A knock on the door of Jaime’s study pulled his attention from the task at hand. He’d been pouring over the map of King’s Landing all morning, arranging and rearranging the City Watch assignments. It was tedious work, but tediousness was the privilege of peace. Still, he welcomed the interruption when he looked up from the map spread across his desk to see Brienne standing in the doorway, clad in the armor and white cloak of the Queensguard.
“Hello,” he greeted her quizzically, a soft smile overtaking his face. She wasn’t usually in the habit of visiting him in the middle of the day.
“I thought we could spar this afternoon,” Brienne said without preamble, striding into the room.
Jaime frowned. “What’s wrong with Pod?”
Brienne and her former squire sparred most weekends, often attracting a large audience of Queensguard and City Watch, and even a few courtiers, to the training grounds.
Brienne wrinkled her nose in distaste. “He’s busy with that girl of his.”
Jaime laughed. Sara, a lady’s maid in service of the Queen, was about as lovely and inoffensive as a person could be, but no one was good enough for Podrick in Brienne’s eyes.
“What about Arya?” he suggested. The Queen’s sister was always up for a fight, and she was probably the only person in King’s Landing who could be relied upon to best Brienne. Even Jaime would take the afternoon off to watch that.
“She left for Storm’s End yesterday,” Brienne said dismissively. “She’ll be gone a fortnight.”
The knight took a step closer, tilting her head and narrowing her eyes in a way that Jaime knew signaled she was about to tease him.
“Is Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer himself, hero of the Battle for the Iron Throne and Lord Commander of the City Watch, afraid of a little sparring match?” she challenged. Her large blue eyes sparkled with mirth.
“As a matter of fact, yes,” Jaime replied flatly. He refused to let her bait him so easily – not into a fight that would no doubt leave him sore for a week. He could still hold his own in battle, if need be, but serving as Lord Commander of the City Watch was more about strategy and planning than combat, which suited him fine. He left the grueling physical training to Brienne and her Queensguard.
“My sparring days are long over, you know that,” he said, lifting his prosthetic iron hand for emphasis.
“That’s nonsense,” Brienne replied, folding her arms across her breastplate. “You’ve just gotten lazy in your old age.”
Jaime laughed out loud. “Precisely what I’ve been saying this whole time!”
Sadly, Brienne was not to be deterred.
“Oh come on, Jaime!” she insisted, armor clanking as she approached him with determination. “It will do the Watch some good to see their Commander in the training yard!”
“Oh?” Jaime asked, his brow furrowed but his voice light and teasing. “And how much good will it do them to see their Commander thoroughly beaten by his own wife?”
Brienne raised her chin, stubborn. “A great deal, I imagine.”
Jaime laughed again, reaching for her as she rounded the desk and slid – armor and all – into his lap. For a moment, Jaime thought of the tense, guarded woman he’d met all those years ago, who would never have slid into anyone’s lap. Would have shuddered at the thought. Now, she slipped one gloved hand across his shoulder, mindlessly stroking the back of his neck. She’d gotten so good at taking advantage of his weaknesses, and she didn’t even know it.
“Please, Jaime?” she asked, her face hovering above his. “I’ve been cooped up in the throne room all week, I’m dying for a good fight.”
Jaime sighed, reaching up to tuck away a lock of short blonde hair that had fallen in front of her eyes. His hand lingered on her cheek. “Surely one of your other knights could indulge you on that front?”
Brienne just shook her head dismissively. “They’re good, but none of them can give me a real challenge.”
Jaime grinned in spite of himself. “Are you saying I can?” he asked, eyebrows raised. Brienne rolled her eyes.
“You know you can,” she grumbled, tugging on the hair at the nape of his neck in recrimination. The feeling went straight to Jaime’s cock, and his eyes slipped closed. He sighed.
“Thank you,” Brienne said emphatically, her put-upon tone belied by the wide smile that spread across her face. She took his face in both hands and pressed a firm, if brief, kiss to his lips, before striding back out of the room, accompanied by the swirl of her white cloak and a symphony of clanging armor.
“I’ll see you at the training grounds in an hour!” she called over her shoulder.
Jaime slumped back in his chair and shook his head. He was going to regret this.
The training yard was already full by the time Jaime arrived, bustling with cloaks both gold and white, and with the jewel-colored silks of high born lords and ladies. Word must have gotten out that the Kingslayer would be making a rare appearance. Or more likely, that he’d be suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of Ser Brienne.
