Author's note: This chapter is dedicated to indomitable NoOrdinaryLines – thank you for your unwavering support.
She was wrong before. 'This has to be the best awakening of all,' she tells herself. She was woken by a tender kiss on her lips, and then the kisses continued along her neck, her breasts, her stomach, her inner thighs and finally got very intense when he reached her core. She arched her back as the pleasure was just too much to handle, her hands were desperately grasping the sheets. And then his fingers joined his lips in taking her to the lands of absolute bliss. It did not take long for her to cry in ecstasy.
Her body is still reverberating with spasms of rapture but she tries to steady herself as she is determined to reciprocate the pleasure to her gentle but passionate lover. She turns her head to look at Jon and is met with the gaze full of love and desire.
For a moment she feels like crying as her mind recoils at the realisation that the only thing that she could give him to make him truly happy is beyond her reach. He deserves so much more. He should have children to help to build a better world. She knows that she has trapped him. Her barrenness is like a thorn in her side, more now than ever before. She wants to change the world but Tyrion was right. How does she plan to achieve that when there is no one to leave it to?
She hopes that if any of them should die fighting the Night King, it would be her. Thus Jon would be free to marry someone else and realise the dream of a new, better world. She knows that if anyone is capable of that it is Jon. Her beautiful, honourable, kind, wise and just Jon. If her life is the price for his happiness she would gladly pay it. She knows he loves her but maybe in time his heart would heal and he would find happiness again. He deserves to have it all.
"What's wrong?" asks Jon anxiously. 'Oh, you stupid, weak woman,' she berates herself inwardly. She lost control over her face and apparently he saw it. Now is the time to fight for the living as long as they can draw the breath and not drowning in dark thoughts. To hide her previous thoughts she rolls over onto him and tries to drown him with her kisses. Fortunately for her, he is easily distracted.
When he woke up, he rather felt than knew that it was much later than usual. No surprise there, as they finally fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning. He turns his head to look at the lovely face of his wife, sleeping soundly beside him. As always she takes his breath away. It still seems unbelievable to him that he was so fortunate. There is this nagging thought at the back of his mind that he does not deserve her.
When he looks back, he cannot believe where he ended, considering where he started. He never planned any future for himself, apart from dying on some frozen field fighting the Wildlings.
He looks at her calm, peaceful face and his heart melts at the sight. Love is the death of duty. Maester Aemon's words haunt him. His duty to protect those who cannot protect themselves has driven him all his life, but now a different aim seems to guide him, above his duty. He wants to survive for her. If he dies, it might break her heart, because deep down he knows she loves him at least as much as he loves her. And he cannot bear the thought of breaking her heart. She gave his life a true meaning. And he wants to spend it with her. It is a selfish thought. Quite out of his character, and yet he cannot help himself. He never thought that going to Dragonstone would change his life forever. He recalls how he saw her for the first time and how stupidly he fought with his feelings towards her later on. 'Waste of precious time,' he tells himself.
He knows that their grim reality is waiting patiently behind the door of their room and there is nothing they can do about it, even if they deserve some more happiness on the first day they face the world as husband and wife. She is asleep and she needs a rest but again this newfound selfish streak in him makes him hungry for her. He wants to worship her body. Now. He cannot wait. Patience was never his strong suit.
It scares her how quickly a morning of perfect bliss could turn into a horror. She still does not understand how Bran can see those things and yet Jon seems to believe him without a shadow of a doubt.
The news shook everyone. She vaguely remembers a young boy, Lord Umber, surrounded by much older men, when he informed Jon on their decision of going home. Now apparently Last Hearth is gone or rather empty. During the discussion between Jon's and her advisers and few Northern lords, she observes thunderous face of Jon, who sits silent without looking at anyone. Hesitatingly she puts her hand on his fist. Only then he turns his gaze towards her, his eyes are full of sadness and quiet anger, but when their eyes meet there is a shadow of a quick, reassuring smile on his lips.
"Drogon and Rhaegal are near," she whispers to Jon. "I can call them, we could fly and see for ourselves." Despite her whisper, she unfortunately chose a moment when there was a lull in the discussion. All eyes turn to her but she only looks at Jon. He seems to be mulling over her proposition.
"It's dangerous, Your Grace," says Tyrion in a quiet voice. She knows he is worried about her and she appreciates it.
"We live in dangerous times, Lord Tyrion," she replies gently and gives Tyrion a sad smile.
"But," interposes Jorah," what if you encounter the Night King riding…" He does not finish and she knows why. He was about to mention Viserion. She closes her eyes as sharp pain shoots through her heart. She feels Jon's hand covering her own now and gently squeezing it.
She does not participate in the rest of discussion that ensues as her thoughts are full of Viserion. She does not even react as that annoying Lord Glover's terse remarks. She feels that tears are welling up in her eyes so instead she focuses on fighting them. There is something wrong with her these days. She has never experienced being so weepy before, it is a weakness and she has to remind herself again and again that queens should not show weaknesses.
But she looks down the hall where Arya stands in the shadows and their eyes meet.
He blames himself. He should not have let Lord Umber go back to Last Hearth. He should have protected them. Anyone else would look for excuses. Not him. It does not matter that it was the day when his mind was elsewhere. It does not matter that his personal life was in a turmoil. He should have stopped them from going. He should have insisted on Umbers coming all to Winterfell instead. And Wildlings. Now they are gone. Probably incorporated into the Army of the Dead. It is all his fault. He lost focus that day. And since that day he has been more interested in spending time with Daenerys than concentrating on the war. Well, maybe that is not entirely true but still… Nevertheless he blames himself.
He curls his hands into fists. He is very angry at himself. And he should have known this day will be bad because when he left Daenerys he met Sam and Bran. These days each time he sees them together, he shrinks internally. They are his own harbingers of doom.
