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A Convenient Arrangement

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“You need to get married,” Tyrion said.

“What are you going on about?” Cersei replied. It was almost five o’ clock but she hadn’t left her office even for a sandwich. She was about to call her assistant when Tyrion breezed in, threatening to give her a headache on an empty stomach. The worst of both worlds.

“The latest polls came in. You’re lagging behind,” Tyrion explained.

“What, one bad poll and you think I must tie the knot?”

“Three polls. And what I’m worried about is that you are consistently losing ground. Right now you’re polling behind Stannis Baratheon and the gods know he’s as interesting as a rock.”

Cersei’s relationship with her younger brother was a lot better these days and she trusted him enough to have Tyrion serve as her campaign manager, a task he took to beautifully, but just then Cersei considered slapping him. Instead, she snatched the tablet he was holding between his hands and frowned as she studied the graphs on the screen. She looked at the next graph. And the next.

“I am a perfectly good member of parliament. I was the leader of the committee—“

“Yes, yes,” Tyrion said. “No one can deny those accomplishments, but this is what you are up against.”

Tyrion held up the latest issue of Westeros Weekly, which he conveniently carried under his arm. The cover showed Eddard Stark and his family, smiling for the camera. Cersei didn’t know what disgusted her more: the fact that Catelyn Stark was holding a tray of cookies in her hands or the matching sweater vests the boys wore. Was there a more saccharine group of people around? It was like swallowing a gallon of syrup and choking on it.

“I’m running against a man who doesn’t know the meaning of the word vasectomy. Really, who on Earth has five kids these days? He gets to be prime minister, you know he’s removing the new module on sex education from textbooks,” Cersei said, tapping a perfectly manicured nail against the painful plastic smile of Eddard Stark. She tossed the magazine on her desk. “It’s irresponsible, that’s what it is.”

“Cersei, you can’t be the first woman prime minister of Westeros and the first unmarried prime minister at the same time. It’s too much. And you have all those old scandals with the tabloids.”

“What scandals?”

“That picture of you kissing Jaime on the lips after a gala? Remember that?”

Cersei rolled her eyes. Yes, she remembered it. She also remembered that the Targaryen family tree was more than a wee bit inbred, so she didn’t see why that stunt had to be the thing everyone remembered about her. “I was being rebellious! I was also seventeen!”

“Rebellious is stealing a car. That was… I mean, I’m not sure what that was. He wore your toenails in a little glass bottle around his neck.”

“So Jaime and I had a few codependency issues,” Cersei said throwing her hands in the air. “But these days we have very sensible boundaries. Plus he’s dating that giant woman and she’s a soldier. It has to count for something that my future sister in law is a soldier!”

“It’s still not going to make up for your other scandals. Mainly Robert Baratheon,” Tyrion said as he gingerly took out his e-cigarette.

“He dumped me to go back to his stupid girlfriend!”

“Yes. And you retaliated by releasing a voice mail of him yelling at you and you yelling back.”

“Which should have proven how much of an ass he was.”

“Which branded you as vindictive and spiteful,” Tyrion said as he sat on the couch, glancing at the ceiling. “Then there was that time you called Loras Tyrell a ‘dickless, lying weasel’ during a session in Parliament.”

“And he didn’t even sue for libel, which proves he is in fact a dickless, lying weasel,” Cersei said smugly.

 “Your nicknames include the Wicked Bitch of the West and Lady Cersei Bitch-a-lot.”

“How very original. If I’m so despised then tell me why I’ve completed two turns as a member of parliament, hmm?”

“It’s not the same running for prime minister and you know it. Sure, you’ve got the support of the westerlands, but that still leaves everyone else. Now, I realized this race might be a challenge but I didn’t quite realize how much of a challenge.”

“And you think getting married will magically clear all these hurdles,” Cersei said snapping her fingers and sitting down in front of her brother.

“No. But we’ve concluded our focus group work and the marriage is a big sticking point. Look, with some donations to the right charities, some appearances on the right TV shows, maybe a change of haircut—“

“I’m not cutting my fucking hair, Tyrion,” Cersei said.   

Her brother sighed. “It’s just an option. But the problem is that you need a husband. It would make you more… human-looking if you were actually presumed to be in an affectionate relationship with someone or some thing. And think of the free press a wedding would get us. The interviews you could do! Do you know that Selyse is being interviewed for King’s Landing Home Journal? It’s a piece on the ‘modern woman.’”

“I would ace a piece like that,” Cersei grumbled. She would definitely look better on the cover; the gods knew Selyse wasn’t the least bit photogenic. “Well. Don’t keep me in suspense. Exactly who do you want me to marry? I imagine you have a dossier with several candidates at the ready.”

“I’ve got one man,” Tyrion said raising a finger.

“One.”

“Most men your age with the right credentials are taken, Cersei.”

“Is that a dig at my expense? Merely because I have standards?”

“Well, you know, it gets a little harder—“

“I’m thirty-seven, not a hundred.”

With a great figure at thirty-seven, to boot, she thought angrily.

“I realize that.”

 “Well, who is this one candidate?”

“Petyr Baelish.”

Cersei blinked. “Isn’t he a dragoncoin millionaire?”

“He trades in electronic currencies but also has investments in social media. He’s been named one of the Top 40 Under 40 Entrepreneurs. He’s single, has very good press in the tech world, and most of all he is willing to have a quick wedding,” Tyrion said, helpfully counting the man’s accomplishment with one hand. “If we do it before the end of the month that would give you eight whole months before election day. It would be a convenient arrangement, for the both of you.”

Cersei stared at her brother and he stared back at her.

“The press would be surprised to know I’m getting married. Will they buy it as genuine?”

“We’ll say you are both very private people and have chosen to keep the lid on your relationship. I’ll also release some ‘candid’ shots of you together supposedly documenting your relationship prior to this surprise wedding.”

“Could I arrange a convenient divorce after the election?”

“We’ll time it right. A year into your government.”

“I would have to meet him first,” Cersei said slowly and she took out her phone. “He could be a psycho with mommy issues for all I know. Let me see what my calendar—”

“I scheduled him for nine tonight. Drinks at The Bawdy Badger.”

Cersei looked at her cellphone and realized this was indeed the case. Her calendar read “Bawdy Badger, 9 pm. P. Baelish.” Tyrion had walked into her office knowing what her answer would be all along. Sometimes she really, really hated her little brother.