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Brienne lets out a sigh as she leans back on the brown leather couch, making a squeaking sound as the fabric moves beneath her exposed legs.

Normally, she loves the worn leather couch to bits. Years of use have created the perfect hollows to fit her long limbs upon. But during the summer heat and dressed in hotpants, she ends up peeling herself off that piece of furniture so painfully that she sometimes believes a stretch of skin will come off.

Just why does Jaime always get to talk her into those stupid things?

Especially since the air conditioning broke later that evening, so that no technician would move out until next morning, leaving the two stewing in their own juices, and not in a fun way.

While Brienne is no outgoing person really, it was actually her to offer to go to some pub or club or whatever else, even a minimart seemed heavenly in the thick summer heat of Casterly Rock, so long it promised some air conditioning. But no, the man could not be convinced.

“We will stay home tonight. I am not in my social mood today,” was all he had to say.

Well, that and some lazy kisses that had Brienne moaning slightly, but still enough to make her say yes, despite the heat.

A part of her hates it that he had such an easy way about her, that he can coax reactions out of her with just a few touches, a few words muttered, but another part relishes the feeling of being able to let go like that, to know that he wants and needs her about as much as she needs and wants him.

“Jaime, c’mon, get going,” she moans, making her annoyance no secret.

“You are aware that this requires a lot of careful planning, correct?”

“We are not doing our taxes, we are just playing Scrabble,” Brienne grunts. “And you are taking forever to get going with your next move. Needless to mention that I never wanted to play in the first place.”

Of all the possibilities they had, Jaime had to choose Scrabble. In general, games were difficult around their loft because both are so competitive that even a round of Ludo may well end with one partner shutting him or herself into the bedroom for the rest of the evening.

Indeed that had been the state of affairs… more than once.

They tried less competitive games for a while, in the hope that this would grant them a game night without one partner (that is Jaime) having to sleep on the couch, but then they only grew frustrated with how boring that game was that they never played again. One game was so utterly boring that Jaime dropped it into the trashcan – and was actually that close to set the bin on fire thereafter.

And tonight… Jaime thought it was time for Scrabble, one of the most dangerous games to play. It nearly always leads to fight.

But Brienne reckons that he can’t complain if he is banned from the bedroom therefore. He brought that upon himself, then.

“I got it now, I got it. Geez, you are impatient.”

“I am melting and that’s your fault.”

“When you are melting into my arms when in bed, screaming my name, you don’t complain,” he argues with a dirty grin that reaches all the way up to his emerald eyes, which seem to gleam even more vibrantly.

At some point Brienne still doesn’t know how he finds her attractive, but she grew used to the fact that he found something appealing in her otherwise ungainly, mannish physique. Whatever it is that he sees in her looks other than the long legs that really seem to be a kink for him, Jaime is perhaps the only one to know, and Brienne doesn’t bother questioning further. She is just glad to have found someone who sees her for who she is and what she is, who never tried to put her in a dress to make her more womanly or who told her to just smudge on some make-up to feel beautiful.

In fact it is during the most intimate moments in bed, hair a mess, blushed and bare, with no opportunity to hide her ugliness from him, when that particular word rolls from his lips, with a smile reaching all the way to his eyes that means “this is the secret only I know, this is the beauty only I am granted to see”.

She can be herself when around him. Any futile attempt of hers to purposely keep the lights out once they took the next step in their relationship and got intimate was instantly rebuffed by Jaime, as he insisted that he wanted to see her. To this day he insists on it, probably sensing that this means more to Brienne than she would ever dare admit out loud. Because her ex, Hyle, used to tell her that all women looked the same once the lights went out, thinking it a compliment, when it was in fact shattering for Brienne.

Because it made her realize that he only wanted to have sex with her, that he may like her, but that he didn’t love her. But with Jaime, it is different because he is not repulsed, he is drawn to her against the odds of her looks. He wants her, all of her – more often than she’d want him to at times, because Jaime has the habit of wanting to get under her skirt, or rather inside her pants – because she nearly never wears skirts or dresses, even in the most inappropriate places.

To this day it is beyond Brienne how a man can grow horny while buying old, dusty phonographs to the point that he tries to pull her down to the floor, despite the fact that the owner is still in the store.

Obviously, Brienne did not give in to that temptation back when he tried, but instead bought a TeeGees record where the three musicians looked just like Robert Baratheon, Eddard Stark, and Tywin Lannister, though that is obviously impossible because there is no way that either one ever participated in a band.

However, all odd cravings of his aside, Brienne sometimes just cannot believe how lucky she is to have found someone who looks at her like Jaime does.

He loves her just the way she is, and that is something Brienne, for the longest of times, didn’t dare to believe possible. Especially when it comes to Jaime Lannister of all people, half Adonis, half… pain in the ass most of the time.