Daenerys places her hand on his hand and he tries to calm himself. She looks worried, to be honest everyone looks worried. Suddenly he feels tired. Of this war, of people talking at him, of people squabbling, of constant problems. Just tired of fighting with it all.
She proposes that they fly to Last Hearth. Maybe it is not a bad idea. Both Tyrion and Ser Jorah try to dissuade her from it. He sighs.
"So again Winterfell will be without the King. Or should I say without the Queen now?" Lord Glover joins the conversation.
"I think that is enough, Lord Glover!"
He is surprised that Sansa spoke in such a harsh tone.
"Neither the King nor the Queen are abandoning Winterfell or the North for that matter," Sansa continues rebuking Glover. It is time to intervene.
"Lady Sansa is right," he nods towards Sansa and gives her a grateful look. "The Army of the Dead is coming. We need to focus and get prepared. Ser Jorah, Grey Worm, you're responsible for the Dothraki and the Unsullied to get ready. Be sure that everyone has dragonglass weapons. I want everyone to remember that unless you have a weapon made of Valyrian steel," he looks briefly at Ser Jaime sitting in the far corner of the hall with Ser Bronn, "the only real option is dragonglass. The same goes for Lord Royce and Lord Glover as far as the Knights of the Vale and Northern armies are concerned. It's time to meet the real enemy."
He is silent for a moment.
"One more thing," he says in a deep voice. "If anyone from our side is killed… make sure… that you plunge a dragonglass weapon into them… to avoid the White Walkers turning them into wights. We don't want to fight our own."
Arya followed her out of Great Hall into the courtyard. Daenerys looks at her intently and gives her a small smile.
"You should put some really warm clothes on," she tells Arya. "It's colder up in the air."
She enjoys seeing Arya's eyes lit up. They seem to understand each other without too many words. She feels that she understands Arya better than Jon does, to be honest, and she admires her courage. 'I really like this girl. She is a true Stark, so much like Jon' she tells herself. Suddenly she feels embraced for a very quick moment. She smiles at the young warrior. Arya's face remains impassive though.
"Your Grace," says Arya finally. "How did your third dragon die?"
The smile disappears from Daenerys's face. She is silent for a while. "Viserion," she finally replies quietly. "The Night King pierced his heart with a spear." She feels the tears gathering up again.
Arya looks at her with a very intense stare. "We will avenge him," she says in a cold voice.
Daenerys smiles weakly as she is fighting the tears. "We will."
"I have to get ready then," says Arya in a firm voice.
Daenerys only notices now, but a young man was listening to their conversation and he walks briskly towards them. He stops suddenly when he hears the warning growl from Ghost who stands by Daenerys.
Both women turn their heads to look at the man. Daenerys seems to recall that she must have seen him somewhere before but she cannot place him. "You can't be seriously going on that thing?" he says accusingly to Arya, "It's not safe."
"Shut up," says Arya impolitely. And as Daenerys looks at him quizzically, Arya introduces the man. "Your Grace, this is Gendry."
Only then Gendry looks at her, quite haughtily she notices. "I'm Gendry," he says. "The bastard son of king Robert Baratheon."
The silence between them is tense. Ghost growls again menacingly, Daenerys's eyes are narrowing.
"Why does that beast growl at me?" Gendry asks Arya.
"Because you threaten the Queen, you idiot," replies Arya coldly.
"I done nothing," he defends himself.
"I haven't done anything," corrects Ser Davos who suddenly joins their little group. "I beg your forgiveness, Your Grace," he says gently. "Flea Bottom of King's Landing is not the best place to learn manners, even for a young man with some brains. But he is a good lad. I vouch for him. And he was part of the expedition beyond the Wall."
Daenerys looks closely at Gendry. Yes, now she remembers him vaguely from the ship.
"And thanks to his perseverance, we were able to send a message to Dragonstone."
"I must thank you then," says Daenerys graciously. "Without you, we wouldn't be able to get the proof for Cersei," she hesitates for a second, "even if it all came to nothing in the end. But at least we were able to save our men and some of them are very important to me."
Davos smiles gently, looking at the ground.
"Yes, well, I'm sorry about your dragon though," Gendry replies with uneasy sincerity.
"Your Grace," prompts Arya.
"Yes, Your Grace," finishes Gendry obediently.
Suddenly Daenerys feels a strong hand grabbing her waist possessively. Before she has time to react, she can hear the voice that is for her the sweetest in the world, that of her husband. She leans gently into him.
"What is it all about?" asks Jon.
Gendry notices Jon's gesture and slowly raises his eyes to Jon's, smiling knowingly. But then his face changes. "Arya plans to ride a dragon today," he says quickly, addressing Jon.
"WHAT?" asks Jon with face like thunder.
He stands in the middle of his room, looking around, trying to figure out where in the seven hells are his clothes and other stuff. Not that he has much but still…
"I had your things moved to the Queen's chamber."
He turns to face Sansa. "Oh, right, thank you, Sansa." She is standing in the doorway, leaning on the doorframe and looks at him with a worry in her face.
"What is it?" he asks her.
She does not reply for a moment. Then she straightens herself up but she lowers her gaze to the floor. "So this is it then?" she asks hesitatingly. "The war is upon us."
"I'm afraid it is," he says gently. "You should be safe here. We will try to steer them away from Winterfell. And I ordered Grey Worm to leave two hundred Unsullied inside the castle. They're good soldiers. They will protect you," he tries to reassure her. "And they're not so wild as the Dothraki." He smiles at her.
She nods but still does not look at him. "Jon," she sighs deeply as if she was steeling herself to say something that is hard for her to tell. "What do I do if you don't come back?" She finally meets his eye.
Now it is his turn to sigh deeply. "You fight."
