It had been too long since they saw each other and Dacey felt strange offering advice to her cousin. They were family and she knew it but that didn’t change how things worked. They had drifted apart for a long time and it would take time before those holes left truly filled. Sighing softly Dacey took another sip of her coffee just as her phone started to buzz. Glancing down at it she closed her eyes upon reading the text message from one of her co-workers. They needed her help with something and as much as Dacey dreaded the idea of heading back into work today, she didn’t have a choice.
After sending off a quick reply Dacey looked up at her cousin as a slight frown formed on her lips. “I’m sorry about this, Jorah. That was work I really should get going.” Dacey rose from her chair and grabbed her laptop bag and coffee cup before smiling down at her cousin, one of the first true smiles she had expressed since first running into him. Quickly she pulled a pen from her bag and jotted down her cell number on a napkin before handing it to him. “It was really wonderful to see you though, Jorah. Call me and we can get together again soon.”
Jorah watched her stand up with inexpressive eyes before he tried to smile at her slightly. “I will” was his only reply. Because the truth was he doubted he would.
But whatever it happened, Jorah knew now that their motto was not something they used in vain. There they stood, after all they had went through. And even when there seemed to be no light in their lifes, they could always count on their family.
Because, after all, they were Mormonts. And Jorah was one of them.
Dacey nodded slightly and took a breath. It didn’t surprise her that she was the first he had spoken to. No doubt if he had made contact with anyone else in the family it would have already reached her ears. The Mormont women, particularly Lyra, Jorelle and Lyanna, were all ones for gossip. News of cousin Jorah would have been something they would be eager to spread around. Dacey wondered for a moment if she would even bother telling them she saw Jorah. Perhaps she would tell her mother and Alysane but the younger ones, most likely not.
Dacey’s lips curled up into a tiny smile as she watched Jorah. “I’m sure she would like to hear from you.” It might have been a stretched truth but Dacey didn’t care. Putting their family back together was more important than hard feelings felt between both sides.
Jorah didn’t know what to do, and neither to say. His eyes looked up at her but his mind was somewhere else, lost in his thoughts. Maybe it was true his mother and aunt would be willing to hear from him… but he was not sure he wanted them to actually know about him. What would they say? Would he be able to lie to his mother or to keep the truth from her?
He couldn’t. He could not allow himself to see her. He could not allow himself to see anybody else. That would make things harder for everyone. They were with the Starks… and he was the bodyguard of the young Ms. Targaryen.
But one day, they would know about his work. And then, Jorah would already be away from his family, far enough for not to see them feeling hurt.
Taking a sip of her coffee, Dacey wasn’t surprised when Jorah sure didn’t say anything more. Jorah’s pride was wounded and Dacey didn’t know if she could help him fix it. She didn’t know if it would ever be fixed. Mormonts were a proud bunch and the stubborn nature that ran in their bloodline was not something easily ignored. It would take time for all of them to move past Jorah’s issues.
With a sigh she set the cup back on the table and continued to watch her cousin. “Have you spoken with my mother?”
He hadn’t. She was the first one he had spoken to. And probably the only one. He had been trying to avoid having any kind of contact with his family… mainly with his father. He didn’t want to know what he would say if he saw him… But he was sure it would not be a kind and warm welcome to London. No. He should not speak to anybody else. Maybe he had with Dacey. But she would be the last one he would speak to.
“No…” he said finally. “You are the first person of our family I speak to…” he tried to raise his head a bit as he uttered this words.
Dacey didn’t feel happy when he admitted that he had learned and lowered his gaze. In some ways possibly, she was happy he had learned but she was not happy his pride had to suffer in the process. Dacey didn’t like that at all. She didn’t like knowing that someone she cared about pride was suffering.
Letting out a soft sigh, Dacey watched her cousin for a moment. His smile seemed forced and he wouldn’t meet her eyes. Maybe everything was not getting better as she imagined or perhaps he was ashamed. Dacey didn’t know. “Well I’m glad for that, Jorah.”
“Are you, really?” he didn’t get to ask that, but in his mind, he did. His fingers tapped the surface of the table, slowly, an improvised rythm. Maybe she expected him to say something more. Maybe she had discovered he wasn’t sorry about anything… Maybe. But Jorah’s eyes continued to stare down.
Not a single word came out of his mouth.
