May. 5th, 2013

ladytp: (Anne of Cleves)

Jaime was restless. It had been weeks since the Northern delegation had arrived in King’s Landing, and still there hadn’t been any real progress in their cause. He told Tyrion as much, getting in return only his commiserations on how there was no hurrying kings and queens.

Whether Jaime’s complaints had expedited matters or not, he never knew, but the following evening he was invited to the Hand’s solar once again. Tyrion met him at his desk and in a dry and official manner promised to tell him what was going to happen next. However, before he did so, he extracted a promise from Jaime to maintain the secrecy for a while longer and to act surprised when he heard the same news from the queen and king in a few days’ time.

All the news Jaime heard from Tyrion was good. Most importantly for himself, he was to be pardoned for his grievous sin of killing the last Targaryen king. Jaime sighed in relief. He had anticipated as much, but hearing it said out loud was better than hoping.

He knew Tyrion had had a big role in the decision, and felt his affection towards his little brother surge anew. Before he could talk or act on it, Tyrion moved forward, possibly intentionally. They had always been close, but the events of when they had last parted were still raw, and some things were yet too delicate to be voiced.

There was good news for the delegation as well; the North and Stormlands were to be readily accepted back into the Seven Kingdoms. The only requirement was for both Lady Sansa and Lord Stannis to bend the knee and promise their allegiance and support to the central rule.

To Jaime’s protestations of how it could be difficult to get Sansa to travel all the way back to the place of her torment for the ceremony, Tyrion had only smiled cryptically and ignored him.

The next news did surprise Jaime; the acceptance of Jon Snow as Rhaegar Targaryen’s son and the third head of the dragon. The announcement was to be made in an illustrious ceremony a few days hence, before the Northerners were to hear the answers to the matters they had raised.  Jaime couldn’t help smiling. He had learned to appreciate and like the young man, and the thought of the overlooked Stark bastard suddenly becoming one of the highest ranked men in the realm had a delicious irony that resonated with him.

Even better news followed. It seemed that the sovereigns – and the Hand – had accepted the threat beyond the Wall to be serious and had decided to take action. The issue was to be handled with urgency and decisiveness. The Oldtown maesters had already been tasked with locating information about how to conquer such old woes from their vast collection of accumulated wisdom of Westeros. Daenerys, Aegon and Jon were to take to the skies with the dragons and fly to the Wall to fight the Others with dragonfire. Also, a vast army was going to be sent to the North, first traveling with the Northern delegation to Winterfell, and from there to the Wall.

At that point Tyrion leaned forward and announced that the dragons’ first landing was to be in Winterfell, and Lady Sansa could bend the knee to her new sovereigns in her own keep. Again, relief flooded Jaime. He realised he wanted to save Sansa from suffering and hardship just as he had once wanted to protect Cersei. He had failed her miserably when she had been forced into a loveless marriage with Robert, and he had no intention of letting Sansa down if he could help it.

Then the meeting took a new, unexpected turn.

“As a matter of course, there is something more I need to discuss with you concerning Lady Sansa.” Tyrion pressed his fingers together to form an arc and coughed to clear his throat. “When she is officially released from our not-so-sacred wedlock, she is ready to marry again. And she needs to wed, of that I am sure we all agree.”

Jaime nodded, knowing the reality of it. He knew Sansa was aware of the situation as well, and they had often discussed the matter.

“The Iron Throne is not keen to see her join with another powerful house in the North. It wouldn’t take more than a few overexcited, bone-headed Northern lords to make the kingdoms rise again if something agitates them.”

“I appreciate your concerns, but I’m afraid it is not up to you or me or anybody else to tell Lady Sansa whom she is to marry. Besides, she plans to rule in her own right, her husband not being the Lord of Winterfell, but only her consort,” Jaime replied, wondering what Tyrion had in mind.

“I understand, but unfortunately she may not be quite as free as she thinks. Our spies – yes, all the little birds didn’t disappear with Lord Varys – have reported credible threats against her. It wouldn’t be the first time that a lady with a powerful claim would be forcibly wedded and bedded. Afterwards there would be no way to annul the marriage, irrespective of the way it came about.”

