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The Dragons Dark and Deep

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When I was a child, I heard voices
Some would sing and some would scream
You soon find you have few choices
I learned the voices died with me

When I was a child, I'd sit for hours
Staring into open flame
Something in it had a power
Could barely tear my eyes away

All you have is your fire
And the place you need to reach
Don't you ever tame your demons
But always keep 'em on a leash

Hozier
Arsonist's Lullaby

 

 

 

The Bolton forces had them surrounded, pinned and trapped. The groans and cries of dying men echoed through the air, sounds he knew well yet hated down to the very depths of his aching bones. Mud, blood, and shit coated every inch of him, invaded his nose and turned his stomach as his lungs took in great gasps of air, his chest heaving. Everywhere he looked, the image of the flayed man stared back at him from the wall of shields around them.

 

This was his fault. He did this. These men all died, would die, because they followed him into a fight they couldn’t win.

 

He momentarily locked eyes with Davos, wishing he could tell him he was sorry. Sorry for all of this.

 

Somewhere within the chaos swirling in his mind a hope slipped through that Sansa had gotten somewhere safe. And little Lyanna Mormont. What would a monster like Ramsay do to—

 

A great roar split the air and he jerked around, looking to the east, the others still alive around him doing the same. His mouth fell open in awe, and maybe a bit of fear. Great winged beasts appeared in the sky above. Dragons . Three dragons . Where in the seven bloody hells? Beneath them rose the sound of a thousand thousand hooves mixed with blood-curdling screams. A breath later an army came flooding over the ridge. No, not an army, a horde.

 

Jon stood stunned, watching them pour across the hill and run through Ramsay’s troops like water over stone. The dragons circled the field, the mountain of dead. He caught sight of a tiny speck of white astride the largest of the dragons just before the air filled with scorching fire, acrid black smoke, and the screams of men cut short.

 

Hope lit within his chest. Why their saviors had come he didn't know, but he'd let them do what they would. He had only one goal now.

 

He climbed the mountain of dead men, rising to the top, ignoring the gore beneath him, and scanned the field until he found his prey. He watched with narrowed eyes as Ramsay retreated, a rage the likes of which he'd never known slipping through his veins to see the coward run. WunWun and Tormund appeared at his side and the three of them took off after him, the giant out ahead. Jon barely glanced back as the horde of riders completely overtook what was left of Ramsay’s army.

 

By the time he and Tormund reached the gates all of the Bolton archers left inside the keep had turned their bows on WunWun. The giant was taking such abuse Jon doubted that he would live through it. He finally broke through, stumbling inside–Tormund, Jon, and a host of his own archers following. WunWun roared and Jon looked up at the giant, the last of his kind, as he fell to his knees, his body riddled with arrows. He reached out a hand, just to show him his gratitude, but before he could lay a hand on him, an arrow went through his eye, killing him. The giant hit the ground and he turned to the son of a bitch that had loosed the fatal shot.

 

Ramsay Bolton was going to die. He would kill him with his bare hands.

 

“You suggested one-on-one combat, didn’t you?” Ramsay quipped as he looked around at the others standing in the yard with him, all his own men dead.

 

Jon's men held their bows and arrows aloft, ready to strike him dead at the first word. But no. That was too quick. Too easy. Ramsay would suffer. Suffer for what he did to Sansa. Suffer for Rickon. Suffer for every man, woman, and child he had ever flayed and tortured.

 

The bastard had the audacity to smile at him. “I’ve reconsidered. I think that sounds like a wonderful idea,” he taunted as he drew another arrow and notched it in his bow.

 

Jon didn’t even stop to consider what was happening. He dropped Longclaw and picked up a discarded shield just in time to block the arrow as he strode forward. Ramsay shot another, and Jon stopped for only a moment, absorbing the hit as the arrow embedded into the raised shield. He took another step and another. The third arrow was fired quicker than the first two, but still, he blocked it. There weren't enough arrows in the North to stop him. Finally, close enough, he yanked his arm back and slammed Ramsay as hard as he could with the butt of the shield, sending him to the ground. And that was it. He was on him. Every punch felt better than the last, the feel of bone breaking beneath his fists, hearing the bastard's groans as his skin split and more blood splattered.

 

Father. Robb. Sansa. Bran. Arya. Rickon. WunWun. The North. His family. His people. The Wildlings.

 

His strength never waned, every punch landing harder and with more ferocity than the previous and none of them slaked his blood lust. He wanted him to suffer. Wanted him to experience fear. Wanted him to know what it was like to lose. To die.

 

A slow glide of white came into Jon's periphery, followed quickly by something grey. He looked up momentarily and his eyes locked with the ice blue of Sansa's. He could see it on her face. The need burning bright. She wanted to kill her tormentor. A figure in white shifted at her side and stole his attention then. The thud of Ramsay’s head hitting the ground barely registered. He stood and stumbled away from him, the roar of blood in his ears near deafening, his head spinning, vision red and pulsing.

 

He wouldn’t kill him. He would still his hand, allow Sansa the pleasure. It was the very least he could do for her. Through haze filled eyes he looked around at the others standing in the yard, all silent and shocked at his behavior he supposed. He cast one last glance at the woman in white by Sansa's side, before he strode away, his body still trembling with rage, leaving him feeling like some fell beast. He needed to calm down. He needed to force the wolf back in its cage, the one who wanted to snap and claw and rip Ramsay Bolton into bloody pieces. He wasn't fit to speak to anyone.

 

He exited the keep unsure whether the death that awaited him outside of it would tame the fire within, or stoke it into an inferno, only to stop in surprise. A familiar figure was slowly riding toward him. He looked past the Imp to the huge force that had assembled on the field all riding amongst the dead, still adding more to the piles. The horde was so large he couldn't begin to count them. He’d never seen an army so vast, not even Stannis had commanded that many. Tyrion finally reached his side drawing his attention with a deep breath.

 

Jon spared him a look. "The Dwarf of Casterly Rock," he greeted, his voice rough and raspy from the throes of battle. He cleared his throat and spit some of the rancid taste from his mouth.

 

"The Bastard of Winterfell," Tyrion returned. “I’m glad we got here in time."

 

“I didn’t know you were coming,” he grunted. “Was I supposed to?”

 

Tyrion's brows furrowed and he gave a short nod. “I would've thought. Sansa sent a messenger asking for our help. She said you were going to take back your home together.”

 

He glanced back through the busted gates, a sickening wave of doubt causing him to sway on his feet. Could he trust no one, not even family? He swallowed at the bitter knot that had risen in his throat. “She’s inside. Perhaps you should talk to her since she arranged all of this.”

 

Tyrion’s eyes moved over his face, down his muck-covered gambeson. “You haven’t asked whose army just saved your life.”

 

His fists clenched, the ache in his knuckles beginning to make itself known. He squinted up at the sky and nodded at the beasts still circling overhead. “The three large dragons told me enough. Daenerys Targaryen, I assume.”

 

“You have heard of her? Good,” he said with a nod of his head.

 

Jon didn’t know why, but Tyrion’s attitude rankled his already frayed nerves.

 

“Maester Aemon at the Wall was her great, great uncle. He got messages about her and her dragons." He shifted toward the Keep, then back to the field. "I’m going to check on my men. See yourself inside,” he told him as he walked away. He wasn't feeling very courteous.

 

The weight of eyes on his back had him glancing over his shoulder. He expected to see Melisandre. She always had a habit of watching him when he didn’t know it. But when he turned, it wasn't the red woman he saw, but the beauty in her white coat, hair the silver of moonlight. Her blue eyes followed his every move as he walked off, intense and enticing.  

 

He tore his own away and kept going, a new awareness seeping into his bloodstream.

 

*~*

 

Ignoring almost everything else happening around her, Daenerys couldn't help but watch him walk through the gate, steps slow but steady. He stopped to speak with Tyrion, and still, her eyes would not leave him.

 

When her Hand had tried to convince her to join the Starks in helping to retake Winterfell, she'd initially had reservations. Helping the usurper’s most loyal friend's son and daughter reclaim the keep that had been lost to them was not high on her priority list. But Tyrion assured her that Ned Stark had been an honorable man and his children were raised to be good people. He had also told her that it was an endeavor worth pursuing as she had Dorne, the Iron Islands, and the Reach as allies. Taking back Winterfell for the Starks would indebt the North to her. It was the largest kingdom with the most stubborn people to win over. If she rescued them, using her armies and her dragons, then they would have no choice but to bend the knee.

 

"Thank you, Your Grace. For coming so swiftly, for coming at all," Lady Sansa said, then simply walked away, not giving her time to respond as Daenerys continued to watch Jon Snow walk further out of her sight.

 

Tyrion rode through the gates, halting his steed not far from her. He climbed from the saddle and walked to her side, looking around at the keep and those within it. "That was easy enough," he quipped.

 

She fought not to roll her eyes. “I take it that was Jon Snow," she stated, still staring through the gates.

 

“It was. And he did not know we were coming,” he said as he glanced over his shoulder to where Sansa was speaking to some of her people.

 

“That explains why he didn’t wait for us.”

 

Three of her blood riders came through the gates and spoke in rapid-fire Dothraki, asking what they should do with the men that surrendered. She ordered them to keep them alive, for now, but guarded.

 

“My Dothraki is getting better, but not good enough to have understood all of that," Tyrion muttered.

 

Daenerys folded her hands in front of her as she turned to him. “There were some who surrendered from Bolton’s side. They wanted to know what to do with them. I said to leave them alive, for now. At least until I can speak with Jon Snow.”

 

“I heard that Ramsay killed their little brother in front of him.”

 

Daenerys frowned, saddened by the news. Children should never be pawns, somehow they always were. “The last trueborn son of Ned Stark,” she said softly. “Who will the North embrace? Snow, or his sister?”

 

“I believe Sansa might have been playing all of this with the hopes they will see her as their savior since she brought you to save them,” he offered.

 

She hummed, accepting his thoughts, but not so sure it was time to voice her own. Her instincts told her the hard men of the North would not be choosing a woman when a fabled warrior led their armies. She needed to know much more before her own choice could be made as well.

 

She looked around at the keep and shook her head. “Not much of a keep,” she said softly.

 

“It was burned by the Greyjoys before they left it to Ramsay and his forces," he explained. "It has seen better days.”

 

“Send the Dothraki into the woods to hunt. We’ll need to not only feed our armies but what’s left of theirs.”

 

Tyrion nodded. “It will be done, Your Grace. I don’t think you should be walking around alone.”

 

“She won’t be alone.”

 

They both turned to see Jon Snow had returned, his face somewhat cleared of the blood and mud. The rest of him was still a grisly sight. She swallowed thickly, entranced by him nonetheless. Something about watching a man fight had always stirred her blood, but this one had captured her from the moment she’d seen him running across the field, a wolf chasing down its prey.

 

She had landed Drogon and followed only when she saw the enemy archers fall. Watching him take down Ramsay and then beat him within an inch of his life had caused her heart to thud within her chest, among other things. Now, seeing him post-battle, still mostly covered in death and mud, his dark eyes watching her with interest… She was at a complete loss as to how she felt.

 

“I’ll stay with her while you carry out her order,” Jon assured Tyrion.

 

“You'r–”

 

“I’ll be fine, Lord Tyrion," Daenerys said cutting off whatever he was going to say. “I trust Lord Snow won’t allow anything untoward to happen to me.” She didn't know where her trust in this stranger had come from, but she felt it even so.

 

Jon gave a small shake of his head, and she tore her eyes from his and looked at Tyrion. “Go.”

 

Her Hand walked away and left her alone with Jon Snow. He wasn’t much taller than she was, but she’d seen his bravery first hand. Size wasn't everything. “Your Grace,” he said with a bow of his head. “Welcome to Winterfell.” His voice held a such a rough edge to it that it caused gooseflesh to rise upon her arms, and heat to pool elsewhere.

 

She swallowed. “Thank you, my lord.”

 

He gave a shake of his head. “I am not a lord.”

 

“You are if I say you are,” she replied, "and was that not the last title you held? Lord Commander of the Night's Watch?"

 

He went stone still, his comely brown eyes turning pitch black as they bore into hers. She suppressed a shiver. "It was," he answered after a tense moment, the words as course as Drogon's hide as they left his pretty mouth. "But, no longer. My watch ended."

 

She studied him, finding something in his eyes, the set of his jaw. There was a heaviness about him. She sensed the weight of it was crushing, yet there he stood in front of her, as tall and fierce as his stature would allow. He was almost too intriguing for her comfort.

 

She chose to push at his. He was fresh from battle, his limits no doubt reached. No better time to find the truth of a man's character. "Forgive me if I am wrong, but it is my understanding that death is the only end to a man's watch once he's taken the black."

 

Unsurprisingly, he did not sway under her scrutiny. Not even a tick of the eye. "Nothing to forgive, Your Grace. You are correct."

 

She lifted an eyebrow. "Yet, here you are, very much alive."

 

"Aye."

 

"Perhaps as Lord Commander, you implemented a new rule?"

 

He finally freed them from their spell, tearing his eyes away, shifting his body to look about the yard, his fingers working into a fist again before coming up to rub at his chest. "Something like that."

 

She obviously wasn't going to be getting any more from him on the subject any time soon. She moved on. “The man you were beating was Ramsay Bolton, was it not?”

 

“It was.”

 

“Good,” she said with a nod. “Tyrion told me you were unaware we were coming.”

 

He shook his head again, his jaw clenching. “Aye, that's the right of it. I would have waited if I had known.” His intense eyes were now focused over her shoulder, to where his sister stood she presumed. Doubt was shining in their pitchy depths. The siblings were not on good terms.

 

“We sent word to your sister that we had landed in White Harbor and would arrive today,” she offered quietly.

He brought his attention back to her. “Who and how many are we ?”

 

“I have both the Dothraki and the Unsullied. One hundred thousand Dothraki and over eight thousand Unsullied. The Unsullied are marching here as we speak. You’ve seen the Dothraki.”

 

He seemed surprised to hear how many men were in her command. Brow raised, eyes gone round. She didn’t blame him. She’d heard of the armies that his brother, Stannis, and Renly had all held while they were alive. Her force would have swarmed through them like locusts and left none standing. He glanced around and noticed a few of the Dothraki actually watching them before he finally nodded. “They’re hard to miss.”

 

She gave him a small smile. "And my dragons.”

 

“Impressive beasts.”

 

Her gaze narrowed a bit. “They aren’t beasts to me. They’re my children.”

 

He stared at her and she nearly squirmed beneath his piercing, inquisitive gaze.

 

“Is that her?” she heard hollered from across the yard and before either of them could react, a great big man with flaming orange hair had rushed her and lifted her off the ground. “DID YOU SEE HER, JON SNOW? ON THE BACK OF THAT GIANT FUCKING DRAGON!?”

 

“Tormund,” Jon snapped, shaking his head. “Put her down.”

 

She gripped the large man's arms and he finally put her back on her feet. “For someone so little you are mighty,” he crowed, smile wary.

 

He thought she was going to be offended. She stepped back and studied him with a careful eye. “You should have the maester look at your nose,” she finally offered with the smallest of smiles.

 

“Eh, it’s broken. Don’t need anyone to tell me that.”

 

Jon Snow stepped forward and motioned toward his comrade. “Queen Daenerys Targaryen, this is Tormund Giantsbane, one of the Free Folk and my friend.”

 

“Aye, Jon Snow.” He looked back at Daenerys. “Tonight you drink with the Free Folk, little queen. We will toast to you, your men, and those great big dragons!”

 

She gave him a small smile. “My men and I will welcome the toast. My dragons… I’d stay away from them unless you want to be dinner.”

 

Tormund smiled at Jon. “I like this one. She’s feisty.”

 

She put a hand on Tormund’s arm. “But no drinking until you’ve had your nose seen to.”

 

“Very well, Dragon Queen. But you drink our drink,” he said before he turned and walked away.

 

She felt Jon’s eyes on her but he turned away when she faced him. He was smiling though, and she liked the way it looked on his face. “You may regret that. The ale the Free Folk drink is stronger than most wines.”

 

She raised an eyebrow in challenge. “So is the mare’s milk the Dothraki drink,” she said as she began walking. He fell into step beside her. “How did you get pinned in like you were?”

 

He hung his head, one hand gripping the hilt of his sword and drew in a deep breath. “They used my little brother as bait.”

 

She frowned, his voice holding a grief she knew too well. “I’m sorry we didn’t get here sooner.”

 

He shook his head, his throat working hard. “It’s because of you we have Winterfell, Your Grace. I… we are most grateful. Forgive me for not saying so earlier."

 

"Your day has not been an easy one, there's nothing to forgive," she returned with a nod, pleased. It was too soon to know if all the Northmen would feel the same, but she could see Jon Snow's words were true. “Still. I’ve lost two brothers. Even if I loathed Viserys when he died, he was still the brother who used to carry me on his back and tell me stories,” she said softly. “I’m sorry for your loss, my Lord.”

 

They both stopped as a body was carried in by several men. Jon stepped closer, pain and guilt heavy in his eyes, furrowing lines into his handsome face. The boy, not quite yet a man, had three arrows lodged within his chest. Jon leaned over his brother's head, brushing back the thick rusty curls, and pressed a kiss to the boy's brow. She dropped her eyes to the muddy ground beneath her feet, giving him what privacy she could while shielding her heart from the sight.

 

“We’ll put him in the crypts beside our father," she heard him murmur.

 

The men walked away and before he could turn back to her to say anything, Sansa appeared. “Jon. Where is he?”

 

Daenerys knew whom she was asking for, could see in the girl's eyes the need for vengeance. By rights, since the war was won by her forces, she should have say in what happened to the coward Ramsay Bolton. But she would not stand in the way of justice being served by the woman he tormented and tortured.

 

“The kennels,” Jon said. “He’s still unconscious." He seemed to argue with himself a moment, eyes averted, jaw muscles twitching before looking on his sister again. "Wait until he wakes up. You'll enjoy it more,” he told her then looked back at Daenerys, seeming to wait for something, almost as if he wanted a reaction from her over his call for such brutality.

 

She wouldn't be fainting if that's what he thought. She turned her eyes to Sansa. "I believe my Hand was looking for you," she prodded, wanting her time with Jon Snow to continue uninterrupted.

 

“Yes, I saw Lord Tyrion briefly,” Sansa offered, looking around avoiding them both. “I’m going to see some of the servants." She left them then and Jon watched her go, another flash of something in his eyes for his sister. Suspicion or sadness, she couldn't discern. Perhaps it was a bit of both.  

 

She thought it wise to press, just a bit. “Why didn’t she tell you we were coming?”

 

“I don’t know,” he admitted. "But I assure you I will find out." His inky eyes were staring into hers again, heated and hell-bent. She stifled the need to shift on her feet. He blinked, seemed to shake himself free of his agitation. “We look forward to hosting your forces here at Winterfell, Your Grace.”

 

She nodded. “Tonight is for revelry and mourning the dead. Tomorrow we’ll have a meeting between your advisors and mine. See how we align on different ideas for this country?”

 

“As you wish, Your Grace. I will reserve a place for you at the head table.”

 

She gave him a small smile. Jon Snow was indeed as well mannered as Tyrion had assured her. “My Dothraki are hunting in the woods as we speak. I’m sure we’ll have enough for a feast once they have finished. We also brought provisions from Meereen.”

 

“That’s very kind, Your Grace.”

 

Tyrion approached and he looked pleased. “Your requests have been carried out.”

 

“Good, work with their people. We shall feast tonight in honor of our allies and the fallen.”

 

Tyrion looked at her in concern. “How many Dothraki are you planning to let attend inside?”

 

“No more than ten,” she said softly. “I’ll tell Missandei which ones,” she replied and Tyrion gave a nod. She looked over at Jon, quickly noting his confusion.

 

“The Dothraki celebrate differently than we do. They like to fight and fuck in front of an audience,” Tyrion explained before she could.

 

Jon straightened, his full lips pressing into a tight line. “The Northmen... would be shocked.”

 

Tyrion scoffed. “Shocked? I’m sure a few of them would die where they sat.” He and Jon shared a smirk before he continued. “Grey Worm and the Unsullied had just crested the hill when I was coming back into the Keep.”

 

“Good. Lord Snow, would you escort me to greet the Unsullied?”

 

*~*

 

Jon nodded and looked down at himself. “I’d offer you my arm but I wouldn’t want to ruin your coat.”

 

“Offer anyway,” she said with a smile. Seeing it light her face, hearing the softness of her voice snatched the very breath from his lungs and nearly undid him then and there.

 

How could someone so small, soft, warm, and beautiful command such a force? Dragons and armies?

 

Keen to find out, he offered his arm to her and she slid her hand in to rest over his forearm, tucking herself against his side. Heat. He could feel it radiating beneath her glove and coat. She smelled of sunshine, fire and smoke. His mouth went dry, trying to figure out what to say or do with this arresting queen.

 

He knew what he wanted to do, but that was hardly appropriate given they had just met and she was a queen. He was a lowly bastard with no title except the one she decided to call him. So, he stayed silent and escorted her through the gate and out to the field where the dead were being gathered into smaller piles. He saw her dragons lounging in the dim sunlight, and from the east, four across and hundreds deep marched the Unsullied, the Targaryen banner held high amongst them.

 

He glanced at the queen as two figures rode over the horizon and past the marching men. They came straight to them. The riders were dark-skinned, one man, the other a woman. The man was a warrior, of that Jon was certain, his face stern, countenance hard. The woman beside him was another story, with her small smile, golden eyes and a soft halo of springy curls about her head she gave off a gentle air. “Your Grace,” she said with a bow of her head as the man helped her dismount.

 

“I trust everyone is moving quickly?”

 

“They are. By nightfall, everyone will be outside the grounds.”

 

“Jon Snow, this is the commander of the Unsullied, Grey Worm, and my closest advisor and translator, Missandei of Naath.”

 

He bowed his head to them as they looked him over. “Welcome to Winterfell.”

 

“I would request that the two of them be allowed to sit with us during the feast,” the Queen asked of him.

 

“Of course, Your Grace," he was quick to answer. As if he'd think to tell her no.  

 

Who was this woman ? Who made friends with her commander and translator. Understood the customs of Dothraki savages, had already bewitched Tormund. And was quickly transfixing him.

 

*~*

 

She insisted on seeing more of the Keep once her people were settled, firing questions at him about Winterfell and its people as they walked.

 

It had been so long for him, everything familiar yet not. He felt as if he were learning almost as much as she was. Soon enough they wound up outside the gates of the Godswood. He stopped, resting his hand on the iron bars, the cold metal within his grasp soothing the ache in his battered joints, but not his heart. It had been an age since he had set foot in his family's sacred place and suddenly he felt all of the grief and exhaustion from the day, from the last five years, seep into his bones. His knees nearly buckled.

 

But he wasn't alone, couldn't give into the misery. He could feel her eyes on him, knew she wanted in, and who was he to deny her. She had saved it for them after all. He pushed open the gate.

 

They walked inside and he stopped short when she waved to the others not to follow, a pang of gratefulness felt toward her for the gesture. Once alone he led her to the small pool and his feet would simply go no further. He looked around, memories invading him as she released his arm and walked to the heart tree.

 

“This is... remarkable.”

 

“The heart tree,” he managed to get out, voice rough as a tangle of briars. He cleared his throat. “We believe the Old Gods watch us through their faces.”

 

If she noticed his struggle she gave no sign,  looking up at the red leaves slightly shivering in the wind and took a deep breath. “Are they always red? Even in winter?” she asked, awed as any child seeing something new and wondrous.

 

“Yes, Your Grace.”

 

She turned her blue eyes to him and he felt rooted to the spot. She was too beautiful by far, a dragon somehow looking right at home in the wintery North, all of her white as snow, yet as bright and blazing as the sun. “My experience has shown me not to have faith in gods or myths," she said, her words as strong and sharp as a forged blade. "Faith in oneself is the only thing that will pull a person through dark times.”

 

He couldn't dispute her, so he didn't, though he doubted seriously any sort of faith had anything to do with how he still put one foot in front of the other. “I was raised on the belief of the Old Gods," he responded, the words finding their way out of their own violation. "I don’t know that I believe in them, now.”

 

She stepped closer, elegant eyebrows raised. “Why is that?”

 

Because I died, and know there's nothing. No peace, no comfort, no loved ones to greet you. Just nothing.

 

He frowned, biting back the real truth, because why would she believe it? Deciding he could give her his thoughts at least, he closed the distance between them. “It seems to me that too much of the bad in this world is carried out in the name of this god or that. All using us like pieces on a crevasse board.” He shook his head. “Why should we put our faith and trust in that? Only blessed as long as we’re useful.”

 

She tilted her pretty head and a sad smile graced her perfect lips. “People are much the same.”

 

He narrowed his eyes at her. “Are you?”

 

“Very blunt,” she said with a soft chuff and a lifted eyebrow. “What do you think I want from you?”

 

“The North. But it is not mine to give.”

 

“It is if I name you Warden.”

 

He shook his head. “I’m a bastard.”

 

She stepped closer again, too close for propriety's sake. He did not back away. “I’m an exiled princess. My hand is a disgraced son, my closest advisor was a slave girl, the commander of my Unsullied was a slave soldier, and my former friend and advisor was a banished son from a Northern house. Titles only matter if you give them weight. Lord. Warden. King. They’re only important in the eyes of the people who follow them.”

 

He dropped his eyes to his clenched fist, forcing it open, closed, and open again. “I nearly got all the people who followed me killed today.”

 

“But you didn’t," she countered softly. "Luck. Fate. Whatever the reason, you survived. And so did most of those who follow you.” She ducked her head, caught his eyes with her own. “Those in positions of power have the responsibility to their people to take care of them, to give them better lives. By freeing them from the tyrannical rule of Ramsay Bolton, I would say you are a good steward. Much better than they had."

 

He scowled at her. “You don’t even know me.”

 

She gave him a small smile. “No. But I have a feeling you and I will become very well acquainted, Jon Snow. Thank you for the tour, I’ll leave you to get cleaned up." With that, she walked past him and out of the Godswood.

 

He resisted the urge to follow her, to ask what she'd meant, instead, he let his thoughts wander down the path she had given light to and imagined it, for just a moment. Having her in his arms, worshipping her like the queen she was.

 

He licked his lips, something sudden and shocking screaming inside him to go after her, take her and claim her. She would be his and only his. He clenched his fists and ground his teeth, wondering when he’d ever thought that he could reach so high as to attempt to possess a queen.

 

Nothing but a Northern fool.

Chapter Text

 

 

And I'd give up forever to touch you

Cause I know that you feel me somehow

You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be
And I don't want to go home right now

And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
And sooner or later it's over
I just don't wanna miss you tonight

And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's meant to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

Iris
Goo Goo Dolls

She was shown to her rooms, complete with a large solar and a bedroom with its own private privy. There were several chairs around an enormous hearth, an abundance of fluffy furs on the bed, and even a small platter of food and wine on the table. She wasn’t in the mood to eat as she sat in front of the fire, thinking of running her hands through the flames so she could get them warm again. She expected the North to be cold, but she already missed the warmth and sun of Essos.

 

In a few weeks time, her allies would arrive and she'd truly be in the midst of making plans to take back her family’s seat, ridding the world of Cersei Lannister once and for all.

 

She closed her eyes, knowing she needed patience to make any of it work. Bringing her forces North before ever stepping into this country had not been the plan, but she found she didn't regret it, was pleased in fact. She gazed up at the carvings of the Stark direwolves etched into the thick mantle, the grey wolf on a white banner. Jon Snow.

 

He required much consideration. She could legitimize him here and now, put him firmly in her debt even more than he already was. But, with the way he spoke of himself, she didn’t think he’d want that. He still shifted when she had called him Lord, his dark brow furrowing at the mention of making him Warden. Most men would jump at such chances. She was most interested to pick apart the threads that made up such an enigmatic man.

 

Watching him take down Ramsay Bolton, beat him with his own hands had stirred things in her she hadn’t felt since Drogo had proclaimed he would take the Iron Throne for her. He had looked like a snarling, ravenous wolf, devouring his prey and she couldn't help but wonder if he would be just as voracious with a lover beneath him to feast upon.

 

Her blood warming to uncomfortable levels at such thoughts, she went to the window, hoping for a distraction. But it was not to be, through the smudged glass, his figure could be seen in the yard speaking with his men, sending them on some errand or another.

 

He had cleaned up and the result was… Arresting. He was quite comely, beautiful even. Hair, black as a raven's wing, pulled back from his handsome face only to fall into lush curls around his neck. She wanted to feel them slide through her fingers, grip them in her hand. She wondered how it would soften him if she were to free them from their tight confines. She would find out soon if she had her way, and she usually did.

 

Though he was too far away to see them as she wished, she remembered those dark, depthless eyes set within his pale face. They held so much emotion that when he turned them on her, she felt pinned to the spot. Frozen, yet filled with fire. And he had a mouth made for sinning– full lush lips, often set in a near-permanent pout. She was quite curious to know what it would be like to feel them pressed to hers, devouring and delightful. He was shorter than she was used to, but she didn’t think that made him any smaller. He seemed to loom over her with his dominating presence, even if he wasn’t purposefully menacing or intimidating toward her. He hadn't been. But she knew that a fire lurked beneath his surface, could see it burning in his eyes, held back in a strain of muscles. She couldn’t wait to tap into it and explore it. To feel its burn.

 

A voice cleared behind her and she turned to find Varys, Tyrion, Missandei, and Grey Worm. She gestured for them to come in and take a seat around the table. They did so, Grey shutting the door and locking them in. The rest sat while he stood guard.

 

“Are all of your rooms sufficient?” she asked. They each nodded and she gave them all a smile. “Good. We will feast tonight, but tomorrow I want to have a meeting between myself and Lord Snow and his sister, Lady Stark.”

 

Tyrion nodded his agreement, Varys shifted forward. “Your Grace. I have received word that a considerable force is camped at Moat Calin,” he told her.

 

“What is this force? And how many?”

 

“Two thousand mounted riders, Your Grace. From the Eyrie. Lord Petyr Baelish leads them with a Lord Yohn Royce. On behalf of Robyn Arryn, Lady Stark’s cousin.”

 

“And they're coming here?”

 

Varys nodded. “Apparently, before they left Castle Black, Littlefinger, Baelish, had offered his troops to Lady Sansa, but my little birds have told me that she had already sent a messenger to us the day she arrived at the Wall.”

 

Daenerys sat back in her seat, lacing her fingers together tightly. “She was already planning to take back Winterfell,” she said softly. “And Lord Baelish comes now because he wants to proclaim for her?”

 

“Only a fool would do that now, Your Grace. But the man can not be trusted. He sees chaos as a ladder for him to climb to glory. His entire life has proven that.”

 

She raised an eyebrow at Varys. “Some would say the same of you.”

 

“They would, Your Grace. What would you say?”

 

She took a deep breath and relaxed the grip she had on herself. “I am glad to have you in my counsel, Lord Varys. But do not make me regret it. If you do, I’ll burn you alive.”

 

Varys gave her a nod and a small smile. “I would expect nothing less from the Mother of Dragons.”

 

She gave a slight nod and turned her gaze to Tyrion. “What can we expect tonight?”

 

He sniffed and gave a shrug. “A rather low key affair, I would imagine. The bodies are still being collected out on the field, and pyres prepared. The ten Dothraki you have requested will join us in the hall with the knowledge that death and fornication are not to take place within the keep.” She smiled just a bit. “Lord Snow has agreed that you will sit beside him at the head table, with his sister to his left and I will be to your right. Missandei, Grey Worm, and Varys rounding out your side.”

 

“And who else will be on his side?” Other than his Wilding friend, Jon seemed very much a lone wolf.

 

“Ser Davos Seaworth," Tyrion replied. "He was Hand to Stannis Baratheon. I don’t yet have word how he managed to come into the service of Jon Snow. Then there's Tormund Giantsbane, whom I believe you’ve been introduced.”

 

She nodded, remembering the large, exuberant man lifting her off her feet. He was a hard man to forget. His friend even harder. Her thoughts drifted to Jon Snow and his dark stare. She had wanted to squirm beneath his deep gaze, and thinking of it now, she still felt the same.

 

“And last, but probably the most interesting of all," Tyrion went on, pulling her from her musing. "the Lady Melisandre. A Red Priestess from Asshai.”

 

That certainly caught her attention. “ A Red Priestess , this far North?” she questioned.

 

“She, too, was with Stannis Baratheon,” Varys replied. “The Wildlings are calling her a witch.”

 

“Is she?”

 

Tyrion shook his head. “Best not to poke at that hive, Your Grace. Whatever power the red priests and priestesses have isn’t to be taken lightly.”

 

Daenerys stood and paced slowly at the edge of the table, hands clasped before her. “Let’s assume that these are the same people who will attend our meeting tomorrow. Anticipate what it is they will want.”

 

Varys looked at her with concern. “Word is already being spread that Lady Sansa will ask for independence for the North.”

 

“Based on what?” Missandei questioned with a deep frown. “What has the North offered to the queen? She came to their aid. At least with Yara Greyjoy, she brought a fleet of ships.”

 

“I said she would ask," Varys replied quickly. "I didn’t say her request should even be entertained. This kingdom has been in turmoil ever since the Lannister’s took Eddard Stark into custody. She’s probably doing it for a host of reasons that none of us will understand.”

 

“I understand,” Daenerys countered. “She’s been held beneath someone’s thumb since the day she was born. Always told what to do, say, think, and feel. She’s freed herself from that and will now seek to free the North from it.” She looked at Tyrion who stared at her with interest. “How viable is it for the North to be independent?”

 

He pursed his lips and shook his head, fingers tapping on the table top. “Not a smart move for them, actually. They’re dependent on the rest of the country to give them the supplies they lack. Their climate is too cold to make most homesteads truly prosper. Livestock doesn’t fare well, either. No real mines to speak of, forestry is difficult during the winter years. The only city that truly thrives is White Harbor and that’s because they’re a port.”

 

“So, if they were independent, the people would suffer?”

 

He nodded solemnly. “Yes, Your Grace.”

 

She took a deep breath and frowned. “Do you think Jon Snow would listen to reason?”

 

Tyrion scratched at his beard, his eyebrows disappearing beneath his mop of messy curls. “Perhaps. It's been years, but I did travel with him to the Wall. He seemed to be a sensible, if simple, boy.”

 

“Jon Snow is no longer a boy.”

 

Far from it.

 

“No, he is not, Your Grace,” Tyrion replied. “Boys do not become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. He stayed in Castle Black when his family was all but wiped out. I think it’s safe to assume that he left when Sansa arrived.”

 

She thought about that for a few moments and looked at Varys. “Find out for sure why he left and essentially broke his vows.”

 

“Yes, Your Grace.”

 

“Anything else?”

 

A chorus of ‘no’ sounded around the table. “Very well. All of you get some rest before tonight,” she dismissed them. “Missandei, stay for a moment please.”

 

She nodded and Daenerys closed the door behind the men before she took the chair beside her friend. “Keep Grey Worm close. Northmen have a certain reputation.”

 

Missy gave a small nod. “You should keep your guards with you, as well.”

 

“I will. No more walking around the keep alone. Would you mind tending to my braids?”

 

Her friend gave her a knowing smile as shook her head. “Not at all, Your Grace.”

 

*~*

 

There had been no less than five toasts to her honor. Tormund toasted three of those and each time she couldn’t help but smile wider. He was fully in his cups, in a jovial spirit and much of his drink had been spilled onto a humored, but disgruntled Jon Snow. After the final time, he barked out a laugh and ordered Tormund’s drink be taken from him. But the Wilding had snatched it away before moving to stand between Jon and herself.

 

“To the Dragon Queen!" he hollered. "Without her, we would surely all be dead.”

 

She took up her goblet and stood, unable to contain her smile. “To the people of the North, the Free Folk, and the men and women of the Seven Kingdoms who fought to overthrow a tyrant. May they all live long and prosperous lives,” she said as she raised her goblet and the rest did the same.

 

She took her sip of wine and moved to sit again, but Tormund grasped her by the elbow, halting her. “Dragon Queen, please partake in the best drink the North has to offer," he asked as he held a horn out to her.

 

She could see Jon standing behind him, his pretty face snarled while he mimed to only take a little. She took the offered drink and brought it up to her mouth, immediately regretting it, the rancid sting burning her nose and eyes. She caught Jon Snow's smirk and remembered she'd once eaten a horse heart, whole, and still warm. If she could do that, she could drink some foul smelling liquid. She did as Jon suggested and it was just as horrible as she suspected, though she kept her face stoic, managing to swallow the biting drink. When she finished, Tormund cheered, as did the others in the room.

 

“TO THE DRAGON QUEEN! SHE IS LITTLE, BUT SHE IS FIERCE!”

 

He walked away after giving her a hearty pat on the shoulder that nearly had her falling onto the table.

 

Jon was smiling at her as they resumed their seats. "Well done, Your Grace," he told her and she wanted to preen under the praise like some silly maiden.

 

She contained herself, though barely. “I've had worse, trust me." She looked out over the crowd before them. Tormund was still going on about her, nodding her way while whispering to another of the Free Folk, his bright smile still in place. She glanced over at Jon. "You must tell me, my Lord, how it is that a man of the Night’s Watch made friends with the Wildlings?”

 

Her host shifted in his seat, the wood protesting. “That is a very long and… complicated story, Your Grace.”

 

“I’m sure it is.”

 

He turned away from her and she took in his profile, lovely thing that it was. Soft, yet the perfection of chiseled stone only an artist could bring forth. She'd noticed his scars earlier, frustratingly fetching on his handsome face. Especially the one that traced from above his brow and down onto his cheek. Was it from a blade? A woman’s nails perhaps? Was he as she'd suspected of other Northmen? Brutal, savage, taking unwilling lovers into his bed. The sad, faraway look in his eyes told her no, that wasn’t true of him. His respect and manners told the same.

 

He turned back to her then, his cheeks tinged pink, from drink, from her company, she wasn't sure, she hoped the latter. “What about you, Your Grace? How did you hatch three dragons?”

 

*~*

 

The corners of her pretty mouth tugged into a demure smile as she lifted her goblet and sipped her wine. He found himself jealous of the vessel and the warm drink within it. The want to take that mouth with his own, to suckle and bite at those full lips, delve his tongue between them, to taste her. It was such a heady urge his leathers were growing tight at just the thought. He was treading a dangerously thin line with her.

 

Every moment he spent in her presence proved her more intoxicating.

 

He knew Tormund’s milk was the most disgusting thing he’d ever tasted. Yet, she had drunk it down with decorum, staying calm and cool, making his Wildling friend love her more. All afternoon he’d had to deal with Tormund asking him questions about the Dragon Queen and where she came from. Where did she get dragons? Did he realize they had the answer to all their problems with the Night King and the dead now housed within his keep? Yes. He knew that. But it was difficult enough to believe that she had come to help them with nothing but a note from his sister to her Hand. It was another story, entirely, that she would agree to help them with the threat to the North.

 

But he could hope. If for no other reason than to continue to look at her. He turned away having realized he was staring. But his eyes were drawn right back to her when she spoke again, quickly getting lost in the sound of her voice. “I was married off to a Dothraki warlord when I younger." Sold off, if he remembered Sam's telling right. "As a wedding gift, I was given three petrified dragon eggs. Drogon, the biggest and the one I ride, was named after my late husband. His egg was black and red. Rhaegal, I named for my brother, Rhaegar. He’s the green dragon. And the last, Viserion, I named for my other brother, Viserys.”

 

“The brother who sold you?” he questioned.

 

She turned to him sharply, her blue gaze piercing, pinning him down. It sent a jolt of trepidation through him, mixed with a heady dose of arousal. It was all he could do to not shift beneath it. "Just how do you know that?" she asked, her voice taking on the steel edge it had held earlier in the day.

 

He swallowed, not daring to take his eyes from hers. "Your uncle Aemon," he offered gently, somehow knowing his words would shake her.

 

His instincts had been correct. All the fire left her eyes, nearly left her entirely. She seemed to shrink in front of him, almost as if time had suddenly grasped her and pulled her back to a much younger, less assured version of herself. Someone very much alone. The sight made his chest ache. Then a faint tremble ran through her, and just like that, the Queen was once more at his side– chin raised, shoulders back, spine stiff. Though her eyes still carried a vulnerability he wished to soothe away.

 

He turned toward her more fully, almost reaching out a hand in comfort, but deciding he best not. Not yet. "He was our Maester at the Wall. In his nineties, and blind," he explained carefully. "He knew about you, sought out all the news of you he could find. Would have my friend Sam read the ravens to him. He wanted to know you, he cared very much, he just couldn't come to you," he finished in a whisper as a single silver tear slipped down her cheek.

 

He reached up and dared to brush it away with a knuckle, pulling away and sitting back in his chair once he realized what he'd done. She swiped at her face with delicate fingers, lashes sweeping over her flushed skin as she squirmed in her seat.

 

He didn't like to see her so out of sorts. "I'm sorry, Your Grace," he murmured. And he was, for Aemon, for causing her pain, for stirring up longings he knew too well.

 

She shook her head. "No, don't be," she said softly. "I… Thank you, for telling me."

 

He nodded and gave her the gentlest smile he could. "Ask me about him anytime, I'll tell you all I can."

 

"I will," she promised and took a hearty drink of her wine before she managed to pull herself together into the queen she was.

 

"We got off subject," he said, hoping to steer them back to more stable ground. "You were telling me about your children."

 

Her eyes shot to him again, her pretty head tilted as they stared at him, soft, yet somehow full of heat. She swallowed thickly and licked her lips before turning her eyes back to the merriment in front of them. “Viserys was weak and a coward. Mad at the end. But Viserion is strong and powerful. Brave. Everything Viserys was not. He will carry on the name better than my brother could.”

 

“How did you hatch them if they were petrified?” he asked, hoping it was a safe question.

 

“My husband and my son both died because of a witch’s curse,” she said as she stared into her wine and he regretted asking and bringing up something so painful. He went to tell her it was unnecessary to finish her tale, but she continued on. “I had the eggs put onto the pyre and I walked into the fire.”

 

Did she say she walked into the fire ? Jon didn’t know if this was simply an embellishment, the truth, or if he'd had more wine than he'd thought. He pushed his goblet away just in case.

 

“In the morning, when the fire died, what remained of my Khalasar woke to find me in the middle of the ashes with three baby dragons clinging to me. They were no bigger than cats at that time. Drogon would sit on my shoulder. Viserion would sing me songs and Rhaegal liked cuddles.”

 

He shook his head, amazed by her story, by her . “That is quite a tale, and it’s hard to imagine those dragons were ever so small.”

 

“It’s hard to imagine I was ever so small,” she said with a bit of a laugh. “Small, on the run, afraid for my life as I grew older. We were always hunted.”

 

“Hunted? By Robert?"

 

She nodded. “Yes, the usurper. Varys was his spymaster. He knows everything.”

 

He glanced over her shoulder at the Spider as he spoke with Tyrion, the two whispering to one another. “How did he come to be in your employ? Trusting him must be a difficult thing."

 

"He knows I'll burn him alive if he betrays me," she said simply. “He helped Tyrion escape the capital after he killed his father. They were on their way to meet me when Ser Jorah Mormont captured Tyrion as a gift to me, a hope at reconciliation."

 

His brow furrowed. "Wait? Mormont?"

 

"You know him?" she asked, surprise lighting her eyes.

 

Jon shook his head. "Him, no. But his father was my Lord Commander. One of the best men I ever knew. The sword I carry was a gift from him, for saving his life. One of our own cut him down."

 

Same as me.

 

"I'm sorry to hear that. Ser Jorah and I have… Let us just say he has taught me many lessons." He wasn't sure what to make of that and she didn't give him time to ponder. "As for Varys, he arrived when I was already in the Dothraki sea, so he came back to Westeros and secured two very powerful allies for me.”

 

That was interesting. He had assumed obtaining the North was her first goal. “Which allies if you don't mind me asking?”

 

“Dorne and Highgarden. Yara Greyjoy, who came to me herself, is ferrying the Dornish women North while Olenna Tyrell is traveling over the road. They should be here in a fortnight.”

 

He blinked at her for a moment, simply awed. She was probably the most powerful leader he'd ever met, ever known really. A queen in Essos and apparently most of the Seven Kingdoms already, and she had come to help them. He already knew Sansa would argue the North should be granted their independence, but how could she when this woman had brought her forces to save their lives and their home?

 

“You had no doubt you would win the battle,” he said, marveling at her strength, courage, and certainty.

 

“None at all," she said with a shake of her head. “I have over a hundred thousand men and three dragons. And if Ramsay had been foolish enough to give me a fight and tried to make us siege the keep, I would've landed Drogon inside the walls and burnt alive any man that was moving.”

 

Jon knew she would've and part of him wished it had come to that just so he could've seen it. He was more than eager to see her astride that enormous dragon once more, destroying their enemies, burning them to ash. Knew it would make him hard as stone. He scolded himself, such thoughts and feelings weren't meant to be had around polite company.

 

He could almost see Catelyn Stark's ice cold eyes staring him down, disgusted at the sight of him in her children's rightful place.

 

He glanced over his shoulder at Sansa’s empty seat, irritated at her rudeness for not showing herself, yet grateful she wasn't there just the same. They would have to have a talk, and soon, but it would not be pleasant. “I hate we lost all we did. Rickon might've been a death we could've avoided.”

 

His baby brother's fear-filled eyes would haunt him for the rest of his days, just as Catelyn's did.

 

Daenerys reached over and placed a dainty hand over his arm, giving it a slight squeeze. He felt the touch sear his every limb. “I am truly sorry about your brother. I wasn’t close to mine and… it’s still hard sometimes.”

 

He nodded his thanks and her hand moved back to her lap. He wished she'd moved it to his.

 

Gods, what was wrong with him? He was losing his mind.

 

No woman had ever turned him into such an untamed beast. His restraint was all but gone, and he had no idea where it had fled to, nor did he care to go looking for it. It felt freeing, she freed him.

 

“I don’t know if it’s the wine," he started, picking his cup up and taking another swallow before cutting his eyes to hers. "Or because I feel…" How best to put it? " comfortable with you, but I’m going to be honest.”

 

She raised a dubious eyebrow. "Are you not always honest, Jon Snow?"

 

He smirked, twisting his head about, flustered. Sucking in a breath he met her eyes again. "I am true to my word, or I try to be," he said lowly.

 

She gave him a soft, encouraging smile so he continued on before he spilled the secret of how staying true got him killed. He'd never wanted to tell a soul, the shame was too great, but with her… It was all he could do to keep the confession behind his teeth. He blew out a heavy sigh and confessed to another. “I can’t get rid of the nagging feeling in my gut that my sister meant for me to die today, knew our brother would. She told me last night we needed more men, but never mentioned a word about you and your armies when I told her we would fight with what we had." He shifted in his seat, gave her his full attention. "What would you do?”

 

She straightened and took a deep breath. “Trust my instincts. If I felt I was being set up, I would trust that and look deeper. We feel things such as mistrust and betrayal for a reason. To teach us lessons. I’ve always learned more from failure than success. You won the battle, but what did you lose to win it? What could she have gained from those losses? Or your death if it had happened. Perhaps the reason it’s nagging you is that you already know the answers to those questions.”

 

He did, but gods , he didn't want to even think them. He sighed and rubbed at the tension growing in the back of his neck. “She’s my sister and has been through more than I could even fathom...” He had sworn to protect her, and he was a man of his word. She was family.

 

“Jon, don’t assume that because she’s a woman and has endured a great deal, that it makes her vulnerable and weak," she warned him, and he knew from the fire in her blue eyes she was speaking from experience. "When you place metal into a fire, it bends, is able to be molded. Made into blades so strong and sharp they can kill any man. What has shaped her? I’m not saying she did anything on purpose, quite the contrary because I don’t believe in judging innocent people until they're proven guilty. But, at the very least, you need to have a conversation with her.” She tilted her head, her eyes falling to her hand where her thumb was caressing the ring upon her finger. “And remember that sometimes, people under great stress do things they shouldn’t in order to make sure that the atrocities perpetrated against them never happen again.”

 

Another stitch to add to the tapestry that was Daenerys Targaryen forming within his mind. He had barely known her a day and could not think of another, man, nor woman, who compared.

 

He leaned back in his chair as he gazed at her, unable not to. He didn’t know what had possessed Sansa to send a letter asking for their help, how she even knew of her, but he was so grateful she had. They survived because of it, because of her. His throat felt thick as he tried to swallow down the abundant words he knew would come spilling out if he didn’t control himself. “Thank you, Your Grace,” he offered softly instead, a paltry sentiment for all she'd done, but heartfelt nonetheless.

 

She nodded, her responding smile, tender, a bit tattered around the edges. Her counsel had come with a price, but she had paid it for his sake. He would not forget.

 

He watched her as she took up her spoon, pushing around her stew. She was truly the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. But there was much more to Daenerys Targaryen than just her beauty. There was an intelligent, nimble mind behind it, a spine of steel, and a good heart.

 

She lifted her goblet back to her mouth and looked out at the crowd gathered, and her table of Dothraki all raised their horns to her in salute. She did the same, her smile proud and pure. She loved them. The Dothraki were known as being savage killers, even in Westeros. It was always feared they might one day get on ships and sail across the narrow sea. And they had, with their queen.

 

He sat forward, leaning his arms upon the table. “Your Grace, do you mind if I ask how you managed to acquire the Dothraki?”

 

She shook her head. “I don’t mind at all," she was quick to say. Her smile returned as she looked over at him. "If you’ll tell me how you managed to get the Wildlings to follow you.”

 

He smiled and gave a nod. “Of course.”

 

Her beautiful blue eyes twinkled with happiness, at least he thought that's what it was as she sat back and licked her plush lips. It did feel good to have someone to speak with about such things, someone who understood what it was like to be responsible for many.

 

“Very well," she started, "I was ruling Meereen, but both the slaves and the masters had rebelled against me. The masters, of course, wanted to keep their slaves and the slaves became angered when I executed one of their own after he disobeyed my order,” she said, all the light now gone from her eyes. “I had agreed to marry one of the masters, in hopes they would see it as me trying to work with them. Tyrion is often fond of reminding me that I can’t rule without the lords and ladies.”

 

She stared down into her wine and he took the opportunity to study her profile. The delicate line of her nose down to the perfectly puffed lips, her blue eyes that seemed to sparkle in the candlelight. Her hair was wrapped around the back of her head in intricate braids that looked like the most beautiful crown he’d ever seen. He felt it was a disservice to her to only focus on her beauty, but he was drawn to her, like a moth to a flame. She glanced up at him and he didn’t bother to look away.

 

“But they attacked us while we were watching a match in the fighting pits. We were trapped, moments from being killed no doubt. I called to Drogon and he flew in and rescued me. It was the first time I’d ever ridden him,” she said, her voice far off and distant. "It was exhilarating and terrifying all at once."

 

He chuffed. "I would imagine so."

 

“He flew us out to the grasslands away from Meereen. He refused to take me back, he was still angry with me.” Jon didn’t know what expression he had on his face, but she gave him a small smile and shook her head. “Don’t ask.” She took a deep breath and continued. “Some of the Dothraki found and captured me. They were going to Vaes Dothrak. Their current khal was a fool and didn’t possess the strength that the Dothraki needed. It is only strength they respect and follow.”

 

She leaned against the arm of the chair and closer to him, ensuring their conversation would stay between them he guessed. He shifted closer as well, so close the alluring scent of citrus and smoke invaded his senses and stirred his blood.

 

“They were determined I become part of the Dosh Khaleen," she told him, voice warm and smooth as heated cream.

 

He raised his eyebrows. "Who are they?" he asked softly.

 

"Widows of the Khals. They're never allowed to leave Vaes Dothrak. Ser Jorah and one of my commanders came to rescue me, but I knew we would never leave there alive. Not if we did it their way. I was taken before the Khals to decide my fate. My friends barred the door locking us in. The Khals mocked and threatened me, I told them they were not fit to rule, but I was." She shrugged her shoulders. "I pushed over the braziers and burned them all alive. I emerged unscathed to face the rest of the horde. They bent the knee to me then and there.”

 

He sat staring at her, looking for any sign, a burn, a mark that would prove her story true. He knew it was. She was sitting at the table with him while her Dothraki, dragons, and Unsullied all camped outside his home.

 

She sipped her wine again, then turned back to him. “Now you know my story, Jon Snow, tell me how a member of the Night’s Watch ended up with a Northern army and the Wildlings.”

 

He grabbed his goblet of wine and drained it down to the dregs. “That’s a rather complicated story, as I said.”

 

“All the good ones are,” she teased. Her cheeks were flushed pink, her lips turned up in a partial smile. Something in him wanted it to be all because of him, and not the amount of wine she'd had. “Come. Tell me.”

 

He had already decided to keep his death and resurrection to himself. It wasn’t something he even knew how to explain, and it was still too raw to put it into words anyway. He'd work around it as best he could.

 

“We had ranged beyond the Wall and I ended up captured by the Wildings. One of my brothers, another prisoner of theirs and a man known for killing them, called me a traitor as a ruse. We fought, one of us had to get on the inside. I defeated him in combat and the Wildlings took me in, thinking I had defected to their side."

 

"But you hadn't?" she asked softly.

 

Shaking his head, he kept his eyes downcast to his flexing fist. His knuckles were already black and blue, slightly swollen. "I lived with them. I climbed the Wall with them. I fell in love with a Wildling girl," he went on. "But eventually I was faced with killing an innocent man, and I couldn’t do it. They knew I was a traitor then. I fled back to Castle Black with three arrows stuck in me from the woman I loved. When they attacked us not long after, she was killed, died in my arms," he murmured, still able to see Ygritte's face, her blue eyes slowly closing.

 

He turned to Daenerys, took in her ethereal beauty once more, eager to see something else. "Tormund was captured."

 

That surprised her. "Tormund was your prisoner?"

 

He smirked, but it faded quickly. "Not mine really, but the Watch's. I hated it. It sent me back beyond the Wall to meet with Mance, their King, to get him to listen to reason, to save his people. Then Stannis Baratheon showed up and took him hostage. Mance refused to bend the knee so Stannis burned him alive because he and his Red Woman believed there was power in king’s blood.” He took a deep breath and slowly blew it out, the dark memories still weighing heavily on his heart. “I was elected Lord Commander after that. I knew things my brothers didn't, living with the Wildings as I had. I let them through the Wall to save them.”

 

“Save them from what? Each other?” she questioned.

 

He shook his head. “No, Your Grace. Something… much more sinister. But we can discuss that at a later time," he moved on quickly, ignoring her suspicious gaze. "I went beyond the Wall again, took Tormund with me to verify I was true to my word and we got as many as we could South, under the understanding that when the real fight came, they would stand beside us to fight. My men didn’t like it. I was labeled a traitor,” he stopped, his throat suddenly closing up, each of his scars burning as if freshly made. He could still feel the cold bite of steel driving deep.

 

He poured himself more wine and drank it down. Not enough he reached for his horn and the ale.

 

Daenerys' hand laid over his arm again, stopping him. "Are you alright?" she asked softly.

 

He blew out a rough breath and left the ale and horn where they were. "Aye, my apologies, Your Grace. Just memories."

 

"We can speak of other things?"

 

He shook his head. "No, I was nearly finished." He cleared his throat and set back in his chair, breathing deep. "Sansa showed up not long after. I had thought all of my family was dead. Seeing her… was like having a piece of them back. She'd been through so much, wanted it all to stop. Told me the only place the two of us would ever be safe was here, but we would have to take it back.” He looked around at the hall and all the men in it. "The Wildings agreed to help, some of the Northmen, and well… here we are.”

 

He turned back to her. Her face was soft, blue-green eyes holding so much within them he had to look away, uncomfortable.

 

“That’s quite a tale, Jon Snow. I feel though, you’re leaving some parts out,” she said carefully.

 

She was too shrewd, and he was in trouble. Deep, dark trouble he never dreamed he'd be in. He reached for his discarded horn and filled it with ale before he tilted his head at her, eyebrows raised. “You can’t expect me to divulge all of my secrets to you so quickly, Your Grace,” he murmured, all of his drinking giving him too much courage.

 

His bravery was rewarded, her lips slowly turning up into a smile, eyes flickering like blue flames. A rush of heat filled him, had his leathers tightening again. “I will let you remain a mystery… for now,” she purred, then looked past him, scanning the table for a moment before meeting his eyes again. “I was told you had a red priestess in your company.”

 

The brief moment of teasing tension vanished and Jon lowered his head, staring at the liquid swirling within his horn. “Aye, I did.”

 

“Did she perish in the battle?”

 

He shook his head. “No, Your Grace. I banished her. Just this afternoon.”

“May I ask why?”

 

He sat back in his seat again and leaned over toward her. “When Stannis was at Castle Black, he had his daughter with him, his wife, and his Hand, Ser Davos. The girl was like a daughter to Davos as well. Sweet girl, gentle and kind. When Stannis came to take back Winterfell, the red woman convinced him to sacrifice her to the fire god. Burned her alive in front of the army. Her parents condoned it,” he said softly.

 

Fire suddenly blazed within the Queen's eyes, her jaw clenched tight, full lips pressed into a hard line.

 

He nodded. "Aye, I felt the same when I heard. When Ser Davos did… he loved her like she was his own. And she was killed for naught, Stannis lost the battle anyway.” He shook his head as he looked up at a group of Wildings that had broken into raucous laughter as their men and the Dothraki competed in a drinking game. It was such a strange scene, men across the hall laughing as he told of the tragic death of Princess Shireen.

 

“During my time in Essos, I tried to do what I could to protect the children. They're innocent.” She bit at her bottom lip, pulling it through her teeth. “On our way to Meereen, they had crucified one hundred and sixty-two children on the road. A message to me.” She shook her head, pain clear in her eyes. “People use innocents to hurt others. I’ve always tried to spare the innocent.”

 

“That means you’re better than most,” he said as he sipped at his ale, his thoughts going to Rickon. He hadn’t even gotten to hold him again. He had been just a little boy when he’d left Winterfell, and now he was going to be in a crypt beside their father. Robb was gone. Arya, gone. Bran. The only family he had left was Sansa and he didn’t trust her.

 

He finished off his ale and placed the horn back on the table just as Tormund appeared in front of them again.

 

“You need more of this," he insisted, shaking a skin of Wilding ale in his face.

 

“No, I still need to be able to walk to my room,” Jon argued even as he watched Tormund tip his drink into his empty horn. He groaned. “Why don’t you ever listen to me?”

 

“Because you don’t know how to have a good time,” his friend scoffed. His bright blue eyes turned to Daenerys and he smiled. “What about you, Dragon Queen? Do you know how to celebrate?”

 

She held her goblet up to Tormund and clinked it off his horn. “I certainly do,” she said and downed the rest of her drink. The Wildling lifted an eyebrow at her as she reached for Jon’s horn and slowly drank down the ale inside it, then placed it back on the table.

 

“TO THE DRAGON QUEEN!” he called and the room toasted her again. Jon chuckled as Tormund walked away and back to Davos.

 

She leaned over to him. “Something else to drink, please ,” she whispered, her voice gone scratchy and thin. Smirking, he reached for the wine and filled her goblet. She sipped it and shook her head. “Thank you. It’s still not as bad as mare’s milk, though.”

 

His eyebrows shot up of their own volition. “That, I find difficult to believe.”

 

She grinned wickedly. “Qohno!” she called and one of her Dothraki stood. She urged him forward with his drink. As soon as he reached the table she held out Jon’s goblet and nodded for him to fill it. The room grew quieter, everyone seeming to be watching the exchange. Daenerys passed his goblet to him the moment it was filled. “Go ahead, Jon Snow. Keep in mind, they give this to their children,” she warned with a perfectly raised eyebrow.

 

He took it from her and realized it was almost filled to the top. He took a deep breath and looked up at the Dothraki warrior who watched him skeptically. Not to be made a fool of, he drank it down as quick as he could, unwilling to gag or show weakness in front of the queen or her blood rider. But she was right. It was worse. So much worse. It not only burned, but the acrid taste lingered in his mouth. He slammed the empty horn down, throat and belly on fire, eyes watering, but he didn't cough. The room cheered and Daenerys stood, holding her goblet high. “TO JON SNOW!”

 

“TO JON SNOW!” they called back.

 

Laughing, she sat in her seat again and drank her wine. Qohno was roped into tasting the ale by Tormund and he had to taste the mare’s milk. Jon realized that Tormund was so drunk at this point he probably didn’t taste anything because he requested more. Fishing him from wherever he fell asleep would be an interesting endeavor in the morning.

 

“I think I might retire,” Daenerys murmured close to his ear and just as he bit back the want to ask her to stay she leaned on the arm of her chair closing the distance between them. “But I’m afraid I don’t yet know my way around the keep. Would you care to escort me?” she asked, blue eyes boring into his.

 

He stared into them and wondered if she knew what it sounded like she was offering. But the fire that stared back at him let him know she knew exactly what she was doing. He took her wine goblet and drained it before he nodded. “It would be my honor, Your Grace.”

 

She gave him a sly smile and stood. He did the same and held his arm out to her. She took it and put a hand on Tyrion’s shoulder, silencing him as they left the hall. Jon's head was spinning, a long forgotten stirring rising up within him as they walked silently up the stairs and toward the royal quarters. There were guards in front of her door. Unsullied. She said something to them and they went to the end of the hall, leaving them in relative privacy. His blood began to throb in his ears.

 

Daenerys looked up at him, an inquisitive look upon her face. “Tell me, Jon Snow. This woman you loved, does she still linger in your heart?”

 

There was no point in covering up the truth. He was certain she would know all his secrets before long. “Sometimes, Your Grace.”

 

She gave him an understanding smile. “I do appreciate your honesty,” she said softly before her tongue slid across her full bottom lip. “And what would you say if I told you that I very much wanted you in my bed?”

 

He licked his own lips as they stopped outside her door, most of his blood rushing from his head and straight to his cock. He leaned against the door frame to steady himself. “I’d say ‘I think I passed out at the table and I'm dreamin’.”

 

Her laugh was as soft and sweet as summer. She leaned against the door with him, her hands running up his arms to his shoulders, leaving a trail of heat in their wake. Her eyes had turned dark, the deep blue of a velvet dusk. “And is it a dream you’d want to be real?” she whispered.

 

He nodded, unable to tear his gaze away from her lips. “Yes,” he husked. He leaned forward, tentative, wanting her to take the lead. She rose up, her lips grazing his, warm and soft, her sweet breath a whisper across his skin. He dared to run a hand around her waist to pull her closer.

 

“Your Grace?"

 

She didn’t pull back immediately. Jon turned his head and glared at their intruder. The Spider, silent and sneaking, as was his way.

 

He gave Jon an insolent smile. He held a scroll out for Daenerys. “We’ve received a raven from Lady Olenna, Your Grace."

 

Much to his disappointment, Daenerys pulled away from him and took the scroll from the Spider's hand. She read over it quickly and looked up at Varys in concern before her eyes met Jon’s. He knew what she would say before the words left her mouth. “Thank you for escorting me back to my room, Lord Snow. I will see you tomorrow morning for our meeting,” she dismissed him neatly, though her cheeks were still flushed.

 

Jon really wanted to bury Longclaw into the Spider’s smug face right then, but he gave her a respectful nod instead. “Of course. Sleep well, Your Grace.”

 

He turned on his heel and walked down the hall, fighting with himself not to look back. He lost and when he looked over his shoulder those blue eyes met his. He hoped the look in them was similar to the need running through him, that this was just a momentary setback and they would act on their attraction to one another soon. Only next time, he’d have a sober head, find a place they could not be found, and get her inside it as quickly as possible before barring the damn door.

Chapter Text

 

Pleasantly caving in
I come undone
And I realize you're mine

Indeed a fool am I
And I realize you're mine
Indeed a fool I am

Ah

Heaven smiles above me
What a gift her below
But no one knows

A gift that you give to me
No one knows

No One Knows
Queens of The Stoneage



She lay in bed staring over at the scroll rolled up on the table beside her, taunting her. She had sent for Tyrion, Grey Worm, and Missandei immediately after reading it. Let each of them take in the contents themselves. They had all left her quite sober not long after.

 

Though the Queen of Thorns had reached The Twins unscathed, she had arrived to find everyone, save the serving girls and Frey’s young bride, murdered. Poisoned, apparently. The blame laid with another woman they said. One who could wear a dead man's face. She had taken off Walder Frey's and turned to his wife, telling her… "When people ask what happened here, tell them Winter came for House Frey” .

 

The women were of course shaken. Olenna had left a small contingent of men at the keep to ensure their safety but had decided not to stay the night, continuing North after sending a stern warning ahead of her for the Dragon Queen.  

 

Daenerys buried her face in her hands, the tale tormenting her. How could someone be wearing another person’s face? Just the thought was ghastly. Magic was real, she knew that well, but never had she heard of that sort. The red priests had power she didn’t quite understand. Quaithe seemed to have the ability to read the future. Even the warlocks in the House of the Undying had power. But what did this new magic mean? What threat did it pose? Had Olenna passed the person responsible while on the ride North?

 

Winter came for House Frey.

 

Had the Starks done this? Who else would've used such a phrase if not them?

 

There were no answers to any of her questions, but the alarms they raised within her had been enough to call an end to whatever could've happened with Jon Snow then and there.

 

She had been so close to having what she wanted from the second she laid eyes on him. A feral wolf covered in the stains of battle. Blood and mud and gore. Black eyes burning, jaw tight, righteous, ruthless aggression being unleashed upon his enemy.

 

She rolled to her side with a groan, trying to block out his image, but he continued to come to the forefront, taunting and teasing her. She had seen men in battle before, but never had she been so stirred as she was at the sight of him. Surely there must be something wrong with her to find that sort of barbarism so evocative.

 

But it was more than that. Much more. His wary, heated stares prickling at her senses as they walked about Winterfell. His courtesy and gratefulness. The willingness to put aside his own wants and needs after exhausting himself battling for his life, his people, and their home. Warm eyes and the lines that grew around them when he smiled– plump mouth turned up, pleasing and pretty. The boldness of accepting a challenge from his friend and even from her.

 

Everything about Jon Snow was drawing her in, as if he'd wrapped her in an invisible thread and was pulling her closer, inch by inch. Only knowing him mere hours and she had almost succumbed to him their first night. She couldn’t allow herself to fall so quickly. It was madness.

 

She had to step back, learn more about him, and bloody well find out if she could trust him or not. Once he proved honorable she would make him work for it. He needed to chase her, put forth the effort one should apply for a queen. She was worth fighting for, damn it all. She had saved their lives, their home, if nothing else.

 

But what would she do until then? Tease him mercilessly, of course, as only a queen could. But how would she quench her own thirst for him? It was already a pulsing need within her, growing stronger with every moment she spent with him, and those she didn't.

 

She shook her head, nearly disgusted with herself. Putting him out of her mind, she closed her eyes and allowed the heavy pull of too much drink to whisk her away to sleep. Only to have a most decadent dream of Jon Snow spreading her out over a table and applying all his energy into her pleasure.

 

*~*

 

His head was pounding, his entire body aching really, as he made his way into his father’s solar the following morning. Sansa was already there, a platter of food sat out on the table. The odor wafting from it turned his stomach dangerously. The mare's milk was still torturing him. He couldn’t get the taste out of his mouth no matter how he tried. Easing himself into one of the chairs, he reached for a piece of bread and chewed it, hoping it would help.

 

“Did she bed you already?” his sister quipped from the hearth, tone laced with repulsion, not even bothering to turn around and face him.

 

He groaned, the sound of her voice too loud for so early and while his head still felt as if Tormund was splitting it apart with his ax. “Not that it’s any of your business, but no,” he replied quietly, reaching for a goblet and pouring water into it. He just wanted the pain to stop. “Where were you last night?”

 

“Watching Ramsay die,” she said, her back still to him.

 

He looked down at the water and scowled. It was not going to be strong enough for the day. “I take it his death was painful?”

 

“I fed him to his hounds.”

 

His eyebrows rose of their own accord and even that hurt. He scowled again, rubbing at the pain between his eyes. He had to admit he was impressed. As deaths went, that was a pretty horrible one. He slowly turned his head and looked over at her. “Feel better?”

 

He knew she probably didn't, or if she'd found any satisfaction in it at all it was sure to have been short-lived. Hanging Thorne and Olly and the others had done nothing but add to his torment in the end. Olly's face would forever haunt him.

 

“Only when I remember how he screamed,” she answered.

 

He swallowed the sour lump in his throat, hating everything to do with all the drinking he’d done the night before. “Is that why you didn’t join us?”

 

“I wasn’t in the mood to be around other people.”

 

On the one hand, he understood, but… “Other people, or the queen?" he challenged. "The queen you asked to help us behind my back.” It was too early, and he was too miserable to be picking fights, but there he was doing it anyway. He sipped at the water and finally stood, his body protesting and the pulsing throb filling his head leaving him swaying. The moment it eased he went for the wine and filled another goblet, taking several deep swallows. The horrid taste finally left his mouth. Thank the gods.

 

Sansa shifted behind him. “I did what I had to do in order to secure the North for us.”

 

“Splendid job," he quipped, no tolerance to be found in his condition. "Two large armies, three bloody dragons." He kissed his teeth. "I must say, while I was being crushed to death by my men, I was wishing for another army to come help us.”

 

She turned to look at him, icy eyes narrowed. “Say what you mean, Jon. You’ve never been someone who minces words.”

 

He downed the rest of his wine before he spun on her, slamming the empty goblet down with a sharp crack. The stab of pain that pierced his temples at the sound spurred his enmity to a new level. “You kept information from me. Vital, information," he seethed. "Even when you received their raven the day before, after telling me we needed more men. You knew they were coming and you didn’t tell me. Why?”

 

She shook her head, her mouth working, gaping. “I didn’t know what their help would look like,” she finally offered.

 

Oh? But you knew they had armies and fucking dragons?” Did she think he was that much of a fool?

 

“We won!" she shrieked, hands flying out, fingers clawed. "What do you want me to say? I’m sorry? "

 

His blood surged, waves of rage and grief intermingled and oppressive. He had to turn away, stalk across the room, fists clenching as he worked to push it all back down. It used to be so easy, to hide it all, a few breaths turning the key in the lock. But not now, not since they'd brought him back. He was different, more, or less… He didn't know. And it didn't matter, he was what he was.

 

Keeping his distance, he turned on his heel and faced her once more. “A little remorse for leaving me in the dark would be nice,” he said, words low and clipped. She dared to roll her eyes at him. His own narrowed as he stepped forward, a finger stabbing at his chest. “I’m your brother and you let me walk into a fight we knew I couldn’t win when you knew a bigger army was coming. I want to know why, Sansa," he demanded.

 

She crossed her arms over her waist and let her eyes sweep across the room, avoiding his. “I didn’t want you to alter your plans. If you had, Ramsay might still be alive. He might have figured something out to kill everyone, or how to get away. And if he got away…"

 

He shifted back, staring at her– her wringing hands, the hard set of her mouth. “Did I underestimate how afraid you were? Or how ruthless?”

 

She slowly turned her head and met his gaze. There was no remorse in the cold blue depths. “Perhaps both,” she said, stepping toward him. “I’m sorry I didn’t trust you enough to tell you. That was wrong of me. But however we accomplished it, I don't regret it. I don’t. And nothing you will ever say will make me. He's dead."

 

“So the needs, the lives , of many were trumped by the needs of the one?” he questioned, unable to control his hateful glare. “You used Rickon, our baby brother, to get me to round up an army. All while knowing he was going to die, yet you didn’t do anything to tell me that before we marched on Winterfell. ‘Get our brother back’. ‘Our baby brother is alive, Jon’, " he jeered, stepping closer again, shaking his head, not wanting to believe any of it despite his heart crying true. "You've been manipulating me since you found me at Castle Black."

 

She was shaking her head again as she turned away, going back to the hearth, staring into the fire. “I hate what happened to Rickon, but I told you, Ramsay would have never let him live," she threw over her shoulder.

 

“You didn't tell me that until the night before!" he snapped. "If I'd known we’d had a larger army, I could've bargained for his release. He could be alive and home with us, right now!"


“There was no bargain you could have made," she retorted.

 

“A hundred thousand men and three fucking dragons would make any man reconsider!”

 

She spun on him again. “He wasn’t a man, he was a monster!" she shouted, then caught herself. She straightened, eyes closed as she took a deep breath. "That’s what you don’t realize," she said softly. “I hate we lost Rickon, but he was dead the second he was turned over to Ramsay. I’m sorry if you blame me for that, but it’s the truth.” They both went silent, his head swarming with bitterness, leaving him momentarily mute. She looked away from him and down at her folded hands. “What is your plan for this meeting with the queen?” she asked before he could question her further.

 

He huffed harshly. “I’m sure you’ve already concocted one.”

 

Her chin rose, eyes cold. So much like her mother. “I have. I’m going to ask her for our independence and offer up the Eyrie to her side.”

 

“The Eyrie?” he scoffed.

 

She gave a curt nod. “Yes. Littlefinger is commanding their forces...”


Littlefinger? " He narrowed his eyes at her, incredulous. "You’re going to trust the man that sold you to the Boltons in the first place? Sansa...” He shook his head, his ire drowned in disbelief. She was smarter than that, she had to be. “She’ll never grant it. She has no reason to,” he said, stating what he hoped was obvious.

 

She looked up at him, shrugged slightly. “Convince her.”

 

He walked to the table and braced his hands on the back a chair and hung his head. He was so fucking tired. “For someone who enjoys using people and manipulating them to their will, you’re lousy at it," he mumbled. He picked his weary head up and eyed her again. "There is nothing we can offer her that would ever get her to agree to our independence.”

 

Something flashed in her eyes that immediately had his hackles rising. “You," she countered. "We could offer her you.”

 

The chair creaked under his punishing grip. It was all he could do not to snatch it up and hurl it across the room. He shoved it into the table instead, startling her. “And what good am I?" he snarled. "Another expendable soldier for her army? That's all I was to you, isn't it?" he asked, but didn't give her a breath to answer. "I’m our father's bastard in case you've forgotten. Not his trueborn son. I couldn’t even rally the houses to our aid, houses that had been loyal to House Stark for hundreds of years,” he fumed, hands thrown out.

 

Sansa wasn't daunted by his outburst at all, she moved closer to him. “She’s already interested in you. Use that to our advantage,” she suggested mildly.

 

He looked on her in disgust. It truly didn't matter how he felt, she didn't care as long as it got her what she wanted. “Do you ever get tired of using people?” he sneered.

 

She clenched her teeth and hissed, rolling her eyes as she turned away again. “What does it matter, Jon? You'd get to be the consort of the Dragon Queen. What man wouldn't want that?"

 

Gods, she'd not been the sweetest girl when they were growing up, but he'd never would've thought.. .

 

“And you get to be what ?" he snapped, all his patience gone. "The Queen of the North? The North can’t survive without the other kingdoms, Sansa!" he ranted. "And I want you to listen to me, very carefully. She already has the Greyjoys, Dorne, and Highgarden backing her. If Littlefinger is smart, he goes around you and directly to her. Who do you have allied to you then? The North will fall and it will lay at your feet,” he warned with a snarl and a threatening finger aimed at her.

 

“Jon, the North has lived under tyrants for too long,” she argued.

 

“You believe her a tyrant? Yet you asked for her help!?" he barked. "So now that you got what you wanted you’re going to what? Fight her? There is nothing that can beat her armies or her dragons. You brought them here, Sansa. What did you think would happen? They would come and take back our home for us then piss off south?" he snarled, throwing another hand out. Anything to vent his wrath. "No! They won't. They'll expect us to fall in line. I understand that. Do you?”

 

“And do you understand the North will not bow to a southern ruler," she retorted, a haughty eyebrow raised.

 

He snatched his goblet up and filled it again. He was done with this nonsense. “They will bow or they will be brought to heel,” he muttered before draining his goblet and setting it none too gently on the table. “Come on. Time to treat with the queen and her counsel." He paused and turned back to her, a finger held up in warning. "Do not say a word about Northern independe—“

 

“Jon...”

 

“No," he snarled. "I’ve followed your instructions to politically maneuver around this country and we lost our brother because you weren’t honest with me about our assets. It’s time you stopped talking and listened to me for a fucking change.”

 

He was losing the tenuous grip he had on his temper, felt himself skating on the edge of rage. She had more nerve than was rational. He didn’t necessarily want to bend the knee, either, but he understood the debt that was owed. It was time Sansa did as well.

 

“If you go into our first meeting with them demanding she relinquish the North, at best she declares us traitors and throws us into the cells of our own home, at worse she kills one or both of us." He stepped closer, eyes narrowed. "We’ve lost enough. You'll keep quiet, watch and listen. Everyone has things they want. Hear them out before you condemn us both to death.” She nodded and he tilted his head. “I want to hear you say the words, sister.”

 

She stared at him, lips forming a tight line. “I promise I won’t say anything.”

 

“Good. I expect you to keep your word, you’ll regret it if you don't,” he said as he left the room, not caring if she followed.

 

She was being no more than a petty child. Part of him wanted to let it go, agree with her, but another part knew they were alive in their family’s keep because of Daenerys and her armies. It was a debt only loyalty would pay.

 

He entered the hall and found Tyrion and Varys speaking in hushed tones. Missandei, Grey Worm, and the Queen had not yet arrived.

 

“Ah, Jon Snow, Lady Sansa, would you care to join us for breakfast?” Tyrion greeted them jovially.

 

Jon shook his head and took a seat at the table, staring at the open chair across from him meant for the queen. Would she still look at him the same this morning? Sansa joined him on his left side, stiff and silent. Tormund and Davos entered a few minutes later, neither man looking very spry.

 

“What the fuck is in that Dothraki drink?” Tormund grunted as he plopped into a chair.

 

Tyrion smirked. “It’s not for everyone. I don’t particularly care for it myself. But it does help if you’re already drunk when you start drinking it.”

 

Jon, Tormund, and Davos all groaned.

 

The door at the far end of the hall opened and the queen walked in wearing her white coat, looking completely regal and unaffected from the previous night's celebration. Missandei and Grey Worm followed her in. She took the seat in front of Jon and several platters of food were set before them. She ignored it all and reached for a goblet. “I think I can say we all learned a valuable lesson.”

 

“What is that, You Grace?” Varys asked.

 

“Drink with the Dothraki  or the Wildlings. Not both,” she answered before sipping her wine. Jon smirked as she turned to face him. The barest of smiles flickered across her lips before disappearing behind her queenly mask. “There's news we must discuss," she said, tone firm and fixed. The raven she'd received last night no doubt. Jon had been too irritated at their interruption to put much thought into it, but now… It had a stirring of dread lighting in his gut.

 

"We received word from Lady Olenna Tyrell who is traveling North. Upon stopping at The Twins she found that all the men of House Frey had been killed." That sat him up in his seat. "Poisoned," the queen went on. "His wife, a young girl, was left with the words, ‘Winter came for House Frey.' and 'The North remembers.’ Any idea who that might be?”

 

Jon stared at her, simply stunned, as if she'd skewered him with a sword. No wonder she'd dismissed him the night before. He finally shook himself free of his shock and gave a shake of his head before turning to Sansa. He was relieved to see she actually seemed equally confused. She shook her head at him, eyes wide. He looked at the queen again. “No, Your Grace. Not that any of us will lament the loss of Walder Frey. Or any of them for that matter." He cleared his throat and sat forward in his chair. "Did the wife give any sort of description? I'd like to know who's throwing our words around. Taking care of our enemies without our knowledge, or approval," he added, wanting her assured he had nothing to do with it.

 

Daenerys nodded, something odd flashing across her face. Uncertainty , he thought. Caution at the very least. She licked her lips and met his gaze. "It was a woman," she said, surprising him. "Who wore Walder Frey's face."

 

He frowned, utterly confused. "I'm sorry, who did what? "

 

"I was quite unsettled myself," she admitted softly, her beautiful eyes staring into his. The room seemed to fall away around them, both ignoring the others, unable to look elsewhere. "The girl said the woman pulled his face off right in front of her just before saying those words. That she'd spoke in his voice before. It was Lord Frey and then it wasn't. Some magic I've never heard of."

 

Magic. That double-edged sword. He was alive because of it. The woman still holding his gaze was magic personified in his mind. Both of which he was increasingly grateful for. But magic also gave life to the dead, was wielded by the Night King.

 

He studied the queen's eyes, her face, searching for something he desperately wanted to find. Belief . He needed her to believe. She might be the only one who would. And if she did there might actually be some fucking hope to cling to. His search proved fruitful and he nearly melted with relief when saw it, in the tilt of her head, in the yearning within her own eyes as they sought answers from him. She needed him to believe as well.

 

Tyrion heaved a great sigh, breaking them free from their spell as he straightened in his seat. “We'll all need to look into that more it seems, but onto other things," he suggested. "We have a very unique situation here. When we take King’s Landing, we could do it with the majority of the country behind us." He gave Jon a pointed look. "You know why we rode to your aid. What we expect?”

 

Jon nodded and swallowed down the last bit of his nerves. “I understand you believe the fight in the South is the most important. And I understand why you believe it," he answered, turning his attention from Tyrion to the Queen, "but it’s not,” he told her softly. He caught Sansa's glare out of the corner of his eye. Davos sat back in his chair just as Tormund sat forward.

 

Tyrion frowned and gave a sniff. “Is there another enemy we’ve yet to discover?” he asked, almost flippant.

 

“Aye," Jon said, purpose filling him. "The great enemy. The only one that matters. The Army of the Dead." He locked eyes with Daenerys, willing away the crease that had formed between her brows at his words. “You asked me why I let the Free Folk beyond the Wall. That's why. They were facing extermination by the real enemy."

 

Tyrion raised an eyebrow. “The Army of the Dead?”

 

Jon heard the heavy doubt in his words, knew it was a rational reaction for anyone that didn't know. It still set his teeth on edge. He scowled at him. “They’re real. I’ve fought them," he said, insistent. "They don’t sleep. They don’t eat. They destroy everything in their path.”

 

"The war with my sister has already begun," Tyrion argued, frustration now evident in his tone. "You can't expect us to halt our hostilities and join you in fighting whatever it was you saw beyond the Wall."  

 

The pain that had plagued his head all morning, thumped in Jon's temples two-fold. He cut the Dwarf a dark glare. “You don’t know me well, my Lord, but do I think I'm a liar or a mad man?”

 

“No,” he was quick to answer. "I don't believe you're either of those things," he said, kinder.

 

Tormund's chair scraped back as he leaned across the table, eyeing Tyrion. "He's tellin' the truth. He's fought them and so have I, and every one of the Free Folk outside those walls too,” he added.

 

Daenerys shifted in her seat, catching Jon's eye. Her head was tilted, but the crease had disappeared from her brow as she looked between him and Tormund. He couldn’t tell if she believed them or not.

 

Tyrion cleared his throat. “Our allies are already on the way to your keep to discuss the strategy to defeat Cersei.”

 

Jon nodded. “I understand that. And believe me, I'd much rather go up against Cersei, whose motivations we know. It would be easier. But everyone, all of Westeros, will die if we don't stop them. There will be no kingdoms to rule. It'll be nothing but a graveyard," he said lowly, his gaze firmly on Daenerys.

 

She stared back, swallowed and licked at her lips. "How do we stop them?" she asked.

 

His heart kicked behind his ribs, a rush of air leaving him. He drew in more to steady himself. "They can only be killed by dragonglass, Valyrian steel, or fire.”

 

Tyrion made a derisive noise in the back of his throat. “I see. We just so happened to have brought three fire breathing dragons into your country." He tilted his head, eyes narrowed and dancing with false mirth. "I suppose your idea is to use them to defeat this army of dead men?”

 

Jon's fists clenched. He knocked one against the tabletop, ignoring the sharp sting it caused in his bruised knuckles. "You know I had nothing to do with bringing you here if you're trying to imply I am playing some sort of trick…"

 

Tormund stood then and faced them all. Tyrion shrank back in his seat as his Wildling friend turned his blue eyes on the queen. She held her head high giving him her full attention. “The army is real,” he said softly. “Jon Snow took me to Hardhome to get my people to agree to follow him south of the Wall. When we were loading the children and elderly into the boats, the army attacked. I had to watch all of my kinsmen die, then watch as they were raised from the dead to join his army." Tormund's voice had dropped, gone rough and strangled. Jon could see the tears brimming in his eyes. “Men, women, and children. It seems to me, Dragon Queen, you might be the only hope this world has.”

 

She didn’t say anything at first, but Jon wasn’t expecting the words she did say, “How many?”

 

“There was probably eight thousand Free Folk at Hardhome," Tormund answered. "But his army is far bigger than that." He raised his eyebrows and nodded at her. "As big as yours."

 

Though her skin was already as pale as cream, she went paler, her eyes coming back to Jon, questioning. He gave her slow, solemn nod. She looked over the members of her counsel then turned back to him. “Allow me to speak with my counsel and meet with my allies when they arrive. They followed me here because I agreed to deliver vengeance to them for their families. Asking them to fight this war might be beyond expectation.”

 

“This is a fight that will come for them if we don’t wage it first,” Jon cautioned her.

 

She nodded stiffly. “I will speak to my counsel," she said and stood from the table. Everyone else rose as well, her counsel following her out of the hall.

 

Once the doors closed behind them Tormund turned to him. “Do you think she believed us?”

 

“I don’t know, but we gave it a shot,” he said softly. He sank back into his chair and let his head fall into his hand, fingers and thumb rubbing at the ache in his temples. “Seven hells, I need this headache to go away.”

