Chapter 1: do not despair
Another day, more waste of time, Jon thinks as he gives up for the day and walks back inside the usual inn – you would think that finding some kind of work in this city when a new king takes power wouldn’t be too complicated, and instead he’s managed to find nothing for now and he doubts that when he goes back to the room he’s rented until three days from now Eddard will have found anything better.
Fine, he doesn’t have an arm, but that never stopped anyone from finding work, especially in King’s Landing.
He orders some ale, even if he should save money, but he’s so disheartened about this, he might as well drink on it. Gods, at this point they might as well leave, but he can’t certainly go to the Stormlands, and he doubts there’s anything to be found in Highgarten. Dorne, maybe, but King’s Landing is still the best chance as far as finding a way to earn some money is concerned. Maybe they should consider Essos, and now that would be hilarious because Jon had sworn to himself that he would never set foot there again, not when it brought him little good the first time around, but if there’s no better option –
He takes his ale and sits at his usual, lonely table.
He glances at the Red Keep through the window’s glass, wishing Rhaegar and himself a happy life, however it is that it’s supposed to go, and he takes a sip from his tankard.
Then someone sits in front of him.
“Ser Roland. Or should I say, Lord Connington?”
Jon immediately looks up and – wait, why would Jaime Lannister know?
Because that’s him sitting in front of Jon all right – he looks tired, and he has bags under his eyes no one of ten and seven should have, and he hasn’t shaved in a week, at least, but his eyes are clear and he looks a tad better than he did back in the Red Keep.
“Do you know because you figured it out or because –”
“No,” Jaime says. “Or better, I thought you and the Hand of the King looked suspiciously alike, but I figured I was seeing things. Then Brienne actually told me everything before she disappeared,” he sighs, and that’s when Jon notices the hilt of his sword.
“Is that –”
“Oathkeeper? Yes. She gave it back to me, whatever it is that she meant by it.”
“Well, you gave it to her, back where we came from.”
“So she said. Anyway, that’s moot. What I’m curious to know, is what are you doing here.”
Jon shrugs, takes another drink. “What has Brienne told you?”
“Before she went off and disappeared for the next seventeen years or so? That you were supposed to do the same as her, but that you had chosen to stay here rather than go back in time. Or, in the future. But she also said that she had figured that the prince – pardon, the king, might have recognized you and thanked you for your –”
Jon can’t avoid it – he laughs, almost spitting his drink, and he laughs very bitterly.
Gods, for how tough she looked, Brienne really could be too sweet for her own good. He misses her, for a moment, and then he looks back up at Jaime.
“He has definitely thanked… me for the service. Not me, though.”
“Oh, you mean – young you?”
“Exactly. As far as I was concerned, I think that your eye is better than our king’s, sad to say.”
“Wait, you mean –”
“No, he didn’t recognize me and I don’t think it even crossed his mind. And – well, I suppose I have nothing to lose, especially with you.”
“What do you mean?”
“My lord, where I come from, everyone knows that you used to love someone and that society would not look kindly upon that specific kind of love. I might have shared part of that plight, except that it was not my sister,” he whispers, and takes another drink as he sees Jaime’s eyes widen in understanding.
“Oh,” he says. “Well, I – I cannot say I never pondered it, but – I am sorry to hear it.”
“Thank you,” Jon replies. “I think I’m – learning to live with it. So, I came back here because it was as good as any other place, and I’m currently trying to find some work, and it’s not going as well as it could be. Does that satisfy your question?”
Jaime nods, staring in silence at him, and then he looks down at both his hands – they’re crossed on the table, and Jon can’t help thinking they look nothing like a nobleman’s. There’s a faint burn on the left, too – maybe it happened during the sack?
“I suppose you don’t know the news about… me, I imagine,” Jaime suddenly says.
“I know you arrested your father, and that’s about it. Good thinking, by the way.”
“Thank you,” Jaime snorts. “I’m sure my brother will appreciate, but – I had to. Never mind that. What you don’t know, then, is that after making whatever deals I had to with… your other self, Rhaegar and so on, I quit the Kingsguard.”
“You – you did?”
“As far as the realm is concerned, I killed Aerys.”
“Why, you didn’t?”
Jaime shakes his head fondly. “No, she did. So that I wouldn’t have to.”
“Oh,” Jon says. “Gods, I can believe she would. She couldn’t stand the idea of you having to do it twice.”