Jaime was stunned by what he heard. Someone planning to abduct Sansa? The thought of Sandor protecting her comforted him, but soon he realised that even a formidable warrior like him might not be enough against a well-orchestrated attack.

“In addition, there is the question of the continuation of the Stark bloodline,” Tyrion continued. “A young woman on her own is not much of an assurance for the future; she could be easily swept away by sickness or accident. With her gone there would be no Starks left, so should she marry and carry an heir or two, the contentment of her bannermen would increase considerably.”

“Who would you suggest as her husband then? It appears you have given the matter extensive consideration,” Jaime muttered sullenly.

“He can’t be anyone too high, but not too lowborn either. He must have no political ambitions of his own and agree to a role as her consort. He has to be someone the Iron Throne – and that includes me - can trust. And lastly, it seems that he has to be accepted by Lady Sansa as well. It is a big ask - but I think I have exactly the right candidate in mind.” Tyrion rose to his full height behind his desk, and although it wasn’t much, it lent more gravity to what he was saying.

“Who would be such a paragon of virtues and advantages, brother?” Jaime was still sceptical about Tyrion’s speech. He might have a point, but it didn’t mean that Sansa would agree.

“I thought you would have figured it out by now. Tsk tsk, Jaime, you are not as astute as I thought you were,” smiled Tyrion. “You of course – who else?!”

Jaime looked at him, shocked.

“Me? You mean to suggest I should wed Sansa?”

“That’s exactly what I have been leading you towards for a last little while. I am elated you finally caught my drift,” Tyrion replied dryly. “I suspect she would accept you gladly. From what you have told me, you two get on famously. You have saved her and she trusts you as one of her closest confidantes. You would make a perfect couple.”

Jaime was speechless. Marry Sansa? The thought had never crossed his mind.

Before he could gather his thoughts, Tyrion walked to him and patted his shoulder. “Let’s keep this discussion amongst ourselves for now. The queen and king know, but let’s not hurry ahead of ourselves. When they meet in Winterfell, we’ll see what Lady Sansa thinks about this plan – which, even though I say so myself, is a brilliant one.”

Tyrion turned to waddle out of the room, gesturing Jaime to follow.

“Enough serious talk, let’s enjoy some food and wine! Have you ever tried a stew of minted lentils, heavily spiced and served with fried salty cheese? They eat it all the time in the Free Cities. Delicious!”


Jaime couldn’t shake Tyrion’s suggestion out of his mind. The next day he walked around King’s Landing, wandering aimlessly back and forth in its narrow streets, eventually finding himself in an anonymous winesink near the harbour.

While clutching a tankard of piss-poor ale he contemplated the notion. If he was totally honest, there had been times when he had felt drawn towards Sansa and wondered what if… That night in Greywater Watch when she had stolen into his bed, Jaime had been aroused in a way he hadn’t been for a long time. He had however refused to permit such thoughts to take root in his mind, afraid that they might upset the carefully wrought new state of affairs between them if allowed to flourish.

Would Sansa even consider such proposal? Jaime knew she appreciated and respected him – and there was the kiss she had given him on his departure. It had been so soft and tender, but not entirely innocent or dispassionate. Yet just like Sandor’s hesitant kiss, it had most likely been only a gesture of kindness at a time of farewells, he had concluded.

Sandor... How would he take the news in the unlikely event that Sansa would agree? Despite his measured denials of having any feelings towards her, Jaime had every now and then caught his gaze when it had been directed towards Sansa. It had held in it an unspoken longing and vulnerability that touched Jaime. He cares more than he is willing to admit.

The two of them had often laughed at hapless suitors of the Lady of Winterfell, placing bets on who would win the privilege of sitting next to Sansa at the dais, or who would be allowed to escort her in the keep. They had given them nicknames; “Skinny”, Slobber”, “Puppy” and many others besides. Nonetheless, behind all their laughs had been the uneasiness of knowing that one day one of those pathetic admirers would wrap his cloak around the shoulders of their lady. She had to marry, there was nothing to be done about it.

