Chapter Rating: T
Chapter Word Count: 3504
Chapter Summary: Should the queen ever lose her special hold on these vicious creatures, they will all be lost.
Author's Note: Mea culpa for a slightly delayed chapter. Between juggling the introduction of two new POVs and writing midterms, I've been a busy lady. Hopefully you all enjoy these new POVs and the new information they reveal. It's another cliffie, I'm afraid, so as usual if you're looking for teasers, you can follow me at tumblr (username justadram), where I fangirl, answer questions, and run a ASOIAF medieval meta that might interest folks. I've mentioned on tumblr, but I'll say it here as well that we'll be meeting some new canon characters in upcoming chapters, so if there are folks you're curious about, there's a chance they'll appear. Cryptic. Thank you all for your continued support. It's my pleasure to write and share this with you.


Chapter Twenty-Two

Tyrion stands back from the dragons, watching them through narrowed eyes, against the background of a sky that does not yet show the first signs of the dawning of a new day. His fascination with the scaled giants has not dimmed with exposure, for they are a wonder to behold and he can't imagine a day when that would cease to be case, but his wariness has increased as he watched villages burn and heard the wail of those who were not fleet enough of foot to escape their flames. Even at this distance, he is not safe. None of them are.

Except for the queen. These are her children.

"They're more restless than usual," Tyrion says, craning his neck up to look into the branded face of Ser Jorah, who stands feet planted and chin raised, watching the dragons with an interest not so different from his own. They all have sought to come home conquering giants, and these are the beasts that make that triumph possible.

The dragons thrash, blowing thick smoke from their nostrils that arcs through the sky with each toss of their heads. They growl. They snap their jaws.

"They were brought back before they could taste flesh," the burly knight reasons.

Daenerys saw that Jon Snow, clad in dark plate armor, did not burn and reined in her dragons. No one, including the queen and her children, seems to know whether she means to renew the attack on her nephew and King's Landing, but it is clear that if she means to end Snow's life, it will take more than dragon fire to accomplish it.

"Perhaps. But they have been fed since."

Ten goats have been sacrificed to feed the queen's children—three a piece for Rhaegal and Viserion and four for the insatiable Drogon—as they are every day. Daenerys usually attends their meals like a proud mother, watching as they toss back giant chunks of charred meat, but she was absent last night and Tyrion alone observed the dragons' leery handlers feeding of the beasts. The night was cold enough that steam rose off their bodies, and Tyrion stuffed his gloved hands under his armpits, wishing he had some of their natural heat. It feels as if it will be a long winter, but if legend is correct, these dragons and their magic could help drive the cold away.

"Being fed doesn't bring the same satisfaction as stalking prey or a kill fresh from battle," Jorah argues, his words punctuated by a sharp grunt, as they both jerk back a step, when Drogon lets loose a particularly fearsome hiss in their direction.

"Very restless," Tyrion murmurs. Jorah is not wrong: the dragons are better sated when they have fought and killed, but Tyrion thinks it is more than that. Just as a child reacts to its mother's moods, so too do these dragons seem to reflect the shifts in Daenerys' humors, be they dark or light. It speaks to their bond, for Daenerys needs no dragon horn to control her children, relying only on their dedication to her, and when Victarion's Dragonbinder fell into her hands after the great battle that ended that squid's life and teems of others' lives as well, she refused to blow it.

My children come to my call alone, not the work of sorcery.

The horn lies at the bottom of the sea, lost forever. Daenerys threw it herself, using two hands to heft it overboard, as they left Meereen and Slaver's Bay behind. Should the queen ever lose her special hold on these vicious creatures, they will all be lost.

"The queen did not sleep last night," Tyrion says, his eyes fixed upon Drogon, who keeps unfurling his black wings, as if he means to take flight, but Tyrion can feel the roil of Jorah's anger without glancing his way. He wrongly assumes that Tyrion means to insinuate something about the queen's nightly habits, about how she spends her nights and with whom. Tyrion smiles to himself, because he doesn't like the queen's Ser Bear to grow too comfortable with his place at her side. Daenerys knows her consort must be more carefully chosen with an eye to political alliances, but it is even more important that Jorah understand it. "The lamps were lit from what I saw and it's no wonder: she has a great deal to consider."

