A/N: Yeah, been a while. But we're still here.
There's a bit of a time jump of a moon or two.
Chapter 58: The Future
"All hail the King!"
The hall of the Iron Throne was packed with the surviving nobility of King's Landing, joined by many martial lords and those of the Stormlands. Tyene, rising from her gilded seat positioned to the right of the Iron Throne itself reserved for the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, didn't care about most of them. Just empty faces.
There were those that mattered though. Ser Davos Seaworth, Lord Randyll Tarly, Lord Petyr Baelish… and the man of the hour Lord Jon Stark. Given his position, he stood at the front of the throng of courtiers, joining Tyene in not bending the knee, merely bowing their heads in respect as Stannis walked in - Kingsguard trailing behind him.
"Presenting Stannis of House Baratheon, First of his Name. King of the Andals, Rhoynar, and First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm."
"Long may he reign," the crowd chanted after Littlefinger recited the titles.
"Rise," Stannis barked, walking up the dias towards the Iron Throne. He sent Tyene a warm smile, one she reciprocated, before both sat down together. Lord Baelish as Hand of the King took his place standing to Stannis' left. "What is the only item of business, Lord Hand?"
Stannis knew - he'd called for this session of court after all. But even Tyene knew the formalities had to be kept.
Clearing his throat, Littlefinger bore no demeanor but one obsequiously in support of his King. "Your Grace, Queen Daenerys Targaryen of Meereen has landed at Duskendale and begins her journey to King's Landing."
Tyene saw many uneasy, unsure of what to say or the context - it was honestly quite amusing to see them squirm. When she met Jon Stark's eyes, they reflected the same thing. However, Stannis broke it by clapping his hands together. "Wonderful." It wasn't long before the entire court was clapping, the mood changed in an instant towards one mirroring that of the King. "It is my joy to announce that Daenerys is arriving to renounce her bid for the Iron Throne. In return, she shall be named my heir. Peace is at hand, my Lords and Ladies. All the sacrifices we have made for the good of the Realm are not in vain, and the entirety of the Seven Kingdoms can focus itself on the true threat."
"Well said, Your Grace," Littlefinger remarked.
Nodding, Stannis rose. "The parlay will be in a few days at the Dragonpit. I expect all of you to be there to witness history. That is all." With a flourish of the trumpets, the King departed, everyone bowing as he left.
Rising herself, Tyene approached a softly smiling Jon Stark. "Congratulations, my Lord," she said to him.
Jon took her hand in his and kissed the back of it. "The congratulations belong to us all, Your Grace. Not simply myself."
"Yet you were the driver behind all of this, if I recall correctly. You must be rather modest." She chuckled, eying him closely. Aye, he was very happy over this. Too happy. "I'd hope that you ensure this doesn't fall through, Lord Stark."
"As do I, Your Grace. There is much riding on this."
At that moment, Tyene felt a sudden lurch in her stomach. "For all of us." Jon nodded, kissed her hand once more, and then walked to Ser Davos. A relief to the Queen.
Trying to maintain a regal demeanor until she was out of sight, once she turned the corner Tyene broke out into a run. Nearly tripping over her dress, she burst into the privy and fell to her knees. Voiding her stomach of the light lunch she had eaten only hours before.
She cursed to herself, keeping her head hovering over the hole through the bench - feeling her knees biting upon the rough stone. "Seven hells… seven fucking hells," she murmured over and over, trying not to retch. To fight the madness of her churning stomach.
The privy door creaked open as someone knelt beside her. Tyene felt hands pull back her hair. "In all fairness, I expected Nymeria to be the first."
Tyene snorted, chuckling dryly. "She was always the most wanton of us." She suddenly went green and retched a little more. "Fuck, I hate this."
"I know," Elia Sand spoke, her one companion of Dorne she had left. "Does His Grace know?"
A nod. "Yes… only him and the Maester of Storm's End, who is loyal to him. He hasn't told the Small Council yet."
"Is there a reason?"
"Mayhaps he wants to announce it at the parlay."
