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The River Rushes On

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The official reason that she is sent to Riverrun is so that she can learn to be a proper lady alongside Hoster’s daughters.

 

“Catelyn Tully has been the lady of Riverrun since her mother’s death,” her father says loudly and publicly, “you could learn from her.”

 

The unofficial reason, of course, is that Tywin found his golden twins having sex. Cersei supposes that she is glad he is at least sending her to Riverrun. He could have sent her to foster with the Darrys, or the Leffords, or godsforbid, the Westerlings. He won’t allow them to sully his seat with incest, but he won’t drag their family name through the mud in order to punish her. His own father dragged it through the mud enough for one century.


 

 

It is surprisingly easy for Cersei to sneak out the night before she is scheduled to leave for Riverrun. She sneaks from her chambers as swiftly and silently as any other. The sky is starless, and if Cersei were prone to poeticizing, she might say that the stars were mourning. But Cersei’s not that naïve, she knows that the stars don’t give a damn about her, Lannister or not.

Cersei can hardly make out Jaime’s features in the low light of night, but she doesn’t care. She kisses him roughly on the lips and drinks in his scent.

“Jaime,” She says, as she kisses him, as she digs her fingers into his back. He’s real; he’s here. She’ll still have him for a little while longer.

“I promise that I won’t forget you,” Cersei tells him, “I won’t let anyone replace you, Jaime.”

“Nor I you, sweet sister,” he says, with a grin on his face. Cersei wants to scream at him, to get it through his thick skull that he shouldn’t be fucking smiling now, that father is separating them, but she can’t. By the Seven, Cersei just wants to fuck him senseless and fall asleep in his arms, and find out some way to stop the dreaded morrow from coming.


 

 

The morning comes, no matter how hard she tries to draw out the night. That’s the way of the world: though the seasons are inconsistent, the sun will always rise and set. Time, like a river, rushes ever onward. 

 

Her father does not even spare her a second glance as her Uncle Gerion helps her ready to leave, and Cersei does not say a word. She feels more like a mouse than a lion.


 

 

Riverrun is an average castle, Cersei supposes. It is not as grandiose as the Rock, nor as enormous and decomposing as Harrenhal, but it is far larger than Darry. Its tan, sandstone walls rise far above the moat surrounding it, and Cersei finds that it looks much like the sandcastles that she and Jaime used to build as children. The drawbridge is lowered, and the small Lannister party is admitted entrance into the castle.

 

Lord Tully and his children greet Cersei and her party with all the pomp required for an important lord’s eldest daughter. His daughters wear fine gowns in the colors of Tully, and his young heir is clad in a deep, blue doublet.

“We welcome you to Riverrun,” he says. Introductions are hastily, but not ill-done. Hoster has three children: Catelyn, his eldest; Lysa, the middle child; and Edmure, his heir. He also has another ward, a lowborn boy named Petyr from the Fingers, and Cersei is not sure whether she should laugh or be insulted by their mutual fostering. Only his three children have shown up to greet her, but Cersei doesn’t feel particularly offended that “Petyr Baelish” was not in attendance to meet his better.

After his duty is done, Lord Tully leaves the children to take care of themselves. Edmure, who is no older than Cersei’s own little monstrous brother, scampers off as soon as his father is out of sight.

 “We are excited to have you living at Riverrun,” Catelyn tells her, and strangely, the words don’t sound like court etiquette. Either the girl is the best liar Cersei has ever met, or she truly means the words. Cersei feels irrationally happy at the second notion.

“But father already has Petyr,” the younger girl whines, “he doesn’t need another ward.”

“It is an honor to foster the child of a house as noble as Lannister,” Catelyn scolds, and Cersei can hear her patience drawing thin.

Lysa sighs loudly, and Cersei has to resist the urge to punch her in her pretty little throat.

“Can I go play with Petyr?” she asks, and Catelyn looks as though she might punch her in the throat herself.

“Yes,” she grinds out, “Just go.” Lysa does not even bother to say goodbye as she escorts herself out of the Tully’s main room.

“Please excuse my sister,” Catelyn says, “sometimes her- her tongue gets away with her.”

“It’s alright,” Cersei says, though it’s mainly a lie. She doesn’t want the girl to feel embarrassed on her terrible sister’s account. Cersei has felt enough embarrassment over Tyrion’s existence to last womankind a lifetime.

“I’m sorry,” Catelyn apologizes for the second time, “We’ve gotten off to a terrible start. I’d hoped it would go better than this.” Cersei raises an eyebrow, and then laughs a bit.

