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Three Fathers

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Three Fathers.

 

If we lay a strong enough foundation,

We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you,

And you’ll blow us all away...

~*~*~*~*~*

Tywin.

If he were the sort of man to shout things from the top of Casterly Rock, Tywin Lannister would have done so the moment the maester and Tywin’s sister, Genna, came into his solar to tell him that his lady wife was safely delivered of both a son and a daughter.

A son!

All through Joanna’s pregnancy, he had told himself that he would be fine if his first child turned out to be a girl rather than a boy.  He would not place the burden of disappointed hopes on his beloved wife, who he knew had longed for a daughter even as she insisted that she wanted a son as much as he.  Still, it was far easier to say that he would not have been disappointed had there only been the girl now that he knew for certain that there was a boy.  Tywin was not a religious man, but even he could not help but thank the gods that they had seen fit to send them what they both wanted.

“The babes are small, but healthy,” Genna said after the maester had delivered the news.

“And Lady Lannister?” Tywin inquired.  “How is she?”

The maester looked concerned.  “To be sure, Lord Tywin, the births were difficult on her, as they are on any woman.  However, I foresee her making a full recovery.”

Genna smiled at her brother.  “She wished me to send you her love.”

Twyin nodded brusquely.  “Thank you, that will be all,” he stated.  He heard the sweep of robes as the maester took his leave.  Tywin turned back to reviewing the scroll on his desk of yet another mess of his father’s making.  Yet for some reason, he found he could not concentrate on the words in front of him.  A smile crept across his face as he thought of his son—thought of both his children, but particularly his son.

“You aren’t deceiving anyone, Tywin Lannister,” Genna said, and Tywin nearly gave a start.  He had not realized she hadn’t left with the maester.  “You’re pleased as anything that you got the boy you wanted, and Joanna gets the girl she wanted.”

“Naturally, I’m pleased that my lady wife was safely delivered of two children, both of whom appear healthy by your own report,” Tywin said, trying to sound harsh with little success.  He was even less successful at driving the smile from his face.  “And every man wants sons to carry on his legacy after he is gone.  That is the way of things.”

“Naturally,” Genna replied wryly.  “Well, should you care to take a short time away from worrying about whatever predicament Father has placed himself in now,” she indicated the scroll on his desk, “your children are waiting in the room beside Joanna’s.”

Tywin was not going to scurry away to see his newborn children like some eager pup seeking a treat.  He would finish going through these scrolls before doing so.  He gave a curt nod to his sister and turned away, but not before he saw the knowing look in her eyes as she made a swift curtsey and left the room.

Tywin waited five minutes before he gave in.  He set the scrolls aside and made his way toward his wife’s rooms.  He did not show his impatience to see his children by rushing through the hall or glaring at the servants who would stop to murmur felicitations on the births.  He walked briskly and with purpose, and soon enough he was standing before the doors to the nursery.

He walked into a large, airy room with a view of the sea from the windows, which were opened to let in light.  He frowned momentarily—was it not tradition that the rooms should be shut tight to keep out anything that might harm the children or Joanna?  Tywin was about to turn to the nearest servant, a nursemaid who had entered with an armful of linens, and unleash an invective that would not soon be forgotten, but then he paused.

We are golden, of the sun.  We should not hide ourselves in shadows and live in fear.  We are lions and fear nothing.

Still, he would make sure those windows were well shut by nightfall.  There was no sense in taking unnecessary risks.

Tywin walked toward the two cradles that stood across from the windows, well protected from the bright sunshine that came into the room and looked down to find that only one of the cradles was occupied.  Both children were resting peacefully in one cradle, as close as they had been in Joanna’s womb.  They looked so much alike that he wasn’t sure which was the boy and which the girl.  They were so beautiful that even Tywin, a man who never admired anything simply for beauty’s sake, was left speechless.

“B-beggin’ yer pardon, m’lord, but…the little lord don’t like to be separated from his sister,” the nursemaid said.  “He cries somethin’ fierce when he’s in his own cradle.  T-the maester says he was born…holdin’ her foot when he came out.”

Tywin somehow doubted the veracity of the story, given that simple biology made it impossible to have occurred, but such a story…well.  That was how legends began.  Tywin almost, but not quite, smiled.  In the future, he could turn to that story and tell people, That’s my little cub, wanting to take care of his sister even before he is fully born.

