netgirl_y2k: (fire cannot kill a dragon)
[personal profile] netgirl_y2k
If nothing else, I'm now catching all the typos I missed the seventeen times I read this before posting.

*Pre-vandalised version here

They Will Crown You, They Will Take Your Legs
Game of Thrones; Dany/Doreah; PG-13


So, this takes off right from the end of series two. And Dany's stuff in series two is a bit weird. I mean, it's partly because Dany had a nice little self-contained arc in series one. Okay, it's the old female character gains strength through adversity (sexual assault, dead husband and son) chestnut, but it's well done, and there are some wee baby dragons at the end of it, and then her story sort of flounders for four books while we wait for GRRM to get to the point where she's supposed to arrive in Westeros.

And in the book CoK Dany just sort of potters about Qarth until the House of the Undying, which was never going to translate well to the show, partly because I'm not sure how much the show wants to get bogged down in this prophecy malarky, and partly because, well, Blackwater. Now I fucking loved Blackwater, but it was pretty obvious that nothing else that year was getting a CGI budget.

So the show changed things up to make it seem like Dany had more of a, you know, storyline. And some of the things they did made narrative sense, like making Xaro's proposal of marriage seem more worthy of serious consideration, even if it did erase one of the few canon gay characters from the books. But, then, the show did make Renly/Loras more than a wink and a nod, so...

Where was I? Oh, yes. None of the attempts to engineer Dany a plotline out of not much were particularly sucessful, but some were utterly nonsensical.


When the vault door opened Xaro fell to his knees. "Oh, thank the Gods. Thank the Gods."

"Not you, king of Qarth," said Ser Jorah, the point of his sword against Xaro's throat. "Only her."

Thank the Gods, thought Doreah.

There were a couple of problems with the Doreah betraying Dany plot twist. 1) the pacing was fucked, in one episode they were feeding the baby dragons and grinning happily (and flirtatiously, if you saw things that way, which I did) at each other, the next time we saw Doreah she was in bed with the guy who had stolen Dany's dragons, and Dany was throwing her into a vault to slowly suffocate to death. It was too sudden, and 2) I think Dany & Doreah were one of the few examples of women being friends. I'm hesitant to trash the show too much for this, as the books aren't exactly a cornucopia of positive lady friendships, and the best one - Sansa & Shae, which is genius - is a show only creation.

I don't know, sometimes I think I defend GoT too much. I mean, people criticise it on feminist and race grounds, and they have many good points, that they articulate well. But the thing with engaging critically with media, is that it's important and willful blindness will improve nothing, but sometimes for the sake of your enjoyment and sanity you have to go, I see your point, I understand and sympathise with it, but in this instance, for me, I just want to roll around in the CGI dragons.

There's also the personal fannish history thing; my last main fandom was Merlin, which I was in longer than any sane person ought to have been, and compared to Merlin Game of Thrones comes off well, it's practically the fucking feminist utopia.


*

The khalasar had made camp outside the walls of Qarth, close enough to bring food and water from the city, but far enough away to be a distinct entity.

Doreah walked behind Jorah's horse. She was still wearing the bedrobe she'd been thrown into the vault in, and she was sure her bare feet were going to be bloody and torn by the time they reached the camp.

She recognised what they were doing. They'd had penitent's walks in Lys, too.


I snerched the idea of the penitent's walk from Cersei's chapters in Dance with Dragons, which has nothing to do with anything, except that it reminded me about one of my current tagging pet peeves, which is people who tag obvious bookverse fic both A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones on AO3. I don't know why, but people don't seem to be so guilty of doing it the other way around.

Maybe in series one, when apart of some character ages series one and book one were pretty interchangeable, but now it just seems like fishing for hits.

Of course, even if you're writing pure showverse fic you should call Yara Greyjoy Asha, because that's her fucking name...

But, yeah, that's my current tagging pet peeve, only surpassed, by God, by my longing for the ability to distinguish between main characters and secondary/tertiary ones by tag. For Christmas? If I'm a good wee AO3 user?


Doreah had been a slave since her childhood, she had begged and pleaded and fucked for her life more than once, and she knew how to dance this dance.

I actually do like that line. Partly because I think it's a good line, and partly because there's a reoccurring theme in this about Doreah having been a slave all her life, and how she sees everything through that prism. And how Dany, even though she was sold to Drogo, her experience was ultimately empowering for her, she can't really relate to Doreah as much as she thinks she can.

