Chapter Title: Jaime Lannister
Fandom(s): A Song of Ice and Fire
Word Count: 2,061
Summary: Five people who loved Elia Martell in secret, and one who told her.
When the West Wind Moves
iii. Jaime Lannister
iii. Jaime Lannister
He’s not told much about the Dornish people coming to pay Casterly Rock a visit, and what he is told is from Uncle Kevan, not his father. He’s used to that, though. He could count on two hands how often he’d seen his father since Mother passed. He has to be personable, his uncle says, for these are not normal Dornishmen like the ones the songs poke fun at; these are the Martells of Sunspear. Jaime knows what that means. While at eight he’s less than interested in memorizing houses, he knows that one, of the Rhoynish princess’s harrowing voyage and the mass marriage of her refugees to Dorne.
He discusses it with Cersei later, expressing how they, the Lannisters, must be lucky to have such esteemed company visit them, but she does not share his sentiments. “They’re not really royalty,” she says, rolling her eyes. “They’re just called that because King Baelor didn’t want another war. They shouldn’t even be lords or ladies, honestly. They got titles for their insolence where Harren the Black was roasted alive, and then there’s what Father did to the Reynes of Castamere.”
“I know that.” Jaime’s not fond of being patronized. He doesn’t want to argue with his sister—that never goes well—but he’s not entirely sure he agrees with her. “Mother was friends with the Princess.”
“Mother’s dead,” Cersei snaps.
She is. She’s been dead for months now, and Jaime’s already starting to forget what she looked like. “Still,” he mumbles. “We should be nice like Uncle Kevan said. The Martells aren’t the reason Mother died.”
“No, our brother is.” Her voice, usually so lyrical, is filled with nothing but contempt when she speaks of Tyrion. He doesn’t understand that, either. Tyrion’s just a baby, it’s not his fault Mother died, not really. It’s not his fault he’s a dwarf. Cersei’s mouth stretches into that smirk, the one that sets him to unease. “I’ll show him to them. Mayhaps that will stop them with this silly betrothal business.”
Cersei scoffs. “You haven’t heard? Why else do you think they’d come all the way here? They’re angling to betroth you to saddle you with that sickly Elia, or mayhaps me with Oberyn. As if Father would let me go to a second son.”
He hadn’t heard, incidentally. But then, Cersei had always been the one with the ear for gossip, not him. Marriage. It’s such an abstract concept that he has trouble envisioning it. What if he doesn’t like this Princess Elia? Cersei certainly thinks poorly of her. His parents had had a loving marriage, but Aunt Genna doesn’t—what if his would be as bad as hers? Although Princess Elia isn’t a Frey, so that’s something.
They arrive in a sunburst of reds and yellows and oranges, looking so out of place that for a second Jaime wonders if they’re lost. If he had thought Father would be there to greet them, he was wrong; Uncle Kevan gets that responsibility, too. Princess Loreza exchanges mutual sorrows with his uncle about Mother’s death, then moves on to introducing herself to Cersei and him. Her accent is strange and she’s utterly intimidating, but he does his best to put on a good image. Cersei convinces her she’s perfectly demure, hiding her condescension well.
Uncle Kevan had impressed upon him the necessity not to call Prince Consort Trystane my lord or the Princess’s husband, for while he is both, to address him as such would be interpreted a slight. Jaime hasn’t met a consort before, but he likes this one. He ruffles Jaime’s hair out of the painstakingly styled arrangement it had been wrangled into, and he rests his hand on the curve of the Princess’s hip, like Father used to do with Mother. He thinks that’s nice.
Prince Oberyn follows, suspicion in those endless black eyes, and then Princess Elia. Her features are practically identical to her brother’s, only instead of suspicion, there is warmth. Mischief. She curtseys low to him, tells him he looks very lordly in his red-and-gold raiments. She’s pretty on top of all that, and regal besides.
Princess Loreza is not happy when Uncle Kevan informs her that Father is indisposed for the time being, but she has no choice but to abide by it. Prince Oberyn asks Cersei about Tyrion, and she coyly replies, “Soon. I’ll bring you to him soon.”
“Soon” turns out to be on the penultimate day of the Martells’ visit, while the Princess finally converses with Father. They go to the nursery, and immediately Prince Oberyn is openly disappointed. For Elia’s part, she gasps, fawning over Tyrion as though he’s the most darling infant in the realm. Were he to propose Tyrion go back to Sunspear with them, he wouldn’t be surprised if she said yes.
“No one expected the monster to live this long,” says Cersei. “He’ll die soon, you can count on that.”
“He seems a poor sort of monster,” comments Prince Oberyn, peering at Tyrion from this angle and that in an attempt to find flaws.
“He’s no monster,” Elia coos, stroking his cheek. Tyrion gurgles happily at the attention.
“He killed our mother,” Cersei snarls. Incensed at the Martells’ lack of reaction, she throws off the blanket, pulls down the cloth covering his privates, and pinches his member, hard. Tyrion squeals and wails, the sound echoing loud as a war horn.
“Oh, don’t!” Elia shrieks. “Stop it!”
She doesn’t, so Jaime grabs her wrist. “Leave him be, you’re hurting him.”
Taken aback at his objection, Cersei lets go of the baby and, with a derisive swish of her skirts, strides out of the nursery. Elia replaces the cloth and picks up Tyrion from the cradle, rocking him in her arms. After a few minutes of her soothing murmurs, he quiets, his nose running and his cheeks red.
