"How dare you?!" I hissed. We were my office in Maegor's Holdfast.
"How else could I get to you?"
"I literally take petitions from people every couple of days."
"Oh yes, me announcing it to court would have been so great for you!"
"You basically announced it to the entire city! And all you'd have had to do would to show up, and I'd have talked to you."
"I'm sure it would've been that easy." She snarked.
"It would have been! I care about you!"
"You haven't seen me since you impregnated me."
"I've been fighting a war; in case you haven't noticed!"
She glared. "You've been back for a week."
"I am the King of Seven Kingdoms, you can't expect me to drop everything for a –" I cut myself off, knowing I would regret saying what had come to mind. Unfortunately, she knew what I was going to say.
"For a whore? And you were saying you cared."
I chose not to respond. "Why didn't you take moon tea?"
"Why should I need to?"
I spluttered. "I'm the King!"
"You didn't need to bed me!"
"You practically forced yourself on me!" I yelled.
"You didn't seem to mind when you were moaning out my name, Alis! Alis!" She imitated.
I blushed, knowing that she was right. "I can't raise him. But I can support you, you and the child, when it arrives, will want for nothing."
She stood there for a few moments. "I suppose that's the best I could have hoped for."
I nodded, before calling for someone to escort her out.
It was not five minutes later when my mother stormed in.
"You are just like your father!" She roared.
I bit my tongue, as I doubted my snipe at who my father really was would have gone down well.
"Philandering around, impregnating whores." She continued. "Putting them up in nice houses, and worst of all, not even getting them to drink their moon tea!"
She stopped for a moment, "She did this." She whispered. "That bitch did this on purpose!" She hissed.
"Mother –" I tried but she glared at me.
"It makes sense, Joffrey. What better way to gain a hold over the King than to bear your child? She was a whore Joffrey, how could she forget to take moon tea?"
"She didn't forget," I started, standing up for Alis, "She chose not to."
Cersei stared at me as if I were a fool. "You try to see the best in people. But sometimes this blinds you to the obvious. I forget sometimes how young you are, you're so mature for your age I forget you are still a child. She wants something, Joffrey, you may have already given it to her, or she may come knocking again." She said this softly, before her voice hardened again, "You were stupid. You may be the King but I am still your mother, and I swear on the Seven -" She sighed. "You almost broke your alliance with the North over that woman."
"I thought that what you wanted."
It happened before I even registered the movement. My cheek stung. Badly. I couldn't believe it – she had never hit me before.
I saw the conflict in her eyes as I looked up, hand on my cheek. But it quickly disappeared as her resolve, and her eyes, hardened.
"I will not let you become your father, Joffrey. I wouldn't subject any woman to that."
With that she turned and walked away.
I had decided to retreat to the monotony of paperwork to take my mind off things. Considering the price of parchment, it was surprising how much stuff was written down in Westeros, and how many people the Royal Household and the various Small Council offices hired to write stuff down. The sheer size of the bureaucracy made sense, but it was only something I realised when I arrived in this world.
For the first time in a long time, I thought myself as not-Joffrey. I had become so integrated in this world that I had almost forgotten of my previous life and the people I had left behind. I wondered what had happened back on Earth after I had supposedly died. How many cared? How many even remembered me after however long it had been? Did time pass differently on Earth than it did in Westeros? So many questions…
My deep thoughts did not last too long however, as there was a knock on the door.
"Your Grace, Steward Tyrion is here." Ser Boros announced.
I nodded and my uncle entered.
"Your Grace." He bowed.
"How many times have I told you, you don't need to be so formal in private, uncle?"
"I shall continue to ignore you."
I sighed, knowing a lost cause when I saw one.
"What can I do for you?"
"I have just received a raven from Dorne. They've said that is too late to warn the travelling procession and that they will continue to King's Landing as planned."
"Have they even reached the Stormlands yet?" I enquired, I seriously doubted that this was anything other than an attempt to be awkward.
"We are not exactly sure where they are, but they're certainly at least a moon away."
I nodded. "Very well. I won't be travelling to Dorne then. But my plans regarding how to bring Dorne closer to the fold are the same."
"You are yet to share those."
I briefly explained the situation with The Mountain and Armory Lorch.
My uncle considered my plan for a moment, before saying, "It would certainly go a long way to warming relations, though to fully bring them back would require more. The wounds are still sore."
"Do you have any ideas?"
"A marriage. It worked for the Targaryens."
