. It had been going on for days. Ser Davos had sent word to some people to wait at the entrance of a secret passage in one of the ruined towers of the Red Keep. Sam had come here with his family three days ago thinking that they would leave immediately, but Ser Davos was nowhere to be found. He hugged his daughter closer to him and said some comforting words to her as she sobbed softly. They had taken very little food with them when they hurried out of their home and their supplies were all but gone. There was no way of feeding his family unless he took the risk of leaving them in this place with the purpose of finding food. A venture that would not only be dangerous, but also most as like not yield anything.

 

He looked up at Tyrion who manoeuvred his way from a window and jumped down in a maladroit way, almost tipping over before he steadied himself.

 

"Nothing, but darkness and the screams of the dying," Tyrion said in forced joviality. When Gilly hissed a warning at him, he bowed his head in apology and said, "I'm sorry. The little ones are supposed to remain sheltered from the evils of war."

 

Sam was tired and irritated, but he had to keep all those negative things in him at bay and be the strength that his family needed him to be.

 

"Shh. It's alright, sweetling," he whispered to his daughter. "When we leave here, we'll go on Ser Davos' ship! You've never sailed before. It's--"

 

"Do you think the kingsguard made it out with the king? They were supposed to meet with us here too. You think they're--"

 

"I wouldn't know, Lord Tyrion. I've been here with you for three days," Sam said irritably.

 

"Of course," the man mumbled and sat down with his back against the wall. He rested his head against the wall and slung his arm on one knee that he raised, proceeding to whistle a very haunting tune.

 

Sam gulped and did his best to stop his hands from shaking. He inhaled deeply and let out a shaky breath, praying to gods, old and new, to protect his family even if they couldn't spare his life.

 

 


YARA

 

The darkness in the sky was receding slowly, giving room for the brightness of the early morn. From whence she stood on the shoreline, she could see gigantic Martell banners hanging over buildings, pillars and posts in the city signifying their victory. It had taken four days. Mayhaps, it took that long because finding one's way about a city of ruins proved to be more tasking that one had originally thought. She and her men had been tasked with blockading Blackwater Bay to stop anyone from escaping. Some people had met their unfortunate ends in this watery grave. More ships for her. They had apprehended some of the merchant ships caught in the pandemonium. She was still lost in thought when she saw a single ship a Greyjoy sigil approach them.

 

Suspicious because she knew that it wasn't one of hers, she shouted orders and then boarded a ship with some of her men to approach the intruding ship.

 

When they got on the false Greyjoy ship, she walked carefully on deck and saw men on their knees with their weapons thrown down. Puzzled, she whipped around when she heard a familiar voice plead, "Don't kill me."

 

"Seven hells, Ser Davos! Are you so eager to die that you jump at the chance to do so on this day?"

 

"Something must kill a man," he joked.

 

She ignored his jest and asked, "I thought I sent you a warning. If you got it, then you're a fool to be here. You're a renowned smuggler, why risk your life like this?"

 

"Because it'll be easier for me not waste time being stealthy when my friends can grant me easy access to where I need to be."

 

"The city? The Martells and their bannermen won't spare you if they recognize you and I won't risk my alliance by lending you any support. Turn this ship around and leave. Now."

 

"I'm afraid I can't do that, Yara. I have people in the city."

 

"Your family?"

 

"In a manner of speaking."

 

She appraised him sharply and said, "If I find out that you're helping our enemies, Ser Davos--"

 

"I'm not."

 

"Very well. But know this, Ser Davos, if you are, then you're now the enemy and if I see you, I will treat you as such."

 

"I expect nothing less."

 

 


THE ONION KNIGHT

 

He wasted no time in getting on one of the smaller boats and covered most of it with tarpaulin. He paddled slowly, but surely in the direction of the secret way that he had told members of the Small Council to wait for him. He didn't know why he was helping them, but then he remembered Brienne and Podrick and Gilly and her children, good and innocent people who had had the misfortune of being a part of this mess by reason of association. And there was no means of saving them without helping the rest. And if that wasn't enough reason, then for the sake of old times and the friendships he once shared with the men who served on the Small Council

 

When he got close to land, he jumped out of the boat and pulled it behind a cave, covering it in some broken branches and lurked, waiting until it was dark. He would smuggle them out in the night and if that plan somehow failed, then he would work in plain sight.

 

 


SAMWELL

 

A kick startled him out of his sleep. It was their fifth day in this passage and the third day without food. He quickly glanced around and saw that Gilly was carrying their daughter while Little Sam stood beside her. Everyone else was standing.

 

"We have to leave now," he heard Ser Davos whisper.

 

Ser Davos! Thank the gods!

 

"Give me the girl," Ser Davos said and quickly took Selsa from Gilly's arms.

 

Sam heard him speak in hushed tones to Tyrion. Thinking nothing of it, he scurried beside them until they got to the end of the passage. Following Ser Davos closely and quietly, they snuck further away from city until they made it to the mouth of a cave. Ser Davos put his daughter down and quickly scoured through his boat to give her what looked to be some hard bread and cheese. He tore a chunk of the bread and gave it to Little Sam, telling him to share the cheese with his sister. Sam, thankful, almost cried in gratitude. Ser Davos was a good man.

 

It was cold that night, but Sam could feel his tunic stick to his body from sweat as his mind wandered to those in his household. At Gilly's insistence, he told the captain of his guard and the steward of his household to guide them to Horn Hill. Word from Ser Davos came not even a full day before the attack and as soon as he told Gilly to ready the children, she made sure that he informed the captain of his guard and the steward of his household the truth of what would soon befall their city. He swore them to secrecy and charged them with guiding as many as they could to his family's ancestral Seat.

 

It was an effort in futility anyway, for no sooner had he informed them, than he heard shouts coming their way. Panicked, many scrambled to hide in safety, but it was too late. While his guards fought and defended them, he'd ran to his family, dragging his children along with him. It was horrific. In the end, he had left behind those who had served him faithfully for years. He could still hear their tears of despair and cries of agony and he was certain that at this very instant, many were mourning those that they loved whom they had lost.

 

When they were all on the boat, Ser Davos began to row silently. There was a deadness to the quiet and the silence that was only made louder by the thick fog that covered them. He could hear nothing but the sound of their boat on the water. He was afraid to breathe for fear that those who sought to kill them would hear.

 

"We're here," Ser Davos whispered, making Sam nearly piss himself in relief.

 

As they quickly climbed aboard the ship, Sam heard yelling. Frightened, he pushed his son forward and commanded him to run to Ser Davos while he quickly took his daughter from Gilly's arms and grabbed her by the arm, urging her to make haste. By this time, he could hear the whizzing sounds of arrows in the air coming their way.

 

He saw Tyrion being dragged away. One of Ser Davos' men threw a dagger at the Lord Hand's attacker and waved the rest of them over with great exigency. The ship was under attack, but it seemed like Ser Davos was prepared for it.

 

"Give her to me, Sam," Ser Davos yelled above the chaos as he pointed Gilly and Little Sam to the exact spot that they needed to hide. "NOW!"

 

Sam held her tighter and hesitated, afraid of entrusting her life to anyone else besides Gilly in the midst of the furore, but before he could hand her over to the man, he felt a searing pain by his side and his daughter's piercing scream filled the night amidst the scuffle and bouts happening on deck. His jaw trembled in fear, making it hard to speak when he felt his hands grow sticky. Please let it be my blood, he prayed silently as her scream slowly became a sob. He could feel sweat trickling from forehead and armpits.

 

"Selsa," he said, when she didn't respond, he shook her and said more loudly, "Selsa!"

 

Her whimper made his eyes cloud with tears. This wouldn't do. He would cry later, but first, they had to reach safety. They ran to the secret cabin and were told to stay quietly until all had settled above deck.

 


 

"Selsa, are you hurt?" he whispered.

 

"Shhh."

 

He shook her gently, but there was response from her. He felt a sudden stab of terror in the pit of his belly.

 

"Selsa," he whispered furiously, not caring for much except the reassurance that she could hear him.

 

Silence.

 

His chest grew so tight that it became hard to breathe. Fright froze the sob in his throat. He quickly rubbed the tears away from his eyes and implored silently for her to wake.

 

He held her face close to his chest and rocked her body. He was that way when Ser Davos found him.

 

"Sam, you can come out now."

 

"She's dead," he cried. "She's--"

 

He couldn't remember much else that happened after that.

 

 


PRINCE MORAN MARTELL

 

He sauntered into the crippled king's throne room with his men behind and looked around the place. The sack of the city was easier than he had thought it would be, albeit longer than he had anticipated. The throne room was simply adorned and tapestries with the crippled king's sigil hung from the walls. A black raven. He was rumoured to be called the Three-Eyed Raven.

 

His men searched everywhere until one of them called for him. He walked to where his attention was sought and before him were the king and two of his kingsguard, both fighters looking worse for wear.

 

"You were going to kill me," Prince Moran said, removing his dagger smoothly from its sheath. "I can't suffer you to live."

 

If the boy feared, he didn't show it.

 

"Before I kill you, why didn't you just go through me directly? It would have saved you all this."

 

"I tried."

 

"Ill-fated, isn't it?"

 

"Perhaps," the king said in a voice without tone, his eyes almost lifeless.

 

As he made to slash the boy's throat, he felt his mind struggle with another until he capitulated. He found his grip loosen and saw the dagger fall from his hands. Running towards the window, the last thing he heard was alarmed shouts of his men before he fell into the darkness.

 

 


SER BRIENNE

 

She'd been horrified when she saw the Prince's eyes flicker white, but with no time to dwell on his descent to his death, she and Podrick had managed to escape with the king.

 

Now, they all hid from the thundering sound of hooves riding away from the king's manse looking for them. She had sworn her life to protect his and that was what she would do, but the past six years had left her feeling disenchanted.

 

"Can you see a way of escape?" Podrick asked the king.

 

"No."

 

This... this narked her to no end. She would be less impatient if they had been able to meet with Ser Davos, but as misfortune would have it, their plans were stymied by unforseen happenings.

 

"What can you see, Your Grace?"

 

"Winterfell."

 


 

Making their way to the North might have been onerous especially as they tried to say hidden away from prying eyes, but nothing would have ever prepared her for the desolation she saw when they made their way into the neighbouring kingdom.


They rode past a mother asking her child to get up, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. Dead ears. It had been this way from the Neck through the Barrowlands. Now they were close to Winterfell and it was more of the same. Famine and disease stalked every land they passed and the death toll seemed to rise at an alarming rate. Houses became derelict shells and those who survived sought shelter in keeps and holdfasts, where they were killed on sight for fear that they brought the disease with them. It was a famine that reduced hundreds, if not thousands, of people to living corpses.

 

She covered her nose as she walked past the bodies, exchanging a look with Podrick. It had been almost seven years since she last came here. She had read about the famines that hit the North in times past, but seeing this was even worse than she could have imagined. It looked like graves could not be dug fast enough to bury all the dead, so they were simply dumped in wells or any holes or pits that could be found, and covered with dirt when they were full. The living would no longer approach a corpse, so they rotted right out in the open with their unseeing eyes staring at the unravelling civilization.

 

When they got close to Winterfell, they hid in one of the abandoned houses. She sent Podrick to scout what was going on and he came back with word of a host of people outside the gates. Desperate people. Hungry people.

 

She was trying to think of the best way in without drawing any more attention to themselves: it hadn't been easy for a woman her size to travel with a cripple on the run for his life.

 

"Ser Brienne...," Podrick said, trailing off.

 

She understood. They were both thinking the same thing. They would have to find a way in.

 

"Is there another way into the castle?" she asked the king.

 

"We'll have to go around through the North Gate to get to the crypt."

 

"The castle walls are surrounded by people. Don't you think they already tried?"

 

"Perhaps, but it's the only other way into the castle."

 

Brienne and Podrick exchanged looks and she said, "We'll try when it's dark."

 

"Or His Grace could send a raven. We have writing supplies with us."

 

"Your Grace?" she asked.

 

At his nod, she asked him what the best message to send would be to let Sansa know that it was really her brother sending the message and when he responded, she gave instructions to Podrick and he carried them out immediately. She leaned on her Valyrian steel sword, Oathkeeper, and sighed tiredly. Was this what knighthood was? She thought of the night that Ser Jaime had honoured her. It was a memory that she treasured above all. Even more than the night that he'd taken her maidenhead. She shifted uncomfortably. It always made her feel a little smaller, but years later, she had gotten better at not questioning her worthiness. She had fought against the Night King and his army. She was the first woman kingsguard and Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. She had done some things of note in her life just like Queen Sansa. Just like the Dragon Queen. She hadn't thought of the Dragon Queen in a long time. One of the last times that she had really given her any thought was when the Small Council had been planning on killing her. She was pregnant at the time. Another thing that she had sat back and quietly watched without doing anything. At the time, it had seemed like the just thing to do because of how much destruction she had caused, but now, she wondered if it were still so. The king had taken control of people's minds and killed them or gotten them killed, yet she still served him. The Dragon Queen had helped in saving world, but was killed for destroying but a small portion of it, albeit, many lives. Was it right to plan her demise or did they just tell themselves these things to stop being accountable to certain actions?

 

"Done!" Podrick announced, beaming.

 

"Are you waiting to be told what to do? Get on with it then," she said sternly.

 

 


BRAN THE BROKEN

 

He looked, with little interest, as Sansa's eyes grew wide in shock. She hugged him quickly and ushered them all into the Great Keep to her solar. She offered them what little food she could. The meat tasted strange, but it would do sustain his strength. He chewed methodically as Lady Brienne told Sansa of all that had happened and saw her features harden into a scowl.

 

"You're safe here," she said with conviction. "No one will come for you here," she reaffirmed.

 

She was right. No one would come for him here. No one would come here.

 

Later that night as they sat together in a comfortable silence before the fireplace in the Lord's chamber, he said to her, "There's something I have to tell you."

 

She looked up from sewing and asked, "What?"

 

"Faceless Men are after you."

 

She dropped her needle and the cloth instantly, her face becoming even paler, "Arya?"

 

"No."

 

"Who? Why?"

 

And so he told her what he knew. He could see the different moods reflect on her face: confusion that she had been named for death, disbelief that Daenerys Targaryen was alive and finally, anger that Daenerys was involved in this somehow.

 

"So, she wants me dead?"

 

"I wouldn't know. She didn't say that, really."

 

"I know she wants me dead. Can you... find her now?"

 

"No. I could for a time, but the further she flew away from Braavos, the weaker my sight got. I'm stronger here."

 

"Good. Can you find Jon and Arya when you regain your strength?"

 

"Perhaps."

 

 


THE ONION KNIGHT

 

"What is better than a good story? It turns out an army and allies are better," Tyrion bewailed. "Has he eaten anything yet?" he asked of Samwell.

 

"Nothing at all," Ser Davos replied.

 

Tyrion sighed, "Is there anything more painful than the loss of one's child?"

 

Davos shook his head. He knew that pain. The man speaking with him had been the cause of that pain, but he couldn't hold it against Tyrion because they had been on opposite sides of a war. He had tried to talk with Samwell, but it would take time before the loss became tolerable. His wife and son weren't doing that much better. Davos let out a breath and walked towards his man on the wheel. They were going to Essos. It was the safest place to be at the moment. He'd thought of going to Storm's End, but on impulse, he'd opted for Essos instead. He had some "friends" there and if things didn't go as planned, then he would head for the Summer Isles. He thought about Jon and Daenerys and wondered what had become of them. Since Yara had aided him, he'd expected word from her man who had gone with Jon, but it seemed like things may have gone awry. He hoped not. For both their sakes. Perhaps they would cross paths again in the vast continent of Essos, he thought as he began to whistle the nostalgic tune of Jenny of Oldstones.

 

 


THE IRON BANK OF BRAAVOS

 

"War in Westeros, you say? Isn't that a good thing? Wars come at a high cost and who better to benefit from it than us?" Bessaro Reyaan asked. He was one of the keyholders of the Iron Bank.

 

"That may be true, but we're already at a loss if the word we received from the Seven... Six Kindgoms is to be believed," Noho Dimittis said dourly.

 

"Which is?" someone else in the secret council asked.

 

"That the king has disappeared and his Hand with him. His Hand who borrowed more from the Iron Bank than the rest of his family combined and is heavily in debt to the Iron Bank," another answered.

 

"Tyrion Lannister? Do we know if he's dead?" Bessaro Reyaan glowered.

 

"No, but what does it matter if he's dead or alive? Either way, he owes us what he has not paid... cannot pay and we have to find a way to replenish all that wealth," Tycho Nestoris said. He was the envoy from the Iron Bank most familiar with the ways of the Westerosi.

 

"You were the one who corroborated his speech. What is that popular saying? A Lannister always pays his debts?" someone else challenged.

 

"And he was right. We had a good relationship with his father, Tywin Lannister, and his sister, Cersei, paid us on time and in full. He's been said to be clever, little wonder that I believed he would follow their footsteps," Tycho Nestoris said in his own defense.

 

"So what is the best thing that we can do now? How do we recover it all back?" Bessaro Reyaan enquired to stop the heated exchange.

 

"Pick a side," Tycho Nestoris replied.

 

"There's only one side now if the king has been dethroned."

 

"There's trouble brewing elsewhere in Westeros. The Hightowers don't like that the Martells have ceased the throne," Tycho Nestoris said.

 

"Who is the more likely of them to fill our coffers?" another asked.

 

"The Hightowers," Tycho Nestoris said.

 

"Then we side with them," Bessaro Reyaan declared before frowning to ask, "The Hightowers from Oldtown, you mean? Don't they own a bank of their own?"

 

"They do and that's why we look to the Martells," Noho Dimittis said quickly.

 

"The Martells don't need us as much as we need them where Westeros is concerned. They're a wealthy House. There's a third party involved. Yara Greyjoy. She hates the Lannisters and if I go by the accounts I was given, she was dealt a heavy loss by Tyrion Lannister. She's allied with the Martells, but has more reason to want to take the Westerlands for her own. If we can come to an agreement, we will help her cause, but she will owe us and she can collect taxes from her new vassals. If she wins, of course," Tycho Nestoris.

 

"So we help her on wager? If Tyrion Lannister could not get his vassals to pay us, what makes you think this one can?"

 

"Everything is a wager in what we do and if all else fails, then she'll reave. She's a woman of her word, I'm told." Tycho Nestoris said smoothly.

 

"And if she tells us that she's not interested?"

 

"She will be," Tycho Nestoris affirmed.

 

"Very well. Are we all in agreement?" Bessaro Reyaan asked. When unanimous consent was given, he said, "Meet with her as an envoy from us Tycho Nestoris."

 

 


BRONN

 

He had asked around in brothels and playhouses and inns and everywhere that gossip thrived. It was generally believed that the Dragon Queen was alive. He couldn't believe his luck. Most of the accounts he heard were that she was in Meereen, but there were fewer whispers of a dragon seen flying towards Vaes Dothrak. Daenerys was a queen. He'd seen her; she was flamboyant and proud. Vaes Dothrak was no more than a vast wasteland now that the Dothraki were in Westeros. Meereen, most as like, he thought. He would head for Meereen.

 

 

TORMUND

 

He had been charged with looking after the Little Crow's little ones. He laughed at the thought. The lad, sometimes, looked to be in a daze with how much happier he looked these days. He'd gone to meet his queen for some matter concerning the garrison that was being constructed. Or so Jon said. He'd seen his friend trail his woman's body from top to bottom slowly with his eyes and linger on her arse like a man starved. On the matter of starvation, Tormund was ravenous. The twins hadn't seen their father for almost a moon turn because Jon had been away, seeing to the building of the garrison at the other side of Vaes Dothrak so when he had returned earlier in the day, he had gone to the Dragon Queen's home and come back with the boys to their camp. Now, his attention was "needed" elsewhere and he'd been left with the twins and the feast that Jon had brought with him from their mother's home to sup with his sons. A creamy mushroom soup, crusty hot bread, and greens dressed with apples and pine nuts, lamprey pie, honeyed ham, buttered carrots, white beans and bacon, and roast duck stuffed vegetables. It all smelled as good as it looked.

 

He served the boys and then himself. They were eating in a pleasant silence when Jaehaerys asked Tormund in his Valyrian accented Common Tongue, "Why do you eat like Ghost? I tried it and mama said that it's ba--barba... that it's bad."

 

"I eat like this so I can be strong," he said, patting the muscle of his arm for emphasis, "The strongest of men can be found beyond the Wall. That's where I'm from."

 

"The Wall?" Jaehaerys asked

 

"Aye, boy. That's where your father was," Tormund replied, chewing more "like Ghost" and making them giggle.

 

At the mention of this, he could see their eyes dance with curiosity.

 

"Ñuha kepa glaestan isse iā dōros?" Daeron asked excitedly.

 

Tormund chuckled and answered, "No, Daeron, your father didn't live in a wall, but the Wall." When he saw their confused faces, he went on to explain, "The Wall is a long stretch of mostly ice that divides the south from the wild lands beyond. It's very high too."

 

They had shifted closer to him now and Jaehaerys asked, "Longer than Drogon?"

 

"Longer than Drogon."

 

Their eyes grew round and Daeron stretched his arms as far apart as he could from top to bottom, "Rōvykta?"

 

Tormund laughed at that and replied, "Yes, Daeron. The Wall is bigger than that."

 

"Who made it?" Jaehaerys asked, his eager young mind ready to feed on whatever Tormund told him.

 

"Man, the Children of the Forest and Giants."

 

"Am I a children of the forest too?" Jaehaerys asked hopefully, pointing at his chest.

 

"Skoros iksis iā giant?" Daeron wanted to know.

 

"Are you a child of the Forest? No." he told Jaehaerys who looked disappointed and to Daeron he said, "A giant is a man or a woman that is as tall as a mountain."

 

Their mouths were ajar, but before they could ask him more questions, Jon returned to the camp.

 

"PAPA!" they shouted happily as they ran to him.

 

Tormund grinned when they jumped in the air at something Jon said and ran to Jon's tent.

 


 

Their camp had grown quiet. Jon came out of his tent to join Tormund before the fire. He passed a flagon of some bitter beverage to Jon who received it gratefully.

 

"They're asleep?"

 

"Aye," Jon said with a quiet smile. "I'll have to leave before they wake," he added regretfully. "Take them back to Daenerys for me, will you?"

 

"Hmm," Tormund managed as he drank. "Aye," he said when he gulped it all down, brushing away what had poured on his beard.

 

Silence

 

"Your woman? Why not spend what little time you have here with her?" Tormund asked, before leering at Jon, "Or did you already? Little Crow!"

 

Jon laughed, but didn't answer, instead he said, "We met with some of the town's council. You should have been there. When the garrison is complete, some families might move there."

 

"When you and your queen decide on what to do, the rest of us will follow your lead."

 

"Her lead, Tormund."

 

Tormund grunted his disagreement, but didn't dwell on the matter. Jon might not see it, but for a while now, the Dragon Queen hadn't led alone.

 

 


THE CITADEL

 

It was atrocious that the Dornish had claimed Kings Landing, not something that the Hightowers took to kindly because now, there were already talks of minor lords and even knights hoping for a chance at the Seat of the highest power. If the sellswords could conquer the Riverlands with mercenaries, who was to say that those with enough gold and the right amount of power wouldn't do the same, but with their sights set on a higher ambition?

 

The Dornish could not be trusted for they had warred with the Reach for thousands of years before the Conquest.

 

The realm was in trouble and the Hightowers thought it their duty to bring peace and keep that peace. He had heard in the Conclave that if the Dornish didn't step down peacefully, then the Hightowers and their allies would declare war on them. He hoped it wasn't so. The realm had suffered for decades and she deserved a moment's peace, if only a little.

Chapter Text

 YARA

 

"Princess Martell will act as regent until her daughter reaches the age of maturity," the new Lord Yronwood announced.

 

They had been contemplating, planning and deciding their next courses of action in light of Prince Moran's untimely end. A death most horrifying in its nature. He'd killed himself, but he had no control what he did. Much like the older Yronwood. Yara had heard how that Lord had died. She wondered what the honourable Ned Stark would think of what his son had become. The discourse moved to the Hightowers. The Hightowers were, at the moment, the greatest powers in Westeros, with allies, armies, support and a lot of riches. Standing up to them without the might, if not the other resources, to meet them in battle was an endeavour that was sure to come to nought. Something that she could not leave to chance. Now that the Lannisters were all but gone, the Westerlands were in her sights. She had received an interesting proposal from the Iron Bank some days past. It wasn't an offer to take lightly, yet she hesitated.

 

Though all the Free Cities had their own banks, the Iron Bank was richer and more powerful than the others combined and had a fearsome reputation when it came to collecting debts. When princes or kings defaulted on their debts or were foolish enough not to honour their agreements with the Iron Bank, the Iron Bank supported new princes and kings to appear. She she knew that to be the case because Tycho Nestoris, an envoy from the Iron Bank, had the decency to be honest about why he had come to her. Tyrion Lannister, who might be dead, owed them a lot and they needed someone that they deemed fit to build a new relationship of "trust" with across the Narrow Sea to... help them "so why don't we pay you take the Westerlands once and for all as the Ironborn before you have failed to do provided you repay us on these terms?"

 

Those terms that the man proposed would cost her, but being ruler of the Westerlands was worth the price. It would take time, but it wasn't something that couldn't be done. She also kept in mind, as something to spur her lest she deal with a slack hand, that the new princes and kings whom the Iron Bank supported after deposing of their defaulters were honoured with the previous debt along with paying back the money the bank loaned them in claiming their new power. And if they couldn't meet up to their obligations, they suffered the same fate as their predecessors.

 

As she sat listening to the lords, ladies and knights talk, she cleared her throat until the attention of the room was on her.

 

"My lords, my ladies, we cannot hope to win a war against the Reach, against House Hightower. They outnumber us and outmatch us in every way. They have the support of the Faith, the Citadel and Riverrun."

 

"What about the Stormlands?" one of the lords present asked.

 

It was an important question. She thought of Gendry, the only other person that Ser Davos had said that he'd trusted with word of Daenerys being alive all those years ago. She thought of Ser Davos and how her men had attacked him for helping Tyrion Lannister escape. Both men might already be dead. Tyrion Lannister was once an ally and Ser Davos was a good man. In another life, mayhaps they could have been allies with the Stormlands, but time and chance had a way of meddling with the affairs of men.

 

"They fought with the Hightowers to chase Bronn out of Riverrun. They're allied with the Hightowers." When murmurs rose in response, she said, "As it stands, the Westerlands and the Vale are the only two kingdoms who have no part in any of this. I have my doubts that the Vale would want to be partakers of this war--"

 

"So that leaves the Westerlands. They won't stand with us. Not after we might have killed their liege lord and certainly not after successive raids on their lands. That means that the Hightowers could sway them to their side," a young warrior said.

 

"Aye. But we don't need them as allies when we can conquer and own their lands. The Iron Bank sent an envoy to me. They will give me the resources I need to take the Westerlands."

 

"Then they own your cock... or is it teats in your case?" another person said.

 

"Mayhaps, but when you have a good portion of the Braavosi fleet of warships behind you, some might call it a sound strategy," she smirked cockily as the she saw smiles and nods of approval.

 

"How soon can you get them here?" Wylla Wyl asked?

 

"They're already on their way. Three or six moon turns from now, the Westerlands will be mine," she replied.

 

"Yours? So we conquer it, but you own it?" young Lord Yronwood asked, a boy no more than ten and eight.

 

"Like your dead Prince did, the Iron Bank came to me and not the other way around. If you're satisfied with Kings Landing, I'll be happy to take my men back to the Iron Islands and let you deal with the Hightowers on your own," she said while twirling her dagger masterfully.



The lord smiled and replied, "It was just a question, Lady Greyjoy."

 

"Mine," she said firmly, refering to the Westerlands and daring anyone to oppose her.

 

When all consented, they moved on to the matter of war should their attempts at diplomacy with the Reach fail.

 

 


TYRION

 

"Illyrio Mapotis," Tyrion had told Ser Davos. "He'll provide comforts far better than anything your pirate friends can offer us, Ser Davos. Trust me on this. I don't think that Sam and his family deserve any less right now. It wouldn't do for them to still be on the run."

 

Ser Davos mulled over what he said before the man agreed to his recommendation.

 

It was something he wished he hadn't suggested. His stroke of shit luck in Essos had resumed. The ostentatious magister had died some years before from choking on his own saliva after stuffing himself with all the offerings of a feast he'd been invited to the night before. It had pooled in his mouth which he was said to breathe through whenever he slept because nose was not enough to fill him with all the air needed to sustain his bloated body. A victim of his own gluttonous ways in the end, Tyrion thought pitifully.

 

That was two moons ago. Now, they stayed in an inn after they'd left Pentos for Lys where Ser Davos had friends. They had paid for two rooms which were moderately decorated. The more lavish rooms cost thrice as much as the ones that they had chosen. He and Ser Davos stayed in one room whilst Sam and his family stayed in another. He heard a knock and picked up a small knife from the platter of fruits on his table before walking slowly to the door.

 

"It's me," came Ser Davos' hushed voice on the other side of the door.

 

He quickly opened the door and held it open until Ser Davos entered into the room before looking at both ends of the hallway and latching the door when he was satisfied that no one was spying on them. One could never be too careful.

 

Without more ado, Ser Davos, who was very cheery said, "My friends... they've not been seen in two years."

 

Fuck. "They're probably making themselves richer as the raid the seas," Tyrion remarked.

 

Davos chuckled and said, "Our misfortune in Essos has come to an end."

 

There was another knock on the door and this time, Samwell Tarly's voice accompanied it. Ser Davos opened the door and continued, "Jon Snow was seen in Myr."

 

"Jon Snow?" Sam asked dumbfoundedly, a change from the bitter sadness he'd cloaked himself with since his daughter's death.

 

"I conversed with a sailor who spoke of a man with hair black as midnight and a scar running across one of his eyes that had from Westeros with his white direwolf. He had a sword with a direwolf pommel. The sailor saw him in an inn in Myr years ago and had spoken to one of his companions," Ser Davos answered with a grin.

 

"You helped him come to Essos," Tyrion noted.

 

"Aye. To save his family. You were going to kill Daenerys and his child. I couldn't let that happen," Ser Davos rejoined.

 

"She would have killed us first. And we don't know if she's still alive," Sam interjected.

 

"Well, then aren't we lucky that taverns and alehouses are seeded with useful information? She fought a war against the slavers in Meereen," Ser Davos said.

 

"Yes, I was there," Tyrion said dryly to hide the fear that was filling his heart for he was staggered.

 

"You don't seem to understand. She fought a war in Meereen after she died in Westeros," Ser Davos emphasized. "This happened at least a year or two in the past. If we have heard about her war, then Jon most as like has. I am going to Meereen to find them," he finished.

 

He could see Sam's jowls quiver in fear. He too felt that way as thoughts of Jon Snow receded to the background of his mind. Maybe the Faceless Man had killed her.

 

"You won't find her in Meereen," Tyrion confided quietly.

 

Both men looked at him sharply, but it was Ser Davos who asked, "Why is that?"

 

"Because she's in Vaes Dothrak if she's still alive." Before they could interrogate him, he added, "I sent several spies around Essos and word came back to me that she had been found in Vaes Dothrak. With Jon Snow."

 

It was almost fascinating the way Ser Davos' face grew red. "Have you killed them? After forsaking them both?" he asked menacingly.

 

"I wasn't the only one who forsook them and I acted in self preservation. She was always going to come back for us, Ser Davos," Tyrion said quietly. He didn't admit that the lives of her children had been offered as well. The children's names hadn't been given on his orders, but the orders had been given in his name by his emissary. A man overzealous, but not according to the right knowledge Tyrion had sent him with.

