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Family, Duty, Honor

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They were married in the sept at Casterly Rock. 

His bride was two years younger than him and so very quiet that Jaime wondered if she were mute. When he cloaked her in Lannister red and she looked up at him with her big blue eyes, he felt nothing. He was sure most grooms felt something, even if it were just lust, but he felt nothing. He would never love this girl or the woman she would grow to be. However, he would not hate her. It was not her fault that his father and hers had made this match so Jaime might escape the fate of taking the black. 

Their wedding feast was small and Jaime had no doubt his father hated it, but the men needed to rest for they would be heading off to Storm’s End or wherever it is they were going. Jaime would be going with them, leaving his bride behind in the lion’s den. 

“Would you like to dance, Ser?” she asked softly from their spot at the high table. 

He glanced over at her. She was pretty, he supposed. Whent red hair and Tully blue eyes. He had seen her eldest sister, Catelyn, at the Tourney at Harrenhal and thought her much prettier. However, none could match Cersei in Jaime’s heart. 

“I’m not particularly fond of dancing,” he admitted. 

“Oh.” She looked down at her hands folded in her lap before glancing back at the dancing before them. 

Jaime just wanted the wedding to be over with. Soon enough, the men began shouting for a bedding ceremony. His wife, her name still unregistered in his mind, was pulled from her seat and lifted upon the shoulders of the crowding men. Jaime ignored her and glanced at Cersei.

His sister was the only woman present. Most of the work women were too busy preparing food and other essentials for the next day’s journey to be there. Cersei walked to him with every inch of grace that Jaime could remember Princess Elia having. He offered her his arm and they left the dining hall. No doubt those that had remained guessed that she would be telling him to be gentle with his young wife or whatever advice a sister might give to her brother when no mother was present. 

However, once they were far enough away from prying eyes, Jaime rucked up his sister’s skirt, pressed her into the wall, and thrust into her until she was almost screaming and he promised that he would come to her later that night once he finished his duties. She had kissed him, whispering mine, mine, mine when he finished inside her. 

Those words echoed in his chest, drowning out burn them all. 

He finally entered his chambers where his bride—Celia, that was her name—was sitting on his bed in her shift. She was blushing so terribly that Jaime wondered if she might overheat. Her red hair was loose and she was running her fingers through it nervously. 

She stood as he entered and gave him a curtsy. “Ser.”

He looked her over and sighed inwardly. She was a skinny thing, it would be hard to imagine Cersei while taking her. 

“Will it hurt, Ser?”

“Will what hurt?”

She turned red again. “Cat says it does not always hurt but Lysa says that it feels as though you are being run through with a sword,” she said quickly. “But Lysa has never been run through by a sword so I don’t know if she speaks the truth. Cat said it can be nice, but so many say it isn’t, not the first time at least.”

Ah. That. 

“It is better to simply get it done with,” he told her.

“Oh,” she looked down at her bare feet. “I thought you were really brave.”

He tilted his head and narrowed his eyes. “Brave?”

“The… the Mad King.”

Burn them all.

“I was a ladies maid to Princess Elia,” she said, “but Father was able to smuggle me out. I was there when he… when he killed Lord Stark and Lord Brandon.”

Burn them all .

“It was… you did the right thing.”

Burn them all .

“Get on the bed,” Jaime ordered, his voice restrained. He just wanted to disappear inside.

Burn them all.

She looked up at him then, her eyes wide. She did as she was told and sat on the bend before pushing herself back so that she was all the way on the bed. Jaime undid his trousers and pulled his shirt from them. He would keep the shirt on, wanting as much between them as possible. Even so, his father and hers would no doubt check to make sure that her maidenhead had been taken. He crawled atop her and she looked up at him, her hair the color of fire spread beneath her. 

“Don’t speak,” he ordered. If she was quiet, he could close his eyes and pretend it was Cersei. “Make as little noise as possible. Do you understand?”

She nodded before closing her eyes. 

Jaime reached between them and readied her. He wasn’t cruel. He would make this as painless as he possibly could, but this wasn’t lovemaking, it was coupling for an heir, he couldn’t even call this fucking. There was nothing behind it. No love. No hatred. Nothing. 

When she was ready, he entered her slowly, letting himself disappear inside himself before he forced his way as deep as he could. Jaime closed his eyes and began to move, thinking of Cersei and her possessive proclamations. 

Mine. Mine. Mine. 

Hers. Jaime would only ever belong to her. His other half. The only one who could possibly understand him. Know him. Love him. 

His wife moaned underneath him and he just wanted it to be over. He worked himself to his release and once he had spilled fully inside her, he pulled out and rolled away from her. Jaime kept his eyes closed, trying to find himself again. Find where he had disappeared to. He stiffened when he felt his wife, Celia, brush her fingers along his hair, tucking it away from his face. 

Jaime took her wrist in his hand and pulled it away from his face. He stood up and went to where he had discarded his trousers. “Sleep here,” he told her. “These are to be our chambers, or one of them, I suppose.”

She had sat up and was watching him, her shift rumpled and Jaime could see the slight stain of blood between her thighs. “Have I displeased you, Ser?”

He looked at her. She reminded him of Queen Rhaella in a way or maybe Princess Elia. It wasn’t her fault that he could not love her. “No,” he said finally. “I have things I must do before I leave.”

She nodded. “I… I wish you good fortune on your travels and shall pray to the Warrior every day for you.”

Jaime finished tucking in his shirt. He said nothing, but merely nodded before leaving his room. 

He went to find Cersei. To love her and spend as long as he can in her arms for who knew what the next battle might bring. 

His wife wrote to him often, although he had little time to write her back. He did not have time to write Cersei either so he felt no guilt for it. His sister wrote little of his wife, save for when she annoyed her. 

My dearest Jaime,

Your little wife has begun to amuse herself with the presence of our younger brother. She walks with him in the garden and is teaching him poetry and such nonsense. She then always asks after you to see if you have written me, but I have received no letters from you or Father for that matter. I find your wife to be incredibly dull and insipid. Perhaps I might have liked her if she seemed to have any sort of cunning. She is truly a fish. I doubt she will thrive as a lion. ...

Her letter continued in detail of what she dreamed upon his return. She detailed how her fingers were not enough and how she wished he would return to her. Rarely did Jaime find time to seek pleasure from his own hand, but in the moments he did, it was with Cersei’s name at the tip of his tongue. 

The Baratheon/Lannister army had barely finished the siege of Storm’s End when he received a letter he knew not how to react. 

Dear Ser,

I pray that this letter finds you in good health and cheer. I know my letters are no doubt boring to you in comparison to your sisters. I have only a younger brother and know not what to write about save for the happenings of the keep and so forth. 

However, you will find that the content of this letter is far different from any previous. 

I am happy to inform you that I am with child. I had been suspicious in the time I was writing my previous letter, but I did not wish to give you a false hope. The maester believes I am three months pregnant, which makes sense due to our wedding having taken place that long ago. 

I await your return and pray that you may come home soon so that you might be here when the time comes. However, I understand that you have more important things to handle. 

I have thoughts for names and wondered if you had any as well. I have thought Arthur, for Arthur Dayne, if the babe is a boy, and Sansa, for I like the sound of Sansa Lannister, if it is a girl. However, I shall name the child at your pleasure for you are certainly more knowledgeable of names for a Lannister child. 

I await your return and shall pray to the Warrior, Mother, and Father. 

Your loving wife,

Celia Lannister

Jaime set the letter down and stared at it for a long time. He found no reaction but a laugh. A child. He closed his eyes and his stomach dropped. 

Princess Rhaenys and Prince Aegon wrapped in Lannister cloaks. His father and Robert Baratheon smiling. 

He opened his eyes. How ironic that he might have a child when the children of the man he swore himself to no longer drew breath. 

When he and his father returned to Casterly Rock, he was greeted by his sister, his brother, and his wife and son. 

Celia seemed to have a healthier glow than she had the last time he saw her. She held a small bundle swaddled in Lannister red. She curtsied to him and his father. 

“Ah, the littlest lion,” Tywin said with a smile. It almost appeared genuine and Jaime could not remember a time that he had last seen his father smile so truly. “Have you named him?”

“Arthur Lannister, my lord,” she said rocking the babe and cooing at him once he became restless. “I have hope that he might be as great a knight as his namesake and father.”

“A strong name,” Tywin replied. “May I hold him?”

Celia looked to Jaime, who nodded in answer to her unasked question. Hesitantly, she handed their son to his grandfather. 

Jaime could not remember his father ever holding Tyrion and realized this might have been the first time he had ever seen the great Tywin Lannister hold a child. The Lannister patriarch held his grandson tenderly and smiled as he spied the blonde tufts of hair. 

“His eyes are blue,” Celia admitted. “Although sometimes they look green when we are outside.”

“He appears healthy.”

Celia beamed. “Yes, my lord. He came into the world with a good set of lungs. I feared I might not sleep a wink after that, but he is a very quiet soul in general. He is a rather gentle babe.”

Tywin gave his grandson back to his mother. He turned to Jaime. “It appears we must celebrate. The Lannister line is to continue and it has been agreed that Cersei will marry the new king Robert Baratheon.”

Jaime’s stomach twisted into a knot. Cersei would be leaving him for King’s Landing. He had only just gotten her back. Now they were to be separated again. Could the gods truly be so cruel?

Burn them all. 

Jaime closed his eyes. 

Of course they could.

Chapter Text

“Is my brother good to you?”

Celia looked at her good sister through the mirror as she finished one of the decorative braids for her wedding hair. “He is kind, my lady,” Celia replied. “He is distant, but we are strangers. He is not cruel and I think that is all a girl can hope for.”

Cersei smiled at her through the mirror. Celia blushed. They had the same eyes, her husband and his sister. Her good sister was beautiful and looked like the Maiden reborn. Her husband, the Warrior. 

“And you are to visit often from Casterly Rock?”

Celia nodded. “Of course. I shan’t keep little Arthur from his Aunt Cersei.”

“Speaking of,” the nurse said, coming in. “The little ser is hungry.”

Celia looked to Cersei. “Do you mind?”

“Not at all.”

Celia took her son into her arms and loosened the top of her dress. Her son latched on quickly and began to feed. She cooed over here son and let his fist curl around one of her fingers. 

“I wonder if Ser Jaime looked like this when he was a babe.”

Cersei laughed. “Then I must have looked the same. Everyone says that, when we were swaddled, only our mother could tell us apart.”

Celia smiled. “I shall be happy I did not have twin boys or twin girls then. My sister, Cat, has twin boys and she’s lucky that one takes after her and the other takes after Ned.”

Arthur squirmed in her arms to tell her he was full. Celia stood and began to rock her son, humming a Riverland tune she remembered Cat singing to her when they were children. She was able to burp her son and handed him off to the nurse to take to the rooms she and her husband were sharing. King Robert had offered to let them use the royal nursery, but Celia had politely declined. She could still remember coming in to change the little prince’s diapers or mending the princess’ dresses. She could still hear Princess Elia’s laugh. 

“Celia?”

She blinked and looked to Cersei. Celia smiled. “It’s nothing. Now, let me finish your hair and then we will be ready for the procession to the sept.”

Celia continued to work on Cersei’s hair. Since Lady Lannister has died long ago and there were no Lannister sister to help, the duty of helping Cersei prepare fell on Celia. “Considering how lucky many of us women of the rebellion have been, I wonder if you will grace us with a little prince or princess soon.”

Cersei smirked. “Every girl in the Seven Kingdoms dreams of the man who is to become mine by oath.” The Lannister girl looked at peace. “I cannot imagine any woman being any happier.”

“Finished,” Celia said, setting the last pin in place. “He will be in awe of you,” she said truthfully. “Perhaps he will have sculptures of the Maiden remade in your image.”

Cersei laughed gently. She turned around and took Celia’s hand in her own. “We are sisters now, you and I.” She squeezed Celia’s hand gently. “I ask that you take care of our sweet brother Jaime.”

Celia squeezed her good sister’s hand back. “I will do my duty as a wife. I believe I can learn to love him as I know I love our son and whatever children the gods bless us with.”

“Good.” Cersei presses a gentle kiss to Celia’s cheek. “Shall we tell our father that we are ready?”

“Of course.”

Her husband took her from behind, burying his face into her neck, grunting as he groped at her breasts. It was almost painful, this way, but perhaps it was supposed to be like this? She did not know. The first time with her husband had not been as painful as Lysa had told her it would be, nor was it as painless as Cat said it could be. Perhaps they had exaggerated? 

Celia buried her face into the sheets to muffle her moans. Ser Jaime did not seem to like her voicing herself during their couplings and Celia so wanted to please him—to find happiness as Cat had. She wanted her husband’s love and, at least, affection. 

At the very least it did not wake Arthur, who was asleep in his crib. 

The tension and her belly coiled and sprang as her husband continued to rut behind her, his pace quickening. She felt him spend and he froze until he had filled her. He pulled out and rolled onto his back, his eyes were closed. Celia lowered herself onto her side and watched her husband carefully. 

Many women had been jealous of Cersei that day for marrying the king, the hero of Westeros. However, Celia loved the man she laid beside. The man who had saved the Seven Kingdoms from fire and blood. 

She knew he did not remember her. But she had been there too when Lord Stark and Lord Brandon had been killed. She remembered going to the gardens and crying at such cruelty. At the death of the man her sister was to marry. At the horror of the king’s laughter. Ser Jaime had seen her then, or at least noticed her for the first time. He offered her a handkerchief emblazoned with a golden lion. She had kept the token for she had been smuggled away from King’s Landing not long after. Her husband could be kind, she knew. She just wished that she knew how to have him love her. 

Ser Jaime sat up and got off the bed. He went for the water basin and brought her a washcloth to clean herself and did the same for himself. He then pulled on his trousers. Before climbing into bed. 

Her husband did not appear to enjoy pressing himself to her in their sleep, although she occasionally awoke to him wrapped around her, holding her tight. On those nights there were tears in his eyes as he uttered one word: please . Over and over and over. Celia would wake him and he would leave to go to the training yard. 

How Celia wished he would open up to her. 

Celia awoke to a knock at the door. She hadn’t even realized that she had fallen asleep. She sat up as Ser Jaime got out of their bed. Arthur gave out a displeased whine and Celia stood to get her son. He might be hungry again. She picked up Arthur just as Ser Jaime opened the door. 

“What?” he asked, his voice thick with sleep. 

“The Queen is asking to see you, Ser.” Celia recognized the voice as a Lannister soldier. 

Her husband stiffened visibly. “Is everything alright?”

“She simply wishes to see you.”

“One moment.” Ser Jaime closed the door and went about collecting his clothes. Once he was moderately dressed, he left without a word or glance to Celia. 

She held her son close in her arms and sat down to let him suckle. 

She did not understand why, but tears began to prick her eyes. Even with her son in her arms, she felt so very much alone. 

Celia breathed a sigh of relief once they finally returned to Casterly Rock. Her husband had spent most of their time in King’s Landing, after the wedding, with his sister. She could not begrudge him for it since she felt the same about her own sisters. Even so, she wished that he might spend more time with her and Arthur. 

She had written to Cersei, asking advice on how she might gain her husband’s interest since Cersei had known Ser Jaime their whole lives. 

To my sweet good sister,

You must always remember that my brother was once a member of the kingsguard. He had taken a vow of chastity and I very much doubt he ever gave much thought to being married. If I recall correctly, he had almost been engaged to your sister Lysa, but got distracted speaking to your uncle of knighthood and such. 

Do not feel disheartened, little sister. Jaime must simply be very peculiar on who bestows such loving affection. Perhaps you should learn different ways to please him in bed? Although I doubt my brother would ever lower himself, men do often go to the smallfolk for pleasure. Perhaps they have a way that might help you conquer him.

I wish you the best of luck, good sister, although I fear Jaime’s heart is no longer his to give. 

With amused affection,

Cersei Lannister

“Hello, good sister.”

Celia looked up from the letter she had just finished writing to Cat. “Hello, Tyrion.” The thirteen-year-old boy spent his days rarely leaving the castle. He was a doting uncle to his little nephew, commenting on how it was nice to no longer be the small one. “Have you finished with your lessons?”

“As much as the maester can stand. I fear I find him boring.”

She smiled. He reminded her a little of her younger brother Edmure. “You need to learn your lessons, Tyrion.”

The boy sighed. “But it’s boring.”

“Most adult things are boring.”

Tyrion frowned. “You’re only five years older than I am.”

“And I feel so much smarter for it.”

He rolled his eyes. 

“Did you need something, Tyrion?”

“I hear my brother plans to return to the capital soon. The king has called him to train some of the new kingsguard.”

Celia blinked. 

“Ah. So you didn’t know then.”

She blushed. “I am certain he forgot to mention it or thought I already knew.”

Tyrion shrugged. “Do you think you could convince Jaime to take me with him? I want to see the skulls of the last dragons.”

“I’ll speak to him, Tyrion.”

Her good brother nodded. “Okay. Say hello to your sister for me.”

“There’s room in the corner if you’d like to say so yourself.”

Tyrion scribbled a hello and signed his name at the corner of Celia’s letter. She rolled it and stamped her seal upon the letter. She would give it to the maester to sent tomorrow. 

Now, she was off to see her husband. 

She found him in their solar looking at the sleeping Arthur in his crib. He glanced up at her as she entered. 

“Are you returning to the capital?”

“Yes, the king and Cersei wish me to train the new kingsguard.”

“But we’ve only been back for three months.” She hates how childish she sounded. “How long will you be gone?”

“For as long as I am needed.”

Look at me , she wanted to beg. Please, look at me. “Will you return for Arthur’s first nameday?”

“Perhaps.”

“Can you not even promise?”

“Why should I make a vow I might break. You must be aware how little I care for vows. How easily they can be broken.”

“Ser Jaime—”

“What?”

Stay. “Tyrion wished for me to ask if you might bring him to King’s Landing. He wishes to see the dragon skulls.”

Her husband snorted. “Of course he does.”

“C—” her husband grunted against her ear as he finished. He pulled out of her almost immediately that time. They had just gotten word that his journey to King’s Landing would be delayed due to some flooding on the main road. He had taken her to their rooms and bent her over her writing desk and brought himself to relief. 

She had grown used to how her husband coupled with her. Celia had heard some of the maids tell bawdy tales of their own husbands or lovers. There were many different ways for a man to take a woman, the way her husband did was certainly one of them. Perhaps it was just a preference. 

She turned to look at her husband as he straightened out his clothes. Celia smoothed out her skirts and glanced to her husband. He was already turned away, as though preparing to leave. Celia wrapped her arms around his arm, holding herself close to him. “Can I not pleasure you some more, Ser?”

He froze and looked down at her. His green eyes were hard and distant. “No,” he replied. “You cannot.”

Celia let him go and watched as her husband left their room with little evidence that he had ever been there.

Chapter Text

His wife stood between his father and brother, their son in her arms. Arthur was sitting up, his head resting against Celia’s shoulder. His blond curls were tucked behind his ears and his blue eyes were watching him curiously. He hadn’t spent much time with his son, not as much as he wished, but he was too busy. At times, when he looked at the boy, he saw silver hair instead of gold, violet eyes instead of blue. Wrapped up in a red cloak stained with blood. What right did he have to touch the child. 

“Remind your sister of her duties as queen,” Tywin said with every inch of authority he always carried. “The king needs an heir.”

Jaime’s stomach twisted into a knot at the idea of Cersei growing round with someone else’s child. Of her birthing a dark haired prince that looked nothing like her. Nothing like him. Holding back his grimace, he nodded to his father slightly. 

“Write to me,” Celia said when he took her hand and kissed it in farewell. “I will tell you when Arthur starts trying to walk.” 

Their son was crawling now. Jaime could hardly believe it. Tyrion has been mildly displeased by the whole thing, but that was more due to how much the boy had grown over the past four months. 

“I will try to find the time.” There would be nothing to write about. Perhaps a tourney he might win where he would crown Cersei as the Queen of Love and Beauty, but that was it. He would not tell her of those moments he would take Cersei as his own and they could pretend that they were all that mattered. That they could have a son of their own that might become king. A true lion to rule Westeros. A true lion that would be better than any stag or dragon. 

Celia nodded, but did not look at him. He guessed that she had yet to forgive him for missing their son’s first nameday. She pulled her hand back and held their son more securely in her arms, pressing her nose to the top of his head and kissing it. 

“Why can’t I come with you,” Tyrion mumbled. 

“Tyrion,” their father warned.

Jaime opened his mouth, ready to say that Cersei had forbidden it, but Celia cut in. 

“It is my fault, I think,” she said quickly. “I shall be quite lonely without Ser Jaime and he could not bare to deprive Arthur of his favorite lion uncle.”

This seemed to pascify Tyrion and he remained quiet. 

Jaime did not respond and instead turned to go to his horse. He mounted the beast and glanced at his family once more before heading down the road to King’s Landing. 

He was beating her. 

Jaime saw red when he caught sight of the bruise across his sister’s cheek. 

“It isn’t as bad as it looks,” Cersei said, waving her hand at his concern. “It was an accident. He was speaking with his hands after falling too much in his cup and I was in the way.”

Jaime cupped her face in his hands. “I’ve killed one king before for less.”

Perhaps they would kill him then. Perhaps they would let him take the black. Then he would not have to be so unfaithful to his love for Cersei or his vows to his wife. 

Cersei put her hands over his and kissed him gently. “It matters not,” she said. “You are here and I will not let you do anything that might take you away from me.”

They fell into bed together, finding that nothing had changed about themselves. Finding that they could still map each other’s bodies with their fingers and lips. She was still his Cersei and he was still her Jaime. Even all these months apart they still belonged together, two halves brought together to become whole. 

He could disappear inside her and all the memories could fade. All the nightmares could end. 

“How is your little wife?” she asked once they were spent and panting. 

“I don’t want to talk about her,” he replied. “Not here, not like this.”

“Is she good to you? Does she satisfy you like I do?”

Jaime stroked her cheek with his thumb. “She is no you. She does not speak when we couple. I can close my eyes and pretend it’s you.”

Cersei snorted. “I am not nearly as boyish as she.”

“No,” he smiled. “You are not.”

“And your little Arthur?” Cersei said, folding her arms across his chest and resting her head on them. “How is our little lion?”

“Well, I will miss his first nameday, but I would rather be here.” He kissed the crown of her head. “With you.”

Cersei smiled. “If I had a girl…” Jaime stiffened. “If I had a girl… perhaps she and Arthur could marry. I can have a girl that looks as I do and Arthur will stand by her side.” He relaxed against her. “They could be in public where we never could.”

Jaime kissed her again, the idea of her having Robert Baratheon’s child making his stomach twist. “Perhaps.”

“I’ve been drinking moon tea after every time Robert coupled with me,” his sister admitted one night when the king was deep in his cup and off with one of his many whores. He had been in King’s Landing for two months and his son was now one. “It’s why I haven’t fallen pregnant yet.”

Jaime watched her as she twirled his hair between her fingers. It hurt slightly, but he would suffer anything for his sweet sister. “Father wants you to have a child, Cersei.” He hated it. Hated those words. Hated their father for marrying Cersei like a broodmare. Marrying her to a drunk king who found pleasure in other women and a ghost when he had the most beautiful woman in all Seven Kingdoms ready for his bed. “If you don’t have a child… Robert May divorce you. Father would send you to the Silent Sisters.” Away from me . Cersei continued to play with his hair in thought. “Cersei.”

“What if I have your son?”

His mind went to Arthur first.

Cersei crawled up and straddled his hips. She looked like the Maiden reborn. “What if you give me a son, Jaime? What if you give me a son and a true lion sits in the Iron Throne? Someone as beautiful as us and as good as us. The Targaryens could do it. Why can’t we?”

Burn them all. 

“Cersei…”

She bent down and kissed him sweetly, rolling her hips against his. “The only people that matter will be us and our children.”

Jaime closed his eyes. Children. 

Dear Ser,

Arthur has begun to babble in earnest now. I fear his steps are growing more sure as well. It feels as though just yesterday the maester put him in my arms. Soon, he will be picking up swords and riding horses. Where have the days gone, Ser Jaime?

He looks for you. When he lays with me in bed, he wishes to nap on your side, curling around the stuffed lion your father gave or the fish my brother sent. He misses you, Ser. I believe he even knows what road you will come down on when you return, what gate you will enter. He fusses when we pass it and wishes to wait there for you for minutes on end. 

Do you know when you will return?

Tyrion has begun to show some interest in coin and strategy. I fear he will begin beating me in cyvasse soon.

I have found a girl in Lannisport that I have asked your father to let me take on. She’s a girl whose parents hail from Naath. Her name is Avari. She is but fourteen, however she has an ear for languages and has true potential. Your father was not pleased when I put such a notion forward, however I made him see sense. Avari has begun to speak to Arthur in High Valyrian and a few other Essosi languages. I have taken her and her parents in. Her father, Massor,  is a great smith by trade and her mother, Syrina, is a wonderful seamstress. They are such lovely people and I know that we shall be great friends and Arthur adores Avari. I fear I am only a little jealous. 

I pray that things are going well in King’s Landing. Give Cersei my love and let her know that, should the king allow, I am certain Arthur would love to see his aunt again.

Your loving wife,

Celia Lannister

They tried for children earnestly. 

Every chance they got they would try.

Jaime hates to think the degradation that Cersei had to face in order for Robert to not spend in her. But when they shared a bed, nothing else mattered. They were the only ones who mattered. The only ones.

He imagined Cersei growing round with his child. She would look like the Mother. Every ethereal grace the gods have they would be bestowed upon her. He could see their son now. 

A prince with golden hair and green eyes. A true lion. He would bring about a true golden age of Westeros. 

“We will have three children,” Cersei whispered as he took her against the wall. “Three golden-haired children. Lannister’s through and through. They will be like gods as the Targaryens were.”

Burn them all

Jaime buried his face into Cersei’s golden hair. She was his anchor. The only thing that mattered. The only thing that made sense. 

“Ours.”

He let her moans and cries drown out the voice of the Mad King. Let the look of her release wash away the image of Aegon and Rhaenys’ bodies. Of Princess Elia’s body. 

“Mine,” Cersei almost screamed as she found her release. 

Jaime buried himself deeper. Forcing the tears to not fall. 

Cersei was pregnant. 

A child. Theirs. 

“You have to go now,” she told him. 

Jaime felt his heart tighten. “What?”

“You’ve been here too long, Jaime. People might suspect something.”

“Hang what everyone else says! This is my child.” He put his hands on Cersei’s hips and pulled her to him. 

“Come back when it’s time for the babe to be born. Be with me then.” She kissed him tenderly before looking up at him with his own green eyes. “Please. We can’t risk Robert finding out. You know what he does to children”

Jaime shuddered, the image of the young princess and the still younger prince wrapped in Lannister cloaks. Bloodied. 

Princess Rhaenys kissing his cheek when he picked her up. Prince Aegon laughing when Jaime made a face for him

“Jaime.”

He closed his eyes. “I will return to you when the babe is going to be born.”

Cersei smiled up at him as though he had given her the sun. “What shall we name him?”

“Him?”

“Just a feeling.”

“Joffrey,” Jaime said softly. “After Joffrey Dayne.”

“So he can be like his older brother?” Cersei put a hand to her flat belly. “Perfect.”

Jaime’s stomach twisted. He hadn’t thought of Arthur at all.

Chapter Text

Avari was truly the best friend Celia had ever had. True, Cat had almost always held a place, but now she was relegated to favorite sister. Although she was four years younger than Celia, they had plenty in common when it came to conversation and Avari was teaching Celia some Valyrian as well. 

“How are your parents settling in?” Celia asked as they did some sewing. 

“They are settling in well,” Avari answered. “Mother is pleased to have access to better fabrics and Father enjoys a full use of a forge.”

Celia smiled. “And you?”

“I have never had so many books within my reach.” Avari blushed. “I even found an old book on the Targaryens in Old Valyrian.”

“Oh? Is it so different from High Valyrian that you cannot read it?”

“No, the words are similar enough that I can understand what is being said. A few words seem to have been lost though.”

“How terrible that parts of a language have been so utterly lost. I have no real love for Valyria for their slaves and such, but to lose a language is such a horrid thing. Think of the histories we shall never truly learn from.”

“It lives on in High Valyrian, I suppose.”

“True.”

“Ah,” Tywin entered Celia’s solar. “There you are my dear.”

Celia and Avari stood, curtsying when they did. “My lord.”

He waved his hand at them both. “I have letters from my son. I have already read mine and know there is good news for you in your own.” He smiled kindly as he handed her a sealed letter. “There you are, my dear.”

Celia politely took the letter and thanked her good father before opening the letter gently. She pulled the letter from its casing and read it carefully. Her husband had not written her in weeks. 

Dear Lady, 

I write to tell you that I should be returning to Casterly Rock within a few days time of you receiving this letter. I left Cersei in the capital in high spirits. She sends her love to you and Arthur and would enjoy it greatly if you or Arthur could join me in a visit King’s Landing at our earliest convenience. 

I await the next chance I have to see Arthur again and to see how he is progressing as you have stated in your previous letters. I fear his chance of picking up love steal or riding anything without one of us present is a few years or so off. So, there is no need for him to worry. I believe the only one that should worry is Tyrion for he will once again be the smallest Lannister at that point in time. 

Cersei has informed me that it is customary for a husband to bring his wife something when they return after a long time away. I have bought a Myrish necklace with a sapphire rose and rubied leaves for you that I shall give to you upon my return as well as a wooden child sword that Arthur might use by his second nameday. I would suggest my old one, but I know not where it is nor if it would even be in any condition for anyone, much less a child to use. 

I shall see you in a few days time. 

Your husband,

Ser Jaime Lannister

Celia rubbed her thumb across her husband’s name. He would be returning to her. Happiness swelled in her chest at the knowledge that her husband would be returning to her.

She looked up to find her good father and Avari both smiling at her. Celia blushed. “We should prepare for my husband's return. He has been gone for so long. Perhaps we might throw together a small feast? All of Ser Jaime’s favorites?”

“I have already sent word to the cook,” Tywin said gently. 

“My lady, my mother is almost die with your newest dress,” Avari said happily. “Perhaps we could have the fitting done before Ser Jaime returns?”

