She was home. She should have been happy. She felt like neither was true. Determined as far as her purpose in life was concerned, yet wary of surroundings. For now she only listened to people, she felt impatient because this was not how she imagined her homecoming would be. She tries to be patient but it wears very thin.
The only thing that aroused her natural curiosity was a mysterious visit from a mysterious red priestess. For some reason the priestess urged her to summon a Jon Snow, who apparently calls himself a King in the North.
She was hopeful when he answered the call. It seemed like he was ready to acknowledge her as the rightful queen of Seven Kingdoms and yet here he is, stubborn, arrogant and haughty.
She really tried to be diplomatic, in good faith she begged the forgiveness for the awful deeds her father did to the Starks. He seems surprised by this but remains unbent. He cleverly saw through her plans to conquer Westeros in a different way to her ancestors. But he still insists that his purpose is more important. He is telling her of some Army of the Dead. Her children are magical but dragons disappeared from the face of the earth relatively not long ago. She always thought of all those stories she read in the books given to her by Jorah as a wedding present about White Walkers or Children of the Forest as mere flights of fancy, myths and legends. And now Jon Snow claims he had seen them. Does he only want to scare her, distract her?
Tyrion is silent, so she decides to explain to this Northern savage who she really is. She steps down to his level to get the message through. He listens to her intently but still refuses to bend the knee. She watches him very carefully, every gesture, every look, every grimace on his face. It is a handsome face, a face of an honest and honourable man, he is uncomfortable with praises, he is not vain and full of self-importance yet he stands his ground. He meets her gaze steadfastly. Almost incidentally she notices his eyes. Warm yet steely. She is almost hypnotised by them.
Ser Davos is stopped by him when it is mentioned that he took the knife to his heart for his people. That intrigues her. There is a mystery there. She thinks she can read people very easily. This simple Northerner should not be a problem and yet he is.
When Tyrion urges him to kneel and pledge his sword to her cause, he loses his temper, something that she thinks is his weakness, "And why would I do that?" he says in a raised voice. "I mean no offence, 'Your Grace', but I don't know you. As far as I can tell, your claim to the throne rests entirely on your father's name, and my own father fought to overthrow the Mad King. The lords of the North placed their trust in me to lead them, and I will continue to do so, as well as I can." She thinks it is a good speech, even if his 'your grace' was said mockingly, she appreciates his connection with his people but this conversation leads them nowhere nearer to her target. And she feels she needs to know more about this stubborn man.
She heard only good things about him from Tyrion although apparently not enough about the current situation. She makes a mental note to point it out to Varys.
As if reading her thoughts Varys enters the hall, rushes in her direction and quietly whispers to her that he has grave news. She almost froze but managed to get her composure back. She decided to leave things as they are. For now.
She turned her back on her guests and slowly walked back to her throne, indicating the end of the meeting. His voice stops her in her tracks.
"Am I your prisoner?" he asks. She is startled by his straightforwardness but not surprised. She does not respond for a moment. Then she half turns to him. "Not yet."
The sense of duty was always the strongest emotion he ever felt. Duty to his family, to the North, to his Brothers of the Night's Watch, to his friends, to his people. If anyone told him a year or two ago what was going to happen to him, he would probably laugh. It all seems like a blur as the events rushed at him and put him in a spin from which he cannot free himself. And now the King in the North went south. It never bodes well. Everyone seems to be telling him this. Sometimes he doubts if his decisions dictated by his sense of duty are the right ones. Once he was convinced that they were, and then he got murdered.
He was uneasy when he saw the contours of the Dragonstone on the horizon, he felt something he just could not explain. Some relief came when he met Tyrion, all the memories from more innocent times came back like a wave.
Suddenly he saw them. Dragons, for gods' sake. Dragons! One flew over him and gave him a fright but it was quickly replaced by a sheer amazement and fascination. Only Davos and he dropped to the ground. All the others never even flinched, as if seeing a huge, menacing dragon flying over your head was the most natural thing in the world. He was aware of Daenerys Targaryen having them, but hearing about the dragons and seeing them are two different things.
