A/N: So, I'm back! College has been crazy, per usual. Once again, I DON'T OWN ANYTHING! THE WONDERFUL AND CRAZILY TALENTED GEORGE R.R. MARTIN DOES!
The Red Waste is harsh, baking her skin and turning it to leather. Her hair is dry and brittle; she can pull it out in clumps. Her lips are cracked and bleeding from lack of water. Her eyes are dry and her nose burns from the dust. She should be burning up, broiling from the sun's cruel gaze.
But, she's not. She's freezing cold. She sits amongst the other Dothraki and cannot feel the heat that is slowly suffocating them all. Her arms are wrapped around her legs, chin resting on her knees. She hugs herself to keep from shaking. Irri closes her eyes, feels a sob building in her chest. She purses her lips, squeezing herself tighter. She knows she shouldn't cry; the Khaleesi promised her that Rhakaro would ride with his ancestors. The Khaleesi meant every word, Irri knows this.
Yet, the Khaleesi's promises do nothing to help heal the ache that was in her heart. Irri presses her forehead to her knees, biting her bottom lip. The Red Waste has stolen all her tears; Irri finds that she cannot even cry for him. Her lack of tears does not stop the sobs from shaking her shoulders. Small noises crawl from her throat, reminding her of a wounded animal.
Irri hears the footsteps, but doesn't bother to look up. There's the sound of someone settling beside her, then an arm around her shoulders. Irri raises her head just enough to see it is the Khaleesi's arms around her. The Khaleesi pulls her close, presses her head to her chest and shushes her softly. She whispers in Dothraki the same promise she made when Rhakaro's horse returned with his head. Irri nods her head absently, tightening her arms around the Khaleesi.
The Khaleesi's quiet strength makes Irri jealous. Even after the death of Khal Drogo, the Khaleesi had remained as strong as she could. She had walked into the funeral pyre and emerged with three dragons, a goddess of fire and rebirth. Now she leads them through the Red Waste, attempting to remain strong in the eyes of her people. While the Khaleesi is holding herself together, Irri is falling apart.
The Khaleesi holds her until she quiets, smoothing her hair away from her face. The Khaleesi cups Irri's face in her hands, peering into Irri's eyes.
"Will you be alright, Irri?"
Irri wishes she could tell the truth to the Khalessi. She won't be alright. Rhakaro is gone; her world is gone. They are more than likely going to die in this forsaken wasteland, and no one will find anything but their bones. Instead, Irri gives the Khaleesi a close-lipped smile and nods her head. She wonders if this is how the Khaleesi felt the night Khal Drogo died, attempting to hold herself together while she crumbles on the inside. The feeling is sharp enough to make her gut twist as the lie slips easily past her lips.
The Khaleesi returns her smile with an uncertain glance, as if she knows Irri is lying. Instead of questioning her, the Khaleesi pushes herself to her feet and wanders back towards Jorah the Andal. Irri returns to her original position, staring out at the Red Waste. She can feel desperation settling icy claws around her heart, despair making her head ache. She breathes Rhakaro's name, a silent prayer, as if invoking him would bring him back.
Nothing answers her but the silence of the wasteland.