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public promises (to fulfill a private obligation)

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It takes the better part of a fortnight to arrange the wedding, but his father is determined to have it done before the guests arrive in King’s Landing for Joffrey’s marriage to Margaery Tyrell. Cersei comes to Jaime once, coy at first and then furious that he would sell himself so cheaply—not that he would sell himself, no, but that he would do so with someone she had deemed unworthy.

“I will do my best to make sure you approve of my next wife,” he says dryly.

“Or you could break this betrothal,” Cersei says, her hand lingering against her throat. “You do not have to do this.”

“The same way you do not have to marry Loras Tyrell?”

She gives an artful sigh and throws herself upon his bed, though there is a chair nearer.

“You know it is not the same,” she protests. “Father insists—”

“Father always insists. I am not the one who had agreed time and time again. I am not the one who—”

“Do you love her?”

He knows Cersei merely wants reassurance of his devotion, but he finds he does not have the ability to give it to her, not this time. She has barely come to see him since his return, avoids his hand or sneers. Tells him that he had taken too long, abandoned her.

“Cersei—”

She waves a hand. “Nevermind. I imagine she’ll grunt like a stuck pig when you fuck her. Unless you already have?”

“Leave the lady out of this, Cersei,” he sneers, harsh words more persuasive than gentle ones. “It is an ugly look on you, as if you believe you have reason to fear her.”

“Of course not. I’m merely concerned for you, that is all. Are you certain she has a cunt?”

“If she does not, it would be all the more difficult to fuck her,” Jaime replies. “Surely that would be an advantage?”

Cersei rises from the bed and strides across the room. She grips his chin, her fingernails digging into the flesh of his jaw, pleasure and pain together as they always were.

“Careful with your words, brother,” she purrs sweetly. “I’m beginning to think you lost your cock along with your hand.”

He bares his teeth in a grin. “You’re welcome to see for yourself.”

Her eyes scrape over him, her grip tightens. “I don’t believe I will,” she says. “Unless you wish to beg for it. On your knees.”

“I would,” he replies, standing, dropping his voice and leaning in to her ear, “but I have a wedding to prepare for. Do let me know if you change your mind. Might as well dine once more before you begin to smell of roses.”

She’s silent as he strides for the door, and in his rage he forgets and reaches for the cursed thing with his right—Cersei snickers then, and he pulls the door open with more force than is necessary. Brienne will undoubtedly be in the Godswood once more, and so he heads there.

She’s walking with Margaery Tyrell, who links her arm through Brienne’s and seems to simper. Jaime does not trust a Tyrell any more than he trusts a Lannister, and from Brienne’s stiff posture he can only presume she feels the same. Still, he is surprised when she sees him and turns to Margaery, saying something with that gentle not-smile of hers and then pulling her arm away so she can approach Jaime alone.

“Has something gone wrong?” she asks, once they are close enough not to be overheard. “Has Sansa—”

“Lady Sansa is well. I believe. No. I— There is naught wrong, I had thought to join you on your stroll, but I see you have a companion.” He bows. “Apologies, Lady Brienne.”

She looks at him strangely; evaluating him, he thinks, and it takes all his foresight not to hide his maimed arm away. She has seen it all already, every good deed and ugly thought. Or perhaps not all of them. Finally, she nods.

“Nonsense, Ser Jaime. You are welcome to join us. It will serve our ruse well,” she says, voice low, and then does seem to smile, though he can not identify how, “and Lady Margaery is quite— much.”

“Well then, my lady, it would be rude of me to decline.” He bows again, then offers his own arm as one might escort any lady. She looks at it in suspicion, and he grins. “Quite right. How thoughtless of me. Let us rejoin the Lady Margaery.”

It is quite a pleasant afternoon, so much so that he almost forgets the strange encounter with Cersei, how familiar it had been and yet… not. It unsettles him, and when they eventually return to the Keep and intend to part for the night he makes a point of drawing Brienne close and pressing a kiss to her hand, a man courting his betrothed and not—

“Be wary of my sister,” he whispers, when they are as near as they can be.

“I do not think she can gossip half so cruelly as men in an army camp,” she replies, and Jaime’s hand tightens.

“She would—” He does not know what Cersei would do, can remember all the things she has done to those who would move against her; he is not as certain as he once was that they had conspired against Cersei. “Be wary. Please.”

She gives a confused, short nod and takes her leave, and in bed that night he allows the day to play out again and again in his mind. He cannot protect Brienne, but cannot leave her undefended either. Perhaps… Yes, that would do well.

And so it is that on the morn of their serendipitous wedding that she comes to the sept with a Valyrian steel sword upon her hip, and Jaime tells his father that a sword meant for his son will be in no safer care than the boy’s mother-to-be. It is a risk, but all of this is. And there are few he would trust so well to take it with.

***

They are set in an apartment within the Keep; it comes with two bedchambers, but the night of their wedding they retire to the larger of the two and set about making the room up. Two goblets of wine are poured, and Jaime drinks them both, leaving dregs for those who would look. Brienne snaps a lacing from her tunic and drops it onto the floor, and when Jaime arches an eyebrow—when he cannot help but wonder if the choice is her understanding of relations between men and women, or a desire of her own—she blushes furiously and yanks the covers back with force. It is not strange to sleep beside her, though he is more accustomed to the hard ground and little cover from brushes than a feather mattress and warmth. She is restless though, and finally sighs.

“May we— If your arm is well, may we switch positions?”

He is on the right side of the bed; to switch would put his stump between them. It would be simple to say it was still tender, that he did not wish to risk further injury; instead he silently rises and rounds the bed, and she does the same, settling the sword against the wall at her side.

“The lion pommel is a bit much,” Jaime says, for something to say, “but it will serve you well when you leave. Have you thought to name it?”

She shakes her head. “Only a— It would inspire too many questions, my thought,” she says. “It shall remain nameless.”

“Surely you can tell your husband,” he says dryly.

She doesn’t reply, merely settles herself into the bed once more and the silence stretches through the dark, broken only by moonlight through a window.

“Oathkeeper,” she finally replies. “I thought to call it Oathkeeper.”

I should like that, he means to say, but finds the words stick in his throat.