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01 June 2012 @ 01:53 am
[fic] AFTERBURN: part ii [dany/doreah]; r  

Notes in Part I.

if i stumble they're going to eat me alive


The contented sounds of whistling dragons filtered in through dreams of fire and platinum blonde hair. Heat seemed to fall in slices across her body as she came into consciousness, squinting at the harsh sunlight coming in streaks through the shades. These were the Khaleesi’s chambers, yet she was in the bed. Alone. Groaning with the effort of raising herself even partially upright, Doreah glanced around briefly, then down at her arms, covered carefully in bandages and poultice. Her bruised jaw felt less swollen and her skin was scrubbed clean. She could remember nothing of how this came to be.

It was then that she caught sight of the khaleesi across the room, playing with Rhaegal as the other two lounged in the sunshine being cast across the table. Her hair was strange, unkempt in some way but her demeanour was relaxed and carefree. Finally she turned towards the bed, a smile spreading across her face at the sight.

“You’re awake.” It was an obvious statement only leaving Doreah to nod in agreement.

Khaleesi, how?” She had far more questions to ask but that seemed the most pressing for the moment. “I should not–.” With a wince, she tossed the blankets back taking quick note of the fine nightdress on her body, and stepped out. Her habits took over and immediately and despite her injuries, she began to adjust the bedclothes.

“Doreah.” The voice was gentle, patient. Even a little bemused. So unlike the previous night.

“Yes, Khaleesi?”

Drogon took the moment to screech loudly in her direction and she involuntarily winced. She was not sure if it was a friendly sound or not, especially after what she had got the dragons into. Daenerys scowled momentarily at her dragon before refocusing her gaze. “Get back into bed.”

“My quarters are–”

“You have taken no issue with coming into my bed in the past, Doreah.” There was the slightest of smirks across her lips. The words were indirect yet pierced in exactly the right places. She wanted to argue with the implication, to remind the khaleesi that those were different circumstances and the current request was beyond what was considered appropriate for a handmaid. But then perhaps that would be equally inappropriate. And, in all honesty, she doubted many handmaidens would have found the previous requests any more appropriate to have so gleefully accepted. Irri certainly had not when she learnt of Dany’s more controversial requests of Doreah.

The thought of Irri stung. The competition that had existed for Dany’s affections and the resulting tension of quiet conflict was not lost on any of them but the thought of losing what amounted to a friend, as best as she could find anyway, was painful. Suddenly, her head felt heavy and she sat on the edge of the mattress, staring at the floor just beyond her feet.

Lost in thought, she did not realise that she had been absent until a rather large black lizard nipped at her toe. It was Drogon and he croaked in protest at her when she jerked her foot away from him. She was still not certain what he wanted and as she tentatively placed her foot closer to him, she was surprised to hear him chirp softly and begin to climb her bare leg as she had seen the dragons do so often to the Khaleesi. When he reached her lap, he settled and made a feeble screech towards his mother.

“He still loves you,” Daenerys said, a small smile playing on her lips. “If you had wished them harm, or treated them poorly, you would no longer have any toes, of that I am sure.” Her voice was severe yet warm. She had accepted the apology that Doreah had tried and failed to get out previously.

She wanted to try once more, but looking at Daenerys made it clear that it would be unnecessary. “I trust you have reasoned that I meant no harm then, Khaleesi? That I tried to protect them?”

The light on Daenerys’ face fell slightly. “I understand a little. Not everything.” She sighed and stroked a tender hand over Viserion. “In time. Right now, you should rest and get well. Qarth is in disarray and I will need you by my side again.”

“Of course.” The request to resume her duties as Daenerys’ handmaiden was easy to agree to. The actual action of crawling back into her bed was quite another. It was awkward. Not only was the mattress itself far more pillowy than she was accustomed, but the idea that it was not meant for her made Doreah constantly question the idea. Should she insist on heading back to the servant’s quarters? She adjusted and readjusted the blankets and pillows, her forearms spiking with pain each time they rubbed too hard against the heavy bedclothes. Her body itself would not relax, twisting and turning as best she could in her tender state. To top it all off, she could feel Dany’s eyes on her the entire time. She willed herself to hold still and feign sleep.

