Just a fic that's going to focus on the before and after of the infamous Jonerys boat scene. Reviews are appreciated, since this is my first foray into writing GOT fics. More chapters to come :)
The journey to White Harbor would be long. This was the first warning (of many) that Jorah had for Daenerys as she supervised the loading of the provisions, and though she pretended to be preoccupied in watching Davos drag crate after crate of food onto the boat, she could still see his worry (and disapproval) from the corner of her eye.
"You are not a fan of the water," he stated, as if this was something she wasn't already aware of.
"You'd make up a lot of time flying there."
"And if we time it right, we could arrange for you to ride the last leg of the journey with the Dothraki. I've already spoken to Grey Worm, and if you're intent on riding in as a combined unit, he could meet you with a horse to transfer over from Drogon."
"Jon Snow means well, but he's thinking of his people, whereas you need to be thinking about yourself."
"Jorah." She closed her eyes as she swallowed a shaky breath. Sometimes, when she looked at his face, she remembered where it all began, how it all began, what they'd endured along the way. She remembered the expression he wore as she stepped out of the flames, three baby dragons clinging to her unburnt skin, and though the years had passed, that expression had barely waivered. He looked older now, much older than he was, but he still wore that same expression; of awe, of surprise, of love.
She knew that same love got in the way sometimes,and though she didn't take his loyalty for granted, it often proved a hindrance for both of them. No matter the differences they may have shared, Dany cared a lot about him too, and she didn't want to hurt him as much as he wanted to protect her from harm.
Unfortunately, the battle to be the new ruler of the seven kingdoms wasn't exactly harm-free.
"My apologies, Khaleesi." He bowed his head, his cheeks tinted pink. "I thought I was looking out for you."
Dany placed a hand on his arm and squeezed it, ever so gently, smiling at the feeling of soft skin under her touch. "I know, Jorah, as I know you are always looking out for me. This is how it needs to be." She wrinkled her nose. "Though you're right; I'm definitely not a fan of the water. Must be the dragon in me." She closed the distance between them with a goodbye embrace, and though Jorah's arms lingered for longer than appropriate, she breathed in his familiar scent, lingering herself.
"I don't like leaving you," he admitted, after finally breaking away. He watched Tyrion with narrowed eyes, but she found herself looking to Jon, who was helping Davos with the biggest of the loads.
Always wearing that fur pelt; how would he fair in some of the more exotic locations she'd experienced?
"I know that too, but I'd feel better knowing that you're there to support Grey Worm. I trust him, of course, but you need to be the firm hand if anyone decides to take a detour. I hear there are many brothels in Westeros."
The two shared a grin, and she could see in his eyes that he had accepted his fate, despite his better judgement (and for just a second, hers). There was little room on the modest sized boat, and though she would have liked everyone to stay together, she needed to set some firm boundaries. With Jorah back in her company, it was time to ensure everyone had a purpose; he couldn't be simply her bodyguard any longer.
Daenerys sniffed. "She is to travel with me, though you'd have thought I'd promised to throw her overboard."
Jorah nodded knowingly in response. "Grey Worm."
"Is it that obvious?" She huffed a little. Clearly she needed to work on her powers of deduction if Jorah had seen the pairing easier than she had.
"I've been around quite a bit longer than you, Khaleesi, and I've seen my fair share of romances over the years. I hope they can be happy together."
"Romance and happiness… I don't know if I believe in those concepts anymore." She found herself staring at Jon, watching as he chuckled at something Tyrion had said (no doubt too witty and clever for the rest of them). It occurred to her that she had yet to see him laugh, properly laugh, or smile from ear to ear as if he didn't have the world on his shoulders. He looked at her, then, and though she felt like she'd been caught out, she held her ground until he looked away, his face a little warmer than before.
"You are too young to have such a cynical head on your shoulders. When you win this war, why survive unless it is for happiness? For people to fall in love with life again?" Jorah shook his head. "There is hope yet, if you can remember how to hope."
As they said their goodbyes and Tyrion made Davos check their itinerary for a third time, she wondered if she could remember how to do anything other than mourn for the death of her child, and dwell on a future filled with the dead.