“I think you must be mistaken,” Tywin said, his voice calm but firm, never taking his eyes off the children.  “My daughter cries when she is parted from her brother.  That is the reason for having them in the same cradle.”

There was only a short pause, indicating that the nursemaid wasn’t as foolish as some.  “O-of course, m’lord.”  He heard, rather than saw, her curtsey as she left the room.  He fully expected she would be waiting outside the door for when he left, as she should be but for now Tywin was grateful she was gone and he was again alone with his children.

He looked at the tiny girl.  “You, sweetling, will someday be a queen.  A beautiful golden queen that none will ever outshine,” he murmured.  He then looked at the small boy.  “And you, my son, will be first a knight, then a lord, and then…who knows?  Perhaps someday, all the Seven Kingdoms will know your name for your famous deeds.”

In the back of his mind Tywin thought of the jeering laughter he heard during his own childhood as a result of his father’s follies.  He thought of how little the name Lannister had meant for years, until he had come along and rescued the family from obscurity and ignominy.  Now the family name meant something again.  Now people feared and respected Lannisters.  No one sneered at them in public or in private, no matter what his father continued to try to do to embarrass the family.

I’m going to give you everything, Tywin thought as he stared down at the two children, who looked so alike at this moment.  My little Lion and Lioness of Lannister.  You will never feel what I felt.  I will do whatever it takes to make sure of that.  You will never know what it is like to feel inferior.  No one will ever mock or shame you.  You are Lannisters.  You will be the pride of our house and our name.

Tywin’s smile was gone by the time he reached the nursery door to leave, but the pride and determination in his heart remained.

~*~*~*~*~*

You have my eyes, you have your mother’s name

When you came into the world you cried, and it broke my heart…

Selwyn.

Selwyn Tarth had had every intention of being home for his second child’s birth.  Although he had not been in the room with his wife when she had given birth to Galladon, as that would not have been appropriate, he had been outside the birthing chamber the entire time.  Brie had assured him that knowing he was there, praying for the safe delivery of their son, had made the difference.

However, a situation arose in a village near Evenfall Hall that Selwyn was duty-bound to resolve.  The maester assured him that the child was at least a fortnight away from being born, and although Selwyn had been tempted to send someone else to handle the dispute, his Brie had known better.

“You have never been one to let others handle your affairs,” she said from the bed where the maester had insisted she remain once she entered her seventh moon, for her health as well as that of the babe.  “You will only be gone for the day.  ‘Tis unlikely I will have the babe so soon.  The maester says I have a fortnight, at the very least.”

Selwyn bowed to the wisdom of his wife and left her early the following morning.

All throughout that day, something lingered in his mind that told him he had made a mistake.  He could not precisely describe why he felt his way, only that he knew deep in his heart that something was wrong.  Selwyn set it aside as best he could and gave the matter before him his full attention, so that he would not be forced to return tomorrow.

The matter was settled late in the afternoon, and Selwyn rode as hard as he could to return to Evenfall Hall, the feeling that something was wrong only getting worse.  He bypassed the stables, riding his horse almost to the front steps of his ancestral home, his heart squeezing tight at the sight of his four-year-old son weeping on the top step.

“Galladon!” he shouted, leaping from the horse and taking the steps two at a time.  “What is the matter?”

“M-mama,” Galladon said between loud sobs.  “M-mama is in pain.  I heard her screaming, and I tried to go to her, but Septa Roelle hit me and said I had to stay outside.  The maester came but even can’t get Mama to stop screaming.  And…”

Selwyn had heard enough.  Sweeping his small son into his arms, Selwyn hurried into the hall, up the stairs, toward the chamber where his wife was.  When he reached the door, Selwyn was suddenly struck by how quiet it was.  From Galladon’s description, he had expected to hear what he had heard the first time he had waited outside of Brie’s chamber, but there was nothing.  His heart clenched again as cold prickles spread across his skin.  Dear gods…no, please.  Not her.  Not my Brienne.  I’ll never put her through this again even if she has to drink moon tea every day and night.  Just let her live.  Please, gods.

Selwyn clutched Galladon tighter as he knocked on the door, his prayers almost blocking out his son’s crying.  He waited for a minute that lasted longer than all the rest of his minutes put together before the door finally opened and Septa Roelle, a small, pinch-faced woman, appeared.