“I know,” Jaime replies, fondly. “Other than that, I – I hated being there with Aerys and I’m not sure I can be with Rhaegar, either. It’s not what I wanted. And she told me – a few things, before leaving, and she was right about all of them. I’m not spending my life doing something I hate, and I honestly don’t even want to be in King’s Landing anymore. Also, in order to spare my father’s life, the deal was that I would take his place, so I’m going back to Casterly Rock.”
“Congratulations,” Jon tells him. “Your – the you I met would approve of this choice.”
“Thank you. And I think this is where we might help each other, if you would like.”
Jon puts his drink away and swallows the last of the ale he had just taken – what?
“We could help each other?”
Jaime shrugs. “I know nothing about being a lord. My father did try to teach me, but I always was more interested in swords than books, never mind that –” He looks down at his hands. “I never was good at reading. And my father didn’t want to hear it, but that’s not the point – the point is that I don’t read as well as my brother and I know nothing of – accounting and running a castle such as the Rock never mind the Westerlands. Now, how do you fare as far as that is concerned?”
“I was my father’s only son,” Jon replies. “And I’ve been high enough in the Golden Company, and I was Aegon’s Hand, for however short that lasted. I can handle that, or I could teach you, or both, if you’d like. But – why me?”
Jaime smiles slightly, but he’s obviously not feeling it. “Because you would have absolutely no reason to backstab me, Brienne told me that lying about Rhaegar’s death was your idea so I would have an excuse to kill Aerys, and I saw you wanting to reprimand yourself when Darry refused to stay back in the Red Keep. That would be more than enough to get me to trust you. And – the thing is, Brienne, uh, I – she said she would come back at some point.”
“Hopefully,” Jon confirms. “Wait, you mean –”
“I intend to wait for her,” Jaime says, sounding so sure of it, Jon can’t help thinking, it was destiny that they should find each other. “And I know that it will bring questions – it would be ridiculous if I did not marry at this point, and I am absolutely in the mind of telling my sister that it’s over, but if I know her she won’t surrender without a fight, and I will most likely be surrounded by people who don’t want what’s best for me or the Rock or the Westerlands, and – I’m tired, and I had enough of it in King’s Landing, and I need to have someone around that I know won’t try to stab me in the back. And since you managed to find some way to not marry when you were your father’s only heir, you might be helpful with that, too.”
Jon considers it. It’s a good solution – no one knows him in the Westerlands, and he absolutely can run the place and do the accounting and the likes, and while it’s probably sad that Jaime should ask him when he should trust a relative or anyone else around the Rock more, in theory, it’s not like he would refuse on that account. Never mind that he has all sound reasons.
“I – that would be ideal,” Jon finally says. “There’s just one matter.”
“I – I might not be traveling alone,” Jon replies.
“While I was in the Red Keep before leaving for Stoney Sept, I might – have met someone in a place that Oberyn Martell recommended me a very long time ago if I ever needed to satisfy certain needs and not with women.”
“We might have run into each other now,” Jon goes on. “And – the plan was that if leaving was necessary, we’d go together, but I’m afraid he doesn’t exactly have accounting skills.”
Jaime snorts and shakes his head, then looks back up at him. “My lord, honestly, I’m the least person that could judge your tastes as you pointed out before, and the Rock is huge. I’m fairly sure that whatever skills this someone of yours has, we can find him something to do or he can find something to do in Lannisport, it’s hardly a problem. I’m leaving tomorrow, you both can meet me at the main gate at midday. I suppose you will still go by Roland?”
“I think I will, I’ve grown to like it,” Jon says. “And I think we have a deal.”
He holds out his remaining hand.
“Good,” Jaime says, his lips breaking into a relieved smile that makes him look his age and not fifteen years older, “then it’s a deal.” Then he reaches out with his own hand and shakes Jon’s, with a nice, firm grip.
Things might be finally looking up, and Jon’s not wasting any good chance this time around, he decides, and if doing Jaime Lannister’s accounts wasn’t what he had thought he would end up doing when he went back in time, he thinks he can more than live with it.
He definitely can.
“She was right,” Jaime says as he stares down at the book recording all the previous accounting of Casterly’s business with the Crakehalls, and Jon doesn’t think he’s ever heard him sound so dejected, except maybe for a few times in King’s Landing.
“She, as in Cersei?” His brother asks him as he thumbs through another book that’s half as tall as he is from the other side of the table, and he says it with such sneer that Jon decides that he never, ever wants to know the details of how it was to grow up in Tywin Lannister’s castle, because from what he sees it would make any commoner child think back before wishing that he was born noble.
