Title: A Victorious Warrior Returned
Rating: T for mentions of death and blood
Word Count: 1554
Summary: Jorah Mormont appears before the Queen. Set post ADWD.
Author's Note: Written in honor of mrstater's birthday. Happy birthday, my dear! This is for you.
A Victorious Warrior Returned
His mismatched, dented, rusted armor clanks with every stride, as he makes his way down what feels like an endless aisle towards where Daenerys sits. It is not the gleaming armor of a member of the Queensguard, but this tent is not the grand castle of a queen. Nevertheless, it is the armor of a victorious warrior, and this tent shades a victorious queen from the sun's punishing rays. It will suit.
It comes close enough to approaching the scenario of which he has dreamt—his reunion with Daenerys—countless times. He the conquering, redeemed hero, she… He does not know what she will be, even as her face comes into focus and she stands up from her simple bench, her one hand clutching the gathered fabric at her breast. No, he does not know what to expect, but she has at least agreed to see him. He does, however, know what he hopes: that she will be forgiving.
He stops before her, and he considers bending the knee, but his pride will not quite allow it. He appears before her spattered in blood and mud, sadly armored, and branded. To kneel would be too much. Something must be left to him, so he can feel like a man when he faces the woman he loves.
She steps forward, her eyes resolutely fixed on his, although he can tell from the roundness of them that she has noticed the brand. How could she not? He is uglier now than before, when she would not have him.
"My Queen," he says as he pulls his sword from its scabbard and holds it out flat before her in his upturned palms.
"Ser Jorah. You have found your way back to me."
She is older. Not just in years, but in experience as well. He imagines he can see it lurking there behind her striking eyes. Her form, however, is much the same. Perhaps leaner.
He drags his eyes up from her breasts to address her. "My sword is yours if you will have it." His voice is steady and gruff, hiding whatever uncertainty he feels.
"Put your sword away, ser," she instructs, jutting her chin out proudly. "Are you not pledged to the Second Sons?" she asks, as he slides the sword back into its scabbard, and for a moment he feels a lightness about her that contrasts with the heavy atmosphere of the tent post battle. She means to tease him. "Will Brown Ben Plumm give up his best sword so easily?" His anger at the feeling of being taunted about his disgrace is largely assuaged by her compliment.
"In return for his own pardon, no doubt he will, Your Grace."
Daenerys' eyes leave his for the first time, as she turns to smile at Ser Barristan Selmy, her Lord Commander. He cannot help but be jealous of that smile. There is a fondness in that smile that he forfeited through his treachery. He means to win it back.
"I have been warned not to forgive or to forget those who have betrayed me. Have I not, ser?" she asks, inclining her head towards her white haired knight.
Selmy shifts on his feet, keeping his hand at his sword, when he meets Jorah's steely gaze. Honorable Selmy, who has never been forced to stain his white cloak. Who the gods have smiled upon in his service to this Targaryen Queen, when the unworthy Joffrey would not have him. Sometimes Jorah wonders whether ice water runs in the veins of these men who choose a life of celibate duty, and he wonders why he is not made of similar stuff, for if he was, he would have been spared some of the worst moments in his life. Nevertheless, he would not have it otherwise. He nurses his love for the Queen like a dragon guarding jewels.
Or guarding their mother. He watched the dragons circle and dive, leaving the dead and burnt in their wake. All for her. Woe to the man who does not stand at her side now that she has realized what it will take to win at the game of thrones.
Selmy offers his answer, "I have advised Your Grace not to forgive Brown Ben—sellswords are not to be trusted, I'm afraid."
She readdresses Jorah and her eyes narrow, as they evaluate him silently. "What would you suggest I do with Ser Jorah here?"
"Your Grace knows best," Selmy responds, though Jorah can tell by the tension in his lined face that he would advise Jorah kneel and offer his head for his treachery. He is no doubt wise for thinking so, but Jorah intends to prove himself, to make himself worthy of her forgiveness if she offers it to him. She will not regret it.
"I find that I have had no luck not following my heart." Her hand, which has stayed clutched at her breast, stretches out and hovers near his ruined cheek. "And I have missed my Bear," she says softly.
Jorah would give anything for the tent to empty of advisers, soldiers, and servants, so that he might enjoy this moment with her so near, with her words so soft and kind. Unless she means to slap him. He laughs to himself, thinking he would bear no other woman's slaps but his Queen's, but the unexplained laugh seemingly does not disturb her. Targaryens are at least as tolerant of madness as they are afflicted by it.
"What is this? What harm came to you?" she asks, her rounded hand settling gently on his cheek.
He would rather not say, although he suspects Daenerys is familiar enough with the marks of slavery to know what this shameful mark signifies. "It gives me no pain." Other than the pain of the reminder of having been brought so low.
"It does me, ser." Her thumb traces his cheekbone and his nostrils flare, as he wills himself not to grip her arm and pull her against him, as he would like. "And I am your Queen."
"I am merely glad that I could aid my Queen in her war against the Yunkai."
Her hand withdraws, and he silently curses himself, wishing he would have said something that would have prolonged the intimate contact. Her eyes flash with anger, an anger that Jorah recognizes as being distinctly Targaryen. "With you at my side, ser, and with my dragons, the Yunkai will only be the first to fall before me."
He inclines his head and suddenly rethinking his pride, he goes to one knee awkwardly, feeling the cut in his thigh that still needs tending, but he pays it no mind. She has given him breath once more. Given him life and purpose by forgiving his treachery.
There is only one thing left that weighs upon him, and it is not the light hand that now rests on his shoulder. He clasps his own bloodied hand over hers and raises his head to speak though he may not have a right to do so. "Your husband?"
Her answer is calm and cold. "He is dead, ser. I will make no more mistakes by forgiving those I should not or sending away those who would stand faithfully by my side."
He is glad the man is dead. Daenerys Stormborn is a widow once more, and that gives him hope of another kind. He squeezes her hand in wordless acknowledgement of it.
"You know to which of those groups you belong, do you not, Ser Jorah?"
She grips his scruffy chin with more strength than her size would seem to allow and raises his gaze to meet hers. "And now I understand you have a gift for me."
"It was meant to be a gift, but he has proven as eager to meet you as I was to give him to you," he explains, as he stiffly finds his feet once more.
"Surely you do not mean a slave," she says, her jaw tightening.
"Very well. Everyone is eager to present the Queen with a gift. What do you intend to give me, ser?"
Jorah smiles, feeling assured and powerful in repose, when he has only felt such emotions while swinging a sword for some time now. The anticipation tastes as fine as the best Arbor Gold. "I believe I know you well, Daenerys. Know what it is you would like best."
"Do you?" she asks, stepping backward until she finds her bench once more and sits. Her eyes twinkle, and Jorah likes to think that she is pleased by the notion that someone does know her well, when she has been long surrounded by strangers and sycophants and so few friends, so few that knew her before she was a queen. "What I want most? I thought you intimated it was a man. Do you bring me Westeros instead?"
He would give her everything. His sword. His heart. His name. His cloak.
He clears his throat, so that the whole tent might hear him. No man in this room can compete with what he will lay before her to do with as she will.
"Well, I should like that very much." She smiles back at him. "I'm intrigued. What is it you would give me, ser?"
"A Lannister, Your Grace."