Jaime stalked through the camp, his gaze falling sharply on the bustle of war. He wondered, idly, how long his father had been mustering for a conflict such as this, full battle rather than sending his dogs to pillage and play. All of his life, perhaps. He stepped to the side as a squire led a charger past, their collected plate rattling over the trot.
His tent was mere paces from his father's, marked by the Lannister banner stitched onto the side. He pushed the tent flaps aside and entered, draping his cloak over the stand near his pallet. He breathed deep, smelling smoke and horseshit and sharpening steel. He let loose a breath and looked around the tent until his gaze settled on the heavy trunk opposite him. He hadn't bothered to bring anything from King's Landing; he'd ridden out without any baggage but his guard and his white armor, bundled away until he could resume his anointed duties.
The trunk was packed with tunics, with gloves and trousers and the miscellany that Jaime never considered. He thrust his hand into the folded cloth, his nails snagging on fine thread. Fuss and muss, he called it, and Tyrion would smirk at him, because Jaime liked a fine line as much as Cersei did.
He settled on the piled rugs and leaned his head back, letting weariness seep into his limbs for the first time since the messenger had brought word of Tyrion's capture. Crimson had glazed his gaze then, and he'd barked out for someone to find out where Stark was, and never mind which spies belonged to whom. He'd met Lady Stark and seen the curl of her lip; there was more of the Blackfish in her than her father, he knew. She would treat a prisoner fairly, but war was different from family, and his brother was frail. So he had found Stark in front of a whorehouse and thought to send the wolves a warning.
The boy had been light, a mere feather of guilt against Cersei's fear. Nothing like Stark, whose strikes, slow as they were, had been heavy enough to rattle Jaime's bones. He'd been a half-dozen blows away before the guard had interrupted, a half-dozen blows away from freeing Tyrion, or perhaps avenging him.
There was wine waiting, if he bothered to stand--wine and bread and venison, fresh-killed. Jaime took a deep breath and pulled dispassion round his shoulders again.
After the evening repast had been cleared away--the venison had been peppered lightly, and strewn with rosemary--Kevan unrolled a map of the Seven Kingdoms across the table. Jaime eyed the borders even as the others laid down markers of marshaled forces. There were too many rivers between Casterly Rock and King's Landing; too many riverlords between him and Cersei. Never enough to stop him, of course, but the delay would irritate.
He raised his empty goblet, and some squire or another filled it with wine, watered well. It was a sour wine, not like the honeyed swill of King's Landing. He drank deep as the others argued about the will of the Starks and the Tullys, about damned Frey and his poxy sons. The names had meant little to Jaime for so long. His time in court had been mazed by the intricacies of declined invitations, entendre-laden jabs, and raised eyebrows. He had had little patience for it, despite Cersei's rapture with them. (He was always more interested in rapture of a different kind, for her.)
If he needed a subtler tool than his own reputation, Tyrion had always provided him with the leverage needed, whether a forgotten page of history or an unwritten longing oft-unobserved. A sly word and a smirk between the two of them could make old lords bluster and little lordlings blush. Sometimes, with Cersei lending her own vicious glee, court became more of a game than a trial. Robert rolled his eyes, turned his nose up at them, true, but he was more likely to guffaw at their play than censor them.
Jaime closed his eyes and drank again, letting himself fall into the rhythm of strategy. It was clean, like drums and bridles and a well-placed blow. He opened his eyes to look at the map, and saw opportunities.
The host was his, and in this, perhaps, his father was correct: Jaime thrilled to this role like he did to no other. The jangling and bloodlust sang to him as he rose early, long before the sun did. In this, there was no dread, as he had felt each day waking as part of the Mad King's guard. There was no biting frustration, as he felt whenever Cersei's fair hand graced Robert's heavy arm. There was only the anticipation, deep in his belly, and the weighted pride that came with being a Lannister.
His squire lashed his sword belt around him, and Jaime felt whole. He flexed his hands as he pulled on his gauntlets and his knuckles cracked in the morning cold. Another lad held up a steaming goblet, wine mulled for the morning, and he took one sweet, burning gulp before handing it back. He knew the value of moderation, had been trained to it by his father and his brothers-in-arms.
This tent was larger than the last, close to a pavilion, and the minor lords nodded to him as he strode into the larger space beyond his quarters. A messenger, standing to the side, handed him a scroll, impeccably rolled. Jaime glanced at the waxen seal, and then again, with a smile. Ignoring the gathered nobility, he broke seal and read the message, brief and wry.
"Well, my lords," Jaime said finally, handing the scroll back to the messenger with a nod, "it seems my brother has seen fit to rescue himself." He ignored the variations of surprise they voiced and stepped forward to the plans scrabbled over the map before him. "Let's hope the Young Wolf isn't so impressive as that."
The lords gathered closer, and they watched as Jaime planned their war.