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The Godfather

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Jaime and Brienne watch Robb while Catelyn is in labor at the hospital. Jaime knows that Cat and Ned probably wouldn’t trust him alone with their rambunctious 4-year-old, but clearly they think Brienne is the adult in the house (she is, but she’s also much sillier than anyone but Jaime gives her credit for).

But Jaime knows this is the chance to get Robb to love him so that he’ll ask his parents to hang out with Uncle Jaime and Aunt Brienne of his own accord, and then he’ll really be in. Brienne teases him about wanting the approval of a little kid, but she gets it. Kids are fun! Who wouldn’t want to hang out with kids!?

When they bring Robb back to their place, Jaime reveals that he bought a soccer goal and ball just for the little guy. Brienne laughs at him, but it’s the warm, open laugh that he knows means that she finds him infinitely charming and lovable. His favorite laugh.

At first Robb has no interest in the soccer set, he just wants to run around in circles and play in the golden piles of leaves all around their yard, which Jaime can appreciate. He imagines that’s the way he was at this age, not that he has anyone who would tell him if it’s true. He knows it’s how Brienne was because her dad has seemingly hundreds of old video tapes of her and Galladon running around their yard just like this. Sometimes he thinks about how Selwyn and Tywin suffered the same loss and reacted in opposite ways — one pulled his children close and the other pushed them away. Jaime takes a video of Robb.

Brienne, beautiful genius that she is, tells Jaime to get into the goal. She starts shooting at him, all sorts of complicated tricks that she mastered back in college, when she led her team to the national championship (Jaime still wears her jersey sometimes. She rolls her eyes but he knows she actually loves it when he does, because they always end up making out on the couch).

Brienne’s efforts work and now Robb wants to know how to kick like that, too. It takes maybe half an hour for him to get the ball in the net the first time, but his incredible patience is rewarded when Jaime celebrates by lifting him on to his shoulders and running him around the field. Robb giggles like crazy and Jaime feels like an absolute hero for making it happen. Robb’s joy is infectious, and when Jaime finally puts him down he grabs Brienne by the waist and gives her a kiss.

“Eww,” Robb says, breaking the moment. “Gross.” Jaime pours as Brienne pulls away.

“It’s my house, Robb,” Jaime says. “I can kiss my wife if I want.”

Robb seems stunned by this news. “You’re married?” Brienne scoops him up.

“You came to our wedding, you don’t remember?” she asks him. Robb shakes his head. Jaime takes out his phone and finds a photo of himself, Brienne and two-year-old Robb in the backyard of the Stark house, on the day they married under the old tree. Robb was a terrible ring bearer, but he was absolutely adorable, so he was also perfect. Brienne wore this light blue gown Cat had helped her find and Jaime wore a navy blue suit and Robb wore overalls because he screamed when his parents tried to put him in khakis and a bow tie and Brienne and Jaime said they really, truly, didn’t care.

Robb is momentarily mesmerized by the photo.

“That’s me?” he asks like he didn’t believe them.

“Yep,” Brienne says, pointing out that it was at his house. He mostly believes them.

When they bring him inside for a snack, Brienne’s phone rings.

“It’s Lyanna,” she gasps as she answers it. Jaime set ups Robb at this kitchen table with grapes and a couple Oreos as she goes into the other room to answer it. Because of their respective family histories, they’re both nervous about the whole “having a baby” thing, but they don’t want Robb to pick up on their worried energy. Jaime gets the little guy laughing by throwing grapes in the air and catching them in his mouth.

“You’re so silly, Uncle Jaime,” Robb says and Jaime can’t help the huge grin that spreads across his face.

Then Brienne comes back into the kitchen and she’s positively glowing. She sits across from Jaime and Robb, who has started throwing grapes at his new favorite uncle. Jaime can’t wait to rub it into Edmure’s face.

“Robb,” Brienne says. “Do you want to go to the hospital and meet your baby sister?”

They meet Ned in the waiting room. Robb runs right into his dad’s arms, like he hadn’t seen him for days instead of six hours.

“I had the best time with Aunt Brienne and Uncle Jaime!” he says as his dad carries him to meet his sister. Jaime and Brienne hang around the waiting room with Lyanna and Edmure and Brynden and — unfortunately — Lysa, who have already met baby Sansa. (Later, Brienne teases Jaime about getting all tongue-tied around Brynden, who he once called “the hottest man I have ever met.”) But everyone wants to give the new family of four a moment together.

Soon Ned comes out to bring Brienne and Jaime in. They brought Cat and Sansa flowers, a rainbow of tulips.

Cat is glowing with Sansa in her arms and Robb snuggled into her side.

“I’m a big brother!” he yells. Cat shushes him softly, reminding him that the baby is asleep.

