Notes in Part I.
you're going to tremble
“What is it you would like most in the world?” Daenerys was fairly certain she would not be able to abide by whatever flight of fantasy Doreah concocted in response, but it would give her a better understanding. Instead of a wild idea springing forth, her handmaiden appeared to thoughtfully consider the question.
“I would like to be free.”
The answer was not what Dany had been looking for and the repetition of Doreah on this theme frustrated her. If anything, it seemed too easy, particularly because it already was true. “You are. I have sworn that to you. You are free to leave as you wish, and if you stay, I will never again ask you to lay with a man for any purpose.” She paused and shifted uncomfortably under Doreah’s blank recognition. “You know this. What else?”
The khaleesi followed Doreah’s darting gaze around the room to the pens holding her dear dragons. “No dragons,” she said quickly before Doreah could ask and was met with a laugh and nod from the brunette.
“Yes. Anything,” she repeated, and adding for good measure with a small smile, “Other than a dragon.”
Moving slightly closer, Doreah stared hard into periwinkle eyes. She obviously had thoughts twirling all around her head yet was keeping them quiet. It made Dany nervous, but the way she was looking at her shifted those nerves into something else. Something crackling and it left her a little bit breathless. Suddenly Doreah broke the moment, shook her head and frowned.
“What is all this for, Khaleesi?” It felt similar to a trap. The confusion about Dany’s motivation added to the uncertainty.
The words appeared to strike hard at the brunette. They had been so unexpected. Her eyes went wide momentarily, before her forehead furrowed further at the idea. “I don’t understand…”
Dany still refused to divulge her true reasons, only her intentions. She could not tell Doreah about her dream of a childhood she had never known, a happiness never experienced except in sleep by her side. “You do not need to. You and I are not so different, Doreah. Now please, what would make you happy?”
Still, the handmaiden resisted. Her suspicions were unwarranted but they were also inevitably ingrained from years of mistrust and abuse in Lys. It had been a lost childhood just the same. When no answer was forthcoming, Dany sighed.
She too had known nothing of love. She had experienced only fleeting kindness that had been stolen from her, leaving in its wake only the image of a red door and a brother obsessed with vengeance to compensate for the helplessness and rage he felt inside, his fists and words striking at the only thing he could control. Sold to a man she did not even know in exchange for more promise of bloodshed, her last remaining family betrayed what little trust she had built. Then she had been fucked, unwillingly and savagely, before she had ever even experienced her first kiss from a boy. But somewhere in that horrid mess sprung a new love, one that had only been made possible through chance and Doreah’s guidance and likely would not have blossomed otherwise, ignited the smoldering embers of something she had considered long lost. Not merely sexual, it had been about freedom too. No longer would she bend to the will of her brother nor the lack of self-confidence. Her sun and stars, her Khal gave her strength beyond her dreams as he fed her sweet drops of power and respect. She lapped hungrily at the choices suddenly open to her. With Viserys’ death, she was set free. There had been great suffering in order to receive it but it nonetheless became truth.
She and Doreah had both been captives, now both were free women. It struck her suddenly how intertwined those fates had been. Taking a seat on the edge of the bed, Dany gingerly touched her hair where braids had once been. She had victories too. Not in war, no, but for herself. Doreah’s footsteps padded closer as she followed her khaleesi across the room.
“I can only think of one thing that you have not already given me,” the brunette said softly, finally succumbing to the request.
“And that is?”
Doreah smirked. “It is not something one should ask of their queen.”
“Then do not think of me in such a way. I am your friend and you are mine.” Her impatience was getting the better of her now and Doreah’s talking around the issue was tiresome. Dany reckoned this was the price to pay for having clever handmaidens.
Letting a long breath out, Doreah steeled her nerves. “Khal—.”
Daenerys shifted slightly, uncertain if this was the best move. “Try again, my friend. My name is yours to speak.”
Flustered, Doreah silently rolled it around on her tongue. It was strange, far too personal, yet achingly sweet. She had never heard anyone call the khaleesi by such an intimately familiar name. Even her full name was rare, as her title was what was important. It was what identified her. It could even have been a odd trick. The sharing of something deeply personal would prompt reciprocity of the same, and Dany would finally be able to lay to rest her debt. Tilting her head to the side, Doreah tested the word on her lips. “Dany.”
