Lady Catelyn had warned her how good the kingslayer is at drawing people out with questions.
She’d thought she was prepared.
For some questions, she was.
Virginity. Service to Lady Catelyn. Her ugliness and less-than-desirable personality.
What she wasn’t prepared for was:
“Do you have you any brothers and sisters?”
“Did you let Renly ‘steal’ peaches from your plate?”
“Did your father ever punish you for jumping off the cliff into the waters of Tarth? Come now, don’t deny that you did.”
“Do you actually prefer breeches, or are they simply easier for you to fight in?”
And so on.
Despite her father’s attempt at sheltering her, she’s grown up around boys and men being as they are. She’s grown up with insults, trickery, physical assaults, and even the occasional sincere kindness. She’s grown up being scrutinised.
When they were enemies, Jaime told her many things involving his thoughts, feelings, and both his triumphs and misdeeds of his younger days, and based on the crude way he often did so, she assumed it was part of his continuing attempt to aggravate her.
Now, she finds herself dealing with the foreign thought he shares such things as a show of trust.
Once, a maester drew a spiral and said, “It’s hard to find the beginning, and some say it never ends. So, how then, do you stop one from continuing to grow?”
When she’d slashed a line through it, he’d praised her greatly to her father, but she’d always felt guilty about being credited with wisdom she knew she didn’t have.
She knew about metaphors and knew she hadn’t solved his.
Jaime Lannister causes pain, she causes it back, and so on.
Until they’re both naked as their nameday and he says, “Let’s call a truce.”
She finally begins to understand.
“Aside from getting the Stark girls somewhere safe, what would make you happy, my lady,” Pod asks.
She almost answers, Travelling the world with Jaime Lannister. Having him return my love.
She knows better.
Loving his sister hasn’t made him happy; she can’t imagine how loving an ugly, unyielding woman would, either. And after witnessing first-hand how desperate he was to get home, she knows, even if he did love her, he’d want to stay near his children, if at all possible.
She almost answers, To know Jaime Lannister’s happy.
It’s either a lie or too much of a truth.
When she first hears the words leave his mouth, she almost attacks him.
After listening to the following words, she’s relieved she didn’t.
“Of course, Cersei refused to do anything. I thought about suggesting that, perhaps, the king take some interest in his own sons rather than- but that would be a laugh in more ways than one, wouldn’t it, my lady? So, instead, I buried the cat and its guts as best I could and went around King’s Landing for a month trying to find a replacement.”
He sighs. “Yes. Thank the gods, Joffrey let it be.”
Breaking the Rules
“I did not break any rules! There was nothing saying that contestants had to be men. Only that they had to be twelve or older and not ill with anything contagious.”
Jaime smirks. “If it were anyone but Renly, we both know there would have been such wording in the next tournament.”
“Yes,” she admits. “I know. In fact, there have been times when I’ve been disqualified for breaking the implied rules.”
“Well, now, that’s just silly.”
“Says the one who just now accused me of breaking them!”
“Actually, I was talking about the fact no one wore your favour.”
There’s the saying about the gods flipping a coin, but someone once calculated the odds of a Targaryen being born insane.
Jaime isn’t sure he believes such a thing can truly be calculated or not, but nevertheless, he wishes to speak to whoever did it.
He’d ask them, A brave, stupidly honourable knight lies with a child-crippling kingslayer who bedded his own sister. His seed takes hold, and she’s due to have a baby. Except, the midwife is saying she or the baby or both might die. What are the chances of him not losing her and possibly another child?
They hear about the red wedding, and she refuses to speak to him.
“I wasn’t in any way responsible, you know,” he tells her. “I’ve told you every other despicable thing I’ve done. If I were, I wouldn’t stop now.”
Finally, she looks at him, and her normally clear eyes are cloudy and lined with red veins. “It’s good I left my father. You’d have a better chance of living if we parted.”
“Maybe so, but out of simple spite, I’m going to keep, at least, one vow made. Might as well be to help you protect the Stark girls.”
“Yes, yes, I know,” he says, “the night is dark and full of terrors. Look to my sins. Would it kill you to be a bit more original?”
Smiling, the faceless creature replies, “Perhaps, the drowning god is more appropriate. It’s not sapphires you’re desperate to drown in, and it isn’t sapphires you fear contaminating, is it?”
“So, you know,” is his flat response. “You and everyone but her. So what?”
“It is her I would give the warning to. The knight, Ser Jaime Lannister, is dark and full of sins. What terror do you think awaits her in him?”
When she got too overwhelmed, she pictured the world and its people in gray.
With Renly, however, whenever he laughed or smiled, she couldn’t help but notice how colourful and wonderful the world truly could be.
When he died, she knew everything would forever be gray, and she not only accepted this but found a sort of comfort in it.
Against her will, Jaime made her laugh, smile, and take on an appreciation she’d never before had or understood for blue.
She’d curse him, if not for the fact she’s realised she’s become scared of going back to the gray.
“Quiet,” she orders.
