Dany stormed through the corridors of Hogwarts, trying and failing to keep a lid on her feelings. Anger, betrayal, hatred, disgust, they all warred within her, trailing behind her like smoke. It was all she could do just to simply turn her back on that person and storm out, instead of cursing him and hexing him within an inch of his pitiful, perfidious existence.
It was New Year's Eve. Jorah had gotten drunk at Hogsmeade in the company of Mad-Eye Moody, and, in his inebriation, decided to confess the truth about something. Something that had shocked Dany to the core. She had thought him so stalwart, so trustworthy, so loyal…
…And yet, he had confessed that he had been tasked by the Usurper to spy on her.
Well, technically, it wasn't the Usurper specifically, but rather, that damnable Spider Varys. The eunuch who had allowed her father to die, and was even now working for the Usurper. The sheer anger she felt…if her brother had likened his own temper to awakening the dragon, then Dany's temper, right now, felt like a hundred Balerion the Black Dreads at the Field of Fire.
She didn't realise she had gotten lost until she saw a rather grotesque painting of Trolls being taught how to dance. Irritated, she began pacing near it, wondering if she could find a place to calm down. To her astonishment, a door appeared as she paced.
Just then, she heard the clatter of feet, and found Harry following her, looking ruffled. "Dany?"
She shook her head, entering the room, her friend and love following. A vast chamber lay beyond, with a couple of chairs around a table, and, a little way away, a few mannequins, each with a target on them. She stormed over to the mannequins and, with a roar of rage, fired off Incendio spells, setting them on fire. It felt like unleashing dragonfire on that damned traitor, and it felt so damned good.
Fire will be my champion, her father had said when he prepared to have Rickard Stark roasted alive instead of trial by combat. And in her fury, Dany could see his point. Instead of Incendio, she yelled, "Dracarys! Dracarys!" as she set the dummies that appeared on fire, only for them to vanish and be replaced with fresh ones.
Suddenly, arms wrapped around her. She very nearly attacked the owner of said arms, before sagging into their embrace, twisting around and beginning to sob into his shoulder. "…How do we trust him, Harry? How can we trust him?"
"…I don't know," Harry said quietly. "…But he's unable to communicate with Varys. I'm not saying we should trust him…but he had plenty of opportunities to kill you before now. I'm not saying we should forgive him or anything, and he's told us more about the state of affairs back in Westeros, but…"
"But he lied to me," Dany said. "What if he lied about the other things?"
"…Then we'll deal with him. Maybe wizards have something like a truth serum or something. I'll ask Hermione, or failing that, Snape. Not that I want to ask him anything like that, but…" He shook his head. "If he had actually betrayed you to your death, like Pettigrew, I'd never forgive him. What was he calling you earlier?"
Dany blinked. "Khaleesi, I think. He was teaching me a few words in Dothraki a couple of days ago while I was asking him about the Dothraki and Khal Drogo out of curiosity. Khal means chieftan, warlord, horselord, but it can mean king. Khaleesi, however, means…"
"Queen?" He gently stroked her tear-streaked cheek. "…It's not a bad word, actually. Khaleesi. Sounds lovely. Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen."
"Maybe…but I have neither throne nor kingdom," Dany said, a smile touching her lips despite her anger and sorrow. "At best, I am a princess, and a deposed one at that."
"You have me. You have Ron and Hermione, and Luna, and Remus. Come on, let's try to relax a little before we head back to the dorms…"
As it turned out, wizards did have a form of truth serum. Hermione said it was something called Veritaserum. It wasn't considered legally admissible evidence in wizarding courts as wizards with enough willpower or presence of mind could either refuse to answer the questions, or else twist the wording of the answers so that, while not actually lies, would be misleading. So, few would accept it for proving Sirius' innocence, sadly. As it happened, Snape had a private stock.
They waited in Dumbledore's office the next day, McGonagall and Remus having gone to fetch Jorah, Snape holding a vial filled with a clear substance. Given the looks he was shooting Harry, some part of him clearly wanted to use it on Harry. However, Dumbledore's presence prevented that.
Jorah was brought in, looking the worse for wear, but still walking rather straight and stiffly. "He went to Poppy for a hangover potion," Remus said.
Snape sighed. "It'll mean he metabolises the Veritaserum more swiftly. Hangover potions generally accelerate the metabolism of foreign substances."
