Saoirse had her fingers tented in front of her, Arryn blue eyes narrowed as she listened to Littlefinger explain the crown's debts for the umpteenth time. The King sat at the head of the table, clearly not listening as he dug the dirt from under his fingernails with a knife. His assigned Kingsguard, Jaime Lannister, nobly stood against the wall behind his king. In the sunlight of the room his blonde hair practically glowed and she had to tear her eyes away from him for fear of going blind.
She could feel Grand Maester Pycelle's eyes boring into the side of her face; he had always disapproved of her being in the meetings simply because of her gender. She knew it was only a matter of time before he voiced his disapproval.
As if on cue, the old man cleared his throat and adjusted himself in his seat, "I am not sure if we should be divulging such intimate information for those who are not members of the council."
Saoirse rolled her eyes and dropped her hands to her lap, "Things being what they are, Grand Maester, my father is unable to leave his sickbed and sent me in his stead. If you would shuffle on off to your library full of books and figure out a way to cure him, you wouldn't have to suffer my presence." She stared him down and watched him bristle at the accusation of incompetence. She felt a flicker of pride at being able to make him squirm.
"I assure you, my lady, I am doing everything I can for Lord Arryn."
"If that were true and you truly were a Grand Maester, my father would be here instead of me. Please continue, Lord Baelish." She said politely, folding her hands on the table in front of her. If she wasn't mistaken, she heard Jaime Lannister stifle a laugh.
"Damn this inanity! There is more to life than counting coppers! Sair, I'll be in my chambers if anything important comes about." King Robert hoisted himself from his chair and looked pointedly at her, a teasing smile in his eyes, "Although I highly doubt it will."
She smiled back to the man she considered an older brother. She had been four years old when Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark had arrived to be fostered at her father's home, the Eyrie. She would follow them around the mountaintop castle, demanding they play knights and damsels with her until they relented. Since his hair was longer and he had a better flair for dramatics, Robert had often been the damsel for Ned and Saoirse to save. They were all very fond of each other, Robert and Saoirse and Ned, and remained that way during and after the rebellion.
"Come, Lannister!" Robert demanded of Jaime as he bustled out of the room, which fell into an awkward silence with the sudden departure. Saoirse was the first to break the silence by standing and clearing her throat.
"I think that's enough for today. Thank you, my lords. I will see you three days hence when we reconvene." She lifted herself to her feet and left the room without so much as a glance over her shoulder, Ser Hugh following closely behind her. In truth, she hadn't been focused on the meeting at all. Her mind had been with her ailing father, Jon Arryn, in the Tower of the Hand, where she was headed now.
She climbed the tower's stairs, pausing outside her half-brother's chambers when she thought she heard him crying out, but it was just her stepmother, Lysa, singing to him. Saoirse cringed at the ghastly sound and continued upward to her father's chamber. Ser Vardis Egen stood guard outside and nodded to her as he opened the door, his gruff voice muttering a respectful, "My lady," as she passed.
The room was dark and stifling hot, lit by no more than a pair of candles. Saoirse thought her father asleep and turned to leave when she heard him rasp her name.
"Saoirse, come here my girl."
She did as she was bid and sat in the chair next to his bed, no doubt put there by Maester Colemon.
"I'm here, Father. I've just come from the Small Council – "
"Hush, girl, I do not wish to hear. I must tell you some things before…before…"
"Before what, Father?" she asked, placing a hand on his. He was scorching hot. She had half a mind to open the window.
"I fear I am not long for this world…"
"Father, I do not wish to hear that!"
"Hush and listen! I am dying, Saoirse."
"No! No you're not! You're just ill! You'll be fine!" she sprung up from her seat and backed away from him, moving to open the window. She paused there before opening it, feeling the sea breeze on her face and wishing more than anything to be on a ship, riding away from her problems.
"Whatever happens, you must get Robert to put you on the Small Council, bring me that scroll on the table." He weakly gestured to the small table in the corner and Saoirse rose from her seat, picking up the only scroll she could see amidst the debris from various potions and poultices. A pang reverberated through her torso; her father was old, to be sure, but he had been healthy as a horse. This illness was sudden and severe and for a brief moment Saoirse realized that she just might lose her father.
She let that thought go almost instantly; the combined knowledge of Maester Colemon and Grand Maester Pycelle would surely save him, she thought as she unrolled the paper.
