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A Change of Heart

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In the distance a large hill loomed before them, a grove of trees nestled at its peak, the branches shifting slightly in the wind like a bony hand stripped of flesh. From one of the bare branches a noose hung limply. They had been marching silently through a barren and bleak landscape, war scarred and eerily quiet.

The wench had said maybe a handful of words in their few hours of their travel, usually little more than curt directions. The grim silence left him uneasy.

Jaime’s uneasiness grew as he recalled what she said, drawing him away from the safety of his camp. The Hound has Sansa, you need to come alone with me, or he will kill her.  Jaime had been more elated than he cared to admit when he first laid eyes on Brienne's large form riding into his camp.  He had to hold himself back from embracing her, that would of been uncomfortable for them both, especially in the presence of his men.  He had important matters to settle in the Riverlands, and was resentful for being pulled away from those duties to drudge along in the mud with this giant mute of a woman again.  It had been those damned eyes…  Beside her sword, those eyes were her greatest weapons.  Eyes so unbelievably blue, deep and clear, like calm waters.

He had only had a glimpse of those eyes as she recanted her brief story, she avoided his gaze, but she was more a shy maiden than her exterior implied.  Jaime not questioning her honesty agreed to ride with her alone.

They were not long into their travel when he realized the full extent of her wounds. She had stopped to make water, and when she came out of the brush, one of her scarves caught on a branch, revealing a horrific wound on her cheek. She hastily covered her face, her eyes meeting his only briefly, she looked down and away, refusing to meet his gaze.

He would not let her go that easily, “Brienne, what has happened to your face?”

“A bite.  It’s fine.”  She said quietly as she struggled to mount her horse.  It was clear she did not care to elaborate.

Jaime was mentally arguing away the pains of guilt he feeling for sending her out alone on this quest for the Stark girl, he had lost his temper and sent her away in anger, he knew better than most how dangerous it was to travel this stretch of country alone.  He couldn't help but feel responsible for her maiming. As they continued their ride he noticed another scar, this one fresher, the tell-tale signs of a rope burn around her neck, of that wound she did not speak. As they plod on further Jaime couldn’t deny the lurch in his guts was growing.

It had been hours when finally they approached a hill, at the top a bare tree littered with the bodies off several hanged men swayed.

 Jaime finally comprehending the source of the rope burn on Brienne's neck asked, “What have you done?”

 “Jaime, I’m sorry....” she said her voice mournful and blue eyes watering.

A woman so slight in figure it could not be believed emerged from the thicket of brush, along with several men, all armed. The woman was hooded, but Jaime recognized her. “By the Gods... Catelyn Stark?”

A cackling barely audible voice hissed, “Kingslayer” she held her throat, almost as if she was forcing that horrible sound from her mouth. Her lips were such an odd colour, grayer than the winter sky which loomed above them.

Brienne spoke again, “I’ve brought you Ser Jaime, now release my squire as promised.”

Jaime’s heart dropped in his chest. No. He turned to meet her anguished eyes, full of guilt; they almost seemed to plead with him. My life, in exchange for a mere squire? Jaime almost laughed at the absurdity of it, he would have if not for the growing anger building in his guts.

Bound by his wrists a young boy was shoved down the hill, small rocks tumbling with him, the lad hurried clumsily to Brienne.

The hooded Catelyn specter hissed, "kill him."

Jaime cried out as an arrow pierced his right shoulder, a second arrow clanked harmlessly off his chest armor.

The third caused his horse to rear, Jaime attempted to stay mounted, grabbing uselessly at the reins with his golden right hand, he fell back his head smacking against the mucky ground. The pain forced his eyes to shut, when he opened them Brienne was standing above him, the sword he had given her was drawn and pointed at his neck. Her raw unhealed wounds clumsily stitched together on her cheek screamed shades of pink and red. Her eyes, those blue, blue eyes were brimmed with tears.

“Finish him”, Catelyn commanded.

Jaime unbuckled his chest plate, grabbed the tip of Oathkeeper gently guiding the blade over his heart. Jaime spat blood into the mud and said, "I believe this is the spot wench," 

That is when Brienne’s tears finally fell. A small gasping sob escaped her lips.

Jaime held her gaze, “Don’t let this change you."

Brienne looked at him strangely. Her voice boomed with more frustration and rage, “I will not do this!” She stood over him protectively, "I have brought him as promised, but I refuse to slaughter him."

The boy stood unprotected; the whip of an arrow cut through the air, and exited out of the back of  the young squire’s neck. He collapsed to the ground; the arrow was true and his death instant.

“No!” Brienne screamed out in anguished disbelief.

Catelyn glared at them with hatred.

Eight men pressed forward encircling Brienne and Jaime, closing in with weapons drawn.

 

Brienne pulled Jaime to his feet and thrust her second sword into his left hand. They stood back-to-back as Catelyn’s men moved forward.

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It was fortunate the arrow had hit his right shoulder; it was for the most part a useless appendage anyway.  With Brienne pressed against his back they rotated with the slow advancing attack of Catelyn’s men. Like a dance, they moved in unison together.

Why doesn’t she just rain more arrows upon our heads? Jaime quickly glanced up to the hill where three archers stood ready.  That would be too quick... Jaime thought.  Four men each between us?  An intact right-wielding Kingslayer would have made easy work of them...  And although he had spent hours upon hours with Ilyn Payne fighting with his left hand, Jaime felt without a doubt this was a fight he could not win.  

But by the mothers’ teets, I’ll die fighting.

One of the brothers boldly charged at Brienne, Jaime could feel her tense as she steadied herself in anticipation of the blow. From his right, two more advanced in closer.

There was a scream of metal as Oathkeeper collided with the inferior sword of the brother to strike, Brienne easily parried the blow and delivered Oathkeeper to the man’s innards, the blade cutting through him as easily as a spoon breaking through a bowl of brown. In one quick swift movement Brienne brought the sword back and thoroughly separated the man’s head from his neck.  

Jaime couldn’t help but smile.  Now they might take the wench more seriously. His thoughts were interrupted as the men facing him screamed and charged.  It would seem the fight was truly on now.

Never breaking their back-to-back formation Jaime and Brienne dodged, parried, and thrust as their attackers came.  Jamie managed to deflect a swing meant for Brienne’s leg; she in kind returned the favour by smashing her fist into the jowls of a man holding a dagger as he advanced on his right, blood and teeth flying into the mud.  Jaime had fought many times, in tournaments and in battle fields, among many knights. The fluidity in which he fought alongside Brienne was mythical.  

They fought steadily and with precision, and soon their odds were much better than when the fight had started.  Five men had fallen by their swords, hope began to grow within Jaime's breast, we might live through this yet...

An audible and terrible crack came as one of the brothers managed to land a blow to the side of Brienne's wounded cheek. Brienne stumbled, yelling in pain as she fell to her knees.

Something raged inside Jaime and it was then that he truly felt like the lion of his family's house.  All doubts of his abilities evaporated as the left-handed Jaime charged at the man who hit Brienne.  His blade connected with the man’s face, smashing his nose with a satisfying crunch.  Blood pooled down the brothers chin mixing with the muck at his feet.

Jaime turned to see the two remaining men, cautiously approaching Brienne who was attempting to raise herself.  Jamie dashed at the men screaming as his sword connected with one, a fatal blow that sliced the tender inside of his thigh.  The other brother who was approaching Brienne collapsed to the mud as Brienne kicked his legs out from under him. Without a word she delivered Oathkeeper into his throat.

His breath heaved, sweat dripped into his eyes, but he was alive! They had done it, their victory made all the sweeter, he had bettered his enemies with his left hand, and he was almost giddy. That is when he remembered Catelyn and the archers.  I fucking hate archers. He looked at Brienne who now stood upright by his side.  She looked the Seven Hells, but her blue eyes were bright and focused, her chin raised, and without a word they charged the hill.

 

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Brienne reached for a discarded shield, a simple wooden buckler that had been carried by one of the fallen brothers.  She protected her face with it as two arrows bit into the wood. A third arrow whizzed by narrowly missing Jaime’s head.  As Brienne and Jaime closed the gap, the archers predictably broke form and ran.

The thing that was Catelyn Stark stood like a stone on the hill, her eyes a swirl of pain and hatred. As Jaime moved in closer a familiar festering smell assaulted his nose. 

She smells like my hand did, he thought with morbid curousity as he remembered his severed hand dangling about his neck.

 As he approached the deathly looking Lady Catelyn Jaime sheathed his sword, and raised his hand in an attempt to show her he meant no harm.  Brienne watched them warily.

Lady Catelyn stood unmoving, a terrible low gasping sound escaping her lips. Jaime strained to hear her; she seemed to be saying, Dead ... No.  Ned.

Jamie finally spoke, “I promised you, I would deliver you your daughters, and I intend to keep my word.  We will bring them home”.  As Jaime said it he realized that the word home may have been a mistake, the girls had no home to return to.  Catelyn’s reaction to Jamie’s declaration had the same impassive dismissal that the Black Fish had when he had made his terms at Riverrun. His words meant nothing to her.

 “Home?” Catelyn looked at him with venom.  “My home is with Ned underneath the ruin that is Winterfell kill me and be done with it.”

Jamie shifted uncomfortably, his hand touching the hilt of his sword.

“No. Not you.  Your whore.  Take my bones to Winterfell. Do this and I release you Brienne." Catelyn eyes narrowed in hatred as she spat out her words.

Brienne shook her head no, a pained expression painted her face.  “Please My Lady, I can’t do that.  Your daughters are...” Brienne was cut off by the most unsettling sound; Lady Catelyn appeared to be laughing, her head bent and her shoulders shook.

She’s mad, Jaime thought.  It would be mercy, he unsheathed his sword.

In turn, Brienne unsheathed hers.

What is she doing?

“Have you forgotten your oath, Ser?” Brienne said the last word with a snarl.

Surely he can’t be serious... This creature was not the woman whose family he had promised to never raise arms against. Brienne moved herself in front of Lady Catelyn, blocking his path and making her severity known through her action.

Despite all the horrors she had encountered, her own broken oaths to Catelyn, to himself even, Brienne was going to fight him now for this creature? This was the vow she was choosing to keep? Jaime was astounded and bemused at Brienne's reasoning.

That flame of judgment was in her eyes again. Exhausted and infuriated Jaime’s fingers tightened on the hilt of his sword. She has no right to look at me like that.  His temper taking hold Jaime swung his sword; Brienne blocked the blow, stumbling back slightly. Their swords kissed again and again, neither holding back.  It was a sorry show, both fighting at the brink of exhaustion.  Wounds old and new reopened as they fought.

Damn her endurance, Jaime struggled to hold his ground as she pushed him back towards the brim of the hill. I’m going to lose to her... again. Jaime thought with frustration. He knew if he was to win, he'd have to take a more unworthy approach to victory.

As Brienne swung high he bent low, grabbing her torso and pulling her back.  They fell down the hill armor clanking noisily, a rain of dirt and rocks with them.  Brienne hit her head a large rock below the cliff, her eyes rolled back and then half shut, the whites of her eyes still slightly visible.

Oh Gods. Jaime's temper evaporated at the sight of Brienne lying injured in the muck, he grabbed her into his arms in a panic; his left hand brushed away her sweaty straw colored hair.  As his skin pressed against her forehead he was amazed at how hot her skin was with fever. He pressed his ear against her mouth, Thank the Gods, she’s breathing! The unrealized fear that was gripping his heart loosened some. He looked up the hill to where Catelyn had been, she was gone.

Returning his attention to Brienne he gazed at the butchery that had been done to her face.  Her cheek was a festering mess, the rest of her face was covered with a mix of mud and blood.  I did this to her. Jamie thought with a quiet and guilty sorrow.

As the sky grew darker the first few drops of a promised rain began to fall.

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The rain grew colder, and heavier as it turned to a mix of sleet and snow.  Jamie knew they had to quickly find shelter; a storm was moving in and fast. Brienne lay in his arms, unconscious and muttering feverishly. If she asked what had been done with the boy, he would lie, he didn’t have the energy to bury the squire and this storm was growing worse by the minute. He removed his cloak, and bundled it into a make-shift pillow, setting her head down gently he set to work gathering their weapons, his purse, a flask of water, and a flask of wine from one of the bodies of the fallen, with previsions in hand Jaime returned to Brienne’s unconscious body.

He knew how much she would hate to lose her armour again, but there was no way he was going to be able to carry her with it, removing her chest plate, pauldrons and greaves. He picked her up in his arms, and carried her as best he could.  Everything ached, the wound from the arrow he had managed to pull out was screaming.

Her eyes fluttered open briefly, “Renly?”

“‘'Fraid not”, Jaimie grunted as he adjusted her weight in his arms.  Her eyes shut again, and she said no more of Renly.  Jaime pushed aside the peculiar dull ache he felt in his chest. 

The sleet was now decidedly snow, heavy large flakes fell quietly.  If he hadn’t been in so much agony, he could of almost enjoyed the serene beauty. He walked with Brienne in his arms for what seems like hours, when he noticed a torched farm and field that lay barren just ahead of him.  Beyond exhausted Jaime entertained the idea of crawling and dragging Brienne along with him. He knew that if he dropped down it would be the end of them, so he trudged on, concentrating on each step as it brought him closer to the shack.

He pushed his way into the abandoned place, flimsily built with old pine, grey and worn. It must of served as a stable, there was a pile of hay along the back wall,  he did his best to gently set Brienne down upon it, but it was not the most graceful delivery, she was heavy and he was at the brink of collapsing himself.

His clothes were wet, as were hers.  He managed a small fire and searched for anything that might be of use, he cursed himself silently with how arduous each task was.  Jaime found a ratty horse blanket, a tin cup, and three pitifully small onions.

Brienne was moaning inaudible words.  As long as she doesn’t call for Renly again.  Jamie thought as he set some water and onions to boil in the tin cup.

Making his way to Brienne he could see she was violently starting to shiver.  “Sorry my lady”, he said as he began to undress her.  “I’ll most likely lose a few teeth for this, but it’s not like I haven’t seen this before.”  He pulled off her wet tunic and as he did so, his hands brushed lightly against her skin. Despite himself he could feel movement in his breeches. Her breasts were small, as were her pink nipples, her stomach was muscular and flat, he couldn’t resist and with his fingers gently stroked her stomach, his hand slowly moving up to her breasts.  He stopped. Equally puzzled and disgusted with his actions.  He covered her with the blanket and proceeded to remove the rest of her clothes.

Grabbing the onion broth he had made Jaime gingerly held the cup to her lips.  

“Drink, wench,” He pleaded.

She half opened her eyes and silently complied, coughing a bit, but managing three small sips.

Jaime finished the remaining broth and added more wood to the fire.

He took some of the wine and boiled it in the cup.  He had watched Qyburn do the same when he tended to his stump.  He didn't’ have Qyburn’s salves, but he had to work with what he had. His own stump ached at the memory of the treatments Qyburn had performed, but they did work.  Jaime frowned wondering how he was every going to hold Brienne down one-handed; he knew she would fight him once he set the boiled wine to her wounded face.  He sat on her chest, pinning down her arms as best he could with his knees.  He slowly and methodically began to pour the wine on her wounds.

She screamed, bucking under his weight.  It distressed him how feeble she was.  

He could see the white swirls of snow blowing through the cracks in the stables walls.  The storm was howling louder outside. Brienne began to shiver again, jittery gasps escaping her lips as her body violently shook.  Jaime removed his clothing, practically every muscle protesting with each effort.  He lifted the blanket, allowing himself a brief glimpse of her alabaster body and curled up beside her.  Her body was coated in sweat, and yet he couldn't help but recognize how incredibly soft her skin was. He had never felt skin as soft, not even Cersei, the thought reluctantly came to him. For the first time in his life thinking of his naked sister’s body was unwelcomed. He focused instead on Brienne, her body beginning to still as he warmed her with his. He wrapped his left arm around her, thinking of how his actions were necessary, and nothing more.

 

Despite not wanting to fall asleep, Jaime drifted away holding Lady Brienne, the storm howling outside.

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Brienne awoke slowly fighting her way to consciousness. She winced in pain her mouth felt raw and dry, her vision was blurry and there was a dull ache in her skull.  Coming to her senses she could feel an arm wrapped around her, she immediately tensed, her first thought was to elbow whoever it was in the throat, she then felt the other arm underneath her torso.  With her fingers she gingerly felt the smooth dismembered stump of Jaime Lannister. Her heart began to race even faster.   Dear Gods I’m naked. Her hand searched elsewhere beneath the blanket... He’s naked!

 

Not moving Brienne surveyed the room as best she could.  There was an extinguished fire, a small tin cup next to it, and on a nail hung her weapons, tunic and breeches.  Where’s my armor?  She stiffened as she felt Jaime beginning to moan and stir.  His arm tightened about her waist, his hand caressing her torso.  She could feel his hardness pressing against her. Brienne blushed horrified, she had never been this close to a man before, let alone a naked one, any closer and I could no longer call myself maid, Brienne thought embarrassed at the predicament she found herself in. Thankful that Jaime was still slumbering, she slowly raised his arm freeing herself from his grip, slipping out of the blanket she attempted to make her way to her tunic, her legs were shaky, and the earthen floor was cold beneath her bare feet.  A sudden great wave of dizziness overtook her and she stumbled against the wall.

The noise awoke Jaime.

Brienne recovered somewhat scrambling to cover her chest with her tunic.

“I think we are way past modesty wench.” Jaime grinned, a devilish twinkle in his eye.

“What happened?  Where are we?” Brienne leaned against the wall, still clutching her tunic.  

Jaime half sat up underneath the blanket, grabbing a wine flask and uncorking it, “Let’s just say you can most aptly handle a sword”, he glanced down at his lap, “not so much your wine.” He finished his sentence with a swig from the flask.

Brienne’s blue eyes widened in shock, as she covered her mouth with her hand.

Jaime gave a roarous laugh. It was then she realized he was joking.

Brienne hurt and infuriated hurled the nearest object closest to her, his boot still covered in mud struck him squarely in the forehead. “Yield! Ok! I apologize”, the blow had lessened his laughter some but he was still chuckling as he stood and brought the blanket over to her.

She refused to meet his gaze as he wrapped the blanket around her shoulders. She failed to share in his mirth; Brienne had been far too often the subject of men’s jokes.  It hurt that Jaime would play with her so.

Her hurt thoughts melted into sorrowful one as the memory of yesterday came back to her, her dizziness increased as all her betrayals came flooding back, Lady Catelyn, poor Podrick, and Ser Jaime. She slumped to the floor, the strength in her legs finally giving way. Her heart ached, and she felt like throwing up.  Attempting to pull herself to her feet again she found she did not have the strength to.  

“Easy wench, easy”.  Jaime came to her side blanket in hand.  

The heat of her anger had ebbed, now she felt chilled, the pit in her stomach bottomless. “Jaime, I want you to know that I am truly sorry.” She looked up to meet his eyes. He only met her gaze for a moment, draping the blanket around her shoulder before turning his back to her, he silently finished dressing. His one hand fumbled with his laces.  Brienne felt the urge to jump up and help him, but stayed sitting on the cold ground, finding she had neither the strength nor courage.

The silence between them lasted uncomfortably long.

Finally he spoke.  “It’s who you are.”  

She squinted at him, not understanding.

He knelt down, his green eyes level with hers, they seemed so sad. “I know something of betrayal, I also know about making difficult choices”  

He was speaking of Aerys

“For me the decision was forced with the threat of the burning of an entire city and its people, for you it was the life of a boy, it’s who you are Brienne. I’m only going to say this once... I forgive you.”

She hadn’t wept the night she was threatened with rape, she hadn’t wept when he had left her at Harrenhal, she hadn’t wept in the bear pit, but now all her sadness seem to threaten to spill out of her.  She sobbed into her hands, trying to muffle the noise of her anguish. Don’t cry, don’t cry, not here, not here with him! The more she fought the tears, ugly hard gasps racked at her chest. When she was finally able to recover herself, she looked up utterly miserable. She couldn’t read him; his face was impassive and detached.

Jaime Lanister finally spoke, “I suppose we’re meeting in the middle.”

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There was an incredible amount of snow piled against the rickety door of the stable; Brienne pushed her weight against it, allowing for enough space to step outside.  The air was crisp and clean. The sky was blue, and it looked as though the storm was over.  As the sun climbed higher she hoped it would melt the new snow, making travel easier.  She was conflicted and uncomfortable with the thought of been cooped up with Jaime for too long, the man seemed to take particular delight in goading and antagonizing her.  She had to reluctantly admit that there was a part of her that yearned to stay; there was always a duel of anxiety and peace when she was with him.  With most men it was mostly just anxiety. The few times she had let her guard relax, the cruel sting of rejection or humiliation never failed to be too far behind.  It was clear that they would not be going anywhere this morning, but these early snows never stayed on the ground long.

In the light of the day Jaime had managed to find a pail, in which he was attempting to heat some snow.  It would not be the great stone baths of Harrenhal, but both were desperate to wash.

“I think we might have a chance of traveling this afternoon” Brienne said kneeling down near the fire.

“Sorry, not much of a cook, but I feel I am perfecting this dish”, Jaime handed Brienne the tin cup filled with onion broth.  She couldn’t help but allow a small smile. Jaime raised his eyebrows in amusement.  He always did that when she smiled.  She found it somewhat irksome.

Brienne sipped the broth, grateful for its heat as it made its way down her throat, she was still fighting bouts of dizziness, and her legs were disgustingly weak, but she felt shades better than the previous evening, little of which she could remember. Her night had been full of troubling dreams, one after another.  One in particular she couldn't seem to shake...

 

 Renly had been with her.  Despite herself she blushed at the memory.  He had held her hand as they climbed it together.  In her dream she was smaller, like an average woman, her hair was longer too and braided.  She was still in breeches though, even in her dreams Brienne was sensible enough to know traipsing through tall grasses made more sense in breeches rather than a cumbersome long skirt.  Renly had pulled her down beside him; they lay with their backs on the ground, looking up into the sky wild flowers of every colour had spread all around them like a beautiful quilt.  He looked at her with a dazzling smile, but suddenly his eyes turned cold “You let me die Brienne.”  and then the sun set alarmingly fast, casting a red hue on everything. The flowers turned crimson, when she looked beside her again Renly had become Catelyn Stark, worms and maggots fell from her eyes, her skeletal-like fingers gripping at her throat.

 

“Its warm enough,” She shivered as Jamie brought the pail of warmed water to Brienne.  She washed her face, feeling the sting of every half-healed cut, the water was more cool than warm, and she welcomed it.  When she was finished Jaime washed his face and neck as well.  He pulled off his shirt.  There was no denying how perfect his torso was, every muscle, line and curve in its proper place, like some marble statue she had seen in Kingslanding.  He was no longer half a corpse... all god.  Brienne shifted uncomfortably and averted her eyes to the corner of the room.  Slumping down, the blanket wrapped around her.

 

“We’re going to have to tend to that wound again.” He poured some wine into the tin cup.

When it was boiled he came over to her carefully lowering himself to the floor beside her.  He raised his arms and gestured for her to lay her head in his lap. 

“I can manage myself,” Brienne refused.

“Don’t be ridiculous wench, lay your bloody head down and let me tend your stubborn face”, He always called her a wench when he meant to provoke or had lost his patience with her.

Reluctantly Brienne lay the back of her head down on his lap. His golden hand held the bottom of her chin, tipping it up to see the wound better. She shut her eyes and braced for the impact of the hot wine.  She hissed through clenched teeth, one cry escaping as the wine collided with the wound. When he was done he wrapped half her face with strips of cloth, pulling apart the bandage slightly for her eye to peek through.  I must look a sight, Brienne thought. Any other woman would probably have been completely gutted having a good portion of her face torn to shreds, for the first time in her life Brienne was thankful she was no great beauty. She would not allow herself to sulk over her ruined face.

“It’s healing rather nicely.  Now my turn” Jaime handed the cup with the remaining wine to Brienne. He lay down, his right shoulder looked red and angry, the arrow fortunately hadn’t struck too deep.  She gently poured the remaining wine on it, he cursed as she did so.  It was so strange to be this close to him, caring for him in this way, yet it felt natural. She grabbed a cloth and wiped the excess wine away from his chest, he was staring at her with those green eyes of his, a strange expression set on his face, Brienne looked down and at his lips instead.  I wonder what it would be like to kiss him?  Brienne immediately felt the heat rising from her chest and neck as this strange and unwelcome thought came to her. She dressed his wound with strips of cloth, her long fingers aptly performing the task.

When finished she felt a little like laughing, they certainly looked the pair.

“It’s evident I can’t afford to leave you alone to the road. I shouldn't have sent you away alone.  This oath is as much mine as it is yours.”  Jaime spoke with sincerity.  “We will find the Stark girls together, but first let us find a proper meal”

Brienne stared back into those green eyes of his, her gaze drifting to his parted lips despite herself; she consciously forced herself to meet his eyes again and spoke. “I know an inn”.  

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The snow was a wet slush, it had melted fast as the sun climbed higher into the cloudless sky.  They had been walking for hours, both their feet wet and cold when finally Brienne spoke, "There".

It was quite a large inn, double storied, with stables and a well.  He could swear the horse he saw in the stable was the one she had left with at Kingslanding. 

And then it dawned on him... "Are you insane!?"  Jaime couldn't believe that she would bring him to the spot where the Brotherhood had captured her, where she was almost killed.

"There are children," Brienne spoke calmly, as if that was reason enough to return to this place.

"I don't bloody well care if there are baby dragons here. Wench are you not going to be happy until both our heads are off our shoulders?" Jaime was harshly whispering, his eyes darting all around him. "What are you doing?!"  He grabbed at her arm as she made her way toward the inn.  

Brienne roughly tore her arm away. "Stop. It will be fine."  Her voice was low and stern; she had a fire in her eyes and she was prepared to argue.

Jaime knew it was useless to try and dissuade her, stubborn mule that she was. As frustrated as he was with her, he couldn't help but feel relief that she was mending. No doubt a temporary state of health, Jaime thought bitterly.  

Brienne pushed on the door.  It was barred.  She tried knocking.

Jaime grabbed the hilt of his sword preparing himself for whatever may greet them.

There were sounds of the door being unbarred, and it opened ajar.  A brown eyed girl with a crossbow squinted at them suspiciously. Her eyes widened when she recognized Brienne. "Holy Hells, you're alive?!" The girl lowered her cross bow. “What do you want?”

Brienne held up a gold dragon, “A hot meal and bath.” Snatching the gold coin the girl stepped aside allowing Jaime and Brienne to enter.

“There were more children here before,” Brienne said as she eyed the room.  There had to be at least a dozen children, mostly small, and mostly girls.

“Aye, the brothers were taking the boys, most of them wanted to be little soldiers, less mouths to feed I ‘spose.”

“Where is the older boy who save my life?" Brienne asked

The girl shrugged.  “Gendry? He comes ‘round with game sometimes.” The girl motioned to another, no older than nine. “Hey! Bring them stew!” The little girl jumped up and hurried back with two bowls.

Jaime’s stomach groaned at the smell. 

Brienne and Jaime ate without ceremony, both starving and trying not to think about the content of their meal.

“We’d like two baths prepared in our rooms please,” Brienne requested.

The girl nodded, snapping her fingers and barking orders.

“More,” Jaime demanded putting a silver stag on the table as he pushed his bowl towards the girl.

When they had eaten their fill they were shown to their rooms.  Brienne was taken to the room down the hall by the little girl.  He watched her disappear behind the door and he felt an odd sadness at the prospect at sleeping under the same roof but in another room away from her.

Jaime began to undress in his room, eager to bathe before the water cooled.  I should offer to clean her wound again. He thought as he lowered himself into the water. Jaime knew she would refuse, but there could be no argument with how well it was healing. He closed his eyes remembering Brienne's gentle fingers as they dressed his wounds, her blue eyes looking concerned, he could feel himself stiring the more he thought about her touching him. His thoughts then drifted to her chiselled stomach, muscular, but not unappealing, the feel of her unbelievably smooth skin.  He felt more movement and entertained the idea of relieving himself, it had been days. Usually he would focus on memories of Cersei, the smell of her perfume, the sweetness of her laughter, her golden hair, the curve of her waist.  Instead of these memories increasing his desire he soon realized it was pointless, and his excitement had left him completely.

There was a quiet rap on the door.

Jaime towelled off, pulled on his breeches and answered the knock.

Brienne stood with a pitcher, her hair damp from freshly bathing, she looked down at the floor and said,  “I thought it best we care to each other’s wounds again, I had some wine boiled for us.” She did not budge from her spot, or look up at him, seemingly embarassed by  her presence there.

Jaime did his best to suppress a smile; he stepped aside and motioned her to come in.  Once inside he shut the door behind them.

She sat in the chair and held her head back.  The light was very dim in the room, but the wound was indeed healing nicely, the redness was subsiding and the flesh was stitching together.  It would leave a horrible scar, but she seemed to be taking it rather well.  Better than most women would have.  When he was finished he traded places with her. She knelt in front of him, changing his bandages.  While her tender fingers worked he took the liberty to admire her long neck, it is very elegant, he leaned in closer, drawn to it, wanting to nestle his face next to it like he had done in the stable.  As he moved forward she turned and her startled gaze met his, their noses almost touching.  This is where she is going to blush and pull away from me. He refused to let her do that, firmly but tenderly holding the back of her head, he drew her face toward his.

To his extreme amazement her long fingers found their way to the back of his head.  Her breath came out in stuttered gasps, he wondered if her heart was beating as much as his. He kissed her, slowly licking the bottom of her closed lips, she was inexperienced and did not open her mouth, the more he pressed his lips and tongue to her lips she blessedly yielded and opened her mouth, he began to kiss her more passionately.  His heart was racing; she began to let out soft gasps. He yearned to hear her say his name and as if reading his mind she let out a soft moan... "Jaime"

He was seeing red with pent up lust, pushing off the chair he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her down to the floor gently. He lay on top of her eager and hungry for more, keeping in mind she was a maid he resumed slowly again working his way down to her lovely neck, gently kissing, licking and biting, enjoying every inch.

“Jaime,” she sighed again.

Chapter Text

Brienne’s fingers caressed the muscles of his back, firm and gentle each stroke of her finger tips made his skin sing, never had he been this intimate with another woman, he was surprised by the hunger Brienne was awakening, with every bite and kiss he landed upon her body, her nails would dig in slightly, the sensation was extraordinarily pleasurable.

Jamie nibbled at her earlobe, unbelievably he whispered, “I’ve wanted you since the baths at Harrenhal.” Her nails bit into his back harder still.  It was true; he finally knew it was true.  He wanted this woman.

Feeling like he was spiraling Jaime continued to kiss and lick his way down her neck which seemed to go on forever, planting several at her collarbone, scars and all.  She didn't smell of the thick flowery perfume like Cersei did, but her smell was intoxicating, she smelled like an open field at sunrise. Her thin tunic still on he made his way down to her small breasts, wetting the fabric with his tongue, taking a delicate nip he looked for her reaction. 

Her head leaned back and she let out a soft moan, her back arched as she thrust her hips towards him. He was so incredibly aroused his groin ached against his breeches.

A knock came to the door.

A hundred curses ran through his head at once.

“Ser? Is m’lady there?” A small voice asked from behind the door.

Gods I hate this inn.

Brienne was already scrambling, unceremoniously throwing him off of her.  Brienne looked as flushed as he'd ever seen a woman, her hair was a mess, he watched as she attempted to smooth the pale strands into some kind of order. Jaime made his way to the chair and sat, trying to calm and still his breathing.

Feeling completely prepared, Brienne made her way to the door and opened it, “Yes? Oh...”

Curious to see what had given Brienne pause Jaime looked at the figure standing outside his door.  The boy was dark haired, tall, and a good solid build. He looks like a young Robert, a thin and young Robert, definitely a Baratheon, no doubting that. Now this is curious...

Brienne bowed her head slightly to the young man; even though the young man was tall, and still growing she was still heads taller. “I owe you my life”

The Robert-look-alike seemed extremely uncomfortable. “No. Stop, it’s my fault that you came to any harm, I signaled the brothers… when Willow told me you were here and alive.  I wanted to see you... and apologize” The young man looked down, and back up, his eyes sincere.

Brienne simply nodded.

“You are one of Robert’s bastards aren’t you?” Jaime couldn’t help himself, it was too ridiculously obvious, and he was in a sour mood due to the boys interruption, he was beyond caring in being polite to some overgrown man child.

The young man glared at Jaime. “I don’t know what you’re talking about”.

“You strike a remarkable resemblance to King Renly”, Brienne added.

The boy looked utterly confused, and then as if watching the morning light make its way across a room, understanding seemed to dawn upon his face. The boy looked at Jaime’s hand and without warning bolted away.

Jaime and Brienne looked at each other stunned.

“Catch him!” She finally yelled.  “Go!”

“Why in the bloody hells would I chase this fool down?”

“He knows where Arya Stark is!” Wishing he had time for an explanation Jaime saw the urgency in Brienne’s eyes.  She’s serious

Jaime hurried down the stairs after the boy who now had a considerable lead and was unbarring the inn door. In the time it took for the bar to be removed from the door Jaime had narrowed the boy’s lead. The boy finally managed to throw open the door and ran out into the night.  Jaime cursed as he realized he was about to run out into a chilled winter night with no boots on his feet. He paused and stood at the door, amazingly Brienne was dragging the boy back towards him. The young man was swinging at her attempting to fight back.  He was strong too by the looks of it.  Jaime glanced up at the window to his room, the shutters were open.  Dear Gods she jumped out the window! 

“Stop!” Brienne yelled as she ducked another attempted blow. “We aren’t going to hurt you,”

Jaime stepped in and helped Brienne wrestle the boy back inside.

This evening was not as promising as it had started.

Chapter Text

They had spent nearly the whole evening speaking with Gendry.  It had taken some time to convince him that Jaime Lannister was not there to fulfill the Queen’s orders of killing Robert’s bastards.  

The three of them sat in the dim inn at a single table, cups of watery ale set before them, every once in awhile Brienne would spy a little face peeking out from behind a door.  She felt sorry for these poor orphans, they seemed more curious than frightened by the evening’s commotions.  She supposed they had seen much worse in their little lives during this war, much worse than a giant woman and a one handed man wrestling a budding young hedge knight back into an inn.

Gendry had put up terrific fight; he was deceptively strong for his age.  It had taken all of Brienne’s strength to hold him steady, she was sure he would have slipped away if not for Jaime’s assistance.  Sipping at the terrible ale, she admired Gendry’s familiar features, he reminded her so much of Renly. Renly who she had feared was fading from her memory.  She had to admit there was a fondness thinking of him, but that was all. Her heart did not stir at the thought of him like it once had, but he was good and kind to her, he would have made a lovely king, and his death would be answered for, but first she needed to settle this matter of the Stark girls. Now with Jaime beside her, it seemed possible.

Brienne’s eyes shifted from Gendry to Jaime, as they seemed prone to do, she had a hard time not looking at Jaime despite her best efforts. He looked up at her, a flash of green with a glint of mischief, the delightful smirk that came a little too naturally to his face, the way he licked his lips before he spoke. She still couldn’t believe it was those lips that had been against her skin in the rooms above them, she had to steady her mind from distraction, she blushed realizing how miserably she was failing, remembering herself she continued questioning Gendry.

“Arya escaped the city with you didn’t she?”

“I didn’t know she was a Stark at the time,” Gendry replied.  “She looked like a small boy, being sent to the wall with the rest of us”.

“Brienne, how the hells could you know this?” Jaime asked.

Brienne had been piecing together the scant amount of information she had been gathering around the Riverlands.  Her time on the Quiet Isle had given her valuable information about Arya Stark being alive, it was a desperate stab in the dark hoping this Renly-look-alike... no Robert-look-alike would know where she was. The timing of the Stark girl’s disappearance lined up with the now infamous killing of Robert’s bastards.

“If you were a small girl trying to escape a city, what better way than to disguise yourself as a boy?” She knew better than most the advantages of being mistaken for a male when necessary. 

Gendry seemed a little more at ease, but there was a hint of anger still present. “You’d be better off going after the other one.  I hear Arya’s married to a Bolton bastard; I’ve been hearing other things too...” Gendry had a dark look about him.

“That is not Arya Stark,” Jaime chimed in.  “She is a ruse, courtesy of Little Finger.  An attempt to quell future uprisings in the north”. Brienne nodded, remembering the information Jaime shared with her before departing for the Riverlands. Gods that seems like years ago...

Gendry seemed to be surprised, and happy at that news, his bright eyes practically shining with relief.  It was obvious he genuinely cared for the youngest Stark daughter.

Little Finger.  He seems to be the common thread. Brienne was becoming more and more certain that Arya was at least alive, but she was becoming more certain that Sansa was with this Little Finger.

Jaime must have been thinking the same thing as he sighed. “I suppose we’re mountain climbing.”

Chapter Text

“So you’re just going to forget about Arya?” Gendry was annoyed.

“Absolutely not.”  Brienne said.  “We have to move on what is more certain.”

“Sounds to me like the younger Stark girl is quite capable, she’ll have to be capable for a little while longer”, added Jaime.

“I ‘spose I could look for her,” Gendry had a new hope in his eyes upon realizing Arya might not be with the monster Ramsay Snow.

“Gendry, I think you need to stay here.  These children need protection.” Brienne looked at Gendry with imploring eyes.  

“Take this,” Jaime set a large sack of coins on the table.  “For whatever they may need,”  

“Gods!”  Willow exclaimed, she had approached the table and picked up the sack. “I’ve never seen so much gold!” Willow looked dazed. Not many common folk would have seen that much gold.  Brienne would have to caution the girl before they left. Without warning she flung her arms around Jaime’s neck.  “Thank-you ser! Thank-you!”

