Dany sighed as she slowly made her way back downstairs, reminding herself to find Doreah and ask her to fetch Athi to the Starks' room. If Dany could make an amateur guess, she'd say that the Stark baby would arrive within the next few days. She groaned internally with sympathy, remembering how hard and awful it had been riding a horse at that stage with Rhaego, how her body had ached all over by the time came to make camp for the night on the Dothraki Sea. She was glad that Talisa Stark had reached Dragonstone in time and could rest in comfort for at least a little while as she waited for her baby.
She remembered to plaster a smile on her face as she descended the stairs, but it soon became a genuine one when she saw Drogo watching her from his seat near the fire, a sleeping Baeli curled up on his chest, little fist still clinging onto his shirt. Approaching them, she asked him quietly, "Everything all right?"
He grunted and took a drink. "You?" he asked.
"We will talk later," she promised, acknowledging the need for discussion. Why was this so hard? Gods, I've missed him. What is wrong with us?
He nodded slightly, and returned to his drink.
"I love you," she whispered, aching for him to know it.
"And I you," he answered immediately, and reached for her hand, never taking his eyes from the fire. He intertwined her fingers with his and squeezed lightly. "We made beautiful babies, Daenerys," he said suddenly, bringing her hand to his mouth for a kiss.
"Yes," she agreed, her voice barely above a whisper. "We've done that well."
He moved Baeli over slightly, and tugged on Dany's hand. "Come, sit," he invited, and was relieved when she accepted and sat down in his lap, leaning back on the side of his chest that Baeli wasn't occupying. It felt beyond good to hold her, and felt even better as she sank down into him, her muscles and bones relaxing into his arms. Gods, he'd missed her so.
"Did everyone come back today?" she asked sleepily, letting his warmth and embrace overtake her tired body.
"No, not everyone. There were a few that fell at Harrenhal," he answered, and kissed her temple. "We built pyres the night we took it. I did bring Rhakaro back alive for you and that girl of yours."
"Oh, good. I didn't want to ask. He is my most trusted qoy qoyi." She felt a little better.
"Never be afraid of death, my Khaleesi. It finds us all," he said, meaning to comfort her.
"That's the one thing we can expect in our lives," she agreed, raising her head to look at him. "Drogo, Tyrion Lannister has stayed, you know."
A long pause as he took a drink, and a longer one until he met her eyes. "So, the old man wasn't lying about his youngest turning traitor."
"He's been a great help to me," she answered. "There's a chance, not a large one, that he's not Tywin's, but my father's bastard. Tywin refused him the right to inherit."
Drogo grunted in question. "Bastard?"
"A child born outside a marriage," she quickly explained. It still surprised her, the things he didn't know, just as much as it pleased her how much he did.
"Well, then, most of the Dothraki people are such a thing," he observed after a long moment. "Does this make us less in the eyes of Westeros?"
"To some, perhaps. Bastards cannot inherit by the laws of Westeros. Some kinds of work, knighthood and such, are forbidden to them," she added helpfully.
"Fuck. All these knights . . . their parents were wedded?" He looked around in a bit of surprise. "Marriage is common here."
"Yes, it is," she agreed.
"We're not as unique here as we were in Essos," he pointed out. He seemed almost sad.
"No," she sighed. "But that doesn't change what you mean to me."
He nodded, and drained his cup. "Robb is coming," he said, shifting slightly and helping her to stand up. He passed his sleeping daughter to her and stood himself. "We should gather your private council and go up to the chamber, yes? A bit of talk before dinner?"
She sighed. "Can it wait? I'd rather just relax with you tonight. I'm tired," she finally admitted.
"When was the last time you ate?" he asked quietly, not wanting anyone else to hear.
She looked at him for a moment, the emotion on her face was one he'd not seen before. "This morning," she answered shortly, before turning and walking away.