Daenerys merely smiled at the sound with a silent indication to continue. However, even the intimacy of the name could not loosen Doreah’s tongue immediately. Even though she and Dany had often spent nights alone in the khalasar just talking with each other like close friends, it had always been a struggle to admit the parts of her past that had torn at her heart. This was no different. But she preserved, almost spellbound by the magic of being granted the ability to talk freely. “When I was 16, I fell in love with a boy,” she began hesitantly. “He was the son of a butcher in the market where I would occasionally accompany the other courtesans to buy wine for the men in the pillow house.” Doreah paused, gathering together the shreds of memory. “He knew what I was. Of course, he did. It was obvious. But he never looked at me as everyone else had and soon going to market was something I did with great enthusiasm. Each time, he would be there and we would talk more often and I would sneak off from the other ladies in order to spend time with someone who actually appeared to like me for me, someone who saw me as more than just a whore.”
Doreah looked down and touched the bandages on her arm, folding and twisting the loose ends absently. “He was the only boy I ever kissed purely by my own choice. And that is all it ever was. His father witnessed it, shamed me publicly in front of everyone, including his son. And I never saw him again.” She had never been able to hold onto to anything for very long; that was the life of a slave.
A gentle quiet fell across the girls. The dragons were twittering and clucking softly amongst each other in their cages and the birds outside had mostly taken their leave for the day. Distant sounds of people in the streets occasionally bounced off the stone, but otherwise, there was silence.
“You want me to find him for you?” Dany asked, quite sure that it would be an impossible task at this stage. Lys was miles in the opposite direction.
Doreah let out a soft chuckle and shook her head, a small smile sneaking over her lips. “No, the only thing I wish is to kiss someone else by choice. That is all.”
The request was so chaste and small that it made Daenerys feel guilty. Here she was commanding blood-thirsty armies, raising fire-breathing dragons and going after an iron throne, and next to her was a girl whose most pressing wish was just to be kissed without pretense. She did not like how barbaric she suddenly felt in Doreah’s presence, the same girl who was meant to be the more worldly, cunning and sensual one of them both. Doreah was the one who had pleasured multiple men and women at once, who artfully taught her the ways to make love to a man, who had seen and done things Dany could not even fathom, and yet she sat here requesting no more than a kiss. It reminded Daenerys at once of the kisses she had never received until being stripped brutishly of her youth as well.
“How can I—,” she stared before being cut off by the other girl.
“I want it to be with you.” There was Doreah’s brazen confidence again. It was pleasing to have it return. “But it must be your choice as well.”
If she had blinked, it would have been entirely probable that she would have missed the almost imperceptible nod of acceptance or the way Dany’s eyes took on a slightly anxious sheen. It was not a warning sign. No, it reminded Doreah very much of that time in the khal’s tent as she instructed Dany in the ways of love. The look was a bit scared yes, but in an anticipatory way, more due to the fact that it was unfamiliar rather than unwanted. Looking doe-eyed into a new world was not normally a benefit afforded to grown women, but as they had both lost a significant part of their pasts, it would have to come sometime.
Kissing Daenerys Targaryen was unlike that boy in the market, and certainly nothing like anyone else she had been required to please. Young boys were awkward and inexperienced in some way, even the best of them. They were wetter, harder, more insistent from the start. That was not a particularly bad thing especially when done in love, but it was different. Older men were selfish and pushy, if only to get their moneys worth. Unlike either option, Dany was meek at first, tentative, the vestiges of her youth flaring up again, but Doreah soon felt more pressure, fingers coming up to lace in her hair. She felt soft fingertips instead of hard fists and in response, her own hands danced lightly over the curvature of Dany’s waist, hidden underneath layers of fine cloth. Everything about this moment truly betrayed the gentle heart that Daenerys so adamantly insisted did not exist within the confines of her chest.
It had meant to be brief but she became lost somewhere between supple lips and pliant fingers. No man, no matter what the price he paid, had ever kissed her as Dany did. In fact, the more she was paid, the less they cared. It struck Doreah suddenly that Dany did care. She pulled back slowly hoping to gauge some sense of that from her face. The look she saw on the khaleesi’s face was so reminiscent of so many, many months before when they had been alone together, the only time their mouths had been as close as now. Doreah titled her head to the side as a grateful smile slid over her lips and she ran a light hand through Dany’s hair and across her cheek. She was satisfied.
