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when the sun sets in the east

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"Robb, no! We're not supposed to go far, Father said..." Jon closed his mouth quickly at the look his brother shot him, dark and warning. He sighed, knowing he really had no choice. If he stayed behind and something happened to Robb, he would surely bear the blame of it. He'd have to justify why he allowed the heir to Winterfell, little Lord Robb Stark, run off into the wilderness while on the Starks' official visit to White Harbor.

They should have been back at the Manderly estate, preparing for the great feast that evening that Lord Manderly was holding in honor of Lord Eddard Stark and family's visit to White Harbor, to inspect the port, meet with traders, and discuss future opportunities with some of the Essosi merchants who did limited business in the North.

It had been an exciting time, Jon thought, as he had never been to White Harbor. He was barely ten, just a year younger than Robb, who had already visited a few years before. As the Bastard of Winterfell, Jon rarely attended these types of formal family travels, but of late his lord father was gracious in allowing his attendance with his trueborn son and heir. He supposed Lord Manderly was a bit more liberal in his views, being a man of sea travel and having the influence of the flamboyant Essosi merchants who made their way through the port.

He had been allowed to even dine with the Lord, at the end of the table, but still. The look on Lady Catelyn's face had amused him, sour and upset that a lord would allow her husband's bastard to dine at his table. He'd spent the evening with Lord Manderly's granddaughters Wylla and Wynafryd. Wynafryd had green hair, which shocked Catelyn's sensibilities, but Jon thought it was fascinating. Like a real mermaid, the sigil of the Manderly house. He was quite enjoying himself and would be only slightly sad to return to Winterfell, but if it meant they would get back to the training they had been lacking in of late, he was glad for it.

It was the boring meetings and stuffy pretentious formalities that had Robb escaping from the port, sneaking off to the forest with his direwolf Grey Wind-- they were going to go hunting and Jon ended up following, his direwolf Ghost training quietly behind him. He sensed Ghost's apprehension-- they were connected in a way he didn't think the others shared-- at the prospect of going deep into teh forest, but he went anyway. He really didn't want Robb to shame him either, his brother being his only friend in this world but also his tormentor, especially when Theon got around him.

He followed as best he could, but Robb had a good head start and Grey Wind was barking, taking off even farther ahead of his master. Ghost kept pausing, wanting to turn back, but Jon couldn't leave Robb out here alone. What would Father say to that? Especially Lady Catelyn. He was lucky that he was raised in the same keep as his father's trueborn children, even luckier he received the same lessons from the castle's master-at-arms and Maester. He was even a better swordsman and archer than Robb, but he could never show it. He wished one day he would be able to, wished one day someone would recognize him as a good fighter. He was scrappy-- had to be when Robb and Theon decided they wanted to fight with fists instead of their training blades.

They called him the Bastard of Winterfell, but he also heard some of the servants refer to him as the White Wolf. He was the darkest of the Stark children, hair raven black and eyes as gray as the storm skies. He took most after their father and tended to wear darker clothing, easier to blend into the background, but it was his snow white wolf with red eyes who was his shadow, as soundless as he could be, never barking, whining, or howling. The same as the bastard had to be.

"Robb!" he shouted, pushing through some thick brush. He no longer heard the steps, the crunching in the dried leaves and branches. He turned a few times, having lost his direction. his heart began to pound in earnest, worried not only for the heir to Winterfell but for himself. He glanced at Ghost, the wolf peering up at him, red eyes unblinking, an expression of I told you on his face. He sighed, reaching for his wolf. "You'll get us home, but first we have to find Robb. Father is going to kill me."

Ghost bounded ahead, spurred by the urgency to find Robb and then they could go home. He felt the connection to the wolf in his mind, a peculiar thing. He'd asked his other siblings-- they each had a direwolf to call their own-- if they shared similar connections, but none of them really knew what he was talking about. Little Arya said she had dreams, Sansa ignored him, and Robb said yeah, sometimes he thought he could feel where Grey Wind was, but when Jon prompted him for further explanation-- did he actually see what Grey Wind could see or feel what Grey Wind felt? He had awoken one morning and thought he could taste blood in his mouth after Ghost had killed a deer in the forest. Tiny Bran, just a toddler, said he slept like a wolf. He wasn't sure what that was supposed to mean.

They made their way through, the sky darkening, and Jon grew more concerned. "Robb!" he yelled, pushing around another thicket of trees, suddenly lurching forward, his ankle snagging on a hidden tree root, before stumbling down a sloping hill to a rocky beach, closing his eyes and lifting his arms over his face as he tumbled through the rocks. He landed with a hard thud, wincing at the scrap on his forehead, blood trickling into his eyes. "Fuck," he muttered, looking around, blinking as the blood blurred the vision in his right eye.

He didn't have time to scream for Robb, his mind suddenly flashing, eyes rolling back as he felt the squeezing on his inside, the tearing at his limbs, and taste of human flesh in his mouth, tearing and trying to break free. Four men, all of them foul and hideous, with missing teeth and torn dirty clothes of the Essosi sailors, tried to pin him to the beach, screaming about how he'd fetch a good price for that fat Magister's menagerie!

Ghost!

Ghost was in trouble. Ghost needed him. He had to get to him.

Ghost was his only family in that moment. The only living creature who actually sought him out, depended on him, needed him, and he had to get to him.

People wanted him, they were hurting him, he tried to fight back, but they were slamming things into him, clubs or something, maybe even their boots. There were too many, he couldn't get to them, he was weak...he was losing...no...no....

"No!" he screamed, bellowing out as his connection to his wolf severed, blood roaring through his ears as he returned to his body, crouching on the rocks, almost sick to his stomach at the sensations. He screamed for Robb, Grey Wind, someone, and took off in the direction he knew he'd find Ghost. He had only his sword, barely a sharp thing, but it was something. He whipped it from the scabbard and swung at the first man he saw.

There were four of them, each one worse off than the last. They had piercings in their face and ears, some had colored tattoos up their arms and faces. Pirates. Slavers. He had heard stories from Ned, saying that some people thought it was acceptable to take humans and sell them as if they were cattle, priced by the head and those people had nothing, no rights and no lives, living only to serve another.

"The gods do not forgive slavery and neither do I, any man in the North who is caught with a slave or engaging in the practice will be summarily exiled, all lands and titles lost.", Ned told him once during their lessons. He was explaining the situation of the former Lord of Bear Island, who sold to gain money to pay for his wife's outrageous living styles and debts. Jon heard the story, knew it was a sad affair, although he'd never been to Bear Island, had never met the man. He knew the man's father had stepped down to become a Night's Watchman, was the Lord Commander there now.

Slavers did not venture into the North as easily as they did in the south, but these ones had stumbled onto the shores, and they were trying to take his direwolf with them. They were going to kill him. Jon would die, he'd die before someone took Ghost, his only true family. He swung out again, managing to graze the exposed arm of one of the men who was holding the corner of the sack, which Ghost was currently half bound up in. "Fucking cunt!" he roared. "Little bastard got me!"

Do not call me a bastard.

Something overcame him, he could no longer see. It was all red and black and angry flames. He was not sure where his sword was, or where his fists were either. He was using both. He was swinging out, knuckles scraping on the sailors' heavy boiled leather and straggly furs. Something snagged, maybe someone's earring and he heard screams but he couldn't tell if they were his or theirs.

He came off the ground, feet lifting, and swung some more, hearing another call him a bastard. "I'm not!" he yelled, even if it was true. He was a bastard.

Another with a gravelly voice spoke in a different language he didn't recognize what they were saying; he was absolutely shit with languages, Maeater Luwin always said. He knew that they didn't all speak Common Tongue in Essos, if that's where these men were from. They had to be, no Westerosi would think to do what they were doing on the Northern shores. I hope my lord father looks for me, he briefly wondered.

The biggest one, with the deepest voice, shouted. "This one is a fighter! Got some meat on those young muscles, I'd say he's good for the pits."

"Pretty face and curls, he could go to Lys, be a bed warmer."

"Fuck that, the pits give more money the brothels."

"And the dog?"

The leader hit the one on the back of the head with the palm of his hand, rolling his eyes at his subordinate's insolence. "That ain't a dog you Summer Island shit, that's a direwolf. Like I said, Maester Mopatis loves his foreign animals. He's going to the menagerie. Get them both."

"Sword's got a wolf on it. It's good steel."

"Leave the fucking thing behind, they'll think he drowned himself or something."

It was hard to tell what else they were saying. He was too busy screaming and kicking and flailing about attempting to break free, but the two who didn't speak the Common Tongue, the ones with the heavy foreign tongues spoke again, were holding him tight. He felt one of them jerk on his hair, which had come undone, tilting his neck up. The leader, the tall big one, leaned forward, grinning and showing missing teeth between two giant gold false ones. There was an ugly red scar on his face. "You are going to make me some good money where we're going."

"Fuck you," he spit, blood in his mouth.

They all laughed. "Yeah, he's going to Meereen," teh leader laughed.

Where was Meereen? He had never heard of it. His stomach flipped, bile lurching in his throat. They were going to kidnap him. He struggled. "You could make money off me," he said.

"That's the point."

"No, here." Words flew from his mouth before he could think. "I'm the bastard son of Eddard Stark, Lord Paramount of the North, Lord of Winterfell...Warden of the North. He'll pay for me." Gods I hope he'd pay for me. He'd pay ransom for Robb.

The other one, a bit shorter, with greasy bright red hair and a tattoo on his face, looked nervous. "You want to steal away a lord's son?"

"Bastard son," the tall one spat. He laughed. "They actually believe that bastards are less than the ones between married husbands and wives. Fucking Westerosi." He took out a dagger from his belt. It was shiny silver with emeralds on the hilt. The tip of the blade, curved steel, glinting the pale sunlight from between the clouds, touched at the bottom of his chin, forcing him to look up further.

He held his breath, unsure what the slaver intended now. Set him free? Kill him? If you kill me, kill Ghost too, because he will murder you all. He prayed for Robb to appear. Or their father, or someone. He closed his eyes when the knife skimmed over his left eye, grazing above his eyebrow and the top of his cheekbone. It was so sudden, so light, he barely felt it, but the sting spread through his face a moment later, the blood welling up at the mark. He exhaled hard, chest still rising and falling from his exertions trying to fend them off and save Ghost.

The heavy furs he wore weighed him down and he wished he hadn't worn the cloak; maybe he would have been able to move freer. The leader grinned again. "You're coming with us boy. I don't give a fuck if your father is the king of this fucking world. You're gonna' be a fighter, I can always tell. Gonna' make me some money. You and that little wolf of yours."

Not Ghost.

He lunged, but received a kick in the ribs, choking on the breath catching in his throat. "Ghost," he whispered, closing his eyes, trying to seek him out. He wondered where Robb had run off to, fucking Robb.

They lifted him up, arms pinned and he struggled, screaming for Ghost, for Robb, for anyone, but they just laughed and carried him off. He couldn't see, a hood pulled down over his face, and his senses overstimulated, trying to figure out where they were dragging him. If they had to get him to a ship, surely someone would notice?

No, they wouldn't. He'd been to the port yesterday to tour it with Father and Robb. There were so many ships, colorful sails and designs and mastheads. They came and went like the wind that took them North, going to all the ports along the eastern shore and around the south, through the Stepstones to the West and the Sunset Sea or going east again, to the northern shores of Essos, Ib and Braavos, or down south to the other Free Cities. He'd even heard tell of some that made the grueling journey as far east as the mysterious Shadowlands city of Assh'ai.

He had not heard of this Meereen. He wondered what the pits were they referred to, he shuddered at the thought of them forcing him to become a bedslave. fuck that, I'll kill myself before I do that. He would never father bastards. It was his only vow he'd made thus far in life.

They were going to sell Ghost to some Magister. To be a sideshow in some rich man's home. Ghost was a direwolf, he belonged in the North, he was a wild animal, he was not meant to be penned up, to be someone's pet. He hated it when people referred to them as that; the direwolves were their companions, their equals. They answered to no one but the gods.

He closed his eyes tight, trying not to inhale the filthy smell of the black hood, unable to see anyway, his shoulders aching from the prolonged position pinned behind him, and he gasped in shock as his head struck something hard, jostling as the smell of saltwater and the sound of the waves began to wash over him. Maybe they'll just drown me. No, this man would get his money's worth, he suspected. He wondered where Robb was, prayed to the old gods surrounding them that they protected him and Grey Wind from whoever these men were, from whatever fate lay before him.

They were putting him into a boat, he realized, probably a dinghy, to take him to the greater vessel somewhere off the coast. He wished he could feel Ghost, but the connection was weak and thready. At least it was there. At least he was still alive. He tried to find him, but he couldn't, could only hope the thud of something beside him, pressing against him was his wolf. I'll get us out of here. Somehow.

As he was wondering how best to approach the situation, running through the drills that Ser Cassel taught them for fighting, assessing their opponents, he felt pain explode behind his eyes and then everything went black.

 

~/~/~/~

"Move it boy!"

Fuck you.

The sun was the hottest thing he had ever experienced. Hotter even than the fires in the great hall at Winterfell, the flames that had once licked at his hand, burning one of his fingers when he was a stupid little boy not paying attention as he tended to the coals. He could barely see, sweat and dried dirt and blood caking his face and falling into his vision. He kept his eyes slit shut most of the time, open just enough to try to find his way, but it really didn't matter.

They'd just drag you along anyway, hands bound to the person in front, trudging along, his boots worn almost completely through in the soles, covered in sand and dust, his feet blistered and bruised, so numb from the trek he sometimes wondered if they'd just fallen off and he imagined them there. He was exhausted all the time, there was no sleeping. Even when they stopped-- hardly-- it was the sounds of people screaming as they were beaten, raped, and tormented. The sound of the whips cracked through the air, the worst was when they finally met their target, someone's back or face.

He had seen things in Winterfell that most shouldn't have to witness; he'd seen his first execution of a Night's Watch deserter when he was only six years of age. He'd seen people lose their limbs to frostbite, fire, careless acts. Heads crashed in by wild horses and falling off ramparts. Arrow wounds, sword wounds, and the like. It was a tough, hard existence in the North and Ned Stark made sure his bastard son was there for it all, just like Robb, so they would know the world where they lived. Become as hard and immobile as the rest of the Northerners.

This was far worse.

The ship had been bad enough, tossed about in the bowels of it, covered in filth and grime, constantly damp from the leak in the cells where they kept him. He had Ghost for his company, thank the gods, and each time they stopped in port he wondered if that was it. If they'd just decide to kill him and his wolf and be done with it. If maybe City Watch in Kings Landing would come aboard or the knights of Dunskendale when they stopped there. If that was where they stopped.

It had been months of it, months of wondering, and sickness and he barely had any food. He got used to the horrible, gnawing feeling in his stomach and the ache in his bones. Sometimes they dragged him out and showed him off to the crew and others who joined the ship, throwing him a dull sword and making him fight for his supper. Ghost was weak, his front leg injured from the initial attack, and he could barely fight as well. He tried to go into his wolf's mind, to reassure him, but all he felt was pain and the same lost feeling when he closed his eyes and journeyed into Ghost.

He whispered to the wolf not to do anything, as much as hew anted to save him and escape, he had to survive, because that was what they had to do. As hard as it was, as painful, they needed to live. Trying to fight out of it would only end in death.

Ghost was still alive, the one they planned tos ell him too apparently in this Meereen. He was tied up to one of the wagons, his mouth bound in cord to keep from biting, and Jon was never out of sight of him. It was like they knew that something would happen if they were separate. He was picking up some of the words they spoke, the strange language that sounded like it should have been prettier. He didn't meet many others who spoke the Common Tongue, and he'd learned to keep his mouth shut.

Speaking did no good.

He gazed at the body of a young man who had tried to speak, tried to ask for water, but had received a whip to the face, slashing it open and dropping him dead. He tried to figure out just what exactly these people planned to do with them and where they were going from here. They had disembarked in a location he believed to be Pentos. He had seen it on some maps in the library during Robb's lessons. On the Narrow Sea.

Except instead of being in Pentos, they had begun to walk, marching through the desert, gathering from villages along the way. The slavers were building up their merchandise, he ascertained. They were trying to find young men like him, ones who could mold into fighters. He had had to fight a lot. He had put on more muscle, despite the lack of nutrition, if only because of the walking and the fighting. He'd had to learn how to make them happy in the fights, to entertain.

It sickened him. He'd never killed another man before, but he had to do it. Father said that one day he would need to kill a man, to take the life, as keeping the peace and doling justice was their responsibility. He always said you looked a man in the eye when you took his life, it was the only respect you could give in those last moments.

There were lots of things father said to him. A man is only brave when he is scared. That one he'd taken to heart. It was his mantra. He was scared all the time. He had to be. Scared that the scraps of food were his last, were Ghost's last. S cared the injuries he sustained would fester and he'd die in a pile of shit and piss. Scared that each time they whipped him for some perceived insult would be the last feeling he felt before he died.

Scared he'd never see home again.

He stared up at the sky at night, wondering if they were looking for him. If Robb had ever been found. If Father was sending out search parties. They couldn't imagine he was placed on a ship, he wondered. He wasn't sure if the Old Gods were there, in this strange land, but if they were, he prayed that they were listening to him.

They had raided a village that morning, were walking through the heat. He had picked up enough of the language to realize that they were stopping, apparently there was something called Dothraki nearby. He had heard the word before, but couldn’t remember from where. Whoever these Dothraki were, they were fierce enough to frighten the captors.

He’d said goodbye to the leader of the group that had stolen him away from the North when they passed him over to a new group that took him with the others in Pentos. They were heading south, from what he gathered, watching the sun carefully, grateful that Ned taught them about star and moon navigation. It was entirely strange, without his furs, his skin peeling and cracked from the heat, shiny red face and his hair feeling like he had a hooded cape on his head.

He remained standing in the line with the rest of the others, keeping an eye on Ghost, who was silently growling at the men walking by him. There was a palpable fear in them. They were grabbing weapons. He had always been good at observing, you had to be as a bastard, to stick to the shadows and survey the people around you. He was always better at it than Robb, could tell what people were thinking and feeling almost before they could. Hide his emotions and mask his face into anything they needed.

The mask had been up the entire time, from the moment that hood came over his face on the stony shore outside of White Harbor.

A brief feeling of hope alighted in his stomach, at the thought that the slavers feared these Dothraki, and he wondered if perhaps this was his chance. He turned his head, hearing the sound before they did, his lips turning slightly upward.

Hooves.

There were horses approaching. Thousands of them, if he gathered correctly, moving quickly in the line towards the wagon, tugging on the ropes that bound him to the others, ducking down when the cloud of shadows and sand began to gather around. The slavers began screaming, shouting commands and trying to round them up, but everyone began to panic, trying to get away, to break free in the chaos.

It would do no good, he thought, keeping low, his eyes on Ghost. Not yet, he warned his wolf, who had bristled at the tension in the air. He had to get to Ghost, to grab him and hurry off. The wolf was exhausted, the heat was not for him, but he had withstood it this long. We’ll be free soon.

His eyes widened, stunned, as the horses approached, his mouth falling open. It was a sight to behold, something he had never dreamed of seeing. Men, wearing leathers and their hair braided, some as long as to their shoulders, riding horses with and without saddles, wielding massive curved blades, and others standing on the horses, firing arrows faster than the others could draw their swords or daggers.

An arrow hit a little too close to him and he lunged for it, tugging it free of the ground, the blade still sharp, cracked from firing into the earth, but he could still get it. He bit his lower lip, fighting with the adrenaline coursing through him, the focus to get the ropes free. The Dothraki screamed, rounding their horses around as they swept and slashed, taking out the slavers. They were not here to save them, he was sure, ignoring the screams of the people as the Dothraki killed the ones they wanted and grabbed for the women and some of the men. They knocked at the wagons and grabbed the horses.

They were pillaging, he realized, hissing in success when the ropes around his wrist broke free. Some of the slaves had metal chains binding them, either by their ankles, wrists, or in some cases their necks. He didn’t have a metal collar, they preferred to bind him with ropes or chains on his wrists, but he was roped that day. The gods are helping me..

If there were such things as gods anymore in this hellish existence.

He unwound the ropes, yelling for Ghost, the wolf dancing in place, struggling to get loose, to either join the fight or flee to him. He darted through the chaos, snatching up a fallen metal blade, not realizing it was the curved ones that these Dothraki wielded. He spun around, slashing out as someone grabbed for him, one of the slavers, trying to kill him with a dagger between his ribs.

“Fuck you,” he roared, recognizing it as one who had taken pleasure in raping the women. He swung the strange blade, heavy in his hand, heavier than any sword he had carried, and was stunned when it connected with the slaver’s chest, slicing cleanly through. His eyes widened, stomach clenching at the gory mess that the man had become, but his mind went black, single-focused.

Ghost.

The Dothraki continued to scream in their language, harsh guttural sounds, and he grabbed another fallen blade, slicing through Ghost’s bindings, freeing him from the wagon and the muzzle. He spun his head around, once Ghost lunged by him, falling backwards into the sand, the wolf flying up to tear the throat out of another who had been tasked with keeping the wolf bound up.

“Good boy,” he muttered, taking the weird sickle blade and slashing out again, trying to get out of the mess of people that had surrounded him. He didn’t think it was wise to use the Dothraki weapon to kill a Dothraki and right now they weren’t going after him. It was almost like they couldn’t even see him. They were busy raiding the supplies and the people, taking down the slavers and the others who were trying to go after them.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw a horse fall, taken out by one of the slavers’ blades, and a young Dothraki about his age get pinned beneath the dead beast. He saw Ghost feasting on one of the dead horses, needing the sustenance. He knew Ghost would be okay and ran for the young Dothraki, grabbing his hands and hauling him up, not saying anything, but frowning at the strange look the young man gave him, before he heard a sound and a shadow fell over them.

It was one of the nastiest of the slavers, a dagger in his hand, lifting to slash down to take out the Dothraki, but Jon moved faster, slipping easily under the aloft arm and using the sickle blade, slicing through the man’s middle and knocking him down, enough to grab the dagger, spin around onto his back and slice his neck, blood pouring over his hands.

It was warm, that was his first thought. Fresh from the source, like deer when they killed them in the North.

I didn’t look him in the eyes, was his second thought.

Good riddance was the third. Men like that didn’t deserve respect when their life ended.

Jon fell to his feet, covered in blood, chest rising and falling, each exhale a relief. He lifted his face to the sun, the heat washing over him, but a breeze on his dirty, matted hair. Freedom.

The Dothraki circled around him, Ghost at his side growling, and hackles raised. He gripped the blade, eyes shifting from horse to horse, warrior to warrior. They were formidable. They were terrifying. Eyes painted black and some with paint streaked along their arms and bare chests. Gold belts and medallions and some had bells in their braided hair. They screamed and shouted in their language, some laughing and pointing to him with their blades.

The young Dothraki spoke to another, who broke through the group. He was their leader, Jon realized, sitting atop a massive black horse, bells and ribbons wrapped in the horse’s mane and saddle. He stared up at him, not backing down, refusing to show weakness. If this was how he died, he’d at least go out with a weapon in his hand and Ghost at his side.

Kill me if you must, he thought.

The man was gigantic, heavily muscled chest and arms, leather gauntlets and straps wrapped up to his elbows. He looked as though he were born on a horse. What struck Jon was his hair. It was braided and knotted from the top of his head almost to the seat of the saddle. Not everyone had their braids and hair that long. He wondered if it was a sign of power.

He frowned up at him, wondering what the other Dothraki was saying. The older one spoke again and nodded to someone. He glanced at a young warrior who approached and slid off his horse. “You are from the West,” the warrior said, his accent thick but understandable.

Relief flowed through him at hearing his language. “Yes,” he answered. Best to keep it short, hes supposed.

“Your beast?”

“Yes,” he said. He touched Ghost’s head, wishing the wolf to sit, which he did. He hesitated and then nodded. “He will not hurt you…if you hurt me…he will kill you.”

The man translated for the others, who all laughed. The Dothraki smiled, hands on his hips. He nodded to the blade. “You fight.”

“Yes.”

“Slave?”

He scowled, gritting his teeth. “No more.”

They all exchanged more words. The man nodded to him again. “You stand before Khal Bharbo, the fiercest and greatest of the khals. You saved his son, our future khal, Drogo.” He nodded to the younger Dothraki man, who appeared several years older than he was. The one, Drogo, glared at him, but said nothing.

Jon wanted to snap at him, tell him that he should be grateful he saved his life, but he kept his mouth shut. He was irritated that they were prolonging this. Just kill him or let him go. He needed to get back home. He looked at the other man. “I’m Jon.”

“Jon,” he tested. He laughed and the big one, the leader, Bharbo, said something. The man nodded. He shook his head and gestured to the wolf. “You are Verro now. Wolf. You have protection of Khal Bharbo, for saving his son’s life. You will come with us.”

“I need to get to Westeros.”

“No,” Bharbo said, voice clear. He tugged on the reins of the horse, shaking his head again. He said something again to the translator, who replied back to him. Bharbo smirked. “Dothraki. Verro. Zasqa Ver.

What does that mean?

Another Dothraki approached and provided him with a horse. He stared at it, frowning, and the translator glared at him again. “You ride, or you die, you are in protection of Bharbo’s khalasar now.” He chuckled. “White Wolf. Zasqa Ver.

Zasqa Ver.

He had no idea where he was. He was tired, hungry, and injured. So was Ghost. He was a fool if he thought he could just turn around and walk back the miles they’d gone from Pentos. Or wherever they were. He had no money. No name…nothing to trade. He gripped his wolf’s fur, closing his eyes, translating his thoughts to the beast, who returned back with his own.

We will go home. Soon. I promise.

He took the reins of the horse and watched them; they were all staring at him, waiting. He sensed these people would kill him not for talking back, but for being unable to mount a horse properly. He held the blade in his hand and in one sweeping move, he lifted onto the horse, straddling it and muscles screaming in protest. They all chuckled, but were pleased with his form, it seemed. He looked at Ghost who was limping and stopped the horse, dismounting.

They stared at him as he lifted the wolf, carefully placing him atop the horse, Ghost not happy with the position, but recognizing he had to rest. He lifted onto the horse again and adjusted the blade’s handle in a loop, where it was within reach if he had to wield it again. It was strange. It was heavy, but he felt more comfortable with it than he did the sword. He looked around at them and waited, the translator smiling briefly before they set off.

He gazed at the carnage, the burning wagons and the dead men and women. He heard screaming still, many still taken by the Dothraki, but he could say nothing. He had to wait. He had to be careful and watch and wait. He felt the eyes of them on him, studying him, and he let the horse take the lead, feeling Ghost’s heart under his palm. It was the two of them and they had to get back to the North, to Winterfell.

To what though? To being a bastard?

The Dothraki shouted around him, the translator approaching, nodding to the weapon. “You wield an arakh well, for an Andal.”

“I am not an Andal.” They were the others, the ones from the South. He stared ahead, shoulders slumping with exhaustion, the ebb of the rushing emotions from the fight, from always being on edge for the past months. He didn’t even know when he last slept or ate. He took something the man offered him, unsure what it was, but believing he was supposed to eat it. He split it in half and offered some to Ghost, who nibbled before taking it and swallowing whole.

The translator frowned. “What are you then, White Wolf?”

I guess that is what I am. Jon, the White Wolf, the Bastard of Winterfell. Jon Snow.

They would not know what snow was, he thought, the horse plodding in the sand and dirt. He looked sideways. “I am one of the First Men,” he said, quiet. The First Men of Westeros, the founders of the North. The true North. He was as far from the North as he could be though. On the other side of the world even.

The translator chuckled. “You are Verro now.”

Verro.

“Ver means wolf?” he deduced.

“Yes. Verro.”

My name is Jon Snow, he thought, and I am going to go home. Home to Winterfell, home to the North, but for now…he glanced over at the Dothraki his age, the one named Drogo, who was continuing to shoot him dark looks. No doubt embarrassed he had to be saved by the White Wolf, he figured. He glanced at Ghost, who was peering up with red eyes. “We’ll be home soon,” he vowed.

But for now, he would have to be Verro.

Just another mask to survive.

 

~/~/~/~

Many Years Later…

They had burned Viserys’s body, until there was nothing left but ashy, crumbling bones and a golden crown. She buried them, despite Jorah’s protests that she shouldn’t, that he could do it, but she had to, because he was her brother and as vile and horrible he had been to her, he was still her blood.

And I am the last Targaryen.

There was no one but her now, no one but her and her child, she thought, cupping her hand over the slight swell over her stomach. She closed her eyes, her little Rhaego inside of her, growing strong. The Stallion that Mounts the World. Her stomach churned, still roiling from the loss of her brother, the fear at what lay before her, and the mounting pressure on her shoulders as she came to terms with what had truly happened.

Viserys was dead, I am the true Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.

The whole reason she was here, in this grassy sea, with people she still feared but who had become her people, had become her family, was because of Viserys. Because he sold her like a horse to Khal Drogo for his 40,000 men, but with no ships to carry them over the poisonous waters to Westeros, was good was it? Of course Viserys never thought that far ahead, never thought beyond his goal of taking back what the Usurper stole from their family, from him.

“He was a good brother,” she murmured, for a short time. He cared for her when she was small, after they’d had to flee Braavos, shielded her as best he could from the violence of the assassins killing the Darry family and wrenching her from what little happy life she’d had to the reality of what lay before her. Running, never settling, starving, never full. The light went out when he sold their mother’s crown. That was when Viserys lost whatever heart he might have had, whatever love he may still have had in his heart for his little sister, and she became nothing more than a pawn for him to get back the Iron Throne.

She twisted her mother’s ring on her finger, the last piece of the Targaryen monarchy, save her. She looked at it, the pearl in the dragon’s mouth, and closed her eyes, seeking strength she knew lay within her. The strength that kept her standing after those vicious, horrifying first weeks with the Dothraki. The strength that she tapped into so she could take back what little control she might have had with Drogo, to keep her from getting hurt. The strength that she had to have so she could be the khaleesi they needed her to be and she knew she was. She was going to be a mother. She was going to be the queen.

“Khaleesi,” a soft voice called for her.

The call from Jorah tore her attention from staring off at the molten sun in the sky, gazing out at nothing as she sat with her thoughts. She remained on the large rock, her knees drawn to her chest as best as could be, with her slight belly in the way now. She smiled over at him, grateful for his presence here in these moments. “Jorah,” she greeted. She turned her palm upwards, gesturing to the rock beside her. “Come sit with me.”

“It is not safe for you to be here alone,” he chastised.

“I’m fine.” The khalasar was around her. Drogo’s khalasar. Her khalasar. She looked over shoulder, the people moving about, gathering and working. Even when not on the move there was always something to do. She wanted to go back into the markets, to see the spices, perfumes, seeds, and silks of the Free Cities. Something to take her mind from the fact that she was the last Targaryen. She had so much to do now, so much to think about, but she needed a moment. Just a moment to be a woman looking at pretty scarves. Not that she’d been allowed to do that before.

Jorah helped her up to her feet, offering her his waterskin. “You need to drink, it is hot today.”

“When is it not?” she replied, taking the skin with a smile. She sipped carefully, gazing back out at the tents behind her, some of them more structured like real houses. She frowned, watching sand and dirt churn up in the distance. Her hand lifted, pointing. “What’s happening there?”

Jorah tensed beside her. “Another khalasar approaches.”

“Will there be trouble?”

“No weapons in Vaes Dothrak.”

She remembered, sighing at Viserys’s foolish decision to maintain his dagger. “Yes of course.” But no weapons doesn’t mean there won’t be trouble. She stepped over some of the rocks at the base of the boulder where she’d been sitting, walking back to the path that led to the tent she shared with Drogo. “Let’s return. Perhaps we could go back to the markets?”

“If you feel up to it, yes.”

They approached the tents, but Jorah stopped her as some of the horses ran by, their saddles and manes tied with white scraps of fabric. She frowned, noting that many of the horses were black. That was odd, she figured, wondering whose khalasar this happened to be. She’d heard of some of the other khals, not as great as Drogo, and knew that they would fight and slaughter each other in the sea once they were out of Vaes Dothrak, each one fighting to be the strongest.

The Dothraki only follow strength.

Jorah gripped at her arm suddenly, when Drogo emerged from the tent, waiting it seemed as the horses slowed, parting to allow their khal through the street. “We need to go,” he said. He tugged urgently. “You need to get to safety.”

“Why?”

“This is Khal Verro’s khalasar, I don’t know how this is going to go.”

“Who is Khal Verro?” she wondered. It was a name she had not heard. Her eyes widened, seeing why the other Dothraki began to shift, watching nervously. Her mouth fell open. “Oh my.”

Walking forward was the biggest wolf she had ever seen. It stood so tall that it’s head came to the tops of some of the women and even a few of the men. It dwarfed children, immediately pulled back by their mothers as the wolf walked by. It was snow white, its fur shaggy, shaved down in some areas, likely for the heat. It wasn’t the size of it though, or the incredible blinding color of its fur that caught Dany’s attention, but the beast’s eyes.

They were blood-red, unblinking, and had latched onto hers.

She ignored Jorah’s hand, stepping forward, transfixed. It was a beautiful animal. Magic, she thought, reaching her hand, unable to think beyond wondering what the fur felt like or the black nose that sniffed at her, the red eyes still focused on hers. A peculiar prickling at the base of her neck made her think the wolf was trying to read her mind. It was so human.

Drogo reached for her, saying something about not touching it, but she didn’t listen, she wanted to scratch the wolf’s ears all of a sudden. Wanted to nuzzle into its fur and pet its head, which were absolutely insane thoughts, as this was not a dog, but a wolf.

“Drogo.”

The voice that spoke her husband’s name was quiet. She looked over, surprised again, staring at the speaker. The rider of the black horse was not Dothraki. He had dark springy curls that were bound in a braid, knotted and tied down to his shoulders. Despite the sun and the heat, he wore a loose black tunic, the sleeves cut off at the elbows and black gauntlets from his wrists to his forearms. His skin was not dark like Drogo’s or the other Dothraki, but still tanned from the sun. It was his eyes though that drew her attention.

They were dark, practically black. He stared at her, beside Drogo, and she tensed when a flicker of anger crossed it. She had been used to watching Viserys for any trace that his mood would change. It was a self-preservation skill she prided herself on having. She saw the creases in the corners of his eyes, the way his nostrils flared, and his lips set in a tight line.

Before she knew it, Jorah had grabbed for her arm, the new khal flying off his horse and the wolf at his side, advancing on Drogo. He spoke Dothraki, shouting at her husband. “Did you kidnap her? Steal her away from her family?”

Drogo shouted back. “She’s my wife! Her brother gave her to me, she’s with child, with the Stallion that Mounts the World!” He seemed eager to show her off and she stepped forward, frowning at the new khal, who was still angry, black eyes glaring at Drogo.

They shouted at each other some more, so fast she couldn’t follow, even though her Dothraki had gotten considerably better. She nudged Jorah. “What are they saying?” she whispered.

Jorah tensed beside her. “He’s accusing Drogo of stealing you, says to return to you to your family. Drogo is saying that the khalasar is your family. You’re his wife and Verro has no reason to be upset with him.”

“Verro?” Ver meant wolf. She supposed it made sense. She glanced at the white wolf again, who was still looking at her. Watching her every move.

They continued to fight, until whatever Drogo told him seemed to satisfy him. He glanced at her, nodding slightly. She frowned, walking towards him. “My name is Daenerys,” she said, using Dothraki, although she suspected maybe he also spoke Valyrian, if he was from the Free Cities. Or maybe even Common Tongue. She cocked her head, lifting her chin. “Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen.”

Verro smiled; it was so brief she almost missed it. Most probably would. He looked over to Jorah, staring at him for a moment before his eyes narrowed. He said nothing, scowling at Jorah, who stood protectively behind her. He clicked his tongue and the wolf went to his side as he jumped back up onto the horse. He kept his eyes on hers for a moment longer, before his heels went into the sides of the horse and he took off, the wolf galloping after him, the rest of his khalasar following.

Her curiosity peaked, she didn’t listen to Drogo when he summoned her into the tent, turning to face Jorah, who was hiding his face from her. “Who was that?” she demanded. She had to know. The strange khal with his own khalasar and a massive white wolf. How have I never heard of him before?

“I have never seen him in person, only heard.”

“Tell me.” She arched an eyebrow, hands going to her hips. “Do not make me order you Jorah.”

That had a small smile on his face. He took a deep breath and released it slowly. “That was Khal Verro they call him, although I do not know his true name. He is from Westeros. He was raised with Drogo, if you believe the stories. Separated after Bharbo died, formed his own khalasar.” He paused and took a deep breath. “He’s from Westeros.”

Westeros. “He is dark,” she murmured, thinking of those eyes and the black of his hair. She peered to Jorah again. “His wolf is enormous.”

“Some say it is a direwolf, but those are only found in the far North of Westeros. It is impossible for him to be here.” He paused. “You would have a lot in common with him.”

Her brow furrowed. “Because we’re both from Westeros?”

Jorah smiled. “Because his khalasar does not enslave, rape, or pillage.”

“Oh?”

“That was why he was upset with Drogo. He worried you had been enslaved. Were forced to be his khaleesi. He does not come to Vaes Dothrak often, from what I’ve heard.” Jorah frowned briefly. “The direwolf is the sigil of House Stark.”

Her nose wrinkled. “Usurper’s dogs.”

“Lord Eddard Stark was the one who saved my life, khaleesi. He exiled me when he could have had my head.”

She was grateful for Lord Stark for that much, she supposed, but not for what had happened before. He was Robert Baratheon’s best friend, he was part of the rebellion that caused her family’s downfall. She could never forgive that. She gazed down the street where the intriguing Verro had disappeared. “I wonder what his real name is,” she whispered, almost to herself.

“If we are lucky we will not see him again. If we do beyond Vaes Dothrak, you know what would have to happen.”

Yes. The khals would fight each other and she glanced towards the tent where Drogo waited. She took a deep breath, slowly releasing it. She wanted to know more, she wasn’t sure why. There was something in his eyes she recognized. Something not even Jorah could know. She couldn’t put a name to it or fully describe it, but there was an emptiness inside of them she understood. The red eyes of the wolf staring into her remained in her mind, even throughout the night.

She turned from Jorah, not voicing her hope. She hoped she’d see him again. “We will go to the Western Market tomorrow,” she announced. “I should like to see some of the wares again.”

“Of course khaleesi.”

Jorah didn’t need to know that she hoped she’d see this mysterious Western khal again.

Chapter Text

It was probably wrong of him to do so, but once he was closed in his tent, he closed his eyes, cleared his mind, and sought out Ghost. The wolf had gone on a walk, circling the encampment, checking for threats, probably trying to find scraps of food since he knew he couldn't hunt within the confines of Vaes Dothrak. He saw through his eyes, shared the same curiosity towards the silver-haired khaleesi that Drogo had taken to wife. He padded silently around the edge of the dosh khaleen tent, moving through the narrow alleys and makeshift streets towards the markets.

People jumped out of the way as he moved, they always did. Some muttered Verro knowing his name. He was not the most bloodthirsty, he certainly didn't kill just for fun like some of the khals did, and he never took women into his khalasar-- or his bed-- without their permission. You rode with him because you wanted to ride with him. The quiet khal, some of them referred to him, but mostly it was the name they'd gifted him when Bharbo's khalasar freed him from the slavers— Zasqa Ver. White Wolf.

Ghost wanted to know what they were doing, he could feel it, since it was daytime and not night when they usually shared their minds. Just find her, he advised. He wanted to know more. He'd heard the stories of course, the Beggar King, moving from Free City to Free City living off the handouts of those who remembered the good old days when the Targaryens ruled the Seven Kingdoms. No one spoke much of the sister-- the spare heir as it were. She was never going to be queen so why should it matter? The only use she had was a bargaining chip, a piece of cattle to trade.

It roiled his stomach and he felt Ghost's agitation at it as well. Drogo had never liked him, the Andal they insisted on calling him as he grew up with the khalasar, learning to wield the arakh, getting his first braid in his hair from one of the khal's wives after he'd killed another slaver they'd come upon. He never spilled blood of the innocents. The man who passes the sentence shall swing the sword.

He'd heard from one of his men that Drogo was making his way to Vaes Dothrak with his khalasar, to seek the blessing of his marriage by the dosh khaleen. He'd married a silver-haired woman with king's blood, as payment for his men to fight for the woman's brother-- the true king of the Land Beyond the Sea. Some knew he was from Westeros-- many just assumed he was from one of the Free Cities, maybe from Braavos or something, and he never corrected them even if he could barely speak any of the Free City Valyrian dialects. He had to see this for himself, see what sort of man sold his sister for 40,000 men and their horses.

He wanted to save her, if he could.

Then there came word that the man was dead, the Beggar King, threatening and wielding a weapon in the Temple of the Dosh Khaleen. Immediate death by Drogo. He had to see for himself, with his own eyes.

Or Ghost's eyes as it were.

Ghost wandered the stalls, intent on his mission. Find her. He scanned the various merchants, tradesmen, and Dothraki who wandered about. If she wasn't there, she was likely still in Drogo's camp. That would limit his ability to get in, at least during daylight. He shuddered to think what Drogo had done to her. He couldn't kill the man-- he wasn't stupid, Drogo and his bloodriders were vicious and Jon didn't have that much of a death wish. He wasn't sure why he cared so much. He'd taken one look at the tiny silver princess with her swollen belly and her big purple eyes and he'd felt a rush of familiarity, which was strange because he had never met a Targaryen before.

The blood surged in his veins and he'd launched from his horse to confront Drogo, demanding to know if he'd stolen her, if she was there against her will. In Vaes Dothrak they could fight with their fists-- he'd win there, Drogo was big and clumsy when it came to hand-to-hand without his arakh. They'd fought together as teens, after Bharbo took him into the protection of the khalasar. He was smaller, lighter, and they didn't call him the wolf because he kept one at his side.

He turned a corner and there she was, standing with Jorah Mormont. His hackles raised, the fur standing on its end. There was something about the former knight that bothered him. He didn't trust him, didn't trust anyone who had engaged in the practice of slavery, even if Jorah had admitted it was a one-time mistake, done to raise money for his wife's fancy needs. It didn't matter to him, he remembered when the man had been exiled. How did an exiled Northern knight end up in the service of a Targaryen princess?

Mormont traveled with the Dothraki, he spoke their language and knew their customs, but he hadn't encountered him. On purpose. He didn't want anyone from Westeros to know who he was, to try to send word back about the dark haired Western khal with his white wolf. He heard word from the west when he occasionally made his way to the Free Cities, heard about King Robert's rule. It seemed lately that rule was under threat, the king was dead and his insipid half-Lannister son was now in charge. They said that there was a movement in the North, the Northerners gathering to march on the South. He wasn't sure why though, hadn't heard that news yet.

Ghost wanted to stay back, still not trusting of the bear knight, but he urged him forward. Just go to her, see how she is. The wolf reluctantly moved forward and it was Jorah who spotted him first, jumping in front of the khaleesi, an arm stretching over her burgeoning stomach. Ghost bared his teeth in silent growl. "Oh, Jorah leave him alone, he's fine." Her voice was husky, belying her tiny frame.

She is far stronger than she appears.

She pushed aside the knight and knelt, which dropped her even lower than Ghost's massive height, her hand tentatively reaching for his ears, lightly stroking. "You're gorgeous," she murmured, scratching behind a spot near the joint. She lifted her face up to Jorah. "How do you think a wolf like this got to the Dothraki Sea?"

"I don't know, khaleesi." He frowned. "There is a House in the North, the Lord Paramount, his sigil is a direwolf. I left before but I have heard some speak of how his children had wolves. Perhaps this one was from the north, a trader or sailor had him, managed to get a boat over here, who knows."

"He's so far from home." She spoke sadly, her voice a soft whisper into Ghost's ear. "Just like me."

Just like me too. He rubbed his head against her cheek when she lowered her face to the wolf's, nuzzling into his muzzle. Ghost closed his eyes, pleasure spreading through him, wanting to move closer. Down boy, he warned the wolf, or himself, he wasn't sure. He had seen enough and closed his eyes, telling Ghost to stay there with her, and he opened his eye again, staring at the canvas roof of the tent.

He climbed to his feet, sweeping out, ignoring some of the bloodriders who said they needed to speak with them. In Dothraki, which he now spoke better than he probably spoke the Common Tongue, he told them to wait for him to return, whatever it was could wait. They probably wanted to know where they went from there. He'd turned them around from their trek towards Braavos for supplies, once he'd heard of the Targaryen princess. He strode through the alleys, stalls, and paths leading him to where he'd left his wolf.

It took him several minutes, but he saw her, walking with the knight and Ghost, who had not left her side. She kept a hand on his head, still scratching his ears. He's going to go soft if she keeps that up. He chuckled and slipped through, going to stand behind her while Jorah leaned over to negotiate the price for some dried lavender.

Ghost turned his head, distracting her, and she smiled, surprised at him. "Hello," she greeted in Common Tongue, before switching to Dothraki. "You are Khal Verro?"

He said nothing, not wanting to alert Jorah to him. She followed his gaze to Mormont and smiled knowingly, slipping away from him while his back was turned, very carefully moving around the edge of one of the stalls, Ghost following. He stepped with her, listening to her speak Dothraki to one of the women who offered her a lemon wedge. She took it and thanked the woman, but did not bite into it, merely mimicked it to satisfy the woman before she carefully wrapped it in the linen the woman used to hand it to her.

In Dothraki, she looked up at him, voice quiet, just loud enough for him to hear her over the noise of the markets. "You are not Dothraki, yet you speak their language, you know my husband."

He glanced over her shoulder, watching for Jorah, before he responded, his voice gravelly, unused to speaking Common Tongue in so long. "You don't need to speak Dothraki with me...I know Common."

She cocked her head, an eyebrow arching. "You are from Westeros?"

Only a ghost of a smile on his lips, not wanting to confirm or deny her suspicions. It was best to leave people wondering. He nodded to her stomach, which she immediately covered with her hand. "I suppose congratulations are in order, I never thought Drogo would marry, let alone have a legitimate family."

Her nose wrinkled at the comment of 'legitimate family.' "My son will be the Stallion that Mounts the World."

"I'm familiar with the prophecy."

"How do you, a Westerner, know my husband such as you seem to?" she asked.

He stepped away from her and she followed, Ghost trotting behind. "I've known him for a long time," he said, without answering her question. He paused at the end of one of the streets, where they had privacy, and turned to peer down at her, concerned. He took her in better here, the flush of her cheeks and the braids in her hair. She wore the Dothraki leathers and woven bodice and skirts. Her skin was tanned, lips chapped, but he did not see signs of outward abuse. He narrowed his eyes, whispering. "Does he hurt you?"

The corners of her eyes narrowed, very briefly, pain flashing momentarily in the violet irises. Her throat constricted and she shook her head, whispering. "Not anymore."

Fuck. He suddenly reached his hand out, touching her shoulder lightly and she glanced at it, but made no move to knock him aside. If anything, she stepped closer. He was playing with fire; if Drogo or any of his bloodriders saw they were well within their rights to think he was making a move on the khal's wife. He took a deep breath and slowly released it. "I heard about your brother."

The pain returned to her eyes, this time it was just sadness. "Yes," she answered. She frowned. "King Robert will be pleased to hear it I'm sure but will not rest until myself and my child are dead. Until all Targaryens are dead." She slipped her shoulder from him, letting his hand fall to his side, sudden distrust crossing her face. "You are from the West, you could be one of his assassins."

He smirked. "I could be, but I assure you I'm not." He heard shouting, Jorah no doubt realizing she had gone missing. He nodded towards the end of the street, a crowd gathering. "You best get back."

"Who are you?" This time there was no casual questioning. She was demanding. She grabbed his forearm, keeping him close, nodding to the wolf. "That's a wolf from the North, not a desert dog. You have the look of someone from the West. Who are you Khal Verro?"

He smiled briefly. "Who are you Daenerys Targaryen?" It was just to deflect from questioning of him. She wasn't going to let go of it, so he fired it back to her, but even he was surprised at the sudden discomfit in her face, her brow furrowing, confused. He glanced back to the forming crowd. It was going to get ugly, he had to get her back. "If Drogo hurts you, you fight back."

"I have been fighting back." She frowned. "Why do you care? Who are you?"

Ghost bared his teeth again at the sounds of Jorah yelling for her. He noted the wolf's upset at the knight. He took a deep breath and leaned in, whispering into her ear. "Be careful of the bear knight." He let go of her and smiled quickly, before disappearing into the gathering of people that had formed around her, Jorah breaking free, grabbing for her and reaching to check her for injuries or attack. He moved silently, Ghost remaining at his side, more questions than answers now forming in his mind.

They moved into the Eastern markets and he stopped at one of the stalls, a woman approaching, wearing the red hexagonal dress of the shadowbinders of Assh'ai. He waited for her to move close, her blood-red lips pulling over her white teeth. She arched a brow. "Khal Verro, good to see you again, it has been some time."

"Kinvara," he greeted. He cocked his head. "Anything?"

Her vacant, mysterious expression morphed into sadness. "King Joffrey beheaded Lord Eddard Stark on the steps of the Sept of Baelor, Lord Robb Stark has raised his banners and declared himself King in the North. Lady Sansa Stark is prisoner in the Red Keep and Lady Arya Stark disappeared during the chaos of the arrest." She paused. "Lords Bran and Rickon Stark are at Winterfell." She shook her head. "I know nothing beyond that."

A pain seized his gut, almost bowling him over. He closed his eyes against it, forcing it back down. Father was dead. The father he hadn't seen in years. The father who may not have even gone looking for him. He nodded, whispering. "Anything else?"

"No one speaks of the other child you told me to look for." She smiled again, this time her words were too close for comfort. "The bastard son of Eddard Stark, no one seems to remember him, I believe he is dead."

Good, let's keep it that way for now. He glanced into the brazier beside her, fires burning. She reached for his hand, but he pulled it back. For some reason she always wanted his blood for her little games and he never gave it. He glanced at the flames, rising higher as she fiddled her fingers above them, peering into them. "What do you claim to see now?" He believed her sources from the mainland, ever since she sought him out in the grassy sea when he'd broken from Bharbo's khalasar after the khal's death. She knew things she shouldn't have known and he used her for information when he couldn't get it from overhearing sailors on the docks in Braavos or Pentos.

Kinvara shook her head, frowning. "Barren wasteland," she murmured. She cocked her head. "I see snow in the desert, chasing a dragon...saving a dragon...but that cannot be."

Riddles. He thought of Jorah Mormont, of Ghost's peculiar reaction to the Northern knight. "And the Targaryen?"

"She dies and she rises again."

He learned to never take Kinvara at her literal word. Too many riddles, these Red Women and shadowbinders. He stepped away from her, nodding, satisfied. "Goodbye Kinvara." He dissapeared before she could chase after him, not wanting to argue with her or hear more of her riddles and tales. He moved through the Eastern market, made his way back to the khalasar, and took Ghost over to a sheep that the riders had just brought back, freshly cooked.

He sat at the fire, listening to them speak of what they'd heard from mingling with all the rest. There was a fight with Moro and Pono's khalasars. A khal had stolen another's wife after killing him, she was now with two children. He perked up beyond the idle gossip, when one spoke of the silver khaleesi of Drogo.

"She has eggs they say, dragon eggs, carries them everywhere."

Snow in the desert, chasing a dragon.

They were never literal ramblings, he reminded himself. He looked up from peering into the fire, Ghost's head rising in tandem with his. His fingers tapped his lips, frowning. "Why did Drogo kill her brother?" he asked.

One of his riders shrugged before tearing into the meat he'd torn off the sheep. "Threatened the khalakka in her belly. Threatened to take back what was his."

"And what was that?"

Another shrugged. "The khaleesi."

He grit his teeth. The men who followed him did so because they did not want to participate in some of the more bloodthirsty khalasars. They liked it when they raided slave villages, killing those who would seek to take their kind and turn them into monsters. They knew his rules on the matter. They would die at his hand if they so much as forced a woman into their beds, if they beat children, or if they tried to chain another. So it was true then. Her brother sold her to Drogo, Drogo took her like a prized mare, and now she was with child and she was the heir to the Seven Kingdoms.

And my father was dead and Robb was the King in the North.

He closed his eyes; his life would have been nothing if he'd gone back. Not that he could have. By the time he'd gotten close enough to the sea, it was too late. He was a man grown, he'd had more blood on his hands than anyone in the Stark family could say, and he was not fit to return. He was always a bastard to them. Here though, here he was Khal Verro. He was doing something. It wasn't time yet. If it ever would be time.

His tongue ran over his teeth and he looked up when a shadow crossed over, Ghost rising at his side. The men around him looked up as well at their new visitor. If they were not in the sacred city, their arakhs would be up in a moment to defend their khal. Not that he needed much defending. Jorah Mormont stood in front of them, hands up in defensive surrender. "I wish to speak to Verro," he said, using Dothraki.

The accent wasn't half bad, he supposed. He nodded to the others, silently telling them to stand down, and stood. Ghost came with him, walking over to a quieter part of the camp. "Ser Jorah Mormont," he said, in Dothraki, not wanting to give up his true affiliation. He turned to face him. "Jorah the Andal."

Jorah smirked. "I am not an Andal." They all thought men from Westeros were Andals. Jon waited for the other to speak first, which he did, after a moment. "You were accusing Drogo of hurting the khaleesi, of hurting Daenerys Targaryen. You knew him from before, they do not speak of you as a vengeful hunter like most." He paused. "You may be from Westeros, but I am her protector. I am ehr sword shield and I will lay down my life for her. I do not know who you are working for or what you want with her, but even if you do not kill or enslave or rape or pillage, you will not touch her."

He's in love with her. It was written all over the man's face. The strength in his words. Jon simply smiled; his arms crossed over his chest. "Do not worry about me," he said. He smiled vaguely, Ghost's distrust seeping into him. There was something about the Bear Knight that worried him. The intensity of the threat. He dropped his voice, eyebrows lifting. "King Robert Baratheon is dead, the North has risen against the new king. I should think you have other things to worry about."

The other man's face went ashen. He tensed. "What are you speaking of?"

"Her brother is dead and there's a power struggle in Westeros." He shrugged. "I merely was suggesting that she is the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms now, not a Princess." Ghost moved on his feet, snapping and Jorah stepped back quickly. His hand dropped to steady the wolf. He did not feel like shedding blood that evening, especially not a fellow Northerner. He coolly commented. "You are protecting a Queen now, Ser Mormont. Not a Princess." He wrapped his fingers into Ghost's ruff. He squinted. "Unless there was something else you were worried about."

The other man shook his head and stepped backwards. "No, that's..." He scowled. "How did you get this information about Westeros?"

"I have my own ways," he murmured.

Jorah scowled, looking closer at him, whispering. "You are from the North." He dropped his eyes to Ghost. "That's a direwolf." He pointed to him, something akin to recognition crossing his craggy face. "I feel like I know you from somewhere..."

"I do not come to Vaes Dothrak often," he said. He stepped backwards. "Goodbye Ser Jorah." Lest the knight get any ideas of asking too much about him. He'd already spent far more time than he wanted in the other man's presence. He didn't need him to start looking at his gray eyes and start thinking that they looked like Eddard Stark. Or his long thin face or the raven curls that never managed to be fully tamed by the braids. Thus far the only word he'd heard from Westeros was that there was a story of a boy who walked alone in the Haunted Forest, with his silent ghost wolf at his side, looking for his lost family.

He never thought they'd look for him, so hearing that there was a story about him was a bit surprising. He watched Jorah step backwards, warned off by the other riders who stood. They were imposing, his men, who wore white fabric in their braids and tasseled to their horses' manes. A representation of the white wolf. Only he wore black, a decision he'd made a long time ago, during a long night spent staring at the stars, feeling sorry for himself for a moment, as he heard the screams of people around him, wondering what would have happened if he'd been back in Westeros, in the North, if he was still Robb Stark's brother and Eddard Stark's bastard son.

The Wall was surely his best bet. Or become a hedge knight. Wander the realm looking for work was not appealing. He had wondered if Catelyn Stark felt bad, he'd disappeared. More likely she was pleased. It hadn't stopped Eddard from having more sons. He'd never met Bran or Rickon and Arya was just a little thing when he'd been taken. He wore black because if he was in Westeros he'd surely have gone to the NIght's Watch with Uncle Benjen. It was always my color.