Sometime between lying perfectly still and pretending to sleep, she had actually fallen into a deep, dreamless slumber. Waking many hours later, she heard the night bugs twittering in the garden nearby and when she opened her eyes, everything almost looked as if it was shimmering under the silvery light of the moon. As she contemplated whether or not it was just the cool breeze stirring the curtains or something more foreboding, she felt the bed shift of its own accord. It only took a moment for her to realise that Daenerys was asleep beside her. The knowledge made her uneasy, despite how comfortable it actually felt to be close to someone, especially someone who was not trying to shove his cock into any number of orifices where it was not welcome. As she gently tried to slip from under the thin blanket, she noticed the painful ache of her wounded arms was significantly less. Squinting down, she saw fresh bandages and sighed. She really had to stop being such a deep sleeper.

                  The pause to look over the handiwork on her arm had afforded the girl beside her chance to stir and then reach out. “Stay, Doreah.”

Jumping slightly at the unexpected sound, the handmaiden looked down to see Daenerys with her eyes closed, already drifting back to sleep. Even so, there were warm fingers gripping tightly at the loose fabric of her borrowed nightgown as if it was a treasured childhood toy -- or a fleeting hope. This had never been a scene she’d been able to witness. The khaleesi, innocent and unaware, likely lost in a world where dragons clouded out the sun and all the people of Westeros knelt at her feet. Or perhaps her dreams were more simplistic, because as Doreah peered down, she did not see a warrior queen at all. Barely even a princess. She only saw a young girl, naïve and alone. There was no mark of bloodshed and war, no broken heart, no fear. It struck Doreah as suddenly quite mad that this person would command mighty dragons and sit on a throne surrounded by the skulls of her enemies, obtained with fire and blood.

Sometimes, in the light of day and Daenerys’ blustering passion, it was easy to forget that she was still just an 18-year-old girl, looking barely more than a child at times even though she had experienced so much more. The moon itself seemed to honour her, bathing her fair skin in soft light, making it almost glisten. She had often heard Khal Drogo refer to the khaleesi as the moon of his life. She certainly saw now how such a comparison could be made.

It also left very little doubt in her mind that dragons indeed came from a shattered moon.

Inching back under the blanket, she lay her head on the down pillow and let the warmth of the fire-blooded girl beside her ease her back into dreamland. Daenerys never loosened her hold.

= } =

The quiet stillness of night dissolved quickly as the sun rose and birds of all sorts began to praise its return once again. Not soon after, the house and city itself was suddenly a flurry of noise and activity, including the furious footsteps of servants. It had been weeks and Daenerys still had not quite grown accustomed to the hustle of a city. The khalasar was equally busy, true, but it seemed but organic, in tune with the ebb and flow of time passing. Here in Qarth the moment the first pink glow rose in the east, life exploded forth. Doreah was still sleeping soundly by some odd miracle despite the busy comings and goings of house staff in the room. Dany knew that any moment Ser Jorah would be arriving, no doubt with news of a potential ship’s captain for immediate hire or awaiting her next plan – to shoot it down as he was so prone to do.

She rose abruptly, surprised at how incredibly well-rested she finally felt. The previous night had not chosen to plague her with visions of blood and death. In fact, the vague recollections she had were of childhood memories, or more precisely, fantasies of a childhood that she had never had. Hers had been stolen but for one night, she had lived what she had longed for. There were smiles and parents she did not know but nonetheless loved; her brothers were alight with peace. She can recall the touch of her mother’s hand over hers. There was comfort and a sense of protection that had been absent, and she never had to run. The fear never existed. Then there had been the red door. The red door was always in dreams, but finally it was no longer a reminder of what had not been, but a symbol of what had. Her own history had rewritten itself in dreams and she had woken feeling happiness, in its most pure essence. Doreah lay unaware of the gift she had given.

