Disclaimer: Copyright stuff blah. Sorry you hate fanfic so much, Martin.
AN: This is as much as I have written for what was initially supposed to be a one-shot. I have some vague plot ideas for continuing it, but it could also stand on its own. Opinions as to whether I should add more and/or where to take it are appreciated. :)
Also, this chapter immediately follows the preceding one, time-wise. I wasn't sure if that was clear in the beginning, so just wanted to point it out.
Daenerys dreamed again that night.
She had not slept without dreams since she had taken Meereen, but every night the dreams were different. Last night, with Daario in her bed, she had dreamt of three dragons in a fighting pit. The largest watched as the two smaller beasts, blue and black, circled one another, tensed for the fight, but when they breathed their fire it was the big silver dragon who burned away in the flames.
She had felt so alone when she woke, and when Daario stirred she had thought he might comfort her, but then he had mumbled, "It was only a dream, my queen. Go back to sleep." And so she had curled herself tighter under the sheets, and prayed she would not dream again.
Tonight she dreamt of the Red Keep, her father's seat in Kings Landing. The palace that was hers by rights. She had never seen it, but Viserys had spoken of it so often that she sometimes believed she had. In the dream the silver dragon towered over the castle, burning everything in its sight, and she exulted. In the dragon's body she reached out to touch the Iron Throne, but its blades cut through her scales, and her blood ran along its edges. When she tried to scream, only fire came from the dragon's mouth, igniting the bloody throne, and it all began to slip away as she fell through the ground, deeper and deeper…
When she woke she was sweating, and she could not stop a small cry from escaping her lips. She felt an arm fall over her waist, but for a moment she could not remember who it belonged to. She rolled onto her side and pulled the arm across her, clutching it to her chest.
Jorah nuzzled her hair in response, muttering sleepily in her ear.
"What troubles you, my queen?"
Dany shook her head. "It was only a dream."
He waited for her to continue, stretching his body a little so he could hold her closer.
"What did you dream of?"
She hesitated a moment. "Westeros," she whispered. "Fire and blood."
Jorah exhaled slowly but said nothing. Instead he pressed his lips to her shoulder and ran a thumb along her hand where it gripped his own, and Dany knew he had understood.
I would have had to explain to Daario. Could she ever explain to Daario what Westeros meant to her? Would he ever understand?
Dany didn't want to think about Daario – or her dreams - anymore. She turned to face her husband and wrapped her arms around his waist.
"What would our wedding have been like in Westeros, Jorah?"
He thought a moment. "Well…that depends."
"In the south – in Kings Landing - we would be wed by the High Septon, in the Sept of Baelor, before the eyes of the Seven."
Were my parents wed there? "What does the Sept of Baelor look like?"
"I do not know, my queen. I have visited Kings Landing on only a few occasions, and never had cause to go to a sept."
"My house worships the old gods, Daenerys. Not the Seven."
Oh. "And if we were wed before the old gods?"
He smiled. "That is done in the godswood, before a heart tree."
"A tree? Outside?"
"Even in winter, yes."
"And what does a heart tree look like?"
"Pure white, with blood red leaves, and the faces of ancients carved into their bark. There are few left in Westeros now, but it is said that beyond the Wall they grow in abundance."
Dany pushed back so she could look at him. "You are jesting. Trees do not have faces."
"Weirwoods do, khaleesi. It is said that the children of the forest carved them, and that the gods see through their eyes. Their sap dries red, and when it drips it sometimes seems as though the gods weep tears of blood."
How strange, and sad. And beautiful. That seemed right for him somehow, for the sort of gods that a man like Jorah Mormont would follow.
She tipped her head up to kiss him, and he brushed a strand of silver hair back from her face.
Dany had never heard of a heart tree before, though she remembered a little about Westerosi weddings from the songs and histories Ser Jorah had given to her. At my first wedding. My Dothraki wedding. She, the last Targaryen, had wed one husband in the Dothraki style, and now two more in Ghisgari fashion, to please the Meereenese people who despised her. She might never have a wedding like the ones she had read about, or enter the Sept of Baelor, or see a heart tree.
Jorah brushed his lips over hers, his fingers weaving through her hair. Yet I still managed to find a Westerosi husband, she thought. But she had married a man from the Free Cities as well. Was this her fate - forever torn between Essos and Westeros, never truly at peace?
What would a Tyroshi wedding be like? Dany shook the thought away. Westeros was her home, not Tyrosh. And not Meereen, either. Had she forgotten?
"Do you know the words, Jorah? Do you remember them?"
He did not have to ask her what words she meant. "The old or the new?"
"Either," she replied, "Whichever you prefer."
"With this kiss I pledge my love, and take you for my lady and wife," he whispered against her mouth, "and my queen," and kissed her again. "Now you repeat it."
"With this kiss I pledge my love, and take you for my lord and husband." Dany kissed him back harder, parting his lips with her tongue, and his hand tightened around the back of her neck.
When he rolled her over onto her back and covered her body with his she thought they were done with words, but he spoke softly between kisses, continuing the ceremony.
"Here in the sight of gods and men…"
Can the gods see us here, so far from home?