“Oh, shut your mouth and put down your tiles,” Brienne curses, running her long fingers through her sweaty hair, which probably looks even more ridiculous than it does anyway, standing up in all directions. From the corner of her eye she can see him putting down the small plastic pieces.

“There.”

Brienne leans forward to glance at the game board.

“Seriously?”

“What? It’s a word! I love that word when I have it in my mouth!”

“Teat.”

“I would have gone for teats, but no ‘s’ available for me. So yeah, one teat will have to do, for now anyway.”

Brienne tosses the bag with the tiles at him to draw new ones as she starts to go over her own letters. She taps her index fingers against her lips as she mentally goes through the options.

“Alright, let’s make a teatime out of this,” Brienne says happily as she adds the letters to Jaime’s previous word.

“Ugh, you always censor my wonderful creations!” he complains with a dark grin.

Jaime makes a sport of it to find words that will embarrass her, priding himself if he gets words like “orgasmic” or “cunt”, the first one being one of his proudest achievements of his life because it had Brienne blush like a tomato. Brienne, by contrast, makes a sport of it to defuse his bombs by adding new parts to change the original meaning.

And so the “long” that Jaime added to the word “honorable”, with the darkest of grins as he pointed out that he also knew something long that she enjoyed was soon made into “longing”, and Jaime had made it  “belonging”.

And that one came with a sweet smile, the words of “you belong with me” left unspoken.

“And my wonderful word gets me a double word score and a triple letter score on top,” Brienne says with a small grin as she writes down the scores.

“You take the fun out of things,” he complains as he shuffles his tiles, sucking his plump lower lip into his mouth.

For some reason, this round of Scrabble had turned very personal, or so Brienne realized over the course of the game. They had “honor”, later “honorable”, with a double word score and a double letter score, something both value very highly, even when Brienne didn’t think so when she first met him.

Truth be told, she wanted him dead when she first made his acquaintance, and that sentiment was mutual.

She first got to know him on a job. She works for a company specialized in the organization of events, such as small fairs or parties for business companies, especially if they want to do promotional work, this proves to be a niche that gets her company enough orders to fare pretty well.

When Lannister Corp. wanted them to get possible new customers and meant to get a better picture of benevolence and happiness instead of ruthlessness and tough business (after public relations officer Tyrion suggested such), a rather big fair and party was needed, and so Brienne was hired to organize such. At first she had hoped to work with Tyrion, with whom she had spoken on the phone, but instead she got his snarky brother, whose first words spoken to her were “is that a woman?!”.

Brienne decided right at that moment that she loathed this way too perfect looking man.

It was a constant back and forth between the two over who was right and who was wrong. Jaime thought he knew all about decoration since he prided himself with a good taste, Brienne disagrees with that to this very day because he picked out the most hideous festoons she has seen in a lifetime. Brienne didn’t want to accept his arrangements of the tables, and only agreed once Jaime had made the effort to pull the tables in place overnight, all by himself, and she had to agree that it looked better that way.

It just never seemed to stop. Endless nights of working on the plans, Chinese takeaway, and staring at each other in cold fury only inches from each other’s face – until the feast came about and proved to be a great success.

They went out for drinks after that, upon Jaime’s insistence, and slowly but surely, now that the tension of getting the job done faded away, Brienne had to revise her opinion in some regards, many indeed. Once he no longer wore his tie, he seemed so natural and relaxed as he nursed his beer, he joked, and the teases didn’t cut that deep anymore. Even his calling her “wench” didn’t provoke her to anger anymore… well, not as much.

“Ugh, I can’t seem to get my hands on the tiles that would allow me to put down your pet name, my dearest wench.”

“Lucky for you, or else I’d smack you.” Brienne rolls her eyes. Sometimes that man seems to be inside her head without even knowing of it.

In any case, after some beers, he grew sulky and went on about how life would be boring now again. Brienne was totally perplex for a moment until she understood that he apparently meant that he’d miss working together with her.

“Arguing with you grew to be such a constant in my life, I don't know how I can ever return to being oh so peaceful and kind.”

“Well, you never were, so it won’t be that much of a shift,” was all she had to return, and it had Jaime laughing ever the harder. After that, they just went on talking for hours, until the pub closed. And Brienne couldn’t believe that this man was interested in all of her stories. Her Septa used to tell her that she was not interesting at all and shouldn’t be under any illusion that men would care about her “queer” hobbies, such as mixed martial arts, sword fighting, and shooting. But Jaime? His eyes sparked when she mentioned all of these things, pointing out to her that he actually shared the same hobbies.

The hazier their minds grew from the beer, the clearer the vision for each other grew. It was like they suddenly saw each other as the persons they were and no longer just as what they perceived the other to be upon first sight.

