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twelve bedrooms

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1. Their nursery, Casterly Rock.

Jaime and Cersei share a nursery after they are born. Jaime is too young to remember but there are pictures of their mother beside two cribs in one of the photo albums that prove it was so. The walls are pale yellow. The room is theirs.

2. “Jaime’s Bedroom,” Casterly Rock.

Jaime’s bedroom is the one beside Cersei’s. Cersei’s bedroom was once the nursery, but now it is her room. That is what their parents and their nanny call it. Cersei’s bedroom. Jaime and Cersei know better.

(At first Jaime didn’t know better. For ages whenever someone told him to go to his room he would ask which one they meant. But he learned. Now when an adult says “his room” he knows which one they are referring to. It still doesn’t feel like his.)

Tonight, like most nights, Jaime is tucked into bed at night by his mother in the room everyone calls “Jaime’s room”. Sometimes it is the nanny who tucks him in. On very rare occasions it is his father. But tonight it is his mom who is here with him. She pulls the covers up to his chin and kisses his forehead before she says good night and leaves the room while Jaime waits. He waits and he listens for the voices in the room next door, the same as he does every night as their mom repeats the same routine with Cersei. He waits until he hears the soft footsteps and the door close, and then he waits a little longer, until the footsteps have retreated downstairs and the adult voices are gone or just distant murmurs coming from beneath the hardwood floors.

Jaime shimmies out of bed without moving the blankets. His bare feet don’t make a sound on the floor as he creeps to the door and opens it just a crack and peers through. When the coast is clear he opens the door slowly, wary of the way the hinges creak if he moves too fast. He has this down to an art. A science. He holds his breath as he slips out of the room the adults call his.

He does this almost every night.

He takes the seven steps to what the adults call “Cersei’s room” and opens her door just as quietly. Only when he is in their room with the door closed behind him does he let himself breathe again.

Cersei is awake and waiting for him. She always is. She smiles when he clambers up into the bed and snuggles in beside her. They pull the heavy blankets over them and whisper to one another until they drift off to sleep.

Their sprawling manor of a house is hardly more than a handful of rooms to Jaime, and no place is more home than the bed he shares with Cersei.

3. His new bedroom, Casterly Rock.

Jaime is seven and his new bedroom is as far away from what the adults call “Cersei’s Room” as it could possibly be while still being in their house. The move was sudden and unceremonious and Jaime cannot make sense of what has changed so drastically in the last day and a half.

There is only the fear in his mother’s face when she has him sit on his new bed in his new room as she tells him in no uncertain terms that he is never to set foot in either “Cersei’s Room” or his old room again.

“Do you understand?” his mother keeps asking him.

And he nods.

And says yes.

Because this is the answer he is supposed to give.

He understands enough to know that.

But his mom is afraid and it is scaring him.

Because he does not understand.

His mom has looked afraid since she came back from the store yesterday. A lot has changed since yesterday. Their nanny won’t be looking after them anymore. He and Cersei aren’t supposed to play together anymore. Not the way they were playing yesterday. That’s what his mom says. They can’t play like that ever again and their father must never find out that they did. Never. It is very important that he understands this. So Jaime nods and says he understands.

But his mom is still looking at him the way she has been since yesterday.

And he doesn’t understand why she is so afraid.

When she’s gone he sits on the bed in his new room and cries.

(This will be one of the last memories he has of his mother.)

4. Room 108, Eel Alley Motel.

Jaime is sixteen and behind the wheel of his favourite birthday gift. He and Cersei passed their driver’s test the week before. She went first. Then him. Their father had bought them each a car for their birthday but until they passed the tests that let them drive without an experienced driver in the passenger seat, having their own cars didn’t mean much.

Now that they can both drive without adult supervision, the cars mean everything.

He pulls into the almost empty parking lot and backs into the space furthest from the road. He looks around before he gets out of the car, but they picked this motel for a reason. It’s far enough away from home that no one will recognize them, and it’s remote enough that there’s no one around to see him in any case. He pays with cash and uses a fake name. He’d gone as far as getting a fake ID made, but the guy behind the desk doesn’t ask to see any. He just places a key with a big plastic 108 keychain in front of Jaime and that’s that.

