Apr. 5th, 2013

ladytp: (Anne of Cleves)
Jaime

Having more than enough time on his hands in King’s Landing, Jaime explored the city with fresh eyes. He avoided his old hangouts; higher class winesinks and taverns where the Kingsguard members used to while the time away. Instead he explored smaller inns and exotic drinking holes near the harbour, and enjoyed just walking along the busy streets amongst the signs of new order and prosperity brought on by peace.

When he reflected back on his old self he could see how much he had truly changed. Feelings of entitlement, spurred on by the arrogance of youth, had given way to mature contemplation. He wished he had known then what he knew now. Would he have been able to change his fate, or that of Cersei? Or even that of the whole kingdom? Had he faced the Mad King again, he would have done as he did, that much he knew, but he might have been more diplomatic about its aftermath. He recognised the recklessness of his actions and the impact they had had on Robert’s reign, not least on his succession.

None of that mattered, however; what had happened could not be fixed. All he could control was his future and he set about doing just that. He had farewelled Cersei from his life – but what would he have in it after her? Or was his path to be a lonely one from thereon, only his memories – tinted with regrets and shame – as consolation? Jaime had felt his blood stir in a way so different from before, but wondered if he could ever find the fulfilment that he yearned for.

One evening he found himself in a particular tavern on the Street of Silk. He had heard about it from Renly Baratheon many years ago; a story told in a drunken state when all men are most likely to share their secrets with an added advantage that most of them will not be remembered afterwards. Loras Tyrell had been in Highgarden on an extended stay at the time, and although Renly clearly missed his companion, he was not above finding his pleasures elsewhere.

Renly had told Jaime about the inn where men of a certain persuasion could be assured to meet good company. He hadn’t specified to Jaime what persuasion he was talking about, but it wasn’t difficult to guess by anyone who knew about him and his long-term relationship with Loras.

The inn was called ‘Dragon Knight’ and was located on that famous street of entertainment and debauchery, that much Jaime remembered. It was unusual for it to have kept its name under Robert’s rule, when many other names referring to dragons or Targaryens had been changed.

Jaime eyed the inn suspiciously. It looked just like any other establishment on the street; nondescript, functional, with a sturdy door equipped with a peephole and a small window facing the street. Inside it didn’t look any better; robust wooden tables and chairs scattered across several small rooms, some rooms having partly enclosed booths with couches. The innkeeper and several serving lads were busy behind the counter and running about carrying flagons of wine and tankards of ale.

It was halfway through the evening and things were not yet as lively as they would be later on that night. Jaime decided to sit down and have a drink. Why not, he was not on duty and nobody waited for his return. He called for a serving boy.

Soon he nursed a goblet of wine – which was not bad but not refined either - and observed the room where he was sitting from one of the booths. Other patrons were mostly like him; lonely men sitting by themselves, some with a hood covering their face. According to Renly the inn had not been known only for its ability to attract that certain type of clientele, but served ordinary drinkers as well, which reduced any suspicion of inappropriateness for anyone seen there.

Jaime wasn’t sure why he had come there and what, if anything, he was expecting to happen. His recent meeting with Cersei was still on his mind. The relief was still there, but also a feeling of loss. What did he have left in his life? Sansa, of course, and the cause of the North. Yet it didn’t keep a man warm on a cold night, he mused to himself. As his thoughts turned to Sandor, he had a much better inclination of what he longed for, although he was still unsure of what exactly it would entail. Yet he also knew that he would be extremely unlikely to ever get what he wanted. The kiss they had shared on his departure had thrown him off, but he tried not to read too much into it. He had been, after all, on his way to his possible demise. A dog throwing a bone. The thought amused him and he was smiling quietly to himself when a figure appeared from nowhere and sat down opposite him.

“Care for some drinking company, kind ser?” The voice was soft and speech refined. Jaime looked up and saw a tall, slender youth with brown hair and delicate features. His brown eyes regarded Jaime’s with a friendly expression.

“Why would you think I am a ser?” Jaime asked, taken slightly off-guard.

“You are clearly of noble birth, your bearing and countenance attests to that. If you are not a ser or a lord, my observational skills are in dire need of improvement,” the young man continued, flashing a bright smile.

“My name is Emmon Waters, at your service.” Jaime noticed he didn’t ask his name. He wasn’t sure if he would have given it even if asked – his name was too famous and seemed to cause a commotion whenever it came up.

“Greetings, Emmon Waters. I suppose you are thirsty then. What could I offer you in the way of refreshment?”

“Wine or beer will be fine, perhaps the same that you are drinking yourself would be suitable.” Emmon made himself comfortable in his seat while Jaime raised his hand for service.

“I could ask you what brings you to our famous capital, how you have enjoyed this beautiful city and how long do you plan to stay here. Would you like me to?” Jaime lifted his eyebrow, secretly amused by the young man’s bold approach.

“You could ask me all those questions but I am not sure I would give you any answers. Yet I would like to ask you why you think that I am only visiting?”

“You are dressed differently to the locals. I have also seen you around the city before, wandering aimlessly from place to place. The city’s residents tend to have urgent things to do at all times, which require them to hurry.”

This boy is good, Jaime thought. Not the first time he has talked to a stranger. He observed the lad as he took a drink from his flagon. He was clean-shaven and had an intelligent face; a pretty boy in the same fashion as Loras had been.