Elia pursed her lips. "That is a possibility." They were silent, a few more dry heaves until her stomach settled down. "This means your fate is tied with Stannis."
Tyene looked up at her sister. "I know."
"Unless you wish to repudiate our oath of fealty to Daenerys, I suggest you make sure this peace is signed and put into effect… for all our sakes." She groaned but nodded. "Now, let's get you presentable for His Grace, Your Grace."
Her eyes narrowed. "Shut up." Elia giggled at her glare.
As expected, her husband was in his solar looking over dispatches - though the frown planted to his lips curled into a smile upon seeing her. "Dearest wife," Stannis said warmly, rising from his seat as soon as they were alone.
Tyene smiled back, regarding him as he hurried to her without a limp. Accepting the kiss he pressed to her lips. "I am glad you are well, husband."
Stannis lowered a hand to her still-flat stomach. "And how is the fawn?" His voice was only a little over a whisper, but filled with affection.
"Seven hells upon my stomach, but otherwise fine." She laughed. "The maesters state she's no larger than a pea."
"She?" Stannis rested his hands on her waist. "And you are sure my son and heir is a girl?"
Tyene didn't like his dismissive tone, but such was quite low on the list of concerns she felt she needed to worry about. "Just a feeling. Mother's intuition and all that - mine always knew that she was bearing my father's daughters."
"Aye, Oberyn Martell… quite proud of his daughters, and until I met you I never saw why." He kissed her cheek before walking back to his chair. "Now I am more appreciative."
Knowing such was quite loving praise from the normally taciturn Stag King, Tyene took a seat for herself, folding her hands on her lap. "Here's hoping Jon Stark and Daenerys Targaryen bear a son."
Stannis raised his brow but ultimately sighed. "I suppose I haven't been secretive of my desire for Jon Stark to be the father of my future good child - a Goodson and King if your intuition is correct." He leaned back in his seat, massaging the bridge of his nose. "I cannot trust anyone else besides him to be her husband and consort. Anyone else might break the treaty to gain the advantage, marry the Targaryen heir to some wealthy upstart from the Free Cities or Reach in order to gain more coin. Jon… I trust him."
Most of Tyene trusted Jon Stark as well - since Daenerys seemed to - but there was more at stake now. The little child in her belly deserved more certainty. "Have you considered the thought that Jon Stark is in love with the Dragon Queen?" Tyene asked. "That perhaps that could cloud his judgment?"
"I have considered the likelihood that he does marry the Dragon Queen and begets the one who marries our child, and it truly solves all problems. If he loves her, then all the best for him." She quirked her head, not even having to verbalize her question. "And no, I am not worried. I have known Jon Stark for a long time. He would never betray me," Stannis scoffed.
"How sure are you?"
Stannis eyed her, somewhat angrily, "Do not speak ill of him. He is one of my most trusted confidants… practically the son I never had." There was a rare grief in his voice.
Tyene held up her hands, "I mean no disrespect to you or him." She caressed his shoulder, then moved her hands to her stomach. "I just have more at risk now. It would be unfortunate for you to fall into a trap. That would affect me, and our child as well."
Stannis nodded, "Worry not, I ponder on the health and well-being of that child in your belly more than little else. That child is everything."
"Then make sure the child, and I are protected," Tyene replied.
"There is little else more important to me, My Queen," Stannis rose and stepped over to her. He gently planted a kiss on her forehead. Something about Tyene had softened him, arose a different side of him, perhaps. He cared for her deeper than he thought he might. "I would not fret, my dear. There will be peace soon, and then we can focus on the real war."
Biting her lip, Tyene nodded. "I pray for peace every day."
Thankfully her stomach had settled as she slipped into bed. Normally Stannis would join her - domestic bliss and a lifetime of abstention had finally brought relief to his wounded leg and left him… not repulsive as she worried when he took her to wed. Tyene had grown to somewhat enjoy their encounters especially as she quickened, but tonight it was simply her. The diligent King Stannis, committed to his duties.
Regardless of his pregnant, lonely wife.