Jorah left, disappearing into the night. He stood rooted in place and closed his eyes, flashing quickly into Ghost, who had already gone off into the darkness. The wolf was true to his name, a ghost in the shadows. No one saw him and here no one would harm him. He opened his eyes, for a brief moment there were two worlds and he could see into both. Into the camp before him and into the darkness as Ghost sought out Drogo's men.

Stuck between two worlds.

He went into his tent, flopping down onto the pallet and toed off his boots, drawing his knee up and peering out the circle cut in the top to allow the smoke from the small fire to escape. He caught sight of the stars, the same stars he looked at as a child in Winterfell. He couldn't get that voice out of his head. That tiny voice, a little girl almost, the sad despair.

You're far from home. Just like me.

He rolled onto his side and closed his eyes, returning to Ghost, seeing her in her tent, laughing with some of the other women, a maid that was Dothraki and another probably from one of the Free Cities. In an ornate chest beside her sat three eggs. Dragon eggs. They were stone, but Ghost felt drawn to them. He warred with the wolf, reminding him to stay focused, but Ghost wanted to go closer. They're just rocks now Ghost, leave it alone. He nosed at the flap, peering in closer, and the main entrance opened further, Drogo entering.

"My sun and stars," she called to him in Dothraki, reaching for his hands.

He scowled but was pleased to see Drogo treat her as if she were glass, carefully helping her to her feet. He did not need to see more and backed away, satisfied she was telling the truth. He left Ghost, allowed him to return to his normal evening activities, scouring for food and hunting beyond the borders of the city.

Except back in his tent he couldn't sleep. He could only see images of the silver queen with her smile and her purple eyes, speaking to him in his language, wanting to know more. It bothered him that he knew her from somewhere, having never met her before. Bothered him that she was in his thoughts, as no woman had ever been. He crossed his arms over his chest. She was Drogo's. Not his.

It made him smile though. She'd been sold into this world just like him. She'd done what she could to survive and somehow, she had. Maybe that's what was so familiar to him.

"Forget it," he muttered to himself. They would leave tomorrow, head south. His fingers itched, he wanted to fight. There were slavers down there, he knew he'd get one. Whatever news from Westeros would come at some other point and he hoped for the silver queen's sake that she stayed as far out of that mess as possible.

 

~/~/~/~

The red and black she called Drogon curved into her breast like a child might, the cream and gold Viserion was resting sweetly against her neck and shoulder, and the green she called Rhaegal was in her arms, hissing at anyone who got close. He was the feistiest of them all, would not let anyone but her near. She stared into the heated expanse before them. She'd sent out three riders, she could only hope they would return.

It was their last chance, she thought, closing her eyes. Jorah sat beside her, offered her the last dregs of water from one of the skins, but she lifted her hand, nudging it away. He needed it more than she did. She stroked Drogon's head, opening her eyes briefly. It was too hot to do much of anything and there was nothing left within her as they waited. "Jorah," she murmured. "The other khals...you say they'll kill me."

He shook his head, voice quiet, his strength sapped, unable to speak much louder than a whisper. "No, they will force you to Vaes Dothrak, to live among the dosh khaleen, the widows of the khals. Should they see you worthy. They will take your people, kill the men and seize the horses."

She snorted. "We have no more horses Jorah. What good is a khalasar without its horses?" She stroked her son's head, whispering to herself. "What good is a mother without her child?" Her empty womb ached, the witch's words still seizing her at night, terrifying her dreams, and haunting her. Her Rhaego, dead and gone, in the Nightlands with Drogo. She intended to be nothing, but the dreams spoke to her, the flames told her to enter, to place the eggs there and become a dragon.

Fire cannot kill a dragon.

She closed her eyes again. "The other khals would kill me, but not the one." She hadn't thought of him in awhile, but she thought of him now. The strange Western khal with his khol-rimmed gray eyes and his tangled black braids. The one who knew Drogo from before, but she did not get much from Drogo when she asked about him. Drogo merely told her that his father saved him, the wolf whelp he called him. He took his father's teachings and went off after Bharbo died, sometimes he saw him again, but he was not Dothraki. He was not worthy to call himself khal. She noted that he did not call himself that, they did. The people did. His khalasar was impressive.

She wondered if Ilyrio Mopatis had reached out to him first, if he'd tried to find another khal that would fight for Viserys in exchange for her. Verro would never have accepted it, she knew, but she wondered what that would have been like. Marrying him instead of her sun and stars.

I must be delirious. She gazed at Jorah, whispering. "The wolf khal, he would not hurt me."

"We cannot risk it; he does traverse the same territory as the others." Jorah took out his knife and began to idly sharpen it on a rock, staring at it as he spoke. "He is a mystery. I could not gather much information, even from him."

"You spoke to him?"

"Yes, after you disappeared that day in the market...I wanted to talk to him." He shook his head, eyes closed. "He reminded me of someone, but it couldn't be him...he was probably a slave child. Taken from the shores of the North. He has the look."

"You are from the North."

Jorah nodded. "I was," he confirmed. He took a deep breath, staring off into the Red Waste. "Some Northerners have a very particular look.” He glanced sideways. “He has it. Gray eyes. It’s not common, except up there.”

Gray eyes. His eyes had seemed so worldly. He was close to her age, Drogo had been older. He was handsome…pretty might even have been a word for it, not the ruggedness of Drogo or even Jorah. She wasn’t sure why she was thinking of his looks when she was edging closer to dying out here in this wasteland of nothing.

Her eyes closed, sinking into a sort of dreamless awake sleep, holding her children against her, wishing she knew how to feed them. What sort of mother couldn’t feed her children? What sort of mother couldn’t find them shelter? She opened her eyes again and stared ahead, whispering. “Verro cannot be his real name.”

“I do not imagine he wants us to know his real name, khaleesi.”

“I wonder what it is,” she murmured. She closed her eyes again. Her mind sought out something, a connection to anything, blackness consuming her, save for two red eyes looking back. Her lids sprang open and she tried to get to her feed, the dragons squawking in protest. Irri helped her with putting them into their cages, as Jorah moved beside her, hand on the hilt of his sword, gazing to the horizon.

Someone was coming.

She felt her heart give out at the sight of Kovarro, with his new horse and news of a city. They were at the edge of the waste; they were going to be okay. She looked up to the sky, eyes closing at the heat of the sun on her face. They would be free, she thought. “Where?” she asked him, as he explained that he’d come across a city in the desert.

There was likely no chance she would ever see the Western khal again, but she still allowed him into her thoughts as they began to trek towards the city. She still wondered about him, about the man who seemed as lost as she was. A Westerosi living among the Dothraki, but longing for home.

I’m going home. I will take my dragons and I will take back what is mine, she vowed.

~/~/~/~

The Second Sons were going to be hers, Dany vowed, stroking Drogon’s jaw as he preened on the perch in her tent. She stared into his red eyes, seeing love shining back. Or she thought it was love. It might have just been the glimmer of the candlelight. Rhaegal and Viserion were sleeping, their heads tucked under their wings. They had all consumed a large quantity of a large heifer the Unsullied had brought with them from Astapor. She smiled at her son, whispering. “Yunkai will be mine, no matter what the Masters say. No matter what the Titan’s Bastard says.”

She was still wondering how to go about it, to get the Second Sons. They would join her Unsullied and they would bend Yunkai to heel. Slavery had no place in the world and she had freed Astapor. She had freed the Unsullied and they followed her now. Of their free will, the first time in their lives they had ever had such a thing. She closed her eyes, resting her forehead against Drogon’s head. She may not have been in chains, but she had been sold as they were to her. She could look back on her time with Drogo in a different view now.

No one will ever hurt me again.

Missandei, sweet Missandei, had become her friend. Her heart yearned for Irri and even for Doreah, before the latter had betrayed her. She looked back on that time in Qarth as a learning experience. The laughing faces of the Thirteen and the Spice King. The begging for favors and assistance. Until she took what was hers with fire and blood. Viserys never did that when people laughed in his face. She had her dragons, her children, and she would continue to take what was hers.

She thought of Ser Barristan, her new knight, who knew her father and Rhaegar. She hoped to speak with him about Rhaegar—soon. Once they were done with Yunkai, once they had settled. She needed ships to bring her Unsullied and her tiny khalasar to Westeros, the Wise Masters of Yunkai had money and ships. They wanted her gone. She would go of course with their ships, but also with their slaves, their freed slaves, should they want to come with her.

Missandei looked over at her, after preparing her nightclothes. “Your Grace would you like refreshment before you retire for the evening?”

“No thank you, just leave the water jug, I’ll get some through the evening.” She was unused to being so attended to by one person. She smiled at Missandei, turning away from Drogon. “Tell me…” she was about to ask Missandei about her language training and knowledge when there was a quick movement at the tent’s entrance. She whipped her head, prepared to see someone with a knife or a weapon, someone who had taken out Grey Worm or one of the other Unsullied guards.

She was not expecting to see the white wolf.

Missandei gasped, her hand going to her throat, backing into the dresser with the water jug, knocking against it. “Oh my,” she exclaimed. She glanced to her, terrified. “Your Grace!”

Drogon stared at the wolf, but did not move to attack. Rhaegal and Viserion were still sleeping. She smiled, staring at him. He was as big as he’d been when she last saw him in Vaes Dothrak. Gods, when was that? So long ago now. There had been so many things that had changed. She was a Queen in her own right now, not a simple khaleesi. She lightly dragged her fingers over her flat belly, where Rhaego once grew. She reached for the wolf, his red eyes closing and his nose pressing into her stomach. She closed her eyes, nuzzling against him, whispering. “There’s no baby there now.”

Did she wonder it or did he seem sad? His red eyes blinked, almost watery. He was so human. She cupped his face, staring into them, seeking answers. “Your Grace,” Missandei whispered. “Perhaps we should…”

“He is a friend,” she said. She was safe with him. A smile tugged on the corner of her lips. “Where is your companion? Is he nearby?” She let go, nodding to the tent entrance. “Take me to him.”

Missandei moved towards her. “Your Grace, it is not safe.”

“Stay here.” She smiled. “Do not make me command it.” Missandei frowned, but snapped her mouth shut, not saying anything, although Dany knew she wanted to fight it. She moved through the flap of the tent, the wolf leading her away from the tent, from the guards who did not notice her leaving. The cold night air caused prickling along her bare arms, her white dress feeling quite flimsy in the light wind. The black collar that held it to her neck and the black belt felt too tight, squeezing her.

She followed the wolf down a path behind several large rock formations, on the edge of the camp. Her gasp caught in her throat when the shadow emerged from behind one of the boulders. Her smile pulled wide, unable to believe it was him. It has been so long. The moonlight lit him up as though they were before the fire and candles in her tent or standing in the daylight hours. His dark curls still in the Dothraki braids, but looser and some free to frame his face. He still wore the black tunic and leathers with boots, black leather wrist guards.

To her shock he had a sword on his hip with his arakh. There was a white wolf on the hilt. She cocked her head, unable to take her eyes from his. They were black in the moonlight. His beard still trimmed on his jaw. He looked the same, but there was another scar on his eyebrow. “Verro,” she murmured in greeting.

He smiled this time, teeth white against the darkness of his beard. “Daenerys.” He lifted his brows. “Your Grace.”

Her stomach flipped hearing the honorific from his full lips. She stepped to him, drawn to whatever it was that had prompted her to wonder so much about him back in Vaes Dothrak, to think about him while she lay starving in the Red Waste. She reached for him suddenly and he took her wrists as she rested her hands on his forearms, peering up at him. Why is he here? “How are you here?” she murmured. She gazed to the wolf, standing dutifully beside him. She frowned. “Why did you not come earlier?”

“I came to tell you something,” he whispered. He lifted his fingers and she shivered as he twisted a silver curl around his finger before letting go. He dropped his hand back to her wrist. “It is a long story, but I have been following you since Astapor.”

Her eyes widened. “How?”

“I heard from a woman in Qarth that the Dragon Queen had three baby dragons and was on her way to Astapor, that she had burned and killed the masters there, liberated the Unsullied, and was marching on Yunkai.” He smiled again, whispering. “I’ve been in the area for awhile. Slaver’s Bay needs a new name.”

I could not agree more. “And you’re here to help me?” she confirmed.

He nodded. “I heard about Drogo.” He paused, regret filling his eyes. “I am sorry about him, about…about your son.” Her heart clenched at the mention of Rhaego. It seemed so long ago. “And I want you to know that Daario Naharis has executed the other leaders of the Second Sons, he is coming to you with their heads to pledge his allegiance to you.”

Her heart stopped. She gaped at him. “How do you know this information?” she asked. She tried to keep her reaction tame, but it was hard not to respond with surprise. She swallowed hard, mind racing. “The Titan’s Bastard is dead?”

“Yes,” he said. He scowled. “And Daario Naharis leads the Sons.”

“And he will pledge to me.”

“He wants to be in your bed,” he said, continuing to frown. She smiled, unsure why that amused her. He wrinkled his nose. “He knows better than to force himself there.”

The words that tumbled from her lips came from somewhere deep inside, the piece of her that felt her skin prickle at his touch on her wrists and desire pooling in her belly. He was a complete stranger to her, someone she had only encountered now three times in her entire life and here he was telling her information that she could use to her tactical advantage. He could have kept it from her. Could have heard about her and just left, forgetting her as another khal’s widow, but he was here. In the darkness, bringing her from her tent, and she was a fool to allow it to occur, but yet she was.

“And you do not want me in your bed?” That was what they all wanted. Xaro Xhon Daxos, Mero the Titan’s Bastard, probably even the Wise Masters. Kraznys and them all, they wanted her because she was a woman and they underestimated her because of it. They were weak men.

This man in front of her was not weak.

He leaned in, his breath tickling her ear. Her heart thudded against her ribcage, so loud she worried he could hear it. “When I am in your bed, it will be because you want me there, not because I made grand gestures.” He stepped backwards, letting go of her completely. She wanted him back. She felt incomplete. He removed a dagger from his boot and knelt in the sand. She knelt with him, staring at the diagram he drew. “There is a gate that the Second Sons use to get to the brothels in Yunkai. Your men can enter there, Naharis will explain further. They’ll gain entry to the city and can open the main gate to allow the rest of your Unsullied to enter.” He dragged the dagger around. “The Wise Masters sit here, within the first gate. Their men are all slaves.” He lifted his gray eyes to meet hers, whispering. “They have no loyalty to them. They will yield for their freedom.”

She admired his mind, how he thought. It made sense to her. It worked. She shook her head slightly. “And I have to trust Naharis?”

“You do not have to trust anyone, but yes, you must trust that he will lead your men through the streets.” He propped his arm over his knee, gazing beyond her towards the camp. “You have Barristan Selmy in your guard now. He is the greatest knight in Westeros.”

“He knew my brother,” she murmured.

He smiled again. Glanced at his feet, speaking, almost to himself. “I had a brother once.” He frowned. “I don’t know if he still lives.”

“Mine is dead.” She got to her feet, dusting her hands. “Both of them are.” Why are you telling him this? She stepped to him again, her hand resting atop his, at his side. Her violet eyes met his gray ones. “You came from Westeros, you knew Drogo, and you have provided me valuable information. Come to me, Verro, serve me.” She pursed her lips, arching a brow. “But if you do, I must know your real name.”

The gray eyes were unblinking. They seemed to mimic his wolf’s, which rested on her, the beast silent as a ghost. She was prepared to step away, to leave him where he stood and return to her tent, to await Daario Naharis with the heads of his superiors. Except when she finally broke away from him, disappointed he wasn’t going to follow, he gripped her wrist, tugging her against him.

She gasped, surprised at the move, her hand going to steady herself against his shoulder. Her face tilted to his, her lips almost brushing his. She took a deep breath, trying to regulate her inhale and exhale, but she couldn’t, feeling his hard body so close to her. It had been so long since she’d been this close to a man like this, since Drogo. Except with this man she did not feel scared, did not feel like she had to worry. This is a man who does not rape, pillage, or enslave.

His fingers dragged over her hairline, nose brushing hers. “Who are you,” he murmured.

She remembered that question from when they first spoke. “Daenerys Stormborn,” she replied. She arched her brow. “And who are you?”

He wouldn’t tell her, she thought, when he kept his mouth closed. He raked his knuckles over her jaw, and she thought he might kiss her, but he didn’t. Instead, he smiled, and he breathed, only for her to know, a name she did not think he had said since he left the shores of the place where he got it.

“Jon Snow.”

And then he let her go. She stared after him, watching his retreating back, the wolf at his side. Her body sagged forward, exhausted all of a sudden. She touched her fingers to her lips, still yearning for his. Her eyes closed and she smiled. A name was important, a name was everything, and a name bonded you.

His name is Jon Snow.

He didn’t pledge to serve her, he didn’t say anything about staying with her, but he gave her his real name. He could have been lying, but he wasn’t. She stepped backwards, her arms wrapping around herself, hurrying to her tent, back to Missandei, to prepare for Naharis. To work out the plan that Jon Snow told her to enact, to take Yunkai and free the slaves.

In the end it happened as he said. Naharis tried to charm her; he brought the heads of his superiors. She worked out the plan with Barristan and Grey Worm and Jorah and ultimately, they took the city, the Masters left with nothing. She told the slaves they had a choice, they could be free, and they welcomed her as their mother. Myhsa.

Mother.

Mother of Dragons, she thought, after they had left the gathering, after she was in her tent, her children flying around the camp. She heard movement and looked to see Barristan standing there. She frowned. “Yes?”

“There has been someone following us,” he said. He smiled, that soft, grandfatherly like smile she loved. He was strong and an excellent fighter to be sure, but she also felt as though he cared for her. In a way different from how Jorah cared for her. Jorah was in love with her, Barristan wanted what was best for her. His eyes twinkled. “But you already knew that, didn’t you?”

She smiled. Nothing got past him. “Yes,” she said. She pursed her lips, tapping her knuckles against the table. She took a deep breath. “His name is Khal Verro.”

“The White Wolf.”

“Yes. I met him in Vaes Dothrak, he knew Drogo.”

“Many men knew your husband.”

She shook her head, whispering. “Not the way he knew him, I don’t think.” She frowned. “I do not know if he serves me, but he has helped me. When he didn’t need to help.”

“They say he has a code of conduct that not many Dothraki have.”

“He’s a former slave.”

Barristan nodded in understanding. “Makes sense then.”

“You do not trust this man?”

“Do you know him well, Your Grace?”

I feel like I do. She shook her head, acknowledging the truth. “No, I do not.” Her hands folded in front of her. She cocked her head again, warning him. “He can blend in wherever he goes, Ser Barristan. That is a skill not many have. Allow him to follow, give him time.” She squinted. “I remember you were following me as well, surveying me, determining if I was my father.” She didn’t think Jon was following for that reason. He did not want to give away his identity, she suspected. With two Westerosi in her company now, perhaps he feared what the might find out about him.

Those were his secrets. And he was her secret too.

Dany reached up when Drogon flew into the tent, landing on the perch, which swayed dangerously beneath his weight. She reached to touch his head, his teeth glistening with blood as he screeched. “Is that all Ser Barristan?”

“Yes Your Grace, I will allow the wolf…” Barristan frowned, but she could see it did not seem angry. Just concerned. “To follow. For now.”

“Thank you Ser Barristan.” She waited for him to leave, turning and sinking onto the bed, closing her eyes and reaching to touch her forehead, a slight ache forming. Tears gathered in the corners of her eyes. The touch of the former slaves, the calls of Mother. She wanted her mother. She wanted her son. All her sons, but they were growing bigger and they were becoming vicious.

She fell onto the bed pallet, her knees drawing to her chest, the tears trickling down her face. A slight breeze crossed her face and she turned quickly, hoping it wasn’t Barristan or Jorah or Grey Worm. If it was Missandei…she blinked.

Ghost approached, climbing up into the bed beside her. She reached for him, touching her forehead against his. Drogon screeched in protest, flapping his wings, but he didn’t attack. Ghost ignored him and curled against her, red eyes focused on hers. She leaned closer, rubbing his forehead. “Just tonight,” she murmured. She closed her eyes, the tears still falling. “I’m so tired.” She sobbed. “And I just want to go home.”

The wolf licked her tears away, his head resting beside hers and she fell to sleep, lulled by his even breathing.

Chapter Text

The Yunkish slaves followed them, many unsure where their place in the world rested now that they were free. Their collars were saved; she had plans for them later. She did not explain herself when Jorah and Barristan wondered why she insisted they bind them all up, pack them on the wagons with the gold, silver, and jewels her remaining Dothraki raided from the Yunkish treasuries. The Masters could do with a bit of starving, she thought, as she left them to wonder what their place in the world now was, now that they didn't have people to torture and order and own.

People are not cattle, they are not broodmares, she kept thinking, each time a Master tried to beg her for mercy or forgiveness. She would not give them mercy, not right now. It was her weakness and they knew it. So, she left them to their devices, left them to wonder, even as Barristan and Jorah watched her, tried to offer advice.

Their advice was important, of course, they were great military tacticians and knights of Westeros, and they would assist her greatly when it came to her plans to take back her home, but right now she was in Essos. Essos did not play by Westeros rules. Jorah was a great comfort in those days with the Dothraki, helping her learn their ways, their language, and explaining the strange world beyond palace and villa walls to her. Except now she knew, now she understood what it meant to have to trust in herself, tap into her strength and find her way.

Jorah might know about the world of the Dothraki and some beyond, but it was the newest member of her retinue who would help her the most with respect to the dealings of the slavers, she suspected. She glanced sideways over her shoulder, a smirk forming, knowing he was near but never revealing himself. My shadow.

She struggled to reconcile the Western khal known as Verro with such a common, simple name as Jon. The last name Snow spoke volumes. She remembered her Westerosi history, the regional dynamics, and the strange concept that bastards were blamed for their fathers' and mothers' sins by carrying around a name that was related to their region. Only the highborns. He was a highborn bastard from the North. Very strange. Jorah would know more, but she did not want to ask, did not want to bring up anything that could alert him to Jon's presence or his history. It wasn't her secret to share.

Jorah had been pleased with the plan to take Yunkai, he'd not questioned her when she laid it out. It was a good plan. Would limit causalities. She wished he hadn't gone in, she needed one of her sworn shields to stay behind, but they'd all gone, under the cover of darkness and secret, opening the gates for the rest of the Unsullied and Second Sons. She suspected he wanted to prove to her, now that she had Barristan, Grey Worm, and Daario, that he was the one knight who had been there from the beginning.

She watched him ride ahead, speaking with Daario, who had been immediately transfixed with her. It was exactly like Jon said, of course he wanted in her bed, they all did. She'd rebuffed him of course. Who she bedded was not in her mind right now. Her pleasure at the moment derived from freeing people, from gathering her forces. Viserys thought he could take Kings Landing with 40,000 Dothraki and horses, but she was going to do it with more than that. With Dothraki and Unsullied and Second Sons and whoever else she could gather.

Jon said something to her, she wondered if he even realized the slip of his tongue. If he was that cocky and arrogant, in a more subdued way than Daario Naharis, who often spoke in third person. She wasn’t sure of it yet, if it was just on accident or if he was telling her a fact, a fact that hadn’t even happened yet.

When I get you in bed.

Pressure pulsed between her thighs, but she attributed it to the bouncing of the horse as they made their way over the rocky terrain from Yunkai towards Meereen. She kept her hands on the reins, her back straight in the saddle, riding like the khaleesi she was, even if she now had more Unsullied than she did Dothraki. She glanced sideways to Barristan, who was serving as her immediate escort for most of the ride that day, his form equally strong in his saddle. She arched her brow. “I hear you are the greatest knight in Westeros,” she said.

He chuckled. “That was a long time ago, Your Grace.”

“You served my father, in his Kingsguard.”

“I did, Your Grace, but I was only Lord Commander in Robert’s, after Ser Gerold Hightower was slain at the Tower of Joy.” His face was unreadable, but the tone of his words suggested sadness. The White Cloaks were a brotherhood, they could hold no lands or have wives, she remembered. He eventually turned his head, his voice quiet. “Ser Hightower died in battle with Lord Eddard Stark, the former Hand of the King. It is…interesting how history seems to work out. For Lord Stark battled three of the greatest knights in the realm, including the greatest swordsman Ser Arthur Dayne, and he survived, and yet an insolent child king of his best friend was what beheaded him.” He shook his head, snorting. “It was not the Mad King who did it, but Robert’s son in the end.”

The Mad King. “Viserys never told me the horrors my father wrought on the realm,” she said, quiet. She furrowed her brow. There was so much Viserys never told her. She hesitated. “Ser Barristan, you knew Lord Stark?”

“Not well, Your Grace.” There was something there, she could hear it in his voice. He was not telling her the full story of his feelings for Lord Stark.

She smirked. “The North names their highborn bastards Snow, do they not?”

Barristan turned quickly, mouth falling open slightly in surprise. “Yes,” he affirmed. It was now his turn to be confused. “Why do you bring that up, Your Grace, if I may ask?”

The knight held her council now, her trust, and her life in his hands, but she still was not ready to explain. She played it off, shrugging lightly, as if it were a passing thought. “No particular reason, I was curious. Westeros continues to baffle me sometimes, for being my home.” She continued to walk. Her throat tightened with thirst, the heat beating down upon her pale head, burning on her exposed arms and hands. She closed her eyes; Barristan already knew of Jon’s following. She had to be careful with her questions. She shifted in the saddle; her knees slightly numb from the long ride. “Ser Barristan…the wolf that follows us…I told you of him and you knew some, but I’m curious as to your thoughts.”

“My thoughts?”

“As a warrior, a noted knight, and someone from Westeros, to come here and find that there is a Westerosi living as a khal must have intrigued you,” she said, choosing her words carefully. Her gaze darted sideways, face impassive, playing coy. She wanted his opinion, she wanted someone who was by all accounts her most impartial adviser.

Selmy did not say anything for some time, but she could see his eyes shifting from side to side, as if he were tracking. She had not seen her shadow for some time, but she knew he was close. If Selmy was trying to find him, he would be sorely disappointed, she guessed. He took a deep breath, shoulders sagging after a moment. “As I said before, I heard of him as I searched for you. Your wolf is Westerosi but has become so Dothraki he maintains a khalasar. A curious thing indeed, as he does not rape, pillage, or enslave.” He paused, sunlight dancing in his eyes, turning to her. “But I have since learned that he does allow them to kill.”

Her blood chilled, only slightly. Jon didn’t seem like a bloodthirsty man, if anything she suspected he was ashamed of having to take lives. “Kill?”

He confirmed, nodding. “Masters. Slavers. Your wolf is rather vengeful towards those who hurt the downtrodden, from what I have heard. The Dothraki do not plant, they do not sow, and he allows them to exercise their bloodlust but only on the ones who he judges deserve it.” Selmy cocked his head slightly, amused. “Similar to someone else I have met.”

Dany lifted her chin, not commenting on that, although she was pleased. She smiled, a brow arching, staring ahead. “I find him to be a curious man, this khal.”

“Yes indeed.” Selmy sighed. “Like your Daario Naharis, he carries an arakh, but something tells me he wields it with less…” He looked over his shoulder, shifting in the saddle to see Daario waving his hands, in the middle of a story with Grey Worm, who was listening with rapt attention. She scowled, not liking that friendship. Grey Worm was too impressionable, she did not want him taking after Naharis at all. Selmy rolled his eyes. “Less theatrics I suppose.”

She chuckled. “Yes, I believe you may be correct in your assessment, Ser Barristan.”

“Last I heard,” he continued. “Speaking with some of the Unsullied, in as poor Valyrian as I can manage, he has been seen recently with a Valyrian steel sword, after disappearing for a time, his khalasar roaming without him.” Selmy frowned. “Although you have seen him and I have seen the shadow he casts, I have yet to meet him in person. Therefore, I cannot determine where he might be from in Westeros.”

The shadow he cast was bare, only enough for her to see and perhaps someone as good at identifying threats as Selmy. She stared ahead. “Well Ser Barristan, you may soon get your wish.”

“Your Grace?”

The head of the host came to a stop, Jorah pulling the reins back on his horse as he turned it to gallop towards her, calling out. “Khaleesi, a rider! We should get you to safety.”

“No need.” The rider was on a black horse, moving fast, only as fast as someone who could properly ride could go on this terrain. Loping beside him was the white wolf, the sun beaming off his fur he was a shining light moving straight towards them. “Tell your men to stand down,” she advised Grey Worm. He nodded and moved to relay the orders.

Daario came to her side. “He carries no banner,” he said, concerned. She pushed by him, riding ahead, ignoring his question. She also ignored the protests of Jorah, who stayed back, also at the urging of Selmy. That was something she truly appreciated about the old knight, he recognized when she was capable of taking risks and when she shouldn't. Jorah sometimes didn't understand when his own personal fears for her mixed with his fears for her as a queen. He saw no difference in his devotion to her.

She met him before he could get close enough for Jorah or Selmy to hear. Ghost jumped around her, excited at the sight of her. She smiled down at him, moving from her saddle and reaching to pet his soft head. Dirt streaked up his paws, red dust on his back. She glanced to his companion, who had moved silently off his horse, striding quickly towards her, gripping her before she had a chance to properly greet him, crowding over her.

The move startled her, but she felt no threat, her children still flying above not at all changing their patterns to swoop down to rescue her. She was initially curious, but now she feared whatever he might tell her, his expression concerned, brow furrowed and gray eyes tensely scanning the host behind her. He was in his normal black leathers; except she saw that this time his hands had blood on them. She opened her mouth, prepared to ask him about the blood, to ensure he was okay, but she realized it was because his reins had cut into his palms, straight through the handwraps he wore.

He'd been riding so hard and so fast, she realized, immediately lifting her face up to his, heart speeding up in fear at whatever he might tell her. It wasn't going to be good news. "What is it?" she demanded, her hand going to his palm, lightly touching the tear in the flesh. She muttered in Valyrian, casting her gaze up again when he said nothing. "Jon."

He shook his head. The dark curls fell from his braids in tendrils around his face and she reached up, cupping his temples in her hands, silently pleading while at the same time he did the same, his voice croaking, dry from the heat and intensity of the ride. Maybe something more too, she wondered. "Please, don't go ahead. You don't need to see what's there."

They had not made it to the long road that led to Meereen, but she knew they were close. She looked over his shoulder, expecting to see a monster or some horrible sight, but she just saw dust churning with the wind. The dragons screeched above, circling like angry vultures, wondering why they'd stopped. "I cannot stop," she said. He surely knew that. Meereen was the greatest of the Slaver's Bay cities and she had to take it like she had Yunkai and Astapor. The Masters there would learn what it was like to feel pain and terror. They had to understand what they were doing would not stand in this world.

Those Masters also had ships, ships which she could use to take her armies to the shores of Westeros, when her dragons had grown and take back the Iron Throne. Jon had not said that was why he was with her, but she suspected he would go with her. He had followed her this far, had given her the vital information about Daario and Yunkai. Had sent Ghost to protect and watch her.

He said nothing, whatever it was too much for him. It must be truly horrific. "Jon please," she whispered, reaching her hand to his face, turning him towards her. She forgot where they were, standing in the valley with her entire army behind her, including her Queensguard, who would certainly attack without provocation if they felt she was in danger. No doubt they were fretting in their saddles, wondering just who this man was and why she was meeting him alone, trusting and unguarded.

Her fingers dropped back down to his hand, squeezing. Silently asking. Tell me. "It's the children," he whispered.

Her stomach lurched into her throat, eyes widening. "Children?" she murmured, brows rising. "What do you mean, children?"

"Dany."

It was the first time he had said her name. The first time she had heard that shortened version was from her brother, usually in a mean taunt or screaming at her in frustration. She never liked it, it was never meant to be an endearment, like it should have been. Except the way he said it she did not feel the chill or fear; it was actually meant to be what it was. He was speaking to her not as a subject to queen or servant to master, but as a man to a woman.

It told her that she did not want to know what lay beyond the dusty stretch of road curving before her, whatever it was, it was enough to bring him from the shadows, to warn her away from her quest, and seek an alternative path. She swallowed hard. "Queens must see the horrors of the world," she whispered. It was meant for him, but also for herself. She squeezed his hand, earnest. "Whatever lies before us, I must witness."

Daario had already indicated where he wanted to be, at her side and in her bed, and tried to explain Slaver's Bay to her when he presented her flowers. She was charmed, just for a moment, but it was this man before her who took her hands, squeezing lightly, disregarding the pain he no doubt felt in his torn palms, who was speaking to her as if she were just a common girl and not the regal queen she strived to be. It was this man, who she knew so little of, who stared at her with such concern, this was the man who sent the flesh prickling on her skin and her breath catching in her throat.

There is no time for that right now. She tilted her face towards him, eyes closing. "Tell me, please. What is that lies before me? What brought you from the shadows?"

"They hurt the children," he answered. It pained him. Her fingers wrapped tighter in his. "To get to you, the masters have sent a warning. In the only way they understand."

It was something she had to see. She hesitated, staring ahead. "You will come with me." It was an order. He had not officially sworn to serve her, but he may as well have, his constant presence in the background reassuring.

He looked behind her, face an icy mask, the shutters closing over the emotion in his gray eyes. "Let's see what your guard as to say about that." He let go of her, stepping back towards his horse, shooting one look at Ghost, the wolf having already squared off against a perceived threat, hackles raised. The wolf lowered them, just briefly, but his teeth were still bared, lip hardly curling.

She turned around, Selmy, Daario, and Jorah approaching. "Khaleesi," Jorah said, gazing at Jon, frowning in recognition. "Khal Verro."

"Ser Mormont."

"Who is this?" Daario demanded, sneering at Jon. He opened his mouth to say something, but Ghost snapped his jaws, foam gathering in the corners of his black lips as he warned Daario from saying anything further. She arched a brow; this would be quite interesting. No doubt Daario would be swinging his dick around showing his importance. She glanced at Jon, who paid no attention, his focus on the two Westerosi knights.

Selmy gazed at Jon, his head cocking slightly. "Do you speak Common Tongue?"

"Yes," Jon answered. He looked at Jorah, who seemed surprised. He smirked. "Dothraki."

Daario said something foul about Jon's mother in the Low Valyrian dialect of Tyrosh, which had her preparing to shoot back in High Valyrian to knock it off, they had more important things to deal with, but to her surprise, Jon fired off an insult to Daario's in a Low Valyrian dialect she knew was local to Pentos, having heard it among the servants in Magister Illyrio's villa. She blinked at the witty remark, about Daario's only ability to fight extending to his verbal arsenal and nothing more, her mouth forming an 'o' when Daario jerked the reins of his horse, about to swing down to start fighting. She wasn't sure if Daario understood the sly way Jon insulted him, but it didn't matter.

She blocked Daario, her hand lifting to fend him off. "Verro has brought a message," she announced. She took a deep breath, confirming with him. "The Masters of Meereen have sent a warning to me."

"We should find an alternative route," Selmy said, before even hearing or seeing the message.

Jorah nodded. "I agree."

"It isn't a warning using military or immediate violence," Jon said. He glanced at her again, voice dropping. "It is meant to hurt in the worst possible place." The two knights exchanged looks, unsure what that meant, while Daario remained irritated, his hand gripping tighter on the handle of his arakh.

It was decided. She was the queen and she would march ahead; she would see for herself this warning and would address it head on. They would need to know that, if they intended to follow her. "We will go ahead, I must see it, no matter the hurt it will bring. It is my duty." I owe it to them. She jumped onto her horse, nodding to Jon, who leaped gracefully onto his. It scared her. She rode ahead, with him following, Ghost trotting at their sides. The rest remained back. She barely turned her head; glad they gave her a decent enough head-start.

They rode, Jon's hands loose on the reins, his horse having recovered from the hard ride. He twisted the handwrap tighter on his left hand, which she noted at a recent burn. Where has he been, this man? "Daario Naharis has taken your protection quite seriously," he mused.

"It is as you said, he wants in my bed as well as my service."

"Naharis only knows war and women."

She glanced at him. "And you? What do you know?"

"I know that being afraid means to be brave."

She whipped her head to him, but he was still looking ahead. That was not at all what she expected. I never know what to expect from him. He looked at his hands again. Melancholy seeped into the words. It was something she supposed she should expect from him. The few times she'd seen him now, less than the number of fingers on her hand, he was somewhere else. Caught between two worlds, just like her. "My father once said that a man is only brave when he is afraid." He finally met her eyes again. "Be brave Dany. Even if it terrifies you."

Dany.

She licked her lips. They rode in continued silence, her stomach clenching as they approached the corner he'd come from, and she sensed his nervous anticipation. She lifted her chin high and climbed off her horse, handing the reins to one of the Dothraki still in her company. Ignoring the remarks of Selmy and Jorah, she began to walk. She walked and walked, noting that they were with her, allowing her to lead.

And when they came upon the first crucified child, as much as she wanted to scream and sob, to beat the ground with her fists for her decisions and the unfairness of the world, she kept her composure, tamped down the fear, and took water from someone, lifting the bottle to lips of the poor soul who had died as a message to her, died in chains, and she vowed that no others would die in chains again.

~/~/~/~

They were by the fiftieth mile marker—child number fifty crucified to the posts—when she broke away, her blue and tan cloak fluttering around her as she sought refuge. One of her advisors— the knight Jorah—tried to go after her, but the other one—Barristan Selmy he remembered—stopped him. Good. He was glad that Daario had kept away as well, working with the other Unsullied to bring down the children.

She had demanded each child be given a proper burial, in the event they were alive, they were to have as much medical treatment as possible. There were none so far that had required medical treatment. They had died from the dehydration in the heat and sun before they succumbed to their wounds, in most cases.

He nodded to Ghost, who moved off, going to join her. He was assisting as well, noting that the Second Sons were following their leader, but listening to their Low Valyrian and understanding as best he could, they weren't really pleased thus far with Daario's leadership. Thought he was spending too much of his time trying to bed the Silver Queen. He said nothing, not wanting to give away his ability to understand them. It worked well to stay silent. People just assumed you were stupid.

No one in her host was stupid, not even Naharis. The man was a skilled fighter and Jon recognized it, understood it, and respected it. he just wished he wasn't trying to be so obvious in his attempts to get Dany into bed.

Gods, when did she become Dany?

He couldn't remember when he started thinking of her by that name, but it had stuck. It'd slipped from his lips before he could catch himself, when she'd stood there so insistent on pressing forward, despite the horrific pain she no doubt would feel at seeing those children. He couldn't believe it himself when he'd come upon them. He'd taken another way to Meereen, to scope out ahead, see if there was any military or traps laid out for her, as she no doubt had made a name for herself blowing through Astapor and Yunkai as she did.

It took all in his power not to ride ahead and try to singlehandedly take on whatever Meereen threw at him for what they'd done. They knew how to hit her though. It didn't have to be children, but they'd chosen children. The Mother of Dragons. The mother for the Unsullied, taken from their own mothers before they were even weaned. She was the epitome of it. She was strength and grace and she took care of her people. They used it against her.

He separated from the group, moving behind the boulders, focusing on Ghost's connection to him to feel her presence before he could see her. She was sitting on the ground, in the shade of a scrub tree, wiping furiously at her hands with her cloak. There was dried blood on them from trying to help the children, feed them or provide them water. She was distressed, her nails clawing at her skin, almost tearing it off.

Ghost nosed at her, trying to get her to stop, but she shrugged off the great wolf, a sob wrenched from her throat, a guttural wail of pain before she stopped, leaning forward and crying over her knees. He moved quickly, before one of her advisers heard her and interrupted, knowing she needed this. Gods there were so many nights I wanted to cry too. He dropped to his knees before her and removed his waterskin from his belt. She sniffed, her beautiful violet eyes swollen and red-rimmed, watching him pour water on her palms and take a cloth and start to wipe gently.

"I should be doing this to you, your hands are filthy," she muttered.

He smiled. "You've done enough."

"It is unqueenly of me to be here crying in a ditch."

There was that stubbornness he'd seen in her all the way back in Vaes Dothrak. He sighed, supposing that it would always be an issue with her. "It is human of you to be here crying in a ditch." He dabbed at the blood, wiping it away, both of them sitting in silence. It was getting cooler, the sun going down on the horizon behind him.

She nodded to the sword strapped to his hip. "Where'd you get that?"

The Valyrian steel blade had been a 'spoil of war' so to speak. He wasn't ready to share it with her yet; he didn't think she needed to know. This wasn't about him right now anyway. "Somewhere," he said, rather lightly. He tore some more cloth, continuing to clean her up. He sighed hard. "It will be another day or so before we make it to the gates of Meereen."

"And the Masters will be waiting."

"Yes."

"You know this wasn't my plan," she said. She chuckled. "I wasn't supposed to be queen of anything, I just wanted to go home. Viserys was the heir. When I stepped out of that fire, when I decided what I was going to do, to take back my home, I didn't have a plan and I still don't know right now...it was what I found along the way. The way people treat others. I cannot stand by and just allow it to continue."

"Nor should you, if you have the ability to change it."

She squeezed her hand around the cloth he'd wrapped over the cuts and splinters in her palms. That was going to take some work, he thought. He reached for the dagger on his other hip, silently gesturing to a large splinter in the side of her hand with the tip of it. She didn't say anything, so he went ahead and carefully began to extricate the piece of wood, a bright ray of light slivered through the brush serving to help him see his task. She did not flinch when he worked out the pieces of wood, as gentle as he could be with her palms.

Not that he had much awareness or experience, but her hands were not those of a noble woman. Or what he imagined a noble woman's hands would be. They weren't soft, delicate things suited to sewing and holding goblets of wine. They were hard and solid, callused from riding long hours and distances. The act of taking down the slave children from their posts had bruised, bloodied, and blistered them further and he tried to do what he could to limit any more physical pain she was in.

They were comfortable together. He knew far more of her than she of him, something he was happy with at the moment. Not that she would be for much longer. "Why do you help me, Khal Verro?"

She'd only referred to him by his Dothraki name in the company of her soldiers and guard. It was just a name but hearing the way she said "Jon" in that soft melodic voice turned things inside of him he'd long thought dormant. Hope, affection...whatever that happened to feel like. He wasn't sure he knew what it was. He hadn't said his true name since the day he lost it. Hadn't even thought much about it.

There were times he actually thought he had forgotten it. Those nights shackled up on the ship or to the wagons, tossed in dungeons as he awaited his fate. He was Verro when he was with the Dothraki, when Bharbo's men beat him for misusing the arakh or not shooting arrows well. He fought nonstop with Drogo, the other older and bigger than him, an easy target—the Western boy his father had saved—something Drogo had considered a slight at the time, an insult to him as a future khal. Bharbo thought it was amusing; the wolf boy was just another spoil of pillaging, just another screamer they could add to the ranks.

He'd become Verro because had to become Verro, lost Jon along the way. Except then he'd see a crying child or a woman asking for help or an injured old man and he was back in Winterfell, listening to Eddard Stark teach Robb about treating your subjects and fellow men with kindness. Violence was never the first solution, but if it had to be a solution, it would be wielded with honor. Jon Snow learned when to kill; Verro perfected how to kill.

And then there was Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons, the Breaker of Chains, the Unburnt. The rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. The one who had captured his interest and ultimately had captured his loyalty. It wasn't Verro she could see or who served her, who wanted to be at her side as she set forth a new world in Essos where slavery was abolished, and people made their way on their merits and not their names. It was Jon Snow.

So, when she'd asked him, that night outside her tent in Yunkai, he'd answered without thinking. A stupid thing to do. An action he never allowed himself. Not thinking was a gift for people who weren't him. He always had to be on alert, never letting his guard down and giving his true name to someone like Daenerys Targaryen was dangerous. She might find out who he was. She could use it against him.

That isn’t her.

“I help you,” he said, taking his time to answer, still working on her splinters. He sighed. “I help you because you are not like the others.”

“Others?”

“The ones who want power.” He lifted his gaze, whispering. “You have a good heart.” That was ultimately the reason. He’d watched her for a long time. She was good. She was kind. The woman who played with children and who was a mother to them all. Mhysa. He took a deep breath again. “The power struggles in Westeros are not important to me.” Robb just has to survive, that’s the only thing I care about in that country. “But I am sure that of all the kings that fight there, none have used their bare hands to remove a dead child from a wooden post or stopped their campaign to save people.” He kept going, not realizing that he was talking more than he probably had in years. “I help you because I learned to follow strength, not titles and names.”

He finally met her gaze, expecting to see frustration because he did not really answer her question. Instead he saw a mixture of awe, curiosity, and something else. Her eyes were such a peculiar shade of purple. He’d seen some women with purple eyes, mostly in Lys, and some men too—he knew that there were some members of the Golden Company in Braavos who claimed they descended straight from Targaryens. It only meant they had Valyrian blood, so diluted over time that they only could claim it because of the color of their eyes.

Except she was a Targaryen. A true dragon. Hers were deep violet, speckled with gold. Or maybe that was the sunset casting its reflection back to him. He thought there must never have been someone with eyes such as hers. He remembered them looking back at him from outside the tent in Vaes Dothrak, that first encounter, ascertaining whether she was hurt or in danger, but despite the slight wariness there, he hadn’t seen anything that overly concerned him.

Not anymore, she’d said, when he asked if Drogo hurt her. He had seen the strength in them when she said that. She’d taken control. She would never give it up again, he thought. He tore his gaze from hers, looking at her hands. They had taken control from her with what they’d done, the Masters of Meereen. She was going to make them pay.

Ghost had seen through them too and he’d seen through Ghost, the strength she projected when she was the Mother of Dragons and the Breaker of Chains. Ghost had also seen her crying in her tent after Yunkai. He’d slipped into his wolf’s skin for a brief moment, to check on her, and when she was crying into his wolf, seeking comfort from the beast, he’d left, not wanting to intrude.

He folded her hand around the damp cloth, removing the dagger and slipping it back into the sheath on his hip. “There,” he murmured, swallowing the lump in his dry, ashy throat. He chanced a glance again at her, at those curious eyes, and before he realized what was happening, at how close they were to him, at that same mysterious look she’d given him a moment before, he realized now what it was.

Desire.

She lifted her fingers to his cheek, dusting them lightly over his jaw as she brushed her lips over his. He remained still; he didn’t want to make a mistake. Although there was now no mistaking that desire, she’d expressed to him. Not now, as her lashes fluttered, her eyelids opening just brief enough to meet his gaze and then he was pressing against hers, the two of them meeting in a tangle of teeth and tongues, her damaged hands reaching around to clutch at his hair, while he snaked his arms around her slim waist, tugging her tighter against him.

It was initially tentative, the light press to see if he felt the same, but it became clear that both of them wanted this. Gods, she tastes so good, he thought, angling his mouth over hers to drink deeper, his fingers fisting around her braids, while she rose higher over him, a tiny moan escaping, before she sighed against him. He was on the verge of losing control, something that couldn’t happen.

As she pressed against him, urging him to move back, he managed to tear away, gasping for breath as she did the same, not releasing him, despite his attempts to move back. “No,” she protested.

He shook his head. “No,” he said, kissing her again. She was addictive, she was better than anything he’d ever tasted before. She was power and strength and fire. A dragon twisting against him, her small hands trying to fight with the laces at the neck of his tunic. No, not like this.

It was her turn to pull back. She pushed her nose against his, hips rocking in his lap. He hissed at the feeling. “Why not?” she whispered.

So many reasons. He shook his head, sliding his palms to frame her face, smoothing his thumbs over her tear and dirt stained cheeks. He kissed her lightly again. She sighed. He smiled, gentle. “You’re upset, this isn’t the time.”

He was glad to see she tended to agree, nodding imperceptibly. She ran her thumb over his lower lip. He kissed it. She smiled. “Thank you,” she said.

“For?”

“For what you did, what you didn’t have to do.” They both knew she wasn’t just talking about his binding her hands. He nodded. She sighed. “I am glad to have your service, but I want you to know that I don’t understand why I need it so much.” Tears seeped into her voice, shined in her eyes. She glanced to the sunset behind him, the orange casting everything into fire. “You’re an outsider in this land, just like me.”

He nodded. “You’ve adapted,” he said.

She smirked, her fingertips skimming across his jaw again. She seemed to like doing that, stroking his beard. “I had to, to survive, just like you. And just like you, I want to go home.”

He helped her to her feet, waited for her to dust off her dress and waited for Ghost to step back over to her side. They walked back together through the brush, the stones, and to the road where her people were waiting. He gripped the pommel of his sword, as her advisers gave him disapproving and in Daario’s case—overtly jealous—looks. He stayed back, as she gave orders that they would march forward through the night, they would get to Meereen tomorrow, burying and helping the children if necessary.

“And then I will take the city,” she announced.

Ghost looked up at him, feet stamping in the dirt, a rare display of emotion from his normally silent and emotionless wolf. He smiled down at him, his hand resting atop the wolf’s head, sending him a thought via their unspoken connection.

And then we will go home again, I promise.

~/~/~/~

The city belonged to her now, as did Astapor and Yunkai. She was pleased, her hands clasped in the small ones of children, who danced around her and called her Mhysa. She had to hand it to Grey Worm, he had taken the biggest risks of siege, sneaking in and allowing them entry.

She pointed to the sky, laughing as the children stared in awe at her sons flying above, screeching and swooping, blowing puffs of fire into the sky as they wheeled through it, showing off. They were children too, playing in the way only a dragon could. She let go of the children’s hands, as they rushed off and she walked ahead, down the main road that led to the pyramid.

Zokla!

The children shouted and pointed to Ghost, who emerged from the shadows, trotting along the street with her. She smiled affectionately, assuring the children he would not harm them, and petting his head with them, the wolf’s red eyes closing in pleasure as he received dozens of pats and scratches from the children.

A movement of black from behind one building to another alerted her to his presence and she waved off Jorah who was at her side, slipping down the crack between two buildings, stopping when Jon moved in front of her. She smiled at him; he had been there in front of the city gates when she’d launched the broken collars, showing the people what she planned to do—for the slaves and for the Masters. Unlike Barristan, Jorah, and Grey Worm who were put out slightly when she hadn’t allowed them to fight Meereen’s champion, choosing Daario instead, he hadn’t been bothered at all.

Sometimes she thought they shared a mind; they could understand each other without words at all. She knew when he was near and he knew when she needed space and when she needed him. He could see ten steps ahead, similar to her. She wondered if it was a characteristic developed in all the years he’d had to learn to survive here. Just like me.

She wasn’t sure what possessed her to kiss him when he’d been sitting beside her on the road to Meereen. It had been too much, the latest child taken down barely more than six years of age, slaughtered by vicious men because they were threatened by her. It was her fault all these children were dead. It had been too much and she needed air. She needed to get away from everyone around her, wanting to see how she was, trying to get her to stop, to just press ahead.

Then the wolf had been at her side, as he had been during all the nights, keeping her company in his silent way. She had taken a look at her hands, covered in blood and she just needed it off. It wasn’t coming off, it was still there, pouring over her hands, strangling her, choking her, and as she sobbed, furiously trying to get rid of it, he’d been there.

Not one of her advisers had sensed it, but he did. Missandei was always attentive to her personal needs, getting her to eat and drink, making sure she was as queenly as she could be. She enjoyed the young woman’s company; it was nice to have someone close to her age who she could bond with. It reminded her of Doreah and Irri. If either of them were still with her.

His hands were rough, but he had a gentle way of him. Just like the wolf. A vicious creature that could rip out throats of men and who would close his eyes in happiness when you scratched his ears just right. He’d spoken to her, so soft, and explained in his way why he served her. She hadn’t known she was going to kiss him until she did. His lips were softer than she’d expected.

She hadn’t kissed anyone but Drogo and that had been such an exercise to keep from hurting. Doreah had taught her to kiss, so she did count her, but that was different. That was a teacher and a student, and she’d learned what to do so when she kissed Drogo it hadn’t been too difficult. All of that paled to how she’d felt when Jon had drawn her into his arms.

Drogo had never really kissed her back, too surprised at the movement, unsure, as it wasn’t the Dothraki way. She’d almost had to teach him as well.

It had felt so good. He wasn’t too gentle; she didn’t want that. She wanted someone who could match her, and Jon Snow certainly could. He was right when they separated though, as disappointed as she was that they couldn’t go farther, that he couldn’t help satiate the pressure that had made residence between her legs since his husky admission to her outside the tent in Yunkai about being in her bed.

“Jon,” she greeted him, looking up.

He wore a loose black cloak around his neck and shoulders, the hood loosely falling over his hair. She reached up and knocked it back, so she could see him better. “Your Grace,” he teased. He never called her that, she thought, smirking. He was the only one who never did. He sighed. “Dany.”

Dany.

“You know my brother called me that…I never cared for it, but…” she trailed off, reaching for his hands. “But from you it sounds different.”

He reached to touch at the loose tendrils framing her face, tucking one behind her ear. “You have a new city to your conquests, Daenerys Stormborn,” he said. He looked up and she followed his gaze to the top of the Great Pyramid. They would be there soon, and she would take it for her own. It would be nice to sleep in a proper bed, under a proper roof. With silk sheets and pillows.

Fit for a queen.

“You best get back,” he said, nodding towards the crowds that were still cheering as she made her way through the city. He let go of her hand, but not of her, cupping her face again. He smiled again. “You are the queen after all.”

She stepped towards him, bumping her chest to his, delighting in the little hitch in his throat. “Will you come with me?” she asked. She wanted him at her side. Her shadow. She dreamed of him, felt him watching her, and she wanted him closer.

“Your Ser Jorah and Ser Barristan might not want me there.” He chuckled. “Daario Naharis certainly doesn’t.”

She sniffed, her brow wrinkling. “They will do as I command.”

“And what will you command?”

“That you join me as I take this city for mine.”

He leaned in and she grabbed the back of his neck before he could pull away, jerking his mouth towards hers in a fast, hot, open-mouthed and bruising kiss. Something to leave him wanting. If he was going to play games, she could play them too, she thought, breaking free before he had a chance to know what had happened. Leave them wanting, she remembered Doreah saying.

Except this was not Drogo or another man. This was Jon, she thought, gasping in surprise when he crowded her against the stone wall behind her, pressing her against it. Her head tilted back, fingers clasping in his as he snaked his hands up her wrists, pressing them to her sides. “Jon,” she breathed.

He kissed her again, gentler this time. She smiled when he separated, letting her go. “Go back to your people, you are the queen now,” he said, smiling. He slipped away, lifting the hood over his hair and nodded towards the street. “I’ll see you soon.”

“Where are you going?” she demanded. She didn’t want him to leave. “Jon?”

“I won’t be long; Ghost will stay with you.”

“Jon!”

But he was already gone, slipping into the shadows again.

Chapter Text

In all his years in Essos, he had never made it as far as Slaver’s Bay. He had heard stories of it, the greatest of all the slave cities, the harpies and pyramids and the legions of Unsullied in Astapor, the gold of Yunkai, and the sheer elegance and prosperity of Meereen. They were old cities, older than even Qarth, although the Qartheen always thought they were the greatest of all the cities that had ever been or ever would be.

He scoffed at the notion, scanning the markets as he wandered throughout Meereen, taking it all in. The men and women who had cast off their collars, finally free and the masters who tried to maintain their wealth, holing up inside their grand manses and scurrying about trying to curry favor with the new queen and her entourage. It was a massive city and everywhere he stepped he encountered another Unsullied, on patrol and standing guard.

He had been gone for a few weeks, not too long, just enough to take a ship to Volantis and meet with Kinvara, to gather the news from Westeros. He also wanted to see what she thought of this entire thing. Whatever she claimed to see in her flames, if it would help Dany or hurt her. He was still unsure how the cities would respond to their new world; they had been around since long before Aegon the Conqueror took Westeros, since before the Doom. The flames had not said much to Kinvara, just that she was sure that Daenerys Targaryen was the future of the world, she would be the one to bring the light whatever that meant.

He had thought about what the red priestess had said to him, after he’d met Dany for the first time in Vaes Dothrak. The snow in the desert. He guessed that was him. Kinvara had seen it in the flames. He wanted to know more. She hadn’t given him much. More mysterious ramblings he did not have the time to try to parse through.

”The flames do not lie, Jon Snow. Your blood runs red and black, whether you know it or not. To go west you must go east and to go east you must go west. You brought the blade of ice to the fire. You found the old dragon and set him free.”

That was not the intention of my visit.

The news from Kinvara was the same. More wars, more battles, and more death. No news on his sister and two youngest brothers, off missing somewhere in the great expanse of the continent. Robb was still holding the North as best as he could, but it seemed that he’d been betrayed by the Boltons and Umbers, an alliance no one had seen coming. They had allied with Walder Frey, attempted to murder Robb at some wedding. In the end Robb got free, it was Catelyn Stark who perished. Now he wasn’t just out for blood in retaliation for what happened to his father, but what also happened to his mother.