Celia’s cheeks burned into a deeper scarlet. She wondered how her husband might look at her in such a dress. “That would be lovely Avari, thank you.”

“Off you two go then,” Tywin instructed. “Perhaps we might expect another child within a year’s time.” 

Her good father actually winked and Celia felt she might faint at the thought of having another child. A child Ser Jaime would be present for. A child she would not have alone. 

The dress was much finer than the one she wore for her wedding. The one she was wearing to meet her husband looked as though it were spun with gold. It was cut in a Meerenees style that left her arms bare and a slightly lower neckline. She had been afraid that it was too much, but Tyrion had told her she looked alright while blushing and Lord Tywin told her she looked like a red haired Nymeria.

Celia held Arthur in her arms as they waited by the gate. Her son was bouncing himself. “Dadadadadadadada.” His babbling caused most everyone to smile as they waited for their lord’s heir to return to them. Arthur was adored by everyone in the castle. He smiled at everyone and waved to them whenever the passed by. Occasionally he would pat their heads when they bowed or curtsied to him. 

Celia kissed the top of her son’s head just as the gate opened. She looked up and smiled when she saw her husband ride in. He looked like a gallant knight from the songs. Her husband stopped his horse before them and got off. He ran his fingers through his hair and Celia blushed. Her husband was so very handsome. She was truly the luckiest woman in all Seven Kingdoms. 

All but Tywin gave a small bow or curtsy to Ser Jaime.

“Dadadadada!” Arthur squealed, reaching for Ser Jaime, his fingers curling and opening as they reached for him. 

Her husband looked mildly surprised, but hesitantly took the boy into his arms. Arthur patted his father’s cheeks with his hands and laughed. Her husband’s lips twitched into a small smile. 

The sight made up for her husband’s lack of comment on her own appearance. Perhaps now that her husband was home, he would be allowed to stay longer and they could truly begin to build their relationship as Cat and Ned had. 

A week or so later, a letter arrived from King’s Landing announcing that the queen was with child. The whole of Casterly Rock was in a happy mood. Everyone talked of whether the child would be an heir or a little princess. Celia hoped that it might be a boy so Arthur might have a cousin he could play with who lived closer. She had yet to see her sister and her twin boys. 

The only person who didn’t seem to be in a celebratory mood was Ser Jaime. He seemed withdrawn that day and Celia knew not how to help him. He seemed quiet and distant, more so than usual. He didn’t take part in the conversations going on about him. 

“He is probably simply annoyed that the queen didn’t tell him first,” Avari suggested. “I know that if I had a twin I would wish to be the first to know as well. After the father of course.”

Celia supposed this was true. Cat had written her as soon as she knew of her pregnancy and Celia had done the same, even if they were not twins. 

“Is it not good news?” Celia asked her husband as they readied for bed that night. Arthur has finally been placed in the nursery. Although Celia would miss having her son cuddle to her chest, she did not mind that she could now share her marriage bed and room with only her husband. “A little prince or princess.” Her husband pulled his sleeping shirt over his head as Celia looked at him through the mirror. “A Baratheon heir.”

“Get on the bed.”

Celia froze. She looked back at her husband. “What?”

“Get on the bed.” He spoke slowly, his green eyes were dark with an emotion Celia couldn’t read.

She stood slowly and walked to the bed. Celia crawled onto it on her hands and knees. She waited and tensed as she felt her husband her onto the bed behind her. She closed her eyes as her husband pushed her shift up over her hips and took her roughly from behind. 

Celia buried her face into her pillow and bit back a cry as her husband moved within her. This time was more painful than any before due to her husband not preparing her at all. Ser Jaime grunted behind her, slamming into her as though angry. Heat began to curl in her belly as she felt her release. She held back her moan as he continued through it. 

Celia turned her head to the side to breath. His hand was near he face and she held onto his wrist as he continued to pound into her. Over and over in a steady rhythm. She squeezed his wrist when his movements began to falter. The heat coiled in her belly once more and she released again when Ser Jaime’s movements froze and he moaned into the back of her neck.

He stayed there for a moment, sinking into her, pressing her against the bed. She felt his eyelashes flutter against her neck and he took a shuddering breath. He pulled out of her and got off the bed instead of laying down upon it. 

Celia pushed herself up and sat on her knees as she looked up at husband. He went to the water basin to clean himself off. Ser Jaime returned with a cloth for her as well. 

He was always gentle after their couplings. Sometimes she thought she saw shame grace her husband’s features, but she didn’t know why. 

“Have I displeased you, Ser?” she asked quietly, wincing as she finished cleaning herself. 

“What?” He looked pulled from his thoughts. 

“Have I displeased you?” she asked again, letting the wet cloth fall to the ground. “You were… it was more painful than usual.”

His face grew ashen as he looked at her in terror. “Did I hurt you?”

“It’s fine, Ser.”

He stepped closer to her. “Did I hurt you?”

“I imagine there might be bruises tomorrow,” she admitted. “But it is nothing, Ser.” She took his hand between her own. “There has always been some bruising, tonight was simply… rougher than usual.”

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. 

“It’s nothing, Ser.” She didn’t understand why he was apologizing. “Isn’t that how it is supposed to be?”

“No, my lady,” he replied. “It isn’t.” He buried his face in his free hand. “It shouldn’t… Gods.”

“Ser Jaime?”

“My lady, if it ever hurts in a way you cannot bare, tell me.”

Celia blinked up at him. “But I am to be quiet—”

“Not if I am hurting you.” He sat down on their bed. “Never if I’m hurting you.” Ser Jaime looked at her, his face still ashen. “Forgive me, my lady.”

“There is nothing to forgive, Ser Jaime.”

He did not look convinced. 

Celia leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her husband’s cheek. “It is nothing, husband. But I promise that I will tell you if it is ever too much to bare.” She rested her head upon his shoulder. “I promise, I will tell you if you ever truly hurt me.”

He nodded. Ser Jaime curled his finger under her chin and tilted her head up. He pressed his lips to her forehead. 

Celia felt her heart flutter against her chest as he did. 

Whenever she and Ser Jaime coupled again, he was far gentler. He would kiss the back of her neck and whisper softly to her, asking if she was okay and if he needed to stop. It felt nice. She felt cherished. 

Things began to settle in Casterly Rock when she grew sick. At first she thought it was something she had eaten, but when the sickness did not stop, she went to the maester. 

The old man smiled at her. “Congratulations, my lady. It appears that we shall have another lion cub running alongside the young lordling soon.”

Celia glowed, pressing a hand to her flat belly. 

She was pregnant once more.

Chapter Text


(image by Lord_Wayne)

Jaime settle back into Casterly Rock, knowing he would return to King’s Landing for the birth of his child soon. The first time he had coupled with Celia upon his return had been after Cersei had announced to the realm that she was pregnant with Robert Baratheon’s heir. The claim had twisted his stomach into knots. He had raged at the thought that he could not claim his child as his own. His anger had taken over him as he went away inside, not thinking of his wife, who had none of the iron Cersei had beneath her skin. 

And, he had hurt her. 

His wife he could never hate. It was not her fault that the gods had brought her into his life when he had already vowed in his heart to love only Cersei. 

He had hurt her. He had been hurting her. 

The next morning after that coupling, he lifted her shift over her hip and saw the dark marks of his hand across her flesh and noticed the slightly awkward gait of her step the following day. 

He had done that. 

He had hurt her. 

How often had he been forced to stand and listen as Aerys did the same to Rhaella?

Jaime truly was a monster as the Targaryens were afterall.

Burn them all. 

“Ser Jaime?”

He looked up from his desk in the private study his father had set up for him. His wife stood by the now open door. A red shawl wrapped around herself. She had been feeling unwell recently and Jaime had ordered a shawl made of the best Northern wool to help keep her warm in the drafty castle. She had thanked him for the gift and wore it often, even when the shawl did not match whatever it was she was wearing. 

Jaime stood and went to her. He put his hands on her shoulders, searching her face for answers. “Are you alright? Did you go to the maester as I asked?”

Celia smiled up at him and nodded. “The maester said I was fine.”

Jaime frowned. “You certainly are not. You haven’t been able to keep your morning food down and have been tired for most of the time recently.”

“I am not sick, Ser Jaime.”

She was still smiling at him and Jaime vaguely remembered his mother making a similar expression. “My lady—”

Celia took one of his hands from her shoulder and pressed it against her flat stomach. “I’m with child.”

He stared at her for a long time before his gaze drifted down to her belly. His thumb brushed along the fabric of her dress and he could feel a slight hardness to it that had not been there before. 

“With child…” He continued to stare at her stomach. A child. 

“The maester confirmed it when I went to him today.”

“Did you have suspicions?”

“I’ve only been pregnant once before,” she laughed. “I am told all pregnancies are different.”

Jaime nodded. 

“Are you happy, Ser Jaime?”

He looked up at her and saw the slight glow in her features. A slow smile spread across his lips. He pressed a kiss to her brow. “Yes. Thank you.”

“What do you mean you will not be here?” his wife asked. Her hand went protectively over her belly. “But… surely Cersei would understand why you cannot keep such a promise!”

“She is the queen, my lady. This child could be the heir to the Iron Throne.” His skin felt tight and itchy as he explained to Celia why he would not be present at the birth of their second child. The two births were going to happen so close together. It was nearly impossible for him to be there for both his children. “She is the queen, I must do as she says.”

“You made this promise before you knew I was pregnant.” She took his arm in her hands. “Ser Jaime, please.”

Jaime shook his head. “I cannot stay.”

Tears began to spill down her cheeks as she turned to retreat to her solar. Avari, who had witnessed the whole thing, glared at Jaime with such venom that he wondered if he might keel over on the spot. The Naath girl followed his wife and turned her heated gaze away from him as she went to, no doubt, console his crying wife over the fact that he was choosing his sister over her. 

Jaime awoke to his wife whimpering beside him. She was curled into herself, shivering under their bedding. 

“No…” Her voice came out in a small breath. “Please…”

Jaime sat up and put his hand on her shoulder. “My lady—”

“No!” 

He recoiled as his wife shot from their bed and pressed herself to the corner of their room. She looked at him with wide eyes before seeming to place where she was. Celia slid down onto the floor and curled up again, pulling her knees to her chest, although it was difficult to do so with her much larger belly. 

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. 

Jaime got out of bed slowly, as not to startle her and sat down before his wife. “What did you dream that would cause such a panic, my lady?”

She shook her head and Jaime could see tears glistening in her eyes. “It was only a dream, nothing had truly happened.”

He frowned. “My lady, please.”

“I do not wish for you to be angry with me. I… I almost didn’t have a choice.”

Jaime paused. “I believe you, my lady. You have done nothing to make me angry at you. Please, tell me what you dreamed. Tell me what’s wrong.”

“When… when I served Princess Elia, I… I often had to go fetch things from other parts of the Red Keep. She was so busy tending to… to the children and I was younger and more able to rush about.”

Jaime moved so that he sat beside his wife as she continued her tale. She leaned into him, wrapping her arms around one of his, as though it were an anchor. He put his hand over hers and held them firmly. 

“I… once I was in a part of the castle I had not previously been allowed near. It… it was the royal suite. Princess Elia said the queen had borrowed a book and she needed it back to read to the little princess. The queen was in the library and the king… the king was supposed to be in the throne room.”

Jaime tensed. 

“He… he wasn’t. The king… King Aerys found me in his solar. He asked if I was the girl his son had brought to serve the Dornish whore .” Tears began to slide down her cheeks. “He cupped my breasts and asked how old I was.”

Jaime’s hand tightened over hers. He saw red. He wished he had cut off the Mad King’s hands. 

“Ser Arthur came in. He told the king that he was needed in the catacombs. Something about fire. I… the king left and Ser Arthur told me to never enter those rooms again, even if the princess or I thought the king would not be there. He told me to come find him should I ever have to go near them.” She looked at him with fright. “I swear to you, Ser, I came to you as a maid! I—”

“Shh…” Jaime hushed. “I know. I know.” He held her hand tightly. “Is that what you dreamed?”

She shook her head. “I dreamed that Ser Arthur did not come. I dreamed that the Mad King made you watch with a rope around your neck as he did with Brandon Stark. Arthur and the baby were crying.” Celia let go of his arm and buried her face in her hands. “I’m sorry.”

Jaime did not hesitate. He brought his arms around his wife and pulled her into his lap. One arm was curled under her legs and the other supported her back. He pressed his nose into her hair. “Do not apologize to me.” He paused. “Is this the first time you dreamed such a thing?”

She shook her head. “I dreamed such a thing when I was pregnant with Arthur.”

Jaime held her closer to him, she had been alone then. He pressed a kiss to her temple as tears continued to slide down her cheeks. Carefully, Jaime picked his wife up in his arms and carried her back to their bed. He laid her down and pulled the covers over her. He climbed in on his side of the bed and pulled her body closer to his. “I promise, I will never let anyone hurt you like that again. I promise. Even me.” He buried his face in her red hair. “If you ever feel unsafe with me or I ever do anything to hurt you, tell me and I will stop.”

Celia pulled his arm around her middle, around their child, and nodded. “I trust you, Ser Jaime. You’re a good man.”

Jaime closed his eyes and brought his wife closer to his chest. How he wished that were true. He had already broken her heart by not being there for this coming child’s birth. 

“I will return as soon as Cersei is settled again,” he said from his horse. 

Everyone seemed content with this arrangement, save for his wife and Avari. The Naath girl was glaring at him, Arthur in her arms. His son was reaching for him, but did not seem to truly want to leave Avari’s arms. 

Celia was looking down at the horse’s hooves, her hand covering her protruding belly protectively. 

“I will return,” he repeated. 

She glanced up at him, her eyes red rimmed.

He could not promise this. He bowed his head to her and turned on his horse and made his way to King’s Landing. 

“I hear your little fish is pregnant,” Cersei said once they were alone and he had finished kissing her breathless. 

An emotional he could not name began to coil in his stomach. “She is.”

“Why?”

He glanced at his sister and saw her cold green eyes glaring at him. “Father wanted us to have another child.”

A lie, but it was something he didn’t doubt his father wished for. 

In truth, he had found comfort in his wife’s body, especially once he had begun to take her more gently. He took pleasure in her sighs as she stretched around him and whispered his name as though her voice were the wind blown in from the sea. He felt like a good man, at times, when she curled around him afterwards, a smile melting across her lips. He wondered what it would have felt like had he and Cersei not begun this game when they were children, had he not given himself to his sister so completely by the time he had met the woman he called his wife. 

Cersei sneered. “Do you love her more than I? More than your other half? More than who you came into this world with?”

“Cersei,” he took his sisters hands in her own. “I love you. You know that. I shall never love anyone or anything as I love you.”

She looked mollified, but only slightly. “I suppose we can hope it is a girl then,” she said at last. “Perhaps then, if I have no girls of my own for Arthur, I can at least love the girl as your daughter. Perhaps she could even marry Joffrey.”

“Perhaps,” Jaime answered. 

“Now,” Cersei said, pulling him closer. “I have found that I have grown wanting in these later stages of the pregnancy.” She kissed him slow and deep. “ Take me, Jaime. Show me how much you love me.”

And he did.

Damn all the gods, he did. 

The maesters had attempted to keep him from Cersei when she was giving birth. The king had gone off hunting, having the gall to ask if Jaime wished to join him. No, he would stay there with his sister. Be there when his son was brought into the world. 

He sat by Cersei on her bed as she screamed. She held onto his hand like a viper and squeezed as the maester told her to push. 

It looked painful. He had never seen his sister in so much pain. He longed to soothe it, but he did not wish to endanger themselves. The labor went on for hours and the maester assured them that this often happened with the first child. 

“They’re mapping the way for all the others,” he had said.

Jaime wondered if Celia had gone through similar pain. Had she been alone? Had they not allowed his father or Tyrion to sit beside her and hold their hands.

“Push, your grace,” the maester urged. 

Cersei gave a loud cry and soon another set of lungs began to scream into the world. His wife gasped as all the tension in her body seemed to leave her. 

“You have birthed a prince, your grace,” the maester said proudly. “A golden prince. I shall wash him and then give him to you to feed.”

“Go with him,” Cersei urged. “Keep an eye on Joffrey.”

Jaime did as he was bid and followed the maester as he went to wash the squalling child. The midwives helped tend to Cersei with the afterbirth. 

“You did so well, your grace,” one of them tutted.

“So much better than that Tully girl, Lady Arryn,” the other said. “Poor girl. Lost the babe in the womb. Poor thing didn’t even get to take a breath. Lady Arryn almost bled out.”

Jaime stiffened. Although he looked at Joffrey, his gaze was not focused. He had been aware that his wife’s two sisters were both with child. Catelyn Stark has given birth to a baby girl, as indicated by a letter they had received before he had left for King’s Landing. He had known the other sister was pregnant, but he had not known she had lost it. 

Arthur and the baby were crying. 

Jaime closed his eyes. 

“Ser Jaime?”

He opened his eyes and saw the maester offering for him to hold the settling child. Jaime took the boy into his arms—had Arthur been this small?—and brought their son back to Cersei. 

His sister looked ethereal as she took the babe into her arms. She looked up at Jaime and smiled. “A son,” she said proudly. “A little lion.”

Jaime smiled but found it didn’t feel true. “I need to go, Cersei.”

She looked up at him with wide eyes. “What?”

“I need to go.”

“Why?” Her tone was beleterent. 

“My wife is pregnant, Cersei. She needs me. It isn’t fair to her that I am not there.”

Cersei scowled. “Is your little fish more important than me?”

“Never, Cersei. It’s Father,” he lied. “He wants me back for other things as well.”

Cersei sniffed angrily and turned her head away from him. “Fine then,” she snapped. “Go to your little fish.”

Jaime bent down and kissed his sister on the cheek, mindful of the room full of people. “We still have two more children to go,” Jaime whispered to her. “I promise you, I will not give my wife another child. I swear it.”

Cersei appeared mollified and pressed a kiss to Jaime’s cheek. “I shall hold you to that.”

Jaime bowed as he left. He simply gave instructions for his things to be sent to Casterly Rock as soon as it was convenient. He rode straight from the stables and out of King’s Landing, hoping he was not too late. 

“I’m coming Celia,” he whispered as he rose as though the Stranger were on his heels.

Chapter Text

“I want Jaime,” Celia cried softly. She gripped Avari’s hand as the maester ordered her to push. It felt as though she were being split in two. Had it been this painful with Arthur? It had, Celia only remembered it now. “I want my husband.”

“I’m so sorry, Ce,” Avari whispered as she held Celia through another contraction. “It will be alright.”

Tears began to prick her lashes as she pushed again. 

“I can see the head, my lady,” the maester said. “Just a bit longer.”

Celia was crying then, letting out all her pain and frustration out. Pain that her husband had not remained and frustration over the fact that she was early. She wanted Ser Jaime to be with her. She loved Avari, but wished it were her husband holding her hand and telling her that everything would be alright. 

“Push!”

Celia screamed and pushed as much as she was able. Another cry joined hers and all the tension seemed to leave her body. 

“A little girl, my lady,” the maester said warmly. He held up the squirming child. “It appears she takes after her mother.”

She could see a shock of matted red hair and Celia smiled. The maester took the girl away to clean her. As a few midwives helped with the Afterbirth, Avari began to pat Celia’s brow with a cool cloth. She began to hum an Naathian tune as she did so. 

“You did so well, Ce,” she whispered.

Celia liked when her friend referred to her by her nickname. She never did so in public when Lord Tywin might hear her, but she called her that in private. 

“Ari, did she look well?”

“Healthy as any babe I have seen,” her friend assured. 

“Here you are, my lady.” The maester placed the girl in her arms. 

Celia marveled at the tiny thing. Her daughter squirmed slightly until she found a more acceptable position. “She’s beautiful,” Celia whispered. “My little Sansa.”

“May the gods bless her,” Avari said looking down at the child. “She’ll have everyone wrapped around her little finger within a minute of meeting her.”

Celia smiled, bringing her nose down to nuzzle the top of her daughter’s head. “You and Arthur make this all worth it, sweetling.” She kissed Sansa’s drying curls. “You and Arthur.”

“I believe our little lord wishes to see his new sibling,” Tywin said as he enters the room. He was holding Arthur in his arms. 

“Mama,” her son said, reaching for her and Celia felt her heart swell. 

Avari took Arthur from Lord Tywin’s arms and sat him next to Celia. Her son leaned against her shoulder and peered down at his baby sister. 

“Her name is Sansa,” Celia said, shifting her arms slightly so that her good father might have a better look at his granddaughter. 

The Lannister patriarch smiled down at the baby. She blinked up at her grandfather, her green eyes twinkling slightly. 

“May I hold her?”

“Of course,” Celia replied. 

Avari got swaddling cloth to wrap little Sansa in before handing the baby to Tywin. 

Celia had found that her good father was rather fond of children. He doted on Arthur and she believed Avari was correct in saying Sansa would have everyone wrapped around her little finger soon. 

Tywin looked at her. “I am sorry that my son was not here.”

Celia looked down and put her arm around Arthur, pulling him close to her side. “He made a promise to Cersei, I understand.”

“My son does not need to return to King’s Landing as often as he has been. I will keep him here for a time when he returns. If he wishes to go to King’s Landing, he will have to wait until Sansa here is old enough to travel.”

Celia smiled. “Thank you.”

Tywin nodded. “He needs to begin taking an interest in his heir. And he has two children to think about now. The king can focus on his own children. Jaime should worry about his own.”

Celia took back Sansa into her arms. “Look, Arthur,” she whispered to her son. “Your baby sister.”

Her son touched his sister’s hand and she wrapped her fist around his finger, causing the boy to giggle. 

Yes. He and Sansa made everything worth it. 

“She’s resting,” Celia heard Avari’s voice through the door of her new room. 

“If she were, she would be in our rooms,” she heard her husband’s irritated tone. 

Celia closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “It’s alright, Avari,” she called. “Let him in.”

Although she couldn’t see her friend’s expression, Celia could guess it was not a pleased one. The door opened and her husband came it. He paused when the door closed behind him. His cheeks turned an awkward shade of pink. 

Once Celia thought about it, she didn’t think her husband had ever seen her breasts bare before, much less her nursing a child upon them. However, Celia would not be embarrassed. She was doing something completely natural. 

“Do you need something, Ser Jaime?” she asked innocently. 

He blinked and then coughed, seemingly collecting his thoughts. “Our daughter?”

“Is healthy.” As though she knew her mother’s attention was not solely on her, Sansa scratched at Celia’s chest, her nails grazing against the soft swelling of her breast. “And hungry.”

“I’m sorry,” her husband said quickly. “For not being here in time. I came as soon as Cersei had her son and rode here as quickly as I could.”

Celia watched him for a moment before turning her attention back to her daughter. “You’ve made your priorities known,” Celia replied. “I know I could never understand the bond between twins, the concept is too foreign for me. However, I do know what the bond between a father and their child should be.”

Her husband was quiet for a moment. “Why have you moved rooms?”

“I moved a little while after you left for King’s Landing.” She turned to him then. “I will always be your wife, Ser Jaime. However, you have not afforded me the courtesy most husbands do.” She turned back to her daughter who had finished nursing. Celia adjusted her shift and held her daughter to her chest to rock and burp her. “I know we were not a love match. But I thought perhaps we were friends, that you cared even a little. I don’t begrudge you for missing Arthur, there was a rebellion to finish. But you missed our daughter’s birth. Our first daughter. The first child who could have meant our marriage meant more to you than a way to escape the Night Watch or death.” She looked up to him. “From this moment on, I will no longer share your bed, Ser Jaime. I won’t deny you your marital rights, for they had been better recently, however you must come here to fulfill them, should you wish to take them.”

“My lady—”

“I will honor you in every way and be a dutiful wife to you. I will be a mother to our children, our family . However, I cannot give you my heart when it has yet to be deserved. Not again. That… that you must earn, Ser Jaime. I am tired of being the only one making an effort.” Sansa finally burped. “You should settle back in your own rooms, Ser Jaime. Sansa, that is her name, by the way, needs to settle in for her nap.” 

She carried her daughter to the cradle near by and placed her there, ignoring her husband all together, trying to show how little his disinterest hurt her. Even if it was a lie. 

Dear Ce,

Congratulations on little Sansa. It appears the gods have blessed us both with daughters. My little Arya takes after Ned (he has insisted I call him this). When he first held her, he cried. Although he is a very quiet man, I have found that my husband has such deep wells of emotion, I might never know its true depths. 

I pray that there will come a time where all of us might meet in Riverrun to introduce our children to their cousins. 

I know Robb and Jon would be pleased to meet Arthur at last. I have spoken to them of him and I believe they already know themselves to be friends. 

How have you been otherwise? I know you are settling in well at Casterly Rock. Is it as different from Riverrun as Winterfell is. I must confess I miss swimming. There is a hot spring here, but it is not the same. 

I miss you, Celia. I miss Lysa as well. I miss the days before the rebellion when relative peace reigned. I miss you. 

Ned sends his regards and says he shall pray to the old gods to bless your daughter with good health. He tells me that the Northmen value their daughters greatly. 

I hope to hear from you soon!

Your loving sister,

Cat

While Sansa was down for her nap and Avari was spending time with her parents, Celia spent time with her son. At two, her son was beginning to run. He understood that his mama was very tired because of the baby, however he would forget and run about like a wildling. Even so, Celia adored these moments with her son. Everyone in the keep loved the boy. He was still friendly and waved at everyone he saw. He was even starting to call them by name, even if they were muddled with someone else's occasionally. He called the two gardeners by the wrong name, however they took the confusion with grace, often referring to each other by their own names. Celia has tried to encourage them to correct her son, but the two had just laughed and said it was the most harmless joke they could play on the little lordling. 

Celia knelt down and picked her son up into her arms. She swung him slightly as he collected himself. Arthur giggled as she sprinkled kisses across his face. 

“Mama!” he squealed. 

Celia giggled and set her son back down on the ground. “Shall we play hide-and-seek?” 

Her son clapped his hands. “I wanna play!”

Celia smiled. “Okay, but only in this garden, no wandering off into the keep.”

“May I join?” 

Celia looked up and saw her husband standing awkwardly at the garden entrance. Their son looked up at his father and quickly hid behind Celia’s skirt. Her heart broke slightly at her husband’s pained expression. She knelt down and put her hand on Arthur’s back. “It’s just your papa, sweetling,” she said gently. “Do you remember me talking about your papa? He had to go away for a bit, but now he’s back.”

Arthur peered at his father with curious eyes, although he still looked unsure. 

Celia pressed a kiss to her son’s cheek. “Papa really wants to play with you,” she encouraged. “But I don’t think he knows how to play hide-and-seek.” She glanced at her husband. “How about you show him how to play, and I come find you?”

Slowly her son nodded. Arthur hesitantly walked over to his father. Celia watched as he lifted his arms, requesting to be lifted. Slowly, her husband did so, picking up their son and holding him in his arms.

Arthur cupped his hands around his mouth and gave a loud whisper. “We hide now, Papa.”

Her husband smiled slightly. “Show me where.” He glanced around Celia and mouthed something to her. Thank you. 

Celia awoke to someone murmuring in her room. She opened her eyes slightly and saw her husband standing near her bed. He held Sansa in his arms, rocking the fussing girl in his arms. 

“We need to let your mother rest, sweetling,” he said gently. “She works so very hard taking care of you and your big brother.”

Celia watched as he continued to be oblivious to her wakefulness. Her husband continued to rock their daughter gently, as though her were made for such a thing. 

“I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you came into this world, sweetling. It can be scary, can’t it. Your mother worked really hard.” He bent down and kissed their daughter’s red curls. “Shall we try and take care of your mother, sweetling? We don’t want her to overwork.”

Celia smiled and closed her eyes.

Her anger would be so much easier if her husband were not so easy to love. 

Chapter Text

He felt so out of place in his own home. Although he knew that it would never be said aloud, he felt the judgment of all the servants. They preferred to go to his wife or his father when they had questions or sought approval for matters concerning the keep. They seemed to know how to get Sansa to stop crying. They all seemed to know what to do to get Arthur to laugh. He felt a pang of jealousy that his son felt more at ease around them than he did his own father. 

“He doesn’t know you, Ser Jaime,” his wife said gently when he had brought the situation to her attention. “He has been surrounded by these people since he was born, save for that month in King’s Landing for the wedding.” She put a hand on his arm. 

“He looks at me as though I were the Stranger.”

“You are a stranger. He understands that you are his father, but he doesn’t not know you. I swear, once you spend more time with him, he will be perfectly at ease around you. He isn’t frightened of you, Ser, he is merely cautious. The only person he fears here is the Mountain.”

Jaime froze at the mention of the knight. “Has he been near our son enough to cause fear?” His heart thudded in his chest. His hands still red when he dropped the bodies of the two children onto the throne room floor. Dark curls matted with blood, silver hair stained red. “Near Sansa?”

“No,” she said softly. “I don’t trust him near the children and Arthur is too young to be anywhere near where your father’s knights frequent. But your father took him to view the horses and the Mountain was there. He had so many nightmares.”

Jaime shuddered. Elia pinching his cheek as he tried to stand tall next to Arthur Dayne. Her laughter as the little princess climbed up his leg. Blood stained on the Mountain’s trousers. “Has be been near you?”

She let go of his arm and looked away. “It’s my duty as the lady of the keep to be mindful of all that goes on here.”

Jaime stepped closer, putting his hand in the crook of her arm. “Has he been near you?”

“I take Vylarr with me when I must go there.”

“He’s barely a knight,” Jaime said, hating to think of his wife near the monstrous knight with only the Essosi man to protect her.

“He’s a good man,” she urged. “I trust him with my life, with our children’s lives”

Something twinged in annoyance at her comment. The idea that Celia felt more protected by someone else—

“I will ask my father to send him away,” he offered. 

Celia shook her head. “I can take the discomfort of the man’s presence. It is better that he is here where he may do no harm than roaming about where he could hurt someone else. Besides, I am a Lannister now. He would not hurt me.”

Jaime felt his stomach twist. Was that all that protected her in this place? The Lannister name?

“If you cannot bear it anymore, please tell me and I will do something about it.”

Celia smiled up at him through her lashes. As you wish, Ser Jaime.”

