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Song of Steel

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Till last, Jaime didn’t deem it possible that he could regain balance by allowing for a loss of control, a loss of a hand, or rather, letting go of it after he tried to keep it in place with a golden hand with ornaments, as though those ornaments could fix the piece of metal to his arm.

Yet, here he is, inches from her who taught him this, who taught him the truth of the hand, the night so dark that it fashions them in a velvety cape to shield them of the world that lies beyond this room, this bed, only illuminated by the dim moonlight as though they were silver waves.

Jaime is a broken thing. That is a matter of fact. Yet, when he is close to her, or so he had to learn, Jaime doesn’t feel the fractures, doesn’t feel the wound still healing on his stump, a wound that reaches deeper than words would ever reach in turn. Because she is broken, too, just in other places. Because she knows what pain such a crack causes, after those fractures shook her, too. Even if it wasn’t for the loss of a limb, but for all the times people mocked her, mistreated her, called her a beast – and meant it. She knows this pain for having suffered loss, the loss of the one person who treated her kindly, who, even in her young years, treated her with the due respect, the due decency, who gave her a place in his Kingsguard to give her the life she always wanted to live, but was denied because of matters of her sex.

Jaime runs his stump over her side, exposed in the meagre moonlight shining through the window, painting the black a silvery blue by the edges, earning him goose bumps with no more than a single touch needed.

Like Valyrian steel.

He never thought she would be so soft to his touch, that his touch on her would be equally as soft. He thought that the journey had made them rough and untouchable. But they are able to touch each other.

To think that something so rough could be so fragile at the surface, and not just on the deep inside.

And to think that he would find himself marvelling at this by any chance, when Jaime used to marvel at the perfection of that one woman’s body who sits next to an iron chair holding no forgiveness. Because this woman his stump explores at this very second is not perfect according to general opinion, according to aesthetic taste, according to likely anyone else.

Just that Brienne seems to be the perfection for him ever since he claimed her lips and she claimed them back, since they claimed each other’s bodies, each other’s minds, maybe even souls, arriving at a truce that will always be a battle between two poles, a constant area of tension. Because that tension is vitalising, hopeful.

Since her eyes are an echo of that tension, of that calm, blue fire. Even if he can’t see them in the dark right now, hidden in the pitch black of the night, behind her eyelids, he still knows this fire to be burning.

At the same time, Jaime is caught up in the spell of her apparent ease, which only came to light when engulfed by darkness, when she simply let him hold her, letting go of the armour she uses as her shield, letting go of the last defences, and reveal the fragile pearl hidden within an oyster’s shell, and giving that pearl to him, even if it came with pain he kissed away. Others will never know how round she can become once she eases, once she lets go, once her shoulders drop the shoulder pads, the chain mail. They won’t ever know how moonlight illuminates her skin to the point that it is like Valyrian steel, is Valyrian steel. They won’t ever know her soft spots. Or how soft her rough spots can feel. And just how strong those rough and soft spots are, what power they hold.

And perhaps a little too selfishly, Jaime prides himself with it now. That this is his discovery. That he got to see it first. That she granted him to.

That he realised before it was too late and the shadows without blue hue consumed him entire, leaving him with nothing but a golden hand as a memorabilia of a love that ended long before he was ready to admit it to himself.

Though Jaime is still not sure what the future holds for either one of them, what lies beyond this room, this window, even this night.

Because Brienne still seeks to bring Sansa to safety. And Jaime doesn’t know if he will remain in the Kingsguard, or if he will be sent off to take over Casterly Rock. And if Sansa doesn’t go to Casterly Rock, then Brienne won’t go to Casterly Rock. And if he stays in the Kingsguard, then he puts her in danger by breaking his oath with her.

At some point Jaime already starts to miss the woods. Because in the woods, those rules did not apply. There was just them… well, them and the travelling companions and the Maester without chains, but they had no say, and had they dared to say anything at all, Jaime and Brienne both would have knocked their teeth out. But in the woods, there was no one to judge, there was no harm done in him marvelling at the Valyrian steel that is her body. There were no social conventions dictating the direction.

There was just one direction, ahead. And in that ahead, they drifted to each other, no matter how hard they tried and will likely always try to push against each other.

Because they are still bloody bullheads – and that won’t ever change.

Yet, this is not the woods, this is his chamber, just like it is her sleeping next to him now.

