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Tarth for Westeros

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Jaime Lannister was in her office. Podrick had announced him, of course, so she knew he'd be here but...he was in her office. Beautiful and golden and bathed in the noonday sun shining through the floor to ceiling windows. His green eyes were twinkling and he was giving her that cocky Lannister grin. Oh gods. What the hells is he doing here?

"What the hells are you doing here?"

"Well, good day to you too, Senator."

"I'm sorry. That was rude. I-" she faltered.

She'd given speeches to Congress, to the Westerosi people, to Essosi diplomats and she couldn't even get out a full sentence in front of Jaime Fucking Lannister. She sighed.

"What did you need, Mr. Lannister?"

His eyes scanned her from head to toe like he'd never seen her in his life. Those green eyes. Always his damned eyes. She may hate him and his sister and his entire family(except for Tyrion) and everything that he stood for, but those emerald eyes could be her undoing if she ever let them.

"I need you to call me, Jaime, Senator." He murmured, scanning her body once more.

She flushed, a clammy sweat breaking out on the small of her back. He wasn’t leering or even particularly appreciating, just studying, trying to find the opening in her armor. A nice soft spot to twist the blade. Brienne cleared her throat.

"Why would you need me to call you Jaime?"

He gave her a grin that cut like a knife. The first slash. “Because I'm going to be your new campaign manager."

She laughed right in his face. She couldn't help herself. The last she had heard, he was running his sister's campaign. What could have possibly happened to cause a rift with the golden twins? Unless this was a trick. He swoops in to save her campaign but truly he was here to ruin it. Like she would even entertain the idea of him joining her team. Half her communications department was made up of people who couldn’t stand the Lannisters. Except for Tyrion, again.

He was looking at her with laughing eyes and that cocky smirk and she realized she'd been silently gaping at him. Not very presidential. Brienne folded her hands atop the desk and narrowed her eyes.

"Your sister is my opponent."

"Yes."

"And you're offering yourself as my campaign manager?"

"Yes."

"Is this a joke?”

"No."

"Am I having a stroke?"

"I don't believe so, Senator."

~~

“When you went to that town hall meeting in the Riverlands.”

“Excuse me?”

“I was passing through that area and decided to do a little recon for my side.”

“Okay...”

“You kept talking.”

“I’m sorry?”

“When the cameras shut off, you kept talking. You stayed at that assembly until one o’clock in the morning talking to the common people. Farmers and teachers and nurses and college students. It wasn’t a show for you or a photo op. You actually cared what they had to say.”

He could remember it like it was yesterday, sitting in the back of that auditorium and watching her for hours. She’d looked tired by the end, with bags under her eyes and her hair a bit out of place from running her fingers through it, but that soft smile never faltered. She never once gave the impression she wished she was somewhere else or that these people would all shut up and leave her alone.

Such a complete contrast to his sister. A breath of air when he’d been drowning in the undertow of Targaryen/Baratheon/Lannister campaigns for years.

And her entire staff adored her. From her chief of staff to her press secretary to the interns that answered to them. He’d made a thorough study of them all and no one ever rolled their eyes after she said “one more question” for the hundredth time. No one tapped their toes in impatience or blew out a frustrated breath. They all seemed as enraptured by her as the people of the Riverlands did. She was a good politician and a compassionate woman and she inspired loyalty wherever she went. She inspired it in him and he wanted to be a part of this.

“Of course I care. They’re my countrymen and I’m asking to be their President.”

He laughed. Of course she would say something like that and still not understand why he wanted to be on her side.

“No,” he corrected her with a sharp shake of his head, “Politicians don’t give a damn about the common people. They work for the billionaires and the big corporations who give them enough cash flow to get elected and stay elected.”

Her lips pulled into a ferocious frown, brow furrowing. “Not me.”

“And that’s when I decided that you were my candidate.”

Silence fell between them. Beyond the door, he could hear staffers shuffling around and the constant trill of phones ringing. He honestly couldn’t believe they hadn’t been interrupted yet, but right now he had her complete attention and he had to make her understand. He wanted this for sure, but more than that, he needed it. He needed to run a campaign he could be proud of, for a candidate he could believe in.

Sometime during their conversation, Jaime had come within a step of her desk. He took that step, thighs brushing against the edge as he continued earnestly, “Look, I’m the best. I know it, you know it, your staff knows it. And I know my sister and I know exactly how Baelish and Qyburn are going to run this campaign.”

She bit her lip, looking uncertain for the first time since their meeting began. “Inside knowledge seems a bit unfair doesn’t it?”

He arched a single brow. “Do you want Cersei Lannister to be President?”

Her lips quirked and she wrinkled her freckled nose. “Good point.”

Scooting her chair back, she walked around the desk and extended her hand to him, “I want to hire you but I’ll have to talk to my staff first.”

Jaime sucked in a breath. He’d never been this close to her before and the full force of those eyes could bring a man to his knees. A strange quiver hummed in his gut and he stupidly blurted, “You have the most magnificent eyes.”

She rolled those very same eyes and muttered, “I’m sure.”

“The camera doesn’t do them justice. They’re astonishing.”

“Im telling you I want to hire you, the shameless flirting can stop now.” She leaned closer, capturing his hand with hers and giving it a firm shake. “I want to win this election. The Westerosi people need me to win this election because, full offense, your sister is a nightmare.”

That shocked a laugh out of him. Finally returning the handshake, he smiled. “Agreed.”

She nodded and turned to resume her seat. “I’ll call you Monday.”

“Thank you, Madam President.”

Her head jerked toward him and she whispered so softly Jaime wasn’t sure if he’d actually heard it or just watched her lips form the words. “Excuse me?”

“Just practicing.” He winked and turned to the door before tossing over his shoulder, “See you Monday, Senator.”

Chapter Text

He studied Brienne as she shifted on stage. She’d given this speech in five towns already, enough practice that she was getting pretty good at it. She still wasn’t where they needed her to be, but she was softening out the sharp anxiety riddled edges, slowly sinking into the rhythm of a national campaign. But here and now, it didn’t matter that her oratory skills weren’t on par with Cersei’s, because the one on one was where she’d win the people. From the first time he’d seen her in The Riverlands, he’d decided that after every speech, they would have a Q&A portion so the people could really see her excel. Feel her passion. Sense her kindness.

Jaime flinched as she flubbed a joke and gave a nervous laugh. He glanced at the man beside him.

“Scrap that one, Jon.”

“Yep.” He nodded.

“Actually, scrap all the jokes. She’s not good at them.”

“I suggested that three speeches ago.”