But Tyene had duties too. Duties to her husband. Duties to Dorne. Duties to the alliance her mother chose to make with Daenerys and that her cousin confirmed.
Duties to her child, growing in her belly.
She wanted Daenerys to win but also wanted Stannis not to lose. Her child could go on to sit on the Iron Throne… Stannis would hold to the agreement out of love for Jon, while Daenerys would do the same, either from principle or because she loved Jon as well.
Her fist clenched. Only if the peace fell through would her child be harmed. And whomever would sabotage the peace… her knives were still sharp, and Stannis did not know where she hid them on her body.
Unlike at Dragonstone, her feet met a hard wooden jetty rather than the swirling surf of the beach. Daenerys wished she could've ridden Drogon from Dragonstone to the port city of Duskendale, but there would be a time and a place for intimidation.
Here, she was greeting a sworn Lord. Time to be more congenial. "Your Grace." Lord Rykker and his family bent the knee to her at the base of the jetty, the head of a large welcoming party including men-at-arms and servants. "Duskendale is yours."
"Rise Lord Rykker, and thank you." Striding forward to a familiar face, she tossed pretenses away and wrapped Grey Worm in a hug. "Thank you for holding the line, Turgon Nudho."
"My Queen is too kind," Grey Worm replied in Valyrian. "Jorah the Andal. Tyrion Lannister," he spoke, smile dropping at the second person standing behind Daenerys."
While Jorah merely nodded, Tyrion's lips curled in an awkward smile. "Grey Worm." Greetings taken care of, they all ambled towards the keep that overlooked the city's harbor. "I still think this is a mistake."
"Your opinion is noted," Daenerys spoke, not wanting to have this conversation.
"I read the draft agreement aboard the ship. If there was any loose contract of effective slavery that Littlefinger wrote, this is…"
"Anything you can say here has already been said, Lord Tyrion. Enough," she snapped, and the Imp went quiet. Looking off into the distance with a barely hidden sulk.
"He'll be grumpy for days."
Daenerys turned to Ser Jorah. "I hope you aren't one to tell me I'm making a mistake."
"Not a mistake… more concerns." She rolled her eyes. Even now, as she walked between rows of assembled bannermen of House Rykker, Jorah would insist on speaking his mind. "Khaleesi… I cannot refrain from my worries." His voice was a whisper.
Daenerys knew more than anyone that even whispers could be heard. "In Dothraki, Ser Jorah. Better a tongue no one else knows." Missandei would arrive the next day, while her bloodriders weren't close enough to hear. She had Jorah's sword for protection.
He nodded. "Alright." He'd changed since returning to life, but his devotion to her was still the same - rock solid. "I read the preliminary deal sent by Lord Stark. I… do not like it."
"Nor do I, but I believe Lord Varys once told me that the best compromises are ones that leave a bit of a bad taste in the mouths of all sides." Truth be told, only Jon's insistence on peace and the desire to be that merciful Mhysa to Westeros as she was in Essos were what drove Daenerys to accept. "I will stay here as the official heir enough so that the people know me. Once Stannis dies, I will return securely in my place."
"That could be years from now."
"Enough time to finish what I started in Essos." Daenerys didn't fail to grasp the silver lining. While Jaenaera Vhassar in Volantis promised gradual abolition, there were other places that hadn't done that. Norvos was particularly brutal to their slaves, from what she heard. "You are worried he will repudiate."
"Stannis… he is very rigid in his honor, but the treaty specifies many things that could nullify it if you don't act carefully - thus forcing you to start over with the conquest."
She looked to her side, raising her brow at him. "Do you have something specific you wish to broach to me?"
"A part of this deal consists of you pairing your child with his?" Jorah asked.
"What of the Witch, Your Grace?" Jorah said, quietly, even double-checking no one was listening in. "The curse."
Daenerys' eyes wandered away, she tried to keep her mind from remembering that day. She certainly didn't appreciate thinking of it then. "No one knows of what happened, Ser Jorah," she replied, trying to keep the pain from her voice. "Not even Jon."