Well, I saw that coming. Regardless, it was a good plan, and I told him so. "I shall bring it up at the next Small Council meeting and see if anyone else has ideas as well."
"Very well." He said and headed towards the door.
"Oh, and Joffrey." He spoke as he reached the door.
"Yes, uncle?" I asked, looking up from the papers I had resumed reading.
"Good job with that whore." He chuckled as he left the room.
"Oh, fuck off." I cursed, though the door had already shut.
I had been mulling the idea over for a few days before I sought out Myrcella. While I personally believed it would be a good option to marry her to someone from House Martell, whether it be to Prince Trystane, or another (though I confess I didn't know enough about the Martell's to say whether there was another suitable match in the same age-range), I was not prepared to marry her off without her consent.
I arrived at the door of her chambers, Ser Jaime was guarding her door, and after he announced my arrival, I entered her apartment.
"Joffrey?" She asked questioningly, "what are you doing here?"
"Am I not allowed to visit my sister without some motive?" I replied, a teasing tone to my voice.
She gave me a look that I knew she had gotten from our mother. "When was the last time you visited my chambers, or spent any meaningful amount of time with me, apart from the trip a few days ago?"
I felt a pang of guilt. As much as I tried to spend time with my siblings, it had become increasingly difficult to find the time since my coronation.
"I'm sorry." I said simply.
"I know it's hard. Just don't pretend otherwise."
I nodded. "Anyway –"
"Oh, so you did have a motive!" She teased. I stuck my tongue out in a very undignified fashion.
I continued, "Have you put any thought into marriage?"
She looked at me, frightened. "Joff, I'm not yet ten!"
"I am not suggesting you get married right this instant. Certainly not for a few years yet, but the idea has been floated to arrange a marriage to someone from Dorne."
She worried her lip before replying, "It is my duty."
I sighed internally. As much as I hated it, in this world, she was right.
"You would meet your potential husband before anything is agreed, and I would make sure they were around your age.
She smiled. "You've always looked after me."
I hugged her and kissed her head. "I always will, Myrcella, I always will."
It was two days later at the Small Council meeting when I raised the idea.
"Steward Lannister has suggested, and I can certainly see the merits, that one of my siblings be married to a member of House Martell. I would like to hear your views."
After a few moments of consideration, it was Varys who spoke up first. "It worked for the Targaryens, your Grace." Tyrion and I shared an amused glance. "But I doubt that they would be willing to accept it; their hatred for ancestry runs deep."
I nodded. "Which is why I have another carrot to offer, which I will explain in a few moments. For now, assume they will accept the offer."
Stannis spoke next, "As much as I don't particularly like offering them a boon after they've effectively ignored both the reign of your father and you, it would help to have them not on the verge of rebellion."
"They are certainly the most troublesome of the Seven Kingdoms at the moment." My Master of Whispers said. "The Tyrells have been cowed for now, and the Vale are in no position to act on their Lady Paramount's displeasure."
"Let us not legitimise her claim to the Vale." I said firmly, and Varys bowed his head in acknowledgement.
"Forgive me, Your Grace." Lord Tarly began. "I know I have not been in King's Landing for long, but your siblings are rather… different to you." He paused, clearly trying to think of a way to express his thoughts without disrespecting the Royal Family. "They are… timid. Perhaps easily swayed."
"They have been coddled by their mother." Tyrion said simply, not holding the same reservations as the rest of the Small Council. "His Grace had these meetings and other commitments to escape her overbearing, from what I understand, the Prince and Princess did not.
"That may very well be true, but I do not believe either of them would be swayed against their family." Pycelle said.
"Myrcella definitely wouldn't." Stannis said. "Tommen, I am less sure about."
"My brother is not a pushover, uncle."
"I am not saying he is, but he is susceptible to being influenced."
I did not respond; he was probably right. As much as Tommen wasn't a scared, meek thing, as he would have been if the real Joffrey had had his way, he was still malleable. Myrcella was much more headstrong. It was just their personalities, I supposed.
"I am not suggesting we rush into anything. At most, we would set up a betrothal, any marriage would not happen for a few years yet."
The lords of the Small Council nodded. "I think then, Your Grace, we are in agreement with you and Steward Tyrion – a marriage with House Martell would be a good idea." The Grand Maester said.
"Very well." I said before continuing, "I admit that my knowledge of the Martell family tree is not the strongest, so who would potential matches be?"
"I assume Your Grace would like your siblings to marry into the main line, that of Prince Doran rather than Prince Oberyn?" Lord Wylde asked.