My dearest Jaime,

I was pleased to hear that your little fish gave birth to a daughter. I was only slightly disappointed when I learned that she took after her mother. However, considering she is a Tully and a Whent while you and I are both true Lannisters, I shall not hold her appearance against your daughter. Since she and Joffrey are of the same age, perhaps you might be able to convince your wife that a betrothal would be wise.

Think on it, Jaime. 

Ever yours,

Cersei

He ignored most of the letter when he wrote back to his sister. He barely knew his daughter or Joffrey and couldn’t imagine a betrothal. Besides, they may fall in love someday, and not to each other. A forced marriage would do nothing. Was that not what got Cersei in her own situation? Dearest Cersei,

I believe a betrothal is too soon. Our son and my daughter haven’t even begun their first year of life. Let them grow up as we were not able to. Besides, perhaps they will fall in love with someone else. We shouldn’t—

Jaime paused in his writing to Cersei when he heard the door to his study open and then close. He looked up and saw his son looking around the room. 

“Arthur.” His son looked up at him. “What are you doing?”

“Hide-and-seek, Papa.”

“Arthur!” He heard Avari’s voice ring from the hall. 

“Need to hide now, Papa!”

Jaime motioned for his son to come closer. The boy did hesitantly. Even if he called Jaime his father, he still didn’t seem to trust him and that hurt more than Jaime cared to think about at the moment. “Hide behind my desk. Avari won’t know you’re here.”

Arthur’s lips spread into a grin that reminded Jaime a little of Tyrion when he was younger. His son came behind the desk and sat down with his knees drawn to his chest. Jaime figured hiding in such a good spot might bore his son a little so he slipped down a piece of paper and a pencil for him to draw with. He waited until his son began to draw before turning his attention back to his letter to Cersei.

Something painful gurgled in his chest and he felt it between his son and the letters. Jaime stuffed the two pieces of paper into a drawer and began working on a list of things he had to go over during the course of the week. It wasn’t as grand as being a kingsguard, but there was something peaceful about it. He didn’t have to worry about much. Oh, there were things to worry about, but nothing like what he had serving under Aerys. 

Please, take me with you, my prince. 

No, Jaime, stay with my wife and children. Look after them. 

They were just casualties, Jaime. 

But Father, they were innocent—

Jaime ground his teeth together and looked at his son. No one would ever hurt him or his daughter. No one. He would tear Westeros apart before he would let that happen. 

“Arthur, where are you?” Avari opened his study door and frowned when she saw him. 

Jaime was rather annoyed at his wife’s friend’s obvious dislike for him, but he was well aware that he had done little to change her opinion. “Hello, Lady Avari,” he said calmly. “Did you need something?”

She lifted her chin. “I’m looking for Arthur.”

His son giggled from his spot behind the desk. It was obvious that Avari had heard him. 

“I haven’t seen my son since my wife and I broke our fast in her solar. I would suggest seeing if he is with Tyrion or my father.”

Arthur giggled again. 

Jaime raised an eyebrow at Avari, daring her to reveal that she knew where his son was. 

She sniffed and said, a little more loudly than necessary. “I suppose I shall check with Lord Tyrion then.” She turned and left the study. 

Once the door closed, Arthur’s giggles grew louder. 

“I hid, Papa!”

Jaime smiled down at his son and ruffled his curls. “You did! Good job, Arthur.” 

His son puffed up his chest in pride. He then attempted to see what Jaime had on his desk. “What you doing, Papa?”

“Scheduling things I have to do this week.”

“To help Mama?”

“Yes, to help your mother.”

“Wanna help!”

Jaime wasn’t sure how his son would be able to help, but let Arthur crawl onto his lap. He pulled them both closer to the desk and Jaime gave his son another pencil. The boy couldn’t write yet, however he seemed to have the continuous m down, although that might have been stretching it. Even so, his plans for the week was soon covered in scribbles and little pictures of flowers.

Soon enough, Arthur began to grow tired. His son wrapped his arms around Jaime’s neck and buried his face there. Jaime cupped his son’s bottom with one hand and continued to write with the other. 

Once he was finished, he carried his son back to the nursery and laid him down in his bed. He informed one of the servants of where his son was and requested that Lady Avari and his wife he told. He then went to his father to tell him some of the ideas he had for the keep. 

Jaime had made it a habit to get up early and rock his daughter while his wife was still sleeping. Sometimes he thought Celia was still awake, but he could have been imagining it. He was too focused on his daughter to truly think about it, though. 

Sansa was gurgling in his arms sucking on one of his fingers. She didn’t seem to mind that he wasn’t feeding her, so he knew he wouldn’t have to wake Celia at the moment. His daughter had her fist curled around his thumb and he couldn’t imagine anyone being so tiny. The maester had said that she was born early, but Jaime could not imagine her being much smaller. 

She had Celia’s hair and nose while she had his eyes and chin. When he had her in his arms, she felt like his entire world. 

Sansa yawned, her mouth forming a little o as she wiggled into a more comfortable position. Jaime smiles down at her. She was so innocent. Rhaenys placing a crown of flowers in his hair. Her asking him to marry her when she was big. 

Jaime closed his eyes and pushed away the pain. He pulled his daughter up slightly and bent his head, pressing a kiss to her head. His daughter would live the life the little princess should have. The gods owed him this at least.

At the very least.

He missed having Celia in his bed. It wasn’t even the coupling he missed. He simply missed having her beside him. He missed the constant hum of her breath as she curled in on herself. He missed the way her cold feet pressed against his shins in the middle of the night. He missed the way her hair ticked his nose and lips whenever he woke up before she did. 

He just missed her. 

She was still kind and gentle and everything she had been before, but there was a distance between them. While she didn’t recoil from his touch, she did not seek it out. While she did not keep him away from their children, it felt as though she was a separate parent from him. While she told him she was still his wife, she felt like a stranger to him. 

He missed her. 

He missed the way her nose scrunched up when she smiled at him. He missed the way she used to lean into his touch. He missed the way she had pressed his hand to her belly whenever Sansa kicked.

Gods, he missed her. 

“Ser Jaime!” Celia screamed as fire consumed her. Sansa was crying in her arms. 

“Papa! Save us!” Arthur cried out as he clung to his mother’s skirts. 

“No!” A roar ripped from Jaime’s throat as he tried to launch himself towards them, but some force, some chain held him back. 

“Ser Jaime! Jaime, please!”

“Papa!”

“Celia!” He tried reaching for her. “Arthur, Sansa, hold on! Papa’s coming!”

Celia screams echoed in his head as she pulled the children closer to her, trying to shield them from the green flames. 

“Celia!” He screamed. “Celia!”

“What about me, Jaime?” He turned and saw Cersei standing behind him. She held a scowling Joffrey in her arms. “What about us?”

“Jaime!” 

He turned and again tried to get to his wife and children, but he was being dragged back. 

“What about me ?”

“No!”

“Ser Jaime?” Celia’s calm voice broke him from the force holding him back and he shot up from his bed. 

Jaime tried to catch his breath but found that he could not even breathe. He began to choke and wrapped his hand around his throat. 

“Breathe, Ser Jaime,” Celia whispered beside him. She rubbed circles into his back. “Breathe with me.” She pulled his hand over her chest and she took deep calming breaths, placing her now free hand over his own chest. “Breathe.”

Jaime gasped as air began to flood his lungs. 

“It’s okay,” Celia said gently. “It’s okay. You’re safe. We’re all safe.”

Jaime wrapped his arms around his wife and held her to him. It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t close enough. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders as he buried his face into the crook of her neck. He began to kiss her neck, feeling her pulse beneath his lips. They slid down to the swell of her breast—

Celia cupped his cheek in her hand and forced his mouth away from her skin. She rubbed her thumb along his cheek and Jaime realized he was crying. “Not like this, Ser Jaime. Not like this.” She kissed his brow and pressed her forehead to his. “Just sleep. I’ll be right here.”

She helped settle him back into his bed. She shifted so that she might be under him. He was cradled between her thighs as he rested over her. His head rested against her, pillowed by her breasts. He could smell the faint scent of milk and Sansa there. Her fingers began to run gently through his hair, her nails grazing gently against his scalp.

Celia began to hum, the sound rumbled in her chest against his ear. Jaime closed his eyes and let sleep take him as his wife’s warmth began to seep into his very bones.

Chapter Text

Celia felt her husband’s breathing even out as his hot breath against her breast began to deepen. She felt the rise and fall of his chest against her belly and knew that her husband had finally fallen asleep. Even so, she continued to run her fingers through his hair, her heart aching for the man cradled into her body. 

He was a broken man, she had realized that soon into their marriage. She also knew him to be a good man and good men often found themselves at odds with the world around him. She knew he felt guilt for what happened to Princess Elia and her children. She could see it in his eyes when he held their children. A shadow would cross his face and he would  seemingly hold their children tighter. She saw it in her mentions of the Mountain. She could hear it in the nightmares. 

She knew not what he had dreamed of to cause him to scream. Had she not already been awake, he might have woken the whole household.

Celia looked down at her husband as he slept above her. He looked so young when he slept. She knew her husband was only twenty-two, but sometimes he looked so much older when he was awake and the weight of the world seemed to bear down on his shoulders.

She wished he would share the burden with her. 

She wished he could see the man she saw, the man who, after seeing the horrors humanity could do, still offered a girl he did not know, comfort with the simple act of offering a handkerchief. 

She wished he could see the man she loved. 

They celebrated Arthur’s third birthday. 

Lord Tywin held a small feast, per Celia’s request. Her good father had wanted to have a large feast, but she wished for the party to be a household affair. In a way, it was so that her husband could focus more on their son instead of entertaining guests. 

He had gone back very briefly to King’s Landing. Unlike before, Celia had encouraged him to go as quickly as possible. Cersei has written her brother a letter that Prince Joffrey was ill and she was worried and afraid. Celia could not imagine the pain her good sister was going through and encouraged her husband to be with her in her time of need. She would want Cat or Edmure or even Lysa to be by her side if she either of her own children were gravely ill. 

He had returned a fortnight ago, telling her that the little prince was well and Cersei in higher spirits than when he had come. There had been a strange look in his eye when she had told him she was glad he could be there for his sister in her time of need, but she supposed it may have been due to how tired he was from traveling. 

Now, Ser Jaime carried their son around for a majority of the day, Arthur resting on his hip as they took a turn around the room. Celia watched the two interact and it reminded her of her father when her brother was young. 

“My brother has seemed to finally take to fatherhood,” Tyrion said beside her. 

Celia smiled to her good brother. “I had fears, but he has taken to it like a fish in water in some ways.”

“Have you resumed your marital relationship yet?”

Celia blushed. “Tyrion.”

“What? Can’t I ask?”

“No,” Ser Jaime said as he neared them. “You cannot.” He looked to Celia then. “My lady.”

She smiled at him. Celia stepped to her husband and soon and held her son’s reaching hands and placed a kiss on his nose. “How is my favorite boy doing?” she asked as her son began giggling.

“It appears you are second, Jaime,” Tyrion joked. “Although I must admit, I probably prefer my nephew to you as well. He has yet to pass me in height quite yet.”

“Within the year, Tyrion,” Ser Jaime replied. “Then I’m sure you will go back to preferring me just slightly more.”

Tyrion scoffed and then made his way to the servant offering people wine. 

“I have missed you,” her husband said quietly when his brother had left them. 

“I have been right here, Ser,” she replied, although she knew it was not what he meant. 

His eyes darkened and Celia felt a shiver run up her spine. He leaned forward and held his lips near her ear. “Let me come to your bed tonight.”

Celia closed her eyes. “It has always been open to you, Ser. Always. I apologize if I made you feel unwelcome.”

Her husband leaned away from her and resettled Arthur on his hip. “You have never made me feel unwelcome, I have simply missed you more than I thought possible.”

She smiled. “Can we be friends, Ser Jaime?”

He looked at her carefully, tilting his head only slightly. “I do not think friends ask for what I have.”

“No, but you are my husband.” And I love you. “And I am your wife. Cannot spouses be friends?”

“They can be, although, I fear I am not worthy of your friendship, my lady.”

“It’s not about being worthy, Ser Jaime.” She got on her toes and kissed her husband’s cheek. “My friendship is freely given.”

“Is this alright, my lady?”

Yes,” she breathed as she lifted her head back and against her husband’s shoulder. 

Her back was pressed against his chest, once again they had fallen into bed partially clothed. She wished that there were nothing between them, but she simply believed it to be how her husband preferred things. One of his hands held onto her hip tightly, but not enough to leave bruises. His other hand was over hers, their fingers interlocked. 

He was fully sheathed inside her and she felt so full. She was stretched around him and Celia already felt so very close to a release. It had been so very long. 

Ser Jaime began to move, drawing his hips back and trusting forward, until he set a slow and steady pace. Gods, she had missed this, missed her husband coming apart above her as he let himself go for only a few moments, the Ser Jaime only she knew. Her heart swelled as she felt his lips against the back of her neck, against her shoulder. He murmured softly against her skin, his breath hot against it. Licking at her like fire. 

Celia lifted the interwoven hands and brought them to her chest. She moved her hand to cup his own and brought it to her breast and squeezed, letting him feel the weight of it. Letting him feel how they had changed, how heavy they were now as she still suckled their daughter. 

Ser Jaime groaned behind her. His hand began to squeeze her breast in earnest and she knew he could feel her leaking between his fingers. His thrusts became sharper. 

“Yes,” his voice was rough and Celia quivered beneath him. “Yes!” His hips began to snap against her and he gripped her hip a little harder, but not enough to bruise, pulling her hard against him. 

Celia cried out and dropped her hand that covered his and reached out for the headboard of their bed, trying to find purchase as his thrusts began to slap it against the wall. 

“Perfect,” Jaime grunted. “So perfect—”

She screamed as he found that sensitive part inside her and the coil that had tightened in her belly released as he found it again and again and again. 

“That’s it,” he encouraged. “That’s it.”

Celia let her head fall into her pillow as he continued his thrusts until he sheathed himself far inside her. Then she felt him spill inside her and she cried out once more. He began to rut into her through his release, squeezing her breast slightly as he did so. 

He stilled inside her and buried his face into the curve of her neck, his breath fanning out against her. His lips slid against her skin and he began to suck gently against her pulse point.

Celia lifted her head back and rested it against his shoulder. She let go of the headboard and reached behind her and ran her fingers through his hair.

They stayed like that until she felt him go soft within her. He pulled himself out of her and helped ease her to her side. He reached out for a damp cloth and began to clean between her legs before cleaning himself. When he was finished, he laid on his back, breathing deeply, his eyes closed. 

Celia curled into him, resting her head against his chest. “I missed you,” she whispered, rubbing her hand across her stomach. 

“I’m right here, my lady,” he said, wrapping his arm around her. “Right here.”

The news of the queen’s second pregnancy brought joy to the entire household. Jaime was more pensive, as he had been the last time. Celia supposed it would be the same to any brother who had a pregnant sister. She was certain she would feel the same when Edmure got married and had a babe of his own. The thought brought a different emotion than when Cat had wrote to her of her own pregnancy with Arya. 

“We should go to King’s Landing,” she said to her good father. “I was unable to travel the last time due to my pregnancy with Sansa, but we should go be with Cersei. Besides, she has yet to meet Sansa and I’m certain Arthur would enjoy getting to know his Aunt Cersei. It would be a way for both to get to know their cousin Joffrey.”

Tywin smiled. “A wonderful idea, my dear. I have business I must attend to in the capital anyway. We shall make a trip of it.”

Ser Jaime shifted nervously beside her. Celia put her hand over his. “Sansa is old enough to travel now and perhaps she might have her first nameday while we are there. We would also be with the little prince for his first as well.”

Her husband nodded, but said nothing. The strange look returning to his eyes. 

Celia held her daughter as Ser Jaime helped her from the carriage. He helped Arthur down as well. Their son quickly grabbed his mother’s free hand as they approached the royal party. 

The king had grown stouter since Celia had last saw him. He was still handsome, but not as he had been four years ago. “Kinglsayer!” Robert Baratheon shouted. Celia stiffened at the title as the king embraced her husband. “It’s good to see you, perhaps you can whip some of the newer knights into shape while you’re here.”

Her husband’s lips formed a firm line. “I will endeavor to try.”

The king turned his attention to her son. “And you must be little Arthur,” he said, his voice a little softer than it had been when addressing Ser Jaime. The king knelt down to get a better look at the boy. Arthur peered at him from around his mother’s hand. “Last I saw you, you could fit in the palm of my hands.”

“Hello, your grace,” Arthur said, politely, just as they had practiced in the carriage. 

“Call me Uncle Robert, boy,” he said kindly. “I’ve yet to have a nephew, so that already makes you my favorite.”

Celia smiled at the grin her son gave the king. Robert stood and smiled at her before turning his gaze to Sansa. 

“And I suppose she shall be my niece until I have to start a ranking,” he said with a glint in his blue eyes. 

“This is Sansa, your grace.”

“Call me Robert, my lady, I shall be hurt that Ned can call you such and I can’t.”

“I’ve known Eddard since I was a child, your grace.”

“Ah yes,” the king chuckled. “I still remember him getting letters from you in the Vale asking all that you could about Brandon to make sure he was right for your Cat as you put it.”

Celia blushed. “Well, I had to make sure he was worthy of her and I felt like the man himself might put on airs.”

The king laughed. “I believe we shall be good friends, my lady.”

Celia smiled and turned to the queen as the king began to greet his good father. “Your grace, it is so good to see you.” She glanced at Cersei’s large belly. “I am sure you will be ready for the little prince or princess to make their appearance soon.”

The queen sighed. “Yes, although this child appears more calm than Joff was.”

Celia looked down at the little prince in Cersei’s arms. “Oh, he is adorable! He reminds me of Arthur at that age. It’s hard to believe he is three now.” She looked back to Cersei. “You blink and suddenly they’re ready to pick up wooden swords and running about a keep.” She turned to her good father and the king. “Shall we go inside so my good sister may sit down, I am sure her ankles will thank us.”

Cersei’s lips spread into a slow smile. “That they would.”

“Come along then,” the king motioned. “I’ll leave you to rest before the midday meal. I don’t doubt you’re all tired and the little lady would no doubt like to have a bed to settle herself into.”

With that, they followed the king into the Red Keep.

Chapter Text

“Your wife seems happy,” Cersei said when he entered her chambers. 

Celia had sent him off to spend time with his sister as she settled the children into their rooms. It was the first time they had traveled with both and the first time Arthur could remember ever leaving Casterly Rock. Arthur has waved goodbye and told his Aunt Cersei the same. His sister had given the boy a tight smile in return. 

“She is always happy,” Jaime answered carefully as he looked around his sister’s rooms. He hated thinking of his wife when he was with Cersei. It felt wrong. To whom, he did not know.

“Have you been sleeping with her?”

Jaime did not look at her. “Rarely,” he admitted. “When I miss you.” When I miss her. “I don’t finish inside her though.” A lie, but he would not share that with Cersei. “Sometimes I do so to appease her.”

Cersei took his hand and he turned to look at her. She placed it over her large belly, far larger than she had been last time. “As long as you remember your true children and the promise you made me.”

He thought of Arthur and Sansa. “I still remember.” He rubbed his thumb along the fabric. “How are you? Is this pregnancy any easier?”

“I’m well,” Cersei sighed before heading to her chair to sit. “As well as any woman can be when she is so late in her pregnancy. I sometimes wish confinement was still in fashion, but then I would not see you.”

Jaime sat next to her. “I’m sorry I can’t be by your side at all times. I’m sorry that I have to leave you here alone.” He thought of the split lip he had seen her sport the last time he had visited. “I’m sorry that I cannot stay and protect you.”

“As long as I know I have all of your heart, I can remain satisfied,” she said, pressing a kiss to the corner of his lips. 

“I have always loved you, Cersei.” Jaime took her hand in his. 

It was true. She was the one constant in his life, the one thing that had remained with him since birth. The one who knew him truly. The one who saw who and what he was. 

“Do you love your little fish?” she asked, squeezing his hand tightly. 

Celia moaning underneath him as made certain she found pleasure first. Celia scolding Jaime and Arthur both for tracking mud into their suites after they played in the gardens. Celia’s nose scrunching up as she laughed at his disastrous and messy attempt at bathing Sansa. Celia resting her head against his chest as she told him he was a good man. 

“No,” he replied. “Only you.”

His heart twisted at the words. 

Celia woke Jaime up that night with a painful sob escaping her throat. He scooted over and pulled his wife into his arms. She clung to his shirt and buried her face into his chest and he felt the hot tears seeping through the fabric. 

“It’s okay,” he whispered, stroking her hair. “It’s okay.” Jaime rubbed her back as well in slow, smoothing circles. “Did you dream of Aerys again?”

She shook her head. “The children…”

Jaime frowned. “Arthur and Sansa are fine.”

“No,” she shook her head again in frustration. “Rhaenys and Aegon.” Her voice broke. “I keep seeing them. Their broken bodies.” She choked back another sob as she pressed her face harder into his chest. 

“My lady.”

“I should have gotten them out,” she moaned. “When Father had me smuggled from King’s Landing, I should have insisted we go back for them.” She sounded so small. “I’m so selfish.”

Jamie cupped his wife’s face in his hands. “My lady, you are the kindest person I know, save perhaps Arthur.” Her lips spread into a tearful smile. “You are the least selfish person I have ever had the honor of knowing.” He pressed his forehead to hers. “You can’t blame yourself for what happened.” Jaime closed his eyes. “Prince Rhaegar charged me with looking after Princess Elia and their children. Am I to blame for their deaths too if you claim you are?”

He was. It was his fault. He should have done more. He should have done more. 

“You are not at fault, Ser Jaime.” His wife’s voice was rough with emotion. “It was not your fault.”

“And yet you blame yourself,” he replied. He rubbed his thumb across her cheek and wiped away the tears. “My lady, you are not to blame.”

“I could have saved them.”

“Many could have,” Jaime replied. “But all were afraid of the Mad King.”

“Not you,” she said softly. 

She looked at him as though he were some hero. Her faith in him frightened Jaime to his core. 

“I was terrified,” he said honestly. “Terrified of what he would do to my father. To the people of King’s Landing. I was so very afraid.”

“But, in the end, you killed him.”

“Yes, and I was punished for it.”

She looked away from him and his stomach dropped when he realized what that sounded like. 

“You are not a punishment, my lady,” he said quickly. “Not at all. It is a punishment to be married to me, in truth. For who would love a kingslayer?”

“And what a king he was,” she told him. “Jaime, you saved King’s Landing. You killed a monster , a dragon in a king’s cloak, a story people tell their children to frighten them.” She held his face in her hands. “You’re a good man, Jaime Lannister. Maybe not the best knight or kingsguard, but a good man. A good father. A good husband.”

 He wanted to bury himself inside her. Let himself be the man she saw him as for only a moment. He knew it would be utter bliss if he were able. “I’m not a good husband.”

She smiled up at him sadly. “You are,” she said. “You don’t force yourself on me. You don’t frighten me. You love our children and you care for me. Many have so much worse.”

“Sometimes I wonder why the gods brought me to you,” he whispered. “How I could possibly deserve you.” Why you deserve to be with a man who cannot give you his whole heart

“No one deserves anyone, Jaime,” she said. “I don’t deserve you.”

“Don’t say that,” he said quickly. “I’m not the man you think I am.”

“That’s not the point. Who I think you are, is a man you can be. Who you think I am, is the woman I want to be. It’s not about deserving anyone, Jaime. It’s about deserving ourselves and being able to live with it.”

“Celia…”

She smiled up at him. “I forgot my nightmare for a moment, if that was your intention.”

Jaime huffed a laugh. 

“Could… could we bring the children to bed?” she asked. “Could they sleep with us for the rest of the night?”

“Of course.”

Jaime and Celia went to the nursery. He picked their son up from his bed and she took Sansa from her crib. They went back to their rooms, holding hands. When they returned to bed, Jaime and his wife settled the children between them. They were small enough that Jaime could hold three of them loosely under his arm. 

“Goodnight, Ser Jaime,” she said softly. 

“Jaime,” he replied. “Just Jaime. Goodnight, Celia.”

She smiled at him. “Goodnight.”

They were able to quickly settle the children into a routine. More often than not, Celia carried Sansa wherever they went, but Arthur needed things to actually do. Jaime spent a majority of his time entertaining his son when he wasn’t with Cersei. Robert seemed to find some enjoyment in looking after the boy too. 

“I’ve never really been around children, not since the rebellion,” Robert admitted one day when Jaime rocked Arthur to sleep after he had scraped his knee playing. “I… I have a daughter named Mya.”

Jaime froze in his rocking. He looked up at the king and he could tell the man was uncomfortable. The knowledge that Robert had a bastard daughter wasn’t really news, but Jaime had always thought it might be rumors.

“Her mother and I… I was a green boy, in truth, and she was kind and I thought myself in love with her. Then we had Mya and things just changed. Jon never approved.” He looked at Arthur sadly. “I would travel down almost every day to see her. She was my child, my first.” Robert sighed and ran his fingers through his hair and sat down. “When I became king, I wanted to bring her here. Her mother had died of a chill and I was her father. Jon said I was to marry your sister and what woman would want me if I brought a bastard girl to our home. It’s why Lyanna didn’t like our engagement. So, I had to let her go.”

Jaime imagined what he would do if Cersei asked him to let Arthur and Sansa go. He would never be able to do it. Even when his son was nervous around him, Jaime could never imagine letting his son go.

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Jon doesn’t like me talking about her and you’re a father, so you might understand.”

Jaime’s heart twisted slightly. He sat down in the chair next to Robert’s. 

“I asked your sister if I could bring her here. She’s a sweet girl, from what I’m told. She’d do well here, I think. Gods, I don’t think she even knows who I am.” Robert huffed out a pained laugh.

“What did Cersei say?”

“She said that Mya would not be safe here.”

Jaime’s blood went cold. He held Arthur just a little more tightly. 

“And what did you decide to do?”

“To let her stay in the Vale, if that is the safest option.”

Jaime thought for a moment. “Let her foster with us.”

Robert’s gaze turned sharply to him. “What?”

“Let Celia and I foster her. Celia can take her on like she did with Lady Avari and raise her up as a companion to Sansa. I know she’s older than my daughter, but perhaps it might do well for both of them. Then she’d be under my protection.” And perhaps safe from Cersei’s threats. Gods, she threatened a child. What would she do to Celia if she knew he— “I’ll have to speak to my wife, of course, but I think she would find sense in it.”

The king eyes him warily. “And what would you want in exchange?”

“Never raise your hand towards my sister again.” Robert’s face paled. “And stop drinking and whoring.” Arthur nuzzled his face into Jaime’s neck. “I can’t foster all your baseborn children.”

It’s the least he could do, if Cersei never gave him any truborn ones. 

Robert swallowed. “I will try.”

“Of course we’ll take her in,” Celia said as they went to bed that night. “The girl deserves to be with family.”

“You would be willing to care for a bastard?” Jaime asked, shocked.

“A child should never be punished for their parents actions. A bastard didn’t ask to be born, just as none of us did.”

Jaime admired his wife’s viewpoint, then his thoughts turned to his own bastards. To Joffrey and his unborn child. 

“The girl deserves to be around family and the king, by law, is family.”

Jaime nodded. He wondered if she would think the same of Joffrey if she knew the truth. Knew that he had been unfaithful to her. That he had left her to have Sansa on her own while he was present for the birth of his second son, when he had missed his first. 

“Tell the king we will foster her at Casterly Rock. Send for her once we prepare to leave so she might arrive after we return home.”

Jaime nodded and laid down in their bed, a chaos of thoughts echoing in his head.

Chapter Text

“How are you, Lysa?” Celia asked. “It has been forever since you’ve written.”

“I’ve been well,” her older sister said stiffly. “And you?”

“Well,” Celia agreed. “Sansa and Arthur were able to come with Ser Jaime and I to King’s Landing. Would you like to see them?”

“No, thank you.”

Celia looked to her tea. She had always had a hard time spending time with Lysa. She had a much easier time relating to Cat. However, Lysa was her sister and family always comes first. 

“How is Lord Arryn? The Vale? I heard it’s quite beautiful.”

“Much prettier than the rock you have come to call home or the stones of ice that Cat has found herself in.”

Celia let herself continue to smile. “And Lord Arryn?”

“As old as father.”

Celia truly felt sorry for sister when it came to marriages. She had met Lord Arryn once on her wedding day and he had seemed kind, but not a man any girl her age would throw themselves at. She couldn’t understand why her father had arranged such a match or why Lord Arryn has even agreed to it. 

“I saw that Petyr was here.”

Lysa’s gaze shifted sharply to Celia. “What about Petyr?”

“Nothing, I just realized he was here. He’s the master of coin, is he not?”

Lysa sniffed. “He is.”

“Perhaps we should invite him to join us for tea at one point,” she offered. “He used to take part in our tea parties when we were girls. Gods, it’s been so long. All we would need is Cat and it would be like old times.”

Lysa sighed. “I suppose.”

Celia took a sip of her tea. “I’ve missed you, Lysa. We should write more often.”

“I have more important things to do than write a lord’s wife.”

“More important than you sister?”

“Of course.”

Celia nodded. “What do you think of the queen’s pregnancy?” she asked, changing the subject. “Do you think it a boy or a girl?”

“Would you not know better since you’re her good sister now?”

Celia smiled awkwardly. “I hope it’s a girl so Sansa might have a female cousin close in age on her father’s side. Cat wrote to tell me that her little Arya is positively wild.”

“Whatever you think.”

Celia nodded and continued to sip her tea. 

Her husband had begun to write little notes to her on the days he was too busy with the king or Arthur or Cersei. He would leave them on his pillow if he woke up before her or place them in her hand before he headed out if she woke up with him. 

They were usually just silly little things, but Celia treasured each and every one. 

Celia,

I must confess that you do, in fact, snore. But pay no mind. I find I cannot sleep without it. 

Your well rested husband,

Jaime

Celia,

I have found a curious mark in Rhaella’s old garden that bears your initials. Did you carve them into the fountain there?

Your curious husband,

Jaime

Celia,

I have found that I miss the lemon cakes you would have our cook make. I had forgotten that the cook in the Red Keep can have rather boring food selections. 

