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To Love and Be Loved

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Lynesse Hightower stood among the crowd as they watched the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms stroll into the Great Hall.

Queen Daenerys Targaryen was a young and tremendously beautiful woman. Lynesse felt an immediate tug of jealousy. It was not difficult for her to despise a woman prettier than herself. If the world had taught her anything it was that people admired beauty and power above all else.

And while Lynesse still thrived with her good looks and grace, power was something she possessed in limited supply - a result of Tregar's betrayal.

How dare he turn her away for another woman after all she had done for him. Had she not given up her entire life to be with him?

Scoffing to herself, Lynesse continued to survey the room, annoyed by the cheers and adoring shouts. She squinted through the shoulders of two nearby men and spotted a flash of gold.

Lynesse felt an involuntary gasp escape her lips as the Lord Commander of the Queensguard entered a few paces behind the Queen.

It was Jorah. Her Jorah, dressed regally in black armor. He had aged of course, but somehow looked more handsome than she remembered. Maybe distance did make the heart grow fonder.

Jorah's features were sharp, but perfectly contrasted by soft, cerulean eyes. He walked with a powerful sense of authority, his white cloak billowing gracefully behind him.

Lynesse's mouth tipped into a sultry smile. Perhaps not all hope was lost after all. Her mind easily drew up old images of her faithful husband's adoring gaze and his eagerness to please.

However, her smile quickly vanished as she observed the Queen's perusal of Jorah. The Queen's gaze was filled with enough fondness to cause a second, more insistent, swell of envy within Lynesse.

Here Jorah stood, serving a younger and more powerful woman, while Lynesse was left with nothing. He had married Lynesse, vowing to love her for a lifetime...not some foreign queen.

Lynesse tipped her chin upwards and squared her shoulders. She had won Jorah Mormont's heart once before and now she would reclaim what was rightfully hers.

 


 

Daenerys smiled contently as she watched a group of locals depart the Great Hall. She enjoyed the simple routine of speaking with her people.

Each week, all residents of the Seven Kingdoms were openly invited to come to King's Landing and meet with the Queen.

Initially, these audiences had been a way for her advisors to hear the complaints of the people and address any problems arising within the kingdom. As time passed, the issues became fewer and fewer until eventually most visitors simply came to greet her or offer gifts. It was a true sign of her success and it never ceased to make her proud.

A final row of people approached, but as young farmers and children smiled up at her, Daenerys found herself distracted by the lone woman of the group.

This woman wore finer silk than any of the poor men around her had even seen. Her presence in the group was intriguing, but what was more notable, was her behavior. She did not peer up at Daenerys with the eager gaze of someone delighted to meet their Queen. In fact, the woman seemed far more interested in someone else.

The woman's dark eyes had wandered towards Ser Jorah and remained there for far longer than was deemed appropriate. If Ser Jorah noticed the woman's admiring gaze, he did not acknowledge it. Whether this was out of respect for his oaths or a genuine lack of interest, Daenerys could not be sure.

The woman was a rare beauty with her long blonde hair and slender figure. Although she was a bit older than Daenerys, she was no less stunning. Surely Ser Jorah had noticed?

Daenerys felt an unpleasant twisting in her stomach at the thought and deliberately forced her attention back to her guests.

The Queen smiled and listened while the farmers expressed their gratitude for a profitable harvest, which had been sold to the kitchens of the Red Keep.

The group eventually took their leave, but Daenerys' smile wilted as the strange woman flashed a more noticeable grin in Ser Jorah's direction.

The change to her knight's demeanor was immediate once he finally noticed his admirer. His shoulders stiffened and his jaw clenched tightly and he chose to ignore the woman completely.

Daenerys frowned as she watched Tyrion and Ser Jorah share a look.

 


 

While the Great Hall emptied, Tyrion strolled up to Ser Jorah. Even from a distance, Daenerys could tell Tyrion was teasing her knight because Ser Jorah wore an expression of annoyance reserved solely for the Hand of the Queen.

Daenerys found it amusing that although Tyrion incessantly heckled Ser Jorah, the two men shared a mutual respect and begrudging friendship.

Ser Jorah turned away from Tyrion, in what appeared to be an attempt to end the conversation, and walked towards Daenerys.

Daenerys smiled at her knight and basked in the warmth of his attention.

"Your Grace, with your permission, the guards will walk the exterior of the castle once more to ensure everyone has departed."

Daenerys was about to give a nod of approval when Tyrion maneuvered his way into the conversation with a wry grin.

"You should go yourself, Mormont, and greet old acquaintances," Tyrion said in what was a clear reference to the light-haired woman from before.

Ser Jorah's face darkened and he shot Tyrion a murderous look.

"Do you ever mind your own business?"

"I am merely speaking out of concern for you, old friend," Tyrion's attempt at genuine concern was compromised by the mischief in his eyes.

Ser Jorah released a heavy sigh, but remained silent. Daenerys' curiosity was piqued.

"Which old acquaintances would you be referring to?" Daenerys directed her question at Tyrion, but her eyes shifted between both of her advisors. Tyrion seemed far too eager to share Ser Jorah's personal troubles.

"The lovely woman who you just met, Your Grace, is the incandescent Lynesse Hightower," Tyrion replied.

Ser Jorah's eyes immediately dropped to his boots. Daenerys raised an eyebrow in confusion - the name meant nothing to her.

"Also known as Lady Lynesse Mormont," Tyrion clarified and Daenerys' mouth dropped open as understanding dawned on her.

"Formerly known," Ser Jorah was quick to correct Tyrion with a glare. He swiveled his gaze back to Daenerys and she was surprised to find his expression unreadable. "Your Grace, I will return shortly to escort you back to your chambers," he stated before turning quickly and bounding down the stairs of the hall.

Daenerys watched her knight leave before delivering a scolding look to Tyrion.

"Was that necessary?"

"I was simply clarifying the situation, Your Grace," Tyrion defended with feigned indignation.

"Do you know her?" Daenerys asked after a brief pause.

Tyrion nodded thoughtfully, knowing exactly to whom Daenerys was referring.

"I have never met her myself, but you know how easily gossip travels throughout the Seven Kingdoms."

"You aiding it along most of the time," Daenerys accused with an arched brow. Tyrion shrugged with a smile.

"It has been many years since Lady Hightower has been in Westeros. I am curious as to what sparked her sudden return," Tyrion wondered aloud.

Daenerys felt a strange sinking feeling in her stomach as she pondered the same question. Her heart told her she would not like the answer.

 


 

Ser Jorah re-entered the Great Hall with two knights flanking his side. His face was impassive as he stopped beside her.

"Are you ready, Your Grace?"

Daenerys did not like his stoic expression or his use of formalities. She would much rather see his soft smile and warm eyes.

"Aye," Daenerys responded, mimicking his Northern accent in an attempt to brighten his mood. She was rewarded with a slight tilt of his lips.

Ser Jorah extended his hand to guide her down the stairs and she took it without hesitation.

Unfortunately, her knight was quick to pull away once they were on flat ground and Daenerys was forced to lead the way to her chambers while he remained a half-step behind her. Ser Jorah was quiet for the duration of the walk and once they arrived outside her room, he bowed in silent farewell.

"Ser Jorah, could I speak with you for a moment?"

Her knight hesitated momentarily before dismissing the other knights with a glance.

Once they were alone, Daenerys opened the door to her chambers and stepped inside. She glanced behind her and watched hesitation flicker across Ser Jorah's face a second time. She raised her eyebrows and he acquiesced, following her into the room without argument.

The Queen turned to face her knight as he closed the door behind them. Ser Jorah made no attempt to step into the room further and remained stubbornly close to the entrance. It was clear he knew what Daenerys wished to discuss and he looked ready to flee.