He blinked in surprise when he spotted Pod, standing in his civilian’s clothes with a couple of other White Cloaks.
"I thought you were busy today!” Jaime accused him when the young man sidled over to greet him.
“I was,” Pod replied, grinning. “But then I heard you were getting your arse handed to you so I cleared my schedule.”
“How kind of you, Ser Podrick,” Jaime grumbled. He rolled his left shoulder in anticipation, shaking out the muscles of his sword arm.
“Anytime, old man,” Podrick replied, clapping him on the back.
“You watch yourself, boy,” Jaime retorted. He gave the other man an affectionate shove with his iron hand. “I may be old but I can still knock you into the dust any day of the week.”
“Really?” Podrick laughed, throwing back his head of dark curls. “Maybe I’ll have a go at you after Brienne’s finished with you.”
“Speaking of…” Jaime turned to survey the crowd, searching out Brienne’s broad shoulders and golden head. “Where is my wife?”
“No doubt preparing for your imminent defeat,” came an amused voice from Jaime’s elbow. Jaime groaned, turning to face his little brother.
“Not you, too?” he asked, glaring down at Tyrion’s delighted smile. “Next you’ll be telling me the Queen herself has come to the training yard.”
“Don’t think I didn’t invite her,” Tyrion replied mischievously. “But she told me she had more important things to do than watch two of Westeros’s greatest warriors playing at war like children. Her words, not mine,” he added unnecessarily.
“Then as usual she has more sense than anyone else in this city,” Jaime grumbled. A thought occurred to him and he searched the crowd again. “At least tell me Septa Mirin has kept the children away?”
“Haven’t seen ‘em,” Podrick supplied cheerfully. “Not to worry, though, I’ll give Arthur a full account tomorrow.”
Jaime just shook his head. Nothing would give his six-year-old son more pleasure than hearing another story about his parents, the mighty warriors. And Jaime was still hoping he would grow up to be master of law or coin or something else responsible and safe. He could be a bloody cook for all Jaime cared, if it meant he never had to take up arms and go to war. It didn’t seem likely – his favorite toy was a wooden sword, which he wielded with a seriousness and concentration that was pure Brienne.
Jaime rolled his shoulder one more time, and gritted his teeth. “Alright then, let’s get this over with.” He raised his voice to call out, “Brienne?”
“Yes, my love?” came her reply, ringing out from across the yard.
The crowd hushed, clearing to the sides of the training grounds so that Brienne appeared in his field of vision. She stood in her jerkin and shirtsleeves, holding two wooden sparring swords. The sight of her, armor-less and laughing, after all they’d been through, could still set Jaime’s heart racing.
He spread his arms in an exaggerated gesture of resignation. “I am here. Do your worst.”
Brienne grinned and tossed one of the sparring swords toward him. Jaime caught it easily in his good hand.
“Thirty pounds on the Kingslayer!” someone in the crowd called out.
“I’ll take those odds!” Podrick shouted back.
Jaime twirled the sword experimentally, cutting a clean figure eight through the air and earning an appreciative murmur from their audience. He’d never been much for fancy swordplay – better to just get the killing done with – but he knew it would irk Brienne, who hated it even more than he did. Indeed, he could see her grip tighten on her sword, her jaw set.
Shoulders hunched, she charged at him with a grunt. He sidestepped easily, watching her crash past him and pull herself up short, swinging around with her sword extended. He danced out of her reach, giving her his most infuriating Lannister smile.
“What am I always telling you about your emotions giving you away?” he taunted, watching Brienne toss her hair and square her shoulders as they circled one another carefully. “Passion makes for a good fighter, but control makes for a great one. Not that I don’t have great appreciation for your passion, my love,” he added, with a sly smile.
The assembled crowd laughed, and Pod yelled, “Oh, get a room!”
“Don’t flirt with me, Ser Jaime,” Brienne retorted, but Jaime could tell that she was fighting off a smile.
She struck again, and Jaime parried. Still, her superior strength drove him backward, and she followed, pressing him back step by step as their wooden swords met above them in the air in a series of resounding whacks. When she had driven him all the way back to the edge of the yard, Brienne finally delivered a blow that he couldn’t deflect, catching him in the chest with the point of her wooden sword. She gave him a satisfied grin before lifting her sword and stepping back. The audience cheered, and a few shouted their approval of “Ser Brienne!” or “The Lady Commander!”
