Cersei Lannister is pretty sure that she was born to be a Resident Assistant.
Well, not forever, obviously. The daughter of Tywin Lannister has to set her sights a bit higher than the guardian of a single dorm hallway, even if the man refuses to have expectations for her because she’s his daughter and not his son (like that’s an acceptable attitude in this fucking day and age). But for at least the next two years, she is determined to crush the RA job. Her father “suggested” it for her twin brother – which means he threatened to stop paying for Jaime’s athletics unless Jaime took the job – so Jaime signed up after a lot of bitching. Cersei signed up mostly out of irritation that Tywin didn’t expect her to do anything, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t take it seriously. Ten times more seriously than Jaime, easily.
They work on the same floor, with their rooms just around the corner from each other. Cersei is in charge of twelve freshman girls while Jaime occasionally tries to wrangle his twelve freshman boys. Cersei’s hallway is decorated with bulletin boards and posters for upcoming events. They have a movie night every weekend. They all get along. Half the boys come to Cersei for help, because they know she’s usually available, and they also know that Jaime is utterly unreliable.
Jaime’s bulletin boards are empty except for where someone stole a bunch of Cersei’s pushpins and arranged them into the shape of a giant cock.
Cersei’s almost certain it was Jaime.
All of Cersei’s girls are so young, newly eighteen or nineteen, and even though Cersei’s only a junior, only twenty-one, she feels ancient and worldly and wise when they come to her with issues that she and her friends endured in their freshman year. Taena is an RA two floors up, and she’s always complaining about her residents, but Cersei has come to think of her girls as her children, and she is fiercely protective of all of them. Ducklings, she calls them. One of her bulletin boards has a lovely little lake scene populated with colorful paper ducks, each of which has one of their names on it.
Brienne Tarth’s duck is the biggest. Taena suggested giving it an enormous bill and big teeth, and even though Cersei briefly thought it would be funny, she didn’t end up doing it. It’s easy to be mean about Brienne, but she’s still a Duckling, so Cersei makes herself feel sorry for the poor girl instead. It can’t be easy to be so ugly. Tall, muscular, with thick legs and a thick waist. Enormous lips and too-big teeth. A broken nose. Uncooperative, straw-colored hair. Those freckles. It’s no wonder Brienne always seems uncomfortable. She’s so aware of what her body looks like, especially when she’s standing beside someone beautiful. Cersei has never seen a picture of she and Brienne standing beside each other, but she has seen Brienne standing near Jaime, and Cersei’s twin always looks particularly beautiful when next to someone so beastly. She can only imagine how inadequate Brienne must feel when she’s faced with Cersei’s golden hair and glowing, perfect skin. Her trim, yoga-fit body. Her winning smile.
There are things about Brienne to envy, of course. Everyone has something. Cersei in particular craves Brienne’s raw power. She used to get so angry when she and Jaime were young, because Jaime got to be strong and athletic and physically competitive, while Cersei was expected to be a little lady. Brienne’s father clearly never had such expectations for his mannish daughter, and she can hold her own with any of the boys. Cersei has seen the girl on the athletic fields playing soccer with Jaime and their friends, defending any attempted goals with a ruthless precision that makes her almost something to admire. And this one time, Jaime called Brienne for a ride when he and Cersei got too drunk at a party, and Brienne was able to bridal carry Cersei up three flights of stairs while the twins cheered her on and Brienne blushed and tried to quiet them because it was two in the morning. So it isn’t that Cersei doesn’t appreciate Brienne, and it isn’t that she doesn’t like her. But if she had to choose between her own beauty and Brienne’s looks and strength, she would choose beauty every time.
The thing Brienne really has going for her is that she’s nice. She possesses kindness to an almost irresponsible degree. She’s probably very easy to walk all over. She’s impossible not to notice, standing taller than any girl and most of the boys on their floor. But after a lifetime of being the ugliest girl in the room, Brienne has learned to fade into the background, and it took weeks of Cersei’s carefully planned floor events for Brienne to finally catch her notice. And even that was because of Jaime, because Jaime and Brienne had started arguing about something, and Brienne stood up to her full height, taller than Jaime, looming over him, and Jaime had smirked while his eyes had glittered with...something. Cersei started paying attention, then. Brienne is sort of captivating, in an odd way, despite her ugliness. And she’s so kind. Jaime hated her for a few weeks, calling her stubborn and annoying and stuck-up, but they’d bonded over some hellish project in Hoat’s class, and now they’re friends. It was begrudging at first, and they mostly communicated by insulting each other, but Brienne somehow endured Jaime’s biting tongue, and now he’s been tamed into being genuinely nice to her. A girl who can turn that kind of inauspicious start into a friendship is a girl worth knowing.