He did not know what he really expected. The thought of Daenerys Targaryen as an actual person had not even crossed his mind. The fight against the White Walkers was of the utmost importance to him, all other aspects of life eluded him. But then he met the Mother of Dragons. Their mother took his breath away as much as the dragons themselves.
He had seen his share of pretty women, even with his limited experience, but he had never seen an absolute beauty. Skin like alabaster, eyes like pools of crystal clear water, cascades of silver hair, inviting lips. She was tiny, yet perfectly proportioned. His heart has skipped a beat. As he took it all in, deep down he had to admit that he was intimidated. After the tirade of her titles, Davos just presented him as Jon Snow, the King in the North. He felt a bit foolish but there it was, all he was.
Her voice was pleasant and her smile was sincere, so he melted a little and offered a small smile himself. However, after the short interaction between her and Davos, the quiet annoyance started to raise in him. There she is, privileged, spoilt and arrogant girl who demands the absolute obeisance. She surprised him by admitting the evil of her own father, he would never thought this haughty queen was capable of that. And again he appreciates her honesty in admitting her hard past, for a moment he even felt a pang of pity when she mentioned rape, as he was reminded of Sansa, but part of him did not believe it; surely her life was not that hard. He is angry with himself now. He let himself be dazed and forgot his purpose.
It was hard for him to held her gaze at times but he steeled himself not to show frailty. He was thankful for Davos's interference but was forced to stop him when he mentioned the knife to his heart, it was not the time to talk about what happened in Castle Black.
He tries to explain to her how futile her ambitions are but he feels like he is hitting the wall of haughtiness.
He tried to be patient but it was never his strong character feature. He lost it when Tyrion joined his queen in demand for him to bend the knee and join Daenerys's army. They were wasting his time. He made a mistake in coming over here. He tries to tell her straight what his duties to the North are and what he thinks of her. Maybe he was a bit harsh but he strongly believes in what he is saying.
She took it well, he had to admit to himself grudgingly. Her face betrayed no emotions. "That's fair," she replied coldly. "But it's also fair to point out that I'm the rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. By declaring himself the king of the northernmost kingdom, you are in open rebellion."
This was a stalemate, he could not think of a good response. He came here to ask for her help and they could not be further apart at the moment. He was saved by someone entering the hall in a haste. The man whispers something into her ear, her face remains unchanged but he feels instinctively that something of importance had been said and he fears it is not good news. He rakes his brains for any instance that may be directly connected to him but then she addresses him in a pleasanter, practised voice, "You must forgive my manners. You'll both be tired after the long journey. We'll have baths drawn for you and supper sent to your rooms." She then turns to the Dothraki guard and gives the command in a language he had never heard before.
He looked at Tyrion but got no response as Tyrion seemed agitated and preoccupied with his own thoughts. The meeting is finished as she turns her back on him and walks away. He is left bewildered and tries to establish if they became prisoners. 'Not yet' of her response sounds ominous but at the moment there is nothing he can do, so he and Davos leave the throne room escorted by silent Dothraki guards.
They lead him and Davos through this large and mostly abandoned castle. The tall Dothraki opens the door to a large, sparsely decorated room. Stannis Baratheon must have preferred the austere furnishings so he is not surprised or concerned. He slept in worse places. As Davos is led to a different room, he is left with his thoughts. 'It was a mistake' he thinks. He should have listened to others discouraging him from coming here. At least he is not in a dungeon. He did not hear the key turned when the Dothraki closed the door behind him so at least there is that. He sighs heavily and sits on the bed.
The news was depressing. Maybe she did not think the conquest would be without the obstacles but this frustrated her. She feels like she is hiding on this island when the events are happening elsewhere, the events that she neither takes part in, nor has any impact on. This is not her. She feels powerless. She tries to restrain herself but she feels the annoyance building up in her. She is alone in her bedroom looking through the windows towards the sea. She remembers how often in the hours of desperation and frustration in Pentos she looked at the same sea, but then it was with hope and dream of coming home, now she is on the other side of the Narrow Sea, and it is not as she thought it would be.