Jaime goes to the room and texts Cersei the room number. Then he sits on the edge of the bed and waits.

Cersei arrives an hour later.

*

This is not the first time. Not their first time. Not by a long shot.

But this is the first time they have the luxury of time. Of relative safety. Tucked away in this unremarkable motel on the edge of nowhere they do not have to steal the moments. They do not have to be quiet. They do not need to rush. They do not need to pretend to be anything other than who and what they are. He does not have to flee as soon as they are done.

Tonight they tangle in the sheets again and again. They linger and laugh and when he can no longer stop himself from dozing off they fall asleep together. She wakes him more than once in the night to have him again because he is there with her and she wants to and she can. Gods, what bliss it is to be alone together.

And it is just one night, just a taste of what forever could be, but it is real and it is everything he could ever want.

*

The years between sixteen and twenty-two are a blur of sneaking around. Motels and hotels and dorm rooms and anywhere he and Cersei can steal a moment together. Jaime quickly loses count of the specifics of when and where. Every instance is stolen and none of them feel safe. There is a thrill to it of course, of disappearing together and hoping no one catches on. Of covert texts and secret meeting spots. Of love so all-consuming they have to hide it to survive.

There are so many places, so many bedrooms. Not one of them is theirs.

5. Room 705, Luxury Suites. Dorne.

“Pack your things,” Cersei says. Jaime is 22 and he has just pulled himself awake to answer the door to his apartment in King’s Landing and Cersei is standing there. Cersei doesn’t usually come here, but here she is standing in his doorway. “We’re leaving.”

He is not quite awake and he doesn’t quite understand. Or he isn’t ready to let himself understand or hope that he isn’t misunderstanding because…

“Cersei,” he says. “Do you mean…?”

He can’t quite bring himself to finish the question. He has asked her so many times. Begged her so many times. It would be so easy to run, to leave. That is what he has been saying for years. If she would just agree—

“It’s time,” Cersei confirms. “We’re going to Dorne. Today.”

And just like that this is the best day of Jaime’s life.

He pulls her inside and closes the door so he can kiss her.

*

Jaime hastily fills two suitcases with everything he thinks he might need, but Cersei is there beside him as he packs and she will be there beside him on the flight and she will be there beside him when they land, when they start their new life, when they spend the rest of their lives together, and there is nothing else he needs.

*

He finds out later that Cersei’s ex has security footage of the two of them together. Together. Blackmail material. That’s why it is today. Why it had to be today.

Jaime couldn’t care less about the security footage.

*

They buy their plane tickets at the counter and go through security even though their flight isn’t for a few hours.

When they sit down by their gate to wait for the flight Jaime is giddy with relief, with joy, with excitement, with love for her.

He keeps looking at her, he knows he keeps looking at her, keeps smiling at her. He keeps looking at her the way Cersei doesn’t let him look at her when there are people around but today is different because today is the day. Today is the day they run away together, to be together, to be happy. And Cersei is here beside him and she’s smiling at him too.

Jaime has dreamed of this day his whole life and it is already better than he ever imagined it could be.

*

They land in Dorne and step off the plane together. Her hand brushes his wrist and he’s sure it was on purpose and Jaime wants to kiss her but he doesn’t. A lifetime has taught him that he can only do that behind closed doors.

But they’re in Dorne now.

Jaime can hardly believe it, but he looks over at her to be sure.

Cersei smiles and takes his hand.

*

Cersei is the one who pays for the hotel room that first night. She does so under her own name and when the woman behind the desk asks if she wants one bed or two Cersei does not hesitate.

They only need one bed.

*

Cersei is the one who comes to him in their hotel room after she showers, her phone held in one hand as she takes his with the other. Cersei is the one who came to him this morning saying it was finally time to leave, Cersei is the one who was finally ready to run away with him, and Cersei is the one who is finally ready for the world to know about them.

And Cersei doesn’t want to simply disappear together. She doesn’t want to let people find out why they have run off if and when they do. No, Cersei has other plans.

Cersei wants to show them.

*

They watch the video together before they upload it. The two of them lounging together on the bed in room 705 as Cersei’s laptop plays back the indisputable evidence:

They are young and in love and together and they are finally, finally free.