As she whispered tenderly to her dragons, they rustled around peeping and whistling in response, scratching at the confines of their nests for food. Daenerys obliged readily and was happy for the distraction from thinking about a debt she had no idea how to repay. Drogon shrieked out impatiently as his brother was fed first rolling over on Dany’s lap in satiated pleasure. The sound roused Doreah and Dany glanced over somewhat nervously before returning her attention to easing Rhaegal back into his cage. She could hear tentative steps across the floor. Busying herself with feeding Drogon was the simple task. Ignoring Doreah was much more difficult.

When Drogon chattered at the familiar face and then twisted his lithe body around to steal a piece of meat from between Doreah’s fingers, Daenerys eventually had to face the gaze of her handmaid. This was a new sensation and she could not quite form an idea of what it meant. Doreah’s eyes were wide and reflecting greens and blues in the morning light, strikingly clear. That is, until her stare drifted across Dany’s shoulders.

Khaleesi, your hair!” Her voice sounded quite concerned as she hastily reached out and let the uneven strands of severed hair fall through her fingers. Dany flinched away from the touch, feeling suddenly that the familiarity of her handmaiden was becoming a discomfort. The other girl must have received the message because she stepped back somewhat briskly but her face showed no less distress. Daenerys turned away from the imploring stare and focused on wrangling her unruly dragon back into his cage. Despite her best efforts to slow the process, the action had not taken the entire day and Doreah was still standing there, awaiting an explanation.

“I cut my braids the night we found you,” she finally managed to admit, flippantly trying to pass it off as inconsequential but failing. It seemed impetuous and excessive now in retrospect and she feared reprisal for her emotional reaction. Of course, she had forgotten that Doreah very rarely passed undue judgement on anyone, especially not her own khaleesi. She was not disappointed in her assessment, as Doreah said nothing, moving in silence to twist straying strands together between her fingers thoughtfully.

“I can fix it,” Doreah muttered quietly, almost reverently, seeming to take in the meaning without the need for explanation. She said nothing more, rapt in the action and considering her options as she idly stroked over the frayed ends.

Daenerys nodded, breaking the contact momentarily as she moved to take a seat and let Doreah work.

= } =

The swamphens and warblers were both in full song as the mid-morning light made it’s way across the sky. As Doreah finished, an uncomfortable anxiety settled back into Daenerys’ stomach. The brief interlude of silence had eroded any ill thoughts she had been having and the feelings of warmth from her previous night’s sleep had begun to soak into her skin once again. But with the end of task, Dany was reminded that even if it was only in her own mind, she owed a debt to Doreah now. It was ridiculous for a khaleesi to owe anything to anyone, certainly not her help. For a queen, it was even less likely. But then she was also certain that it was equally ridiculous for a khaleesi to be pinned, virtually helpless to the bed for lesson on sex from her servant. Her cheeks flushed of their own will at the impromptu memory. Any way she looked at it, she was not an ordinary queen.

Her stare fell upon her servant girl who was now adjusting her own bandages. The wounds had not been as bad as they had looked under the chilly veil of night and the Qarth ladies had offered some remarkable medicines to ease Doreah’s recovery. The treatment seemed to be working quite well. A dog bite was often fatal primarily because they had a tendency to go for the throat. Doreah had been lucky whatever dog she had met lacked the instincts of its breed. Tearing at the flesh of her arms had been painful, but much less severe than it could have been had it gone for softer tissues. Yet, she was not fully healed and there was still so much to be done in Qarth before they could leave. It had not come as a surprise when Ser Jorah arrived, staying only briefly before insisting that he must go find a ship. The khaleesi made no complaint with the plan. It was for the best. She watched as Doreah winced as she pulled the scrap of fabric tighter around her forearm, twisting it into a knot securely. Her thoughts meandered back to that night.