And as selfish as it is, Jaime would love to keep her right there, in this light without light, in the black of the night that is blue on her skin, shining like silver, like steel. Because it leaves him at a peace he has never felt before, a peace that seems to be great enough to even force the tension out of Brienne’s shoulders, muscles, bones, soul.

Because Jaime feels like they have been at war long enough, or rather that he has been. But Brienne, or so he figures, is still out for blood. She is still young. She still has shadows to slay, and oaths to fulfil. Because there is no doubt in him that Brienne still has might in her body – and that she wants to put it to use.

Jaime can feel her shift, narrow slits of sapphire blue darting through the darkness, “Is everything alright?”

“Hm? Yeah, yeah, just go back to sleep,” he tells her, offering a small smile. Brienne’s eyes drift close the next moment.

Jaime slides down on bed to be face to face with her, leaving his right arm around her waist, pulling her closer to him.

If only those moments were not fleeting.

If only those moments were made of forever.

If only those moments were made of steel.


 

“Do you sleep with her?”

Jaime tears his head around. Cersei had him ordered to her room earlier the day, to talk about matters of the Kingsguard, something about the upcoming royal wedding.

Though, of course, that proved to be yet another lie that slipped from her pointy tongue with little effort. So now he finds himself sitting on the stool from her study, turned to her, while she has her arms folded in front of her, pacing slowly, sneaking like a cat, a snake.

“What?” he blinks at her.

“Do you sleep with her?” she repeats in a flat voice, her face blank.

“With whom?” Jaime asks bluntly.

“The cow?” Cersei looks at him.

“You mean Brienne,” Jaime wrinkles his nose. “In case you forgot it. Her name is Brienne.”

“Well?” she blinks at him, expecting an answer to her question, but Jaime just keeps copying her facial expression. “Did you sleep with her? Did you sleep with… Brienne?”

“At last you manage to say her name. I’m proud of you,” Jaime snorts.

“I think she is way past the time she should want to stay here,” Cersei goes on. “In fact, I think she got a little bit too cosy in the Red Keep.”

Or rather, close to Jaime.

“You are aware that she saved my life and brought me here? Some people would be inclined to say that she deserved our gratitude for returning me to King’s Landing,” Jaime huffs.

“Why is she still here if you don’t fuck her?” Cersei replies bluntly.

“What does it even matter to you if I did? You made it pretty clear that you don’t want me anymore, because I’m this now. So what does it matter if I sleep with her or whoever else?” Jaime argues.

“Just because you and I don’t lay doesn’t mean that you get to lay with whoever else,” she replies.

“In fact that is what most people would believe to be the case, if one takes this certain vow I made aside for a moment,” Jaime argues, keeping his voice light, though he knows that this conversation is by no means light.

It’s heavy.

But also necessary.

Something long overdue.

This conversation is a hammer, a hammer that has to be brought down on her, on him, to forge them, forge them anew.

“You could have tried harder to convince me to take you back, you know?” she hums.

“And you know, if you really loved me, you wouldn’t demand that from me?” Jaime narrows his eyes at her.

“Of course I love you. What are you saying?” she turns to him, her eyes widening.

“But you care little about me. And that is the thing. That you don’t care, at all,” Jaime accuses her.

Because he knows what care is, he knows now. He knows what a careful touch is like now, one that holds no possession, one that does nothing but to hold on instead of running fingernails into still healing skin.

“Did the cow whisper that into your ear or what?” she asks.

Brienne,” Jaime repeats in a flat voice. “And no.”

“Just say it that you fucked her, by the Gods!” she growls.

Jaime sucks his lower lip into his mouth, glancing at the metal hand he grew not just tired but disgusted of.

Because he doesn’t need it.

At all.

It slows him down.

Makes him heavy.

It’s not made of Valyrian steel.

Just gold, useless gold. With ornaments.

Jaime turns the thing once until the metal hand falls into his palm, the noise making Cersei turn on the heel to look at him.

He deconstructs himself right before her eyes.

Dismantles himself.

“Will you treat me with silence now?” Cersei snorts, though her voice is a tremor as she sees him toying with the hand in his other hand before he puts it down on her study.

“Jaime?” she asks as he wordlessly goes on to remove the glove wrapped around his stump away to reveal the skin underneath.

