Mar. 24th, 2013

ladytp: (Anne)
Jaime

Jaime had not been so nervous since Cersei had been in childbed with Joffrey. The same feeling of clammy hands, a knotted stomach and dry throat plagued him now as he paced the solar of the Hand. He had been waiting for…how long now? Was this Tyrion’s way of showing him what his place was, to be at the whim of the Hand?

They had arrived in King’s Landing the previous evening, waiting at the Dragon Gate until a messenger had brought word from the keep that they were allowed to enter. Jaime noticed to his surprise that for a defeated city, it had suffered surprisingly little damage. Everything appeared well-ordered, and he had no doubt that much of it was due to his brother, who had shown a remarkable amount of common sense and organisational skill during his earlier stint as the Hand of the King.

Their small party had been directed to one of the smaller halls and told that they would be dealt with on the following day. In the morning as they were breaking their fast, a servant came to deliver a message to Jaime that the Hand wanted to meet him as soon as possible.

The ornate door handle turned and the door opened silently. Jaime turned towards it and saw Tyrion entering with his familiar waddle. He stopped and stared at Jaime, his asymmetrical eyes studying him. Tyrion looked the same as before, except older, and the scars on his face had faded from what Jaime remembered from the last time they had met… in the dark corridors under the Red Keep. Jaime shook his head; he didn’t want to think of the past.

“Brother,” Tyrion finally uttered. Jaime took the few steps needed to close the distance between them and knelt in front of Tyrion.

Their faces were level as he gazed deep into his mismatched eyes.  The look in them was scrutinising, serious…but also held in them an emotion he couldn’t decipher.

“Tyrion, I am so sorry. So sorry for everything; for believing our lord father rather than asking you what you wanted, for not recognising what I did to you for a long time afterwards, for not being a better brother.”  Jaime’s voice wavered and he stopped. His shoulders sagged under the weight of those examining eyes and he felt helpless. How can I make him understand my sincerity? How can I make him see that this is not just an act to obtain forgiveness?

Finally Tyrion moved, lifting his short arm to touch Jaime’s shoulder, squeezing it.

“Brother, words can’t express how relieved I am to see you here, alive and well. To think I might have lost you…” Tyrion looked for a moment to be at a loss for words and irrationally Jaime thought that may possibly be the first time ever. Tyrion recovered quickly though, a smile appearing on his face.

“What an adventure we both have had! Come here and embrace me!” Jaime did as he was bid and they clasped each other, awkwardly at first but the familiar act soon carried them past the self-consciousness.

“Tell me Jaime, what on earth possessed you? I expected to arrive here and see you as the Lord Commander of Tommen’s Kingsguard, and what do I hear? That you have absconded with some hideous woman warrior, not to be seen or heard from again before a raven flies in telling us that you are in the North. In the North, of all places! If I recall correctly, you hated the cold and bleakness of the place!”

Tyrion guided Jaime towards a comfortable-looking chair next to a fireplace and seated himself in the one opposite it. He poured wine into two goblets, handing one to Jaime.

“Too early really to start drinking, but curiously, when you are the Hand, you can do pretty much what you want, when you want,” Tyrion mused.

They spent the morning together, Jaime telling Tyrion all that had transpired since that fateful last meeting. They didn’t touch on Lord Tywin’s death, but Jaime couldn’t blame Tyrion for it too much. He had reconciled himself to it, understanding what had driven Tyrion. Although he didn’t want to admit it, his father’s death had freed him in a way he wouldn’t have conceived of before. Tywin’s presence had loomed large over all of his children, and only when he was gone had Jaime realised how suffocating it had been.

Tyrion told him about his adventures across the Narrow Sea, making japes about his time in the traveling dwarf jousting act. It was late in the afternoon when Jaime realised he had forgotten his companions. Tyrion promised them an audience with the Dragon Queen and King over the next few days and assured they would be well received in a manner fitting the emissaries of the North.

“Rest and relax, explore the city! I bet Lord Commander Jon Snow has never seen anything like this. Maybe you should take him to Chataya, who I believe has re-established her house of pleasure. A recommendation from me would guarantee you the best service.”

“Thank you, Tyrion, but I don’t think he would be tempted. You may recall him being a rather serious young man, and his time on the Wall has not given him much reason to loosen up.”

“Oh yes, that nasty business with the White Walkers and wights… Do you believe it all?” Tyrion cocked his head and looked at Jaime expectantly.

“Although I haven’t seen one with my own eyes, I have heard men whose word I trust telling of them. They are real and they are a threat to the whole of Westeros. You will hear more about them in due course, but rest assured, it is not an old wives’ tale,” Jaime responded, remembering the aim of his journey and the promises he had made to Sansa.

