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Breaking Together

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Jaime stands, arms crossed over his chest, as Sansa rubs Edwyn’s back, his blond curls flattened against her shoulder. She hums softly, a hymn he vaguely knows from when he knelt at his mother’s skirts.

She turns so that Jaime can see the child’s face, his rosy lips parted in sleep, and she smiles slowly, sweeping a curl off his forehead. “He looks much better, does he not?”

Jaime tilts his head down, clearing his throat, for he fears what his voice will sound like, when he agrees, “Hale and hearty.”

The child’s color is better and Sansa says that he no longer burns with fever. She assures him that all is well, her calm restored with the maester’s promises that Edwyn has made a full recovery.

The past three days have not been the picture of calm. He knew Sansa wept and could not be torn from their child’s bed, but he did not see it for himself after the first night, when Edwyn’s condition seemed only to worsen, and Jaime could do nothing but drink in the hall in stony silence. He made himself absent, and though it was not callousness that drove him away, he does not know why she has welcomed him back.

“You were certain he would die.”

She shouted it, begging the gods in a way she has not done since she was but a girl, begging that they save her son. And he could do nothing to help.

She presses a kiss to Edwyn’s brow and murmurs almost apologetically, “I…panicked. I couldn’t stand it if I lost him.”

He knows. He could hear it in her cries, read it in her contorted face, and as he sat over a bottle of sour wine, all he could see was his small son in a frozen grave and Sansa’s opened veins, red on snowy white. If they lost their son, he would lose Sansa, and he’d be left with nothing in a charmless world.

He can’t be called father—though Sansa says they will tell Edwyn one day, together, the truth of his parentage—but the child sleeps with his little wooden sword and insists on waving it with his left hand though he should hold in with his right, and Jaime knows that it isn’t merely a boy playing at knights. It is his son playing at being him.

Sansa never scolds him for carrying the boy on his hip or bouncing him on his knee. She never whispers in the night that people might begin to note the striking similarity between Edwyn and Jaime should he continue to take an interest in the boy. No, she urges them together, placing the child in his arms and carrying the boy down to the training yard to watch Jaime with the other men.

Jaime steps forward, frowning as he slips his arm around Sansa and pulls them both into his chest.

When Edwyn’s face flushed scarlet and his breath rattled in his small chest, Jaime understood Sansa’s hysteria. He feared it, feared what it would mean for him, but he also understood the love that inspired it for the first time, because he felt it too.

“I couldn’t stand it either.”

Sansa leans into him, tucking her head between his chin and shoulder.

“Then we’d break together.”

And maybe that’s the only consolation.