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Northern Brides

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Tywin Lannister's eyes blazed as he strode out to the balcony overlooking the Sunset Sea. He took a deep breath for each sail he could see in Lannisport harbor and then casually dropped the raven scroll he had crumpled in his fist. He watched as the parchment was pulled one way and then the other by the wind currents until it vanished in the distance.

The message was not worth burning. Just one word: NEVER.

There were times Tywin regretted having children. His stubborn daughter would not listen to reason. He needed and heir, and she had yet to provide one. Joffery would inherit the Irong Throne, and with an uncle like Renly, Tommen was bound to rule the Stormlands.

That was not a problem as neither of Cersei's boys were fit to rule the Rock. Joffery was mindlessly cruel and Tommen was far to soft. The problem was that Cersei refused to have another child.

Her twin refused to give up that damnable white cloak. And Tryion...

He had sent for Tyrion hours ago but he did not appear to be anywhere in the castle and yet, no one had seen him leave. Out whoring, or drinking, probably both.

Tywin snorted in disgust and turned from the overlook to seat himself once again at his massive desk. Tywin drummed his fingers on the desk looking at the pile of correspondence he had finished reading. Already answered, those he deemed worthy of an answer.

Hearing footsteps approaching, the heavy tread of the guards and the drunken slur of impish chatter, Tywin carefully removed the over half of the pile and placed it on the other side of the desk. He plucked the random message from the top of the smaller pile and pretended to read.

The guards presented themselves in front of his desk, marked by the thud of spear-butts hitting the marble tile in unison and then a deafening silence.

“You wanted to speak to me, father?” Tyrion asked with a loud belch, reminding Tywin that this imp could never be worthy of the Rock. It was bad enough that he had been born a dwarf and killed his mother in the process. Even if that could be forgiven for the sake of the carrying on the Lannister name, this irresponsible... drunken... whore monger... would never be able to hold it.

Tywin kept his face as neutral as possible while he read and then re-read the lines of the letter he held. He counted to thirty slowly, then raised his head to gaze at this creature that men insisted on calling his son.

“You're late...” Tywin observed.

“And you are busy.” Tywin returned. “As was I when your guards found me. What do you want father?”

The muscles in Tywin's jaw twitched as he tried to maintain his composure.

“They found you in a brothel.” Tywin started.

“Did you bother to look elsewhere?” Inquired the imp with a shrug that made Tywin seethe even more.

“Are you aware,” Tywin bit out, determined to appear patient, “that the entire town of Lannisport is laughing at your escapades?”

“I can't really hear them over the crashing waves.” Tyrion grinned as if he might laugh too.

Tywin hated the sound of laughter. They had laughed at his father for taking a whore as his mistress. And she had taken the Lannisters for fools, at least until his father died. Then Tywin had ensured she new her true place. If Tyrion was not careful he would have to teach him an equally difficult lesson.

Tywin stood, pacing around his desk to tower over his youngest offspring. “You are a member of our family and as such, I expect you to conduct yourself in a responsible manner.”

“Yes, yes, you've mentioned that I'm a fool and bring shame on our house before, more than once I believe. Was there anything more? I have a sweet little...”

“There is more. If you can keep your mouth shut for more than a minute I will tell you my plans.”

Tyrion closed his mouth into a grotesque grin as he craned his neck up to return Tywin's stare. Tywin looked down at the large, ugly, misshapen head on top of the child-like body and despaired. Was it possible such a creature could father an offspring? If he could, was there any chance that the resulting child could be a suitable heir to Casterly Rock? Was there no other option?

Tywin shook his head, it had to be tried. “It is time for you to find yourself a wife.”

“A what?” Tyrion nearly fell over.

Tywin stalked back to the chair behind his desk and seated himself, hoping Tyrion would take the moment to collect himself and sober up a little.

“Isn't it your job to arrange a marriage father?” Tyrion asked with somewhat more levity than normal.

Tywin allowed himself a rare inner smile to have won that round of verbal sparing with his unwanted get. It was rare indeed to leave Tyrion at a loss for a quick comeback.

“You think I haven't tried? No one would have an ill-formed creature like you for their daughter. Even lesser families have refused the lure of Lannister gold. No one south of the neck will have you.”

“And you think I can succeed where you have failed?” Tyrion asked.

Tywin eyed Tyrion and decided to ignore the jibe for the moment.

“You will go north and meet the reputable families there. They should grant you hospitality for the sake of your family ties. If you can find one willing to part with a daughter well and good. Frey may be willing to reconsider as you appear to be in line to inherit the Rock.”

Tywin paused a moment, grinding his teeth. “You will never be Lord of Casterly Rock, yet you need not tell the Late Lord Frey if you think it would help press your suit. I would prefer, of course, that you choose a more honorable family if at all possible. Frey has always been a greedy bastard and I would hate to allow him the satisfaction of yet another Lannister match.”

Not the least of his father's failings was to allow a Frey match for Tywin's sister, Genna. Poor girl didn't even get the oldest son so was unlikely to see any real power in her lifetime. It was a pity as she was more suited to wielding power than most of his family. If only one of his children had taken after their aunt in that respect. Never-the-less, he must do his best to ensure the Lannister legacy.

“Your best choice is like to be Winterfell. I've heard that Stark bastard Robert is so fond of has daughters. Two or three of them. Perhaps he would like to strengthen ties to the South before the next Winter sets in. The Starks are a prickly bunch, but no one has ever accused them of a lack of honor. They are less likely to take advantage of … the situation.”

Tywin pinned his son with a stern look. “Do you understand?”

Tyrion looked as sober as his father had ever seen him. “Yes, father. But why do you want to make a match for me now? You have never shown any interest in my happiness before.”

“I'm not interested in your happiness!” Tywin growled. “I am interested in the continued success of house Lannister. Do you think your sister is likely to give the king any more children?”

Tyrion had the gall to look amused. “The king? No, probably not.”

“I had hoped that I might declare Tommen my heir some day, but rumors about Renly have convinced me that he is more likely to be Lord of the Stormlands. Jaime has convinced me he will die as a kingsguard rather than do his duty as my son. And that leaves only you. You will never inherit the Rock. You are a vile little creature and I will not permit you to tear down everything I have built. However, if you had a child of your own, and it took after it's mother rather than yourself...”

Tywin let the unspoken promise hand in the dead air and observed his offspring. Sober for a change. No japes. No amused looks. Possibly even some introspection.

“I see.” Tyrion finally said. “When would you like me to leave?”

“That can wait until tomorrow. At first light I will have a suitable escort prepared. Make yourself clean and sober in the meantime. I've no doubt, you will need to be at your best if you have any hope of persuading one of these Northern savages to share your bed.”

“And if being clean and sober isn't enough to persuade some northern girl the Lannisters have enough gold to compensate her for becoming my bride?”

“If you can't find a willing bride before you reach the wall, when I suggest you join the Night's Watch. There won't be anything here for you if you return alone.”