Cersei heard it from some many people that Jaime walked around with only his stump more and more often these past few days. Whenever he is around Cersei, he wears the metal hand, but Jaime seemingly stopped to care about any picture he is supposed to represent, doesn’t care about the shame it gives him, them.

He seems to take an odd sense of pride in it these days, though Cersei reckons it’s only to mock her.

Or because the giant cow put stupid ideas inside his head. She is ugly, so maybe she doesn’t know better. Maybe the cow doesn’t know that this is something one should not put to display in such a fashion. Doesn’t know that this is something one should rather try to conceal with something matching his beauty, something matching his gold.

Jaime is to his feet at once, taking the metal hand with him as he approaches Cersei with the strides of a lion.

“You say you love me, still?” he asks, only inches from her face.

“You and I are one, Jaime, you know that,” she tells him, her voice soft like gold.

“Prove it,” he says, his features tight, lips sealed.

Cersei grins, gaining confidence.

At last.

She means to claim his lips at once, claim him back, make him hers again, but that is when Cersei feels something unfamiliar pressing against her hand. She looks down to see Jaime thrusting his ugly little stump into her palm. Cersei snaps her hand away at once, meaning to claim his lips once more, trying to work her spell, the spell of gold, the spell that never failed her until now, but he presses his stump against her again.

“You said you want me to prove it,” Cersei grimaces, before she adds in a seductive voice, “But for that you have to let me.”

“You prove me the opposite at this very moment,” Jaime tells her in a strong voice holding no passion, no tremor aching for her, holding no heat to warm her forehead, to feed the beast of her lust for sin.

“What?” she frowns at him.

That is me, too. This is my arm,” he tells her. “My stump.”

“I know that it is your… arm,” she rolls her eyes. “But I can prove you how much I love you much better with my lips than with my palm. You should know best.”

“You can’t even say the word through your pretty lips,” Jaime argues. “Just as your smooth palm can’t bear to touch it. It’s just skin.”

“Exactly, so why don’t we let skin be skin?” she replies.

“I told you to prove me that you love me, still,” Jaime says.

“You keep me from it by denying me your lips,” Cersei rolls her eyes.

“I don’t deny you the stump right now, or am I?” he tells her.

“What? Do you want me to kiss it?” she snorts.

“I’d want you not to be disgusted with what is also me,” Jaime says. “Because you used to love me, this way or another.”

“I can only repeat it. I will always love you,” she says.

“Then why do you prove me the opposite now that you have the chance?” he argues, only inches from her face, though there seem to be miles between them at this very moment.

“What do you expect of me? You come back after a year, a year, Jaime! And you expect things to be just like they were? You were gone. I thought I lost you. Myrcella was ripped away from me thanks to the little monster. I almost lost my, our children. I was almost killed during the siege. I was that close to take a vial to Tommen’s and my lips to take us out of this life. I told you, I told you all of it. And you want to deny me only because I have some trouble adjusting to the new situation?” she glares at him, catching fire from inside.

The process begins, the dismantling, the deconstruction.

The metal is heated, prepared for the hammer to come down and forge it.

“You don’t want to adjust, that is the thing. You want me to be like I used to, but I’m no longer the man I used to be, Cersei,” Jaime argues. “This stump proves it.”

“Oh yes, the hand you lost for her, isn’t it?” she snorts.

“I lost it doing the right thing,” Jaime argues.

“A few years back and you would have lost your hand if only to defend my honour,” she snarls, her eyes gleaming like smouldering charcoal.

“I would have,” he agrees with a shrug.

Jaime really would have, however foolish that is now, was back then already. But yes, back then he would have.

“But now I realise that there are far better reasons to lose a limb than your shattered sense of honour, or mine.”

Because there is her sense of honour.

The kind of honour that shines like silver, like steel.

“It’s as I say, you stopped caring about me like you accuse me of having stopped to care about you,” Cersei retorts angrily. “You blame me for something you did, whenever you walked and bickered next to the cow, instead of trying to fix what was broken for you and me. I tried to fix things between us.”

“With this,” Jaime barks, nudging the metal hand against her side.

As though a metal hand, a golden metal hand with ornaments would work like a patch to keep everything together again.

“Yes, with this,” she agrees. “I wanted to help you to feel complete again, after you lost something so important thanks to her. And all I ever got from you is scorn in turn.”

“I am complete without it, Cersei,” Jaime argues. “I don’t need that replica to be. And if you truly loved me, you wouldn’t care about this hand I left to decay in Harrenhal.”