“There was a great deal of blood. I was concerned,” Daenerys said quietly. “The women cleaned you as best they could.”

“And I will thank them for it.”

The air became tense with unspoken questions and the silence seemed to make it drag on twice as long. “The blood…” The voice of her lady came out uncertainly, wavering slightly on the words she failed to express.

“It was a wild dog.”


“The other blood…”

Doreah recalled the struggling, the ripping, the burning. It should not have been so messy. After all, she had taken larger before. Yet the circumstances were altogether different. She had not been ready, not even afforded the benefit of spittle. It was so much like her first time. And now, there was an ache still present there. Bruising, perhaps. But of course, that was not entirely unfamiliar.

“Xaro Xhoan Daxos is a large, indelicate man, Khaleesi.” She could not look Daenerys in the eyes any longer and all the better since the khaleesi took on a sickly pallor at the vile admission.

“Was.” Her voice shook slightly, but it was certain. Eventually Doreah looked up, surprised to see unshed tears in Dany’s eyes. “I have never been so glad to have had a man killed before now.”

It was Doreah’s turn to feel tears welling up. She held them back but not her tentative astonishment, her hopeful jubilation. “He's dead?”

The blonde frowned hard and stared toward the garden beyond. “Yes, I trust he is.” She was still uncertain but either way, dead or exiled, he was of no consequence anymore. He would die in the Garden of Bones if he had not perished in the fire already. Her guilt bubbled away deeper still. If she had not asked Doreah to lay with the men of Qarth, perhaps none of that would have happened.

“Thank you, Khaleesi.” Her head was bowed.

Daenerys was taken aback at how small Doreah’s voice had become. She had always been sure of herself, of her powers, of her experience. At least that is how Dany had seen her. Even when pleading for her life, she had fire in her. It had been one of the reasons Dany had kept her closer than the other handmaidens. Perhaps it was due to her past, but she realised that she had been often blinded to the fact that just because a girl worked as a courtesan did not mean that she could not be devastated just the same as other women. Just the same as she herself had been.

If Xaro was indeed alive by some miracle and she ever heard of his name again, she would be certain to let Drogon at him. Burn him alive and feast on his sizzling flesh.

They did not talk anymore on the subject, allowing the day to pass with necessary tasks until dusk settled into the room and the nightbugs sang to the waxing moon. Scared of the meaning behind such a good night’s rest the night prior, and moreso the extent of the debt owed, Daenerys did not argue when Doreah took her leave that evening. Despite how she longed for the company, she could not risk what it meant to desire it so badly.

Under the shadow of navy sky and the jewelled belt of the stars above, the nightmares returned.


A blue-billed parakeet cawed loudly at her windowsill the next afternoon, and Viserion answered back with what only could amount to annoyance. If they were speaking to each other, it was unclear but the dragons were not as happy as they had been the day before. Doreah attempted to spoil them with scraps of expensive mutton she had procured at the market that morning but it was almost pointless as the squabbling amongst each other and at the noisy, unwelcome bird was making everyone restless.

Dany let out a long sigh as she brushed back her blonde fringe. “They did not sleep soundly,” she informed her handmaiden as Doreah gave up her attempts to soothe the irate lizards. Instead she took a broom and swatted at the avian visitor. It again screeched loudly at her, or the dragons, it was hard to distinguish. Eventually after a few sweeps, the parrot flew off allowing some peace and quiet, at least for the moment.

There were still questions hanging over them both and a feeling that even now, not all was put right. In a bid to distract herself, Doreah appeared to immerse herself in the care of the dragons, arranging and rearranging their nests, toasting lamb over a hot candle, or singing quietly the words of lullabies Dany had never been lucky enough to hear.