“You’re doing fine,” she assures the other girl, mainly because for some strange reason, she simply does want the other girl to feel bad. It is a strange feeling to have.

Catelyn takes a deep breath, and then regains her composure. Cersei can see how this girl has basically been running Riverrun since her mother’s death. She has an abundance of patience and a sort of resileiencey Cersei has never seen in anyone but her own lady-mother.

“How about I show you the dungeons first,” the girl says, with a sly smirk blooming on her lips. Cersei nods as a genuine smile crosses her lips. She was right. She is going to love Catelyn Tully.


 

 

Cersei learns that Catelyn Tully is no typical woman. Cersei is of the opinion that most women, Lannister women excluded, are simpering, craven fools. Lysa seems to fit the mold perfectly, but Catelyn- Catelyn Tully is a completely different breed. Catelyn is a proper lady: gorgeous, gracious and formidable. Her father wasn’t lying when he said that she ran the household of Riverrun.

 

They quickly fall into an easy routine. They have lessons in the mornings, Catelyn deals with running the castle in the afternoons, and evenings are left for them: reading, sneaking about the castle, and simply speaking to each other in the darkness of the night. Sometimes Lysa and Petyr trail them, but Catelyn and Cersei scarcely notice them. They’re too caught up in each other.


 

 

One night, Cersei divulges a secret that she keeps close to her heart: her desire to fight with a sword like a knight. Cat reacts differently than she expects, though it is as wonderful as she could have hoped.

“I’d teach you if I knew how,” Cat consoles her. It’s the best possible case scenario. Though Cat truly can’t do anything to help Cersei learn, the fact that Catelyn, conservative, proper Catelyn, would be willing to help her learn, warms her heart. And maybe that place between her legs as well.


 

 

The words they speak in the blackness of the night are words not fit to be uttered any other time. One’s deepest darkest thoughts should only be spoken in the pitch black of night.


 

 

The warrior queens of Dorne are one of Cersei’s favorite topics, in the dim light of the candles before Catelyn finally turns off the lights.

“I wish that I could be one of them,” she admits wistfully, sprawling on her back, “I want to wield a sword, rule a kingdom.”

“Proper ladies don’t do that,” Cat says, but it’s not scolding in the way she scolds Lysa. It’s only a statement because that is the way Cat sees the world.

“I’d be the warrior,” Cersei says, turning onto her stomach to look Cat in the face, “but you’d be my proper lady. It would be just like one of the tales.” Cersei intends for it to come off as a joke, but she finds that she truly means the words. She wants that, wants it more than she wants air.

Catelyn looks to her, with only the slightest bit of skepticism as she asks, “Isn’t one of them meant to be a man?” She raises her eyebrow, and Cersei swears, her heart skips a beat.

Cersei laughs, however, and says, raising her own eyebrow in response, “I suppose, if you’d prefer.” Cat blushes, a pink stain against her high cheekbones, and it ignites something within Cersei. She wants to kiss Catelyn, then and there, and fuck her against the mattress the way that she’s done to Jaime. Cat’s lips are pink and plump, and Cersei almost closes the gap between them, almost steals her lips bruising, passionate kiss. Catelyn is moving forward, closer and closer to Cersei. Gods, she wants her almost the same way that she wanted Jaime. The difference, however, is that this time, Cersei restrains herself. Cersei pulls back and tries to laugh off their closeness, makes some joke about lionesses and their claws, and Cat looks embarrassed as she laughs it off as well. There is a moment of awkward, awkward silence before Cat blows out the candle.

Afterwards, the two remain silent in the darkness.


 

 

In the light of the morning, Cersei doesn’t know what came over her. It is not that she is unsure of her lust, of that she is certain. Cersei is unsure why she pulled back, why she didn’t kiss Catelyn among the blankets in the low light of the candles. If it were Jaime, Cersei knows that she wouldn’t have hesitated. But there is a part of her, a frightened, fragile part of her so unlike a lion, that fears that this thing she has with Cat could shatter if the other girl didn’t want it too, and by the seven, Cersei fears that possibility. She is ashamed of her fear, but she fears nonetheless.


 

 

It is nearly three days before the almost-kiss is mentioned again, though it feels like an eternity. It is in the candle-light of early night, just as the other time was.

Catelyn’s words spew from her mouth quickly, more like the way Lysa always tends to speak than the way Cat does.

