For years now, it has been Jaime’s practice to rise with the sun, pull on his practice armor and go immediately to the yard to train. No matter the castle, no matter where, his routine has been nearly uninterrupted since he could hold a sword in his hand.
That’s why he knows something is wrong when he opens his eyes this morning and is greeted by the sight of unfamiliar chambers full of late morning sunlight.
It takes a moment for Jaime to orient himself. He hasn’t slept this late since his tenth nameday, spent shivering with fever under the covers of his bed. Is he sick? Is something wrong? Addam was supposed to meet him in the yard, he should have come and woken him if Jaime was late...
It’s only when Jaime shifts that he realizes there’s a weight on his chest. Lyanna’s arm is thrown over him, her dark hair a tangled halo around her. She is asleep. For a moment, he can hardly recognize her without her rigidly blank expression--she looks relaxed, young. It’s strange to see her this way, Jaime realizes with a start.
He and his wife are equally uninterested in one another. Jaime is usually off fighting in the yard or trailing behind his uncle, learning how to manage the keep--a task that bores him to no end. He’s not sure what Lyanna does during the day--perhaps embroidery? Walking in the gardens? He’s never asked her, but Cersei had always said that’s how she and her ladies spent the time, though it was frightfully dull. Jaime sees her at meals, and if he can get drunk enough, he visits her chambers. He’s never asked, but he’s sure she likes it better this way, not having him around. They’ve certainly never spent the night together.
He can remember a bit of last night, through the haze of Arbor Gold he’d drank--but maybe he’d drank too much, and fallen asleep. Jaime is surprised that Lyanna hadn’t woken him, or told him to leave. He’s surprised she’s so close to him, at how she fits besides him so comfortably, at how in this light he can actually see her body.
He tears his eyes away, guilty, and clears his throat, as if that will make him feel less like he’s betrayed Cersei by not only laying with his wife, but by enjoying her.
Against him, Lyanna stirs, her hair tickling his chest. He can feel the moment she realizes where she is, who she’s with, by the way she stiffens, and pulls away.
“Ser Jaime,” she greets, mortified, even though her voice is still thickened with sleep. She rubs at her eyes, and when she opens them, Jaime gets the sense she wished he’d disappear from her bed between one moment and the next.
“Good morning,” Jaime replies automatically, for lack of a better thing to say, and he can feel the awkwardness fill the air like a frigid wall between them.
“I expected you to leave during the night,” she says, almost accusatory, holding the cover to her chest. Jaime is both sorry to see her body disappear beneath the cover and immensely relieved.
“Yes, well. I was sleeping,” Jaime returns sarcastically, before he can help himself. “And trapped beneath you, in case you couldn’t notice.”
Lyanna’s face flushes red. “I--” she sputters, “I was nowhere near you when I fell asleep!” Her face deepens into a scowl. “It’s your own fault that you fell asleep here, Jaime Lannister. You shouldn’t drink so gods-damned much before you come to my chambers, even if that is the only way you can muster up your courage to even look at me!” She huffs, and mutters, “Some brave knight you are, scared of a girl.”
Jaime recoils, if only because she’s right. Stiffly, he stands, ignores Lyanna’s squak of protest when the sheets fall away, and looks around for his clothes. His tunic is tangled with her nightshirt, discarded at the end of the bed and inside out. He pulls the sleeves out correctly with quick, jerky movements.
When he turns back, Lyanna’s face is still burning, and her eyes are on the ceiling. He shouldn’t mock her words, but he can’t help himself. He’s not afraid of her. “What?” he taunts. “Some lady you are, scared to look at a man.”
He can see her jaw clench from here, and slowly, she turns her face to him, eyebrow raised as she looks him over from top to bottom, assessing him. It’s the first time, he thinks, that either of them have looked , in the light of day, at each other. When her eyes travel back up to his face, his blood is burning all over again, and he resists pulling the tunic to his crotch.