"I, Jon Arryn, being of sound mind at the time of this writing, do hereby formally suggest to Robert Baratheon, First of his name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Protector of the Realm, that on the occasion of my demise that my daughter, Saoirse Arryn, be named Hand of the King until such a time that a replacement can be found. Additionally, I suggest that if she performs her duties as Hand sufficiently that she be granted the position of Royal Advisor and retain a seat on the Small Council with a stipend of no less than…Father, that number can't be right!" she read aloud, tears brimming her eyes. The letter was signed by her father, Maester Colemon, and Ser Vargis.
"Five thousand golden dragons per annum. More than fair to put up with Robert, I assure you." Her father smiled at her from his sickbed. Even in the dim light of the room, she could tell he was a sickly gray color. He looked weak, as if his age was catching up with him.
"Father, why are you doing this?"
"I want you to be taken care of after I'm gone. And since you will never marry, and young Robert is my legal heir, I can't think of another option more suitable."
The tears spilled down her cheeks and she nodded, resuming her seat next to her father. With great effort, he moved his hand on top of hers and attempted to comfort her.
"Saoirse, I hope that you realize…I love you more than anything. If I could name you my sole heir I would but…"
"The law is the law." She sniffled, wiping away some of her tears.
"Go give that to Robert, and he will take care of you."
"Promise to still be here when I get back?" she asked, only half-joking with him.
He smiled a feeble smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. "I promise."
She rose to her feet once more and kissed her father's forehead, "I love you, Father. Thank you." She whispered to him before taking her leave.
She was loath to leave the room, but she realized the urgency of her father's request. If she presented it to the king after her father's passing, the legitimacy of the letter would be called into question, something she could ill afford. She made her way through the afternoon sunshine to King Robert's chambers, hoping to find him in a cheerful disposition.
It was one of those days where Ser Jaime's mind drifted to tempting thoughts about turning in his white cloak and giving his father the heir he desired. He would be Lord of Casterly Rock then, upon his father's demise. He'd take a pretty little wife, put a few children in her, and grow old in his childhood home.
That scenario was much more pleasurable than the one he currently found himself in. Robert had taken an afternoon whore, finished within ten minutes with his usual haggard grunt, and was now drunkenly singing chorus after chorus of "The Bear and the Maiden Fair," all while making Ser Jaime listen at the door. Ser Barristan Selmy had ducked away for a few minutes, citing a call of nature.
The knight leaned lazily against the cool marble wall behind him, one hand on his sword and eyes scanning the corridor for any disturbance. There was none, so he sighed and let his head drop and his mind wander.
"Ser Jaime?" a familiar voice pulled him out of his musings and he raised his head to see the lovely Saoirse Arryn standing in front of him expectantly.
"He's busy, if you can't hear." Jaime drawled, flicking his eyes in the direction of the door.
"Is he alone? I have something rather urgent to speak with him about." Her face was pale and she held a small scroll delicately in her left hand.
Jaime sighed, "I will announce you." He pushed himself off the wall and pounded on the door before entering. The king was filling his goblet with yet another cup of wine, humming a tune to himself. The whore had been dismissed, so the king was alone.
"Lady Saoirse Arryn to see you, Your Grace." Jaime said a bit louder than was necessary, as it was the afternoon and the king would be beginning a slight hangover from that morning's indulgences.
"Seven hells, Kingslayer, no need to shout! Send her in." the king blared irritably, gesturing with the hand that did not hold his goblet.
Jaime stepped out of the room and bowed to Saoirse, extending an arm so as to usher into the room. She thanked him quietly and shut the door behind her so Jaime was once again left alone.
This time his thoughts drifted to the young woman who had just passed him. He had always somewhat admired the young falconess. She often held her father's seat the Small Council, a beautiful young woman of four-and-twenty with no husband and no prospects. Why? Everyone in King's Landing knew the truth due to the dramatic events of seven years prior. A visiting knight from the Riverlands, Ser Josef Nayland, had raped Saoirse. Jaime had caught him in the act and delivered the gods' justice by running him through with his sword at least a dozen times, but the damage was already done. Saoirse was no longer a maiden.
In terms of vengeance, the gods had been on Saoirse's side. Before the debacle, she had been betrothed to Willas Tyrell. After news of her despoilment, Mace Tyrell called off the engagement. Once the word got out, it appeared that her other prospects were bleak, so her father sent her away on a tour of Dorne.
