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Other Lives

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Stannis/Catelyn, Regency AU, prompted by space-kabob

The ball was for Lysa, to find a husband for Lysa Tully and not her older sister Catelyn who had buried one husband and one fiancé already in her young life, and who had to endure the whispers of – “She’s cursed, that’s what she is, those poor Stark boys never had a chance!” – never mind that Brandon Stark had died as a result of a reckless duel, and Eddard Stark had died honorably serving his country in the army, and neither of those things could be said to be Catelyn’s fault at all.

So when Stannis Baratheon asked Catelyn Stark for the honor of dancing with her (not that he had put it quite like that, for it was well-known in London society that the second Baratheon brother was very deficient in manners and courtesies, unlike his two highly-eligible brothers Robert and Renly; Robert’s eligibility guaranteed by the land and title he had inherited as the eldest son, and Renly’s eligibility fortified by his exquisite charm and flattery), faces were turned and tongues started wagging, wondering if this meant that another poor soul would soon depart to meet his Maker.

“Well, I suppose Lord Tully’s eldest daughter is still a catch, even with her careless habit of losing husbands and fiancés, and it is not as if Stannis Baratheon could expect a brilliant match any time soon, the poor dear, so grim and unsociable isn’t heso unlike his brothers and his dear departed Papa,” a society matron was heard speculating with the ladies around her. 

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Stannis/Melisandre, apocalypse AU, prompted by robertarryn

She left him to find the true savior, her real messiah, the one who could save the world, the person who had been in her visions and her flames all along, but she had been too blind to see for a long time - blinded by her own hubris, perhaps - or else blinded by the things she was adamant she did not feel for her fake messiah, or maybe blinded by a combination of both. When she came back to him, he knew that the world was doomed, that they were all doomed for oblivion, for she would never have abandoned her mission, her life-work, while it still had any chance to succeed. They exchanged no words about her leaving and then returning; they waited in companionable silence for the end to come, because everything that needed to be said had been said already by her returning, and by him waiting for her to return.

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Stannis/Jon Snow, Vietnam War AU, prompted by Anonymous

In one of their rare moments of intimacy, Jon had asked the Colonel what it had been like fighting a good war where nothing was murky and uncertain, where the line between good and evil was clearly drawn in the sand, where the words My Lai and massacre had not yet been combined to enter the lexicon as the atrocity committed by American soldiers. The Colonel had laughed in Jon’s face, calling him out for his naiveté - for what were the aerial bombing of Dresden and the atomic cloud over Hiroshima and Nagasaki if not massacres in a grander scale - and in any case, they were foot soldiers, the Colonel and Jon, not politicians or statesmen, and their duty was clear, even if the conduct of war was much less so. Jon admired the Colonel’s steadfast and unwavering sense of duty even amidst his lost idealism and his growing cynicism, the Colonel’s determination to soldier on in the face of a world that he believed had gone wrong a long time ago; but in truth, Jon could not share the Colonel’s worldview, could not live with the resultant deep-seated anger and bitterness.  

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Edmure/Roslin, business rival AU, prompted by robertarryn

“If you value tradition and respectability, then Tully Inc. is the firm to do business with, not Frey & Sons with their suspicious dealings and barely legal money-making schemes,” Edmure is fond of repeating this creed to every potential client. “And why in holy hell is it called Frey & Sons in the first place I will never understand,” Edmure grumbles often to anyone who would care to listen (and even to those who don’t, who find his whining and grumbling very tedious and a great bore, frankly), “when the person truly in charge is the daughter, the only one with brains in that family.”

“Perhaps what you truly resent is the fact that your own father did not name his firm Tully & Son, Mr Tully,” Roslin Frey retorts on one occasion, and instead of going red in the face with barely suppressed fury, Edmure Tully actually smiles and looks at Ms Frey in a different light altogether, telling her in an intimate tone, “Call me Edmure, please, I insist.”

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Stannis/Catelyn, legal AU, prompted by roosebaldton

He told her that a civil suit might be a waste of time and money, that not every case is OJ Simpson where you can be found not guilty in criminal court but then judged to be guilty in civil proceeding, that Tywin Lannister would not hesitate to use his money and influence for the second time to ensure that his son would never be held responsible for Ned Stark’s murder, not even in civil court.

“You’ve changed, Stannis,” Catelyn said, her tone wavering between disappointment and anger, “the old you would never have been concerned about Tywin Lannister and what he could do, you would only care that justice is done.”

