A/N: Usually I write book 'verse, but episode 4x06 gave me an idea for a follow up moment between Dany and Jorah. (Let's be real: they need all the moments they can get before the inevitable occurs. ;)) Enjoy!
A Simpler Time
"I praised our accommodations to Hizdahr zo Loraq," said Daenerys without preamble as Jorah stepped through the double doors into her personal apartments, "but I find one thing in this pyramid severely lacking."
He did not immediately respond, but allowed himself one moment's indulgence in the sight of the queen at repose, after the long day of maintaining a regal demeanor as she held her first court. She stretched out on a velvet couch on her stomach, reading. (From across the expansive room he recognized the worn and unwieldy tome as one of the books that had been his wedding gift to her, which made him feel inordinately pleased.) One of her hands was tucked beneath her chin; the other dangled languidly over the side of the divan as if she'd reached for the goblet on the low table beside it only to give up because it required too much effort. Her dainty feet hung in the air, crossed at the ankles, legs bared as the upward angle at which she bent them caused her silvery violet robe to pool about her thighs.
Dragging his eyes back up to her face, Jorah cleared his throat and said, "Tell me what it is, my queen, and I will see to it you have what you require."
Daenerys smiled-the fond expression which he was quite certain, especially in light of her recent words—my dearest friend—was reserved only for him. "I've already asked Ser Barristan to procure cushions for me."
A dimple flashed in her cheek as her lips twisted upward in a smirk, accompanied by a playful glimmer in her eye as she lowered her legs and pushed up on her elbow to roll a little more onto her side. The new position provided a clear view of the curves of her breasts above the low neckline of her robe, but Jorah's gaze followed the movement of her hand to her backside, which she rubbed lightly.
"My bench is too hard."
"Oh." Jorah could not keep the chuckle from his voice entirely, but he supposed it disguised the tightness of his throat. "The Iron Throne offers even less in terms of comfort, I should imagine."
"Remind me why I want to reclaim it?"
Though she spoke in jest, Jorah sensed the underlying falter in confidence which the queen had previously voiced to him-and him alone-after the last meeting of her council, so he answered with the seriousness she was due.
"Because it is your birthright," he said, stepping nearer to her couch, "and because you will rule from it with justness and goodness."
"With you at my side." The robe fell over Daenerys' legs as she drew them in to sit upright. "But here I complain of a sore arse when you stood through two hundred supplications."
It was true, Jorah's feet did ache. He'd just sunk gratefully onto a bench in his own quarters and tugged off his boots when the queen summoned him. He had even groaned, which made Missandei raise her eyebrows; that she was not in possession of her usual blank composure was a testament to how grueling the day had been for all of them.
Still, he shrugged as if his comforts, or lack thereof, were of no consequence. "I have been on more wearying marches, your grace."
"Is that the standard for my court, then? So long as it's less tiring than a starving march through the Red Wastes? I've put you all through a number of ordeals. Come." She patted the space beside her on the divan. "Rest with me. The Meereenese wine is good."
Not quite Dornish red, Jorah thought, tasting it, but he'd drunk enough piss poor wine this side of the Narrow Sea to appreciate a drinkable vintage. He lowered himself onto the couch beside her, mindful of the cracking of his knees and taking care not to sit or slosh the contents of the cup on the trailing hem of her robe as she tucked her legs beneath her so that more of her weight rested on her hip than her arse.
He drank again. The last thing he needed to be thinking of more than he already did was the queen's shapely backside.
"You've endured all that we have, Khaleesi."
"Mm." She murmured her agreement into her goblet, eyes shining at him over the brim. "There's perspective. My hard bench doesn't compare to being saddle sore."
Years had passed now, yet Jorah well remembered lifting her down from her little silver mare an evening or two after her wedding, stiff and scared despite his feeble attempt at encouraging her, that her marriage bed would get easier.
"Do you ever miss those days, Jorah?" her voice broke into his reverie.
He knew she referred to the months they'd ridden with Drogo's khalasar. He thought of stalks of grass which grew higher than a man. A poor substitute for the ancient oaks and pines back home, yet he'd felt more at ease in the vastness of the Dothraki Sea than he had in most other parts of the eastern continent. It was green, at any rate.
"Aye," he answered.
"It was hard," Daenerys said, "learning the Dothraki ways…dealing with my brother…But it was simpler, too. Somehow."
"That at least applies to the Dothraki style of conquering."
"I was happy. For the first time in my life I knew love." She caught Jorah's gaze and tapped her goblet lightly against his. "And friendship."
"It was the same for me," he confessed, and they raised their cups to their lips and drank, as though in a toast.
Rubbing his chin, Jorah said, "There was certainly a measure of security I miss now, of being in the company of Khal Drogo and his ten thousand riders."