He was left standing in front of the chair, wondering what in the Seven Hells was going on. What the fuck did I do now? he thought. Coming home is not what I thought it would be, he thought regretfully. I was away from her too long. She was alone with too much to carry in her saddle. He fought the urge to chase after her, instead he rubbed a hand over his face and scratched at his beard and looking around at the rest of the room.
He saw the Maester walking nearby, and Drogo stepped in front of him. "You," he said quietly and forcefully. "Meet me in the private coucil, now. Get Selmy, and meet me there," he commanded. He glanced over and saw Dany once more in deep conversation with Robb and Lord Karstark as she rocked a snoozing Baeli in her arms. She hadn't seen the interaction.
Maester Pylos didn't say a word, just nodded and bowed slightly before retreating to his search for Dany's closest advisor. Drogo stalked his way up the steps and down the long corridor to the chamber and shut the door firmly behind him. He pondered calling someone to light the fire that had gone out, but decided that he could build his own fucking fire, or better still, let them all be cold so they could resolve the matter sooner.
The door opened and shut behind him, so he turned from the dark fireplace to face them. "YOU," he roared out, towering over both Ser Barristan Selmy and Maester Pylos. "Both of you! I left you in charge. I trusted you with my wife and children. I come home to a sick wife, and she's angry with me. What the fuck happened here?"
Ser Barristan glanced sideways at a visibly shaking Pylos, but held his ground. "Her Grace does what she feels is best, Khal Drogo," he answered evenly. "No amount of advising will change that. She gave herself entirely to her household and left nothing for herself, despite all the urgings to the contrary."
"I left you in charge!" Drogo shouted, feeling immensely better that he could expel some of his rage.
"You left Daenerys in charge. She is our Queen, and rightfully so," Selmy corrected him smoothly. "She understands the price of her crown."
Drogo glared at the man, but refrained from further yelling, turning his attention to the shaking maester who was struggling to speak. "I . . . I tried. I made teas to stimulate her appetite, we took small matters into our own hands to not cause so much time away from her children, we tried, Khal Drogo."
"She's that bull headed that the both of you couldn't make her see reason?" he demanded, and then stopped, realizing suddenly that it could possibly be true. The memory of her stitching up his chest came to him immediately. Oh Daenerys, you stubborn . . .
"Her Grace is indeed strong," Selmy agreed, fighting a proud smile. "She did whatever she could, by whatever means necessary, to make the time quicken for your return."
Drogo took a deep breath. "What has happened here?" He repeated his question, this time more calmly. He had relieved himself of his pent up frustrations, so he pulled out a chair from the long table and sat. Now was the time for them to talk.
"The Wall is desperate for more men, Your Grace," Selmy answered him. "Threats from the Boltons and the Freys, both strong Houses backing the Lannisters. Threats from King's Landing. It appears, as much as she despises him, Cersei wants her little brother back. These threats have caused our Queen much concern. If the dragons weren't here to reassure her, I'm afraid she would be much worse off."
"What of Stannis and the rumor of his ever growing army?" Drogo asked, resting his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands together.
"We have heard he means to recruit the hill dwellers and even wildlings if he can," Selmy answered. "But I doubt he will bring battle to Dragonstone. He has no ships left."
"We can't depend on that." Drogo answered, standing once again. "Now, I'm hungry. We need to eat, and we need to stop this talk now so Daenerys and Robb can join in and decide what to do with this fucking mess. Daenerys needs a decent meal and a restful night. Do not disturb us until we can take lunch in this room tomorrow. Come, let's have a feast." He turned and left them to the silence of the cold council chamber.
Making his way back down to the reception Hall, he heaved a great sigh of relief and rubbed the back of his neck. That felt good. Now, to feed Daenerys and enjoy his evening. She didn't seem to like it when he brought attention to her gaunt form by any method, so he settled with accepting it quietly for now and seeing to taking care of her with more subtlety. She wasn't a scared fifteen year old girl any longer; she'd be twenty on her next nameday, a Lady of her own House and land, vying for her rightful place on the Iron Throne, and here he was treating her like she was still that girl. He had the unnerving thought that maybe she didn't need him any longer, and it didn't sit well with him. He had to steal her away for a few moments. It couldn't wait any longer.
