A/N: I am incredibly sorry for the ridiculously long delay in updates. Lost my muse for this one for a time, but it appears to be back. Yay!
The silence between them was quite literally deafening.
Did she truly expect him to be the one to strike up a conversation after she'd just threatened to have her dragons burn him alive if he ever thought to betray her? It didn't exactly inspire confidence. Regardless, Jaime Lannister had never excelled at keeping quiet, nor being told what to do — no matter who did the telling.
"What are you—" He began, but stopped short when Daenerys cut him off with her fierce gaze.
"Do not ask me what I'm going to do with you. I don't know what I'm going to do with you; I only know that I'm not going to kill you."
"Good enough for me."
With a heated look in Jaime's direction, Dany pursed her lips as she watched him simply shrug her decision off as if he could care less. How could he be so nonchalant? Most men would have fallen down to their knees with grateful tears running down their cheeks as they thanked her for such mercy. But not Jaime Lannister. He was so incredibly frustrating.
As soon as they exited the catacombs, the two Unsullied soldiers from before joined them. At least, Jaime assumed it was the same two from before. It was a bit difficult to be sure considering they appeared to be an army of eunuch clones.
Thinking back to his recent brush with death, he cleared his throat as they began to approach the colossal fortress.
"I thought you had three dragons."
"Dragons. Three of them."
"Numbers haven't always been my strong suit, but I believe I counted two."
"Drogon. He . . . disappeared, a few weeks ago."
Jaime kept quiet at this revelation, but Daenerys could see his hesitation from the corner of her eye.
What in Seven Hells am I doing?
Narrowing her eyes, Dany clenched her small fists to her sides. Already she was providing the Kingslayer with valuable information that he could be trading with his sister. Of course, from now on he would be watched so closely that he wouldn't be able to so much as draw a single breath without her knowing. Still, the thought left her deeply unsettled.
"I'm surprised your soldier isn't here with you." Jaime commented after another moment spent in silence.
Whether he could feel her discomfort on the former topic and had decided to change it, Dany couldn't be sure. It seemed a gesture entirely too kind for him to commit. Either way, she was almost grateful. Almost.
"No, not Barristan; the one who beat me to a bloody pulp. Didn't catch his name in between the various blows to my face. Strong fellow, dark hair," Touching his left hand to his chin, Jaime raised his eyebrows in a mocking imitation of whom he spoke. "Beard."
"Ah, right. Daario Naharis."
Dany arched an eyebrow. "Was there a point to your question?"
"Just surprised he left your side. He seemed very . . . attached in the throne room."
"He felt his queen was threatened and he protected me. He did his duty."
"Of course! A shackled, starved man who hadn't seen the sun in over a week. I certainly must have been a terrifying threat to behold."
"Is this all you're going to offer me? Petty arguments? Because if this is it, you can return to your cell and rot."
Jaime tried but failed at hiding the smirk that greeted her words. He could see that Queen Daenerys's patience with him was growing thin, but couldn't resist the temptation of paying her back after the gruesome little stunt she'd just pulled in the catacombs. However entertaining he found the situation to be, he knew he needed to control himself.
"All right then," Opening his arms wide, he gestured, signaling that he was an open book ready for the taking. "What would you like to know, Your Grace?"
Dany watched him with careful eyes. How had this man survived serving kings as long as he had, talking the way he did? He was absurdly arrogant, and she had a feeling that he didn't just act this way when he was around her.
"Your brother told me to ask you about the night Robert Baratheon's rebellion came to an end. The night you murdered my father."
As if I needed a bloody reminder.
Resisting the urge to roll his eyes up to the gods, Jaime nodded. "Is that where you'd like for me to start?"
Of course Dany wanted to know what Tyrion meant when he'd told her that Jaime had done the right thing in killing her father, but she didn't think that was a story she was quite ready for. Not yet.
"No, I want you to start from the beginning."
Over the next several minutes, the unlikely pair entered the great Pyramid and climbed story after story until they settled in her council chambers. Although her Unsullied usually guarded the outside of her quarters, they made an exception due to the Kingslayer's presence, and stood at the entrance with their swords by their sides.
Smoothing out her skirts, Dany took a seat at the council table, signaling for Jaime to do the same.
"How did you come to be a member of my father's Kingsguard?"
Following Daenerys's lead, Jaime sat down across from her.
"I squired for Lord Sumner Crakehall for a time. When I was thirteen I won my first tourney melee and was quickly thrust into my first battle; the battle against the Kingswood Brotherhood. That same day, I was knighted on the battlefield by Ser Arthur Dayne. After that, people began to take more notice of me. One of those people happened to be your father."
"And why would you choose to devote your life to the Kingsguard at such a young age? You had your whole life to live."
"Curious, aren't you?"
Jaime couldn't help but feel a bit flattered by her interest. Daenerys, however, did not look too pleased with this assumption.
The truth. Jaime had to remind himself often that this was what was required of him now. Nothing more, nothing less.