"Fight?" she looks at him in disbelief. "I'm not Arya, I don't know how to fight."
"I didn't mean you taking up a sword," he smiles again. "You'd do what you are best at. You organise, support and give your strength to others who are weaker than you."
"Sansa," he interrupts. "I can't promise you that everything will be fine. It will be hard." He looks at her closely. "I think you prefer the truth from me, don't you?" She nods quickly.
"And if I don't come back but we will win, you will be the strong leader the North needs." He does not know what else he is supposed to say to her. The situation is grim and there is no sense in pulling the wool over her eyes. "The people around you are good people that you can trust, Davos, Tyrion,… even Varys. They will guide you in good direction." She remains silent. "Now that you got rid of Little Finger, the only worry is Lord Glover," he smiles at her again. "But I'm convinced that you'll know how to deal with him." She finally gives him a small smile.
"There is one thing I need to ask you though," he says after a while. "I'd like you to support Daenerys when I'm gone… You don't know her well but she is the hope not only for the North but for all Westeros. Westeros deserves a good ruler if it survives the White Walkers. And she is all that."
"I know," replies Sansa to his surprise. "She is not what I thought her to be."
He wants to ask what it means but he has no chance as Sansa continues. "Don't worry, Jon. She's family. And I love my family."
As words fail him, he walks towards her and places a soft kiss on her forehead as their father used to do.
"Thank you, Sansa. For everything."
"Thank you, Jon"
He turns to leave the room but is stopped by Sansa's voice. "And one more thing… come back safe."
He smiles, nods and walks out of the room. He goes to Daenerys's chamber. Maybe he should stop calling it that. As it is now their room, if he was to be honest, it was from the first night since they arrived at Winterfell. He smiles to himself as he recalls the nights he spent there. 'No guards, no Daenerys,' he tells himself as he looks down the corridor. So he turns away and goes out into the courtyard. He sees her talking to Arya. From what he saw in the previous days they really seem to hit it off. Their characters are not unlike so he suspects that they respect each other. He looks at them with warmth. His two absolute favourite people in the whole wide world. He was walking slowly towards them but he stops suddenly because of what he has just seen. Arya actually embraced Daenerys. Well, he did not expect that. But then he starts again and even quickens his pace as he sees Gendry approaching them. In all that commotion, he never once mentioned to Daenerys who Gendry really is. He fears that there might be trouble. He sighs inwardly with relief when he sees Davos joining them. He trusts Davos to diffuse any problems if they arise but still he needs to be there too.
Then Gendry news about Arya shocks him to the core.
"Absolutely not," he says angrily. "It's far too dangerous. In fact, I don't want you to go there either," he looks at Daenerys. He was too hasty. He can almost see the clouds gathering in her eyes.
"As much as I appreciate your concern," she says icily, moving away from him, the sudden lack of the warmth of her body leaning against him is painful, "I have already decided to go with or without your consent."
He winces. "That's not what I meant…"
"And as for Arya," interrupts Daenerys, "I believe it's up to her if she wants to go. She is wise enough to appreciate the danger."
"I'm going," Arya chimes in.
"Look," he begins calmly, "I know that both of you are brave and can take care of yourself, it's just…"
Once again he is unable to finished the sentence. Dealing with stubborn women seem to be his destiny.
"It's just that you love us and you're afraid for our safety," Daenerys concluded his very short speech. "I understand but we're going," she smiles and once again leans into him, but this time she takes his face into her hands and places a deep and tender kiss on his lips. His arms embrace her as it is his second nature now. When they finally part, he shakes his head at her but he smiles and she smiles back.
"Ha!" exclaims Davos. "That's the one trick I can't pull when I try to convince Your Grace to do something." Davos smiles at him mockingly. "Well played, Your Grace," Davos slightly bows to Daenerys.
For the first time ever he sees a healthy blush on her face. He watches her rapturously.
"We need to change then," declares Daenerys to cover her embarrassment. Arya and Daenerys walk away together.
"Well, I'm still not happy about this," says Gendry, pointing his finger at Arya.
"I'm sorry lad, but there is no one here left to kiss you," quips Davos. Gendry walks away in a huff.
Suddenly Davos chuckles. Jon looks at him surprised.
"Do you remember how I asked you once about her?" Davos says smilingly. "What was it you said? There's no time for that, was it?" he teases.
Jon gives Davos a weak smile. "Seems like ages ago."
"Yes, it feels like it," Davos gets serious for a moment. Then the cheeky smile comes back anyway. "But I knew even then. You can't fool the old fox like me." Davos looks at Jon searchingly. "Now you just have more reasons to live. You have a future. And your future children will need you. Don't be too eager to lose your life. You don't have to be the last man standing on the battlefield."
"I don't…" Jon tries to interrupt.
"The queen and you love each other. That is obvious even to the blind man. Build on that. Westeros needs you both to get rid of all this shit that is there." Davos pauses for a moment. "I lost my own son for no valid reason as it seems to me now. If you forgive me, Your Grace, I look upon you as my son, and… and I don't want to lose one again." He clears his throat. "I guess what I'm saying is… just be careful. You and Daenerys."
Jon smiles at Davos gently. "I'll do my best," he says in a quiet voice, putting his hand on Davos's arm.
"No!," Davos reiterates. "You must do much better than that." They stand for a while in silence, then Jon embraces Davos quickly and pats his back.
Davos grunts something unintelligible, looking at the ground and leaves him. Jon looks at the retreating figure.
As they walk into the castle, Daenerys looks at Arya with newfound interest.
"That boy, Gendry," she begins gently. "He seems to care for you."
Arya looks at her with an unreadable face. "We are friends. He was helping me when I was escaping from King's Landing."
Daenerys smiles to herself. "It looked like it was more than that."