I am not as certain as you are how justice would be served in this case, and your husband was not the saint that you think he is, nor am I as convinced of Tyrion Lannister’s guilt as you are, he thought of telling her, but he was her lawyer and she his client, and the days when they could speak openly and honestly with each other was long gone, since the day she chose Ned Stark over him. 

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Stannis /Selyse, hospital drama AU, prompted by lobsteredgauntlet

His lack of drive frustrated her, his habit of assuming that the world would come to recognize his qualities and his merits on its own and would reward him appropriately without him having to do anything to promote himself; he was undoubtedly one of the best cardiac surgeons in the country, if not thebest, so it stands to reason that the recently vacant position of Chief of Surgery should be his by merit, and it never occurred to him that anyone else would be appointed, or was even in the running.

“That’s not how these things work,” she tried to tell him, “you have to put yourself forward, show them that you are the best candidate, talk to the right people and the right committees,” all the things that seemed not only reasonable but also very important, but he scoffed and told her he would not demean himself to the level of politicking and kissing asses, and she was not to do it on his behalf either.

It would have been better if he had been born truly indifferent to the opinion of others, unmoved by the judgment of the world, Selyse thought after he failed to get the Chief of Surgery position (to his great surprise but not hers) - for this residing in the in-between world of steadfastly refusing to bend to accommodate the world or to flatter anyone, yet in his own way still caring about how others saw him and how they were judging him - this was making him more miserable and more bitter with each passing day. 

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Edmure/Roslin, high school AU, prompted by poly-morph

How lucky she is, wallflower Roslin, inconsequential Roslin with her horrible father and her embarrassing family to be dating a boy as popular as Edmure, that’s what everyone in school is thinking. It doesn’t matter a whit to Roslin  - she knows Edmure’s bravado is mostly bluster, hiding a mountain of self-doubt and self-recrimination, and a suspicion that he is forever the butt of some cruel cosmic joke. Edmure suspects that people are laughing at him behind his back, and cares too much about it; Roslin knows for a fact that people laugh at her and her family, and cares very little about the whole thing.

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Tywin /Sansa, science fiction AU, prompted by iheartdramas

He had chosen forty as the age at which he would be frozen in time, shuddering at the ridiculous sight of teenage-looking parents trying to discipline their older-looking children, despising the ridiculous vanity of those who wanted to live their entire life looking young and beautiful, instead of powerful and authoritative. But how was Tywin to know that his son Tyrion would try to do him one better, would choose to grow with his true age, had refused so far to freeze, and was now looking all of his seventy years?

The Starks had balked at Tyrion marrying their young daughter Sansa, but the alliance was vital to both families, so Tywin had promised to marry her instead, with the condition that she would not freeze until her 30th birthday at least, for Tywin had no wish to spend his life with someone people might whisper he was much too old for

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Oberyn /Cersei, Star Wars AU, prompted by danadotkz

“Your twin brother trusts me completely, I don’t see why you have to be so suspicious, my princess,” Oberyn said smirkingly, his tone emphasizing the possessive pronoun rather than the ‘princess’.

“It’s Princess Cersei,” the princess replied haughtily, “and my brother has been separated from my good influence for such a long time, raised among who knows what sort of ruffians, so we should forgive Jaime his occasional lapses in judgment.”

Oberyn was about to ask the princess if the night they spent together was a lapse of judgment on her part, but before he could open his mouth to speak she boldly announced, “Last night is about reminding you who has the upper hand, Oberyn, and long may you remember that.”

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Elia /Jaime, Elia suviving the Rebellion AU, prompted by Anonymous

She had never forgiven him for saving her life; for not running into Rhaegar’s bedroom first to save sweet Rhaenys hiding under her father’s bed, for bursting into that nursery too late after Aegon’s skull was already crushed, for hitting Gregor Clegane repeatedly and intruding on Elia’s journey to reunite with her children.

“If you truly love me as you keep claiming that you do, you will not be so cruel to leave me living in this earthly hell when my children are dead,” she pleaded with Jaime, begged him to kill her, or at least to smuggle something, anything, into her prison cell that would allow her to do the deed herself.

“My father wants you alive, he does not wish to make trouble with Dorne,” Jaime replied, looking not at her but at his feet, and in that instance she understood that his reasons for saving her life had nothing to do with love, and moreover it had not been a tragic accident of timing that he had arrived too late to save Aegon and Rhaenys; so she decided that she was not going to die after all, not until she had taken her revenge on the Lannisters, starting with the man standing in front of her.