A lock of wavy raven hair fell in front of Dacey’s shoulder and she picked it up, twisting the strand of hiar around her finger as she watched her cousin. There seemed to almost be an internal struggle between what he was saying and what he wanted to say. Dacey couldn’t blame him for that. There were more times than she could count where she was forced to bite her tongue on a subject and keep quiet when her sisters were speaking out. All she wanted to do was correct them but her mother had told her that they needed to make their own mistakes. Maybe that was how things were for Jorah as well.
“At least you’ve realized it,” Dacey said with a slight sigh as she released the dark curl, letting it bounce against her shoulder. “Even if it took time you did finally realize it. You’ve learned from your mistake and that’s the important thing.” The woman offered her cousin a reassuring smile and tucked the lock of hair behind her ear. Now that she and Jorah were talking then maybe, maybe everything would fall back into place. Maybe they could be family again, not that they ever really stopped to begin with; but things had been different. Now they could get back to how things used to be.
But he hadn’t learned. If he was back again to those days when he met Lynesse, when they were living togheter, when she got bored from the house and of Jorah’s family… he would do it again. He would give everything he had now to love again as he had loved… But maybe it was impossible. And he knew never again things would be like they were before he left London. His father would not forgive him. His father was still hurt about what he had done. A Mormont! Smuggling! How did he dare!
Though that was what it was going around Jorah’s head, the words he said were very different. “Yes… ” Jorah lowered his head, not capable of staring at her eyes. He tried to smile slightly.
Dacey couldn’t help the soft sigh of relief that escaped her lips as Jorah acknowledged that the troubles between he and their family had been the fault of Lynesse. The Hightower woman had gotten between them and forced them to turn their backs on each other. Dacey would never forgive Lynesse for that. There was so much time lost and wasted because of her selfishness. At least Dacey felt safe in the knowledge that no matter what, Lynesse was the past. They could put all the anger and hatred behind them now and fix the broken bonds of family.
Even though she did not want to seem smug over her cousin’s admission, Dacey could still feel the corners of her mouth turning upwards in a slight smile. “I’m glad you’ve opened your eyes, Jorah. She was blinding you but now you can see we were there all along. You were the one who chose to leave.”
Jorah had to bite the inside of his cheek in order to keep himself to show any other emotion that wasn’t the look of sadness that he couldn’t control. But inside him there was a voice that wanted to yell at everyone that he was sorry, that he would never make the mistake he did again. It was a stupid will, a stupid voice he tried to silence… But it was hard to get rid of it.
Finally, he nodded, in agreement. “I have never made a greater mistake than the one I made when I left London.” He was sure that was what she wanted to hear, what his whole family wanted to hear, and so he said it, though he didn’t felt it. How to feel that the time had been with the love of his life, and he was sure that there would be no other woman for him, was a mistake? It hadn’t been for him. It hadn’t been… until she ran away. But he was sure that Lynesse Hightower had actually love him… Once. Maybe shortly. But she had.
When Jorah reached across the table and took her hand, Dacey stilled for a moment. She dropped her gaze to their hands before slowly looking back up to meet his eyes. Even though she wanted to protest the words died in her throat when she met her cousin’s guilt ridden eyes. Instead of complaining that there could have been something for her to do, Dacey merely nodded.
His confession that he was the one who needed to apologize had not been what she had expected. For her whole life there was certainty about Jorah where he didn’t like to admit his failings. Dacey assumed it had to do with the Mormont stubbornness as it had come to be known. “Lynesse was the problem,” Dacey said with a soft sigh. “You cannot help that she tangled you up in her web of lies.” Of course Dacey had blamed Jorah for that. She’d blamed him for years but slowly she was beginning to realize that maybe Jorah wasn’t the only one who had made a mistake.
Lynesse had been the problem. Sure, but he was also guilty. But it had taken for him years to realize he had not been completely not guilty. Even now, when he had said he was sorry about everything it had happened, it had been hard for him to say the words and to accept his part of guilt.
“Yes…” he said as he tried to smile, that smile he hardy ever used, a natural smile of simple relief… but he was sure he failed. How stupid he had been to let himself fall for Lynesse’s lies… And how strange it was that he regreted nothing. But Dacey must not know that. That would be something that he would keep for himself, all what he had lived with Lynesse…
“Now I know you were right… All of you…” this time, he looked back down when he spoke.
