Though today they were holding a tourney in honor of Joff's thirteenth name day, Cersei was attending a meeting of the Small Council.
She wore a sea-green gown with trimmed Myrish lace today, and her jeweled tiara as well, to make her look every bit a queen.
The Council was already gathered for her as she waited, as she seated herself, the Spider, Littlefinger, and Grand Maester Pycelle who had been on Robert's Council, and Ser Robert Brax, Ser Alyn Marbrand and Lord Janos Slynt who she had named herself to the Council.
Ser Robert was the second son of Lord Andros, a tall and slender man, handsome with brown hair, a long face and blue eyes.
Ser Alyn was another younger son, the second son of Lord Damon Marbrand, and the younger brother of Ser Addam Marbrand. She had known little of Ser Alyn, save that Jaime trusted his brother. Cersei knew that he wanted her hand in marriage too, but he was not like to get it.
With Lord Janos, it had not been her wish to name him to the Small Council, but she had been forced to. He was a stout, bald and frog-faced man that Cersei cared little for.
"What news is there of the war?" Cersei asked to begin the war, to Lord Varys.
"Your grace… Your uncle, Ser Tygett, continues to hold Starpike in Joffrey's name, while Lord Renly's men continue their siege. Lord Stannis has yet to stir from Dragonstone still, and Prince Rhaegar's son has not made any moves since he was crowned." Lord Varys told them.
"And my father?" She asked. Lord Tywin had been who she had named to serve as Joffrey's Hand, as her Hand, so he would surely be returning soon.
"It is said that Lord Tywin has made it all the way to Harrenhal.," the spider said.
Good, Cersei thought, then father would be closer to King's Landing, and they were in need of a victory. "What else is there?" Cersei asked, hoping for more good news.
"Lord Hayford was taken by an illness only two days past," Varys announced to them. "Perhaps we ought to send condolences to his widow."
"To be sure," Cersei said, remembering that Hayford was not too far north of them. The man had been kind to her when he was at court, and she knew it would be expected of her.
"Your grace, there was a letter from the Eyrie. Your daughter, Princess Marla…" Grand Maester Pycelle said, pulling out a letter from the pockets in his robe. His hand shook feebly as he did, and Cersei took it quickly, a sense of fear in her chest. If anything had happened to her, Cersei vowed she would not rest until the Eyrie had been pulled down from it's mountain fastness.
She read over the letter thrice in disbelief. Cersei felt quite angry when she finally looked up and saw each of the counselors looking at her. The Arryn wench must have been the greatest fool to ever live, she decided. Arryn's widow was a half-mad cow, whose sense leaked from her just as her milk did.
Cersei mourned for Marla, wondering what her daughter had done to deserve such a fate. The Arryn boy was handsome, but Marla was even younger than Myrcella was when she wed, just one and ten years old.
"She is too young…" Cersei said at last to break the silence. If Lysa had been willing to marry Marla to her son, then perhaps she would remain true to the crown, but Cersei could not be certain.
For a moment she wondered if this were just a jape, a folly by either Pycelle or Lady Lysa, but somehow she felt certain the tidings were true.
"What happened?" Ser Alyn asked.
"Lysa… She… She wed Marla to her son, without so much as asking my leave or telling me before," she said, her fury building inside of her.
Varys, Littlefinger and Pycelle all seemed to have knowing looks on their faces, since they already knew what had happened, while the rest all seemed to have looks of relief, which enraged her further.
Before she could say much more, she heard the door open to the Council chamber, and a tall man stepped through.
"Uncle?" She asked, confused. It was father that I had named to be Joff's Hand, not you.
"Your grace," he greeted her.
"What are you doing here?" She didn't want to believe that their father hadn't come. They needed him and his host in King's Landing if they were to have any hope of holding it.
"I have a letter from your father… Perhaps you would like to read it," he said, and moved to place the letter on the table in front of them.
It was Varys who took the letter from the center and began to study it, fingering at the golden wax seal a little to see if the letter had truly come from her father. She didn't need to study it though to know that it was took the letter from him before the eunuch could say anything. She broke the wax seal and unrolled the letter to read it herself.
When she looked up, she saw Kevan had taken a seat in the Hand's Chair, and she felt her fury building inside of her. "Is this some sort of trick uncle? Father bids that I accept you to be the Hand of the King until he is able to join us?"
"Then it would seem we should welcome our new Hand," Ser Alyn said. "It cannot be said that you are not needed now, in these dire times."
"Uncle, you would be better suited on the field of battle," Cersei suggested. She couldn't believe that her father would have sent him to serve as Hand, rather than to serve himself. He had served the Mad King as Hand for almost twenty years, but when his own grandson was king, he wouldn't come.
"Perhaps I would Cersei, though you need me here," he told her. "With so many foes, your father wanted me here, to serve as Hand in his stead."
"He cannot do that. Not without my son's consent, he cannot," she said.
"Your father is with his strength at Harrenhal if you wish to take it up with him. My lords, perhaps you should allow me a private word with her," Kevan said.