Daenerys stared Ser Jorah down for a long moment, waiting for him to lift his gaze to meet hers. Once he did, Daenerys was once again faced with an unreadable mask.

Ser Jorah cleared his throat slightly before attempting to speak.

"Your Grace, what do you wish to-" Ser Jorah started, but she cut him off.

"Do you still love her?" Daenerys couldn't stop the words that burst forth from her mouth. It was a question she had to ask. Her heart had been pleading with her to ask it. She wasn't sure what fueled the inquiry and it certainly wasn't how she had intended to start the conversation, but she was eager to cut through the awkwardness that had settled between them.

Ser Jorah appeared momentarily speechless as he stared at her with his mouth agape. He recovered quickly though and his gaze dropped to his feet. Ser Jorah took a long moment to consider his response.

"I do not, Your Grace," he replied with clear confidence in his answer. His eyes found hers again.

Daenerys frowned disapprovingly at his continued use of her proper title. They were not having a formal conversation.

"We are speaking as friends, Jorah," she reminded him, deliberately dropping his title as a sign of good faith.

Jorah nodded in acknowledgment, but fell silent again. Daenerys took a step towards him and considered her next question.

"Did you love her?" she asked, her voice faltering slightly. Jorah's posture became rigid.

"I did."

"And she broke your heart?"

An old pain flashed behind Jorah's eyes before he could hide it.

"I made many of my own mistakes. She is not the only one at fault," he rationalized and Daenerys' eyes softened. She should've known he wouldn't speak harshly of someone else; it was not his nature.

"So you broke her heart?" Daenerys asked, prying at the armor around his heart.

Jorah released a weighted sigh, accepting the fact that he was not going to escape her line of questioning.

"I couldn't make her happy," Jorah admitted and his shoulders deflated. Daenerys silently tipped her head to the side and Jorah shifted awkwardly on his feet. "Life on Bear Island is not luxurious or easy. I should've foresaw the difficulty she would have adapting from her life in the South."

Daenerys frowned again. How could he blame himself for his wife's abandonment? The woman had taken the same vows he had, yet he had not forsaken them for riches.

"You were Lord of Bear Island at the time?" Daenerys asked.

"Aye."

"So, she knew where she would be living once you were wed?" Daenerys continued, lifting an eyebrow.

"It's not as simple as that."

"Explain it to me then," Daenerys invited and took a seat on the edge of her bed. She stared up at Jorah before patting the empty space beside her. Her knight made no attempt to move, so she lowered her eyes meaningfully. Jorah relented under her demanding stare and sat beside her stiffly, his armored shoulder brushing against hers lightly.

"I should not have proposed marriage until Lynesse had time to adapt to life on Bear Island," Jorah murmured.

"Why did you?" Daenerys asked softly, her eyes observing him carefully.

Jorah's gaze sought the floor, unable to look at her. He seemed too at war with past emotions to remain in the present.

Daenerys felt somewhat guilt for the personal questions. She knew he did not enjoy sharing details of his past, but with so much unknown history, she felt like she was missing pieces of her knight.

"I was eager to re-marry and start a family. I was not getting any younger and felt the responsibility as a new lord to produce heirs."

Daenerys found herself distracted by one word.

"Re-marry?" she asked, confused. Jorah had only ever mentioned one marriage and even that he hadn't shared true details of until then.

"Aye, I was married before...to a woman I cherished for ten years," His voice had gone slightly hoarse.

Daenerys was sure her surprise was evident on her face. Jorah had only ever spoken of the wife who left him. Daenerys was suddenly afraid to ask the fate of his first wife.

"She died in childbirth," Jorah supplied, as if reading Daenerys' mind. He did not have to elaborate further.

Daenerys' heart ached for her knight and she felt the unexpected burn of tears in her eyes. Jorah had once had a truly happy life with a woman he loved. Only in his eagerness to love again did he stumble into more pain.

Daenerys reached out and gently pulled Jorah's hand into her lap, intertwining their fingers. They sat together quietly for a long time, seeking comfort in each other's presence as they had so many times before.

 


 

The following morning, Jorah requested time away from his duties to speak with Lady Hightower.

The idea was not one Daenerys was fond of, but she understood the need for closure. She would've been more surprised if Jorah had not made the request.

Part of her wanted to go with him.

Perhaps more than one part. She was torn between jealousy and love.

A large part of Daenerys wanted to stand with her knight to show Lady Hightower how valued he was. To prove how much she, the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, loved the man Lady Hightower had so easily discarded.

The smaller, more selfish part of the Queen, was fueled by envy. Daenerys knew she could trust Jorah, but it was not his actions she was worried about. She knew almost nothing of Lady Hightower's intentions and that made her uncomfortable.

"If you do not wish to speak with Lady Hightower, I can have her tossed out of King's Landing," Daenerys offered with sincerity and humor.

Ser Jorah rewarded her with a deep chuckle.

"While I would certainly enjoy seeing that, Khaleesi, I cannot run from my past forever," Jorah reasoned. She nodded in understanding as he went to leave.

"Jorah-," Daenerys called after him. He turned back towards her. "Be careful."

Jorah's gaze softened.

"Always, Khaleesi."

 


 

Daenerys was distracted for the rest of the day. Her mind refused to focus on the tasks in front of her and she continuously worried after Jorah. The longer he was absent, the more creative her imagination became.

Shouldn't he have returned already? Had he been harmed in some way? Ambushed by hidden enemies? Had he fallen into the arms of his former lover?

Daenerys shook her head clear of these thoughts, but resumed her pacing. Her eyes glanced towards the door with each pass.

 


 

Missandei watched the Queen visibly relax once Ser Jorah entered the Throne Room.

The knight stood at the foot of the stairs leading to the Iron Throne, while Daenerys remained a few steps above him. Ser Jorah's face bore the same devotion it always did when gazing upon the Queen, whose lips settled into a smile of equal affection.

The happiness faded from the Queen's expression rather quickly as she got a closer look at the man before her. Daenerys frowned and swiftly descended the stone stairs. She didn't stop until she stood eye to eye with her knight.

A familiar angry fire danced across Daenerys' eyes before she reached out and turned Ser Jorah's face gently to the right, trying to examine the left half more closely. Ser Jorah's eyes dipped away.

"Lynesse has never been fond of rejection," Ser Jorah explained with a sheepish chuckle.

Daenerys did not share his amusement.

As the Queen shifted, Missandei caught sight of the half-formed bruise on Ser Jorah's cheek. There were several red marks that trailed from the edge of the bruise to the knight's left ear. The scratches took the distinct form of a woman's fingernails.

"She struck you."

"I'm fine, Khaleesi," Jorah assured.

Daenerys' fingers shifted from their examination and gently skimmed over his cheek before dropping to his shoulder.

"Has Lady Hightower departed from King's Landing?" she asked, absentmindedly brushing non-existent dust from his armor.

"She leaves at dawn," Ser Jorah explained and there was relief evident in his voice.

Missandei glanced between the Queen and her knight. Silence had fallen like a curtain around them. The young handmaiden couldn't see their faces well from a side angle, but whatever emotions were exchanged seemed to satisfy the Queen because she allowed Ser Jorah to pull away and resume his regular duties.

Once they were alone again, Daenerys addressed Missandei without taking her eyes off the door Ser Jorah had exited through.

"Missandei, could you have the Unsullied bring Lady Hightower to me? I wish to have a word in private before she leaves."