Tyrion smiled and nodded his head. “The time for those discussions will come soon. Queen Daenerys and King Aegon did not go through the trouble of conquering Westeros only to lose it to some monsters from beyond the Wall.”

----------

The delegation was received by the Queen and the King soon enough, as Tyrion had promised. On the long walk towards the dais Jaime noticed that the dragon skulls were back on their original places on the wall. Gone were the hunting tapestries of King Robert, removed to eradicate any testament to his reign.

Queen Daenerys was as beautiful as the tales told; violet eyes, silver hair and a delicate frame. She was dressed regally in a luxurious dress of red and black, embroidered with dragon motifs. She sat on the Iron Throne, her brother’s son Aegon VI seated in an extensively decorated chair next to her. He was tall and slim and similarly coloured, and his eyes were inquisitive as he watched the delegation approaching.

The first meeting was nothing more than a courtesy; bows and greetings and assurances of best wishes on both sides. Jaime approached the rulers on his own afterwards, falling on his knees and confessing to be the man who had killed King Aerys II. Although Tyrion had assured him that it was for the benefit of the court, Jaime found it oddly consoling to submit himself to the mercy of others. Somehow in confessing that one act he felt like he was renouncing his old life of dishonourable deeds.

Queen Daenerys’ eyes bore into him with intensity unusual for such a young woman. Jaime met them squarely, not with defiance but with a composure he hadn’t realised he possessed until that moment. Then he was waved away and the audience was over.

----------

Over the next few days there were several meetings between Tyrion, the Northern delegation and the new Small Council. Jaime also met with several individuals from his past. Ser Barristan Selmy, the Lord Commander of the Queensguard, was wary but seemed to give him the benefit of the doubt. Lord Jon Connington, in charge of the Kingsguard, was similarly reserved but courteous. The rest of the old Kingsguard members were gone, as were old stalwarts from King Tommen’s Small Council.

Jaime advised Jon to discuss his secret with Tyrion privately, and afterwards Jon told him how Tyrion had been surprisingly reasonable about it. He had even quipped about having kept a dragon warm for Jon by riding Viserion with Daenerys on Drogon and Aegon on Rhaegal on their way to Westeros.

In Jaime’s own meetings with Tyrion he had told him that he planned to help his cause – and that of the realm. The members of the Small Council also took the threat beyond the Wall seriously. Yet Tyrion warned that it would take at least a few weeks before the Dragon Queen and King would be ready to give their decision.

As for Jaime’s own exoneration, Tyrion assured him that the stories of the Mad King were well known, and had softened the stance of the new rulers. His best chance still resided with Tyrion, who was highly esteemed by the Queen and King. His acerbic tongue still didn’t do him any favours, but everyone had recognised his abilities as a political advisor and efficient organiser. More’s the pity that our Lord Father didn’t see that earlier. The irony of the least valued of Lord Tywin’s children having risen high and the others fallen so low was not lost on Jaime.

There was still one reunion left for him, and he was strangely reluctant to do it. Cersei was still kept in the Red Keep while her fate was being discussed. Tommen had been released and to everybody’s surprise had been embraced by Queen Daenerys.

“She can’t have any children herself, and Tommen is such a sweet child,” Tyrion had said when he explained the unusual arrangement. “Those two have much in common, both absolutely adore their pets. Tommen’s cats are just a bit less scary than Daenerys’ dragons,” he had chuckled.

Jaime met with Tommen, who greeted him with unabated enthusiasm. Jaime squeezed him tight and felt a lump in his throat. Tommen didn’t know who he truly was to him, and it was better that way. He was only happy to see his uncle, and seemed to have sailed through the war and conquest largely unscathed.

Meeting Cersei would not be that easy, Jaime knew. He put it off for a long time, not being sure what he was afraid of. Did he fear being sucked back into the vortex from which it had been so hard to struggle out?

----------

Finally it was time. Guards let him into Cersei’s rooms in the Maidenvault that had been specifically prepared for her. She was sitting on a couch, next to a low table with a few scrolls and abandoned needlework. She turned her head and for the first time in many years Jaime rested his eyes on his twin, the love of his life, the mother of his children and the woman who had tormented his dreams for as long as he could remember.

She had lines on her face that had not been there before and her complexion was pale and drawn. Yet she was still the beautiful golden girl of his youth and he couldn’t help but stare at her. Their last parting had been in anger and since then he had refused to heed her pleas for help. Would she still be angry?

“Jaime.” Cersei stood up and approached Jaime with extended arms. He bowed and took her hand, kissing it in a fashion that was suited to a brother.

“Cersei.”

