There were words enough in the world without his, though Tyrion Lannister did miss the sound of his voice and his words.
His days are filled with the sound of other people talking, petitioners for the Queen, guildmasters about taxes, the City guard about the city walls needing repair, envoys from Pentos and Meereen, and the Queen talking about what she wishes. Words surround him. He used to arrange words in skillful ways, adorn himself with his language. He was very clever with his tongue. Now, he is silent and must listen to the words of others.
He has spent the last five years being the Queen’s Hand, here in King’s Landing, as she rebuilt the Red Keep from ash and the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. Daenerys Targaryen, first of her name, is fierce and strong still. She rules alone, still. Most see her as a wise and just ruler, a hero of the War of the Dawn. There are some that hate her, but they keep these thoughts to themselves and do not speak such things
She values strength and truth. She loves the smallfolk and the vulnerable. She still has a great love of dark-haired men and occasionally, a discrete one will fall in her bed for a time, usually less than a fortnight. She values loyalty. Tyrion hasn’t always been loyal, however, a Lannister always pays his debts. Over the years, he has paid for most of his debts. None had been so dear or costly as his treachery to the Dragon Queen.
Before they returned here, triumphant over the Battle for the Dawn and Queen Cersei, she had his tongue removed for its treachery but kept his head firmly on his small body. After all, she needed his mind, not his tongue.
She had several maesters tend to him after his tongue was cut off. In truth, she only had the tip cut off, less than half an inch. Missandei stayed by his bed, and when he was well she taught him to sign language of the Summer Islanders. He can write and he has a girl to speak for him if he needs to speak.
His Queen could not tolerate his treachery that he chose his family over her. He understands her reasons, and though he wishes he had been able to persuade her to cut off his hand or an ear instead, he does not hate Daenerys for it. She needed to make an example of him.
Sometimes when he has drunk too much wine, he wonders why he did it. Cersei hated him his whole life, so why make a deal for her and her child’s throne. He thinks it must have been out of habit for him. He drank because it was familiar. He had gone to whorehouses because it was a routine. He had never gone against his family, and when Cersei had asked him if blood was thicker than water, protectively touching her stomach, he knew he wouldn’t go against his brother and sister. After all, they were the last Lannisters.
Now, he is the last Lannister. There are cousins with the last name Lannister and they push and struggle to get in his good graces to be heir to Casterly Rock. But he is the last of Tywin Lannister’s children and grandchildren. The Giant of House Lannister.
The Princes call him Uncle Hand and he swings the toddlers in his arms, Aegon the Seventh and Rhaegar, like they are his nephews. They are two good boys with a streak of silver in their dark curls and steely lilac eyes, almost like ice. When he tickles them and plays with them, he is sometimes reminded of Tommen and he knows why he betrayed his Queen. He would do it again if it would bring back that sweet boy. He knows his queen is grateful that they have their father’s hair. Even though they are five, scissors have not cut their hair yet. He teases her that soon they will have Dothraki warrior braids.
Queen Daenerys smiles and he knows she does not think that is a bad thing. Tyrion thinks wherever Jon Snow is, he probably doesn’t think it is either.
It makes sense to him the thing he was known for, his wit and his words, is what he lost.. Jaime lost his sword hand, Cersei lost her children, and he lost his tongue.
Of course, he has many things. He has his papers, his collection of books that grows every day. He has an empty Casterly Rock, ruling as both Hand and the Warden of the West, as his father did before him. Podrick is his castellan at Casterly Rock. He has a fleet of ships, soldiers, an entire household of staff both in King’s Landing and at the Rock. He has the mines, full of gold and silver. He has started planting vineyards in the southern Westerlands. He is hopeful in a year or two they might have a passable batch. It is a sadness of Lannisters, to be surrounded by things but to feel empty. He is the richest most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms and yet sometimes he feels an aching.
There were some dark days after his punishment.
When he had been distraught, and when it had seemed unlivable, he had thought about killing himself. But Missandei had been there and so had the Queen. In fact, there had been many people who had come to cheer him up and keep him going. There were Seven Kingdoms who needed him. There was also the voices of Cersei and Tywin that echoed in his head he needed to prove wrong.
There had been a deep loss. Lucky for him, he had learned at an early age what loss was. He slowly healed, and on a sunny but crisp day, the Dragon Queen and her Hand rode triumphantly into the ruins of King’s Landing. He had stayed firmly there on her right side, passing her notes and having Bethany whisper in her ear his words.