Chapter Text

Daenerys sat on the Iron Throne while Lady Hightower was brought to her. She could still feel residual fury burning deep in her chest at the thought of the woman striking Jorah. Daenerys hadn't called Lady Hightower forth just to scold her, but to also warn her. She did not want to see Lady Hightower in King's Landing ever again.

It was a message best delivered in person. There would be no misunderstandings.

If Lady Hightower was nervous at the prospect of being called before the Queen, she did not let it show as she entered the room. Daenerys found the woman's lack of apprehension irritating.

"Your Grace, it is an honor to finally meet face to face," Lady Hightower's tone was overly sweet and her words turned bitter before they reached Daenerys' ears.

"We met earlier, Lady Hightower, but I believe your attention was divided," Daenerys maintained a neutral tone.

Lady Hightower's lips curled into a smile that was as fake as the woman herself.

"Forgive me, Your Grace. It is not every day a woman is reunited with her estranged husband."

Any pleasantries that Daenerys had planned on observing were quickly forgotten. She had no qualms about forcing the woman to stand for the duration of their conversation. It was satisfying to peer down at her from the elevated vantage point of a throne.

"Estranged by choice - your choice, if I am not mistaken," Daenerys stated coldly.

Lady Hightower's tactful façade slipped momentarily and both women fell silent. Hidden words danced behind their eyes and battled for dominance.

Daenerys had complete authority and although Lady Hightower played her little games, she would depart the Red Keep the following day alone. This simple fact reminded the Queen of her true purpose. She straightened to her fullest height before addressing the other woman again.

"This is the last time we will meet, Lady Hightower. You will not return to King's Landing," Daenerys stated, her warning clear. It was not a suggestion.

Lady Hightower flinched as though she had been slapped. Her calm composure faded and anger reared its ugly head through a curtain of false confidence.

"He is still my husband," Lady Hightower seethed and the possessiveness of her statement filled Daenerys with disgust. The woman had treated Jorah like some object to be owned and then tossed aside when no longer needed.

"You made your decision long ago when you abandoned Jorah."

"Jorah now, is it?" the woman spat with a jeering mask. "Do you truly believe you are so different from me, Your Grace?"

Lady Hightower was fueled by one last attempt to gain some semblance of control. Her behavior mimicked that of a rabid animal trapped in a cage.

"Are you not using Jorah's heart to your advantage just as I once did? He serves you out of love and there is no greater weapon than a man blinded by passion. How many men has he killed for you? I should applaud you, my Queen," Lady Hightower's mouth twisted upward with each cruel accusation.

Instinctive rage rushed through Daenerys' veins, desperate to lash out and inflict pain, but she was no fool. There was no reason for her to lose her temper because cowering beneath Lady Hightower's bold words, lay desperation.

The fiery and prideful dragon ached to defend itself, but Daenerys had learned from years spent studying Jorah's steadfast patience.

Therefore, the Queen decided to grant Lady Hightower her petty victory. She did not owe the woman an explanation or defense.

Daenerys' brief impulse to speak out was primarily formed from a desire to point out the absurd woman's own losses. Daenerys wanted to inform Lady Hightower of her great love for Ser Jorah Mormont and laugh at the absurdity of the ill-advised allegations.

The thought of her knight prevented Daenerys from caving to reckless anger. She had yet to speak her affections out loud and absolutely refused to waste the words on the unpleasant woman standing before her. Only one person deserved to hear of the Queen's love for her knight and that was Jorah himself.

Daenerys maintained a calm exterior. If Lady Hightower wanted to a see a desperate and angry woman, she would have to look in the mirror.

"Under normal circumstances, I would feel inclined to offer a guest one of the chambers within the Red Keep, especially on the eve of a long journey. Unfortunately, I'm not feeling at all generous or forgiving. You don't have to leave King's Landing tonight, but you are not welcome here. Consider it a favor, my lady...I'm sure you will feel much more at home in one of the city's many brothels," Daenerys ended with a polite smile and nodded for the Unsullied guards to escort Lady Hightower from her sight.

The insult of Daenerys' words sparked a crimson flush across Lady Hightower's cheeks.

Chief concubine, indeed.

Suddenly, a face that Daenerys had earlier thought beautiful, became grotesque with unfiltered rage and humiliation. The true beast behind the ornamental smiles and pretty silk was revealed.

"One day I'll be back, Your Grace! Jorah will beg for me to come back and repair his heart, which you will have broken. In the end you will lose him...whether it be to steel or your own selfish desires. This is far from the end!" Lady Hightower shouted angrily as she was nudged and half-shoved towards the door.

Daenerys watched the wretched woman leave.

Where pity should have existed, she felt only disgust and loathing.

The Queen of the Seven Kingdoms had issued a warning and an order. She would not be disobeyed.

Daenerys had heard many prophecies in recent years, but none were as empty as that of Lady Lynesse Hightower. Daenerys understood her heart's desire and it no longer weighed heavy with uncertainty.

Lynesse Hightower was wrong in many of her assumptions, but most significantly in her declaration that they were at all alike. She almost pitied the woman and her clear regret over losing Jorah. Lady Hightower's thirst for wealth and power had brought Daenerys the treasure of absolute love.

It wasn't until she was alone with her thoughts that Daenerys felt doubt begin to creep in. She began to wonder what lies Jorah's former wife had spoken to him.

Had his former love planted seeds of resentment or distrust in his mind?

The thought of Jorah believing the harsh accusations left Daenerys feeling panicked. She had failed many times in the past to properly address her feelings for her knight, so did he even have reason to believe her now?

Daenerys knew her heart and mind would not rest until she spoke with Jorah.

 


 

Jorah sighed wearily as he removed his sword belt and leaned it against the nearby desk. The day was over and there was no longer anything to prevent him from replaying Lynesse's taunting words.

I suppose you want to ask me if any of it was real? If I ever loved you?

Jorah shook his head with a scoff. He had known the answer to that question the moment he left Lys all those years ago.

You may wear new armor and a different title, but you have not changed at all, my dear husband. Once a fool, always a fool.

Jorah pulled off his armor with a sardonic snort. Lynesse hadn't been wrong with that particular accusation. Foolish mistakes seemed to be his trademark flaw.

Jorah placed his armor next to his sword and scrubbed a hand against his face, trying to get Lynesse's face and voice out of his head.

His heart had come to a thundering stop the moment he spotted his former wife and still seemed to beat off pace. Jorah had been honest when he told Daenerys he no longer held any affection for Lynesse, but her presence set him off kilter. The memories associated with her and that period of his life were unpleasant. Regret and guilt created a pit in his stomach that paired well with the dull ache of his heart.

He took a deep, steadying breath and focused on the positive - he had finally attained some closure.

Although the past would always rest heavy upon his shoulders, Jorah was confident Lynesse was gone from his life. He had worked tirelessly to redeem his mistakes and he refused to allow her cold threats to damage the happiness accumulating in his life.

Even at the height of your former glory, with the title of lord and knight, you weren't worthy of anything more than a lowborn lord's daughter. I took pity on you and now you turn me away?

Jorah grimaced at Lynesse's steely voice echoing in his ears. He hated that her words matched the doubts permanently rooted in the back of his mind.

Lynesse had come to him with feigned sorrow, begging for his forgiveness and favor. True to character, the moment he turned her away, she lashed out. Her words landed familiar blows, targeting tender scars he thought healed.

His former wife had always known the weak points in his armor. Too often, he had fallen for her sugar-coated words and luring smiles, only to be faced with cruelty once he displeased her.

Jorah was torn from his miserable thoughts by a quiet knock at the door. For a moment he thought he had imagined the sound but a second, more persistent, knock followed the first.