Daenerys giggled at the jape, her shoulder brushing against his as she shifted her legs so that she leaned on her other hip. When she'd settled again, she did not move away from him. At first Jorah sat rigidly beside her, recalling a time when she'd rebuked his touch as being too familiar, but little by little he relaxed, and he allowed himself to trust this return to the physical closeness they had shared in those simpler times, before she guessed the depth of his feeling for her.
Did that mean she had grown comfortable with the idea of his love? That she might even return it?
His heart leapt at the thought, but he reigned it in. More likely, she thought he'd put aside that unchivalrous emotion, exchanging it for the more proper love of a knight for his queen. Or perhaps she had never guessed it was more than that after all. He did not doubt that she loved him, after a fashion. My dearest friend.
"What do you think Drogo would make of all this?" Daenerys gestured with her goblet, indicating her expansive apartment.
"The Dothraki never dared attempt to breach the walls of Meeren."
Jorah remembered how the khal had looked at his wife when she swallowed the last bite of the horse's heart, and kept it down. How his own heart had filled with a love he had not then been able to name-though it had been powerful enough for him to give up home.
"He would be proud of his khaleesi for conquering it. As was I, watching you hear your people's supplications today."
How far she'd come from the timid girl-bride who'd asked him how to say thank you in Dothraki.
At the mention of her husband, her eyes shimmered, and Jorah did not miss the roll of her pale throat as she swallowed, hard. At the reference to himself, Daenerys moved away from him to place her empty goblet on the table and sat quietly, without looking at him, for so long that he feared he'd overstepped. As he'd done in Qarth. Damn him to seven hells. She mourned her khal yet; her gaze, Jorah also recalled, had been as fiercely adoring that day in Vaes Dothrak as Drogo's.
"Forgive me if I spoke too freely, my queen. I am tired—"
The brush of her fingers on his cheek silenced him. Jorah did not dare even to breathe lest he miss the slightest sensation of her touch, from the softness of her skin to the rasp of his stubble against it. That was drummed out by the rush of blood in his ears as she leaned still closer replaced her fingers with her lips-too briefly. But her hand lingered at his neck, tracing the white scar made by Qotho's arakh, all but faded now, just as she had the night she told him not to fear.
When she drew back, she smiled.
"I'm tired, too," she said; as if to prove the claim, she leaned her head against his shoulder. "And I will most certainly not forgive you for speaking just what I needed to hear. "
Jorah let out his breath, relieved. Even so, he felt he could do with another drink. When he had steadied himself with a swallow of the rich vintage, he said, "There is one thing I would address, Khaleesi."
Daenerys lifted her head, regarding him as she had her petitioners: hands folded placidly in her lap, suggesting patience, yet her eyebrows peaked in curiosity. He couldn't stop the pull of a grin at the sight of her little bare feet not quite touching the marble floor.
"Only that I am a little concerned that every goat and sheep herder in Meereen will slaughter his own flocks when word gets out that the queen pays threefold in reparations for Drogon's damages."
Her laughter rang out at that, and as Jorah's own chuckle rumbled beneath it, his thoughts turned once more to their days in the khalasar, when they had laughed often together like this with her handmaids and Rakharo by a cookfire after a long day's ride. Simpler times, indeed. She looked so young and fair in her joy. Was it any wonder he had fallen in love with her?
"Thank the gods Malakho and Kovorro found a way to remove those golden statues from Xaro Xhoan Daxos' gardens so my coffers can afford it," Daenerys said.
But as their laughter faded, her grin became rueful. "If only fraudulent goatherds could be the most troublesome of my new subjects."
"If only," Jorah muttered in agreement. Hizdahr zo Loraq's petition had brought a swift end to any fantasy that Daenerys' rule over this city would be without complication.
"We haven't seen the last of him, have we?" she asked, and Jorah was not at all surprised their thoughts had turned to the same place.
"I fear not, your grace."
He watched the muscles work in her cheeks and on her forehead, drawing her brows together. With still more than two hundred supplicants left to hear after that, there had not been time to discuss Hizdahr zo Loraq. Jorah could see she wanted to ask him what he had made of that audience, and of her judgment-both today with regard to the burial and weeks earlier when she ordered that the Masters be crucified.
He could also see that the lids of her eyes were beginning to droop, that they were rimmed with dark circles of fatigue. When her mouth opened wide to cover a yawn, her reflexes were slow as she raised her hand, too late, to stifle it. Jorah yawned, too, and could no longer ignore the leaden weight of his feet, his toes pinched in the confines of his worn boots. He did not trust himself to offer useful advice in this state, which Daenerys was plainly not of a mind to receive.
"Hizdahr will keep till your next council meeting," he said.
Once again he feared he'd offended when she moved away from him, leaving his shoulder cold where hers had been pressed to it. But only for a moment, as she refilled both their goblets from the decanter of Meereenese red on the low table.
"Let's drink again," she said, the tips of their fingers meeting as she passed his cup back to him. "And think of simpler times."