"I don't care about that," says Arya quickly. They walk for a bit in silence. "He told me I was pretty."
"That's because you are," says Daenerys. Again the silence followed. When they are almost at her door, Daenerys turns to Arya and they stop. "Revenge can't fulfil the whole life. It can be a part of it, but there is so much more to life. I thought that my destiny to restore Targaryen rule was my sole purpose in life. And all I've suffered was to get my reward. I wanted to crush my enemies, kill all those that hurt my family. And yet now I'm fighting on the same side as Jaime Lannister who killed my cruel father and son of Robert Baratheon who killed my brother and ordered the killing of the rest of my family. And I love a man who was raised by Ned Stark who helped to destroy Targaryen rule. My purpose in life changed and I'm much happier with it. Now I want to fight for the right to live a peaceful life with your brother by my side. And… Gendry seems like a good and honest man. Maybe he needs a bit of polishing in general but he is not bad to look at." She looks at Arya with a gentle smile in her eyes.
Arya lowers her gaze. "Maybe later. Now I have to change into warmer clothes." She looks into Daenerys's eyes. Daenerys cannot be sure but there seems to be a definite twinkle in Arya's eyes. But then she nods slightly and walks away. 'I can't even hear her move. So stealthy,' thinks Daenerys as she looks after Arya's retreating figure.
She stops with her hand hovering over the door handle and looks towards Tyrion walking in her direction.
"If I have a moment of your time, Your Grace?"
She nods and opens the door, she walks in followed by Ghost and Tyrion.
"Whatever it is, it must be quick, I need to change," she says in a firm voice.
"Obviously, Your Grace," concedes Tyrion. "You are readying yourself for the battle…"
She knew that the silence from Tyrion since she told them about her intention to marry Jon meant something. She expects a lecture and she is somewhat annoyed by it.
"I expect you came to try to change my mind?" she tries to keep the annoyance from her voice.
"May we sit, Your Grace?" asks Tyrion gently. "This pacing of yours to and fro makes me a bit nervous."
She nods, she is not fair to Tyrion. She chose him as her Hand, so at least she should listen to what he has to say. She tries to calm herself and assumes her regal poise. Out there in the courtyard she behaved like a spoilt little girl and what was worse she is afraid she made Jon look silly. It is unforgivable, a queen should not behave like that in public. She vows to make amends.
"Your Grace, I've been thinking… No, this is not where I want to start… I've been in love twice in my life." She turns her head in his direction. This is not what she expected at all.
"Twice I was unlucky, it ended badly. The second time was even worse… Is there wine here? I think I need wine." Tyrion looks around the room.
She points to the table in the far corner of the room.
He walks slowly to the table and pours himself a generous amount of wine. "Will you join me?" he asks.
"No, I don't think I should," she replies quietly. "Not now."
"Ah, yes, the battle," he muses. "If we are to die maybe it is better to be drunk and happy before. Anyway," he walks slowly back to his chair, "it is not about the battle I want to talk to you."
She almost wanted to hurry him but then she thought that it seems important to him. And she owes him that.
"As I was saying, the second time I was truly in love, I killed the woman I loved because she betrayed me. Twice over. Hmm, twice seems to be a theme here." He takes a long sip of wine. "Oh and by the way, I also murdered my own father at the same time. Twice the murderer on the same night. That night part of me died. A huge part of me. " He sips his wine again. "Well, maybe not 'huge' huge because I'm but little, yet let's call it a substantial part of me died." He sighs and sips again. "Since then I became even more cynical than I was before. I mean not wholly cynical as I found new purpose in life – serving you. Because I believe in you," he glances at her intensely, then his eyes turn to the contents of his goblet.
As it is getting emptier by the minute, Daenerys stands up and goes for the big carafe and she brings it to where they are sitting. Tyrion smiles at her guiltily.
"But I came to the conclusion that love is the worst advisor when it comes to life's decisions. It blinds us, it makes us impulsive, it makes us dangerous. Look at my deranged sister! She claims to love her family, in Jaime's case literally, and that love made her a monster." Another long sip of wine. "You were right, my Queen. I love my family and that love blinded me to the point that I got outsmarted by people who are not that smart. I let you down."
She tries to say something at that but she is stopped by Tyrion's commanding hand gesture. "No, it is true. My plans mostly failed. I didn't see clearly. I wanted the best of all worlds. I'm ashamed to admit that I was unbelievably naïve."
"Maybe this is too much wine, Tyrion," she says quietly.
"There's no such thing as too much wine, when you try to drown your misery, Your Grace," Tyrion downs the rest of the wine and reaches for the carafe. He pours another copious measure.
"But then I saw you and Jon Snow, or Aegon Targaryen as he is known to his friends," he winks at her and she is worried now. He will be drunk soon, if he is not drunk already. She should stop him but she feels sorry for him.
"You are both…" Tyrion stopped as the door opened suddenly and Jon walked in.
"Ah, the other half of a glorious couple," he is greeted by Tyrion holding his cup high. Jon looks at Daenerys with unspoken question. She shrugs her shoulders.
"As I was saying to our Queen, you, Your Grace," he looks at Daenerys, "and you, Your Grace," he looks at Jon, "are two extremely worthy people who are truly in love and, despite my misgivings about love, I believe in you both. You two are the best that could happen to Westeros in my humble opinion. Long live Queen and King of Westeros!" Tyrion raises his cup and then drinks it all.
"You're drunk, Tyrion," says Jon annoyed.
"That may as well be true. But I need to say another thing." Tyrion gets up from his chair, a bit wobbly. "I apologise. It was my fault that we lost Dorne and Greyjoys, it was my fault that Viserion died, it was my fault that we got no support from Lannister army, and since the Wall fell because the Night King used Viserion, it was my fault that that the Wall fell and the dead are marching on us. Once again I apologise. Your Grace if you want your pin of the Hand back, I completely agree with your decision."
