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Tale As Old As Time

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Jaime stood outside the stables, waiting for the lad to bring out his favorite horse. They’d had a brief thaw with only a few remnants of snow piled in corners of the courtyard, but the chill of winter had never really left, and now a light snow was starting to fall again. The air was cold, but Jaime was determined to get outside the castle walls for a bit, and away from the tedium of being there. He could count the number of times he’d been out riding since Brienne left on his remaining fingers. In truth, he had taken little pleasure in it any of those times, but still, it had to be better than the alternative.

 

The castle was frustratingly full with Lannister bannermen, their ladies and their soldiers and he was feeling extremely stifled. Even Tyrion, who had come from King’s Landing with the intention to bring him some cheer, brought no relief with his company. Although he had given up on trying to discuss Brienne with Jaime, and seemed to have moved on, Jaime knew his brother still judged him harshly for refusing to write to her, and they were never wholly at ease with one another these days, and were not able to delight in one another’s company as they once had.

 

Just as the stable boy was bringing out his horse, Jaime heard footsteps behind him and the sound of man clearing his throat. He turned to see one his head guards, Fenton Hill, standing before him.

 

“Excuse me, m’lord,” he said, inclining his head slightly. “But you have a... there’s someone here to- well. Look,” he said, gesturing behind him, clearly a bit flustered.

 

Jaime followed his gaze back several yards and his mouth fell open. He could hardly believe his eyes, yet there was no mistaking such a woman.

 

Gods be good.

 

Brienne?” he gasped, his heart jumping into his throat. Fenton gave the slightest of nods and quickly shuffled away, clearly eager to make himself scarce.

 

There were others in the yard, he knew, probably all trying to determinedly look as though they were going about their business while really eyeing the scene with interest, but Jaime quickly lost his awareness of everything in the world but her. He strode forward as fast as he could, towards this amazingly impossible sight, his wench standing tall in her armor, hair damp from riding.

 

“My lady,” he croaked as he approached, unable to stop himself from ogling.

 

Without thinking, he moved to embrace her, wanting nothing more than to hold her with all his might, to confirm that she was real, that this wasn’t some mad, torturous dream. He wanted to press her to him and never let her out of his sight again.

 

But as he approached and his intent became clear, she recoiled, taking a large step back, and he froze in place.

 

Though his heart was starting to swell at the sight of her, and his mouth, which had been tight and down-turned for months, was suddenly remembering what a smile was, Brienne certainly did not mirror him. She looked reproachful. Even cold.

 

His grin faltered as the reality sunk in. While he could hardly control the feeling of delight and disbelief swirling about inside him, Brienne was not surprised at all to be here. She had chosen to come, in spite of his months of silence, and he could hardly wrap his head around that, but clearly they would not be jumping right into a warm reunion.

 

He sobered his expression and managed to get out a strained, “What- what are you doing here?”

 

Brienne stared silently for a long moment, and Jaime quailed slightly under her gaze. “I’m not entirely sure,” she said. Her posture was stiff, her blue eyes wary, angry even.

 

Jaime swallowed hard. “Well I’m- whatever the reason I- I am glad to see you,” he said. It was certainly the biggest understatement he’d ever made.

 

She had made it clear, without a single word, that she would not welcome his touch, so it took everything he had not to throw himself at her, to cling to her solid form, breathe in her scent.

 

Brienne raised an eyebrow, expression hard.

 

Are you? Because everything you’ve done has led me to believe you’d have been quite happy to have never set eyes upon me again,” she said. Gods, her eyes. He’d seen them in his head every day, every night since she’d left, but there was nothing like the real thing. Those eyes bore right through him now, making him feel much smaller than he was.

 

Jaime flushed hard, feeling the weight of her words collapse in on him like crumbling stone. He’d been well aware of his choices, and what the silence would mean to her. He’d been fully aware that his refusal to write would cause her pain, but he’d committed to it. He’d even been able to live with it, though the pitiful existence he’d led since she left was not much of a life.

