Entering her war room, Jon was as nervous as he had been knocking on her cabin door that fateful night on their journey north. Now, a lifetime had passed since then, or so it felt, and yet he’d never been further away from her. How had things gotten to this point? Could they still be salvaged?
Daenerys sat by the fire, locked in soft, intimate conversation with Grey Worm. At the sight, Jon felt a pang of envy. Here, he was merely an intruder, the gulf between him and his queen made stark when the two abruptly ceased their talk at his unexpected entry.
Grey Worm turned to glare at him, the distrust and a growing fury simmering just below the surface. Finally, Daenerys spoke to him in a tongue only the two of them understood, a quiet command lost on Jon until Grey Worm nodded his head and threw Jon one last withering look before exiting the room.
Steeling himself, Jon shut the door behind the Unsullied man and again faced his queen. His kin. And, once upon a time, his lover.
Or was she still?
Even now, he could taste her on his tongue, if he closed his eyes, though their last kiss, their last embrace, felt so long ago. And he only had himself to blame. Why couldn’t he just move past their shared blood? Did it truly matter?
“I’m so sorry,” he said finally. It was the only place he could think to start. “About Missandei. And Rhaegal. I should have—”
“You didn’t come here to talk to me about that,” she interrupted, surprising him. She kept her gaze on the fire. “You’ve come to censure me, so get on with it.”
They were the first words she’d spoken to him since he’d arrived on Dragonstone. At the time, Tyrion had ruefully informed him she was refusing any company. Admittedly, selfishly, perhaps, her aloofness had cut him deep. Even on the bluffs, at Varys’ trial mere hours ago, she had not once looked at him.
At the memory, he stifled a grimace. The sound of flesh and bone crackling in the heat of Drogon’s flames was still fresh in his mind. Jon licked his dry lips, searching for the right words, but she beat him to it.
“You don’t agree with my decision. To execute Varys.” She looked to him then, away from the fire. The orange glow highlighted the dark circles under her eyes, the gauntness of her cheeks. This time, his wince was involuntary. She looked like a shadow of the woman he remembered, of the fierce Dragon Queen he’d first met, here on this very hallowed ground of her—their—ancestors.
“You are the queen,” he deflected artfully. “It doesn’t matter what I think.”
Immediately, he knew he’d misstepped. She looked wounded by his words. “Doesn’t it? Not too long ago, your opinion mattered more to me than anything. And now it seems no matter what I do, it puts us at odds.”
Pained, he closed his eyes. “We’re not—” He hated to lie, especially to her. What was the point, when it was obvious to everyone, the discord between them? Swallowing, he stopped himself and tried a different tack. “I don’t think you were wrong.” Gods, he loathed this. This, this was why he didn’t want to be king, why he didn’t want to bloody rule anything. He couldn’t stand the constant misgiving of everyone around him, challenging everything he did or didn’t do, questioning if he was right, if he was wrong. He didn’t want to keep hurting everyone he loved with every decision he made—because no matter what he did, he always hurt someone.
Her, most of all, lately.
“He betrayed me,” Daenerys said lowly. Her voice was as steely as her violet gaze. “He was working to put you on the throne. He’d been caught sending ravens out to every lord and lady of Westeros. I warned you this would happen.”
Sansa. Jon felt a flash of anger, recalling the sting of her betrayal the moment Varys had confronted him on the beach.
“Aye. You did,” he admitted. And yet…he couldn’t leave it there. “I never would have gone along with anything Varys tried to do. You must know that. And I told him that as well. He knew I didn’t want the throne.” She waited, as if she could sense his hesitation. Jon blew out a quiet breath and, carefully, continued, “Perhaps...he could have been persuaded to recant...if...”
“If I hadn’t killed him, you mean.” He didn’t reply, but his silence was confirmation enough of his thoughts. Daenerys looked back to the fire. “Perhaps. Perhaps he could have been persuaded to stop his treasonous plans,” she conceded. After a deliberate pause, she said, “Or perhaps he would have succeeded in killing me first, and none of this would have mattered, anyway.”