“Either you eat half, or neither of us eats any,” he insists. “I’d rather die here of starvation than have to deal with what dear Cat would deal out if you died of starvation before our quest ended.”
“We have no quest,” she grits out. “You’re my prisoner. And I’ve had plenty to eat.”
“Be that as that may, I’m not eating unless you eat half. Come now, how could I have possibly poisoned or otherwise tainted it?”
“While I shudder to think, the simple fact is, you need it more,” she says.
“Just eat half, wench.”
“Tell me if I’m wrong, but it seems you and I hardly ever look one another in the eyes, anymore,” he says. “I know for certain it’s not me avoiding yours.”
Cursing his observance, she replies, “I suppose you’ve been more trustworthy of late. You’ve never been able to lie while looking me in the eye, have you?”
A soft, “Brienne,” almost breaks her.
I’m afraid you’ll see all that I’ve been keeping from you.
"What, do you miss my eyes so badly?”
“As a matter of fact, yes,” he answers. “I do.”
Oh, well, now, she truly is broken.
Playing the Melody
“You didn’t have to be so rude,” she insists. “A singer thought a Lannister might like hearing a song Lannisters have all but declared their own. Imagine that.”
He gives her an incredulous look.
“You’re not going to make me into the unreasonable one,” she declares.
“Oh, I’m unreasonable for not wanting you thinking of Lady Catelyn’s death and my father’s possible involvement. That song was played at the red wedding!”
“Yes, you are. I know you had nothing to do with it.”
“Still, that being on your mind rather lessens my chances of you agreeing to marry me.”
“You were a hero who saved an entire kingdom. Then, you pushed an innocent child out of a window.”
“Would I still retain my hero status if he’d been guilty of something? Personally, I wager he was.”
The look she gives him- he’s half-tempted to ask if she’s been taking lessons from Catelyn Tully Stark.
“Heroes are all well and good, but my sister, her children, and possibly my little brother didn’t need one. They needed a villain, and I obliged. I’d do so again. Killing a tyrant, attempting to kill a child- both times, other lives were at stake.”
Pen and Paper
He has no dearth of people who would willingly transcribe his letters for him. Among them is one of the people he trusts more than anyone: his little brother, Tyrion.
Yet, when ravens from Brienne arrive, he always finds himself labouring for hours with writing a reply, and then, rewriting until the words look somewhat decent.
He imagines she’d be unimpressed and go on about wasting paper and ink. She might even tell him there’s no shame in him seeking and accepting help.
Nevertheless, something about writing the words himself strikes him as important in a way he can’t explain.
Jaime keeps looking at her, and she finds herself shifting uncomfortably.
Finally, she asks, “Was my gift inappropriate?”
“No, of course not,” he answers. “I- Brienne, where did you find such a kitten?”
“Advertisements were sent out,” she answers. “And I remember you telling me how much the king has always wanted one such as that. Of course, I got it a few days ago, and from what I’ve seen, she’s perfectly healthy.”
“An advertisement,” he repeats.
“Yes, you can pay one of a local fisherwives, and she’ll send letters about items that others tell her they wish to sell.”
“But you love him.”
Jaime knows, then, goes through her head.
She’d wondered. With how perceptive he can be, she continually feared he’d look at her one day and suddenly realise she truly was the pathetic girl he’d once painted her as who forever loves those who can and will never love her back.
He tells his sister everything, yet, he hasn’t told Brienne herself he knows.
Is that kindness, she ponders.
Briefly, she considers lying and trying to convince the queen her brother is wrong.
Instead, she turns, sees him watching, and wishes she could condemn him for this.
“Yes, because a man of broken pieces is what you want,” he snaps.
“I’m an ugly woman of great strength in a world that prizes pretty, delicate women when it bothers to prize them at all. If I hadn’t been born to a rich, well-known family- I likely would have been dead long ago. Now, to finish the mockery, I have to be rejected by the man I’ve fallen in love with. Why he had to be this handsome, brave member of royalty- oh, yes, because, beyond that are broken pieces that I thought might fit together with my own.”
“You don’t sleep in your armour?”
His tone is so genuinely aghast she knows it’s more than a jape about seeing her ugly body he’s leading up to.
“No. Why does it matter?”
“In case Lady Stark wasn’t clear, my lady, I’m a very valuable prisoner, and there is great danger ahead.”
“I’ll wake quickly if anyone comes by, and I will do everything in my power to protect you.”
“Even so, if someone were to kill you, what are the chances of me being freed and delivered to my family?”
“You’ve tried to kill me.”
“And I’ve failed- because?”
“Ser Brienne is getting married,” Podrick Payne informs him.
The usually stuttering boy says it so casually Jaime almost dismisses the words before hearing them.
“Lord Selywin Tarth is dying, and my lady has decided she must marry and, if possible, have a child growing inside her before he does.”
For a moment, he gapes.
“And I suppose you have no plans to stop her?”
“I can’t, ser,” Pod answers. “She isn’t in love with me.”
Jaime takes note of how pointed the soft, polite words are. “You don’t want her married, either.”
“Not to someone she doesn’t love.”