Your hungry husband,

Jaime

Dearest Celia,

Your feet are cold and I suggest you wear socks to bed. 

Your (not a foot warmer) husband,

Jaime

Celia,

I beg that you save me from the upcoming hunt. I have no love of the sport but I feel as though I cannot deny the king his past time. Could you not feign some illness that we might simply spend the day in bed together?

Your desperate husband,

Jaime

She knew they were just silly little things, but Celia treasured them. She tied them together with one of the ribbons he had bought for her when he was down in the market in Lannisport. She often wrote equally silly things to him if she knew she would be going to bed before him or knew she would be tending to the children whenever he got back. 

Jaime,

I must also confess, Ser, that you hum in your sleep. It is the strangest thing, I assure you. The first time I learned of this habit, I shall also confess I pinched your nose to see if it would stop. However, you woke instead, and so I pretended to be asleep. 

Your apologetic wife,

Celia

Jaime,

It was me who carved my initials on the fountain. I was dared to do so by the queen herself because she believed it would be funny to whoever found it later. Although I am certain she meant centuries from that point in time. 

Your guilty wife,

Celia

Jaime,

I have given the cook of the Red Keep your favorite lemon cake recipe and have asked that he make a plate for you for our rooms.

Your doting wife,

Celia

My dearest Jaime,

No. 

Your stubborn wife,

Celia

Jaime,

Although spending the day with you in bed sounds delightful, I find that I cannot help you in the area of getting out of the hunt. I have already accepted an invitation from your sister for tea that day and I would rather not miss it. I fear you must somehow enjoy the hunt regardless. 

Your unhelpful wife,

Celia

Although her husband was still going out on the hunt, he had been able to spend a few hours in the rather early morning bringing Celia to pleasure. They had never done their marital rights in the morning, but Celia found she enjoyed the slowness of it. The lazy drag of his hips behind her, the friction of the fabric between them, as his fingers fiddled between her legs.

She moaned softly.

They were both on their sides and her husband had never done this before. There was something so calm, so peaceful about it.

“Celia,” he grunted. “Ce—” Her name choked on his lips as he felt her release against his fingers. He rutted behind her more fervently until he shuddered and she felt a damp stickiness clinging to his pants and her shift. 

Jaime wrapped his arms around her and pulled her closer to his chest. Celia sighed, snuggling back into him. 

“You still have to go on the hunt,” she whispered. 

“Damn.”

She laughed. 

“Your grace,” Celia curtsied. 

Cersei smiles slowly. “Come in, little fish,” the queen said. “Please sit. It has been so long since it was just the two of us.”

Celia smiled and sat in the chair her good sister offered. “It truly has,” she agreed. “I do wish you could come visit Casterly Rock, although I know it won’t be for a while yet until the babe comes and is able to travel.”

Cersei smirked and rubbed her belly. “Yes.”

“Do you wish for a girl or another boy?”

“I suppose a girl would be nice,” the queen replied. 

“It is nice to have one of each.”

“And do you want only one of each?” her good sister asked. 

Celia blushed. “I… well, I would feel happy with whatever the gods bless me with.”

Cersei seemed satisfied with that answer. “And how is our little dove? Sansa takes after you, but how is she?”

Celia smiled. In truth, she could speak of her children all day if she were allowed to. “She is a sweet girl. I think she has all Casterly Rock charmed now.”

The queen smiled. “I had a thought I would like to run by you,” she said. “If I may.”

“Of course.”

“Well, I have a son, you have a daughter. They are both close in age. Perhaps we might plan a betrothal.”

If the queen did not look so serious, Celia might have laughed. “But they are barely a year old.”

“Yes, but it would be good to have their future marriage in their minds as they grow up. It would make it easier for them to transition into such a role.”

“I… I don’t know. I had hopes that my daughter might be able to fall in love herself without any betrothal to complicate things.”

Cersei’s smile froze on her lips. “But your daughter would be queen, what parent doesn’t want that?”

“I have very few fond memories of this place, your grace,” Celia admitted. “Very few. This place is full of ghosts and I fear it always will be for me. I would never wish my daughter into a position that might cause her unrest.” She paused. “Not that Joffrey will cause her such unrest, but I would not force a betrothal upon them. Let them decide for themselves if that is what they wish do have.”

“Such a backwards way of thinking,” Cersei commented. 

Celia blushed. “Family comes first to me, your grace. Then duty. If, when Sansa comes of age, she wishes to be married to Joffrey, I won’t stand in the way of her happiness. However, I will not force her into a decision before she is even able to make a conscious choice for herself. 

“You’ll find, sweet sister, that I always get what I want in the end.” Cersei smirked, rubbing her belly again. “Always.”

Dearest Ce,

I am happy that your marriage to Ser Jaime has become better. From all that you have written about him, I can tell you believe him to be a good man. Ever since we were children, you have always had a good judge in character. From Brandon to Ned, you have always discovered a goodness that was sometimes hard to find. I am trying to convince Ned of this fact so, whenever we find the opportunity to see each other again, he will not be terribly rude when he meets your husband again. 

I love my husband, but sometimes I find him honorable to almost a fault. 

Sometimes justice is not so black and white. 

Anyhow, I feel it will be a year or so before we can meet in the Riverlands since our daughters are both so young. However, I cannot wait until I introduce you to my wild little Arya, who looks so much like her Aunt Lyanna that Ned finds it almost uncanny, and my Robb and Jon. 

Robb is every inch a little lordling. He reminds me of Brandon, in truth, in all the good ways that we knew of him. Jon, however, is so painfully quiet like his father. He is a gentle soul, but I wish he would be more expressive. 

How I miss you, my little sister. 

Give Lysa my love, for I am unsure if she even reads my letters, and a kiss to both your children from me. 

Your loving sister,

Cat

“Petyr!” Celia hugged the man without much thought. She pulled away and looked up at him. “It’s been too long.”

The master of coin blinked at her. Then, he seemed to recognize her. His features melted into a smile. “Celia. It truly has been. You’ve grown.”

She laughed. “It’s been almost ten years since we saw each other last. How are you?”

“As well as any man can be, I suppose. And you?”

“Well. I have two children and a kind husband.”

“Ah, one of the lucky ones then.” 

Celia smiled. She had missed Petyr. The man had served as an older brother to her while her father had fostered him. He has indulged most of her playing because Cat had as well, but even so. 

“If I had known you were in King’s Landing I would have written to you.”

“Then we shall rectify it when you return to Casterly Rock.”

Celia beamed up at him. “You should join Lysa and I for tea one of these days. If we had Cat here it would be like old times.”

“Yes it would,” he agreed. “And how is Cat?”

“Happy. She has three children now, you know. Two boys and a girl.”

“I had heard.” His expression was only a little still. “How does she care up north beyond just her children?”

“She seems to be happy,” Celia replied. “Ned is a good man and he makes my sister happy. I think she is happier than she would have been with Brandon, although I believe she would have been happy with him as well.”

“And how are you?” Petyr asked. “You married so quickly and to the Kingslayer as well.”

“Please don’t call him that,” Celia urged. “He’s much more than that.”

“He is good to you then?”

“He is kind and cares for my happiness as well as our children’s.”

Petyr brushes some stray hairs from her face and tucked them behind her ear as he used to when they were children. “If you ever need anything, Little Ce, know you can always depend on me.”

She blinked up at him in confusion. “I don’t think I ever shall, but I will keep that in mind, Petyr. Now, I must be going. I fear Sansa is to wake from her nap soon and we do so desperately need to get ready for the feast the king has prepared for her birthday.”

Celia curtsied and made her way down the hall to the nursery.

Chapter Text

“Why don’t you give him his wooden sword to practice with?” Robert asked as Jaime played with Arthur.

“Because he’s too young to be given the sword for too long. Besides, he needs to learn to be careful, especially around Sansa.”

“Ah.”

The king was watching them carefully as though he were mentally taking note of everything Jaime did with his son. It was slightly unnerving, being watched in such a way. He was aware that the king was not judging him, but merely curious. He couldn’t understand why though. 

“Is there a particular reason as to why you are only watching , your grace?”

“I told you, I haven’t interacted with children in a long time and Joffrey cries whenever I hold him. Maybe… maybe children know what I’ve done and they don’t… care for me anymore.”

Jaime paused. He wondered if Joffrey somehow knew the king was not his father or if the boy could sense Cersei’s dislike of her husband. 

“You killed a prince in battle,” Jaime said slowly. “I ran a sword through a king’s back. If children were frightened of what you did, then they’d be terrified of me.”

“That’s not what I—”

“Arthur,” Jaime turned to his son. “Do you want to be really tall?”

His son’s eyes grew wide. “Yes, Papa! Yes!”

“Okay.” Jaime smiled. “I’m sure if you ask your Uncle Robert very nicely, he’ll pick you up so you can be tall.”

Arthur turned his gaze sharply to Robert and toddled over to the king. He held up his arms, grasping towards the man, wanting. 

“Arthur,” Jaime warned. “What do we say?”

“Please, Uncle! Wanna go high!”

Jaime chuckled. “Close enough.”

Jaime watched as the king looked down at the boy with a mix of confusion and wonder. His heart twisted at the knowledge that he was denying the king any trueborn children. Perhaps, once he gives Cersei the three children she wanted, she would think of giving the king just once child of his own.

Robert slowly bent down and picked up Arthur carefully as though he were made of glass. Jaime’s son giggled as he began to rise higher than Jaime could lift him. Jaime’s own smile grew as he watched the king’s obvious joy at having a child that did not seem frustrated by his presence. 

Jaime watched his son and Robert began to play. While he occasionally had to warn Robert from doing anything too rough, the king seemed to be doing well with Arthur and Jaime’s son appeared to enjoy the playing as well. 

Jaime smiled as he began to take part in the games the king had created for his little nephew. 

Sansa’s first nameday celebration was held in the Red Keep. It was significantly smaller than Joffrey’s, but Celia did not seem to mind, neither did Sansa if Jaime were to be honest. The feast held family and many of the lords, but that was it. There was no large fanfair save the many coos and laughs that Sansa appeared to bring to everyone she gave her attention to. 

Celia and Jaime traded off holding her or Arthur. Although there was dancing and Jaime wished to dance with his wife, he feared doing so in Cersei’s presence. He told himself it was because he did not wish to upset his pregnant sister, but even that excuse felt weak in his mind.

Instead, he watched as Vylarr nervously asked Avari for a dance. His wife’s friend was blushing deeply as she agreed. 

“They make a cute couple,” his wife said from beside him. “Do they not?”

“I suppose,” he replied. “How did it even happen?”

“They bonded over not being directly from Westeros, speaking I’m Valerian. Arthur enjoys babbling in it with them as well.”

Jaime nodded. 

“Jaime?”

“Hm?”

He looked to his wife and smiled at her. She looked beautiful as she was, holding their son, a slight glow about her. 

“Perhaps you could dance with Sansa?” she suggested. “I know she’s young, but I believe it will be sweet.”

“As my wife commands,” he said jokingly, pressing a light kiss to her cheek. 

Her cheeks turned a rosey pink when he did so, letting his lips long near her skin for only a moment longer. 

Jaime took his daughter out to the dance floor. Her head rested against his shoulder and he could feel her nose rub against his skin. He rocked her gently with the sway of the music. The other lords and ladies cooed at him as they saw him dancing with his daughter. 

Jaime pressed a kiss to the top of her red curls, humming softly to his daughter as he danced. 

Jaime took his wife to their bed and began to languidly bring her to pleasure, taking it slow and steady as he felt Celia fall apart against his hand. He liked the slowness if it all, the painstaking detail he took in memorizing her body. 

The small dip of her waist. The dimple across her hip. The jut of her bone. He knew every inch of her. 

“Have you ever heard of a lord’s kiss, my lady?” he whispered harshly into her ear. He was so hard it was almost painful. Celia shook her head, resting it back against his shoulder. “Do you want me to give it to you? Hm?”

“Jaime…”

“If you want me to stop, I will,” he said. “Please. Let me do this for you. Will you let me?”

Gods, he did not know what had come over him. He had not even done this with Cersei before. 

Yes .”

“Lie on your back,” he said gently. 

Celia did as she was told and Jaime made his way down her body, pressing kisses along her stomach and hips. When he pressed his lips to where he wished them to be, his wife gasped, her hips bucking against his mouth. 

Gods, she tasted sweet. 

He continued to drink from her all the way through her release, her cries of pleasure ringing in his head as he turned her over into her belly and took her again grunting her name as he chased his own release. 

A week later, Celia whimpered next to him and Jaime woke up to her snuggling against his chest, panting. Jaime blinked himself awake and looked at his wife carefully. She was pale and a thin sheen of sweat covered her skin. Jaime held the back of his hand to her brow and found her burning.

Jaime sat up quickly. “Celia?”  He looked her over and found she was warm everywhere. Jaime swore to himself as he rushed out of bed. He opened the door and found one of the keep’s soldiers standing. The man looked shocked to see Jaime up. “Fetch a maester,” Jaime shouted. “My wife is ill!”

The soldier’s eyes grew wide and the man rushed down the hall as Jaime returned to Celia’s side. 

When Jaime returned to their bed he found that Celia had scooted over onto his side of the bed. She was still whimpering, curling herself into a ball. Jaime sat down next to her. He took a washcloth and began to dab at her skin, hoping that the coolness would ease some of her pain. He moved her hair away from her body, hoping that it would help cool her when the maester finally entered their rooms. 

Pycelle rushed to Celia and politely asked Jaime to remove himself. 

Although he loathed to, Jaime stepped back and watched as the maester began to check his wife’s pulse and temperature. She looked so pale and helpless and Jaime found his heart pounding in his chest at the thought of how much pain she might be in. 

Pycelle looked to Jaime. “She is running a high fever.” It took everything in Jaime to not snap at the maester about already knowing that. “Because it is so sudden we can only wait until she sleeps through it and hope that the fever breaks soon.” Jaime nodded. “Shall I have one of my assistance watch over her, Ser?”

Jaime’s gaze snapped to the maester. “And why can’t you?”

“The queen is going to give birth any day now. I need to be ready and I can’t be near too much sickness before then.”

Jaime growled at that. “I’ll look over her,” he snapped. “Give me whatever medicine you think may help her and send one of your assistants for aid should I need guidance.”

Pycell nodded. “Of course, Ser.”

Jaime returned to his wife’s side dabbing at her brow. 

“Jaime…” her voice was so weak. 

“Shhh…” he pressed a kiss to her brow. She was so hot. “It’s going to be okay.”

“The children…”

“Avari can look after them. Rest.”

She looked up to him, her gaze wavering. “Jaime…”

“Shhh… Rest.”

Jaime spent all his time next to his wife. Because he did not know what she was ill with, he was afraid of visiting their children although he had Vylarr tell him how the two were doing. Jaime missed his children greatly, but he did not wish for them to get sick as well. 

More often than not, he held his wife in his arms, his chest bare as the maester said it might help. He kissed along the bridge of her nose telling Celia about his childhood, his mother, his time in the kingsguard. 

Sometimes she would become restless and Jaime would carry her in his arms around their room. She felt like she belonged in his arms. The only people who had ever felt more right there had been their own children. But Celia… she felt right. 

The king would visit on occasion. He told her how restless Cersei was becoming without his usual visits. He told Jaime that he had been able to pick up Joffrey without the babe crying almost immediately. 

His father would visit, asking after Celia’s health and giving him some documents that couldn’t wait. It was sometimes surprising how invested Tywin seemed to be in Celia. 

“She sees the goodness in people,” Tywin answered when Jaime asked him. “I… your mother was the last person to see any goodness in me. Gods know I never showed it to any of you.” He looked sad as he watched his good daughter whimper again. “She’s a good woman, Jaime, more so than I think this family deserves. However, perhaps she is just what this family needed.”

Celia’s sister did not visit, sending word that she did not have the time to do so, saying she might be pregnant and did not wish to trouble the baby if she were. Jaime only half believed her. 

One of the maester’s assistants came to the room. “The queen is going into labor,” he said. “Will you be joining everyone in waiting?”

Jaime looked to his wife and thought of Cersei, his unborn child. The child that would never know him as a father. The child Robert seemed excited for. The child Robert had practiced holding with Sansa since she was smaller than Joffrey and much calmer. The child Jaime would never truly get to know. Then he thought of his wife. 

You’re a good man, Ser Jaime. 

“I’ll stay with my wife and pray to the Mother that my sister delivers safety. Send her my regards.”

The assistant bowed and left the room. 

Jaime returned his attention to his wife.

Chapter Text

Celia woke before the sun had even peaked over the buildings of King’s Landing. While her whole body felt stiff, the searing pain in her head was gone. She stared up at the canopy of her bed for a long moment, blinking until the red drapes became clearer. Celia then looked to her side and saw her husband sitting next to the bed. The upper half of his body rested against the mattress, one arm tucked under her head, the other hand held her wrist gently as though to keep an eye on her pulse.

“Jaime…”

Her husband’s eyes opened quickly. He stood and leaned over her, cupping her face with his hand. “Thank the gods,” he breathed, sprinkling her brow and cheeks with kisses. “Thank the gods.” He laid a hand across her forehead. “The fever has broken. I’ll fetch the maes—”

He stood to leave, but Celia held his hand tightly to keep him from moving. “Stay,” she whispered. “Please. For just a moment longer.”

Jaime looked at her and his gaze was soft, Celia could almost call it loving. He returned to her side, crawling into bed next to her and under the covers. Her husband pulled her against him, his lips brushing against her temple. 

“I’ll stay for just a moment longer. Then I really need to get the maester to look after you.”

Celia nodded and cuddled into her husband’s embrace. His hand began rubbing slow circles into her back and pressing soft kisses against her skin. There was no heat behind it, just warmth. 

“The children missed you,” he murmured. “Arthur wanted to come sleep with you, but I did not deem it wise since I did not know how sick you were.” He began to nuzzle her cheek with his nose. “Sansa calls for her mama almost every hour.”

“Did you miss me?”

He pulled away from her slightly and kissed the bridge of her nose. “As though one part of myself were lost,” he admitted. “I have missed you.”

Celia smiled at him weakly. “I’m right here.”

Jaime smiled and pressed his forehead against hers, continuing to nuzzle as though he were a true lion staking his claim on her. Celia lifted her hand and ran her fingers through his hair, pulling him so much closer. 

He put his hand over hers and slid it along his cheek until he could place a kiss upon her palm. “I really must get the maester. For my own sake, please.”

Celia gave a breathy laugh. “Okay.”

Jaime kissed the back of her hand before slipping out of their bed and out of their rooms. Celia closed her eyes and felt herself drift off into sleep. When she awoke, a cold hand was placed against her brow. She opened her eyes and found Maester Pycelle standing over her. 

“Good morning, my lady,” he said kindly. 

“Am I alright?”

“It appears so. My only guess is that you ingested something that does not agree with you or you might have caught something in passing. However, it appears you are free from it’s clutches, my lady.”

“Thank you,” she said genuinely. “How is the queen? Did I miss the birth?”

“The queen gave birth to a healthy prince and princess one day ago. Both healthy. The princess was born one minute before the little prince.”

“That’s wonderful,” Celia said, trying to sit up. 

The maester put a hand on her shoulder. “My lady, you must rest for a while longer. We need to air out your rooms as well before anyone else might enter.” The old man glanced at Jaime. “No strenuous activities either.”

Celia giggled when she saw the tips of her husband’s ears turn pink. 

Once Celia was allowed out of bed, she went to see her children immediately. Jaime had her hold onto his arm as they walked to the nursery. As soon as Arthur saw her, he screeched and ran out of Vylarr’s hold and into her legs, wrapping his arms around her as he was able. Although Celia wished to pick her son up herself, Jaime did so instead saying she needed to rest more. Avari brought Sansa to her and Jaime allowed her to hold their daughter since the girl was still small. 

“Mama! Mama!” their little girl squealed, clapping her hands on Celia’s cheeks and pressing an open mouth to her nose in a baby form of a kiss. 

Celia smiled and snuggled her daughter’s cheek. Jaime brought them all closer together so that they might have a moment. 

“I’m glad you’re well, Ce,” Avari said, putting her hand on Celia’s back. 

“Thank you, Ari, for looking after them.”

“They’re children of my heart. If I had any of my own, you would do the same.”

Celia smiled and held her family closer. 

“Congratulations on the prince and princess,” Celia said when she saw the queen next. “They’re gorgeous. I wish I could have been there with you, I know it had been such a consolation when you were with me for Arthur’s birth and Avari for Sansa’s.”

Cersei’s jaw seemed to strain for a moment before a smile slipped onto her features. “Yes, I was so worried when I heard you had fallen ill. I am so glad that you are feeling better.”

Celia smiled. “I’m sorry that I can’t have any tea, Maester Pycelle was adamant that I only drink my medicine for the first few days and then I can get back to drinking normally. And eating. Gods, I’ve only had soup for a week.” She put her hand on Cersei’s. “I’m glad you are well. My sister says that having twins can be so very painful. It’s a blessing that the king demanded he be with you and help you through it.”

“Yes,” Cersei said, her voice strained. “How kind.”

“He’s been practicing holding babies with Sansa since she’s a little less fussy.” Celia laughed. “He’s such a large man that she could sleep rather comfortably in the palms of his hands.”

The queen stood. “Forgive me, Celia, but I’m afraid I’m rather tired.”

“Oh!” Celia stood and curtsied. “Of course. Rest well, your grace.”

Cersei did not reply and left the room with heavy steps. 

Celia breathed a sigh of relief when they returned to Casterly Rock. She did not care for the Red Keep, save for the people who now resided there. She had too many horrors for castles of kings to hold much charm for her. 

They reached their keep in the early evening and the children had already fallen asleep in the carriage. Celia and Avari took the two little lion cubs to the nursery and settled them before going to their own rooms. 

She entered her chamber and found Jaime in the midst of putting his sleep shirt on. 

Celia was ashamed to say she squeaked. 

Jaime froze, his arms over his head, his shirt not even close to being on. He looked at her for a long moment and smirked. “Do you see something you like, my lady?”

Celia knew, just knew, she was blushing a shade darker than her hair. “I believe you already know what I like, Ser,” she tried to sound confident, but found her voice wavered slightly. 

“I believe I do.” He let his shirt fall to the floor and stepped forward, wearing only his trousers. “If you turn around, I will help you with your dress.”

Celia’s breath hitched in her throat. She turned her back on him and she felt Jaime’s fingers begin to loosen her dress until it began to slip. He pressed kisses against the revealed skin as the fabric slid down her shoulders.

“The maester said we would have to wait another week until we can do any strenuous activities ,” her husband growled. “Gods, I’ve missed you.”

“I’m right here,” Celia gasped as his hands went to her breasts. “I’m right here.” He continues to fondle her, his thumbs brushing against her peaks. She arched her back into his touch. His hands withdrew from her and she whimpered. 

“I don’t want to hurt you.”

She turned to face him, leaning forward to kiss his jaw, everywhere but his mouth. If she kissed him there, perhaps it would be too far, as though she would never be able to return if they sealed their union with a kiss outside the one they shared in the sept when they were first married.

“You could never hurt me.” She took his hands in hers and kissed his knuckles. “Not these hands. Not your lips.” She looked up at him.

His eyes were dark and molten as he stared into her. Jaime dipped his head and began to nuzzle at her neck. “Sit on the bed.”

He backed her up until she was sitting on the mattress, lifting her shift over her hips along the way. He knelt down before her and pulled her knee over her shoulder. Celia laid back and reached out to grip his hair as he found the lips he would kiss.

“I’ve missed you,” he groaned. “I’ve missed you.”

I’m right here. She moaned and tugged at his hair to bring him closer. Right here. 

They met the small party from the Vale at the gates of Casterly Rock. Avari was holding Sansa and had Arthur by the hand. Celia stood next to her husband who, in turn, stood next to his father. Tyrion was next to her. Lord Royce dismounted his horse and then plucked a small girl from her place at the front of the saddle. 

The girl was sweet looking. Her black curls were wild and her blue eyes fluttered across the sky as she took in the keep. Her mouth was open as she looked. Celia’s heart went out to the girl. Robert had said the girl was six.

“Lord Tywin,” Lord Royce nodded his head. 

“My lord,” her good father said. “You’ll recall my heir, Jaime and his wife Celia.”

Jaime nodded his head and Celia gave a small curtsy. Lord Royce nodded to both of them. 

“I remember the young lady sending letters to Ned in order to inquire about his brother on behalf of her sister.”

Celia blushed. She cursed her younger self for doing something so embarrassing. 

“No worries, my lady,” the Valeman said. “Ned never shared the content of your letters. Just the purpose.”

Celia nodded, feeling slightly mollified. She had truly wrote some embarrassing threats to her good brother if he told a falsehood or if Lord Brandon were not kind to her sister. She was fairly certain one threat was putting a living fish into their bed while they slept. 

“Mya, come here, child,” Lord Royce called. 

The girl rushed over to her liege lord’s side and looked up to Celia’s family. Mya gave a clumsy curtsy. “Hello, my lords and lady.”

Celia smiled and kneeled down so she was at Mya’s level. “Hello, Mya. Do you know why Lord Royce brought you here?”

“He says I am to live here. My father said I am to live with you.”

“That’s right, sweetling.” She indicated Arthur and Sansa. “I have two children of my own and I think they would love to be friends with you, especially Arthur since Sansa is still a little one yet. Would that sound fun?”

Mya seems to think it over for a moment before nodding. Celia offered the girl her hand and Mya hesitantly took it. 

“May I pick you up, sweetling?”

Mya nodded again and Celia pulled the girl into her arms and lifted her up. She was much heavier than Arthur was, being almost three years older, and she heard Jaime mumble so much for not straining before she shifted the girl onto her hip. Mya wrapped her arms around Celia’s neck and rested her head against Celia’s shoulder.

She fit.

Chapter Text

“Are you my father?”

Jaime looked up from his writing and saw Mya peering at him over his desk. Her wild black curls were loose and he could only guess she was clutching the stuffed doe Celia had made for her, the girl and the animal were rarely, if ever, separated. 

Mya has settled in well over the past two weeks. She took on the role of big sister rather well when it came to Arthur and Sansa. The girl was rather tomboyish and Jaime and Celia did little to dissuade her from her preferences, save for her interest in playing with a wooden sword. Arthur was too young to play with her in that regard and they didn’t want her to feel any guilt if someone was hurt. 

Jaime put his quill down and pushed his chair back from his desk. “Why do you think that?”

“Lord Royce said my father said I was to live here. And you live here with Lady Celia and Arthur and Sansa. My mother died when I was two.”

Jaime sighed softly and motioned for the girl to come to him. Her smile brightened as she came around the desk to stand before him. He picked her up and sat him on his knee. She looked so happy at the prospect of him being her father that it was almost surprising. Jaime hates that he would have to tell her otherwise. 

“I’m sorry, Mya,” he said gently. “But I’m not your father.”

The girl’s smile dimmed and her blue eyes began to well up with tears. “But I live with you!”

“I know.”

“Lord Royce said—”

“He did not lie. Your father did ask for you to live here and be fostered by me and Lady Celia.”

“Why can’t he be here ?”

Jaime tucked her hair behind her ear and pulled out a handkerchief and held it to her nose. She blew it dutifully and Jaime tucked it back in his pocket. “Your father is the king, Mya.”

The girl’s eyes widened. “Then why can’t I live with him? The Red Keep is huge ! Mandy said so!”

Jaime had no idea who Mandy was. “As the king, he’s very busy and sometimes we can’t always look after family when we’re busy, so he sent you to come live with me and Lady Celia.”

“Why?”

“Because… because we have enough love to share.” It was a strange answer, but it felt right, especially in Celia’s case. Jaime had no doubt she could love almost everyone. 

“Will I ever get to meet him?” May asked softly as she chewed her lip. 

“I’m sure he’ll visit at one point, he’s married to my sister.”

Mya narrowed her eyes at him. “Then you’re my uncle.”

Jaime chuckled. “I suppose, in a way, I am.”

“Can I call you Uncle Jaime?”

“You can.”

The girl threw her arms around Jaime’s neck and hugged him tightly. Jaime held her close, rubbing her back gently until she was ready to let go. 

“Cat!”

“Ce!”

Jaime hung back as he watched his wife practically fling herself into her older sister’s arms. The Tully women hugged each other fiercely and Jaime wondered for a moment if either would let go or even leave each other’s presence for the entirety of the trip. Even so, Jaime found himself smiling at the two sisters as they greeted one another in their girlhood home. 

He had met Catelyn Stark on a couple occasions. He was surprised at how similar the two sisters looked, even though Celia was four years younger than her sister and had slightly darker hair. A person would have to be blind to not see the family resemblance. 

“Ser Jaime.”

He turned to look at Ned Stark who was frowning at him. Celia had told Jaime that her sister was trying to appease her husband into playing nice, but Jaime did not believe it had done much. The wolf had already judged the lion and he doubted the man’s opinion would shift. 

The man’s appearance hadn’t changed that much, but Jaime could see a slight weight added to his presence. When news that he had found Lady Lyanna had reached the men in Jaime’s camp, he had hoped that the rest of the missive would give good news. However, the man had found his sister dead within the blasted tower, having bled out during childbirth to a stillborn silver haired girl. Not a maester in sight. 

When Jaime had heard the news he had wanted to rage at his sworn brothers who had not given the girl the proper attention and care she needed. For not letting not letting her brother in without a fight. He cursed all the gods that the girl had died due to one man’s actions. That the girl had not lived when so many had died to bring her home. 

Jaime’s heart went out to Ned Stark. Truly, it did. 

“Lord Stark.”

“My threats still stand, Eddard Stark,” Celia said with a slight flush to her cheeks and her chin lifted. “I believe my sister would even help me. Now, play nice for the children’s sake.”

Jaime was surprised at the blush that formed on Ned’s cheeks and he wondered what on earth his wife had threatened when she was a child. 

Celia laughed and hugged her sister one more time before returning to the carriage to get their children. She picked Sansa up and helped Arthur and Mya down. “This little one is Sansa.” She put her hand on their son’s head. “Arthur.” She attempted to smooth out Mya’s hair. “And our niece, Mya Stone.”

Ned’s eyes remained on Mya for a little longer than necessary and then Jaime remembered that he probably knew of the girl and perhaps even remembered Robert visiting her. 