Jon frowned. “He wouldn’t—”
“He was trying to poison me,” she cut in, her fingers curling into the arms of her chair until her fingertips turned white. “A little Tears of Lys in my food at every meal. Do you know what Tears of Lys does to a person?” She turned her face to him once more, an eerie serenity to her expression. “I had no idea myself, but the maester enlightened me. He explained to me in great detail how it eats away at your insides as you die a slow, tortuous death. It’s so subtle, most people mistake it for a disease of the bowels. Nothing to be done for it. Fortunate, I suppose, that I haven’t had much appetite these days.”
Her words were dry and bitter, and Jon could only stare at her, horrified. “Poison you? How—”
“His little birds.” She spat the words. “My Unsullied caught one of them putting the poison into my soup. Martha, she said her name is. Just a terrified little thing.”
“A child?” he said, aghast.
“Rather cowardly, wouldn’t you agree? Sending children to do your dirty work.” Her lip curled in disgust. “I warned him what would happen if he betrayed me again. I never should have allowed him near me, not after he tried to poison me and my child once already. I was a fool to show him mercy.” She closed her eyes. “I’ve been a fool about a great many things, it seems. A silly, blind fool.”
Jon didn’t know what to say. His mind was reeling still. Varys had been trying to poison her. To kill her, actually kill her. My gods.
She could have died. She could have been dead before he’d ever made it to Dragonstone. His stomach turned, and a new wave of anger washed over him. He flushed hot under the collar.
He was the fool. That was what everyone else thought, anyway, that was why they believed they could use him for their own means, to their own selfish ends. Naively, he’d thought Varys harmless, yet the man had been more treacherous than he’d realized.
Abruptly, Jon glanced to Daenerys, a troubled furrow wrinkling his brow. “What did you mean, he already tried this once before?”
She averted her eyes, lashes fluttering against her pale cheeks. “When he served the usurper, Robert Baratheon. He’d sent the word to have me killed then. I was but a mere girl and round with child. Ser Jorah, too. He’d been a part of it. Spying on me, reporting my every move to Varys. But I forgave him. As I forgave Varys.” She let out a harsh breath, a laugh almost, but she seemed to deflate with it, clasping her hands together tightly in her lap. “I never know who I can trust. Never know who will betray me. And now everyone I thought I could trust, everyone who loved me, is dead. I have no one.”
Jon went to her then, kneeling before her, fiercely gripping the arms of the chair. “That’s not true. I’m here. I’ll never betray you,” he pleaded. “You’re not alone.”
Her lips trembled as she looked at him. “I don’t have love here. Only fear. Everyone looks at me as if they’re afraid of me. As if I’m only my father’s daughter.”
He briefly closed his eyes, his heart splintering at the pain in her voice. “I love you,” he whispered. Was that the first time he’d ever said it to her? Bloody fool he was. “And you will always be my queen.”
Her hands came up to cup his face, fingers curling into the short bristles of his beard, in an intimately familiar way. At her touch, his heart ached sweetly. There was a desperation in her eyes, illuminated by the dancing flames, when she spoke. “Is that all I am to you?” she asked, drawing their faces together. Closing the distance between them. “Your queen?”
The words caught in his throat, uncertainty stilling his tongue. When he didn’t immediately answer, she pressed her forehead to his, lips grazing his in tentative entreaty. Drunk on the familiarity of her softness, Jon’s eyelids grew heavy, and his lips parted on their own volition, welcoming her taste. She kissed him, her tongue only faintly grazing his, but he shuddered down to his toes. He began to lean into her, to open his mouth wider, to steal the kiss he had denied himself for too long, when he suddenly remembered. At the intrusive and unwelcome thought, he jerked his face away, angry with himself, angry with his father—both of them—and angry with the gods who had cursed him to love a woman he shouldn’t want.
Unable to bear her hurt gaze, Jon closed his eyes. After a moment, Daenerys released him, her hands falling uselessly to her lap. She didn’t speak, curling her fingers into her palms, and then she stood, forcing him onto his haunches as she brushed by him. She floated toward the open windows across the room, nothing but a specter in red and black. His eyes followed her forlornly; he wanted to go to her, but how many times could he turn her away and expect her to welcome him with open arms every time he changed his mind? It wasn't fair of him.