“There now,” she whispers. “You’re all right, little one. I’m sure Lady Cersei didn’t mean it.”
Yes, she did.
When Tyrion tires himself out, she places him down gently, covering him again with the blanket. “Your brother is a delight,” she says. “He will need your kindness, Jaime. Do not forsake him.”
The way she implores him, her earnest expression, he can conceive of no other reply. “I won’t, princess.”
Ours wouldn’t be like Aunt Genna’s marriage. Not with her.
The second time he meets her, he’s thirteen years old and exhilarated, for he’d just handily trounced every opponent in his squires’ mêlée, and the knight who ultimately unseated him in the joust had, for a second, been scared that Jaime might actually win.
So when she comes to the tent to congratulate him, he’s caught off-guard, for more reasons than one. For all the stories—and Cersei—had reminded him about Elia Martell’s health, the most poignant thing Jaime remembers is her beauty. That hasn’t changed.
Hers is different than Cersei’s, which stops him in his tracks each time he gazes upon her, but no less stunning. She is a slip of a thing and drawn, but her skin is a smooth, glowing russet, her long hair thick and lustrous, her black eyes as sharp as her brother’s.
She toys with him, asserting herself and dropping innuendoes that have him floundering until she reveals it had all been in jest, and her resulting giggling is of pleasant resonance, her dimpled grin breathtaking. She gives him one of her yellow ribbons as a favor, ties it on his wrist with nimble fingers and steals a kiss. Her lips are pliant and soft, and when she pulls away, he’s disheartened by the brevity.
Her confidence is intoxicating. She’d clearly had experience with men, for no innocent maiden would be that practiced, and if the rumors of Dornishwomen are true, she’d probably lain with some as well. Perhaps, he thinks, her homeland has the right idea of letting their subjects be wanton. Certainly he enjoys Cersei more and more the longer they’re together; for a while it had been clumsy and awkward, and even as short as Elia’s kiss was, that hadn’t felt clumsy or awkward at all. She had been kissed often and by someone who knew how, and he’s not about to protest.
Nine months later they are again thrust together, this time at her wedding to the dragon prince. Between her resplendent gown, the golden crown of yellow sapphires on her head, and her hair that slowly comes undone as the night progresses, she shines the brightest of all.
She dances with her brothers, with her new husband, with the Kingsguard, with drunken Robert Baratheon whose advances she diverts so deftly it’s only after their dance that the storm lord figures out what had happened; without fail, she captivates them all, coaxes geniality from even the surliest of lords. If her health is dwindling or if the constant dancing is painful, she shows no signs.
She dances with him as well, tickled that he’d worn the ribbon she once gave him, and there’s something about her that enchants him, something far beyond her winsome exterior. A vibrancy within that transcends any frailty. And it is not illness he sees when he twirls her, nor weakness when she tilts her head back in laughter.
Cersei sulks the night away muttering snide comments, but Jaime can countenance none of them. To his eye, Elia embodies everything a princess should be, and he decides that Rhaegar is a fortunate man indeed to be married to her. Jaime has no idea which woman he will be forced to wed, but for just a moment, he toes the line of envy.
After the festivities subside, Cersei corners him, irked, and asks him if he’s smitten with the new future queen, for he’d stared at her openly enough; though she stalks off soon after, it has him considering. It is not what he feels for Cersei, and he hardly knows her, but he thinks that had his mother’s plans gone through and he married her instead of Prince Rhaegar, she would have been a very easy woman to fall in love with.
It is a devastating blow when his father whisks Cersei to Casterly Rock so soon after Ser Gerold puts the ivory cloak around his shoulders. It strands him by himself with six new brothers in white, every one of them serious and dedicated to a fault. But then Elia smiles, confides in him her secrets, and he decides there are much worse fates than serving her until the end of his days—even if he also has to guard a mad king and a miserable queen to do it.
It doesn’t last, of course, and much later, he would have nightmares for years. In them, each time Elia asks, Why, Jaime? Why didn’t you protect us? We needed you, and each time Jaime weeps, He was going to burn the whole city, half a million people, and I couldn’t be in two places at once. Please forgive me, Elia, please. She does, every time, nods and kisses his forehead in absolution, but when Jaime wakes, all the shadows offer him are memories of sweet Rhaenys calling him Uncle Jaime as she begged for a ride on his shoulders, Aegon’s delighted babbling, and Elia’s lips against his.
Then, nearly two decades after their blood wins Robert’s crown, he finds himself on his knees with a sword at his throat. “Swear that you will compel your brother to honor his pledge to return my daughters safe and unharmed. Swear it on your honor as a knight, on your honor as a Lannister, on your honor as a Sworn Brother of the Kingsguard,” says Catelyn Stark, hard as Valyrian steel. Her daughters could not be more dissimilar, Sansa light where Rhaenys was dark, Arya with hair of mud to Aegon’s silver, but all the same, he replies, “On my honor, such as it is, I so swear.”
He knows he’ll end up in the seven hells for all the wrongs he’s done, and yet, rendered feeble as a babe in Riverrun’s dank cell with the flat of the wench’s blade on his shoulder, he thinks maybe the gods have given him a second chance.
I will not save your children because I value my life, Lady Stark. I will save them because I couldn’t save hers.