To her surprise, Jaime was a complete gentleman, hauled a cab, brought her home, escorted her to her front door, and for the briefest of moments she believed that he would kiss her on the lips – even if Brienne hates herself for it, romantic comedies are one of her guilty pleasures - and she found herself often enough imagining what would be if she were the pretty protagonist of such a tale. But he did not. In a dramatic gesture, he bowed down and kissed her hand, and Brienne would lie if she were to say that she wasn’t disappointed back then, even though it was kind of sweet.

“My lady, I hope to see you for the duties of cleaning up the mess of today’s feast, given in honor of my father’s… I forgot the rest," he said with a lull.

And with that he was gone.

“Ah, there we go, ‘dutiful’,” Jaime calls out, pulling Brienne out of her thoughts as he triumphantly lifts his arms. She looks down at the board. He used the “l” from “reluctant”. “Your turn, my lady.”

Dutiful, eleven points. Duty is something both value highly. In the beginning of their relationship, or rather, before she got to know him and believed him more of an ass than a man, she thought he gave nothing on it, always making snarky comments and all, but once she got to know Jaime, she saw that this man takes his duties very seriously, so long he chooses those things to be his duty.

For instance, picking her up from work is one of those things he absolutely considers his duty. It grew to be a habit. Brienne does have a car, and she is a fine driver, but Jaime always drops her off at work and later on picks her up, with the simple explanation, “I take my boyfriend duties very seriously. And I am supposed to be the first good thing you see once you come from dreadful work – and you are supposed to miss me as you see me drive away in the morning, easy as that.”

Brienne had laughed really hard at him at first until she had realized that he was sincere about it. Now she enjoys sipping her coffee as he drives her to work, chatting as the streets fly by.

Brienne glances at her tiles again, quickly deciding on the next choice.

“I ‘add’,” she says as she puts down the words. “A ‘sword’.”

“Sword” gets her a double word score, sweet!

“’Cool’,” Jaime quickly adds to the board with a grin, using the “c” from “reluctant” and the “o” from “sword”.

“See, we can already communicate through it.”

Brienne shakes her head as she pulls out new tiles.

So yes, “reluctant” likely was the best way to describe their relationship in the beginning. After that hand-kiss that left her wide awake for the rest of the night, Brienne found herself packing in boxes and the like on the next day. The area was more or less a mess, and she was glad that Pod was eager to help her. Though gladly that ginger fellow with the beard whose name always seems to escape her (he only works part time when he needs the money desperately, so Brienne never bothered to get to know the man, especially after his leers started to make her more than uncomfortable) was ordered to help in the truck, which meant that she was mostly on her own as she collected smaller items.

“There you are!”

She whipped her head around to see Jaime standing there, for once not in business suit, Brienne still remembers vividly to this very day, but with tightly fitting jeans and a plain red shirt. Needless to mention that he looked godly even in that simple ensemble.

“Here I am,” she said, straightening back up. After that she quickly busied herself removing the microphone on the small stage Tyrion had used to welcome the guests the day before. Jaime simply followed her wordlessly, and Brienne didn’t know why, she only knew that she felt the fine hairs in her neck stand up straight because he was way too close. Way too close.

“Don’t you have something else to do than tag after me?”

“Not really. It’s weekend, in case you forgot.”

“So you spend your weekend tagging after the ugly party organizer? Way to spend your free time,” she huffed.

“I spend it with the person who drives me crazy. That’s definitely worth my time.”

“If I drive you crazy, you should have stayed home.” She shook her head, but then he stepped closer, one hand ghosting over her hip without making contact, the microphone between them.

“You drive me crazy because you are stubborn, and overbearing, and way too honest,” he said, though his voice was so soft that it left Brienne shivering.

Brienne glances back down on the Scrabble board as she flies in and out of the memories.

“Overbear” from original “bear”, double word score. Twenty-six points – and one camping trip gone terribly wrong.

“No one asked you to come,” she huffed uncertainly. Brienne still remembers just how uncertain she felt all of a sudden.

“But I wanted to come,” he replied. “Because you also drive me crazy with your way too long legs, your hobbies which are painfully similar to mine, your odd sense of humor, your cutting comments, and your big blue eyes that I want to get lost in.”

“Blue”, using the “b” of “belonging”, double letter score for “u”. Seven points.

Brienne didn’t know what was happening until he grabbed her, pulled her to himself, and their lips collided in a bruising kiss. And even once it dawned on her that Jaime Lannister of all people was kissing her, it took her another five seconds to understand that she was moaning and breathing into that kiss, leaning into that sensation as though she had been waiting for it all along, despite the initial reluctance and antagonism.

But the bliss was rather short-lived since the mike stand was no longer properly fixed and went down, producing such a loud noise that both broke away at once to cover their ears.

“Pod, I told you to switch it off!” Brienne yelled, then searched Jaime’s eyes again, believing that the moment was broken now, that he had woken up to what he had just done and who he had just kissed, this ugly woman, pig-headed stubborn and sometimes way too loyal to be real, but he just laughed at her before he cupped her jaw to tilt her head to meet his fiery gaze.