Jaime won’t really talk about her, though. He gets angry whenever Cersei brings up his clear fascination with the Tarth girl, like he assumes she’s going to make fun of him for it. And Brienne is difficult to get a read on, too. She started out the semester wary in a way that made Cersei think that Brienne must have known girls like her in high school. Cersei is at least self aware enough to know that if Brienne wasn’t her “child”, she’d laugh at her as much as Taena does. But Brienne is her Duckling, and so she forces down every ugly thought she has. For the sake of her RA position, and the sake of her own pride, and the sake of her brother’s happiness, she keeps every mean thing bottled up tight.
By the time the end of the semester has rolled around, Cersei has mostly won Brienne over. Brienne is roommates with Sansa Stark – the two of them somehow beating the odds and defying the unspoken rule that said you shouldn’t room with your friends from high school because it would make you hate them – and Sansa is sweet and trusting and easy to befriend. Sansa’s girlfriend Margaery Tyrell is a scheming little bitch, but she’s one of the Ducklings, and so Cersei tolerates her, as a mother must tolerate even the worst of her children. When they’re all three together, Brienne is more open, smiling and joking with Cersei in a way she doesn’t when it’s just the two of them. She may still be shy, but she knows enough to know that Cersei won’t betray her or make fun of her. Not to her face, anyway. And not with any real malice.
Still, despite all the progress she’s made, she’s a bit surprised when Sansa persuades Brienne to accept Cersei’s invitation.
Most of the girls are gone for the holidays already. The lucky ones, with their finals ending early in the week. Cersei and her remaining Ducklings all have finals tomorrow, and Brienne has one the day after that, so they’re still here in the mostly-empty dorm. Jaime’s boys are all long gone, and Jaime himself left earlier in the day, bereft after a breakup with some girl he was starting to get serious with. Not serious enough for a family introduction, but serious enough that he was doodling little hearts on everything and sighing dreamily for a few months and now is slinking back to Casterly Rock with his tail between his legs, all broken and bewildered, refusing to talk about it. The only girls who are left are Sansa, Margaery, Brienne, Jeyne Westerling, and Cersei herself, so she invites them all to a sleepover in the common room. She spent all morning decorating and preparing and texting back and forth with Tyrion about Jaime’s holiday-spirit-dampening heartbreak. Tyrion’s updates are mostly emoji based, and they don’t inspire much confidence. A lot of natural disasters and crying faces.
All of the girls enjoy the sleepover. They watch movies and paint each other’s nails like some kind of enormous cliché, and even Brienne is laughing and coming out of her shell, and Cersei thinks of Taena’s poor, miserable residents, and she feels a smug sense of satisfaction that her Ducklings love her the way Taena’s never will.
Taena is her best friend, but still.
At a certain point, very late, they start sharing secrets. Margaery gossips about her brother and his new boyfriend. Sansa gossips about her little sister. Jeyne talks about her crush on an older boy who is clearly Sansa’s dishy older brother Robb. Sansa is either very polite or very oblivious, so she doesn’t indicate that she has any idea, and Margaery grins knowingly at Cersei all the while, and Cersei’s face is a careful, blank mask.
Brienne, who walked in on Robb and Cersei fucking three weekends ago, turns a very entertaining shade of red. But she doesn’t offer up any details about herself, and Cersei is curious, so when Jeyne has finished unknowingly raving about Cersei’s boyfriend, she turns to Brienne with a smile.
“And what about you, Brienne?” she asks.
Brienne looks startled, and then nervous, and then the red deepens so it’s almost purple in the dim holiday lighting, and she’s looking at Cersei in this almost bovine way, like she wants to trust her but is so used to being harmed that she can’t make herself do it. She must be truly desperate to get something off her chest, if she’s fighting through her obvious mortification to say it.
Finally, she speaks.
“I’ve kind of been hooking up with someone,” she blurts.
Literally nothing in the entire world could have shocked Cersei more. Brienne could have revealed herself to be four Tyrions standing on each other’s shoulders in a trenchcoat and she would have been less surprised. Sansa gasps. Margaery cheers. Jeyne claps her hands to her mouth. And Cersei stares.
