She can be a lady when she wishes to be, the Warden of the West muses as he unrolls a fresh parchment.
The most prominent example that always comes to mind when Tywin considers his lady wife's manners is their wedding. Arya was beautiful then, in a dress finer than any queen’s, with a soft elegance in her steps that only experience brings. Even dressed as a bride, his new wife was a fierce thing, though she controlled it well and only someone who knew her as he did would have heeded any of the subtle changes in her body language. There had been some sadness, brought on by her sister’s almost apathetic distance – even Tywin had been surprised at how coolly they treated one another. More prominent, the Hand observed how Arya’s eyes narrowed when they met Cersei’s or glanced over the King. Tywin taught his young wife well enough to know she would not act on such baser animosity; instead she simply met their feigned smiles with one of her own and uttered half-respectful words, each holding a well-placed dagger underneath. There was no laughter, never laughter.
At some of the King's ruder japes, he half expected Arya to use the blade he knew was hidden in her bodice to tear his throat out – but she knew better. Fiery though Arya may be, she is far from daft; Tywin suffers no fools. On that long night, he had held his new wife’s hand beneath the table using his presence to calm her well-constrained tremors of rage. Just as he allows himself some relaxation when alone with her, she trusts him with her rare moments of weakness - ones she hides from everyone else. She is a stubbornly prideful thing, with her Stark blood - though she no longer shares the name - and refuses to allow emotion to publicly overwhelm her sense. It is more than most any other woman can say, including his daughter. Arya would sooner brood in silence than have others know her distress. If only half of the knights in Westeros shared his wife’s strength.
Arya’s concessions only go so far, as do his own, when it comes to public displays. Tywin refused to let the traditional bedding ensue; neither he nor Arya would have tolerated it. Some young brides might have been flattered at the attentions of so many well-bred young men, but Arya would sooner cut the hand from any drunken groper and he saw no reason to stop her. Instead, Tywin had taken her, alone, up the long, long stairwell at the top of the tower of the Hand where he keeps his private chambers. She had fumed the entire way up, mood still sour from the feast, and mumbled words about “mockery;” his new bride did not quite stomp, but it was close as she dared get.
When he undressed her – Arya was surprisingly bold, seemingly caring little that he saw her body in comparison to Joanna’s more shy and nervous bedding - she had taken his hands and refused to let him touch her meticulously styled hair. His wife had given him a playful smile, one that he also recognized as dangerous, and instead loosed her short locks unaided. As she did so, Arya had spoken offhandedly, like she might have if she requested tea: "The pins are poisoned."
The memory fills Tywin with fond exasperation, unfamiliar and even stiff; he barely remembers the last time he felt it.
Tywin often requests Arya’s thoughts on political and strategic matters and she shows no hesitation in telling him exactly who she believes is a fool or who is a threat - she’s quite keen about the latter. On other days, the young woman lurks in the dark corners of his office as he works and listens intently to reports and discussions; she hides her presence almost as well as the eunuch when she has will to. But most of all, Arya enjoys learning. History is a new passion of hers and she often requests books from the library – an interest only amplified by Kevan, who continually recommends specific titles. She does not read fanciful stories of knights and maids and songs, but instead she enjoys tactics, wars and impacting decisions, both good and bad.
A few days after their marriage, Tywin heard his brother’s query. Kevan had respectfully inquired on what she was reading and if she enjoyed tales of knights and their journeys, like her sister. An acceptable question, given her age, but Arya would have none of it. The lady's reply was almost insulted, but for Tywin's sake, she kept the displeasure from her voice. "They are tales falsified and exaggerated through retelling." She had declared in that willful tone of hers. "It's an insult to those men who lived in the ages; I prefer historical accuracy."
The Hand feels rare pride at the symbolic growth it represents, coming from the woman who once used the pseudonym Nymeria.