“Second try without sound effects this time?” he chuckled.

And Brienne leaned into the kiss without thinking, and without paying attention to the ginger-bearded fellow running off with a growl as he saw them on-stage.

And that is how they came from hate to love-hate or love to hate and hate to love.

Love”, triple word score, double letter score for “e”.

“Hey, your turn,” Jaime says, snapping Brienne out of yet another visit down Memory Lane. The heat is seemingly getting to her.

And that is most definitely Jaime’s fault, so he will have to deal with her drifting off every now and then.

Brienne goes back to studying her new set of tiles, tapping the G tile on the small stand.

“Stop that,” he mutters.

“You wanted to play, so you’ll have to deal with that,” she reminds him. Jaime rewards her with a huff and raking his long, slender fingers through his still too luxurious hair despite the fact that it is also sweaty.

In fact, it only made it more luxurious.

Damn him.

“Alright, I will go with this,” Brienne says at last, using the “t” from “betrayal” to form the word “gait”.

Betrayal is one of those things that are mostly absent from their lives. In fact, both hold honesty very highly, and once the spell was broken that made them cover up whatever feelings had already developed before they were ready to admit them standing by a microphone, it was like honesty was the only language to communicate in. Safe for the jokes... and the language that travelled through their touches, through their bodies.

Jaime felt betrayed once, after they visited Tarth for the first time as a couple. Or as Jaime said, “Your old man just wants to poke me for questions to make sure I don't spoil you.”

At first Jaime was totally thrilled about Tarth. He said he loved the landscape, Evenfall Hall, the horse stables, everything. And obviously the bed was just to his liking. Even her father seemed to take a liking to him soon enough, though her father remained skeptical, to say the least.

The betrayal for Jaime had been when he got to meet Septa Roelle. While she no longer worked as the nanny, obviously, her father had seen to it that she could spend her old days in a small mansion close to the main house. She still bugs the cleaning staff about how to do things properly.

At first Brienne didn’t even understand why he was suddenly so angry once they were in their room later that evening, until he snapped at her that she never told him about that “wicked witch”. And it took Brienne about a minute to even catch on to what he was saying, though it was still somehow beyond her just why he was so angry. That was until he repeated some of the phrases Brienne knew well enough, about how guys were only into her to get to her father’s wealth, how she should stop acting girly or feeling feminine when she was plainly neither, sentences long since scourged into her brain by the dear Septa.

“If she insulted you by saying that you are only after our wealth, then you should just ignore her, we both know it wrong,” Brienne said, not really understanding until he stood right in front of her, his eyes filled with a different kind of green fire than the flames she already got to know by the time, the fire of passion, love, but this was new.

“She insulted you, and you never told me. I thought you trusted me with everything.”

That took Brienne by surprise.

“I… I didn’t think it mattered.”

“It matters if that bitch dares to accuse you of such things to this very day.”

“It doesn’t bother me…”

“But it bothers me. I smacked Ronnet for less.”

And he had smacked that man, hard, when he had dared to insult Brienne at a party, when she was about to get some drinks and Jaime had happened to make that man’s acquaintance (a blind date gone totally wrong where he left her standing like an idiot because she was an eyesore to him) .

It only dawned on Brienne at that very moment that she was always rather reluctant about admitting her past not-so-kind treatments and only spoke of them when Jaime coaxed it out of her. She didn’t want to revisit, but Jaime wanted to know. And the betrayal he felt was that she had not shared that with him.

“I am sorry,” she said simply. “I didn’t mean to leave you under the impression that I don’t trust you with these stories. It’s just… I don't like talking about them. It’s not… nice.”

He grabbed her by the waist, then, to pull her to him, one hand tilting her chin to meet his gaze, seemingly a signature move of his to this day.

“But you’d trust me with these things.”

“I trust you.”

He kissed her then, desperately, and she kissed back with the same kind of need to get lost in his strong arms.

And that was perhaps the one betrayal that cut deep for them, but in the end it left them stronger together, because Brienne accustomed herself to telling him, of not being afraid to share that pain with him, just like he spoke more openly about the things that were… not nice, to say the least. Because that man surely had some dark spots in his past. That whole issue with Aerys was still wearing heavy on his shoulders, probably does to this very day.

“Gait, alright… then I go with… ha, hand,” he said with a grin, putting down the tiles with his left hand.

He is much smoother at this now. But it was a long way until then. It was that stupid camping accident that led to it, and it still leaves Brienne shivering when she thinks about it.

On the trip in the Kingswood, things went their usual ways until they came back from a round of bathing in a nearby lake there… with not so much clothing, something that Jaime obviously had to bring up in tonight's Scrabble game when he put down the word “bare”. It had been wonderful, in the cold lake, just them, the water and the moon above them painting them all kinds of blue and white.