Jaime shrugged. “I thought she’d settle into it. They’re just getting worse.”

Jon snorted and scribbled on his ever present notepad. “They’re always going to fall short when she starts off with ‘well, ya see’ and ends with ‘get it?’”

“I’ve learned the error of my ways. Scrap the damn jokes.” Jaime huffed, glancing at Jon once more. He was a bit of a dour fellow with an unending frown, but the man could provoke all manner of emotions with his words. Just not laughter. “Or maybe let Sansa write them.”

Jon rolled his eyes and muttered, “I bet you had them rolling in the aisles back in The Reach.”

“I’m from The Westerlands.”

“Well, wherever you studied baton twirling.”

“That’d be Lannisport Law School.” Jaime smirked.

She flubbed another joke with a forced laugh and Jaime grimaced.

“Why aren’t you closer to the stage?” Tyrion called out, meeting Jaime and Jon at the edge of the parking lot.

“It’s a blood pressure day.”

“What?”

Jaime sighed and glanced at his watch. Three more minutes of speech left and then she could move on to the Q&A.

“Jaime?” Tyrion prompted.

“It’s a high blood pressure day for the senator. On those days, she requests that he keep his face out of her eyeline.” Jon answered.

“Or what?”

Jaime winced. “Something about a mace and an orifice of my body that I’d prefer remain exit only.”

They fell silent, watching as Brienne came to the end of her speech. Already, Jaime could see the tension leaving her body. Margaery took the mic to explain the upcoming Q&A portion of the event and Brienne’s muscles loosened further, a soft smile blooming on her wide lips.

“Jon?” Jaime called.

“Yeah?”

“Liven up the language. She’s not made for doom and gloom.”

Jon’s perpetual furrowed brow deepened. “You just said no more jokes.”

“The opposite of doom and gloom is not a joke.”

“Actually, it is.”

“Go away.”

As he watched Jon trudge toward the stage, Tyrion spoke up, “She’s not the best at public speaking.”

“No.” Jaime admitted.

“But she shines with one on one.”

“She does.”

“She’s getting better at the speech though.” Tyrion offered.

Brienne absolutely aced a question about maternity leave from a person in the crowd and Jaime’s muscles clenched with adrenaline. She was inherently genuine, unabashedly compassionate, and she knew that was where their victory would come from. She thrived on it.

“Atta girl.” He murmured and watched as her head tilted ever so slightly in his direction. She may not want to see his face some days, but she was always preternaturally aware of him, as he was her.

“Do you have a thing for her Jaime?”

He heard the concern in his brother’s voice but Jaime’s eyes never left Brienne. “What?”

“You watch her all the time”

“That’s my job.”

“You know what I mean.”

Jaime hummed. “I do.”

“And?”

“It’s none of your damn business.”

Tyrion sighed. “That’s where you’re wrong, seeing as a romantic entanglement could derail this campaign. You work well together. Let’s not fuck that up.”

He finally glanced down at that, a familiar anger humming through his veins. “How many years have I been doing this? And how many times have I fucked up a campaign?”

“Aerys.” Tyrion answered simply.

Jaime looked back to the stage, back to Brienne, and his anger dissipated in an instant. Tyrion wasn’t trying to be an ass, and he was right. He had fucked up Aerys’ campaign. That failure had been deliberate though. This one would be in spite of all his best intentions. He’d spent the four months since he joined her campaign trying desperately not to fall for her. He hadn’t succeeded.

“I don’t have a thing for her.” Jaime answered softly.

He could feel Tyrion’s stare boring into the side of his face before he growled, “Good gods, man, have you lost what little is left of your mind? I swear, Jaime-“

“So what did you think?” Sansa interrupted, walking toward them. Brienne trailed behind her, head bent and listening intently to what Margaery was saying.

His gaze met Sansa’s as she came to stand in front of him. “You have to scrap the jokes.”

“Why?” Sansa frowned.

Jaime’s brows climbed to his hairline. “You know why.”

Margaery threaded her arm through Sansa’s and grinned. “Let’s go to the fair!”

Brienne’s eyes lifted from her phone. “What?”

Margaery threaded her other arm through Podrick’s as he made it to her side. “We don’t have to be in Dorne for two days. Everybody could use a break and there’s a fair in town. I’ll buy us all a round of corn dogs.”

Gendry piped up from the back of the group, “Three corn dogs and I’ll stay for the fair.”

Davos lightly smacked him in the back of the head. “Where the hells are you gonna go? If the senator isn’t on the bus, the bus isn’t moving.”

“Okay,” Gendry conceded, massaging the back of his head. “One corn dog then.”

“Good choice.” Arya smirked, following behind Davos and landing another smack to Gendry’s head.

Through the whole exchange, Jaime kept an eye on Brienne, and even though her features had softened and she wore a slight smile, he could read every single thought that flitted across her mind by watching her eyes. She wanted to get back to the bus and work on the speech. She definitely wanted to scrap the jokes too. She was anxious about her reception in Dorne because their pollster, Oberyn, had informed them two days ago that it was leaning heavily toward Cersei. He watched her shoulders stiffen with every thought and he knew, if he couldn’t get her to relax, she’d run herself into the ground before they even got close to the debates.

“Senator?” He called.

“Hmmm?”

He waited until he had her eyes, then he lifted a single teasing brow. “You can talk with the people. Ride rides with them. Play fair games with them. Kiss all their babies and pet all their livestock.”

Instantly, her tightened shoulders eased. She nodded and gave him a small smile laced with so much gratitude, Jaime’s heart clenched with the impact of it.

“Let’s go to the fair.”

Chapter Text

They’d rented a decent sized cabin in The Vale to do debate prep. The entire team in forced proximity for two days, to drill Brienne with questions and make sure she was as ready as they could get her for the debate next week. They’d set up two makeshift podiums in the family room, and Pod and Gendry had brought in two spotlights on tripods to try and prepare her for the atmosphere. In this debate, a candidate would have ninety seconds to answer the moderator’s question, and their opponent would have sixty seconds for a rebuttal and to ask a question of their own.
She was breezing through the moderator questions, but she kept clamming up on the ones Sansa had chosen as possibilities to be asked by Cersei.

Sansa lifted her chin in a fair imitation of Cersei and cut her eyes to Brienne. “Can you tell us why you aren’t married?”

“Why? Cause bite me. That’s why.” Brienne snapped back.

A collective groan went up from their team and Jaime chuckled softly.

Margaery massaged her temples in frustration. “She’ll want an answer, Senator.”

“What’s wrong with bite me?”

“We’d lose.” Davos sighed.