Eventually, it had to break. As she walked by, pretending to be busy, Daenerys reached out quickly and grabbed ahold of Doreah’s wrist, pulling her to a standstill. They said nothing to each other for what felt like ages. Not until Dany pulled her down to sit alongside her on the bed. A question that had plagued her since Doreah had first hinted at her preoccupation with the winged animals finally broke free.

“Why is it that you love my dragons so?”

A long period of silence passed as Doreah considered the question. It had been something she had asked herself many times after being woken from dreams of dragons and fire. It was also a fascination no one in Lys had ever bothered to inquire about, even when Yvessa found her scribbling disproportioned winged-beasts in the prized books of the lord of the house. A beating had sufficed instead. Since then she had slowly come to realise precisely why she was enamored to such a degree. It was simple. “They are free.”

The blonde smirked at the reasoning. “That is all?”

“You ask me that as if freedom is something common as dirt, Khaleesi.” Even now, something as simple as freedom was hard to come by, especially when a girl is sold to a pillow house at nine years of age. Doreah could not shake the minor irritation she felt from Dany’s bemusement. “It is so much more rare, and far more precious. And, at its best, it is the very essence of power. Dragons are that in real form.” Her smile lit up with the thought.

Dany laughed lightly. “Really, Doreah. Where do you come up with these ideas?” She had always enjoyed Doreah’s tendency to wander off into strange worlds of imagination and philosophical meanderings but sometimes she did not understand. “Freedom is everywhere. You just need to take it.”

“That is easy for you to say. You have the blood of dragons.” She had not meant for her voice to ring so sharply, nor for her to overstep the tenuous boundaries that had been established. Daenerys recognised this as well and bristled in response. Yet she said nothing.

The truth was that the word “free city” was a misnomer in many ways. Free from an established king it may be, but Lys was not free at its core. Slaves were just as common as anywhere else, and prostitutes had very little sway above that of a slave, especially in a city practically over-run with pleasure houses. They were almost an expendable commodity – unless a women was exceptionally talented and beautiful, and for Doreah she had been lucky in that regard. She knew what weapon she possessed, and she brandished it skillfully without remorse but even that could only get her as far as a man was willing to allow. For those souls who had not inherited the spirit of free dragons, the bondage was inescapable. Perhaps that is where her admiration had begun. Doreah had watched carefully as Daenerys grew into her title, into her own power. It had been gradual at first but with birth of the dragons, their very life infused hers with both fervor and direction. What had been perhaps a pipe dream of ruling Westeros became a growing reality. How could anyone doubt that dragons did represent strength? And Daenerys herself personified that to Doreah. She was undoubtably taken with her, her admiration only overshadowed by her affection.

Part of her wished to be Daenerys. To have that freedom and unbridled raw strength growing inside every waking day would have meant certain escape from the bondage of her life in Lys. She watched with keen interest everything that her khaleesi did, because if she could learn even just a little, it may be enough. Choosing to stay by her side had been the first step and she did not regret it. Not even now.

Finally, Daenerys broke the silence. “You do not need dragons to have strength. Many men have never even seen one and yet they are very powerful. Doreah, you have it too. Strength and freedom. I have seen it. You proved it to me by protecting them,” she said simply and gestured toward Drogon. It was true, it appeared to have taken much will and courage.

The handmaid could not withhold her response. “It's all false. Not much more than a mask.” Her tone was almost cross, tired and perhaps defeated.

“What is it exactly that is bothering you so?” Dany was not without insight. She sensed that something remained unsaid. It would be a gamble to be honest but Doreah could see no other way out. The slight irritation that was beginning to pique the blonde’s normally composed casual disposition was causing friction and her own resentment was starting to crawl through every pore despite her best attempts to retain it.

It had to be said. Dany had once told her that dragons were never afraid. If she was going to start anywhere, it may as well be here.

Khaleesi…” She second-guessed herself momentarily before plunging in. “You gave me my freedom, then took it away.”