*

Cersei clicks upload and Jaime feels the full magnitude of what is about to happen jolt through him and then they nearly knock the laptop off the bed in their haste to have one another again.

Let the world see.

6. Their bedroom, Dorne.

The video they uploaded becomes one of the most infamous sex tapes ever released almost overnight. Demand for more is sky-high, and they are more than happy to provide.

*

They make a fortune.

It feels like almost no time at all before they are able to buy the house. Their house. That they bought with money they earned entirely by themselves. Their bedroom is his favourite room. Of course it is. His whole life Jaime has wanted this and now they have it.

Their bedroom.

7. The Other Bedroom, Dorne.

They have another bedroom in their house. The other bedroom. That is what Jaime calls it in his head: The Other Bedroom. The other bedroom is the one they use for filming. They establish this before they move in. Two bedrooms. It is perfect in its simplicity. That is where they film.

The thrill of it hasn’t worn off even a little. He can’t get enough of Cersei kissing him and then saying “Come to bed” and then wondering which room she will lead him to. He can’t get enough of how much fun they have, both in front of the camera and away from it. He can’t get enough of how much money they make.

He can’t get enough of how free they are.

Tonight Cersei adjusts a camera in the other bedroom and then turns to him and beckons him closer.

Gods, they should have done this years ago.

But he is delighted by the opportunity to make up for the lost time now.

6. Their bedroom.

“Fuck,” Cersei says after she has come back down and he has collapsed beside her. “We’ve got to do that in the other room sometime.”

Jaime laughs against her shoulder. “Give me a few minutes.”

7. The other bedroom.

They have so much fun it’s obscene. Sex was always enjoyable, even amongst the constant danger that he still can’t believe they’ve finally escaped, but now it’s a never-ending adventure. They try all sorts of things and goof around and play with camera angles and lighting and positions and take turns being the one to hold the handheld camera and then they watch the footage and figure out what they can do better next time and sometimes the next time happens right away because this is technically their job but it doesn’t feel like it, and holy gods Jaime can’t believe that this is their job.

6. Their bedroom.

“Wait,” Cersei says as she pulls away from him just as things are about to escalate. “Let’s go next door.”

“What?” Jaime says as he blinks up at her, disoriented by the sudden shift in her attention. “Why?”

“Because I have a feeling it’s going to be worth documenting,” she says as she smiles at him the way that makes him want her even more than he already does.

7. The other bedroom.

Jaime is in the living room watching TV when Cersei comes in and stands by the doorway.

“Come to bed,” she says.

Jaime turns off the TV and feels himself smirk before he asks, “Which one?”

6. Their bedroom.

Cersei is quieter in here than she is in the other bedroom. He still makes her moan and sigh and gasp and come, but she rarely screams his name the way she does in the other bedroom.

Jaime likes how real it is when she lets him coax her to an orgasm that hits her with a soft gasp as they lie under the covers and then she pulls him in for a kiss that wouldn’t look good on camera at all.

7. The other bedroom.

“Fuck,” Cersei says as she looks at her laptop as she sits cross-legged in the middle of the bed. “Fuck fuck fuck.”

“What is it?” Jaime asks as he returns from the bathroom.

“One of the cameras wasn’t recording.”

“Which one?”

She points to the camera on the tripod to the left of the bed.

“Do we need that one?” Jaime asks, as he sits down beside her to look at the laptop. “The other cameras were recording. Surely there’s enough there.”

Cersei pulls up the footage they got, the bulk of which is from the camera at the foot of the bed. They watch Jaime thrust into her from behind for about ten seconds before Cersei says, “The other cameras got the start, but this is all we have of the rest and your ass isn’t that interesting.”

Jaime feels the corner of his mouth tick upwards. “Many paying subscribers disagree.”

“Come on,” she says as she starts the cameras recording and double-checks that the one that failed before is working. Then she tucks the laptop under the bed so it’s out of sight and she settles herself on her hands and knees in front of him. “Let’s get this over with.”

“Do we have to do this now?” Jaime asks. He’s tired. They just fucked. He wants to go next door with her and watch that stupid reality show she likes until they fall asleep.

“We need something to upload for Friday.”