Brienne couldn’t help but allow a small smile; Jaime seemed stunned, half-heartedly patting the girl on the back.

“I have one favor to ask.”  Brienne looked at Gendry. “Tell Lady Cat... Stoneheart that we have not given up on her daughters,” Brienne was uncertain what she would do if she ever did find the girls, but she was hoping that if Stoneheart and her Brothers was aware of their plans, as unlikely as it may seem, she just might let them be.  She had to try.

Gendry nodded.

Brienne and Jaime made their way to their rooms.  They briefly paused at their doors to steal a glance at each other.  A slight nod and they stepped inside their own respective rooms.  An silent acknowledgement to ignore what had transpired earlier, a fleeting bit of madness to not be spoken of again.

Brienne lay back on her bed, her mind a swirl of emotions and thoughts.  Not just about Sansa and Arya Stark, but also about Jaime.  What possessed him? What possessed me?  She couldn’t believe she had been so brazen as to kiss him back. She should have smacked him, like a good noble lady,  but she didn’t... She was embarrassed by the realization she hadn’t wanted to dissuade Jaime. He said he wanted me?  Brienne could feel the pace of her heart quickening, just thinking about him made her hot and breathe irregular. How can I travel with him now? She closed her eyes and after what seemed like hours finally drifted to sleep.

 

She was on a mountain, the winds whipped at her hair; her back was pressed against a rock.  Above her three great birds flew, screeching horribly.  A mountain lion was on a ledge several feet high.  The animal aptly and gracefully jumped down to Brienne.  Its eyes glistened green.  The lion pounced at her ripping at her throat, tearing her to shreds.

A knock awoke her, “Brienne,” Jaime’s voice came from behind the door. “It’s time we made off.”

 

They left the inn, Gendry and the children behind them.  Brienne was feeling a renewed sense of purpose as she saddled her horse. She was determined to push her lustful thoughts of Jaime aside, they had a mission to attend to, nothing more. She silently hoped he would have the sense to not make comment about their indiscretions; he had a way of saying shocking things.  Jaime seemed to be in good spirits as he mounted his horse, whistling an unknown tune. Thankfully nothing but his whistles escaped from his lips.

They rode contently, and camped when necessary.  The weather was cold most days, but there had not been any more snow storms. They met few travelers on the road.

One particularly cold night, the bitter winds slashed at their faces, biting into the flesh of their cheeks with a fury.  Brienne had managed to avoid a continuance of the events that took place at the inn several evenings ago; she had made a point to make herself busy whenever they settled, moving away from him if he came too close.  She was sure Jaime was just missing the affections of his sister. Her insecurity as always held her back from pursuing or responding to any of his advances.  The thought of mistaking any kind gesture for a romantic one paralyzed her with fear. She would not allow that kind of humiliation.

One very cold evening Jaime exasperated, “For Gods sake woman, get over here!”

Brienne’s teeth chattered, her body racked with shivers, but she refused to budge and sat stubbornly by the meager fire.

Jaime moved to her. He wrapped his arms around her, pressing his cheek into her neck.  It was so cold that Brienne gasped as his flesh made contact with hers.  With time as their skin touched and the cruel cold abated, suddenly and without warning she could feel the gentle press of his lips on her neck, a light and delicate kiss that warmed Brienne to her core. 

She looked him in the eye, trying to decipher if what was happening was real.

Gods he is perfect. Forgetting herself and all her mental protestations Brienne opened her mouth as he leaned in towards her, their tongues searching for each other. Both wishing it wasn’t so cold to allow for undressing, and more. They slept that night in each other’s arms, warm and comforted.

By the third evening they had reached the mountain pass. They were so close.  Brienne couldn’t shake the feeling of her dream, the landscape they were about to embark on was so eerily familiar.

From the west several riders came carrying the banner of the stag and lion.  “Ser Jaime, we’ve been searching for you.  King Tomen commands your presence back at King’s Landing.” The rider held a scroll with the King’s seal.

Brienne nodded to Jaime, “I can carry on the rest of the way, Ser Jaime.”

“No, I’m not leaving you alone with this again.” Jaime looked every bit the high lord commander as he turned to the King’s men. “I will return once I have found Sansa Stark, and have returned her... to safety.”

“My lord, haven’t you heard?  Sansa has been returned to King’s Landing.”

Chapter Text

“Sansa Stark is to stand trial for the murder of King Joffery, as well as Lord Robert, her cousin.  Seems he died of the same poison.” Jaime looked vexed.

“Ridiculous!”, Brienne exclaimed.

They sat in his tent at camp, mid-way to Kings Landing.  Brienne had initially tried to break off from him.  She had wanted to head back east, to see if she could find more leads on Arya, she trusted Jaime to act on the best intrests of Sansa, but  Jaime had refused.  He seemed to want her close at all times, and requested her presence at all meals. In her heart she loathed the idea of setting out on her own again. 

There was no denying the comforts they were enjoying at camp was an immense improvement to the dried salted fish, stale bread and bedrolls laid over rocky terrain as they had been accustomed to.  They were in the process of breaking their fast on soft bread, oranges, olives and an assortment of meats and cheeses. It was a small glimpse into the life of a Lannister.  This was only his camp tent, Brienne couldn’t begin to imagine the luxuries he had enjoyed growing up at Casterly Rock. She grabbed another slice of orange.  The juices were sweet and tasted of a summer gone by.  Jaime bit into his own orange, the juices dribbling down his freshly shaven chin. She half sighed thinking about how much she would actually prefer the road after all.  The chilled evenings had been miserable, but there were some perks...She knew in her heart her days of curling up with Jaime were through.  He now had all the fur blankets from every beast imaginable in the kingdom to keep him warm at night.

“Brienne, we will put a stop to this, I can reason with Cersei,” Jaime interrupted her thoughts, as she fought away a blush. She really needed to focus.

Her. The Queen.  Cersei.  His twin, his companion, his lover...Brienne did her best to keep her face neutral as he mentioned her name.  She had this queer wrench in her guts, working its way up to her chest.  

“I trust you can.  I need to stretch my legs,” Brienne abruptly left the table.

Jaime looked confused, but did not pursue her. As she left she heard him call out, requesting that she not go too far.

She walked the camp, trying her best to avoid the other soldiers.  It was always a futile effort, being as tall as she was, she elicited stares wherever she went since she was three-and-ten.

“So you think he’s fucking her?” Brienne heard a gruff man ask another, she stopped in her tracks, stood and listened.

“Aye, most likely to keep warm. It's that or the mountain goats,”Another man replied.

“Looking at her, I’d take my chance with the goat,” There was uproarious laughter at that. Brienne turned away from them, striding off in the opposite direction.  There was brief sting of hurt, but as she had done for years, she pushed the pain away deep down inside herself.

Her thoughts turned towards Sansa... If she is truly innocent, surely her innocence will prevail at trial.  As these thoughts came to her she knew how ridiculous they seemed.  Gone were her beliefs in the laws of the kingdom holding true, for white knights to always be victorious, and for the innocent to be protected from harm.  

As she walked the camp she learned more of the events that had taken place.  Lord Petyr Baelish was given the Eyrie in exchange for securing Sansa and arranging her return to King’s Landing. The Tyrells had been vanquished from the capital when it was revealed at trial Margaery was not a maiden, her marriage to Tommen had been annulled, it was rumored that the Tyrells had to pay a vast sum of money in exchange for Margaery to be returned to High Garden.  Cersei now acted again as Queen Regent. Tommen was all that was left of her children.  There had been rumors of two assassination attempts on the young princess Myrcella, it would seem she did not survive the second. Jaime had said she was a sweet girl, but nothing more.  If he was affected by her death, he did not show it.

The sun was rising higher in the sky, they would soon be off, most likely arriving at Kings Landing on the ‘morrow.  Brienne made her way back to her tent, she heard and saw the tell-tale signs of a fight outside Jaime’s.  She rushed to push past the crowd.  “Say it again!” She heard Jaime yell.

“I’m sorry m’lord, ‘twas a joke,” the man blubbered his apology through a hand soaked in blood, it painted his chin and chest, his nose was clearly broken.

Jaime raised his golden hand, pointing it at the man. “If I hear one ill word spoken of Lady Tarth, I will have your tongue ripped out from your disgusting mouth. That goes for everyone!” Jaime's eyes were full of fury, they darted challenging all of them, and then they settled on her.  Brienne looked down and away, her emotions too muddied to comprehend. All the men were now looking at her wide-eyed and confused.  She had never in her life wished she could just sink into the earth more than she did at that moment. Jaime looking a bit perplexed brushed himself off, straightened his jacket and returned to his tent.

The eyes of the other men followed Brienne as she silently walked to her own tent. Inside she buried her face into her hands, calming herself by imaging the blue waters of Tarth.

Chapter Text

The smell of King’s Landing had improved with winter.  As far south as the capital was, it saw mostly hard rains in the early months of winter, the water helped to wash away the waste and filth of the streets. Brienne and Jaime split ways, he back to the White Sword Tower, her to a lavish room in the heart of the Red Keep. Brienne trusted that Jaime had much to do with her accommodations. The rich tapestries, intricately carved furniture and embroidered bedding were sumptuous. In the corner stood a grand bookcase, a collection of tomes nearly as large as her own at Tarth.  Brienne ran her fingers over the spines of the leather bound books, inspecting a few, some she recognized others she did not.  When was the last time I curled up with a book?  She thought mournfully, her heart aching for her own home, and her favorite reading places.

As pleasant as the rooms were she felt confined in its luxury, but she did not dare to venture far, the intrigues and gossip of court felt far more dangerous than the open road.

Fortunately she was not forced into wearing a dress.  Fine tunics and breeches were sent to her, courtesy of Ser Jaime the servant had said as she placed them in Brienne’s room.  The fabric of the tunic was finely woven, a lovely shade of dark blue. The first day she happily stayed within the confines of her room, devouring as many of the books as she could, but she was anxious to use her muscles, and to swing a sword. Whenever a knock came to her door she felt a little thrill at the prospect of it being Jaime, perhaps he would take her to the yard to practice. She always felt the fool when it was another servant carrying a tray of yet another meal she would only half eat. He is Commander of the Kingsguard, he has many duties to attend to… she repeated the thought again and again.

 

The second evening of her stay she was half way through a book of songs when unexpectedly a rap on the door interrupted her. She had been summoned to meet the Queen in her private quarters.  

As Brienne climbed the stairs towards the Queen's room she hoped that Jaime would be present, two members of the Kingsguard stood on each side of the door, dressed in their magnificent golds and whites, Brienne was disappointed that neither of them was Jaime, one guard broke form, opened the door and announced her presence.  The room was aglow with candles, and there was an assortment of delicacies set on the table. 

The Queen sat at the table, beckoning Brienne in.  She was wearing an embroidered gown, her neck adorned with rubies and pearls.  Golden hair cascaded down her back.  Jaime’s twin was the image of song, ones that knights rode to war for.  Brienne wore simple breeches, and a handsome coat, another gift from Jaime.

“Please sit,” The beautiful queen nodded to the chair directly across from her.

Brienne sat graciously, she folded her hands in her lap, back straight and head foreword, she may have been a warrior as of late, but her teachings of how a proper lady sat at a formal table was ingrained deeply. Her stomach was in knots, uncertain of the Queen’s summons. There was no plate or cup set before her; it did not appear she was to be a dinner guest.

The Queen held a chalice in her hands, swirling the contents, she eyed Brienne with consideration.

“So you are the great beauty that has lured my brother into forgetting his senses,” She smiled a smile that did not meet her eyes. “Tell me.  Brienne of Tarth. What is it that you have done to capture the heart of my brother?”

“I’m sorry your Grace, I do not know what you are speaking of,” Brienne felt the knot in her stomach tighten.

“What are your intentions with Jaime?”  The queen sipped her wine, her green unsmiling eyes never leaving Brienne’s.

“I have no intentions with Jaime.”

“So with someone else then? Sansa perhaps?  I’ve heard rumours about you.  Lady Catelyn’s pretender knight, sworn to protect the Stark girls.  That is treason. Sansa is a murderous bitch and betrayer to the crown.  Do you admit to being in leagues with traitors?”

She is like a cat, Brienne thought. 

Brienne considered her words.  “I believe Lady Sansa will be proven innocent,”

“Do You? I sincerely doubt that.” the Queen smiled her false smile again. Brienne’s uneasiness grew with that statement.

Cersei rose from her chair, holding her cup, as she sauntered over to Brienne. She tensed as the Queen made her way behind her chair, placing her hands on Brienne’s shoulders Cersei leaned forward and whispering into her ear, the smell of her breath thick with honeyed wine.  “I don’t’ care how many times he fucked you.  He was always thinking of me you know,” The Queen slowly guided her thumb down Brienne’s ruined cheek as she said her cruel words. For a moment Brienne entertained the idea of grabbing her thumb and breaking it, it would have been like snapping a twig.

The Queen was intending to antagonize her, she was inviting a violent reaction, an excuse to be rid of her, and Brienne couldn’t help but feel an odd sense of satisfaction, knowing that for whatever reason she had managed to rattle the Queen into putting on such a bizarre show.

“I think I will return to my chambers if it pleases your Grace,” Brienne stood, quite done with her games.

“Fine,” The Queen dismissed Brienne with a wave of her hand, a gesture that people used to shoo away a fly.

Brienne was truly flustered as she left the Queen’s chambers.  As much as she was dreading Sansa’s trial, she couldn’t help but wish it would come soon, anxious to have her days at King’s Landing over. Brienne quickened her pace, rounded a corner and collided into Jaime.  

“Brienne.” he seemed stunned to see her. “What are you doing here?”  He was freshly shaven, and wearing his Kingsguard armor, white cloak and all. Despite her anger Brienne couldn’t help but admire the sight of him.

“Excuse me Ser,” Brienne pushed her way past him.

 

“Brienne!”  He called after her.  Brienne kept walking.  So this is where he’s been? Brienne thought bitterly, cursing herself for thinking otherwise. There was no denying the rage and hurt building inside her. She needed to hit something badly.

 

 

Chapter Text

Jaime ran down the steps pursuing Brienne.  He had a good idea as to what had attributed to her foul mood.  Visits with his sister had a tendancy to leave people sour, himself included as of late.  He had managed to avoid Cersei a full day, but when her message came bidding that he visit her, he had reluctantly made the climb to her chambers.  Brienne was the last person he expected to find rushing down the halls.

Jaime grabbed Brienne by the arm, unintentionally tearing her jacket. “Damnit woman, stop.”

Brienne halted. “Do you think I’m an idiot? Some fool?”

“I don’t know what has come over you, but you are acting like a damn fool,” Jaime was thoroughly irritated, “You lock yourself away in your rooms since we’ve arrived, and this is the reception I receive?”

That seemed to stop her in her tracks.  He watched in dismay as the shield came over her eyes, she was mentally protecting herself.  He’d seen her do this many times, blocking herself from any potential hurt. He hated it that she was doing it with him.

“What has come over you?” He asked calmly.

“I apologize Ser Jaime, do enjoy your evening,” Brienne glanced back towards the Queen’s rooms, and then back to him.  Her eyes expressionless, her large lips tightly drawn. He wanted to kiss her then, certain it would provoke an attack, a busted lip would've been preferable to this numb thing she was invoking.

“You're coming with me,”  Jaime grabbed her right arm, dragging her down the stairs away from the Queen's chambers.

“Let go! What are you doing?!” Brienne fought him as they made their way down. It wasn’t until she glimpsed the the welcomed site of the fighting yard that she stopped resisting. There now she’s coming back to me.

Jaime grabbed one of the blunt swords with his left hand, aptly tossing it to Brienne, he selected another for himself, and removed his white cloak.  She was already taking off her jacket, moving her shoulders in circles, stretching her long powerful arms.  The moon was out and almost full, a silvery glow lit the yard.  The air was crisp and from each blade of grass tiny baubles of half-frozen rain drops reflected the light of the moon.  Their breath showed with every exhale.  He was excited to duel her, it would be nice to fight someone who wasn’t Ilyn Payne with his throaty non-laugh of his.

Their swords gently kissed, both testing the feel of their blades. With a nod to each other they silently signaled their readiness.  Brienne struck first, a hard blow to his right, which he barely managed to block.  She must be angry...

Their blades crossed, and crashed again and again.  Jaime was finding he didn’t have to think as much, his movements were coming to him more reflexively, more like when he had fought with his right hand.

They danced in the courtyard for some time, neither able to gain ground on the other. Their grunts, huffs, and pants rising up and bouncing off the walls.

“I think I have you this time my lady,” Jaime smirked, he wasn’t sure why he bothered to antagonize her with words, it never really seemed to work, but old habits died hard. “You know I bested you the last time we fought,”

“I was half dead with fever!” Brienne returned his thrust with a parry.

“Excuses,” He forced her back with three quick strikes.  Her back was almost to the wall, and she lost the ability to swing wide, which was in his favor as he realized he was becoming exhausted from blocking her swings, he would have to try somethign bold if he was to win. Jaime dipped low, sweeping at her feet with his leg, protecting himself with his sword from any downward blows.  Brienne was caught by surprise, and she went down hard.  Jaime stood with his sword at her neck.  “Yeild.”  They were both breathing hard, plumes of their breath rising into the night air.  Brienne was flushed, her eyes sparkled with life again.  Jaime threw his sword down and held out his hand to help her.  

“You are such a cheat,” Brienne said smiling as she took his hand.

“And you are a sore loser, thats twice now by my count.” He grinned knowing he was truly inviting a blow to the face. Instead she gripped his hand hard and yanked him down.  Losing his balance Jaime fell on top of her. Whenever he was with her it always amazed him how his body responded to hers.  Pressed against her like this it reminded him of those cold nights camping near the mountains. “Why have you been avoiding me?” Jaime asked, just now fully realizing how hurt he was.

“Me? Avoiding you? I felt like a fool waiting for you.  I should've known you'd be preoccupied with your sister.”

He simply responded, “No.”

It was true, at one point in time Cersei was his sole obsession, but now that he was back at the capital, and near his sister again, there was only sourness and dread. He was supposed to be with her now... Jaime gently moved a strand of wet hair from Brienne’s forehead. She flinched slightly looking so frightened and uncertain when he did that.  One day she won’t shrink away from me. Jaime promised himself as he leaned in to kiss her, hoping to reassure her of his want.  He smiled as her mouth parted ever so slightly. His lips fell upon her full soft pout, he pressed his tongue forward, parting her lips.  As their tongues met everything ceased to exist, there was only the taste, touch and feel of his Brienne.

Chapter Text

It was late in the evening, nearing morning when Brienne was finally able to see Sansa Stark. Jaime had arranged for her to meet the girl in her rooms where she was being held.  She imagined it had cost him half a fortune to secure the rendezvous.

After their fight in the yard, they had spent quite some time discussing the knights of the Kingsguard, their individual strengths and weaknesses, he had been gathering as much information as he could that could be helpful to her.  Brienne felt a great sense of pride knowing Jaimie believed in her prowess as a swordswoman, he genuinely felt she could take any of them, with his knowledge of how they fought, she had an edge.  Now it was up to her to convince the eldest Stark girl to name her champion, Brienne was hopeful that Sansa would put her trust in her as she was in the service of her mother... a delicate topic she would have to be careful about.

As she made her way to Sansa’s rooms, she counted six guards, a mix of gold cloaks as well as some sell swords.  It was evident the queen did not intend on letting her prize escape her fingers again.

One of the guards opened the door, stepping aside for Brienne to enter. “Be quick.”

The girl sat by a fire, she wore a small cap, blackend locks cascading down her shoulders.  She looked at Brienne, she was young and beautiful, yet so full of sorrow. Brienne could see a resemblance to Lady Catelyn, the thought made her sad.

“Lady Sansa, I am Brienne of Tarth. I swore an oath to your mother to deliver you from King’s Landing,” Brienne had chosen her words carefully, if the girl felt any emotion her face did not show it. Brienne continued, “I implore you to forego a trial at the Queen’s hands, I have great reason to believe it will not be a fair trial,” There was a hint of something  in Lady Sansa’s eyes at that comment, but of what Brienne could not make out.

“Please request a trial by combat, select me as your champion.” Brienne knelt before the girl.

“It does not matter,” Lady Sansa spoke, her voice small.

“I will not fail you my lady, I am a good fighter”. Brienne said earnestly

“My only consolation with whatever happens tomorrow is knowing that soon this life with be done,” Lady Sansa continued to stare into the fire.

Brienne could feel a fire rising up inside of her, she wanted to shake this girl. What did I expect?  She’s lost her father, brothers, betrothed to an rotton King, married to an imp, held hostage by another... I do not blame her for not trusting me.

“Your mother is one of the finest women I’ve ever known, despite all her hardships she never gave up on you or your sister. It is my greatest hope to deliver you from the foul hands of this wretched queen.  You life will be yours, what you choose to do with it when this is all through is up to you.”

“Are you his whore?” Lady Sansa asked finally meeting Brienne’s gaze.

The question hit Brienne like a slap, “No,” Brienne did not avert her eyes from Sansa's.

“How do you know who I am referring to?” Lady Sansa challenged.  Despite herself Brienne flushed, and her eyes looked down to the floor.

“Why should I trust a woman who beds Lannisters?”  

“I have not bedded any man,”  Shocked and outraged by the girls blunt questions, Brienne grit her teeth, determined to carry on with her plea. This is not how she had envisioned this nights conversation going. “Lady Sansa, tomorrow you will need to name a champion.  I hope you can find it in your heart to trust in me.”

“I do not trust in anyone, and you have not seen the Queen’s champion.  You are a dead woman Brienne of Tarth. I am tired.  Please go away.” Lady Sansa turned her gaze back to the fire.  

Brienne left Sansa feeling dejected.  She made her way through the courts and down the halls towards her own rooms. Her meeting with Sansa was unsettling, the girl was like an empty vessel.  You have not seen the Queen’s champion... Jaime had been so confident that Brienne could take any of the Kingsguard in singular combat.  

 

“Brienne!”   Jaime called to her, he walked briskly his white cloak snapping behind him.  “You can’t go through with this.” Concern was etched into his handsome face.

“What?” Brienne asked puzzled.  

“There is another knight I didn’t know about, a Ser Robert Strong, he was named to the Guard when I was out of the city.  There are rumours he does not eat, does not sleep, does not bleed. Brienne I do not like this.”

“Impossible.” She examined his face, he truly believed what he was saying.

“He has decimated any challengers he’s come up against, Cersei names him Tommen’s champion for every trial, she has vanquished every enemy she’s had at court with his sword.  You have to promise me you will not volunteer for this suicide.”

“You know I can’t do that,” Brienne said quietly.

“Damnit Brienne what good will it do to be slaughtered as well? There is always the younger Stark girl.”

Brienne was shocked by his suggestion they forego Sansa's life. “I’d rather die trying than to walk away from here a craven! How can you even ask me to consider walking away?” Brienne hissed.

“I can’t let you do this you stupid stubborn wench!” He was getting angrier as he realized she wasn’t going to budge.

“Some of us don’t forsake our vows as easily,” Brienne regretted the words as soon as they spilled from her mouth.

His eyes reflected his hurt, she had cut him deep with that comment. "I'm sorry," she added, an attempt to soften the sting of her words.

“I’ll have you chained to a wall if I have to... I can’t let you do this, we’ll find another way,” Jaime looked desperately at her, trying to reason. “We can escape with her, tonight.” Brienne could see by the look on his face even he didn’t believe that was possible.

Brienne held her face to his cheek, it was becoming easier and easier to reach out to him.  “I’m sorry Jaime, I have to do this.  You know I do.”

Chapter Text

Brienne gently kissed him on the cheek, smiled shyly, and headed back to her rooms. Jaime stood still his hand pressed to the spot where Brienne's kiss had landed, it was the first time a woman had ever kissed him so tenderly, something about the way she had come to him to deliver the kiss left him feeling warm, and all the more desperate to protect her. He could see that his cautions about Robert Strong were not going to disuade her, Jaime steeled his resolve to try other avenues. Certain she was gone Jaime made the long climb back towards his sisters chambers. Recognizing the guards on duty, he nodded to each, both of whom Brienne could have easily bested in a fair combat. It seemed his sister had other plans... where was was she hiding this mysterious Robert Strong? All he had learned was strange rumors, things that seemed impossible to believe, yet what he did learn set his innards in turmoil.

“You are late,” His sister was reclining in a chair, wearing a golden robe, so finely woven, every curve and bend of her body was clearly outlined. Through the sheerness of the material he could see her breasts and nipples, pink and lovely.  He felt like telling her to cover up.  The thought of what her reaction might be to that made him smile.

“Please share, what is so funny?” The look in her eyes quickly dissipated his smile.  

“I’m sorry sister, I was preoccupied,” Jaime sat down opposite her, helping himself to wine, there was scant left in the pitcher.

“I know what you were preoccupied with dear brother.  I could hear the sows grunts coming up from the yard. Please tell me you were just fighting the beast, or was it more?  Were you fucking her too?  Did you lose your sight along with that hand?”  Jaime gritted his teeth and bit his tongue. She was clearly trying to provoke him.

“I would be careful when criticizing another's choice in supposed bed partners,” Osmond Kettleblack, Lancel, Moonboy...

She grinned that smile at him, almost like there was a bad taste was in her mouth, “Ugly rumours brother.  You should know better than to listen to them.”

“As should you,” Jaime sipped his wine.

That seemed to calm her some.

“I find it hard to ignore rumours that seem to all point true.  I’ve heard you’ve been fucking this woman all over the Riverlands. Even if the rumours aren’t true, and having a good look at her I suspect not.  How can you defend yourself when you are so obviously friendly with an enemy of Tommen?  She is here meaning to rob him of the King’s justice.”

“If Sansa is innocent, the Maid of Tarth will prove victorious,” Jaime said.

“Maid?” Cersei scoffed.

Was she jealous? The thought hadn't occurred to him before.  And without warning her emotions took another erratic turn.

“Do you have any idea the seven hells I’ve been through?” She looked genuinely hurt. “Every street rat in this city leered at my naked body, hurled insults, and other disgusting things,” Despite his anger towards her,  Jaime’s heart softened.  The thought of his beautiful fierce sister humiliated like that.

She continued, “And where were you?  My brother, my champion? Where were you? How could you abandon me?” Jaime felt a pit of guilt building inside him. Suddenly he felt that old familiar need to go to her, to comfort her.

“Were you too frightened? I should be thankful you were so craven that day, if I had you as my champion … well we wouldn’t be sitting here now would we? Thank the Warrior for Ser Robert.” That was what he was waiting for, an opening to ask about this mysterious Robert Strong.

“Who is this knight? Bedding him as well?” Jaime asked, playing the jealous lover. She seemed to enjoy that.

“Ser Robert has been a gift of sorts.” Cersei swirled the wine in her cup.

“I’d very much would like to meet this gift of yours,” Jaime tried not to sound too eager.

“I think not,” Cersei stopped swirling her wine and set her cup on the table.

“As Commander of the Kingsguard, its within my rights to meet this man,” Jaime was tired of playing nice with her.

“This would be true if you were Lord Commander, but I have decided to give that title to Ser Robert. Maybe I'll name you as Tommen's champion, it might be fun to watch you and your beast have at it... although that is ridiculous, you would surely loose. I have half a mind to strip you of your white cloak entirely brother. How could I allow my son to be protected by a cripple?” She sneered at him.

Jaime’s anger boiled over, “Take it, he ripped off his cloak, throwing it on the table, upsetting her cup, the red wine spilling over her lap and the pristine white of the cloak.  I’ll replace it with my Lannister Reds and then drape it over the naked shoulders of Brienne of Tarth” He spit the words out at his sister faster than he could process what he was saying.  

Cersei’s eyes were fire. “Get out!!” She screamed at him. “Get out before I have you killed!”

Jaime marched out of her rooms, unbuckling and discarding his armor as he went.

The sounds of  her screams, and the noise of her hurling objects from within the room chasing him down the hall.


Brienne is going to die, Brienne is going to die...simply because I can’t hold my temper.   His heart and thoughts were racing fast, he felt like such a fool. Brienne is going to die... He leaned with his back against the stone wall, furious and hopeless.  The sun was rising in the east, a servant came and snuffed the last torch in the hall, their time was running out.

Chapter Text

The roar of the crowd was bustling and frantic, as ruthless as the queen regent had been during Tommen’s reign, and the ire it has inspired with the people of Kings Landing, Cersei had at least always managed to put on a good show, the crowds were desperate to watch Ser Robert Strong again. Food and ale carts lined the streets, selling all sorts of fare.

Sansa Stark had elected for a trial by combat, the news travelled quickly through the city like wild fire, she had yet to name her champion, no one could guess who would be stupid enough to volunteer for that task, perhaps some fool who still hoped for a piece of the North.

King Tomen was sitting perched high on the scaffolds, his elegant mother sitting beside him. They were dressed in fine velvets, hers a deep red with white fur trim, he dressed in green, a gold scarf protectively wrapped around his neck. He fiddled at his sleeve with his gloved hand, clearly uninterested in yet another gory battle.  His mother slapped his hand and whispered in his ear.  The boy cast his look downwards, appearing to be ashamed.

Below them in chains stood Lady Sansa.  She wore a simple grey woolen dress, her head in a matching cap, her beautiful face carried the same sad and resigned expression.  Brienne’s hand clutched Oathkeeper as she stared at Lady Sansa, her thoughts willing her to look in her direction. Choose me.

 

Brienne pulled her gaze away from Sansa momentarily to search for Jaime, she expected to find him standing with the other members of the King’s Guard, but instead she found him standing below the scaffolding, he looked as though he hadn't slept at all. As if feeling her eyes on him, he returned her gaze, and then proceeded to make his way towards her.

The queen rose from her chair and the murmur of the crowd quieted, she raised her arm to the opposite gates welcoming to the grounds Tommen’s champion.

Brienne let out a small gasp.  She could never consider herself a giant after seeing this man.  He appeared to have a good two or three feet on her.  Equally giant was the sword he carried, the width of the blade near measured the length of her hand. It must weigh a ton, and if it is heavy as it looks, that means he is strong...

“Brienne,” Jaime had made his way to her side, he was carrying a small bottle with him. She hoped he wasn’t drunk.  She didn’t want her last moments with him to be with an inebriated Jaime. “Take this, he gently handed her the bottle.”

“I do not wish to partake Jaime,” Brienne attempted to hand back the bottle.  

“If things begin to go bad, which I suspect they will...” Jaime was cut off by the queen’s announcement.

“Lady Sansa, you stand here accused of the greatest crime, the death of your King, you have requested a trial by combat, I have found it in my heart to allow you to prove your innocence. Have you chosen your champion?” The queen was failing miserably at hiding her pleasure.

“I have your Grace,” Sansa’s voice did not tremble.

Brienne’s heart raced, she squeezed her sword.

Sansa held her pretty face up and spoke clearly. “I choose Jaime Lanister.” The queen looked as shocked and confused as Brienne felt, the crowd was positively buzzing.

Brienne gathered her wits, “Refuse Jaime, you can refuse,” she managed the words out of her constricting throat. “You are a member of the King’s Guard, you can’t fight against Tommen’s champion.” It was then she realized that he was not in his white armor.  The queen’s face reflected Brianne’s realization,  Cersei looked positively stricken. She still loves him, she will refuse...

When the frenzied whispering and gasps of the crowd died down the queen stood again and rose her chin with resolve.  “So be it.”

The words were barely out of the queen’s mouth when she heard Jaime yell, “I accept!”

Everywhere around her Brienne could hear “The Kingslayer.” She wanted to scream, wanted to cry, wanted to hit them all.  Instead she stood, stone-faced, her heart burning with fear and rage.  This was not how this was supposed to happen... she was going to lose him.

“By the look in your eyes you’re feeling a taste of what I was going through last night, have more faith in me than that wench,”  He said wench with affection.  He is saying his goodbye’s...

“Promise me you’ll stay until this is done, don’t leave me.”  His eyes pleaded with her.

Brienne’s swallowed a sob, her eyes brimming with tears, she forced them away.  “I will be right here Ser Jaime.” She unsheathed Oathkeeper and guided it into his left hand. She wanted to kiss him so badly, the look on his face desperately communicated he wanted to kiss her too, this had to be enough knowing that they wanted each other in the same way.

And then swiftly he was gone, “Remember the baths wench!” Jaime yelled over his shoulder as he made his way to the fighting court.

Brienne pushed her way to the front, dreading what was to happen next.

 

Chapter Text

He held up Oathkeeper before the crowd a dangerously gorgeous black blade of valyrian steel with ripples of red, like veins. He was greeted with a sensational mix of boos, hisses, and jeers, a great number of people could be heard chanting “Kingslayer”. There was usually an abundance of bets being placed, but it was clear to anyone who had seen Robert Strong fight that the odds were stacked against Jaime Lannister, no one wanted to risk their coin on a one-handed Kingslayer, but they would love to watch him die.

 

Jaime didn’t dare look towards his sister, she who had been so quick to send him to his death.  He made a great attempt in avoiding glancing towards where he had left Brienne, he didn’t think he could stand to see that pained expression those eyes again, he had said what he needed her to do, he would have to trust that she would do what was necessary, and she was easy to trust.  

 

Armor was brought to him and as he suited up, he enjoyed the fantastic waves of excitement coursing through his body at the thought of entering a battle arena again, it had been too long. He had resigned himself into knowing that this was most likely his last battle, by Gods I'm going to give them a show.  Let them see the left handed Kingslayer!

 

Jaime eyed his opponent as the straps of his armor were tightened. “Bring me a heavy shield, a very heavy shield.” Robert Strong’s torso looked like a tree trunk.  Jaime hoped he moved like one...

Fully suited, Jaime entered the battleground and approached his massive opponent. His plan was to dodge and parry as many blows he could, borrowing from Brienne’s strategy, the hope was to tire his opponent enough to land a few strikes of his own. The rumors were that the man never tired, Jaime sincerely hoped those rumors were exaggerations.  The rumors also said Ser Robert Strong did not bleed, and that seemed ludicrous.

Robert Strong's large hulking frame moved forward, raising his monstrously gigantic blade the dark knight attacked first, a mighty swing that Jaime barely managed to dodge, a blow that was surprisingly quick. Strong’s sword missed Jaime by an inch and bit into the dirt, Robert pulled his blade out of the earth before Jaime could deliver a strike of his own. Gods he is faster than I’d hoped.

They repeated this dance, Jaime barely dodging each thunderous blow, and only occasionally managing to land strikes upon Strong’s person, blows the dark knight seemed not to be affected by.   Instead of exhausting his opponent Jamie was realizing he was the one tiring.

Another swing came hard towards Jaime, this time Strong’s attack bit into the ground a deeper, his blade wedged into the earth, Robert bent down to pull his sword out of the ground while Jaime with incredible speed and accuracy swung towards the unarmored exposed sliver of the monsters neck.  The precise deliverance of Jaime’s blade decapitated Strong, the sound of his head rolled into the crowd, clanging in its helmet. Oathkeeper had cut through the beasts flesh like a silken scarf.

A mighty roar erupted for his victory; Jaime grinned and yelled in triumph holding his sword and shield in the air. He looked desperately for Brienne, the maid was easy to spot, tall and homely, she looked physically stunned, beautiful big blue eyes brimmed with tears, and breathing almost as heavy as Jaime. The Lady Sansa blinked in disbelief; Cersei remained in her seat surprisingly unmoved, well at least Little Tommen seems happy, the little king stood on his chair clapping excitedly. A gasp emerged from the crowd.  Jaime turned to see what had elicited that reaction, unbelievably the beheaded body of Strong lifted itself from the dirt and charged clumsily at him sword in hand.  Jaime managed to bring his blade up in time to parry a blow, but his grip was not prepared for the attack.  Oathkeeper flew from his hand arching high in the air, heading in the direction of the stands.

He heard a blood curdling scream in the distance, but could not look, his sole focus never deviating from the monsters unrelenting attacks, and blocking the strikes with his shield.  The headless creature was swinging with a forceful vigor. Jaime's shield cracked with each connection he was amazed they shield hadn’t yet splintered.

Without warning there was an incredible burst of heat, followed by a quick flash of green and then the familiar smell of burning hair and flesh. Gods she took long enough...

The green flames engulfed Robert Strong and yet he continued to walk upright unrelentingly towards Jaime.  The monster was decapitated and lit aflame yet Jaime was still forced to dodge the occasional swings. Robert Strong did not yell or scream; only the sounds of audible hiss came from the dark knight as he cooked in his armor, and then finally after a few terrible minutes the monster collapsed in a heap.

When it was over Jaime did not stand triumphantly before the crowds seeking cheers, too stunned and exhausted he slunk down to the ground.  Brienne was the first to come to him; she forced him to his feet.  “Move!” She amazingly had Sansa Stark with her.  

Looking about he realized the pandemonium of the crowd wasn’t for him and his victory....

“The King is dead! The King is dead!”  Women, men, children, they were all crying, “The King is dead!”

 

Chapter Text

 

It was insanity to think they could get very far, but she had to try, it was too maddening to have their quest end in the frenzied streets of Kingslanding.  Using the advantage of the complete chaos that had ensued at the battlegrounds, Brienne attempted to pull a half-stunned and exhausted Jaime and Sansa along with her. People were clamoring to get to the scene of where Tommen had been killed, to catch a glimpse of the distraught Queen.  The look of horror on Cersei’s face as she screamed in agony over the loss of her last child had been terrible. A truly awful sight, Oathkeeper flung from Jaime’s hand had gone straight through Tommen’s chest and pinned the poor boy to his chair. Too consumed with the death of the little King, no one paid attention to Brienne as she freed Sansa and then made her way towards Jaime.  