She feels a bit of guilt. Brienne looks so acutely miserable to see the surprise on everyone’s faces. And she sounds it, too, sad and defeated, like it’s this shameful secret. Cersei kind of wants to overdo it on the enthusiasm, but she knows that would be cruel too. Like, wow, good for you! I can’t believe someone would fuck you!
“You don’t sound very happy about it,” she says carefully. “We aren’t going to judge you for a few hookups.” Feeling a burst of RA inspiration, she adds, “as long as you’re being safe.”
Brienne’s face flames, and she almost refuses to talk about it anymore, but she’s apparently desperate to, because she continues.
“We are,” she says. “I mean, I’m on the pill. And he always has condoms. That’s not the problem. But it’s...” She withers under all the expectant eyes, and Cersei can see her steeling herself. “I’m ugly,” she says. She says the words boldly, and then she keeps going, talking straight over Sansa’s attempts to lie to her about how not-ugly she is. Cersei respects her self-awareness, at least. “And he’s ashamed to be seen with me. So it was just…sex. We met in my room or his, and we hooked up, and then whoever didn’t belong there snuck out afterward, and that was it. When I see him around, he’s perfectly nice to me. It’s not like he ignores me in public or treats me terribly. But he doesn’t treat me like he does when we’re alone, either. Obviously he doesn’t think I’m totally hideous if he can, you know. Go through with it.”
“Brienne,” Sansa says, despairingly.
“And I know that he likes that I’m...strong. And bigger than him. He’s mentioned it before.”
Cersei smiles, thinking of the way Jaime looked at Brienne when she loomed over him that time. Tyrion had said something once when they were drinking: “we were talking about it, Shae and I. Shae pegged you as a bottom, but maybe you’d like Brienne Tarth to do it instead” which made Cersei choke on her drink and made Jaime annoyed enough to go out and get a girlfriend to get his siblings to stop making fun of him.
“Some men like a strong woman,” she says diplomatically, and Brienne gives her a grateful nod.
“I like being with him,” Brienne continues. “A lot. Every time we’re together, it feels…good. It makes me feel good to be with him. I don’t always feel comfortable in my own skin, but I do when he’s touching me. And it’s been nice, knowing that I could make someone as beautiful as him feel the way I know I make him feel. But I think…” She bites her lip. Closes her eyes, like she can’t look at Cersei when she says it, like something about Cersei’s eyes makes them too hard to talk to. “I think I might have feelings for him. I think I love him. It’s so stupid. I know the rules. I know the way it works.”
“Are there rules?” Cersei asks. That seems pretty responsible for a couple of college students hooking up in secret. When she and Robb got together, it took literal months before they had a conversation about it. Or, like, any conversation.
“Well, implied rules.”
“Why is this the first time I’m hearing of this?” Margaery demands. “I should have been hearing every juicy detail!”
“Because it was a secret!” Brienne says. Cersei hears ‘because I was ashamed’, and she feels guilty again. She can see it so clearly. Brienne grateful for any attention. Fumbling through a few awkward encounters until she got the hang of it, and then slipping easily into the kind of clandestine affair that only feels good until it’s over, and then leaves you feeling empty and unsatisfied. Slowly growing certain that she deserved something better than rushed fucks but too in love with the boy to stand up for herself when he continued to make her feel so good.
“And you don’t want it to be a secret anymore,” she guesses. “But he feels differently.”
“It was just sex,” Brienne says miserably. “So it wasn’t even like I wanted anyone to know. I didn’t need, like, a sign around my neck or anything. But I hated feeling like I was shameful.”
“You aren’t,” Cersei says immediately, some of that maternal instinct for the biggest and ugliest of her Ducklings coming through in her voice. “Brienne, you have nothing to be ashamed of. He should be ashamed for making you feel like you aren’t good enough.” That seems like a very kind thing to say, and she’s proud of herself for saying it. She continues, trying to sound like the thought of Brienne hooking up with anyone isn’t still utterly bizarre to her. “I’m obviously not your mother, so I can’t tell you what to do, but I don’t think this is healthy.” That’s a brilliant thing to say. “If you feel like this afterward, it doesn’t matter how good he makes you feel while you’re doing it. You deserve to be someone’s pride and joy. Not a secret they’re ashamed to share.” An idea forms in a tiny corner in the back of her mind: her twin’s misery and Brienne’s embarrassment merging into one. Maybe they could help each other? As ugly as she is, Jaime seems to like her. He certainly wouldn’t hide her. He fills the margins of his notebooks with hearts over the girls he’s dating! He’s a sap! “Look, there are plenty of boys at this school who would fuck you for being big and strong, and I’m sure there are plenty who are better looking than the one you’ve been fucking.” She tries to think of who might have been the one to take that particular leap. Tyrion’s friend Bronn seems like the most likely candidate, because he once said, “I’ll fuck any girl at least once,” and he and Brienne work together at that shitty diner. There’s also that redheaded giant Tormund. Cersei has seen him at the gym leering in Brienne’s direction, but he doesn’t seem like the type who would be ashamed of hooking up with her. If Cersei were a better person, maybe she’d encourage Brienne to give Tormund a chance, since he’s obviously a sure thing, but she cares too much for her family, and this feels like a real “two birds, one stone” situation. “Tell me something, Brienne. What do you love about this mystery man?”