He searched the small crowd of bannermen and found her sitting in the chair they had occupied before their last altercation, Baeli awake and hiding her face from Robb, who was trying to get her to smile. She glanced up when he approached, and smiled her gorgeous smile at him. We're going to be fine, he realized with relief. He reached out to her and she stood up, taking his hand in hers. "Robb, excuse us for a few minutes," Drogo said gruffly, turning his attention to his friend for a moment before leading Dany away.
"Find one of your girls to take Baeli for a bit," he said quietly in her ear, his words for her alone.
"I can't talk now, Drogo. It's almost time to host the feast," she protested regretfully.
"I don't want to talk," he answered, taking the hand that he was holding and pressing it to his need inconspicuously behind her skirts.
"Oh!" she exclaimed quietly. "I don't think we have time for that, either."
"Make time. Find it. Find a girl. Fuck, find Sansa. I don't care, just please do it now," he answered, nuzzling her ear and inhaling her sweet perfume.
She nodded, tilting her head toward him slightly, enjoying the shiver of pleasure of his breath on her ear and neck. She quickly walked away from him and through the crowd to the stairs, climbing a few to get a better look, finding Rhaego and Sansa in the far corner, building a 'cave' with some chairs and unused cushions. Drogo watched as Dany took Baeli over and stuck her into the 'cave', Rhaego laughing and clapping at his baby sister's giggles. He watched her have a quick word with Sansa, who smiled happily and kissed Baeli on the cheek. Drogo wondered briefly how much longer Sansa would have to wait for her own children, how much joy she received in playing with his two young ones.
Dany walked quickly back to him, and he pulled her into a small room behind the stairs that could be locked. Wedging the iron lock into place, he turned to her and lifted her in his arms and pushed her against the wall as his mouth pressed to hers. He reached down and hiked her skirt up, his warm hand on her thigh making her gasp. He was already breathing hard, Daenerys pinned between him and the wall, not a bit of room between them. Mine, you're mine, he mind kept chanting to her. Missed you like a lost limb, my wife. He felt his rage coil within him at Robb's hands in hers, and turned his head, biting her on the neck, her quiet whimper spurring him on to mark her.
She grabbed him by the hair and pulled him back. "That was a bit unnecessary," she snapped, but his mouth was on hers again before she could protest further, and she melted into his kiss as quickly as he knew she would.
"Sorry," he answered to placate her, kissing her on the purpling mark. "Missed you."
"Marking your territory. Been awhile since you've pissed on this tree?" she asked, her irritation overriding the tease it was intended to be.
He paused for a moment, her reaction unsettling him. What the fuck? "I'm sorry," he said again, and this time he meant it. He kissed the mark gently, then moved up to claim her mouth. She pushed back on him.
"Stop," she whispered, pushing back on his shoulders. "Put me down."
"Daenerys," he protested sadly, but put her down on her feet and helped her smooth out the yards of the velvet fabric of her dress. He couldn't help but notice that the soft, dark blue gown hung on her more loosely than it was intended to. Oh, my sweet girl, you're sicker than you're letting on, aren't you? He felt absolutely gutted.
"I . . . I can't," she started, but began to cry.
"Sweetheart," he whispered to her, kissing her cheek and pulling her into his arms. "I'm sorry." He held her for a few minutes, letting her cry, her sobs growing louder and more gut wrenching as he held her. I have no idea what the fuck is happening anymore, he admitted to himself, mentally throwing his hands in the air. He helld her tighter to his chest and kissed the top of her head, then pulled a corner of his loose linen shirt out of his leather riding pants. "Here, dry up, beautiful girl. We have a feast to host. Sit with me?"