 

Her nerves were frayed from the mix of emotions she had experienced at the battle ground, she breathed in steadily, forcing herself to focus on what needed to be done,  she couldn’t imagine what Jaime was going through.  He had been so brilliant, Brienne thought, her heart swelling up with pride.  She thought she was going to squeal like some idiot girl when the head of that monster knight fell from its shoulders, and then came the horror of his reanimated corpse.

She had been clutching the bottle Jaime had given her throughout the battle she had quite forgotten about the flask gripped in her hands, too consumed with the peril Jaime had been in, Remember the baths, he had said... and when she had realized what he had given her, she knew she had to act quickly. Wildfire! He had brought it for her to use.  What was he thinking? His desperation to save her from an uneven match had proven useful, only he couldn’t have thrown it himself, he had counted on her to do the dishonorable thing, to light his opponent on fire.  Brienne felt not one ounce of remorse.

 

Brienne continued to punch, push and shove her way through the crowd. They turned onto a smaller and quieter alley with many doors leading to small households, an old man stood in his doorway, broom in hand. Brienne pushed the man back into his home, he yelled, but was weak and easily moved. Once inside she spied an elderly woman stoking a fire, preparing their midday meal.  It was a small and meager house, but it was away from the main streets, and would allow them a moment to regroup and form a plan of escape.

 

The sounds outside in the streets were getting louder, a thunder of shouts, screams, and skirmishes spreading as word traveled from household to household about Tommen’s death.  The city sounded as if it was going to tear itself apart.

Sansa was the first to speak, “We cannot stay here.” She said her words calmly and matter-of-factly.

“No, we can’t.”  Brienne looked to the elderly man whose home they had invaded.  “We need horses, and we need a change of clothes for all of us, mens clothing with helms”.  She threw him a sack full of coins.

The man looked inside the purse and exclaimed, “By the Seven,”

That was a good sign... but she couldn’t take any chances.

“If you betray our presence here to anyone," Brienne paused. "I will cut your wifes throat.” She hated the words as they left her mouth.

The man pleaded as he made his way out of the house terrified, Sansa attempted to calm the sobbing woman.

 

The bells came then, each clang announcing the King’s death.  Jaime sat in a chair, still looking dazed, he mumbled,  “I should go to her, she’ll need me,”

Brienne swallowed a bitter mix of annoyance, sorrow, and jealousy.  She didn’t know what would meet Jaime if he managed to make it back to the Red Keep.  His sister in her grief might blame him for Tommen’s death, and she wasn’t confident that whatever they had once would save him from her wrath. Cersei had already resigned herself to sending him to what she thought was a sure death once today, she had to be bold and make a plea.  Gathering up her courage Brienne knelt down, grabbing his face gently in her hand, guiding his gaze to her own.  “Jaime you cannot go back there,  we can’t get out of here without you.  Your time there is done. Please.  I need you.”

He stared at her, his mind working trying to comprehend what she was saying, and what he should do.

Finally he spoke. “We need to go to Casterly Rock,”

 

Lady Sansa still holding the elderly woman stood stone-faced staring at them, Brienne could see the betrayal in Lady Sansa’s eyes. Gods she thinks we are like the rest of them... Brienne knew that Jaime was right, to try and flee North immediately would be fraught with hazards, everyone would suspect it.  In the west they could regroup, they would have the time to tell the poor girl about her mother, to be in a safe place to help her recover from that news. Although how one recovered from that sort of news Brienne did not know.

The old man returned with the items she had requested, plain mens garb, helms, a sword and a dagger.  

“I’m sorry I couldn’t secure horses, the streets are filled with people, it is pure madness out there. “  The man looked frazzled and weary.  Brienne felt sorrow for scaring him and his poor wife.  She forced herself to push those thoughts away and selected clothing to change into.  For once she was thankful for the cold weather, they were able to wear scarves to help hide their faces.  Sansa had thrown her hair back into a ponytail, and covered her face in soot, but it did not help much, she still looked a little lady dressed in men's clothing, but it was going to have to suffice.

Outside was utter chaos.  A multitude of fights were breaking out, they couldn’t walk more than five paces without having to dodge another skirmish.  Women were being attacked in the streets, homes were being sacked, and fires were breaking out, several plumes of smoke could be seen rising from all sides. Brienne held her dagger ready, a smaller blade would be much more useful in this crowd.  As they progressed slowly towards King’s Gate she was forced to make to use of the blade, several times.  Brienne was grateful that Jaime had managed to come to his senses, he guided them forward, she could never have navigated these streets without him.  They reached the gates only to be greeted by the sound of the chains pulling them closed.

“What madness is this?”  Brienne couldn’t believe that someone would give the order to close the gates to the city, hundreds were trying to flee the carnage inside, and Brienne was sure hundreds more were at each gate.

“There!”  Jaime could see the guards who were pulling the chains to close the gates, four on each side, with three armed men on the stairs repelling any common folk who came too close.  

“Stand to the wall Sansa, stab anyone who comes near you.”  Brienne thrust the dagger in Sansa’s hand and pushed her back to the wall.  Jaime and Brienne made quick eye contact, without a word they set out to do what had to be done.  If they didn’t kill these guards, they would be trapped in the burning city, along with the innocents who were desperately trying to escape.

 

Chapter Text

Leaving Sansa against the wall, Brienne pushed and shoved the frantic people aside as she made her way towards the guards stationed at the gates. There were a few posted on the stairs leading to the top of the balcony as well as four more positioned at the chains.  Brienne unsheathed her sword as she climbed the left stair; Jaime climbed the stairs on the right, knocking one of the guards down as he came to meet him, managing to wrestle his blade away he proceeded to climb the stairs.  The plan was to meet in the middle atop of the gates; they needed to pull the chains to open the doors.

Brienne made easy work of the first guard to come at her, delivering a blow to his guts, he curled over as she threw him to the side, he screamed as he tumbled into the frenzy below.  The second guard put up more of a fight, their swords met, Brienne put all her strength into the pushing him away from her, as he stumbled back she swung fiercely forcing him back further yet, losing his balance his steps faltered and fell back.  Taking the opportunity presented to her Brienne finished him, opening his throat in a gory mess that made a scene on the wall.

 Jaime had finished off his guards, leaving only the four remaining at the chains.  Brienne wished she had more time to enjoy the thrill of fighting alongside Jaime, but the crowd below was growing thicker, people were screaming as they were being crushed. They needed to make quick work of these men.  Steel clashed furiously at the top of the balcony, Jaime and Brienne delivered quick clean deaths to the guards hastily.

Their efforts did not go unnoticed as several men emerged from the crowd to assist them in pulling the chains. Jaime shrank away from the work as they pulled on the chains.  He wasn't going to be much help in this endeavour; Brienne’s heart sympathized with him as she studied the bitterness crossing his face.  Blessedly the gates opened allowing the frantic people to escape; Brienne took a moment to survey the scene of the city behind her.  There were hordes of people crushing each other, funnelling their way into the narrow passages of the streets.  Brienne looked to her left, to Lion’s Gate in the far distance, it too had been shut, and she could see there was a vast crowd gathered there as well.  The thick plumes of smoke had increased throughout the city; she looked up to the dark sky and prayed for another rain.

“The Stark girl!”  Jaime pointed to Sansa.

Sansa was holding two men at bay with her dagger, a warning glare etched on her pretty face, the men did not look all that intimidated.  Jaime bounded down the stairs, with more grace than Brienne could ever hope for. Despite the crowd he managed to make his way to the scene quickly, stabbing one man through the torso, and slitting the throat of the other.  

Sansa stood wide eyed, not believing who her rescuer was. Jaime encircled his right arm around the girls and pulled her back towards Brienne and the gate. The three of them flowed out of the city along with the other poor people who were desperately trying to escape.

 

They had walked for hours, the masses of common folk thinned as they travelled.  The down pour Brienne had prayed for came, cold and brief rains, but welcomed, she hoped they would help put the fires out at King’s Landing.  Eventually they met some men willing to sell their horses, and a few provisions for an exorbitant rate, in a matter of a few days they would be at Casterly Rock and their diminishing purse would be of little concern.  

They travelled until dusk, moving away from the road they made camp for the coming night, it was chilly, but not as cold as it had been near the mountains.  Jaime took the horses to drink as Brienne prepared camp, making a fire and laying out their blankets for the evening, Sansa sat silently eating a meagre amount of stale bread and cheese.  The poor girl had said nothing since their harrowing escape from the capital. She looked like she was going to pass out as she chewed. Brienne left the dagger with her, instructing her to call out if any one approached, Sansa nodded mutely, Brienne left her to search for Jaime.

She found him under a tree, he had removed his golden hand and was examining the stump, his skin looked raw from the wear of the days fighting.  His expression was distant, like he was replaying the strange events of the day over again in his mind.

How could one day hold so many hours?  Brienne thought feeling the exhaustion settle in her bones, her heart ached for what Jamie must be going through, she wanted to comfort him, but thought it was best to leave him be. She turned to return to the camp when in the darkness he called for her.

“Brienne?” His head was bent down, his eyes unmoving from his severed hand. She started back to him, closing the distance between them.  Kneeling down without fear or hesitation Brienne gathered him into her arms.  She held him close, his sorrow muffled in her embrace.  When he calmed she helped him up, they didn’t say a word to each other and headed back to the warmth of the fire.  

Lady Sansa was where Brienne had left her, but now sleeping upright and still clutching the hilt of the dagger.

“I have first watch,” Brienne covered Lady Sansa with a blanket, the girl didn’t stir.

Jaime without argument lay down beside the fire; it did not take long for him to drift away. Brienne never taking her eyes off of him watched him sleep.  She didn’t know what was to happen in the coming days ahead, but she knew he needed her, and she was determined to be his armour until he needed her no more.

Chapter Text

It had been years since he had come home to Casterly Rock, since he was a boy he knew that it was all promised to him, the castle, the lands, and everything with it, but he truly never cared.  He was the golden boy, privileged, wealthy, every need and whim was catered to, and he had purposefully run away from it all.  

 

Long ago he had resigned himself with the fact that he was never going to be the Lord of Casterly Rock, he had welcomed the notion, some semblance of control of his own life. True he had in large part forsaken his claim for his obsessive love of Cersei, but there had been that youthful longing to be admired for his deeds like the heroes in the songs, and not just for his famous name.  

 

The moment he donned the white cloak, and his years at war had shown him the ugliness of the world outside Casterly Rock, had seen the misery of the small folk who hadn’t had the great luck of being born into nobility. Brienne had opened his eyes to many things he had thought he had left behind.

 

The thought of who he was in others eyes had always been a point of contention between he and his father.

 

Lions do not concern themselves with the opinions of sheep,.. or something to that effect.  It was easy enough for Tywin Lannister to hold this line of reasoning, he was never known as the Kingslayer.

It felt strange to be sitting at his father's stately oak desk, performing the duties he had spent years running away from.  At the desk he was surrounded by copious amounts of scrolls and papers.  There were so many letters to answer, and so many debts to settle.  

Where in the blazes is she? Jaime thought, anxious to get this part of his day over with so he could get to the yard and spar with Brienne.

She had helped him through the most trying moments of his life, first with the loss of his sword hand and then with the death of Tommen.  He had blamed himself for weeks for the boy’s death, but she stubbornly refused to let him wallow in guilt.  She was a constant friend and companion, pulling him out of the darkness; she had helped him see that though he didn't have pages to fill in the white book he could still be the author of his own life.

In more practical ways Jaime had also been depending on Brienne to write his correspondences for him.  They had been at Casterly Rock for months, and Westeros was still reeling from the events at King’s Landing. He was attempting to maintain calm at least within his own lands. It was early in the winter yet, and gold still carried weight and the Rock had plenty of it.  Jaime knew that if the winter was to persist as long as many had predicted the value of gold would diminish with each passing year.  He was purchasing as much preservable foods as he could, salted fish from the Riverlands, dried fruits from the southern lands, and as much flour as he could find everywhere else.  

 

Brienne finally entered the study; she was dressed in fitted leather breeches and tunic. Having something custom tailored for her really did wonders. Jaime couldn’t help but admire her long legs as she made her way towards him.  She nodded as she sat in the chair opposite to him.

“My Lord.” the corner of her mouth lifted as she greeted him.  She is becoming more and more comfortable here, if I didn't know any better I think she was teasing me. The thought pleased him.

She picked up her pen and prepared a scroll.  “So who is first?”

It had become routine for them to sit across from each other at his father’s desk, he dictate, and she write.  They would spend a few hours in the morning sorting out what messes they could... and there were plenty.  

There had been so many disturbing rumours throughout Westeros, miraculously his sister had somehow managed to maintain control of the throne, but near every lord in the kingdom was threatening to rise up against her. Bandits were running amuck in the Riverlands, and there were strange and disturbing tales from North, not to mention the rumours about a Targaryen Princess with an army accompanied by several dragons.  The number of dragons varied depending on the week.

Jaime reluctantly handed Brienne the scroll he’d been holding on to since it arrived in the morning.  The sigil of her house stamped in blue wax. Brienne’s eyes sparkled at the site of it. 

 

So she is homesick...

Her long elegant fingers unrolled the scroll, as she read the words her smile disappeared, her face turned pale.  

“Is it news of your father?”  Jaime was certain the look on her face could only mean one thing.

She shook her head, stood up and walked towards the window, crumpling the paper in her fist. “He promised,” Her voice was tight and shaky.

“What is it?” Jaime asked.

“He is requesting I return immediately. He has betrothed me to Hyle Hunt.” She could barely get out the words.

Jaime felt his stomach drop; his heart pounded furiously, and he gritted his teeth.

Brienne turned to look at him her brows furrowed a mix of sadness and anger.

“You will not return to Tarth, because you are going to marry me.”

 

“Is that a demand or proposal?” Brienne asked shocked.

“Perhaps both.”  Jaime had felt something shift inside of him weeks ago, maybe more, but now the thought of losing her to someone else stirred his fires. She is mine.  I will throw her on top of these scrolls and take her maidenhead on this very table if that is what will destroy this betrothal.  

 

He stood and made his way to her, prepared to take her, he was determined to be as convincing as he could.  He felt she wanted him as badly as he wanted her, and if she didn’t he would change her mind. They had both been insufferably honourable in not letting their advances go too far, it had been a torturous last few months.  

 

This could be the excuse we’ve needed.  Jaime grabbed Brienne gently putting his arms around her waist. Her eyes met his, he could see the longing there.  He moved in towards her, she shyly moved her head to the side to avert from his gaze, he took the opportunity to land soft kisses at her neck. Slow and gentle kisses that quickly progressed; he licked and bit at her neck, revelling in every moan and gasp that escaped her plump lips.  He grabbed her chin and continued to kiss her full one the mouth, enjoying the sensation of her willingness to return his passionate kisses, their tongues darting in and out to meet each others.  He pushed her towards the desk, pulling her leg up, and pushing her down onto its surface, she sat with her legs slightly apart as he moved in closer, cursing her affinity for breeches, wishing he had a skirt to hoist up to her thighs instead. She pulled him in closer and removed his tunic, gently rolling up the sides and pushing it over his head; she worked her fingers over his stomach and chest, her fingers and hands caressing him. He mentally willed her touches to go lower.

 

Jaime leaned onto Brienne, holding her in his arms as he pushed her back onto the desk continuing to land kisses on her mouth and neck.  With his left hand he began to unlace her tunic, delighting in the softness of her skin.  He was positively throbbing and ready to do what he had been aching to for months.

Her eyes were shut, head back, her lips silently pleading with him to continue. She opened her eyes to look at him, confused as to why he had paused.

 

“Not like this.”

 

“Jaime?”  Brienne looked up at him, her gorgeous blue eyes puzzled.

“You are going to be my wife.  I want to do everything right by you.” Jaime half cursed himself as he pulled away from her.  He picked up his tunic off the floor and attempted to calm his breathing.

 

Brienne was quiet as she began to lace up, her face was down and he couldn’t read her expression.

Gods I hope I haven’t hurt her... He thought mournfully.

When finished she looked up at him her face was flushed with her want, and a slight grin, “To the yards then?”

Chapter Text

Brienne had written to her father that morning announcing her betrothal to Jaime.  She could not marry Hunt. Hyle Hunt was never the worst of them, he was very matter of fact in his proposals, and he never made a play at her emotions, which she found more palatable than the others.

How he had survived Lady Stoneheart’s gallows she didn’t know, she did not mind admitting there was relief knowing he was alive. It was curious that he had travelled to Tarth and had the gall to request her hand directly from her father. Perhaps it was a plea on her father’s part for her to return home, it had been too long since she had looked upon his face.  She hoped he would make the effort to visit her for the wedding. Brienne bit her lip, an attempt to stifle the grin coming to her face.  She had never truly thought she would marry, had purposely gone years parrying proposals, and now he heart fluttered whenever she thought of Jaime and becoming his wife.  He knew who she was, and he welcomed it.

They had both been too excited to focus on the tedious scrolls after the events of the morning.  She sent her note of refusal on the wings of a raven, off to Tarth, and they made their way to the yards, sparring until mid-day.

They both desperately needed to exert themselves and fought with a mixture of fervour and playfulness. Jaime shamelessly teasing and joking in between blows, and Brienne found herself laughing barely managing to block, a cheap tactic of his that usually had no effect, but her mood was a happy one after the morning’s events.  Brienne knew they must have made a giddy sight to the spectators that gathered to watch.

During her time at Casterly Rock Brienne recognized that Jaime’s servants and attendees where no different than all the others she had encountered in her life, they looked at her strangely, and made no efforts to befriend her.  There had been many occasions when she would enter a room and women who had been chirping and giggling would become tight lipped once they saw her.  They probably couldn’t fathom their gorgeous Jaime Lannister with this large, muscular, and disfigured woman.  When Brienne was with him, especially when they were sparring she thought little of her appearance; her work with the sword had always been a relief, something she was good at, something no one could deny.  Hurtful words and strange glances from looker-on’s obliviated by the sounds of their clashing swords.

When they had finished their sparring, they were covered in sweat grinning and breathing heavy. He surprised her suddenly with a kiss, full and passionate upon her lips. When he released her, he winked, turned on his heel and left her stupefied and standing in the yard. Brienne stood blushing; he had never been so brazen to show his affections for her in such a public manner.  She reluctantly gave a brief glance to those who had been watching their sparring. An assortment of reactions met her, some with knowing smiles; others surprised and lifted eyebrows, even a few expressions of jealousy from some of the other women. Brienne gulped, put her head down, moved a hand through her hair and quickened her pace back to her quarters.  The spectators silently watched her as she hurried away.

Brienne made her way to her room and shut the door behind her, thankful for the heavy weight of the wood against her back.  Brienne made her way to the large basin in her room; she was drenched in sweat from her session with Jaime in the yard and needed to change. With each article of clothing she removed she discovered a bruise or mark, reminders of her fights in the yard with Jaime, she smiled as the tips of her fingers lightly touched one yellowing bruise at her ribs, he had pushed into her hard and she had answered with a head butt, when he stumbled back she had taken the opportunity to best him, holding her blade to his throat and demanded he yield.  He had done so with a reluctant smile, dropping his sword and holding his hand to his temple where their heads had collided. She had seen the blood falling from his forehead and dropped her sword, ripping at her tunic to make a bandage. 

Most days she was the victor in their spars, but he was steadily narrowing her victories, soon they would be evenly matched, and then Brienne wasn’t certain she could beat him if he kept up his rate of progression. 

Once washed and changed Brienne made her way to the library where she knew Lady Sansa would be absorbed.  The little lady often spent the majority of her days in the impressive Lannister library.  Brienne would never say that Lady Sansa seemed happy, but she did seem much more content in the last few weeks.  Sharing the tale of her mother’s fate had been extremely difficult, but if there was any saving grace to Jaime’s combat with Robert Strong it was that such a thing could be possible.  That her poor dead mother could be reanimated, that their story could hold some truth.  For the weeks that followed Lady Sansa had taken all her meals in her room, eventually as time wore on she made her way out and found the library.  It was there that Brienne found her sitting in a chair, her legs curled up beneath her a large tome spread over her lap.

“A book of hero’s legends, My Lady?”  Brienne asked.

Sansa looked up from her book and then back down again.  “No, I don’t care much for those anymore.  This one is about useful healing herbs and plants.”  It sounded very dull to Brienne, but she was glad Sansa was not alone in her room. 

They had mutually decided that it was best for Sansa to stay at Casterly Rock until the North had calmed some, there were too many unknown dangers and risks, and the sad truth was Lady Sansa didn’t really have anywhere else to go.  Word had spread of Jaime’s victory at King’s Landing over the Queen’s champion and it had given them both hope that it would help to quell Stoneheart’s anger, and any planned retribution.  Casterly Rock was most certainly the safest place for them all, and although it was easy to forget, she was Tyrion’s wife, this home was hers as well.  No one had heard from Jaime’s brother, no one knew if he was alive or dead.  Sansa did not seem to be concerned either way.

“I came to share news with you, I hope you will be happy for me,” Brienne interrupted Sansa’s reading.

The girl looked up impassively.

“Jaime and I have decided to wed.” Brienne bit her lip again to keep that foolish grin from setting upon her face. She needn’t have tried so hard, the words that fell from Sansa’s mouth aptly wiped it away.

“So I suppose the rumours weren’t completely unfounded?”  Sansa looked back down at her book, turning a page. “Is that all?”

Brienne wasn’t sure what she had been expecting by sharing this news with Sansa.  The girl barely spoke unless asked a question, and when she did speak it was always direct, like she was trying to get the conversation over as quickly as possible.  Brienne had a realization that this is probably how most people perceived her. Her words too were always curt, mostly because she was too afraid of being hurt in some way over her own awkwardness.  It was strange to think that this beautiful girl could ever feel the same as Brienne, they had both experienced more than their share of pain and hurt.

Brienne stood to leave, feeling helpless and not confident in her abilities to stitch together the necessary words of kindness to reach out to the girl. A sudden impulse stopped her from leaving the room.  Brienne turned and knelt at Sansa’s chair, the girl looked up shocked.

“What are you doing?” Her brow furrowed in confusion.

“Sansa I’m sorry for all your hardships, I’m sorry for what happened to your family.  To live through this much loss and pain is unjust, and unfair.  You most certainly did not deserve this, and I think it must be incredibly cruel to now live under the roof of the family who wrought this misery down upon your head.  I am sorry for that.”  Brienne looked at the girl the entire time she spoke, hoping her eyes would convey her sincerity.  Without warning the girl’s face crumpled and a few silent tears came upon her cheeks, a small cry escaped her mouth.  Brienne grabbed her and hugged her close, Sansa’s sobbing body convulsing against her.

Brienne held the girl for some time, and when she looked Jaime was standing at the door, his expression she could not read.

Chapter Text

“There was another scroll, we need to speak.”  Jaime stood at the door.

Brienne squinted her eyes in disbelief, she recognized the seal instantly, it was the royal seal of King Tommen.

Brienne followed Jaime out of the library giving Sansa’s hand a gentle squeeze as she left.

 

Jaime and Brienne walked down the great hall and once they were well away he stopped at a small window, he was still tightly clutching the scroll.

“She is demanding my presence at court.” Jaime gazed out the window toward the east. Towards the capital, towards his sister…

 

“She said ‘my crimes will be forgiven if I return to my station as Commander of Kingsguard’.”

 

Brienne wanted to plead with him... No! Please no!, but instead she bit her lip, and kept silent.

 

“I’m not going,” Jaime stated, as he crumpled the scroll in his fist.

Brienne exhaled, not realizing she was holding her breath.

“She will not like my refusal, my sister does not take ‘no’ well.” Jaime turned to Brienne, he pulled her towards him, like he was trying to protect her from some invisible foe, Brienne leaned into his embrace.

 

“She surely must blame me for Tommen,” Jaime whispered into her ear.

“She is using his seal,” Brienne pulled away slightly, looking into his green eyes. “How can she if he’s…”

Jaime shook his head realizing where Brienne was going with her thoughts.  “No, I can’t believe she would do that…”  but Brienne could see the seeds of doubt growing in his eyes.  

 

You know perfectly well what she’s capable of. Using whatever dark magic she had at her disposal to reanimate her dead child, if that is what it took to hold on to her fragile claim to power.  Jaime looked down, averting his eyes. How he could have ever loved her…  Brienne quickly pushed those thoughts away as they came to her, as she often did when she would think about Jaime’s past, of the things he had done.  He is a new man, an honorable man. The words came to her like almost like a chant. She knew she was hopelessly in love with him, it was not a flighty girlish imagining like she had had with Renly.  Her love had more gravity, she had been through the Seven Hells with Jaime Lannister, and like a strongly crafted sword their love was forged in its fires.  Whatever may yet come she truly believed she could handle it, as long as he was by her side.  She was half terrified of her feelings for him, she hated to admit it, but she wasn’t certain he felt the same about her, there was affection certainly, but his sister had a powerful hold on him. Whenever he spoke of Cersei, she could always see something in his eye, like a warm memory floating to the surface.  Casterly Rock held so many of  their memories, ones he shared with his twin, a world that Brienne was never a part of, even in his sisters absence her presence permeated every stone.  Brienne often imagined the both of them jumping on horses and riding away from the Rock and the mocking eyes of the people, they could ride away and never return.

 

As if he could sense those sad thoughts coming to her he caressed the side of her face with his good hand, gently moving his thumb closer to her mouth, and resting it on her bottom lip.  The feeling of his skin on hers sent delightful shivers down the back of her spine.

“I have to stop, because I’m going to kiss you again wench,”  He said with affection, “And if I do we’re going to have to go to the yards, and I am exhausted from our last ‘bout, and positively covered in bruises.”

 

She grinned at him loving the feel of his embrace and kind words, she closed her eyes hoping he would lean in to kiss her. When he did she parted her lips slightly welcoming his warm mouth and tongue on hers. Their kisses became hungrier.  Her heart beat fast, and her breathing became more erratic.  His hand found her backside and squeezed hard, it was painful, but also enjoyable.  Brienne bit his bottom lip in response.

 

“Ahem.”

Brienne jumped away from Jaime, the noise of the servant shocking them both.

“What is it?”  Jaime hissed as he straightened his clothing, looking more annoyed than anything.

“Apologies my lord, there is a scroll…”

“I swear to the Gods I am going to rip the head off of every raven we have,” Jaime cursed as he aggressively grabbed the scroll from the man’s hand.

The frightened servant had the good sense to hurry away.

The seal was black, it was a message from the Wall.

Jaime handed the scroll to Brienne to read, her fingers more apt at handling the small paper.  

“Every able-bodied fighter come to the Wall at once in defence of the realm,”

Jaime and Brienne looked at each other trying to comprehend the message.

“A trick of Stannis?” Jaime questioned.  They knew he was north, and from all reports recovering from his losses.

“But why would he ask for all fighters in the realm?” Brienne asked, “It is also sealed with the black of the Night’s Watch, not his own seal”.

Jaime nodded.

“Do we answer?” Brienne asked.

“No.  I need more information, I will not risk any more lives on a cryptic note.” Jaime said with authority. “I will send a few men north to gather more information,”

Brienne looked out the window, an uncomfortable feeling of dread was moving through her.  Outside it was snowing again.

Chapter Text

The afternoon was brisk and a fresh snow lay on the ground, but they had seen colder days in the last few weeks that seemed to drag on forever. It was their wedding day, and the Rock was bustling with activity.

Several great fires burned inside, helping to keep away the chill. The great hall was decorated with dried flowers, red and yellow roses as well as some tiny blue flower that Jaime could not identify, remainders of the summer that had passed; large silken ribbons of red, blue and gold were hung from every imaginable place, their colours joined together, as soon he and Brienne would be.  His wife to be had protested at any kind of extravagance, but upon seeing the joy it brought dear little Sansa to plan and decorate for the wedding she couldn't help but let the girl have her way.  

Jaime was never one to take the time in admiring decorative details, but he had to admit the hall had a definite... sweetness about it.  He reasoned that with the happiness building up inside of him the hall could of been decorated with sheep dung and he would have thought it lovely.

Brienne of Tarth was to be his, and he was to be hers. He felt a foolish grin growing on his face as the thought came to him. He did his best to hide it as two ladies giggled and hurried by.  He had the distinct feeling he had failed miserably.

 

In front of him at the end of the aisle stood the great old Septon Jaime inhaled nervously, his chest feeling very tight all of a sudden, as he walked forward he nodded to those he recognized.  The ceremony would begin soon, it could be over and done within the hour.  The tediousness out of the way he could begin his life with Brienne.  He was sure she would be more than happy to have it over and done with quickly as well.  She was not the kind to enjoy the gazes of strangers.  He had made a special request of the Septon to make haste with the proceedings.

People from all over Lannisport and surrounding lands made their way into the hall all finely dressed, everyone curious to see the golden handed Jaime and his now famous bride to be, Brienne the Beauty.  The name had been used against her as an insult, there was no denying she was not fair to look upon, but Brienne was the most beautiful woman in the Kingdom in Jaime’s mind.  Her heart was an unending well of love, forgiveness, and kindness.  He knew that she deserved better than him, someone nobler with less of a taint on his reputation. Fortunately for Jaime most men couldn’t see beyond her fierce exterior, but there was that Hyle Hunt... just thinking about the twits name was enough to slightly sour his jovial mood.  Brienne had written to her father inviting him to the wedding, the only reason they had waited weeks, she had hoped she would hear back, a raven with a few words be they dark or light would have put her more at ease.  Lord Selwyn did not reply, the only dark cloud on their bright and lovely day.

 

Jaime made his way to the front of the hall where the Septon waited for him, he took his place and waited for her...

 

They waited for an uncomfortable amount of time.  Jaime had known brides to take an exorbitant amount of time on their wedding day to fuss and perfect their clothing and hair, but his Brienne was not cut from that cloth.  The musicians had been playing throughout, and when they became to strum a song he recognized from his walk down the aisle, he began to worry.

Sansa was the first to move, she hurried away her long skirts in hand, turning down the hall towards Brienne’s quarters.  It was all Jaime could do to stand in place and not follow the girl out.  Murmurs and whispers spread like wild fire amongst the guests.  He thought he heard someone whisper, “Thought it would be him running away...”  If Jaime could have found the one who uttered that sentence he would have ripped his tongue straight out of his wretched mouth. Instead he stood in place still and expressionless, feeling worried, anxious, fearful and foolish.  A mix of emotions he hadn’t had to mask in quite some time. A mask he had perfected when he served as a member of the Kingsguard.

Jaime felt a sudden wave of dread wash over him, he moved from his place, his long crimson Lannister cloak embroidered in gold trailing behind him.  He practically ran down the halls towards Brienne’s room, the door was open and inside was Sansa Stark.  The girl looked at him with a pained expression.  On Brienne’s bed her wedding gown was laid out, a beautiful fabric the color of sapphires, intricately threaded with silver, another one of Sansa's persuasions. Lying beside her bridal gown was the sword he had ordered forged for her.  The Saphire Star...

 

It was not the sword that Oathkeeper had been, but it was a beauty.  Excellent steel, elegantly engraved with moons and starbursts, the hilt inlaid with sapphires.  Most husbands would have given their brides to be a bauble or jewelled trinket of some kind to wear on their wedding day, but Jaime knew that this was what would have made her most happy.  He had taken her for a ride that day to the caves of his youth, to show her his favourite haunts as a child.  She was not the kind of woman that was happy being cooped up inside the castle walls day in and day out. She had gladly accepted his invitation to explore. They had enjoyed a lunch of smoked meats and cheese while he shared the mischievous antics of a young Jaime Lannister, careful to exclude any stories that included his sister. Brienne had wiped a tear from her eye and held her stomach as she begged him to stop in between gasps of laughter as he recounted one particular mishap involving his attempted shaving of a cat, a terrible dare made by one of his cousins, he too bold and proud to refuse the challenge. When she had recovered from her fits of laughter he had presented the sword to her, the expression on her face was seared into his memory, she had beamed a grand smile, covering her mouth like a young girl and gasped “Oh”, tears welling in her sparkling blue eyes.  He had insisted she put it around her waist, wishing he could have been the one to do it, half-cursing his useless right hand.  She had thanked him with one of her sweet kisses, tender and long. He could have taken her then in the cave, laid her out on the blanket and have his way with her, but as always he extinguished those thoughts as they came.  It was mere days until the wedding, they had waited this long, he could wait a few more sunsets. They had both laughed at the imagined faces of their attendees of their wedding as both he and she stood before them taking their vows, swords around their waists.  Jaime had even proposed they duel to really liven up the event; they had both been in hysterics at that thought.

 

And now the sword was left behind, and his Brienne was nowhere to be found. He could feel his breath quickening; he shut his eyes tight, pressing his hand to his temple. Did she change her mind?  Did she return to her father and Tarth? To Hyle Hunt? The last thought sickened him and he could taste the bile rising in his mouth. He could feel himself spiralling; his mind struggled to process the emotions raging through him. He turned his back to the dress, the sword and Sansa.

“She wouldn’t have left like this,” Sansa spoke quietly and with fear, she tentatively put her hand on his shoulder. Jaime felt like raging at the girl, if only to abate the threat of his tears.  He swallowed hard; his throat constricted and tight.

Sansa took her hand away and placed herself between him and the door, “You have to find her, she would not have left like this, I know it.  She could be in danger.”

Jaime’s gaze snapped up to meet Sansa’s, fear washed over him, replacing the hurt and anger.  His blood turned cold.  The Stark girl was right; Brienne wouldn’t have left like this, certainly not without a note of explanation. He pushed past Sansa and ran down the hall; he needed to organize a search and fast.

He had to find her.

Chapter Text

Brienne groaned awake, it was cold and dark; there was a dampness in her bones. Her arms were raised, her wrists bound together, the coarse ropes were cruelly cutting into her skin.  Squinting through her one eye she tried to make sense of where she was, her other eye was uselessly swollen shut.  She could taste old blood in her mouth. The sounds and smells of the ocean could be heard nearby; she was in one of the old miner caves.

Peering out to the mouth of the cave she could see the dim colors of a dying sunset, hues of purple and red. It was then she realized she wasn’t alone, her muscles tensed as she drew back pressing herself against the cold craggily wall.  As her eyes adjusted to the dark she could see there were more silhouettes in the cave with her. A small womanly figure stood at the entrance of the cave, Brienne’s heart felt as though it had stopped, then it began to beat very fast, Stoneheart?  The small figure came closer, raising a lantern closer to her face.  It was much worse… Cersei Lannister.

“Hello, Brienne.” Cersei stood in front of Brienne, an armed soldier brought a chair for the Queen to sit before her. Brienne knelt on the cave floor, their eyes level.  She did not return Cersei’s greeting, her head was pounding and she was struggling to maintain consciousness.

“Well, that is no way to greet your Queen.” Cersei leaned her head to the side and said almost playfully.

She was dressed very plainly in a long umber cloak, looking more like a commoner than Brienne had ever seen her, even without all her finery there was no denying what a beauty Cersei Lannister was, flawless pale skin, green eyes and golden haired. 

Brienne attempted to reply but coughed instead as she tried to speak her throat raw and dry.

“You poor thing, let me get you some water,” Cersei didn’t move, she simply outstretched her hand and a flask was brought to her.  Brienne turned her head to the side, refusing the drink.

Cersei rolled her eyes and drank from the flask herself. She offered the flask again, Brienne drank greedily but managed very little down as she coughed and sputtered out most of what entered her mouth. The water dribbled down her chin and neck onto the cave floor.

“You really are a great foolish beast, you could have been spared all this if you had simply accepted that proposal I so graciously arranged for you. It’s likely you could have even had a big ugly baby inside of you by now, happily married and living on your stupid little rock.” Cersei’s green eyes glared at her ruthlessly.

“Hunt?”

Cersei smirked, “Well, it does speak.”

“Hunt has been very forthcoming, and very useful, when I proposed he ask for your hand he seemed adamant that you would refuse.  I pressed him, offering a handsome dowry on your behalf.  That was enough to convince him to at least try.  I could have taken your little home easily enough, but then I wasn’t too sure that would work in my favour with Jaime. You’ve forced me to take a slyer approach.”

Cersei’s mention of Jaime’s name flooded Brienne with an ache of deep sorrow.  This night was to have been their wedding night; bitter tears came to her eyes as her thoughts turned to him, but she willed them away.  She didn’t want to cry in front of this creature.

 She had been out riding early in the morning giving her plenty of time to collect the gift she had commissioned for him … A book, beautifully illustrated detailing all of Jaime's deeds.  She wanted to record for him the deeds he had done, to illustrate the kind of man he was to her in her eyes.  The book was to be a piece of him to live on long after they were gone.  She had requested that the last few pages be left blank, room to document whatever may come next for them.

The master scribe had laboured on the tome for weeks, he was a hermit of a man and lived deep in woods to the south, it was a long ride and she had wanted to return in time to prepare for the ceremony.  She was half way into her ride, the sun had not even been up for an hour when she heard a band of men approaching; they were dressed in Lannister armour, at first she had thought that Jaime had sent them.  She had stopped and turned her horse to greet them.  The riders did not slow, and the sudden unexpected blow to her skull was not blocked.  She fell from her horse gracelessly, her un-armoured side smashing painfully against large rocks.  In a dizzy haze the last thing she remembered was the hilt of a sword as it knocked her unconscious.

“I need you to break whatever spell it is you’ve put over him.” Cersei pulled a small paper from her cloak. “You are going to write words he will believe, say good-bye, he must not question it, this madness with you and he ends tonight.”                     

“I will not,” Brienne glared at Cersei, with furious blue eyes.

Cersei sighed as she retrieved a scroll from her cloak.  “This is a message for my servant at Tarth with orders to end your father. Lord Selwyn always did have a weakness for pretty young women didn’t he? I could send my order along with a raven tonight, your father could be drowning in his own blood by tomorrow morning, or I could just as easily burn it.  The choice is yours.” Cersei crossed her arms, and leaned back slightly, an arrogant smirk plastered on her lips; she looked like she was impatiently waiting on a child to make a decision.