Jaime let his sword arm fall, panting a little from the exertion, as he watched his wife stalk back to the center of the yard, satisfaction evident in her every step. If he were a younger man he could have snuck up behind her now, had his blade against her throat before she even knew he was there. He used to be so quick. Instead, he followed her back to the center of the yard, and waited for her to turn to face him.
“Not finished, then, Ser Jaime?” she taunted, raising her eyebrows innocently.
Grinning back, Jaime raised his sword. “With you? Never.”
This time he struck first, aiming low so that she had to drop her arm quickly and only barely managed to deflect the blow. She fell back a step and Jaime attacked again, driving her back even further. She stumbled then, and he caught her beneath the chin, stopping the thrust of his sword short just enough to tap her lightly with its wooden tip. He smiled triumphantly. This wasn’t going as badly as he’d thought.
His pride must have shown on his face because Brienne narrowed her eyes at him and struck back with even greater force, swinging for his head with such speed that Jaime had no choice but to duck to avoid it. Crouched on the ground, he took the opportunity to strike at Brienne’s knees, knocking her feet out from under her. She tumbled onto him, regaining the upper hand for a moment, but Jaime locked his knees around her and rolled them so he was above her. Hands planted on either side of her head, he grinned down at her.
“Well, this is familiar.”
Brienne’s knee made contact with his groin and he grunted, recoiling enough for Brienne to grasp his arms and roll them again. She straddled his lap, her wooden sword at his throat.
“I prefer it this way,” she replied dryly.
Jaime couldn’t resist. He rolled his hips up into her, the action small enough that their audience wouldn’t see. “I know exactly how you prefer it,” he murmured suggestively.
Brienne’s cheek’s colored, and she pulled back and stood, offering him a hand up.
“That’s two to one, Ser Jaime,” she said, raising her voice to be heard by the crowd. “First to five blows is the winner?” The crowd shouted its approval and Jaime groaned inwardly. He’d been hoping for first to three, and his muscles would not thank him for the extra challenge.
They circled one another again, until Brienne struck, and Jaime parried, and so on and so forth for the next half an hour. There were worse ways to spend an afternoon, Jaime had to admit. He enjoyed the playful back and forth, the constant struggle for dominance. It was a little like arguing with her. It was a lot like making love to her.
And, as always, Brienne was glorious. He loved to watch her fight – to see the fire in her eyes, the powerful lines of her muscles as she wielded her wooden sword like Valyrian steel. More than once, she nearly landed a blow because he was distracted by her arms or her thighs or the way her short hair fell in her eyes.
Naturally, Brienne was the first to reach five blows, although Jaime wasn’t far behind. She had him on his knees, her sword pointed at his heart, blue eyes gleaming with triumph, as the crowd erupted into applause.
Jaime dropped his sword, raising his hands in surrender.
“I yield, my lady,” he teased, breathing hard from the effort of fending her off for the better part of an hour.
Brienne rolled her eyes affectionately, then extended her hand to pull Jaime to his feet. As soon as he was up, he used their grasp to tug her against him, capturing her lips in a passionate kiss. For a second, Brienne leaned into him, while the crowd laughed and cheered its approval. Jaime wound his arms around her waist, and felt Brienne’s hands curl around his biceps as her lips parted beneath his. Then the Sept bell rang out, signaling the change in the guard, and she came to her senses, pushing him back by the shoulders. She shook her head at him, all red cheeks and disapproving glare, and then returned to the far end of the yard where she had left Oathkeeper with the rest of her armor.
The crowd began to disperse, and Jaime made sure he was no longer being watched before following her. He came up behind her as she reached for her breastplate, and caught her by the hips, pressing himself against her back.
“The children are with their Septa,” he murmured into the crook of her neck. “Come back to our quarters with me.” He rocked his hips into hers for emphasis.
“I can’t, Jaime,” Brienne muttered, her tone disapproving even as she tipped her head back against him. “The Queen is expecting me.”
Jaime dropped his forehead into the space between her shoulder blades, humming in disappointment.
“Are you on duty tonight?” he asked. He slid his arms around her waist to clasp them in front of her and Brienne covered his hands, one flesh and one iron, with her own.
“No,” she murmured back. “Are you?”
She turned in his embrace, draping her long arms around his neck and giving him one of her rare, loving smiles.
“Then I will see you tonight, Ser Jaime.”
“That you will, Ser Brienne.”