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A Day at the Beach

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They left the horses near the top of the cliff, loosening their girths and tying them securely to a tree. The path down to the beach was steep and rocky, so they would have to walk the rest of the way. They could already hear the sound of the waves and smell the salt in the air.

Brienne put the long strap of the leather bag she’d brought with them over her shoulder, and handed Jaime the folded blanket. Duncan was happily trotting around, sniffing at trees and bushes. He was clearly excited to be somewhere new, and Jaime made sure he was following them as they set off down the path.

It was an unexpectedly sunny day. The wind had changed, blowing a warmer breeze up from the south, and the sea surrounding Tarth really was shining like sapphires.

The small bay was one of Jaime’s favourite places on the island. Quiet and secluded, rarely even used by fishermen, it was a good place to come when they didn’t want to be disturbed.

The stony path gradually gave way to soft sand as they made their way down. The tide was out, the white foam of the waves contrasting with the blue sea and the dark gold sand.

They found a flat place to sit between the small rocks. Jaime spread the blanket out over the sand. It took a few attempts to get it to lie flat, as the wind kept catching it like the sail of a ship.

Duncan bounded down the beach, barking excitedly. He sniffed at the salt water, darting backwards in surprise when a wave splashed around him. But he soon got used to it, and before too long the fur on his legs was soaking wet.

“He seems happy,” Brienne remarked.

“Who wouldn’t be happy here?” Jaime replied, smiling up at her. He knelt on the blanket to keep it in place, smoothing out the wrinkles with his hand.

Brienne sat down beside him and started getting out the food they’d brought with them. Some bread and hard cheese, cold sausages, some apples, a bottle of water and one of wine.

Duncan must have sensed the food somehow, as he came running back up the beach. He shook his shaggy grey coat, showering them both with water and wet sand. Then he tried to stick his nose into the bag and Brienne had to push him away.

“He can probably smell the sausages,” Jaime said, amused.

He picked one up and held it out. Duncan carefully took it from his hand and flopped down at the edge of the blanket to eat it.

“You’re going to spoil him,” Brienne told him.

“No I won’t,” Jaime replied. “Anyway he’s a good boy. He deserves a sausage.”

Brienne shook her head, but she couldn’t help smiling at her husband. She got a couple of cups out of the bag and carefully poured some wine into each of them, before handing one to Jaime.

He tapped it against hers before drinking.

“What was that for?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Us. Tarth. The future.”

“The future,” Brienne echoed, tapping her cup against his in return.

Jaime lent towards her a little, enjoying the feeling of her shoulder against his. Not so long ago he hadn’t been sure he would even have a future, let alone one with Brienne. But now spring was coming and they were sitting together on a beach on the island he now called home. He felt happy in a way he had never thought possible.

They ate in companionable silence for a while, watching the waves crash against the sand, enjoying the break from their duties.

Once most of the food was gone, Brienne got out the surprise she’s been saving: small honey cakes, freshly baked that morning. Jaime’s eyes lit up.

“I haven’t had one of these in years!” he said happily.

He took one and held it up, admiring the way it glistened in the sunshine.

Suddenly something hit his hand. It took Jaime a moment to work out what had happened. A gull had snatched it from him, diving down to grab it before flying off again.

Brienne couldn’t stop herself from laughing at his stunned expression.

“It stole my cake!” Jaime declared indignantly.

“Don’t worry,” she reassured him. “There are plenty more.”

They watched as the thief was joined by other gulls, all of them calling loudly as they tried to grap a piece of the cake for themselves. Duncan chased them down the beach, barking loudly at them.

Brienne offered Jaime another piece. He took it, exaggerating a pout and eyeing the gulls suspiciously. But he couldn’t help breaking into a smile at Brienne’s amusement.

The tide was starting to come in by the time they’d finished eating.

Jaime stood up, stretching.

“You know, I can’t remember the last time I paddled in the sea.”

“It will probably be cold,” Brienne started to say, but Jaime was already taking off his boots.

“Come on,” he said. “Come with me.”

He held out his hand to her, and she hesitated a moment before letting him pull her to her feet.

Jaime kissed her briefly before walking down to the sea, still holding her hand.

She stopped on the wet sand, letting Jaime go on without her. He experimentally dipped his toes into a retreating wave. It was cold, but not unbearably so.

