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Not the Stark you think I am

Chapter Text

Thunder rumbled and heavy rain pelted to the ground. Despite the storm Tony had almost reached the enemy aircraft in his suit. If he brought down this plane, the Avengers would win the fight. His whole body was tense as he reduced the distance to the hostile little by little. The other team members could only watch him, not being able to help. Thor produced some lightning to distract the pilot, but it nearly hit Tony.

"Fuck, Thor! Do you want to kill me?", he shouted angrily. The thunderbolts forced him to slow down and he cursed under his breath.

"Language!", Cap shouted from far below, but Tony didn't even hear him. He gathered speed again and felt his adrenaline level rise as the distance to the plane decreased.

"Watch out, Boss! You are extremely fast", F.R.I.D.A.Y. stated, sounding slightly alarmed.

"That's the plan!" Tony answered with a confident grin on his face. But suddenly, as the Avengers were about to win, a bright green flash of light appeared right in front of Iron Man. He was dazzled for a second and then, everthing went black.

 


 

When Tony regained consciousness, he was still flying, but to his relief with much less speed. The thundestorm had stopped and the sky was full of grey clouds. Single snowflakes were falling to the ground and the subdued atmosphere suggested that winter was coming. Tony came to an halt in the air and observed the secenery with an uneasy feeling. Everything he saw seemed so… wrong. First of all, it was only september. There had already been some colder days, but in general it was still late summer and most definitely not the right time for snow. Besides, when Tony looked on the ground beneath him, he could only spot a forest, some deserted fields and a broad rural road that wasn't asphalted. No place near NYC with a landscape like that came to his mind, especially as the ocean didn't seam to be anywhere near.

"F.R.I.D.A.Y.?", Tony asked nervously, feeling the need to hear a voice.

"Yes, Boss?", the artificial intelligence answered.

"Where the fuck am I?"

"No idea, I can't connect with the internet. The contact to the team members is interrupted, too."

Tony took a deep breath. "Well, we'll handle this, like always."

"Sure, Boss", F.R.I.D.A.Y. answered, but she didn't sound convinced.

Tony slowly sank further to the ground. "Give me a short update."

"Alright, the suit is completely intact, all weapon systems are fully charged. It's 13 degrees Celsius outside, I can't find any signs of civilisation within a distance of 3 kilometres except some isolated cottages which are apparently made of wood. From the south a person on a large animal, most likely a horse, is approaching on the road, apart from that you are completely alone."

"On a horse?", Tony repeated in disbelief, but F.R.I.D.A.Y.'s infrared camera usually told the truth. At least there was anybody he could talk to, and even some teenage horse girl should be able to tell him where he was.

He reached the ground slightly away from the road between some trees. Tony stepped out of his suit, wanting to scare the stranger as little as possible, even though it made him almost defenceless. A faint sound reached his ears and grew louder as he came closer to the path in front of him. It was unmistakable clopping of a horses' hooves. Through the trees Tony could spot the silhouette of a rider on his animal, but it seemed to be a grown man instead of the young girl he had expected.

"Well, that's probably better", Tony mumbled to himself. He took a few steps to reach the middle of the road and turned to face the man on the horse who was about 50 metres away. As soon as the guy saw Tony, he slowed down a bit, eyeing his counterpart. Tony did the same. The man in front of him seemed foreign despite his occidental looks. He was wearing a dark green cape, medieval leather clothing and all in all appeared to come from another time. But this wasn't what disturbed Tony the most, it was the stranger's charisma. He had the posture of a man that was troubled, sorrowful and broken. Somebody who once was confident and even narcissistic, but had lost this carefreeness due to horrific experiences. Tony somehow saw an image of himself in this man whom he had never met before and for a second or two, he asked himself whether he was maybe dreaming.

But as the rider descended from his horse about ten metres in front of Tony, the latter was brought back down to earth. He took a deep breath, went into his genius billionaire playboy philanthropist-mode he normally showed the world and confidently approached the stranger.

Chapter Text

Jaime had been sitting on his horse's back for hours, trying to put as much distance as possible between Cersei and himself. He was repeating over and over again in his thoughts that he did the right thing. It was the right thing, wasn't it? Cersei had almost commanded the Mountain to kill him! But still, didn't he love her? Could he even know what love was? Had his feelings towards Cersei ever been real? He had been loyal to her to the bitter end, he had always supported her, even as her madness had increased. When he thought about it, now, he might have even pitied her. She lost all her children one by one, her life was built on lies, she had always been the seemingly weak sister of a kingslayer and a dwarf, and saw herself as the only one who could save the family. For a long time, Jaime had been thinking the same way. It's the two of us against the rest of the world, only we are counting, we and our children. But as time went by, Jaime saw that his sister was going too far. Could he still love a person, no matter in which way, who wanted to kill her own little brother, who murdered hundreds of people by blowing up the Great Sept of Baelor? This, ending the lives of innocent citizens, had exactly been the reason why Jaime had killed the Mad King. And now, as Cersei had promised her help against the White Walkers but didn't really intend to help the north, Jaime realised: She was just the same. She had become a mad queen, fanatic and dangerous. What had horrified Jaime the most was that his sister had even managed to deceive him. Him who had thought to know her the way he knew himself. This had been the moment he had understood that it was time to go. Jaime knew that it wasn't good to leave Cersei to herself, with nobody to bring her to reason. But he also knew that he, the only person who had ever been able to do so, could no more change Cersei's mind. Nobody could. The only thing he could do know was to ride north, to fulfil his sister's promise as well as in any way possible, to leave her and all her malevolence behind.

Jaime knew that they wouldn't welcome him at Winterfell. He didn't expect them to welcome him. To be honest he didn't even really want to go there. Not because everybody hated him, because he would meet so many people who wanted to see him dead. Not even because he would meet Bran, who had lost his ability to walk due to Jaime, or the young Dragon Queen, whose father he had killed. No, it was because there still was some pride in him. He had left Cersei behind, he could and would no more be loyal to her, but he also couldn't, he just couldn't see anyone of the people he would meet as his new leader, his new king or queen. Not that he wanted to lead himself, but he knew he would never join the army of Sansa Stark, of Jon Snow, not even of his brother Tyrion. After having seen Daenerys Targaryen only once Jaime knew that he would never bend the knee to her. He would join them in their battle against the Night King, he would fight for the the Seven Kingdoms and their inhabitants, but he would never choose a side in the combat for the throne. There was nobody alive in Westeros he could picture on the Iron Throne. Or was there? Jaime's thoughts drifted to Brienne. Brienne who had told him to fuck loyalty. And she had been right, she had always been so right. She had seen what he hadn't been able to see. If there was anyone Jaime would follow into battle, it would be her. Because he trusted her. Suddenly realisation hit him. That was the point: He didn't trust anybody, he couldn't trust Cersei anymore, but he also didn't trust his brother or Daenerys, only Brienne. Was this the indication for love? Did he love her? Whatever it was what he felt, it was much stronger and much purer than any emotion Cersei had awoken in him. Would he jump in an arena with a bear to save his sister? Never. Not after all what had happened.