 

"Did you have him killed?" Samwell asked. He looked... almost angered. Most as like on Jon's behalf. Tyrion wanted to ask him why he hadn't displayed the same anger for Jon's sake when he'd been exiled, but he refrained himself.

 

"The Faceless Man was for Daenerys only," he assured them both. "I'm sure she still lives else you would have heard about her death somehow."

 

Ser Davos walked briskly to the door, opened it half way and turned to Sam saying, "Prepare yourself, Samwell. We leave for Vaes Dothrak before the end of the--"

 

"I'm not going," Sam cut him off, "We're the enemy to Daenerys. If she lives, then we're not safe. She has a dragon that can fly her anywhere in the world at her command." Facing Tyrion, he continued, "You saw what she did to the children of Kings Landing who did nothing to her. I have just... I c-can't lose my only ch-child."

 

"How do you hope to survive this place? You don't speak their language, you have no skills--"

 

"I survived the Wall and the Army of the Dead, didn't I?" Samwell retorted in irritation. "We might not have the means to live comfortably, but we'd be alive."

 

"Aren't you going to invite me?" Tyrion asked half in jest, knowing that this conversation would lead nowhere, but trying to mend things with one of the only people in this world who didn't seem to hate him or think little of him.

 

"Are you coming?" Ser Davos humoured him.

 

"And lose my head or get burned alive? I think not. I quite like being whole, thank you." When Ser Davos looked back, Tyrion asked sadly, "You're not coming back, are you?"

 

"No."

 

"Good bye, Ser Davos. Thank you."

 

With nothing left to say, Ser Davos departed.

 

 

DAENERYS

 

Tired of sitting, she got up from her desk to stand by her window and admire the children running around in her garden by the small pool that she'd had them dig to help them cool their bodies whenever it took too much effort to go to the lake. She was tempted to leave her duties and be with them, but she couldn't do that. She had to send a response to Daario about what to do concerning the new trade route between the former slavers cities and the rest of Essos as well as send supplies to Jon and those working on the garrison. She wished she had a Hand to take care of the minutia of her day to day dealings, but learning to enjoy administration was part of a growth process for her. She preferred the practical aspects of leadership.

 

She walked away from there and went to open the door when someone knocked on it. It was Maggo. A young Dothraki warrior who trained her sons more often these days especially in their father's absence. He was the brother to the girl who had openly defied her. Vrozzi. One of Daenerys' most loyal supporters despite her disapproval of Jon Snow.

 

He stood with his arms crossed at his back and his legs apart in a way that reminded her of Grey Worm and said, "Jin ken mahrazhi tikh tikh ma Jon Snow, Khaleesi...," he hesitated before he added in the Common Tongue, "Tomorrow."

 

She smiled at him. He was learning the Common Tongue. He was better at hearing it than he was at speaking it for one could barely distinguish the Common Tongue from Dothraki when he spoke. He wasn't supposed to report to her directly, but he'd inserted himself, somehow, to run these errands for her. It was something she could allow because it didn't break the ranks in the system that she had put in place.

 

"Davra," she replied. Good. Jon had sent worrying reports that there had been increasing sights of intruders coming to spy on them, but he assured her that he had it under control. She was sending a hundred Dothraki screamers to him on the morrow, regardless.

 

"You won't go," she said to him, speaking slowly in the Common Tongue so he understood her, "Yer tikh tikh ma anna."

 

His stoic facade dropped and he gave her a boyish grin because she just told said that she needed him. If she had told him that it was to be with her sons, she may have wounded his pride. The Dothraki who had returned, especially the younger ones who had something to prove, were hungry for battle or the promise of it. The only thing that they considered more worthy was serving her directly.

 

"San athch--thank you, Khaleesi," he said and waited for her dismissal before he left, walking with a spring in his step.

 

She chuckled and closed the door.

 


 

"How do you intend to finish all of that, young man?" she asked when she walked in on Daeron who was filling a sack with candied fruits. "Daeron? Gods be good." she said in exasperation when she gently wrestled the sack away from him and inspected his spoils to find cakes carefully wrapped in some of his clean clothes.

 

He looked down at his feet and mumbled. She stared pointedly at him until he looked up and said more loudly, "Ziry iksos syt raqirossa."

 

"If it's for friends, then why don't they all come here and eat like they've always done?"

 

"Daeron!!!" Jaehaerys yelled for his brother, running in to meet him. "Mama!" her son exclaimed with a bright smile when he saw her.

 

He rushed to her for a hug to which obliged happily. She placed the sack on a table and meticulously removed and unwrapped the mess that her son, Daeron, had made while she listened to his brother's excited and endless chatter as he told her of what they had both been up to. Jaehaerys grabbed one of the candied fruits and Daeron slapped it out of his hand.

 

"Daeron!" Daenerys scolded.

 

"Ziry iksos daor syt ao," he scowled at his brother.

 

"If it's not for me then where is mine?" Jaehaerys asked rubbing his small wrist. "Are those for Tebi?" he asked suddenly.

 

"Tebi?" Daenerys turned to look curiously at her first son.

 

Jaehaerys took the opportunity to snatch the candied fruit he had dropped and ran to the door so his brother wouldn't get him and answered, "She's the Dothraki girl Daeron likes more than me now. He always wants to be around her in weapons training or on the farm."

 

Her eyes widened and she turned away so she they wouldn't see her laugh. She schooled her features and peaked at Daeron who tried to pretend like he'd heard them, but had turned several shades redder. She wanted to hug him.

 

"I'm sure he still likes you best," she told Jaehaerys.

 

"Sometimes," Daeron said earnestly, finally joining the conversation and making her laugh.

 

"So you can speak the Common Tongue," she teased.

 

"Sometimes," both boys answered in unison before they both erupted in giggles, making her grin.

 

"Where are you off to?" she asked them when they made to leave.

 

"To hunt. Maggo said--"

 

"Maggo can wait. Daeron, this is your mess. Take care of it. And don't put food in your clothes again. That goes for both of you. Jaehaerys, if you don't want to be late, help your brother."

 

She gave both of them kisses as they both groaned and dragged their feet to do as they were told.

 


 

"Mama?"

 

"Yes, Jaehaerys?"

 

"When is Papa coming home?"

 

"Very soon."

 

"You said that yesterday," he accused.

 

She turned her head to glance at him and smiled, "I didn't say that he was coming back today, did I?"

 

"No," he agreed reluctantly, turning over on her bed to look at her properly. They slept here more often since Jon had left for the garrison.

 

"Daeron?" she nudged the lad until he looked up her. "You're unusually quiet. Are you alright?" When he nodded and looked back down, she asked, "Tired?"

 

When he shook his head, she wanted to ask more questions when he asked, "Mama, did... you meet Papa... va se dōros?"

 

She froze. "Who... Where did you hear about the Wall?" she asked carefully.

 

"Tormund told us!" Jaehaerys interjected excitedly, sitting up. "He said that Papa lived there and that the Wall is bigger than Drogon and mountains!"

 

"That's not what he said," Daeron corrected, his Common Tongue even more heavily accented than his brother's. "Giants... issi hae bōsa hae... mountains," her son said switching between the Common Tongue and High Valyrian haltingly.

 

She swallowed and forced a smile, "Giants aren't as tall as mountains, but they're really tall."

 

"Are you certain?" Jaehaerys asked skeptically.

 

"Quite certain," she assured him. To distract them from their curiosity about the Wall, she said, "How about we fly tomorrow to see your father?"

 

They scrambled to stand on the bed and jumped in celebration.

 


 

When the twins fell asleep, she tried to ward off the haunting memories of the Wall because thinking those thoughts took her even deeper into the past that she had done everything she could to leave behind. She didn't want to think of Westeros and she didn't want anyone telling her sons of Westeros. If they were to ever know of that part of their heritage, then she didn't want it to come from anyone else but her and not for a very long time.

 

 


THE ONION KNIGHT

 

He adjusted his simple brown and green wool mantle. He would have to buy new boots, he thought as his toes threatened to puncture a hole in the worn boot he was wearing. He held a mantle of undyed wool and fastened the wooden clasp with his good hand.

 

He had set out for Vaes Dothrak. Life didn't really excite him that much anymore. He'd done everything that a man could do so there wasn't much left to accomplish. But word of Jon being alive had filled him with him with impetus. He only hoped that he would meet the lad in better conditions than he had met him the last time. He also hoped that he had gained some contentedness.

 

 


YARA

 

Taking the Westerlands had turned out to be more challenging than she had planned for, but the war against the Dragon Queen when they'd allied with the Tarlys had left the Lannister armies weak and they had grown significantly weaker after her attack on Kings Landing. Whatever was left of them, though still disciplined, lacked the numbers to do any serious damage to her own forces. Worse for them and better for her, they lacked proper leadership.

 

It wasn't a victory that she rejoiced in just yet. They still had a lot of grounds to cover. She had met with some obstinate lords and ladies who had refused to yield. Those who didn't surrender were put the sword. Those who she suspected might prove to be a problem for her, she took their heirs from them as a means of coercion until they bent to her will. Wars were harsh, but they were the way the world worked.

 

 


JON

 

He fell on his pallet, tired and hungry. Earlier that day, they had captured a group of men and one woman who claimed that they came to see if the Eastern Market had reopened. They were a peculiar looking people. They said they were from Leng, but the men claimed to be of YiTish descent. The men were bright-eyed people that wore strange hats with tails. The woman, he'd never seen her like before. She was so tall that she would have dwarfed Lady Brienne. She was slender and beautiful with oiled teak skin and golden eyes. This was the fourth time that something like this had occurred, but none with this diverse a company. The first time, he had thought nothing of it. Now, he knew that they had come here for something and their stories of trade were not the full truth. He had told some of the men to put them in a cage and search all their properties. Saffron, silks, spices, wines, gold and pearls. No weapons that they could find. Jon was highly suspicious, but he didn't let their prisoners to be ill-treated.

 

He sat up and shook the water from his hair, getting up to tie it in a knot. He groomed himself at night because he got up early to see that their training began long before dawn. Some of the people he trained cursed him for it. He chuckled at that. They were a lot better now than they used to be. He was not fully confident that they could fight and win a battle, but he knew they could fight better. It helped that the Dothraki that Daenerys had sent to him were very good fighters, it made his own people that much sharper in training.

 


 

"Are you ready to speak the truth?" he asked their captives.

 

"That's why we called for you," she said in the Common Tongue. Her accent was sharp and it made her speech a tad faster than what he was used to.

 

"Why are you here?"

 

"We heard the Dragon Queen was here. We've seen many wonders in our land, but not dragons."

 

Jon made sure his face was unreadable, but he almost laughed. It was hardly surprising that this was the reason for the intrusion.

 

"There are no dragons here," he said.

 

"We saw Balerion fly close to our cities."

 

"I don't know what that means," Jon lied. Drogon was supposedly Balerion, named so for its resemblance to the Conqueror's black.

 

She gave him an amused look and declared, "We will be back. The things you took from us, they're our gifts to her. We just wanted a glimpse of such a magnificent beast. It was said that she had three of them. Another story where the truth was stretched, I suppose."

 

He felt his heart beat sluggishly at her words. This feeling of guilt and shame, no matter how much time passed, never seemed to go away. His smile didn't reach his eyes when he told her, "Don't come back here. Tell your people to stay away as well. Unless you're here to trade. If you are, then the market is that way," he told her pointing away from the garrison.

 

She smiled at him and bowed her head, "We come in peace. There is an ancient legend... Azor Ahai... Never mind. It's a myth. My people won't trouble you again. We will come, but only to trade. Mayhaps fortune will smile upon us and we will see the dragon fly over us once more."

 

"Thank you," he said seriously. "Those hats..."

 

"You like them? Here," she removed one from the head of one of her men.

 

"Thank you. Where can I buy one more?"

 

She knocked off a second hat from another man's head and passed it to him.

 

That night, he thought of his sons and imagined what they would think when he gave them the hats. They were called monkey-tail hats according to the tall woman. He thought of what Daenerys would say. He should have gotten her something too. Had she seen the people of Leng before? This was all new to him. She was far more worldly than he was. She could probably speak their tongue. He thought about her quiet declaration of love for him. He hadn't been expecting to hear it. It had felt like a gaping wound in his heart had been healed. He wanted to hear it again and again. He looked up at the stars thinking of her, his sons and the life that he had made here with them.

 


 

He had been back for two days now. Today, he was enjoying watching his family. His sons did everything with those monkey-tail hats to the umbrage of all those who cared for them. They ate, played, and slept with those hats on. Their mother had to insist that they not wear the hats whenever they trained or when they rode on their little mounts because the hats were too big for their heads and fell over their eyes.

 

He laughed when he saw Daeron run to his mother, holding the hat to his forehead and leaving it to fall over his eyes so he could hold her face in his hands. An action both boys had adopted from her. He watched her remove the hat from his head and hold it until he was done saying whatever he said to her that made her eyes crease. Soon, the other children around surrounded her, hoping for some affection from her. It was compelling to him how well she lived up to the reputation of mother and queen to her people.

 

"Quite the sight, isn't it?" Kinvara said, walking up to him.

 

"Aye."

 

"You'll soon leave," she told him.

 

He turned his body to her and frowned. What cryptic message was she saying now? "I'm not going anywhere."

 

"Hmm."

 

"What is it, Kinvara?" he asked impatiently. "Is it something you saw? A vision in the flames?"

 

"No, just an inkling. You're not going to threaten me to look in the fire again, are you?"

 

"That was wrong of me. I apologize. Is there something you think I should know?" he tried again, more calmly this time.

 

"Quite a bit, but not all at once."

 

He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply so as not to allow the Red Woman drive him to frustration. He'd been away from Daenerys and his sons for too long to let Kinvara's mystery be a bother to him. He wasn't leaving his family for anything unless... in death. He opened his eyes sharply. "I'm not dying, am I?"

 

"Not right now."

 

He turned to leave when she said;

 

"I did see something that day. Just not in the fire. Do you know why she went to Braavos?"

 

"To save Sansa," he answered gruffly.

 

"No. To save your sons from the pain of not being chosen. To save you from having to make a choice that might hurt you. To save herself from a broken heart."

 

His eyes traveled to Daenerys then and softened. Within him, however, he was afflicted. He too feared losing her. She made him want to give her everything and it wasn't just because she kept on giving him. It was because she deserved it. She was his priority. The problem was that she didn't believe that. They hadn't spent as much time together as he would have liked since she returned from Braavos, but things had gotten better between them. There was a certain lightness to their communication that hadn't been there in so very long, if at all. In addition to being lovers, they were building a friendship. At least that's what he hoped was happening. They made each other laugh and thankfully, because of how much more work that they both had to do lately, there hadn't been any room for the bad things between them from before which were usually a silent third compeer in their midst. He knew friendship and true companionship could only be built as far as trust was willing to go and no matter how much he wished for it, Daenerys didn't trust him. She trusted him with decisions and with their sons, both of which, perpetual gratitude from him wasn't enough to show how much he cherished them, but he wanted more. He wanted her to believe what he thought of her. He needed that because if he didn't have a hold of her trust, then he would surely lose her one day.

 


 

Together, with some of Dany's guards, they were returning from the docks. She'd been quite preoccupied since he returned. They rode together in silence until they neared the settlement. He kicked his horse forward and looked back at her with a smile. At first she didn't catch on, but then her eyes widened and she returned his smile before giving chase. They raced until they were close to the mountain. He could hear Drogon's roar. The dragon most as like could feel his mother's exhilaration. When he dismounted, he walked up to her and stood beside her palfrey until she joined him on the ground.

 

"That wasn't a fair race," she said playfully, giving him sideways glance.

 

His only answer was to laugh. She looked back at her guards who had just arrived and told them to stay back. Taking his hand in hers, she interlocked their fingers and led him for a walk. He liked this, but he could tell that she was getting distracted again.

 

"What has your attention, Daenerys?"

 

"What?" she asked, looking up at him.

 

"Something is bothering you. It has been since I returned."

 

He watched her eyebrows furrow and stopped so that he could face her, patiently waiting until she was ready to talk, if she was ready to talk to him.

 

"Tormund."

 

He raised his eyebrows slightly, "What about Tormund?"

 

"He told the boys about the Wall."

 

Jon swallowed in an effort to calm himself. He withdrew his hand from hers and asked, "What did he say?"

 

"Not much. Just that you lived there."

 

He could feel his mood darken. He was fighting the splenetic feeling rising from his belly. He hated to remember everything about his time there especially after he'd been made a castaway. He'd been banished for...

 

He closed his eyes.

 

When he opened them it was to find Daenerys staring at him. It was almost laughable that they had circled back to this point.

 

He forced a smile said, "I'll tell him not to say anymore. They don't need to know that."

 

Her braid had come loose so some strands of her hair had escaped. She smoothed them away from her face and confided, "Your father, Ned Stark, he kept something away from you. To protect you, but it didn't seem like the right decision in the end. Do you think--"

 

"I didn't handle it well. That's what made it a wrong decision," he remarked and then added quickly so that they could steer away from this conversation, "Westeros is behind us and it's far away from here." From us.

 

"Westeros is where the Targaryen dynasty began. It's a part of who we are... who our sons are. Am I depriving them of that?"

 

"You're not," was all he could manage. He felt discomfited by their discourse and almost wished that he had withheld his curiousity and just enjoyed her quiet company.

 

As young boys, he and Robb had imagined themselves to be Targaryen heroes and dragonriders. Time had granted him the ability to ride a dragon, and perhaps, even be deemed a hero, but that was about as much as he shared in common with the Targaryens of old. That's how he felt. His blood and his real name, he hadn't allowed himself consider those too deeply after he had killed Daenerys. The last true Targaryen. He couldn't allow himself consider his heritage because apart from the ill that had befallen so many people because of him, it felt like one more thing that he was taking away from her which he didn't have the right of. Would that it weren't all interconnected. His whole family, the ones he'd chosen, were Targaryens.

 

"What is the right thing to tell them? They won't be this young forever. The Dothraki followed me to Westeros. Some of them are back here. They have Targaryen banners all over where they live which, thankfully, the boys are too young to find peculiar. What if someone says something to them? Something that they shouldn't know."

 

Horror came over him when it occurred to him that someone might tell his sons that he murdered their mother. He had illuded himself into thinking that any of this would ever be laid to rest

 

"They won't."

 

"You don't know that."

 

"I know that they wouldn't," he insisted, keeping the desperation out of his tone. They couldn't.

 

"Jon--"

 

"Daenerys, how long have you been here? No one had said anything to them. The Dothraki don't speak the Common Tongue." He rushed on before she could interrupt him, "I know that they're learning and the boys are also grasping a few words of Dothraki, but no one will say anything. Maggo told me that some of them... they don't believe what I did."

 

He could see the pain reflect in her eyes. He felt it too.

 

"Tormund--"

 

"--only told them stories. It was harmless, but he won't say anymore. I'll make sure of it."

 

"We can't shield them forever," she said.

 

He didn't know if she meant shielding them from the events that led them away from Westeros or their connection to Westeros on a grander scale. He didn't want to know.

 

"No, we can't," he said after a long pause. "What can we tell them?" he asked reluctantly, almost fearing her answer.

 

"Their Targaryen history. There's also good in their blood," she answered quietly, looking down and taking his hand, "you can help me with that."

 

He drew her to himself with one hand and held her close. She was good and it had nothing to do with her blood or her name.

 

"I don't know what it means to be Targaryen," he admitted in earnest. I don't feel like a Targaryen. Or a Stark.

 

"Then you can learn about it with them."

 

She had told him why she detached herself from all things Targaryen, but it wasn't something that could ever leave her, he didn't think. She embodied what he'd grown up admiring about Targaryens.

 

The Targaryens have always danced too close to madness. Madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin. Every time a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin in the air and the world holds its breath to see how it will land.

 

He dispelled that thought instantly. There was nothing mad about Daenerys. Nor his sons. Nor him.

 

He smiled at the expectant look she gave him and dipped his head to kiss her, enjoying how full her lips felt against his. If learning about this mattered to her, then he'd learn as much as he could. Still, the kinship he felt wasn't with the House itself, but with her.

 


 

"What happened?" Jon lifted his head slightly in reference to the bruise on Tormund's face.

 

"Love, Jon Snow," he said with a big grin. "I have too much of it to give it to just one woman."

 

"You didn't say that about Lady Brienne," Jon noted amusedly.

 

"Ser Brienne. She is a big woman. My women are half her size. Like your Dragon Queen. One Dothraki woman and one woman from Myr. I tell you Snow, If the gods hadn't made me a Free Folk, I would come from Myr."

 

Jon laughed with Tormund and shook his head before he grew serious.

 

"You have my sons asking questions," he observed lightly.

 

"What questions?"

 

"About the Wall."

 

When Tormund grinned, Jon told him, "I don't want them knowing anything about it."

 

"For fuck's sake," Tormund exclaimed. "Why shouldn't they know of their father's feats? You're a great man, Little Crow. A king!"

 

"I'm no king."

 

"You do all these things in less time than half the years Mance Rayder was alive, but can't even tell your sons that you slept in a wall?"

 

"No. Because they'll ask questions which might lead to them knowing that I was exiled for killing their mother. You see how that might cause unwanted issues, don't you?" He paused and breathed in before saying in a more measured voice, "You can tell them anything else, but don't talk about me. Or their mother."

 

Tormund gave him a look that he couldn't read and then nodded.

 

"Thank you," Jon said.

 

 


BRAN

 

He could feel his body grow weaker, but it was no matter. The last time he had seen this clearly was before he'd left for Kings Landing. His sight had been reduced to what seemed like shadows over the years. Now, it felt like a bright light had been cast upon all be laid his eyes on. He had put on hold his search for Jon. He hadn't been able to find him for years. He knew he was with Daenerys, he just couldn't tell where. Now, he looked across the seas for Arya. She was naked with a darkskinned man. He left her and walked around her surroundings. It was a peculiar place.

 

He turned around when he heard someone call his name. It sounded like the person was at the end of a tunnel. He followed the voice until his eyes flickered and he blinked.

 

"Maester Wolkan."

 

"Queen Sansa would like an audience with you in her solar."

 

He tilted his head slightly in acknowledgement.

Chapter Text

TYRION

 

Life moves on, Tyrion mused. It was the second day of the ninth moon of the year, but the third moon turn since they had been in Lys. It was curious how torpidity could lead to lethargy. He missed the excitement and the subterfuge that came with politicking. He missed the game. He even missed the players. Being here in Lys with naught but time on one's hands was tedious. Lys, for all her loveliness, for she was named 'Lys the Lovely', carried within her, a rudimentary rot beneath the surface. Lys stayed true to those who had built it: the Valyrian dragonlords and their penchant for slavery. The city was deeply involved in slave trade.

 

If we hadn't conspired against Daenerys, she might have come here. If there was any irony to be found, it was in the certitude that the place with the people who looked like her the most, with their pale skin, silver-gold hair and blue or purple eyes of the dragonlords of old, stood for what she had built her life to destroy or mayhaps the irony was that somehow, he'd found himself in Essos again at the mercy of those of Valyrian ancestry. It mattered not what his name was, he was nothing more than a glorified fool at court to the amusement of the wealthy merchant who had hired him and Samwell Tarly. The merchant's name was Illidos Nestyr. Rumours of how the man made his wealth was rampant in the city: it was said that he used to be a pirate who lived in the Stepstones, but had tired of that life and sought to settle down on the beautiful Island of Lys. Tyrion didn't know if there was any truth to that, but the man did seem rather knowledgeable, if not worldly. His hair was cut close to his head and whatever hadn't gone grey, was black. He had sharp blue eyes, a crooked nose and the body of one who had seen a lot of fights in his life. His wealth, as far as Tyrion knew, came from owning the best pillow houses in Lys. His courtesans and bed slaves put the whores in Kings Landing to shame. He remembered Shae just then and gripped his wine goblet tighter before drinking some more of the sweet honey wine to help him muster the will to feign a smile and toast through the disgust he felt as the men and women around him spoke proudly of the slaves that they had bred by "mating beauty with beauty."

 

Ask me again in ten years. That's what he'd told Jon Snow after the man had stabbed Daenerys in the heart. If only he had known that life would fuck him like this.

 

He glanced out the window and saw Sam with six children. Five Lyseni, three grandchildren of Illydos Nestyr and his two youngest sons along with Little Sam. Sam looked every bit the maester with his psuedo forged chains and droll robe. He had taken some gold and silver to a smith and described what he wanted. Their... lord? Master? Whatever he was to them, Illydos prided himself on acquiring the best minds from all the corners of the known world. That's why he had hired Samwell and that's why he had taken a patronizing fondness to Tyrion. Tyrion didn't feel as clever as he once had, but he was clever enough to know what to say to keep the man happy and entertained. It really wasn't the worst life that he could have made for himself, it just came at the very direful price of enjoying the benefits of slavery that he would rather turn a blind eye to. If only there was a way to end it all. So much for breaking the wheel.

 


 

He walked away from his most favoured pleasure house upset. He had just had words with the woman who was in charge. She had allowed the mutilation of a comely young boy, a slave who was said to be part of a rebellious group that were looking to rise against their masters. It was an ugly occurrence and one that had made him lose his taste for whoring. For the night at least. He'd been assigned a big guard so people wouldn't have any ideas of taking him as a slave. The man lumbered beside him, staring down anyone who looked in their direction. It usually amused him, but today, he couldn't find it in himself to laugh at that in secret. Today, the boy whose nose had been cut off and whose right eye had been gouged out reminded him of none other than Missandei. It disturbed him. He looked nothing like her, but carried the same quiet spirit and dignity before he'd been made to scream and beg for his life. This was what Daenerys had sought to stop. Had she listened to him, she would still be Queen of Meereen. Had she not listened to me, she would be Queen of Westeros. He shook away the guilt he felt. She became queen of the ashes, he reminded himself. She would have set the world on fire.

 

 


MAGGO

 

The chief Red Witch... she made him feel uneasy. It was both fear and the strain in his cock he felt anytime she was near him. At first, it had been easy to avoid her, but now that he spent more time around the Khaleesi, he saw her more often. She never noticed him and he liked it that way. There were many mysterious things said about her amongst his people. Those who had fought and survived the Great War had no fear of her and her people, but the rest of them erred with caution. It was said that she ate people. Some said she only burnt people live. He didn't know if any of the talk was true. He did know that when she came around the twins, she was almost... motherly towards them, but when she dealt with other people who were not of the Khaleesi's family or those who were not young of age, she carried an air of mystique and seduction.

 

It made no matter that she treated children kindly, many, especially the older Dothraki children on the cusp of manhood or womanhood, were frightened by her and her people except the warriors. The younger children, on the other hand, took their courage from the twins. In some ways, the twins fascinated the other children. Perhaps, it was because of who their mother was or because they had ridden the dragon or because of the large direwolf that was never too far from them. The boys, Daeron especially, had quite the following, although they most as like took no note of any of it.

 

On this day, when dusk was giving way to darkness, he had followed the Khaleesi here to meet with the Red Witch and was told to stand guard outside the temple until she was done from within. He could feel his skin crawl, but he stamped the feeling instantly. It would be a shame to cower at this when there were some children gathered in the courtyard of the Temple of R'hollor, eager to see magic. They're only fearless because the Khaleesi is here, he thought amusedly.

 

A priest, and known sorcerer, humoured the young ones with creatures of fire that burned bright and hot. It wasn't that the heat was scalding, but it was enough to make him sweat and he stood quite a distance away from the priest. When the priest turned his fire beast to a centaur with the face of a demon and made it run towards the children, they scrambled and scattered with excited and frightened squeals across the courtyard, disrupting the otherwise solemn mood of the temple. Maggo adjusted his painted leather vest and swiped the sweat away from his brow with a finger, flicking away the drops that had gathered on that finger and wiping it on his horsehair leggings. It was hot. The others in the courtyard must have felt it too because he could see them fan themselves to cool off.

 

He looked around his surroundings and saw a palehaired little boy with bouncing curls run in his direction.

 

"Maggo!"

 

"Where Daeron?" Maggo asked Jaehaerys in the Common Tongue.

 

The boy pointed to a column that held the temple and was still coming to meet him when he was met upon by some of his friends, their little bodies glistening with sweat in the light of the large torches that had been lit in the courtyard.

 

Maggo saw a Dothraki boy look queerly at Jaehaerys and ask, "Yer're vo afazh?"

 

Jaehaerys looked to be grasping at what he could understand, for Maggo was teaching the twins Dothraki, and when that failed, Jaehaerys looked to Maggo for help.

 

"He ask you don't hot?"

 

The boy's eyes lit up in comprehension and he shrugged before running back to the sorcerer.

 

It was rather curious, but not quite perplexing to him that neither Daeron nor Jaehaerys seemed to be affected by heat the way the rest of them were. No matter how hot the sun got or how closely they stayed beside any fire, the boys hardly broke a sweat or claimed that the most they could feel was warmth. He would have found it really odd if he hadn't witnessed their mother walk out of a burning temple. They were, after all, blood of the dragon.

 

He was still thinking on that when he saw the Khaleesi walk out of the temple with the Red Witch and some guards behind them, all the while followed by some worshippers and visitors of the temple who were hoping for an audience with her or mayhaps just some acknowledgment from her. She greeted all those that she could greet until she walked away from them, the Red Witch's presence helping to make them hesitate to come any closer.

 

As his Khaleesi approached, he stood up straighter and puffed his chest out. She made him feel like a little boy who was eager to please. When she looked in his direction, he spun his arakh masterfully by the tip of its hilt and struggled not to beam at the small smile she gave him.

 

 

THE ONION KNIGHT

 

He had sailed from Lys to Slavers Bay or the Bay of Dragons as it was now called. Named for its liberator. As he walked past the docks onto land, he saw many a Targaryen banner or cloths with semblances of the Targaryen sigil. Where there were no sigils or banners, there were carvings of three-headed dragons. He walked with some of the members of his crew to buy horses and supplies so that they could ride from here to Vaes Dothrak.

 

When they were satisfied with the things that they had bought, he pondered on the last ten years of his life. He had seen what many wouldn't ever see in several lifetimes. He had lived and lived again, yet he wasn't a happy man. He'd been raised from a common smuggler to serve under three kings and a queen. Something many would kill to experience, yet he felt... not empty, but not untroubled. He hoped Jon still lived. There was little he could pray for the Dragon Queen and her child now that the Faceless Men had been sent after her, but he hoped Jon still lived. He thought of his old friend, Tormund. What had come of him?

 

They would ride through the plains and deserts for at least a moon before they made it anywhere near the Dothraki city.

 


 

It was late at night when they made it to Vaes Dothrak. The night was quiet save for the occasional roar of the dragon. If the beast was here, that meant that, at best, Daenerys was here and at worst, she used to be here. He fended off the inquietude he was feeling. The men with him whispered amongst themselves in fear.

 

"Let's rest here," one of them said anxiously.

 

It appeared he wasn't the only one who felt that way. The others were a little too keen to follow through with that suggestion. There was no sign of life in sight and had it not been for the sounds of the dragon, Davos would have thought that the city was abandoned. He wanted to keep on until they saw at least one inhabitant, but the night had gotten pitch black and moving forward at this point did not mean progress.

 

"Very well. We leave before dawn."

 


 

They had been at it for three days until they happened upon a peculiar place with an array of varied buildings. Carved stone pavilions, manses of woven grass, wooden towers, stepped pyramids and log halls all lined beside each other. Almost every building flew a Targaryen banner. The closer they got to it, the more people appeared. The Dothraki! They had returned safely.