And Sansa was missing as well, disappeared in the chaos after it seemed Joffrey Barathon had been killed at his own wedding. Seemed like weddings were not a successful affair in Westeros.

Beyond that, in all the chaos, no one spoke of the lost son of Eddard Stark. There was no reason to, all the children were scattered to the winds, the pack was broken, and even his brief return was not mentioned. Kinvara had mentioned seeing a wolf in the snow, encountering a dragon at a wall of ice, and then she’d very clearly said dragons at the wall.

There was only one dragon at the wall.

He lightly touched the white wolf pommel on the sword, remembering Dany's curious look when she saw it outside of Yunkai. It was a long story; one he would tell her soon. She needed to hear it, he just wanted to make sure she was in a place where she could hear it. Not right now, not when she was trying to consolidate her power, trying to stop the masters and get her feet settled beneath her.

Ghost sniffed at one of the stalls, a little boy jumping back at the sight of the massive wolf. "Zokla!" he exclaimed, laughing, torn between childhood curiosity at a new creature and healthy innate fear of a wolf. Perhaps even fear of reprimand, he thought darkly, seeing the pale skin around the boy's neck where a collar had shielded the skin from the sunlight. He reached into his pocket, not at all interested in the wares the child had to offer but wanting to at least do something for him.

He did not speak very good Valyrian, just a passable Pentoshi dialect, whereas Meereen spoke the High Valyrian dialect and then the Low Valyrian common to the slaves of Ghiscar. It was enough, he supposed, offering some coins to the child, who took them reverently, staring at the wide silver coins. "He won't hurt you, you can pet him," he said, miming a petting motion and then ruffling Ghost's ears.

The young boy smiled shyly and reached, before another, a large man, leaned forward, moving to smack at his hand, shouting at him not to play and get back to work. The boy cowered, clearly expecting the slap the man was about to bestow, before Jon growled, slashing his hand out and grabbing for the man's wrist, wrenching it backwards as Ghost snapped his jaws, baring his teeth up at the master.

The merchant, who no doubt used to own the boy, hissed in pain, crying out when Jon's grip tightened. "Do not touch him," he ordered. He let go, but not without twisting again for good measure. The merchant muttered his apologies, ducking his head, but glaring at the silver in the boy's hand. Jon glanced at it and then back to the man, snapping that if he took the coins from the child, Jon would have his hand as punishment.

There was a set of stones on the merchant, he figured, when the man wrinkled his nose and fired back in Valyrian. "And who are you to order me around, Zokla?"

Who am I to order him around? he did wonder. He supposed he was a member of the Queen's entourage. He did nto consider himself one of her Queensguard, like the knights of Westeros, so he smiled. It meant he did not have to necessarily adhere to the knights' decorum standards. "I am the Shadow," he replied. He rested his hand on the pommel of the sword, drawing the attention of the merchant. The arakh at his other hip glistened, having been polished and cleaned that morning. The merchant stepped back, eyes widening in recognition. So my reputation has made it this far, interesting.

"You kill slavers," the merchant whispered. He pointed. "I have heard of you. Timpa Zokla."

White Wolf. "Good," he simply said. He ruffled the boy's head, taking a couple of pieces of fruit from the stand, offering one of the mangoes to Ghost, who chomped hard on it, the orange fruit practically melting in the strong jaws of the direwolf. He allowed the boy to pet Ghost for a few moments more, before taking his leave, with a glare of warning to the merchant, who wisely stepped away.

They walked through the markets for a few moments more, so he could get his bearings, see the results of Dany's work while he'd been away. Ghost had stayed with her, he had missed his wolf, but he still saw through his eyes, checked in on her. She was doing the best she could, but she was tired, she needed rest. There was too much on her small shoulders. They were buckling from the pressures and her advisers were of no help, often causing her more troubles.

He would see to her soon, he decided, moving towards the streets that led up to the Great Pyramid. He noted the Unsullied, who did not break from their positions, although a few of them did acknowledge him with the barest nods of their heads. He approached the entrance to the pyramid, his presence with Ghost allowing him to pass. He glanced at Ghost, chuckling. "You have been living in luxury," he murmured to him. "You'll get soft."

Ghost swished his tail, smacking at his leg in reply.

He had not been here yet, so he paused in the entry hall, looking up at the great stone blocks, the slanting ceilings, and the minimalist design. It was marble and granite, heavy stones dragged from quarries in the east and south, no doubt the blood of too many to build it. He shook his head, wondering who in the right mind would need something this large to live in. It was unnecessary. Just an ostentatious display of the masters' wealth.

"Can I help you?"

The soft Northern burr sent a brief chill down his spine. He was not used to it. It reminded him of home. He dropped his head from craning up to see how far up the ceiling actually went, gaze dropping to Ser Jorah, who stood at the bottom of a short set of stairs, which led into what he assumed was a receiving chamber. He wondered where Dany met with her subjects; he'd heard many speaking of how she would talk to master and slave as if they were the same person. It was almost too much for many of the former slaves to handle. They could not dream of a queen addressing them in the same manner she addressed nobility.

They would get used to it, they were people too, he thought. He surveyed Ser Jorah. He did not wear his armor from the trek through the Slaver's Bay cities, but loose tunic and his leather gauntlets. He had a blue scarf tied around his neck. Curious that she chose blue instead of her family's black and red, but he knew that Drogo had taken the color as his own, using it for his war paints. Bharbo had used it as well. Jon didn't use any color, just the white ties in the braids of his horses and bloodriders and that had been their decision, not his.

He smiled briefly; through Ghost's eyes he had witnessed Jorah's devotion to Dany. He'd seen it firsthand, but it was different when others weren't around, save for the wolf. Jorah did not trust Ghost, which set Jon's hackles up. Ghost did not trust Jorah and now Jon knew why. He lifted his chin slightly, studying the other man, who might have been taller than him, but who stepped back slightly when Ghost advanced towards him, red eyes unblinking.

Jorah sighed and nodded to the wolf. "He has been quite a fixture with Her Grace these days." He paused. "You disappeared."

"I had business to attend to."

"Oh?" The accusation was there.

Jon chuckled, lifting his gaze back up to admire the support beams of the pyramid, slowly walking towards the stairs, not wanting his voice to echo in the cavernous entryway. "Jorah the Andal," he drawled, glancing back to him, his grip on the pommel of the sword tightening. Jorah saw his reflex and as any good knight wound, touched his sword in response, muscles tensing in anticipation. He continued to smile, cocking his head slightly. "I would like to speak with..." he paused, about to say Dany but dropped his voice in deference to her title. "Her Grace."

"Not right now."

"Perhaps you should let her know I am here." He touched Ghost's head with his other hand. "Because I am asking nicely, but the wolf gets to enter without request." And something tells me so will I.

Jorah scowled, dropping off the bottom step and approaching him, his burr faint from all the years away from the North and his voice gravelly. There was great concern in his eyes, but something else, Jon noted. "You know I am not an Andal."

"And you know I am not a Dothraki, so let's stop pretending, shall we?" He let the proper language he had learned at the knee of a great lord and Maester drop into his words, seeing the surprise in Jorah's eyes at the enunciation. He smiled, long and slow, eyebrows lifting, and his voice cool. He was waiting for this moment, had been since he'd returned, with the final confirmation. "I know who you are," he whispered. Jorah's face went blank, his mouth falling open slightly. Fear crept into his eyes, the corners twitching. He smiled again, moving closer to him, so only the other man could hear him. "Who you really are."

Dany would find out soon. It was only a matter of time. It was not his secret to share, it was Jorah Mormont's to share. The knight paled, a considerable reaction given how suntanned his face was and ruddy his cheeks from his attempts to intimidate. His knuckles were white on the hilt of his sword and his throat constricted. He reached to loosen the scarf at his neck, just slightly, exhaling hard. He set his jaw. "You know nothing, Khal Verro."

That's what they said, a lot of them. He didn't know anything. He was a slave child from Westeros, probably an orphan picked up on the frozen shores, or a wildling child from the far north. He was uneducated, illiterate, a bastard most like. Only right on one account, he liked to think. He let them think that. It made his life easier. He flashed a smile. "I know that you love her, and you serve her because you want to, she has earned your trust and respect." He narrowed his eyes, whispering. "But I know that if you even think of betraying her at this point, Ser Jorah, you will suffer." He waited a beat, lodging the dagger in the man's ribs, so to speak. "And so will she."

Jorah closed his eyes and shook his head. "You can try to threaten me, but I also know things." He gestured to the wolf. "I hear things from Westeros too. Only the interesting news makes its way this far east."

It was now his turn to wonder, heart thudding quicker in the cage of his chest. "Naturally, always the good gossip."

"Not gossip. Well, not really...myths and legends, you know how the Northerners are." Jorah squinted. "There are stories that a member of Lord Eddard Stark's household went missing in the wolfswood. Some say he became a ghost. Others say he was never there at all." He paused, chuckling. "The Northerners love their stories. The best one is that the child became a wolf. Too much of it in his blood, it was bound to happen." Jon said nothing, allowing Jorah to continue, wondering where he was going with this. "Ser Barristan remembers that two of Lord Stark's children had direwolves accompany them when he went to become the Hand of the King. Sadly neither made it to the capital."

One of them runs free in the Riverlands and the other died, he thought, feeling Ghost's pain at the loss of his litter mates. It was the only way he could tell Robb was still alive, he figured if he died, Grey Wind would know, would respond, and the connection would light up, alerting him.

Jorah kept going. "Ser Barristan noted that your wolf is not just any wolf. A direwolf."

"I have never pretended he was otherwise." He lifted his brows. "Direwolves exist in the far north and as you have already correctly inferred, I am from the North."

"Yes, but Ser Barristan also remembers a time when Robert Baratheon was notified that his best friend's bastard son had gone missing and in deference to his friend, sent over a thousand men to the North to search for him. When he was not found, the party returned south, and no one ever spoke of it again. Not even Ned Stark." Jorah cocked his head, whispering. "It took me awhile, but I remember now."

Now his heart was about to scream from his chest. He played stupid. "And what did you remember Ser Jorah?"

"The Starks and their wolves. The wolf's blood in their veins. You have the look of him."

They always did say that he looked more like Ned's son than his trueborn son did. He smiled. Dany would never have divulged his name. Jorah wouldn't know it. No one ever knew the bastard's name, only Robb's. He chuckled. "Who will you tell Ser Jorah? What does it even matter? Ned Stark is dead. So is Robert Baratheon." Robb would care. Robb would want to know.

It isn't time. There's nothing there for me.

Jorah smirked, no doubt feeling as though he had the upper hand. “Ser Barristan will figure it out soon enough. He has known the Starks far longer than even I, been in Westeros longer. In the company of the king longer.”

“Let him.” Ser Barristan would not be foolish enough to try to blackmail me with the information. He chuckled, wondering what Jorah wanted from him. Perhaps to simply stay away from Dany. He looked over at Jorah again, the other man frowning. He arched his brows. “That’s the thing Jorah the Andal…you can tell whoever you want about what you think of me. What you believe me to be.” He smiled again, sad. “There’s no left in Westeros who cares. No one who could give you anything, any way.”

Robb would care…I hope..

He moved by Jorah, seeing Daario emerge from the depths of the pyramid, Ghost sniffing as he pranced by the two men, his entry allowed by nature of being with the trusted wolf. Daario glowered. “She does not want to see anyone right now. She is with the dragons.”

“Hmm, I will determine that Naharis.” He walked by, following Ghost through the pyramid, ascending the dozens of staircases up to the top floor, through an open door and through an iron gate to another set of stairs. They emerged into a solar, with a circular table and few chairs, a side table filled with exotic foods and jugs of wine and other drinks. There was an archway that led to a bedroom; he caught sight of a gold silk covered mattress with dozens of pillows, pushed up against a low stone wall.

In the other open entryway, doors pushed out onto a terrace, overlooking the entire city. He heard screeching, the loud beat of wings, and silently stepped into the room, following Ghost, who trotted onto the balcony, settling in a shaded corner.

“You are very bold, my wolf.”

He chuckled, realizing she was speaking with Ghost, who yawned and set his head on his paws. He stepped quietly over to the middle doorway, staring at the picture she created. She stood with her hands on the wall overlooking Meereen and the bay, one of her dragons, the great black one, perched beside her, his wings outstretched. There was a plate of raw meat beside her other hand and the other two were fighting over one of the slabs of meat at the end of the balcony, tearing into it with screams of protest.

Her hair was longer, if that was possible, a few braids pulled from her temples and wound into a tail that tumbled in soft curls with the rest of her hair, little silver clips scattered throughout the braids. She wore a gray gown with blue straps crossing over her back, exposing most of it and attaching to the skirt, revealing the soft indentation of her spine as it tracked down to the edge of the skirt.

He did not have to wonder what the front looked like, for she turned, a hand remaining on the wall, the sunlight shining off her hair, giving her the image of being on fire. She smiled, gentle, welcoming. The dress’s straps crossed over her exposed stomach, revealing her navel and most of her sides. There was a gray bra over her breasts, which resembled dragon scales and the shoulders were pointed slightly as if she had sprouted wings. Jon thought she could turn into a dragon then and there and he would not be surprised.

“You have returned to me,” she called.

Her voice was like bells. He smiled. “I have.”

“Where did you go?”

“Volantis.”

She cocked her head. “You were not gone too long.”

“I said I wouldn’t be.” He nodded to Ghost. “He’s comfortable here.”

She grinned, her teeth gleaming white in the sun. “He’s terrified most. He’s a good protector.” She arched her brow. “And he’s a nice addition to my bed. It’s lonely there.”

The skin on the back of his neck prickled, a heat racing through him at the implication of her words. He moved closer to her, remembering their kiss in the desert. It was too soon, he thought, but he wanted to kiss her again. He looked at Drogon, who was breathing deep, smoke unfurling from his nostrils. “They’re bigger,” he murmured, turning to see the other two take off from the sides of the pyramid’s tip. The harpy was still there. He wondered when it would come down, like the others.

She nodded, reaching her hand to Drogon, her fingers trembling slightly. She released the breath she’d been holding when the dragon allowed her to touch his head. “They are getting bigger and angrier…I fear they no longer view me as their mother and more as a threat.” She frowned, her lips pursing. “There is nothing about how to raise dragons…no one has had them for a hundred years…I am just doing the best I can.”

“Like any mother,” he said. He hadn’t seen the dragons this close before, always saw them circling in the air from a distance. He had loved dragons as a boy. He smiled briefly at the memory of playing pretend with Robb. He cleared his throat. “You know as a child I imagined I was Daeron the Young Dragon. Or Aemon the Dragonknight. Wished I had a dragon.”

“You wanted to be a Targaryen?” she teased.

He rolled his eyes, lifting his hand carefully, slowly, and holding his breath as Drogon turned a red eye on him, focusing him in the straight slit of his pupil. Beside him, she tensed, her breath held as well.

What the fuck are you doing Snow?

He was a fucking idiot, that’s what he was. He was offering his hand to an adolescent dragon, who burned its meat before eating and tore into flesh as easy as a hot knife through cheese. He closed his eyes, unable to believe it, when Drogon allowed his fingertips to touch at his face, along his jaw.

The scales were hot, he noted. Like touching fire, but it was comfortable. He felt a strange pull to the dragon. In his head, like a spark of a candle lighting. He opened his eyes, meeting Drogon’s. His fingers spread out, palm cupping the dragon’s maw. The beast took a few breaths, still, and closed his eyes, emitting a sound.

The dragon was purring.

Drogon opened his mouth then, wings outstretching and he pulled back, his back claws digging into the wall as he screeched, taking off to the sky to join his brothers. Jon dropped his hand to the side, his chest aching with the strain from holding in all his breath, all his feeling…did I just touch a dragon?

He did not have a moment to process the action. Dany stared, intrigued, up at her children, curiosity and girlish glee dancing in her smile and lighting in her eyes.

"You must have Valyrian ancestry."

The soft whisper brought him to the present, blood rushing through his ears. He swallowed the sandy feeling in his throat, his feet heavy bricks, trying to move towards her. "Wha…what?" he stuttered, like a damn fool, watching the dragon tussle in the sky with his brothers, the three of them black dots in the glowing ember sky. Seven hells, how he tore himself from the beauty of the sight before him to the other beauty beside him, he was not sure, but the look in her eyes was enough to send him flying to the present, out of his fuzzy head.

He blinked, focusing on her violet gaze, her pupils expanding and her plump lips parting slightly. He did not know what possessed him-- fuck, he just touched a dragon what was one more?-- reaching for her and wrapping his arm around her slim waist, drawing her towards him, her gasp swallowed quickly by his mouth, his lips pressing over hers, hungrily taking what he'd missed the last few weeks.

The tiny moans she puffed out drew him deeper into her, a man possessed, drunk on the rush of touching the dragon and seeing her again, of wanting to know if she tasted any different, fuck of just holding her. He'd never needed female companionship the way other men did, he was fine on his own and to be honest they tended to be more trouble than they were worth, but he was living up to the savage slur many gave his Dothraki, practically mauling her on the balcony, his hands sliding over the exposed skin of her back, slipping under the straps to tease the covered skin.

She was no better, her fingers ripping into the laces of his tunic, touching at his chest, his skin fever-hot, her mouth slanting hungrily over his, their teeth gnashing as they sought to conquer the other, biting and licking, her tongue sweeping through his mouth and against his, mimicking the same movement of her fingers as she dug them up under the hem of the tunic, yanking it from his trousers. "Get this off," she gasped, tearing away long enough to take a few breaths before she was kissing him again.

He pushed at the straps of her dress, knocking one askew, his palm roughly cupping a breast, swallowing the moan of pleasure it elicited from her. "Fuck," he cursed, stumbling backwards, her feet sliding against his as they struggled with trying to remove clothing while at the same time not breaking contact.

She giggled, knocking backwards into the table, which he hoisted her onto, her legs parting easily to accomodate him as he bent her backwards, her neck arching to afford him access as he bit and suckled his way across the creamy expanse of skin, the bodice of her dress having fallen around her hips. He could hardly think, he was a man possessed, brain fogged with having her now. She laced her fingers through his hair, tugging at the braids and ripping the leather band he used to keep the curls from getting in his face.

What are you doing Jon?

A tiny voice spoke to him, trying to stop him and speak rationally while he rained kisses over her chest, latching onto one perfect breast while he fondled the other, thumb teasing the dusky pink nipple, which tightened under his ministrations. He tried to tell the voice to go away, he was busy, this was something he'd wanted to do since he'd kissed her in the desert. Fuck, even before that, if we're going to be honest.

"Jon," she whimpered, her hands tugging between them, trying to fight with his sword belt. She was struggling to remove the tight loop of leather, to unhook it completely, her muscles quivering. She sobbed. "Fuck, that feels so good. More."

Not one to deny a queen, he moved to kiss lower, finally wondering if he was going to get a chance to see what she tasted like, if it was all he'd dreamed, when she released the belt from his hips, the arakh and sword clattering to the marble floors, almost deafening in the otherwise quiet space. It echoed, sounded like an army had invaded, and she gasped in surprise, his mouth breaking from where his tongue had been tracing along the curve of muscle that traced vertically on either side of her abdomen, just in time to break completely as the door to the hall burst open.

"Khaleesi!"

"Your Grace!"

The sounds of her knights exploding forth had her yelping, as he shielded her, her arms covering her chest, glaring furiously over her shoulder at Jorah and Barristan, who had swords drawn, mouths falling open in surprise and embarrassment, Barristan immediately sheathing his sword and taking a step back, while Jorah remained ready to fight. "Get out," she hissed, fire burning in her eyes. She pointed with the one hand that was not covering her chest while Jon tried to keep her shielded. "Now."

"Khaleesi," Jorah began.

Barristan had the sense to reach for the other knight, bowing his head in apology. "My deepest apologies Your Grace, we were...ah..." he glanced at Jon, frowning briefly. "Unaware you had company."

"Never again barge in when the door is closed, if I am in need of your assistance, I will call for it," Dany spat, her pale cheeks flushed with a combination of embarrassment and desire. She arched a dark brow. "Now, get out."

He watched, his arm still around her, keeping her propped up on the table as both knights bowed their heads again and turned, but not before Jorah shot him a dark look, clearly annoyed. Jon waited for the door to close before dropping his head to Dany's shoulder. "Fuck. I'm sorry."

"No, I am sorry, they should never..." She groaned, scrubbing her palms over her face. She laughed into them. "Sometimes I cannot even have a fucking moment to myself!"

He touched his forehead to hers, smiling sympathetically. "It was probably for the best." He brushed his nose to hers. They were moving too fast. Caught up in the surge of excitement from being with the dragons, of seeing each other after all this time. She deserved something better than to be fucked on a table. Especially given her history. He felt immediate shame, pulling away from her completely, allowing her a moment to collect herself.

She disappeared into the adjoining room, returning a moment later with a long silk robe tied over herself. She went to the table with the various plates of food and drink, pouring two goblets of wine, while he picked up the fallen weapons. She nodded to the sword. "There's a story with that one."

"For another time, as I said."

"But I want to hear it now."

He smirked, taking the wine goblet from her. "Not yet, Your Grace."

She pursed her lips, eyes teasing. "You know I am a queen; you should not deny me."

"Hmm, will you have my head?"

"I'll feed you to my dragons," she whispered, rising on her toes to kiss him again. She tasted like the sweet wine she'd just sipped. He broke a moment later, noting that they were tinged purple. She cocked her head, brow furrowing. "You did not answer me earlier."

"About?"

"Your heritage. You were able to touch a dragon. You must have Valyrian blood."

He was not sure what he had. He shook his head, whispering, looking into his goblet, studying the ripples that made their way out to the sides of the fine glassware. "I am from the North, blood of the First Men." On my father's side at least. He had no idea who his mother could be. He was born in Dorne. It was possible. Many Dornish had Valyrian ancestry, coupled with the Rhoynar. He lifted his gaze to her; she was not going to let it go, he could already see she had her thoughts anchored there. She would no doubt attack at it like a dog with a bone.

Or a dragon with a piece of meat.

He frowned, seeing bruises blooming along the fine skin of her shoulder and neck, where he'd pawed and bitten. Like a fucking wolf. He brushed his thumb over one mark, the shame building again. he shook his head, frowning. "I hurt you."

She turned her lips into his palm, kissing it. "If you hurt me, I would let you know."

"You were hurt before. I shouldn't have..."

Any apology was swallowed by her kiss. She broke away, her arms wrapping around his neck, her wine goblet still clutched in her hand. She shook her head. Her eyes were wet. Now you've done it Snow, you made her cry. "No," she breathed. "I mean...yes I was hurt. Hurt terribly. Drogo was..." She shivered in his arms, tensing in memory. He gripped her tighter. She hiccupped. "He hurt me, yes...but I...I did what I could to not get hurt anymore."

That's what she had said before. Not anymore, she'd said, when he had asked her in Vaes Dothrak if Drogo hurt her. He shuddered, setting his goblet on the table and wrapping her in his arms again, comforting as she fought the memories. He nuzzled into her neck, whispering. "I won't hurt you." I swear it. "And if I do, you tell me."

She nodded quickly. "I know." She pulled back, looking at him sideways, a wry smile on her lips. "Jon Snow I would never have allowed you to kiss me in that desert if I thought you would hurt me. You're...you're not like them." Not like what, he wondered. She smirked again. "You're different. There's something about you...I don't understand it."

Sometimes neither do I.

He thought of what he'd seen in Westeros, of what he'd experienced, what he'd learned. He closed his eyes, holding her tighter. She was going to hurt again. Soon. "You should get some rest," he whispered, unsure what else to say now.

"Stay." When he shook his head, unsure what that meant, she chuckled. "No, I mean...Missandei will bring in my bath soon. Stay in the pyramid. I need you here...I...I don't know who to trust sometimes, but..." She frowned deeper, a line forming over her perfect brow. "But I trust you. I don't know why."

I don't know why either. He nodded. "Alright." Ghost would stay with her though. He nodded to the wolf, who entered from the balcony, standing still in the doorway. "He's with you always you know."

She smiled. "Thank you."

With one last parting kiss, because he could not help himself, Jon broke from her and gathered the weapons. He went down the short flight of stairs to the door, turning to see her watching him. He smiled briefly. She sent another smile his way, returning through the doors to her bedroom. The white tail of his wolf followed her, swishing in as she closed the door.

He slipped from the rooms, the Unsullied commander Grey Worm meeting him at the end of the corridor, speaking in Low Valyrian. "You are now serving the Queen?" he asked.

"Kessa," he replied.

Grey Worm nodded smartly, leading him to a set of rooms on the floor below. "Her advisers are here."

He paused, turning to study the commander, who served a queen who freed him, a queen he did not have to serve. They chose her. Like me. He frowned briefly, nodding to him. "Kirimvose."

The young man took a step backwards, pausing before he turned his head again. In Common Tongue, heavily accented, he spoke. "She ask about you. This one not know you. The wolf...protect her. You protect too. Yes?"

Yes. He nodded again, whispering. "Kessa."

Grey Worm nodded smartly, returning to Valyrian, speaking slow so he could understand. "She is my queen, she freed us. You stay here, you stay for good." He chuckled. "Timpa Zokla."

It was good she had someone serving her who was only there for her, Jon thought, waiting for the door to close. He turned and crashed back onto the bed, his eyes closing. He fought it, the immediate slide from his body into the wolf, especially being so close. It had taken practice, a lot of years of focus and training to keep from traveling into Ghost when he was no longer present in his body. It would not be right. Especially since she did not know.

Just for a moment.

He gave in, his eyes opening, this time as Ghost's, lying on the foot of the bed, watching as she sat at a vanity table, holding pins in her hand while her handmaiden Missandei removed the few braids she had in her hair, brushing out the moonglow tresses. They were speaking in Valyrian, so quick he could not understand, but the gist of it was that Missandei was asking her about the White Wolf, his return, and the commotion that had occurred earlier.

"It was nothing," Dany said. Her cheeks went pink. "He touched Drogon."

"And did not burn?" Missandei exclaimed. She tsked. "Your Grace, that is almost a miracle."

"I know...he...interests me."

The handmaiden took the pins from Dany's hand, placing them on the table and removing some oil from a bottle, smoothing it over her hands before she began to rake her fingers through the queen's hair, which began to shine brighter with the addition of the oils. "He is from your country, Your Grace?"

"Yes, I believe he is."

"He is not like the others."

Dany turned, gazing over at Ghost, the knowing smile flirting on her lips. "No...no he most certainly is not."

That was enough. He left Ghost, the soft wolf now probably so used to sleeping on a silk mattress he would protest the next time they had to rough it in the desert. He retreated into his mind, allowing himself a moment of rest. There was a lot left to do, to accomplish, and he wondered exactly how long Dany intended on staying in Meereen. She was needed in Westeros.

More than she knows.

~/~/~/~

"Your Grace, as difficult as it must be, we must not stoop to the level of our enemies. Burning or murdering the masters, as satisfying as it may be personally will not stop the violence or end the cycle," Barristan argued, almost pleading with her.

She had wrestled with the appropriate punishment for the Masters for the last month, ever since she walked through the open gates of Meereen and watched slaves thrown down their collars, abandoning the masters, leaving them to fend for themselves. There had been spates of violence throughout the city as a result, some slaves taking it upon themselves to truly fight back and she struggled with the response for that as well.

It became clear she needed to send a message, to the people and to the Masters, who was in charge now and that was her. She had ships at her disposal, to a point, but not enough to ferry her Unsullied across to take her throne. She needed more; the Masters controlled them at the moment. She had to do something.

The table in front of her held a map of Slaver's Bay-- she was calling it Dragon's Bay at the moment-- with figures set around it to represent the locations of her Unsullied throughout the city and some to represent the Second Sons. The few Dothraki left in her khalasar were stationed around the Pyramid, better to serve her there. She picked up a figure of a harpy, representing the stronghold of the Master's Guild, which had holed up in one of the temples, directing their people from there in retaliation to her.

Barristan had a point, Dany thought, but her anger was fresh. Her pain was raw, the images of those children, the ones she had buried with her two hands. "I must answer injustice with justice," she said.

He shook his head, Jorah along with him. "Your mercy is a gift," Jorah said. "You must provide it to them. It was makes you different. It's what makes you good."

"My mercy is a weakness they will use against me," she said, her mind made up. She set the harpy figure down with a final tone, looking to Daario, who was smiling across the table at her. She arched a brow. "Your Second Sons have been quiet of late, do you have anything to add to this discussion?"

Daario bowed his head but did not break eye contact with her. "My Second Sons have secured you more ships, Your Grace. An entire fleet, ninety in all, waiting for you in the bay when you decide to burn this shithole to the ground and take back what is yours." He smiled, bowing again. "Your Grace."

She smiled, appreciating his honestly while the proper knights beside her stiffened at his crassness. "You believe I should...take care of the Masters then?"

"And I will stand beside you while you do," Daario said.

There was another, she thought. She glanced to Jon, who was quiet, leaning against a table against the wall. Ghost was at his side, as always. She was about to ask him what he would do, suspecting she knew his answer. It might be a three to one decision. Grey Worm stood stoic at the door with Missandei, neither one of them daring to offer an opinion. She would seek it later, but she suspected the two former slaves would want to see justice done. Barristan prevented her from getting Jon's opinion.

He glared at Daario. "We cannot just burn the city and run off to Westeros, not right now."

She lifted her hands, stilling the knight on her right and Daario across from her, who was about to respond. "No, I agree with Ser Barristan. We cannot just cut and run." She had thought about it for some time. The dragons needed to grow, they would do no good right now in their adolescent forms. She just had not announced it formally yet. She glanced at Jon again. "Khal Verro?"

"Yes?"

Daario rolled his eyes, waving his hand dismissively in Jon's direction. "What does this Dothraki pretender have to say, Your Grace? He does not provide anything to your cause." He pointed to him. "My Second Sons..."

"Your Second Sons are actually my Second Sons," she snapped, cutting off the sellsword. She smirked. "I pay them from the coffers of the cities I have conquered. The do as I say, whether you lead them or not." She stilled Barristan, who was trying to speak, turning fully to face Jon. "What would you do?"

Jorah frowned. "Your Grace..."

"Why do you ask me?" Jon wondered. He moved away from the wall, slinking to the table, his gray eyes fixed on hers. Surely he is joking. He unfolded his arms, leaning on the table, voice soft, as ever. "You have two of Westeros's best knights and the leader of the Second Sons. What can I provide you that you do not already have?"

"Exactly," Daario muttered.

She ignored the sellsword, as well as the knights beside her, who stiffened when she moved closer to Jon. No doubt they were remembering a couple days before, when they'd rudely interrupted her with the other man. She flushed in memory, now standing close enough to bump her bare shoulder against his arm. It might as well have been just them. "You provide a unique insight.”

The Masters crucified children. It was all she wanted to do to them. Eye for an eye, she would crucify the same number of Masters as they murdered children. The streets of Meereen would run red with their blood and the fires would burn them down, she thought, reaching to take a dragon figure, representing her. She ran her thumb across it idly, lifting her gaze up to meet his. Jon cocked his head, whispering. “You do not need my advice, if you have already made up your mind.”

“And yet I ask for it.”

Jon nodded, his fingertips dropping to the edge of the table. He frowned. “They hurt innocents.”

“And you are a khal of a khalasar that does not adhere to the Dothraki way.” She paused. “Except when it comes to slavers.”

Daario scowled. “Not much of a khal then, are you?”

Jon ignored him. “You are the queen, you must make decisions that are going to be difficult and some you will have to live with, regardless of the right or the wrong.” He glanced sideways, his voice quiet. “There are some in the world who will only understand violence.” He picked up the other dragon, passing it to her, their fingers brushing lightly. “Fire and blood are the only things they will understand.”

That was all he would say. There was a time for mercy, they would use her mercy against her. Scheme behind her back otherwise. She nodded, lifting her eyes, ignoring the defeated expressions of Jorah and Barristan. She called for Grey Worm. He arrived at her side. She turned, the wooden figure in her hand cutting into her palm as she squeezed it tight. “Send the Unsullied into the streets. I want one Master crucified for every child to which they did the same. Show them what it means to wake the dragon.”

Grey Worm nodded smartly, turning and leaving without a word. Barristan leaned towards her, quiet. “Your Grace, I hope you realize what will happen.”

I will deal with it when it happens.

Daario grinned, walking out to join in the fray. Jorah stared at her again before he looked to Jon, who had not moved from her side. “I hope, khaleesi, this does not come back to haunt you.”

“Find the largest banner we have,” she ordered him. He frowned briefly. She smiled, dark, already hearing the explosions in the distance, the screeching of her sons as they felt her anger and need for revenge. She lifted her chin slightly, brow arching. “I intend to make another statement.”

~/~/~/~

Her fingers dusted the top of the stone wall, the light winds from the bay blowing her loose hair from her face and down her shoulders. It felt glorious, basking in the smell of the explosive material as the Unsullied and Second Sons set the streets ablaze, tearing Masters from the safe confines of their manses and villas and temples.

The bay was on fire, some of them trying to flee on ship, but that was folly. Her sons screamed as they circled the air, drawn by the blood, streams of fire from their open jaws as they savored in the retaliation for the Masters’ foolish attempts at dissuading her from her cause.

Ash rained around her, the streets ran red with blood, and she smiled, ruling over it all. They now know what it means to wake the dragon.

“Interesting decoration on the harpy.”

“Hmm.” She turned, looking up at the ugly creature, a symbol of servitude and slavery and the old way. The standard of her house draped from its wings and head, the red three-headed dragon bloody on the black background. She beckoned him to come out to join her, gesturing to the chaos reigning below. “This is my city now…I will do as queens do.”

“And what is that?”

She smiled; Jon was standing slightly behind her, his weapons elsewhere. He never did seem to wear anything other than black. His hair was pulled from his face in a bun, a few stray braids still scattered along his temples, caught back as well. She reached her hand out for him and brought him to join her, lacing their fingers together, overlooking the destruction. “I will rule.”

He placed his free hand on the wall, looking out with her. He nodded to the ships on fire in the bay. “It seems those ships the Second Sons have seized are no more.”

“They will do me no good with their chains and shackles. The Masters can have them.” She would rule here, she would bring peace to Meereen and see to it that slavery had no place in the world. She would wait for her children to grow, to become stronger. “My children need to grow. They will do me no good until their scales are as hard as iron and their wingspans black out the sun. I need Balerion, Meraxes, and Vhagar reborn. They are but small hatchlings still compared to what they need to be.”

Jon nodded. “I understand.” He frowned briefly. “Do not forget who you are though, in your quests.”

“And who am I?”

“You are Daenerys Stormborn,” he murmured, the gray within in his eyes darkening. He moved into her, his lips brushing the shell of her ear. It tickled, forcing a smile to twist on her lips. “The woman who gave children water and led her people through a desert. You have a good heart.”

She shivered, remembering his touch. It had done something to her. She’d been unable to sleep, her fingers finding their way beneath her silk shift as she tried to sleep, imagining it was him between her legs instead of her own hand. She wanted him so badly. Daario wanted her as a conquest, Jorah was just in love with her but she was not sure what he truly saw in her, and Jon…he was her equal.

There was something in how he treated her, how he did not fear any retaliation, he did not treat her with the nods and bowing and Your Grace all the others did. She was Dany to him. The little khaleesi he met in an alley in Vaes Dothrak, when she did not quite yet know who she was. After Drogo she was not sure she would ever want another man to touch her, not after the pain she’d experienced at his hands. Even with Doreah’s teachings, she still did not know what her love for her sun and stars really was. If she ever wanted to feel a man between her legs again. She could use her own hand if she truly needed that pleasure.

Until Jon came along and she sensed something else. She wanted him. He was close to her age, he was handsome and striking, and he understood what it was like. He knew what it was to be alone. To be far from home and want to go back. She nibbled her lower lip. “And what of you Jon Snow?”

“And what of me?”

“Your story. You’ve hinted at it, I can only guess the rest…until you tell me. What of your heart?” she whispered. He did not get a chance to answer, she continued. “I do not expect you to tell me now, which is why I am officially asking you to stay as my adviser. Barristan and Jorah can protect me as my Queensguard, Daario can lead the Second Sons, but their advice can only do so much. I do not trust what Daario says, he only seeks to please me. Jorah does not want to upset me, Barristan is the only one who I believe speaks from a place of true selflessness, but he was Kingsguard, meant to stand and protect and not say anything against his charges.”

Jon on the other hand… He seemed to know where she was going. “You think I can provide…unbiased advice?” he asked.

She nodded. “You know Essos and you know Westeros. The others can’t know what it’s like.” Her hand tightened its grip in his and she tilted her head up to him, her lips brushing over his. Her pulse quickened. His fingers went to her neck, lightly skimming over the rushing point, to drop to her shoulder as he pressed a light kiss to the corner of her mouth. “Please,” she murmured, going numb and the heady feeling returning to her. “You have come this far…from the shores of the North to the Great Grass Sea and beyond…stay with me.”

He smiled against her mouth, his tongue darting to lightly tangle with hers for a moment before he broke the kiss. He was teasing, his nose brushing hers. “What if I only came to see the dragons?”

It was her turn to smile, chuckle, and she reached up to wrap her fingers around the back of his neck. “They seem to like you too.” Drogon did not have his hand, when he even snapped at her from time to time. They were growing unruly, her sons wanted to fight and play, and she wasn’t sure what else to do with them. No one else could even go near them without them hissing and snapping.

“What of your other advisors?”

She scowled; the moment ruined. She backed away, brows slamming together. “And what of them?” She did not care what they thought. Barristan and Jorah already had tried to talk to her about what they’d almost walked in on, but she would not hear of it. It was not their business what she did in the privacy of her bedroom. Let alone who she added to her council. “They will say nothing about my choice, Jon Snow, or else they can find another queen to follow.”

He stared at her a moment, hands on either side of her face, before diving in and capturing her mouth with his. She moaned, her hips pressing into his, needing him more than anything, the rush of…power coursing through her body. She snaked around him, a dragon ensnaring the wolf, savoring in the pleasure she had not felt anything like in her life, the sounds of the madness ongoing outside the pyramid drowned out by the overwhelming feeling of pure want.

They stood together on the balcony for some time, tangled in each other, unable to stop, with the Targaryen banner above their heads waving in the wind.

Chapter Text

"Ghost."

Jon called out softly in warning to the wolf, who had approached the pit of smoking black bones rather hesitantly, nose on the ground, probably torn between wanting to see if there was anything left for him and actually tracking the dragons. He sighed, nudging his horse forward to come around the remains of what he thought might have been goats or sheep. He nodded as one of the shepherds shouted at him in Valyrian, pointing to the sky and howling out about the dragons that had no doubt come down and ruined this man's livelihood.

He glanced to the sky, the man shouting louder and jabbing to the air, seeing the dark forms of the two dragons spinning around, their screeches faint, given how high they were. He dropped his gaze to the meal they'd had, leaning forward on his horse and wishing he had an Unsullied to help translate. He did the best he could, telling the shepherd to visit the Queen in Meereen, she would make right what he had lost.

"Those beasts killed them all!" he shouted. He sobbed out, covering his sunburnt face with his hands. "What am I to do now?"

Fuck if I know.

Ghost nosed a couple of the blackened bones, sneezing at the ash that came up when they disintegrated into dust. He rubbed his paw on it, removing the ash from his snowy muzzle. They continued their path, coming upon another similar sight, blackened bones of goats, sheep, and a couple horses. They were growing, they needed to eat, unfortunately that meant the stock of the locals.

Jon swung his horse around when he saw the first dragon heading down. It wasn't Drogon-- he'd gone out in an attempt to find Dany's favorite son, but the black beast had disappeared somewhere. She was distraught, wishing he would return, at least Rhaegal and Viserion still occasionally dropped by along the pyramid, hoping for food. She was so busy with things she often forgot to have meat kept up on the balcony for them and they'd taken to abandoning her for the outskirts of Meereen, to find their food.

He watched as they landed, first the cream and gold and then the jade and bronze. Rhaegal was the feistiest, he immediately roared, yellow eyes blazing, while Viserion approached, sniffing the ground, wings aloft for balance. They were the size of carriages now. Jon glanced at Ghost; they would not hurt him, but he worried for his wolf. He nodded to his companion, who wisely stayed back, muscles quivering in anticipation of running if need be. The horse was terrified, trying to buck him, but he held on. He arched a brow at them both, clicking his tongue. "Your mother is worried about you," he said to them.

It was silly, speaking to the dragons, but Dany insisted they could understand her. She spoke to them in Valyrian, cooed to them like a mother would. Dragons are intelligent creatures, all the stories said, some thought more so than humans. That was the truth, he'd be willing to bet his life on it. He'd seen with his own eyes-- and Ghost's-- that some creatures were far and away more intelligent than their walking, talking human brethren.

Whether they understood Common Tongue, he'd yet to confirm, but he spoke to them anyway. He made another sound, a chuckle. "I saw you had yourselves a nice supper. The locals are not happy."

Rhaegal roared again, ruffling the frill around his neck. He swung his great head around to his brother, who made a quieter sound, more of a titter. What are you doing Snow? Gods, sometimes he thought he really did have a death wish. He climbed from the horse, figuring if it was there afterward, he'd have something to ride back, if not, well the dragons would have a meal and he'd be down a good steed. He reached his palm out, waiting and it was Viserion, the softest of the three, who hurried towards him, like a dog wanting scratches.

He ran his hand along the warm scales, shimmering bright. The dragon purred but lurched back quickly when his brother pushed at him, screeching, demanding his turn as he pushed to Jon, teeth gnashing out. The connection he felt, particularly with the green, sparked in his mind. Just like with Ghost. He withdrew his hand quickly, the warring emotions in him as Ghost worried for him and Rhaegal demanded. His head ached; it was splitting into three, because Jon Snow wanted to step away, to survive. He looked at them both, frowning. "You both need to hunt farther out."

The spark in his mind flared, irritation maybe, and Rhaegal screamed again, beating his wings and taking off, no longer interested. Viserion sulked for a moment, probably wanting to stay behind, but followed his brother. He glanced at Ghost, who immediately moved to his side, teeth grit. "I know," he murmured, petting the wolf's head, watching the dragons fight above. "She won't like it."

He climbed back atop his horse, taking off and galloping along the ridge of settlements, finding three more flocks that had been reduced to ash. Now armed with this information and assuring the shepherds to go to the queen for restitution, he turned to the city. He had barely made it through the gates and around to the stables to leave his horse when Barristan the Bold approached him. He ducked his head; he had not had an opportunity to truly interact one-on-one with the knight. He'd been purposefully avoiding it.

Barristan knew Ned, had known him for a long time, and Jon was not interested in having his identity sussed out by him. Jorah had not actually said it, just dropped the references to the stories they told in the North. Who would remember the name of the bastard son of Ned Stark anyway? The information that Robert Baratheon had actually sent his forces to go search for him was surprising, but it was only because he was friends with Ned. Besides, that was ages ago. No way he remembered that.

"Northman," Barristan greeted.

He smirked, reaching to undo the saddle's buckle from his horse. "Ser Barristan."

"You know I have been thinking," the knight said, smiling briefly. He kept his hand on the hilt of his blade. It was probably his most natural stance. "Our queen is most enamored and trusting of you."

"Hmm."

"I confess I do not know much about the goings-on in Essos so I had to do some research. I told the queen what I knew, when she asked if I had heard of you, some time ago." Barristan smiled again. His eyes softened. "Former slave from the North. Yet you speak like a highborn."

Jon chuckled; his accent was always giving him away to those who knew the difference. He kept up with removing the tack, a comforting exercise for someone like him. He allowed Barristan to speak, barely offering anything by way of confirmation or negation. Selmy continued. "Your wolf, a direwolf. The Stark family in Westeros has direwolves. It is their sigil."

"I know, I am from the North."

"You have the look of someone, most familiar to me."

Ned Stark.

Selmy shook his head, seemed to forget what he was saying, caught up in a memory. "But that could not be...she's long gone."

"She?" It blurted out before he could realize what he'd said. He inwardly cursed himself. Well at least Selmy doesn't think I'm Ned Stark's bastard.

The knight chuckled again. "As I said, impossible." He frowned once more. "You ride like her. Most curious. Never mind, I am but an old man."

"You are the greatest swordsman in Westeros," Jon said suddenly. He had no idea where the talk was coming from. Perhaps because of the stories he'd heard. Barristan the Bold, standing right in front of him. He ducked around the horse, reaching for a brush on the wall, passing one to the knight as he took another, to rub down the horse before he set him away for the rest of the day. He looked over the great black horse to Selmy, who scoffed. "You do not think so?"

"If I was, I am not any longer, I am an old man."

"Hardly." He longed to spar with the knight, wondering what it would be like. It had been ages since he'd properly fought anyone. Sword or otherwise. He ran the brush over the horse's flank, brows furrowing. "What do you know of the slave trade in the North, Ser Barristan?" He wondered what Jorah might have told him, the difference between the two Westerosi knights striking to him.

Selmy shook his head. "I know that it exists. Gods know what is happening now, without a true Warden int he North. With the wars and everything..." He frowned again, lifting his gaze up to meet Jon's atop the horse. He spoke in a whisper. "I know that the Warden of the North had a son. A son who went missing. The prevailing opinion was that he was lost int eh woods, probably fell in a ravine or from a tree, but the thing is..." He looked at Ghost, a smile curving along his lips again. "No one remembers that Ned Stark said to look for a white direwolf with red eyes while we searched for the boy."

His fingers clenched around the brush. And there it is. Selmy knows who I am. He kept his heart rate as steady as he could, his reactions slow and deliberate. He broke the gaze with the knight, continuing to brush the horse. "And you remembered this now?" He smirked. "I thought you were an old man."

"It takes me some time." He paused. "And I had to confirm with some sources back west...to verify." He chuckled again. "You are that son, are you not?" He did not wait for an answer. "It is my duty to protect Queen Daenerys at all costs. I am sword Queensguard to her and I will protect her with my life. You are closer to her than any of us at this point and I will not hesitate to slice your neck open if I feel you are a threat." He walked around the horse, setting the brush down, voice like steel. He claims to be an old man, but he is anything but, Jon thought, as the knight stared him down. "I do not care where you came from or what your story is, because it does not matter in this world. Not the one she wants to build. She trusts you and I trust you have told her the truth of your blood, because she does not need one more thing to worry about."

He nodded, quiet. "She knows." He frowned. "Ser Jorah does not. I trust you will keep this between us?"

Barristan nodded. "It matters not." He squinted, pointing his finger to him. "But it makes sense now. The look of you...the riding style..."

He cocked his head. "Oh?" It must remind him of Ned, he thought. He smirked. "And what's that?"

"I thought you had the look of her, not Ned Stark, no, but his sister." Barristan smiled fondly. "Lyanna Stark, she was the greatest rider in all of Westeros. You have her eyes. I suppose that sort of thing runs in families."

Lyanna Stark. They always said he looked like Ned. That Ned and his siblings had the look of the North. The thin faces and gray eyes and dark hair. Not even Robb could claim that. He smiled, remembering the crypts, the only woman in the Stark family to warrant a statue effigy, Ned's way of honoring his beloved sister. She was beautiful, he remembered, the stories said she was so beautiful even Rhaegar Targaryen claimed her as Queen of Love and Beauty over his own wife. He hadn't thought of that story in some time. "You knew her?" he asked.

Barristan nodded gravely. "I did. Briefly." He squinted again, struggling with something. Perhaps another memory. "She was...she had the wolf's blood. It was a shame she died so young...but the stories they say...I cannot believe them to be true."

"And what's that?"

He looked away, sighing. "Did you know Viserys Targaryen, before you met the Queen?"

Jon scowled. One of the things in life he had not had a chance to do was kill the man who sold Dany like a prized horse. He felt a muscle tick in his jaw. "No, I am glad I did not, although he would likely be dead still."

"My sentiments exactly," Selmy chuckled. He glowered suddenly. "Viserys Targaryen by all accounts was taking well after his father...I served House Targaryen loyally and faithfully and continued to serve the family that overthrew them. I vowed to Her Grace that I would make up that mistake by serving her...after I saw she was not her father. She was something...someone else entirely." He softened again, quiet. "She is like her other brother...Rhaegar Targaryen did his duty as the Crown Prince of the Seven Kingdoms and defended his king...his father...and he died doing it." He paused again. "Although if the outcome had been Rhaegar winning on the Trident, I suspect King Aerys would still not have been long for his reign."

He frowned; he had only ever heard of Rhaegar Targaryen as an evil prince, who absconded with Ned's sister, ran off and disappeared, started the war because she was Robert's betrothed. Ned never spoke of her though, it was a rule, but the bards sang different stories in front of the bastards and the smallfolk. "Rhaegar," he murmured. "How so?"

"Rhaegar did not like killing, he did it because it was a necessary evil. He was good, he was kind, and very fair. She is her brother's sister. Not her father's daughter." Selmy chuckled, pointing to him as he backed away. "Of course though, Northman, you would have a different view. Do they still sing the songs of how he murdered Lyanna Stark? Robert made sure that one was told all over the realm. Of how she longed for her future stag husband and died at the hands of the dragon." He scoffed again, shaking his head in disgust. "Lyanna Stark was a she-wolf of the North. She would have killed Rhaegar if he put hands on her. She was no more betrothed to Robert Baratheon than she was to anyone else. Rhaegar would never harm her."

"And yet somehow they were together, and she died," Jon supplied. He did not know how they got to talking about the past like this. It didn't matter to him. It didn't matter to anyone. It was gone and dead. Lyanna Stark buried in the crypts of Winterfell like her brother and Rhaegar Targaryen's body left in the Trident for Robert's wrath. He set the brush aside too, taking the reins and leading the horse into the stall, calling out to Selmy. "Perhaps we should test your greatest swordsman title."

Selmy chuckled. "Oh?"

"When you have time," he said, coming out from the stall and smiling. He dropped his hand to the pommel of his sword, cocking his head. "I'll use the sword instead of the arakh."

"Use the arakh, it makes no matter to me." Selmy walked with him and Ghost from the stables up to the pyramid. He stopped at the first entry, reaching a hand to lightly touch Jon's chest, preventing him from moving further. The friendly gleam in his eyes had shifted, concern filling them. "News from Yunkai about the Masters has upset her. She has officially postponed an invasion of Westeros, you should see to her, she might want to hear some other news...unless you don't have it to give?"

He sighed, wishing he could give her something else. He shook his head, whispering. "The dragons have killed flocks of sheep. The shepherds will be at her door tomorrow asking for restitution."

Selmy hung his head in defeat. "Any word on the black one?"

"No."

They entered the pyramid and began the slow, winding journey up the staircases to the queen's private chambers. For an old man, Barristan was fairly spry, not at all winded as they ascended. "You somehow arrived in Essos and came under the care of the Dothraki," he stated. There was no question, but Jon knew he wanted answers.

He nodded. "I arrived to fight in the pits."

"The queen has closed the fighting pits here. Ironic, for you might have been here anyway."

"Might have," he said, softly. He would have died before he got to the pits. Likely by his own hand. He would never have been able to survive long in slavery. He touched Ghost's head, the wolf galloping off faster to reach Dany. Or to get the rich food she sneaked him beneath the table, lazy arse. "They wanted my wolf."

"For a menagerie no doubt."

"Yes." He had not told anyone but Dany about his story, even then bits and pieces. He chuckled. "I knew Khal Drogo before the queen did...when I found out he married her; I was...upset." He stopped on a landing, turning to square off with Selmy. "You are her Queensguard, but you do know that Ser Jorah allowed her to be sold? He was her protector and yet he did not protect her."

Selmy reached over and lightly touched his shoulder, eyebrows lifting and face softening, giving him the impression of a grandfather comforting his grandchild, rather than a sword shield who could kill someone within a second. "Ser Jorah did what he could, but remember, he was serving as well." He paused, regret dripping, his shoulders slumping. "We all do things we regret, when it comes to who we serve and what they will have us do."

He served the Mad King. "Like what Aerys did?" he murmured.

"Yes," he said weakly. He sighed, rubbing at his head, eyes closing. "Like what the Mad King did."

I suppose that's it then. He was not sure what he would have done, but he was glad that he had not encountered Drogo before. He'd have murdered him, even if he had saved his life years ago. Even if Drogo's father had saved his life. He looked up when footsteps sounded on the stone, echoing loudly. He stepped sideways when Daario appeared, clearly upset about something. Selmy scowled, but said nothing, Daario smirking and shooting a glare.

He reached to the loosened ties of his tunic. "Her Grace is...indisposed at the moment."

The gleam in his eyes almost had Jon lunging for him, but Barristan grabbed his elbow, holding him back. Daario chuckled, sauntering off. He looked up to the top of the pyramid and without waiting for Selmy, took off up the stairs, skipping a few until he was at her door, knocking once.

"Enter."

He pushed through, finding Ghost at her feet, where she was seated at the table, a glass of wine at her wrist and a quill in her hand, stacks of parchment before her. She looked tired, her shoulders slumped, her soft silver hair loose about her, hanging down to the small of her back in gentle waves. "Your Grace," he said, scanning the room, unsure what he was supposed to be looking for.

"Save your anger, I can feel it coming off you."

"Anger?" he murmured, slinking into the room, the door shutting behind him. He glanced to the open door to her bedroom, eyes flashing at the rumpled bed. He set his jaw, coming to stand before her. "I am not angry."

Dany did not look up from her task. "What did Daario say to you just now?" She didn't wait, her voice droll. "Did he try to imply that something occurred between us?" She clicked her tongue. "Jon Snow, you should know better than that. He was just trying to bother you." She dropped her quill and leaned back in her chair, tapping her fingers on the edge of the table. A smile flirted on her lips. "Will you fight for my honor?"

He sighed, somewhat abashed at his reaction. Stupid Snow, of course he was fucking with you. He looked over his shoulder to the bed and then to her, wincing. "I am sorry."

"Don't be, the bed is rumpled because your wolf was sleeping there when Daario came in and propositioned me. I sent him on his way and Ghost came to defend me." She got up from the chair and walked around to him, fiddling with the laces of his tunic. He slipped his hand around to cup the back of her head, sighing at the silky feel of her hair in his hand. She nipped his lower lip. "Where have you been all day?"

"Tracking the dragons."

Her violet eyes lit up, she turned hopefully to the balcony, but they were not there. "And?"

"Rhaegal and Viserion came over, but Drogon was not found." He hesitated, wondering if he should tell her about the goats. She needed to know, but he knew it would hurt her. He slipped his hand around to hold her jaw and she turned into his palm, eyes fluttering shut. He lowered his lips to her brow, murmuring. "They're slaughtering the livestock...the farmers and shepherds...they will need their queen's assistance."

She whimpered, eyes closing tighter, moving into him. He wrapped his arms around her, wishing he could make it easier. "They're so big now," she cried. "I don't know what to do with them." She dug her fingers into the base of his shoulderblades, sniffing into his chest. He wished he could make it better for her; he wasn't sure what he would do if Ghost suddenly became too much for him, if he had to be fearful of him in any way. Ghost was a part of him, as her dragons were a part of her.

They stood for a while, with him simply holding her; he suspected that was all she wanted at the moment. She turned her head, her cheek pressed against the exposed skin from the open vee of his tunic. "I presume you know that I am staying here...for now."

"Ser Barristan told me."

She let go of him, walking over to pick up her wine goblet. She took a long pull of it, pressing the cool glass to her forehead, her eyes closing as she wrapped her other arm over her stomach, hugging herself. "The Masters are returning to Yunkai, I've been so focused here I was not paying attention there. Slaves need jobs, they're demanding wages and the masters here are not complying...a man came to me, said that his father was one of the Masters crucified." She closed her eyes tighter. "I allowed them to be taken down, to be given burial." She snorted, stalking to the doorway to the balcony. "More than what they gave those children."

"You gave the children burials," he reminded her. "You are better than the Masters."

She plunked down into a chair, crossing her legs, slumping back, the goblet dangling in her fingers. She gestured to the chair beside her, a jug and another goblet waiting. "Sit with me."

As my queen commands. He did so, removing his sword belt and propping the weapons against the wall beside him, his dagger still confined to his boot and another tucked in the small of his back. He still did not trust Daario Naharis not to return and decide he wanted to serve someone else for a higher price. He scowled, frustrated at his own jealousy, acting like a damn green boy upset that the girl he liked might possibly have flirted with another. He rubbed at his temple, suddenly tired.