"So it will stay that way?"
"Yes," Dany said, plainly.
"I still don't trust him as you do… but from what I can see, he'd disbelieve the curse."
She closed her eyes. "That is his prerogative, but he wasn't there when the witch gave it." Finality in her statement.
"What if you cannot produce an heir?"
An immediate response did not come to Dany's mind. After a few moments of silence, "I'd assume Stannis would be long dead by then. So, perhaps it won't matter."
"You'd betray the deal?" Jorah frowned.
"I don't think I could walk away from my birthright, twice," Dany sighed. "But if the Witch's curse proves to be insurmountable, I won't have many other options."
"I'd hope that you're not cursed, Your Grace," Jorah said. "A child… Your child, it's a nice thought."
Dany allowed herself to ponder on the notion. Of a child… a child with Jon. Only Jon. It was certainly more pleasant than remembering the treachery of Mirri Maz Duur. "Yes, it is." The smile would probably come to haunt her, but she wouldn't deny herself this indulgence.
Of the family, the reality was likely to deny her.
Lord Rykker gladly provided the best chambers in his keep for Daenerys - his own, it seemed. Daenerys was normally not inclined to usurp the rightful chambers of the Lord of the Keep, but she was tired, and only the Lord's chambers provided a private bath for her to use. No one would think any less of her for indulging, and it seemed to put the Lord to ease.
Memories of the last time a Targaryen had dwelt in Duskendale ran deep - even if it had been her father. Barristan claimed it had been this that turned Aerys from paranoid and mercurial into mad and fire-obsessed. So personal comfort was what she needed to escape those thoughts.
With Missandei still absent, Daenerys was to be attended to by her ward and hostage, Lynesse Hightower. She wasn't Missandei - a close friend who knew her inside and out - but competent in duties as a handmaiden she was. "Easy, Lady Lynesse," Daenerys insisted as the girl tugged at her braids.
Mayhaps she was just a little unused to dealing with her new Queen.
A blush came over her comely face. "Forgive me, my Queen." Slower this time, Lynesse gently worked at the silver locks. Removing them from their knots. "If I may ask, why do you wear such complex braids? I mean, you'd look beautiful with your hair down."
Jon certainly loved her hair let down. "It's a Dothraki practice. One braid for each victory."
"Many braids, many victories."
Daenerys smiled pridefully. "Kessa, many victories… and no defeats." Even being captured by the Dothraki had led to a victory for her.
She was silent for a moment, finishing the last of the braids before grabbing a brush. This time it felt soothing, her hair being brushed. "Jorah was your companion during it all, correct?"
Tensing a bit, Daenerys sighed. "Most of it, at least. For some of it, I didn't trust him."
"From what I heard, there was no one he was more loyal to than you - not even me. I can see it in his eyes, the way he looks at you." Daenerys stared at her through the silver mirror. "He loves you."
"To which you'd know a lot." Lynesse was silent. "He knows how to fall for women who cannot love him back."
"I did love him… your Grace."
"Not enough to demand the worst of him."
She reacted with a raised voice. "I didn't ever ask him to do what he did…" Her eyes widened and she averted her gaze. "Your Grace… forgive me…"
But Daenerys shook her head. "No, I want you to be frank with me." She turned, standing to face the slender woman. Lynesse was barely any taller than her, and her hair was the lightest of blonde. If not for the green eyes, they would look like sisters to any onlooker. "Jorah was destroyed by you, both his reputation in tatters and his life near forfeit. Why did you let him do this? Why did you wish his hand in marriage if you knew him a minor Lord?"
Biting her lip, Lynesse sighed. "Love… the matters of the heart are more vicious than any battle. Sometimes you find yourself swooning over someone where nothing but the difficulty will follow." She set the brush down. "For what it's worth, I never regretted my life with Jorah. He was a sweet man, and made me happy - I only wish it could've worked."
Daenerys wished to berate her more, to protect Jorah on his behalf - her faithful bear simply avoided Lynesse and she him - but she couldn't. Her words were simply the truth, ones Daenerys had endured personally. "Alright." She wished not to continue this conversation. "Is my bath ready?"