Jaime's thoughts were suddenly interrupted by something he saw on the road in front of him, or more precisely, by somebody. He slowed down his horse, observing the stranger who stood there in the middle of the path. His behaviour was quite odd, as if he were waiting for Jaime. The man was dressed in an uncommon way, not appropriate for a journey or for the oncoming winter, and had no horse or barrow with him. Jaime frowned. Had he already begun to hallucinate? Was this somebody send by the Starks, by Cersei? He started to see enemies and dangers everywhere around him, but that wasn't even paranoid, he basically was surrounded by foes. There was almost nobody in the Seven Kingdoms who didn't want him dead. If there was one good thing about going north, it was that Jaime would be able to see Brienne again. She, at least, had always talked to him on equal terms, feeling neither superior nor inferior. He prayed that it would still be that way. She was his only hope up there at Winterfell.

The man on the road was quite close right now, not having moved an inch since Jaime had spotted him. Normally, if this were just an ordinary peasant, Jaime would ride past the stranger, hoping that he wouldn't be recognised. But somehow, this situation was different. He almost knew that this person on the road, seeming foreign and somewhat out of place, would talk to him no matter what he did.

Jaime descended his horse, took the reins in his left hand and approached the stranger. He had no idea what to do or to say, but he also didn't consider himself to be in charge. The man stepped forward, making a self-confident impression on Jaime.

"Good evening, my name is Tony Stark", he said and put out his hand in the direction of Jaime's own right hand. Jaime guessed that he expected him to take it, so he raised his arm, knowing it would create a very awkward moment. The stranger tried to shake Jaime's hand and seemed quite startled for a second until he understood the situation.

"Well", he said, smiling a fake smile, "I'm actually not overly fond of people with prosthetic arms, but…"

"Wait", Jaime exclaimed, taking his arm back and ignoring what the man had said, "did you just say that your name is Stark?"

"I pretty much did say that, yes. My name is Stark, Tony Stark. The Stark from Stark Industries. Iron Man. There's no way you don't know me." He smirked.

Jaime eyed him, confused. He had never heard of a Tony Stark, but there was only one family with this name in Westeros. Was it possible that this guy was another brother of Ned Stark, or some sort of cousin? It had to be that way, even though he didn't resemble any of the Starks Jaime had met, and he had seen most of them. But still, wouldn't every Stark immediately recognise him, Jaime Lannister, whose family was responsible for the death of half of them?

"So, you are a relative of Ned Stark?", Jaime asked cautiously, still being quite puzzled.

The man snorted. "I only know one person called Ned, and he definitely isn't related to me."

Jaime frowned. Was this some kind of joke? "Listen", he said, irritated and almost angry, "I am Jaime Lannister. I don't know who you are, and I really don't have time to deal with your shit." He attempted to mount his horse again.

"Wait, wait", the Stark-guy interrupted, raising his hands as a pacifying gesture, "Mr. Lannister, I really just want to know where I am. Would you be so kind to tell me, please?"

"On the Kingsroad, obviously", Jaime replied gruffly, but inwardly he worked up curiosity. Everybody in Westeros would recognize the Kingsroad, it was the main way to King's Landing. You couldn't just end up there, it was a road you only travelled when you wanted to travel it. This man in front of him seemed to have a longer backstory, and even though Jaime knew he shouldn't pause much longer, he also wanted to know who this foreign person was. He somehow didn't consider talking to him as a potential danger. A risk, maybe, but not a danger.

"In which state are we, which country? Is this your native language?", the man pondered.

"It's the language my father taught me. We are in the Seven Kingdoms in Westeros." Suddenly, Jaime had an idea: "Are you from Essos? Do you normally speak High Valyrian?" He guessed that the man wasn't a Dothraki, he really didn't look like the ones the Targaryen girl had brought with her.

"What are you even talking about, I'm American!", was the stranger's confused and even a bit offended reply.

"Look, I have no idea what you are talking about. Either one of us is a really good actor or just…"

"…incredibly dumb", the man finished, and Jaime was speechless for a moment, as he had said exactly what had been on his own mind.

"Well, yes", Jaime agreed. Their conversation paused for some seconds and he thought to himself that he was neither acting nor lying or being moronic, but he somehow didn't think that the other man was doing one of these things. There had to be another explanation. Something… greater.

"It's definitely not me", the Stark-guy said. He took a step back, stretched out his arms and waited for a moment. All of sudden, several pieces of metal flew from the woodland alongside the road towards him. Jaime stood aghast as the single parts formed a complete suit of armour around the man and covered his whole body, even his face, hands and feet. He was fully armed, but not like the Mountain or other knights. Just a single layer of metal surrounded the man and it seemed to be rather light and flexible. What Jaime considered to be the most peculiar thing about the stranger's new appearance was that there was a light shining from within the suit of armour. It looked like a white fire burning in the man's eyes and chest.

"What in the seven hells is that? What are you?", Jaime said perturbed, after just having stared at this thing in front of him for a couple of seconds.

"I am Iron Man", the guy answered, and his voice sounded pretty much like it had before. He removed the mask that covered his face and looked at Jaime. "I could do much more than just stand here, but we don't want do scare you too much. At least you should believe me now."

"I do", Jaime said. He wasn't even angry about what the man had said, because it was in fact somewhat scary. Just like the White Walker he had seen that day. Unknow and unexplainable powers were at work there, things Jaime wasn't able to understand. It was obvious that the man wasn't from Westeros, he probably came from a completely different world. After everything Jaime had seen and experienced, he believed that many improbable things were possible. And that's why, he was also ready to believe what this stranger told him. In contrast to the White Walkers, he was human and not as unpredictable, and maybe he could even be an advantage for Jaime at some point.

"Very well, Mr. Lannister", the man -Jaime decided to just call him 'Stark' for now- answered almost sneeringly, "but I still don't have a reason to believe what you say. I don't have the time for a stupid prank."

