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Our Marvellous Inheritance

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i. Cersei Lannister

It had been done before. The maester could be convinced to lie, the midwives and servants, too.

If Lord Tywin said that his son had been born first, and it was the girl who'd dragged herself into this world by holding onto her brother's foot, then that was the way it had been.

But Joanna would not hear of it, his lady wife had known what was in Tywin's mind before he could give voice to his thoughts.

"Cersei was born first, Tywin," she'd said, in a voice that was cracked and hoarse from screaming through the birthing pains, a voice that brooked no argument. "Cersei was born first, and by all the laws of Gods and men she is your heir."

Aye. All the laws of Gods and men, at least since Daeron II had decided he must bring Dorne into his realm even if it meant adopting the Dornish law of inheritance throughout Westeros.

Tywin looked from his wife, who'd fallen into a deep and much needed sleep, to the cradle into which the twins had been placed.

He reached in and picked up Cersei, who squirmed and beat her tiny fists, causing Tywin to smile despite himself. Her removal set her brother to fussing, and Tywin quelled him with a look... and by letting the boy take hold of the little finger of his free hand.

Tywin's son didn't officially have his name yet; Joanna wished to name him Jaime, Tywin liked Tyrion for a name. In his heart of hearts, Tywin knew the boy would be called Jaime. They could always name their next boy Tyrion.

Lord Tywin held Cersei against his chest and bent his mouth to her fuzzy golden head.

"Cersei Lannister, Lioness of the Rock, you are my acknowledged heir by all the laws of Gods and men." Tywin lowered his voice to be sure of not disturbing his wife's rest and whispered into his daughter's tiny ear, "Shall I tell you a secret, little lioness? But you must never tell your mother... I wish you'd been born with a cock."

 

ii. Catelyn Tully

The betrothal had been arranged when they were both little more than children; the heir to Riverrun was a good match for Lord Rickard's second son.

The more he visited Riverrun and she Winterfell, the more pleased Cat found herself becoming with solemn-faced, kind-hearted Eddard Stark.

"Call me Ned," he'd told her, when they'd met on the eve of their betrothal, a quiet boy surrounded and somewhat overshadowed by his rambunctious siblings.

Cat had been looking forward to becoming call-me-Ned's wife and bringing him to her bed.

But that had been before Lyanna had been taken, before the Mad King had killed Ned's father and brother and Ned unexpectedly found himself the lord of Winterfell.

Before they found themselves sitting in Riverrun's Godswood in quiet misery.

"You have a brother," Cat suggested, hopelessly.

"Benjen's just a boy, and of a mind to take the black." Ned looked at the leaves beneath his boots and said, "You have a brother and sister, both."

"Edmure is younger even than Benjen. In any case, Lysa is the elder and my heir until I have a child of my own. And Lysa is--" Cat paused here. Ned may still be an ally but he was no longer to be her family, she should take care not to talk of Riverrun's weaknesses "--Lysa is not well suited to ruling."

"So this is it?"

"Perhaps it's for the best," Cat suggested sadly. "I think your heart belongs to the North, Ned Stark, I'm not sure you would ever have been truly at home in the Riverlands."

"Perhaps not, but I think I would have been happy by your side."

Catelyn stood and Ned followed suit. "Farewell, Lord Stark," she said.

"Farewell, Lady Tully," for a moment Ned looked like he might say something else, then he turned and left the Godswood.

Cat sat back down, willing the tears not to come.

Ned would return North, rule Winterfell, marry the daughter of a Northern house, and sire a litter of wolf pups.

A different match would be made for Catelyn, and she would stay at Riverrun and learn from her father's rule. And one day she would be Lady Paramount of the Riverlands.

Right now that was not much of a comfort.

 

iii. Asha Greyjoy

The Wolf Lord had come for Theon, that's what everyone said. He had taken Lord Balon's other sons and now he'd come for the last.

Truly, Asha did not grieve overmuch for Rodrik and Maron. Rodrik had nearly taken her hand off when teaching her the finger dance and laughed about it, and Maron had forced her to watch the rape of a serving girl, saying she needs must get used to such sights if she wished to become a reaver.

But she would miss Theon, she thought.

"I don't want to go," Theon said, clinging to Asha's hand where they were huddled outside one of Pyke's towers, sheltering from the wind as best they could. Just across the rope bridge the Wolf Lord and their father were sequestered in his solar. "Asha, don't let them take me."

Asha untangled herself from Theon and told him to wait. She crept across the rope bridge; usually she and Theon raced fearlessly over these bridges, and it was only as she went slowly enough to not alert anyone to her presence that she realised how far above the sea it was, how perilously it swayed in the wind.

Having reached the other side safely she crouched beneath the window and heard her father. "No," he said, but his voice lacked its usual resolve.

"Yes," said another voice, the Wolf Lord. He sounded like all the waves of Ironman's Bay could break over him and he would remain implacable, this one.