By Jaime's estimation she had come back a completely different woman. She had left the Red Keep as the girl who forgave him, innocent with an almost childlike frailty that had come from too many nights spent in the library and skipping a few too many meals, but she returned a fully-realized woman with strong, lithe limbs and a new hardness in her eyes. A small trace of the girl remained, but the woman prevailed.
After her return, men seemed to gravitate toward her despite the fact that she was no longer marriageable. Perhaps that was part of her appeal; like a whore, a man could have his fun with her and then leave her by the wayside, but because of her title they could feel prideful about it. That thought irked Jaime the most and he was quick to reprimand those he overheard speaking indecorously of the young Lady Arryn, usually with a swift backhand.
Because the truth was that Jaime had killed her rapist not out of chivalry like most everyone thought but because he held deep, confusing, and frustrating affections for Saoirse. He had since their first meeting, just after she had arrived from the Vale. She unexpectedly disappeared and the castle was set to searching for her. Jaime was strolling through the halls aimlessly, half-heartedly looking for the child when he poked his head into the library.
The girl was splayed out on the floor, holding a book in the air above her face, her Arryn blue eyes devouring the words in front of her. She was no more than ten years old, a bit lanky for her age, and paid him no mind as he strode over to her, armor clinking noisily as he approached. He stood above her looking down expectantly, but her eyes remained on her book.
"Did my father send you, Ser Jaime?" she asked, a bored tone in her child's voice.
"You know who I am?" he queried bemusedly as he shifted his weight to his right foot, lazily perching his left hand on the hilt of his sword. She had caught him unawares, but he wasn't going to show it.
"Everyone knows who you are."
"And who am I?" Jaime was toying with her now, wanting to catch her off guard as she had caught him.
She closed the book and sat up, crossing her legs in front of her. "You're Jaime Lannister. The Kingslayer."
Jaime felt a familiar flash of anger at his recent moniker and his grip tightened on the hilt of his sword, but he forced himself to relax and centered himself once more. She was just a child, after all.
"Yes, well it seems you have an advantage on me, for you know my name but I do not know yours." He pulled the corner of his mouth back in a half-smile but she just continued to stare at him blankly.
"I don't think so. I think you heard my name but forgot it because Ser Jaime Lannister has better things to occupy him mind than the names of young ladies at court." Her expression didn't change while she chided him. No smile, no flash in her eyes, not even the flicker of a smirk.
Jaime's half-smile grew until it split his face open and he laughed heartily.
"We have only just met, young Lady Arryn, but you've got me pegged!" his amusement boomed through his laughter and once his mirth subsided he knelt down so he was eye level with her, "I do apologize for my rudeness, but might I hear your name one more time? I swear on my honor that I will not forget it this time."
She paused as if trying to decide whether or not he was serious before saying, "Saoirse."
"That is a beautiful name. I shall commit it to memory." He lifted himself back up, as the stone floor had been pushing on a bruise he'd received in the yard a few days ago. "Now, Saoirse, we should go find your family. Your father and stepmother are very worried about you."
The girl followed him out of the library and down the hall silently before asking, "Ser Jaime?"
"Why did you kill the King?"
The question was so blunt that Jaime nearly staggered back as he stopped in his tracks. It occurred to him that no one had really asked him that question. Surely, they'd asked how and when and but the why was always ignored. People figured they already knew or could guess at why, and those who rose to power in the aftermath seemed to choose not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
"How old are you?" he asked her, not willing to divulge such dark information and spoil her blissful childhood.
"I killed the king because he was mad. He was going to…do a very bad thing and I had to stop him." Jaime stuttered, not knowing what words to use.
The girl's face darkened again and she looked to the ground pensively, "He was going to burn the city down, wasn't he?"
"Now how do you know that?" Jaime tried not to let on that her assumption was correct lest she go blabbing to her father.
"He was a Targaryen, a dragon, and dragons have fire. If a dragon goes mad he burns things. There are lots of stories like that." She explained with an easy shrug of her shoulders. "And in all the stories a handsome knight slays the dragon. So you were just doing your job. I don't see what all the fuss is about."
Jaime was taken aback. A girl of ten understood what the entire realm could not; that Jaime had saved thousands of lives by taking the life of his king. What many people saw as an attempt to please his father, this girl knew to be a noble act. The act of a handsome knight of legend. He laughed at the thought, but quickly changed the subject.