She pressed a goblet to him. "Have a drink. It'll cure whatever ails you."

"Somehow I don't think wine has ever been thought of as a true cure," he said, but took the glass anyway.

It was her turn to smirk. "I find lately that it does the trick at least." her voice dropped, along with her gaze, staring at the wine in her cup. She moved her foot up and down, the slim sandal wrapped around her delicate feet and ankles glinting in the sun. "You have nothing to worry about when it comes to Daario Naharis, Jon Snow."

He sipped the wine; it was far too sweet for him. He would surely have a headache later. "I don't know of what you speak, Your Grace."

"Let's drop the titles, we're Jon and Dany right now," she said.

He glanced sideways. Very well. "Naharis is a braggart," he said. He sighed. "Stupid of me to be goaded by a braggart."

"Nonsense," she scoffed. She smiled again, teasing. "I quite like jealous Jon Snow."

"Really?" He chuckled. "Well I hope he does not come out often."

"Hmm, reminds me of a wolf." She purred, sounding almost like Viserion had earlier. "Daario came to tell me that his Second Sons will go to Yunkai, to see to the Masters. He will go with them, likely in a few days, perhaps a week or so. Thought he might try to get a...goodbye gift I suppose, from the queen herself."

"hmm."

She swirled her cup in her fingers, whispering. "What am I supposed to do Jon? I can't do one thing here without another issue coming up...whether it is the masters or slaves or my...or my sons." She looked very small, in the big chair with her wine cup in her tiny hand, staring out beyond the balcony wall to the bay, where the ships dotted along the shoreline. She closed her eyes; he saw a tear tracking down her cheek and he moved quickly, lightly brushing it aside. She smiled, her face turning into his hand. "That's nice."

He dropped his hand and she took it into hers, lightly holding it as she sipped her wine. He twisted his fingers around, absently tracing patterns on the fine lines of her palm. He drank his wine too, both of them comfortable in the silence. He eventually dropped the empty goblet onto the table beside him. "Ser Barristan told me about your brother Rhaegar," he murmured, still fiddling with her hand. He touched the ring on her index finger, the one she was never without. He sighed. "He said that you are quite like him."

She turned her head, sadness in her eyes. "I wish I had known him." She danced her fingers now along his hand, his turn to get the absent treatment. She circled her thumb around his pulse point, which quickened beneath her touch. "Do you have any siblings? You know my sad tale, but I am afraid I still am trying to figure yours."

He nodded, eyes closing. It had been one glass of wine but coupled with the heavy humidity and heat of the evening, he felt quite drowsy. He sighed. "Yes...when I was taken...I had a brother and two sisters. I later found out that I have two more brothers."

"I am sorry you never got a chance to meet them."

By all accounts the two youngest may be lost as well, he thought. He shook his head. "It is the past." He rolled his eyes. "I was taken when I was trying to find my brother...he was the heir, the one that I...beat I suppose. My father came home from war to find his new wife had given birth to his heir, but he had a bastard in his arms at the same time...my brother never cared. He was my best friend...I was trying to find him when the slavers caught me."

"And your brother?"

He smiled sideways, whispering. "He's in Westeros, still fighting for his people, I suppose."

She squinted. "Will you tell me your family name?"

"You may hate me for it." The Starks were the "dogs" in the tale of the overthrow of her family. Robert Baratheon had them fight alongside him. Her father executed the Lord of Winterfell and his heir. her brother may have run off with the woman, inciting it all. She could send me away., a small voice said in the back of his mind. And then you will have no one again.

It was the voice of the bastard, who was not allowed to eat at the high table with the rest of the family. He tried to put it out of his mind. To focus on the woman who had not once done a thing to make him think she would hate him for things his family did, as she feared the same thing in others.

A thought she confirmed, with her soft murmur. "You do not hate me, and my family are Targaryens." She was earnest, her hand squeezing tight in his. "Please. Jon...tell me."

He squeezed tight; she had to know. Jorah could tell her; Barristan already assumed he'd told her. It had to be done. He took a deep breath, it felt like the ash from the dragons' burnt bones in the fields earlier. He almost choked. "My name is Snow, because I am a bastard, but my father...my father was Lord Eddard Stark...Lord of Winterfell." He lifted his gray eyes to hers, seeing the shock in the wide violet. Her hand gripped tighter, when he thought she might release it. He squeezed back. He dropped his eyes to their joined hands. "And now you know. My father fought to overthrow yours...his best friend was the Usurper himself...I was the stain on Lord Eddard Stark's famous ironclad honor." He spat out the last part, the thing that was thrown in his face for his entire childhood. Even before he understood what a bastard really was.

Here you are not a bastard. Here you are a khal. You have men at your call, and you have the ear of a queen.

She moved, sliding from her chair to kneel in front of him, her hands lifting up to his face, turning him to her. The wide violet eyes locked onto his. She shook her head, imperceptibly. "I do not care who your father is Jon Snow, or what honor he may have had. Or what he may have done. You have only proven to me that you are trustworthy, that you are...you are mine."

Mine.

He leaned forward; a queen should not be on her knees before him. He moved from the chair, to sit with her on the stone floor, an odd position for them, and yet here they were, with her legs tangled in his and her arms around him. He raked his fingers over the scattering of braids in her hair, wanting to tug them free, but instead he just stroked them lightly. "Ser Barristan and Ser Jorah have all but figured it out...Barristan knows for certain."

"And neither will say a damn word," she vowed. She nodded. "You have my word on that. If you do not wish anyone to know, they will not. You are Khal Verro to the world because you want to me. When Jon Snow wants his name out there, that is your choosing." She leaned in, eyes still open, brushing her mouth to his, whispering. "Your brother Robb Stark claims he is a king."

He nodded. "There's more," he murmured. He gestured to the sword beside them. "Like why I have that. Like how I know my brother claims he is a king and Ned Stark is dead and...and where my few siblings may be or not be." He brushed his lips to hers once more. There's more she needs to know about her family too.

“Whatever your brother claims to be, we will deal with it when we get to Westeros,” she whispered. We, he heard, cocking his head inquisitively. She wrinkled her nose, amused. “What? Did you think I would just let you stay here? No, Jon Snow. You are coming with me. You always were.”

“Even if I’m the son of a man who helped kill your father…your brother?” He wondered what would have happened if he’d never come here. If he had stayed in Westeros, with Robb and all them…would he still be at Winterfell? Would he have still met her? Would my father still be alive?

She shook her head, leaning closer. “No Jon Snow, I don’t care about your bloodline…I just care about you.”

I just care about you. Her soft words, hesitant, a confession of sorts, reverberated in his mind. He closed his eyes, reaching again, accepting her closer into his arms, mouth closing over hers, achingly sweet. He was scared he might break her sometimes, she was so small, and then…she bit down on his lower lip. Then she reminds me she is a dragon.

She deepened the gentle kiss. Her hips rocked into his; since their untimely interruption by her Queensguard, they had not gone farther than the heady, intense kisses. He was still trying to ascertain whether she was ready, or if she was confused. He did not want to hurt her, not after what she'd experienced. She crawled into his lap, her skirt flowing from her hips and the material so fluid it was easy for her to straddle his hips, her knees coming to pin at his sides. He groaned into her mouth at the sensation of her above him, the fine silk and the leather of his breeches preventing him from truly feeling what she was like.

They fell onto the stone floor, her hands slipping from his hair to knock flat on either side of his head, her hair a waterfall of silver, curtaining them from the world. Her lips were swollen from their kisses, bruising as she licked and nipped, their movements growing sloppy as they began to tear into each other. Not here, he thought, trying to sit up, to lift her from the cold stone floor and take her into her bed, where she should be properly worshiped.

"Dany," he groaned into her mouth, his fingers fighting with the confounding ties of her dress. Her nimble hands were making quick work of the laces of his breeches. He reached between them, stilling her movements. He finally tore away, confusion in her eyes. He shook his head. "Not here."

She arched her brow. "You are something Jon Snow. A queen throws herself at you and you say no?"

He smirked, leaning in and kissing her again, hard and fast. "I said," he whispered, moving to get to his feet, drawing her up with him. He stressed his words. "Not here."

She grinned, sweeping in kiss him again, distracted by a sound in the distance, her head moving around his, peering off. "Drogon," she sobbed, pointing at the dark spot in the sky, which moved closer. She tugged on his hand, laughing joyfully. "Oh! He's alright!"

They moved to the balcony, her hands still within his, beaming as her son moved closer, swooping around the top of the pyramid before landing on the top, claws cracking into the stone, screaming for all to hear and see. He felt her lean against him, dampness from her cheeks wetting his tunic. Not now. He squeezed her tight. Soon though.

"You're too good of a man to be here Jon Snow," she whispered, no doubt sensing the moment had faded. She looked up at him, the tears trickling from the corners of her eyes. She stroked his beard lightly and he kissed her hand.

He nuzzled her hand, cocking his head. "And you're too good of a woman to be a deserted queen." She should be ruling over whatever remained of the country that expelled her as a baby. A queen who was just and merciful and cared for her people, to the point where it almost made her sick, as it was doing to her now. She cared so much.

And he understood that.

Understood what she was seeking. She just wanted to love. Love her sons, love her people...

A boy who was shunned in the life he led before he'd been taken away, who only had a wolf as his family, well, he understood that probably more than anyone.

"Will you stay with me?" she whispered. She traced her thumb on his lower lip, watching her movements before she glanced to Drogon again. "Just sit with me, lie with me, it has been so long since I have had the company of someone who treats me as an equal and not as a queen...not even Missandei can do that." She ducked her head again under his chin, speaking to herself, so faint he almost didn't hear. "Not as if anyone did that before."

She is so lonely.

He nodded. He wanted to. Wanted to sit with her as Jon and not as Ghost. He kissed the top of her head, his knuckles lightly scraping up and down her bare upper arm, watching Drogon as he circled around the top of the pyramid, clutching it with his claws and the hooks on the corners of his wings, clearly making it his roost for the evening. "I'll stay as long as you want," he whispered.

She smiled. "Good. Because I want you here for a long time Jon Snow."

I won't go anywhere.

~/~/~/~

She was irritated with Jon Snow.

He'd come to her that night with his knuckles wrapped in linen, slightly bloodstained. "Who did you punch?" she had demanded. Although I think I already know.

"No one."

She poured him a goblet of water, as it was quite late and she was not in the mood for wine. She had sent away Daario Naharis, who once again had sneaked into her chambers in an attempt to bed her, telling her he was good at only two things and wanted to at least show her the one. She had given him his orders; go to Yunkai, kill all the Masters who dared to oppose her, and bring the Second Sons with him. He would go with Hizdahr zo Loraq, who continued to come to her receiving hall, begging for her to open the abhorrent fighting pits.

He would go and kill and fight on her behalf, still put out she would not bed him, despite his best efforts. It’s that bastard from Westeros, the fake khal, isn’t it?, he had wondered to her, as she sent him on his way. She’d chastised him for daring to speak to a queen like that, turned him off to go find someone else to prove how good he was with loving women.

Maybe in some other life she would have scratched the itch with him, but right now the only man she could see gracing the silk sheets of her massive, soft bed was Jon Snow, who by all accounts wanted to be there too. If only we would stop getting interrupted. She was so tired of the constant distractions, she wanted him. Ruling was sapping her of all the energy she had, making her frustrated and angry, and she was so fucking sad a lot of the time.

Alone.

She wasn’t alone with Jon though. He was just like her. She took his hand, after he accepted the water from her with his other, looking at the abraded knuckles. She shook her head, rolling her eyes. “Did he goad you again?”

“He might have.”

“Jon, really?”

He smiled, ducking his head, almost shy. “He…he said things that weren’t right.”

“I can handle myself,” she huffed. Although it was kind of sweet that he thought he had to defend her honor, such as it was. She almost would have liked to see suave Daario getting his teeth knocked into by her quiet khal. She kissed the knuckles, letting his hand fall to his side, her shoulders sagging. She closed her eyes, whispering. “I had more people come to me today…tell me the dragons are killing their sheep, their goats, horses…burning their homes.”

A surge of want coursed through her; she had to have him, she wanted to just feel something other than the overwhelming pressure and pain and sadness. She reached up on her toes, angling her mouth against his. He tasted so good, she thought, reaching around and dropping her goblet onto the table, moaning into him as his hands moved around her waist, snaking down to lift her bottom, fingers gripping the back of her thighs as she swung her legs around his hips, locking her ankles.

They stumbled from the solar and into the bedroom, her heart rate quickening with the realization that they were finally doing this. Until he hissed in pain, shaking his hand out when he’d gotten it caught in her hair. “Fuck,” he cursed.

“Let me see,” she said, pushing him to sit on the bed as she looked at the hand again. She sighed, shaking her head and moving from him. The knuckles were bleeding again. She couldn’t let him bleed over her or her bed, so she walked over to the dresser where there was a fresh basin of water. She picked up some linens at the side of it, carrying both over and setting it on the floor as she leaned against him, taking his hand and beginning to dab at the wound.

He sighed, hard, frustrated. “We seem to just keep getting interrupted.”

She smiled, whispering. “Perhaps we just need to have the perfect time, Jon Snow.” She worked on his hand, looking over at the sword in the other room, with its wolf-head pommel. “Tell me about your sword. About going to Westeros. I want to know.” He had teased enough, she thought it was more than fair she find out what he’d been doing over in their mutual homeland, while she had been in the red waste and Qarth.

The revelation some days before about his bloodline had surprised her; she had no idea he was so closely linked to her own family’s sad tale. They were fated, she’d decided, to meet. She did not believe in gods, she decided it was how the world meant it to be. Jon Snow was supposed to come to her, she was supposed to go to him. The Starks had assisted in the downfall of her family, now it was a Stark that would help her bring it back. It sickened her that he had been treated so poorly, despite being highborn, all because his father was weak. The noble Ned Stark, the Usurper’s dog, Viserys always called him.

So odd he would have a son who seemed to embody an honor that was unwavering, but who was also not opposed to sinking low if necessary. He killed slavers without trial, he approved of her plan to crucify the Masters. She frowned, thinking of the advice she had given Daario. “Do you think it right that I am having the Second Sons kill the Masters in Yunkai?” she wondered.

He looked up from his knuckles. He shook his head softly. “Are they murdering innocents?”

“Yes.”

“Then perhaps they deserve the justice that is coming to them.” He paused, sighing and conceding a point. “Although I suppose you cannot murder every single one of them…the ones who are in charge, perhaps. Mercy is a virtue that you cannot afford to lose. It is what makes you…you.”

She would have to think on it; Daario and the Sons weren’t leaving until tomorrow. She had at least a night. She continued to work on cleaning his cut-up knuckles. “Does Daario have fangs or something? You must have hit him hard.”

“May have hit him a few times.”

“And all you have is this.” She lightly touched the shadow forming around the curve of his left eye. She smirked. “Gives you a dashing look…those scars included.” Her thumb angled over the one that curved across his left eyebrow and to his cheek. “How’d you get that?”

“Hawk,” he said.

“A hawk?”

“Hmm.” He tried to wink his right eye but ended up blinking instead. She giggled. He smiled. “That one is from a knife. A khal didn’t much like me when I decided to free the young girls he was keeping as wives.”

She glowered, her brows slamming together. “He is dead, I hope?”

“Yes.”

“Good.” They saw the world in the same way, she was pleased for that. She did not want him to distract her, continuing to work on him, lightly dabbing some oils into the broken skin, scoffing at his hiss of pain. “Oh that’s nothing, you baby.”

“Baby?”

“Tell me about the sword,” she demanded.

“Well stop interrupting me!”

She giggled, leaning her shoulder into his, but did not look up. She knew he’d at least be trying to smile, as painful as the action seemed to be for him. They sat in silence while he collected himself. “The sword,” he began. She wrapped linen around his knuckles, and he flexed them, waiting for her to look up. His eyes were dark, almost black, memory consuming him. His arm went around her, and he settled back onto the bed, bringing her with him.

It was nice, lying here beside him, listening to his heart as her ear pressed to his chest, his warmth seeping into her. They lay still for a moment, her hand on his chest while he waited a moment. “Go on,” she murmured, turning her face, her head now in the crook of his shoulder. “Tell me.”

So he told her. Told her he went to Westeros not long after they separated at Vaes Dothrak. He had to see for himself what happened, the news was too great. News of his father’s death, of his missing sisters, and his brother fighting as the King in the North. “I needed to see if there was still something for me,” he murmured. He was saddened, answering before she had a chance to ask. “And I found…I found something but not what I expected. Not what I thought I would.”

He’d taken a ship to White Harbor, Ghost with him of course. The same place where he’d last been as a boy, he returned as a man. No one knew him, recognized him of course. They were terrified of the wolf, only speaking briefly of the other wolf that walked the North, at the side of his master, the King. He’d headed North, trying to get to Winterfell, to see what he could find there, if anything.

“I didn’t know if Robb would recognize me, if anyone was left who would know me,” he whispered, his gaze fixed on the high arched ceiling. “My younger brothers might have still been there, but they weren’t even born by the time I left…I had no idea what toe xpect.”

“And what happened?” she murmured.

“I never got there.” As he moved north to Winterfell, he’d come across a band of Night’s Watch deserters. “They were trying to get to White Harbor, to get to a ship that would take them East. I don’t know what you know of the Night’s Watch, but it used to be a noble cause…men serving for life to protect the realms of men from the horrors that lay beyond the Wall…nowadays it is for rapists and murderers and…people who have nowhere else to go.” He smirked. “I guess I would have probably been there…bastard as I am.”

She snorted. “You are not a bastard, not to me.”

“Well thank you my queen, but most of the world does not share your sentiment.”

“Wear it like armor,” she said, circling her index finger over a scar on his collarbone. He cocked his head and she grinned. “Then they can’t use it to hurt you.”

He smiled. “I’ll remember that.” He already sort of did wear it like armor. He was not a bastard, he was a fucking khal, she thought. He continued. “They had someone with them…they were using him as…insurance or ransom I suppose. I do not know what they thought they were planning on doing, but…” He sat up suddenly and drew her towards him, hands clutching hers.

There was an intensity that overcame him. His brow wrinkled, eyes strained, pleading. “What happened?” she breathed, terrified. She felt her chest straining suddenly for air, her head dropping ot his. “Jon?”

“Dany, what do you know of your family? Of anyone beyond yourself and your brother?” he asked. He lifted a hand to her cheek, holding her steady when she shivered, shaking her head slightly. There was no one but us.

She closed her eyes. “I don’t…don’t know…it was just us. The last of the Targaryens.” And now it is just me. I am the last of my family.

He shook his head, breathing. “There was another.”

Another? She sobbed out, clutching him. “Oh…what? Who?”

“His name was Aemon Targaryen. He was a Maester of the Citadel, sworn to the Night’s Watch.”

Aemon Targaryen. She broke away from him, sobbing, laughing almost. “I don’t…I don’t know an Aemon…I mean…Aemon the Dragonknight maybe…”

“He was named after him,” he whispered. He smiled briefly, sadness consuming him once more. “I am so sorry Dany. I should have told you…should have told you once I saw you again…I…I am sorry.”

It was nothing to be sorry for, she thought, but hse understood where he was coming from. Her heart leaped into her chest, the joy at not being the last…until she realized… “He’s gone, isn’t he?” she whispered. The joy was fleeting. Gone like a candle snuffed out under a thumb. Her eyes closed again. “Isn’t he?”

He nodded. “He was very old…maybe a hundred and four I think…I believe he was your… great uncle maybe?” He kept his hands on her, holding her steady, and close. He smiled; his voice thick. “He knew who you were, when I said that there was a queen across the sea. That you were alive…he was so glad to hear it. Another Targaryen.” He chewed his bottom lip. “He was…in and out of consciousness a lot of the time. He passed away not long after I came across the group.”

She sniffed, tears trickling down her face. Of course he was gone. She fought the tears, but Jon encouraged them, whispering that she should let it out, it was alright, as he was there. She curved deeper into him, balling herself up, knees to her chest, whispering. “Did he ask after me?”

“I told him you were a true Targaryen…silver hair and violet eyes.” He stroked her hair, turning strands around in his good hand. “He said that he wished he could have known you…to see if you were as beautiful as your mother or as smart as your brother.”

My mother. No one ever spoke of her mother, they only ever thought of her father. Barristan said her mother was dutiful and kind, a good queen. He was sorry for not protecting her, he’d admitted. She did not deserve what happened to her, he’d said. She continued to sniff back the tears, biting her lower lip to stem them as best she could. “And…after he…after he passed?”

“I burned his body, as a Targaryen deserves.”

Good. “Targaryens are fire, even in death,” she murmured. She wished she had known of Maester Aemon. Wished Viserys had bothered to tell her of a relative they had who was still alive in the Seven Kingdoms. Maybe she could have gone to him. Instead of wandering in the waste or instead of going to Drogon…but it did not work out that way, so there was no use in wondering.

He was quiet for a long time, allowing her to silently grieve. “He was a good man,” he whispered. “For the brief time I spoke with him, those few days, listening to him…he knew who I was…somehow. He was blind and feeble, but he still knew who I was when I told him my story…I did not even know him but he had that way of him, where you could just…speak to him without fear.”

Like how I am with you. She ran her hand along his chest, swallowing back her tears. “And the sword? How did that happen? After you met…met my uncle?”

“The deserters…they had the sword with them. It belonged to their Commander. He…he was killed in a mutiny. It was chaos, they said. They had no idea what they had.”

“What did they have?”

He got up, the departure feeling like she’d lost a fire, her body chilling with the loss of his closeness. She shifted to lean against the stone wall behind the mattress, looking up at him as he carried over the sword. She didn’t know much about sword, watching as he withdrew it. The sword was large, gleaming silver, hardly quivering as he held it in one hand, arm muscles bunching under his tunic. There was a quality to the silver that she did not see in Barristan or Jorah’s swords. It looked so sharp, as though it could slice the air itself.

Her finger touched lightly on the side of the wolf pommel. “This is…” she trailed off, squinting, something Viserys told her from their childhood. She lifted her face, awed. “Valyrian steel.”

He nodded, holding the sword now in both hands, resting it there. “Valyrian steel, it’s a bastard sword…fit for a bastard,” he chuckled. He swallowed hard, throat constricting. “The pommel was destroyed…Maester Aemon was…he could not tell me about it. He was ill and in and out of awareness. The others had no idea…said they stole it from their Commander. Commander Mormont.”

Mormont? “Jorah?” she murmured.

“His father, I believe. I think this may have been a family sword.” He paused, looking to her, quiet. “I will return it to him…if it belongs to his family.”

She shook her head, frowning. “No, to the finder go the spoils I suppose. If his father did not grant it to him, perhaps there was reason.” She knew Jorah left his family in shame. She looked up at Jon again. “The Targaryens had two Valyrian steel swords…lost to the ages. One was Visenya’s. Dark Sister. The other was Aegon’s. Blackfyre.”

“I do not believe this is either,” he chuckled, sheathing the sword again. He set it down against the wall, leaning over her, pressing her back into the pillows and silks, her leg lifting to wrap around his waist, cradling him against her. He kissed the hollow of her throat, whispering into her skin, his fingers tracing along the side of her dress. She closed her eyes, savoring in the warmth that filled her, the pressure building, needing him. “What would you have me name this sword, my queen?”

She brushed her nose to his, reaching to the hem of his tunic, lifting it up and over his shoulders, tossing it aside as she rolled him gently onto his back, stretching herself over him, his shoulder used as her pillow. She closed her eyes, hugging him. “I will name it for you.”

“And what will you name it?”

The only two swords with names she knew of were the ones she’d just told him, her family’s lost swords. She opened her eyes, scanning the room, seeing Ghost settled on the floor by the door, ever on watch. It had to have something with a wolf, she thought, lifting herself up on her elbow, looking down at his face. She touched her fingertips to his lips, leaning in and whispering before she kissed him. “Zokla Angogon.

He smiled through the kiss. “Afraid I don’t know the second word. Wolf…what?”

“Wolf Bite,” she translated. She gazed out the windows along the stretch of room, at the moon glowing coolly in the height of the sky, the reflection it cast dull in comparison to its daytime mate. She closed her eyes, drawing herself closer to him. “Jon?”

“Yes?”

“Will you stay here the night? Just hold me.” As much as she wanted to feel him, to taste him, and see if the pleasure he could bring her rivalled what she thought he could do in her mind, she wanted someone close. Her heart ached, wishing for a family member she never knew, and for a life she could never have.

The one of a little girl who had no fears, who grew up in a castle, with two brothers who loved her, and a beautiful and kind mother, and a father who was not mad at all.

Jon held her tighter, his lips brushing along her hairline. “Of course Dany.”

Dany, she sighed. That was the little girl’s name. She tapped her fingers on his chest, about to say something, but when she lifted her face, she smiled, seeing that he was already asleep. She smiled, moving closer, chuckling when Ghost got up from the floor and climbed onto the bed with them, settling behind her.

And for the first time in a very long time, perhaps ever, Dany slept and did not wake once, cocooned by a wolf on either side of her.

Chapter Text

Jon did not have a chance to speak to Dany before she swept from the receiving room, a cloud of silver and blue, hurrying away with Missandei on her heels.  He stared at the man who knelt before the stairs leading to the Ibben stone bench where she took her subjects' complaints.  He was a broken man, his pleas unheard.  She was hurt deeply, surely Jorah understood that?  This was no simple betrayal.  This was not someone she expected to hurt her, like Daario or maybe one of the Second Sons or seven hells, even if one of the Unsullied decided to change his mind and go fight for the enemy.

He was reporting on her to the man who overthrew her father.

He pretended to be her friend, to get more information.

His grip tightened on the handle of his arakh, feeling pain on behalf of Dany, wanting to hurt Mormont as much as he'd heard Dany.  He had allowed Barristan to take the lead, when he'd come into the chambers, where he and Dany had been discussing what to do with the dragons, since he was the only one they would let get close.  It had been horrifying, but it made sense, as if a blind had been removed from his vision.  

Ghost had never trusted Jorah Mormont, had never wanted him close to Dany without the wolf being near.  He sensed his wolf's discomfort, but never dug into the why of it, trusting Ghost knew what he was doing.  it all made sense now.  He stared at Jorah, who was still in a state of shock.  His explanations, protests, they were all for nothing.  The pardon was no more.  Just attempts of the Lannisters to pull away one of her most trusted advisers.  

The pardon on behalf of Robert Baratheon for an exile Ned Stark ordered. That bothered him too.  His father had doled out justice and mercy the only way he understood, Jorah Mormont walked away with his life when he could have been killed, the same argument he used to convince Dany to allow the Second Sons to grant quarter for the Masters in Yunkai and Astapor, as they sought to take it back.  Yet here he was, negotiating pardons and reporting on her.  

He almost had her killed.  Almost had her unborn child killed.

"No," Barristan whispered.

He blinked; he glanced down and saw somehow he had made his way over to stand before Jorah, the arakh removed from his hip.  Oh.  They all looked up as a shadow crossed over the side windows of the room, one of the dragons screaming in distress.  It was Rhaegal, he realized.  He didn't understand it, but the green dragon seemed to be in tune with him, he supposed.  When he was furious, so was the dragon.  He blinked again and stepped back from Jorah, who looked up at him, pitiful, a broken man.  

"Just do it," Jorah croaked, shaking his head.  "Because there is no reason left to live."

"Death would be too good for you now and she did not order it," Barristan said.  

He nodded in agreement, his voice quiet.  "Go Ser Jorah.  Take the gift of your life and leave."

Jorah glared up at him.  "You are glad for this, now there is nothing standing in your way."

"He never betrayed her," Barristan snapped.  He stepped closer, rising up, the strong and steady knight.  "You have your orders.  Go, leave this city and never return, your queen has ordered it."

They saw Jorah out, gave him a horse, watched him leave, for the last time.  He swallowed hard, feeling the splitting in his mind between Ghost's satisfaction at being right and Rhaegal's pain and fury.  Why do I connect with the dragon like this? Perhaps it was because he was a warg.  He looked up, Drogon darkening the clouds, drawing the gazes of many onlookers as he screamed out his anger and pain, likely reflecting the same his mother felt.  

He dropped his gaze to see Barristan watching him.  "What?" he murmured.

"Nothing," Barristan said.  He removed his sword from its sheath, flexing his wrist a few times with it and sighed, nodding towards the training yard.  "Come.  She will need some time with Missandei.  You wanted to spar with me, yes?"

As much as hew anted to spar with the greatest knight in Westeros, he didn't think it would come after such a sad event.  He nodded, following after the older man to the training yard.  He knew that soon they would have to return to the receiving hall.  There were more subjects who wished to speak with their queen and he knew no matter the pain she felt with Jorah, she would never stop what she was doing, ensuring everyone had their say and their audience with her.  

He was distracted, which was the only reason he gave for why Barristan beat him so handily in their first match.  It was over within minutes, some of the Second Sons that remained behind laughing at how fast he'd lost.  He scowled, dropping the arakh and going for his sword, withdrawing it and capturing Selmy's interest.  The knight gestured to the blade with his.  "Valyrian steel.  Interesting acquisition."

Jorah would never see this blade now, even if it did belong to his family, Jon thought, twisting the pommel in both his hands.  He smiled briefly, his blood rushing through his ears and his muscles quivering with the surge of energy throughout his body.  "Let's do this," he said, swinging the sword, a blur as he moved towards the knight.  

They fought, this time it felt like a true match.  Barristan was not a joke, he truly was one of the greatest swordsmen in the realm, a title he received for a reason.  He ducked and parried easily.  So much for saying he's an old man, Jon thought, as the tip of the knight's sword came a bit too close to his shoulder for his liking.  He jumped away, backing up as Selmy advanced.  He was younger, smaller, and a lot nimbler, which was the only reason he was able to flip out of the way and swing his sword back, switching hands quickly.  

It was something that came naturally to him; when he was a lad in Winterfell, Ser Rodrik Cassel, the master-at-arms had always wondered where it came from, calling it his signature move.  A flip of his wrist around to transition the blade fast, something that Robb envied, unable to do it no matter how hard he practiced.  It was useful in moments like this, to distract his opponent, to give him a moment to regroup.  He liked having something he could do that Robb couldn't.  When he did it with the arakh, it would almost always take off the limb or head of the man he was facing.  

Sure enough, the twist had Selmy faltering, his eyes widening and he backed up, his grip loose on the hilt of his sword, just enough of a moment for Jon to lunge towards him, but Selmy was good.  He recovered quickly, spinning around to swipe his blade over, but Jon saw it coming and bent his knees and flatted backwards, the blade hitting nothing as he jumped back up, turning again and had the tip of the sword pointing to Selmy's back.  "Yield," he said softly.

"Yield," Selmy said immediately.  He turned, eyes still wide.  He sheathed his sword, impressed.  "Where did you learn that?"

"I had to fight with khals," he explained.  He chuckled.  "Real world practice."

That wasn't what the knight meant, shaking his head.  He pointed to his wrist.  "No, the switch of the blade.  Where did you learn that move?"

Oh, that. He shrugged.  "Always could do it."  He frowned.  "Why?" Selmy stared at him, like he was seeing him clearly for the first time.  He blinked, voice hollow.  "I have only seen that move in one other swordfighter in my life.  It...it's impossible."  He stepped away, still unsure, brow wrinkled as he thought.  He shook his head again, muttering.  "But it couldn't..." He paused.  Cleared his throat and shifted, back going straight again.  "We should return to the receiving hall."  

Yes, they should.  Dany will need us. 

He wanted to see her, wanted to ask her why Barristan would get all strange about him fighting.  Wondering what she was thinking.  He wanted to hold her, kiss her hair, and comfort her, the way he knew she needed.  He couldn't imagine what was going through her mind.  He had had many in his khalasar who fought him, no longer wishing to live by his rules.  He'd had men sneak into his camps in attempt to spy on him on behalf of a rival khalasar or try to steal Ghost away or some of the women who served him and took care of the other riders and families in his care.   He had never been betrayed in the way that Jorah had to her.  

He was the only one there for her for so long.  And in the end he never was.

They went into the hall.  He stood in the back, as was his custom, watching her, while Barristan and Grey Worm watched everyone else.  Men and women entering and speaking to her.  Most complained of the loss of their sheep and horses.  She repeated what she always did; she was sorry for their losses, she would pay them and give them the cost of all their total monetary losses and would buy them new sheep and goats and whatever else.  She would send Unsullied to help rebuild their homes, if they lost those as well.

And then the man came, with that blackened bundle in his arms.

Jon saw what it was before she did.  Barristan did not understand, but Missandei did, as she clarified the translation for them, and he moved towards her, as the horror crossed her face.  The realization at what Drogon had done.  

There was nothing she could say to the man that would bring back his child.  No amount of money or apology for what her son had done that could bring her back.  No, no, no, no, she'd howled, as he left with his dead daughter's ashy bones still in his arms.  She hurried away, not wanting Missandei or Barristan.  

"She wishes to be alone," Barristan said, when he moved to follow her from the hall.  He stilled him.  "Do not follow."

It was soft, quiet Missandei who spoke.  "She would see him," she said.  She looked to him, her dark eyes filled with tears.  She was pained on behalf of her queen and friend.  "Please, Khal Verro, go to her."

Being alone is the last thing she needs right now.

Jon did not know how fast he moved, Ghost with him, loping up the stairs faster than he ever had before.  He burst into her chambers, finding her in a pile on her bed, sobbing into her hands.  He rushed to her, the sword and arakh on his hips clattering to the floor, reaching onto the bed as she howled, her sobs reverberating in the high marbled room, her tiny body shaking like a leaf in a strong wind.  

It was too much for anyone to handle, let alone someone as strong as her.  It was breaking her.  All of it.  He clutched her, wishing he could take away the pain.  He didn't know what to say.  What could you say to this?

She cried in his arms for how long, he couldn't say.  Her tears were still damp on his tunic when she finally lifted her face, violet eyes shot red and swollen, her pale cheeks flushed and sticky.  "I am the mother of dragons," she choked.  She wiped the back of her hand on her nose, sniffing, fighting to stem the new onslaught.  She barked, harsh.  "Mother of monsters.  If they are monsters...what am I?"

Oh gods. He cupped her face in his hands, thumbs raking over the high arches of her cheeks, sandy dirt from his hands streaking over her smooth face with her tears.  He dropped his forehead to hers.  Closed his eyes, whispering.  "You are not a monster, Daenerys.  You are the farthest thing from a monster."

They sat like that for another hour or more.  He rocked her, holding her head to his chest, hoping she was falling to sleep, but he knew she wouldn't.  She was thinking of that father and his dead daughter.  Of what her son had done. What all her sons were doing.  She was thinking of Jorah and his betrayal.  It was so much, far more than anyone could handle.  His arm was braced around her and she shifted so her back was to his, head still on his shoulder.  Her hand came up and clutched at his wrist, while her other gripped the crook of his elbow.

Her hair was caught between their bodies, but she didn't make a sound when it tugged as she turned to peer up at him.  "Jorah betrayed me."  She was calm.  Stating fact.  She squinted.  "Ghost would never get close to him.  He never liked him with me.  He knew, didn't he?  He knew that Jorah was lying this whole time?"

They both gazed across the room to the wolf, who lay in the archway of the room, red eyes on them.  He knew they were talking about him, his tail thumping on the floor a few times before he got up and walked over, head resting on her knee.  She leaned into him, murmuring in Valyrian, her arms snaking around his great neck, burying her face into his ruff.  She sobbed for a moment, whatever she was saying to him causing his eyes to close, his body leaning heavily towards her. 

He closed his eyes momentarily, the wolf's emotions flooding his senses.  Love.  Trust.  Apology. He slowly opened them, Ghost moving from her and settling on the floor at the base of the bed.  "He's such a good boy," she whispered, moving back into him again.  "He's something special...I feel like he sees me, he listens to me."  She cried.  "Not like my children do...they don't anymore.  They no longer need me."

"They need you," he whispered.  He shook his head.  "Dany, they're your children.  They're dragons, they're not used to this world.  They're special too."

"I can feel them tearing me apart," she sobbed.  She wrapped her hand into a fist, pressing to her breastbone, pounding on it, the dull thud hurting his heart.  She turned quickly on him, her hands reaching to his face, holding him to her again.  "Jon I don't know if I have the strength to do what I need to do."

"You are the strongest person I know."

Dany smiled, the curve of her lips lopsided, not meeting her eyes.  She wiped at her eyes again, moving to sit on the edge of the bed, her fingers gripping the sheets at her side.  Her violet eyes were vacant, seeing something far away.  "Jorah said he stopped reporting on me, but twice they tried to kill me.  Once they tried to kill my unborn child.  Robert Baratheon and his assassins have been after me since the moment I took my first breath.  He knew that.  He didn't care, he only wanted a pardon, he only wanted to go home...I understand that, but he did wrong.  He deserved his punishment."  She turned her head, peering at him, the fire returning to her.  "Did a baby deserve death for her father's sins?"

He sought her hand, squeezing.  Jorah Mormont deserved whatever was coming for him.  He was lucky to leave with his head, both times.  Ned Stark could very well have executed him.  Perhaps if he had done what he'd done after...after I went missing, Ned may not have been as merciful.  "He will have to live with the consequences of his actions," he said, quiet.  He knew.  You knew Jon...you didn't tell her. He hesitated.  She had been through so much, he didn't want to hurt her, but...she had to know.  "I have a confession."

She sobbed, half-hearted, almost a laugh.  "Jon I do not know how much more I can take."

"I knew, I think."  He was not certain, he'd threatened Jorah, surely.  He looked at Ghost, the red eyes on them both.  "I can...I can sense Ghost's thoughts and feelings...I can become him."  

"What?" 

The incredulity of her question forced a laugh from him.  It sounded insane.  "It's mad," he whispered.  He squeezed her hands.  "But when I close my eyes, I can go into his mind.  Walk in his skin.  The elders in the North spoke of it, it's called warging.  I had no idea, I could not control it for some time.  As a child I could be in his head and wake, but it was like no dream.  I felt everything, I was truly running in the forest.  I think we all could do it, Robb said he...said he woke once and could taste the blood in his mouth.  Grey Wind came in and he'd just killed a chicken...he was just a pup."  He sighed hard, it sounded so mad, no doubt she'd cast him out soon.  "I want you to know, because I told Jorah I sensed something in him, that I knew who he really was, and I would not tell you.  I should have.  I should have the moment I sensed it in Ghost."

She let go of his hand and stood.  Walked over to a jug and poured herself a rather large glass of wine.  He waited for her to take a long drink, swallowing hard.  She set it back on the tray, turning to gaze over to him, her dark brows lifted, her cheeks still flushed.  She snorted.  "Jon Snow, you being able to see through the eyes of your wolf is nothing to me right now.  It only makes more sense to me...you're really a wolf.  I always thought you were.  Now I know for certain."  

He climbed off the bed, going to stand beside her, his fingers threading into hers again, absently stroking.  "I want you to have all the information."

"And now I do."  She rose on her toes, pressing her lips to his, a sweet, gentle kiss.  He raked his knuckles down the side of her face, wishing he could take her pain into him like he could Ghost's.  She turned her head, staring out at the black sky that had fallen over the city.  He could not believe how long they were here.  "I must do something...it is going to hurt."

Whatever it was, he would help, he decided.  

And so when she led him to the base of the Great Pyramid, when she brought both of the dragons that followed them, curious and wishing to know what their mother was doing, he stood beside her.  He seized at the pain she felt, the pain that Rhaegal felt, when she snapped the collar around his neck.  She did the same to Viserion, both of them crying, children who did not understand their punishment, who wanted answers, and wanted their mother, as she backed away from them, turning to look over her shoulder, tears streaming over her porcelain face, her chest heaving with sobs.

He felt their pain and confusion, he felt hers as well, and went with her back up to her chambers.  She gave the order to Grey Worm that there were to be absolutely no interruptions. He looked at Ghost, nodding, and the wolf took his leave, trotting off to find another bed down location for the night.  

When the door closed behind them, he knew this was it, and she turned, her hands hanging at her sides, her eyebrows lifting again.  She spoke like a queen, but she was just a woman in that moment.  

"Well Jon Snow, whatever will you do with me now?"

He smiled, red glinting briefly in his eyes.  "Are you sure?" he murmured, stepping to her, his index finger drifting along the inner part of the bangle at her wrist, savoring in the shiver that pulsed through her.  He leaned over her, gazing down at her, black flooding out the violet in her eyes.  "I do not want you to make a decision you will regret."

"I have never been more sure of anything," she said.  He leaned closer, savoring her gasp, and swallowing her moan with his when she threw herself up to meet him, groaning.  "Kiss me Jon Snow."

As my queen commands, he thought idly, immediately grasping her into his arms, tugging at the hidden ties and claps while she moved her hands around to the front of his tunic, one groan from her and tug of her hands tearing it down the middle.  He grinned and she faltered, eyes widening briefly.  

Until the violet flashed and she snapped her jaws, a dragon lunging at the same time as the wolf.  

 

 

~/~/~/~

 

She had no idea what she was doing, she just did what came naturally to her, what her body craved. She pressed against Jon, feeling his body react to hers as she reacted to him. It was like they were meant for each other, they molded together in all the right places. Her breasts strained against her bodice and she pressed her hips against his, where she could feel the hardness of him pushing into her, the pressure building as she moaned, needing his touch.

I need him.

He broke the kiss just as she was moving her lips from his, to track a path down his throat, her tongue flattening against the rapid pulse beating at the juncture of his neck and shoulder. “Dany,” he groaned.

“Jon,” she sighed. She needed this more than she needed air right now. The release, the feeling…I just want to feel good. Tears pricked the corners of her eyes. She sniffed, peering up at him. He stared down at her, brows furrowed, concern clear. She understood his worry, kissed him again to show that he had nothing to worry about. “Please Jon…I just want to…to feel something.”

He shook his head, whispering. “Dany.”

“I have three cities I can barely hold,” she said. He knew it all, but she had to say it. She was so tired. She laughed. “I have three dragons…I just locked up two of them and the other is gone. I am a mother of monsters, I am a khaleesi without a khalasar…I am a queen without a throne.” She dug her fingers into the back of his neck, pleading. “I have no one.”

“You have me,” he said. He kissed her, hurried, and hard. She felt it to her toes, rising up to meet him, grasping at him. He pulled back, their feet tripping over each other as they backed towards the bedroom, as he fumbled with her tricky hooks and ties of the dress. She smiled against his lips when he growled in frustration, eventually tearing at the back of the dress, dropping it from her shoulders.

It pooled at her waist, her skin tingling in anticipation, a hiss escaping at the sensation of his rough linen tunic abrading her bare breasts. She pressed them closer, angling her hips, gasping as he roughly tugged under her bottom, hoisting her up, turning to fall over her onto the mattress.

She cried out, her fingers tangling in his curls, yanking at the tie and allowing them to spring forth, holding his head as he latched his mouth over a breast. The last time they got this far they’d been interrupted, she thought vaguely, her eyes rolling into the back of her head as she parted her legs farther, rocking slowly against the hardness of him, wanting him so badly. More than anything.

A sudden fear shot through her, spiraling from her heart and up to her head. Her eyes sprang open, her breath catching. “Jon!”

He immediately let go of her, head tilting up. She stared down at him, her fingers lightly scraping over his jaw, taking in his blown out pupils, mussed hair, and swollen lips. He was breathing deep; she wondered how long they could both last, they’d wanted this so badly. “What’s wrong?” he murmured. He sat up instantly, the loss of contact causing her to squirm. He lightly pressed his palm over the flat of her stomach. “Dany?”

She swallowed hard. “I just…” she nibbled her lower lip. This is Jon, Jon will not hurt you, you do not have to fear him. A tear leaked out of the corner of her eye. She swiped at it, frustrated. “I want you…I…I want you so much but…”

Understanding dawned on him. “Drogo,” he said, jaw setting.

She nodded quickly. “I’ve only been with him…I want you…so much.”

“Only if you want to,” he whispered. His fingers spread out over her stomach and he leaned over her, lightly kissing her. It was achingly soft, she hardly felt it, her muscles quivering around him. He touched his forehead to hers. “We won’t do anything you don’t want.”

He won’t hurt you. She smiled, nosing him, pressing another kiss to him. “I just want you to know…I may not be very good.”

“Gods Dany I don’t care.”

“Just saying,” she teased. She tugged her bottom lip under her teeth again. She nodded, mind made up. “Please…I need you…I trust you.” She accepted another kiss, breaking away and pressing backwards into the soft silks under her, staring wide-eyed as he did not break eye contact with her, did not even blink hardly, and began to kiss across her chest. She arched her neck, whimpering.

What is he doing?

She wasn’t sure, watching him nip, lick, and suckle over her breasts, his fingers deftly rolling her nipples between them. It was almost too much, she could feel something inside of her start to coil. A spring ready to release. Everything felt like she was on fire. Sweat pooled in the base of her spine and he had not even taken off her dress. She’d forgone smallclothes; sometimes they were just too cumbersome with the heat and humidity.

Every time her eyes tried to close, entirely of their own volition, she forced them open, wanting to watch him. It was primal, a need to see him pleasure her, but he made no move to remove his breeches or tunic yet. The only things that had somehow come off were his gauntlets, probably tossed onto the floor in her solar with his boots. “Jon,” she sighed, his mouth hot across her abdomen, tongue swirling around her navel. His fingers were everywhere.

And then he was sitting up, removing the rest of her skirt, tugging it down her legs. She lifted her hips to help him, gaze following the dress as it went somewhere onto the floor. His hands ran over her calves, knees, and lightly fondled the inner skin of her thighs. She gasped, unable to keep her eyes open any longer, the pressure building. She wanted him there; she needed him inside her so badly, she knew it was the one thing that would make the pressure stop, release the spring that had tightened so much she feared what would happen when it finally released.

Everything was hot, his fingers and his mouth, and she tried to sit up when suddenly his mouth was following his fingers on her inner thighs. “What…” she began to ask, unsure what he was doing, when suddenly his mouth closed over the juncture of her thighs, his fingers teasing under his lips, gathering the wetness and dragging it up and down, pressure alternating between light and hard.

The sound she made was inhuman, her fingers immediately grappling for purchase of something. The sheets, his hair, her hair, her stomach, his shoulders…she had no idea what was happening, her hips bucking to get more of him, his tongue lapping at her like a kitten with cream, his fingers slipping through her folds, and just when she thought it would be too much, that spring inside of her tightening even further, he slipped first one digit and then another, straight into her empty channel, filling her but not enough, no definitely not enough.

It was incredible, she thought, almost incoherent, sounds she had no idea she could make slipping from her. Perhaps she was even begging, she had no idea, stealing another look at the black tangle of his hair around his forehead. He was watching her, his mouth never stopping as he alternated between slender fingers and clever tongue and then she saw the one hand he was using to keep her thigh up and away press it higher, slipping around to lightly push on her lower abdomen, tilting her hips up just enough and then…

The surprised scream she released almost shook the walls. He’d flattened his tongue under the little hood at the apex of her mound, pressing the tightened bundle of nerves she’d only ever had touched by her own fingers. It was nothing like she’d ever experienced as a result of her own hand, the explosion shooting flames throughout her body, the spring breaking as he continued to suck on it while he drank from her, tongue slipping in to join his fingers, her thighs shaking so hard she could no longer feel them, gripping around him as she twisted and keened in the sheets, shouting in Valyrian, wanting more, and somehow she was getting it, the release never-ending, as he did not stop.

It was too much, she sobbed, somehow still wanting more but she was so sensitive, everything on fire, and yet he kept giving. He did not stop, his hands featherlight over her thighs, her stomach, around her hips, and when the second release came, not long after the first, her eyelids felt like weights, she could hardly keep them up, staring down at him, incredulous at the pleased look on his face when he kissed up from between her legs and through the valley of her breasts to finally take her mouth with his again.

Oh my, she managed to think, realizing she could taste herself on his tongue, somehow the knowledge of that making her wetter, and wanting him even more. She was boneless, loose and liquid, spread out in a tangle of sweat-slicked limbs on the damp sheets, still shaking from the double release he’d given her. Valyrian was the only thing she could think of, murmuring as she tried to reach for him. “ Skoros gōntan ao gaomagon? Kostilus tolī, nyke jorrāelagon ao.What did you do to me? Please more, I need it.

Aderī .

Soon, she wondered, shaking her head. “Sir”, she begged. Now, now, now.

He sat back onto his heels and she drew herself to her knees, her fingers deftly peeling up the tunic over his head, revealing his chest to her. She kissed along the scars that cut through his skin, tongue licking at the hardened tissue, soothing the long-ago injuries that no doubt had caused him pain. He tugged through her hair, tilting her chin up as she tried to go lower. He shook his head. She nodded, knowing there was plenty of time for that later. She just wanted to make him feel good, like he’d done for her.

Her fingers slipped under his breeches, watching his eyes close, a hiss release from his slightly parted lips. It gave her power, knowing she could do this to him, filled her with more confidence. She gripped the thick, velvet length of him, her thumb running over the tip, her body vibrating, wanting him now. “Lie back,” he breathed, kissing her again, tongue sliding along hers, plundering her mouth.

Like he’s going to do to me next, she thought, scrambling backwards as he shucked off his breeches. She took him in, her chest heaving, licking her dry lips as he moved over her, keeping a healthy distance, his arms locked as his hands pressed to either side of her head. She felt the length of him against her thigh, eyes closing, needing him. “Please,” she almost begged. “I’m ready.”

“Hmm, not yet.”

What!?

“Don’t make me order you.”

“You’re not a queen right now,” he teased. He kissed her, shifting his weight to the side as his hand slipped between them, thumb circling around her clit, testing her readiness. She growled, snapping at him, knowing she was ready. Fuck, I’ve never been more ready at this point, she thought, primed, fighting her instincts that wanted her to be over him, as she’d been so accustomed to before.

He will not hurt you.

And when she thought he would never move, she locked eyes with him, his fingers skimming over her forehead, both of them heaving for breath. She stared up, watching the reactions on his face. He shook, as did she, and then very slowly, she felt the tip of him at her entrance, push carefully. She shifted, arching to meet him, thighs gripping his, moaning as he pushed into her, her inner muscles clamping around him, pulling him in as he shook, holding back, not wanting to hurt her.

Surely, he sensed, but just in case, she let him know. “You won’t hurt me,” she whispered, her arm around his neck, fingers teasing his curls, twining them around her fingers. Her violet eyes were as black as his gray ones were now, and she nodded quickly. Tears leaked from the corners, but they weren’t from pain. There was something else happening, she thought.

And he seemed to know it too, his fingers still shaking as he brushed her cheek, knocking the tears aside. “Dany,” he murmured, forehead pressed to hers.

“Jon.”

Then he pushed into her entirely, one swift move, and she sobbed, utterly filled, every nerve ending on fire, wrapping around him and lighting him aflame. He stilled, waiting for her to accommodate to him, and she stared up at him, wide-eyed, mouth open in stunned pleasure. It was like he was made for her, she thought, fitting into her so perfectly, every crook of their bodies molded to the other. She ran her hand over the rippling, powerful muscles of his back, digging her nails into his glorious ass, encouraging him to move. He was slow at first, as she knew he would be, and the feeling was incredible, the pleasure overwhelming, her head arching back, body seeking to be closer to him.

She couldn’t stop kissing him, couldn’t stop moving, it was all too much. His pace had been slow to start but she had to have more. They were equals, they always had been, from the moment he’d first cornered her in that alleyway in Vaes Dothrak. With every thrust of his hips to hers, she met him with equal power. The sounds of their coupling filled the large chamber, echoing throughout its high ceilings and open windows. The coil inside of her pulled back again and he rose above her, pressing her harder into the pillows, gripping her thigh and hiking it higher over his hip.

The shift in position seemed to bring him even deeper into her and she could feel him hitting every place inside of her, the drowning sensations almost splitting her into two. “Jon,” she sobbed, wanting to say something, any words choked in her throat, and his pace quickened, grew more erratic. She slipped her fingers between them, brushing over him as he moved inside of her, trying to bring herself quickly to where she knew he already was, but he pressed his thumb between them, before tangling in her hand, forcing it hard against herself.

It sent her over the edge, body bowing and clenching around him, sobbing as fire exploded once again around them, her vision going black, but she couldn’t, no, she had to see, she had to see him…her eyelids flickered, just enough to meet his gaze and she saw it, just like Doreah said ages ago in that tent in the Great Grass Sea.

Love comes in the eyes.

Oh, love.

Their breath tangled together, gasping and heaving, and she felt him move to pull from her, his body tensing and she knew what he intended to do, but she shook her head quickly, wanting him to stay with her, legs snapping around his hips, ankles locking keeping him inside as his hips juddered a few more times before his release hit him, as intense as hers. She smiled, feeling the warmth of his seed spill in her, body quivering as he hit her womb.

She’d explain to him later, seeing the slightly confusion cross his brow. Not now. It is too sad of a story for him now. She kissed him, limp around him, not wanting him to pull from her just yet. Something bigger happened; she didn’t know much about love, but she knew that she loved him. She wanted him with her, damn all costs, and hoped he felt the same. Given how he’d stared at her, how now he clutched her, arms enveloping her in his warmth, she suspected he felt the same.

Another few tears escaped, and she closed her eyes around them, smiling happily, curving against him, knowing she should climb out of the bed and clean up, but she couldn’t be bothered at that moment. It felt too good. They didn’t need to say anything. She was grateful for that, because she really didn’t know what could be said in that moment.

It was perfect.

“Dany,” he began.

“Shh,” she cut him off. She kissed his racing pulse in his neck, nuzzling against him. She moved slightly when he finally pulled out of her, her hips lifting in a move to try to stay close to him. She shook her head. “Not right now. Hold me.”

He smiled, rather loopy, the black of his eyes fading slightly, gray returning as he wrapped an arm over her, kissing along the slim column of her neck, sighing, his breath tickling her hair aside. She smiled, closing her eyes, and slipped easily into sleep, warm and sated…

Loved.

 

 

~/~/~/~

 

She woke to the sound of her dragons crying. 

Or at least, she thought she did, it turned out it was her.

At some point in the night, they'd reached for each other again, unable to keep their hands and mouths off of each other.  She had never felt such completeness in her entire life.  Why would she have, she'd wondered, as he filled her again and again, taking and giving in equal amounts, her entire body feeling as though it were made solely for him and his for her.  He was gentle when she wanted him to be and when she wanted the wolf, he gave her that too, but only after she’d demanded it, wanting him hard and fast, riding him before he’d tossed her onto her back and had his way with her like she demanded.

He used his mouth on her in a way she still could not dream of, bringing her to so much pleasure at one point she’d fallen asleep before he’d even had a chance to finish. She had never dreamed of this, as much as she'd wanted it, she had never expected to find it.  

In her dreams she had a lover, but his face was a shifting shadow.  He was comely and she felt as though he were cool to her touch, as if he were made of ice.  A peculiar dream, she'd had it several times after Viserys had announced that they would marry one day-- if he could not find another use for her of course.  She had thought of the lover when she was awake in the tent after Drogo had his fill of her for the moment, as her body lay aching and bruised and tears fell down her face.  They had become a permanent fixture, her whole being broken, nothing but a bed warmer for the khal while her brother got his army.

The shadow lover was hers and she was only his.  It made sense to her now, as she lay beside Jon, his inky curls tossed over his face, his soft lips slightly parted, breath deep and even while he slept.  She watched him, her fingertip dragging over a scar on his chest.  Jon was her shadow lover.  He was always in the shadows, hiding in plain sight, and from the moment she'd met him, she had felt a connection.  She'd been intrigued by this man and she'd been lucky to have him find her again.  

We were always meant to meet.  The dreams said so.

He was of the North, his skin felt cool to her touch while at the same time it filled her with such warmth.  He was comforting and loving and he would never hurt her, not willingly.  She had been touched by his gentleness.  For someone so rough, so direct, he was so tender and careful.  She smiled, even as the soft cries from her lips that had awoken her faded, her nose wrinkling as she sniffed, realizing he was here with her.  

Her hair tumbled over her shoulders as she sat up slightly, drawing the sheet over her bare breasts, moving so she could prop her head up on her hand, her elbow on the pillow beside his head, watching him sleep.  He was so beautiful, she admired.  He would never hear her say that of course, no doubt it would embarrass him, but his curls were as lush as a maiden's and his lips soft and pink, his lashes thick and dusting his smooth skin.  How he'd been in this heat and sun as long as he had and his skin still maintained its pale iciness, she had no idea.  

