Once upon a time, there was a proud lion of a man, who strutted gilded halls in golden armor, his head held high. He was Ser Jaime of House Lannister, and he was haughty and beautiful, with fierce green eyes and a head of gold locks. He had been a Knight of the Kingsuard since he was barely more than a boy and seldom few could match his prowess with a blade or the sharpness of his tongue.
His past was littered with darkness and many whispered that he lacked honor, that he had slain his king and broken his vows, but Jaime Lannister cared little for the opinions of lesser men. He had his blade to deal with anyone stupid enough to say such things to his face, and he had his beautiful sister, Queen Cersei, whose bed he sought out at every opportunity. She was his twin, his other half, his heart and soul. That she belonged to another meant little to our proud lion.
One day, this man and his sister, and her husband, King Robert, road north to the kingdom of the Starks and there, events were set in motion that would change the Seven Kingdoms, and Ser Jaime, forever.
A small boy, climbing the castle walls, stumbled upon Jaime, Cersei and their terrible secret. To protect his beloved and the lion cubs she'd born, Jaime threw Bran Stark from that Winterfell tower, intent that the knowledge of their affair would die with him...
The Stark boy lived, but his body was broken. A short time later, the boys parents learned the twins' secret and Lady Stark learned the horror Jaime Lannister had brought to her sweet son and a fierce war began.
Many moons later, when the proud lion lay chained and captive in her dungeon, Lady Stark confronted him, and the haughty lion confessed readily to his crime, showing little remorse, stating only that he'd done it for love.
The Lady's heart was a dark sea of pain and loss and anger. She ached for her lost children and longed for vengeance.
"You know nothing of love," she spat. "Curse you, Jaime Lannister. Curse you. If the gods are just, they will take all that you hold dear from you, as they have done to my family. Curse you!"
The proud lion had scoffed at her words, for he'd learned long ago that the gods were not just, if they were even there at all, and thought little of her words.
Then Lady Catelyn set him free, bidding his cousin Cleos Frey to bring him to King's Landing in exchange for her daughters, pinning all her hopes on his brother Tyrion, the only Lannister in her eyes who possessed a lick of honor. Upon his release, Jaime had reveled at the freedom, the feel of sunlight on his face and the wind in his long and tangled hair, unaware that Catelyn Starks words would prove truer than he could bear.
On the road, he and his cousin were set upon by a band of sellswords, who in an act of immense cruelty, cut off Jaime's right hand, the hand that had held his sword and his entire identity.
In the weeks that followed, the crippled lion endured fever and illness and agony such as he had never experienced. There were moments when he thought he would let himself die, for what was he worth, without a hand to wield a sword?
But thoughts of his beautiful, golden sister kept him going. She needed him. The kingdoms were crumbling around them as war tore the lands asunder.
He made himself live, for Cersei.
If he did not believe in curses before, his arrival at King's Landing would make a believer of him, as Jaime proceeded to lose the only other thing he had to live for.
He arrived too late to save King Joffrey, the horrific son he had made with his sister, and she held that against him. His maimed hand repulsed her, the sight of his stump made her gag and a wedge formed between Ser Jaime and the person he cared most for in the world.
His father too, seemed more concerned about whether he could still hold a blade than much else, but seemed to believe his wound was enough to free him of his service in the Kingsguard. Tywin had his heir back, and wanted Jaime to take up his place at Casterly Rock, the place King Aerys had robbed him of when he gave Jaime the white cloak all those years ago.
Jaime refused the offer and intended to keep his place as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and to do his best to aid young Tommen, his son. Tywin was wroth with anger and bitterly disappointed in Jaime, who he no longer considered a son.
But it was not to be so. His sister saw to that.
They had changed, in their time apart, and he found Cersei drunk on power and desperate to hold onto it. She scorned his missing hand and she scorned his love.
In an act of greatest betrayal, she publicly relieved him of his duty as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, as she had done with the great Barristan Selmy long before.
Lord Tywin was still furious with his son, but he bade Jaime return to Casterly Rock, now that he'd been stripped of his duty and Tywin served at King's Landing as Hand of the King.
Bitter and disgraced, with no other place in the world, the once proud lion slunk back to the Westerlands, wounded and brokenhearted.
He'd never wanted any of it. Power, land and titles meant not a thing to him. He'd only ever wanted Cersei and cold steel in his hand and their absence turned his heart to heavy stone. He was nothing now, and Ser Jaime quickly slipped into deepest darkness.
Many of the servants there had known Ser Jaime as a boy. They remembered a nice young lad, who laughed easily, who loved his sister and was kind to the twisted imp of a brother no one else could bear to look upon. They remembered a boy held dreams of knighthood and glory, who sat at high tables clinging onto the words of the season knights he so admired. When this crippled and broken and impatient man returned to them, they were saddened by their master's anger.
It pained them to see him holed up inside his chambers, cursing himself and the world, taking no joy in meat or mead or the company of the guests Tywin sent to the Rock.
With so many hardened layers around their lion's heart, they had to wonder if anyone could ever break through them to find the man he once was. He became more bitter and lonely with each passing day, and they began to lose hope that they would ever see the icy walls built up around their lord melt away.
Then one day, a young maiden from Tarth showed up at the gates of Casterly Rock , tall and homely and clad in mens' mail, but with a heart purer and truer than any the lion had ever known. On that day, everything changed.