"It should be enough time for him to answer the most pertinent questions, shouldn't it be, Severus?" Dumbledore asked. On Snape's nod, Dumbledore fixed Jorah with his gaze. "You know why you are here? What we intend to do?"
"Yes. Give me the Veritaserum." Jorah sat down on a chair, trying and failing not to look at Dany. "Let's get this over with."
Snape went over, unstoppering the vial. Jorah obediently opened his mouth, and swallowed the three drops Snape administered. After he swallowed, Dumbledore, getting up from behind his desk, walked over to Jorah and asked, "Jorah Mormont…were you truly spying on the Targaryens for this man Varys?"
"Not directly. Varys kept in contact with me through Illyrio Mopatis while I was riding with Khal Drogo," Jorah said, his voice a flat monotone. "He said that, in exchange for services rendered to the Iron Throne, I would eventually be given a pardon, and allowed to return home, even if I could not retain my lordship over Bear Island. However, I was kept apprised of developments, and I was told recently that I would be protecting and guiding the Targaryen heirs when Daenerys was married to Khal Drogo, as well as sending reports to Varys about their status."
"I was to be wed to Khal Drogo?!" Dany hissed in horrified anger. "Why would Varys allow me to be wed to a Dothraki horselord? Especially one in charge of a large army that could threaten the Usurper?" She had been told about the size of Drogo's army.
"I don't know why. I was merely to suggest the possibility to Drogo, to get him interested."
"And finding us…were you sent to find us?"
"No. I was heading back to Pentos to report, and was merely passing by to check on the house, to see if it had been robbed. I saw the light, and assumed either a thief or a vagabond."
"…And if Varys or the Usurper ordered you to kill me…or stand by as assassins did so…would you do that?"
"No. If anything, I would rather swear myself to be your sworn shield, or your Hand. I know I do not deserve it, given that I have kept this secret from you, but I would never betray you willingly. Nor would I do so to Harry."
The questioning continued for a few more minutes (including Dany asking if he told the truth about her father), until finally, Dany was, if not wholly satisfied, then her anger had abated. She turned her back on Jorah as the Veritaserum wore off. "…Daenerys…" he began, only for her to hold up a hand and cut him off.
"Please do not speak to me any longer, Ser Jorah. I do not want to hear pleas for forgiveness or any excuses. I do not want to hear anything that passes from your lips for now, save for when I command it." After a moment of silence, the Targaryen princess said, quietly, "For the past two months, you have deceived me, even if only by omission. Last night wounded me, deeply. I had to wonder, was what you told me about my father a lie? So, I will give you a chance to redeem yourself, to regain my trust. Just one. Do you understand me?"
She turned, to see Jorah nod solemnly. "Good. I do not want to see you for a while. I am still coming to terms with this. And should you betray me once more…I will do to you what Aegon II did to Rhaenyra."
Harry grimaced, having been taught enough of the history of Westeros to know what that entailed. Aegon II fed Rhaenyra to his dragon, Sunfyre. He made a mental note to tell Dany that, even if Jorah turned out to be a traitor, Harry was NOT eating him! He wasn't going to be a cannibal, even in dragon form!
Jorah got the message, given the brief blanching of his face. "If I may be excused?"
Dany nodded, and the grizzled knight left, shuffling out of the office like a chastened schoolboy, only with more dignity. "…And that Veritaserum worked?" Dany asked.
Snape scoffed. "I brewed it. Of course it did. And I doubt your retainer had enough wit to twist his answers, either. Though why the spymaster of that kingdom of yours would allow you to be married to some barbarian warrior, and thus potentially threaten that kingdom with invasion…"
"Ser Jorah told me that the Dothraki distrust ocean water, anything that their horses cannot drink. They'd be unlikely to cross the ocean, though he did say they may if they thought the rewards would be great. So your concerns about Varys are mine."
"It could be one of many things," Dumbledore said. "He could be secretly a loyalist to your family. Or perhaps he wanted to make you enough of a threat for King Robert Baratheon to send assassins after you. Unfortunately, we cannot ask him ourselves."
"Given his reputation, I'd probably need Veritaserum, even if I could," Dany said grimly.
Not long afterwards, they had another unpleasant surprise. Dany had kept her relationship with Jorah distant, for now. Meanwhile, Hermione had finally come across something while speaking with Neville, something that would be better than the Bubble Head Charm: Gillyweed. They would test it later, but for now, the classes had resumed after the holidays.