“It’s not too bad,” he told her.

The next wave was bigger, splashing around his calves and soaking the bottom of his britches.

Brienne tried hard not to smile at the slightly pained look on his face.

But Jaime wasn’t about to admit defeat. He walked a few paces to keep his feet from sinking into the sand, trailing his toes through the shallow water.

Duncan came running down the beach to join them, splashing happily through the waves and soaking Jaime even further.

“It’s quite nice,” he called back to Brienne. “It’s actually rather refreshing.”

He tried to ignore the fact that his feet were starting to feel numb. Brienne was still watching him from the shore, looking amused.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come in?” he asked.

“Quite sure, thank you.”

He paddled for a few more minutes until another wave went almost up to his knees. The cold water was starting to hurt. He finally gave up and made his way back to where Brienne was standing. Together they walked back to the blanket, Jaime’s britches clinging to his legs.

“Happy now?” she asked as they sat down again.

“Yes,” Jaime replied, smiling. He tried brushing off the wet sand.

“I’m sure they won’t take long to dry,” Brienne told him.

Out of the water the sun felt warm, even with the breeze blowing in from the sea.

Brienne poured a little more wine into each of their cups. As she handed one to Jaime he lent in to kiss her. She could taste the sea spray on his lips.

“Jaime...” she started.

“Hmm?” he murmured, moving to kiss her neck.

“Not here.”

He looked up at her.

“Why not? There’s no-one here. Just us.”

“Wait till we get home,” she told him.

She gave him another quick kiss on the lips before giving his wine to him. He smiled at her, accepting his cup.

Jaime sighed contentedly, enjoying the peace. The only sounds were the waves and the breeze and the occasional cry of gulls. Duncan lay at the foot of the blanket, chewing on a piece of driftwood.

Once Brienne had finished her wine she lent back, propping herself up on her hands, her long legs stretched out in front of her.

Jaime put his cup down, moving so he could lie with his head in her lap. She shifted her weight to one hand, using the other to stroke his hair.

Jaime gazed up at her.

“Your eyes are the same colour as the sky,” he told her.

She smiled down at him.

“You’re ridiculous,” she told him affectionately.

“I know,” he replied, smiling back.

Duncan rolled onto his back, squirming in the sand with all his legs in the air.

“You’re ridiculous too,” Jaime told him. “And you’re going to need a good brush later.”

Duncan let out a short bark as if in agreement, his tail swishing through the sand as he wagged it.

Smiling, Jaime relaxed against Brienne’s legs. He watched the white clouds moving across the sky. The sound of the waves and the movement of Brienne’s fingers through his hair started to make him feel sleepy.

He might have dozed for a little while, as he was suddenly brought back to consciousness by Duncan’s wet nose in his face.

“Hey!” he said in surprise, pushing the dog’s head away.

Brienne laughed.

“I think he wants to give you a kiss.”

“I don’t want kisses from you.” Jaime told Duncan as the dog tried to lick his face again. “I only want kisses from her.”

Duncan finally got the message and lay down on the blanket again, still wagging his tail.

Jaime sighed and rested his head back down. The sky was starting to change colour on the western horizon, the clouds glowing pink.

“I think it might be time to go,” Brienne said.

“I’m comfy here,” Jaime replied, closing his eyes again.

“I thought you wanted to go home.”

Jaime looked up at her, seeing her slight smile.

He quickly pushed himself into a sitting position, bringing his face level with hers.

“I did. I do,” he told her.

He lent forward to kiss her, soft and slow.

After they broke apart he got to his feet and Brienne stood up beside him. She couldn’t resist kissing him again and Jaime pulled her close, letting himself get lost in the moment.

“Come on,” she said.

Reluctantly, he let go of her. It didn’t take them long to pack everything back into the bag.

Jaime wiggled his toes in the sand for a moment, enjoying the feeling before pulling his boots back on.

“Come on Duncan,” he called.

Duncan had been chewing on his piece of driftwood again. He evidently decided he wanted to bring it with him, as he carried it in his mouth as he followed them up the beach.

Jaime took a last look around the small bay. The tide was in now, the foam of the waves looking almost golden as the sun set. He hoped he’d have a chance to come back there soon. He took Brienne’s hand in his and together they made their way back up the path to the horses, and to home.