“Not in The North.” Jon muttered.

Tyrion twisted in his chair and eyed their little crowd. “Five staffers in the room right now. I’d like to say to the 1.6 of you who are stoned, it’s time to share.”

Brienne made a noise in the back of her throat and Jaime knew she was on the verge of losing it. He’d heard that particular sound only twice before, and both times it had taken him at least thirty minutes to calm the freak out. So far, they’d been freak outs of the internal flavor, but he figured today it could go either way.

He clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention. “Okay everybody, let’s take a lunch break and come back in thirty minutes.” Standing and grabbing his laptop, he twisted back to Brienne and murmured, “Senator, can I speak with you?”

When she got close enough, he gently gripped her elbow and led her to the downstairs study, grinning as he heard Sansa whisper from somewhere behind them, “Mom and Dad don’t want to fight in front of the kids.”

~~

Once he’d closed the study door, Brienne heaved a great sigh and fell into the nearest chair. “I agreed to be locked up here for 48 hours. How much time do I have left?”

“46 hours and 41 minutes.”

Jaime hooked the chair by the desk with his free hand and situated it beside hers as she began to speak, “Look, Jaime, I don’t-“

He stopped her with a whisper of a touch on her forearm. “Anything personal that Cersei asks you, you tell her it’s none of her damn business.”

He tracked her gaze as it slowly lifted from the hand on her forearm to meet his. “What?”

“She’ll try to bait you, Senator. Anything she can do to throw you off balance, she will. She’ll ask why you’re single, she’ll ask why you’ve never been married-“

He could see the splotchy patches of red creeping up her neck as her eyes dropped back to his hand and she stammered, “Well, I-“

He gave her forearm a squeeze and waited for those magnificent eyes to meet his once again. “Tell her to mind her damn business. This is not a debate on your personal life. This is a debate on policy and voting record. On both of those points,” he gave her another squeeze, “she doesn’t hold a candle to you.”

She leaned closer, and even though they were the only two people in the room, she whispered, “So....you’re agreeing with the bite me?”

He nodded, his cheeks twitching with the effort to fight back his smile. “I’m agreeing with the bite me.”

“You don’t actually want me to say the words, ‘mind your damn business’, do you?”

“I’m sure you can class it up.”

He studied her face as she thought on that for a moment, before she patted the hand that he had resting on her forearm and stood. “Let’s go get some lunch.”

“I’ll be there in a minute.”

He’d settled back into his chair and opened his laptop when he heard her softly call, “Jaime?”

Glancing up, his chest tightened at the softness in her sapphire eyes.

“Thank you,” she whispered and then she was gone.

~~

After a lunch of some kind of onion stew Davos had assured them they’d love(they did not), they were back at it with Margaery and Sansa switching places as Cersei and the moderator.

Sansa tapped her notes on the TV tray in front of her and focused on Brienne. “Senator, you voted no on the most recent agriculture bill. Can you tell us why?”

“Three percent of that bill was allocated to Westerosi farmers, while the other ninety seven percent went to padding the pockets of political backers of the agriculture commiteee. I would gladly vote yes on a relief package where the bulk of the funds were allocated-“

“The people of Westeros don’t care about the numbers,” Tyrion interrupted.

Brienne shot him a glare. “They do.”

Tyrion gave a lazy shrug and Brienne’s eyes narrowed further. “Why do politicians always assume their constituents are too stupid to understand the numbers?”

Tyrion smirked, blatantly provoking her, “Aren’t they?”

She pinched the bridge of her nose and growled, “I swear to the gods, Tyrion.”

“Well?” Tyrion drawled, and Jaime caught himself holding back the laugh bubbling in his throat by sheer force of will.

“Podrick!” Brienne bellowed.

A second later, Pod popped his head through the doorway. “Ma’am?”

“Can I have a couple aspirin? Or a weapon of some kind?”

“Yes, Ma’am.” Pod gave a quick jerk of his chin and disappeared.

Jaime turned back from the door with a grin, expecting to see the sweet quirk of Brienne’s lips that Pod never failed to bring about, and his smile dropped. As the chatter from the staff broke out around them, Jaime watched as she worried her bottom lip between her teeth, head bent to the notepad on her podium.

Jumping up from his seat, he took three quick strides to her side, and grasped her shoulder. “Hey, you know Tyrion just likes to rile you up.”

She nodded to her notepad but didn’t look up.

Gently, he ran his thumb along the curve of her shoulder, and the muscle beneath tensed. He’d touched her more in the last three hours than he had in the previous six months, but he couldn’t seem to restrain himself today.

“What’s wrong?” He whispered, continuing the slow stroke of his thumb.

Head still bent to her notepad, she sighed. “I know Tyrion likes to aggravate, it’s his favorite pastime, but I- I just can’t do it today, Jaime.”
Her lashes fluttered a second, before she continued quietly, “I’m terrified I’m going to make a fool of myself. I’m terrified I’m going to embarrass my staff, my supporters,” her gaze touched his briefly before returning to the notepad, “you. I can recite that stump speech in my sleep, engage with the people of Westeros like I was born to it, but Cersei’s a wildcard and she could chew me up and spit me out on a national stage.”

“Look at me, Brienne.” Her head jerked up at that. He’d never called her by her name before, at least not out loud, but it was just the jolt needed to get her attention. And it tasted damn good on his tongue. “Do you honestly believe that I would ever allow that to happen?”

The wrinkle between her brows deepened, and Jaime’s fingers itched to soothe that little crease.

He tugged her a touch closer with the hand on her shoulder and murmured earnestly, “If I didn’t believe you could do this, I would have quit this campaign months ago. If I didn’t believe you could do this, I would never have joined this campaign to begin with.”

Her eyes widened, a threat of tears resting on her lower lids.

“You,” he squeezed her shoulder for emphasis and moved closer, lowering his voice further, “are going to be the next President of Westeros.”

Her muscles relaxed beneath his palm, loosening with the unburdened tension, and her lips tipped up in a small smile.

Nodding, he turned back to their team. “Alright, let’s keep it moving people. Let’s work on some questions Cersei might ask in the rebuttals.”

He sat back down as Margaery began, her Cersei impression almost as good as Sansa’s. “Senator, how can you relate to Westerosi parents when you’ve never been one?”

Brienne took a beat, took a breath, and as Jaime watched her eyes, he saw the exact moment her thoughts settled into the calm surety of the woman she was and the president he knew she would be.