 

“Don't drink any wine, it makes it worse,” Tormund muttered as he leaned against the table.

 

“Wonderful.”

 

*~*

 

Daenerys stared out the small window of her solar, watching Jon Snow speak with some of his men in the courtyard, Tormund and Davos among them. Could she have been wrong about the type of man he was? Could she have read everything wrong? She didn’t think she had, but talking of armies of dead men had thrown her off.

 

More magic . It seemed to be everywhere she turned. It was hard to fathom such a thing as an army of dead men could exist, but then Viserion flew overhead, past her window, throwing a sweeping shadow over Jon and his men and she knew if her sons existed, walking dead men just might be a possibility, too.

 

“I don’t think you will be able to convince Lady Olenna  or Ellaria Sand that an army of the dead exists and expect them to back you. Not when they were promised fire and blood, and Cersei's head,” Varys offered.

 

She tore her eyes away from Jon and back to her counsel, arms crossed beneath her breasts. “What do we know of this? I have a hard time believing the Free Folk would throw their lot in with Jon Snow if this wasn’t true.”

 

“Your Grace," Varys cut in, "the Wildlings have been trying to get South of the wall for hundreds of years...”

 

“But why?” she asked, moving to stand at the end of the table. “They’re a people used to that harsh climate. Have lived there for who knows how long. What would make them try to abandon their home?” She heaved a sigh, her frustration mounting. “If it was just Jon Snow saying it, I might doubt it more as political maneuvering. But I don’t see why the Free Folk would lie.” She looked at Varys. “Have your little birds see what they can discover about Hardhome and this army.”

 

He gave a nod and pulled a scroll from his sleeve. “This is useful information, Your Grace. From Littlefinger himself, requesting an audience with you when he arrives.”

 

“He has control of the Eyrie because he married Lyssa Arryn, then he killed her,” Tyrion explained. “Sansa claimed it was to protect her.”

 

She eyed Varys. “And what do you think?”

 

“Littlefinger doesn’t do anything without a purpose. He’s had his eye on Sansa since she was but a girl. It wouldn’t surprise me if he wasn’t coming here to swear fealty to you while plotting your downfall. Possibly with her.”

 

She let her arms drop and braced her hands on the table. “And what of Sansa? She was quiet during the meeting.”

 

“But watching everything, Your Grace," Varys replied. "She is a student of both Cersei and Littlefinger. I don’t believe she can be trusted."

 

Tyrion rolled his eyes. “I was married to her.”

 

“And how did that go?” Varys questioned, cutting him a disparaging look.

 

“Terribly, however , Sansa isn’t evil. But she has been used by people who are. Perhaps she's jaded by that, but let’s hope she can keep an open mind and realize that she asked for our help.” Her Hand took a deep breath. “I could try to speak to her.”

 

Daenerys nodded. “Do it. Gauge how happy she is with our presence.”

 

“What about Jon Snow?” Missandei asked.

 

She looked at each of them in turn, only Missandei's gaze was impartial. “I’ll handle Jon Snow.” Tyrion frowned and made no attempt to hide it. She raised an eyebrow at him. “You disapprove?”

 

He shook his head a fraction, his mouth turned down. “I think you want to avoid the illusion you’ve seduced him to your side.”

 

She nearly snorted. “Believe me, Lord Tyrion, if I seduce him, it won’t be for political reasons. What I meant was… let me speak to him one leader to another. See what it is he wants from me , politically ,” she clarified.

 

Tyrion nodded. “Alright. I’ll speak with Sansa, Varys will see to his little birds, and you’ll handle Jon Snow.”

 

She looked at Missandei. “You are above what I am about to ask of you. But the servants in this castle see and hear everything. Could you perhaps work your way in with them? You can refuse,” she told her.

 

Missandei shook her head. “I will do just as you ask. The walls have eyes and ears, after all.”

 

“They might be resistant to you.”

 

“People still talk, Your Grace, even if that’s not to me.”

 

“Very true. Grey Worm, stick close to her,” she ordered.

 

He gave her a nod and they all stood and left the room. She wandered back to the window and found Jon once more, sword in hand fighting against one of the Stark soldiers. He should have been tired after the battle the day before–he'd certainly looked it at the meeting–but watching him face off against the other man, fatigue didn’t seem to hinder him. Something else rose above that and urged him on.

 

Despite her misgivings, she wanted to know what it was.

 

She walked out of her door, one of the guards following her as she left the Keep and made her way down to the yard– a decision made about what she wanted to do with him once she got an eyeful of him practicing with his sword. She stepped out into the yard and watched as others took notice of her immediately, some lowering their heads in bows, others looking at her with distrust. The Free Folk stared at her as if she might be their salvation. She thought she had seen some of them look at Jon Snow the same way. She stood, patiently waiting until he was done. His sparring partner caught sight of her first and lowered his sword. Jon slowly turned, a fire in his eyes as they stared into hers.

 

No, if she seduced him it was because she wanted him more than she'd ever wanted any man .

 

Her tongue ran across her lips before she could stop it. She faked a cough to cover her misstep, a hand coming up to over her mouth. “Excuse me, Lord Snow, I thought I would go to see my dragons. I was hoping you would escort me,” she prompted after pulling back on her queenly armor.

 

Jon sheathed his sword and gave her a nod. She didn’t dignify any of the lascivious looks the men were giving them with a response. Only took his arm when he held it out to her.

 

There was a sheen of sweat across his forehead and his cheeks were flushed pink from the cold, or perhaps his exertions, she wasn't sure. Either way, it only added to his allure. But he was quiet, too quiet, as they walked out of the gates, his brow heavy over his deep brown eyes, his pretty mouth drawn down in a pout.

 

“Does something trouble you, my Lord?” she asked softly.

 

He heaved a great sigh, his shoulders falling under whatever weight bore on him. “Aye," he breathed. "I probably ruined any hope of you helping us by blurting out an answer without thinking it through.”

 

She admired his honesty and decided speaking the same would probably work to her advantage with him. “It might have. However , Tormund was rather compelling,” she replied as they walked through the camps and toward the field where her dragons lounged. “I haven’t decided what I think just yet, so you can relax about that part for now.”

 

His plush mouth pressed into a hard line and he shook his head. “You wouldn’t say that if you’d seen them and him.”

 

“Him?”

 

“The Night King," he said, the title ominous, in name, and in the weight his tone gave it. "He leads them.”

 

“His he dead as well?"

 

"No, he's different than us but whole and alive I believe, not decaying like most of his army."

 

"Most?"

 

"There's what we call white walkers. They looked to be made of ice and rock, their eyes glow blue. All their eyes do. He makes them all."

 

"Any idea what he wants?”

 

His brow pinched tight. “Does he have to want anything?”

 

She nodded. “I believe everyone wants something. Even if it’s for everyone to die.” They had drawn near the dragons, and Jon's steps hesitated. She squeezed his arm, looking up at him with a cheeky smile. “There's no need to be afraid unless you mean to harm me.”

 

"Course not," he murmured, eyeing her sons with caution and curiosity.

 

She released his arm and walked over to Drogon who practically purred beneath her caress. Viserion wrapped his tail around her and she smiled at him, rubbing her fingers beneath his chin. Rhaegal, not to be ignored, nudged her gently and she turned her head to lean against him, still scratching the other two.

 

“Mother of dragons,” Jon whispered, though she heard him as did her sons.

 

Rhaegal moved forward first, stretching his neck out, sniffing at him, then nudged him with his snout making Jon stumble before looking back at the other two.

 

“A proper introduction,” she chuckled softly as she moved to stand beside Jon. “This curious green boy is Rhaegal. The bronze, Viserion, and the black is Drogon. My children,” she said, unable to keep the affection from her voice.

 

"They're amazing things to see," Jon murmured, fascination clear in his open gaze.

 

“They are, and though they were calling to me, they're not the reason I asked you to come with me. There are eyes and ears everywhere in the keep and I wanted to speak to you privately.”

 

“How can I help you, Your Grace?” he was quick to offer, still eyeing her sons.

 

“We’ve received word Littlefinger is on his way here to declare for me. I need to know what you know about the man.”

 

He scowled, fiercely, his dark gaze focused on her in an instant. “He’s not to be trusted.”

 

“He’s commanding the Knights of the Vale.”

 

“I’d heard that," he said with a sigh. "Will he pledge to you?”

 

“Is there someone else he should pledge to?”

 

He shook his head. “No. But he’s also declared for other houses before and abandoned them when it suited him.”

 

She wasn't surprised to hear it. “Lucky for me I don’t need his army or his counsel. Have you ever met him?" He shook his head again. "But you're certain he can’t be trusted?”

 

He took a step forward, those lovely brown eyes blown black and burning. “He sold my sister to Roose and Ramsay Bolton," he told her, his voice as deep and dark as a roll of thunder in the distance. "I don’t trust anyone who sells other people, Your Grace.”

 

Her heart quivered behind her breast, a rush of air forcing its way into her lungs, setting her back on her heels. This man was so very dangerous to her heart, and her political aspirations. He seemed to know exactly what to say to gain her attention as if he had a book on her to guide him. She could tell when a man was purposely trying to seduce her. Jon wasn't. It was thrilling and terrifying in equal measure.

 

Rhaegal nudged him with his snout again and she watched in fascination as Jon slipped his glove off and tentatively reached his hand out to pet her son. She stepped forward and pressed against Rhaegal's side as Jon's face transformed into one of wonder. He was truly the most beautiful man she'd ever seen, but as she had mused earlier in the day, he was much more than that. The scene before her proved it once again.

 

“You’re one of the only men alive that’s touched a dragon and lived to tell the tale,” she said softly. “And I have to admit that it only adds to the list of things that intrigue me about you.”

 

He licked his plump lips and turned to face her, his onyx eyes full of so many things. Things that had her suppressing a shiver. “My sister believes you want me in your bed," he rasped.

 

She couldn't help the upward quirk of her lips. “Your sister is rather intelligent.”

 

He furrowed his brow, dropping his eyes from hers and shaking his head. “While I am honored… Truly, Your Grace. I don't understand." He raised his head again, the look upon his face causing her to physically ache. And not in a pleasant way. "I’m a bastard.”

 

She'd thought that might hold him back once he had a sober head about him, but she was more than ready to dissuade him from holding onto such a stigma about himself.

 

She stepped forward and placed a gentle hand on his arm, but kept her gaze resolute. “You’re a leader. A fighter. A good man if what the Free Folk say about you is true. And I believe them," she told him, sure and certain. "You care about your people, your family, when some would dare to say they aren't yours to care about." She shrugged. "Besides, I was born to the Mad King, you were born to Ned Stark. We’re here and they're not. You shouldn't have to suffer under the weight of something your father did. Just as I shouldn't. The sins of the father should not be reaped upon the child.”

 

He gave her a small smile and the sight of it filled her heart with something she had rarely ever felt, was even fearful to put a name to. “The more I hear from you, Your Grace, the more impressed I become.”

 

“That's good," she murmured, returning his gentle smile. "Because I can say the same about you.”

 

A speck of white appeared on one of the raven curls beneath his ear, she reached out and plucked it off and watched as it melted away on her gloved fingertip. A snowflake . She looked up at the sky above in awe, then out over her armies, seeing several of her people come from their tents, the entire camp growing quiet as they all took in the sight of their first snowfall. When she turned to Jon again he was giving her the softest smile. “What?” she breathed.

 

He shook his head, ducking away from his inquisitive stare and scratched at his beard with fretful fingers. “It’s… nothing.”

 

“No," she fussed gently, not to be denied. "Tell me what has you smiling like that.”

 

Shrugging beneath his cloak, he squinted up at the grey sky then finally back at her as he drew in a shallow breath. “If I was to ever conjure a goddess of winter… she would look like you.”

 

She smiled, couldn't have stopped it if she tried. “You don’t strike me as the type for flattery, Jon Snow."

 

His head twisted around, his bashfulness quite apparent. “I’m not, Your Grace.”

 

"Well, for someone who isn't, that was very well done." He had the gall to blush and endear her further. She honestly didn't know what she was going to do about him, but she had to make a decision, and soon, before she lost her wits. She needed to steer them back to other things. She took a deep breath. “Tell me, truly, Jon… since we're alone and away from everyone, the threat beyond the Wall? Is it real?”

 

“As real as you are standing here in front of me,” he rasped with a nod, and she could see the truth in his eyes, the furrow between them, the set of his jaw. She could also see how much he wished it wasn't true.

 

She heaved a sigh. “I know what my advisors will say. We can’t go flying off to a war against an enemy we don’t know in a place we don’t know.” She pulled her lips between her teeth and turned to Rhaegal who still seemed as curious about Jon Snow as she was. She rubbed his scaly cheek. “I’m not saying I believe you, yet,” she added as a caveat, “but, I certainly believe you more than I would have yesterday.”

 

Some of the weight Jon had been carrying seemed to lift from her, a relieved puff of air leaving him. “What changed?”

 

“Getting to know the man standing in front of me," she said simply. "I respect warriors, people who protect their people from would-be threats, and even those who offer what should be considered nonsense as fact. Someone who didn’t know I might believe in magic just a little,” she said as she looked at her three sons who all lifted their heads to meet her gaze.

 

Yes, she believed in magic.

 

She glanced at Jon. “Your sister asked for our help.”

 

“She did.”

 

“But she doesn’t want us here.” He released a harsh sigh. “It was rhetorical, no need to answer," she assured him. "But you could tell me what it is she does want.”

 

“Something she can’t have," he said, annoyance clear in his tone.

 

She frowned and gave a nod. “Northern independence." When he didn’t offer to correct her, she caught his eye. “What do you think?”

 

He shifted on his feet, staring at them for a moment before looking at her once more. “I think Torrehen Stark bent the knee to Aegon Targaryen, and my father honored the crown up until his death. I’m man enough to say that while I think it would be difficult for some to accept a southern ruler, it would be the same men who refused to answer our call for help when we went to take back Winterfell.”

 

“And what do you think should happen to those men?”

 

“The men who broke faith with House Stark, the Umbers and the Karstarks, are dead. Their children who inherited did not willingly follow them. I won't hold it against the family.”

 

She smiled. “A true man of your word. Who else refused the call?”

 

“Cerwyn, Manderly, and Glover. All larger houses. Though, Manderly did let you unload your force.”

 

She smirked as she turned and walked away from her dragons. Jon followed. “Not that he had a choice when my sons circled overhead and began eating the ravens out of the sky.” She paused and turned to him, a hand on his arm. “Have dinner with me tonight.”

 

He licked his lips and stared at her, a dark look in his eye. “What is your goal, Your Grace?”

 

“Tonight? Dinner, company, and if you suit me, so much more,” she offered softly.

 

He shook his head, a grin threatening to break across his brooding face. “I’d be a damn fool to refuse that offer, wouldn’t I?”

 

“You would, but you don’t strike me as a damn fool, Jon Snow,” she mused.

 

He blew out a breath and stepped closer. His stare sending heat to pool low in her belly. “What could I give you that could ever equal you giving us our home back? Things are far too uneven and I feel like you’re angling for something.”

 

She grinned. “I am, Lord Snow, only it has very little to do with politics,” she said as she looped her arm through his. “You never said yes to dinner.”

 

“I thought the way I've been stumbling over myself around you was a good enough indicator I’d be there.”

 

“Wonderful, I look forward to it," she told him.

 

"Aye, Your Grace. So do I."

 

*~*

 

He heaved a sigh as he sat listening to Davos speak of what provisions they had and how it was a good thing the queen had brought plenty for her armies. Sansa was still silent, listening, but also giving him the cold shoulder. He didn’t actually care. If she wanted to act like a petulant child who didn’t get her way, she could do it in silence instead of him having to listen to her whining at him.

 

“The queen said her allies were coming here to meet with her, correct?” Davos questioned and Jon nodded. “Will they be providing their own food? Is Winterfell expected to feast them?”

 

“I can ask,” he said softly, “but let’s plan on needing to throw a feast or two. We'll have Lady Olenna and however many are traveling with her. The Dornish…" He lifted a helpless hand off the table. "I don’t know how many will be in that group either.”

 

“What about the Greyjoys?”

 

“Are Yara and Theon coming?” Sansa asked suddenly, and he didn’t like the hope in her eyes. She might have forgiven Theon for all he'd done, but Jon had not. In fact, just thinking of Theon betraying Robb then running Bran and Rickon from their home… the fate that eventually befell his baby brother... All of it made his blood boil.

 

“I don’t know. But I have half a mind to tell the queen to keep Theon out of the keep.”

 

Sansa's mouth fell open then pinched tight along with her brow. “That’s not fair, Jon,” she argued.

 

Fair?" he barked . "Theon betrayed Robb. He caused Bran and Rickon to go on the run. They were just boys, Sansa. Rickon ended up in the hands of our enemy and was killed right in front of me. Gods know what happened to Bran." He shook his head, staring daggers at her. "Do not tell me what is fair and what isn’t.”

 

Her lovely face transformed into a sneer as she crossed her arms over her waist. “Yet the daughter of the man who killed our uncle and grandfather, the sister of the man who kidnapped our aunt, is allowed to stay?”

 

Jon turned on her, gripping the back of his chair hard enough to have it creak in protest. Davos shifted in his seat behind him. “Given that the queen wasn’t born when any of those events happened, nor did she perpetrate them, yes, she’s allowed to stay," he bit out. "I’ll not punish a child for the sins of their family. I hold the guilty party responsible. And Theon is guilty of many things."

 

She huffed in her seat but didn’t say anything else. Jon turned back around and closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. He needed to calm down, he was losing his grip. He took a deep breath though it did little to help. He noticed Davos looking between him and his sister with interest.

 

“You’ll let me know what you decide?” his old friend asked.

 

“I will,” he answered softly, then threw a glance at Sansa. “What else?”

 

She sat up in her seat. “A few grumblings from some of the Northmen about the Wildlings.”

 

He scowled. “They can grumble all they want. They fought just the same,” he told her.

 

“You should at least hear their complaints,” Sansa said softly. “It’s the diplomatic thing to do.”

 

His eyes fell closed again and he let out a sigh. Did this shit never stop? Trying his damnedest to keep a hold on his patience he turned to her again. “I’m not interested in pandering to a group of people who have short memories."

 

“Jon, you have to play the game if you want to maintain order.”

 

Game? No, he didn't play games. “I’ve commanded men before, Sansa. Have you? Have you led armies? Have you led a battle? Have you done anything, lately, besides tell me how I’m doing everything wrong?” he snarled.

 

Davos pushed his chair out and stood, startling them both. They looked up to find him grimacing at them. “If you two want to bicker, you can do it without me here. It’s like being at home with my children all over again,” he grumbled before he left the room.

 

Jon leaned back in his chair as he watched him go. He hated he’d made the man uncomfortable, but he was done pretending when it came to Sansa. He knew what she was and what she was out to do. He would not cater to her. Not anymore.

 

“I don’t think you’re doing everything wrong,” she said softly.

 

“You could have fooled me,” he grunted.

 

He heard her shift in her seat and looked over at her. “You’re my brother. But I’m trying to look out for the people of this country and they are allowed to be uncomfortable with the Wildlings.”

 

He was up and out of his chair, his ire needing an outlet. Breathing deep, he paced to the hearth and back before facing her again. “ No , they aren’t. When we needed a force big enough to take on the Boltons, it wasn’t the great houses of the North that rallied to our side, it was the Free Folk. They’re people that promised to fight for us, or have you forgotten that as well?" he asked, maintaining some of his calm, but not all. "Tormund agreed to argue for our cause and you would allow men to come into this room and grumble because they aren’t the same type of Northmen?" He shook his head at her. "I’ll not hear it, Sansa. Any dissenting remarks about them will be shut down immediately.”

 

Her jaw tightened as she looked around the room, tapping her fingers on the table. “Not everyone in the North is like you and spent months with them beyond the Wall and knows there may be more to them than simple barbarians. Most of the people lived in fear of the Wildlings." She turned those icy eyes on him, cold and accusing. "You did when you joined the Night’s Watch. You have to try to change their minds a different way than force.”

 

“You mean try to reason with a group of unreasonable men?" he scoffed. "If the Northmen have such short memories about who fought and died beside them on the field of battle, then I’ll be happy to remind them. But if they come to me complaining that they’re South of the wall, none of you will like my response.”

 

She heaved a sigh. “Fine, Jon. Do things your way." She looked down at her hands, linked her fingers together. “What about the Karstarks and the Umbers? We should give those castles to men who fought with us.”

 

He pulled a face. “Why would we do that?”

 

She looked at him as if he had no more sense than a bucket of rocks. “The Umbers and Karstarks turned on us, Jon...”

 

“And what about Cerwyn, Manderly, and Glover?" he asked, throwing a hand out. "Shall we cast them out as well? I don’t remember seeing their sigils on the field.”

 

“They didn’t actively fight against us...”

 

“They didn’t actively support us, either," he ground out. "You can’t toss out some and keep the rest. Besides, Small Jon Umber and Harald Karstark are dead. Their children didn’t choose to fight against us. I’ll not cast out families for the sins of the father.” She rolled her eyes him and he blew out an angry huff. “You think I’m being a fool.”

 

Her head twisted around, mouth pinched tight. “I think you’re giving no incentive for men to be loyal to you. You're not punishing those who fought against us, or rewarding those who fought for us.”

 

He crossed his arms over his chest. “I will not throw out families, Sansa.”

 

She shook her head. “You’re letting your issues with her cloud your judgment.”

 

He stalked forward and put his clenched fists on the table, leaning toward her. “This has nothing to do with her," he bit out. "If anything, I’m letting my own issues with our father cloud my judgment. Or have you forgotten how I came to be in this world?" he asked, eyes narrowed. "How your mother treated me for something out of my control? How you treated me because of her? Or maybe now you think you had the right of it?”

 

She shook her head. “Jon, that’s not true.”

 

He pushed off the table but still poked a finger at it. “Then how about you show me a little respect? I've told you my decision, I'm not making it lightly. If you don't like it, then you don't, but it's final." He straightened up and walked toward the door. "As for Theon, I haven’t yet decided what I’ll do about him. But he’s responsible for his actions and what they cost us. Keep that in mind,” he said over his shoulder.

 

“Theon is the reason I’m alive, Jon. He saved me.”

 

He paused and slowly turned back. “And the queen’s army saved me. Remember that when you’re asking for leniency for Theon but still arguing we shouldn’t give in to the queen."

 

He left the room, hoping he had finally gotten through to her, that she would heed his words. It was probably a false hope. He knew she was stubborn, could see no way but her own, but at least he had tried.

 

He went to his room and gathered his cloak, donning it as he went outside and into the crypts. He hadn’t been since he’d been back and he knew the new maester was working on preparing Rickon’s body.

 

He walked down the long path and stopped in front of the newest statue, that of his father. He lit a candle while staring at it. It didn’t look much like him. He lowered his head, the weight of everything bearing down on him. What would his father say about him now? Would he be proud of him? Ashamed? Call him a deserter and a coward for leaving the Night’s Watch? Take his head? Or would he simply be happy he was alive, even if it was under dubious circumstances?

 

He glanced at the statue beside him, his Aunt Lyanna. How much blood was spilled because Rhaegar kidnapped her and raped her? Would he have even been born if his father hadn’t ridden south? Would a Targaryen still be sitting on the Iron Throne? He shook his head, wondering about what could have happened was a pointless exercise.

 

He turned his focus back to his father, trying to remember the sound of his voice. His kind smile. He missed him more than he could put thoughts to. Looking down the long, dark passageway, he realized they needed to commission more statues– for Robb, Rickon, Arya, Bran, and their Uncle Benjen. Too many of his family would line these crypts. Make him question every action he made, wondering if it would bring them honor or shame.

 

He finally turned from the heavy gaze of his father and left the suffocating space. There was no comfort to be found there. The air felt lighter at the surface, his breath coming easier.

 

“Contemplating your past or future, Jon Snow?”

 

He stopped and turned to find Tyrion leaning against a stone pillar.

 

“A little of both, actually,” he admitted, looking around the yard, at all the eyes watching them. He stepped closer to the Imp. “I’m not saying you’re under threat, but you probably don’t want to be walking around by yourself," he cautioned. "A lot of the Northmen have resentment for the Targaryens and the Lannisters. You’re a representative of both.”

 

Tyrion smirked. “I suppose I am. Funny how life works out, isn’t it? When I first came here, it was as a guest of my oaf of a brother-in-law and a sister who despised me. Now, I’m here as the Hand of the Queen who will overthrow my ruthless sister and remake the world.” He stepped forward, and looked up at Jon, his eyes serious. “Tell me, what do you think of her?”

 

“The queen or your sister?”

 

He chuffed, his eyes rolling as he tilted his head. “Well, I think I have the right of it when I assume that everyone in the Seven Kingdoms thinks of my sister as a cunt." His mirth faded, exasperation taking its place as he eyed him once more. "Naturally, I’m speaking about the Targaryen queen.”

 

Jon took a deep breath. What did he think of her? She was the most alluring thing he’d ever seen. His blood heated just from being around her. His cock twitched when she smiled. He thought a host of things he wouldn’t voice. “I don’t know her,” he told him instead.

 

“No, but I imagine she’s going to rectify that, soon, correct?” Jon shifted, a flush of heat warming his neck, something queer dancing in his stomach. Tyrion obviously knew of their dinner that night and what the queen hinted it held. He didn't like him knowing. “She invited you to supper to know her better, yes?” the Dwarf prodded him again.

 

Jon nodded. “Yes. Tell me, why did you decide to back her?” he asked, steering the conversation elsewhere.

 

Tyrion drew his head back with a wry smirk. “Ah, a tale I don’t remember most of because I was quite drunk,” he said as he leaned against a few crates. “I was with Varys, traveling to meet her. He’d been talking about a new reason to live. But, Ser Jorah Mormont captured me and took me to her, as a gift. I’m sure he thought she would kill me, given I was a Lannister. But she pulled us both in front of her, and instead asked me what she should do with him.”

 

“And what had he done to her?”

 

“Betrayed her," he said lowly. "When she was first married to Khal Drogo, Jorah had joined them in order to report back to the crown what she was doing. What her brother was doing. Somewhere along the way, his allegiance shifted from returning to Westeros to her," he explained. He eyed Jon again, kissed his teeth. "Many men have fallen in love with her only to not have those feelings reciprocated.” He sighed and waved a hand over himself, head to foot. “As you can see, she didn’t kill me but instead asked me to counsel her on how to get the Iron Throne. She let me live, so I serve her.”

 

Jon should've been surprised by the tale, but he wasn't. He'd said he didn't know her, but he knew enough he could see her doing just as Tyrion said.

 

Lannister furrowed his brow. “She’s a woman who does what she wants. However , she will listen to others. She might not follow your advice or even agree with your words, but she does listen . That’s more than I can say about any other ruler I’ve ever met.” He shook his head, his mouth pursed. “We were attacked in a fighting pit in Meereen, facing certain death when her dragon flew in to the rescue. She climbed upon his back and he carried her out of there," he said, his hand gesturing the flight. "We didn’t see her for weeks."

 

"Where'd she go?"

 

Tyrion shrugged. "We didn't have a clue. The city came under siege from slavers. Yunkai and Meereen, the Sons of the Harpy. She showed up out of nowhere and was not happy. Wanted to return Yunkai and Astapor to the dirt, slaughter every master within the city.”

 

"Did she?"

 

"No," he said and shook his head. “Sometimes the Targaryen in her is hard to control, but she listened as I cautioned her not to do that. It’s what her father would have done. Instead, we met with the three slavers who had broken our pact. Grey Worm slit a few throats and she rode her dragon out to sea and torched some of the ships that were bombing the city. The Dothraki stormed the gates and brought order and peace, no longer raping and pillaging as they went. She did that. She went against her initial reaction and listened to reason." He met Jon's gaze. " That’s why I follow her. That’s why I believe she’s what’s best for this world. Because she will always listen . She protects people from monsters, and she is the farthest thing from a monster.”

 

Jon turned away from him and looked around at the assortment of men standing around the courtyard, all still watching their exchange. “I know you like to talk. It’s what you’re best at, actually. But I feel like you’re driving to a point. It would help if you’d get there.”

 

Tyrion chuckled. “You never were one for mincing words, were you? Fine. I convinced the queen to come help you and Sansa because having the North within the fold would be advantageous when she went for the throne. It feels, however, that there is resistance to such an idea, now. After your keep has been won.”

 

Jon shook his head. “That is not my opinion, Tyrion. But I also don’t control the other houses in the North.”

 

“No, but House Stark was the Warden of the North for hundreds of years. With a word from her, you will be that again, but loyalty is repaid with loyalty.”

 

“You want me to bend the knee.”

 

“I want you to think about what’s best, Jon Snow. I saw the state of the battle when we rode in." He gave him a pointed look. "You’d lost. Remember who it was that rode to your aid when it would've been easier to ignore the pleas for help.”

 

Jon felt his heart hammering in his chest. The queen hadn’t demanded anything from him so forcefully, and he didn’t care for her Hand doing it in her stead. If she wanted that from him, she could ask him.

 

He shifted closer, hovered over the dwarf. “First, I didn’t know anything about Sansa’s request for help. Second, I remember damn well who rode onto that field and saved our lives. The North remembers," he assured him. "I don’t need you or anyone else to remind me. Perhaps I’m not the child of Ned Stark you need to consult.”

 

Tyrion gave him a short nod. “I will consult with her. Littlefinger is riding to Winterfell to pledge his forces to our cause. What will you do if she asks?”

 

Jon shook his head. “I’m not the Lord of Winterfell. I’m not a Lord at all.”

 

“Not what I asked .”

 

He clenched his jaw, his fists doing the same. “I don’t owe you an answer,” he said lowly. “If she wants one, she can ask.”

 

“And if you were made Lord of Winterfell by her? What would you do then?”

 

“I already gave you an answer, Lord Tyrion. I don’t answer to you,” he said as he strode off and back to the keep. He caught sight of her standing on one of the upper pathways, Lord Varys at her side. He felt it almost like a shock when her eyes met his. He ripped his own away and continued into the keep.

 

*~*

 

A knock sounded at his door and he took a swig of ale before he bid the person to enter. The door opened and Davos stood there, a black gambeson in his hands. Jon ushered him in.

 

“Can I ask why you needed a new one?” Davos asked. "And why another bath? Didn't you just wash after the battle yesterday?"

 

Jon finished his ale and grabbed up the scrap of linen he'd been drying off with and rubbed it over his wet head again, then his back and chest, his scars mocking him like open wounds, marks of his shame. He hated them. He threw the linen to the floor and picked up the clean tunic he laid out before his bath and pulled it on, tucking it into his leathers. “The queen invited me to have dinner with her,” he answered.

 

Davos raised an eyebrow at him, the hint of a smile on his lips. “She certainly doesn’t waste time, does she?”

 

Jon snorted and shook his head. “She’s a queen. She’s not one who waits for things she wants, I suppose.”

 

“Are you one of those things?”

 

He looked up at Davos as he pulled the black quilted jerkin from his wardrobe. “She’s hinted as much.”

 

“For political reasons?”

 

Gods, he was full of questions.

 

He laced up his jerkin, frowning. “I don’t think so.”

 

“Are you after her for political reasons?”

 

“No,” he answered quickly and realized how fast. Gods, he was fucked. And not in the way he hoped to be later.

 

Davos was staring at him, too much knowing in his old blue eyes for Jon's comfort. “Your sister won’t approve.”

 

“She doesn’t seem to approve of anything I do lately,” he muttered. “I can’t say that I actually care in this instance.”

 

Davos stepped forward and helped him put his gambeson on and clasp it. “I’m not saying you don’t deserve it, lad, but I would recommend you tell her about those scars before she sees them.”

 

Finally dressed, Jon sat on the edge of his bed and ran his hands through his mess of damp hair, taming it as best he could, scraping it back into a knot and tying it off. “How? How do I explain it to anyone? Oh, by the way, I got myself murdered, stayed dead for a few days, but here I am. Right as rain. Didn't hurt me at all," he jeered, his bitterness jumping to the surface.

 

“I think they speak for themselves,” Davos replied gently and eased himself into the chair Jon had abandoned. He leaned down, elbows on his knees, hands clasped between them as he stared at him, something like affection written on his weathered face.

 

It made Jon feel like the spoiled, green boy he'd been all those years ago. He was grateful and regretful all at once.

 

“You did the right thing by the Free Folk," Davos went on quietly. "You’re consistently trying to do the right thing. The problem is that the wrong thing is so often rewarded."

 

He stood and let out a heavy sigh before going for his sword belt and slinging it around his waist. “And what’s the right thing in this instance? I don’t… I don’t want to deny that I want this. But it feels like the only person to benefit from it is me," he admitted, his movements jerky and impatient as he tied off his belt. "For some reason that's nagging at me. It feels wrong.”

 

Davos gave him a sad smile. “You’re a servant to your people. Whether at the Night’s Watch or here. It feels wrong because you haven’t done one selfish thing in the time I’ve known you. Doubt you did before either. You had plenty of opportunities, and you always turned them down because there was something selfless as another option.”

 

Jon scrubbed a hand over his face then turned to look at him. “What’s the selfless option here?”

 

“Self-denial?" he offered with a shrug. "Personally, I think you had enough of that while at the Wall.” He shook his grizzled head and stood. “As someone who knows you and knows the type of man you are, I can only wish for you to look fucking happy for once in your life. The queen, well, she looks like she’d make most men happy.”

 

Jon looked up at him, worry and self-doubt weighing him down. “And what if I don’t make her happy?”

 

A smile slowly stretched across his friend's face, deepening all the lines yet taking away some of the years. “She’ll probably feed you to those bloody dragons,” he said with a laugh and even Jon cracked a smile. The amusement faded, seriousness taking over. “Stop worrying about everything for once in your life, lad. Go enjoy dinner with a beautiful woman, at the very least. And years from now, if it all goes to shit, you can say you once dined and possibly fucked a queen.”

 

Jon chuffed and rolled his eyes. “I’m not much for bragging.”

 

“That’s where we’re different, lad. My wife was my beauty. But if I had a woman that looked like Daenerys Targaryen trying to seduce me into her bed…" He winked at him. "I’d be running and shouting it from the rooftops.”

 

Fearing he might do just that, Jon poured more ale into his horn and downed it in one go. His blood was beginning to sing, warming his limbs, making him eager for action as it raced through his veins. He stepped toward the door then faltered. “Should I take her something?”

 

Davos scowled. “What would you take her? She’s a queen.”

 

Exactly. “There aren’t any flowers in the hothouse. I checked.”

 

Davos chuffed. “Take yourself," he told him with a pat to his shoulder, his smile fatherly and affectionate again. "That’s what she asked for, so give it to her.”

 

Jon looked at him, his head tilted in question. “Give her my company or actually give her me?”

 

Davos nodded, a smirk on his face. “Aye, lad.”

 

He took a deep breath and made for the door. “Don’t say anything to anyone. She’s the queen, but the less people who know the better.”

 

“Fewer.”

 

“What?”

 

“Go on,” he answered and ushered him out of the room.

Chapter Text

 

Would I spend forever here
And not be satisfied

And I would be the one
To hold you down
Kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away
And after, I'd wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes, dear

Through this world I've stumbled
So many times betrayed,
Trying to find an honest word,
To find the truth enslaved,
Oh, you speak to me in riddles and
You speak to me in rhymes
My body aches to breathe your breath,
Your words keep me alive

And I would be the one
To hold you down
Kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away
And after, I'd wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes, dear

Into this night I wander,
It's morning that I dread,
Another day of knowing of
The path I fear to tread,
Oh, into the sea of waking dreams
I follow without pride,
Nothing stands between us here
And I won't be denied

Possession
Sarah McLachlan


She looked over the meal upon on the table, the smells were much more appealing than the food the night before. She was glad she had the Dothraki bring up some of the meat from the camp, the men only too happy to offer their fare to their queen. The added bread and cheese, even wine from Tyrion’s personal stores were all set out, making a proper dinner for a night she was more than eager for. 

 

Missandei had left most of her hair down, the delicate braids she did do were intricate but laid with the rest of her hair perfectly, giving her a softer look so hoped. She had chosen a red dress with black laces down the front, only kid slippers to complete the ensemble. And though the fire roared in the hearth, the chill in the air never seemed to leave her. It was especially biting without her riding leathers. She hoped her guest would warm her sufficiently before the night was through.

 

Part of her knew this was foolish. She had put Daario off for months, never letting him think he could have her simply because he wanted her. And though their time together had been enjoyable, there had been something missing between them. A tangible heat. She felt that tenfold just looking at Jon Snow. Even more so when he turned those obsidian eyes on her. Tyrion had cautioned her not to appear too eager to bed him, but she sent him out of the room before she could hear the rest of it. She wasn’t going to be swayed. This is what she wanted. And she hadn’t asked anything of Jon as she didn’t want him to think whatever happened between them was an exchange of any kind. This was simply a night between two consenting adults. 

 

A knock sounded at the door and she stepped forward to open it. There he stood, dressed all in black, looking like sin itself. His inky eyes met hers and a bolt of heat sparked through her, settling deep within her belly. She was already overcome by him and he hadn’t even entered the room or spoken a word. 

 

Heart beating a rapid thrum behind her breast she pushed the door open, letting it be his choice to cross the threshold between them. The tangible, and the tacit. 

 

He didn’t hesitate, stepping inside and closing the door behind him, eyes never leaving hers. She let her own rove over him relieved the hideous brown gambeson he usually wore had been replaced by a black one. But it obviously wasn’t made for him, it was a little longer than it should be. 

 

I’ll have one made for him

 

She tore her eyes from his and gestured to the table. “I hope you don’t mind, but I decided to forgo ale in favor of wine. I’m afraid my head still aches from last night.”

 

Jon gave her a small smile as he held her chair out for her and then took his seat. “That’s probably wise. That mare’s milk nearly did me in," he admitted with a wry grumble.

 

“I should have warned you about the aftertaste,” she said catching his eye and giving him a smile. 

 

He chuckled and nodded. “That would have been helpful. But I won’t hold it against you.”

 

“Very kind of you," she murmured.

 

“Of course, Your Grace.”

 

She reached for her goblet of wine and brought it to her lips. The sweet taste much preferred to the bitter bite of ale the Northerners seemed to prefer. She settled the goblet back beside her plate after she'd had her fill. “I think while we’re alone, you can call me Daenerys.”

 

His gaze lingered on her lips for a few moments and then turned back to his plate as he reached for his own goblet. “Jon,” he said before he took a breath, then a deep, hearty swallow of wine. 

 

“Do I make you nervous, Jon ?” She couldn't keep the teasing from her tone, nor the quirk from her lips.

 

He twisted his head. “No. You’ve got me on edge for a completely different reason,” he replied, his voice rough and ragged. She wanted to hear it just like that, hot against her ear, feel it against her neck, her thighs...

 

The heat in his gaze was burning her as fiercely as a desert sun, and she had to wonder if they would even make it through dinner. She took another sip of her wine, eyes still locked with his in a battle of wills to see who would turn away first. To her surprise, it was she who glanced down at her food. 

 

She played it off as intentional. “I hope you like the meal. I know you weren’t much a fan of the mare’s milk, but their food, when not horse, is rather delicious.” She fell quiet, waiting for him to begin eating. He finally took the hint and tried a bite of meat. She was happy to see him smile. “How do you like it?” 

 

He nodded and picked another piece. “It’s very good. Different, but I like it.”

 

She took a bite as well, watching him eat, noticing his movements seemed to be controlled. It made her think on the night before and how he had hardly wasted any time in cleaning his plate. She pressed her lips together in an effort not to smile. He was trying to keep to his manners. That pleased her. She didn’t need things like that, but it was nice to see him putting forth an effort to impress her. 

 

“Tell me about yourself, Jon. Tyrion said he rode to the Wall with you when you were just a boy. What’s happened to you since?”

 

His chewing grew slow and his eyes dark. Something had truly happened, many something's she imagined. “I don’t know what it is you want to know, Your—”

 

“Daenerys,” she interrupted.

 

He looked at her again and smiled. “Daenerys,” he corrected carefully, her name sounding warm and cool at once as it rolled off his tongue. She crossed her legs, squirming against the building pressure between them that had been growing since the moment she opened the door. “What would you like to know?” he asked.

 

She shrugged and took a bite of venison, the succulent juice filling her mouth as she looked him over, admiring how captivating he was in black. The color suited him, matched that raven hair and those onyx eyes, made his pale skin appear pure as porcelain. She wanted to dress him in her colors, add some red. Perhaps a jerkin, or place her sigil on his chest. Claim him for herself, warn the world not to touch him or they’d die. She didn’t know why she was already so possessive of this man, how just a searing look from him could set her on fire, cause her to shift in her seat. She couldn't find the will to care just then either.

 

“I don’t know much about The Wall or the men there,” she admitted.

 

He sighed and wiped his mouth, placing the cloth napkin onto the table beside his plate. His goblet was taken up next, downed in one go before he finally faced her, fist in hand, both laying in his lap. “I joined the Night’s Watch because I thought it was a special order of men that were charged with protecting the realm from the Wildlings. I wanted to join. Almost begged my father,” he said with a shake of his head.

 

“That’s not what it was?” she asked, detecting the sadness that lingered in his voice.

 

“No." The word was said with more disappointment than she thought such a small word could hold and she was surprised at the sudden sadness that washed through her. "The Night’s Watch was, still is, considered a joke to most," he went on. "They send criminals there. Thieves, rapists. And forgotten sons. Bastards like me, cowards, the disappointments. But I managed to make friends with some of the new recruits after a time. My brothers. There's only three of us left. I sent Samwell Tarly to study to become a Maester at the Citadel and named Edd Lord Commander before I left.”

 

"We've spoken of it before, you leaving your post as Commander…" She tilted her head and watched him closely. “Was it just to help Sansa?”

 

When his gaze met hers it was full of sorrow, pain, and surprisingly, anger. He shook his head slowly. “No, it wasn’t." He rested an arm on the table, his fist working open and closed before rubbing at his chest, just over his heart. That was the second time she'd seen him do that. "If things hadn’t happened the way they did, I might still be at the Wall,” he sighed.

 

“And what happened?” she asked softly.

 

He shook his head. “It’s hard to explain.”

“Try,” she cajoled, the request gentle. 

 

He ran a hand over his mouth and beard before sitting back in his seat and turning to stare into the fire. “Stannis had come to the keep, hoping to get the Free Folk to fight for him. He was going to take Winterfell from the Bolton's, win the North to his side. But the Free Folk don’t follow a king. At least, not one of Westeros. They followed a man named Mance Rader. A man I respected and that Stannis sentenced to death when he refused to bend the knee. Melisandre and Stannis tried to burn him alive to satisfy their god. I put an arrow in his heart.” 

 

A mercy killing.

 

His jaw was clenched, he seemed to be mulling over his thoughts, deciding what he wanted to say and how. He was unguarded in that moment, allowing her to see the turmoil and pain he was holding onto and she almost regretted asking. Nearly told him she didn't need to know. He spoke before she could.

 

“My men weren’t happy I allowed the Free Folk South of the wall. That night after I did, my steward, Olly, a boy of twelve, came to me, telling me one of the Wildlings had information about my Uncle Benjen who'd gone missing years before on a ranging mission. I rushed out, but there was no one. Just a word hammered to a post. Traitor," he spat. "They stabbed me, repeatedly. Allister Thorne… Olly. 'For the Watch' they said, and left me to die.”

 

She took a deep breath, burning anger and something queer turning within her stomach. She sipped her wine to steady her nerves. “You obviously didn’t die, thankfully."

 

He turned from the fire then, a thousand emotions clouding his beautiful eyes as they stared into hers. “I did, Your Grace. For two days I lay dead.” 

 

The air was snatched from her lungs. His words had barely been above a whisper, but she felt them sink down into the very depths of her bones as if ice had filled them. She shuddered faintly, chilled from the inside out. 

 

“Melisandre was still at Castle Black. The red priests and priestesses have the power to raise the dead, apparently. Davos had seen her perform magic before, asked her to see if she could do something, and she did. Some spell. I was dead and there was… nothing. Nothing but darkness," he told her, voice giving a quake, his gaze far away, trapped in the past. He swallowed thickly and met her eyes again. "Then I wasn’t anymore."

 

It was not a tale easy to believe, perhaps even harder than the army of the dead. She wondered if the Wall had made him a mad man. Sent to the edge of the world to live in the inhospitable cold with criminals would surely turn one's mind eventually. But as she looked on at the anguish written across his beautiful face, she had a sinking suspicion he wasn’t lying at all. 

 

“How long ago was this?” she asked, voice thready.

 

“A few months. Right before my sister arrived at Castle Black.”

 

She cleared her throat. “How many times were you stabbed?”

 

“Seven,” he answered quietly. 

 

She put her goblet on the table and stood, walked to the window and looked out. The moon and stars were hidden behind clouds, darkness cloaking the world, almost the same feeling she had in her heart at that moment. He was either lying to her, and she would be furious if he was, or he was telling the truth. Which was almost more frightening a prospect than being lied to? 

 

“My steward was the last. A knife to the heart," he continued, voice low, measured. She huffed out a breath and spun around, finding him standing behind her near his chair. She hadn’t heard him move. “I can tell you're struggling to believe me, I understand." He took a careful step forward, stopped and hung his head, shaking it as he ran his hand over his hair. "Most days I can barely believe it myself." He looked up, a plea in his eyes. "But I can prove it to you, here and now.”

 

She hesitated for only a moment before she nodded. It was so far fetched that she couldn’t believe it, not without seeing it. Her mouth went dry as he undid the clasps of his gambeson and pulled the heavy leather from his body, followed by the quilted piece beneath. Her heart was racing, tremors running through her limbs, stomach twisting. It wasn’t desire that was propelling him to take off his clothes, but a need for her to believe what he was saying. To believe in him. 

 

If his tale proved to be true, then the army of the dead would have to be as well. Then what would she do? It could change everything for her.

 

She hadn’t realized she'd crossed to him until her hands covered his at the laces of his tunic. She stared up into his sooty eyes, so somber tears threatened her own. “What if you’re lying?" she whispered. "What should I do to you?”

 

The shake of his head was barely perceptible. “I’m not. I really wish I was," he croaked. "But if you don't believe me after this… If you truly think I'm deceiving you, kill me I guess."

 

The thought was abhorrent. She bit her bottom lip and tugged upon his tunic, holding his eyes as long as she could until his face disappeared beneath it as he helped her. The barrier was gone between them they both let out a breath, neither moving. Her eyes trailed down his chest and she found it difficult to stay standing. Seven bright red marks stood out against his pale skin. She feared blood might spill from them any moment they appeared so fresh, the edges jagged and puckered. 

 

One hand over her mouth, she hesitantly raised the other, fingers trembling as they reached out to the worst of them all, the one over his heart. His chest was heaving as she delicately trailed her fingers over it, then withdrew with a gasp. She looked up and shook her head. “Your watch had ended,” she whispered.

 

A great breath rushed from him. “Aye, it did.”

 

She swallowed thickly, trying to figure out what to say, her head spinning with a thousand questions, of the past and the future. But one jumped out from among the rest. “Are they dead, the ones who did this?"

 

If they weren't she'd hunt them down herself, burn them alive and take great pleasure in their screams.

 

"Aye," he sighed. "I hung them all."

 

"Good." The vehemence in her tone must have shocked him. He shifted back on his heel, staring down at her, his full mouth open, breathing harshly. "Do they hurt you still?” she asked softly, ghosting her fingers over the ones marring his hard stomach. The muscles clenched beneath her touch.

 

“Not as much as they did,” he grunted, reaching for his tunic and moving to put it back on, but a hand to his stopped him. His handsome face twisted in confusion. “Your Grace?”

 

Did he think she was going to reject him? 

 

She was going to do everything but.

 

She had known he was different from the moment she laid eyes on him. Now, she had proof. Jon Snow was no ordinary man, and she was no ordinary woman. That was all she needed to know.

 

Slipping the tunic from his hands, she rose up on her toes until she was a breath away, lips just grazing his. His scent–leather and man and cold, crisp earth flooded her senses, sending heat rushing through her in a pounding roar, her heart thrumming wildly, liquid fire pooling between her thighs, the ache already painful.  

 

The tunic fell to the floor forgotten as she wrapped her arms around his neck, gasping for air, his own arm going around her waist and pulling her tight against his chest, his other hand cupping her face as his sweet mouth took hers. Greedy fingers slid into the nest of curls at his nape as his tongue swept over her lips. She surged forward, wanting more, and he opened his mouth to her, warm and wanting. A moan escaped, his skin hot beneath her hands, but not as scorching as his tongue sliding against her own. 

 

Eager hands started on the ties of her dress and she helped, getting as much undone as she could before he tore at them, his impatience thrilling. She snatched the band from his hair and sank her fingers into the dark curls. They were cool and damp, the softest silk. So different than the bristling brush of his beard as his mouth took hers, again and again. Full, plush lips tasting and pulling and sucking, drawing moan after moan from her. His hands everywhere, rough and needy. Her face, her neck, still freeing her from her dress.

 

Unwilling to wait any longer she tore herself away and walked him through the open door to her bedroom and pushed him down onto the bed. She slipped out of her dress as he kicked off his boots, staring at her as if she were his prey, sloe eyes starved and scalding. Impatient, he reached for her with a growl, pulling her on top of him and she straddled his hips and kissed him again, unable to get enough of his taste. 

 

Her slippers were torn from her feet as she began working on the ties of his leathers. He gripped her hips and thrust up into her with a groan and she gasped, the hard length of him against her cunt sending a bolt of pure pleasure running through her. He flipped them and she was left watching his dark head slide down her body. The ache within her had grown near intolerable. She worked the laces of her small clothes apart and pushed them down as far as she could get them. His mouth closed around a nipple and ripped another moan from her, his teeth biting and his tongue soothing. He trailed kisses between her breasts and she clung to him as he slid his hands beneath her back and held her up to his mouth to feast.

 

And feast he did.

 

He suckled and pulled, pinched and lapped as if her breasts were the sweetest treat he'd ever tasted. She writhed under him, hips grinding up against his hard stomach, each rock bringing her closer to falling. The room was hot, but his skin was hotter, like fire. His mouth actual flame against her flesh. Her every breath came harder and faster. Close, so close. 

 

He released her and she nearly screamed until he slid lower. Then her eyes were rolling back in her head, as she knew his destination, her aching center clenching in anticipation of having his ravishing mouth feast on her. 

 

He pulled away long enough to remove the rest of her clothes and she let her legs fall open for him, once they were gone, her hips rising and falling slowly in invitation. But Jon didn’t act right away. His hungry eyes were taking in their fill and she could almost feel his gaze like a caress over her skin. He was panting as he laid the first kiss to her knee then another along the inside of her thigh, feather light and leisurely. By the time she felt his warm breath against her curls she was twisting and trembling, the ache having grown stronger still. Yet he didn’t give in to her, going to her other knee, slow, open mouth kisses teasing her sensitive skin. She was ready to grab him by the hair and force that sinful mouth of his right where she wanted it. 

 

“Jon,” she nearly wailed. She hadn’t meant for the word to sound so desperate, but she was. Desperate for his touch, his lips, his cock. For all of him. 

 

Then finally, finally , he placed a kiss to her folds, and another and another until she didn’t know how much more of his teasing she could take. His thumbs slid up along her soaked and swollen lips and split her open, a rumble rolling deep within his chest just before he slipped his tongue through her mess. Her toes curled, mouth open, no sound escaping as her head dropped back. She ran her fingers through his lush hair as his searing tongue slid inside, slowly at first, then he growled and it felt as if he were devouring her, lips and tongue and teeth driving her mad as he pressed one of her thighs to the bed in an unyielding grip, opening her better to his onslaught. 

 

He curled his tongue against her entrance and took a deep swipe of her, lapping up a mouthful of her juices and humming in pleasure. She whimpered, hips shifting and straining, aching to get closer, but he pulled back, only the hard tip of his tongue circling around her little nub until her head was thrashing against her pillow, her body taut and tense as a bow string.

 

A tremor rocked through her as he sucked it into his mouth and she sat up on an elbow to watch, all of her burning and throbbing. Her fingers still trailing through his hair, his eyes locked with hers as he scrapped the little bud with his teeth and her body clenched in response. “Yes!” she hissed, eyes rolling closed, unable to watch him for fear she would shatter. She wasn't ready yet, wanted him closer, deeper, but she couldn’t find the strength to push him away and take him. He had her caught, trapped beneath his greedy hands and ravenous mouth, dangling her over the abyss. It was such sweet torment she never wanted it to end.

 

The bed shifted beneath her and she opened her eyes, finding Jon up on his knees, a hand down his leathers, cock fisted and stroked as he continued to push her closer and closer to the edge. In the candlelight, she watched him pleasure himself, the sight of the plump, pink head weeping as it poked from his fist and folds of black, his wet, red tongue and full lips supping and licking at her cunt. It was all too much. She was gone, falling, splintering into a thousand shards, a rapturous keening cry ripped from her throat 

 

It only seemed to urge him on. He growled and lapped at her with long sucking swipes as she shook beneath him, thrusting her hips and greedy cunt against his eager tongue until the last tingling waves faded, leaving her boneless, chest heaving. 

 

A kiss was placed to each of her hips, her ribs, nipples pinched and pulled between plush lips, as he slowly moved back up her body. His mouth and beard were coated in her slick mess and she pulled him into a kiss, moaning at the taste of herself on his tongue. She tore herself away from his mouth and pushed at his chest, then at his leathers, shoving them over his slim hips. “Get them off. Off, now,” she ordered and forced him to his back before helping him strip them from his legs. 

 

She rubbed her thighs together, staring at his pretty cock, ample and flushed against his scarred stomach. Unable to resist she leaned over him, wrapping a hand around the stiff length, her grip firm and slowly sliding up and down as she swiped her tongue over the head. He growled, harsh and low, wolfish, and a shiver ran down her spine. But she couldn't help but smile. He had picked her apart at the seams, dedicating himself to her pleasure and she was eager to do the same for him.

 

His eyes had blown to black, depthless and deep, watching her hungrily as she ran her tongue from root to tip, flicking her tongue out to catch the bead of want pooled there before taking him into her mouth. She was delighted to see his head drop back to the pillow, to hear the long guttural groan. She bobbed over him, sucking hard, swirling her tongue around the head each time she reached it. His hand fisted in her hair, dislodging some of her braids. Good. She wanted to be as unbound as he looked. Raven hair a messy riot about his pretty face, eyelashes fluttering, plush mouth open and panting, chest heaving...

 

The muscles of his stomach clenched, his fingers twisting tight in her hair, and she slid her hand between her legs, rubbing her own through the sopping mess he'd left her in, finding the hard little nub nestled within the swollen folds. She'd barely circled it twice when a feral snarl cut through the air and she was suddenly gripped beneath the arms and pulled off of him. He rolled her to her back, bringing her fingers into his mouth and sucked them clean before settling between her thighs. She dug her fingernails into his back as he thrust against her, claiming her lips in another starving kiss. It was the best kind of torture. He tore away to breathe, hips still grinding into the cradle of hers, as he nudged her chin up with his nose and traced down the line of her throat, stopping at her pulse and nipping at it with his teeth. She could take no more.

 

“Inside me, Jon," she gasped, ordered, begged.

 

His mouth never left her neck as he drove inside of her in a single deep thrust, the force of it shoving her up the bed, then again and again. Then suddenly he pulled back, staring down at her, seeming to be as stunned as she felt. She’d never known the riot of feelings Jon had stirred within her. With Drogo, it was about taking control so she wouldn’t be hurt, with Daario it was taking control to let him know where he stood. In this, with the beautiful man above her, she felt like she had no control, as if some invisible tether tied them to each other, intent to never let them part.

 

She'd barely caught her breath when he kissed her again and slid almost all the way out of her before thrusting back in hard. Then her thigh was slung over his arm, opening her more to his delicious onslaught. She was so close, on the edge as his lips moved down her throat and to her breast, sucking one of her nipples into his hot mouth. Her body clenched in response and he groaned against her skin, hitching her leg higher, grinding against her throbbing clit.

 

And that was it. All the breath left her, her body seized, wrapped around his, holding him to her as she was washed away. She crested each wave, shuddering and shaking from the force of it. He pulled out of her with a grunt and she felt his seed spill hot and slippery onto her stomach as he hovered above her on trembling limbs. She needed to tell him that it didn’t matter. He would never father a child on her, nor could she give him one. But she pushed the thought away, refusing to let the sadness take hold, instead, bringing his mouth back to hers and running her fingers through his hair as he released a ragged breath and collapsed on top of her. 

 

*~*

 

He couldn’t get enough. Her lips, her taste, the feel of her beneath him. He was starved, completely unleashed, a wolf let loose, rubbing his nose against the crook of her neck to memorize her smell, hands stroking any and all of her skin he could reach. She hummed beneath him and his teeth gently sank into the soft flesh of her breast. Her legs tightened around him in response and he looked up to see a sleepy smile on her face.

 

She traced his jaw with her thumb. “You’re a dangerous man, Jon Snow.”

 

He placed a kiss on the inside of her wrist and gave a slow grin. “Says the Mother of Dragons,” he whispered. 

 

She pushed him to his back, threw a thigh over his hips and settled beside him, her palm pressing into the scar over his heart. “You’re magic, too,” she said softly. 

 

“Am not,” he rumbled back, his fingers trying to comb through her hair, but her damn braids were in his way. 

 

He sat up and pulled her to sit in front of him and began removing the plethora of ties and pins from her hair, throwing them to the floor. She let out an indignant huff as he tossed the last pin, but he didn't care, he finally had everything free and her hair hung in a silver moonlit wave down her back. 

 

His winter goddess.

 

He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her shoulder as his fingers slid through the silky tresses. She leaned back against his chest and placed kisses along his jaw as his hand slid down to her hip. Searching fingers found the sticky mess he’d left on her belly. He sighed, letting her go and climbed from the bed. She watched him, her eyes not on his face but moving over his body, the heat of it feeling like a caress. 

 

Moving to the basin, he wet a linen and went back to the bed. As he laid her down against the pillows she gave him the softest, sweetest smile he’d ever seen. It made his heart race beneath his ribs, a steady reminder he was very much alive, and she was real. He had made love to the Dragon Queen, a goddess who looked like ice and burned like fire. And if he had his way about it, they would every day, several times a day, for the rest of his days. 

 

Gods , was he a fool to have fallen into bed with her? 

 

He might have been, but if so, he would own up to it. And as he looked at her, he knew. He would never regret it. 

 

He cleaned his seed from her skin and she caught his hand as she sat up. “You don’t need to do that, next time," she told him quietly.

 

“I’m the one that made the mess,” he said with a cheeky grin.

 

She smiled at him briefly and shook her head. “No, I meant…" She breathed deep and met his eyes. "I can’t have children, Jon.” He stared back at her, a bit shocked, and a pained look crossed her face. She released his hand and turned away. 

 

It was a cold wind biting into him, reminding him there was still so much about her that he didn’t know. That she didn't know about him. They needed to remedy that. 

 

He wiped off his own stomach and threw the linen into the floor

 

She cut a look at him over her shoulder. “You’re a bit of a slob, Jon Snow,” she teased and he knew the sensitive subject wouldn't be discussed further. 

 

He wouldn't push her. Understood well the need to keep hurts hidden and unspoken. So he climbed back onto the bed and gathered her to his chest, holding her in his arms. “I’ve been called worse,” he said, giving a soft chuckle as he remembered all the horrible names he’d been called and how none of them seemed to matter if she was pleased with him.

 

“No more,” she said as she lifted her head to look into his face. “Anyone who disparages you in front of me will know what it feels like to cross the Dragon Queen.”

 

He tucked her hair behind her ear and smiled. “I’ve never felt safer, to be honest.”

 

She smirked at him then climbed from the bed much to his disappointment. He didn't let himself worry though, she hadn't bothered to dress, or even slip on a robe as she left the room and returned quickly with a goblet of wine and a platter of food from their forgotten dinner.

 

"I could've gotten that for you if you'd asked."

 

She wrinkled her pert nose adorably. "Nonsense, I'm quite capable of serving myself. I may be a queen, but I'm not that pampered." She sat her refreshments down on the bedside table and straightened again. Her eyes glinted, ice and blue flame as they took in his form, still bare as his name day laid across her bed. Her pink tongue slipped out in a slow glide across her top lip. "Besides, the view is quite nice from here."

 

He stared back at her a bit dumbstruck, his mind still reeling at his fortune. How he, a bastard boy, vowed to a life of misery was now laying naked under the gaze of a queen, he'd never know. He swallowed down the bitter memories that threatened to rise up and mock him. He would not let them ruin his time with her if he could help it.

 

"Mine is better," he husked at her. 

 

And it was, because how could it not be. She was perfection. Small and dainty, yet curved and lush. Pale and pink as the softest of dawns. The beauty of her face alone was enough to steal his breath. That he knew she wielded armies and dragons with the ease that others merely walked… 

 

He'd thought himself cursed most of his life, destined to spend his days brooding and hopeless, now he felt as if he'd wandered into a dream. He never wanted to wake up. 

 

While he mused, she seemed to have done the same, her gaze now focused on the candle flames flickering on the bedside table as she sipped her wine. He watched as she reached up and danced her fingers through them, nearly succumbing to his need to snatch her away from the danger until he remembered. 

 

The Unburnt.

 

"Do you even feel the heat?" he asked, awed by her once again. 

 

She glanced down at him, fingers still dancing within the flames. "Not the way you do I imagine. It's more of a caress. Like silk sliding over skin."

 

"Definitely not the way I do," he said, laying his scarred palm out for her to see. 

 

She placed her wine upon the table and sat beside him, taking his hand in hers. Tender fingertips ran over the rippled skin. His palm numbed to feeling anything years ago, he felt the touch elsewhere, tickling down his belly and deep into his loins. "What happened?" she asked softly. 

 

"I grabbed a lantern."

 

She scowled at him, perplexed. "What would possess you to do such a thing?"

 

"A dead man trying to kill me and my Commander."

 

Her body seemed to shrink in front of him, the weight of dread he recognized all too well settling on her. He reached for her, guilt ladened and angry with himself for ruining their time. She came to him much to his relief and he took her face in his hands and kissed her, hoping to banish their troubles from her mind for a little longer. 

 

He could drink from her sweet mouth for an age. The warmth, her little pants and mewls stirring his cock, sharp teeth biting, tongue tasting while lips pulled and plundered, all of it prodding the beast inside him into a voracious hunger. 

 

His experience was rather limited, but he knew with certainty he had been fashioned just for her. They fit too well, every touch new, yet familiar, as if their bodies had known one another since the beginning of time. Made together, then split apart and brought together again. 

 

Maybe that was his answer. Why he'd been brought back from death. For her.

 

She broke away to catch her breath but brushed her nose along his cheek, soft kisses following its path. “Aren't you hungry?”

 

“I just ate quite well,” he teased and she laughed and shoved at him. 

 

“I meant for actual food.”

 

“I'm fine, I’ll wait til morning.”

 

“Planning to stay, are you?” 

 

Panic seized him. Did she not want him to stay? Was she done with him now? He shook the thought off. She didn’t seem agitated or angry. He tried for cool indifference.

 

“Well, my room is all the way on the other side of the keep. I just don’t know that I can walk all that way considering you’ve exhausted me.” He hoped that had sounded more confident than he felt. 

 

Her smile was soft as she leaned up to place a kiss on his lips. “I would be a poor queen if I sent you stumbling into the night, wouldn’t I?”

 

“Still better than the one on the throne,” he said as he brushed her hair off her shoulder. 

 

“That’s not saying much.”

 

He stroked the back of his fingers across her jaw. “I don’t think I can truly convey with words what I think of you, Your Grace.”

 

She bit her bottom lip, a small smile on her face and a pink flush to her cheeks. “Daenerys.”

 

“Daenerys.”

 

She settled herself into his side once more and tucked her head beneath his chin as her hand stroked over his torso. Her thumb traced over one scar, then another, and another. He wanted to grab her hand and stop her, but her touch was soft and almost soothing. He turned his face toward her and pressed his lips to her hair, breathing in her warm scent, letting it ground him. 

 

“This doesn’t hurt, does it?” she asked.

 

“No. I was just thinking… it’s soothing when you do it.”

 

She brought her thigh up over his and twined her leg with his. “You said you fell in love with a Wildling woman and she died. How long ago?”

 

His fingers traced the curve of her spine and he looked down at her, so different than Ygritte, yet similar in some ways. Both certainly unexpected. “A lifetime, it seems. But I think a year, maybe a bit more?”

 

“What was she like?”

 

He frowned, seeing her fiery hair and hard blue eyes judging him. “She was brash, and bold, and called me on my stupid ideas about women and Wildlings.”

 

“Was she pretty?” she asked and he didn’t know what answer to give. She lifted her head before he could worry over it much and gave him a small smile. “You won’t offend me if you say ‘yes’.”

 

He cupped her face and traced her lips with his thumb. Pretty yes, but not as beautiful as you. “She was.”

 

“How dare you, Jon Snow,” she teased as she leaned forward and took a nip of his bottom lip.

 

He chuckled. “I think there would have been more bite behind those words if you weren’t nearly laughing.”

 

She shrugged and rested her head against his shoulder again. Her fingers began to trace the lines of his abdomen, then moved to the crease between his hip and thigh and down through the hair around his cock. He had been half-hard already. More of that and he'd be hard as stone. She trailed her nails lightly along his cock and he groaned against her hair. She leaned up and licked at his throat, sucked on his pulse, her still wet cunt grinding against his thigh. He lay back and allowed her to have her way, to stroke him, tease him, torment him, all the while wondering how he would survive if she decided to leave him behind. 

 

He shook the thought from his head. She wouldn’t be leaving him behind. She was his. And he was hers, felt it down into the very depths of his bones. 

 

Unable to take her torture a moment longer, he cupped her face, drawing her up against his body and sealing his mouth over hers in another kiss, long and languid. She sighed and shifted, straddling his hips and he groaned into her, the heat of her pressed against his cock, wet and scorching. 

 

His hands slid over her back, down her sides to her hips and arse, grabbing a greedy handful as he rocked his hips up into hers. The head of his cock brushed through her slick folds and she released a moaning whimper–a sound he was certain he could listen to forever–before she broke away, gasping into his mouth, her sweet breath fanning over his face as she took him in hand and slid him inside her. He shuddered as she sank back, taking him all the way to the hilt, her knees pressing into his sides. 

 

Then she was rolling her hips against his, grinding over his throbbing cock, staring into his eyes as she did so and he couldn’t stop touching her. Sliding hands over her soft skin, her thighs, her hips, her belly and breasts. How was she so perfectly made? 

 

She took his hands and entwined her fingers with his and he became captivated by her eyes, lost in their depths as they stared into his, growing dark as dusk, lids heavy with pleasure. Was she a witch casting a spell on him? At that moment, he’d gladly let her, was completely willing to succumb to her spell. 

 

She let him go and leaned forward, a hand placed on each side of his head, hair falling around them like a silver waterfall. He pressed his feet to the bed and thrust into her, faster, harder, the sounds of their harsh breathing and the lurid wet squelch of skin against skin filling the room. Driving him to the brink.

 

He took her mouth in another demanding kiss, gripping her flesh in his hands. With every clench of her velvet walls around his cock, he felt himself fall farther and farther, the pressure building at the base of his spine. But he would not break before her. He slid his thumb through her slick folds and found her little nub, rock hard and swollen tight, and flicked over it with every thrust of his hips. 

 

She gasped, dropping her head to his shoulder, her teeth sinking into his skin and he groaned, thrusting into her once more and that was it. She convulsed above him, her body shaking in his arms, her silken sheath tightening around him in pulling pulses. He was hopeless at that point, spilling into her with a shuddering grunt, guilt chasing after him. 

 

But she took his mouth in a long kiss, sliding her tongue against his and he pushed it away to brood over later. Her weight fell onto him fully and she let out a contented sigh. “Yes. Quite dangerous.”

 

He could only hold her in response.

 

*~*

 

When she awoke, she reached for him only to find the bed beside her empty. She lifted her head and found him sitting at the foot of the bed pulling on his boots already dressed. She leaned up on her elbow and glanced around the room. It was still dark outside. “Planning to sneak out, Jon Snow?”

 

He smiled and continued lacing his boot. “Not sneaking. I was going to wake you up to tell you I was leaving.”

 

She raised an eyebrow at him. “And what if it was my intention to have you again before you left?”

 

He looked over at her, the heated look in his eyes causing her thighs to press together. It was a wonderful thought. He held his hand out to her and she took it, surprised by his strength as he pulled her into his lap. “Is that what you want?”

 

She pressed her lips to his, twisting her hands into his hair as he gripped handfuls of her naked skin. “I suppose now you’ll never know,” she whispered and moved out of his arms and leaned back against the pillows, stretching and preening, enjoying the feel of his eyes burning into her. 

 

He gripped her ankle and pulled her toward him again before leaning over her. “I’ll give you what you want," he rumbled. "All you have to do is tell me what that is.”

 

She smiled as she slid a hand between them and down to her already slick folds. Something about him had her wet and weeping in an instant, as no other man ever had. Dark eyes followed her fingers and she made a show of slowly circling her clit, gasping when she remembered the velvet heat of his tongue lapping against her the night before. Not wanting to torment them too much, she withdrew her fingers, bringing them up and sliding them across his plump lips. “I want my taste on your lips and tongue, Jon Snow. I want you to think of me all day and of all the things we could've done while you were getting dressed. And I want you to come dine with me again tonight, hungry for me,” she murmured.

 

With a growl he grasped her wrist and took her fingers into his warm mouth, one, then two, then three, tongue swirling and sucking them clean. He released each with a wet pop before licking his lips, eyes black and narrowed. “That all?” he asked.

 

She suppressed a shiver. “And what would you do if I asked more of you? Would you strip off all your clothes and pleasure me for hours?" she dared softly, "Make me scream your name so everyone in this keep knew what we were doing?”

 

He nodded. “Shall I show you now? I have a much better way of keeping your taste with me,” he told her as he moved down the bed and settled between her thighs, his hot breath blowing against her curls. 

 

She tried to look unaffected, raising an eyebrow in challenge, but his hands took her under the knees, lifting and spreading her legs, pressing them back into the bed, opening her for his perusal. Her cunt clenched and convulsed, greedy and yearning, the sight of his dark head hovering above her too much to ignore. The first soft touch of his tongue came, tracing through the seam of her and she whimpered, her toes curling. A flick over her clit, circling and flicking again, before that sinful mouth wrapped around the swollen bud and suckled. Her hips and legs strained against his hold as she cried out, wanting more. He released one of her legs, but she held it back, watching as he slid a finger through the wet and mess then slipped it inside her, filling her with one, then two. 

 

He dragged them along the upper wall somehow finding a hidden spot within her that her body shuddering and shaking with each pass, her cunt clamping down on his probing fingers. “Jon," his name left her on a heaving gasp, a hand sliding through his hair, gripping tight. His inky eyes looked up at her as he released her nub with a wet pop and flicked his tongue over it again, and again and again and again, his thick fingers never slowly their sweet torment. Soon enough she was falling apart beneath his ardent and attentive care and he brought her down slowly, pressing kisses from inner thigh to knee. 

 

He cleaned his fingers off, thoroughly sucking one, then the other as he smirked at her, a devilish gleam in his beautiful eyes. “I think I can carry out your request now.” She sat up and pulled his lips against hers, the salt and sour taste of herself on his tongue. She pulled away, needing air, her head still spinning from his attention. He brushed her hair back over her shoulder and dropped a kiss there. She leaned her head against his. “I’ll wake you from now on if it's what you wish," he murmured, the heat was gone from his voice, only gentleness left.

 

She fought against the sweet clench of her heart and smiled at him. “Surprise me. Because that was sublime.”

 

“Will I be seeing you later?”

 

“I meant it when I said I wanted you to come back for dinner," she assured him, a hand stroking down his bearded jaw. "But I imagine we’ll cross paths today.”

 

He groaned and nuzzled into her neck, the scrape of his teeth against her pulse sending another shivering aftershock through her. “How am I supposed to do anything else but this?” he rasped into her ear.

 

She hummed, grabbing a handful of curls and pulling him back to her mouth. “I suppose we’ll both have an adjustment to make," she whispered before taking a sucking pull of his plush bottom lip.

 

He kissed her again then abruptly stood and took a step back. “I have to go or I won’t,” he said, voice husky and low.

 

She gave a nod and watched him go, calling out to him just as he reached the door, “Jon?” He turned his dark eyes on her, sweeping over her nude body. “Can you practice in the yard with your sword today?” she asked sweetly.

 

He furrowed his brow and tilted his head. “I suppose, I usually do. Why?"

 

She gave him a small smile as she reclined back on the bed, her head propped up on her hand. “I’ll make it worth your time,” she promised.

 

A slow smile spread across his handsome face and he gave her a final nod before he left her bedroom. 

 

She lay back against the pillows and pulled the one he had used to sleep on against her body. It smelled like him. Woodsy, masculine... Jon . She closed her eyes, ignoring how her heart pounded as she thought of him.

 

*~*

 

He was in the hall, breaking his fast with some of the other men when Tormund walked in and took up the seat beside him, immediately filling his platter with food. Davos was on his other side, keeping up a steady stream of chatter about the issues of the day they would need to tackle. Jon was only half listening. His mind was still in Daenerys' room, in her bed, touching and tasting.

 

Tormund was suddenly very close, staring at him, eyes narrowed. “What happened to your neck, Jon Snow?” he whispered gruffly. 

 

Jon resisted the urge to reach up and hide it, whatever it was, cutting his eyes at him instead. “Not. In. Here,” he warned.

 

His friend smiled wide, blue eyes twinkling as he laughed heartily to Jon’s chagrin. Davos was chuckling to himself beside him. 

 

“I’m glad you both find this so damn funny," he muttered.

 

Davos put a hand on his shoulder. “Relax, lad, I don’t think either of us will judge you.”

 

Tormund raised his goblet to his lips then looked at Jon. “Tell me that it was the Dragon Queen,” he asked softly.

 

He let his eyes roam around the hall to see if anyone was listening. They weren't. He gave a short nod and Tormund shook his head. 

 

“I don’t know if you’re the luckiest or most fucked man on the planet.”

 

"Both," Davos chimed in. 

 

Jon rolled his eyes. “We’ll talk about this later. I don’t need the entire keep knowing my business. Or hers.”

 

Sansa entered the Hall then and instead of sitting at the table, she came to stand before him. “I think you should call the banners,” she said.

 

He looked at the two men beside him then fixed his gaze on her. “Why?”

 

“You said that to punish Karstark and Umber without making Glover, Manderly, and Cerwyn equally responsible would be wrong. Call them and see if they respond," she answered, not bothering to keep her voice low. She wanted everyone to hear, no doubt.

 

He leaned back in his chair, his eyes narrowed, feeling every eye in the hall on him. “And if they refuse?”

 

“You act.”

 

Act? In what way would best suit you? Burn down their keeps? Cast their children out? Their grandchildren?” He shook his head. “I’ll call, but I’ll not do as you request and act .” He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “Stop trying to control this. I won’t send men off to their deaths because you want to establish authority.”

 

“What authority?" she scoffed. "You’re not willing to do anything.”

 

“I said call to them, tell me, though, Sansa, what will you do if they all answer the call? If they come here and admit they were wrong? Are you capable of admitting when you’re wrong?”

 

Her cold eyes narrowed and her nostrils flared before she schooled herself back into her stoic persona. “Are you?” she questioned.

 

He nodded. “I’ve been wrong before. But if this doesn’t play out the way you want, you have no one to blame but yourself.”

 

“And when it works out exactly as I think, will you be capable of making hard choices?”

 

“I’ve killed men for disobeying me. Betraying me. Don’t presume you know what I will or won’t do.” He raked his eyes over the other men in the hall and they all went back to eating. He knew what this was. A power play for her, to show she had the best interests of the North at heart, to punish those who didn’t side with them. He wouldn’t allow her to win this. In fact, it would be his one goal to see this fail in front of her. He looked over at the Maester standing behind him. “Send out a raven to all the houses not here asking them to come to Winterfell for a summit. Let me know first if any refuse,” he said as he looked back at his sister.

 

Sansa narrowed her eyes at him before turning and leaving the room. 

 

Tormund leaned over, frowning at him. “What’s the matter with her?”

 

“She wants things she can’t have.”

 

“Don’t we all?” he said with a snort, then looked at Jon and smirked. “Except you, apparently.”

 

“Shut up,” he grumbled and went back to eating.

 

*~*

 

“Why would she do this?” she asked Varys. They were alone in her solar, him having brought her the news of Sansa's posturing down in the Hall moments after it happened. She could imagine Jon's irritation, certain it was as peaked as hers.  “Why have the Northern houses come to Winterfell for a summit?”

 

“I believe, Your Grace, she’s probably looking for support, someone to put her in charge.”

 

“Why would they do that? Jon Snow is the one that fought for the North. She wasn’t in the field until we were," she reasoned, though she felt Sansa had lost nearly all of hers.

 

Varys shook his head. “I don’t yet know, Your Grace. But I do know she has been receiving ravens from someone on a daily basis.”

 

She laced her fingers together and squeezed, her agitation needing an outlet. “And we don’t know who?”

 

“Not yet, Your Grace. But I will find out.”

 

She nodded and crossed to the window. Jon was in the yard, with his sword as she'd requested, instructing some of the younger boys in how to hold their own properly from the looks of it. While it wasn't quite what she'd had in mind, the sight stirred her nonetheless, though in a much different way. One that caused a familiar ache within her chest. She turned back to Varys. “What rumors have you heard of me?”

 

His barely visible eyebrows rose. “If you are asking about your tryst with Jon Snow, I have not heard anything,” he said with a tilt of his head. “Except Lord Tyrion who has requested to have a room farther from you.”

 

She rolled her eyes. “Allow him to move,” she told him with a wave of her hand. “Walk with me outside, Lord Varys.”

 

He followed her out and Missandei met them on their way and walked with them along the upper crosswalk. “Any news?” she asked her.

 

“A few of the maids were discussing that they cleaned your room this morning. They said you had someone in your bed, but none of them would speculate as to who.”

 

She blew out a huff. “If they’re more focused on what happens in my bed than anything else then that means Sansa isn’t speaking where any of them could hear her.”

 

“Or they respect her too much to say aloud what she is planning, or who she is working with," Missandei countered.

 

Daenerys stopped above the yard, strumming her fingers on the railing as she watched Jon show the boys and two little girls how to advance with their swords. “Any news from your little birds about the army of the dead?”

 

“Only that the Free Folk swear it’s true," Varys murmured.

 

“I believe it,” she said softly.

 

He whipped his head around, daring to scowl at her. “What proof do you have?”

 

“Jon Snow has proven to be a man of his word,” she answered crisply. “I can’t tell you how I know, but I’m asking you to trust me," she turned her eyes on him, "as your Queen.” 

 

Jon hadn’t told her she couldn’t tell anyone, but it felt like information he wouldn’t want spread around. It was hard to believe unless you actually saw the evidence and she couldn't imagine him being willing to bare his scars for all to see. The pain in his eyes as he'd shown them to her was proof of that.

 

Varys gave a slow nod. “If that’s the case, how do you propose we convince the others?”

 

“I don’t yet know. We need reports from the Wall. Last sightings of the army. Which direction they’re moving." She looked at him again, tearing her eyes from Jon for a moment. "As soon as possible."

 

Varys was quick to walk away and Missandei took advantage of their privacy. “How was your evening, Your Grace?”

 

She smiled and glanced at her friend who wore a smile as well. “Very enjoyable,” she said softly. “I don’t actually remember the last time I was so tired.”

 

Missandei’s smile widened. “I think I managed to find all the ties and pins that were strewn all over the floor this morning.”

 

Daenerys rolled her eyes. “I told him he was a slob.”

 

“And how did he respond?”

 

“He distracted me most thoroughly,” she answered with a quiet laugh. 

 

Missandei smiled. “And will you continue this?”

 

“I will.”

 

“I can take your hair down before he comes to your room?”

 

She shook her head and looked at her friend. “No. I rather liked his impatience. Can we make them more elaborate?” she asked.

 

Missandei chuckled and nodded. “I can, Your Grace.”

 

She turned to face her friend. “Then let's do that.”

 

“As you command.”

 

*~*

 

Banners for the Eyrie had been seen on the horizon, he and Daenerys both summoned soon after. They sat waiting, side by side, Sansa to his left, Tyrion on Daenerys’ right. Varys, Missandei, Grey Worm, and Qohno as well. Davos and Tormund rounded out the rest of his. 

 

He’d never met Petyr Baelish, but from all Sansa had said about the man, he didn’t trust him. Probably never would. No matter his issues with Sansa, he hated she’d been a victim of Ramsay Bolton and all because of the thin man walking toward him. The large older man at his side–white hair, long cream cloak, and a thick breastplate–had to be Lord Yohn Royce. 

 

They stopped at a respectful distance in front of the table, both men looking them all over. Baelish had a smirk on his face. Jon wondered if he would still be wearing it when he ran him through with Longclaw. Lord Royce was much more sour. Perhaps because of Baelish, or more likely Daenerys. Already, Jon disliked him.

 

Missandei stepped forward at the end of the table. “You stand in the presence of Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, First of her Name, Rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, The Mother of Dragons, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, The Unburnt, The Breaker of Chains,” she said, listing off Daenerys titles, calm and yet somewhat threatening.

 

“Your Grace,” Baelish greeted her with a slow bow of his head, voice soft and slippery as the snake Jon knew him to be. “We bring tidings from Lord Robyn Arryn of the Eyrie. He has allowed me to come to you today to proclaim the Eyrie in your service.”

 

Jon braced his hand on the arm of his chair, leaning on his other arm toward Daenerys. He cast a glance her way and noted she didn’t look any more impressed than he was. 

 

“You’ve proclaimed for other houses before, Lord Baelish," she returned, the honed edge of each word leaving no doubt who was in charge. "Why should I take your word?”

 

The snake's smile grew tight. “I have brought a considerable force to join with your men. And my Lord was very adamant that we align with you, Your Grace. He sees you, the last Targaryen, as the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.”

 

Her eyes cut to Lord Royce. “And what of you, Lord Royce? Do you share in your Lord’s sentiments?”

 

“My opinion does not matter, Your Grace. I do as my Lord bids.”

 

Lord Baelish cut his beady eyes at the man and Daenerys' narrowed. “I see. So, the only true support from the Eyrie that I actually have comes from your Lord who is but a boy and able to be manipulated by those older than him?”

 

“I assure you, my Queen, it was Lord Arryn’s suggestion,” Lord Baelish protested, his tone placating. “We have come to Winterfell to declare for you.” 

 

Jon watched the man's eyes slide to Varys, seeming to be searching for support. But the Spider did not give him what he sought, silent as usual, a smug expression upon his face. It interested him that the two seemed to have animosity toward one another. He wondered why, immediately becoming more irritated at the thought. Sansa would be the only one he could ask.

 

“We were waiting at Moat Calin to help House Stark take back Winterfell,” Baelish declared and Jon nearly vaulted from his seat.

 

He turned furious eyes on his sister, his every muscle trembling, jaw creaking, his fists clenched so tight they ached. She'd lied to him, not once, but twice. Sent him to die, their baby brother nothing but fodder to her. And the selfish bitch didn't even have the nerve to meet his gaze. 

 

A small hand came to rest upon his thigh, breaking through his red haze. She squeezed and he forced himself to breathe. “And why did you not contact Lord Snow?” Daenerys asked, clipped. 

 

“I am only familiar with Lady Sansa,” Baelish responded.

 

She gave him a hollow smile, her hand now back on the arm of her chair giving a twitch. “Yes, I am aware of your familiarity. You sold her to an evil man, well-known and belonging to the house who took this keep from her family. The same family who helped murder her brother and mother, her good sister, and her unborn child," she said, reciting his deeds for all to hear. "Now, tell me, Lord Baelish," she queried, head tilted, "Why should I believe anything you have to say?”

 

Lord Royce cleared his throat as he straightened, armor grinding, hands clasped behind his back, his already rotund chest and belly protruding comically. “Your Grace, it is true, all that you said. But Lord Robyn Arryn knows Lady Sansa. She is his family and it was her we were told to come to the aid of. She was our point of contact because she is who Lord Robyn knows. It was not meant as a slight against Lord Snow.”

 

“And now you’re here to declare your loyalty to me ,” Daenerys said, her tone sharp and even Jon had to admit it made the hair stand on his arms. “However, it was not me you wronged, Lord Baelish. It was Lady Sansa. And I don’t believe in denying someone justice if they wish to seek it.”

 

Jon turned to his sister again, praying to whatever gods might listen she would not cause more trouble. Her eyes dropped to her hands, face falling into a frown. “Your Grace, as much as I would like to only blame Lord Baelish for what befell me, he also saved me from King’s Landing. He saved me from one monster and delivered me to another monster.” Jon watched the man stare at his sister, the look in his eyes pleading and perverse. He was disgusted. “The Eyrie is an important part of the Seven Kingdoms, Your Grace," Sansa went on. "You will need it when you march south.”

 

He wondered what she was playing at, his ire flaring again, but he did not look at her, instead turned his head to share a look with Daenerys who looked none too pleased with her answer. “Very well. Lord Baelish, I accept your Lord’s forces and support. But understand something, my Lord, if you betray me or anyone else within these walls I consider my ally, I will burn you alive.”