 

But there had been leagues and leagues of distance between them then.

 

It was quite a different thing, ignoring a letter than it was to look her in those beautiful eyes with a full awareness of what he’d done to her. He felt sick with guilt, and there were no words he could say to explain it or make it right. He wanted to look away, for it was an agony to face her now, and face the cowardice of his own actions, but he knew that he must not. No if he had any hope of making it right.  

 

“Brienne,” he struggled. “That’s not- I never meant-”

 

It was no good. The heat of his shame burned like wildfire. He looked at her, and saw the stiffness of the way she held herself, and the stern neutrality of her expression start to fade. She watched him through those painfully blue eyes, which had grown wider as her expression turned sad, shining as they grew moist. She bit her lip, looking thoroughly wounded and confused. He ached with the awareness of how young she was, how innocent, and how he’d damaged those parts of her. It was clear to him now, all those things Tyrion professed that he refused to believe, and he felt it as physical agony, twisting in his gut.

 

Why didn’t you write, Jaime?” she asked, so soft he could barely hear her.

 

Jaime hardly knew what to say. His could barely even wrap his head around the fact that she was here.

 

He’d never, not once, anticipated having to explain himself to her. There hadn’t been a day since her last letter where he hadn’t thought of her, but he’d allowed himself to believe it was truly over, that she was just another scar on his heart, perhaps the deepest one of them all, and that he’d live out the rest of his days waiting for the memories of her to grow numb, to fade with time.

 

But she was here. In spite of his cold-hearted, selfish, cruel silence, somehow, the greatest person he’d ever known was here, standing right in front of him, waiting for an explanation he didn’t have.

 

He had to start somewhere. His face burning with the shame of his cowardice, he reached for her hand. “Brienne. I am so, very sorry.”

 

He was able to hold her for only a moment before she wrenched it out of his grasp, narrowing her eyes.

 

“I don’t believe you,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest, closing herself off to him. She was angry, yes, but he could see her eyes were full of tears as well.

 

“Brienne-” he tried again. He’d never felt so bloody helpless, not even the first time he’d tried to use a sword with his left hand. He was drowning, and there was nothing he could hold onto, and he’d done it to himself.

 

“You let me believe you didn’t care,” she said quietly. “I- all the things we did here. All the things you did for me, Jaime. Training with me, allowing me to train the boys, riding with me, talking to me...they meant the world to me,” she said. Her voice was rising in volume now, growing higher too, full of emotion.  

 

“They truly did,” she said. “I- I had never been so close to anyone, in all my life. No matter where I went, there was never a place where a woman like me ever seemed to fit. I never once felt like anyone really saw   me. Not my father- he allowed me to play at swords, out of affection and exasperation, perhaps, but I think he always hoped I’d grow into a more womanly role with time. Not Renly- he was glad of my service, I think, and he was always kind but…he didn’t know me. Not really,” she said, shaking her head. Jaime again longed to reach for her, to comfort her, to adamantly profess what fools they were, to not see her and love her wholly for all that she was. But he knew he must be silent. He knew he was next.

 

“I...I had really come to think you were different. You certainly learned more about who I am than anyone else ever has. Leaving here meant leaving such a huge part of myself behind. I thought about this place, about you, every day. And I thought that you- that you might- But then, nothing. Not a single word, even though I begged you? Jaime, you made every good moment, every warm memory of this place crumble into dust,” she said, voice cracking.

 

He wanted to rip his aching heart out of his chest. He wanted to stop her, to tell her how far it all was from the truth, but she had more to say, and he owed it to her to say her piece.

 

“You cast as shadow of doubt over every single moment. I was sure that- that I’d been a fool to think it meant even half as much to you as it did to me. I was clearly just a- a passing amusement, only worth a thought while I was here to distract you from your tedious duties, someone to fight with who wouldn’t go gossiping about your hand or spilling your secrets or-” she sighed and trailed off, starting to lose some of her fire, looking bone-weary.