“I’m also not an elderly Dornish woman on a pension. Or an Essosi immigrant. Or a first generation college student in The Riverlands. Or a third generation Reach farmer trying to scrape by in a drought. Or a Northman living on disability.” She looked to Cersei- a Cersei with the beaming dimpled smile of Margaery Tyrell- and continued, “I don’t have to literally walk in someone’s shoes to empathize with them, Senator Lannister. To want better for them. To want to help them live an easier life. I thought I was entering public service for duty to my country, but three days into my senate race, I realized it was the love for my countrymen that urged me on. Every day citizens whose lives and livelihoods balance on the precipice of every vote the senate casts, every decision the president makes. I’ve been on the campaign trail for months, listening to and learning from the citizens of this country whose lived experiences look very different from my own. Are you ready to listen too, Senator?”

A beat of silence followed before Arya broke it with a scream from the other room, “Son of a bitch! We’re gonna win!”

Jon smiled a rare smile. “There it is.”

“There it is.” Jaime agreed, a warmth like he’d never known blooming from the center of his chest.

He could hear the awe in Davos’ voice as he murmured from the seat behind him, “She’s going to win this, Jaime.”

“She is.”

Tyrion slapped his shoulder and grinned, “Cersei and father are never going to speak to us again.”

“We can only hope.”

~~

Standing on the side of the stage with Brienne, he nudged her shoulder with his. “You need to channel a bit of me.”

“You didn’t tell me that at debate camp.”

He shrugged. “Figure I’d leave it until the last minute.”

She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. “You just thought about it didn’t you.”

“Yes.”

“I could have used the practice.”

He nudged her shoulder with his again, but this time, instead of rocking back, he kept them connected. “You know me well enough.”

“I do.” She instantly agreed.

“She’s going to try to silence you with sarcasm and superiority.”

He felt her shoulders heave with a sigh. “I know that, Jaime.”

“I want you to still be you with your answers but maybe throw in a little Lannister flair. She won’t expect it and it’ll throw her off her game.”

She nodded but said nothing, both of them watching the stage in comfortable silence until the moderator took his seat and began the introduction to the debate. She turned to him then, grasping his hand with a clammy, yet surprisingly steady, one of her own. “I’m ready.”

“You’re ready.”

At that moment, the moderator announced, “The Junior Senator from The Stormlands, Brienne Tarth.”

Jaime gave her hand a quick squeeze and winked. “Give her hell, Senator.”

~~

In the chaos of moving their team back into the press room, Jaime only caught the end of Cersei’s answer to the first question.

“Business owners of The Westerlands should not have to pay for the problems of the people in The Vale or The Stormlands.”

Their team had finally settled in front of a monitor when the moderator turned to Brienne. “You have sixty seconds for a rebuttal and a question, Senator Tarth.”

Brienne looked up from her notes and Jaime had to smile. She looked calm, comfortable, with a small wicked hint of impertinence teasing at her lips. And when she began to speak in her soft, sure tones, he knew in his bones, she’d already won this.

“Ten years ago, five of the major mines in The Westerlands ran dry. It wasn’t the billion dollar, tax-evading, mining companies that took care of their nineteen hundred newly unemployed miners and their families. 9.7 million in funds, from people from The Wall to Dorne, put clothes on their backs and food in their children’s bellies as they began to rebuild their lives.” She turned to Cersei, and Jaime’s blood sang in his veins as he waited for Brienne’s first strike in a battle Cersei had no hope to win. “And I believe I’m supposed to ask a question here so, Senator Lannister, will you let those mining companies know that we’d like our money back please?”

The crowd erupted.

“Oh my gods.” Sansa breathed.

Margaery’s pretty face pinched in confusion. “Did she-“

Tyrion nodded, never taking his wide eyes off the monitor. “She Lannister’d a Lannister.”

Jaime slapped a stunned Jon on the back and smiled. “Game on, baby.”

~~

There were ten minutes left in the debate and Jaime’s nerves were strung tight. Brienne had put Cersei on the back foot when she’d come out swinging. His sister hadn’t expected that and she’d been suspiciously civil with her questions for the remainder of the debate. However, now there was a look in her eyes that he couldn’t identify, and it made Jaime’s skin itch. Brienne was so close to a win, he could taste it, but Cersei was the master at fucking you over in ten minutes or less.

“Are you a lesbian, Senator Tarth? I’d heard rumors you were sleeping with your campaign manager but I’m much more inclined to believe that you aren’t attracted to men at all.”

And there it was.

A collective hush fell over the crowd, Brienne’s team, and the entire press room. Jaime watched as her eyes shifted wildly from Cersei, to the moderator, and finally came to rest on the camera. He stood and walked to the monitor, nodding his head as if she were standing in front of him. And just like at debate camp, she took a beat, took a breath, her eyes calmed.

And she ripped Cersei a new asshole.

“For the first time in modern history, the overwhelming population of people in this country who are living in poverty are children. My opponent wants to cut the free school lunch initiative. When I was in the senate, I sponsored a bill to help make full tuition grants easier to obtain for four year university, community college, and trade school applicants. My opponent voted no on that bill. My opponent voted no on the Equal Pay Act. She voted no on the Fair Rent Act. She wanted to send the Navy to sink a ship full of Essosi immigrants. They didn’t need the military, they needed food and doctors. My opponent-“

“You didn’t answer the question.”

Her eyes had remained locked on the camera, Jaime imagined them locked on his own eyes, but at the interruption, she slowly turned her head in Cersei’s direction.

“That’s right,” Brienne agreed, “because it’s none of your damn business.” Jaime’s muscles clenched, his heart threatening to beat out of his chest in pure overflowing joy. “My sexual orientation, my staff’s sexual orientation, the audience in this room and any and every citizen of this country’s sexual orientation is none of your damn business. If you’d like to discuss my record, if you’d like to discuss my policy, I’ll give you time, but if you’d like to gossip about my personal life, Senator, you should make time with your girlfriends at the country club, I’ve got the nation’s problems to address and a presidency to win.”

For an infinitesimal moment, you could hear a pin drop, then deafening, roaring applause exploded along every corridor and corner of the auditorium.

As their team filled the press room with cheers, Jaime found his chair and sat down hard, a single tear of triumph streaking down his cheek.

~~

They’d made it to the elevator of their hotel with very little conversation, preferring to bask in the afterglow of a hard won battle.

“You obliterated her.” Jaime murmured as the elevator doors slid shut.

Brienne turned from studying the floor number panel and smiled, “I did, didn’t I?”

At the unabashed gratitude shining in her wide eyes, a thousand words had risen to roll off his lips, but Jaime swallowed hard, beating them back, settling on the most certain and bone deep, “I’m so very proud of you, Brienne.”