“That is the hand that used to caress me, used to hold me,” she argues, her voice faint.

“And it isn’t there anymore. And it won’t come back, even if you forged a golden hand that looks just like it, even if it was made of solid flesh and bone. Because it won’t be this hand, this hand is gone, is dead, decomposes,” Jaime tells her in a strong voice. “But there is a stump, which is just inches apart from the hand that used to caress you, used to hold you, but you need that bit of distance, that bit of gold between us so that you can imagine it to be my old hand.”

And the hammer swings.

And the hammer comes down on the metal which is them.

On her gold.

His alloy of remnants of gold, and the growing portion of steel.

And the metal screams.

And the metal sings.

And it burns, burns, burns.

And it bursts, bursts, bursts.

Breaks away.

At last.

“By the Gods, do you really need me to tell you that you are pretty even with a hand missing?” she exhales. “If it soothes your ego, have it: You are still as handsome as you used to be. Your face is still like a diamond, sharp and edgy in just the right places. Shining. Your hair is golden. Your body is trained, forged by the Seven themselves.”

“And what is this?” he holds his stump right before her green eyes.

“Nothing that interferes with your beauty in any significant way,” she replies. “Nothing that you have to care about as much as you do.”

Just forget it!

“Just cover it up and pretend that it’s not there, that my old hand, a ghost hand, is still beneath that metal, you mean?” he asks, baring his teeth.

“You are being dramatic,” she snorts, but then narrows her eyes. “Oh, or is it that she marvels at this? And now you are angry that I don’t pet your ego the way she does, hm? Jaime, the cow is ugly. She wouldn’t be able to tell beautiful if it smacked her right in the face. So of course she may even marvel at this. She marvels at this because she sees a battle scar. And I’m sure that she takes pleasure in battle scars because she still believes herself a man by putting on a mail. I bet that is one of the few things that can get her wet.”

Jaime says nothing, just looks at her, lets their eyes collide, meet like sword blades, but they don’t fall into each other anymore. They are separate things, forged apart as the steam of unclarity rises from the bucket into which they were plunged, to bring to light two things of metal, to separate things of metal that no longer connect, no longer touch, don’t fall into each other at all.

Like the stump and the golden hand are two things that don’t belong.

“Do you want me to say it? Will that make you feel better?” she hisses like a cat. “Then here you have it, too: That bloody stump is wonderful. Scarred skin is such a pleasure for the eye. It can hold nothing, it can only probe at something. We should put it on a pedestal and marvel at it for its sheer beauty. It’s about as beautiful as is the giant cow.”

She can feel him thrust something cold into her palms. Cersei looks down on the metal hand she gave him for completion now in her own hands.

“Keep that. I have no use for it,” Jaime says, turning away. “Maybe that hand can hold you and touch you. Pretend that it’s me if you want. Fuck yourself with it if you must. Gold fits you so well, sister. Maybe that is what it takes for your completion, so you forget just how imperfect you are likewise – because I am, I always was, and as you always say, we are one half of a whole. And that half was never perfect, with hand or without.”

“Jaime,” she looks at him aghast. “Now wait.”

“I have waited long enough. And I’m done apologising for things that need no apology,” he repeats. “You took too long. Live and die with it.”

Rust, become blunt.

I want to be a man of steel, no man of gold.

“I am all you have! Never forget that!” she curses after him. “I’m all you’ll ever have! And you can fuck the giant cow all you want, it won’t change anything about that! You can have her ogle at you and your stump! You can fuck her dry cunt! You can pretend that she’s me all you want, but she isn’t, and she won’t ever be me, or anything close to me. In the end, you’ll always return to me. Because you are me and I’m you!”

“Just that I’m no longer the me you once knew,” Jaime says as he opens the door, pushes it open with his stump.

Jaime reforged himself throughout the imprisonment, the journey, with every step he took in shit boots, through fields and woods, through mud and dust.

“And I must say that if I were to fuck you right now, I reckon I would have to pretend that you are her.”

Because it’s steel he craves, not gold.

Because blades are not made of gold, for it is too soft, too useless, holding no protection.

Because he touched steel again, held it in his arms, and was reminded of the steel his body is made out of, too. The steel that sings the song of war, of blood, but also of the need of protecting, holding dear, caring. While the golden hand only hummed the dull, muffled tune of forgetting, concealment, fright.