She goes to her bed. The recent losses should monopolise her thoughts, yet her mind veers towards this stubborn Northerner. Varys is slipping. How come she has never even heard of this 'King in the North'? She cannot reconcile what she saw in his face with this arrogant and defiant stance he has shown her. He has lovely eyes, it was fascinating to see how warm they were and yet how quickly they gleamed of steel when he got angry. She angrily kicks the rug on her bed. She should not think of him that way, this serves no purpose. She forces herself to sleep, for a long time unsuccessfully.
The morning is sunny and he sees clear blue skies. He cannot remember when he last saw such good weather. The North during the winter is not pleasant. Yesterday the hot bath and hot food in his stomach helped. He is calmer now but the pent anger and frustration still boils down there. Late evening visit from Davos did not help.
"There is probably not much sense in telling you how much we are fucked at the moment?" said Davos. Jon kept silent. What else was there to say?
The Dothraki brought his things from the ship. They have taken his ship then. Despite of what she said yesterday, he was a prisoner.
He felt he needed the fresh air to think. He put on his cloak and gingerly opened the door fully expecting the menacing Dothraki guards. There is no one in the corridor, he is confused by this and slowly leaves the room. As he walks through this enormous, eerily empty castle, he prepares himself as he expects someone will stop him any moment now.
His jaw clenches as he sees a Dothraki coming his way, but he keeps his pace and continues. A Dothraki gives him a stare but then just passes him. Leaving the corridor he walks into a sort of internal courtyard. There is a group of Dothraki here, talking loudly in their own language, laughing and busy with sharpening their curved swords. They all fall silent as soon as they notice him. He swallows hard.
"How can I go outside?" he asks. He is met with the wall of silence. It lasts uncomfortably long but then it is broken by one Dothraki, standing at the back of the courtyard, "You go this way. You go to door. Left door."
Jon nods and slowly walks trying to follow the instructions in broken Common Tongue given by the Dothraki.
He goes to the cliff. As he suspected his ship is nowhere to be seen. He looks broodily towards the sea.
Presently he hears someone approaching, he should have known that him leaving the castle would not be unobstructed. Expecting the Dothraki, he is again a bit confused to see Tyrion. Alone.
Tyrion is trying to engage him into the conversation. But he has no time for word games and trivial conversations, he blurts out, "I'm the prisoner on this island." He does not really listen to Tyrion. He is angry now.
"It's hard for me to fathom, it really is," he says in a raised voice. "If someone told me about the White Walkers and the Night King…" he stops abruptly. He hears himself talking and he knows it sounds mad and he is convincing no one.
"You probably don't believe me," he says in a resigned voice.
"I do, actually," replies Tyrion.
Somehow he cannot believe Tyrion's words. "You didn't before. Grumpkins and snarks, you called them. Remember?"
Tyrion admits it but explains that after he heard about them from Jeor Mormont and now from him, he chose to believe it. "I trust the eyes of an honest man more than what everybody knows."
Tyrion's words give Jon a bit of comfort but then it raises some other issues, "How do I convince people, who don't know me, that the enemy they don't believe in is coming to kill them all?"
"Good question," replies Tyrion looking towards the sea.
"I know it is a good question, I'm looking for an answer," Jon vents his frustration.
"People's minds aren't made for problems that large," Tyrion replies calmly and goes on saying that it is more comfortable to be faced with the problem of his monstrous sister.
Jon sees that again this conversation is leading nowhere. "I need to help prepare my people for what's coming," he says quietly. "I can't help them from here. I'd like to leave."
Tyrion shakes his head and says that it is unlikely that he became the King in the North by giving up that easily.
Again Jon hardly listens to him, his thoughts are focused elsewhere. "Everyone told me to learn from my father's mistakes. Don't go south. Don't answer the summons from the Mad King's daughter, a foreign invader… And here I am, a Northern fool."
Tyrion tells him that luckily children are not their fathers. "And sometimes there is more to Northern fools and foreign invaders than meets the eye," he adds.