Her smile dimmed but her gaze was soft and full of so much sincerity it nearly brought him to his knees. “I wanted to make you proud, Jaime.”

The doors slid open and Sansa’s face appeared. Her eyes brushed over their closeness and met Brienne’s. “We need to celebrate!”

“Karaoke?” Gendry offered from the hall.

Brienne stepped out of the elevator with Jaime following close behind.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” She muttered.

Arya’s eyes narrowed. “Why can’t the future president go out and party with her people?”

Jaime put his hand to the small of Brienne’s back to guide her around their team and answered, “Because we haven’t won the election yet.”

“So,” Pod started with a smile, “on election night we can go out and sing drunken karaoke with the masses?”

Brienne snorted. “We win this election and I’ll streak across the King’s Road Causeway if you ask me to.”

Jaime’s hand clenched into the back of her shirt as he bellowed down the hall, “Tyrion, tell Oberyn to get me those polling numbers. We’ve got an election to win.”

Chapter Text

As the morning sun peeked through the hotel’s dining room windows, nearly a year of days with Brienne flickered across Jaime’s mind.
 
Nine months of learning and committing to memory every emotion that shifted through her eyes. Eight months of falling asleep in chairs in her hotel room, going over speeches and polls and itineraries.  Seven months of decompressing with laughter and snark during their odd family dinners of vending machine snacks and middle-of-nowhere diner burgers. Six months of tricking her into relaxing under the guise of more campaigning. Five months of hiding his smile at her insistence they stop and talk to every fruit stand owner and street cart vendor from The Vale to The Westerlands. Four months of tracing his eyes along every freckle, scar, and mole. Three months of waiting for everyone else on the bus to fall asleep so he could coax her to rest her head on his lap for a nap. Two months of knowing for certain he was in love with the Junior Senator from The Stormlands. One month of coming to the realization that, after this was over, he might not be in the same room with her again until the next election cycle.
 
Election Day was dawning and Jaime was out of time.
 
Margaery broke into his thoughts with a disgruntled, “Can you believe them, Jaime?”
 
“Hmm?”
 
“They wrote a concession speech.” Margaery accused, waving a fork full of hash browns between Sansa and Jon.
 
Sansa shrugged. “Of course we wrote a concession speech.”
 
Jon rolled his eyes and mumbled around a mouth full of eggs, “You wanna tempt the whatever from high atop the thing?”
 
Tyrion interrupted them with a lift of his hand. “Nobody wants to tempt the Northern whatever and their mountain things. Now,” he looked to Pod, “you need to go and wake the senator.”
 
Pod pushed his chair back to rise, but Jaime stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. “No. Let her sleep.”
 
Frozen in a half crouch, Pod darted his eyes between Tyrion and Jaime.
 
Tyrion shared a look with Margaery that Jaime didn’t care about deciphering. If they didnt all know his feelings by now, they weren’t the crack political team they thought themselves to be.
 
“Let her sleep.” Jaime urged. “We have a long day today.”
 
Tyrion gave a quick dip of his chin, and Pod settled back into his seat.
 
Spearing a piece of fruit, Jaime turned to Davos. “Who’s doing exit polling in The Westerlands?”
 
Tyrion blew out a frustrated breath. “Jaime, we’re not winning The Westerlands.”
 
“Just tell me who’s doing the polling.”
 
“Sandor Clegane.” Davos grunted, and immediately stuffed an overflowing spoon of oatmeal in his mouth.
 
Jaime straightened. “Sandor Clegane? He’s crazy.”
 
Davos quirked a brow. “Sandor Clegane? No.” A weighted silence followed before he dropped his eyes to his oatmeal and denied faintly, “No, no, no, no, no, no.” He lifted his head and his hand, thumb and pointer finger pinched together, and conceded, “Little bit.”
 
“Sandor Clegane engaging with the public for twelve hours straight,” Tyrion laughed, “gods, I hope somebody records it.”
 
A gentle hand squeezed his shoulder, and Jaime tipped his head up to meet Brienne’s eyes.
 
Every morning for nine months he’d seen those bright eyes and that sleep tousled hair she’d tried to tame. His heart stuttered and his gut clenched at the coming loss. He wanted nine more. Twelve. Ten years. A lifetime.
 
Her hand drifted lightly across his back, falling away to pluck a strawberry off his plate before she sat down in the empty chair beside him. “I slept through all of my alarms. Why didn’t somebody come and wake me?”
 
Tyrion smirked. “Your campaign manager forbid it.”
 
“Is my campaign manager in charge?”
 
Pod tilted his head, a deep groove creasing between his brows. “Yes?”
 
“You needed the sleep.” Jaime murmured, pouring her a cup of coffee and handing her a rolled set of silverware so they could share his plate.
 
She took a sip of coffee and a satisfied sigh slipped past her lips. “You know I don’t like to get a late start.”
 
“I know that, but you needed the sleep.” He silently questioned her with a glance, and at her nod, he spooned granola to her side of the plate with a grin. “The world isn’t going to fall apart because Senator Tarth slept an extra hour.”
 
As if summoned, Gendry and Arya came barreling around the buffet, skidding to a stop at the edge of the table. Gendry was clutching a newspaper to his chest and Arya looked ready to commit a felony.
 
They stood there wild eyed and panting until Jaime prompted, “Yes?”
 
“Congressman Hunt was quoted in The King’s Landing Times this morning.” Arya growled.
 
Gendry tossed the paper to Davos and collapsed into the nearest chair while Arya remained standing, pacing tight circles on the opposite side of the table.
 
Brienne tilted her head curiously. “What’d he say?”
 
Davos nudged his glasses in place and straightened the paper, “Quote, ‘Senator Tarth informed me that I would have a cabinet position when she won the presidency. When, not if, so yes, her inner circle is very confident in the outcome of this election’, end quote.”
 
Propping an elbow on the table, Brienne rested her chin in her hand and cut her eyes to Jaime, “You were saying?”
 
~~
 
It had taken Arya exactly seventeen minutes to get Jaime a lock on Hyle Hunt’s location. An extra minute and twenty-two seconds and she was rattling off the congressman’s private phone number.
 
They left the rest of the team on the pretense of going out to get some supplies, slipping out of the room before anyone could ask what the supplies were for.
 
Jaime had wanted to come alone, but Arya refused to give up the information unless she got a front row seat to the metaphorical ass kicking. He knew her dearest hope was there would be nothing metaphorical about it.
 
