Do Couples That ‘Burn Together’ Truly Love Each Other?

Daemon Targaryen is the epitome of a morally gray character, but that doesn’t mean he’s entirely without the ability to love.

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In House of the Dragon, there are no real good guys and bad guys. Spoiler alert: both sides are going to commit many a war crime by the time the show ends. What makes the show worth watching, then, is the fact that both sides also have humanizing elements.

Alicent truly does love her children, there are close bonds between all of Rhaenyra and Daemon’s children, and losses are felt keenly by both the Greens and the Blacks. Does that extend even to the most violent, power-hungry, and morally gray of them all: Daemon Targaryen.

Can the Rogue Prince love?

Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen at their Valyrian wedding

Daemon spent the better part of season 1 manipulating the pieces around the Iron Throne to get close to Rhaenyra. When the uncle/niece pairing finally came together in a traditional Valyrian wedding, it was surely everything he had dreamed of, finally getting to be with the woman he’d loved since she was a child (don’t think about that too much).

So surely he does love her then? Well, fans began to question that when in the first season’s finale, Rhaenyra’s reveal that Viserys had trusted her with a prophecy as the heir that he never shared with his own brother and one-time heir, he grabbed her by the throat and choked her. It went on for long enough to leave her gasping at the end. Perhaps most alarmingly of all, she didn’t seem shocked by his actions, suggesting it’s not the first time.

This came after Daemon left Rhaenyra alone to birth a stillborn child. It’s also not the first time he’s committed violent acts, just the first against her. Lest we forget he smashed the head in of his first wife, and quite literally killed the messenger when receiving unwelcome news from his brother.

Warning: spoilers ahead for season 2 of House of the Dragon.

Looking at season 2, there’s more concerning evidence of the tense relationship between the pair. Rhaenyra is absent for much of episode 1 of the second season, searching for the remains of her son. Daemon seems annoyed by this, rather than understanding, arguing with Rhaenys that the Queen should return and seek revenge.

However, when she does finally return, they share a moment in front of her council that could be read as either tender or aggressive. Their heads are close together, she appears to lean on him, and he asks her if she found what she’s looking for. When she only replies, ‘I want Aemond Targaryen’, Daemon embarks on a vicious scheme to ensnare Aemond at first but seemingly any Green prince.

If they would kill for you, does that equal love? In the real world, absolutely not. In the twisted fictional world of Daemon Targaryen? Probably.

Time and again, Daemon has been shown to be motivated by his belief in the strength of the Targaryen family, his loyalty to his House, and (in a twisted way) his love for his family, particularly those closest to him: Viserys and Rhaenyra. In the only way that Daemon can, he does seem to love Rhaenyra and will do near anything to fulfil her wishes and see her on the Iron Throne—if only because he sees himself in her.

They are, as Rhaenyra says, two sides of the same coin. They both embody the fierce pride and Valyrian fire of House Targaryen. In her, he sees the future of their House—and he loves it.

(featured image: Max)

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