“Petyr, Lysa and I used to play a kissing game” Cersei freezes in her tracks. A cold, bitter feeling grows in the pit of her stomach: jealousy.

“I’ve heard it said that ladies practice on each other, too,” she says, and suddenly Cersei sees precisely where this is going.

“We could play, if you’d like,” Cat says, and the words almost sound like a plea. Cersei, for once, cannot speak. She does not know how to respond; she wants to kiss Cat, wants to do much, much more than kiss her, but gods, she doesn’t want it to be a game. The thought leads to her answer.

“No,” she says, softly, more softly than she thought she could speak, “gods, Cat. I can’t kiss you if it doesn’t mean anything to you.”

She is still trying to compose her through as the next few words come unbidden, like vomit, “I love you.”

Catelyn Tully looks to her shyly, or as shyly as Catelyn can do anything, and asks, “you love me?”

Cersei, once again in control of her wits, does not see now as the time to deny it.

“Yes,” she says. Catelyn laughs, a bell-like, joyful sound, and she seals the gap between them. Cersei presses firmly against her, and takes the kiss as a confession.


 

 

The world seems brighter afterwards, as if everything in the world is more wonderful than before. The sun shines brighter, the castle seems prettier, and Lysa seems less annoying than usual. They take more risks, riding through the countryside, sneaking out to swim at night, and making love as often as they can. All is right with the world.


 

 

Cersei doesn’t understand what it is about her emotional closeness to Cat that makes her want to spew her secrets. But they all eventually come tumbling out: her secret desires, her stupid, childish dreams, and eventually, the extent of her relationship with Jaime. Catelyn seems shocked, but does not seem to know what to say.

“The Targaryens do it, “ Cersei finally says.

“The gods condemn it,” Catelyn tells her, in that sort of shocked, scolding tone that only she can manage.

Cersei adjusts her positioning on Catelyn’s stomach.

“They condemn this too,” she says softly. She wonders if Catelyn, religious, proper Catelyn has somehow forgotten this fact. Cersei is suddenly afraid that she has, and that now she’ll remember. And she’ll want to stop.

Catelyn does not respond, only moves her hand to link with Cersei’s.


 

 

“Lann the Clever stole sunshine from the heavens to put into his hair,” Catelyn tells her. Cersei, of course, already knows this. She is a Lannister, but she enjoys hearing the words come out of Catelyn’s moth as the other girl runs her fingers through Cersei’s golden curls.

“He also won Casterly Rock with his wits,” Cersei says, because that is the part of her history that she is truly proud of.

She pauses a moment before she says, “maybe that’s how I could win your hand, my lady.” Sometimes, Cersei still calls Catelyn “my lady”. She pretends that it’s because it embarrasses her, but the real reason, the one she keeps close to her heart, is that she desperately wants Cat to be her lady, the lady of her castle, the lady of her heart. She knows that it can’t be, but gods, that doesn’t stop her from lusting for it.

Catelyn sighs at her and frowns.

“We both know that wouldn’t work,” she says, in that manner that Cersei has grown so accustomed to- semi-scolding and highly defeated. Cersei will have none of it. She’s still a Lannister, and she can be as clever as Lann.

“My brother has not been promised,” Cersei says, thinking aloud.

“Cersei-“

“You can wed my brother,” she declares, her words holding all the weight of a royal proclamation.

“Jaime,” she repeats, “the one who you used to- to have sex with?”

“No, the dwarf,” she says, not even caring to hold her silver tongue, “Of course Jaime. If anyone would understand our relationship, it’s him.” Cat’s eyes light up, bright blue Tully eyes glittering with joy.

“Do you think that it would work?” Catelyn asks, “do you really think so?”

Cersei smiles, the arrogant smile Cat sometimes scolds her for, and says, “Of course. I thought of it.” Catelyn doesn’t bother to laugh at her, but only looks at her in serious concern.

“Yes, Cat,” she says seriously, joy and certainty flooding into her tone, “I think that it could.” Fostering can forge alliances, but they tend to be weak at best. A marriage alliance with a family as powerful as the Tullys would be suitable for the heir to house Lannister. Her father might actually be pleased, and that, she couldn’t help admitting, would be an enjoyable byproduct.

“Who will we ask first?” Catelyn asks her, as she cradles her head on Cersei’s chest, “my father, or yours?” Cersei remembers the way that her father looked at her, before he shipped her away. As if she had sullied the family name, and was no better than the dirt on his boot.

“Yours,” Cersei says softly, “definitely yours.”


