Jaime Lannister doesn't know what to think when the news reach him that guests are to arrive at Casterly Rock to visit his father. They come from a place he has never heard about. To tell the truth, he wouldn't know where to find it on a map.
The Sapphire Isles.
And that even though Tywin told him that they don't even have sapphires. Names are really misleading.
Selwyn of Tarth will seemingly stay a while, or so his father informed him, to attend business with the head of the Lannister family. While there are no sapphires in Tarth, it is seemingly still rich enough for his father to be interested in dealing with its leader. Not that Jaime is concerned with politics much, very much to his father's dismay and anger, but a boy of seven is more interested in jest and quarrel, stealing fruit from the kitchen, and skipping rocks over the sea.
And that is also what he would rather do at this point, but no, of course his father wouldn't let him. Instead, Jaime, as the eldest son, is supposed to show Lord Selwyn's daughter around.
Surely some stupid goose like his cousins or the other geese his father invites over way too frequently to Jaime's liking.
"Now c'mon, we don't have all day," Tywin hisses. Jaime is pulled back to the reality of walking with his father to the front door to greet the guests.
Cersei got lucky because she could convince their father that she was feeling ill, though Jaime knows that she just didn't want to have to do with the guests. Tyrion is still too small and wails all the time. And that leaves Jaime as the poor bastard who has to tend to the goose.
"Do I really have to?" he asks, biting his lower lip.
"You really have to," Tywin replies, sounding annoyed. Not that Jaime knows his father to talk to him in another way. His father is always annoyed.
"But why?" he pouts.
"Because I am your father and I tell you to. You are a Lannister, so you are expected to fulfil your role," Tywin replies, his voice as cold as ice.
And if Tywin Lannister, by any chance, doesn't sound annoyed, then he has the ice in his voice. If winter is coming, as the Starks pray, it must be him to announce it.
"But Father," Jaime exhales dramatically, but Tywin interrupts him with a hiss, "Not one more word from you. Now come and meet our guests."
They reach the grand front door and step on the staircase. Jaime glances into the sun, then looks down the stone stairs, waiting for the surely pink-dressed goose to giggle and blush in his presence, to tipple-toe from left to right, and ask him to play Prince and Princess with him.
That is when two figures appear on the staircase, accompanied by some of their guards. Jaime tries to spot the goose, but there are just the Lord Selwyn and a squire, or so it seems. Maybe his cupbearer? Or some servant?
"I thought I was to show the Lord's daughter around," Jaime grimaces, tilting his head in confusion.
"You are," Tywin says, a small frown on his face as well. That is when Lord Selwyn reaches the top, along with the blond, short-haired boy with freckles, ridiculously long arms and legs, full lips, striking sapphire eyes, and a nose that is beyond repair. It was surely broken a few times by now.
"Milord Tywin, it is the greatest pleasure to meet you," the Lord greets him, bowing hastily. Jaime thinks that the man looks rather kind, at least he sounds kind, kinder than his father by far. Tywin bows back, "The pleasure is on our side, Lord Selwyn. Though I can't help but wonder… You let me know that you would bring your daughter along?"
"Well, I did," the man replies almost sheepishly. "My apologies, Milord, but in the morning, we couldn't find the gown I had tailored for her."
He turns to the boy with narrowed eyes.
"Oh," Tywin can't help but say.
"She…," Jaime says, craning his neck.
"This is my daughter, Brienne," Ser Selwyn says, pointing at the boy… girl.
"I threw the thing into the ocean," is the first thing she says, with a swell of pride in her flat chest. Her voice is that of a girl – and seemingly the only thing about her that is girlish. Jaime can't help but stare. He never saw a girl like that, if she even is. At some point, he is still unsure.
"Very unfortunate events led to the point that she had nothing to wear but this. I hope you do not take it as an insult, Lord Tywin," her father says in an utmost apologetic voice.
"Oh, no, of course not," Tywin replies. Jaime knows that his father does take offence in it, but Tywin knows better than to let on his emotions.
"You see, she is my only child, after her siblings passed away so tragically. I know I am sometimes too soft on her, but…," Lord Selwyn goes on, but Jaime's father holds up his hands, "Well, maybe being around my children will teach her a bit of proper behaviour."
"I surely hope that they will rub off on her in a way," the other man nods eagerly. Brienne just presses her tongue against the inside of her cheek.
"So? Will you teach me to be a Lady or what?" Brienne suddenly speaks up again, her eyes fixed on Jaime.
"Brienne!" her father scolds her.
"What? He looks like a girl!" Brienne insists.
"And you don't!" Jaime cries out, feeling offended.
"Good, because that is what I want!" Brienne yells.