Arya is not the woman most expect a man like Tywin Lannister to marry; even his brother said as much. The commons know so little of him and he prefers to keep it that way; let them sing their songs and speak their jests, they slide over him as oil might water. What is most important, however, is that it gives his wife freedom and safety. He thought it peculiar at first, even horrifying, and finally disgraceful, when he learned that she sometimes binds her breasts and wears the clothes of a man. She lowers herself as she speaks with the stableboys, the guards, the knights, listening to gossip in the kitchens and even sneaking throughout the Keep in that subtle way of hers. If Arya is ever recognized, he warns her, the person must die. His wife agrees, though she stubbornly proclaims she will end their lives with her own hand.
When she walks about as a woman, as his wife, Arya is friendly and open, with offers gifts of food and coin using foreknowledge from her more questionable forays. Her “acts of goodwill” earn the favor of the commons and lesser nobility – much like how Joanna once tempered any animosity in his subjects in the west. While Tywin does not bother with such futilities, he sees no harm in his wife’s growing influence.
The Hand’s chambers are large and dark so late into the evening, but his work is never done. Tywin sits before his large parchment-covered desk, quill in hand, his script stopped temporarily by musings of his wife after a painfully long day of false pretenses in the council chamber.
While he might have preferred silence in these moments of fatigue mere moons ago, he instead listens to his wife's breaths, heavy from prolonged exertion, as she dances on her toes with a small blade she commissioned – “For defense when I’m alone.” she argued, and he could hardly disagree with that. Her steps are barely audible in her water dancing, and even though she trains in his chambers, it is not disrupting; instead, he finds he enjoys Arya’s practice. Her heavy breaths almost hypnotize him and give him brief flashes of respite from his responsibilities; the way her body moves, tight clothes amplifying her curves, is appealing, but not overly so, and they are not intentionally worn to enhance her appearance. She speaks under her breath with each motion, words too faint to make out, but decidedly present. His wife murmurs the chant every night, before she drifts off to sleep; all of the words are muted and barely understandable - other than one:
When Tywin first defined the word from her whispers, only a few nights past as he rested beside her, he mused long and hard on what was meant by it. He had suspicions of course, such that her older sister told Arya about how Joffrey mistreated her and acted the an immature child in the process. The Hand does not blame her for such a grudge; the Stark name has been dragged through filth and Tywin knows it falls to Arya to redeem it – just as Tywin once redeemed the Lannister name from his father’s follies. Her elder sister does not hold the resolve and cunning within her to do such, so any affronts must be dealt with by the younger woman.
"Lady wife.” His voice breaks the silence between them and she stops her practice, startled. Said woman takes a few breaths, sheathes wraps her blade in its cloths, and walks over to his desk at the summons. "You speak the name of your king."
Shock passes over Arya’s features for a brief second before she composes herself with a flat mask, but worry still remains within. Her posture is stiff and tense when just a moment before it was liquid from her graceful dance; her eyes hold darkness in them as they meet his. She is unafraid, but he holds her gaze persistently and knows that she will break first.
Submit she does; her head briefly turns to the side in annoyance, rather than down in shame. The young woman clenches her jaw, but quickly looks back to him and leans in over the desk, so that she speaks quietly. Tywin moves in to meet her. Arya's whispers hold challenge that only she dares use on him, but with her intonation he expects honesty.
"He will bring ruin to the Kingdom." Identically to his just a moment before, his wife’s eyes dare him to defy her, drawing on the very rigidity he uses. Were she another person, man or woman, he might have had her head mounted on a spike for such insolence, but just as with Kevan he shows rare tolerance with his lady. The Lord respects her opinions on such matters, even when they clash with his own – which they do not, in regards to the child-king.
"He's still young." He speaks the same words he did when Tyrion confronted him on the subject. Joff would learn, just as Arya learned and Tyrion learned. "You control your fire; I will make certain he does as well." The Hand reassures her with certainty. Joffrey must be taught how to be a proper king and, if he refuses to acknowledge his lessons, Tywin will take the necessary steps to secure the future of his house and the Iron Throne. The conversation is over with his short declaration and Arya knows better than to press a subject that Tywin is in the midst of dealing with.
He will get no more work done this night, mood soured by the thoughts of the barbaric child. The Lord of Casterly Rock pushes himself up from his desk and offers his wife his hand. For a brief second she looks at it with an instinctive weariness, before she takes it, an uncharacteristically shy smile on her features as he leads her to their bed.