This finally caught his full attention. He listens to Tyrion explaining that Daenerys could have arrived in Westeros earlier and yet she stayed in Essos to help people and save them from terrible fate. He did not know that if he was to be honest. He knows nothing of her. Maybe he misjudged her? So he decides to listen to what Tyrion has to say about Daenerys. Tyrion encourages him to talk to some of the people she saved who are on the island right now. "While you're our guest here, you might consider asking them what they think about the Mad King's daughter," Tyrion says. "She protects people from monsters, just as you do. It's why she came here." He explains that it is hardly probable that she would head north to fight the enemy she has not seen on a word of a man she does not know after one meeting.
Jon grudgingly has to admit that there is some truth in what Tyrion is saying, that it is not a reasonable thing to ask, he sighs inwardly as it looks like it is going to be a long negotiation, it will take time, the time he does not really have.
Frustrated, he starts to leave but is stopped by Tyrion's question, "So, do you have anything reasonable to ask?"
He is definitely not good at these word games, he would rather have a straight question. "What do you mean?" he asks.
Tyrion sighs as if he was talking to a child, "Maybe you are a Northern fool. I'm asking if there's something I can do to help you."
Jon thinks for a moment. So far his mission looks like a disaster but maybe there is a way to accomplish half of it. He explains to Tyrion that they would need dragonglass to fight the White Walkers and there is a mountain of it here on Dragonstone.
Tyrion stays silent for a while. "I'll see what I can do with this," he says. "I'll talk to my foreign invader," he half smiles at Jon, "Meanwhile you should cheer up a little. There is only some amount of broody Northern fool I can take."
Jon smiles reluctantly, he always liked Tyrion, even if he did not always appreciate his sense of humour as he should. They both turn and walk slowly back to the castle.
In the afternoon she goes to the war room and looks again at the Aegon's map. When she read about his conquest it all seemed so easy if bloody but now she is trapped on the island. She is doing nothing. It is hardly a conquest.
Her frustrated thoughts are interrupted by Tyrion coming in. He relates to her his conversation with Jon Snow. She trusts, likes and appreciates Tyrion but at the moment her impatience and frustration prevents her from thinking clearly. Dragonglass! What kind of insanity is this? She lost two allies and they are talking about dragonglass.
She listens quietly to Tyrion explaining his plan to steer Jon Snow into becoming their ally but soon her mind wanders. She recalls this mystery of Jon Snow taking a knife to the heart. Tyrion dismisses it as dreary Northern stories but she remains unconvinced and intrigued. One day she must ask Lord Snow what it was all about.
She is lost in thought, when she realises that Tyrion asks again if she would allow Jon Snow to mine dragonglass. "I'll think about it." She replies and stops Tyrion from talking with one look. She needs to be alone again, she leaves the room. She goes outside to her favourite spot from where she watches her children flying. Looking at them free and playful always calms her mind. Her solitude does not last long, however.
"Amazing thing to see!"
Jon Snow. Well, she cannot avoid him all the time. And at least there is no arrogance or anger in his voice.
"I named them for my brothers," she offers. "Viserys and Rhaegar. They're both gone now." She turns towards him. "You lost two brothers as well?" She sees a cloud going over his face as he nods and looks down. At least there might be some common ground between them.
"People thought dragons were gone forever, but here they are. Perhaps we should all be examining what we think we know." There, there is her outstretched hand towards the potential ally, Tyrion should be proud of her.
"You've been talking to Tyrion," he says quietly looking towards the sea. He is not easy to talk to. He does not even look at her. What an annoying man! She promised herself to be calm but if he refuses to look at her she turns her gaze away too. She knows it is childish but she cannot help herself. Those gloomy men of the North, they are all alike, exactly as in the books.
"He is my Hand," she tries to keep annoyance from her voice.
"He enjoys talking," he says in his deep voice and he still does not turn to her. Ugh!
"We all enjoy what we're good at," again she tries to hide her annoyance.