"Fair enough, Stark, but I can't convince you as easily as you could", Jaime answered resolutely, "I really need to continue my journey up north, but I agree with you accompanying me. On the way I will tell you my whole story, and when I'm finished it's up to you whether you will believe me or not." Jaime thought that this was a good solution. He wouldn't travel as fast as before, but he had already overcome a good distance and wasn't really in a hurry to reach Winterfell. Besides, it was safer to travel with a companion (who could fight), especially now that the north wasn't that far away anymore. Jaime craved someone to talk to and to share his thoughts and sorrows with, and he was really willing to help Stark if he could, because he somehow felt that this encounter was meant to be. So, this should basically be a win-win situation.

After Stark had deliberated for a moment or two, he stepped out of his suit towards Jaime and said: "Alright, Lannister, we have a deal. I am all ears."

Jaime nodded, gave the reins of his horse a tug and started to walk along the track next to Stark, while telling him everything about Westeros and about himself that came to his mind. He talked about the Mad King, Robert's Rebellion, his own family and his relationship with Cersei, about the fate of the Starks, his encounter with Brienne and the arrival of the young Dragon Queen. In the beginning, Stark commented on what Jaime said, but after a while only the one was talking and the other one was listening as they travelled up north together.

Chapter Text

As they walked along the road, Tony attentively listened to what the other man told him. At first, he hadn't really been willing to trust the stranger, it wasn't easy for him to trust people after all he had experienced in his troublesome life. But in the course of their conversation, Tony noticed that there was a certain honesty about Lannister. After some moments of confusion he began to understand that the other had really never heard of him. At the latest as Tony showed him the Iron suit, it became apparent that this sort of technology was completely unknown to Lannister. But still, even though Tony figured out that something exceptionally odd had happened to him, he needed proof that the other's words were true. Lannister's suggestions of travelling and talking together seemed to be a sound idea, because he didn't want to stand in the middle of the road any longer as well and would be able to see more of this strange place. Therefore Tony accepted, being slightly curious about what Lannister would talk about.

Tony was a highly intelligent person, but what the other man told him was almost too much. Lannister said so many things, spoke of so many events and used so many names that he created a whole new and unknown world to Tony. Nobody would be able to make all this up extemporaneously. And it wasn't a pleasant story: It was full of cruelty, death, fear and loneliness. Tony soon couldn't help but believe Lannister. When the latter reached the part about having three children with his sister, Tony was equally convinced and shell-shocked. He couldn't imagine that somebody would say this just to fool another person, it even surprised him that Lannister talked about it at all. For a moment Tony thought that incest maybe was accepted in this strange world he had been blundered into, but the other man didn't seem to be proud of what he said. As Lannister then came to an end by explaining that he left his sister (she had a strange name like most of the people he talked about, something like Sersay) to ride north where he would basically meet his enemies, Tony saw why he seemed so sorrowful and broken. And he fully believed that everything Lannister had said was true.

They were silent for a couple of minutes, both deep in thought. The only noise heard were the hooves of the horse and their own feet that scrunched on the thin layer of snow which covered the ground. Tony, normally quite eloquent, wanted to say something but couldn't figure where to begin and how to put it.

It was Lannister who spoke up first and broke the silence. "It normally doesn't snow here, we're not that far up north yet. It's the imminent winter that changes everything. The road is much emptier than usual, the birds are silent. They're coming." Tony had been able to follow the story so far that he knew 'they' were the White Walkers. He couldn't actually picture an army of dead men approaching to kill the living, but on the other hand he also hadn't believed in Norse gods and aliens before he had seen them, and he rather wanted to believe in than to meet these zombies.

"So", Tony answered after a moment of consideration, "a periodic change of seasons isn't usual here? You know, on earth each season is 3 months long and therefore winter recurs every year."

Lannister looked at him. "The seasons of the year are more than a just change of weather here in Westeros", he said but didn't seem to want to enlarge upon the subject, so Tony simply nodded.

"I believe you", Tony said after a while, "I'm absolutely convinced that every word you said is true." He paused for a moment. "And I really don't know what is worse, the situation you and this world are in or the fact that I somehow became part of this story. I've been through a lot with my team and alone, but this is new. This is different."

"I'm glad you know the truth when you hear it", Lannister answered, seeming genuinely relieved that Tony didn't overcomplicate their situation by refusing to accept what had happened to him. "And I see why you are in an extremely desperate position, but for my own part it's quite a piece of luck to have met you." Tony snorted, but the other man said: "I'm serious, Stark, it's better to travel with somebody who knows how to fight these days. And I have to admit that talking to someone who doesn't characterize me as the Kingslayer right away is oddly comfortable."

Tony knew that this last sentence wasn't something that easily passed a proud man's lips, and he looked up to Lannister for declaring it. "I'm happy to be of help, and I guess meeting you also was much better for me than meeting some of these other people you told me about."

The man next to him smiled faintly, absently. "I guess you could say so."

After thinking about it for a moment, Tony said: "I should tell you some things about me and my story as well, before I try to figure out what to do about this situation. It will be confusing, because our civilisation is much more advanced than yours, but you deserve to know." He looked Lannister in the eye, waiting.

The other man nodded. "I'm listening."

 


 

It had already gotten quite dark and the night grew near. There was no beautiful sunset or golden glow, as the greyish sky was still full of snow clouds. The dim light just faded little by little.

Tony was tired. He had spent the first half of his day fighting alongside the other Avengers, and since he was in this strange place called Westeros he had walked continuously down the road next to Lannister. They had only made on short break, because they had heard some horses approaching and thought that it would be better to wait in the copse by the path instead of provoking a conflict. "It's not very likely that the riders will be happy to see me if they recognize me, and either way you're still dressed in a rather peculiar manner", Lannister had pointed out and Tony had agreed.

After Tony had finished his story, they had both been silent, each dwelling on their own thoughts. As to Tony he had mostly wondered about what would become of him once Lannister had finished his journey and reached the north. The latter wouldn't be welcome there, and Tony guessed that bringing him, a foreign stranger, didn't make things better. And if the dragon queen and his namesakes, the Starks, decided to kill Lannister, Tony would be quite ill off as well. Sure, he could always defend himself with his suit, but still he would neither have an ally in this unknown place nor an idea how to find a way back to his own world. For now he wanted to stay in Lannister's company as long as possible, because the other man seemed to be a good sort. Despite all the horrific things he had talked about, including his own actions, Tony considered him to be serious, sincere and trustworthy. He somehow couldn't help but like the man next to him.