 

“Well. It doesn’t matter. I was convinced you didn’t care. I believed that it all meant nothing, that I meant nothing and it hurt, Jaime, more than I can say. And I would have continued to think it, for all my life maybe, if...If your brother hadn’t taken it upon himself to write to me when you would not!”

 

Jaime’s jaw dropped.

 

My brother?” he gasped. He’d never- he’d never thought Tyrion would go that far. Yes, he’d taken the letter, but Jaime had assumed that was just some bloody mind game or...or something. He had certainly not expected this.

 

“Yes,” she said. She seemed to have accessed the cold, hard part of herself again, her voice lower and sterner.

 

Jaime felt ill, not for the first time that day.

 

What could his brother have said to bring her all this way, in spite of Jaime’s abhorrent silence? He felt distinctly nervous, but there was a slight trickle of gratitude filtering in among it. She was here after all, and though she was clearly furious and hurt, it was still something. It was a chance .

 

“Can I...can I ask what it is he wrote...that brought you all this way?” Jaime asked tentatively.

 

Brienne stared him down. “What do you think he could have said, to bring me all this way?”

 

Right. He should have expected she wouldn’t let him off that easily.

 

He ran a hand through his hair, and started. “I- I imagine he took it upon himself to...to explain the reasons behind my silence...”

 

She offered up no words of encouragement, just gave him a stony look that said go on.

 

“Brienne,” he said, voice rather hoarse. “I promise you, it had nothing to do with not caring. I am truly ashamed for being selfish enough to let you think so, but I won’t try to deny it. I admit, I chose silence because I hoped to forget you.”

 

He saw her expression flicker with hurt, but her jaw was set. She gave him a nod to go on.

 

“Brienne, you offering yourself in exchange for your father...it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I thought, after losing my hand, and all the awful things that came after, that I’d never be happy again. That I’d be doomed to live every day in this miserable half-life, just...existing. Half the time I spent longing for the war to come to our doorsteps, so that I might have the chance to die in glorious battle and be free of it all. You brought joy back into my days, when I thought it a thing long lost and I-”

 

He swallowed, maintaining eye-contact as he did. She was listening. She was hearing every word, although he could read nothing in her expression.

 

“I simply couldn’t take losing you. Letting you go was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do...I knew it was the only thing that was right, after all the good you’d brought me, all you unrelenting kindness and patience, but… it was a choice that took everything I had,” he admitted. “It hurt to think about you, more than I can say…So I convinced myself that if I didn’t write, that you’d stop too and I could just- try to move past it. It didn’t work, by the way,” he added. “I’ve thought of you every day. Every bloody waking hour. Is that the gist of what my meddlesome brother said?”

 

She studied him with an expression still couldn’t read, but it seemed to have softened a bit as he spoke.

 

“Most of it,” she muttered, sighing heavily. “But Jaime, you never lost me. If you’d only written once, I would have...I…,” she shook her head. “Surely you must have known how much it hurt me, to have nothing but silence, from you? To know perfectly well you’d seen my letters, begging you for just a few words, and getting nothing?”

 

Jaime bowed his head. “I was being selfish, Brienne. Entirely, unforgivably selfish, I know that. I was consumed by my own grief and I...I thought- you seemed happy. Talking of your father, and the sapphire seas and...you were a prisoner here, after all. I thought you would be fine, given time. I thought you’d forget us- forget me- if I...If I didn’t...if I...” he let his words die off, not able to look at her as he said it. Saying it out loud, in front of her, it seemed like such nonsense. How had he ever convinced himself of such rot?

 

“You’re a bloody fool, Jaime Lannister,” she said fiercely, her features wrought with anger. The ire made her plain face more homely than ever, but there was still no face in the world he’d rather be looking at.

 

“I know,” he said quietly. “I know.”

 

But you’re here, a small voice inside him chimed in to say. In spite of all he’d done, the wench was here.