 

Lord Baelish bowed his head. "Understood, Your Grace."

 

“We will provide rooms for as many of your men as we can," Sansa offered politely. Even smiling, then it turned malicious. "Though accommodations are growing tight," she finished. 

 

Jon wanted to throttle her, however, Daenerys laid a fleeting touch to his arm before turning to his sister with a sweet smile. “I suppose some of us will have to double up, Lady Stark.” He nearly snorted and had to bite back a smirk. She hadn’t looked shocked at Sansa’s words at all, but he could tell a few of the others in the room were by hers. She looked at him. “Lord Snow, do you have anything to add?”

 

He focused his gaze on Baelish, silent and staring for longer than was needed, relishing in the tension that grew thick within the room. “Only that I will be happy to drag him in front of your dragons, Your Grace, should he prove to be disloyal.”

 

She looked back at Lord Baelish and nodded. “There you have it. I’m sure Lady Sansa will see to your accommodations as this is her home. She's a wonderful host. I do request we meet tomorrow after you’ve broken your fast to discuss what you and Lord Arryn can provide. I will ask that Lord Snow and Lady Stark and their counsel join us.”

 

“As you wish, Your Grace,” Jon answered. 

 

Daenerys stood, everyone else rising as well, and she left the Hall followed by her counsel. Sansa spoke to one of the servants and the girl walked around the table and was soon escorting Lord Baelish and Lord Royce out of the Hall. 

 

Sansa turned to him the moment the doors closed behind them. “I want to speak to you in private.”

 

He bit back a retort, managing not to protest and followed her to their father’s solar. He still couldn’t call it his, probably never would. He removed his heavy cloak once inside–leaving the fur around his shoulders–and tossed it on the back of a chair before taking a seat. He waited, seething as she paced, until he could contain it no longer. “What is it?” 

 

She stopped, staring daggers at him. “You’ve firmly sided with her?”

 

“I haven’t pledged anything, Sansa, nor has she asked me to.”

 

“That’s not what I meant,” she hissed and stabbed a finger into her neck–in the exact same place he knew his own bared a telling red bruise. He probably should've been angered the queen had marked him so, for the trouble it was obviously causing, but he couldn't bring himself to care. He chuffed, wondering if she'd done it on purpose. To mark her claim. “It’s only been two days, Jon,” Sansa snarled.

He glowered at her. “What bothers you more? That you think I’ve given her something, or that it happened at all?”

 

“By happened , you mean you fucked her.”

 

He balled his fists up on the arm of his chair. “And if I did? How is that any of your business?”

 

She threw a hand out, eyes bulging. “Because of how it looks, Jon! No matter what she does now, people will know that you’re in her bed and you’ve been swayed,” she said, her tone suggesting he was the biggest fool she'd ever known.

 

“What has she done that offends you so? Rode in and saved all of us? Brought her own provisions to help care for her people so she’s not relying on us to do it? Brought two armies and three dragons and actually listened when I told her about the army of the dead?”


“She’s playing you!”

He was on his feet then, an accusing finger in her face. “The only person in this keep that has actively not told me something they should is you," he said, barely containing his fury. "You’ve yet to provide me with a sufficient excuse as to why you didn’t tell me about her armies. We could've better planned an attack. We might've been able to save Rickon but we didn’t get that opportunity because you didn’t tell me everything. And now I learn about the Eyrie forces stationed at Moat Calin." He leaned closer, eyes narrowed. "How long did you know they were there?”

 

She turned away from him, stalking across the room. “You’re not listening to me, again,” she deflected.

 

“No," he snarled, "You do not get to twist this around and make me feel like the bad guy, again. You've lied to me. You don’t want me to bend the knee to her, but right now I trust her more than I trust you, my own blood. Tell me what I need to know, Sansa. How long did you know about Littlefinger’s forces at Moat Calin? Please tell me it was after we left Castle Black.” When she didn’t answer he turned away from her and paced to the window. He feared he might strangle her otherwise. “Two armies," he hissed, "Two armies you knew were close that could help us, that could have saved thousands of lives, and you didn’t say anything.” He turned to her, the fire of his rage turned to cold hard ice. “You let Rickon die on purpose. Sent me to what you hoped was my death as well."

 

“No! He was my little brother! You're my brother. But I knew Ramsay. He had ways of knowing everything! I didn’t trust anyone, Jon," she ranted.

 

“I nearly died because you didn’t tell me everything," he said. "That’s very hard for me to match in my head with someone who could care about their brothers. I put the Free Folk on the line to help us with the assumption that we might be able to save Rickon’s life. What would've been possible if we had been able to use her dragons, her Dothraki, or his cavalry?”

 

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”

 

“I don’t think you are,” he retorted. “I think you were hoping I would die and then you could have Winterfell. I’m sure you thought you could convince someone with your tale of woe that you deserve the title as Queen of the North, and you might have been able to do it, but you have one obvious obstacle at the moment, and that’s me. Because I understand the debt that goes along with someone riding in to save my life. You feel indebted to Theon for saving yours. Imagine how I feel. And how relieved I am it was the Queen that rode to aid us and not Littlefinger. I’d hate to know how he’d want to be repaid.”

 

She shook her head. “I didn’t do any of it to hurt you,” she whimpered.

 

“Then tell me why. Make me understand.”

 

She frowned. “I told you, I wouldn’t live long if Ramsay won. But if he knew you had that force, he would've holed up inside Winterfell with his troops. And what would have been our answer? We wouldn’t have survived outside with winter coming. He would've found a way to get me back. They had to be a surprise.”

 

“One you couldn’t tell me.”

 

“The more people that knew the more dangerous.”

 

“An entire city knew before I did, Sansa. I’m you’re fucking brother!” he shouted, the fire rising again. “I promised I would look after you, but you didn’t give me the same damn courtesy.”

 

“I made a mistake.”

 

He leaned his fists against the table. “Are you the reason Littlefinger is here?”

 

She straightened. “For him, yes, it's personal.”

 

“And what does he want from you?”

 

She sighed. “What does it matter? He’s pledged to your queen.”

 

“If I bend the knee, she’s your queen, too,” he told her. “You don’t get to declare the North independent because you feel like it. You don’t get to make that decision on your own. The North can’t survive without the other kingdoms.”

 

“How do you know?” she asked, a grated whine in her tone.

 

“All those lessons Robb took on how to be a Lord of a keep… I studied with him. Maester Luwin and Father always said the North was part of the Seven Kingdoms because we all needed each other. This is not up for debate as far as I’m concerned.”

 

She rolled her eyes, crossing her arms across her chest. “So, you’re going to bend the knee?”

 

“Why shouldn’t I?" he snapped. "She came and saved us when she didn’t have to. Do you understand that? I mean really understand it? Not to mention she believes me about the army of the dead. We need her armies and her dragons to fight them. Yes, they’re an abstract thought to you, but they’re real. And you’ll be glad you have her here when they make it through the Wall, and believe me, they will find a way.”

 

She cast him a glance. “I believe you about the army of the dead.”

“Good, you're actually capable of rational thought, I was beginning to worry," he quipped. "Have you told your friend, Lord Baelish?”

 

She shook her head. “He wouldn’t believe me.”

 

“Something he and I have in common at the moment.” He took a deep breath and shoved away from the table. “As for Queen Daenerys and I, what I choose to do is my business. I didn’t die to live the rest of my life with regret and pain. If you don’t like it, I truly don’t care.”

 

“A woman like her knows how to play men, Jon.”

 

“The only woman who's played me recently is you. Tell me again how I shouldn’t trust her but trust you, instead.” 

 

He didn’t wait for her to respond, but left the room, gripping the hilt of his sword as he stormed down the hall and out into the yard. Calling for a sparring partner, he handed his fur off to Davos who caught it in surprise. The first man walked up to him and Jon loosened his belt, snatching it off and passing Longclaw to Davos as well. He grabbed one of the practice blades and with no warning he swung, sending the man crashing to the ground. 

 

He could feel the heat of her eyes on him and turned to find her standing on the crosswalk above, Missandei at her side, the dark woman whispering something to her that caused her smile. She gave him a nod before they continued walking. 

 

No, he was going to live the new life he'd been given to the fullest, seize every opportunity in front of him. And if that meant spending the rest of his days feasting and fucking the queen, then he’d gladly die doing just that.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

You strike a match, 
I light the flame I'd die for you
Falling on my weak and willing knees to the ground
Hands to my chest 
you showed me how
The rumbling in my heart goes pound for pound
Ohohohoh
My body, my bones, 
you got me by the spine
Ohohohoh
My body, my bones
Head to my heart to my waist 
to my thighs

Helpless,
Lay me on your fire
Burn burn burn
Oohooh oohooh
Oohoohoohoohooh
Oohooh oohoohooh
My body, my bones, 
you got me by the spine
My body, my bones
Head to my heart to my waist 
to my thighs

My Body, My Bones
Jim and Sam


Tyrion and Missandei had joined her. The three of them sat around the table in her solar, Tyrion sipping wine while flipping through a book he'd picked up somewhere, she and Missandei just enjoying the peace and quiet. Varys was still searching for information on who had been sending Sansa messages and Grey Worm was standing wait outside the door for her guest. 

 

The Little Bear.

 

Once Daenerys had learned she was in the keep, she had to meet her and quickly sent an invite. Lyanna had accepted and was due any moment. Normally meeting possible allies never rattled her, but for numerous reasons, she felt a bit on edge as she waited. Thankfully she didn't have to wait long.

 

Grey Worm opened the door and The Little Bear entered followed by two of her men. While her outward appearance showed the young girl she was, Daenerys could see a certain hardness around her dark eyes and in the set of her jaw, she knew all too well. Lyanna Mormont was no stranger to the hardships of ruling. 

 

She hated the fact children were forced to grow up so fast in their world. This one had been, and proved it when she decided to give her loyalty to the Starks, honoring ‘we know no king but the king the north whose name is Stark’ . She hoped she could sway the young girl to her side and knew to accomplish that it was of the utmost importance not to treat her like a child, but the leader she was. 

 

She stood and offered a chair to Lyanna and her advisors. The girl took it, not looking intimidated in the least. Her men stood sentinel behind her, hands on their swords.

 

She did not take offense, giving Lyanna a welcoming smile instead as she took up her own seat once again. “Thank you for coming, my Lady. It's a pleasure to meet you."

 

Lyanna remained stoic, her only response a few slow blinks.

 

Tyrion sniffed quietly beside her, no doubt disliking the rudeness. She discouraged him with a discreet shift of her finger, never taking her eyes from Lyanna's. "Your reputation precedes you, my Lady. I’ve heard talk in the keep you were one of the first houses to declare your loyalty to House Stark. A bold move in a dire circumstance. There are men who proved themselves to be cowards in that respect.”

 

“They have the luxury of not feeling loyalty to anyone,” the girl answered, appearing to have smelled something unpleasant.

 

She gave a slight nod of agreement. “It is those sorts of men others should suspect of deceit.” She tilted her head, softening her expression as she looked at her. “I’ve only heard short bursts, but how is it you came to inherit your seat at such a young age?”

 

As she suspected, the girl's hackles raised, her dark eyes glinting, little bow mouth pinched tight. “My age has nothing to do with my ability to care for my people.”

 

“No, it doesn’t," she was quick to assuage. "But I am curious, since I, too, was forced into the role of leadership at a young age. If I hadn’t done it, then my people would have suffered. Was it the same for you?” she asked, staying tactful.

 

Lyanna nodded curtly. “Bear Island is not a large territory. We have few people. But every life within its borders falls to me to protect. Ramsay Bolton was a monster who stole Winterfell from the Starks. My mother fell fighting for Robb Stark. My family was loyal to them. I continued that loyalty."

 

A sound answer, but she needed more. “Yet, Jon Snow is not considered a Stark,” she pressed, sure to keep her tone amicable.

 

“Ned Stark’s blood runs through his veins," Lyanna insisted, teeth snapping. "He fought for the lives of his men, mine, and every person in the North. He’s earned my loyalty.”

 

So fierce . Daenerys liked her already.

 

“And what of the Queen?” Tyrion asked, gesturing to Daenerys.

 

Daenerys cut her eyes at him, irritated at him for insinuating himself into their conversation. 

 

“I don’t know anything about her except she has two foreign armies and three dragons," Lyanna answered.

 

She turned her gaze back to the Little Bear. “And does that bother you, my Lady? You may speak freely. I will not hold anything you say to me today against you.”

 

“Again, I don’t know you,” Lyanna said after a moment.

 

Daenerys sat back in her seat. “What would you like to know?”

 

“What are your intentions with the North?” she asked, quick as a bolt shot from a bow.

 

“You have something specific in mind, I’m sure.”

 

“I do," she said. "My mother died fighting for Robb Stark in his pursuit of the crown. Will you be expecting our men to leave our lands to fight your war for it?”

 

Tyrion opened his mouth to speak but she held up her hand to silence him. “I can speak for myself,” she said cutting him off. She looked at Lyanna again. “How many men did you lose fighting for Winterfell and the Starks three days ago?”

 

“Twenty,” she answered. 

 

“Out of how many?”

 

“Sixty-two.”

 

She gave a nod. A much smaller force compared to the others she’d heard of. She tilted her head. “I think, in terms of Bear Island, those forces would be better used to keep order in Bear Island than marching South. We will deal with each house individually. I will not strip the North of its most important asset: its people. Not when I already have a great host of those.”

 

Lyanna raised an eyebrow, the first true expression she'd given since entering the room. “So, you won’t ask Jon Snow to bend the knee?”

 

Daenerys gave a slow, measured smile, wondering how much to give away and how much to hold close. She knew how the North held tight to their honor, expecting the same of others, and everything short of unwavering honesty was seen as a character flaw. Still, she wanted to poke at the Little Bear, see if she would listen or remain defensive. 

 

“Shouldn’t I?" she asked. "I did bring my armies and dragons to help him win a battle he was losing." She tapped her fingers on the arm of the chair and waited. When Lyanna held silent, Daenerys realized the girl understood the art of keeping things to herself and when to speak her mind. She let her off the hook. “I have not asked Jon Snow to bend the knee, nor has he offered.” 

 

Lyanna seemed to visibly relax at that and while it had Daenerys allowing a small smile through, tension hung in the air, so thick she could almost touch it. This girl had taken on the mantle of leader at a young age and so far she was wholly impressed by her. She knew Jorah would be as well. 

 

Sadness gripped her heart like a vice at the thought of her friend and advisor. Yes, he had betrayed her, but he hadn’t stopped trying to right the wrong he’d committed and by the time forgiveness had taken hold in her heart, it was too late and she was forced to send him away. “I don’t know if you’re aware, but your cousin, Jorah Mormont, was in my service until very recently.”

 

Lyanna's expression soured, her eyes hardening to burning coals. “He was a traitor to our house. A slaver," she spat.

 

She nodded, holding her gaze. “He was. But for the last several years, he helped me to free slaves, hundreds of thousands of them. He was by my side as we liberated the city of Yunkai. He protected me and my people more times than I can name.”

 

Daenerys could see her allowing the words to sink in, the hate lifting and a look of pride crossing her face. “And where is he now? Dead?”

 

“He contracted Greyscale,” she said softly. “I sent him to find a cure.”

 

“You sent him to die alone,” she whispered, her expression dark.

 

She shook her head. “Ser Jorah has followed most of my orders without question. I have no doubt he will follow this one.”

 

Lyanna grew quiet as she glanced at the other two beside her and gave a small nod. “Thank you for telling me about him. It’s nice to know he won’t die as a blight on our family.”

 

“Quite the contrary, my Lady. He saved my life and I hold him in the highest esteem.” She gave a small smile and Daenerys was glad of it. “Might I ask, my Lady, would you be against having me as your queen?”

 

“I don’t know you, Your Grace," she repeated for the third time. "I don’t know your policies, nor how you plan to rule the kingdoms.”

 

All true, so Daenerys could only nod. “You’re right. And that’s fair. I hope with time you will come to see the ruler I plan to be." She cleared her throat and sat straighter, moving them along. "I’ve heard Lord Snow has called for a summit. Will you be staying for it?” she asked.

 

“I will, Your Grace.”

 

“I'm pleased to hear it," she said. "I would ask something of you, if I may?"

 

The Little Bear's eyebrows rose, undoubtedly the only permission she would receive.

 

Daenerys bit back a smirk. "I would like you to attend the meeting I’m to have with Lord Baelish, Lord Royce, Lord Snow, and Lady Stark tomorrow," she told her. "You know this land as well as anyone, and its history it seems. I believe your opinion would be of value to me.”

 

Lyanna eyed her for a moment, mistrust flitting across her unblemished features before turning to a barely-there spark of pride. Allowing her cool demeanor to return, she finally gave a nod. “As you request, Your Grace.”

 

“Thank you," Daenerys answered with a pleasant smile. "For that, and for meeting with me. If it pleases you, you may take your leave. I've no wish to keep you from the rest of your day, my Lady.”

 

With one more curt nod, the young girl stood and walked out the door, her advisors following. Grey Worm closed the door behind them.

 

She looked around at the room gathering her calm before she turned her eyes on her Hand. “Tyrion, I know what you were trying to do, but understand who she is before you do something like that again," she reprimanded him.

 

“And who is she, Your Grace?” he asked.

 

“She is a young girl who was thrust into the role of leadership and is desperately trying to show that she can be counted on as any other leader. She’s smart and able to think for herself. But she realizes how it looks and expects people to talk down to her because of her age. I will not do that. She pledged her forces to help the Starks. I think we can say she’s smarter than some of the other lords of the North. More loyal, at the very least,” Daenerys finished softly. 

 

He gave her a penitent frown before shrugging off the scolding. “I do have a question,” he murmured after a few moments. She raised her eyebrows and waited. “Have you really not asked Jon Snow to bend the knee?”

 

“I have not.”

 

He looked more than a little perplexed. “Why? He probably would.”

 

She nodded. “I don't doubt it, but there's more to consider than just Lord Snow. I want to see what happens with these reluctant Northern lords, first. How they react to him after they didn’t come to his aid. Will they be apologetic? Or stubborn and defiant? Will he demand recompense from them? If so, how will they react to that? I’m wary of having him bend the knee before we know their minds. It needs to wait.”

 

“To what point or purpose?” he questioned. It was his job, but sometimes ire still crawled under her skin when he challenged her.

 

She turned to him, clasping her hands together. “I've no wish to go to war with people I just helped free, and I do not believe we can trust Sansa. You said she barely spoke to you when you sought her out.”

 

“Yes, that’s true.”

 

“Then we need to keep the option open that not only are we being played, but so is Jon.”

 

Tyrion's eyes narrowed as he sat back in his seat, scrubbing at his beard. “You’re so certain he’s not in on the plot.”

 

She had to work at schooling her mask of indifference. “I’m certain,” she assured him tightly. “He’s given me enough reason to trust his word.” Tyrion furrowed his brows and she didn’t like it at all. “Speak, Lord Tyrion.”

 

He sighed and looked around at the others but did as she commanded. “One night with him and you trust him so easily. You kept Daario at arm's length and he loved you," he said softly. He shifted in his seat and gave a wince. "I’m wondering if you’re thinking this through. I like Jon Snow. I believe he’s an honorable man, but, forgive me, Your Grace... I must wonder if your judgment isn’t clouded.”


“Clouded by lust?” she asked, her words cold, the fire burning within her blood decidedly not. “It isn't," she bit out, "but let me ask you this. How many men in this world have destroyed people in their attempts to slake their lust? I’m not doing that, at any rate. If and when I decide to continue bedding Jon Snow, that is my business and it isn’t up for discussion.”

 

“You made me your Hand to challenge you, to make you a better leader. I’m challenging your decision to trust him so willingly.”

 

She leaned into his space, her hands still folded in front of her. “Tell me, Lord Tyrion, have you ever questioned your brother on his choice of bedmate?" she asked. Of course, he didn't answer, only swallowed thickly. She went on. "How about Robert? Tommen? Joffrey? Or is this simply something I get the privilege of?”

 

He frowned, shaking his head slowly, looking on her as if she were a pitiful child not seeing the truth. “It’s different with you and you know why.”

 

“No, I’m afraid I do not. Explain it to me,” she said coldly.

 

He straightened and cleared his throat as he eyed his wine goblet. It was to his favor that he thought better of taking a sip. He met her icy stare with what she was sure he hoped was understanding. He couldn't possibly. “It’s harder in this world for a woman to scrape and claw her way into power. I know this, you know this. The last thing you need is people questioning the reasons for Jon Snow’s loyalty to you, or yours to him,” he advised.

 

While his warning rang with a bit of truth, she would not have her motives questioned. Not by him, not by anyone. “Should my loyalty come into question, Lord Tyrion, I will be happy to show those who doubt it to Grey Worm and let him demonstrate. I also think Lord Snow’s words to Littlefinger rang loud and clear. If you take issue with what I do behind closed doors, I suggest you find some way to reconcile it within your mind. I will not be held to a different standard than the others in this kingdom. Your own sister beds your brother," she spat. "Yet, I’m supposed to cower in the corner afraid of wagging tongues?” She shook her head. “I will not. You will not shame me into choosing what you want. And as for this topic, you will not speak of it again in terms of my ability to rule and instill loyalty into the people. Are we understood?”

 

His head twisted round, his brow furrowed. “But it will be seen as a liability to your rule," he tried again.

 

She shook her head. “Then you shut down the discussion. That is your job as my Hand, to see that my will is done and explained to others. If they still have something to say about it, then I could let Lord Snow handle them. I’ve seen him fight in the yard, I would welcome watching him have someone to actually fight,” she finished as she pushed out of her chair. She was done discussing it. 

 

She walked to her window and found Jon speaking with an odd pair. A short dark-haired man standing beside a blond woman, the largest woman she believed she'd ever seen. All dressed in armor too. A warrior woman. She was most curious and impressed.

 

A knock sounded on the door and she turned to see Grey Worm open it. Lord Varys stood on the other side and entered at her nod.

 

“Tell me you have some news.”

 

“I have heard from Castle Black. There appears to be much secrecy about what exactly happened to cause Jon Snow to leave his post, but he’d abandoned the title before Lady Sansa arrived. The Free Folk believe he’s some sort of god. I don’t know where that myth comes from. But I do have some information about Lady Sansa.”

 

“What is it?” she asked, knowing well why the Free Folk thought of Jon as a god and why he'd abandoned his post.

 

“The ravens were coming from two different people, Your Grace. Littlefinger and Lady Brienne of Tarth who had just arrived as I was coming to your room.”

 

She ushered Varys to her side and looked out the window again. “Is that Lady Brienne?”

 

“It is, Your Grace.”

 

“Who is the man with her?”

 

“Her squire, Podrick Payne.”

 

“Who is she to Lady Sansa?”

 

“She is her sworn sword. She’s a formidable warrior.”

 

She believed it. “Where has she been?” she asked.

 

“She went to speak with Brynden Tully, otherwise known as the Blackfish, on Sansa’s behalf to see if they would ride to help them retake Winterfell. But the Blackfish was holding Riverrun.”

 

“What happened to him?”

 

“The Lannister’s took Riverrun when Lord Edmure Tully, his nephew, handed it over to Jaime Lannister. The Blackfish went down fighting.”

 

She took a deep breath, mentally marking off another tick against Jon's sister. “She had three separate armies all potentially riding to her aid.” She shook her head. “Did he know about that one?”

 

“Yes, Your Grace.”

 

She chuffed. “Wonders never cease." She gave a nod of gratitude to Varys and glanced over her shoulder at the others. "The hour is growing late. I will take supper in my room. Be careful around the Keep.”

 

They all left quietly and she turned back to see Jon looking up at her from the yard. Resisting the urge to wave, she licked her lips and forced herself from the window. 

 

*~*

 

Tormund was at his side the instant Brienne and Poddrick disappeared within the Hall. “She’s back?”

 

Jon smirked and shook his head, knowing exactly who Tormund was speaking of. “She is.”

 

“Did she mention me?” he asked, one eyebrow raised in question, his blue eyes darting around the yard for a sight of her.

 

He chuckled. “I’m afraid not.”

 

“She wants me, secretly,” he said as he leaned his head towards Jon.

 

“I think it’s even a secret from her,” he quipped.

 

Tormund nodded as they watched Tyrion and Varys walk out of the tower where the queen was staying. He stuck an elbow into Jon's side. “I think she’s free.”

 

“Too many people watching,” he grumbled and glanced up at her window again only to find her not there. 

 

He was ready for the sun to set. Ready for everyone in the world to disappear so he could go to her–take her, claim her, make her his again, even if only for a night. He licked his lips, already missing the taste that had lingered there but was now all but gone. He wanted it back, filling his mouth, his head with her very essence. The dark need inside him to consume and devour her was almost a living thing. A beast pacing a cage.

 

“Why do you care?" Tormund grunted. "She’s a queen. Can’t she do what she wants?”

 

Jon heaved a sigh and ran a hand over his itchy beard before facing his friend. “Theoretically, yes. But it’s more complicated than that. Right now, I hold Winterfell, with Sansa, but the men that fought for us are looking to me. That technically puts me in charge of the keep as well as the interests of the North. If they think she’s seduced me into bending the knee to her, we could have a mutiny. I didn’t live through the last one,” he muttered, rubbing at the burning ache over his heart. 

 

Tormund clapped him on the back. “You died, Jon Snow,” he whispered. “Hard to believe you were brought back for all this pettiness and back dealing that the Southern twats partake in." He leaned in closer, his bushy eyebrows going up. "You know what’s coming for us and that we probably won’t live through it," he rasped. "Why are you wasting your fucking time down here when you could be up there fucking her?”

 

“Tormund...”

 

He put a hand on Jon’s shoulder and shook him a bit. “Is she asking you for anything? Has she asked you to kneel for her? Has she asked you to give her the keep or your men?”

 

“No,” he answered with a furrowed brow. 

 

A sly grin slowly stretched across his friend's face. “Then maybe that’s not what she’s after. I’ve seen men and women look at one another like you two do all my life. Sometimes it erupts into a fire and burns out quickly, but sometimes it endures. How will you know which you two have if you spend most of your time worrying about what other people think?” he questioned him.

 

Jon winced, his old demons still rising up to keep him down where he belonged. “She deserves better than to have her reputation ruined by me.”

 

Tormund shook his head and gave him a hard hit to the arm. “You southerners are mad," he growled as Jon shuffled to keep his footing, scowling at the brute he called friend. "Wasting time worrying about things like reputations that can be ruined with petty lies. You should be worried about more important things." He grabbed him by the neck of his gambeson and pulled them together, a shaking finger held to Jon's nose. "If a beautiful woman is willing to take you into her bed, you fucking go,” he argued, then shoved him away again. He straightened and adjusted his belt around his waist. “With that in mind, I’m done talking to you. I’m going to find my beauty.”

 

Jon watched him go with a reluctant smile. He glanced over his shoulder but she wasn’t in the tower window. “Jon Snow,” came her smooth voice, sending a shock of heat straight to his loins. He turned to find her walking toward him, two of her Unsullied guards at her back. She had her queenly mask firmly in place. He hated that it made him uneasy. “Would you mind escorting me out to the Dothraki camp?” she asked once she'd reached him.

 

He swallowed down his nerves and shook his head. “Not at all, Your Grace.”

 

He held his arm out to her and she slid her hand to rest over his forearm. They walked toward the gate in silence, though he couldn't keep himself from glancing at her. Her eyes cut to his, a tiny smirk caught in the corner of her full mouth. He wanted to lick it up, keep it for himself. “You may speak freely, Jon Snow,” she murmured and he threw a look over his shoulder at the two guards. She followed his gaze. “They only speak Valyrian.”

 

He was surprised at the surge of relief he felt, most of the tension leaving his body. “How was your day?”

 

“It started rather interesting,” she said with a sinful grin. “Then there was this boring business with a deceitful Lord come to pay fealty. But afterward, I did have a rather interesting conversation with Lady Lyanna Mormont.”

He smiled then, even missed a step. The two fiery women working together would be a marvelous thing to behold, he was certain. “She has more fight in her than most men I’ve met," he told her.

 

She nodded. “I’m very impressed with her. I’ve asked her to attend our meeting tomorrow.”

 

“You have?”

 

“Yes. She’s young, but she sees things differently than we do. She believes in loyalty and that sort of spirit should be rewarded.” 

 

They'd made it to the camp and the men immediately began calling out to her. Khaleesi! Khaleesi! She smiled and waved a hand in the air before turning to the two Unsullied guards behind them. The hard clipped language they spoke left her tongue with ease and the pair turned and walked away, leaving them to walk through the camp unescorted. They did, going deep into the heart of it before stopping at a large red and brown tent. 

 

Daenerys turned to him. “This is mine,” she said softly. He frowned, not understanding why she needed one. “The Dothraki set it up so their Khaleesi always has a place to sleep. Given that there are so many prying eyes inside the Keep and no one would dare walk through this camp without an escort, I think we’ll be safe, don’t you?”

 

He started smiling as he realized what her purpose was in bringing him there. But still, he hesitated. “We’re in the middle of their camp," he said lowly.

 

She nodded, biting back a smirk he could tell. “The Khaleesi needs to be at the center for all of it," she explained and took a step toward him, so close her sweet scent filled his head and stirred his cock to life. “There's a stack of furs inside," she murmured, a fingertip tracing one of the grooves within his gambeson, "and the Dothraki consider it a good thing if they can… hear a couple." Those bewitching blue-gold eyes lifted to his. She licked her lips. "Do you think you could make them hear me, Jon Snow?”

 

Gods, she was sure to be the death of him. 

 

"Aye, Your Grace. I’m certain of it,” he said, his voice having dropped to a low growl all on its own.

 

She slipped into the tent and he followed, quickly tying the flaps together behind them. When he turned, he wasted not a moment, pulling her into his arms and taking her mouth in a bruising kiss, her whimper only feeding his sudden frenzy. He backed them toward the stack of furs as he worked to get her coat off her shoulders and she tore at his sword belt. Longclaw clanged to the ground but he couldn't be bothered to worry at his sword’s abuse.

 

He caught her behind the legs and lifted her up and those strong thighs wrapped around his waist, arms tight around his neck as he crawled onto the stack and deposited her in the middle. Sitting back he tore at his cloak and tossed it across the tent, followed by her dragon chain. He got her boots off while she pulled her coat apart, revealing a light tunic, her breasts bouncing beneath. At the sight of her pebbled nipples straining against the fabric, he leaned down and took one into his mouth, her hands taking fistfuls of his hair as she bucked against him, gasping. 

 

Remembering how responsive she'd been the night before he cupped her breasts, sucking on the tips, one, then the other, through the thin fabric until she became impatient and pulled the tunic free from her trousers. He helped her get it off then tossed it to the growing pile of their clothes. Her nipples had tightened further in the chilly air and he lowered his mouth back to her, sucking the pebbled skin into his mouth and swirling his tongue around the tip as his fingers worried its twin. 

 

She was the best thing he’d ever tasted and he couldn’t bring himself to let go and focus on anything else. All that mattered was the way she clung to him, the feel of her writhing beneath him, the taste of her skin, and sounds of her moans sliding in his ears and down his spine. But soon enough she forced his head away and brought his lips back to hers, kissing, gasping, and biting as she worked to rid him of his gambeson. He helped her, showing her where the clasps were and together they got him down to naught but his trousers in the span of a few heated kisses. 

 

She was still wrapped in her leathers as well and as she continued to lick at his lips, he dug his fingers in and began tearing at the laces. Finally getting them free, he slipped his hand inside, his fingers finding damp curls and wetter flesh. His thumb teased around the little nub and she cried out. With a growl he took her mouth in a hard, dominating kiss, leaving her whimpering beneath him. She drove him utterly mad. He felt like he had no control over his actions, as if she poked and prodded the wolf within him awake, teasing and taunting him, intent on being ravished.

 

He would not deny her.

 

He took her with two fingers, then three, her slick scorching heat tight and gripping, fighting the invasion, yet yearning for it all the same. Her keening cries filled the tent and beneath them he could hear the wet squelching of her need as he drove his fingers into her again and again. Her silken walls suddenly clamped down on him, sharp nails digging into his shoulders and she tore away from his punishing kiss. He watched her shatter beneath him, head thrown back, mouth opened as she screamed, hips rolling against his fingers, body shaking.

 

He didn't give her time to come back to herself before he pulled away and was ripping her leathers down her legs. Then he was on her, mouth and tongue licking up her soaked slit, burrowing inside her still trembling cunt, feasting. She screamed again, fingers gripped firmly in his hair, thighs clenched tight around his head. He relished in undoing her, driving her into the same madness she did him. It was a drug he craved. 

 

She was thrashing and wailing beneath him, but it still didn’t slake his thirst. He turned his attention to the little pearl at the top of her sex, flicking his tongue over it before sucking it into his mouth and proceeded to devour her. His hands slid over her hips, up her sides and to her breasts, grabbing both, fingers pinching and pulling at her nipples harder than he normally would, but he was unleashed, unable to control himself. He would take all she would allow.

 

And soon enough her body began to convulse and shudder, her wild cries filling the tent. He released the little bud and eagerly licked up her release, starving for the salty, sweet tang, unable to get enough of it, of her. She gave a painful yank to his hair and he finally relinquished his feasting and moved up to her mouth. 

 

She kissed him, gasping and breathless while pushing his pants down his hips and over his arse, one hand already guiding him to her entrance. “Fuck me,” she hissed in his ear and a low growl rolled through his chest in response. 

 

He pushed her hand away and sunk himself deep in one driving thrust. She cried out, hands gripping his arse, nails biting into his skin. He leaned up and braced his beside her head, and drove into her again, and again, hard and fast, grunting with the effort. Her hips rose, meeting him thrust for thrust, her cunt grasping and pulling at him. Wanting to feel her come around his cock, he brought his fingers to her hard, swollen little bundle and circled it quickly. She jerked and trembled and soon she was falling, body bowed and stiff, no doubt to anyone who might have heard her what was happening inside the tent. Her walls squeezed and fluttered around him, holding him in a tight grip. He held still, buried deep, fighting not to spill inside her until she collapsed back into the furs.

 

He eased up and ground into her as he lowered his body to hers and took her mouth in another kiss, soft and easy, giving her time to recover and come back to him.

 

It didn't take her long, his fiery, demanding queen waking and pushing him off of her and onto his back. He didn't for a moment think she was done with him, so laid back and stroked his cock as he watched her rise to her hands and knees and crawl over his legs, facing his feet and straddling his hips. His cock briefly forgotten, he groaned at the sight of her lovely plump arse and dug his fingers into the soft flesh, kneading then pulling the cheeks apart as she grasped his cock and sank down. 

 

She gasped as he filled her and fell forward, bracing her hands on his thighs before slowly moving over him. He was lost, only able to function on an instinctual level as he took in the sight of his cock disappearing inside her, over and over again, swollen and soaked and scarlet from his abuse. Nothing had ever enthralled him more, stirred him to greater heights, nor baser needs. He gripped her hips and slammed her over him, then again and again, harder each time. He felt her fingers brush against him and realized she was touching herself. He was gone, groaning and thrusting into her hard before he spilled his seed inside her, and she was squeezing around him again, moaning, leaned back and riding them both to completion. 

 

Neither moved for several minutes, both breathing ragged, and he was trying to figure out how he was going to do anything other than this until the army of the dead arrived. She finally crawled off of him and moved to his side, curling into his arms and falling boneless. He held her as much as his exhausted limbs would allow, unable to remember the last time he felt so contented.

 

Time passed, how much he wasn't sure, but her fingers were caressing the mark she'd left on his neck, bringing him back to the world. He felt her smile against his chest. “Did you get many questions?”

 

All doubt she'd done it on purpose gone, he chuffed softly. “Sansa and Tormund,” he answered, his voice gruff with repletion. She'd drained all the cares from his bones.

 

“Hmm, and what did your sister say?”

 

He sighed, running a lazy hand over the curve of her hip. “Nothing that matters.”

 

She was quiet for a moment, then traced the sickled scar above his heart. “And Tormund?”

 

“Told me to stop wasting time with what other people think and seize the opportunity in front of me.”

 

She popped up on her elbow, and he opened his eyes. Her smile was as warm as the summer sun he remembered from his childhood. “Have I mentioned that I like him?” she asked.

 

He chuckled. “He’s rather fond of you, as well. The Dragon Queen ,” he mimicked, keeping his voice low in his throat, rough and deep like Tormund's.

 

Her laughter sounded like soft silver bells tickling his ears and he wished he were a clever man so he could draw it from her every day with witty words. “And what about you, Jon Snow?” she purred, nuzzling into his beard, kissing along his jaw. 

 

He was too relaxed for her question to stir his anxious nerves. “What do I think of you?” he murmured even though he knew what she had meant. She pulled back and gave a small nod. He brushed her thick braid off her shoulder, his fingertips ghosting over the satiny skin of her back. “I think it’s a miracle I’ve been able to walk around and carry on conversations with people when being with you is the only thing I can think of. Knowing you were watching me fight in the yard made me try that much harder to impress you,” he admitted as he rolled to his side and faced her, brushing his thumb over her lips, pink and full from his kisses. “I feel possessive and hungry for you. All the time."

 

Her mouth quirked up just a bit, eyes twinkling in the dim light. “I know that feeling well," she told him. "When you declared you would drag Lord Baelish to my dragons, I wanted to crawl to the floor and suck your cock. Watching you fight in the yard, all that aggression… Every time I see it, I want it pinning me to the bed and making me scream for you.”

 

His cock twitched at her words and he let out a groan, diving for her neck, gently nibbling as his hands roamed her curves, grabbing and grasping. “I know we need to be doing other things than this, but I simply don’t want to.”

 

He heard her smile. “I think that’s perfectly acceptable, I feel the same way," she admitted, her fingers sliding into his hair, little nails gently scraping across his scalp. His cock gave another surge. "Tyrion has been cautioning me to be careful. That people might find out and not to trust you so easily.”

 

Tyrion wasn't entirely wrong, Jon had said the same to Tormund not half an hour before, but he had her naked body pressed to his and nothing else seemed to matter. “I’ll thump him with my sword, and the others too,” he rumbled against her hair. 

 

She chuckled but pulled away enough her beautiful eyes caught his, turning to blue flames as they stared back at him, her soft hand stroking his cheek. “Being queen means I get to choose what advice I take. I’ll listen, but I can also think for myself and ultimately tend to do what I want.”

 

“Lucky me,” he said with a smile.

 

She hummed and kissed him, taking sucking pulls from his lips before laying back with a contented sigh. “Lucky for both of us, I think.” She stretched and his eyes slid over her body, so pale and perfect, and he nuzzled into her soft breast, licking his way up to its taut peak and taking it into his mouth. “Mmmm, Jon.”

 

“I can’t get enough,” he murmured and slid a hand down to her thigh and draped it over his hip. His cock swelled further at the wet heat of her cunt brushing against it and the sound of her gasp as she wrapped her arms around him, her toes flexing against his calf. 

 

*~*

 

She could still feel him inside her from only minutes before, but she wanted more. More of his touch, his mouth, his taste, his cock. She wanted the man and the animal within, the one that ravished her when they had entered the tent.

 

But the gentle and soft one was also as arousing as the beast. His body was rubbing against hers, fingers gripping, but not with the bruising force from earlier. His lush mouth kissed and suckled, licking and biting, but it was tame, almost playful. 

 

She pulled the band from his hair and his springy curls fell around his pretty face, tickling her skin as she ran her hands through them while his fingers gently caressed her wet folds, her center aching and tender from thorough use, but deliciously so. 

 

Once Jon set her on fire, it seemed the flames refused to be doused, her body responding to and relishing in his every touch, as if he controlled her, pulling her strings as easy as he would a puppet's. She thought he may be able to completely destroy her if he had a mind to. Simply fuck her into oblivion, burn her to ash. And she didn't think she would mind. 

 

A moan slipped free as he took a nipple into his mouth, a finger slowly slipping inside her, nothing rushed or frenzied about any of it. He released her breast and trailed warm and bristly kisses back to her mouth, taking her lips in smooth, languid kisses. They weren’t demanding but stole her breath just the same. The wolf was indeed gone, replaced with a lamb, and she found she desired them both.

 

He removed his finger and she gave a small whine of protest, but he shushed her, hitching her leg over his hip and sliding his thick cock back inside of her. She grasped at his shoulder as he pulled back, the slow drag of his heavy length causing her eyes to roll up into her head. He gripped her arse and held her still as he made shallow thrusts, barely pulling out before pushing back. She pressed her brow to his, staring into his dark eyes as she breathed in his rushing pants of air, whimpering with each thrust. She broke first, closing her eyes as the coil inside her snapped and she was once more falling apart in his arms, every wave crashing over her, leaving her clinging to him as he spilled inside of her. 

 

A deep sadness sank into her at the thought there would never be a child between them. She didn’t want to lament the things she would never get to have, so instead, she focused on the feel of his skin against hers, his breaths against her throat, and the rumble in his voice as he said her name. To leave his arms would take strength she didn’t know if she possessed just then. Thankfully she didn't need to.

 

His plush lips took hers in another sweet kiss and reality slapped her across the face, the shock of it nearly pulling her from his arms. He was dangerous. She was forgetting herself. She was falling into this world with him with very little, if anything, in place to catch her. She opened her eyes to put an end to it, some space at the very least, only to find him staring at her with the softest look upon his face. He probably didn’t even realize he was doing it, as sated and sleepy as he was. He was too beautiful by far, without and within, and she could only count herself blessed at that moment. 

 

So she shushed the voice of caution ranting inside her head, and leaned into his gentle caresses instead, placing a soft kiss to his cheek. She’d found a few moments of reprieve, some happiness in all the misery of the world. She was going to hold onto it as long as she could. 

 

“Do you still want to have dinner?” he questioned not long after.

 

She propped up on her elbow and looked down at him. “Do you?”

 

He gave her a lazy smile. “Anything to continue being with you.”

 

She bit her lip, smiling despite herself. “Such a sweet talker, Jon Snow.” She noticed the light outside was fading and sighed. “I suppose it's time to get dressed and go back to the Keep. You will be staying for longer than dinner, won’t you?”

 

He gave a throaty chuckle. "Aye. And I won’t leave the bed without waking you up first.”

 

“You’re a fast learner, Jon Snow," she told him, tugging on his beard. "I like that.”

 

*~*

 

Their walk from the camp was met with slaps on the back for Jon and wide smiles for her. Daenerys laughed after noting the blush on his face. 

 

“How did word spread so quickly?” he grumbled, more than a bit embarrassed. She made a brazen cock out of him at times, a green boy at others. 

 

“It wasn’t all that quickly, Jon,” she reminded, gesturing to the darkening sky. 

 

He gave a small smirk. “I suppose it wasn’t.”

 

“Will I see you in an hour?” she asked as they made it into the Keep. Her guard was following them again.

 

“You will, Your Grace. Anything you’d like me to bring?”

 

She winked at him. “You’re more than enough for me, Jon Snow.” With that, she left him in the middle of the courtyard. Davos fell in step beside him as he walked toward the Hall. “Were you looking for me?”

 

His old friend shook his head. “No. But now that you’ve asked, where have you been?”

 

“Touring the Dothraki camp with the queen,” he lied but found it slipped off his tongue easily enough.

 

Touring . Is that what we call it now?” he asked, a grey eyebrow raised in jest. 

 

“If anyone should ask what I was doing, aye,” he was quick to answer then looked over at him with a smirk. “And you can also tell them to fuck off.”

 

Davos chuckled and gave him a hefty pat on the back. “Good for you, lad.”

 

Jon stopped and stared at him, scowling a bit. “Tormund said the same earlier. Is everyone in agreement this is a good thing?”

 

“I don’t know about everyone,” he answered.

 

He rolled his eyes and resumed his path to the Hall. “If you’re speaking of Sansa, she’s already made her feelings about it very clear.”

 

“You’ve stopped trusting her.”

 

“Aye, I have." He threw him a sideways glance. "Do you blame me?”

 

Davos shook his head. “No. I don’t like what she did. How many of our men died because we didn’t know the whole truth? Your brother?” He ran his tongue across his teeth and kissed them. “You think she wants Northern independence. But she doesn’t get that, now. You foiled her plan by living through the battle, though she could try getting you out of the way again if the queen was somehow rendered powerless to stop her. Is she willing to do what it takes to achieve that, you think?”

 

He frowned. “I don’t know. But I think she has an ally here in the castle who would do anything to see himself on the throne, possibly her with him.”

 

“Ah, yes, Lord Baelish." Davos leaned closer and lowered his voice. "We could kill him in his sleep.”

 

Jon shook his head. “No, he's a conniving coward, I'll not give him an easy death, but I don’t think threats will work, either. And as long as Sansa is listening to him, they’re both dangerous for the North.” He stopped again and held Davos' faded blue eyes in a pointed stare. “You’re rather good at smuggling, from what you've said. How are you at spying?”

 

*~*

 

Missandei twisted the last braid into her hair and tucked it beneath the others. Daenerys smiled as she felt them, the intricate braids making a crown around her head, smaller ones flitting in and out of the others. She chuckled as she turned to face her talented friend. “Perfect.”

 

Missandei's smile was sly. “I came by earlier to get a start on it but you had already left.”

 

She nodded and took a sip of her wine. “Yes. I took Jon out to tour the Dothraki camp.”

 

Her friend chuckled. “Because there is an empty tent for their Khaleesi and who would be fool enough to follow you with a Dothraki horde watching? Very clever, Your Grace.”

 

“I thought so. How have you been spending your evenings?”

 

Missandei turned to her, her eyes a bit wider. “Your Grace?”

 

“I know you love him. Does he?” she asked softly.

 

Missandei looked down at her hands, a tiny crease forming between her brows. “I think he does.”

 

Daenerys sighed. “Don’t wait, my friend. We don’t know what this war will bring.”

 

“That is wise advice, Your Grace. But what do you do when you are frightened?”

 

She shrugged. “I carry on. I must. I can’t stay still. I can’t look back. I can only move forward.” Missandei slowly nodded. “He’s off duty tonight. Invite him to dine with you," she suggested.

 

Missandei took a deep breath and gave her another nod. “I will. Thank you, Your Grace. I shall leave you to your evening.”

 

She gave Missandei’s hand a squeeze then watched her leave, before taking her goblet of wine to the window and looking through the frosted glass. A few braziers and torches were burning in the yard, some people still milling about, but for the most part, the Keep was turning in for the night. She was grateful, more than ready for another dinner with Jon.

 

Someone moved in line with her window and stopped, seeming to be staring up at her. She wiped at the glass, squinting to see if it might be Jon. Just as she stepped to the side to get a better view the glass shattered, a quick whirring passing by her ear as she spun around, throwing a hand up to shield herself.

 

Her momentum dropped her to the floor as a loud thwack sounded behind her. She glanced up toward the noise and spotted an arrow embedded in the wooden beam near the ceiling. Her door flew open, bouncing off the wall, two of her Unsullied rushing in, followed by Jon who had pulled his sword. Shattered glass covered the floor beneath her and wine soaked into her gown, cool and sticky. She could hear shouting in the yard below, but her vision was suddenly filled with Jon. 

 

“Your Grace? Are you alright?” His words were rushed, full of concern and she let him help her to her feet and pull her from the window. “Your Grace,” he hissed as he took her hand and she saw the glass sticking out of her palm. Tyrion and Grey Worm rushed into the room. She, however, was solely focused on the pain in her hand. 

 

“Fetch the Maester,” Jon ordered, to who she didn't know, but she heard running feet fade from the room.

 

Tyrion stepped forward. “Your Grace, what happened?”

 

She looked over at her goblet still lying on the floor and then at Jon, still carefully examining the glass shard in her hand. “I was standing in front of the window and someone fired an arrow at me.” She nodded her head toward the offending object.

 

Several colorful curses left the men's lips. Jon stepped away long enough to yank the arrow free from the wood. He looked it over, then handed it off to Tyrion, coming back to her side.

 

Grey Worm gave orders to the two Unsullied not to let anyone except the Queen’s councilors into the room and left. The Maester was stopped at the door but Daenerys told them to let him in. He took over from Jon, having brought his supplies with him. He motioned her toward the table as Jon moved to the window. She sat, but her eyes were firmly fixed on him. Watching him would distract her as Maester Wolken worked to remove the piece of glass, clean, and stitch up the wound. He looked much like he had the day she met him, angry, on edge, barely held together. A wolf tensed and ready to stalk his prey.

 

Grey Worm came back into the room with Tormund and Davos just as the Maester was tying off the last stitch. “We heard the glass break and saw the man who fired the shot," Davos told them. "When we got to him he’d already taken some poison, died right in front of us.”

 

“Said ‘The Lannisters send their regards’,” Tormund finished and looked at Tyrion. “Aren’t you a Lannister?" he asked as he gripped the hilt of his knife and took a menacing step forward. 

 

While she appreciated the Wilding's protectiveness toward her, she couldn't let it go too far. “Tyrion didn’t do this,” she said. Tormund stilled immediately. “Your sister?” she asked Tyrion, feeling a fiery rage burning through her blood as the maester bandaged her throbbing hand.

 

“Probably.”

 

Jon stepped up to the table. “Maester, I want that man’s body kept until I can come to view it. I will be staying and discussing security measures for the Queen for now. Inform my sister of what’s happened and tell her I’ll meet with her in the morning to discuss further security for those in the Keep.”

 

“Yes, my Lord.”

 

Wolken left the room and a maid entered followed by Missandei who shared a worried look with Grey Worm before coming to her side and checking on her. They all stayed silent as the maid cleaned up the wine and glass from the floor and quickly left. Grey Worm barred the door behind her and Jon closed the shutters over the window. 

 

“I’ll have someone repair the window tomorrow morning,” he said softly, yet she could feel his barely contained rage as he stepped closer and gently lifted her hand to inspect. “Your Grace, are you sure you’re alright?”

 

She nodded. “I’m fine. The Maester did a fine job with the stitches,” she said, hoping that if he saw she wasn’t rattled he would calm. 

 

“As I said, she is little but she is mighty,” Tormund said with a smile. She gave him a small one in return.

 

Tyrion looked around the room and heaved a sigh. “We need to know who that man was and if Cersei really did hire him.”

 

“And what?" Jon snarled. "Hope she doesn’t hire someone with a better plan than shooting an arrow at a window? They weren’t trying to kill her, they were sending a message that they could, at any time, take her out with an arrow.”

 

“And what do you believe the solution is?” Tyrion huffed.

 

“Armor,” he said with a nod. “At the very least, chainmail.”

 

That had some merit, though she wanted to complain about wearing the extra weight. Pressing her fingers into the wound on her hand, she reminded herself the extra weight could save her life. “At the least,” she said, her eyes catching Jon’s. 

 

He looked aggrieved, so full of sadness under all the anger. She’d get everyone out of the room and then she’d let him comfort her and she’d comfort him in return. 

 

She stood and looked over the others in the room. “All of you, please go back to whatever it is you were doing and if anyone asks I’m fine and Lord Snow is pacing his room trying to determine what to do to keep his people safe.”

 

Tyrion started to protest but she closed him down with a gentle hand on his shoulder. He gave her a brief nod and left the room, Grey Worm lingered though. “I will stay beside your door, my queen.”

 

She shook her head. “No. I have guards for that and Lord Snow. Protect Missandei,” she said softly. He looked torn and she gave a single nod for him to comply. He did, closing the door behind him. Daenerys locked it and turned to find Jon a step away. 

 

He closed the distance and pulled her into his arms, hugging her tightly. “Are you sure you’re alright?” he whispered as he pulled back and examined her hand again.

 

She nodded. “I’m a little shaken up. Quite furious.”

 

He cupped the back of her head and brought her lips to his. It was a soft kiss, reverent, careful. She loved and hated it. She didn’t want him treating her like porcelain. She bit his bottom lip, her hand clenching in his hair. His fingers dug into her tighter, but she could still see hesitation in his eyes. “Let go, Jon. Take me to bed,” she whispered.

 

He lifted her from her feet and carried her into her bedroom, then put her down again, moving to close each of the shutters as she kicked off her boots and undid the laces of her dress. She had it almost done when he joined her and pulled the laces apart, dragging the sleeves down her arms and kissing all the newly exposed flesh. 

 

“Jon,” she sighed as she pushed him to the bed and onto his back. Those big dark eyes watched her every move as she lifted her skirts, revealing she hadn’t been wearing her trousers, before she climbed up and straddled his hips. 

 

He was quick to reach beneath her skirts and untie his own laces. His heavy cock sprang free, brushing against her inner thigh and she slid a hand over the hot, hard flesh, once, then twice, before bringing him to her entrance and seating him inside her. She was sore, still swollen, the ache a constant pulse within her, but there was nothing more she wanted than for him to take her again. To banish all other thoughts from her mind.

 

She dropped her head back and braced her hands on his slightly raised thighs for leverage and ground her hips over him. Jon laid back, gripping them as she rolled over him again and again, but then he suddenly sat up, both arms going around her and holding her close. One hand gripped her shoulder, the other wrapped around her waist, fingers digging into her hip. He took one of her straining nipples into his mouth and she moaned as his tongue and teeth worked it over. She rode him harder and faster, her hands braced on his shoulders as she bounced, wishing she had insisted they both be naked so she could enjoy all of his beautiful body. But the immediate need to have him fill her had been overwhelming. 

 

She was close, so close, and he must have sensed it because one of his hands slid beneath her dress and his talented fingers found her little nub and circled around it, as he hissed words into her skin, ‘mine’, ‘protect’, and the one that sent her over the edge, ‘always’.

 

Jon followed her only seconds later, his breathing ragged against her skin, and she clung to him. Neither made an attempt to move, her fingers stroking through his hair and his arms still holding her close. 

 

He kept his ear to her chest, no doubt listening to her heart as it climbed down from its high. She sat back and began undoing the clasps of his gambeson and he jumped in to help. Once they relieved him of it, they tossed it to the floor together, followed by the quilted jerkin beneath, and last his tunic. She climbed off him, wincing as his cock slid free. 

 

He gave her a worried frown. "Did we hurt you?"

 

"Only a bit sore," she assured him with a smile and kiss. 

 

Assuaged, he kicked off his boots and quickly discarded his pants, then helped her remove her dress, leaving it in the pile beside the bed. She let him pull her back to his front only for him to make an indignant sound in her hair. “How do you have more braids since we got back from camp?”

 

She giggled, delighted to have irked his patience. “I like feeling your hands in my hair,” she confessed. 

 

The first pin went whizzing by her head and onto the floor, then another. She had to bite back her laughter as he grumbled, having got one braid undone only to realize it was made up of braids. They sat in silence with Jon occasionally cursing as he threw another pin to the floor. When he was finished, he wrapped his arms around her belly and pulled her back to the pillows with him. 

 

“Tell me the truth, are you really alright?” he asked as soon as they had settled comfortably, seeming to fit together like puzzle pieces.

 

She took a deep breath and gave his stomach a soothing rub. “Rattled, but I feel better with you.”

 

“Dany...”

 

She stiffened and pulled back to look at him. When had she last heard that name? Her brother? No one else had ever been so bold. 

 

His eyes filled with concern. “What is it?”

 

“I just haven’t heard anyone call me that in a long time.”

 

“Oh.” A dark look crossed his face and he glanced down to where he was holding her hand. “I can call you Daenerys.”

 

She turned his face to hers, releasing a soft breath having realized the darkness wasn’t directed at her but in knowing the name had probably hurt her. “No. It feels right hearing you call me that. I like it,” she admitted and tucked her face away from him, in that perfect shallow between his neck and shoulder.

 

It was all too much. Part of her wanted to send him back to his room so she could put both physical and emotional distance between them, needing to control the thing growing so quickly within her, and him as well. It was a vine, entwining around them, pulling them closer and closer together, binding them tighter to one another. She should find a hatchet and cut it away, but she didn’t have the heart to. She wanted him there, holding her, comforting her, protecting her. They were the silly sentiments of a little girl who craved stories of heroes, she knew, but she had been the hero of her own story for so long it was hard to let someone else step into the role. Her gaze ran over his scarred chest and she breathed deep. She could let him be her hero. Just for a while.

 

*~*

 

The stroking of her fingers over his stomach had him remembering her hand and he pulled it up in front of him. 

 

There were a few small blood droplets on the bandage, he peaked beneath it to make sure her stitches hadn’t popped. Thankfully they hadn't.

 

But seeing them only served to make him angry all over again. She reached up and smoothed her thumb over his brow, tracing over the deep lines he was sure were there. He brought his eyes down to meet hers. “I thought I was going to be sick seeing you on that floor. I didn’t know if you’d been hit...”

 

She cupped his face, her thumb running across his cheekbone. “I’m fine, though," she whispered. "Still here.”

 

He frowned at her. “How are you so calm?”

 

She shook her head. “I’m not. I want to dig my fingers into that man and rip him apart, but I can’t.” She leaned up and pressed her lips to the scar over his heart. “This is not the first time someone has tried to kill me, either.”

 

That knowledge had his wolf raging and pacing behind the bars of its cage. "I'll kill any man that dares to threaten you again."

 

She smiled, sliding a hand up to cup his neck and stroked her thumb over his jaw. "So protective," she murmured, "but I could say the same of you."

 

That brought some calm to his troubled thoughts, some warmth to heat the cold around heart. So many had wanted him dead over the years, some succeeding, having the Dragon Queen for a champion was enough to bolster any broken soul in his estimation.

 

He pulled her back into his arms and allowed himself to relax. They dozed for a time until a knock sounded on the solar door. Their dinner had arrived. 

 

They sat on her bed, leaned back against the headboard, propped up on pillows, platters of food in their laps. He had no idea what the hour was, and as they shared a goblet of wine between them, he didn’t actually care. “I have a direwolf,” he said after a few beats, deciding to fill the silence, even if it had been comfortable.

 

She tilted her head, her pretty eyes going wide as she looked over at him. “You do? Where is it?”

 

“Ghost comes and goes as he pleases. Last time I saw him he was heading into the woods to hunt. I sent him away just before the battle. Not that he hasn’t seen battles before, but...I saw what Ramsay did to Shaggydog and I wanted him away from it all.”

 

“Who was Shaggydog?” she asked before she licked some sauce from her fingers.

 

He turned away from the arresting image and looked at his plate, thinking of his baby brother. He wished it was only his young smiling face he could see and not the one of a terror-filled teenager. “He was Rickon’s direwolf.”

 

She was silent as she set her platter on the table beside the bed and turned back to him, a gentle hand coming to rest on his thigh. “Did you all have one?”

 

He nodded. “I don’t know what Bran named his, though. I left for the Wall before he ever woke up.” He took a deep breath. “Robb had Greywind, Sansa and her Lady, Arya's was Nymeria, Rickon had Shaggydog, and I had Ghost. I think Ghost might be the only one left. I found them all when we were out with father one day."

 

“You said he’s been in a battle before. When and where?”

 

“When the Wildlings attacked Castle Black. The other brothers of the Night’s Watch, the ones who hated me, didn’t like him being at the keep. We were supposed to let go of our former lives. But Ghost was as much a part of me as anything else. He pretty much went where he wanted anyway.” He looked up at her and found her giving him a soft smile. 

 

“I know that feeling," she said. "You’re bonded with him.”

 

“I’d have wolf dreams,” he admitted. “I’d dream I was him, hunting, chasing, running.”

 

“You don’t have them anymore?”

 

“Not since I came back,” he said as he leaned over and placed his platter on top of hers. “So much has changed since then. I feel like a different person.”

 

She tilted her head and moved to lay across the foot of the bed, propping her head in her hand. “Do you think it might be a side effect of the spell or the betrayal you suffered that changed you?”

 

“A little of both, probably.” He didn’t like the conversation turning on him and instead raked his eyes over her body. He shook his head, a worrying thought occurring to him. “Do you mind if I ask you a question?”

 

“I suppose that depends on the question,” she answered, eyeing him warily. 

 

He found it hard to push the words past his throat, but he needed to know, so he did. “Why me? You could have any man, any woman, you lay your eyes on. So, why choose me?”

 

She reached out and ran a hand along his foot. “I respect strength. I’m extremely attracted to warriors, and I found both in you from the second we first locked eyes.”

 

He chuffed, remembering the stench of blood and shit and mud that had clung to him. “Must have been a grizzly sight.”

 

She nodded and sat up, crawling over his legs and further still, until they were eye to eye. “You were. But you were also glorious,” she breathed as she pressed her lips against his and kissed him thoroughly. When she pulled away she was smiling, a soft hand stroked down his cheek. “I was pleasantly surprised when you cleaned off the muck and there was this comely face beneath. I made the decision after our first conversation that I would have you.”

 

His heart gave an odd twisting thump behind his ribs, but he smiled nonetheless. “After our first real conversation, walking in the Godswood, I know that's what I wanted more than anything.”

 

She settled herself onto his lap and moved into his arms. He couldn't keep his hands from smoothing over her bare skin, sliding through her silky moonglow hair. “It appears to me, Jon Snow, we found each other for a reason," she told him, fingertips scraping through his beard. "We were in two different parts of the world, helping people, fighting for them, and yet here we are, in your family’s keep. Together.”

 

“I thought you didn’t believe in myths and legends.”

 

She smiled at him, then bit her lip to contain it. “I don’t," she answered, running her hands up his chest and up into his hair. "But I feel like you could make me believe in things I never thought existed before,” she said, words barely above a whisper. 

 

He pulled her closer, pressing his lips against her pulse, breathing in her scent, wanting to drown in it. “And what will your allies say if they know you’re beddin' a bastard?”

 

She took a handful of his hair and lifted his head and shook hers at him, her eyes blue flames. “It doesn’t matter what they think. I’m a queen. I won’t be told who I can and can’t sleep with when no one would dare say the same thing to a king.” The fire within her seemed to recede and she placed a sweet kiss on his lips. “Besides, I plan to build a new world. I want you to be part of it.”

 

That had him sitting back. He'd wondered when the question would come, it seemed it had, but he wanted to be certain. “Are you asking me to bend the knee?” 

 

She shook her head. “No. I’m asking you to be part of my world, Jon Snow, and I’m asking you to let me into yours.”

 

His heart gave another odd twisting flip and he captured her mouth in a kiss, easily agreeing without knowing any specifics. Was he a fool for falling for pretty words out of an even prettier mouth? He was sure some would say yes, but at the moment, he really didn’t give a damn what any of them thought.

 

Chapter Text

 

 



If I'd be so inclined to climb up beside you

Would you tell me that the time just isn't right?

And if I should ever find the key you hide so well

Will you tell me that I can spend the night?

Leaving your smell on my coat

Leaving your taste on my shoulder

I still fail to understand what it is about this woman

If l could bottle up the chills that you gave me

I would keep them in a jar next to my bed

And if I should ever draw a picture of a woman

It is you that would come flowing from my pen

Leaving your clothes on my floor

Making me walk out the door

And I still fail to understand 

what it is about this woman

Helplessly melting as I stand next to the sun

As she burns me, I am screaming loud for more

I drink every drop of liquid heat that I've become

 

Woman

Maroon 5




She woke up to the cut in her hand throbbing and the press of an eager cock against her bottom. His arm was draped around her, his slow, steady breaths warm as they ruffled her hair. She smiled, ignoring the pain in her hand for all the other pleasant things around her at that moment. She moved slowly and carefully from his hold, not wanting to disturb him yet, and turned over.

 

The light in the room was dim, the fire in the hearth having grown low, only a soft glow coming from it. A few candles were still burning as well, guttering above the last bit of wax, and dawn was just beginning to break through the windows. They had an hour at least. 

 

She gently nudged Jon to his back, so she could survey him better, her beautiful lover. His hand reached for her, only settling once he’d touched her skin. She couldn't help but smile.

 

He looked so peaceful, inky lashes resting against pale cheeks, lips perfect and plump and pink, open slightly, a soft snore slipping from them. She bit back a small laugh and swept her eyes down his sculpted chest to the vivid red scars that stood out against his otherwise porcelain skin. All her humor vanished. She hated even the thought she might have missed this had he not been returned to the land of the living. Those monsters had almost taken him from the world. Had for a time as she thought of his words. Two days. He was gone for two days. Yet here he was, alive, warm, breathing. The magic that had brought him back to life, that flowed through his veins even now, was extraordinary. He was extraordinary. 

 

Perhaps fashioned just for her.

 

She turned her eyes to where his cock pressed upward against the furs. Biting her lip, she inched herself beneath them, then between his legs. He'd done his best to please her the morning before, far succeeding her expectations. It was her turn to do the same to him. 

 

Flattening her tongue, she licked up the underside, along the thick vein, to the tip, swirling once, then again. It jumped for her, just as she hoped it would, and she was ready, wrapping her lips around the plump head and giving it a slow, soft suck. A muffled groan reached her ears, then a hand cupped the top of her head and the furs were pushed to her shoulders. She didn't pause in her attentions, leaving open mouthed kisses over the length of him, down to his heavy stones and back again, eyes meeting his before she sucked him into her mouth once more. His heated gaze set her aflame, the pink tongue slipping out to taste a full bottom lip making her cunt give a hard clench. 

 

She rose up onto her knees, thighs pressed together to counter the ache between them and sank her mouth over him, taking him deep, then deeper still with each sucking pull and push she made. He had a handful of her hair gathered firmly in his hand, but he didn't force her down, only held on as he thrust into her mouth a few times before she popped off of him and smiled. “Good morning,” she murmured, hand stroking up and down his cock, holding back a shiver as his inky eyes stared into hers. 

 

“It certainly is,” he rumbled, his fingers sliding through her hair and tucking some behind her ear, his tongue peeking out to wet his lips again. 

 

He was too delicious by far and she wasn't nearly done with him. She bent back to her task, licking and kissing and taking the head between her lips again, flicking her tongue against the slit as her hand rose to meet her descending mouth. 

 

Jon spread his legs, giving her more room, his hips rising to meet her. “Fuck, Dany,” he gasped as she swallowed him down then released him with a sucking pull. She crawled toward him, allowing his cock to rub between her breasts, and continued up to his mouth, giving him a thorough kiss. 

 

Lips never leaving hers, he rolled her to her back, his rough hand sliding over her belly and down to her folds, searching fingers finding her swollen and wet. He groaned and sucked on her neck and already past aching she pushed his hand away and pulled him over her, wrapping her legs around him, grinding her greedy cunt into his cock. 

 

Jon apparently had other ideas. He paused for a breath then sat back on his knees, one foot dropping to the floor. Her hips were grasped in his hands and he yanked her to him, turning her to her side and pressing both of her legs together. The firm head of his cock bumped against her entrance and she grabbed one of his wrists as he drove forward. 

 

She cried out at being taken so quickly, the sensation almost cutting, but exquisite, stretching her, filling her. It was different, a new angle, pressing in places she hadn't been aware could feel so good. And it gave her a delightful view of Jon as he sunk himself into her over and over again, curls tangled and wild, pitchy eyes focus where they joined, watching himself give and her take. His every muscle was tense and flexing, his pale skin almost glowing in dawn's early light, sinful mouth open as his breath rushed through. His hips snapping against hers, each wet lurid slap seeming to push them both closer to the edge. 

 

He dropped over her and gripped the back of her neck for extra leverage, every thrust of his cock inside her faster, deeper than the one before. The sounds he was evoking from her were shameful, but mixed with his grunts and groans of pleasure she could only be proud. 

 

None had ever matched her desires so well, she truly was beginning to believe he'd been made just for her, and her for him.

 

She ran her hands along his chest, her thumbs tracing over his nipples before she gave them a  sharp pinch to test him. He growled at her, eyes narrowed and glinting, then snatched up one of her hands, bringing her fingers to his mouth to first kiss, then suck as he stared into her eyes. She gasped, not knowing she could be stirred in such a way–the heat, the slide of his tongue, the bite of his teeth, those eyes –all of it going straight to her cunt which clenched and grasped at his cock, her hips straining to find just the right angle. He let them slip from his mouth and she brought them to her nipple, sliding them around the aching tip. 

 

She just needed a little more and teasing him was quite enjoyable.

 

He growled again, leaning down and taking the wet flesh it into his mouth, his dark hair shielding him from view. But she could see his arched back, muscles bunched and rippling as he pounded into her, over and over again. Could feel his teeth and tongue, sharp then soothing, his wicked mouth suckling at her, driving her nearly mad. 

 

She made an eager yet frustrated whine, her body struggling beneath him, desperate to find release, and he sat back and brought her top leg over his shoulder, spreading her open. He snarled at the sight of her, a deep rumble rolling from the chest, then he was driving into her again, his fingers working over her clit– quick, brushing strokes, the pressure enough to have her eyes rolling back in her head. She'd already been so close, she quickly fell apart beneath his clever attentions, chanting his name into the pillow on gasping breaths. He suddenly pulled out of her and his hot seed spilled against her cunt and arse. She turned heavy eyes on him as he sat back, chest heaving, brow covered in a sheen of sweat, his cock still fisted in his hand, slowly stroking and squeezing as he admired his work with lusty eyes.

 

She nearly came again just at the sight of him. “Is that your way of claiming me, Jon Snow?” she asked with a smirk.

 

Those dark eyes met hers, burning black as he leaned over her and took her mouth in a demanding kiss. She shifted, allowing him to settle between her legs where she wanted him, able to hold him closer, tighter, needing him there. His tongue was insistent and hard, she couldn't help but whimper. He broke away, leaving her gasping, his hands framing her face gently. “Yes. I’m claiming you,” he rasped before placing another kiss on her lips, then her chin, her neck, her shoulder. “I don’t give a fuck what anyone has to say about it.”

 

His possessiveness should have angered her, she'd never cared for any man believing he owned or controlled any part of her. Instead it loosened something along her spine, like the snapping of chains, freeing her to be the woman she was, the one who wanted to belong. Because that's what Jon wanted as well. To belong, to be seen and accepted for who he truly was, the man beneath the bastard most saw. 

 

And she saw that man, just as he saw to the heart of her.

 

She slid her hands over his back and down to squeeze his perfectly plump arse, sinking her fingers into the firm flesh. He bit her breast in response, light and teasing. “I accept as long as you realize that you are mine as well," she countered, "I do not share.”

 

He stared into her eyes, the deep depths solemn and serious. “I’d kill any man that thought to touch you.”

 

She hummed in approval and gave him a wink. “I’d watch and fuck you after.”

 

His grin was just indecent enough to send a shiver down her spine. “Glad we agree on how events would unfold.”

 

Her dragonblood rose up within her, fiery and fierce, and she took a firm grip of his chin as she stared up at him. “Understand this, I will not tolerate anyone putting their hands on you.”

 

Other men might have responded with anger, or even fear, but apparently Jon wasn't one of them. His eyes softened, and his thumbs brushed across her temples tenderly. “You need not worry about me seeking another. It will never happen. And if some lass is stupid enough to touch me without permission…" he shrugged, his pretty mouth turned down, brow raised, "well, I’ve been wanting a reason to see you in action with your dragons again.”

 

Her jealousy soundly assuaged, she laughed. “If you wanted a ride, all you had to do was ask.”

 

“No offense to your dragons, but I’d much rather you ride me.”

 

She giggled and shoved at his shoulders. “So naughty, Jon Snow.”

 

He placed a lingering kiss on her lips. “You love it," he breathed against them.

 

“I certainly do.”

 

*~*

 

She made her way down the hall headed to their meeting, Varys at her side filling her in on what little information was gathered about her attacker. She’d done her best to put it out of her head, but it wasn’t to be. 

 

They knew he was from the North, his family had left South the day before, and they had been loyal to House Stark. That didn’t actually tell her as much as she wanted to know, but Varys said they didn't have many details as of yet. Any other news he had would have to wait. They entered the hall, everyone present nodding to her in greeting. 

 

“Your Grace,” Lady Mormont said, gesturing to her bandaged hand.

 

“A scratch,” she said, pleased to see respect in the younger woman’s eyes. 

 

She looked around the room, noting how Jon stood across the table from her, perfectly able to give her those heated looks she had come to crave. The ache was still heavy between her thighs, he'd only left her bed a scant half hour before. She struggled not to shift around and ease the throbbing. Instead she swallowed and gave them all a tight smile.  “Thank you all for attending,” she said as one of her Unsullied spread a map over the large table and Grey Worm handed the bag of house sigils to Tyrion. He placed them in their spots according to where each of their forces were. 

 

She glanced at Baelish and noticed his frown as his beady eyes scanned the map. “Something wrong, my Lord?”

 

He tilted his head at her, his smile almost mocking as if he were about to speak to a simple child. “I think it’s unwise to not count the Freys as an enemy, You Grace," he answered, smoothly.

 

She raised her eyebrows and gave the smallest of hums. “Oh, you haven't heard? Walder Frey and all his male kin were murdered a few nights ago. Someone poisoned them. His young wife and the servant girls all claimed a girl wearing Walder’s face told them, ‘Winter came for house Frey.’ Lady Olenna left a small force behind to protect the young women.”

 

That news left Baelish speechless, but not Lord Royce. “Lady Olenna was at the Twins?” he asked. 

 

Daenerys gave a nod. “Let’s make sure everyone is caught up, shall we? My allies, Yara and Theon Greyjoy, Ellaria Sand and her daughters, and Olenna Tyrell will all be here in less than a fortnight. Lord Snow has called a summit for all the Northern houses to meet at Winterfell, and you have pledged to join my side. Soon, Winterfell will be filled with people to help us take on a dual threat.”

 

Baelish's expression had gone through a myriad of changes as she spoke– surprise, fear, and anger, to name a few. She waited, rather curious to know what would come out of his mouth first. 

 

He shifted on his feet, a slight twitching taking his left eye. “Your Grace has been quite busy, I'm impressed. But what is this dual threat you speak of?” he asked.

 

“Everyone knows Cersei has claimed the throne since she blew up the Sept of Balor and Tommen committed suicide. She is certainly a threat.” She took a deep breath and looked at Jon across the table. “However, Lord Snow and the Free Folk have made known to us another that seems just as imposing, if not more so. An army we will have to contend with, eventually.”

 

“What army is that, Your Grace?” Lord Royce queried. 

 

“The army of the dead.”

 

Of course, the room fell silent, no one moved, nor made a sound. She knew then how Jon must always feel when he told of the doom that awaited beyond the Wall. Her heart gave a lurch for him, carrying such a burden, being seen as a madman– neither could possibly be easy. Watching as his own sister and Baelish locked eyes and shared a dubious look only added to the unease that had taken her.  

 

“And who has seen this threat?” Baelish asked, a smug smile pulling at his thin mouth. She wanted to slap it off.

 

“I have,” Jon was quick to answer. 

 

Tormund glared down at Baelish from where he stood beside him. “So have I. My people have been trying to escape them for as long as I remember. It’s why Jon Snow gave us passage south. Why we agreed to fight with him.”

 

Baelish shared a glance with Lord Royce, shook his head almost imperceptibly, leaving the latter looking confused. Royce cleared his throat. “What are your plans for King’s Landing?” he asked.

 

Dismissal. Not unforeseen.

 

Nor was she given a chance to answer. “The easiest would be to fly your dragons in and take the Keep," Baelish asked.

 

“And what of the people in the city?” Lady Mormont cut in, her little voice hard as steel.

 

He shrugged, his smile indulgent. “There are always casualties in war,” he responded then locked eyes Daeneys. “It is important that you display strength when you take the city.”

 

She only stared back at him, mouth tight, her hands laced together and clenched. 

 

“But innocent lives should not pay that price if we can avoid it,” Tyrion retorted when she stayed silent.

 

"I agree," added Varys, staring down his old acquaintance.

 

Littlefinger grew quiet and Daenerys held his gaze, wanting to make herself clear. “I did not come here to be queen of the ashes. Yes, it will require strength, and sometimes strength is terrible. But compassion and sympathy are equally compelling.” She took a deep breath and looked at the pieces on the table, contemplating her next words. “I will not fly to the Red Keep and leave it without a leader unless I have no other option. We will wait to plan anything for King’s Landing until my allies have arrived and we know the status of the other houses in the North. However, I want as much information about what’s happening in the capital as I can receive. And we need to see if we can discover who it was that killed the Freys. They could be an ally.”

 

She looked up at Jon. “Lord Snow, I would like you to know that you have the support of the crown when it comes time for your summit. Anything you need that we might provide you will receive.”

 

He gave a small nod. “Thank you, Your Grace.”

 

“Forgive me, Your Grace, but what is the status of the North?” Baelish asked.

 

She watched as Jon’s head whipped around to Baelish. Sansa’s eyes stayed on the table. Reluctantly she turned back to the irritating man. “What do you mean, Lord Baelish?” 

 

“Has the North declared for you?”

 

“No,” she answered firmly. “Lord Snow and Lady Stark have made no such declarations, nor have I asked for them.”

 

"Yet here we are, here they are," he said, waving a hand at Jon and Lyanna. Sansa was left out of his complaint. "offering counsel?"

 

“I fail to see why someone’s council becomes more or less worthy based on whether or not they’ve bent the knee,” Lyanna’s voice rang out. 

 

Lord Baelish gave her an indulgent smile. “Coming from someone who has not sworn fealty, I see how you would think so. We have bent the knee.”

 

“Of your own choosing, Lord Baelish,” Lyanna went at him again. “Some of us hold our honor and word higher than the shifting wind. It means more when we do it. You’ve declared for others before and turned your back at the first sign of trouble. Why anyone would listen to your council escapes me,” she chastised.

 

Daenerys bit back a smile, Jon did not do so well with his. However, she could see Baelish was angling for something and figured it was best to get it out in the open. “What is it you want?” she asked him.

 

“Equal footing with someone who isn’t considered an ally of yours. While they have given you nothing as of yet, the Eyrie brings with it a considerable host, a nigh-impregnable fortress, and a better position in the kingdoms. Perhaps we should retreat to the Eyrie for better protection.”

 

Protection, more like isolation.

 

“The queen’s protection is forefront in our minds, Lord Baelish,” Jon spat, fists balled at his sides.

 

“Yet, one of your subjects attacked the queen last night.”

 

“And he’s dead,” Jon replied. “And so will be the fate of anyone else should they be stupid enough to try." His head twisted round, nose snarling, the muscles in his jaw jumping. He blew a harsh breath through his nose. "I do not take kindly to, nor overlook threats against me, my people, or the queen.”

 

Littlefinger said nothing, only smiled at Jon for a lingering moment before turning to her. “Your Grace, allow me to offer guards from the Eyrie for your protection." Most of the men in the room did not take kindly to the insolence. Jon shifted forward, bumping the table, setting the sigils to rattling, while Tormund glared at the Lord and Tyrion cleared his throat. Baelish ignored them all. "Those who have sworn to you—“

 

She held up her hand and everyone came to a halt, though Tormund and Grey Worm had stepped toward him, already speaking in hushed, but harsh tones and Jon had gripped the hilt of his sword. 

 

“My Lord, it was not Northmen that were guarding me but my own Unsullied. Lord Snow has taken measures to help increase security around me and my room as well as other measures that will not be discussed in such an open forum. Though I’m sure you would like a more hands on approach to my security, I will leave it to the commander of my Unsullied and the lord of this keep, both who were with me in the direct aftermath of the attack. This man was not the first to attack me, nor do I believe he will be the last. But I do believe that my safety is the number one concern of both men in light of what happened. If you have questions or concerns, I suggest you take them up with the two of them.” 

 

She dismissed him with a look around at everyone else in the room, her eyes landing momentarily on Lyanna Mormont who had a smirk on her face. 

 

Good . The little Lady seemed impressed.

 

“I believe we're done here for the time being. I'm going to see to my Dothraki and dragons,” she said to the room. “Lord Snow, would you escort me? I have a matter I would like to discuss with you.”

 

He nodded and gave a look to Sansa then walked around the table to escort her out. They were led by two Unsullied, two more following. The rest of the group disbanded in a shuffle of feet and cleared throats. She glanced over her shoulder to see Littlefinger and Lord Royce speaking with Sansa, heads bowed, voices lowered. 

 

Jon stayed by her side out into the yard, silently seething, the anger coming off him in waves, but he offered his arm as gently as any courtly lord would. She squeezed it a bit as she took it. “I know," she whispered.

 

He didn’t speak, just shook his head, jaw clenched tight. She heaved a sigh. “He was trying to rile you up, and me as well, I imagine, to see where each of our loyalties lie. I think he realizes that even though I don’t have any assurances from you, my loyalty is to you, and yours to me.”

 

“I still want to run my sword through him,” he said through gritted teeth.

 

“That was the point, too, I think. To show you’re unhinged and that Sansa should be in charge. He was taking advantage of having Lady Mormont as his audience, though, she’s loyal to you as well.”

 

He stopped inside the archway and turned to her, brow furrowed. “How do you remain so calm?”

 

She shook her head. “I’m not. I wanted to burn him where he stood for questioning not only your integrity but Grey Worm’s. But I also remembered that I have an outlet for my anger that is much more pleasurable.”

 

His eyes practically burned her to ash. “Touring the camp?"

 

“That is rather diverting. But I thought you might like to try something with me this afternoon,” she said and pulled him forward. She led them to her dragons who were sleeping amongst a pile of charred bones and flesh. “Ride with me.”

 

His beautiful face filled with concern as he looked up at her sons, eyes wide, plush mouth agape. 

 

"I would suggest Rhaegal," she murmured.

 

He looked down at her, frowning deeply. “What if he doesn’t want me to?”

 

She pressed her lips together to hide the wicked grin that wanted to show itself. “Then it’s been nice knowing you, Jon Snow,” she answered and released his arm. Walking to Drogon, she climbed on and settled onto his back. She watched with more than a little amusement as Jon clambered his way onto Rhaegal, the dragon practically throwing him onto his back with a shrugged wing. The moment Jon took hold of his spikes, her excited son took off, Jon's faint yell trailing after them. She smiled, thrilled and elated at the sight. 

 

A dragon rider, just like her. We're the only ones

 

She commanded Drogon to follow as Viserion had already given chase, even swooping over top of Jon. She couldn’t help but laugh. 

 

*~*

 

He just knew he was going to die again, fall right off and plummet to the ground. People would tell stories of how he came back to life only to fall to his death from a dragon. 

 

He swore he could hear her laughter on the wind as Drogon sped out in front and led the other two into a steep dive down a ravine. Muscles trembling, breath caught and heart pounding, Jon prayed he didn't throw up as he held on with all his might until Rhaegal came out of the dive and righted himself.

 

His fears all but vanished and pure joy took him as they soared, sweeping right, then left, and right again. It was exhilarating, beyond anything he'd ever known. They quickly left the ravine behind and Jon surveyed the land around them, instantly knowing where they were, though he hadn’t been there in years. Not since he was a boy hunting with Robb. 

 

His eyes darted ahead to Daenerys, a wisp of white astride her enormous black dragon, wishing he could show her, tell her of his memories. He pulled his gaze back to the scaled beast beneath him.

 

Maybe he could.

 

He let the thought gather in his head, pushing, reaching, calling , and soon a rough heat that could only be Rhaegal was touching on the edges of his mind. He almost whooped in happiness as the green dragon followed his command and landed just where he wanted him. Drogon and Viserion circled around and landed beside them. 

 

With a little help from Rhaegal, he dismounted, somewhat smoothly, his legs wobbly as a new foal's, and gave the dragon a good rub along his snout. "Thank you, my friend. I won't be forgetting that anytime soon."

 

Rhaegal gave a rumbling chuff and nudged him. Jon turned to see Daenerys watching him, her smile brilliant. He went to her, his own near bursting off his face. “You’ve completely ruined horses for me.”

 

She chuckled and shook her head. “I still enjoy riding horses,” she said, “though, not as much as flying. I don’t feel as connected to them. With Drogon, I can feel his moods."

 

He gazed at her, hardly believing any of the last few days were real. And now there he stood, gazing at the only other living person who could understand what it felt like to have a dragon pressed against their mind. It was just the two of them. That thought thrilled him and terrified him all at once. 

 

"Aye." He waved her forward and she walked beside him through the untouched snow. Keeping a hand out in case she slipped, he threw a glance back at the dragons, still awed by the experience. “It felt like he could feel what I was thinking.”

 

She smiled up at him and nodded. “That’s part of being a dragon rider. Congratulations, Jon Snow, you’ve done something that only I’ve been able to do.”

 

He stopped, his stomach suddenly knotted. “That alright with you?”

 

Her smile never faded. She reached out and took his hand in hers, lacing their fingers together and gave it a squeeze as they walked on. “I told you that you were magic. Apparently, I was right," she said then stopped as the waterfall came into view. She let him go and hurried forward a few more steps. “It’s beautiful, Jon."

 

He couldn't help but grin. She looked so happy and carefree, like the young woman she would be if she wasn't a queen. “I used to hunt here with Robb and Theon,” he told her softly, then chuffed. “It would take us two days by horse." 

 

She turned to look at him and he moved toward her, unable to stop himself. She was the most gorgeous sight he'd ever seen, his winter goddess, surrounded by snow and ice, her cheeks flushed a fetching pink, eyes glistening as she smiled at him. “You brought me out here with a purpose," she murmured as he stepped closer.

 

He nodded. “I wanted to get you alone, Your Grace,” he rasped as he wrapped an arm around her waist. 

 

That bright smile turned sly. “Funny thing. That’s exactly what I wanted you to say.”

 

He pulled her flush against him and took her mouth in a hungry kiss, wondering if he could talk Rhaegal into starting a fire so he could lay her down and take her as he wanted. Her cool lips sucked and pulled at his, her fingers tangling in his hair, sliding across his jaw as she moved him where she wanted, tongue delving deep to tangle with his.

