The second time it happens, Jorah is actually prepared. He's been expecting this ever since he moved his sleeping mat outside of Danerys' tent. As he hears her terrified moans, he is instantly alert and quietly moves into her tent, already knowing what sight will greet him. Daenerys, asleep on her mat, thrashing, struggling, terrified, caught in a nightmare. This time, he isn't surprised when he hears his name from her lips. He actually allows himself to feel a quick surge of pride that even in her dreams, his queen would look to him for protection, and doesn't hesitate to kneel down next to her, gently touching her face and calling her name, trying to wake her, to free her from the horrible images in her sleep.
Whereas the last time, waking her up proved impossible, this time she awakes at once, her eyes flying open. He keeps stroking her hair, trying to calm her, giving her time to adjust and properly wake up.
"You were having another nightmare, my queen."
At this, she freezes. Their eyes locked, he silently waits for her denial and is shocked when he sees defeat and acceptance in her eyes. With a sigh she looks away and sits up.
"I know. Thank you for waking me, my valiant knight."
She looks at him once more, as if trying to gauge his reaction, looking almost amused at his shocked expression and how all he manages in response to her thanks is a brief nod. He was prepared to fight her, to get her to admit that even the mother of dragons can suffer from bad dreams, but her quiet admission and gratitude throws him, rendering him momentarily speechless. The ensuing silence is far from awkward, however. Sitting close to each other on the floor of Daenerys' tent, looking at her, trying to make out the reason for her sudden, but definitely not unwanted admission of nightmares, feels comfortable. Almost familiar.
"My own nightmares started when my lord father joined the Night Watch," he finally breaks the silence. "In my dreams, I suddenly remembered all the gruesome tales of White Walkers, giants and wildlings I'd heard as a boy. The dreams have changed over the years and grown further apart, but I don't think I'll ever be rid of them."
He can clearly see that opening up, admitting to his own nightmares, was not what she expected, as she is still silently looking at him, her expression unreadable. And now, with his own admission hanging in the air between them, the silence that was once companionable becomes oppressive. Just as he thinks it unbearable, doubting his decision to tell her one of his best kept secrets, fearing she will now think him weak, unfit to guard and protect her, her expression softens, a small smile playing at her lips.
"I thought bears didn't have nightmares."
"How I wish that were true, my queen."
The honest desperation in his tired voice startles her, wiping the teasing smile off her face, changing her expression to one of deep concentration, as if she was trying to solve a complicated puzzle. Finally, she looks up at him, a lost and insecure look on her face making her appear more like the young girl she is than the mother of dragons.
"But how …," she trails off, glancing away once more.
Gently, Jorah reaches out to touch her cheek, turning her eyes back to him, smiling at her encouragingly.
"What is it, Daenerys?"
He sees insecurity change to indecision and switch to determination, as she makes up her mind to give voice to the question that is so obviously on her mind.
"How do you live with the nightmares? How do you keep them from consuming you?" she asks in a tired voice that makes her sound far too old for someone so young.
Only when she leans into his hand, seeking warmth and comfort does Jorah notice he is still cradling her cheek, his thumb slowly stroking her. Their eyes locked, he can't help the words that are screaming inside his head from forming on his lips.
"By accepting help from the people who love you, Daenerys."
Jorah's last words resonate in her mind, as she sits there, looking at him with wide eyes. Surely he doesn't mean... No, he is her trusted advisor. Her friend. Of course, he loves her. Like any knight loves his queen. But the look in his eyes belies her reasoning. If he truly only loves her like a knight loves his queen, why is there such longing and sadness in his look? And why does he seem to be blushing, if not because he said more than he intended to?
When his look turns to resignation and he drops his gaze she realizes she has been staring at him longer than she intended, and the silence has turned awkward, which prompts her to speak the first things that comes to her mind.
"Who did you turn to for help when your nightmares came?"
He looks up at her, surprise written clearly on his face. She is not sure what kind of response he was expecting, but this clearly wasn't it.
"The only person who knew about my nightmares was my first lady wife. She would try to wake me up and sing to me, until I fell back asleep. Nothing in particular, just any song that came to her."