“Who else,” Jaime huffs, still staring down at the accounts in utter hatred. “I don’t get this, I can ever barely read it, I don’t get the entire point of how you do this and I should know and if I don’t even get there I’m – I’m never getting the hang of this, am I?”
“First of all,” Jon says before he starts getting too worried about damned bookkeeping, “you’ve been at it for two weeks, not two years. Secondly, was that your father’s?”
“Yes,” Jaime sighs, “he made sure to write down all the accounting himself or to supervise it.”
Jon moves closer. “Well, your father surely liked to not waste paper because I can barely read those numbers.”
“Thank you,” Tyrion says, “I’ve been telling him since he came back that it’s not all his fault. But what did Cersei say, anyway?”
“Tyrion, let it go. She was angry. She’ll get over it, and –”
“What did she say?”
Jon has no idea of how Tyrion Lannister used to be with his father around, but he’s noticed that since Jaime has not taken back up his relationship with his sister, he’s been fairly vocal about pointing out how terrible she supposedly is. Given how their only meeting went, Jon is mostly agreeing with that opinion.
Jaime sighs and shuts the book closed. “That if I thought I could do things half as well as Father without her being around I was even more of an idiot than she thought I was and she not so subtly implied that she was the one in between the two of us who inherited his brains, not me.”
Tyrion looks like he would try to murder her, if eleven-year-olds could.
Jon clears his throat. “Listen, never mind that I have a feeling your brother would do bookkeeping way better than her –”
“Lord Jon – pardon, Ser Roland –, just the fact that Jaime picked you for this job shows he certainly does have brains.”
“Thank you,” Jon snorts. Tyrion knows, too, but at this point it can barely hurt and he didn’t tell Jaime he couldn’t confide in about the one relative he has around who is not assuming he’s setting himself up to fail. “Anyway, I was saying, maybe we should find a better written book and you should take it easier. No one expects you to learn in a month and I can handle the accounting until you can. And I’m not accepting this kind of talk from someone who singlehandedly kept King’s Landing from turning into a slaughterhouse at the ripe age of ten and seven, that would require some brains.”
Jaime huffs and says nothing, but doesn’t contradict him.
Jon puts the damned Crakehall accounts book out of the way and looks through the older ones – the one recording trading with the Paynes is written in a larger and clearer hand, so he hands Jaime that and asks him if it’s any better.
“Yes,” Jaime sighs, “I suppose it is. So, what in the Seven Hells is even the point?”
“The point,” Jon tells him, is that – right, don’t look at it, just listen to me. Whenever you buy or sell something, or whenever anything comes in and out of a castle, money and goods are exchanged. The point is that on the right side you have people who owe you money or money that’s owed to you, on the left you have to take note of people that you owe money to, or debts that you have to pay and so on. The trick is that for every time money or goods are exchanged, you write down both credit and debt. What’s in the first entry?”
Jaime squints. “Er, Lord Payne has paid my father a fairly hefty tax a year ago?”
“Good, and what’s written below?”
“On the right side there’s the money he gave us but on the left – it says he used part of it to pay off some debt he had with an Essosi trader? I think? And then he listed the actual part he was keeping at the bottom?”
“See, that’s not so complicated.”
“Right, but the next thing is completely unrelated! So where did that money –”
“In the main books,” Tyrion supplies. When the both of them look up at him, he shrugs. “Well, it’s not like Father ever stopped me from coming in here. I figured I’d learn. Those are all books to keep track of the money coming from our bannermen, the main ones are for – the actual gold we have. They’re all in the wardrobe behind me.”
“Can’t I just have you doing this?” Jaime sighs.
“I doubt it,” Tyrion says, sounding as apologetic as it can be. “But why would you? You did grasp the point before. And if you need help reading the others just ask.”
“Right,” Jaime says, “I guess the basics aren’t too hard, but – gods, I hope it’s not just doing this all my damned life.”
“It’s my job,” Jon says, “you only have to learn so that you can go over them with me and see if something doesn’t add up to you.”
“But if my father did them himself –”
Tyrion jumps down from the seat, shutting his own book, then he joins the two of them and puts a small hand over Jaime’s wrist and then he squeezes hard enough that Jaime yelps.
“Seven hells, what –”
“Jaime, the best thing that could ever happen to you is that you are nowhere like Father. If you don’t want to do things the way he did, no one is going to protest.”