 

Gods , he could kiss her for an age and never grow tired of it. If only they didn't need to breathe. 

 

She pulled away, smiling against bruised lips, nose bumping his. "I wish you were fireproof. I'd have you right here on the snow."

 

He laughed and stole a quick kiss. "I was thinking almost the same. But if we did it your way, the ride home would be awfully cold. We'd be ice by the time we got there."

 

Her pretty eyes rolled, brows rising. "I'd warm you up, be the fire to your ice."

 

"I'd gladly burn with you."

 

She gave him a tender smile. "You're getting better," she teased and took his hand once more, turning back toward the falls. "Did any of your other siblings come here with you?" 

 

He shook his head. "Just Theon. Sansa would never, and the rest were too young. Their mother kept them close, or tried too." He chuckled to himself, his heart aching as he remembered Arya and Bran causing all sorts of mischief around the Keep, even little Rickon. They'd been so happy. Free and alive.

 

Daenerys laid her head against his chest, arms holding him tightly and he allowed himself to take the comfort she seemed so willing to give, burying his nose in her crown of braids and letting the sweet scent of her oils soothe him. "Has there been any word about what happened to them?" she asked softly.

 

"Only Bran. Sam, the brother from the Night's Watch I sent to Oldtown. He let him through the Wall. There's been nothing since. He wouldn't survive out there, so I know he's gone, too. And not a single hint of Arya has surfaced since our father's execution. She was smart, she might've gotten out of the city, but past that…"

 

"Don't give up hope," she told him. "You never know. I can walk through fire, and you've come back from the dead. Perhaps there's a chance."

 

He leaned in to kiss her, pressing his lips against hers, grateful for the hope she wanted to give him, but needing the distraction she could provide. Snow crunched behind him. He broke away, turning to see Ghost. Daenerys gasped and suddenly the ground was trembling beneath their feet, three angry dragons intent on protecting their mother barreling toward them. He released her and stepped in front of his wolf who just stared up at the charging beasts as he threw his thoughts at Rhaegal, hoping if one relaxed the others would.

 

Then Daenerys was at his side. "No!" she shouted firmly and they all slid to a stop. She stepped toward them, a string of Valyrian falling from her lips.

 

Able to breathe again, Jon turned on the balls of his feet and dropped into a crouch in front of his direwolf, scratching him behind the ears. "We were almost dragon food, boy. You should've sneaked up a little better." Ghost just licked his nose. "I've got someone I want you to meet." He turned to look at Dany and held his hand out to her. “He won’t hurt you.” She slowly stepped forward and placed her hand in his. “This is Dany,” he told Ghost as he held her hand out to him. The wolf sniffed it, then moved closer, circling around her, then him. “This is my direwolf, Ghost.”

 

She smiled and gave him a hesitant pet. Ghost took advantage and licked her face, pushing her to her arse as he practically climbed on top of her. She laughed and scratched her fingers through his fur. “A lot like Jon, aren’t you?”

 

He smiled and nudged Ghost away before helping her to her feet. “Head back to Winterfell, boy. She could use some extra protection inside the keep,” he urged and after a solemn look Ghost headed off through the woods at a smooth lope. 

 

Dany moved to his side and wrapped her arms around his waist. "He's wonderful."

 

He placed a kiss to her forehead. “Aye, let’s see anyone threaten you when you have a direwolf as a guard.”

 

*~*

 

Once they were back at Winterfell, her Unsullied guard walked them to the Dothraki camp where they quickly disappeared amongst the masses. 

 

“Will it take him two days to get back?” she asked.

 

“Probably. I can be your shadow until then,” he said, offering her a smile. 

 

“Oh, that’s too tempting, Jon Snow,” she said with a grin. 

 

They stopped outside of her tent, his leathers already growing tight at the thought of throwing her onto the stack of furs to have his way with her. 

 

“Ah, Your Grace,” Tyrion said as he emerged from the crowd. “Lord Snow,” he added with a smirk, no doubt seeing Jon's snarl at being interrupted. “Glad I found you.”

 

Jon didn’t even realize he had gripped his sword until her hand squeezed his arm. “What is it, Lord Tyrion?” she asked.

 

All humor vanished from Tyrion's face, deep regret taking its place. “We’ve received word Euron Greyjoy has taken a thousand ships to my sister.”

 

Whatever peace they had found during their ride disappeared. He and Daenerys shared a worried look, her brows knitted together in concern, mouth pressed in a hard line. He was certain his expression was no different.

 

“Where is he? King’s Landing?” she asked.

 

Tyrion gave a nod. “Last word we received, yes. He’s claimed he’ll bring her a gift so I don't expect him to stay there long."

 

She eyed him warily and Jon could feel her fingers tighten on his arm. “Don’t walk around alone,” she warned her Hand.

 

“I have guards waiting on me at the head of the camp," he assured her. "I saw the dragons fly over head and came walking this way. I thought you would want to know immediately.”

 

“You were correct." She heaved a deep sigh and Jon wanted to pull her away from this conversation and distract her properly, see her smile again as she had at the waterfall only an hour before. “Alright, if you haven’t already, inform the other members of my counsel, ask Grey Worm to get more guards to follow Missandei and Varys. And ask Lady Stark if she would like members of the Unsullied to guard her room as well. We’ll do everything we can to protect the people in the castle.”

 

Tyrion nodded. “You might want to consider having guards while here, Your Grace.”

 

Jon looked around and noted several of the Dothraki watching them. She was probably safer in this camp than she was in the keep. And yes, they distracted themselves properly while there, but Longclaw was never far from his reach.

 

She blew out a huff. “My riders won’t let anyone harm me.”

 

“Your Grace, some men and most people are fools. I like to think I’m not a fool. The Unsullied won’t be distracted by the implication of the two of you alone together, while the Dothraki might take their eyes off your tent to do their own celebrating.”

 

Jon thought he actually heard her eyes roll. “Thank you for your concern, Lord Tyrion, but I believe in my blood riders as they believe in me. Please go back to the keep and see my wishes carried out.”

 

Tyrion gave her a reluctant nod and cast one last look at him before walking away. Jon waited until he was out of eyesight before he turned to face her. “As much as I hate his tactic and overall tone, he might be right about having some of your Unsullied come with you into the camp. They could be another line of defense against someone out to hurt you.”

 

Her expressive eyebrows rose, her pretty head tilted as she looked at him. “Do you intend to abandon me in this camp?”

 

“No, of course not,” he said with an emphatic shake of his head. “But the attack on you last night shook me enough to realize…" He stepped closer to her, took her arm in a soft grip. "If someone wanted to hurt you, they could easily do it.” She rolled her eyes at him, just as she'd done Tyrion then stepped inside the tent. He followed, unswayed. “A knife in the back, an arrow fired from below or above—”

 

She had removed her coat and the silk underneath to reveal a light layer of chainmail over her shift. He lowered his head and gave a small smile. “I thought you just had on more layers than you usually wear." His eyes lifted to hers. "Because the cold was getting to you," he added, properly chastised.

 

She shook her head at him, her beautiful face a vision of triumph. “I listen to good advice, remember?" she reminded him, reaching out for his hand. He took it and let her pull him flush against her. "Missandei knows my sizes and she worked with Grey Worm and a blacksmith last night to have this altered for me. I didn’t tell you before because the idea of you helping me remove it once I surprised you was more appealing.” 

 

He took her face in his hands and kissed the satisfied smirk from her lips. "Apologies, Your Grace. I'll never doubt your wiles again."

 

"Mmm, we'll see," she murmured, pulling away and backing up toward the furs. "For now I believe you owe me more of an apology."

 

"Is that so?"

 

"Yes, a queen's forgiveness requires a bit more effort. You better get to work, Jon Snow."

 

*~*

 

They had emerged from the camp that afternoon, many apologies and much forgiveness given, parting ways with soft smiles and assurances they would see one another later. He found Tormund near the smithy, trying out the axes that were on display. 

 

His red haired friend grinned at him as he approached. “Saw you riding a dragon. You're a mad fucker.”

 

Jon chuckled and looked around at the people milling about the yard. “You’re probably right.”

 

Tormund put the axe he was holding back and leaned close to his ear. "Which dragon gives a better ride? The queen or that big green beast?"

 

He shook his head at him, giving him a cutting glare. He knew Tormund thought she was magnificent, but the disrespectful question still lit a sudden fire within his belly. Gods help him, he was failing fast.

 

A flash of red hair caught his eye and he watched Sansa walk across the overpass, speaking with Lord Royce. His brow furrowed. He didn’t like the amount of time she was spending with the two men from the Eyrie. He didn’t know Lord Royce but if the man listened to Littlefinger so easily he probably couldn’t be trusted either. 

 

“There goes my beauty,” Tormund murmured as Brienne walked past trailing behind Sansa. 

 

Jon took a deep breath. “I need to ask a favor of you, my friend.”

 

“What is it?” he questioned as he picked up another axe and swung it in front of himself.

 

“I need someone I can trust to help me keep an eye on Sansa, specifically if she’s meeting with Littlefinger.”

 

Tormund frowned, standing at attention. He eyed Jon critically. “If you don’t trust this man, why is he still alive?”

 

“Because if I kill him it could cause trouble for the Dragon Queen. I don’t want that. So, I need extra eyes.”

 

Tormund wrinkled his nose. “Spying isn’t really my specialty, but I suppose if it means I can watch my love more often I'll help you.”

 

*~*

 

Instead of taking a third private dinner with her in her rooms, he reluctantly joined his friends in the hall. They'd thrown propriety out the window, but it was best not to let it get out of sight. 

 

One half of the table was still reserved for her and her council, and eventually, Daenerys, Missandei, and Tyrion entered. Everyone stood as she walked to the table, not sitting until after she'd taken her seat beside him. He noticed she stifled a yawn behind her hand as she was served dinner and bit back a grin.

 

She waited for the serving girl to step away before leaning toward him a little. “What is this?”

 

He smiled at her. “Steak and kidney pie. With peas and onions,” he said with a nod. She looked at Missandei who looked as trepidatious as the queen to try it. “It’s hearty,” he said finally. “Keep you warm at night.”

 

She raised an eyebrow and the smile on her face was positively wicked. “Funny. I haven’t had any trouble keeping warm.”

 

Jon couldn’t contain his smile but turned back to his food as wine was poured for all the newcomers. 

 

“Have you received word back from any of the houses if they will come to your summit?” she asked.

 

“I have, Your Grace. Many have agreed to come. Not someone in their stead, but the Lords.”

 

“That’s encouraging.”

 

He nodded. “It could be. But then again these are men who refused to help us and they decide now, after we won that they can travel to Wintefell? It’s frustrating because I know they were terrified of Ramsay, but just one of them sending men and the battle could have gone a different way.”

 

She nodded. “I understand, but then you and I might not be on such friendly terms.”

 

He looked up at her with a smile as she took a bite of pie and chewed slowly. A grimace quickly bloomed over her pretty face. He pressed his lips together, trying not to laugh, as she washed it down with some wine. “How is it, Your Grace?”

 

She cut her eyes to him and he knew he’d been caught. “I’ve had better,” she muttered.

 

Tormund entered the hall and nudged Davos to the other chair away from Jon. Food was set in front of him but he ignored it, eyeing him instead. “You might have a problem.”

 

Jon heaved a sigh. “What?”

 

“I just saw your sister go into the Godswood with that fuck, Baelish. My Lady was standing outside the gate.”

 

His blood surged, boiling and bitter. He grit his teeth. “Anyone else with them?”

 

“No.”

 

“Fuck,” he hissed, not bothering to keep quiet and he felt Daenerys' eyes settle on him. He looked over at her and sighed. “I beg your pardon, Your Grace, but I’ll be right back.”

 

She nodded, though her brows were knitted with concern as she watched him rise from his chair. He looked back at Tormund. “Keep the Queen company,” he told him and chuckle as Tormund jumped up and moved into his empty chair. 

 

“Good evening, Dragon Queen,” he heard behind him as he walked out of the hall and into the courtyard. 

 

He found Brienne just as Tormund had said, standing sentinel outside the Godswood gate. He smiled kindly at her. “You should go inside and have dinner.”

 

“I will, soon,” she said, giving him a tight smile in return. 

 

He put his hand on the gate and she heaved a sigh, shifting on her feet, brow drawn heavy over her eyes. He obviously made her uncomfortable, but it couldn't be helped. “He still in there with her?”

 

“Yes,” she said with a frown. “I was told to keep everyone out.”

 

“Including me?”

 

“She didn’t specify.”

 

He stepped forward. “I don’t trust him. I know you don’t either. The sooner I can root him out the sooner I can get him away from her,” he whispered. “If she asks, I threatened to have you thrown in the cells.”

 

Brienne finally relented and let him through the gate. He walked slowly through the snow, keeping his steps light, not wanting to alert them to his presence. Their muffled voices carried, telling him they were at the weirwood. He picked his way around and behind them, hiding himself behind another tree and watched as Lord Baelish leaned in to kiss Sansa but she stopped him. “It’s a pretty picture,” she said as she stepped around him, walking a few paces away. 

 

“I declared for Daenerys," his voice stopped her, "but you know why I’m here.”

 

She turned to face him. “Yes, I know. But you’re in the service of the Dragon Queen, now. It doesn’t matter what you want, or me either.”

 

“There is an alliance, yes. But as you know, alliances are only good while they are beneficial to both parties.”

 

Jon clenched his hand around Longclaw, wanting nothing more than to withdraw his sword and kill the man where he stood, but he needed to hear more. Needed to know if Sansa would truly betray him. If she would betray the North.

 

“What do you want?" Baelish's voice cut across the clearing, and Jon realized he must have moved closer to her again. “To simply be Queen of the North, or would you still like to be Queen of the Seven Kingdoms as you did years ago?”

 

“I might still be Queen of the North," she answered, "but there’s no hope of taking the Iron Throne." Her voice had been flat and her obvious lack of belief in the words caused Jon a great deal of anger and frustration.

 

She couldn't possibly think—

 

“There's always hope, dear Sansa. Everyone has a weakness. The Queen seems rather close to your brother.”

 

“Yes, and I won't help you exploit Jon for it. He doesn’t trust me as it is, and I’ll not give him more cause to think I’m plotting against him.”

 

Far too late for that, sister.

 

It grew quiet, only faint mumbling reaching his ears. He did everything he could not to shift in the snow to get closer. “I failed you before," Baelish's voice finally came clear again. "Allow me to help you get what you want.”

 

“You can’t help me," his sister whispered harshly. “So don’t try. No one can keep me safe but me."

 

He watched her walk away and waited until she was out of earshot before pulling his sword and stepping around the tree into Littlefinger’s path. “Back up,” he demanded.

 

Baelish heeded his threat, taking three steps back, his eyes wide. 

 

Jon's blood surged to see fear on the man’s face. His uncle once had a sword fight with him and left him bloody and broken. Jon would do worse if given the chance.

 

“Let me make something clear, Lord Baelish,” he said through clenched teeth. He tried to control the raging emotions inside, to be able to speak in a calmer tone, but he couldn’t control the fury. The Wolf’s blood . It was running wild through his veins. “I don’t trust you. I despise you. And if I catch you alone with my sister again, if I hear you’ve been meeting with her in secret, if I catch even a whiff of conspiracy, I will honor my promise to the queen and haul you out in front of her dragons and gladly watch her roast you alive. And I’ll haul you out there because I will have taken all your limbs." He stepped closer, the tip of Longclaw nearly skimming along the snake's throat. "Are we understood?” he asked. 

 

Littlefinger nodded, his eyes narrowed, lip twitching.

 

"Try something. I dare you,” Jon growled, shifting forward quickly just to scare him. Baelish flinched and he smiled to see it. “If you were a smart man, you’d leave tonight, but I don’t believe you will. I think the temptation to plot and plan is too ingrained in you." Baelish didn't deny it. “You’ll be taking supper alone in your room. In fact, you’re going to become very well acquainted with those walls unless otherwise summoned.”

 

He said not a word, only stared back at Jon as he straightened his fine robes. 

 

Jon wanted to skewer him just for his arrogance alone. He sheathed Longclaw to put the temptation to rest. “I’ll follow you out,” he said gruffly, waving him forward. 

 

Baelish hurried off in a swirl of cloaks, staying far in front of him. When they reached the gates Sansa was standing with Brienne. In the dim light he wasn't sure if what he saw in her eyes was more fear or fury.  

 

He looked to Brienne. “Lady Brienne, please see Lord Baelish to his room, my sister and I will be speaking alone in the Godswood,” he said as he held the gate open for Sansa. 

 

Brienne disappeared with Baelish, while his sister stared daggers at him. 

 

"Don't make me ask again," he warned her.

 

She stomped past him and into the Godswood. "You never asked in the first place." 

 

Jon ignored her quip and firmly closed and locked the gate, holding the key in his fist. He gestured toward the wood and she walked off with a huff. He followed behind.

 

Neither said anything as they stood in front of the heart tree. She was acting her usual petulant self, while dozens of emotions swarmed him, none of them good. Hurt rose above the rest and he hated it the most. 

 

“Explain,” he finally demanded. “Keep in mind you don’t know how much of your conversation I heard.”

 

Her icy blue eyes flashed. “You trust me so little you would follow me? Spy on me?”

 

“I thought that would be obvious by now,” he said, tempering his rage so he didn’t do something stupid. He had promised to protect her, but it felt like her every maneuver was to undermine him and put his life in danger.

 

She crossed her arms over herself, staring down into the still waters of the pool beside them. “He asked to meet me in private and I told him no but he found me out here. I sent Brienne to guard the gate.”

 

Did she think she could hide her lies within truths and he wouldn't see them?

 

He shook his head. “Does your no really mean yes ?"

 

"He's insistent, alright?" she hissed. 

 

"And?”

 

“And he asked me to be his. I think it's what he’s always wanted from me. I refused.”

 

“Refused?” he asked incredulously. “Half-hearted, at best.” He took two steps toward her, clenching his fists at his sides so he dare not take her by the arms and shake her. “I don’t know what you’re up to. I don’t know why you’re still lying to me. But Sansa, if you go after the queen, I won’t be able to stop her from taking action against you. I heard enough that I could label you as a traitor here and now.”

 

Her eyes narrowed at him, and her head tilted slightly. “You would choose her over your family?”

 

“I would choose honor. What you’re doing… there’s no honor in it. Our father would not tolerate this. You know that. So, I’m warning you, one final time, do not act against the queen, or me. You’ll live regret it.”

 

“I’m tired of you threatening me,” she hissed. “I am your sister. We’re here because of me.”

 

“No, we're here because of that army outside our gates...”

 

“They're here because of me! You lost the battle.”

 

He nodded. “With a lot of help from you,” he accused. “You’re my family. Start acting like it.”

 

“You’re mine, too. And you’re choosing a foreign whore over me,” she sneered.

 

He bit the inside of his cheek so hard he tasted blood. This was not the same girl he’d hugged in the courtyard of Castle Black. This was someone harder, colder, less human. Trauma did terrible things to people, would make them act out of fear and bitterness, he knew that, but he couldn’t contemplate her actions as anything other than reckless and disloyal, not after being shown over and over the truth of things. 

 

His voice shook as he spoke to her. “You’ve treated me horribly since you were old enough to know what a bastard was. I forgave you for that, you were just a child under the influence of your mother.” 

 

She just sneered at him.

 

He shook his head, the sad realization that she treated him exactly as she thought a bastard should be treated. Lower, worthless, useless, and beneath her. He would have done anything for her, done anything to protect her, the only family he had left, and thought he had. But the woman in front of him now, he didn’t know her. Whatever had happened to her, had turned her heart.

 

“I’ve never felt shame at being your blood until this moment.” He fought off the angry tears and he could see her own eyes glistening with the same as she stared at him, her head held high. “No matter your reasoning, your actions and words are indefensible. You betrayed me. And Rickon. You know you did. Two armies to ride to our aid and you didn’t say anything to me about them. They could have saved our brother if we'd been given the chance to better plan and you said nothing. I don’t know that I can ever forgive you for that.”

 

He turned away from her and looked at the snow beneath his feet, gathering his thoughts. He needed to make it very clear where he stood and why, for his own sake as well as hers. “If you act against the queen, I hope your death is quick as that’s the only mercy I can spare you,” he spat. “You’ll have earned her wrath. I suggest you stay away from Baelish or you’ll be watching his execution only minutes before your own and I won’t be able to do anything to stop it, nor would I,” he said before he turned and left the Godswood. He unlocked the gate, finding Brienne pacing in front of it.

 

“Is he in his room?” Jon asked as he looked up into the worried face of his sister's loyal guard.

 

“He is,” she said with a nod.

 

“Good,” he said, "If you care anything for her, you'll keep them apart," he warned her before storming off. 

 

He walked into the hall and stopped at finding Daenerys surrounded by men, all listening in rapt, wide-eyed attention to a story she was telling. Tormund was still seated beside her, his horn of ale in his hand, enthralled more than any of them, his smile obnoxious. 

 

His hackles still prickly from his altercations, he strode forward, desperate for a drink to settle his ire. As he drew close, he finally caught some of the tale. “But you have all three dragons,” one of the men said.

 

Tormund nodded. “And Unsullied. What did you do?”

 

Missandei was smiling proudly and Tyrion was leaned back in his chair, bleary eyed and grinning. He was the first to notice Jon and waved him over. No chairs available, he stood behind him and listened. 

 

“I gave him what he wanted," Daenerys told them. "I passed over Drogon’s chain and he handed me the whip. It was done. The Unsullied marched under my command because I held the whip. Kraznys was complaining because Drogon wouldn’t comply. And I told him, Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor. ” 

 

“What does that mean?” someone asked.

 

She looked at Missandei who grinned and answered for her, “A dragon is not a slave.”

 

Daenerys smile was smug. “I then confirmed I had understood everything he’d said about me, and I ordered the Unsullied to kill all the Masters, but harm no child. And when Kraznys tried to take back control, I had Drogon burn him alive.”

 

The men all cheered, holding up their drinks to her. “ A dragon is not a slave! ” Tormund called to which they all echoed, drinking to her. 

 

“She hasn’t told you the best part,” Missandei intervened, her wide smile showing that she was in her cups along with the rest of them. He planned to follow and quickly.

 

They all settled down and listened. “What’s the best part?” one of them asked.

 

“She freed the Unsullied,” Missandei answered. “She gave every man in the army the choice to leave and nothing would happen to them. They were free to live their own lives, but all of them chose to follow her. Like so many of us,” she said, and held up her own goblet. “To Queen Daenerys!”

 

“To the Breaker of Chains!” Tyrion chimed in.

 

“Breaker of Chains!” they all toasted. Tormund looked up, finally noticing him and smiled. “Jon Snow!”

 

“Jon Snow!” the men toasted him as well and he chuckled. 

 

“I see you entertained yourself,” he said to Tormund who shrugged. 

 

“I always do." Tormund grabbed him by the arm and shook him. "This one, Dragon Queen, is a good man. He saved us and he didn’t have to. I was his prisoner and he let me free to bring my people south.” Her eyes flickered up to his, bright and beautiful, a rosy flush coloring her cheeks, smile wide and full of happiness. She was a vision far beyond anything he'd ever dreamed. “Even went with me to speak to our people and tell them himself that he would give them safe passage," his friend went on, looking around at the Free Folk sitting about. "How many of your children or your elderly did he help put in boats?” 

 

Several of them toasted to him. "Jon Snow! Lord Crow!"

 

Tormund suddenly stood from his chair, swaying as he held up his horn of ale. “To Lord Crow and the Dragon Queen!” he toasted them, and finished off his drink, half of it trickling down his fiery beard.

 

Jon sighed. “That’s not mare’s milk, is it?”

 

“Fuck no,” he replied with a gasp, catching his breath. “Those men are mad to drink that.”

 

Daenerys chuckled. “They say the same thing about you and your goat’s milk.”

 

“I am mad!" he shouted, "So they’re right,” he said, laughing. 

 

Jon walked around the table and Tormund moved out of his way, reaching for one of the others horn. He filled it with ale and put it in Jon’s hand. “Drink up, Jon Snow.”

 

He looked down into it and frowned. “I can’t drink this unless the queen joins me.”

 

“I’m already a goblet ahead of you,” she said before she drank the last in her goblet. “Make that two!”

 

“Dragon Queen!” the crowd cheered again and someone refilled her goblet as she laughed.

 

“One go,” Tormund said with a nod. 

 

Jon looked down at Daenerys who stared up at him with a challenge in her eyes. He took a deep breath and drank it down, throwing it to the back of his throat, doing his best not to taste it. When he finished, he slammed his horn on the table and the other men cheered, Daenerys and Missandei joining in with their laughter. 

 

Tormund nudged him as more was poured into his horn and he finished it quickly as well. A new round of cheers and toasts went up and he turned to see her smiling at him and his breath caught, head spinning and heart tumbling. She was radiant and he thought maybe that smile was all for him. There was something hidden in it, maybe along the curve of her full bottom lip, or in the corner of her sky blue eyes and the way they were twinkling. No one had ever smiled at him the way she was. He couldn't help but smile right back.

 

He'd been scorned all his life, labeled a traitor and murdered for it even. And his sister's recent outpouring of dishonesty and dislike had ripped open his old wounds, leaving them raw and aching. But just then, being the object of the queen's appreciation, he thought if she wanted him then he couldn’t be all bad. There had to be something in him that was worthwhile.

 

“How is it that you and Jon Snow met, Tormund?” she asked, taking her seat once more.

 

His friend gave a hearty laugh. “That’s a fine tale!” He pushed Jon into his chair and moved to kneel beside the queen. “This pretty crow was captured by some of our people. He came to us, claiming he was tired of the Night’s Watch. He thought I was the leader of the Wildlings, the King Beyond the Wall,” he shook his head and smirked at Jon, “You hit your knees pretty quick for me, Jon Snow.”

 

Daenerys pursed her lips, hiding a smile as Jon shook his head, wishing he could stop the flush rising up his neck. “I thought you were going to gut me right there.”

 

“It crossed my mind,” Tormund said with a nod. “I liked your pretty face, though.” Jon rolled his eyes as several of the others laughed. The queen threw him a quick wink. “He climbed the Wall with us. Lived with us. I think he developed a soft spot for us even though he was taught to hate us as a boy." He smacked his beefy hand over Jon's thigh and shook it. "But that’s Jon Snow.”

 

Their eyes met and he could feel the heat behind her lusty gaze. It burnt straight down to his cock, making it twitch within the tight confines of his leathers. Tormund looked back at Daenerys and drank the rest of his ale. “That’s why we’re here. Jon Snow fought for us. Gave everything to help us,” he said, his voice gone dark and Jon looked away from her. She already knew the sacrifice he'd made, he couldn't handle seeing her compassion in front of everyone else. “Now, we fight for everyone.”

 

She cleared her throat and he looked up again, their eyes locking. Her breathing was somewhat labored and he didn’t know what emotion it was he saw in their depths, but he was captivated by it. She stood suddenly and he and Tyrion hopped to their feet. “Gentlemen, it’s been a long day. I’m afraid I have to retire for the night.”

 

The rest of them stood, one of the Free Folk hollering out, “No! Don’t go!"

 

She smiled at them. “We will do this again. I’ll tell you how I acquired a sellsword company without having to pay them,” she said with a wink. Missandei stood as well, a bright smile on her pretty face as she gave a nod to them all. Daenerys looped her arm with hers and the two women left with their guard. The men toasted her again as she left the Hall and she waved back at them. 

 

The men soon disbursed, a few staying near Tyrion to play a drinking game with him. Jon wasn’t interested in anymore drinking games. His mind was still jumbled and his stomach twisted over his conversation with Sansa. Walking into the hall to see men fawning over Daenerys and her heroic deeds, happily toasting her for her accomplishments, and listening to her stories had warmed his heart, banishing his troubles for a short while. But with her gone they'd all come tumbling back. 

 

He'd excuse himself soon, after giving her and Missandei some time. He turned and found Tormund in his face. 

 

“Your sister?”

 

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Jon muttered as he finished the drink in his cup, then what was left of the queen’s.

 

Tormund nodded, a smile forming on his ruddy face, his blue eyes alight with mischief. “You’re going to follow her, right?”

 

Jon took Tormund’s horn of ale and drained it too. “Absolutely.”

 

His friend put a meaty hand on his shoulder. “Remember the most important thing, Jon Snow.”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“Slick like a baby seal,” he crooned and started laughing. 

 

Jon couldn't help but do the same. He stood, patting Tormund on the back. “Watch after Tyrion.”

 

He nodded and eyed the dwarf who sat laughing with some of the men as they played his clever game. “I’ll carry him to bed myself if he falls asleep.”

 

“His bed, Tormund,” Jon joked and saw Tyrion jerk around to look over at them, his eyes wide. He'd obviously been listening. 

 

Tormund only smiled wider and gave the Imp a wink as he sat down with the other men to join in their game, Tyrion eyeing him warily all the while.

 

Jon clapped them both on the shoulder as he left the hall. He took the back passage to the stairs and found the Unsullied already stationed in the hallway at each end. They let him by without a problem and he entered her room, not knocking, though it occurred to him after he did it that maybe he should have. He closed the door behind him and made sure it was locked. When he looked up, his breath caught, blood lighting and rushing south. Daenerys was standing in the doorway of her bedroom in naught but a robe that wasn’t tied, but open enough to show the slight swell of her breasts, the gentle slope of her waist and the silver thatch of curls between her shapely thighs.

 

He licked his lips and took a step forward, the room slightly spinning, from liquor or lust he wasn't sure. “Tell me you don’t greet everyone that way.”

 

“You’re special,” she admitted, “but you’re not permitted into this room until you take off all your clothes." Her gorgeous face held not a hint of teasing, a queenly eyebrow raised, daring him to disobey.

 

He started working at the clasps of his gambeson as he stared back at her, unashamed at how quick he jumped to do her bidding. “How drunk are you?”

 

There was that sexy smirk he was craving. “Drunk enough I won’t wait long before I start without you.”

 

His head felt fuzzy at just the thought. “Gods, Dany.”

 

He finally got the last one undone and rid himself of it then pulled his quilted jerkin off followed by his tunic. He managed to get both boots off without falling and his leathers opened and off his legs, though he stumbled slightly trying to get his feet free. 

 

She was chuckling softly as she backed away from him, one pert breast peeking out, nipple tight and taunting, the color of watered wine. Gods , he would never get enough of her. Never deserve her, no matter if she thought him magic. But damn all the seven bloody hells, he would try his best until she grew tired of him. 

 

He followed her into the room, catching her in two strides, hands running all over her body as he tore her robe away and tossed it to the floor. 

 

“I want to taste you,” she said against his lips. 

 

“Fuck,” he groaned as he filled his hands with her arse, giving one side a light smack. “I want to taste you, too. Gods, I can’t get enough of your taste. I crave it day and night." His mouth took hers in a sloppy kiss, but it was perfect. 

 

She turned and pushed him onto the bed. He moved back, giving her room, but she didn’t press her body over his, instead she crawled up beside his chest, stroked her hand over his head and snatched the leather tie from his hair. "Much better," she breathed, fisting a handful of his curls and forcing his lips to hers. She kissed him hard then shook free from his attempted hold, and before he knew what was happening one of her legs was slung over his head, and her dewy folds were hovering over his face. 

 

He felt like a man starving and she was the grand feast laid out before him. He couldn’t decide what he wanted first. Lick all of her he could reach? Bring her to the edge quick and push her over? Take his time and lick and suck and bite at her until she was a writhing, wailing mess above him? All had their appeal and all flew from his head as her soft, sultry mouth placed a kiss over the throbbing head of his cock. How was he supposed to do anything while she’s doing– ohfuckyes!  

 

She'd sucked him into her mouth, so warm and wet, her hand slid over his bollocks, nails lightly scraping back over them as she pulled back. 

 

They drew up and he gave a shudder, his hips rising of their own accord. He shook his head, knowing he had to concentrate on something else or he was going to spill his seed faster than a green boy. 

 

She would not undo him first.

 

He looped his arms around her hips and brought her down against his face, his tongue quickly working between her folds and to her entrance, sliding inside her. She popped off his cock with a gasp, thrusting at him. He tightened his hold on her, nearly pinning her to his face as he sucked her petals into his mouth, cleaning the salty sweet tang from her, knowing he was just making a bigger mess. Drawing her little bud between his lips, he flicked it furiously with his tongue.

 

She whimpered around his cock, ripples of pleasure rolling through him as he hit the back of her throat and she let him slip deeper. He growled against her and dug his fingers into her arse, rubbing her over his stiffened tongue. Fighting back, Dany pulled off of him, coating his cock in her saliva then wrapped him tightly in her hand, smearing it up to the head and down again, over and over, her other hand tugging at his stones. He gave a hearty slap to her arse and she moaned and swallowed him again. 

 

It was like a race to see who was going to make the other fall first. She bounced over him, just as relentless as he was in taking her swollen bud between his lips, suckling and flicking his tongue over it. But it was another smack to her arse along with the slight scrape of his teeth that had her crashing. He released her clit and slid his tongue inside her, letting her ride to completion, her whimpers and whines filling the room. Lapping up the essence of her as she shivered and shook above him, still stroking his cock. She was perfection, and she was his. 

 

She didn't stay distracted for long, and soon had doubled her efforts. Fist tight, mouth sucking, and tongue swirling.

 

Though he still licked at her folds he was losing focus the harder she took him, that wench within him drawing tighter and tighter. She tugged on his sac as she swallowed down as much of him as she could, and he was lost in the feel of her mouth around him, the wet heat, the pulling... He warned her only seconds before he released into her throat with a guttural groan, hips trembling and wave after wave of fire washing through him. She swallowed it down and he could barely breathe. Knew he couldn’t move. 

 

He jerked and jolted as she licked him clean, then finally rolled off him, her knee grazing his nose. 

 

“Ow!”

 

She spun around, eyes bright and wide. “Oh Jon! I’m sorry!” she snickered as she moved to sit beside him. “Are you alright?”

 

He smiled and gave a grunt. “You got me, but barely.” He pulled her down into his arms and held her against him, hands rubbing, kisses placed to whatever skin he could reach. She wiggled into his side, arm and thigh slung over him, and caught his lips with hers when they got close enough. 

 

“Why did you leave the hall?” she asked a few moments after he left off with his amorous attentions. 

 

He leaned his cheek against the top of her head and sighed, feeling the heavy weight of his conversation with his sister settle in his stomach once more. He was able to forget it when he was wrapped in the queen’s arms. He wanted to stay there forever and forget it all. 

 

“Sansa was meeting with Littlefinger in private. I wanted to hear the conversation.”

 

She rose up on her elbow, her brows turned down in concern. “What did you hear?”

 

He brushed her hair back off her shoulder, loving the silky feel of the tresses sliding over his skin. “Don’t trust Littlefinger, in fact, it might be a good idea to get some of the Unsullied to follow him.”

 

She took in the revelation for a moment then tilted her head as she looked at him, eyes glistening with worry. “Did he say something damning?” she asked carefully.

 

“No. But he said enough to give me cause to have him closely watched. I told Sansa to stay away from him, not to act against us, or she’d regret it. I also had him put in his room, ordered him to stay there unless summoned.”

 

Her hand rose to his chest, settling beneath the scar at his heart, eyes focused on her thumb tracing along the edge. “What should I do about him?”

 

He gently cupped her cheek and turned her eyes to his. “Exactly what you said. If he betrays you, kill him.”

 

She frowned. “Part of me wants him gone now, not to wait for that, just get it over with.”

 

He nodded. “I know, me too. It may be me, so fresh from getting murdered," he sighed and she laid back down against him, holding him close. He kissed the top of her head. "But something feels off. I didn’t actually hear him conspiring against you though. He was only baiting my sister. It was almost as if he were trying to get her to admit to conspiring against you.”

 

“Obviously he’s planning something. I think he always is. Maybe he wants to marry her, have more power. He married Lysa Arryn and killed her to get the Vale. He could do the same to get the North under his influence. Though I don't believe he'd kill her. Much less reason to turn some of your lords against me?"

 

"I doubt he would, not the way he looks at her." He shook his head, disgusted. “I never heard him say the words, but Sansa did tell me that he was vying for her. She turned him down."

 

She craned her head back and looked up at him. “What if she changes her mind? She would be as guilty as he is,” she said softly.

 

He met her gaze, anger and pain eating at him that he simply couldn't trust his own sibling. He nodded, no choice but to admit she was right. “I know. I don’t… I don’t know how to make her see reason. Nothing I say seems to make any difference.”

 

“I think I should speak to her.”

 

“Do you think that’s wise?”

 

“It’s better than not, then having to kill her later,” she answered quietly. They both fell silent, her fingers tracing over the muscles of his chest as he kept his lips pressed against her hair, his mind spinning helplessly. “Would I be wasting my time?” she asked a beat later.

 

He wished he could say one way or the other. But the truth was he didn’t know Sansa as he'd thought. Perhaps if she was faced with the ramifications of what she was possibly planning she might withdraw. He could only hope. But he didn’t want to give the Queen false assumptions. “Possibly. But you might have more luck than I do. She thinks I’m a fool.”

 

She gave a soft snort. “No telling what she thinks of me." Jon knew, he remembered Sansa’s words all too clearly: foreign whore . The queen cuddled closer to him, her lips pressing against his collarbone. “I’ll speak with her tomorrow.”

 

“And if she says something she shouldn’t?”

 

“I’m not going to remove her tongue." He knew she was trying to reassure him, but he still felt uneasy about it all. “Besides, what could she say that I haven’t heard before. A foreign queen. A foreign whore. Worthless woman. When I was in Essos, the man who'd been the leader of the Second Sons, the Titan’s Bastard, Mero, suggested that he’d slept with me in a pleasure house. And that's not even the worst that's been said about me.” She shook her head and he brushed his fingers along the curve of her hip. “Stupid men spouting stupid words.”

 

This wasn’t a stupid man. This was his sister. And as angry as he was at her, as betrayed as he felt, as contented as he was with the woman he held in his arms, he wasn't sure if he could watch one kill the other.

 

She heaved a sigh and entwined her fingers with his. “Please don't worry. Sansa doesn't need to love me, only respect my place as queen. I’ll meet with her alone and we’ll come to some sort of understanding, one way or another." She looked up at him, bringing their entwined hands to her lips and placing a kiss to his thumb. "I want peace between us, for your sake, as well as mine."

 

He leaned his forehead against hers, his eyes falling closed. "Thank you, Dany."




Chapter Text

Salted
Heaving
Winter's breathing
We're eager
And anxious
To break the silence
We're running away
From the darkest moon
We're praying our lungs
Will find us soon
Listen to the heartbeat
Rushing when you hold me
Whispering that this was once our home
Our home
Just listen to the heartbeat
Secrets
Hidden
Inside our
Old friends
We're rueful
And righteous
And quick to undress
We're running away
From the darkest moon
We're praying our lungs
Will find us soon
Listen to the heartbeat
Rushing when you hold me
Whispering that this was once our home
Our home
Just listen to the heartbeat
Rushing when you hold me
Whispering that this was once our home
Our home

Heartbeat
Haux

 

She'd told Tyrion she wanted a private meeting with Sansa and he’d been working to secure it all morning. The fiery redhead had eventually relented, saying the queen needed to come to her, in her solar. Daenerys respected the power play, but she would make her see reason before the day was out. She had to. For Jon.

 

Varys was busy working on communications with his little birds from King’s Landing while Missandei was keeping her ears open as she tended to her meals in the kitchen, with Grey Worm close by. Tyrion had retreated elsewhere, telling her he required a drink after dealing with Sansa. 

 

So she walked alone with her guards, passing Jon in the yard, once more demonstrating to some children how to hold their swords. The sight did things to her heart she didn't wish to think on. Tormund worked along with him, instructing another group and was the first to spot her. "DRAGON QUEEN!" he shouted loud enough for everyone to hear. She couldn’t help but smile as he nudged Jon who was staring up at her. She gave him a nod, hoping he could see the heat in her eyes from such a distance.  

 

She finally reached the solar, finding Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne outside the door. Before she could speak to either of them, Brienne opened the door allowing her into the room. Sansa didn’t bother looking up as she entered, continuing to write on the parchment in front of her. 

 

Another power play . Too busy to meet, too busy to even look up

 

Daenerys took a deep breath in an attempt to guard her emotions. She knew Sansa would try to take advantage of any weakness if she saw. The point of this meeting was to show she didn’t have any weaknesses, only strength, and if Sansa sought to challenge that she would be severely disappointed.

 

“Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me, my Lady,” she said as she looked around the room. She would wait for Sansa to tell her to sit. If she wanted to play these juvenile games, she’d let her. For now. She would give her some semblance of control, let her believe she was in charge of how this went, but by the time Daenerys left the room, there would be no doubt who leads and who followed. Whether Sansa liked her or not was irrelevant. She simply had to adhere to the concept of her power. 

 

“I told Tyrion I didn’t have long." She finally gestured to one of the chairs and Daenerys sat, back straight, hands folded in her lap. “I have a lot of things to do. Rooms to get sorted.”

 

All the things to blame her for. “Yes, I’m sure your day is full of organization.”

 

Sansa put the quill down, folded her hands over her desk and finally gave her the courtesy of looking at her. “How can I help you, Your Grace?”

 

She bit back a chuff and licked her lips. “It’s funny that you phrase it that way,” she said with a tilt of her head. “I came to the North because you requested our help. Your letter to Tyrion sounded dire, that your side wouldn’t win the battle without our help. We arrived, saved your home, and yet I can’t help but feel you aren’t happy with us being here, and to a degree, feel threatened by our presence. So, I must ask, why did you ask for our help if you didn’t want us here?”

 

Her answering smile was tight. “I didn’t say I didn’t want you here,” she evaded.

 

Daenerys eyed her skeptically. “Let us not play games. They’re for children and we’re grown women who have endured the harsh realities of this world. In fact, I would say you and I have had similar experiences. Both betrayed and used by those we trusted.” She hoped she could make a connection with her, help her see the pettiness was pointless and unnecessary. 

 

But she also had to make her understand she would not tolerate treasonous behavior, even from Jon’s sister.

 

“However, you’ve made it very clear that you don’t want me or my armies here after we rode to aid you. Our original plan was to land on Dragonstone, my ancestral home that I had not been to since I was born. It would have been a glorious homecoming,” she said with a slight nod before she stood and walked around the room to look at the artifacts scattered throughout. “I followed the council of my Hand, your former husband, and we rode to your aid, arrived just in time to save your brother’s life. He’s grateful, as are the Free Folk. But I can’t seem to shake the feeling that the one person who brought us here is the one who is least happy we’ve come.”

 

Sansa appeared to be weighing her words, her blue eyes staring at her hands. She pressed her lips together, a sour look taking over her face. “Your Grace, I care about my home and its people. I’ve had many come to me and express their concerns about your armies. They don’t trust them.”

 

It took all she had not to glare at her. “They didn’t seem to have that opinion when my men swarmed the field and saved their lives," she responded calmly instead. "Nor should they now. We helped them win a battle that wasn’t our concern. Stark or Bolton wouldn’t have mattered. We could've rooted out a pitiful or spiteful Lord, just as I will in this case.” She avoided Sansa's gaze as she examined some of the needlework that sat over the hearth, letting her take the threat however she would. “But, they should be afraid," she went on. "The Dothraki are the most formidable army in the world. The only army that had ever been able to repel them were the Unsullied,” she said as she glanced at her. “I have the largest Khalasar ever assembled and they have sworn to no longer rape and pillage, but fight for me. For honor and glory. The Unsullied decided to stay and fight for me after I freed them. Neither is a threat to anyone except my enemies.”

 

Sansa was quiet as Daenerys turned and faced her again, a slight tilt to her head. “Are you my enemy, Sansa?” She didn’t respond, but Daenerys gave her a cold smile anyway, her frustration growing. “Hard to answer that, isn’t it? You don’t want to say something that isn’t true. However, at the same time, you fear to tell me how you feel; that you don’t want me here, don’t want my help, or have any intention of bending the knee to me. And possibly, won’t actually have to lift a finger to do anything to be rid of me as Lord Baelish is more than happy to serve you if he has the right… incentive .”

 

Sansa's blue eyes flashed with anger and hatred, but Daenerys remained calm and cool. She watched Sansa work to regain her composure. "I’m sure that’s what you believe," she said, her words clipped and precise, vague though they were.

 

“Let’s not pretend like the other person is a fool, either. I’m not doing that to you, I would appreciate it if you’d extend the same courtesy,” she snipped. “Were you the one who had the man shoot an arrow at my window?”

 

The look of surprise on Sansa's face was unguarded and Daenerys wondered if it was at being accused of such a thing or being caught. “I am not, Your Grace," she was quick to respond. "I may not want you here, but I wouldn’t become a Queenslayer because of it.”

 

Daenerys thought that was probably as honest as she was likely to get from her. She took in the words, though, and rolled them around her mind. She'd finally admitted she didn't want them in Winterfell, claimed she wouldn’t stoop to kill her. “What do you want, my Lady?”

 

“I want...” Sansa hesitated, eyes dropping to her hands, fingers fidgeting. Daenerys could tell she was trying to decide how honest to be, but when her blue eyes met hers again, she knew the words she spoke would be what laid within her heart. “I want the North to be independent and for you to go South and leave us.”

 

She didn’t say anything at first. It was as she expected, but she was still having trouble understanding why. She knew Jon’s feelings on the matter. He didn’t like the idea of Northern Independence, knew they wouldn't survive long without the other kingdoms. He’d all but sworn he’d ride South with her when the time came. Not surprising, Sansa hadn’t said anything about him in her plans. Was that because he hadn’t fit? That he was expected to die in a future battle, as she'd hoped he would've before? She knew that’s what Jon suspected. It was time to push for more truths.

 

“And where does your brother fit in with all of this?" she asked. "He’s a part of it, too.”

 

Sansa gave the barest shrug. “Jon... would go with you.”

 

For some reason, Daenerys felt herself grow angry at the statement on his behalf. “I see. Abdicate all responsibilities to the North, leave with me, and leave you as the queen of your independent North?”

 

She nodded. “You asked what I wanted. That’s what I want.”

 

Though it was troubling enough how she would cast Jon out, she found it even more so that she didn’t seem to understand how dependent on the rest of the country the North was. Tyrion and Varys had done an extensive job in telling her how the North relied on the other kingdoms. Did she not see it, or did she not want to? 

 

“And what about your people, Lady Sansa?”

 

“They want to be free from the South.”

 

She raised her eyebrows at her as she stepped closer. “Do they, or you, realize that’s not possible?” Sansa’s face remained a stone mask. “How much of your resources come from southern houses? How much of your grain comes from the Reach, or your vegetables, fruits? Fabrics? Wine? The only real resource the North has is its people. And I can promise you when I take the throne, and you have declared yourself Queen of the North, there won’t be a kingdom who will honor trade with you.”

 

She moved back to the chair and sat down face to face with her. “I already have Highgarden, Dorne, and the Iron Islands. You may think your shared history with Theon might sway him to your side, but Theon is not the one in command. He has stepped aside to give the title to his sister. Olenna Tyrell, from what Tyrion tells me, was friendly toward you, but understand, she is a ruthless woman and won’t do anything unless it suits her, and believe me, making an enemy of me won’t.” She leaned forward, hands clasped, elbow resting on the arm of her chair. “Perhaps you think the Eyrie will help you. They could try. They would fail. The Riverlands was once full of your family members, but no more. Brynden Tully was killed by the Lannisters, Edmure Tully hasn’t been seen since, and the Twins are being held by Walder Frey’s young wife who is being protected by my ally’s guards. The Westerlands, the crownlands… they will turn to me. You don’t, and will not have allies.”

 

Sansa simply stared, as if she hadn't heard a word she said. She frowned and continued, hoping she could make the girl understand the danger it would put the North in to challenge her. “Your people would starve and it would fall to you to figure it out and there’s nothing to figure out. I could be bloodthirsty about it, blockade all the ports, send my men to ravage this country, but I wouldn’t have to do that,” she said quietly, and even she heard the threatening edge her voice had carried. “They would leave you in droves. Abandon their homes to protect their families.” She shook her head, intent to make her see reason. “And those that didn’t leave would rebel and oust you from power. I don’t want any of that to happen. I want us to find a solution where we work together for the betterment of your people. If you care so much for them, and not your ambition, then listen to what I’m telling you. There is no scenario where the North survives without the rest of the Seven Kingdoms.”

 

Sansa shook her head. “And that’s what you would do? Allow people to suffer?”

 

She sighed in disappointment, realizing anything short of giving Sansa what she wanted and leaving her to suffer the consequences would be used to make herself a victim, and Daenerys the tyrant. 

 

“No, my Lady, I would leave you to rule and figure it out. Part of being a leader is dealing with people being unhappy with your rule. Realizing your failures are the reason for their suffering. It’s a part of ruling I hate, but it’s something that we must face.” She reached out and took her hand, gave it a firm squeeze. “I am not here to be your enemy. I came to help you because it was a good move for me politically, but also because my home was taken from me. I’ve been chasing it all my life. I thought to bring my armies to help you take back your home would be met with appreciation, and it seems to be by most, but not by the one person that asked us for help.”

 

Sansa was not doing well under her scrutiny, breathing ragged, jaw clenched, a frown etched upon her pretty face. She pulled her hand away, dropping it to her lap. “My entire life has been dictated by someone else," she said, voice hard, but somehow quavering. "First my parents. Then Joffrey and Cersei," their names spit with pure venom. "Tywin. My Aunt Lyssa. Littlefinger. Roose and Ramsay Bolton," she hissed, blue eyes swimming with furious tears. She swallowed thickly and wiped them away with a demure hand, gathering herself.

 

It was clear to Daenerys then. She'd suspected it before, but couldn't be certain, with only her past to go on. While her scars were deep, Sansa's went much deeper, cutting into her mind as well as her heart. They'd both turned black with bitterness and fear. Reason would have little effect on her. 

 

"The North has been decimated since the War of Five Kings," she went on once she'd collected herself. Apparently deciding to hide the truth behind other convincing arguments. "My brother Robb died, my mother... I understand my people's reluctance to side with anything that might pull them into another war.”

 

My people. Already hers in her mind.

 

Daenerys cleared her throat and sat back, eyeing her skeptically. “Yet, if your brother is to be believed, and I think he is, another war is coming. If I take my forces and go South, leave the North as you want, you will face that alone. Tormund said the army is as large as mine.” She shook her head, wishing the girl would see how futile all of this was, but knowing she wouldn't. “You don’t even have as many men as I have in just my Unsullied. Believe me when I say I understand not wanting to be under someone else’s control. My own brother sold me to my husband... but a ruler is a subject to their people. While your brother hasn’t bent the knee and I have not asked, I do still consider the North one of my kingdoms and its people mean something to me.” She watched the conflict flit over Sansa's face, unsure if her words rang true or false. “I won’t allow you or anyone else to harm them if I can avoid it.”

 

Sansa was only slightly younger than herself, had seen true horrors in the world. Horrors Daenerys wouldn't wish on anyone. She couldn't help but feel sympathy toward her. However, she wasn’t willing to give her an inch if it meant she could spare her life and keep her from doing something stupid like rebel. But their talk of wars did raise the question as to whether or not Sansa believed Jon about the army of the dead. 

 

“I must ask, my Lady, your brother believes the dead are coming South. How do you intend to fight that threat? Do you even believe it exists?”

 

Sansa tilted her head, eyes bright and defiant. “You believe him. Why does it matter if I do or not?”

 

“If you were to rule over the North and you and your people fell, that would pose a problem for the rest of my kingdoms. I’m curious as to your opinion on the matter.”

 

“Jon believes it.”

 

“That doesn’t tell me if you do.”

 

She looked down at her desk, straightened some of the parchments. “He has his reasons and I can't say I honestly know what I believe. The Wall has stood for thousands of years. If they're real, it’s kept them out thus far. Hard to imagine they would be able to get through it.”

 

She nodded, it was relatively sound logic, except… “The Wall is magic if I remember my history correctly, and the army of the dead would also have to be some sort of magic. I would think it was a foregone conclusion that magic would find a way to overcome if it was desperate enough.”

 

Sansa shrugged a shoulder. “You believe him. It shouldn’t matter if I do.”

 

Daenerys wondered if Jon knew her opinion on that. Would she even prepare her people for a potential war? Would she listen to reason as to how to fight it? She doubted it. 

 

“I see. And if I take your brother with me, as you wish me too, and leave you the North… If the Wall falls, and the dead march on Winterfell, what will you do? What army will you use to fight them? The Free Folk are loyal to Jon, not you. The Northmen, what few of them remain, don’t appear to have loyalty to you, either. So, allow me to ask, again, what do you intend to do? Tormund and Lord Snow have said that fire is effective. I happen to have three full-grown dragons. I also have two large, well-trained armies. What do you have?”

 

Sansa sat straighter in her chair and her blue eyes hardened to ice. She had lost and she knew it, but that meant her patience for the conversation was over. “Is that all, Your Grace?” she asked, proving just that.

 

She nearly chuckled at her but turned it inward, let it feed her fire. “Is it? Or should I be expecting a knife in the back?” She moved to the edge of her seat. “Understand something. My Dothraki follow me. The Unsullied follow me. And my dragons are my children. If someone gets the bad idea to try and kill me, they will run through this country unchecked and there is not a force great enough to stop them,” she told her and stood, staring at her for a lengthy moment. “Good day, my Lady,” she said before she turned and left the room, shutting the door behind her with a bit more force than necessary. 

 

She stopped just outside it, looking up at Brienne. “I don’t believe we’ve met. Brienne of Tarth?”

 

“Yes, Your Grace,” the woman answered with a bow of her blonde head.

 

“Tormund speaks very highly of you,” Daenerys said with a smile and Brienne rolled her eyes. “I’ve heard of your prowess with a sword. I hope I get to see you train in the yard.”

 

Brienne stood even straighter if that was possible. “I usually train in the mornings with my squire,” she said as she gestured to the man standing beside her. “Podrick Payne.”

 

Podrick bowed his head. “Your Grace.”

 

She smiled at him. His face was soft and sweet, young. “I look forward to watching you both. Where I grew up, I didn’t see many female warriors. We were meant to be silent and pretty.”

 

“I’m neither,” Brienne countered.

 

“I disagree,” she smiled softly, “Tomorrow morning, my Lady."

 

With that, she gave a nod to her Unsullied and walked down the hall.

 

Her conversation with Sansa was troubling for several reasons, not the least of which is the girl’s open hostility toward her, but also toward her own brother. It worried her, too, that Sansa didn’t believe in the army of the dead. She knew she was aware of Jon’s resurrection, so she wondered how she could doubt his word about the dead. She truly feared the girl was beyond any reason save what she'd concocted within her own mind.

 

Then again, her council didn’t believe in a dead army either. They weren’t willing to accept Jon's word, nor Tormund's. 

 

She went in search of Jon, wanting to get him alone and ask more details of him, but then it was hard to even know what to ask. She found her way out into the yard, the clash of steel on steel a beacon to his whereabouts. Sure enough, he was sparring with Tormund, their weapons as real as her sons were. She stepped over to Davos and Tyrion who were both watching in interest. 

 

Tyrion studied her for a moment. “Went as well as my conversations with her, I see?”

 

“As if I were speaking to a brick wall,” she said softly.

 

Davos looked at her, concern knitting his brows. “I don’t think the courtyard is very safe for you, Your Grace.”

 

“It’s probably not, but I don’t want to be inside,” she said as she looked up at the grey sky full of puffy clouds. She wondered if it would snow again.

 

“Tormund claims the air smells like pig shit,” Tyrion said with a smirk.

 

She chuckled and nodded. “It does. But it’s no worse than Meereen.”

 

“That’s true,” he agreed with a nod of his head.

 

She watched Jon evade a vicious swipe from Tormund’s ax and winced, worry suddenly taking her. “How long have they been fighting and why are they using real weapons?” she asked, voice clipped even to her own ears.

 

“They started sparring right after you went inside the keep," Davos answered. "Jon has slapped his sword against Tormund’s back three times, now. And the Wildling won’t use practice weapons. Says it’s better to train with the weapon you’ll use in a battle.”

 

Jon suddenly spun out of the way, dodging Tormund’s ax again, only to swing around, his sword spinning in a flashing arc of steel and nearly slicing off a bit of the Wilding's beard. He was so light on his feet, almost like a dancer, but it was more than that. He was graceful and lethal all at once. Beautiful too. Some of his hair had come loose and sweat clung to his brow, the effort also bringing a flush to his cheeks. It reminded her very much of their time together. When he was above her, beneath her, within her. She could feel his strong thighs between hers, his calloused hands grasping at her skin, hear his moans… She shook herself of the indecent thoughts before she embarrassed herself and focused on their fighting again.

 

Tormund was swinging to win. His ax growing dangerously close to Jon’s face, much closer than she cared for. She stepped forward, the movement throwing Tormund off. He stopped advancing on her lover, turning wide eyes on her instead. He received a sound slap on the thigh with the flat of Jon's blade. The Wildling glared at him. “I owe you one,” he groused.

 

She pressed her lips together, trying to contain her smile. “Your Grace,” Jon said with a bow of his head. “How did it go?”

 

She felt defeat settle into her bones, knowing she'd have to tell him she hadn’t dissuaded Sansa from anything. “As well as can be expected.”

 

Jon nodded and she didn’t miss the look of disappointment cross his face. “I was afraid you’d say that.”

 

They both looked at Tormund who stood to the side of them, staring, his grin wide. She glanced at Jon as he shook his head and shoved at his friend. “Piss off and let me speak to the queen.”

 

The Wilding rolled his eyes. “Dragon Queen, more stories tonight?”

 

“Only if you tell me a few of your own,” she offered.

 

“I’ll bring the drink,” he said with a wink.

 

She gave him a smile and nodded. “Very well.”

 

Tormund finally walked away and she found Jon was watching her intently, his dark eyes burning into her and she nearly shifted on the spot. “What did she say?” he asked.

 

“Northern independence… you should come South with me… Northern independence.”

 

He exhaled and shook his head. “Some people don’t listen.”

 

“No, they have to learn through their failures.” She licked her lips and looked at her hands. “I didn’t eat this morning as I was greatly distracted,” she said, meeting his eyes. He gave a ghost of a smile, it was a wicked thing. He was obviously thinking about their morning escapades in her bed as well. “I am going to the Dothraki camp to grab some food. Would you escort me?”

 

“I don’t think we’re fooling anyone,” he said gruffly as he sheathed his sword at his hip.

 

“Humor me, Lord Snow.”

 

He didn't succeed in hiding his hungry grin. “Yes, Your Grace." He walked to Davos and took his cloak back from the man and put it on. “I’ll be escorting the Queen to the Dothraki camp. If someone is looking for us, tell them to stop."

 

Tyrion looked between the two of them, his mouth and brow turned down in a frown. “Is this going to become an everyday occurrence?” he questioned.

 

Jon glanced at her, but she allowed him to answer. “Yes. Figure out something to tell people,” he said with a shrug and turned back to Daenerys. They walked down to the field, Jon's smile growing with each step.

 

"You're smiling, Jon Snow. Care to share?"

 

“I think Tormund likes you more than me.”

 

She laughed. “It’s the dragons.”

 

He shook his head. “I don’t think it is. I think it’s everything about you,” he countered, his voice low and raspy, just the way she liked it.

 

She smiled and took his arm. “For someone not known for flattery, you excel at it.” 

 

His complexity rose to the surface, eyes turning to smoldering coals, while a flush colored his cheeks. She'd never known a more distracting man.

 

Her sons sensed her nearness then, rising from their slumber, stretching wings and shaking sleepy heads. Seeing them brought back thoughts of her conversation with Sansa. There needed to be another witness. There needed to be someone that could make her allies listen. She stopped Jon with a tug to his arm, her eyes still focused on the dragons. “Change of plans, Jon Snow. We can eat after,” she told him.

 

He tilted his head in question. “What did you have in mind, Your Grace?”

 

“I need you to take me North,” she said slowly, hoping he would understand her request.

 

His dark brow drew down over his lovely eyes. “North?”

 

“Part of the conversation I had with your sister regarded the army of the dead. She doesn’t believe you," she told him gently. His eyes fell closed and he tilted his head back, giving a weary sigh. She squeezed his arm. The simple comfort brought his gaze back to hers. "I’ve already mentioned the army to Baelish and Lord Royce, you saw their reaction. And while I find you and Tormund credible, especially given all I know about you, I think my allies will need to hear that I’ve seen it as well.”

 

He shook his head, looking as if he was going to disagree with her. “Your Grace, it's a dangerous endeavor.”

 

She nodded. “Which is why you won’t ride Rhaegal. We’ll only take Drogon and we’ll stay as high as we can. But this needs to happen and it needs to happen today. My allies are expected anytime now. I need to see it for myself before they arrive.”

 

He stared at the dragons and then back at her, his pretty face etched with worry. “We don’t even know if we’ll be able to find them.”

 

She began walking toward her sons, undeterred. “Where was the last place you saw them?”

 

“Hardhome,” he said lowly, catching up with her. 

 

“Where is that?”

 

“East. The closest castle would be Eastwatch by the Sea.”

 

“Then we’ll start there,” she said as they reached the dragons. She reached out to pet each one and leaned her head against Viserion's snout. “Stay here, my loves.”

 

She walked to Drogon and climbed on, staring down at her lover who looked apprehensive at best. She wasn’t sure if he was more worried about seeing the army of the dead or riding on Drogon. He finally climbed up behind her and settled onto the dragon’s back. He didn’t take her waist as she thought he might, but reached around her instead and grabbed onto another set of spikes. Such a quick learner . She grinned as they took off into the air, hopeful they would find the proof she needed. 

 

---

 

Jon thought their venture was supremely foolish. He didn’t like the idea of only the two of them traveling North alone, dragon or no. Especially when no one else knew. But she was the queen and he understood all the reasons why she wanted to go. To tell her no would've only made her more determined. And a small part of him was grateful, he'd felt alone in this fight for too long. If they found them… He'd have an ally like no other. And they would all have a chance at surviving.

 

She raised a bit as the Wall came into view. He wished he could see her face, hear her thoughts on it. Was she awed? Or was it just something else to add to the miraculous things she’d already seen? She’d brought dragons back into the world. She could walk through fire. Was she even slightly impressed? 

 

They flew over the Wall and Jon looked down at the tiny men scrambling about at the top. He wondered if they were all as amazed by Drogon as he’d been when she entered the field at Winterfell? No doubt they were. 

 

The Haunted Forest went by quickly, everything flying beneath them in a rush, a blur of grey and white and black. Drogon began to rise higher in the sky, the air grew even colder. Could the dragon sense something? He’d heard they were intelligent, but he couldn’t help but question if the magic called out to him. 

 

Dragons were magic. Dany was magic. The good kind. Lights in the world. The army of the dead was something else, something much worse. They brought only darkness and death. They didn’t just bring the storm, they were the storm. 

 

A mountain sat in front of them and Jon could see it over the ridge, the blue-grey mist, the storm. The hair at the back of his neck stood on end. He tightened his hold on the dragon, lowering his body a bit more, pressing Daenerys lower as well. She glanced at him over her shoulder as they crested the top of the ridge, the moment she looked forward again he felt her physically jolt in his arms. 

 

They both stared down at the hundreds of thousands of dead walking South. “That’s them!” he called. “That’s the army!”

 

The sight of them was worse than any of his nightmares. There were so many he couldn’t see their end on the horizon. But then, he spotted them, the sentinels on horseback overlooking the shuffling dead. And then another, the King of them all. He chanced to release a spike to point him out to her. “That’s the Night King! The one in the middle,” he yelled. Drogon let out a mighty growl as he circled. But Jon couldn’t take his eyes off the evil being, those glowing blue eyes locked upon them. He watched as he dismounted from his horse and one of the walkers put an ice spear in his hand. 

 

Slowly he drew it back and lined up on Drogon, the lethal point following them across the sky. Jon's heart stopped. He clung tighter to the dragon, pressing harder into Dany. “FLY FASTER! LEAVE, NOW!” he roared.

 

Daenerys jerked around, immediately seeing the threat and her body lowered tightly to Drogon’s back, pulling left just before the ice spear whizzed by them, Drogon having banked hard to avoid being hit. They flew away, Drogon all power beneath them, and even Jon could feel the anger radiating from the beast as he turned and looked back at the army. His heart was racing, mind spinning through the implications of what had just happened. The Night King had tried to bring down a dragon. A horrifying thought and he would've been a party to it, to the dragon falling, to the Queen's certain death.

 

He felt utterly sick.

 

They were both still and silent, frozen with shock and fear and the cold bitter winds until they were well South of the Wall. Whether the dragon decided or Daenerys ordered him, they touched down just north of Winterfell and she had wiggled out of his arms and was off Drogon before he could even process she had moved. He followed her down and watched her pace all the while feeling the oppressive weight of guilt sitting heavy as a boulder in his gut. 

 

She'd come to Westeros only intending to fight one war and against a living enemy. Now, though... He braced himself to face the possibility of her wrath for bringing her attention to a much more dangerous foe. One who had attempted to take her dragon from her. Her child.

 

She turned on him and he felt pinned beneath her gaze, only to realize there was something much worse than wrath clouding her features. Fear . Her blue eyes were wide and wild, skin gone pale as Ghost, her tiny body trembling. “They’re real. It’s all real," she breathed. 

 

“I’m afraid it is,” he said softly, wanting nothing more than to gather her up and protect her from the horror of it all. 

 

She shook her head, a rush of air leaving her as if someone had forced it from her with a lethal blow. “The Night King. That spear. He nearly hit Drogon. Do you think he would've been able to bring him down?”

 

He turned his head away from her, unable to look her in the eye and confirm her fear. But he knew she was aware of the danger they had encountered, her frantic response said it all. She resumed pacing at his silent answer, a deep frown darkening her face. “I have to tell all of them. But how do I convince them without taking them to see for themselves?”

 

“I don’t know,” he said as he stepped into her path and took her arms in his hands. “But we can do it together. There are hundreds of Wildlings who have seen the army. Men, women, and children. I’ve seen it. You’ve seen it. We’ll figure out a way to convince them. We will because we must.”

 

She shook her head again, all the hope and light seems to leave her. “And what do I do? Do I abandon my fight with Cersei in favor of this? Dorne and Highgarden are my allies because I promised them fire and blood. Retribution for their lost family members. How do I-I turn from that?” she asked, voice trembling.

 

He hated seeing her so uncertain. Since the moment he met her, she'd been the most confident person he’d ever known, and she had every reason to be. But he could see her faith was shaken, and it tore at him, good as the steel blades had that cold night months ago. He needed to help her, say something to give her firmer ground to stand upon. He fell back on his training and lessons with Robb, their father and his wisdom. “Perhaps you fight that battle first?” he suggested.

 

“It could take months,” she said with a shake of her head. “Less time if I could sail my forces South, but Euron Greyjoy has a thousand ships. I can’t hope to fight that on the water without using my dragons.”

 

“Then perhaps that’s what you need to do.”

 

She sighed, chewing on her bottom lip, brow furrowed. “My advisors would be against it. It would put me in danger.”

 

“You’re the queen, the choice is yours.”

 

“Yes, and the queen has to listen to the counsel of others whether she likes it or not.” She shook her head again, those big blue-gold eyes looking up at him. “What do I do, Jon? I know what needs to be done, but I can’t abandon the country to Cersei or the people continue to suffer. I can’t abandon the North or the dead could get here before we’re ready,” she said as she leaned her head against his shoulder. 

 

He wrapped his arms around her and held her close, offering what little comfort he could. It was a lot to take in, he knew, and she had an even larger task ahead of her. He hated he was any part of the burdens upon her shoulders, but he'd support her through it all, help her any and every way possible.

 

“We’ll present it to your council, tell them what you’ve seen," he told her softly. "We can… figure everything else out from there.”

 

---

 

Once they arrived back at Winterfell, her body feeling as if it might collapse from shock, she asked Jon to go into the camp with her. She needed to be away from the prying eyes of those in the keep. Those who would use her vulnerability to hurt her. 

 

One of the Dothraki women followed them into her tent with a tray of food and quickly left, Jon tying the flaps closed behind her. 

 

She watched him as he removed his cloak and sword belt, then looked over the food that had been brought for them, picking up a bite of meat and eating it. A flush of anger took her for reasons she couldn't explain. “How can you eat at a time like this?” she snipped.

 

He looked up at her with wide, innocent eyes as he licked sauce off his thumb. Gods , did everything he did have to heat her blood to a blaze? She had no idea something so ordinary could stir her. She folded her arms over her chest with a huff and his shoulders sagged. “I suppose, Your Grace—“

 

“Dany,” she reminded quietly, feeling guilty for her ire.

 

He smiled at her, small and soft. “Dany," he corrected. Her name on his lips stirred her too, far too much. She turned and walked to the furs, he followed, the tray of food in hand. "I suppose I'm used to the idea? I’ve known they were coming for much longer than you,” he said carefully.

 

“You’re not panicked?”

 

He gave a hesitant twist of his head, nose and mouth pinched. “They’re still at least two weeks from reaching the Wall. Then they have to figure out a way over it or through it. And after that, get here. We have a lot of time to make plans between now and then.”

 

Heaving a great sigh, she sank down onto the stack of furs. “I thought this would be so easy.”

 

She could feel the intensity of his gaze as he sat down beside her, placing the tray between them, and her eyes met his as if pulled by an unseen thread. “Which part?” he asked.

 

“Conquering Westeros," she flung a hand out, then propped her chin on it, "becoming Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. I had three powerful allies, two large armies, three dragons, and an armada. I thought I would come and save the North and its people would be grateful, join me as well. I know I can take the capital with little to no fuss,” she said with a shake of her head. “After all, I fought through, all I endured to get here, I should've known it wouldn’t be that easy.”

 

"I'm sorry," he said, and she knew he meant it, his tone heavy with guilt.

 

She reached out and rubbed his knee. "None of it is your fault," she assured him. He gave her the tiniest of smiles as he covered her hand with his own and something within his eyes called to her, told her she could trust him with the desires of her heart, the ones she kept hidden from all but herself. And just like that, the key turned and the window slowly opened, her deepest truth slipping free. “To be honest, all of this isn’t what I wanted when I was younger," she confessed. "When I was little, Viserys and I lived with Ser Willam Derry in a house in Braavos. It had a red door and a lemon tree. It was the only time I ever felt like I was home. That’s what I really wanted." She hadn't let herself think of it in some time, but now that she had, that familiar ache took her, left her feeling empty and alone. 

 

But she wasn't alone. Jon laced his fingers with hers and squeezed gently. "I think a home is what we all want," he rasped after a moment, his lush eyelashes brushing against his cheeks as he focused on their entwined hands. "Maybe there's still time to find it." He lifted his gaze to hers, that barely-there smile appearing again. "We're not so old yet."

 

She smiled despite the pain within her chest and let more confessions fall from her heart. “I became queen because I was the only one who could help my people. Who could free them from their bonds? I did that, and now, it’s all about belonging here again. Where I was born, the home I was forced to flee. The place that was stolen from my family. If I don’t belong on the Iron Throne, where do I belong?”

 

The question left her feeling too raw and open. She didn’t like to think about the consequences of her choices, or how unstable her future had become. She almost felt like the little girl she'd left behind on the Dothraki sea again.

 

Jon's thumb rubbed across hers, bringing her eyes back to his. “Perhaps, you belong here. The savior of all mankind,” he said solemnly.

 

“A lofty title I'm not sure I am capable of fulfilling. Can we even defeat them?”

 

"I don't know, but we can give the fuckers a fight," he was quick to answer, wolfish snarl and all. 

 

She gave him a small smile that brought another to his own lips, but it quickly faded into a frown. “You truly have no doubts about Cersei?” he asked.

 

“I know Euron is her ally and has brought her a thousand ships. I know Jaime Lannister is her second in command and together they’d do anything to live. And I know she’s used Wildfire to blow up the Sept of Balor and killed everyone in House Tyrell, save Lady Olenna. She killed her own uncle, Kevan in the process. I know she will do whatever it takes to stay exactly where she is for however long she can.” She shook her head. “What that looks like, I don’t know. But I believe she can be rooted out, that she must. Not because of who she is to me, but because millions will continue to suffer if she isn't."

 

He ran a hand over his brow. An attempt to rub away the deep furrows of worry, it seemed. It didn't work. “Do you want me with you?” he finally asked, voice weak and hopeful all at once.

 

Her heart gave a painful tug and she looked up at him, a small smile on her face. “Only if you want to be.”

 

He dropped his eyes down to the platter. “Are you done with this?”

 

She nodded, her appetite nonexistent after seeing the army of the dead and nearly getting Drogon hurt. 

 

Jon stood from the furs and placed it on a nearby table, then turned back to her, hand held out. She put hers in it and pulled herself up to stand in front of him. A scant second later he took her lips in a demanding kiss, tongue delving deep and stroking against hers, his beard a prickly graze over sensitive skin, so different from his plush and pleasing lips. Calloused, gentle hands cupped her face, his breath warm and ragged mixing with hers as they tried to drain each other to the dregs. He tore himself away too soon and she had to grip his wrists as an anchor. “I will stay with you as long as you’ll have me," he swore so vehemently her knees nearly buckled.

 

A whimper escaped her and she gave a small nod, threading her fingers into his hair as she stood on her toes to better reach his mouth. She needed to ground herself in his touch and the wants of their bodies before her heart simply fell into his hands and made itself his, never to return again.

 

He wrapped an arm around her waist, lifting her from the ground as if she weighed nothing, and her legs went around his slim hips of their own accord. She hated all the layers they had between them and Jon must have as well. He pulled away, tearing at her coat with one greedy hand. She wiggled from his grasp and neither were gentle in how quickly they worked to remove each other's clothes. The chainmail she had on was the hardest to get rid of and they both cursed it as he shoved it to her feet and kicked it away with his foot. His gambeson, which she was quickly growing to hate, followed it, with her grumbling about the North needing so many layers. 

 

The rest fell away quickly and naked, at last, he gathered her back into his arms, lifting her again. Her legs linked around him once more, trapping his cock between them. She ground her slick and swollen cunt against it and he moaned into her mouth, leaving her smiling against his lips as he climbed onto the furs and laid her back gently. 

 

He kissed his way over her jaw and down her neck to her breasts, all while she squirmed beneath him, doing her best to focus on him and him alone. His lips pulling at her nipple were wonderfully distracting, keeping the displeasure of her worried thoughts away, the nip of his teeth and the swirl of his tongue an exquisite escape. His mouth was absolutely sinful. She never wished it to leave her body. 

 

“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the taste of your skin,” he murmured, releasing her nipple with a wet pop, his hand coming up to cup her other breast as he switched to it. 

 

“I’m more than willing to let you try,” she whispered. 

 

He lifted his head and gave her the softest smile she’d ever seen and her heart tumbled over beneath her ribs. She reached out and stroked his cheek, unable to resist. She would keep him, always, if that’s what he wanted. 

 

He kissed her palm and went back to work, his mouth tasting as his hands ventured down her body, deft fingers finally sliding along her folds. He let out a deep groan at what they found. “You’re soaked, Dany,” he growled against her skin, her hips lifting and twisting to keep his explorations where she wanted them most. 

 

“Your kisses do that to me,” she breathed. “It’s completely your fault.”

 

“I take full responsibility for my crimes, Your Grace,” he said as he scraped his teeth over her hip. She squirmed and bucked, past ready for him to feast upon her cunt. “What penance shall I serve?” he asked, eyes black as pitch staring back at her.

 

She gave him a wicked smile. “Clean up the mess you made, Jon Snow,” she whispered. 

 

His delicious tongue swiped against her folds and she hummed in approval. One of her legs was lifted over his shoulder and the other pushed to the furs. He gazed up at her, his dark eyes holding a ravenous glint as he pressed open mouth kisses over her sensitive skin, sucking each fold, licking them clean. She didn’t look away, couldn't , watching as his warm, pink tongue slipped between her folds and flicked at the hardened nub peaking out. She snatched the tie out of his hair and slid her fingers into the thick raven curls, grasping a handful and holding him to her. He did exactly as she hoped. Full lips sealed around her, and that clever tongue went to work, stealing her breath and setting her legs to trembling as she rewarded his efforts with a keening cry.

 

He had her ready to split apart within moments. The closer she got to the edge, the more intense his purpose, tongue flicking and swirling around her little bud, two thick fingers plunging inside her, taking her hard and fast. Her toes curled, hips shifting up beneath him, straining for more as she rose to the peak. Finally, he sucked the sensitive pearl into his mouth and she collapsed back onto the furs, moaning his name as she tore into a thousand pieces. When she came back to herself he was placing sweet, soft kisses along the inside of her thigh, then moved up between her still quivering thighs and settled himself down.

 

“Apologies, Your Grace. Seems I made a bigger mess,” he murmured against her lips, giving them a slow, teasing kiss. 

 

She tried to look stern as she pushed him onto his back, eyebrow raised over narrowed eyes. “I suppose you’ll have to make it up to me a different way, Jon Snow," she demanded, turning and facing his feet as she straddled his hips. His fingers immediately dug into her arse, grabbing and spreading her open, his groan loud as she leaned forward and seated him inside of her. 

 

She braced her hands on the furs between his legs and stroked her aching cunt over him. He was suddenly sitting up, his chest pressed to her back, fingers squeezing her breasts, lips and teeth pressing into her shoulder. The angle wasn’t as good, but his hands smoothing over her skin more than made up for it. He shifted beneath her and slid out of her as he attempted to lay her on her stomach. She turned and put her hand to his chest, stopping him. She couldn’t. “Not… not like that.”

 

The lusty haze fled from his eyes and a look of distress settled into its place. He moved back from her and she knew she’d have to tell him, but she didn’t want to relive it, not then. She wanted him to make her forget feeling so helpless and vulnerable. She climbed into his lap and brushed her fingers over his jaw, looked into his worried eyes. “I told you, the Dothraki aren’t gentle,” she whispered. “Let’s leave it at that.”

 

He still looked uncertain, so she leaned in and kissed him, sliding her tongue into his mouth, pulling at his plump lips. She fisted a hand into his hair as the other reached between them and stroked over his cock. She sheathed him inside her, again, and rolled her hips around, her eyes falling closed at the pleasing stretch and pressure. 

 

It pulled a groan from him and his hands slid up her back to her shoulders, holding her as she leaned back into his arms, propping her hands on his knees, working his cock with her eager cunt. One hand slid from her shoulder, around to her breasts, pulling and pinching at each of her nipples before dropping down to her folds. She threw her head back as his thumb swirled over the little bud, slick and slippery from her wet mess. She closed her eyes, remembering him as he fought, the fierce look in his eye. The way his body strained when he was above her, fucking her. The dark looks he gave her when he thought no one was watching. 

 

Soon she was lost in thoughts of him, her past shoved to the side for her present and future, and with one more grinding thrust over him and she fell off the edge. Jon followed her only seconds later, one hand pressing her down, the other bracing him as he drove his cock up into her with several fierce grunts. Once he'd caught his breath, he lay back on the furs, taking her with him, her head resting on his shoulder as he placed soft and tender kisses along her hairline.

 

They both stayed silent, but the tension grew thick, and she knew he was going to ask before he even said the words. “You know I can’t leave it, don’t you?”

 

She sighed and eventually nodded. “Yes. I've learned that much about you.” 

 

"I don't want to hurt you," he explained, taking her hand in his and placing a kiss to her palm. "Or ever make our time together anything but pleasant."

 

How one man could be so dark and deadly, yet gentle and good all the same, she'd never know. She laced her fingers between his and tucked their hands under her chin. 

 

"The Dothraki don’t know another way. They… mount their lovers like a dog does a bitch,” she said, repeating Doreaha’s words from so long ago. “I was young, scared, and helpless, or so I thought.”

 

She sat up and put her back to him, memories invading her heart. He climbed from the bed, grabbed his cloak and wrapped it around her shoulders. She watched him pull his pants back on, frowning for ruining the mood. But as he sat beside her once more, she looked up at him and saw only patience and care. She went on. “My brother had bought a woman from a pleasure house to be one of my maids. She taught me how to make it better for me . Once I knew what to do, things changed for the better.”

 

He took her hand. “I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t be sorry. How would you know?”

 

He heaved a sigh. “Still, I wish you'd never known such—" She squeezed his hand, and moved closer to him, steering him in a different direction. He held her for a time, then finally asked, “Can I ask what happened to your husband? I know he died.”

 

She took a deep breath and blew it out, tracing her fingertips over his knuckles. “Drogo promised to take the Iron Throne for me. We stopped at a village so they could raid it and I saw one of his men beating a woman and I intervened. He took his complaint to Drogo, insulted me and Drogo both. They fought. He defeated him easily but suffered a wound. The woman I saved, a magi, a witch, asked to take care of it. But days later it festered and he fell from his horse sick with a fever. His blood riders were ready to end his life, but I wasn’t willing to give up hope. The witch told me that only death can pay for life. We sacrificed his horse, but… something went wrong. She made it go wrong. I lost my child...” she whispered, her head hanging. Jon squeezed her hand and held her tight against him, and she clung to his strength. “I never got to hold him. They told me how he was born black, with scales, and his… he died,” she finished quietly, hating the tears that rolled down her face but remembered they were for Rhaego and so she let them fall. 

 

She took a few deep breaths, gathered herself. “They took me out to see Drogo, but he didn’t respond. He was… a husk. Only a body. The man was gone. I asked her how she could do that to me. I saved her from getting raped and abused. But she told me then that she’d already been raped three times. It was all out of revenge because the Dothraki sacked her village and destroyed her people. I knew the rage inside of her because I felt it inside of myself. I had them bring Drogo back inside and I… put him out of his misery.” She looked up at Jon and he wiped away her tears. “I knew what I needed to do then. Only death can pay for life ," she told him. "My dragon eggs were put on his pyre and I had them tie her to the pyre as well.” She stared him in the eye as she sat up and let him go, steeling herself into the queen she'd become. “That’s the price I paid to hatch my dragons. A duplicitous witch, my husband, our child, and the girl I used to be.”

 

"I wish it hadn't been so steep, but it proves I'm right." 

 

"Right about what?"

 

Those warm and lovely eyes stared into hers, and she thought she might have caught a glimpse into his heart. What she saw stole her breath. "You're not like everyone else," he told her softly, voice rough and ragged. 

 

She smiled, and it felt small and fragile upon her face, the same as her heart did just then. She wasn't sure she was worth such praise, so she turned it on him. "I have been many places, known many people, and I can say the same of you." 

 

He huffed out a breath and shook his head. “ Kill the boy, Jon Snow. Winter is almost upon us. Kill the boy and let the man be born. ” She tilted her head as she looked at him, sensing a sadness that had nothing to do with her settle over him. “Your Uncle Aemon told me that before I decided to let the Wildlings South of the Wall. I sometimes wonder if he knew what would happen, or if I was a fool and misunderstood."

 

She lowered her head and smiled slightly. “I would say neither." 

 

He nodded. "You're probably right."

 

She leaned into him again, giving and taking comfort. "The more you speak of my uncle, the more I wish I could have met him.”

 

“He wished he could have met you, too. Sam said he hated the idea of you being alone in the world and wished he could go to you, to give you council and family.”

 

She fought off tears, hearing an uncle she never knew wanted to be with her as family. “Was… was he well respected?”

 

He hummed and pressed a kiss to her head. “Even the men who hated me respected his word. He had a way of dispensing wisdom with authority that people were taken aback by, sometimes. He was honest, he was kind, he loved his family and hated what happened to… all of you. But he was blind and believed he was useless. He survived at the Wall because so few people knew he was a Targaryen. When he died, it was like losing another family member.”

 

She moved closer to him and rested her head on his shoulder. “This isn’t how I imagined this afternoon going.”

 

He chuckled as he wrapped both arms around her. “Nor I. But perhaps that’s for the best if you’re going to be drinking with Tormund tonight.”

 

“We should invite Lady Brienne.”

 

He laughed then and she thought she'd never heard a more lovely sound. “She’d never come if she knew he was going to be there," he said.

 

“Make sure your sister comes and she’ll have to attend,” she said with a smile. “Besides, I think one thing your sister could use is a stiff drink.”

 

Jon shook his head. “Among other things,” he grumbled and pulled her down to the furs to curl beside him. “I’ll make sure Sansa knows her presence is being requested in the hall for dinner.”

 

“Strongly requested,” she said as she looked up at him. 

 

He nodded. “Very well. Strongly requested. Just so you know, I’ve asked Davos and Tormund to keep an eye on her activities.”

 

She tilted her head. “I have a feeling there’s more to your conversation with her and Lord Baelish than you’ve told me.”

 

“Perhaps. But I’m asking you to trust me,” he said softly. 

 

She gave him a nod. “I do," she assured him, pressing a kiss to his lips. 

 

---

 

They had redressed and left the camp, the Unsullied guards following them as they drew closer to the dragons. She was surrounded instantly and he couldn’t help but watch her, still awed by the sight. Rhaegal came forward and nudged him with his snout as he'd done many times now. Jon reached up a shaking hand and rubbed over the warm scales between his eyes, completely fascinated by the great beast. 

 

Drogon seemed to take up much of her attention, but she saved some for him, noticing his nerves maybe. “Rhaegal likes you, Jon. He wouldn’t have let you ride him if he didn’t.”

 

He nodded, never taking his eyes from the creature. “I understand, Your Grace. But he’s still a dragon and I’m not his mother.”

