Genna accidentally dropped the needle into her sewing basket.
“Seven bloody Hells, Emm!” she cursed to the empty room. “Mend your own clothing!”
She could have gotten another needle out, but her stubborn streak wouldn’t let her. She set the doublet aside and went digging for the needle, pulling out spools of thread and embroidery hoops, setting aside odds and ends she had collected over the years. Most of it should have been thrown out long ago.
She was almost to the very bottom when she saw it. Her needle with its tail of red thread rested on a remnant of blue silk, the color of cornflowers.
(the summer sky)
“How have you remained hidden here for so many winters?”
Genna picked it up carefully, tracing the crimson thread against the blue fabric.
“Who will help us now, Tywin?” she whispered. “Who will help me now?”
Tywin will help me, Genna thought desperately. Her mother was seven years dead, and her cousins gossiped. She didn’t know who else to trust. My brother will keep my secret. He will keep me safe.
She ran through the halls to her brother’s room. The blue silk of her skirts quickly became tangled around her legs, so she hiked them above her knees, praying that she would not meet her septa along the way.
The corridors were empty, though. A white raven from the Citadel had arrived last night, to announce that summer was here at last. Almost everyone was gone from the Rock today, swimming in the ocean or basking in the warmth of the summer sun. Tywin wouldn’t be, though. Even if everyone else had gone down to the beach, he would be alone in his room at this hour, in study.
But when Genna pushed open the heavy redwood door, she felt her heart sink into the twisting pit of her stomach. Of course Tywin isn’t alone. How could I have been so stupid? She had forgotten that her father had held court that morning. Tywin held his own court now, expecting his siblings to attend him.
Seated behind his desk, Tywin at fifteen looked more a lord than their father at forty. Tygett stood on Tywin’s left, leaning over the desk to look at what their eldest brother was intent on writing. They were arguing. Kevan was seated across from Tywin, his back to the doorway she stood in. Only Gerion was absent.
No one noticed her.
Flee. The thought rose up in her like a bird taking wing. Not just this room, but this keep, this House, this life. Then Tywin glanced up, his green eyes catching her. You are no bird, Genna. She entered and closed the door, but remained near it, her back to the wall.
Tyg slammed his fist down on the desk, making her jump. “…Hells, Tywin, I’m not arguing with you! I agree that the situation is dire. But you were wrong to stand up before the entire court and tell our father he was a fool. Even if he is.”
“What would have been wrong, my dear brother, would have been to let those … those sheep believe I condoned Father’s latest folly.” Tywin threw his quill down in disgust, and stood up. “He actually seems to think this new loan will appease Lord Reyne. That grasping bastard will not be appeased until all the gold in Casterly Rock is his.”
Genna didn’t know what to do. She considered interrupting. She clutched the fabric of her dress instead.
Kevan reached for the papers Tywin had been scribbling on. “Perhaps it all will be his.” He studied what was written on them. “If your accounting is correct, Tywin, and if Father continues as he has…. In ten years, we’ll be ruined.”
Count yourself lucky, Kevan. Some of us don’t have ten years.
Tyg and Tywin began to argue again, and only Genna heard the soft click as the door opened slightly. Little Gerion peaked into the room. He noticed her right away, and smiled his most charming smile. “Sweet sister,” he said softly, “I know Lann stole gold from the sun for our hair, but how did you manage to steal the summer sky for your new dress?”
Genna looked down at herself, and almost gave in to despair. Blue was one of the colors of House Frey. Her husband’s house. Why did this have to happen? Why?
“Have you finally decided to grace us with your presence, Gerion?” Tywin asked sharply, “Or do you have more important business to attend to?”
Gerion pushed the door open fully. “Never, Tywin.” His eyes twinkled with laughter as he bowed gracefully before their brother, flourishing his crimson cloak. The sand clinging to its hem barely spoiled the effect. “I wouldn’t miss one of your little parties for the world.” He boosted himself up to sit on top of the desk, meeting Tywin’s glare with another smile.
Tywin chose to ignore him and returned to the papers he was perusing. “Genna.” He spoke without looking up. “I have need of you. Come and look over my figures.”
Genna stayed where she was, refusing to move. She couldn’t serve him right now. He is the lord. He has a duty to us. To me. She couldn’t find any words, though. Her eyes were wet.
“Genna. Come here.” It was a command this time.
Kevan turned and opened his mouth to speak, but whatever reprimand her little brother planned to give was forgotten when he finally saw her. “Tywin.” Her eldest brother finally looked up, finally saw the hunted look on her face and the tears in her eyes. They were all staring at her now. She didn’t know whether to feel relief, or merely to cry harder.