Lannister raised his voice and disrupted Tony's train of thought. "It's going to be dark soon and I don't think it would be wise to travel at night. We should find a place to sleep erelong."

Tony nodded, the light was almost completely gone. "I guess you're not talking about a tavern or wherever travellers normally rest in this world. But don't worry, I'm quite used to sleeping in the open." Tony smirked, but his smile faded as he thought of Afghanistan. He had really spent more time afield and in miserable circumstances than he had ever wanted to during his time there. This could never be worse.

The other man looked at him with surprise. "Indeed! I presumed that a rich man like you always has a roof over his head."

"Aren't you a rich man as well?", Tony answered dryly, and Lannister darted a pensive glance at him.

"You're right", he said, sounding sobered. "You're right."

Lannister guided his horse off the road and into the woods next to the path. Tony followed him close behind. It was quite dark between the trees, so he used his suit as some kind of high-tech flashlight to light the way. "What in the seven bloody hells…", Lannister began to say but stopped as he saw that one of Tony's arms was covered with his armour that produced the light. "Sorry", he said while shaking his head in disbelief, "I just… have to get used to that."

You're not the only one, Tony thought to himself, he also hadn't come to terms yet with this whole situation.

"That ought to do", Lannister said after a while and pointed at a big tree whose wide crown had prevented the snow from covering the ground around it. He racked up his horse and they sat down, leaning their backs against the tree.

Everything around them was dark and cold, and Tony was quite glad not to be alone. He didn't even ask if they could make a fire, he knew that that would attract way too much attention, everybody on the road would be able to see it. Besides, there wasn't any dry wood anyway. But even if it would cool to much in the night, Tony could always let his suit warm him. He was more concerned about Lannister's situation, but then the other man had been through so much that the cold probably wouldn't bother him.

"Is that this reactor thing you talked about?" Lannister asked and pointed at Tony's chest from where a faint light radiated.

"It is", Tony said, and even though he could barely see the other in the darkness, he knew that Lannister shook his head again, and he actually quite caught his meaning. "Well, good night then."

"Good night."

 


 

Tony awoke with a start. He had had a disturbing dream: a bright green flash of light, so radiant that he hadn't been able to see anything for a few seconds, then a voice, a person, very familiar, suddenly everything had made sense… and then the dream had been over. The more he thought about it the less he could remember what had actually happened. Who was this person he had seen? Tony didn't know it and it drove him mad because he could sense that this information was important. "Dammit", he muttered, nightmares were crap.

He looked at the man next to him, but Lannister seemed to be fast asleep. It was still pitch-black, probably two or three o'clock. Tony sighed and tried to go back to sleep. He dozed off eventually, but the dream and the green flash didn't return.

Chapter Text

When Jaime woke up, he shivered with cold. The frosty morning air had turned the dew on the forest floor and on the leaves of the trees into glistening rime and his breath became a white cloud as soon as it escaped his mouth. The atmosphere wasn't stifling like the previous day but rather soft, and despite the cold Jaime enjoyed the fresh air. He felt so different that he wondered for a second whether his encounter with the odd stranger had only been a weird dream caused by his paranoia and anxiety. His departure from King's Landing felt as distant as if it had happened ages ago. Jaime rubbed his eyes and sighed. He looked around. His horse was still where he had racked it up, but Stark was nowhere to be seen. Had he really been hallucinating? Jaime stood up and walked around a bit, fully waking up and looking for his companion, but he seemed to be alone in the woods.

"Up here!" Jaime took a few steps back, startled. He raised his head. Above him between the branches of the trees floated Stark in his armour, slowly sinking down to the ground next to Jaime.

"I was just investigating the area bit, trying to find some of the places you talked about. I liked the Eyrie, but Harrenhal really is a fucking awful place."

Jaime knitted his brow. "How in the seven hells did you make it there and back here in one night?"

"That thing is faster than you think", Stark answered, pointing at his suit that was currently folding itself to an incredibly small size. Jaime tried to ignore it. "And I usually don't sleep a lot."

Jaime breathed a sigh. "You're bloody weird", he said, looking at Stark.

"I can only return that compliment", Stark answered with dry sarcasm, but somehow Jaime knew that the other one didn't feel insulted. This situation was weird for both of them, and they sort of understood each other, as they were similar despite their disparities. 

They were silent for a moment, listening to the rustle of the few autumn leaves that were still covering the trees. "Anyways", Jaime said after coughing slightly and approached his horse, "we should get going. It's not safe to rest here for too long."

Stark nodded and began to resolutely walk in a certain direction. With the reins of his horse in his hand Jaime followed, assuming that the other man probably knew best where the path was situated due to his sightseeing flight around the area. Shortly afterwards they reached the Kingsroad. It seemed to be empty, and Jaime thanked the old gods and the new for that, as if he hadn't lost his faith in any of them a long time ago.

The two man continued their voyage, vigilant for movements and potential dangers. Jaime remembered his journey with Brienne. They had been travelling in the other direction, and they had not nearly been watchful enough, which had mainly been his fault. He hadn't given a single fuck about what would happen to them, and his behaviour had almost led to Brienne being raped. Jaime swore to himself to apologize to her as soon as he would see her again. To apologize for everything. He had attacked and insulted her, and even though he had tried to make up for it by giving her his armour and a rather useless squire, he had never actually pocketed his pride and told her how wrong his actions had been. And Brienne, on the other hand, had always been so calm, patient, grateful and indulgent. He really didn't deserve her. She was strong, she was beautiful, and she was always right, so right. Jaime almost felt like crying. He had changed a lot because of this woman, he had finally left Cersei, but he needed to change even more. Brienne was his only hope at Winterfell, the only one he could trust, and he just had to give her a reason to trust him, too. He would never, ever hurt her again. 

A sudden rustling in the thicket alongside the road interrupted Jaime's thoughts and he jumped, fairly startled.

"Relax, Luke Skywalker, it's just a squirrel", Stark said patronizingly while pointing at the small brown animal that quickly crossed the path.

Jaime took a deep breath, he shouldn't have let himself get distracted. "How do you know the squirrels here aren't carnivorous or something?", he answered, trying to play it cool.

"Are they?", his companion asked languidly.

Jaime sighed. "Well, no", he began, but before he could remind Stark of the giant dragons, the other man said: "Tcha, thought so. We're not in the fucking Hunger Games after all."

"You're confusing me on purpose", Jaime declared as he realized it. His statement sounded more hurt than he had intended.