 

He and his men were soon stopped and told to come down from their mounts. With weapons pointing at them and the men who had apprehended them speaking in their harsh tongue and looking anything but welcoming, it appeared that they were fucked.

 

They were tied up and brought before some people. One of them was a young woman with short hair.

 

"You. I see you in Dragonstone. You with Jon Snow," she said.

 

"Jon? You know Jon Snow?" Davos asked immediately, becoming sanguine. "Is he here?"

 

She didn't answer him. Instead she spoke to some of the people with her and in a short while, two of the people she spoke to rode away.

 

"Why you come here with your trouble? Last time Dothraki see you, you bring death."

 

Davos couldn't understand what he'd done to warrant her hostility, but it was his least concern. If Jon had made it here safe, then it was more than he could have hoped for. He wanted to ask about Daenerys and Jon's child, but he knew that his questions would only be met by antagonistic stares so he kept silent.

 

They were kept in the heat until he heard a familiar voice shout his name from a distance. His head whipped in that direction and he couldn't stop himself from beaming at Tormund.

 

"Ser Davos, you old fucker! You're alive?!" Tormund asked as the man shook him by the shoulders.

 

Laughing, Ser Davos answered, "Aye, I'm alive. Is Jon here?"

 

"Aye. His queen and their boys too," Tormund replied, untying him.

 

His relief was like taking a piss after holding it in for a whole day.

 

Their boys?

 

"Jon will shit himself when he sees you," Tormund continued happily. Then he paused and asked, "What brings you here?"

 

"I grew tired of the south," Davos answered half in jest, making Tormund bark with laughter. He had so many questions, but he was happy to let Tormund do all the talking while he gathered himself to face Jon and Daenerys.

 

After the Dothraki girl had returned their horses, Tormund led them away from the strange Dothraki place past a well hidden town. If there were any defining characteristics for the town, they would be trees and flowers of all sorts filling the air with their perfume, nearly paved roads and uniform squat buildings on either side of the roads. The town looked, strangely, like an amalgamation of different parts of Essos that he'd been to. He saw the looks people gave him and his company right after they yelled out friendly greetings to Tormund: not as hostile as the Dothraki, but not welcoming either. He saw a lot of Red Priests and Priestesses going about their day like it was nothing out of the ordinary. He was reminded of Melisendre, but he had no time to think of her as his eyes took in what they could. Tormund led them farther away from the town past acres of savannah, a pasture and a stream that watered a vast farmland of animals, crops and trees loaded with fruit amongst which were avocado, lemon and blood oranges that looked like the ones that grew in Dorne.

 

"...this is our farmland," Tormund kept talking.

 

Davos nodded as the man went on. All he could think of was seeing Jon with his own two eyes. When they approached a camp, Davos looked around. There were three tents in the clearing, one of them was larger than the rest. There were several horses grazing on a field near the camp and fenced portion of it that seemed to serve as a training ground. He cast a glance to Tormund, but the man had already dismounted and was walking towards the largest tent. Davos followed him, and walked close to the tent.

 

"Little Crow," Tormund called.

 

In little to no time, he saw as the flap of the tent was opened and he grinned when Jon, who was now standing at the entrance of the tent, froze once the lad noticed him.

 

"Ser Davos?" he asked in a shocked voice.

 

His face broke into a wide smile and he walked out of the tent to engulf Davos in a tight hug. "Ser Davos," Jon repeated with a laugh.

 

They pulled apart and Davos held Jon at arm's length. "Look at you, lad! You look very well!"

 

Now, knowing without doubt that Jon was alive, the weight lifted from his shoulders as if a fat whore had just gotten off him after an unpleasant fuck.

 

Jon chuckled and invited him into his tent.

 

Inside the tent felt like a home, almost. The pallet looked like a moderate-sized bed. It was placed on a carpet and the furniture was a bit too lavish for a man of Jon's taste. At least the Jon that he could remember. There were little boots and sandals beside a table and at least three different scarves folded on a chair. There were also a few toys he could see neatly placed on the scarves.

 

"Daenerys and the boys," Jon said amusedly to his curiosity at the items that seemed out of place.

 

It warmed his tired old bones to see the life that Jon had made here for himself.

 

"I don't know why you still live here when your woman owns a manse and you spend a lot of time in it," Tormund commented.

 

"I'd miss your snores," Jon returned.

 

Davos laughed and accepted the drink that Jon offered him.

 

"How did you find me? What brings you here?"

 

"The Lord of Light," Ser Davos joked before he turned serious and said, "Westeros has gone to shit."

 

As he told his tale, Jon's look turned from worry at the mention of Bran to hardness at the mention of Tyrion and Sam to pity at the mention of Sam's daughter. He barely spoke a word and only interjected when he needed clarification on a matter. Tormund, on the other hand, was full of questions, particularly about the Free Folk, to which Davos had no answers. By the time Davos was done, he couldn't tell what Jon was thinking.

 

All three men sat quietly for a moment before Jon nodded and said, "I'll see to it that you and your men are well fed. Tormund will take them to the garrison. You can stay in our camp or the garrison if that's what you would prefer. Liram hardly sleeps in his tent--"

 

"--he prefers the brothels by the docks," Tormund added.

 

"Aye, he does," Jon agreed with a smile.

 

When Jon stood up to leave, Ser Davos and Tormund did the same.

 

"Rest," was the last thing Jon said to him before he parted from them

 


 

By the time he awoke, dusk had come. Washed, fed and well rested, he stretched himself and dressed quickly. Walking out of the tent he'd been given, he began to approach Jon's tent, but stopped when he saw some men who looked like guards close by. From where he stood, he could hear, faintly, the voices from within Jon's tent:

 

"Daeron, sit still," he heard Daenerys chide softly. He heard the voice of a child and though he couldn't understand what was being said, he knew a complaining tone when he heard one. He could hear another child's voice and her responding laughter.

 

"Ser Davos!" Tormund bellowed cheerily in greeting.

 

"Tormund!" he heard little voices shout in excitement.

 

"Daeron!" he heard Daenerys exclaim in exasperation.

 

"Let me see," a child said as he pushed another child who had opened the tent flap hurriedly.

 

Davos looked down then to see two little faces that were mirrors of each other looked up at him. They would be considered very pretty if they were girls. One of them, the one with dark hair, had his some of his hair half woven into a braid. Or the semblance of one. It looked like someone, Daenerys most as like, had tried to braid his hair. The one with pale hair stared solemnly at Davos while his brother had moved closer to Davos as if to vet him.

 

Soon afterwards, he watched as Daenerys stepped out of the tent and stopped when she saw him before she greeted him in a cool manner. "Ser Davos," she said, looking even more lovely than the last time he had seen her.

 

Beautiful death.

 

For most of his journey here, his mind had been on Jon, so he spared little thought to what it would be like to see the Dragon Queen face to face once again. On this day, at the sight of her, he felt great shame. Shame for his silence when things had gone wrong for her and shame for the help that he had provided Tyrion after the man had failed her repeatedly. No one had treated her with sympathy after she had left all to help them. She had uplifted, provided for and rescued slaves and free men. Every single betrayal she faced towards the end seemed completely ungrateful, misguided, and unwarranted. She was declared “mad” by the ones who had failed her the most. He felt shame for not doing more as a counselor. Mayhaps, he could have said something to prevent the destruction that she had brought to Kings Landing.

 

"Your Grace," he bowed.

 

"Daenerys," she corrected with a ghost of a smile.

 

"Yes. Of course. Daenerys." When he noticed her glance behind him, mayhaps to see if he was alone, he quickly said, "I come bringing you no trouble."

 

"Then why are you here?" she asked bluntly.

 

"Westeros is at war."

 

She stared hard at him silently for a long time before she turned her attention to a big man with a face full of tattoos and spoke to him in Valyrian. The man nodded. She went on her haunches and spoke softly to the children. Immediately after, the man, some other guards and the children left.

 

"Westeros is not my concern and the world is large enough that you could have made it anywhere else," she told him as she folded her arms.

 

"I heard you and Jon were here." Before she could get a word in, he added, "From Tyrion."

 

She cast him a steely look and asked, "Is he here?"

 

"Not if he still wants to live," Jon answered, walking in to join them. "I was told you flew near the Lhazareen town. I went searching for you to tell you about Ser Davos."

 

Davos observed that Daenerys' expression had grown softer when Jon came and he saw the man press a hand gently to her lower back before he turned to face Davos. When Jon nodded at him, he explained, for the second time that day, why he had come to Vaes Dothrak.

 

 


JON

 

He stirred and stretched out his hand to pat the place beside him. It was empty. He sat up and saw Daenerys standing naked by the fireplace in her bedchamber.

 

"Dany."

 

She spared him a glance, but said nothing.

 

The others might not have noticed, but he when he had seen her with Ser Davos, he could feel how tense Daenerys. Her mouth had been strained and her fingers had gripped her arms tightly. He understood her apprehension. Seeing Ser Davos for the first time in years had felt good and right, but the same could not be said for her and who could blame her? When Ser Davos had told him of the things that were happening in Westeros, he wished the man hadn't. For himself, but moreso for Daenerys because he knew that she would want to bear that burden. For him, it was being reminded of the worst mistakes that they had made. They had both fought to move on from all of it as time passed, and though things weren't perfect, he liked their life here. Sadly, he had a sinking feeling that it would all soon come to an end.

 

"Dany," he repeated.

 

"I wish Ser Davos hadn't come here," she confided quietly. "I wish..."

 

"I know," he replied, getting off the bed to join her. "You're not to blame for the happenings in Westeros."

 

"Am I not?"

 

"The burden of Westeros doesn't have to fall on your shoulders. You're not to blame for the discontented nature of humankind," he stated firmly.

 

"What about the state of Kings Landing, Jon? You heard him. It was in disrepair long before this present war. In the aftermath of the destruction, Kings Landing became overrun with disease, more rapes and murders." She stopped and shook her head. "Many children were, and still are, without parents. The Reach charging more on food because the crown increased taxes, which some kingdoms refused to pay. And the crown increased taxes so that they could afford to feed the people of Kings Landing. I did that," she contended guiltily.

 

He knew not the right thing to say because this admission would lead to the subject of her death and all that happened before it. Things that neither of them knew how to broach without causing a measure of offense, distance, anger, unease, or hurt. It didn't matter that they had addressed it before. He didn't want to bring up those who had betrayed her either. As much as he wanted Tyrion dead, they couldn't talk about the man without it coming back to their last time together in Westeros and, more specifically, the throne room. So rather than say anything, he took her hand and pulled her away from the fire to the bed with him. They both lay back down and he held her close.

 

 


TYRION

 

He covered his nose as he passed another heap of corpses that had been piled up to be burned. A galley had come in from who knew where, bringing with it, the plague to Lys. For a people who boasted of hardly growing sick, the Lyseni had died off rather quickly. Illydos Nestyr and about half the members of his household had met the same end. The man who took over wanted nothing to do with the Westerosi in their employ and had cut ties with them, leaving them without any means to purchase what they might need.

 

Such had been the beginning of their misfortune in Lys. At first, it had been bearable, but then Sam had become jaundiced: he veered between apathetic torpor and hysterical paranoia. He was now so ill natured to the point where neither his wife nor his son nor Tyrion could stand to be around the man for a long period of time and that's why Tyrion had chosen to walk around the city as they burned the last of the diseased bodies that had been discovered. It had lasted for three moons and he was happy to see it pass.

 

He used the opportunity to see if there was word of any noble man or merchant who might need his services. They were barely surviving as it was. There was only so much that Gilly's earnings as a scullion maid and could do for four people. Sam had found work as a healer, but he'd had a scare of contacting the plague with the false symptoms he experienced and since then, he hadn't gone anywhere near the people who bore the disease.

 

Again, Tyrion's efforts were fruitless and so he decided to head back. When he returned, it was to meet Little Sam sitting on the floor in the hallway of the inn, looking weary for one so young as his mother and father shouted their points over each other. He joined the boy on the floor and patted him on his knee. It was the least he could do. The door opened and Gilly stormed out, wiping her eyes furiously. Little Sam chased after his mother and Tyrion got up to meet with Sam. When he entered the room, Sam's head was buried in his hands.

 

"Samwell."

 

There was no response.

 

"It will get better."

 

This time, Sam laughed incredulously.

 

"Better? For whom? We've been in this miserable shit stain of a situation since we escaped from Kings Landing. We were on the run, then... m-my daughter..." His jaw quivered and he swallowed before he continued, "We came here to work for a slaver who died because the plague happened and these days, Gilly and I are in a contest to know who shouts louder than the other. But you think it will be better." He laughed again and stood up. "My life wasn't perfect, but it was good. Then you had to grab for more power and look where we are now. You did this Tyrion Lannister."

 

He brushed past Tyrion and left.

 


 

You did this Tyrion Lannister.

 

Those words had become his nightmare. Sometimes, he heard the words in his dreams, but it Tywin Lannister who said those words to him disdainfully. Yet, he much preferred his father's disappointment to the venom that Sam had spat at him. Worse, the man was right. Since Sam had accused him, Tyrion had made sure to avoid him at all costs because of the belligerence that had followed. But then, Sam had begun to change. He was no longer the father whose son left a room when he entered or a husband whose sour mood distressed his wife, he seemed to be a changed man and had even extended that grace to Tyrion. At first, Tyrion had been suspicious, and deep down, he still was, but when one had no friends in a foreign land, one simply didn't ignore an offering of peace from a familiar face that had once been friendly. Such was it with Sam. Sam hadn't just stopped being unpleasant to be around, he had started inviting Tyrion to join their family more for meals. This day was one such day. Sam brought a sack of food to Tyrion's room and displayed his offerings on an old chipped table.

 

"What is this? A feast?" Tyrion joked.

 

"If only."

 

When Sam settled down to eat without his wife and child, Tyrion asked, "Where are Little Sam and Gilly?"

 

"Out and about, I suppose. Would you like some ale?"

 

Tyrion lifted his cup so Sam could pour him the beverage. They ate in companionable silence until he began to feel drowsy. It wasn't so strange, but it was quite unusual to feel this way when he wasn't even done with his meal.

 

"You feel tired now, but soon you'll start to feel numb," Sam told him as he bit into an apple slice. "Lys is known for her poisons." He held up a blue vial. "I put three drops of this in your drink. I was told adding that amount will cause temporary paralysis which is what you're going through right now. Ten drops will kill you, but a drop every three days will weaken you. Which is just enough for us to get to Vaes Dothrak. I'll be offering you to Jon and Daenerys if she's alive. You were at the heart of all their troubles and I pity you if she and her childrn are dead. You did tell me she has or had more than one child, didn't you?"

 

Tyrion tried to say something, but couldn't. His eyelids felt heavy, as did his limbs. He could feel saliva begin to pool in his mouth. Sam grimaced. "I didn't take into account that I'd have to clean up any messes you might make."

 

He could hear the door open, but couldn't turn his head to see who had entered. He wanted to cry for help, but the best that he could do was think about it. He heard Gilly's voice. He could hear the disbelief in her words. She was upset for Tyrion's sake. Good and kind Gilly. She would talk Sam out of this nonsense.

 

"What are doing, Sam?"

 

"Saving my family. We can't continue to live here. Not like this."

 

"So we do... this? How are we any better than--"

 

"I'm not trying to better than anyone!" Sam snapped and then in a calmer tone, he added, "I just want us to be safe and happy. I've not been myself since..." Tyrion could hear him take a deep breath. "I made you cry, Gilly. Little Sam became afraid of me. That's not me. That's Randyll. I don't want to be like that anymore."

 

"Then don't be like that. We could go back to Horn Hill. Your mother and sister are there--"

 

"We can't go back to Westeros because we don't know what we will meet in Westeros. I have no allies there. There's a war there and if the Hightowers, who now control the Reach, haven't already joined in, they will soon enough. Neither the Hightowers nor the Martells think much of me. My mother and sister... Gilly, the best that I can hope for is their safety. But I can't wager ours away. Mayhaps, we will return back to Westeros one day, but that day is not today and certainly not anytime soon."

 

"I don't like this, Sam. What will our son think?"

 

"He'll understand one day."

 

"So what do you plan on doing now that you have him this way?"

 

"Give him to Jon as a peace offering. Jon is nothing if not forgiving."

 

"I don't know how forgiving he'll be when you--"

 

"Then we will tell him about Selsa too. If Ser Davos is there, it's all the better for us. According to Tyrion, his spy informed him that a town flowered around Daenerys. It's said to be a place of second chances. Don't you think our son deserves that? Don't you think you deserve that?"

 

"Sam, listen to yourself!"

 

Tyrion listened on as Sam said more to convince Gilly and from where he was, he could feel Gilly give in reluctantly.

 

"Daenerys... Sam, she has a dragon and... I don't know if this is wise."

 

"We don't have to see her. We just have to meet with Jon and Ser Davos."

 

Gilly's sigh was loud, but she finally conceded.

 

I'm fucked. It was the last thing he thought before he succumbed to slumber.

Chapter Text

YARA

 

Mayhaps she had bitten off more than she could chew. Mayhaps she should have just allowed her men loot this godsforsaken Westerlands and leave the vassals under her to rot, but she had a debt to pay. Mayhaps she should have set her sights on the Reach instead, but she had neither the gold nor the forces to take on the Hightowers and their allies by herself. A year had gone past since the war for the throne had begun. Neither the Martells nor the Hightowers thought it appropriate to reach a compromise. Sometimes, she provided support and other times, she had to sail between the Iron Islands and the Westerlands to make sure that things didn't fall into total disarray. A man knocked on the door and walked into her audience chamber without being invited in.

 

"What is it now?" she asked.

 

"Some lady is not happy that you favour another lord over her or something of the sort. Tis a new day, but the same shit happenings."

 

She chuckled at that. It was true. I wish I had a dragon. She wondered what had become of Daenerys. If, by any fucking chance she's alive, I'm switching sides, she thought amusedly to herself. She rubbed her temples and said, "Come Colrin, let's go see what this is about."

 

 


DAVOS

 

Vaes Dothrak or the Cannibal Village as some called it, was a little paradise that remained undisturbed for the most part. He had been here for a moon turn and he had fallen into the quiet and gentle rhythm of life here. It was what this place did: it was a lot more peaceful and accepting than Westeros, undoubtedly taking its cue from its leader. Daenerys ruled her little town the way he imagined she might have ruled Westeros had things not taken an unpredictable turn for the terrible. Here, she was loved and revered by all. Not so in Westeros where tales of her tyranny had been promulgated. Well, except for the Iron Islands, Dorne and the Reach. She still had a loyalists there or those who may have been her loyalists if she had ruled.

 

He wended his way through the farmland and helped some worker pick up a tool that had slipped from her hands. The farmland stretched before him like a great blanket of golden, brown and green squares. It rose and fell like giant waves on a gentle ocean and was dotted with animals and people. Occasionally, some of those people would stop to stare at him warily or curiously. Tormund told him to think nothing of it. He didn't need to be told. He had suffered worse than the suspicions of strangers. He walked to where his horse stood and climbed on it. He was to follow Jon to the Eastern part of Vaes Dothrak. Jon said the garrison was at least a two day ride away from the town. But only if they rode hard and fast.

 

When he got to their camp, it was to see some guards there standing not to far from where Jon and Daenerys were in deep discourse. Whatever she said just then, made Jon smile slightly. It reminded Davos of their time as rulers in Westeros.

 

A just woman and an honourable man.

 

Well, at least it looked like they had found a way to rule together here. For all that the people recognized Daenerys and the Red Priestess as those who led them, Jon was also seen as one of the people who was generally looked up to. In the time that he'd been here, there wasn't a major decision taken without Jon's input. When Davos called to them in greeting, her expression shuttered and she nodded in response. Jon's reception was more congenial as was expected. He guided his horse beside a tree and came down from it. On his way to his and Liram's tent, he heard the voices of Jon's sons, together with Tormund's and the man, Liram. He took a turn to where they were instead. He met the lads talking over each other and standing right in front of Tormund as the man described the the snowy mountains that stood beyond the Wall. He couldn't understand what they were saying, but Tormund did as he answered everything they said to him.

 

"Snow is whiter than your clearest eastern sky, lad."

 

"He's right," Davos chipped in. "It crunches under your boots like sand, but melts into water." He seemed to get their attention with that. "I'd never seen as much snow as when the Night--"

 

"--stood still," Tormund finished for him quickly and shaking his head at Davos.

 

Nonplussed, Davos waited to hear where Tormund would take this sudden change in conversation, but one of the boys, Jaehaerys, asked Davos a question in High Valyrian.

 

"I'm afraid I don't understand Valyrian," Ser Davos stated regretfully.

 

The boy looked puzzled and said something else in High Valyrian. His brother soon joined him in speaking to him in High Valyrian, making Tormund and Liram chuckle.

 

"You two do know that he knows you can understand the Common Tongue, don't you? He heard me talk to you just now." Tormund said to them, making the boys confused looks transform into smirks before they ran away. "Little shits." Tormund chuckled affectionately.

 

Davos shook his head wryly. "Well their mischief, it is more preferred than dropping the chopped head of a criminal in a bowl o' brown. Some children in Flea Bottom used to do that."

 

"What's a bowl o' brown?" Tormund asked.

 

"Shit," Liram replied and all three men laughed.

 

"I thought Jon would be ready to leave by now," Davos observed.

 

"His queen seems to have something else in mind."

 

His queen. In a way, they did seem like royalty here: a queen and her consort or mayhaps even a queen and her king.

 

"Perhaps, she's telling him to keep an eye on me," Davos remarked humorously and explained when Tormund and Liram looked at him, "she doesn't like me very much."

 

Tormund's grin was wide. "Ahhh... Don't let that trouble you." The man hit him on the back. "She doesn't like anyone from Westeros except Jon."

 

"She likes you and Liram."

 

"She tolerates me. There's a difference. And Liram is a besotted fool for her so any kindness she shows him is out of pity."

 

"Oh, fuck off," Liram retorted while Tormund chortled. Davos grinned.

 

While he enjoyed the banter, he also considered what Tormund had said. Daenerys didn't just like Jon, she loved him as he loved her. This time, what he saw wasn't the excitement and recklessness of new and young love, but one that had grown into quiet understanding and maturity, strengthened by time and the willingness to fight for each other as there was no other way what stood between them would have come to be if they didn't think it worth fighting for. He wasn't privy to how they had come out of the ill that had festered between them in Westeros, but he was glad for this very outcome. For both their sakes.

 


 

He smiled and pretended not to see, from the corner of his eye, the boys sneaking to take a peak at him and running away. He heard them say things to each other in their foreign tongue and he continued whittling until they finally came to stand in front of him.

 

"What are you doing?" Daeron asked. Both boys had accents when they spoke in the Common Tongue, but Daeron's was just a bit thicker and his speech in the Common Tongue, a tad slower, was almost like he was counting his words.

 

"Whittling."

 

"What?" It was Jaehaerys this time.

 

"I'm making things with this," he lifted the tool for them to see, "and the wood. Whittling," he finished with a smile.

 

"What is your name?" Daeron asked, coming to stand closer so he could have a better look at what Ser Davos was doing.

 

"Seedavos," Jaehaerys quickly replied and said it like it was one name. "That's what Papa calls you, is it not?"

 

He laughed and said, "Not 'See Davos'. Ser Davos. My name is Davos and Ser is my title." He stopped whittling when he saw their looks of confusion. "Ser is a title given to a knight in Westeros."

 

They both brightened. "Tormund... he is from Westeros. Outside the Wall," Daeron disclosed, the 'r' in Westeros rolling of his tongue. Then he frowned. "A knight?"

 

"Beyond the Wall," Davos corrected. "A knight is a brave man who serves his king or queen or both loyally."

 

"What is loyally?" Jaehaerys asked.

 

"To stand with and for someone no matter what. That's loyalty which is another way of saying loyally. Take you two for example, you're both loyal to each other. Your father and mother are loyal to each other."

 

"So my brother and I are knights?" Jaehaerys asked.

 

"You can be. But a king or queen or another knight has to make you one and that's after you've done something brave and courageous."

 

Crestfallen, Daeron said, "We don't know a king or a queen."

 

"You do," Ser Davos replied and then stopped himself from saying more. Tormund had told him of Jon's misgivings about sharing too much information concerning himself and Daenerys.

 

"Who?" the twins asked.

 

"You know a knight. Me."

 

That seemed to abate their curiosity concerning royalty and knighthood as they continued to ask him question after question to which he answered, not tiring of their inquisitiveness.

 

 


JON

 

"A-e-g-o-n?" Jaehaerys spelled out and then looked at his father beside him.

 

"Aegon," Jon said.

 

"Oh. Aegon. Con... c-o-n-q-u-e-r-e-d?"

 

"Conquered," Jon answered patiently. He smiled when he saw Daenerys' smile. At this pace, Jaehaerys wasn't going to read past the first line before she sent them to bed. Both their sons had started learning to read in the Common Tongue. They were reading the histories of the Targaryen kings. A book that Ser Davos had given Jon. He had said good things about the Princess, Shireen, when he gave it to Jon.

 

"What is... conquered?" Daeron asked. The boy was speaking the Common Tongue more often now. He was lain on Jon's back with his jaw on Jon's shoulder, peering at what his brother was trying to read.

 

"Conquered is...," Jon started and trailed off, thinking of the best way to explain it.

 

"Conquered is when you win. When you defeat someone. Like when Aegon, our ancestor, conquered the Seven Kingdoms and all the other kings who lived bent the knee to him," Daenerys said.

 

He could see how keen they had gotten when she said that. The boys loved stories of Westeros. Mayhaps, it was because of the storytellers, mainly Tormund and Ser Davos, who had painted majestic pictures of the place with their words. Or their mother's stories of the rich history of House Targaryen. He didn't know, but it was all they would talk about now.

 

"What kings?" Daeron sat up on his father's back, interested.

 

"Bent the knee?" Jaehaerys asked almost immediately after, shifting so he could sit closer to his mother.

 

"To bend the knee is to swear fealty and to swear fealty means to fight by someone's side no matter what. Like Tormund and your father. He always supports your father."

 

Jaehaerys' face puckered as he tried to make sense of what she said. "Like to be loyal? Like a knight?"

 

"Exactly like that, sweetling," she responded. To Daeron she said, "King Torrhen Stark of the Northernmost Kingdom bent the knee to Aegon Targaryen and his queens." She turned to Jon and continued, "He was wise enough not to face them in battle else the Northerners would have burned like the rest who had thought to defy Aegon."

 

He stared back at her, his heart quickening in his chest.

 

"So the Northerners are good?" Daeron asked.

 

Jon's heart beat faster and he swallowed. He knew that she had no love lost for where he grew up. The last time she had been there, she had received suspicion, ill-treatment, ungratefulness and worst of all, his cowardice and neglect.

 

"Mama!" Daeron said impatiently, waiting for his mother's answer.

 

After a long pause, she replied softly, never taking her eyes of him. "I know one who is."

 

Before they could ask who that was, Jon quickly said, "Tormund. He's from the true North." Finally breaking his gaze away from Daenerys'.

 

He could feel his heart halt. He didn't like revisiting anything that would lead to them down that road, but he was thankful for the confirmation that she saw him the way that she did. Sometimes he worried that she would think she made a mistake to let him become a part of her life again. Moreso since Ser Davos had come. She thought he didn't know, but he could feel her withdraw from him.

 

"No. Tormund is from outside the Wall," Daeron argued.

 

"Beyond the Wall," he and Daenerys said together.

 

"Tormund is from the North. I like Northerners," Jaehaerys declared innocently, unaware of the pained look that crossed his mother's face.

 

"It's late. We'll continue on the morrow," Jon told them, taking the book away from Jaehaerys and closing it to his and Daeron's annoyance. Jon sat up and Daeron fell onto the bed exaggeratedly.

 

"I don't want to sleep. Why can't we stay here?" Daeron asked in a voice that had turned somewhat nasal.

 

"Because young warriors sleep in their bedchambers. You're a warrior, are you not? You have the braid to show for it," Daenerys countered reasonably enough for him.

 

"I am a warrior too," Jaehaerys said, quickly getting on his knees from his sitting position. "And so is Papa and we don't have braids, do we Papa?"

 

"No, we don't," he responded with laugh. Addressing both of them, he said, "You heard your mother. Warriors sleep in their bedchambers."

 

"We don't have to sleep here," Jaehaerys argued. "We could just stay here until our eyes are tired."

 

Daenerys laughed at that and stood up, walking to open the door. "Off you go." She gestured for them to leave with her hand and gave each son a kiss when they trudged out the door. When she shut the door and latched it, she held onto the handle for a beat. Her mouth twitched for a moment longer before she said, "Perhaps, I didn't properly consider all that learning about our family history would entail. This was... is a mistake."

 

When he didn't respond, she said, "Nothing? So I'm right then."

 

"I don't know how to answer that, Daenerys. I'm willing to learn about House Targaryen. I am learning about the House."

 

"The House," she repeated.

 

"Our House," he said immediately and then sighed. "I'm Jon Snow, Daenerys."

 

"I recall how proud you were to tell me what your real name is. My real name is Aegon Targaryen, you proclaimed."

 

His reluctance had nothing to do with her. Being a Targaryen had done nothing but bring people grief from the moment that he'd been born. When Sam had told him and he'd had time to think about it, for a small window of time, something in him fell into place knowing that he was not a bastard and he would have been more willing to accept that part of who he was if everything hadn't gone to complete and utter shit, but that wasn't to be; instead it had caused them both unimaginable pain in the end. Being a Targaryen didn't mean the same thing to him that it meant to her. If one thought of the name, Daenerys came to mind alongside Aegon the Conqueror and Daeron the Young Dragon and Aemon the Dragonknight. Not Jon Snow.

 

"That was a long time ago, Dany."

 

A pause.

 

She advanced towards him. "It is apparent to me that you're not willing--"

 

"I am willing. It's just... different for me. I didn't grow up hearing Targaryen stories the way you did. To me, the Targaryens and the dragons were legends. To you... it's who you are." When he saw her raise her head, he was quick to add, "I want to do this, Dany."

 

"No, you don't." She shook her head. "It's more an obligation than a personal want--"

 

"Does it matter?"

 

"Yes."

 

He exhaled and went to sit on the bed. "The last time...," He paused. "Look what happened the last time and how much trouble came with it. I don't want that to happen again, but if this is what you want--"

 

She joined him on the bed. "I don't want you to do it for me." She waited a beat and then added, "It's my burden to bear, not yours."

 

She planted a quick kiss on his lips and went on to undress like nothing had happened. Ironically, her sudden dismissal of their contention was very thing that made him feel discomposed.

 

 


DAENERYS

 

Fire cannot kill a dragon.

 

She found herself more drawn to the flames these days. She stuck her hand in the fire and watched it dance around her palm. It sang to her. A place of solitude where nothing else could tame the tempestuousness that had returned to her heart. Yet, the fire didn't necessarily mean embracing Fire and Blood like she had done before. Like one of the first times she'd had a dragon dream before her dragon eggs had hatched, taking comfort in the flames cleansed her somehow. She closed her eyes and envisioned herself burning in Drogo's pyre and then burning in the temple of the Dosh Khaleen. Those incidents had happened so many years ago. She had felt strong and new and fierce. Not so this time. This time what she felt was the will not to crumble in the face of this new information that Ser Davos had come with and all the wounds that it opened. It wasn't that she cared what happened to Westeros, the Seven Kingdoms had scorned her, it was knowing that the consequences of her decision years ago were even more severe than she had given thought to. And now there was a war and those that she had hurt were even more vulnerable. She felt that bitterness that came whenever she thought of her campaign in Westeros and the rage that simmered just beneath it.

