First season, tenth episode. The reel is my memory. I remember flaming torches that could rival the number of those lit in all Survivor versions, forming a ring in the middle of the desert as in a sacrificial rite. The Dothraki and Ser Jorah Mormont behind. Daenerys– widowed, lost a child, lost a brother, having a handful of Dothraki slaves for warriors, barely eighteen but burdened by longing for home, no family, no iron throne, no kingdom to return to to begin with– stood in between facing the fire, ready to be consumed by it.
We first saw Daenerys in Magister Illyrio’s grand mansion in the Free City of Pentos. That’s as far as we can get from King’s Landing, the capital of Westeros. She and her big brother Viserys, the self-proclaimed last dragon and true heir of the iron throne, were living off the magister’s kindness and hospitality, which were actual investments into favors that can be claimed when ripe from the ‘future and one true king’. Now Viserys needed an army to reclaim King’s Landing from Robert Baratheon, so he was marrying his sister off to Khal Drogo, a Dothraki lord who was known for being undefeated in battles and who would be his provider of a strong khalasar (army): I’d let his whole khalasar fuck you if need be, sweet sister, all forty thousand men, and their horses too if that’s what it took to get my army.
Dany, as she was also called, followed suit because she did not want to awaken the dragon in her brother. She bedded with Drogo, spoke with her handmaidens to master the Dothraki tongue, learned ways to pleasure her husband with lessons from them, learned to love him, too, sure enough to carry his son in her womb. Tall orders for a little princess. Or not. Because a little princess she never was, or felt she was– her mother died giving birth to her on Dragonstone, leaving two orphans to the care of a few loyal servants and to one day desiring in very different manners to avenge the death of the Father she never knew, the Mad King Aerys Targaryen. Now she was a khaleesi, the ascent coming in with three dragon’s eggs as a gift from the magister, the allegiance of the exiled Ser Jorah Mormont, the khal’s growing gentle love, a horse to mount at the head of the movable tribe whereas Viserys rode in the neck or midsection that it didn’t matter anymore, and the pulsating realization that she was Daenerys Stormborm, Princess of Dragonstone, of the blood and seed of Aegan the Conqueror, of the blood of the dragon.
Soon she was bearing within her Drogo’s heir, on which Viserys grew impatient as he had shown no regard for Dothraki customs and pace with things, and ventured upon insulting the khal for keeping his end of the bargain unfulfilled. In a feast to celebrate the khaleesi with child, the last dragon dared his sister’s husband before other khals to give him the crown he’d been promised. Bloodriders thereby brought their leader molten gold to pour onto half the head of the impertinent future king of Westeros. When the gold was half-melted and running, Drogo snagged a stew pot from the fire pit and crowned the upended thing on Viserys, who died painfully quick and proving something to his little sister once and all. He was no dragon. With a curious calm she pondered. Fire cannot kill a dragon.
Until his last breath, which was without a curl of smoke, she loved his brother. But his death made the fire raze all the quicker from her veins to her heart, and she found it in her to truly love her husband, to dream a future with him and their son, to raise her voice at the abuse of women and children in their tribe’s raids, to spite some of his bloodriders for their bias and injustice, which cost her husband his life, and to make hard decisions regarding supernatural solutions to save him, which then cost her the child. Just what the maesters (men who acted like medical practitioners in Westeros) ordered for a khaleesi– but she had become more than that.
First season, tenth episode. I remember the fire dying, wisps of smoke filling the desert air, and Daenerys Targaryen rising to her feet. Fire did not consume the last Targaryen. She consumed the fire. Naked and covered with soot, she seemed unhurt. Two dragons suckled at her breasts, while the third was draped across her shoulders. They were making music that had been unheard of in a hundred years. The music of dragons.