She looks at him like a lamb before you cut its throat.

“And once and for all: her name is Brienne. And if you ever speak about her in such a way again… you don’t want to witness that.”

And with that he is just gone.

Cersei glances back at the hand and the hand seems to glance back at her, glare at her, taunt her as the realisation dawns on her that this just happened, that this is them now.

That they are two separate things.

Jaime stalks down the hallways, stomping his feet into the stone tiles, hearing the echo come back to him through the dark corridors until he opens the door to his chamber.

“Oh, there you are.”

Brienne sits on the edge of his bed, a small bundle resting in her lap, “The blacksmith finished it. I picked it up earlier the day. I don’t know if the measurements are right, but…”

Jaime strides over to her fast and soundlessly, presses his stump against the side of her chin to make her glance up to him as he kisses her lips, needing to claim her, needing to touch her.

Needing her.

The metal in her lap chinks and clinks as she leans into his soft touch on her lips and her chin.

Brienne can feel the need radiating from his body, need she learns to accept as being for her and no one else in fact. Need and want. For her.

After she was told by her Septa, by everyone Brienne knew that no one would ever want her, would want to kiss her with passion, with care, would touch her softly, and not just claim her body, mark it like people brand cattle.

Yet, here are those touches against her rough skin, and they don’t burn like a hot poker, and aren’t intended to, she knows.

As it seems, the world can be wrong, too, at times.

As it seems, beauty is not everything at last.

Jaime slides down next to her, slowly breaking the kiss, though he stays within periphery of her face, feeling her hot breath against his nose.

He needs this.

He really needs this beyond reason.

“What is it with you?” she asks.

“I just did something I should have done in a long time,” he breathes. Brienne frowns, taking in his features. She knows he left with his hand attached earlier the day. He normally does when around Cersei. Though Brienne was proud of him, yes, proud, that Jaime bore his stump with more pride when around other people.

Because to Brienne, that is nothing to hide. Just like the scars on his face, they show the path he has travelled, the fights he has fought, and won, for he lives and isn’t dead.

So why should he not take pride in them?

Isn’t that what knights do?

“What happened to the thing?” Brienne asks, running her thumb over his stump. “Did you lose it?”

Jaime can’t help a small smile. She rather tends to call it a ‘thing’ instead of a ‘hand’, because to Brienne, this has actually never been a hand. It was a useless thing, a lump of metal without a pointy end, without function, without sense.

“No, I returned it to its rightful owner,” he says.

“You… you gave it to her?” Brienne frowns. “Why did you?”

After all, she thought it was supposed to stay hidden, what they have, especially in front of that woman of all people. No matter Jaime’s marvel at her in secret, Brienne understands that they break his oath, bend it, twist it, forge it between their bodies. Just like she understands that Cersei is the woman who had Jaime’s unconditional love for so long that even nights of sleeping with hands entwined, fingers holding a soft stump, don’t undo the bond that was fostered and nourished over the years.

So why did he do such a thing now?

“I thought she wasn’t supposed to know,” Brienne goes on almost sheepishly. “Wasn’t supposed to see.”

“I don’t care for what she knows or sees,” Jaime says. “She is just supposed to know that I don’t need that thing anymore. Or ever did. She needs it more than I, you know that. Just like she doesn’t need me. Just like I don’t need her.”

No, he just needs this here. This moment.

“You didn’t have to do that for me, if you thought so,” Brienne says.

No, Brienne doesn’t need grand gestures. She values the private – and the realm of the private is actually enough to her. For as long as his eyes are on her and her alone as he keeps her close, moves into her, Brienne doesn’t care for what looms beyond the realm of the room, the bed. Brienne long since understood that grand gestures can have equally grand consequences, bad consequences indeed. And then something purely good, something shining like a wonderful blade, is spat at, stomped on, drawn out of itself and exposed to other people’s flames to poke at it with smouldering iron pokers to deform them in turn.

“I had to,” Jaime argues. “And I wanted to.”

Because it had to be said.

Because it is the truth.

And Jaime is done lying.

He is done wearing that golden hand.

He wants Brienne’s silver, wants her steel.

And Brienne is supposed to understand that he did not just offer empty gestures by letting go of his golden hand, but that he made a choice, a real one, for her, and not for Cersei and her elegant solution. She is supposed to know, because she deserves that truth.