Jorah left her in the khaleesi's tent with a gruff but not unkind, "wait here."

In pride of place were the boxes where the dragons slept. Doreah crept over and peeked inside, she should like to see the little creatures once again.

Ah, yes, the boxes of we-can't-afford-to-have-cgi-dragons-in-every-bloody-episode-do-you-think-we're-made-of-money? I remember them fondly.

"They are not in there," said Daenerys, the khaleesi had entered the tent with a dragon on each shoulder and one in her arms. "Do you really think I would trust you with my children now?"

Doreah sank to her knees as one of the dragons gave a roar. "Khaleesi, please..."

"Oh, get up. I did not have you brought here to grovel."

Doreah scrambled to her feet, but kept her eyes averted. "Then why...?"

"To explain yourself. I want to know why, Doreah. I thought you-- I am your khaleesi, why would you betray me like this?"

I know that there were scenes filmed for this storyline that never made it into the show. I don't know, maybe they had an important brothel scene that they absolutely couldn't cut or something. I mean, I've seen the stills from the cut scene of Doreah murdering Irri (although in the context of this fic that didn't happen, partly because I hadn't seen them then, and partly because, just no!) and maybe if we'd seen that Dany's merciless treatment of Doreah would have made more sense.

As it was, given that there had been no hints that Doreah was planning to betray Dany, and given that the last time Doreah had been mentioned it had been when Dany was on the verge of tears with worry about how she was missing...

It's just-- say you find your missing friend and handmaiden in bed with a man you know has set you up, do you assume she was complicit and have her immediately put to death, or do you, especially if you've got Dany's history, consider the possibility that she was forced and give her a chance to explain herself?

Like I said, it would be different if the viewer (not even necessarily Dany) were sure of her guilt, but as it was it made Dany look as mad as Viserys, which might have been cool had that been the intent.

I've always been a fan of the interpretation of Dany's character that says that, yes, some Targaryens are great, some are mad, and Dany is both. But it was framed as this moment of crowning awesome, and it just didn't work.

Hence, fix it fic.


Why? Doreah blinked in confusion, wasn't it obvious? When a slave's owner died, the slave must find a new owner or perish too.

"I had no choice, Khaleesi."

"No choice?" the dragons had picked up on the anger in Daenerys' voice and added their own growls to it. "You had no choice but to sell my dragons to Xaro Xhoan Daxos?"

"Khaleesi, no! I--" Doreah struggled over the words. "Xaro's men killed all the warriors, they took your dragons. He said you were alone, unprotected and surrounded by enemies. He said you were as good as dead. It was either go to his bed willingly or be taken by force."

Which was genuinely what I thought was going on when Dany found Doreah with Xaro, and I don't think it was me not paying attention or being blinded by my shipping preferences, as much as it was a badly framed scene and a problem with the plot.

"You should have believed in me," Daenerys' voice was still hard but it had lost a little of its edge. "You were mine. I would have come for you, I would have saved you."

"As you saved Irri, you mean?" said Doreah, only realising her mistake when Daenerys' palm cracked across her cheek, and the dragon displaced by the slap beat his wings against her face.

Irri gets a few mentions throughout this fic. I didn't like her death anyway, I did hear that it was something to do with the actress having visa problems, but still-- Anyway I was trying to get across that Dany (and Doreah, because that cut scene didn't happen) were palpably grieving for her.

Any of the men from the pleasure house, or Viserys even, they would have wanted Doreah to fall to the ground, to cringe and cry. But Doreah did not know what Daenerys wanted from her, so she stood still and silent until the khaleesi said, "You will not speak her name, do you understand me? You will not speak her name."

Daenerys turned away and called for Ser Jorah. "See that Doreah is guarded whenever she is not in my presence. I will not give her leave to betray me further."

When the khaleesi stalked from the tent one of the dragons, the one with the greenish scales, peeked over her shoulder and gave a plaintive little roar at Doreah.

*

The strange thing was that sometimes Daenerys seemed to be two entirely separate people, and Doreah could not resolve them in her mind.

There was the great khaleesi, the dragon queen of Westeros, who had walked through fire and lived, and who Doreah was completely in awe of, and who she feared almost as much as she lusted for.