“We have lots of stuff recorded that hasn’t been posted. Pick something else.”

“No,” she says. “It has to be this. Doggy style won the poll last month. And pull out before you come this time. They like that.”

Jaime looks to the camera to their left and sighs before he starts stroking himself until he’s hard enough to do what Cersei asks.

6. Their bedroom.

They wake up late on a rainy Sunday and one thing leads to another and soon Cersei is riding him with slow purposeful movements. Her hair is a mess and she’s not wearing any of the makeup she’d have on if they were in the other bedroom. She’s still wearing the shirt of his she sleeps in sometimes. She stole it back when they were teenagers and it makes him ache with love for her to know she still has it now.

It’s been a while since they fucked this spontaneously.

Jaime has missed this.

7. The other bedroom.

Jaime used to be able to lose himself in the moment enough to forget the cameras were there a lot of the time. Now he has to remind himself not to look at them with weary disdain that Cersei will see when she edits it together while he and Cersei reposition themselves for a better angle yet again.

6. Their bedroom.

Jaime wakes up alone in their bed in the early morning.

He tosses and turns, trying to get comfortable enough to fall back asleep but he gives up and wanders over to the other bedroom.

7. The other bedroom

Cersei is there. Asleep in the bed they share with anyone who’s willing to pay to watch whatever they film.

Jaime slips into bed beside her and waits to fall back asleep.

*

Looking back, Jaime is not sure when this started to shift, but it doesn’t stop.

Sometimes Cersei doesn’t come to their bedroom for days at a time. She sleeps in the other bedroom more often than not.

Sometimes Jaime joins her there, but sometimes he doesn’t because that room isn’t theirs and he doesn’t… he isn’t always in the mood to be filmed.

6. Their bedroom.

Tonight is just for them in the same way their wedding that afternoon was just for them. They invited no-one to their wedding, and their wedding night will have no witnesses. It will generate no clicks, no views, no new subscribers.

Their marriage will not be a spectacle. Not today. Not tonight. Not ever.

Their marriage is just for them.

7. The other bedroom.

Cersei calls him “Jaime” and “brother” and “the other half of my soul” in the other bedroom.

Never “husband”. Not on camera. Not between takes. Never.

Jaime is grateful for this.

Their marriage doesn’t belong in this room.

6. Their bedroom.

Cersei rarely refers to him as her husband. He can’t remember her saying it at all after their wedding night. Even when he shifts closer to her under the covers when she decides to sleep in their room with him. Even when he quietly murmurs that he’s so happy they’re married now, that he’s so happy she’s his wife, she rarely says anything similar in return.

7. The other bedroom.

Jaime is downstairs in the kitchen when he gets a text from Cersei that reads, Come to bed.

He closes his laptop and goes upstairs.

Jaime’s already pushing open the door to the other bedroom when he realizes that when Cersei says “Come to bed,” he no longer wonders which one.

8. Room 402, Whatever hotel the cab driver took him to.

Jaime is numb when he checks into the hotel. He is numb when he fumbles with the key card to get into his room. He is numb when he opens the minibar and picks the first thing he sees.

Cersei has had other people in their bed. Their bed.

He doesn’t leave this room for three days.

9. His place, Dorne.

Jaime still wakes up and wonders where he is for a moment every morning. That split second of disorientation that greets him when he opens his eyes and doesn’t recognize where he fell asleep before everything comes crashing back into focus.

He’s still not used to having a place that isn’t their place. A bedroom that isn’t their bedroom. A life that isn’t their life.

He’s only been here a week. In his place. His new place. He’s been here a week.

He hasn’t yet been able to think of it as his home.

But it is his.

This is his bedroom now.

As sparse and empty as it feels, this is his bedroom.

Perhaps one day it will feel like it.

10. Brienne’s hotel room, Paradise Beach Resort.

Jaime does not catch the room number before they stagger inside, the two of them laughing too hard to care about much.

He has never done this. Not like this. Not with a near-stranger.

“Are you okay?” she asks, much the way she did when she sent him crashing into the ocean when they were paddleboard jousting earlier that afternoon. She waited for him to say he was fine before she laughed at him and then she laughed with her whole body. He’s still not sure how she managed to stay standing on her paddleboard as she laughed like that.

