"You should come inside, my Queen." Even with the wind buffeting the ship, the voice of Jon Snow was unmistakeable.
Daenerys looked to where Jon was standing, just outside the door to the interior. "I should be near them," she said, turning her gaze back to Drogon and Rhaegal, flying overhead. "A mother should be with her children when they are in pain."
She had assumed he would go back in, to the warmth of his cabin. He had gained strength since they had started their journey back south, but the winter air would still be rough after his ordeal. Instead, his heavy footfalls grew closer.
Jon stood to her right, his hand gripping the rail inches away from hers. "They still call out for him?" he asked.
"Of course," she replied. "They were brothers who came into this world together. Rhaegal and Viserion had never been separated until..."
She couldn't bring herself to say the rest. But there was no need. It would not be easy to forget the superhuman strength that had launched the spear of ice into Viserion. The fireball and blood that had burst forth from him, the gentlest of her children, was seared into her mind forever. She fought back the urge to laugh as she whispered, "Fire and blood."
"Fire and blood," she said more loudly, turning to face Jon. "He died amidst fire and blood. Targaryen words. He was a Targaryen."
His eyebrows furrowed slightly, little lines forming between them. "Perhaps you would like to rest, Your Grace. After losing Viserion beyond the Wall -"
"I am no stranger to losing a child," she replied, voice harsher than she had intended.
"Your... your Grace..."
She turned towards Jon, leaving a hand on the rail. "When I was Khaleesi to Khal Drogo, I carried his son inside of me. The crones said that he would be the Stallion Who Mounts the World, the Khal of Khals, the one who would unite the khalasars and have all the people of the world as his herd." Thinking of that moment, when Drogo had watched her eat the stallion's heart and their son had moved inside her, the corners of her mouth twitched upwards in a smile. "I named my son Rhaego, after the two greatest warriors I knew.
"After that Drogo took a wound on the Dothraki sea. It festered. I made a deal with a maegi to heal him." Her hand fell to her stomach, over the place where Rhaego had lived and died. "I birthed Rhaego that night, while the maegi worked her blood magic on Drogo. When I woke, Drogo was no longer dying of a fever but he knew nothing of what was happening around him. And Rhaego - the maegi told me that only death could pay for life. I didn't know she meant his life."
Jon was looking at her, seemingly at a loss for words. "I never saw him, you know, the baby Drogo and I had made. They told me he was monstrous, with wings and grave worms. They said it was to protect me. They added his wrapped body to Drogo's funeral pyre. Targaryens and Dothraki burn their dead, so it seemed fitting. I had them add a few extra things to the pyre, as well. The three dragon eggs I had been gifted at my wedding went on, after much protest. I had them tie the maegi, too. In all her betrayals, she had taught me one thing: only death can pay for life."
She placed a hand on Jon's. "I walked into the fire that night. In the morning, they found me sitting with Drogon on my shoulder and Rhaegal and Viserion at my breasts. I had lost my son, but I became the Mother of Dragons that night. That was the night I first freed slaves, the night people first chose me to rule over them. Had I not lost Rhaego, none of it would have happened."
Daenerys watched as her two remaining children flew overhead. Today, at least, they were staying close, even though they still called for Viserion. "I lost another child beyond the Wall, but I have also seen the army of the dead. Viserion's death will mean something, just as Rhaego's has." She looked back at Jon and swallowed hard. "I will never forgive myself if it doesn't."