When she spoke again, she kept her back to him—and her curt words knocked the very breath from him.
Mouth agape, he stared at her, certain he’d heard her wrong. “What?” he croaked.
“Don’t make me say it again,” she snapped, a pleading edge to her voice. “It’s humiliating enough, having to prostrate myself before you every time we’re alone, just to beg for the scraps of your love.”
“You—you’re pregnant?” he repeated, dumbly. Head spinning, Jon braced his hand on the stone floor as if he could ground himself, as if he would sink into the stones otherwise. “What—how long…”
“You were right, I suppose—the witch was wrong. I was wrong.” When she shook her head to herself, her long braid swayed with the motion. “How long has it been since we sailed north? Three months, at least? It’s been longer since my last moonblood. The maester confirmed it yesterday.” She leaned against a stone pillar at the window. “I thought...my nausea, my inappetence, were just because of everything else…”
Daenerys trailed off before she turned back to him, her face hard and unforgiving. Here was the formidable Dragon Queen he remembered. “Do you understand now? Why I did what I did? Why I had to do it? I couldn’t let Varys succeed, not where he failed before.”
The anger he’d felt before—it was nothing compared to this, the flash fire of rage that ignited inside his chest at the realization, a roiling, venomous hatred that curdled in his gut. His vision dimmed, a blackness threatening to swamp him.
Varys would have killed her and their child. And Jon never would have known, about the son or daughter he could have had, never would have known the treachery of those closest to her, to them, never would have held her in his arms once more to tell her how he felt—about her, about himself, about all of it, if he’d only had a little more time to come to grips with it.
Varys would have taken all of that from him. He would have stolen the rest of his life from him.
“It was a mercy then,” Jon finally rasped out, his sight returning. He could see everything so clearly now. He looked to her, and at her wary expression, he said, “What you did to Varys. It was a mercy. I would have done much worse. And I would have enjoyed every minute of it.”
She blinked, the stoniness of her face fading. Her jaw relaxed, her eyes softened, a relief flooding them, but, still, she remained removed from him. Unreachable. Carefully, Jon stood.
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” he asked.
She hugged her arms to her belly. Protecting herself. Protecting their child. “You weren’t here.”
Irritated, he replied, “I got here as fast as I could—”
“No, Jon. You haven’t been here. Not for a while,” she said sadly. “I’d have been better off talking to the ghosts in Winterfell's crypts. For weeks now, you’ve looked at me—disgusted. Ashamed. I didn’t want the father of my child to only be with me out of duty or responsibility. I didn’t want him to be repulsed every time he looked at me, at the product of our love—”
He felt sick to his stomach. “I wouldn’t—Dany—I would never, never spurn our child—I couldn’t…” His tongue was thick and clumsy, and he felt helpless to reassure her. Mutely, he looked at her. At her belly.
It didn’t look any different, the thick material of her gown hiding any obvious sign of her condition, and yet he knew it to be true. A child grew inside her. His child. Their child.
“I never thought you would spurn me either,” she answered, her voice clotted with tears. “The way you look at me—I couldn’t bear it if you looked at our child that way—”
He was moving toward her then, and for a split second, he saw the fear in her eyes, the small step back, away from him, and his heart broke. Was this how she felt? Was this what she had seen in his face, every time she would seek him out?
He seized her by the arms to stop her retreat, to prevent her from running from him. Gods, he’d been a fucking fool, a heartless, clueless ass. Once upon a time he'd been nothing but a bastard. He knew what it was like to be a child, suffering the disdain and revulsion of someone who should have cared for him, someone who should have protected him. The thought that he could do that to another innocent child? “I wouldn’t, never, I swear it, Dany. I’m sorry. Please.” Her eyes watered, throat convulsing, and he pulled her closer, desperate. “It wasn’t you. It was never about you. It’s me, I’ve been selfish and stupid. I’ve been trying to make sense of everything, stuck in my own bloody head—I’m sorry. I’ve been a fucking fool.”