Then he walks out of the room before either of them can reply and Jon can see the moment Jaime’s shoulders relax a bit. “Maybe he’s right,” he says. “Whatever. I’ll – I guess I’ll be back tomorrow. For now I think I’ll trust you to not go against my interests, my lord.”
“Of course,” Jon says, and then he figures that protocol in here is lacking and so he might take a small liberty. He reaches out, grabs Jaime’s shoulder and squeezes, not too strong but enough. “And please don’t ever think that if you don’t understand accounting in the span of three days it means you don’t have the brains to do this. Also, if I may be blunt –”
“I like blunt people, if it wasn’t obvious. I’m one myself.”
“Well, your sister most probably wouldn’t know what to make of this at all. Don’t worry and take it slow, you aren’t doing half as bad as you’re thinking.”
“Good to know,” Jaime replies, sounding terribly relieved of hearing it.
Jon lets him go and decides to worry about keeping track of the accounts of the last year, since he would need that in order to take it up from his predecessors.
That evening, after a dinner during which Cersei kept on hissing dibs Jaime’s way that no one had the courage to reply to and that Jaime utterly ignores, Jon decides to check on how he’s doing before he goes back to the small house in Lannisport he currently has at his disposal (it was a good idea – Jaime told him that no one would take notice of whatever he does the moment the door is shut while in the castle they wouldn’t have had privacy).
He knocks on the door of what was Jaime’s room before he left and still is – he says he doesn’t want to move into his father’s quarters and Jon can see why.
“It’s open,” Jaime says.
“I could have been your sister,” Jon tells him.
“She wouldn’t have knocked,” Jaime snorts. He has a small diary open in front of him and his fingers are stained in ink. “And I think I’m being fairly pathetic, but maybe I understood the point of – that.”
Jaime shrugs and hands him the diary. Jon doesn’t ask him if he’s sure – he knows what it means when someone trusts you with their private matters and he wouldn’t press.
The journal’s left side reads paid days. The right side reads owed days. And then there is a long list of numbers not so neatly lined in vertical, progressive. On the other – there’s a way messier bunch of numbers with a lot of corrections and he has to decipher the math, but when he realized what he’s counting –
“That’s – that’s how much time it’s been since she left on the right and how much time you have to wait on the left?”
“Yes,” Jaime confirms, “but it’s – kind of messy.”
“You know, you could just use one of the blank books in that room,” Jon tells him, handing him back the diary. “That would make it a lot easier.
“It’s not – it’s kind of ridiculous that I would waste it for –”
“It’s important to you and you are getting the hang of it. Just take one. It’s not a waste.”
“You seem very sure of it.”
He shrugs. “If I had to consider everything I did for love a waste, I would have wasted most of my life, and it certainly didn’t help me understand how the double entry system works. And I know it looks like it’s a lot of time to wait, but – I’m sure she hated having to leave.”
“I know she did,” he replies. “I felt it.” He’s smiling as he says it, even if a bit wistfully. “And I know it’ll be worth it. It’s just, she would have at least appreciated the effort.”
“She would have helped you figure it out at least, but really, you’re doing more than fine. Just put your sister in there for two hours without anyone helping her, then see if she’s that sure she would do better than you.”
“We’ll see,” Jaime says, but he sounds slightly relieved. “Thank you. I – I might get that book then.”
“You do that. And keep on practicing that double entry, it cannot hurt.”
He leaves the room, closing the door softly behind it, noticing how Jaime was staring almost lovingly at that diary, and for a moment he feels sorry that she had to leave all over again – he misses her as well, though obviously not as much as Jaime does.
But it had to happen, didn’t it? And – he’s sure that the wait will be over before they know it. Meanwhile, he’s going back home and if he’s feeling very thankful knowing he won’t be alone when he gets there, it’s only human, isn’t it?
I have no idea if Westeros uses the double entry system for accounting BUT it was invented in the middle ages and it's about the only damned accounting system I know of AND it worked better for what I wanted to do it so guys just give me some leeway here /o\
Chapter 3: for the days of miracles will come along
That Rhaenys gets a letter from Ser Jaime – it should be lord now, but she never quite could call him any other way – is no mystery. They have written each other steadily when they couldn’t visit, and a letter from him was the first she ever received personally. She was maybe seven and she was overjoyed of it – she always liked him best out of all the Kingsguard and she was sad to see him leave, and she was disappointed that she could not attend the wedding but her father had advised her against going to the wedding of the man who had killed her grandfather, as right as he had been, and so she hadn’t –
But still, they wrote each other.