“I heard you arrived a fortnight ago. What has kept you from my presence, dear brother?”

“I wasn’t sure how you would receive me. There have also been many meetings to attend, things to discuss.” Jaime was guarded, not wanting to reveal too much.

“Why wouldn’t I receive you with anything less but open arms? You are my dear brother after all.”

Cersei beckoned him to sit down next to her. As he did so, she reached for his good arm and took his hand in hers. She deliberately didn’t look at his other arm, which Jaime had adorned with his golden hand. In Winterfell he had commissioned a lighter hand of hardwood, more practical in everyday life, but for his journey he had chosen to proclaim his position with the golden hand once again.

“Things have not gone so well here, as you know. Targaryen usurpers sit on the throne, my poor Tommen is being bewitched by that woman and Myrcella is expected to marry Trystane Martell, son of that horrible Doran Martell who was the first to declare for the Targaryens!”

“I understand the young couple genuinely like each other. It could be a happy marriage,” Jaime suggested. If Cersei truly loved her children as she claimed, she should be happy for both of them as things could have gone worse – much worse.

Cersei stared at him for a while. “Happy marriage? When has that been a consideration? Do you think our Lord Father had that in mind when he forced me to marry Robert?”

Jaime had no response but Cersei didn’t seem to expect one as she continued.

“I understand that my days as the Queen are over. I am not stupid, I know our cause is lost in Westeros. But we may still have Casterly Rock! Tyrion is the Hand and can influence the Queen and the King. If they forgive you – which I am sure they will, everyone knew that the Mad King simply had to be killed – you could talk to Tyrion and get him to return our seat to you.”

All the while Cersei was talking, Jaime examined her. Her locks were still golden, her eyes the same emerald green that greeted him in the mirror. Yet something had changed, although he couldn’t quite place what it was.

“…and then you and Tyrion could talk them into transferring me to Casterly Rock under your supervision, and over time I could regain my freedom and rule by your side as the Warden of the West.“

Cersei lifted Jaime’s hand to her lips and looked him in the eye.

“We could finally rule together, as we always wished. Just you and me. I…I might even still bear children, I am not too old for that. We could have another golden boy like Joffrey. You would raise him and guide him in the right direction. ” She continued kissing Jaime’s hand, moving her lips to his wrist, then higher up his arm.

Jaime closed his eyes. Apparently taking it as an encouragement, Cersei moved closer and placed her lips onto his neck, sweeping them along his jaw to his ear, then to his cheek and to his other ear, pressing soft kisses along the way. Her tongue darted in and around the shell of his ear, gently biting the earlobe as she went, in a way that used to drive Jaime crazy with lust and longing.

Jaime half-expected the same feeling to overtake him, almost resigned to his inability to resist her as he had never been able to do so before.

Yet nothing happened. He felt nothing.

Opening his eyes he saw Cersei’s face so very close to his own, her beautiful lips spreading into a wide smile as she peered at him. Then Jaime realised what had changed, what he hadn’t been able to figure out before.

The magnetic attraction she had always held for him, the allure that had taken his breath away…was gone. All he saw was a beautiful but tired woman.

He stood up so abruptly that Cersei lost her balance and fell heavily against the couch.

“Cersei, those days are over. There is no you and me anymore, and nor will there be Casterly Rock for us. I am sorry for your incarceration, I truly am, but there is nothing I can do to help your cause. Tyrion might be able to do something but I suspect he will not. Can you blame him?”

Cersei stared at him, her eyes flashing. Jaime remembered that expression very well too, but it affected him as little as her earlier smile.

“I am not sure if they will execute you. Possibly not, as you are only a woman after all, but you can expect to spend the rest of your days in custody.”

“What has happened to you?! I heard about your cowardice and how you abandoned our forces to go the North with that silly Stark girl, but I didn’t realise you had lost your senses as well,” Cersei fumed.

“I came to my senses, finally. That ‘silly girl’, as you call her, is the finest young woman I have ever met and will make a great ruler.  If you had had even some of her good judgment, you wouldn’t be in this predicament now,” Jaime said sadly.

There was no reason for him to stay any longer and he walked slowly towards the door. He realised that he was finally closing a chapter in his life that had needed finishing, and felt relieved.

“Traitor! You are not a true Lannister! Go back to that stupid wolf-bitch and freeze your balls off in the ice. See if I care!” Cersei screamed after him but Jaime didn’t turn back to look at her. He knocked on the door as a sign to the guards and was let out.

As he walked towards his lodging he could still hear her shrieks in his ears. Despite his relief and understanding that the meeting had offered him the closure he had needed, he couldn’t prevent the burning feeling in his eyes.

Goodbye, my love.

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