Frantically, she shook her head, face crumpling. “This is exactly what I didn’t want. I knew you’d change your mind once you found out about the child—not for me, not because you love me or want me—”
“But I do, I do, damn it all,” he swore, and he meant it. “Maybe I shouldn’t, I don’t know, but I love you, and I want you, and everything’s been shit without you. It’s my fault, I know. I shouldn’t have let it matter. It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t,” he insisted when she began to object. He pressed his forehead to hers, desperate to make her understand what he understood now, what he himself had only just realized.
“It was never about you, Dany. My whole life has been a lie, and I was angry with Ned, and Rhaegar, I was angry at the world, but not you. Never you. You’re the only one who’s never lied to me. Who’s never betrayed me. You’re the only one who’s loved me no matter who or what I was.”
Her breath hitched, eyes shimmering brightly with unshed tears. They caught in her eyelashes, clustering like tiny stars. “And can you say the same?” she asked. Emotion choked her voice. “Did you not betray me? Did you still love me, even when you learned who I was?”
He wanted to howl in frustration, to beat his fists on the stone. And he only had himself to blame for her doubt. “Aye, I did, damn it! I do. I thought I couldn’t show you, but I do love you, that’s the only constant I know now. That’s been there this whole time. I hurt you, and I’m so sorry, more than you’ll ever know, more than I could ever make amends for—but never again.” He grabbed her neck, curving his hand around it possessively, holding her face to his. “Never again, Dany. Let me prove it to you. Let me earn your trust back.”
She squeezed her eyes shut, and the tears slipped free, tracking down her cheeks. He kissed one, then the other, gathering the salt on his tongue, before he kissed her forehead, her closed eyelids. A distressed whimper passed her lips, and he kissed them next, trapping the sound with his mouth. Lips firmly pressed to hers, he waited, begging, pleading silently. Truthfully, he expected her to push him away, to damn him, tell him it was too late, he’d made his choice. Her scorn would be nothing more than he deserved.
And yet, when she returned his kiss, he thought he might sink to his knees in relief. Her hands came up, trembling and greedy, cupping his face as the brine of her tears mixed with the piquant taste of her tongue. A powerful ripple of desire rolled through him, landing like a punch to his gut, and he gripped her neck, parting her mouth wide with his own to plunge his tongue inside.
Yes, this, this was all that mattered—her and him, and their child too—the rest be damned. He would do anything to keep her safe, to stay by her side, now and always.
That grip of desire, that hunger, that want, settled lower, his cock growing hard as his tongue stroked hers. Their hands moved in accord, his reaching for the front clasps of her gown, hers tugging at the ties of his jerkin. He got her gown opened first and jerked the garment down her arms, her bare breasts jiggling from the force of his savagery. With a strangled gasp, she broke away from his kiss, hands forced down to her sides as he stripped her. His mouth followed, tongue and teeth lavishing her breasts, and her pebbled nipples grew taut and red from his voracious attentions.
Jon finished divesting her of the gown, and she got her hands up, fingers diving into his hair only to be foiled by the leather tie holding it back. “Jon,” she moaned when he gave a particularly hard suck on her nipple, pinching the other until she cried out. Squeezing her breast, he circled his thumb over the tender bud then dropped his hand to the laces of her riding trousers, making quick work of them. But as he slipped his hand inside, he paused on her abdomen, flattening his palm to her belly. Was it his imagination, or could he feel a nearly imperceptible swell, the faintest hint of her quickening womb?
Daenerys went still at his reverent touch, and he lifted his head to meet her gaze, his breathing labored. She regarded him cautiously, her own breasts lifting with her quick breaths. Her apprehension pained him. But he’d earned it, he knew. He would spend a lifetime plucking every brier and burr that shrouded her heart now, if that was what it took.
“I love you,” he murmured. He brought his face close to hers. “You’re my queen, my family. My blood. The mother of my child.” He swallowed hard. “And I want you to be my wife.”
In answer, she kissed him, tenderly at first, then all at once boldly. There were no tears this time, just tongue and teeth and a growing, restless need. Jon worked his hand inside her smallclothes, through the thatch of her pubic hair. His fingers parted her nether lips, and he groaned deep in his throat, finding her hot and slick. Her clitoris was plump already, and she gasped as he gently teased it with a blunt fingertip. He felt the sharpness of her fangs on his lips and kissed her hard, a growl rumbling in his chest like distant thunder as he stroked her. She quaked in his arms, nails cutting into the tendons straining in his neck.