Ser Jorah makes a deep sound that rumbles in the barrel of his hairy chest. "There's been too much considering. Here we sit, when the army could be attacking and taking what is hers."

"The army is sick." Greyscale has already taken some of the men and it will take more before this plague has worked its way through the ranks. Tyrion has so far avoided it and the queen in her Targaryen glory seems immune to the disease, but Penny is dead—one of the first to die and the one Tyrion was sorriest to see go—and if Jorah had any consideration for his safety, he might worry about his own mortality. But since he was reunited with and forgiven by his silver haired queen, nothing else has seemed to matter.

"Bugger the army. The dragons are healthy."

And growing every day, so that the dragons are all they would truly need to take the city. Tyrion observes their growth with both interest and dread. The Dragonpit on Rhaenys' hill might keep them, but he wonders whether the queen would submit to her children's enclosure or whether she might consider it cruel. It might be crueler to her people to let them roam free.

"Would that be your counsel then? To attack her nephew?"

Ser Jorah crosses his thick arms over his chest and rocks back on his heels. "You have a great fondness for nephews, Lannister?"

Sometimes when Jorah says his family name, it still sounds like imp, although it wouldn't do to call the queen's Hand by such a name. Jorah hasn't forgotten Tyrion is a dwarf and neither has anyone else. No one ever will. He doesn't let Jorah see that he's heard the cut, however, for he knows well enough that he'd never be free of their mockery if he did—Hand or no. He gives him a rueful smile, instead.

"I had a nephew I was not unfond of." But harmless little Tommen is dead. Just like Tommen's mother and father and nearly every other Lannister both good and bad and somewhere in between, and as that reality has sunk in, the share of Tyrion that so thirsted for revenge, for a victory that would prove his worth seems much smaller and Westeros seems less and less recognizable. He wonders if it is not the same for Daenerys after watching from Drogon's back Jon stand below her in a shower of flames.

"I don't think it's fondness exactly that troubles our queen," Tyrion says. "It's the proof of the relation itself, when she didn't believe one existed. It's rather inconvenient to discover one's enemy is one's kin. Some people have scruples about such things."

"You don't."

Tyrion snorts, rubbing at the place where his nose should be. "No, I dont' give a shit about that, but that jab of yours has grown tired. Let's be done with it now. Or do your kin have nothing to complain of in regards to your behavior, ser?"

Jorah's scarred cheek twitches, but he does not rise to the bait, breathing deeply through his nose before saying, "Whether Snow burned or not that bastard is a bloody Stark, and you know it. Any relation shouldn't trouble the queen."

Tyrion chuckles. "You know, I think Jon Snow would be rather pleased to hear you call him a Stark. He'd thank you for it, as that's the only thing that boy ever wanted to be."

"Even if it took fucking his sister to make it so?"

There is a twinge in Tyrion's belly at Jorah's words spoken against the Lady Sansa. Feelings of chivalry can present themselves at the most tiresome of moments. There is a great deal more to worry about than Sansa's honor. She could be dead in a day if Daenerys decides to attack. But he finds himself muttering, "Lady Sansa is not Jon Snow's sister."

"He's the spitting image of Ned Stark. I feel sorry for his wife married to such a somber faced prig."

She certainly is lovely. Too lovely for the solemn faced Jon Snow. Too lovely for anyone, perhaps. If he wanted to drape a Lannister red cloak on her shoulders now, it would require more than her bending her knees to accomplish it. Jon Snow had no such trouble. But every man carries his own burden, Tyrion has come to understand, whether a tall man or dwarf. Jon's might be Jaime Lannister. There was something in Sansa's tone and something in Jon's face, when she defended his brother that gave Tyrion pause. He has no wish to haunt the lovely Lady Sansa, but it is possible that another Lannister man already does.

Tyrion raises one brow, as he turns away from the dragons and towards Daenerys' brightly lit tent. "I'd save your pity. Lady Sansa has been married to more unpleasantly faced men. She no doubt considers him something of an improvement."

Ser Jorah snorts, his mouth quirking.