Jaime tried to assess if he felt anything towards this newcomer. Maybe he could satisfy his curiosity with him, explore things he had so far only vaguely imagined? Yet as much as he liked the general appearance and bold acumen Emmon had shown, he didn’t feel any stirrings of desire. He decided to do a favour for both of them and make this clear to his new friend.

“As much as I enjoy your company, Emmon, I am afraid it might be not in your best interest to waste your valuable time with me. I am not looking for someone like you, only enjoying a quiet drink at the end of a busy day ‘wandering aimlessly’, as you put it.”

Emmon didn’t seem to be the least bit offended but continued to look at Jaime boldly.

“As much as it disappoints me to hear that, I do understand. We each have our own preferences and there is nothing wrong with that. Yet I feel that you are not here solely to enjoy a quiet drink, dear ser. Maybe one of my friends would be more to your liking.” After that he stood up, looked around and apparently seeing what he was looking for, he gestured to the other side of the room.

Jaime followed his gaze and saw another man rising from the window seat he had occupied. He was older than Emmon, and much, much larger. As he walked towards them, Jaime saw him to be at least as tall as himself, possible taller, and much broader. He had the strong neck and powerful shoulders typical of smiths and armourers.

Before Jaime could say anything, the man reached their booth and sat down, greeting Emmon with a curt nod.

“Dear ser, allow me to introduce to you my friend, Meryn the Smith. He is a native of King’s Landing, born and bred in the Street of Steel.”

The other man nodded to Jaime, who returned his greeting. He had jet black hair and dark brown eyes, and short dark stubble covered his cheeks and chin. He was most certainly not a pretty boy, but a man of considerable strength and vigour.

Jaime was tantalised. He didn’t know the rules of the game, wasn’t even sure if these two men were nothing but friendly locals welcoming a traveller amidst them – but then again, he was sure if he wanted, he could get friendly with either of them soon. Really friendly.

“You are a soldier, I see. With good weapons and armour. One can respect that,” Meryn growled. His voice was low and slightly hoarse.

“Yes…I am a soldier. A commander. Thank you for complimenting my weapons, I am very proud of them,” Jaime replied, eyeing his sword and dagger. Brienne still carried Oathkeeper, but Jaime had acquired a very good blade from Winterfell’s forge and Sandor had insisted he take back the dagger Jaime had given to him.

“You can tell what kind of man someone is from the way he keeps his arms,” the man continued.

“Is that so? And what do mine say about me, pray tell?” Jaime couldn’t help his curiosity.

Meryn directed a considering look at Jaime, eyeing him from the top of his head to his feet. The sweep included his sword and dagger, fastened as they were to his belt.

“You are a man who uses his weapons with consideration. You were more reckless in your youth and involved yourself with fights that you should have stayed away from. Yet you never dashed into anything new heedlessly, but kept on fighting for the same cause all over again. Eventually you gave that up and have searched for a new reason to fight ever since. You have gone through some skirmishes, but nothing really substantial. The new cause you have committed yourself to is something which you have no experience of, and you are unsure about how to engage in these new fights and what to wield.” He leaned closer and his voice changed even lower.

“You are a master of your sword, but if you are not careful, it will end up rusty and unused. And that would frustrate you greatly, as wielding a blade for a good cause is when you feel most alive.”

Jaime stared at him, wide-eyed. What in the seven hells is he talking about?

“That dagger is good for a melee where you can swing it in a wide arc, but for hand-to-hand combat you may want to consider a shorter blade,” Meryn continued, pointing at Jaime’s dagger.

Jaime stared at the dagger and realised the man was right; he himself had known that for a while but for sentimental reasons had not wanted to part from it.

Emmon bowed to Jaime and withdrew discreetly, wishing him an enjoyable stay in King’s Landing. Jaime thought he should leave as well, but it was not often he met someone with a sound knowledge of weapons and armoury, so he shrugged his shoulders and asked Meryn what he wanted to drink.

----------

Much later, and after many flagons of wine, they had exhausted their stories of weapons. Meryn was a true smith, and had good knowledge of all things concerning steel and armament. Jaime had enjoyed their discussion, but had also sensed an undercurrent which he was not entirely sure what to make of.

The other man was not pushy, taking his time to voice his thoughts, and was seemingly not in a hurry for anything but a friendly discussion. Yet he rested his huge hands on the table close to Jaime’s, and when he talked, he leaned close to Jaime even though the noise in the room didn’t warrant it. And his gaze had become more intense as the night drew on, boldly capturing Jaime’s and not letting it go.

Jaime fought with himself. Did he feel attracted to this stranger? Hells yes! The power and masculinity he emanated reminded him of Sandor, and he felt drawn towards it. Yet… he was not Sandor, and in some inexplicable way the difference meant more to Jaime than he could have rationalised. Maybe it was the same as it had been with Cersei. He could have easily had other women, especially when they had been apart. Yet he had never desired it. The contrast to his current situation was of course that he had never had Sandor and was likely never to have him either, he reminded himself. Why shouldn’t he try to seek some comfort from where he could find it, no matter how fleeting it would be?

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Additional authors notes: I am taking a leaf from the book of my esteemed colleagues such as [livejournal.com profile] luvxena - meaning that I will blame it all on ‘the muse’ and how she has completely overtaken me and my clear, clean plans… In other words, in contradiction to my earlier convictions, the next chapter will be Sandor’s POV!
After a long time of giving Jaime and Sansa room to air their thoughts, desires and gradually growing obsession with the real centre of the triangle, Sandor, the need for him to air his views became more and more pressing for me…
So indeed, next chapter will be Sandor’s POV.
Until then… J

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