When Jon pushed his fingers into her cunt, Daenerys pulled away with a groan, throwing her head back. He sank knuckle-deep into her silky-wet channel with ease, two fingers, three. She tried to open for him, but her trousers impeded her movement. Regretfully pulling his hand away, Jon sucked her musky nectar off his fingers.
She tasted different, a biting, tart sweetness that hit him in the back of his cheeks. Had it been so long he’d forgotten her flavor, or was her body changing already, ripening with his seed? The thought made him lightheaded, his cock pulsing thick with blood, and suddenly he was desperate to be buried inside her, pumping her with more of his seed.
Hurriedly, he yanked her breeches down, her smallclothes tangled with them. He had to contend with her bloody boots, too, tugging them from her feet before he could get her pants off. When she stood naked before him, back against the stone pillar, the salty sea breeze whipping wisps of silver hair around her face, Jon rose and removed his jerkin over his head. Finally bare-chested, he pulled off his boots, blindly tossing them aside, and pushed down his breeches and smallclothes, cock jutting toward her.
She reached for him, taking his cock in her small, soft hand. He let her stroke him, reveling in the smooth glide of her palm over his shaft, the tip already flushed red and leaking. He grabbed her waist, knees nearly buckling when she viciously tightened her fist around his cock.
“Fuck,” he groaned, head growing fuzzy. He wanted to kneel, he wanted to throw her leg over his shoulder and feast, to properly worship her in the ways he should have been doing every single moment since they’d left that damn ship, but it’d been too long already; he’d spill before he could finish her.
Jon hooked her leg around his hip and lifted her effortlessly. She wrapped her other leg around his waist, holding onto his shoulders. He’d have fucked her against the pillar, in front of the open window for the whole of Westeros to see, so they’d know she was his and he was hers—if he wasn’t afraid of accidentally pitching her out the window in his blind animal lust.
Grabbing the plump cheeks of her arse, he carried her to the Painted Table where he set her on the edge. He didn’t spare her a second to ready herself before he fisted his cock and pushed into her plush, sopping cunt.
She gasped, hand gripping the table to brace against the intrusion. He welcomed the bite of her nails on his shoulder, eyes rolling to the back of his head as her heat swallowed him whole.
“Dany,” he grunted, his cock pulsing in the vice of her cunt. His balls tightened in warning. He knew he wouldn’t last long. How, why, had he denied himself, both of them, this simple pleasure, this one truth?
They were made for each other.
With a whimper, Daenerys tightened her legs around his waist, pushing against him. “Please,” she whispered, pleaded, cheeks flushed pink in the dim firelight, a lovely blush spreading down to her lovely breasts. “Please—”
He kissed her to silence the words. He couldn’t bear to hear it. I’ve never begged for anything, but I’m begging you, please. She’d said that once, and he hadn’t listened then. He wouldn’t repeat that mistake. As long as he drew breath, she’d never have to beg him again, not for anything.
He moved inside her, quick, shallow thrusts. His hand found hers on the table and clutched at it, and soon he was fucking her, hard and fast, sure to leave bruises on his skin where his thighs pummeled the edge of the table, but he didn’t care. All that mattered was her, him, this, his cock in her cunt, her cries of pleasure as he pressed his face to her throat.
Then he was coming too quickly, his feral, guttural grunts changing to hoarse, rapid gasps as he emptied himself inside her. He slipped his hand into the sticky gap between her cunt and his groin, fingering her slippery, swollen clitoris until her cunt clenched around him and she came, her moan a soft, quivering song in his ear.
As her sweet cunt wrung the last of his seed from him, Jon kissed down to her chest, where he could feel the frantic thrum of her heart just below. There, he held his lips.
Mine, he thought, seized by a fierce possessiveness. Mine to love. Mine to protect.
Once more, his hand settled on her abdomen. Mine to love. Mine to protect.