“Lord Selwyn,” she said brusquely, somehow managing to look up at him in a way that made him feel as though she were looking down at him at the same time.

“My wife,” he said, reminding himself that he was the lord and master here and would not be cowed by any greying hag.  “How is she?”

“Lady Brienne has made it through the birth, although not without great difficulty,” she replied.  “The child was rather large, and there was a great deal of bleeding.  However, the maester was able to stop it and your lady is now sleeping.  He expects that with rest and time, she will heal completely.  I would not recommend waking her now.”

The fear that had Selwyn firmly in its grasp loosened its hold on him, and he breathed a sigh of relief.  He planted a kiss on the top of his son’s head.  “Did you hear that, Gally?  Your mother was in pain, but now she’s going to be fine.  And you have a…” A shadow of the fear returned as he looked again to the septa.  “And the child?”

“A girl.  She—”

“A girl!”  Selwyn smiled broadly at Galladon.  “You have a beautiful little sister.”

Septa Roelle made a small noise that sounded suspiciously like a snort.  “Beautiful is perhaps not the word I’d use to describe her, my lord, but I’m sure all babies are beautiful to their parents.”

“I fail to see how you can make such a declaration.  All babies tend to look alike right after birth,” Selwyn said, trying not to let his irritation with this woman show.

“Well, my lord, I suppose you would know best,” she said.  “She’s in the adjoining room if you wish to see her.  She was carrying on so much that we moved her cradle so Lady Brienne could sleep.”

Selwyn decided he’d had enough of this woman for one day.  “Thank you, Septa.  You have done good work today and have earned time to rest yourself.”

Septa Roelle nodded and took her leave without further comment.  Selwyn set Galladon on his feet and asked, “Would you like to see your sister, Gally?”

Galladon nodded.  Selwyn took his hand as they walked into the room next to the birthing chamber.  Based on Septa Roelle’s words, he had expected to have heard the babe crying by now, but the room was quiet save for an occasional soft whimper.

Selwyn reached the cradle, looked down at his daughter’s squashed little face, and admitted to himself that the septa may have been correct about the baby’s looks.  She had no hair on her head at all, her jaw seemed too broad, her lips too full, her chin…well, if he were being objective, he supposed there was nothing wrong with it.

And then she opened her eyes…and they were just like his.

Though Galladon had been born with blue eyes as well, Selwyn had known even from the start that they would turn grey as his mother’s.  But this little one, with her plain little features, had his eyes, the color of the waters that surrounded Tarth.  Eyes that were so beautiful that they could render someone speechless.  They would not change, he knew it.

Selwyn carefully lifted the child out of the cradle and bent onto one knee so that Galladon could see her properly.  “Here she is,” he said.  “Here’s your sister.”

Galladon studied her for a long moment.  “I don’t care what Septa Roelle said.  I think she’s beautiful,” he said.  “What’s her name?”

Selwyn hesitated.  He had not discussed names for this child with Brie, for much the same reason as they had not discussed names when she had been pregnant with Galladon—for fear that the gods would punish them for their hubris and steal the child away before it was born.  Galladon hadn’t been named for a full day after his birth.

He looked at the child again.  There was only one name that came to his mind.  Somehow, it seemed right.  “Brienne,” he murmured.  “Her name is Brienne.”

~*~*~*~*~*

My father wasn't around…

I swear that I'll be around for you

I'll do whatever it takes, I'll make a million mistakes

I'll make the world safe and sound for you…

 

Jaime.

Jaime had paced the floor in front of Brienne’s room for hours, furious that he was not allowed to be with her as she cried, ranted, and yelled.  Who had decided that husbands should not be in the room when children were being born, he wondered.  They bloody well were there when those children were being conceived, so they should be there when they arrived.  He had pointed that out to the maester and midwife who rushed into the room as soon as they had been called to Brienne’s side.  The scandalized looks he’d received told him that he could protest all he wished—he wasn’t going to be allowed in there.