A small smile forms on her lips at the image of Ser Jorah Mormont of Bear Island being sung to sleep. The smile turns to a frown, when she thinks of the reason behind the singing. The thought of her bear having nightmares so bad he needed the comfort of his wife's lullabies is unbearable, yet at the same time it is comforting to know someone as strong as her knight could suffer from nightmares as well. It somehow lessens the hold of her own bad dreams, which, she realizes, is exactly why he told her these very intimate details of his life.
"What happened to your wife?"
"She died in childbed. As did the child."
She knew his first wife must have died. He had after all been married a second time. But for her to have died while giving birth to Jorah's child is oddly unsettling. She had never really thought about her knight's life before his banishment. How he once had a family, and would have been a father to the future Lord of Bear Island. How he had been sworn to someone else, belonged to someone else. As quickly as that thought surfaces in her mind, Dany banishes it. Jorah Mormont does not belong to her. Nor would she even want to own him. She is almost sure of that.
Forcing these confusing thoughts out of her mind, she thinks back to Jorah's earlier confession. If he had accepted comfort and solace from his wife, this can only mean one thing.
"You must have loved her a great deal."
"I did," he replies, a sad smile on his face. Before she has a chance to examine her feelings about this short, honest answer, he continues.
"I loved and respected her as a friend, as someone I could spend the rest of my life with. But not as a man loves and desires a woman. My feelings for her pale in comparison to what I feel..." he drifts off, and once again can't meet her eyes.
Daenerys is not sure she wants him to finish his sentence, isn't sure she feels comfortable with where this conversation might be headed. Then again, if the swarm of butterflies in her stomach is anything to go by, maybe she does want him to continue? It seems that arguing these points is useless, though, because apparently Jorah was quicker than her and, while she was arguing with herself, has made up his mind. Determination written all over his familiar features, he calmly looks at her once more.
"It is very fitting indeed that you are now the only person who knows of my nightmares, Daenerys."
Before her brain has time to process this last bit of information, Jorah, eyes never wavering from hers, determination still prominent on his face, reaches up to her face, cups her cheek and begins a slow, caressing movement with his thumb. This careful, gentle caress from her powerful knight, paired with the unmistakable look of longing, admiration, and love he is giving her, answers all her unasked questions.
His last words were meant exactly the way they sounded. As was his earlier declaration. Her knight, her bear, loves her. Not as a knight loves a queen, but as a man loves and desires a woman. He is in love with her.
Her gasp of surprise is trapped by Jorah's lips on hers. Once again Daenerys is surprised by his gentleness and restraint, and the softness of his lips. This isn't the forceful, demanding kiss she's been used to, this is something new entirely. Jorah's kiss is light, tender, unassuming. As if he is waiting for her to make up her mind, to decide if this is something she wants. If he and his love are something she wants. He put it all on the line, opened his heart, offered it to her and in doing so put himself completely at her mercy. For the first time in her life, she is the one in control of her heart. She isn't sold off to Jorah by a brother long dead, doesn't have any obligations, anything to gain by accepting him. The decision is hers and hers alone.
The realization that Ser Jorah, her brave bear, has not only given her his heart, but this miraculous gift of choice, of free will, brings tears to her eyes, and a stab to her heart, so strong, she pulls away to get hear bearings. He is looking at her crestfallen, and only as he mumbles a quick apology and is about to get up, does she realize how her pulling away from his kiss must look to him.
It is in that moment she realizes that Jorah Mormont leaving her, pulling away from her, is unacceptable. That the thought of being without her bear by her side, bereft of his company, his familiar touch, his embrace, and yes, his love, is something she does not ever want to consider.
He is already standing, about to turn and leave her tent, when she speaks up.
He turns around, a hopeful look replacing the forlorn expression as he sees her smile and reach out for him. As she grabs his hand, pulls him down next to her and fixes her lips on his in a searing kiss, she cannot help but think how right if feels to be kissing him. Not only because he is an excellent kisser, tender and forceful at the same time, his tongue unhurriedly learning and exploring her mouth, but because this kiss is shared with him. Her bear. The one person who knows her secrets, who knows her. And who doesn't judge her or think her weak, but lays open his darkness, his own secrets in return.
Here and now, protectively wrapped in Jorah's arms, still kissing him, because she really does not want to stop, loves the feeling of his tongue sliding against hers, the feeling of his stubble against her fingers and cheek, she decides to let go. To break down her walls and accept his comfort. His love. To let herself be vulnerable with him.
And she realizes that Jorah's love gives her the strength and courage to face her nightmares.