She’s going to kill me anyway… my father...

Brienne shut her eyes, tightened her lips and reluctantly nodded.  Cersei motioned to her soldier; the helmed captor untied her wrists. Brienne grimaced as her joints in her shoulders and arms screamed, there was a terrible pain in her right side, possibly a broken rib.   

I can save my father.

The thought of never getting to see him or her home was near unbearable; she felt sudden pains of guilt wash over her for staying away from Tarth for so long.  Brienne bit her lip to keep the tears welling up in her eyes from spilling out. A small traveling writer’s block was brought to her, Brienne was given a quill, ink and paper. Brenne sat for a long time playing with the quill in her hands, not knowing what to write.

“Bring me my raven.”  Cersei commanded one of her men.

“No.” Brienne began to scribble,

Ser Jaime,

Please forgive me. I cannot marry you.  There are some wrongs that cannot be forgiven, you know what they are. Good-bye.

- Brienne

Cersei read her letter and frowned, “So short?”

“He wouldn’t believe a long flowery good-bye from me.” It was all Brienne could do not to cry.

Cersei seemed satisfied with her response; she stood and pulled the hood around her golden locks.  “You know I came to Jaime once in similar dress, it was at an inn… I played the commoner, I recall him quite enjoying it. He’ll need soothing this evening.”

Brienne sprang forward, her hands nearly made it to Cersei’s neck before one of the guards knocked her to the floor.

“Kill her, but keep her parts intact, big lumbering lug that she is… should be useful to Qyburn,” Cersei grabbed the lantern and left the cave, her long skirts sweeping the floor.

Brienne was alone in the dark with her captors. One of the three approached her, unsheathing his sword.

Her hands were now free.

If I can get one of their swords; I may yet live through tonight…

Chapter Text

He had every able bodied man search in all four directions of Casterly Rock, and yet there had been no indication of where Jaime’s betrothed had vanished.  It was hours passed sunset, and the darkness had made their search futile.  Jaime refused to quit he was deep to the south when a party of his men rode up behind him.  His heart leaped hoping they had news of Brienne.

“Ser, you must return to the castle,”

“Brienne?” Jaime realized how desperate he sounded, but found he didn’t care.

“No M’lord.  It’s your sister.  She has just now arrived and requests your presence.”

“Cersei?”  Jaime was shocked; if the man had told him the ocean had turned to sand he would have thought it more believable than Cersei being at the Rock. Jaime hadn’t thought much of his sister since his battle with Robert Strong.  Anytime her memory would threaten to come to him he would aggressively push it away.  He was certain she blamed him for Tommen’s death, and though he wouldn’t admit it, he was devastated when she had been so willing to let him die by Strong’s blade. 

Why is she here?  I need to find Brienne…

As if the soldier could read the indecision on Jaime’s face he interjected, “Ser, the search is hopeless in the dark, we must resume at dawn.”

Jaime knew the man was right; he himself had almost smashed his head on several low tree boughs.   Reluctantly he pulled the reigns of his horse, and turned around, heading back in the direction of Casterly Rock.

 

Jaime stood outside his sister’s door; he hadn’t been in this wing of the castle in ages.  Two helmed guards stood on each side.  

So she feels the need to guard herself?  

Jaime couldn’t help but wonder if these men were warm blooded, or more of her cold dead things, gifts of Qyburn’s.  He walked past the guards and opened the door.  Cersei had made little time in making herself at home.  She sat at her dressing table; a servant girl Jaime did not recognize braiding her long glorious mane.  She was wearing a green dress, one that he remembered from their youth, the one with the white laces at the bodice, ones he use to enjoy untying with his teeth.  As his reflection came into view of the mirror she turned, brushing the girl away. 

“Brother!” Cersei flung her arms around his neck, and landed a kiss at the spot below his ear.  She pushed her body into him and held him tightly.  His arms remained at his sides. The timing of her visit made his limbs stiffen.

“Where is she Cersei?” Jaime gritted his teeth, his jaw tensed.

Cersei pulled away slightly, her arms still encircled around him, she looked into his eyes, her expression hurt.

“What is wrong with you? This is how you greet me after all this time, after all that has happened?”  Her beautiful green eyes were wet with the threat of tears.  “Leave us,” Cersei choked out a command to the servant, the poor girl looked terrified as she set down a pitcher of wine and hurried out of the room.

Jaime pulled away from his sister and sat at the edge of her bed, his fingers smoothing the fabric of her blankets, the familiar red and golden floras bringing back unwanted lustful memories he had thought long buried.

“I have heard of your bride leaving this morning, I’m so sorry Jaime.”  Cersei stood in the spot where he left her, like she was frightened to approach him.  

She’s never been sorry for anything…

“If you’ve ever loved me sister, swear to me now that you had nothing to do with Brienne’s disappearance,” Jaime held his sisters gaze, looking for any trace of deception.

Cersei shook her head no, she came to him then, gathered his hand in hers and answered, “Of course not.”  Jaime could not decipher whether she was lying or not.  He wanted to believe her. He felt so bloody helpless.

There was a knock at the door. 

“Go away.” Cersei commanded.

“Pardons, but 'tis word of Ser Jaime’s lady,” came the muffled response from behind the door.

Jaime jumped from the bed and ran to the door, flinging it open. “What is it?” Jaime demanded. The servant girl looking terrified held a small letter.  “I’m sorry Ser, one of your men found this.”

Jaime thanked the girl, and returned to the room.  He unfolded the small note with his hand and read…

Ser Jaime,

Please forgive me. I cannot marry you.  There are some wrongs that cannot be forgiven, you know what they are. Good-bye.

- Brienne

There was a wet mark blurring the letters of her name, but there was no denying this was her hand.  Jaime felt the strength in his legs leave him, he slumped down to the floor, exhaustion finally taking him he felt like he was on the verge of sobbing like a child.  Cersei ran to him, her arms encircling his neck, holding him upright.  She shushed into his ear as he cried.  How long she held him like that he couldn’t have said, after some time he felt her lips kissing his forehead, then his cheeks, and finally her pink lips kissed his, brief at first, then more fully, she knelt on the floor with him, her hands holding his head she pressed her lips to his again, her tongue searching for his.  Jaime stiffened and pushed her away.

“What are you doing?” he asked bewildered.

“I’m comforting you,” She seemed confused by his response. Cersei pushed herself up from the floor her small hands and fingers, brushing his hair.  “You are right, this is much too soon. I’m here now Jaime my love.  You will see that in time we can be as how we were once before, two halves of the same whole.”

“What are you doing here?” This was not the response she was expecting, her lips tightened and she stepped back from him.

“Things have been extremely difficult for me since Tommen was… injured.  The city was in chaos, half of it lost to fires, so many killed. But Tommen lived.  It was a miracle,” She smiled brilliantly, but her eyes said something else.”

“He didn’t survive that Cersei.  What have you done?” Jaime didn’t like the look in her eyes, too much like Ayres.

“What I had to.” She returned his accusing gaze stone set in her eyes.

His stomach knotted and broiled suddenly he couldn’t stand to look at her, couldn’t stand to be in this room with her.  Without word Jaime moved from the floor, gathered what strength he had and left. She never called for him, or if she did he didn’t hear it. 

Jaime moved down the halls in a blurred daze, he felt like he was moving under water, his legs numbly carried him to the balcony doors, he thrust them open and the crisp night air rushed into his lungs painfully, snow swirled around him and the cold bit into his skin.  He stopped at the edge of the short stone wall and looked down below, the fall would kill him easily and then her words came to him like a haunting whisper...

Are you so craven?  

They had been like a slap when she had spit them at him the first time, insulted him in a way that no one had ever dare.  It had been enough to snap him back from his darkness.

Jaime pulled away from the balcony, shut the doors and made his way to his chambers. He was thankful for the wine that was set out at his table; he finished one flagon, and poured another.  The sooner he drank himself into a sleeping stupor the better. He finished his second glass as quick as he had the first, and as he poured his third he noticed the book, red leather with golden scroll, the title read, ‘Ser Jaime the Golden Hand’

“What is this?” Jaime opened the handsome book. Inside detailed his feat of jumping unarmed into the bear pit with an illustration of him standing between Brienne and the bear, she was bloody and wearing a torn pink dress.  Another page was of him giving gold to the orphans at that accursed inn, his victory over Robert Strong, their opening of the Lion’s Gate during the riots at Kings Landing. Jaime flipped back to the first page, there written in her delicate hand the words…

To my golden knight, noble and true

Your loving wife,

Brienne

Jaime’s heart beat faster… She couldn’t have left me; she doesn’t think me unworthy…

Jaime whirled on his heels, he needed to know where this book came from, who had left it for him, and most of all he needed to find his Brienne.

Chapter Text

Growing up on Tarth she had been a solitary child, when she wasn’t reading or practicing in the yards with swords she was star gazing and dreaming.  Evenfall was considered a minor house to most of the mainland Lords, Tarth was nestled in the waters just off the coast of many towns and ports, a strategic place that occasionally a ship might land for a night or two, her father had received many captains and they would dine in the hall sharing their tales of strange exotic places, and the many storied adventures they had encountered along the way. These visitors were the first to plant the seeds of adventure within Brienne.  She would listen intently to the stories of the captains and the other sea faring men, imagining herself as a knight boldly joining them, participating in adventures that would earn her the praises in songs.  When others had retired to their quarters she would stay up late looking up to the night sky, staring at the stars and dreaming of a world where she could wield a sword, earn the respect of others with her good deeds. 

 

As she became older she felt the weight of being Selwyn Tarth’s sole heir grow heavier and heavier.  Her father would often take a new lady, and every time he did she would pray for a brother to be born, even if he was a bastard she was sure she could convince her father to forego her claim.  It would seem her prayers and her father’s efforts would both prove to be fruitless.  In many ways her appearance came as a hidden blessing, with each failed betrothal her father seemed to become more resigned to the idea that she would never marry, would never sire a child.  She suspected her unwillingness to marry was the reason he took so many women to his bed chambers, in a way she felt at fault for setting him up for Cesei’s trap.

 

She had bested her captors in the cave, but it had not been easy work. Managing to wrestle a blade from the first; she delivered a flurry of frantic strikes, not sure if they were undead creatures she showed no mercy and had swung for their necks. It was fortunate that these guards were not of the same calibre as Robert Strong had been.  Ignoring all the protests of her injuries she eliminated the first two by removing their heads from their bodies. A third had come up on her left, her blind side; his blade sunk into her torso, the agony had been astonishing.  She was certain her attacker had punctured her lung.  As he pulled his blade out of her she fell to her knees with a great cry, the blade arched up into the air coming down at her, it was all Brienne could do to raise her stolen blade to parry the attack.  The dead thing was tireless, but it was slow and clumsy.  She delivered a returning strike to its neck, lifting herself up she put all her strength into slashing her blade to the right, when the body fell she kicked the head hard, separating it from its neck.  She collapsed, spitting blood onto the cave floor, her breathing was ragged and short, her mind and body almost begged to be turned off, to collapse and rest, Brienne shook her head and forced herself to her knees, then feet.  Leaning against the cave wall she could hear the movement of the corpses she had jut slain. There was no wildfire this time; she was trapped in the cave with these creatures, horrifyingly raising their headless bodies back to life.  There was little time to hesitate, Brienne hacked and slashed at each of the corpses, severing limbs, throwing and kicking them away as far as she could.  Running on pure adrenaline, she limped out of the cave; the ocean waves were loud and crashing below her somewhere, she looked to the sky for her stars.

 

Her heart dropped when she heard the voices of men outside the cave.  Brienne knew she was done, she had no more fight in her, and her only hope was to run.  It was a blessing when she heard the snorting of her horse.  Brienne couldn’t make out how many men there were around the fire, their shadowy figures hidden by the trees.  She patted her horse gently shushing him, untied his reigns and made her escape…

 

She rode her horse hard, the great beast’s hooves thundered underneath her.  Her chapped hands tightly clung to the reins.  Her pursuers were close behind her; she could hear their yells in the near distance.  Brienne ducked low kicking her heels into the poor horse’s side.  She wasn’t entirely sure how far away she was from the Rock, but she knew she knew was heading in the right direction, the Evenstar of the East was to her right, she was heading North, she hoped if she kept riding the terrain would become more familiar. 

 

When the horses pace began to slow, she knew she could push him no more.  Brienne dismounted gracelessly, her head dizzy, and her sight seriously impaired with only one good eye struggling to see in the dark night.  Once her feet were firmly planted on the frozen ground Brienne slapped the rear of her horse sending him away alone.  She hoped the men chasing her would continue to follow the horse and not her.  Thankful for a moonless night Brienne slinked into the pine forest and headed in the opposite direction of the sounds of the men chasing her, with luck they would pass her by and she could continue north.  

 

Brienne had never been the kind of girl that had spent any time imagining the details of her future wedding night, but she could admit with certainty that hiding from a band of men hunting her down like wild game would not have been it. She leaned against the trunk of a tree gasping for breath, the snow was starting to fall again, she hoped it would keep falling; her tracks would be better hidden.  There was a part of her that yearned to close her eyes and sleep there, letting the snow bury her like a blanket. Jaime.  The thought of him was enough to make her move and to continue walking towards what she hoped was Casterly Rock.

 

It had been quite some time since she had heard the noise of her pursuers. She moved so painfully slow, her side protested with each step, her breathing was cut short with each inhale.  She fell several times, scrambling in the dark, the root of a tree, the icy surface of a rock, there were so many invisible obstacles below the new snow.   The worst was when the cold started to set in, as the winds picked up she could feel it slice into her like a whip.  Her limbs felt heavy, she was so utterly exhausted, but she knew she couldn’t allow herself to rest, afraid she wouldn’t be able to pick herself up again. Her hand pressed to her side, she winced as she could feel the warm stickiness of her wound, drops of blood melted into the snow below her feet, slow at first, but as she ploughed forward, the drops made their patterns more quickly, like crimson rose buds. Her vision became hazy, her head dropped, and her eyelids would not stay open, she fell with a thud into the snow, her consciousness fading. Closing her eyes she thought she could hear his voice…

 

“Brienne?”

“No M’lord.  It’s your sister.  She has just now arrived and wishes to see you.”

“Cersei?” 

 

“Jaime,” Brienne’s voice called to him, very weakly, barely a whisper as she tumbled into unconsciousness.

Chapter Text

He had frightened half the servants in Casterly Rock demanding to know where the book had come from.  He raged until finally a scullery maid was produced who recalled it coming in shortly before the wedding ceremony.  The hermit scribe who lived in the woods deep to the south had sent it along with guests making their way up from Crakehall. She recounted the story that she had overheard Lady Brienne was supposed to have journeyed to the scribe that morning to collect they book, but she had never arrived.

Jaime silently cursed himself for not paying more attention to the books in the great library and the scribes of the area, Tyrion would have known the maker’s hand by sight.   He also could have smashed in all their stupid faces for not sharing this information with him earlier.  He was too concerned with finding Brienne to rage at them further.

He gathered a party of men and called for his horse.  Jaime was so exhausted he was fighting bouts of nausea, but he felt this nagging need to ride towards the south. 

The winds were picking up again, and snow blew all around him. They had ridden for near an hour when he saw her horse… without its rider.  His men grabbed the horse, there was blood down the horses left side, but the beast seemed unharmed.  Jaime’s chest constricted with dread.  He would have traded all the gold of Casterly Rock for a single blood hound in that moment.  He felt cursed; having sent them all away on a hunt, his sole obsession these past few weeks had been securing food for the long winter ahead. Truly it had been their joint sole obsession; it pained him to think that just a few short weeks ago she had sat with him every morning writing his dictations, followed by their spars in the yard. 

They continued to ride south for close to another hour when he heard the distinct voices of men.  Jaime held up his golden hand, no one stirred.  Jaime silently dismounted, his men reading his silent order followed suit.  Gingerly stepping over the new fallen snow Jaime approached closer to the voices.

“I’m going to fuck this bitch’s big dumb head in; my peckers about to fall off from this cold…”

“Likely you’ll be fucking a corpse, look at all this blood.”

Two distinct voices…

“She’s close no doubt about it, best make sure she’s dead.”

No three of them…

“Here! I’ve found the bitch!”

Jaime bolted; his legs pumping hard towards the men’s voices, his cloak blew behind him, his breath steaming out of him like a wild beast.  Arriving at a clearing, the three men turned as he pushed through the brush, swords drawn, and beyond them he saw her…

Lying in the snow, slumped against a tree, her eyes shut; mouth slightly agape, blood trickling down from one corner of her lips.  Her arm was holding her side, and all around her was red.  As a soldier Jaime had seen blood, he had witnessed death a hundred times over, but nothing could prepare him for the butchery that had been done to his Brienne. 

The men looked at him hesitantly, as if trying to decide if they should attack.  Jaime noted they were dressed in Lannister reds, his blood ran hot with that revelation. When his own men had finally caught up to where he had dashed off to, one of the opposing men realizing the odds were not in his favour held up his hands, dropping his sword in surrender.

“No, I don’t think so.”  Jaime unsheathed his sword; in three quick paces and with lightning quick reflexes delivered the blade into the unarmed mans neck.  A fountain of blood sprayed into the air.  The other men bolted, Jaime simply nudged his head, and his men pursued them, promptly running them down, their brief screams wailing up into the night air.

Jaime knelt into the snow; biting his leather glove off with his teeth, with his left hand he pressed his fingers to her pale neck.

Gods she’s far too cold.

 He moved his fingers to another spot, desperate to find any trace of a pulse, his despair grew as he realized he could not find one, something deep and dark seemed to be swallowing him up from the inside, his breathing was becoming frantic.

 I’m too late…

Jaime grabbed her, pulling her lifeless body into his, cradling her head into the crook of his shoulder, his fingers entangled in her straw coloured hair, frozen with sweat.

“Brienne…” His voice cracked, as tears freely rolled down his cheeks. He kissed her cold ruined cheek, holding her tight.

Then he heard a sound that froze him in place.

“Jaime…” her lips barely moved, but he had heard it clearly.

“Here!”  He shouted, “Now!” With all the grace a one handed man could possibly manage Jaime removed his cloak draping it over Brienne and carried her into his arms. With the help of his men he mounted his horse; once she was secured back in his arms he kicked his horse hard.  They raced, swirls of snow dancing behind them.

“You’re not dying on me tonight wench.  I forbid it.” Jaime looked at her, he knew it was absurd to think he saw the faint trace of a smile, but it was enough to make him kick his horse again.

 

Several of his men offered to help him carry her, but he refused and shouted orders for the maester.  Jaime carried her to his chambers and laid her gently on the bed.  She hadn’t spoken since they had first found her in the woods.  The maester rushed into the room, carrying his instruments with him. 

“She’s frozen,” Jaime told the man.

“It would be best if she were warmed slowly, skin to skin contact is best.  We need to remove her clothes.  We can send for ladies…”

“Fuck that,” Jaime removed his dagger from his hilt, and without hesitation began slicing into Brienne’s clothing.

“My Lord!” The old maester protested in shock.

Jaime ignored him only pausing briefly when he realized how terrible her wounds were. Each article of clothing seemed to reveal a new cut or bruise.  Jaime undressed himself and once fully naked climbed into the bed with Brienne. Wrapping his arms around her he shivered violently as his skin rested against hers.

“Treat her wounds,” Jaime demanded as he tilted Brienne’s body towards him, exposing her naked side and back to the maester.

The maester nodded and grabbed his tools.  Jaime couldn’t see the maester as he worked from his vantage point, but it felt like he held Brienne like that for hours, his teeth eventually stopped chattering, and he could feel her naked body begin to warm next to his.  The sun began to rise in the east, slivers of light began to crawl across the floor and yet the maester still silently worked at Brienne’s wounds. Jaime kissed her forehead, closed his eyes said a prayer to the Seven. After some time fight as he may, he could feel himself giving in to sleep.

Chapter Text

“Ser, she needs to drink this”, Jaime was awoken by the maester holding a cup. “It’s warmed wine; it will help to take away her chills,”

Jaime squinted, the sun had now fully risen, Brienne lay nestled in his arms still unconscious.  The skin around her left eye was purple and swollen shut, there was dried blood on her chapped lips, from which he could hear her breath coming in uneven gasping sounds. 

“Get me Sansa Stark.” Jaime commanded.

“Ser?” the maester looked at him bewildered, the cup still clutched in his hand.

“Go, now,”

The man scurried from the room. 

Jaime reluctantly untangled his arms from around Brienne and covered her with warm blankets; he dressed in the clothes he had discarded at the side of his bed several hours before.

A rap came at the door.

“Enter,” Jaime said as he adjusted the blankets around Brienne.

The maester followed by Sansa entered the room. Sansa’s eyes widened as she saw the damage that had been done to Brienne’s face, she looked genuinely concerned, her hand reached out as she approached the side of the bed where Brienne lay. 

“Oh no...”

“Her face will heal, it is the cuts on the inside we must fear child,” The maester turned to Jaime and continued, “She is a strong woman Ser, I do not believe her ribs are broken, perhaps bruised, there was much damage to her side, I cannot be sure how she will heal, but I’ve stitched what I could, and if she is still she may yet recover fully, but she needs to be warmed with wine.” As if on cue Brienne shivered under her blankets.

Jaime convinced by Sansa’s concerned reaction felt he could trust her.

“Sansa, go to the kitchens, have warm wine made.  You choose the wine, and watch it being prepared, do not let it out of your sight. Do you understand?” Jaime held the girls gaze; she simply nodded seeming to comprehend his meaning. The girl may be sweet and simple, but she was not stupid. 

As long as Cersei is under this roof, neither of them are safe.

Jaime beckoned to the guards outside his door, men he trusted, those who had been with him the previous evening when they had found Brienne.  “Please escort Lady Sansa to the kitchens, and have a servant bring me warm water for the basin. Arrest my sister’s men and servants, hold them in the dungeon. Post men you trust outside her door.  Cersei is not to leave her rooms.”

“Ser that is the Queen Regent...” Jaime looked at the man sternly, feeling as if he was evoking Tywin Lannister himself.  The guard seemed to know that stare, and did not argue. His orders were promptly followed.

 Sansa returned with the wine. He held Brienne’s head as gently as he could, resting her upon his knee while Sansa delivered the cup to her lips. 

“Brienne,” Jaime whispered into her ear.  “Wake, you must drink this.” She let out a small moan; her eye lids fluttered but did not open. Jaime nodded and Sansa pressed the cup to her lips again.  Brienne drank slowly, allowing a small amount to enter.

“Slow is best My Lord.  Try again in a little while.” The maester advised.  Jaime nodded.

Sansa placed the wine by the fire to keep it warm.

“Please escort Lady Sansa back to her quarters.  You are to stay outside her door until relieved; you will taste all her food and drink before she consumes anything. Make sure the kitchens know this.”

“Yes Ser, come milady.” Sansa and the guard left him alone with Brienne and the maester.

A servant came with the requested water for the basin.

“I will call if I need you,” Jaime said to the maester, not looking at him as he smoothed a strand of hair away from Brienne’s forehead, her skin was still slightly chilled.

Once he was alone with her he wet a cloth in the warm water, attempting to ring it out as best he could with his single hand.  Perhaps it would have been best to ask for assistance with this, he thought annoyed.  He had learned to sufficiently fight with his offhand but simple everyday tasks would still occasionally surprise and deject him.

He moved the wet cloth across her forehead, her cheeks, her bruised lips, and neck, rubbing away the sweat, caked dirt, and dried blood.  Rewetting the cloth, he repeated the process, moving to her shoulders, careful to keep her body covered with blankets.  Her scars were numerous and it broke his heart a little with each one he encountered. The terrible bear scratch on her shoulder, the mark around her neck from Stoneheart’s noose, the savaged ripples of her cheek.  Every scar was like a guilty stab to his guts, each one he felt he had allowed. When finished washing her Jaime grabbed the wine again and asked her to drink.

She silently obeyed, sipping a little more this time.

Jaime undressed again; naked as his nameday he rejoined his lady love in bed.

When Jaime awoke he smiled as her marvelous blue eyes greeted him, the left one barely open, so badly swollen and bruised.  He kissed her there, and she winced.              

“Sorry.” He smiled caressing his thumb along her temple.

“You know this is not the first time I’ve awoken like this.” She blushed and smiled shyly.

“Well seeing as you have yet to club me in the head with my boot, I’d hazard to say I’m faring better this time.” Jaime replied with a grin.         

“The day is young,” Brienne returned his smile.

“Brienne! Was that a joke?” Jaime said feigning shock, delighted with her obvious improved health.      

He kissed her on her lips, pulling her gently into his body with as much force as he dared.

She moaned as he did so, the sound a mix of pleasure and pain.

Despite himself he could feel he was becoming aroused, shamed by his excitement considering her current state of her health, Jaime pulled away. “I’ll have something brought in for us to eat.”

Brienne averted her gaze as he reluctantly climbed out of the bed.  Jaime shook his head, amazed that she still felt the need for modesty.

She supped on barley and vegetable soup, as well as warmed wine, he a more hearty fare of venison stew and potato. She ate little and still occasionally shivered, but her colour was much improved.

“Why did you write that note?” He felt he knew the answer, but asked anyway.

Brienne looked down into her bowl and back up at him. “Your sister threatened my father’s life. I’m sorry Jaime, I was so desperate.”

“I’ll admit the words stung, but I can... understand.” Jaime could feel his anger welling up inside of him, he would have to deal with Cersei, and soon.

“What made you search for me?” Brienne asked.

Jaime looked to his table, remembering her gift.  The book was gone. No one would dare take it from his quarters.

“Rest, Brienne. I’ll be back soon.” Jaime took her tray, and kissed her on the top of her head.

On his way out he shut the door and turned to the guards.  “No one is to enter this room, but me. No exceptions.” The guards nodded. As satisfied as he could be with Brienne’s safety, Jaime made his way down the long halls to Cersei’s room, a cold fury building up inside him with each step.

Chapter Text

Each step towards Cersei’s room increased his sense of dread.  It was like preparing for a battle, with none of the excitement.  He came to her doors, and nodded to each of the guards, he paused and contemplated knocking; deciding otherwise he pushed open the doors.  The room was in shambles, chairs overturned, down filling torn from her pillows scattered about like new fallen snow, near everything that should have been standing up was lying on its side, with the exception of two canters of wine, one near drained.

Jaime tried to absorb the chaos of her room, his eyes surveying the mess, and there she sat on the floor by the grand fire place, the stone carved with lion claws and grape vines.  In her hand she held a full glass of red wine, the skirts of her dress pooled around her in an elegant heap, and nested in her lap was the book, his gift from Brienne.

“I see you have decided to redecorate,” Jaime helped himself to the remainders of her wine, up-righted the nearest chair and sat across from her.

“So, this is what you’ve been up to all this time,” Cersei gracefully flipped a page of the book. “Oh this is a lovely illustration. Did you really jump into a bear pit unarmed? That was stupid.” She giggled, the movement causing wine to splash on the page.  She was well into her cups.

“Are you done?” Jaime asked.

“No, it’s quite a large book… this woman of yours is utterly enamored with you. It’s so very sad.” Cersei mocked a pout and turned another page.

“Are you done trying to kill her?” Jaime clarified.

Cersei shut the book, leaned forward and met his gaze.  There were dark circles under her eyes, and some fine wrinkles he hadn’t remembered being there before. 

“What happened to you?” Cersei squinted at him, her expression full of disgust.

“I fell in love,” Jaime answered. He realized then it was the first time he had every let those words tumble out of his mouth, it made him sad to think he had to yet say those words to Brienne.

Cersei scoffed. “Please, Jaime.  You sound so pathetic.”

“Answer me, are you done trying to kill my wife?” Jaime asked.

“As I recall that wedding didn’t happen. She is not your wife.” Cersei smirked at him.

“She will be, and soon.” Jaime returned calmly, taking a sip from his glass.

Cersei twitched her lips into a snarl, and then shook her head no. “Don’t you see we can have everything now? What you’ve always wanted. Father is gone, no longer here to separate us.  We don’t have to hide anymore. “

“Cersei, stop.” All those years he had made the same pleas to her, yearned for her to be his and damn the rest, and now he wanted nothing more than for her to be silent.

She stood, more wine sloshing, the book dumped unceremoniously to the floor, she stepped towards him.  “Like the Targaryen’s for ages before us, married just like you’ve always wanted. We could have more children…”

“Stop!”  Jaime shouted. Her hands were at his arms, clutching the fabric of his shirt. She let go of him and walked back towards the fireplace. 

With her back to him she finally spoke, “I’ve truly lost everything haven’t I? Father, my crown, you, my children,” Her voice broke into a cry with the last word; she looked back towards him her eyes watery. “I brought him back, but he wasn’t the same, they never are.  The light was gone, it was so hideous… I bathed him and…” She began to sob, falling back down to the floor.  Despite himself Jaime wanted to go to her, to comfort her, she looked so much like the girl of their youth, crumpled up like that, she looked so small.  He realized that she would always have a hold on him, some invisible string around his heart that she could tug on a whim.

He went to her, wrapping his arms around her, she turned to him, resting her face on his shoulder, her tears wetting his shirt. 

“Good-bye Cersei.” He kissed her forehead and grabbed her throat with his left hand.   Her green eyes widened, and her hands went to his, attempting to remove his fingers.  Jaime squeezed, her neck felt so small and delicate.  Her eyes reddened, she scratched at his hands, arms and face, she kicked her feet, upsetting the wine. The long golden wig she had been wearing tumbled to the floor revealing her short cropped hair.

And then he let go…

She fell to the floor gasping for air, a terrible choking sound rattling in her throat with each inhale.

I’ll lock her away forever....  Jaime was shaking with what he had almost done.

Then she started to laugh, a sound marred by the damage he had inflicted upon her throat.  Stunned Jaime turned to look at her, there was an unsettling atmosphere in the room, a feeling he hadn’t experienced since serving the mad king. She looked at him and smiled her eyes cold, the color of pine covered in frost.  Her gaze then shifted to the book and before Jaime could reach her she tossed it into the fire, embers and sparks flying around it.

Jaime flew forward thankful for his golden hand as he reached into the fire and flung the book to the floor, using the small carpet he attempted to smother the flames.  He lifted the rug revealing the ruins of the beautiful book, near every page singed. Jaime gathered the remains in his arms.

Cersei crossed the room to the second canister of wine and poured herself another glass.  “You were always the weaker one, I should have been born with the cock,” Cersei coughed as she drank her wine down. “Tell your lady that a Lannister…” Cersei coughed again, her eyes widened, she dropped the glass, it shattering to the floor below, she began to claw at her throat. Jaime in shock watched her as she fell to her knees, her face was turning an odd shade of purple, her eyes rolled back into her head and then she crashed to the floor her head smacking against the wood.

Chapter Text

The window fogged as Brienne’s breath reached the pane; using the palm of her hand she rubbed it away revealing the snow covered courtyard below.  She was still too weak to return to her own quarters, so she remained in Jaime’s room, he had not returned since Cersei’s death. 

Murder. Brienne thought, Poison.

The night of Cersei’s murder he had come to her immediately after it had happened, she had not seen that vacant look in his eyes since the first days after his hand had been severed.

“What is it? Jaime, what has happened?” Brienne struggled to sit up in the bed, her wounds protesting sharply with each movement.

He put up his hand, a gesture silently asking her to be still.

“My sister is dead,” He said quietly, “Poison.”

Brienne often was speechless under the best of circumstances, but this news was fraught with a mix of emotions for them both, there was no hope for her in finding words to suit this situation. She wished she had the strength to have climbed out of her bed, crossed the room and gathered him into her arms, but instead she was forced to sit there staring at him, mute and useless.

“I will have to make arrangements,” He looked at her briefly and then left the room.

It had been three days since she last saw him.  There were stories that he had stood vigil at Tywin Lannister’s funeral for seven days. 

Gods knew how long he would stand by her.

A typical response for a lady would have been jilted anger, resentment, jealousy... Brienne only felt concern and worry for the man that was to be her husband, absent for so many days mourning a lost lover.  She wished he would come through the door; she missed his brilliant smile, his warmth, and even his frustrating japes, she had resigned to be patient, give him the time and space he needed.  Deep down she had to admit there was also a small part of her that was sick with dread that Cersei's death had somehow changed his feelings for her.  That he had a realization of how ludicrous it was for him to be with her, these doubts that would unwillingly drift into her mind were the worst, causing her chest to ache worse than the cuts and bruises she had suffered.

A knock came to the door.  Brienne’s eyes looked up hopeful as it opened; she tried not to seem too crestfallen when she saw it was Lady Sansa.  Sansa smiled apologetically, recognizing the disappointment in her expression.

“I’ve brought you some more books to read,” Sansa held three small tomes in her arms.  The girl had been her only confidant, these past few days and Brienne welcomed her visits.

“Thank-you,” Brienne attempted a smile.

“It’s good to see you out of bed, how are you feeling?” Sansa asked placing the books on her bedside table.

“Much better, thank-you” Brienne rose from her seat at the window, her eyes shutting tightly as the stabs of pain made their way across her sides and back.  Sansa came to help her back to the bed.  As weakened as Brienne was, she was confident she still had more strength than the small lady, but it was a kindly gesture, one she appreciated.

Once settled into her bed Sansa helped her to straighten her pillow and cover her with blankets.

“I have something I need to tell you.” Sansa looked at Brienne, never averting her gaze. “I gave her the wine.”

You killed Cersei Lannister...

Brienne did not press the question, the silent communication in Sansa’s eyes was clear.

“Oh Sansa...” Brienne said mournfully.

“Will he harm me?” Sansa asked pointedly.

“I don’t know,” It was a truthful, but troubling response.

As angry as Jaime had been with Cersei, it was clear that he still had enormous love for his sister.  Jaime was not stupid, it was only a matter of time before he or someone presented Sansa as a suspect. Sansa’s confirmation of her deed would make things difficult.

“She would have killed me, or you.” Sansa said as she ran her fingers through her hair, hair that was slowly becoming red again.

Brienne nodded in agreement, biting her lip, she could not honestly say what Jaime would do.  Her insides were churning with the knowledge of what Sansa had done.  She felt she needed to protect the girl if Jaime chose the path of vengeance for Cersei’s murder, but she didn’t know if she could keep the girls confidence from her future husband.

As if being able to see Brienne’s conflicted thoughts Sansa made her way to her bed side, and grabbed her hand.  “We don’t have to tell him, she had so many enemies...”

Brienne looked away, she was not confident she could keep Sansa’s secret; she was never good at deception.  Holding the information could potentially secure Sansa’s safety, but if he were to ever find out she knew...if he ever pressed her for the truth, that would be the end of it. She was certain.

“I can’t.” Brienne said.

Sansa let go of Brienne’s hands, “You swore an oath to protect me, are you a false knight Brienne of Tarth?”

Brienne bristled at Sansa’s words. The girl was like a changing wind, warm and gentle one moment, and cold and cutting the next.

“Sansa...” Brienne began to plead.

“If you tell him, he will kill me, you suspect so yourself.” Sansa sat at the edge of Brienne’s bed, her hands neatly folded in her lap.

Brienne looked away; she could not deny that the girl’s words rang true.

“I’m sorry to have told you, but if the truth ever did come out I knew I would need someone I could trust to protect me,” Sansa stood, smoothing the wrinkles of her skirt. “Please rest, I hope that you heal fully, and soon.” Sansa smiled sweetly and made her way out of the room.

Brienne frowned and sat in her bed, Sansa’s confession echoing in her head.  She genuinely thought that she and Sansa were developing a friendship of sorts but she couldn’t help but feel like she was being played like a piece in Sansa’s game.  Brienne did not like it.

Chapter Text

Cersei’s body was sprawled across the floor, her eyes staring blank, and empty. Jaime bent down and closed her eye lids.  This was his other half, the woman who owned his heart for the greater part of his life.  He should be devastated, pulling his hair out, tearing at his clothes, beating his chest.  Instead he felt numb. She had always been the catalyst to his bad behaviour, for so many years he had been her champion, operating to satisfy her every desire, so many plots and schemes. He picked her up from the floor, so delicate and light in his arms, and still warm. 

He placed her in her bed, like he was putting a child to sleep.  She had been wicked and cruel, she had tried to take away the woman he loved and thankfully had failed, but he could not deny how empty he felt knowing she was gone from this world.  He didn’t want to leave her room, and not knowing what else to do with himself he began to clean the mess she had made.  Furniture, books, a vase, an empty bird cage, jewelry, and clothing, it seemed she had thrown anything she could have gotten her hands on.   From her wardrobe he chose a crimson dress with gold embroidery and pearls.  The colour always looked so lovely on her.  He laid out the dress at her feet, and left her room.

Jaime couldn’t remember making his way back to his quarters where Brienne lay; he just knew he needed to be with her.  He entered silently, successful in not disturbing her sleep.  Her eyes were closed and his heart dropped at the sight of the swelling and purple bruises about her face.  Every now and then she would cough, like she was still struggling to breathe with the vicious wounds his sisters men had inflicted upon her. 

He felt relief wash over him as he realized that for the mean time Brienne was safe.  Although with the kind of woman that she was, there was not telling how long that might remain the case.  He had never known a woman like Brienne of Tarth, she had all the qualities his sister had lacked.  She was honest, honourable, and steady, she had a kind and loving heart, and she was his. With her beside him he felt he too could be all those qualities he admired in her, be the man his boyhood self had longed to be.

I will marry her as soon as she is well, but first I must bury my past.

He had meant to leave the room then, to leave her resting but she awoke, her astonishing blue eyes cutting through to his heart.