Cat smiled. “I fear our children are not yet used to this more southern heat, so they’re all inside, but I’m sure they will be quite excited to see all of you. 

Celia smiled, Jaime was not even sure the expression had even left her face. “Let’s go then! I am rather excited to try and become the favored aunt on both sides of the family.”

Jaime rolled his eyes but found himself smiling as well. 

“If you hurt her,” Ned said in the privacy of the feast where most paid attention to the Tully girls and their children, “I will make you regret it.”

Jaime glanced at his good brother. “I am only human, Lord Stark, we all hurt each other.”

“Has she?”

Only when she left him alone in their marriage bed when he deserved it, when he missed the birth of Sansa. “Haven’t you? I’m sure the honorable Ned Stark has made his wife cry on a few occasions.”

“Celia is—”

“My wife and the mother of my children. She’s not a little girl you need to save.”

Jaime hated that he felt the need to be defensive of the relationship he had with his wife. However, he only slightly understood. Celia was only a year or so older than Ned Stark’s late sister. There was that inherent need to protect that came with being a brother and it never went away, Jaime doubted that death stopped such a feeling from rising. 

“She’s a sweet girl and doesn’t deserve the horrors she saw while in King's Landing.”

Jaime clenched his fist. The man didn’t know the half of it. Some days he could still feel Celia trembling in his arms as she told him what the Mad King has almost done to her. Although he had many reasons for doing so, knowing what the Targaryen had almost done to Celia and what he did to to Rhaella and possibly many other women, Jaime would never regret running his sword through Aerys’ back. He only wished he had made the act more painful. 

“No one deserves what they saw in King’s Landing.” He could still see Rickard Stark’s charred body, Brandon Stark’s blue face. The bodies of Aegon and Rhaenys wrapped in Lannister cloaks. Elia Martell’s blood on the Mountain’s clothes. “No one.”

The two men were quiet for a moment, watching their wives enchant their fellow rivermen. 

“You don’t deserve a girl like her. Not a man like you.”

Jaime’s stomach twisted into a knot as he thought of Cersei, the children he had given her, the way he had treated Celia at the beginning of their marriage. “I know.”

“This was my room as a girl,” Celia told him when they readied for bed. “After I left the nursery, of course.” It was a decently sized room, adequate for the well-loved third daughter of any family. “It feels like a lifetime since I’ve been here.”

“Weren’t you smuggled back here when your father got you out of King’s Landing?” Jaime asked. 

His wife shook her head. “I was brought to my father and stayed in his and my uncle’s tent. They didn’t trust for me to get back safely and they needed every men they had with them. It’s why I arrived at Casterly Rock when you did as well.” She ran her hand along the wooden frame of the bed. “I haven’t been here since I left for Harrenhal.”

“That’s where Prince Rhaegar met you and brought you into Princess Elia’s services.”

She nodded. “My grandfather had me sing a song and the prince thought me a siren and said I must come to King’s Landing to sing pretty songs for his wife for all he knew were sad ones.” She frowned. “It was supposed to be a great honor.”

Jaime stood behind his wife and placed his hands on her shoulders and placed a kiss at the curve of her neck. “It should have been.”

“It’s strange, isn’t it, how often we were in the same place but rarely met.”

Jaime could only remember meeting her on their wedding day, but there was still truth in her words. “I wonder what life would have been like if we had met sooner.”

Would he have let things even begin with Cersei? Would he have agreed to entering the kingsguard? Would he have gone into the marriage clean of any taint as she had?

“Me too,” she whispered. His hands wandered down her hips. “I pray to all the gods that we still would have found each other. That we still would have married. Whether it be when we were children or—”

“Yes,” he encouraged, his fingers tightening over her hips as she began to grind herself back against him. He saw her knuckles grow white as she tightened her hold on one of the wooden poles of the bed frame. 

Jaime moaned as he began to grind back, feeling her wet and wanting already through her shift and his pants. Gods, how long had she been ready for him? “Is this what you want?” he asked, his voice rough with want. “For me to take you on your girlhood bed? Pretend that I escaped some feast to dishonor the lord who granted me guest rights by taking you? Steal you away like Bael the Bard?”

His wife mewled as he lifted her hips and began to rub himself against her. Gods he was a mess. He wanted her so much. He—

The door opened and Jaime froze for a second before letting his wife go and stood between her and the door to protect her modesty. To his immense relief and slight annoyance, it was only their son. 

Whatever arousal Jaime had previously, flagged instantly. 

“Arthur,” he breathed. “What is it, sweetling?” He could hear his wife straighten her shift behind him. 

“Scary dream,” he said softly. 

“Oh, come here, love.” Celia went to their son and picked him up, holding him protectively in her arms. 

Hearing his wife say the word sent a thrill up his spine. “He can sleep with us tonight,” Jaime said. He kissed his wife’s cheek. “I fear we’ll have to save that for a later night.”

He smiled when he saw the blush spread down to his wife’s neck. 

The three settled into bed, their son snug between them.

Chapter Text

She wasn’t sure what it was that made her realize it, but Celia was in love with her husband. 

The day was just like any other save her father was taking Jaime and Ned out on a hunt, which neither particularly enjoyed. 

She was breaking her fast with her husband when Avari entered the room holding a squirming Sansa. 

“Forgive me, Ce,” she said. “But the little lady appears to want to fuss this morning.”

“Give her here,” Jaime said, standing. He went to Avari and took his daughter into his arms. She began to wiggle more urgently, not wanting to be still. “What is it, sweetling?” He sat down on the floor and raised her above his head. “What has our littlest lion all bothered?” Sansa giggled at her father and began to make grabby hands down to him. Jaime let her rest on his chest, laying down if the floor completely. Their daughter snuggled up against him, her butt wiggled into the air as she found a comfortable position. 

It was his laugh, Celia supposed, that made her realize it. His laughter was deep and rich and rumbling. 

“Papa, ‘leep,” Sansa yawned. 

“I’m afraid your grandfather will think me lazy if I do so, little cub.” Jaime lifted his head and placed a kiss to Sansa’s curls. “I’m sure if you ask your mother though…”

The two looked at her with their similarly imploring green eyes. 

“Just a half hour longer,” Celia sighed. She looked to her friend. “Thank you, Ari.”

Avari nodded and left the room. 

Jaime carefully stood, cupping Sansa’s back and bottom as he carried her to their bed. Celia crawled in after them. Sansa snuggled into her chest and Jaime wrapped his arm around both of them. 

“Half an hour.”

Jaime closed his eyes and chuckled. “Of course, my lady.”

Celia watched him and wondered how long it was that she had loved him, for she only realized it now and knew she was quite in the middle of it already. 

Celia and Cat sat in the gardens as their children played. Both held Sansa and Arya in their arms since the little girls were too small to join their brothers and cousins and Mya. Celia laughed as she watched Mya take her time in leading the charge against one of the retired hunting dogs who seemed to almost reluctantly took the job of septa for the children. 

“How is the North?” Celia asked. “Is it as beautiful as they say?”

“As beautiful as Brandon told me or as Ned said in his letters to you,” Cat smiled. 

Celia blushed. “I will never live those letters down, will I?”

Cat chuckled. “Probably not. It was always so adorable how protective you were of me.”

“You were my mother in all ways but birth, of course I was protective.”

“Of course. And how is Casterly Rock?”

“It is wonderful to be by the sea. I have taken the children there occasionally on walks. I met Avari and she has been teaching everyone Valyrian and a few other languages. Lord Tywin has also been kind to me.”

Cat smiled. “That’s wonderful. And Ser Jaime?”

Celia blushed. “He is so good to me, Cat. I know Ned doesn’t think him a good man, sometimes I think Jaime doesn’t think himself to be one either, but he is. He loves our children and he’s taken to Mya so well.”

“Do you love him?”

“Yes.” It was so easy to say, yet it made her heart race.

Cat took Celia’s hand in hers. “That’s all I ever wanted for you, Ce. I’m so happy for you. I know…” Her oldest sister took a deep breath. “I know I wasn’t able to protect you from King’s Landing. You being able to be with a man you love who loves your children. I’m so happy for you.”

Celia smiled. She turned back to look at the children and found Jon coming toward them. The youngest of the twins looked every inch like his father. He was a quiet boy as well, but still sweet.

Jon came over to them and stepped up to his mother’s knee. “Need a princess,” he said quietly. “Mya said she’s not one. Need a princess to fight for.”

Cat smiled. “I’m sure Arya and Sansa would love to be your princesses, sweetling.”

Jon nodded. He leaned up and kissed his little sister on the cheek. He then turned to Sansa and took her small hand in his and kissed it. “Gotta fight the dragon now.”

Celia smiled as well. “I’m sure the girls feel very protected now, Jon. Off you go.”

Once Jon went to join his brother, Arthur, and Mya, Celia glanced at Cat and the two women fell into giggles. 

Celia tucked her children in for the night. She and Cat had taken turns in the night for the children to grow used to each one of them. Her nephews and niece had begun to reach for her now and Celia’s heart swelled whenever they did so. Celia wished she could take all three home with her but knew Cat would probably not allow it. 

“Mama, sing please,” Arthur said when she got to tucking him in. 

Celia smiled and smoothed the hair from his face. She kissed his forehead before sitting on one of the rocking chairs. “Shall I sing for all of you?” The children nodded their enthusiasm and Celia chuckled. “As long as it’s only one and you all sleep afterwards.” The children nodded again. 

She thought for a moment, trying to think of a song to sing to them. 

High in the halls of the kings who are gone ,” Celia began. “ Jenny would dance with her ghosts .” Her voice whispered through the air like silk against skin. She looked at her three children. “ The ones she had lost and the ones she had found and the ones who had loved her the most .”

It was a heartbreaking song, true and held so much more meaning to her than it might for the children. She had last sung this to little Rhaenys. “ The ones who'd been gone for so very long, she couldn't remember their names. They spun her around on the damp old stones, spun away all her sorrow and pain.

She closed her eyes and let herself sink into the song. “ And she never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave.

She truly did not sing much anymore, save for her children. Her voice had brought her to King’s Landing. It had brought her to the den of fire and blood and mad dragons who still haunted her sleep on occasion. Jaime had helped her a bit at night, holding her tightly in his arms and whispering to her gently that he would never let any man attempt to hurt her in that way again. “ They danced through the day and into the night through the snow that swept through the hall. From winter to summer then winter again, ‘til the walls did crumble and fall .”

She saw that the children were drifting into sleep and Celia stood to kiss them goodnight, going to her niece and nephews first. “ And she never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave. ” She made sure they were nice and warm before going to her own children. “ And she never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave.

She smiled at the slumbering children. “ High in the halls of the kings who are gone, Jenny would dance with her ghosts.” She kissed Arthur and Mya. “ The ones she had lost and the ones she had found, ” she pressed a kiss to Sansa’s brow. “ And the ones who had loved her the most.

The candles were still lit when her husband returned to their rooms. He personally hated hunting, she knew, but had indulged her father in the venture, just as Ned had. Celia chuckled at the thought of the two men bonding over their mutual dislike of the sport. Her husband came up behind her as she was brushing out her hair. Celia looked up at her husband through the mirror as he bent down to kiss her cheek. 

“I’ve missed you,” he grumbled as she put her brush down to cup his cheek. 

“I’m right here.” She sucked in a breath as his stubbled jaw scratched against the side of her neck.

Jaime noticed her reaction and repeated the motion. Celia squirmed as the sensation sent a tingle up her spine. Her hand slid up from his cheek and into his hair where she fisted it tightly. He groaned and began to drag his tongue against the irritated skin, trying to sooth it, but it only made the tingling worse.

Celia crossed her legs to hide her growing want, but Jaime noticed. He pulled her up from her chair and moved around it, crowding her against the vanity. 

“Look at you,” he whispered horsefly into her ear. “Is this what you want? Hm? Do you want me to take you here?”

“Please,” Celia breathed, pressing herself back until she was grinding against his hardened length. “ Yes.

“I want you to watch,” he growled, pulling her shift over her hips. His sleep shirt was still between them, but Celia didn’t care. The friction was already making her fall apart. One of Jaime’s hands went to her neck and he lifted her gaze up to the mirror and she could see him watching her through the mirror. “Watch.”

Celia nodded, reaching back with her free hand to pull at his shirt, trying to yank it up. It didn’t take long before her husband was sheathed inside her. Their eyes remained locked as he thrust into her. Sharp, hard strokes that made Celia lose breath with each snap of his hips. 

“So beautiful,” he grunted into her ear. “So damn beautiful.” He kissed her ear so tenderly it almost felt out of place against the constant rhythm of his hips. “I dream of you,” he admitted. “Only you—gods—”

His hand went between her legs and his thumb hit just the right spot and she came apart for him. Jaime swore and pulled out of her. Celia cried out in disappointment at her emptiness, which quickly turned to shock as he turned her and sat her on the vanity. He plunged back into her and the new angle caused Celia to give out a silent scream as her husband continued to pound into her. She hadn’t even gotten through her first release when he pulled her into another one. 

Celia wrapped her legs around her husband’s hips, her arms around his neck as he began to suck marks into her skin, trying to bring him as close as possible. 

He said her name like a prayer, over and over and over again. Celia. Celia. Celia. Celia.

She had nothing to ground herself to, save him. She dug her heels into the small of his back and her fingers dug into his skin so hard she feared she might draw blood. 

“That’s it,” he growled. “Like this. Should have always—” Jaime sheathed himself deep inside her and she felt his release. He rutted gently into her, one of the hands on her hips slid down her thigh and he hitched her knee over the crux of his arm. The new angle change brought him so much deeper than before. 

Celia held onto him, burying her face into his neck as he stilled within her, not even pulling out of her when he lifted her up and brought her to her girlhood bed. He pulled out of her then and reached to the bedside table to get a washcloth and began to clean her up. 

“Sorry,” he whispered hoarsely. “If I hurt you.”

Celia shook her head, sitting up and kissing his jaw and the corner of his mouth. “I didn’t know it could be like that.” Her body was still singing from her high. “I didn’t know it could feel like that.”

When Jaime finished cleaning them, he laid her back down and rolled into the cradle of her thighs, resting his head in the valley of her breasts. “It should always be like that,” he whispered. Jaime looked up at her, his eyes dark. “Sleep, love.”

Celia was uncertain if he knew what he had called her, but sleep overcame her and she drifted off in her husband’s embrace.

Chapter Text

When Jaime and his family returned to Casterly Rock, he became more determined than ever to do his duties as his father’s heir. He began to take an interest in Lannisport and the ships that came from across the sea. He began to ask Vylarr in his studies in Valyrian since he was rather rusty and would enjoy helping Arthur and Sansa with their lessons. Mya as well, although she was more stubborn about it. 

He began to take Arthur with him when he was doing his duties as heir. He began taking Sansa with him to the ports to help her figure out what was good trade and what wasn’t—she usually liked anything soft and shiny, though. He brought Mya to the stables and the track. She seemed to enjoy looking over the horses. Mya also enjoyed numbers and counting so he had her sit in with Arthur on lessons. 

With everything, Celia stood by his side smiling at him and spending time with their children. His wife took an interest in the things and people beyond the keep, things that Cersei had always found boring. Celia would walk with him around the base of the keep while the children were napping or at their lessons. They felt… almost on equal footing. 

And at night… Gods, he had been blind to what it could have been these past three years. It was as though he were relearning her body all over again. 

The way she was beneath him was so different. It felt more.

The way she would rock her hips up to meet his. The way she would dig her nails in his back, her foot urging him deeper and deeper. The way she moaned into his ear between pants as he took her hard and fast, or the way she would sigh when he took her with a steady rhythm as he murmured sweet everythings into her ear. He would bury himself deep inside her and spend. Sinking into her until he was soft. 

Then, he would roll onto his back and reach for the water and cloth to clean the both of them, always making sure she felt good and wasn’t sore. Celia would curl into his side and play with the strings of his sleep shirt before sliding her hand onto his cheek to nuzzle against him. He’d press his nose into her hair and breathe her in.

Maybe Ned Stark was right. He wasn’t a good man, he probably never would be. 

However, whatever good that came from his life, Jaime knew all of it was from Celia. 

All of it. 

My dearest Jaime,

I have missed you greatly since you were last in King’s Landing. Joffrey is still a joy, preferring me over the king. Myrcella and Tommen are as sweet as they had been when you left, however Robert has taken more of an interest in them. I wish he could see that they are mine , not his. I praise the gods that they are nothing like him. 

You should see how he tries with Joffrey still, but our son is firmly on my side in all things. 

I am writing this letter asking you to return to the capital. I miss you and want you by my side. I’m certain I can convince Robert that you are necessary here. Your little fish has guppies of her own, Arthur for Myrcella and Sansa for Joffrey, to keep her occupied. She can remain in Casterly Rock while you return to where you belong: by my side. I’m certain we can think of a way to keep you where you were meant to be, always meant to be. 

Yours always,

Cersei

Jaime read the letter over again. He knew enough about his sister to be well aware that she was serious. She would find a way to bring him back to King’s Landing, away from his wife, away from his children. 

He didn’t want that. 

He couldn’t leave now after everything was settled. Jaime stood and crumpled the letter in his hand before throwing it in the fire. He then sat back down and wrote his response. 

Cersei,

I am afraid that I can’t come to King’s Landing. I’m needed here at Casterly Rock and doubt our father would allow for another trip so soon since Celia, the children, and I have only just returned from Riverrun. 

I pray to the Mother that the princes and princess remain in good health and believe it to be for the best that Robert has taken an interest in them. 

Your brother,

Jaime

A knock came to his study door. 

“Come in.”

Celia entered, wearing an Essosi gown Avari’s mother had made for her. The gold fabric was tight in the bodice, the skirt flowed gently out from the waist. Her hair was loose save for a braid around the crown of her head. 

Jaime’s cock twitched.

“Are you writing your letters?” Celia asked. 

He nodded. “Cersei requested that I come to King’s Landing.”

Her expression stiffened slightly and he could see her trying to remain aloof. “Oh.”

“I told her I’m needed here. I don’t think I can go to King’s Landing. Not right now anyway, not in the near future.” She smiled at him. “You look beautiful.”

Celia’s cheeks turned red. “Do not make fun of me, Ser.”

Jaime stood and walked to her. “Never, my lady.” He bent his head down and began to nuzzle behind her ear. He felt a quick breath fan across his cheek as he did so. “So beautiful. So very beautiful. I’ve missed you.” It’s almost become their way of saying what they wanted. Their way of saying three other little words that had yet to be breathed between them. “I’ve missed you.”

“I’m right here,” she breathed, sliding her arms around his shoulders. 

Jaime bent slightly and hoisted her up, her legs going around his hips as he began to ravage her neck. He sat her on his desk and began to rut himself between her legs. His hands made quick work of pushing up her skirt and bunching it around her hips. Gods, she wasn’t wearing a smallcloth. He groaned as his fingers began to ready her. 

Celia’s hands slid down his chest and began to pull his shirt from his trousers before beginning to untie the laces that served as the only thing keeping his cock from her heat. 

Soon enough, he was inside her, pounding into her as his desk groaned underneath them. Celia let her head fall back as she rocked her hips to meet his, letting him grind against her at the end of every thrust. He hooked her knees under the cruxes of his arms and folded her almost in half as she held onto him tightly. 

“Celia—” His voice was rough and he wanted to roar her name out so that it would ring amongst the rocks of the keep. “So perfect.” She began to suck a mark just below his ear. “Just like that. Love, just like that.” He could hear a slight mewl in her breath as his hips began to snap, forcing the air from her lungs. “Do you like that? Like this!” He brought his hand between them to press his thumb against her. She cried out, her walls fluttering around him and she lost herself in him. 

He loved the way she looked. Her eyes fluttering closed, her mouth open in a silent roar, her cheeks flushed, her hair sticking ever so slightly to her skin. He was the one that made her so. It was him. 

“Cel—” His own release came suddenly and he groaned into her as he let his seed take root deep inside her. “That’s it,” he growled and she began to roll her hips into his again. “Do you want more? Can I make you fall apart again? What do you want, love? Tell me and it’s yours.”

“T-tongue,” she gasped as he trust against her one more time before pulling out. He was soft and wouldn’t be ready to take her for a minute or so. 

Jaime knelt down and threw her legs over his shoulders and began to drink.

Their little boy was three. 

It boggled Jaime’s mind as he carried his son around the great hall. It had been over three years since he first met his wife. Since he first had her. Gods, he had been such a fool. How he wished he had come to her knowing no one else. Gods. 

Arthur was everything Jaime was not. He was charismatic, even at three, and their people loved him. He smiled at everyone and waved hello. He remembered their names and their jobs and even their families. Jaime pressed a kiss to the top of his son’s head as he thanked one of the servants by name for the silverware. The silverware!

“Mama!”

Jaime looked up and saw Celia coming towards them with Sansa in her arms. Mya was skipping around her before coming up to stand at Jaime’s elbow, making faces at a giggling Arthur. 

“Hello, sweetling,” Celia said, kissing her son’s hand.

“Mama, Papa said I can have sword!”

Celia raised her eyebrow at him. “A better practice one,” Jaime said quickly. “Not live steel.”

His wife smiled and pressed a kiss to his cheek. 

As they readied for bed that night, Celia was sitting on their bed watching him pull his sleep shirt over his head. 

“Jaime.”

“Hm?”  When she didn’t answer, Jaime finished putting his shirt on and went to her, cupping her face in his hands. “What is it?”

She placed her hands over his and guided them down her throat and breasts until they landed on her stomach, his gaze following their movement. “I’m with child.”

Jaime’s gaze returned to Celia’s. His heart began to swell at the soft glow of her in the candlelight. “Truly?”

She nodded, her lips melting into a smile as Jaime knelt before her. He pushed up the fabric of her shift and pressed a kiss to her bare belly. He could already feel the firmness of it. A child. Another child. 

Jaime gently pushed her back further on the bed, crawling after her until he knelt at her feet. “Let me worship you.”

A flush came across her cheeks. “I don’t want worship,” she breathed. “I just want you.”

“Then have me.”

Jaime lifted her leg by the ankle and kissed the inside. His lips traveled up nipping and sucking as he bent down, pulling the leg over his shoulder until he was at the apex of her thighs. Gods, he loved drinking from her. Giving to her what he had never given to anyone. 

Celia’s hand fisted at his hair as she began to grind herself against his mouth, wanting more. He was able to work her into enough of a frenzy that when he began to thrust three fingers into her she was already falling apart around him. He kissed her hip as he guided her through her release. 

When she was boneless, Jaime crawled up her body and continued his trail of kisses until he reached her breast. He sucked on her through the fabric of her shift and Celia cried out softly, desperate to pull him up to her, but Jaime kept his attention at her perky nub. He began to lick at her. 

“You’re going to be so full,” he murmured, transferring his affection to the other breast. “Feeding my child. I missed the weight of them in my hands. The way I knew what you do with them when I’m not touching them.” 

His wife moaned, tugging at him again. He followed her this time and sheathed himself inside her when he met her eyes. Jaime rested on his forearms above her as he began to move, slow and deep. Celia cupped his face in her hands and he bent his head down to nuzzle her. Loving the way she surrounded him. 

All the good in his life was due to her. Only her. 

His movements stuttered as he came close to his release. He moved a hand between them to help her with a second one. They rode their pleasure out together and Jaime slipped out of her when he went soft. He rolled them onto his back and held her to his chest. She rested her head on his shoulder, breathing in and sighing, her hot breath causing his shirt to stick to his skin. 

“Jaime…”

He kissed the top of her head. Jaime could feel her drifting off. He held her tenderly in his arms as he felt Celia sink into a deep, boneless sleep. 

Jaime brushed his thumb along the firmness of her belly. He would never let anyone hurt this child. This time, he would be there for her—with her—the whole way. This was the first child they had when he…

Jaime drifted into oblivion.

Chapter Text

Celia stood by her husband as the carriage from King’s Landing entered through the gate. She was visibly pregnant now with the maester putting her at four to four and a half months along. The dress she wore didn’t hide her pregnancy, although it didn’t put her belly on full display either. She held onto her husband’s arm as they waited. 

Jaime had become so very attentive of her this time around. It was only slightly annoying how much he hovered over her, but Celia didn’t mind too much. She felt secure in the ways he worried over her. Her ankles were swollen and it hurt to walk at times and Jaime insisted on carrying her in those times. 

Avari had though it hilarious because, once, Jaime had practically tripped over himself to rush to Lannisport to find a specific spice she had been craving. She had mentioned it offhandedly that she always seemed to crave it when pregnant. Almost an hour later her good father was reprimanding his son for buying out almost the entire stock from the Essosi trader. However, Tywin had not been too upset when he learned the reason why. 

The king looked to be in better health since Celia had last seen him as he rode in through the gate. His cheeks were less ruddy and he looked more like the man who had battled Rhaegar Targaryen on the Trident. Robert dismounted his horse and went to the carriage to help his wife and young son down. Cersei was holding the little princess and one of her ladies maids was holding little Tommen. Robert led his wife to the Lannister household and they all bowed and curtsied to the king and queen. 

“Rise,” Robert said with a laugh. “We’re family after all.” He looked to Celia. “I see you’ve been hiding some good news from us.” His smile was wide and merry. 

Celia smiled back, rubbing a hand over her belly. “I thought it would be a fun surprise.” She looked over at Jaime. “My husband had wanted to share the news almost immediately, but when you sent word that you were coming, I thought this would be a pleasant surprise for when you arrive.”

“Call me please, then,” Robert said, kissing the back of her hand before slapping Jaime in the back for congratulations. “Looks like you’re going to try and catch up with me, children wise.”

Jaime smiled slightly.

Celia looked to Cersei who was watching her carefully. “It’s good to see you too, your grace,” she said with a slight curtsy. “I hope the journey was not overbearing.”

The queen’s gaze slipped to Celia’s belly and then to Jaime. “It was tiring.”

“Of course. Shall we go inside and let you all rest for a moment before we have our midday meal?”

“Sounds perfect,” Robert nodded. He motioned for the servants to begin unloading the carriage. “I shall steal you for a moment, Lady Celia. Tell me how your sister and Ned are fairing up North.” The king offered her his arm and Celia took it, letting her husband escort his sister back into the keep. 

“Do you know who I am?” Robert asked. 

Celia watched from the doorway as Mya stared up at the king. Robert has asked her if he might see Mya. The way he said his daughter’s name broke his heart. It was as though the name could be torn from his memory at any moment. Celia has said of course right away. Who was she to keep a father from his daughter?

Mya looked at the man kneeling before her. She glanced at Celia and seemed to be more at ease knowing she was there. Hesitantly, Mya reached out and touched the king’s face. Celia saw Robert melt into his daughter’s touch, as though all the tension in his body was gone. Mya brushed Robert’s hair from his face and then touched his cheeks. She moved his lips into a smile.

“Father?”

Robert nodded, tears flooding his eyes. 

“Father!” Mya thee her arms around Robert’s neck and he stood, holding her close in his arms. 

“I’m sorry,” he whispered as Mya cried. “I’m so sorry.” He kissed the top of her head and held her tight. He glanced at Celia. Thank you. 

While the maester assured both her and Jaime that coupling whilst pregnant would not harm the babe, Jaime had been so very hesitant about putting any of his weight on her. Celia had asked if he would take her as he had before, from behind, if that meant they could couple again. He had agreed but almost always drank from between her legs before turning her on her knees. 

That night was no different. 

One hand was over her own, their fingers laced together. His other hand cradled her belly protectively as he found a slow and steady rhythm. It was not as hard as their more frantic and passionate coupling, but this was something more. She already felt a little big already because of the pregnancy, but now she felt full. The drag against her, the friction as he pulled out of her only to slide back in. She loved how gentle he was being, the way he kissed her neck and just behind the ear. She loved the way he moaned softly against her as though she were the whole world. 

“You should always be like this,” he grunted, burying his face in the back of her neck. His hand spanned across her belly and he began to rub it in time with his thrusts. “Always round with my child. Always full of my spend. Gods, your dripping for me.”

Yes. Yes! Celia just moaned in answer, pushing back to meet his thrusts. She wanted that too. Gods, she wanted that too. Give him a pride of children. Little red and golden lions running about the castle. Little brothers and sisters for Arthur, Mya, and Sansa. 

“Is that what you want, love?” He movements became sharper and his hand slid down between her legs and he began to press and rub against just the right spot. Celia threw her head back with a cry as she came. Jaime loaned into her ear, squeezing her hand tighter. “Gods—” He continued to rut through her release. “That’s it, Celia. Yes, love, that’s it!”

The growl of his release was feral and Celia shuddered against him. He held them there for a long moment, kissing the back of her neck and whispering how good she had felt. Jaime pulled out of her once he had grown soft and helped Celia lay on her side. He cleaned her off and curled around her back once he had finished cleaning himself. 

Jaime snuggled against her and Celia sighed as she felt the weight of his arm on her. His hand was splayed across her belly and he began to rub gentle circles against the growing bulge.

“Have you thought of any names?” he asked, kissing the base of her neck. 

“Minisa or Joanna if it’s a girl,” she said, bringing his hand up to her face so she could play with his fingers. “If she had red hair, Minisa; if she has golden hair, Joanna. Hoster or Tywin for boys, the same thing.” She could already feel him growing hard against her. She wiggled against him and he groaned, his hips bucking slightly against her. Celia continued to play with his hand in silence for a moment as though she hadn’t. “Did you mean what you said?”

“Hm?”

“About always wanting me to be with child.”

Jaime buried his face into her hair. “I want to have as many children with you as possible.”

Celia blushed. “Truly?”

“Truly.”

She turned to look at him over her shoulder. “Perhaps we should practice for the next one.” 

Jaime smirked. “Perhaps we should.”

Celia knee she got overly emotional when she was pregnant. It was natural, the maester had assured her. Even so, she felt so very embarrassed when she began crying at Cersei commenting on how much weight she had gained in this pregnancy. 

The comments had been littered throughout the visit. 

Oh dear, I had planned on giving you a dress. I suppose I have to get it altered now or give it to someone else. 

You’ve gotten so big this time round. I never felt this big with the twins. 

You used to be so pretty, little fish. 

It’s a wonder my brother is as attentive as he is. He’s never really cared for larger girls. 