"Well, it seemed simple at the time. I was in love, and that's what I thought I had to do to be with the woman I loved."
Dany paused in thought. She understood that he meant Cersei, and she knew better than anyone that you couldn't choose who you fell in love with. Truthfully, Dany didn't even begrudge him the fact that he was referring to his sister. However, she did not understand his declaration considering the fact that once a person became a member of the Kingsguard, they renounced all rights to titles and marriage.
"You joined the Kingsguard to be with Cersei?"
"Yes, you could say that. You see, on my way back from the battle I returned to Casterly Rock where my dear sister informed me that my father was planning to wed me to Lysa Tully. Neither of us could allow that, so Cersei suggested that I vie for a position on the Kingsguard. That way, I could stay with her in King's Landing."
Setting her arms forward on the table, Dany nodded her understanding, willing Jaime to continue.
"My father was enraged, of course. After all, I'd destroyed his legacy and title all in one fell swoop. He feigned illness and resigned from his position as your father's Hand. Seemed Cersei hadn't foreseen this awful hitch in her brilliant plan."
"But my father, he was impressed enough with you that he anointed you as the youngest member of the Kingsguard?"
Jaime scoffed. "Your father didn't give two shits about me. Your father wanted to rob my father of his heir, and that's exactly what he did."
Dany froze, frowning as she processed his bitter accusation. "And you know this to be fact?"
Jaime thought on that, a slow albeit cold smile crossing his features as he did.
"I didn't know for sure in the beginning, but by the end . . . by the end your father often bragged about it. He found it a great achievement; stealing Tywin Lannister's firstborn son. The only son he infamously cared for. Still, I suppose we both got off easy compared to the countless other sons and fathers Aerys burned alive when disobeyed."
Dany's large eyes widened despite her wish to look indifferent. Turning her head away, she took a deep shuddering breath while gripping the edge of the table.
Jaime watched her reaction with a slightly clenched jaw. He could see that he had given her a lot to process. Poor girl. They were only getting started.
Sensing her unease, he frowned as he saw the tiny crease in her brow begin to worry, strangely finding that he did not enjoy seeing her so troubled. Hoping to perhaps soothe her, he cleared his throat and continued on by changing the subject.
"I much preferred spending time with your brother."
"My brother?" Dany inquired, clearly caught off guard. The only brother Dany had known was Viserys; a brother who had been cruel to her since the day she was born. Of course, he couldn't mean Viserys. He had to have meant . . .
"Rhaegar was a good man. He was a good leader. Smart, determined, strong-minded and just."
"They say he took Lyanna Stark against her will; locked her away in a castle and raped her. Is this true?"
"I cannot speak for the dead, Your Grace, but those rumors do not reflect the man that I knew.
Jaime kept quiet as he let Dany take his words in. After a few seconds, he gently continued with his story.
"The last night I saw Rhaegar, I begged him to let me join him at the Trident; to face Robert, but he insisted that I stay back to guard Elia and his children. I nearly defied his orders, but he promised me that things would be different upon his return."
"What do you think he meant by that?"
Jaime hesitated, remembering the deadly serious look in Rhaegar's eyes that night all too well. Eyes that haunted him; eyes that he saw in the young woman currently sitting across from him.
"I think he meant to overthrow your father. He knew better than anyone that Aerys had truly lost all sanity."
Dany nodded slowly. She was amazed at how easy it was to talk to Jaime about his past; almost as if he hadn't been the one to change her entire future.
"You said you spent time with him?"
"Yes. As a matter of fact, I was with Rhaegar the first time I got well and truly shit-faced."
Dany raised an eyebrow at his vulgarity, but did not chide him, instead urging him to elaborate.
Jaime chuckled at the memory.
"One day, I was part of the guard that walked through the city with Rhaegar. Of course, he hated having a royal escort wherever he went. He liked blending in among the common people; he even liked to sing to them."
"He loved it." Jaime smiled at the memory. "In fact, Rhaegar would walk up and down King's Landing, singing to the people just like all the other minstrels."
"What did you do?"
"I made sure no one killed him, and I collected the money."
"He was good?"
"And what did he do with the money?"
"One time he gave it to the next minstrel down the street. He'd taken over the man's usual perch, so it was only fair." Counting off his fingers, Jaime continued. "Another time he gave it to an orphanage in Flea Bottom. And another time, well, like I said; we visited a tavern and he got me well and truly pissed."
They shared a laugh.
"And did you sing with him, Ser Jaime?" Glancing into the direction of his missing hand, Dany tilted her head. She'd nearly forgotten that he was without his sword hand, as the golden prop had become a good substitute. "Perhaps play an instrument?"
Lowering his gaze, Jaime chuckled. "Can't say that I did. Even before I became a cripple, I was never particularly musical."
"What happened?" Dany finally asked, her gaze lifting from his arm to his face.