“What is it? Jaime, what has happened?” Brienne struggled to sit up in the bed, Jaime hated to see her so feeble.

He put his hand, a gesture silently asking her to be still.

“She’s dead,” He said quietly, “Poison.”

Brienne’s brow furrowed in confusion, and then he could see she wanted to comfort him, and he yearned to go to her, but he was terrified he would break down and he did not want that.

“I will have to make arrangements,” He looked at her briefly and then left the room.

 

It had been seven days since his sister had been killed.  She lay within the Sept on a cold stone altar; the same Sept they had been naughty children in growing up, making fun of the stuttering Septon’s crumb filled beard, or taking turns pinching each other to see who could make the other cry out first.  Cersei had always won that game.

The Septa’s had expertly preserved his sister’s beauty; her golden mane had been returned to her and beautifully arranged about her face. Her color had not changed, and there was no foul odour like there had been with his father. It made holding vigil over her much easier than it had been with Tywin Lannister.  With his father Jaime had felt he was paying a penance for allowing Tyrion to escape the dungeons at Kingslanding, he had felt like an abettor to his father’s murder.

Despite the atrocities Cersei had wrought she was still his other half and he couldn’t deny the great waves of guilt washing over him for not being laid out next to her.  They had always said they would leave this world together, as they had come in to it together.

The funeral procession had been meager considering the high station his sister had held in life, there were the usual houses who under obligation had attended the ceremony, but Jaime observed not many tears were shed. 

After they had all left he stood for days determined to hold vigil a day for each of the Seven.  He would pray to them all, hoping one would take her, hoping one would forgive her, the Mother would have been his best hope, but then he shivered as he remembered Tommen.

As the days passed he had time to think about who had administered the poison. It was clear that motive and opportunity all pointed to Sansa.  It troubled him with what he would have to do if his suspicions were proven correct. He had promised to never harm a Tully or Stark again, but he could not let his sister’s death go unpunished, that would seem weak.  Oath or no, a Lannister’s murder must have retributions.

Brienne came to him on the seventh day, she was slightly limping, but her face no longer looked as badly bruised.  A servant followed behind, carrying a tray of food and drink.  When the servant had left them alone she finally spoke.

“Jaime please...”  She whispered to him, her hand landing softly on his arm. “I couldn’t stay away any longer.”

Jaime met her gaze; he felt he could have drowned in those imploring eyes.  He dropped his sword and crossed the room, grabbed her in his arms and kissed her gently but firmly on the mouth. Brienne surprised by his actions stiffened in his embrace, but she softened after the initial shock, her strong but gentle hands cradled his face. He wasn’t sure when the tears had come, but as she wiped them away he couldn’t deny that they had finally come.

He grabbed her face in his hands, she tried to look down and away, something she often did when he stared to long at her.  “No, don’t do that.  Look at me.”

Brienne slowly lifted her eyes back up to meet his.

“I love you.” Jaime said.

That is when her tears came, in great sobs she cried.  It was like he had broken some invisible wall, Brienne cried, with great gasps, like she couldn’t catch her breath. She placed one hand over her face, with her other hand she held her side still in pain from the brutality that she had endured.

“This is not the response I was hoping for,” Jaime couldn’t help himself as he made the joke... damn my mouth.

Then with a slight pause her cries turned to laughter which she attempted to smother with her hand. Jaime smiled his heart delighting in the sound.

When she finally removed her hand from her face, her eyes reddened from crying she said the words that made his heart bloom like he had never experienced in all his life. “I love you too, Jaime.”

 She reached for his hands, pulled him in closer and they embraced, warm and at ease in each other’s arms.  They held each other like that for some time, both unwilling to let the other go, when they finally were able to pull away there was a quiet unspoken understanding that they were bonded.

 Holding hands they made their way to the Sept’s great doors, pushing it open to reveal an orange sunset casting a fiery glow onto the snow, the sharp wind felt harsh on Jaime’s lungs as he breathed in the air. He pulled Brienne in towards him closer, wrapping his arm around her waist.  He did not look back into the Sept; instead he strode out into the cold winter dusk with Brienne.

Chapter Text

Brienne was enjoying the feel of Jaime’s arm about her waist, she leaned into him more, her hand resting on the upper part of his back, thumbing the hair at the nape of his neck. If it wasn’t’ so cold she would have liked to stop and kiss him. Comfort him.

They had walked only a few paces when he stopped in his tracks, Brienne lamented silently as she felt his arm leave her.  “Wait here, don’t move.”

“Jaime!” Brienne called after him as he left her standing confused , she watched him jog back into the Sept, his cloak fluttering behind him.  Brienne pulled her own cloak about herself, wrapping her arms over her torso, and shivered as she tried to keep out the chill.  The sun was nearly set on the horizon; the sky was painted in swirls of oranges and pinks, casting blue shadows of the trees about her like pillars in a great Sept. 

She waited for some time, her heart saddened at the thought that he needed to return to Cersei, one last good-bye.  She contemplated moving towards the Sept, or making her way back to the castle feeling like a fool standing in the snow shivering for a man who was still obsessed with a dead woman.   

An evil malicious conniving demon of a dead woman… 

Brienne couldn’t help but think, her anger steadily rising with each passing minute.  She was about to turn on her heels and make her way back to Casterly Rock when finally Jaime emerged from the doors of the Sept, trailing behind him was a very old Septon, and two Septas. 

Jaime came back to her in long hurried strides.

“Jaime?” Brienne questioned puzzled

“We’re getting married wench,” He grinned that brilliant cutting smile.

“You’re joking,” Brienne said in shock.

Jaime grabbed her gloved hands and kissed her gripped fingers, “I’m not letting you slip away again,”

He’s not joking…

Brienne looked to the Septon and Septas, they looked at her with eyes that seemed to beg her to make a decision and soon.  It was getting much colder now that the sun had set.

“I… I…” Brienne struggled to find the words.

“That’s as good as a yes!”  Jaime interrupted, pulling her towards him to face the old Septon.

The old man looked at her with questioning eyes, Brienne smiled and nodded yes. With gentle hands he positioned Jaime and Brienne to face each other, guiding their hands into each others, the gold of Jaime’s right hand cold.

They said the words promising their lives to each other, to forsake all others, to be husband and wife.  Vows Brienne had never imagined making, vows she could see he meant just as much as she. His voice was low and solemn, the expression in his eyes earnest. Happy tears came, blurring her vision.  She was certain she could see them in Jaime's as well.

Jaime removed his red cloak; Brienne turned her back to him, enjoying the residual warmth of his body as the fabric was draped over her shoulders.

She had barely finished her vows when Jaime was at her mouth, a glorious kiss that stole her breath, and made her weep more.  She surrendered to it, her knees felt like buckling, his left hand was at the small of her back, pressing her into his body, his mouth was warm and as his tongue parted her lips she returned his kiss with an equal passion.

Brienne's head was swimming, when the sound of the Septon clearing his throat bringing her back to the snow covered yard.

 

When they returned to the castle, their cheeks and noses were red bitten by the cold. Brienne wearing the crimson red cloak became suddenly very aware of how they must look.  They were giggling as Jaime thrust opened the doors of the great hall.   The flurry of their entry into the hall elicited shocked and bemused gazes of several servants, who appeared to be in the middle of their supper. Jaime grabbed the nearest decanter of wine, and poured two sloppy glasses, he handed one to Brienne and yelled, “To Brienne Maid of Tarth, and my wife!”  Jaime raised his glass to the room, the shocked servants slowly raised their cups in return, drinking to his toast.

“And now to rectify the ‘maid’ part.” Jaime grabbed Brienne’s hand and pulled her out of the hall.  Brienne could feel her blush rising up from her neck and spreading across her face, certain she must be the same color as the cloak draped about her shoulders.

As soon as they were out of the hall he was on her like a hungry beast.  He held her against the stone wall, planting kisses about her mouth and neck.  Brienne was amazed at how hot she was, when just a few short minutes ago she had stepped out of the cold night.

“Let’s keeping moving,” Jaime gasped into her ear, taking a small nip on her ear lobe.

“I’m not the one who stopped here,” Brienne replied, her breath just as hurried and irregular as his.

Once in their room Jaime grabbed her again, and kissed her mouth, Brienne began to unlace his tunic, as he pushed the cloaks she was wearing of her shoulders, she heard them fall to the floor with a thud. Knowing he would have a hard time with her laces, Brienne untied her own.  She was shy to do it, but wanted to save him from the embarrassment of the struggle, in one quick motion she threw the garment over her head and onto the floor.  Before she could cover herself with her arms Jaime was at her breasts, hungrily kissing her nipples, his wet mouth and tongue forcing her to moan with pleasure, sounds she didn’t know her throat could make, sounds that seemed to effect him, he groaned as he pressed his body into hers, his fingers digging into the small of her back.

Jaime’s kisses slowly made their way down to her ribs, kissing the faint and yellow bruises that still remained from her attack.  He kissed lower yet, landing soft kisses on her stomach, and the spot below her navel.  His left hand reached to the back of her breeches, his fingers gripped at the waist he tugged downwards, easily removing them.  Before Brienne could protest he was kissing her womanhood through her small clothes, very gently with his lips, Brienne’s fingers gripped at his hair, wanting to pull him away, but as he persisted she found herself less willing to make him stop.  He removed her smallclothes. Brienne shut her eyes tightly and leaned her head; a lingering moan escaped her lips as his tongue licked her in a spot she didn’t even know existed.  Her head swam, and her legs became weak, the only thing that existed was his tongue.  “Jaime…” She gasped his name.  There was a thrilling sensation building up inside her, she felt like she was drowning in pleasure, her heart was beating so incredibly fast, and then without warning her pleasure spilled over, she cried out, every muscle tensing, Jaime kissed the inside of her thigh, and caught her in his arms as she felt like she was about to melt down to the floor.

“Gods you’re flushed,” Jaime smiled as he admired the bloom of her blush that had spread across her body with her orgasm. He kissed her breasts again, then her neck, with grace he helped her to the floor, laying her out on the rug, as he kissed her mouth she could feel his excitement pressing against her.

“Forgive me,” He said as she felt him enter her, the pain was sharp, but did not last long.  With each of his thrusts the pain turned into a pleasurable sensation, and she could feel that wonderful sensation of spilling over, he pressed his thumb to the spot his tongue had so expertly explored and as he did so she came again, she could feel the muscles in his back tense beneath her finger tips, she embraced him as he fell on top of her, his breath sighing out of him like it did when they had just finished sparring in the yards. 

“Gods woman,” He said as he kissed her rolling to her side.

They lay like that for some time, naked on the floor in front of the fireplace, arms about each other wrapped in his red Lannister cloak.

Chapter Text

Jaime didn’t want to climb out of bed, Brienne lay beneath his arms sleeping soundly, he used his fingers of his left hand to gently caress her skin, marveling in its softness, he brushed away a few strands of her flaxen hair from her brow, it was getting much longer, when she was asleep like this her face was relaxed, no pained expression, no furrowed brow, he enjoyed watching her, it was almost as lovely as when her face lit up with laughter,  something he hoped he could bring about more often. Jaime was exhausted from their night of love making. I had thought her endurance at sword play was to be admired…

A young servant came in carrying their morning meal, as he filled the basin, and stoked the fire Jaime reluctantly climbed out of the bed. 

“A message came this morning my Lord, for the Lady” The servant gestured to the tray, nestled between the bowl of fruit and oat cakes was a scroll with the blue seal of Tarth. Jaime bit into an apple as he carried the scroll over to Brienne.  She had been roused by the morning routine, and held the sheets to her chest as she yawned.

“I think I would be up for a spar today,” Brienne said as she stretched her neck to the left and then the right, testing her muscles and what pains remained from her injuries.

Jaime kissed her fully on the mouth and offered her his apple.  She happily accepted, seemingly famished after their nocturnal activities.

“I’d like that very much, wife.” Jaime smiled as he watched her take a bite of the golden apple. “There is a letter for you, from your father.” Brienne’s eyes went wide with excitement as Jaime handed her the scroll. He watched as her long fingers unrolled the scroll, breaking the seal.  As she read the contents of the scroll her brilliant blue eyes clouded over. She gasped, dropping the apple and covered her mouth with her hand.  He went to her as the first tears began to roll out of her eyes.

“Brienne what is it?” Jaime asked as he reached for her, she shook her head, and handed him the scroll, with his arms still around her he read the note.

Lady Brienne,

It is with great sadness that I inform you your father had died unexpectedly. As sole heir to Lord Selwyn Tarth, his holdings are yours.  It is imperative you return.

Jaime couldn’t help but think on the details Brienne had shared with him shortly after her attack, how Cersei had threatened Brienne’s father, and for his life how she had been so willing to trade her own. Even from the grave his sister had had her revenge.  As he held his new wife, sobbing within his arms there was no question if he was faced with the same prospect now, how easy it would be to choke the life out of Cersei Lannister.

 

Jaime was in Cersei’s room, Brienne had calmed some and then asked to be alone, he had reluctantly left her in their room to mourn her father in private.  Not knowing what else to do with himself he made his way to Cersei’s old rooms, searching for answers.

How had she done it?  I had her locked away, she couldn’t have left her room to send a raven, and her servants are still yet locked away in the dungeons… the cage.  The bird cage had been empty.

Jaime walked over to the empty bird cage remembering how he had set it right after her death, he was certain it had held the bird, a raven that flew her murderous commands to Tarth, bringing about Lord Selwyn’s death. Knowing Brienne would leave for Tarth soon, he was determined to go with her, and he had already a dozen counter arguments in mind for her protestations.  He had set the affairs of Casterly Rock right, there were Lords and men he could trust to maintain the order they had set.  She needed to tend to her lands at Tarth, and see to her father’s funeral.  She would not do it alone.

Being in Cersei’s room felt like being in a crypt, it made him uncomfortable, his eyes kept wandering to the spot where her body had been, her white hands gripped to her throat, eyes bulging and red. He wanted to leave and return to Brienne, as he made his way to the door he spied a peculiar sliver of metal underneath a silken black cloth laid out on a dresser. Approaching the wooden dressing table there was no mistaking the golden metalwork of the hilt, lifting a corner of the fabric it confirmed what he suspected. Wrapped and deadly beautiful as he had remembered lay Oathkeeper.   His heart sank as it became clear she hadn’t cleaned the blood of poor Tommen from the blade.  Waves of conflicting emotions came over Jaime.  Relief that his gift to Brienne was not lost, bitterness with the memory of the sword when it had been given to him by his father, and sorrow for it being the instrument of Tommen’s death.  Kingslayer once more…

Wrapping the sword back in the cloth he left the room with it in hand.  He made it half way back to their chambers when a servant approached him. 

“Ser, your brother is at the gate.”

“Excuse me?” Jaime asked stupidly.

“Lord Tyrion, Ser.  He is at the gate.”  The servant replied.

Jaime couldn’t begin to imagine what would compel his brother's journey back to the Rock.  Certainly not the death of Cersei, both had never been close, in fact their relationship had been one of mutual tormenting, more so on his sister’s part than Tyrion’s.  It pained him to think of how horrid Cersei was to Tyrion when they were growing up; he was also ashamed that he had not done more to prevent her cruelties.  Brienne had suffered similar harsh treatments throughout her own life, he had not paused to protect her despite his better judgment, punishing those who insulted her was like a reflex he couldn’t help.  He smiled when he thought of the satisfying thud of his metal hand on Ser Ronnet’s face, the blow nearly knocking the man down the stairs, or the time he smashed the nose in of that idiot soldier in the camps. With Tyrion he had never had gut reactions to dispel Cersei’s bullying, instead he would wait until she was clear away, and later attempt to take away the sting with a small toy or kind word.

Tyrion was mounted on a handsome horse; on each side of him two grim fellows’ eyes darted about.

Most likely sellwords, Jaime thought. As their eyes met he couldn’t deny how glad he was to see him. Jaime smiled at his brother, his grin seemed to lighten Tyrion’s face some, and his expression became less somber. 

Jaime clasped Tyrion’s hand, and as his brother leaned forward, Jaime as he had done many times before embraced him in a hug helping him down from the horse.  It was a familiar gesture, one he had sorely missed.

“Brother,” Tyrion greeted Jaimie, simultaneously waving away his men, and without pause began to make his way towards the doors of the castle.  Jaime couldn’t help but be reminded of his father.  Although he was short in stature, there was no denying Tyrion had his father’s same sense of purpose in his stride.

Father…

Jaime had been surprised with news of his brother’s return to the rock, and so happy to see him again, that he hadn’t had time to think about what his brother had done.  

Something to be discussed over dinner…

 

A feast was set before them, roasted pheasants, root vegetables, an assortment of sauces and jellies.  Tyrion ate with a voracious spirit. The road had clearly given him a healthy appetite.  

“So? Where is this new bride I’ve heard so much about? I’ve heard she’s a beauty.” Tyrion gestured to an empty chair.

“Brienne had disappointing news of her father this morning. She will not be joining us.” Jaime sat back in his chair, swirling his wine.  He had noticed Tyrion had refused his own cup.  That was odd.

“And what of my wife?” Tyrion asked.

Jaime swallowed his wine and attempted to think of a measured response. “Lady Sansa has been confined to her rooms, I’m not sure if you’ve heard but Cersei was poisoned and killed, most certainly by Sansa’s hand.”

“And yet you let her live? Why?” If he seemed concern for his wife’s peril he did not illustrate it as he popped another small potato in his mouth.

“I swore an oath to the girl’s mother to keep her safe.” Jaime only shared the half of it with Tyrion.  He was still conflicted about what to do where Lady Sansa was concerned.  He did not want to upset Brienne, he knew that she and Sansa had become close during their time at Casterly Rock.

“She killed Cersei.  I find it hard to believe that simple words with our own enemies’ mother would have stopped you from opening her killer’s throat. What has happened to you?” Tyrion was testing him.

“I could still yet seek vengeance for another kin’s death.” Jaime challenged.

That seemed to give his brother pause, Tyrion set down his cutlery on his plate. “Yes, there is that.” Tyrion scratched at what remained of his nose. “If you plan to lock me away too, I would highly advise against it.” Tyrion sat back in his chair.

“You come here with two sellswords and make demands of me?” Jaime didn’t want their conversation to turn this way, but his brother was giving him little options.

“To be fair when I began my journey here I had twenty. Do you even realize how awful it is outside of your gates?” Tyrion asked.

“Somewhat.” Jaime prepared himself for the verbal lashing he could sense coming.

“Well the Riverlands are rampant with bandits I barely made it out of the region alive, they are hanging and killing at whim, lords, ladies, commoners, doesn’t seem to matter to them. The Northerners are still at war, only now it’s with each other.  Kings Landing is in ruin, I’ve heard several reports of cannibalism. And yet here you sit isolated on your Rock away from it all, gorging yourself on all sorts of delicacies and fucking a new wife.” Tyrion finished taking a sip of his water.

“Finished?” Jaime asked.

“Yes.” Tyrion wiped his mouth.

“I’ve missed you brother.” Jaime said.

“And I you.”  Tyrion responded.

Chapter Text

Brienne had eaten little and said less at breakfast, excusing herself she retired to their rooms, she was still grieving for her father and Jaime had let her be. When he did go to call on her, their quarters, the library and all her usual places were vacant.  Realizing she was nowhere to be found within the confines of the castle, he had a good suspicion as to where she might be.

Jaime stepped into one of the many outer yards; certain he would find her in the place that had been his favourite as a boy growing up at the Rock. The cold had lessened its icy grip on the day as the sun climbed higher into the sky.  There was a grey sky that loomed ahead in the distance, another snowstorm was on its way, as huge and dark as the sky was there was also a strange peacefulness about it.  Below the dramatic sky he saw Brienne, wearing a white tunic, the sun’s light shone down on her, she glowed like a flame set against the greys of the walls and the sky. Swinging her sword she yelled with every stroke and blow, the sounds of the thrashing against the practice dummy echoed off the stone walls surrounding her.

He sat back and admired her work as she brutalized the small wooden straw-filled man.  She wasn’t yet up to her full strength, but her movements were good if not a little slower, her blows were deadly accurate. As she chopped away at the dummy, bits of straw flew and floated into the air like a light snow.  The perspiration from her work showed through her tunic, her hair and skin glowed with it.  She was by no man’s imagination the idea of a beautiful woman, but to Jaime in that moment had never admired a woman’s form and figure.  He desired to be closer to her again.

Jaime grabbed a practice sword of his own and whistled to catch Brienne’s attention. Before turning towards him she landed another solid blow to the sword bitten dummy, nearly taking the head clean off.  The expression on her face pained was still bitten with grief.  Her blue eyes were sad and the whites red from crying, her face was flush with exertion, her wet hair lay plastered against her forehead.  Great plumes of breath came out of her with every exhalation.  As her eyes settled on his blade she simply nodded, welcoming the duel.

Jaime in truth wanted to grab her in his arms, comfort her, kiss her, and make love to her, but he knew she needed this more.  Sometimes there was nothing like the exhilaration of a good battle to clear the mind.

She came at him first, and hard.  Jaime blocked the blow, twisting to the right he forced her sword upwards.  She was obviously tired from practice, and perhaps recovering still from her wounds

I will be gentler...

As if knowing his thoughts Brienne grabbed him by his shirt, pulling him in close.

“Don’t you dare go easy on me, don’t insult me,” she finished her sentence by pushing his body away from her, she planted her feet, legs apart, her fingers tight on her hilt, ready in her fighters stance.

This time Jaime did he wife’s bidding. As tired and injured as Brienne was, Jaime couldn’t help but admire her skill and endurance.  She gave back as good as she received.  He also couldn’t help but be a little thrilled with his own performance.  The conscious thoughts he use to have to undertake when fighting with his left hand was beginning to ebb, his movements were becoming more fluid again, more like when he had his right hand. With a speed that surprised himself he managed to disarm Brienne, his blade went instinctively to her neck.

“I yield,” Brienne managed to choke out, as her right hand pushed his blade away from her neck, it was then he noticed the blood beginning to stain her shirt at her torso, she had reopened her wounds, he caught her in his arms before she could sink to the ground.

“I’m fine, just tired.” Brienne looked at him with an exhausted smile.

“There’ll be no more of this foolishness for awhile.” Jaime lifted her tunic to inspect the wound.  It didn't appear to be too serious, but he felt like an idiot for allowing her to fight him so veraciously.

.

Brienne nodded in agreement.  “Thank-you,”

He leaned his face towards her, his breathing just as heavy as hers and gently searched for her lips. When she pulled away she confessed, “Jaime I should have told you before you married me... I believe Sansa poisoned your sister, know that I will do everything in my power to protect the girl.”

“I know.” Jaime simply replied.

Brienne’s looked at him, her blue eyes pensive, “What does this mean for us?”

Although he hated the response it was the only one he had, “We’ll see.”

 

It was not the most comfortable supper Jaime had been party to. Across from him sat his brother, long missed and mysteriously returned, to his left sat the little Lady killer, murderess of his own twin sister.  Brienne sat to his right, silent as ever, when she had insisted that she was well enough to sit through a meal she had that look in her eye, the one Jaime now recognized was foolish to try and argue against.

Tyrion who in his old days was usually the life of a dinner table, full of anecdotes, japes and other witticisms, also sat silently, seemingly more interested in his venison pie than his dinner companions.  Then there was Sansa, she barely looked up from her plate, instead she moved her cutlery over her food, absently turning a carrot over and over again in her gravy.

“Well I suppose I will begin.” Tyrion broke the silence.

Brienne looked at Tyrion and then back to Jaime.

“May I ask why you have not answered the call from the Wall?” Tyrion asked Jaime.

“I couldn’t be sure that it was a legitimate message, in case you hadn’t realized there has been an abundance of duplicitous murders of late, you can’t trust the people beneath your own roof, let alone strange messages from afar.” Jamie answered back, deliberately cocking his head towards Sansa.

Jaime could sense Brienne’s glare on him, worst of all he could see Tyrion’s recognition of the exchange.

“Well what are your plans with my dear wife?” Tyrion asked.

All their eyes were on him now.

“I’ve not decided.” Jaime drank from his cup, hoping Tyrion would not press him. To his amazement it was the Stark girl who spoke next.

“You are an arrogant, murdering, disgusting man.” She said coolly.

“Sansa!” Brienne exclaimed. 

Jaime thankful someone was coming to his defence sat stupefied.  Tyrion paused from his eating, an amused expression on his face.

“He is responsible for so much misery.  Killed my brother, my mother, crippled poor little Bran!  Bedded his horrible sister and sired a sadistic monster!”  She then turned to him, fury and rage burning in her eyes, looking so much like Catelyn Stark. “You think because you rescued me you deserve any amount of happiness? What kind of life are you returning me to? I have none! It sickens me that you live.  You were supposed to die in the battle arena against Robert Strong and you were supposed to drink that poison too!” She stood up, her sudden movement throwing her chair behind her and it crashed loudly to the floor.

Sansa was breathing heavy, a few angry tears on her cheeks. 

“Jaime had no part in Catelyn or Rob’s death,” Brienne rested her hand on the girls arm. 

My defender, Jaime couldn’t help but admire his wife’s attempt.

Sansa turned her gaze to Brienne, “When are you going to open your eyes to what kind of man you have married?  He pushed an innocent boy out of a tower window!”

Brienne averted her gaze; she had no defence for that.

Tyrion who had not interjected once throughout Sansa’s outburst suddenly pushed his own chair away from the table, jumped off, and made his way towards Sansa’s overturned chair.  He picked it up and offered her to sit again. Sansa looked unsure, but reluctantly sat back down at the table.

“Truer words were never spoken at this table my dear.” Tyrion patted Sansa’s hand. “I find the honesty rather refreshing don’t you brother?”

Jaime attempted to maintain his composure.  He couldn’t disagree with what the girl had said, but he was shocked that she had also intended him to drink the poisoned wine as well.  The only reason he had allowed the girl to live is for the sake of Brienne, and for the vow he made to Catelyn Stark.  He had wished to have her answer for her crime somehow; he could almost hear his father’s voice in his head speaking about weaknesses and appearances. 

“Well, none of this matters.  Not when there is a common enemy at our door, actually no... through our door.” Tyrion continued, seemingly impatient with Jaime’s lack of response.  “My Queen has need of you brother, and from what I’ve observed your warrior wife too.”

“What are you talking about?  What Queen?” Jaime asked.

“Daenerys Targaryen, known as Daenerys Stormborn, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, really she collects names wherever she goes. It took some convincing, but she’s rather fond of me.  Not too fond of you I’m afraid.  She wants your head; I was able to convince her that we needed you.  Your armies here are some of the strongest in all of Westeros. I’ve attempted to lead armies, and it just never seems to work out in my favour.” He finished pointing to his nose.

“Oh yes, and I’ve faired so much better.” Jaime raised his golden hand.

“Jaime, please do stop with the modesty.  It does not suit you.” Tyrion replied.

“If we commit ourselves to the efforts of this Queen, she will forgive Jaime?” Brienne asked.

“My dear! I forgot you were here.” Tyrion joked as he turned his attention towards Brienne like she had suddenly just appeared in the room. “She is offering full pardons to all those who support the defence of the realm. When this battle at the Wall is finished, she would very much like a Kingdom to rule. This pointless fighting in the dead of winter needs to come to an end.”

“What if we refuse?” Jaime asked.

“If you refuse, you are all dead. If we lose, the entire realm will be destroyed by Wights, and Others.” Noticing their reactions Tyrion continued. “Oh they are very much real, and they are fucking terrifying. If we win against them without your aid, Queen Daenerys’ next stop will be Casterly Rock; she will be mounted on the back of one of her three dragons where she will commence with the incineration of the Rock and all that it contains, including you and your new wife.”

As amazing as Tyrion’s story was, Jaime could not see any deception in his brother’s story, his blood felt like ice water in his veins.

“We will also need your mother’s men my dear.” Tyrion turned to Sansa.

“What?” It was the girl’s turn to be stunned.

“Lady Cat...”

“Stoneheart.”  Brienne cut Tyrion off.

“Stoneheart has amassed quite a number of followers.  I lost most of my men to her cut throat bandits. We will need them too, and the able bodied men they are indiscriminately hanging.”

Brienne’s hand went to her neck with the memory, “The girl does not need to see that.”

“I can speak for myself... Brienne.” Sansa attempted to soften the edge of her words. “I will speak to my mother, but I have one condition.”

The three of them looked at the girl waiting for her condition...

“My Lord husband and I would like to retain the holdings of Casterly Rock for our own, when the fighting is done.” Sansa finally spoke.

 

Chapter Text

“And why in the Seven Hells would I agree to that?” Jaime could feel his anger building.

Brienne reached out to him placing her hand on his arm, an attempt to calm, or perhaps restrain him if he decided to fly across the table and strangle this insolent child.

If Sansa was rattled by his anger she did not show it. 

Jaime had never wanted to be Lord of Casterly Rock, had never cared about the title, the lands, or its holdings.  All he had ever wanted in his previous life was to be close to Cersei.  Perhaps there was a time in his younger days when he had also craved glory, but the death of Aerys had snuffed out those desires and hopes.  Then came Brienne, it had taken him stupidly long enough to realize the light she was for his dark miserable life. Now that the prospect of a real life with her lay before him, perhaps one with children, children he could openly claim as his own.  He did not want to give that up.

“No.” Was all Jaime could muster; he didn’t dare say more for fear of what would fly from his mouth.

“I will not speak to my mother.  Sorry.... husband.”  Sansa added the last word with hesitation, barely looking at Tyrion.

“You fools! Don’t you understand that these minor intrigues are meaningless?” Tyrion said passionately.  “We are all going to die, if we do not move, there will be no Rock to fight over!”

Unfazed by Tyrion’s proclamation Sansa said, “I will not speak to her.”

“Jaime,” Tyrion pleaded.

“Is this what you desire brother?” Jaime asked, keeping his voice low and even.

Tyrion bit his lips in thought, and then sighed.  “Do this Jaime, and that one debt between us... consider it settled.”

He thought of retorting, ‘I thought the death of our father was payment enough,’, but bit his tongue. Jaime knew Tyrion was referring to the loss of his first wife, the crofter’s daughter. Genuine guilt flooded through him with the thought of the events of that night.

“We have Tarth,” Brienne looked at him, her voice quiet. “I know it is nothing compared to Casterly Rock, but it could be ours.”

Her rock to the east, he had always wanted to see her home, and those famous beautiful blue waters, he’d always imagined them to be the colour of her eyes.  A place they could live, make it their own, raise a family.  No schemes or plots, a simple quiet honest life.  Nothing had every seemed so appealing.  

Let Tyrion and his red-headed Stark bitch have Casterly Rock and all the headaches and ghosts that come with it.

After some time Jaime finally spoke, “Fine, shall we drink on it?” he offered the pitcher to Tyrion.

“Water is fine.” Tyrion raised his glass and they drank sealing the deal.

“What is it with your abstaining from drink?  So unlike the little brother I remember.” Jaime asked.

“It was a condition made by my Queen.  She values my mind, and wanted it clear at all times.  It was difficult in the beginning, but I’ve managed.” Tyrion shifted in his chair slightly, setting his glass down on the table.

“When should we go?” Sansa asked.

“Soon, but first we need to gather provisions.  I understand you have quite a supply in the storehouses?” Tyrion turned to Jaime.

Jaime was irritated to think all the work he and Brienne had done, all the food supplies they had gathered was to be sunk into yet another army, heading into another war. It wasn’t that he disliked battle, in fact it was one of the few things he loved, but he didn’t like the feeling of being dragged into this one, he felt manipulated.  A feeling he most certainly did not like, but there was no sense dwelling on the inevitable. 

“My wife looks tired, we will be retiring.  Do what you need to do to prepare.”  Jaime rose from the table; reaching for Brienne’s hand they left the new Lord and Lady of Casterly Rock to their work.

 

Once in their chambers Brienne attempted to comfort him.  She wrapped her arms around him, holding him in her warm embrace. “Are you alright?” She asked.  When he failed to respond she continued. “I know that Tarth is a minor prize compared to this place...”

“Stop,” Jaime cut her off. 

She seemed taken aback by his curt response, to reassure her he wasn’t angry he set a gentle kiss upon her lips. As the kiss lingered he could feel his pulse quicken, and his excitement grow.  It had been days since he had lay with his wife and the kiss was opening up a dam of passion he had pent up inside.  He could feel her body responding to his, she wanted him too.

They began to undress each other, hurried and without care. Articles of clothing fell to the floor in a trail leading to the bed. He laid her naked body across the expanse of the bed, planting more kisses at her chest and neck. As he entered her she moaned his name which only fuelled his hunger for her more.  Her finger nails dug into his backside as he thrust into her, careful and gentle for fear of her newly healed injuries.  When he had finished he rolled over onto the bed, Brienne rested her head on his chest, her light breath tickling the hairs of his chest.

 It was such a warm feeling to lay with the one you love, no rush or hurry for fear of being caught…

Jaime kissed the top of his wife’s head and secretly hoped that his efforts would deliver him a son or daughter, a little warrior that they could both raise together at Tarth.

That is if we don’t die at the wall...

“I will have to go to Tarth before heading North.” Brienne interrupted his thoughts.

“I will go with you.” Jaime said.

“It would be more sensible for you to stay here, to gather your armies.” Brienne replied.

“I’m going with you.” He insisted.

“I could gather what men there are at Tarth. It makes no sense in dividing our efforts.”

Jaime could sense an argument brewing.

“You’ll need me.” Jaime braced for her indignation.

Brienne rose from the bed in a huff of anger, despite her glare, Jaime took the time to admire her exquisite body.  

“Explain why I would ‘need’ you, Ser.”

Gods she added ‘Ser’, I must of hit a nerve. Jaime thought to himself, repressing a smile, he knew a smirk would not help his cause. He had to try to reason with her, and perhaps hurt her a little with some hard truths.

“Have you lead armies My Lady?  Rallied men to a cause? Fought in a war? How well does it usually go for you when you need to gather and maintain the respect of men?” Jaime asked.

Brienne slunk back down to the bed, covering herself.

He had struck true.

“They respected my father, they will respect me.” Brienne said quietly.

“I’m counting on that.  We go together.” Jaime reached out to her, she was still stiff from the sting of his words, but as he caressed her, and kissed her she relinquished, and they made love again.

 

Chapter Text

They had spent weeks traveling south and then east; understandably Jaime had wanted to avoid Kings Landing. The Riverlands were not an option, much more tumultuous than the south, especially for a Lannister. There could be no complaints in regards to their accommodations as they travelled; they had plenty of food, a large comfortable tent, and other pleasantries that a Lannister was afforded during their trip.  They had set out with a contingency of fifty men, all selected for their skill at arms.  Jaime had not wanted to take any risks when he had learned of the harrowing travels Tyrion had endured. 

When they camped in the evenings, Jaime and Brienne always found time to exercise their sword arms.  He was insisting she hone her skills, especially for warfare combat.  She couldn’t argue with him.  Her routine usually consisted of weakening her opponent through sheer exhaustion.  This was a tactic more suited for a tournament, but would be dangerous and pointless on a battlefield.  As much as she had admired and was thankful for the training of Ser Goodwin her Master at Arms, she had to admit that she was learning much from her new husband.

It was astonishing how skilled Jaime had become with his left hand.  The speed and accuracy of his attacks were better than any man Brienne had ever fought against.  He must have been a true terror with his right, Brienne thought with a mix of sadness and pride.

Their duels during their journey towards Tarth were quick but numerous, the goal to end the other as quickly as possible. It had taken days to abandon her old routine, and she lost many rounds in the beginning, but now with practice as she learned and applied the new tactics Jaime taught her, she had managed to best him nearly as much as he bested her.  Although they never made a show of their duels, the clashing of their steel as they practiced never failed to draw in the spectators. Inevitably a soldier or two wanted to have a go at the ‘large woman who played at swords’, or the ‘one-handed Lord’.  When the mood struck, Brienne or Jaime would oblige them in turn.  Neither she nor Jaime could be beaten.

One night cuddled beneath a blanket of furs, Brienne whispered to Jaime, “These are some of your best fighters?”

“Yes. My Lady, why do you ask?”

“I’m not sure to be impressed with ourselves, or to be full of woe for our own army.”

Jaime had answered her with fits of laughter. Brienne furrowed her brow, failing to see the humour.

 

Brienne became more familiar with the land as they neared the eastern coast; she led them to a small fishing village that she was familiar with, securing a large fishing vessel they set sail for Tarth.  Before leaving Jaime had managed to arrange an agreement with the fishermen for future catches.  He requested that they salt and crate all that they could.  The amount of gold he paid them was obscene, even the captain of the ship tried to refuse, but Jaime had insisted. His mind was always on obtaining supplies for the winter, and the war they were about to enter.

The boat rocked violently in the storm, Brienne was never more conscious of her size than when she was in the cramped cabin of a ship.  Jaime had secured the captains quarters for them, humble and meagre as the little room was, at least it was warm and dry.  She thought of the poor men up top, cold, shivering and wet. Their dinner was left untouched, and poor Jaime was heaving into the bucket again.

It would appear my lion does not fare well at sea...  Jaime crawled back into the bed beside Brienne she rubbed his back and once she was sure he was settled, reached over him to throw the contents of the bucket out the window, she was grateful that the trip would be mercifully short.  If the storm let up they might even make it by dawn.

The captain was a true sailor, and Brienne could sense they were close as she stood the ship’s deck, her leather gloved hands gripping the railing. It was quiet and serene in the morning fog.  The still waters that lay before her a stark contrast to the violent sea that had tossed their boat around during their evening travel.  Her blue eyes searched for the coast of Tarth, she was eager to see the banks of the shore.  The fog thinned just enough for her to recognize the familiar shape of her home.  As they moved closer, the battlements and great drum tower were the first shapes she could spot of Evanfall Hall. She had for so long yearned for home, but knowing her father was gone made her return terribly bitter-sweet. She didn’t realize she was crying until Jaime came up to join her, he wiped away her tears with the warm palm of his hand, and held her close. She bent her head into his shoulder and allowed herself a few more silent tears.