"I do solemnly proclaim…Jorah of House Mormont…and Daenerys Stormborn…of House Targaryen…Queen of the Andals and the First Men…ruler of the Seven Kingdoms…and protector of the realm…"
Dany laughed. "I don't think we need all the titles."
"Daenerys of House Targaryen," he repeated, "to be man and wife…"
"And king and queen," she added.
"One flesh…one heart…one soul…now and forever…" he slid his hands down her bare torso and settled them on her waist. "And cursed be the one who comes between them."
"Cursed be the one who comes between us," Dany whispered, and brought her hips up to meet his.
Jorah groaned, and then they did not speak again until morning.
Her heart was heavy all the next day. She held court as usual, listened to the moanings of the Meereenese nobles, the sorrows of her people. Her tokar felt more tightly wound than it ever had. Queen of the Rabbits, she thought.
The King of the Rabbits sat on her left, though he had shunned his pair of floppy ears in favor of his usual outlandish garb. The seat to her right was empty; Ser Jorah had taken his customary position as Commander of her Queensguard, standing before her ebony bench with his hand on his sword.
When she had entered her throne room that morning, her captains and advisors were waiting for her, and so were both her husbands. Daario had swaggered up to her immediately, seizing her in his arms, and kissed her violently before the entire assembly.
"Bright queen," he said when he had released her, "I have missed you."
Dany only blushed in response, and flashed him a shy smile. She thought she heard one of her bloodriders mutter something in Dothraki, but couldn't make out the words. They were waiting with Ser Jorah and the others as she made her way to her makeshift throne, King Daario at her heels. She could not bring herself to look at Jorah's face, but planted a kiss on his cheek in apology.
"Khaleesi." His use of her Dothraki title made Dany nervous. Was he angry with her? It was not her fault if Daario overstepped a bit sometimes…should she have reprimanded him for being so forward in front of her court? In front of her other husband?
Perhaps she ought to have thought more carefully about their arrangements at court. Should she keep only one king on the throne at a time, the way she kept only one in her bed each night? Had Aegon the Conqueror kept his sister queens apart, Visenya ruling one day and Rhaenys the next? For the thousandth time she wished there were another Targaryen by her side, someone to tell her what to do. How to rule the way her ancestors had. How to love two men at once.
"Will you join us, Ser?" For Daario had already taken his place at the side of her bench, and she could feel his eyes on her.
Jorah spoke carefully. "My place is here."
He is angry, she thought, until he pulled her gently towards him and pressed his lips to her forehead.
My knight. He would sooner protect me than rule at my side. Dany didn't know how to feel about that, but she sat her rabbit's throne without protest and let her Queensguard keep watch over her court.
The heavy feeling followed her all day, and grew worse as each of her people came forth, Hizdahr zo Lorak complaining about the fighting pits, her Unsullied reporting the activities of the Sons of the Harpy, former slaves and former masters at odds for countless offenses. Meereen had begun to seem an endless pit of mud, sucking her in with its flow of troubles, dragging her ever further from her Iron Throne.
After the tension of the day, she had expected another nightmare, but her dream that night was a good one.
In her sleep, Dany stood before a forest of heart trees, blood red against stark white, blanketed in snowfall. She felt the cold on her face, and when she touched the largest tree it was cold as well, its bark smooth. She laughed, and brushed the red sap from beneath its carved eyes, and then she felt something warm and soft cover her shoulders. When she turned Ser Jorah was standing before her, in a white cloak and gilded armor, and the cloak around her own shoulders was green velvet lined with fur. He closed the clasp around her neck and bent to kiss her, and then she was on the ground, in his arms, and they were making love as they had on their delayed wedding night, only this time there was a bearskin beneath them, and a fire burned in a wooden hearth…
She woke all at once, and her chest hurt. She wanted to fall back into the dream, but knew it was gone.
Where is my husband? Which one is it, tonight?
She reached out a hand, but touched no one. Confused, she sat up and looked over the bed, and found Daario perched on the edge, fully dressed, pulling on his boots. She reached out a hand to touch his shoulder, but he drew away.
"You were dreaming of your other husband, I think," he growled, "perhaps you ought to summon him."
He left in a storm, and slammed her door behind him.
Dany's blood was racing. What have I done?
She yanked a nightshift over her head and followed Daario out the door, but her feet led her down the hall, past her servants' quarters and towards the slightly larger rooms where her bloodriders slept, and her Queensguard. She pounded on the door with a fist, not caring who might hear.
"Jorah!" It came out like a sob, so she tried again. "Jorah!"
He was half asleep when he opened the door, and half naked, but she didn't care. "Daenerys?" he groaned, "What…"
Dany flung herself at him, locking her arms around his neck, and began to weep softly into his shoulder. His arms went around her, his face buried in her hair, and she felt safe again.
"I want to go home, Jorah."
He held her tightly but did not speak. There was nothing to say. It is done, and we all must live with it. Dany was so tired of doing what she must; she must please her people, must be their floppy-eared ruler, must be fair to both her husbands when she wanted to be free to spend her nights where she chose. But she had chosen this, hadn't she?
She had stayed in Meereen – ignoring Jorah's council – because she believed it was right for her people, and married two men because she believed it was right for her. But what did she truly want?
What have I done?