To their surprise, Hagrid had been replaced for Care of Magical Creatures by a woman called Grubbly-Plank, who was doing a lesson on unicorns. She didn't say anything about Hagrid, but Malfoy delighted in showing them the latest issue of The Daily Prophet. It had an article filled with the worst kind of yellow journalism, making Hagrid out to be more dangerous and untrustworthy than he actually was.
The question was, how did Rita Skeeter get onto the Hogwarts grounds? Apparently Dumbledore had banned her, and they hadn't seen her during Hagrid's confession to Maxime, which seemed like the most likely time for her to hear that. So how had she found out about it? And would she target anyone else?
Back in Pentos, events were coming to a head. Like the Usurper he so disparaged, Viserys turned to hedonism to bolster himself, with wine and women, both provided by an increasingly perturbed Mopatis. Unfortunately, the former only served to fuel his madness. He was spiralling inwards towards self-destruction. And his belligerence towards his gracious host increased, threatening to dismember Mopatis and feed him to the dogs if he didn't find his sister and the dragon that was rightfully his.
He became increasingly obsessed with regaining his crown as well, and began accusing Mopatis of actually possessing it and withholding it from him. To him, Mopatis' denials were lies, and more than once, Mopatis had to have his guards restrain the deranged Targaryen. This only increased Viserys' rancour towards his host.
He took to wandering the streets of Pentos, especially the artisans' quarter, where the jewellers resided. He was hoping to spot his crown, and reclaim it from those who stole it (despite the fact that he sold it in the first place). And one day, he spotted it.
It wasn't his crown, of course. It was actually an old coronet bought by one of the Magisters of Pentos, one who wanted to use said coronet's gold to create a statuette. But inebriation and insanity are potent warpers of reality, and with a scream, he barged into the jeweller's shop, only to see it being dropped into a crucible and melted down.
Now, normally, he wouldn't have done what had happened next, even in the depths of his insanity. But with what he thought he had seen, he was blinded by rage and desperation, and so, he rushed forward, shoving the jeweller aside roughly, grabbing the crucible, and tipped it out over his head, thinking to himself, I am the Blood of the Dragon! No fire can hurt a dragon!
Those were his last conscious thoughts as the gold poured onto his head.
Gold melts at 1064 degrees Celsius. So it goes without saying that letting molten gold, or indeed, molten metal of any kind, touch your body is a bad idea. Science fact. And even in a world where science held little actual sway, it was common sense (which isn't so common) to avoid touching anything so ridiculously hot.
True, a Targayen could, potentially, withstand such a thing. Some Targaryens could withstand the heat of a dragon's fire, capable, at their most powerful, of instantly cremating a person. But the blood of the Targaryens was not what it once was. Centuries of inbreeding had seen to that. Dany was lucky. Viserys was not.
Viserys had just enough time to scream an inhuman scream of agony and drop the crucible before the molten gold cooked his brain terminally. The last thing he saw before darkness overtook him was what looked like his father, reaching out…only, it was his father in the last years of his reign, with long fingernails, reaching out like claws, a deranged leer on his face…and yet, Viserys knew, with animal instinct, that this was not his father. Just the Stranger wearing his face.
And then, Viserys Targaryen was dead, wearing a crown of gold that men trembled to behold…if only because getting one's head cooked by molten metal was not a pleasant way to die. And by doing so, he ruined many plans. And yet, he also removed himself as an obstacle to Dany's homecoming, if she ever did so.
Unfortunately for Daenerys Targaryen, there would be other obstacles to overcome, on two different worlds…
CHAPTER 16 ANNOTATIONS:
So, Jorah's loyalties have been exposed, and Viserys has come a cropper. I debated with myself how to kill off Viserys, and I eventually plumped for a variation of what happens in canon, albeit fuelled by different circumstances. Keep in mind, Viserys was not a paragon of sanity to begin with, and Dany's disappearance actually fuelled his descent into madness far quicker than canon.
Review-answering time! OverlordMetatron: Oh, yes. At the time I posted the challenge, one of them didn't exist, and I simply must've missed the other one. And yes, I was referring to the anime/light novels.
Leicontis: In the challenge, where the Tomb ended up, Westeros or Essos, was optional. However, the denizens had to ally themselves with a key player in the series.
No numbered annotations this time.