There is something about Daemon Targaryen. Could it be his devil may care attitude, his charming disregard for propriety, or just the way he loves so selfishly? Something about the man makes us feel the need to protect him and tell him that it is going to be alright. But Daemon has never wanted that. In fact, when his brother sent that very message during the battle of the Stepstones, he beat the “breeches off the messenger.” Somewhere underneath all that abrasiveness, Daemon has a child’s heart. He is not too keen on thinking through his actions, and there is certain belligerence about him when he is trying to get what he wants. When he doesn’t get that, it leads to the type of disappointment that makes him unable to find joy in the other things in life. Our bet is that this Targaryen is probably an Aries.
It is well known that Dameon is in love with Rhaenyra. But his love was not restricted to her. He was an ambitious man who thought of himself as more deserving of the throne; he wanted that as well, in the pursuit of which his feelings for his niece were just a means to an end. In addition to that, Daemon was an untraditional man, and that probably extended to his feelings about the customs of that time. In the book, he is sixteen years older than she is. Even in the series, they are not that close in age. Regardless of his marriage to Rhea Royce, Daemon definitely thought of Rhaenyra as a child, as she was barely 18 years old when she got married to Laenor. No matter what he felt for her, he had to have doubted his own feelings considering that she was barely an adult. Not to mention the difference in life experiences. Daemon had been about the entire world, and Rhaenyra, for all the independence of her spirit, had barely ever left the palace walls. He recognized a kindred spirit in her, and that gave way to a soft spot, but Daemon did not mistake it for compatibility. He was a man ahead of his time and possessed wisdom that couldn’t exactly be put into words. Another surprising aspect about Daemon is his love for his family. Despite his perceived merit, he loved his brother and his family. This was one of the reasons he was so angry when his brother sent help during the battle of the Stepstones—because it came too late. The expression of concern for his well-being came after 3 years of battle, resulting in it being nothing more than an insult to his pride. And no matter how tangled up his feelings were, his pride was his defining characteristic and an affront that infuriated him. Most of his actions and his mistakes happened because he could not separate his pride from his feelings. Come to think of it, was it really that hard for him to marry Rhaenyra? Had he been more of a gentleman about it, it was rather possible to do that. But he didn’t just want her; he also wanted the upper hand. Which is why he created the whole business of ‘tarnishing her reputation. We have a theory that it was when he was with her at Flea Bottom, when he couldn’t go all the way with her despite her willingness, that he realized that he truly loved her. Until that point, it was a soft corner, an easy camaraderie, maybe even some affection. But it was exactly then that he knew it was love. Daemon was not under the illusion that he was a good man. But you always want the best for the one you love. So, when he realized his feelings for his niece, he also realized that he was not good enough for her? Is that why he smiled throughout her wedding and stopped himself from creating a greater scene?
At the wedding, despite his conversation with Rhaenyra, we don’t believe that he was serious about running away with her. At best, it was a final futile challenge between two lovers who knew that they had no future together. However, her marriage was the last straw in a list of lessons that had ended up altering Daemon’s viewpoint on life. It had probably started with the Battle of the Stepstones. He had started that as a way of proving his independence and his station. But many failures before his ultimate success, which required him to spend three years getting battle-hardened, taught him that maybe a life full of war and political machinations were not what he wanted. When he returned to King’s Landing, the throne was still on his mind, but more than that, he probably wanted to reassert his importance in everybody’s lives. Which he does, but with a series of disasters that ultimately cost him everything. But there was light at the end of the tunnel for him when he gained Laena Velaryon as a companion.
Laena was a warrior at heart, but she was a lot more level-headed than Daemon or Rhaenyra. She had liked Demon when they had flirted at Rhaenyra’s wedding festivities, and it wasn’t long before their houses saw the wisdom of this alliance and got them married. She was a good match for her husband as she had the temperament that could bear his, which had matured and subdued. As for Daemon himself, he had found a friend in his second wife, one who could match his hunger for life, though not his skepticism or his madness. But he respected this marriage, unlike his first one, and played the part of a dutiful and loving husband and father. Life had disappointed him, but he was trying to move on by putting a leash on his heart. That was the reason he agreed to Prince Reggio’s offer of being a permanent guest at Pentos—because it was a position “free from responsibility and political machinations.” But Laena was not a woman of complacency and knew very well that neither was her husband. She recognized that he tamed the fire in his heart because of his fear that he might be scarred further. Though younger than Rhaenyra when she married Daemon, with age, she had come to recognize the love he held in his heart for her, and she made her peace with it. But she could not accept the disappointment of a life half lived. She could respect that her husband immersed himself in books and a life of leisure, but she knew she was not cut out for that.
When she went into labor, Daemon proved to be a far kinder man than his brother and chose to save his wife instead of his unborn child. We are not sure about the exact events leading up to Laena’s death. It could be the shock of losing the child in her womb, or it could be an escape from a life she was being forced into. Either way, she went exactly the way she wanted to—the death of her choice rather than one that was imposed on her. When Daemon sees his wife on fire, the look on his face tells us that he knows why she took that step. He had an affection for her, and he truly grieved her loss. But it showed him that he could not run from himself forever.
As for Rhaenyra, it would be easy to think that she had moved on. Daemon was disappointed with life, but it had not been kind to Rhaenyra either. She was married to a man she did not love, her once best friend was now firmly against her, and there was not a single person to support her claim to the throne, one she had risked everything for. It was inevitable that she would miss Daemon, the one person in her entire life who had understood and accepted her without question. We note this, especially during the discussion at the council. Even though she doesn’t address him by name, she alludes to how the Kingdom should have held its ground at the Stepstones, one that was hard-won by her beloved uncle. With Laena’s death and the looming danger around Rhaenyra and her family due to Larys Strong, we see a future reunion for Daemon and Rhaenyra. Their hearts have always held only each other but have been hardened by their experiences and time apart. Will they be able to overcome that and finally get what they have wanted all this time? We really hope that happens. Their ‘will they, won’t they’ love story has defined the first season of “House of the Dragon.” We remember a quote from another favorite show of ours. It applies to Daemon in the way that Laena was always good for him, but Rhaenyra will either be the best for him or the worst. And we can’t wait to see which one it will be.