"That is enough," says Daenerys coldly. "Self-pity is not the quality I admire about you, Lord Tyrion."
"Ah, yes," nods Tyrion. "I've been told something similar by my dear friend Varys. Maybe I should begin paying attention?"
"Tyrion," says Jon calmly, "no one is saying or believing that everything is your fault. We are about to face the worst enemy this world has ever known. You can't be drunk now. You're staying with my sister and others in Winterfell and they will need your clear head and common sense. Put your head into the bucket of cold water and help others because they need you. We need you sober." He ended on a more aggressive note that he intended to, but it seems to take an effect on Tyrion. His face is serious and his eyes are focused on Jon's face.
"You're absolutely right. I made a fool of myself." Tyrion turns his gaze to Daenerys. "I am sorry, Your Grace. I'm not drunk, my head is surprisingly strong; years of practice, I suspect. However I meant what I said that I understand if you want the pin back. And I meant it when I said that I believe in you both."
"I don't want my pin back, Lord Tyrion," says Daenerys gently. "We need you. More than ever now."
"Thank you, Your Grace," Tyrion's eyes seem to be brimming with tears.
"One more thing before I go," Tyrion keeps switching his gaze between Daenerys and Jon. "I don't think I've said it before. I'm very happy for you both. You found each other and that in itself is a miracle. You deserve each other, in the best sense of the word. Just… bloody come back alive. Please."
Tyrion nods and leaves the room, no longer wobbly.
Jon looks at Daenerys and they smile at each other. "Did you hear? We're the bloody miracle." He pulls her to him and hungrily kisses her.
When they part, she puts her hands on his face. As he thinks she is about to kiss him again he is more than ready. But her face is serious and worried. "I'm sorry," she whispers.
He does not understand. "What for?" he asks stupefied.
"For how I behaved in the courtyard, just now."
"Why? What did you do?" He still does not understand.
"I made you look foolish," she says. "I'm sorry."
"You did nothing of the sort," he kisses her nose. "Now, you said you needed to change. I think I can help." He starts to undress her. War or no war, he wants her very badly. Suddenly he stops. "Wait!"
He walks towards Ghost who sleeps lazily stretched near the fireplace. As Jon approaches, Ghost raises his big head and whimpers softly. "Ghost, I think you should leave now. I don't think you want to see what is about to happen, boy." He can hear Daenerys chuckling behind him. Ghost looks towards Daenerys. "It's all right, boy, I'm here now. I can protect her now. At least from others." Daenerys chuckles again. He walks Ghost to the door and closes it behind him.
"Why did he get so protective of you?" he asks.
"I don't know but I feel safer with him," she smiles at him happily.
"At least until this moment," he says in a deep voice.
"We'll be late," she says but does nothing to stop him, she begins to undress him too.
"Sometimes the world has to wait," he says and drowns any further protests from her by devouring her lips.
"Don't be afraid," she says reassuringly.
"I'm not afraid" replies Arya.
Daenerys smiles slightly. "You need to hold on fast to his neck spikes," she explains.
"What if I need to use my hands?" asks Arya bluntly.
Daenerys looks at the big bow on Arya's back and a massive sack full of arrows attached to her belt. "Well,: she muses, "if your thighs are strong they would be of some help but you could easily lose your balance and…"
"And die," finishes Arya. "I know, Jon would be livid about that." They share a sly smile.
"Why would I be livid?" asks Jon as he walks towards them. "What's that?" he cries pointing at the bow.
"I think it's pretty obvious," Arya replies coolly.
"Don't be smart," he says angrily. "Why do you need that?"
"You never know what might happen. The Needle is useless here but I've got my dagger."
"You won't be anywhere near to use it."
"That's why I'm taking bow and arrows with me."
"Please, stop it, both of you," Daenerys interrupts in a tired voice. As much as it is entertaining to watch them squabble, there is no time to waste. Jon and she wasted enough time already. Their armies are ready to march.
"Let's just figure out how to keep her on the dragon when she wants to shoot," she says. A quick thought runs through her mind, she mellowed. She cannot remember when she last had so much patience with petty squabbles.
"Why don't you have a saddle?" asks Arya suddenly.
"Good point actually," agrees Jon.
Right, now her patience has worn out. She turns on her heel and walks towards her Dothraki guards. "Bring me a long, strong rope." While she waits she observes her children. She knows them well. They seem agitated. From time to time they look up to the sky and whine. She sensed it first as she approached Drogon. Her bond is not so strong as she would have imagined. She knows that something is wrong but she does not know why. And there is no one she can just ask. Maybe it was the bad idea to take Arya with her. She herself does not feel all too well. Maybe this is it. Maybe dragons feel that she is uneasy about something. She is worried.
When she gets the rope, she walks back to Jon and Arya who by now just stand sulking, not talking to each other. She hands the rope over to Jon. "Just tie us together."
"It's madness," says Jon quietly but he carefully coils the rope around her waist and around her shoulders, then he does the same to Arya. When he finishes he just sighs deeply and then he looks into her eyes.
"I know," she says gently to his unspoken plea. He smiles weakly and takes her into his arms. He holds her longer than she expected. Finally she raises her face to him. He looks at her lovingly but then his face changes. "What's wrong?" he asks anxiously.
"I don't know," she replies frankly. "Do Drogon and Rhaegal seem strange to you today?" she finally asks.
He thinks for a moment. "I don't know them as well as you do. But yes, Rhaegal seemed a little nervous. But I thought that maybe he changed his mind about me. Even if he let me touch him."
She sighs deeply.
"Maybe we shouldn't fly them today?" Jon offers.
"No, we should go as we planned," she says after a while.
He kisses her hard on the lips. "Be safe," he whispers.
