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A Lion Among Ladies

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When her son was born - after several months of discomfort, and what felt like several more of outright agony - with the blond hair and green eyes of a true Lannister, Cersei breathed a sigh of relief. 

It wasn't that she'd expected her husband's seed to take root; by the time he came to her bed Robert was usually too deep in his cups to finish, or to remember that he hadn't. And Cersei had been with Jaime at least once a day since her marriage - more on the not infrequent occasions that her husband was away hunting. 

"He looks like you, Your Grace," her husband's sniveling courtiers said of the boy.

He looks like his father, Cersei thought. 

Cersei had tried to love the idea of Rhaegar Targaryen, she'd tried to love the idea of Robert Baratheon, she had even tried, briefly, to love the reality of Robert; but looking at the red faced and wriggling infant in her arms she thought there might finally be someone in this world who she loved more than her twin.


On the first night Robert had clambered on top of her, hairy and stinking of wine, and whispered, Lyanna.

The second night she had tried to refuse him, tried to refuse him.

It was then that she'd realised that Jaime's solemnly sworn vow, that he'd kill Robert if he hurt her, didn't apply to her husband raping her. That was allowed. That was expected.

The only time Robert even came close to apologising, before he stopped looking at the bruises and started pickling himself in wine before visiting her bed, he said, "For Gods' sake, woman! A king needs heirs!"

"And you, my love, shall have them," Cersei had promised.


Joffrey, she named the boy. 

Robert had wanted to name his first trueborn son Eddard, but Robert was hunting in the Kingswood when the babe was born. He enjoyed the making of children, Robert, but he had no stomach for the bloody end to the business. And when he returned to be presented with a son he was entirely too self-satisfied to quibble about the name. 

When Joffrey was placed in the king's arms his tiny red face screwed up in disgust and he let out a wail of helpless fury. 

Oh, my son, thought Cersei, I know exactly how you feel. 


Joff was a difficult child, willful and stubborn, and only more so as he grew.

Cersei was not surprised, he was her son, hers and Jaime's, and a king-to-be as well; what would he be but fierce?


After the blood and pain of Joffrey's birth Cersei had insisted that Jaime always finish on her belly or thighs. There was a look of surprised delight on her twin's face when she wrapped her legs around him in the Maidenvault - meeting there appealed to Jaime's strange sense of humour - and gasped, "don't stop!"

Afterwards, Jaime stroked her hip and said, "I thought you wanted us to be careful?"

"Robert has been talking about bringing one of his bastards to court."

"Lots of men have bastards," Jaime said. "Some even take them home and pretend real fatherly feeling for them."

"Not all men have the power to legitimize their bastards. Robert must believe me capable of giving him more children before he is persuaded to set me aside and disinherit Joff."

"I thought you wanted to be free of Robert?"

I will be, Cersei thought, we all will be.

"I want our son to be king."


Nine moons after that Cersei was again taken to the birthing bed.

It was as painful and messy and undignified as she remembered. She shredded the bedclothes with her fingernails and screamed a battle-cry until her throat was raw and bloody.

This was how she knew she was stronger than any of them. Robert would have keeled over dead at the first contraction, and even her beautiful Jaime wouldn't have lasted the full day until the archmaester pulled the baby girl - a girl, Cersei's heart sank in her chest - from her body. 

Cersei looked down at the bed of blood she was too exhausted and sore and torn to move from. All that blood and pain and work... and for a girl.

When they passed the babe into her mother's arms Cersei expected to resent her, but she didn't. She loved her as much as she'd ever loved Joff, more perhaps, if only because she knew her daughter's life was going to be that much harder.


Robert, not usually a man renowned for his great intelligence, didn't even suggest Lyanna for a name.

Princess Myrcella Baratheon was presented to the court.

Lannister, Cersei thought, Myrcella Lannister.

A Baratheon woman was a doe, a Lannister woman was a lioness. 

Cersei's daughter was going to be a lioness.


Cersei was with child again when the unpleasantness with Joff and the cat happened.

Robert had feasted and drank for three days in Myrcella's name, but a new daughter would not distract her husband from other women's beds for long, and Cersei needed another boy to ensure her husband or his advisors wouldn't be tempted to throw her over for a younger queen. 

After the cat, Robert beat Joffrey bloody. Seeing her boy - her true lion - like that Cersei slapped Robert as hard as she could across his face, confident that he wouldn't, at least, strike her while he believed she was carrying his son.

I will kill you for this, she thought, for this and for so many other things. 


Joffrey was just a boy, a curious boy, who watched the man he believed to be his father bringing home dead animals in various stages of butchery. 

Really, what had Robert expected?

Still, Cersei cornered the baby's nursemaid and said, in her most menacing and queenly tones, "On no account is the prince to be left alone with Myrcella, do you understand me?"


Tommen slipped from Cersei's body so quietly that she was convinced that he'd been born still. 

"Where is he?" she demanded. "What's happening?"

But the infant they placed in her arms was sound enough, just peaceable. He had wispy golden curls and he blinked up at his mother with sleepy green eyes. He gave an unhappy gurgle but didn't set to wailing like his brother and sister had.


Robert greeted the birth of his second son with the same feasting, drinking, and lack of interest in the actual child as he'd welcomed his other children with.

Truly, Cersei worried about Tommen. Even as a babe he was so different from his siblings. Whereas Joffrey had come into this world seeming to know that his words were hear me roar, and even at not yet two Myrcella was a little lioness with sheathed claws, Tommen was a quiet, good-natured, docile child. 

The world was not made by or for quiet, good-natured, docile men. 

"Never mind, my little lion," Cersei told the child, who was grasping for strands of her golden hair with his chubby fists and missing. "One day your brother will be king, and I will make your sister a great match with a man who knows how lucky he is. And you, little lion, will be lord of Casterly Rock like your grandfather before you, and what you cannot win through strength or fierceness, you will buy with gold."

Cersei swore to herself that she would let no man interfere with her plans for these golden cubs of hers.