“You make a sport out of hurting people,” she declared.
“Better that than be anything like you, wench,” he retorted. “You think losing Renly was the worst hurt you’ll ever suffer? Guess again, I promise you it won’t be.”
Now, he lies dying in her arms and comments, “You truly have beautiful eyes, my lady.”
She doesn’t know if he’s delirious or not. She doesn’t even know if he remembers the conversation until he adds, “I’m not making sport. I love you, Brienne.”
They were both right, but whether he wants to or not, he’s about be proven more right.
Can You Hear Me?
“My lady,” Pod’s worried voice echoes throughout.
“We’re okay, Pod,” she calls up. “Just go find help as quickly as you can!”
Glaring at Jaime, she thinks of how best to point out this is entirely his fault.
He could do so with a simple look, but even he wouldn’t be stupid enough to blame her for them somehow ending up being stuck at the bottom of the cave.
“Well,” he comments with much too much lightness, “this will be something to tell our children, won’t it?”
“Our children,” he replies. “Surely, you can hear me down here?”
She’s sure there’s a reason she shouldn’t attempt to kill Jaime Lannister, but she’s also sure the reason can be worked around.
“You should have said yes,” is his unrepentant reply.
“Me saying no didn’t give you the right to send a raven to my father!”
“You took my virtue, stole my heart, and are intent on leaving me dishonoured.”
“I’m still a virgin! And even if I weren’t, a man wouldn’t be dishonoured by a woman doing that!”
“If you agree to either marry me or give me back my heart, I’ll send a raven to retrieve that one.”
Hold My Hand
She grabs his hand.
Before he can say anything, she squeezes it hard.
An old knight wanders over, and his eyes land on the clasped hands.
“Bah,” he says. “I love your father, but he hasn’t done right by you, blue eyes. With how tall this one is, your children will be human giants.”
Her foot smashing his distracts him from responding.
The old knight leaves, and with her face blisteringly red, she explains in a rush, “My father’s cousin, he’s old and seems to be remembering the last time I was betrothed. He probably won’t even remember you later.”
Soon after she started the journey to King’s Landing with him, he informed her, “I hate silence more than I ever have.”
She hadn’t thought much of it, but now, after all they’ve been through, she begins to.
He talked constantly. Even when she successfully ignored him, he never waved in filling the air with his voice. When she did talk, he was often quiet until she was fully done, but if she paused for more than a second, he’d interject.
Now, though, he has so many others he could talk to.
Yet, he still seeks her out for conversation.
As a child, she was told, “Red and gold are Lannister colours. Many noble houses have gold, but when you see red, try to avoid the person wearing it.”
Tywin Lannister won battles and dispensed despicable orders while wearing his red cloak. Cersei Lannister Baratheon wore a red dress with gold trim for her wedding. Joffrey Baratheon, son of two Lannisters, was crowned and dispensed more despicable orders in the same colours.
White and gold suits Jaime Lannister, but she can’t deny she’s much happier seeing him in red, and even happier when she helps him drape it over her.
There’s nothing left to live for.
Even if Cersei and the children are alive and unharmed, surely, even their father can’t save them from punishment. Tyrion might be willing, but he wouldn’t be able, and if there’s a chance of him living, Jaime wants him to not ruin it by trying. And even if they did manage to escape, Cersei isn’t going to want him, now. His children certainly aren’t, either.
He has one hand, a name he’s ruined, and no one besides his precious brother to truly mourn him.
Yet, the wench keeps talking, and he finds himself eating.
“You’ve brought the kingslayer,” a disapproving knight says.
Because he knows Lord Selywin is likely to have a similar reaction, Jaime is content to let it go.
Brienne, however, grabs his hand and glares at the knight. “Ser Thantos, I’ve brought the father of Tarth’s next heir, Ser Jaime Lannister. Soon, he will be my lord husband and your master. Good day, ser.”
She drags him away while Thantos is still googling.
“Not that I object, but-”
“Yes, alright, we’ve never done that,” she snaps. “But if my father does consent to the marriage, you soon will be.”
“You can’t rate people, Brienne.”
Unsure of his tone, she replies, “Of course, you can. I’ll believe a lot about you, Jaime, but if you try to claim you’ve never made judgements of other people-”
“Judging other people for good or bad, as competent or incompetent, as beautiful or not, yes, but not- not like this.”
His words are uncharacteristically fumbling.
He makes a frustrated sound. “Judgements can be subjective. Ratings are more neutral.”
“We’re arguing words.”
“Those men at Tarly’s camp, they can’t just label you as some number designating you-”
“They did. I no longer care.”
“You drive me mad.”
Brienne rolls her eyes. “Might I suggest you not claim me as your science partner next time, then?”
“You’d fail without my help.”
“I have a 97.2, and you have an 83.4. If that’s too much numbers, I’ll translate: I have an A plus, and you barely have a B minus.”
“You’ve been stalking me.”
“You made your little brother find my number in the phone book, specifically so that you could complain to me about your grade.”
“I could have lowered the number so as not to make you feel bad about your own grade.”