She also was delighted to find out that his bride eventually turned up being the infamous Lady Rohanne, whom Rhaenys was forbidden to mention since she disappeared, and when she learned how –
Well, she had thought, I must have been right when I thought they were made for each other when I wasn’t even five.
Anyhow, it’s not news that she would get a letter. She just hopes that whatever deals her mother is making with the Tyrells work out because she would rather get letters from Ser Jaime while not living in King’s Landing anymore and feeling judged whenever anyone who knows who she’s corresponding to, never mind that the few times she met Willas Tyrell she greatly enjoyed his company and would not complain at all if this marriage was finalized.
So she opens it –
And she finds out that what’s written inside it is, actually, news.
Of the best kind.
There’s also an invitation to spend a few weeks at Casterly Rock to celebrate, and Ser Jaime would love it if she could be there.
Rhaenys is sure that her father won’t approve of it much, but she also knows that he won’t say no, not when she has an actual dragon doing her bidding and no one else’s in the first place, and while she will not contradict her parents when it comes to marriage pacts because she knows what diplomacy is, she will if it means this ridiculous notion that the least contact they have with the Lannisters, the better.
She answers that she would be delighted, and then spends the next few days practicing her sewing material on an appropriate gift, and when she’s ready, she leaves after making sure her mother knows where to send her ravens if she needs to give her information about how the deal with the Tyrells is proceeding.
Then she leaves for the Rock with a few maids and a few knights, bringing appropriate gifts – she could have ridden Meleys, her dragon that she named after her namesake’s, but she doubts they would have the accommodation for him in Casterly, and so she decides it will be for next time.
They ride fast and they’re there in three weeks, and she doesn’t fail to be impressed by how long it takes to get to the top.
Of course, they have been noticed, and she’s ready for it when she sees Ser Jaime standing at the gate, and she’s not surprised to see him absolutely radiant, either.
“Princess,” he tells her as she dismounts, “I trust you had a nice journey.”
“Maybe a bit too slow, but I suppose I cannot speak.”
“Not all of us ride dragons, you know?”
“That would be true, I suppose. There are a few men riding up behind me with a few gifts.”
“You didn’t have to –”
“I know,” she interrupts him, “but it was only polite. And speaking of gifts –”
“Jaime, you could have waited for me a moment, couldn’t you?”
Rhaenys, very unlady-likely, bursts out laughing as Brienne of Tarth reaches them, and of course she was walking slower – she would, given that she’s carrying a daughter that can’t be two moons old yet. She also looks dead tired and like someone who hasn’t slept in a long time, but she looks as radiant as he does, so she figures that they both don’t mind losing sleep that much.
“Forgive me, the princess hadn’t visited in months, after all.”
“If the gods will it, I won’t be one for too long, but never mind that,” Rhaenys says. She takes a better look at the baby, moving closer – she’s blonde, more Lannister gold than her mother’s straw, but she has Brienne’s large, astonishing blue eyes and she’s definitely larger than usual; Rhaenys had figured out when she was born from the letter’s date and the time it took her to get here, but she looks a bit older than that. Well, she most probably will grow very tall, which is not surprising given who her parents are.
She smiles, reaching out, letting the baby grasp her finger.
“She’s lovely,” she tells the both of them. “And what’s the name? You didn’t say in the letter.”
Jaime’s cheeks suddenly go slightly redder even as he looks down at his daughter very, very proudly.
“Let’s say,” Brienne clears her throat, “that he insisted on it. But it was – a good idea, I had to admit.”
Rhaenys can’t help it – she laughs, delighted.
“Let me guess, it’s Rohanne, isn’t it?”
Both the parents look very flustered at that, now. “I mean,” Jaime says, “what else was I going to call her?”
“You’re hopeless,” Brienne says, “but then again I didn’t disagree and – it was appropriate.”
Rhaenys thinks of how, years ago, his eyes would become softer and how he would smile ever so slightly if she mentioned the infamous Lady Rohanne who had showed up from nothing and would disappear soon and who had been courteous to the both of them and possibly more of that to him, too.
“I think it’s perfect,” she agrees, and as she looks at the both of them she has a feeling Rohanne won’t be the last.
Well, next time, she might come with the dragon, indeed. Maybe the little lady will be old enough to appreciate it.