"Prince Doran has three children. His eldest, and the Heir Apparent, is Princess Arianne." Said Pycelle. I nodded, knowing that Dorne's attitude to women was much more progressive than the rest of the Seven Kingdoms.
"The second born is Prince Quentyn, and the third born is Prince Trystane. None are married, Your Grace."
"How old are they?" I asked. There was no way I was going to marry off my siblings to someone twice their age.
"I am not sure of their precise ages, Your Grace, but Princess Arianne around her twentieth year, Prince Quentyn is a few years younger than his sister, while Prince Trystane is around his tenth year."
"If anyone is married then, it shall be my sister. I will not arrange for Tommen to marry someone more than twice his age."
Tyrion smiled at that. "Very well, Your Grace."
Changing the topic of conversation, I asked Stannis, "How fairs your finding of a suitable Master of Coin from the Iron Islands, uncle?"
"I have examined the political situation of the Iron Islands somewhat, Your Grace, and have come up with a few options, however, I would not say the options are perfectly reliable, as I haven't been able to analyse things in-depth."
"That is understandable, my Lord Hand, it has yet to be a week, after all."
Stannis nodded. "From what I can gather, Your Grace, the most supportive of House Harlaw, are Lord Baelor Blacktyde and Lord Meldred Merlyn."
"This is excellent work, uncle." Stannis smiled his thin smile before I turned to Varys. "Lord Varys, see if your little birds can gather some information on the way each house leans on the Iron Islands."
"Of course, Your Grace."
"Grand Maester, have you found anyone from the Vale?"
"I'm afraid not, Your Grace. I sent a number of ravens with general missives, to see if anyone would respond but it seems no one is willing to anger Lady Arryn."
"I would have thought that the knowledge that the late Lord Arryn's supposed heir is not his would convince them to rebel." Ser Barristan said.
"It is possible that she has managed to convince the lords that His Grace was lying, or mistaken. Or at least place enough doubt that they're willing to stick by her for now." Lord Wylde replied.
"It is plausible." I said. "Very well, we cannot allow Lady Arryn to hold the Vale hostage. Not only will it weaken my authority, it is an affront to the late Jon Arryn that this lie be continued. I shall write a letter to each of the great houses of the Vale, in hopes that their support can be rallied against Lady Arryn."
"The Lady Arryn is reputed to be quite paranoid, Your Grace, any move against her will surely be met with her wrath." Varys said.
"Indeed, but if we can turn the knights of the Vale against her, she shall have no support to turn to." I replied.
"I shall write the letters after court today and send them via messenger to ensure they are not intercepted." I said before concluding. "I think that is everything, court begins in fifteen minutes. You are dismissed."
Fifteen minutes later, and court had begun. It followed the normal procedure, of settling disputes and whatnot, until a man who the Royal Steward named Tarmer stepped forward. He was ageing, his salt and pepper hair belying his true age, but he looked relatively strong still. He carried with him a sheathed sword, which looked to be good quality, but his clothes, while made from fine material from what I could see, were well-worn.
"Sire," he began, "I plead with you to reinstate me as a knight. It is the only way I know to make money, it is all I have."
"While I sympathise with your position, I cannot assess all knighthood cases, especially not in the time I have available with court. If you speak with the Lord Hand, he will talk with you about the process and how you can go about re-obtaining your honour."
"Ser Barristan!" The man called out, seemingly spotting the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard for the first time. "Please Ser, I fought with you against the Golden Company! The War of the Ninepenny Kings! Ser, please, do not allow me to fall to ruin; without a knighthood I am nobody, no one will hire me."
"Your Grace?" Ser Barristan asked. I nodded and gave a wave of my hand. If Ser Barristan recognised the man, then at least I would know he was not wasting my time.
The knight of the Kingsguard descended the steps to the man below and studied him.
"Aye, I knew a Tarmer, but it has been many years." He paused for a few moments, considering the man before him before he asked, "At the Hills of Norves, how many nights did we wait before we descended to attack the fort?"
"Six, Ser." The main stated, with little delay.
"What was the order given by Lord Ormund once we reached the Eastern pass?"
"To await the signal from the fleet." He responded again.
Ser Barristan turned towards me. "Your Grace, this man fought at the War of the Ninepenny Kings, but I cannot be fully sure he is who he claims to be."
"Why were you given your knighthood, Tarmer?" I asked.