So, forty-five minutes after the quick end to their breakfast, Jaime and Arya were standing in the lobby of Hunt’s hotel, waiting for an aide to come and escort them to the congressman.
 
Arya broke their silence with a hopeful, “You gonna punch him?”
 
“No.”
 
“Kick him?”
 
“No.”
 
“Bite him?”
 
“There will be no physical violence, Arya.”
 
“Why did I even come?”
 
Jaime’s lips twitched. “To learn how to use your words.”
 
“Where’s the fun in that?” Arya whined.
 
An average sized man with an average face in an average ill-fitting suit approached them, saving Jaime from answering.
 
The man thrust his hand out for a shake and Jaime tucked his own hands in his pockets.
 
A deep crimson bloomed across the man’s cheeks as he dropped his hand. “I’m Hy-“
 
“I know who you are.” Jaime cut in. “What could have possibly led you to believe that the Senator would give you a cabinet position?”
 
While Hunt had seemed a bit cowed by Jaime’s presence before, at that, he shrugged and offered a lazy grin. “We have history.”
 
Jaime’s muscles screamed for release at the smug bastard’s answer. He took a deep breath to calm himself out of granting Arya’s wish for bloodshed.
 
When he was soothed and rational, he gave Hyle a lazy grin of his own. “You went on three dates. You’ve never even stepped a foot inside her house. That’s not history, Hunt. It would barely be a footnote in her biography, if it was mentioned at all.”
 
Simultaneously, he felt Arya stiffen beside him as Hyle stiffened before him.
 
“She never talks about her personal life.” Hyle whispered.
 
“She does with me.” Jaime replied curtly.
 
Quickly losing patience with the man, he continued before Hyle’s average tongue could offer an average retort. “You tried to force her hand. Now, if she doesn’t appoint you, she’ll look untrustworthy.”
 
An ugly sneer twisted Hyle’s lips. “Oh, and we can’t have that, can we?”
 
Taking a step closer, Jaime lowered his head toward the man and ordered quietly, “I want a retraction released within the hour, Hunt.”
 
He scoffed. “You want me to admit to the entire country that I lied?”
 
“Yes.”
 
“And if I don’t?”
 
Jaime took another step forward and lifted a single finger. “First, we’ll sue your ass into the next decade. I’ll tangle you up so tight in legal fees, you’ll be selling everything down to your shoelaces to keep you solvent.” He lifted a second finger. “Then, when you still stupidly try to run for re-election, we’ll throw the full support of the office of the President behind your opponent.”
 
He dropped his hand and shot Hyle a pitying look. “She’s already beloved by the people, Hunt. Imagine the influence she’ll wield in two years.”
 
Hyle swallowed hard and Jaime could see a sheen of sweat gathering on his upper lip.
 
Jaime took his last step forward, almost nose to nose with the man now. “You’ll lose by an embarrassing margin.” A distressed noise bubbled up from Hyle’s throat, and holding on to his temper by the last tattered thread, Jaime finished through clenched teeth, “And when you’re working in a t-shirt shack on the Summer Isles, maybe you’ll think twice about even breathing the Senator’s name.”
 
A drop of sweat rolled down the length of Hyle’s forehead. “Brienne wouldn’t-“
 
“Senator Tarth.” Jaime corrected with a snarl.
 
“Senator Tarth.” Hyle repeated with a jerky nod. “Senator Tarth wouldn’t do that to me.”
 
Retreating slowly, Jaime idly brushed lint from his lapels and agreed, “You’re right. She wouldn’t. She’s a good woman, with a kind heart, and she’ll be an exceptionally upstanding president. She won’t hold a grudge.”
 
Hyle heaved a relieved sigh and visibly relaxed. His shoulders had a mere milisecond to slump before they were back beside his ears with Jaime’s next words.
 
“Because I hold her grudges for her.”
 
He took a satisfying moment to watch his threat settle, then turned for the door, crooking a finger for Arya to follow and calling over his shoulder, “Get me that retraction, Hunt.”
 
They’d walked a few paces down the sidewalk when Arya murmured, “I bet he pissed himself.”
 
Jaime caught her grin out of the side of his eye. “I’m sure.”
 
Her silence followed for a few more paces and then, “That was better than a punch in the face. Can you teach me?”
 
~~
 
“With ninety-nine percent of the precincts reporting, WNN is calling The Riverlands for Senator Brienne Tarth,” the anchor announced, a cheer went up from their team, and Jaime twisted over the back of his chair to catch Brienne’s eyes.
 
Laptops, file folders, and coffee cups littered every surface between them. As usual, the living room of her hotel suite had become their command central tonight. The last night Jaime would spend wrapped in the rightness of his hours with Brienne.
 
She held his eyes as she navigated her way through the staffers to take a seat on the arm of his chair, close enough to smell the fresh, clean scent of her laundry detergent and the lavender lotion she’d smoothed over her skin, close enough to trail his lips along her pulse points from neck to wrist.
 
“Cersei’ll get The Reach.” She murmured.
 
He rested a hand on the small of her back, circling his thumb in a soothing gesture. “And you’ll get Dorne.”
 
“It’ll come down to The Westerlands.”
 
Hooking two fingers in a belt loop of her slacks, he tugged her further back on the arm of the chair and gently assured, “We have The Westerlands.”
 
She sagged against his shoulder. “Saying that doesn’t make it true.”
 
Jaime tipped his head behind her back to call to Davos, “What’s Clegane saying?”
 
Davos uncapped a water and slumped to the couch. “He says it’s neck and neck in the exit polling.”
 
Tyrion uncapped a beer and leaned against the chair arm opposite of Brienne. “I still can’t believe she won The Vale.”
 
Sansa’s annoyed tones carried from the kitchenette, “Baelish knew what he was doing when he made her spend a month campaigning there.”
 
Arya growled from where she and Pod had sat at Jaime’s feet. “Just wait until I see Aunt Lysa at the next family reunion.”
 
“Are you gonna give her a piece of your mind?” Pod asked.
 
Arya’s held fell back on her shoulders and she eyed Jaime. “I’m gonna punch her in the face.”
 
A brilliant laugh bubbled past Brienne’s lips, and Jaime pulled her closer. She tilted her head, resting her temple to his crown and sighed softly against his hair, “We knew it wasn’t going to be a landslide.”

He nodded and let the feel of her against him seep into his bones. Brienne’s affection hadn’t come easy. He knew it’d been hard for her to give what she’d never received, but in the three months since the debate, she’d become accustomed to his touch and returning those touches in kind. What started as a pat on his hand or a quick grasp of his fingers had turned into a lingering brush of her hand along his shoulders, soft fingers against his nape as he bent over his laptop, her head resting against his. He was certain that half the time she didn’t even realize she was doing it, else that sweet blush would be rising to her cheeks whenever a staffer’s eyes turned to them.