Brienne chews her lip as she thinks it over, and Cersei clamps down on her inner Taena, who wants to say something about cows chewing cud.
“Well, he’s funny,” she says. “And smarter than he thinks he is. He’s surprisingly nice, once you get to know him. And he’s…he’s very good looking.” Well, that could be anyone, Cersei thinks. Definitely doesn’t rule out Jaime as a potential rebound. Brienne sighs and continues, “Way too good looking for me. I know why he doesn’t want anyone to know.”
“Did he tell you that?” Jeyne asks. “That he didn’t want anyone to know?”
“He said it in the way people say things when they’re trying to make you think something’s your idea,” Brienne says quietly. “Something like ‘we can keep things just between us, if you want. No one has to know’. You know, ‘they’ll put all this pressure on us, and if you’re not comfortable we can just keep it quiet’. Like he’s trying to do it for me.”
“How do you know he wasn’t?” Sansa asks, her voice naive and optimistic. She sounds like Jaime, the romantic fool.
“Because it’s been months,” Brienne says. “And every time I tried to bring it up, he’d do it again. ‘Are you sure? Is that what you want? Are you comfortable with that? We don’t have to rush anything, I’m happy just doing this’. I don’t know, maybe I should have let him know I was uncomfortable earlier, but then he’d smile at me across the room or, or text me to come over, and…” She shrugs miserably. “I told him we had to stop fooling around because I couldn’t deal with it anymore.”
“You did?” Jeyne asks, a bit doubtfully. Politely enough, but Cersei understands her incredulity, and she knows she’s being bitchy again. She just told Brienne to look out for herself, but…well, it’s not like Brienne can afford to be picky. She’s a little surprised to hear that the girl ended things on her own.
“What did he say?” Sansa asks, hanging on Brienne’s every word.
“I don’t know. Not much. He asked why, and I told him it wasn’t working for me.”
“Was he angry? Sad? Did he beg you for a second chance? Give us something,” Margaery insists.
“It wasn’t like that with us. I told you. He asked if he had done something wrong, and I said no, but…it’s hard to read tone in text, I guess. I think maybe he felt like it came out of nowhere, but I tried not to overexplain it because...”
“You dumped him over text?” Sansa screams. Cersei laughs, and Jeyne lets out a disbelieving giggle. Brienne hides her face in mortification.
“When was this?” Margaery asks.
“Yesterday, and I didn’t dump him,” Brienne says, smacking Sansa with her pillow. She looks a little bit less tense now that they’re laughing about it. “It was just sex for him! That’s the whole problem! If I did it in person, I was going to cry or say something pathetic!”
“So you text-dumped him right before holiday break? You monster!” Margaery laughs.
“It was casual sex, and he’s extremely hot,” Brienne insists. “He’ll be fine. I’m sure he’s with one of his other girls literally right this second. I’m the one with the broken heart! I just figured I’d end it with a hard stop, so maybe when break’s over we can go back to being friends. I didn’t want to just disappear on him for a month! He’d feel bad, like he did something wrong. And he didn’t! He’s a good person. An honorable person. This was all my fault for wanting too much and turning it into something it wasn’t.”
“He had other girls?” Cersei asks. Definitely Bronn, then.
“He must,” Brienne sighs, forlorn again.
“Holiday break is the perfect time to do it,” Cersei says, trying to make her feel better. “Give yourself some time to heal, and then come back ready to focus on your studies. And maybe open your eyes to other possibilities. I hate to sound like a cliché, but there really are so many other choices. College is about finding what works for you. I’m proud of you for ending it when stopped working for you. That was a very strong thing to do, and I hope you’re proud of yourself, because you should be. I’m sure it hurts now, but it will feel better when we’re back for the new semester.”