 

She thought of Jon. Since the last time the matter of House Targaryen had been raised between them, things hadn't quite been the same. He didn't feel any affinity to their House and it felt, to her, like a rejection waiting to happen. If he were asked to embrace his Stark heritage, would he be so hesitant? Yet, she couldn't find it in herself to hold his disinclination against him. She too had separated herself from her House name because of how great her failures were when she had decided to let it swallow her whole. Or maybe all she had done was repress who she was.

 

The time for avoidance was over for her. As much as she feared who she was, how much madness there was in her, she couldn't help anyone without fully accepting all of who she was. The Seven Kingdoms was a Targaryen landmark and its people, their duty to protect.

 

What kind of a queen am I if I'm not willing to risk my life to fight them?

 

What kind of queen was she if she was not willing to risk her life to fight for them? She didn't feel like a queen anymore and hadn't for a long time. She didn't know if she wanted to be one.

 

You are my queen. You will always be my queen. Jon's pledge to her before he stuck that knife in her heart. She had become a queen who, one by one, those around her had stopped believing in. If she had been rejected in Westeros after she had risked all to save them, what would make this time any different? It made no matter: the images of Ser Davos' words about Kings Landing were firmly lodged in her mind. She didn't have armies and ships, but she had the resources to pay for several sellsword companies and freeriders and sellsails. Enough to win a war.

 

She thought of her sons. All they knew about life was what that had seen and heard in Vaes Dothrak. They had the childhood that she'd never had. To leave Vaes Dothrak for Westeros would mean changing what they knew and it would also mean deliberately taking them away from safety and acceptance into a nest of vipers. It would also mean that they were no longer boys with no last name. In Westeros, they would be Daeron Targaryen and Jaehaerys Targaryen. She frowned. In Westeros, due to the circumstances around their birth, their would be seen as bastards. The only life that Jon had known growing up was the life of a bastard and it was something that had shaped him into being the man he had become. A man who didn't think himself worthy of being more than that. Even now that he'd become more assertive, she knew he still doubted himself.

 

How many times in Westeros had he told her that he didn't want the crown? It had made no matter. Between them, it had never really been about who would wear the crown; it had been about, even without meaning to, the choice between her and his family. Targaryen against Stark. Ice against Fire. It was never supposed to be so. She had come with the hopes that in them, mayhaps, she would gain the family and the acceptance that she had craved for all her life, but alas...

 

She fisted her hand in the fire and sliced it through the flames. She loved the feel of it and the feeling of purification that it gave to her. She didn't feel mad here.

 

When she returned back to Westeros, if Jon came with her, he would face the same choice again. The Starks or the Targaryens. She was already beginning to accept the choice that he would make. At least this time, she had time, enough and to spare, to prepare for the inevitable. She would bear the pain that was to come, but she would protect her sons at all costs.

 


 

"I'm going to return to Westeros," she declared.

 

He had been leaning on a low fence and stood to his full height when she said that.

 

"What's wrong with our life here?" he asked.

 

"Nothing, but I destroyed a lot lives there and I have the means to make it better for them."

 

"We were at war, Daenerys. Those things are behind us. What we have here is what matters. Westeros is a world away and if we leave, how long will we be there?"

 

"We?"

 

He looked at her puzzled. "You're not going to Westeros alone." He asked again, "How long will we be there?"

 

"For as long as I need to be there."

 

"There's a war happening there right now. It's a war for power. We can't subdue either side without battling at least one. Who do we ally with?" He looked away from her and hesitated before he continued, "There are not enough Dothraki and the Unsullied... What I mean to say is, how can we win that war?"

 

"Sellswords, sellsails, anyone who can fight that can be bought."

 

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath in the way that he usually did when he was either getting impatient, tired or annoyed. When he opened his eyes, he looked at her and asked, "What about Daeron and Jaehaerys? Are we to remove them from the only life they have ever known to a world that doesn't care about boys their age?"

 

"They will be on Dragonstone. That's as far as they'll go into Westeros."

 

She could see him struggle with this. It hadn't been an easy decision for her either and truth be told, she didn't have a clear cut plan as she had the first time that she had sailed for Westeros.

 

"They are still with no last name?"

 

"Their names are Daeron Targaryen and Jaehaerys Targaryen. Neither gods nor men will question that," she answered fiercely.

 

Had she not been looking closely at him, she would have missed the small smile that flashed across his face before it returned back to solemnity. To her relief, he didn't bring up bastardy.

 

"You don't like this," she said, not the least bit surprised.

 

"Westeros is unkind."

 

"The whole world is unkind and only becomes what we make it when we bend it and shape it into what we want. I want to do this. I have to."

 

"What about the things that happened? People will talk. Our sons... they might hear things."

 

They both took care to avoid or move beyond the worst things that had happened between them and for the most part, they tried. Some days were easier than others, but he was right about this. Noble intentions aside, it seemed like a terrible plan in light of all the questions he was throwing at her. She couldn't even fully explain why this was suddenly so important to her.

 

"When people see me, they won't believe a lot of what they have heard. Some of the Dothraki here are skeptical and they believe in me. Surely people who don't care that much will be less inclined to believe that I died."

 

She saw him shift on his feet. He was clearly discomfited with the turn of what they were conversing, but he drew closer and said intensely, "I trust you, but I don't trust for things not to become fucked like they always do over there. I don't want you risking your life for nothing."

 

"It's not nothing, Jon. It's about how we will be remembered. What we leave behind is all that will matter centuries and millennia from now. For three hundred years, the world knew of the greatness of House Targaryen and in a moment of weakness, all of that became dust."

 

"So this is about House Targaryen."

 

"It's about doing what is right. I'm not asking you to come with me--"

 

"You're not doing this alone," he avowed. "If this matters to you, then it matters to me."

 

He looked like he meant what he said, but she had learned a long time ago that words were wind. She wanted to ask him what he would do if she set her sights on the North, but she was already swithering and she didn't need anything else to dissuade her. When the time came to be heartbroken, she would be ready. It didn't have to be today. (Write this last thing better).

 

"What about the Cannibal Village?" he asked.

 

"No one is coming here to cause any trouble when the Dothraki are here."

 

"They're not coming with us?"

 

"No. I'm not taking them away from their home again."

 

He studied her for a moment and she waited. "Are we going as conquerors?"

 

"If need be." Let it be fear. She didn't want that. In Westeros, she was sure that her actions had brought her name to bad repute. She knew that she would not be loved, but she didn't need to be loved as much as she needed to right her wrong. If the people feared her, then it was but a little sacrifice for the difference she wanted to make.

 

He nodded. "When do we leave?"

 

 


BRONN

 

Bronn had made it to Pentos on his way to find Daenerys Targaryen. He preferred Braavos, but if he had to get back to ruling Highgarden, then this was what needed to be done. He found an inn to settle in and made for the common room. He patted the side of his chest and felt comforted by the sound of clinking coins. He had sown pouches to his linen undergarments and padded them with wool so that the coins and jewels he had carried wouldn't make so much noise. He also wore undergarment on top of undergarment. He looked like a fat lord with all the pains he had taken to keep his gold and precious stones safe. The ones that he had brought with him. The rest of what he couldn't bring, he had put in the Iron Bank for safekeeping.

 

He glimpsed an empty corner and headed there.

 

"Hurry, Little Sam," he heard a plump woman with dark brown hair say to her son. Her voice sounded familiar, but the smells of food and drink heavy in the air took his mind away from her.

 

"You there," he called to a serving girl. Small teats. He noted as she came to him. "Bring me your best meal and drink."

 

When she left, he observed the common room and narrowed his eyes to be sure he didn't just see Tyrion fucking Lannister pushed out the door by a man in a thick brown cowl. He stood up to follow the people he had seen when be felt a knife pressed against his gut.

 

"Sit down."

 

It was one of the sellswords that he had hired. Bronn grinned and did as he was told.

 

"Ya found me!"

 

"You left us to die. You've surely been living well," the man gestured with his head at Bronn's false fat.

 

"Don't take it to heart. You would have done the same. Men like you and I, we have no honour. What we understand is gold." When it looked like he had the man's attention, he appealed to the man's greed, "Let's you and I talk gold."

 

"Get up. Disarm yourself and leave all your weapons on the table. Carefully. Don't do anything stupid," he warned.

 

As Bronn followed the man, he thought of what to do to get himself out of this predicament. When he noticed that he was being led to an alley, he worked his hand into one of the pouches that he had grabbed some coins, shouting, "FREE GOLD," and throwing them in the air. It was almost a physical hurt to part with that much gold, but his life was worth more. He made a run for it. He hadn't gone very far when he felt an excruciating pain in his left eye. He screamed in pain and held that side of his face as he felt what must have been blood and part of his eye trickle down his face. He pulled out the knife and kept running, but he felt something hit his leg and tear through his skin. He felt another pain on his side and fell to his knees. He scarecly made note of the screams around him.

 

"Bring him here," he heard a man say.

 

His entire body throbbed as he was dragged to the man who had just given the command. He searched and stripped of his clothing.

 

"Is this all?" he heard the same voice ask even as he heard the jiggling of coins in the background.

 

"Yes."

 

"Pity. Kill him."

 

It was the last thing he would ever hear.

Chapter Text

 

KINVARA
 
 
 
She had known this day would come. More and more, the Dragon Queen seemed to be around fires more. It was something that pleased Kinvara. As much as she had taken up the role of ruler in this small settlement, Daenerys Targaryen was made for greater things. She looked around the town's new "Great Hall." The old one had been torn down and this one was a construction of pale stone and roofed with tiles from Norvos. There was a raised dais of marble where a long table stood with one large chair in the middle where Daenerys sat and six others beside it, three on each side. On six of those chairs were Jon, Kinvara, a Priest, two of the elders of the settlement and two Dothraki leaders. She had summoned a few more people to join them in the meeting where she was informing them of her plans to return back to Westeros. Her plans were met with resistance. Most thought it unnecessary and if anyone thought it unwise, they didn't say. Daenerys had given her final word on the Dothraki not returning back with her and great was their vexation at that, but there was little they could do to change her mind so it was agreed that only a handful of the warriors, not more than an hundred, would follow back. She couldn't hear their tongue, but from what Daenerys relayed in the Common Tongue, she understood. 
 
 
 
Daenerys, Jon and their little ones would be exposed to the Three-Eyed Raven now, though Ser Davos had come with word that the broken king had fled. It made no matter. He had been silenced for now. It had been years since she felt his cold presence probe her. Daenerys had charged her to remain in the Cannibal Village, but she answered to the Lord of Light before she answered to anyone else and she told the young Queen as much. She would stay, however if the Lord needed her elsewhere like she felt he soon would, then she would leave, but not without leaving the town with enough protection. She wasn't going to leave the Dragon Queen and her kin without protection either. Westeros could be treacherous. 
 
 
 
When Daenerys stood, so did everyone else. Some stayed back to converse amonst themselves, but she could see both Daenerys and Jon leave together. She saw the old knight, the Onion Knight, who had come from Westeros walk hastily to meet up with Daenerys and Jon. a slight man with a weathered face and thinning hair peppered with gray. He'd been the one to help Jon find Daenerys and his sons. Jon had nothing but good things to say about the man. He had been the one to spur on Melisendre to use her magic to bring Jon back from the dead. She wished to know more about the Long Night, but it wasn't something that she had ever bothered to go into detail with Daenerys or Jon for that matter because both of them had avoided talking about Westeros with anyone save for very few instances and all those instances, she could count on one hand between both of them. She'd spent most of her life preparing herself and those under her leadership against the Great Other. Many thought that the supernatural forces in the North of Westeros had been destroyed, but as long as the Three-Eyed Raven still lived, he was a threat to those who called that continent home. The paradox of it all was that he couldn't be destroyed else all memory of life would go with him. It didn't deter her, however. There had to be a way to render him nonthreatening. 
 
 

 
 
"Ser Davos," she acknowledged when he approached her as she was nearing the temple.
 
 
 
"The Lord of Light according to how he's worshipped here is different from how he was first perceived by me," he said and turned away from her so he could cough. "Dust," he explained and continued, "Melisendre led Stannis astray with her nonsen--err--words, but she died a noble death fighting for the living. Thoros was..."
 
 
 
"Irreverent?" she asked with a raised eyebrow and he brightened which made him look less tired than he usually did. "He might have been so, but he fulfilled the Lord's will and that's all any of us can do, really."
 
 
 
"I suppose." 
 
 
 
"Walk with me, Ser Davos."
 
 
 
The sun shone like spun gold and it's light bounced off the puddle that she stepped over. From the corner of her eye, she could see Ser Davos curse and walk to patch of grass so he could drag his foot against it to wipe off the horse dung that he hadn't been able to avoid putting his foot in. 
 
 
 
"There's some water over there," she pointed at the well that some builders were digging just some stone throws away from the temple and waited until he had cleaned himself and rejoined her before she continued walking. 
 
 
 
"I spent a small fortune on this pair," he muttered, looking down at his black boots of which some parts were stained by mud. "So, you're the First Priestess?" he asked when he was done complaining.
 
 
 
"I am." she answered with a slight tilt of her head.
 
 
 
"Why didn't you come to Westeros yourself to fight with us?" he stopped and stamped his foot on the ground to get rid of the mud that had caked under his boot. "I smell like shit."
 
 
 
He didn't, but she could perceive, faintly, the unpleasant smell of the dung that had followed his boot so she invited him to her home, instead of going into the temple, where a servant would do better than he did in cleaning his boot. 
 
 
 
"You're not going to sacrifice me, are ya?" he chuckled.
 
 
 
"Only if the Lord wills it," she returned.
 
 
 
They walked in considerable silence when he wasn't whistling a tune. When they arrived at their destination, her servants went into motion. She heard the sounds of children playing in her courtyard and asked, "Issi se valītsossa kesīr?" Are the boys here?
 
 
 
A guard confirmed that they had been sent as messengers with a parchment from their mother and they came to deliver the message with a few other children. Kinvara smiled fondly. Both Daenerys and Jon had slowly begun to involve their boys in what might have been a "courtly life." She had even heard Daeron refer to himself as Ser Davos' squire. Both boys now held a new found fascination for all things Westeros. 
 
 
 
She invited him in and offered him a seat by a window overlooking the courtyard. When they had both taken their seats, she asked, "You witnessed the battle in the Long Night?"
 
 
 
"It wasn't that long." He paused when a servant set down a tray laden with a light beverage, sweet meats and cakes. "Thank you." To Kinvara, he quipped, "It was dark and full of terrors, however."
 
 
 
"Can you tell me what you saw?"
 
 
 
"We were on the battlements and had in not been for Daenerys and her forces that acted as both attack and defense, we would have been fucked."
 
 
 
"Melisendre?"
 
 
 
"Did the best she could. Her death... it was strange. She removed that," he motioned at Kinvara's choker, "and dried up before she fell to her death." Then he gave a wry smile and added, "Well, nothing is so strange anymore."
 
 
 
She nodded in agreement. For thousands of years she had prepared for the Night King and his army. For him to just die in one night...it was surreal. "It is strange that he died that easily, no?"
 
 
 
"The Night King? Good riddance. I wish he'd died sooner. Jon... You know, I met the lad when he was in command of the Night's Watch. Strong leader, that. And then I saw him unite the Free Folk and the northmen in the Battle of the Bastards just so they could all come together to fight against the dead."
 
 
 
"You're loyal. To Jon."
 
 
 
"You would be too if you know him like I do."
 
 
 
"Hmm," she hummed and leaned back on her chair.
 
 
 
He brushed the crumbs of cake off his beard and sighed, "A travesty, that."
 
 
 
She knew what he said was in reference to Jon killing Daenerys. "One I'm sure he will regret till the day he dies," she concurred. "Daenerys. She conquered Essos. Her ideology lives on. She's done more for this continent and Westeros than anyone else alive, yet after all her losses--"
 
 
 
"Aye." He had the grace to look ashamed. "But she had just burned down a whole city." 
 
 
 
"It was war."
 
 
 
"I hear you brought her back. Thank you. 'Tis true that she was treated without proper regard, but here we are and here she is. Daenerys was glorious in battle, I hear. Knocked the Night King right off his dragon, she did."
 
 
 
"A true warrior," Kinvara stated, unable to help the sense of pride she felt. 
 
 
 
"Aye. They both are. Snow and Fire."
 
 
 
"Ice and Fire."
 
 
 
"I'm afraid Jon wants nothing to do with what makes him ice," Ser Davos confided. "The Starks--"
 
 
 
"--are traitors and should have been burned alive."
 
 
 
"I don't think Jon would agree," he said amiably. "They're his family and Arya did kill the Night King."
 
 
 
"His family is Daenerys and Daeron and Jaehaerys. It seems to me like he thinks that as well. I hope he won't stray when he returns back to Westeros." He was right about the Stark girl, but she didn't tell him that.
 
 
 
Ser Davos chuckled and answered, "He won't."
 
 
 
 
 
 
TYRION
 
 
 
Sam had told him that if he brought any unwanted attention to their company, he would kill him. Tyrion knew that that was no empty threat so he had kept his peace. Still, he thought of a way to get out of this. He'd tried to talk to Gilly, but the most he could get out of her was guilty looks. Little Sam had tried to help him, sweet lad that he was, but he had been lambasted so severely by his father that he never tried again. 
 
 
 
When his wits weren't completely dulled by the poison, he tried to think of a way out. Nothing he had come up with was smart enough or feasible enough to work. 
 
 
 
The carriage jerked and he bumped his head against it. He closed his eyes and held his hand to his mouth to keep from retching.
 
 
 
"Hold it in," Sam warned. 
 
 
 
"Lord Tarly would be proud," Tyrion rasped. "A harsh man, I hear he was. A traitor too. What would he say if he saw his son right now?"
 
 
 
"Nothing he hadn't already said. What would Tywin Lannister say about his son?" Sam countered.
 
 
"What was it he said about me? Ah... yes. "You are an ill-made, spiteful little creature full of envy, lust, and low cunning." He would have rewarded you for having the balls to do, in a few years of knowing me, what he couldn't do in the lifetime that I'd spent with him."
 
 
 
"What's that?"
 
 
 
"Lead me to my death."
 
 
 
"I'm sure it's not for lack of trying."
 
 
 
"Certainly not," Tyrion agreed. "So what will you do when you face Jon? Do you think he'll welcome you with open arms? As the brother you were supposed to be to him?"
 
 
 
"Well I--"
 
 
 
"I can picture it now; you fall on your knees, crying and asking for mercy and then you tell him about Selsa and you both bond, again, over dead children," Tyrion finished with a cough. 
 
 
 
"Shut your mouth," Sam threatened darkly. 
 
 
 
"Or you'll do what? Murder me? You need me," he told Sam. "You don't frighten me. I was Hand to Daenerys Targaryen when she had the largest army in the world and three full grown dragons. What will you do if she still lives? Are you also going to... wait. What are you doing?"
 
 
 
His eyelids drooped. They felt too heavy. As he succumbed to unconsciousness, Tyrion imagined all the ways that Samwell Tarly would die if he ever escaped from here.
 
 
 
 
 
 
JON 
 
 
 
Daenerys was rubbing off on his sons. They had asked why it was they didn't sweat like others and their mother told them it was because of their dragon blood. Just the other day, he had had pulled Jaehaerys away from trying to walk into a camp fire because he and his brother had heard, from Maggo, what their mother had done in Vaes Dothrak. Something that he, Jon, had only ever heard of. He and Dany had given Ser Davos and those who spent time around the children leave to speak of their feats in Westeros because one of the boys had caught wind of Ser Davos' conversation with Kinvara and told his brother after which, both boys proceeded to ask Ser Davos so many questions. Backed into a corner, Ser Davos couldn't avoid answering some of them, but had withheld from the harder questions until both Jon and Daenerys had talked about what could and could not be said about their time in Westeros. The truth of it was that their sons were getting older and the older they got, the more curious they would be. Jon knew this because that had been his own predicament as a young child. It had eventually gone on to affect the way that he approached life. He didn't want what he underwent to happen to his sons, so in that, he fully agreed with Daenerys' decision about them being exposed to the knowledge of where they came from, but that was where it ended. They also had Stark blood in them as well, but his history with the Starks left a lot to be desired. It wasn't that he hated the Starks, he didn't, but those alive had spurned him and treated their mother even worse. He would have loved to tell them of Eddard Stark and Uncle Benjen, and his brother Robb and all the Starks before them who had upheld the proud traditions of the House, but he couldn't. Because bringing up the Starks would be to speak of his last moments in Winterfell and speaking of Winterfell would be to shine light on the hurt and heartache that it had caused their mother. A heartache that he had been a primary cause of. 
 
 
 
However, even with all these uncertainties, it was a joy seeing them full of awe for the stories and foibles of House Targaryen. The way their eyes lit up to know that they came from kings and conquerors and that they were named for revolutionaries wasn't something he would ever trade. So proud were they of their heritage that, at a point, he had to teach them lessons in humility when they had gotten into a fight with some other children for saying that everyone was beneath dragons. Dragons, they might be, but strength was to be used to lead and to serve. Sometimes strength is terrible, Daenerys had once said. It was true, but it wasn't something that he thought they should know just yet. Still, like their mother, he couldn't help his smile, whenever he heard them call themselves "Blood of the Dragon." 
 
 
 
Their claim for House Targaryen was all innocence and childlike wonder. A contrast to how their mother was taking it. For all her talk of embracing Fire and Blood, Daenerys did so hesitantly and when she let go, he could sense the anguish that came with accepting all of who she was. It was more a burden now than a desire. Perhaps, it had always been, but moreso now that she felt that she owed the people of King's Landing something. Sometimes, in order to convince herself that she was doing the right thing, she would get overzealous and that was what worried him. It wasn't a worry rooted in fear of what she might do. It worried him because she did it thinking that it was all she had. Like she had thought just before the siege of King's Landing when she'd been abandoned by all. She was wearing this like armour, expecting that he would leave her again and that she would fail in Westeros. She thought she had grown skillful at hiding these things from him, but the day that she had decided to allow him back in her life was the day that he had vowed to pay attention to the things that concerned her and though he didn't always get it right, when he did, he did because he observed. 
 
 
 
He wanted to love House Targaryen. For her, he did. But it wasn't an offer that she would accept. Be that as it may, he wouldn't forsake her again and he wouldn't let her fail in Westeros. 
 
 

 
 
After Daario had sent word back to Daenerys concerning the matter of hiring sellsword companies, she flew to Meereen to meet with a sellsword captain that called himself the Tattered Prince. According to Daario's account to Daenerys, the man had once ridden with the Second Sons before he left to form his own company. He was a Pentoshi fighter that went by the name of Rags or Tatters. She had been successful in convincing him to join her. 
 
 
 
Jon and Ser Davos had gone elsewhere to meet with Ser Davos' man, Sallahdor Saan. A Lysene pirate and sellsail of Summer Islander descent. He was pleasant enough. Much more so after he'd been paid. He had taken them to meet an interesting group of mercenaries that styled themselves "The Wolf Pack." It was founded by Timothy Snow of House Flintwood and Hallis Hornwood, Mad Hal. Both men had accompanied Lord Cregan Stark to King's Landing during the Dance of Dragons and then sailed for the Free Cities where they started the sellsword company. Many of those who were members of the company were of Westerosi descent, specifically northmen. A lot of them still worshipped the old gods. When Ser Davos mentioned whose son Jon was, the captain of the company embraced him. He'd been treated like a brother ever since. They would sail to the Bay of Dragons from the Free Cities and meet with Daenerys outside the city walls. He was happy that they now had three armies who would set sail for Westeros with them, but he wondered what she would think about these descendants of the North. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SAMWELL 
 
 
 
If the Wall was a frozen horizon, Essos was a league away from the seven hells. He was tempted to take off his tunic and walk in breeches alone. He wiped the sweat off neck and rode behind Gilly, Tyrion and Little Sam. They were heading for Meereen. Little Sam had heard from someone that they had seen the procession of a sellsword company, something about wolves, that was heading to Meereen. Little Sam said that man he heard from claimed there was a new captain who went by the name of Jon Snow. It would have been a coincidence had he not heard himself of Daenerys' return to Meereen. He felt like luck had finally smiled on him. According to Tyrion, his spy said that where Daenerys had made a home in Vaes Dothrak was a little village. If he made it there, he would not be able to avoid her and that posed a greater danger than the anonymity that Meereen would accord him. This way, he knew that he could sneak into the city and not draw attention to himself. 
 
 
 
He regarded Gilly. He loved her. She had been the first person in his life to ever believe in him and trust him for protection. She made him feel like a braver man than he really was. She had blessed him with a son and a daughter. He felt pained at the loss of his Selsa. It didn't take long for that pain to become anger and hate. He hated Tyrion Lannister. If the man had been as clever as people claimed he was, none of them would be here. 
 
 
 
"Don't tire yourself out, lad," he said dotingly to his son who was running in between horses with some other boys who were also travelling to Meereen with some guardian or the other. 
 
 
 
The wind stirred up the wispy sand and the sun’s never ending rays beat down on him mercilessly. Salty sweat rolled off his nose and dropped on his lips. He swiped his mouth with his palm. His clothing was overwhelmingly hot and sticky. The stiff, dry desert breeze blew sand into his eyes and he covered them. He rolled a large cloth around his face so that it could protect his nose and mouth. His tongue felt as if it was coated in fur and his lips were chapped and dry. He longed for crystal, cold water and the cool, comfortable weather of the Reach. He thought of his mother and his sister. He worried for them, still, he felt that if there was a place safe for them in Westeros, it was Horn Hill. Mayhaps, I should have taken my family there after my trial. Then Selsa would still be alive. He didn't know how things would have turned out for them. The Hightowers were the power of the Reach and House Tarly had fallen very far from grace in their eyes. 
 
 
 
He turned his thoughts back to Jon. What was he like now? He wondered if his friend was still as forgiving as he had once been. He hoped he was. Sam could have gone to anywhere else on the continent, but Jon had always kept him safe. If, perchance, he didn't feel the need to extend the grace of mercy to him, then he counted on Jon's compassion for Gilly and Little Sam. 
 
 
 
Tyrion had stopped his pony so he could ride beside Sam when Sam caught up to him. Sam gave him a side glance in annoyance. For a man who might be about to meet his death, the Lannister made sure to say all the words he had left to say and they were far too many. 
 
 
 
"Why take something warm and make it so cold? If this is alchemy, then you can keep those cold palaces for your cold ego, to house those bones that lost their soul. The sun spun this straw from mud and rain, grew a seed into a fine strand of such beauty. And so you see, blind wizard, nature is my alchemy," Tyrion rhapsodized.
 
 
 
"Philosophy doesn't become you," Sam remarked.
 
 
 
"Poetry," Tyrion said drolly. "Oh, don't look at me like that. Am I not allowed the art by the one who put me in chains? You know that Daenerys has no patience for slavers," he voiced thoughtfully. 
 
 
 
"You're not a slave," Sam answered impatiently to which Tyrion held up his hands and rattled his chains. 
 
 
 
"A word advice from an old friend?" Tyrion asked.
 
 
 
"We're not friends."
 
 
 
"An enemy, then. This is a fool's errand. I'm rather well known in Meereen. Head back now and save your own skin. Forget about me. We part ways and never think of each other again."
 
 
 
"Forget about you? So that you slither your way back to Daenerys' good graces and then tell her lies about me and give away my whereabouts? I trust you less than you trust me." 
 
 
 
Tyrion sighed and said, "If you're hoping that Jon will be happy to see you, you might be in for surprising turn of events and if, peradventure, he is, there's no scenario that I can think of where Daenerys sees you and your family and let's you go."
 
 
 
"I'm not going to meet Daenerys. I'm going to meet Jon and he is with Ser Davos, is he not? Little Sam mentioned that."
 
 
 
"So, you're risking our lives on the solid foundation of gossip that a boy may or may not have heard?"
 
 
 
Sam remained silent.
 
 
 
"I can see that there's no persuading you. You'll remember my words when your head is on the chopping block."
 
 
 
"As long as I die after you and don't have to listen to you blather away. Now, unless you have a liking for that poison, I suggest you ride in silence." When Tyrion opened his mouth to say something, Sam added emphatically, "Now."
 
 
 
"Would it please my master that I at least whistle?" Tyrion asked cynically. At Sam's silence, he added, "What if I breathe loudly?" 
 
 
 
When Sam began to reach for the vial at his side, Tyrion held his hands up and kicked his pony, leaving Sam behind to watch as the beast's short legs carried his prisoner away.
 
 

 
 
It had taken them over a fortnight to cross the two hundred miles from Astapor to Meereen. It was cool this time of day. The desert was peculiar in that it burned during the day, but became almost freezing at night. It was dusk now and even in his tiredness, he appreciated what he saw. 
 
 
 
Meereen was the largest, and looked to be, the most formidable of the cities along the Bay of Dragons. He had heard a fellow traveller that Meereen was as large as Astapor and Yunkai combined. Like them the city was made of brick, but unlike Astapor and Yunkai, Meereen's bricks were of many different colors. Its walls were higher than Yunkai's and Astapor's, thicker than Astapor's and better maintained than Yunkai's, studded with bastions and anchored by great defensive towers at every angle that he could see.
 
 
 
They rode to the city gate where a crowed of people thronged in and out of the gates. There were Targaryen banners as far as the eye could see. The sight made Sam reconsider if he was doing the right thing. Tyrion's words came back to haunt him. If Jon turned them away, then they were well and truly fucked. He was still trying to tamper his fear when he heard the resounding roar of the black dragon that was flying towards the tallest pyramid. Now that he was here, nothing about his decision boded well. 
 
 
 
"Gi--You," he called to Gilly in a low voice, cautious not to call her name in case anyone they knew noticed them. "I can't use your real name here," he disclosed apologetically when she looked offended. "We have to leave. Daenerys--"
 
 
 
"You there!" a strong-chested man with a hard ale belly yelled. 
 
 
 
Sam looked around in confusion and saw the man say something to some other men dressed uniformly while his eyes darted between Sam and Tyrion. When he was done talking to the other men, all five of them approached Sam.
 
 
 
"Who is that?" he pointed at Tyrion whose face was hidden by a hood.
 
 
 
"What's wrong with the half-man?" another chimed in.
 
 
 
Fuck! 
 
 
 
Tyrion was still drowsy from the last time he'd been given the poison.
 
 
 
Sam thought quickly and said as calmly as he could, "Oh him?" He laughed nervously, "He's drunk. He's a part of our troupe. We followed the sellsword company here."
 
 
 
"What company?" his companion asked.
 
 
 
"The...umm--"
 
 
 
"The Wolf Pack," Little Sam answered boldly. 
 
 
 
"Yes," Sam said immediately, nodding his approval for his son.
 
 
 
The man grunted and was about to let them go when another asked, "Why is the dwarf in chains?"
 
 
 
"It's a part of our act," he replied weakly. 
 
 
 
"Get off your horses," the man commanded all of them in a sharp tone. When they did, he spoke in a foreign tongue to two of the other men and then turned his attention to Sam. "We don't suffer slavery in these parts."
 
 
 
"He's not a slave!" Sam said frantically. "It's a part of our act." He could hear the desperation in his own voice. Gilly and Little Sam said the same, but their pleas might have as well been still air, for the men made no show of acknowledgement.
 