"You think I'm handsome?" he teased, raising one of his eyebrows. He knew it was inappropriate to be flirting with a girl her age and the daughter of the King's Hand, but it was harmless. She probably didn't even like boys yet.
"Don't flatter yourself, Ser." She crossed her arms across her chest defiantly, "I don't even like boys yet."
Jaime laughed harder at this and then he knew; this girl was special. She was different. She may even turn some heads someday.
Little did he know that one of those heads would be his own. Even before her time in Dorne, she was incredibly beautiful. Her blonde hair was light, somewhere between the gold tones of the Lannisters and white of the Targaryens. She usually kept it braided back, but on cooler days she would wear it loose about her shoulders. Her icy blue eyes and aquiline nose were delicate and pretty, and her body was athletic but small.
That body that had inspired many a crude jape now whipped past him, her delicate hands wiping her face. Jaime could hear her sniffling and took a few steps to catch up with her, grabbing her elbow.
"Saoirse, what's wrong? What did he do?" he asked, concern marking his face. Her skin was warm under his touch.
"It's nothing, Ser Jaime. Please, I must get back to my father." She pulled her arm out of his grasp and continued away from him.
"Lannister! Get your golden arse in here!" the king roared from inside his chambers, which prevented Jaime from following her. He sighed and entered the room that stank of wine, sweat, and sex. The smell always made Jaime nearly gag and wish for an opened window, but he never let on.
"How may I be of service, Your Grace?" he asked in what he had meant to be a congenial manner, but it came out of his mouth as sardonic.
"You are a learned man, Lannister?" The king asked from his seat next to his great table, one hand cupping a goblet and the other scratching his amble gut.
"More than some, much less than others Your Grace."
"Tell me, has there ever been a female Hand of the King?"
Jaime paused, thinking back over as much of his history lessons as he could, "No, your grace, I do not think so."
The King grunted and paused, as if in deliberation, "Get me Renly."
"I shall summon him, Your Grace." Jaime gave a short bow and left the room, stationing Ser Barristan Selmy on the door while he ran that particular errand.
A female Hand? Surely there had never been one. Indeed, Jaime was sure that there hadn't so much as been a woman on the Small Council. At least not since the earliest Targaryens. Was that what had Saoirse asked the king? To become Hand if her father passed on? No, Saoirse wasn't that ambitious. She took pleasure in books and travel and, occasionally, dancing and watching tourneys. Not governing.
He had heard of Lord Arryn's ailing health only that morning, surely he couldn't be that close to death? Jon Arryn was an ox among men, with the strength and stamina of a much younger man and the wisdom of a hundred maesters. Jaime had respected the Hand of the King, especially after Saoirse's rape when he started showing Jaime more respect.
He approached Lord Renly's door and knocked loudly, interrupting laughter from inside. His squire, Ser Loras, answered.
"The King wishes to see Lord Renly in his chambers."
"He will be along." The pretty boy said, closing the door a bit too quickly not to arouse suspicion. Not that Jaime cared about what Renly Baratheon the peacock did behind closed doors, but he knew others would.
The King's brother stepped out of the room quickly, straightening his fine velvet doublet before following Jaime. They made polite chit chat about the weather on their way, and when they reached Ser Barristan the older knight elected to announce. He, unlike Jaime, did seem to care about Renly's bedroom antics and avoided him as much as possible.
Renly disappeared into the room and the two Kingsguard stood in silence.
"Are you on guard tonight as well?" Ser Barristan asked casually.
Jaime inclined his head to his Lord Commander, "I've got the night off, actually. I was going to visit Lord Arryn, pay my respects."
Ser Barristan snorted, "To him or his daughter?"
"Lord Arryn has been a most capable Hand. He deserves much more respect than I think he gets."
"Right. Give him my best." Ser Barristan looked as if he didn't quite believe Jaime's reasoning, but didn't push the matter further.
"I will, Lord Commander."
An hour later, Renly left the King's chamber with a scroll he hadn't entered with and headed off in the direction of the Tower of the Hand. The preening peacock looked as if the King had ruffled his feathers a bit, as was wont to happen when King Robert was alone with his younger brother. About an hour after that, Ser Barristan dismissed Jaime as the sun had started its descent. He bid his Lord Commander a good night and started off in the same direction Lord Renly had gone.