"Yeah, sorry", Stark answered. "I'm just missing the people who get my references."

Jaime nodded. That was comprehensible. "It's strange that we haven't met anyone yet", he said, changing the topic. "Around midday this road will definitely get more frequented. Until we reach Winterfell it's probably the best idea to hide, because people will recognize me. But at the latest when we've arrived, we should really have a name and story prepared for you. It's dangerous enough that you're in my company, but if you go and tell them that your name is Stark, your fate is sealed."

Again, his thoughts drifted to the last time he had travelled the Kingsroad. He and Brienne hadn't had any collusive story, and that had caused a problem several times.

"What do you think about Tony Potts as a name?", Stark enquired forthrightly, looking at his companion.

"That's sounds suitable", Jaime answered agreeably surprised, after reflecting for a moment. "How did you come up with that so fast?" He was quite curious.

A faint smile appeared on Stark's face, an expression Jaime had never seen on the other man before. "Potts is my fiancée’s last name", he answered plainly, but his voice sounded soft and kind. "She's called Pepper Potts."

It came to Jaime's mind that this had to be what true love sounded like. The Stark who was right now talking about the woman engaged to him was a completely other person than the man Jaime had spoken to minutes ago. He had never behaved or felt like that when he had talked about his sister.

"Tell me about her", Jaime requested in a sudden impulse, wanting to hear more about a relationship which was probably quite unlike the ones he had witnessed in the course of his life. In Westeros you entered into marriage because of money and power, and not because of love.

Stark gazed into the distance. "Pepper is… she's incredibly intelligent, she's extremely beautiful, and she's so, so brave and kind-hearted", he said, slowly and tenderly, "In her own way she's so much stronger than I'll ever be. She really is my better half in every aspect." Stark looked at Jaime. "You see, I know that she isn't perfect, nobody is. She's allergic to strawberries." He smirked slightly. "But then again Pepper is the most perfect human being that has ever walked on earth in my eyes. I couldn't imagine a life without her."

Jaime couldn't help sighing, suddenly overcome by a vague sadness. He smiled at Stark, but felt that his expression didn't reach his eyes. "This sounds beautiful", Jaime said, and truly meant it.

"It also makes you vulnerable", his companion noted, as if he wanted to alleviate the weightiness of what he had said before.

"I could accept that", Jaime answered quietly, and more to himself. "Love always makes you vulnerable, but it's not always worth it." His love, or whatever these feelings had been, towards Cersei had made him extremely vulnerable, had forced him to do unforgivable things to not get wounded. And had that been worth it? Jaime had never been less certain than in this exact moment.

"You're right", Stark said, equally quiet. "I'd accept anything for Pepper. She really is the one person I can't live without."

Jaime sighed again, silently. He felt alone. For him, his sister had always been the one person that was so closely linked to him that he hadn't been able to imagine a life without her. And now that he had left her behind, Jaime was completely on his own and didn't really know what all this would come to. It had been the right thing to go, but being aware of this didn't change the fact he had a very rocky future.

"Do you think that everybody has someone like that? Someone they can't live without?", he asked the man who walked next to him, thinking that Stark probably knew much more about that than he did.

"A few years ago, I would've told you that you can absolutely do this life alone. But know, after a lot of… dire experiences", Stark paused for a moment, "and because of the people I've met along the way, I think that everybody needs someone, everybody has a soulmate somewhere out there. It's not said that you'll find them, though. And even worse, if someone loses this one essential person, it can result in them doing horrible, horrible things. The strongest reason for hatred and violence is revenge for loved ones. Especially if you only realize what they meant to you after they're gone..." Stark trailed off, and Jaime saw the misery in his eyes. He was evidently speaking from experience, and Jaime really didn't want to stress him by keep talking about the subject, so he remained silent.

To his surprise, his companion soon spoke up again: "You're asking for yourself, I guess?"

 Jaime darted a quizzical look at Stark, raising his eyebrows. "Is it that obvious?"

"It's definitely what I’d do in your situation", the other man answered, "from what you told me this seems to be a huge change in your life, and I'm sure leaving your sister wasn't easy for you."

Jaime didn't like Stark's intonation when he said the word 'sister', but he also couldn't really blame him for it.

"She was not my soulmate", he said, feeling the urge to clarify that, "I always thought so, but now I know that I was completely wrong."

"How did you figure that out?", Stark asked, sounding genuinely interested.

"It's…", Jaime began, "I… thought a lot about her, about us, while travelling, before I met you. And I came to the conclusion that, for the people you love, truly love, you'd risk your life. Because in a dangerous situation, their survival is more important for you than your own future." He looked at his companion, who nodded in agreement. "And then I saw that for Cersei, all I had ever done was risking the lives of others for her sake, or our sake, but never my own. I wouldn't die for her."

"Your conclusion makes perfect sense, from my experience", Stark said, thoughtfully. "Have you ever risked your life for anyone? And I'm not talking about the time you killed that king to save your city, that's something else because you did it for a lot of people. I mean, have you ever risked your life to save an individual person?"

Jaime didn't have to think about this question for a long time, the answer popped right into his head, even before Stark had finished speaking. But yet, he hesitated. "Only… only once, I think. They forced her to fight a bear with a wooden sword. She would have died."

If this situation sounded in any way outlandish to Stark, he didn't let it show. "What's her name?", he asked, without missing a beat.

"Brienne", Jaime answered, shyly, "of Tarth." He felt that he was blushing, and hated it.

"That's the one who brought you to King's Landing?", Stark inquired.

"Yes", Jaime answered, and suddenly felt the need to tell the other more about her. "She's a knight, loyal to the Starks, and had the task to bring me home. I remember how I couldn't really stand her at first. Brienne is… unusually tall for a woman, taller than I am, and doesn't look the way one would normally describe a beautiful girl. She has short blonde hair and often a quite grim expression. And she really, really hated me at first", Jaime had to smile. "That's pretty normal when you're loyal to the Starks, she called me Kingslayer like everybody else and dealt with me in a quite gruff way." He paused, because it came to his mind that he probably shouldn't blanch the story over too much. 

"In fact", he continued after another moment of consideration, "it was perfectly understandable that she didn't like me. I was fairly arrogant and mocked her constantly, pointing out her unusual looks and asking her questions. I was just being myself to be honest, but I've changed a lot since then." Stark nodded, it seemed like he could relate to what Jaime had said. "Brienne actually managed to bear with me better than most, answering calmly to my questions. It's probably because she's used to vulgarities. She told me how people called her Brienne the Beauty as a joke to hurt her. It's... brutal. She actually is beautiful, in her way. But how will she ever notice, if people keep telling her the opposite?"