 
 
I'm a dead man, Sam thought as they were all led to the far end of the city wall where a large encampment had been set. There had to be thousands upon thousands of fighting men there. Above some tents were rags flapping in the wind. As they moved through the tents, it almost felt like he was back in Westeros. In the North, specifically. He passed through painted and stitched sigils of wolves. There were men, old and young, who looked Essosi, but dressed like Northmen as much as the climate would allow. In place of furs, they had capes of cotton, satin or silk. They came to a stop in front of a large open pavilion that was lined with fine linen and silk. There were casks of what he imagined was wine and crates that had jewellery pouring out of them. In the middle of the tent sat an ordinary looking man with an unremarkable face and a bushy beard. He greeted their captors in a spirited manner and welcomed them in. 
 
 
 
Sam tucked his arms under his sweaty armpits to stop them from trembling. The man who looked to be the leader looked at him and then at Gilly before he addressed the men who had arrested them. He barked some orders and soon afterward, some other men and women were brought before him. Sam had an inkling of what was being said and if his guess was right, the man had called these people to identify Sam and his "troupe."
 
 
 
His guess was right. 
 
 
 
"On your knees," a thin man said to Sam. 
 
 
 
"Now!" the man added more forcefully. 
 
 
 
Sam started kneeling, but immediately stopped and faced the man who was manhandling his family. "Get your hands off h--,"
 
 
 
He was struck down before he could finish that sentence. He spat out blood and when the ringing in his ears stopped, he could hear Gilly sobbing gently. He turned to look at her and his heart beat with pride when he saw his son glare at the men while be held his crying mother. His pride was short-lived, however. A man dislodged Tyrion from his pony and shook him awake, but Tyrion tipped over to his side and nearly fell. 
 
 
 
Sam noted as one of their captors gave some orders and then some others came up to where he and his family where and pushed him to move forward. 
 
 
 
"Please," Gilly begged, "we don't want any trouble. We're jus--,"
 
 
 
"Father, look! Over there! It's Ser Davos!" Little Sam said excitedly, pointing at a man with thinning hair who was trying to push his way through a crowd of people.
 
 
 
Sam wasn't sure if that was Ser Davos or not, but he joined in his son in repeated cries of 'Ser Davos' and nearly missed when one of the men asked how it was that he knew Ser Davos. Before he could answer the man, his son was quick to give a brief and slightly altered history of their alliance in Westeros. Smart boy.
 
 
 
Sam, Gilly and their son waited anxiously as their captors spoke amongst themselves until, finally, one of them said, "Follow me."
 
 
 
Sam's assuagement was incontrovertible. He scurried along and kept an eye out for Gilly and Little Sam to make sure that they were doing the same.
 
 
 
"Th-thank you."
 
 
 
"For what? You tried to come into our queen's city with a slave. The former slaves are even less forgiving of that than the Dragon Queen."
 
 
 
"He's not a slave," Sam murmured unconvincingly. "He's dru--"
 
 
 
"He doesn't reek of strong drink. He's not drunk," the man said conversationally. "It's no matter. Pray that Ser Davos knows you. More importantly, pray that he can speak for you."
 
 
 
"He can. He will," Sam said, feeling more heartened than he had in a long time. 
 
 

 
 
They were brought to a low brick hovel squatting amidst a row of similar hovels in the shadow of the great yellow-and-green pyramid that belonged to House of Rhazdar according to one of their captors. There was no Westerosi style sign outside the establishment. Instead there was a mark—a purple lotus—painted on the weathered wooden door.
 
 
 
To enter, the man had to knock twice on the wooden door and provide a secret code.
 
 
 
The space was much larger than it seemed from without, stretching off to right and left into adjoining hovels. What appeared to be a dozen structures from the street turned into one long hall inside. It was a lot different than Sam had expected it to be. It was clean with a sweet smelling scent, candles were lined on the floor and each open compartment with a table had wreaths of wild flowers hanging on the sides of the wall beside the tables. There was a pit at the far end of the room where pairs of naked men slashed at each other with knives while watchers cheered them on.
 
 
 
"Get in here," another one of their captors said, directing them into a booth. "The lot of you!" he added tersely when Sam struggled to move Tyrion.
 
 
 
When they were all seated, he rubbed the back of his neck nervously and waited anxiously until he heard Ser Davos' cheerful voice from down the hall. 
 
 
 
"Don't lose me my wager, Daario?" Ser Davos called out to one of the fighters. 
 
 
 
The man named Daario smiled smugly before he grabbed a hold of his opponent and slammed him to the ground, slicing a little bit of skin off the man who yelled curses at the victor. "Never." 
 
 
 
Everything that happened next seemed like it was out of a dream. Sam knew exactly when Ser Davos saw him. His eyes widened in surprise, but before he could get a word out, there was an indignant shout from across the room.
 
 
 
"Tyrion Lannister?!" the fighter whom Ser Davos had called Daario asked incredulously. "Is that Tyrion Lannister?" he asked again, climbing out of the pit and reaching for his arakh. In a few long strides, he had made it to where Sam and his company where seated, naked as day. There was murder in his eyes and Sam felt that familiar sickening rot of fear once more.
 
 
 
Sam swallowed his whimper and nodded at whatever it was that Ser Davos was saying to the man. He couldn't say what events followed the other, just that they were bound up and thrown into a dark cavernous place that faintly smelled of charred flesh. 
 
 
 
This is it, Sam thought. This is the end, he said to himself.
 
 
 
"I'm sorry I couldn't protect you," he said to no one in particular, heaving an exhausted sigh before he crumbled and cried.
 
 
 
 
 
 
DAENERYS
 
 
 
To a tailor, she was describing where she wanted the sigils embroided on the twins' doublets when Daario entered into the private audience chamber, dragging Ser Davos with him and pushing the old man in front of her. She looked up at both men and waited calmly for an explanation.
 
 
 
"Tell her." he said, but before Ser Davos could put in a word, "Tyrion Lannister is here."
 
 
 
Her gaze hardened and she looked sharply between both men. 
 
 
 
"I'm no traitor, Your Grace," Ser Davos countered. "I have been nothing, but honest. I didn't know that Tyrion Lannister and Samwell Tarly would make their way here. When we parted, I never thought that I would see them again."
 
 
 
Ser Davos continued to defend himself, but she held up a hand to stop him. 
 
 
 
"Time and again, you have shown that you're a friend to my enemies. Why should I believe you now?"
 
 
 
"Because I have no reason to lie to you," he answered looking her in the eyes. 
 
 
 
She turned away from him and walked towards the balcony to hide her shaking hands. 
 
 
 
She remembered when Khal Drogo had killed Viserys. It was the very first time that she had drawn strength from that well of calm that she hadn't known existed in her. It was the place that allowed her make ruthless decisions with clarity. It was a place that had grown silent since she has been brought back to life. She needed that strength now. 
 
 
 
It wasn't that she was afraid to kill Tyrion and Samwell. It was that she was afraid that there would be no holding back in punishing them and rather than calculated ruthlessness, she would employ a most severe kind of vindictiveness. The kind that Ser Barristan had said her father had enjoyed when he killed his enemies. 
 
 
 
"Find Jon," she commanded.
 
 
 
 
 
 
JON
 
 
 
Of all the things that ran through his mind as he hurried to answer to Daenerys' summons, he never thought that he would walk in on men pointing their daggers at Ser Davos' throat. 
 
 
 
He slowed his steps. Eyes alert, he asked cautiously, "What is--"
 
 
 
"You're here. Good."
 
 
 
"Daenerys? What is happening?"
 
 
 
"Daario," she said instead.
 
 
 
As he listened to Daario speak, his eyes were flooded with understanding.
 
 
 
Fury. That was the most prevailing thing in him at the moment. 
 
 
 
He turned to look at Daenerys. Beneath all that anger, he felt so many different things that he could only imagine what it was that she was battling with underneath her cool appearance.
 
 
 
When Daario was done speaking, Jon asked her, "What do you want to do with Ser Davos?"
 
 
 
"Leave us," she told everyone else, shaking her head gently at Daario's concern and waiting until the chamber had cleared out before she answered Jon. "Kill him if he's a traitor," she replied cooly, walking up to the table and picking up a cyvasse piece.
 
 
 
"Has he betrayed us?" 
 
 
 
"He says he hasn't betrayed me," she replied, holding up the cyvasse piece in between her thumb and forefinger of her left hand and tracing its edges with the forefinger of her right hand.
 
 
 
"Do you believe him?" Jon asked, noting, once more, her use of "me" instead of "us". 
 
 
 
"What does it matter if I do or if I do not? You're going to beg for his life and I'm going to spare it," she stated, finally looking at him. 
 
 
 
"Not if he's a threat to you. Not if he's a threat to Daeron and Jaehaerys. Your judgement bears weight and meaning to me, Dany," he told her quitely.
 
 
 
She stared at him with an untypical expression before nodding. "I believe him." She paused to further explain what he had walked in on, "I had to satisfy Daario's sense of vengeance with that display. He doesn't trust anyone from Westeros who once served me."
 
 
 
He doesn't trust you, he knew she meant to say, but didn't pursue that line of thought. Daario's mistrust was of no consequence to him as long as Daenerys didn't share the same apprehensions about him.
 
 
 
"Tyrion has to die," Jon said, ignoring everything but the matter at hand.
 
 
 
"And Samwell Tarly?" she asked, slanting her head slightly.
 
 
 
"He pushed to have you and our sons killed, Daenerys."
 
 
 
Her look of surprise soon turned dark and it was at that moment that he realized that they had never really spoken of why he had come to Vaes Dothrak. 
 
 
 
"Ser Davos came to find me with tidings of your resurrection and word of our enemies' plans," Jon offered immediately, breathing in deeply to give more life to his heart which had begun to beat dully as he danced on the precipice of the woes that they had faced years ago. "He dies."
 
 
 
"Why didn't you tell me this?"
 
 
 
Jon swallowed and pressed his lips together because he had come to the conclusion that he would never know how to answer her concerning her death.
 
 
 
"It was Tyrion's knife, wasn't it?" She smiled sadly and slowly brought her hand to touch her scar as much as her garment would allow. "I want them to suffer," she admitted quietly, "I hear Tyrion is not lucid. I want him well within his wits, knowing that his life is about to end."
 
 
 
Jon nodded, ignoring the unworthiness he felt that came with the images of his treachery and Daenerys' lifeless body in the Red Keep. I am just as guilty as they are. He took a few steps and stood in front of her. "Whatever you decide, you're not alone."
 
 
 
"Hmm," was her response as she lifted her hand to stroke the side of his face and rested her thumb on his lips like she was wont to do. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
DAARIO
 
 
 
He sat across from Ser Davos, whose release Daenerys had ordered. "You're lucky."
 
 
 
"Aye."
 
 
 
"I should have known you were one of the men who betrayed her in Westeros when I saw you with the bastard."
 
 
 
"For fuck's sake," he said under his breath exasperatedly. "Yes, I failed her, but I didn't..." he trailed off slowly and paused.
 
 
 
"None of you deserve mercy. Least of all, Jon Snow."
 
 
 
"You might be right, but I'm a free man and she's not going to kill him."
 
 
 
"I can."
 
 
 
"But you won't."
 
 
 
"Why is that?"
 
 
 
"You love power. Your loyalties lie with her because she represents power. You respect her. You covet her heart and...you want to fuck her. She loves Jon. If you kill him now, she'll know you did and you might lose her."
 
 
 
"If his death is the price..." he shrugged nonchalantly.
 
 
 
Ser Davos smiled. "I'm an old man, Daario, and these old eyes have witnessed the might of a woman's heart. It's toppled kingdoms, lad."
 
 
 
"I'm a selfish man, Ser Davos. One who sees an obstacle that should be removed. Indefinitely."
 
 
 
"Selfish, you might be, but the heart is a masterful puppeteer and where the heart fails, the cock never does. You'll do the right thing by your heart or by your cock."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
DAENERYS
 
 
 
She had given orders that Gilly and Little Sam be accorded all the comfort that they needed. Every day since then, word came to her that neither mother nor son were eating or sleeping well. She had gone to see them a few days later and still remembered the deep sting she felt when Little Sam had recoiled from her presence in sheer trepidity. She was the monster in his night terrors come to life. It was but a taste of what she would face in Westeros, she told herself. 
 
 
 
It hadn't stopped her from speaking with Gilly who looked haggard from worry and not nearly enough rest. The bags under her eyes, Daenerys couldn't tell if they had come from lack of sleep or endless tears. Gilly had confessed to her that all she had done was look for and engage in honest work after her daughter had died. As a mother, she never wanted to imagine that kind of pain. She rejected the image of the lifeless body of Daeron or Jaehaerys. It angered her anew that these men had tried to take them away from this world. From her. 
 
 
 
It had been a strange few days and now she was ready to get on with all of it so that she could move on from this for good. The longer she delayed, the more malice the captivity of Sam and Tyrion would bring to her life. 
 
 
 
Jon was having a hard time of it as well, but he insisted that he stood for her. With as many people who had once betrayed her in one place, she didn't know what to believe as she thought of the last time they had all been gathered in one place.
 
 
 
She reined in her mount at the far end of the city wall, outside the city, climbed down from the horse, and thanked a guard who came to guide the beast away from her, waiting until all who had to be here arrived. 
 
 
 
One by one, they came. Ser Davos, Daario and some of his men, Jon who came to stand by her, and finally, the sellswords that had apprehended Tyrion and Sam at the gate days before. She didn't want the usual pomp and flair that came with trials such as this and so she had declared to a small number of people that the trial would take place outside her city in the middle of the night. 
 
 
 
When Tyrion and Sam were brought before her, her bravado nearly crumbled. These men and Jon had brought about her downfall. She had thought the years had helped in healing her pain, but it would seem not. At the moment, there was a chasm that kept expanding in her heart. She cast a glance at Jon. He looked different than she had ever seen him. His hair was tied tightly at the back of his head, giving him a more severe look. Gone were the looks of love, happiness, disbelief, uncertainty, and guilt he usually had when he was around her. In their place, flitted the promise of death.
 
 
 
She breathed in deeply and said, "Tyrion Lannister, Samwell Tarly, step forward."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
TYRION
 
 
 
When the effects of the poison wore off, he had thought of everything to say to get him out of this set of circumstances. He tried convincing himself that he had survived far worse and that fact had given him enough confidence to carefully craft the words that he would save himself with. 
 
 
 
Those words fled him the moment he was brought before Daenerys. Her silver hair, longer than he remembered, shining like beaten gold in the light of the fires that the torches held. It was braided in Dothraki fashion, but not as elaborate as the day that she had burned down King's Landing. She was utterly beautiful to behold. She wore what looked to be red gown that disappeared into black the lower it got. There was a three-headed dragon brooch pinned just above her left breast. Every bit the Targaryen, she was. She had been brought back and, through unbending will, he had no doubt, fought her way to this position of power a second time. Some people were born to rule. Tywin Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen were names that came to mind.
 
 
 
Beside her, stood Jon Snow. 
 
 
 
The first time he had ever seen him had been at Winterfell. He'd been a stripling with a bastard's name and point to prove. The young man had seen, lived, died and come back to lead. But fate had twisted him since his return from the dead and certain events had led him here. 
 
 
 
He wore a simple black tunic with sleeves that stopped at his elbows and leather gauntlets that ran the length of his forearms and stopped at his wrists. The silver attached to the gauntlets glinted in the fires. As Jon dusted the speck of ash that had landed on his breeches, Tyrion thought of how he looked nothing like the broken man who had been imprisoned in his cell. Save for the brooding and his long features that spoke of his Stark heritage, he hardly looked a northman.
 
 
 
No one present could miss that together, the young leaders looked like a united force. His heart went out to the Lords of Westeros if Daenerys ever decided that she wanted to return. They would be ground to powder before her.
 
 
 
"Tyrion Lannister, Samwell Tarly, step forward." 
 
 
 
He could hear his blood rush in his ears. Sam snivelled and fell on his knees.
 
 
 
"Do you know why you're here?" Daenerys asked.
 
 
 
Tyrion shifted uncomfortably as Sam whimpered his pleas to Daenerys. As frightening as Daenerys could be, he wagered that Jon would be the harder shell to crack on this night.
 
 
 
He didn't think clever words would save him so he went for the truth. "Ordering for your death. Although, I don't suppose it's the first time I did seeing as the man who I suggested kill you is--"
 
 
 
His head whipped sharply to the side as Daario struck him. "Do you want to die with your tongue still in your mouth or not?" the sellsword enquired tersely. 
 
 
 
Tyrion worked his jaw and wiped his mouth. He didn't miss the flare of her nostril which was the only indication Daenerys gave that she had heard him. Jon, on the hand, blew out a small breath to hide the troubled look that had stolen into his eyes. Good. Jon felt guilty and if she had taken him back as a lover, then there had to be some remorse that she was feeling. He would use that to fight his way out of this if there was a chance of his survival. So he tried a different tactic. "Daenerys," he started gently, "What was I to do after the devastation you left in your wake? You wanted to break the wheel. You--"
 
 
 
"You're not leaving here alive," Jon finally said, cutting in.
 
 
 
His ruse didn't work.
 
 
 
"Ah, the Bastard of Winterfell finds his voice. Yet, here you are. For succeeding where I failed. Again. Varys implied you were weak. He said that our queen was too strong for you. If only he could see you now," Tyrion returned, enjoying the grimace on Jon's face. If he was to die, then he too would strike with words to cause wounds to this renewed devotion that Daenerys and Jon had built between them. Sometimes, words cut deeper than Valyrian steel.
 
 
 
"You sent assassins after my children," Daenerys told him. "You don't think that you're going be spared, do you?"
 
 
 
He sighed. "If you took the man who killed you back into your bed, then I shouldn't be blamed for the embers of hope your generosity flames in my heart. But alas, the woes of being born dwarf."
 
 
 
"Surely, you can do better than self pity," Daario mocked Tyrion, though he looked at Jon Snow.
 
 
 
The disdain in the sellswords eyes for the other man could not been hidden. It was a pity that the man's loyalty to Daenerys was stronger than his hate for Jon Snow. Else, why would he be here not calling for Jon's head. Tyrion thought to raise the question, but Sam spoke before he could.
 
 
 
"Jon...please," Sam begged, but Jon ignored him.
 
 
 
"Ser Davos, testify to the character of an old friend?" Tyrion turned to implore the former Hand. Ser Davos sent him a sad smile and Tyrion's anger grew. This was no different than the time Tywin would have seen him sent to the Wall or had him killed. "What is the purpose of this farce of a trial if I'm guilty beyond redemption, then? You could have had any one of your men strangle me in my sleep. Daario, mayhaps." He said while turning to look at her.
 
 
 
"I wanted to look you in the eye before I sentenced you to die."
 
 
 
"It’s very hard for one to take truth from his enemy, but easy to take lies from a friend. Let me counsel you one last time, Your Grace. I see so you have amassed another host of armies. Having served you for years, my postulation is that, once more, you have taken the mantle of conqueror. Unsurprisingly, with Jon Snow by your side. Westeros would rather rot than see a mad woman and her kinslayer lover rule over her. You're going to fail."
 
 
 
She responding smile was cruel.
 
 
 
"Is that all?" Jon asked, sardonically. "You're a man of words, Lord Tyrion. You never seem to have a shortage of them, but this time, they're a penumbra of wisdom."
 
 
 
"Hackneyed. Banal. Trite," Daenerys added as if counting the ways she thought his words useless. Her perception of him made louder by the silence of everything else save for the crackling of the fires and the life he could hear bustling in the city from a distance. 
 
 
 
I would let myself by consumed by maggots before mocking the family name and making you heir to Casterly Rock. Tywin Lannister's words came back to him just then. All his life, he had been the blemish in Tywin Lannister's otherwise untarnished legacy. The scorn of House Lannister. He'd been born a dwarf, killed his mother by being born, caused the deaths of Tommen and Mycerlla, and brought Daenerys to the shores of Westeros, which had led to the deaths of Jamie and Cersei. Despite all that, House Lannister had survived through him until he had meddled in the affairs of Dorne. This time he had destroyed the Lannister name for good. Just like Tywin had always feared. What would Tywin say to him if he saw him now?
 
 
 
It was no matter; the end of putting the Lannister to name to shame was at hand. You would be proud of me, father, Tyrion thought ruefully.
 
 
 
He put his thoughts aside. Tywin didn't matter as much as the compulsion to survive. Mayhaps being this close to death was making him delirious enough to try to reason with his judges. Mayhaps it was to spite his dead father. He'd done it so many times and he'd never failed. "Look at the three of us," he started amicably. From the--" He jumped when the dragon landed just beside the gathering. Then his fear deluged him. "Daenerys, please." 
 
 
 
"I, Daenerys Stormborn--"
 
 
 
"I only did what I thought the realm needed," he rushed on.
 
 
 
"--of House Targaryen, sentence you to die."
 
 
 
He closed his eyes waiting for the fires to consume him, but they never came. When opened his eyes to entertain the paring of hope fragmenting through his despair, he saw Longclaw raised in the air. 
 
 
 
"No, Jon! Please w--"
 
 
 
 
 
 
SAMWELL 
 
 
 
He held his breath as Jon brought down his sword and slashed Tyrion Lannister's head off his neck in one swift strike and trembled as Jon knelt to wipe clean, the bloody sword, against the clothes on the corpse like the life he had just taken had never meant anything to him.
 
 
 
This Jon was different than the one he knew in Westeros.
 
 
 
He retched when a guard kicked Tyrion Lannister's head and it rolled close to him. 
 
 
 
"What do we do with the body?" some man asked.
 
 
 
"Burn it, feed it to the stray hounds on the streets, throw it in Skahazadhan. It makes no matter," Daenerys replied, leaving the gathering and heading for her dragon.
 
 
 
Sam thought fast. Surely, she would take pity on him for the sake of his only living child. 
 
 
 
"Dae--Your Grace! Please, mercy! Jon! My--"
 
 
 
She turned to look at him, silencing his pleas and then fixed her gaze on Jon who nodded at her. In no time, she was airborne. 
 
 
 
"Jon, please. Please... Forgive me. I didn't think that it would ever come to this. You weren't supposed to know," he begged. Pausing and squirming at his wrong choice of words.
 
 
 
"Don't beseech me, Sam. It means nothing to me. Apology is not repentance. Given the likelihood, if the same events reoccur, you will make the same choices again."
 
 
 
"No, it's--"
 
 
 
"You're not sorry because you wanted Daenerys and my sons killed. You're sorry because you got caught," Jon said plainly.
 
 
 
"I swear to you, Jon..."
 
 
 
"Your words are tantamount to nought. Save them for the bounty on your head," Jon said, looking at Sam like with a look that bespoke enstrangement. It was as if they had never been brothers. "Daenerys has given you a chance you didn't give her. You'll leave the city this night and run with your family. Specific orders have been given that no one will harm Gilly and Little Sam. But know this, you will live for the rest of your life always looking over your shoulder, never knowing if that day will be your last," he finished.
 
 
 
Sam raised his hand to reach out to Jon, but thought the better of it.
 
 
 
"Never come back. Not here nor anywhere you think I am. If you do, I'll kill you," Jon threatened with finality before he walked away.
 
 
 
He trembled and keeled, weeping in relief of being spared and for a friendship he knew, with certitude, was lost forever.
 
 
 
 
 
 
JON
 
 
 
He washed his face, dried his hands and went on to pick up Longclaw by the pommel so he could see if he had cleaned off Tyrion's blood properly. Feeling no remorse or sadness when he recalled the man's last moments. He looked up when the top of the pyramid creaked loudly, lowering the chandelier--which swung violently from side to side--significantly, and smiled when he heard Drogon thrum.
 
 
Daenerys. She had returned from her flight.
 
 
 
When she didn't come into the chamber immediately, he dropped the sword, picked up a platter of fruits and his wineskin and went to her. 
 
 
 
He stopped to admire her as she stood on the terrace by her lonesome. She didn't turn to look at him, but he knew she was aware of his presence. 
 
 
 
"I burned with anger when I first heard that Tyrion and Samwell Tarly had found their way here, I wanted their cries to sing to me and to dance in a puddle of their blood, but when I saw them, it was more about meting out justice than it was about vengeance. I'm not saying I wish Tyrion were alive, but his death was more merciful than all the ways I'd imagined."
 
 
 
He understood. 
 
 
 
"You did the right thing." He came to stand beside her, placing the platter of fruits on the parapet, nudging it close to her. 
 
 
 
She shook her head at the offering. "'We', Jon Snow." 
 
 
 
Dropping the wineskin, he picked up an apple and sliced it with his dagger so he wouldn't give away just how much her inclusion pleased him. It meant all the more after the things that Tyrion had said that night. He crunched into the apple slice and savoured its sweetness. Allowing himself that little pleasure before he gathered courage to ask a dreaded question. 
 
 
 
He hesitated. He couldn't bring himself to ask anything just yet. 
 
 
 
"Sam will never know that there is no bounty on his head. The illusion of something can be just as effective. When I saw Gilly and the way her son looked at me, I couldn't bring myself to kill Sam. I was on the run for most of my childhood. I didn't want to perpetuate something that would be a vicious and paralyzing cycle." She gave him a wry look. "Although, I don't reckon they'll ever know that." 
 
 
 
"The gold you gave Gilly will help them." He reached for her hand and squeezed it. Letting go only when she pulled away.
 
 
 
"Samwell Tarly..."
 
 
 
He waited for her to continue.
 
 
 
"He's your best--"
 
 
 
"Was," he corrected. 
 
 
 
"Are you glad he's alive?"
 
 
 
He knew that honesty was the only thing she would value so he answered, "There are some things that cannot be forgiven, Dany. We were brothers once. For a very long time, but he..." He tried to think of how to put to words what he felt. "He took something away from me. He would have done worse and left me blind to that knowledge...but I wouldn't be human if I didn't feel nostalgic for the simpler times. Nonetheless, they are not worth being tethered to any longer." 
 
 
 
She closed her eyes and raised her head as a gush of wind swept through the night, making her shiver a little.
 
 
 
"Are you cold?"
 
 
 
"Not so much that I can't bear it."
 
 
 
He looked around and made to go to the chamber to get her something warm.
 
 
 
She laughed. "Jon, I'm alright."
 
 
 
She stretched her hand and Jon have her the fruit in his hand. Breathing out when she wiped the juice landed on her jaw. She picked at the fruits daintily and sighed when she didn't see what she wanted.
 
 
 
"Persimmon?" he asked with laugh.
 
 
 
She smiled and without a word, he went to one of the persimmon trees planted on the terrace and plucked a few. He went into the chamber to wash them and brought them to her. When he passed them to her, she took the dagger from him and cut them up the way she wanted, offering him a piece.
 
 
 
They ate in silence, offering and collecting from each other until she spoke in another tongue. 
 
 
 
"What?"
 
 
 
"What had they ever conquered?" she posed, causing him to be puzzled. "I was a fool to have heeded any counsel that Varys and Tyrion gave me about conquering Westeros." she opined more loudly. 
 
 
 
Her words troubled him because he had also counseled her. Tense, he endeavoured to ask her what had been on his mind since Tyrion had spoken. "The things Tyrion said... Do you...I'm..."
 
 
 
"A mad woman and her kinslayer lover?" she asked, her question lacking any bite or malice. "Quite the pair we make, don't we?" 
 
 
 
He wanted to ask what she thought of him, but he couldn't. Restless, he looked down and began separating the cut pieces of the persimmon fruits from the others. 
 
 
 
I'm sorry, he offered silently.  "Are we still to return home three days from the morrow?" he asked aloud instead. 
 
 
 
"Yes."
 
 
 
Not willing to let Tyrion have the last word, but cautious not to cause offense, he said lightly, "So many ghosts live with us, Dany."
 
 
 
Her silence made him falter.
 
 
 
"That was a terrible joke."
 
 
 
He almost missed the amusement that danced in her eyes. 
 
 
 
"Well, I'm not a fool at court," he returned.
 
 
 
"Thank the gods. You'd be whipped for failing to make anyone laugh," she bantered.
 
 
 
He grinned, feeling truly at ease for the first time this night. 
 
 
 
"You're not wrong, you know. We do have a lot of ghosts between us. Aerys the Mad, Rhaegar, Lyanna..."
 
 
 
"The Night King," Jon added making them both laugh.
 
 
 
"White Walkers?"
 
 
 
"That's a bit redundant, Daenerys."
 
 
 
"Notwithstanding, I make better jests than you do."
 
 
 
"Aye," he conceded with a broad smile, unable to help the way his heart felt for her. He grew serious. "They're all gone, but we're still here."
 
 
 
"We are." 
 
 
 
She drew closer to him, not enough for their skins to touch, but enough that he could smell the faint whiff of smoke mingled with her scent that clung to her. She twisted to face him and stretched out her hand. He placed a fruit in it and held her wrist for a moment too long, raising his other hand to run his forefinger slowly from the bridge of her nose down to its tip. Her eyes grew soft.
 
 
 
He wanted to tell her not to doubt herself, but now was not the time. It didn't escape him that she hadn't used any of her titles when she passed Tyrion Lannister's sentence. He would give his life to ensure that her campaign in Westeros didn't fail this time around.
 
 
 
Her stomach growled and she looked down at her belly with a scowl. "Persimmon can only do so much."
 
 
 
He snorted when she withdrew her wrist and bit into the fruit as her stomach continued to growl. 
 
 
 
He was grateful for the undercurrent of light-heartedness between them at the moment, but he knew the respite was only temporary. There were still things unsaid between them and a fear of the future which haunted them.
 
 
 
 
 
 
BRAN THE BROKEN
 
 
 
He had been looking for Jon, but curiosity had swayed him the moment he locked his eyes on Daenerys. He forced them to stay on her even as his eyes began to bleed. They burned more the nearer she flew away from Meereen. 
 
 
 
He could hear someone call his name from a distance and roused the ravens around him to chase the intruder away. 
 
 
 
He followed her to a mountain and screamed in pain the further she got away from the mountain.
 
 
 
"Bran!" Sansa's worried voice persevered through the fog in his head. "Brandon! It's me. Sansa. His eyes are bleeding." Her voice bore a panicky tone. "Bran, can open your eyes? Maester Wolkan, Ser Brienne, please bring him in." she commanded urgently.
 
 
 
He felt himself being lifted and taken to a place much warmer than the godswood. 
 
 
 
"Bran," Sansa called.
 
 
 
He opened his eyes, but he couldn't see. 
 
 
   

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 DAENERYS

 

 

 

The decision for the sellswords not to follow her to Vaes Dothrak had been a very easy one to make. They might be paid to fight for her now, but that didn't mean that they could be trusted. Not with the lives of her people, especially when they could never stand to protect themselves against that number of armed men. She'd flown in two moon turns before. She and Jon had agreed that he would remain in Meereen while returned back to the Cannibal village so she could she take her sons there. Tormund had already travelled in the company of Ghost, some of her household, Raemar, and a hundred Dothraki warriors, including Maggo, who would follow her to Westeros. Between, her emphemeral return to Vaes Dothrak and her final depature from it, she would see to it that her people were well protected and that they continued to thrive in peace upon her departure. There was an overtone of sadness in her town the town. More and more people flocked to work in her manse or be around it. It caused her grief and it petrified her. What if this was another ill-thought plan?