There was a scratching at the door, and she smiled, glancing at him one last time, before she climbed from the bed, naked as the day she was born, her feet padding silently on the marble.  She tugged the odor open and Ghost peered up at her.  "Come on in then," she said, allowing him entry.  Ghost nosed at her bare thigh and she giggled, swiping at him.  "Naughty wolf."  He flicked his tail and curled up in his usual spot at the foot of the bed.  

"I confess that was me, not him."

She laughed, turning and seeing his eyes open, propped back slightly on his elbows, sleep still thick in his voice and eyes drowsy, pure liquid desire as he watched her return to the bed.  She crawled on all fours to him, straddling his hips and pinning him back into the mattress, her lips hovering over his.  "Naughty wolf," she repeated, growling and kissing him finally.

He chuckled against her and hugged her close, her skin still dewy from their last round of lovemaking, sticking against his. He tucked a curl behind her ear and she smiled, as he nibbled her lower lip, which she jut out for his taking. “Naughty dragon.”

“Hmm, that thing you did…” She arched a brow, cheeks flushing. “With your mouth?”

“My mouth?”

“On…on me like you did.” She felt the wetness pool again, some still there from earlier, his seed sticky on her thighs. It was a sad reminder to her that even with him spilling in her, there would be no baby. She still had to tell him. He was probably still curious why she’d let him.

He shrugged, his palm cupping her shoulder. “It felt good, didn’t it?”

She smirked. “I’ll let you guess that.”

It was his turn to smirk. “I’ll do it again, as many times as you with, my queen.”

She giggled, falling to the side, her legs tangled in his, peering over to see the beginnings of the sun creeping over the bay. She huffed, hitting her head back onto the pillow they shared. “I do not want to leave this room.”

“Stay here then.”

“I have to be a queen.” It would be lovely, to forget what she was doing. To forget the complaints and the demands and the needs of the cities. She chewed her bottom lip again, a bad habit she’d picked up along with nibbling on her fingernails. “I don’t have the luxury of staying in bed all day.”

He dragged a finger over the hollow of her throat. “Then do not think of what you must do until you must do it.”

Soon Missandei would be knocking on the door, to draw her morning bath and dress her and do her braids. She kissed him quickly, crawling up again and reaching for his hands. “Come, I want to show you something.” She pulled him out of the bed and grabbed a silk robe that was draped over a chair by the door.

He stepped into his breeches and ignored the tunic, following her as she snuck him from one of the back doors of the room, one of the servant entrances, and they laughed against each other, feeling deliciously naughty as she hurried him down corridors and to the room she hoped he had not discovered yet. “Where are we going?” he whispered, only slightly concerned. “Someone could see.”

“Shh, it’s right here.”

She pushed him into the room and closed the door, throwing the bolt so no one would interrupt them. She dropped her robe, pulling him to the large sunken pool of crystal blue water, open arches looking out over the bay. The sunken tub was marble, piped with water from a spring and always cold. “Naughty dragon,” Jon teased again, stepping out of his breeches and jumping into the pool with her. He yelped and she laughed, the cold not affecting her heated skin the way it probably did with him. “Gods! That’s freezing!”

“It’s wonderful.” She liked to float around in it, to relax as much as she could. Not much. The water sluiced through his dark hair as he ran his hands over it and she swam to him, sliding herself around him. Her braids were matted from his tugging and from tossing about on the pillows, the water tangling them further into thick ropes over her shoulders.

The sunlight shimmered atop the pool’s water, filling the room with a dull glow as it rose in the sky. The air was already thick with humidity, but the cold water kept them comfortable. She wanted him to take her against the wall of the pool, but Jon it seemed had a different idea, his arms cocooning her to him, dragging her through the water, floating leisurely.

Her eyes closed, head dropping to his shoulder, and her arms around his neck anchored her to him. He spun her around in the water and she giggled when he flicked some at her nose. She splashed back and reached to pinch his arse, which had him dunking her under the water before she could stop laughing, water choking in her nose and mouth. For that, she dove under to the bottom, trying to tickle his feet, but failed as he grabbed hold of her ankles and flipped her. That earned him a dunk, climbing over his shoulders and pushing him hard beneath the surface, their sputtering laughs and splashes filling the room.

At some point she found herself leaning against his back, his hands fondling her breasts, which bobbed atop the water, their legs tangled as they floated around together. She closed her eyes, sighing. “You should get back to your room,” he whispered, breath tickling her ear. “Someone is going to notice you gone.”

And she would have to go back to her life, where her children were chained like monsters and her most loyal servant having run turncoat from her. Where the people hated her and wanted her dead, where she was struggling, faltering…how can I take back my birthright if I cannot even rule three cities?

“Stay with me for a bit longer,” she whispered. It is too bad we cannot stay here forever.

He nodded; head pressed against hers. “Dany.”

“Hmm?”

“You’re not a monster. You’re good.”

The sob wrenched from her, forcing her eyes shut as she tried not to cry. She turned in his arms and buried her face into the crook of his neck. His strong arms wrapped her tight, sliding over her wet skin, holding her as she hid herself within his embrace. She knew it, of course she did, and her eyes closed tight around building tears. There was no ceremony, no grand gestures, because that was not him. Straight-forward, direct, and honest. It was why she trusted him above anyone.

They said nothing else, just continued to float.

Chapter Text

"How does Missandei do these things?" Jon grumbled, trying to untangle her braids from his fingers, frustrated by the intricate hairstyle her friend had placed her hair the day before, now very tangled from him in the night. She smiled, knowing it annoyed him when he could not get his fingers into her hair, tugging and pulling at it as they struggled to get to each other once they were alone.

It amused her greatly, which was why that morning during her conversation with Missandei, she'd suggested a more complicated style for her braids, little ones looped into bigger ones looped and pinned into a crown. The heat of Meereen and the fact she rarely met with anyone beyond the Great Pyramid did not necessitate or encourage a heavy style, so she'd normally had her long silver curls loose about her shoulders with a few braids pulled back from her face. Jon had clearly gotten too comfortable with it. She liked to keep him on his toes, lest he become complacent.

The worst thing she'd discovered was Jon Snow to have idle hands. He tended to go looking for trouble, to her chagrin, and he'd found it on several occasions, especially of late. She tried not to think about the recent attack on her Unsullied. She blinked through tears, angry that she had not seen a resistance coming. Barristan told her where there is change there is always resistance, but he had not shamed her for not seeing it. She was too busy doing that herself. Jon had gone into the streets to gather more information, but her shadow had been a bit more visible of late and the Sons of the Harpy, as this resistance called themselves, had tried to find him. They'd failed miserably, running off with grievous injuries courtesy of her wolf and his wolf.

Her fingers danced over the white bandage on his arm from one of their spears-- it was just a graze, he said he hardly felt it. She believed him, but that didn't make it hurt her less. "You should stay in the pyramid with me," she said, although she knew it was a joke.

He chuckled, like it was, kissing the top of her head, still trying to undo her braids. "I think not, you need me out there."

The flippant way he said it twisted something in her gut. She knew she needed him out there. He was incredibly valuable to her-- understood Bastard Valyrian, fluent in Dothraki, and would lay down his life for hers.

That was the problem.

She shook her head, but then nodded. "That's the issue Jon. I need you but...you're too visible. The Western Khal, the White Wolf, whatever they call you, they know." Gods only knew how much. She feared they knew what he was to her, that they might try to get to her by hurting him. She turned in his arms, ignoring his frustrated sound that he couldn't untangle her hair, and draped herself over his chest, comforting herself with hearing his heartbeat beneath her cheek.

Every night for a moon they spent together; they were the other half to each other, she thought, tracing the scar around his heart. It looked like it was still fresh, a newly gaping wound. A magical weapon did this. Or perhaps he had been healed by magic. She kissed it, reassuring herself he was in fact real. He was real, he was in her arms, and she would keep going. A dragon plants no trees.

Yet she was planting trees here in Meereen. They were destroying the harpy above her pyramid as they lay there, tangled in each other, and she was struggling to come to terms with her role as the Queen of Meereen, the Queen of Dragon's Bay. The Breaker of Chains. Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea. Mother of Dragons.

Not one of those is true right now.

She had no khalasar. Her people were being put back into chains. Dragon's Bay was on a knife's edge. There were no Seven Kingdoms for her to rule at the moment.

And I have no dragons.

She wanted to visit Rhaegal and Viserion. They had food; Unsullied tossed in carcasses of sheep, goats, and horses that had perished. The dragons never ventured to the light, choosing to scream in the darkness, betrayed and hurt for something their brother had done. Their brother, who by all accounts, was gone. He left me too, like everyone. She closed her eyes tight against the surge of loneliness in her heart.

The arm that tightened around her shoulders was also a warm reminder she was not alone.

Jon Snow was with her; he was her companion, her lover, and her equal. He is mine and I am his. His fingers twisted in her hair, never stopping. She stole a glance up at him, seeing his eyes closed, the thick lashes dusting his cheeks, his curls tangled under his head. He had thrown his free arm up over his head and she reached to lightly trace the curve of his bicep, the hard muscle flexing imperceptibly at her touch. She found another scar, dragging to the top of his shoulder. In the bright morning light she could see evidence of his experience with chains, faint white lines hardly visible to anyone but her, dug into the crease of his wrist, a jagged mark leading along the bone of his forearm.

She frowned. "When you were enslaved, did you think you would ever be free?"

"No. I had an alternative." His words were gravelly, from sleep and emotion. She knew what he meant. He would have killed himself then be taken into chains. She thought of Hizdahr zo Loraq, the request for the fighting pits to be opened again. It was barbaric. Jon would have been tossed into those pits, just a child, to fend for himself while his wolf joined some fat merchant's private collection.

And then I would not have him at all.

She kissed his collarbone, nuzzling into his chest, needing to be as close as possible. "The riots are increasing, the...the resistance or whatever they call themselves..."

"Sons of the Harpy."

"Yes," she murmured. She closed her eyes. "I do not know what to do if someone gets injured. If you or Barristan or Grey Worm or someone is harmed. I fear I should bring fire and blood to them, but I have no fire to provide. No blood left even to give."

"You must answer their perceived justice with your justice." He gazed down at her, gray eyes warm. He sat up slightly, knuckles dragging on her bare back. She shivered. He smiled at her reaction, continuing. "My men don't fight for me because I enslave them or harm them. They are free to leave as they please. They stay because they want to. Sons of the Harpy can go elsewhere. To Volantis or Pentos or Ghiscar...and when someone in my khalasar decides to take it upon themselves and act in a way...not in line with our beliefs...well..."

His voice trailed off and she saw the dark look cross his face. Yes, she agreed. No matter the person, they must be held accountable, as painful as it would be. If an Unsullied or one of her few remaining Dothraki harmed anyone, she would have to punish them. A leader could not ignore the sins of her own supporters just because she happened to agree with them. She frowned. "Your men...where are they?"

"Slaughtering slavers along the coast most like. They'll return when we have need."

"And they'll still fight for you?"

He smirked. "As i said, they fight for me because they want to. They don't want to fight, they can leave."

That was her fear. That Jon's 10,000 strong khalasar would decide not to follow him anymore and she'd lose all of their support. It was 10,000 more than she currently had and the Dothraki were mounted warriors, able to swing their arakhs from above and shoot arrows downward. They were warriors, screamers, and they loved to fight. She would need them. She would need so much more than she already had.

She sighed heavily and he brushed a kiss to the top of her head. "I know you're worried, but they've been with me since I left Bharbo. Since Drogo took over." He scowled, rather dark. "Since I decided I did not want to participate in the Dothraki way."

No, of course he wouldn't. She wondered about his family. News from Westeros took time to get to Meereen. Usually through sailors who made their way around the sea, as it took too long and was too dangerous to traverse the Red Waste. She hoped his brother was safe, hoped his sisters were located and his other brothers survived wherever they were. There would be a time where she would need them, she suspected. The North was the largest kingdom in Westeros. It provided hard fighters and manned the Wall. Her father had done an incredible thing by killing their liege lord and alienating them. So many other kingdoms would ally with the North as they provided the protection needed. The Riverlands and the Vale in particular.

And unlike visenya, I don't have a dragon to give little boys a ride on to secure a kingdom.

There was a loud clatter beyond her chambers. She sat up slowly, brows furrowing. There was a soft knock at the door, Missandei's voice calling out. "Your Grace? Are you ready for your dressing? They are working on bringing down the harpy."

Jon glanced at her. It was no secret he spent his evenings in her bed. She had yet to hear anyone directly complain or confront her on it. Jorah would have been probably the most upset. Jorah isn't here, he betrayed me, she thought darkly, her heart aching at the loss of her longest ally. Her closest ally. Her most deceiving ally.

Thoughts swirled about where he might be now. If he was still going to try to serve her like he claimed or if he had taken his pardon, hurried back to Westeros, and was going to serve those Lannister cunts. She reached behind her, lightly patting Jon's abdomen. "I should get started. As much as I want to stay in bed here with you. Forever."

"One day," he said. He jumped up, already in his breeches from earlier and tugged on his tunic, sweeping at his boots which were knocked at the foot of the bed. She emerged lazily, picking up a robe and calling for Missandei to enter. She smiled at the slight pink that rose up on his cheeks above his beard. He muttered a good morning to Missandei, who only smiled in her soft, knowing way, and hurried out, calling for Ghost to follow him.

Missandei peered over at her, still smiling. "Your Grace, I trust you had a...pleasant evening?"

"Most pleasant," she said, winking at her friend. She stretched, her body in a lovely sore state from Jon's many attentions to it. As much as she loved making love with him, sometimes they just slept together and that was comforting too. She pointed to the mess of her hair. "He's very frustrated by what you've been doing to my hair." Missandei frowned briefly, unsure what to say. Dany grinned, teasing. "Let's see how more frustrated we can make him."

The young woman laughed. "Yes, Your Grace." She moved a chair over so that she could sit and start work on her hair. "Oh, Ser Barristan wanted to speak with you soon, about the riots that are occurring."

"I will see him as soon as I break my fast." She fiddled with a comb on the table in front of her, staring at the engraved dragon in the jade. She frowned, wondering what Jon was going to be doing that day. "How long do you believe it will take for them to remove the harpy?"

"I believe Grey Worm said it should take most of the morning to secure the ropes. It is quite a heavy thing."

"Ugly and heavy...an abomination." It would be destroyed. Burned and melted like it should be. The symbolic destruction of the hold the masters thought they still had. She wondered how it was going in Yunkai. The Second Sons were to return once they secured hold of the city again. She scowled. That meant Daario would return. She made a mental note to think of what to do with him.

First though, she'd see Barristan.

 

~/~/~/~

Jon was sparring with Barristan when he saw her.

She was coming from around the side of the pyramid, hardly any escort, shaking and appeared as though she were going to fall. He sensed something, a moment before, pure rage and anger, and had tried to fight it off, believing it was simply his inner wolf wanting out as he fought with Barristan. Selmy had not gone easy on him and he was sporting a bruised rib as a result. His fault for not wearing the heavy armor the knight tended to wear, but it gave him more flexibility to dodge and parry.

He had faltered at the surge of anger, Barristan taking the opportunity to whack him on the shoulder with the flat of his broadsword. "That was a stupid mistake," he chastised, backing off, frowning. "Are you injured?"

"No," he wheezed, still fighting the dull ache from the bruised rib. He turned, seeing her, and dropped his sword, unable to stop himself as he saw her shoulders slumped, the lack of guard, and the feeling from before. She was coming from the direction of the dragons. Oh gods.

Barristan followed his gaze and sheathed his sword, immediately stepping towards her, but paused when he glanced sideways to Jon. "Go, she needs you," he said.

He hurried towards her, ignoring Daario-- who had returned with the Second Sons the week before-- trying to get to her as well, likely to try to offer comfort. He moved fast, cutting off the sellsword as she entered the pyramid, Grey Worm moving to her. "Dany," he murmured, so only she could hear.

In the dim torchlight of the entryway, he saw the tears on her face. She sobbed, no one there to see her weakness, her humanity. Oh Dany, he thought, arms wrapping her up tight. He moved her to the stairs, turning to Grey Worm, speaking in Valyrian, choppy. "No visitors, no one sees her tonight." Grey Worm nodded smartly, following after them to see his queen to her chambers, satisfied she was under protection.

He was not sure what prompted this break, but he guessed, getting her into her chambers, sitting her in a chair by the open doorways to the main balcony. He poured her a cup of wine, before passing it to her in one hand while with his other he smoothed her braids from her face. Dirt and ash clung to her cheeks, rosy pink from the heat and emotion. She wiped at her nose, lifting her pretty silk skirt up to help stem the flow as she sobbed. She managed to swallow some of the wine in a gulp, at least he hoped to steady her nerves.

"They hate me," she cried.

"The dragons?"

"I went to see them, to check on them...they attacked. They wanted nothing to do with me." She cried, her head dropping to his shoulder. He knelt awkwardly at the side of the chair, trying to provide her comfort physically while also assessing her overall state, a hand on the base of the goblet, to keep her from knocking it over. She clutched his hand with hers, the other going to brush at his cheek. "Jon they wanted to kill me. They've never done that before, as angry as they've been...Drogon was always the one I feared the most. Of all my sons, he was the only one who has made a move on me, but...but I fear I've lost them forever now."

He filled in the blanks, knew that she was scared. Without her dragons, she was nothing, she thought. He did not believe that was true. "You are the last Targaryen," he whispered, taking a hand and trying to hold her face, to smooth away her tears. It ate at him that he could not take her pain into his body. To share some of it so she could sleep and rest and be free of some of her burdens. He shook his head slightly, eyes widening on hers. "That doesn't mean that you are nothing without your dragons. You've survived."

"My dragons are all I have." She spat, venom dripping. "Without them I am nothing. I am no better than Cersei Lannister or whoever is sitting on the Iron Throne. My throne."

"That's not true."

"Tell me how I will get it back then? With what army? My Unsullied are being killed by whores and masters! I have no Dothraki but yours and there are hundreds of thousands of more out there! My dragons are not beasts and yet they reject me as their mother!" She jumped to her feet, storming to the balcony, her hands gripping the stone, shouting. "I am Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, I am the Last Dragon but I have nothing!"

He frowned, following her. She was heaving her breath, hot tears leaking out of the corners of her eyes. The dragon temper was raging, he could sense it. "That's funny."

"What is funny?"

"Everything you said."

She whirled on him, a hand smacking out on his chest, knocking him back a step. She was quite strong for someone so little. The violet burned dark in her irises, giving her the impression that her eyes were on fire. "Oh? I am pleased that I amuse you, Khal Verro."

He smirked; she hadn't referred to him by that name in private since she'd discovered his real name. "It doesn't amuse me." He poked a finger into her chest, hissing. "It offends me."

"Offend you? Well I am so sorry...your grace!" she sneered.

He needed her to be angry. It was the only thing that was keeping her from breaking down, from self-pity. The dragon needed stoking, the fire had to rage. It was the only way Daenerys Stormborn was going to recover from the pain, he thought. He smiled. "It is funny. It is offensive. Everything you said was wrong."

"Excuse me!?"

"Everything you said was wrong!" he shouted.

She let out a cry, frustrated, and pushed her hands on his shoulders, trying to hit him. He dug his heels into the stone, not moving, letting her punch and kick. "It is not wrong!"

"It is! You are a dragon, Dany!" He yanked her around, his hand beneath her chin, thrusting her neck back so she could see where the harpy used to sit, where her banner waved in the night sky. She struggled slightly against him, but he didn't let her go and she gave up, merely a half-hearted effort, her breasts pressing to his arm as she stared. His voice murmured in her ear. "You did that. You took it down. All of them. You freed the Unsullied, you burned the warlocks in Qarth...you walked through fire and you birthed dragons. You are Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen."

She turned her face slightly, eyes downcast. She breathed. "I am Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen."

He darted a kiss to the shell of her ear, his tongue lightly flicking at her earlobe. "And you," he breathed, feeling her melt into his chest. "Are a conqueror."

 

~/~/~/~

Conqueror, that’s what he called her. Like Aegon before her.

"I am a conqueror," she repeated.

“You are a conqueror.”

She said it again. And again. And again. Each time she said it, she pushed at him, knocking him against the stone wall of the pyramid. She snapped her teeth, biting his lower lip hard enough to draw blood. His hands roughly pulled at her dress, but there was no time. Heat coursed through her, a frenzied need to conquer something, to live to her name.

She had to conquer him.

Jon groaned when she bit his lip again and he took his turn, wolf-like snarl curling his upper lip, his gray eyes glinting black in the moonlight. “What do you want?” he growled. His fingers dug into her hips, which she ground against him, eliciting another growl, the wolf inside of him showing.

“You.”

It came on a hiss, a dragon, she idly thought, as she tore at his tunic, the linen ripping straight down the center. Her mouth dragged on his, her hands streaking over his marred chest, angrily pushing at him, her foot pushing between his and her knees knocking against his, kicking his feet from under him so he fell back hard onto the smooth marble floor. She didn’t care, ignoring his hiss of pain, straddling his hips, sending a silent thank you to Missandei for suggesting she wear the dress with a flowing skirt instead of her riding leathers. She reached behind her as her mouth tracked wet and biting on his chest, pulling at the tie of the skirt while his hands yanked at the bodice, her breasts bouncing free, spilling into his hands.

The skirt loosened, enough so she could kick her legs up, Jon pulling it off to toss aside; for all she knew it went straight over the wall of the balcony to flutter like a banner down to the yard below. She didn’t care. The only thought in her mind was that she had to have him inside of her. She did not even need preparation, as much as she wanted his mouth on her, and she gripped him in her hand, hips lifting with little encouragement from him, before she sheathed his hard length in her tight heat, slowly moving to tease him only for a moment, before she braced her hands on his abdomen, rocking a few times, testing him.

His lips were parted, throat bobbing and tightening, eyes black as onyx. In the moonlight it looked as though he had turned into a wolf beneath her, riotous dark curls framing his face, growls slipping from him with each lift of her hips. She smiled, taking him straight to the hilt before she rose almost all the way up and then slammed down onto him. She cried out, neck arching and her hair falling to tickle his thighs as he gripped her hips, one hand slipping between them.

“No,” she gasped, pushing his hand aside. She smiled, sweat shining on her chest from her exertion, hands braced behind her as she rolled her hips against his. “I want just you. I want to come just from you.”

“Fuck Dany.”

I am Daenerys Stormborn. I am a conqueror. I am the blood of the dragon.

So she conquered him. She rode him like a dragon, wailing and sobbing as her body shook from the intensity of the fire building within her. Everything consumed her and by extension consumed him, flames licking at the base of her spine, in her pit of her belly, her moves becoming erratic as she saw nothing but flashing lights behind her closed eyes, his hips snapping to meet her, never letting her stop, even as she stuttered, her breath catching, the wave beginning.

It caught her, dragged her to the bottom of the fire, before rolling over her, roaring in her ears as she cried out from the sensation. She clenched him tight, feeling him twitch inside of her a moment later and his body seizing beneath her, spine arching off the stone as the fire consumed him too.

They weakly continued to thrust against each other, her mind not wanting to stop, wondering if she could keep going, but her body could not move any longer, collapsing onto him in a tangle of sweaty limbs, her hair curtaining around them.

She sought his lips with hers. Finally kissing him, moaning softly into his mouth as he nuzzled against her cheek, his fingers searching aimlessly for hers beside them, before locating them, clasping tight. They lay in a heap for a bit, a bare breeze cooling the sweat on their skin. The evidence of their coupling trickled down her thigh when she stood, but she paid no mind. She entered the chambers, ignoring her clothing on the floor of the balcony and went to the washbasin to clean up.

Jon leaned against the wall, not caring at all about his naked state. “You still haven’t told me why it’s okay for…” He gestured to her as she swiped a wet cloth down her thigh. “For me to…” His cheeks turned pale pink.

She chuckled; he was so uninhibited and then he turned pink when talking about spilling inside of her. The chuckle did not last long, as she dropped the cloth beside the basin, reaching to drag her fingers through the water. She studied the ripples forming, as they started small and spiraled out to nothing. Much like any attempt for her to have a child, she supposed. Something small and then nothing.

“The witch who murdered my husband also murdered my child.”

To his credit, he said nothing.

She continued, not looking at him. “I cannot have another living child, she said. She cursed my womb. Told me that it would never quicken, not until the sun rose in the west and set in the east. I would never bear a living child.” She finally turned. It no longer brought tears to her eyes at the first thought of not having a child, one to grow within her like Rhaego had, to nourish a sweet baby at her breast, and watch a little boy or a little girl grow who was half her blood and half another’s.

“The dragons are your children,” he breathed.

“The dragons are my children and I had to lock them away,” she breathed. She closed herself from the pain. The vicious snaps of Rhaegal and Viserion as she tried to reach for them, wanting their comfort, like they’d given her when they were small, curling against her like cats. She had birthed them and then she’d abandoned them. No wonder they hated her.

He walked over to stand behind her, knuckles lightly scraping down her upper arms. They moved to her forearms and then to her hands, folding them over her empty womb, pressing there. He pressed his lips to the pulse point behind her ear, breath a whisper on her skin. “Do you believe she may not have been the most reliable source of information?”

A laugh bubbled from her. She caught it, her teeth clenching, not finding it funny. Yet, he made it sound so silly. “I have not gotten with child, despite your many times inside of me.”

“Perhaps it just takes time.” He kissed her, turning her face to his, murmuring against her mouth, eyes open on hers. The blackness from before had faded, returning the irises to gray. He was so soft right now, she thought, leaning against his chest. “And perhaps right now the world does not think it is the time, but it will happen when it is right.”

It was nice to think so, she supposed, but she was not so certain. “She knew magic,” she murmured. She closed her eyes tight, trying to forget the hideous witch’s words, laughter, and sheer glee at what she’d done. “I saved her life and she repaid me by murdering Drogo, by killing my son…so I burned her with his body and the blood of them and my son helped birth my dragons.”

Jon frowned into her shoulder. “Fire and blood.”

Her ancestors may have been on to something, she guessed. She reached out, her fingers flicking through a candle beside the wash basin, the heat a pleasant tickle sensation on her skin. “Yes…fire and blood.”

 

~/~/~/~

"I did not mean to interrupt you."

Dany smiled warmly, standing in front of the wall overlooking the city. She had recovered from her pitiful breakdown the night before, knowing Barristan was worried for her, and glad that he had come to check on her. He was such a kind man, she thought, as he stood in the entryway to the balcony. She gestured for him to join her and he stepped out into the harsh sunlight. It was a beautiful day, despite the heat. At least there was a breeze. She shook her head. "You did not interrupt; I was just enjoying a moment."

Barristan smiled. He held a melancholic sadness to him, the way he gazed at her. It was not like Jorah's attentions, which she always felt were more hopeless loving. Or Daario's unbridled and unrequited lust for her. He gazed at her as she wished a father might have looked upon her. She turned, only slightly, fingers digging in the stone. My mad father, she thought darkly. The one Viserys lied to her about for all those years. "Your Grace," he said. "If I may be bold."

She chuckled. "You are Barristan the Bold, are you not?"

It was his turn to chuckle. "Ah well, we do not pick our names, do we? You did not choose Stormborn."

"No, but I am grateful for it."

"I came to speak to you about last night. I wanted to check on you, but I trust Khal Verro was...attentive." He chose his words carefully. She gave him the barest hint of a smile, her eyebrow arching in confirmation. He nodded. "Good. He cares for you a great deal."

"I care for him," she admitted. She could trust Barristan with that information. As if he knew they were speaking of him; perhaps they did, as Ghost was nearby watching, her wolf approached from the entry to her chambers, jogging silently up the short flight of stairs from the doorway. She cocked her head, one of her braids falling over her shoulder, the white cape she wore fluttering as she moved to the table. "I was just talking about you."

Jon glanced between them. "I can go..."

"Please stay," Barristan said, gesturing to him to remain. He nodded to her. "I will see to checking on..."

She interrupted him. "Ser Barristan, please, stay. You have done so much. You need a brief respite." She gazed to the window again, watching the horizon. Sometimes she hoped if she stared long enough she might see Drogon return to her. I hope he is alright. She could feel the angst of her other dragons, their pain and betrayal, but Drogon was a mystery to her. He might have been too far away. She wondered if their connection would still exist if he terrifyingly had passed from the world. She couldn't have that happen.

She moved from the door, seeing Barristan watching her. Jon smiled briefly, moving to pull a chair out for her to sit. "Your Grace, whenever I look at you I am reminded of your brother," the knight said, voice soft, almost reverent.

"Viserys?"

"No, Rhaegar."

It was the second time he had mentioned her long gone brother to her. She saw Jon move slightly to the knight, her hand reaching for him, encouraging him to sit, to join their conversation. There were no secrets between them and Barristan knew it. "Rhaegar," she whispered, leaning on the table, eyes alighting at the name. "You've spoken to me of him before."

"Oh yes, you remind me a great deal of Rhaegar. Rhaegar cared for his people," Barristan said. he looked over to Jon, nodding to him. "I told you of him once."

"My brother said Rhaegar was a great sword-fighter, he should never have been bested at the Trident," she said. She had no idea what Viserys remembered of their brother. Viserys had been so young and Rhaegar so much older, already with his own family, consumed in his world, not Viserys's small, childlike one. She was worried everything Viserys told her of Rhaegar was a lie. That he was a dragon, vicious and bloodthirsty, but weak and dumb for allowing the stag to best him in combat.

Barristan frowned, shaking his head in disagreement. "No, Rhaegar was an excellent swordsman, one of the best in fact. He could...dance with a sword, as it were." To her surprise, Barristan's gaze darted to Jon, his voice quiet. "Your skills with a sword remind me of him, curiously enough."

It was Jon's turn to be surprised. "Oh?"

"Yes. Rhaegar was as light on his feet as you, a sword an extension of his arm." He cocked his head, questioning. "But that could not be that you would know how he fought, as you were born long after he died." There was a higher tone to his final words, as if asking a question.

Dany wondered how long it would be before they would take Barristan into their confidence. She reached her hand over, lightly touching Jon's, silently asking him. Encouraging him, as it were. It was his secret to tell of course. His true identity. Jon dropped his gaze to their hands, before he squeezed lightly. "We have not been entirely truthful with you," she said, glancing to Barristan. "You know Jon is from Westeros."

"The North." Barristan smiled at him. "The bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark, I believe, although you never officially confirmed it."

"Did not think I needed to, you guessed rightfully enough." Jon's smile flirted on his lips. He chuckled. "My name...my real name...Jon."

"Jon Snow," Barristan finished. He shook his head slightly, his voice soft. "I did not go on the search for you, I remained with the king." Jon ducked his head, eyes closing. The knight was quiet again. "Your father asked for help from his friend to find you. Not the king."

She wrinkled her nose, detesting the distinction that he had no name. Only a geographic representation of his noble father's house. "Regardless," she murmured, gazing to Jon, who seemed faraway again. She hated when he retreated into his head. Sometimes she could not drag him out before she lost him for some time. "Perhaps his father should have searched harder. Gone to Essos instead of the wood."

"They wouldn't have known," he whispered. Jon's eyes were closed. "I was in the wood but...Ghost ran to the shore. They might not have known."

"They searched for weeks, your father looked for you, I told you." Barristan stared at him, intensely. He squinted. She wasn't sure what he was looking for. He was scanning Jon's face. He cleared his throat, lifting his chin slightly, returning to his stoic state. "Did your father ever tell you of your mother?"

The jerk of Jon's head almost had her reeling back, it was so sudden. His eyes widened. "My mother?" he whispered. He was almost hopeful. Oh Jon, she thought sadly, reaching for his hand under the table. "Do you know my mother's name?"

He wasn't a khal, he was just a little boy curious at his family. Wanting his mother. She knew what that was like. She squeezed his hand so tight she felt her nails dig into his skin. Barristan understood, his blue eyes shuttering, head barely moving negative. Jon's shoulders slumped in defeat. "I am afraid not, that was the greatest secret of the Seven Kingdoms I fear. The woman Ned Stark abandoned his honor for...not even his lady wife knew." Barristan was still intense. He frowned. "Some believe she was a nobody, a commoner." He shook his head briefly. "I don't believe that."

"Why not?" she asked.

Barristan blinked. "Because, Lord Eddard Stark was the most honorable. I do not know what you know of his brother....Jon." He paused. "Brandon and Lyanna Stark died young. They lived wild, they had the wolf blood. There were rumors..." His eyes darkened further, pain filling his words. "Lady Ashara Dayne loved Ned Stark, but rumors persisted it was Lord Brandon who got her with child...she threw herself from Starfall. no one knew if she had the child or if it died within her." He reached to touch his fingers to his lips, pausing, collecting himself, eyes closed.

He loved her. He loved Ashara Dayne. She glanced at Jon, who was almost desperate. He was vibrating next to her. His fist clenched atop the table, knuckles white. "And my father murdered Lord Brandon Stark," she whispered. She closed her eyes. "And Eddard became the heir."

He nodded, eyes still closed. "Ned Stark was the honorable one. He loved Ashara, it was said, but his brother wanted her. He stepped aside. He was...I met them all at the Tourney of Harranhal." He glanced up again, fully collected, his emotions locked away. "It was where your brother crowned Lyanna Stark over his wife. They said that was the day the smiles died." he chuckled. "And some believe Lyanna Stark fought in that tourney."

"What?" Jon exclaimed.

She smiled. "Really?"

"Yes. I am not familiar with the reasoning, but there was a knight who suddenly appeared, a hedge knight of a family no one knew. Small, mismatched honor...the Knight of the Laughing Tree."

"A heart tree."

She looked over to Jon, unfamiliar with that word. "Heart tree?"

Barristan turned his hand upward, encouraging Jon to explain. He met her eyes. His gray ones were longing, sad. "A heart tree is a weirwood tree with a face carved. The Old Gods of the Forest speak to us, hear us through them. The children of the forest...they carved the faces. The weirwood is white with red sap and red leaves...it looks like they are crying but..." He smiled, that faraway look returning. "They are also laughing."

She had never heard him speak of his religion, of the Old Gods like that before. He looked almost happy. Jon never struck her as very religious, much like herself. He had to survive in himself, not in anyone or any other god. "White with red," she whispered, seeing beyond him to where Ghost sat, the white wolf with his red eyes. She smiled, squeezing his hand again. "Perhaps your Old Gods are still watching you, Jon Snow."

He looked away, composing himself. She hated seeing him lock himself away like that again. It was a defense mechanism, something she did as well. They had to do it. Barristan might know his truth, but that did not mean Jon was comfortable sharing himself like that with the knight. He swallowed, throat constricting. "The Knight of the Laughing Tree was Lyanna Stark?"

"I do not know, but King Aerys was furious when the knight refused to remove their helmet. Sent Rhaegar to find him and Rhaegar only returned with the shield. The following day, he won the tourney and crowned Lyanna Stark." He lifted his bushy white brows. "And several months later, Jon Arryn raised his banners at Robert's demand, to account for the deaths of Rickard and Brandon Stark, after Rhaegar ran off with Lyanna. We were at war." His voice dropped, whispering, reflective. "And nothing was ever the same again."

"Because Rhaegar ran off with Lyanna Stark?" she asked.

"Because Rhaegar likely followed his heart, rather than his head. Your brother was good, he was kind...I mean what I say when I say that you are his sister." Barristan chuckled, propping his head in his hand. "Rhaegar would don regular clothes and take his harp into the streets, sing to the smallfolk. He would take the money he raised and donate it to orphanages, pass it out amongst the people. Rhaegar hated fighting. He did it out of necessity."

She had no idea. "Viserys never told me," she breathed. She wished she had known him. This brother who was good, kind, and who preferred music to fighting. Once again she longed for a life she had never known. A life she might have had, had things been different. She closed her eyes, smiling. "Rhaegar liked to sing?"

"He loved singing. He loved his harp, he loved his people, and he loved his family. He would have loved you," Barristan whispered. He reached across the table and touched her hand, the tips of his fingers rough on her soft skin. She felt quite warm suddenly, one hand in her Queensguard's and another in Jon's. "Rhaegar would have been a fine king, a good and just one, which is why the story the North tells, the story the Baratheon loyalists tell, of a man who kidnapped and raped a woman does not make sense to me." Once again, his look went to Jon, whispering. "Ned Stark was an honorable man. He went south to find his sister and returned with her body and..." he trailed off, forgetting himself. He frowned this time, barely a whisper. "And…a baby boy."

She frowned. Odd of him to mention that. "Yes, Jon was born in Dorne."

"Had my father been Dornish I would be a Sand, not a Snow," Jon mumbled. He rolled his eyes. "You need to know the names, if you plan to take Westeros. The Flowers, Hills, Storms, and Stones of the world...Sands and Snows. Waters I think the Crownlands ones are called."

She sniffed, removing her hand from his, pushing to her feet. "Bastardy will not have a place in my world. Children should not suffer the sins of their fathers." Like me. She wondered if Rhaegar would have felt the same. She wondered about his love for Lyanna Stark. There was something about the Northerners, she thought, her heart aching for her lost friendship and confidence in Jorah Mormont and her newfound…love for Jon Snow.

Because yes it was love. She loved him. She loved him in a way she had not loved Drogo, as she had come to do, to miss him after he died and miss the companionship. She loved him in.a way she did not love Ser Jorah Mormont, who was father and brother to her.

I am in love with Jon Snow.

It shook her. She folded her hands in her lap, retreating from both of her advisers and protectors. She longed to hear more of Rhaegar. “I do not wish to keep you Ser Barristan, but please, I would like to speak more with you of my brother and perhaps…” A tingle of cold went through her nerves, gathering behind her heart. She swallowed, almost bursting into tears at the thought. “And perhaps my mother as well.”

The knight walked around the table and stood before her. She longed to hug him, but was unsure how he would react to such affection from his queen. He bowed his head, hand on his sword, the dutiful knight. “I would like that very much, Your Grace.”

She waited for Barristan to leave; eyes clenching shut to stem tears. The loss hurt so much. Loss of a life she had never known. Loss of her brother and mother. Even loss of Viserys, cruel as he was. Jon came to stand behind her, his palms going to her shoulders, cupping them over the soft material of her cape. “Do you find it odd that he mentioned your mother?” she whispered. She knew Jon would want to comfort her, but she wanted to do the same for him. The shock of such a question, of someone else knowing his full story, it changed the dynamic.

He nodded and then hesitated before shaking his head from side to side. “Ser Barristan is good at his job and is a great knight because he is observant. He knew something was amiss with me. He knew I was Northern, he remembered the search for me…he knows who I am now.”

“Do you worry what he might do?”

“No.” Jon let go of her, walking to stand in the sunlight. It shined off his dark hair, giving him a halo over his head. He leaned on the wall, forearms pressed to the stone, looking down at the crowds below. The never-ending crowds, she thought, that gathered to protest and riot. He sighed. “My father never mentioned my mother. I never thought I could ask him. His wife was cruel to me, I was a reminder of his betrayal. A walking, talking, living and breathing reminder he was unfaithful to her.” He glanced sideways. “You disapprove, I know you do, but in Westeros I was a threat. You see lords could cast aside their trueborn sons, they could petition to name their bastards as heirs. It is rare, but known to happen. In the North…Robb did not look Northern. He did not have the way of him and in a place like the North that is very important. I very well could have usurped her son.”

“It just does not make sense to me.”

“You grew up here, believe me, I understand.” He smiled. “Missandei is from Naath, they do not even have marriage there.”

She shook her head, chuckling, eyebrows lifting, amused. “No, no they do not.”

“I find that might make things quite easy.”

“I believe it does as well.” She leaned her hip to the wall, frowning at the gathering crowds. Something had happened. They were more riotous than normal. “What do you suppose has occurred?”

The screaming erupted, more shouting and cries for the queen, for justice. He straightened, on alert, Ghost immediately appearing. He turned, without a word, going to the door, but Grey Worm was already there, rapid-fire Valyrian, Barristan following after him. Jon could not follow the Valyrian, but she listened intently, eyes wide as Grey Worm explained the situation. A freed slave had murdered a master, the people wanted answers and they wanted justice for him, while at the same time the nobles were screaming for the slave’s head.

She gripped her hands tight in front of her, the cape suddenly feeling like all the weight of the world was on her shoulders, listening intently to the new development.

 

~/~/~/~

“Drogon!”

Dany turned, watching, tears in her eyes as her son flew away from the pyramid, his great black leathery wings beating against the wind, a screech in his throat, flying south. She lifted the fingers that had barely touched him to brush her lips, tears tracking to them. She tasted the salt in the tears, but also the commingled sadness at seeing him depart again and a peculiar pride at how large he’d grown. He had returned to her, after everything that had happened, he had returned to her.

She could feel his heart beating in tandem with hers and sense his confusion at the loss of his brothers. She dreamt of him, could see stone spiral towers covered in moss and overgrown trees and vines, waking sometimes to the taste of ash on her tongue and smell of rotten death in her nostrils. Her skin was hotter than normal, as if she had been in the presence of a volcano or firestorm. She hoped wherever he had gone, Drogon had found what he was looking for, and when he finished, he would come back to her.

As he had done now.

She wondered if he’d been drawn to the smell of the blood that ran in the streets. The riot at Mossador’s execution had been brutal. So many dead, trampled in a stampede and killed as they tried to attack her. Daario had gone to her afterward, tried to convince her about the pits at the same time as Hizdahr made another plea to her to please try to see the side of the Sons of the Harpy, try to understand where they were coming from.

It was the last thing she wanted and yet she feared it was her only choice. She continued to stare, wishing Drogon would return. Her son did not need his mother, but she needed her son. She needed to be a mother. She was mother to the freed slaves and mother to dragons, and yet it seemed at the moment she had the support and love of neither.

“Dany.”

“Drogon was here,” she breathed. She could not even see. Tears flooded her vision. Her hand still shook with the brief touch of his hard scales. They were like iron, hot as the fire churning within him. Dragons were fire made flesh, just like her. “He’s gone now.”

Jon walked out to join her. “Drogon?”

“I don’t know why he returned, but I hope he stays.” She turned to face him, walking into his arms, eyes closing. During the riot he had separated from her, shouting for her to follow Daario and Barristan, as he and Grey Worm fought off the potential assassins. She had worried for him, pacing and fretting in the great hall until he walked through the door, bloody and dirty, but alive.

She’d ordered him to get attention to his wounds, clean up, and report back to her. Where she would kiss him harder than he’d ever been kissed in his life and then smack him for jumping straight into the fray. He infuriated her. So she had done so when he’d returned from cleaning up. To her surprise, he’d left his hair free, no braids or ties keeping it from its natural state, wild around his face.

He bumped his forehead to hers, a sweet, affectionate gesture he did often. She smiled, eyes fluttering shut. “I am glad you are safe, even if you do scare me sometimes.”

“Scare you? You scare me.” There was jest in his words, except she also knew he was probably not joking either. He pressed his cheek to the top of her head. They fit together so well, she thought, her ear in the perfect place for his heart to thud right into her thoughts. They stood in comfortable silence. Until he nudged her back into the room. She looked over her shoulder one last time, but there was no Drogon.

I hope he returns.

They stepped into the solar, when a soft knock came at the door. Missandei entered, skirts in hand, coming around to join them. “Your Grace I am sorry to disturb, but there is someone here requesting an audience with you. She apologizes for the late evening, but it seems…” Her chocolate brown eyes rested on Jon. “It seems she also would like to speak with you, sir.”

“With me?” Jon wondered.

They exchanged a look. Who could want to speak with both of them? Would even know both of them? “Who is it Missandei?” she asked. Someone this late, surely they had a good reason.

“A red priestess of Assh’ai, Your Grace. Her name is Kinvara.”

Dany noticed Jon’s tensing before Missandei, whose brow wrinkled only for a moment at the reaction. She knew that he had spoken to a red priestess, to get information about his family from Westeros. She reached to squeeze his hand, comforting. “We will be there shortly, Missandei, thank you.” She waited for the young woman to depart, before frowning at Jon. “I am sure it is nothing.”

“Kinvara, here at this hour?” He gripped the hilt of his sword, the wolf head barely peeking over his fist. He was scared. It could be nothing, she thought, rubbing his arm in assurance, hoping it was nothing. He closed his eyes tight. “If Robb is dead…”

“He is not.” She had no reason to believe he was alive or not, but she could not allow herself to believe that Robb Stark was dead. For Jon’s sake. She tugged his hand. “Come, let’s see what this Kinvara wants.”

It turned out, the red priestess, a beautiful woman with a pulsing ruby choker on her neck and curious hexagonal patterning similar to the mask Dany had seen on another Assh’ai resident, the shadowbinder Quaithe, was there with news for them both. Kinvara’s bright eyes, shining red in the torches that lined the walls of the hall, danced merrily, no doubt the servant to the Lord of Light excited to be in the presence of the Mother of Dragons, the Unburt herself.

Dany hoped she did not want a demonstration. She did not trust witches or anyone who claimed higher powers, not after what Mirri Maz Durr did to her. She took her usual stance at the base of the steps to her bench, hands folded before her. Missandei did her introductions, listed her titles. The priestess bowed, reverent. “It is an honor to meet the Unburnt,” she said.

“I find I do not understand why you are here, why you wish to speak to me.”

“To you both,” Kinvara said.

The priestess spoke in prophecies, of a Prince Who Was Promised. Missandei corrected the Valyrian. “That noun has no gender in High Valyrian, Your Grace. It could mean Prince or Princess Who Was Promised.”

Regardless, it did not matter to her. “I am afraid I do not put stock in things like prophecies and magic,” Dany said. She arched her brows, cold to the fire priestess. “What can I help you with?”

“I have seen the flames, they speak of prophecies, but also of movement.” Kinvara’s red gaze went to Jon, standing beside her. He had not said a word since they’d entered the room. She smiled, long and slow. “Khal Verro, I am glad to see you found the dragon in the desert.” She did not blink, rather unnerving, Dany thought. “I see more than just a dragon in the desert, Your Grace. The Lord has seen fit to show me a wolf in the desert as well.”

“Khal Verro. Or it could be his wolf,” Dany said, irritated that they had made time for this charlatan. She scowled. “Tell me something that matters, my lady, or I will have you shown out.”

Kinvara was unaffected by the threat. “Wolves move east, scattered to the four corners, but they are coming together again. Two dragons shall meet them, two dragons shall save them.” She glanced to Jon. “A prince shall return, and a queen will rise. These are what the flames show me.” She bowed her head again. “You have the support of the Temple of the Lord of Light, you are the chosen one, Queen Daenerys. House Targaryen will return; you are not the last.”

It was all double-speak, she thought, but she couldn’t help but feel a brief spark inside at the priestess’s final words.

You are not the last.

Her hand lightly touched her stomach. Did she mean a child? No, no of course not, she silently chided herself. Foolish of her to think that. It was only because she’d been thinking of family, speaking of it with Jon, with Barristan, and wondering about her legacy of late. Missing her sons, locked beneath her feet.

“Do you have anything else to say?” she asked.

Kinvara focused her steel gaze on Jon. “The Young Wolf lives. He marches North, to reclaim what was lost.”

“And what was that?” he murmured.

“An icy fortress, flayed by invaders.”

Dany did not understand, she was glad to hear though that Robb Stark still lived. She hoped the priestess was not lying. “If you lie, you will suffer for it,” she warned. The priestess smiled, enigmatic, head bowing again.

Kinvara turned, showing herself out without another word, leaving them in the darkened hall. She dismissed MIssandei, who went off with Grey Worm. A tiny smile tugged on her lips at the development of that relationship, even though her brow remained furrowed, confused by the priestess’s presence. She folded her arms over her chest, wondering.

“Kinvara speaks in riddles, but thus far she has not lied to me, Dany.”

“There’s a first for everything,” she murmured, her distrust of the dark arts blurring her mind. The tongues of Mirri Maz Durr, chanting, the magic she’d performed, it still haunted her. She walked over to a brazier, picked up a hot coal, palmed it and dropped it into the metal with a soft hiss. The flames comforted her. She watched them dance along her ring, her mother’s ring.

Some of the words were easy enough to understand. Jon could be the wolf. She was the dragon. “Wolves moving east,” she murmured. Perhaps it was Jon. Jon was in the East. With her. She lifted her face to his, whispering, earnest. “Please Jon, do not put all your hope in the ramblings of a priestess.”

“She has not lied so far.”

“Hmm.”

The Dothraki dosh khaleen had chanted, had spoken to their gods, had determined that her child was the Stallion that Mounts the World. He’d died, not even a foal born, let alone a stallion. They were wrong. Mirri Maz Durr was wrong. She lied, she betrayed, and she used her magic to murder an innocent. The warlocks used their magic to twist, to deceive, and to try to steal her dragons and lock her away.

Magic brought her dragons to the world again, it flowed in her veins. It allowed Jon Snow to see through his wolf’s eyes and speak to his gods through the heart trees.

It could not be entirely trusted, she thought. She would have to speak more with this Kinvara. Determine what else she saw in her flames. Perhaps this woman was simply mad. Except…she gazed into the fire, as it licked at her hand, like a cat with a bowl of milk. She stared at it, mesmerized, as she always had been. Fire spoke to her. Perhaps is spoke to Kinvara, to the other red priestesses.

“It is just talk Jon Snow,” she breathed. She snapped her fingers, watching sparks fly, as if she’d conjured them herself. He gazed over her shoulder. His breath quickened as she gripped another coal, clenching it in her fist. “Talk of prophecies and nonsense. I do not believe in any gods, light or dark, old or new, for they have never helped me. Not when I was alone, sold, beaten, and defiled…the only thing that saved me stands before you.”

“And that is?” he barely breathed.

She turned, her face alight, violet eyes pure fire.

“Me.”

Chapter Text

Dany believed in no gods, because no gods came to help her when she needed them the most. The only one who ever had helped her, was her, as she had told Jon after Kinvara’s midnight visit to the Pyramid. She understood the basic concepts of the major religions—a queen needed to understand that which her people believed—and yet she followed what all the Targaryens before her had, in private at least.

Like their dragons, Targaryens answered to neither gods nor men.

In spite of these beliefs, in spite of her nose sniffing at the belief that there was something or someone else out there who could control and answer prayers, Dany prayed. She didn’t know to what god, or what faith, or even if any could hear her, if they did exist at all. It was not nighttime, beneath the stars, the way the Dothraki believed the gods looked down on them and blessed them. It was not in a sept, which the majority of her homeland believed was where their Seven heard them. Nor was it before a tree, with the smiling face carved into his bark, as her beloved Jon believed his gods listened to him.

She prayed Drogon could come and destroy them all, in a burst of white-hot flame and mothering heat.

She prayed Grey Worm would recover, so that he might stand with his spear before her, a free man who served her because he wanted to and not because he was forced to.

She prayed the Masters would experience the humiliation and suffering they had wrought upon the thousands at their hands.

She prayed Barristan would awake, to share more stories of her mother and her brother with her, so she could live through his memories instead of the black nothing of hers.

Dany prayed, at their bedsides, ignoring the protests from Daario that it was not queenly. Since when did he ever care about what I did or didn’t do as queenly or not?, she’d wondered. She didn’t care. She didn’t care about anything at the moment other than ensuring the two men who had served her faithfully, by her side as she started with nothing but her small khalasar and her baby dragons, moving from city to city, freeing slaves and conquering as was her bloodright, ensuring that they would awake and survive their injuries.

Injuries she would ensure would be the last they would experience at the hands of the cowardly Sons of the Harpy. They could not even show their faces. Hiding behind gold masks in the image of a creature that only represented hatred and evil and enslavement.

It had been days, but Barristan was still hanging on, fighting for survival against fever and his knife wounds, which one of the healers had informed her narrowly missed vital organs, thanks be to his chainmail. Dany made note to never chide him for his heavy armor again, for it saved his life. He was truly the greatest swordsman in the realm, as he took down several Harpies before falling to his wounds. She would make him a Lord, she didn’t even care, she’d do something to honor him for his service, his willingness to fight and die for her, all because he believed she was good.

She was so tired of death and suffering.

“Dany.”

Her tired eyes blinked, gritty from unshed tears, sweat from the heat of the confinement room, and lack of sleep. She wiped at them, pinching her nose, before she dropped her hands back to her skirts, staring at Barristan’s sleeping form, his chest rising and falling deeply as he fought off fever and pain in his sleep. “I am not leaving,” she said, not even waiting for Jon’s question or request.

He came to stand behind her, hand resting on her shoulder. He squeezed lightly. “You need rest, as does he.”

“A queen does not rest when her subjects are suffering,” she murmured.

“Yes, but a queen must rest when she is dead on her feet.”

“No.”

Thankfully Jon knew when he had lost a battle. He kept his hand on her shoulder. She reached back, lightly squeezing his wrist, grateful for his comfort. His presence had saved her sanity, she was sure of it. She still had not decided what to do with the masters who were overseeing this Sons of Harpy movement. She looked upon Barristan’s face, moving forward in her seat when she noticed his brow furrow, his muscles beginning to twitch with wakefulness. “I’ll get the healer,” Jon whispered.

Barristan mumbled, head turning on his pillow. “Rhaegar.”

It must have been the milk of the poppy, she thought, reaching for the bottle. The healer told her should he wake, he would require some, to assist with his pain. She dabbed some onto a cloth, reaching to drip it to his lips, but the knight pushed at her hand weakly. “It is just milk of the poppy,” she murmured, leaning towards him. “Ser Barristan, it is Daenerys, please, you must rest…you are still healing.”

“Rhaegar…need…” His eyelids flickered, his hand coming up slightly, finger pointing towards Jon. “You.”

Dany glanced over her shoulder to Jon, who frowned, confusion evident. She nodded, getting to her feet. She fussed with the washbasin, wetting another cloth and leaning to wipe at Barristan’s forehead. “It is alright, Ser Barristan, please, just rest, do not try to speak.”

The bold knight of course did not listen, even if she was his queen. He tried to sit up, eyes opening further, hand lifting again, pointing. “Rhaegar…son…you.” He coughed a few times, strength somehow returning to him. He winced, pain evident, but he was more awake than she would have thought someone to be after experiencing the attack he had, knife wounds in his side and his sword arm. He blinked a few times, eyes clear, in spite of his pain. “Your Grace,” he coughed, whispering. “Forgive me…I must…I must tell you…”

“You are quite alright, Ser Barristan, please. Please rest, whatever it is you must say, it can wait.”

“No, it cannot.” He gazed upon Jon again. There was something else, Dany realized, following his line of sight to her khal, standing beside her, as tired as she—for he had not slept while she attended to Barristan and Grey Worm—his hand on the wolf pommel of his sword. “Your Grace.”

Except he was not speaking to her. She frowned; it must be the fever. “Barristan,” she whispered. “Please. Rest.”

“I cannot, Your Grace, not now that I must tell you…” His voice grew stronger with each word, pain clear in the tension of his neck and forehead, but he ignored it. Whatever he had to tell her, he was ignoring his injuries and a command from her to share it. He looked at her, whispering. “Your Grace…your brother…Rhaegar…he had a son.”

It must have been the pain, she thought, glancing up at Jon, who seemed to agree with her. Her wolf sat on the edge of the bed with her, hand still on her shoulder. “Yes,” she said. “He had a son…Aegon…he was killed by the Lannisters.”

“No…there was another.”

Another? “You must be mistaken, the pain…”

“I am finally thinking clearly,” Barristan said. He turned his clear gaze to Jon again. “You look like him.”

What?

She frowned, unsure what was happening, looking to Jon again and then to Barristan. “Jon looks like his father, Lord Eddard Stark,” she supplied, thinking she was being helpful. It must have been the pain. She remembered when she was lying abed, after losing Rhaego, the strange blur of memory and dreams. It must have been that with him.

“No…Rheagar. You look like Rhaegar.”

Somehow everything went blank to her. If she looked back on it, she thought perhaps she had accidentally taken some milk of the poppy herself, except she knew she didn’t. She knew she sat there at Barristan’s beside, as words tumbled from his lips, about how Rhaegar loved his Lady Lyanna and thousands died for it. How Rhaegar Targaryen believed there should be a third dragon, another child, and Princess Elia could not have any more children. How he saw it in Jon’s eyes, but did not realize, in how he handled a horse and fought with a sword. He was not Ned Stark’s son, Barristan said, adamant, his words stronger and stronger, sitting up.

Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark had a child, I believe you are that child, he’d said, bowing his head, fighting the urge to fall back into painless sleep.