 

Then, perhaps because the miraculousness of having her back had reignited that brazen impulsiveness that was such a key part of his nature, Jaime raised an eyebrow at her, and dared to let a little smile ghost across his features.

 

“But surely you haven’t traveled all these hundreds of leagues just to call me a fool and tell me how terrible I am?”

 

Predictably, as his meaning sunk in, Brienne’s face contorted in outrage and she began to sputter- “What are you- are you- don’t you bloody grin at me, Jaime. I ought to be slamming your head into the castle wall after all you’ve done! You- you have some nerve- you-”

 

He forced down his grin and whatever amusement he felt at her fury, and made his expression sober once again. “I know, Brienne. I really do. And I am sorry, though you have every right not to believe it. Words are wind, as they say. But- I do hope you’ll let me show you,” he said quietly.

 

Her mouth fell open slightly at that, but she said nothing.

 

“Did he say anything else, in his letter?” Jaime asked, throat tight. “Perhaps about- about what I had intended to...er- on the last day you were here?”

 

Brienne blinked at that a couple of times, then shook her head. “No. He didn’t speak of the...the last day at all. He simply- well, I suppose you could just read it yourself,” Brienne shook her head, reaching into a brown leather bag at her hip. She pulled out a letter and handed it to him roughly.

 

“It’s...quite worn,” Jaime said, his heart skipping a beat in spite of her carefully maintained cold air. It was deeply creased, as though it had been folded and unfolded many times.

 

“Yes. I did reread it several times on the journey as I questioned whether or not I’d gone and well and truly mad ,” she said, giving him a nod to open it and read it.

 

Jaime hesitated.

Obviously something truly good had come of it, if Brienne was here, but considering how angry Tyrion had been with him over the past months, he suspected the contents of the letter would probably not cast him in an entirely favorable light. Still, Brienne had already read it several dozen times, by the looks of it so he may as well know as much as her, to reduce the likelihood of making even more of a fool of himself.

 

He unfolded it clumsily and his eyes grazed over the words as fast as he possibly could, aware every moment of her watching him.

 

Dear Lady Brienne,

 

I have struggled over whether or not to write this letter, as I prefer not to meddle in the affairs of others- No, let’s not do that. I must not start off this thoroughly heartfelt letter off with a lie. You have surely gathered enough about me by now to know that I quite delight in meddling in the affairs of others, most of the time.

 

Still- I am being quite honest when I say, I wish with all my being I did not need to meddle in this one. I should, by all means, not be the one writing to you, but I no longer feel as though I have a choice.

 

My brother is a fool.

 

An absolute imbecile. And I am utterly furious with him at the moment and a part of me feels he ought to just keep on wallowing in his own misery if he can’t find the courage to pull himself out of it, especially when I know that your soft heart has been wounded by his unbelievable cowardice.

 

The trouble is, I fear he won’t ever find the strength to do it alone and, as angry as I am, I love the man, I truly do. What’s more, my lady, our brief acquaintance at Casterly Rock was long enough to make me quite fond of you as well.

 

He may be a fool and a coward, but Jaime does possess a number of fine qualities apart from that- and I do not just mean the face the gods have chosen to bless him with. For all his flaws, I do believe without a doubt that for you both, your greatest chance of happiness lies with one another.

 

I know you think Jaime’s silence is born of indifference- I will admit to having read your last letter, and I apologize for the invasion of your privacy-  but I assure you it is quite the opposite. He is trying with all his strength to forget you, not because he does not care, but because he cares more than he is able to stand.

 

When he first left King’s Landing to take up his seat at Casterly Rock, well over a year ago, I thought I’d seen my brother brought as low as he could possibly get. He had lost many things, and lost most of himself along with them. I can’t tell you how pleased on my arrival here to find that you, my dear girl, managed to bring him out of that.

 

Brienne, I daresay I’m drunk enough just now to wax poetic about it- you reignited the last dying embers of a life turned to ash, and built him back up to something resembling what he once was. I’d go as far as to say, better than he was.