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Stannis/Melisandre, politics AU

When the story broke, not just on cable news and from the mouths of gasbags Fox News and MSNBC pundits and commentators, but on the front pages of the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal as well, his campaign almost exploded, presidential ambition blown to smithereens months before the primary. 

"You can’t call her," Davos warned him, the seasoned campaign manager ready to do battle at the fore now, not the old friend who had known Stannis for more than twenty years. 

She would be laughing at the absurdity and ridiculousness of it all, rolling her eyes at the fact that it was her supposedly “strange and un-American religious and spiritual beliefs” that seemed to bother the media more than his alleged infidelity, reminding him that “I was right, wasn’t I?”

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Justin Massey/Asha Greyjoy, high school teachers AU

"I don’t see anything wrong with being friendly with the students," Justin said, slouching in his seat, staring at Ms Greyjoy the Assistant Principal, "especially since we’re not talking about female students here, if that’s what you’re worrying about."

The man was a sore trial to Asha; and how dare he still have that smile on his face, that shit-eating grin that some found so charming, so inviting, so -

"Well, it’s not for me to presume which direction your interest lies, and beingfriendly can so easily lead to accusation of bias, Mr Massey, or worse,” Asha said sharply. 

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Stannis /Melisandre, Regency AU

She was wrong, all wrong - her corset too loose, her fiery red hair too free-flowing, her smile too defiant, her words too forceful, her tone too self-assured - as if she had wagered a great sum of money that she could break all the rules and convention of polite society in just one night.

“Ask me to dance,” she whispered in his ear, when he pretended that she was a stranger unknown to him, pretended that they had not spent countless hours debating Reformation and the Church, pretended that she had not defeated him in numerous arguments (and how much that had secretly thrilled him), pretended that his palms had never, not once, not ever, cupped her heart-shaped face and grazed her ruby-red lips.

He took her hand and they danced, danced like the strangers that they never were; and somehow he managed to pretend, perhaps for the last time, that he was still that man, the one who had never broken any rule in his life.

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Asha Greyjoy/Justin Massey, The Thick of It AU

“I was expecting a visit from the crossest man in Scotland, not the great Malcolm Tucker himself,” Asha said, raising an eyebrow.

“Well, Jamie is currently too busy giving your fuckety fuck of a husband a sound bollocking, reminding Mr Justin fucking Oxbridge twat Massey that yes, we all understand how tiny and shriveled his balls must feel being married to an MP and a Minister with more power in her little finger that he could ever have in his sorry life, but that’s no fucking excuse for his dodgy business deals making the front pages and embarrassing the Government now is it?”

My husband’s business is his own, she could say, or leave Justin alone you twat, but Asha settled for,” Your swearing doesn’t impress me in the least, Malcolm, I grew up with three brothers and a sailor father.”

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Asha Greyjoy/Justin Massey, Law and Order AU

“Be careful with Mr-intense-and –fighting-for-justice Jack McCoy, is all I’m saying, he has a reputation for being more than just friends with the female ADAs,” Justin continued his unsolicited advice.

“I can take care of myself, Mr-hey-can-I-get-into-the-pants-of-all-my-opposing-counsels,” Asha replied, irritated that the conversation had turned personal, and away from the case.

Looking hurt, Justin said, “I would never sleep with anyone from the DA’s office during a case, I always wait until the case is finished.”

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Oberyn Martell/Ellaria Sand, Agatha Christie AU

“Come now, Miss Marple, you don’t really think I killed that man because Oberyn shared his bed from time to time?”

“Well, Ellaria dear, I know that you and Oberyn have made it very clear that this is not a conventional marriage, but of course, human nature being what it is …”

“You’re speaking of jealousy, I presume, but Miss Marple, how can I be jealous when Oberyn and I share everything, in the bedroom and out of it?”

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Stannis/Asha, Poldark AU

His choice of wife was not nearly as scandalous as their neighbor Ross Poldark who had married his former servant, but in Cornwall in the Year of the Lord 1787, it was still considered a shocking breach of good taste (and manner) for a Cornish gentleman of (allegedly) good breeding from an (indisputably) old and established family to marry the daughter of an upstart merchant who was rumored to be little better than a pirate at high sea not too long ago; especially if that woman was also rumored to be heavily, heavily involved in the running of her father’s (now supposedly completely legitimate) prosperous business ventures.

They lived a quiet sort of life though, this particular Cornish gentleman and his new wife, unlike the notorious Poldarks with their never-ending saga of troubles, leading Asha to remark to her husband, one fine morning, “We are not living up to the county’s expectation of scandals and dark dealings.”

