Dragonstone was even more glorious than Daenerys imagined. The walls of the castle climbed high into the sky, almost as if they were touching the clouds themselves. The interior was just as spectacular, from the throne hewn out of rock to the Painted Table. Daenerys could almost feel the power of the Targaryen’s emanating from the island. And it was all hers.
They’d decided to hold their counsel meetings in the Chamber of the Painted Table. From there they could easily plot their future travels and battlements on the raised topographic map (“I don’t quite believe I can ever go back to a hand drawn map after seeing this,” Jorah commented the first time he saw it).
“Our first objective is to gain allies,” Daenerys said to Jorah, Grey Worm, and Missandei. “The more who are with us, the easier it will be to take back King’s Landing. The question is where do you propose we start?”
“If I may,” Jorah said, “I suggest we start at Bear Island,”
“Why would you suggest an island?” Grey Worm asked.
“House Mormont resides there,” Jorah replied. “I will not deny that it’s a small house, but if we were to land anywhere else the rest of Westeros would see us as foreigners,”
“We are not foreigners,” Daenerys said. “I was born in this Kingdom. I am from House Targaryen and am the rightful heir,”
“I agree,” Jorah said, “But the rest of Westeros may not see us that way. On that island they know me, and once we gain their trust we can continue to gain momentum in other lands nearby, Which is why I propose we start where at least one of us is known,”
“Forgive me,” Missandei said to Jorah, “But didn’t you say you were exiled from Westeros?”
“Aye,” Jorah said, “But I received a pardon. House Mormont is aware of this, and they will not abandon one of their own,”
“It will be a long journey back on the seas,” Daenerys commented. “Can we afford such a task so soon?”
“We will need to replenish the resources, but otherwise yes,” Grey Worm answered. “I believe we could sail in roughly two weeks,”
“My Queen,” Jorah said, “If we are able to rally House Mormont to our cause, I believe there is a possibility we may rally the entire North as well,”
“I agree,” Missandei said. “Based on what I’ve heard the people at the ports of Meereen say, the people in the North, House Mormont included, have named Jon Snow the King of the North,”
“Which means the entirety of the North is against the Lannisters ruling King’s Landing,” Jorah added.
Daenerys considered this for a moment. “They say the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” she said, “But to call everyone in the North a friend would be rash. If they oppose the Lannisters on the throne, they will likely oppose me as well,”
“Perhaps we can strike some sort of deal with them,” Jorah suggested.
“I am here to rule the Seven Kingdoms,” Daenerys said, “Not allow leniencies for parts of the realm to do as they please,”
“The long ride via ships will allow us time to work on the formalities,” Jorah said. “For now, I suggest we start moving before the Lannisters have the opportunity to strike again,”
Daenerys subconsciously grasped the necklace around her neck that held the teeth of Rhaegal and Viserion. Jorah was right. The longer they waited, the better a chance the Lannisters had of striking again.
“I agree,” Daenerys said. “We will visit Bear Island first, and then plan accordingly from there,”
Jorah wasn’t keen to board a ship so soon after regaining his land legs, but he knew it had to be done. The truth was, he looked forward to meeting his kin even less. While Jorah knew they wouldn’t turn him away, he was still unwelcome in the hearts of many. Jorah wished his father was at Bear Island to greet him and possibly vouch on his behalf, but he knew his father would be at The Wall.
Jorah was a Mormont on his own, but he would have the dragon by his side.
It was a girl, Lyanna Mormont, that Jorah would have to convince Bear Island to support Daenerys’ cause. He’d heard the girl was not only strong-willed, but hardened for her age. He wasn’t sure what to make of that bit of knowledge, but it certainly didn’t add any ease to his already troubled mind.
While Jorah knew the people of Bear Island meant them no harm, he could not say the same of anyone else in Westeros. Yes, they would have the Unsullied and Drogon with them, but would that be enough protection before they could gain the favor of the people and fight against the Lannisters at King’s Landing?
Jorah rubbed his temples as he entered the bedchamber, exhausted after the counsel meeting. It was times like these he wondered what would happen to their cause should he and Daenerys perish in their quest. Who would hold the throne then? The obvious answer was the Lannisters, but they had taken the throne by greed, and therefore had no legitimate right.
The question was still on Jorah’s mind when Daenerys entered the room.
“I believe the meeting went well,” she commented with a smile. “Your suggestion to begin at Bear Island was particularly clever,”
“Thank you,” Jorah said simply.
Daenerys’ eyebrows furrowed as she noted his lack of enthusiasm. “Is something troubling you?”
“It’s been a long day,” Jorah said. “I may turn in early for the night,”
“Of course,” Daenerys said. Contrary to how Jorah felt, Daenerys looked quite energized after the meeting, possibly because her dream of the throne was within her grasp…yet Jorah’s fears were beginning to worsen.