Dany could not be sure what happened, how she sat numb, while Jon protested. He spun away, running off, as Barristan fell back into his pillows, unable to sit upright any longer. She tended to her knight and stumbled from his rooms, leaning heavily on the wall beside the door, eyes closed, and her hand pressed hard to her stomach, wanting to be sick.

Rhaegar had another son..

Jon Snow was Rhaegar’s son.

The revelation was only Barristan’s beliefs, only his fever-laden ramblings, perhaps something he had heard once, a rumor in court. As Kingsguard he was privy to all matter of rumblings from the king, queen, and anyone who dared to whisper in their ear. That’s all it was, she thought, choking on her breath, stifled in the humidity of the Meereenese evening, the stress of the past few days, and exhaustion of no sleep.

She stumbled, her Unsullied reaching for her, not speaking but trying to ascertain if she needed assistance. There was no one to call, she thought with a high laugh, tripping her way to her chambers. Grey Worm, Jorah, Barristan…they were all gone. Indisposed, she laughed again, the same high, almost maniacal laugh escaping her lips.

Missandei was with Grey Worm, seeing to his wounds, being at his bedside. She could call her, but what would that do? Take Grey Worm away from someone who could care for him, ensure he was safe and loved when he awoke. What would she even say? That Barristan’s fever-laden ramblings about Jon Snow being the illegitmate son of her older, dead brother meant what exactly?

I’m not alone.

Somehow, she smiled, whispering to the empty room. “I’m not alone.” She laughed again, tears streaming down her face. “I am not the last Targaryen.”

Except it was true.

“He speaks to the dragons,” she said. She was talking to herself, a mad queen perhaps, pacing her rooms, hands on her stomach, pressing tight, forcing herself to breath, lest she fall to the ground and then who would find her? She closed her eyes around her tears, smiling, but were they happy tears or sad, she couldn’t say. Jon could speak to the dragons. The dragons listened to him.

Valyrian blood.

He was magic, just like her. He could see through the eyes of his wolf as she could dream as though she were flying like Drogon. Jon found her, somehow, he found her in her dreams as she lay in the Red Waste, and when she was but a simple khaleesi in the markets of Vaes Dothrak. He had returned to Westeros and who should he come upon but another Targaryen?

They understood each other. More than they should for people who were but strangers the few times they met. All it took was one meeting and they were fated. Targaryens, dragon blood, dragon dreams…whatever you could call it.

“Rhaegar loved his Lady Lyanna and thousands died for it,” she said.

She turned, standing in her chambers, staring straight at the wolf that had entered. Not a sound to be heard under his white paws, despite his massive size, his red eyes boring into her. Whether it was Ghost who gazed upon her or Jon, she couldn’t tell, but she walked to him, her hands outstretched, and knelt before him, hands on either side of his ears, staring into his eyes. In case it was Jon.

A sob escaped her. “Please come back, from wherever you went. It…it could be nothing. Just Barristan’s fever.” Except it wasn’t. She chewed her bottom lip. “If it is true…you will know it in your heart. Only you can know for sure…when he recovers we will speak to him again.” She rubbed at Ghost’s jaw, her lips touching his soft muzzle, breathing.

“We won’t be alone anymore.”

 

~/~/~/~

 

We won’t be alone anymore.

The tears in her eyes hurt him, forced him choking, coughing awake, wrenched unceremoniously from Ghost’s mind. He struggled to breathe, palm pressed against his sternum. It was always like that when he couldn’t come from Ghost in a seamless manner. He pushed up to his feet, stumbling from the hidden alcove in the pyramid where he’d sought safety for his body as his mind traveled with Ghost through the corridors, to find her in her chambers.

He needed air after Barristan’s feverish ramblings. They could have laughed it off, said that was all they were, but he saw the way the knight spoke. This was not a man who would make such statements—tantamount to treason—before his queen without some semblance of belief or proof. He hadn’t wanted to hurt her; her tears and sobs into Ghost’s fur were all he needed to know that he’d wounded her terribly.

Inside Ghost’s mind it was safe; he wasn’t Jon Snow. He wasn’t Khal Verro. He was Ghost. He was a wolf. He was a shadow. He did not have to worry about his people, about wars, battles, court, nothing. He could sleep in the sun, go on a hunt…Ghost’s mind was his sanctuary. It always had been.

He knew full well he couldn’t hide there forever.

What was he to do though?

Everything was a lie.

it was true.

It was all true, everything Barristan said. The questions he’d gotten from the man. The strange looks from Jorah Mormont. Barristan had been on to it for some time. Mentioning Lyanna Stark, after he’d figured Ned was his “father.” The immediate pale on the knight’s face after his swordfighting display. Barristan had known them all. He had witnessed everything, from the beginning at Harranhal to the end in the halls of the Red Keep and the green banks of the Trident.

My father lied to me.

Robb is not my brother.

Lyanna Stark is my mother.

Rhaegar Targaryen is my father.

Daenerys is Rhaegar’s sister.

He felt a surge of realization inside, making its way through his stomach and into his throat, choking him. Dany is my aunt. They were blood related. They were…what they had…

He closed his eyes, burrowing in the alcove, hiding away. Until he couldn’t hide anymore.

He launched himself from his safe spot, striding through the pyramid, ignoring Daario Naharis, who demanded to know where Dany went, why she was upset and not seeing anyone. He was going to kill the sellsword if he stayed in his sights another moment. He knew Ghost would keep her safe, would protect her in the chambers, and he grabbed his horse, throwing himself up onto it without even bothering with a saddle, riding hard and fast out of the pyramid.

The horse rode for forever.

Wind blew back his hair from his face, burned his eyes, and tore at his thin Meereeneese clothes. He had to get as far from there as he could, he had to get to where he felt most at home. Or at least, as close to home as he could find on this continent.

My home for most of my life.

Westeros was a dream to him. It was a place where he was born, where he spent some of his life, but Essos and the Great Grass Sea made him into who he as. A fighter. A leader. A khal.

A dragon.

He drew the horse around as they pulled away from the city. He gazed towards it, the Great Pyramid and the smaller ones just little blocks in the distance. It was getting dark. It was foolish of him to run off like this, but he had to think. He had to process.

I’m not a Stark.

Yes, but he was never a Stark. He was a Snow. He was always a Snow. A bastard, a nothing…

A prince.

He gulped, throat tight, burning from the hot sand and wind. He nudged the horse, turning into the grass sea, making his way, his eyes closing as the horse wandered off, taking the paths it found that were most worn from previous riders. He was tired. His shoulders slumped, his mind hurting from the revalations, the ramifications.

Dany was his aunt, but he couldn’t care about that.

He stumbled from the horse at some point, knowing he had to make a fire, to at least bed down for the night, lest a desert wolf or some other creature find him. Then he’d never get back.

A fire made, he knelt in front of it, watching the flames. He couldn’t touch them, not like Dany. He glanced at his right palm, at smooth skin from a burn he’d sustained when he was in Khal Bharbo’s khalasar. He ran his left thumb over the patch of scarred skin. Maybe he wasn’t a dragon. Except Viserys Targaryen burned too. With a molten crown of gold, he burned, and he was blood of the dragon. Except he wasn’t.

Dany was the dragon.

Dany was the queen.

“I’m not a dragon,” he whispered, staring at the flames. He was Jon Snow. He closed his eyes, sinking into Ghost’s mind for a moment.

She was asleep, lying on the bed, her hand in the wolf’s fur. Her cheeks were stained with tears, eyes swollen and dark-rimmed. Her hair stringy around her face. It appeared as though she had not changed from her gown. Her sandals still on her feet.

As Ghost, he licked her cheek, comforting her.

She mumbled, clutching tighter. “Jon.”

He pulled himself out quickly, realizing that he was not alone anymore in the grass sea.

He stared, at the golden eyes that peered at him through the darkness.

The massive creature crept towards him, head rising up, steam unfurling through his nostrils. The horse whinnied from the tied position behind him, but Jon made no move to go to it. He would be dead before he could untie the poor creature, if that was what the beast wanted.

Drogon stared at him, eyes blinking once, pupils slit. He was bent over slightly, the claws of his wings digging into the dirt and his head cocking a bit as he surveyed him. He had grown significantly since Jon saw him last. He thought of poor Rhaegal and Viserion in the pyramid, punished for their brother’s crimes. “I sympathize,” he whispered. He was punished for his father’s crimes.

Crimes of loving another woman. Of kidnapping her. Depending on who you asked.

Raised a bastard. “Ned lied,” he whispered. He spoke to Drogon. They were magical, the dragons. They were like Ghost. He thought they could understand. They knew things. Sensed things. They were not just beasts; they were Dany’s children. He pushed up to his feet, staring Drogon in one of his yellow eyes. The dragon continued to stare, to listen. He pushed forward. “He lied to me my whole life…what little I had of it there.” Only ten years. He was a child, not even a man, when he’d come over to Essos. When they forced him over. The life he’d had at Winterfell had been nothing…he’d had a bed to sleep in and food in his belly. He’d learned at the same lessons as the future Lord of Winterfell and wielded a sword in the same practices as him too.

Except he was bound for a life of nothing. Here he had become something.

And it was all a lie.

“Your mother,” he whispered, stepping to the dragon, who eyed him warily. His hand lifted, slow, like it had when he’d first touched the dragon, when he’d only been the size of a small horse and not the massive, barn-sized creature he was now. He closed his eyes, fingers brushing the rough, hot scales. Drogon shivered, but allowed him closer. He had to say it out loud. “She’s my aunt.”

The dragon allowed his touch.

Valyrian blood.

Only those with Valyrian blood. Except that wasn’t true. Only those with Targaryen blood. Targaryens were the last remaining of the dragonriders of old. It was a Targaryen who had birthed the dragons again.

He remembered telling Maester Aemon, that sweet, kind old man, who had thought he was the last of his kind as well, that there were dragons again. That the rumors he’d heard were true, she had brought them from stone and they existed once more.

”Maybe I will not be the end of my House,” the old Maester had cried happily, before he passed, his four and one-hundred years on the world finally coming to an end, his watch complete.

Jon had burned him, as Targaryens should be buried. They were fire made flesh, they breathed it, lived it, and they would die with it too. He remembered the feeling of the heat on his face, the sight of the orange flames of the pyre. He had felt a kinship with the Maester. A closeness he had never felt with anyone before. His blood had known.

As Drogon knew too.

The dragon trilled, eyes closing, maw pressing harder into his hand. He was confirming it, Jon thought, lifting his face up to the sky, to the stars shining down. He had never been a Stark, but to know he was a Targaryen? He was not sure what to make of that either. He could warg into a wolf, he was the White Wolf.

What am I?

He closed his eyes hard, fighting tears. His fingers tightened on Drogon’s scales. He gasped. “Who am I?” he whispered.

Drogon eyed him again, this time shifting his head, his mouth opening and an overwhelming wave of heat escaping his throat, breathing heavily. He grumbled, throat warming and glowing. Jon cocked his head, trying to figure out the dragon’s thoughts. He suspected only Dany might be able to do that. He sobbed, almost a laugh. “I love her. I love her, I don’t care…she’s mine.” And I am hers.

He sank into the grass, unable to sleep, mind still racing, trying to figure out what all of this meant. He closed his eyes, the dragon settling down to nest beside him, yellow eyes still open, watching, and waiting.

 

~/~/~/~

 

He found her at the base of the Pyramid, standing before the doors that led to where her sons were kept. It was black as pitch, no stars shining, only two torches lit on either side of the stone door. He came to stand beside her, but she did not look at him, her eyes on the door, and hands at her sides. “You came back,” she whispered, breaking the din. She still did not turn to look at him.

It had been days.

He had to think. Think he had. He nodded. “I am back,” he whispered. He moved closer to her and took one of the torches from the sconces. He swept it over them, casting her face in bright glow. Her marble pale skin shone like the sun, violet eyes indigo like deep lagoons. He moved closer to her, inhaling the lemon scent of her hair, coiled around in a heavy crown at the back of her head, tendrils hanging to near her waist. He did not move to touch her, wanting to see how she felt. She ahd not cast him out, which he supposed was a start. “I had to think.”

“And did you think?”

“I did.”

She finally turned. Her hands were at fists at her side, nails digging into her palms. It was a nervous tic she had, when she was trying to be stoic. To be the Dragon Queen. She tried to smile, her voice cracking. “And you are back now? While you were gone things changed…I had to make decisions…I do not know what to do with them.”

“I heard.” The pits would likely reopen. Hizdahr would get his way. He shifted, whispering. “Will you marry him?” He’d heard those rumors. The smallfolk discussing that there could be a wedding. Their queen and one of their noble masters.  They hoped it would stop the fighting. He was no fool. She would likely need to marry when she got to Westeros. To secure political alliances. He did not expect it so soon though. His heart hurt.

She squinted, mouth falling open slightly, surprised. “You…you do not wish me to marry?”

“No.”

“But…I am…” She trailed off, now curious. She stepped closer, boot heels echoing, almost deafening. Her smile flickered, nervous. He knew why, knew what she was going to say. He leaned in, his nose brushing hers. She smiled, barely. “I could be your blood relation. I know in Westeros…this…this is not common.”

“I do not care.” In the Dothraki it did not matter. Fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, brothers and sisters, those relationships were forbidden. Anything else…he had seen cousins and nephews and nieces and aunts and uncles…it was not uncommon. He wondered how he would feel if he had grown up in Westeros, in the North. He couldn’t bring himself to care. He wanted her to know. To assure her she had nothing to worry about. His eyebrows lifted and he reached for her. He pressed his forehead to hers, hearing her gasp of surprise. He swept his arm around her, still holding the torch, seeing her pupils widen at the rush of feelings. “I don’t care about it at all Dany.”

Tears wavered in the violet. Threatened to spill over as she cried out, sobbing. “I cannot marry Hizdhar…I know it will be..advantageous, but…I can’t marry him.”

His heart thudded, rising into his throat, to escape from him. “Why not?”

“Because,” she murmured, her eyelids dropping, half-lidded with desire. She rubbed her lips to his, barely touching, before she dragged them away. She smiled, sighing, giving in to the feeling, and sagging towards him. “Because I love you Jon.”

He pressed his forehead harder to her, noses brushing, and whispered: “I love you Dany.”

The sounds from inside the pyramid forced them apart, long enough to push the doors open, revealing the two dragons inside. He stood in the entry way with her as the two inside screeched, blowing fire up to illuminate the interior chamber. They were angry, hungry, and vengeful. Not to her though; not to him either. They wanted the blood of the people who would harm their mother.

She gazed into the cavern, standing in his arms, her face hard. The Dragon Queen. “I know what I am going to do to them. The masters. The ones who hurt Barristan and Grey Worm…who did all of this and brought on all this pain.” He didn’t need to ask her what. He already knew. She arched a silver brow, the corner of her lip rising with it. “I will burn them. Like I have my enemies before.”

He did not disagree. He did not find it wrong. Maybe I am a dragon. He squeezed her harder. “You know it is true, Dany.” What Barristan said. He didn’t elaborate. She knew.

And she nodded. “I’m not alone,” she whispered, her palm cupping his cheek, smoothing over his beard. She was elated, the dragons reflecting it as they blew fire up to the ceilings, blackening the stone. “You are the only one in the world who could possibly understand…who could understand what it has been like to believe you were the only one of your kind left.” She closed her eyes, the tears now falling. She rested her head to his shoulder. “You have understood me more than anyone and it all makes sense why. We’re family. You are my family.”

And you are mine. He rested his cheek to her head, his eyes shutting, and he held her even tighter. He moved to kiss her brow. “I am not going anywhere Dany.” He broke away to peer down at her. He took a deep breath. “I thought I needed more than just what Barristan said. More than a feeling. Except it’s true. I suspect I have always known…always known I was not his son…that I was someone else.”

She touched her fingertips to his lips, stilling his words. “You do not need to explain Jon.”

“But I must,” he whispered. He frowned. The anger, the frustration, and the temper…he had always had a temper. He’d always wanted revenge for any perceived slight. He hadn’t minded using his fists to get his way. Didn’t understand when Ned taught patience and respect, especially if he didn’t think the person deserved it. He looked at Rhaegal. The bond he felt with the dragon. The jade beast lowered his head, golden eyes fixed on him, as Drogon’s had been in the grass sea. He looked back down at her, whispering. “When I was younger I had a temper…I used to dream sometimes…I was always different. Not the bastard, someone else entirely. Not Ned’s son either. I know it is true. As you do.”

She nodded, her voice cracking. “And the relation?” she whispered, clearly still worried over it.

“I don’t care,” he repeated. He dropped the torch at their feet, lighting up the entry way, his arms returning to around her, holding her as tight as he dared, their lips crashing together in a needy, heady kiss of teeth and tongues. He swallowed her moans and dove his fingers into her hair, tugging her braids and dragging her closer to him. He had to have every breath of her, every inch of her skin needed to be in his hands, and he tore at her as she did him, both of them entangled together.

They were one, he thought, as the dragons screamed and trumpeted in front of them, fire all but consuming them. He smiled against her lips, feeling her happy tears track on his skin, and her laughs shake her body against him.

We are not alone anymore.

And we never will be again, he thought, kissing her once more.

Chapter Text

The small man who sat on the other side of the table in Dany's private chambers would not stop studying Jon. It was quite irritating. He had said nothing, standing in the receiving hall as Jorah Mormont returned, throwing forth Lord Tyrion Lannister, the heir of Casterly Rock, as some sort of strange apology prize.

He had no idea what the bear knight was expecting Dany to do with such a prize. This was a woman who was doing everything in her physical power to eliminate slavery and servitude of all forms from the world, who would not marry even if it was political advantageous to do so all because she was in love with him, and who refused to accept the Masters as prisoners in order to force more to bend to her will.

And it seemed as if having Tyrion Lannister in her imprisonment would not matter to anyone in Westeros as he was a wanted man. Cersei might trade for him, if only to kill him, but she was not going to trade her crown. He was heir to a castle that by all accounts, as Jon had discovered through various sources, was bankrupt. So much for that Lannister gold.

He wanted Tyrion's head if only because it had been the Lannisters who had orchestrated the death of his father— uncle. He kept correcting himself, as difficult as it was to think of Ned Stark as anything other than his father. He wanted blood for the Stark family, but also for the family he had lost. The brother and sister dead at the feet of Tywin Lannister and for losing the ability to have a family who loved him, a mother and father, and Dany. He could have known her for much longer, could have had her for his whole life.

Instead they studied each other, the wolf surveying the lion and vice versa. Tyrion had attempted to get him to speak, but he remained quiet, if only because he found it bothered the former Hand of the King to a frustrating point, where he got a reaction as Tyrion kept complaining that he was merely talking to himself. "What good are you standing there?" he wondered, drinking his fourth cup of wine. He chuckled, to himself Jon assumed. "Are you just one of her Unsullied that hasn't finished his training yet to look just like the others?"

Perhaps that cracked a smile. He couldn't be sure. It wasn't really that amusing. He glanced at Ghost, who had not stopped glaring at Tyrion. He trusted his wolf's opinion. He remained watchful, while Tyrion made his way through Dany's wine stores, talking to him about nothing and everything.

Until the door banged open. Tyrion jumped, almost spilling wine on himself. He looked over to her, bowing his head. "Your Grace."

"Lord Tyrion," Dany said, voice cool. She glanced at Jon, smiling. "My khal."

Tyrion blinked. "You are a khal?"

"This is Khal Verro," Dany introduced, gesturing towards him. She smiled at Tyrion's stunned expression. "Wipe that look off your face, my lord, for you of all people should understand the importance of not judging by what a person looks like." She formed a fist on the table, voice as hard as steel. Or dragon scales. "So tell me why then, I should have you in my service?"

"Because I hate my sister as much as you do and I want her dead," Tyrion spit out.

Well that was something. He waited, standing at her side, as she listened to Tyrion discuss what had happened, at length, in Westeros. From the beginning to the end. He even hung his head in his hands, admitting that he had been sick at the thought of the honorable Ned Stark dying for a fabricated treason charge, all because his sister had to have a crown. She was good at playing politics, but she could not control her vile son, and she had underestimated the extent to which the North would go for its freedom from the Lannisters.

When he finished, Dany smirked. "I suppose the Starks should have chosen another king then, when they decided to join in the rebellion against my family." She tapped her fingers on the table, glowering. "Or perhaps the Lannisters should have been destroyed a long time ago. I believe that was only just one of the many thousands of mistakes my father made. One I will ensure does not go unmade when I am Queen."

"So will you kill me? Send my head to Cersei?" He glanced to Jon. "will that beast over there do ti?" Ghost grit his teeth, snarling silently. Tyrion frowned, staring at him and then up to Jon, whispering. "White wolf." He stared at him for a long moment, too long, inf act. It was something that he already knew had been determined before Tyrion even spoke.

And something Dany clearly had figured as well. She glanced to him, before returning to her guest, as she had taken to calling the lion. "Khal Verro is no stranger to Westeros. He grew up there. He was enslaved there and brought here. He is the very embodiment of what I want to abolish. People preying upon the weak, wrenching them from their families, and forcing them into lives they did not want." She paused, a muscle in her jaw ticking. Her brows arched. "Khal Verro is also known as Jon Snow. A bastard of the North. Already pre-determined to a fate because his father had an relation out of wedlock. Another aspect of Westeros I intend to change." She smiled. "Just like I intend to change your fate, Lord Tyrion. You would have been murdered, cast into the street, perhaps forced into a mummer's show, because of your stature at birth. You were saved by your highborn blood."

"Such as it is," he snarked. He glanced over again, before smiling, long and slow. "Jon Snow. I heard your name." He chuckled. "Have not heard it in a long time. It came up once. Robert Baratheon mentioned it, when he asked Ned Stark to be his hand. I was considerably drunk of course, so I don't know how I remember it, perhaps because for a king to bring up a bastard to his best friend, at the table, beside his lady wife, I must have thought it worth remembering. Your father grew quite despondent. Said that it was his greatest regret, he did not search harder for you. He wished he could at least have found your wolf, but he supposed not finding your wolf meant you must be alive."

He had no idea why Tyrion was saying these things or of what consequence they were. Other than making him angry. He scowled. He continued to say nothing. Dany scowled. "Jon's father does not matter to this conversation."

"Does he speak or did he lose his tongue as well as his stones?"

He was actually going to answer that, but Dany answered for him, crossing her legs primly and studying her nails, droll. "I can assure you from first-hand experience Lord Tyrion, that Khal Verro is in full possession of his stones, cock, and his tongue." She grinned, long and slow, another brow arching. "As he reminds me quite often."

"Ah, so you are her lover as well as her sworn shield? That's good to know." Tyrion gulped his wine. He laughed. "No wonder Ser Jorah was so upset to see you as close as you were to the queen. Could not shut up about it too."

"There will be no more talk of Ser Jorah, or Jon," Dany snapped. She pushed to her feet, gesturing for Tyrion to rise as well. She folded her hands in front of her. "I still do not know what to do with you Lord Tyrion, but you can keep your head for now. One of my guards will show you to a room. You will be afforded whatever luxury you think you should have while here in Meereen. "

"I am intrigued at how you expect to end slavery in a world where that is all they know; all the people can understand as well." Tyrion paused. "I heard that the other cities are also facing a return to it. Your Second Sons are doing the best they can, but you have turned away your most advantageous attempt by refusing to marry a highborn Master. You could have brought some semblance of peace if they thought they had control." He smiled. "Because sometimes thinking you have control even when you don't is enough. I learned that the hard way."

Jon really wanted to kill him. He had never felt more annoyed and impressed in his entire life. He liked the way the lord snapped about, clearly able to overcome peoples' first impressions of him. He wore it like armor, he noted. He made the first step so the other didn't have to, set the stage as it were. He glanced at Dany, a silence exchange passing between them. It would be worth keeping him around. He could have valuable intelligence on the Red Keep, on how things operated there.

He might know about Robb. Sansa. The rest of them.

She barely nodded her head, returning to Tyrion. "Well you can have time to think on that. I will speak with you tomorrow."

Jon turned, to show Tyrion out, the dwarf cutting in front of him on the way to the steps leading down to the main doors of Dany's chambers. "I feel as though I am on display here at all times, so this should be quite entertaining, this stay in Meereen," he announced.

"Maybe they aren't staring at you because you are a dwarf," he found himself saying. Tyrion whipped his head around, gaping at him. He said nothing for a moment, before walking in front of him and opening the door, gesturing for him to step out. "Maybe they think you are a grumpkin."

Dany watched through the ornate lattice ironwork that blocked off the stairwell and Tyrion stared at him, impassive. He waited a moment but said nothing. Until Tyrion burst into laughter, pointing at him. "You are funny Jon Snow."

"One of my rarer qualities."

He passed off their guest to an Unsullied, inquired as to the welfare of Ser Barristan who was still in recovery, and closed the door, with orders that they not be disturbed, unless of course it was Missandei or Grey Worm. He went back up to join Dany in the bed chamber, where she had sat on the edge of the bed, her shoulders slumped, eyes closed in exhaustion. He shed his weapons, setting them aside and then helped her to her feet, beginning to remove her clothing.

Once he had her completely nude, he shed his clothes and lightly pressed her into the soft silks of the mattress, knowing she needed to forget. To forget whatever she had to do with Tyrion, forget the Masters, and forget Jorah Mormont. She had had to send him away, he knew. Whatever he thought he was going to get, he wouldn't. What Jorah had done was unforgivable to her, he had betrayed her trust and even her love. She had had no one but she had him and he betrayed that.

Until me.

Her fingers tangled in his hair, her nails scraping along his scalp as he lavished love and attention on her, bringing her to the brink and edging away to keep her wanting more. To keep her mind constantly filled with pleasure and love, fogging her vision and rending soft whimpers eventually rising cries. They echoed in the high stone walls, her wails bringing a satisfied smile to his lips as he used his tongue and eventually his fingers to wrench those sounds from her. He could do this forever, he thought, eyes closing as he inhaled the soft musk of her folds, kissing along the velvet skin of her thighs, her toes gripping his shoulders as she wiggled around while he continued to please her.

It felt like hours later, after he'd brought her hurtling to a sky-reaching peak three times, when she spoke again, draped over him, limp and spent. He dragged his fingers along the curve of her shoulder, drawing absent-minded pictures. They hadn't spoken, he was rather proud of himself, for he had made Daenerys Targaryen speechless. An accomplished feat.

"Remind me to repay that at some point, when I can breathe again," she murmured into his chest, kissing his sternum, nibbling a path up to the hollow where his collarbones met. She rumbled a soft chuckle, like one of her dragons. "And we did not even get to you."

He kissed her nose, smiling. "There's still the whole night." He traced the shell of her ear with the tip of his finger, a loose curl escaping from one of her braids. She was a goddess, a living walking and talking goddess, he thought, and he wondered if his Old Gods knew that someone such as her walked among them. If they had granted her to him, whether for apology of what he'd gone through or as true gift. He liked to think of it as the latter. Her eyes shined, violet beacons drawing him closer. He leaned in, touching his forehead to hers, eyes fluttering shut. "I love you Dany."

The emotion choked him, surprising him. He had never felt like th is about anyone in his life. never thought he could. or even was allowed. She smiled against him, whispering. "I love you too Jon." Her fingers found his, clenching. "What do you make of all this? Of Jorah and Tyrion Lannister and...and fighting pits and the like?"

He sighed hard, unsure of it all. There were too many questions. He met her gaze, whispering. "I would never trust the Lannisters, so keep him close, but keep him far." He did not like the idea of the fighting pits, but he supposed if people volunteered...seven hells, there were times where he wanted nothing more than to beat the shit out of people, so he supposed why not, but he saw her fear. A fear that the men fighting were actually not doing it for themselves. "I believe to be a queen you must do things you do not care for, to make a compromise. It differs you from Cersei Lannister. Allow the fighting pits open, provided the men are there by choice and not forced because they are slaves." He cocked his head, twirling a lock of her hair around his finger, shrugging. "I can fight if you want."

She scowled, although her eyes twinkled in amusement. "As your queen, I forbid it."

He smiled, rather cheeky. "And if I refuse?"

"You have too many scars and l like your body the way it is." She slid up over him, straddling his hips, her fingers dancing over the scars along his chest. She reached back and lifted him, notching the tip of him against her folds, still dripping from their lovemaking a moment ago, before she sank atop him, her hips undulating against his, squeezing him tight inside of her, moaning softly. He fit into her absolutely perfectly. They were made for each other, every piece of the one matching with the other, her hands pressing into his hips, gripping him as she rode him, thrusting harder and faster, her breath gasping. "And you would never refuse your queen, would you?"

As his mind filled with other sensations, words leaving him, he closed his eyes and shook his head, a choked laugh leaving his constricting throat as the dragon rose over him. He gripped her thighs, encouraging her. "No, never."

~/~/~/~

"Dany, go!"

She heard the scream, unsure where it came from, her head whipping around to try to focus on what was happening, to process. There were men dying all around her, spears thrown from the Unsullied and the Sons of the Harpy's knives slashing every which way. There was an arrow-- it whizzed far too close to her for comfort. Everyone in the stands screamed, trying to escape the chaos, unsure if they were one of the people the Harpies were targeting or if it was just the queen with her beacon of silver hair and white dress.

The dragon collar around her neck dug into her skin, burning hot and she reached for Missandei's hand, clutching her friend, deciding that if they were both going to die in a fighting pit in a former slave city, they would do so as free women, of their own choice. She glanced sideways, nodding to Missandei and recognizing the same fire and determination in her friend's eyes as one of mutual understanding.

Jorah had killed the Harpy who had been behind her on the dais. Poor Hizdhar was dead, she thought he did not deserve that, but she could don’t think much beyond trying to find a way out of the pit. She turned slightly; a flash of Daario swinging his arakh and almost taking the head of a Harpy clean off. "Go!" he shouted at her, seeing her staring.

And then she turned again, looking up, feeling a peculiar sensation at the sight of Jon spinning with one hand on his arakh and the other on his sword. He dropped the sword, bending almost entirely backwards, as the Harpy he was battling tried to slash at him, the Harpy lunging over him and giving Jon perfect aim to swing his arakh straight through the Harpy's soft underbelly, with barely the blink of an eye. She had not seen him fight; he was magnificent.

Then he seemed to feel the same thing as her, pausing too long, one of the Harpies e managing to get his arm. He barely acknowledged the slash of the knife on his skin, although she saw the blood streak with the sand and dirt. "Jon!" she exclaimed, trying to move towards him, but Missandei held her back.

It was that connection. Their eyes met, understanding, and she immediately closed hers, inhaling deep, allowing it to wash over her. There was a frantic, urgent need, a bloodlust filling her senses. She opened her eyes, as the feeling passed, and saw that Jon was looking up at the sky. She drew her attention aloft as well, and gasped when her child came over the top of the pit, screaming for the blood of the bodies that fell around them.

The size of him had doubled again from the last time she had seen him. He swept around the pit, his presence allowing her men the opportunity to kill more of the Harpies, all of whom were now screaming, scrambling and trying to avoid the dragon while at the same time kill it. They threw spears at him, but they were nothing more than splinters of wood to Drogon, who roared, swinging his great head around.

Grey Worm lunged for Missandei, embracing her and pulling her back, shouting for her, but she couldn't hear him. Not as she moved to her dragon. She had no idea what she was doing. No feeling inside of her other than a prickle along her skin, her body moving of its own accord. It was the same feeling she had when she had been drawn into the fires that birth her children. The same feeling when she knew Jon was around her. She could sense it; their heartbeats, their breathing, and their feelings.

A tug in her mind told her it would be alright. He would not hurt her. She looked over at Jon, who nodded, mouthing the word.

Soves.

Fly.

She grabbed hold of her son's spikes, her foot locking into his shoulder, hauling herself up and over, her knees gripping him as she would her silver. She was a Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea. She was a Targaryen of Old Valyria. A horserider. A dragonrider. She leaned over him, unsure how to get him to go, until she whispered a Dothraki word, forgetting for a moment what to do. No one had ridden a dragon in centuries.

Drogon screamed, his head rearing back and his feet moving beneath him, thundering across the pit, and then she felt the wind rushing over her. she bent atop him, leaning forward, mouth open in almost girlish delight, the people beneath her growing smaller and smaller as her son led her away, his wings beating hard against the stream of wind and clouds over the bay. She made a sound, almost like a laugh, staring ahead at the city beneath her. The Great Pyramid turned into nothing but a child's toy and it seemed as though everything else disappeared with it.

I am flying on a dragon.

Her eyes closed and she tried to direct him, to take her back to the Pyramid, but Drogon did not listen. He kept flying and flying. She swallowed hard, continuing to hold him, the wind beginning to sting her skin and tear at her dress. "Drogon," she murmured. He did not make a sound, continuing to fly. Wherever he was taking her, she didn't know.

How will they find me?

She closed her eyes, frantic, searching for the connection in her mind. The strongest was Drogon, beneath her, but he was not listening. There were two others, writhing around in the dungeons of the Pyramid, furious and refusing to acknowledge her attempts to connect to them. And there was another. She grabbed for it blindly.

It sparked, a fire in her mind, and while she could not see where he was or what he was doing, she knew he was safe. I'm on Drogon, I do not know where I am. Find me. Follow my voice. You always have.

And it came, strong and reverberating inside of her.

And I always will.

~/~/~/~

It took everything in his power not to kill Naharis. He managed to convince the sellsword to stay behind, to keep an eye on Tyrion Lannister, who was losing his mind over what had occurred at the fighting pits. For a Lannister, he seemed oddly surprised that he had been double-crossed. Maybe Lannisters were just used to doing it to others rather than being double-crossed themselves, Jon supposed.

He trusted Barristan and Grey Worm would also keep an eye on Tyrion, who seemed to enjoy messing about in the politics of ruling a city, but Jon did not know how long it was going to last. The Harpies had suffered a major loss in the pit, surprised at the return of Drogon, who had killed a good number of them. They would regroup. The Wise Masters would find a way to take back what they thought they had lost. They clearly were not content to sit aside and allow a true anyway, even if Dany had allowed the pits to be reopened as a gesture of good faith.

Fuck them all, he thought, riding his horse hard through the hills beyond Meereen, in the direction he sensed Drogon had gone. Jorah had demanded to accompany him, and Jon agreed, if only because the knight had been so distraught over the thought of losing her after he'd returned. He knew Jorah was trying to earn his way back into her heart, which Jon could appreciate. Barristan had simply told Jorah that there were things that had changed with respect to his and Dany's relationship. He'd only heard that by slipping into Ghost's skin and standing outside of the corridor when they had been speaking.

"How is it you can sense her?" Jorah had asked, not for the first time. Probably the twentieth since they had left Meereen, a few days before. They were in the grassy hills just outside of the Red Waste, to the north. The knight glared over the top of his horse; they had only taken a break to rest the poor beasts before beginning their tracking journey again. He angrily swiped a brush on his horse's sweaty neck. "You know she came this way? Why? Because a few farmers said they saw the black beast flying overhead?"

He had not answered the first dozen times. He merely just said "Because" to all the others. He sighed, stroking his horse's flank, sensing the poor animal might not be able to go on longer at the pace they were setting, the muscles at their breaking point. He gaze at the soft dirt and grass around them. The wind shifted, causing the grass to move towards him rather than away. A new scent overwhelmed him.

He sniffed.

Fire. Ash. Bones.

He ignored Jorah's shout, hurrying off with Ghost, the wolf already on the smell. He sprinted when he saw the darkened spot of earth, his heart screaming in his chest while his mind reminded him that he would know if the connection had been lost. He knelt before the blackened bones, fingers lightly dusting over them.

There were goats, sheep, a few horses. "Oh gods," Jorah whispered, coming behind him. He knocked him aside, falling to his knees. "Oh...is this...it can't..."

"It isn't her," he whispered. He looked around. Drogon had been there. This was his nest. The grass had been tamped down. He looked around again, frowning at the marks in the dirt. He knelt, fingers reaching to touch the soil. He frowned, moving quickly. Ghost had gone up ahead, a white dot in the distance as he sussed out the scents around them. He followed, beginning to see a pattern, as the dirt grew harder.

He turned in a circle, seeing it in his mind. They circled. They had come up upon her from the east. He pointed, getting his bearings, figuring where he was in Essos. He had never made it this far east before, at least this far north as well. He pointed again, this time to the west, envisioning it. He turned again, Jorah watching him. "Where is she?" the knight demanded.

"They took her that way."

"Who?"

Ghost ran towards him, before opening his mouth, something falling from it. Jon knelt, lifting the small silver ring with the two pearls, twisted together. He closed his eyes, smiling proudly. Smart woman. She was marking her path. She was letting them know this was where she had gone. He knew if they kept walking, they would find she had dropped other pieces of herself behind, leading them.

He nodded, whispering. "Dothraki. The Dothraki took her."

Jorah whipped his head towards him, blue eyes wide. "They will make her part of the dosh khaleen."

"Aye."

"Vaes Dothrak must be three day's ride from here."

"They will have made her walk," he said. The khalasar was huge. He supposed several thousand horses and men. He glanced at Ghost, nodding, their connection unspoken. The wolf turned and took off in the opposite direction. He pocketed the ring, his only piece of Dany at the moment. He nodded towards the direction of Vaes Dothrak. "We must go."

"Where is the wolf going?"

"He is going to get my khalasar."

Jorah stared at him a moment, frowning. "Your khalasar?"

Jon nodded. "Aye, I am a khal." He took a deep breath, beginning to follow the path the Dothraki had left, the path Dany had left before him. His heart thudded in his throat, hoping they did nothing to her until they got to the sacred city, to be judged before all the khals. He called over his shoulder. "And as a khal, I must join them in determining the fate of one of the khal's widows."

"They will let you?" Jorah asked.

He nodded. "They do not agree with my choices, but they agree that I am qoy qoyi of Bharbo. I was one of his Dothrakhqoyi. I command 20,000 men." he sighed hard, closing his eyes again, sending the message.

I'm coming Dany.

~/~/~/~

"Let go of her."

The soft words spoken in Dothraki had her heart leap clear into her throat. She summoned all her strength not to turn, nor to smile. To keep her face as impassive as it had been when Moro threatened to let all his men rape her and then their horses. She had just dropped the news on him that sadly she would never give him sons, for her womb was as barren as a desert. Not until the sun rises in the west and the sets in the east. She knew he was surprised, his fingers slackening on her shoulder.

She eventually turned her head, when Moro grabbed her hair, yanking her around so she could face the newcomer. She grit her teeth against the pain. The pain everywhere. IN her aching, bloody feet, her sun-charred skin, and cracked lips. The pain in her wrists where the rope had rubbed raw marks and around her neck from the silver dragon necklace that had been nothing short of a collar for the Dothraki to lead her about. She tried to lick her lips, to wet them, but her throat was sandy and her eyes gritty.

Still, she could see him.

He had dismounted his horse, approaching the tent, accompanied by two of his riders, all of them with the white fabric in their braids to mark them as a member of Verro's khal. He walked up the steps to the platform, the other khals shouting at him that he was not welcome there, he was not a khal, and he had no right to speak. He ignored them, staring pointedly at Moro. There was no shedding of blood and he had wisely removed his weapons. She wondered where they were.

Or if the other khals were smart enough to realize that Jon Snow was essentially a weapon himself. Not to mention the massive direwolf that joined him.

Moro glared at him, spitting at him. "You dare to give me orders?"

"This is the wife of Khal Drogo, the son of Khal Bharbo, she carried his child Rhaego, the Stallion that Mounts the World," Jon said. He glanced at her, keeping indifferent, a light shrug of his shoulders. "She may call herself a khaleesi or a queen, even without a husband, but she deserves to be judged by the khals." He paused. "For the dosh khaleen."

She tried not to frown, to wonder what in the fuck he was doing. He reached over, knocking Moro's hand aside, before he wrapped her frayed and stringy hair around his fist, yanking her head back, before smiling, rather dark, and tugging her backwards against him roughly. He took his other hand, reaching around to grab at the fabric of her dress over her lower abdomen, fingers digging harshly into the skin. "Besides," he growled, yanking her head back so hard she yelped. He chuckled. "As someone from Westeros, I should have first choice at her, yes?"

They all exchanged confused looks. "You do not take by force," a khal called. "You are not one of us. Not Dothraki."

"Maybe I've changed my mind, she is a Targaryen..." Jon drawled, his hand gripping around her hip. His fingers burned through the thin material of her dress. She tried not to look as though she was kind of enjoying his dark turn. He gashed his teeth, like the wolf he claimed to be, the wolf the other khals believed he was at heart. "I have always wanted to fuck a dragon."

They laughed. "Khal Verro surprises us! He does have a cock!"

"And I want to use it on her," he demanded, glaring at them.

“It is forbidden!” Moro exclaimed, glaring at him. He shouted in Dothraki. “You cannot bed another khal’s wife!”

“Yes, but you just said I am not truly a khal, am I? Cannot have it both ways.” He tugged her backwards. "I will fuck her, maybe. But first, she is judged."

Moro, as something of the leader of the group of khals, nodded, his mind made up. "One of the dosh khaleen will take her to be dressed. Like a proper khaleesi."

Jon smiled, still maintaining his hold. "I'll take her."

"You do not get her until she is judged!" one of them yelled.

He chuckled, leaning around and planting an angry kiss on her lips. She struggled, biting at his lower lip, forcing him to yank his head back, blood marring the skin. He laughed. "A taste of what is to come I hope," he said.

"Fuck you," she yelled, struggling as he pulled her from the tent. "Let me go! I am Daenerys of House Targaryen, I am the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea!"

"You are no one!" Jon yelled, letting go of her and throwing her towards a tent, where a few of the dosh khaleen were waiting. He shouted at them to remain outside, he wanted to inspect her first. The other khals seemed not to be fighting him. Perhaps they were also worried because Ghost had remained in the tent, glaring at all of them with fiery eyes.

The flaps of the tent closed behind him and he immediately pulled her into his arms, her body sagging against him. She grabbed for his shoulders, unable to stand any longer, relief washing over her at his presence. "Shh," she whispered, when she felt him begin to shake under her. "It is alright."

"I am so sorry," he whispered, pulling back to kiss her, far gentler, his touch no longer rough and angry, but soft and cooling on her parched skin. He shook his head, breathing. "I am so sorry I treated you like that..." He was positively shaking, his gray eyes pleading with her, fingers trying to reach any part of her he could touch, to soothe his harsh marks. "I had to make them think..."

There was no one in the world she trusted more. She had known, their connection was too strong. She nodded, kissing him again. "I know, I understand." She smiled again, whispering, eyebrows rising. "You found me." It did not surprise her. Of course he found her. They would always find each other.

He nodded, forehead dropping to hers. "Aye. Jorah Mormont is with me. We can get you out. Not until nightfall."

"No," she murmured. She had been thinking on her way there. On the march, as she lay beneath the stars, as they beat her and defiled her, a queen, made to be a slave to them. She stroked his face, smiling, and her gaze calculating. "No, I have a plan."

~/~/~/~

The khals had not seemed to notice when Jon stood from his position around the fire, slipping outside of the great temple. They were staring at her, too stunned at her speech, at her prowling movements around the dais, where she had been but a girl, eating a stallion's heart and proclaiming her son as the Stallion that Mounts the World. The dosh khaleen had chanted, had accepted her, not only as the wife of Khal Drogo, but had given the blessings upon her. She was a khaleesi.

Now she would be the khaleesi.

The only one, the khal of khals, for she was the only one who could lead them. They would all be her people; they were the only people she knew. The only ones who had accepted her. A terrified girl, beaten and abused, afraid of her shadow, and it had been the Dothraki who helped her see her true nature.

A dragon.

They did not know that Jon had left. He met her gaze, sitting between two of the khals who had threatened her with their arakhs and said they would make her theirs, but they did not look fearsome at all. He had moved backwards and stood slowly. The wolf creepign in the shadows, blending backwards, not one glancing to him as he left, the doors closing behind him without a sound.

And when the braziers fell, her hands gripping the warm steel, not flinching when she flung the coals forward, the wooden platform catching instantly, naught but dry kindling in the heat and sand. They screamed, they ran, like trapped mice, she thought, smiling as they frantically attempted to escape the flames. They pounded on the doors, but it was pointless.

Jon would have shoved a metal rod between the handles, locking them in, and Ghost standing sentry to prevent anyone from attempting to help. Not that it mattered. The bloodriders of the khals and all the members of their khalasar would not go near the burning structure. The wooden beams fell around her as she walked through the flames, her eyes unburning, like the rest of her. She loved the feeling, the light tickle under her feet as she walked over coals. The hiss of the flames licking off the woven dress she wore.

She was Daenerys Targaryen, the dragon, the Unburnt, and she was now the true khal of khals.

They claimed it was Rhaego who was the Stallion Who Mounts the World, but they were wrong. He had been a broken child, the moment he was conceived, never destined to take a breath, dying in her belly at some point in the journey. They mistook him for her. She was the one who would unite them all.

And they were going to give her the Seven Kingdoms.

She stood in the doorway, the inferno behind her, ash streaking her naked skin, chin lifted as she stared down the thousands and thousands of Dothraki who knelt before her. They fell one by one, every single member of every single khalasar. The men, women, and even the children.

In front of her she saw Jorah kneel. He had proven himself to her. Not only bringing her Tyrion Lannister as a spoil of war, but he had followed her here, he had planned to fight for her in the pits, and now he knelt for her in front of the same temple where he had watched her brother die.

And only one stood, walking up to her, gray eyes black as coal in the light of the fire behind her. He smiled, proud, and without blinking, or bowing his head, he fell to his knee in front of her. "Qoi qoyi, Athfiezar ki tih atthirar, tih khaleesi, ajjin ma ayyey ," he breathed, before he bowed his head.

Blood of my blood, love of my life, my queen, now and always, he had told her, and she whispered her response, only he could hear. “Qoi qoyi, tih zasqa ver.

Blood of my blood, my white wolf.

Somewhere she thought she heard a dragon scream.

~/~/~/~

Dany thought everyone should fuck after they took over a 100,000 strong khalasar.

Now she understood why the Dothraki fucked the way they did after a fight. It was truly the only way to celebrate.

She had no idea what possessed her, the moment she walked through the khalasar, all eyes on her, never blinking, until she entered the tent where she had been kept by the other khal widows, dressed and bathed before her pathetic excuse of a sentencing.

The need to get the dirt and ash off of her was paramount in her mind, but she was also...raging. That was the only word for it. She wanted to fly again. To climb atop Drogon and fly for Westeros at that very moment. Her heart raced and her muscles quaked, needing to move. To run across the Grass Sea and swim across the poison water. To walk right up to Cersei Lannister and tear her to pieces with her bare hands. She was invincible.

The tent had flicked open and she'd turned, barely registering Jon stepping inside before she let out an inhuman sound, a roar of desire, and tore at his clothes, teeth snapping against his, battling to dominate and control, to take what was hers with fire and blood. Except this was another dragon and he did not allow anyone to be in control of him either. He almost howled for her, also a wolf, needing his mate, and his fingers bruised at her, pulling her against him as they struggled against each other for more.

Their coupling was intense, the most intense it had ever been, so violent she drew blood from his back, tearing her nails through the skin and blood filled her mouth when he caught her tongue in between his teeth. She did not need any priming, she threw him to the bed and once they had ripped his clothes off she slammed onto him, screaming out as he split her through, her eyes slamming shut and mouth gasping open, sucking as much air as she could. She barely allowed herself time to adjust to him, grinding her hips against his, stimulated from every angle, her breasts bouncing with every slam of her hips to his.

He latched his mouth to her breasts, biting at her nipples, licking and sucking, and his hand wound through her hair, pulling at her braids, revealing her neck for his feasting. They grunted and groaned, turning into the dragons that gave them their blood. They were fire in human form, coiling around each other, unable to breathe, consumed by the inferno between them.

She had no intention of ever stopping. No intention of letting him take any control. Jon had the same thoughts, at one point ripping her off of him and pulling her to his chest, his hand wrapping around her throat, another on her hip as he thrusted into her. She laughed, finding it funny how this was the way she never wanted another man to take her, yet with Jon it ignited something inside of her belly, wanting more and more.

“Harder,” she demanded at one point and he had laughed, pushing her back into the mattress and then into her once more, fucking her into oblivion, where she forgot her name. That was when she’d ripped open his shoulders, she thought.

They exploded almost at the same time. All she could see was fire. Sparks falling like rain around her. She was floating. Flying again, as if she were atop Drogon once more. Their minds were almost connected and she gripped his fingers in hers, hoping he could share the same feeling, the same desire to be free.

At some point they reached for each other once more. She had no idea how many times. Over and over, until she finally fell off of him, boneless, gasping for air. She stared at the roof of the tent, drenched in sweat, dirty and tired, but still willing to go again, if she could bring herself to climb atop him once more. She turned her face towards his and he had a similar, awed look in his eyes. There was a bloody mark on his neck. She touched it, realizing it was from her teeth.

Bruises bloomed over her neck and on her hips from his grip and she noted that he had similar ones on his wrists from where she had wrenched at him, not wanting him to let go of her. She smiled again, rolling her eyes up to him. "You need a bath," she murmured.

"Could say the same for you."

It did not take long; the Dothraki were willing to do anything for her now, the dosh khaleen dragging in a tub and Ornela asking if she needed assistance. She eyed Jon, who was uncharacteristically bold, still lying among the blankets on the mattress, smirking at her. He had only moved to cover himself with a thin fur, Ornela's eyes wide as she tried to focus on something other than Jon's lusty gaze towards the khal of khals. One of the women had provided her a robe; it seemed oddly familiar, she wondered if it was one of hers from before.

"No assistance necessary," she said, thanking the women and waiting for them to depart before she dropped the robe and climbed into the piping water, hissing in happiness as it lapped at her skin, still rosy red from the fire and Jon's intense lovemaking. She scrubbed her arms and lifted her leg up, toes pointed towards him, giving him a nice view as she stroked a sponge over her leg, ensuring she did so in a manner that was teasing.

It did not take long; she had mostly gotten off the soot and grime, before laughing, water splashing up into her face and over the side of the tub as he vaulted in. She squealed, kicking her arms and legs when he grabbed her, yanking her back against his chest. He nipped at her earlobe, grinning. "You're a fucking tease."

"You got half the water on the floor," she chided.

"I do not intend to be in here for too long."

They actually did end up staying in the tub for a bit, scrubbing every bit of each other; he lingered for quite some time on her more sensitive bits. He even ducked his head under, claiming he had to ensure she was clean. She was not sure how he could determine that, but he lifted her hips clear out of the water and verified by using his sweet tongue to lap up everything she had.

As the water cooled, she remained against his chest, their wet fingers sliding together on the edge of the tub. She closed her eyes, inhaling deeply. The oils in the bath were some she had not smelled since she was here, ages and ages ago. It was so hard to believe. She smiled to herself. "Do you realize that this was where we first met? Vaes Dothrak?"

He smiled against her cheek; his fingers moved from where he had been swirling them around her navel, dragging up through the smooth valley of her breasts and gently turned her jaw so she was gazing at him. He gazed into her eyes rather dreamily, nose brushing hers. “Aye…you were so cute.”

“Cute?” she snorted. She had just burned every khal alive and he said she was cute? She arched an eyebrow, lips pursing for a moment as she thought of her response. She smiled again. “I thought you were…interesting.”

“Interesting?”

“Yes, a Western khal with a white wolf, who did not enslave, rape, or pillage? Fasincating.” She smiled again, whispering. “I did not think I would see many from Westeros ever again, least of all calling themselves a khal. You fascinated me Jon Snow and I suppose now we know why.” They looked at their fingers, joined and tangling, just like their hearts and souls.

He kissed her, so softly it broke her heart. She rose over him, clenching her fingers in his, her free hand trembling as she stroked his jaw, thumb brushing over his cheekbone. She smiled against him, when he pushed to stand, her legs snapping around his hips, remaining locked around him as he carried her to the bed, resting her back against the tangle of furs and blankets and pillows.

Her hair, still damp, spilled underneath her head and she closed her eyes, smiling, her arms lifting above her head, and thighs falling open to cradle his body as he began kissing every mark on her, lips featherlight and so sweet. She sighed, reluctantly bringing him up from where he was laving attention on one of the beard burns near her breast. She nuzzled him, whispering. “Love me.”

“I do,” he replied.

She shook her head, turning to her side, bringing him to his, her leg slinging over his, gasping softly as she clutched him, eyes fluttering shut. “Love me Jon, like we should have done here, years ago. You and I, together, the last dragons. We will take back the Seven Kingdoms.”

“Yes,” he murmured.

She closed her eyes, gasping as he began to move against her, painfully slow. “We will cross the sea, we will tear down their castles, and ride our dragons, and you will be my king, and…” She moaned, feeling a shift in the ground beneath them, almost as if the world itself was ending around her.

They lay together after that; the sun was rising beyond the confines of the tent; she could sense it. She closed her eyes, her mind a blank emptiness, only Jon mattered to her int hat moment. She wrapped around him, watching him sleep, his dark curls scattered over his forehead.

The world around her had changed, as if everything had turned on its end. She had thought all was lost, she was never going to find herself, she would never get to go home. She would never be the Queen she was meant to be. Until now. Now everything had flipped. She had everything. She would leave for Meereen tomorrow, take on the Masters with her khalasar. She would free her sons from their prison and then she would sail for Westeros.

It was like the…she frowned, the curse in her mind.

It was as if the sun was rising in the west and setting in the east.

She smiled, kissing over his heart, snuggling closer. His hand fell from her hip, possessively covering her belly. She sighed, drifting to sleep.

Chapter Text

"Go on then."

"What if he doesn't want me to?"

Dany sat atop Drogon, studying the man she considered the smartest, bravest, loyalist, and everything else in the world to her. He shared her blood, her heart, and her mind. Yet sometimes he as a complete mystery to her, prone to doing things she really could not rationalize. He had a death wish most days, happy to run into battle and danger, but now he stood beside Rhaegal, who was staring him down, his frill quivering in excitement. She could feel her son's anticipation, almost a burning need, perhaps a bit of jealousy that he did not have a rider like his brother.

And yet Jon stood in front of him, rather confused— adorably so—over how best to approach the beast with whom he shared the same type of bond she did with Drogon. He had been lightly petting Rhaegal's snout for most of the morning, wandering around him and inspecting his flank and his wings for any injuries incurred during the Battle of Meereen. The Masters had done nothing to her feistiest child, if anything he showed her that of her three sons, he was the shrewdest in battle, diving and avoiding the feeble attempts to take him down.

Viserion watched, his head pillowed on his wings, folded before him, gold eyes unblinking. She felt his melancholy that he did not have a rider, but she knew he would be alright. He was resilient, her sweetest child. He seemed annoyed at his two brothers, both of whom were, if she was not mistaken in reading the bond, appeared to be bragging to him. She chided Drogon with a light little pat on his neck, mentally telling him to knock it off. He rumbled a response.

She sighed, rather amused. "Then I've enjoyed your company Jon Snow."

He scowled up at her. "Enjoyed? That's all?"

"Delighted in it?" She laughed. "Positively will never forget it?" It was all in jest, yet it was still true. She nodded her head to Rhaegal. "You know him better than I can at this point. The bond has been struck." She had no idea if this was how the Targaryens of old did it with their dragons. They used to put eggs in the cradles of their newborns, bonding dragon and child before even the dragon's birth. All she understood was that Drogon's mind was the same as hers, she could feel everything with him. She no longer even needed to speak words out loud, for her already knew what she wanted him to do.

When she approached Jon the previous evening, saying he would ride Rhaegal, he had been hesitant. It would essentially announce to the entire world that there was another Targaryen, that he had the blood of the dragon. She did not care. She was going to conquer the Seven Kingdoms and she would need him at her side. Two dragonriders were better than one, she surmised.

"What about Tyrion or Jorah or what they will say?"

"I do not give a shit about what either of them will say."

Barristan had been listening, before chuckling. "I tend to agree with Her Grace." He had recovered well from his wounds, although to her sadness, as well as his, he may never wield a sword again. He had lost much movement and feeling of his sword arm, one of the healers said there had been too much damage to things called nerves that caused the movement and feeling. He lacked the strength to wield it. He had taken to listening and sitting with her, providing advice. He argued at length with Tyrion Lannister and she found that Ser Barristan was probably the only one in her entire retinue who understood the true politics of Westeros, having stood at the side of kings and princes for his whole life.

She glanced to her knight, smiling and nodding. "Thank you, Ser Barristan."

"Get on the damn dragon, Lord Snow," Barristan ordered.