He’s sitting on the bed and she’s standing between his spread legs. His hands are on her hips. She’s resting her hands on his bare shoulders but she is still and watching him, waiting for him to answer.

“Yeah,” he says as he looks up at her. “I’m better than okay.”

11. Brienne’s Apartment, King’s Landing.

Jaime uses Brienne’s spare key to let himself into her place tonight because his flight had been delayed so much she wasn’t sure she would be awake when he finally did arrive.

He opens the door as quietly as he can as he maneuvers his cumbersome suitcase behind him. He hasn’t brought more than a carry-on with him before. He hasn’t needed to. This is the first time he hasn’t booked a hotel for his visit or a return flight at the end of the weekend.

Brienne’s familiar living room is dark except for a single lamp that he knows she left on for him.

For a moment he just looks at the single source of light glowing in the dark, humbled by the simple gesture. He still does not know what to do with such care.

Once he’s taken his shoes off and turned off the lamp, he follows the hall towards her bedroom.

She’s left the door open for him.

Brienne is fast asleep on the far side of her bed in the darkened room, the covers pulled up under her chin, her blonde hair splayed out behind her on the pillow.

He takes off his jeans and his socks so he’s just wearing his t-shirt and boxers and then he slides into the other side of the bed as smoothly as he can so he doesn’t wake her.

“Jaime,” she says, her sleep-low voice so full of affection it makes his chest hurt.

“I made it here,” he replies quietly. “You can go back to sleep.”

“I wasn’t asleep,” she murmurs as she rolls on her side towards him without opening her eyes.

“If you say so,” he chuckles.

The blankets were already inviting when he got into bed beside her after the hours he spent waiting in airport terminals and sitting in airplane seats today, but then she scooches closer and throws her arm over him and he feels her warm him from the inside out.

“I do say so,” she says as she snuggles more firmly to him under the blankets. She rubs her hand across his chest to his arm and he moves into the contact, turning so he can wrap his arm around her as well.

When they find the position that just works, their bodies pressed close, their limbs entangled, Brienne hums in contentment and sighs his name as she mumbles that she missed him against his skin and it’s so overwhelming all he can do is hold her and clumsily return the affection she gives so easily to the best of his ability.

He’s still working on not feeling like he is undeserving of her, like he is more trouble than he is worth. She knows exactly who he is and what he did and she wants him anyway. Even with everything that comes with him, the publicity and the scorn and everything else, she wants him anyway. What could he possibly give her that compares to that?

Soon Brienne’s breathing is so deep, her body so relaxed, that he could swear she’s already fallen back asleep, but her hand is still moving across his back, her touch gently reassuring him that she wants him right where he is.

Here in her bed and in her life.

There is nowhere Jaime would rather be.

12. Condo 907, King’s Landing.

It is still strange sometimes, to be back in King’s Landing. When he left he was 22 and he had no intention to return.

He’s 35 now. He’s been with Brienne for almost three years, or just over three years, depending on when they’re counting from. They don’t generally count the anniversary of the two and a half days they spent at that resort together as their anniversary. It was definitely the beginning, but they didn’t know enough about each other for it to actually be the start of what they are now. Their actual anniversary is in a few months. That’s when they officially started dating and never stopped.

They live together now. They’ve lived together for over two years and the novelty hasn’t worn off in the slightest. They still do dishes together and fight about which movies are so bad they’re good together and drive all the way across the city to get the good ice cream together and they still compete over stupid made-up games together and they still love each other more than they did the day before together.

“Jaime,” Brienne says as he feels her touch his shoulder, and he realizes he still dozes off before the end of the movie they’re watching together. “Come to bed.”

Jaime grins up at her as she comes into focus in front of him in the darkness. She’s wearing the tie-dye t-shirt she bought on their last vacation together and boxers that rest low on her hips. She’s looking at him so softly he swears he can feel the warmth of her love in his veins.

“Ask me again,” he murmurs.

She smiles at him before she does, the words an even gentler invitation when she says them this time, “Come to bed.”

He closes his eyes to savour this moment. He will never tire of this, this simple truth that hits him like a revelation every time:

When Brienne asks him to come to bed, Jaime never has to wonder which one.