 

But to have you at his side and then lose you...it has hurt him in ways he’s too damaged to admit even to himself, let alone anyone else.

 

So, I am afraid it falls to you to be the courageous one, Lady Brienne, and I hope I’m not wrong in thinking you’re far braver than my brother. I’ll say it again: He has not withdrawn due to lack of affection, I promise you, but because he’s trying to bury a badly broken heart. I hope that you might have the courage and kindness to mend it, in spite of the reprehensible manner with which he’s chosen to deal with his wounded feelings.

 

Return to us, my lady. Beat him bloody with a tourney sword as punishment for his cruelty- or perhaps with a real one, if you so desire. I can’t pretend he wouldn’t deserve it. I’ll even have the smithy keep one sharp, just for you. But return to us. I do not believe this the end, for the two of you. Not if you can find the strength my brother cannot.

 

Whatever you choose, I wish you nothing but the best, my lady.

 

Tyrion Lannister

 

Jaime finished reading it, his face red and burning.

 

“‘Fool’...’Damaged’...’Cowardly’...he certainly didn’t pull any punches, did he?” Jaime muttered, face coloring.

 

“No. Nor did he say anything inaccurate, from what I can tell,” Brienne said, arms crossed over her broad chest, expression stony.

 

He averted his eyes, unable to bear the look of hurt and judgment in her blue pools.

 

“No. He did not,” Jaime admitted. “I have been a coward and a fool. I wouldn’t dream of pretending otherwise.”

 

Brienne watched him with those impossibly deep blue eyes, and Jaime felt like she was staring straight through him, right into his heart.

 

“What did you mean, before?” she asked slowly. “When you...you spoke of the last day I was here?”

 

Jaime swallowed hard.

 

He was grateful, in a sense, that Tyrion had left that part of it out, and he suspected his clever brother was fully aware of what he was doing in omitting it. It meant Jaime had something else to offer, to possibly soften her justified anger, a reason that explained the depths of his hurt, even if it didn’t excuse his actions.

 

Still, Jaime felt the terror run straight through him at the thought of admitting how close he’d come to asking her to be his wife.

 

He still wanted it, more than he ever had, but he knew deserved her hand in marriage much less now than he had on the day she left, and even then, he hadn’t felt worthy of someone so pure and so good. Still, Brienne had read Tyrion’s words, and been bold enough to take a great chance, even though he’d been entirely despicable. Now it was his turn to lay himself bare.  

 

“That day, in the rose garden,” he said. “When I went looking for you… I found you broken-hearted about your father and I knew I had to send you to him. But that was not why I sought you out. I went looking for you with a...a question in mind. I had- I had intended to ask for your hand, Brienne. I wanted you to be my wife. More than I’d ever wanted anything before in all my life,” he croaked out, forcing himself to look her in those sapphire eyes, which went wide as saucers.

 

“You... you did?” she asked, swallowing hard.

 

“I did,” Jaime said. “I do. I still do, Brienne. I never stopped, not for one moment.”

 

For the third time since her arrival, he stepped closer and reached for her, and this time, she did not prevent him from taking her hand. He suspect she might perhaps be too stunned to do anything, but still, he held it tight in his own as he went on.  

 

“I know I don’t deserve your forgiveness. I was so focused on my own pain, I didn’t spare enough thought for yours. But I promise you this now; if you give me half a chance, I promise to spend the rest of my days making it up to you. I’ll devote every last breath to making you understand how much I adore every last thing about you.”

 

They gazed at one another, Jaime’s heart threatening to beat out of his chest as he grappled with the terrifying though that she might pull out of his grasp once again, tell him he was a callous, selfish bastard that she never wanted to see again. He’d certainly deserve it.

 

Instead, he saw her wide mouth turn upwards into a small, tight smile, “Well...as you said...I have traveled a very long way if my only intent was to tell you what a fool you are.”