Can he look at you know when you’re in bed together?

It was the last comment that reduced Celia Ro tears. Avari has bristled next to her and glared at the queen, knowing she couldn’t say anything. 

“Cersei, leave her alone,” Jaime growled at his sister. He went to Celia and began to wipe away her tears. “Ignore her, she always gets hyper critical when she’s stuck in one place for too long and she hasn’t been allowed out riding yet.”

Celia watched as the two siblings glared at each other and she pressed herself against Jaime’s chest, Avari rubbing her back gently. 

That night, Jaime showed just how much he appreciated her body. 

Jaime was on his knees, buried to the hilt in her. Celia’s lower body was off the bed, her feet and his hands keeping her up. It was a new position and Celia loved it. Her knuckles were white as she gripped under the headboard, crying out as he began to pound into her. 

“Love the way you look,” he growled, his eyes never leaving her face. “Want to take you almost every hour of every day. It’s painful, Celia. Gods, that’s it, love—” He moaned as she began to rock herself into his thrusts. “I want you every morning. I want you every night, but you’re growing a baby, love. Don’t want to hurt you— Don’t want to tire you out. That’s it!”

His eyes closed as she began to flutter and tighten around him. His head fell back as he roared his release. Celia cried out with him, pushing herself harder against his tutting as she fought for this to be longer. 

He lowered her and fell onto his back, panting with her as they tried to catch their breaths. In an instant, he was on her again, kissing her over her shift and down her body until his mouth was on the apex of her thighs. He began to drink from her, cleaning her with his tongue and moaning at the taste. Jaime pulled her knees over his shoulder, continuing to lap at her until she was crying out again, the tightened spring in her belly releasing like a flood within her. Jaime remained in his place, licking at her until she was spent and boneless. 

Her husband rested his head against her belly, a hand on her hip. “Sleep, love,” he whispered and Celia let blissful sleep take her.

Chapter Text

Jaime had holed himself in his study for the day. Celia had taken the children down to the sea to play. Robert has gone with her, understanding that she probably shouldn’t be left alone but Jaime had important duties to take care of. News had come that three ships were lost due to a storm and he had to come up with a way for the Lannisters and the crown to make their money back. 

The door to his study opened and he saw Cersei enter. “I don’t have time right now, Cersei. Why don’t you go join Celia and take Joffrey and the twins with you.”

“You said that you wouldn’t give her anymore children,” his sister said darkly. 

Jaime’s stomach twisted into a knot. He didn’t look his sister in the eye and, instead, continued going through the accounts. “An accident,” he lied. A bold one. He had taken his wife to the marital bed more than willingly. And this child was one produced from— “I can't control her ability to fall pregnant.”

There was a pause. “You haven’t been pulling out,” she accused. “You’re letting that woman have your bastard—”

“They aren’t bastards,” Jaime answered darkly. “And I ask that you not refer to them as such.”

“They aren’t Lannisters.”

“They are.”

“They’re lionfish, hardly worth—” His sister stopped and Jaime looked at her. “You love her.”

“I don’t,” Jaime said quickly. He couldn’t. Not after how he had come to her, after he had hurt her, after giving Cersei children. All he could do was care for her. Love their children and make her feel safe and secure. “She’s my wife and I have duties to her.”

“She loves you,” Cersei spat. 

Jaime’s heart fluttered in his chest at the statement. “I’m her husband. She cares about me. Nothing more.”

“You were supposed to stay distant from her!”

“She’s my wife, Cersei! The mother of my children! I can’t stay away.”

“Can’t or won’t?!”

“Seven hells, it’s not as though we were ever going to be together. You’re my sister, Cersei! Celia’s my wife and my place is next to her. I gave you the three children I promised you! Let it go. We aren’t children anymore.”

“It’s her fault! If she had never—”

“Father made the decision! She’s just as blameless as we are.” Even more so. 

“If she had just died when she was supposed to, none of this would have happened!”

The quill in Jaime’s hand snapped. His eyes went to Cersei, her face red with anger. “ What?

“Don’t you see, Jaime? If she had just died when she was supposed to, you wouldn’t feel this need to split yourself. If she had died, little Arthur and that fish, Sansa, could live with us in the Red Keep. I can raise them as my own. Even if they are only half yours, I can love them well enough and then Arthur can marry Myrcella and she can become the lady of Casterly Rock and Sansa can marry Joffrey. They can be as we are supposed to be.”

Jaime’s mind was racing. “What do you mean when she was supposed to ?” Cersei looked away from him and Jaime stood, storming over to her. “What did you do, Cersei?” He grabbed her by the arms and shook her. “What did you do?!”

“What I’ve always done, Jaime. Protect us . She thinks you belong to her! Just as Melara did!”

“Melara?” Jaime’s blinked in confusion at the mention of his sister’s late childhood friend. “What does she have to do with anything?”

“Your little fish is just like her, scheming to take you away. Did you know that’s what she hoped for? To marry you someday. As though she belonged anywhere beyond what she was, as though she deserved you!”

“Cersei, what did you do?!” Robert telling him what Cersei had threatened when the king had asked to bring his daughter to the Red Keep. “What did you do?!”

“If Celia had just died from the poison like she was supposed to, this wouldn’t be happening!”

Jaime stumbles away from her. “Gods. You killed her. You—” She had poisoned Celia. He grabbed his sister by the arms. “Don’t you ever lay a hand on my wife. Gods, Cersei, you know what it’s like to lose a mother! You would leave my children without her.”

“You belong to me, Jaime! It’s what we deserve!”

“It’s not about deserving! It’s about being able to live with yourself.” Jaime closed his eyes and tried to take a deep breath. 

“You live for me!”

“I live for my children! All of them! Dammit it, Cersei, you’re putting them in danger too by doing something so stupid!”

She slapped him. 

It took everything in Jaime to not hurt his sister back. How dare she. 

“I am your queen,” she sneered. 

“Queen, is it? The one thing I could never give you was the one thing you always wanted. Cersei, we can’t do this anymore. If you love your children, stop this and try to make it work with Robert. He’s a good man.”

“Yes, a good man with bastards,” Cersei scoffed. 

Jaime curled his hand into a fist. He and Robert were the same. Cersei had made him that way. “Leave Celia and the children alone, Cersei. Please.”

“You love her,” Cersei accused. Her voice was small and it reminded Jaime of when they were children and she had been treated cruelly. He remembered being her knight once. 

“Cersei, please.”

“You belong to me !”

“She’s my wife. I can’t—”

“I’ll poison her again.” Jaime froze. “You said you wouldn’t give her anymore children. Women die in childbirth all the time.”

“Don’t you dare hurt her,” he threatened. “You can’t.” 

“Then prove your love me and I won’t. I’m a queen. I have my ways.”

Jaime worked his jaw as Cersei put her hands on his arms looking up at him with his own green eyes. “How?”

“Come to me tonight. Robert has to go settle some land disputes outside of Lannisport. He’ll be gone one night. Prove to me that you love me and I’ll let your little pet live.”

“Cersei—”

“The only people in this world that matter are us.”

Jaime closed his eyes. 

He would never truly be free, would he?

He lied to Celia and said he had to finish a few reports. She had looked up at him from their bed and nodded. He made sure she was comfortable and kissed her brow before kissing her stomach through the bedding.

Then, he went to his sister’s rooms.

He had never felt this way, going to Cersei. He had always approached their hurried nights together with anticipation, now he was filled with only dread. 

He went to Cersei’s room and she was upon him in an instant. It was easy, falling back into her—into habit. He had memorized Cersei’s body and wants many years ago. It was not long until he was inside her, thrusting into her heat as she chanted his name in his ear. She gave him orders to. Harder. Harder ! There! Gods, there!

He let himself go away inside. Gods, he hadn’t done that in years. He let himself close his heart up as he brought his sister to release. He continued until he began to spill. “Ce—”

He bit his tongue. Celia. Gods. Celia. 

Jaime pulled himself out of her and got off the bed. He gave her a cloth to wash herself after he finished cleaning himself up. 

“See, Jaime,” she purred, standing to rub herself against him. “This is how it’s supposed to be. Isn’t this better than rutting into a cold dead fish.”

“Of course, Cersei. Of course.”

He shuddered, spilling into her. “Celia…”

Cersei made him lie with her four more times during her stay in Casterly Rock, once even in his study. Throughout it all, Jaime tried to convince her that everything he was doing was to protect their children. If he appeared close to Celia, people wouldn’t think about how little their children looked like Robert. She appeared mollified by that reasoning. 

“I will always love you, Cersei.” May the gods damn him for it, but he knew it would always be true. 

It’s why he would never deserve Celia. It’s why he didn’t love her. All his love was split amongst his children and Cersei. 

Before they left, Cersei became nicer to Celia, although Jaime could see the cruelness of it all.

“I hope it’s a girl,” Cersei told her before she left. “Then perhaps we can have a little bride for Tommen.”

Celia had smiled, but said nothing. Jaime knew she wanted their children to find love for themselves. Gods, he hoped for that too. 

When his sister was far enough away from Casterly Rock, Jaime held his wife in his arms.

“I’ve missed you.”

Celia wrapped her arms around his waist. “I’m right here.”

Jaime cupped her face in his hands and kissed her. She froze for a moment before sinking into the kiss. It began chaste, merely his lips pressed to hers, as they had the last time they had kissed—in the sept on their wedding day. However, it evolved into so much more. 

His tongue glided across the seam of her lips and she opened her mouth to him. He pillaged the inside, fighting her tongue for dominance as her arms slid up his chest arms around his neck. She moaned against him as she tried to pull him closer. He knew she could feel his hardness against her and he knew what he needed and hoped she needed the same. 

Jaime reached down and began to pull up her skirt. Celia made quick work of pulling his shirt from his pants. She undid the laces of his trousers and reached in and grabbed his length. Jaime hissed and began to rut against her hand. 

“Gods, I want to be inside you,” he growled as he pulled away to breath, backing her against her vanity. “Paint your inside with my spend until you’re dripping with it.”

His lips descended upon hers once more and he moaned as her tongue invaded his mouth. Exploring it. Pillaging it. Drinking from it. She gasped when he lifted her up into the vanity, her legs wrapping around his hips, her hand still around his cock. He pulled at her wrist until she let go. He took both wrists and put them on his shoulders. 

“I need you to hold on, love,” he whispered hoarsely as he released her mouth. “I need you to hold on because I can’t hold back. I can’t.” He buried his face in her neck, beginning to nip and suck at the exposed skin. “Tell me if I’m hurting you—gods you’re already dripping.”

He pushed her thighs apart and could already feel how ready she was. Jaime sheathed himself with in her with a grunt. Celia’s arms were around his neck again, her fingers fisting in his hair. She cried out and he stilled for a moment before her heel dug into his back. Then, he let go. 

He began to pound into her. Pulling almost all the way out before sheathing himself back in again, bottoming out each time with a cry from Celia punctuating every thrust. His lips would slide up to hers and he would kiss her again, as though he had broken a dam and would not be able to stop until asked. 

“That’s it!” He roared as Celia’s nails began to dig into his back. “That’s it! Gods, love—” he needed more. He wanted more. He nipped at her bottom lip, sucking it into his mouth. 

Celia moaned. She took one of his hands that was clenching her thigh and slid it between them, spreading his fingers so they could both feel him disappearing in her. He felt her release and his vision went white. 

“Celia!”

When things became clear again, Celia was leaning back against the mirror, panting. Her eyes were closed, her hands resting on his hands. Her foot still pulling him slightly into rutting into her until he went soft. 

His hands went to her belly, holding her gently. “Did I hurt you?”

She shook her hand, opening her eyes to his. Celia sat up and leaned forward, wrapping her arms around his neck again.

Her kiss was so sweet and gentle that it almost made Jaime cry.

Chapter Text

Celia watched as Vylarr cloaked Avari in green and silver. 

As a wedding present and a thank you for their service to his family, Tywin had sent a request to Robert that the two might be allowed to form their own house. The king had granted them the name Woodville. Avari and Celia had spent hours finding the right sigil for the new house. Avari, with the help of Vaylar, decided upon a silver butterfly upon a green shield. Vylarr had come up with their new house’s words. Freedom. It was a simple word, yet it meant so much. 

Celia smiled as Avari stood and took Vylarr’s hands in hers. When the Essosi man had asked Avari for her hand, Celia’s friend had said yes so quickly that she had coughed and said yes a little more slowly. 

Celia was happy for her friend and couldn’t wait for the two to start their own family soon. She knew how much Avari loved and wanted children of her own. 

Jaime had his hand on the small of her back as she leaned against him. “They’ll be very happy,” he said, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. 

“They will.” Celia was certain of it.

Celia gasped as her husband continued his attention on the apex of her thighs. She gripped his hair tightly, grinding herself against his face as he groaned against her. The vibrations of his mouth tipped her over and she cried out in her release. His tongue lapped at her hungrily, as though he were a man in a desert and she were his chosen oasis. 

When he had licked her through her release, he pulled away, letting her legs slide off his shoulders. Jaime crawled up to her and pressed his lips against her own. Celia opened her mouth lazily as he plundered hers with slow tips of his tongue. She could taste herself and she shuddered as his fingers slid against her lower lips.

“Can you do it one more time, love? Two?”

She nodded and cried out as his fingers began to thrust into her heat. Her head rolled back as she moaned, his lips slid across the column of her neck, sucking marks into her skin.

“That’s it,” he growled as she neared her second release. “That’s it. Gods.”

She had barely finished when off of the bed, dragging her by the ankles to the edge. His pants were down and his cock stood at attention, looking almost painful. Jaime had her by the hips and sheathed himself to the hilt inside her. 

“Gods, you’re perfect.” He threw his head back and groaned as he began to rut into her. “So perfect.” The lazy drag of his cock sent shivers up Celia’s spine as she began to grope her breasts. “That’s it,” he encouraged. “Gods, look at you. So beautiful. You’re taking me so well, love. Like you were made for me.”

He was beginning to babble as he sometimes did when they were taking it slow. She loved it. Loved when he made her feel like the only woman in the world. When he made her feel like the most loved. She wished she could tell him how much she wanted him to go faster. Wished she could beg him to go harder. Instead, she pressed her heel into his back urging him onward. 

He did so. 

Jaime’s hips snapped into hers and Celia cried out with every thrust. Yes, she wanted to scream as he brought her to pleasure again. Yes!

“Celia—” He spilled into her, hot and fast. While still sheathed within her, Jaime bent over and pressed his face into the valley of her breasts.

She brushed her fingers through his hair and promptly fell asleep, boneless. 

Dearest Ce,

I’m happy to announce that I am with child again!

Ned was ecstatic when I told him. We’re still keeping it quiet since it is still in the early stages of the pregnancy, but I just had to tell you. It seems we are fated to have many children together.

Love,

Cat

It was a new position. She sat astride him on his cock. His hands were at his hips as she rode him carefully, not wanting to jostle the baby too much. She gasped as he began to thrust up into her, bouncing her on his hips, barely leaving her body before plunging up. 

“Gods,” Jaime gasped. “You’re beautiful.” He grunted. “Just like that. Just like that!”

He kept hitting that place inside her and Celia had already come once like this already. She liked it, liked the way it made her feel. Loved the way she could see her husband come apart underneath her. She let her head fall back as she released a silent scream, her husband roaring his release up into her as well. 

Jaime rested his head on her large belly, his ear pressed against her. Sansa was next to him, her face buried against the fabric of her dress. Arthur was curled around Celia, his cheek rested against the top of her belly. Mya was behind Jaime, reading on his back. The girl had her arms around Celia’s, her eyes trained in her belly, waiting for movement.

While Celia could feel the baby flutter, it would be a while before the others could feel anything. Even so, Celia felt content in her family’s embrace. 

She was on her knees, gripping the headboard of their bed. Jaime was behind her, thrusting up into her with heated strokes. Celia had become ravenous in her need for him and he had seemed to match her need with enthusiasm. 

His hands were on her hips guiding her to meet him thrust for thrust. “So tight,” he ground out. “So perfect. Gods, Celia.”

She brought one of his hands to her breast and squeezed. He groaned as he began to fondle her. 

“Fit so well,” he panted. 

She was out of breath as well, returning her grip to the headboard. Celia moaned. 

Yes. Yes!

She came apart for him and he came soon after. 

Celia froze as she felt the baby move. She had felt the baby flutter for a while now, however this felt so much stronger. Carefully putting her hand on her stomach, Celia felt a kick to her hand. She smiled brightly. 

“Ari, could you go get, Jaime and send him to his study? The baby is moving and I want him to feel it.”

Avari smiled. “Are you that far along already, Ce? Gods, it won’t be but a few more months and we’ll have the little one here yet. I’ll go get your husband now.”

The two women went their separate ways. Celia made her way to her husband’s study, smiling the entire way.

“You wanted to see me, love?” Jaime asked as he entered the study. 

Love. Celia did not know whether to laugh or cry. “I have saved every letter you have ever given me,” Celia said softly. “I… I knew our marriage was arranged, a way for you to escape punishment for killing King Aerys. Even so, I kept every letter. I thought it would be something to show the children one day. Show how their parents built a marriage that turned from duty to caring and maybe even love. I had thought, perhaps, you thought the same.”

“Celia?”

“Dearest Cersei,” she read. She had not meant to find the letter, but it had been so easy to, placed on top of his others in his drawer. She had found it when putting away some of his other correspondents. Ignorance would have been preferred, but now there was no going back. “I believe a betrothal is too soon. Our son and my daughter haven’t even begun their first year of life.” Each word built a wall around her heart, one so ready to be torn down when she was told such words were false. She looked up and found all color had drained from her husband’s face. So, he did know of this unfinished letter. Tell me it’s wrong. “Is this true?” Her voice shook.

“Celia—”

She stood up from his chair and went to him, thrusting the paper to his chest. “Is this true? Is Joffrey your son?”

He looked away from her. 

No, look at me! Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me this is wrong. She wanted him to hold her, to press kisses to her face and tell her that she was wrong that this letter wasn’t his. That this was someone who wished to discredit him. 

“He is.”

Celia stumbled away from him. His. The son he had been present for. The son he had chosen over Sansa. The tears finally began to slide down her cheeks. As the wall around her heart began to crumble, the debris weighing on her chest. “Myrcella and Tommen?”

Robert’s. Tell me! Tell me you only went to her so soon after we were married!

“Mine.”

Celia gasped, covering her mouth with her hand as she looked away. She felt his hand on her shoulder and she yanked herself away. “Don’t touch me!” She wrapped her arms protectively around their unborn child. Her child. The child she had thought would he born out of love. 

“Celia, please—”

Don’t take another step in my direction,” Celia held her hands out to separate them, as though he were an enemy coming to attack. When he froze, she wrapped her arms around her belly. “Don’t think you can talk your way out of this, Ser Jaime.” Gods, she had not called him that in years. 

“Celia, please. I have loved Cersei since I was a boy. Robert was abusive in the beginning. I—”

“So you fucked her to make it better?” Her husband looked jarred by her word choice. “No,” she laughed. “That’s wrong, shall I use your word then? You made love to her to make it better?” Something clicked into place. “Is that why you were already a mess on our wedding night?” Tell me it isn’t true. “Is that where you went after you fucked me like a whore?”

His expression was utterly broken. “Celia—”

“Gods. Oh, gods.” She turned away from him again as sobs began to wrack her body. “Is that why you took me from behind?” She asked. “So you could imagine it was her ? When we made our son, our daughter, this child, was it always her? Did you imagine I was Cersei? Was that the only way you could stomach fucking me?”

“Celia, I— Please. It started out that way, but—”

“But what?” She turned on him. “But you felt pity for me? Poor little fish .” He winced. “She’s never been with a man before. She’ll never know anything else. I suppose I should appease her in some ways. Treat her as a whore, she won’t know the difference.”

“You aren’t a whore, Celia,” Ser Jaime pleaded. 

“You treated me as one! As some mistress you have kept in your bed while—” The baby kicked and her eyes fluttered closed. She wrapped her one arm around her belly, the other hand went to the desk and helped lower herself into the floor as another sob tore at her throat. Gods, the children. The children!

Ser Jaime was by her side in an instant. “Celia, please, it might have been like that in the beginning, but I never—”

“Never what?!” Her gaze snapped back to him. “Never took me to bed because you couldn’t claim your children with her? Never treated me as though I were the dirt beneath your feet afterwards? Treated me as though I was an inconvenience whenever I needed something?”

“I never lied to you,” he urged. “I never said I loved you.”

Celia felt whatever strength she had in her body crumble within her. Her heart was torn as though a lion had ravaged it with its teeth and claws. “But I loved you , Ser Jaime.” There was nothing left in her to cry for. There had never been anything to cry for. Nothing real, anyway. “But I love you.”

Chapter Text

“But I loved you , Ser Jaime,” she said, her voice hollow and quiet. She looked at him, her eyes void of any of the care she had once given him. “But I loved you.”

Her voice echoed in his mind. 

Loved him. No, that was impossible. He was… he was worthless, less than worthless. He didn’t, nor ever would, deserve a woman like her. How could it even be possible that someone like her could ever love a man like him. How? He had been so certain that it was impossible, he had never imagined—

His heart ached in his chest. 

“Celia, please— I… things are different now.”

“Different?” Celia huffed out a laugh. She reached for the desk to pull herself up, refusing his offered hand. “Please, Ser, tell me what is different.” She managed to stand on her own. “It all makes sense now, your sister’s cruel words. I suppose I am to understand this child was a mistake. An accident you did not mean to have.”

She wrapped her arms around her bulging belly and Jaime felt sick. She was protecting their child from him. “Celia, it’s not like that! Please, just listen—”

“No! I’ve listened to you for almost four years! I’ve let you speak your way into my heart and rip it from my chest and toss it aside.” She was no longer crying, but she sounded so very broken. “Based on your words I had let myself believe that you cared, that you loved me in your own way, but now I see that I was wrong. You do not get to speak! You do not get to talk your way out of this! This was your decision. You made your bed.” She shuddered at the word. “Lie in it. For I will never play the part of your wife again.”

Jaime’s eyes widened. No. No. No! He held her by the arms. “No, Celia! Please don’t—” Leave me

“Tell?” she finished for him. She laughed callously. “And who would I tell that does not put our children, my children, at risk? If people knew, do you have any idea what that would do to them, to their prospects? My son would lose all the respect he will have earned as your heir . Sansa will be considered worthless and this child…” She took in a sharp breath. “You have trapped me, Ser. Do not worry, I will tell no one. I will honor you and take no lovers and give my bed or body to anyone. Unlike you, I will not risk the livelihood of my children. I will do my duty to you and play the part of wife when we are in public. That is my lot in this life for I swore vows that I intend to uphold. In all things I will be your wife and in law and name. In no other ways will I view you as my husband. You have forfeit all rights to my heart! You forfeit the place in our bed! You can sleep in your study for all I care! From this moment on I am not your wife, but a stranger you must learn to live with. I will be a mother to your children, this family, for they have done nothing and are innocent of all you have done.”

Jaime felt his voice lodge in his throat. “Celia,” he choked out. “Please…”

“When the time comes, you can explain to the children the pain and embarrassment you put their mother through.” She looked up at him in such anger and hatred that he could no longer speak. “Men always work on their legacy, but when will you learn that they are your legacy! We are your legacy!”

“Ce—”

She stormed to the fire and threw the unfinished letter into the fire. Celia turned to him, her red hair illuminated by the flames. “Congratulations, you are free of me, Ser. You need not force yourself to pretend you have ever cared for me. Feel free to return to your Cersei and the children you so obviously prefer.” She put a hand to her stomach, reaching with the other and pulling a handkerchief out of her pocket. She thrust it into his chest, letting go before he had time to hold it. “You need not pretend you ever wanted us.”

His wife turned and left him in the study, the world around Jaime felt as though it had gone silent and still.

Jaime did not know how long her stood there, letting Celia’s words sink into his skin like bruises. He felt dirty. He felt like scum of the earth. He bent over, fisting at his hair. No. This could not be over. He could not have lost her. 

The only woman he ever truly lo—

Jaime opened his eyes, pain seeping into his very bones. The only woman he had ever loved.

A humorless laugh escaped his lips. Now he saw it. Now he saw those feelings he had mistaken for caring were truly love. The lust he had felt towards his wife was the need to make her feel good, to feel cherished. Love is what made him put her pleasure always before his own. 

And now he has lost her. Lost her because he was a stupid man who never learned. A stupid man who had thought he loved his sister because she was the only women he had known for so long. A woman who once had dreams of Rhaegar, then Robert. A woman who would always throw him away for a crown she craved. A woman who loved him because he was easy, because he had given up a family in a time when he had not even thought far enough ahead for. 

Jaime looked down at the handkerchief Celia had dropped. He bent down and picked it up. It was his handkerchief, something his mother had made for him when he was a child. He had not seen it in years. Why did Celia have it?

Suddenly, the memory stirred. The smell of fire and burnt flesh seering into his nostrils, screams of agony echoing across his mind. A girl crying in the gardens. He had offered her the handkerchief, not once thinking of ever having it returned. The girl had thanked him. She had asked if he was alright and he had almost answered but Ser Arthur had called him away. 

Gods. He had met his wife before. He had been kind to her before. She had been kind to him. He had known her for so much longer. If he had just remembered her. 

Jaime roared in anguish. His vision as red as his house colors, letting himself disappear in his anger. 

When he came into himself again, his study was in ruins. His desk was turned over, the papers scattered across the floor. Any letter he had received from Cersei burning in the crackling fire. 

Jaime fell to his knees in the chaos.

This was his fault. His fault. 

He had given himself once more to Cersei for almost nothing. 

Pain bloomed in his chest as a sob tore from his lips. Gods, he loved his wife and now she would no longer be his. She could never be his. Cersei still threatened her, still threatened Celia. He could not endanger her so. 

Jaime buried his face in his hands, wishing to disappear inside. Make the pain stop. But he deserved it. He deserved all of it. 

His wife moved from their rooms in the time that it took Jaime to clean up the physical mess he had made. When he entered his rooms for the night, any trace of her was gone. It was as though she were never there. 

It hurt. It hurt so much. 

Jaime curled up on her side of the bed and fell asleep in sheets that still smelled vaguely of her. 

Jaime took Arthur and Mya to the horse track, making sure the Mountain was elsewhere. The two children enjoyed petting the horses and watching them race. While Arthur was still a little young, Mya had begun to learn how to ride. Robert has gifted her a pony to learn on during his last visit. 

Mya and Arthur watched the stablehand with rapt attention as he explained how to take care of the animal. Jaime had to smile. His children were smart, much more clever than he was. His father had commented as much when Jaime gave Tywin reports on the goings on of the keep. 

“Uncle Jaime?”

“Yes, Mya?” He glanced at Arthur, who was being held by the stablehand to pet the horse before turning his full attention to Mya.

“Are you and Aunt Celia fighting?”

His throat tightened. “Why would you think that, sweetling?”

“You don’t share a room anymore.”

“No, we don’t,” Jaime nodded. 

“So does that mean you’re fighting?”

“In a way.”

“Why?”

“It’s a grownup thing,” he told her. Jaime ruffled Mya’s dark curls. “You don’t need to worry about it. Okay?”

Mya watched him for a long moment before nodding, returning her attention to the horse. 

“Someone has upset their wife,” Tyrion said casually as he sat in Jaime’s study to work on some of the things the maester had given him to work on. 

“And why do you say that, little brother?”

“If it weren’t for the fact that she’s moved to the other room again, it’s obvious that you haven’t been laid in a good long while. Well, outside using your hand.”

Jaime grit his teeth together. “Is there a point to your observation?”

Tyrion shrugged. “An observation doesn’t necessarily need a point.”

Jaime sighed. “Shall we go visit Lannisport? I feel like getting out of the keep for just a moment.”

Tyrion shrugged. “Why not.”

Along the way, Jaime and Tyrion came upon a woman being accosted. Already in a sour mood, Jaime chased down the men who fled at the sight of them. Once he had apprehended the men, he returned to check on his brother and the girl they had rescued, only to find them both gone. 

Jaime spent some time with Sansa. His darling girl had brightened when she saw him, reaching for him so he would pick her up. He held her in his arms, holding her tight. 

She looked so much like her mother already, save for the eyes. They were as green as his own. 

“One day, when you’re old enough, we’ll help you find a match worthy of you. Someone brave, gentle, and strong.” He kissed her red hair. “Someone not like me. Never like me.”

Chapter Text

The servants felt the shift in Celia’s marriage just as she did.

Ser Jaime began leaving flowers for her daily. A rose, a daisy, lavender. It differed depending on the day. She would find them laid out on her pillow. Celia has inquired if her husband ever entered her rooms. She was told he did not and had Mya or Arthur place the flowers there. 

At one point in their marriage, Celia might have found it charming. But now it felt hollow. 

She would not share his secret. She would not risk her children or their place in this world. He did not need to bribe her with gifts of flowers. 

Those were the actions of a lover. 

Ser Jaime did not love her. 

And what little love remained in her heart belonged to their children. 

They learned two weeks later that Tyrion had married the girl he and Jaime had rescued. Celia had never been more afraid of Lord Tywin in all her years at Casterly Rock. Her good father was furious. So much so that Celia pressed a hand to her belly, as though to shield her child from its grandfather’s rage. 

She knew that Lord Tywin has never cared for his younger son. She could almost understand, and yet she could not. Once upon a time she could not imagine a life without Ser Jaime by her side but now she had to learn to live with it. A part of her hated his other children, the children he had made with his sister. 

Once the infidelity had settled in the recognition of who he had made his bed with had sunk in. Avari had found her crying in her rooms as Celia burned every single letter Ser Jaime had even given her. She even burned the red shawl he had given her for the pregnancy with Sansa. She would rather grow cold than accept any warmth from him. 

Sometimes she hated the children he had made with Cersei. But then she remembered that they were innocent of their parents’ crimes. Innocent as her own were. It was not their fault that Ser Jaime loved them more. 

She listened as her good father raged. Then she heard his plans for the girl. 

“You cannot!” Celia shouted. 

See Jaime winced from where he stood and Lord Tywin froze. 

“Cannot?” her good father said carefully. 

“You cannot punish the girl. Annul the marriage if you must but she should not come to harm.” She stood straighter, hand on her belly. “What if she is with child. Your grandchild?”