Would Sandor find it easier if his little bird married within their pack? Jaime would honour their special relationship and wouldn’t mind Sandor staying on as her sworn shield even after her marriage, as he knew he would. Or would he detest Jaime for breaking the agreement they had made, about neither of them disgracing Sansa? Yet if Jaime wed her, it wouldn’t be a disgrace.

My wife.

Jaime tasted the word in his mouth. Taking a wife had never been part of his plan. First, because the only woman he wanted, he couldn’t marry, and later the vows of the Kingsguard had rendered other desires moot.

Then another thought took form at the back of his mind. We could have children. Without realising, his grip on the tankard tightened until he sensed its thin metal giving in and the vessel being crushed in his hand.

When Cersei had given birth to Joffrey, Jaime had rushed in, ignoring scandalised midwives and servants. He had stayed, holding her hand and cursing the agony painted on her beautiful face, until the new life had been pushed into the world. As the midwife had returned the babe, tightly swaddled and mewling faintly, to Cersei’s lap, Jaime had reached to take him into his arms – my son, my firstborn.

Cersei’s touch and voice had stayed his hands. “Thank you, dear brother. As you can see, the ordeal is now over and you can go. When you see the king, could you let him know that he has a son?”

And so it had been ever since. The surge of emotion Jaime had felt had never found its true outlet, and the feelings he had for his son had to be pushed far, far into the deep recesses of his mind. With Myrcella and Tommen he hadn’t even been allowed into the birthing chamber, and seeing their chubby faces later only served as a bitter reminder of what he couldn’t have.

Things had changed between him and Cersei after the children. The fervent love Cersei had felt towards him had somehow diminished and been redirected to her children. It was natural and to be expected, Jaime suspected. He couldn’t help thinking that had he been allowed to be a father to his children, instead of them driving a wedge between them, a shared parenthood might have heightened their love. If only…

My sons. My daughters.

Suddenly he realised that once again Tyrion had found a perfect solution; for the realm, for himself, for Jaime, possibly even for Sansa. Jaime knew she wasn’t keen to marry any of her suitors, hating the idea of being beholden to a stranger who couldn’t understand what she had gone through. Her experiences at the hands of Littlefinger, although seldom mentioned, had also left their mark on her. She wasn’t an innocent maiden any more, but nor was she a hardened woman. She could still hurt, and an insensitive husband could break her just as Jaime had crushed his tankard. Sansa was strong, she had steel in her, but she was also fragile as a winter rose and Jaime hated the idea of seeing her wither in the hands of some thoughtless lord.

Jaime winced. If they should marry, they would share a bed as a husband and wife. For a moment he felt himself stir at the memory of Sansa’s breasts pressing against his chest and the curve of her hip against his hand. He would have to be gentle, he would need to give her time… he would have to do his best to banish the dark shadows of Littlefinger from her life.

Curiously Jaime felt as if the thoughts he had previously pushed out of his mind were now free to roam. Reflections of Sansa’s red hair spread on the pillow, her lips parted in expectation of a kiss, her beautiful body revealed to his gaze… Jaime closed his eyes and felt a surge of desire.

Idly he wondered why he felt so aroused by imagining Sansa, when only a few days ago he had been thrilled by the touch of a man. He knew it was not usually so, those drawn to other men rarely being interested in women. Everyone knew Renly hadn’t consummated his marriage with Lady Margaery, who was a strikingly beautiful woman.

Jaime’s thoughts flickered back to Sandor. He had accepted that Sandor didn’t look upon him that way. Nonetheless, he had allowed Jaime to touch him, yielding to his thinly disguised caresses. He had even agreed to kiss him, seven hells!  Jaime couldn’t imagine any other red-blooded, hardened fighter doing so. What did it mean?

As he had hundreds of times before, Jaime tried to solve the riddle that was Sandor Clegane, wishing he had a key to his mind. Would Jaime marrying Sansa break their fragile relationship apart? Would Sandor feel himself to be an outsider, banished from their pack?

By the time Jaime returned to the Keep, he had made up his mind. Come hells or high water, after his return to Winterfell he would discuss the matter first with Sandor. If Sandor accepted the plan, he would offer Sansa his cloak of protection and ask her to marry him. And he would make sure they would remain a pack, Sandor staying as close to both of them as he was now.


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April 2017

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