Affecting an unimpressed expression, Lyanna shrugs. “I don’t see a man,” she says, and then lays back into the pillows. “Only a little boy, who’s late for his morning lessons.”
When Jaime scurries out of her chambers that morning, he concedes that he may have lost that round.
He manages to avoid Lyanna the rest of the day, embarrassment still crawling under his skin--and perhaps she’s avoiding him as well, because he barely sees her, except for at supper. It’s a small affair, just him, Lyanna, his uncle’s family and his brother. She sits next to Tyrion, as usual.
Of all the people in the castle, she’s taken to his baby brother the most, a thing that had confused and made Jaime happy in equal turns. Cersei, after all, had hated Tyrion with all her might when she’d still lived in Casterly Rock, as had all her ladies. His brother likes Lyanna too, likes the attention she pays him, that she doesn’t scorn him for his familiarity or chatter. Jaime can hear him talking about dragons from the other side of the table, hear Lyanna’s low laugh.
Perhaps Lyanna misses her brothers too, Jaime thinks, when he sees her grin down at Tyrion. Maybe she’s lonely here, far from home and her family. She hasn’t mentioned wanting for company, but then...Jaime hasn’t heard her mention much of anything since they were married.
Tyrion likes her so much, Jaime thinks. Since Lyanna arrived, that’s all Tyrion could talk about, how much he liked her, how they’d gone on a walk today, how they’d visited the lions yesterday. Perhaps Jaime should get to know her better too.
Stop thinking with your cock, a voice that sounds suspiciously like Cersei hisses in his mind.
Cersei. Jaime forgot, for a moment. His father put a stop to Jaime joining the kingsguard like he wanted, but that’s no excuse for him to forget it’s Cersei his heart belongs to, no matter who he had to marry.
He reaches for his cup. Lyanna Stark’s sad eyes be damned , Jaime won’t be getting to know her any better. He’s already betrayed Cersei enough. He won’t visit his wife again, not until he has to.
Afraid of a girl, Lannister? another voice asks him, and this time it sounds like Lyanna’s. When Jaime lifts his eyes from the wine in his cup, they catch on hers, grey as a cold morning. It’s like a shock to his system, to find her watching him.
Slowly, he puts the wine down.
The next morning, he’s awake at dawn, and this time it’s him wrapped around Lyanna, their limbs tangled in an intimate press. He’s never woken to Cersei this way, and gods he wishes he could have. Maybe it would lessen the guilt in his chest, now that he’s done something with his wife that by rights should have belonged to Cersei alone.
This time, when he gets up, Lyanna doesn’t wake. Her rooms face West, so the light is thin and weak as it filters through her windows, but Jaime can make out her features well enough. There’s a bruise on her throat, where he’d sucked a kiss last night. Unbidden, the memory rises up, and Jaime remembers her surprised gasp, the way she’d clutched at his hair, knuckles brushing the back of his neck when she twisted it under her grasp. He can remember the sting of it, how it had driven him deeper, made him suck at her throat harder. They’ve been married for nearly six moons and Jaime had never gotten carried away like that. He’s fairly sure she never has, either. He’s not quite sure what’s come over him.
He stares at her for a moment, as if the mystery will be solved simply by gazing hard enough. She looks relaxed. Tired, maybe, but then, they hadn’t slept very much. Her eyes move beneath her lids, and Jaime thinks she looks happy. Perhaps she’s dreaming.
He needs to leave . Now. Escape this room, escape Lyanna. Get air, pound Addam Marbrand into the dust in the practice yard a few times. Feel like himself, again. Get Lyanna Stark out from under his skin.
For the second time in two days, Jaime Lannister leaves his wife’s chambers with shame curling under his tongue.
While some things between them have...changed...Jaime would hesitate to say he knows his wife. They snap at each other whenever they speak, after all, and outside of her chambers they are rarely civil. At his uncle Kevan’s nameday feast, Lyanna stomps his toes hard during a dance in retaliation for his inelegant comment over dinner, and Jaime gets revenge by spilling a glass of wine down her front under the guise of drunkenness. She doesn’t speak to him for two days after, but it’s not like they speak anyways.