Lynesse nodded. "Heated to a scalding warmth, as you requested." She appeared… apprehensive. "Will that be alright for you, your Grace?"
A smile. "The blood of the dragon requires heat, Lady Lynesse." Without the heat of her lover in bed, she would not give up the flawed substitute of her baths.
Alone she would be while bathing. Missandei joined her when she was here - as did Jon a few times when together, her favorite memories of bathing - but here there was no one. Shucking off her gown, Daenerys lowered herself into the bath. Sighing in contentment at the searing heat. Anyone else would find their skin blistering and burning, screaming in agony. But to the Queen, it was only a pleasant warmth. A gentle blanket wrapping around her. Setting her head down against the side, she resisted the urge to sleep.
"Sometimes you find yourself swooning over someone where nothing but difficulty will follow."
Lynesse couldn't have hit the nail closer to the head with such a description, especially since she knew not of Jon. Gods, with all that was transpiring… Daenerys had picked the hardest man to love, if not their improbable connection then for the impossible circumstances. Fate decreed them to despise each other, to fight.
Who were Targaryens but above man or god, and those that lived through the icy winters were those keen on challenging the elements as well.
Surrounded by the soothing heat, Daenerys allowed her mind to wander. Allowed herself the luxury of happiness. Damn her later, but mayhaps she could have joy with Jon. An end worthy of the songs, the life she desired yet never thought she could have.
She'd regret it when it inevitably came crashing down, but Daenerys didn't stop herself from dreaming. Soon, Jon would be in her arms, and it would all be over.
There was only one manner in which to react to the news, and that was a visible sense of joy. "Your Grace, my deepest congratulations on these tidings." Petyr Baelish bowed deeply. It could never hurt to bow too low. "I shall serve your child with the same vigor and loyalty in which I serve you."
Stannis looked happy. The happiest Littlefinger had ever seen him - it didn't match his older brother when in the midst of a feast or his younger brother in the midst of Loras Tyrell, but it was a shocking sight to those that knew Stannis. "The future, Littlefinger, the future." He sat in his seat behind the desk. "Shireen no longer will worry about inheriting the Realm, to which is a mercy. I shall find her a proper husband… mayhaps Jon Stark's half-brother?"
"A good choice, I suspect. Princess Shireen is a beautiful and bright girl, but given her injury, it's best she's sheltered.
A sigh. "The true god tested me with that. I failed, but coming to him saved her life." In this Stannis spoke the greatest conviction.
They were in Stannis' solar, a common domain for the Stag King these days. The parlay was getting closer and closer, nerves and excitement driving him to seclusion even as his leg began to heal.
Littlefinger was glad for it, as the coming of the treaty between Stannis and Daenerys presented many opportunities. "Yes, Your Grace." Littlefinger allowed a pregnant pause before clearing his throat. "There is a rumor I've heard about the Dragon Queen, Your Grace. From one of Qyburn's little birds and confirmed by my own sources."
Stannis looked up from his desk. "Your own sources?"
He shrugged. "People are a talkative bunch. They seek out intimacy, especially after sex - whores learn a lot, and I know plenty of them." It was how he was able to keep up with those such as Varys and Qyburn, the failings of man being the boon to him and his ambitions. "Including some in Meereen."
"I can see where this is going… did one of Daenerys' commanders talk too much to a whore?" A snort. "I'm suggesting the Imp."
"No, not him." Littlefinger paused again, waiting for Stannis to grow impatient. "Daenerys has the loyalty of a sellsword company, the Second Sons. One of their men talked to one of my whore birds and spilled a juicy story their leader told him."
"Yes, Daario Naharis."
"Naharis… Naharis…" Suddenly Stannis scowled. "The one who harmed Jon?"
"He's dead, so you do not need to worry… But this Daario was the lover of Queen Daenerys at the time. His subordinate asked if he worried he'd seeded a bastard in her, and Naharis boasted that she was the best lover - not only did she know every carnal act that could bring a man pleasure…"
"I don't want to hear this."