"Oh my," Lord Selwyn makes a face. "Well, at least they... already talk."
Tywin takes a moment of silent contemplation, his cold eyes fixed on the girl, but then focuses on Lord Selwyn again, his voice calm but also threatening, "Jaime, why don't you show young Lady Brienne around? Lord Selwyn and I have some discussion due."
"I am no Lady," Brienne mutters under her breath, bowing her head.
"I think she is just tired from the long voyage," her father tries to explain.
"I suppose so," Tywin agrees.
"Fine, c'mon then," Jaime grunts dismissively, waving at the boy-girl to follow him. He just wants to get over with this business.
"But…," Brienne turns to her father hopefully, but he just glares at her, "Go."
Brienne growls as she trots after the girlish boy, crossing her arms over her chest.
"The children…," Lord Selwyn grimaces, coughing lightly out of sheer nervousness.
"Let's turn to business, shall we?" Tywin suggests.
"Yes, of course," the other man agrees and follows the head of the Lannister clan inside.
Jaime thought that a goose tagging along was the worst that could happen to him, but now he is stuck with this boy-girl.
Really, he will pull on Cersei's hair all evening to make her regret that she left him alone with the task.
"So… this is Casterly Rock. We have lots of old things here, none of which you are supposed to touch. This is a corridor, in case you don't know what a corridor is…," Jaime explains in a flat voice, making his annoyance no secret.
"I know what a corridor is. I am not stupid," Brienne hisses from behind him. Jaime has any intention to keep the tour short, and then go back to tell Cersei about that ridiculous new guest of the house.
"Really? That comes as a surprise," Jaime grins mischievously.
"What was that?" Brienne snarls, her fists clenching.
"Nothing. So, this is a window… oh, and over there we have what we call a door…," Jaime goes on. "I don't know what I am really supposed to show you. I reckon I could show you the Great Hall… or your room. How about your room, huh?"
That would certainly be the easiest of options: Just show her the chamber and lock the door. Jaime's excitement grows as he thinks about the idea. He turns around to ask again, just to find the corridor empty.
"This has to be some kind of joke!" he cries out.
She couldn't have gotten far, could she? Jaime looks around frantically. His father will kill him if he were to find out that he lost the Lord's daughter after no more than five minutes.
"C'mon out! I take it back, alright?!" the young Lannister yells as he walks back the way they came from.
Not that he has any intention to take it back, but he has to bargain.
Jaime walks past a window, but then turns back around.
"Are you out of your mind?!" he shrieks as he sees Brienne standing on the windowsill. Will she jump to death now? Oh, his father will be so mad at him.
"Brienne, please, I take it back, but don't jump," Jaime cries out, fear tugging at him.
He will take it back if she doesn't jump, Jaime thinks to himself, hoping that the Gods will hear him.
"Coward," is the only thing Brienne says before she jumps. Jaime cries out, trying to grab her, but Brienne just disappears out of his sight. He leans over the sill and looks down, only to see that there is an open wagon underneath the window, filled with hay.
The girl emerges out of the hay, perfectly unharmed, the hay sticking out from her blond hair in all directions. She twists around on her heel, both hands on her waist and grins up at Jaime. Even from up there he can see the teeth missing.
"That witch," Jaime growls. She just wanted to scare him! She knew that there was this heap of hay underneath he to cushion the fall.
That is certainly the strangest goose he has ever met, and Jaime met strange geese before.
Brienne waves at him as she starts to walk away.
"Hey! Wait up!" he yells, furious.
Brienne laughs to herself. There is no way that some Goldie Curl like this prince, if he is one, will show her around and mock her. No way. She will explore this place on her own, and then decide if she hates it completely, or only just a little bit.
It's enough that her father forced her to come along. Brienne wants to learn to use the longbow, and not let royals stare at her. She has enough of that at home. And those are people she knows. Here, Brienne is a complete stranger, and only has her father to guard her. But she will not show weakness. She will fight all of them if she has to.
Brienne of Tarth doesn't need anyone, well, except for her father. But the rest can go to the Seven Hells and back.
She looks around, trying to spot something interesting, but that is when she hears a thud behind her, and sees hay flying through the air like snow. And out of the heap of hay steps a pouting Goldie Curl, his hair standing up in all the wrong ways, making him look like a lion.
An angry lion.
For a moment, she is honestly surprised. Brienne didn't think he'd have it in him to jump.
"You stupid WENCH!" Jaime shrieks. His face is red with anger as he grabs her by the arm, "What in the Seven Hells are you thinking, jumping out of the window like that?!"