"It's not that I'm frightened of the water," she groaned, exasperated, clutching her goblet of wine as she tried her best not to be completely furious. Davos sat beside her with what she assumed to be a fatherly look on his face, and she made a mental note to chastise Jorah when she saw him again. "I just feel much safer on the back of a horse or a dragon because they're a lot less… wet."
Jon, who was sat at the other end of the table and apparently enthralled in conversation with Varys, choked on his drink, sending droplets of wine across the table.
"Sorry," he muttered, dabbing at the mess with the sleeve of his robe.
"It's okay to be frightened of the sea, Your Grace, it's a powerful and dangerous thing. Me and me family were introduced to it early on, pretty much thrown in when I could walk, and we learnt how to respect it." Davos spluttered a bit as Dany raised an eyebrow. "Not that I'm saying that you don't respect it, of course, but even great leaders have their fears, and there's no shame in that." He cleared his throat. "I'm digging meself even deeper in this hole, but, er, just know that if you need anything, we're all here for you."
"And I appreciate that, Ser Davos, I do. I fear Ser Jorah is worried I'm going to fall over the side of the boat and drown before we get to the North."
"If that were to happen, Your Grace, don't think too harshly of me if I don't jump in to your rescue." Tyrion shrugged, draining his cup in one. "I'm not exactly built to be a strong swimmer."
"Aye, I would have suggested Jon, but that fur around his neck would probably sink him to the bottom," said Davos in a mock whisper, and a murmured laugh travelled around the small table. Dany noted, with interest, that Jon didn't laugh. Instead, as she'd grown accustomed to, he seemed to take the scenario a little too seriously, and his face became burdened with worry. What would he brood about when the war was finally won?
"Relax, Jon; I've survived this long." She offered him a smile that wasn't returned, and promptly ignored the slight sting of rejection.
Varys stood, bowing his head just enough, his hands hidden in his robes (she'd half convinced herself that he was hiding something in those sleeves). "Your Grace, if you could excuse me, I'm ready to call it a night."
"Of course, Lord Varys, there's no need to ask for my permission."
Like that, a motion swept around the room, until even Missandei was making her excuses to leave. It was late, and they had a long journey to go, but Dany couldn't help but feel disappointed in their eagerness to retire. When she looked at them all, the people who had pledged themselves to her, she saw individuals rather than a team, rather than a council, and she'd hoped they'd bond over the journey to the North.
"Are you not tired, Your Grace?"
Snapping out of her temporary self-pity, she jumped to her senses when she noticed that Jon had remained in his seat, cup still held in his hand.
"I suppose not. I'm surprised; I thought you'd be the first one to leave."
He laughed, though there was no humour in his voice, and not for the first time, she found herself frustrated that she couldn't read him.
Jorah, he was simple. He wanted her, and though he knew he couldn't have her, he didn't let his affection hold him back from serving her. Tyrion, he was smart. He knew when to appease her and when to challenge her, and even when they disagreed (which she'd noted was happening more and more these days), he knew when to bite his tongue and let her get on with it. Varys, even, she could just about predict, though she seemed to hear his opinions once they'd been directed at her Hand. Though she suspected they'd never be particularly close, she knew that Varys wanted what was best for Westeros, and for now, it seemed he'd deemed her worthy of that title.
Jon, however, was unlike anyone she'd met before, and it vexed her more than it should have. On the surface, he should have been the easiest of them all to come to terms with. From stories that Viserys used to tell, through to experiences Jorah had undergone and relayed, Daenerys knew that the people of the North were straight talking and straight thinking. She'd even been witness to this herself, and in that idiotic moment when Jon pledged his allegiance to her cause in front of Cersei Lannister, she thought she'd understood; Northerners didn't play games.
And yet, she seemed to understand him a little more and a little less with every day that passed. Sometimes his admiration for her was written all over his face like a puppy, and yet sometimes, as appeared to be the case as they looked at each other over a table, he seemed uninterested, bored, like he had other places to be.