But when they returned to the camp, a bunch of robbers was rummaging through their belongings. Brienne wanted to lurch at them at once, but Jaime held her back. The men caught sight of them by chance, and that was when they saw the big guns they carried, too. The leader, Locke, or so they later on learned when police caught him and his gang, told them to grab them and bring them to the tent. Jaime said that they could have whatever they wanted and that they weren’t looking for trouble. Brienne already meant to oppose, but Jaime hissed at her that he could replace everything but her, so he could give less than a shit on the money or the pricey camping equipment.

At first they were in good hope that this would work, but then one of the men said that he knew Jaime, and that his family was very rich. Jaime told them that he only had his wallet on him and that against what people seem to believe, Lannisters cannot shit gold.

Another one then seemed to have a splendid idea. He shoved Brienne into the dirt and said that he’d have his fun with her unless Jaime gave them more. Locke told him that it was nonsense, but didn’t object that the man may get to “fuck her until she’s good and wet” so the others could share and finish off.

Jaime and Brienne just looked at each other in shock. Then all hell broke loose. Jaime blindly lunged at the guy. Brienne scrambled away as the man tried to pull down her pants, and then threw herself at the man who meant to help take out Jaime.

They eventually overpowered them, since they had Brienne and Jaime outnumbered by far. Jaime struggled and told them to stay away from her and to let her go. Locke told him that he had no orders to give. And seemingly to prove his power, he smashed Jaime’s hand with his steel-capped boots as Brienne watched on in horror.

She can still hear his scream every now and then in her dreams...

The men were just about to continue their business with her when suddenly a growl erupted – and a bear appeared out of the bushes. Brienne never saw men scream and run away as fast as that bunch. She just grabbed Jaime, who was writhing in pain, and slowly walked backwards, her eyes trained on the large animal.

They made a run for it until they reached a tree. Brienne managed to haul herself, and then Jaime up, to then scramble up further. The bear scratched at the tree for a long while, but then retreated, and Brienne only held Jaime against her, her heart beating out of her chest, right into his back, biting down tears as he went on groaning from the pain.

She fished out her cellphone, which the gang gladly had not found, surprised to finally have a signal, after they didn't get one in the camp earlier the day.

“We’re probably high enough,” she muttered. Jaime only gave a low moan. Brienne called everyone required. Even a helicopter came to bring them to hospital.

The news they received there were not bright or hopeful, though. They performed many surgeries, but Locke had damaged way too many bones of Jaime's hand. Jaime could keep the hand, but it was mostly numb, safe for some pain attacks at first, due to the damaged nerves, and he could barely move the limb.

And for a man as sportive and active as Jaime, that was a death sentence in small.

Rehab was nothing but pain, watching him fail and try an wanting to give up was a cruise through the Seven Hells and back for Brienne, which left her alone at home, sitting behind the kitchen counter, crying like a child because she wanted to be strong for him.

Jaime was very bitter for a while. He tried to push her away, told her to just leave him in his misery, but she stayed. She never could have left. That was out of question for Brienne.

She felt guilty for a long while, until it broke out of her one night when Jaime was especially down after the company forgot to not invite him to the annual tennis match.

“It’s my fault," she blurted out as she looked at the fancy invitation card.

The words spilled out of her so fast that she didn’t even have the time to think them through. And Jaime just stared at her.

“Your what?”

“It’s my fault. With your hand. It’s…”

Jaime ordered her to sit with her then, his voice sharp to the point that she could do nothing but obey him.

“Don’t you ever think that it was your fault, or that I blame you for it. I made that choice. And it was those bastards who started it. None of that was you, you hear me?”

“I’m just sorry.”

“Don't be sorry. I am not.”

“What do you mean?”

Brienne knew as a matter of fact that he wished that none of this ever happened, so...

“I am not sorry for the choice I made. I told you already back then. Everything can be replaced but you. I am not sorry for having protected you. I won’t ever regret that. The only thing I regret is that I didn’t kick that ass in the groin harder to make sure he can never get a hard member again.”

She simply took his numb hand into hers and held on tight as she leaned against him – and both just found solace and a renewed resolve in the shared touch.

Protection”, fourteen points, but worth so much more.

They protected each other during their worst moments. Jaime had given up his hand to protect her, and Brienne protected him by not leaving him alone when he meant to give himself up. She held on when he did not, until he did again. First to her, then himself as he started to get used to the situation and sought out new options for himself.

In the end, it left them even stronger together, or so Brienne sees it now. She never had such a close relationship with… anyone, to be honest. She trusts this man with her life, he trusts her the same way. And they’d do anything within their powers to know each other safe.

Brienne never felt as protected in someone’s arms as she does in Jaime’s.