She looked up at him as she wiped her face. "Yes, of course," she agreed, trying to smile. "I'm sorry . . ."
"No, I did wrong," he said, putting one finger over her mouth tenderly. "You were right. I saw Robb holding your hands, and you smiled at him like that . . ."
"Oh," she whispered, realization dawning. She looked him in the eyes, shaking her head. "Drogo, I'd never . . . I wish I hadn't said that. I didn't mean it, truly."
"I know, Daenerys. I know. It just," he sighed and rubbed his face with one hand as he was wont to do when he was frustrated. "It happened at perfectly the wrong time, I suppose. It rubbed a sore wound."
"You're mine," she reminded him softly, reaching out and placing her palm on his chest. "Every beat." She grabbed his hand and placed it right between her breasts. "I'm yours. Every beat," she promised.
He brought his hands up and cupped her face gently, letting her eyes see into his. "I love you. I don't know why we're different now, but I love you the same. We will talk after we eat, and we will have a quiet night together."
She smiled. "That may be a challenge," she replied. "Both Rhaego and Baeli have been frightfully spoiled, I'm afraid. They sleep in the bed with me now, I don't know if they will go to their own beds any longer."
"Well, Ave is home and wants his spot back, they're going to have to accept it," Drogo answered, grinning, and leaned over her to unlock the door. "Let's eat. I want to see the look on our guests faces when they bring out that roasted horse." He laughed at her answering groan.
Ushering her through the Main Hall and into the large dining Hall, he pulled out the chair at the head of the table. He thought for a moment, then guided her to sit before bending over to ask her quietly, "What would you like me to put on your plate? Whatever you want."
She glanced around the table, and the side table where some of the kitchen servants were putting out more food. She noticed Robb watching her from his seat on her left. He was staring at her neck for a split moment before he moved his gaze to the four Dothraki men carrying the horse on the spit. He caught Dany looking at him and he grinned. "That," he said, gesturing to the horse with his knife. "That is actually pretty good."
She laughed outright. "I wish I could have said the same after the first time I'd had it," she admitted ruefully.
"It took you a long time to like horse," Drogo agreed.
"Yes, but you hunted for me and spoiled me," she pointed out. "It wouldn't have taken so long if you hadn't done that."
"You're mine to spoil," he answered quickly, kissing her on the forehead. "I wanted you happy, if it took all the rabbits and birds in the world to do it."
Something about the expression on Robb's face made her ask, "Is Talisa coming down to join us, or shall I bring her some supper up to her later?"
Robb smiled. "She was going to come down, but she was so tired that I didn't want to make her. I'll take her up something later. After having endured feasts with the Baratheons and Lannisters, it's a great relief to sit with such informality, Daenerys. This is nice. I like it."
"I prefer it this way," Dany answered with a smile. "There's no great need for ceremony to eat a meal together, as eating together in itself makes the bond." She suddenly remembered, and caught Doreah's eye from further down the table, where she was waiting on Qotho and a few other of Drogo's closest bloodriders. Doreah filled a few plates, then came to Dany.
"Can you go find Athi and a few of the other women to wait on Talisa Stark? I've got a funny feeling that we're going to need to prepare for a baby sooner than we thought," Dany whispered to her. "Go up with them, and take her some food from the table. I don't want Robb to worry."
Doreah disappeared on quiet feet, unnoticed by Drogo and Robb as they talked about their last hunt together before sailing home. Dany was lost in the talk about deer and elk in the snow for a moment before Drogo pressed her again for what she wanted. "I saw goose further down," he offered, nudging her arm gently. "I'm getting some of that for me."
"Yes, please," she answered. "That, and a cut off the horse, please. Oh, and can you see if there are some roasted pumpkins down there at that end? With honey, if you would."