 

Her announcement to her sons that they would leave for Westeros had been met with great enthusiasm, to put it mildly. But that was before Daeron understood that his friend, Tebi, wouldn't be able to follow them. He'd been surly ever since. Jaehaerys, conversely, was everything but. He couldn't stop talking about Westeros. His excitement lit up everyone and everywhere he happened upon. To him, Westeros was a place of magic and legends. It helped chase away the heaviness she felt whenever she thought about exposing her children to the vipers over there. She was risking their childhoods to salvage what she could of those she had rendered motherless and fatherless. Sometimes, she wanted to renege on her promise to a land that would hate her from the moment she arrived. Westeros had not been kind to her nor Jon. If all the conditions were fair and could bend to her, then she would not allow her sons set a foot outside Vaes Dothrak where they were swathed in love and acceptance. But she couldn't leave them behind.

 

"Mama! MAMA! MA-MA!"

 

"Jaehaerys, surely your father can hear you all the way in Meereen," she replied with an eyebrow raised slightly in reprimand. 

 

He had the grace to look a little repentant. "Mama, will we fly with you on our brother? Will we go on a boat?!" He asked her for what had to be the hundredth time. 

 

"Yes, Jaehaerys. You and Daeron will fly on dragon's back. You will be on a ship, not a boat--a ship is much larger--and you will see so many wonderful things that you haven't seen before," she answered patiently. "Daeron? Māzigon, ñuha jorrāelagon." Come, my love.

 

He plodded to her and stood in front of her with his arms folded and a fierce little scowl on his face. 

 

"Tebi--"

 

"Sweetling, she can't come with us. Would you be happy if she asked you to stay back while your brother, father and I left for Westeros?" She saw that her words had formed an understanding for him, but he was a hardheaded child and, therefore, didn't concede immediately. His brows furrowed in thoughtfulness. "You can always wear a braid to remember her by. It's why you wanted one, is it not?"

 

"Tebi thinks only warriors should wear braids," Jaehaerys chimed in. "Don't be sad, Daeron," Jaehaerys consoled and slung an arm over his brother's shoulder. "When we come back, you will see Tebi."

 

They didn't understand what returning to Westeros would entail. She had explained it as best she could, but the boys didn't really comprehend that they might never come back to the only home they had ever known and it made her fret. 

 

For the sake of her sons, she put it all aside for the time being and engulfed them both in her arms, pretending to bite them so that she could bask in the sweet music of their innocent laughter. 

 


  

She'd sought out Kinvara just before dusk. They stood in Jon's now empty tent. The faith she had in herself and her decision was in lacking severely in affirmation. 

 

"A short lifetime packed away in a few trunks and gunnysacks," Kinvara noted. "So fleeting."

 

Hearing her speak, Daenerys wondered just how many seasons the First Servant of R'hollor had seen. The Red Priestess' ruby glowed and she rubbed the precious stone.

 

"Too many years, my eyes have seen," Kinvara stated as if in response to Daenerys' silent question.

 

"Can you hear my thoughts?" she asked sharply. 

 

"Only what the Lord of Light wills, Daenerys Stormborn." Kinvara smiled. It was eerie, but it was a smile that had come to mean an undertaking and even comfort to Daenerys. "Some say darkness presses in, it doesn't. Darkness kisses up to your skin closer than a mother and whispers excitement into your ears. Darkness is your ally. It will block all your means of escape, until it has no reason to hide. If it was easy to spot darkness there wouldn't be a problem, how often are you confused with day and night?"

 

She refused to yield any willpower to fear. "How is darkness my ally?"

 

"What do you fear? Know that and you can unlock your own cage and step into the light."

 

"Speak plainly, Kinvara."

 

"Do what you must to protect yourself and your sons."

 

"They're safe here. I won't take them away if it means--"

 

"This is a road you have to walk if your children must be safe. Something wants you and the power in your blood. I see a war so terrible in its magnitude, it will sweep across the continents and I see it in the future. Hundreds of years into the future. I see Targaryen banners in that future and I see a white wolf. The Lord won't show me more."

 

"Does that mean that the Targaryen line through Jon and I will continue?"

 

"It appears so."

 

She waited for a moment, letting Kinvara's words sit with her before saying, "I killed so many people that I shouldn't have. Sometimes, they live in my dreams... Am I making a mistake?"

 

"Only you can decide that. You'll be in his sights now that he can see again."

 

"Brandon Stark? He's not dead?"

 

"He is in a sense, but not the Three-Eyed Raven."

 

"Wearing Brandon's body."

 

"Yes. He is getting stronger now. It was only a matter of time before he could see you here."

 

"I won't spare anyone who thinks of harming Daeron or Jaehaerys." She hadn't given much thought to the Starks and it was predetermined. She didn't care for them, but they could not be avoided. They were Jon's family. All Ser Davos had said of them was that Bran had escaped the rebellion and that was more knowledge than she cared to be informed of. If they were a threat to her sons, then it didn't matter how much blood and history they shared with Jon. 

 

Kinvara chuckled and smoothed Daenerys' hair. "I never thought you would. You have enemies in Westeros, but the Lord of Light shine upon you."

 

"You should come with us," she tried persuading. She knew it was futile. It wasn't the first time she had asked. The answer was always the same. 

 

This time, Kinvara gave her a knowing smile, but said nothing. 

 

"Will you remain here?"

 

"I have to return to Volantis, but we shall meet again one day, Daenerys Stormborn."

 

Daenerys looked at her for a moment and then enveloped her in an embrace, holding on tightly. "Thank you, Kinvara. I'm grateful. For everything."

 

Before she could say more, Kinvara pulled back from being embosomed and cradled Daenerys' face in her hands. "Whatever happens there, win."

 


 

That night, she grew fitful. For spells, she closed her eyes and could feel herself breathe slowly, rhythmically. She was in a barren state which was not sleep, nor yet wakefulness. 

 

"What is my name?" a familiar voice asked her.

 

She turned to look at person and saw a girl with silver hair in Dothraki clothing walk away from her.

 

"Who are you?" she asked.

 

"You," the girl said. "Who are you?"

 

Before Daenerys could respond, she swept was to the Dragonpit. She was in its midst and all over its ruins sat the people of King's Landing, but they were aflame and they were in chains. A man, whose face she could not see, stood atop a dais and led a chant. At first, she couldn't make out the words, for they sounded like an ancient tongue, but then, she understood. 

 

"A mad woman."

 

Suddenly, she was in front of Jon. "You will always be my queen."

 

"No!" she pleaded.

 

She jerked awake and found her breathing to be in shallow and short pants. 

 

She got up immediately and walked to the fireplace. Closing her eyes until her breathing was measured, she drew in one long breath and blew it out through her mouth, forcing her past victories to the fore of her mind and trying her hardest not to plummet into the gorge of dejection that was subtly becoming her consociate. 

  


  

She'd had to delay their departure because of how forlorn Daeron was. She remembered his tearful hug with Tebi and an even sadder farewell that the twins had had with Kinvara. Daenerys felt strange. She had spent the entirety of her new life with these people and now she was leaving them. Willfully, no less. She had changed her mind silently so many different times, doubting if she wasn't about to undo everything that she'd built in her peaceful corner of the world, but she couldn't turn back now. The wheels were set in motion and even if they weren't, Kinvara's queer warning was well placed in her thoughts. She didn't know what it meant, not really, but she supposed time would unveil all things. More importantly, she wasn't unprepared.

 

A gasp cut in on her cogitation. 

 

"Mama! Look! Mama!!!" Jaehaerys, who seemed fully recovered from his melancholy. Even Daeron had brightened. She heard their excited chatter as Drogon cut through the clouds and flew lower. It was their first time of seeing pyramids. They were even more resplendent in the purpling evening sky. 

 

"Don't let go!" she shouted through the wind. They risked falling off the dragon if they released their hands from its spikes.

 

She guided her black lower and sent a command to him to land at the top of the pyramid that she had claimed for herself. Getting all three of them down gently and safely, she  directed her sons on how to get into her quarters. She acknowledged the greetings of the men on guard and smiled when her sons did the same.

 

Their eyes were round as they walked into the quarters, their heads stretching every which way to gape at as many things as they could all at once. Jaehaerys stood by a chair, hopping from one foot to the other like a pup. 

 

"Over there at the terrace," she pointed outside her quarters to the terrace, "you can see the city below." They were on their heels before she could finish talking. She laughed. All the worries of her life had been muted and all there was to know about was this moment. No worrying about the past, no disquiet about the future. Everything was pure through her children's eyes and she just wanted to share this side of her world with them. The good in it. Up here, there were no signs of the evil that had been a history of this city for so long. 

 

"Mama, māzigon! Come see!" Jaehaerys exclaimed, switching from one tongue to the other in excitement. Look at all the...the,"  paused. "What are they?"

 

"Pyramids."

 

"Pyramids," they repeated in awe.

 

"Mama, they're like ants," Daeron glanced back at her and pointed down below. "Are we living in the sky?" His eyes got even bigger, but before he could ask another question, Jaehaerys was running in the opposite direction and calling out for his father joyfully which made Daeron look past her and join his brother. 

 

"Papa! We're on a pyramid and we can see smaller pyramids!"

 

"We flew and now we're living in the sky, Papa!"

 

She walked to meet them while they were clamouring for their father's attention and talking over each other, all the while clinging to whatever part of him they could hold. Jon nodded and smiled as they heralded him with great tales of what their eyes had seen. He looked up from them and regarded her the way he did whenever he hadn't seen her for a period of time. She did not flush, but it was a near thing. She returned his smile in greeting.

 

"Well met," he said.

 

"Are the Dothraki here yet?"

 

 "Aye. Some days past, they arrived." He looked down at the boys, "Patience, lads." To her, he continued, "Everything is in order."

 

"We set sail before the break of day."

 

"On the morrow?"

 

"The earlier, the better." She chuckled when she Daeron pulled at Jon.

 

Whatever plans they had yet to talk about would have to wait. The twins were bursting at the seams, enthusiastic about the new things they were learning. She wondered about Daario. He was the first father that they had known. It had been years since he saw them, but he never failed to ask about their wellness anytime he wrote to her about the happenings in Meereen. She hadn't yet given them the daggers that he'd gifted them. As much as they would need weapons as they grew in age, she wanted to preserve as much of their innocence as she could. Innocence that will be the cost of my own folly, she sighed inwardly.

 

"Alright, show me these smaller pyramids you speak of," Jon commanded in feigned sombreness.

 

They pulled him away from her and led him to the terrace, pointing this way and that below them. Soon, they were making up stories about the different buildings and the people below. Their laughter filling the air. Their stories were much better than the truth. 

 

 

 

JON

 

Daeron threw his leg over Jon and kicked over the offending silk sheets that covered them all. Meereen was hot, but up in the pyramid, it got really cold on some nights. It's why he was surprised that both boys didn't seem to feel the cold on this night.

 

Jaehaerys mumbled in his sleep and leaned closer to his mother. She had let them sleep in her bedchambers--their bedchambers--because dawn could not meet them in Meereen. They had to leave while the city slept. Daenerys didn't want to call attention to herself because of their sons, but he didn't know if that would work. Daenerys, at the very least, tended to arouse curiousity even without meaning to. 

 

The candles which hadn't burned out burned low, but they still provided enough light that he could see some things in the bedchamber. 

 

He couldn't sleep. Neither could Daenerys.

 

Preparing to return to Westeros felt like the night before any battle. It was full of unsureness and forced hope for a victorious outcome. The Seven--Six Kingdoms were lands with a history as long as the moral decay that it rotted in. He had no good will left for that realm, but he knew what it was that Daenerys was confronting within herself. That redemption and stillness within self that came with acceptance or forgiveness, and if one had disproportionate good fortune, both. He knew what it was like to crave for the forgiveness of the person or persons that one had wronged. He felt it too/ Although, his self-loathing had slowly been tamed over the years since he had gone looking for Daenerys, he still felt it. Some days were worse than the others, but his life was closer to peace since she had accepted him. Something that Westeros had never done. He would always be a bastard. And a kinslayer. Tyrion's words still remained with him even after his death. They had only spoken once about what Tyrion had said and he wondered just how much the man's words had affected her. 

 

She turned to her side and gently shifted Jaehaerys so that she wouldn't squeeze his arm which was situated between their bodies. Jaehaerys frowned in his sleep and Jon let out a quiet laugh. 

 

"Sleep eludes us both," he started.

 

She adjusted Jaehaerys carefully so that she could accord herself more comfort.

 

"It would seem so." She brushed Jaehaerys' hair. 

 

It wasn't just on this night. He'd awoken on many an occasion to see their bed empty since Ser Davos' arrival to Vaes Dothrak.

 

Westeros was still a voyage away, a voyage that he hoped would not end for a long time. He wasn't looking forward to returning to Westeros. It wasn't home and it had not been for a long time. He wondered if it had ever been. Perhaps, for a short time, it had. He'd felt that welcoming with the Free Folk, though, it had begun with suspicion. It had never been unconditional, not the way it was with his sons and not the way it had once been with their mother. Home to him was with Daenerys. Home was Daenerys. He knew that she might never feel that refuge and sense of complete invulnerability with him again...that he might never represent home to her the way she did for him, and as much as he wanted it, what mattered the most to him was that he gave her a home. To Daenerys, for a long time, home had been a house with a red door. One that had lemon trees planted around it. Perhaps, it had changed. Perhaps it was the two little boys that lay asleep between them. Or perhaps it was their sons and the house with the red door. He had promised to give the latter to her. A promise that he bore great eagerness to fulfill. One that would have to wait.

 

He couldn't say any of that to her now. It wasn't what she wanted to hear. For now, she wanted was peace. Peace that she thought saving Westeros would bring her. 

 

Westeros had never been a forgiving place. Monikers lived on longer than names sometimes. People who didn't know who Torrhen Stark was knew about the Kneeling Man and those who didn't know about the Kneeling Man had stayed at the Inn of the Kneeling Man. King Torrhen had saved the North from the wroth of Aegon and his dragon, but he was remembered as 'The King Who Knelt'. He kept his thoughts to himself, however. He didn't want to say anything that allowed for any gloominess. Their lives had been so occupied since they came looking for sellswords that any spare time they could steal was not wasted on fears or anything that would drudge up resentment. He liked it that way. 

 

He fortified himself for what they would face when they returned. He couldn't give her the home she'd always yearned for as yet, but he could give her his unyielding belief in her. If anyone could beat the odds, that person was Daenerys and if she ever doubted that, then he would be there to remind her of who she was. The time to face the past together would come, but it didn't have to be now.

 

"Jaehaerys says that Daeron had a rather tearful parting with his friend, Tebi. He didn't seem sad when I saw him," he remarked with hints of laughter in his voice.

 

"Flying and seeing a new world is a good enough boon."

 

Daeron turned abruptly and kicked his groin. Jon yelped, making Daenerys sit up. "What is it?"

 

He nursed his gonads and twisted away from Daeron. "Your son wants to see to it that we don't have any more children," he answered humourously in attempt to mask his pain. It hurt. 

 

When Daenerys didn't respond, he turned to glimpse at her and studied the thoughtful look in her face. 

 

"I've never allowed myself think of a future beyond the safety and survival of those I love. I never thought I'd have them," she continued, inclining her head towards the twins, "and certainly not anymore children than both of them."

 

He, like her, had never imagined that he would have children especially after all that had happened. What she had given him was more than he could conceive. Yet, he was keen on what she had to say about it and so he asked, "Would you like to have more children?"

 

She paused. "I don't know. Perhaps. Perhaps not. You said it yourself; Westeros is unkind. Moreso to the innocent than anyone else. And status matters over there. Would it be right to bring a child into the world if--"

 

"--they'll be seen as bastards?" he finished for her. 

 

She looked at the twins sharply and got up from the bed. He did the same and followed her to the terrace.

 

He had grown accustomed to the freedoms that Essos rendered. Some places didn't even know what a bastard was. He never wanted his children to feel the way he felt growing up. The solution to all of it seemed fairly simple now as it had been before things had gone awry years before--marriage. Would that it were free of trouble. He had never allowed himself the curiousity that extended beyond his expectations. She loved him for a second time when he knew he hadn't done anything to earn it. And he loved her irrefutably. And that had been enough. However, it was no longer about just the two of them. There were two other people who had been born of that love and stood to encounter the harsh realities that were an aftermath of the decisions that their parents had made. 

 

In addition to all his concerns, he could also admit to himself that he was quite unsure of himself when it came down to it. He did want to marry her. And he wanted to do it for especial reasons that went beyond how the Westerosi would perceive their sons. His uncertainties were because he didn't think she would want to be his that way for the same especial reasons. 

 

When they stood facing each other, in a muted tone, she said, "I want to do the right thing. I've always wanted to, but..." she shook her head. 

 

"You're doing what you must, Daenerys. They'll be on Dragonstone and the way of life there will be safe for them. You'll make sure of it." He observed her. Daenerys hardly ever let anyone see her fears, but the woman who stood before him couldn't hide her distress. "Three Targaryens conquered Westeros," he told her. "Four are on their way back. That's one more than Aegon and his sisters."

 

"Two of them are children." She paused. "Four Targaryens?" she asked. "I thought you didn't want to be a Targaryen."

 

"It doesn't change who I am."

 

"Westeros doesn't know that about you and it won't know that about Daeron and Jaehaerys."

 

"They are trueborn Targaryens and if anyone doesn't think so, then they can always air their concerns, but only if they dare."

 

Her mouth curved into the beginnings of a smile. 

 

"We won't fail," he asserted.

 

Her smile didn't last. "Bran is alive."

 

That was a surprise to him. 

 

"Kinvara," she stated as if to answer his question of how she knew, her visage inscrutable. "What will we do about him?"

 

He knew it was a test. While he was relieved that Bran wasn't dead, he knew that any hopes he'd ever had of both sides of his family uniting died the moment Sansa had been made aware of his Targaryen roots. He was suddenly angered at Sam again, but it was a fleeting thing. Sam wasn't solely to blame. He, on his own, had played an even greater role than Sam in destroying everything in the end.

 

"Mama?" came a voice from behind them.

 

She regarded him for a beat longer and then faced Jaehaerys. "Are you ready to be at sea, my love?"

 

He could hear the excitement in Jaehaerys' response and he could hear her wake Daeron, but he remained on the terrace. 

 

Westeros would surely test them like it had in the past, but what they needed to overcome ran a lot deeper than than the warring kingdoms across the narrow sea.

 

 

 

DAENERYS

 

It had been far too easy to get the boys ready for the journey. They had washed and then she'd presented to them the Targaryen-styled clothing that she'd had made for them which made them all the more giddy. Jaehaerys didn't even want to play in his new clothes for fear of ruining them.

 

She flew with them to the harbour where they waited for Jon to join them. They boys were happy to see Maggo and Raemar who were a part of the retinue that waited for her where Drogon landed. She cautioned the twins to stay close to them before agreeing that they could walk about the harbour as long as they didn't stray too far from her sights. 

 

Ser Davos and Tormund, to whom the boys were now showing off their clothes, were just a few stone throws away. She walked down into the bustling docks, stinking of long dead fish and seaweed and grimaced at the stench of rotting wooden lobster pots and old rope nets as she neared a huge ship which was moored in the harbour. She stopped beside its gangplank rested lightly on the hole filled pier.

 

Waving to calls of 'Mhysa', she turned her head to a group of men seated around a fire on crates, shouting profanities and saw Daario walk away from them towards her. She frowned. She didn't want her sons picking up foul talk and so she sent a command to Drogon who screeched loudly, making all present remain silent for the time being. She knew that might only work a few times, but it would have to do at the moment. 

 

"The Dragon Queen," Daario hailed affectionately as he met her.

 

"Daario Naharis," she responded in kind. "What brings you here? I'm sure the brothels weep over your absence at this time."

 

"Are you jealous?" There was a twinkle in his eye.

 

She laughed, but didn't respond. She liked that there was nothing so involuted about him. He was a simple man who symbolized a much simpler time in her life, and she wouldn't trade that if she could, but that was all he was and that was all he would ever be. Still, she valued his fealty to her. It was a very rare thing. 

 

He looked around and smiled broadly when he spotted the twins. "How they have grown," he said. 

 

"You should say something to them," she encouraged. "Dae--"

 

"No. I'm sure they don't remember who I am and even if they do, I will be nought but a fleeting memory in a few days."

 

"You shouldn't diminish your worth like that, Daario," she said wryly.

 

"I'm not," he told her blithely, "but it's better to be candid than to build wrongly on what is not truth." 

 

She watched him scan the place and could see his smile slowly disappear as his gaze hardened. "What is it?"

 

He looked at her and said, "You've surrounded yourself with people who would abandon you in less time than it it takes to blink. You can't trust any of these people."

 

"Sellswords?" she asked in dry amusement, to hide how much the truth pained her. "Yet, here you are."

 

"It's no jape, Daenerys. Ser Davos--"

 

"I'm not a fool, Daario," she disrupted. "Look around you. As long as there is enough gold to fill the coffers of these men, they will be loyal and thus, are a danger to anyone who would seek to betray me. I'm not unmindful of my past mistakes in Westeros that led me here. I'm not looking for love--I am beholden to the people whose lives I ruined and I just want to pay a debt."

 

His eyes softened and he smiled. "If you need me--"

 

"I do, but I need you here. I don't trust anyone else with my people here." A look of understanding passed between them. He, Drogon and the freedom of the Bay of Dragons were all that were left from some of the earliest days of her past glory. Although he had his own motives where she was concerned, he was the only one alive, besides her, who truly understood what returning to Westeros meant to her.

 

"Don't die," he cautioned, then he frowned. "Where is Kinvara?"

 

"She's doing the lord's work," she repeated the Priestess' words with fondly. She was momentarily distracted from their discourse when she saw Ghost trot away from Tormund and followed the beast's movements to where it now stood. Alongside Jon. She could feel a pressure on her heart that made it lose its regular repeated pattern when he drew closer to the ship. Maybe it was the thrill of seeing him in Targaryen colours or maybe it was something else. 

 

He stopped when the twins ran to him and showed him their fancy new clothes. As if he hadn't been one of the people to help them get ready in the pyramid.

 

She turned her attention back to Daario who had also noticed Jon. She had a good inkling of what his thoughts were towards Jon. Daario was not one to keep those things to himself, but it was far too late for her to take heed. 

 

"We have to leave soon, Daario."

 

He gave her a smile in response. 

 

"Keep my people safe."

 

"Always." He untied a sheath that held a small dagger and gave it to her. "For your safety," he said and then he looked at Jon, "and if it ever comes to it, protect your heart." He looked back at her tipped his head at her before leaving.

 

She watched him disappear into the crowd of sellswords and then looked down at the dagger in her hand. She closed a fist around it and sighed in an effort to stave off the hurt that came with what the dagger reminded her of. 

 

There would be a time for certain slights and betrayals to dwell with her. Presently, Westeros, more specifically, the people of King's Landing was all she could allow herself think about.

 


 

It was almost dawn by the time they were ready to set sail. She watched as the sails unfurled, revealing the sigil of House Targaryen. Each sail was a black cloth with a red three-headed dragon sewn on it. It didn't bring her pride like it once had, but she reminded herself of the strength in the image and the words signified that strength. Fire and Blood. Years before, she had tried to restore the glory of House Targaryen, but the last Targaryens had been its downfall and its end. Until she was brought back and now, four, instead of one, returned back to the land of their ancestors. What would she meet this time?

 

  

 

YARA

 

Ser Baelor Hightower is now our prisoner. Send some of your men to Dorne. Our forces are depleted and the Hightowers are sure to respond with force.

 

She read it again to be sure she was not mistaken. It was a letter from the widow of Moran Martell, Myriah Martell, Princess of Dorne. Lord Leyton Hightower's heir was now her captive.

 

It was the second year of the war between the Reach and the Dornish. Despite the resources and numbers that the Hightowers had, the Dornish were a stubborn lot. No one could say that the Hightowers were winning. 

 

She rubbed her eyes with the heels of her palms. It hadn't been a smooth transition from being in charge of just the Iron Islands to ruling over the Westerlands and the Iron Islands. She'd had to put down rebellions in both places. Her judgement had been swift and without mercy. The third and last time, she'd made sure that the punishment was especially cruel and very public. It had been several moon turns and she hadn't heard a complaint. She knew it wasn't because people had stopped being treacherous and so she didn't loose her guard. 

 

She tired of the war. Wars were costly. The Iron Bank sent an envoy sporadically to remind her of their arrangement. She wasn't thick in the head to forget it. She had a plan and, as yet, she hadn't failed in her obligations. 

 

 

 

BRAN THE BROKEN

 

"How are you, Bran?"

 

Sansa asked him the same question every day and his answer remained the same. "I can't see you, but I can see everything else, albeit blurry."

 

He could hear her sigh.

 

"Maester Wolkan, is there anything you can do?" he heard her ask, her voice rife with worry. 

 

"I'm afraid not, My Queen."

 

He heard the rustle of clothes and soon felt a slender hand on his shoulder. "You'll see again. You need to eat something other than weirwood paste, Bran. You need your strength if you have to see with your... other eyes."

 

He nodded and, though he couldn't see her, he could feel her relief. 

 

"Stay with him, Maester Wolkan. I'll see to it that food is brought to him."

 

When she left, Maester Wolkan spoke to him in his kindly manner, but he wasn't listening to the man. He kept trying to use his greensight. 

 

He imagined the last thing he tried to see. Daenerys Targaryen on her dragon. His deliberation was that image until he saw something flash past him. He sat still and waited.

 

Nothing happened. 

 

"Maester Wolkan."

 

"Yes, Your Grace?"

 

"Where is Ser Brienne?"

 

"I'm here, Your Grace."

 

"Take me to the godswood."

 

As she wheeled him there, he kept trying to see.

 

His chair came to a stop and he heard Ser Brienne say, "We're here, Your Grace."

 

"Place me before the face of the weirwood tree."

 

When Ser Brienne did as he commanded, he told her, "I want to be alone. Tell Sansa that I will eat when I am done."

 

"How will she know?"

 

"When she hears the ravens call."

 

Left to himself, he repeated his attempt without making any headway. He had forgotten what it was like to feel beyond the fringes of sentiment, but now what he felt was akin to the time that the boy, Bran, had lost his legs.

 

He opened his eyes and though the world was still black, he tried again. This time, the world through his greensight started out just as blurry as it had been since he lost his sight, and then things began to take shape and soon the world from the beginning of time was as it once was. Clear and uncomplicated. Histories aligned and he followed them until present day. 

 

He smiled.

 

Unwilling to risk losing this precious gift, he focused on Jon instead of Daenerys. Sansa wanted to know where he was. He followed Jon's path until he saw him aboard a ship. He was with two young boys with curls similar to Jon's. One of silver hair and the other, black of hair. His sons, undoubtedly. Bran listened and heard a man with dusky skin say that they had just sailed past the Isle of Cedars. 

 

They were on their way back to Westeros. 

 

He came out his greensight and made the ravens call.

 

 

 

JON

 

"No!"

 

"Dany." He shook her gently. "Daenerys!"

 

 Her eyes flew open and when she looked at him, he could see the horror in them. She pushed at him until he released her. He breathing was frantic and she was drenched in sweat.

 

"Daenerys, it's me. Jon," he said with gently like one would when approaching a frightened fawn.

 

She shook her head and, slowly, recognition seeped into her eyes. Sitting upright and resting her back against the wooden wall, she swept her hair, tangled by sweat and a restless sleep, away from her face. 

 

It had been a recurring thing since they had set sail for Westeros, her night terrors. The first night that it had happened, he'd awoken to her shivering and murmuring in her sleep.

 

It didn't happen every night, but it had happened enough times to know exactly what it was that troubled her. Sometimes, she asked for forgiveness in her sleep. On most nights, she dreaded falling asleep, but there were few nights when she would let go of those fears and let him hold her. On some of those nights, he'd whisper words of assurance to her. On some of those nights, he would bed her. Unfortunately, they were few and far between and the bad nights being far too many, led to days of distance between them. 

 

No matter what she let him see in their cabin, she always put up her mask when the day broke. Thankfully, Daeron and Jaehaerys brought out the warmth in her, but that warmth only made room for their sons and the dragon. 

 

Regardless of all her troubles, she was still the woman who commanded respect as the sellswords had fast learned. Besides Sallahdoor and some of his men, their ship carried the Dothraki and a few sellswords from the Windblown--the company of mercenaries led by the man, Tatters. 

 

"I have to clean myself," she said. "I'm sorry I woke you."

 

"You didn't," he said. 

 

She got up and picked up a gown from one of the chairs, putting it on and tying a sash around the gown to keep it from exposing her bare breasts. 

 

He swung his legs over the side of the bed and made to meet her, but she walked out of the cabin before he could get to her.

  


 

 "Daenerys, you can't keep on like this," he implored.

 

He'd stopped her from leaving after the brief council they had held on deck with Ser Davos, Tatters and some of the other sellswords. 

 

"Like what, Jon?"

 

"You can barely sleep and you don't eat properly."

 

"I'm alright."

 

"Are you?"

 

"What am I supposed to say? I failed in Westeros before, why should this time be any different?"

 

"You're not alone in this." How many times had he said that to her? "I decided to follow you to Westeros. I'm not going back on my word."

 

It seemed futile to try and convince her. With each interchange between them, he could see that her heart was hardening with unbelief. He knew that she had already decided that he would betray her for the Starks. "We never talked about Bran after we left Meereen."

 

Her eyes narrowed at him when he said that and she told him, "Kinvara thinks he's a threat."

 

"Did she say where he is? Ser Davos couldn't account for him."

 

She raised an eyebrow haughtily. "Your home, most as like. In Winterfell with the rest of your family."

 

"Winterfell is not my home, Daenerys." 

 

"Is it not? The North was a part of the Seven Kingdoms until your sister demanded for independence."

 

"Winterfell is not my home," he repeated solemnly. "If there is any threat to you or our sons, then it will be dealt with."

 

Her demeanor repudiated that, but said nothing further. 

 

It appeared she wanted to avoid the subject of Winterfell as much as he did, but he couldn't let the conversation end that way--with her thinking his words meant nothing. It troubled him. "If you want the North, then the North belongs to you."

 

"Like it did before?"

 

"What can I say to make you believe me, Daenerys?" 

 

"The truth."

 

"Alright," he said and braced himself for all the unpleasantness that his words were sure to stir. "The truth is that I made a grave mistake once. I can only say how pertinent I am, but what use is that when it will do nothing to erase the choices I made? I cannot change the past and I don't know what will happen in the future, but I can tell you about the present. I love you, Daenerys. I love the family that we have made and I swear on Eddard Stark's bones that I will give my life to keep you three safe. That is the truth."

 

Her face had lost its stubborn edge, but it remained unreadable. "Flowery words to make a maid swoon, Jon Snow, but words are wind."

 

He didn't let his dismay at her words show. "Do you want to know one more truth?" He didn't wait for her to respond. "You have condemned me. It's in the way you look at me. You have deemed me a traitor before we reach the shores of Westeros. It doesn't matter what I say, you are very certain that I'll betray you."

 

"Am I to be blamed for that?" she asked sadly.

 

"No." It grieved him, but he knew her suspicions were not unfounded. They were built on the foundation of all the ways that he had failed her before.

  


 

That night, they lay quietly beside each other. Neither of them made any attempt to touch the other. He itched to, but he felt disaffected from her. Their discourse earlier in the day adding layers of ambivalence atop the uncertainties they already had. 

 

He felt her shift and turn away from him. He knew that she in this, she wouldn't be the one to bridge this...rift and if he let it, it would only grow worse, so he turned and faced her back. "Dany." He put a hand on her shoulder.

 

She didn't respond, but she placed her hand atop his. He shifted closer to her until his chest was pressed against her back. She threaded her fingers through his and he slipped his other arm beneath her body so he could hold her close. He shifted back to allow her room when she turned over to face him.