Bethany Blackwood had been brought to him at Riverrun. It had been one of those very dark days when all had seemed hopeless. She had been eleven, still a child with dirt on her dress from the mud of the river. Missandei had brought her to him and told him that Lord Tytos had given his daughter to be a cupbearer to the Queen, but that the Queen thought she would be better to be the voice to the Hand. He had not wanted a voice but Missandei had persisted with teaching the girl and the Queen commanded she remain.
Bethany had a natural talent for languages. She learned sign language quickly, and then went on with Missandei to learn other more exotic ones. It was not uncommon for the two of them to be speaking in some foreign language or for Bethany to tell a joke to the Queen in Dothraki to make her laugh. Bethany was a daydreamer, always reading books and getting lost in her thoughts. Sometimes, he felt that Bethany was more than good with languages but that over the years, she had started to know him so well that she knew what he was going to say before he said it.
Quickly, his Queen had learned his sign language. The Queen was practical and she needed to communicate with her Hand. She was good with languages, a product of her life as a child, roaming Essos. They had also developed a language of their own, based on glances and body language, the way he held his arms, her hands and how she folded them, her delightfully expressive eyes.
He might never be able to taste the sweetness of a strawberry, but there was still bitter, there was still sour. Take away the sweetness and the bitter remains.
He might never pleasure a woman with his tongue, but he had fingers and a cock. He had gold enough to hire someone who could use their tongue on his lady. If he needed that... Perhaps he had enough left of his tongue. He had not been with a woman since she had cut out his tongue. He had felt unmanned and weak. He could not even go to the brothel, even after five years. If only Tywin could have known that was the way to stop him, he would have lost his tongue long ago.
The last few months, the Queen believes that it is now Tyrion’s duty to cement his legacy. Casterly Rock needs heirs. His Queen parades eligible ladies, daughters from Great Houses. before him. He thinks to himself that they are all very nice, but why would he saddle any of these nice girls with a noseless, tongueless dwarf, who sits on a mountain of gold. He is like a monster from a child's tale.
He sees their father's eyes, calculating is it worth it to marry their beloved girls to the richest and most powerful man in Westeros, if he is Tyrion Lannister. Sometimes, he wonders if he should marry Bethany, if Lord Tytos would allow it. She truly loves him and has been raised with him, so she does not flinch when he touches her, and she never has pity in her eyes. She cares for him and often chastises him when he does not eat or sleep as he should.
It is strange to think of her as his wife because he never thinks of her, as anything but a child in his care, like Podrick or Tommen. However, there are worse things a marriage could be based on. He could marry her, and maybe after a few years, things might change or deepen. Bethany is a small thing, slight and skinny. The Queen was the one who had mentioned Bethany to him after the last batch of girls failed to raise any interest in him. In that conversation, Daenerys mentioned Bethany’s hips are narrow and that she might not survive childbirth. It worries him that he would kill her like he did his mother.
He hadn’t expected to receive a letter with the grey wax seal of a direwolf. He had read the letter over and over. Sansa Stark was hoping he was well and would be coming to King's Landing to see her brother’s children. Actually, her cousin’s children, but once she claimed Jon Snow as her brother, she never let that title go. Not even as he lay in a pool of blood in the snow. She had pleaded with him to come back to them and cried as the dawn broke and the snow stilled.
Lady Sansa Stark is hoping Lord Tyrion will take some time and show her the gardens and give her a tour of the new castle, Dragon Keep.
Daenerys smiles gently when she sees that Lady Sansa Stark has sent her once husband his own private message. "Perhaps you have secrets with the Ice Queen... Perhaps you have ways to melt her frozen heart."
Smiling, he signs to her to respectfully and lovingly fuck off.
He laughs to himself. He doesn’t laugh out loud anymore. It is a terrible sound. More an animal noise. The sound of a demon monkey.
She laughs and says it is good to see love bloom in the heart of her old Hand.
Weeks later, when he sees Stark men and the wheelhouse riding toward Casterly Rock, his stomach flutters nervously. The Dragon Keep has prepared for her for weeks... The idea of her being here makes him nervous. It has been so long since they have seen each other and many unkind things have happened to both of them. He hesitates in whether he should go to greet her at the Gates with the Queen and the Princes. He decides he will go with her to meet Lady Sansa, but regrets the decision almost immediately.
She is still beautiful, tall and straight, pale skin like cream and a cascade of red gold cascading over her shoulders in elaborate braids. He wonders what it would look like if he could watch her unbraid it like red water in her hands. Or if he could unbraid it and watch it fall like a curtain over him as she laid above him in their bed.
