She was walking on the shore, to ease morning sickness. Joanna could stand no more even her favourite perfume – sage, basil and crushed roses – but sea tangy smell always made her feel better, and roaring billows and sharp seagulls shrieks were to her more agreeable than music.
Joanna Lannister loved the sea.
The twins were lying on a rock, naked. Stark-naked, both of them. It was about time her daughter learnt how to behave properly: and lady Cersei was getting the first spanking of her life, no matter what her father would say. Lord Tywin didn't approve of old school discipline system.
“Our children should understand their responsibilities, not act out of fear, like beaten dogs. And I'm going to believe Jaime will hardly ever fear anything at all.” A proud smile only she could detect as such was dawning on his impassive countenance.
“You can't tame a Lion with no whip.”
“I don't want them to be tame, clawless Lions.”
It was the closest they came to a quarrel, when Jaime would dive from Casterly Rock jutting cliffs into the frothing sea below, and Cersei was so death-scared she came to her parents, and spilt her twin's secret, which she would never do under any threat.
Lady Joanna drew nearer; and gasped: the twins were not just lying, but playing with each other's bits.
She had to part them soon, before they understood what they were doing, before they proceeded any further, before anyone knew.
Move Cersei's chambers close to hers own, and Jaime to the opposite side of the castle. Guarded gates, Jaime no more allowed in the women wing that Cersei couldn't leave. No one would ask, the orders she gave were Tywin's ones; no one would object.
She gagged. Her second pregnancy was getting worse than the awful first one, when she bore the twins.
Her husband didn't wish for other children, but she did.
“Joanna, we have already two wonderful kids. According to maesters, a second pregnancy would be too dangerous to you, after birthing the twins. I will not risk your health. If - the Seven forbid it – anything happens to you, I'll never marry again; if you leave me, I'll grow a lonely grumpy old man. We don't need other children, but I need you, Joanna. Someone knowing me since we were children; someone I can fully trust. You I can entrust with Casterly Rock rule while I'm at King Aerys's court; my House, my family, my children depend on you; I rely on you for my own peace.”
The Seven knew how much Tywin Lannister, Mad King Aerys's Hand, needed his home untroubled peace. Most husbands took everything for granted, but Tywin was different: he was grateful, and fully acknowledge her role, better than other men even in that. In Lannisport, her voice was his voice, and she held sway on the Westerlands as her old friend, now ruling Princess, on Dorne.
“Two axes are better than one; and three are better still.”
He seldom did, but she always managed to make Tywin smile.
“I've a perfect wife, two perfect children, and a perfect household; all that I owe to you, Joanna. I couldn't handle any more perfection.”
“Too much perfection: I'm longing for the mess, the wails and the bawls of a pure blood newborn baby: I feel lonesome when you're away.”
Lord Tywin, Mad King Aerys's Hand, ruled the Seven Kingdom; but Lady Joanna, his wife, ruled on him.
She was happily with child once again.
During her first pregnancy, she didn't voice her worries; she couldn't add new doubts to her husband's burden. He might even have suspected something, but she never allowed him to ask. She should have called for moon tea, but no doubt maester Pycelle would tell the King, and she didn't want him to know; and odds were against him.
Both she and Tywin realized how Aerys lusted for her; and risk thrilled their senses, and fear made their love deeper and the urge to protect each other stronger, as they were hopeless lovers dancing on an ice blade over a gaping abyss. They were indeed married, but holding high offices at the Red Keep could be that dangerous, and often Joanna wondered if Aerys's lust was just lust for her, or a mad plot to frame Tywin: the King at the same time needed and hated his Hand for needing him.
When the twins were born flawless, and grew golden and beautiful, true Lannister Lions, everything turned as unreal as past nightmares.
Now forgotten ghosts were taking new life and real flesh. Neither she could tell her husband; he couldn't leave his office, and travelling to King's Landing was too dangerous for her and the baby; nor could she write about what she barely dared to admit to herself, and commit to ravens black wings their House double shame.
She herself couldn't be sure. She could only hope, and pray the Seven for a baby boy, as strong and as shrewd as his father.
Their children were so alike: Cersei a true lioness, Jaime a bit dreamy, and could pass as a girl, with his delicate features, and both so charming – just like... She struggled to forbid herself the very thought.
She had to deal with the matter herself. She wrote to Sunspear and asked her friend the Princess to arrange a marriage with her own children. Maybe a bit too old for the twins, but Cersei was a lioness, and taming her was not a boy's job; as for Jaime, he was rash, and often would not think by himself, considering it his sister's toil; he would accept a wiser and older woman guidance.
Oberyn Martell was not the husband most mothers would like for their daughters and Elia was likely too frail to bear healthy children and thus not a suitable wife for a first-born son; but in the present case, flaws could turn into merits.
Lord Tywin, even if he had others plans, could not refuse a double marriage with House Martell: they were Princes, only a step below the Targaryens, and Dorne enjoyed home rule. He would instead praise her sound judgement for the prestige such a wedding would bestow.
Most of all, she had to act quickly.
She gave birth to a baby boy. They wouldn't let her see him, but from the shrieks she heard he was healthy, strong and clinging to life.
Joanna was dying, but she had to tell her husband first.
She claimed him, gibbering in delirious fever fits.
“Come hither, my love, but come soon.”
“You have a true born pure blooded son now. I myself couldn't tell if the twins are yours or Aerys's bastards. For our House sake, in either case, they must be parted, and marry as soon as possible; I know you'll love them all the same, in my memory; but you'd better grant Casterly Rock to our latest son.”
“Come to me, please, come quickly.”
She clung to life with strengths long before lost.
Her husband was standing before her. His dress is dingy, his blonde hair dirty and unkempt, red rimmed and dark marked eyes, a stubbly beard, dust and sweat soiling his face. The same Lord Tywin, renowned for being immaculate even on the battlefield: he hasn't slept in days; he has killed his best steeds with fatigue to come to her.
To Joanna, her haggard husband is wonderful, more powerful than the Father and stronger than the Warrior; he looks more beautiful than ever.
“A son” She whispers. “Couldn't tell myself.” Her voice fails. “Bastards or yours.”
She can speak no more.
I told you, love. Now I can die.