 

The cabin was dark, but the half-moon provided just enough light for him to adjust his eyes to the darkness so that he could see her. She was beautiful. 

 

He raised a hand to her face and brought down his head so he could press his forehead against hers. She too raised her hand, but it was to hold his fingers that were splayed on the side of her face. They continued to stay that way as he watched her watch him. 

 

Her eyes began to droop. Her fingers grew lax, but she still held his hand. Soon, her breathing became heavier and she fell asleep.

 

 

 

DAVOS

 

He chuckled as he watched the twins scream and run across the deck when the sea water sprayed on them. He didn't know if it was Daenerys' doing, but the dragon had been taking plunges into the sea. It was far enough that it didn't trouble the waters near the ships, but not too far so that it made the side of the ship wet with splatters of water which were begin to pool on some parts of the deck. 

 

Their mother laughed when they ran back to her and asked if the dragon would swim again. They were a delightful pair. Or the dreadful duo, depending on who you asked on the ship. Fond as Tatters was of them, he avoided the twins whenever he could. 

 

They had been at sea for two moon turns now. He wished he could be on this voyage for a long time. The ocean was something he loved, something his respected. He understood its beauty and its dangers. He found true fascination by the way the waves softly crashed against rocky beaches, their curling fingers brushing each stone with a gentle caress as the winds ushered them gently towards the shore. The way the sun shone off the rippling water, its golden light warped in the twisted, glass waves. 

 

He felt a slap on his back and winced.

 

"Ser Davos!" It was Tormund. 

 

"Tormund," he answered cheerily and faced the man. 

 

"You're a true friend," the Free Folk said as he drank deeply from a his horn. "Nasha, is it?" the man asked, holding the horn away from him to savour the traditional fermented goat's milk from Norvos.

 

"That's what the wineseller called it," Ser Davos said with a sharp inclination of his head.

 

"Ah...a great reminder of Essos. I shall miss the place."

 

"It's a good thing you have two women to help preserve your memories," Ser Davos ribbed. 

 

"Two good women. I'm a lucky man, Ser Davos."

 

"Luckier than most of us," he agreed. 

 

Water sprayed again, this time, making the ship sway and causing Tormund's drink to pour over his horn. The man cursed. "Someone tell the Dragon Queen to control her beast."

 

"Why don't you?"

 

"And get burned alive?"

 

Ser Davos laughed at that and when his laughter quieted to a grin, he asked, "So, you're going beyond the Wall when we return?"

 

"Aye. I have lived another man's life for far too long."

 

"Three years? Four? That is hardly far too long," he told Tormund, but his friend's words make him consider his own life. How long had it been since he really lived for himself?

 

"Has it been four years? It seems like ten. I have a people who are like me beyond the Wall. What waits for you in Westeros, Ser Davos?"

 

"More of the same," he answered with a smile. 

 

Tormund stretched out a hand and swooped Daeron off the deck when he ran by them, making the lad squirm and squeal happily. Jaehaerys was shouting for his brother's release, but he remained by his mother's side. Davos could hardly tell who they boys favoured more. They seemed to get equally excited when they were with their mother or father. Tormund seemed to think they were more attached to their mother, Jaehaerys chiefly, but he disagreed. It made no matter. He was glad to see them grow the way they did. Their upbringing was different from the way most children were brought up in Westeros. He wondered how Jon and Daenerys would approach all of it when they arrived at the continent.

 

 

 

DAENERYS

 

She leaned on the taffrail of the ship and looked out into the sea where she could see smoke rise into the clouds a far distance away. Old Valyria. It was a ruin that was both mysterious and majestic. The mood on the ship had grown sombre and of the few voices that hadn't gone silent, she could hear the words of Ser Davos travel across the deck. He was telling her sons stories and they listened with rapt attention.

 

She listened on as he spoke of this once great civilization and all the dragonlords that had lived in it. She smiled when they asked about Aegon and his sisters. They knew the story by heart, they just never tired of it. She heard Ser Davos speak of the conquest and the victories that they had won. 

 

"...like mama?" she heard Daeron ask.

 

Soon, Ser Davos was telling them of the Long Night. She felt a great sadness wash over her, but she didn't leave. Why, she couldn't tell. Mayhaps, she wanted to know what someone other than her sons thought of her. In their eyes, she could do no wrong. She and Jon were their greatest heroes. 

 

As the Onion Knight spun a tale so grand, she pushed herself away from the taffrail and walked away. 

 

She prayed that they would never know the pain of the losses she suffered because of the Long Night. If he had lived, mayhaps, her sons would have seen the Long Night through his eyes. Or through Missandei's. *Forgive me.*

  


 

She wrestled with the dark, but most times she lost the fight. She had become acquainted with her sleepless nights where she tried to find comfort in happy thoughts and good memories of the past, but the clarity she sought for never lasted. Each time, she fought to take control of the lethargy that crept in and created night time horrors. 

 

She sat up, making Jon's hand fall away from her body. He would soon wake. She didn't know how, but since her nights became fitful, he seemed attuned to her plight. She reached down and caressed his hair. 

 

He stirred and she laid back down. In here like this, she could allow herself dream. She could believe in the fictitious--that everything would be as it once was--that she was just Daenerys, the idealistic queen who had come to take back the kingdoms from the pretender, Cersei, and he was the Northern king who had come to seek for an ally and had ended up loving her for who she was. In this dream, bad things didn't happen. King's Landing was not destroyed and the Red Keep still stood tall and proud. Together, they saved the realm from Night King and Cersei. In this dream, she saw Greyworm and Missandei and Jorah in her council. 

 

But it was not to be so. In reality, things were different. She ran her hand through Jon's hair and watched him reach for her. He was still asleep. She knew because his face had lost all its worry lines. He looked at peace. 

 

Since they had spoken of Bran, although, she still prepared herself for the eventuality of him choosing his family, she was much less stoic with him. It was difficult to be when, even in his hurt, he kept showing support and speaking his belief in her. 

 

It made it easy to conjure her dreams when she was awake. In this dream, there were no burning bodies in the Dragonpit, no assassins, no betrayals.

 

 

 

MAGGO

 

Being on a sellsail's ship was interesting if, sometimes, hard. For the sellsails, the voyage was a way of life with rules of conduct and a distinct social order. For the rest of them, the voyage was a temporary interruption, a period of little responsibility or control. 

 

It had grown dark as he walked the length of the large deck. He raised his arakh in response to a greeting from some sellswords and sellsails and replied in the little Valyrian that he had picked up. He was careful to evade a pair of fighting men he walked past. He didn't blame them. They were disgruntled and unlike their compatriots on the other ships who enjoyed the promise of wanton pleasures, this ship housed the Khaleesi and her sons so whoring was prohibited. It didn't stop some of the men from finding release where they could.

 

He went quickly to help a sailor who was trying to climb up the rigging and joined him in pulling down ripped sails. Across from them, the ship’s sailmaker sat on a stool with his mending tools. 

 

A bell rang and Maggo sneered. It was time to sup. He missed eating horse meat. The main rations on the ship were salted beef or pork, cheese, fish, ale and some form sweet dough which was baked until it was hard. Sometimes, if he were lucky, he would eat what the cook made for the Khaleesi and her family, not that it was much better. The quality of food on the ship had deteriorated because of storage problems, lack of ventilation, and poor drainage until Ser Davos had come up with a solution to salvage what had not rotted. It was the only thing about sailing that the twins hated. In the earlier days of their voyage, at least. Much to their delight, Salladhor Saan had come across a merchant ship and they had bought supplies and fresher foods than what the ship had originally offered.

 

It would soon be his turn to stand guard at the door of the twins' cabin. He smiled as he thought of what had made them retire early.  Salladhor Saan, with the leave of the Khaleesi, had charged them with catching the rats and other vermin on board. Maggo knew it revolted her, but she wasn't one to encourage laziness in her sons and it also gave them something to do whenever she and JonSnow had other matters to attend to. To the twins, it was hunting at sea and the very idea was a reward unto itself. One that they didn't mind paying the price of being scrubbed in hot baths every night. 

 

He dusted his hands when he was done aiding the sailor and hurried below deck so he could still meet some of the food and thus, not sleep with an empty belly. 

 

 

 

JON

 

The twins had seen their sixth name day when they sailed close to the shores of Lys. She told him that she wanted to give them the daggers that Daario had had made for them three years before, but Jon said he didn't think they should have them till they turned seven. She agreed. 

 

As it turned out, the best gift they could give their sons was making sure that they survived the storm on that day. As noon gave way for dusk, a storm picked up and soon the gulls were tossed paper in the tempest. There were flashes of white in the grey as Daenerys rushed their sons below deck. Maggo, along with Raemar, followed behind her. 

 

She ran back up and rushed to grab the hand of an old Dothraki woman who had fallen down. 

 

He couldn't let go of the rope in his hands as Salladhor Saan shouted commands to the men who held on to the sails as they struggled against the gale. Beneath them the sea rose as great mountains, turbulent and unforgiving.

 

The air became thick with salt and the ship jolted to the side, tossing her away from the old woman. "DAENERYS!" he shouted, but his voice was lost in the roar of thunder. 

 

"PULL!" Salladhor shouted. 

 

 He couldn't let go of the rope even if he wanted to. The mast that held the sail groaned loudly and showed signs of breakage. If it fell, it would fall on her. 

 

"DANY!!!"

 

His heart beat more loudly than the angry storm if such a thing was possible. His blinked away the salt in his eyes. 

 

He felt something tip the ship on its side properly and heard a loud screech. It was Drogon. If the dragon had just done that, then chances were that Daenerys had sent that command. 

 

He calmed himself so he wouldn't panic and succumbed to assuagement when he the air cleared and he saw her struggle to stand, using the taffrail to support herself and reaching for the old woman when she had gained balance.

 

Thank the gods.

  


 

After the storm, Salladhor Saan had guided the ship to the nearest shore for repairs. The boys had recovered from their fright, though they had obtained a few wounds, but soon took it as a their marks of pride when one of Tatters' men had told them that they had survived a war that the storm god had waged on them. 

 

All ships had been accounted for, but not all men had survived. The Wolfpack had lost seven and fourty fighting men. Some goods and horses had also been lost at sea. 

 

The losses only seemed to spur determination in Daenerys. She occupied herself with administrative duties, finding time to rest only when the twins demanded her attention. It was why he stopped in surprise when he came into their cabin and saw her deep in sleep. 

 

He walked in quietly and undressed himself, careful to not too make any noise that might disturb her. When he was done, he joined her on the bed and drifted off to sleep.

  


 

He felt the press of soft lips against his own and opened his eyes as she drew back from him. There was a fevered look in her eyes that bordered on hysteria. 

 

"Daener--"

 

She cut him off with another kiss and pushed him to his back, following him until she climbed atop his body. He held her face and broke the kiss. "Daenerys!" he called again, adding some force to his voice. 

 

She blinked. She seemed clouded by confusion and sat still until she became aware of where she was. She pulled away from him and made to get off him, but he held her by her waist. 

 

She stared at him for a moment and then bent her head to kiss him. It was fraught with agitation. He reached around her and rubbed the nape of her neck. She pulled apart from him and sat up to stroke his cock. He stopped her and moved them both until she was under him, turning her around and lifting her arse so he could mount her. Then he fucked her. 

 

It was hurried and it didn't last long before she cried in release. She lay limply on her belly afterwards and he climbed off her to stroke his member until his hand was sticky with his seed. 

 

He waited to recover some of his strength before he got up and went to a basin filled with clean water. He wet a piece of cloth and cleaned his hands and his cock. "If you keep looking at me like that, you'll fall the risk of not sleeping at all," he said good-naturedly when he saw her watch him. 

 

He took another cloth, lifted the basin of water and took the items to her where she began to clean herself. Some of her hair had come undone and he parted a loose braid away from her face. When she was done, he placed the bowl on the floor beside her and went around the bed so he could lay down. When he did, he pulled her to himself and held her, wishing he could shoulder her burden for her.

 

 

 

DAENERYS

 

She balled her hands into fists when they sailed close to Dragonstone. They were very close to Westerosi soil. She felt overwrought. She felt like the little girl she was so many years ago where she longed for acceptance. She knew Westeros would never love her, but she yearned for it all the same. She turned around to face the six Dothraki riders that she had selected to scout the Island for her. "...jadat irge akka astat anna fin yer tihat." ...come back and tell me what you see.

 

The ships were betwixt the islands of Driftmark and Dragonstone. She had scarce forgotten Euron's ambush. It embittered her, but she put that aside. She needed whatever confidence she could gather for this new path she was about to embark on. 

Chapter Text

SER BRIENNE



"Dragonstone," Queen Sansa repeated to Bran. "They're on their way to Dragonstone. Are you certain?"



"Yes," His Grace answered again.



"She's not going to leave us be," the queen stated, the corner of her lip upturned in slight sneer. It did nothing to hide the trembling in her voice.



Brienne looked around the solar. It was quiet and if she wasn't mistaken, there was a pervading influence of foreboding spreading amongst them.



"We're not safe. The dragon, Your Grace..." Ser Brienne started saying to the king before she exchanged glances with Ser Podrick. "You tried to control it once--"



"Can you control it, Bran?" Queen Sansa asked sharply.



"No. Not as long as Daenerys lives unless we have a hellhorn."



"What's that?" she asked atwitter.



"It's a horn that can bind the will of a dragon to whoever dares to blow it," Maester Wolkan answered.



Queen Sansa's eyes turned shrewd. "A dragonbinding horn? Where can we find it?"



"At the bottom of the Smoking Sea," the king said facing her, his eyes clouded in white and his lips stained in crimson, a sign of the weirwood paste he ate every day.



Queen Sansa frowned. As did Brienne. She supposed she should have grown used to his noncommittal responses. Their vagueness were worthless most times, but she didn't say that out loud.



"Jon..." the queen started, finally addressing who, Brienne thought, was the answer to all their problems.



"...is as he was the last time I saw him. By her side with both their sons."



The queen's lips tightened, but she didn't query her brother any further. The solar grew deathly silent as everyone in it pondered on what this all meant for them.



It was her words that broke through the still. "If she decides to wage war against us, we cannot hope to win." She was speaking to the queen now. "Your Grace, you have to--"



"No," the queen said immediately. "I will not surrender the North to a tyrant. What do you think she will do to us?"



"We're at a disadvantage. The North--"



"Do not presume to tell me what I can or cannot do, Ser Brienne. I have held these lands without your counsel for years, Ser. I will not sell the North to a tyrant," the queen snapped, her gaunt fingers folded around a the pelt on her shoulders. She raised her head high and moved her hand to her neck. "I wish we had Arya here," the queen said, sounding analogous to the frightened girl whom Brienne had rescued from Ramsay Bolton.



Lady Arya, according to the king, was a prisoner of war in faraway N'ghai.



"My Queen," Brienne tried again, "send word to Jon." When the queen wanted to speak, she went on quickly, "Reach out to your brother for help. The gods have heard the cries of your people, those who still live. The North is in a worse state than it has been in living memory. I urge you to send word to Jon Snow. He is the only one who could possibly stop her from taking the North with Fire and Blood. This was his father's land and his father's before him."



The queen contemplated her words for a moment and sighed. "What do you think he will do? What can he do?"



"What is right. He is a man of honour. He's also your family."



The queen scoffed, but Brienne could see some of the tautness ease from her mouth. "I broke my oath to him."



"He is a man of forgiveness, if nothing else. Send word to him."



The queen nodded. "Will you speak for me, Ser Brienne?"



"I swore an oath to my king. If he gives me leave--"



"I could go," Podrick spoke up for the first time. "With His Grace's leave of course," he hurried on. "I'm hardly known and I will not stand out as much as Ser Brienne would, making it less likely to be executed. If I steal into Dragonstone, I'll be able to get your letter to him."



"Does Jon know you?" Queen Sansa asked.



"He doesn't have to," Brienne said. "Is there anything you have that you could give Podrick as proof of the claim that he is there as your emissary?"



"Father's sword before Ice was passed unto him."



"Very well."



"Bran..." The king nodded, but said nothing. "Maester Wolkan, write to Jon. Tell him of things that are happening here. Be sure to note that this is also the Seat of his sons' ancestors." Sansa hesitated and took a breath. "Tell him of his brother's blindness," her voice had grown gentle, "and how his people die every day. Tell him that he is of the North and the North remembers."



It didn't sit well with Brienne how quickly they were willing to wield any altruism Jon still had in their favour, but she had made a vow to protect her king and the vows never defined the boundaries of how far she had to go to do so.  



Even as she thought those things, she knew her reasoning was weak. Was she still the same woman who fought in the name of honour?






DAENERYS



Her scouts had come back with accounts of what they had seen. It had taken them close to a fortnight to scour the island and the castle discreetly. There was a Khal now and he had taken up residence in the castle. There were huts of woven grass scattered across the Island. Their way of life was simple, but they had fallen back to some of the old ways. There were still some Targaryen banners to be seen hanging from the stone walls of the castle, but some of the Dothraki who suffered cursed her name for leaving them destitute. Mayhaps, the most distressing thing of all was word of the ramshackle scorpions they had failed in making. One of her scouts said that they attempted to remake the weapon the killed her child, Rhaegal, when his body washed up on the shore. It was an endeavour at a preemption should Drogon ever come to the island to attack them. Such was her legacy in Westeros, when even her own people would seek to destroy the greatest symbol of her strength because they didn't feel safe.



She would have sent word of her arrival to the new Khal, but she didn't trust that he would not disembowel her envoy. Strength was the only thing the Dothraki knew. It was the only thing they would bow to.



She was on Drogon's back now and stayed hidden in the clouds while her armies marched on shore. The infantry men were led by their sellsword captains who answered to Jon. Her sons were hidden away on one of the ships and surrounded by a host of guards. Jon had also made sure that Tormund and Ghost didn't leave their sides.



She awaited their signal. A horn would blow when the Khal and his bloodriders confronted her men.



Drogon heard the horn before she did and she could feel his scales grow hotter, feeding their bond with prescience of what was to come. She leaned forward and he took it as a command, making them both become one as he flew to the ground. The clouds parted and she saw the grim watchtower of the castle. As they drew closer, she saw the Dothraki. Those on horses and those on foot held arakhs, whips and bows in preparedness to fight.



All looked up as Drogon roared and the horses fled. The dust raised from their hooves, a sign of the panic that had charged the place. Some of the Dothraki still stood, though she saw their fear.



Her mount landed and she climbed down.



When she stepped foot on the sands of her birthplace, what she felt was nothing akin to the sense of destiny that she had been awash with the first time she arrived at Westeros. Now, it was a sense of duty riddled with guilt and the familiar nuances of defeat that had never truly gone away.



Hold on to strength, Daenerys, she told herself.



One by one her people realized it was her and soon a crowd began to form, though they approached with caution. It wasn't a joyous return for many of the warriors who looked at her. She could feel the suspicions and disbelief that travelled in the whispers.



One of the men who stood walked forward. Without being told, she knew this was the new Khal.



"Anna hake ajjin Khal Vorsakko.  Yer avvos thirat." My name is Khal Vorsakko. You died.



She didn't look at the person who had just come to stand beside her, but she knew Jon was the only commander who would be bold enough to come this close to the dragon in a time such as this.



Khal Vorsakko looked at Jon and then back at her with contempt. "You bring shame to our culture. Jon Snow cock make you whore," he said out loud in the Common Tongue to ridicule her. None of the other Dothraki dared to laugh.



"If I died, then why am I here?" she challenged in arrogant nonchalance.



"Ale mahrazhi tih yeri hrazef akka yeri khado." Some guards saw the beast take up your body. "You die. We see magic and dead men alive. Magic make you come back and now this one," he pointed his arakh at Jon, "fuck you. We will not bow."



She could see his mettle sway some of them. She knew she could not allow dissent rise and if she had to win them to her side, she had to do it quickly. These people had all witnessed her foundering the first time and his words could cause this campaign to end before it had a chance to begin.



"Who are these guards? Can they step forward?" she asked in their guttural tongue. Vorsakko looked around him, but no one came to bear witness. She waited a moment longer and then looked back at Vorsakko. "If I died as you say, why didn't the great Dothraki avenge their Khaleesi. Where were the fierce horselords who made Essos tremble in fear of them? Why didn't Westeros feel the wrath of my death? Why does Jon Snow still live to fuck me? We saw dead men in Winterfell, but I ask; is it a corpse that stands before you or Daenerys Stormborn, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea?"



She could see the shame her words brought upon their faces, but she couldn't revel in her victory for too long for one of the Dothraki challenged her again in their harsh tongue. "We can avenge you now. Deliver Jon Snow unto us and we will prove to you why our people are so feared."



When he said that, several bows were raised and pointed in Jon's direction. Jon drew his sword from its scabbard and she heard the whistle of multiple swords being drawn behind her. Drogon opened his maw and the Dothraki drew back.



She didn't want any blood spilled so she raised a hand. "Your anger lies not with Jon Snow, Vorsakko, but with me. If you want to continue to lead my khalasar, then you will have to kill me." This she said as she walked to stand directly in front of Drogon. Her black leaned forward, stretching his neck until she was under his head. When Vorsakko stayed still, watching her wearily, she added, "You have announced to all my people that I fell, but a Khal who cannot ride cannot rule. You saw me upon my mount today. You saw me come out unscathed from the burning temple of the Dosh Khaleen." She looked at the people gathered behind Vorsakko and her voice rang out, "Do you still doubt what I can do? Do I need to prove to you again who I am?" When she saw their faces grow fierce in remembrance, she smiled. "Who led you and defeated the masters of Meereen, Yunkai and Astapor?"



"Khaleesi!" someone shouted from the crowd behind Vorsakko.



"Who gave you the strength to cross the poisoned waters?"



Murmurs rippled across her khalasar.



"Who led you against the Lannister armies and gave you your first taste of war in Westeros?"



Screams filled the air. To any enemy, the sound would have been terrifying. To her ears, it was a sound of triumph.



"Who led you against the dead?" This time arakhs were raised and fearsome chants of "Khaleesi" resounded on the island. It was a tasking thing to not preen in their adulation and when they quieted down, she continued, "Let your cries be a warning to our enemies who would defy us. No one had ever fought death before and lived to tell us how to survive after such a victory. After that battle, whatever happened cannot be explained, but I have put it all behind me. Will my bloodriders do the same?"



Vorsakko knowing he had lost the khalasar to her, knelt on one knee and placed his arakh on his other knee. "You have spoken true, blood of my blood. I meant no slight. I only challenged you as is our way."



She knew that shouting some words at them could only placate those who held bitterness against for so long, but she prayed it bought shelved their spite against her until she had spent enough time amongst them and provided them with the direction and comfort that she knew only a leader could.



"Rise, Vorsakko. I charge you with leading these brave men behind you whenever we ride for battle."



Curved blades clashed against each other in celebration when he rose and she nodded at him.



That night, she sat with her people and feasted on fermented mare's milk and horseflesh.






JON



Jon moved away from another firepit where a woman doused a horse heart with some fresh blood and swatted the fat flies that followed parts of the horse's carcass. The smell of meat roasting wafted through the air. The celebrations had just begun. It had been a queer sort of day where the people who now sat amongst one another eating and drinking had been on the fringes of killing each other.



He hadn't known just how rousing Daenerys' speeches could be until she had the men who had been ready to go to war against her forces cheering for her. Most of the words said were had been spoken in Dothraki and the only time the Common Tongue was spoken was when the man, Vorsakko, had accused her of being his whore. Jon had bristled silently, but had kept his eyes on the man's jugular where he envisaged blood, thick and dark and red, running down the man's neck while he died slowly. A quick glance at Daenerys had shown that she remained stoic, but he knew her. She would think about it in private.



He looked up when he saw Ghost as the beast trotted ahead of a retinue formed of the Dothraki warriors that had followed her from Vaes Dothrak. They hadn't faced the Dothraki who challenged Daenerys because they had all been on the boat that carried the twins. The twins were here now and though he couldn't see them yet because they were I the midst of the guards, his heart was swelled with love all the same.



Daenerys had sent for them so she could introduce them to her khalasar. He saw when she noticed the guards for there were creases in her eyes and her smile had a sweetness to it. He watched as the Dothraki who had stayed back on the island hailed those who had returned. He saw the older men and women who had come back with them from Vaes Dothrak grin as they answered to the bays and yowls of those who had chosen Westeros as their home. The festiveness was so widespread that Jon, even with his detachment from Westeros, could not help but indulge in. The drums beat loudly and the cymbals joined in. He looked around and caught sight of Tormund lifting his Dothraki woman as the other stared on jealously. He laughed and then turned back to regard Daenerys. When she stood, the whole place grew silent.



He didn't understand what she was saying, but he became instantly vigilant when some of the Dothraki warriors who had accompanied his sons stepped aside so that they could go forth to their mother.



Both his sons were quiet, but he could see from whence he stood that Jaehaerys was battling bashfulness at all the attention he was receiving whilst Daeron was curious. They walked to meet her and she placed a hand on Daeron's head and the other on Jaehaerys' shoulder. She addressed her people somberly, gesturing sometimes as she spoke.



Ser Davos came to stand beside him and coughed. "And so it begins."



Jon said nothing, but he didn't disagree with the old man. It suddenly felt like he was reliving the time that King Robert had come to Winterfell seeking his lord father's servitude as Hand of the King. An aberration that would lead to the loss of thousands of lives in the years that followed. What would his sons lives be like in Westeros? Where would all this lead? Disturbed, he didn't paid attention to nought, but the two little boys whom he had sired. A nudge on his side brought him out of his engrossment and he looked at Ser Davos who nodded at the Dothraki. He still didn't understand what was said, but whatever it was had Daenerys laughing and looking back at him. He smiled back at her.



"What are they saying?" Tormund asked, reeking of strong drink.



"All that time with a Dothraki woman and you failed to learn anything," Ser Davos chaffed.



"We were hardly talking," Tormund barked.



Jon shook his head, but he did so smiling.



"Did you know that they fuck in the open in celebrations like this one?"



Jon looked around sharply before settling his eyes on his sons. Lewdity was nothing new when feasts were held--when at Winterfell, in the Great Hall, King Robert had buried his head in the breasts of two whores in his daze of drunkenness--but that was all there had been to it. Anyone who wanted to rut did so in dark corners or empty chambers. Not in front of children.



"Is there anything that Westeros does better than Essos?" Ser Davos asked heartily.



"No place can compare to the true North, Ser Davos," Tormund answered, his words heavy with nostalgia. "I cannot wait to return to my people."



"The battlefields will mourn your absence," Jon told him, already regretting his truancy. Tormund had been never failed in being true to him and there was nothing he could say nor do to repay that kind of loyalty.



"What's this, lad? You're not about to weep for me now, are you?"



Jon laughed and accepted a drink from a server who just walked past them. It felt good to be amongst familiar faces. It helped keep at bay, the worrying thoughts about Westeros that had begun to invade his waking hours.





The celebrations were still underway, but he had left when Daenerys sent the twins away with their guards. They were tired and, thankfully, fell asleep soon after Daenerys' chambers were cleared of Vorsakko's belongings. He sat on the bed and for how long he watched them sleep, he didn't know, but he stayed with them, if only to be steeped in their never ending enthusiasm for Westeros.



He stood up and looked around. He had never been here before, but staying on the castle as Daenerys' guest when he came asking for help, he had begun to wonder about the Dragon Queen and what she was like. Sometimes, his thoughts had wandered to her chambers. Those days, he had been new to the love he had for her. And then he'd failed her in breathtaking fashion.



Now that they were back in Westeros, he wondered if she would come to the same conclusion as he had--if she would see him the same way he saw himself sometimes and cast him aside.



He stopped himself from thinking those thoughts any further. It wouldn't do to spend the first day brooding on such. It was a bad omen, not that he was a man prone to superstition. Still, he felt stifled. So, he checked to see that his sons were heavily guarded, calling Ghost to lie at the foot of the bed and then he headed out to where the sellsword armies were setting camp. He needed to engage in physical work and being amid military men would do to keep his head and his heart on what they had come here to achieve.





His plans to be with fighting men were derailed when he picked out a lone figure walking far ahead of two men to an undisturbed part of the beach with a dragon flying overhead, its screech sounding strangely forlorn.



He followed Daenerys until she stopped in front of a misshapen rock and commanded the men with her to leave her. When they did, he went to her. It wasn't until he was close to her that he realized why she had come here. Before her were the remains of a dragon. Rhaegal. Jon wanted to turn and leave. It had been so long a span of time since he felt like an interloper, but he did so now.



"What is the right way to respond to the loss of a dragon?" she asked, lifting her head to look at him. "When the scouts told me of my son, I couldn't say anything concerning him out loud because I have so many battles to fight here and I couldn't lose to misery before I faced anyone on the battlefield."



He moved until he was beside her.



"I can't lose again, Jon."



"You won't."



"I had so much more the first time I came here and look how easily it all toppled over. Like child's dreams washed away by the harsh realities of life."

 

Because of me. 



Morosity wouldn't do. He took her her hand and led her to stand where their view of the castle was not blocked by rocks and pointed it. "In there are two boys who think that there is no greater person who walked this lands than their mother," he turned to look at her. "Westeros might be a shit part of the world, but you will stop at nothing to make it paradise for our boys. Sometimes, peace can only come by way of war."



She squeezed his hand. "Do you really believe that?"



"I do."



"All children deserve paradise."



"And if you could, you would give it to them. Look what you left behind in the Cannibal Village."



"I would like to avoid war if possible. I want to build trust and restore good faith, but that is dream and dreams end when one wakes. Aegon ruled with fear and benevolence. He didn't spare his enemies, but he was open-handed to those who were loyal to him and his kingdom stood for three hundred years."



"Is that what you want? Fear and benevolence?"



"If that is what it takes to repay the people of King's Landing for what I took from them, then yes, that is what I want from the lords of Westeros."



"If we count through the ages, the highborn owe the common folk a lot more than you do." It was a silly thing to say, but he felt like he had to say something.



"Do you reckon they will be willing to share their wealth?"



"That would depend on how nicely you ask," he said and smiled when her mouth twitched.



"I invited all the Dothraki children to make the castle their home."



He made a sound of approval.



"I want the halls to be filled with the sounds of their laughter, but there's more to why I invited them. I did it because I don't trust my own people with the safety of my children. Some of them are wary of me. How can I hope to rule Westeros if I can't even trust the people who crossed the Narrow Sea for me? How can anyone believe in me after the things that I've done?"



"Did you feel the same way with the Dothraki who returned home to Vaes Dothrak?"



"No."



"Then it's not so strange that you feel so now. Your people here are now a part of Westeros' history and for that, they feel like strangers," he offered.



"Mayhaps," she said with a faraway look in her eyes. Then she smiled. "They had good things to say about your ability to breed."



Jon would've never heard the end of it from Tormund if his friend ever knew.



"I told my people that my children are their children and their children are mine. I meant that." Her smile disappeared. "I want to be a good queen, but more than that I want to be remembered as someone who left this world better than I met it." She withdrew her hand from his. "Did you know that the Dosh Khaleen prophesied that my first son would be the Stallion Who Mounts the World?"



"Now, I know."



"He was prophesied to unite all the khalasars under his rule."



"But you did that," he said, catching on.



"My people here, most of the men and women who are here, were there that day and those who weren't saw me walk out of the flames." She looked up at him. "They all bowed at my feet that day. Most of the Dothraki who returned home were children or striplings at the time. Most of them didn't fight at Winterfell. They didn't see the red god's magic nor the dead. They're less likely to believe that one can come back from death. Do you think the Dothraki here truly believe anything I said?"