“I’d like to say it’s as beautiful as I imagined, but I can barely see the blasted thing.” Jaime joked.

Grateful for his mirth, Brienne let out a small laugh.

 

The fog had cleared some as they approached Evanfall Hall by foot, Lannister red banners flying in the wind.  The drawbridge was raised and the gates closed, a guard from the battlements called down to ask their business.  Brienne realized how they must have looked.  A party of fifty was no match for any castle’s walls, but an unexpected visit from an enemy house would not exactly be welcomed.  Tarth was always isolated from most of the intrigues of the mainland and news reached its shores slowly. 

Brienne stepped forward to identify herself, hopeful that the guards on duty would be ones she knew.

“It is Brienne!” She shouted up at the men.

There was no response.  She waited a few minutes and looked to Jaime. He shrugged.

Thanks for the help husband.

She continued.... “I am the Lady of this castle and I demand you lower the bridge! Open the gates!”

She waited another minute and when there was still no response she prepared to bark more orders, before she could yell out the clanking of the chains lowering the drawbridge stopped her.  She was irked by their slow response, but did not want her return home to be spoiled by a sour mood.

She inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly.  Soon she would be within the walls of her home after being away for so long; she could rest in her room, lie in her bed, and eat from her kitchens. The more she thought about the things she had missed the more anxious she was to enter.  Once the drawbridge was lowered she and Jaime began to make their way across.  The gates opened and she smiled, desperate to see who had come to greet her. Her smile quickly vanished as she recognized the figure moving towards her.

Hyle Hunt.

 

Chapter Text

 “What are you doing here?”  Brienne was astonished that Hunt had stayed on at Tarth after her rejection of his proposal.

The man looked in much better health than when Brienne last laid eyes on him. She shivered at the memory of a coarse noose tightening around his throat, strangling the life out of him. She was glad he was not dead, but his presence at Evanfall Hall was baffling.

Hunt approached her, his arms outstretched in a welcome, he closed the space between them and without warning grabbed Brienne about the waist moving his face towards hers, Brienne couldn’t comprehend what was happening until his lips pursed in an attempt to kiss her.  The action incredibly awkward, as Hunt was a near a good head shorter than Brienne, his kiss meant for her lips landed clumsily at her neck.  She shoved him away as Jaime grabbed Hunt by the neck and shoulder landing a smashing blow to the side of his head. Hunt tumbled down to the ground, a look of utter confusion set upon his face.

“What in the Seven Hells do you think you’re doing? “ Jaime’s nostrils flared as he stood over Hunt.

Brienne’s mind felt numb, she was dumbstruck by Hunt’s actions.

Hunt still sitting on the ground spat blood beside him. “I was greeting my betrothed.”

“This is ... Hunt?” Jaime looked at Brienne.

Brienne still in mute shock nodded a reply.

“For your information Ser, you near assaulted my wife.  I should have you disembowelled.” Jaime looked like he meant his words, placing his hand on his hilt of his sword, a motion to drive the words home.

“Jaime, please stop.” Brienne said gently. Jaime turned to look at her, a strange expression etched on his face. 

“Did you not get my letter?  I refused your proposal.”

“I did not.” Hunt looked miserable and disappointed; Brienne couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor hedge knight. She extended her arm to help him up. He accepted and she pulled him to his feet with ease.

“It is good to see you are not dead.”  She knew it was a stupid thing to say, but she wanted to move them along inside, away from Jaime and his temper. Of all the ravens to have lost its way in delivering a message it had been her refusal of Hunt’s proposal. 

If only fate had been so kind in losing Cersei’s murderous commands.

When they had made their way inside the gate Hunt spoke “I apologize, M’Lady, I didn’t realize.” Hunt said as he rubbed his jaw.  Brienne turned to look at Jaime; his eyes were dark and smouldering.

It suddenly dawned on her that it could be a look of jealousy. She quickly dismissed the thought, and focused on the open courtyard of her home.  It was strange how small everything seemed to her now.  The main courtyard was less than half the size of the minor ones at Casterly Rock, she had never noticed the crumbled mortar, or cracked and stones.  She was glad to be home but couldn’t help but wonder what Jaime was thinking.

As they made their way into the hall she requested food for their men.   She was pleased to see that many of the servants had genuinely missed her; near all had beaming grins plastered on their faces at the sight of her, even a few embraces were shared, many offered condolences for her father’s passing. It touched her heart to hear the kind words.   Jaime was at her side, his expression no longer strange to her, he now carried a pleasant smile.

When they had finished their supper Brienne gave instructions for their party to be housed comfortably she placed her hand on Jaime’s and told him, “I wish to visit my father’s grave.”

“I’ll come with you,”

“No, I want to go alone.” Brienne looked at him apologetically.

“Of course,” Jaime kissed her; she couldn’t help but notice when her lips pulled away from his how his gaze was directed at Hyle Hunt who was sitting in the far corner of the hall a cloth pressed to his temple.

 

The graveyard was not far from the castle walls; her family plots were nestled underneath giant ancient trees a spot sheltered from strong winds, she could hear the sea waves crashing against the shore in the distance.  It was a peaceful spot, a place that she did not visit often as a child, being so young when she had lost so much, she didn’t feel the pull to sit and speak to the dead.  At the roots of the trees lay her older brother, two infant sisters, mother, and now a fifth grave, her father Lord Selwyn Tarth.  She knelt at the new rocky cairn and thought of her father, how she had stubbornly refused to marry despite his best efforts, how defeated he seemed when the few proposals she had fell away.  He died thinking he was the last... bitter tears fell from her face.  He had been a loving and kind man who had tried to do the best he could with a daughter such as herself. Brienne kissed her finger tips and patted the ground where he lay. 

 “Good-bye father.”

 

She was half way to the castle when she saw Hunt walking towards her on the path.

“Lady Brienne,” Hunt greeted her.

“What is it?” Brienne asked.  She wasn’t in the mood to converse with anyone, let alone Hyle Hunt.

“I need to speak with you, I wanted to explain myself, and I didn’t feel comfortable trying to have words with you in the company of your husband.  I don’t think he likes me much.”

“No he does not.” Brienne affirmed.

She felt like telling him to leave her be, but her curiosity forced her to bite her lip.

“Go on...”

“When Stoneheart released you, I hoped you would run away and never return, hoped you would run back home. I knew you wouldn’t do that though.  Knew you’d come back with that Lannister to get the boy.  Not me, but for the boy I knew you would.”  The mention of poor Podrick caused Brienne’s heart to ache. Hunt cleared his throat and continued. “I escaped the night you left; it was too risky to take the boy with me.  I’m sorry for that.  I was hoping to follow you, to find you, but the Queen’s men found me first.  She was searching for her brother, and for you.”

“Me?” Brienne was surprised.

“There was rumour that the Kingslay...”

Brienne grabbed Hunt by the throat and squeezed, “His name is Jaime,”

Hunt managed to choke out “Sorry M’Lady...ack... Jaime...”

Brienne let him go.

Hunt rubbed his neck, cleared his throat and continued, “There was a rumour that Ser Jaime was traipsing about in Riverlands with a giant lady knight, and well there was no doubting who that was.” Hunt smiled at her.

Brienne still annoyed with his Kingslayer comment refused to look at him.

“I mentioned that I might know who you were, and they took me back to the dungeons of Kingslanding.  They held me for days or weeks, months... I don’t even know.  The Queen finally came to my cell and asked me to request your hand.  She gave me gold to offer as dowry and arranged travel for Tarth, you could see it was an offer I could not deny.  Your father agreed and wrote to you, but we never heard back. When I saw you this morning at the gates I thought you were coming home to accept personally.”

Brienne couldn’t believe the lengths Cersei Lannister had gone to, all in an effort to separate her from Jaime.  She near succeeded... remembering that cold night where she almost bled and froze to death.

“There’s more...” Hunt continued. “The woman your father was with, she remains here in the castle.”

Brienne’s head snapped back.  How could I have been so stupid?  She had forgotten entirely about the woman who was in the Queen’s charge.  The woman who most likely was the instrument in her father’s murder was still here.  Brienne quickened her stride.

“M’lady what are you going to do?” Hunt hurried to keep pace with Brienne.

Brienne’s blue eyes flashed, “My father’s death will have the justice he deserves.” 

Chapter Text

She was surprised to find Jaime waiting at the gates, sharpening his blade with a whetstone. She had thought he would spend most of the day recovering from their harrowing sea journey.  He had slept little; the dark circles beneath his eyes were evidence of that.  His expression soured as he noticed Hyle Hunt trailing behind her. The glowering look he gave the man and the ferocity in which he dragged his blade across the stone were clearly intended to be silent threats, the shushing sound made by his actions echoed out beyond the drawbridge.

“Wife,” He greeted her as she strolled towards him across the bridge, an edge to his words.

“Husband,” She didn’t have time for his anger, and was anxious to find this woman.  She continued past Jaime and marched straight through the gates. Turning to Hunt she demanded, “Where is she?”

“You father’s quarters My Lady.” Hunt replied.  That piece of knowledge enflamed Brienne’s anger more.

She pushed her way past several confused servants, hurriedly making her way down the halls; climbing the curved stone steps towards her father’s rooms, she shoved open the door, the great oaken wood smashing against the stone wall, her hand on the hilt of her sword ready to unsheathe her blade.

The woman was stretched out in her father’s bed, a half eaten plum in her palm, at the sight of Brienne she clambered out and screamed, she threw the plum to the side, her hands flailing out in front of her face, an attempt to protect herself.  Brienne drew her sword making her way to the corner where the wretched woman was pressed against the wall.

The woman let out a scream as Brienne closed in, “No! I am with his child!”

Brienne with sword raised felt the fire go out of her, like someone had extinguished a torch.

The woman slid down the wall clutching her legs to her chest, her face a mess of tears and anguish. “Mercy! Please! Mercy!”

Brienne backed away towards the door, sickened by what she had almost done.  Hunt stood at the door wide eyed. Brienne pushed past him.  “I want her out of this room.  I do not care where, but I want her out of here!”

Jaime stood at the bottom of the stairwell, his bitter expression softened at the sight of her distress.

“Brienne what is it?” Jaime caught her in his arms as she clumsily climbed down the last few stairs.  Her eyes blurred with tears.

Brienne shook her head, unable to speak, he held her, shushing into her ear, “I’m here...  I’m here.”

 

She had wanted to be home for so long, and in her final few days at Evanfall Hall she found she couldn’t wait to escape the complexities of having her father’s murderer under her roof. Her vengeance stolen due to a little sister or brother trapped in the womb of that vile servant to Cersei.  Jaime had proven to be right in his insistence of coming along with her, and in her heart she was glad he had.  When she grieved as a girl in days past it had always been in solitude, it was strangely wonderful to have someone to soothe her with caresses and kind words. His comfort and affections were welcomed, but he had also proven to be helpful in organizing the men and supplies they needed in a scant amount of time. He commanded respect, and was a natural leader amongst the men.  Qualities Brienne admired in Jaime, and knew she sorely lacked.

When matters had been settled, they pushed away from Tarth with their small army. The waters were blessedly calmer on their journey back to the mainland, and Brienne was thankful for Jaime’s sake.  She watched her home vanishing in the distance, wondering if it would be for the last time.  

If we die at war, there may yet be an heir... Brienne said a prayer to the Mother, hoping the child within the womb would be strong and healthy.  A prayer that Evanfall Hall would have a son to carry on, bastard or not, he would have the best claim, and the babe was an innocent in the ugliness created by Cersei Lannister.  With Jaime beside her she found the prospects of war and whatever may face them all the more surmountable, he squeezed her hand tightly, and she returned his affections with a gentle kiss.

 

There was a war to fight, and if Tyrion’s words were to be believed, they had little time to organize themselves in defense of the realm. They had been making good and steady progress north; within a few days they hoped to meet on the fields outside of Riverrun.  If all had gone well with Sansa she may have been able to quell the rebels of the Riverlands, and perhaps if luck was with them, convince them to join the cause.

The weather had decidedly turned colder and more tumultuous since leaving Tarth, where once they could expect a snow every third day, there seemed to be a storm daily.  One morning it stormed so badly they were forced to halt and set up camp midday, the sun completely darkened by grey clouds, the blustery wind created a veil of snow so thick Brienne could scarcely see the tent set up next to theirs.  Inside she spied the canvas of the tent blowing so violently she was afraid it would not stand.  Naked as her name day she curled up under the furs with Jaime, feeling a little guilty for the others who were alone in their own tents. 

“There is something I’ve been meaning to give you,” Jaime whispered to her. His breathe deliciously tickling the hairs at her neck.

Brienne looked at him with questioning eyes, as he grabbed her gift from beneath their bed, he laid it between them on top of the furs, and it was wrapped in a dark velvet cloth.  Her breath caught in her throat, and her heart beat quickly.  She lifted the cloth with her finger tips, knowing in her heart what it was before her eyes could look upon it.  Oathkeeper...

How?” She asked, her eyes not moving from the strange beautiful weapon.

“It is your sword Brienne, much more than it was ever mine.  I want you to have it back.”

“No, this is your sword.  I have the Sapphire Star.” Brienne insisted.

“I want you to take it, when you wield it, it will be like I am with you.” Jaime kissed her sweetly on the lips, extinguishing any of her arguments.

“You must take my sword then.  I would like to believe that I am with you too, whatever may happen.”

Jaime smiled back at her, seeming to like the idea.

“There is something else. I hope you like it.”  His green eyes seemed uncertain. 

“Jaime its freezing!” Brienne protested, as he climbed from the warmth of their bed. As much as she had urged him not to leave their bed, she could help but enjoy the reward of his naked muscled form. Gods he is a beautiful man…

From the far corner of their tent he pulled a cloth off a large shield and held it before her.  On the shield painted in the azure and magentas of her house a large blue lion of Lannister lay central, surrounded by white moons and yellow star bursts.

Brienne stared at the shield for a long time, admiring the crest.

“Well do you like it?” Jaime asked. “Speak quick woman! It’s cold!”

“I do. It is very well done” Brienne's voice broke with emotion, her words felt woefully inadequate.

“Thank the Gods you like it.” Jaime unceremoniously dropped the shield and hurried back into bed.

Brienne shivered as his cold skin pressed against hers. They wrapped their arms around each other, tenderly kissing, willing the cold away.

“I want to have banners made.” Jaime said smiling.

Brienne played with his hair in her fingers. “I think that is brilliant Jaime.  I was afraid you would be disappointed with Tarth.”Disappointed with me...  She was afraid that her meager home wouldn’t be enough for him, she knew she made a strange wife, one who others surely pitied him for, but at least he had had Casterly Rock.  Stripped of his title, she couldn't help but feel guilt and regret for his diminishment in the eyes of others, it was a thought she had felt burdened with since Sansa had negotiated his home away from him.

Jaime sat up, his green eyes flaring with anger. “You and Tarth are not a minor prize. I will not have you disparaging it, or yourself.” Jaime’s eyes narrowed on hers, “Never speak ill of our home or of yourself in my presence again.”

Brienne nodded, and in an attempt to quell his anger she reached for him, pulling him towards her.  When their lips met she could feel the rigidness caused by the flare of his temper. Brienne desperate to take them back to the sweet place they had been, to show him what his words meant to her, pulled him in closer, kissed him harder, opened her mouth more and accepted his tongue heartedly.  

She pressed back with as much force as he delivered; her hands went to the sides of his face, fingertips brushing the scruff of his unshorn beard. In their love making Jaime had always been the aggressor, building her quiet passion as if stoking a fire, enjoying her as the flames of her desire grew with each kiss and caress he delivered.

Brinne firmly but gently pushed him down as she maneuvered her naked body on top of him.  She had never been so brazen as to make love to him this way, she did her best to ignore the feelings of doubt growing inside her, and she forced her eyes to watch his drink her in. The expression he wore was one of surprise, as she guided his cock inside her, his surprised grin dissolved, he bit his lip, closed his eyes and threw his head back, the apple of his throat rising and falling with each inhalation and exhalation. Brienne quickened her pace; he lifted his head up to watch her as she rode him, finding she no longer cared that his green eyes were drinking in her naked form. Jaime’s left hand squeezed her thigh, willing her to slow.  Brienne refused, enjoying having this control over his pleasure.  She moved her hips faster, and it felt like a sweet victory as she brought him to completion.  She kissed him on the mouth, catching his breath as he exhaled, and rolled to his side.

“Did you like that My Lord?” She smiled shyly, knowing full well the answer.

“I can’t see straight, give me a minute woman.” Jaime whispered hoarsely.

Brienne’s grin widened as she rested her head in the crook of his shoulder and neck, enjoying his satisfaction she closed her eyes and listened to the storm wail outside.

 

Chapter Text

“This is madness,” Brienne said her words edged with frustration, the wind whipped at the few strands of hair un-tucked from her scarves, pale short tendrils flying around her fur lined cowl. She stood beside him statuesque in her winter garb. Dyed woolen blues, and light grey fur.  Jaime had to admit she looked magnificently steely and fierce, remarkably so, with Oathkeeper at her hip.

The storms had not lessened, and they were days behind when they had hoped to meet at the rendezvous point with Tyrion, and his armies.

“If they are marching against the same weather as we, they will be delayed as well,” Jaime tried to hide the annoyance he was feeling too.  He had this itch in his guts like there was a fight going on, and he was missing out.  They were well provisioned, but their supplies would not last forever, having his armies freeze and starve to death would be not a good beginning for the Lannisters of Tarth, not a historic detail he wished any maester recording for posterity.

The army they had managed to raise at Tarth was an eighth the size of what he was sure Tyrion could gather from the Westerlands but they were good hardy men, not war torn or starved.  Jaime hoped that they would not be too green, it was difficult not knowing the strengths of his men and he had little time to learn, there were scant occasions when the storms did let up, allowing them to perform drills, and practice at sword play.  It seemed that as Brienne became more comfortable amongst the men at camp, her abilities as an instructor began to shine; she had patience he lacked when instructing, she gave praise more readily, but never undeservedly. He couldn’t help but admire the effect her training was having, and in turn the respect it was garnering her amongst their troops.

Finally after four days the cold seemed to lessen and the snow stopped its relentless fall.  The respite from the storms allowed them to pick up camp and march north again. Brienne rode beside him, silent and resolute, he felt stronger having her by his side. 

 

On the third day of their trek a group of riders greeted them, the banners a bright pop of Lannister red against the snowy blanket on the ground. There was no mistaking the small figure of his brother mounted atop his horse. 

“Thought we’d come and meet you brother.  Are we done playing in the snow?  I do believe we have a war to fight,” The sight of his brother, and hearing his jovial spirit warmed Jaime greatly.

In the evenings they talked strategy, Tyrion gave them invaluable knowledge of the strange enemy they were about to face.  One night Tyrion had a crate brought in their tent, he invited Jaime to open it.  Inside was a large quantity of dark dragon glass sharpened, and fashioned into various lengths of daggers. 

“One of the few weapons we know to be effective, that and fire.” Tyrion reached in and pulled out a dagger, handing it to Jaime. “This is all we can spare for your men.”

“This amount will only be enough to outfit one in fifty.”

“The others will have torches, lanterns, fire. Everyone must have fire.” Tyrion’s mismatched eyes looked severely at Jaime, an effort to make sure this point was understood.  He added, “And burn your dead.  Always burn your dead.”

Jaime handed Brienne the dagger. “I will let you decide which men get these.” 

Brienne nodded.

Their travel north would be much shorter than Jaime had thought.  The enemy horde was last reported seen at the Neck. 

“That far south?” Brienne asked in amazement.

“I’m afraid so My Lady.” Tyrion said.  “Although it might be to our advantage, they will be funneled in and we will be like a wall blocking them from heading further south.  The Northmen are exhausted, they have been fighting long and tirelessly, but they are scattered and hunkered in defensively now.  Our enemy still persists and is moving south.”

“Where is your queen and her forces?” Jaime asked.

Our queen, you better prepare to kneel now Jaime, if you wish to keep that pretty little head.”

“Well where is she?” Jaime pressed the question.

“She will sail in with her forces across the bite.” Tyrion answered, “We push in from the south, and she from the north.”

“A trap.” Jaime added.

Tyrion nodded.  “It will be the only and best chance we will have at stopping them.”

“Who else do we have?” Brienne asked.

The real question she wants answered is about Sansa and Stoneheart...

 “It was a strange reunion, but Lady Sansa was able to convince her mother to not kill us.  Some of Stoneheart’s Brothers agreed to join us in our efforts, mostly for the promise of one hot meal a day.  I was also able to round up the help of a few mountain tribes.  Strange as it may seem I do have connections there.”

“Any other noble houses?” Jaime asked.

“The Tyrells have sent some men, mostly provisions.”

Any whiff of opportunity and you’ll find a Tyrell.  Jaime thought with bitter amusement.

“Well we will need to rest, tomorrow we march.” Tyrion made his way from their tent, stopping briefly before exiting.  “Oh and My Lady Brienne, Sansa asked that I give this to you.” Tyrion removed a scroll from the inside of his vest, and handed it to Brienne.

“Thank-you, Ser.” Brienne took the scroll from him.

“You know brother; she really has changed you for the better.  Here’s hoping we have more time to enjoy the improvement.  Goodnight.”

“Goodnight brother.” Jaime smiled at Tyrion, pleased at the kind words directed towards his wife.

Tyrion nodded to them both, and left them alone.

As Brienne read Sansa’s he could not discern her expression. “Sansa has released us on behalf of her mother; our service to her is complete.  She even wishes us luck in battle.”  Brienne seemed relieved, but there was an edge of concern there as well. “What of the younger girl?”

“She’s most likely dead Brienne, and they know that.  Let it go.  They have.” Jaime did his best to say the words gently.  In his heart he couldn’t help but think dark thoughts of the Stark women. If they did live through this war family gatherings were going to be awkward to say the least. 

 

In the morning before their march Brienne had selected the men she thought would make best use of the dragonglass.  Jaime couldn’t help but notice she had given one to Hyle Hunt.  The presence of the man irked Jaime to say the least; he caught him looking at his wife far too often for his liking.  If we live through this I’ll be damned if he returns to Tarth.

 

From the hilltop they had an easy view of their ally armies gathered just before the Twins, a most bizarre assemblage of banners.  Banners he had fought both with and against in less than a year’s time.  Sigils of every color from across the entire realm could be seen, northerners and southerners alike converged together, about to meet a common enemy.  His brother had chosen wisely, this spot forced the enemy to narrow.  They could win this.

“Jaime,” Brienne grabbed his attention, and pointed in the distance.

Faster than any weather Jaime has ever witnessed, a dark cloud rolled in, followed by a bitter blast of cold wind.  The Twins in the distance disappeared behind a shroud of snow. They were well away from the castle, but even from their vantage they could hear the screams of the Frey’s within.

Chapter Text

Thousands of great braziers were lit like giant torches, a multitude of orange dotting the hillside.  Fire was their greatest weapon if Tyrion was to be believed.  He had advised them both to stay near it. There were multitudes of torch bearers, standing at the ready to light the enemy corpses.

Archers from every army stood at the ready the ends of each shaft burning with flame, waiting for the command to let their arrows fly. They had the appearance of fireflies in a misty glen; the tips of the lit arrows flickering.  If it wasn’t for the horrible pit of dread in her stomach Brienne could almost admire the beauty of the scene before her. 

The sounds of the screams coming from the Twins had been horrifying, but what was far worse was the quick silence that followed.   She had expected to hear the clash of steel on steel or the occasional battle cry from within, anything to indicate that men inside had stood a chance against these foes; there had not been nothing, not a single body emerged to flee. The castle remained as quiet as a tomb.

The snow reached them, small gentle flakes at first, as the wind picked up they become hurried and more numerous, quickly turning into sleet, cutting into the exposed flesh of her cheeks like tiny daggers, Brienne looked to Jaime; his beard was already beginning to clump with ice. He looked at her, sensing her gaze, his green eyes were hard and fierce, but softened as he looked upon her. Brienne felt reassured having him by her side, a small comfort came knowing he would be the one to burn her body if she fell.

The horn blew three times signaling the arches to loosen their arrows. On what Brienne didn’t know, she could now barely see Jaime standing beside her.  The once bright arrows seemed dim as hundreds of thousands were let loose into the stormy sky, disappearing as soon as the archers let them fly.  She couldn’t see if any made their mark, but a deafening shriek from the frosty depths of the storm affirmed that some of the arrows had struck true.  

Your back is south, keep your back south, she repeated over in her mind.  It would be too easy to get disoriented in this mess.  She could hear men fighting and dying all around her, there were droves of men running by her, too terrified to stand their ground. Brienne stood hers.  She couldn’t see her enemy, but she could feel its presence.  The air grew colder still, each inhalation painful and sharp. Finally she could make out the form of something to hit, it moved slow, much too slow for a deserter, when it came closer Brienne’s mind could barely comprehend what her eyes were seeing.   A man with the lower half his face missing and blue eyes the colour Brienne had never seen before, dim, cold and dead came at her, a giant axe in its hand. Brienne separated the arm of the dead thing clean away with her first strike, it had little effect and did not stop. It attempted grab her with its remaining appendage, Brienne swung upwards removing its other arm, on her downswing she decapitated the creature, its head rolled away in the snow.  Before she could relish her victory another appeared, this time a woman, her eyes also the same vapid shade of blue.  Brienne hesitated, but only for an instant.  She had never killed a woman, although she had come close to at Tarth.  Separating the head seemed to work best; she delivered the blow cleanly and prepared for the next enemy.

 

Oathkeeper had served her well, the blade felt warm in her hand, Brienne had lost count of how many of the creatures she had vanquished, and they lay all about her like felled trees. With every step she took she near stumbled over frozen corpses and yet they kept coming.  She didn’t know which way was south anymore, and she didn’t have a sense of where Jaime was, which distressed her the most; she pushed thoughts of him away, least they distract her.  All that remained was snow, corpses, and the hints of men fighting that would occasionally cut through the howling winds.

 Blessedly a warm orange glow of one of the torch bearers emerged from the murky grey darkness; he went to work quickly, lighting the bodies she had slain. 

 “Boy!” She called to him, he stopped, seemingly shocked to hear a woman’s voice. The little lad could be no older than two and ten, sadly she thought, So much like Podrick...

 “Any sign of Ser Jaime?”

“The Kingslayer?” Brienne cringed at the name, but ignored it and simply nodded.

“Just finished with his lot, he had almost as much as you!” The boy grinned.

Brienne beamed, the grimness leaving her heart for just a moment. “Thanks.”

The boy shrugged and went back to his duties; he leaned over to burn another corpse, and then something peculiar happened.  His flame weakened, like an invisible fist was closing around it, it sputtered and extinguished.  He looked at the torch, and to Brienne.  She could feel her heart beating rapidly in her chest, the hairs on the back of her neck raised, and it felt like all the warmth in her body fled, a feeling of icy cold dread that she had not felt since she near froze to death at Casterly Rock.  Over the boy’s shoulder a figure taller than her emerged from the storm, its body tall and elegant, with long white hair that lashed about its face in the wind, its eyes the same haunting colour as the other dead things did not shine dim, but bright with a chilling intelligence, in its hand it held a sword, appearing to be made out of glass.  The thing shrieked raising its weapon to cut the boy down, the lad stood frozen in place.  Brienne did not, sword in hand she ran to greet it.

 

Chapter Text

Despite the blistering cold, his muscles were warm from the work of the unrelenting fight.  The dead creatures came at him in slow droves, steady and without pause. He moved with fluidity and grace, hacking their heads away with lyrical precision.  He had discarded his shield long ago; the thing riddled with blades of all sizes, swords of fine castle steel, to the lowest crude metals were all stuck in its wood, the shield had become too heavy to carry, and he had little time to pull out each stuck blade.  There were dead knights from every house of Westeros, some sigils Jaime recognized, others he did not.  There were knights from noble houses, many commoners, men, women and children, there were also wildlings, and men of the Night’s Watch, all unified in an unending march of the dead.

A dead Knight wearing a sigil of House Brax came at him...

Can’t mistake that garish purple unicorn, I think I may have bested this one at a wedding tourney... Jaime thought as he cleanly severed the things head from its body, he couldn’t help but notice the comical effect the head had gathering snow as it rolled. 

The dismembered head stopped at the foot of a young boy carrying a torch, he recovered from his surprise, and quickly remembering his duties returned to his work lighting the head on fire. 

 Brave lad...

One of the corpse’s hands grasped at the poor boys ankles; he dropped the torch in surprise.  Jaime rushed to his aid, chopping off the things head.  “So sorry, guess I missed this one.” Jaime grinned apologetically. He sheathed his sword to pick up the fallen torch.  “Don’t lose this.” He patted the young man on his shoulder with his golden hand.  The boy went wide eyed at the sight of it.  After all this time, there were still moments when Jaime forgot about his hand, the shock and flinch always served as reminder.

“Continue about your work,” Jaime handed the torch back to the boy.

“Yes Ser.” The boy took the torch and disappeared into the storm, the glow of his torch slowly fading away.

Brienne where are you?

Jaime had last seen his wife before the storm hit.  Her blue eyes alert and ready, if she was fearful he could not tell.  She is a warrior, more capable than any knight I’ve known.  That thought was the only thing keeping his feet in place, keeping him from running into the snow and blindly shouting her name.

The burning bodies scattered about him seemed to repel the advancing attack of the dead creatures, using the time he had Jaime surveyed the scene around him, the fire would not last long and he knew he would have to be ready for the next wave. 

There was a loud crunch in the snow near him, something much larger than a man’s footsteps.  Like a great breath over a candle the fires of the bodies flickered and died.  Jaime could feel a chill come over him, thick and unpleasant.  From behind him a thunderous roar shook Jaime to his core.  

Not a fucking bear... was Jaime’s first reaction as he turned to spy the great dead beast, its grizzled fur was patchy, loose and hanging, half its rib cage exposed. The thing that sat atop the bear was far worse. Its strange face was opalescent, terrifying and beautiful at the same time, cold blue eyes glared at him contemptuously, it raised its strange glass sword, and without command the bear charged at Jaime.

Jaime turned and ran leaping over fallen corpses as he went, gripping the Saphire Star in his left hand, not sure what use it would be, he was fairly certain that chopping of a dead bears head off would not be quick work.  He ran hoping that the creature’s speed was sluggish, like the frozen dead men he had been cutting down.  Where the fuck is that boy?

Luck was with him, he could see the glow of one of the braziers ahead of him, inside lay the torches meant for the boys burning the corpses.  He sheathed his sword and managed to pull a torch out of the fire just as the bear swatted at his head sending him and the torch flying into the snow. Jaime lamented as he heard the audible hiss of the fire being extinguished in the cold white banks.  He attempted to scramble to his feet but the bear was on him, letting out another ferocious roar, Jaime with a prayer on his lips grabbed his sword and shoved it upwards through the bottom of the bears chin, the blade sunk through the mangled fur and flesh, the bear waivered and then collapsed on its side, pinning Jaime’s legs beneath it.  Jaime let out an agonizing cry as the weight of the giant creature crushed him.

The bear’s strange rider was thrown into the snow, its sword flying from his hands as it crashed to the ground.  Jaime attempted to pull his sword from the bear’s skull, but the position he was in was awkward, and the sword would not budge.  The tall rider picked up its own ice sword from the snow and walked towards Jaime, its intentions to kill him as he lay trapped.  Jaime struggled, cursing as he fought frantically to loosen his sword, giving up he attempted to grab his dragon glass dagger at his hip.  It was too late…

The tall ghostly figure raised its sword… Jaime looked to the sky, closed his eyes and prepared for death, thinking of Brienne…

A piercing horrendous shriek jolted his eyes open, the otherworldly thing still standing above him with raised sword had an angry and ferocious expression, suddenly its body shattered into many shards, like a fragile looking glass smashed before him.  Behind the falling fragments stood Hyle Hunt, dragon glass gripped in his hand, as if he had just stabbed an invisible foe. 

As much as he hated the man Jaime thanked the Gods Brienne saw fit to give the wretch a dragon glass dagger.  Hyle Hunt stood in place, a surprised expression set on his face.

“Do you mind?” Jaime motioned for Hunt to help him with lifting the bear carcass.

Hunt pulled from his stupor moved to Jaime’s side knelt beside him and attempted to lift the bear off of him with his shoulder.  With their combined efforts Hunt managed to lift the bear as Jaime wiggled free.

“Get a torch,” Jaime commanded Hunt as he tested the strength in his legs, measuring the severity of his injuries. He didn’t feel anything alarming.  Placing one foot on the neck of the bear he lifted his sword that was still stuck in its head.

Hunt returned with a blazing torch and lit the bear, when finished he took a drink from his flask, offering it to Jaime, who gladly accepted.

 “Why did you help me?” Jaime finally asked.

“For her,” Hunt replied.

Chapter Text

Brienne ran to meet the blow with her sword before it could smash into the helpless boy.  She gritted her teeth as she used all her strength to block the downward swing. He shoulders and back screamed in protest as she held the enemies blade at bay.

“Move!” She yelled to the child, she didn’t dare take her eyes from the white creature grimacing at her, she could sense the boy moving away. Giving her clearance to move her blade.

It was strange to be blocking a swing from an opponent so much taller than herself; the muscles in her arms and shoulders began to shake as she held Oathkeeper in place, pushing against its attack.  The sound wasn’t the familiar screech of steel on steel, but a cold hollow resonating clinking, like the sound of ice cracking. Using the strength in her legs Brienne forced the creature’s blade up and away from her, it snarled back at her.  With a grunt she pushed it back. It seemed startled by her strength.  Collecting its footing the creature came at her. Impossibly the air felt as though it grew colder.

Their blades struck each other’s in frenzy, over and over, the sound of cracking ice with each strike their sword connected. The thing was remarkably quick for its size, especially in comparison to the dead lumbering men she had been fighting.  She desperately wanted to reach for her dagger, to stab it in the neck and end it quickly, but the ferocity and speed of its attacks would not allow her a moment.  It was all she could do to defend herself from each of its strikes.

The attacks she landed on its armor seemed to have no effect, yet with every blow landed upon her she flinched in pain. Forcing the pain aside Brienne focused on her attacks, she would not lose.  Her eyes narrowed to a point of weakness at its neck, an opening in its armor that revealed its milky white flesh.  Brienne sliced the spot with her sword, the creature hissed in rage, stumbling backwards shocked by its injury.  Brienne doubtful she would have the opportunity again seized her dagger and plunged it into the creatures face.  The blade sunk into its cheek, and shockingly it dissolved into a thousand shattered fragments at her feet.

The boy let out a yelp of victory, he had not ran far away from the battle starred at her in wide-eyed amazement.  “Who are you?” He grinned.

“Brienne Lannister of Tarth,” was her breathy reply.

 

The horde of dead soldiers had thinned. Compared to the battle with the white creature, they were relatively easy work.  The boy stayed by her side, still carrying his extinguished torch, she walked beside him, heading to one of the braziers to recover his fire. She had witnessed the frightening effects the tall otherworldly creatures had on flame, and she was hesitant to leave him at all.

 “The fire is this way My Lady.” The boy pointed into the swirling white wind.

Brienne was amazed the lad could navigate his way through the storm riddled battle field.  All around her were the corpses of the fallen, blood of every shade from deep crimson red to garish pinks painted the snowy ground.  The burnt remains of thousands of corpses left a repulsive smell that Brienne was afraid would never leave her.

“How can you know we are heading in the right direction?”  Brienne asked.

“I remember lighting that one on fire,” the boy pointed to a blackened corpse with his extinguished torch, “but before him I remember lighting that one on fire,” he said pointing to another.  Brienne failed to see the difference between the lumps of human charcoal.

In a scant amount of time, the boy’s retracing of his footsteps had proven true as they spied the glow of the giant brazier fire. 

Brienne’s heart quickened upon recognizing two familiar figures standing by the fire sharing a flask between them. The man to the left held her attention the most, her eyes blurred and his form became hazy.  She didn’t call out to him; she had to be sure her hopes were not false.

It is him!

“Jaime!” She yelled,

He turned, his eyes lighting up at the sound and sight of her, Jaime broke into a limping run towards her.  They collided, armor clanking as they smashed into each other, firm in his embrace Jaime planted kisses all over her face and lips, and she laughed like a maiden, embarrassed by her giddiness.

“Gods it’s good to see you,” He said, holding her face in his hands, the gold one cold against her cheek.

“You as well,” Brienne said, her voice shaky with the realization of how frightened she had been.  She had not allowed herself to dwell on losing him in chaos of the battle.  “Jaime…” She whispered. Her words were cut short by his passionate kiss.  His arms remained around her tightly, like he was afraid she would vanish into the snowy windblown sky. 

The sound of three horn blasts pulled them apart.  The first two blasts were short, followed by one lingering haunting note.  It was the signal that the dragons were coming.  They would be here soon, swooping in from the north and burning the fields, and everything that lay upon it, living or dead. They needed to turn south and with haste.

“Brienne, I can’t run,” Jaime looked at her firmly. “Go.”

“No.” Brienne was shocked he would suggest she leave him.

“Dammit, woman! Leave me!” He shouted at her.

Brienne ignoring Jaime calmly turned to Hyle Hunt.  “Take the boy south, move as fast as you can, do not stop until you reach the forests!”

“He’s right, come with us,” Hyle pleaded with her.

“I’m not leaving him,” Brienne said, her voice stern.

“Brienne please,” It was as close to begging as she had ever heard Jaime Lannister come.

“No.” She said sternly.  “Move, Ser Hyle.”