“I draw the line at shirtless shenanigans,” Stannis said darkly, remembering Ross Poldark, shirtless in the field under the scorching sun carelessly swinging a scythe without any care for safety or precautions.

“What about swimming naked in the river while I hide behind the grass to spy on your manly countenance and admire your chiseled torso?” Asha teased.  

“We have a perfectly good bath in the house to be naked together,” her husband pointed out, very reasonably.

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Stannis/Asha, Wolf Hall AU

He, Cromwell, thinks, show me a lord and a lady who wed for love, and I will show you unhappiness and misery personified, I will show you chaos reigning from the bedroom extending to the great halls and beyond.

How then to account for his own happiness with Liz? Easy enough as it turns out - they are not lords and ladies born to the manor, he and Liz, they are creatures of the city, and love comes later, for the both of them. It was her property inherited from her late husband that first caught his eyes; it was his persistent, tireless striving that caught hers.     

How to account for the state of the marriage of Lord Stannis and Lady Asha is a more difficult proposition, and he, Cromwell, watches and spies and frets, for that which he does not understand he fears greatly, and rightly so; after all, how is he to plunge the needle or stick the knife in if he could not find an opening, the fatal crack, the faultline running through that marriage?     

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Stannis/Asha, Law & Order AU

“Laws should be made of iron –“

“- and not pudding, I know, I am from the Iron Islands after all.”

“I thought you’re from Staten Island.”

Taking hold of Stannis’ cuffed hands – steel cuffs, not iron, more’s the pity - Asha says, “You’re going to have to step up your game, Mr District Attorney. All this talk of Staten Island hardly counts as sexy foreplay in my book.”

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Stannis/Melisandre, politics AU, Part II

(Part I)

His campaign survived the infidelity scandal, thanks to Donald Trump sucking all the oxygen and attention away from other candidates. At Iowa State Fair, grinding his teeth and refusing yet another piece of deep-fried meat on stick he was expected to gobble and smile his way through on camera, he heard her voice holding forth to a group of reporters, saw her eyes strayed towards him, and had to look away before his eyes were locked with hers.    

She is running to make a point about birthright citizenship and immigration reform, this woman born on American soil, this daughter of an undocumented immigrant whose mother was deported when she was a child of ten, leaving her at the mercy of the foster care system; The New Yorker speculated in a long profile that read more like a novella.

“Sources claim that Senator Baratheon’s campaign is none too pleased with the Senator’s former mistress (and former advisor) entering the race,” Politico “reported” in a snide article that read more like a gossip column.  

They were once a team, they were intimate, they were lovers, yes, yes and yes to all three, but she was never his mistress, or his anything, she was never his to begin with, or anyone else’s for that matter; this woman who had once made it her life-work advising candidates and working to elect politicians in the shadow, but who has now decided that it was her time to step forward into the limelight, in her own right, to “save the world” as she had once earnestly told him, this time without any proxy.

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Aegon v Targaryen/Betha Blackwood, WWI AU

The Great War changed her husband – it seemed almost trite to say this, since the war changed millions of lives and destroyed so many – but that was the truth of it. The man who once renounced his title so he could run for a seat in the House of Commons, who time after time stood on the House floor excoriating the Government for spending more money on guns and ships than on the care and welfare of the people – that same man now lectured and plotted with undisguised zeal about “national strength” and “military buildup.”

Who was this stranger, this interloper who was at once Egg and not Egg, this man in her bed whose kiss still smelled of mint, whose touch traced a familiar course on her body, but whose tongue no longer shared his plans let alone his secrets with her, and whose ears were deaf to her words and her counsel as they had never been before?    

To remake the world into a better place, into what we wish it to be, first we have to hold it in the palms of our hands, that was his new refrain, learned through bitter experience.

He had to continue fighting, or he would drown in the depth of his own despair and disillusionment; she, on the other hand, had to continue reminding him of what they truly stood for and believed in, or she feared they would drown on the route to the new world he was intent on creating, alongside countless others.

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Stannis /Catelyn, vampire AU

He was the one who taught her that decapitation was the best method; that a stake through the heart only worked to immobilize the undead, not destroy them.  

 “My daughter … keep her safe, even from her own father, if need be … promise me, Cat,” he had asked of her then.

Do your duty, his eyes were begging her now.

She remembered the man he once was, wept for the boy she once loved, and did her duty.

Like Stannis, Catelyn has always done her duty.