“It would be no grandchild of mine,” Lord Tywin said tightly. 

“Call Tyrion back to Casterly Rock. Let me handle the poor girl.”

“And what will you do?” Jaime asked. “Ce—my lady, you are too close to giving birth to head down to where they live.”

“I am well enough to walk and talk, Ser.” Her husband winced at her tone. 

“And your plan?” Lord Tywin urged.

“The Septon will annul the marriage, I have no doubt you have your ways,” she said. “You will inform Tyrion of this while I am speaking to his wife. I will convince her it is better for her to find sanctuary with my eldest sister and her lord husband in the North. Should she be with child, I will send money to care for her and them. If there is not a child, I will still send money for the girl to have a dowry, should she wish to get remarried.”

“What will you need?” her good father asked. 

“A small carriage that will escort her North and a part of my allowance to give to her for the journey.”

“Done.”

“Let me be the one to speak to Tyrion afterwards,” Celia said gently. “He deserves to hear it with kindness.l

She felt bad for her younger good brother, but she knew that such a marriage would not be able to continue. It was not fair for the girl to be stuck within their strict family and it was not fair to Tyrion to earn any more of his father’s ire. She was protecting them both. She prayed to all the gods that this was the right decision. 

Dear Cat,

While I plan on sending you another letter to arrive before the one holding this does, I shall still reiterate the contents of the other letter in case it somehow becomes lost. 

The girl carrying this letter is named Tysha. She ran into a group of horrible men and was rescued by my husband and good brother during one of their rides into Lannisport. She married Lord Tyrion, however my good father does not approve of the marriage and is having it annulled due to the septon being drunk upon their union and there being no witnesses. They were married for two weeks and am unsure if there will be any child that may come from this union. 

I am sending money with her that might help with the costs, whether it be for the babe or herself. I will send monthly payments to you where they can be either be used for the babe or a dowry in case she wishes to get married again. 

Be kind to her Cat. Although I know her not, she isn’t at fault for what has become of her situation. I fear this place is a true lion’s den and she might be swallowed while should she continue to live here. Let her find a position in your keep. 

Also, if a child does come from the union, please give them the name Hill, unless the mother wishes otherwise or, should she remarry, the stepfather wishes the babe to take his own name. 

I pray you and your own babe are well. I am nearing the end of my own pregnancy and the maester said I have barely a month to go before this child comes. 

Give my love to sweet Ned and my beautiful niece and nephews. 

Your loving sister,

Ce

Celia knocked on the door as soon as she saw Tyrion leave far enough away on his horse. She felt the baby kick and she rubbed her belly soothingly. Her first letter to Cat had already been sent. She prayed the raven was swift. 

The door opened and Celia found a girl not much older than Tyrion standing before her. She was a pretty girl dark hair and tanned skin. If Celia were to guess, the girls family may have hailed from Myr. She looked sweet and innocent. 

The girl looked up at Celia, her face turned ashen. 

“I mean you no harm,” she said gently. “May I come in?”

The girl looked down at Celia’s bulging belly and nodded, letting Celia into the quaint little cottage. “May I help you, my lady?”

“I am here to help you,” Celia replied. “Your name is Tysha, correct?” The girl nodded. “I am Celia Lannister, Tyrion is my good brother.”

Her eyes grew big. “Are you going to hurt me?”

Celia’s heart broke. “No, sweet girl. I may be a lion by marriage, but I am a trout at heart. And even in these circumstances, you are my family now.”

“Why are you here?”

Celia took the girl’s hands in hers. “Lord Tyrion’s father is having the marriage annulled, more so he is making it as though it never happened.”

Tears began to spring from Tysha’s deep brown eyes and Celia gathered the girl into her arms as a mother might. “I am so sorry, but I cannot fight my good father’s will and I cannot allow you to be torn apart by the lions.” From her cloak she pulled out the letter to Cat and a purse of gold coins. “Take these and I have a carriage waiting for you just down the road. It will take you Morth to my eldest sister and her husband. They will take you into their home. You and your child, if you carry one.”

“Cannot Tyrion come with me?” Tysha cried, not taking the purse or the letter.

“No, sweet girl, he can’t.”

“But I love him!” She buried her face into her hands and sobbed. “He is my hero, like in the songs. I love him and he loves me!”

Celia lifted the girl’s face and smiled sadly. “Life is not like the songs, sweetling. Songs make sad tales sound sweet.” The girl continued to cry and Celia rubbed her back gently. “If you are, indeed, with child, think of them. Lord Tywin will give you no support. At least your child will have a chance at a good life in the North. Find happiness, Tysha. Even if one door closes, another might open.” It took a few more sweet words to convince the girl. “One of my companions, a woman named Avari, is waiting for you by the carriage.” She kissed Tysha’s cheek. “My sister and good brother will be waiting for you.”

“What of Tyrion?”

Celia loved this girl who loved her good brother so. “He will be fine. He will continue his dreams of dragons, I am sure. Now, go.”

Celia waited in the house Tyrion had made for himself. Minutes later Avari entered. “She left, the poor girl. She was still sobbing when she left.”

“She is leaving the man she loves,” Celia said. “Her heart is broken.”

“Damn lions,” Avari said with venom. “I think the children are the only good ones.”

Celia smiled and rubbed her belly. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. 

Family. Duty. Honor. 

Celia waited with Avari in the cottage. 

The door burst open and Tyrion ran through. He looked so distraught and Celia’s heart broke for him. 

“Where is she?!” He roared, tears in his eyes. 

“She’s gone, Tyrion,” Celia said gently, standing from her seat. 

“No! You’re lying.”

“I’m not.” She took a breath. A kind lie. He needed to move on. He needed to not hold onto her. If he held on, Lord Tywin might make her life more difficult up north. “Your father offered her money and she took it. She’s gone, Tyrion.”

“No! She loved me! She loved me!”

“I’m sorry, Tyrion.” He pulled at his hair and screamed. Celia went to comfort him. 

“Don’t touch me!” He lashed out, pushing her away. 

Avari screamed as Celia fell to the ground. Her friend rushed to her to help her up while Tyrion looked at her in horror. 

“Ce! Are you alright?” 

“I…” She felt a wetness between her legs. Celia saw water on the floor where she had fallen. “My water broke.”

Chapter Text

The keep was in chaos. 

When news of his wife’s water breaking reached them, everything went to the seven hells. Celia was rushed as quickly as she could back into Casterly Rock. Vylarr had her in his arms when he came in, a pale Tyrion behind him with Avari crying and nearly inconsolable. Jaime had taken his wife into his arms and rushed her to his rooms, which were closer. He did not care if they became a mess, his wife needed to lay down. 

Celia was crying and screaming at the pain. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong. He could see blood blooming across the skirt of her dress and Jaime could hear nothing against the roar of blood in his ears. 

It’s too early , his brain screamed. The baby is too early. 

He was panicking, he knew that. He should not have let her go alone, no matter how much she had not wanted him with her. He should have insisted. How had this even happened? He pushed the thoughts away and focused on his wife. Celia needed him now. She needed him to be present. 

Jaime set his wife down onto his bed as the maester hurried to them. “I fear the child has been dislodged,” the old man said. “We need to get the baby out quickly.”

“Please,” Celia sobbed. “Please, please, please, please .” 

“Induce the labor then,” Jaime ordered. “Do whatever your have to to save my wife and child.”

“Yes, Ser,” the maester nodded. 

“You need to leave now, Ser,” a midwife said. “The birthing room is no place—”

Jaime ignored the woman and turned to his wife, kneeling next to her on the bed and taking her hand in his. “Tell me to leave now, Celia. Tell me to leave and I will pace outside.” 

Celia was still crying and Jaime did not know if she would have wanted him there under better circumstances. However she squeezed his hand tightly. 

“Stay,” she cried, her blue eyes were clouded with worry, her red hair plastered to her face with sweat. 

“Then I shall stay.” He turned and glared at everyone else in the room as they began to work before returning his attention to Celia. “It’s going to be okay, love.”

“Jaime…” 

“Shhhh…”

“I still… want the same names…”

“You’ll be the first to name them,” he assured her.

“She needs to drink this,” the midwife said, handing her a cup of some sort of tea. 

“What is it?” Jaime asked, helping Celia take a sip. 

“Steeped herbs that will help induce contractions quickly.”

Jaime nodded as Celia continued to cry. He kissed her hand. “It’s going to be alright, love. It’s going to be alright.”

He let her squeeze his hand as the contractions began, praying to all the gods that listened that both Celia and their babe would be alright. 

Joanna Lannister was born in the early evening, just as the sun began to set along the horizon. She had wisps of golden hair. While her eyes were a shocking blue, the maester seemed to think that they might darken into a green as Sansa’s had. She was small too. So small that Jaime had worried. 

“She may have breathing problems,” the maester had said. “Most children born too early do. She might not be able to run around as often as the little lord and lady do, but I shall keep an eye on her.”

Jaime held his youngest daughter in his arms. He pressed soft kisses to her face as she wiggled in his arms. She was beautiful, this daughter they made out of love. He kissed her again. He was so sorry he had ruined this for them, ruined the chance to be the father she and Sansa and Arthur and even Mya’s chance of having him be the man he should have been, could have been. 

Jaime carried the baby to Celia who was still exhausted from birth. “She’s beautiful, love,” he said, carefully handing the baby to his wife. “You did so well.”

Celia looked at the little girl in her arms. “Joanna,” she said with a smile. “My little Joanna.”

Jaime bent down and pressed a kiss to the top of Celia’s head. “I’ll go tell the children you’re alright. I’ll let you bond with Joanna.”

She nodded, not looking at him. 

He watched her for a moment before turning to let the midwives and maester finish their business. 

“How is she?” his father asked, little Sansa in his arms. 

Jaime took his oldest daughter and pressed a kiss to her red curls. “They’re both fine. Joanna Lannister was born with a little complication, but the maester said she would be healthy, we just need to keep an eye on her breathing.”

He saw his father’s shoulders sag in relief. Jaime’s four year old son went to him and held onto his pants. “Mama okay?”

Jaime smiled down at his son. “‘Mother’s okay.” He knelt down and hugged his two older children. He looked over and saw Mya shifting on her feet. “Come here.”

She came to him quickly and Jaime wrapped his arms around all three of them. “Can we go in?” Maya asked. 

“Just a moment,” he said. “It was hard on her, we don’t want to overwhelm her.”

The children nodded. 

Celia was underneath him and he knew it was a dream. A cruel one, but one he did not want to wake from. She was crying out his name as he pounded the air out of her lunges. Gods. He touched her body and missed it. 

Celia . Her name was a prayer on his lips. She was no goddess but he would worship her like one. His alter were her hips and pressed where he would pour all his devotion into. 

Jaime woke up with a groan, his cock hard and wanting. 

He knew some men would just go to their wife’s rooms and take their marital rights then and there. He knew Rhaegar had. He knew full well Aerys did. Jaime closed his eyes and pushed those men away. 

Burn them all. 

He fisted at his cock and began to work himself to a release. 

You’re a good man, Ser Jaime.

“Celia—” Her name came out with a grunt on his release. 

He could do with his hand. Unless Cersei threatened his wife and children again, Jaime would take no woman but his wife into his bed. Even if Cersei forced him once more, he would close his eyes and think of Celia and his children. He would do anything to protect them. 

While Celia continued to heal from the birth, Jaime spent time distracting his other children with games and trips to Lannisport. 

Mya was seven and had become more active. Although his father didn’t really approve, he gave her sword lessons. For all that she was the king's daughter and Jaime’s own daughter in all ways but blood, he knew that her bastard status would give men the reason to think she was not wanted. If he didn’t know that Cersei might bring harm to all of his family, Jaime would have asked Robert to have her legitimized. Even so, he daughter the sword, and, from what Jaime could already see, she was going to be good. 

At four, Arthur was taking his lessons with reluctance, but Jaime occasionally sat in on his lessons so his son could see they were really important. Jaime smiled at the memory at his son’s shock as he watched Jaime taking “notes” during the lessons. Arthur was his heir. Jaime knew that meant there would be certain roads his son could not take. However, Jaime wanted to give his son as much freedom as possible. He wanted to give his son a happier childhood than his own.

At two, Sansa was truly beginning to babble. She had even found her favorite phrase. Love you . She said it to almost anyone and everything that passed her by. Sansa Lannister has the entire keep wrapped around her pinky toe. She waved to everyone and told them love you . Most of the servants would bow and curtsy to the little lady and say they loved her too. It made Jaime smile.

Joanna was small still and the maester didn’t like her leaving the keep, Jaime would walk the babe around and rubbed her back whenever she napped on his chest. The maester said it would help her lungs. Jaime hopes his daughter would grow up healthy. 

Jaime did not force himself into Celia’s bed chambers, but continued to send her flowers. He ordered more lemon trees to be planted in the gardens so they wouldn’t have to rely so heavily on Dorne for the amount they often needed for his wife. Although she might crave them less now that she was no longer pregnant, but Jaime wanted his wife to want for nothing. 

She should want for nothing. 

Jaime woke up to the sound of crying echoing across the stones of the keep. He sat up and got out of bed. The crying continued and grew louder as he left his rooms and went towards Celia’s. He paused for a moment before knocking. 

“Come in,” her voice frantic. 

He entered and found his wife hobbling around her room trying to calm their crying daughter. Celia’s eyes were full of tears as she did so. Jaime wasn’t even certain she registered that he had been the one to enter the room. 

“She won’t stop crying,” his wife sobbed. “She won’t stop.” Jaime we go Celia and took their daughter from her arms and into his own. “No—”

“This isn’t helping either of you,” he said gently. Jaime guided her to her bed. “You need to lay down and rest. Is this a hungry cry?”

She shook her head. “No.”

“Then you can sleep . You need that too.” He tucked his wife into her sheets once she settled. 

“Joanna—”

“I won’t leave the room,” he assured her. “I’ll walk her around the room. Just rest. The maester said you haven’t fully healed yet.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I asked so I would know how to help you.” He smiled at her reassuringly. “Just rest.”

Jaime began to rock their crying daughter as he walked around the room. Her small fists waved in the air, occasionally hitting him in the chest. Jaime pressed soft kisses to her eyes as he whispered things to her. 

“We have to let your mother sleep, sweetling. She worked really hard to bring you into this world. How about we just bother your old father here and let your mother sleep.” He continued to rock her as he shifted her only slightly. His daughter’s cries were lessening. “That’s it, sweetling. Mother will still be here when you wake up next. But let’s let her sleep for a bit. Okay? There’s my little girl. You’re definitely a lion with those lungs. That maester doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” He could tell that his daughter was exhausting herself. He noticed the way she would pant between cries as though finding air difficult to find. It broke his heart. “Just sleep for a little bit longer, sweet girl. Just a little bit and everything will be okay.”

Jaime continued to rock her until Joanna finally drifted to sleep. He glanced over and found Celia passed out under her sheets, exhaustion finally catching up to her. He tucked their daughter into her crib before checking on Celia. She was still in a deep sleep and Jaime pulled more covers over her to keep her warm. He leaned down and kissed the top of her head. “I love you, Celia,” he breathed against her hair. “I love you.”

He left the room soon after that and returned to his own. He fell asleep, wishing there was some way he could find some way for Celia to forgive him. She would never have to invite him to her bed again. She didn’t have to ever love him again, but Jaime missed his wife. 

He missed his friend.

Chapter Text

Two years seemed to go buy quickly for Celia.

Perhaps it was because her focus remained solely on her children who had grown so quickly in the past two years. Ser Jaime had been such a constant, even when he had gone to King’s Landing. Life had felt slower. 

She hated herself for it, but she missed him. Missed the husband she thought loved her. She missed his arms wrapped firmly around her as they slept. She missed the way his lips slid across her skin as he made his way down her body. She missed the way her brought her to pleasure over and over. She missed the hand that held hers whenever they walked the gardens together. She missed the man who defended her. She missed her friend. 

Her bed felt lonely at nights and sometimes she wanted to believe the flowers he left her men and something. She wanted to believe he loved her. Sometimes she wanted to go to his rooms and beg him to take her as he had in the beginning. Let him imagine she was Cersei. She just wanted him in any way she could have him. 

But she never went near his rooms. She found relief with her fingers, although it wasn’t enough. Never enough. In those moments she often found herself in tears. Of course she was not enough. She hadn’t been enough for him. How could she be enough in that way? 

She missed him. 

And she hated herself for it. 

At least Ser Jaime did not neglect the children. He spent every moment available to him with their children. He helped Mya is her growing interest in archery. Even if it wasn’t his preferred choice of weapon. He took Arthur to his meetings and helped their son learn what he must do as heir. Ser Jaime took an interest in their son’s love of learning and hired another tutor who taught in Valyrian for their son. He spent time with Sansa, indulging in her games of monsters and maidens. He got her tutors as well to help her growing interest in history and so forth. Even Lord Tywin had found interest in Sansa’s noticeable intelligence. And with little Joanna, Ser Jaime doted on and held her whenever he could. He loved that little girl. 

Celia wished she knew what it was like to receive such love and attention from her husband, but at least he was being a father to their children. It’s all she could truly ask for. 

Ser Jaime and Lord Tywin has made plenty of trips to King’s Landing over the past two years. It was always at the request of Robert, who called the lords able to come three times a year to help see what needed to be done to keep the lands in check. Ser Jaime would say goodbye to all of them, leaving Celia for last. He would kiss her hand and tell her he would return soon and ask that she write him. She rarely did unless she needed to inform him of something. 

She hated imagining him entangled with his sister. Hate the thought of him bearing himself to her and seeing her in their couplings. She hated how she aches for him. She hated how he had never even given them a chance. 

When he and Lord Tywin would return, Celia would await the news that the queen was with child once more. But such news never came. 

Ser Jaime and Lord Tywin were, once again, away from Casterly Rock. Celia sat down for a moment on one of the stone benches as she watched her children play. Avari sat beside her, cradling her growing belly with her hand. 

At nine, Mya was all smiles and muddy skirts. While Celia attempted to instil some courtly courtesies, she could see that such things were not Mya’s interests. The girl was wild and headstrong, but had such a determined look about her when it came to what was right and what was wrong. She often got the children of the servants included in her games and Celia admired her for that. She was like her father in many ways, she took after him as well. Her dark curly hair and big blue eyes. Celia knew full well that she would break a few hearts some day. She was half-inclined that the first might be her son. 

At six, Arthur was still coming into his childhood, but he did so with the pride of a lion. He always wanted to keep up with Mya and her own games as well. He looked as Ser Jaime did when he was a child, save for the eyes. At least, this is what all the servants seemed to agree on. While still not allowed to hold live steel, Celia could see that he had inherited his father’s natural ability at the sword. It was almost graceful. Celia and Avari often served as the princesses he was determined to protect. Joanna has joined them as princesses, but Celia enjoyed watching her son’s noble heart shine through in his games. 

At four, Sansa had already been a lady for a year. She was always so courteous and eager to please. While she loved nothing more than the tales of knightly valor, she loved the history shared in them. Servants twittered about saying she looked like Celia, save for the eyes, but Celia knew her daughter would grow to be much more beautiful than herself. While she never particularly cared for the games her brother and Mya played, she would always take part in some way or another. She was a sweet girl and her daughter’s need to please always worried her. It had appeared to worry Ser Jaime also. He would always sit her down after a song or tale of heroes and remind her that life was not always like the songs and that she needed to think before doing anything reckless. Sansa would just smile and hug her father and say she knew. 

At two, little Joanna was the the little jewel of Casterly Rock. She was her father’s daughter and Celia had learned rather quickly that the girl adored her father more than anything. When he was away and could not rock her to sleep, Jaime had given Celia one of his shirts to wear in order to let her smell of him so their daughter might sleep. She was a sweet child, but she had a temper on her that matched Arthur’s when he had been a babe. Even so, as she napped in Celia’s arms, she could not regret having a child. 

Sometimes, she wished there was a chance she might have one more. Just one, but she knew she would not. She would not give herself to her husband again and she would not dishonor him as he had dishonored her. She would not. She could not. 

Gods how she hated that her heart and body longed for him still. 

“Mother!”

Celia looked up at the sound of her son’s distress. Her eyes widened as she stood, looking upon the scene with horror. In the distance, she could see the sea of Lannisport on fire. Lannister ships with sails of red were alight— burn them all —with black sails with krakens sailed through the flames as though the sea themselves protected them. 

“Gods,” Avari whispered at the sight. 

Blood began to roar in Celia’s ears. 

They were under attack. 

Casterly Rock was in chaos as the soldiers attempted to ready the keep for a possible siege. Celia ushered the children inside and handed Joanna to Avari. 

“Ce, you—”

“I need to make certain everything is ready,” Celia said quickly. “I need you to get the children to safety. Go to the chambers under the sept and lead the other women and children there. There should be enough room for everyone.”

“My lady—”

“Go!”

She forced Avari to flee as the rest of the staff who could not fight made their way to their refuge. She ignored her children’s cries for her as Celia rushes against them the tide of people, trying to make sure that all that needed to be done was. She searched and found—

“Vylarr!”

The Essosi man turned. “My lady, you should be inside!”

“I am the lady of this castle and I must protect it as I can.”

“My lady—”

“I am the daughter of Hoster Tully, I do not run from a fight when there are people who need me. We must prepare.”

“As you command, my lady.” He took her to the walls of the keep and she listened to the orders he gave out to the men. 

“Have them prepare arrows of powder that might help the fire catch on their own ships,” Celia said. 

“My lady, the fire—”

“Has already destroyed most of our ships. At the very least we might be able to use their fire against them.” From where they stood, she could already see fire coming across the ports. “How many people have come in from Lannisport?”

“Not many yet, but there are those who will come seeking shelter.”

“My lady,” a soldier came to them. “We need to close the gates. The Ironborn have touched land.”

Celia’s heart pounded against her chest. “Keep the gates open”

“My lady!” Vylarr shouted. 

“We need to take in as many smallfolk as we can. We all know the reputation of the Kraken and those that serve under their banner. I will not allow them to harm any more of our men, women, and children. Not any more than they might have already.”

“My lady—”

“Keep the gates open for as long as possible and send soldiers to help the elderly and the women and children inside.”

“Yes, my lady,” the soldier said before leaving to carry out her orders. 

“I hope you know what you’re doing,” Vylarr said. 

“I pray to the gods I do as well,” she replied. “Has a raven already been sent to King’s Landing?”

“Yes, my lady.”

“Then I pray the Ironborn mean to make a show and withdraw.”

“I doubt it, Celia,” Vylarr said. 

She closed her eyes. “I do as well.”

Celia was dragged through the grounds of the keep. She struggled against the hold the men had of her. She told herself not to panic as words of a man long dead began to echo in her veins. How old are you? How old are you? Her children were crying and calling out to her as Avari sobbed along with them, Vylarr holding them all tightly to him so they might not run to her. 

She was pushed down onto her knees before a man not much older than she. He was handsome, she supposed. Pale with black hair and a dark beard. He wore a patch over his left eye but the eye she saw was as blue as a clear sky. She had heard of the man before. Euron Greyjoy. 

She glared up at him and the Ironborn captain laughed. “And I heard the wife of the Kingslayer was a trout, perhaps she is a snapping turtle.”

“What do you want, Lord Greyjoy?” Celia asked, bile forming in her throat. How old are you?  

He bent down and pinched her chin between his fingers. “Such a pretty thing,” he said with a grin. “I might make a widow out of you yet.”

How old are you?

Celia jerked her chin away from him. “What do you want?”

“Write to your husband and the king.”

“Word has already been sent that you’re here,” she growled. 

“Tell them both that the Iron Islands demand to be free.” He grabbed her by the hair and brought her face closer to his. 

Celia winced. How old are you?

“We demand independence and if we are not granted it… well…” he snickered. “I suppose they might find themselves down a few lions.” Euron Greyjoy leaned forward pressing his nose into her neck and breathed in. “I wonder… can a trout survive the salt of the sea?”

How old are you? Celia closed her eyes and thought of her children. How old are you?

Chapter Text

Jaime hated that he had to be away from his wife and children at all, but something was going to happen, he just knew it. Something in the wind was shifting over the past two years and Jaime was expected to be beside the king when it did, even if he preferred to be by Celia’s side. His father often came with him, as did Tyrion. 

While Jaime would always love his younger brother, he knew that their relationship was forever fractured by Joanna’s birth. His precious little girl wheezed are times, panting out breathes when the spring grew too plenty or when the air became too cold. Jaime knee Tyrion blamed himself as well for his youngest niece’s health and Jaime blamed him a bit as well. 

In the two years he had slept away from his wife, Jaime dreamed of her, often bringing himself to relief with his own hand, Celia’s name bubbling from his lips as he imagined her above or below him. In his dreams, he was worthy of her. Worthy of her love and affection. Worthy of their children. He knew he wasn’t, that he never would be, but he dreamed it all the same. Dreamed of a life where there was nothing holding him back, that he was the man his wife had thought him to be. 

Cersei has attempted to bring him to her bed, but Jaime had refused. He cited his constant presence needed by Robert and that it would be dangerous, but, in truth, he could not stomach the thought of sleeping with his sister again. His mind, body, and soul belonged to Celia and Celia alone. He would give them to no other. 

He found he could not spend time with Cersei’s children either, especially Joffrey. It felt, once more, like a betrayal, this time to his son and daughters. He was a distant uncle, he knew, but it was how he could live with himself. Celia said that was all he could do, learn to live with the man he was. 

Gods, Jaime missed his family and wished to return to them as soon as possible. 

Jaime was working on some trade agreements for Lannisport when a letter arrived from him. 

“For me?” he asked as he took the letter in his hand. It was thin, probably only one page. “From who?”

“It appears to be from your wife, Ser,” the servant said with a bow before leaving the room. 

Jaime blinked and looked down at the letter in his hand. Celia never wrote him, not anymore. He knew full well that she had burned all the letters he had sent her from the beginnings of their marriage. Jaime’s stomach dropped. What if one of the children were sick? What if— Gods. 

He ripped the letter open and began to read. With every word he felt dread sink into his bones and worry settle upon his skin. 

Dear Ser,

I am writing to inform you that the Ironborn have made themselves a determined guest to Casterly Rock. They have made it clear that they intend to stay until further notice. 

Tell the king that the Iron Islands wish to be independent from the rest of the six kingdoms. I have been told that this will be the first of many castles that shall be taken in their quest for such a thing 

Euron Greyjoy has made it clear that the children and I have become hostages and he is willing to use whatever he can against our family, including the safety of our children and my own virtue to gain what he wishes. He has made it clear that my virtue is of interest to him. I am a Tully, husband and my family comes first. I beg your forgiveness if I am unable to keep my vows to you if it means our children are secure. 

I beg that you send word as soon as you are able. 

Your wife,

Celia Lannister

Jaime read the letter over and over again. His mind stuttered at Celia’s willingness to compromise her virtue for the sake of their children. 

He could still remember his wife crying in his arms over the molestation she suffered with the Mad King. Jaime saw red at the thought of his wife reliving such a thing with no Arthur Dayne to save her. 

His body burned with anger as his vision grew red. He swept the content of his desk from its top and cast it to the ground, spilling wells of ink and let the scrolls roll out as they hit the floor. Jaime let out a roar as he thought of his wife crying beneath the monster that was Euron Greyjoy. He would kill the man himself for daring to even threaten Jaime’s wife and children. 

It would not be as quick as the Mad King’s death. No, Greyjoy’s death will be slow and merciless. Jaime would make it painful. He would make the man feel as much pain as possible if he dared to lay a hand in Celia or their children. 

Jaime stormed from his study, ignoring the mess he had made and went to the small council room where he knew the king spent a majority of his time. 

“Lannisport has been sacked,” Robert said as soon as Jaime entered. 

He threw his letter from Celia down upon the table for everyone else to see. “He’s taken Casterly Rock and has my wife and children as hostages.” He could see his father grow pale. “She says that Euron Greyjoy holds the castle and he has made threats against her person as well as the lives of our children already.”

“Have they stated their terms?” Robert asked. 

“They want independence.”

“It is rebellion then,” Tyrion muttered as he looked over Celia’s letter. 

“It is rebellion,” Jaime agreed. 

The banners were called immediately and a letter was sent to Ned Stark personally. Celia was not just the wife of Jaime, after all, but the good sister of the Warden of the North, the Hand of the King who also served as Warden of the East, and the daughter of the Lord Paramount is the Trident. Any threat to her and her children was a greater reason for this act of rebellion to be taken more seriously. 

The banners came quickly as they made themselves ready to take back Casterly Rock. It was all they could do for a time. The keep was a good stronghold that would give the Ironborn a place to replenish supplies as they ravaged the Westerlands and the Riverlands, where reports of sacks were flooding in every day. 

Ned Stark sent word that he was already journeying down the King’s Road and would meet them part of the way before they made their way to Casterly Rock. The Blackfish would be joining them as well. 

Jaime spent his days preparing the soldiers for battle and sending letters to their allies for any information they had on Ironborn war tactics. Any time he had left he spent rereading Celia’s letter and praying to the gods that she and the children were safe. Every night he went to bed dreading every raven that came, worried that a letter would come to tell him of her rape. 

A knock came to his study door. “Come in.”

The door opened and closed and no one announced themselves. He looked up and saw Cersei standing with her back against the door. She walked to him with every inch of grace and confidence that she always had. His sister walked around his desk and stood behind him, wrapping her arms around his neck. “You are so busy recently,” she said. “You don’t even visit me anymore.”

“We are at war, Cersei. My wife and children are being held hostage.”

“But I am right here, along with our children.”

Jaime stood up and began to pace. He didn’t have time for this. Cersei went around his desk again to be closer to him still. She stood in front of him and pressed her hands against his chest. Jaime froze but he felt like her hands were burning him. 

“Take me, Jaime,” her hands slid up his shoulders. “You are so very tense. Why not relieve the stress in me.” She pressed a kiss to his jaw. “Give me another babe, a girl perhaps, and it might not matter if the lionfish are lost.”

Jaime pulled away, disgusted at himself for having ever being attracted to the woman before him. “Leave, Cersei. I have no time for you.”

“Jaime,” she hissed. 

“Leave. My wife and children are in danger and I will give you no more children. Three is what we agreed in and three is what I have given you. Now get out.”