Asha did not envy Theon one bit.

"The boy..." her father said. "My last boy."

"The boy is not your heir. When you bent the knee to Robert you promised me your heir as a ward--"

"A hostage!"

"The girl is your heir."

"Only because you killed my first two sons!" her father spat, sounding almost like his old self. His king-self, Asha thought it.

But it made no difference to the Wolf Lord, who merely said, "Have the girl ready to sail upon the morrow."

Asha shrank down. She wanted to throw herself into the sea, to race back across the bridge and cling to Theon and beg him not to let the wolves take her, to shove her little brother at the stranger as an offering: take him, not me!

But she would do none of these things. Asha was a Greyjoy, and as the Wolf Lord had just reminded her she was heir to the Iron Islands now.

She would not let the wolves see that they frightened her.

 

iv. Myrcella Baratheon

I'm sorry, sweetling, Cersei thought, but you can be a queen in Dorne.

Ever since the days of Daeron II there have been men who opposed the new laws of inheritance, and most of these were like Mace Tyrell, men with an overabundance of sons.

Cersei imagined that if Lord Tyrell ever found himself in danger of Highgarden going to a Florent because he couldn't pass it on to Margaery then he'd come around to the Dornish way of doing things quickly enough.

Gods, Cersei hated the Tyrells, but she was surrounded by enemies on every side and desperately needed allies.

Myrcella's betrothal should have won her the alliance of the Dornish, but the Dornish army was small, and most damningly of all, it was in Dorne. And you couldn't move in King's Landing at the moment without tripping over a Tyrell, or one of their equally insufferable bannermen.

Cersei needed Mace Tyrell, and he wanted one thing only, a queenship for his daughter. Abolishing a law he despised would only be the cherry on top.

Lord Tyrell frowned, taking another sip of wine. "I thought Princess Myrcella was Joffrey's heir."

It didn't escape Cersei's notice that he called her princess, not Queen Myrcella or Her Grace, even though the crown had passed to her the instant Joffrey had stopped breathing.

"My daughter is far away." Cersei curved her palm around Lord Tyrell's arm, leaned into him and said, "These are troubled times, my lord, times for kings, not queens."

"You would restore the traditional laws of inheritance?"

Cersei shrugged girlishly, and wished again that poisoning his wine goblet had been an option. "Not I, but I'm sure King Tommen could be brought around to your way of seeing things."

I'm sorry, sweetling, Cersei thought, praying for forgiveness from both Myrcella and Tommen.

 

v. Sansa Stark

Weak as she was, Sansa caught her foot climbing from the saddle and landed heavily on her knees in the snow.

"It's a girl," said one of the riders who'd met them on the road. Between the blizzard and Sansa's own hunger and exhaustion she didn't recognise the sigil they bore.

She'd learned them all, of course, the houses of the North. All the Stark children had, but Sansa more so than her younger siblings, as she was the second born and next in line to Winterfell after Robb. She hadn't paid enough attention to her lessons, she knew. Back then the idea of a world without her father had seemed ridiculous, a world without both her father and Robb unimaginable.

"I'm not a girl," said Sansa, as Brienne dismounted and fought her way through the snow to aid Sansa to her feet. Brienne's firm grip on her elbow cleared Sansa's head and a brief lull in the storm allowed her to get a proper look at the banners the men carried.

A bear... Bear Island... Mormonts...

Sansa's lessons came back to her, all at once. She was sitting under Maester Luwin's stern yet kindly gaze, Robb next to her, both of them itching to get away from this lesson, Robb to his swordplay and Sansa to her sewing, and neither of them able to remember the Mormont words.

"Here We Stand," said Sansa.

"Aye, my lady," said one of the Mormont men, who Sansa suddenly realised was a Mormont woman, "here we stand."

"I'm not a lady," said Sansa. "I'm--"

"Your Grace, are you sure?" Brienne whispered fiercely.

More forgotten lessons came back to Sansa; Jorah Mormont had been a traitor, but Jeor led the Nights Watch, her father had always trusted Lady Maege, and Robb had taken Dacey as one of his personal guard.

Anyway, Sansa was sure. She had been running from her title for far too long; sobbing, "my brother was a traitor and I am no queen," as Joffrey's kingsguard beat her with mailed fists, trying to go far away inside her head when Petyr had whispered Your Graces into her ear as his hands crawled over her skin like spiders.

Even after Brienne had spirited her away from Littlefinger the lady knight had called her Your Grace or Queen Sansa in private, my lady or Alayne wherever they might be heard. Sometimes Brienne stumbled over Sansa's different names, the same way her own squire stumbled over his sers and ladys.

"I'm no girl, and no lady," said Sansa, fighting down a bubble of relieved, hysterical laughter. "I'm Robb Stark's heir, the Queen in the North."