“Daenerys?” he asked. He did not want to risk ruining her elated state, but what bothered him was something that needed to be discussed sooner or later. Perhaps now would be best since their plans were beginning to take shape.
“Yes my love?”
Jorah stood up and took her hands in his. “There is something I’ve been wanting to discuss with you,”
He saw a look of suspicion cross her face, but she did not yield. “What is it?”
“I believe in your cause,” he said. “I believe in it with all my heart. But we have to think of the future, and what will happen once our lives are no more,”
Jorah could tell he hit a sensitive string. Daenerys gently pulled her hands away and said “There is more than adequate time to discuss this in the future,”
“But we must plan. Should something go wrong-”
“Nothing will go wrong,” Daenerys said matter-of-factly. “I will rule, and you will be at my side,”
“Daenerys,” he said gently, “It will not always be that way,”
They looked at each other for a second, unspoken words clinging in their throats. Daenerys was the first to break the silence.
“I cannot have children,” she said quietly. “You know that,”
“I do,” Jorah put his hands on her shoulders and gave them a squeeze. “And you’re right, we do not have to discuss the line of succession this day, or even this very month. There are many ways to choose a successor to the throne. But I must ask you this, a more personal and, in my opinion, a much more important question…would you consider expanding our family one day?”
As Daenerys looked at Jorah, he imagined a thousand thoughts tumbling through her head: the loss of the son she carried but never held; the hatching of the three dragons; the people calling her “Mhysa”. In short, everything that meant motherhood to the love of his life.
Daenerys responded by giving Jorah a kiss on the cheek. “Nothing would please me more,” she said, “Than to be a mother again,”
Jorah pulled Daenerys into an embrace, the clouds that had been forming now starting to disperse from light. “Once we rule King’s Landing, we can adopt a child from anywhere,” he said. “A child from the north, south, east, or west…or all four if we desire!”
Daenerys laughed. “I’m honored you find me fit to rule both a Kingdom and a house filled with children,”
“You’re a queen,” Jorah clasped her hands together and kissed them, “You can do whatever you wish,”
“That I am,” Daenerys looked at Jorah, her eyes shining with admiration. “Once I have taken back the Seven Kingdoms, I promise we will discuss the prospect of parenthood further,”
The island was just as Jorah remembered, from the towering trees to the flowering fields. Certain parts even called to mind childhood memories from when Jorah was merely a boy playing with a wooden sword. Had the knight been returning to his home under different circumstances, he would have gone to the woods and reminisced. But alas, he was here to rally the Mormonts and Bear Island to Daenerys’ cause. What was past was past; now was the time to look towards the future.
The guards let the Targaryen ships through, but Jorah could feel judgmental eyes upon his back. “They will let us in,” Jorah told Daenerys, “But their initial response will not be to welcome us,” Daenerys only nodded. Jorah could guess what she was thinking: she didn’t need to be welcomed, but she desperately desired their loyalty. With this in mind, Jorah gave her hand a squeeze and continued his business on the ship. Sometimes it was best to let his queen ponder things on her own.
They were greeted by a welcoming party at the pier. Jorah recognized about half of the faces, albeit aged. Others were people he’d never seen before. The group was courteous enough in their salutations, even if they did not greet Daenerys with the proper title one would address a queen (though this was to be expected). It would not be until they reached Lyanna that their words and actions would hold much greater power.
Over the last few years, Daenerys had grown used to confronting those in power of the opposite sex. Now, within the Mormont castle walls, she felt slightly out of place asking allegiance from a mere child.
“And why, may I ask, should we pledge ourselves to you?” Lyanna enquired. “We have already declared Jon Snow the King of the North,”
“And what of Cersei?” Daenerys asked. “She will rally her forces against anyone who challenges her claim to the throne. Which, as I’m sure we all can agree, is a falsehood in and of itself,”
“That does not mean we wish to have you take her place and rule over us,” Lyanna said bluntly. “We are the North, and we have collectively decided not bow to anyone who sits upon a throne made of iron,”
Daenerys clenched her teeth in frustration. Did this girl not see the folly of this logic? Should the North gather their forces and attempt to succeed from the Seven Kingdoms, Cersei would crush them immediately. The Lannisters may not be popular amongst their people, but they had wealth, and wealth influenced armies. Would this girl not choose a ruler who commanded the Unsullied and a dragon out of love and respect instead of fear and riches like the Lannisters?
It was then that Jorah addressed Lyanna and the rest of the islanders in the room. “Whether you accept us or not, one cannot deny that war is coming to the North. Not only has the battle against the dead taken its toll population and resource-wise, but the North is standing against not only the Lannisters but six other Kingdoms as well. These numbers are not to be taken lightly. The North needs allies, and we can be your ally,”
“Only to overthrow one incompetent ruler and have a stranger put in her place,” Lyanna said flatly.
