Hello Kristen! I need your light about something that really disturbing me in A Dance with dragons. I began to read the books after season 7 to help me trough the hiatus so I maybe missed some things but it seems that Dany is really in love with Daario. In the tv show it's clear that he's more a "toy boy" but in the book she's ready to drop the crown for him, she wants their nights to last forever etc. What's your opinion on that? Thanks :-)
Hi anon! First and foremost, I want to apologize for taking so long to get to this ask. My life has been crazy busy lately and I’ve found it difficult to find time for myself or for my blog. Anyway, on to your ask!
I don’t really think that Dany is ever truly in love with Daario in either the show or the books, and I’ll do my best to explain why.
In ADWD, Dany thinks about Daario several times while he is away from her on various missions, and she often worries after his safety. She also dreams of a future with him. So I can see why you might think that she really loves him.
“In her dream they had been man and wife, simple folk who lived a simple life in a tall stone house with a red door. In her dream he had been kissing her all over–her mouth, her neck, her breasts.”
So while this shows that she does think about a future with Daario, to me this is more about the future she wants for herself than about Daario and his relation to her. Dany has fantasized about the house with the red door and the idea of a home and a simple life several times throughout the series. I think she dreamed of him in this instance simply because he is the man she is with at the time. But this idea of a simple, honest life does not actually fit with Daario’s character. And I think that deep down Dany knows that. In the dream they are doing the one thing that Daario was really willing and able to do in their relationship–give her physical pleasure.
But she also has doubts about the relationship.
Early in the novel, she wonders (and is worried) that Daario could betray her.
”The Undying of Qarth had told her she would be thrice betrayed. Mirri Maz Duur had been the first. Ser Jorah the second. Would Reznak be the third? The Shavepate? Daario?”
Later, her famous thought, “Who would ever dare to love a dragon?” brings her mind to Daario, and she reflects that she’s “jealous” of his swords (both carved to look like women) because Daario’s only real loyalty is to himself, and his love of fighting. Also in this passage, she worries that he has betrayed her in his absence:
“What if Daario has betrayed me and gone over to my enemies?” Three treasons you will know.
So she has no real faith in Daario, his love for her, or their relationship, even in the early parts of ADWD. And she already suspects that the prophecy of her treasons could apply to him. To me, that doesn’t really show true love. There’s no trust.
We see further evidence of this later, when Xaro is trying to seduce Dany. She thinks to herself:
“I could close my eyes and pretend that he was Daario. A dream Daario would be safer than the real one. But she pushed that thought aside.”
Again, I don’t see this as loving. I see it as Dany’s desire for intimacy and her longing for someone to trust and be with romantically, but she can’t actually trust Daario, so he isn’t really someone she loves fully.
Even when Daario returns to her, Dany is nervous like a young girl. She thinks:
“I need to change, to make myself beautiful.”
This just doesn’t feel like love to me. She has to change herself to be desirable to him. Because to Daario, she is an idea, a conquest, something impressive. Not a woman that he loves. Dany gets nervous and flustered around him. It isn’t comfortable or natural.
On the night he returns to her, Dany watches him and has this thought:
“His kisses would be hard and cruel, she told herself, and he would not care if I cried out or commanded him to stop.”
This is… troubling. I think that Daario is someone who Dany worries could actually assault her. I think that most of her attachment to him is physical. She wants the physical relationship with him and the feeling of being desired, but she doesn’t seem to think much of him as a person, which is really the basis of love. And she doesn’t trust him not to hurt her.
Later, Daario gives the closest thing to a love confession when he says Dany should escape “Into [his] bed. Into [his] arms. Into [his] heart.” But even this would-be tender moment is instead sexually-charged but emotionally shallow. Dany describes it this way:
“The hilts of Daario’s arakh and stiletto were wrought in the shape of golden women, naked and wanton. He brushed his thumbs across them in a way that was remarkably obscene and smiled a wicked smile.
…He made her want to be his wanton. I should never see him alone. He is too dangerous to have near me.”
I feel like this one speaks for itself haha. Definitely not loving.
In the interest of time, here are more examples of things Dany thinks about Daario that I think reinforce that she isn’t in love with him.
“He had been so long away, Dany had almost forgotten what he was. Sellswords were treacherous by nature, she reminded herself. Fickle, faithless, brutal. He will never be more than he is. He will never be the stuff of kings.”
“Daenerys was appalled. He is a monster. A gallant monster, but a monster still.”
“He has a sellsword’s conscience, she realized then. That is to say, none at all.”
“I would give up my crown if he asked it of me, Dany thought, but he has not asked it, and never would. Daario might whisper words of love when the two of them were as one, but she knew it was the dragon queen he loved. If I gave up my crown, he would not want me.”
I think that last one is most important. This one kind of supports what I’ve been trying to say about Dany all along–that she isn’t this power-hungry tyrant antis try to paint her as. She just wants to feel a part of something, and to feel love and belonging. She would set aside her title and crown to have that. But the reason she doesn’t set aside her crown with Daario is because she realizes what she has with Daario isn’t love. He wants the “dragon queen” and not the person Dany is inside.
Show!Daario just reinforces this with his reaction to Dany breaking up with him. He isn’t devastated and sad to lose the love of his life. Instead, he asks Dany who could possibly follow her. In other words, how can he top sleeping with the Mother of Dragons? What impressive feat could he do next? At the end of the day, that’s all Daario cares about. And Dany knows it. So I don’t think she ever really loved or trusted him.
All that being said, I don’t think it’s really all that important whether Dany loved him or not. I see this ongoing trend in the Jonerys fandom where people try to prove that Dany didn’t really love Drogo or that Jon didn’t really love Ygritte, as if that would somehow make Jonerys matter more or be more meaningful. But I disagree. I do think that Dany loved Drogo in her own way, even if that was unhealthy and love that came of necessity. I do think that Jon loved Ygritte, even if that relationship was unhealthy and problematic as well. I don’t think Jonerys need to be each other’s first love. What matters is that they are each other’s greatest love.
When they come together, Jon and Dany both have someone who is their equal not only in status but in responsibility. They have both found someone who can actually appreciate them and understand what they’ve been through. And they’ve found someone who loves them for their personality and actions and not for their social status or name. And that’s why it’s so beautiful. They don’t need to be each other’s first, because they’re each other’s best :)