“Thank you, Kh—.”
Her words were silenced by the touch of Dany against her again, a bit harder this time but much more brief. When Daenerys broke the second kiss, she breathed in deeply, stealing Doreah’s breath. “Dany,” she reminded the handmaiden insistently before diving over to kiss her once more.
This had not been part of Doreah’s request and she was taken aback momentarily by the urgency in Dany’s body. They had both been alone for so long and she knew well that everyone had urges, especially girls shifting well into the peak of their womanhood and especially when they had been untouched and lonely for so long. That was natural. It was not that which surprised her; it was more so her own reaction. She had become well-accustomed to the foreplay involved in sex, the mechanics of pleasure. She had felt arousal in the past of course; it was not difficult even when it was merely a job. Desire however was a rare emotion. The two were often confused she found, and when love was on the table, it too confounded what was really happening.
Almost as if coming to the same conclusion, Daenerys backed away, the tips of her fingers touching her own lips in wonder. “I apologise,” she whispered. She appeared confused about her own actions.
“Never do that,” Doreah stated matter-of-factly, offering a smile to ease the khaleesi’s obvious discomfort at her own wayward reaction. The curse of fair skin was the ease at which it coloured, especially into shades of crimson. Flushed as she had been from the kiss, Daenerys’ cheeks took on an even deeper pink hue. “If you ever stop trying for what you want, you will no longer be Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons.”
Dany allowed herself a modest smile in response, looking less uncomfortable. It was this innocence, this naivety that many would see as weakness but Doreah saw it more as opportunity. Although she was often overwhelmed and overzealous, it allowed Daenerys to take risks more seasoned warriors, like Ser Jorah, would balk at, and perhaps rightfully so. But more often than not, her methods worked. They were novel, unexpected and full of youthful nerve, as of yet unjaded by the constant ache of defeat. And, more importantly, it was precisely this same hot-headed innocence that allowed her hope to never extinguish.
“Your passion is why I admire you; it is the reason I follow you freely.” She resisted the urge to say more. It would only expose the full extent of her feelings. Like how she was always learning from her, how she was made to feel like a person instead of an object. Like how she always felt a swell of pride when her khaleesi took a stand, showed off her power and her warrior heart – one that Doreah hoped to one day have as well. Or how her heart felt lighter when Dany would do something no other queen or khaleesi would dare to do; like freeing slaves or stopping the rape of innocent women in war. Sometimes just the incendiary timbre of Dany’s voice, so surprisingly strong and sure, infused her not only with hope but also something deeper, and less definable. It was a kind of giddiness surrounded by intense satisfaction. On the fringes lurked something akin to what she believed love may actually feel like, but it was hardly necessary to name it. Only to feel it. These things about Daenerys --these words and deeds-- made her different and made her special. They filled Doreah with the same sort of inspiration. She knew finally that it was not how one begins a journey, but the steps one took during its course.
Shifting closer, Doreah carefully took Dany’s hand in both of her own. Reverently, as she had seen commoners do to high lords and kings, she brought the future queen’s fingers closer and brushed a kiss over them, maintaining eye contact. “As I will always,” she said finally, blinking slowly up at Daenerys.
The blonde said nothing, nodding once very slightly in acknowledgement of the vow as her fingertips slipped free and she traced the pad of her thumb along Doreah’s lower lip, as if touching the promise itself. Her own echo was carried back. Teal blue eyes met and held with her own lavender ones.
“If you choose, Doreah, and only if you choose,” she began as she lowered their joined hands to her lap. “I would welcome you to stay the night with me. Would you?” Although it sounded rather formal, and despite there being little doubt about the response, Dany displayed a shyness in her offer. There was no indication that it would proceed further than one more night but it felt heavy with intent all the same. Moreover, perhaps it was the consequence that gave Dany pause: a promise of a sleep without nightmares, a happiness sowed. It was a debt she would gladly take on again.
Very little could cause the past courtesan to blush, but just the slightest hint of pink shaded in Doreah’s cheeks as she nodded. A chance. A choice. Hers alone. Doreah took a deep breath, recognising finally the luscious flavour of her freedom.
Maybe she wasn’t highborn. Maybe she did not have the blood of dragons. But maybe it did not matter; she felt as if she did all the same.
Her first smile as a free woman stretched across her lips and she nodded.
T H E E N D