 


 

Daenerys fidgeted with her hands anxiously while she waited outside Jorah's chambers. She paused for a moment before knocking a second time with more force. Her ears registered the sound of steady footsteps and the door swung open.

Jorah stood in the doorway with a puzzled frown creasing his brow. He peered around her and seemed concerned that she was alone. Daenerys spoke before he could question her presence.

"Are you going to let me in?" she asked, her voice holding just enough soft humor to hide her uncertainty.

"Of course, Your Grace," Jorah stepped to the side and held the door open for her.

Daenerys felt immediate relief once she entered the room. Everything seemed simpler when it was just the two of them away from prying eyes.

She turned towards her knight, but found herself at a loss for words. Too many emotions lingered beneath the surface of her skin, desperate to escape. She couldn't possibly give a voice to all of them.

The image of herself cutting through an imaginary forest appeared in her mind. She could see her own legs tripping over dense brush and branches to get to Jorah, who stood waiting at the forest's edge. She felt true desperation and fought hard to close the distance between them, but in this same image, existed a second version of herself. Instead of aiding her, this reflective self planted new and larger trees between her and the man she loved.

The entire illusion was one her mind had no problem conjuring. It had always existed in the shadows. A wordless, internal plea painted as a distant warning of fading time. How long had she been ignoring it?

"Why have I been doing this to us?" she whispered, half-startled the words had been spoken aloud.

"Khaleesi?" Jorah tilted his head in slight confusion.

Daenerys' eyes sought out her knight's handsome face and she couldn't think of a single reason for the continued distance between them. She quickly crossed the room to stand in front of Jorah, who watched each movement closely.

"Why have I kept my feelings buried for so long?"

Her eyes searched his for the map to her own heart.

Jorah had always been so good at guiding Daenerys through life's mysteries, but seemed lost himself when confronted by her affections for him.

Her knight's face looked paler than before and his eyes darted away. He sensed the turn in conversation, but did not want to assume anything. Maybe, just maybe, he was afraid too.

The thought gave Daenerys the courage to take a final step towards him. They were close enough that she had to crane her neck to look up at him.

She took a deep breath, grabbing onto love and allowing it to break free from the other emotions that clouded her mind.

"I've fallen hopelessly in love with you, Jorah the Andal," Daenerys confessed breathlessly.

The nervous flutter in her chest left in the form of a relieved sigh just as Jorah inhaled sharply and seemed to stop breathing altogether.

Her knight stood frozen before her, his azure eyes wide and full of an emotion she could not grasp. It bordered between awestruck disbelief and caution.

Daenerys waited one heartbeat and then two, but received no response. Her mouth curved into an encouraging smile that soon faltered when instead of embracing her, Jorah took an unsteady step backwards.

The room tilted on its axis and her blood ran cold.

"You don't have to - today has changed nothing, Your Grace, I will remain by your side," Jorah struggled to find words.

Daenerys blinked hard and it took her a moment to understand the meaning of what her knight had just said.

He doesn't believe me. Does he think I am merely speaking out of a desire to appease him and keep him here?

"You're right, Jorah, today hasn't changed anything. I should've told you of my affections long ago."

Jorah's lips pressed together and sadness tinged the hues of his eyes with a darker shade of blue.

"I never should have -," Jorah stopped himself with a weary sigh. Frustrated, he turned away from her and ran a hand over his mouth roughly. "It was unfair of me to share my feelings for you as I did...the way I did. I've put you in a difficult position and placed unnecessary pressure on our relationship."

"Is that what you think? That your love is some kind of burden to me?" Daenerys' voice quavered with anger and disbelief.

She stepped forward again, disappointed that she was the only one attempting to keep them close. Jorah did not turn, so she grabbed his hand and held onto it. She tugged until he slowly rotated back to her.

"Have I ever deceived you?" Daenerys asked.

"Never, Khaleesi."

"Then know I am speaking the truth now."

Daenerys released his hand and moved her fingers over the sharp curves of his cheek, lightly caressing the same skin Lynesse had struck earlier.

"You are everything to me, Jorah," she stated softly.

Jorah lifted his arm on instinct, desperate to hold her, but something halted his movement. A voice in his head scolding him.

"You are the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and I am the Lord Commander of your Queensguard. There are expectations and standards to be upheld. I am to protect and serve you...any additional roles would beyond my worth," Jorah murmured, his words serving as a reminder to himself.

I am not worthy.

Daenerys' heart broke at the words her knight left unsaid.

She wanted to curse Lady Hightower for Jorah's pain, but the guilt resting uneasily inside of her told her she was to blame as well. How many times had she turned him away as a result of her own selfish desires? It had been so easy to ignore his love when it came without demand or consequence.

Jorah was right – she was not obligated to return his affections, but she felt ashamed for having reaped the benefits of his love for so long without sacrificing anything. She could have him, his love, and his loyalty without cost. She had never needed to risk her own heart.

For years, Daenerys had been aware that the fire of Jorah's devotion would burn without her attention. She took advantage of this knowledge. She had never doused the flames, but instead chose to bask in their warmth without blemish.

Daenerys had never meant to hurt him, but the sentiment seemed worthless when she could so clearly see the damage she had inflicted.

Greed knew it had the power of persuasion on her side. A few tender words and a kiss would likely get her what she wanted, but she couldn't bring herself to act. Too often she controlled the progress of their relationship, so dismissing Jorah's reservations and chipping away at his resolve felt manipulative.

Daenerys wasn't interested in testing how far she could push her knight before he pulled away. It was the wrong time. She had felt threatened by his past and allowed her fears of losing him rush her forward. She now realized her mistake. Daenerys should have considered how emotionally draining the day had been for Jorah.

Vulnerability revealed itself as the emotion she had been unable to recognize in Jorah's eyes. He was trying to protect his own heart for once, but Lynesse's words had ripped a hole in his armor and now Daenerys was reaching through it.

In truth, Jorah wasn't even pulling away from her. He was merely choosing to remain in the same position she had forced him into years ago. It put him far enough away so that others could step between them, but close enough for him to catch her if she stumbled. A more tolerant woman than herself would admire his steadfast respect for boundaries.

Daenerys was disappointed, but hope was not lost. Jorah loved her and she loved him. All she had to do was show him how wonderful a life together would be.

The Queen would prove to her knight that he was more than worthy of her adoration and that they were meant to be. Their story had been written ages ago.

Daenerys smiled with a newfound sense of purpose.

"I am going to leave this room tonight, Jorah, but as you said, I am the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and I have always fought hard for the things that matter most to me. I will prove to you the depth of my love, no matter how long it takes. You can only deny the truth of fate for so long, Jorah Mormont," Daenerys stated with determination stretching from her eyes to his.

Before her knight could argue any further, Daenerys stretched tall on her toes and pressed a soft kiss to his cheek, just barely missing his mouth.

Without another word, the Queen left.

Chapter Text

"This may sound foolish-," Tyrion sighed and leaned back in his chair, swirling the contents of his goblet mindlessly.

"As opposed to most of your other advice?" Daenerys supplied with a smirk.

"Ha, ha," Tyrion's sarcasm was his true gem. "As I was saying...it may sound foolish, but you have to court Mormont."

"Court him?"

After having explained her romantic dilemma to her Hand, his advice hardly seemed helpful.

"Yes, woo him, pursue him, however you want to phrase it," Tyrion shrugged.

The Queen continued to stare at him wordlessly.

"Clearly Mormont does not believe your affections for him are true-" Tyrion started, but he was cut off by Daenerys once again.

"We've been over this already. Jorah knows I would not deceive to him."

"He believes that you believe you are telling the truth."

Daenerys fought the urge to roll her eyes.

"Now that is foolish," she countered.