"You too," she whispers back. He then walks towards Arya and embraces her before planting a long kiss on her forehead. Daenerys is happy to see that Arya hugs him back.
Daenerys then slowly mounts Drogon and when she sits comfortably, Arya repeats her steps.
Daenerys watches her as her eyes get even bigger than they already are. And there is a smile of true happiness on Arya's face.
She waits for Jon to mount Rhaegal and then she says 'vlar' to Drogon. Despite her earlier anxiety, Drogon flies seamlessly. She sighs with relief.
Even though he suspects what may happen today, he is happy to see dragons again. He missed them. He walks towards Rhaegal assuredly and unlike the last time, Rhaegal seems to be glad to see him and the first thing Jon does is stroke Rhaegal's head. Now he understands what Daenerys said to him on Dragonstone. He finally agrees, dragons are beautiful.
"Hullo, old boy," he says to Rhaegal. The dragon purrs in response and Jon's heart is filled with exuberant joy. However Rhaegal suddenly whines and looks nervously to the sky. "What is it, Rhaegal?" He put his hand on dragon's neck and gently strokes him. The beast seems to calm down so Jon walks to Daenerys and Arya.
His good humour disappears very quickly when he sees bow and arrows on Arya. They start to quarrel until Daenerys tells them to stop. The anger still boils in him, especially as Arya does not seem to take the potential danger seriously.
As soon as Daenerys walks away towards the Dothraki, the dispute reignites.
"And what do you think you will be shooting at?" he tries to keep his voice down but his tone is obvious. "This is not a game, Arya."
"I'm planning to kill some White Walkers or wights. I don't think it's a game. Killing is not a game," replies Arya quickly.
"You don't know what you're talking about. You will be flying. You will be on the dragon who moves, sometimes suddenly changes the direction. You won't be able to keep yourself steady, I'm not even talking about shooting anything. This is a childish fantasy," he nearly screams at her.
"I'm not a child anymore," Arya says icily.
"I'm not saying that." He tries to calm himself down. "I want you to be safe. I want to protect you…"
"No one can protect me," interrupts Arya. Jon is stung by it as he is reminded that Sansa told him almost exactly that, too. "I've been protecting myself for years. Robb protected his wife and my mother. Where are they now? Little Finger protected Sansa. Look how well that turned out."
For the first time since they reunited, he sees some real emotion in Arya. It scares him and it breaks his heart at the same time.
"I know," he says gently. "But I'm here now and I will try to…"
She interrupts him again. "You're here now but where were you through all those years? Why weren't you there then to protect me?"
He closes his eyes. That hurts him more than all those stabs he received at Castle Black. He does not know what to say. There is no excuse.
Daenerys comes back with a sturdy looking rope and proposes he ties them up together. He thinks it is a mad idea but concedes. When he finishes, he just looks at the ropes and then at Daenerys. She knows that she is strong but he is afraid that if anything goes wrong he may lose them both. And all he wants is for them to be safe. Daenerys seems to understand his fears. He hugs her closely. He smells her perfume and feels her warmth, he does not want to let her go. She looks at him and one again he catches his breath when he looks at her beautiful face. She is his life, he cannot lose her. But then he notices that she is worried. It appears she also noticed that the dragons behave differently today. Maybe it is a sign that they should abandon the idea. She is determined to try and he agrees with a heavy heart.
He tries to put all his love for her into the kiss.
He hesitates slightly when he walks towards Arya but he takes he into his arms anyway and squeezes her tightly.
"I'm sorry for what I said," she says quietly into his chest. "I really didn't mean it. I just got angry."
"It's all right, it's all right," he whispers. "I'm sorry too."
She follows Rhaegal for a change as Jon knows better where Last Hearth actually is. They fly over wide, empty fields covered with snow. There are not many villages on the way but each one they pass is empty, there is no sign of life anywhere. She just hopes that the villages are deserted because the people fled but deep down she is afraid that they might have joined the Army of the Dead.
From time to time she looks behind her to check on Arya. The girl is silent but her face says it all. She is so glad that she made Arya happy, if only for a short moment.
Then they see what she can only presume remained of Last Hearth. Burned ruins. She closes her eyes in despair as such massive burning, melting stones into nothing could only come from a dragon. If the Night King comes to Winterfell, there is no other line of defence but her children. The thought of a potential fight between Drogon and Rhaegal against Viserion breaks her heart.
As the dragons are circling over the remnants, she meets Jon's gaze. There is no need for words, they understand each other.
Then her eyes are drawn to a group of riders on the Kingsroad, coming from the northern direction. Without thinking, she urges Drogon to fly closer to them. Jon follows her on Rhaegal.
As they come closer, she hears Arya loud voice, "They don't look dead," She has to agree as Drogon flies even lower over them. Most of them cower at the sight of dragon and their horses are spooked, but she seems to recognise one of them as the Wildling man that she saved when she went beyond the Wall. Then she hears Jon screaming something at her, it is too far to understand the words, so she tells Drogon to get nearer to Rhaegal.
"Go back to Winterfell," cries Jon. "I'll talk to them."
She nods and Drogon turns without her even giving him a command. After a while, she feels that Drogon is agitated again, she feels pain, anger which she does not understand. Is Drogon unhappy going back to Winterfell, or is it about leaving Rhaegal behind?
Then suddenly she seems to understand, as they are flying over the Kingsroad, she can see a group of what it can only be dead men, misshapen figures are walking slowly along it. It is not as big a group as she saw beyond the Wall, she thinks it is about three or four hundred of wights led by a single White Walker on a dead horse.
Drogon roars menacingly, his roar reverberates through her entire body.