Pleased, Drogo went to seek what she'd requested. He pointed and had a girl fill Dany's plate with the goose, bread with the cherries in it he knew she liked, and found her the pumpkin before moving to the horse and taking a knife to it, cutting her a chunk off the hindquarter. He checked the plate over before grunting his approval at the girl, and took the plate from her. Satisfied he'd found her what she'd wanted, he placed the plate in front of her, and nodded at her quiet thanks.
Throughout the dinner, he resisted the urge to watch every bite she took. He knew he was being a bit overbearing, and tried to keep it in check. He kept quiet and let Robb and Dany talk, and fought his desire to drink himself into oblivion to avoid the boredom of sitting and eating. No fire to sit at in this Hall, all his men were either at the far end of the table that could seat a hundred or out in their own Hall, fires and roasting meat and celebrating their return in the Dothraki way, and he, Khal Drogo, was sitting in the fancy Hall at Dragonstone, letting his wife negotiate her kingdom.
He moodily stewed on that revelation for a few moments. He stabbed a piece of horse meat with his utensil, then glared at it. Setting the fork down, he picked up the meat with his fingers and ate, ignoring everyone around him. The only time he looked up was when Catelyn Stark took the empty seat next to him, effectively pushing him into the conversation as he was then between her and Daenerys, with Robb across the table from them, and they were all talking. All of them. Talking. Except him.
Daenerys touched his arm gently, forcing him to look up from his plate into lovely lavender eyes that were filled with understanding and acceptance. She gets it. Fuck. I'm sorry. This is shitty for you, too. He longed for Vaes Dothrak, the sound of the stream bubbling and flowing behind their home, the quiet grazing of horses, the wind in the grass. The worst part was, he knew she felt the same. Should we just drop this and go home? he wondered.
"Ave," Rhaego called to him, tugging on his sleeve and breaking his gaze from Dany. "I'm hungry. Baeli wants bacon."
"Where is Innava?" he asked, looking down the long table, searching for Baeli's platinum curls and blue wool dress.
Rhaego pointed to Sansa, who had moved into the seat next to her mother, Baeli in her lap. Drogo immediately stood and retrieved his daughter from Sansa with a grin of thanks, leaving them to talk as he took the children down the table to let Rhaego choose what he wanted. After depositing his small son in the chair next to his mother with a full plate, and his daughter snugly in Dany's lap, he went in search of Baeli's bacon. He chuckled to himself. He supposed he could have had someone go for him to get it, but it seemed like a good idea to at least spend a little more time with his son. He loved his small boy even more for kicking his ass out of his depressing thoughts.
This whole damn thing was for Rhaego anyway, wasn't it? Drogo searched the side table. What the fuck did she like to eat besides the helpful tip about bacon? I don't even know what my own child likes to eat. He shook his head, and found some bacon, along with a bit of the goose and some of the bread. He grinned when he saw the apples, and took one of those, too. He would cut it up for his children. Apples were good for them. Taking a handful of grapes, he popped one in his mouth as he set the plate in front of Dany. Baeli scrunched up her face in a huge smile, and attacked the bacon while Drogo calmly cut up the apple, placing equal shares on Rhaego's plate and Baeli's.
Rhaego took one of the slices and put it on his mother's plate, and Drogo suddenly had a clear picture of life while he was gone. They had all taken care of each other, and they'd done all right. That didn't mean they didn't need him, they had just adapted. He had to quit worrying about what had gone down while he was away, and concentrate on what he could do now. There was plenty of room for him in his family, he just had to fill the hole he'd left and take back what was his.
Ok, long chapter. I'm hoping most of the angst is gone, and tired, cranky Daenerys with it. Ever had that rush of relief when you know you're about to get a break from whatever it is that you're exhausted from? There's sometimes a rush of other emotions, too. Especially if you've been carrying that burden/stress/work for a while. She's finally admitting she's tired, and she's realizing she's sick. I'm sure she'll get better soon, muscle up and get back in the saddle. In ALL aspects of her life ;)