 

 

Catelyn will ask her father in a few days time, and Cersei will help make their case. But Cersei is sure she will not have to convince him much. Her brother is only fourteen years old, and already a knight. Not to mention heir to the wealthiest house in the realm and future Warden of the West.


 

 

The world is wonderful, whole, perfect, until Lord Tully announces Catelyn’s betrothal at dinner that night. Then, Cersei’s plans shatter as the world beneath her crumbles.


 

 

The light of the candles is dim that night. Cersei doesn’t mind much. It’s easier for her to hide her shame.

“Winterfell?” Cersei asks her, voice going faint with fear.

“I know,” Catelyn says softly, choosing to look at her feet instead of the girl in front of her.

“Winterfell,” Cersei repeats. She pauses a moment that might as well have been a lifetime.

“It isn’t fair,” she says softly.

“The world isn’t fair,” Catelyn tells her as she curls into Cersei’s side.

Cersei cannot even imagine Catelyn in the bitter cold North, separate from all of civilization (from her). Catelyn was meant to be a proper lady of the court, clothed in sunshine and smiles, not locked away in a Northern castle, no matter how grand. Cersei wants to give her the realm, to give her gold and steal sunshine for her like Lann the Clever did so long ago. But it seems, Cersei cannot even give Catelyn her brother and the Rock.

Cersei feels as powerless as when her father told her the king had refused her hand for Rhaegar.


 

 

Catelyn’s betrothal, surprisingly, does not put as much of a damper on things as she expected it too. She supposes that they are both skilled in the art of avoidance. If they want to pretend that these days spent riding, reading, and sharing a bed will last forever, then they can. Until Catelyn’s marriage is starring them right in the face. They can ignore septon’s words and the ticking of the clock, but not even a Lannister can escape her fate.


 

 

Though Brandon Stark looms over their heads forever, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish seems the more immediate threat. Cersei does not appreciate him trailing them, or more specifically, trailing Catelyn. The boy is infatuated, and Cersei, for one, does not appreciate it. The boy is more an annoyance than an actual threat to Cersei’s spot in Cat’s heart, but it never hurts to make sure. Cersei never hesitated to crush rivals for Jaime’s affections .


 

 

“How do you feel about Petyr,” Cersei asks her one night in the darkness. She tries to keep the emotions out of her tone, but she’s sure some of the resentment has made its way in. It normally does.

“I don’t like Petyr the way I like you,” Catelyn says, and there’s a hint of disgust in her voice, as if she finds the very suggestion appalling.

“You don’t have to worry about him,” she asserts. Cersei knows what Cat means, that Petyr is not a rival for her heart. But Cersei still worries, because no matter how lowborn, how appalling Catelyn finds him, Petyr Baelish has a greater chance of wedding her than Cersei herself does. Cersei isn’t sure which she feels more, the terrible, burning pain, or the wildfire like anger brewing deep within her belly.


 

 

Some days Cersei sneaks Catelyn lemon cakes, her favorite food, from the kitchen when she is busy making household decisions. When they meet up later to sneak around the castle, Cersei will place it into Cat’s hand.

“You’ll have to stop stealing these eventually,” Cat tells her, because it happens so often that it is almost routine. It would almost be mundane, if anything between the two could ever be mundane.

Cersei smiles and says, with the biggest, sappiest smile, “I’d steal anything for you.” It’s true, though. If she could, she would steal the Rock back from her brother and give it to Cat. She would steal the Iron Throne, and all the gold in the royal treasury and give it to her. But that’s a conversation for the middle of the night, when feelings run rampant and caution is scarce.

“By the Seven, you’re such a sap,” Cat says, but there’s a large smile on her face. Then she takes a bite of the lemon cake, and it leaves a trail of powered sugar on her upper lip. Cersei laughs at her, but licks it away with a swift, sweet kiss.


 

 

The state of the realm seems to be growing more and more unstable, but Cersei and Cat hardly notice. The summer months are still here, and the river is high. They sneak out to swim, the bright moonlight making Catelyn’s wet, auburn hair look like a blazing fire of red. They kiss and touch and laugh, drinking wine and splashing about under the moonlight, pretending the wonderful days aren’t quickly coming to an end.


 

 

The days of blissful ignorance and avoidance end when Brandon Stark arrives in Riverrun. He is tall, wild, and charming. His hair is black, Stark black, and his eyes as grey as a winter’s cloudy sky. Cersei knows that as future lord of Winterfell, he really is one of the greatest marriages that Catelyn could have hoped for.