Baelish smiled. It was amusing that Stannis only felt lust for his new wife. How pathetic, it truly is. "But also," he continued. "That she would never bear a child."
To this, Stannis raised a brow. "Meaning what? That she was taking moon tea? I would be shocked if she didn't, sleeping with a man completely lowborn and brutish."
"Nothing I have heard indicated that she took moon tea, meaning that she was confident that he couldn't get her with child."
"So he was infertile?"
"Mayhaps she was." It was a dangerous rumor out there, given the treaty hinged on her and Jon Stark - most likely - having an heir that would marry Stannis' child with Tyene Martell. If there was no chance at an heir, then the deal fell through. Baelish wanted to see how Stannis reacted to this. "She could be barren."
His reaction wasn't all surprising. "What has Jon said of this?"
"Lord Stark said nothing."
"Then she's not barren." Before Littlefinger could speak again, Stannis raised his hand. "There is no one I trust more. He wished for this treaty and fought everyone to get it. If he trusts Daenerys to abide by it and not lie, then I trust him on it. Suspect that she endured the same worries about me, but chose to trust him."
Those with a true concern for Stannis would've probably pushed ahead and tried to convince him of at least the folly of blind trust in a rival claimant, but Littlefinger was not that person. He merely smiled and nodded. "Jon Stark should be very thankful for the trust of two illustrious monarchs."
Stannis shook his head. "No, Daenerys and I should be thankful to know a man such as him. A son in my life, and a lover and husband in hers." Stannis sighed and leaned back in his seat. "Is that all, Baelish? There is a beautiful woman carrying my child waiting for me in my bed, alongside a warm blanket and soft sheets."
"It is unseasonably cold, my King." Littlefinger rose and bowed. "I shall make my leave." Stannis grumbled a response before Ser Edric closed the door behind Littlefinger.
His own chambers were quiet, a welcome respite from his bedchamber in the brothel. Even when alone there, the noises of pleasure wafted through the walls. Here, the higher plots necessitated silence.
"Chaos is a ladder," he murmured to himself and smiled as he fingered the Hand of the King pin upon his breast. Only a few more rungs to the top and nigh twenty years of scrounging and planning and flesh peddling would reach its zenith.
This treaty was not the end, but merely the beginning of the end.
Reaching for his desk, he took a key out of the folds of his long coat and opened a drawer. Removing a ravenscroll addressed to him. Foolish to send, but Baelish always took precautions.
The armies will be encamped outside the walls of the capital. We need not be enemies, but this atrocity of a treaty is an enemy of all that is good.
I trust everything will be arranged.
Smiling, Littlefinger tossed the letter into the hearth. Watching it burn up into nothing but ash. Satisfying it was, all evidence of his treason evaporating. But it would all matter for naught. Daenerys would die, Jon Stark would die… Mayhaps Tyene Martell, though she and her child might be useful.
Stannis would live, if for a while. All Littlefinger needed was the support of one, and then all would fall into place. Sitting at his desk, he was greatly satisfied as he wrote out his words to that person.
My dearest Sansa,
I am hopeful that there will be peace but worry greatly as to whether Daenerys can be trusted. She is the Mad King's daughter and has already seen her subordinate and former lover conduct atrocity upon your brother, Lord Stark.
Be wary of everything. Trust no one but me, the friend of your late mother, since they are only out for their own interests.
If things end in the worst possible manner, I shall soon join you. If not, I can hope you travel to King's Landing so you can make your mark upon the future of the Realm.
Your loyal servant and protector,
"Good gods…" Shaking his head, Lord Justin Massey turned to Jon. "Good call on the peace treaty, Lord Stark." The Master of Laws gestured out to the vast array of Unsullied hypaspists gathered in formation. Screening the vast Dothraki horde that was setting up camp several miles outside of King's Landing. "Larger than Tywin's armies, certainly."
The gruff snort of Randyll Tarly only made Jon grit his teeth. "Savages and slaves, the lot of them."