"Hold on tight," she cries to Arya and Drogon dives down to get closer to the wights. "Dracarys," she says and Drogon spits a stream of fire at the back of the group. She circles the group and even without command Drogon repeats his deadly attack, again taking out the substantial portion of wights. But then she hears a piercing sound coming from afar, it is nothing like dragon's roar but somehow it sounds strangely familiar. A shiver goes through her body. Drogon roars again and she nervously looks around. The uncertainty of the situation unnerves her. Then she sees something on the horizon, it is coming towards her very quickly.
She is afraid and now bitterly regrets taking Arya with her. 'I put her in danger,' she tells herself guiltily. Jon was right. But she has no time to debate the issue with herself, as she recognises the unmistakable shape of Viserion and her heart goes cold. He is much quicker than she remembers and for a second she notices that his wings seem to be full of holes. She would cry at the sight if she had time. But she steels herself as she knows that she has to face him and do everything in her power to destroy him. This time for good.
Drogon roars again but this time she hears a pain in his voice. She understands that he is as heartbroken as she is.
Drogon suddenly dives sharply to the right and she sees a stream of strange blue fire over her head. She is stupefied but still has some clarity in her head to look behind her to check if Arya is still there. Arya's big eyes focused on Viserion is all she notices.
Drogon spits fire towards Viserion but the stream misses the dragon. 'He's quicker than before,' she tells herself almost in disbelief. But then she hears Rhaegal's roar and she is relieved and worried at the same time.
Both Drogon and Rhaegal are spitting fire towards Viserion. 'Should I even call him that?' she asks herself. It is not Viserion now. It is some monster created by the Night King. He is not her baby anymore.
The blue fire stream shots in Jon's direction but fortunately Rhaegal does a sharp turn as Drogon did before. Drogon spits fire at Viserion and this time the fire seems to graze over Viserion's body and his left wing. The piercing shriek that escapes the wounded dragon is like a cold stab to her heart.
Viserion's flight falters and he has problems staying up, she observes almost like in a trance how the Night King tries to keep steady on the dragon. Finally Viserion flight gets more stable, the Night King turns his head towards her and she meets his cold blue stare. She hopes that he can see the hate that is boiling inside her. Then he turns his head back and Viserion flies away, but slower than before. She looks at Jon and their eyes meet.
Then, in the corner of her eye, she notices a movement behind her. Arya is sitting up and aiming her bow at something on the ground, after a moment she lets out the arrow. Daenerys tries to follow the arrow. And to her delight, the arrow hits the White Walker in the back and then he shatters to pieces. Daenerys gasps but she notices as almost half of wights that were still walking falls down to the ground lifeless. She smiles to herself and says 'dracarys'.
'It's my fault,' he tells himself as he looks down on the burned out ruins of what once had been Last Hearth. His duty was to protect them and now they are gone. He got distracted and now there are no more Umbers. He is angry. What is worse, the melted stones mean just one thing – dragon fire. He looks at Daenerys and he reads from her face that she realised that too. On top of being angry, he feels guilty now. She never reproached him but she lost one of her children because of him. She is a much better person than him, as after all this she still is able to love him. He is not sure of he would behave like that. He does not know how it feels to lose a child but he lost some people that were very close to him and he can only imagine how she felt. Olly killed Ygritte in front of him but he partially understood why he did that. But as much as he tried he did not feel that close to Olly after that as before. And as for Ramsey Bolton and Rickon… well, at least that part was clear.
He notices Daenerys looking intently into the distance and he follows her gaze. It seems like a group of riders, most of them wearing black cloaks so well known to him. They seem to be alive rather than wights or even White Walkers. He is almost sure he recognises Edd and definitely sure that one of the riders is Tormund. He would not mistake him for anyone.
"Daenerys," he yells in her direction. "Fly back to Winterfell, I'll deal with them." It looks like she did not understand him so he yells at her again, she nods and they fly away.
"Come on, Rhaegal," he tells the dragon. "Let's meet my friends." He could almost smile at the fear Rhaegal causes among the riders and their horses if he was not reminded of his own reaction when he first saw dragons. Only Tormund smiles, relaxed , looking with almost a disdain at the others. Rhaegal lands and he dismounts quickly and almost runs to his friends. He greets everyone with a hug.
"You're riding dragons now?" asks Tormund.
Jon smiles sheepishly. "A couple of things changed since we last saw each other."
"You can say it again. The fucking Wall fell down." He stops and shakes his head. "And the Dragon Queen?" asks Tormund again after a while.
"She is fine," Jon pauses for a moment. "She's my wife now." He gives Tormund a small smile.
"Smart lad," Tormund pats Jon on his back. "And she lets you ride the dragon!" he laughs uproariously at his own witticism. Jon is now afraid that he may blush. "And the big woman?" Tormund's face is suddenly serious.
"She's safe at Winterfell," Jon replies smiling.
"Now we both have something to look up to, eh?" Tormund laughs again.
"No wonder that you don't want to come back to the Night's Watch," says Edd tersely. "I'd do the same… if anyone offered."
"Why are you here?" asks Jon to cover his embarrassment as Tormund is still chuckling. "You abandoned Castle Black?"
Edd sighs deeply. "When we found out that Eastwatch was gone and the White Walkers crossed the Wall, there was no point of staying there." Edd pauses. "I just hope no one will behead me for this." He looks at Jon and smiles. "I'll ask the King in the North for mercy."
Jon smiles back at his friend. "Is that everyone from Castle Black?" he asks looking around. There are no more than fifty men. Edd nods thoughtfully.
"Our fight is here now," says Beric Dondarrion and looks intensely into Jon's eyes.
Suddenly they hear the distant roar and Rhaegal roars as if in response. Something is wrong. Jon quickly turns and runs back to mount Rhaegal. "Ride for Winterfell!" he yells to the men he left behind without turning his head. "We need you there!"