“Why are you crying, Genna?” Tywin approached her, the other three following, until they all surrounded her.
“Please,” she whispered. Now that she finally had the chance to speak, she felt like her throat had closed up, and she didn’t know what to say. “Please help me. Septa Lorelle said that when I—” She choked back a sob. “I must— But I don’t want to—” She could barely speak under the intensity of Tywin’s gaze. “Please don’t let him. Please,” she begged, incapable of any more words.
“What in Seven Hells are you-” Tyg began, but Tywin held up two fingers for silence, never taking his eyes off of her. “Would you be kind enough to elaborate, Genna?”
She had nothing left. She turned to flee, as she should have done, but Kevan was blocking the door. She tried to push past him, but then Gerion startled her.
“Genna! How did you cut yourself?”
She looked behind her in horror. As she had waited for her brothers, the blood of her first flowering had seeped through her dress, leaving a crimson stain on the blue skirt.
“How did you manage to cut yourself, Genna?” Gerion asked again.
Genna would have laughed if she wasn’t crying.
“Be quiet, Gerion, and give me your cloak.” Tywin held his hand out without looking, remaining focused on her. I understand, Genna. It will be alright.
“But why does she need my cloak? She needs a maester.”
“As soon as you give me your cloak,” Tywin said impatiently, “You will run to the Maesters’ Corridor. Tell them I require one of them in the Lady Genna’s rooms.” He paused. “Not Maester Jorin. Bring Maester Alastor.” Alastor was as gentle and kind as Jorin was harsh and scolding.
Genna ran to Tywin, throwing her arms around his neck and burying her face in his broad chest as sobs racked her body. She was grateful for how strong, how solid he was.
His doublet was growing damp by the time he draped the crimson cloak around her shoulders. She could feel the warmth of his breath as he spoke quietly near her ear. “I will protect you, Genna. You may be his wife, but he will not touch you. Dry your tears. Have you ever seen a lion weep?”
She thought of another cloak, though, a blue one, trimmed with grey fur, that Emmon Frey had given her five years ago.
“But I’m not a lion!” she cried. “I’m not a Lannister! I’m a Frey!” She spat the name like a curse.
“Don’t be a fool,” he told her curtly. “You are a Lannister, Genna. You will always be a Lannister.”
She didn’t remember how they arrived at her room, only that her brother guided her. Kevan and Tyg remained outside, but she refused to let go of Tywin, so he accompanied her in. He went to her wardrobe. “Blue does not suit you.” He chose a dress, laying it on her bed. “This is your color, little sister. Crimson.”
A knock sounded at the door. “Enter,” he called.
Maester Alastor and two serving maids came in. The maester inclined his head. “Lord Tywin.” Genna could barely remember a time when her brother had not been addressed as lord. “How may I be of service?”
“The Lady Genna has had her first flowering.” Genna felt her cheeks redden at his blunt words. “Attend her. My lady,” her brother bowed slightly in her direction, “I shall await you without. Join me at your leisure.”
She didn’t want him to leave, but the maester was already speaking to her as Tywin stepped out. Then the women washed her and dressed her in the gown her brother had chosen. When she was finally alone in her room, she looked down at her dress, crimson now. The color of moonblood, Genna thought with disgust. She wasn’t sure it was an improvement over the blue silk.
She joined her brothers outside. Tywin offered her his arm, and led her down the corridor.
“Where are we going?”
“To pay a visit to Emmon Frey,” Tyg answered.
Genna tried to pull away from Tywin, but he held her arm too tightly. “I don’t wish to see him. Must we?”
“Yes. We must. Who are you, Genna?” Tywin asked.
“A Lannister,” she responded hesitantly, uncertain if it was really true. Her brother frowned, so she forced herself to sound more confident. “I am a lioness.” Even if she didn’t believe it, her words pleased Tywin.
“A lioness of Lannister has nothing to fear. You have my word.” They stopped in front of the door to her husband’s room. Tywin looked at his brothers. “As we discussed.”What was discussed? Before Genna could ask, Gerion knocked on the door and opened it without waiting for a reply.
Together they swept into the center of the room, where she looked upon her startled husband.
Nineteen year old Emmon Frey was everything that young Tywin Lannister was not. While Tywin was tall, muscled, and gleaming, Emm was short, scrawny, and dull.
“Lord Tywin! My lords, my lady, I … I was not expecting you to honor me with your company today. May I offer you some wine?”
“No, thank you, Emmon.” Tywin surprised her by dropping her hand and stepping away, leaving her to stand alone. “I came to tell you that your wife has flowered.”
Betrayed, feeling like a lamb led to the slaughter, Genna looked over at her brother in shock. Why? Why would you tell him?she wanted to ask. But Tywin wasn’t looking at her. Foxlike, he studied Emmon Frey.