His hand is now well enough that he can move it sporadically, and Jaime can even sense her touching his hand, as both found out more or less by accident, if she brushes her fingertips in just the right places, which, strangely so, made it feel even more special, like a touch only known and exchangeable between themselves. But both arranged themselves with that new reality and are fine with it now.

Jaime found new sports to do one-handed, and Brienne joined for support. At some pointed they started a small competition (still one of Brienne’s proudest achievements in his rehab) that she’d do certain routines like brewing coffee with only her left, too, so that both were clumsy, so that both had to learn something new, and Jaime always likes a challenge, and that was and is just to his liking.

And Brienne now profits from being able to do things very well with her left alone.

“Alright, then I will go with… aketon," she says, putting down the tiles as her mind returns to the way too warm room with the Scrabble game that takes way too long as well.

“I love it when you talk medieval to me. Then I just have to add 'taut', like your muscles when I make you...,” he grins as he puts down the letters.

"Don't say it."

"Jog."

"Whatever."

Brienne tilts her head as she draws new stones, nothing with a frown that Jaime only puts down very short words lately, and keeps most of his tiles.

“Are you running out of options already?” she asks with a small smile as she puts own the scores.

“Oh no, I always win.”

“You rarely do.”

“Of course I do.”

“You wish.”

“Your turn,” he chuckles, his eyes going back to the tiles. Brienne shakes her head. He is way too absorbed into this game.

“Alright, your 'rear' has to go.”

“You love my rear," he squeals gleefully, flashing his white teeth at her.

“Let’s make this 'drear' instead.”

“Aw, no, that’s sad."

“It’s a word.”

“A sad word.”

“I find it rather poetic," Brienne sighs.

“You really take the fun out of things. My rear is perfect the way it is.”

“And aren’t you proud of that.”

“And don’t you enjoy it when you squeeze it,” he teases with a smug grin. “Though I must say I enjoy yours the same way."

Brienne lets out a small growl as she leans back on the couch.

“Make your turn already,” she groans, fighting the smallest of blushes.

“I raise to you… ‘fur’.”

“Wow, that’s all you have? You have so many stones. If you can’t make any more words, you should get a new set,” she advises him.

“I told you already, this requires careful planning.”

“Fine, then let’s go with… ‘aloof’,” Brienne decides quickly, using the “f” from “forbear”.

“Aloof… that was you in every conversation in the beginning of our first get-together," Jaime points out.

“I was not aloof. I was pissed.”

“Pissed would have gotten you more points," he grins.

“I still have more than you, so make your move or give up.”

“Never. You know I don’t yield… unless you ask me nicely for it.”

“Alright, then I add ‘blow’ to your ‘boat’ and general, awful ‘betrayal’,” he says.

Brienne checks her tiles again. Not such a good yield this time.

“Oh, is the No-longer-Maid of Tarth finally having a hard time?” he croons.

“Shut your mouth. I need to think. You take forever, so leave me be," Brienne grumbles as she goes through her letters again.

Gods know why she bothers.

“For someone who didn’t want to play, you are still rather eager," Jaime says with a grin.

“I just don't like losing.”

“Poor sport. Tsk."

“Your are the one to talk… Ah, wait, got it. I will use your ‘blow’… stop giving me that dirty look, we are not talking about that kind of blowing… and make… ‘draw’.”

“You know you used my 'hand'’s d and 'blow'. Don’t tell me that was not a hint," he teases mercilessly.

Of course.

“Shut your mouth or else I flip the game over and we are done.”

“That you always have to take things to the extreme.”

“Tells me the same man who, not long ago, broke a laptop because he shut it that harshly after having read that your oh so great tennis rack only got two stags.”

“Because it cost three hundred dragons.”

“The laptop cost a thousand.”

“Well, money is not so much the problem. But I didn’t like the idea that this awesome, wonderful tennis rack would go into the hands of a man who likely uses it to scratch his back. That thing was custom made. It was perfect. In Lannister colors!”

Brienne convinced him to get rid of it. While he picked up tennis again in some way, it's simply not the same as it was with two hands. It was supposed to be a small symbol that he moved past this and is looking forward again. Though he still bemoans that the auction didn't bring the result he hoped for.

“Your turn,” she reminds him, tapping on the board. Jaime puckers his lips, before sucking his bottom lip into his mouth. Brienne watches him, running her hand through her sweaty hair.

“Oh, c’mon. You have been staring at this thing for a good five minutes,” Brienne growls once her patience wears thin. “I need a shower, so if you were so kind to just finish up?”

“The game is only over once I say it’s over.”

“It’s not. If you can’t make any more moves, it’s over, I win, and I can take a cold shower to somehow hold on until the air conditioning is fixed.”

“Hold on, by the Seven, don't be whiney about it," he grumbles.

“I am not whiney. I am bored.”

“Have some more wine, as my sister would say," Jaime suggests.

“Wine makes me dizzy in the heat. Make your draw," Brienne retorts.