Brienne’s looking at her like she’s said something very kind and profound, and Cersei’s relieved. She wasn’t totally sure where she was going with that, and she’s not sure she meant even half of it, but at least it worked.
Another leg up on Taena. Two of Taena’s girls dropped out over emotional setbacks in the first semester, and Cersei just coached one of hers through her first heartbreak.
She really is a very good RA.
On the way back to Casterly after her final the next day, she stops for gas and scrolls through the ten thousand messages that Tyrion has sent her since she left. She and Tyrion usually don’t get along, except they both adore Jaime, and Jaime’s situation apparently warrants many flame, tornado, thunderstorm, and hurtling meteor emojis. Cersei is feeling more confident than usual thanks to her sleepover success last night. She’s an expert at helping with heartbreak now, and she’s got a newly single resident and a newly single brother who she knows is at least intrigued by said resident. It’s almost too neat a solution to try and push them together.
Jaime looks terrible.
Tyrion yanks Cersei into his room the moment she walks in the door, but Cersei catches a glimpse of her twin standing in the kitchen chatting with their aunt Genna. He’s putting in a good attempt at conversation, but his shoulders are slumped, his eyes are dazed and vaguely wet with romantic agony, and he’s got the sort of gray pallor to his face that he gets whenever he has trouble sleeping. She feels an interesting mingling of fondness, sympathy, and irritation because he’s always so fucking dramatic.
“Thank the gods you’re here,” Tyrion says when they’re alone. “He’s so sad, Cersei. He’s being such a fucking baby about this. It’s making me depressed.”
“You? The lecherous little imp?” Cersei mocks, flopping down into his recliner after ruffling his mop of golden-brown curls on her way by. “Did you manage to get anything out of him?”
“No. He just keeps saying that he doesn’t want to talk about it. I tried to get him to talk through it, like maybe we could figure out where he went wrong, and he just said something maudlin about not deserving her and went to sleep on the couch for six hours. It’s pathetic.”
“You cried for eleven hours straight when Tysha dumped you.”
“And you’re a bitch. Have you got any ideas?”
“Leave it to me, sweet baby brother. I’ll have this sorted in no time.”
Cersei is good at being subtle. She endures Genna’s pointed teasing about whatever it is Genna wants to mock Cersei for now, and she endures her father’s lack of interest in anything except being stuffy and irritated when she admits that, yes, she’s still dating a Stark. When they’re finally both gone for the evening to whatever horrid old people benefit they’re attending, Tyrion busts out the booze, and he and Cersei go about getting Jaime tipsy enough that he might tell them something.
Jaime’s truly irritating to be around in the throes of heartbreak. Last night at the sleepover, Brienne at least had the good grace to pretend not to be sad until it was time to talk about it. Jaime doesn’t even do that. Then again, he’s never been one to hide anything about what he feels. Cersei supposes it’s a blessing he’s not just sobbing pitifully in a corner.
She starts out by talking about the sleepover with the girls on the floor. She makes it sound a little bit sexier than it actually was to keep Tyrion’s interest from wandering, because she knows he thinks the Stark and Tyrell coupling is the hottest thing that’s ever happened. Jaime drinks and pretends not to be listening, but she can tell he’s entertained, especially when she starts talking about Jeyne’s obvious crush on Robb.
“It’s not like it’s a secret,” she says finally, masterfully. “We’re just not into PDA, but like, people know. Not like Brienne Tarth and whoever she used to be hooking up with.”
Jaime and Tyrion both perk up at that, and Cersei smiles and pretends to move on to other topics, but Tyrion directs her back. There’s something mischievous in his expression, and she thinks her baby brother might just be clever enough to follow where she’s going.
“Brienne Tarth? Tall girl? Not very pretty?” he asks. Jaime frowns at him, his chivalrous impulses apparently taking over. A very good sign.
“That’s the one. Of all the girls to have a secret romance,” Cersei laughs. “She’s usually so quiet and staid. She’s so good at hiding her emotions. But she was so sad last night.”
“Sad,” Tyrion says, seizing on it. “Was she? Why?”