“You should apologize,” Tyrion tells him, eventually, with all the wisdom a twelve year old can possess.
“She stepped on me,” Jaime protests hotly. “On purpose. My toes are still bruised.”
“And you poured wine down her dress in front of all our guests!” Tyrion exclaims. “That’s embarrassing , Jaime. At least when she stepped on your toes nobody saw that.”
“She should apologize too,” Jaime says stubbornly, like a child. Tyrion just levels him with a flat stare.
“She’s all alone here, Jaime,” Tyrion tells him, as if that will change his mind. “You treat her nicely sometimes, I’ve seen it, but you act like bickering children and ignore her the rest of the time. She could use a friend.”
“You’re her friend,” Jaime points out, missing Tyrion’s point on purpose.
Tyrion rolls his mismatched eyes and gives a long-suffering sigh.
“Fine,” Jaime grumbles. “I’ll apologize.”
But it turns out apologizing to one’s wife is hard when she is nowhere to be found. Jaime ignores his uncle Kevan’s insistence that he must come listen to petitioners with him to simply look for his wife--only to be hit with the realization that Jaime doesn’t know what she does all day, has no idea where to start. She’s not in her chambers or her solar, and two of her three ladies are walking in the garden without her. At Jaime’s sharp questioning, they cannot tell him much except that she may have taken a liking to riding with Alanna recently, and perhaps he could ask the stable boys where she has gone.
By the time Jaime finds her, in the woods outside the keep, stopping by a stream with her spotted gelding, he is hardly in the mood to apologize. He’s tired, and annoyed, and angry with her all over again.
“Where is your guard?” he demands, when he rides up to her. “Your lady in waiting? You realize you could have been killed out here alone!”
Lyanna’s jaw is set, her eyes ablaze. “They’re around .” She guestures wildly at the trees, and Jaime can see that she’s angry too, perhaps more than he is. “What are you doing here, Jaime?”
“Looking for you!” he spits out, dismounting. “You’ve been gone for hours! What in the seven hells are you doing out here alone, you thoughtless girl?”
Lyanna flinches at that, and bats away his hands. “Don’t touch me,” she says, venom dripping from her voice. “I do this all the time,” she tells him, “and you’ve only now noticed?”
Jaime stares at her. “All the time?” he repeats, incredulous. “Your guard must be dead , Lyanna, or I’ll kill him myself.”
When Jaime steps forward, he barely has a moment to realize that she’s moving too, and the next thing he feels is the cold slap of water. He flails for a moment, swallowing a mouthful, before thinking, astonished, She pushed me in.
When Jaime pulls his head out from under the surface and blinks the water out of his eyes, Lyanna is there, a sword in her hands, pointed at him.
Jaime has no idea how else to react--he laughs. And laughs and laughs. It’s as though the anger was swept away from him with the water. It’s not long before Lyanna is staring at him as though he’s a madman, before loosing a chuckle or two herself.
“Stop laughing!” she tells him, before dissolving into giggles. “Gods, you-- stop it, Jaime, or I’ll run you through.”
“I--cant!” he gasps. “You look--ridiculous.”
And she does . He hadn’t noticed before, but she’s wearing breeches... his breeches, hemmed and tailored with a clumsy hand, but stolen nonetheless. And she has a sword , by gods, clearly filched from the armory, blunt and made for practice, but the sight of it is enough to send Jaime into fresh peals of laughter.
“Lyanna,” he says, breathless, when he’s finally calmed down, “what are you doing ?”
The smile drains from her face, and she pulls away, tucks the sword back onto the horse’s saddle. “You were coming at me,” she says, face turned away. “The sword was there...I just reacted. I wouldn’t have used it on you, I swear.”
Jaime struggles to his elbows, and then pulls himself out of the water. He’s soaked to the bone, but it’s a warm spring day, so he’s not too cold yet. “Why did you have the sword?”