Jon wanted to pop him in the mouth but only pursed his lips. "They look like savages and tourney soldiers, but they're tough. Fought them myself and they are not pushovers."
"You were outnumbered, Stark. Give me thirty-thousands knights and men-at-arms and five thousand archers and they'd all be corpses."
"Don't forget the dragons, Randyll," said Lord Jason. "I'm both scared and intrigued to see them."
Now that caused Jon to smile. "They are a sight to see, that's for sure." Peering down from the hill he waited on alongside Stannis' diplomatic receiving party, a cloud of dust signaled the arrival of a large group of Daenerys' horsemen. Daenerys was not among them, but the Targaryen banners were. "It's the Queen's council."
"But not the Queen," Randyll hissed.
"I'm sure she's on her way." Jon dismounted from his horse and approached them on foot. They dismounted as well to greet him. "Ser Barristan, Lady Missandei," he called out. "Where are Lord Tyrion and Lord Varys?"
"In the wheelhouse, Lord Stark," Barristan replied.
"It is heartening to see you well," Missandei said.
Jon nodded. "I am glad for that as well… so where is the Queen?"
A loud yet faint roar halted their conversation in its tracks, to which Jon was glad. Talking more with Tyrion would simply ruin his mood, and it was taking all of him not to beam in a rare joy as he spotted Drogon's dark form soar through the cloudless sky. He circled them, Rhaegal and Viserion bat-shaped smaller shadows higher above as if watching. Waiting if there was a threat.
There wouldn't be. Jon had assured it.
Daenerys Targaryen had come home - at least the other place her House called home.
Certainly, he almost laughed as many in Stannis' party flinched. Some panicked as Drogon swooped closer overhead. You scream in terror, even though she comes in peace. The vague memories of when he endured the hostile dragonfire were enough to give him proper respect for the dragons. And to know when they were hostile and when they were not. The lazy weaving through the air, more for show than to truly intimidate, it was clear if only to him.
Not to mention the sight of silver hair streaming atop Drogon's back. His unlikely lover, the woman that had almost killed him - whose past lover had killed him - and yet Jon loved her anyway. Let none say that he chose the simple path.
Wingbeats kicking up great dust clouds, the columns of Unsullied and Dothraki horsemen gave Drogon a wide berth as the beast landed, filling the air with a piercing roar. Announcing his rider's arrival, slowly he lowered his shoulder to the ground. Allowing Daenerys to climb down. Scrambling down with the spines for a ladder as if second nature to the monarch. Effortless. She dropped to the ground with a slight puff of dust around her black boots. A crown gracing her brow and wearing her black battledress with a red cape and sash. Regal, fearsome, and yet still utterly beautiful.
Even from this distance, Jon's eyes locked with Daenerys'. Her regal face was not smiling as she approached, yet Jon could see what she wished others not to see.
Happiness. Same as his.
Walking straight and powerful, Daenerys turned her head and seemed to call out to Drogon. The beast roared, unfurling his wings, and leaped into the sky.
Everyone was watching the mighty beast sail high into the air, and then to the woman who rode him.
It was only natural that her Bloodriders greet her first - then Ser Jorah, the five men surrounding her in a protective screen as she made her way towards her advisors. Missandei was greeted warmly, Barristan only slightly less so. A strange woman, who kept clear of Ser Jorah not that he paid her a glance, then fell in behind as Daenerys greeted Tyrion and Varys in a formalistic manner.
Lynesse Hightower. Daenerys said that she was a condition the Hightowers had to meet in order for peace.
All thoughts left as Daenerys finally approached him, the love visible in her glittering amethyst eyes. It was all he could not break his diplomatic facade - just as before, around her, what remained of the pain finally vanished. Collecting himself, he stepped forward. "Your Grace," he began.
"Lord Stark," she replied, voice just as diplomatic and melodic to the ear.
"On behalf of King Stannis of House Baratheon as an envoy of peace, welcome to King's Landing."
She nodded. "Indeed. I hope it matches my expectations."