The involuntary bluster of self-defense took hold immediately as a severe frown crossed Dany’s lips, her jaw setting hard against the assault. She no doubt could feel the sharp accusation like a knife and steeled herself appropriately. “That is not true!”

The khaleesi’s voice took on the distinct timbre of a petulant child caught out in a lie, and Doreah was reminded again of how young she really was beneath the bravado of dragon fire and blood.

“On the Red Waste, after Khal Drogo’s death, you set us all free. Until that point, I had been a whore playing at being a handmaiden. Your brother had made that abundantly clear.” She paused, not out of respect for the dead but because the memory of that precise moment always caught her in a wave of powerlessness and shame. It had made her feel worthless, and continued to. All the illusions she had created about her status and skill turned to humiliation, all her fantasies she had entertained about prestige dissolved into black. She had never spoken of it to Daenerys but that did not make it hurt any less. “Then you gave us all the choice –and I had never had a real choice of my own before– and I was able to leave that behind. I chose a new purpose. No more strange men every night. No longer did I have to convince myself that being raped daily --for years on end-- was the occupation I desired, lavish as Lys was. You gave me a life I had only dreamed of, one I never thought I would have. I was free.”

“And so you remain, Doreah.” Dany’s voice was firm, but her eyes reflected a curiousity alongside a sheen of guilt perhaps at the slowly blossoming understanding behind Doreah’s words.

The brunette shook her head against the words from Dany’s lips. “No, Khaleesi. The moment I was told to lie with men for the sake of gathering gossip, I realised that I no longer could claim freedom from that life.”

Dany still fought against the understanding of the idea, more adamantly this time. “You made no complaint,” she returned resolutely, clearly recalling the shared, knowing smiles and easy acquiescence of her request. What Dany had not seen was the strength it took to force those, the habitual delusions that had immediately sprung to mind to conceal her feelings even from herself. She especially failed to realise the fact that had Daenerys wished, Doreah would have let all of Qarth take her without outward complaint, as long as it pleased the Khaleesi.

“Would I refuse the wishes of my Khaleesi?” She glanced at Daenerys eyes for some speck of comprehension. She could tell that the frustration was building with the lack of it. “I did it as your handmaiden, but I was still nothing but a whore. You dressed me in nice gowns and sent me out to be disrobed by men whose names and deeds are meaningless. For your gain, not my own.”

Finally, after a drawn out silence, Dany nodded, her eyes slipping closed. “I didn't realise it was something you would mind.”

Those words cut more deeply than perhaps anything else had thus far and Doreah struggled to keep her voice even as to not betray the pain behind her face. “Because to you, I may be your willing servant, but I am also still the slave you were given; I am still a carnal daughter of Lys.” She knew she was taking a risk talking so freely and honestly about the khaleesi but the devastating feeling that she had never truly left the pleasure house loosened her tongue and lowered her inhibitions. She had always been granted slightly more leniency than the other handmaidens.

Daenerys seemed to have no rebuke. She swallowed the charge yet refused to meet Doreah’s gaze. When no response came, Doreah rose slowly, prepared to take her leave. It would be a welcome reprieve. Dany finally tilted her face up to study the girl before her curiously. The words had obviously been understood now and Doreah wanted to interpret the silence as an apology since she knew one would never be forthcoming. It was not the way. An apology to a servant simply never happened. Unfortunately, the dream was broken as Daenerys did not allow her to flee.

“What of it then when you provide me with the same service? Is that an insult to your honour as well?” The tone was harsh, sarcastic almost; the recrimination clear. She was attempting to call her bluff, or perhaps some species of hypocrisy. It was already out of line to have called Dany out so she stopped, turned and bowed apologetically.

“No. Quite the opposite, Khaleesi.”

“Doreah! Just – just stop,” she bellowed exasperated, and the sudden sound shocked Doreah into stillness. “Speak honestly. Speak to me as my friend, not as my servant. Your anger, your pain. Is that why you stole my dragons?”