Jon huffed, walking over and studying Rhaegal's flank and his great claws. Compared to Drogon, he was smaller. She felt pain in her heart; both of her two sons were smaller, having been locked away when they should have been free. She would be making it up to them for the rest of her life. He hooked his foot into a scale and launched up and onto Rhaegal. Rather clumsy, for someone who had been riding horses since they were a child, she laughed. She felt proud, puffing her chest as he sat astride the dragon, knees locking in place.

"What do I hold on to?"

"Whatever you can." She could have told him to grab the spines that were located directly behind the frill, but that would have been too easy. She grinned at Barristan, who was no longer hiding his amusement, outright laughing at the sight.

Jon gripped the spines. "Now what?" he called.

"Say the word."

He barely had uttered Soves when Rhaegal, in happy glee, screeched and took off, beating his wings immediately as he launched to the sky. Jon's screams of surprise filled her with intense joy. She was so fucking happy. She grinned at Barristan, nodding to him, before she nudged Drogon, who took off after his brother, screeching out what she imagined was a brotherly order to wait up!

Viserion pushed from the ground as well, wanting to join in, spiraling around as he caught up to them.

They flew over the city, still burning from the assault a few days prior. She had destroyed the Masters for once and for all. Barristan had essentially negotiated a peace. Tyrion Lannister had some stupid idea to phase out slavery to placate the Masters, but between the Second Sons, her attack and burning of all their ships, and Barristan's maneuvering, there would be no more slavery and the Masters would pay their people, or else they would get another visit from a dragon.

She no longer had the ships required to sail to Westeros, despite the fact she now had three grown dragons, every single Dothraki, Unsullied, and the Second Sons in her service. She controlled three cities, an entire bay, and if she wanted, she could turn her attention to other cities in Essos. Tyrion had tried to convince her to stay, to live her life here in Meereen as the Queen. She could become an Empress in Essos, he argued, if she still felt as though she had to conquer.

That was what Jon told her. On their ride back from Vaes Dothrak, when she had mounted Drogon, her smart son following them. She had screamed for the Dothraki to all be her bloodriders. They would all pledge their lives to her, and they would sail across the poison waters, tear down the stone houses of those who stole from her, and burn them in their iron suits. They would give her the Seven Kingdoms, as Khal Drogo had promised her, and she would be the Stallion who Mounts the World.

Jon told her she was a conqueror; she had the blood of Aegon himself. "We both do," she had told him. "For if I am a conqueror, than so are you."

"I also have the blood of Torrhen Stark, a kneeler."

"He knelt for his people to save them from bloodshed," she had reminded him. "All it means is that you also have his compassion and his empathy."

They flew for what seemed like hours. They wheeled around the sky, the joy of her children flooding her senses. She would never tire of this, there was no way she possibly could. In a place where no one had ever been for a hundred years, atop a dragon, her conqueror’s blood raged, the wind blowing her braids from her face, and soothing her skin. She was a khaleesi and she was a Valyrian of old, the dress she wore over her riding leathers whipping backwards, and her eyes closing to savor the feeling.

Drogon dove for the water, forcing an exclaimed laugh for her as he skimmed atop the waves, the spray of the sea flicking across her face. She pulled him towards the sky again and he beat his wings hard to gain altitude, narrowly avoiding Rhaegal, who had decided to take Jon on a bit of a ride as well, except he decided to splash into the water, soaking Jon from head to toe. She laughed, looking over her shoulder at the speck of her wolf atop the dragon.

They eventually returned to the Pyramid, Drogon landing near the balcony, allowing her to slip easily off him, while Rhaegal kind of just dumped Jon, who tumbled a few times on the stone before falling onto his back, arms and legs splayed out. Rhaegal tittered, a dragon version of a laugh, before he took off, joining Drogon and Viserion again, the three brothers off to hunt.

She could not stop laughing as she came to stand over him, drenched from the sea, and his normally pale features flushed red from the wind and the excitement. She placed her hands on her hips. "So? How was your first time?" she giggled.

He grinned, stupidly up at her, eyes shining so bright it was like two moons beaming at her. "You have completely ruined horses for me."

They stared at each other for a moment. She chuckled, making to go into their chambers, but Jon had other plans, his hand shooting out and grabbing her ankle, pulling and toppling her over onto him. She squealed, his wet clothes soaking into hers. "Jon!"

He spun her onto her back, his hands everywhere as he kissed her. She moaned into his mouth, tongue sweeping against his, licking and nipping. She arched her neck, thrusting up against him, cradling his body in the curve of hers. He broke the kiss, peppering little ones over her cheeks and jaw, before he swept along her neck. She sighed, content, arms around him and stroking over his back beneath his wet tunic.

Until a loud 'ahem' broke the moment.

She arched her head backwards, to stare at Jorah and Missandei, her friend ducking her head, trying not to smile, while Jorah simply looked irritated. Jon looked up, scowling. "Yes?" he asked but made no move to get off of her or help her to her feet.

Jorah sighed, clearly perturbed that he was relegated to role of messenger. "Your Grace, visitors from Westeros have arrived." He glanced to Jon, rather curious. "Perhaps you know them."

Dany turned under Jon, getting up to her feet and dusting off her clothes. She was in no state to receive anyone, so they would need to wait. "Visitors from Westeros?" she echoed. She frowned. "Who?"

"They claim to be the Lord and Lady of Pyke, Your Grace. The Iron Islands." Jorah paused. "Lady Yara Greyjoy and Lord Theon Greyjoy. They claim to ask for your assistance and I believe to offer their services...the Greyjoys are Ironborn, they live on the seas."

She immediately looked to Jon; whose face had gone pale. He turned his head to her, eyes wide. She realized instantly she was not looking at her khal, or her dragon, but at a small boy, who had gotten lost in a forest, who found himself stolen from the only life he knew and thrown into horrors that no one in his world could understand or fathom. It had been fifteen years since he had left Westeros. Yes, he had returned, but she did not think he ever expected to see anyone from his previous life ever again.

Would they recognize him, she wondered. She walked to him, her hands clutching his, whispering. "Jon, do you know them?" Her fingers reached to tuck a lock of hair behind his ear, soothing him as he reached around to grip her, to hold her close, no doubt overcome with emotion. He let go of her without a word, walking quickly by Jorah and Missandei. He disappeared around the corner into the bedchamber, which had become his as well now. She dismissed the knight and her friend, going to join him.

He was changing into clean clothes, angrily shoving his boots back on. "Do you know them?" she repeated.

"I never met his sister," he whispered. He looked up, gray eyes worried through the fridge of his curls falling in his eyes. He swallowed nervously. "Theon Greyjoy was a ward at Winterfell. My father took him to ensure the continued service of his father. Balon Greyjoy decided the Iron Islands needed independence, rebelled. It did not go well."

"Clearly," she murmured. She cocked her head, arms crossed. He seemed eager to see this man, but also worried. He trembled, getting to his feet again. He wiped his hands on his thighs, turning a few times, looking for something. She walked over and picked up his sword where it lay on a table by the door, handing it to him. he accepted it, strapping the weapon around his hips, tugging hard on the strap.

Missandei joined her, helping her into clean clothing and ensuring her hair was not mussed. No sense meeting with potential allies in Westeros looking as if she had tumbled out of a dirt pile. She adjusted the dark gray cowl of the dress she wore, walking out of her rooms and down through the Pyramid to the receiving hall. She ascended the stairs to the bench, sitting primly, while Jon took up his position at her right side and Barristan at her left. Jorah at the foot of the stairs, Daario, and Tyrion Lannister off to the side, curiously watching the door as it swung open.

The siblings entered and the first thing Dany thought was that Ironborn did not seem to be a figure of speech. They looked rough, not just from the long journey to Meereen, but it appeared as though they were accustomed to living in a harsh climate, with little luxury, and from what she remembered of the Iron Islands, that was exactly the place it was. They had no trees, no crops, they raided and reaved, and took what they wanted.

Like the Dothraki.

"You stand in the presence of Daenerys of House Targaryen," Missandei began, reciting all her titles and accomplishments.

The woman gave her an appraising look, Dany felt rather warm under her sweeping cold gaze. "Your Grace," she said, bowing. "I am Yara of House Greyjoy, this is my brother Theon. We come to seek your assistance and off ours in return."

"Lady Yara..." Dany began.

Yara cut her off with a harsh laugh. "Your Grace, forgive me, but I am no Lady. You can refer to me simply as Yara."

I like this woman. She smirked. "Yara, then." She glanced to the man who hung his head slightly beside her. He was the brother. The one Jon knew. She nodded to him. "Lord Theon...I have learned you fostered at Winterfell, is this true?"

Theon lifted his eyes, nodding, and his voice was quiet. "Aye, Your Grace. I did. Lord Eddard was akin a father to me." He paused. It was clear there was grief there. "I know he participated in the rebellion against your House. I wish you to know that I will not..."

She interrupted him, lifting her hand and dismissing it. "Please, Lord Theon, we do not need to discuss the past, although..." She glanced sideways at Jon, who was shaking, his gaze not breaking from Theon, who so far had not noticed. she stood from the bench, walking over and lightly touched his forearm, leaning in, whispering. "You do not have to do this."

"I must," he replied.

The movement to Jon, who had been his ever-silent shadow, caused the visitors to look over at him, seeing him for the first time. On some sort of silent cue, Ghost entered the room, padding over to the bottom of the steps. His presence was what did it. Theon exclaimed in surprised, stepping backwards, his hand going to his mouth. Shocked, he moved towards the wolf. he frowned, staring at him. Ghost sniffed and looked up, doing and saying nothing further. She waited, wondering, and the Ironborn finally tore his faze from the wolf, looking to Jon.

He laughed, crying out. "Jon?"

She smiled, letting go of her wolf, allowing him to walk down the steps, staring at Theon, finally taking him in. An unspoken exchange occurred. whatever had happened between them before Jon had disappeared and whatever was going to happen now, it did not matter, and she smiled warmly when they laughed, embracing.

"I thought you were dead!" Theon exclaimed.

Jon replied. "I was, I think."

Theon stepped backwards, eyes widening, something else clearly occurring to him. He looked immediately to Yara. She was staring in a sort of curious sort of horror. Dany wondered what to make of it. She walked down the steps, joining the group, her hand going into Jon's, touching his elbow lightly with her other. "Perhaps we should continue this discussion in my private solar," she suggested.

"Your Grace," Theon exclaimed. He stared at Jon for a moment and then to her. He glanced askance at Yara, who nodded and then he took a deep breath. "Your Grace, we are not alone. We came to you for assistance in taking back our home from our uncle, but there is more."

She stared for a moment, irritated briefly by the idea tha they had come to her for help but had not been truthful. Her grip tightened on Jon. "And what would that be?" Barristan asked, walking over with Tyrion. Barristan scowled. "You come for Queen Daenerys's help, but you do not feel the need to divulge all your secrets?"

"You best do it now," Tyrion said.

Dany did not know what happened, but Ghost suddenly began to shake. He made a sound, the one he could make, and she thought it was sounded like heartbreak. A strangled whine pulled from deep inside of him. He ran out, even when Jon shouted for him. She felt a cold wash of fear over her; Ghost never ignored Jon.

And then she screamed, because Jon's eyes rolled back into his head, the whites showing, his knees giving out as he fell to the floor. He had never lost control of his warging before, she thought, shaking him, shouting for someone to get help. Barristan knelt and Jorah, trying to get Jon to wake. "He's warging," Theon exclaimed, shaking his head, pushing them away from him. "Don't touch him! Give him space!"

She looked to the other man, Jon's head in her lap. He was not surprised at all to see what was happening to Jon, while everyone around her, including Jorah looked horrified. "You've seen this before?" she demanded.

Theon nodded, laughing slightly. "Aye...all the Starks...the ones with wolves...they can do this."

Jon gasped, choking, then, his eyes returning to gray. He looked at her in horror, grabbing for anything, her hand, her dress, something to hold, to secure. "Dany!" He laughed and she saw there were tears swimming in his eyes. "He's here!"

"Who?" she asked, leaning and kissing him softly, forgetting where they were, the advisers and the Greyjoys staring at the odd sight around them. She stroked his face, whispering. "Who is here Jon?"

He grinned, boyish excitement in his face, and a bit of fear maybe too. "Robb."

"Robb is here."

 

~/~/~/~

 

He had been shocked of course to see Theon. The years had not been kind of the boy he had once known at Winterfell. He looked exhausted, purely from living itself. He wondered what Theon had endured, had seen, in his time from when they had been in White Harbor as teens to now, over a decade later.

It felt like having a piece of his childhood returned to him, even if he had never liked Theon. He had endured countless harassment from the Ironborn, believing he was of higher rank and blood than Jon, a bastard child, and should be afforded more respect than the dark-haired little wolf that got to sit in with the future Lord of Winterfell's lessons and training. He was opening hostile with him most of the time and Jon had been glad to be rid of him when Robb had wanted to go exploring, just the two of them. Theon and Robb were far closer.

And then suddenly it felt like he had been ripped apart from the inside. He had never felt it before. When he was a child, he warged in his sleep. He just thought they were vivid dreams, until he learned to control it. He could go somewhere quiet, where his body could be safe, and slip into Ghost, with just the open and close of his eyes. He had never been forced into Ghost before.

It seemed Ghost wanted him to be there, had ripped at their connection, and before he knew it he felt himself falling, Dany screaming, and he was inside his wolf, running hard, harder than he ever had run before, and there he was, standing in the yard by the main entrance to the Pyramid's grounds.

Grey Wind.

The other wolf was larger than Ghost; he had always been the biggest of the littler. He was missing an eye and had scars across his face and side. Fur no longer grew around his paws and one of his legs, and it looked almost like he had been burned. He had been in battles, countless battles, judging from his appearance, but it was the connection between them. Ghost recognized his brother and Grey Wind recognized him.

Except it wasn't just Grey Wind.

Robb

Jon screamed his brother's name from inside Ghost, running towards the wolf, who rocketed towards him. The massive bodies collided in an almost defeating thud to those around, who had only just gotten used to Ghost's presence, let alone another direwolf. They rolled and tussled, nipping at each other and Grey Wind howling, dancing in place and trying to get Ghost to join. He did, but he wanted him to know that he was here. All Robb had to do was come to the Pyramid, to find him.

And then he was back inside his body, this time of his own accord, staring up at Dany, practically a damn child again. He must have made a sight, falling to the floor like a swooning maid.

Dany ordered the Greyjoys to her solar, accompanied by Barristan. She pointed Tyrion out, scowling at him. "I do not trust you just yet," she said.

He scowled. He had done what he could to get the Masters to back off on their attack of Meereen and he had even freed her dragons from their chains. If he thought that was going to get him a place in her closest circle, he was sorely mistaken. She would not make the mistake she had with Jorah Mormont, trusting him so completely and innocently, to be betrayed at a later date.

They adjourned to the solar, where Barristan poured him an almost overfilling cup of wine. He took it, gulped once, and then glanced at her. He had to go back into Ghost. He had to see for himself if it was true. He shook, wondering, whether he should see his brother for the first time since he was little more than a green boy through the eyes of his wolf, or if he should wait. If he should look upon him as who he was now. Jon Snow.

Jon Targaryen.

He whipped his head to Dany, who glanced to him. They stared at each other a moment. The unspoken words between them, the looks they shared, he knew that Jorah and even Barristan envied them, would love to be able to know what she was thinking in any moment. It would certainly make their lives easier, as her advisers. Except what he shared with Dany was not simply understanding where they stood on certain matters, but a connection of blood, body, and soul. Dragonspeak, she called it one evening. That was one thing they could call it, he supposed.

They needed to get Robb, he told her, with just his eyes. Earnest, pleading, and desperate. He did not know why his brother had journeyed from Westeros to treat with her, or why the Greyjoys had not been forthcoming of it, or even why he was not there as well. He did not care. He just wanted to see him. He wanted to make sure it was real and not some horrible dream.

She barely nodded, understanding what he was trying to convey, turning to the Greyjoys, her chin lifting, a regal tilt to her head. “I would like to know why you did not bring Robb Stark with you when you sought audience with me today.” She did not blink; her voice was as hard as the scales on Drogon’s back. “I do not like it when people keep things from me. It is no way to earn my trust.”

Yara glared at Theon, who ducked his head. “Your Grace, I wanted to bring the Stark heir, but my brother convinced me to wait. To see if you would be willing to assist us before we introduced you to more from Westeros.” She paused, bowing her head in recognition to Dany’s annoyance. “I see that was a mistake, I should have been more forthcoming. The last thing we want you to believe is that we in Westeros are demanding more from you than you are willing to give and for no reason.”

That was something. He glanced at Theon, whispering. “Why is he here?” he murmured. He needed everything. He had to know why.

Theon glanced at Yara, who nodded. Jon was surprised; Theon had never struck him as willing to wait for permission for anything, let alone from his sister. My, times had changed. “I will allow Robb to answer that. It is a…a long story.” He closed his eyes, clearly pained by whatever had occurred. He looked over at Dany, whispering. “Your Grace, we came here so we could make an arrangement. Your assistance in helping us recover our home from our uncle. He murdered our father, took the Salt Throne as his, and has aligned himself with Cersei Lannister.”

“The Iron Islands want their freedom,” Yara said.

Dany pursed her lips. She took a deep breath, blowing it out through her nose. “Bring Robb Stark to me. We will discuss independence and the like later.” She paused, an eyebrow arching. “Because something tells me Robb Stark does not want to talk to me about helping overthrow Cersei Lannister to put just me on a throne.”

He whipped his head to her, unsure what that was supposed to mean. He felt like a child, he was so confused. His head ached from the sudden departure from his body into Ghost’s. He wanted to sleep, but he wanted to leap onto Rhaegal and go find his brother. To run through the streets screaming for him, but he knew he couldn’t. He looked over to Theon, his hands clenched at his sides. He swallowed hard. “The rest?” he murmured. He could hardly think of them as anything other than unknown shapes in his mind. Family he had never met. They were not even his siblings, not really.

Theon whispered. “Robb and Sansa are here.” He clarified, for Dany. “Sansa Stark, the eldest daughter of Lord Eddard Stark.” He returned to Jon. “Bran Stark was last known to be on Bear Island, with House Mormont.” He took a deep breath. “Rickon is…he has been captured.”

Captured?! “Who?” he demanded.

“It is why Robb Stark is here,” Yara said. She sighed. “Arya Stark is missing. No one knows where she is, even to this day.”

Dany stepped over to him, her soft fingers touching his shoulder, stilling him from racing away. “And he came to find me? What? Does he think I have Arya Stark in my pyramid?”

Arya was missing. The youngest sister, he had only brief images of her. A baby, nothing but a little thing in her mother’s arms. He had only held her once, when Catelyn had been away with a maid, the wet nurse sneaking him in, as Catelyn did not want the bastard to touch her precious child. He had only ever interacted with Sansa when she could walk or talk and even then, he had little memory of her, save her red hair and blue eyes. Arya had dark hair, if he remembered right. A Stark child. He felt an immediate connection to her, but not long after that they had gone to White Harbor.

And he never saw her again.

He had to give Yara Greyjoy some credit, she was holding her own against his dragon queen, her smirk not disrespectful, but amused. “Your Grace, I do not know what Robb Stark intends. My brother vouched for him when we took him aboard our ships. I am here only to seek vengeance for my father. I can say the same for my brother as well. We want our islands back, we want our home back, same as you.”

Same as Robb. He knew it in his bones, this was why his brother was here. Cousin. He had to remind himself of that. He was a Targaryen. Not a Stark. Never had been one of them. He glanced at Dany, who was clearly frustrated with this turn of events, her mind racing as she tried to piece together multiple things at once and how she could best address them. Maintaining her control was paramount. He understood it, but he needed to see Robb.

He gazed at her, conveying his need…his want. She barely nodded. Drew her chin up and with a quick glance to Barristan, who nodded, she smiled serenely at the Greyjoys. “You will be my guests here. We will discuss independence after everyone has cleaned up, rested, and been fed.” She turned to Barristan. “Send the Unsullied for Robb Stark.” A command to him now. “Ghost will go with them, so the Starks do not believe they are being threatened.”

Theon looked at him again, barely smiling. “I always knew you were a warg. Took Robb ages to figure out how to control it. Still can’t really do it right.”

“All those stories Old Nan told,” he mused. He had never been close to Theon, but he felt…grateful, he supposed, to see him again. He barely smiled, walking over to the other man, who was war-weary, exhausted, and beaten. “We have much to discuss.”

“Aye,” Theon murmured. He looked at him again, barely acknowledging, before chuckling. “You still look like Jon Snow, but you aren’t Jon Snow anymore. I don’t believe you could be.”

No. “Depends who you ask,” he whispered.

The Greyjoy siblings were led away, leaving behind him, Dany, and Barristan. Dany turned to him, ignoring Barristan, and immediately wrapped her arms around him, comforting. His stomach felt light, jumping in his belly, and his blood rushed, a peculiar feeling over him, like he wanted to run for miles and scream at the top of his lungs. He was going to see his brother again. After so long, I will see him again. I never thought I would. He gripped her so tight he felt her wince a little. “Sorry,” he murmured.

“It is alright.”

She had not been well, he thought, the past few days she had been rather weak, tired, and sometimes ill. She raked her fingers over his hair, kissing him softly. “Wolves in the east,” she murmured, smiling against his mouth. “Like Kinvara said.”

Exactly like she said.

Barristan cleared his throat. “Your Grace, we will have to discuss how best to approach these events. I suggest we meet with Robb Stark first, but as for the Iron Islands…you will need the Greyjoys on your side as they have the ships. The most ships of all the kingdoms. They have never been part of their own kingdom, always under command of the Warden of the West.” He smiled briefly. “I think we can change that.”

She nodded smartly. “Independence in my name. Yara Greyjoy will become my Mistress of Ships.”

“You have thought about this already?”

“You agree?”

He chuckled. “Yes I do. Obviously more to discuss, but the general plan is that.”

“And my brother?” he asked, hopeful.

Dany glanced to him, her fingers dancing out to take his hand, squeezing hard, whispering. “We will find out soon enough, but if he still styles himself King in the North…” She trailed off, leaving it to him, to figure for himself. He knew what she meant. Robb could not be a King when she was the Queen. The North could not be independent.

“I understand.”

Barristan left, to go see to the arrival of his brother. He paced, prowling around the chambers, too excited and nervous to sit. To do anything but let his mind race with thoughts of his brother and of seeing his sister. To possibly see the siblings he had never met before. “He doesn’t know I am alive,” he whispered, his fists clenching and releasing. “He thinks I am dead. Ghost will be the only thing he will see to know.”

Dany sat on the table, her feet on one of the chairs and her hands clasped in front of her, elbows on her knees. She was smiling; this was not the Queen trying to maintain her control, but his Dany, who was excited on behalf of him. “You scared me, you know, when you warged like that. It was so sudden. I thought you had been hurt.”

It pained him to know that he frightened her; Jon never wanted to do anything, conscious or not, that caused her any sort of negative emotion. He felt guilty, even if he knew that was not her intention. “I know, it has never happened like that in a long time.” He went to her, wrapping her tight in his arms once more. He loved her so much. He closed his eyes, chin on her head, whispering. “When I saw Grey Wind…I thought it was a dream.” The wolf was so beaten, torn apart, a testament he supposed to what Robb had been through. He kissed the top of her head, then to the tip of her pert nose, and finally lower, swallowing her soft moan as he brushed his mouth over hers.

They stumbled slightly, Dany slipping from the top of the table, eager to get her hands on him. It was not the time, even if he had energy to burn, and wanted nothing more than to bend her over the table and fuck her into oblivion. He tore himself from her, reluctant, and sensed the same in her, if her frustrated groan was any indication. “Later,” she murmured. She chuckled. “I think I am feeling much better, wanting you such as I do.”

“Have you ever stopped?” he teased.

She wrinkled her nose, but whatever she planned to say, he didn’t know, because Ser Barristan had returned, nodding to them both from the doorway. “Your Grace,” he said to her, before nodding at Jon. He cocked his head, blue eyes twinkling. “Robb Stark, the Lord of Winterfell, is here.”

He gripped her hand, so tight he thought she might crumple under the strain of it, until he realized that it was Dany who was struggling to remain upright, but him.

 

 

~/~/~/~

 

Nothing could have prepared him for many things in his life.

Being kidnapped, sold into slavery, escaping from his bindings, becoming a member of a Dothraki horde, for example. There was the first time he’d killed a man, the satisfaction that he had done so to save another and no regret at the bloodshed, such an odd feeling. Or when he had laid with a woman the first time, a young Westerosi about his age who was visiting Pentos and who had been enamored by him—Drogo had all but forced him to go to her. There was the time he’d killed another Dothraki for attacking a child and had been beaten by one of Bharbo’s men—not for killing the Dothraki but for doing so without letting their khal know.

Or when he set off on his own, when he began gaining followers who respected his strength, and when he sat at his first khalar vezhven. When he heard of this strange pale beauty with “jewel-like” eyes who had been sold to Drogo. Seeing her for the first time, unfamiliar at the emotions that boiled inside of him.

All those wonderful times with Dany, every single first. First kiss, first time they made love, the first time he touched a dragon…nothing had prepared him, and he thought he knew what those feelings were.

Until he realized he had no real idea what it was like to face his brother—cousin—for the first time in over a decade. He had thought of it of course, lying there on the ship believing it was all a nightmare from which he’d awake. Or those early days with Bharbo, the Dothraki wives feeding him and doting on him like he was a strange pet. He had long given up ever seeing anyone in his family again, even when he’d gone to Westeros. It had been the gods who had him cross paths with Aemon Targaryen, who gifted him with the sword Dany called Wolf’s Bite—he’d discovered after Jorah Mormont’s return it was called Longclaw, the ancestral sword of House Mormont, and belonged to his father the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.

He gripped the wolf pommel of the sword, for support and out of nerves he rarely ever felt. He was not prepared for this ever. He had thought if he saw Robb again he would run into his arms and hug him and fall at his feet. He had thought maybe he’d run a knife in his gut for running off into the woods that awful day. Or maybe he would do nothing. In his mind, Robb was still a green boy, with a mop of auburn curls and mischievous eyes, who was always getting into trouble but somehow coming out alright in the end.

So when he stepped into the receiving room, at Dany’s side, he was not prepared for what he saw.

The man who stood at the base of the steps leading to Dany’s Ibben bench was nothing like the boy he had chased into the woods that cold, fateful day outside of White Harbor. This man stood with a pole up his back almost, the way he carried himself. Except his shoulders were slouched and his hand on the hilt of his sword held it as tight as Jon held Longclaw. His auburn curls were gone; his hair looked black in the dying light from the windows along the ceiling and the dim torches in the marbled space. He had a thick beard and he wore a patch over his left eye. Jon could see a drooping scar creeping beneath the patch along his cheekbone. His right eye was not twinkling blue but appeared sad and defeated. It reminded him briefly of Ned.

The woman beside Robb was almost taller than him; she was severe, sharp cheekbones that could cut glass and cold blue eyes. Her hair was the color of fire and pulled from her face in tight tiny braids that Jon remembered was a style in the North. She wore a dress that appeared to be almost like gray armor and her hands were clasped in front of her like a septa might hold themselves. He thought for a brief moment the sour look on her face was that of Catelyn Stark. Except Catelyn Stark was dead, he had to remind himself. This must be Sansa, who was but a tiny girl when he disappeared.

Missandei announced Dany, who approached slowly. He followed, unable to tear his eyes away. Dany nodded to them. “Lord Stark,” she greeted.

“He is not a lord, he is the King in the North,” the redhead snapped, a sour pull to her lips. Yes, this is definitely Catelyn’s daughter.

Robb glanced darkly to her, before he put a smile to his lips, bowing his head to Dany, and gently taking her hand, kissing her knuckles and the dragon ring on her right index finger. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Your Grace, we have traveled long and far to see you.” He hesitated. “I…forgive me, your men…before they came we…”

Ghost trotted into the room, as if to finish Robb’s statement or question. Robb followed the wolf’s path, as his companion joined him at his side. He stared, finally seeing his brother for the first time. Robb gasped, almost a choke, and let go of his sword, his hands falling to his sides as he lunged forward.

He closed his eyes, arms going around his brother. He held on for dear life, in case he would disappear again. “It is you,” Robb cried, unashamed at the tears that were falling. He laughed. “Fuck, I thought I had seen a ghost and then…it was him.”

“Aye,” was the only word he could come up with, he was so stunned.

Until he broke away, realizing he was also crying, his voice choking. “You got shorter,” he laughed.

“You somehow got a little taller,” Robb teased back. He shook his head, staring at him, taking him in, mouth falling in shock at the look. “Gods Jon…what happened…we heard things…people saying you were…” He frowned, brow wrinkling. “Dothraki? Others said you were practically a prince.”

A little more than a prince, if you could believe that, he thought, glancing at Dany, who was smiling, unable to stop the emotions on her face. He ducked his head, before looking back to his brother. He frowned, fingers coming up to lightly touch at the path that covered his brother’s eye.

Robb rolled the remaining one. “Lannisters,” he grunted. He touched his side. “Took pieces of me every chance they could get.”

“How did you survive the…” He was not sure if he should refer to it as the others had, or as it had been discussed in the missives Dany had received from Westeros. They called it the Red Wedding. He cleared his throat. “The Frey betrayal?”

Robb’s face twisted in agony. “They killed my wife, my unborn child,” he rasped. He touched his side again, gripping. “Barely survived. I still do not understand…I think it might have been Arya…it is a long story.”

“Perhaps one we should discuss over food,” Dany said, piping up. She stepped towards him, reaching for his hand again, this time embracing it in both of hers. She turned to look at Sansa, who had not said a word, too busy observing the interaction. If she was anything like Catelyn, she was filing it away for how she might be able to use it later, he suspected. Dany squeezed Robb’s hand. “You have traveled far and long, you require proper sustenance, rest, and hot baths. You are my guests, as are the Greyjoys.”

Robb glanced at him, frowning briefly again, likely trying to confirm the goodwill. He nodded, before going to Dany, smiling down at her and wrapping his arm around her tiny frame, tugging her to him. “You are both welcome here. You’re my family.” He looked at Dany, whispering. “As is the queen.”

That got a strange look from the Starks. Sansa cleared her throat. “Thank you Lord…”

“I am not a Lord,” he muttered. He smiled vaguely at her, whispering. “You were so small when I saw you last.”

“Father never spoke of you, but Robb did,” Sansa said. She looked embarrassed. “I thought you a myth for a very long time.”

“I think of myself that way too.”

Dany patted his chest, whispering. “You are not a myth, issa daria.

If Robb or Sansa understood Valyrian, they did not show it, which he was glad. He did not know if he wanted them to know about his royal blood just yet. Or their father’s lifelong betrayal, keeping him secret, even from their mother. He gripped her side, looking at Robb again, curious. They did need to get cleaned up, to rest and recuperate before it was time to speak. “Why have you come?” he asked, unable to stop himself.

Barristan and Missandei looked interested as well. He noted that Tyrion was not in the room, for which he was grateful. Sansa stepped forward, joining Robb at his side. He took her hand, squeezing hard. A look crossed Sansa’s face, a dark shadow dropping like a curtain over her eyes, haunted and vacant. Robb was pained. It was Dany who seemed to recognize it and she moved forward, lightly touching the young woman’s folded hands, forcing a start from her. “You do not need to speak about it, until you are ready,” she whispered. She narrowed her eyes. “Although some demons can only be banished by speaking their foul names and deeds aloud.” A wry smile tugged on her lips. “I know. I have been there.”

The ripple through the two women hit him, understanding. He felt ill, his stomach twisting. It got worse, as Robb spoke, telling them in brief terms about the Bolton’s betrayal with the Lannisters, the death of his mother, wife, and unborn child, as well as numerous members of their forces. The alliance of remaining Northern houses with the Boltons, some for survival alone, but they had worked to get a small following. They needed more help. They had to take back Winterfell, take back the North, and get revenge for what had happened to his sister. Her forced marriage to the vicious Ramsay Bolton. Robb had been at the Wall, had amassed what remained of a dead Stannis Baratheon’s forces and a large portion of wildings he had befriended, who had helped his brothers in their escape.

He said that it was a knight in service to his mother, a female knight who was currently outside with one of Stannis’s men, a smuggler who had helped them get to Meereen, who assisted in freeing Sansa. “Along with Theon,” Robb said.

“Theon?” he exclaimed.

“Long story,” Robb said.

There was no shortage of those, Jon figured. He listened, like Dany, who as she had with the Greyjoys, gave no indication on her face or in her reactions to what she thought of Robb’s story. She eventually nodded, when he finally admitted they were there for her help. “For your men and your dragons, to help us. It is the only way we can rid the North of the foul Boltons and Lannisters,” he said.

“You came for my assistance,” she confirmed. She smirked. “And you still style yourself King in the North?”

Sansa snapped. “The North was independent for thousands of years. We will not bow to a southern ruler again, not after all we have gone through.”

“I understand,” Dany clipped. Her violet eyes flashed in warning to the other woman; Jon wanted to tell his sister to quiet, that it would not help her cause to anger the dragon. She folded her hands in front of her again, the softness returning to her words. “You ask for my help as does the Greyjoys. Yet you both want independence.” She clicked her tongue. “I am not willing to give you my forces, my dragons, or my help for kingdoms that wish to rule themselves, for what will I get in return? You understand. Perhaps I can return to Westeros and conquer the North and wipe out the Boltons myself.”

“You need ships,” Robb blurted. “You can’t get across the Narrow Sea without them. I can give you ships. I can give you the Tyrells.” He drew himself up again, his eye flashing. “Cersei Lannister murdered Olenna Tyrell’s son and grandchildren. She will do anything to ensure that the lioness bitch is gutted and her pelt on the floor of Olenna’s solar. Highgarden is the wealthiest, even more than the Lannisters at this point, in all of Westeros.” He nodded. “I can get you her support. She has offered it to us, she had wanted me to marry her granddaughter.” He looked ill again. “An offer I regret not taking at this point.”

Dany blew out a hard breath, nostrils flaring. “We will speak soon. Come, Missandei will help you to your chambers.” She reached for his hand, taking it and squeezing, leaning forward, speaking in clipped Dothraki, which had Robb and Sansa frowning. “I want you to go with them, I want you to learn as much as you can. Please.”

He nodded, replying. “Of course. They are telling the truth.”

“I know, but obviously there is more to every story.”

“I need to tell him about me.”

“In time,” she said, nodding. He squeezed her hand back. She switched to Common Tongue, looking over at the Starks. “Please, follow Missandei. Jon will go with you as well.” She grinned. “You have much to catch up on.”

Robb chuckled. “Yes, for someone who could not follow Maester Luwin’s lessons on the language of the Common Tongue, you seem to not only speak it better but also Dothraki.”

Oh brother you have no idea, he thought, smiling and following them from the chamber.

 

 

~/~/~/~

 

“Have you told him?”

She knew he hadn’t, she just wanted to hear it from him. They were lying twisted in her sheets, moonlight streaming in the open windows and arches, bouncing off their skin and giving the paleness of them both an odd sheen, as if they were glowing themselves. She dragged her finger down a scar on his arm; she thought she had mapped them all by now but it seemed there was always a new one to discover.

They lay on their sides, facing each other. His finger dragged over the slope of her breast, before moving back up again, drawing little circles and unknown shapes. “Not yet,” he whispered, closing his eyes and sighing. “How do I tell him, Dany? He is grateful to see his brother, another family member…lost for so long. How do I tell him I am not his brother but his cousin and his father had betrayed him his whole life?”

It was a difficult conversation, no doubt. One that would need to occur at some point. She thought of what they had discussed further, over their meal, with the Greyjoys present. Barristan had counseled her for hours, the two of them sitting on the terrace, long into the early morning hours. It would be light soon and she had barely slept. He had returned from meeting with his family, from showing them their rooms, and speaking more, and needed to burn that energy. Except she needed to speak with Barristan, and they had to have supper. By the time it was all over, he was almost panting in need, a wild wolf and dragon, the energy all but killing him.

They had made love frantically, burning the excess until they were each spent in each other’s arms. She was boneless, her skin still quivering from aftershocks, and her mind wishing to go blank, but unable as these new developments took up residence there. Barristan had told her what he thought she should do and she had agreed with him on most counts. She gazed into Jon’s gray eyes. “I need ships, Jon. I have three full grown dragons, I have my Unsullied and I have the entire Dothraki of Essos. I have peace in the three cities and have banished slavery here. The Second Sons are mine, they will work for no one else, and they will keep the peace.” She just needed to get to Westeros. “It is time.”

He nodded. “And what did Barristan say?”

“He said that Arianne Martell has offered assistance.” That had been a new surprise, one that had just occurred. Tyrion Lannister had received the word, from a eunuch called Varys, who was now in Meereen, and who wanted to meet with her. The Master of Whisperers for Robert Baratheon. She could never trust him. Barristan warned her not to, when Tyrion gave them the message that evening. Except she now knew the Martells had as much cause to despise and want the Lannisters wiped out as anyone. She propped her head on her hand, silver hair streaming over her shoulders to her pillow. “She wants to meet me. To discuss terms.”

“Everyone wants to discuss terms,” he grumbled.

“If I get ships from your brother, the Greyjoys, the Martells and Tyrells…gods Jon that is almost all of Westeros.” She nibbled her lip. Sansa Stark had implied that there was reason she could get the support of the Vale as well, through her cousin, the young Lord Robin of House Arryn, who now controlled the Eyrie. ”But first we must dispose of a certain Lord Petyr Baelish”, she had said enigmatically.

He kissed her fingers, squeezing, laying them atop the pillow between their heads. His eyes closed tight, screwing shut, and she knew what he was going to say next would hurt. She had come to understand all his looks over these years. “Jon?” she murmured. “What is it?”

“I have to go with them.”

I knew it.

It did not hurt as much as she thought it would. She had been wondering through most of that evening, at the looks he exchanged with Robb, the smiles and the stories that had slipped out. She nodded again, blinking through the prickle of tears in her eyes. “I know you do,” she murmured.

“If I go with them, I can ensure they follow through. Make sure the North stays on your side.” The tentative agreement still needed to be worked out, but she suspected that she would have the North. Robb Stark was as tired of bloodshed as she was, he wanted to make his home whole again, and return his family to their place, same as she wanted. If she could work out the same terms with him as she had with the Greyjoys, she thought it might work. Robb Stark would bend the knee, agree to free the North in her name, and she would name him Warden, she would give the North certain independence that it wanted.

She was not her father’s daughter; she would show them that.

She dragged a finger over the scar on his heart. “And your lineage?”

“I will tell him, before we leave.” He leaned closer to him; she thought sometimes in certain lighting that the gray in his eyes resembled indigo, a tiny line of it around his pupil. Reminding her that he was part of her blood. They truly were blood of the other’s blood, bone of the other’s bone. They were the two sides of a coin. The light and the dark each. He touched his head to hers, rasping a breath. “I will miss you. I will take back the North for you. They’re a half of my family. I need to do this. For my mother.” He kissed her. Achingly soft. “For my father.”

Which one? She nodded again. “And when you return to me?” she breathed.

“I will kneel before you as you sit on the Iron Throne.”

His words stirred desire in the pit of her belly. She wanted to hear more of them. “You will help me take the throne?” she murmured. She remembered what she had said to all the Dothraki, to all of her bloodriders, and he had been there. “You will tear down their castles? Burn them for me?”

“I will burn everyone.”

She arched against him, her thumb coming to press against the pulse in his neck, whispering. Genuinely curious. “Even your family?” If they did not kneel, she needn’t say it, for he knew.

Those gray eyes darkened. He barely nodded. “Even them.”

They kissed, suddenly hungry and needy. She twisted against him, keening and arching, sobbing when he slipped inside of her, such a perfect fit, his hand gripping her thigh as they bucked and thrust against each other, her breasts flat against his chest and her leg drawn up around his hip, her other tangled somewhere beneath them. His mouth latched onto her breast and she held him there, nails scratching at his back, refusing to let go.

She would never let go of him, even if he left her, because they were in this together. They were connected through body and soul, and Jon could travel to the North, but she knew, he would always come back to her.

 

~/~/~/~

 

“That was a wise decision.”

I am glad you agree.”

There were lingering tears, salty tracks around her eyes, at having to part with Jorah. He had confessed to her that he had obtained greyscale when he was bringing Tyrion Lannister to her, from stone men in the ruins of Valyria. She had sent him to the Citadel, where Robb Stark said there was a young man who was there on behalf of the Night’s Watch, to forge a Maester’s chain, a Samwell Tarly, who might be able to help. She had just gotten him back, her Old Bear, and now she had to say goodbye, maybe forever.

And yet there were happy tears, as she bestowed Ser Barristan Selmy with a pin naming him Hand of the Queen. He had been honored, unsure if it was the right decision, but she knew in her heart it was the smartest one she could make. He was loyal to a fault, he knew her family, and she knew that if he disagreed with her, he would make it known. He would never go behind her back. He was too honorable for that, being a former Kingsguard, and seeing what those machinations had done to Ned Stark and to her family.

Tyrion Lannister had been displeased; he had likely hoped to be named somewhere in her council as a result of what he had done with the Masters. She had told him that he was welcome to stay in her retinue, if he so chose, because she could protect him from his sister, who no doubt wanted him dead for the murder of their father and suspected murder of his nephew, the king. She vowed to name him Master of Coin, if she was able to get that far into her campaign in Westeros. For now, he could provide her advice, but he was not her Hand.

It had been a few weeks since the Starks and the Greyjoys had uprooted things in Meereen. Ships were arriving, to carry her forces to Westeros. Sails with the sunburst of the Martell and the rose of the Tyrells. Krakens and Direwolves. Dragons. They would take back the Iron Throne, she thought, standing at the wall of her pyramid, the Targaryen standard waving behind her where that horrid harpy had once been.

It was all hers, these three cities on Dragon’s Bay. Prosperous and wealthy beyond measure. All the Dothraki, all the Unsullied, and her three beautiful sons. She gazed to the sky, the dying sunlight casting their dark shapes in shadow as they flew across the city. They screeched occasionally, happy sounds, as they continued to grow. She felt a tug in her heart; Drogon knew what she was going to do, and he was saddened by it. No doubt Viserion would be as well. They were brothers.

And she knew what it was like when family went away.

Jon stood behind her, his fingers lightly pressing into her bare upper arms. “I will miss these dresses,” he murmured into her ear, chuckling as he raked his knuckles up and down. Her skin prickled, desire shooting through her. “Robb says winter is coming.”

“Is that not what the Starks always say?” She tried to tease, but she knew that in Westeros winter was on its way. The North had already faced multiple storms, he said, and the brothers on the Wall who had lived through the last winter said it was reminding them again of it, the way the winds blew. Winter would come to Westeros and last for years, maybe. Her first test as queen, she believed.

She already had Missandei instruct seamstresses to make her a different wardrobe. For colder climes and for Westeros, far more conservative than Meereen. Gods what would they think of Qarth, with Qartheen dresses that bared one breast for all to see?, she giggled. She tilted her face up to Jon’s, whispering. “I will keep these dresses for you, for when you return to me.”

He smiled, lips touching hers. They rested there, not quite a kiss, but not pulling away either. His arms tightened their grip, snaking around her waist and folding over her belly. She already missed him and he had not gone yet. He was so much a part of her. She closed her eyes, inhaling his scent. Wolf, dragon, metal, and leather. He nuzzled her neck. “I will leave Ghost with you.”

“No,” she breathed. “No, he needs to go North as much as you do. He must help take back Winterfell for your family.” She turned in his arms, her hands covering his shoulders, staring into his eyes. Her brows lifted. “You must take Rhaegal with you.”

The reaction was expected. He was angry. “Of course not!” he exclaimed. “Rhaegal is your son!”

“And he is yours as well. You claimed him, you are a dragonrider, Jon Snow. You are a Targaryen.” Her hand fist over his heart, whispering earnestly. “Fire and blood. Take back the North. Torrhen Stark knelt to Aegon, no blood was shed, no fire burned, but now you must do what he did not need to do. You must fly Rhaegal into battle, burn the Boltons, and take it back.”

They looked up, as Rhaegal flew overhead, her jade son’s scales shimmering as he beat his wings, tangling up in a brief skirmish with Viserion before they flew over the bay, diving for fish. She smiled; he was the feistiest of her children. He would do well in battle. He was ready. As was Jon. She stroked his hair, one of the braids fallen loose. He furrowed his brow; always brooding, her wolf. “What if he doesn’t listen to me?”

“He will. I know he will.”

“And the Northerners? They won’t take to me riding a dragon into their lands.”

“Well they will have to learn,” she murmured. She kissed him, soft. He would be leaving her that evening; the ships to White Harbor would sail late, they needed to make to Braavos for restocking before they made their way North. Rhaegal would fly alongside. He would need food as well before the journey North; he would need to fly along the coast most like. She knew there was a storm coming; the sailors said so, including one of the advisors who had come south, Davos Seaworth. He was a kind man; he had taken quickly to Jon and Jon to him.

She was glad that he would have someone else to share the journey with, who could help guide him. She blinked back tears, her fingers now tangled in the nape of his neck, twisting in his braids. The sun was setting around them; everything was golden and orange. She did not want to let him go, although she must. “We will see each other again,” she vowed. “I swear it.”

He reached at his side, removing a dagger. He cut his thumb and she held hers out; he did the same. They smeared their blood together, squeezing hands. To her surprise, he reached into his belt again, this time removing a thin black satin sash; she recognized it as one from one of her pretty robes. He used one hand and draped it over their joined ones. She took the other end and did the same, both of them tying a knot. “It is not a true ceremony,” he whispered. “But it will do until I can get you beneath the hearttree at Winterfell, under the moon and the stars, and take you for mine there.”

She quivered; everything was done under the stars in the Dothraki tradition. He would marry her under the moon per the Northern tradition and they would make love there like the Dothraki. Like the Faith of the Seven, the religion of her mother, they tied the ribbon around their hands, binding them to each other. They did not need a sept or a priest or anything. It was binding to them, and that was what mattered. His hand came to cup her cheek, as they squeezed their others in the sash. “I am yours and you are mine,” he whispered. “From this day, until the end of my days.”

“I am yours and you are mind,” she repeated, tears now falling down her cheeks, blending in with his as she kissed him, mumbling the words against his mouth. “From this day, until the end of my days.”

Blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bone, she thought. She shook, unable to let go, vowing herself to him forever. “Mine,” she hissed, biting at his lower lip. “You are mine Jon Snow.”

“As you are mine, Daenerys Targaryen,” he replied, before he captured her lips in a kiss that had her almost bending backwards from the force. He held her upright, her body meshed to his, clamoring for more.

They stumbled towards her bed chamber, their hands still tied together. She broke the kiss long enough to pull his face back towards hers, crushing her forehead and nose against his, gasping. “Make love to me Jon, one more time before you go, make me never forget you, show me you will come back to me.” She gripped his hair, pulling, and vowing, amethyst eyes now dark pools of indigo. “Because if you don’t, I will hunt you down to the ends of the earth, and I will find you and I will have Drogon burn you to all the seven hells. Where I will find you again and burn you again and again, for all of eternity.”

He chuckled, snapping his teeth at her, growling. “As my queen commands.”

Chapter Text

Dragonstone was her home, she never wanted to leave.

Even though there was still the fight for the Iron Throne, even though Cersei was still in power, she was essentially a figurehead. No one supported her, she had locked herself in the Red Keep, and was using the people of King's Landing as shields. She had lined the walls with scorpions, to take out the dragons, and she had what remained of Euron's fleet—most of it had been destroyed by Viserion, who accompanied the ships.

She had burned them out of an attempt to take Highgarden—Tyrion had said they should go to Casterly Rock, but Barristan said no, they had to go to Highgarden, because that was where the gold was. She had sent a small contingent of Unsullied and found that Barristan was right, and Tyrion was wrong. So many attempts by the man who wanted to be her Hand and they were all foolhardy notions. He even insisted she try to parlay with Cersei. She had begun to wonder if he was really in support of her at all, or if his silly notions of saving his sister were just so transparent.

It had been months, months of holing up in Dragonstone, starving Cersei out of the Red Keep as her forces surrounded the city. The North was fighting for its life. She had heard things, ravens had been sent from Jon, saying there was another war to be fought, a war for the living, that the stories were true, all of them, of dead men walking and something called the Night King.

"I cannot fight the North's wars for them and risk my entire forces," she'd argued, when Tyrion suggested she send men to fight. She had lost a great deal of ships in the battles with Euron's fleet. Cersei had the Golden Company to support her, from a loan from Braavos. She wondered when the Golden Company would betray the contract, when they found that it was a true Targaryen who they deigned to fight against. They would turn, in the middle of battle, if they thought they were supporting the wrong side. They would soon enough, she thought, staring at the little figures that covered the Painted Table.

Tyrion glanced over at her, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. "Your Grace, there will be no Westeros if we do not fight the dead."

"And who told you this?" she snapped, arching a brow. "Your former wife? The one who is trying to usurp her brother and her cousin?" Sansa Stark had been a thorn in the side of Robb and of Jon both, according to their letters. She was insistent on an independent North, as payment for what had happened to her. She shifted in her seat, feeling very uncomfortable herself. She placed a hand on the side of her belly, wincing at the stab of pain up her spine.

Barristan glanced sideways. "Your Grace?"

"I am fine, please." She stared at the table a little longer. "The North has returned to the Starks, with the support of the Vale and the Riverlands. Jon is arguing as we speak for the Knights of the Vale and a portion of the North to join the Unsullied, the Dothraki, and what I have of Tyrell and Martells on a march to King's Landing."

Somewhere she heard Drogon screeching, probably not far outside of the Chamber of the Painted Table. She winced again; this time the pain far more than she had been accustomed of late. There was no room left, she thought, her hand on the side of her mountainous belly. She gazed at it, smirking, forgetting where she was, and murmured. "Not yet, my love."

It seemed their war talks were over, for Barristan stood immediately, his chair clattering backwards. "Your Grace, you should retire to your rooms. I will send the midwives in to see to you."

"I am fine," she tried to stress, except no sooner had she uttered the words did she feel a spasm overtake her, lurching her forward in a strangled gasp. "Oh!"

Tyrion jumped from his seat and Jorah-- who had returned to her, healed of his greyscale-- rushed to her side, helping her to her feet. "Khaleesi," he murmured. He placed a hand in the small of her back, guiding her gently. "Even you cannot stop the pains of labor."

"I am not in labor!" It was not possible. Jon isn't here. She had not even told him yet, she thought she would like to surprise him. For him to return to her and see her large and round with his child, with their child. She was not supposed to do this without him there. She winced again, this time a strange sensation taking over in her lower belly. She straightened a bit, frowning. It felt like she had wet herself, but...her eyes widened. "My waters just broke."

They all began shouting, in Dothraki and Common Tongue, and she heard Grey Worm in Valyrian. Her feet seemed to have departed the ground, as everyone rushed her through the corridors to her chambers. Missandei bustled about with the assistance of two Dothraki midwives, getting her changed and into bed and calling for hot water and towels and blankets.

Drogon screamed again from beyond Dragonstone's towers. She stared out the open archways to the sea, waves angrily tossing about. The sky was black, and she saw lightning breaking through the darkness. She closed her eyes, fighting against new pain. Winds churned about outside, they seemed to worsen with each painful grasp on her body. She placed her hands on either side of her stomach, Missandei coming to sit beside her.

She reached out, clutching her best friend's slim hand, whispering. "He isn't here."

"He is," Missandei said, touching her heart, smiling comfortingly. "He is here."

"I should have told him." It was a stupid idea, to surprise him, but she was so scared. He needed to fight in the North, he had to be there, and she could not have him distracted, as he would surely have been if he'd known she was with child at Dragonstone. She had been terrified it was a mistake, it was her horrid body lying to her, or another trick of whatever gods there might have been. Or a witch or warlock, someone who thought it would be amusing to make her think she was pregnant and then rip her baby from her as they had with Rhaego.

She sobbed, tears sticky on her sweaty cheeks. "I was scared I would lose the baby, I'm so scared Missandei. What if it is a mistake?" What if the curse is still real? Her baby had been moving within her all these months, kicking and fluttering about. She had thought it all a cruel joke of the world, as her belly swelled, not believing it as they sailed to Westeros and when she touched her feet to the sandy soil of Dragonstone.

It took Missandei and one of her Dothraki maids, sweet Ornela, to tell her that she was with child, her belly unable to hide now and her breasts swollen and tender. She had not bled in months—not that she could count on that as a sign, since she lost Rhaego she had always been irregular—plus she had been ill for a few weeks before Jon left. She was not sure when it happened, when the world shifted and the curse broke.

Perhaps she was not a reliable source of information.

Jon's words made her laugh, each time she thought of them. A witch cursed her, but it took a wolf to break the curse. Or maybe there had never been a curse and it just had to be the right time. She had no idea. She just knew that she was going to have a baby and yet she feared it, she tried not to think of it, in case some horrible thing happened, and she lost another child. She would not be able to bear it. A mother of Dragons, of the Unsullied, the freed slaves, and the Dothraki, and yet she could not bear her own flesh and blood of her body.

She lurched forward as another pain took her. The weather outside grew worse, winds blowing in and spiraling around the chamber that Aegon once called his. "Your Grace, we should move you to another room," Ornela said.

"No," she cried. She was born here, in this castle, probably in this room, in the worst storm the realm had seen. She turned and looked out, seeing white flakes swirling on the sandy beaches. The ice that began to cling to the obsidian castle's walls. Snow. Winter had come long ago, except now it seemed to have reach Dragonstone. She laughed, although it did cause her pain, her hand over her belly, unable to stop.

Snowborn.

She shifted, feeling more pressure between her legs than before. "I have to push," she exclaimed. She couldn't stop it, the feeling and need to get her baby out of her and into her arms. Except Jon isn't here. "I need Jon! Where is he?"

"He will be here, Your Grace," Missandei said. She kissed her brow, whispering. "Soon, but for now, you must help your baby be born. You must not wait."

She nodded; rational thought was leaving her. "I should have told him," she mumbled, closing her eyes tight. It was silly of her, she thought again, feeling tired all of a sudden. She wanted to sleep, to closed her eyes and fall into a dark, dreamless sleep. She swallowed hard; her throat dry. "I was scared something would happen...I'm still so scared."

"As you should be."

She peered up at Missadnei, into her best friend's dark, smiling eyes. "I'm having a baby, aren't I?"

"Yes, you are."

"Then you should call me Dany."

Missandei chuckled. "Dany." She wrinkled her nose. "It feels wrong somehow, Your Grace."

She laughed, even if it hurt. "It is my name and you are my best friend. It is fitting you should call me it." She looked between her splayed knees, where Ornela and another midwife checked. "Is it alright? The baby?"

"The baby comes soon, khaleesi," Ornela said, patting her knee. "But not just yet."

She groaned. This could go on forever, if she remembered correctly. She closed her eyes, her hand tight in Missandei's, squeezing through painful contractions as her body struggled to birth her child. Each time she closed her eyes, she could see Drogon spiraling around in the storm, Viserion with him. She missed Rhaegal, missed his feisty little snarls and how he would swish his tail when he got angry. She missed Jon. She wanted him. wanted Ghost, with his soft, warm body she had grown accustomed to sleeping beside for those months in Meereen.

This child would be the future of House Targaryen, she thought, wondering if it would be a boy or a girl. She was not the end of her House, as she had thought, because Jon was there. And now they would have a child, who would be their heir and their future. Boy or girl, she could care less, she wanted a healthy baby in her arms, to nurse at her breast, and to call her own.

It is all I ever wanted.

Hours went by; the storm worsened, she could hear Drogon and Viserion's angry screams. They could make their way into the grottoes beneath the castle, where the dragons of old Targaryens used to make their nests, if they so choose. They were spoiled, she thought with a chuckle. She tried to send a thought to Drogon, via their connection, to take care of himself and go warm up in the pools beneath the stones. Dragonstone sat on hot springs; she wanted nothing more than to show them to Jon, the big stone pools beneath the castle, filled with piping hot water, where they could make love for hours and soak in the therapeutic depths.

She thought she heard another cry, somewhere in the din, of another dragon. Drogon's screams were deep and powerful, while Viserion seemed always like he was worrying over something. Rhaegal's screams were challenging and more of a snarl. She thought that's what she heard, but she could not eb sure. He was in the North though, with Jon.

