They hold hands on all of their outings and they silently dare anyone to speak of it. Doreah ignores the stares, Daenerys glares at the whispers. By now at least Kovarro has figured out what is going on, or as much of it as can be figured out: it’s only logical, he’s the one to stand guard outside the khaleesi’s quarters most nights. He has pieced it together, and they assume he is – if not understanding, then at least accepting, so he’s taken to running interference with the others.
Daenerys keeps Doreah close because it’s easier to trust her that way.
The khaleesi may keep anyone close that she chooses and it’s nobody else’s business.
Khaleesi Daenerys cares for her own and that takes many forms, including keeping them close when they are in need.
The girls are thankful and go along with the provided excuses, and most of the khalasar seems unfazed, or as unfazed as they're going to be. Only Jorah seems to truly ignore what now is almost painfully obvious.
They hold hands and it could mean any of the things Kovarro says, maybe it means all of them. Dany sometimes catches herself looking askance at the brunette, trying to read her features and cursing that she can’t. She wants her explanation, but she cannot push, she knows this.
It may be a while. Doreah only speaks when spoken to, if then. She is polite enough when she needs to be, but she’s half a ghost, a part of her stayed behind somewhere and the rest of her suffers for it. Everyone can see that much, at least, and they give her a wide berth. It’s superstitious, really.
The day before they set out to sea, Daenerys asks Kovarro to please escort them one last time to the market. Doreah braids her queen’s hair and has hers braided by her queen in return, and they step out just like a pair of normal women.
“I want you to pick out some things for yourself,” Daenerys says as they begin to look around the stalls.
“I don’t need anything,” Doreah replies immediately, deflecting. “I have all I need already.”
“Please?” Dany asks, inwardly cursing the desperation in her tone. “Let me do something for you. We will need to blend in to different societies, after all.”
“We?” Doreah echoes faintly.
“Where I am, I want you to be,” Daenerys says, becoming equally timid as she adds, “If you want to be.”
They walk in silence past vendors upon vendors, both thinking, or trying to think, of what comes next. It’s in front of a cloth-seller that Doreah finally murmurs, “I don’t know what I want.”
Dany focuses on a bolt of green silk to keep from showing the concern on her face. “Oh?”
“I – rather I know what I want, just not how,” Doreah continues. “I want to be something that I’m not, but I don’t know how to begin.”
“You have your freedom,” Dany says, trying to disguise the way she chokes on the implication behind the words.
“You gave it to me,” Doreah corrects. “I do not have it anymore.” She lowers her voice, draws arms around herself. “Only someone who trusts themselves is truly free.”
After exchanging nods with Kovarro, Daenerys reaches for Doreah’s hand and tugs her gently to a private spot. “Are you ready to speak of it?” she asks softly.
Doreah’s eyes go dark and she nods just slightly. “I am easily manipulated,” she begins, echoing her refrain of late. “I meant to keep your dragons safe, to keep you safe – it’s what Irri wanted too, and then one of the men – he wrapped a cord round her neck and just held. I resolved to cooperate right there, seeing the life drain out of her.”
Daenerys stares down at her hands, willing herself not to cry. “I had never dreamed such a thing would happen,” she whispers.
“None of us had,” Doreah agrees. “I had thought, we had all thought, that once we were in the city, we might be safe, that you would keep us safe, and then this came from nowhere and you couldn’t, could you?”
Daenerys bites her lips together, says nothing.
“They fed me these lies,” Doreah explains, softening her tone. “And they sounded so sweet. Sweeter certainly than Irri’s fate, though she was much braver than I. I am still afraid of death.” The tears have welled in her eyes but do not fall, and her voice does not waver. “They needed me, too. I was the one who could handle the dragons. So I did.”
“They did not force you to –”
“I cannot tell you all of it yet,” Doreah says, so simply there's no mistaking her meaning.
Daenerys nods again. “Forgive my asking,” she half-whispers, swallowing the bile in her throat.
“They tried to tell me everything was your fault,” Doreah continues. “That were it not for you, none of this would have happened.”
“It would not have,” Daenerys interrupts, her own voice shaky. “In this they were right, I –”
“You are not to blame,” Doreah says firmly. “I chose to follow you, to try to protect you. And I let myself be swayed.” She meets her queen’s eyes, startling herself with her directness. “They wanted me to blame you, and for a while I did. If I am to be free, I must be allowed to own my actions.”
This chastens Dany some, and she scuffs her toe against the ground for want of something more helpful to do. “Am I not allowed to want to protect you in return, though?” she asks.
“You are,” Doreah agrees. “But I must protect myself, too. I must be able to.” A silence falls over them; Doreah takes Dany’s hand and idly strokes her thumb, a gesture designed to be of equal comfort to both of them. “I scare easily, but I am the only one who can change that.”
“May I at least help?” Daenerys presses. “I admit that I feel responsible for you, even if I know I shouldn’t. It is difficult for me to stop feeling that way toward those I love.”
Doreah’s not sure why her jaw drops at that. She has seen looks on the other girl’s face that could be thus attributed, and gods know many of her actions could only be explained by it. She has said things that mean the same, but the proper word falls differently somehow. Doreah feels a matching declaration on her tongue, she knows despite everything they’ve been through or maybe because of it that it is genuine, but she cannot force any sound out.
Daenerys does not hold her breath for the word to be returned, and she does not feel anything but understanding at the pause. She knows their situation, whatever it is, is far more complicated than a simple exchange of words, and she expects very little accordingly.
Finally, Doreah moves just enough to gather Dany in her arms, still silently; in the way that she’s only ever done with the person before her, Dany tucks her head into the crook of Doreah’s neck, slides arms around her waist tenderly.
“Are we going to be expected back soon?” Doreah whispers.
“We can take our time.”