“Father! Father!” The tail of Cersei’s dress made wild whooshing sounds as she ripped down the stone halls of Casterly Rock. She moved easily in the corset, the long sleeves, the painful shoes. Cersei was a highborn and furthermore a Lannister; it was her duty to be graceful. Tracking her father down the hallway, she thought nothing of this though. Despite her hours of training and studies in the art of “being a lady”, Cersei never thought it very important. Thankfully, grace came to her naturally. It stuck to her and drew people near her. She was truly a sight to be seen; long blonde hair (of course) and eyes that could strike fear in even the bravest of Sers. Lady Cersei Lannister was a natural victor. Thus, she conquered the easy art of Ladyship and seemed well kept while ripping through corridors despite it never once crossing her mind.
Finally she came to the front of the castle. Dozens of horses ridden by men in golden armor awaited the command of Lord Tywin Lannister, hand to Aerys II Targaryen, the Mad King. The great lion had only been home for a couple days, a blessing is Cersei’s mind. She rarely saw her father, and on the off chance she did, it was not as though he swooped her into his arms and kissed her cheek with sweet longing. His only daughter. The last lioness. Second best to swords and shields and sons.
A nine year old Cersei looked lost below the Lannister cavalry men. She spun in circles, looking for the man with eyes just as hers. She licked her lips in determination, pushing up her sleeves as she walked through a clearing in the soldiers. Each one she passed cast an amused smirk through their helmets. They’d never say one cross word of their Lord’s daughter, but each expression read the same:
Not more than three years ago, however, most of the men scarcely would have guessed that the wild head of golden hair meandering her way through them was a girl at all. Cersei with the sharp tongue. Cersei with the strong voice. Cersei with the gumption to take on a giant. Cersei with the decency to cover these traits (now) with smiles and curtsies and “why thank you, it’s a lovely gown.”
Many things had changed in Cersei’s youth and she felt herself still evolving. Every day, she became a little less like herself and a little more like the person she was expected to be.
“Fath—“ the word slipped through her throat eagerly, but caught at the sight of the lion himself. “Father!” She shrieked. Cersei broke into a run and settled nicely next to Tywin, clad in untouched golden metal.
Bewilderment crossed his face. The last thing you expected to see before riding to King’s Landing was a small girl. “Cersei, you’re supposed to be inside with the servants.”
“I wanted to see you off.” There was a spark of hope in her; the type of hope that yearned for stability. Cersei wished this was an unusual occasion, like she hadn’t seen this dozens of times before. But it wasn’t, and she had.
“Alright…” Tywin seemed lost in his encounter. This thing in front of him was alien; this spitting image of his face and spirit. How did one handle… daughters?
Collecting himself, he placed a firm hand on her shoulder. It was covered with armor, the finest one could own. He shook her lovingly… awkwardly. “Goodbye. I’ll be back soon. I promise.”
Cersei bit her tongue. She remembered one of her most important lessons: A lady is seen not heard. A gift for the eyes, not ears. Had she not been so dutiful to her lady lessons, she could have protested “but it won’t be back soon, and you’ll only stay for a few days, and you never spend them with me!”
Rather, Cersei turned her pink lips upwards convincingly and presented what felt was like a smile. She nodded and batted her eyelashes.
“Keep your little brother safe while Jaime and I are away.”
Something heavy dropped in Cersei’s stomach. It fell from her chest. She thought it was her heart.
“Jaime is going with you?”
“It’s time for him to see King’s Landing.”
“Why can’t I go?”
A cross expression washed over Lord Tywin. Seen not heard, Cersei thought to herself. It was not her place to ask. Father knows best. I don’t belong with the men. But still, she roared with the curiosity and ambition and hunger that every lioness should.
She was--of course--a lioness first, lady second. That would never change about Cersei.
Tywin licked his lips. “It’s not your place.” He cleared his throat. From the corner of his eye he saw one of his men try and catch his attention. They were all ready to go. The Mad King called. Meeting his daughter’s eyes again, he saw a desire in them that belonged to only the bravest of Sers. Tywin swallowed. Why in seven hells did he deserve a daughter such as this? A headstrong woman was the worst type there was… more so than an ugly one. “You’re a lady, not a knight as Jaime will be someday. And a lady’s place is inside with her studies and her knitting and children. You know this, Cersei. Don’t be difficult; it’s not becoming of you. Go back inside. Now.”
Tywin's hand slid from his daughter’s shoulder to fall back to the hilt of his sword that hung from his waist. Cersei sunk into herself. Row upon row of men followed each other behind Lord Tywin Lannister, Lord Paramount of the Westerlands, Hand to the King, and the richest man in the Seven Kingdoms.
His daughter was left alone, dust behind the horse’s hooves.