Lyanna faces him, her jaw set stubbornly. “I was practicing.”
Lyanna sighs, and it’s the most aggressive sigh he’s ever heard. “No,” she mutters sarcastically. “I was practicing my needlepoint. Yes, swordplay!”
Jaime would laugh again, at the absurdity of it, if he wasn’t afraid his wife would run him through. “Why?”
“Benjen was teaching me,” she says, not meeting Jaime’s eyes. “Before I left Winterfell. Before we...he told me the most important thing was practice, so. I’m practicing.”
“Where are your lady and guard?”
Lyanna takes in a breath. “Alanna and Loran fancy one another,” she says, in one quick exhale. “They leave me alone while I practice.”
She’s scared, Jaime realizes, when she still won’t look at him. Scared that he’ll take this away. He has the power to, as the next lord of Casterly Rock. His father certainly would, if he saw Lyanna with a sword.
“Let’s see, then,” Jaime says, and pulls out his own sword. He astonishes himself sometimes. “What you’ve learned.”
Lyanna’s eyes snap to his at that. “I only have a practice sword,” she says warily.
“I’ll go easy on you,” Jaime assures her.
Lyanna’s mouth twists at that, as though she doesn’t like the idea, but she gets the sword anyways. She falls into a stance, and Jaime is impressed with it. Her feet are properly placed and her weight looks distributed well. She doesn’t struggle with the sword in her hand.
He waits for her to make the first move, and disarms her.
Lyanna lets out a sound of annoyance, then grabs the sword up from the ground. She eyes him suspiciously. “Are you just trying to humiliate me?” she asks.
“Maybe,” Jaime says. He’s smiling. “It’s fun.”
This time, she comes in slower, watching him. Jaime’s one of the best swordsmen of his generation, everyone says so. It still surprises him that it takes a few moves to disarm her this time. He’s underestimating her.
“Not bad,” Jaime notes. Lyanna, pacing in front of him, gives a feral grin that he matches.
He’s not particularly challenged, sparring with her. It feels more like a playful dance with secret steps, just between the two of them, than a fight--but Jaime likes it, the laughing, the bold smack Lyanna lands on his ass with the flat of her blade. It ends when Jaime disarms her for the eighth time, steps in close enough for their breath to mingle.
“You’re not angry?” she asks. Her palms rest on his shoulders, burning brands against the cold, wet fabric of his shirt.
Does he have a right to be angry? Jaime has hardly shown an interest in her. Can he be mad at her for hiding it if he hadn’t cared?
“I don’t know,” he answers truthfully. “I’m angry you came out here alone. You could have been found by...someone. You could have been hurt.”
Lyanna shakes her head. “I’m never alone,” she whispers. “You don’t know what it’s like to always be watched . In Winterfell I was allowed to do what I wanted, for the most part. Here, I have to play the lady. It’s exhausting.”
Jaime, strangely, knows exactly how she feels.
“Will you teach me that move?” Lyanna asks, and Jaime finds himself nodding. Anticipating. Lyanna’s answering smile is blinding.
When she rises hesitantly onto her toes to kiss him, Jaime meets her halfway. It’s the first time they’ve kissed outside of their wedding ceremony or her chambers. Behind him, Jaime can hear the stream and the birds, the horses quiet shuffling. Lyanna’s hand comes around his neck, and Jaime feels her touch in more than just his skin. It burns deeps into his body, around his heart. When they part, he’s dizzy.
“Let’s get back to the keep,” Jaime suggests, voice low. He’s sure she can hear the desire burning under the surface, by the way she huffs a laugh against his lips. He’s sure she knows what they’ll do when they’re back. She kisses him again.
“I’ll race you there,” she says, and before he can react, she’s swinging onto her saddle and off , hair streaming in the wind and delighted shouts reaching back for him.
For some reason, this time it feels less like a betrayal. He likes her, Jaime realizes. And so, for the first time, he follows her.