“Which is what I am trying to do, if you didn’t always distract me, my dear.”

“I am urging you to get going," she corrects him.

“You distract me with your long legs. Seriously, hotpants? You wanted me to take you right on the Scrabble board game, didn’t you?”

“It’s hot!” Brienne insists.

“Tell me about it," Jaime huffs. "And you teasing me with that little clothing is not exactly helping me stay cool."

“Which is also your fault because you demolished the air conditioning.”

“I was not.”

“Yes you were.”

“Was not.”

“Put down the tiles or give up,” Brienne huffs.

They always sound like children.

“I never give up.”

“For all the good it does you.”

The banter goes on a while longer until Brienne is that short before smacking him.

“Seven Hells, it can’t be that difficult if you hog tiles like that.”

“Hey!” he shouts when she just takes the small plastic bar to arrange the tiles on to twist it to herself.

“Let’s see… R, Y, M, E, H, O, A… you can make tons of words with that. Arm, harem, oar, rye, home, rhyme, aery, hare, year, hear. Oh Seven Hells, Jaime, this can’t be so difficult.”

“I am missing one letter alright?” he pouts.

“What?” Brienne makes a face. She glances back down at the letters.

What does he mean?

He can make lots of words.

“I am missing an ‘r’,” he goes on to complain.

“But…”

Mare…

No.

May?

No.

Ray.

Just what does he need a second ‘r’ for?

But before she can go on pondering on the matter, Jaime now takes her tiles.

“Ah, there we go, you’ll have to borrow me that ‘r’, after you were so ungracious to spy on my letters,” he says, taking the ‘r’ from her set. Brienne watches as he puts down the letters, adding an ‘e’ to the ‘m’ in ‘teatime’ to form the word ‘me’, before he moves on to the word ‘aloof’, using the ‘a’ to put down ‘marry’.

Me.

Marry.

Marry me?!

“You cheated,” she points out stiffly, but that is when Jaime places a simple but beautiful silver ring with a sapphire for a gemstone down at the center, right on the ‘t’ from ‘protection’.

Brienne just stares at the ring, the tiles, then Jaime, who just looks at her with a small grin.

“You… seriously?”

“Yes or no?”

“What?”

“Before I go on to explain, I’d like to have an answer.”

“You, you…”

“I only go down on my knee if you give me any sort of sign that you understood what I just said, Brienne,” he goes on, his voice a bit strained from… nervousness, though he tries to play it cool. "Because I get the feeling that either the heat leaves you short before passing out or I finally managed to render you speechless."

“I… understood,” she says slowly, swallowing, watching. Jaime gets down on one knee, awkwardly bending between couch table and couch.

“Will you marry me to drive me crazy for the rest of my days, Brienne of Tarth?”

Brienne can do nothing but stare at him, her brain feeling disconnected.

She focuses on his eyes.

On him.

Her anchor point in life.

“You are the best thing that’s happened to me in life, that’s no secret. I love to hate you I hate to love you most of the time, but foremost I love you, so… will you do me the honor of doing something so very conventionally for an unconventional woman such as you and marry this snarky bastard who’d be lost without you?”

“Yes,” she says simply, looking him in the eyes.

“Yes,” Brienne repeats.

She doesn’t really care about the wedding mess people tend to make out of it. She was bridesmaid for Margaery and Sansa, and that was enough for her. She doesn’t need fancy dresses or suits. She wouldn’t even need a ring, but to her… the promise to stay together means so much more.

To stay with the man whom she started out hating, but learned to love, learned to trust. The man she longs for when he is gone for business trips abroad, the man who longs for her, which he proves when his kisses burn upon returning home, telling her truthfully how much he missed her.

The promise to stay together, even after all the hardships already faced, and the ones still to come.

Brienne does like cheap romantic comedies, and maybe she likes it more in real life than she lets on, but all of the ceremony wouldn’t matter so long they make that vow, just between themselves.

That he is hers and that she is his.

Always.

She is ripped out of her thoughts as Jaime scoots closer to kiss her, pulling her down by the nape of her neck. Brienne smiles against his lips, leaning her forehead against his once they pull away to catch their breaths.

“That’s what I call a bingo in Scrabble,” he says with a big grin flashing over his lips.

“You didn’t use up all your tiles.”

“Seriously?” he cries out.

She shrugs at him with a grin, but then goes ahead to pick up the ring to slip it on her finger.

“I love you.”

“That means I won after all," Jaime chuckles softly.

“What brought you to the idea?” she asks, her voice quieter now.

“A lack of creativity in fact. And because I have been carrying that ring around in ages, waiting for the right moment. I am done waiting, to be honest. The right moment won't come unless you create it, huh? So you might be able to imagine that this round of Scrabble was a pain in the ass for me. So I hope you appreciate the effort.”