Jaime had been a father thrice over before today, had even been present at the birth of his first son, though no one knew the truth about that at the time.  Yet he had not felt much of a connection to any of the three children he had sired on Cersei.  Part of this was her insistence that he not even hold his children, for fear that someone would suspect the truth.  However, if he was honest with himself, Jaime knew that he had not assumed any sort of responsibility for the children at first because he had had little interest in being a father.  Cersei had wanted a child to secure the Iron Throne for their family.   She needed two more children to be certain their legacy could not be destroyed should a childhood mishap take their eldest son.  Jaime had happily obliged her on every occasion, then willingly stepped aside to let them be claimed as Robert’s.

When did that change, he wondered.  After I lost my sword hand?  After Joffrey and Father died? After I realized the truth about Cersei?

The greatest regret of Jaime’s life was that his intentions to protect his two remaining children had come too late.  Myrcella, lost somehow in Dorne, while Tommen…

Tommen. The only one of the three Jaime had felt a true connection to, in the short time he had spent with the lad before being sent away to the Riverlands to restore the peace.  Jaime remembered making plans for Tommen, had even considered telling him the truth, but word had reached him as he was making his way back to King’s Landing that his hopes were in vain and Tommen was gone.

“You’re going to wear out that bit of floor if you’re not careful,” a voice said from the direction of the stairs.  Jaime stopped and saw his goodfather smiling at him as he walked toward him.  The smile changed into a grimace as he a sudden shout came from within the room.

“I should be in there.  Brienne needs me,” Jaime muttered.

“Damn you to the seven hells and back, Jaime Lannister!”

Selwyn raised an eyebrow at him.  “I suspect your presence wouldn’t go over well just now,” he said.  “Best to stay out here and ruin the floor with your pacing.”

“You’re not going to encourage me to join you in your solar for a drink or ten?” Jaime asked.  “I was informed by my aunt Genna that that is where men are supposed to wait as their children are being born.  Indeed, she said that my father had not even gone to see me and my sister until well after we were born.”

Selwyn’s smile grew wider.  “Genna doesn’t know you as well as she thinks she does, if she thought you would do anything like your father did.”

“Tyrion is Tywin’s son…not you.”

Jaime thought of the things he had done that he believed would prove her wrong…and the many more things he had done which had proved her right.  He supposed that standing outside the birthing chamber was yet one more thing that proved her right.  He wondered if he should feel angry about that.

“I never said anything to you, but I met your parents once,” Selwyn said.  “I went to King’s Landing to see the king because we needed his assistance dealing with some damned Greyjoys who were making a nuisance of themselves.  Aerys was of no help—there were rumors, even then, that something was wrong with him.   So I went to your father.  I spent an entire day pleading with the king without getting anywhere, but I had your father’s promise of support for Tarth within an hour.”

Jaime wasn’t sure why Selwyn was telling him this story, but he said nothing.

“We had reached the godswood at the end of our negotiation and found several ladies of the court there, including your mother.  She was pregnant with you and your sister at the time, and all the more beautiful with it.  I turned to take my leave of your father and saw him with such a look of love on his face that I felt as though I had intruded to see it.  I turned away and pretended I had seen nothing.  Your father introduced me to your mother, who was…very kind.  I don’t know if anyone who knew her has ever said, but you have her eyes.  And you have her warmth of heart, for all that you’re a Lannister.

“Tywin Lannister was a cold, ruthless man, make no mistake.  But he loved your mother with everything he had.  He may have been inside that solar waiting to hear news of your birth, but his heart was with her the entire time.”  Selwyn paused, then added quietly, “I would expect nothing less than to find you here, son.”

A lump formed in Jaime’s throat at Selwyn’s last words.  Fearing he would be unable to speak without humiliating himself, he only nodded and resumed pacing.

An hour later, with Jaime still pacing and Selwyn leaning against the wall across from the birthing chamber, the noise reached a crescendo of screaming, chanting, and sobbing—and then suddenly died out.  The loss of sound made Jaime’s blood go cold.  What had happened?  Were Brienne and the babe well?

Then he heard a thin, reedy sound that became a powerful roar.  His child, announcing their presence to the world.

Jaime could stand it no longer.  He threw open the door to the room and stepped inside, the loud chuckles of his goodfather ringing in his ears.

“Lord Jaime!” the scandalized midwife exclaimed.  “You can’t be in here!”

“You said I could not be present at the birth.  The child is now here, therefore the birth is over,” Jaime said, turning away from her to where Brienne lay in the bed.  She was pale and sweaty.  The freckles stood out in stark relief on her face.  Her lower lip was bloody and looked as though she’d nearly bitten through it to keep from screaming.