He said nothing.



"I want them to. I would rather they believed that, in a moment of weakness, I ran away with my lover because we grew too tired of the wars after we fought the Army of the Dead. What happens if our sons hear any of this? How foolish of me to centre all my attention on atonement and put so little thought into this."



He remained quiet.



They endured the lull that always preyed on them when memories of their past doings arose from dormancy.



He cleared his throat and asked, "What happens now?"



"It will be a long time before the children can fully understand everything that happened. I have sown the seeds of doubt in the hearts of my people today, but I must see to it that they're watered. From the halls of Dragonstone to the ends of the realm... Daeron and Jaehaerys must never know the truth."



It was strange. There was nary a thing that could destroy like a secret, but sometimes, a secret could save lives. Eddard Stark had saved him from King Robert's wroth by keeping his secret and Samwell Tarly and Sansa had destroyed him by exposing his secret. Sometimes, the honourable thing to do was, not to lie, but not to tell the truth either.



His sons were happy, more importantly, they were at peace. If he and Daenerys really wanted that peace to remain undisturbed, they had to take care not to take away what brought their sons joy. He didn't know if he would ever be able to face his sons should the truth ever reach their ears.



"Who will tell them?" he asked, though his voice sounded more confident than he felt.



She gave no response, but the strain on her face made way for a bearing of resolve. "I have to send ravens throughout the kingdoms."



"Aye." He didn't ask if she would send a raven to the North because she hadn't made mention of the North and for now, he wanted it to remain so. So many things had already happened since they arrived Westeros and it was just the first day.






GENDRY



He read the parchment again and handed it to his castellan to read it out loud. This had gone on for two days.



"That was written by Ser Davos' hand," he said, feeling joyous relief. The old man was alive as was Jon Snow.



"What shall you do, my lord?" he asked.



"I don't know. Years ago, I would have heeded her call at once, but I have a family now." He had an infant son of two and his wife was again heavy with child. "I have people in the Stormlands who depend on me now. What good would fighting a war do for us?"



His castellan seemed to agree with him. Sometimes, he could never tell with the man.



"No good at all, my lord...but she has a dragon and once more, she plagues our lands with foreign invaders."



"You wouldn't be alive to say that if it weren't for 'er armies of foreign invaders," he told him. When his castellan looked at him incredulously, he waved the man man away. "You may leave."



"Very well, my lord."



Whilst he rejoiced within himself that Ser Davos had survived the battle in King's Landing, he did not embrace the tidings of Daenerys' return wholeheartedly. He sighed. Had it not been for her, he wouldn't be a lord. Had it not been for Ser Davos, he wouldn't be alive.



Disinclined, but dutybound, he picked up a feather and dipped it into the bottle of ink.






YARA



"Quiet! The lot of you," she threatened, pointing her dagger at the men and women in the Great Hall of Casterly Rock.



They were like little children. Ready to harp at the slightest unsettlement. But this wasn't merely an unsettlement. It appeared that, like her, most of her vassals had also received word of the Dragon Queen's return and one after the other, a few of them had invited themselves to her castle.



In a bid to foster some semblance of peace when they had grown disgruntled with her rule, she had told them that the Lion's Mouth, the main entry into Casterly Rock, was open to them when they needed anything settled. A great folly on her part. Although it was common for lords or ladies to settle matters in their castles, she longed for the days when they treaded with great fear and uncertainty around her.



"It's impossible that she is alive," Beardless Jon Bettley said.



"No one believed that dragons were alive, but many of our husbands and sons died in battle against her," Lady Algood countered.



Yara knew that the Dragon Queen had lived by the account that Ser Davos had given six years before, but disbelief had come and grown when she heard nothing from her queen. Until now. She didn't know if she believed that Daenerys had returned, but she felt herself hope that it was true.



The shrill voice of one lord travelled the hall. "My lady, we don't want what happened to King's Landing to happen to us. Aerys brought war to the Seven Kingdoms without a dragon and now his aberrant--"



"Hold your tongue, my lord," she warned. "We were at war and the Dragon Queen saved us from a tyrant." The man huffed in annoyance, but kept his peace. "We don't even know if this is a jest. It could be the Hightowers trying to frighten us. They're losing and this could all just be a ploy," she said to quieten the hope she felt.



"I'm quite certain, you don't believe that my lady."



She didn't, but she didn't say so. "We will proceed with caution. On no account should anyone act without my leave. I will attend to this matter as I have everything that pertains to the Westerlands. We have a war to win."



"A war we wanted no part of! When Lord Tywin--"



"Lord Tywin died shitting himself. If you miss his lordship so much and want to live under his leadership, that could be arranged," she replied curtly, staring down another impertinent lord. Some of her men moved forward lotingly and the highborn present had no more reason to act defiant.



"Stand down and let me attend to this."



When the hall was emptied of her vassals, Ulwyck One-Eye, one of her most loyal men said, "I would rather dragonfire take me than have to listen to them ones prattle on."



She chuckled. "You jest, but your words ring true."



"Will you heed the call?"



"I can't leave the middle of war for this." She held up the scroll. "I must ride for Sunspear. Gather some of your men and and head for Dragonstone. See if the words on this piece of paper hold true."



"Yes, my lady," he said with yellow-toothed grin, mimicking some of her vassals.



"Oh, bugger off!"






DAENERYS



After receiving another rotting raven with unveiled threats to whoever had "the effrontery to make up such nonsense about a dead mad woman", she had sprung into action. Before her arrival on Dragonstone, the Dothraki had imprisoned some men that were found scavenging on the island and poaching parts of her dead dragon. She had sent for them and asked if any one of them could forge weapons out of dragon parts. Ten men out of the thirteen captured had answered in eagerness, each one claiming to have skills that rivalled the Valyrian sorcerers of old. In the end, only four of them were capable craftsmen. She had ordered them to make fifty daggers with golden blades and dragonbone hilts. Each hilt had a dragon carved on it and each dragon had rubies encrusted in them for eyes. She sent five and twenty to the Great Houses of Westeros as well as the Small Houses which held considerable influence.



Whilst she still waited for the nobility of Westeros to acknowledge her request, Gendry Baratheon had come to Dragonstone. He had lost some of his youthfulness and had grown, a tad noticeably, in size. This time, he came, not as a blacksmith, but as lord. He had travelled with just a few men, some attendants and guards, to see if the claim she made was true. He had knelt and sworn fealty, but asked that she grant his wish to go back to his family. She told him that she would do so on the condition that he sat on her council for no longer than a week.



Treated to the comfort and congeniality of her castle, the next day, she had called for a meeting and asked him to tell her what he knew of the war. He painted a more vivid image of it than Ser Davis had. He didn't know how much loss either side had suffered, but he knew that the people of King's Landing were the ones most deeply affected. His words raised her urgency and that was why, today, she had called the people here who she supposed could be her Small Council.



In The Chamber of The Painted Table sat Jon, Ser Davos, Gendry and herself. It was a really small council.



"You should fly there, Your Grace--take the battle to them. One look at your dragon and those at war will bring themselves to order," Gendry said.



The smile she gave him didn't reach her eyes. Westeros was where she had lost two dragons to powerful weapons. She didn't want to fight unless there was no other choice.



"Gendry can go as an envoy to the Martells. They're allied with Yara and Yara was the only other person Ser Davos told you about, Your Grace," Jon advised.



She hid her surprise well when he referred to her that way. She had been "Dany" or "Daenerys" to him for so long. She wondered if he would soon tell her that she was his queen. She could hardly help the derision she felt at the thought.



"No," Ser Davos disagreed with a shake of his head. "Of the two houses, it would do you well to ally with the Hightowers if you were to pick sides."



"I'm not choosing sides."



"But if you were, sending Gendry to the Hightowers will be received in good faith. They hold great sway over the Faith and the Citadel."



No one could dispute the wisdom in his words.



Gendry didn't seem pleased, but whatever misgivings he felt, he kept to himself.



"Lord Gendry, I'm afraid I have to ask this of you."



"Gendry, Your Grace. I'm here to serve as you wish. What is it you want me to say?"



"What you have seen and then tell Lord Leyton that he is expected at Dragonstone. Here, he shall bend the knee." She noticed Jon's smile, but didn't dwell on it. "You've been impatient to leave this island, my lord. Now, you may," she finished gently. "Ser Davos will see you to your ship."



"At once, Your Grace," Ser Davos asserted.



Both men bowed and left, but not before Gendry and Jon clasped their forearms in greeting.






THE ONION KNIGHT



"She left some gifts on the ship for your wife and children."



"Did she?" Gendry asked in genuine surprise. "She doesn't look mad."



"She's not."



"How would you know?"



"When did you become a cynic?"



Gendry laughed at that. "Being a father changes you."



"Aye. That's why you look a stone heavier than the last time I saw you."



"You talk a lot for a man who barely escaped King's Landing with his life."



"Life is too short not to." They both laughed. The lad was now in better cheer than when he had left the council meeting.



"Look at us! Two men from fleabottom deciding the fate of the Seven Kingdoms."



"The realm is fucked," Ser Davos remarked.



"A pair of cynics we are, you and I."



"I have faith in her."



"And what of Jon?" Gendry asked.



"I never lost faith in him."



"Let's hope that at the end of all this, your faith and my choice to serve will reward us."



"Indeed."



"The lords of the Stormlands will think me foolish. My father fought against her father and killed her brother. Yet, here I am."



"On the right side," he said to encourage the lad.



They walked past some sellswords in training and about twenty feet away, a small crowd had gathered to watch the combat between one of Tatters' men and a man from the Wolf Pack.



"That looks like something I'd put a wager on," Gendry said wistfully.



"When you return," Ser Davos promised as they reached the shore. Gendry's men were already waiting for him.



"I wish you good fortune."



"You as well, lad."



He turned to leave, but Gendry stopped him. "Has she sent word to the North as well?"



He was the one who wrote all the missives for her and thus far, nothing about the North had been brought up. Not by her, not by Jon and certainly not by him.



"Not to my knowledge, no."



"You don't think it strange that Jon has said nothing of his family when there is word of a great famine in the North?"



Ser Davos rubbed the stumps of his fingers against his side and cleared his throat. "He doesn't know."



"But you--"



Ser Davos grabbed Gendry by his arm and took him aside. In a hushed tone, he confided, "When I had found Jon in Vaes Dothrak, I made a decision not to tell him anything about the famine in the North. I said nothing mentioning the Starks save for the last time that I had seen Bran and I did it all with good reason. Had I told him, what could be have done? The lad built a new life with a new family, a family that cared for him, and I didn't think it equitable that he should bear that burden. I also didn't know that we would come back here."



Gendry's face bore a look of pity for him. "What will you do when it all comes to light?"



"Tell the truth and state my reasons. It's all I can do."



The lad put a hand on his shoulder and sighed. "Then I wish you good fortune again. He has a family, you say? But for Daenerys?"



"He has two sons with her."



"Good for him. A blessing from the gods. No daughters to worry about."



"Daughters buy you allegiances."



Gendry's mouth was upturned in annoyance. "Like the Estermonts bought me."



"You don't like your new kin? Your wife--"



"--is a good woman. I should go, Ser Davos."



"Say nothing of her sons. Something tells me that she wants to shield them from common knowledge."



"Of course."



After a short embrace, he watched Gendry stand on a boat as his men rowed it to where his ship moored.






JON



"...umph," Daeron grunted as be jumped off a very high rock and landed on a pile of sand that Jon had heaped to bolster their fall.



Jaehaerys crawled to the top of the rock and jumped, barely missing his brother's head.



"Seven hells!" Jon said. "Do you want your mother to know about this?"



His son shook his head, but sniggered when Daeron shouted, "Seven hells!"



"Seven hells!" Jaehaerys echoed.



"Boys, hush now," he warned as he covered Jaehaerys' mouth with his hand and gently pushed Daeron down on the pile of sand as his son tried to get up. "You can't say that yet until you're this tall," he held his had to his chest to show them what height they had to reach before they could speak foul words.



"Can we say it to you, but not mama?" Jaehaerys asked hopefully.



"You can, but if your mother gets wind of it, then I'll have to scold you. Are we in agreement?"



"Yes, Papa," Jaehaerys said.



"Thank you, my liege," Daeron sat up and then went on one knee, holding a fisted hand to his chest.



Jon laughed out loud and pushed him back down, making the boys attack him in a boisterous manner, their faces alight with happy grins.



He had chosen to spend some time with his sons because being back in Westeros hadn't allowed him such many moments with them. It soothed him to be alone with them. In some ways, he was relieved that they hadn't yet gone to war, let alone won it, because winning the war would mean that the boys would be introduced to court life and that life, he'd heard, tended to bring out the worst in people. Westeros wasn't the Cannibal Village and thankfully, life on Dragonstone, for the most part, had done well to protect them from that. Thus far, at least.



Jaehaerys clambered away from them, went to the top of the rock and jumped down as he howled, "SEVEN HEL--"



"Seven hells?" came Daenerys' sudden question.



All three of them turned quickly at the sound of her voice. She sounded affronted, but her appearance showed that she fought a smile. Then she looked at them again and studied their surroundings, her eyes travelling to the top of the rock and back to them, causing her to frown in truth. "Have you been jumping off that?"



"Papa said we could," Daeron said quickly, coming down from the pile of sand to stand guiltily before her as he dusted himself.



"And that we could say seven hells," Jaehaerys added in defense.



"Traitors," Jon chuckled and swallowed his laughter when Daenerys cast an angry look at him. It didn't stop him from smiling at her.



"You want to spend all your time on Dragonstone in the healer's hut, is that it?"



"No," they both muttered. Daeron looked at his feet while Jaehaerys looked up at her with a sweet smile.



She struggled to keep a stern face and Jaehaerys' smile grew into a grin. Daeron looked at her and grinned as well.



"I don't want you to hurt yourselves. How will you train with the others if you have a broken arm or a broken leg?"



That gave the boys pause.



"Apologies, Mama," Daeron said with a bow.



"And you?" she asked Jaehaerys.



"I'm sorry."



"If you want to jump from a rock, there's a sinkhole around the bend with a ledge where you could jump off it. The water is clean and shallow." Their hands were up in glee, but she stopped them with, "You must never go there alone." They nodded. "Come with me, I'll show you where it is."



Jaehaerys held her hand quickly as they all began to walk with her. "Can we say seven--"



"No."



Jon shrugged when his sons looked at him and smiled wide at Daenerys who noticed their exchange. She shook her head fondly and led them on.



On their way, the boys pattered without end, telling them of this and that. He observed as Daenerys let them speak, interjecting only when needed.



"Very good," she said in praise to Daeron when he told her how much better he had gotten at memorizing the sigils and words of the Houses of Westeros. "Do you like it here in Dragonstone?"



Daeron paused and grew thoughtful. "I like my friends," he finally answered with a smile."I like the castle!" His eyes lit up.



"I like the castle too!" Jaehaerys declared, not to be left out.



"What do you like about it, Daeron?" When Jaehaerys frowned, she pinched his nose gently and smiled at him.



"The Great Hall of the Stone Drum! Ser Davos said it's a huge dragon lying on its belly!" he stretched his hands apart to place emphasis on huge, "and the heavy red doors of the hall are set in the mouth, and those entering pass beneath the gateway teeth and through the dragon's maw," he said excitedly.



Jon smiled.



"The kitchens resemble a curled up dragon where the smoke and heat vented through its nostrils. It's like living in a dragon, Mama!" Jaehaerys added. "I like Aegon's garden!" went on quickly, not waiting for his brother to say anything more, "and the chamber with the painted table."



"Of," Daenerys corrected. "The Chamber of The Painted Table."



Jaehaerys nodded enthusiastically and continued like she hadn't said anything, "We see new things in the castle every day."



"That's very good to hear," she said with a smile.



"I don't think I like being called, my prince," Daeron complained, making a face.

 

In a way, that pleased Jon. Not many people in their household called them that, but the sellswords did and others were beginning to imitate them. 

 

"I still miss Tebi," Dareon disclosed.



"And Kinvara and all our family who didn't come here with us," Jaehaerys said, not to exclude anyone.



"I know," Jon empathized. "But you get to live in the belly of a dragon so it's not so bad."



"I want Drogon to eat me," Daeron said, changing the subject suddenly.



"What are you on about?" Jon asked.



"I want to know if his belly is like the castle."



"That's silly, brother," Jaehaerys said laughing at him.



"I hope you're joking," Daenerys said worriedly.



"No."



"Daeron," Jon said seriously and furrowed his eyebrows when he saw the twinkle in his son's eyes. "That's hardly amusing."



"It really isn't." Daenerys said.



"I suppose if he's living in Drogon, he'll never fly on his back again."



"Hmm." Daenerys dipped her head as if she was considering it.



"No!" Daeron protested. "I didn't mean it like that!"



"He didn't," Jaehaerys stopped and pushed at his mother's belly to stop her from walking forward.



"No more jests like that," Daenerys cautioned.



"Never again, Mhysa."



They only ever addressed her as Mhysa whenever they wanted to avoid punishment or when they sought something from her.



She continued her ruse of mock severity, but only for a moment. "I'll need some time to consider it. Move along now."



Soon, they were back to their chatter while he and Daenerys hummed in response.



"We're here," she announced. "Watch were you run," she forewarned.



Jon took off his doublet and walked in after them, making his way to the ledge and plummeting off it into the clear water which drowned out the shrieks of excitement that followed his dive.





It had been a harmonious day. Peaceful and a time well spent with his kin, just the four of them in the presence of a few guards who had kept their distance. Now the boys were fast asleep in the chambers that Daenerys had picked for Daeron. They both had separate chambers, but chose to live in the same one and slept there every night.



Daenerys sat before a looking glass, brushing her hair. Her back was bare, making him want to run his hands down her spine.



"I spoke with the three captains today," Jon started, referring to Salladhor Saan, Tatters and Myhcal Stonehouse who was the captain of the Wolf Pack.



"What of it?" she asked.



"The men under their respective commands have begun to tire of waiting." They had been on the island for three moon turns and it didn't look like they were anywhere near ready to go to war. When soldiers had nothing to do, their lives became tedious and to alleviate that, they found different ways to spend their time. Most times, those ways were not good. "The fights amongst them are becoming more frequent. Moreso between the soldiers and the Dothraki screamers."



She turned back to look at him, letting go of her hair which now covered a pink nipple. The other was puckered by the frigid sea breeze. His throat felt parched. "What do you propose we do?" she asked.



His eyes returned to her face. "A tourney of sorts. Announce to them all, the Dothraki as well, that they will have a chance to prove themselves in ways that won't lead to near death."



"Don't people die in tourneys?"



"Aye, but you can give an order that the rivalry shouldn't result in the death of the opponent." She inclined her head and waited for him to continue. "Whoever wins will have the honour of riding in your vanguard."



"And the winners of each tournament could be given a dragonbone dagger. We have enough of those to spare," she stated.



"Spare three of them. The scarcer they are, the more prized they will be."



"Alright. On the morrow," she agreed, turning back to face the looking glass.



He turned back to the desk and started to undo the silver dragon heads interlocked with silver tails that held the his doublet together. He spotted a familiar dagger on the far end of the desk and moved closer to pick it up. "Where did this come from?" he asked curiously.



"Daario."



"One of the gifts to the twins?"



"No."



That made Jon turn.



"He gave it to me to protect myself. My heart if need be, I believe his words were." She had stopped brushing her hair and looked at him through the looking glass.



It had been a good day so it wouldn't do to let this sour the happiness he'd been feeling. A lie, he laughed at himself. This...thing between them, it knackered him. He let out a breath that was wearied. Then he pressed his lips together and turned away from her.



He heard her get up and then settle down on the bed.



"I wouldn't betray you, Daenerys, you know that, don't you?"



His question was met with silence. What was the use in asking that? He'd killed her before and no matter how much they tried to move past it, it was inescapable.



"Do you know why I haven't dispatched a raven to the North?" she asked after being silent.



"Why?" He truly didn't want to know.



"Because I'm afraid of the choice you will make," she told him earnestly.



He drummed his fingers on the desk and stayed that way until he went back to undressing himself. Painstakingly so.



For the remainder of the night until they slept, the air was cold with silence.






YARA



"I'm telling you what me eye saw," Ulwyck One-Eye said, pointing to his only good eye. "The island guarded heavily and her dragon was lying on the beach. We couldn't get on the beach, but I can say that the Dragon Queen has returned."



"Thank you, Ulwyck," Yara told him and shifted until she faced the Princess of Dorne. "Who else could have sent you that?" Yara asked pointing at the golden dagger with a dragonbone hilt.



"How is she alive?"



"You saw what Bran did to your husband. Do you have any need to doubt in magic?" The princess looked angered. "I meant no offense, Princess."



"What Bran did is one thing, but coming back from the dead...," Wylla Wyl shook her head in disbelief.



"She's alive," Yara affirmed.



"So she comes back to life and now she wants us to bend the knee. We're at war fighting for our independence and she wants us to relinquish it for her. These arrogant Targaryens. I piss on that!" the Princess cursed, her words rolling out in the sultry way that the Dornish spoke. "If she wants this kingdom, then she better be ready to kill us all for it like she did with King's Landing."



"I urge you to think again."



"What are the words of the Martells, Lady Yara?"



Yara sighed. "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken. Princess, don't let pride get in the way of sense. Think of your daughter."



"I am thinking of my daughter. How many more Martells have to die at the whims of a Targaryen? How much humiliation and loss do we have to suffer before we have had enough? When Aegon and his sisters came here, we shot down a dragon and killed Rhaenys. When Daeron came here, he did not leave here alive. She's a lesser ruler than they were. One battle in King's Landing and she fell. Why should we kneel to her?"



"Because she is the rightful queen. Aegon didn't unite all the Dothraki and cause them to cross the sea, she did. Daeron didn't wake three dragons from stone eggs, she did. She died, but she is back again. Neither Aegon nor his sisters nor Daeron did that."



"You sound like her subject," the young Lord Yronwood accused.



"I am and that is why I will sail with my men to Dragonstone to pledge my allegiance." When voices were raised in opposition, she said loudly, "This war has gone on long enough. Are you not weary? What do we stand to gain from more deaths that can be avoided?"



"So you're a turncloak," another lord said. "What do we expect of the Ironborn? They're--"



His words were cut short with a scream and he held his hand which was now dripping with the blood that seeped from where here dagger was lodged in his hand.



The Ironborn present and some of the lords and knights were nigh blows and sword clashes when the princess spoke. "Put down your weapons! Immediately! Lady Yara is our guest and we do not speak that way to a useful ally. We are allies, aren't we my lady?"



"As long as you're allied to my queen, then yes."



The was a hard glint in the princess' eye. "Go, then. If we ever meet on the battlefield, I shan't spare you."




"Nor I, you. I wish you good fortune, Princess."





When she was brought before the throne room in the castle of Dragonstone, on the large throne sat a lone figure, small and powerful looking, surrounded by tall Dothraki men and a single warrior of R'hollor whose face was full of tattoos while two boys sat on the steps just beneath her. Daenerys and the boys were dressed in Westerosi-style clothing that bespoke their Targaryen heritage. Unlike the first time she had met the Dragon Queen, there was no one to announce her titles.



Yara couldn't help the smile that spread across her face. She wasn't a sentimental woman, but her eyes nearly felt the sting of tears. She stopped when the guards motioned that she couldn't go any further and fell on one knee and bowed her head.



"Do you come as friend or foe, Lady Yara?"



"As a loyal vassal, my Queen. The Westerlands are yours as are the Iron Islands."



"Rise, Lady Yara." Yara obeyed and looked up to see Daenerys walking down to meet her with a welcoming smile on her face. She was truly bewitching to look at. With longer hair that had grown even more silver, the Dragon Queen was more lithe than the last time she had seen her and while the rest of the queen had barely aged, her eyes had grown old. "I'm glad to see you."



"And I you, Your Grace."



"Thank you for your loyalty to me. I won't forget it."



"You honour me, my Queen."



Daenerys smiled and then turned back to speak to the young boys in High Valyrian. They got up and came to stand beside Daenerys. It was unmistakable that these were her sons. They bore the famed Targaryen beauty. Too pretty for boys, Yara thought. When they kept staring at her and said nothing, Daenerys spoke again in High Valyrian and the one with dark hair, Jon Snow's hair no doubt, brightened.



"Oh. My lady," he bowed. "Welcome to Dragonstone. I am Daeron of House Targaryen." He spoke the Common Tongue well, but it was laden with High Valyrian inflections.



Yara bowed in return. "I am most pleased to meet you, my prince."



The silverhaired prince who had turned a mild shade of red bowed shyly, but said nothing.



"This is Jaehaerys of House Targaryen," Daenerys said in his stead and stroked his head. "You'll have to forgive them, my lady. They've not grown accustomed to the norms of Westerosi culture."



"Think nothing of it, young princes," she laughed. "I was born here and I've not grown accustomed to the norms of Westerosi culture," she finished as she winked at Jaehaerys.



She wondered about their father. She hoped the kinslayer had met his death on his way to Essos those years ago.



A servant brought a plate of salt and another came with a tray of bread which she and Daenerys shared, invoking the ancient and sacred custom of guest right.



"Welcome," Daenerys said.






THE ONION KNIGHT



Slowly as each new moon came and went, the population on Dragonstone grew. Some came out of curiosity and some came out of fear. Though, word of the Dragon Queen's return had spread far and wide, not enough people with power and influence believed. If they did, they thought little of the Dragon Queen to answer to her summons. The good thing in all of this was that she had the Westerlands and a considerable part of the Stormlands, though he pitied Gendry for the defiant lords he had to face.



He entered into the throne room and stood close to the doors. Lord Leyton Hightower hadn't come himself, nor had he sent any of his sons, but the son of his good sister who went by the name of Ser Donovar Wyne had come as an intermediary. Lord Tytos Blackwood and Edmure Tully's widow, Roslin, his son, young Brynden, and her babe, had travelled with him.



Davos remembered the first time he had come to Dragonstone and how that had led to the events which brought them back here. He scanned the throne room and descried Lady Yara standing on the other side of the hall. She had abandoned the war against the Hightowers to swear her fealty to Daenerys. Of all the lords and ladies that came, great and small, she was the only one who had come out of loyalty to the queen. It was that same loyalty that caused her to despise Jon Snow. In her eyes, he would never be anything but a kinslayer. She had learned to restrain herself, however, when Daenerys had stopped her from a tirade in the first council meeting that she'd been a part of since she joined them.



Ser Davos looked around again. There were a few knights and their squires here. Most of the people here were second, third and fourth sons, those who had little hope of an inheritance. The others of high birth who had come, in the main, were from the Westerlands.  Some of the people present stood huddled together, whispering things to each other. He wondered what was being said, but he knew he didn't have to try to hard to guess. Treachery was a malignant infection that would never leave Westeros. Some eyes gazed hungrily at the throne. He worried for the twins. Thus far, their mother and father had done their best to safeguard them, keeping them away from the prying eyes of new visitors, but word was getting out that the Targaryen line lived on. Some said it lived on through boys, others argued that it was girls and the rest had it on hearsay that it was a boy and girl who would continue the Targaryen tradition of brother wedding sister. Many wondered what the nature of the alliance was between Jon and Daenerys. Was he the father of her offspring?. Had she wed a bastard, if so, what did that make her children? Or did she just need him to warm her bed and if so, what did that make her children? For now, those words were nothing but featherlight rumours, but they were there. None could speak out so loudly or publicly their fears, for they cowered before the madness of the queen who had destroyed King's Landing. No one knew what to make of Jon, but he was surely an oathbreaker for, lo, he had forsaken his vows to the Night's Watch. Most people in the realm didn't believe in "grumpkins and snarks" and many still didn't believe that the Wall had fallen. 



When Daenerys walked in with her guards, the hall grew still. She didn't sit, but stood atop the first stair.



"Rise my lords. My lady. Ser."



"Thank you, Your Grace," they said in unison.



"My lady, Roslin. My lord, Brynden. My sympathies are with you."



When she heard of this company's arrival on the island, she sent for Yara and himself to tell her all she needed to know about them.



"Thank you, Your Grace."



"Shall we get on with it, then?" she asked to which they nodded. "Why are you here?"



Lord Tytos Blackwood spoke first. "To see with mine eyes if there was any truth to what I heard."



"And what did you hear, my lord?"



"That the Dragon Queen lives."



The hall answered with cheers.



"Do you swear fealty, my lord?"



"I speak for my liege lord, Lord Brynden Tully. The Riverlands would be grateful to have you as her queen, Your Grace, but what kind of subjects will we be if we abandoned allies who helped us chase away the scum that brought tradegy to our lands?"



"You speak wisely, my lord. What then should I expect of you to hold your trust true?"



"Your Grace." It was Ser Donovar.



"Ser Donovar?"



"I--I am...My Queen, I here because Lord Leyton Hightower sent me." He coughed.



"To bend the knee for him?"



Laughter rang across the hall.



Ser Donovar coughed again. "Err...no, Your Grace. He..." the man cleared his throat.



"He needs a maester!" someone in the hall said, making the hall erupt in laughter.



Daenerys didn't say anything to stop the laughter, but when she looked up, all became quiet. "Apologies, my lord. What does your uncle want?"



"I was sent to tell you that he can't subject himself to your rule unless you prove to him that you're worthy."



"And what will prove my worth?"



"The Martells have his heir in captivity--Ser Baelor Hightower. He said that if you deliver him alive and join forces with him to destroy the enemy, then the Reach is yours. He swears by the old gods and the new."



"Go back and tell your uncle that he will have his son. I cannot promise that he will be alive, but I will return him back where he belongs. Also tell him that his enemies are not mine and a queen doesn't answer to her vassal."



"Your Grace." Ser Donovar bowed.



"I have a castle to see to. If my guests may, please follow the guards to the quarters that are being prepared for you," she said. "Tonight, we shall have a small feast here to welcome you." She glanced at the hall briefly and then left.





Daenerys had called them all to the Chamber of The Painted Table. Lord Tytos sat at the far end of the Painted Table. Jon sat opposite Daenerys who was at the head of the table and Yara sat somewhere in the middle. Ser Davos chose to stand.



"You keep staring at me, my lord," Daenerys pointed out to Lord Tytos with a smile.



"Forgive me, Dragon Queen, I have heard so many things about you. I have it on good authority that you're an impelling force."



"An impelling force?" Daenerys questioned. "That's a pretty way of saying mad."



"I am in no position to call you that, Your Grace. Aegon ended the line of Harren the Black and he is remembered as a conqueror."



"So you say to my face."



"Your Grace, I fought for your father and the Lannisters were my enemies. For hundreds of years, House Blackwood has stood with House Targaryen...and we are kin. King Aegon V was married to Bertha Blackwood."



Daenerys' smile in response was a lovesome sight. It made Ser Davos feel sad for her, in a way. For a woman who had the power to destroy the world at her finger tips, there were very few times that he caught glimpses of a girl who ached for acceptance. "Why didn't you come to me the first time I was here?"



"I had received no orders from you. Tyrion Lannister was your hand. For the clever man that he is...or was, that was a gaping oversight on his part."



"He was a charlatan who made mockery of the badge he wore," Jon said darkly, though his eyes were on Daenerys.



"Was?" Lady Yara asked, sitting up.



"We're not here to discuss Tyrion Lannister," Daenerys said, bringing back their attention to why she had called them here. "Shall we begin?"



"You are allied with the Hightowers, my lord. How do you advise we approach this?" Jon asked him.



Lord Tytos frowned at Jon. "He's a powerful man. He rules the Reach with no opposition, he helped the Riv