Brienne blinks at him once, twice, lets the words that just tumbled out of his mouth sink beneath her skin, through her flesh, up to her heart, up to her mind.

While Brienne knows she should know better than to show enthusiasm, she can’t help the small smile and the faint blush on her cheeks. She turns her head to the bundle in her lap to regain focus, even though Brienne can feel Jaime’s smile brushing against the side of her face.

“In any case,” she begins in a more serious voice, “you should see it.”

Brienne nods at him to unwrap it, and Jaime knows that she doesn’t do it for him because she knows he can with one hand and a stump the same way, even if Jaime takes a little longer. And at last silvery steel shines back at him, the metal object painting white streaks on both their faces.

This can be a part of him, Jaime can see it already.

He doesn’t have to touch it to know that it will fashion him better than any golden hand ever could.

Because he is now of enough steel to connect to other steel, while he is no longer enough gold to connect to other gold, ornaments or not.

“Now that you gave back your golden hand, you need something to use as a weapon instead, right?” she asks, gaining a bit more confidence. “Not that you need it either, but…”

“Oh, I do need it,” Jaime grins, running his fingers over the smooth metal construction that shines little, like a pearl. “I need it more than words can say.”

Jaime needs it to forge himself anew, to continue with the process of his dismantling, his deconstruction, reconstruction into a man of steel.

He claims her lips again, his hand holding on to the metal construction that will be forged to be his new hand, a hand that will change according to his needs, a hand that Jaime will forge however he pleases, however she pleases. A hand that doesn’t need to be covered, but a hand that can be covered to have a pointy end, and protect the soft skin underneath.

“Just like I need you,” he breathes against her teeth, feeling her press her fingers against his stump effortlessly, not pushing him away but pulling him to her.

Because she doesn’t want distance.

She wants closeness.

Skin to skin.

Heart to heart.

Steel to steel.

And the silver of his new hand, the first new hand he thinks he will dare to accept, shines on, painting them white, illuminating them, pulling them out of the shadows as they allow themselves to bathe in the silver.

In her silver, her steel. The steel she is willing to share with him.

They bathe in the sensation of steel that can melt to a single man’s touch, can be hot with passion, warm with care, and cold with marvel, can reshape as it rests, can be unshod and rough, can be harder than stone, tougher than any metal that was ever forged, but can also be flexible, fluid almost, can be soft and smoother than any silks, any golds this world has ever seen, has ever known.

And the closer he is to her steel, the closer Jaime feels to himself.

The more he buries himself in her, the more steel marks his skin, the silvery steel of her, the steel of his new hand, of a shattered sense of honour mended with steel to fill the cracks to bring him one step closer to completion.


 

Brienne and Jaime lie face to face, heart to heart, in bed, the moon raining down on them to paint them like blades. Brienne has one arm slung around his shoulder while his arm without hand rests in the curve of her hip.

Joffrey died.

Killed at his own wedding.

Cersei blames Tyrion for it. The entire world blames Tyrion for it – because it’s easier to blame those who are small, and so honest to the point that they say what everyone else thinks, but don’t dare to verbalise out of fright to be made just as small, and filled with so much blame.

And Sansa is just gone, simply disappeared out of everyone’s sight.

The world moved too fast for them, forcing them to leap, to stumble, and to fall, hard.

“You know I have to go, right?” she breathes, her eyes fixed on his, the cold flame of her sapphire eyes shining at him so brightly that he has to blink more often to keep up that bond he doesn’t want to lose.

“Yeah. And you know that I have to make sure that my brother is safe,” he agrees solemnly.

“I expect no less. I’m sure he didn’t do it, no matter what she says,” Brienne says.

“Right,” Jaime sighs, feeling cold.

“I’m sorry,” she then says, making Jaime blink at her, “What for?”

“He was yours,” she whispers.

“I never held him,” Jaime admits bluntly.

“He was yours,” Brienne repeats.

“He was a monster,” Jaime argues, though he can’t say why he does.

“And still he was yours,” she argues. “You said it yourself. We don’t get to choose who we love. Just like we can’t help it to feel loss at someone disappearing out of our lives. Be it a monster, be it someone who’s never known just how far you would have gone for him without anything in return.”

Jaime moves a bit closer to feel her breath more prominent against his forehead. It’s so soothingly warm against his cold body.