"I distinguished myself, Your Grace, in the final battle. I fought alongside Ser Barristan as we attacked the Golden Company, I fought on, despite serious injury."
I had an idea. "Show this injury." I ordered.
"Your Grace, there ar-" he began before Ser Barristan cut him off. "Obey your King." He growled, and the man hastened to undo his doublet and underclothes, revealing a large scar along his chest. It was a crude scar, clearly treated by someone with little medical skills, but he survived so I suppose he couldn't complain too much.
"Grand Maester, do this look like a scar from a swordsman?"
The old man hobbled over and peered at the scar for a few moments. "I would say so, Your Grace."
"And would you say the scar is around forty years old?"
"Well, it is hard to say, Your Grace, but it certainly isn't fresh. It's healed a fair amount and is faded, so I would say it's an old scar for certain."
"Thank you, Grand Maester."
I waved at Tarmer to redress. "Ser Barristan, this Tarmer, did you know him well?"
"More than most I fought with in that war, Your Grace."
"Could you vouch for his bravery, his honour?"
"I could, Your Grace."
I nodded; my mind made up. I looked over to the Royal Steward and he seemed to grasp my meaning, as he quickly departed and returned, carrying my sheathed sword in his hands.
The relief on his face was palpable as he fell to one knee. I stood, wincing only slightly, and unsheathed my sword.
I hadn't actually thought of the new vows a knight would have to swear, so I took a moment, realising that what I used here would likely become the new standard.
"Where are you from, Tarmer?" I asked.
"I was raised near Broad Arch, Your Grace."
"Tarmer of Broad Arch, are you ready and able to swear upon the gods, be they old, new, drowned or forged from flame?" I asked.
"Yes, Your Grace."
I tapped his left shoulder.
"Do you swear upon those very gods to protect the innocent?"
"Yes, Your Grace."
I tapped his right shoulder.
"Do you swear to serve with bravery, honour, and dignity."
"Yes, Your Grace."
My sword touched his left shoulder.
"Do you swear to defend those who cannot defend themselves?"
"Yes, Your Grace."
Then his right again.
"And do you swear to follow the commands of your King above all others."
"I do, Your Grace."
And his left.
"Then I, in the light of the gods, old, new, drowned and forged in flame, Joffrey of the House Baratheon, the First of my name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, do name you Ser Tarmer of Broad Arch," I tapped his right shoulder again, "Knight of the Realm." And finally tapped his left.
"Arise, Ser Tarmer."
"Thank you, Your Grace."
I nodded. It felt good to carry out my first knighthood ritual, and I thought the new oaths covered all bases.
Having given my sword back to the Royal Steward, I moved on to the final order of business.
"Well, this has been an eventful session of court, but it is time to deal with one final issue."
The slight murmurs that had started after the knighthood ceremony silenced immediately.
"As is plainly evident, my leg is irreparably damaged. This, obviously, reduces my ability to fight in battle. It is for this reason that I have decided that I should not hold the title of Defender of the Realm."
The murmuring began again, and I held up my hand to silence the crowd.
"I understand that this is quite a serious decision, and it is not one I have taken lightly, but I truly believe that the Defender of the Realm should be able to lead their men into battle, and if I cannot do that, then someone else should carry the title on my behalf."
It was hard to decipher the court's opinion, it seemed that some agreed and some didn't, as with all things.
"With that being said, Lord Tarly, approach."
He stepped down from behind the Iron Throne and stood at the bottom of the steps.
"Lord Tarly, it is common knowledge that you are one of the best strategic minds currently living in Westeros. You were the only person to defeat my father during his rebellion, despite Lord Tyrell's claims to being the mind behind the victory." The court laughed at Mace's expense. "Despite fighting for the Targaryens you have proved loyal to the Crown. While my uncle managed to sway much of the Reach with his promises of gold and other riches, you sided with your King and were crucial to the defeat of the pretender, and have provided me with excellent counsel since being named my Master of Laws."
I was laying it on a bit thick but to be honest, I think the man needed to hear it, much of his thunder had been stolen by Mace Tyrell.
"Lord Tarly, kneel." He did so, and I took my sword back.
"Lord Tarly, finding myself incapable of carrying out my duties as Protector of the Realm, I, Joffrey of the House Baratheon, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms do name you, Lord Randyll Tarly, Protector of the Realm. Arise, Lord Randyll Tarly, Lord of Hornhill, Lord Paramount of the Mander, Warden of the South and Protector of the Realm."