 

“No, but they feed off of my emotions,” she said softly, coming to his side. “Clearly they’ve determined that I’m fond of you.”

 

He smirked over at her, trying not to preen like some cocksure fool. “How are they with others?”

 

“Well, I had them locked beneath one of the pyramids in Meereen and they didn’t roast Tyrion alive when he released them from their chains.”

 

That had him scowling, he couldn't imagine her chaining them. “Why did you have them chained beneath the pyramid?”

 

Any happiness that had been in her eyes faded. She dropped her head and let Rhaegal nuzzle into her hand. “My people were coming to me to address the issues they had. A man came in and presented charred bones to me, weeping, telling me it was his young daughter who had been in a field with their flock when Drogon descended and burned them all, her with them.” She leaned her head against Viserion. “I didn’t want anyone else to get hurt if I could prevent it. I couldn’t catch Drogon. He was too large, too independent. Perhaps resented me for what I was going to do. But Rhaegal and Viserion followed me and let me lock them inside. I hated every moment of it. They were so hurt and angry with me.”

 

He'd locked Ghost up before, remembered how hard it'd been. He could imagine the grief it must have caused her.

 

She cooed at the cream dragon in Valyrian. It was a beautiful language and she spoke it as easily as she did the common tongue. The dragon chattered in return, pulled back, and shook his head. Her face softened as they watched him curl up beside Drogon. Rhaegal blew a stream of hot air in his face, a goodbye he guessed, as he watched the beast turn and join his brothers, Daenerys chuckling softly at him.

 

After a few more moments, they went back to the castle where they were met at the gate by an out of breath Davos. “My Lord. Your Grace,” he gasped as he tried to pull needed air into his lungs. “Greyjoy and Dornish banners–" he sucked in another breath of air, "on the horizon to the East.”

 

“Are they early?” Jon asked as they picked up their pace and entered the courtyard. “Where do you want to meet them?” he asked her, taking off his cloak, leaving the fur around his shoulders.

 

“The hall?” she suggested.

 

He nodded and turned to Davos. “Davos, stay out here and greet them. Someone find my sister Sansa and tell her,” he called out. One of the women ran off to do his bidding. “Tormund, come into the hall with us," he asked his friend, waving him over. "And find all the members of the Queen’s council," he called to a few more guards then escorted Daenerys into the keep.

 

The main table was quickly cleared and they took their seats. Her eyes darted around the room, and finding it mostly empty, her gaze came back to land on him while she ran careful hands over her braids. “Do I look alright?”

 

He chuffed but held back most of his amusement. He'd never seen her look anything but perfect. “You look beautiful, as you always do," he told her softly.

 

She gave him a sweet smile that had his chest feeling tight, his leathers too. 

 

Tormund drew his attention with a snort. “You never tell me I’m beautiful.”

 

Daenerys and Jon both laughed and he shoved his friend playfully. “Piss off,” he said and motioned further down the table. “Move two chairs down." 

 

Sansa entered the room, pulling her cloak over her shoulders, Brienne and Podrick following. She took her seat beside him, neither acknowledging the other. Missandei, Tyrion, Varys, and Grey Worm all rushed in, followed by several of the Dothraki and the Unsullied. They lined the room as Lord Royce and Lord Baelish entered as well. Jon started to protest, but Daenerys shushed him before he could. 

 

“He’s still considered a Lord and he bent the knee to me, not you. He needs to be here to see the power I possess,” she said quietly.

 

He didn't like it but understood. The doors squealed opened then and he drew in a deep breath to center himself. Yara and Theon Greyjoy entered first, both coming forward, Theon with much less bravado than his sister. He followed her more as a kicked pup would. All the simmering anger he had for Baelish erupted, boiling his blood at the sight of him, and Jon couldn't contain it all. He glared at him, eyes narrowed, jaw and fists clenched, his teeth grinding. Theon's eyes caught his for only a fleeting second before darting away again, his head hung low. They came to a stop in front of the table, Yara's eyes cutting between her brother, then back to him. 

 

“Lady Yara Greyjoy and Lord Theon Greyjoy,” they were announced to the Hall, both of them bowing their heads to Daenerys.

 

Theon stood there, curled and trembling like a sapling in the wind, near tears if Jon's eyes saw true. The boy he’d grown up with was gone, and something vastly different stood in his presence. But he was still the man who had betrayed Robb, Bran, and Rickon. Betrayed the memory of the man who raised him. 

 

Forgiveness would not come easy, if at all.

 

Behind them, a group of women the likes of which he'd never seen before entered the room. “Lady Ellaria Sand, and her daughters, Obara, Nymeria, and Tyene Sand.” Daenerys stood and walked around the table, her queenly smile in place. “Lady Ellaria, it is good to finally put a face with a name.”

 

The dark lady bowed her head. “Likewise, Your Grace. Though, if you needed somewhere safe to meet, we could have met at Sunspear. The weather here is a bit harsh.”

 

Daenerys' smile tightened. “I hear the weather in Sunspear can be rather harsh as well.”

 

“These are my daughters,” Ellaria said, rolling on, waving a thin, elegant hand at her children. The first daughter was shorter than the other two, but she had the gait and muscular build that told him she used a handheld weapon. “Obara, Your Grace,” she said with a nod of her head. The next one, the prettiest in his estimation, bowed her head as well. “Nymeria,” she offered. The last, and the one who seemed to have gotten her eyes stuck on him, didn’t even look at Daenerys as she introduced herself. “Tyene, Your Grace.”

 

Daenerys glanced behind her momentarily, following her gaze right to him, before she looked back at the girl, her smile even tighter. “Thank you for agreeing to meet me at Winterfell. I know the journey was out of the way for all of you.”

 

“But well worth it to finally meet you, Your Grace. We saw your dragons outside," Ellaria said. "I am glad to see they are as real as you. We are eager to see you in action," she told her, the hard edge held within her voice giving no doubt to what she meant.

 

Daenerys took in her words for a moment then clasped her hands at her waist, turning to the Greyjoys. “I hope the winds were kind?”

 

Yara nodded. “They were. Took us fewer days than expected."

 

She waved toward the table, to him and Sansa. “Ladies, my Lord, please meet the owners of the keep, Lord Jon Snow and Lady Sansa Stark.”

 

Jon stood, as did his sister. “We welcome you to our home,” he greeted, eyes focused on the Dornish ladies. He wouldn't lie. Allies of the Queen's, or no, the Greyjoys could go back where they came from and never darken his home again.

 

“We're pleased to have you," Sansa added with a well-mannered smile for their guests, though her eyes were firmly fixed on Theon. "We will be having a feast this evening in celebration of your arrival. I’m sure you must be exhausted from your travels. Let us show you to your rooms to allow you to freshen up and rest before tonight.”

 

Daenerys nodded. “Yes, and to give everyone sufficient time to recuperate from the celebration, we will wait and have our meeting tomorrow afternoon. I will see you all tonight,” she said with a small smile, waiting as they all left the room. She turned, looking at Tormund. “More stories might have to wait until after tonight,” she told him.

“Or,” he said, a wicked grin spreading within his fiery beard. “We get them all into their cups and we have a fucking party.”

 

She chuckled. “I do like your plan much better.”

 

“I knew you would, Dragon Queen.” 

 

Jon's attention was drawn to Lord Baelish as he stepped over and attempted to speak with Sansa as she was leaving the room, thankfully she brushed him off and went on her way. 

 

Littlefinger cast hateful eyes toward Jon, which he gladly returned as the Lord addressed the Queen. “Your Grace, would it be possible to speak with you in private about an urgent matter?”

 

She didn’t even hesitate before she turned to him. Jon thought she would tell him no, hoped she would, but instead she nodded. “Of course, Lord Baelish. Please, walk with me outside.”

 

Fighting with his irritation, he watched as her Unsullied guards followed them out. As did Tyrion, Varys, Missandei, and Grey Worm. 

 

Tormund frowned over at him. “What’s that about?”

 

“I’m sure he’s going to complain about his treatment,” he said, flexing his hand, wishing he was hacking away at something with Longclaw.

 

“He needs to be grateful you left him alive.”

 

Jon nodded, in unwavering agreement. “She’s the Queen, though. It’s up to her to decide.” And it was, he wouldn't question her, she'd proved her wits. All his temper was squared solely on Baelish. And Theon. And Sansa. 

 

He closed his eyes and breathed deeply through his nose, pushing down the anger and bitterness, locking it all back inside the cage within him even as it snarled and snapped, desperate for release.

 

“Speaking of the queen, where did you two sneak off to?” Tormund asked, bringing him back to himself.

 

“We didn’t sneak,” he protested half-heartedly. He ran a hand over his beard and frowned as he looked over at his friend. “She asked me to take her beyond the Wall to see the army.

 

Tormund’s face grew grim. “And did you find them?”

 

He nodded. “From what I can tell, they’re two weeks out from the Wall.”

 

His friend stuck his hands into his flaming red hair, pushing it back as he shook his head. “And?" he asked, exasperated with even the short pause. He spread his hands out on top of the table. "Has she agreed to fight with us?”

 

“She has," he answered with a nod. "She wanted to see, be another witness to their existence. Knew her allies would need more proof than us two." He looked around, searching for a goblet of ale and unfortunately finding none. He turned back at Tormund. "He threw a spear at us, nearly hit us too.”

 

Bright blue eyes went wide. “And you lived to tell the tale?” he gasped with a shake of his head. “How did she handle the truth?”

 

“She was shaken up,” he said, remembering her frantic pacing, the fear written all over her beautiful face, hating it all over again. “But she may be the strongest person I know. She was more worried about how to protect everyone and how to convince her allies they're real. She’s worried,” he reiterated, getting up from the table, needing to move and expend some of his tense energy.

 

Tormund jumped up and followed him as he strode from the hall. “I thought you said you were going to the Dothraki camp?” he asked, changing the subject again.

 

“We ended up there, after.”

 

“Throw someone out of their tent, did you?” he chuckled.

 

They passed a maid as they headed for the solar, so he held his tongue. He entered when they reached it, holding the door open for Tormund. It wasn't until then he noticed the two Unsullied guards coming down the hall. He waited, expecting they had come to fetch him perhaps, but instead they turned and stood outside the door to either side.

 

Daenerys

 

All his ire vanished, a soothing warmth replacing it. He closed the door and went to the sideboard, pouring himself a goblet of ale. Tormund already had one.

 

“She has her own empty tent,” he said, finally answering his question. 

 

“Ho! Even better,” Tormund chortled and threw him a wink before continuing to walk around the room, taking in all the books and maps and such. 

 

Watching his friend, knowing all he'd said up until then, he thought it a good time to unburden. It had been a constant weight, on his mind for days, but was becoming too heavy to keep to himself. He needed counsel. “Am I reaching too far?” he questioned.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I’m a bastard.” Tormund did not react, just stared at him, mute. He heaved a sigh and sat down at the table. “She’s a queen and the pure born daughter of a great house. I'm beneath her."

 

Tormund tilted his head in contemplation. “She care ‘bout that?”

 

He shook his head. “She doesn’t seem to, no.”

 

“Then why do you?”

 

He dropped his head into his hand and rubbed at the sudden ache building above his eyes. He cared for a million reasons that all had to do with how he was raised, but he didn’t know if he could articulate that to his friend. He looked up at him again. “I don’t want people thinking less of her because of me.”

 

Tormund rolled his eyes. “Anyone who doesn’t see her for the magnificent creature she is doesn’t get an opinion," he grunted, then raised an eyebrow at him. “Are you gonna let her go South without you?”

 

“No,” he answered quickly. 

 

“You gonna stay out of her bed?”

 

“Fuck no.”

 

Tormund smiled and closed the distance between them, laying a meaty hand on his shoulder. “Jon Snow, pull your pretty head out of your ass. You are holding a star in your hands and instead of devoting your life to making it shine, you lament that you're not good enough to hold it. She picked you. Who are you to second guess her?”

 

He sat back in his chair with a weary sigh. “A man who knows he’s not worthy.”

 

“Then you’re going to be a man who loses her,” Tormund declared firmly and left the room.

 

---

 

They were seated in her solar, Lord Baelish across from her, Tyrion and Missandei on one side, Varys and Grey Worm on the other. The beady-eyed, snake of a man was up to something only she didn’t know exactly what. 

 

“Thank you for meeting with me so quickly, Your Grace," he began. "I was afraid I would be confined to my room until my eventual death.”

 

She raised an eyebrow at him, though she truly wanted to scoff. “Have you done something worthy of death?”

 

“I’m sure Lord Snow believes I have. He threatened me after he listened in on a private conversation I had with Lady Sansa.”

 

She nodded. “I’m well aware, Lord Baelish. I know of your conversation and the threats he made. Perhaps you want to tell me your side? Stealing away to have a clandestine conversation with the lady of the Keep in the middle of the night does seem a bit suspicious.”

 

He gave her a dismayed look. “It was simply two old friends having a conversation,” he defended smoothly.

 

Tyrion cleared his throat. “Old friends? You sold her to Ramsay Bolton," he sneered, showing an unusual amount of anger.

 

Baelish took the animosity in stride, nodding his acceptance. “It was a mistake on my part. I thought he would treat her well.”

 

“Flaying men alive give you that idea?” Tyrion practically growled at him. 

 

Lord Baelish looked back to her, dismissing her Hand. “Your Grace, I care deeply for Sansa," he told her, his tone slow and dripping with false guilt and concern. It turned her stomach just to listen to him. "I’ve known her since she was a girl. I wanted some reassurance she was alright.”

 

She nodded. “Very well. Let’s say that I take you at your word. What do you want from me?”

 

“Not to be confined to my room like a prisoner," he was quick to answer, though as smooth as always.

 

She knew Jon would revolt at the idea, but she needed Littlefinger loose. He couldn't hang himself unless he was given enough rope. She looked to her council and got no dissension. “I think we can accommodate that request, if you allow my Unsullied to guard you.”

 

“Your Grace?”

 

“You see, Lord Baelish, while I'm willing to free you from the confines of your room, I do not trust you enough to allow you completely loose within this keep. The day I was attacked was the day you arrived. I’m not saying you had any part in it, but I would feel better if my men, who are dedicated to serving me and can not be bought, were guarding you.”

 

He looked over the others in the room, all judging him coldly. He turned back to her and conceded with a nod. “I will find a way to prove my loyalty.”

 

“You should hope you do, Lord Baelish,” she said as she stood, dismissing him. She rolled her eyes the moment he was gone, a shiver sliding down her back. “He sets my teeth on edge," she hissed.

 

Varys looked at her with a deep-set frown. “You’re right to not trust him. Knowing him as I do, he probably is trying to figure out how to get rid of you and Jon Snow to take control of your armies and eventually the Iron Throne.”

 

“Or, wait until I’m on it and kill me.”

 

“Do we know exactly what he discussed with Sansa?” Tyrion asked, concern in his eyes.

 

“It was enough to cause Jon to confine him to his room and he’s not currently on speaking terms with his sister,” she said as she paced the floor. “Grey Worm, I want one of the guards able to speak the common tongue put on him. One of the most loyal.”

 

“Yes, Your Grace,” he said and left the room to carry out her order.

 

“How far away is Lady Olenna?”

 

“She should be here in less than a week, depending how often they stop for rest.”

 

“And what do we know about the daughters of Ellaria?”

 

Varys looked between them. “They faced off against Jaime Lannister and your old friend, Bronn," he said, addressing Tyrion. "They were trying to get to Myrcella.”

 

“In the end, it was Ellaria who got her,” Tyrion said as he stood and poured himself a glass of wine. She watched him, realizing how difficult this must be for her Hand. 

 

“Leave me with Lord Tyrion,” she said, keeping her eyes on him. The others left them as he sat in front of the hearth with his goblet of wine. She took the chair beside him. “I know this is difficult for you.”

 

He nodded, lips pursed. “I feel responsible for her death. Tommen’s, too.”

 

“Why? You had nothing to do with either," she reminded gently.

 

He heaved a sigh and took a sip from his goblet. “No one had ever really acted against my family because everyone was afraid of my father. I took away the reason to still their hand,” he said, his voice rather shaky before he took another sip of his wine. “Now, two enemies of my house are our allies. Hard for me to reconcile it in my head.”

 

She leaned back in her chair and stared into the fire for a time. “I know that feeling,” she finally said. “You’re my Hand and your brother killed my father. We’re in the keep of the usurper’s best friend and I’m bedding his son,” she said, nearly laughing at the irony of it all. “We both know Ellaria won’t be sorry for what she did. Myrcella was another Lannister to her. Some people aren’t like us, able to see people for who they are and not what their families have done.”

 

He sighed. “You are correct.”

 

“What do you know of Theon Greyjoy?” she asked, hoping a slight change of topic would ease his melancholy, and maybe tell her why Jon had been nearly vibrating with rage beside her.

 

He tilted his head. “He was handed over to Ned Stark after the Greyjoy’s were defeated. Raised as Stark's ward and from all appearances he was loyal to Robb.”

 

“So he and Jon were raised together?" He nodded. "What changed?”

 

“They sent him to the Iron Islands to get his father to side with Robb. He came back and took the keep." He shrugged, tapping his fingers on the arm of his chair. "I imagine, like so many of us, he got in front of his father and was reminded that he was failing his house by siding with the enemy. Sometimes, in our efforts to prove ourselves to our fathers we make the biggest mistakes of our lives,” he said and drained his goblet, pouring more immediately. She took it from him and shook her head despite his scowl. 

 

He rolled his eyes and sat back with a huff, his messing curls lifted off his forehead at the puff of air. “He came back, took the keep, killed two boys everyone thought were Bran and Rickon Stark, then Ramsay Bolton took it from him. Tortured him."

 

“But he helped Sansa escape?” she asked, wanting to confirm it, again.

 

“Yes. Until they met up with Brienne and Podrick. Sweet Podrick," he murmured, staring up at the ceiling wistfully.

 

“You know him?”

 

He nodded. “Yes, I do. He was once my squire. He saved my life on the Blackwater.”

 

She smiled. “Then I am glad for him.”

 

“He’s a kind boy, very sweet, and very good with the ladies.”

 

“Do I want to know what that means?” she asked, pulling a face.

 

He chuckled. “No. All of that seems like a lifetime ago.”

 

She hummed her agreement. Time passed so quickly. “I know. Parts of my life seem like they happened to another person. But we’re both here now, fighting for the same thing.” She looked down at her hands and decided to admit the truth to him. “Jon and I flew beyond the Wall earlier today.” Tyrion sat bolt upright in his seat, eyes filled with concern. She didn't give him a chance to protest. “I saw them, Tyrion. An army… that rivals my own. Rivals any I've ever heard of. The Night King, their leader threw a spear at us, nearly hit Drogon.”

 

“You went alone?” he demanded.

 

“I only wanted to see, not engage,” she retorted with a frown. “I needed to make sure the threat was real, and to my horror it is. I needed to see them. Lady Olenna, Ellaria, Yara... they wouldn't have believed Jon or the Free Folk. It needs to come from me.”

 

“Your Grace, may I please ask that you not do anything so foolish again? You can’t go off beyond the Wall alone! If something happens to you, then we all lose!”

 

She scowled fiercely at him but nodded anyway. “I know. But I had Drogon and Jon...”

 

“Jon,” he echoed with a sigh. “And where does Jon Snow fit into all of this? Our eventual wars with my sister, and now the dead I suppose? What are your plans?”

 

Taking up his goblet, she drank down the wine he’d poured then shook her head. “I haven't figured them all out yet.”

 

“Where do you want him to fit?”

 

“At my side,” she said, quick and sure. She was sure, more sure than she'd been of anything in a long time. “You know I haven’t asked him to bend the knee, but I do want to propose another type of alliance.”

 

“Oh?" he asked with a sarcastic edge she didn't care for. "What type?”

 

“Marriage.”

 

He blinked at her for a moment, swallowed thickly and let out a sigh. “When’s the wedding?”

 

“I haven’t said anything to him about it, yet. I wanted to get your thoughts.”

 

“You’ll do as you like," he said with a shrug.

 

The sentiment rankled her, she nodded nonetheless. It had been a true statement. She would do as she liked. She got up, leaving the goblet on the table and walked to the windows. “I will. However, you’re my Hand. Your purpose is to guide me. So, guide me," she said, looking back at him.

 

Tyrion sniffed, slid the now empty goblet around on the table, his mouth puckered in thought. “While I think Jon Snow is an honorable man, I do worry what your allies will think. What the other houses will think.”

 

That rankled her even more. She turned on him fully, hands clenched tight in front of her. “I don’t believe the Dornish will take issue, nor will Yara—”

 

“But Lady Olenna might.”

 

She shook her head, unwilling to agree. “I believe it would solve a great many problems, Lord Tyrion. A marriage between us brings the North into the fold and might make Sansa less hostile if she believes I will protect the North, not conquer it. He’s strong. A warrior. And his father was Ned Stark.”

 

“Ned Stark, who was labeled a traitor...”

 

She stared down at him, an eyebrow raised. “But we all know Ned Stark was telling the truth about Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen. His name should be cleared.”

 

Tyrion's frown grew deeper. “Would you marry him before we march South or once you’ve conquered the Seven Kingdoms?”

 

“Before. Just to have the alliance with the North.”

 

He cleared his throat. “Am I allowed to ask if your reasons for marrying him are beyond the bedroom?”

 

She cut her eyes at him. “They are. You told me I might have to marry for an alliance. I think marrying him is doing that as well as being something I actually want to happen. It won’t be a marriage I dread. Once the Northern Lords arrive and I have my whole council here, I’ll discuss it with him.”

 

He shook his head, a small smile was on his face. “He’s not the first to love you.”

 

She scoffed. “We’ve only known one another a few days. Jon Snow’s not in love with me.”

 

“No, I believe he stares at you longingly because he’s hopeful for a successful military alliance,” he muttered, no expression at all. “And I firmly believe we will be attending your wedding to Jon Snow in the future. The bards will sing it as a love match."

 

She looked down at her hands and then over at him. “Are you going to be alright?”

 

He nodded. “I will. You?”

 

She gave him a small smile. “Yes. You should prepare for the feast. Same ten Dothraki, if you don’t mind.”

 

He nodded and stood. “I’ll see to it.”


“Tyrion,” she called as he reached the door. “No more drinking until the feast.”

 

He heaved a heavy sigh. “Yes, Your Grace.”



Chapter Text

If you could only see the beast you've made of me
I held it in 
but now it seems you've set it running free
Screaming in the dark, I howl when we're apart
Drag my teeth across your chest 
to taste your beating heart
My fingers claw your skin, try to tear my way in
You are the moon that breaks the night 
for which I have to howl
My fingers claw your skin, try to tear my way in
You are the moon that breaks the night
for which I have to
Howl, howl
Howl, howl
Now there's no holding back, I'm making an attack
My blood is singing with your voice, 
I want to pour it out
The saints can't help me now, 
the ropes have been unbound
I hunt for you with bloodied feet across the hallow'ed ground
Like some child possessed, 
the beast howls in my veins
I want to find you, tear out all of your tenderness
And howl, howl
Howl, howl
Be careful of the curse that falls on young lovers
Starts so soft and sweet and turns them to hunters
Hunters, hunters, hunters
Hunters, hunters, hunters
The fabric of your flesh, pure as a wedding dress
Until I wrap myself inside your arms I cannot rest
The saints can't help me now, 
the ropes have been unbound
I hunt for you with bloodied feet across the hallowed ground
And howl
Be careful of the curse that falls on young lovers
Starts so soft and sweet and turns them to hunters
A man who's pure of heart 
and says his prayers by night
May still become a wolf 
when the autumn moon is bright
If you could only see the beast you've made of me
I held it in 
but now it seems you've set it running free
The saints can't help me now, 
the ropes have been unbound
I hunt for you with bloodied feet across the hallow'ed ground

Howl
Florence + The Machine

 

They were feasting again. He sat at the head of the table with Daenerys as she spoke with Ellaria and Yara, both seated to her left. Sansa had moved into the crowd below to be with Theon. He tried not to watch them, his blood simmering at the sight of them together, but the timid smiles they shared with one another seemed to draw his eyes. He almost hated the sympathy that seeped through his anger. But he knew Ramsay had tortured and tormented them both until they were no longer who they'd been. 

 

What they'd endured at his hands hadn't been their fault, but where did you draw the line? Did their suffering excuse the wrongs they'd committed before, or since? Being murdered for his own supposed crimes wasn't helping him come to any sort of satisfying decision, and it probably made his heart black as rotting flesh, but he wished them gone. Not dead, just gone. No longer thorns in his side.

 

Tormund's boisterous laughter finally tore his eyes away from them. His friend was engaged in a lively conversation with Davos and Tyrion on the other side of the room, hands waving, goat's milk sloshing as he told them some tale. He wanted to join them, but felt his place was beside Daenerys, he was host after all. 

 

He felt someone watching him and scanned the hall, but couldn’t find the heavy gaze that prickled at his neck. Suddenly, the chair beside him had a body in it, and he turned to see Tyene Sand, Ellaria’s youngest daughter. She was a pretty picture–eyes and hair black as soot, caramel skin, wearing a wicked smile on her face. Her clothes weren't fit for the North, or anywhere save Dorne or Essos. He'd never seen a woman show so much skin in good company. 

 

His mind immediately attempted to picture Dany wearing such things. He'd have to ask her if she'd brought any of her Essosi dresses. 

 

“You’re the bastard of Winterfell," Tyene said in way of a greeting. He rankled under the name, but she gave him a wider smile. “Don’t look so offended," she scoffed. "I’m a bastard, too. Though, we aren’t shunned in Dorne like you are here.” She tilted her head at him as he gave her a tight smile. “I’ve heard you're skilled with your sword.”

 

Everything that came out of her mouth sounded filthy with her eyes roving over him the way they were.

 

“I had to be, living at the Wall," he offered, gruffly.

 

“Are you better on your own, or… with a partner?” she asked as she leaned forward, her head propped on her hand, big, black doe eyes giving a slow blink.

 

He furrowed his brow, wondering if it was the ale that had him taking everything she said the wrong way, or… No, the look in her eyes told him she knew exactly what she was doing. He took a quick look around at the rest of the room, no one was paying them any attention. “Most things are better with a partner,” he dared to quip. 

 

Wasn't that what one did with important guests? Much needed allies. Traded banter, every word dripping with innuendo.  

 

She hummed in approval as he raised his goblet to his lips. She leaned in a bit more. “Are you married?”

 

He swallowed his ale, barely managing not to choke on it, and shook his head. “No. But I’m… spoken for,” he said, clipped, having no other way to put it.

 

“Settle down, I was only asking because I don’t want an angry wife on my hands if I can avoid it. But if you’re not married then I don’t care about another attachment.”

 

A throat cleared beside him and he turned to find Daenerys glaring at Tyene, though there was a rigid smile tugging at her lips. He sat back in his seat and swallowed thickly, the room suddenly too warm. “Tyene?” she addressed her smoothly.

 

The girl sat up a bit but didn't look the least worried to have the Dragon Queen staring daggers at her. “Yes, Your Grace?”

 

“What did you think of supper?”

 

The girl shrugged. “Not as good as the food in Dorne," she replied before turning heavy eyes on him once more. He caught sight of her fingers inching toward his arm out of the corner of his eye. "I think I might have found a Northern dessert I’d like to sample, though."

 

Seven bloody hells. 

 

He shifted in his seat and leaned towards Daenerys, taking another deep swallow of ale. His heart was hammering in his ears, his cock going stiff as iron within his leathers. He was fucked.

 

Daenerys slowly raised an eyebrow. “Careful with those desserts. They might have an aftertaste that could kill you where you sit. Set you on fire and not the way you want,” she murmured as she sipped her wine. 

 

Fuck, he’d never wanted her more. Would it be rude to snatch her up and drag her to the nearest alcove and have his way with her? Lady Stark's ghost would probably hunt him for eternity if he did.

 

There was a bit of a soft disgruntled snarl from Tyene, and he couldn't help but want to second it, even if for a different reason. The girl finally sat back, spine stiff. “How silly of me, Your Grace. I simply saw a tasty morsel and thought I’d have a bite.”

 

“One bite would kill you,” Daenerys replied, fire and blood dripping from her tone.

 

Tyene bowed her head and stood. She was brave enough to smile at the queen, then him, still eyeing him as a snake did a hare. “A shame. We could've had fun.”

 

Jon watched her disappear into the crowd, a bit of the tension leaving him until he turned back to Daenerys. Her eyes were full of heat, glowing like blue flames as they stared back at him, and the rest of the world suddenly fell away, lust and apprehension mixing to create a heady fire within his blood. 

 

“Lord Snow, would you show me where the privy is?”

 

He slowly nodded, wondering if they were about to have their first fight, finding the idea quite appealing. He stood and walked her to the door and out into the corridor. Silent and stately, she stayed at his side until they reached the solar. The moment they reached it, however, his jerkin was gripped in her hand and she drug him inside, pushed the door closed, and locked it. He was shoved against it, hinges rattling, and a fist clenched in his hair, crashing his lips into hers in a bruising kiss. His cock gave a painful twitch, so hard he could probably drive nails as he gripped her hips in his hands attempting to back her toward the table, but she firmly shoved his shoulders again and he stumbled back into the door. Then her hand was sliding down the front of his leathers and stroking over him.

 

“You’re mine,” she whispered, words and breath harsh against his skin. "Did you forget?"

 

He shook his head, his knees giving a bit at her sudden dominance. “I'm yours,” he swore and tried to capture her face for another kiss, but she pulled away and went for his neck, leaving nipping bites along the skin, the pain lingering in each one. He smiled, knowing he'd be hiding her marks again come the morrow.  

 

Her fingers were feverishly working loose his laces and he was too dazed and dizzy from blood loss to do a thing to help her. But she freed him soon enough and then his aching, eager cock was wrapped firmly in her warm little hand. She stroked him, root to tip, and squeezed , her thumb smearing the mess he'd already made for her. His eyes rolled back in his head, and his hips thrust forward, a groan ripped from his throat. “Fuck, Dany."

 

"Are you mine, Jon?" she whispered slowly, tugging and squeezing and twisting.

 

He sucked in a great gasp of air. "Yes, yours, I swear it." 

 

She let him go and pulled his jerkin up even as she shoved his leathers down over his arse. He was seconds from picking her up and slamming her against the door, ready to take her hard when she lifted her skirt and sank to her knees in front of him and sucked his cock into her hot mouth. 

 

Seven fucking hells!

 

He let out a loud moan as his head thudded back against the wood, his breath was simply gone, every inch of him drawn tight as a bowstring as he held himself back, not daring to move for fear he'd unleash that darkness within him and use her as some vicious beast would.

 

She wasn't making it easy. Her hands were back, one taking him in a tight grasp, the other gently tugging at his stones, helping work him to the edge as quickly as her warm, wet mouth was–tongue swirling, deep sucking drags, and teasing teeth. He was left panting under her dedication, finding it difficult to breathe, to think, as she moved her hands around to his arse and dug her nails in, mouth sliding further over him. 

 

His cock hit the back of her throat and his eyes crossed, some strange animalistic sound working free from his chest. He fought off his release, wanting to be inside her, to undo her just as she was him, but she wasn’t having it. He watched, head fucking swimming as she took him even deeper, lips tight, her throat constricting around him. She released him with an obscenely slick pop and a panting gasp, only to swallow him down again and slowly begin to bob, his stones gripped snugly in her palm. 

 

The world narrowed, his vision going bright and black at once, and he gripped her head, hoping to slow her, but she took him impossibly deeper, moaning in defiance and he felt it roll up his spine, sparking his every nerve. Unable to stop it, his release rock through him, body bowed over her, legs trembling, his seed shooting down her throat. She drank it all, drank him right down to the godsdamn dregs.

 

He was too sensitive, feeling as if his skin was on fire and air would never satisfy his lungs again when she finally released him and stood. She wiped the corner of her mouth, tongue peeking out to lick off a stray drop from curved lips as she looked at him with eyes gone dark as midnight. He fell back against the door, chest heaving, legs barely holding him up. “Remember that when someone offers to eat you for dessert,” she said as she pushed him away from the door and left. 

 

He stumbled to the table and braced against it, waiting until the feeling slowly came back to his limbs and his breathing returned to some semblance of normal. His mind still spinning with what she'd just done to him, he shoved himself into his leathers, tied them up, and did his best to make himself presentable before he followed her back to the hall. 

 

She was already seated and engaged in conversation with Yara when he returned, looking as if she'd never left, hadn't just had his cock in her sweet mouth. 

 

He shook himself before he grabbed her up and pulled her back to the solar. 

 

Tormund was seated beside his empty chair, he strode over and took his drink from him and drained the horn dry before he sat down. “What’s gotten into you?” his friend asked with a deep chuckle.

 

“Nothin'.”

 

Tormund cocked his head to the side as he stared behind him and Jon turned to see Yara trailing her fingers over Dany’s arm, a sly smile on her face. Daenerys didn’t push her away or even glance at him as she leaned in to listen to what the pirate was saying, her smile tugging up one corner of her mouth. He looked away, his blood running hot, the beast howling in his veins, urging him to rip and tear into the pirate. 

 

Was that what Dany felt about Tyene? He bit his tongue, drank the ale in his own goblet and called for more.

 

Another deep chuckle sounded beside him. “Calm yourself, Jon Snow, she’s not going to fuck her here on the table. Though that would be interesting to watch.”

 

“Tormund,” he warned. 

 

“Shall I distract her?”

 

“Which one?” he grumbled.

 

“Doesn’t matter.” His friend stood then, his chair loudly scraping against the stone floor as he took Jon’s goblet and banged it on the table. Jon heaved a sigh, unsure where this was going, chances were nowhere good. “To the Dragon Queen! For bringing us new friends!” Tormund shouted.

 

Everyone held up their goblet to her, including Jon who snatched his back from Tormund. Undeterred, his friend moved around Jon and couched between Yara and Daenerys' chairs. “Give us a story.”

 

Dany laughed and shook her head. “No stories tonight.”

 

Tormund gasped, hand to his chest, mouth gaping. “Dragon Queen, you wound me.”

 

Dramatic fucker.

 

“I’d like to hear the story of how the Mother of Dragons saved the North,” Yara cut in, grinning with a tilt of her head.

 

“You should have seen her lass, riding in on that great beast to save our lives," Tormund gushed, quick to appease her curiosity. "The battle was lost, then a roar split the sky, followed by screams…" His smile nearly split his face. "It was glorious," he breathed.

 

“So, all hope was lost until she appeared," Ellaria questioned, doubt lacing her tone and rankling Jon even more.

 

“Aye," Tormund went on, "She gave us the chance to get to that fucker Ramsay, and Jon Snow beat him within an inch of his life with his bare hands. That sniveling little cunt shot three arrows at him and he still charged with nothing but a shield." Tormund beamed at Daenerys, then him. "She saved us and Jon put him in the dirt.”

 

“Technically, he was eaten by dogs to end his life, but I won’t quibble with details,” he corrected before finishing off his ale. He turned to face them all, let his eyes come to rest on Daenerys, not holding back any of the emotional storm swirling within him. “Either way, we won the battle because of the queen.”

 

He nearly howled to see a blush rise to her cheeks.

 

“She is little, but she is mighty,” Tormund crowed as he held up his horn of goat’s milk and offered it to her. She tore her eyes from Jon and nodded, taking the horn and drinking it all down. When she finished, both the Dothraki and the Wildlings cheered. 

 

She put a hand on Tormund’s shoulder. “Thank you, my friend.”

 

“Anything for you, Dragon Queen,” he said with a nod of his head and stood, moving back to sit beside Jon. 

 

She had turned from her conversation with Yara, instead looking over the revelry below them as she drank her wine. Rinsing the milk away, no doubt. He knew she didn’t care for the taste, but she always humored Tormund and him. Her eyes slid to his and his heart raced within his chest, thoughts returning of what they'd been doing only minutes before in the solar. How her eyes had practically burned him, her words searing into his very being. He could still feel her mouth and tongue, scorchingly hot and sucking. Her nails digging into his flesh. Hear the lurid sounds they'd made.

 

Why hadn’t he grabbed her up, thrown her onto the table and feasted on her when he had the chance? As he wanted to do right then. 

 

Later. When the feast was over, he'd claim her. Every bit as fiercely as she had him. He was most assuredly hers, but he'd remind her whom she belonged to as well.

 

“How is your food, Your Grace?” he asked, steering himself back into safe territory. 

 

“Good, my Lord. The North’s hospitality proves once again to exceed my expectations,” she said as she sipped her wine and gave him a small, wicked smile. 

 

“I hope, one day, when the wars are finished, Your Grace, you will come to the Iron Islands and let me feast you,” Yara cut in with a smug smirk.

 

“And you musn’t forget the legendary hospitality of the Dornish," Ellaira said, not to be outdone. "My daughters and I would relish the opportunity.” 

 

He didn’t know if it was because he was mostly drunk or if everything these women said truly was meant to be pretty words to coax the queen into their beds. Either way, he hated it. All those pretty words leaving his hackles on end.

 

Tyene whispered something to her mother and the woman smiled as her eyes landed on him. Well, fuck . “And anyone you decide to bring with you will be most welcome," she added, words smooth, yet holding a decided bite.

 

Daenerys’ eyes flitted over to his and away again, but he felt the heavy weight of the look nonetheless. She didn’t like others making suggestive remarks towards him any more than he liked them made toward her. She put a pretty smile on her face, however. “I’m sure once we have the country more stable that traveling to each of the kingdoms will be a priority. Help me become acquainted with the land I’m to rule.”

 

“We will help you in any way we can,” Ellaria practically purred with a bow of her head. 

 

She engaged Yara, then, leaving Dany to lean closer to him. Her pink tongue slipped out and ran over her full bottom lip, eyes focused forward. “Lord Snow, I’ve found my room rather cold today," she said in a near pout.

 

He did his best to cover up his smile, biting into his cheek. “I’m sorry to hear that, Your Grace. I will have more wood added to the fire.”

 

“That’s very kind of you, my Lord." Her ocean eyes turned to his, greedy and sparkling. "I was hoping for a more personal touch, though.”

 

She paused and looked over his shoulder, pursing her lips together to hide a smile. He turned to find Tormund sat beside him, grinning like an idiot at them. He growled. “Go find someone else to bother.”

 

“You’re my favorite person to bother,” he said with a waggle of his eyebrows. 

 

“Go find Lady Brienne.”

 

That got him moving. He looked up and stood, eager as a hound to hunt. “Good idea. She’s prettier than you, anyway,” he mumbled as he clapped Jon on the shoulder and walked away. 

 

He heaved a sigh and turned to Dany again, shaking his head. She was smiling at him, her expression soft and warm and he thought he might never know the cold again. “Your Grace, whatever I can do to make your stay more pleasant while here, I will do it.”

 

“That’s very gracious of you, Jon Snow. I look forward to having your hospitality all to myself.”

 

“Whatever you ask for, Your Grace, it’s yours.” Teasing banter aside, he'd meant every word.

 

She grinned at him. “That’s good to know.”

 

*~*

 

She was tired of the feast, wanted nothing more than to strip out of her clothes and into the waiting arms of Jon. She wanted to forget her obligations, her allies, and certainly their more than friendly admiration for her, and him. 

 

Especially him. 

 

She'd come within an inch of ordering Tyene drug outside to be a quick meal for her sons the moment she saw the girl eyeing what was hers. Claiming him had helped sate some of her fiery temper, let her relish in her own power as she brought him nearly to his knees. But she could still sense her dragon blood, risen like the tides within her, dashing itself upon her bones, wanting to reap and rend.

 

Jon did that to her. No other man ever had.

 

Was she being a fool and falling for him, wholly tempted to give in to whatever he wanted when the timing was horrible, the circumstance less than favorable?

 

With a glance, she saw he was still staring at her, eyes dark and dangerous, and she smiled into her goblet. She didn’t care. 

 

He was worth it. Made her feel things she never had before. And she wanted him, as simple and as complicated as that was, she wanted him. Wanted to be a woman with a man who seemed as taken with her as she was with him. 

 

People began leaving the feast. Qohno walking out of the hall with Nymeria at his side. Sansa left soon after, as did Theon, Baelish following behind them. The snake. Tyrion was seated out with the others, drinking with Podrick and Tormund, they'd probably be there until the wee hours. Ellaria and Yara soon left, and once they had gone, she felt it safe to do the same. She stood, several of the men lifting their goblets to her. Jon rose as well, nodding as she passed, her fingers ghosting across his lower back as she did. 

 

She made it up the stairs and sent the Unsullied to the end of the hall. They would need their privacy. She'd just opened her bedroom door when a set of strong arms wrapped around her waist and turned her to face him.

 

His lips were on hers, hungry and demanding, as he shut the door behind them and locked it. He backed her into the table, tugging at the ties of her dress with frantic fingers. She was left gasping for air, unsteady on her feet, when he pulled away. A frustrated groan had her eyes popping open to see his lowered head. She glanced down at herself, confused, then realized. Chainmail. Pushing him away, she pulled her dress over her head with little care. Free of that, he was quick to help her get the chainmail loose, the heavy material only getting caught in her hair once before he dropped it to the table with a clinking thud. 

 

Her shift went over her head next and then her lips were brought back to his, so hard their teeth clacked together. Their kisses were rough and ravenous as she helped him remove his jerkin and tunic, all the while grinding her hips into the bulge that pressed against the laces of his leathers. His grunts and moans making her blood sing. It wasn’t that long ago when she had him in her mouth, reminding him who he belonged to. Comforting herself in the fact that he’d willingly followed her, submitted to her, was hers and no one else’s. She claimed him. 

 

Just as he was claiming her. 

 

As she tugged at his laces, he grabbed her up by the arse and sat her on the table, licking at her lips, tasting and teasing while fingers pinched and pulled at her nipples, reminding her aching cunt it was empty, and desperate to be filled. A moan tore free as she finally got his leathers open and his heavy cock sprang into her hand, hard and smooth, tip plump and weeping for her. His groan rumbled against her throat and she wasted no time positioning him at her entrance, rubbing the swollen head through her soaked lips, jerking each time it ran over her clit.

 

One hand braced on the table, the other spread wide and pressing against her lower back, he drove inside her in one, quick, vicious thrust. She cried out, arms wrapping around his neck, cunt pulsing with pain and pleasure. He drew back, the rough drag making her shudder, then his hips snapped against hers again, and again and again, hands holding her to him, possessive and primal, table screeching with each thrust he made, ignoring the rough wood digging into their flesh. 

 

Then his arms slid beneath her knees, pushing her back, spreading her wider, opening her up, giving them both a shameless view. She caught herself, one hand gripping the back of his neck, tangled in damp curls, the other braced behind her as she looked down. A tremor rocked through her and a whimper, high pitched and keening, as she watched him split her cunt open, fill her, lips slick and stretched and sanguine wrapped around his cock, relentless and ravaging. 

 

Head falling back, her eyes flutter shut, the tide rushing to a crest within her. She wanted it to last an age, to let him draw it out of her, breath by breath.

 

But fingers dug into her thighs, strong arms pulling her to the edge, hips brutal and dismissive of her cry of shock, the angle steeper, finding that hidden spot within her. "Watch me. Watch me take you," he ordered with a growl.

 

Her eyes did his bidding, there was no choice, and it was all she could do to remain upright, to keep her hold on him, her world spinning into darkness.

Unable to stop it, her climax crashed through her, each stroke sending her further into the abyss, his name a howling wail ripped from her soul.

 

Once she returned to him, soft sucking kisses at her lips bringing her back, he let her legs down gently and slipped free. She sat on the edge of the table, limbs tingling, warm and loose, watching as he stepped back, still hard and coated in her juices. He removed his boots and pants and came forward again, scooping her into his arms and carrying her into her bedroom where he laid her back on the feather bed and climbed over her. 

 

His lips were on hers again, his tongue licking at hers, the roof of her mouth, her teeth. Her wolf. He was running wild for her. Kisses drug down her jaw to her neck and shoulder, bristling and biting. She grabbed him by the hair and pulled him back to look at her, staring into eyes gone black as pitch. “Inside me,” she demanded. He could take his time later, she wanted to feel him claim her again. 

 

He followed her instructions eagerly, a growl and a simple tilt of his hips letting him slam home once more. Dropping down onto his elbows his mouth took her as hard as his cock. She couldn’t breathe but didn’t break away, taking what was given, wrapping one leg around him as the other braced on the bed, thrusting up to meet him. 

 

His strokes grew shallow, grinding against her and stars sparked behind her eyes. Jon tore his mouth away and she drew in a deep breath, watching as he licked his fingers, eyes of midnight holding her in their sway. He reached down and circled around her clit and she threw her head back into the pillows, the slide slick and smooth, quick and hard, igniting the torrent within her veins. “You’re mine,” he growled against her lips. She whimpered and wrapped her other leg around his waist, holding him tighter, drawing him deeper. Grinding, gripping, gasping. “Tell me. Say it, Dany. Say you’re mine,” he demanded.

 

“Yes!" Voice a whine, head nodding, toes curling against his lower back. “Yours. All yours,” she moaned already falling, body convulsing around his, dying a little death and waking once more.

 

She didn’t know if it was his demand, the press of his fingers, his grinding cock inside her, or all three, but she was breathless and wrecked, tears stinging at the corner of her eyes, a warmth rushing through her. Not a fire, but an overwhelming need to release everything within her. No. She didn’t cry. She wouldn’t cry.  

 

Thankfully oblivious, Jon was chasing her to the edge, propped up on his hands, eyes closed, mouth, plump and panting as his hips pumped, harder, faster , the squelch and slap of each thrust, filthy and thrilling. The waves of her last climax were still rolling through her when another began building to a crest. 

 

She cried out against, fearing she would simply shatter, yet racing toward it all the same. Jon's head snapped up, thrusts never slowing. “Again?” he asked, a small smirk on his face. As much as she hated to see it, she relished it, too. He'd torn her world asunder, shown her the beast within them both, his beating heart that laid beneath vicious scars and placed it all at her feet.

 

He was hers.

 

And she was his.

 

She bit her lip with a nod, legs falling open further, clutched his arse in greedy hands, digging her nails into the flesh and let it take her, drowning in it, in him, pulling him down with her, beneath the riotous waves to the blissful peace below. Bodies clenched, raven curls brushing her face, his cock twitching with each thrust as he spilled inside her with shuddering groans.

 

Dany laid beneath him, trying to steady her breathing and calm down her racing heart, but she couldn’t seem to do either. Jon took more than a moment himself but soon fell to her side, releasing an exhausted but satisfied breathy grunt.

 

Time slipped away from her, but gentle fingers tracing over her cheek drew her back. She hummed, contented as a cat and smiled, slowly opening her eyes only to find Jon watching her, a deep furrow between his dark brows. 

 

"What is it?" she breathed, shocked back to worrisome reality.

 

“You're not truly worried that I'll stray, are you?" he asked. 

 

Was she? Looking on him then, his beautiful face, a certain softness having overtaken the heat that had been in his eyes as he took her… "I want to say no," she started, but paused, the harsh truth attempting to steal away the faith she'd gathered in him.

 

"But?"

 

"But, all of this, us, it's happened so quickly. I know you, but I need, I want , to know you more," she told him gently, running a hand over his chest. Hurt flashed within his dark eyes, but he did his best to hide it, his gaze dropping away from hers. "I'm sorry," she said, soothing him all she could with her touch. "I didn't mean to upset you."

 

He shook his head. "No. You're right," he agreed and scrubbed a hand down his face. "Gods, has it only been five days?" She hummed in answer and those long lashes lifted, large liquid eyes pinning her down. "Does it feel much longer to you?"

 

She smiled softly, rubbed over his smooth skin. "It does. Sometimes it feels as if I've known you for an age, others I fear all the time in the world wouldn't be enough to know you as I want," she confessed before she could stop herself.

 

He turned and faced her, cupped her cheek in his scarred palm. "I meant what I said this afternoon, I'm yours for as long as you'll have me. There will be no others,” he swore. “Not for me. That seemed to have been decided the moment I laid eyes on you.”

 

Heart trembling, she rolled to her side, tucking a hand beneath her head, still smiling at him. A feeble attempt at masking her vulnerability. He was tearing down every wall she had. So easily they were gone before she even realized he was trying. “I remember, but I enjoyed claiming you and being claimed right back,” she said, cursing the tenderness that seeped into her voice when she'd meant for it to be anything but.

 

He grinned, though it was small. “Aye, seeing the Dragon Queen again was very enjoyable,” he agreed, trailing his hand over her arm. He fell quiet for a few moments, his deft fingers loosening one of her braids, pins pinging off the stone floor as he threw them. “To be honest, I didn’t think there would ever be anyone again," he husked. "You smashed that notion.”

 

She smirked. “The dragons usually do that.”

 

He suddenly rolled over her, settling between her thighs. A hand slipped along her cheek, fingers delving into her hair, a scowl on his face. “Why do you do that?"

 

"Why do I do what?"

 

"Earlier today, you said Tormund liked you for your dragons, and now you say the same of me." He shook his head, looking positively offended. "It's not the dragons, amazing creatures that they are." The gentleness was back in his eyes as he stared at her, his thumb sliding across her temple in soft sweeps. "Their mother though, she is something else altogether," he rasped. "It’s all you, Dany. Your strength and courage. Your eyes I couldn’t help but find on the field. Your presence within my home haunted me that first night. I wanted you as I've never wanted anything else. All of you has drawn me in like a moth to a flame. The faith you have in yourself. Your heart. You’re all I’ve been able to think of since I met you. All the bad, the horrible things I know are coming, or those that happened before, they just… disappear when I’m with you.”

 

She ducked her head and pulled him down against her, holding him close, afraid she would start to cry, and not wanting him to see. But she raised a hand to his face and stroked his cheek, scraping her nails through his crisp beard. “You really must stop saying such things to me, Jon Snow. You are destroying my queenly persona,” she whispered.

 

"Maybe, when I'm sure you believe me."

 

"I want to."

 

He pulled away from her hold and looked down at her, brow fretful. "But you don't?"

 

She brushed back one of his curls that had come free from its leather tie, tucking it behind his ear. She hated to admit it to herself, let alone him, but she couldn't seem to stop the words from spilling forth. "Not very long ago someone who claimed to love me said I was nothing without my dragons. That no one would respect me without them."

 

Jon's eyes were narrowed and lit with fire when she dared to look up at him again. "Tell me he's dead."

 

A smile took her lips, unbidden. "I never said it was a he."

 

"You mentioned a lover once. I assumed."

 

"You assumed right. Daario Naharis, a sellsword from the Second Sons." That fire within his eyes burned brighter still, she could almost feel it licking up her skin. His lip even twitched. She took more enjoyment from his rankled ego than she should have and gave him a wicked grin. "Are you jealous, Jon Snow?" she asked with a purr as she ran a fingertip over his perfect nose. 

 

He snarled and rolled off her and onto his back. It was all she could do to keep her bubbling laughter contained. "Aye," he grunted, "same as you when I had a snake trying to coax me into her bed."

 

It was her turn to feel the bitter bite of jealousy again and it had her pressing herself along his side, slinging a leg over him, a hand roaming his gorgeous body as she kissed him hard, possessing him all she could in that short moment. "Ally's daughter or no," she whispered against his lips, "she will regret it if she looks your way again."

 

He trapped her against him, an arm around her back, the other taking her face while his lips took hers. The suddenness, the need, the sound of his ragged breath and throaty moans had her squirming against him, nearly riding his thigh, his hand firmly gripping her arse helping her along. 

 

They pawed and tasted and nipped at each other until their lungs were struggling for air, her left trembling on top of him, his chest heaving underneath her, his heart thrumming in her ear. She couldn't pin down exactly what it was that stirred them so for each other, but she hoped it never stopped, no matter the prickle of unease that lurked in the recesses of her mind. 

 

"He's not dead is he?" he murmured against her hair.

 

Gods, he really was worried. She lifted her head up and brushed her fingers through his beard. "No, but when I left him behind, you'll be pleased to know, I felt nothing."

 

He did look pleased, for a moment, then that little furrow was back between his brows, his eyes growing impossibly darker. "I'm not sure if that makes me feel better or not," he said, voice a roll of gravel. Rough hands ran up her body, from arse to shoulders, pressing just so. She found the act somehow possessive and provoking at once, a pleasing shiver taking her. "Will you do the same to me?"

 

She couldn't tell if he was serious or teasing, either way, her answer was the same. "Not likely," she murmured. "I was ready to burn a woman alive just for looking at you. I don't plan on walking away from you any time soon, Jon Snow." She shifted enough she could reach his mouth and kissed him, giving a nip to that luscious bottom lip of his. "I've become quite fond of you."

 

That brought a soft smile to his face, so sweet she felt a few more bricks crumble from her walls and had her talk with Tyrion earlier in the day coming back to her. The offer of marriage was ready to leap off the tip of her tongue, but it was too soon. There were other factors to consider save their insatiable need for one another. And, she hadn't been speaking false, they did need to know more about each other. 

 

Talk of Daario had her wondering who else had known Jon as well as she did now. He was too skilled a lover not to have been with at least a few women. Which had to mean he'd broken vows if she had her facts straight. If he would break those...

 

"May I ask a question?"

 

"Anything you want."

 

She rose up on her hands above him, wanting to see as well as hear his response. "You were just a boy when you joined the Watch, and only left a few moons ago. It's my understanding the men of the Watch take no lovers or wives, yet you are…" she smirked, relishing in the memory of his talents, "very skilled, Jon Snow."

 

She thought he might preen under the praise, but surprisingly he didn't even crack a small smile. If anything, melancholy took over his handsome features, his eyes drifting to her hair where his fingers stroked through it. "They take no wives, and say they take no lovers, but that isn't true. There was a whore house not far from the Wall."

 

"So that's where you learned."

 

"No," he was quick to correct her. "I've never been with a whore. I tried once, fifteen and green as spring grass… I couldn't go through with it." His eyes met hers. "Didn't want to bring another bastard into the world."

 

A painful ache took her heart and she cupped his cheek. "I wish no one had ever told you there was such a thing. You are no less because of it, not in my eyes," she told him emphatically.

 

He leaned up and kissed her. "You are an exception to the rule," he whispered before laying back again, eyes avoiding, fingers going into her hair once more. More pins clattered to the floor.

 

She sat back and ran her own fingers over his scars, the sight of them always filling her with a mixture of fury, awe, and gratefulness. He'd held to his vows, done the right thing by allowing Tormund and his people safe passage through the Wall, and yet he'd died for it. Was resurrected and risked his life again for his home, a little brother, and a sister he'd thought cared for them all. Was doing his best to help lead the North, and to save all of Westeros from the nightmares he knew to be real. Had he not earned his rightful place in the world? She certainly believed he had, but she sensed Jon may never see himself as anything more than a bastard no matter how much good he did. That could cause issues once she brought up marriage with him. 

 

She could legitimize him, name him Jon Stark. Lord of Winterfell. Sansa would certainly hate that. Something told her Jon would as well. 

 

Wishing it was the time to speak of it, but knowing it wasn't, she brought them back to her earlier question.

 

"So if it wasn't—"

 

"It was a Wildling girl," he cut across her. "Remember Tormund telling you they'd captured me?" She nodded. "I captured her first, was supposed to kill her, but couldn't do it. She took advantage of my weakness, made me their prisoner. I rebuffed her for a while, but she finally pushed me to break my vows, to prove I wasn't a Crow anymore, but one of them. Not the spy for the Watch I really was. She was fiery and brash, liked to call me a fool. You know nothing, Jon Snow. That's the last thing she said to me as she died in my arms a few months later."

 

"You cared for her?" She didn't need to ask, she could see it written all over his face. He'd watched his first love die as well, just as she had.

 

"Aye."

 

"I'm sorry."

 

He gave the tiniest of smiles, one full of sadness, and reached up for her before rolling them to their sides and running his hand along her hip and down her thigh. "We've both lost more than our fair share."

 

She hummed, reaching down and taking hold of his hand and bringing it to her lips. She placed a kiss to his scarred palm. "We have, but would we be here if we hadn't?"

 

"No, I suppose not."

 

"Despite all of it, I like being here," she breathed.

 

"Aye, me too." 

 

That sweet softness had taken his beautiful face again. It nearly stopped her heart. If she wasn't careful she might give up everything for him.

 

"I am too distracted by you, but I find I don’t care." She reached over and loosened his curls, letting her fingers play in the raven locks. "I don’t want to pretend we mean nothing to each other.”

 

He frowned and shook his head. “I think it’s rather obvious we mean more to each other than that.” He leaned in and kissed her, sliding his tongue against hers, softly pulling at her lips. “Tyene understood the threat and I’m fairly certain she told her mother. I imagine her sisters will know by morning...”

 

“Maybe not Nymeria," she said with a soft chuckle. "She left with Qohno.”

 

He furrowed his brow. “How did they even communicate?”

 

She shrugged and smiled at him. “I wanted you well before you ever said a word to me.”

 

“Fair point," he conceded and kissed her again before propping his head in his hand. "Alright, so, at least Ellaria, Obara, and Tyene know. They appeared pretty friendly with Yara, so assume she knows.”

 

“Potentially Theon.” At his name, he huffed out a breath and she stroked his arm. “You don’t want him here?”

 

“No. I don’t,” he answered, a hard edge to his voice.

 

She heaved a sigh. “I know why. All the reasons you’d tell me. I understand. And I'm sorry."

 

“But your hands are tied?”

 

She rolled him to his back and propped her head on her hand, still attempting to soothe him with the other. “Yara made a promise, no more reaving and raping. She’ll honor her promise if I give her the honor and respect she deserves. She gets the Iron Islands. And it was Theon who helped argue her case.” She sighed. “If I excluded him, told her to keep him away from the keep, then that’s showing favorites to someone who hasn’t pledged to me, and don’t,” she said as she put her hand over his opening mouth. “That is not a negotiation for you to say something you shouldn’t." He cut his eyes at her, but closed his mouth, removing her hand and pressing it over his chest, his own resting over it. "I have to respect Theon just as I respect Sansa," she went on, "otherwise I could lose an ally and she breaks her promise because I didn’t show her respect.”

 

He took a deep breath and blew it out. “I don't like it, but I understand. I’ll try to control my temper.”

 

She smiled at him. “I don’t know about that. I do like how forceful and dominant you can be.”

 

He laced her fingers with his, concern knitting his brow. “I always had a temper, but since…" he rubbed at the scar under their hands, "it scares me sometimes. I have such fragile control over it. That darkness that came back with me.”

 

She nodded and placed a kiss just above a scar. “I know that feeling. My blood starts pumping, I can feel the heat of it in my neck. It’s all I can do to keep hold of the leash… knowing everything will burn if I don't.”

 

He gave a small nod. “Aye. And I’d be fine with watching all of it bleed around me.”

 

She stroked his cheek, turning his face toward hers. “My wolf,” she whispered as she leaned up and placed a kiss on his lips. “I like it when you let him out to play.”

 

He smiled and traced her lips with his thumb, then reached down and pulled her thigh over his hips. “Shall I let him out again?"

 

She chuckled and pushed him firmly to his back as she straddled his hips. “Yes, let’s.”

 

---

 

Jon had stumbled back to his room in the early hours of the morning, thoroughly exhausted but never happier about it. Twice more before they had fallen asleep and he’d woken her up by rubbing and touching all the naked flesh he could reach. 

 

He groaned as his cock twitched at the thought, but he was too tired to even take himself in hand. He had to learn to control his reactions to her better than he was doing. He couldn’t be dragging her off to the Dothraki camp or sneaking away with her at dinner. Her allies were here to plan a war. 

 

But more immediately pressing; they had a meeting in the afternoon and he needed sleep. He stripped out of his clothes and climbed into the furs, letting darkness take him. 

 

He woke to a pounding at his door what felt like minutes after he'd laid down. Davos entered with a tray. “Good you’re up,” he said as he placed it on the table in the corner.

 

Jon rubbed his eyes, seeing that the day had started and Davos had brought something to break his fast. “I wasn’t," he grunted, voice a low rasp.

 

“Late night, lad?”

 

He pushed himself upright and scrubbed at his face, running rough hands through his hair, neither diminishing the heavy pull of sleep. Head aching from too much drink, and a body sore from an abundance of much more pleasant things he swung his legs over the edge of his bed with a groan and pulled his trousers on followed by his tunic. He stumbled to the table and sank into the chair across from Davos. “What news?”

 

Davos dropped four scrolls in front of him. Jon scanned the sigils– the merman from Manderly the first he picked up. He unrolled it and squinted at it, his mind and eyes still in a thick haze. “Lord Manderly has accepted our summons and leaves on the morrow,” he said, putting it back on the table and picking up the one from Lord Cerwyn. “Cerwyn as well.”

 

The next sigil gave him pause. The four chains linked by a ring in the middle, that of Umber. He opened the scroll and raised an eyebrow. 

 

“What is it?” Davos asked.

 

“Ned Umber is comin'.”

 

“Smalljon’s son?”

 

“I suppose,” he said with a sigh. “But it’s good they’re sendin' someone.” He tossed the scroll on the table and reached for the last, looking up at Davos after noting the sigil. “This is from King’s Landing.” His old friend gave a worried nod. He broke the seal and read it, the ache behind his eyes growing with each word. He threw it on the table and sat back, crossing an arm over his chest, the other raised, fingers pinching the bridge of his nose. 

 

"Not good news I'm assuming?"

 

“From the Hand of Cersei Lannister," he sighed and looked up at him. "Orderin' me to abandon my alliance with the false queen, come south, and swear fealty to House Lannister and the North to her or suffer the consequences."

 

“Oh? Worse consequences than if you were to cast aside the Targaryen queen and declare for them?” He shook his head and picked up the scroll. “It amazes me some of these people ever made it into power. She knows she can’t march her armies North and hope to take Winterfell from you, not while Queen Daenerys is here. It’s an empty threat.”

 

It was indeed a threat, but not an empty one. 

 

“Tywin Lannister, Walder Frey, and Roose Bolton all managed to kill my brother, his wife, and his mother outside of battle," he reminded him. "I don’t put anything past her if she’s willin' to blow up a sept, and thousands of others, just to be rid of a few enemies.”

 

Davos tilted his head. “What do we do?”

 

“I tell the people who need to know and continue plannin' this summit, figure out what to do with all the people Winterfell's about to be full of.”

 

“The queen is one of those that need to know.”

 

“Aye, and even though I’m ready to be done with the whole concept of consulting her for anything, Sansa. She needs to know we’ve been threatened.”

 

“You should know I saw Lord Baelish coming from her solar this morning.” 

 

Jon’s jaw clenched as he leaned his head back against the chair, swallowing down a feral growl. “The queen released him from being shut up in his room,” he told him after a slow breath or two.

 

“You didn’t think that would last long, did ya?"

 

“No, but I could hope.” He shook his head and sat back up. “Do you think she'd plot to have me killed?”

 

"Sansa?" Davos pursed his mouth then kissed his teeth, his balding head giving a twist. “It would be foolish on her part, now. Knowing that the queen is... attached to you," he said, bushy eyebrows raised. "Would be a huge risk.”

 

Jon nodded but frowned. “I hate I can’t shake the thought she'd prefer it if I was dead, then she could do what she wanted.”

 

“To an extent she could. I don’t believe Queen Daenerys will leave the North without some sort of alliance being made, even if you go with her.”

 

“Sansa would rather that alliance was made with her as Queen of the North. It's all she cares about, being in charge, no one else ruling over her. She doesn’t get that if I’m alive.”

 

“No, I suppose she doesn’t. So, what do we do?”

 

“Keep watching her. Tormund is doing it as well. He’s the one that told me she was meeting with Baelish.”

 

Davos sighed. “It’s a fucking shame she’s putting her ambition over common sense.”

 

“I'm not so sure it's ambition, not all of it anyway. And she hasn’t done anything but not tell me somethin', yet.”


“A lie by omission is still a lie,” Davos retorted warily.

 

“Aye, it is. But I told her when we found each other again that I'd protect her or Father would come back to haunt me. I’ll do what I can for as long as I can to keep that promise, no matter how much I dislike the idea at the moment.” Davos was staring at him and Jon finally looked up into the older man’s eyes, his brows raising. “What is it?”

 

“Do you know I never question if you'll do the right thing? It’s never been something that entered my mind. You do the right thing no matter how hard it is simply because it’s the right thing. I admire that about you.”

 

Jon felt a knot in his throat at his words but was cut off from speaking as a knock sounded at his door. He bid the person to enter. It was Grey Worm. “Queen Daenerys wants to meet with you in the Great Hall.”

 

He heaved a sigh and nodded. “Very well. Return to her and tell her I’ll meet her there shortly,” he said as he got up and pulled his boots on. Grey Worm left and Jon looked at Davos. “I wonder what’s happened.”

 

“I don’t know, but if she sent the commander up here, something had to.”

 

“Or will.” Jon pulled his dark jerkin on and tied his hair back. His gambeson and the fur piece of his cloak around his shoulders next, followed by his sword belt. 

 

The two left his room and entered the hall to find Daenerys standing in front of the hearth, her councilors all sitting at the table behind her, grim expressions on their faces. 

 

She looked over her shoulder at Tyrion and nodded. He handed Jon a small scroll, the Lannister seal shining up at him. He read it, the threat similar to the one he’d received. With a tilt of his head, Davos handed his over to Tyrion. 

 

The little Lord let out a sigh once he'd read it. “They received one as well, Your Grace.”

 

“Oh? What did your sister have to say to Lord Snow?”

 

“Oh, the usual fare. Abandon the queen that’s residing at your keep, come south, and bend the knee to me," he said, his lively sing-song tone dripping with sarcasm.

 

Daenerys rolled her eyes. “This confirms it. She knows I’m here. I believe we have to assume that the would-be assassin was paid by her.”

 

Jon took a deep breath and leaned against the table, staring into her heated blue eyes. “Better than the alternative, Your Grace,” he said as he handed the scroll back to Tyrion. 

 

She faced him. “You and your sister are as much a target as I am. I have offered guards to her, yet she has refused.”

 

Jon shook his head. “I can’t make her accept, Your Grace.”

 

“Leave me with Lord Snow," she said quietly, but firm.

 

A plethora of chair legs scraped and stuttered across the stone floors and he nodded for Davos to follow. He watched them all leave and once the doors closed–the Unsullied guards going to the other side, giving them privacy–he walked the short distance to her. 

 

“Sansa needs guards," she said, a small furrow between her brows.

 

He twisted his head around in frustration. “I can’t make her agree. I can barely tolerate being in the same room with her.”

 

“Does she understand the threat?”


His eyebrows rose. “ From Cersei? The only person who may understand the threat better than her is Tyrion,” he took her gloved hands in his, “I can talk to her, just to give you peace of mind.”

 

She gave him a small smile. “Thank you.”

 

“Do you want your guards watching her because you’re worried about her safety, or because you don’t trust her?”

 

She winced and he had his answer. He let her voice it anyway. “Honestly? Both," she replied, not hiding from him, but meeting his eyes. "I already have guards following Lord Baelish.”

 

He smirked. “That makes me feel better.”

 

She tilted her head as she looked up at him, a palm pressing to his chest. “I’m glad.” She leaned up and kissed him softly, slowly. Lips warm and smooth, breath sweet. He cupped her face in his hands and she gripped his wrists, holding herself just out of his reach. “To be honest, that’s why I really sent everyone away,” she whispered, lips brushing his.

 

He kissed her again, drawn-out and deep, tongue delving, feeding her just a touch of his desperation until a honeyed moan slipped from her mouth and into his. He pulled away, feeling more than a little dose of cockiness rushing through him. “ I’m glad ,” he teased, rubbing his nose against hers. “But, I wish we had more time. I'd make us both very glad if you weren't holding quite the meeting later today. Should be entertaining, I suppose. Not the pleasant afternoons I've grown accustomed to though.”

 

She rolled her eyes and shoved at his chest feigning annoyance. The enticing flush glowing in her cheeks said otherwise. “I’m sure something will happen that will nearly cause a war, and pique your interest. I have to hope cooler heads can prevail though. And if they can’t, well, I’m the queen and I’ll put it down,” she said softly.

 

Jon smirked and looped an arm around her waist, pulling her back against him. “I love it when you show off the Dragon Queen.”

 

“Aren’t I always the Dragon Queen?”

 

He shook his head. “No. Sometimes you’re the Mother of Dragons. When you’re with your Dothraki, you’re their… Khaleesi? ” he tried carefully, hoping he got it right. She nodded and gave him a bright smile. He brushed his thumb over the upturned corner of her perfect mouth. “And sometimes," he went on, his voice gone low even to his own ears, "when it’s quiet and we’re alone, you’re Dany.”

 

“And you like the Dragon Queen more than that?”

 

He shook his head again as he cupped her soft cheek, her skin like silk beneath his palm. “No, Your Grace,” he whispered and pressed his lips to hers. "I prefer Dany."

 

Fingers threaded into his hair, nails scraping lightly at the back of his neck as she brushed her tongue against his, the touches feather-light and teasing. Just as he deepened it, she broke away with a grumble. “We don’t have time to tour the Dothraki camp.”

 

He chuckled, tapping her pouting lip with his finger. “No. But we didn’t need that last night.”


She leaned her head against his shoulder. “Everyone was contained in here for a feast. It was easier to sneak away unnoticed.”

 

“I don’t think we left unnoticed. I’m sure your allies noticed." He looked around the empty room. "There's no one here now," he stated and made a show of testing out how much weight the table could take, leaning a heavy hand on it and giving it a good shake, eyebrows jumping.

 

Her tinkling bell-like laughter filled the room, and his chest, making him forget for just a moment how tired he was and all the weight upon their shoulders. "You are incorrigible, Jon Snow."

 

"Only for you, Your Grace."

 

Her smile was tender as she walked back into his arms and laid herself against his chest. She stayed there, letting him hold her and he marveled how much his life had changed in such a short time. He would've laughed himself straight into death again if someone had told him he'd be standing in his home, holding a queen, one who had chosen him to be her lover.

 

She released a dreary sigh and looked up at him, fingers tracing the grooves of his gambeson. “What about the army of the dead? Should I tell them?”

 

His brow dropped, remembering how she trembled in his arms after their excursion beyond the Wall. Her fear. She knew the threat, the whole purpose of going was to make her allies aware, to give them a witness besides him and the Wildlings. He didn't know there'd be any question. “You have to.”


She nodded. “Yes, I know I have to. But should I wait until Olenna arrives?” she clarified.

 

He relaxed a bit. “You’ve already said something to Littlefinger. What are the chances he keeps that to himself?”

 

“Given that Sansa doesn’t believe it, probably better than we could hope.”

 

The knot of dread suddenly rolling within his stomach said differently. “Or, he’ll use it to make others think you’re mad.”

 

The fire had been reflecting in her eyes before then, but somehow it grew brighter, flames dancing in the blue depths. “It would be the last thing he ever did,” she declared and turned from his arms. She paced to the end of the table and back. “I suppose I can mention it, at least bring it up. I did that with the others. It keeps everyone on equal footing.”

 

“I’ll back you up. So will Tormund.”

 

She shook her head. “I wish it wasn’t true. I wish the worst thing we had to worry about was Cersei and her threats.”

 

He nodded and looked at his hands. “I wish that, too.”

 

“Perhaps we can send a raven to the Citadel asking for information on the Long Night. Isn’t that what you called it?”

 

“That’s what the tale was, yes," he answered. "Sam is supposed to be researching that information for me.”

 

“And you haven’t heard from him?”

 

“No, I haven’t.”

 

“Send a raven to him and see if he’s found anything,” she said softly. “If Yara and Ellaria want a private audience to discuss it further after our meeting then I’ll meet with them, perhaps you too."

 

He huffed out a breath, disliking that idea immensely. "I don't trust them… The way they look at you."

 

She lifted her head, her smile devious and divine. “You have no competition, Jon Snow. Believe me,” she whispered and placed one last kiss to his lips before she turned away from him. “Now, no more distracting me,” she said over her shoulder. "I have work to do."

 

He chuckled. “Apologies, Your Grace. I’ll try to control myself. Perhaps I’ll go to the yard and do sword drills with the children," he said and started for the door. 

 

“You do not play fair, my Lord,” her voice stopped him.

 

He turned to look at her, throwing her a smirk. “It’s the only way I can keep it even between us, Your Grace." One eyebrow rose at him in question, blue depths twinkling. He studied her, his Winter goddess, his queen, his lover. She was more than any man deserved, let alone a bastard like him. "You already have me at quite the disadvantage,” he said softly then exited the hall, sending her guards back inside. 

 

*~*

 

She stood at the head of the table and waited for the others to filter in. Jon took a position directly across from her, again, the beautiful menace that he was. He had a spot of mud on his jerkin, but unless he moved his arms a certain way, you couldn’t see it. However, her eyes were constantly moving over him, remembering what lay beneath all those Northern layers of leather and wool, how those dark eyes burned. He smirked at her and she finally tore her eyes away, annoyed at herself, and looked around at the group gathered. She couldn’t help but smile at how different they all were, despite the heavy tension that hung within the room.

 

“Thank you all for attending. Is everyone familiar with everyone else?" A round of nods were her answer. She took a deep breath, meeting everyone’s eyes that dared to look her way. “We are here to discuss strategy, however, I will fill in some of you as to a few issues that have come to light. We've received a threat from Cersei Lannister telling me to surrender now and my death will be relatively painless." 

 

Yara and Ellaria both drew to their full heights, eyes narrowed and hard. Royce's armor clanked as he shifted on his feet, expression stern. Baelish did not react. Quite telling in and of itself.

 

"Lord Snow received a similar threat telling him to abandon any alliance with me and come to King’s Landing and swear fealty to her,” she added, then hurried on, not giving anyone time to question him, or the North's allegiance. “The Twins are currently being held by Walder Frey’s widow," she said, motioning toward the proper place on the map, "and protected by men provided by Lady Olenna Tyrell. We don’t, yet, know who it is that killed Walder and the men in his family, but our hope is they can be counted as an ally because I don’t think we want them as an enemy. Lord Baelish and Lord Royce have declared for House Targaryen on orders of their lord, Robyn Arryn of the Eyrie.”

 

Everyone current, Tyrion took the floor. “We will go over our plan in greater detail when Lady Olenna arrives, however," he looked at Ellaria, Yara, and Baelish in turn, "we ask you to call your armies together as soon as possible. We will need every person you can spare.”

 

“What are we going to do?” Yara asked arms crossed over her chest.

 

“Lay siege to King’s Landing. Blockade the port—”

 

“Why?” Ellaria scoffed and turned obsidian eyes on Daenerys. “Your Grace, you have three large dragons. There doesn’t need to be a siege. A simple taking of the city with them should crumble the Red Keep and everyone in it.”

 

“The point is to spare innocent lives,” Tyrion began to argue but she cut him off.

 

“This is war," she sneered, her hate for his family more than evident, almost a corporeal being there in the room with them. "There are no innocent lives in war.”

 

“There are always innocent lives,” Jon interrupted, the deep tone of his voice filling the room and drawing all eyes to him. “If you forget that while you’re in battle, then you’ve lost the point in the first place.”

 

Ellaria turned her full attention on Jon, her anger still simmering. “From my understanding, the North has not bent the knee to the Queen, so I fail to see why you’re here," she raked her eyes over him, much as she had during the feast, as if he were a succulent meal being presented to her, "other than your pretty face," she finished, her daughters, Yara, and Baelish all smirking or snorting.

 

That had Jon, Tormund, Davos, and even little Lyanna stepping forward, all scowling fiercely. Jon opened his mouth to argue. 

 

“Enough,” she demanded, voice cutting over the table before war broke out in the room. “My Lady," she addressed Ellaria, "whether or not someone is pledged to me does not mean his advice isn’t valuable. It happens that I agree with Lord Snow. We spare all the lives we can for as long as we can.” 

 

She shared a look with Jon, he was past conflicted, his brow deeply furrowed, eyes angry and sad in equal measure, fists clenching and unclenching. He didn't like the uncertainty of where the North stood with her, of being judged by her allies as no more than a plaything in her bed. She almost feared he would bend the knee then and there, but she didn’t want him to. She wanted him to marry her. But that certainly wasn't a conversation to have just then, no matter how impatient she was growing to have it. Giving him the tiniest shake of her head and a pleading look thankfully had him yielding. 

 

Her eyes flicked to Sansa who stood at his side, staring down at the map in front of them, silent and solemn as she had been from the moment she entered the room. She was a troublesome issue, an injured wolf, trapped and distraught, wild . Daenerys was more than hesitant to leave the North in her hands, which she would have to do if she married Jon. At the very least she would be their Wardeness. She feared what Sansa might do if given that sort of power, even if Daenerys assured her she would never come to harm again. Jon had made her the same promise and it had done nothing to sway her. 

 

“Your Grace,” Baelish called, interrupting her thoughts. “It would be simply a matter of you taking the keep. Once it falls, with Cersei inside, the city will fall. I have to say that I agree with Lady Ellaria.”

 

“Have you ever taken to a city before, Lord Baelish? Lady Ellaria?” she snipped, tired of the dissension. “ I have . Do you know what defending armies do to a city once its leader falls? The innocents are the ones to suffer. They take what they want and leave devastation in their wake. Disease sets in. The people suffer. How much have the people in this country lost because of war? I will not punish those that live in King’s Landing simply because it’s what would be easiest,” she said, hoping that would silence them both. It did, but the roll of Ellaria's eyes and Baelish's hard stare had her speaking again. “I know well the devastation my dragons can bring. I have ridden them into battle. And I will not unleash them on a city of innocent people when I don’t have to.”

 

Ellaria's hands flew out her beautiful face a mask of anger. “Then what is the purpose, Your Grace?” she asked. “I was promised you would bring us fire and blood, and yet you hesitate to use fire, or shed blood.”

 

She shook her head. “You did not understand me, my Lady. I will use them against my enemies. I do not shy away from fire, nor blood. Cersei will fall. But I want to make sure that those who suffer my wrath are the ones that deserve it.”

 

“You can’t spare every innocent,” Lord Baelish said, shaking his head, that condescending air making a return. “The people in King’s Landing will change their allegiance when they see your dragons fly overhead. People respect strength.”

 

“And as I’ve already told you , Lord Baelish, sometimes it is compassion and mercy they respect, as well. Until I am sure I can’t win by using those, I will not use my dragons to destroy the homes and lives of people who are only trying to live. Do I make myself clear?” He and Ellaria finally nodded, though reluctantly. “Good. Lord Tyrion, please continue," she said, giving him a pointed look.  

 

He gave a nod. “Right.” 

 

Tyrion laid out the rest of their plan; bringing the armies of Westeros together to lay siege to King’s Landing, using little of her own force to show Cersei that Westeros was united against her. 

 

Yara frowned. “What of your armies, Your Grace? You’re willing to use our people to fight this war for you, but you have a far greater number than we do. Will you keep your men back?”

 

She shook her head. “No. We will use my armies for a greater threat, and as support should things go wrong. Hopefully, we won’t have to fight two battles at once,” she said softly. Her eyes locked with Jon’s, feeling strength coming from him, to help push her along. “There is a problem that not everyone in this room is aware of, and we will be discussing it further when Lady Olenna arrives, but, for now, I will tell you as much as I can.” All eyes on her, she clenched and released her laced fingers, and a deep breath as well. “There is a threat beyond the Wall moving south. They’re a danger to everyone.”

 

“The Wildlings were permitted beyond the Wall,” Obara said, her pretty face twisted in confusion.

 

“It’s not the Wildlings,” she said quickly. “There is a dark force, the Night King, moving south with an army that rivals my own. A dead army."

 

An abrupt bark of laughter sounded from Ellaria. " Dead? " she mocked as Yara and Theon shared a disbelieving look. Skepticism was written clearly on the young Dornish ladies' faces as well. 

 

“You were told this?” Yara asked, carefully.

 

She gave a firm nod. “I was. Lord Snow told me and Tormund verified it. Several of the other Wildlings also confirmed the story. It's why Lord Snow allowed them through the Wall. I was as uncertain as you, until yesterday. Jon Snow and I flew Drogon beyond the Wall and I saw the army for myself. This… Night King even threw a weapon at my dragon to try and bring him down. It barely missed us.” She took a deep breath, suppressing the fear that came rushing back. It had been too close, far too close. All three of them could've been lost within moments. “Lord Snow tells me they're at least two weeks from Eastwatch by the Sea. That gives us two weeks to plan our attack—”

 

“If you believe this, Your Grace," Littlefinger began, but she quickly cut him off.

 

"I've seen them with my own eyes. Did you not hear me?" she asked, incredulous.

 

"Then all the more reason to take the capital, now,” he argued. “Eliminate one threat before we confront another.”

 

“As I’ve said, I won’t attack the city until we have a means in place to take care of its people. You are not the only ones I will rule so you are not the only lives I have to consider,” she told him, her tone sharp and clipped. “When Lady Olenna arrives, we will develop a more thorough plan of attack, but my point was to make you aware of this other threat. It is coming. And we will have to fight it.”

 

Everyone grew silent, all eyes staring at the pieces on the table, save hers. They were locked with Jon’s, the weight of his gaze heavy, yet understanding. He'd carried a terrible burden trying to convince others the dead were real. Now she knew it too.

 

*~*

 

She stood on the rampart as the sun was fading, her Unsullied guards with her. She stared out over the Dothraki camp and her dragons in the space beyond, a soft snow falling. No one saw them as she did. To them, they were beasts, monsters, weapons. A tool to use against others, to bend them to her will. But they were her children and her people, her blood. Loyal to her, loved her when she felt like there was no one else in the world. They were hers and she was theirs and no one else understood. 

 

“You shouldn’t be up here with so little guard, Your Grace.” She turned to see Lyanna Mormont walking toward her. Her guards flanking her small form. Daenerys wasn’t much taller than she was. Little, but fierce. “You handled that rather well," the young leader offered.

 

“Thank you, my Lady,” she said softly. “It’s difficult when you know what the easy solution is.”

 

“Easy doesn’t always mean right, Your Grace.”

 

She looked over at her. “No. It doesn’t.”

 

“You are right. At least I think you are. Maybe I’m able to see it differently because I’m close in age to those who would be the most hurt by what they’re saying. I can’t imagine being on the ground, looking up at them," she nodded toward Daenerys sons, "as they flew overhead, burning everything. You feel small enough in the world, depending on other people to help take care of you until you can do it on your own.” She shook her head. “Being a child is terrifying enough. Knowing dragons are real…"

 

“I remember that all too well. It was just my brother and me for a long time. And… he went mad." She swallowed and licked at her chapped lips before turning to Lyanna. "How many orphans do you suppose there are in King’s Landing already?”

 

“Countless, I’m sure. The War of Five Kings took parents, siblings, and children from everyone. My mother. Lord Snow’s brother.” She met her gaze, young face solemn, though strong. “The North was devastated by the battles. I admit I wasn’t upset to learn the Frey’s had all died, nor did it give me peace. I just felt hollow.”

 

“I’m sorry about your mother,” she said softly. 

 

Lyanna straightened her shoulders, gave a quick sniff. “As I said, it seems that everyone lost something. What were you doing during that time?”

 

Daenerys pursed her lips, raising her eyes to the slate grey sky above them, tiny snowflakes catching in her lashes. “I believe that was around the time my husband died and my dragons hatched. At least, the start of the war. When word reached me the Starks had all been killed, I was… marching to Meereen. Ser Jorah received word from someone he knew here.”

 

“You said he was a good man?”

 

She nodded and smiled, sad though it was. "One of the best I've ever known. Though, he was trading my secrets when he first came to me. Sending them back to Varys as he wanted a pardon from Robert to let him come home.” She shook her head and sighed, remembering the pain of bone-deep betrayal before pushing it back into the past where it belonged. “He switched his allegiance along the way. He was one of my most trusted advisors.” She looked at Lyanna. “When I was Queen of Meereen, the Sons of the Harpy attacked us in a fighting pit. Jorah saved my life. And when I was captured by the Dothraki, he came to save me,” she told her. “When he told me he had Greyscale I sent him to find a cure. I don’t know if I should've kept him with me, just at an arm’s distance, but I do know I miss him and hope every day he finds a cure.”

 

“I hope so, too. I’d like to meet him. I don’t remember much about my mother. I remember what she looks like, but I don’t… remember much about her other than that. Do you think that’s bad?”

 

Daenerys shook her head. “You can’t help what you remember and what you don’t. If you could, there are so many things I’d like to forget. If I look back, I’m lost. So, I move forward.”

 

She took a deep breath. “I’m not saying I’m siding with you, or pledging my aid to your cause. But I think I have the measure of you, now, Your Grace.”

 

“And do you find me lacking?”

 

“No.” Daenerys didn’t look at her, afraid a smile would spread across her face to know she had the little bear’s approval. “Are you going to have the Starks bend the knee?”

 

“I think it’s prudent that I wait until the summit to decide anything. Get the measure of the whole North, first.”

 

“If they are honorable men, which I’m not saying they are or aren’t, they’ll come to see you for who you are.”

 

She nodded and sighed. “I hope that whatever opinion they form it’s one I deserve.”

 

“As I said if they are honorable...”

 

“Thank you, my Lady.”

 

Lyanna kept her eyes fixed on the horizon, where the dragons scuffled and occasionally screeched. “What are their names?”

 

“The green one is Rhaegal, the cream, Viserion, and the black one is Drogon.”

 

“Who is he named after?”