“Well, think about it. If you were him, would you want anyone to know you were fucking her?” Jaime makes a startled noise, and Tyrion’s eyes narrow. No, they’re right. that’s too mean. “I mean, she’s not very conventional. Most boys probably wouldn’t be able to handle the scorn.” Better? Not likely to grab Jaime’s interest and prompt him to make a move, though. “She’s so dear and sweet, really, but people don’t always see beyond the surface to how wonderful she is underneath.” Ugh. Sickening, but good enough. “Anyway, this absolute cock of a hookup made her into his dirty little secret, showing no regard for her feelings, but poor Brienne went and fell in love with him anyway.”
Jaime stops pretending to only be half interested and openly stares at her. Tyrion is looking at her with this incredulous kind of pride, like he can’t believe how well she’s nailing this.
“What?” Jaime asks, his voice half whisper, breaking in the middle.
“I know,” Cersei says, half pouting like she just can’t stand how tragic things are sometimes. “She was going on and on about how every time she was with him, he made her feel like she was beautiful. Properly beautiful. And how he’d smile at her or talk to her, and she’d forget that she was this secret he was ashamed of sharing with the world. But then it would be over, and the poor girl would remember that she meant almost nothing to him. She couldn’t bear it anymore, being in love with someone who obviously didn’t feel the same, so she told him they had to stop fooling around.”
“Fooling around,” Tyrion says thoughtfully. “Is that what she called it?”
“Fooling around. Casual sex. For him, I mean. She thought it was something deeper, but he didn’t feel the same. Me and the girls were all telling her how she should find someone who isn’t ashamed to be seen with her. Someone who likes that she’s strong and…powerful.” She peeks a look at Jaime, and he’s very pale and shaken. Sympathetic pain for Brienne, or perhaps feeling an echo of his own heartbreak reflected in Brienne’s. Just like Cersei had hoped. “There are so many people out there who would treat her right, even if she’s not classically beautiful. She deserves someone who will let her know properly. Someone who can love with his whole heart. Perhaps to a degree that’s sickening and annoying sometimes.” She casts another look at Jaime, who looks tense now, his brow furrowed in thought. “I can think of three on campus! There’s that Tormund guy…”
“Did she go home tonight?” Jaime blurts. Cersei blinks at him. She wasn’t expecting it to work so quickly.
“Tomorrow night,” she says. “She has a final tomorrow afternoon.”
“I have to go,” Jaime says, stumbling out of his seat.
“I’m texting Bronn now,” Tyrion replies, casually, already on his phone. “You can’t drive like this, and it’s a forty-five minute drive back to school. He’ll be waiting in the driveway once you’ve showered.”
Jaime curses and sprints for the stairs, already stripping off his oversized Depression Sweatshirt, this big blue thing emblazoned with the logo of the Sapphire Soccer League, whatever that is. Cersei sips her drink and leans back in her chair. Tyrion shakes his head at her, grinning wickedly.
“How did you know?” he asks.
“Please. Anyone can see how he looks at her.”
Tyrion snorts his agreement, and they clink their glasses together. Jaime comes thundering back down the stairs a few minutes later, freshly showered, with his winter jacket and an overnight bag. Which seems a bit presumptuous, but at least he’s taking initiative.
“How do I look?” he asks.
“Like a drunk, exhausted, piece of shit boyfriend,” Tyrion says, throwing back the rest of his drink. Jaime groans and tries to fix his hair in the hall mirror. “Relax. After what Cersei just told us, Brienne will take you back. Provided you explain you’re just an idiot who was so worried your loving siblings would scare her off that you accidentally convinced her you were trying to hide your secret shame.” He cackles while Jaime glares, and the pieces slowly fall together in Cersei’s wine-addled mind and…oh. Oh.
“She’s shy!” Jaime snaps. “I thought she wanted…”
But then he finally leaves, bursting through the door in a whirl of energy because Bronn has started honking from the driveway. Tyrion pours himself another drink, and he turns back to look at Cersei.
“You had no idea Brienne was talking about Jaime, did you?” he asks. She refuses to answer, lifting her chin. Tyrion is starting to chuckle now. “I thought you were just pretending not to know that she was his secret girlfriend to goad him into making things right, but you really didn’t know. You thought you were going to push them towards each other because they were both obviously heartbroken about two obviously different people, didn’t you?” Cersei glares, and Tyrion laughs even harder. “Well done, though. Even if it was by accident, you fucking fixed it. Jaime never would’ve figured it out otherwise.” He has devolved into full-blown cackles now, and Cersei’s certain that she’s as red as Brienne was last night. Tyrion wipes tears of mirth from his eyes. “Oh, Cersei. Sweet sister. I love you, but you aren’t nearly as clever as you think you are.”