"I should speak with the queen before dawn breaks. She might look kindly to some advice after a sleepless night," Tyrion says to the man Daenerys calls her bear before gesturing to one of the dragon handlers, who looks appropriately terrified by the dragons' agitation, urging him to come close enough to deliver an order. "Keep a close eye on these beasts." What good that might do, he doesn't know, but perhaps if he makes headway with the queen and calms her temper, they won't have to worry about the dragons' stirrings.

The draught Maester Mullin gave her made Sansa sleep like the dead, so she knows not when Jon came to bed, but at some point her eyes opened to the unfamiliar, darkened room and she could feel him beside her, his weight dipping the mattress tick behind her.

But he was not properly in bed with her the way she would have liked. Instead of being undressed and beneath the linens, he sat propped against the simple wooden headboard, his head tilted to the side, with his black boots still on his feet. His face creased with worry even in sleep, his jaw clenched tight, Jon looked as if he had come to check on her and fallen asleep himself without ever having meant to. It didn't look a particularly restful sleep, but she didn't dare disturb him, for she suspected that if she woke him to urge him to lie down, he would leave her again to hunch over his pile of parchment, and he needed whatever rest he could steal.

Ghost was with them too, for now that she was awake, she heard his soft snores coming from beside the bed before the bedchamber's door. It would be nice to have Jon's wolf closer, but there was not room for the three of them in this small bed. Cozy even for the two of them, compared with Jon's bed in the Red Keep. It was a relief to have Jon so close and know he is safe. She curled into her husband's leg, fitting her body to him, and tucked her head into his lap. He smelled of sweat and heat and leather and an earthiness that she knew as Jon. He could stand to bathe, but it wasn't an unpleasant smell. There was something comforting about it, and although she had thought she wouldn't be able to fall back sleep, her eyes grew heavy again and her breathing slowed to match the rise and fall of Jon's chest until dreamless sleep took her once more.

When Sansa's eyes open for the second time, it is not to the soft rasp of Jon's breathing or Ghost's snore but the sound of bells. The bakery shop in which they are housed is not far from Visenya's hill, where the Sept of Baelor sits and the sound of its bells peeling is loud at this close distance. Too loud for this early, Sansa thinks, as she presses one hand over her ear. It sounds as if all of them are being wrung at once, but that can't be right. It is only on momentous occasions—the death of a king—that the bells in their seven crystal towers are all wrung. And here sits Jon, King's Landing's king, alive and slowly stirring beneath her head, his hand tangled in her hair, where it palms the base of her skull.

She pushes herself up in the bed, Jon's hand dropping from her as she blinks away the confusion of sleep to look towards the bakery bedchamber's sole window. By the grey color of the sky, she can see that it is as early as her body tells her, but there is some other strange source of light beyond the window that has nothing to do with the rising sun.

"Jon," she whispers, as she blindly searches for his hand, her gaze transfixed on the window. "Jon, I think the city is burning."

There is the sound of heavy boots on the stairs, rushing up towards them. It is the unmistakable tread of men, probably the guards posted to protect them, who now bring word of a fresh attack from Daenerys' beasts. One that could kill them all, should the fires reach the alchemists' stores of wildfire, some of which Jon's men have not been able to locate in the brief time they have held the city. Fire will consume the city. It will eat their bones.

The door is already bursting open, Ghost scrambling back to avoid its swing, when Jon mouths the word that has tightened her chest to the point where she can scarcely draw breath—dragons.

Dany swipes at her brow, as Tyrion Lannister waddles from her tent. His visit has only inflamed her more, though she knows he speaks for the voice inside of her that has increased in volume ever since she looked down upon Jon Snow, as he held aloft a sword that glowed hot in his hand and the flames of her dragons did not end his troubling existence. It is surprising to hear her Hand say it though, since he was as eager as her to come here and wage war for the throne of Westeros.

Tyrion has only been gone a minute, when she hears Ser Barristan arguing outside her tent. She pauses in her pacing to call out to him, "Who is it, ser?"

"Ser Jorah," he answers back with enough irritation to make clear how little he likes it that her bear has come to disturb the queen.

But perhaps Ser Jorah is just the man she needs to see.

"Let him in."

She has her back turned, when Ser Jorah ducks inside her tent, but she can feel his eyes on her. They are always on her, boldly fixed, since she forgave him, cupped his face, and brushed her thumb over the brand that will mark him forever as a man who was once a slave.