"Anyway, we then were confronted with several dangerous situations because of my behaviour. We had to cross a bridge as fast as possible so that nobody would see us, but I stopped her in the middle to challenge her to a sword fight. It was a really foolish thing to do, not only because she's an incredibly good swordswoman, but because we were naturally discovered and taken captive. I already told you about it, but in the end that lead to me losing my hand and to her almost being raped. I told them a huge lie to save her from that, and later when they found out I hadn't told the truth, they made her fight this bloody bear because I was already gone." Jaime felt anger surge up within him. "I will never forget that. Her in this muddy arena, in a red dress and with a wooden sword. She would have died. It was stupid to jump in there, because I wasn't able to do anything with only one hand that was not used to wield a sword. But I couldn't bear it to watch her."

Jaime tried to speed his story up a bit. "There were a few situations like this. I helped her, she helped me. Mainly the latter, because I was in an awful state after having lost my hand. I told her the truth about why I killed the Mad King, and she was the first person who actually listened to me. We arrived in King's Landing, and when she had to leave again, I gave her an armour and a sword made of Valyrian steel. It's the best possible metal for a weapon, and very rare and valuable. It was my way of apologizing, I suppose. The sword was actually mine, but she deserved it more than I did. Brienne called it 'Oathkeeper'… it's meaningful, to me. They called me oathbreaker, when I killed the King I was supposed to protect, you see. Brienne always encouraged me to believe that I could change, that I could leave my past behind me. I don't know whether she did it on purpose or not, but it worked either way. I remember how she called me 'Ser Jaime' when she left. She just used my name. It's something neutral, you might think, but most people don't think that I deserve to be called 'Ser' anymore. I keep being a Kingslayer for them, but Brienne simply used my name... Well", Jaime concluded, wanting to come to an end because he had talked a lot. "When I last saw her, she wanted me to talk to Cersei, to convince her that the White Walkers are extremely dangerous. I said that I was loyal to the queen while she is loyal to Sansa and the other Starks, but she told me to fuck loyalty. I was actually really shocked, and it truly left an impression, because Brienne is the most loyal person I've ever met. Her saying this showed me how important it had to be. I soon saw that she was right and that's why, I am here… and fuck loyalty."

Jaime looked at Stark who looked back, as if he would expect to hear more. "Now, I really hope you'll tell me she's up there in the North, or I will personally make sure we go to whatever place she's at."

"She should be there…", Jaime answered, slightly confused about the other man's words.

"She better is", Stark snapped. His features softened a bit when he saw Jaime's expression. "One of the worst things that can happen if it comes to soulmates is that they don't realize how essential the other person is to them. To be honest, from everything you told me about this place, the two of you should better sort things out before one of you dies."

Jaime was still not really sure what his companion wanted to tell him. Or he actually anticipated it but couldn't quite believe it until he heard the words clearly and distinctly.

"If you want to know what love is, don't ask me, 'cause you just gave me a ten minute long definition of it", Stark said insistently, "That's it, Lannister. You love her, and she loves you."

 

Chapter Text

Tony was pretty sure that what he had just said to Lannister was correct. Everything the other man had told him about Brienne reminded him a lot of his own relationship with Pepper. She also was a wonderful woman, he had described that to Lannister in a very detailed manner, but he hadn't told him how long it had taken him to actually notice and appreciate it, to appreciate her. He was deeply grateful that he was now able to be engaged to her, that they could be together. It was the best feeling in the world, and in Tony's opinion Lannister should and also seemed to deserve to experience the same. Especially in a place and situation like this, where death was imminent, it was important to be near the people you truly loved and to tell them what you feel before it's too late. Tony hoped that his words had opened Lannister's eyes and would help him to find some happiness in this bleak world. His companion still appeared to be somewhat caught off-guard, but Tony couldn't blame him for that, considering that Lannister had only experienced love in one way before in his life, which had probably been completely different from what he was feeling right now.

Looking around, Tony noticed that the landscape along the road was much wintrier than before. He guessed that they were quite close by the North, by Winterfell, and actual dragons, an army of zombies, and the people who were called Stark, like him. Well, actually he was Tony Potts for now, he shouldn't forget that. His thoughts drifted to Pepper again. He really hoped he would return home soon and see her again, so that he could enfold her in his arms. Not that he didn't enjoy Lannister's company, he actually started to grow fond of the man who was so similar to him somehow, but nevertheless he had to find a way out of here. His life on Earth was dangerous enough, and even though he didn't want Lannister to face his fate alone, he also didn't want to take his chance and be burned alive by a dragon. It was quite a difficult situation.

"I have to ask you something", he said after a while, looking at Lannister.

"Go ahead", the other man answered.

"Well, I'm still trying to figure out how I got here in the first place, and I told you that before I left my world, there was this radiant green flash. So, I wanted to ask you if there's anything here in Westeros that you'd associate with a bright green colour. A place, or a person maybe? Someone who could have brought me here?"

Lannister pondered about this question, and Tony lost hope that he would get the answer he wished for, the explanation for this whole situation.

"The only thing I can think of that is bright and green is Wildfire. That's a green liquid, and if you ignite it, it explodes with tremendous force. Its flames look just how you described it, but I doubt that Wildfire has anything to do with your being here. If you would have come in contact with it, you probably wouldn't be alive anymore", Lannister explained.

Tony sighed, that really didn't help him.

The other man looked at him, sympathetically. "You want to go home, don't you?"

Tony sighed again. "You're right." He then added: "Or I want to find out how to get home, at least. I don't want to let you down, really."

"No, it's okay. If I had a place I could call home, where people who loved me would wait for me, I'd also want to go there", Lannister said.

"That doesn't make me feel any better, you know", Tony answered, frustrated, but both of them had to laugh about it. It was a short but relaxing moment of carefreeness.

Soon, Lannister was all serious again. "But I really meant what I said, Stark. If you find a way to go back, do it. There's no reason to risk your life for me. And no offense, but it's possible that I'm more likely to survive at Winterfell if I come alone."

Tony nodded in agreement. "Fair enough", he said, "but for now I'm not leaving anyway. I've still no idea how I got here. I normally figure things like this out much faster."

"You'll find it out eventually, I'm sure of it. And we won't reach Winterfell until the evening, so you still have time", Lannister said, smiling reassuringly.