Then there was the girl who had lost her husband and son, the girl who'd saved the Lamb women from rape, and who thought the world would bend to her will if only she shouted at it enough. And Doreah had loved that girl, just as she had worried that she was going to get them all killed.

Actually, while I'm thinking about these two sides of Daenerys, I'll talk a little about Emilia Clarke's emmy nomination, and how I was surprised that people were surprised. I mean, I don't disagree that both Michelle Fairley and Lena Headey deserved it more. Michelle Fairley was phenomenal in The Rains of Castamere, but prior to that she'd been sidelined badly since series one. Lena Headey's portrayal of Cersei is one of the best things about the show, but it's all very subtle, and she doesn't have that one scene of crowning awesome that everyone will remember when it comes to vote.

I think Emilia, and she's far from the only one of the younger cast (Exhibit A: Kit Harrington, oh Kitten) is better when the writing for her character is better. And I also think that she was nominated on the sheer strength of the Fall of Astapor scene, which is to take nothing away from her, she deserves major kudos for being that kick-ass in an entirely made up language. But I think she's like Dany, all she has is kick-ass dragon queen mode, and like Dany she flounders badly when that's not an option.

Basically, I think it was right that she got nominated for series three, and if she was going to be nominated at all it would be for this series because soon Dany storyline is going to start to flounder again.


*

Doreah resumed her duties as handmaiden to the khaleesi. Irri and Jhiqui's duties too, now.

We never found out what happened to Jhiqui, did we? To be honest, I'd been expecting a much higher turn over of minor characters, actors getting other jobs, or deciding that GoT was a huge time commitment for not much screentime and the like.

It kept her busy, and so tired that each night she curled up at the foot of the khaleesi's bed and slept like the dead.

Through it all Daenerys didn't speak to her, hardly looked at her.

"Why spare me," Doreah asked, "why keep me by her side when she can't stand the sight of me?"

"She is a queen," said Jorah, "and a queen needs must be merciful."

"But she's not," said Doreah, thinking of darkness and thinning air and Xaro's hoarse sobs. "Not especially."

*

Doreah thought that the khaleesi might have started to forgive her the morning she woke up late to find Daenerys staring at her with a confused expression on her face, like Doreah was a puzzle she couldn't quite solve.

Okay, I don't think this comes across, but this was meant to be, like-- even when things are okay between them, they are always going to be slightly at cross-purposes because they're incapable of fully understanding one another.

One of the dragons, the one with the greenish scales who Daenerys had named Rhaegal, and who had always been Doreah's favourite, had crawled out of his box during the night and curled up next to Doreah, his tail wrapped around her arm.

They haven't named the dragons on the show, have they? At least, maybe only Drogon? Anyway, Rhaegal is my favourite, if I need a dragon in a fic, chances are it'll be him. But then, I think Drogon is a stupid name, like calling your dog Dag, and I can never remember the right spelling for Viserion.

"He likes you," said Daenerys softly. "He always liked you."

I do like that Dany's dragons are no judge of character, because magic animals in fantasy usually are. Also, Dany herself is no great shakes on that front, so it works.

*

The day Daenerys claimed the Lamb women, to spare them the from riders, that was the day Doreah fell in love with her.

She had been in love before, of course. Love was nothing new or special to Doreah. People you loved betrayed you, or were sold to other masters, or found someone else to love who didn't command such a high price.

And then there was the khal, Daenerys' love for her husband was like something from a story.

I must confess, I am not a fan of the Dany/Drogo relationship, it looked very much to me like untreated Stockholm Syndrome, but that's a minority point of view, I know, and by this point he'd already been fridged for Dany's character development, so there was no point dwelling on it.

Loving Daenerys was an idleness, something to pass the time with, to make their journey through the Great Grass Sea less dull.

Then the khal died, the dragons hatched, and Daenerys walked through fire and lived.

Doreah had thought, I'll follow you anywhere, to the edges of the world.

And she had followed the khaleesi into the Red Waste, and the horses had died, Jhiqui had caught a fever and died. Daenerys' pride had nearly seen them turned away from the gates of Qarth. Xaro's men had killed Irri and taken Doreah.

It was not until much later that Doreah realised how betrayed she had felt.

Doreah's actions in this story are meant to be more a matter of survival than a deliberate betrayal, but I guess the point here is that any of Dany's followers could easily feel very betrayed by her, this girl who makes these huge promises she can't keep.