 

“My deceased husband. He promised to give me the Seven Kingdoms and he died. But Drogon could. Rhaegal could. Viserion could,” she said softly. “Do you want to know something that most other people wouldn’t even consider when speaking about them?" Lyanna's eyebrows rose. "The dragons are my children. When they hatched, they were no bigger than cats and I could carry them in my arms. I still like to sit on the ground and pet them. Wish I could still hold them.”

 

“They’re beautiful. Terrifying, but beautiful.”

 

She nodded. “I know the world sees them as monsters, but I don’t.”

 

“Then that’s all that matters. Not only are you the Mother of Dragons, but you’re a Queen. If you wished it so, your opinion would be the only one that matters.”

 

Daenerys nodded. She watched as Viserion suddenly pounced on Rhaegal and the two rolled across the snowy ground. Drogon looked at them in annoyance before flying into the air and toward them. He flew over the keep, right over their heads. 

 

Lyanna looked up, amazed, but surprisingly did not flinch. “I remember stories of Visenya Targaryen riding in on her dragon," she said. "A fierce dragon queen. A fighter. Your ancestor.”

 

She gave a nod. “Do you ever wonder if those that came before you would be proud of who you are?”

 

Lyanna looked up at her. “All the time, Your Grace.”

 

Daenerys smiled. “I suppose if someone like you has doubts then I’m in good company.”

 

The girl's dark brows drew together. “Are you talking down to me?”

 

She pulled a face, bit back a bubble of amusement. “Absolutely not. To be honest, I’m quite frightened of you,” she said, attempting to hide her smile. 

 

Lyanna rolled her eyes. “Forgive me, Your Grace, but this conversation has lost its edge.”

 

She did laugh then, though quietly. “Forgive me , my Lady. I will remember to only speak to you of the heavy issues of the day.”

 

Lyanna’s mouth quirked up for a moment. “Your Grace,” she said as she bowed her head then turned to leave. 

 

Daenerys watched her go then turned back to her other sons just as they took off into the air. She felt much more at ease than she had when she’d first sought out the seclusion of the rampart for a breath of air. 

 

*~*

 

“He’s in the bath,” a servant girl giggled to another as they walked past her. She followed them, heading toward her rooms. 

 

“Did ya get a peek at em?” the second asked.

 

“No, but I certainly tried,” the girl admitted. “ Lord Snow doesn’t take his leathers down if people are ‘round. He’s shy. I like that," she sighed dreamily. "I left the door unlocked even though he told me to lock it. Thought I’d go back in a few to see if he needs any help scrubbin’.” 

 

Daenerys stopped, waiting until the girls got down to the end of the hall before she turned around and found a guard, asking for directions to Jon’s room. He nodded and led her down a short hallway, then up a flight the stairs. She knew he'd led her true when she spotted her guards at Jon’s door. 

 

She dismissed them to the ends of the hall and knocked, hearing a frustrated groan. 

 

“Not now,” came his muffled call from behind the thick wood.

 

She pushed on the door, taking a chance and smiled when it opened. She crept inside, or so she thought, until she looked up and saw Jon, sitting in the bath, his sword in hand as he stared at her in surprise. “What are you doing here?”

 

She bumped the door closed with a nudge of her hip and slid the bolt home. “You might want to lock the door behind you,” she said as she pulled her gloves off. “Your servant girls were going to try to seduce you.”

 

His head tilted and an eyebrow raised as he dropped his sword. She began undoing the clasps of her coat, dark eyes following her every movement. “They would be unsuccessful,” he said as he stared up at her. “However, if you’d like to join me, you're more than welcome.”

 

Piece by piece she dropped her clothes onto the chair beside his sword; her boots and riding leathers. Next, her crimson dress and the chain mail. Her shift, made of the finest Meereense silk, the only cover left. Her throat went dry as he stared up at her with his dark eyes, wet tresses framing his pretty face. She sat beside him on the stool next to the tub. “I have to admit, I do like the look of you,” she said with a smile as she leaned her arms against the tub. 

 

His eyes swept over her, pupils blown to depthless black pools, and he sat up, a hand grasping the back of her neck, pulling her close, his lips pressed against hers. “You’re beautiful.”

 

She smiled. “And you’re charming, Lord Snow.”

 

He shook his head. “Jon. When I’m with you, I don’t want to be Lord Snow.”

 

"Jon," she breathed, still smiling as she traced over his perfectly plush lips with her thumb, then scratched her nails through his rough beard. She loved the way it prickled and teased over her skin when he’d kiss her. She was covered in beard burns and she didn’t care in the slightest. 

 

He captured her lips with his again, palm cupping the back of her head. Her hand slipped beneath the water, soon finding what it searched for, his cock, stiff as his steel sword. Wrapping him in her fist, she gave him a few firm strokes, smiling against his lips as he groaned for her. His eyes popped open when she released him, only for his lashes to flutter against his flushed cheeks as she cupped his stones, rolling them in her palm, gently raking her nails over them before going back to his lovely cock. 

 

“Were you thinking about me?”

 

“I’m always thinking about you,” he husked, lids heavy, pretty mouth parted as he struggled to breathe. She leaned forward and placed a kiss over his throbbing pulse, then licked and suckled at it. “Get in here so I can show you what I was thinking,” he grunted, reaching for her.

 

She chuckled against his skin when his hands fell away, water splashing, the twist of her wrist apparently turning him to jelly. She rested her head on her arm, watching him as she continued to slide her hand up and down, over and around his cock, thoroughly enjoying having him at her mercy. He particularly liked when she lightly grazed the swollen head with her nails, almost as she would scratch the scruff of his neck as they lay in bed. He would jerk, his hips rising, making her slide down over the length of him again. 

 

“You’re a beautiful man, Jon Snow,” she whispered. “So very distracting. I was walking through the keep with a purpose, but once I heard you were in the bath, I had to come see it for myself. I’m so glad I did.”

 

“You’re driving me mad, Dany," he panted, eyes squeezed shut, the muscles of his stomach twitching. 

 

“Good. I want you as out of sorts as I am. As it is, it’s all I can do to concentrate on other things throughout the day. It doesn’t matter what I do, my mind is constantly drifting to you.” She reached out and tilted his face toward hers. “You’re distracting in all the best ways,” she whispered as she leaned in and kissed him, tongue sliding into his mouth, his wet hands slipping into her hair to hold her to him. 

 

She broke the kiss to trail her lips over his beard covered jaw to his ear, her hand studious beneath the surface. She took the lobe between her teeth and gently pulled, releasing it with a slow slide. Trailing her lips along his corded neck, nipping and sucking, his heavy breaths stirring her. He tugged at the laces of her shift and got one of her breasts out and into his mouth. She fisted her hand into his dark hair, gasping as he bit, licked, and sucked. He was thrusting into her hand, sloshing water as he did. She squeezed tighter, stroked quicker.

 

He let out a deep groan against her breast, his cock jerking within her hand as he found his release. Heat pooled between her thighs, had her squirming upon her stool, as he slowly came down, thrusts slow and weak. Having him at her mercy was a drug. He finally fell limp, breathing harshly against her skin, his hold on her loosening. 

 

She gently let him go and pressed a kiss to his brow. “Take me to your bed,” she whispered.

 

*~*

 

Something woke him from the doze he’d fallen into. He’d had food brought to his room and they’d eaten it after he’d taken her to his bed and worshipped her like the goddess she was. But now, the candles were all low, the fire was dying, and something was persistently scratching at the door. He lifted his head and looked around, smiling at the feel of Dany’s body pressed against his back, her arms wrapped around his middle. He got loose of her, pulled on his trousers, and walked to the door, unlocking it to find Ghost. The great beast pushed past Jon and went into the bedroom. He shut and bolted the door again and went back into his room to find Ghost had taken his spot, a smile on Dany’s face as she ran her hands over his snowy fur.

 

He pushed at his hulking direwolf. “Foot of the bed, you great oaf,” he ordered, giving him another firm shove when he didn’t go anywhere. Ghost finally moved and settled at the foot, stretching out all the way across it. 

 

Jon stripped out of his pants once more and climbed back into bed with Dany, awake and bright-eyed. “He's finally here.”

 

He nodded and pulled her tighter against him. “He’ll stay with you and protect you,” he said softly. “He’s saved my life a time or two.” He curled her into his side more and she wrapped her leg over his hip. 

 

“I think it will send a pretty clear message of whose protection I’m under,” she said, kissing his chest. 

 

He smiled and tilted his head enough to press his lips to her forehead. “They might wonder why my wolf is following behind you.”

 

She chuckled. “He’s a wolf. He does what he wants. Much like the man in bed with me.”

 

“I do like to please you, Your Grace,” he teased.

 

Her hand came up to his cheek and turned his eyes to hers as she looked up at him. She raked her fingers through his hair, tucking some behind his ear, trailing her hand down his neck and to his chest. “You’ve proven that time and time again, my Lord," she whispered. "I hope I please you too?"

 

He almost laughed, the possibility that she wouldn't beyond absurd. Then he saw it, that tiny flash of fear, there, then gone so quickly one could've imagined it. But he knew her well enough by now to know it had been there. He pulled her closer, a palm splayed across her back, the other pressed to her cheek, and nodded. "You do. More than I deserve."

 

She stretched until her lips met his, the kiss slow and soft and sweet, then she laid back down, settling against his chest. Soon her breathing and the gentle strokes of her hand over his side lulled him into a light slumber. But not before he heard her whisper, "You deserve much more than you believe, Jon Snow."


Chapter Text

 



I was a heavy heart to carry

My beloved was weighed down

My arms around his neck

My fingers laced to crown

I was a heavy heart to carry

My feet dragged across the ground

And he took me to the river

Where he slowly let me drown

My love has concrete feet

My love's an iron ball

Wrapped around your ankles

Over the waterfall

I'm so heavy, heavy

Heavy in your arms

I'm so heavy, heavy

Heavy in your arms

And is it worth the wait

All this killing time?

Are you strong enough to stand

Protecting both your heart and mine?

Who is the betrayer?

Who's the killer in the crowd?

The one who creeps in corridors

And doesn't make a sound

My love has concrete feet

My love's an iron ball

Wrapped around your ankles

Over the waterfall

My love has concrete feet

My love's an iron ball

Wrapped around your ankles

Over the waterfall

I'm so heavy, heavy

Heavy in your arms

I'm so heavy, heavy

So heavy in your arms

This will be my last confession

"I love you" never felt like any blessing

Oh whispering like it's a secret

Only to condemn the one who hears it

With a heavy heart

Heavy, heavy, I'm so heavy in your arms

 

Heavy in your arms

Florence + the Machine



They'd just returned from another flight, the fourth in as many days. Daenerys wanted to see the Northern kingdom for herself, Jon as well, even though it had always been his home, he'd not traveled as he'd longed to as a boy. 

 

They'd flown North and West to see the little Lady Mormont’s Bear Island and Deepwood Motte. South to Torrhen's Square and Moat Cailin. East to Hornwood, the Dreadfort, and Karhold. Many had seen them flying through the steel grey skies, and all the better Jon thought. He hoped with the sight of three enormous dragons the stubborn lords would quickly realize resistance was foolish and Daenerys would win the North as she hoped and deserved.

 

The flights had been an escape from all that troubled them as well, and if things weren't as they were, Jon thought he'd be hard pressed not to take Rhaegal into the skies and never return. He wondered how Daenerys had fought the temptation all this time. She was stronger than him in so many ways.

 

They gave the dragons a good pat, watching them settle down for a rest before leaving them to it, the idea of unwinding from their adventurous morning within the seclusion of her Dothraki tent appealing to them both. But it was not to be. They quickly caught sight of Davos and Tyrion, waiting not far off, Daenerys’ Unsullied guards flanking them. They'd left them to oversee the trenches they'd decided needed to be dug in defense of Winterfell. The first of two was nearly done.

 

Jon held his arm out to her, exchanging a concerned look as she slipped her hand over his forearm. "Both of them waiting?" he mused. "Do you think we're in trouble, or could they possibly have good news for us?"

 

She chuckled and threw him a brilliant smile before looking toward the pair they sought counsel from. "Well, they don't appear to be scowling, so perhaps it isn't bad news at least."

 

"One can hope."

 

They reached them a moment later, Tyrion giving an indulgent grin. "Have a nice flight? Give the small folk some scares?"

 

Daenerys rolled her eyes and let him go, folding her hands together in front of her. "The Dreadfort seems to be dreadfully empty these days," she said, a near pout on her pretty face.

 

He and Davos shared a chuckle while Tyrion cut her a side eye. "You're getting better."

 

She gave him a small smile. "What can we do for you? Has something happened?"

 

Tyrion shook his head. "No, but I thought it best if we could have a word before things get busy. Olenna should be here by morning."

 

"Very well," she agreed with a nod, then turned to him. 

 

"We'll go make sure things are in order on our end," he told her and regrettably left her side.

 

“Sorry to interrupt,” Davos said with a smirk after they had walked out of earshot.

 

Jon cut his eyes at him, not believing him one bit. "I don't think you are."

 

That got a rough laugh from his old friend. They walked a bit further before Davos looked over at him. "Have I ever told you how I learned to read?" he asked. 

 

Once again Jon gave him a look, half wondering if he and Tyrion had been in their cups before coming to find them. His blue eyes were clear and bright though, so Jon knew something else was going on. "No, can't say that you have."

 

Davos pursed his lips and took a deep swallow, clasping his hands behind his back. Jon slowed his steps, it wouldn't be a cheery conversation. "Shireen taught me," he said. "Down in the dungeons of Dragonstone. She brought me a book on Aegon the Conqueror. His name was the first word I learned."

 

His sad tone had apologies spilling from Jon. "I'm sorry, Davos. What happened to her… I don't think I ever said—"

 

"Not your fault, lad," he said with a weary sigh. "She was too good for this world anyway."

 

That brought him to a halt, not that he disagreed. He was certain she had been. But he couldn't help but wonder...

 

Davos stopped and turned to face him, eyes digging deep. "You want to know why I didn't let you go. Fear I think you didn't deserve the peace she has?”

 

Jon shook his head, his scars all giving a painful twinge. He clenched his fists to keep from rubbing at them. "I don't know that I would call that peace. I hope for her sake she went somewhere else," he said, the focus fleeing his vision, that black nothing creeping up around him.

 

A firm hand came to rest on his shoulder, giving it a bit of a shake. Davos stared down at him. "I never wondered if I'd done the right thing asking her to bring you back, still don't. It wasn't your time. We need you." His gaze turned, and Jon followed it to where it landed on Daenerys. His heart gave a solid thump at the sight of her. "Aren't you glad I did?" Davos asked.

 

Jon looked up at him, into kind knowing eyes, and smiled softly. "Aye, I'm glad," he admitted and took off for the keep again. "Funny though, thinking I was brought back just to warm a queen's bed. Not that I'm complaining."

 

Davos fell in step beside him, giving another chuckle. "No," he said, his Flea Bottom accent drawing out the small word, "I think you're destined to be much more than lover of a queen."

 

He scoffed. "I'm a bastard, Davos, resurrected or not. Never known them to be destined for much of anything."

 

"Aye, well… that gets me back to my reading lesson. And the conversation I had with Tyrion this morning. Did you know only those of Valyrian descent could ride dragons?"

 

"Suppose so," he answered without thought. 

 

"Yet you haven't questioned why you can ride that dragon?" His footing faltered a bit and Davos laughed outright. "Gods, lad, you haven't, have you?"

 

He'd stopped again and stared dumbly at Davos' smiling face. "He lets me because she wants me to."

 

A bushy eyebrow rose. "You sure about that?"

 

He looked down at his mud covered boots, scowling. Was he? Rhaegal was her son, she talked to him, and his brothers, controlled them of sorts. He'd never asked, just assumed she'd encourage the dragon to take to him. They weren't as easy to get on with as horses, more like direwolves in a way, full of magic and loyal to their humans. He'd often led Ghost to either accept or threaten people. It had to be the same, surely. 

 

"Perhaps you should ask the queen about it?" Davos suggested, breaking him from his thoughts.

 

"Aye, I will," he declared quietly.

 

“Good," his friend said with a nod and took toward the keep again. Jon followed, mind still swirling with questions. "We had an arrival while you were gone. The leader of the party would like a private meeting with you,” Davos went on.

 

His brow furrowed, his curiosity piqued in a new direction. “Who?”

 

“Ned Umber."

 

Jon stopped and scanned all the men camped outside of Winterfell. There were a few Umber sigils mixed in with the others. “Where is he?”

 

“When I saw you both flying in I instructed him to be led to your solar.”

 

My father’s solar . He gave a nod and they continued on. “Did you inform Sansa?”

 

“No. He asked for you.”

 

Once inside they went straight into the solar. Two large men stood near the hearth, both in armor, and Jon wondered which one was Ned. But as both men looked up, he followed their gaze and realized there was someone seated at the table. He stood, surprising him. He was only a little boy, younger than Rickon. 

 

A child . Jon stepped forward and gave a nod to both men then turned his eyes back to the boy. “Lord Umber?”

 

Ned gave a nod. He looked a bit afraid, but held his head high. “Thank you for meeting with me, my Lord,” he said, voice shaking the slightest bit.

 

Jon looked to Davos and nodded for him to close the door, then gestured to the table. Ned and his men all sat with him. He waited for the little lord to speak, and though he was small, his voice was strong. “Thank you for inviting us to this summit. I know with what happened during the Battle of Winterfell it would have been easier to cast us aside.”

 

Jon gave a small nod. “I don’t believe in holding people responsible for the choices of their parents. I'd be a hypocrite if I did. You no more chose to follow Ramsay than I did.”

 

“No. My father… I don’t know why he chose what he did. My advisors have told me what Ramsay was doing and the only thing I can gather is my father was afraid of that being reaped on us, eventually.” He shook his head. “I’m sorry about all of it. Your brother, too. I knew Lord Rickon.”

 

Jon felt a lump in his throat as he thought of the terrified boy running to him across the field. He'd almost had him. He gave a cough and shifted in his seat. “I have yet to meet anyone that knew him. Was he kind?” Jon only remembered a sweet mischievous boy, but there was no telling what life on the run had done to him.

 

Ned nodded. “He was, my Lord. He would run around and play with us. Him and Shaggydog,” he said as he looked down at his hands. “And one day he was gone and no one wanted to tell me why. Then we heard about the battle and… my father giving Rickon to Ramsay...” his head bowed deeply, “He was my friend,” he whispered.

 

Jon frowned and sat forward, drawing the boy's eyes up to his. “It’s not your fault,” he told him, seeing the guilt weighing down his little shoulders. 

 

“I wanted to meet with you, first," he said quietly, "to tell you I was sorry.”

 

Jon gave a small smile and shook his head, swallowing hard. “You have nothing to be sorry for.”

 

The boy looked down at his lap, then back at Jon. “I need to know if you're going to cast me and my people out. It’s just me. My mother died two years ago, but my advisors are like my family—”

 

He held up a hand. “I will not. As I said, you are not responsible for your father’s crimes. I won’t punish you or anyone under your care.”

 

Ned visibly sagged at that. His men did as well. “Thank you, my Lord. We had heard Lady Sansa has asked for—"

 

He cut him off again with a shake of his head, feeling his blood begin to heat. Damn his sister and her misplaced notions . “We’re not in control of the North, and we haven’t bent the knee to the Queen. Right now, Sansa and I are controlling Winterfell together. But I promise you, Lord Umber, I will make sure that you will not be cast out," he swore to him.

 

Ned gave another nod, more confident again. Jon felt a bit of weight lift off him. “I will swear fealty to House Stark. Renew our alliance.”

 

"Thank you, my Lord. We can wait for the summit. So all the houses can see it and understand a good man is in charge of Last Hearth," he told him. The boy had more on him than any child deserved, Jon would help him all he could.

 

A bright smile shone on the boy's face, but he quickly schooled it to one much more sedate. “Thank you. If it pleases you, my Lord, I will go to my room to rest.”

 

"Of course, rest well. Please let one of us know if you need anything," he said, standing and seeing them out. The moment they left, he looked over at Davos. “Where is she?”

 

“In her solar.”

 

Jon stalked down the hall, Davos following. He didn’t bother to knock as he entered the room, finding her seated behind her desk, quill in hand. He took a seat in front of her. 

 

“Please sit down, Jon,” she said without looking up. He leaned back in the chair, looking around until she finally put her quill down. “What is it you want?”

 

“Ned Umber has arrived.”

 

She didn’t react and he waited for her to say something. Anything. She finally huffed out a breath. “And?”

 

“He’s a boy. Younger than Rickon. He’s the Lord of his Keep.”

 

She shook her head and shrugged. “I know there’s a point to this.”

 

He sat forward, eyes narrowed. “There is. Ned Umber has promised to swear fealty to House Stark at the summit. Alys Karstark has agreed to come as well, I'm certain she'll do the same. I want to make sure you and I are in agreement about this before we meet with them.”

 

“That loyalty isn’t rewarded, nor is treason punished?” she asked, eyebrows raised in derision.

 

It took all he had not to growl at her. “No, that children don’t pay for the crimes of their parents. If they did, I’d hold a great deal against you that you hadn’t earned,” he said flatly. 

 

She rolled her eyes. “Fine," she sighed. "We won’t throw them out of their castles. Anything else?”

 

It struck him as odd that she'd gave in so easily, but he was already too tired of her games for one day. “Is everything in order for Lady Olenna’s arrival?”

 

She nodded. “I’ve been seeing to the arrangements myself.”

 

“Anything you want to tell me?” He thought he'd throw the question out, see if she reacted. 

 

She didn't, her face remaining perfectly placid, eyes cold as ice. “No. Anything you want to tell me?”

 

He shook his head. “You know you don’t have a guard outside your door?”

 

“Brienne is training with Podrick in the yard.”

 

He finally sat back in his seat, scrubbed at the tension building between his eyes. “You should allow the Unsullied to guard you while Brienne is busy.”

 

“So your Queen can spy on me?” she snipped.

 

He put his hand down and stared at her for a long moment. “Are you doing things that should cause her need to?”

 

She huffed and went to shuffling the parchments on her desk. “I’m surprised you haven’t given over Winterfell, yet.”

 

“Isn’t that what she earned?”

 

“I don’t know. It seems she’s rather happy with you as her consolation prize.”

 

She was doing her damnedest to rile him up. He wouldn't take the bait. “I know I am,” he said with a shrug, just to irritate her. “But if she asked it, wouldn’t I be honor bound to bend the knee? Actually, I believe you would since you’re the one who asked for her help.”

 

“A mistake," she declared, still looking anywhere but at him. "The enemy you know is better than the one you don’t.”

 

He sat forward in his seat again, this time an arm leaning on her desk, a finger pointing. “And that’s your problem. You see her as the enemy.”

 

Those cold eyes met his. “She’s not our ally.”

 

Jon shook his head. “You’re not grasping this, Sansa, and I don't understand why. She saved us and she didn’t have to. That makes her our ally at the very least.”

 

She sat back and folded her hands into her lap. “Would you feel that way if she were a man?”

 

He drew up, scowling at her. “Yes, I would," he answered sharply. "Perhaps you should've had Lord Baelish here before her. Who knows what he would've requested for coming to our aid?" He raised his eyebrows and tilted his head. "Perhaps you’d be married again.”

 

That got the first real response from her since he'd walked in. Eyes burning and nostrils flared, he should've died where he sat her look was so lethal. “I will never marry anyone because someone else said so ever again.”

 

He stood and braced his hands on her desk, not intending to threaten her though. He gathered all the care he had left for her, falling back on the promise he had made, and tried one more time. "Who said I would let that happen? I haven't forgotten what you went through. Do you really think I'd be a party to forcing you into another marriage?" he asked, softly.

 

He wouldn't, no matter how much love was lost between them. He was a bastard, but he wasn't an evil one.

 

Her chin rose, only a fraction of the fury leaving her icy stare. "It wouldn't be up to you, would it? It'd be up to her."

 

He dropped his head and let out a heavy exhale. "She knows Sansa." She had no response so he stood up and looked upon her wearily. "The same happened to her. If you think she'd do that to you, or any woman after suffering it herself…" Her cheeks had gone a bit flushed and she'd turned away, staring at the floor. He could only scowl at her. “Remember that the next time you decide to complain about her,” he said as he turned and left the room.. 

 

Davos was still waiting in the hall and he followed him outside. “I need someone to spar with,” he told him.

 

“Lady Brienne is in the other yard.”

 

“Good. I need a challenge.”

 

---



They walked slowly toward the long line of men digging the first trench, small mountains of soggy black earth laying behind it. She and Jon were fairly certain they wouldn't stop the dead, but they would slow them down. Give them a fighting chance. They'd be filled with spikes and pitch, set on fire. If they managed to make it through the first, another would greet them before they had a chance to reach the castle walls.

 

"It seems everything is going well with the trenches?" she observed, coming to a stop to save Tyrion's legs from too much pain later that evening. They always hurt him most at the end of the day, one of the many reasons he drank so much and she allowed it.

 

"It is. They should finish the first by tomorrow afternoon and start the next. I imagine it will be done within the week," he said. "Might help to have your sons warm this frozen ground up a bit."

 

"Whatever is needed."

 

"It's especially hard in the mornings. Perhaps you and Lord Snow are done touring the country now?"

 

She stared down at him, an eyebrow raised. "You know why we've gone."

 

He nodded. "I do." He sniffed and looked around a bit and she knew she probably wouldn't enjoy whatever it was he was contemplating. "Our Lord Snow has become quite the dragon rider," he finally noted, surprising her somewhat.

 

She couldn't contain the smile that tugged at her lips. Jon indeed had become very skilled over the last few days. The joy it brought her to share the skies with him, to see the joy it brought him, feel Rhaegal's… She didn't have words for it. The loneliness that had always joined the delight she experienced flying… it hadn't plagued her once since Jon climbed upon Rhaegal's back for the first time.

 

Ghost choose that moment to appear at her side. She gave the great beautiful beast a few scratches behind the ears, avoiding Tyrion's curious gaze while she did so. She didn't want to give him any ammunition against her. "He has taken to it very well, and Rhaegal is happier than I've ever felt him."

 

"I see." There was a long beat of silence, the weight of his stare on her all the while. Finally, he cleared his throat. "Could I ask, your Grace… What gave you the idea to even try it? You have never considered letting anyone else close to you attempt it that I'm aware of."

 

"Are you jealous, my Lord Hand?" she asked, smirking down at him. She knew his love for her sons. How he'd dreamt of having one as a boy.

 

He scoffed and rolled his eyes. She continued to stare until he finally shrugged his shoulders. "Alright, maybe a little," he admitted. "I always wanted a dragon," he muttered as she softly laughed at him. He shook his head of messy hair and looked up at her. "Still, the question stands."

 

Why had she? Now that it had been asked of her she realized she hadn't given it much thought, the idea had just felt right at the time. And had certainly been proved so several times since. 

 

"I simply felt it, I suppose. Maybe Rhaegal sent his curiosity or desire for it to me," she offered, not truly caring about the why . She was too pleased with the result.

 

"That he was able to, and has taken to it so well… That hasn't given you pause?"

 

"Pause?" she questioned, scowling as she worked to understand where he was leading her. "What are you getting at? Do you fear Jon taking my sons from me? I assure you that will not happen."

 

Shock had fallen over him, his eyes wide and mouth open. He shook himself free from it. "Well, no, I hadn't thought of that actually, but now that you mention it," he said, his worry still evident.

 

She turned to him. "Tyrion, it's not something you need to be concerned about. My bond with all my sons is still strong." 

 

"That's good to know," he said, blowing out a relieved breath. "And I am pleased you won't be up there alone all the time now, if you both decide he is of more use up there instead of on the ground. I was merely curious as to why he can ride."

 

"Jon Snow is a man of many talents," she quipped, unable to resist. 

 

It's a wonder Tyrion's eyes didn't fall from his head as she giggled at him quietly. 

 

"Have you mentioned the other alliance to him we spoke of?" he asked, once her mirth was restrained again.

 

"I have not, but I will, soon."

 

"How soon?"

 

She turned to him, perplexed. "You didn't seem to like the idea before, now you're rushing me?"

 

"I wouldn't call it rushing," he said with a frown and a shake of his head, "just curiosity."

 

"You're awfully curious today, my Lord Hand," she commented, and began the muddy trek toward the keep.

 

"What can I say, Your Grace. It's dreary up here in the North. You must allow me my flights of fancy, since you are enjoying some of your own."

 

She chuffed and kept walking.

 

---

 

She watched as he crossed swords with Brienne, their roars filling the crowded courtyard. Both of them were excellent. Jon was quick, dancing around her, whereas Brienne had him beat in power. But every swing appeared to be a crevasse match, each one trying to outmaneuver the other. When their final parry came to a draw she walked slowly toward the tower where her room was located, giving him enough time to lock eyes with her. 

 

And when they did, she gave a small smile and a slight nod before leaving the bridge and disappearing through the passageway, Ghost a silent white shadow behind her. They’d worked out a system several days before. If she nodded once he was to meet her in her room and if she stopped and turned to face him, they would meet in his. It was proving to be an extremely erotic exercise to see how long they could keep people in the dark. She was certain that many probably already knew, but she couldn’t find it within her to actually care. She was a queen. If people didn’t like it, she’d have no problem telling them what they could do with their opinions. 

 

She entered her room and Missandei joined her only a few moments later. They shared the news of their days as she helped her dress for the evening, removing the heavy layers of her clothes, replacing them with her red satin robe, and adding a few more braids to her hair before bidding her good evening with a smile. 

 

A knock sounded on the door not long after and Daenerys opened it, holding it open for him as she usually did, allowing him the choice to come to her every time. He closed the door behind him and slid an arm around her waist as his lips found hers in an easy kiss. She cupped his cold cheeks in her hands, keeping him from making the kiss too deep. “Wait, I have something for you,” she said as she led the way into her bedroom, smiling back at his confused pout. 

 

On the foot of her bed, wrapped in a linen sheet lay the gift she’d had made for him. A black gambeson that would fit. Not the ugly brown one she wanted to burn, nor the black he’d taken to wearing that was too big. This one was made just for him. Davos had helped her with his sizes, eyes twinkling all the while. 

 

She stood beside the bed and waved towards it. "Go on, open it," she encouraged, excitement bubbling within her. Giving gifts was almost more fun than receiving.

 

Jon gave her a humble smile. "You didn't have to get me anything."

 

"I wanted to. Now quit stalling and open it. I want to know if you like it."

 

He reached out and grabbed her hand, towing her across the space between them and up against his chest. He kissed her, warm and sweet. "I'll like it, whatever it is," he told her, his voice gone raspy. "You gave it to me."

 

"Jon," she whispered, stroking his cheek. "Open your present, please."

 

He let her go with a smirk. "As the queen commands," he said, and pulled the cloth apart to reveal the piece of armor. Lined with fur for warmth, and a padded gambeson to match, she hoped he liked it, and didn't mind all the black. She'd even had direwolves etched onto the straps. He stared at it for a minute, then looked up at her with awe. “Dany, this is… Why'd you do this for me?”

 

Because I want everyone to know you're mine. 

 

She smiled, and let different, but just as true words be spoken. “The one you’re currently wearing is too big for you, you can’t wear the blue all the time, and your brown one I want to let Drogon set on fire,” she said with a smirk. 

 

He ran a hand over it–the etchings, the silver fastenings and stitches, the fur–then gave her with a beautiful smile. “I love it."

 

"You don't mind all the black?"

 

He shook his head, something sad, but sweet flashing in his dark eyes. "It was always my color."

 

She had to clasp her fingers tight together to keep from clapping her hands in delight. “Good, I'm glad,” she said with a queenly nod as she sat on the edge of the bed. “Now, take off the one you’re wearing.”

 

He tilted his head, his grin devilish. “I could use your help.”

 

She stood and smoothed her hands over his chest and up to the first strap, heated eyes watching her every move. As she got it unbuckled, he had the sash of her robe untied, a rough palm sliding around her waist. Her eyes met his. “You’re supposed to be helping me.”

 

He nodded. “I am, Your Grace. I'm relieving you of the burden of your robe.”

 

She rose up on her toes and brought his lips to hers. “So clever, Jon Snow.”

 

---

 

The lords and ladies of the North had begun arriving in droves. Jon had met with several of them already, most of them congratulating him on their success against the Boltons. He was always sure to tell them the thanks was owed to Queen Daenerys and her armies and dragons. Several of them gave him wary looks while others seemed interested to learn more about the Dragon Queen. 

 

But the arrival of the lords paled in comparison to the notice that Olenna Tyrell’s liter had been spotted. There was a flurry of activity with Daenerys and her people rushing into the hall. Jon had spied the procession coming with the Queen of Thorns just after and was happy to note that there was a train of wagons behind her. 

 

He walked into the hall the same time Sansa went in. “Everything being handled for the feast tonight?”

 

“They’ve been cooking since the scout arrived,” she confirmed. “Her room has also been cleaned twice and once while I oversaw it.”

 

“You’re going through a lot of trouble,” he remarked as he took his seat at the table. 

 

“Olenna was always kind to me while I was in the capital. She deserves our respect.”

 

"You don't have to worry about me disrespecting her," he told her before turning to Daenerys. “Are you ready for this?”

 

She smiled over at him. “Born ready,” she said as she straightened in her chair. He stared, drinking in his fill as she smoothed her coat across her lap but avoided looking at him. “You’re staring, Jon Snow,” she murmured as Ghost wedged himself between their chairs and laid down on the floor with a thump. 

 

“You make it difficult not to, Your Grace.”

 

The others all filed into the hall, Davos being left to welcome and escort Olenna in. The crackle of the fire behind them and shuffling feet were the only sounds filling the room, the tension growing thick. Even Ghost sat up and went on alert.

 

The doors swung open and she was announced to the room. "Lady Olenna Tyrell." The woman that entered on the arm of Ser Davos looked nothing like he imagined the formidable lady everyone seemed afraid of would. She appeared to exceed Old Nan in age, using a cane to assist her slow steps. She was dressed in black, fur around her neck and shoulders, a headwrap as well. Davos led her to the front of the table and gave her a nod before taking his place to Jon's right, standing behind him. 

 

Missandei stepped forward. “You stand in the presence of Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen. Rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Mother of Dragons. Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea. The Unburnt. The Breaker of Chains.”

 

When Missandei finished with the titles Olenna's mouth quirked up. “Quite a list, Your Grace.”

 

“You have quite a title of your own, my Lady," Daenerys returned, "Queen of Thorns.”

 

“Well earned,” Tyrion said with a nod.

 

“As are yours,” Olenna said with a slight turn of her head. 

 

Daenerys waved a delicate hand towards him. “Allow me to introduce you to our hosts. Lord Jon Snow and Lady Sansa Stark, whom I believe you know.”

 

Olenna's eyes passed over him quickly, landing on his sister. “I do. Lovely to see you again, my dear.”

 

Sansa gave a demure smile and nod. “My Lady.”

 

He felt frozen in place as the old woman turned her gaze upon him. “Did you say Lord Snow?” she asked, the question obviously not meant for him to answer.

 

“I did," Daenerys replied.

 

Her head tilted, her old eyes studying him hard. “That’s a rather recent development, isn’t it?”

 

“As is my arrival in Westeros," Daenerys was quick to return. "I choose to call him Lord Snow as I choose to call Lady Ellaria a Lady. As Queen, my opinion matters. Anyone who questions my decision in that regard would find themselves in a difficult position of being at odds with me.”

 

Jon shifted in his seat at the bolt of lust that ran through him. The Dragon Queen was in full command.

 

Olenna gave a nod. “Very good. You’ll have the love of the common people that way. Though the lords and ladies might take issue.”

 

“Lords and ladies have a tenuous grasp on the things they hold dear in this country. It would be a shame for them to make an enemy of me.”

 

“Indeed. As long as we agree that Cersei dies, I don’t think we’ll have a problem.”

 

Daenerys gave her a nod. “You shall have your blood, my Lady. We will be having a feast in honor of your arrival tonight, but we will meet tomorrow to discuss our plans for the war. To allow you plenty of time to rest from your travels."

 

“As you wish, Your Grace," Olenna replied, managing a soft bow. "Lady Sansa, would you be kind enough to walk me to my room?”

 

“Of course,” his sister said as she stood. Arm in arm she escorted Olenna out of the room and everyone else dispersed once Daenerys stood. 

 

When all but their counsel was left, she looked at him, her mouth and brow turned down into a frown. He didn’t like it. Her face should always have a smile on it. It lit up a room. Gave his world some much needed light.

 

“I think that went well,” Tyrion said softly.

 

She turned on him. “I don’t. She asked to see the one person in the castle that I feel is firmly against me.”

 

Jon wanted to take her hand and reassure her that Sansa had nothing to offer Olenna. Neither of them could firmly claim the North, even if the people seemed to be looking to him more than Sansa. He leaned back against the table and crossed his arms over his chest to keep from touching her. “You’re the reason she came North. She’s your ally. Sansa has nothing to offer her.”

 

She held her head higher. “No, you’re right. You have something to offer, though," she said smoothly.

 

He felt his cheeks burn under her gaze and he hid the smile. “Whatever do you mean, Your Grace?”

 

She hid her smile as well. “I suppose I’ll have to elaborate later,” she said with a lick of her lips before she turned and left the room. Ghost followed her out.

 

---

 

Later came with the passing of the next hour. They'd once again slipped off to the relative seclusion of her tent among the Dothraki at his suggestion. She was too tense and he meant to remedy it.

 

“Are you just going to stare at me, Jon Snow, or are you going to help me undress?”

 

He'd been watching her strip, piece by piece, enjoying the view, but stepped forward then and helped her remove her heavy chainmail. “I’m going to give you what you want,” he whispered.

 

“You’re very good at that,” she said as she turned in his arms and started for the stack of furs. 

 

He stopped her, his hands moving over the soft swell of her hips and belly, then up to her breasts as his lips slid down her neck. Her head fell to the side, resting on his shoulder, a sweet moan of pleasure filling his ears just as he knew it would. She always melted for him with just one kiss to the sensitive spot beneath her ear. He worried it with teeth and lips and tongue as his fingers worked to undo the ties at the front of her shift. Just as he slipped his hand inside she pulled away from him. He scowled until she began plucking at his leather gloves. "I want to feel you, not these," she murmured, dropping them to the ground once she'd peeled them off and he immediately covered her breast with his bare hands. A gasp escaped her as he pinched a nipple, then the other, before tugging her shift off to bare her gorgeous body to his greedy eyes. She didn't let him gaze long before she began removing his clothes. He was more than eager to help.

 

Once he was as exposed as her, she dropped to her knees on the edge of the furs and took his cock between her hands, fingers trailing slowly, root to tip, teasing and taunting, smiling softly as it jumped and strained at her torment. He narrowed his eyes at her, but it only urged her on. Suddenly fisted in her warm little hand, her mouth descended on him and his fingers slid into her hair, head thrown back as he hissed at the feel her soft lips moving over his flesh. He was supposed to be pleasing her, but she'd turned the tables on him as she so often did.

 

He licked his lips and exhaled a ragged breath as she took the head into her hot mouth. He realized he was so fucked, watching her perfect mouth move over his heated skin, lips pink and plump, stretched around him, sliding and sucking, tongue wet velvet circling. If he let her continue for too long he would spill his seed before he was nestled between her soft thighs and wrapped inside her delicious heat. He gripped her hair and tugged her off, then dropped down to press his lips to hers, swallowing her whimper of protest. 

 

He propped a knee between her spread legs and she moved back to give him more room. He took it, crawling on top of her and she clutched at his back, bringing his lips to hers again, devouring his mouth with her own in a heated kiss, desperate, but soft at once, something different driving her than their usual frenzied lust. Whatever it was, it slipped from her lips to his and filled his chest nearly to the point of pain.

 

His hands grasped at her, her arms wrapping around his neck as he rubbed his cock against her wet folds, both of them shuddering at the contact. She sighed into his mouth, the soft sound turning to a moan as he slid inside of her in one long push, burying himself to the hilt. Her legs went around his hips, wrapping around him fully, as if she were afraid he'd leave her. Even as he leaned back a bit, she clung to him, rocking herself on his cock, lips never leaving his skin. He sat back, taking her with him, palms spread across her back. Finally, she eased her grip, hands going to his shoulders, feet pressed into the furs. She began to ride him, long slow drags up and down, building and building until she was bouncing over him, her head thrown back as he held her hips in his hands, helping her keep a steady pace. 

 

“Fuck, Dany,” he breathed as he watched her body move, her breasts swaying with each bounce, her thighs tightening around his waist with each thrust, his cock disappearing inside her over and over again. Gods , he was fucking gone. He knew it. She owned him. He was hers. Till his dying breath.

 

She tugged on his hair, ripping the leather tie free and burying her fingers deep, grasping as she brought his lips to hers again. She stilled as she kissed him, though her walls fluttered and tightened around his aching cock. He broke away with a groan. The coil winding too tight, too quickly. Laying her back on the furs, he pulled her hands free from around his neck and sat back, sliding his own beneath her legs and to her hips, taking them in a tight grip. Lifting her up, bowing her body into an arch, he began thrusting into her. 

 

She propped a foot against his shoulder, one hand sliding down her taut stomach, fingers delving into her slick and swollen folds to find her little bud and rubbing it, the other at her breast, pinching and pulling at a nipple. The sight sent the wolf within him into a frenzy and he pulled her against him hard, took her faster, and soon she fell over the edge with a scream, her walls clenching around him, squeezing and clasping. He rode out the wave with her, following her into the abyss with a feral growl, thrusting a few more times as her cunt milked him dry. He collapsed on top of her in a sweaty heap and she hummed, fingers stroking through his hair and he knew if he didn’t move he’d fall asleep on top of her. 

 

He finally lifted his head, staring down at her, she had such a beautiful smile on her face he nearly stopped breathing. His fingers brushed her temple, his mind still trying to grasp that this was his life now, that it was all real, that she was. She shivered beneath him and he pulled back and off of her, grabbing his heavy cloak and wrapping it around her shoulders. The fur around the neck nearly swallowed her and he couldn’t help but smile at the picture she presented.

 

“Now I know why you wear this so often. It’s so warm,” she said as she lay on her side and he sat beside her again. 

 

“It’s like the one my father had. Sansa made it for me,” he said, remembering before they left Castle Black and how she’d given it to him that day. It was the nicest thing she'd ever done for him, before or since, and now he couldn't help but wonder if it had all been to assuage her guilt, and not for him at all.

 

Dany reached out and took his hand in hers. Giving her a quick smile, he laid down beside her and she scooted closer to him and covered him with his cloak as well. He wrapped her in his arms, soaking in her warmth and softness, not wanting to think of his sister or her hurtful actions. 

 

“You know that Viserys sold me to Drogo, but he did it knowing I didn’t want to marry him," she said as she leaned up on her elbow and stared at his chest. 

 

He brushed her hair over her shoulder, watching her close, not expecting such a conversation. Though they always seemed to speak of their pasts afterwards, their spent bodies entwined apparently giving an outlet for the hurts they'd endured to spill out.

 

“I was afraid. I missed the brother that had been kind to me. That… didn’t touch me," she whispered. "I thought if I told him and he could hear how much I meant it he wouldn’t make me do it. That we could figure out another way.” Jon took her hand and squeezed her fingers gently. He didn't know what had brought it up for her, but he would let her unburden herself, be there for her if he could. “But he told me he’d let his whole tribe and their horses fuck me to get his army,” she said softly and Jon felt his blood racing hot through his veins, wanting to drag the man from whatever grave he laid in and cut him down again. “I was a young girl. I’d never been with a man. And the Dothraki aren’t gentle.” 

 

He looked around at the tent, trying to gather himself. She didn't need his anger, he couldn't go back and save her from what she'd endured anyway. “How did your brother die?” he asked after a few moments, at least needing to know that. He hoped it was a horrible death.

 

“We were at Vaes Dothrak, their central home. Jorah was with me, told me later of a confrontation he’d had with Viserys where he was trying to steal the eggs. But Viserys was drunk and furious with me because I had stood up to him earlier," she told him with a shake of her head, anger laced in her tone. “You’re not supposed to have a weapon in their sacred city, but Viserys drew his sword on Jorah and then turned it on me.” She sat up and brought her knees to her chest. He made sure his cloak covered her from the chilly air and rubbed slow circles over her back. “He said Drogo got me but didn’t pay for me, and he was going to take me back if he didn’t get what was promised him. He even threatened to cut my unborn child from my belly and leave it for Drogo," she whispered. “I realized then I couldn’t save him. Not if that’s what he was willing to do.” 

 

She looked down and a soft tears spilled off her lashes and onto her cheek. He sat up beside her and brushed them away with the back of his fingers. "You don't have to tell me more. I shouldn't have asked."

 

"No, I need to finish," she told him. He pressed his lips together and gave her a nod, wrapping his arm around her and pulling her close. He heard her swallow thickly as she laid her head against his chest. “Drogo told him he would have his golden crown. I realized then they were going to kill him. But he smiled at me like he used to, actually happy, the madness disappearing for a moment. He was my brother again. Then they grabbed him and… Drogo poured molten gold over his head.” She wiped at her eyes, her breathing ragged. He placed a kiss on top of her head, cradling it in his palm. “I couldn’t react. Still in shock at how much he'd changed. He was going to kill me, my child. All he cared about was his crown and throne. It’s easier for me to cope with when I remember more of the bad than good, and toward the end, there was only bad.”

 

“I’m sorry you had to endure any of it,” he whispered.

 

She shrugged, and turned in his arms, her own going around his waist. “I learned when touring Essos there are far more people out there that have it worse than I did, but everyone’s suffering is their own version of hell.” She looked up at him with wet eyes and pink cheeks. “People suffer. I want to erase it, make it so they don't have to anymore, but I don’t think I can do it completely.”

 

He gently brushed her hair back from her face, he'd mussed her braids. Missandei would need to fix them again before the feast. “Maybe not completely. But I believe you can make the world a better place,” he told her. And he did believe that, more than he thought he'd ever believed anything. But being there in her arms, her in his, knowing all that faced them, he couldn't help but worry about his place within the new world she wanted to make, how the others already saw him. He was tired of the uncertainty, wanted it decided, so he could focus on what needed to be done for all of them. “I know you want it to wait until the lords all arrive, suss out their feelings, but I think it's time. Yara hasn't given me any looks, but the Dornish, Royce and Baelish… Lady Tyrell is already voicing it. I should bend the knee, whether Sansa wants it or not. I'm tired of people questioning you."

 

"And perhaps of them questioning you as well?"

 

"Aye, that too, but my reputation is shite anyway, yours doesn't have to be. Ask me to, at the feast tonight, or the meeting tomorrow."

 

"No," she said firmly, with a shake of her head, "though I know I probably should.”

 

That sat him back. He let her go, staring at her, brow furrowed. “Then why not?”

 

She sighed, though her soft hands ran soothing strokes over his skin. “A few reasons, one being I believe it would erase any ability for you to be able to right your relationship with Sansa. I don't want what happened to Viserys and I to happen to you."

 

"Dany, I appreciate it, I do, but my relationship with her has never been good, and I doubt it ever will be. Don't put it off for that."

 

“Well… I did say there were a few reasons." Her eyes fell to where her hand had come to rest at his neck, her thumb running over the hollow of his throat. She licked her lips, and those velvet eyes looked into his, full of something that sat his stomach to twisting and dancing. "What if I might want something different from you?” she whispered.

 

He swallowed. “What’s that?”

 

She went back to watching her fingers run slowly across his skin. “Tyrion told me when I was in Essos that I needed to end things with my lover because I couldn’t bring him with me to Westeros. I would need to make alliances and sometimes…" her gaze met his again, "the best alliances are made by marriage.”

 

Jon wasn't a man of many words in the best of circumstances, but she may as well have kicked him in the head and knocked all his senses loose. Him married to a queen ? He nearly laughed, the idea beyond absurd, but the look in her blue depths had his heart plummeting into his guts. She was serious, hopeful even, and he hated what he was right then, more than he ever had. 

 

“Daenerys, I’m a bastard. You can't—"

 

“I don’t care," she cut him off with a scowl, which faded as quick as it appeared. She reached up, her fingertips stroking along his cheek. "But I know you do,” she whispered, "so we'll fix it, so you don’t have to care. I'll legitimize you.”

 

He huffed and shook his head, dropping it to hide his face behind his hair. “That’s one of the things I dreamed of from the time I was a child…" he admitted, "but…" It wouldn't change a thing, no one would see him any different. He'd still be what he'd always been. "I can’t accept it. But I want to stay with you, at your side, no matter what," he was quick to assure her. He didn't want her to think he was spurning her. "I can be something else. An advisor or—"

 

“And then what?" she cut over him again, harshly that time. Her dark scowl was back and showing no signs of fading. "I marry some other lord and you have to guard my chamber as he beds me?”

 

His jaw clenched, fists tightening, his hate of the idea visceral. “No, I won’t do that. I won’t share you, ever.”

 

“Then don’t say such foolish things,” she said with a huff. She was on her feet before he'd realized she'd moved, already pulling on her shift. He stood and grabbed her arm but she fought against his grip. He didn’t relent until she was facing him and he had her full fury turned on him. She shoved at his chest, eyes scorching. “You’re good enough to fuck me, but not marry me?”

 

“Now who's sayin' foolish things? I have nothin' to give you,” he snarled. “I don’t! Winterfell isn’t mine. The North isn't mine. You get nothin' out of this but me! A worthless bastard."

 

“Perhaps you are all I want," she hissed and grabbed his chin in a punishing grip, bright eyes narrowed and sparking, "and you are not worthless. Do not ever let me hear you say that again."

 

She shoved his face away and all the fight left him. He stepped forward and took her hips in his hands, his head lowered, the ache within his chest crushing. Her forehead came to rest against his, gentle hands at his waist. “I may not be worthless, but I'm not worthy of you,” he said softly. “No one is, but certainly not a bastard. Not one who was labeled a traitor, who's been murdered and brought back by some dark magic that I don't even know the depths of yet. You don’t know the black thoughts I have, Daenerys, the darkness that lurks beneath,” he whispered, eyes squeezed shut. He couldn’t look at her, couldn’t find out she thought less of him. 

 

“Jon,” her soft voice whispered his name, a tender hand raised his face to hers. He opened his eyes. “I will not cower from you. I will not be repulsed by you. You’re a good man, bastard or no, darkness and all. We've talked about this. I am the last dragon. You watched me burn hundreds of men alive, thousands even. On this very field where we stand. I know darkness. It does not frighten me. You do not frighten me." She brushed her fingers through his hair and leaned her head against his again. “And it was a suggestion, not an order,” she finished quietly. 

 

He pulled her against him, sealing her hot skin to his, clutching her, his lips pressed to her temple , anything to let her know what his heart wanted, even if it couldn't be. “Believe me, Dany, if I… if I had something to offer you besides a bastard’s name, I wouldn’t hesitate.”

 

“Even though I’ve told you I don’t care about your name?”

 

He nodded. “Maybe you don't, but everyone else... I can still hear her voice in my head. It’s constantly telling me that I don’t deserve this, you, or even the respect of my men. That I should've stayed dead. That I deserved the blades I got."

 

She pulled away, her face etched with a mixture of sadness and anger. “Whose voice?”

 

“Lady Catelyn Stark.”

 

She seemed to hesitate for a moment then went back on the furs, taking her with him and pulling him into her arms. “Tell me about her.”

 

He scowled. “What? Why?”

 

“To know you better. To understand why you think so little of yourself when I think the world of you.”

 

He couldn’t help the way his lips tugged at her statement. He lay back only to have his head brought to rest on her lap. Her fingers tangled in his messy tresses and he leaned into her touch the way Ghost leaned into scratches behind his ears. He looked up at her pretty face, the ties on her shift undone, showing him the sides of her breasts. How he ached to take them into his mouth even then. His cock twitched at his thoughts and she snorted. “Jon,” her voice held a warning but also amusement. 

 

He huffed out a breath and rolled to his side, facing away from her. “You really want to hear my sad tale?”

 

“I want to know you. How you came to be the man you are.”

 

He twisted his head back to look up at her. “Can’t I tell you that instead of rehashing my childhood?”

 

“I don’t think that’s possible," she answered sweetly. The backs of her fingers ran down his cheek. "Tell me, please?”

 

He ran a hand through his hair, drawing in a deep breath and letting it out in a harsh exhale. “I was the bastard of a Lord being raised beside his true born children in a castle.” He shrugged. “I had it better than most.”

 

“That doesn’t mean it was easy.”

 

“No, but it wasn’t all bad, either. I had good relationships with Robb, Arya, Bran… Rickon was still little, but he’d bring me things to read to him, sometimes, and he loved to watch us train in the yard.” He picked at the furs, remembering their life before Robert came and everything went to shit. “But Catelyn… she hated me. That was something I knew as early as I knew Robb was my brother. I knew she was not my mother and that she hated me like no one else.” He shook his head, despising how it still made him feel, the same boiling sense of shame that overtook him every time her cold blue eyes had landed on him. “If Robb and I were sparring in the yard, and she showed up to watch, I knew I couldn’t beat him or I'd pay the price. I couldn’t beat him at anything if she was around. I got sick when I was little and when I woke up she was beside my bed and for a few days, she was almost nice to me, and then... my father came to sit with me and whatever care she'd found, vanished.” 

 

"I don't believe I would've liked her very much," she muttered above him.

 

He chuffed. "No, I don't think you would have either."

 

"Did she strike you?"

 

"She never hit me. Never touched me. It was almost as if she thought if she did I would taint her. I easily understood I was unwanted and she tried her best to get her children to make me feel that way as well. Making comments about how they could've had more if I wasn’t around and such. Robb would always apologize later, not wanting to offend his mother. Sansa ignored me most of the time, but then she was always under her skirts, doing everything she did. Arya would outright defend me until she was blue in the face and would do it no matter how many times I told her not to bother. Bran and Rickon were too little to really understand,” he explained, picking at the hem of her shift. 

 

"Ned did nothing to stop her?" she asked, smoothing his hair back from his face in soothing strokes, the tender touches belying the fury in her words.

 

“He tried to protect me, I think. Raised me as he raised Robb, but she was careful not to do anything in front of him." He let out a deep sigh. "He would never tell me about my mother though. Wouldn’t even allow me to ask most of the time. The last thing he ever said to me was ‘when I see you again, we’ll talk about your mother’ .” He wiped at his eyes as he remembered hearing word of his father’s death. How he wanted to take Joffrey’s own head and serve it to his cold bitch of a mother on a spike. “My father was a good man. Honorable. And I was the one blight on his honor.”

 

She shifted and he was suddenly on his back and her sat across his chest. “You were innocent. If you won’t hold my father’s failures and madness against me, don’t hold your father’s broken honor against yourself. You were born. That was not a crime. And damn anyone who ever made you feel that way.”

 

He gripped her hips and frowned, his chest tight with aching. “I’ve had too many years to punish myself, Daenerys. It can’t disappear with words.”

 

“It could. If you let me name you Jon Stark.”

 

He shook his head. “I said that used to be what I wanted.” He met her eyes and could see the pain in them for him. He hated it.

 

"Why don't you want it anymore?" she asked softly.

 

He looked away, watching his thumbs rub up and down along her sides. “I would be doing what she always feared I would. Taking from her true born children. Bastards are born of betrayal and treachery, destined to do the same. I don’t... I don’t want to dishonor my family more than I already do."

 

She grabbed his hands and pinned them by his head, hovering above him, forcing him to see her. "Marrying a queen, a queen you seem to believe in, who wants the best for you and your people… Wants you to help her change the world for the better… I'm sorry, but I do not see how that could dishonor your family."

 

He swallowed at the thorny knot that had built in his throat. Displeasing her was akin to those hated steel blades piercing his chest. But he had to make her understand. "Other than the fact people will say it’s a bastard reaching beyond his rank and station, it wouldn't, but that name doesn't belong to me. I am not a Stark. I am who I am. Jon Snow, bastard."

 

She sighed and leaned down to press a kiss to his brow. He took her into his arms and held her tightly. “You are a bright star to your family. I’ll make you see it, someday," she whispered into his neck.

 

He kissed her then, sliding his tongue into her mouth, his arms wrapped around her as he rolled her to her back. He looked down at her, brushing his fingers over her face as he searched her eyes, looking for deceit, that this was all a game to her, to promise him something with a condition laced into it. But there was none of that. There was only honesty and... affection. His heart was hammering within his chest, his skin tingling everywhere their bodies touched. He realized he was well and truly fucked, never to recover from whatever this was and it had been less than a fortnight. He was drawn to her in ways he couldn’t understand, and knew no matter what happened he'd be tangled up in her till he left the world once more. But he also believed she just might feel the same.

 

“It means more to me than I can even put into words you feel that way,” he husked.

 

She gave him a slow smile as her hands caressed his skin. “I do feel that way, Jon. And I won't stop until you believe it too.” 

 

He wasn't sure he ever would, but he pushed it aside and hiked her shift up around her hips, slipping down between her thighs, her soft folds still wet with the mess of them. He wanted to worship her for the goddess she was, bring her nothing but pleasure and happiness, make them both forget their troubles. He’d devote his life to it, if she’d allow him. 

 

---

 

He'd left her with her Dothraki, both of them in better spirits but still subdued. She didn't understand and he wasn't sure how to help her see reason, so he sought out his old friend, hoping he would have some wisdom for him. He searched the bustling yard for Davos' grisled grey head but it was another that caught his eye.

 

Much shorter, hair hidden under a cloak hood. But that pale face and those eyes.... It couldn't be.

 

He blinked and she was gone. 

 

A ghost, just a ghost. She was long since lost to him. 

 

His heart was longing for family, that was all, but still he ran, chasing a flash of brown cloak. Through the crowd, down a passageway, and around the corner, the smallest of glimpses teasing him mercilessly. Then it vanished, she vanished, like ghosts do, and he was left panting, leaned against a stone wall, his heart aching while strange stares turned his way. 

 

He drew in a deep breath and scrubbed his hands over his face, feeling a right fool. It was only then he realized where he was, the damp, musty smell filling his nose. He looked up, a pale golden light flickering up from the bottom of the stairs, beckoning to those that passed the dark archway. Down he went without a second thought, seeking solace with the dead. 

 

Only a few days had passed since he'd last sought them out. He'd never felt right being there, but he wasn't feeling right about much anything just then. 

 

He went to his father, lit the candle at his side and blew out the tinder before standing back and looking up at him. Bloody hells, they'd ruined him. He looked nothing like the man he remembered. 

 

"I'm sorry, father," he whispered and could almost hear him respond. 

 

"What have you done to be sorry for?" Voice low and smooth, caring, yet holding an authority one would never question. 

 

"So many things." 

 

None of which he could change. It did no good to carry the weight of guilt he knew, but he couldn't seem to let any of it go. And the thought of making more mistakes…

 

He turned away and paced the dark and dusty passage, down and back again, all while Daenerys' words assailed him, the fire beneath them, gentleness as well. Words and touch and movements soft as she'd spoken. She truly wanted him. Him, a bastard, for a husband. Maybe even her King. Gods be good , but his life had taken a turn. 

 

He didn't know what to do. What he wanted… that he knew well, but could he have it? Should he dare?

 

Tormund thought him a fool for even questioning it. Davos would probably never call him such, he believed in him for whatever reason, believed he deserved more, was meant for more. Their conversation that morning came back to him as well and he was suddenly angry, glaring up at his father. 

 

Why had he never told him who she was? What would it have hurt for him to know? He still would've been a bastard, but possibly more high born than he already was. Maybe then he'd feel like he could say yes.

 

Gods, you fool. It doesn't matter. A bastard is a bastard, and they don't marry queens.

 

No matter how much they may want to.

 

Getting nowhere other than spinning in circles he fled the darkness, running up the steps and into the yard, nerves on edge, his blood pumping hot through his veins. He needed to hit something.

 

He found a few of the soldiers sparring against one another, but before he could engage any of them he noticed Podrick slowly walking up to him. 

 

"Podrick."

 

“My Lord," he greeted with a bow of his head, "I was wondering if you would mind training with me?”

 

He wasn’t against the idea, he had been looking for a fight, but he knew he was Brienne's charge and wouldn’t want to interfere with her training. “What about Lady Brienne?”

 

“She’s tending to Lady Sansa and I thought it would be good to practice against someone else every once in a while. I’ve heard the Wildlings and even some of the Northmen talk about how good you are with a sword. They say you're the greatest swordsman alive."

 

For once he let the praise wash over him, too bristled up to push it away. "I'm better than most. I’d be more than happy to run you through... your paces,” he said as he led the way into the yard. “How hard on you d'you want me to be?”

 

Podrick chuckled, though his eyes had went a bit round. “As you would train any soldier, my Lord,” he requested bravely.

 

Davos had appeared from out of the constant bustle of people that filled the castle now. He removed his cloak and sword belt, handing both over to Davos. He noticed Tormund and the Sand Snakes stood to the side of the yard, taking an interest, a wide grin on his friend's face as he pointed at him, no doubt telling them some overblown story. He blocked them out and grabbed one of the sparring swords. “You ready?” he asked Podrick.

 

The squire nodded and lunged first, but Jon easily sidestepped him and slapped him flat on the back with his sword. 



---

 

She stopped on the crosswalk and watched the scene below, Ellaria, Varys, and Ghost at her side. Jon sent Podrick to the dirt, but extended a hand to help him up and gave him instructions on how to avoid it from happening again.

 

“He’s a fine looking man,” Ellaria said softly.

 

“Indeed. A skilled warrior as well. The day I arrived I saw him nearly beat a man to death with his own hands.”

 

Ellaria sighed. “I loved watching Oberyn fight with his spear. He was light on his feet, much like this one. More a dancer than a fighter.”

 

She looked over at the woman. “I’m sorry about what happened to him. Revenge isn’t far.”

 

“I would very much like to put Cersei’s head on a spear myself. I’m not particularly fond of your Hand either. Oberyn did die fighting for him.”

 

“The way I hear it, he volunteered,” she countered. Ellaria didn’t say anything. “As much as we’d like to, we can’t keep the people we love from doing stupid things. Always out to prove who is the most heroic.” She shook her head. “We will avenge him and my good sister and children,” she told her. “I will give vengeance to you and your daughters.”

 

“And after? What will you expect from Dorne?”

 

“Trade as it has been in the past. If an enemy was to attack the crown, we would ask for your help and if someone should attack you, we would give you ours.”

 

“And you expect our fealty?”

 

She was quiet for a moment as she watched Jon spin away from another of Podrick’s attacks. Dancer indeed. “If I give you Cersei’s head on a spike, would you have a problem giving me what I ask?”

 

Ellaria gave a small smile. “No, Your Grace.”

 

She looked at her and nodded. “Then I think we are of one mind.”

 

“May I speak to you in private?” she asked, casting a look over her shoulder at Varys. Daenerys gave a nod to the Spider and he left them, only her guards and Ghost still with them. She nodded for them to step back then turned to Ellaria once more. “My daughters report there is talk around the keep that some of the Northern Lords prefer Sansa Stark to Jon Snow.”

“Yes, I’m well aware.”

 

“Why not have him bend the knee?”

 

“It’s a negotiation between Jon Snow and I.”

 

Private negotiations?” she purred in question. Daenerys didn’t meet her dark gaze, but she knew the woman had made the correct assumption. “Having him bend the knee before she’s able to spread more dissent in the North might be the most prudent thing, Your Grace.”

 

“I’ve asked him for something else,” she said and turned to her. “I trust that whatever is said between us will stay between us. Not even your daughters are to know.”

 

Ellaria nodded. “Of course, Your Grace.”

 

“It’s a marriage negotiation.”

 

Those dark eyes turned back to Jon and Daenerys bit the inside of her lip, wondering if she'd made a mistake telling the woman such details. But she was her ally. Perhaps she would have ideas about how to get what she wanted. Finally she looked her way again. “And have you refused?”

 

“He has,” she said softly. “On the basis that he’s a bastard.”

 

Ellaria scowled. “Legitimize him if that’s the problem.”

 

“I’ve offered that, too," she told her with a sigh. "I believe we’ve both decided to wait for the Northern summit. See what comes of it.”

 

“That’s probably for the best," she agreed, "but I’m a woman who believes in action more than words. What has he done to show his loyalty?”

 

Daenerys took a deep breath. “He’s earned my trust,” she assured her. “I don’t wish to elaborate.”

 

“As you wish, Your Grace.”

 

“Your daughters, who trained them?” she asked. The three of them had begun to spar amongst themselves, an ever widening circle growing around them.

 

“Their father,” she said with a wistful sigh. “He was close to all of them, his sister as well.”

 

“They were all gone before I ever met them. Did you know Elia?” she asked.

 

“I met her a few times. She was already married and in the capital by the time I was pregnant with my first child. Oberyn was… beside himself when he heard the news of their deaths. The manner in which they died.”

 

She gripped the railing as her eyes followed Jon's graceful movements, feeling the weight of her family's mistakes pulling her down. Much the same as she imagined he carried his father's upon his shoulders. Her blood had brought sorrow to the Martells, and the Starks. It was no small thing for Ellaria and Jon to have given her their loyalty. She wanted very much to prove herself worthy of it. 

 

“I don’t know why my brother did what he did. All the things I’ve heard about him… None fit with what he did. How he could leave his children so vulnerable,” she whispered with a frown. “It’s the one thing I would ask him if given the opportunity.”

 

“If I had another I would tell Oberyn his love of poison would've been better used on the Mountain than to try and defeat him in combat.” She tilted her head at her. “We could have someone poison Cersei.”

 

“Would that actually bring you peace?” 

 

Ellaria shrugged. “It depends on the poison. The Long Farewell was rather effective.”

 

“Against Myrcella Baratheon?” Daenerys asked.

 

“Yes.”

 

“And did killing an innocent girl bring you peace?”

 

She snarled as if she'd smelled something putrid. “There are no innocent Lannisters."

 

“Children are innocent,” she replied firmly. “That is my opinion and it is one I wish all those in Westeros shared.”

 

“Is that why you have the counsel of Lady Mormont?”

 

She nodded. “She has a different perspective of the world than we do because she is still a child. And she understands honor and loyalty, and that sometimes, in this world, those can be more precious than gold.”

 

Ellaria studied her for a long moment. “You continue to surprise me, Your Grace.”

 

“In good ways, I hope.”

 

“There aren’t many women like you. The world could use more of them.”

 

Daenerys gave her a small smile. “We’ll build a new world.”

 

“You don’t actually need him, though,” she said with a tilt of her head toward Jon, still sparring and sweaty. “In fact, I think that your alliance with Dorne could prove to be more than satisfactory if you opened yourself to it.”

 

Daenerys gave a smirk, not bothering to hide her appreciation of the man in question. “While I appreciate the offer, I must decline. Not only am I territorial, but so is he.”

 

“Then perhaps he’s smarter than he looks.” She gave a nod and Ellaria bowed her head in return. “If you'll excuse me, Your Grace. My Southern blood is growing too cold out here. I'll see you tonight," she dismissed herself before sauntering away. 

 

She stared at Jon until his eyes met hers. She slowly turned and faced him and even from such distance she could feel the heat in his gaze as he understood her request. 





Chapter Text

 

 

Oh I am what I am

I'll do what I want 

But I can't hide

And I won't go 

I won't sleep

And I can't breathe

Until you're resting here with me

And I won't leave

And I can't hide

I cannot be until you're resting here

 

Here With Me

Dido



This feast was a much more somber affair than when the Dornish and Greyjoys had arrived. It appeared everyone was attempting to put on their best face for the Queen of Thorns who was seated to Daenerys’ right. Jon had even reined in Tormund and his usual boisterous attempts to goad the queen or him into drinking themselves stupid. 

 

He paced his own ale consumption, not wanting to be caught unawares by Lady Olenna as she continued to eye him. She was speaking with Daenerys, deep in conversation as Sansa sat to his other side quietly. Any other time and he might think to engage her, but he truly had nothing left to say to her. He was tired of repeating himself and his words falling on deaf ears. 

 

“Tell me, Lord Snow, how it is you went from being Lord Commander to Lord of Winterfell,” Olenna’s voice sounded over the din. Daenerys cut her eyes at him and he knew to tread carefully.

 

“My sister arrived at Castle Black.”

 

“That’s all? I was told the children of Ned Stark were the most honorable to be found in the Seven Kingdoms. Does that not extend to you?”

 

His brow furrowed as he glared at her, unable to contain his ire completely. “I hold honor higher than I do anything else, my Lady. My watch had ended.”

 

“Night’s Watch vows are taken for life," she retorted. He didn’t say anything to that and so Olenna continued on, her words fading and muffled as he looked around, realizing that not only were those at the head table watching him closely but others in the crowd were as well. “...so, either you are a traitor or you’re dead.”

 

His lip twitched, the goblet within his hand creaking. “I am neither, my Lady,” he managed smoothly.

 

She gave a roll of her eyes and tilted her head. “No, I can see you are very much alive. And is this how traitors are repaid? By being made lords?” That question was directed at Daenerys who didn’t even bristle under the comment.

 

“My Lady, with all due respect," she began, regal and cool, "the reasons why I have made Jon Snow a lord matter to me and me alone. My faith in him is mine. I’m not asking you to trust him. I’m asking you, all of you, to trust me . If you can’t grant me that, well, I suppose you made the long journey for nothing.”

 

Olenna eyed her and gave a sniff. “It’s not out of line to question why you put your faith in a man who has not bent the knee and who is seemingly a traitor to his Night’s Watch vows,” she remarked. “If I give you my men, my food stores, my trust, I want to know those that serve you aren’t going to turn on us at the first sign of trouble and have us all killed while we sleep.”

 

That had him sitting forward in his seat, doing his best to temper his scathing glare. “My Lady, killing guests while they enjoy the hospitality of my home is not something I would ever partake in, especially given what happened to my brother, his lady wife, and mother. Further, while you believe I haven’t done anything to earn your trust, or that of the Queen's, I assure you I've done nothing to lose faith. As for my leaving Castle Black, my sister arrived nearly frozen and traumatized, and soon after we learned Ramsay Bolton held our brother. They were the only family I had left and they needed me. We mounted an army to attempt to get him and our home back, because last I knew, protecting one's family from monsters is the honorable thing to do."

 

She sniffed at his impertinence, exchanging a glance with Daenerys who hid her amusement well. He doubted anyone save him saw the slight quirk of her lips. “Yet, you haven’t returned to Castle Black," Olenna challenged, unperturbed.

 

“No, and I will not,” he said vehemently, his blood simmering, scars stinging. “My watch has ended. If you’d like to continue to question me, fine, but you won’t get a different answer than that.”

 

Olenna held his stare for a long moment before leaning back in her seat a bit and looking past him. “And you, Lady Sansa? How do you feel about your brother leaving his post at the Wall?”

 

Jon didn’t dare turn to look at Sansa, not wanting the added pain of watching her betray him as well as hearing it. He'd rather not see the knife coming. Instead, breath held, he met Daenerys' eyes, a thousand thoughts and feelings passing between them as they waited to see how deep his sister's blade would sink. 

 

“Jon fought for our family bravely. He left his post to help take back our home and to try to save our brother. What other people think of him or his actions doesn’t matter because I know the truth. Jon is honorable and has brought honor to our family, and the North.”

 

The air slipped out of him as he sat in shock and surprise at her words, barely believing the way she'd defended him. The smallest of smiles graced Dany's face and he was reminded of her words, how she thought a reconciliation was still possible. Perhaps she was right. Sansa had the opportunity to figuratively throw him to the wolves, and she hadn’t. 

 

"And yet you don’t feel he should be in charge of Winterfell?” Olenna went on, not able to let the comment go without trying to dig deeper. 

 

What little hope he'd gathered vanished, there was no way she'd defend him in that, but before his sister could answer Daenerys cut her off, a small smile on her face as she sat forward and blocked Sansa from Olenna's view. “They’re currently sharing power. It’s a novel concept, I know. One is no more important than the other.”

 

“Yet, you’re negotiating with Lord Snow about their allegiance.”

 

“Lady Sansa has been busy tending to her people and keep,” she responded. “Lord Snow has been tending to the security of the castle as well as training their men for the wars to come. It's a division of power. No one job is more important than the other," she finished, finality in her tone.

 

Dany thought on her feet much faster than he did, held her emotions in check. She never failed to impress him, more and more with each hour he spent in her presence. She was a true Queen. One the foolish lot surrounding him would be blessed to have, though they didn't deserve her.

 

The Queen of Thorns fell silent, turning her attention to the crowded hall, and he breathed easier for a moment, sharing a fleeting smirk with the Dragon Queen. He couldn't wait for the feast to be over, for all the belligerent contention to come to an end, to leave all the strain behind them, strip her bare and lose himself in worshipping her as she deserved.

 

---

 

Olenna sipped at her wine and leaned back in her seat, withered fingers fidgeting. Daenerys knew the woman wasn't cowed in the least from their tense conversation, she'd only chosen to let it go momentarily. She'd need to stay on her toes, no one had played the game longer than the Queen of Thorns. 

 

“I suppose we will discuss your plans for King’s Landing at the meeting tomorrow," she finally said after a lengthy silence. "I am interested in how you will deliver on your promise for revenge.”

 

Daenerys nodded. “We will elaborate more. I think our plan is sound. I believe you will too."

 

“I certainly hope so.” She glanced over her shoulder again and huffed out a breath. Daenerys braced herself. “Sansa Stark is on the outs with her brother,” she said, softer, the statement more than question meant only for her ears. 

 

She hesitated, weighing how much to tell her, finally realizing the truth was far better than a lie or omission. “They don’t see eye to eye on several issues.”

 

“How many of those issues have to do with you?”

 

Daenerys smirked. “All of them, I believe.”

 

“What are your plans for him?" she asked, eyeing Jon for much longer than a woman her age usually would. It bothered Daenerys much more than it should have as well. She didn't care for the judgement gleaming in Olenna's eye. "Are you going to chew him up and spit him out?”

 

She had to swallow down a fiery retort, taking a generous sip of wine to cool the flames dancing within her belly. “I have no intentions of doing anything of the sort.”

 

A soft chuckle escaped the Queen of Thorns. “Don't suppose I blame you. He is quite comely.”

 

“Quite,” she agreed. "And formidable."

 

Olenna took a deep breath. “You do somewhat remind me of my granddaughter. She was a spirited queen as well. She cared about the people and they loved her. Cersei still managed to kill her.”

 

“Cersei will be the only queen that dies,” Daenerys swore. “I promise you.”

 

Lady Olenna turned to her, her stare admonishing. “Do not make promises you aren’t sure you can keep.”

 

“I can promise you that, my Lady. But we will discuss it further tomorrow.”

 

“Very well. If it’s alright with you, Your Grace, I’m rather tired from traveling and I’d like to rest,” she said, her napkin placed on her plate before she pushed herself from her chair.

 

“Of course, my Lady. Would you allow my Unsullied to guard you?” she asked, motioning to the men standing at the end of the table.

 

Olenna eyed them for a moment, then gave a nod. “Very well, Your Grace. If you think that would be wise.”

 

“I was attacked a week ago. We believe Cersei was to blame. My Unsullied are the most disciplined soldiers in the world. Allow me to ensure your protection while within the walls of this keep.”

 

“I gladly take your protection, Your Grace.”

 

Daenerys nodded to the soldiers and they followed Olenna out of the room. Once she was gone, Dany glanced over at Jon who reached for the ale in front of him and downed it in one go. Her wolf was still very much on edge. Sansa stood and moved out into the crowd to sit with Theon, Podrick, and Brienne. Tormund joined them shortly, sitting beside Brienne and eyeing her. She wished the Wildling luck. 

 

Jon was pouring wine into her goblet, she looked over him with a soft smile. “Thank you, my Lord.”

 

“You’re welcome. How was your conversation with Lady Olenna?" His dark brow rose. "Better than mine?"

 

A sharp pang took her heart. She hated he had to defend himself, with no easy way to do so. She'd wanted to roar her fury, just as her sons did while Olenna had grilled him. He didn't deserve the judgement, but she'd held her tongue as much as she could. His truth wasn't one that could be told without caution. 

 

“You handled her well, by the way." His full mouth twitched with a fleeting smile at her compliment, dark lashes brushing his cheeks as he gave a slow blink. No man had a right to be so beautiful. She shifted in her seat. "But our conversation was  interesting,” she answered him. “She asked about our relationship.”

 

“Oh? And what did you tell her?”

“I didn't say so in so many words, but I believe she understood who I bed doesn’t matter in that it doesn’t affect my ability to rule.”

 

He swirled the ale around in his goblet, watching the dark liquid spin “And how did she take that declaration?”

 

“In stride,” she answered. “And in case you’re wondering, she never once brought up the status of your birth.”

 

“Yet,” he retorted softly. He glanced up at her, eyes sloe and solemn before they dropped back to his ale. “I have a feeling with her reputation it won’t be something she doesn’t have an opinion on.”

 

She wanted to reach out and comfort him, propriety be damned. But then her heart gave another pang, one clouded with hurt, and she stilled her hand in her lap. They might have announced their marriage that night had he agreed to her proposal, and try as she might to understand his position, to empathise with him, the rejection still pained her. She'd sworn to not relent though, she would make him see his worth and he would give them both what they wanted most. Each other.  

 

“You seem to be forgetting that my opinion is the one that matters," she gently reminded.

 

He heaved a sigh. “We both know that’s not how the world works.”

 

“It can be. We can set the rules,” she told him softly. 

 

He looked up, and smiled at her, a small and terribly sad thing. “I have nothing to give you, Your Grace.”

 

She drank the rest of her wine, anything to keep the bubble of misery from escaping her. It helped, but only a little. “That’s what you fail to understand, Jon Snow. I’m not asking for anything but you,” she whispered as she stood and left the room.

 

---

 

Ghost got up, his nails clicking over the stones as he followed his charge. Jon downed the rest of his ale despite his churning stomach and hung his head, rubbing at the nagging tension in his neck and the bitter cold that had crept up his spine from her departure. 

 

"You alright, lad?" Davos asked from two seats down. 

 

He stood and made his way to him, pressing a hand onto his shoulder as he passed. "We'll see."

 

When he got to her room, the Unsullied were still stationed beside the door. That did not bode well for how his evening would go he felt.

 

He knocked instead of entering as he usually did. She opened it soon after, her expression more sorrowful than he'd ever seen her, but she still stepped aside to let him into the room. Ghost was already laying in front of the fire. He closed the door behind him and locked it before taking a careful step towards her. His chest felt as if he were back under the crush of men out on the battlefield, each breath harder than the last. He hated everything about this. This chasm that had split open between them, one he feared they'd never be able to draw back together.

 

“I don’t want to argue with you,” he told her softly.

 

She rolled her eyes, a weary sigh leaving her. “Then why follow me?”

 

“Because I need you to underst—“

 

“I understand very well," she interrupted, arms folded over her chest, eyes narrowed, "but I’ve made it quite clear I don’t care what other people think.”

 

He wished down to his bones it was that easy, but it just wasn't. “And I’m trying to get you to hear that you need to," he said, keeping his tone gentle. He truly didn't want to fight with her, only to help her see the truth for what it was. "You have to sway people to your side. That will be difficult to do with some of these lords and ladies if you chain yourself to me. Most will only see me as a bastard, not a lord, and certainly not a king.”

 

Her full mouth pressed into a hard line, her chest rising as she drew in a deep breath, pretty eyes narrowed. “And they will see Tyrion as a dwarf," she bit out, teeth clenched. "Missandei as a slave girl, Tormund and Qohno as savages, and Grey Worm as a slave soldier." What anger she'd gathered faded suddenly, her brows drawing up in anguish, eyes shining bright with pain. She pressed her hand to her chest. "But I don’t see them that way," she said softly, head shaking, her breath catching. "Tyrion is my hand and my friend. Missandei is my best friend." She turned away, pacing to her window, head bowed. He waited, hoping she was weighing his words, beginning to understand, but then she spun around, as hurt and angry as ever. "You’re asking me to see the world through a distorted lens, Jon, and I can't. I just can't,” she argued, scowling fiercely.

 

Gods, if only everyone was like her.

 

He swallowed thickly, his throat painfully tight. “But you're not like everyone else," he told her, voice husky, exposing his heart for the raw aching thing it was. Her dark scowl softened, but he knew he was about to make it reappear. He dared to step closer anyway. "I’m asking you to see it for what it is.”

 

Flames danced within her beautiful eyes, that strength he admired so much shining through. She took a step toward him, raised her chin. “I plan to break what it is. It's why I'm here. I will break the wheel,” she declared, fire and blood seeping into her every word. “No more crushing the people on the ground. Everyone is important. Everyone has a voice. And I plan to hear them, Jon. I don’t know why you are so against that.”

 

He shook his head, forcing himself to hold her gaze. “I’m not against it. It’s a pretty picture, and one I hope you achieve. But right now… You can't change it overnight… it's... unrealistic.”

 

“Reality is what we make it," she replied, cool and too calm. She put her back to him again, walking to the fire.

 

Dread rolled within his stomach, sick and twisting. He lowered his head, trying to find the words to explain himself better. He looked to Ghost, not that he'd be any help. His wolf's red eyes glowed as they stared back at him. The great beast heaved a sigh and curled his head further to the side of his outstretched legs, dismissing him.

 

Apparently everyone thought him a fool. He didn't understand why they couldn't see what was so very clear for him. 

 

He shook his head and pressed on. “You were raised knowing you’re a princess. You might not have had all the luxury that goes with that, but you knew who you were and where you came from.” He licked his lips and pressed them together for a moment, bittersweet memories invading him. “My father died without ever telling me who my mother was. Highborn or lowborn, it doesn’t matter, because my father was married to another woman. I’m the stain on his good name,” he said softly. “I’ve already brought one person’s reputation down. I won’t do that to you.”

 

Folding her arms around herself as if she were cold she threw him an unpleasant glare over her shoulder. “You’re not doing anything to me, Jon. Nothing I haven’t asked for, at least. You think you have nothing to give me, but I haven’t asked for anything but you. Just you."

 

Fucking hells, he wanted to gather her in his arms, make the bloody ache within his chest go away. Wipe the hurt and pain from her face, and promise to never be the cause of anymore. But he couldn't. He had to make her see. 

 

He stayed where he was, muscles locked tight to keep him there. “Dany, I want to say yes, for you, for all the selfish reasons I wish I…" He scrubbed a hand down his face, his eyes closing as he took a great breath before meeting her fiery gaze once more. "My intention isn’t to hurt you or make you think I want something else. I don't. I want you," he declared, the strength behind the words surprising even him. "I want to be with you, more than anything… but I am a liability to your reign. Whether you see that or not.”

 

She looked away from him, a stubborn set to her jaw as she stared at the flickering fire. He very nearly smiled, she was as hard headed as he was. “I don’t see it, Jon," she said, proving his inner thoughts. "You say I was raised knowing I was a princess, but I was also raised poor, hunted, and ultimately alone. I was sold off for an army. I know what it feels like to believe you’re nothing but what value you bring to someone else.” She turned her eyes to look at him and his heart simply broke to see the sadness in the blue depths. “You want to be by my side, to be with me, but I will be asked to marry someone. For the good of the realm. Another marriage I don’t want," she said, flat and lifeless, "leaving us both miserable."

 

His stomach churned at the thought and he was forced to swallow down the burn rising in his throat. There was nothing he could do to cool the fire building within his blood. “Everyone knows the truth we’ve been avoiding... I’m not good en—"

 

" Don't, say it," she seethed.

 

"What have your advisors said?" he sighed heavily. "Have you asked them? Tyrion?"

 

Her chin rose even higher, her body going stiff. "Tyrion and I have spoken of it, yes."

 

" And? " He waited again, watching her, seeing the struggle clear in her eyes though they did not meet his. His stomach dropped, the small, quiet part of him that had hope drifting out of reach. "He doesn't approve does he?" 

 

"He knows I will do as I wish," she huffed. "He has accepted it."

 

"Accepting it is not the same as approving of it," he retorted, short and clipped, quickly giving into the dark thing that stalked within him.

 

“I don’t care what other people think, Jon! I don’t!”

 

“But I do!" he fired back. "I don’t want to, but I do.” He looked anywhere but at her, unable to tolerate the anger and pain staring back at him, dagger-like and gutting. It was too much like his own. “I've been judged all my life, I don’t want that for you.”

 

“They already think poorly of me!" she shouted, throwing her hand out. "Foreign queen, foreign whore, mad King’s daughter ." The words were spit with venom, and a deep seated acceptance he knew all too well. "There are certain truths I have to accept and one of them is that I can not make everyone happy. I can do my utmost best but it still won't please everyone." She came to him then, closing the horrible distance between them, her hands taking his. He held them, like the precious things they were and stared into her shining eyes. "And when it comes to this matter, I don’t care what they think," she whispered. "What matters is what we want. I want to be with you. I want you to want to be with me.”

 

She may as well have cut his heart out with her plea. “I do—“

 

“No, you don’t," she cut him off with a shake of her head, slowly pulling her hands from his grasp and stepping away. "If you did, nothing would stop you.”

 

His temper flared, bright and hot. “That’s not fair, and it's not true," he bit back, teeth clenched. "I want to be with you, I want to be by your side. But you have to understand… Growing up a bastard was hard even under the best of circumstances. I know how this world treats people like me and those associated with them." She walked away, eyes scathing and cutting. He stalked after her. "Don't you see I care enough about you to want better for you?!" he snarled, grabbing her arm. He didn't mean to, but there was no stopping it. He felt caged, trapped–a beast foaming at the mouth, desperate for something, anything to free him from the torment.