"I don't," he says and she is forced by her own curiosity to look at him, lost in thought. 'Well done, Jon Snow, you surprised me again,' she thinks. She presumes he does not like fighting, a bit unusual for a warrior as she thinks he is, she has seen the scars on his face after all. She looks at his face very carefully. For a moment she is reminded of what Ser Barriston Selmy said about her brother she never knew. Rhaegar did not like fighting either despite being a great warrior. There is something to this Jon Snow after all. Another mystery, she sighs inwardly. 'Why am I so bad at reading this man?' she thinks. He stays silent and continues to stare at the sea, she feels she has to make him look at her at least.
"You know I'm not going to let Cersei stay on the Iron Throne?" she asks in frustration.
"I never expected that you would," he finally turns and looks at her.
"And I haven't changed my mind about which kingdoms belong to that throne?" At least now she has his full attention.
"I haven't either," he replies harshly, looking straight into her eyes. They have a staring contest for a moment. Both looking at each other in anger. She would have gladly continue this as she has a lot to say what she thinks about it, but for now she only glares at him and annoyingly he glares back. She knows she had made a decision already and she needs to tell him about it but he makes it so hard. Deeply frustrated she turns her gaze away from him. She tries to calm down.
She lets the silence between them, broken only by the waves hitting the beach, calm her and regain her composure.
"I will allow you to mine dragonglass and forge weapons from it," she says finally in the most matter-of-fact tone she can muster. She cannot look at him at first, she does not trust herself enough. But she eventually raises her eyes and looks at him, noticing her words having an effect as his eyes turn to her and his body faces her again as she continues to speak, "Any resources or men you need, I will provide for you."
He is silent for a moment, she thinks he looks surprised but finally he says a heartfelt 'thank you'.
Well, she won that battle. And as he is silent she turns away from him, letting him know that the audience with the queen is finished. As she won, she wants to stay victorious. But for some reason he lingers and he asks if she believes him. What an annoying man indeed! Her reply is not an answer to his question but rather an order from the queen.
He finally leaves her. She is relieved but she cannot help herself, and making sure he would not notice it, she turns her head and looks after him.
That annoying, stubborn, arrogant Northern man is intriguing, she does not like being that intrigued by men, she had always read them so easily. Why is this man a problem? His face is open and honest; why does she have such problems with it? She knows his face will be bothering her again when she goes to bed as it did yesterday. She is really angry with herself.
Other times it would be entertaining to listen to the stories told by Davos about his life, but not today. There is nothing for him to do here. The threat of While Walkers is hanging over him and here he is, doing absolutely nothing, trapped on an island forsaken by gods. As much as he tries not to listen to Davos, there is one story where his ears are pricked. Davos talked to Missandei; well, he could hardly talk to Dothraki, as nearly none of them speaks Common Tongue. This story is about how Daenerys got her Unsullied Army. Davos is a good storyteller and he finds it funny how Daenerys tricked the masters of Yunkai, including burning one of them.
For Jon however, there is a totally new aspect of looking at the story. It tells him that her priorities are noble as she freed the enslaved soldiers who then followed her, he presumes, out of gratitude, but still they followed her to the foreign land. Some gratitude indeed. But it also suggests that she may be mad as her father, she burned the man after all. Yet no one was enraged by it, quite contrary to it, they followed her. Is she cruel or kind, is she arrogant or determined? It bothers him. She bothers him. It annoys him more than he can acknowledge to himself.
Before he fell asleep last night, he tossed and turned in his bed as his mind kept coming back to the moment he saw her for the first time. It still takes his breath away when he thinks of it. As much as he tries, he is unable to get it all out of his mind, her eyes, her lips, her skin, her voice, her hair, her… body. Gods be good, he feels himself blushing even now. It makes him so angry that he wants to slap his own face, he should not be thinking about things like that. His purpose and his duty to the North are above all. He is angry at himself but he is angry at her for making him think about her. He needs to stop doing that, starting immediately would be the best.
"I need a walk," he tells Davos, standing up.
"Do you want some company?" Davos asks.
"No, I have to think."
He does not want to go to the cliff again, he does not want to chance upon Tyrion again. He needs to be alone. He chose to go to the bridge where he saw dragons for the first time, he hardly saw them since and some part of him is inexplicably drawn to the dragons.