The notion that it had all been motivated by vengeance had not occurred to the handmaiden. Not consciously, at least. It had some potential for truth in the ugliest sort of repressed way. If she felt truthful, it was not outside the realm of possibility, as some unbidden, unrecognized revenge for the disgrace and injury she had felt. The long period of quiet that followed the question was enough to realise that it was being considered. Doreah could do nothing but bite down on her lower lip and wince. She did not feel able to assuredly deny the suggestion not accept it. “That was never my intention. If it was, I was not aware and did not mean it to be.”

Dany’s lips creased closed in an unhappy line, anger slowly burning beneath her fair skin. “You endangered my dragons for the sake of your pride?”

Despite her namesake, Daenerys Stormborn was sunshine personified, capable of lighting up a dark room when she shone, warming a hopeless heart with her determination, or flashing a blinding glare across the eyes of foolish men who dared cross her. But even more so, she burned. Hotter than any star, her heat scalded the unwary and boiled the unkind. The sunlight could give life or it could take it away. It was all about intensity.

Doreah considered this knowledge to be invaluable for many people underestimated the mother of dragons. But she also knew the one thing perhaps only one other person ever experienced: the flame of intimate passion within Daenerys. It was mostly hidden, tended to only in secrecy and only with her now. In the night’s cloak when the world around them cooled, Doreah was certain the moon reflected Dany’s light, not the other way around. At times like those, desire was the only spark needed.

However, the night was not offering refuge from the heat of day at the moment. There was no balance, and such a spark could easily be found in anger and quickly burn out of control. Hot temper came from hot blood. She had no response that would please the khaleesi, especially since she was not entirely aware of her own feelings on the matter. It had not been pride per se, but something else. Pride was superficial, a clever disguise for other secret inadequacies. Her feeling that day --whatever it had been-- had ached much deeper in her soul than pride could ever dare reach.

The conversation disintegrated substantially in a few short seconds and Doreah knew there was nothing more to say that could reverse the downward direction. She shook her head silently against the accusation and lowered herself to a kneel, head bowed in submission, shadowing her self from the sun. It appeared to appease Daenerys as she did not repeat the question, did not demand an answer and the silence granted a sort of reprieve. In fact, she did not utter a word before rising from her place on the bed and walking quietly to Doreah who was surprised to feel a warm hand be laid on her head. “I never considered any alternates and that was my mistake, just as it is to snap at your with false accusations of motivation.” Doreah remained frozen and afraid to make any move. “You are all I have left.” Her princess’ voice was weak and full of sorrow. There was much Doreah could say to argue, especially reminding her of Ser Jorah and the dragons but it would not be necessary. “Rise.”

Doing as she was told, the Lysene girl stood upright, face to face but hurriedly trying to quell the nerves in her stomach. There was something in the other girl’s eyes that belayed a barely restrained threat. But it was not of the destructive kind, just a dare for truth.

Dany tilted her head to the side. “Tell me, Doreah, when you come to my bed, would you do it if I was not your Khaleesi?”

The question was remarkably dangerous both in its naïvety and its answer. It was the true test. Without titles and power, without duty or responsibility, would it be the same? Would she still lavish her attention so eagerly, so desiring to please? It had been only three times, and whether the request had been borne from loneliness or frustration, it had not mattered to Doreah. It was not like the pleasure houses even if she received absolutely nothing in return. Dany had not offered any kisses or soft touches. Not even a word of thanks. She had only given restrained cries of relief as she had gripped Doreah’s hair in her fists and lurched her hips up for release. But none of that had mattered strangely enough and did not make Doreah feel like she had for most of her life. Instead, it had made her happy. That was precisely what made it far too risky.

Yet, Doreah’s answer came swift and sure. “Yes.” She did not expound on her answer. The single syllable said enough on its own. A declaration of love comes in many forms, and some of which cannot be said outright but are understood all the same.



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