He approached the Tower of the Hand and could already tell something was very wrong. He thought he could hear shrill screaming coming from the uppermost windows, no doubt Lord Arryn's shrew of a third wife. Jaime asked one of the Arryn household guard what was going on and the grey-eyed knight answered him dolefully.
"Ser, Lord Arryn died not ten minutes ago."
Jaime's heart sunk; he was too late to pay his respects to a man who had, for the most part, always respected him. Then his thoughts snapped to the other reason (and, if he was honest with himself, the real reason) he was visiting the Tower that night; Saoirse.
"I wish to see Lady Saoirse." He said in his most commanding voice. He was Kingsguard after all, he outranked them. They had to let him pass. Jaime's resolute look didn't falter, and the guards stepped aside.
Jaime bounded up the winding stairs, the screaming becoming clearer.
"HOW COULD HE LEAVE US LIKE THIS?! HIS SON NEEDS HIM! THAT SELFISH MAN, THAT SELFISH, SELFISH MAN!" Lysa Arryn screams echoed down the tower and Jaime slowed his ascent, not at all eager to reach the top and encounter the freshly made widow.
To his surprise, he found Saoirse curled up on the stairs about one-third of the way from the top of the tower and the Hand's chambers. She was sitting with her knees pulled up to her chest, her hands clamped over her ears and her eyes squeezed shut like a child trying to shut out the world around her. It didn't take him long to guess as to why.
He approached her softly and gently placed his hands on her wrists. She jumped a bit at the physical contact with an unknown person, and her blue eyes opened. Her face was red and blotchy, she'd obviously been crying. Once she recognized him her body relaxed enough for her to throw her arms about his neck and bury her face in his armor.
All he could think to do was wrap his arms around her in return as she cried. He pushed her away slightly and slid one arm under her bent knees, lifting her up in his strong arms and carrying her down to her chambers. He ignored the looks he received from Ser Vardis Egen, never having cared much for the rock-faced knight.
He placed Saoirse in a chair by her window and moved away from her, unstrapping his armor. If she was going to continue crying on his shoulder he figured it would be easier if that shoulder wasn't encased in metal and leathers.
She didn't ask what he was doing; she just stared blankly at him. Slowly, she pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them, still staring at Jaime. He moved over to her and gingerly brushed a stray lock of hair out of her face.
"Saoirse, I'm – "
She interrupted him by putting a finger over his lips, effectively silencing him as she unfurled from her tightly closed position.
"Don't." she whispered, quickly replacing her finger with her lips.
It was not the first kiss they'd shared, but Jaime was still surprised. He pulled away, but she reached a hand through his thick hair, holding the back of his head in position. Surrendering to it, he cupped her cheek and deepened the kiss, placing his other hand on her waist. Her hair smelled like lilies and her skin smelled like citrus. He could feel himself harden as she whimpered slightly. Jaime wanted nothing more than to move her to the bed and make her forget about her troubled, but before he could take his actions further, someone started pounding on the door.
"Lady Saoirse, your stepmother wishes to see you." Ser Vardis's voice rang through the door. Saoirse pulled away and rested her forehead against Jaime's.
"What does that horrid shrew want?" she asked loudly but not moving from her spot.
"She didn't say, my lady, but she was rather insistent."
"Don't go." Jaime whispered. He didn't want her to go; he wanted to continue kissing her.
"I have to." She whispered back. He could see in her eyes that she wanted what he did, but she had an obligation to her family at the moment.
Jaime nodded, not happy about having their exploits interrupted but understanding why. The next few days would be hectic for everyone in the castle as Lord Arryn's funeral was arranged, so, taking advantage of his last chance, he kissed her again and let a hand gently cup one of her breasts, making her moan ruefully as she pulled away.
She left without a word, following Ser Vardis up toward her screaming stepmother and leaving Ser Jaime to sneak out of her chambers and down the stairs, out into the night.
The knight appreciated the chill in the breeze, it cooled the fire she ignited in him. His walk back to the White Tower was a bit awkward, being as stiff as he was, but no one bothered him.
He reached his chambers and fell onto his soft bed, sighing loudly.
That night, he dreamt of her. As he did most nights. That was the only way he could have her. For now, at least.
And for now, it was enough.
Hey all! This is my second GOT fanfiction, and updates will be pretty slow as I've got a few other stories I'm working on. Right now, I'm throwing out a bunch of new stories to see which ones people like the most, so if you want me to continue Follow, Favorite, but most of all REVIEW!
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