 

He stared at her, at that spark in her impossibly blue eyes and his mouth fell open in disbelief.  As the meaning of her words hit him, his shoulders sagged with relief. He broke into a grin, a real, genuine ear-to-ear grin and pulled her hand closer to him. “Is that a yes, my lady?”

 

“It is,” she said quietly, and he thought his heart might burst in his chest. Then she matched his grin and added, “Although I have a promise for you, Jaime . The next time we spar, I will not hold back even a bit. I will bash you from one end of the yard to the other. And I won’t force a yield until you’re well and truly bruised.”

 

Jaime laughed and held out his hands in defeat. “I accept your terms, my lady. I’d expect nothing less.”

 

She smiled back at him, and for a moment they fell into silence, just smiling at each other, both a little bashful.

 

“I- have a ring for you,” Jaime said, remembering it. “It was my mother’s. It’s...well I may have misplaced it, after you left, but- well I’m sure I’ll be able to find it again.”

 

He was quite certain that one evening, deep in his cups, he’d wrenched it off his neck, breaking the chain and hurling it away. With any luck an honest maid would have found it and put it somewhere safe though.

 

“I...thank you,” she said, her cheeks bright red.

 

“Gods,” he said, shaking his head at her, gazing at her with adoration. “I can’t believe you’re here. I can’t believe this is real.”

 

Knowing she would not push him away this time, he stepped forward, embracing her as he’d longed to from the moment she’d arrived here, and long before that. In all the time they’d spent together, he’d never once held her, but he did so now, and it was better than he could have imagined.

 

She was solid in his arms as he wrapped his around her, pressing his cheek against hers. Her strong arms came up to wrap around his back too, and for a long time they simply held each other like that. Jaime could not recall the last time he’d felt so warm, in spite of the snow falling around them, starting to stick to the earth. He’d had so little human touch, in these past years, and he sank into her, breathing her in, basking in the glory that she was here and his .

 

After a long while, he pulled back a bit, wanting to look at her, at this perfect person who had, in spite of everything, agreed to be his wife.

 

He smiled at her, and she returned it, shy and sweet. And then he could wait no longer. He leaned in slowly, his mouth meeting hers in a soft kiss. Her lips were wide, and warm, and he felt her surprise against his mouth. He’d never had a kiss so sweet; with Cersei it had been all passion and secret trysts, desperate, fast, covert. This was something entirely different, and he’d quite like to melt into it for all eternity.

 

Still, after a few moments, he pulled back again to look at her. Her cheeks were redder than ever, but she looked pleased, and that was all he’d needed to know. She breathed out, eyes bright, and he saw the mist of her breath in the air. At once, he was on her again, kissing her harder, and he this time felt her respond. His left hand went up to tangle in her hair, snaking around to the back of her head so he could have more of her, could pull her to him. Their bodies came flush against one another, and he was amazed by how solid she was, what a magnificent reminder it was that she was real.

 

Brienne might not have done this before, but with just a little urging, she opened her lips to him, and he delved forward greedily, not caring a bit that they were in the middle of a crowded courtyard, and that the eyes of dozens of servants and soldiers and nobles were likely staring at them.

 

Let them stare. He’d spent his entire life in a love he’d needed to hide from the world, a love he’d done unspeakable things to keep hidden.

 

Finally, after long years and foolish mistakes, he had a love that was as pure and good as the woman who’d stolen his heart, and she was to be his wife. This bloody night, if the septon would agree to such a thing. Jaime had half a mind to threaten him with death if he didn’t. He wouldn’t, of course, but only because he doubted very much that his lady would approve.

 

Still, he would not wait long to make her his wife. He’d waited long enough.

 

He kissed her breathless, amazed at how yielding she was to his lips and his tongue, when he’d known her to be so maddeningly unyielding with a blade in her hand. When he finally pulled away, they were both gasping for air, and he felt lighter than he had since before Aerys gave him a white cloak when he was a lad of fifteen. The world, at last, was wholly right.