Emm seemed to be in just as much shock as she, but he recovered more quickly. “Thank you, Lord Tywin. I appreciate your coming to tell me. Very much.” When Tywin said nothing, Emm’s eyes fell on her. She saw greed in them. Greed, and something else she didn’t recognize. It made her wary.
Emm came over to her. Even if he was shorter than Tywin, her husband was still a hand taller than she. Genna refused to look up at him. I will give you nothing freely, Emmon Frey. Take what you want. If you can. He tilted her chin up to look into her face. “I hope you’ll dine with me tonight, my lady.”
“I regret that I have a prior engagement, my lord,” she lied. “One of my cousins invited me to join her at the bonfires on the beach tonight.”
“Then come to see me after.”
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Tywin make a small gesture, but she counted on nothing from her brothers now.
“W-why, my lord? I am afraid I would be rather tired at such a late hour, and a poor companion to you.”
“I doubt that.” His face was so close to hers that she thought he intended to kiss her. She pressed her lips together and squeezed her eyes shut.
And then suddenly the room erupted in shouting. Someone pushed her backwards, and she would have fallen had Kevan’s quick hands not caught her.
She opened her eyes to see Tyg holding Emm with his arms behind his back, while Tywin pressed a knife to the man’s throat.
“Have you all gone mad? That’s my wife!”
“Wrong. That’s my sister.” Genna had heard that quiet tone before, but never had Tywin’s voice sounded so cold. His face was only inches away from Emmon’s. “You seem to think you can play with something of mine. You can’t. So let us be clear. If you ever bed my sister against her wishes, I will cut off your cock.” A wet spot formed on Emm’s breeches, and Genna wrinkled her nose at the smell.
“If you ever hurt my sister in any way, I will take this knife … and I will ram it into your skull.”
Do it, brother, a dark stranger inside her whispered. Why do you speak of “if’s” to the guilty? When his shackles left my ankles bloody before I ever learned to run? When he weighed me down and broke my back before I ever stood as straight and tall as you? When he murdered my burnished future and ground my golden dreams to dust? Do it.
Perhaps the voice wasn’t such a stranger to Tywin Lannister.
He pressed the knife harder against Emm’s throat. A tiny trickle of red began to drip down the blade. Genna licked her lips. Her heart was pounding, her breaths quick and short. This is your color, little sister. Crimson. She couldn’t have looked away, even if she had wanted to.
When next Tywin spoke, his quiet words fell like winter stones. “Show anything but the utmost respect for my lioness of Lannister, and I will go to war on your miserable House … and I will kill - every - last - one of you.”
Genna felt the floor beneath her feet tremble in that moment, or so she would say in later years. If anyone else had made such a threat, she would have laughed at the boastful fool. But Tywin Lannister was not a fool to be laughed at. She believed.
Tywin finally removed his knife from Emm’s throat. He wiped the blade clean on her husband’s shirt, leaving a crimson stain. “Release him.” Tywin sheathed the knife, beginning to turn away.
Emmon sighed in relief, a great gust of air that Genna wouldn’t have believed possible from such a small man. Tywin pivoted sharply, punching Emmon hard in the stomach. Emm sank to his knees, gasping for a breath that wouldn’t come.
Her brother didn’t spare the lord of Frey a second glance. He looked only at her. See, little sister? I told you a Lannister has nothing to fear. You are a Lannister, Genna. You will always be a Lannister. She beamed at him. He nodded in acknowledgement before drawing himself upright, the courteous lord once more. “Now that everything is clear here … If you would accompany me to my solar, Genna, I still wish you to look over my figures. Bid your lord husband good day, my lady.”
“Good day, my lord.” Genna curtsied in Emm’s general direction. If it so happened that the lord of Casterly Rock was in that direction, well, Genna thought that was all the better.
Tywin offered her his arm and escorted her from the room. She felt very much a Lannister on her brother’s arm. A lioness. She leaned against him as they walked, studying him out of the corner of her eye. His green eyes focusing on what was before them, Tywin remained oblivious. His thick golden hair was a perfect match to her own. She could feel hard muscle in the arm that she clung to, from his mornings spent sparring with Tygett. His shoulders were broad enough that Genna imagined he could carry the weight of Casterly Rock on them.
Everything that he is not.
Just for a moment, Genna wished that Tywin Lannister was not her brother.
Genna’s eyes were wet.
“There is too much dust in here,” she announced to the empty room, using the scrap of blue silk to wipe her eyes. “The servants do not clean well enough.”
Tywin was dead, his cloak of protection fallen away.
Who would protect her now?