In the name of the Warrior I charge you to be brave…
For as long as he lived, Jaime would never forget the look on Brienne's face. "Arise, Ser Brienne of Tarth, a knight of the Seven Kingdoms." The firelight paled in comparison, the way her smile glowed. He was a Lannister, brother of the world's most beautiful woman, and nothing he had ever seen in gold or riches or family could compare to the brilliant beauty that was Ser Brienne's face.
'For as long as he lived…' That may not be much longer.
Nothing could compare to her ferocity as a warrior, for she had been a warrior long before she was a knight. And when Jaime felt the army of the dead thrash him into that wall, he heard her bellow like a bear at his side as the same was done to her and he knew that at least if he died that night, he would die at the side of the bravest knight – the bravest warrior – he had ever known.
He did not die that night. He should have died that night.
As he rode now on his horse, putting greater and greater distance between himself and Winterfell, between himself and those quiet broken sobs that were so different from that ferocious bellow, he shut his eyes to his own tears.
Be brave, he thought, though whether to himself or to the lady he had left behind, he could not say.
In the name of the Father I charge you to be just…
His brother was the most just and most noble man he knew, though it certainly had nothing to do with their father. No. No credit could go there. What a life Jaime had led. Brienne the Beauty… the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Tyrion the Imp… the most extraordinary man.
Then the weight of his little brother was on him in an embrace. Jaime wrapped his arms around the smaller body and the greater man. He wanted to tell Tyrion everything. He needed to explain why he was doing what he was doing. But there was no time for that. Not with the things that were pouring out of Tyrion's heart.
"You were all I had."
No. Jaime would not take away what little time they had to fill it with his own excuses. He would let Tyrion say his peace and keep his own. If he did not tell Brienne, he could not tell Tyrion. That would not be just, he thought as his little brother slipped from his golden fingers.
In the name of the Mother I charge you to defend the young and innocent…
There it was. The reason for all this. To the true reason. Not Cersei. But the child.
When he had heard that Cersei might win… might be victorious against the Dragon Queen… he had known that he could not abandon the child to the fate of Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen. If his sister won, and she raised the child, the babe would never see adulthood. He knew that now. No matter how much Cersei loved her children… a child born in King's Landing would die in King's Landing. For all he knew, they would all die in King's Landing.
He remembered Brienne's hands on his face. "Stay." His head buckled with the memory, even as he charted his way through the city, trying to find another way into the Red Keep. She was an innocent, his mind seemed to echo back at him.
Euron Greyjoy rose up from the waters of the bay, proclaiming the child as his own, gutting Jaime twice with a blade. Jaime gasped for air, his sides splitting with pain as he left the fallen Greyjoy behind. Greyjoy as father, eh? Jaime grit his teeth. He had been right to come. To try and save it at all costs.
The child is an innocent, thought, driving himself forward. He wanted to believe that Brienne would have understood.
In the name of the Maid I charge you to protect all women...
Ah. And here he failed.
Jaime felt the blood from his wounds filling his lungs, even as he stared up at the blocked tunnel, the Red Keep rumbling above them, Cersei weeping at his side, crying how she did not want to die. She did not want the baby to die. Jaime closed his eyes, teetering on the spot. He had failed. He had not saved the baby. He could have stayed in Winterfell, but he had not done that either. Some drive, reawakened in the frozen nights of heated love with Brienne had made him want to be better… to do better…
In the name of the Maid of Tarth, he had abandoned everything in a futile attempt to protect… and he had failed.
Almost without thought, he tried to calm Cersei. He held her. Was there for her. As the ceiling began to fall around them, his mind traveled beyond itself, to the woman who had been his last kiss, his last… everything. She would live without ever knowing that he had strived to fulfill one final oath when he had shattered so many before.
"You are a good man," her voice reverberated over the thundering boulders.
He braced himself for the impact. If he could not die in the arms of the woman he loved, he would at least die as the man she had believed him to be. With that, Jaime Lannister pulled his sister beneath him and braced his body against the avalanche of stones that once upheld so many of his sins.