It is just his bad luck that she is there too. Just as he thought he could stop thinking about her. She is so tiny. Her hair is positively shining in the sunset light. Well, he cannot pretend he did not see her, it would be rude if she saw him, and as much as she annoys him he came here to negotiate.
One of the dragons, a greenish one, swooped over him, the other is flying in the distance. He is breathless to see them, they are magnificent if scary as hell.
He does not want to sneak upon her. "Amazing thing to see!" he says loudly from a short distance.
Without turning to him she explains that she named them after her brothers who are dead now. And then she asks about his own brothers. His good humour just vanishes away immediately. His mind goes to Robb, butchered by the Freys and poor little Rickon who died within yards of him reaching. Wars. They are what brings unhappiness to the world. He stares at the sea but in his eyes it is armies rushing at him, and blood, and gore, and death. Wars.
She seems to be inclined to believe him, mentioning that people did not believe dragons could be real again. That is the result of her conversation with Tyrion, he presumes. He is such a good talker that maybe all is not lost yet. She says that we all enjoy things that we are good at. Well, he does not. He is tired of fighting. If he could, he would never touch the sword again.
And there she is, talking about that throne of hers again. Of course he knows she is determined to have it. That much is obvious. But same goes for him. They chose him to be the King in the North and he can see no reason for him to reject it now. Although he promised himself he would be avoiding looking at her he is facing her now. She has to understand that he is not a sheep to be ruled over that easily. She is angry, he can clearly see that. But so is he. This arrogant, stubborn, proud queen annoys him so much. He cannot remember if there was anyone who annoyed him that much throughout his whole life. Her face is full of anger; her beautiful face, her annoying face.
She turns away from him. He is so angry, he wants to say something but thinks better of it and turns away from her too. He sighs. Not even Tyrion can help this situation with all his clever talking. She is stubborn, arrogant, infuriating… He is woken from this angry inner rant by her voice. For the reasons he cannot understand, she agrees to the mining for dragonglass. He is flabbergasted when she adds that her men will help him. A warm wave rushes through him. He was just thinking those awful things about her and she just gave him the kindest gift. He felt immediately guilty. In all this, all he could say was 'thank you'. He wanted to say more but there were such emotions running through his head that he could not think of anything more. And then she turned away from him, signalling their conversation is over.
Does it mean she believes him? Does it mean she is going to help him? Does it mean they are going to be allies?
"So you believe me then, about the Night King and the Army of the Dead?" he asks hopefully.
She does not answer immediately. He is on tenterhooks. He watches her exquisite face closely.
"You'd better get to work, Jon Snow," she says in a cold voice.
Right, he knows he expected too much. He looks at her for a short moment but as she gives him no further sign, he walks away briskly.
The long stairs give him time to process it all. She agreed to mining but she does not believe him. So stubborn, so irritating. Not even 'Lord Snow', just 'Jon Snow'. Such an annoying woman. And what annoys him more is that he is inexplicably drawn to her. Ugh, this is so exasperating.
He goes straight to Davos. On hearing good news, Davos is immediately happier. He starts to plan how they are going to organise the mining and forging weapons. "We need at least fifty men to mine it quickly and then some for weapons and we need probably more ships to transport the dragonglass that is mined, so they can start making weapons in Winterfell," he muses. Jon smiles gently at his friend thinking aloud. They are interrupted by Missandei.
"Our Queen invites you to supper with her," she says gently smiling.
"Tell her I will be there," he replies quickly.
Missandei pauses, "My lord, Our Queen invites you and Ser Davos both. We will be happy to welcome you in a dining hall in an hour."
"Of course, of course. We will be there," he stammers. He is embarrassed especially as he sees in the corner of his eye Davos smiling very happily at him, as if he had heard the funniest of jokes.
Missandei bows and leaves them.
"You were very eager to meet her alone. Did you think it was the invitation for intimate supper?" Davos chuckles.
Jon is unable to meet his eye, "We need to change for supper," he says quickly and even quicker leaves the room to the sound of a gentle mocking laugh from Davos.