"It wouldn't be the first time a person has tricked themselves into believing they are in love with someone, when they are not," Tyrion commented, his tone shifting into something far more bitter.

Daenerys' gaze softened sympathetically.

"That may be true, but this is not a decision I have come to overnight. It has taken me far too long, but I am certain of my feelings for Jorah."

Tyrion seemingly pulled himself out of his thoughts and smiled at his Queen kindly.

"Sometimes it is easier to love than be loved, Your Grace. In loving you, Mormont may be setting himself up for pain, but as long as his affections are not returned, he never has to worry about hurting you," Tyrion stated with a thoughtful tilt of his head. "Some believe it is more noble to give love than it is to receive it."

"I assumed you would be against the notion altogether," Daenerys stated.

"You could have set your eyes on a far worse man. If recent success indicates anything, you do not need to wed for power or profit. Truthfully, I have always abhorred political marriages. Nothing brings more treachery than two people forced together with selfish fantasies swirling around the backs of their minds."

There was a brief silence between them as they both considered Tyrion's words.

"How do I court him then?" Daenerys sighed, reaching for her goblet and taking a gulp of wine. Tyrion mimicked the action.

"It is quite unconventional for a woman to pursue a man so boldly, especially given your status. Not to mention, Mormonts are notoriously obstinate...but if you're sure..." Tyrion included a theatrical pause long enough to earn a glare from Daenerys. "Alright then, let's start with orchestrating some alone time for the two of you..."

 


 

Daenerys smiled as Jorah entered the dining hall with a bewildered expression. He glanced around, clearly surprised there were no other advisors present in the large room.

"Were you expecting someone else, Ser Jorah?" Daenerys teased from where she sat at the large, oak table.

"No, I was just-," Jorah studied the room again. "Tyrion informed me there was a small council meeting, Your Grace."

Daenerys eyes glittered with mischief, but her knight did not seem to notice.

"Did he? He must have been mistaken," she feigned shock and ignorance.

Jorah nodded, but suspicion narrowed his eyes. He studied her for a moment and she had to fight to maintain an innocent smile.

"Come, sit and enjoy a meal with me, Jorah. It has been far too long since we have been able to enjoy each other's company."

Jorah seemed to relax beneath her warm welcome and he approached the table without caution.

Her knight released an amused huff once he noticed the deliberate placement of his prepared bowl and goblet beside hers. The intent was clear and he was forced to take the seat closest to where she sat at the head of the table.

Daenerys did not attempt to hide her watchful gaze as she may have in the past. She allowed herself to be completely unfiltered in her emotions and actions towards Jorah, hoping it would garner his attention.

"I'm honored, Your Grace."

Daenerys could sense his lingering confusion, but chose not to address it. Instead, she poured her knight some wine and shifted a little bit closer to him.

The dinner was more pleasant than any she could recall in recent moons. She laughed and smiled so much that within an hour, her cheeks ached.

Following her soft request, Jorah shared stories of his life on Bear Island and rare tales of his time as a sellsword throughout Essos. She found herself completely fascinated by his life, as she always had. He had interacted with more cultures and history than any other person she knew and still he remained humble and generous.

The Queen couldn't tear her eyes away from her knight. Her attention bounced between his smooth voice and bright, intelligent eyes. She placed her elbow on the table and rested her cheek against her fist while listening intently to each word Jorah spoke. He seemed oblivious to her spellbound state and she found it incredibly charming.

The entire night reminded Daenerys of their shared past across the Narrow Sea. Those days where she had relied so heavily on Jorah for guidance and support. It almost made her laugh when she recalled her younger, more ignorant, self. Back then, she had believed it was Jorah's wealth of knowledge that she was drawn to, but she now understood it was far more than that.

Daenerys drank little of her wine, but refilled Jorah's goblet more than once. She was already far too distracted by his proximity. It was only fair he be equally inhibited.

She had rarely seen Jorah indulge in any form of wine or ale, but he seemed to be handling himself quite well. The only true indication of an inebriated state was the rosy tint to his cheeks and his slightly more animated expressions.

Her knight's demeanor was more relaxed than it had been in some time. He sat with his body turned towards her and his long legs extended alongside the bottom of her chair. One of his arms was perched on the wooden armrest of his own chair, while the other lay on the table between them...just close enough to touch.

Daenerys kept her eyes on Jorah's face as the fingers of her free hand slowly edged towards him. She gently traced her fingertips along the outside of his hand before playing with the ring encircling his index finger.

Jorah's eyes softened at her touch, but he did not pull away.

Their conversation continued.

Daenerys did not know how much time had passed, but she found herself not wanting the night to end. Every time the conversation between them lulled, she would find a new memory to prolong the inevitable.

Early that same day, Daenerys had decided to drop all expectation for the evening. She did not want to appear to have ulterior motives. The last thing she wanted was for Jorah to feel pressured or uncomfortable when alone with her. The goal was for them to spend time together and build upon the solid foundation they had already formed.

 


 

A few more days passed by slowly before Daenerys was able to enjoy Jorah's company again. She found herself craving his presence more and more each day and while it was a thrilling feeling, it often left her crestfallen when political obligations got in the way.

Most days Jorah stood at her side, but more recently, he seemed to be managing small skirmishes in Flea Bottom or beyond King's Landing. This not only made her worry over his safety, but also limited their interactions to brief passes and greetings.

Daenerys was grateful when she received word from Ser Davos that Jorah had returned from Flea Bottom. Eager to see her knight, she headed down to the stables in search of him. Jorah always spent time after a long journey tending to his horse and equipment. He was predictable in his kindness.

Sure enough, Daenerys smiled as she spotted Jorah's familiar figure silhouetted against the far stall. His back was to her and she was still far away enough that he had not heard her approach. Daenerys took advantage of the quiet moment and watched her knight carry out his tasks.

Jorah had already removed the black stallion's saddle and bridle and offered a bucket of water. While the horse was preoccupied with drinking, Jorah gently ran his hands down all four of the stallion's legs, checking for any cuts or swelling. Seemingly satisfied, he began to brush the animal.

"Long day, huh, boy?" Jorah murmured softly as he watched the horse's heavy breathing level out.

Daenerys leaned against the stable entrance with a dream-filled sigh.

Jorah had always been sweet to their horses and there was something almost exotically soothing about watching him tend to the animal. Every movement drew her eyes to his hands, which moved with such effortless grace. Less innocent images swirled around the Queen's mind and she pondered rough hands on soft skin.

Daenerys' brain was pulled from its pleasant wandering when Jorah bent to retrieve the water bucket. Instead of straightening naturally, Jorah's body hitched and he uttered a pained gasp.

His name tore from Daenerys' lips and she moved to his side quickly.

"Your Grace," Jorah greeted her in surprise. He made to turn in her direction, but she stopped him with a gentle hand against the small of his back.

"You're hurt," she moved in front of him to survey him for injuries.

It wasn't a question and they both knew Jorah would not lie to her. Daenerys hated that if she had not witnessed his pain, he would have attempted to keep it hidden.

The only outward sign of injury was a shallow cut below his temple, but she knew his pain came from wounds hidden beneath armor.

"Only minor scrapes and bruises, Khaleesi. Nothing a good night's rest won't cure," Jorah reassured.

Daenerys' palm slid across her knight's back to settle resolutely against his chest, preventing him from moving forward.

Jorah observed her through wary eyes.

"Prove it then. Show me I have nothing to be worried about," she demanded, peering up at him determinedly.

Jorah's face dropped and twisted into a faintly visible cringe.

"Your Grace, it would be highly inappropriate for a Queen to be caught in the stables with her Lord Commander half-dressed."