Hunt seeing that she would not budge grabbed the boy by his shoulder and moved south, they quickened their pace, and soon they were gone from her sight, disappearing into the snow.

“You stupid, stubborn wench,” Jaime hissed at her.

“Our last moments together and you would have them be a petty argument?” Brienne countered, and added, “we are not dead yet.”  Brienne slung her arm around Jaime to support his weight as they too made their way south.  She knew it was hopeless as droves of living men scrambled past them.  They were far too slow.

A screech so ferocious rang out from the sky, so terrifying Brienne nearly dropped Jaime to cover her ears.  To her right the ground erupted in flames, followed by the sounds of men screaming in agony as they burned alive.

Brienne looked up to the sky, her eyes saw the brief shape of a black wing and tail as it disappeared into the clouds above.  Her breath caught in her throat, for a brief moment she was once more the young girl who curled up with books at her window. She rejoiced at the realization of what she had just seen.  Brienne felt strangely at peace, knowing she could die happy, she held the man she loved in her arms, she had fought bravely on the battlefield for a noble cause, and she had seen a dragon.

Chapter Text

“Brienne, was that?”

“Yes,” She was smiling with abandon, a genuine beaming, and beautiful grin that was so rare upon her face.  For a moment Jaime admired the smile, forgetting the fiery carnage that surrounded them. Her smile disappeared as she choked on a billow of thick smoke rolling in upon them.

“We’re not dying here.” Jaime limped forward.  He was cursing himself for so glibly thinking his injuries weren’t serious.  He had not wanted to show weakness in front of that dolt Hyle Hunt. He was incensed with the situation they found themselves in.  To survive the battlefield against frozen un-dead corpses, bloody bears, and freakish ice giants, only to be burnt to a crisp by fucking dragons? I refuse.

Jaime scoured the field with his eyes, searching for suitable shields, something to cover them from the flames if the dragon should swoop down upon them again.

“Here,” Jaime pulled a large shield from the ground, an arm still attached. Ripping the appendage free he tossed the shield to Brienne. He then scanned the ground for another. Jaime was uncertain as to how much time they had until the dragon made another pass.

The frozen tempest was clearing, and the snow had stopped, but their vision was now impaired by several large plumes of smoke left from the dragon’s fires.  He heard a colossal swooping noise, and another roar from the terrible beast.  He grabbed Brienne pulling her down to the ground and covered their bodies as best he could with the shield.  He held it in place as best he could, making sure Brienne was covered.

“I love you,” He said wrapping his arms around her in a protective embrace. She looked at him and nodded, her magnificent eyes spoke volumes. Jaime felt at peace knowing he had the love of such a woman.

From above them came another soaring screech followed by a great wave of heat washing over them.  It was as if the air was scorched out of his lungs as the fiery breath engulfed them both. The shield became unbearably hot for his hand, and fight as he did he couldn’t hold on to the shield any longer.  His gold hand remained in the metal strappings; Jaime prayed he could maintain his grip.  As quick as the dragon’s fiery blasts had come, it also left. 

“Jaime! Your leg!” Brienne exclaimed in between a coughing fit.  She went to work patting away at his legs, putting out the flames.

“Are you alright? Jaime that was brilliant!” She exclaimed.  “Here let me take that.” Brienne reached for the shield.

“I can’t.  I think the blasted thing has melted to my hand.” Jaime thought with measured amusement.  His golden hand had been the thing that saved them.

Their elation was brief.

“We need to move,” Jaime carried the shield as Brienne supported him with her shoulder.  They dragged themselves through the burning field, in the near distance they could see a line of trees, a safe place where the dragons would not burn. To his left Jaime saw the terrifying yet graceful black beast flying away from them, it curved high into the air, and turned suddenly, it was going to make another pass over them.  They were so close to the tree line, but he feared not close enough.

“My Lady!” A man shouted as he ran towards them, Jaime recognized the soldier, as being one of the men they had brought from Tarth.  He positioned himself on Jaime’s right the shield still melted to his hand draped clumsily over the man’s shoulder; together the three of them sprinted towards the safety of the woods.  He could feel the heat on the back of his neck as the dragons wailed and torched the fields again. Through the parting veils of gray smoke Jaime could see the carnage that had been done to the battlefield.  No one could have survived it, and anyone that did he pitied. 

Within the woods the survivors of the battle watched the scene together in awe.  As the smoke cleared in the distance he could see the silhouettes of the other two dragons gracefully dancing in the sky, darting in and out of the wintery grey clouds. He couldn’t be sure, but a rider seemed to be on the back of one of the dragons.  A Targaryen come home... Jaime thought with apprehension, what that meant for him knotted his stomach.

The survivors in the woods were not many, there were multitudes injured fighters, and the familiar cry of death was all around them.  The worst were those with amputated limbs, or those needing amputations.  Maesters from all houses were set to do their work, they would be busy this evening, and many more deaths as the night carried on.

“We should have your legs looked at,” Brienne said.

“No, let them tend to those in greater need first,” Jaime sat on the ground exhausted, he had a coughing fit, his lungs still tender from the fire and smoke of the field.

“Well let’s see what can be done about this shield.” Brienne coughed as she pulled on his hand, trying to pry it away from the shield, despite her best efforts the melted metals would not budge. “I think we best just un-strap you from the hand.”

“Take care not to lose the shield.  It will be the most valuable in all of Westeros.” Brienne allowed a small smile to cross her lips at his jape. Jaime cried out as she removed his stump from the gold of his ruined hand.

“You’re burned. I’ll grab some salve and bandages.” Brienne made her way deeper into the woods looking for the nearest maester.

Jaime leaned back against a fallen log feeling useless, and anxiously waiting for his wife to return.  She was back quickly, with flasks of water and wine, ointment and bandages. She cleaned his wounds, tenderly applying the salve, and wrapping his injuries.  He was reminded of their journey together to that horrid little shack, their refuge from one of those early winter storms.  Only he had been the one nursing her.  The expression on her face when she had awoken to find them both naked, and how she briefly believed him when he suggested that it was due to a night of drunken debauchery. Jaime chuckled remembering her expression of horror and the hurling of his own boot at his head.

“What is so funny?” Brienne asked as she finished her work on his burned hand and stump.

“I can’t tell you.” Jaime said a playful grin on his face.

“Why not?” He could tell she was slightly irritated.

“You might hit me again.” Jaime’s grin grew larger.

Brienne looked at him quizzically and then demanded. “Take off your breeches,”

“The idea of hitting me gets you off?” Jaime said, feigning shock.  “I’m not sure that this is the place for that...” Jaime mocked looking around at the forest for watching soldiers.

“To inspect your wounds you dolt!” Brienne said irritated.

Jaime shimmied out of his breeches, his cloak the only thing separating him from the frozen forest floor.  Brienne washed his wounds, and repeated the treatments she had administered to his scarred stump and hand.

“It is not that bad,” Brienne said as she finished with his lower extremities.

“You’ve always seemed satisfied with it.” Jaime wasn’t sure why he was so giddy.  He just couldn’t seem to resist provoking her.

Brienne hauled off to punch him in the shoulder; he caught her fist in his hand, ignoring the flare of pain shooting up his arm he pulled her down onto him.  Soldiers be damned he craved his wife’s lips.

Chapter Text

Daenerys had kept her word.  Houses who had aided in the defence of the realm, both low and high were rewarded.  Lords who had refused were stripped of lands and titles, many sent to the wall for its rebuilding.  Little finger had refused to come down from his mountain top.  Tyrion had seen that Petyr Baelish was the first to be dealt the queen’s fiery justice. 

Tyrion held the station of Hand again; a position that suited his little brother well.  He had been at war the first time Tyrion had served, to watch him work and deal with decisions great and small was impressive to say the least, there was no doubting Tyrion was Tywin Lannister’s son.  Jaime felt it fitting that Tyrion carry on at the Rock as its liege Lord.  It was a prize Jaime had never truly wanted.  He was quite content to return to Tarth with Brienne, enjoying his days sparring with his wife in the yard, and making love to her in the evenings. 

Tyrion had requested that they both come to Kingslanding on their return to Tarth, he had said it was an important formality, and necessary to see that their deeds during the war were fully recognized publicly, and that his crimes be forgiven in an official capacity.

They returned to the capital very differently from when they had left it.  Instead of scurrying away like criminals they were mounted on their horses, welcomed back by the people as heroes in a parade. A rainbow of banners fluttered in the wind, as representatives from all the queen’s loyal men, low and high were celebrated by the crowd.

It was evident that Kingslanding had suffered terribly during the war.  Many of the buildings that had escaped the fires were left empty, it had been reported that the city’s population may be less than half of what it was during Tommen’s reign.  Despite their losses the people came out in droves to celebrate the returned war heroes, the city would be alive tonight with merriment and drink.

 

Brienne and Jaime stumbled up the stairs, clumsily making their way to their quarters.  They too had been celebrating, caught up in the excitement of the festivities, drink flowed freely, the war was over and famines be damned!  He could not ever recall seeing Brienne drunk, but he was enjoying it immensely.  She was giddier, laughing at all his quips, funny or not. Every few steps on their journey back to their rooms they would stop to attack each other with kisses, hands groping for the other in the darkened halls.  Once in the privacy of their room they fumbled out of their clothes, Jaime falling over as he attempted to pull off his breeches, upsetting a table as he crashed to the ground.  Brienne had found that hysterical laughing as she clutched her stomach.

“Oh you think that’s funny?” Jaime said, playfully growling as he jumped at her, tackling her to the bed.

They had made love, and perhaps not the best performance on either of their parts, but it had been satisfying.  Jaime drifted away to sleep, Brienne curled in his arms, the sheets a tangled mess in their legs.

It couldn’t have been more than an hour when they were awoken by the queen’s guards surrounding their bed, blades pointed at their throats, a strange assortment of Easterosi and Westerosi, the only one he recognized was old Barristan Selmy.

“Up Kingslayer,” Barristan commanded, his sword motioning in an upwards direction for Jaime to rise.

Brienne covered herself with the sheets, her eyes darting to the corner where their swords lay.

“Brienne don’t.” Jaime placed a hand on her shoulder, hoping to ease her away from attacking.  Drunk and naked as they both were it would be a massacre. Jaime sat at the edge of the bed searching for his breeches, pulling them on he stood unsteadily, still feeling the effects of the drink. “I want to speak with my brother,” Jaime said.

“You will.” Barristan replied nodding, Jaime was shoved forward by one of the guards; he went peacefully praying Brienne wouldn’t attempt anything bold.

 

“Give me her name Jaime,” Tyrion waited, knowing full well that Jaime wouldn’t be able to produce it. “If you can give me her name, I will work this out, you can leave tonight you’ll be back at Tarth by tomorrow evening with your Lady Brienne.

“You want the name of your wife?”  Jaime could feel his temper rising up in him. “Sansa Stark!” Jaime spit out at him.

“Jaime your mouth is your greatest enemy.  I think yours might even be a greater risk to you than mine ever was to me.” Tyrion had an expression on his face like he was about to do a chore he’d rather not.  He closed the small shutter of the dungeon door.

 Jaime could hear him climbing down the block he had been standing on, his footsteps dully echoing off the cellar walls. 

Tyrion...

“Feed him, cloth him and have him presentable for the queen, she will see him in the morning.”

 

“This is him? The soiled white knight?” It had been years since those violet eyes had rested on him; he had shut the last pair to look at him, Aerys. Her eyes flickered with intelligence, and not insanity.  Jaime thought, give it time...

“Step forward Jamie,” Ser Barriston stood at the queen’s side, returned to his station as Lord Commander.

Jaime took five paces closer as demanded.

Danaryes Targaryen sat on her iron throne; Jaime noticed a few faint drops of blood that had fallen on her lavender silks.

“Finding the chair comfortable?” Jaime couldn’t help but ask, his eyes resting upon the blood.

“In truth? No.” Daenerys seemed unfazed by his familiarity.  “Jaime Lannister of... Tarth?” Daenerys looked to Tyrion, who nodded.  “It has been brought to my attention that you have served in defence of the realm at the Twins, brining soldiers from your homes in the west and the east.  Your troops were among the best on the field and fought most bravely. Your food stores have helped to feed the people, staving off starvation for thousands. For these deeds we thank-you.”

Jaime looked up at her in disbelief, perhaps there may be hope yet, and maybe she isn’t like her father...

“You shall be rewarded, name it.” Daenerys looked at him her face impassive.

“Forgiveness,” Jaime answered simply.

“You killed my father.  I am to forgive you for that?” There is the flame in her eyes now... “Could you forgive a murderer of your kin so easily?” The queen asked.

Jaime turned his sight towards Tyrion and said, “Yes.”

“Jaime Lannister, I cannot allow you to escape justice for regicide, it would set an unwelcome precedence. You must be made example, however a queen’s words must also hold true, and I have made allowances for other usurper houses, because of your efforts in this war I will allow you to earn your redemption by combat.”

Jaime heart sank in his chest.  The dragon... 

“A champion has stepped forward for you, and I have agreed to allow it.” Her words sent Jaime into a panic. 

Brienne stepped forward, separating herself from the crowd, there was an eruption of gasps and whispers as the realization came that she was a lady knight.

Brienne you stupid, stupid wench...  “I refuse this champion! I’ll take the black!” Jaime shouted his voice cracking with desperation. 

“Denied. Brienne Lannister of Tarth fights for you.” The queen said rising from her throne, her silvery locks and silks flowing behind her, she stopped briefly to land her hand on Tyrion’s shoulder leaning down to whisper something to him before leaving the keep.

Jaime looked to Brienne, her sad blue eyes pleaded with him, she mouthed the words, I’m sorry...

Jaime couldn’t look at her, his fury building inside him, instead he glared at his brother who would not meet his gaze, Jaime couldn’t be sure but there seemed to be a shadow of regret darkening Tyrion’s face, but it was too late.  A Lannister always pays his debts, and Brienne was deemed the most suitable payment for Jaime’s crimes. 

Chapter Text

When the guards had taken Jaime away she felt aggravated and helpless.  She played the scene over and over again in her mind, if she could have made it to her sword, she could have killed one or two she was certain. At least they would have died fighting, and now she didn’t know what their fate was.  Once again their lives were in the palms of others and their games, and it sickened her.

 

“It will be a mere formality, a day or two, and we’ll be done with it all forever.” Jaime had held so much faith in his brother; he was so desperate to repair whatever the damage had been done between them.  Tyrion was his only family left after all.

They had taken him away, and Jaime had went willingly, an attempt to quell her from fighting them, presumably he went under the queen’s orders, but it was clear from Ser Barriston’s words that this was Tyrion’s doing.

 

What had Jaime done to hurt his brother so? In truth Brienne didn’t want to know.  As much as she was certain Jaime was a changed man, it still didn’t make it any easier to hear the man he once was. She wondered how much forgiveness one person could give. 

Brienne’s head was still swimming with wine.  She couldn’t remember the last time she had ever drank that much.  They had been at an inn for hours; Jaime kept bringing her tankard after tankard, compliments of his brother.  Tyrion had set his scheme in motion then, getting them in such a state that they could be taken easily.

 

“My Lady?”  The boy named Eric knocked on her door.

“Yes?”  Brienne didn’t want to speak to anyone, but she found herself motioning the boy in.

The boy Eric, the little torch bearer from the Twins.  She had found him with Ser Hyle in the woods after they had fled the fiery dragon’s fields.  He reminded her so much of young Podrick, she felt immensely protective of him.  The boy had happily agreed to be her squire, and was eager to learn sword play, he was remarkably good, quick and agile, a very fast learner.

“What happened?” Eric asked.

Before Brienne could respond the sounds of several men approaching her room alerted her, Brienne grabbed Oathkeeper and put a protective arm in front of Eric.  The boy grabbed his own sword, a small blade that he wore at his waist.

“My Lady Brienne, please that won’t be necessary,” Tyrion held his right hand in the air, a gesture of peace.

“Tell your men to put down their blades,” Brienne said through gritted teeth.

Tyrion simply nodded and his men complied without pause. 

 Tyrion looked to Brienne’s blade, and she also sheathed Oathkeeper.

“It is alright Eric,” Brienne said, the boy reluctantly sheathed his own blade.

 “Shall we sit?” Tyrion gestured to the small table.

Brienne complied.  The sooner I play his game, the sooner he’ll be out of this room, she thought bitterly.

“I will get to the point. Jaime will be presented before the queen tomorrow; she will want him to answer for his crimes.” His voice was calm, with a hint of patronization.  He was talking to her like she was some child.  Brienne had heard this tone throughout her life; people often misjudged her for being slow, simply because she was quiet and did not easily banter.

“You promised him amnesty; he gave you his birthright for it.” Brienne said, trying to maintain her composure.

Tyrion shifted uncomfortably, “She promised not to burn the Rock if he aided in the defence of the realm, which he did, and Daenerys kept her promise, but Jaime’s crimes are numerous, and unforgiveable.  She will not let the assassination of King Areys go unpunished.”

It took all her self control to not jump from her seat, “He was a madman! He was going to burn everyone alive! So many innocents would have died if it wasn’t for Jaime!”

“He would have told you anything my dear.  Jaime’s tongue is as golden as his right hand.” Tyrion replied cooly.

“I believe him.” Brienne said gently.

Tyrion smiled at her with pity, and then turned to his guards. “Could you please leave us?”

The guards looked uncertain, “Now!” Tyrion loudly demanded. The men moved from the room as ordered.  Once the guards were out of earshot Tyrion looked at Brienne firmly. “There is a way you may yet save his life.”

Brienne was wary but asked, “How?”

“Trial by combat, but I will not lie, you will not like your opponent,”

“Who is it?” Brienne asked a seed of hope blooming in her chest.

“When the queen wants an assured victory she always chooses her dragon Drogon.”

Brienne’s heart blackened, she had known another queen who liked to stack the odds, but to pit people against a dragon seemed ludicrously unjust.

“I fail to see how getting killed by a dragon could save Jaime’s life.”

“I can have the dragon subdued; the man who is in charge of their feedings is mine.  The dragon will be weakened and sluggish.  It is no guarantee of your victory but it’s the best I can offer.  I can help even the odds, but the rest will be up to you.”

Brienne did not like to put their fate in Tyrion’s hands, but she failed to see what other option she had.

She knew Jaime would be furious with her, he was more than perfectly capable of fighting his own battles now, and if there was a chance she could lose he would be killed either way.  If Jaime fought as his own champion, she would be left alone in the world without him, it was a selfish decision ultimately, one of the few Brienne had ever allowed herself in life, and after a long pause she finally answered, “I’ll do it.”

 

When Tyrion had left Brienne, she sat with her head in hands at the table, her mind swimming from Tyrion’s plan and the lingering effects of the wine. 

Eric came to her side his hand tentatively at her shoulder. “I believe you can win this Lady Brienne,”

Brienne smiled wistfully.  There are too many things left to faith and chance... She had to hold her faith in Tyrion, which left her feeling hollow.  A drugged dragon or not, she was doubtful that any knight could slay a dragon.  The books of her youth held many accounts of brave knights who had been victorious against the great winged beasts, but Brienne had seen the creatures fight, had witnessed the carnage they wrought, had felt their scorching flames at her skin.  The stories contained in those books in her estimation were utter rubbish.

“Just remember what you have taught me, if you see an opportunity, do not hesitate, and take it.” Eric smiled at her; his confidence in her abilities broke her heart a little.

Brienne nodded, patting his hand and attempted a smile.  “We should rest.  Tomorrow I slay a dragon.”

Tomorrow I die... she thought darkly as she watched the lad leave her chambers.

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Brienne’s heart raced, and her guts tightened. She inhaled, and exhaled slowly in an attempt to calm herself before the battle, an old lesson she had learned from Ser Goodwin.  She tried to swallow but found her mouth dry. Her young squire Eric helped her with her armor, tightening the straps of her plate at her chest and arms.

Brienne clutched Oathkeeper’s hilt as the boy continued to fasten her boots, he offered her a drink of water. Brienne gladly accepted, it was refreshingly cool and helped to relieve the constriction in her throat.

“When this is finished, travel with Ser Hyle Hunt to Tarth.  I have left commands in a letter for my house.  You are to be looked after, there is a place for your there.”  Brienne handed the flask back to the boy.

Eric struggled with the weight of the heavy long shield she had chosen, its edges curved inwards, Brienne hoped it would help to block the flames of the dragon better than the one that Jaime had held onto at the Twins.  The metal was good, and the blacksmith had promised it could withstand a higher heat. She silently wished she had time to have had their arms placed upon it.

“If you could have one death My Lady, who would it be?” The boy’s eyes were dark and serious.

It was such an odd question but something in his imploring eyes made her consider, and she simply answered, “Drogon.”

The boy looked away and continued about his work, picking up her helm.

 

The field was the same one where Jaime had slain Robert Strong.  Their positions had been reversed then; she had been on the sides, anxiety strangling her throat as she watched Jaime stepping on to the field, being unexpectedly named Sansa’s champion, the girl’s first stab at revenge on House Lannister. Brienne felt it had been much worse to be the one watching, with no control, seeing the man she loved march in willingly to an uncertain fate. No one had expected Jaime to survive that battle, but he had been the victor.  Brienne smiled behind the mask of her helm at the memory.  She had never been more proud of him as she was that day, he had fought with more fluidity and grace than she could ever hope. Now it was her turn to fight, her chance to be the champion, she could have been excited at the thought once, but now the happiness they  had found with each other was to be ended and she could only feel sorrow for their loss. Jaime would have to watch her die today. I will try not to scream as I burn... I will spare him that.

The people had come out in droves, they were hungry, not just for food but also entertainment, a brief distraction from their cold misery. The dragons were serving as an excellent source of that entertainment. There was nothing more enticing than witnessing a dragon decimate a man or better yet a pretender lady knight.  She wondered if there had ever been a woman to willingly combat a dragon in the histories, she could not recall any, and there was a small measure of grim pride in the knowledge that she would be the first. 

High on her chair sat the queen Daenarys Targaryn.  She was adorned richly in dyed embroidered wools of a deep purple; a white fur trim framed her beautiful pale face.  Her silvery mane was pinned under a thick warm hood. Daenarys posture was not like Cersei’s had been, she did not sit grinning with anticipation for Brienne’s demise.  She held an almost non-expression of one who must proceed with necessary business.

Targaryen banners of black and red flapped in the wind all around the battleground, for Brienne it made the pit seem gloomier yet. She walked further out onto the field, and recalled the horrible things the people had yelled at Jaime, she was thankful she could not decipher their shouting now, the voices all combined into waves of thunderous roars. The further she advanced unto the field the louder the crowds became, it was clear it was her blood they cried out for. Brienne hesitated to look for Jaime, but found her eyes could not help but search the crowd for him; she looked below the queen’s chair, expecting to see him chained like Sansa had been, but she could not find him. An eruption from the crowd grabbed her attention, across the field a gate was opened, and through it came two pit guards, dragging a man between them, dressed in the white and gold of the King’s guard.

They’ve put him in his old armor? Brienne's heart ached for him, knowing the sting that must have been. To be ridiculed again, wearing the armor he had been forced to set aside. His face was beaten, she could only imagine the fight he would have put up, most likely they would have had to dress him when he lay unconscious. Brienne pushed the pain aside she was feeling for her husband and bolted towards him, her movements made slow by her own armor.  The guards chained Jaime’s leg to a stake set in the ground at the opposite end of the field, and then scurried back to the gates from where they came.

In the distance Brienne could hear the thunderclaps of Drogon’s wings as he descended from the clouds. He was swooping in from the east, heading in the direction where Jaime was staked to the earthen floor. 

The crowd went silent; there was a thick fear that permeated the field. Brienne kept her pace, moving quickly and determined to get to Jaime before the dragon.

Brienne’s long strides seem to not be enough, her heart sank as the velocity of the dragon seemed to be quickening, she was uncertain she could make it to him in time…

Brienne slid into the dirt raising her shield to cover Jaime, just as the blast of the dragon’s breath swooped over them, Brienne blocked the flames with her shield, and she felt Jaime cling to her as the fire cascaded over them.  His eyes were shut expecting an impact of fire; slowly he opened them to look at her.  She wished she could have kissed him once more then, a proper final good-bye, but her helm was blocking her, and she needed to focus on holding the shield in place.  Her armor and the metal of the shield served her well, the heat had been blocked by the leather lining inside her gloves.

The dragon took to the air heading towards the west, the once silent crowd roared with excitement as Brienne stood, unsheathing Oathkeeper, even through the metal of her gloved hand she could feel a strange coldness in her palm.  It was a very odd sensation as the blade had always felt warm to the touch at the Twins.

“Now would be the time to elicit some cheers, give them a wave,” Jaime said, still crouching in the dirt beside her.

“How can you possibly joke now?” Brienne was flabbergasted by his suggestion.

Jaime grinned and rose beside her, grabbing Brienne’s wrist in his own, he thrust her arm into the air, Oathkeeper still in her hand, the crowds applause was more thunderous than ever.  Brienne ripped her arm away, “Stop it!” 

Jaime grinned at her, thoroughly enjoying her outrage. His grin dissipated as he eyed Drogon making his turn in the sky, heading back in their direction.

“How long do you think you can keep this up?” Jaime asked with a hint of worry edging his words.

“I don’t know,” Brienne wondered how long it took to tire a dragon, remembering the endless sweeps the dragons had made as they scorched the fields at the Twins, she felt it would be far too long.

“Behind me,” Brienne planted herself in front of Jaime again, her sword in hand and shield raised, steadily she braced herself for the next wave of flame.

“You should try and strike it,” Jaime offered.

“What do you think I am doing?  Attempting to dance with it?” Brienne hissed.

The dragon spread its wings wide, preparing for another dive, its flames fell short of its target and Brienne ran forward meeting it with her blade, slicing its underbelly, the cut was deep, and a splattering of blood washed over her and Jaime, the dragon screeched as it clumsily flapped its wings, putting distance between it and its new threat.

Gasps and cries of shock could be heard as Drogon encircled the spectators, great drops of blood fell from the sky spattering the attendants. The dragon looked disoriented and ungraceful as it attempted to keep itself aloft, for a mere moment it appeared that it would crash into the queen’s scaffolding, but the dragon managed to climb slightly before tumbling back into the pit.

The dragon angrily roared fire into the crowd, screams of burning men, women and children horrifically erupted from the stands.  Brienne was hesitant to leave Jaime, but the cries of the innocents forced her to move her feet, she needed to get the beasts attention. Brienne ran screaming towards the dragon, waving her arms in the air, Drogon’s head snapped toward her, its eyes narrowed at her with hatred glinting from those deep yellow pools. It blasted a mighty torch of flame at her, Brienne raised her shield and ducked behind it, feet planted firmly, when the flame had extinguished she gasped for air.  She lowered her shield slightly as the beast came at her, its mighty tail flicking at her and flinging her through the air, she fell closer to the center of the pit crying out in pain as she smashed into the ground, shield flying from her hand.

Drogon galloped towards her, opening its great maw to reveal its blackened razor sharp teeth, snapping at her with ferocity, Brienne parried and sliced at its gums, she managed to land a few blows to its snout, and then something peculiar happened to its eyes; they clouded over as if a film of milk was poured over its giant yellow orbs.

The beast lifted his head, and Brienne seizing her opportunity delivered a mighty slice to Drogon's throat, opening up a wound that spewed a stream of gory red. Blood stung her eyes, and gushed into her armor, the great black dragon collapsed to the ground, his leathery wings and legs twitching.  Brienne felt sick as she watched the beast lay dying, drowning in its own blood. She raised Oathkeeper and struck another blow to his neck, more blood flowed out over her boots and greaves.  The beast’s eyes rolled back into his skull, as the life of the dragon left it, the twitching ceased, and his tongue rolled out of his mouth.

Brienne could feel the tears rolling down her cheeks.  In her heart she could take no joy in this battle, there was no honor in this victory.

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Brienne looked a sight as she removed her helm, to reveal a face painted with dragon blood.  The bangs of her hair dripped with it. 

Jaime closed his mouth realizing it was open, forgetting he was still pegged to the ground he took a few steps towards her and jerked to a stop. He desperately wanted to hold her and comfort her, he could tell by the look in her eyes she was mourning the dragon she had just slaughtered.

The people stood with blank expressions, too stupefied to believe what they had just witnessed.  The odd lady knight, wife of the Kingslayer had killed the Queen’s fiercest dragon.

Daenerys Targaryen surrounded by her strange assortment of Queen’s Guard, Ser Barristan leading the charge, pushed through onto the field, trailing behind them Jaime spied Tyrion, moving as briskly as he could.  Daenerys was in a full out sprint, her hood fallen behind her, and her silver hair flowed freely.  With no regard for the amount of blood pooled on the ground the Queen knelt down into it, her small arms and hands wrapped around the beasts head.  She placed her temple to the dragons and let out a mournful cry.

She is wailing as if she’s lost a child… Jaime thought, a panic rising up inside him.  He had never truly believed that the Queen would allow them to escape her “justice”, but witnessing her grief as she was slung over the dead dragon made him sick with the thought of what kind of death she would deliver to them now.

Brienne stood her ground like a statue, her eyes wearily darting from the Queen to her guards.  Her hand clenched tightly around the hilt of Oathkeeper.

She’s eyeing up her opponents, preparing for another fight.  Jaime forced a proud smile back from his face.  It would be unwise to show any signs of merriment over this scene.

His ankle ached and dripped blood; he had cut it terribly against his manacle watching Brienne during her battle with the dragon. His hand had ached for a blade of his own during her battle, to be fighting at her side, instead chained like a dog he was forced to watch, his heart rising and falling throughout.  The white and gold cloak of the Kingsguard armor they had forced him in was splattered with crimson.  Jaime entertained the idea of ripping it off, but thought better of it. 

Queen Daenerys ceased her crying, but her head remained bent over the dragon.  Her silence was somehow more unsettling.  Finally she raised her head; her violet eyes were marred with her crying, red and swollen.  Daenerys rose from the muck of the gore that lay about her on the ground, she looked to Brienne, her purple eyes calculating.

Brienne returned the gaze of the Queen, her own blue eyes full of a deep sorrow.  From the stands came the sound of a growing chant.  The people were shouting her accolades…

Lady Knight! Lady Knight! Lady Knight!

Daenerys glanced all around her, there were thousands of people in attendance, they had come to witness the slaughtering of a Kingslayer and his champion, and instead they had witnessed his thrilling and unbelievable salvation.  An ancient custom had proven his innocence, and they cheered for his Brienne.

Tyrion was the first to speak, “Your Grace, It would be wise to let them go.”

Daenerys was no fool; she surveyed the enthralled crowd surrounding her, to order their deaths now would most certainly incite a riot.  The Queen raised her chin and strode over to Brienne, the sounds of her guards unsheathing their swords cut abruptly short by the Queen raising her hand for them to stop.  Jaime watched helpless as Daenerys grabbed Brienne’s arm, raising it into the air, a unified cry greater than he had ever heard blossomed from the stands. 

The people love her… the Queen wouldn’t dare harm her now.

“Release him,” Barristan Selmy did not hesitate on the Queen’s orders, the great old knight swung his sword, striking the chains from Jaime. 

Jaime pushed past the Queen’s guards, their pristine matching white and gold armor untainted by the stain of the dragon’s blood.  With a slight limp he made his way to his wife, Daenerys stepped aside as Jaime gathered Brienne in his arms, he placed his left hand behind her neck and pulled her in to him, kissing her deeply.  The roar amplified again.  Brienne was tense at the start of the kiss, but she relinquished to him, returning his passion with her own.  The taste of blood upon their lips, they remained like that, every hurt and pain they’d ever felt melting away into the pure abandon of their love for each other.  

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He played with the gold coin in his hand.  Freshly minted with the image of his Queen, a true dragon once again pressed into the metal.  The other side held the image of Drogon, whose blood was now cold and mixing with the sands of the pits where he fell.

The Queen had commanded the dragon be butchered to feed the people.  The suggestion had shocked even Tyrion.  Daenerys had always treated the dragons as her own children, her face was still stained with the tears from her mourning of the beast, but as she surveyed the throngs of people, still chanting for Lady Brienne she decidedly said, “They are my children too, they need to be fed…”

Queen Daenerys was necessary to the wellbeing of Westeros and its people; she was a unifying force when the kingdom had been left in shambles thanks to Cersei’s work.  Tyrion had been loyal to her in all ways… except for one.  If she had ever learned of what he had done to Drogon before the fight, there was no question it would be his head.

The Dragonkeep was easily bought, it had taken a fortune to buy the man but gold only held secrets for so long and soon enough you would find yourself digging in your purse for more.  Bronn had made sure that the man would tell no tales of Tyrion’s plot to poison Daenerys dragon.  An accident, he had slipped and fell in to the dragon’s lair, a likely and probable fate for one in his profession.

Bronn was his man, through and through.  The former sellsword would never admit that they were friends; it was something that went unsaid between them.  Tyrion found it to be an amusing irony that the man who had been his champion at the Moon Door now sat on the chair that ruled the Eyrie. 

Little Finger had been the first to feel Daenerys flames.  He thought himself safe perched up high on his mountain top, but there he was trapped, with nowhere to flee.  He would sometimes imagine Petyr tumbling out through the Moon Door, screaming in flames as he fell.  That death was a revenge for his Lady Wife, Sansa.

Tyrion dropped the coin and walked to his window, absently playing with the pin of the “hand” he wore on his right breast.  From his vantage he could see the pit where the epic battle of Lady Brienne had happened.  He felt a stab of guilt remembering how incensed Jaime had been when Brienne had stepped forward in the Keep naming herself his champion.  It had been what he had wanted, what he had orchestrated, a juicy slice of revenge of his making.  He wanted Jaime to hurt and agonize for a love lost.  In the end the revenge was not the ripe sweet fruit he had hoped for, but tasted soft and rotten in his mouth.

Brienne of Tarth was a remarkable fighter.  He had seen nothing like her, she lacked Jaime’s grace and panache, but her movements were steady and precise.  The bravery and strength it took to stand in place while a beast like Drogon hurled fire was nothing to dismiss lightly.  Tyrion had half forgotten during the battle that he was supposed to be cheering for the dragon, having to bite his tongue to keep from cheering out for the Lady Knight.  In the beginning of the battle he could see no indication that the dragon had been feeling any of the poisonous effects he had paid for, he was beginning to wonder if the Dragonkeep was false, but finally there was a moment when the dragon missed its mark, and Brienne had not hesitated to open its belly.  The stumble on the dragon’s part was not enough to draw too much suspicion.  There had been pandemonium when the dragon near fell into the stands, the people were screaming as it almost crashed upon their heads.  The dragon recovered but was disoriented and had screamed fire into the stands, those sounds Tyrion was afraid he would never recover from.

He had been so distracted with the chaos in the crowds that he almost missed the fatal blow Brienne had delivered to the dragon’s neck.  She had somehow grabbed the beast’s attention again.  She could have freed Jaime at that point, made away with him in the chaos, but instead she had pulled the dragon away from the people.  He had looked to Daenerys then, he could read on her face that she recognized the Lady Knights selfless heroics as well.

When Tyrion looked back to the pits the dragon did something so peculiar, it raised its head into the air, almost as if it was offering its neck to the Lady Knights blade.  That was no effect of a poison…

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She had made her way back into the Riverlands after hearing rumors of her mother delivering justice to those deserving of it.  The thought of aiding in her mother’s efforts appealed to her greatly.  They claimed Lady Catlyn had changed, but Arya shrugged the rumors away.  Hadn’t the war changed them all?  She had been living as Eric for weeks, another face she slipped into just as easily as she slipped into the hawk

She soared as a hawk, hunting a field rabbit that would serve as her morning meal.  With her prey gripped in her claws she flew back to where her body was huddled under a tree.  It was such a small, sad and weak thing compared to the beasts she was able to warg into.  Perhaps one day when she was older she wouldn’t mind so much going back into it herself.  Dropping the rabbit on the ground she let herself slip back into her proper form.

The rabbit was gravely injured but still alive.  Arya stabbed it through the heart with needle, and then with her dagger commenced in skinning her breakfast.

She was half way through eating its tender roasted meat when she heard the quiet footfalls of several men approaching her, most likely attracted by her camp fire. She hid quickly, and observed them, listening for anything useful.

They were commoners, who had pledged service to the common folk and Lady Stoneheart, the name her mother had come to adopt.  She had deemed it fit that all able bodied men make their way north to fight in defense of the realm.   There were promises of hot meals, which seemed to be all the travelers focused on.  Arya could care less about the food, she had been doing just fine on her own, but word of her mother’s involvement tugged at her heart, and she agreed to go with them.  They had need for “torch bearers”.

She had not realized that it was to be frozen dead men and other things she would be lighting flame to. The smell had been horrendous, but other than that it was easy enough work.  Several of the other boys given the same task had wet themselves and fled at the first site of the Others and Wights. Arya Stark did not frighten easily, but one would have to be a fool not to feel fear as the dead creatures ambled onwards with those spooky cold blue eyes.

She had come close to death on the battle field the day she met Brienne of Tarth.  The Other had truly startled her, the gigantic white monstrosity would have sliced her little body in half if it hadn’t been for Brienne.  It was in those moments watching her fight, and cutting down the Other that Arya decided needed to learn from this this knight; she hadn’t realized she was a woman until she had spoken her name, her breath heavy from the fight. 

In their short time together Arya practiced every opportunity she could with the Lady Brienne, she would have liked more time, but the Kingslayer was constantly pulling her away demanding she practice with him, and then taking her away to their tent in the evenings.  Arya briefly contemplated stabbing the man in the neck in his sleep, but decided better of it.  The Lady Brienne would probably mourn and that could take awhile, interrupting her lessons for who knew how long.