“I’m a big brother,” he whispers, and Jaime rumples his hair.

“She’s beautiful,” Brienne says as she kisses her friend’s cheek. And she is. Ned’s so happy he keeps patting Jaime on the back, apparently forgetting that he doesn’t even like Jaime that much.

“Brienne,” Cat says with not a little emotion in her voice. “We wanted to ask you to be Sansa’s godmother.” Jaime smiles from ear to ear and his wife bursts into happy tears.

“Yes! Yes! Oh my god, yes!”

“Shhh,” Robb says. “Don’t wake the baby!” Every laughs. Jaime puts an arm around Brienne’s waist.

“We couldn’t think of anyone better,” Ned says as he takes Sansa from Catelyn. She looks so small in his giant arms.

“I can’t believe we’re godparents,” Jaime says, and then — to his chagrin — Cat, Ned AND Brienne all burst out laughing.

“You’re not her godfather, Jaime,” Cat says, wiping a tear from her eye. “Gods, could you imagine?”

“What?” he says, a little annoyed. “You picked my wife!”

“We already asked Robert to be her godfather,” she says, nicely.

Oh, that’s the last straw.

“Robert Baratheon?” Jaime says, trying not to yell and wake the baby. “My brother-in-law?” It’s salt in the wound. Though an idea is forming in the back of his mind...

“Maybe Cersei will make you her baby’s godfather,” Brienne offers, but she and Jaime both know that will never happen.

“I don’t need another god baby,” Jaime says. “I already have one. Sansa.”

“Jaime,” Brienne says with an eye roll.

“No I know I’m not the godfather. But! If Brienne had a kid before she met me, I’d be their stepfather, right?” Brienne and Cat, used to him, go along with this and nod. He’s pretty sure Ned is just ignoring him.

“So if my wife has a godchild, that makes me the stepgodfather.” Both the women laugh at him again.

“That’s not a thing,” Brienne says.

“Jaime,” Cat says in the motherly way she had down way before she had Robb.

“I just —“

“No,” Brienne says.

“You can’t just —“

Ned interrupts.

“I don’t know, Cat,” he says, as he puts his daughter back in his wife’s arms. “I don’t think it would be so bad of Sansa has three people looking out for her instead of two. Even if one is...” He gestures vaguely toward Jaime. It is far and away the nicest thing Ned has ever said about him. Jaime shakes his hand, which makes Ned laugh at him too.

“I won’t let you down.”

And he doesn’t.

For Sansa’s first birthday, Jaime goes overboard and definitely buys her too many presents. But Brienne is an enabler, sending him links to toys and books and custom baby bomber jackets when she’s bored at work. And they can’t really leave Robb out, even if he’s not their godchild, so he gets lots of presents, too. They both get a stern talking to from Ned and Cat about not spoiling the children, but they don’t take it remotely to heart.

By Sansa’s fourth birthday they realize that she is not particularly interested in any sport-themed gift they get for her, so they do a hard pivot toward arts and crafts and books and puppet theaters. Jaime does incredible work with sock puppets.

For Sansa’s fifth birthday, the only gift she remembers from the day is a secret — that she’s getting a godsibling. Or a stepgodsibling. She brags about it for the rest of her life, and Arya and Robb pretend to not be jealous that she knew about Joanna and Don first, but they are.

They drop the five-year-old twins with Ned and Cat for Sansa’s tenth birthday, and they take the three oldest Starks to see their first musical. Sansa sings the songs from Frozen for weeks, driving even Rickon crazy.

They go to all her musicals. They’re up to their ears in Stark kids all the time, because every time Sansa comes over, the other kids do, too. Jaime looks at his big full house, so different from the one he grew up in, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

When Sansa is 16, she confesses to Brienne that she has an enormous, all-consuming, heartbreaking crush on her best friend Margaery. Brienne is sort of terrible at dealing with teen heartbreak, so Sansa ends up watching a sappy romance with Jaime and the twins while Brienne reads a book and wonders how she ended up with people who willingly watch Nicholas Sparks films.

Sansa brings her girlfriend Margaery to their house for dinner when she’s 17. It doesn’t matter that they’ve met Margaery before at all of Sansa’s theatrical productions. This time it’s serious.

“So you’re Sansa’s godparents?” Margaery asks while they eat the lasagna Jaime has obsessed over all day. They all laughed.

“Well sort of,” Sansa said. “My parents asked Aunt Brienne to be my godmother. And Uncle Jaime was too much of a baby to let himself be excluded.” 

Brienne defends him.

“Jaime knew what an incredible young woman you’d grow up to be, and he wanted to be a part of it.” Sansa blushes, shy in front of her new girlfriend.  

Jaime wonders if stepgodfathers get to give toasts at weddings.