 

She spun on him, jerking out of his grasp. “And who are you to choose that for me?" she hissed up at him, poking a finger into his chest. "Why do you get to decide if you’re good enough to marry me? That's my decision and I can do what I like.”

 

“Yes, you’ve said that. And I know you believe it. But how will you react if one of your lords says that your judgment can’t be trusted because you married a lowly bastard?”

 

“The same way I’d treat anyone guilty of treason,” she answered matter of fact, her beautiful face twisted with confusion.

 

He scowled right back at her. “And start a war over ideas you can’t change!”

 

“I can change them! I will!"

 

He was suddenly exhausted, and he could see it in her eyes as well. They were getting nowhere–two stone walls determined to stand strong. “We’re talking in circles,” he said lowly.

 

“We are. Because I see your value where you see none.” She crossed her arms over herself once more and walked to the window. “What now?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“What do you expect now?”

 

He frowned at her back. “Nothing.”

 

She shook her head and gave a quiet chuff. “You expect something. What is it?”

 

He crossed the room and leaned against the wall beside her, ducking his head to catch her eye. It was a long, painful moment before she turned to him. “I don’t expect anything from you," he told her softly, "I never have.”

 

She stared at him, time seeming to halt, a storm brewing within her eyes that somehow sucked all the air from his lungs. Finally, she turned and pressed her hands against the window sill looking out at the moon, shining pale and blue above them. “You’ll attend the meeting tomorrow as we planned.”

 

His heart dropped to his feet. He felt as if she was slipping right through his fingers and he was powerless to stop it. “As you wish.”

 

Her eyes snapped to his, narrowed and sparking. “No, you do not get to say that to me,” she bristled and walked away.

 

“Dany...”

 

“I’m rather tired.” He captured her elbow in a gentle grip and turned her to face him. She refused to meet his gaze. “Don’t make me want something I can’t have, Jon,” she whispered, strained.

 

“You have me," he swore, "Just… not the way you want.”

 

Her eyes found his, wet with unshed tears, and he hated the pain in them more than he'd ever hated anything before. “Exactly. Something I can’t have."

 

He cupped her face in his hands. “I’m not walking away from you. You… you mean too much to me, Dany. You make me feel alive when all I wanted was death.” A small grieving sound left her and she leaned into his touch, her eyes falling closed. “Please don’t push me away,” he begged, not caring how weak he sounded.

 

“I don’t want to,” she whispered and pulled her lips between her teeth as she laid her hands to his chest. He rested his forehead against hers, taking in her scent. Just as he went to wrap her in his arms she stepped back, all the light gone from her beautiful eyes. “But I’m not going to settle.”

 

He watched her turn away from him and walk into her bedroom, Ghost following behind. The door closed with an echoing thud he felt within his bones. He fell back against the wall, feeling as if his world had just shattered around him, the only thing left was the cold hard fact that he loved her and had possibly just lost her. 

 

No . No, he wouldn't let that happen.

 

He crossed the room and pushed her door open to find her seated on the edge of the bed, her fingers stroking through Ghost’s fur. She huffed out a breath. “I'm not going to argue with you anymore, Jon.”

 

Ignoring her words, he went to her, pulling her to her feet in front of him and crushing her lips to his, holding her against him as his mouth devoured hers. She broke away with a gasp and stared at him, eyes wide and sparking. It only unleashed the ravenous wolf within. Starving and savage, he wouldn't be denied. “You’re mine, remember?” he snarled. “I’m yours. That’s what we said to each other. What we swore."

 

“I meant it,” she hissed. “I’m not the one walking away.”

 

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said, teeth gnashing. “I’m right here, by your side, now and always. I won’t share you. I won’t leave you. And I won’t let you push me away.”

 

He took her lips again and this time she didn't fight him, instead her hands went to laces near his neck, yanking and pulling as he drank down her harsh, impatient mewls. Together they worked to rid each other of their cumbersome clothes. The leather of his jerkin slapped against the floor, her dress and chain mail following, their mouths never stopping their assault of each other, gasps and groans filtering through the room. 

 

Soon enough she was naked before him and his hands slid over her possessively, held her tight against him where she belonged. Instead of picking her up and settling her on the bed, he backed her against the wall, unwilling to wait. He hitched her thighs around his hips and thrust against her, the warm, wet heat of her soaking through his leathers, teasing and taunting.

 

A cry left her, her own hips grinding her greedy cunt against him as she tore the leather band from his hair. Then they were both working on the laces of his trousers, fingers fighting to free his cock. He left her to it, his need to taste her, any part of her too strong to resist. His mouth moved over her neck, growls rumbling in his chest, the sweet salt taste of her spurring his lust further as he licked, sucked, and bit at her pulse. She gasped into his ear, breath hot. 

 

Needing more of her cries to spill from her throat he slipped his fingers down between them and over the wet, swollen flesh between her thighs, gathering her mess and circling around her little nub. Blue eyes gone dark as velvet and dazed with want, she squirmed and whimpered just as he hoped.

 

He knew her. Knew how to make her moan and struggle. How to tease her just as she liked. And he would be the last man to ever know. He couldn’t let her marry him, but he’d be by her side forever. The only man to make her smile, to laugh, to scream from pleasure. The only man to make her happy. 

 

She was his. 

 

All his.

 

Mine .

 

He lifted her against the wall, unable to wait another moment and drove into her with a vicious thrust. Her eyes went wide at the sudden invasion, arms and legs clutching him tight, and she cried out his name, nails dug into his shoulders as he held her flesh tight in his hands, claiming her again and again.

 

"Oh gods, Jon," she panted and gasped, taking all he was giving.

 

He pressed his brow against hers and slowed his thrusts. “Look at me,” he demanded. Her eyes popped open and the same fire that burned for her, stared back at him, bright and blazing. “You’re mine.”

 

A shudder ran through her, but still she nodded, midnight eyes never leaving his. “Yours,” she agreed, breathless. “Make me yours." She bucked her hips against his with a groan, heavy lids falling closed as her mouth fell open. Gods , that mouth. 

 

He licked at it, lips, red and puffed from his rough treatment, wanting to soothe them, but the beast within had other plans and he took her mouth in a brutal kiss, tongue delving against hers, teeth clashing and nipping. Madness set in and he knew nothing else, could feel nothing but her body and his. How perfectly they fit together, no question where either belonged. 

 

She moaned into his mouth, cunt clenching and clasping at his cock, thighs trembling around his waist. He knew she was teetering on the edge. It was time to push her over. Sliding a hand between them, his fingers stroked over her little nub quick and unrelenting as he watched her lean her head back, throat a creamy feast stretched in front of him, body bending into a graceful arch, pale skin gleaming. 

 

Something inside him screamed at him to claim her and he heeded its call. Finding her pulse he sucked and bit at the skin, making sure to mark her for the world to see. They might not see his fingerprints on her hips or arse, but this they would see, they would know. She was his. With a growl he scraped his teeth against her and she tensed in his arms, legs squeezing tight around his waist, body shaking in his arms as she tumbled over the peak, his name a whimpering cry.

 

He continued to mouth at her throat as he fucked her hard and fast against the stone, chasing her into the blissful darkness. Fingers ran through his hair before taking a firm grip as her mouth pressed against his ear. “Mine,” she hissed. “All mine.”

 

That was all he needed and he seated himself fully inside her with a feral grunt, hips jerking as his world faded and sparked behind his lids. 

 

She leaned her head against his, her fingers stroking through his hair again and over his shoulders until he calmed. He pressed his lips against the purpling spot on her throat, hitched her a bit higher in his arms and made his way to the bed. 

 

Once settled, he found he couldn’t stop kissing her. He knew something had shifted between them, something bigger than them both, something life changing. His heart was hers. He wondered if she knew that. Did she feel it, too?

 

She laced her fingers with his, staring up into his eyes. “My offer still stands,” she said softly. 

 

He brushed his nose against hers and dropped a kiss on her lips. “I’m with you, always.”

 

---

 

She pressed her hands to the table, looking over the map and at all the pieces scattered across it. Tyrion was at her side looking with her. No one else had arrived yet, leaving them to talk. 

 

“How have your discussions gone with the Lord of Winterfell?” he asked.

 

“Dreadfully,” she sighed, the ache in her heart swelling painfully. “He thinks he’ll hurt my reputation.”

 

Tyrion huffed and shook his head. “The honorable fool. Their meeting is tomorrow. Lord Glover was arriving as we came into the hall.”

 

“Lord Glover? Deepwood Motte?”

 

He nodded. “Jon Snow and Sansa asked for his help in taking back Winterfell. He refused.”

 

She straightened and crossed her arms over herself. “I’m sure some of them will have changed their opinions by tomorrow.”

 

“Oh, I’m certain of it," he replied. "If for no other reason than the two large armies and three dragons outside. It will be interesting to see what happens.”

 

Jon entered a few moments later with Tormund and Davos. The ginger gave her a bright smile. “Dragon Queen,” he said with a bow of his head.

 

She smiled at him. “Tormund.”

 

The others slowly trickled in and took spots around the table, a few of them speaking to one another. She couldn’t pull her gaze away from his, though. His dark eyes were firmly fixed on her and she felt as if they could see right through her to the pain his rejection had caused her. Their morning had been strained, both of them tiptoeing around the other's prickliness. She didn’t want to give him any more leverage against her, but she couldn’t send him away from her, it would hurt too much. She had to keep her patience, keep chipping away at the hurts of his heart, help him see he was worthy of her and so much more.

 

The others arrived and she watched as a chair was produced for Olenna to take up residence beside Sansa. Once everyone was around the table she did introductions for them all, feeling the strength from those that supported her. “Now, we’re all acquainted. Shall we begin?” she asked as she looked at Tyrion and nodded.

 

“The plan is to take King’s Landing with as little loss of innocent life as possible.” Tyrion began, moving the pieces around the board. Dorne, the Eyrie, and Highgarden were placed around the outside wall of King’s Landing and the IronBorn in the bay surrounding Euron’s fleet. “The tales about our Queen revolve around her being foreign and feared. To solve that problem, we will use the Westeros armies to lay siege to the capital.”

 

“And the North?” Yara asked.

 

“The North and Wildlings will remain here with the majority of my forces to help defend the North," Daenerys answered.

 

“Defend the North? Are they being attacked by someone?” Olenna questioned.

 

“Yes, my Lady,” she replied with a nod. “Six days ago, I traveled beyond with Wall with Lord Snow on my dragon. I was told by him and the Wildlings of an army that was larger than mine and a threat to the realm.”

 

Olenna looked aghast. “I didn’t realize the Wildlings had those sort of numbers.”

 

“It’s not the Wildlings,” she said firmly. “It’s an army of dead men led by the Night King.”

 

Scoffing loudly, Olenna raised an eyebrow. “You can't be serious."

 

"I wish it were a joke, but it is not. Far from it."

 

And you’ve seen this?”

 

Daenerys nodded. “I have, with my own eyes. I also saw the Night King throw a spear and nearly knock my dragon from the sky. They are a very real threat. And one that is moving toward Eastwatch by the Sea as we speak.”

 

“How many?” she asked.

 

“A hundred thousand, at least.”

 

There was a wave of shuffling feet and stunned stares around the table. She'd told most of them they rivaled her armies, but perhaps they had needed a number for the truth to take more firmly.

 

Olenna threw her a deep frown. “So, you want our armies to take the city while you and Lord Snow hope to defend against this threat?”

 

“If we can’t, then the armies south will be the last hope we have,” she said finally. “Since you have treated with Lady Frey, I was hoping you could speak with her and have her rally her armies to aid our efforts. The more houses from Westeros, the better.”

 

“I can discuss it with her as I go back south.”

 

Tyrion looked at Yara. “We ask you to ferry the ladies from Dorne back to their homeland to collect their armies. We don’t trust ravens to send that sort of information. Besides, it will mean more when the leaders of these lands arrive as well as their armies.”

 

Yara leaned against the table, her brow furrowed. “I must voice my opinion, Your Grace. I have to say that I agree with Lady Ellaria and Lord Baelish about King’s Landing. It makes more sense for you to go in with your dragons and take the Red Keep. The only people who die are the ones who live there.” She stood up straight. “If this threat beyond the Wall is as you say it is, our armies can move in after the threat in the keep is dealt with. I believe Lord Baelish is right, that the army will surrender once your dragons fly over the city.”

 

“And the Queen has said time and again why she won’t do that," Lyanna interjected. "There are innocent people on the ground who stand to lose should just the dragons go in. It’s too dangerous.”

 

“And it’s more dangerous to lay siege," Yara argued. "We know what happens to cities when a siege is held. We know how the weaker and smaller get hurt. We know that they're the first to suffer. A quick death is better than what happens when soldiers are turned loose.”

 

“Which is exactly what we will prevent. I will be there with you,” Daenerys said. “As will my dragons. But I will only use them if I have no other choice...”

 

“You don’t have one,” Ellaria said. “It’s the quickest way to take the city.”

 

“But the most dangerous,” Jon insisted.

 

Yara sighed heavily. “I understand your resistance to such an idea, but this would save lives in the end.”

 

“Will it?” she questioned. “Tell me, what happens when the keep falls? Does everyone inside die?”

 

“Ideally, yes,” Ellaria answered.

 

“But no guarantees. And when the keep falls, what happens to the people around it? The people in the courtyard or outside its gates begging for food or shelter? What happens to the maids that work in the keep because it provides good money for their families? The men who became soldiers to provide a living? Are those lives less important?” She looked at Varys. “How many people reside within the Red Keep?”

 

“Cersei has begun inviting families from Flea Bottom into the keep to house them for when the Dragon Queen comes and attacks. She’s told them that Queen Daenerys won’t attack the keep but will burn them in their homes.”

 

Ellaria scoffed. “If they are fools en—”

 

“They’re innocent people who are trusting their leader,” Lyanna argued. “They don’t know any better and to think they should is foolish on your part.”

 

“What do you know of war, little one?”

 

“I know that my mother died fighting for Robb Stark. I know that twenty of my men died fighting for Jon Snow to help take back Winterfell. And I know if the Queen says using her dragons to take the city is dangerous that we should listen to her council.” She shook her head. “You claim you want Cersei dead, but you’re unwilling to let your armies do what the queen says. She’s giving you a plan that not only spares lives but will deliver what it is you want, and still you question her judgment.”

 

“You have not bent the knee to her, my Lady,” Ellaria noted, chin raised in contempt. 

 

“You’re right, I haven’t. But of all the people in this room speaking, she is the only one I find to be making sense. The only one who isn’t so bloodthirsty that she's allowing her desires to rule over common sense," she sneered. "She knows her dragons better than any of us. If she says it’s too dangerous to use them, perhaps it is best that we take her at her word.”

 

Daenerys took a deep breath. “I’ve already told you, Lady Ellaria, I’ve not come here to be queen of the ashes. All the people are mine to protect. I promised you fire and blood and I will deliver both. But I am asking you, all of you, for your faith that my plan is sound and will leave armies to help fight if we need them later.”

 

“Against this dead army?” Olenna asked, the skepticism in her voice plain.

 

She steeled herself and faced off with the Queen of Thorns. “I didn’t believe the stories either. Not when Lord Snow and Tormund presented me with them. I had Jon Snow take me in the direction he had last seen the army. I saw them, my Lady, and I wish I could say it was a fever dream or a hallucination but they were as real as you and me. As far as the eye could see,” she said with a shake of her head, "their dark bodies spreading beyond the horizon. It was worse than any nightmare you could ever live because, to be honest, I don’t know if I have the numbers to fight them.”

 

Olenna didn’t break eye contact. “What kills them? Do we even know?”

 

Jon nodded. “Yes, my Lady. Dragonglass, Valyrian steel, and fire.”

 

“Fire?” She looked at Daenerys. “Seems to me we have the solution.”

 

“Possibly, but that monster, the Night King, was able to throw a spear with enough force that he nearly took my largest and strongest dragon out of the sky. I fear what would happen if he gets to the others without a rider.”

 

The room fell silent and she locked eyes briefly with Jon, taking a deep breath as she waited. 

 

“How will they get beyond the Wall?” Olenna finally asked.

 

Jon shifted, facing Olenna, eyeing the others. “When we were at the Wall, the first wight I ever saw was brought in through the gates. The Wall hasn’t been well manned in years. Some of the castles have even been abandoned. If they find a weak point… There's enough of them they could push through. They have giants, mammoths…"

 

That had several of them staring at him in alarm. More feet shuffled, looks exchanged. Maybe they were all beginning to believe. She shared another look with Jon, hopeful finally.

 

“Can we send a small force to each keep?” Yara asked. “Enough men and horses that can ride ahead and send a warning that they’re coming south.”

 

Tyrion looked at Jon. “How many would you say it takes to maintain each castle?”

 

“Twenty? Keep a few men on the Wall and some in the keep to maintain the rest.”

 

“How many are at Castle Black?”

 

“Seventy-five?”

 

“Eastwatch?”

 

“Half,” Jon answered quickly. “As I said, it hasn’t been properly manned in years.”

 

“Your Grace, we could send twenty five more to Castle Black, fifty to Eastwatch, and one hundred to each of the other keeps," Tyrion offered. "Ask for volunteers amongst the North, Wildlings, Dothraki, and Unsullied. At the very least, it’s a force that could give others time to get away and warn us they’re coming.”

 

She nodded. “That’s reasonable.” She looked at Olenna. “Can we count on the Reach to help provide food for the armies?”

 

“Yes, Your Grace. Now what will you do with Cersei once she is captured or killed?”

 

She should have known that wasn't the end of it. “If she's killed during the siege, then it’s done. If she’s captured, then it will be put my council how best to deal with her.”

 

“Head on a spike?” Obara offered.

 

“Burned slowly with wildfire,” Tyene said softly. “Start with her face.”

 

Tyrion shifted beside her and she looked up at Jon. “She’s a traitor to the crown,” she said quietly. “Hanging or beheading are both justified. However, let’s take the city first, then we can discuss how she will die.”

 

“Your Grace, might I ask about your alliance with the North?” Olenna asked.

 

She tried her best to keep her composure, hide her irritation by straightening her spine, clasping her hands together at her waist, giving a nod. “You may," she answered, her gaze firmly on Jon though she knew she shouldn't. His jaw was clenched, the muscles jumping, one fist flexing at his side as he stared down the Queen of Thorns.

 

Olenna stared back, then turned to Sansa, her eyes narrowing a bit. “The Queen rode in to save your home and your lives. Yet, neither of you have bent the knee. Why not? Lady Stark? I understand that you were the one who asked for her help.”

 

“I was,” she said softly and lowered her head.

 

“And now you feel you don’t owe her anything in return?”

 

Sansa tilted her head, eyes meeting hers. “I’ve spoken with the queen about what it is I want.”

 

“And what is that?”

 

“Independence.”

 

Ellaria and her girls all snickered. A look from Daenerys silenced them all. Olenna shook her head. “Why do you think you deserve such a thing? What has Winterfell or the Starks offered to the Queen that would even make such a thing a worthy consideration?”

 

Sansa took a deep breath, looking around the room for help. Daenerys realized Jon wasn’t going to, his mouth in a hard pressed line. She held her own tongue. “The North suffered greatly under the War of the Five Kings," Sansa finally offered. "Our numbers and stores have been depleted. We have nothing to offer her through an alliance.”

 

“Except you have everything to offer,” Olenna argued. “With the North goes the Riverlands and even the alliance with the Eyrie would be more secure. I’m simply curious how you believe you can request help and then have to provide nothing in the way of payment? I believed you a smart girl."

 

Sansa's eyes flashed, icy and hard  “The North won’t bow to a southern ruler.”

 

Olenna’s cane thumped against the floor as she gave a huff. “They will if Winterfell does. What other choice would they have?”

 

“Rebellion.”

 

“But you just said your people and stores were depleted. Who would be able to rebel?” She looked past Sansa to Jon. “Lord Snow? It appears to me you’ve received quite a few boons since the Queen’s arrival. Your home. A title. Why have you not bent the knee?”

 

Jon's head fell, but only for a moment. He raised it again, and faced her calmly. “Winterfell isn’t mine to give, my Lady. I’m not a true born son of Ned Stark.”

 

“No, but you are his son. That would mean enough to most of these people.”

 

All eyes had turned to him, and she could see he wanted to shift under the scrutiny, but he stood his ground. “We both know that the pledge of a bastard won’t mean much to the people in this kingdom. While others might be willing to look past my status, I am all too aware of what it means. The Lords of the North won’t care if I bend the knee.”

 

“What if you’re wrong?" Olenna countered. "What if your meeting tomorrow puts you firmly in power?”

 

Sansa’s head whipped around to look at Jon, but his eyes were on Daenerys. “That would change things,” he answered lowly.

 

“And would you bend the knee?” Olenna questioned.

 

He pressed his lips together and shook his head, staring at the map before them. “If I answered that question and the Lords and Ladies didn’t like my answer then chances of them doing so would be slim.”

 

“And he’s still not the true born son,” Lord Baelish cut in. “Sansa is the only true born child of Ned Stark.”

 

Olenna rolled her eyes as she turned to him. “Since when do you care about Ned Stark, Lord Baelish? From what I understand, you were still firmly in love with his wife.”

 

Daenerys saw every head turn to look at the snivelling little lord. “My feelings for her were immaterial to what Lord Stark was. He was the Warden of the North. That title should fall to his daughter. His trueborn child."

 

“And he was Warden under Robert Baratheon, the man who killed my brother and took my family seat,” Daenerys bit back, her blood beginning to boil, in defense of Jon, and her family.

 

“Your brother who kidnapped and raped my aunt,” Sansa sneered.

 

“And the brother who cast out our aunt,” Nymeria replied, heated eyes on Sansa for her snippy tone. “I fail to see your point.”

 

“And where are all of them, now?" Jon's voice cut over them all, deep and demanding. "Dead," he went on when all eyes had come back to him. "We’re here and we can do better. Leave the world better than we found it.”

 

Theon and Yara exchanged a look and she knew why. She’d said the same thing to them. She felt scolded herself, she'd lost her patience. She couldn't do that. 

 

She cleared her throat and drew everyone's attention. “Lord Snow is correct. Stark, Baratheon, Lannister, Tyrell, Greyjoy, Targaryen, Martell, Sand, Snow… Our names don’t matter unless we do something with them. And we will. We will take the capital from a tyrant. We will protect the North from the dead. And we will do all of it together, with fire and blood. I swear to you, our enemies will die screaming,” she said vehemently, feeling the same fire racing through her blood now as it did all those years ago. “The status of the North will be discussed more tomorrow after their summit. We’ll figure out where those who refused to help Lord Snow and Lady Stark stand now that they have taken back their home.”

 

She looked at Yara and Theon. “I want you to ride out by the end of the week for White Harbor. Don’t travel within the sea. A force like Euron’s would be looking for you there. It might be better if you travel closer to Essos to get to Dorne." She turned her gaze on Ellaria. "Gather your army once you arrive and begin the march North. Once you’ve set up camp outside of King’s Landing, send word to me and I will meet you there. Are you with me?”

 

Yara nodded. “We are,” she said with a nod.

 

Ellaria gave her a nod as well. “Dorne is with you, Your Grace.”

 

“I will ride out when they leave to take our forces South," Lord Royce offered.

 

“Thank you. I believe that is all for now. Let's work on preparations," she said in way of dismissal. "Lady Olenna, may I speak with you in private?”

 

She nodded and everyone else made to leave the room. She watched Jon disappear out the door as she walked around the table and took a seat beside Olenna. “I’m sorry to send you off so soon.”

 

Olenna shrugged. “The sooner Cersei is dead the sooner I can die in peace.”

 

Daenerys frowned. “I hope you’ll be around longer than that.”

 

“I suppose you may know what it’s like. To be the last of your house. At least you have time to do something about it. I imagine you’re already working toward that point with Lord Snow.”

 

Daenerys shook her head. “I can’t have children.”

 

Olenna gave her a sad look and heaved a sigh. “Here we sit. The last two members of our houses and unable to rectify that. Loras and Margaery were killed by Cersei, Garlan died of a sickness, and Willas was killed on the road to Dorne after the Sept,” she said with a shake of her head. “All because Cersei didn’t want to deal with the consequences of her actions.”

 

“To be honest, none of us want to deal with them.”

 

“You seem to be well aware of what consequences you would face,” she said as she eyed her. “Your Hand is a clever man and I’ve known many clever men throughout my life and I’ve outlived them all. Do you know how?” She shook her head and Olenna gave her a small smirk. “I ignored them.”

 

Daenerys gave her a smile back. “I’ve seen the sort of destruction my dragons can cause. I will use them, but only when left with no other choice.”

 

She nodded. “I respect that decision even if my own demands for justice call out for more. What will you do with the North?”

 

“You heard what Lady Stark wants.”

 

“I did. She’s a fool," she chuffed. "Those men will walk in here tomorrow and pledge their loyalty to House Stark, yes, but they will pledge their support to Jon Snow.”

 

Her heart jumped at that. It was what she hoped, for Jon's sake, and hers. “Why do you think that?” she asked carefully.

 

Olenna shook her head, waving a hand dismissively. “Men are the same everywhere, Your Grace. They only respect women as long as they’re useful to them. Sansa has no use to them save marrying one of their sons. The Wildling army respects Lord Snow. The North men followed him, not Sansa. She doesn’t even realize she will not be thought about to take place as Warden.”

 

She heaved a sigh. “I’ve tried to make her see reason. So has her brother. Many times."

 

“She won’t. Especially while she has Lord Baelish here. He’s a dangerous man.”

 

“I know. I don’t trust him. He’s only alive because he’s more valuable that way than dead.”

 

Olenna took a deep breath. “Would you like some advice from an old woman?” Daenerys nodded. “The people of Westeros are sheep. Are you a sheep? No,” she said with a small smile. “You’re a dragon. Be a dragon.”

 

---

 

"Jon."

 

He turned his head and found Tyrion trotting after him. "My Lord," he called back, none too cordially and kept walking hoping to dissuade him. He was in no mood to talk to anyone. His guts were a tangled knot of thorns and all it did was make him angry. He wasn't fit to entertain lords.

 

"I thought you and I might have a word," the Imp said, a bit winded. "We had some good talks on our journey to the Wall. I know you have some stories to tell, and I have some of my own. Let's take a break from all the war and politics, what d'you say?"

 

He'd made it to his solar door– his father's– and pushed it opened with a sigh, looking down at Tyrion, who gave him a cheeky smile. Maybe a few stories would at least take his mind off things for a bit. It was getting to the point no one wanted to spar with him anyway.

 

He waved him through. "Come in, my Lord."

 

Tyrion practically skipped through the doorway and straight over to the sideboard where he poured himself a goblet of ale. And then a second. Jon shut the door and went to the hearth, bending down and stoking the fire, longer than needed, the dancing and crackling flames becoming an orange blur before his eyes. The heat bringing thoughts of her to his mind. The softness of her skin against his, the warmth that built within his chest just at the sight of her.

 

A tap to his shoulder had him looking up, Tyrion stood there, a goblet held out to him. He took it and rose to his feet. "It's too early for this," he muttered then downed it in one go. 

 

"Apparently not," Tyrion retorted with a snort and hopped into a chair, scooting himself back till his little legs stuck straight out. He didn't spill a drop of ale.

 

Jon went to the sideboard and refilled his goblet. "You first," he threw over his shoulder.

 

"Mmm, let's see… I've already told you how I came to be in the Queen's service, about our time in Meereen… Perhaps I should go further back, after I left you and before I found her."

 

"Whatever you want," Jon said, dropping himself into the seat across from him. He really didn't care. 

 

"I came back here after I left you at the Wall as I said I would," he started. "Robb was Lord of the keep and your little brother Bran had woken up. He had a big man carrying him around, simple fellow."

 

"Hodor." 

 

"I believe that's the one." He chuffed and shook his head. "Robb didn't like me much, not at all, until I gave Bran a gift."

 

Jon sat forward in his seat, elbows on the chair arms, twisting his goblet between his hands. "A gift?" he echoed. 

 

Tyrion grinned at his curiosity he was sure, and gave a slow nod. "Indeed. A saddle, for a boy who couldn't use his legs anymore."

 

"Why'd you do that?"

 

Another snort, and a sip from his ale as he stared into the fire. "Robb wanted to know the same thing." His green eyes turned on Jon and he tilted his head. "I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things."

 

Maybe it should've softened him toward the Imp, he'd done a kind service to his little brother after all, but his words, that word, that pity , did nothing but set the darkness within him free. 

 

He was on his feet and glaring out the window a breath later. "I don't want your pity, if that's what you're here for you can fuck off," he said, surprised at the cool calmness in his tone. He drained his goblet again. Sat it carefully down on the sideboard.

 

"I have no pity for you, Jon Snow. No more than I have for myself."

 

He cut his eyes at him over his shoulder. "Then why are you here?"

 

"To help."

 

"I don't need your help."

 

"Maybe not," he returned slowly. "But as her Hand, it's my job to help her ."

 

"Then help her understand!" he roared as he spun around. "It's folly, Tyrion." He advanced on him, but it was his own body that took his fury, a fist pounding against his chest, teeth gritted until they creaked, bolts of pain shooting through his head. "If she chooses me, they won't trust her judgment. And I know you know what their judgment is like. You've lived it as well as I have."

 

"I have," he agreed, quiet and calm, Jon's anger not seeming to phase him a bit. Or perhaps it was more speaking soothingly to a riled beast. "'You are an ill-made, spiteful little creature full of envy, lust, and low cunning.'" He looked up at him from under his heavy brow, ran his tongue across his teeth beneath his lips. "My father's words. I'm sure you heard similar."

 

"Aye, I have," he seethed. "All my life."

 

A compassionate frown took his face, his head shaking. "So why won't you let her make you a Stark?" he asked softly.

 

Jon's knuckles cracked, fists clenched tight as he sneered at him. "Do you remember what you told me that first night we met? Wear it like armor! you said," he ranted. "I did. It's who I am." Another fist slammed into his chest. "Who I'll always be." And another. "I am not a Stark." Tyrion stared at him blankly, waiting for more, Jon's reasons apparently not good enough. How in the Seven Hells didn't he understand? He flung a hand at him in frustration. "You're a Lannister, did it stop anyone from speaking ill of you?"

 

Tyrion laughed softly, tapping his fingers on the arm of the chair. "Probably made the slurs worse if I'm honest."

 

"Then how can you be for this, now?" he asked, biting and bitter. "When you know it will make no difference?"

 

"Because I believe in her ," he answered. "I may not always agree with all her choices... when I don't, turns out I’m usually wrong… but this one… This one, I happen to agree with." He sat forward in his seat, expression sincere, eyes pleading with him. Jon shifted on his feet. "There's no one better than you, Jon. Not politically, and not in any other way, either. You're a good man," he said staunchly. "And we both know how hard it is to find a man who values honor and wouldn’t use her for their own ambition."

 

His gut churned under the praise, a small flicker of something other stirring in his chest. He walked back to the fire, facing the flames the only place he could seem to find any sort of comfort. "There isn't a man good enough for her."

 

"Well no, I have to agree there. But you are damn close." He fell silent for a beat or three, a feat for such a verbose man in Jon's estimation. Then his chair creaked and Jon knew the short reprieve was over. "Won't you do it for her?" he asked, nearly begged . "And do not stand there and tell me you do not care for her. You are no liar, Jon Snow."

 

His palm slammed into the mantle above, candlesticks rattling. "Seven fuckin' hells! I am doin' it for her!" he roared his rage into the flames. Having expelled some of it, he blew out a harsh breath and drew in another, eyes closed, the heels of his hands pressed into them working to contain the rest. Finally he dropped them to his sides and looked over at the man he supposed he could call friend. "Why can't you see that? If anyone should understand why I'm doing this it should be you,” he croaked, hoping that at least Tyrion could see reason. If not him, who? “Do you think I want this? To hurt her, to tell her no?" he asked, his vision going glassy. He turned away from him and squeezed his eyes shut, hating himself. 

 

That was a feeling he knew well, one he knew what to do with.

 

"I don't believe so, no," Tyrion answered with a soft sniff. "But perhaps you're just misguided in your reasoning. Happens to us all at times," he said gently. "We're stuck inside, can't see the bigger picture."

 

"The bigger picture is exactly what I see," he argued. "I won't cost her all she's fought for! All she wants!" he barked, the rage returning. He was losing his grip, the beast prowling. He paced away from Tyrion and back again, breathing deep. "We need her. Westeros needs her," he told him. "She wants to fix this shit world we live in and I believe she can, and I bloody well know she'll help us survive the dead, so we'll actually still be alive to live in that better world. She's the only fuckin' chance we have! If I marry her now, all of that's at risk!" He'd lost his patience once more, but didn't care, he had to make him see. For her sake. "This isn't about me!" he shouted, fingers digging into his chest. "It's about her and her want to save us. Helpin' her become Queen of all of it. Marryin' me won't help her. It will hurt her. Those people out there, they won't give two shits if she names me Jon Stark. To them I'll always be a bastard. And all they'll ask is, what trustworthy queen would marry a bastard?"  

 

"One that wants to change this world, just as you've said."

 

He ground his teeth together and gripped the mantle, leaning into it, his head hung. He was so tired, gods he was tired. "I have nothin' to give her, Tyrion," he tried once more, even knowing it was his weakest argument.

 

"After tomorrow, you'll have the North."

 

"You don't know that."

 

"Oh, but I do." He held his goblet up. "I drink and I know things."

 

Jon pushed away from the fireplace and sank down into his chair again, rubbing at his temples, at the throbbing beneath them. "And just how d'you know?"

 

"Because while you and our queen have been," he swung his goblet around in the air, "flying about on your dragons—"

 

"Her dragons."

 

He cut his eyes up at the ceiling and pursed his lips. "Well, at least two of them are still hers," he said and pffted. "Anyway, while you two have been off galavanting as young folks like you should, I've been here, keeping my ears and eyes open, as have my fellow counselors. And yours."

 

Jon sat back and narrowed his eyes at him. "How many talks have you and Davos had?"

 

"Quite a few," he said. His eyebrows rose, a wicked grin spreading over his face. "Tormund loves to talk as well."

 

"Bloody hells," Jon cursed and stood again, standing before the fire, arms crossed over his chest. He couldn't be still, his every nerve and muscle seeming to vibrate as if poised for battle, feeling something bearing down on him, friend or foe he wasn't sure. "There were still lords arriving today," he said after tense silence.

 

"Yes, but those already here…" Tyrion drawled with a wave of his hand. "It's enough. You are Ned Stark's only living son. You helped take the North back from traitorous, evil lords. A few may look to your sister, but most have already thrown their lot in for you whether they've said so to you or not."

 

"I feel like I barely did anything."

 

"You fought with your men instead of watching them fight. Faced down a cavalry charge all on your own I heard. Brought the Wildlings south to protect them. Never seen a lot love their leader more." 

 

He dropped his head back, eyes closed. "I'm not their leader."

 

"Maybe not in name," Tyrion argued, "but they'd follow you anywhere. You're a fool if you don't see that." He shuffled out of his chair and went back to the sideboard. "The men of Winterfell will as well. The other houses will follow suit. People follow you the same way they follow her." He was back at Jon's side, offering him another goblet. "You know why?"

 

He took it from him with a sigh. "I'm sure you're going to tell me."

 

A stubby finger pointed at the ale he was holding. "Drink that first, then I will. You need it, you're much too tense." Jon rolled his eyes, but drank some of it anyway. Tense was too weak a word for how he felt. "Because," Tyrion quickly went on, as promised, "you have good hearts. You're selfless, you both want to help people. Save them from monsters, because you already know what it's like being preyed upon by them yourselves."

 

It was easy enough for him to believe that about Daenerys. She was all that and so much more. But he didn't know that he'd ever fully believe it about himself. A lifetime of being judged as worthless and wrong was as hard to remove as blood spilt across wood floors.

 

"How long have you loved her?"

 

He swallowed thickly, eyes still caught on the dancing flames. There was no point in denying it. "Long enough to know I'll never stop."

 

He heard rather than saw Tyrion's smile. "It's easy to love her, as I said before, there have been many who have. But you , Jon Snow, you're the only man I've known lucky enough to have it returned." 

 

Jon's gaze snapped to his, air no longer willing to enter his lungs, his heart simply stalled behind his ribs.

 

Tyrion rolled his eyes. "Don't look at me like that, you fool. Of course she loves you. And here you are trying to deny her the one thing she's always wanted most. Someone to love her for who she is. A family to call her own. To not feel alone in the world anymore. Wouldn't that be nice, Jon Snow? Not to feel alone ever again? To know you'd be giving the same to her? The woman you love."

 

Damn him and his fucking questions. How could a few uttered words feel the same as knives buried deep into flesh and bone? Make him feel as helpless and hollow as he did bleeding out in the snow. 

 

He shook his head and dropped it into his hand, fingers digging into his scalp. "I'm not trying to deny her anything, I want to give her everything. I don't have it to give."

 

"She wants you ," Tyrion insisted. "And together you could have everything. But you refuse to see your worth, have some foolish notion you must deny yourself anything good in this world because the shit world we live in says you don't deserve it. My father was as highborn as they come, do you think he deserved anything good? Daenerys is highborn. She's a queen. Did she deserve all the awful things she's suffered?" he asked, voice high and cracking. He gave a weary sigh. "It isn't about what we deserve or don't, it's about our choices. She has chosen you and you're taking that choice away from her. You say you believe in her, love her, want her to be Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, yet you don't trust her to make the right decision about you?"

 

Another knife buried itself in his heart. He sucked in a gasp of air.

 

"I trust her," he husked. "I do. It's me, I'm not so sure about." Tyrion scoffed and rolled his eyes.  "Listen to me," Jon demanded, suddenly towering over him, the beast back and bristling. "Everyone I've loved and cared for, I've failed. My father, my brothers, my sisters. The last woman I loved died in my arms. If I fail Dany…"

 

"Did this woman die by your hands?"

 

"No, but she may as well have."

 

"I'm sorry, truly, but you strike me as a man who learns from his failings, not the kind who keeps repeating them."

 

He turned and dropped back into his chair, elbows on his knees, head in his hands. "I try to, but leaving the Watch…" he looked up, scrubbed at his face, a breath away from confessing his murder, but something stopped him. A fear, not that Tyrion wouldn't believe him, but maybe that he would and would take back everything he'd said about him. That he would no longer believe he was anywhere near worthy of her. As much as he'd argued with him, Tyrion's words had crawled in and settled themselves down beside Davos' and Tormund's. Daenerys'. And gods how he wanted to believe them. 

 

"I'm not the man I was," he said instead, "It changed me, something darker rules me now. My failures, my mistakes, they eat at me like rats picking bones. I feel like some ravenous beast lunging at the end of a chain ready to snap."

 

Tyrion stared at him, eyes narrowed, finger slowly rubbing over his top lip. Jon had a feeling he knew why. He was probably questioning the stories he'd no doubt heard spill from Tormund's drunken lips in the wee hours after their numerous feasts. Or perhaps running through the talks he and Davos had had. Whatever he was looking for, he seemed to find it. He gave a short nod and kissed his teeth. 

 

"She worries she'll be like her father, you know? That the madness will take hold of her as it did him. I don't believe it ever will. She isn't him. But she's aware of it, like you are. Watches for it. She's become more calculating because of it. I think you will too."

 

"You aren't worried the two of us together could—"

 

A knock sounded on the door, both of them turning toward it. "Enter," he called. 

 

It opened and Davos stuck his head in. "Lord Varys is looking for you Lord Tyrion."

 

"I'll be right there, if you'd give us a moment longer kind Ser," Tyrion told him. 

 

Davos' eyes met Jon's, asking over him with just a look. He gave him a feeble smile and a nod. His old friend seemed reluctant, but closed the door anyway.

 

"To answer your question, no I'm not. I trust you both," Tyrion said as he got down from his chair. He sat his cup on the table, then walked over to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. "You've tried your whole life to prove their words wrong. You've done that many times over. It's time to accept the gift you're being given. Lay down the old armor and pick up the new. Uncertain times lay ahead of us and she needs you just as much as you do her. The world needs you both."

 

He didn't even hear him leave, so caught up within the storm swirling around his heart and mind. He felt weak, like a piece of leather worn too thin, all the old hurts and scars showing through. Yet as he watched the fire dance inside the hearth it was as if its flames were spreading to him, within him, catching on one scar, then the next, burning away at the pain trapped beneath them. It grew with each breath he took, feeding on the air he was taking in, on the voices in his head...

 

'Pull your pretty head out of your ass. You are holding a star in your hands and instead of devoting your life to making it shine, you lament that you're not good enough to hold it. She picked you. Who are you to second guess her?'

 

'You are no less because of it, not in my eyes.'

 

'Do you know I never question if you'll do the right thing? It’s never been something that entered my mind. You do the right thing no matter how hard it is simply because it’s the right thing. I admire that about you.'

 

'You deserve much more than you believe, Jon Snow.'

 

'I think you're destined to be much more than lover of a queen.'

 

'You are not worthless. You are a bright star to your family. I’ll make you see it, someday.'

 

'You're a good man.'

 

He stood, letting them burn through him, turning wounds to ash, feeling his blood rise, pumping within his veins scorching and strong, heart full of conviction and unafraid, no longer covered and cold.

 

She loved him, despite all. And he loved her.

 

And all the Seven Hells wouldn't tear him from her side.

 

A noise drew his attention and he looked up. Davos stood in the open doorway, a worried frown on his weathered face. "You alright, lad?"

 

He took a deep breath and slowly released it, feeling lighter than he had in an age, yet fixed and firm, his path clear. "Aye, Davos. I'm alright."

 

"Good." He walked up to him and held out a scroll. "This just arrived, the Maester said to bring it to you straight away."

 

Jon took it and read over the words, hardly able to believe it. He looked up at Davos. “Where's the Queen?”

 

“I saw her walk into the Godswood not long before I came up here."

 

Jon gave him a nod. “Thank you,” he said and tied on his sword belt, putting Longclaw back at his hip, then swung on his cloak. 

 

He hurried to the Godswood, ignored calls for his attention and found Greyworm outside the gate. “Is she alone?”

 

“Yes. Except for wolf.”

 

He pushed open the gate and closed it behind him. Her dainty footprints led him through the snow and he found her seated beneath the weirwood tree, staring up at its red leaves. Goddess of Winter . He approached and Ghost lifted his head at him. Her eyes locked with his and he stopped directly in front of her. “You look as if you belong here in the snow. Winter’s queen.”

 

She smirked. “It’s amusing to me that you pronounce you’re not a poet yet you regularly say the loveliest things to me.”

 

“You’re an inspiration, Your Grace,” he said with a smile and a flex of his fist. The scroll crinkled within his grip and held out to her, having nearly forgotten why he came to see her. “This just arrived from the Citadel. It's from Sam.”

 

She heaved a deep breath. “What news from Oldtown?”

 

“Dragonglass,” he told her, not hiding his hopes. “He knows where we can find a mountain of it.”

 

“Where?” she breathed, her curiosity piqued.

 

“Dragonstone.”

 

Her eyes widened and she snatched the scroll from him and read over it. “A cave off the shore,” she said softly, then her eyes locked with his, expression eager and ready for action. “We need miners.”

 

“And blacksmiths,” he added. “I know who we can send to over see it.”

 

“Who?”

 

“Ser Davos. He lived there for a time with Stannis. He’ll know how to get there. And you could have Varys send out his little birds to find blacksmiths to craft weapons. We’ll offer them safe passage to the island.”

 

She leaned back against the tree. “All we have to worry about is Euron’s fleet intercepting them.”

 

“If they stay close to the shoreline, they might be able to avoid his fleet. They would possibly be looking for yours in the sea.”

 

She frowned. “Would you be alright with Ser Davos leaving?”

 

“He’s one of a handful of people I trust, Your Grace. He also knows the island. I don’t want him to leave, but the fate of everyone could depend on having dragonglass weapons.”

 

She nodded and went to stand. He held out his hand to help her up, not releasing her once she stood in front of him. They stared at one another, and his chest felt as if it would splinter apart at any moment at what he saw in her eyes. The hope, the want, the love. He felt it all just the same. He didn't know where to start, what to tell her first.

 

“What did you think of our meeting?” she asked quietly before he could make up his mind.

 

He sighed, silently cursing himself. “I think you have a lot of support.”

 

“Is that all?” 

 

He shook his head. “I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow but I dread it.”

 

“Why?”

 

He stepped closer to her, frowning as he brushed a strand of hair behind her ear. "You flew in here and saved all of us when you didn’t have to. Some will see the truth, but some of those men are stubborn selfish fools. They could make things very difficult for you, for me…"

 

She reached up her hand to his cheek and smiled. “It pleases me how fiercely loyal you are.”

 

“I am. To you. For you." He leaned in and placed a tender kiss on her lips. “I'm yours,” he whispered, deciding now was the time. "Dany, I—"

 

She pulled away, placing a finger over his lips and shaking her head. He frowned, frustrated and fretful. A soft smile spread over her beautiful face, her heart in her eyes again as she stared up at him. Her fingers trailed down his chin to his chest, where she pressed her palm over his heart. “Tomorrow, after the summit. Let's wait till then."

 

He didn't want to wait. He wanted to shout it until all and sundry knew it, drop to his knees and beg, whisper it to her over and over again as they lay in each other's arms, but he was done telling her no. And perhaps, just perhaps, if he waited, he could give her the North and himself all at once. Even so, he pressed his lips together to keep the words from spilling out and reluctantly nodded his agreement.

 

"I’ll meet you in your room tonight,” she said softly.

 

“Will you take dinner with me alone or in the hall?”

 

She smiled, cheeky and too tempting by far. “While I do like dining with you in bed, I still have guests here that I need to host. You’re welcome to join me in the hall. Tormund has been asking for stories.”

 

He chuckled and shook his head. “I have to say it warms me to see how accepting you are of the Free Folk. Most people think of them as savages. I know because I saw them that way until I lived with them. But you haven’t shied away from them at all.”

 

She tilted her head, fingers tracing the wolf etchings on his gambeson. “The Dothraki aren’t exactly the most hospitable people, either. And even if the Free Folk don’t call me queen, I respect their ability for survival." She looked up, grinning. "And Tormund is a charming ambassador for them.”

 

He laughed at that. “He’s been called a lot of things, but I don’t think ‘charming ambassador’ is one of them.”

 

She slipped a hand around the back of his neck, fingers teasing and tickling at his nape and pressed her lips to his once more. “You’re far too distracting, Jon Snow.” He tucked his cloak around her, holding in her warmth as he rested his cheek against her head. She hummed her pleasure and wrapped her arms around him. “You make it difficult to remember that I have other duties.”

 

“I’d apologize if I was actually sorry,” he whispered and kissed her moonglow hair. 

 

She chuckled and pulled back to look at him. “Yes, you don’t seem very sorry.”

 

Gods, he loved her.

 

“I’m not. I won’t be,” he said as he leaned down to kiss her again, pouring his heart into it, hoping she could feel his love. The temptation to tell her of it grew with each passing second. He needed to steer himself elsewhere. His hands slid over her sides and to her bottom, giving it a firm squeeze. “You’re distracting, too.”

 

“And like you I’m not the least bit sorry,” she whispered against his lips. “Keep the queen warm,” she demanded as she pulled him down for another kiss.

 

---

 

He couldn’t shake the feeling that he was being watched. It was happening far more often than he liked. He looked around the courtyard, remembering the eyes and hair he’d seen, the figment of his imagination. The ghost. He was beginning to worry about himself. If the darkness that dwelled within him was turning his mind.

 

Jon walked toward the crypts, an inexplicable urge to see his father taking him. He allowed his feet to carry him down the long path. He stopped in front of the statue and reached for something to light one of the candles that had burned out. He got it lit and stepped back. As much as he missed him, wished he could have his counsel, it was nice to have somewhere to go to pay his respects. Soon, Rickon would be put to rest down there beside him. He knew he should probably burn the body, but he couldn’t bring himself to give the order. He was his little brother and he’d failed him. He wouldn’t deny him the right to lay in the halls of their ancestors. He wouldn’t allow that to happen to Rickon the way it had Robb and Bran.

 

“That statue doesn’t look like him,” a soft voice came from behind him. 

 

He spun, heart in his throat to see… Arya? He stared, mouth gaping, mind spinning, not a stitch of air within him. It was her, his little sister, but she was different. A bit taller, dark hair greasy and pulled back from her face, like his, like their father's, face fuller. She had a smudge of dirt at the edge of her chin, but her eyes burned as bright as he’d remembered.

 

“Arya?” he gasped and stepped back. “Are… are you real?”

 

She gave him a weary look and nodded. “As real as you,” she said softly. A smile broke out across her dirty face and she suddenly rushed at him, jumping into his arms. It was all he could do not to sink to the ground as he enveloped her into a hug, lifting her from her feet, his heart full to bursting.

 

“Arya...” he huffed as tears rolled down his face. He couldn't hold her tight enough, couldn't contain all he felt. “ Gods, I thought you were dead,” he whispered as he put her back on her feet and reluctantly let her go, but only because he needed to see her, let his eyes take her in.

 

She pulled away for a moment and shook her head. “Not from lack of trying,” she said softly. “I heard you were taking back Winterfell and had to come see it for myself. I’m glad I did,” she said with a small smile. “I never thought I would see you again.”

 

Jon cupped the back of her head, and swallowed at the knot in his throat. It did no good, another took its place. “I feared I wouldn’t see you," he husked, too choked up to do otherwise. "I should've known better.” He examined her, how she had grown, though still short and skinny. He noticed her sword and gave her a bright smile. “You still have it. Had to use it?” he asked as she pulled Needle from her hip for him to see.

 

“It came in handy once or twice,” she whispered. “That’s a pretty fancy sword you’ve got.”

 

“A gift from the Lord Commander,” he said as he pulled it out of its scabbard for her to examine. Her eyes looked over the blade but he continued to stare at her, still barely believing she was real, standing there in front of him. Both of them home after so long. “You were the one I saw in the courtyard the other day, weren’t you?”

 

She handed him his sword back and gave a guilty nod. “I wasn’t ready to talk to you yet. I needed to see how… life was around here.”

 

That had him scowling, though he supposed he understood. He'd been back a fortnight and still felt odd. “What changed your mind? Why seek me out, now?”

 

Arya tilted her head. “You have an important meeting tomorrow. I thought you could use an ally that was family.”

 

He heaved a sigh. “Have you talked to Sansa?”

 

“No, but I’ve heard enough,” she answered quietly. “I’ve been watching the keep. The people. My family. Seems you have a rather unique bond with the Dragon Queen.”

 

Jon felt a blush color his cheeks. “How much have you been watching?”

 

“Not that ,” she responded with a roll of her eyes and a blush to her own cheeks. He blew out a relieved breath. “But, I know enough," she went on. "You feel she’s trustworthy?”

 

“I do,” he said with a nod. “You’ve been watching and observing. What d'you think?”

She took a deep breath. “I think I’d like to meet her, face to face.”

 

“Before or after supper?”

 

“Well, I think once word gets out that I’m here, I won’t have the time to meet her the way I would choose.”

 

“Did you see her before you came down here?”

 

“She was heading towards her dragons,” she told him, grinning.

 

He smiled. “Then let’s introduce you," he said and waved her forward.






Chapter Text


 

I once kneeled in shaking thrill

I chase the memory of it still, of every chill

Chided by that silence of a hush sublime

Blind to the purpose of the brute divine

But you were mine

Staring in the blackness at some distant star

The thrill of knowing how alone we are, 

unknown we are

To the wild and to the both of us

I confessed the longing I was dreaming of

Some better love, but there's no better love

Beckons above me and there's no better love

That ever has loved me, there's no better love

Darling, feel better love

Feel better love

And I've never loved a darker blue

Than the darkness I have known in you, 

own from you

You, whose heart would sing of anarchy

You would laugh at meanings, guarantees, 

so beautifully

When our truth is burned from history

By those who figured justice in fond memory, witness me

Like fire weeping from a cedar tree

Know that my love would burn with me

We'll live eternally

'Cause there's no better love

That beckons above me, there's no better love

That ever has loved me, there's no better love

So darling, feel better love

'Cause there's no better love

That's laid beside me, there's no better love

That justifies me, there's no better love

So darling, darling, feel better love

Feel better love

 

Better Love

Hozier



Jon had to repress the urge to wrap his arm around her shoulders as they walked out of the castle. He clenched his fists, ignoring everything but the small figure at his side. She was alive. As real as he was. He was half afraid if he blinked she might disappear. She looked tired, in need of a good bath and several good meals, but she seemed well. Her stride quick like his, but she appeared even lighter on her feet. 

 

He worried at her comment about using her sword once or twice. Was she in a fight? Had she been properly trained? He nearly shook his head, knowing she'd been on the run and doubting there were an abundance of teachers on the road. Whatever had happened, she'd obviously made it through.

 

She'd been there for who knew how long, watching them. His chest ached, wondering why she hadn't felt like she could make her presence known. 

 

But if she’d been watching she probably knew of the animosity between himself and Sansa. Perhaps she thought he would treat her as such. He wished he knew how to reassure her. She was nothing like Sansa, never had been. She’d always treated him with love and respect, and he hoped she could say the same about him. 

 

As they exited the keep, she cast a glance over her shoulder. “Is it strange?” she asked softly.

 

“What?”

 

“Being Lord of Winterfell?”

 

He nodded and heaved a sigh. “I’m only a Lord because the Queen chooses to call me one.”

 

“She appears to be big on choice,” she said. “I rather respect that about her.”

 

“How long have you been here?” he asked, his curiosity no longer able to be silenced. “Why didn’t you seek me out sooner?”

 

She was quiet for a moment and took a deep breath. “I arrived three days before Lady Olenna. I'd heard you and Sansa appeared to be at odds over the Dragon Queen. I wanted to see what the reason was. To know if we would have similar problems.”

 

He stopped and it took her a moment to notice. She had to turn back to him. “We won’t,” he told her adamantly. 

 

“As long as I like your queen, right?”

 

“There is no condition on it,” he said softly. 

 

“Don’t say things you can’t make certain,” she replied.

 

He sighed, mouth pressed into a frown. Bearing Sansa's animosity had been hard enough, he wasn't sure he could handle it if Arya joined her against him. No , he was certain of it. He squinted up at the pale sun above them, covered in gauzy grey clouds wondering what to confess and how. Needing this sister to understand, hoping and praying to gods he was no longer so sure of that she would. 

 

His eyes dropped to hers again and she stared back, eerily calm for the wild child he once knew–unmoving, hands clasped behind her, not a blink made, expression so serene it was slightly scary. But as he looked, he could see the little girl that had been so dear to him, fleeting and flickering, almost as if she was some woodland sprite bouncing about being naughty and showing herself when she should stay hidden. 

 

Surely that part of her still clung to the bond they had shared, that unconditional love and trust and belief in him, that he returned to her. They'd always had each other's backs, he had to believe they still would. 

 

"I love her."

 

"I know."

 

He chuffed. Of course she did. He was never good at keeping secrets from her, she always saw right through him. He gave her a smile, eyebrows raised, his heart happy and nearly weightless for the first time in ages. "I'm going to marry her. If she'll have me."

 

There was a slight upturn in the corner of her mouth, a small twinkle in her eyes. His heart got lighter still. "I'm not surprised."

 

He couldn't contain himself any longer and wrapped her in another hug, emotions getting the best of him. She returned it, squeezing harder than he felt her skinny arms should be able to. 

 

"I shouldn't be surprised you're here, I should've known you would make it," he rasped out, kissing her head.

 

She tightened her hold on him before pulling 

away. "Yeah, you should have, but it wasn't always easy."

 

He palmed the back of her head, searched her dark eyes. "Are you okay?"

 

"What would you say if I asked you the same?"

 

A rush of air left him, his chest restricting painfully, his own demons rising up to mix with the dark imaginings of hers. "That I'm better now than I was?" he finally whispered.

 

Her smile was small, but there all the same. "Me too."

 

He hugged her once more, he just couldn't seem to stop. "I can't put into words how happy I am to have you home."

 

"I'm happy too, but can we go see the dragons now?"

 

He laughed, loudly, letting the happiness fill him up. She laughed along with him. Though mostly silent, her eyes still danced with light. "Aye, c'mon. Let's go see the dragons." 

 

"How is it, flying on one?" she asked a moment later. 

 

"Saw that, did you?" She nodded and smirked. His smile widened. "It's amazin'. Like nothin' I've ever known. I don't know why she hasn't flown off and stayed in the skies."

 

"You say that like you've thought about it."

 

"Aye, I have. There's nothin' but freedom up there. All the weights fall off. Comin' back down is… depressing."

 

She laughed at that. "I thought you liked being depressed," she teased. He cut his eyes at her, making her giggle and it was almost as if they'd never left home, hadn't been apart for too many miserable years. "What was it like when he bonded to you?" she asked.

 

He pulled a face. "What? Who?" 

 

"The dragon, stupid."

 

Something queer tugged on his mind and he missed a step, the crunch of the snow under his heavy boot loud in his ears. "He isn't bonded to me," he protested. "The queen told him to let me ride him, like I told Ghost to watch over her."

 

Why was everyone having such a hard time with that?

 

"It doesn't work that way and you know it. Have you forgotten our lessons?" she scoffed, rolling her eyes. "The Targaryens were our favorites. You wanted to be Daeron, and I wanted to be Visenya."

 

"Aye, I remember."

 

She stopped, giving him a look that had him thinking she believed him a dolt. "So you remember that dragons bonded to their riders. And all of those riders were of…" She nodded her head and rolled her hand in the air, prodding him to finish her sentence. 

 

They'd always done that–knew what the other would say before they said it. This time was no different, except for the gut punch of truth that came with it. 

 

"Valyrian blood," he whispered, the air leaving him and his head simply spinning.

 

Davos had tried to tell him, Tyrion too. Why he'd been blind to it he didn't know. Rhaegal had been inquisitive of him from the moment she introduced them, allowed him on his back seemingly without a care, connected to his mind as easily as Ghost, perhaps even more so. Why had he pushed it all away?

 

Arya's hand came to rest on his arm and the world attempted to right itself. "Maybe that's why he wouldn't talk about her," she offered and he only stared at her, too stunned to speak. "Your mother, she had to be… He kept quiet so you'd be safe."

 

He shook his head, all of it just too damn much. "The only reason he'd need to keep me safe is if I was a Targaryen. Do I look like a Targaryen to you?" he chided, waving a hand over himself. He was getting angry, he didn't want to be angry. Not now, not with her.

 

She crossed her arms over her chest and raised an eyebrow. "No, but they weren't the only ones with Valyrian blood, and besides, there were a few Targaryens that didn't have her coloring."

 

His head was spinning again, as if the ground had tilted under his feet. He scrubbed his hands over his face and drew in a couple of deep breaths. He didn't have time for this, none of them did, and what did it matter? He'd never know the truth. That died along with their father. 

 

He met her steely gaze again before walking on toward the dragons. She hopped to attention and followed after him. "It doesn't matter," he told her, once she'd caught up.

 

"Sure it does. We might be able to figure out who she was with a little digging and the right books. Haven't you always wanted to know?"

 

"Of course," he sighed, "but I'll never know. Not for certain. And it wouldn't make any difference anyway. I'm still a Snow."

 

It didn't matter. He'd gone all his life without knowing, he could live the rest of it the same. Knowing wouldn't change a thing.

 

They had reached the dragons, and found Dany sitting on the ground between Drogon and Viserion, humming to them as she rubbed their scaley hides. She smiled at him and her presence immediately made him feel better, soothed all the nerves Arya had set on edge. He shouldn’t be surprised at this point. His heart always felt full to bursting by simply being near her. 

 

Rhaegal stretched his great head out and nudged him with his snout. He ran his hand along his jaw, trying to ignore the warm crackling that tickled the edges of his mind and twisted the truth deeper. But it wouldn't be denied, so he gave in, sending Rhaegal his happiness at seeing him as a last test. The dragon clicked and purred in response, bumping him in the chest and nearly knocking him on his arse. 

 

Arya and Daenerys laughed at him as he steadied his footing and stared at Rhaegal in wonder. He was a dragonrider, a true rider. Bonded to an amazing beast. Seven fucking hells.

 

"Told you," Arya whispered behind him.

 

He met Daenerys' eyes, glowing bright as a summer sky back at him. “Your Grace,” he greeted her warmly.

 

“My Lord." She stood and brushed the snow from her backside while looking curiously at Arya, eyes darting back and forth between her and him. Drogon had raised up behind her, looking prickly. Dany calmed him with a smooth stream of Valyrian. Hearing her speak it never failed to stir him.

 

Focusing on anything other than the tightening of his leathers–another thing that always seemed to happen around her–he gave her a bright smile and made to introduce his sister. "Your Grac—". 

 

"They're amazing," Arya blurted out, cutting him off. 

 

A hint of a smile formed on Dany's pretty lips, Arya's obvious awe and enthusiasm appreciated. "I must agree, though as their mother, I am a bit biased."

 

"Well, if there's anyone alive that doesn't think so, they deserve to become a snack for them," his sister went on, dark eyes dazed and wide as she continued to stare at the dragons, all three doing the same to her.

 

Dany turned to him, smirking, but not without raising her eyebrows in silent question.

 

He grinned back, too happy to contain it. “Your Grace, this is my sister, Arya.”

 

Her eyes widened in surprise, smile instantly  bright, the usually queenly composure broken for a moment. If he wasn't mistaken her beautiful eyes even glossed over before she pulled them from his and slipped her mask back on. “My lady,” she greeted Arya with a bow of her head. "It is so good to meet you."

 

Arya shifted on her feet and bowed. “Your Grace. You as well. I’m not much of a lady, though. No need to call me one."

 

Daenerys stepped closer to them, smiling fully again, eyes still flickering between them. He could see how pleased she was for him, the warmth and happiness shining in her ocean eyes every time they met his. He felt a pang in his heart that she would never have family return to her, but he'd give her all of one he could. Arya for a sister, him for a husband, and if the gods were good, a child, or children of their own someday.

 

“You’d get along rather well with Lady Brienne,” she noted, gazing back at Arya.

 

His sister gave a small smile. “We’ve met before. She’s Sansa’s sworn sword, isn’t she?”

 

“Aye," he answered. "Rescued Sansa and Theon from Ramsay’s men when they fled Winterfell.”

 

“I heard you killed him."

 

He shook his head. “No. That was Sansa. I just beat him half to death first."

 

She raised an eyebrow. “Really? I didn’t think she'd get her hands dirty.”

 

“Technically she had his dogs eat him.”

 

Arya seemed impressed, but the fleeting expression disappeared quickly and she turned her eyes to Daenerys once more, her gaze lingering on the queen who didn’t so much as flinch beneath her scrutiny. “I heard of you while I was in Braavos.”

 

“Braavos?” Jon blurted, stunned by a revelation. "How'd you—?"

 

“There’s a lot to tell you,” she said softly, glancing at him for only a moment before turning back to Daenerys. “I heard how you freed Yunkai and Meereen. That you had a Dothraki horde, an Unsullied force, the Spider, and the Imp all in your service. That you freed slaves. Killed the slavers."

 

Dany's eyes met his. “I’m sure some of the stories were exaggerated.”

 

His sister stepped forward, a tiny furrow between her brows. “Is it true you locked up your dragons after a burnt child was brought to you?” Daenerys stiffened, licking her lips as she gave a small nod. “But you also destroyed the Masters and left the Second Sons to control Meereen in your stead?”

 

“Yes, that’s true as well.”

 

“You could have come years before you did. Why didn’t you?”

 

Daenerys took a deep breath. “The simple answer is that the people there needed me.”

 

“Even though your ancestral seat was here?”

 

“I don’t care to see people suffer. I was afraid they would slip back into chains if I left then. So, I stayed to ensure stability.”

 

Arya tilted her head as she examined her and Jon felt an overwhelming sense of protectiveness toward her. However, Dany didn’t so much as shift a muscle until Drogon nudged her with his snout. She rubbed her hand over his black hide and leaned her head against his.

 

“When I finally left Meereen, it was with an understanding from the remaining masters that if they attempted to take back the city, I would return and burn them in their homes," she told his sister. "I left the Second Sons there to ensure peace until the people could decide how they wanted to be ruled.”

 

“Allowing the people the rule?" Arya questioned. "That’s a novel concept for a queen.”

 

Daenerys straightened, giving his sister her full attention. “I didn’t always want to rule. I just wanted a home. I am what I had to become.”

 

He shook his head. “You are what you were born to be,” he said softly.

 

She gave him a smile, the pinkness in her cheeks growing from more than the cold. “Your brother consistently tells me he’s not a poet yet he says such pretty words.”

 

Arya rolled her eyes. “Then he’s definitely different than I remember," she said and snorted, loud and unladylike. She hadn't changed much and he was glad of it. "You stuck your foot in your mouth all the time, when you weren’t brooding anyway.”

 

He scowled at her. “In my defense, I had plenty of reasons to brood.”

 

“And now?” Arya asked, smirking.

 

He smiled at her. “Fewer than yesterday.”

 

“Will you join us for supper in the hall? I was just about to go in," Daenerys asked, her smile captivating. But then he found everything about her to be captivating. 

 

Arya looked down at her boots. “I should probably let Sansa know I’m here.”

 

Daenerys’ eyes widened at that and flickered to Jon and back to Arya. “She doesn’t know?” Arya shook her head and Dany let out an exasperated laugh. “Well, off with you, then,” she said with a wave of her hand. "I look forward to getting to speak with you more later."

 

Arya gave her a small smile. “As you wish, Your Grace.” She turned and made her way toward the Keep again, throwing him a smirk over her shoulder, her pace sluggish. She'd wait for him.

 

He stepped closer to Dany, not bothering to keep it proper. Arya had been watching them for days anyway. He pulled her close and kissed her, needing an outlet for all his swirling emotions. 

 

She gave a soft chuckle when he finally released her, gentle fingers stroking his beard. "Are you happy?"

 

His eyes fell closed and he pressed their foreheads together. "You've no idea," he whispered.

 

"I'm happy for you."

 

He kissed her again, soft and swift tastes of her full lips. He needed to go, but hated he had to. The want to drag her with him was almost too much to resist, but one sister for certain would not appreciate her presence. “I suppose I won’t see you for supper," he lamented.

 

“That’s quite alright, I’ll find you after,” she said with a smile. "Now go be with your sisters." She shoved him away gently and he relented.

 

She went back to petting her dragons and humming to them and he watched her as he backed away, so small and singular amongst her sons, worrying about her being alone. But Ghost was close by to protect her. Not that she truly needed it when she was around the dragons. They’d burn the world for her. He understood that completely. He didn’t think he’d ever stop seeking revenge if something happened to her. If someone made the mistake of coming after her again. 

 

Jon caught up with Arya who was chuckling at him and shaking her head. “I never thought I would see you falling all over yourself for someone.”

 

“I’m not falling over myself,” he said gruffly.

 

“Does she know you’re in love with her, yet?”

 

“You mean have I told her? No. Am I going to? Yes,” he said with a deep exhale. “Tomorrow. We have an… issue, and I’m glad you’re here now. I could use some back up.”

 

“You don’t need me, but I’ll be at your side,” she said with a nod. They both went silent as they walked back through the gates and she looked up at the main Keep. “I wonder how she’ll react. The last time Sansa and I saw one another, it didn’t go well.”

 

“She seemed happy to see me when she arrived at Castle Black. She could surprise you.”

 

Arya turned to him. “I know it’s tense between you, and that has to do with your relationship with Daenerys...”

 

“It’s more than that,” he said as he stopped her inside the threshold of the door. He took a deep breath, deciding he needed to be completely honest with her and his suspicions about Sansa. “She received a raven the day before we went into battle that let her know Daenerys had landed in White Harbor and was coming to our aid. She also knew Littlefinger was camped at Moat Calin with the forces from the Eyrie. She didn’t tell me about either of them and having them could have saved thousands of lives, not to mention Rickon’s.” 

 

She stood quiet for a long moment, frowning, but stoic enough he couldn't read her feelings on the news. “I saw him in the maester’s room,” she finally said, voice nearly lifeless. “He’d gotten so tall.”

 

He nodded, mouth pressed tight as he swallowed hard. “Ramsay led him out on a rope,” he started but shook his head. She didn't need to hear and he didn't want to tell her. He cleared his throat. “If we’d had the dragons or the Dothraki, or even the Calvary of the Eyrie, it might have changed everything.”

 

She was staring at him, dark eyes searching. “Any word about Bran?”

 

He shook his head. “One of my brothers from the Night’s Watch, Sam, let him and a few others beyond the Wall a few years ago. Nothing since.”

 

“It’s the three of us, then. The last surviving children of Ned Stark.” She sighed and lowered her head. “I was in the square. Yoren grabbed me and hid my face, but… I heard it. Heard Sansa screaming.”

 

He looked away from her and tried to keep the tears at bay, the ache in his chest whenever he thought about what happened to their father filling him. Knowing she'd been there… The pain in his heart was as real as the steel blade that had pierced it not long ago. 

 

“Wasn’t as bad as what they did to Robb,” she whispered and his head snapped up and dark eyes met his. 

 

“You were there?” he asked, the few words strained and stunted. 

 

She nodded. “The Hound had me. Was going to ransom me. I saw them kill Grey Wind,” her voice took on a strange tone, detached and far away. “I could hear my mother scream. I was almost inside when the Hound stopped me.” She looked away from him. “They put Grey Wind’s head on his body.”

 

He could take no more and pulled her against him, holding her tightly. She was tense at first but then relaxed in his arms. He gave them both the chance to grieve, to have someone else to share the pain with. He hated she’d been there. Would give anything to change it for her. She was a child who had lost so much and now a woman he didn’t know. He would do everything in his power to protect her from ever knowing such pain again, no matter how much she protested.

 

When she finally pulled away, there was a firm resolve on her features. The stoic look reminded him so much of their father that he felt his heart lurch once again. He’d missed her more than he could even put into words. 

 

“I suppose we should see Sansa,” she said firmly, letting him know she was done rehashing her past, for now.

 

He gave a nod and a small, reassuring smile. “If you’re ready.” 

 

At her nod they started through the Keep once more. Jon knew where she was without having to ask anyone. Sansa stayed in her solar, speaking with different lords and ladies throughout the day. The same ones who had curt words about the Dragon Queen being in the North. That was fine with him. Let them say what they wanted. If they did as Tyrion suspected and declared for him, he’d bend the knee and have something to give Daenerys besides himself. Then again, if they didn’t, he’d declare it anyway. Stop denying himself the one thing he wanted most in the world because of some misguided notion of not belonging. Tyrion was right. It was her choice and he’d ask her.

 

As they approached her door, he saw Brienne take in who was at his side. Her shock pushed her a step back toward the wall as she stared at Arya, stunned. Jon smiled slightly. “I had about the same reaction."

 

"Tis good to see you alive and well, My Lady," Brienne finally managed to speak.

 

Arya nodded. "Suppose I should thank you for saving my sister. At least one of us let you fulfill mother's wishes."

 

The two stared off, some silent conversation going on that Jon wasn't privy to. When it didn't seem like it would end anytime soon he cleared his throat. "Is she alone?”

 

Brienne's bright blue eyes tore away from his sister's and over to him. She gave a nod. “She is," she answered, reaching up and knocking on the door. They were bid to enter. 

 

He looked at Arya and smirked as Brienne opened the door. “You first.”

 

She took a deep breath, cut her eyes at him even as she gave him a smile, and walked over the threshold. He walked in behind her as the sound of a chair scraping hard across the floor filled the room. Sansa was staring at their little sister, her blue eyes shining with tears. She stood slowly from her chair and walked around the desk. They both hesitated for only a moment and then they were hugging one another fiercely. When they pulled away Sansa looked at him with amazement on her face. He knew how that felt. It was thumping through his heart as well. 

 

“It suits you," Arya said, "Lady Stark.”

 

Sansa didn’t waiver, but her head tilted. “Does it bother you?”

 

Arya shook her head. “No. I was never going to be a lady.” They were all silent for a long minute, sharing looks, delighted and distressed at once. Jon was certainly at a loss for words, being together again, at home … was overwhelming. They had to feel the same. “I heard you killed Joffrey,” Arya spoke again, before the quiet could turn deafening.

 

“I didn’t. I wish I had.”

 

“I hated to hear someone else had done it. No matter how long my list got he was always the first name.”

 

“What list?” Jon asked.

 

“Of people I’m going to kill,” she answered, her tone so flat and even that it momentarily frightened him. Sansa laughed though and Arya followed suit, but there was no mirth behind it which led him to believe there was more truth in her words than they knew.

 

“I’m glad you’re here,” Sansa said and they hugged once more. This one less tentative. 

 

Jon refrained from joining them, his spinning mind keeping other thoughts away. He was beyond happy to have her back, felt mostly secure that she would support him as she'd said she would, but he had to wonder what would happen now. How things would change. If Sansa would feel threatened by her as well, or if together they could bring her around.

 

Arya had always been so certain she was destined for more than being a lady to a lord. She wanted to ride and fight and hunt. She didn’t want to sew patterns on pillows or decorate tables. She was an outcast for it. It was one of the reasons they got on so well. Both black sheep of the family. But with only the three of them, was Sansa that now?

 

“Did you just arrive?” she asked.

 

Arya shook her head. “I’ve been here a few days. Watching.”

 

Sansa straightened, her icy eyes flashing with something close to fear he thought. “Watching what?”

 

“My family,” she answered as she looked between them. “What’s left of it,” she said softly. “I wanted to see if there was a place for me here.”

 

“There is and always will be,” Sansa said emphatically, before Jon could utter a word. 

 

That was encouraging. He nodded and gave their little sister a smile. “She’s right. This is your home. Just as it is ours."

 

Her returning look was skeptical. “I suppose we shall see, won’t we?”

 

---

 

“I was so angry with you,” Sansa laughed despite her words as Arya recounted the time he'd covered himself in flour to make them think he was a ghost. 

 

Their family dinner had been going rather well. The animosity that existed between him and Sansa momentarily forgotten as they told stories of their past.

 

Jon drank his ale and gave a shrug. “It was funny.”

 

“And very unlike you,” Arya said with a smirk. “You’re still broody.”

 

He shrugged again. “Life is difficult and I have a lot of things weighing on me. I’m allowed to brood,” he countered as he nudged her foot under the table.

 

“Less broody lately,” Sansa murmured with a sip of her wine.

 

Arya chuckled. “Made it through dinner without bringing her up. I have to say I’m amazed by your restraint.”

 

Sansa’s eyes locked with his for a fleeting moment before she quickly looked away. “I didn’t bring anyone up.”

 

“Jon’s not as broody and we both know why,” their sister taunted her as she leaned back in her chair and folded her arms over her chest, slumped and so Arya-like he smiled.

 

“Are we going to pretend I’m not here?” he asked, lifting his ale to his lips and taking a hearty swallow. He had a feeling he was going to need a lot more. The peace they'd had was suddenly walking on thin ice, his sisters staring daggers at one another. 

 

“What don’t you like about her?” Arya asked, ignoring him, just as he suspected. “I’m truly curious.”

 

Sansa sat back in her seat as well, though stiff and proper, hands folded neatly in her lap. So like her mother, but somehow worse . Her face had gone stone cold, void of all emotions save one. One she'd always felt towards them both. Animosity, bitter and biting. He took another deep swallow of ale. “I worry if she has our best interests at heart,” she answered.

 

Jon wanted to come to Dany’s defense, but he felt like Arya might be going somewhere with her questions. And gods knew no defending or reasoning he'd done before had worked anyway. He was fine with letting someone else have a go at her.

 

“What makes you think that?”

 

“She doesn’t know the North. Or it’s people," Sansa was quick to elaborate. "She’s not from here and doesn’t understand our ways.”

 

Arya tilted her head, her round face not showing an ounce of contention. She either didn't feel any or had become very good at hiding her emotions. He hoped for the latter. He used to be able to read her like a book. “I’ve seen her with the Northmen, drinking that swill Tormund thinks is ale. I’ve seen Lyanna Mormont speaking with her on more than one occasion. She takes her council, if I’m not mistaken,” she said, tossing him a questioning look. He nodded. “And, correct me if I’m wrong, but she hasn’t asked you to bend the knee, has she?”

 

Sansa shook her head. “No.”

 

"Nor you?" she asked, cutting her eyes to him once more. 

 

"No."

 

She turned back to their sister. “I think you’re not giving her a chance because you’re threatened by her and the power she can wield." She dropped her hands in her lap, focused on Sansa who shifted beneath her gaze. “I think you don’t like that she instantly sought out Jon’s council and not yours because you might have been able to appeal to her as a female leader but you barely have a voice now that our brother has been solely occupying her time.” There was a bit of teasing to her tone, but her eyes never left their sister. 

 

“Some of that is true,” Sansa admitted.

 

“You think she would have granted you independence if not for Jon?”

 

“I think the conversation would have been open if he wasn’t circumventing me.”

 

He bit down hard on the inside of his cheek to keep his mouth shut, turning away so he didn't kill her with the glare that had to be glowing in his eyes. His goblet was quickly drained. 

 

Arya let out a heavy sigh. “I hate to tell you this but I’m with Jon on this one. If she asked you to do it, you’d be honor bound...”

 

A noise of derision left Sansa. "Of course you do. And I suppose you’d give over our home that we won back—“

 

“You won it back because of her .” Arya shook her head as he got up from his chair and went to refill his ale. “The battle was lost without her, right?” she asked loud enough he knew the question was meant for him. He turned and could see the dark look in her eyes as they locked with his. He gave her a nod. Her gaze went back to their sister. “That means when she rode in here and saved Jon’s life, our family became indebted to her. At the least you owe her your fealty. At the most, you give her the North tomorrow.”

 

Sansa sneered at her. “How could you be so calm about this?" Always avoiding. Asking questions instead of giving responses. "You know she’s a Targaryen," she snarled.

 

Jon was done, he stepped forward, quickly enough it startled Sansa, but not Arya. She held up a hand, halting him. “Yes, she is, but so what? She never knew the Targaryens that hurt our family, they're long dead. But she’s here, Sansa, with nothing else making her come but a letter from you requesting her aid. That doesn't sound like someone out to hurt us."

 

"She's playing the game, Arya. If you think she came only out of the goodness of her heart, you're a fool."

 

"Even so, she could leave here, easily take King's Landing then turn around and declare us in open rebellion for not declaring for her. Instead she’s here, saved our brother’s life, and from what I've seen intends to help us all survive this dead army I keep hearing about.” She huffed out a breath and sat back in her seat. “Granted, I don’t know everything. But I know enough that if she were to ask, you would be the one who should bend the knee.” 

 

Ice blue eyes cut to him, narrowed and insolent. “I doubt she asks. I think she’s found something she wants more than the North.”

 

Gods, he just wanted to grab her up and shake her.

 

“I believe you’re right," Arya cut over his anger, her own laced within her words. "But she’s a queen. They rarely settle for anything less than what they truly want,” she folded her arms over her chest, "and for once I think one could say what this queen wants is also what she deserves."

 

---

 

Jon arrived well before everyone else, taking his seat at the head table. Arya joined not long after, obviously having had a bath at some point. She wore new clothes, Needle still at her hip. Her cape draped down her right arm leaving her left free to use her little sword. She looked more grown up now than she had the day before. She stood there for a moment, keen eyes taking in the hall and all those coming in before she took a seat in the chair at his side. 

 

“Feels strange to be sitting here.”

 

“You could have been sitting here days ago,” he reminded with a tilt of his head. 

 

“You’ve said that. I don’t regret anything.”

 

"I'm not trying to make you regret it.”

 

"Is the Queen not coming?" she asked, looking past him to the empty seat at his left. Her counsel were all there, scattered about the hall, failing at their attempt to blend in, but not Daenerys. 

 

"She didn't want her presence to cause problems for us. And we thought their true feelings were more likely to come to the surface without her here." 

 

They'd decided in the wee hours of the morning. He'd woke her with his tossing and turning, his nerves not letting him rest. She'd soothed him with a few words, then with her body. Draining him to the dregs with hands and mouth, and her luscious cunt until he drifted off into a dreamless sleep, his arms wrapped around her. He'd nearly told her he loved her again, but managed to keep his tongue behind his teeth. He'd decided nothing was heavier than unsaid words though. Regardless of how this bloody summit went, he'd be telling her soon. Very soon. 

 

“Are you nervous?” came his sister's quiet voice in his ear.

 

“Aye," he admitted, turning to her and giving a nod. "Don’t you think I should be?”

 

She shook her head. “I think Sansa should be. I think she has an unrealistic expectation of what’s going to happen.”

 

“What d'you think will happen?”

 

“I think people stick with what they know. You're our father's son, no matter your birth. Sansa's a woman who married two enemies of House Stark, willingly or unwillingly. You may have allowed the Wildlings south, but you fought to take back our home, to rid the North of a tyrant. Sansa asked for the Queen’s help. You’re more her ally, now, but she wouldn’t be here if not for Sansa.”

 

Jon leaned back in his chair, scowling. “You think they’ll blame her for bringing in a foreign queen and her armies, that saved us once, and certainly will again?" he hissed.

 

“Calm down," she snarled back. "That's not my opinion of her." She cut her eyes toward the growing crowd in front of them. "But you know they're all too arrogant to believe they needed her, or will need her. And I think Sansa’s not as beloved as she hopes she is and no amount of lobbying from Littlefinger has changed that,” she added quietly. "He can whisper into all the ears he likes, no one trusts him."

 

He sat forward again, leaning close to her, an elbow on the arm of his chair. His next questions couldn't be overheard. "And when they know what you know? That I love her, and I'm going to marry her no matter what they decide here today?"

 

"Not all of them will like it, but I think you already know that."

 

He did. They'd do a lot more than not like it though, they'd hate it. 

 

"It's why you've waited right? Let them name you king first. Like they did Robb. It makes the most sense. Then you can unite the houses…" Arya went on in a whisper. "You'll be her king. Once they calm down, if they have any intelligence at all, they'll see it's what's best for the North, for all the kingdoms."

 

He couldn't deny her words filled him with pride, but he still had to ask. "You really believe that?"

 

"I do," she answered, placid as a millpond. "You'll be a good king, Jon. And I already know she's a good queen. While all I heard of her over in Essos would probably be enough for me, and I would like to get to know her better, I've seen her in action now…" She shrugged and made a face, one that clearly stated she didn't understand why he'd doubted her word. 

 

He pulled his lips between his teeth as he swallowed down the emotions rising up, gave the chair arm a few gentle bumps with his fist, and nodded. "Thank you," he told her, once he felt it safe to speak. 

 

"You're welcome."

 

The door opened behind them and Sansa walked in, a small smile forming on her face once she spotted them. “As much as things change, they stay the same," she said in way of greeting. "You two are still plotting together, I see.”

 

Arya smirked. “Only against you.”

 

Sansa stopped, her face a mask of distress as her eyes darted between them both. Arya started laughing and even Jon smiled. “Believe me, sister, if I wanted you dead it wouldn’t be something I'd need anyone to plot with over,” Arya said amused.

 

Eyes wide and wary, Sansa took her seat, mumbling something about 'weird as ever' under her breath. Brienne and Podrick came in after her,  Davos and Tormund too had entered the hall, filing in amongst the other lords. He scanned each one, gave a nod of his head to Ned Umber and Alys Karstark. Both gave him nervous smiles in return. Soon enough everyone was seated. 

 

It was time. 

 

He stood, drawing all eyes, the murmur of voices ceasing quickly. It almost felt as if he were back at Castle Black, leading his brothers, the faces staring back at him the same–half affable, the rest aloof. His scars began to itch and burn, his heart rabbit quick behind his ribs, but he ignored them as best he could. “My Lords and Ladies, thank you for coming all this way, and it is with a light heart that I also get to welcome my sister, Arya Stark, back home to Winterfell. She returned to us just yesterday."

 

A rumble grew as the group eyed Arya, hands smacking wood, boots and scabbards thumping stone. He looked over at her with a small smile, but allowed it to fade away at the serious expression she held. She didn't care to be the center of attention anymore than he did. 

 

Turning his attention back toward them, the people grew quiet again. “My family and I appreciate the journey you all made to get here. And even though the future is uncertain, it eases my mind that we can all come together to find a common purpose.” 

 

Wanting to start with the easiest things first, he looked to Lord Umber. “Ned Umber. Alys Karstark. Please step forward.” The two of them stood and walked to the center of the Hall together, their steps tentative, expressions even more so, despite the assurances he'd given them beforehand. He smiled in hopes of calming them. “Our houses were allies for hundreds of years, however, recent events severed those ties. But not from decisions either of you made on behalf of your house. We are what’s left of our families and I believe we should do our best to leave the world better than we found it. That said, I will not punish a son or daughter for the sins of their fathers. Nor will I remove them from castles that have been home to their families for hundreds of years. So, do you swear, Ned and Alys, to honor House Stark, as our bannermen, now and always?”

 

Ned and Alys withdrew their swords, the blades wobbling before the points landed with solid thunks to the floor, the pair's skinny arms too weak to bear the weight properly. He'd see about having better suited ones made for them. They each dropped to a knee, wide eyes focused on him. “Now and always,” they repeated at his encouraging smile.

 

Several of the men beat their fists on the tables and he gave a small nod to them both. They rose back up. “The alliance between Houses Karstark, Umber, and Stark is restored. We look forward to keeping it that way for generations to come." The two smiled and returned to their seats, looking much relieved. 

 

He wished he felt the same. Instead he braced himself, taking in a deep breath, his spine going stiff. The rest of the summit was sure to be less than enjoyable. “I know you have questions and concerns about the North and my family and I will hear them,” he said as he took his seat once more.