“You cannot speak to me this way,” Cersei growled. 

“I am, now get out before I lose my patients. If you do not leave me at once, I will tell our father the truth if your children and I promise you that I will make certain you will lose everyone. Now, leave me at once.”

Cersei looked at him with utter loathing before turning on her heels to leave Jaime’s study. He returned to his desk and continued his correspondence, thinking of Celia and their children at every word. 

Jaime dreamed of his wife guarded by krakens as she clutched their children to her. She was crying for him, screaming for him. No matter how hard he fought, he could not come closer to her. With every step he took closer she seemed to drift further and further away. 

Jaime awoke drenched in sweat and crying out his wife’s name. 

Dear Ser,

The children miss you and ask for you every day. 

I have been made to where the clothes of a whore to the meals I must attend with Euron Greyjoy and his crew. Although it is too early to know, one of our serving girls has fallen pregnant by one of the Ironborn. I found her crying in the kitchens, her dress torn and her skin blotched with bruises. One of the servants, the son of your father’s steward has said he would claim the bastard as his own to save her from any possibility of her being taken as a salt wife. 

Ser Jaime, I beg you to come quickly. 

Euron Greyjoy is content to look for now, but I am aware of how a man might look should he hunger for the flesh of women. However, his hands have strayed to my thigh and have brushed against my breasts, although he claimed it was due to door or crumbs. 

Ser, I am so very frightened. I have done what I can to keep the children away from it all but I fear what might be done to me and them should you not come soon. 

I get that you come quickly. 

Your wife,

Celia Lannister. 

They set out for Casterly Rock the next day. Jaime prayed to the old gods and the new that nothing will have become of his wife by the time they engage with the Ironborn to take back Casterly Rock. He would tear the Greyjoy family apart if his wife or children were injured. They would sing songs akin to the Rains of Castamere should any harm befall his wife and children. 

“I’m coming,” he whispered as he rode out next to his king and his father. “I’m coming, love. I’m coming.”

Chapter Text

Celia rocked Joanna in her arms, her youngest daughter tried so desperately to stay awake. Euron Greyjoy occupied most of Celia’s day and she was only truly allowed to see her children in the morning and evenings. It was better that way, to keep the Ironborn’s thoughts away from her children. 

She would rather face the monster that lurked in her mind than let her children be harmed. 

How old are you?

“No ‘leep,” Joanna yawned. “Mama ‘tay.”

Celia closed her eyes and felt tears beginning to form. “I’ll be here in the morning, sweetling,” she whispered pressing soft kisses into her daughter’s fair hair. “I’ll be here in the morning.”

In truth, she could stay the night, but she did not want to risk the Ironborn coming to her room at night and finding her gone. She did not want her children to see her being dragged away from them. 

How old are you?

Celia laid her youngest down on her bed and tucked her in. 

“Ce,” Avari came to her. “Stay.”

“You know why I can’t.”

“You are a bargaining chip,” Avari said. “That man won’t—”

“But he could and I won’t risk my children… my children seeing that.” She bent down to kiss Joanna on the top of her head one more time.

She then went to Sansa. Her eldest daughter had barely spoken since the Ironborn had come into the keep. She would cling to Avari or Celia’s skirts or her brother’s arm. Celia tucked her daughter in and pressed kisses to her face. She tucked the knight doll Ser Jaime had given her on her last birthday in with her. “This will protect you, sweetling,” she promised. It was a hollow one, but she prayed that it was enough. “It’s what knights do, keep fair maidens safe.”

She went to Mya next. “I want to fight them,” the girl said with a yawn. Celia smiled. She truly was her father’s daughter. The girl sniffed. “Don’t want to stay in the nursery.”

“Then who will protect Avari and the children?” Celia asked. She had found that Mya enjoyed not being counted as one of the children.

That seemed to stump the girl and Celia kissed the girl goodnight. She then went to her son. She kissed the top of his head. “You need to sleep, my little knight.”

“When’s Father coming for us?”

Celia closed her eyes at her son’s question and held back her tears. “Your father will be coming soon,” she promised. She pressed a kiss to the top of her son’s head. “Your father will always come for you.” 

She knew full well that she couldn’t trust Ser Jaime with her heart. She could trust him with their children, though. She knew he loved them with all his heart. 

He would come for them at least. 

Celia sat at the table next to Euron as he and his men ate and drank as though the keep were their own. Celia had ordered all the women to be hidden in the catacombs of the keep. Only her children and Avari and the men remained as active members of the keep. She refused to let any more women be taken advantage of.

All the lions that lived down in their cages knew all the servants of the keep. They would make a fuss if one of the Ironborn came near and the girls could hide themselves deeper. Vylarr stayed with them to keep them safe. He knew it might mean he would miss the birth of his first child, but Avari and sworn at him and made him promise to look after the women. 

I can take care of myself, she had huffed. 

She stiffened as she felt Euron’s hand on her thigh. She had been forced to wear an Essosi slave dress, a bed slave, one of the men had sneered. The skirt was thin and airy and wrapped around her hips in such a way that it could be pulled up for easy access if necessary. The bodice was loose and cut so low it went to three inch long wrap belt around her middle. It showed everything. It even showed how cold she was. 

She could feel the roughness of Euron’s hand against the fabric that covered her skin. Celia lifted her chin and ignored him. 

How old are you?

She thought of her children. She thought of her four children and forced every other thought from her mind. 

“Tell me, little snapping turtle,” Euron said, leaning close to her and pressing his lips upon her bare shoulder. “Will you cry when I bring you your husband’s head?”

“I doubt you will have it,” she said not looking at him. 

His teeth scraped along her skin and Celia winced. “When this is all over, I will bring you the Kingslayer’s head and make it watch as I fuck you like the whore you are.”

“Perhaps my husband will give me your head.”

The sting of a slap hissed at her cheek and she turned her glare onto Euron as he stood and went out to one of the salt wives he had brought with him. 

Celia took a deep breath. She closed her eyes and prayed that rescue would come soon. 

Avari screamed. 

“I want Vylarr,” she whimpered as another contraction hit. 

“Get Vylarr and trade posts with him,” Celia ordered one of the Lannister guards. 

“At once, my lady.”

He rushed off as the maester began to tend to Avari. “The child will come slowly since it is the first,” he said. “She must stay conscious throughout.”

Celi held back a biting remark that she had already birthed three children and knew what was happened a lot more intimately than the maester did, but she held her tongue. Avari needed her to focus. “Just hold on,” she said instead. “Just hold on, Vylarr will be here soon and then you will have your baby and everything will be okay.”

It felt like hours but it was only minutes before Vylarr rushed in. He knelt down on the other side of his wife and kissed her lips tenderly. “I’m right here, love,” he whispered. “Right here.”

“This is all your fault,” Avari growled just as she began to cry as another contraction hit. 

“Don’t worry,” Celia said. “She doesn’t mean it.”

“We were both willing participants,” Vylarr muttered and Celia laughed.

“Just hold her hand and we’ll get through this.”

It took hours before her body was ready to birth the baby.

Soon, Avari’s cries were joined by a little boy’s. Celia sighed in relief as she watched her friend hold her son for the first time. 

“Have you thought of a name?” Celia asked. 

“If it was a girl, we would have named her Celia,” Vylarr said and she blushed. “You’re the reason we met afterall.”

“And now that it’s a boy?”

“Aemon,” Avari said proudly. 

Rumors began to spread that the king’s men were coming to Casterly Rock. 

Celia went to the sept every day to pray to all the gods that they would come soon, that soon she would be free. Most of all, she prayed that her husband believed her when she said that Euron Greyjoy has not sullied her. 

The dinner that night was more subdued as the Ironborn began to whisper about the upcoming battle, talking strategy and the like. Even Euron seemed to be in no mood to mock her. 

“How did you get into the keep?” Celia asked him, not touching her food. She hadn’t eaten much food since the Ironborn had come. She didn’t trust them not to do something to it. 

“Your kindness is well known,” the Ironborn man said. He smiled at her. “How did I get into the keep, you ask? The same way as the smallfolk.”

Ser Jaime was above her. 

His lips upon her neck and shoulders as his hands explored her body. 

“I’ve missed you,” he whispered into her as he sank into her heat. It was the closest she had ever gotten to an I love you . “I’ve missed you.”

Celia wrapped her arms around him. “I’m right here,” she whispered. “I’m right here.”

“I do love you,” he said so softly that Celia could have missed it. “I do love you.”

“And I love you, Ser Jaime.” She pressed a kiss to his shoulder as she wrapped herself around him. “I always have.”

He began to move, at first his strokes were long and slow, pulling Celia into a whimper of promises and a whisper of pleas to go faster. The pace began to build as though everything was falling into place. She rolled her hips up to him and began to beg. 

“Please,” she moaned. “Oh, please!”

“I’ve missed you,” he growled, his pace picking up. “I’ve missed you.”

“Right here!” She cried out as his hips slammed into hers. “Right there! Yes!”

“That’s it,” he moaned as his movements became sharper and sharper, her coming release building with every stroke. “Celia,” he grunted, her name like a prayer upon his lips. “Celia!”

She woke up to her body clenching around nothing. Celia laid there for a long moment panting before she began to gasp. She curled in on herself and sobbed at the loneliness and pain 

“Please, Jaime,” she whispered. “Please come quickly.”

Chapter Text

“We don’t have time for this!” Jaime shouted at the others as they looked over a map of the land surrounding Casterly Rock. Ned looked at him with a steady gaze while Robert refused to look at him. “My wife and children are in there! Your daughter is in there!” he shouted at Robert. “There has to be a way in through the cliffs! They can’t have blacked it.”

“Jaime,” his father warned. “Even if they haven’t, no army can pass through there. One man can not take a castle festered with enemies by themselves. These things take planning.”

“That’s not good enough!” Jamie roared. He couldn’t breathe. “They have been under his gaze for over a month! Gods know what—”

His voice caught in his throat. He couldn’t stand there any longer. “I need some air.” Jaime stormed from the tent as black spots began to form in his vision. 

Not now. Not now!

Jaime grabbed out and held onto the thrift that held the water for the horses, but he didn’t care. He sank to his knees and tried to breathe. Celia has calmed him down the last time he had felt this way. She had him breathe with her. But she wasn’t here. She was—

“Jaime.”

A hand was on his shoulder and Jaime flinched away, his knees giving out under him. “Don’t touch me,” he hissed. 

“You need to breathe, Jaime,” Ned’s voice came calmly. “Celia taught you how to do this right?” The Northman sat down and put Jaime’s hand on his own chest and took a deep breath. “Like this.” He exhaled.

Jaime did as he was told and took deep breaths, his head became more coherent with every inhale. 

“Why are you panicking. Celia sent a letter only a day or so ago, she’s fine.”

“You don’t understand,” Jaime breathed. “The Ironborn, the rape and pillage and plunder. I… Euron has already made his intentions towards her clear. And what of Mya, or Sansa, or Joanna.”

“They’ll be okay, Jaime,” Ned said softly. “Everything will be okay.”

Jaime felt his heart begin to stead and his mind clear. “How do you know that trick?”

“Cat does it with me, has since Lyanna died.”

They met with Euron on the open field before Casterly Rock. Jaime had hoped that he might see Celia or his children. While he did not want the man to even be within spitting distance of his family, he had hoped that the man would use them as a bargaining chip so that Jaime might see them. 

“Ah, King Robert Baratheon,” the Ironborn man said. “I see you’ve gotten a little stouter. I doubt you could even lift your hammer now.”

“It’s muscle, I assure you,” Robert said calmly. 

“And the Kingslayer, such an honor to meet you,” the man grinned. “I haven’t had the honor to know your wife yet, but I’ve promised her soon.”

“Don’t do it,” Ned hissed under his breath to Jaime as it took everything in him to not tackle the man to the ground. 

“We all know Casterly Rock is impenetrable when closed,” he said. “I was only able to get through because the little snapping turtle kept the gates open for the smallfolk. There’s no need for a battle,” he said it as though it were some great offer. “Give my people independence and allow me to take someone as a hostage. I would prefer the little snapping turtle, but I’ve seen her eldest daughter.” His gaze shifted to Jaime again. “I must say, she’ll make a pretty thing someday.” His gaze returned to Robert, waiting for his answer.

If looks could kill, Euron would be slaughtered by every man gazing upon him now. 

“You’re right,” Jaime said, surprising everyone. “There’s no need for a battle. Thousands of men don’t have to die. Only one of us.” Euron’s eyes narrowed. “”Let’s end this. You against me.”

The Ironborn man laughed. “I keep hearing stories about you, Kingslayer. The way your people talk about you, you’re the greatest swordsman to have ever walked. Maybe you killing the old Mad King by stabbing him in the back shows that you couldn’t have done it if he was facing you. Maybe you are that good. I don’t know if I’d beat you. know that my army will beat yours. You may have an army, but I have the ships and your wife. 

“You may think you have the advantage, but you don’t. Will your men want to fight for you when they hear you would not fight for them?”

Euron laughed. “You are good!” he sneered. “I can almost see why your wife has such faith in you. She’s a fine woman, your wife. I look forward to having her in my bed once I make her a widow.” Jaime’s hands tightened on his reigns. “I’m the morning then, Kingslayer. I shall tell your wife and children of your impending death.”

If you can, get your family, Mya and whoever you can out, Robert had told him. Or get them as far underground if you can. 

Jaime knee he could not sneak in for the cliffs. He had sent one of the Lannister soldiers with him to check and the passageway was closed off.

Jaime staggered time his feet as he watched the coming soldiers. The Ironborn has no Calvert, but they had men, thousands of them whooping and hollering as they raced forward, swords and spears ready. Jaime drew his sword, the very one that he had used to kill Aerys and readied himself. 

“Charge!” Robert roared. 

The king’s men, including their cavalry, rush forward at their king’s command. The two sides collided and Jaime was at the center of it all. Men colored into one another and other men collided with horses. 

It took everything in Jaime to dodge and weave around the chaos as smoke began to come from the ground as though the fire in the soldiers’ blood was setting the field alight. Arrows were being shot from both directions, but the Ironborn seemed to have better aim in the chaos, or, at the very least, they did not care who they hit. Jaime pivoted out of the way of a charge only to be set in the path of a horse with a dead rider. Jaime threw himself on the ground and thrust his sword out and killed an Ironborn soldier just as a new wave of arrows crashed around them. 

Another Greyjoy soldier ran at him. Jaime made quick work of him before another appeared. The chaos grew until there was a loud roar of fire and blood around him. Jaime could see the level of carnage the initial confrontation had created. A pile of bodies was forming, creating an obstruction between them all and the Casterly Rock. 

At the center of it all, Jaime struggled against the crush of bodies and Jaime could hear men screaming as they began to squash under the weight of those above them 

Jaime gasped for air, grabbing ahold of anything he could, frantically trying to find a place to stand. He was able to make his way to the top of the pile of bodies. He could see as the battle continued to rage around them. 

A horn sounded and there was a short breath in the battle. The horn sounded again and Jaime could see Lannister soldiers storming out of Casterly Rock on horses and foot. The red flag with a gold lion emblazoned upon the fabric. 

The king’s men began to cheer. 

Jaime was wounded but the time he faced Euron on the grounds of Casterly Rock’s hold. This was where he truly met Celia for the first time. It was thoughts of her and their children and hate for Euron that kept him standing. 

“You suggested one-on-one combat,

didn’t you?” the Ironborn asked. “I’ve reconsidered. I think that sounds like a wonderful idea.”

Jaime took an unsteady step forward. 

“Don’t,” Ned cautioned. 

Jaime ignored him, stooping to pick up a shield, a shoddy one that could barely pass for a practice shield, and stormed towards Euron. The Ironborn pulled an arrow, nocked, and shot. Jaime blocked it with his shield. He lowered it and continued forward, his gaze focused solely on Euron. The Ironborn pulled another arrow and shot it. Jaime blocked it. Fire began to burn in his hand, but he ignored it, storming forward. Euron became frantic as he tried to pull out another arrow, but Jaime didn’t let him. He knocked the bow from Euron’s hands and hit him with the edge of his shield. A croak sounded as Jaime hit him in the ribs and the Ironborn went down. 

Jaime got down on top of him before Euron could even attempt to get up, dropping the shield as he went. 

Jaime curled his bleeding hand, fire alighting every muscle and bone in it, into a fist, grabbing Euron’s shirt with the other hand. His fist canes down as he began to hit the man over and over and over and over. 

This man would not touch his wife.

This man would not touch his daughter. 

This man would not rape his people. 

The crunch of bone came from one of them and Jaime cared not who. He was numb and afire all at once. 

He didn’t know if Euron was still breathing when Ned pulled Jaime off him. 

Chapter Text

Celia had been able to send the Lannister guards and knights out into the battle, mustering what they could to help the king and her husband and then she had ushered all the remaining people into the crypts to wait and pray for those fighting to take the keep back. 

Celia held her children close. Mya had her arms wrapped around Arthur, her face buried in his neck. Sansa was crying softly into Celia’s chest and little Joanna was asleep in her lap, all cried out. 

“Mother,” Arthur whispered. “Is Father out there?”

“Yes,” she replied, not even having to think of the answer. 

“Will he win?”

“Your father is the greatest knight in Westeros,” she told her children. “He will come here even if it is kicking and screaming.”

He loved their children. She knew it. She knew that what he felt for their children was as real as the air she breathed. Celia closed her eyes and held her children close. 

How old are you?

She had to be brave, brave like Cat. 

The sound of many footfalls began to echo across the crypts and Celia’s heart began to pound in her chest. One of the knights that had stayed to protect them drew his sword. Sansa whimpered. 

The footfalls drew closer and—

“Father!” Mya shrieked and lept from her place against Arthur.

Celia’s gaze shot up and she saw the king kneeling to pick up his running daughter. He pressed urgent kisses to her face as he held the crying girl. 

Celia hated how disappointed she was. She hated that she had put such faith in Ser Jaime only for him to let them down. This was different, however. Now he had let down their children now. Celia’s stomach churned. What if he had not even come at all? What if he had stayed behind to be with his Cersei. 

“He’s here,” Robert said, pulling Celia from her thoughts.

“What?” She asked, uncertain if she had heard him correctly. 

“Jaime is here,” the king repeated. “He was… Celia, I’m sorry, but he was injured.”

Celia felt her heart stop. “Is he going to be alright?”

“It was bad from what I could see. His father and Ned forced him to the maester tent outside the keep. They wanted it to be looked at as soon as possible and they didn’t want to frighten you or the children.”

Celia’s heart thudded in her chest. Injured. Her husband was injured. She passed Joanna to one of the servants and gave Sansa to Arthur. She stood. “Take me to him.”

“I don’t think—”

“Take me to my husband.”

Robert watched her for a moment and sighed. “As you wish.”

“Take me to my wife, damnit!” She could hear her husband bellow from the maester’s tent in the distance. He was obviously speaking to someone for he seemed to reply to them. “I don’t care if I’m tearing the stitches, my wife and children need me.”

A pause. 

“Damn you, Eddard Stark, I am not an invalid! Take me to my wife and children now!”

Another pause. 

“By all the gods I will become a kinslayer next if you do not let me see my wife and children this instant!”

Celia entered the tent and found her husband upon a makeshift bed, his father and Ned trying to hold him down as the maester was sewing up his wound. There was blood everywhere and Celia could find no major injuries upon his bare chest that might have caused such bloodshed. Then, she saw that his sword hand was no longer part of his body and instead in a pan. 

Celia lost feelings in her legs and everything went black. 

Celia awoke to Ned placing a cool wet cloth over her brow. She took it off and sat up. “How long…?”

“A few minutes or so,” Ned told her. “I took you to Robert’s tent so Jaime could finish being treated.” They were quiet for a few moments. “He’s ashamed of how he frightened you. He said so and hasn’t spoken since, or at the very least he hasn’t been so loud that we can hear him.”

Celia chewed her lip. “What happened?”

“Took an arrow to the hand from Euron. Then the idiot began to punch him, breaking the bones and allowing it to be infected. The maester thought it safer to remove it. The bones were crushed. I honestly surprised how he isn’t sobbing in pain considering he refuses anything for it.”

“He fought Euron?”

Her good brother nodded. “Nearly died a few times to get there, but he did. He was like the Warrior reborn. It was savage, like a lion finally free from its cage.”

“Is he dead?”

“No, I pulled him off when I realized a lot of the blood was his own. Euron is in a cell being guarded as we speak.” Ned took her hand in his. “Celia, I need to know. Did Euron…?”

She shook her head. “He threatened and touched me, but he did not force himself into my bed or his.”

A burden seemed to be lifted from his shoulders. “Thank the gods.”

“Could you take me to Ser Jaime?”

Ned cocked an eyebrow. 

“I promise I won’t faint.”

Ned sighed before nodding. He led her back to the maester’s tent and found Ser Jaime’s wrist and forearm being bandaged.

Her husband looked up at her with such worry. “Celia,” he said breathlessly. He stood and came for her. “Are you alright? Did he hurt you?”

Celia looked at his wound and wrapped her arms around him. He could have died. “I thought you weren’t ever coming back.”

“I would always come back for you, Celia,” he whispered, wrapping his arms around her and pressing his nose to her hair. “ Always.

Celia slept in her husband’s rooms. She did not wish to be alone in the rooms she had feared of being defiled in. Celia wondered if she would ever be able to go back to those rooms again. The children had wanted to sleep with them. Mya had tried to be brave but Robert had offered to let her sleep with him that night. 

Their children were settled between them, in varying stages of sleep. Sansa was the closest to her father, her face resting against his chest and her fists clinging to his sleep shirt as though she were afraid he might disappear when she awoke. Arthur was curled around his sister, his head resting against Ser Jaime’s arm. His fist was tight against his father’s shirt as well. Joanna was facing Celia, mouthing at her covered breast for comfort. Celia had her arm around all three of their children and Ser Jaime was on his back with his injured arm propped up to keep the blood from flowing to heavily. 

The sight had frightened the children, but they seemed more relieved than anything that their father had come back to them. Sansa had wrapped her arms around his neck and cried to him. Arthur had hugged him solumnly and Joanna had hugged Celia close, not yet familiar with her father and wary of most men save for Vylarr. 

“I missed you.”

She looked over and saw Ser Jaime looking at her. His green eyes were gentle and loving and it nearly broke Celia’s heart to think that he could have been killed. “I missed you, too,” she whispered. 

“I never want to leave you again,” he told her. 

“You can’t promise that.”

“It’s why I’m not promising.” His eyes searched hers. “I would lose my hand a thousand times if it means I can wake up like this tomorrow.”

“You don’t mean that.”

He smiled at her sadly. “I missed you.”

Celia reached over Sansa and gripped his shirt. “I’m right here.”

Chapter Text

Jaime struggled against the loss of his dominant hand and wished he could participate in the tournament. He wanted to prove that he was still capable in protecting his family. Wanted to show that he could still kill if it meant protecting them. 

The preparations for the tournament began and Jaime knew that meant his sister would be coming soon. 

While Celia still shares his bed, he could sense her distance. She did not curl into him or hold onto him, but occasionally found her like that when he awoke. 

He knew he may never earn her love again, but Jaime did hope to earn her trust. Every morning and night he would kiss her and whisper that he missed her. 

He did not know how to fix this. He wished to all the gods that he did. But he didn’t. He wasn’t even sure he deserved her trust. He wondered if it would have been better for him to have died. Then, perhaps, she would have at least been free of him. Free in whatever capacity that might mean to her. 

He did not participate in the rest of the rebellion, but he asked Ned to stay in touch and let him know what was going on. Euron remained in the keep’s dungeon and it took everything in Jaime to not kill the man every day that passed. However he was a prisoner of war and would be a bargaining chip. Either way, Jaime was certain the man would never return to the Iron Islands again. 

When the rebellion was won, Euron was banished and the man who had raped one of the servants was executed on site. Jaime wished the Greyjoy has been killed, but Robert had been adamant against it. 

Jaime sat next to his wife as they watched the tournament. He wished he could participate, but knew he would look foolish if he tried. Joanna was in his lap and Sansa and Arthur sat on either side of them. 

Celia looked beautiful sitting next to him. She wore a golden dress with a pearl hairnet framing her face. She was a vision. Her red hair was like fire against the afternoon son and her eyes were a clear blue. 

“I would crown you as my Queen of Love and Beauty,” he whispered as he leaned towards her. “I would crown you as mine.”

He watched as a blush graced her cheeks and Jaime kissed her there. 

He blamed the alcohol. 

They had both found themselves with a little too much to drink. The fault was Robert, who was most likely trying to make it better between them. Ned was not so privy to know that Jaime and Celia had a falling out, but Robert had noticed. 

She was in his arms again, their lips locked as he devoured her. Needed her. Needed to feel every inch of her against him. His tongue delved into her mouth as he savored the taste of her. 

“Celia,” he groaned. “Gods, Celia.”

“Jaime,” she moaned as he laid her down on their bed. He began to rut into her, her hands pulling at his shirt. “Need you. Gods, I need you.”

She was so wet for him and Jaime growled against her skin. The way she ground against him. 

“Gods, I don’t deserve you.”

“Don’t care,” she panted, her had going into his trousers as she wrapped her hand around his length and began to pump. “Don’t care.”

It took everything in Jaime to pull away. “We can’t.”

He looked down and his wife and saw her eyes grow cold as she withdrew from him. Jaime let her pull herself away from him 

“You don’t have to love me,” he whispered to her. “But I wouldn’t be able to handle it if you hated me.” He kissed the back of her head. “And that’s what you would do if we did this now. Hate me. I could not live with myself if that happened.”

She did not say a word and Jaime pressed another kiss to the back of her head and pulled the covers over her. “I do not think I could live if you hated me.”

Jaime began to train with his left hand. His father and Robert said he didn’t need to prove himself, but he felt like he did. He wasn’t so naive to think that his family didn’t have enemies. He had promised Celia that he would never let anyone hurt her. He had failed her twice already and Jaime would not fail her again. 

He wouldn’t fail their children either. 

He didn’t know if he could live with himself if he did. 

It took almost a year, but he was getting better. 

Chapter Text

Though they shared a bed, they did not share a marriage bed. She would curl into Ser Jaime’s side as they slept, his hands never wandered lower than her waist. When she felt his hardness against her he would press a kiss to her brow and excise herself, whispering I miss you as he went. 

She wanted to believe him. She wanted so desperately to believe him. 

Celia was glad that her husband had not taken her to the marriage bed when they were both deep in their cup. She would have resented him. She might have even hated him. It is so much easier to ignore her longing when she has not felt him inside her in so long. It was easier to ignore, easier to find pleasure in her fingers, no matter how empty the feeling. 

Ser Jaime was attentive, taking her with him whenever he worked alongside his father.

Ser Jaime was kind as he brought her a flower every morning and every night. 

He was thoughtful as he cared for her whenever she needed something. 

Her husband, she knew, was a good man at heart. He loved her in his own way, perhaps not as she loved him, and loved their children more than she had initially believed. 

She refused, however, to give anymore of her heart to him. They would be friends and parents. But that was all Celia would allow them to be. It was all that she could. 

She was not certain she could survive another heartbreak when it came to her husband. 

They went to King’s Landing for Joffrey’s birthday. She had not wanted to go, had not wanted to visit the woman and child her husband preferred. She did not wish for it to be flaunted around her. She did not wish to pretend ignorance when she knew what her husband was doing whenever he left their bed. 

Even so, Celia attempted to be kind to her husband’s other children. Myrcella and Tommen were sweet. The little princess treated Joanna like a little doll, but Celia’s youngest daughter enjoyed the attention and the pretty ribbons the princess placed in her hair. Tommen reminded Celia of Arthur when he was a small boy. He was quiet and thoughtful and clung to his nursemaid’s skirts, but seemed thrilled at whatever attention Celia offered him. Sansa read stories to the prince, or else recited the stories she knew from memory to him while holding a random book. 

The child that Celia found near impossible to like was the crown prince. She did not like the way he looked down upon her family, including Ser Jaime. She did not like the way he goaded Arthur. She did not like the way he pulled Sansa’s hair. She did not like the way he stole Joanna’s doll and made her cry. 

No, Celia did not like the crown prince at all. 

“So tell me, little fish,” the queen said with a smirk as she and a few other ladies reclined in the Maidenvault. “How has my brother been treating you? Any other lionfish upon the horizon?”

“No, your grace,” Celia said, not looking at the woman who held her husband’s affection. 

Celia had only ever been pretty. Not compared to Cat or Lysa or Lyanna or Avari of course. She had been pretty, but she was ugly in comparison to the queen. No wonder Ser Jaime prefered her. 

“A shame,” the queen said with a smile. “I am attempting at a fourth myself.”

Celia held back the tears that wished to come forth. Perhaps she should allow her husband to take her to their marriage bed once more? Perhaps he would not need to find his release so often in his sister? Perhaps if she kept him more occupied—

No. No. She would not degrade herself in such a way. 

“A great joy, I am sure,” Celia replied. “I wonder if your fourth child will have any resemblance to the king.” She looked at Cersei then. “I can hardly call your children stags when my children, as you so kindly call them, are most obviously lionfish .”

The queen grew red with rage, but Celia did not care. 

Dearest Celia,

I am with child again!

Ned was so happy when I told him that you will not believe what he did! He ran up the tower and rang the bells himself and shouted from the windows that another wolf will run about the halls of Winterfell. I believe he is so happy that the Starks are becoming numerous once more. 

Perhaps it is my pregnancy brain, but I have thought of something. 

I know you do not wish for your children to live in the capital due to your experiences there yourself. Arthur’s future is secure as the Lord of Casterly Rock. Sansa and Joanna’s futures are much less clear. The only way to secure them is through marriage. They must, of course, be marriages that your good father will approve of. One daughter could come North and another further South. 

Do forgive me, but I have already spoken of it with Ned (he may not be in the best state of mind for I fear he might grant me the moon if I asked him) and he agrees with me. Perhaps we should betroth Sansa to Robb. Surely your good father will agree that having his granddaughter as the future wife of the Warden of the North, the largest kingdom, would be a great advantage to him. Joanna, perhaps, could be betrothed to Prince Trystane Martell.

Think on it, sweet sister. 

Love,

Cat