Love always finds a way, and there is probably no greater sense of accomplishment than fighting against the whole world to be able to be with the one you love with your whole heart and soul. The world could tear you apart with its rules and machinations, but sometimes, all you need is an ally. All you need is someone like Laenor Velaryon. Daemon and Rhaenyra have had their fair share of ups and downs. They have been in love and have not realized it. Then they did realize it, but since love makes you a better person, they were not willing to treat each other purely as political pawns. And that caused a separation of a decade. They had to combat loneliness, depression, and the loss of loved ones. But after going through it all, when they got together, it was the easiest thing in the world for them. Seriously, the scene in “House of the Dragon” Episode 7 when they are finally with each other had a sweetness and an ease that was unexpected. One would think that after spending a decade apart with absolutely no contact, there would be a process of refamiliarization, especially since both of them had lost someone very significant. But that was far from the case.
We have maintained since the beginning of “House of the Dragon” that Daemon’s desire for the throne overshadowed his love for Rhaenyra. There is a 16-year age gap between them. Daemon was definitely aware of his niece’s affection for him but chalked it up to the fancies of a young age. That does not mean that he did not plan on taking advantage of it, but not right then. As time passed and he returned to King’s Landing, carrying the anger of the Battle of the Stepstones with him, Daemon knew what he wanted. He was angry, and he wanted revenge. He wanted to claim everything that he always had wanted-the throne and the kingdom, and he was ruthless about using Rhaenyra as a pawn. But talking to her made the feelings of tenderness resurface in his battle-hardened heart. Of course, he still thought of her as a child, and as a means to an end. But something happened when he went out with her. There was a child-like trust that she placed in him, one that he wasn’t used to. Until that day, whenever she had spoken of wanting something different from life, he had probably written it off as one of the foolish fantasies of youth. But that night, he saw for himself that she had a spirit that was made of mischief and fire and that would not be satisfied with what the world wanted from her-something he had in common with his niece. It was cute when she ran away from the hawker, and Daemon had to find that endearing. But he was a man on a mission, and he took her to Flea Bottom for the last leg of his plan. Knowing Daemon, the way we do now, we really doubt if he would have taken advantage of Rhaenyra’s willingness that night. We want to think that he wouldn’t be so depraved, but we also can’t forget that this is the same man who seemingly killed his wife after mistreating her throughout their marriage. It is evident through the narrative that Daemon was a man capable of love. But was he capable of honoring that love? Turns out that he was- a fact that surprised us as much as it did him.
That night, Rhaenyra was willing to be with him. She had known about her feelings for him for a long time. Maybe it started out as a childish crush, but it can’t be denied that she found a kindred spirit in him. She cherished that and wanted to make it a part of her life forever. But unlike Rhaenyra’s love, which was uncorrupted, Daemon wasn’t a saint. It was when he had Rhaenyra right where he wanted her that he knew that he couldn’t do what he had set out to. He loved her and realized that he couldn’t break her heart. Daemon was probably not proud of that realization, and his first instinct was to run away from it. But in doing so, he had spurned Rhaenyra, who then went on to find her own way. When he came to her wedding, and during their dance, both of them knew that running away together was not on the cards. Daemon would not do that to his brother and his family, and neither would Rhaenyra. It was a challenge that expressed the futility of their feelings for one another.
A decade passed. Daemon found happiness with Laena, but not love. The pursuit of power had cost him his heart, and he never fully recovered from that. Rhaenyra, on the other hand, was trying to make the best of a series of bad situations. She had failed to start a family with Laenor and had found companionship in Ser Harwin Strong. Again, companionship, not love. Both the lovers had given up on their hope of ever being reunited and were fighting their battles alone. Daemon was dealing with the realization of the kind of man he was, and Rhaenyra was trying to live a life on her terms, one that nobody understood, and few grudgingly accepted. She had a friend in her husband. He accepted her just as she accepted him, and they both knew how to stand by each other. But Laenor could not be what Rhaenyra wanted. Neither was this the life he had desired. The Velaryons belong to the sea, and Laenor longed to have a life full of adventure where he could be himself, unabashedly. But he had his loyalty firmly with Rhaenyra, just as she had it with him. When Laena dies and Daemon and Rhaenyra are reunited, they find it easy to talk to each other as if they had never been away at all. Rhaenyra has fought a long and hard battle, pretty much all alone, and she does not waste time letting Daemon know that she has missed him. When they come together, it is not with a sense of urgency but as the unraveling of something inevitable. There is a sense of peace they feel in having found the person they can be themselves with.
In the events that follow, where the two factions are clearly established, Rhaenyra knows that things are coming to a boiling point, and it is time to take things into her hands instead of letting them take their own course. And Laenor Velaryon was her strongest ally. He acknowledged that he had his limitations, not because of his orientation but because of his lack of capability to help Rhaenyra. He could stand with her, but he couldn’t support her. He was just not cut out for it, and he acknowledged that. Additionally, Laena’s death made him realize with finality that life in the court was just not what he wanted. The timing was right, and it was the perfect opportunity to take the bull by the horns. It had always been a marriage of convenience, and now was the most convenient time to end it. Laenor felt the guilt of robbing his parents of their last remaining child, but he had come to realize that, despite their love for him, he was still a pawn in their quest for power, and he was done playing. Therefore, he joined hands with Rhaenyra and Daemon and orchestrated his own death. He stepped out of the way so that they could come together for love and to solidify their claim to the throne. To put a humorous spin on it, he was the perfect third wheel when Rhaenyra was with Harwin Strong, and he was the best of friends when she needed to be with Dameon. He is genuinely one of the few good people on the show and the greatest enabler of the main characters’ love story.
Daemon and Rhaenyra never once said that they loved each other. But nobody could complement the other more than them. Laenor Velaryon was the final frontier between them, and he very gracefully stepped aside, creating a win-win situation. Thank God for his good sense. We need more people like him in this world and hope that he leads the life of his choice and finds his own happy ending.