No greater than Jaime, a voice whispers angrily, and another smaller, bitterer voice whispers even softer, no greater than me.

Cat and Lysa dress in their house colors: bright blue and blazing scarlet that would look good on no one but a Tully. With her high-cheek bones, sky-blue eyes and deep auburn hair, Cersei thinks that Cat looks no less royal than Rhaegar Targaryen.

She deserves to be lady of the Rock, Cersei thinks, or queen of the Seven kingdoms. Catelyn deserves better than the North.

Lysa is jealous, almost desperately so, and Cersei would have laughed at the girl’s pain if it weren’t so similar to her own. The only consolation is that Cersei can tell that Catelyn is only being courteous. She is not happy with this arrangement. It’s an empty, bitter sort of joy.


 

 

Petyr Baelish challenges Brandon for Catelyn’s hand. He loses of course; a fourteen year old just a few steps above a commoner couldn’t hope to best the heir to Winterfell. But the part that gets under Cersei’s skin, that boils her blood, is that she is highborn, just as highborn as Brandon Stark, and she knows that if she were allowed to have learned to swordfight, she could have beaten him. 


 

 

“I’ll challenge Brandon for your hand, my lady” she says softly into Cat’s ear. Cersei means it too, and she knows she'd do a far better job than Littlefinger. 

By the Seven, Cersei envies Jaime. Her younger brother has everything she ever wanted. He’s allowed to fight with a sword. He’s father’s heir. He’s respected, and if their roles were reversed, then she would be allowed to marry Catelyn. The Warden of the West would be a suitable match for the daughter of the Lord Paramount of the Riverlands, and she would have thought of it soon enough to stop Cat’s betrothal to Brandon. Cersei should have been born a boy. It would have solved all of her problems.

Then she would have the Rock, and she could give it to Catelyn. Besides, Cat would look magnificent in Lannister scarlet and gold.

Cersei can see the scene clearly in her mind. The sept in Lannisport is covered in scarlet and gold. All of her relatives have come to see their union: father, Jaime, Aunt Genna, and all of her uncles. Catelyn is stunning in her colors, her auburn hair striking against her scarlet gown, and Cersei drapes the same cloak around her shoulders that her father once draped around her own mother’s shoulders.

“Are you sure you can beat Brandon Stark?” Catelyn teases, for a moment allowing her to keep her fantasy, “he seems a fierce warrior.” He’s already defeated Petyr; he probably would have killed the boy if Catelyn had not intervened.

“If Jaime can do it, then it can’t be too hard.” Cersei says, remembering the tourney where her brother had unhorsed the Northman. Catelyn giggles, and for a moment she sounds as carefree as Lysa, but not vapid. Cat is not vapid. She never forgets the way that the world works. She does not allow herself to forget the way that Cersei does, and she certainly is not oblivious to it the way that Lysa is.

“I want that,” Cat says softly, nuzzling softly into Cersei’s arms.

“By the Seven, Cersei, I want that so much,” she says, and that’s when the tears start to fall against the bare skin of Cersei’s chest.

“But we both know that you can’t,” Cat says softly, her voice muffled from its place in the crook of Cersei’s neck. Cersei knows this as well as Cat does, but Gods, she doesn’t want to believe it. She wants to believe that there’s something that she can do, some way that the two of them can stay together. 

“We could offer you my brother’s hand,” Cersei says, trying to dredge up her old plan, “the Warden of the West is as respected a position as the Warden of the North.”

“He’s already promised my hand to Brandon,” Cat laments, “The Starks would be insulted.” She does not remind Cersei that they have tried this before, and that it didn’t work. Sometimes, Cat is considerate that way.

“The Others take the Starks,” Cersei says, “I just care about you, Cat.” She just wants the Rock and Cat, but she’s not likely to have either and it enrages her. She can feel the angry, bitter tears start to fall from her eyes, and she curses herself for that as well.

“It isn’t fair,” She wants to say, but as Catelyn so loves to remind her: the world isn’t fair.

Weak, Cersei thinks, useless. I should have been born with a cock.

Catelyn doesn’t scold her this time, though she often does. This time, she simply nuzzles closer into Cersei’s embrace. If it weren’t for the tears falling onto her collar bone, Cersei might have mistook the other girl for happy.


 

 

Brandon leaves soon after that, and they try to allow things to go back to the way that they were. In many ways, they do. They ride, they tell stories, and they make love, but it feels different.