Jaime wavered, surprised that she had not already heard his gruesome tale. Nevertheless, he continued as if unabashed.
"After escaping Robb Stark's camp, I was held prisoner by one of his bannermen, and . . . got a little cheeky, I suppose."
"No — you? Cheeky?" She feigned surprise.
They shared a small smile. It was nice to see her smile for once. She wore it as beautifully as the silk gown that clung to her figure.
"I suppose there is a sense of irony; loosing the hand that I used to kill your father." He admitted.
"Yes, there certainly is." She agreed.
Before another breath could be taken, the sound of nearly a dozen footsteps interrupted their pleasant moment of silence.
"Pardon, Your Grace," Tyrion began as he burst through the open chamber door. "I apologize for the intrusion, but there's news of the Sons of the Harpy."
Coming to a full stop as he realized just what he'd interrupted, Tyrion's eyes narrowed slightly when he saw Jaime seated at the end of the table.
"What news?" Dany asked.
Behind Tyrion, Ser Barristan, Darrio Naharis, Mossodor and Hizdahr zo Loraq filed in and quickly took seats surrounding the table where Daenerys and Jaime currently sat.
"We've captured one, Your Grace." Ser Barristan announced.
"Sons of the Harpy, they want to put a collar back on my neck. On all of our necks! Your Grace, you must kill him!" Mossodor pleaded.
"It would send a message." Dany agreed.
"I think you should exercise restraint, Your Grace." Tyrion suggested.
"Why?" Dany inquired.
"For one thing, he may have valuable information."
"The Son of the Harpy has no more valuable information." Daario interjected, his eyes flashing from Tyrion to Jaime as they sat side by side.
Whatever sort of camaraderie the sellsword may have felt towards the youngest Lannister clearly no longer mattered now that Jaime was here. In fact, the man's dark eyes were full of hatred as he glared at them both.
Jaime stifled the urge to laugh.
"How do you know that?" Tyrion demanded.
"Because I questioned him." Darrio replied simply.
"And the information you did get? He is young and—" Hizdahr cut in.
"He is born free." Mossodor insisted.
"Why should he want to bring back slavery? What did it do for him?" Hizdahr exclaimed.
"Perhaps the only thing that gave him pride was knowing that there was someone lower than he was." Dany intervened.
"They pay him. Great families afraid to kill. They pay poor men to do it for them!" Mossador accused.
"And how do you know this?" Hizdahr demanded.
"Everyone know this." Mossador answered, matter-of-factly.
"I don't know it, and I'm the head of a great family."
"Here, in Meereen, before Daenerys Stormborn, the slave-masters own us; so we learn much about them, or we do not live long. They teach me what they are. All they understand is blood!"
"Thank you all for your counsel." Dany said, not unkindly as she dismissed them.
Jaime watched as everyone around him stood, following their Queen's command; albeit Daario doing so begrudgingly. Making to do the same, Jaime rose from the table, but stopped when Daenerys abruptly stood from her own chair, moving towards him.
"Not you. Now it's your turn to counsel me."
"You've been awfully quiet; just when I thought you couldn't possibly be capable of such a trait. Was it not you who claimed you could make me better than my father? Talk is cheap, Ser Jaime. I require action. Now."
Jaime stared at her in awe. Perhaps there was true fire in the girl yet. Perhaps she didn't even need her dragons to back her. More and more, she was beginning to remind Jaime of her older brother. How proud Rhaegar would have been.
Proud and fearful, Jaime mused.
Tapping his hand over the edge of the table, Jaime pressed his lips together as he reflected on what little he had heard of the city's recent bout of insurgents.
"We don't know what this man did or didn't do," He began slowly. "Give him a trial, at least. A fair trial. Show the citizens of Meereen that you're better than those who would depose you. Teach them a better way."
"You wish for me to give a murderer a fair trial? The man isn't even denying his crime—"
"You asked my advice, Daenerys." Jaime interrupted her, his green eyes kindling.
They stared at each other, the air between them pulsating and thickening as they both took notice to his sudden use of her name rather than her title.
"You want to be different from your father? Here's your chance."
Dany's eyes did not waver from his as she slowly nodded in agreement.
I am not my father.
"I will not have the Son of the Harpy executed without a fair trial." She announced.
Jaime started, taking a moment to admire her leadership, as well as her ability to take advice from the man whom she'd known as the enemy her entire life. "Would you like to continue from before?"
"No, I think that's enough for tonight, thank you." With a nod in the direction of the two Unsullied, Dany looked to Jaime once more. "Please escort Ser Jaime back to his chambers."
Pausing briefly, Jaime started, but then leaned his head towards her in a slight bow, his voice surprisingly genuine as he made his departure. "Your Grace."
A/N: Lots of dialogue in this chapter! And okay, so I totally stole a few of Barristan's lines and gave them to Jaime. But you know what? I regret NOTHING. I love the idea that Jaime is the one giving Dany all of the information; the good and the bad. As always, I'd love to know your thoughts.