When the coverage broke for commercial, Brienne gave him a wistful smile and stood, heading toward her bedroom.
 
His gaze followed her sure stride, and he rose to go after her when he caught her shoulders dropping in defeat as she turned the corner leading to the hallway.

She’d left her door open and Jaime silently slipped in, closing and locking it behind him.

He thought she would turn at the sound but she didn’t. She remained at the window, profile shadowed by the city lights, fingers nervously furling and unfurling the hem of her shirt.

Jaime leaned his back against the door and let her be. She would speak or she wouldn’t, either way, he was where he needed to be.

It didn’t take her as long as he expected to break the silence, offering him a weak laugh and a hushed, “I guess I didn’t realize how- how overwhelming this day would be.”
 
“We’re almost there.” He encouraged gently.
 
She shrugged, a sudden weariness setting about her shoulders. “For good or ill.”
 
“You’re going to win, Brienne.”
 
She shrugged again, a little lighter this time, a determined acceptance in the tilt of her chin. “Even if we don’t, it was an honest campaign. We did our-“
 
And suddenly the dam broke. Every raging emotion he’d carefully tucked away for the sake of focusing on this campaign, rushed through his veins at once, tightening his chest until he thought he might drown if he didn’t expel the weight.

“I love you.”
 
Even though he couldn’t see them, he could feel her eyes burning into his as she whispered, “What?”
 
He stepped away from the door. “You heard me.”

She mirrored him with a step away from the window. “If you’re just saying this because-“
 
“I’m saying it because it’s the truth.” He took another step toward her. “I’m saying it because I can’t think about anything else.” And another. “I’m saying it because...”He trailed off when she met him in the middle of the room.

He could see her eyes now, incredibly wide, impossibly blue, and brimming with tears.
 
“Jaime?” She rasped, a wealth of uncertainty sweeping through a single word.

He didn’t touch her. He couldn’t. But he could tell her. So he did.

“It started the moment I saw you laugh and I’ve been falling every day since. Every breakfast, every strategy session, every late night bus ride. Every smile, every freckle, every wayward strand of hair. Every hour, every minute, every second. And if this is the last night I have with you-“

She touched a gentle finger to his temple, and the simple contact quieted the riot that had been raging in his mind since this morning. That lone finger mapped the curve of his cheek, lightly curling around the line of his jaw, before resting in the dent just below his bottom lip. The galloping beat of his heart rattled against his rib cage and Jaime slowly eased out a measured breath, afraid any sudden move would cause this dream to dissolve before his eyes.
 
As they sank into the silence that cocooned them, Jaime studied her. Studied the face he’d grown to love so dearly, from the jagged white scar on the tip of her chin, to the tiny pink birthmark that disappeared beneath her hairline. He’d give his right hand to be able to spend the rest of the night just like this.

She brushed her finger down the bridge of his nose, questioning quietly, “Why would you doubt it?”

“What?” The word just as quietly falling from his lips.

“Our last night together?” She tilted her head, gaze locked on the finger that was now tracing the bow of his upper lip. “What did you think I would do when you told me you loved me?”

“Brienne-“

Abruptly, she dropped her hand and met his eyes. “Why would you doubt it?”

Her question echoed between them, before settling quite firmly in the center of his chest. His heart stuttered, then stampeded in double time.

She couldn’t possibly.

“You’re going to be the President.”

“Maybe.”

“What would the voters think?”

Her brow furrowed. “They’d think that I love the man who’s had my back from the beginning.”

She could. She did.

“There’ll be talk.”

“Yes.”

“It won’t be good. They’ll drag you through the mud and-“

“Do you love me?” She asked softly, sweetly.

“More than you could ever imagine.”

Her lips tipped up in an endearing grin. “Let them talk.”

He touched her then, gathering her into his arms and burying his face against her neck. His heart beat against hers in perfect rhythm, a push and pull they’d unknowingly perfected the day they’d met.

Margaery broke the moment with an ungodly screech from the living room. “Hey! Quit your yearning back there and get in here!”

Ignoring the interruption, he brushed soft kisses along the elegant line of her neck, nipping her earlobe and moving on to the taste the freckles of her cheek. He placed a gentle peck on her nose and tilted his head back to meet her eyes, silently asking for permission and instantly getting his answer.

He took her mouth slowly, softly, cupping her cheeks with reverent hands and savoring every touch. Brienne melted against him with the most decadent sigh, and Jaime filled his lungs with it.

They broke the kiss with startled laughs when Tyrion bellowed from the other side of the door, “For the love of the Gods! Get your asses in here!”

Jaime touched the tips of his fingers to her blushing cheek and smiled, then tucked her hand in his and led her out of the door. They hit the mouth of the hallway as the news anchor on the screen smiled a bewildered smile.

“After record voter turnout, with ninety-nine percent of the precincts reporting, in possibly the biggest political upset in decades,”

“Oh my gods.” Sansa breathed, shifting on the couch and grabbing Margaery’s hand on one side and Arya’s on the other.

Brienne had frozen at the edge of the living room, eyes glued to the tv. Jaime pulled her to him, back to chest, and wrapped his arms tightly around her waist.

“WNN can now call The Westerlands and the Presidential Election for Senator Brienne Tarth.”

For a half a second, the room stood perfectly still, not a single breath leaving a body. Then, all at once, like breaking the surface of the water, tremendous noise rushed in, raising goosebumps over every inch of Jaime’s skin.

In an instant, the room became a whirl of celebration. Gendry and Tyrion were laughing hysterically and popping champagne. Margaery and Sansa were embracing as if that was the only thing keeping them tethered to the planet. Pod and Arya were jumping up and down on the couch and screaming at an unbearable decibel. Jon and Davos were shaking hands so hard, Jaime was afraid there would be an emergency room visit in their future.

And unmitigated joy overflowed from the cradle of his arms. It radiated from her every pore, filling his world with light.

She turned, never breaking the circle of his arms, and smiled the most blindingly beautiful smile he’d ever seen. “We won.”

He nodded, his own smile threatening to crack his cheeks. “We did, sweetheart.”

Wrapping her arms around him, she hugged him fiercely. “Thank you, Jaime.”

He felt her tears rolling down his temple as he softly murmured against her hair, “You’re welcome, Madam President.”