It was easy to tell for Tony that his companion enjoyed helping him, if only by making him feel a bit better, because he had also helped Lannister with his problems. They were a quite good team, Tony thought to himself.

The two men continued their journey up North in silence, and it got colder and colder. When he looked at the clouds in the sky, Tony saw that it would soon start to snow heavily. The forest alongside the road had become less thick and they had a better view of the landscape, even though there wasn't much to see. In the distance Tony spotted a large white tree with salient crimson leaves. He was sure he had never seen a plant like this in his entire life.

"What kind of tree is this?", he asked, pointing in its direction.

Lannister seemed to know right away what Tony was talking about. "That's a weirwood tree. Quite impressive isn't it?"

"Very unusual", Tony agreed.

"That's why they're the place where people who believe in the Old Gods of the Forest worship them", Lannister explained, "The Old Gods are by far the oldest religion in Westeros, but nowadays they are only worshipped in the North and beyond the Wall."

"This reminds me of Norse mythology", Tony said, "it's an ancient religion from my world that isn't practised anymore. But it was also a religion of the north, the north of Europe, in this case. The people there used to believe that a huge world tree, an ash, exists, which combines all the realms. The roots were hell, and the trunk was our world, and the crown was heaven. Approximately like that, but all in all there were nine realms. Anyways, because of this world tree, people often worshipped the Norse gods around trees."

Lannister nodded, seeming interested. "That really sounds a bit similar, even though the people here don't believe that they and their gods live in a tree, but that in each tree there lives a god." He paused for a moment, and then gave Tony a questioning look. "Aren't these Norse gods you just mentioned the ones that actually exist? You said yesterday that you met some of them, right?"

"Yes", Tony answered, and didn't blame Lannister for his sceptical look. "Believe me, those who met Thor first were convinced he was just completely insane in the beginning. I mean, it's impossible to believe that not only there are real gods, but that there are also more worlds than your own, and more creatures than humans."

"I can agree to that", Lannister answered, "the dragons and White Walkers here are strange enough, but that everything you told me about exists, too, somewhere out there, is crazy."

"It is", Tony answered. "I met two gods from Asgard, Thor and Loki."

"Thor", Lannister interrupted, "is the one who's part of your team, and Loki tried to conquer your world?"

"You can put it that way, I suppose. Even though I have to admit that Loki changed for the better, he actually helped Thor saving their people. Then Thor brought him back to Earth, and Loki didn't do anything ever since. Which is suspicious, to be honest. How can you trust someone who is called the God of Lies and Mischief?"

"I guess you're right there", his companion said. Suddenly, Lannister frowned slightly and gazed into space, deep in thought.

"What's up?", Tony asked after a while, puzzled by the other man's sudden silence and change in behaviour.

"Maybe I'm wrong, but you said that this world tree in your northern mythology has several worlds, right?"

"Yes, nine realms", Tony agreed.

"And if Thor and Loki are gods of these realms, they should be able to travel back and forth between the worlds, I guess?", Lannister asked.

"They are, at least Thor is, because of his weapon. He can teleport with it", Tony answered. He began to suspect what his companion was trying to say.

"I don't know if Westeros is one of these realms, or if it's another place in an apparently very huge universe, it might be possible that Thor could travel here and bring you back", Lannister concluded.

Tony nodded, pondering about that idea. "Yeah, I mean, that could be true." However, he didn't know how to send Thor a signal where he was. And if the God of Thunder knew anything about Tony's whereabouts and was able to travel to this place, he'd already have done that. Still, Lannister's idea was Tony's only clue yet, and he sensed that he was on the right track.

And then it hit him. The flash, the dream, everything made sense all of sudden. Tony stopped walking and turned to Lannister, thunderstruck. "You're a genius, Lannister, and I am a fucking idiot!", he exclaimed.

The other man looked at him, confused, and mumbled: "No one has ever said that to me."

In another situation, Tony would have felt sorry for Lannister, but right now he didn't even hear the other man's words. "Thor's axe Stormbreaker could bring me back, but it also could've brought me here!"

"Why would Thor do that?", Lannister asked.

Tony smirked. "Oh, he wouldn't." His facial expression suddenly became serious and angry: "But a certain brother of his would. I knew he was planning something, and that green flash... fuck, I should've known!" Tony finally realised that the person he had seen in his dream, the person who had brought him to Westeros, was none other than the trickster god himself. In retrospect it was quite obvious, green was his colour after all.

Tony stepped in the middle of the road, ignoring Lannister's alarmed glance and angrily yelled out: "LOKI!" 

Nothing happened for a second, until the bright green flash of light appeared again right in front of them. In the midst of it stood Loki, holding Stormbreaker in his hands. A wide, truly mischievous smile spread across his face, as he chuckled at Tony's angry and Lannister’s awestruck expression.

"Well well, did you finally figure it out, Stark?"

Chapter Text

Jaime looked back and forth between Stark and the man that had just appeared on the road out of thin air. He realised that actually seeing a real god teleporting to Westeros was very different from talking about it. Loki was wasn't dressed like Stark, but also not like people in Westeros. It was visible that he was part of yet another culture, another world.

"So, you are…", he began, and was immediately interrupted.

"I am Loki, Prince of Asgard, Rightful King of Jotunheim and God of Mischief", the black haired man said with a pompous, lordly tone of voice.

"I'm Ser Jaime Lannister", he answered, more intimidated than he would have wanted to admit. He eyed the stranger and added: "That's how I would've imagined a god."

"I like him", Loki said, smiling again and pointing at Jaime with his axe. The latter stepped back a bit, just in case.

"Loki, what the hell are you doing?", Stark asked, sounding very mad, "what is the fucking point of this?" He made a vague gesture at his surroundings.

Loki smirked. "I just wanted to see how these dull mortals on Earth would get along without their greatest defender", he said, the sarcasm prominent in his voice. "Unfortunately, they did quite well. It was much more fun for me to watch you being more and more afraid of this nice place."

"Afraid?", Stark repeated mockingly, "I am not the one who was traumatised by their first visit to another world."

"Oh, you must excuse me, I didn't mean to make an incorrect assumption. However, I am not the one who thought he was fighting his little battle alongside Thor, without noticing that it was Thor's brother who was wielding the mighty axe."

"How could they mistake you for your brother?", Jaime asked, quite confused, but regretted his question when he saw Stark's face.

"It's quite easy, really", Loki answered, only that he didn't look like Loki anymore, but like Jaime himself. He even spoke with Jaime's voice.