Missandei told her it was time; how long have I been doing this?, she wondered. The storm was so bad all she could see beyond the arches was white, snow coming down in powerful droves. She hoisted herself up, her fingers clenching in the sides of the mattress, her braids sticking to the back of her neck, as someone wiped a cloth on her head and encouraged her to push. She screamed, using all the energy she had remaining, before falling backwards. She thought it was over, but apparently not.

Her baby was stubborn, she thought, making a note to say something to Jon for passing along his most irritating quality to their child. She dug in deep, another scream rent from her strained lungs, and she no longer felt any more pain, because suddenly it was ebbing away, and it felt as though she'd lost a piece of her body, only to see it was because Missandei was holding a wiggling, fluid-covered and bloody thing in her arms, connected with a cord to her body. She stared, eyes wide, strands of her hair falling in her eyes, obscuring her vision as she took in the little thing.

Missandei laughed, tears streaming down her face. "Oh Dany! You have a daughter! It is a beautiful little girl!"

"Khaleesi!" Ornela exclaimed, hugging her around the shoulders. "She is the khalaka!"

The baby was moving, she realized, unable to blink at the arms and legs that moved around, the chest rising and falling, because she also realized there were gasping screams, her child taking her first breaths; cold, winter air from the storm that still raged. "Snowborn," she murmured, taking her child for the first time.

Missandei guided the baby into her arms, a blanket wrapped over her still sticky little body. She felt the cord disconnect from her, and Ornela and the other midwife fluttered about between her legs, delivering the rest of what remained inside of her, but she couldn't focus on them, because her baby was in her arms, wiggling and moving, crying and when she turned to her, her tiny eyes opened, just enough, and all Dany could see was gray.

Like Jon.

She sobbed, her knees still drawn up, assisting in cradling her daughter against her, and she lowered her lips, trembling, to kiss her daughter's damp forehead, a thick swatch of dark hair slicked over her head, which Missandei was rubbing briskly with a blanket, the baby's skin pinking as she dried off from the birthing fluids and blood. She cried, upset at being jostled so, and Dany just rocked her, cooing nonsensical words to her in Valyrian, slipping into her mother tongue as her mind filled with absolute love and heart swelled with joy.

" Issa jorrāelagon, issa dōna hāedar, ao issi kesīr, ao issi ñuhon, nyke aōha muñnykeā, nyke jāhor dōrī henujagon ao, nyke kivio.” My love, my sweet girl, you are here, you are mine, I'm your mother, I will never leave you, I swear. She felt tears drip onto her baby's cheeks, idly wiping at them, and felt Missandei and Ornela help her with her gown, encouraging her to feed, to seal the bond between mother and baby.

There is no need, she is mine, Dany thought, as she watched her baby latch onto her breast and begin to suckle, tiny hand pressing. She captured it with her fingertip, the little fingers so delicate, each one with a pale little fingernail. Dark lashes rested on her rosy cheeks and she could not imagine there was ever a more perfect creation in the world than her child.

"Dany!"

A dragon roar came from outside, her head jerking up at the sound. "Rhaegal," she breathed, looking to the windows, but she could see nothing through the white clouds of snow that enveloped the castle. She looked at the door, hearing commotion on the outside of it.

It did not take long, but soon enough the door burst open and there, wet from the storm, gulping deep breaths, was Jon. He dropped his sword belt, the steel clattering to the stone floor and shed off his outer cloak, fur lined and heavy on his shoulders. He looked so different, she marveled, at the sight of him in Stark browns and blacks, with thick quilted vests and gambeson.

"Jon," she sobbed, her hand reaching out for him. She cried, unable to stop. "I wanted to tell you, but I was scared."

Barristan leaned in, Tyrion and Jorah poking around, curious at the new Targaryen. "Your Grace," he said softly. "Who shall I announce to the realm?" He smiled, a kindly grandfather, and she knew her daughter would see him as such.

She swallowed air, clutching a hand at Jon as her other rested on her daughter. She smiled, whispering. "Princess Lyella of House Targaryen. The Snowborn." She cried, gazing up at Jon, whispering. "Named for her grandmothers, the late Queen Rhaella and Lady Lyanna."

Jon's eyes were swimming in tears, the gray appearing black, as he leaned over her, trying not to drip water onto them both, but clutching her hand and pressing a bruising kiss to her temple. She had no idea when everyone left, just that suddenly they were alone. She peered up at him, wondering what she should say. He shook his head, his lower lip chewed to death beneath his worrying teeth. "Gods Dany...I just...I had to get here. I don't know what happened, I felt..." He touched his chest. "Pain...I had to get to you. I flew Rhaegal...I have no idea how he made it here safely."

She touched her forehead to his again, whispering. "I was so scared to tell you, to distract you from your mission...I did not want to risk anything...if I thought it real, I thought she would goa way from me...the curse would come true again."

"When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east," Jon recited. He shook his head, laughing. "I told you she was not a reliable source of information."

"I know." She gazed at her baby, her most perfect thing, the most perfect thing she had ever done. All of her accomplishments meant nothing to her now. They were great and glorious in their own right. This was something else entirely. She curved her hand beneath Lyella's soft downy hair, whispering. "She is real, is she not? This is not a cruel dream?"

"No."

Their connection was stronger than she had ever realized, for him to know when she had gone into labor, to fly all that way in such a strong storm and reach her. She exhaled, shaky. "I had no idea how to tell you, please know that I meant no harm in it, I was just...so scared."

"Dany, gods, do not apologize for anything. She is here, she could be fresh born or she could be an adult, I do not care." He kissed her temple again, his hand a vice grip on her shoulder. He laughed. "She's ours."

They called Rhaenyra the Realm's Delight. They called Daenerys the Darling of the Realm. Lyella would be the joy of the realm, the first Targaryen born on the shores of Westeros since her birth, in the same castle, and in a fierce storm. They would tell stories of her, sing songs, she thought, of this little dragonwolf, with her father's looks and her mother's spirit. She closed her eyes, suddenly quite exhausted.

Except there was still something else to do.

She turned, lifting the baby, who had stopped feeding, her mouth slack around her mother's breast, and gently passed her to her father. He seemed unsure, his brow wrinkling. She noticed that his hair was longer, and his beard seemed fuller. He had far more of a Northern look about him, from being in the snows and cold. He was gentle, his arms wrapping instinctively around his daughter.

He stood carefully from the bed and held her tight to the warmth of his body, unable to tear his eyes from her. "She's perfect," he whispered, standing beside the bed. He blinked quickly and exhaled hard, almost a laugh. "Gods Dany, she's so beautiful. She looks like you."

"I thought she looked like you," she murmured, laying in her pillows. She realized suddenly that somehow, they had changed the bedding beneath her. When did that happen? Time seemed to mean nothing to her. It felt like a moment ago she was in the Painted Table feeling pains and now gods, it could be days later, and she would have no idea.

In her mind, everything blended, as she blinked sleepily to Jon, who now stood in the window, framed by the snow around him. She suddenly felt transported, back to Vaes Dothrak, standing beside Drogo and Jorah, watching this strange westerner approach on his black stallion, anger in his eyes and a following that rivaled her sun and stars. She was instantly intrigued, instantly wanted to know more of him, more than she ever had of anyone before. She was a girl then, still coming into her own, and finding herself. Finding the dragon that had been beaten and hidden into submission by her angry brother and her circumstances as an exiled princess.

Was it the dragon's blood that sought him out? Was that why he had felt connected to her at that first look from atop his horse? He had found her in the markets. She had not been fearful of him, even though Jorah had not been at her side, and she still knew quite little of the world beyond her small entourage of Dothraki. She was safe with him. He would never hurt her. And he never had. He was her blood, her Jon.

And maybe that was why the curse had meant nothing in the end. Maybe that was what it took to break it. The blood of the dragon. A rebirth. She had died, at some point, in the fiery pyre that birthed her dragons. She had died again, when she'd gone into the flames at Vaes Dothrak. She was reborn both times, as Mother of Dragons, and as the Unburnt. She was the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea and the Breaker of Chains. She was the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Protector of the Realm, all of that.

Jon was her king, whether he knew it or not.

She felt the bed sink slightly as he sat beside her, still cradling their baby. "Dany," he murmured.

"Hmmm?"

"Thank you."

Thank you? She rested her head on his shoulder. "For what?" she asked, sleep almost overtaking her. She wasn't sure she'd be able to hear his answer before she fell off into it.

He kissed her brow. "For choosing me. For giving me her. For everything."

She smiled, drifting to sleep, a whisper on her lips. "Don't thank me Jon. You did it yourself."

 

~/~/~/~

 

Jon had decided that if anyone in King's Landing did not fear the Dragon Queen, they had clearly never encountered a Dragon Queen who had just given birth. She was vicious, this she-dragon, protecting her young hatchling, snarling and breathing flames, and deciding then and there that she would no longer wait.

He sat at her side, at the Painted Table, where Dany was holding one of her final war councils before they took the Seven Kingdoms for good. She gripped the armrests of her chair, glowering at Tyrion Lannister, who was trying to convince her to release his brother Jaime, the Kingslayer himself, who had been captured trying to sneak into King's Landing, after he had voluntarily gone to the North to assist in the war against the Dead there.

He had seen many things in his time in Essos, nothing could have prepared him for what he witnessed at Winterfell. A man who could raise the dead and could never die himself, save for Valyrian steel and dragonglass. He flew Rhaegal through the storms, burned as much as he could. It was Robb's fight, Robb had been at the Wall, in his refuge, and seen it firsthand there. His younger brother Bran had developed some sort of strange warging capability and had been able to connect to this so-called Night King.

And his youngest sister Arya...she had been there too. Had fought like a trained killer, which he learned she had become. They had found her in Braavos. They were set to return, reloaded and stocked, and she had come running down the dock, screaming for Robb. he had not recognized her, but Sansa did. It was a Stark sibling reunion, all of them unable to fathom what had happened to her since her disappearance from King's Landing.

She had not known him as a child, but when she saw him, she said "You're my other brother, the one who was missing, right?"

All he had said was " I'm actually your cousin. Long story."

Then she'd discovered he had a dragon and that about sealed their relationship forever. Jon loved her desperately, never wanted any harm to come to her. She might have been a Stark, but she was practically his sister, even looked a bit like him, more than she did her other siblings. He wondered what that must have been like for her, growing up.

He had told Robb and Sansa before they left, with Dany standing there, and they did not really believe him. Not until he spoke Valyrian and mounted a dragon before them. Not until word came from the Watch's Maester, via raven to Winterfell, telling of a marriage between Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Sansa had wanted him to use his bloodline to become the King of the Seven Kingdoms, to allow the North to be free, but he said that if he was a King it was only because he was married to Daenerys. She was the true ruler, because Aerys had renounced Rhaegar as is heir. No one seemed to remember that, he thought.

There was a lot of politicking in the North, he had been disgusted to discover. The lot of them were fools. Stubborn old men who stayed in their castles while their people starved and fought against nature. Claimed they had suffered so terribly, but it wasn't the North who suffered, it was the Starks. They suffered. The rest of them joined with the Boltons to save their own skins. He had wanted to behead them all, but Robb had done the deed. Took the heads off Robbet Glover, Harald Karstark, and Smalljon Umber, all of whom had led against the Starks' return in siding with Ramsey Bolton. Or didn't do anything, like Glover.

He stared at the wolf sigil on the table, symbolizing the Stark forces that Robb was sending south, in agreement with Dany. She came to his aid, sending limited forces and a dragon to take back Winterfell and to fight the Dead. Now it was his turn to help her take the Iron Throne. He would be Warden of the North. Jon had negotiated with Robb on behalf of Dany. The North would not participate in southern wars, unless the wars directly affected the North. The Ironborn would not raid their shores. In return, the North could have a modicum of independence. Robb was perfectly content, so long as he could stay at Winterfell and attempt to recover what remained of his family and his father's legacy.

Sansa had been most displeased, but she would essentially be Lady of Winterfell, as Robb had yet to find a wife. Jon was not sure if his brother would marry, he seemed to have been hopelessly in love with Talisa, the woman he'd married and had resulted in the Frey's betrayal. He hoped his brother would find someone though.

Everyone deserved love. Duty was not everything. That was what Maester Aemon told him, as he lay dying in his arms. Duty meant nothing when you held a newborn son in your arms or kissed your beloved. He could attest to that for certain, as he had both. His daughter and his wife. His Dany.

He picked up one of the wolves, thumbing at it idly while Dany argued with Tyrion over what to do with Jaime. "We should just kill him," he said, interrupting them both. he was tired of the arguing.

Tyrion stuttered; eyes wide. "But...you kill him, and Cersei will certainly set wildfire to all of King's Landing!"

"Better that than lose all our forces."

"There are women and children there!"

Jon arched a brow; he knew that. He also knew that Cersei could be dealt with quite effectively without having to let the wildfire off. He cocked his head. "And how will she know, Lord Tyrion?" He smirked. "Will you betray your queen again and tell her? How is it that you are still sitting there? By the grace of Her Grace, for it were I, you would already be ash for your poor advice that if taken, would mean that Her Grace would be left with nothing."

Dany held her hand up to still him. She glared at Tyrion. "I am inclined to agree with Lord Snow."

The lion fumed. "Jaime is my brother, he was the only Lannister who was ever kind to me. He deserves to be treated fairly."

"He murdered my father," Dany spat. She arched a brow, whispering. "I do not hold the sins of the father against their children, which is why you are not dead, for what your father has done to my family and to Lord Snow's, and to countless others across the realm in his quest for power." She pushed from the table, standing, drawing herself up. Jon marveled at her strength; she had given birth not two weeks before and was already on the back of a dragon and commanding her men. "And I have forgiven your brother what he did. My father was an evil man. Did he deserve a trial before his execution? Yes. Did your brother take out a man in the interest of the great good? Yes. Does this mean that I will allow him to race to his sister's' side, in attempt to fight against me, after he has already seen what my forces are capable of?" She leaned forward, gritting her teeth, snarling like a dragon. "No."

To his credit, Tyrion did not shrink back much. He stared at her a moment and whispered. "He is my brother. You must understand."

"And that is why he will be taken as an enemy combatant and held at Dragonstone until such time I can deal with him. He will not go near his sister." She dismissed Tyrion with a flick of her wrist. "You may be able to handle money properly, Lord Tyrion, but your advice on battle strategies is abysmal." She moved around from the table, coming to stand beside him, her fingers threading through and staring at the forces laid out on the table. She nodded smartly. "We are ready. In a fortnight, we will take King's Landing, with fire and blood."

"And the wildfire?" Barristan asked, quiet.

"It is in the city, but not the Keep." She arched a brow, whispering. "Then I will destroy the Keep. Cersei Lannister will die with her crown on her head and her precious throne, where my family saw it's end, she will as well."

He had never been prouder of her. He followed her out of the room, smiling slightly at Robb who only arched his brow over his good eye, before smirking. "Have fun," his brother sang softly under his breath.

Jon wanted to punch him, like they were kids again, but he abstained, choosing to follow Dany out and to the nursery, where Missandei was fussing over Lyella, changing her linens. He almost beat Dany down to get to his daughter, to see her pink face and the dark curls that framed it. He leaned over her, cooing. "Hello my love."

"Bring her to me," Dany ordered, taking a seat in a chair that Grey Worm had found stashed in the keep, with curved wooden feet to rock gently in. She always fed her in the chair, when she could, and gently took the baby from him.

Missandei smiled at them both. "Your Grace, Lord Snow."

He smiled at Missandei and waited for the door to close. Ghost was seated in the entry to the terrace. It was cold, but the heat of the hot springs beneath the keep and the massive fires in every room, in hearths that resembled dragon mouth's, kept them warm. He had taken to wearing the furs of the North when he left the keep. He liked the cloak, it reminded him of Ned's. He still kept to his black armor though. He leaned on the arm of the chair, an arm going around her shoulder, and his other hand resting on his knee, gazing at his beautiful daughter.

He had no idea he could possibly feel this way.

As a bastard, he had never wanted to father children. He always took great care when he decided he wanted pleasure to prevent against it. Not that he'd been with many women before Dany. It was not at the forefront of his mind, ever. He never thought that he would be able to say that he had a child, never wanted it. He would not marry; even as a teenager his only options were hedge knight, Kingsguard, or the Wall. Two prevented marriage vows and the other just was not a life for anyone, traveling around the realm in tourneys.

Then he met Dany. And everything changed.

The miracle of their daughter, to Dany, was just that-- a miracle. She never thought she would have a living, breathing child after that witch cursed her. Jon did not know if he believed in things like curses, so he was glad when it seemed that all it took was time and love. That's what she was, their Lyella, the living embodiment of a dragon's love.

And there was no fear of her being labeled a bastard. Dany was the Queen, she could legitimize anyone, except she didn't need to legitimize her child, because she was born of their marriage, whether anyone recognized it or not. They exchanged the vows; they swore themselves to each other in blood. That was good enough for the queen to mean her child was legitimate.

He had no idea; he had gone to Braavos, journeyed to the North. Met with the Northern lords, some of whom thought he was an imposter, until they were met with a snarling white direwolf at their throats and a dragon screaming beyond the walls of Winterfell's keep. Howland Reed confirmed his birth, brought up from the Neck to testify to them, announcing his birth. He was the child of Lyanna Stark, Ned Stark took a stain on his honor to protect his sister's child from death at the hands of Robert Baratheon.

They could not deny it, when he rode a dragon, commanded a direwolf. He was the blood of both. Jon Snow, the Dragonwolf, they called him. Better than bastard of Winterfell, he'd mused to Robb, who had only laughed. He had met his youngest siblings, Bran and Rickon, who he had wished he'd known as well, but it was Arya who had journeyed with Robb back to Dragonstone. Gods knew where she was, lurking about somewhere. She'd disappeared for a time, when he was in the North, and when she returned so did word that all of House Frey had been murdered, by a serving girl.

She had claimed no knowledge of it, but they knew she had trained at the House of Black and White. The assassins, he'd explained to Robb and Sansa, who had not understood the implication of it when Arya casually mentioned it on the ship, as where she had been while she was in Braavos.

He thought his daughter was the most perfect being in the entire world. Nothing matched her beauty, her pale features and her dark curls. Her gray eyes had rings of violet around the pupils and she had her mother's brow, most often noticed when she frowned. He smiled as Dany ran her pinkie finger over Lyella's pursed pink lips, which continued to suck eagerly at her mother.

"It's all for her," she whispered. "Everything we do, it is for her. And all the other children of the realm."

"Aye."

She looked up, her hand lifting to rest on his thigh. She squeezed lightly. "I love you; I am so happy you are back with me. You have no idea how it was without you. I missed you...missed your snoring."

He scoffed. "I missed your snoring, you mean." She arched a brow, smirking at him. He chuckled, leaning to kiss her forehead. He knew what she meant. He missed her desperately. Even before, when he went away, he could see her via Ghost, but Ghost was with him. Ravens did not cut it for him, he could see her handwriting and imagine her, but it was not the same. The bed was so lonely in Winterfell, so cold and empty without her. He had no idea that she was feeling the same, except she was with child the entire time. He was almost glad she had not told him, because she was right. He would have abandoned the North and left them to either the Night King or the Lannister-backed forces.

It had been a sudden tug at his heart, at the connection with Rhaegal, that had him almost on his knees. He had been sparring with Robb, in the yard of Winterfell, waiting on word from Dragonstone on when to begin the march south. He had little time to truly experience his childhood home after he returned, focused on battle plans against the Night King and recovering the destroyed Keep from the horror that Ramsey Bolton had wrought on the place. So when he had time to enjoy himself, to actual feel like he was a child again, he took it and Robb seemed to like it as well. it gave him the opportunity to feel like he was the Lord of Winterfell and not the destroyed man he'd become.

His brother's casualness had gone away, probably died with his wife and unborn child. He was stern, angry even. He had a darkness inside of him that Jon recognized and sympathized with. He was Ned Stark's son, ever honorable, but the betrayal of so many people he thought loyal to him had struck hard and left its mark. It had taken his eye, he'd said. He no longer trusted the way he had. He was tired. He wanted to go home, and Jon could understand that more than anyone.

So he vowed to his brother they would need the North just to encircle King's Landing. Once they had it, the North could return, could recover itself. He was grateful. He had agreed to come south, to not only assist Daenerys, but to meet his cousin, when Jon had sent word back that Dany had delivered a daughter.

He had been unable to think, the pain had been so intense, and then Rhaegal had not stopped screaming and flapping his wings, urgently demanding he fly. He had barely wrapped a cloak around him and ordered Robb to go south with Ghost immediately, before he flew off. he had no idea what he was going to encounter, just that Rhaegal had to get to Dragonstone immediately. The storm had almost sent them floundering into the Blackwater, but he'd made it, and when he'd burst into the keep, heard Jorah's words that Dany was in labor, he had run for it and arrived in time to see his child taking her first breaths.

"We need to discuss your role, Jon."

He sniffed, taking the baby from her and patting Lyella's back, walking slowly with her around the room as Dany righted her gowns. He smiled at the satisfied little belch, chuckling. "Hungry girl, aren't you?"

"She certainly is," Dany grumbled. She leaned back in her chair, propping her feet on a stool. "Jon, I am serious, do not change the subject."

"I'm not." He just didn't want to talk about anything, honestly.

She propped her head on her hand. "We already know the role of the North, Robb has bent the knee, and he assures me that he will be able to control his sister. She has little support now. Robb is respected, he has shown them he will not tolerate revolt and dissent. Your being a Targaryen has helped. Their beloved Ned Stark protected you. he could have just let Robert kill you."

"Sometimes I don't know if they think that is a good thing or not," he mused. He saw the looks some of the Northerners gave him. They hated him for no reason other than his father was Rhaegar Targaryen. None fo them knew Rhaegar. Everyone who had, even Howland Reed, spoke of a good and kind man. Only Robert had perpetuated the lie and rumors that Rhaegar was an evil man who stole and raped Lyanna to death.

She sighed. "We can table the discussion for the time being, but you are my king, whether you want the title or not."

He rolled his eyes, whispering, staring out the window at the snow-capped spires of Dragonstone. "King Jon. Sounds so foolish."

"On the contrary, I think it is distinguished. Simple and refined," she said. He wondered if she was kidding, but she wasn’t smiling when he glanced at her. She lifted her chin. "You are my King. I can sit the Iron Throne or whatever I choose, rule as a queen in my own right, but you are my husband. The father of my child and heir, and you have the blood of the dragon." She smiled now. "We might have married, if things had turned out differently. We are close in age. I could have worked out this way regardless."

The Iron Throne went to the male heir, the closest in the male line, not the mother's line. It always had. It resulted in the Dance of the Dragons. It was why Laenor Velaryon did not take the throne, even when his mother was the firstborn child of Aemon, the child of Jaeherys. They did not think it should go through the mother's line. It had to go through the father and so Baelon, the second-born son, became heir and then his son Viserys ruled over Laenor.

Which meant that without Viserys, without Rhaegar, and without Aegon, it was him. Not Dany. If they followed the traditional succession rules. He did not want to be a king. He was always her adviser, her companion, and then her lover, and now husband and father of her child. And future children, he thought. He turned, staring at her. "I refuse," he said. He scowled. "I will not be King, you can call me a Prince, you can call me Lord Snow, or Lord Targaryen or however you wish, but if I am King, then it is in name only. I will not yield any power that you do not yield."

Her violet eyes flashed, whispering. "Are you defying my command?"

"You have commanded nothing."

"And if I do?"

He scowled. "Then I will follow....reluctantly."

She smirked, crossing her legs, a dainty ankle revealing itself from under the hem of her skirts, her feet encased in small little boots that she tended to wear when she was just going to be in the keep or with Lyella. "Well then I will just have to think a little on it." She tapped her fingers on the armrests. "As for the battle...I will fly Drogon in and take out the scorpions along the main walls. You will fly Rhaegal and destroy what remains of Euron's fleet."

He knew there was no convincing her to sit this out. To just let Drogon go on his own and stay at Dragonstone. This was her war and she never sent men to do what she would not do herself. He nodded. "And the civilians that Cersei is using as shields?"

"She thinks I would not destroy the Red Keep. The towers that my ancestors built, that her family and Robert Baratheon stole from me." Her nostrils flared, smoke all but escaping from her in her controlled anger. "But that is where they are wrong." She turned her head slowly, her voice deadly cold. "I would rather see what Aegon created and what Maegor finished turned to dust than have Cersei Lannister or anyone else call it theirs. I would rather see the Iron Throne melted into the sea than have anyone else, but a Targaryen sit upon it."

His stomach flipped, desire rising in him at her words. Gods, she's breathtaking, he thought, smiling at her decree. She was something else entirely. Daenerys Stormborn. Truly the conqueror like Aegon. She was the blood of the dragon. He smiled again, whispering. "I love you."

The anger in her eyes disappeared immediately, replaced with pure affection. "I love you too," she replied. She got up and walked over, taking Lyella from his arms. Ghost stood, sniffing at the blankets. She turned Lyella towards him and knelt. "Here she is Ghost; she loves you so much."

Ghost nosed at Lyella's tiny hand, the baby awake and lightly covering his cool black nose with her palm. He sniffed and his red eyes rolled up at them, quizzical. He laughed, ruffling Ghost's ears. "I don't know what you're thinking, but she's yours too, you silly wolf."

Lyella made a gurgling sound, maybe even a little coo, reaching for Ghost again, swiping at him. He sneezed and then pressed his nose to her belly, before licking her hand gently and, satisfied, curled back up on the floor to sleep. Dany chuckled. "They will be the best of friends, I know it."

She walked away from him, going through the adjoining rooms to their chambers, where she rested Lyella on the furs of the bed and began to change, pulling her riding leathers on. He leaned against the door frame, watching his daughter's hands and feet kick and punch the air as she lay on the bed. "What are you doing?" He glanced outside. The snow had let up, but it was still cold. He scowled. She was now fussing about with some sort of Dothraki-made coat for Lyella, binding her up in it and pulling her into some sort of wrapping. "What is that?"

"Dothraki women ride horses, you fool."

"Aye."

She smirked. "None of your women in your khalasar ever ride with a babe in their arms?"

"Of course they did." He just couldn’t remember how.

"Help me with this."

For some reason he did, although he couldn't be sure why. He followed her instruction and realized that she had Lyella in a tight sling, bound to her chest, furs wrapping the baby from head to toe, just her tiny face visible, gurgling happily and her gray eyes wide and peering around. Dany put on her boots and marched out of her rooms. He immediately chased after her, a sinking feeling in his gut. "What are you doing?"

The coat she'd put on was lined with fur. She wore her riding leathers and her boots. Lyella in a sling. Oh no. He ran down the corridor after her, forgetting his cloak. A blast of cold air hit him when he ran out of the castle after her down the path to the moors where the dragons often nested. "Dany!"

Greyworm and Jorah followed, Missandei lazily wandering after them, not perturbed in the slightest. in fact, she was amused, saying something to Greyworm in Valyrian. whatever it was did not comfort the Unsullied captain. Jorah was also concerned. "Khaleesi, what are you doing? It is too cold out here for the babe."

"I agree!" He knew what she was doing now, as Drogon woke, rustling and stretching, letting out a purr of happiness at the sight of his mother. "Dany!"

"Alyssa Targaryen took all her children up on Meleys when she gave birth, sometimes not days after their birth. It is time that Lyella experience being a true Targaryen." She turned, her arms around the bundle on her chest, scowling at them all. "Either kill me, or stand back, because I am not stopping."

No, she certainly would not, Jon thought, standing back as she expertly mounted Drogon. The dragon seemed to realize he was carrying precious cargo and released a purring sound once more, before flapping his wings slowly, and almost lazily fell to the side of the cliff, not gaining high altitude or speeding over the water. Jon stared as the two most precious things in his life flew off. He was freezing, his bones numb, and he really wished he had thought to grab a cloak. He ignored Jorah shouting after that he would catch cold, hurrying over to Rhaegal.

Viserion was the only one who seemed uninterested, remaining in his nest with a great yawn. Probably thinks us all mad, Jon thought. He mounted Rhaegal, his hands simultaneously frozen and yet burning from the dragon's heated scales. He flew off, following after them. He caught up, grinning at Dany's laugh, which fluttered in the wind. Gods I am going to catch cold. It was like flying through ice.

Eventually he returned, unable to stand it much longer, and waited in the warm entryway as Dany landed and marched up towards him, her arms still around Lyella. "And?" he asked.

She laughed again, her cheeks red from the wind and excitement. "She loved it! She was laughing the whole time!" She turned their daughter to face him and he found Lyella's eyes bright and dancing, her cheeks pinched slightly as if she were smiling. "Oh it was magical, her first dragon ride!"

Later, when Robb asked him what he thought at the sight of his wife and daughter flying away from him on a dragon, Jon was not sure. It was terror, yes, but then he had just smiled and poured them both some more ale. "She is blood of the dragon; she will learn to fly before she learns to walk."

And he was fairly certain, watching Lyella sleep that evening, that Lyella was perfectly fine with that, no doubt dreaming of dragons.

 

~/~/~/~

 

It is all mine.

Well, our, Dany thought, feeling Jon come up behind her. She stared out at the moonlit city beneath the balcony, the glow on the tops of the houses and the way it shone off the Blackwater Bay. There were still some areas around the keep that smoked, courtesy of her dragons, but it was hers.

It had been hers, all of it, for at least a month now.

She sighed, Jon's arms wrapping around her. It reminded her of when they were in Meereen, and she would stand on the pyramid's terrace and gaze out at what lay beneath her. At Dragon's Bay and the mountains in the distance, wondering if that was all she'd be able to conquer. If she could never go home. How she would stand and look out beyond Pentos, to the Narrow Sea, and wonder if that was as close as she would get.

Except now she was home.

Well, as home as she thought she'd considered Kings Landing. Dragonstone was their home. She did not like King's Landing, she thought it dirty and squalid, and she had plans to immediately start cleaning it up. She preferred the crisp sea air and the heat of her family's ancestral home. The Red Keep was too bedecked in lions and stags for her liking, it all needed to go. What remained of it.

Cersei had refused to yield, had thought that she could use the people as shields and wait out the circle of troops that had locked them in. To her shock though, the people learned that she did not have food for them. She had lied to them. They stormed the keep. Jon flew overhead with Rhaegal, after they'd destroyed the scorpions, she was trying to use to knock her dragons from the sky, shouting to the Lannister forces they could surrender. Or they could burn.

When some of them chose to fight, she encircled the keep with dragonfire. She spun around and around, she burned Cersei in her tower. She landed Drogon in the burning throne room and found Jaime Lannister sitting on the Iron Throne, his twin lying dead, her throat constricted and her eyes bloodshot from strangulation. And then Jaime tore off his face and revealed Arya Stark, who announced that the city was hers, that Daenerys Stormborn was now the rightful queen.

And she had later learned that Tyrion had tried to save his brother, the stupid man, and Jaime had smuggled into the Keep, just in time to meet the blade of Robb Stark, who Jon had smuggled in. It was a longtime battle brewing between the two scions of their families. Robb did what he swore to Jaime he would do and killed him. Arya took Jaime’s' face and did what she had sworn to do and killed Cersei.

The city needed rebuilding, the Keep did too, and for now she stayed in some of the rooms that were undamaged from the fires and the destruction. She held her daughter; she had flown to Dragonstone earlier and gathered her up and brought her to the Keep, to be there with her. Three weeks was too long to go without, and she wanted to feed her as much as possible, not a wet nurse. She sighed, patting Lyella's back. "This is ours, Jon."

"I know."

"It is hard to believe."

"Aye."

She smiled. "I was never supposed to be Queen. It was always going to be Viserys. Even when he died, I did not think about it. I just thought...thought I would be a Khaleesi. Thought that my son would be the one who would rule the Seven Kingdoms and I would just take them for him. Then he died and Drogo died..." And it was me. I realized I was the one who should rule.

He nuzzled her neck, pecking kisses along to her cheek, before she turned her face and took his mouth with hers, groaning into him softly. They broke apart a moment later, to breathe if for no other reason. She glanced at their daughter, smiling at the little face peering up at her. She tapped her button nose, humming under her breath. There was so many things she planned to do, she wanted to start as soon as possible.

But first, she had something to do.

With closed eyes, she called upon Drogon, tugging at the connection in their minds, urging him to the keep, to the throne room. She took Jon’s hand in hers. “Come,” she whispered. She glanced over at him, smiling briefly. “Have Rhaegal join us.”

In her thick black robe, with Jon following in his night clothes, a long sleeve tunic and breeches, only stopping to tug on his boots, they made their way through the keep. She instructed the Dothraki to remain behind and led Jon to the throne room. The ceiling and most of the walls were gone, the Iron Throne stood against the moon, swelling behind it, glowing eerily on the dark metal.

She moved across the ashy, snowy floor, her child in her arms, and came to stop under the steps leading to where the throne so many had died for sat upon the dais. She heard her children, all three of them, circling around. They shifted close, curious at why she had brought them here tonight.

It was something she had been meaning to do. She stroked her daughter’s little hand, peeking over the top of the furs. She cocked her head briefly, staring at the monstrosity. It was not how she wanted to rule, looking down at her subjects. There was broken and melted glass around the destroyed chamber, wrought iron lions and stags and seven-pointed stars twisted angrily in between piles of stones and rubble.

She slowly walked to the throne, her fingers lightly touching the armrest. She kept her arm tight around her baby and slowly turned, lowering herself into the hard iron. It was uncomfortable; she heard stories from Barristan how her father, in some of his fits of rage, would cut himself on the sharp edges of the swords that stood from the back. She closed her eyes briefly, thinking of all the Targaryens who sat where she sat. All the ones who died for it and schemed for it, not only among their family, but those outside of it as well. The Seven Kingdoms knew the longest period of peace and prosperity when a Targaryen sat on the throne.

Until Rhaegar ran off with Lyanna and Robert Baratheon decided it had to be his. To satiate his ego; until Tywin Lannister decided he had to have power too. Not content to be the wealthiest in the kingdom, he was embarrassed at Aerys dismissing him from court and upset that Aerys was in love with his wife, if you believed the tales, she supposed. She got it back though. Her and Jon.

And it was a shame, but it would have to go.

“You look good there.”

The words were quiet in the expansive space, the snow and ash softening any sounds. She smiled, crossing her legs and holding her daughter. “Sitting on the throne?” she teased. “Or holding a baby?”

“Both,” Jon said, approaching her, his hands in the pockets of his breeches. He was not cold, even in his thin clothes. His breath puffed out like smoke in the chill of the winter evening. The heat of the three dragons watching them with curious, shining eyes was enough, she supposed. He stopped in front of her, gazing down, saying nothing.

She moved slightly, passing him Lyella. He took her gently, turning and walking back to the center of the room. She leaned into the throne, eyes closing. Everything she had done was for this moment. For all these moments in the future, sitting in her throne, in the Keep her ancestors built. Returned to the Targaryens at last.

Shame it has to go.

It was necessary, for those that came before her, for the realm. Aegon would have to understand, as would Jaeherys, Alysanne, Rhaenyra, Daeron, and all the others. She got up and stepped down to join Jon in the center of the space. She linked her arm through Jon’s, her head resting on his shoulder. “Do you remember why you followed me?” she murmured, thinking back to those early days. To the days when she was wandering in the desert and he found her outside of Yunkai, found her in Meereen.

“Aye. You were strong. You were going to change the world.”

“Hmm, and I intend to do that.”

He glanced down at her. “What are you going to do?”

She said nothing, staring at the throne. It was so dark and imposing. So unnecessary. Just a way to show that the king was the most powerful of all time. She pursed her lips. “I am not a king; I am a queen. I will do what queens do and I will rule.” She looked at her children, who were moving closer, their throats rumbling with fire, building in the back as they turned their heads to the chair, sensing her will.

With one word, what Aegon had built and Aerys had seen destroyed, Daenerys of House Targaryen created something new.

Dracarys.

The throne that saw the end of her family, that saw the destruction of so many lives, an object of power and control, of a wheel that needed to be broken, was engulfed in the heat of dragonfire, which had created it and which now saw it melting, the swords of Aegon’s enemies turning into molten lava, seeping over the dais, hissing as it reached the cold snow and ice below.

They remained there, for a bit longer, the flames rising around the remains of the chair, and the last three Targaryens and their dragons watching, finally together where they belonged.

Chapter Text

It had taken about five years, but Winterfell had been returned, through the painstaking efforts of his brother, to what Jon imagined was its former glory. The winter had been harsh, so soon after the destruction from the Boltons and the war against the dead, and it had taken time, but it resembled the keep he'd called home for the early years of his life. Each time Jon returned, he felt as though it were the first time he was there. It was hard to believe that this was his home.

His home had been on the back of a horse for most of his life, wandering around from land to land, taking and not planting, for Dothraki do not settle. "Dragons do not plant trees", Dany had told him once, when she was tending to her lemon tree grove on Dragonstone. "But this one does."

The glass houses had been destroyed, but Robb ensured they were rebuilt, if only to provide food during the harsh winters and even springtime. It never seemed to warm in the North, even during summer, there was always a chill in the air. The maesters had declared winter over, about six months ago, and they were in Spring. He thought of what they called Robb's new son, the Spring Wolf. He was pleased that his brother had found love again, after so much loss in his life, with Jeyne Westerling, of the West. After the downfall of the Lannisters, Dany had held a council to determine a new Warden of the West. Robb had attended, as had the other Lords Paramount of the realm, and met the daughter of a minor lord of the West.

If Jon was not mistaken, his wife had had a bit of a hand in the match, doing her best impression of Queen Alysanne, if history were to be believed, of the Good Queen's penchant for setting matches across the realm.

They were there to celebrate the birth, but also for their own sort of celebration. It had taken long enough, it had not been at the forefront of their minds, but he was finally going to get Dany beneath the Winterfell heart-tree, beneath the stars, and formally pledge himself to her before his gods.

He took Rhaegal down, lower over the keep. "Papa!" the tiny voice shouted from in front of him, his daughter's little hand pointing. "Winterfell!"

"Aye," he called. He chuckled, seeing all of Robb's men waiting stoically in the main yard. They still did not seem to understand that the Targaryens did not approach via horseback, as their loyal Dothraki did, but from above. He saw Robb and Sansa on the ramparts, Arya lurking near. Bran and Rickon were not in sight, but he imagined they were somewhere below too. He patted Rhaegal's neck, urging him sharply down.

The dragon screeched, startling everyone and he flew low over the ramparts, laughing at Robb's annoyed look and shaking fist at him. He looked back, shrugging, and took Rhaegal higher, his daughter squealing happily in her position in front of him, strapped into the dragon via the harness that they had designed for her, until she was strong enough to ride a dragon herself. She had already picked Viserion, who was itching to get a rider, and he knew it would not be long before his daughter mounted her dragon and became a rider herself.

They had also discovered, rather shockingly, that Viserion was not a brother, but a sister. No one quite understood how dragons mated or produced their eggs, Dany was of mind that they could be both male and female at any given time, although Jon was not sure about that. Drogon was certainly a male as was Rhaegal. In any case, Viserion had produced a clutch of eggs beneath Dragonstone, in the vast heated grottoes and Dany had been delighted, taking the clutch and treasuring each of the three eggs, placing them in crushed velvet wrappings, in obsidian boxes engraved with ancient Valyrian and dragon symbols, housing them in the warmth of fires and occasionally taking each egg to bed.

He thought it odd at first, sharing his bed with his wife and a dragon egg, but soon thought nothing of it when he rolled over in the night and woke to see his sweet Dany smiling in her sleep, clutching a dragon egg to her breast as one might a babe. He merely kissed her and returned to sleep.

Viserion flew behind them, not wanting to let her future ride from her sight, coming to land in front of Winterfell's main gate, Rhaegal fluttering his wings to land beside her, although with a bit more fanfare, belching out steam and screaming their arrival. He rolled his eyes and patted his mount, muttering. "Enough of that, they know we are here."

"Silly Rhaegal," Lyella giggled.

"Aye, silly Rhaegal." He unstrapped her from the carrier/harness and slid off Rhaegal, reaching his arms to assist, but Lyella had been riding since she was weeks old on her mother's chest, and bounced off the jade scales easily, her boots crunching in the hard snow that remained from a spring storm. She giggled; his little Snowborn was happiest in the coldest of climes and he could tell the heat and humidity that had already settled around Kings Landing in the past few months tired her. She mostly stayed with him on Dragonstone, with the cool winds and evening storms settling her.

Quite unlike the temperatures her parents had had to endure most of their lives in Essos, he mused, taking her gloved hand. She was dressed in a similar black and red coat that her mother wore, her dark curls pulled into Dothraki braids. She waved at Rhaegal as he took off with Viserion. They both walked over to where Robb was standing inside the walls, with the rest of the Winterfell guard and staff. Barristan and the rest of their advisers and guard were there as well, arriving earlier.

Robb and everyone bowed. "Your Grace," he said, smirking, rolling his blue eye up towards him. "You made quite the entrance."

"It was Rhaegal, not I," he laughed, reaching to hug his brother as everyone stood straight again. He did the general greetings, smiling and kissing Jeyne's hand, and hugging Sansa and the rest. Even Bran and Rickon, with whom he was not close. "Where is Arya?"

"Lurking," Sansa drolled.

He nudged Lyella, who sometimes could be quite shy, forward. "This is your Uncle Robb, Auntie Jeyne, and Auntie Sansa, remember them?"

"Hmm," she said, nodding. She curtsied perfectly. "Lord Stark."

Robb laughed. "You do not curtsy to me, Princess. For it is I who bows to you." He did so, perfectly, cloak sweeping the ground.

His daughter keyed in immediately at the gray wolf on Robb's sword pommel. "Like Papa!"

"Aye," he said, lightly touching the white wolf head on Longclaw. Robb's sword was the remade Ice, the two swords that had come from it melted back into the original. It was slightly smaller, the smelting process having rendered the steel down somewhat, but it resembled the original sword, save for the pommel. It no longer went by Ice, for it was not the greatsword of House Stark, but a new one. It went by the name Icestorm, a new version of Ice for a new generation of Starks.

Robb was about to say something, when a shadow darkened over the keep. They all lifted their heads and watched Drogon make his lazy circle above, before landing just beyond the gates, his massive size shaking the ground beneath him. He turned his head, lowly growling to anyone who looked at him, and watched his mother descend easily from his wing. She walked carefully, precisely, to them and everyone bowed again, this time deeper, for she was the Queen and he was but the King.

"Lord and Lady Stark, it is wonderful to see you again," Dany announced, reaching to accept the kiss that Robb dropped to her hand and smiling as she took Jeyne's hand. "I am so happy to be here for a joyous occasion, where is your son?"

"He is with the wet nurse inside, Your Grace," Jeyne answered. "I thought it might be too cold for him."

"His name is Eddard, Your Grace," Robb said with a warm, if sad smile. "After my father."

"Of course." She reached to take Lyella's hand, squeezing lightly and gazing around, shaking her head slightly, marveling. "Winterfell truly is one of the prettiest castles here. I always do love visiting. Please, let's get everyone back to work and inside where it is warmer. Although I imagine you are all used to the cold."

"Not Jeyne," Rickon laughed.

Jeyne flushed pink. "It is far colder here than it ever gets in the Westerlands."

Sansa smirked. "Northerners are made of sterner stuff."

"Oh you hated the cold growing up."

They turned at the voice that filtered over, Arya emerging from the shadows. She arched a dark eyebrow, sauntering over and bowing. "Your Grace," she said to Dany, before rolling her eyes at him and affecting a bow, waving her hand with flourish. "And Your Grace!"

He grabbed hold of her with his arm around her neck, dragging her to him in a tight hug. "Shut it."

She giggled. "Glad to see you haven't turned all hoity toity at court."

There really was no court, not like how it used to be. No noble ladies vying for a chance to serve as Dany's ladies-in-waiting or noblemen wanting to squire or knight about. They had a small retinue of loyal servants, from her khalasar and even from his. Barristan, Jorah, and Ser Brienne all made up part of her Kingsguard, and the rest were her Unsullied and Dothraki. She was insistent that part of their roles as the rulers of Westeros extend into Essos, where she maintained trade and control over the Dragon's Bay cities and was working to eradicate slavery in others.

He smiled, following them into the warmth of Winterfell's Great Hall, the Lady of Winterfell directing and ordering everyone about. He glanced at Arya, who merely chuckled, nodding to Sansa, who looked like she'd swallowed a lemon. He found it amusing himself; she had been so used to being in control, even more than Robb, that when Jeyne arrived, she had been pushed aside and was back to being Lady Sansa.

They were led to their rooms, in the tallest tower, and once all the niceties and the meetings had been set, he slipped away from the guards, holding Lyella in his arms and carrying her out of the keep and to the main yard, where she immediately ran off with a small group of free folk children, who were playing with wooden swords. "She belongs with free folk, Crow!" he heard a booming voice shout behind him.

He smiled, turning and seeing his friend, one of the free folk leaders—although he would never admit they had leaders—Tormund Giantsbane approach him. He opened his mouth to say something, when he felt himself lifted clear off the ground by the giant man. "Fuck!" he exclaimed.

"No thank you, not pretty boys like you," Tormund said, ruffling his hair.

Jon immediately flattened his curls, which went springy under the rough treatment. He scowled. "They let you stay here?"

"Passing through back to the True North, saw the dragons, thought I'd stay." Tormund wiggled his thick red brows lecherously. "Ah...that big woman with you this time?"

He chuckled; poor Brienne. "She's inside. Leave her alone Tormund."

"Hmpf, can't get with the Silver Queen, might as well try for the guard."

"You can't handle Dany."

Tormund made another 'harumpf' sound, ruffling his furs. "Too skinny for my liking, perfect for you." He chuckled, turning his shoulders and gesturing towards a group of free folk who were gathering up supplies and putting them on horses. "Although ah, Ygritte still fancies you."

His cheeks warmed; he had been fending off the spearwife's advances every single time he visited the North. Somehow, she appeared, always trying to get him to lay with her, ignoring the fact he was married and also a fucking king. "You do this on purpose, don't you?" he grumbled. "Making sure she's here?"

"I admit it is fun. Curious to see what your wife does."

"Ygritte will be ash, you know that."

Tormund shrugged. "Still, it's funny to watch you turn into a maid."

"I'm not a maid!"

"Hmm, I only believe that is true because your kid looks just like you, otherwise I'd wonder." He looked around, frowning. "Where is my little crow?"

The crow nickname was simply because he dressed as though he were in the Night's Watch, with their thick black furs that resembled crows. He had tried to get Tormund to knock it off, until he realized it was an affectionate name for him and found he would be upset if he was called anything other than Crow. He nodded towards Lyella, who was running around with a broomstick between her knees, saying she was Visenya on Vhagar. Other children were behaving in the same fashion, including one little free folk girl who said she was "Queen Danys on Dragon!" Her names were a bit off, but it warmed his heart to see that the children were viewing her as they should—someone to admire and look up to.

He lifted his hand gingerly when Ygritte smirked at him, tossing her red hair over her shoulder. he sighed, pushing behind Tormund, mumbling something about watching Lyella. He had to get away, before Dany showed up and they were at war because she'd killed a member of the free folk. He sneaked away, slipping into one of the corridors near the smithy's entrance, his black cloak wrapped around him as he silently moved through the passages he'd used to hide in and explore as a child.

It brought him back, being here, running after Robb and Theon, and the day they'd gone to join their father as he fulfilled his duties as Warden of the North, executing a Night's Watch deserter. It was his duty, he'd told them, and theirs to witness. They could not look away, he would know. The man who passes the sentence shall swing the sword. He had had to follow through on that guidance many times as Khal Verro. He had only had to do it a handful of times as King. They had a system in place; the queen herself passed the sentence, should someone break the realm's laws. She would offer them two choices. Fire or sword. Many chose sword, not realizing that it was fire that was the quickest and most painless death. You turned to ash, nothing left, whereas the other option was far bloodier.

He heard Ghost pad along beside him, reaching his fingers down to lightly brush his companion's head. He moved to the second level, spying her on the rampart, staring down at the people below. Grey Worm and Qhono stood guard, off to the side. He nodded to Qhono, who nodded back and stepped aside to allow him to pass without word. He moved to her side, coming up slowly, and to his surprise, she called: "I know you are there."

A smile flirted over his lips. "How do you know?"

"I knew it was you all the other times, when you got close enough." She finally turned her head, smiling slowly. "My shadow."

"You haven't called me that in a while."

She reached for him, her arm going around him when he hugged her close, draping his cloak over her. The inside was lined with black fur and the outside a black boiled leather, keeping him warm against the harsh chill. The inside of his tunic was red; he liked to remind the Northern lords when they visited that he might look Stark and might have a direwolf, but he was the blood of the dragon. She nestled her head against him, gazing out beyond the walls of Winterfell to where the dragons were soaring. "It is so beautiful here."

"Aye."

"To grow up here must have been something special. Playing in the Wolfswood and in the passages."

he nodded. "It had its moments."

"Lyella seems to be enjoying herself so far."

"She loves the snow, you know that."

She murmured against him. "My Snowborn."

"Aye."

They walked down the ramparts and descended. He dismissed their guard; he had his various weapons, never without Longclaw and the dagger at his side, the knife in his boot, and even if he did miss his large arakh, he had a smaller one that the Dothraki often gave children to practice with. It was just as sharp and fit against the small of his back. He walked with her away from the keep, beyond the Drum Tower and the Broken Tower, and to the Winterfell godswood.

Ghost kept sentry, allowing them privacy, and he led her through the thicket of pine, over the slightly melting snow to the black heated pond that was beside the heart-tree. He let her run her fingers in it for a moment, before she stood and replaced her red gloves, walking around to the other side of the tree, looking at its laughing red face. he liked to think it was laughing, instead of crying.

"Your gods see you through the faces?" she asked.

"Aye. They hear our prayers. The Children of the Forest carved them." They had found runes at Dragonstone, images drawn into the rock, from the Children. "The First Men came to the North, drove them out. The Andals came and drove them north. They formed a treaty with the First Men on the God's Eye. The First Men followed their religion and prayed to the Old Gods, to the ones the Children said existed. There are still godswoods in the south, but it is hard to find the heart-trees." There used to be one on Dragonstone, but Stannis Baratheon destroyed it, burned it. Same for the one at King's Landing.

Dany touched the tree, whispering. "I remember you telling me about this, when Barristan told us about the K night of the Laughing Tree. It seems so long ago, in the pyramid in Meereen."

So many things seemed so long ago, he thought. He smiled at her. "You were surprised I was religious."

"I was," she said, chuckling. "I am not...you know my reasons. I suppose I thought for someone who had to trust only in himself and in no gods, you also felt the same."

"Hmm, I did, but I guess I never forgot this place." He gazed around, the beauty and stillness of it. He gestured to the pool. "My father would sit there and clean his sword. Robb and Theon were too...busy. They always were doing something. Could never be still. I could. I would come here. It was the only place I knew I could be...myself."

"And avoid Lady Catelyn."

"Aye, that too." She never went to the godswood, unless she knew that was where she could find Ned. He touched the tree, closing his eyes, and knelt. He prayed, just for a brief moment. It seemed everything he had ever prayed for had come true, even not being there. He'd gotten free of the slavers, he'd saved Ghost, he'd found a way to escape a dark future. He had formed his own name and his own purpose. Had found Dany. Had found family.

Protect them both, this is my constant prayer, keep them both safe, my Dany and my Lyella. He opened his eyes and lifted them to the blood red leaves, fluttering in the breeze. He felt her come behind him, touching her fingers to his shoulder. "Robb told me that he will be honored to serve as the head of household tonight."

"Good." He did not think Robb would say no, but it was a bit of a relief. He stood, dusting snow off his knees. They had finally made time, come here when Lyella was old enough to witness. It was a renewal of sorts, he supposed. They were married in their own way, in a way no one questioned, and yet this was the wedding he had wanted to give her when he realized that she was the only one he ever wanted to live his life with. when their bond was so new and solidifying into the unbreakable bond it was now.

They would stand there though, that evening, and he would wrap her in the cloak of their family, see her in a pretty white gown, and kiss her in front of the gods, beneath the stars, as all things should be done. A combination of both their thoughts regarding higher beings and blessings. Their daughter would be there, between them both. A true symbol of their love and their connection.

“The wars are over,” she mused, still touching the white bark of the tree.

He smirked. “Are you…wistful, Dany?”

“No!” She smiled. “Merely commenting. It is a peaceful time. Recovery takes time, but I think the kingdoms are as peaceful as they have been for many, many years.” She had worried they would hate her; he knew. Would fear her as a foreign invader, but they had suffered beneath Cersei and she had come with the promise of peace and stability. She had walked the streets, held the children, and it had taken time, taken patience—two things Dany struggled with—yet they looked at her as their queen.

They loved her. That was all he wanted.

It was so strange, he thought, touching her hand lightly. “You know,” he said, sighing. “I left here a bastard. Aye, I had a wolf and I had a home and a family, but it was not really mine. I was made to know that I was lucky for all of that, lucky to have the name Snow and not been left with nothing. I was going to come back after that visit to White Harbor. I don’t know what prompted the gods that day, to take me to Essos and lead me there, but…” he trailed off, gazing at her, at how beautiful and perfect she was, beaming at him. A winter goddess, he thought. He gripped her tight. “I became something there. Met you. Discovered my true bloodline and my true name. Maybe that’s why the gods put me through all of that. To take me to you.”

She reached for his face, cupping his jaw in her hands and lightly kissed him. “Pretty words, from my silent shadow,” she whispered. He warmed in the cheeks, slightly flustered. He had not realized he had been rambling. She nuzzled his nose. “We are the blood of Old Valyria; you are the blood of the First Men. Ice and fire…west and east, I suppose.”

They remained in each other’s arms, standing before the heart-tree in relative silence, basking in each other’s company and the opportunity for peace and quiet, before they were locked in constant talk and discussion. Or at least, for a short time, as the leaves rustled behind them and he turned, in time to see a flash of white as Ghost shot out like a dart and a stream of giggles followed, Lyella tumbling from the trees.

“Whoops!”

“Whoops?” he exclaimed, shaking his head as she jumped to her feet, covered in pine needles, sticks in her hair, and her braids all askew. He laughed, as Dany rolled her eyes and mumbled something about “we do not have enough clean dresses for you for this trip.” He swung her into his arms, hauling her backwards over his shoulder and spinning in a circle. “Is that all you have to say for yourself?”

Lyella squealed, kicking her feet. “Put me down! I am a Princess!”

“A naughty princess.”

“No I not!”

He dropped her to her feet, spinning her in a circle one more time, her arms aloft. He looked up as the dragons flew overhead, Viserion screaming down at them. He chuckled. “You are Lyella to me, not a princess.”

“Just Lyella?” she chirped. Her dark brows formed one line, thinking about what this might mean. “Hmm…”

He leaned forward, kissing her head, turning her as Dany made to dust off her coat. They stood in front of the tree and looked up at the dragons again, Ghost walking over to sit beside his charge, for Lyella was never out of his sight for long when she was on solid ground. He pointed up. “I remember when they were really little. As big as a goat.”

“Nuh-uh!”

“Yes-huh.”

Dany rearranged her daughter’s braids, plucking sticks from them. “Yes, he was there when they were small. In fact, your papa met me when I did not even have dragons.”

“No dragons?”

“No, it was a very long time ago. Before I was a queen.”

Lyella looked up at him, gray eyes wide with curiosity. “Can you tell me?”

He picked her up, wrapping her in his cloak, and they began to walk back towards Winterfell. “Well, it was a long time ago. You see I grew up here, but something happened, and I ended up far away, across the sea, in Essos.”

“Essos? It is hot there. I do not like it hot.”

“Yes, we know,” Dany said.

They left the godswood, Lyella leaning against him, listening intently, as he told her the beginnings of the tale of how he ended up in Essos, as a khal, and not a prince, and of her mother, the exiled princess, who was really a queen. It was a very long story, one too long for Lyella, but she would learn about it in full soon enough, bits and pieces of it as they tucked her into bed each night. She asked for it always, her favorite story, even when there were plenty more stories to tell.

It was Jon’s favorite story too, sometimes it was hard for him to realize it was real, until he would wake up and gaze down at Dany and remind himself it was not a dream and it was real. “When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east,” was what Dany told him the witch said, when she cursed her. That was when she would hold her living child in her arms. He looked up at the dragons, at the direwolf at his side, and at the children he began to hold in his arms, first Lyella and then later on her brothers and sisters, and he figured that in a world where dragons lived and direwolves ran, a bastard boy could become a king and a quiet girl could become a queen.

fin.