Very slightly Dacey nodded as Jorah spoke. She could understand that. Cut off from everything and everyone had to be so difficult for Jorah. Dacey didn’t know if she would have had the strength to simply leave everything behind like that. In fact, she knew she couldn’t. Not when she had little sister’s to be a role model for, even if only little Lyanna was still young enough for her influence to do any good. She would have missed them terribly and never would have left them behind.
Smiling sadly when he looked into her eyes, Dacey bit her bottom lip. There were things in her past she wouldn’t have wanted her family informed of either. Drunken nights in university immediately sprang to mind and she shook the memories away. “I understand, Jorah.” Frowning slightly she absentmindedly drew shapes on the tabletop with her fingertips but her eyes never left his. She wished she could have been there to help him through that but he had betrayed their family. If she had seen him before now she might not have even said hello. Dacey would have merely averted her eyes and walked in the other direction. Now, thankfully, she was growing up. Almost hesitantly Dacey spoke again. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be of any help.” She didn’t know why she was apologizing to the man who could have ruined their family with his expensive wife but it felt right for Dacey to say the words. Maybe it was an empty gesture but she didn’t think so. They were family after all. Despite everything they had said and done bonds like that just don’t disappear.
Her apologizing was the last thing in the world Joarah would have wanted. Apologizing for not being there? Aplogizing for not being able to help him. How could him let he do that to herself, her that had been by her family’s side all that time? Jorah moved his hand across the table to reach hers. “There is no way shoul apologize, Dacey…”
“It is me who should” he said to himself. But how to say sorry if you do not feel so? Because he didn’t regret falling in love with Lynesse. He couldn’t. They had been the best years of his life, and he was not able to tell himself that had been a mistake. He had learned about how love and being loved was…
“It’s me who should” this time, he said the words out loud.
Hearing his words brought a smile to her face. They were making progress and she knew it. Maybe things would work out for the best in the end after all. It was good to know that seeing her again had not been the last thing in the world he would have wanted. Dacey didn’t know how well she would have handled that. “I’m glad to see you as well, Jorah.” It might have been surprising to her but she knew it was the truth. Family was important and even though she didn’t realize it until now, Dacey was glad they were getting the chance to fix things between them.
It seemed to Dacey that Jorah was almost as relieved as she was that they were clearing the air. “I hadn’t realized how much I wanted to talk to you, how many things I had to say to you, until now.” There was so much time lost and so many things to get caught up with. Dacey didn’t know where to begin. “What have I missed in your life, Jorah? Certainly there must be a lot of things that have happened.”
The relief he felt was even greater when she said she had been willing to talk to him for some time… Though, Jorah had to remain like he was, looking down. How much had she missed…? Just the worse years of his whole life. The rejection. The loneliness. The poverty. Having to sell his services and risk his own life to protect people that didn’t deserve it… She had missed so much, and yet he was glad she had. How much she would have suffered if she had known, if she had seen him… If his whole family had seen what he had become. They had never wished him to end up like he had. They had warned him…
He finally found the courage to look up at her. “You have missed nothing but what I would have wished you to miss, Dacey. My life since I left the city… let’s say it hasn’t been easy…” were his only words before he couldn’t avoid looking back down.
Slowly Dacey nodded as she listened to her cousin speak. It seemed as though he was having his eyes opened and for that she was grateful. Jorah needed to realize there were more important things than Lynesse and no matter what happened family stayed. Lifting her head to meet her cousin’s eyes she smiled just a little bit.
His apology was not what she had been expecting but at the same time she was grateful he had offered it. The guilty tone to his voice was not missed and she felt her walls that had been put up around her heart crumbling slightly. “You probably should be,” Dacey had a teasing smile on her lips as she watched her cousin. “And I accept your apology. Sometimes love and feelings make you blind to everything else that happens.”
How true her words were… Now everything had passed, things seemed so much clear. But the truth was that if it happened again, Jorah was sure he would do the same as he had done that time. Maybe he was just that way, a stupid romatic man hidden in a bear’s body… He tried not to think more about that, about the fact he had not learned the lesson the destiny had wanted to teach him.
“I am glad to see you again, Dacey…” he found himself saying as he stared at her eyes. There, he had said it. He had been willing to do so since they had started talking… and now he had. It was somehow a relief…
He sighed and smiled, looking back down.