In time she came to hate Jaime Lannister less.  He was good to Brienne, and he even shared a joke or two with her, he had an easiness about him that reminded her of the good natured teasing she used to suffer at the hands of her brothers.  She could feel her time with Brienne was coming to a close, soon she would need to travel west again to find her mother and sister, she refused to allow herself to feel too much where they were concerned.  She had learned that hoping and caring too much could only lead to hurt.

She was preparing her bag for her journey when she heard Jaime and Brienne make their way drunkenly into their rooms, they were nosier than usual, it almost sounded as if furniture was being tossed around.  Arya had covered her ears, shut her eyes and rolled over annoyed.  She would leave when she was certain they were asleep.  She had grabbed her bag, and put needle about her waist when she heard the clanking armor of the guards coming into their rooms.  Arya watched through the slightly ajar door as they took the Kingslayer away, he had gone without commotion.  Arya had needle at the ready; she would fight alongside Lady Brienne if she decided to put up a fight. She waited a few moments before knocking on the door.

When she had heard the terms of the dwarf Hand she was disgusted by the unfairness of his proposal.  They all knew what he was asking could only lead to her death.  Arya Stark was not going to let that happen. She did owe her a death.

All she needed was a name…

The dragon had been much harder to warg into than anything she had ever experienced.  She tried when she first saw its black wings breaking down from the clouds.  It fought her tremendously, every time she attempted to take hold it managed to cast her out, with every effort she felt like her head was about to split open.  Arya was beginning to panic that she would not be successful, and then its minds defenses seemed to wane; she slipped inside and saw through the dragon’s eyes. Its field of vision was amazing, she could see in every direction, and there were colors that she could never have seen with her human eyes, wishing she had more time to enjoy seeing through the dragons eyes, Arya reluctantly raised her head up to the sky, presenting the dragons neck to Brienne.

Arya drifted back into her own body, she lay amongst the shields of the battle grounds armory.  The roar of the crowd above her was deafening.

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Sansa, Tyrion and a multitude of Lannister soldiers had travelled for days, forging ahead deeper and deeper into the woods near the banks of Riverrun.  Her mother seemed to have a fondness for the former lands and homes of her youth.  Sansa could understand; she yearned to be in the North again, to be surrounded by her own childhood places.

Perhaps in time…

She hadn’t felt this nervous since she had escaped Kingslanding, the first time. Her second escape from the capital had been just as harrowing, if not wrought with more danger, but she also hadn’t been the same shy maiden who was whisked away by Petyr Bealish in the night.   Sansa tightened her grip on the collar of her warm coat thinking about Little Finger still made her want to wretch.

She sat at the edge of the river, huddled in her fine clothes and furs, waiting for the arranged meeting with her mother. The beautiful and expensive clothing were gifts from Tyrion, he had a habit of lavishing her with gifts, it seemed a safe method for showing her affections. The girl that she once was would have fawned over the fine embroidery and embellishments, but Sansa was no longer as interested in trivial things like adornments.  She had resolved in her mind that she would never be the victim of circumstance, nor a piece in anyone’s game again.  She knew where her strengths were, and she had Tyrion Lannister for a husband, Hand to the Queen, she had secured for them Casterly Rock and all the wealth that came with it, next would be Riverrun, and then the North.

“Sansa?” She had barely heard the sound of her mother as she said her name.  The sound was a choked half whisper.  She had been warned that her mother’s appearance would be difficult, but nothing could prepare her for the ghostly shell of Catlyn Stark that stood before her.  Sansa felt like a girl again, for the first time in ages she could feel tears threatening to come to her eyes.

“Mother.” Sansa steeled herself and walked towards her.  Lady Catlyn’s arms reached out to her daughter, hoping for an embrace. Sansa stood taller than her mother now, and felt it peculiar as she wrapped her arms around her slight figure, so fragile and small, Sansa was afraid she was going to break her.  The smell that assaulted her was far worse, Sansa held her breath.  Despite the changes in her mother, it was still her and it felt good to be in her arms. 

Her mother was resistant to help any Lannister, but Sansa reminded her that she too was now a Lannister by marriage, and although Sansa’s words seem to disgust her, she eventually relinquished in exchange for food for her men. She had refused to come back to Casterly Rock with her, much preferring her caves and secret places.  With their alliances secured Sansa’s returned to the Rock and waited for news of the battle.

She spent most days in the library pouring over the massive tomes.  It was in the library she had found the book of useful plants, some for healing and others having the opposite effect.  Who could have guessed that the little blue flower that bloomed late in the summer could be used for a poison? 

She had found bundles of them in one of the storehouses, given permission to choose whatever she liked for Brienne’s wedding, but the blue ones had caught her eye.  The flower was called the ‘maidens tears’, delicate little things, a popular flower used for many brides bouquets, the maiden was said to have been so happy she cried over her bouquet with joy, turning the white flowers blue.  A stupid story, but a useful one as it had stuck in her head as a child, and she had recognized the illustration as she thumbed through the book.  One blessing she had learned from Little Finger was the power of information and knowledge.  She didn’t know who would receive her poisonous gift once made, a simple matter of harvesting the seeds of the flowers and crushing them into a fine powder, it could even be for herself if necessary, she couldn’t deny enjoying the feeling of having the poison with her at all times as she carried it in her sleeves, she felt maybe this is what it was like to wield a sword.

That cold winters night when they had found Brienne barely clinging to life Sansa could admit relief, Lady Brienne was good and kind, perhaps one of the few genuinely good people Sansa had come across in quite a long time.  Cersei Lannister had also emerged earlier that same evening and there was no doubt in Sansa’s mind that she was the one responsible for Brienne’s capture and beating.  It would only be a matter before the crazed lioness successfully killed Brienne, and then Sansa was certain she would be next.

When Jaime had grabbed her from her rooms to gather wine for Brienne, she had not hesitated from taking the opportunity presented for her.  She knew the vintages Cersei preferred, the woman always reeked of it.  Sansa had dumped all of the poison into the canister of Dornish red, while the cook prepared the warmed wine meant for Brienne.  She had said a prayer to the Stranger, hoping it would find Cersei’s Lannisters lips soon. She thought of adding Jaime’s name into her prayer, with him gone she and Tyrion would hold claim to the Rock, if he ever returned...  Sansa changed her mind for Lady Brienne’s sake, and left the kitchen, warm wine in hand.

Sansa had been a rack of nerves after the death of Cersei, she was certain that the Kingslayer knew it was her, she had been cruel in the way she secured Brienne’s protection, but she had also been desperate.  It was an attempt to have some control of her fate, and she trusted Brienne’s honor to keep her safe from Jaime’s wrath.

The return of Tyrion had changed everything.

Her Lord husband had the power, wealth and security she needed to make changes happen.  She had not seen Tyrion since the war ended, he had matters to attend to in Kingslanding, but he had sent a letter recounting the events at the Eyrie and the demise of Little Finger.  Sansa could tell by the language in the letter he had left out the gruesome details, which made her frown, she would have to request a recounting of the tale when she saw Tyrion again, there would be nothing she would like better than the explicit detailing of that monsters death.  

Tyrion seemed to respect her ever since their dinner when she had won him the lands and title from his brother; he had kept his promise and had not taken her until she was ready.  Sansa resolved that when he returned she would do what needed to be done and give him an heir for the Rock.

Chapter Text

When the Queen’s men had barged into his room at that shit inn in flea bottom, Hyle Hunt was well into the throes of another drunken stupor, flea bitten and on his last coin.  He had sold his sword, and what he managed to make from that had barely lasted him the week.

“Are you the hedge knight has been bragging of knowing the giant warrior woman fucking Jaime Lannister?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Hunt slurred.

“Grab him!”

 

He did not fight them given the state he was in, but it did nothing to prevent them from landing a few blows about his face. When he came to he was in a dark cell, his head swimming from the vast amounts of ale he had been drinking and the abuse he had suffered at the hands of the guards.

They had tortured him, asking many questions about Brienne of Tarth. He would like to have said he had been strong, and held out in denying them the information they craved, but he was weak and had spilled all he knew of her.  Her proclaimed innocence of killing Renly, the bets to win her maidenhead, how she had saved his miserable life at the hands of Stoneheart and her affection for that maimed lion Jaime Lannister.

Shortly after he had shared what he knew she came to visit him…

“What is your name again?” Her words cut through the darkness, and awoke him from his sleep.

“Hyle Hunt.” He coughed spitting blood through fattened lips.

The queen had been one of the most beautiful women Hyle Hunt had ever laid eyes upon. Golden haired, slender and finely dressed, but beneath that flawless exterior there was a cruelty set in those shining green eyes.

“Hyle Hunt, how would you like to be a rich man?” Cersei purred, dropping a large bag of coin on the table.

She wanted him to travel to Tarth to offer Lord Selwyn a dowry for Brienne’s hand. The Queen seemed convinced that all Brienne needed was a man, any man to ask for her hand and she would be lured away from her brother. He played up the amount of affection Brienne had for him, a ruse to feed her flawed plan, a stab at survival on his part.

Hunt didn’t share the information with the Queen that he had already asked the woman to marry him, and how she had refused; he also didn’t share the way Brienne had called after Jaime Lannister.

Her fevered dreams when the brothers had dragged them towards Stoneheart had revealed her true feelings for the Kingslayer.  Hearing her cry out for Jaime Lannister cut into Hunt unexpectedly, he had convinced himself that he was interested in her for her lands and titles, nothing more, but every mournful cry of ‘Jaime’, brought a peculiar twist in his chest and his feelings for Brienne of Tarth could no longer be denied.  It baffled Hunt, the maid was homely, large, and could barely string more than a few words together at one time, but he did care for her.

He was beaten, beyond poor, and now there was this shining Queen offering him gold simply to ask for the hand of a woman he wouldn’t have minded marrying at all.  Hunt agreed and the next day he was on a boat heading to Tarth.

Selwyn Tarth had not seemed keen on demanding his daughters return, but he missed her and the gold was welcome.  Hunt convinced him that if he could just have her return home she would be sure to agree given time. The woman Alarah who was bedding the old Lord had helped in convincing him to send the letter to Casterly Rock.

The day Lady Brienne returned to Tarth and was yelling at the gates Hunt was certain she was coming to accept his offer.  He deserved the smash to the face that Jaime Lannister had given him, a just reward for his own sheer stupidity. She was married, and the Queen was dead.  Brienne with her generous heart had allowed him to stay on at Tarth, he felt like he had a purpose again, marching off with the rest of them to the Twins. She had even seen fit to give him one of the precious dragon glass daggers, a sure sign that she must care for him in some way too.

Hunt saw the battle at the Twins as an opportunity lost.  Lannister had been trapped beneath the dead bear, pinned to the ground, the Other was on him, if he hadn’t intervened the Kingslayer would have joined the horde of corpses marching south.  Given the choice today Hunt couldn’t say with certainty that he would have done the same, stabbing the creature in the back.  He could have left the Kingslayer pinned beneath that bear, driven a blade across his neck and moved on.  Another dead soldier, fallen at the Twins.  Brienne would be widowed, and given time she could come to feel something for him.

Instead like a great fool he bent down into the snow and helped remove the bear from Jamie Lannisters legs. 

He had been asleep in the rooms beneath the Lord and Lady of Tarth when he was awoken by the sound of the Queen’s guards taking Lannister away in the night, news had spread fast over Kingslanding that the Queen was to deliver a long awaited justice to the fallen white knight and Kingslayer, Jaime Lannister was finally going to answer for his crimes.  Hunt would be ready as a friend for the lady when the time came to comfort her, a dance with a dragon cold only lead to certain death. When the shocking news came that a woman had stepped in as his champion, and how Queen Daenerys had agreed, Hunt cursed Brienne for her foolishness.

Hunt refused to join the excited and bloodthirsty crowds the day of the battle; he didn’t want to see Brienne killed all for an unworthy man, a dangerous habit the woman seemed to have.  He was in an inn well into his cups when news came of her unbelievable triumph, the gossip and talk had been explosive, everyone wanted a glimpse of the lady knight dragon slayer. Hunt exhaled in relief, the gloom gripping at his chest fleeting away.  He ordered another drink, drank it heartedly and made his way into the crowded streets, back towards her rooms.

Knowing the Kingslayer and the disaster he courted everywhere he went, he would be sure to find himself to an early grave yet. It would be just a matter of time, and Hunt was a patient man.

Chapter Text

To save the fallen Knight of Lannister

The Lady Knight from the East

Come to kill a Dragon Beast

Kingslayer made innocent by her blade

Brienne of Tarth, warrior maid

 

“What a horrible fucking song,” Jaime grumbled. “How is it that I’m still remembered only as the Kingslayer?”

“Well at least you’re not epitomized for eternity as a virgin.” Brienne grumbled into her cup. 

Jaime thought of paying the man to cease his wailing, or perhaps clubbing him to death with his stringed instrument, but that would only serve to attract more unwanted attention.

They had heard a plethora of songs detailing her exploits over the last few days; every inn at Kingslanding had some bard recounting the tale of Brienne’s victory over Drogon. As they moved further away from the city a new version assaulted their ears, each seeming to stray or embellish further away from the truth. The versions that described Brienne as a beauty usually made her sulk the most.

It had been an arduous task to leave Kingslanding unnoticed, it seemed everyone wanted to meet the fierce Brienne of Tarth, many invitations to dinners and tournaments, commissions for paintings, and letters courting her favour from numerous houses flooded their rooms.  There were multitudes of gifts, bribes for her attention, and even a few proposals.  Those Jaime took particular joy in burning.

Their only delay in leaving came when Brienne was insistent that they not leave until her squire could be found.  The boy had been missing since her battle with Drogon, and there were no signs of him to be found anywhere.  Jaime reasoned that the boy had most likely left after deciding like most that her death was imminent.

After days of searching Brienne finally relented and they made arrangements to return home, they left Kingslanding both believing they could die happy never having to step foot in the capital again. 

As they supped at the last inn before setting sail home, Brienne wore her hood low over her face, determined not to be recognized.  Jaime did his best to hide his golden hand from prying eyes.  It had been left in their rooms at Kingslanding, an anonymous gift, but he knew in his heart that it had been Tyrion’s work.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Brienne had insisted he let the anger he carried for his brother dissolve. She recounted how Tyrion had come to her in the night after the guards had dragged him away, how he assured her that he could have Drogon subdued enough for her stand a chance. That piece of information quelled his anger some, but he couldn’t bring it in himself to see Tyrion just yet.  His brother had played with him, tormented him, using Brienne to hurt him was not something he could let go of lightly.

Reflecting on her victory, he couldn’t help but feel that perhaps it was best that she had been the one fighting after all.  If he had slain Drogon, he couldn’t see himself as being as resigned as his wife, he most would have most likely let out a victory cry enticing the crowd into an even greater frenzy, and then finishing it off by saying something flippant to Daenerys.  Brienne’s sombre demeanour had helped in Daenery’s decision to let them go. To be sure the crowds would have rioted if any violence was attempted on them in that moment, but their safety after leaving the battlegrounds was not guaranteed.  Jaime wondered just how much forethought Tyrion had placed into pitting Brienne against the dragon instead of him. The realm will be set right in a scant amount of time with Tyrion as hand. Jaime begrudgingly thought.

The people of the inn began to sing along with the minstrel...

Tarth, Tarth the maid of Tarth!

Dragonslayer from the East!

Come to kill Danny’s beast!

 

“Let us find our ship and be away, I can’t stand to listen to any more of this,” Brienne pulled her hood lower around her face as she rose from the table.

They left the inn and headed down to the harbour the night crisp and bright with a full moon, it was a good night for sailing.  Although there was little need for it Jaime held a lantern as they made their way down the winding path towards the water, the ships bobbed sleepily in the distance. Brienne’s arm was encircled in his right, and it felt good to be doing something as common as strolling with his wife, like any other couple, ready to take a voyage home. Jaime silently wished it could be by horseback, he was not looking forward to another cramped boat ride on the choppy waters heading back to Tarth. 

Hyle Hunt sat on a crate at the docks, whittling away at a branch. Jaime was irked the man was returning with them, but after the battle of the Twins it seemed petty to refuse his request to stay on and serve the household.

“My Lady,” Hunt greeted them, adding “My Lord,” almost as an afterthought.

“Ser Hyle,” Brienne returned his greeting, Jaime could feel her pulling him along increasing her pace. She hated when he quipped with Hyle.

The waters were calm as they set sail over the black water of the night, Jaime stayed on deck for as long as possible, the air helped to abate his nausea.  The stars reflected up at him from the dark water below, white and dancing in the ripples.  As the wind picked up the bitterness of the cold set into his flesh and Jaime resigned that it was time to join Brienne below. The thought of jumping into her warm bed was appealing.  He spied Hunt slung in a hammock below deck near their cabin; he gave the man a knowing grin as he entered.

Brienne was slumbering soundly her back turned to him.  Jaime undressed, lifted the blankets and joined her.  He nuzzled his chin into the side of her neck, and gently nibbled at her earlobe. 

“Not tonight Jaime,” Brienne turned her head away from him more.

Jaime undeterred moved his cold hand under her thin night shirt.

Brienne let out a gasp. “Gods you’re freezing!”

He made his way to her small breasts, delighting in her flesh as he squeezed and pinched.

“Ouch that hurt!” Brienne cried out.

“It wasn’t that hard...” Jaime’s defence was interrupted by Brienne pushing him aside and grabbing the cabin’s bucket, holding it to her face.

“Could it be that you might not be the sea fairing lass after all?” Jaime couldn’t help but feel a little smug after all her comments she had made relating to their last journey to Tarth.

“Will you ever learn when to hold your...” she heaved again, “... tongue?  It was probably something at that Gods forsaken inn, who knows what those places are passing off as meat?”

Feeling sorry for goading her, he pulled her back into bed and caressed her hair as she lay curled up in his arms, her hands clutching the blanket tightly.

When he was sure she was settled he whispered, “Brienne I think you may be with child.” 

Chapter Text

It had been the tenderness in her breasts that reaffirmed his belief that Brienne was with child.  He had sense enough not to say ‘the same had happened with Cersei’.  It went unspoken, but they both knew he had a better understanding of the changes that happened to a woman’s body with pregnancy.

Brienne was fighting bouts of nausea every day since that horrid little boat ride back to Tarth, finally with the first indication of the enlarging of her belly and the continued absence of her flower did Brienne concede that he may be right. 

Jaime was thrilled at the prospect, and it hurt him that Brienne failed to share in his own unadulterated joy.  She had given him a small smile, but her eyes could not hide from him her anxieties.  Brienne the Dragonslayer was terrified of carrying and birthing his child.  As irked as he was, he could not dismiss her fears, his own mother having perished after Tyrion.

When they had finally returned to Evanfall Hall Brienne had refused to see the woman Alarah who carried her father’s bastard sibling.  Alarah was well taken care of, better than she had any right to be in Jaime’s estimation. The woman was a few months further along in her pregnancy than Brienne judging by the size of her.  Brienne had insisted that the child stay on after its birth, but after that she wanted her gone, sent to a far away sept, becoming a silent sister was to be her fate.  It would seem fate had other plans for the wretch Alarah.

As time passed, Alarah who had stayed silently hidden away for months became known, her birthing screams echoed throughout the halls of the castle beginning in the morning, caring on throughout the day, and into most of the evening, when the moon was at its highest the screams had stopped, and replaced by the cries of a squalling baby boy.  The mother was dead before the breaking of the sun.

 

Brienne watched from their window, her face gaunt from staying up throughout Alarah’s labour, her hand resting on her rounded stomach as she watched the servants in the courtyard below, carrying the bloody sheets away to be burned.

“Promise me, that if I die, you will not blame the baby.”

Jaime felt as though he had been slapped. “Why would you say such a thing?”

“Tyrion.”

“That was never me.” Jaime felt insulted by her suggestion.  His sister had blamed his mother’s death on his brother, his father also.  Jaime had never held any resentment towards Tyrion for that... but now he could concede how one might feel that way.  The thought of losing Brienne on the birthing bed clenched at his heart coldly.

Crossing the room he went to her, and held her in his arms, he placed his hand gently on her stomach protectively. “There will be no Stranger entering this room when you bring our baby into this world.” He kissed her forehead, “I swear it.”

Brienne smiled sadly at him, they both knew no one could bar the Stranger from a room if he wished to enter.

 

When Brienne saw the baby Alarah had birthed for the first time Jaime knew she was in love. The babe was healthy and his cry strong.  The tiny thing had no name, dark hair and dark eyes, like its mother.  Brienne looked to Jaime, “I don’t want him to be a Stone.”

Jaime realized what she was asking; she wanted to claim the babe for their own. It would be difficult to pass their children off as twins, but as they grew older the lie would become less and less apparent.

“To grow up alone, with no mother or father?  It would be too cruel.” The baby wrapped his tiny hand around Brienne’s large fingers, which brought a grand smile to her face.

 Watching Brienne cradle the small thing in her arms, her face glowing with motherhood Jaime could not deny his wife’s wishes.  “What shall we name him?”

“Evan.”

Chapter Text

The pain seared through her like nothing she ever felt, and Brienne knew pain. Yet she refused to scream.  Instead she curled up bent over and gritted her teeth, eyes shut and waiting for it to roll through her. When it was done she sat gasping for air, her body coated in sweat, tears welling up in her eyes.

She had not had a mother to instruct her through this torment.  To let her know if this amount of pain was to be expected, but remembering the anguished cries of the woman Alarah, Brienne had a feeling what she was experiencing was perfectly common.  She would never think women weak when this was through.

She had never been more terrified in all her life, not with the Wights, the Others, or even that damned dragon that haunted her everywhere she went. Brienne moaned as the muscles inside her tightened again, it felt as though her very bones were revolting against her. She collapsed to the cold stone floor, bent over and tried to breathe.

When the cramps abated some, Brienne could feel tears falling down her face, she wiped them away with the heels of her hand and made her way to her feet again, for whatever reason it felt better to walk.  Pacing the room she dreadfully waited for the next wave.

“My lady you should lay down now!”  The old maester exclaimed.

“Let her walk, it will do no harm.” The midwife countered the maester as she had been doing since she was called for during the night when Brienne first felt her pains coming on; they had been so minor compared to what she was enduring now.

“Would you two stop bickering?” Jaime was a heap in the corner, exhausted from the hours he had been up with her throughout her labor.

The maester’s had protested against Brienne’s request for the midwife.  She was a noble woman; she did not need the untrained musings of a local midwife. Even Jaime had thought it peculiar when she made the request, but she fought them both and her stubbornness won out in the end, and Jaime went out personally to find the woman.

The maester had tried to keep him from the room when he returned, something to do with a bad omen for the father to be present at his child’s birth.

 A stupid superstition invented by men to avoid having to witness the ravaged cries of their women, Brienne had thought sourly. 

She had been immensely pleased when Jaime told the old master to step aside from the door, lest he wished to be strangled with his chain.

 

There was something comforting about having the woman present, a woman who had birthed three-and-ten children herself, not to mention the scores of others who called Tarth home. The old maester, kind and knowledgeable as he was had not helped with a birth since her own deceased sisters Alysanne and Arianne were born. Excluding of course the recent birthing of Evan, but that did little to ease her concerns.

She was wondering if perhaps Jaime might be regretting his decision to stay present, he looked a sight, anxious and worried sitting in the corner.  Another agonizing cramp rolled up through her, Brienne buckled to the floor again, and tightened her lips, despite her efforts a loud scream escaped.

Jaime jumped from his chair and was at her side, holding on to her, gripping at her white-knuckled hand, her eyes shut with the blinding torment of her labor. 

“The bed…”  Brienne’s voice felt weak

“I think it’s time,” The maester and midwife said in unison, both annoyed by the others presence.

Brienne looked to Jaime, thankful for his strength as he helped her to the bed.  Jaime stayed with her, holding her hand, she squeezed feeling the pressure building up in her lower extremities.

“The child will come and soon my lady, soon! A life with be into this world, thanks to you, go with your natural inclinations” The maester said.

“Please! It will feel like taking the biggest shit of your life! Just push and you’ll be fine!” The midwife said without an ounce of humour.

Jaime’s mouth dropped open, the second time Brienne had ever seen her lion with that shocked mute expression, the first being when she had successfully killed Drogon. Brienne closed her eyes and pushed…

 

The wail of her babe’s cry was the most spectacular sound Brienne had ever heard, it rang through the room like something strange and foreign, but also beautifully familiar. She laughed deliriously, her labour through she felt triumphant and exhilarated like she had just won a hard fought battle.  The squalling baby was brought to her arms, and it felt as if in that moment her heart would burst

“A daughter!” Jaime beamed.

Wanting to share the feeling, and near the point of utter exhaustion Brienne gingerly handed the baby to Jaime.

Jaime took the baby into his arms tenderly touching her head, looking at their new baby with a protective love, joyful tears rolling down his cheeks.  Brienne admired the scene before her, she never saw him look finer than in that moment.

“Brienne?” Jaime called to her.

His voice sounded so far away…

“Brienne? What is wrong?”

 

Brienne the Dragonslayer, closed her eyes, too weak to keep them open and drifted away.

Chapter Text

The day was warm; Jaime breathed in the salty sea air and closed his eyes enjoying the sounds of the waves breaking onto the sand, the noise of the water birds and his children’s laughter trickling up from the beach

 

They were playing with long pieces of smooth drift wood, sword fighting barefoot in the surf, the waves breaking against their little ankles.  Of the two Giselda was the most graceful and sure footed, she fought with a natural ease, her golden locks flying in the wind.  Blue eyes fierce and determined, eyes that always seemed to sparkle with a hint of mischief, she like her father was not above doing what was necessary to win.

 

Evan dark haired and more serious was also very skilled, but more methodical; his skill came from hard work and practice.  He was much more mild-mannered than his sister, shy and quiet.  Jaime was just as likely to find his son curled up with a book in the library as often as he was to find him in the yard with a sword.

 

Jaime sat back in the tall grasses, the sun pleasant on his skin, he observed the children from a distance, admiring their fun. 

 

Giselda dipped low into the surf, swinging her sword upwards like a paddle, bringing salt water and sand upwards, spattering Evan’s face.  Giselda knocked into Evan, the boy losing his balance landed gracelessly into the wet sand.

 

“Yeild!” Giselda shouted loudly, much too bold and proud of her victory, her driftwood sword at her brother’s throat.

 

Jaime rose to make his way down to them, wanting to lecture her on winning with consideration for her brother, but Hyle Hunt beat him to it.

 

“My little lady must exercise more grace with her victories.” Hunt held his hand out to Evan, helping the lad to his feet.  Evan seemed unfazed by his defeat; he brushed the sand off of his trousers, and looked to the waves, his sword now lost and adrift in the blue waters.

 

“Yes Ser,” Giselda pouted.

 

Jaime content his daughter was properly chastised let it go, and continued to watch them where he stood.

 

“There, there child don’t be sad. Has anyone ever taught you to skip stones?” Hyle grabbed one of the thousand smooth flat rocks that speckled the beach.  With ease Hunt threw the stone and it skipped a total of seven times before splashing into the water.

 

The children clapped and shouted with delight, both bending down to pick up their own rocks.

 

Jaime looked on wondering if he could skip a stone with his left hand.  Most likely not, he thought with a familiar resigned sadness.

 

For close to seven years he had tried to rid himself of Hunt, but could never seem to manufacture a good enough reason for his dismissal.  Although it irked him to have Hunt present as the first day he had met the man at the gates of Evanfall Hall, the children had an obvious affection for him.

 

Jaime turned away from the beach to make his return to the castle grounds.  There were matters waiting for him, in particular a green batch of soldiers ready for training, having just arrived that morning.

 

It had been Brienne’s idea to train soldiers, young fighters who showed promise.  It was a stroke of brilliance on her part.  They did not have the vast wealth and lands of other noble houses, but what they did have were their famous names.  A powerful mix of notoriety and praise based on their reputation as warriors, a reputation that garnered them respect of near every house in Westeros and beyond.

 

Scores of young men and some women travelled to their shores, looking to be trained.  Those who could pay their dues, and illustrated the necessary skill were taken in. Once successfully completed their training at Tarth they were known as the Knights of the Sapphire Isle. Knights respected not only for their fighting prowess but also their sense of duty and honor. A Sapphire Knight was vaunted and a welcomed presence at any house.

 

Jaime was half way in his trek back to the castle when a soft thump greeted the back of his head.  He swung around feeling the back of his skull for what had assaulted him; looking at his hand he could see the remains of a soft red plum.

 

Brienne stood laughing by the tree, another plum gripped in her right hand.

“Oh it is to be like that is it?” Jaime grinned mischievously and bolted in her direction.

Brienne threw the second piece of fruit at him, it landing at his shoulder, smashing pulp and juices up at his face; ignoring the impact Jaime did not slow his pace.  She could throw better than him, but he was by far quicker.

 

Jaime tackled her to the earth amongst the fruit trees and tall grasses.  They fought playfully in the orchard, both taking turns in besting the other, each demanding the other yield when they felt they had the upper hand.

 With every call Jaime made for her to surrender, Brienne would fight back with a renewed vigor, refusing to give.  Strong as she was Jaime managed to pin her to the ground.

Realizing she had been bested Brienne reluctantly uttered the words, “I Yeild.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you my lady.” Jaime smirked.

“You are a scoundrel you know that?”

“Yes I do know that, but you’ve never complained.” He said leaning forward to kiss that lovely spot on her white neck.

“Haven’t I?” Brienne said playfully, her voice breathy from their tussle and his affections.

“I think I have to do this.” Jaime said licking and biting at her neck and collarbone.

“You must what?” Brienne asked her breathiness increasing.

“I think I must bed a dragonslayer in this very orchard.”

Brienne’s eyes snapped open; she bucked her hips and tossed Jaime to the side, delivering a smacking blow to his arm.

“Ouch! That will leave a mark!” Jaime laughed.

Their jovial play was interrupted by a dark shadow from above, like a cloud passing over the sun.

“Where are the children?” Brienne asked, her voice only slightly hinting at her worry.

 

 

Daenerys bent down, her hand cradling Evan’s face.  “You know I once had a son.”

“Children you should bow and curtsy to your Queen.” Brienne said as she moved in closer to where Daenerys stood beside the children, Evan on her right and Giselda to her left. Both listening to their mothers request delivered a little bow and curtsy, Giselda dressed in breeches curtsied with non-existent skirts.

Daenerys smiled and nodded to each of them.

Giselda then shouted excitedly to them “Mother, father! Did you see the dragon?!”

“Ser Hyle, could you please take the children back for their supper?” Brienne asked.

“It’s way too early!” Giselda exclaimed.

“Let’s go whelps!” Hunt pushed the children along, quick to recognize Brienne’s intentions to have them moved away from Daenerys.  As Hunt gently pulled them along, both children protested verbally, reluctant to go.

“But I want to see the dragon!” Evan pleaded.

“Mother killed one you know!” Giselda announced, proud to share her knowledge.

Jaime watched with some amusement as both the Queen and Brienne flinched at Giselda’s proclamation.

 

Once the children and Hunt were well away Daenerys approached them.  The Queen was adorned in engraved leathers; flourishes dyed the color of a pale rose. She wore a tunic and breeches, Jaime supposed the breeches made riding a dragon less cumbersome.

 

“Your Grace.” Brienne curtsied with her own invisible skirts.

“You Grace.” Jaime bowed.

 

The customary greetings out of the way Daenerys explained to them the intentions of her first visit to Tarth.

“I’ve come to inquire as to why you have not answered my letters; it is my understanding that your brother has sent you several.”

Jaime shifted uncomfortably feeling Brienne’s eyes narrow on him. “What letters?”

Daenerys observing their obvious discord took the opportunity to continue. “The realm has need of you and your Sapphire Knights.  I’ve come to survey them for myself and to witness with my own eyes if the rumors are true.”

“I assure you they are.” Brienne bristled at the suggestion their trained soldiers could be anything less.

“I believe you.” Daenerys smiled. “I will need them all.”

“I can gather those that are ready, but that would only be a few hundred.” Jaime knew it was a little less, but let his wife continue.

Daenerys shook her head. “No, I need all that you have ever trained.”

Thousands, Jaime thought.

Brienne’s forehead stitched trying to comprehend the Queen’s request. “Your grace, the knights are sworn to come when called by House Tarth, it is a part of their vows, but this is only to be exacted when there is an immense danger to the realm.”

“Now would be that time.” Daenery’s said.

“I don’t understand, what has happened?”

Jaime waited for the Queen’s words; the name he knew would draw his wife away to war, away from their peaceful home and life, away from their children.

“Stannis.”

Chapter Text

“Stannis is dead,” Brienne said her voice low and uncertain.

“No. He is alive, and all by all accounts he is amassing an army in the east; gathering his forces and determined to wage war. We must stop that from happening.” The Queen said assertively.

Brienne stood silently watching the blue waters of the sea, her arms crossed and her brow furrowed; Jaime held his breath as he waited for his wife’s reply. Her long braid hung down her back, a few strands had loosened with their play in the orchards, a blade of pale  grass was tangled and blowing in the wind.  She had grown out her hair all these years, every morning a servant would braid it into a style that allowed her to train and combat easily.  In the evenings Jaime took great pleasure loosening her braid and running his fingers through her flaxen locks.  There wasn’t a day that passed when Jaime didn’t recognize the true happiness he had found with her by his side and the family they had created.

“Perhaps we could have the evening to convene?” Jaime offered, he needed to offer a diplomatic ‘no’, hoping to buy time to speak with Brienne before she pledged their house to this war.

Daenerys hesitantly nodded. “Of course.” A pleasant smile upon her lips.

“Thank-you your Grace.” Brienne answered. “Let us walk with you to the castle, we shall sup and have a room prepared for you.”  Her eyes drifted to the dragon laying in the tall grasses under a cluster of trees. “What accommodations need to be made for your dragon?”  Brienne looked at the beast with guilt.  She had never relished her victory over Drogon, although most subjects in the  Queendom celebrated her slaying of the dragon with stories and song.

“Do you have a stable hand I may speak with?  He will need food, Viserion favours horse meat.”

The gall of royalty, Jaime thought with some bitterness. He bit his tongue, thankful the Queen had allowed them some respite from an immediate decision.

“Certainly your Grace.” Brienne nodded.

“Your brother sends his regards,” Daenerys turned to Jaime a pleasant smile on her face, her eyes saying something else.

Jaime silently nodded, and motioned in the direction for the trio to make way to Evanfall Hall.  He had not seen his brother since Kings Landing over seven years ago, before the birth of the twins, and the birth of his own son, a year younger than his own, tucked away at the Rock with his mother Sansa.  They wrote to each other occasionally.  Jaime admittedly enjoyed Tyrion’s letters they were always peppered with wit and his voice travelled well scrolled in ink. Ever the dutiful Hand Tyrion was occupied with setting the Queendom right, he and Brienne had been busy building their own lives on Tarth, their training of the Sapphire Knights being paramount.  Jaime’s anger had ebbed over the years where Tyrion was concerned, and his heart longed to see his brother again.

“What a beautiful piece of land Tarth is,” pleasantries came easily to the Queen, she smiled as she spoke admiring the landscape.

It was the beginning of summer and the trees hung heavy with early fruit, the wild flowers and gentle grasses blew fragrant breezes through the air.  Tarth truly was a lovely gem, surrounded by blue waters of all shades, and lush green forests.  It was the fraction of the size his lands at Casterly Rock had been, but it felt more like home than anywhere he had ever been.

“Thank-you, your Grace.” Jaime said politely. Despite his sour mood he too could act the pleasant host when necessary.

As they neared the castle battle training could be heard rising up from the yards. There had been many improvements made to Evanfall Hall over the years, where other houses fell as the winter stretched on, their home grew more impressive.  They would need to make more additions again soon, there seemed to be an increase of recruits every year, half of the ones currently in training had to be housed in tents.

It could be an easy excuse to take his leave, to join his men in training,  but he did not trust to leave Brienne alone with Daenerys, who knew what vows she would make in his absence.  He was desperate to speak with her privately before any commitments were made needlessly

Hunt must have warned the servants of the Queen’s presence. The dining hall was hastily being prepared, fresh linens of their house colours were laid out on the tables, their finest settings and cutlery, fresh flowers arranged in the center of the table. The midday meal was set out before them, several servants scrambling in from the kitchens with an assortment of delicacies.  Jaime could only imagine the state the cook had been in upon learning the Queen would be dining with them.   In a scant amount of time they had filled the table with an assortment of savory meats, cheeses, fruits  and breads.  A nervous looking servant girl poured their wine and hurried away. Hunt had the good sense to keep the children in the kitchens; it would be a small casual meal of just the three.

What a strange set of dinner companions they made.  The Kingslayer, the Lady Dragonslayer and the conquering Targaryen Queen.  Jaime thanked the Gods no minstrels were present.

They ate little in an uncomfortable silence.  Jaime grimaced and prepared himself for the small talk that they would be required to make. Gods knew his wife left that work to him, Brienne was hopeless at dinner chatter.

“How goes things in the capital my Grace?” Jaime asked Daenerys.  He couldn't imagine being any less interested a topic, but knew it was a subject she would have plenty to elaborate on.

Daenerys seemingly grateful for the conversation swallowed the food in her mouth and nodded.  “Very well.  It has taken time but we have recovered nicely, the population is not as it once was before the wars, I am told that the people are fed and happy. We have rebuilt most of the gates, and are opening new trades with the free eastern cities.

“Your Dothraki?” Jaime asked moving the conversation along.

“Some, yes.”

The Queen continued to speak of the fine goods brought in from the Essos capitals, Jaime half listened, his eyes searching for his wifes.  Brienne was distracted, biting her lip and deep in thought, she was absolutely useless with entertaining. Then unexpectedly she asked.

“How is it that Stannis is alive?”

As subtle as a thunderclap… Jaime thought reaching for his wine.