Wounds may heal, but they scar as well. A sense of urgency has set in now, after starring the end of their blissful, summer days in the face. The Stark words echo in Cersei’s mind: winter is coming. But she tries to forget it as she presses against Catelyn, drinking in the taste of summer and lemon cakes in her mouth.


 

 

The war starts the way that wildfire lights: suddenly and violently. Word that Lyanna Stark has been taken by Rhaegar Targaryen comes only days before word of Brandon and Rickard Stark’s deaths. This brings an abrupt end to any semblance of normalcy the girls might have clung to and any trace of halcyon days.

 

Cat weeps for him. She barely knew him, but Cat weeps for him, and it makes Cersei angry.

 

The night comes, the way that it always does, and Cat seems to have noticed Cersei’s feelings. The tears flow like a river, each drop that falls being quickly replaced by another. 

“Does this make you happy?” Cat asks her, through her tears, tears for her betrothed that she scarcely knew, and tears for possibilities. They make Cersei angry.

She wants to say yes, because it would be the truth, but some part of her holds her back. The part of her that loves Cat wins out against the part of her that is so enraged. Cersei says nothing at all. Cat curls closer into her, and Cersei wraps her arms around her more tightly. She cannot protect her with a sword, the way a husband can, but she can protect Cat this way.


 

Even more than peacetime marriages, wartime marriages are solely political. Catelyn will wed Brandon’s younger brother, the new lord of Winterfell, and Lysa will wed Lord Arryn, a man older than her father. Cersei almost feels sorry for her. Her father has declared for the rebels, assuming that she is wed to the man who ends up on the throne. Cersei does not find herself pleased by the notion.


 

 

“I won’t come to love him,” Cersei tells her, “whoever I come to marry, I promise you, Cat. Promise me that you won’t love your Stark lord.”

“Promise me, Cat,” Cersei implores. Her lover is silent for a moment.

“I promise,” she says softly, and Cersei feels a small bit of the trepidation melt away.


 

 

Eddard Stark is solemn and silent, unlike his wild older brother. His appearance is terribly plain compared to Brandon’s wild good looks. There is a part of her that is angry that Catelyn has to settle for him, but there is another part, the vindictive part, that is glad he will never compare to her. She won’t have to worry about him usurping her spot in Cat’s heart.


 

 

Ned Stark is only at Riverrun a few days before departing to fight his war. Catelyn is left confused and worried, surrounded by the whirlwind that is the war and its confusion. Cersei is left frightened for their futures and angered by the state of her fate. Not even sex can drown out their feelings, though they try.


 

 

The war is won. Cersei knows that she’s supposed to feel happy. Their side has emerged victorious, and now her father is shipping her off to wed the king. She should be happy. But gods, all she can think about as she beds Cat that night before she leaves is how much this tastes like goodbye, like the end. All she can think of is how similar it is to her last night with Jaime. How Catelyn still tastes like sweetness and sunshine and lemon cakes, and all she wants is to stay with her forever.

When she awakens in the morning, and prepares to leave for King’s Landing, she feels nothing but dread. All she wants is a happy ending.

There might be happy endings. Cersei honestly doesn’t know. There might be a happy ending for someone, somewhere, but there are no happy endings for lords’ daughters who wish to marry highborn ladies. There are no happy endings for ladies who wish to be lords, who wish to be knights. There are no happy endings for Cersei Lannister.


 

 

Once, Cersei Lannister had wished to be queen. That was back when her father was Hand and Rhaegar Targaryen was the fairest man in the Seven Kingdoms. It was before her fostering in Riverrun, before Catelyn, and certainly before the rebellion. Now, her father is making her a queen anyway.

Robert Baratheon is a large, hairy man, appealing in the way that wild thing are. He is nothing like Rhaegar Targaryen, nothing like Jaime, nothing like Catelyn. But still, she is to be queen, and Cersei supposes that is something. She should be happy, but she finds that she does not feel much at all.

She can imagine Catelyn smiling at her softly from across the sept, and Cersei finds her heart breaking. She knows, somewhere deep within her, that she would give up this crown for Catelyn. She wants Casterly Rock. She wants Cat, but Cersei Lannister has never quite gotten the things that she wanted. 

Her new husband looks terribly disappointed as they say their vows, still mourning the Stark girl, but Cersei doesn’t find herself caring much.

“At least we will both be unhappy,” she thinks, and there’s a sort of final resignation to the fate she should be rejoicing.

The septon pronounces them man and wife, and as they proclaim their eternal love, neither smiles.