It is a dream he has found himself thinking of her over the years
Behind her back, they call her the Ice Queen. He can tell by how she walks toward him that she likes the title. To be Queen of the North frozen, unfeeling, unattached, like a mountain of ice. It looks like pride and honor. It is a good look for her.
She smiles at him. as soon as the door to the wheelhouse opens. Of course, Sansa greets the Queen first. At first, it is formal bows and polite courtesies. Once that is done, she has the boys in her arms and she is admiring them. She has Daenerys, arm in arm, and they are giggling. He has a brief memory of her and Margery, young girls all innocence and youth. He smiles gently and listens to the boys each trying to compete for their Aunt’s attention with stories of the colors of their dragon eggs.
She looks laughs at how charming the boys are. She comes to him. “Lord Tyrion... It is good to see you well. I have worried about you all these years.”
He smiles and signs some words to Bethany..”Lady Sansa, I am Bethany Blackwood and I am Lord Tyrion’s translator.”
Aegon interrupts Bethany..”Uncle says he is well and he hopes the journey was good. “
Bethany smiles at the child, “Well done, my Prince. You are a quick learner. Lord Tyrion says he is well and he hopes the journey was pleasant. He says he is glad you are well and that you are as lovely as the day you first came to King’s Landing. “
She smiles at him. “I hope we will be able to spend some time together, while I am here.”
Bethany speaks again, “Lord Tyrion says he would be grateful for such wonderful company. but he has some important duties he must take care of and will see you at the feast in your honor tonight.”
When they get back to the Tower of the Hand, Bethany tells him how much prettier Sansa was than she had imagined. “She is almost as beautiful as the Queen.”
He signs to her with a playful smile, Almost.
She looks at him as he settles in with his papers and his lemon and mint water. “You must have loved her a great deal.”
He looks at her. She is sixteen and full of love stories. Last week, they received a message from her father. Lord Tytos has written the Queen to tell her that it is unseemly that Bethany translates for the Hand still and it is time for him to send her home to be married. He thinks Tytos Blackwood is right. A small piece of him wonders if he wrote back saying he would marry her would Tyrion be allowed to keep her. He is tired of loss. He signs to her that it was a marriage of his father's doing, unconsummated and loveless.
“That is not how I hear it, my Lord Hand. I have heard it said that on the day you married her you swore to win her heart. You would not take your rights as a husband unless she gave herself to you willingly until she loved you. It is very romantic the story of Lady Sansa and Lord Tyrion, the Demon Imp. To have someone defy his father to win his lady’s heart. Did you see the way she looked at you?”
He looks at her, signs that she is a foolish girl that listens to rubbish and for her to leave so he can do some work.
Hours later, Bethany meets him in his chambers, ready for the feast. Her hair is in curls and braids, shining black, a blue gown. He straightens his jacket and resigns himself to the fact no matter how fine the jacket he wears, he is still a scarred and mute dwarf inside the jacket. He looks at Bethany for her approval. She brushes the shoulders and straightens the shirt. With a stunning smile, she nods and signs to him that he is very handsome.
He signs back that a lady shouldn’t lie.
She walks behind him with his papers and his pencils to write if he needs to or to speak if he has something worth saying. He hears Sansa’s laughter long before he sees her. Of course, he knew she was coming. But to hear her sweet laugh over the cacophony of the feast makes his breath hitch.
Of course, the Queen sat Sansa next to him at the feast. She smiles at him, as he sits next to her. “Good evening she says.
He nods and smiles gently. He signs Good evening.
He is uncomfortable by her presence. Before her, he is ugly awkward malformed. To the rest of the world, he is the Lord of Casterly Rock. By the third course, he decides that more wine might help. After the fourth or fifth glass, she takes his hand in hers and whispers in his ear, “Surely, it is not so bad that you must be drunk my first night back. Surely, we can talk. I mean.. I came here and wanted so much to visit with you.”
Her whispers make all his hair stand on the back of his neck. For her to be that close to him is as if one of his dreams has come real. She licks her pink lips and smiles, squeezing his hand gently.
He looks at her, deeply, with sad eyes, and nods.
He makes some signs to Bethany, who hands him a strip of paper and a pencil.
He writes a few words and hands it to her with a smile.
I am sorry for my lack of words. I have been rendered speechless by your beauty
She laughs gently, kindly, and puts her hand on his and doesn’t move it for the rest of the feast.
It is a simple gesture, but it means a great deal.