 

He grinned warmly at Brienne, and she grinned back, although he sensed she was more embarrassed than he at their public display. She glanced around the courtyard bashfully, and her eyes seemed to fix on a spot behind Jaime’s left shoulder.


“How wonderful to see you within our walls once again, my dear Maid of Tarth,” he heard Tyrion say, and shut his eyes tight, cringing. Could they not even have a moment before the blasted imp came strutting through to gloat?

 

“Although,” Tyrion went on. “If that’s what your first kiss looks like, I rather doubt I’ll be able to address you as such for much longer.”

 

Jaime whipped around fast enough to catch Tyrion sending her a saucy wink, and he glared at him, outraged, “Tyrion! I’d thank you not to speak so crudely to my wife-to-be.”

 

But to his surprise, he heard Brienne laughing behind him. He turned around to stare at her. “And you! Stop laughing. Don’t encourage him!”

 

Brienne raised an eyebrow. “Was that an order? Because you’ll be quite disappointed, Ser, if you expect to get away with barking commands at me just because I’ve agreed to marry you,” she said, but she was smiling, eyes twinkling like the sunlight on water. “Anyway, I believe you may have to let your brother do and say whatever he pleases for quite some time. We wouldn’t be standing here if not for him.”

 

“Why thank you, my lady,” Tyrion said, bowing with flourish. “Your good sense will be most welcome around here. It gets rather tiresome being the only one in a place with a good head on his shoulders.”

 

Brienne laughed again, and Jaime was overcome with the thought of how much he’d missed that sound.

 

“I suppose the lady is right about that,” Jaime admitted, raising an eyebrow at his brother. “You meddlesome little imp,” he could not help adding. Tyrion only grinned at him, a genuine smile that reached his eyes, and the first he’d given Jaime since his initial refusal to write back to Brienne.

 

He grinned back at Tyrion for a moment, before looking at him quite seriously and saying, “Thank you.”

 

“Seeing you as happy as you are is all the thanks I require, dear brother. Although I would not protest overmuch if you decided we could finally open that rare cask of Dornish Red that father has been so frugal with, and accept all the blame if he ever finds out it’s missing.”

 

Jaime laughed. “That seems a small price to pay for what you’ve done,” Jaime agreed. “And there hasn’t been such a cause for celebration in these walls for years. I’ll have it brought up at dinner.”

 

Tyrion smiled. “I’ll look forward to it, and to speaking with you further, my dear Brienne,” he said, nodding at the wench. “But for now, I suspect my brother would like to have you to himself. See that he keeps his more animal urges under control, will you? Until I can track down the septon? I expect you’ll want this done quick, dear brother? Lots of lost time to make up for.”

 

Jaime laughed and offered a fervent nod. “That would be greatly appreciated.”

 

“Consider it done,” Tyrion said, winking and wandering off. 

 

Jaime turned to her again, smiling widely. “Well, my lady. I expect you must be quite exhausted from your journey. You’ll be wanting a bath, I assume, and something hot to eat,” he said, gesturing to the castle archway.

 

Brienne nodded slightly, but then gave him a look of full of mischief. “It looks to me as though you were just about to go riding...”

 

Jaime gaped at her, but quickly realized it was foolish to be surprised. She was unlike anyone he’d ever known, which was why he loved her more than anyone he’d ever known.

If that was what she wished, he was more than willing to get her outside the walls, away from prying eyes, where they could be at peace with one another again as they had been all those months ago. At once his mind raced ahead to all the places he could take her, places made for kissing. Places made for more than kissing, that he'd make use of as soon he could do so honorably. 

 

Perhaps Tyrion would have finished arrangements with the septon by the time they got back, and he could wed her right then and there, throwing his Lannister cloak over her riding clothes and making her his at last.

 

“As my lady wishes,” he said, and in minutes, they were both in the saddle, racing out of the gates amid the falling snow, hearts pounding and laughter cutting through the crisp air.