She was the most amazing sight he’d ever beheld.

Brienne looked over at him, a tremulous smile on her face.  “I did it,” she whispered, almost imperceptible amidst the bustle of the maester, who was still tending to Brienne, the squawking of the midwife, who was trying to drag Jaime out of the room, and the screaming babe, who was being tenderly handled by Pia.

Jaime’s eyes turned to the latter.  He could see little but a set of flailing arms and legs, but he could hear the child, leaving no doubt that it was healthy.  He looked back at Brienne and nodded.

“Lord Jaime, while I appreciate your attentiveness to your wife, I must ask you to leave.  You are causing too much of a distraction,” the maester said.  “You will see your wife and daughter soon enough.”

Jaime looked to Brienne.  She gave him a reassuring nod, which was the only thing which could have persuaded him to leave.  It wasn’t until he was in the hallway again with the door firmly shut to him that the maester’s words sank in.

Daughter.  I have a daughter.  Not that it mattered—he had loved her from the moment Brienne had shyly told him she was with child and placed his hand on the slight swell of her belly.  But somehow, hearing that the child was a girl, he loved her with even more ferocity than he would have if she had been a boy.

“Well?” Selwyn asked.

 “Brienne is fine.  The maester said they’d bring the child—my daughter—out shortly.”

Selwyn clapped him hard on the back and laughed with delight.  “Something told me it would be a girl!”

Jaime hardly heard him.  If he made conversation, he never remembered what it was later.  All he could think of was his daughter, and how soon that thrice-damned midwife could get out here with her, and when would he and Brienne be able to be alone with their daughter, and…

The maester’s idea of “shortly” and Jaime’s were not the same, as it was an eternity before the door to the chamber finally opened and the weary midwife came out with the swaddled babe in her arms.  She smiled as she walked to Jaime.

“Here she is, Lord Jaime,” she said as she carefully handed the baby to him, mindful of his lack of right hand.

For a moment, Jaime feared that it might not be safe for him to be holding a baby.  It wasn’t as though he’d had a great deal of experience holding babies even before losing his hand.  He’d held Joffrey once, right after he was born, and then he’d been whisked away before Jaime had a chance to sort out how he felt toward him.

Then he realized that the midwife had stepped away, and the child was secure in his arms, and there was no mistaking what he was feeling now.  No one was taking this little one away from him.  Not now, not ever.

Selwyn stepped over to him and peered down at her.  “She’s beautiful,” he murmured.  “As beautiful as her mother on her nameday.”

“Yes,” Jaime agreed, as the child’s left hand managed to free itself from the swaddling.  Her tiny fingers brushed over his stump as he thought, How will such a fragile hand ever be strong enough to swing a sword?  And yet he knew she would, because this child was Brienne’s daughter as much as she was his.

“Have you two discussed a name for her?” Selwyn asked.

Jaime nodded.  They had had several lengthy and loud discussions about what to name the child if it had been a boy, but there had never been any doubt about what the name would be for a girl.

“Catelyn,” he said, smiling at her.  “Seemed appropriate, given that she was the one who brought us together.”

“I somehow doubt that this was her intention when she did so,” Selwyn said wryly.  “Still, as you said, an appropriate choice.”

Jaime couldn’t stop staring at his daughter, his little Cat…his everything.  Had his father held him like this on his nameday?  Had Tywin felt the way Jaime was feeling now?  He had so few memories of his father while his mother had been alive.  If he thought on it, he could recognize the depths of his father’s love for his mother in the looks they exchanged when they thought no one noticed, or when they thought their children were too young to understand.

In a way, his aunt was right.  He was not his father’s son in many ways.  But in this…in loving this child, loving the woman who was resting just beyond that door…in this way, he was exactly like his father.

Selwyn’s hand rested on Jaime’s right shoulder.  And although his own father had been dead for years, although Brienne of Tarth was likely the last woman in all of Westeros that Tywin ever would have chosen to continue the Lannister legacy, although Tywin likely wouldn’t agree that this child was beautiful and would have hated the name they had chosen for her long ago…Jaime thought he could feel a hand rest on his other shoulder, and the weight of his father’s approval shining through as the three men stared at the little girl in Jaime’s arms.