"I don't think our friend would tell on us, do you?" Daenerys nodded her head to indicate the horse beside them.

"Khaleesi-," Jorah warned.

A thought struck Daenerys suddenly and she silently debated her approach.

"If you insist that rest is all you need, then come with me," she instructed, dropping her hand and turning for the door. She knew her knight would begrudgingly follow.

Daenerys smirked as in confirmation, Jorah's footsteps fell close behind her.

 


Moments later...

 

"Thank-you, Missandei," Daenerys stated. She shared a grin with her handmaiden before the other woman departed the room.

The Queen's chambers now smelled of lavender and roses. Missandei had drawn what would be a routine bath. The only difference was the hot water was not for the Queen, but for the Lord Commander.

Jorah had looked both embarrassed and apologetic when Daenerys summoned Missandei to draw the bath for him, but the handmaiden shook off his concerns. She was just as insistent as Daenerys that he deserved a little luxury and relaxation.

Now that they were alone again, Daenerys turned towards Jorah with an impish grin.

"Do you need help removing your armor?" she asked innocently, noting her knight had yet to move.

Jorah's eyes brightened with amusement.

"I think I can manage, Khaleesi."

Although his movements were stiff, Jorah successfully pulled off his armor without her assistance. Free of the heavy metal, he was left in only black breeches and a dark green tunic.

"Is this the part where I turn around and close my eyes?" she asked.

Jorah's amusement stretched to his lips, where it settled into the ghost of a smile.

Daenerys made a show of closing her eyes and turning around.

Fabric brushed flesh and her heart thundered in her chest. The distinct sound of clothing falling to the floor carried across the room. Warmth crept upwards and pricked at her cheeks. She pondered reckless thoughts. It would be far too easy for her to turn back around, open her eyes, and reach for Jorah before he had time to get in the bath.

The sloshing sound of water pulled Daenerys from her wicked scheming, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't wipe the grin from her face.

"I suddenly understand your fondness for scalding water, Khaleesi," Jorah murmured, his voice trailing off with a content sigh. Daenerys took his words as permission to open her eyes.

"I had Missandei lower the temperature for your Northern blood," Daenerys japed and she turned towards him.

Her mirth was cut short when her eyes landed on him.

"Oh, Jorah," Daenerys whispered. Her heart clenched at the sight of the dark bruises covering the right half of his chest. The blue and purple coloring disappeared close to his neck, but it was no wonder he was in pain.

"They will fade within a few days, Khaleesi," Jorah murmured, leveling her with doting eyes.

"That's not the point," she stated sternly and moved to sit on the bench directly next to the bath.

Jorah did not seem bothered by her nearness. The soapy cloudiness of the water kept everything but his torso hidden from view. Even his face was partially obscured from view by the shadows of candles flickering nearby.

"I don't like seeing you hurt," Daenerys confessed.

The vulnerability of the moment was not lost on Jorah, who swallowed thickly, and reached for his Queen's hand resting on the edge of the tub. Daenerys' breath hitched as he brushed his thumb across her knuckles. He raised their joined hands and kissed her skin tenderly.

Daenerys squeezed her knight's palm encouragingly; she was pleased with his open affection.

"I could apologize, but we both know I will always do what is necessary to keep you safe, my Queen," Jorah murmured.

"You could have any position within my council, Jorah. There are other ways to serve your Queen."

There was a desperate plea cowering in her voice.

"Protecting you gives me purpose. Official titles aside, I would never be able to stand by and watch harm befall you, Your Grace."

Daenerys squeezed her eyes shut and turned her head, frustrated with him and herself. She knew there was truth behind Jorah's words. As long as danger confronted her, he would be there to stand in its path. The evidence of that was not only clear in recent bruising, but in the various scars that covered his body.

Her eyes traced unfamiliar, faded marks along the sloping muscles of his arms, but her gaze seemed drawn to the bold scar close to his heart. The memories of him nearly dying during the Long Night lunged for her teetering emotions, but she shoved them away.

Daenerys opened her eyes, ignoring the sudden burn of tears. She lifted Jorah's hand, which still cradled hers, and pressed a reverent kiss against his fingertips. The action matched his earlier affection...just as her heart mirrored his devotion.

"It was worth a try," she sighed, her lips curving into a weak smile.

She couldn't change him anymore than he could change her. She didn't want to. The acceptance of flaws was unspoken and natural between them.

"Valiant effort, Your Grace."

Daenerys liked the distant mischief dancing in her knight's eyes, despite the melancholy nature of their discussion. Something about the flowery scent in the air and the quiet intimacy of the setting made all somber thoughts fade from her mind.

She scooped a handful of foam from the water's surface and brushed it under Jorah's chin, giggling lightly as suds clung to his golden beard.

There was no point dwelling on the sorrowful possibilities of life when she had such pleasant company.

 


 

A few weeks later…

If he wasn't so charmed by the Queen's behavior, Tyrion would have rolled his eyes.

Daenerys walked ahead of him with Ser Jorah a half-step behind her. Her hands were clasped behind her back in the same fashion as her Lord Commander's. The subtle imitation did not go unnoticed by Ser Jorah, who released a barely audible chuckle.

It was the first time they had all ventured out into Flea Bottom in some time and the escape outdoors was invigorating.

The Queen was wonderful with her people and their support was displayed as beaming faces and excited waves. The welcoming behavior allowed Daenerys to interact with the commoners more openly than previous rulers.

Although there had been no recent attempts to harm the Queen, her Lord Commander was always close by and vigilant.

Tyrion believed Ser Jorah was largely responsible for increased security throughout Flea Bottom as he personally handled minor disputes before they grew into larger issues. His ability to resolve problems diplomatically was admirable and prevented unnecessary bloodshed. Proactive planning kept the Queen's enemies at a distance, with a sea of followers between them.

Even then, while others let their attention slip with the pleasantness of the warm afternoon, Ser Jorah remained alert. His eyes constantly scanned the crowds of people and the rows of shops around them. Tyrion found the constant influx of sights, sounds, and smells overwhelming, but somehow Ser Jorah was able to filter through it.

 


 

Jorah was happy to be outdoors and in the presence of his Queen, even though her playful grins threatened to distract him from his duties.

She had been doing a lot of that lately – smiling at him and looking as though her love extended just as far as his.

Jorah forced himself to refocus on the present. It would be far too easy to become swept away by Daenerys' frequent attention. He couldn't allow his focus to be on anything but her safety. The crowds of Flea Bottom were unpleasant most normal days, but especially when the Queen was present. It was good to see so much support, but it made protecting her more difficult.

Jorah's eyes scanned faces and buildings until he grew weary of clothing patterns and repetitive expressions. He noted a nearby argument between a traveling merchant and a farmer. One man was angry at the other because of the horse and cart that blocked his shop. The merchant hadn't even bothered to properly secure his horse before engaging the other man.

Jorah's gaze then roamed over a blacksmith preparing to forge a dagger and a child escaping her mother's grasp to toddle after a drifting flower.

The daily activity seemed simple and harmless. So much so, that he almost smiled when the first strike of the blacksmith's hammer startled the merchant's horse. Without a tether, the terrified creature tore away from its owner and ran through the street, heavy cart in tow.

Catching the incident quickly, Jorah glanced further down the street. His stomach plummeted as he observed the child lingering in the dirt path. She had finally caught up to the flower, but she stood directly in the horse's path.

Instinct urged Jorah forward.

 


 

"Mormont, what in seven hells-," Tyrion sputtered, temporarily knocked off balance as Ser Jorah pushed past him and into the street. The knight moved quicker than one would think possible in weighted armor.

The sudden movement caught the attention of most nearby, including the Queen, who called out after her knight in confusion.