As they fly, Jon tries to see what it is before them. His heart is cold with fear. Daenerys! Arya! He should not have let them fly alone. He cannot lose them both. Not now.
His heart almost stops when he sees Viserion and the Night King. He gasps when he sees that Viserion breathes blue fire. 'What does it even mean?' he asks himself. He is relieved to see that Viserion either missed or smart move of Drogon saved them. 'Smart Drogon,' he tells himself.
Without thinking he says what Daenerys taught him. "Dracarys!" Rhaegal complies without delay.
"Where is the King?" Lord Glover, walking briskly in her direction, yells at her with all the hatred he can muster. "You left him to die?"
Before she can reply, Arya steps in front of her with her dagger out. "I think it's high time to teach you what respect means, Lord Glover," she says in a menacing tone. Again Daenerys is prevented from reacting as the huge shape passes her quickly, Ghost jumps at Lord Glover and pushes him to the ground with a great thud. The huge head of the beast hangs threateningly over the frightened man and growls make it even more scary if it is even possible. Glover screams in panic but he does not move, and there is a huge gathering in the courtyard observing the scene, yet no one moves a muscle to help the man. Daenerys slowly takes a place beside Arya, she places her hand gently on the girl's arm. "Lord Glover, isn't it?" she asks rhetorically in a cold voice. "I'm tired of your hate," she continues in a calm voice. "Let it be your second warning. There will be no third one." She looks at Glover intensely for a couple of seconds more. "Stand down, Ghost," she finally says and walks by without giving Glover a second glance.
Sansa and Lady Brienne are running down the stairs towards them.
"Your Grace, Arya" she hugs them both quickly. "I'm so glad that you're both safe." And then adds quickly, "Where's Jon?"
"He's coming. He stopped to talk to the army commanders," Daenerys replies. She feels tired and she struggles to keep her regal poise.
"Any news, Your Grace?" asks Lady Brienne, slightly bowing.
"Last Hearth is truly gone. We didn't see any survivors," she replies calmly. "We managed to destroy a small portion of wights on our way back. But I'm afraid that most of them are coming in this direction." She watches as Sansa's eyes widen with fear. Brienne only nods.
"When?" asks Sansa, catching her breath.
"Jon thinks they may reach us in a couple of days," she replies and sighs deeply. They stand together in silence for a long while. Daenerys looks towards the setting sun and shivers slightly.
That stirs Sansa into action. "You must be freezing to death and you're probably starving," she says. "I'll arrange hot baths and supper sent to your rooms," Sansa smiles shyly and lead them inside.
In the corridor Daenerys stops Arya gently by putting her hand on her arm again. "Arya," she looks into the girl's big eyes. "I'm sorry that I put you into danger… but I'm also glad that you were there." She smiles at her but Arya only nods quickly. "And that shot was magnificent," she adds quietly. "Jon always said that you were the best shot of the whole family." She is finally rewarded as Arya's impassive face breaks into a sincere smile.
When she finally reaches her room, she only wants to lie on her bed but is grateful that Missandei is here to help her out of her clothes.
He is tired. Tired of talking, planning, worrying. And feeling guilty. But he smiles to himself as he recalls meeting Edd and Tormund. It is a bright spot in this gloomy day. Wait, there is a second one. Arya shooting down the White Walker. He was so proud of her, he must congratulate her tomorrow. He really needs to spend more time with her. She grew up into that silent, thoughtful, stealthy girl full of secrets. Their quarrel earlier today is still painful to recall.
As he walks down the corridor he sees a familiar shape in front of Daenerys's room, or their room rather.
"What are you doing here, boy?" he asks Ghost as he squats near him to stroke his head. "Daenerys made you leave? What did you do?" He smiles as Ghost quietly whimpers. "I'll put in a good word for you." He straightens up and enters the room. Now, that is a vision he did not expect. There is an enormous bathtub in front of the fireplace, the steam is coming out of it and Daenerys is lying in it with a blissful smile on her beautiful face. As per tradition he takes his breath away.
"Where did you find this monster of a tub?" he asks bewildered by the size of it.
She opens her eyes slowly. "Sansa send it to us. Apparently it was especially made for king Robert's visit," she replies with a smile. "Was he a huge man?"
He smiles. "Of sorts."
He comes closer, kneels and places a tender kiss on her warm and wet lips. She purrs into his mouth and puts her arms around his neck. He deepens the kiss, but then he moves slightly away. He looks deeply into her eyes. "I'm guessing you need some help with washing yourself?" he asks in a deep voice.
She smiles teasingly, "Only if it is the right help."
He stands up. "We shall see then." He starts to take off his fur coat and only then notices Missandei standing by the table in the corner of the room. He is flustered now but Missandei bows and smiles gently. "Your Grace, you may need to add some cold water as our queen is used to a very hot bath that may not be to your liking." She points behind her. "This jug is full of cold water."
He nods but he is too embarrassed to reply. "The supper is laid out on the table." Missandei adds, bows again and goes out of the room.
"You were blushing," says Daenerys laughingly when they are alone.
"I was not," he replies stubbornly. "I was just surprised to find her there." He is grateful that Daenerys chooses not to comment further. "Now I know why Ghost preferred to stay outside the room. When he was a pup it was impossible to give him a bath," he talks quickly to change the subject as soon as possible.
"Oh, just get out of your clothes and come to me already," says Daenerys in mock impatience. "I need your hands and lips here," she adds breathily in a most tantalising to his ears voice. "And Missandei was right, take this jug with you," she smiles.
He tries to get rid of his clothes as quickly as possible. "Only lips and hands?" he asks. "What about the rest of me?"
"You're right. I was wrong," she says quietly. "I need every part of you," she adds in a whisper.
He looks at her at this, trying to convey through his eyes the depth of his love for her. And he knows that the gods are smiling at him tonight.