“We do not wish for war,” Jorah said. “Only the removal of the Lannisters and peace,”
“It is peace we want as well,” Lyanna agreed, “But it is whom we wish to lead us to peace that we have differing views,”
“You have been gone from Westeros for years,” one of the Mormont knights said to Jorah. “Banished for slavery, if I remember correctly. And the last time Daenerys was on the land she was but a babe. Neither of you are qualified to rule over a land that neither wants nor remembers you,”
“Hold your tongue Ser Maerick,” Lyanna said. “We are here to discuss matters civilly, not throw insults,”
“Jorah is as much a Westerosi man as I’ve ever known,” Daenerys said. “Just because he has been away for years does not mean he ever stopped being a resident in his heart. Jorah’s knowledge of Westeros is great, and his time abroad has only widened his knowledge of the world as a whole. As for myself, I am no stranger to leading others. I command the army of the Unsullied and have ruled over Meereen,”
“A city,” another member of the Mormont family said, “But not a kingdom,”
“Which is why a king or queen must have their council,”
Lyanna and the rest of the people in the room still appeared unconvinced. A part of Daenerys wanted to label them a lost cause and leave the premises, as they were a small family on a small island anyway. But that was precisely the reason she didn’t do such a thing – because of her marriage to Jorah, these people WERE family. To insult them would be to insult Jorah, even if they were not overjoyed at his arrival.
“Perhaps there is some kind of compromise we can make,” Daenerys said slowly, reflecting on her council meetings at Dragonstone.
Lyanna tilted her head. “Such as?”
“The succession of the North,” she said. “If the North is willing to help me in obtaining the iron throne, I will allow them to become their own kingdom under their own rule,”
A murmur went through House Mormont as they pondered this suggestion. Daenerys stole a look at Jorah, who returned her glance with a warm smile. This had been his idea after all. While Daenerys did not want to lose her people in the Seven Kingdoms, it was true that certain sacrifices needed to be made to obtain her goal. Perhaps this was one of those times.
“We appreciate the gesture,” Lyanna said, “And would be more than willing to consider it, but the decision is not ours to make. You would need to visit Jon Snow at Winterfell and discuss the matter with him,”
Daenerys felt a flood of relief. She may not have yet secured the North’s help yet, but she had the Mormonts’ to back her cause when she brought the matter to the man they named king.
“Thank you,” Daenerys said, and she meant it. “Before we depart on the morrow, may we borrow a raven to send to Winterfell so as to let them know of our intentions to travel there?”
“You may,” Lyanna said.
“If possible, may I trouble you to borrow a second raven?” Jorah asked. “I wish to send a message to my father on the wall, informing him of what his transpired here this day,”
Lyanna’s face hardened as she pursed her lips. The relief Daenerys had felt was replaced with a stab of uncertainty. What had Jorah said to cause such a swing of emotions on the girl’s face?
“I take it you have not heard the news then,” Lyanna said. “Your father, Jeor Mormont, is dead,”
Daenerys was no stranger to loss. After all, she’d lost both her husband and child a few years prior. But she did not know the pain of losing a parent.
Jorah held his composure in the grand hall when Lyanna told him that Jeor was dead, but she could see that the news cut through him like a sword. His words had been few afterwards, and he did not touch a single piece of food as they consumed dinner that evening. But when the two of them finally had a moment alone, the topic was the first thing Jorah brought up.
“I wanted to see him again,” Jorah said, “To let him know one more time how sorry I am for the shame I brought upon my family,”
Daenerys sat down next to Jorah and placed her hand on top of his. “I’m sure he knew that,” she said gently. “You were his son. He KNEW you, and he loved you,”
“And I threw it all in his face,” Jorah got up and leaned against the doorframe, pressing his head against the wall. “Selling slaves,” he scoffed. “The man raised me better than that,”
“We all make mistakes,”
“Mine were bigger in comparison,”
“But mistakes nonetheless,” Daenerys persisted. “Think of all the slaves you’ve freed during our time together, and all those we have yet to unchain,"
Jorah knew she was right, but it didn’t ease the pain of losing his father. “Killed by his own men,” Jorah said as he sat down on the bed and placed his head in his hands, the possible scenarios playing out behind his eyelids. “His own brothers,”
From behind, Daenerys put her hands on his shoulders. “I did not know your father,” she said, “But I know you, I’ve been told you are like your father. If that is true, then you are both honorable men. He knew you felt remorse for what you had done, and if he were here I’m sure he would be proud of what you are doing,”
Jorah raised his head and nodded, but his eyes were still cast downward.
“Is there anything I can do?” Daenerys asked. As someone who’d loved and lost, she had a semblance of what he was going through. She knew time would make these wounds bearable, but this very hour, this very night, and this very year would be a struggle.
Jorah finally turned around and looked at her, his eyes filled with a mourning she’d never seen before. Silently, he pulled her into an embrace. It was not one of passion, but rather of someone holding onto something that he feared losing.
“Just let me hold you,” Jorah said simply, “I fear not much else will give me strength tonight,”