Tyrion followed Ser Jorah with his eyes and saw the cause for alarm. His blood ran cold with panic. A small girl stood in the middle of the street, alone except for the horse and cart barreling towards her.

Time stood still long enough to leave space for Ser Jorah. He caught the child in his arms and pushed her to the ground, throwing his body over top of hers.

There was no stopping the startled horse as it galloped forward and although the animal stumbled sloppily to avoid the knight, the cart kept a straight path.

Ser Jorah and the little girl disappeared beneath a cloud of dirt and dust.

A choked gasp sounded from beside him and Tyrion glanced up into his Queen's terrified eyes. She lurched forward, but Tyrion reached out a hand to stop her.

The entire commotion drew the attention of everyone nearby, but no one seemed to breath.

The air cleared slowly and through the dust, Tyrion saw movement. Relief took the place of fear as Ser Jorah pulled himself to his feet. The little girl clung to the knight, but appeared unharmed except for two thoroughly scraped knees and bloodied elbows.

The child's mother rushed forward, tears tumbling down her cheeks. Her relief spilled forth as muffled sobs. Ser Jorah passed the girl into the woman's waiting arms. Feeding off of her mother's emotions, the child began to cry in earnest. Pain and confusion had caught up to the poor girl. The woman thanked Ser Jorah repeatedly and touched his arm with shaking hands.

The crowd remained silent. The only activity came from further down the road, where several men had the sense to wrangle the horse.

All eyes watched Ser Jorah with a mixture of shock and awe. Their Lord Commander brushed the dirt from his armor and without a word, stepped to resume his position at the Queen's side.

Daenerys' hands immediately reached for him, dozens of emotions visible in her expression.

"I'm alright," Ser Jorah murmured, his head inclined towards her discreetly.

The Queen did not look convinced and Tyrion wasn't sure he was either. Ser Jorah seemed unharmed other than a cut across his nose and chin, but it was difficult to know if the wheels of the cart or the horse itself had grazed him. The poor man was covered in dust and injuries often hid well behind shock.

"I think it's time for us to return to the castle," Daenerys stated. There was an unmistakable quiver in her voice.

The crowd remained suspended in silence as the royal party departed. Tyrion couldn't blame them. Ordinary people expected ordinary days and they had just witnessed the extraordinary, a moment of true valor.

What struck Tyrion as most significant was that Ser Jorah acted without thought. Men could summon up the strength to be heroic, but often only when given enough time to call upon courage. Ser Jorah hadn't taken such time. His natural instincts were selflessness, bravery, and kindness weaved into an entirely different quality...one so rare that the Gods were only able to pour a few drops of it onto fated men.

 


 

"You're angry," Jorah stated, watching Daenerys pace back and forth in the War Room.

Once they were inside the Red Keep and it was clear Ser Jorah was not seriously injured, the Queen had dragged him into the closest room.

He was lucky, so very lucky, that the wheels of the cart had been spaced far enough apart for him to fit between them. His armor had suffered the scraping damage of the wagon's bottom surface and he escaped with little more than an abrasion or two.

"I am not angry" Daenerys denied, her elevated tone and hostile expression contradicting the statement.

You certainly seem angry.

Jorah did speak the words aloud, but his expression relayed the message. His nonchalance infuriated her.

She whirled on him, her eyes flashing dangerously.

"I'm not angry, I'm furious!" she shouted, stepping towards Jorah with a finger outstretched in accusation. "You were reckless and nearly got yourself killed!"

Jorah watched her closely, but his demeanor remained irritatingly calm. Hadn't she admired that about him not so long ago?

"Khaleesi-."

"No, don't say a word. Don't try to rationalize the possibility of your own death."

"It was a child. I couldn't stand by and do nothing," Jorah argued.

Daenerys squeezed her eyes shut and pressed her fingertips to her forehead. She knew he was right and she despised him for it. He was a brave man and while it was one of the reasons she adored him, she knew it would eventually be his downfall. The thought burned her in a way no flame ever could.

Footsteps trekked across the floor beneath her and Jorah's tall shadow appeared in front of her. He gently tugged her hand away from her face and held it in his own calloused palm.

Daenerys opened her eyes, but her vision swam with tears. Everything around her appeared blurry except for Jorah's bold, cobalt eyes.

Her fear always lingered too close to her anger.

"I-I'm afraid of losing you," she whispered, her voice breaking in the open air.

The words had barely escaped her before Jorah pulled her forward and wrapped his arms around her shoulders securely. Her knight often hesitated to initiate physical interaction between them, but never when she needed his comfort. His embrace was never far away when she felt herself searching for steady ground.

Daenerys closed her eyes again, but more contently than before. Her cheek pressed against Jorah's chest and she nearly disappeared in his arms. She relished the feeling.

Her knight rested his chin against her temple and ran a hand up and down her back soothingly.

"I would never abandon you," Jorah murmured, his voice vibrating against her skin.

"What if you're not given a choice?"

"The Gods have allowed me to remain by your side for this long, Khaleesi. They are aware of my stubborn nature."

Daenerys smiled lightly, but didn't respond. She tightened her arms around his waist, holding him closer in case he tried to pull away too soon.

When they finally did part, Daenerys held onto Jorah's hands and studied him closely. She admired the near constant warmth of his eyes and the strength stretched along the lines of his shoulders. Every time she looked at her knight, she found more of him to cherish.

"If you could see yourself as I do, you would never doubt your worth," she stated softly, dropping one of his hands to caress the elegant edge of his cheek. She couldn't stop touching him.

Jorah's eyes closed briefly, as though he were warring against himself and her now obvious affections. Denial was no longer an option for either of them.

"Jorah," she needed his full attention.

His eyes opened slowly and met her gaze again.

"I've tried to be patient for quite some time now, but that's your talent, not mine," she huffed.

An amused expression crossed Jorah's face. Past experience made him very aware of her impatience.

"I remember when Kraznys mo Nakloz accused me of being a beggar queen. At that time, it was a title I found repulsive and unfitting, but recent revelations have forced me to reconsider," Daenerys stated.

Confusion split across Jorah's brow, but she continued.

"For you – for us, I am willing to become that beggar queen, Jorah."

Daenerys meant it too. She would plead with him – beg him to accept her love before they lost anymore time. She needed him to look beyond the mistakes of her past rejection and see the strength of her resolve.

Jorah reached for her hand and removed it from his cheek. She half expected him to shift away from her, but he stepped closer instead. His palms gently cradled her cheeks. Daenerys almost gasped at the vivid emotions dancing across his features in the form of adoration. Her heart skipped on a hope-filled beat.

"I would never ask you to do that. You shouldn't devalue yourself for anyone, especially not me," he stated firmly.

Daenerys shook her head against his hands.

"Only you, Jorah. I would do it to prove to you how much I want us to be together."

"You don't have to prove anything to me. My heart never doubted yours, but my mind has been a bit slow."

Daenerys bit back her smile, which also buried the cheerful tears threatening to obscure her vision once again. She wanted to see him. She wanted to see him as clearly as he had always seen her.

"I want to be your strength, Khaleesi, not your weakness," Jorah's voice split at the edges. His thumbs brushed her cheeks with the faintest of touches.

You must be their strength.

"As you are mine," Daenerys whispered to the ghosts of memories formed long ago.

She couldn't be sure who pulled who closer, but suddenly there was no space left between them. Daenerys' fingers pressed into Jorah's armor and she was momentarily frustrated by the lack of fabricate that could be used to leverage him even closer.