He will become a different sort of slave if she is queen of this land, and she wonders if he has considered what it would be like to stand behind her, while another man sits at her side. She has told Jon Snow that she will not take a husband, but they will urge her to do so, Tyrion already has urged her to do so. It is the politically expedient thing to do in a new land, where she lacks allies.

"Your Grace."

She twists her fingers before her, her gesture hidden from his sight. "It is early to be in your queen's tent."

He does not apologize. "Or late. Your little Lannister claims you didn't sleep."

Dany turns, her pale blue skirts swishing with the quickness of her movement. "I didn't. There were things to be done, so I made a little trip behind the enemy lines." Ser Jorah's brow knits and the confusion she sees there makes her smile. Not even Tyrion knows what she managed last night. She has slipped by them all like a shadow and she needed no magic to do it. "I went to visit my brother's bastard inside the walls of the city."

Her bear steps forward, his chest inflating. "You didn't."

"Oh, but I did."

"What are you about, risking yourself like that?"

There is something else in his eyes besides outrage at the risk she has taken, as if he is not quite certain what his queen was about, going to meet Jon Snow under cover of night, as if a seduction has taken place behind his back.

She waves her hand dismissively. "It was important to me that I speak with him once more now that I know who he is."

"You don't know who he is."

Daenerys looks him up and down, slowly, with great measure. He is still too brash, still too proud, but she wouldn't like him as well if he came to heel entirely. "Don't I, ser? I saw his sword glow. Are you not familiar with the prophecy?"

At least Tyrion agrees with her that Jon Snow must be who he claims he is. She has no patience for arguing this point, when a great part of her wishes it was not true. Things would be some easier—some—if he was an imposter.

"I don't care for prophecy."

She sighs. "No, you don't understand it. There's a difference."

Jorah's jaw works. "You shouldn't let that sway you. This is what you've wanted for as long as I've known you."

"Yes it is," Dany softly agrees, and that is why it is so confusing, so infuriating to feel so uncertain now. Even now her breath comes fast and her stomach twists.

"We're at the door. You should attack. Attack now. Use your dragons and end this." Jorah's voice grows more clipped with each phrase, and she envies him his certainty, but his certainty does nothing to assuage her doubts. It intensifies them.

Be quiet! she wants to scream at him, but she counts five, instead, trying to regain her slipping control over herself. "I sent Tyrion away for lecturing me, and now I see you've come to do the same. I hoped for something else from you."

He hesitates, looks as if he might take another step towards her, and finally asks, "What is it you want from me, Daenerys?"

Dany considers for a long moment, her heart fluttering painfully. "I don't know. Not knowing what I want from you is part of my dilemma."

Jon Snow does not seem a bad man and perhaps he would not be a bad king. He is a Targaryen, although he looks nothing like her and has been raised by a traitorous dog. But if she left the ruling to him, she might have the other things she sometimes thinks she'd rather have. Sometimes, when her woman's heart awakens her from heated dreams.

"Forgive me, Your Grace, but you wanted to come home and we're here."

Home. "But where is home really, my bear?" Here in this strange land? In a house with a red door and a lemon tree outside her window? Or would she find her home in something, someone much closer. Something that stands to be snatched away from her, should she rule Westeros as its queen. Would she ever feel at home here with her heart's choice closed to her forever?

He must hear the weakness in her voice, for he begins to move towards her and only stops short when shouts ring out somewhere beyond her tent. His hand goes to his sword, hovering there, and she raises her hand to him, stilling him as she tilts her head.

Jon Snow did not seem poised to attack, when she left him. If anything he seemed as troubled as she, but something has disturbed the camp.

The flap of her tent flies back, and Ser Barristan stands outlined in the grey light before dawn. "Drogon has taken flight."

Her breath catches in her throat. "Taken off for where?"

"King's Landing, Your Grace."

Her hand flies to her mouth, as she chokes back the sudden certainty that King's Landing in flames is not what she wants but that it might be too late to stop her child from setting it ablaze.

Why would Drogon do this?

Ser Barristan and Ser Jorah speak at once, their mouths moving, but she hears no sound. She only sees Drogon's wings against the sky and the defenders of King's Landing below, and she knows what she must do. She must stop him.

"A horse, ser. Fetch me a horse at once."