"Seven hells", Jaime whispered, while the god turned into himself again.

"You still owe me an explanation", Stark stated.

Loki smiled at him again. "I don't know what you want to hear. I am the God of Mischief, after all, and life on your little planet is soo boring."

"Thor won't be happy", Stark said with a threatening undertone.

"Of course he won't, but you don't think that this scares me, do you? He knew it wasn't a good idea to bring me back to Earth, and I'm sure he already suspects me of being responsible for your disappearance. But I have a reputation to lose, after all, and I would've saved you before anyone here would've decided to behead you. See, you need me, after all."

A smile spread across Stark's face as well now. "Is that what you are trying to prove? That we need you? By creating a problem on your own that you can help us with?", he asked, looking at the god in amazement.

"I'm not trying to prove anything", Loki answered through gritted teeth, and now he was the one who seemed to be angry.

Stark didn't provoke him any further, but from the facial expression of both men Jaime presumed that his companion had really hit the mark with his assumption.

"Well, why don't you help me with something, then, and bring me back home?", Stark asked patronizingly.

Loki glared at him. "I'd much rather let you rot here, but Thor will miss his axe soon."

Stark darted a glance at Jaime, and he knew that it meant something like "Who's not scared of his brother here?" Jaime chuckled in response. But his facial expression soon was serious again, because he knew that he would be alone again in a few minutes, and because he had grown fond of Stark, who didn't judge him but seemed to understand what he felt.

Stark turned to Jaime. "I'll have to go now", he said, and then hesitated, groping for words, "I know that you will manage to survive and get by up there at Winterfell."

"I hope so", Jaime answered, smiling sadly.

"You can come with us, if you want", Stark suggested, but Jaime immediately shook his head.

"That wouldn't be right", he answered, "maybe if everything here is over, I'll come visit you. I want to meet the people you told me about, your fiancée…"

Stark smiled gently. "She will like you. But really", he continued, pointing at Loki, "if you need my help, call for him or Thor. I'll be here right away."

"I beg your pardon?", Loki exclaimed, but they ignored him.

"I will remember it", Jaime answered, and he really was grateful for the offer. He might need their help at some point.

"Good", Stark said, "I'll leave now. Don't forget what I told you about Brienne."

"I won't. Thank you, Stark", Jaime said, and he truly meant it.

"It's Tony", the other man said with a smile.

"Goodbye then, Tony", Jaime said.

Tony opened his mouth to say something, but Loki took a step forward and rolled his eyes at their sentimentality.

"Farewell!" he shouted, raising his axe in the air. Once again a bright green light appeared, and then they were gone. Jaime stood alone in the middle of the road, tempted to question his sanity, as there was literally no proof that all this had really happened.

He turned to his horse, that balked when he reached out to touch it. It had obviously been scared by the bright flash, which was proof enough for Jaime. He mounted the animal and continued his journey to the North with a pleasant feeling of confidence.

 


 

Jaime slowed down his horse as he saw the large castle of Winterfell towering in front of him. A sudden wave of memories flooded his mind. The last time he had been here, everything had been so different. So much had changed since then, he had changed so much since then.

The place still looked the same, though, at least on the first glance. When Jaime eyed Winterfell more carefully while approaching it, he felt that it had changed as well, even if he couldn't tell what was different exactly. It was the whole atmosphere, the North seemed even less welcoming than before. This might be due to the approaching White Walkers, but Jaime guessed that a lot of awful, of saddening things had happened here since his last visit. Every place in Westeros had become more and more chearless in these past years.

The closer Jaime came to main gate of the castle, the more nervous he felt. There was no other word to describe it, he felt as anxious as never before. But it was not because of death that might be very close in the society that awaited him. He knew of their anger against him, he was ready for their trial. He had come face to face with death often enough on the battlefield, and he had seen the dragons, too. They didn't scare him. Death didn't scare him anymore. That's why it also wasn't the approaching Night King who made him feel anxious. Sure, Jaime would definitely feel safer if Tony was still with him, but he hoped that man who had become a better friend to him than any other men he had ever met, except for Tyrion maybe, was save with his fiancée now. He would only call for his help in an extreme emergency, and not if it was just his own life than was at danger. Still, he wanted to see Tony again, maybe when all this what happened in Westeros was over. If it would be actually over at some point, and if he would survive it, maybe he could call for Loki to bring him to their world. He would never trust the man who seemed slightly crazy, but on the other hand the God of Mischief couldn't be worse than the worst people he had met in Westeros.

After all he was quite thankful that Loki, even though he had not intended that to happen, had put Tony in his path. This man was so similar to him and had helped him so much with his different and impartial view on this world. Thinking of this reminded Jaime of the actual reason for his nervousness again. Tony's words echoed in his head: "You love her, and she loves you." By now Jaime had thought about it long enough to be convinced that his friend had been right with this statement. And he also knew that he would have to talk to her, to Brienne, as soon as possible, before the young Targaryen girl sentenced him to death. And this, the prospect of admitting everything to her, made him nervous and scared.  Because he loved her. And because even though he knew that Tony had been right about that, he wasn't sure that it was also true that Brienne loved him, too. Jaime felt like he wouldn't deserve it, even if she did. She was so pure and so good, and he was none of both.

But then again, from what Tony had told him, he had felt like that about his fiancée, too. He hadn't actually said that, but Jaime understood it from the context. And hadn't she loved him anyway, and didn't he still deserve her somehow, despite every bad thing he might have done in the past, because he had changed? Jaime knew that he probably shouldn't compare them in this aspect, because he was a much worse person than Tony Stark, but it gave him hope, hope and courage.

The gate of Winterfell was very near now, and Jaime could see that strangely, it wasn't guarded. He could only make out the silhouette of a single human being that was slowly walking towards the gate, their back turned to him. As he came nearer, he saw that it was a tall person with broad shoulders and short, light blonde hair. He spurred his horse, and when he was only a few meters away he couldn't help but shouting: "Brienne!"

She froze on the spot and turned around, her face full of shock and astonishment.

Jaime descended from his horse and rushed to her, repeating her name over and over again like mantra, before he stopped right in front of her. He looked at Brienne and they were both silent, while the snow who had been hanging above their heads in thick clouds for a long time silently began to fall. The blue colour of her eyes calmed Jaime, the slight frown on her face reminded him of their shared past. She looked beautiful.

"Brienne", Jaime said again, and it didn't sound breathless anymore but determined and firm, "Brienne, I love you."