 

Lord Cerwyn was surprisingly the first to stand, a shadow of the man he'd called father. “What will happen with the Dreadfort? I say we tear it down, or let it rot after what that bastard did to our families," he sneered. 

 

Jon heard Ramsay had forced Cley to watch as he'd flayed his father, mother, and uncle alive. He couldn't say he blamed him for his bitterness, but it wasn't up to him. He turned to Sansa and gave a nod. “I believe that falls to you.”

 

She straightened in her seat, her chin rising. “The Dreadfort will be given to a family that has been most loyal to House Stark. Lady Mormont, you control Bear Island, but I think you should expand to the east," she said with a smile.

 

Arya cut her eyes at him before she schooled her surprise. He didn't know what House Mormont would do with land and a castle so far from their island, but he wasn't shocked at Sansa's choice. But as he looked over at the Little Bear she seemed a bit stunned and suspicious of the gift. She stood though, and gave Sansa a solemn nod. “You honor me, my Lady.”

 

“It is my family who is honored by you," his sister returned. "You showed endless courage when we needed an ally the most. That was not forgotten.”

 

Lyanna gave another nod of her head and took her seat, one of her advisors whispering something in her ear as she did, but she said nothing else. Though her dark eyes did meet his again. They held caution, the same he felt niggling at the back of his mind. House Mormont deserved their gratitude for certain, but he had a feeling, and it seemed so did Lyanna, that Sansa's motives were for a different reason entirely. Likely as not, she was attempting to sway House Mormont to her side.

 

Lord Glover stood then and drew his attention, and everyone else's as he looked around the room, lip nearly snarling and eyes hard as they landed on Jon. “What of the Wildlings you allowed South of the Wall?” he asked, cutting and curt, not an ounce of respect to be found.

 

The Hall fell exceedingly quiet as Jon managed to hold his temper, only clenching one fist beneath the table. An exchanged glance with Tormund helped, his friend's blue eyes twinkling with mirth and mischief. No doubt, he'd love to have a go at Glover out in the yard, show him who he should respect, teach him some manners. Jon would enjoy watching it too. He flexed his hand open and closed as he held Glover's beady stare. “The Free Folk fought with us to take back our home, Lord Glover. They’re going to fight with us again when it’s most important. For that, they can stay right where they are and anything they need we will help them acquire."

 

The displeasure was immediate–voices grumbling of 'wild men ' and 'savages', judgemental stares thrown back and forth, some even rising to their feet. He wouldn't have it.

 

"Enough!" he roared, slamming his fist on the table. "I'll not hear a word against them, not in this house," he warned once all eyes came back to him. "They fought by my side, some gave their lives, all so I could take back my home… So we could take back the North from that sadistic fuck." He turned his glare onto Glover, not bothering to hide his animosity. "That's more than I can say for some of you." Glover didn't like that one bit, the muscles in his clenched jaw jumping. Jon didn't give two shits. "They're men, no different than any of the rest of us. So I'll treat them no different. And neither will anyone else while they stand on Stark land, or they'll answer to me."

 

“What of the Dragon Queen?" Glover threw back, continuing to dig himself deeper in Jon's estimation. "Have you bent the knee to her? She and her savages seem to have made themselves at home here. Is the North theirs for the taking now?"

 

The voices rose again, this time joined by scruffing benches and pounding fists. Glover smiled, and Jon decided then and there he would die, by his hands. It was just a matter of when. 

 

His eyes roamed around to Arya, Davos, Tyrion, and even Lady Olenna as more and more slurs toward Daenerys and her armies were thrown about. The Queen of Thorns stared back at him, gnarled hands clasped over the end of her cane, a haughty eyebrow raised–waiting to see what he would do. He somehow felt more judgement from her than the room full of hateful lords.

 

He stood, his chair scraping across the stones behind him. “I have not bent the knee, nor has she asked me to do so,” he barked, raising his voice over all the abhorrent rubbish they were spewing. “And what would you have me do, Lord Glover? Turn her away, deny her our hospitality?" he challenged the moment they fell silent. "Queen Daenerys came here with her dragons and her armies to help us take back our home. She did just that with only a letter from my sister asking for her help. There were no promises made in that letter and she has not asked us to make any in return."

 

Most drew back in surprise at that, wide-eyed glances exchanged. Some did not, stubbornly stuck in their suspicions.

 

"Then what does she want?" someone called out. 

 

"Doesn't matter," Glover cut in before Jon could answer. "She's a Targaryen, they can't be trusted." 

 

"And Cersei Lannister can?" Arya shot back, surprising him, and everyone else. "Who would you lot rather have for a queen, one that beheads your Lord for being a traitor, or one that comes across the Narrow Sea to help free you from a tyrant?" she asked.

 

"If she wants the Throne why hasn't she gone to take it?"

 

"Her father, the Mad King, killed your grandfather and uncle!"

 

"It's manipulation! She only did it to pull the North to her side. She doesn't know us!" 

 

That last one had definitely had a certain Lord of the Vale whispering in their ear. Little Finger stood far to the side, back against a wall to give himself a clear view of the entire Hall. He wore a satisfactory smirk. Jon added another to his list, not that he hadn't already been on it. 

 

He gazed around the room, taking in faces, worried and angry alike, and realized his next words would be heavily scrutinized, but they had to hear the truth. "She's still here because she's been with me beyond the Wall and has seen the real enemy. She knows what's coming for us all and has chosen to stay and fight with us, for us."

 

“What enemy is this you speak of?” Lord Manderly asked, rising to his feet.

 

“The Army of the Dead."

 

His words were met with cold silence and blank stares, not that he expected much different. He continued on before they found their voices. 

 

"They’re real. My brothers of the Night’s Watch and I fought them at Hardhome, the Free Folk too. They killed thousands of men, women, and children, then raised them up to fight again. They're moving south with a force the likes of which none of you have ever seen. When the Queen and I found them, their leader, the Night King, nearly took her dragon out of the sky with an ice spear. This threat is real and it’s coming for us all. We need to band together, all of us. The Northern houses, the Free Folk, the Dragon Queen's armies, and more if we can get them. It’s the only hope we have to not join his ranks.”

 

"That's nonsense, just children's stories!" someone shouted with a hearty laugh. Others joined in, throwing barbs and jokes back and forth, their amusement not surprising, but setting his teeth on edge nonetheless. 

 

Tormund stood, a few of the Free Folk with him. "He's telling the truth!" he shouted over them. "You lot may be laughing now, but you'll be shitting yourselves when they come pouring through that wall by the thousands and straight for you with their glowing blue eyes, their screaming, and their rattling bones covered in rot," his friend chided them. 

 

That got more than a few of them to shut up and sit back. 

 

"Call us liars if you want," Jon added, keeping the momentum going. "But we've seen them, we've fought them. Watched people slaughtered, only to stand back up, intent on one thing. Killing us all. The long night is coming, and the dead come with it. The Free Folk couldn't stop them, the Night's Watch can't stop them, the North alone can't stop them. But if we band together we can give the fuckers a fight. Because if we don't, the Seven Kingdoms will be nothing but a graveyard."

 

"How do we kill them if they're already dead?" Little Lord Umber stood and asked.

 

Of course a child would be the first to believe. 

 

Jon gave the boy a strained smile and took a deep breath, calming himself, before he held up a scroll. “This was sent to me yesterday by one of my brothers of the Night’s Watch. He’s at the Citadel training to become a Maester. We know that the White Walkers can be killed with Dragonglass, Valyrian steel, and fire. He found information that says there's a mountain of dragonglass on the island of Dragonstone. The Queen has already ordered men and ships be sent there to mine this glass and sent out a call for blacksmiths to shape it into weapons.” He looked out over the many faces that stared back at him, praying to the gods they would see sense. “I know many of you would believe she's here as our enemy, but she has put her armies, her dragons, and even her own life on the line to help protect us. All of us who fought against the Bolton's wouldn't be standing here had she not come. All of you would still be under the thumb of a tyrant had she not come. We have to ban—"

 

“Does this mean you will bend the knee?” Lord Manderly cut over him.

 

Suddenly Lady Mormont was on her feet, staring the Lord down. “Your son was butchered at the Red Wedding Lord Manderly and you refused the call. You swore allegiance to House Stark Lord Glover, but in their hour of greatest need you refused the call. And you, Lord Cerwyn, your father was skinned alive by Ramsay Bolton, and still you refused the call.” She looked around at them all, dark eyes sparking, nose snarled. “How soon people forget. But House Mormont remembers. I remember Jon Snow and Sansa Stark came into my hall and asked for my help. I remember Ramsay Bolton taunted all of us with how he’d kill us. I remember Jon Snow facing down an army all on his own. I remember the battle was lost until the Dragon Queen flew in on her dragons, with her armies, and saved our lives. Winterfell and the North are free because men like Jon Snow and women like Queen Daenerys fought for it,” she said as she turned her attention back to Jon and gave him a small nod. "House Mormont stands behind them both."

 

He bit back a smile, the fierce little Lady's strength and loyalty once again impressing him. 

 

Lord Glover shuffled forward after a moment of tense silence, the hostility surprisingly absent from his face. “Lady Mormont speaks harshly, but true. We didn’t aid you when we should have, I will regret that till my dying day. I can only ask forgiveness.”

 

It was an apology Jon had no desire to accept, but it was the diplomatic thing to do. “There is nothing to forgive my Lord," he said lowly, though the words tasted vile on his tongue.

 

Manderly came forward as well and looked around at the other lords. “I was wrong to not answer House Stark's call for aid. Jon Snow avenged the Red Wedding. He is the White Wolf!" He pulled his sword and knelt. "The King in the North!"

 

Glover pulled his own sword before Jon could utter a word. "House Glover will stand beside House Stark as it has for a thousand years. We know no king but the king in the North whose name is Stark.”

 

“I am not a Stark,” he corrected him.


“You’re his son. His blood runs through your veins," Glover countered and held his sword high in the air. “The King in the North!”

 

Lord Cerwyn was quick to follow suit. “The King in the North!”

 

Soon they were all on their feet, swords raised, their chanting filling the Hall, and there he was again, being given a title he hadn't asked for. Some small part of him wanted to be proud of the honor. As his eyes traveled around the room and found Tyrion's, that piece grew. His friend smirked the tiniest bit and raised his goblet to him. He was happy for him, maybe even proud. He'd been right, they'd done exactly what he said they would, not one of them even mentioning Sansa. Davos and Tormund sat behind Tyrion and their pride wasn't in question at all, both sat smiling at him as they shouted with the rest. 

 

Then he spotted Olenna, Ellaria, and Lyanna, all three staring back at him warily. They knew exactly what he did.

 

To name him King in the North after what Daenerys had done for them all was akin to the lords giving her a slap in the face. They were openly declaring their hostility towards her and attempting to trap him into doing the same.

 

He nodded to each of the ladies in turn, hoping they understood and would trust him. Then he looked at Arya, her words floating back through his mind. It's why you waited, right? She must've felt his gaze, she turned her attention to him, wearing a slight smile with an eyebrow raised in question. He knew what that question was. 

 

Would he allow them to do this and subvert them, or would he turn it down and call them fools?

 

Another question held his answer.

 

What is honor compared to a woman's love?

 

He slowly stood, glancing over at Sansa. She wore no expression at all, staring out at the men, stone still and lifeless. If he didn't have a storm of emotions to battle with himself, he might have felt sorry for her. But as it was, he didn't. 

 

He held up a hand and waited for them all to fall silent, wishing he could tell them to go fuck themselves instead. Their complete disregard of her boiled his blood, but he'd fix that soon enough. He'd ask her to be his forever, give her the North along with himself, and anyone who had a problem with his declaration could fuck off. But first he had to accept their title. He needed it, and the power behind it, despite the fury it had unleashed within him. 

 

Finally they shut up and all stood waiting. He swallowed down the bile rising in his throat and gave a nod. "Thank you my Lords. The North is my home, and I swear on my Father's honor, I will always do what's best for it," he declared solemnly, surprised he had such a tight hold of his temper. They must have expected a more enthusiastic response from him, for they all stood bewildered. He didn't care. “I ask that you all meet with Ser Davos Seaworth and let him know how many men you have that you can send to support us when the Army of the Dead arrives,” he said softly. "We'll feast tonight." 

 

He gave a nod to Ser Davos and his friend stepped forward and began taking tallies from Lord Manderly. Tyrion and Lady Olenna were already gone, the rest of her counsel as well he assumed. The Northmen began mingling together, their voices growing into a loud murmur. Tormund and his men were all smiles and headed his way, to congratulate him no doubt. He shook his head at his friend, grateful when Tormund took the hint and stopped the others coming forward. 

 

Searching for a clear path out, he made for the doorway by the hearth. He couldn't get out soon enough. 

 

“What are you going to do?” he heard from beside him and looked over his shoulder at Sansa, the fear on her face clear.

 

He turned back to her. “You look concerned,” he said softly.

 

“I am. If you declare for her now, they could kill us all.”

 

He tilted his head and shifted on his feet, his fists clenched at his side. “You truly afraid of that, or are you afraid where that leaves you?”

 

“Jon,” she said warningly.

 

He shook his head. “They did this, Sansa. Not me,” he whispered. 

 

She reached out and gripped his arm. “This is my home, too.”

 

He nodded. “It is. But these people just named me ‘king’. I’m going to do what’s best for them.”

 

“Them or you?” she sneered, letting him go.

 

“Both,” Arya said from behind him. He hadn't even realized she'd left the table. She was far too good at sneaking around. “The Army of the Dead can be killed by fire and she has three dragons. Not to mention two of the most formidable armies in the world. Use your head, sister. I trust Jon. That’s enough for me.”

 

Sansa glared at them both. “All we worked for and you’re going to give it away?”

 

He shook his head. “You asked her here. Don’t blame me for any of this. If you had your way, I’m sure I’d be dead and this decision would've been yours. But I’m alive and now I'm King and I believe she’s what we need, what this world needs. You can tell them if you want,” he said softly. “It won’t change my mind.”

 

He gave Arya a look, silently pleading with her to talk sense into their sister where he had failed so many times, then left the room, ignoring everything and everyone as he walked out.

 

Tyrion and Varys were standing at the open gate talking, both glancing out to the field. “Where is she?” he asked as soon as he reached them.

 

“Should we bow, Your Grace?” Tyrion teased. 

 

“Don’t make me stab you,” he said gruffly.

 

“Well, she heard the news and went to her dragons. Good luck. Maybe they won't eat you,” he called to his back, Jon already crossing the field at a quick trot. 

 

Drogon growled at him as he approached, appearing to be standing guard, but Jon didn't back down, he belonged with her too. He heaved a sigh to see her curled up against Viserion, Rhaegal with his head laid beside her and surprisingly, Ghost curled up at her feet. That was an interesting change from when the direwolf had first met with the dragons. 

 

Rhaegal lifted his head only a bit when he stepped into their circle, made a soft sound in his throat as he glanced at him before lowering back beside her. 

 

She looked dejected, as if she'd lost her only friend in the world, and he hated it. He didn’t fully understand their logic either, but it gave him something besides himself to give to her. Hopefully he would bring the smile back to her face soon. 

 

“Tyrion said you heard.”

 

She nodded. “Lord Commander. Lord of Winterfell. Now King in the North. Titles suit you it seems. Congratulations, Your Grace," she said softly.

 

He shook his head. “You know I don’t care about titles.”

 

“I do know that.” She looked up at him, the hurt written all over her beautiful face tearing at his insides. “It’s not really the title as much as what it means.”

 

“And I know that ,” he said as he stepped closer to her. He wanted to gather her up and heal her hurts, then and there, but he had to do this right. “I don’t agree with what they did, but I’m glad they did it.”

 

She looked up at him, something fearful flashing in her eyes. “Are you?”

 

“Stand up,” he demanded gently.

 

She straightened, giving him a scowl and shaking her head. “I don’t like being told what to do, Jon Snow."

 

He raised an eyebrow at that. “We both know that’s not true, at least not when it's me doing the telling. Now stand up, Your Grace. Please." She rolled her eyes and rubbed a hand over Viserion and Ghost in defiance before she stood in front of him, hands clasped and an eyebrow raised. He wanted to smirk, but refrained, clenching and unclenching his fist instead. “You made an offer of marriage to me—”

 

“Which you refused,” she was quick to remind.

 

“Aye, because I had nothing to offer you. Now, I do.” He took a deep shuddering breath and smiled at her, his heart hammering behind his ribs. He wondered if it might rattle itself loose from its boney cage and simply fall into her hands. It belonged to her, he supposed it didn't matter where she kept it. “I was actually planning to do this yesterday. It took everything I had when we were together not to spill it all, to tell you everything. Last night too." 

 

"Tell me what?"

 

Stepping forward, the confusion on her face pulling at him, begging him to soothe it away, he cupped her cheeks and stared into her beautiful eyes. “I love you," he whispered. She gasped and his smile widened. "You can't be shocked, surely."

 

Her hands came up and gripped his wrists, bright eyes suddenly swimming with tears. "Jon, I—"

 

He pressed his thumb over her lips. "Let me finish, I need to finish." She gave a nod and kissed his thumb, her own rubbing across the thin bones in his wrist. "I think I fell in love with you the moment I saw you,” he told her softly. “I was ready to die on that battlefield, told them not to bring me back if I did. And was fully content to live my life alone if I survived, but now, the thought of not being with you causes me physical pain.”

 

A strained noise left her as he took her hands between his and knelt in front of her. He placed a tender kiss on her knuckles. “You'll never convince me I'm good enough for you, but here I am, just a man, come to you to ask you to marry him. Not because you’re a queen or because I now have something to offer you, but because I love you," he husked, "and I have a hope that is enough.”

 

Heart in his throat he chanced a glance up at her to see her full bottom lip trapped in her teeth, eyes still swimming bright with tears. But she was smiling and he thought he might never know pain again. 

 

She removed her hands from his and cupped his face. “It's enough. You were always enough. And I will gladly marry you,” she promised and leaned forward, kissing him, taking soft sweet tastes of his mouth. “I love you, you wonderful, stubborn man,” she whispered against his lips as he rose to his feet, wrapped both arms around her and held her tight, never taking his mouth from hers, his heart full to bursting. He thought he might cry he was so happy when she broke away to laugh and gasp and cry herself, her smile so brilliant it made the sun dim in comparison. “I want more of your pretty words,” she choked, laughing still.

 

“I’m not a bloody poet,” he groused, but leaned in for another kiss. She smiled against his lips as her fingers slid through his hair. When he pulled away to look at her–because he couldn't stop looking at her–she leaned into him, her body pressed to his as if she feared he might run away from her. 

 

He never would again.

 

“When?” she breathed, fingers still playing in his curls.

 

He chuckled and kissed her forehead. "In a hurry?" She nodded up at him, her smile perfection. “When are your allies leaving?” he asked.

 

“The end of the week.”

 

“I think we can squeeze it in before that,” he assured her, his hand back against her cheek, thumb stroking over her impossibly soft skin, brushing at the corner of her smile. “What sort of wedding would you like?”

 

“I don’t care, as long as it's soon," she murmured, turning into his caress, eyes falling closed for a moment. "I don't believe in any gods, really. Do you?”

 

“My father’s Gods. The old gods.”

 

“You’ll have to educate me about the ceremony.”

 

He turned and leaned back against Rhaegal, taking her with him and it was then he realized the dragons had circled around them tighter, their huge bodies blocking out the world, as if they'd sensed their mother and her lover had needed a private moment. He was grateful and let Rhaegal know. The dragon purred, the deep rumble vibrating through them. Daenerys gave a smothered giggle, her face pressed into the fur of his cloak.

 

“Well, you’ll need someone to give you away. Perhaps Tyrion or Missandei," he said as he kissed at her temple and cheekbone, barely believing he was speaking of his own wedding. It felt surreal. But it was happening, and in a few short days at that. Gods, but his life had changed . And all because of the tiny but fierce woman in his arms. “We’ll need someone to… stand in for my father as well, to perform the ceremony.”

 

He couldn't be happier to know Arya would be there to witness it, Sansa too, if she even would, but how he wished his father could be. And Robb, and Bran, and Rickon...

 

“What about Ser Davos?”

 

He squeezed her a bit tighter and nuzzled the side of her face. “You’d choose him and not Tyrion?”

 

“Tyrion is even more of a nonbeliever than I am. I don’t feel he’d be a good candidate to marry us,” she said as she lifted her head to look at him, her hand coming up to stroke down his jaw, eyes soft and full of love for him. “Besides, Ser Davos treats you as a son. It feels only right to pay that back.”

 

He loved her more than words could express so he kissed her as if it were the first time, the last time, and all the ones in-between put together. It left them both breathless and grasping at each other. “Give me a good reason I can’t drag you to the Dothraki camp and keep you there until the whole fucking world ends,” he husked into her neck, mouthing at the pulse that was thrumming beneath her warm skin.

 

“You’re not going to deprive me of a wedding to someone I love, are you?” she whispered, giving a low moan that went straight to his cock. 

 

His hands slid over her hips and along her back, pressing them tighter together. “I won’t. I'll never deprive you of anything if I can help it," he swore, pulling back to look into her eyes, needing her to see as well hear. "I love you, Dany. I’m with you, by your side, always.”

 

“And I’m by yours,” she whispered, pulling him down for another kiss, another they didn't want to end. “Us against the world?” she breathed, once she let him go.

 

“The world is doomed,” he answered with a chuckle.

 

She laughed as well. “We can announce it at supper tonight,” she said as she stepped back from his arms though she took his hand in hers, lacing their fingers together. “How will your family take the news?” she asked, the happiness that had been glowing in her gorgeous eyes dimming more than he cared for. 

 

“Arya already knew I was going to do this. Sansa assumed I was coming to bend the knee.”

 

“You did, in a manner of speaking,” she quipped, her smirk sinful.

 

He straightened and pulled her to him again. “Anytime you want me on my knees...”

 

She gave him a wicked smile and shoved at him lightly. “Jon Snow, that’s positively sinful talk from your lips.”

 

He slid his arm around her waist. “It’s all for you. Because of you.”

 

Her smile softened as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “That goes both ways,” she whispered.

 

He leaned his head against hers and sighed. “It’s strange to feel this happy.”

 

“Get used to it," she told him, warm lips pulling at his. "I plan for us to make one another happy for a very long time.”

 

---

 

It was all she could do not to grab his hand as they sat beside one another eating dinner in the hall that evening. She could feel him glancing at her and she wanted nothing more than to drink in her fill of him. They only left the circled security of her dragons because Arya had approached, sending her sons on alert. She’d given her congratulations and even gave Daenerys a smile before dragging Jon back to his duties.

 

She didn’t know what to make of the youngest Stark, now sitting to Jon's right, quiet and observant. She obviously cared deeply for her brother, so different from their sister, but that was all Daenerys had ascertained so far. Sansa craved independence and power. She didn’t know what Arya wanted, but she would find out. They would be family, after all. 

 

Family

 

She was going to have a family. Her heart swelled at the thought. It was all she wanted. To love and be loved, to belong, and now she would. She'd almost given up hope that it would ever happen. Whether or not Sansa liked her was irrelevant at the moment. She would have someone that was hers, that loved her not because she was the Mother of Dragons or a queen who commanded armies, but because he just did. Jon loved her. Just her. 

 

She looked over at him, unable to stop herself from giving him a small smile. 

 

He returned it and for once didn’t turn away immediately. Instead, continuing to hold her gaze and she had to shift slightly in her seat at the flash of lust in his dark eyes. How she could get lost in them. She felt like a silly girl with her first love. But wasn’t that what she was? She turned from his admiring stare and reached for her goblet, sipping at her wine, hoping to calm herself. The feast had only just begun, she wouldn't make it at this rate if she didn't.

 

“Have you told Sansa?” she asked softly.

 

He nodded. “I did,” he answered, the words low and knotted. “She wasn’t happy.”

 

“I'm sorry, but there's nothing she can do about it at this point,” she said with a shrug.

 

“Nothing.” The dark pitch to his voice caused her to look at him again and she felt fire slice through her blood at the heat in his eyes. “You’re mine,” he whispered. "Nothing and no one will change that."

 

She did everything she could, pulled all of her best kept secrets to keep herself from grinning like an idiot at him and maintaining her queenly composure. “Shall we tell them?” she managed to ask after another sip of wine.

 

“Together,” he agreed, giving her a nod. They both stood at the same time and the room grew silent. “My Lords and Ladies, we want to welcome you all again to Winterfell and thank you for travelling so far," he began. "This morning, my bannermen named me King in the North.” Shouts rose up, cups and fists and feet pounding on the tables and floor. 

 

Smiling, she looked around the room, taking in all the faces, most smiling back at her, but the looks from some of the Northern lords, their suspicious eyes turned her way made her uneasy. She kept smiling all the same. 

 

“It is not a title I take lightly," Jon went on once they'd calmed. "I realize that with it, the people of the North have put their trust in me to lead them, and I will do that the best way I know how.”

 

He looked at Daenerys and she gave him a small nod. “When I came to aid the North, I did so at the behest of my Lord Hand, Tyrion Lannister, to help his former wife take back her home from the monsters who had taken it from her family. Arriving during the battle, I found brave men on the field fighting for their lives and country. Free Folk, giants, Northmen all united against a common enemy.” She took a deep breath, letting herself become even more serious. “There are still enemies to face. A tyrant sits on the Iron Throne and I will remove her from it. But a dark threat looms beyond the Wall. One we must all face together. United. It is with this idea of unity and protection that I announce my impending marriage to King Jon Snow.”

 

The announcement was met with abrupt silence and a sudden stillness, as if the cold winds blowing outside had swept through and left all inside frozen. She could feel every pair of eyes on her, more than a few heavy and reproachful. The dragon in her wanted to snuff them out, but she sought to turn them instead. She was to become their queen, and them her people. 

 

“I want to assure you all, I am not here to conquer the North. I’m here to save it. Your King and I will protect our lands, our people, and we will do so together.”

 

Not a sound was heard until the scraping of a chair caught everyone's attention. She looked over to see a grinning Tormund holding up his horn of ale. “To the Dragon Queen and her White Wolf!" he called out.

 

Others raised their goblets to them, repeating his words, but she noticed many of them had their heads together, chattering and whispering. A few scathing looks were even thrown their way. Let them be unhappy. She didn’t care what they thought. She would have her White Wolf. They could hide away in their keeps as she flew in on her sons and burned them all for ever speaking ill of him. 

 

She shook herself, not knowing where the dark and sudden possessive feeling came from. She’d never felt it before with any lover. But for Jon, she felt as if she would burn the world. Her very blood seemed to hum when he was around. Perhaps that was love. Or was it the way dragons loved?

 

Ruthless and reckless, fiery and fierce, possessive and protective.

 

Yet she was certain Jon loved her just the same. Would tear the world apart for her, and gladly watch it bleed. He'd said so himself.

 

Was that the wolf in him, or something else...

 

She thought back on Tyrion’s words and wondered again at Jon’s ability to ride Rhaegal. Targaryens were the only known dragon riders. Those with Valyrian blood. Even though she had wanted her sons to accept him, she had never imagined anyone else being able to ride them before Jon. But, she was the one who had made the suggestion. What caused her to do that? She'd always been so cautious to keep people away from them, to not allow anyone close for fear of them getting hurt or of them hurting her sons. But she hadn't questioned it once she felt Rhaegal's curiosity toward him, was so confident Jon would be able to. 

 

Felt it in her heart, in her blood...

 

The cheering had stopped and Tormund came forward stalling her thoughts, all smiles and wanting to fill her empty goblet with his goat’s milk. She'd hated it, at first, but now she felt as if she was acquiring a taste for it. She’d quickly learned after the first two sips, it numbed your mouth enough you couldn’t actually taste it. She wouldn’t tell anyone, though. She would continue to drink it like it was nothing, just something else she was able to accomplish, allowing them to think it was a difficult task. 

 

Jon's goblet was filled as well and he held it up to her, toasting her as she did him, his smile doing wonderous things to her insides. A few more cheers went up as they drank then they took their seats once more. His hand came to rest on her thigh and she put hers over it just as Arya drew his attention. 

 

“Finally came to his senses?” Tyrion's voice sounded at her left. 

 

She turned and found his eyes flickering up from her and Jon's now entwined hands in her lap, a sly smile on his face. “Thankfully,” she answered softly. “Some of them don’t seem very pleased by the news.”

 

He snorted. “Oh, make no mistake, they are not," he agreed, eyebrows raised into his messy hair. "However, there's not much they can do about it since they named him King and you, his soon to be Queen, have three giant dragons.”

 

“True,” she said as she sipped her drink again.

 

"Are you happy?" he asked after a moment. 

 

Meeting his questioning gaze, she smiled. "Happier than I've ever been."

 

She feared for a moment he might cry on her, but whatever fleeting emotion he'd allowed to slip, was gone as quick as it came and he raised his goblet to her, his smile genuine. "Then I couldn't be happier for you."

 

"Thank you, my Lord Hand," she returned, lifting her goblet to him just as Yara and Theon came to stand before the table. 

 

Jon shifted in his seat and his grip on her became hesitant. She clasped his hand tighter and he threw her a small smile before turning his attention to her allies. 

 

“Your Graces,” Yara said with a bow of her head. “Allow me to be the first to congratulate you both on your impending marriage.”

 

“Thank you. We plan to wed before you leave and I hoped you would attend,” Dany said with a small smile. 

 

“I would be honored,” she declared before looking at Jon, a smirk on her face. “I hope you realize the gift you’ve been given.”

 

Daenerys gazed over at Jon, he appeared ready to commit murder. However, he gave a tight smile as she rubbed her thumb across his knuckles. “I’m unworthy of it, but I accept it all the same.”

 

That only made Yara smile wider. “Good. I look forward to the wedding.”

 

She walked away, Theon shuffling behind her, not stopping to say anything, or even lifting his head. Jon physically relaxed as they rejoined the crowd, his shoulders falling, jaw muscles ceasing their jumping. 

 

His relief was short lived. Ellaria and her daughters had come to congratulate them as well. And so started a long line of well wishes and felicitations from her allies, the Free Folk, and a fair share of the Northerners once the fierce little Lady Bear had paid her respect. Jon received it all with an amiable smile and graciousness. He would indeed make a fine king. Her King.

 

Olenna stepped forward last, wanting her words to be heard by all no doubt. She bowed her head to them both in turn. "Congratulations on your coming nuptials, Your Grace," she spoke to Daenerys first, her voice strong and carrying throughout the Hall, which had, not surprisingly fell silent save for the crackle of the fire behind them. "You've chosen well." 

 

She could've kissed the old woman for giving her approval of Jon so simply, yet staunchly. Her old eyes turned to him. He looked a bit flustered, but was holding up well under the daunting lady's appraisal. "And congratulations on your crown, Your Grace. Well deserved," she said, a sly smirk pulling at her thin mouth, "and well played." If Dany wasn't mistaken, the Queen of Thorns winked at her betrothed. Jon's sudden blush left her no doubt of it. She had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep her smile in check. "I'm quite certain the Seven Kingdoms will soon be in the best of hands," Olenna finished with another bow, this one with the aid of her cane. 

 

Dany raised her glass to her, Jon as well. "We thank you, my Lady, and will strive to prove your words true."

 

---

 

She was waiting for him, in her bed, soon to be their bed, naked under the furs, hair down and free of pins, Ghost sprawled across the foot of it. She'd managed to slip away before him, leaving him caught up in conversation with Arya and Davos. But she didn't have to wait long. 

 

He came in and shut the door behind him, locking it as he looked on her with a wobbly smile that threatened to break her heart. 

 

She returned it with one of her own, watching silently as he began to undress, his boots shed first, softly thumping to the floor one after the other. She could see it on his face, in his comely eyes–the love he felt for her, the happiness that was overwhelming him as he watched her back. There was so much he wanted to say, but the words seemed all tangled and stuck behind his pretty mouth. He'd licked those plump lips and swallowed hard several times, dark eyes large and liquid, never leaving hers. If she had a mind to she could gently poke and prod the words free, but she felt no need to. 

 

Her heart felt them, even if her ears didn't hear them.

 

When he was finally free of his clothes and had shoved his disgruntled wolf off the bed she held the furs up, bidding him to join her.

 

Jon’s body pressed against hers without hesitation, hands pulling them together, legs entwining as his mouth took hers in a fevered kiss. She was just as hungry for him, the forced restraint that had kept them apart all day snapping, allowing a rush of want and need to rise up and spill over.

 

She tore the band from his hair and gripped it in her fingers, drinking from him as deeply as he was her, arching into his hands, wanting to feel them everywhere, letting her own roam his beautiful body.

 

Delving between them, she found her prize, wrapping her fist around the stiff length, hot and smooth and silky against her palm. She tugged gently, swiping her thumb over the plump head and he hissed, his head and eyes falling back, hands gripping her tighter. Then he growled, lips at her throat, gently biting at the soft skin over her pulse. 

 

She wiggled and whimpered beneath him, needy and impatient, tired of being empty, wanting him to fill her. He sat back and removed her hand and she looked at him confused, and a bit irritated if she were honest.

 

Jon only smiled at her as his hands spread her thighs, calloused palms sliding down the sensitive skin until his fingers reached her cunt, already wet and weeping for him. It clenched as he stared, and he gave a grunt, settling himself down to feast.

 

But it was his fingers that found her first, teasing with a feather light touch, slipping through soaked and swollen lips. Her hips rose and fell, reaching and searching for more. And Jon was apparently ready to give it to her. He leaned forward and sealed his sinful mouth over her little nub, two thick fingers plunging inside her.

 

She cried out, clutching to him–hands gripped in his hair, knees clamped around his head, aching cunt grasping at his fingers, grateful to finally be filled while still wanting more. Jon didn't tarry, working her with practiced skill, in and out, quick and deep, pulling just so–suckling, licking, and biting, her wants well learned after their many weeks together. He knew her, what she craved, what brought her to the cliff's edge and left her hanging there, between life and death, until she thought she'd never escape, not that she ever wanted to.

 

Her feet had found their way to his shoulders, and she was almost ashamed at how fast she was coming undone. He forced her higher and higher, until she was swept away, the rapturous wave crashing over her and she lost herself among the torrent, pulled under into the swirling darkness, floating for an age before coming back to the surface gasping and ruined, still clinging to Jon, hips writhing and thighs trembling.

 

His fingers slowed as his tongue took long drawn out drags over her still pulsing cunt, lapping up the mess he'd made. A wolf enjoying his treat. Once he'd had his fill and she'd caught her breath he slowly moved up her body, full, open mouthed kisses left over all his favorite spots.

 

Finally he reached her mouth and she could return the pleasure, nipping and sucking at those succulent lips, tasting herself, noticing the sweet musky smell caught in his beard as she looped her arms around his neck. He pulled away far too soon for her liking, only to stare down at her, gently caressing her face as a smile took over his; lovely eyes full of love, one as dark and deep as the oceans. 

 

Oh, how she loved him

 

Before she could tell him so, he rolled over onto his back, pulling her on top of him. 

 

Unable to hide her smile, she sank down on his cock and sat back, a low moan falling from her lips to feel him so very deep, to be filled so very full. She swirled her hips over his as she kept one hand on his hard stomach for balance, the muscles bunching beneath her palm. Strong hands gripped her hips, but he didn’t rush her pace or move her. Instead, he stared up at her with those obsidian eyes, watching her with a hunger she couldn't look away from. She leaned forward, a hand on each side of his head, taking him at a different angle and his hands slid from her hips and up her back to sink into her hair, twisting it around his fist. She let out a surprised moan as he pulled, tilting her head back, opening her throat up for his ravenous mouth, lips and tongue and beard leaving her a raw, tingling mess. 

 

Shifting beneath her, he bent his knees and began thrusting into her hard and fast. She let out another cry as her body took over, knees spreading, hands grasping at his hair, the sheets. Hips pressing down, mouth open, each breath a gasp for more.

 

His teeth nipped at whatever skin he could reach and all she could do was give herself over to the onslaught. The coil within her tightened, every pound of his cock inside her, each tug on her hair, all the lurid slaps of skin meeting skin, bringing her closer. Her breath had simply left her, yet still he pushed her further, cupping her breast, thumb teasing the stiff peak. She dropped her head back, heart racing and blood surging, the flames licking without and within as he pinched and pulled. And just like that, she fell into oblivion, seized with pleasure, body shaking with each punishing thrust of his hips, cunt clenching and convulsing around his demanding cock. And Jon followed right behind her, their moans filling the room, his arms banded around her tight, muscles straining with a few final thrusts.

 

He fell limp beneath her and she collapsed on top of him, thankful they had nowhere to go. She was certain he’d just stolen away her ability to walk.

 

She lay with her face pressed into his neck, her body still over his, while warm hands slowly stroked over her skin. She shivered beneath his touch, gooseflesh rising, and suddenly her back was covered with furs. 

 

"That better?" he murmured into her hair.

 

She could only hum at first, but soon found the strength to lift her head and prop herself up on her elbow so she could gaze down at her splendid and soon to be husband. The man who had stolen her heart and soul without even trying. 

 

She gently raked her nails through his beard, from ear to chin, then ran her thumb across his full bottom lip. "I've never been better, never felt more loved, or such happiness. And it's all because of you, Jon Snow. Just you."

 

He looked as if more pretty words were about to spill free, but instead he cupped her face and took her mouth in a deep, soul-rending kiss, and she felt shaken when he was done, as if it had changed everything and they were no longer who they had been, but something altogether new. 

 

Not a lowly bastard and a foreign whore, not even a king and his queen, but two pieces of a whole finally sealed together and destined to remake the world.




  




Chapter Text

 


Oh, what a cold, dark world it is to walk through

Alone with a fear-filled head

Thinking of losing you is a haunted song

And a dread much worse than the fear of death

Now I feel the fear rising up

Climbing up, taking over my body

And I feel my pulse starting up

Waking me again

Open my eyes, I'm reaching for you

Set me on fire, set me on fire

I'm burning inside, I'm waiting for you

Set me on fire, set me on fire

Your hand in mine, oh, I feel the fire

Two hearts that beat, oh, to feed the fire

You are a spark that shines a light

Where we could belong together, fractionless

Let's keep it burning bright 'til we're floating away,

'Til we're ashes dancing inside the flames

 

Set Me On Fire - Flyleaf



He stood on the upper breezeway, Daenerys at his side as they both watched Arya square off against Brienne. She had a light flourish, her movements as smooth and even as a dancer's as she spun away from the larger woman and managed to get the drop on her, holding her thin blade up to Brienne’s face.

 

He smiled, pride filling him to watch her float around the yard with ease, besting the other warrior a few times before she took a boot to the chest. Daenerys shifted on her feet as he grunted in sympathy, but with a snarl Arya gave a spinning kick of her legs and flipped herself up into a crouching position. The battle started in earnest again until Arya lost Needle, but before he could even blink she'd pulled a dagger on Brienne holding it to her throat, though Brienne's sword was already at hers. 

 

They both smiled and sheathed their weapons as Daenerys clapped. She nudged Jon with her elbow, smirking. “I think she might be able to take you.”

 

He smiled at her, then Arya as she looked up at them and gave a mock curtsy. Dany looped her arm through his and they continued the walk through the main Keep and into the solar. He closed the door behind them even though they were waiting for the others to join. She walked to the hearth and stood staring at the flames. He could almost see the gears turning within her keen head.

 

“What’s on your mind?” he asked.

 

She looked up, a thoughtful smile on her face. “She’s very good, your sister.”

 

He nodded. Indeed she was. “Training in Braavos is what she told me.”

 

“What sort of training?”

 

He tilted his head and shrugged. “She didn’t go into details.”

 

“It would take years to become that proficient, wouldn’t it?”

 

“She’s been gone for years," he reminded as he joined her. "Why?”

 

Winter came for House Frey ," she murmured softly.

 

Jon straightened, dropping his arms to his side, knowing exactly what she was suggesting. “You think it was Arya?” he asked, pulling a face.

 

She looked up at him, concern in her eyes. “Relax, Jon. Whoever did that is our ally not our enemy, I'm certain. But wouldn’t it make sense? Winter is coming are the words of House Stark. Your sister has proven she can hide in plain sight, for days, and Lord Frey’s wife mentioned a girl was wearing his face,” she whispered. She put her hand on his chest and sighed. “I’m not saying it was her, I’m simply stating that it would make sense if it was.

 

He didn’t get much time to think about it. A knock sounded at the door. Deanerys reached up and quickly placed a kiss on his lips before she turned away from him and bid the person enter. She walked to the table as Tyrion, Missandei, and Davos entered. They exchanged pleasantries while Jon tried to work over what she’d said. The details they knew. 

 

Arya had been there the night Robb and her mother were killed. She’d seen what they'd done to their brother's body. She’d also admitted to killing people but hadn’t told him more than that. Sansa and Arya both entered a few moments later. He could see Brienne and Greyworm standing outside the door. 

 

Varys joined them just after and once he had, preparations for the wedding and the feast that would follow began and he had to put the thoughts away for awhile, though he couldn't seem to stop watching his little sister. She knew it too, throwing him irritated glances.

 

Tyrion cleared his throat, drawing his attention. “Since you've declared you will be having an Old God’s ceremony, I’ve been asked if there will be a bedding as well?” he queried with a raise of his eyebrows.

 

“Fuck no,” Jon answered without thought. 

 

Arya snorted, leaned back in her seat, obviously taking great pleasure in her brother’s quick and resolute answer. 

 

“Before you say no...” Tyrion began to argue, a finger raised, but Daenerys held up her hand cutting him off. “Yes, Your Grace?” he asked.

 

“Just what does a bedding ceremony entail?”

 

Jon walked over and stood in front of her, blocking her from everyone else's view. “It’s an old tradition where the men take the bride and the women take the groom and disrobe them on the way to their bedding chamber,” he explained quietly, his blood boiling at the thought of other men looking at her, let alone touching her.

 

Daenerys whipped her head around to Tyrion, her brows furrowed. “I’m in agreement with the King. There will be no bedding ceremony," she declared.

 

Tyrion heaved a sigh. “I was going to suggest it to show that you're willing to embrace Northern customs...”

 

She stepped around Jon and went to stand over her Hand, a queenly eyebrow raised and hands clasped in front of her. “I’m getting married to a Northman in a Godswood. They can be happy with that," she told him, voice clipped. "I’ll not have these Lord’s daughters pawing at my husband.”

 

If they'd been alone he would've stripped her bare as her name day and spread her out on that table before dropping to his knees in front of her to pleasure her until she screamed his name. Instead he bit the inside of his lip which was of no consolation prize. 

 

“Fine," Tyrion relented. "No bedding ceremony. We won’t mention an heir for a while,” he added quietly as he scribbled notes. “Missandei is working on your maiden cloak.”

 

“I’m working on Jon’s,” Sansa offered with a sniff.

 

That had him spinning around. “You are?” he asked, unable to stop himself.

 

She dared to look affronted at his surprise. “Yes. Did you think I wouldn’t?”

 

He hadn’t actually thought about it. He was only including her because Daenerys had insisted. It was no bloody secret she wasn't keen on the development of their impending marriage, let alone him being named her King. Hells, she didn't even like him.

 

Missandei cleared her throat, in an attempt at easing the awkward tension he guessed. “I’m working on her dress,” she said with a nod, then smiled sweetly at his sister. “Lady Sansa is aiding me in that as well.”

 

There was a haughty gleam in Sansa's cold eyes as she stared up at him. He wasn't able to contain his soft snort, but he did give her a nod of gratitude.

 

The room fell quiet as Tyrion wrote down more notes, then his large eyes landed on Jon. “Greyworm had some security concerns he’d like to address with you,” he said. 

 

“I’d like to see how the ceremony will be set up,” Daenerys declared before he could respond. “Lady Sansa, would you walk me through it in the Godswood?”

 

His sister's head shot up, eyes wide with shock. “Why me?” she asked before thinking.

 

Arya let out a bored sigh. “Because, you’ve actually been married in a Godswood.”

 

Daenerys shook her head, giving each of his sisters a kind smile. “I was merely asking from a bride’s perspective but I could get Jon to give me the basics.”

 

Jon stared hard at Sansa, willing her to do it because she'd been asked. Sansa thought on it a moment, or purposely stalled more like, licking her lips, fiddling with her fingers before finally nodding. 

 

“Splendid," Tyrion crowed. "Why don’t the two of you head down to do that and King Jon can meet with Greyworm about the security for the keep?”

 

“I’ll stick with Jon,” Arya proclaimed as their sister stood and rolled her eyes before following Daenerys out of the room. Ghost padded off after them.

 

Jon stepped over to Arya and leaned close to her ear. “I'm not so sure I want to leave them alone. You couldn't go as well?”

 

“If Sansa gets out of line the dragons will eat her,” she answered with a shrug of her shoulder as she turned and led the way out of the room. Brienne was already gone, Grey Worm waited for them a few paces down the hall. 

 

They followed him outside to the courtyard, while he explained his concerns in his low, clipped common tongue. He worried anyone was able to come through the gate with the Lords and Ladies that had arrived. Which was true. People were able to freely go in and out of the gates with the retinue of those that had arrived or departed. 

 

“Unsafe for Queen," he repeated for the third time with a deep set scowl as they stood watching people come and go.

 

"He's not wrong," Arya spoke up beside him. "You need better guards. Look how long I got about unnoticed."

 

Jon shot her a look, Daenerys' suspicions coming back to the forefront of his mind. A stirring in his gut told him she was probably right, but he wasn't sure how he felt about his baby sister killing dozens of men all on her own. "I don't think anyone else can do what you can," he husked.

 

She smirked for a fleeting moment before her expression turned serious. "I'm not the only one like me."

 

He wasn't sure how he felt about that either, but focused on Grey Worm's unease for the time being. “She’s surrounded by your guards at all times, and my direwolf. I’m with her at night,” he argued, but her sworn protector was unconvinced, giving him a firm shake of his head, mouth pinched tight, his scowl still firmly in place. 

 

A sudden ruckus went up in the yard, people calling out as they gathered at the base of one of the towers. The three of them ran over, stopping the moment they saw a badly beaten Podrick leaning against the wall. 

 

“What’s happened here?” Jon demanded.

 

“He came stumbling out of the tower!” someone hollered.

 

Jon went to a knee in front of him, his brow furrowed in concern as he stared at the half conscious squire. “Podrick, who did this to you?”

 

“Don’ know. Hit from be-hind,” he stuttered, gasping for air. Brienne rushed through the crowd and knelt beside her squire, armor screeching. “I’m… sorry, my Lady,” the boy apologized.

 

She pursed her lips together and shushed him just as a dark dread twisted in Jon's gut. She shouldn't be there. She should be with… 

 

"Where's the Queen?" he barked at her, already rising to his feet.

 

"I left her in the Godswood."

 

He turned his eyes across the yard just as Ghost sprinted past. Glancing back at Podrick, it all clicked together in his mind. 

 

A diversion. 

 

“Grey Worm! With me!” he shouted, withdrawing his sword as he ran, heart already hammering in his chest. 

 

The gate was shut and it only took one glance to know the two Unsullied guards leaning against the wall were dead. Their throats were cut, lifeless bodies propped up against the stone. Three other men, dressed as Wildlings, lay at their feet, the snow stained red all around. 

 

Terror and rage warred within him as he opened the gate as quietly as he could, not wanting their presence known. Ghost was a white blur running silently through the trees, the wolf's urgent need to protect Daenerys mixing with his own and thumping through his blood, fevered and frenzied.

 

It pumped through his ears, a surging roar as he strained to listen, to hear them, but only silence rushed forward, a blast of ice against his heart, freezing it cold with fear. 

 

No , they’d save them. She wouldn’t die. He wouldn’t allow anyone to hurt her. 



*~*

 

She walked through the snow with Sansa, Brienne following behind them. The heart tree loomed over her, so vibrant in the blue haze of winter that surrounded them. Reaching a hand out she marveled once again at the smooth white bark. “I never thought I would be getting married in a Godswood.”

 

“No, I’m sure you’ve acquired quite a few things you didn’t count on when you arrived,” Sansa said quietly, though her voice still held an acrid tone.

 

Daenerys cut her eyes over to her. She knew well when she invited her there would be some push back from her and was fully prepared. “True. I hadn’t intended on marrying so soon.”

 

“Do you think it’s wise?” Sansa questioned.

 

She sighed and gave a nod. “Yes. For a host of reasons.”

 

Sansa stared at her for a long moment before turning away to continue her stroll. “The alliance with the North and someone to warm your bed, no doubt,” she murmured.

 

Daenerys glanced at Brienne. The sworn sword wasn’t watching them, her eyes focused on the snowy ground beneath her feet, but she could tell she'd heard every bit of it by the red blush staining her cheeks and ears. She cleared her throat. “My lady,” she said as she turned to Brienne fully, giving her a small smile. “Would you mind waiting outside the gate with my Unsullied guards? I’d like a private audience with your lady.”

 

Sansa huffed out a sigh behind them, but Brienne gave a reluctant nod and walked away from them. 

 

The moment she was out of earshot Daenerys turned cold eyes on Jon's sister. “I’ve tried very hard to be accommodating to your overall attitude towards me, but I find my patience is growing thin.” She clenched her fists at her side as she approached her, giving an outlet to her ire. “You don’t have to like me. In fact, I’m quite certain you have no ability to see past anything but what you want. But I would have you know this… I made an offer of marriage to your brother long before they declared him King in the North," she informed her, enjoying the widening of the girl's eyes probably a bit too much. "He refused," she went on, softer, some of her control returning. "He didn’t feel he had anything to offer me when all I really wanted was him.” She took another step closer, clasping her hands in front of her. “ Yes , acquiring the North is a boon, but my marriage to Jon was something I proposed, something I wanted, before he was ever named king.”

 

Sansa's eyes roamed the Godswood, looking quiteverywhere but her as she shifted on her feet. Finally she cast her a cursory glance and once again turned and walked away. “He loves you, you know that?”

 

“I do. And I love him," she disclosed. Not surprisingly, Sansa's threw another glance over her shoulder at her. "That might be used against me, but I pity the person that would try," she said, not bothering to hide the warning in her words. She sighed and looked up into the blood red leaves above her. “You asked for my help and I came to help you. I would like for us to be friends, we're to be family after all, and I never had a sister, but I don’t think that’s possible at this point. I’m content with us being hospitable to one another. Perhaps I'll have more luck with Arya."

 

Sansa gave an unladylike snort as she stopped and turned to face her. “What are your intentions with the North?” she asked, ignoring all Daenerys had said.

 

“I’m going to protect it,” she answered softly, drawing in a cleansing breath through her nose. “My armies and dragons will be the first line of defense. Whether you like our presence in your homeland will be irrelevant when the Army of the Dead comes. I've seen them, your brother is not spreading children's tales as truth. They're very real and I’m not sure it wouldn’t be prudent to evacuate the North completely—”

 

“You won’t do that, will you?" Sansa asked, appearing appalled. "The North is so sparsely populated as it is. If you offer them the opportunity to leave they may never come back,” she protested.

 

“Their protection is more important than people being able to live in their homes. But I haven’t decided. It is a topic to discuss with my husband and council.”

 

That brought an icy glint to Sansa's glare. “And not the people who live here?”

 

Daenerys held tight to her calm, refusing to let them devolve into a catty sparring match. “I've asked this before, your brother has as well, Tyrion too... What would you do if the army was outside these gates? What ability do you have to fight the dead?” When Sansa didn’t answer she heaved a sigh. “If we evacuated it would only be to protect people, not to remain a permanent status. However, it is my decision, mine and your brother's. And even then, it wouldn't be an order, but a strong suggestion. Those who chose not to come… well, I believe that would be a mistake on their part. Castles can be rebuilt. People’s lives can not.”

 

Sansa looked away from her, shaking her head. “It was hell trying to win back Winterfell. The grovelling Jon and I had to do to these men who are in this keep and so few of them came to our aid...” She looked down at her hands. “The thought of leaving after everything we went through...”

 

“I understand that feeling all too well,” she said softly. “But as I said, I would only do it if we didn’t have a choice. Right now, the Wall stands between the dead and Winterfell. Until that changes, and hopefully it won't, I think we can keep everyone where they are.”

 

Those clear blue eyes had only thawed the smallest of fractions as they met hers again. “Lord Glover and Lord Cerywn left in the middle of the night. They will not be sending men after your announcement.”

 

She rolled her eyes and heaved a sigh. “Of course they did.”

 

“How did you expect it to be greeted?” Sansa asked with a scoff.

 

“Exactly as it was.” She turned her back on her and looked around the woods, trying to grasp control her agitation again. 

 

Why were they all so bloody stubborn?

 

A sudden gasp and the sickening thud of a hard object connecting with a skull had Daenerys spinning around. She found herself face to face with a man dressed in the furs like those of the Free Folk. Sansa lay in a heap at his feet. She backed up and turned to run, but before she could even scream she was shoved so hard the air was forced from her lungs. She hit the ground, the snow barely breaking her fall, breath stolen once more, and was flipped onto her back, the man straddling her, his filthy hand pressed over her mouth. 

 

NO!  

 

She struggled beneath his weight, scratched and clawed at his hand covering her mouth even as she felt a cold blade press against her throat. Another man held down her legs while yet another tried to pin her arms. Still she fought, outnumbered, knife or no. She wouldn’t allow this to happen. She would not let these cretins make her a victim. 

 

The hand over her mouth disappeared and she sucked in a giant breath, only to be struck across the face. Her ears rang, cheek throbbed, head shot full of blinding pain, and still she struggled. He reached back to hit her again, but gave a grunt instead. Blood splashed over her face and he fell to the side, a knife embedded in his chest. She stared shocked a moment too long, the man holding her hands too quick, dragging her to her feet, knife at her throat, fingers digging into her jaw. The one who'd held her feet was already standing, sword in hand prepared to fight.

 

Hot breath fanned across her face, frightening and foul. Fingers squeezed, the blade bit. “One move and I slit your dragon bitch’s throat,” he panted in her ear, words cracked and full of trembling. 

 

He was afraid. 

 

She forced her eyes opened and found the reason why.

 

*~*

 

Savoring the squelching thunk of Arya's dagger burying itself square in the bastard's chest, seeing the blood shoot forth as he gave a grunt, watching him fall off of her, dead. Such satisfaction should've scared him. 

 

It didn't. 

 

His focus was held firm on the knife at Dany’s throat and the man holding it. The surge of anger and alarm coursing through his blood had his grip tightening on Longclaw, knuckles cracking under the pressure of his rage. The beast paced behind his cage of ribs and sinew, claws clicking, foam dripping from his snarling mouth. A growling rumble rose from his throat, low and threatening in the icy air.

 

Kill. Rend. Burn.

 

Her eyes caught his, and though she looked calm, he could see the fear shining bright in her blue eyes. The chances of getting her out unscathed were low, but it wouldn't stop him. 

 

“Release her and your death will be quick and mostly painless,” he offered, almost surprised at the cold menacing edge in his voice.

 

Eyes large and panicked, the two men shuffled back, drawing closer, huddling up like sheep avoiding slaughter. Jon would've grinned had it not been for Dany still trapped between them.

 

But some sort of foolish bravado settled over the one holding Daenerys and he smiled, a wide and wicked thing. “No, you’ll release us cause you don’t want this pretty little queen of yours dead," he countered, jerking her head back, the blade digging deeper. "We walk out of here unscathed and maybe I won’t slice her into pieces.”

 

Kill. Rend. Burn.

 

Crunching footsteps sounded in the snow behind him, the men's eyes darting around. He swung Longclaw around in a slow arch as he took a step closer, keeping muscles loose before readying the blade again. “You’re a bigger fool than you appear if you think you’re fucking walking out of this wood with her."

 

“I’ll take her out with me then!” he hollared, Daenerys wincing as he screamed in her ear. The knife at her throat drew across her skin, blood appearing on the blade and turning his vision red. His own thumped hot in his veins, a fire building into an inferno. “If I’m going to die, might as well be useful in my dea—”

 

A snarling blur of white and gnashing teeth took Dany and the man that held her to the ground, the direwolf pinning her flailing attacker as she scrambled away. Greyworm threw his spear into the chest of the other as Jon rushed forward to Dany's attacker, struggling and screaming in his efforts to keep the direwolf from ripping out his throat. Jon kicked the knife his knife away, silently ordered Ghost to relent, then grabbed the cretin by his collar and hauled him into a sitting position. 

 

“Your dragon bitch will still die. It doesn’t stop with me,” he taunted, seemingly unafraid. 

 

Kill. Rend. Burn.

 

Blinded to all else Jon pushed Longclaw into his stomach, sliding the blade slowly through muscle and gut and finally bone. The gasping, the sputtering, the bulging eyes only just began to satisfy his ravenous thirst. Once buried to the hilt, he twisted his wrist. “Tell me who hired you and I’ll end it quicker.”

 

“Fuck you," the fool spit, blood splattering warm and wet across Jon's face.

 

With a quick jerk he withdrew Longclaw, only to drive the blade through the bastard's throat, reveling in the gurgling sounds made as he choked on the blade, the sight of his blood pouring forth from his mouth and nose and neck. Bloodlust somewhat quenched, he let him go, pulling Longclaw free of the limp corpse. The thought of kicking it appealed to him greatly. 

 

"Jon," Arya’s voice broke through the din of his heaving breath and pounding pulse. He looked at her, hovering over their sister, but she was looking elsewhere. She nodded behind him and he turned to find Daenerys sitting in the snow staring up at him, blood splattered and wide-eyed.

 

Alive. Safe. Mine.

 

His sword was gone from his hand and she was in his arms a moment later, a great gasp of air sucked into his lungs as the strength threatened to flee his legs. She released a shaky breath against his throat, a shudder running through her, but when he pulled back, her head clasped in his hands, her beautiful face was stoic, as if nothing had happened. 

 

“I’m alright," she breathed. Relief flooded him and his grasp on her faltered, his thumb smearing blood across her cheek. It was so bright and abhorrent against her pale skin a wave of nausea washed through him. He leaned his forehead to hers, eyes closed, breathing deep through his nose. She nuzzled her face against his. "You made it in time," she whispered. "You kept me safe."

 

Jaw clenched so tight his teeth creaked, he shook his head and gathered her up. She'd felt firm on her feet, but he needed her close to ground him, anything to hold the beast back so he didn't rip the world to shreds. “We’re going inside,” he insisted. She didn't protest, pressing herself against him, arms linked strong around his neck. He threw a look over his shoulder at the others. “Someone take care of Sansa and tell the Queen's council they can find her in my quarters. If anyone has a fucking problem with it, show them my sword and tell them their blood can mingle with the rest,” he growled as he led the way out of the Godswood. 

 

Nothing would stop him from getting her alone to look her over, see and touch every inch of her to know she truly was alright. 

 

His heart thrummed in his ears, sweat soaking his tunic, cold and damp against his skin as they entered the keep, but she was a comforting weight in his arms, her breath warm and steady against his neck, fingers slowly moving through his hair. 

 

Alive. Safe. Mine.

 

A servant passed them in the hall and he barked at her to summon the Maester. Guards ran up just as he made it to his rooms. They were ordered to bring hot water in for a bath before the door was kicked closed in their faces. He lowered her into a chair in front of the fire once they'd made it inside, though he was reluctant to let her go. She seemed no more in favor of it, her arms hesitant to release him. 

 

He couldn't meet her eyes, afraid he would lose the fragile hold he had of himself and simply crumble at her feet. With careful hands he tilted her head back, inspecting the cut across her neck. Blood dripped from the thin gash, dark crimson streaks trailing down the pale column of her throat. A pulse of rage ran through him, his bones throbbing with it, muscles locked and tremoring.

 

He wanted to skewer the bastard all over again. And again and again and again.

 

“Jon,” she whispered and touched his cheek, fingers trembling against his skin. 

 

His eyes fell closed and he grasped her hand, pressing his face into her palm, breathing her in. A deep shuddering inhale, warm soft skin beneath his lips, sweet scent filling his head.

 

Alive. Safe. Mine.

 

Neither had a chance to speak as there was a knock at the door. He forced himself away from her to open it. The Maester stood there with a bag at his side. He allowed him in and paced like a wolf caged as Wolken looked her over, mumbling questions at her, nodding at her whispered answers. The weight of her eyes never left him, but still he could not meet them. Another knock came and he opened the door again. Tyrion and Davos entered, her Hand rushing to her side.

 

“Your Grace, are you alright?”

 

“It’s a scratch,” she answered softly. “I’ve endured worse.”

 

Davos approached him, then thought better of it after a wary glance. “How did this happen?” he asked as he stepped back, allowing Jon the space to continue his pacing.

 

“Podrick was a distraction," he grunted, fists working at his sides, chest heaving. "Two dead Unsullied at the gate. Three dead at their feet. Three more inside the Godswood,” he bit out.

 

Daenerys took a deep breath and slowly released it. “It's my fault. I sent Ghost off to hunt and asked Brienne to leave us so I could speak with Sansa alone.”

 

Jon came to a halt, a white hot bolt of anger taking him. 

 

Knowing how he loved her, what she meant to him and she'd risked herself so?  

 

His eyes finally met hers and she flinched ever so slightly, regret flashing in her deep blue gaze before it vanished. The Dragon Queen was firmly in place, spine straight, chin raised, mouth set and eyes hard.

 

His jaw still clenched tight, he exhaled a rush of air through his nose, all of his ire towards her going with it. He was too grateful to have her whole and mostly well before him to hold onto it. It had better places to go.

 

Tyrion however shook his head at her. “While I appreciate your need for diplomacy and independence, please keep your guard with you at all times,” he scolded.

 

She rolled her eyes. “I won’t be lorded over by anyone. And I will not cower, either. I'm not some simpering maid for you to hide away in a tower," she snipped.

 

“I’m not asking you to cower," he snapped back. "I’m asking you to be sensible and realize that your life is constantly at stake.”

 

“They were dressed as Wildlings,” she said ignoring Tyrion, her eyes going back to Jon's. “I don’t think they were.”

 

“No,” he agreed. “The Free Folk love you. And I didn't recognize any of them."

 

Tyrion frowned. “ Guards , Your Grace. We have to protect you at all costs.”

 

She glared at her Hand as another knock sounded at the door. Davos opened it and Missandei and Grey Worm came in, Ghost padding in after them and settling in front of the fire at Daenerys feet, his maw stained red. The soldier handed Jon back his sword, all traces of blood cleaned from it as Missandei went to her friend's side. 

 

The Maester finally stood and began packing up his things. "You should heal nicely within a few days, Your Grace. The damage was minimal." He pointed to a small bag he'd left on the table. "Some tea for nerves, if needed," he said, looking around the room at them all before excusing himself with a nod.

 

Once Wolken left, Missandei embraced Daenerys and his queen gave her a smile as they let each other go. “I’m fine. Really.”

 

While the blood had been cleaned from her neck, Jon still had to work at calming himself as he stared at what was left splattered and smeared across her face, coat, and hair. No amount of measured breaths seemed to temper his pounding heart or the rushing beat of blood in his veins.

 

He’d almost lost the most important thing in his life and his chest physically ached at the thought of her gone from the world. He was about to come out of his skin, his want to have her alone was so consuming–to hold her, touch her, smell her, reassure himself she was alright.

 

Just as he opened his mouth to usher everyone out several servants appeared at the door with hot water and began filling the tub. So he stood across the room, feet fixed to the floor, unable to tear his gaze from her since he'd finally allowed himself to take her in. Her own eyes flickered over to him time and again, as full of need as he imagined his were. He wanted to roar at everyone to leave, to do nothing but hold her until the world fucking ended. 

 

She asked after Sansa and the others hurt or lost during the attack and he was only fractionally shocked to find he didn’t care about his sister, or Podrick, or anyone else, only Daenerys. 

 

Alive. Safe. Mine.

 

Tyrion was still blabbering on about her safety, ordering more guards be left with the queen, Grey Worm and Missandei agreeing. By the time the last servant came in with another bucket of water, his patience had run out. 

 

“Everyone leave us," he snarled.

 

Tyrion stopped mid-sentence and turned to look at him, agast and angry. “We’re still discussing her safety.”

 

“Discuss it amongst yourselves,” he ordered through clenched teeth. 

 

Her Hand looked to her, no doubt hoping she would reprimand Jon for his high-handed behavior. Instead she gave a nod of confirmation. With a weary sigh, Tyrion left, the others following him without a word. Jon locked the door behind them.

 

He closed the distance between them in three heavy strides, dropping to a knee in front of her. Without a word he helped her remove her coat, trying not to stare at the bruise forming on her face or the cut on her neck. All of it made him want to cause more violence to dead men. They wouldn’t feel the pain they deserved, but that didn’t make the urge go away. 



*~*



Jon was knelt in front of her, unlacing her boots. She could feel the chill in the room but it was the heat from his hands along her calf that pulled her back from the black spinning void her mind had let her fall into. They were all gone save for the two of them. She didn't remember them leaving. Needing more to anchor her, she reached out and touched his cheek. His head shot up, beautiful face blood splattered, dark eyes alight with anger but also relief. 

 

A breath stealing ache spread throughout her chest. She wanted to speak, ask if he was alright, tell him she was sorry, but he heaved out a shaky sigh and held up a bloodstained hand and all the words stuck in her throat. It was the same hand he'd used to drive his sword through her attacker. Watching him avenge her, take the man's life so zealously had been terrifying and thrilling all at once. Her mind and heart and body couldn't seem to settle on a reaction, all of them so heightened she almost felt numb.

 

Attempting to control her breathing and willing her fingers not to tremble, she took his offered hand and slowly stood. He quickly let her go and slid his hands beneath her shift up to her leathers, careful fingers undoing the laces before pulling the pants, along with her small clothes, down her legs. She wished he would talk to her, say something, say anything , but knew even on a good day, Jon wasn't one for many words. So she braced herself on his shoulder and stepped out of her pants, her bottom lip held painfully tight between her teeth to stay quiet. He stood and tugged up on her shift and tossed it to the growing pile of her bloodied clothes before helping her step into the tub. 

 

She sat down and laid back, stretching out as much as she could. A low moan escaped her, the hot water blissful relief to her tense muscles. She heard his knees pop and opened her eyes to find him squatted down beside her, his dark gaze lingering on her throat and she wondered if there were bruises there besides the cut she could feel burning her skin. Her jaw and cheek still throbbed, but the Maester hadn't thought anything was broken. His thumb traced over her neck and he blinked a few times, eyes glassy, the furrow in his brow deepening. 

 

She caught his hand in hers as she sat up, reaching for the soap with the other. He watched silently as she gently washed the blood away from one hand, then the other, a thousand thoughts flashing across his beautiful face.  

 

The moment she was done he shoved the stool to the end of the tub and moved over to it, sitting down, his now blood free hands beginning the task of removing pins and ties from her hair. 

 

“Jon,” she said softly, unable to stand his muteness another moment, “you have to speak or I’ll go mad from the silence.”

 

His hands stilled in her hair. “I’m sorry," he told her, voice husky and harsh. 

 

“Don’t apologize,” she shushed him. “Just tell me what you're thinking.”

 

“They’re dead,” he answered, her pins pinging off the stone floor as he went back to gently pulling them free. “Doesn’t do to dwell on what I’m thinking.”

 

She gave him a reprieve until he'd removed all the pins and braids and grabbed the urn beside the bath. She tilted her head back, letting him pour it over the tresses while she looked up at him. "It can help to talk about it, though,” she tried again.

 

He froze, scowl fierce, one hand gripping her hair, the other holding the urn up in mid-air. “And say what?" he snarled. "That I want to kill him again and again, watch him die a thousand times for daring to touch you, much less threaten you or hurt you?” He stared at her for another agonizingly silent moment, allowing his heavy words to hang between them. “That what you want me to say?”

 

Yes, all that and more, my savage love.

 

She let her eyes fall closed, suppressing a shiver as she did. The urn was sat down with a clank and a heavy sigh, then the sweet smell of the soap Missandei used on her hair filled her nose. A breath later his strong hands were working it through, massaging her scalp. 

 

“Is that how you feel?” she gently pushed once he'd reached the ends.

 

“All that and more,” he growled low, not an ounce of his anger gone. “I want to bring him back to life just to make him suffer his death a thousand times. I want to feel his life leave him, over and over again.” The soap was rinsed from her hair and the urn set beside the tub, then his brow pressed to the back of her head. “I want his torment to never end," he confessed.

 

She sat up and turned around to face him, leaning up on her knees. Without thought she cupped his face in her hands and brought his mouth to hers in a ravenous kiss. Whatever had held him so restrained snapped, and she was yanked out of the tub and onto his lap with a rumbling growl. Water sloshed and splashed onto the floor, and all over him as her thighs stretched wide to straddle him. Mouths never stopping their feast of lips and tongues they worked together with frantic fingers to remove his tunic, stiff from sweat and splattered blood. 

 

The moment he was free of it he pulled her against his bare chest, gripping her flesh tight in his hands, another throaty growl released. The hardness, the heat of him had her nails raking down his back, teeth sinking over his pulse, her want to claim him for the world to see too strong to fight. 

 

“Dany,” he moaned as she suckled and nipped, palms and fingers kneading her arse, rocking her over his straining hips and cock. Somehow she found the wherewithal to pull away. His eyes were staring back her, pitch black and plagued with doubt. “That doesn’t frighten you?”

 

So tangled and tormented within her own tempest, she could think of nothing else but to grab his hand and bring his fingers to her truth. To the aching emptiness of her cunt, slick soaked and swollen, both of them groaning at the mess they found. “That’s because of you,” she whispered, thrusting forward with a whimper. “You do not frighten me," she swore, "You excite me." She drew in panting breaths as she rubbed against him, releasing his hand to grip his shoulders as his fingers slid deep inside of her. “I feel... safe with you," she gasped for air, eyes rolling, "but... out of control.”

 

His other hand came up and gripped the nape of her neck, drawing her eyes back to his, holding her down on his probing fingers. “It scares me, what I wouldn’t do for you," he rasped out, words rough and rootless. “You make me want things my mind could never have thought of before."

 

"Yes," she whispered, rocking back, hands braced on his thighs, squirming at the delicious intrusion, each curl of his fingers pushing her further and further to the edge. 

 

His grip tightened, brought her close, his head pressing to hers as he added a third finger, stretching and filling and pulling before driving deep, again and again, faster and faster. Her eyes rolled back in her head, all of it too much, but he gave her a gentle shake, bringing her eyes to his once more.

 

He took her mouth in a voracious kiss, bruising and biting and burning, fevered and faithful words breathed into her. "Alive. Safe. Mine."

 

His name left her, a whispered prayer begging for mercy. He would not be denied his payment.

 

"Promise me," he demanded.

 

"Anything." 

 

"You will not leave me," he begged, brutal and broken all at once.

 

Her heart simply split open within her chest, body trembling around him. All of her overwhelmed. Jon seemed to own her: heart, body, mind, and soul. She should be afraid, run from him. But she couldn’t. She didn’t want to. She took his face in her hands, looking deep into his depthless dark eyes. "Never, I swear it," she promised him, her wolf, her warrior, her king. She would allow him to protect her against the world. And she would do the same for him. "You are mine and I am yours. We will never be parted."

 

His demand appeased he fell into worship. His mouth, that holy honeyed mouth; kissed her, licked her, seared like a brand against her skin, claiming her as his. His dark head bowed over her breasts, nipples suckled and pulled between his teeth, dragging and teasing. Fingers never ceasing their torment, sharp and sweet. The scent of her own arousal filled her senses, the wet squelch of his fingers stroking inside her and his heavy breathing her ears. The thrill was all too much; she was gasping and snatching at air, cunt beginning to clench and quiver. She dug her nails into his skin, her movements faltering as she began to fall. Jon's arm wrapped around her waist and held her hips still, his fingers pulling her over the edge with a keening cry.

 

Sweet death released her all too soon and she found her hunger had not been sated, but driven to new heights. Jon sat supping on his fingers, eyes starved and sparkling. She would not leave him wanting.

 

She slid her hand between them and his joined her, both working to get him freed from his leathers. His legs stretched out and she shifted on his lap, giving him room. He managed to get his pants pushed down to the top of his boots and she took him in hand, stroking over the hot, hard length of him. He growled against her throat and she smiled against his temple. “Take me, my love,” she whispered. “Claim me.”

 

She found herself on her back, the stone floor beneath her, his body hovering above before she'd even blinked. One knee was tucked against his chest, the other splayed far to the side, and when he thrust forward, she saw stars, her world splitting into a thousand sharp pieces only for him to gather them together in his hands and do it all again. She couldn’t seem to take a deep enough breath as he took her over and over. It was too much, but not enough and then it was.

 

Earth shattering, life altering. Whatever one called it, she continued to shake with it as her lover kissed her back to life, claiming her with his body, filled her with his seed. He already held her heart in his hands and it wanted one thing. Never in her life had she hoped more for a child than she did at that moment. Not just any child. His child. She wanted a piece of them both, the perfection of their love to take root and blossom into the world. She wanted to give that to him, and her heart broke knowing she couldn’t. 

 

Swallowing back her tears, she pressed her head to his and kissed his cheek. “I love you,” she whispered into his ear.

 

He lifted his head and brushed his hands over her face. “I love you, too." He shook his head, a sweet and strained smile on his face. "I don’t feel those words actually say all they need to.”

 

She gave him a smile of her own. “They say plenty. I know you mean them."

 

"I do."

 

"If the water is still warm will you join me in the bath?” As much as she'd enjoyed him bathed in the blood of their enemies, she really wanted to wash it all away.

 

“Aye, and if it’s not, we’ll have them bring more. Can't let my queen get cold."

 

*~*

 

His fingers traced featherlight over her sore cheek, a frown gracing his perfect mouth, a deep furrow in his brow. She captured his fingers in her hand and kissed them as she relaxed in his arms, the furs of the bed keeping in the heat of their bodies. “How are you feeling?” she asked.

 

He snorted, his scowl growing fierce. “Why are you asking me? You’re the one that was attacked.”

 

“I know, but…" she ran her fingers into his damp curls, the cool silky strands sliding through them soothing both of them, "I was wondering if you were still simmering in your anger.”

 

He gave a sigh and shook his head, his eyes falling closed then open again in a slow blink. “It’s what I told you before. I feel as if there’s a part of me, a darkness that thrives on carnage and destruction. Relishes in it, actually. Wants to protect what I love and destroy the rest of it. I heard it today, speaking to me, encouraging me."

 

"What did it say?"

 

"It wanted me to kill and rend and burn them all. But once you were safe, it only chanted peacefully that you were mine and alive."

 

Taking a deep breath she managed to hold back her smile. “The Blood of the dragon,” she told him softly.

 

His dark eyes narrowed. “What d'you mean?”

 

Dany trailed her fingers down his neck to the scar that lay over his heart. Seeing it never failed to wake the dragon within herself. The rage at what was done to him, the sickening fear of almost never knowing him. The absolute need to protect him, what was hers. His palm slid up her back, pressing lightly, drawing her back to him. She looked up and met those dark fathomless eyes. “I think there’s more to you, Jon Snow, than even you know.”

 

She would've smiled at the sudden brooding face he pulled if her heart wasn't so fretful for him. He rolled to his back, and she followed, fitting herself along his side, his hand still held in hers. “Arya said something similar," he said after a few moments of quiet. "Thinks my mother might have been Targaryen.”

 

She leaned up on her elbow and gently turned his face to hers, brushed a curl off his forehead. “It would explain a lot,” she murmured. “That darkness you feel… I know it all too well.”

 

“Do you?”

 

She nodded. "In that moment, when the dragon wakes within me, I feel free. As if the dragon is what I've been all along, underneath this woman's facade, and the rage… it's just the permission I need to stop pretending."

 

Taking in a great breath he sat up, elbows on his raised knees, a hand burying itself in his thick hair. “That asks more questions than it answers.”

 

She followed, unable to restrain herself from comforting him, wrapping her body around his back, arms encircling his waist as she gently kissed the tensed muscles of his shoulder. “It answers a few for me," she told him, some of the pressure in her chest easing when he laid an arm over hers, linking their fingers together over his heart. "Why my dragons took to you, how you were able to ride and bond with Rhaegal, why Ghost seems perfectly fine following me around." She rested her chin on his shoulder, took in his solemn face. "It’s because you and I are linked. Always have been, it seems." A sudden rush of emotions filled her–hope and love and peace–burning her eyes, swelling her throat, making her heart swell and ache. She held him tighter, her face pressed into his hair, eyes squeezed shut. "You're my blood, Jon," she breathed into his ear, "and I am yours."

 

He turned his head towards her, his hand gripping hers tighter. “And none of it bothers you?”

 

She straightened and met his worried gaze, a gentle hand brushing a few curls behind his ear before cupping his cheek. “On the contrary,” she answered softly, shaking her head at him. “From the moment I met you, I felt it, even though I wasn't sure what exactly that was. And since," she trailed off, getting lost in his dark eyes, at how utterly beautiful he was, in all he made her feel. She stroked his sweet face, enjoying the soft tickling of his beard beneath her palm. "I haven’t felt so alone in the world anymore. The hole in my heart is nearly filled. It would explain why we’ve been so drawn to each other," she said, holding her breath, worried he wouldn't feel the same. 

 

His eyes closed and he leaned closer, bringing their foreheads together, his nose brushing along hers. “I think it’s everything about you that draws me in.”

 

The air she'd trapped in her lungs came out in a solaced sigh. While he hadn't given her quite the assurances as she had him, he didn't balk and that was enough for now. “Such pretty words," she whispered back with a smile and pressed her lips to his, kissing him tenderly. To her relief, he returned it, slow and soft at first, but soon she was pulled into his lap, his hands and mouth greedy.

 

Giving them a moment to breathe he pulled her down to the bed with him, soft lips and prickly beard nibbling at her shoulder, calloused hands sliding up her back and thigh. “Let’s stay right here, forever," he husked, palming her arse and giving it a good squeeze. "Forget everythin' else and be selfish.”

 

“Mmm, and what would we do forever?”

 

“Fuck,” he said with all seriousness and she threw her head back and laughed. He raised a cheeky eyebrow, a naughty smirk pulling at his luscious mouth. “Did you expect a different answer?” 

 

“A more poetic one, perhaps,” she said with a chuckle before nuzzling into his neck, taking a taste of his warm skin. “Though that does sound like the perfect way to wile away my days, I think the dragons would miss us.”

 

He shrugged a shoulder. “We’re bein' selfish, remember? Jus' you and me," he groaned as she took a sucking pull of his pulse, smiling at the soft clicking in his throat as he swallowed hard and how his northern brogue deepened anytime they were alone. "Only thing we'll worry about. Nothin' else."

 

“That's a beautiful dream,” she murmured, brushing her fingers through his beard as she kissed along his jaw and up to his plump lips. “But I’d miss watching you with your sword. You know what that does to me,” she said softly, moving back down to place kisses across his chest.

 

“Aye. I suppose we could leave every now and again," he breathed out as her tongue circled his nipple.

 

She lifted her head and smiled. “My king is generous.” His dark eyes darted away from her and she turned his chin towards her. “What is it?”

 

“Nothin', just not used to being a king, yet.”

 

Rising up onto her hands and knees she crawled over him. “You’re not just a king. Your my king," she declared, leaning down and brushing her lips over his. "My love," she whispered.

 

*~*

 

A soft knock at the door had him gently untangling himself from Dany. She'd fallen asleep after they'd had one another again, but he couldn't, his nerves wound too tight, the scene playing in his head over and over, the beast no longer sated from the comfort of her arms alone.

 

He was furious again, rage simmering just under the surface.

 

The questions wound through his head once more as he dressed. Could he have done something differently to keep her from getting hurt? Opened his fucking eyes and seen the problems the others had with the gates. Sensed Ghost leaving her side. Not discarded his intuition about them going off without a buffer. 

 

The knock came again and he quickly opened the door before they woke her, she needed her sleep. Arya stood on the other side. She turned away and silently made her way to the table and had a seat. After closing the door as quietly as he could he joined her. 

 

She stared at him for a moment, then poured him a goblet of ale and slid it over. He drained half of it before setting it down again and wiping a hand down his beard. "Calmer?" she asked.

 

He gave a shrug as he turned to stare into the fire. "I'd apologize for you having to see me that way, but," he turned back and looked at her serene face, "I don't think you need it."

 

"I don't," she replied quietly. 

 

They fell silent for a time, her simply observing him while he wrestled with his mind and finished his ale. He knew now Dany was right about her, knew it was why she sat across from him even then. Knew what he'd ask of her before they were done.

 

"I'm sorry I didn't go with them," she said.

 

He looked up and shook his head. It was done, there was nothing they could go back and change. "I need to know, so I can keep her safe. The training you had…"

 

"I'll stay close, I won't let anything else happen to her."

 

"That's not what I asked."

 

"You didn't ask anything actually."

 

Heaving a heavy sigh he leaned his arms on the table. "Arya, can we not play word games, please? Not now. I need—"

 

"Ever heard of the House Black and White?" she cut over him. He shook his head. "It's in Braavos. They serve the Many-Faced God."

 

He scowled. "The what?"

 

"It doesn't matter. It's where I trained, with the Faceless Men."

 

" Faceless Men. What does that mean? Who are they?"

 

"Assassins."

 

It probably shouldn't have, but that sat him back in his seat to stare at her blankly. "Your list?" he asked on an exhale. "Being here for days and no one knowing? The way you fought this morning with Brienne?" 

 

She gave one slow nod of her head. 

 

He swallowed hard, taking a moment to close his eyes and draw in a steadying breath before meeting her gaze again. "And the Frey's."

 

She nodded again and he was up and out of his chair, pacing the floor, running a hand down his face. He'd known, he had, but to have confirmation… "How?" he whispered. 

 

"Do you really want to know?"

 

He turned back to her, hands braced on the back of his chair. No , he really didn't, but he needed too. "There were so many," was all he could manage. 

 

"Poison," she said. 

 

"All of them?"

 

"Jon, they're dead. It doesn't matter how."

 

Walking around his chair, he sat back down none too gently and leaned towards her. "Then what was Walder's wife goin' on about you wearin' his face?" he protested in a low hiss. "Is that true?"

 

Her eyes closed and she let out a sigh as she pulled a small satchel off her shoulder that he'd failed to notice until then. She tossed it over to him. "Don't yell, you'll wake her up."

 

Heart resting somewhere it shouldn't be, he slowly opened the satchel. Warped and wrinkled faces greeted him. Eyeless, mouths gaping, edges jagged. He pulled one out with a trembling hand. 

 

"Don't suppose you ever met him, but that's what's left of Walder Frey," she said softly. He tried to look up, but couldn't tear his eyes away from the dead man in his hand. "With the faces I can become someone else. Speak in their voice, live in their skin. I can become anyone I want, if I only have their face."

 

"You chose this?" he asked, breathless. 

 

"I did," she answered. "I also choose to become your sworn sword."

 

That finally had him looking up from the macabre mask in his hands. "I don't need a protector," he blurted out before noticing she wasn't looking at him, but across the room. At Dany. She stood in the doorway of his bedroom, only her thin robe on, the scarlet silk bringing out the gash across her neck. His anger surged once more, washing away all the shock Arya had left him with.

 

She crossed to them and came to his side slipping Walder's face from his grasp and studying it silently for a moment. "You feel I'll still need protecting even if I promise to no longer send my guards or Ghost away again?" she asked Arya softly.

 

"I do, Your Grace."

 

Dany nodded and turned to face her. She threw Walder's on the table and placed a hand on Jon's shoulder. "And you want to do this for me?"

 

"I do. I don't trust anyone else save my brother," she answered, "and he can't be by your side every hour of the day, even if he'd like to be." 

 

His Queen leaned into him, her hand coming up and stroking over his head and around to his chin, lifting his face as she smiled down at him. "I believe he would if I let him," she said, "but you're right, he can't. He's a king here now, soon to be king of more." She gave a light chuckle at his pout, but welcomed his arm wrapping around her thighs. She turned back to Arya. "I must ask, why do you want to? You're home again, after so long away. You'll have to follow me all over the Seven Kingdoms."

 

Arya shrugged. "I never wanted to be here for the rest of my life. I wasn't meant to be a lady. And you're good for this world. I've heard enough, seen enough. You're the Queen we need." She glanced at him. "Not to mention you make Jon happy," she added with a smile. "I like him happy, I'll do what I can to help him stay that way."

 

Daenerys straightened and looked down at him, a silent conversation passing between them. He nodded and she walked over to Arya and held her hand out. "I'd be honored to have you at my side, Arya Stark."

 

His sister stood and slipped her own hand into Dany's. "The honor is mine, Your Grace." She stepped back and dropped to a knee, slipping Needle from its sheath while Jon rose to his feet.

She threw him one quick glance, eyes sparkling and bright before looking back up at their Queen. "Your Grace, I offer my services to you," she said, as courtly as any knight. "I will shield your back, and keep your counsel, and give my life for yours if need be. I swear it by the old gods and the new."

 

Daenerys' smile never wavered, serene, yet soft. Ever a queen. "And I vow you shall always have a place by my hearth," she returned, "and meat and mead at my table. I pledge to ask no service of you that may bring you dishonor. I swear it by the old gods and the new."

 

Swallowing down the sudden knot in his throat, Jon willed away the burning in his eyes. But he couldn't have felt more pride in his heart just then and he would never feel shame for it.









Chapter Text

Who's in your shadows?

Who's ready to play?

Are we the hunters?

Or are we the prey?