He chuckled. "I truly doubt that." Daenerys approached, to which he turned to gesture to Stannis' representatives. "This is Lord Randyll Tarly, Master of War and Lord of Hornhill. And Lord Justin Massey of Stonedance, Master of Laws."
"We welcome you to the court of His Grace, King Stannis," Lord Justin remarked, bowing his head. "And as Lord Stark alludes, we are hopeful for the peace to come."
"Peace is always welcome," Daenerys replied. "As opposed to death. This land has seen enough death."
"Well said, Your Grace," Lord Justin agreed. Randyll said nothing.
Daenerys picked up on it. "I have been told of House Tarly's martial prowess - something worthy of respect."
Randyll eyed her with… thinly veiled disgust, making Jon's blood boil. "Thank you, Your Grace. It seems the gods have ensured that your armies do not get a demonstration, then."
Jon wished he could give him a firm slap then and there. Daenerys, meanwhile, just pursed her lips. "Indeed." She motioned for her horses. "Let us head to the Dragonpit then, I trust that is where the parlay will be held."
"Aye, it is, though would you like…"
Daenerys waved Lord Massey off. "I will rest while waiting for King Stannis. I desire to formalize this before accepting his generous hospitality."
"As I am sure would his Grace," Jon added, knowing Stannis well. "Let us ride. I shall accompany Queen Daenerys and inform her of the procedure." Lord Massey nodded, while Lord Randyll just gave him a ghost of a sneer.
The servants on either side brought up the horses, Daenerys on her beautiful white Dothraki mare and Jon on a dark stallion. He rode as close to her as he could without looking suspicious, to which she did not seem to find offense to. "Charming, is Lord Tarly," she finally said to him, their voices low enough so that only they could hear each other - Ser Jorah and the bloodriders gave them some privacy, as did Stannis' men.
"He was never someone I was inclined to like," he replied, happy that he could talk to her, but waiting for her to make the first move. Jon was nervous - appearances needed to be kept, and he trusted Daenerys more in that regard. "Sam told me he essentially threatened to have him killed in a hunting accident if he didn't go to the Wall."
Daenerys' hands tightened on the reins. "I hate men like that, so hating of family. Samwell is… a good person. My uncle liked him." She turned to look at him, and Jon caught the tiniest of smiles on her lips - coupled with her warm gaze, it was practically the deepest of kisses. "I am most heartened to see you again, Jon Stark."
He mirrored her expression, voice low. "Likewise, Queen Daenerys. King's Landing was quite tedious without your companionship." Jon looked back ahead. "It shames me for not reciprocating how you welcomed me to Dragonstone."
There was an ever so slight hitch in Daenerys' breath. "Quite a shame, then." Fresh sheets, warm embraces, and dueling passions. A primal part of Jon yearned for it, and from her tone so did Daenerys. "You alluded in your last letter that Stannis wished for you to be the one to father his child's future spouse."
"Aye, he did… I think I'm the only one he trusts to do it."
"Smart of him." Daenerys snorted, voice dropping to a whisper. "Anyone else would've slit his throat in his sleep."
Jon shook his head. "I am loyal to peace between the two of you, and this peace secures victors in both yourself and Stannis."
"I know. You made me see the reason to… many things." Her eyes met his again. "But is it something you want as well, Jon?"
He allowed himself a more open smile. "Aye." And once it is agreed to, nothing will keep me from your bed.
His words and hidden meaning were understood, Daenerys gazing at him with… adoration. "I desire it as well." They both looked ahead, satisfied smiles on their lips. "So… how will this occur?"
"Stannis will meet you in the Dragonpit with his chief advisors, and you will discuss the clauses of the treaty directly."
"Just a formality… mayhaps some superficial changes, but he wishes that he hear the clauses from you and gain your direct agreement."
"Understood, and no objections from me." She looked at him earnestly. "I want my birthright but I am tired of war, Jon. If he keeps up his word then so will I."
"All I want to hear." So caught up with each other's presence, neither of them noticed a pair of eyes glaring daggers at their backs, mind swirling with anticipation at what was to occur.
Someone did, however.