I don't know, in theory I find it fascinating that the dragons aren't a magic solution to everything, and that Dany has to teach herself how to be a queen, and she flounders and fucks up, and keeps trying-- in practice it was very frustrating to read, and I imagine will be equally frustrating to watch.


*

She is not a god, Doreah thought, as she braided the khaleesi's hair in honour of her victory over the warlocks of Qarth.

She is not a god, it is okay to love her as a woman.

*

The Thirteen of Qarth--

"Eleven," the khaleesi reminded them, "you are eleven now."

--showered them with gifts in the hope of encouraging their departure.

"Almost like a true khalasar," mused Jorah.

"We are a true khalasar, Ser," said Daenerys.

Doreah was surprised when she was given a horse to ride; slaves did not ride among the Dothraki, neither, for the most part, did handmaidens.

"The Thirteen gave us enough for the whole khalasar, near enough," said Daenerys.

So Doreah rode atop a bay mare, and Rhaegal rode atop Doreah's shoulder. It was not that the green dragon preferred her, Daenerys was his mother, but perhaps Doreah was a favoured aunt of some kind.

At any rate, the dragons had reached a size where all three of them could not cling to Daenerys at once.

The coastal road they traveled was supposedly haunted, but this was not like the Red Waste; they had food and water, the warriors were mounted and armed, and they were not surrounded by foes on every side.

Dany's amazing vanishing khalasar. As I recall there were only about twelve of them at the gates of Qarth, then they were massacred by Xaro's men, only to reappear just in time for the looting. There was a ship full of them going to Astapor, then they vanish never to be seen again.

Here, I've got Dany keeping her khalasar and her identity as a khaleesi. I think the whole "not a queen, a khaleesi" thing is going to be hugely important for Dany in the end. It's why I was so relieved when she ended up back in the Dothraki Sea with Drogon at the end of the last book, I thought, finally, this plot is moving again...


*

Disease caught up with the Khalasar once again. But this time no one, not even Daenerys herself, expected the khaleesi to be able to stop it by force of will alone.

That line I like, because that - thinking she can bend the world to her will by force of personality alone - is basically Dany's whole problem in a nutshell.

Doreah missed most of what actually happened, being among the first to fall, weak and feverish, from her horse.

When she woke, in the khaleesi's own bed, in the khaleesi's own tent, Daenerys pressed a lingering kiss to her forehead.

"I thought you were lost to me..." she said.

"An airtight vault didn't get rid of me," said Doreah weakly, her throat was cracked and sore. "You'll have to try harder than a fever."

It was Kovarro, the bloodrider who had taken Rakharo's place as the khaleesi's favourite and most trusted, who told Doreah that while she'd been close to death the khaleesi had stayed by her bed every night.

*

They must cross the water.

It is known, Doreah could almost hear the echo of Irri in her mind.

Oh, Irri...

Jorah had convinced the khaleesi to sail for Slaver's Bay to raise an army rather than heading straight to Westeros.

Doreah was relieved. She was bound now, she could not leave Daenerys Targaryen a second time and live, but she could be grateful for whatever revelation had caused Daenerys to realise that she could not conquer seven kingdoms with three barely grown dragons and her will.

"My Dothraki fear any water their horses cannot drink."

"Then it is almost a shame we did not cross six months ago when we had no horses," said Doreah, and was pleased to see the khaleesi smile.

I read somewhere, that in the books Dany in the only ruler who gets POV chapters. Robert, Joffrey, Stannis, Renly, Robb-- we only get other people's views of them. Dany we mostly see from inside her own head.

Which is why I find Doreah's POV here interesting, because she's in love with Dany, for sure, but she's also kind of unflinching about her, in that she gets that Dany is more than capable of getting them all killed in blind pursuit of her... destiny, I guess.


*

Most of the Dothraki chose to stay below decks with their horses. Doreah shared a cabin, and a bed, with the khaleesi.

She woke one night to the blankets rustling and Daenerys trying to muffle her sobs in the pillows.

"Shh," said Doreah, pressing her lips to the khaleesi's cheek and tasting her tears.

She caught Daenerys' wrist and slipped her own hand between the khaleesi's thighs. Her fingers fumbled inexpertly, unexpectedly; she'd trained for this in the pleasure house, she'd once been able to keep a woman on edge for hours, but it wasn't long before Daenerys' hips jerked and she gasped against Doreah's neck.