“You know, you also could have just taken out the letters while I wasn’t looking to… not prolong the moment. It was very risky like that.”

If he had not gotten the letters, then what?

“Tell me about it. I was sweating like a schoolboy before giving a speech in front of class,” he grins. “But does that mean my honest Lady of Tarth just gave me the advice to cheat?”

“I was just wondering why you did not.”

“Sometimes you have to do thing the proper way.”

“Well, you also could have taken me out for dinner. We both look like a mess. I look even more like a mess, drenched in sweat and flushed from the heat," she argues, looking down at herself.

In the movies, they are always dressed up and look all fancy, that's for sure.

“Yeah, the air conditioning was not part of the plan, but… I don’t mind at all. You are perfect to me just like that," he says, his voice so soft and warm towards the end that Brienne could get lost in that smile.

She grins at him, pressing a quick kiss to the corner of his mouth.

“So… does that mean I get reward sex?” he blurts out with a cocky grin.

“JAIME!” she cries out. “You just destroyed this moment.”

Because only Jaime Lannister breaks up probably one of the most important moments in their relationship so far by... returning to the more basic things.

“Sex can never destroy a moment," he corrects her.

“If you don’t watch it, we’ll play another round of Scrabble. And no sex whatsoever.”

“Is that a challenge?” He cocks an eyebrow at her.

“Isn’t it always?” Brienne sighs.

“And Gods know I love that about you, too. We could try Strip Scrabble.”

“Not happening.”

“Well, would be over rather quickly anyway. If I see correctly, you just wear… those teasing hotpants, a tank top… and panties. Good for me that I don't have to bother with a bra at this point of time. So yeah, that’d be an easy game for me.”

“We won’t play Strip Scrabble.”

“Oh, c’mon. I was all sweet and proposed to you, totally old-school. Give me some credit.”

She pulls Jaime closer to her, not caring about the heat, kissing him deeply.

“Hm, that’s some credit, but… maybe I get more after another round of Scrabble.”

“Still no Strip Scrabble.”

“We can also just strip and go to the bedroom.”

“Nope.”

“But you did mention that shower. We could make it a shower for two?”

Brienne shakes her head a she clears the board and puts the tiles back into the bag.

“Seriously?” he moans. Brienne sighs before leaning in close to whisper something into his ear. Jaime’s grin grows impossibly wider as Brienne fights her blush.

“Alright, I will most definitely win the next round.”

“Let’s see about that.”

“Because now I can play seriously. You had an easy game because I had to get the right letters.”

“You tell that yourself… I start with… 'oath'.”

“Then I add… 'keeper' to it, 'Oathkeeper'.”

“That’s not even a word," Brienne argues.

Though she likes the sound of that.

Oathkeeper.

“I make a new one.”

“You can’t make up new words!”

“Of course I can. I am a Lannister. I can get something in a dictionary if I try just hard enough," Jaime argues.

“Fine, then I go with 'kale'.”

“I hate kale.”

“Which is why I love that word. Also, double word score.”

“Aw hells no.”

The bantering goes on as the tiles are put down on the board one after one, but Brienne still finds herself running her hand with the ring on it over Jaime’s numb hand, right to where he can feel it.

“I love you.”

“I love you.”

Brienne glances down.

“You don't try to add ‘penis’ to ‘sword’, do you?”

“But…”

“Don't you dare try. That is not a word, won't ever be, and I will smack you, hard."

“Fine,” he moans, putting the tiles back. “But how about… oh, I can use the ‘a’ over there instead. Then I will go with 'panties'.”

Brienne groans, leaning back to cover her face with her free hand. Jaime leans his head down next to her to lean his forehead against her temple, laughing.

“You are incorrigible.”

“And now that incorrigible man is your wedded husband.”

“We are only just engaged.”

“Does that mean that if I don’t behave myself, you will break off our betrothal, my lady? I am shocked!” He clasps his shirt right where his heart is, feigning dismay.

“I could.”

“Would you?” he asks in a softer voice.

“If you give me a reason?”

“I can give you a million reasons why you should not," Jaime says with a smile, leaning in closer.

“Well, then you better work on showing me those instead of the ones that make me want to smack you.”

“As my lady commands.”

“Oh, and just to be clear, I won’t take on the Lannister name.”

“Father will kill me if you don’t.”

“Well, then you better run fast once you told him.”

“Will you protect me from him?”

“Because you will hide behind me as you did last time?”

“That was out of reflex.”

“I got you, no worries," she assures him.

“And that makes me the luckiest man ever," he says, grabbing her hand a little tighter. She smiles back at him softly.

Because that is true most definitely: They got each other.

"So now, back to winning this game so that I get an early bedding ceremony."

Brienne groans.

This is going to be a long night.

But Brienne can’t say she was ever happier about a round of Scrabble than this one.

“And now I can put down… ‘married’, officially.”