Brienne studies his face. Because, for a small moment, she is convinced that he is worried about her. But that cannot possibly be. Because he is a man, or will be one one day, and men don't worry about women. She learned that the very hard way.
"My, my, are you Lannisters too fine for some simple fun?" she says with a playful smile, hoping that he won't see what is behind that smile.
"You are…," he means to say, but Brienne won't let him speak, "So? Is there anything interesting to do here? Or do you just sit around and drink juice from golden cups?"
"I am to show you around, which is what we'll do," Jaime replies determinedly.
"You don't get to tell me what to do!" she pouts.
"Yes, I do," he says, pushing her forward. "Jumping out of the window. If you dare to lose a word about that to my Father, then…"
"Then what?" she challenges him.
"Then I will tell your father, and he will give you one of my sister's dresses to wear for the rest of your stay," Jaime grins. "And I will tell my sister to braid your hair so tightly that your scalp will hurt."
"You would not," she grumbles.
"Test me," he grins, and adds with annoyance: "So? What do you want to see?"
"My room," she replies solemnly, her voice suddenly as small as a sparrow.
Jaime knows that he should be relieved that he finally won, but the sound of her voice attacks something very deeply within him, making him cringe. The Lannister boy stops, turning around slightly, speaking in a softer voice this time, "You just can't do that, with the jumping. It's dangerous. If something happened to you, my Father would surely blame me for it."
"I want to go to my room," Brienne repeats in a flat voice, not meeting his gaze. Jaime tilts his head. How can someone morph from a foulmouthed boy to a girl on the verge of tears, too afraid to meet another person's eyes?
"I will not ask my sister for the dress or the braids, alright?" he tells her, surprised at himself that he finds himself comforting her mere seconds after he wanted to slap her.
"My. Room," she says again, forcing the words out of her set jaws, her voice betraying her.
Why now? She had it planned so well. Brienne planned everything in advance, while on the voyage to Casterly Rock. She knew when exactly to get rid of the dresses, when no one would look. She knew exactly how she wanted to approach these new people. Brienne wanted them to keep away from her, so that she could be by herself. That is why she decided to present herself in the way she is back home in Tarth, wearing boy's clothing, fighting and spitting the world right in the face.
She didn't want to be meek again, the way she usually is when meeting strangers, not getting her jaws apart to even utter her name. She wanted to be confident and strong, independent, herself.
But now, all of this seems so far away. And she feels just like she did back home, when she tried to play according to the rules, and failed miserably, making herself even more of a freak than she is anyways.
Now they will force her in a dress and she will be laughed at. She is rather frowned upon than laughed at.
"C'mon, I will show you the garden. It's nice there," Jaime suggests, honestly at a loss. Cersei never acts like that. She yells at him, or throws things, but she never stands there with fists clenched, tears on her lashes, trembling, and unable to speak.
Cersei always talks, often to his annoyance.
Brienne turns her head away. She never should have done it. She should have listened to her father. She should have just gone with the Lannister boy, let him finish the small tour and then stay in her room. Because now that arrogant Goldie Curl sees her on the verge of tears, for whatever the reason that her body decides to cry now.
Why didn't she do what she did before? Bow her head, say nothing at all, and endure the small chuckles at her freakish appearance? But it is over now.
She hates it here.
And more than anything, Brienne just wants to be back in Tarth now, glance at the open sea and dream about the life she could have if she were born a boy.
"I bet I will be there first. I am faster than you?" Jaime goes on, hoping to somehow stir a reaction. He cannot tell for sure what makes him. Maybe it is the fact that he can't stand girls crying.
And just maybe he was a bit harsh on her.
But just maybe.
Brienne stares at him, her sapphire eyes flashing back at him once. She quickly ducks her head again. Jaime honestly doesn't know what to make of the boy-girl.
However, much to his surprise, and honest delight, she reacts after all, "No one has beaten me in a race – ever."
"Well, you didn't race against me yet," Jaime grins. "No one's faster than me."
"But you have the advantage that you know this place," she argues, the air returning to her lungs.
Maybe Casterly Rock is not the worst of all places after all?
"Straight ahead till the fork, then left, then right, then right again. Then you can't miss it," Jaime grins. "Do you think you can remember or do I have to…?"
But that is when she already runs ahead, giggling in pure delight.
"Hey, that's unfair, wench!" he curses, running after her.
Brienne skips down the corridors, her feet flying over the stones.
And for once, she is glad not to run from a room, but towards a place.
Jaime grins, picking up speed.
He shall be damned if Brienne, he means to say 'wench', beats him in his own game.
There is no way that Jaime will lose to Brienne.
He will show her for sure.
And that is how Brienne of Tarth jumped into the life of Jaime Lannister.