"He's been gone a year--"

"Shh," said Doreah against the khaleesi's mouth. "Shh."

This I cribbed wholesale from the books-- although in the books it was Irri. And that's when you know your bad at writing sex scenes, when you're stealing GRRM's.

I sometimes wonder if I should sign up for kink_bingo or the like, to force myself to give writing sex more of a go.


*

From the deck of their hired ship Doreah watched the dragons dive-bomb each other out of the sky, gasping when Rhaegal came off worse against the black dragon and only just managed to catch himself before he hit the water.

Daenerys watched too with a smile on her face that made her look more like a girl than a queen or a conqueror.

Doreah would have kissed her, if she could.

"My father was murdered by a member of his own kingsguard," said Daenerys, glancing sideways at Doreah. "My brother Rhaegar died on the battlefield fighting those who should have been loyal to him. Viserys sold me to Khal Drogo, and if my Sun-and-Stars had been a different sort of man..."

"Khaleesi, I--"

"I want to trust you, Doreah. I want to allow myself to care for you, but I cannot be betrayed again."

"I understand," was all that Doreah could find to say.

*

She might need an army, but Daenerys misliked slavers.

She clung to Doreah fiercely in the night. "You are not my slave. I keep no slaves. You are free to leave my side at any time."

"Now you tell me," said Doreah, she was only half-teasing.

Now, she couldn't leave Daenerys Targaryen if she'd wanted to.

*

"Your Grace," said Doreah.

It was Jorah who had started addressing Daenerys in the manner of Westerosi royalty. Doreah liked it less that khaleesi, it didn't roll off her tongue in the same way, she couldn't breathe it across Daenerys' skin.

"You don't need to, when we're alone, like this-- When we were very small my brother called me Dany."

"Daenerys... Dany..." Doreah whispered.

*

There were no rapes in Daenerys' khalasar. Dothraki tradition said that the khal's will was law, and Daenerys wished for no rapes.

Part of what I like so much about Dany as khaleesi is that women don't lead khalasars, so Dany's got this whole woman king vibe that is one of my biggest ever narrative kinks.

But what struck Doreah as they rode from Slaver's Bay, the khaleesi's new army marching before them, was that none of the men so much as approached her any longer.

"They know that you belong to the khaleesi," Kovarro told her.

*

The kindest word the Dothraki had for what Doreah was to the khaleesi was plaything, or more crudely fucktoy.

*

Doreah overheard Daenerys talking with her bloodriders, trying to teach Kovarro and Aggo the correct Westerosi word.

Consort.

And they lived happily ever after, more or less.

Date: 2013-08-17 07:55 pm (UTC)
kmo: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kmo
i really enjoyed both this fic and your DVD commentary to it. i really feel like the show lost something by having all of Dany's original handmaidens die before season 3. and at the time, it felt like overkill for me for 1) have Doreah betray Dany and 2) have Dany leave her in a vault to suffocate to death. i think your fic does a wonderful job of showing Dany through someone else's eyes, and the love and fear she inspires.

I sometimes wonder if I should sign up for kink_bingo or the like, to force myself to give writing sex more of a go

ah writing the pornographies. i always feel very exposed writing sex scenes. i worry terribly that it will come off as unsexy or cheesy. which is why i understand your hesitation. often less can be more. that said, i *do* really really enjoy well written smut. like all fic, it's the most satisfying to me when it seems to come organically from the characters. lol, i signed up for kink_roulette because i couldn't handle the pressure of a whole bingo card!

Date: 2013-08-29 07:22 pm (UTC)
miarrow: (Default)
From: [personal profile] miarrow
Lovely reading your commentary on this. I find I straddle the line between wanting to enjoy Lena Headey (and Emilia, and Sophie, and etc etc) and having major issues with the things GOT is doing -- especially with Irri and what removing Dany's handmaidens will do for her narrative (it's nice we have Missendei now, but still). I think actually the visa thing proved to be a load of crap, but something they threw out there. I'm also still slightly tramautised by the Doreah killing Irri deleted scene so I like your fix-it much better.

It really doesn't make sense, but then again this show (and to be fair this is also probably the biggest flaw in the books) does not strive to understand the position sex workers are put into in Westeros except on very rare occasions. Doreah's betrayal only made sense in the terms you described, because her upbringing and knowing of men and masters wouldn't have really made sense for her to ever trust Xaro and help him achieve his means.

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