“So, this is our last night together,” he whispers.

She will go to search Sansa by the next day’s rise, with nothing but a black armour, and the one piece of pure steel Jaime believes he will ever be granted to give to her in return for all the steel she gave to him.

The sword his father gave to him, forged out of Ice.

Yet, the moment Jaime touched this piece of Valyrian steel, he knew, deep down knew, that even the lions on the scabbard won’t ever make it a Lannister weapon. In fact, there was just one logical consequence for Jaime, and that was to give a fine sword to someone serving a fine purpose, to give it to the one woman who knows how to value steel, be it Valyrian or not.

To the one woman who is steel herself, who only has to touch a blade with her fingertip just once to make it sing the old songs.

“Indeed,” she agrees, her voice no more than a faint whisper.

“I would’ve taken you to Casterly Rock, you know that, right?” Jaime says. Had Sansa not disappeared, Jaime likely would have overcome his rage at his father’s jape for giving him a sword to wield when he can’t wield a sword, yet anyways, would have given up on the Kingsguard to serve the one thing he now finds worth service.

He would have accepted gold if that had meant to keep her and her steel.

But Sansa disappeared, and she is surely not in Casterly Rock – and that means that the steel must follow her trail, not his.

“Just that I wouldn’t have wanted that,” she argues. Jaime chuckles softly.

He almost forgot.

Brienne doesn’t want to be made someone’s Lady.

Because she doesn’t like gold, finding it too soft.

“True again. So… maybe I would have come with you to Tarth, then,” Jaime sighs.

He has never seen Tarth.

Though Jaime can’t deny that he feels more than tempted to see it, if only once.

To learn of the mysterious place where they forge women out of steel in such imperfect perfection.

Where they forge a woman so imperfectly perfect that she fitted right into his deconstructed construction of a body.

“I don’t think so,” Brienne snorts.

“What? Don’t you think we should hold on to some hopes? Some faint ideas of how life should have been?” Jaime argues.

Maybe they should really just dream away, for as long as they still can.

“I don’t like to wrestle the maybes and what ifs. They only make you run circles. And that makes the soil beneath your feet more and more solid,” she argues. “And that is the same as solidifying this spot, this time as unchangeable. But I think you can always change things, places, times, situations… people.”

People are blades, at least those she knows or wants to know. And Brienne knows that you can forge any blade anew, like the precious gift Jaime has made her. It was another weapon before. It was another blade, but it was forged again, forged to fit another shape, another purpose, a new mission. And if you can reforge a blade, then so you can reforge people.

Jaime changed, forged himself anew, too, in such a way that she can do nothing but admire him for the strength, the will of steel.

“So we don’t think about what lies beyond tomorrow?” Jaime asks.

“We only think of what is here at present. Tomorrow can wait,” she tells him.

Jaime kisses her lips and she kisses his, both shining like a metal blade in the light of the rising moon.

They try to forget about tomorrow and focus on this very moment, hoping that it will last an eternity after all.

They hope that their steel will survive to be cut in half.

They hope the steel won’t rust, won’t corrupt.

They hope that the steel will forge back together one day.

But that lies beyond this bed, beyond this room, beyond the window painting them in their true colours, their true silvery material. So all they are left with is to mend as much as they can muster, forge to one and stay one for as long as they can.


 

“They say the best swords have names. Any ideas?”

“Oathkeeper.”

“Good-bye, Brienne.”

She turns and walks on without muttering a goodbye, because she has missions to fulfil, oaths to keep that others have long since buried in dark crypts, under mossy tombs.

Only the Gods will know how she shines in that black armour, Jaime thinks, since it brings out the steel of her body, her mind, her soul.

And soon Brienne is out of his reach, riding her horse next to Pod, who does a miserable job at riding his. It seems as though the steel is cut in half at this moment, and Jaime’s heart aches at the loss of her silver, the loss of her, but that is when she turns, just once, just one glance – and it says so much more than words can say, to the point that Jaime knows exactly what it means without knowing what it means.

He just keeps looking as she disappears.

Marvels likely one last time until the steel disappears down a road he can’t join her on at present, though a part of his steel travels with her, holstered around her waist, singing the old song every time she shall draw the blade, every time she shall run her rough fingertips over its surface, shall hear the echo reaching back to him and he shall hear the echo reaching back from her to him.

Their secret song.

The song of steel.