With other people? She couldn't help wondering if his heart was elsewhere, dwelling in a place that didn't concern her, and she felt her anger bubble at the surface.
Temper, Dany, temper, Viserys would chide, no man is going to want an uncontrollable wench who can't get a handle on her anger.
"I know you must think me miserable, but sometimes it's difficult to switch off." Jon swilled his wine around in his cup, tilting his head to watch the liquid pool in front of him. "Watching everyone talk, drink, have fun, it reminds me of simpler times." He looked up, his brow furrowed, and shook his head. "I'm sorry, I don't want to bore you with nostalgia."
She wanted to smooth out his forehead with her fingers, to tell him to stop overthinking everything. Instead, she ran a finger down her goblet to catch a trailing drop of wine."Please," she leaned forward, shaking her head in unison as her fingers close around her cup, "you could not bore me with stories of family. I have little in the way of fond memories, and I could do with the distraction myself."
It was at this point that she glimpsed it, a smile unbidden by sadness, responsibility, and fear; it was a smile of better things, of love, and for whatever the reason, her heart seemed to skip a beat in response. Though she'd never wished for a different life, for her all her experiences had led her here, to Westeros, she couldn't help but wonder how different things would have been if her father were still alive, if Rhaegar had been the brother giving her advice; if she'd had a real family.
"Very well. If you find yourself tired, tell me; I don't want to be sentenced to death for making my Queen fall asleep with my stories."
My Queen. A phrase spoken countless times, but it sounded foreign coming from his tongue.
Foreign, but welcome.
"I think a lot about the last proper meal I shared with my family," he began, and Dany couldn't help but be drawn in by the tone of his voice, the relaxed posture, the warmth and longing his voice exuded. She told herself it was down to never having that family experience, not because it was Jon that was playing narrator. "It doesn't stick out in importance because we always ate together, so long as Father wasn't out hunting with Jory. Besides, usually the feast would end in either Arya or Bran being sent outside for throwing food at Sansa, but sometimes, now and again, we'd all just eat, drink, and be thankful that we had each other." He smiled, a proper, heartfelt smile, and Dany smiled back, an intruder in his memories. "I guess it was special, the last time, because I can remember being genuinely happy. And Uncle Benjen was there, and…" He trailed off and shut down. His eyes stopped shining, his grin faded, and his shoulders seemed to collapse in on themselves, just for a second, before he straightened up and coughed, embarrassed by his emotional slip. "I know none of us could ever have known that day, but out of it all, I can't stop thinking about what I should have said to my father, if I'd known that was the last time I'd see him alive."
Silence permeated the air for a moment, and Daenerys felt the need to gulp down the lump in her throat. "What would you have said?"
He laughed, but it wasn't the kind of laugh she wanted to hear from him. It was cold, hollow, pained, and she wished to never hear it again. "The stupid thing is, I don't know. I get as far as walking up to him, looking him up and down to remember his face, his height, his stance, his… Father-ness, and the words get caught before they leave my mouth. I know what I'd like to ask him now, though."
"Am I doing the right thing, staying true to myself?" Jon gazed out of the small window, out into the darkness and the silent swaying of the waves. "I don't regret saying what I said to Cersei, I don't for a second, because that's who I am. My father raised me to be honest, to do what I think is right, but at the same time, I get that they're all right too." He waved a hand towards the door, out where the rest of her council slept. "Honour and honesty got my father killed. If this is all a game, I don't think I know the rules, or how it should be played." He blanched. "I'm sorry, Your Grace. You have your own concerns to deal with, so I'm sure the last thing you need is me rambling on."
"Don't apologise, it's nice." Instantly, Dany bit her lip and internally cursed herself. "Not nice, that was poor, I mean…" She sat up a little taller in her seat. "I'm glad you feel like you can confide in me. Not everyone feels brave enough to do so."
"Maybe I just don't know my place; I'm not used to bending the knee."
It took her a minute to realise he was joking with her, and she could do little to hide her grin because Jon Snow had a sense of humour; who would have thought it?
"Don't worry, I'll get you trained soon enough."
She could see the sudden glint in his eye, and wondered if he'd accepted that challenge.