Jorah's hands continued to cup her cheeks as he lowered his face to hers. His breath tickled her skin and without thought, her eyes fluttered closed. He lowered his head until their noses grazed against each other. There was one final moment of hesitation before his lips pressed against hers.

He kissed her with an infinite tenderness. A gentle sweep of his lips. A brush against hers that was enough to send her heart fluttering towards ideas of a paradise together.

Jorah's kiss told her of shared walks along garden paths, long nights curled up alongside each other, and smiles stolen between dark corridors. It felt like things she never believed possible. A promise of eternity and more.

Daenerys released a sound that could have been mistaken for either a moan or sigh of pleasure and melted into Jorah.

Her knight's hands dropped from her face to settle on her waist. Daenerys took the opportunity to loop her arms around his neck and deepen the kiss, demanding more.

Jorah parted his lips and matched her passion. He was never one to deny his Queen.

Everything about the kiss was potent. Soft lips brushed away the scratch of his beard and the scent of pine and rain consumed her. His touch was strong and her legs felt weak, but she didn't fear falling.

Jorah ended the kiss far sooner than she would have liked. She felt torn from a satisfying fantasy.

"The others will come looking if we are gone for too long, my Queen," he murmured through half-lidded eyes.

Daenerys slid her arms from his neck to secure them around his chest. She pressed her smile against his armor and tucked her head under his chin.

His Queen – she liked when he called her that. It wasn't meant as a possessive title, but one of complete honor.

To him, she was more than the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. She could have nothing and still be his everything.

For him, the title of queen was more than power resting upon an iron throne. To be his queen was to be the woman he cherished above all others.

What Daenerys felt in her heart could never be fully expressed in words. She could easily recount every other emotion she felt – sadness, joy, pain – but her love for Jorah was impossible to describe. It was too exciting; too complete; too consuming; too rare.

Glancing up at her knight, Daenerys thought of how she would would like to spend the rest of her life whispering words of devotion to him.

Chapter Text

Daenerys' eyes shifted to Jorah and her brow furrowed.

Her knight did not look well. Although he was dressed in full armor and stood tall, he wavered like a blade of grass in the wind. His blue eyes were hazy with exhaustion and a rosy tinge clung to his nose and cheeks.

Daenerys moved towards Jorah, her hand reaching out to tap his arm. His head lifted in response to the gentle touch, but his movements were uncharacteristically sluggish. His eyes tried to brighten as they found hers.

"Good Morning, Khaleesi," Jorah's voice was hoarse. She knew his tone well enough to notice the unfamiliar and muted edge.

"Are you feeling alright, Jorah?" she asked.

The Queen studied her knight closely while she waited for a response. She wouldn't allow him to mollify her concern.

Of course, Your Grace," he replied almost immediately.

Daenerys lowered and narrowed her eyes. His response was far too prompt for her liking.

Jorah seemed to realize his mistake and ducked her determined gaze.

"You wouldn't lie to your Queen, would you, Jorah?" Daenerys hummed her disapproval. She knew exactly how to elicit the truth from him.

Jorah's shoulders dropped in defeat. It seemed to take a great amount of strength for him to even attempt to deceive her.

"It is nothing more than a minor head cold. I will be back to normal before tomorrow."

"With rest," she added for him.

"Your Grace-?" Jorah's head tilted with confusion.

"With rest, you will be back to normal before tomorrow."

"Khaleesi-," Jorah tried again, but she stopped him with an unyielding look.

"It was not a request."

Her knight pressed his lips together to prevent himself from offering a rebuttal.

"Missandei will walk with you," Daenerys insisted and waved her handmaiden over with a smile. Jorah sputtered beside her.

"I-I don't need assistance. I'm not a child."

Daenerys resisted the urge to cross her arms, but allowed her eyebrows to shoot skyward.

"Perhaps I'm sending Missandei to ensure you obey my orders," she reasoned.

Jorah opened his mouth, but remained silent once Missandei approached. Daenerys smiled warmly and turned to her handmaiden.

"Missandei, Ser Jorah is unwell. Could you make certain he finds his chambers?" Daenerys stated before turning her gaze back to the man in question. "He is going to rest and remain there until he has recovered."

The order behind her words was clear.

"Of course, Your Grace," Missandei agreed. There was a hint of amusement in her dark eyes as they flickered to the scowling knight beside her.

The Queen dismissed them both and watched her two closest friends exit the Throne Room together. She would check on Jorah as soon as she finished her meeting with the small council.

 


 

Missandei studied Ser Jorah for a moment as they stood in his chambers. He did look quite ill...she could hear it in his voice and see it in the ghost-like pallor of his face. His posture was faltering as well. She wasn't sure how long he would remain upright in his armor.

"I am grateful for your company, Missandei, but I can manage from here," Ser Jorah stated politely. Missandei smiled at the gentle dismissal, but didn't move.

"Ser Jorah, I would like to make you a drink," she offered. The knight's expression shifted to confusion. "It's a recipe from my homeland. It will help you find rest."

Ser Jorah looked ready to refuse, but seemed to remember his manners and instead, nodded in acquiescence. His mouth dipped into a sheepish smile that was difficult not to return.

A few moments later, Missandei returned with a steaming cup. She bit back a grin as she watched Ser Jorah hesitantly accept the drink. When he glanced down into the cup, he failed to hide his wariness.

"I did not poison it," Missandei teased lightly.

Ser Jorah chuckled and looked momentarily embarrassed.

"Thank-you," his gratitude was as genuine as the kindness reflected in his eyes. He took a sip of the warm beverage and almost immediately choked back a cough. "It's quite...strong," he murmured through watering eyes.

"It's medicinal and will help you sleep," she giggled.

Missandei observed her friend fondly. She knew it was difficult for him to accept help. He asked for little and so often served as the protector of their makeshift family. He deserved to be taken care of in return.

"Ser Jorah, I have a small suggestion. There is another common remedy for illness in Naath."

 


 

The moment Daenerys neared Jorah's chambers, she heard his strained voice.

"I was at peace before you entered the room."

"I'm here to look after my dear friend. I make quite the handsome and attentive handmaiden," Tyrion responded, a smile evident in his voice.

Daenerys rolled her eyes. Of course Tyrion was already badgering Jorah.

She entered the room through the open doorway and was surprised to find Jorah laying in the large bath in the corner of the room. His eyes were closed while his head rested against the stone rim of the tub and his arms extended along its edges.

The room smelled pleasantly of lavender and roses. The scent was familiar and Daenerys immediately knew Missandei had drawn the bath.

Tyrion sat slouched in a chair a few feet from Jorah. He beamed at her once she moved into view.

"Your Grace, after you informed me of Mormont's ill state, I had to come see for myself that he was alright," he explained. The mischief in her Hand's eyes was far too familiar and no longer surprised her.

"Have you appeased your concerns?" Daenerys countered. Her eyes darted to Jorah, who had opened one eye at her entrance.

"Someone has to ensure Mormont doesn't drown."

"I would rather drown than listen to your incessant gabbing," Jorah grumbled.

Tyrion chuckled and stood up slowly.

"It seems my company is no longer desired. I will leave our knight in your capable hands, Your Grace."

There was a not so subtle smirk etched upon Tyrion's face, but mercifully, he departed the room without another word.

Daenerys returned her attention to the man in front of her, who appeared to be falling asleep. She smiled and sat on the bench beside the bath.

"You seem quite relaxed, Jorah," she observed, her tone soft with affection.

Her knight opened his eyes again and his mouth slipped into a lazy grin. Her heart responded with a feverish flutter. Jorah rarely smiled and the unguarded nature of his demeanor, brought upon by illness and exhaustion, was endearing.

"I suddenly understand your fondness for scalding water, Khaleesi," Jorah murmured…