Chapter Text

Brienne woke to a storm raging against the windows of their bedroom in the executive residence. And even though her back was to him, she could still faintly make out the low rumble of Jaime’s words over the incessant hum of rain. “And then the auditorium was on it’s feet with the loudest applause you’ve ever heard.” The mattress dipped as he shifted, and she heard the smile in his voice as he continued, “Not that you’ve ever heard applause, but one day you will, little love, and trust Daddy when he says, it’ll never be as loud as that applause was.”

Brienne smiled against her pillow as the soft gurgle of a reply faded into an even softer coo.

“You’re absolutely right, sweetheart, Daddy forgot about all the noise the staff made the day you were born.” Another coo, high pitched this time, and Jaime shook the bed with his quiet laughter. “Yes, Uncle Pod did pass out. He got too excited. It happens to the best of us.”

He shifted again, and she felt knuckles tenderly graze her spine as he went on, “You’ll get to go on the campaign trail with us this time.” That was followed by the familiar sound of a tiny hand smacking against his cheek, and he grunted. “Yes, we remembered to get you a special car seat for the campaign bus.”

At the muffled rustling of fabric, Brienne knew he was rubbing a gentle hand over their daughter’s little tummy. He’d done that since the day she’d come into the world, insisting that it soothed her, and more often than not, it did. Their first night home, lounging on their bed and staring at the unbelievably tiny bundle resting on Brienne’s chest, he’d softly whispered that he thought Joanna remembered his hands from the months those hands had spent cradling Brienne’s growing bump. Her lips had tipped up at that, cupping his cheek and informing him, that simply everything about him soothed his girls.

From the earliest days of the campaign, when Brienne was still trying to find her footing with him, he could calm her like no other. He’d always known what to say, always known how to coax her to where she needed to be, with quiet care and an endearing grin. He’d challenged her too, teased her, infuriated her, but even that was done with a sense of companionship that eased her. He’d certainly began as he meant to continue, easing her into falling so deeply in love that it had felt familiar to her before she’d even realized what the feeling was.

Nine months of catching him studying her, and the odd way her hands went a bit clammy when he didn’t look away. Eight months of gentle hands nudging her awake when they’d fallen asleep in their chairs around the table in her hotel room, going over speeches and polls and itineraries. Seven months of him teaching her to laugh at herself during their odd family dinners of vending machine snacks and middle-of-nowhere diner burgers. Six months of realizing that Jaime understood she couldn’t let herself relax on the campaign trail unless someone allowed her the excuse. Five months of feeling that curious warmth in her chest when he indulged her need to stop and talk to every fruit stand owner and street cart vendor from The Vale to The Westerlands. Four months of watching him out of the corner of her eye as he seemed to be cataloguing her every freckle, and how the thought of it made her heart squeeze in the sweetest pain. Three months of anticipating everyone else on the bus falling asleep so she could lay her cheek on his thigh, and feel her world right itself as he soothingly ran his fingers through her hair. Two months of knowing for certain that she was in love with her campaign manager. One month to acknowledge that she didn’t want a life without him in it and that same month to accustom herself to the idea that she may not get her wish.

One night to tip her scales to overflowing.

And three years later, she was waking up to her husband’s quiet laughter and their daughter’s sweet sighs.

Jaime’s soft murmur broke the silence, and at his words, Brienne felt the sting of tears gathering at the backs of her eyes.

“Of all the ways I expected my life to turn out, I never imagined this.” He trailed off and Brienne knew that if she turned right now, she’d see Jaime tracing a large finger over their daughter’s perfectly pink cheek. “Those are the best dreams, my little love,” he rasped, “the ones you never even allowed yourself to dream.”

Her chest ached at the emotion in his voice as he rested a comforting hand on the nape of her neck, and while she knew he was speaking to their daughter, that simple touch connected Brienne to their moment. Connected her to him. A connection he’d been wanting and working for from nearly the day they’d met.

Three firm knocks, in rapid succession, echoed through the room.

He gave her neck a light squeeze, and Brienne felt a warm little body snuggled against her back, before Jaime brushed a kiss to her temple and got out of bed.

She turned slowly so she wouldn’t wake Joanna, and was settled on her side facing the door as Jaime reached it.

She couldn’t see the person on the other side, but before Jaime could utter a word, she heard Pod’s rushed whisper, “I’m sorry, sir, but the communications office has opened for the day. Sansa and Jon would like to go over the wording for the education speech, and Margaery got a question about Congressman Greyjoy in the press briefing and she wants to run some responses by you in case it comes up again.”

Jaime leaned further out of the doorway with a hand on his hip. “Why does Tyrion even work here if I have to do his job?”

“Uhhh, yeah, hold on, Margaery gave me a note.”

“A note?”

“She knew you were gonna ask that and she prepared an answer.” Pod answered distractedly.

“Oh, for fu-“

Jaime’s outburst was drowned out by the frantic crinkling of paper and then, “Your Director of Communications had his ass handed to him by Arya in a poker game last night, and this morning he’s posted Gendry at his office door with a weapon...” Pod trailed off from his high pitched imitation of Margaery and added, “uhhh, it’s just a broom, sir.” His pitch rose and he continued, “And he’s refusing to communicate with his communications staff on the off chance that anyone has heard of his shame.”

“Have they all heard?”

“Arya posted flyers in all the break rooms and on the back of every chair in the press room. I saw Varys take one with him after the briefing. Tyrion might not ever come out of his office, sir.”

A second of silence passed before she saw Jaime nod. “Tell the staff I’ll be over in half an hour.”

The moment the latch clicked, he bent double, and although he didn’t make a sound, Brienne could tell he was laughing. When he finally straightened, their eyes locked, and he held her gaze as he made his way to her side of the bed.

She lifted Joanna to her chest and turned toward the opposite side of the bed, leaving enough room for Jaime to sit in the curve her body made.

Situating himself into the cradle of her thighs, he ran a hand over Joanna’s pale curls and pressed a kiss to Brienne’s forehead. “Seems we’ve got a full schedule today, Madam President.”

“I heard.”

“But not yet.” He murmured, dropping his eyes to their daughter, and circling a soothing hand over her back.

“No, not yet.” Brienne whispered, watching as his gaze lifted and he leaned in to touch his lips to hers.

He deepened the kiss instantly, as she knew he would, and when she traced her tongue along his bottom lip, his free hand curled around her nape, pulling her closer. Devouring her.

When Joanna started to squirm between them, he broke the kiss but didn’t pull away, watching her eyes as he whispered reverently, “Good morning, wife.”

She cupped his jaw, smoothing a thumb over his bristly cheek, and smiled against his lips. “Isn’t it always?