All of them departed silently, save for Littlefinger. "Shall I inform the steward that to prepare chambers in Maegor's for you?" He asked.
Her uncle shook his head. "I spoke with him myself already. I mean to take up residence in the Tower of the Hand," he said.
After that, the rest of the Council left, leaving Cersei alone with her uncle.
"What madness led father to send you instead?" Lord Tywin's name was known and feared in Westeros. If he was in King's Landing, none would dare challenge them. "I am Joff's regent. I commanded him to come, and instead he sends me you."
"And he send me," Kevan said. "Tywin needed to remain with his army at Harrenhal."
"Why?" Cersei asked, wondering what madness would have led her father to think they needed to hold Harrenhal. A monstrous and cursed castle it was said, far from King's Landing.
"If Tywin abandons Harrenhal and retreats here, this city is all we have. The Young Wolf and his bastard brother will be free to march their strength on the capital, and even perhaps join with the Vale. And it seemed to me the city was starving badly enough even without another twenty thousand mouths to feed," he explained.
Damn him then, Cersei thought to herself. As though taking one of her daughter's hadn't been enough, the Young Wolf had chosen to crown one of Prince's Rhaegar's sons as King. Renly had crowned himself too, and she doubted Stannis would lag behind much longer.
"How many swords did you bring with you?" Cersei asked. She had ordered an army and her father, yet she was stuck with this instead. She hoped her uncle had at the very least brought some swords with him to join their strength. She had ordered Slynt to triple the size of the City Watch, but if it were Renly or Stannis coming with all their strength, they would need more than that.
"Only a few hundred men from your father's host, since he needs all the men he can get there. But two thousand if you are willing to pay the price," Kevan said.
"Price?" Cersei said, confused. What sort of price would I need to pay for my father's men?
"I stopped at Maidenpool on my visit south. Lord William Mooton might have taken his men against Tywin if it weren't for our agreement. You have broken your son's betrothal to the Stark girl, have you not?"
"Yes," Cersei answered. She started to realize the price that would need to be paid.
"Good… Lady Jorelle will do us more good than Lady Sansa ever could. Once she and Joffrey wed, we will have at least one more house behind us," he told her.
"When will they wed?" She asked. She didn't wish to lose another one of her children, so soon after learning what had happened to Marla, but she knew Joff would need a queen, and allies to win his throne.
Her uncle gave a small shrug. "Lord William will want the wedding to be soon no doubt. He is here in the city, with his daughter, and the girl and your son are both old enough. I can make arrangements for the ceremony to occur within the fortnight."
Cersei wanted to tell him no, but she didn't think there was much choice.
"What else does he want?" For a man ambitious enough to demand his daughter be queen, he surely would want other things too.
"I am sure we can make room for Lord William on the Council too. He will be the King's good-father after all," he said.
Cersei had hoped to have more control of Joffrey's Small Council, but she supposed it was nothing too much. "Fine," she finally allowed.
"Lord Hayford is dead as well," Kevan said to her. "Of a bad belly only a few days past."
"I had heard," she responded. "What of it?"
"He had only one daughter, Lady Emersande, a babe and the last of her line. She'll be coming to the city soon enough, after her father has been lain to rest."
"And?" Cersei asked impatiently. She didn't want to waste time now.
"Your youngest boy, Loren… He's a babe too, yes?" Kevan asked.
"He's three," she corrected, deciding that she would rather be with her son now than here. "Why?"
"Joffrey will be King, and Tommen shall one day rule the Rock. While Hayford pales to them, you would do well to wed your son to her as well, so that he can claim her lands and rule through her one day. I'm sure her mother will not oppose a match to a Prince of the throne either," he explained.
Cersei thought about the notion for a moment. Hayford was not a great house, but it was still good seat for her son to one day rule. It was much too early for Loren to be marrying, but it would be better to do it now before someone else took the lands for themselves.
Eventually she nodded. "Thank you, Ser," she said.
"Tell me of your council Cersei… I saw three men there who were not there when Robert ruled. What madness led you to grant Slynt Harrenhal and a seat on the Small Council?" Kevan asked her.
"I had no choice," she told him. "Lord Eddard was plotting against me, and I had to have Slynt."
"So you gave him Harrenhal?" He asked, a little incredulous, before he shook his head. "I will deal with Slynt… But tell me who's work Lord Eddard was. Your son's?"
Cersei bit her tongue, remembering that day. "He was supposed to be pardoned, and allowed to return to Winterfell. After he'd confessed his treasons, Sansa was to be wed to Uncle Tygett's son, and after you and father had finished dealing with Stark's heir he would be named to the Small Council."
"To keep him and Myrcella in the city?" Kevan guessed. "A fair peace I suppose, and the Young Wolf might have agreed to it had your son not acted as such. Why didn't you stop him?"
"I tried to… But Slynt and Illyn Payne acted before I could do anything. The High Septon is outraged over it too, for profaning the place with his blood," Cersei told him. Everything about it infuriated her.
"What of Stark's kin and household do you still have?" He asked.
"We still hold his mother and sisters. There's a few other members of his household too," she answered.
He nodded. "We might be able to put them to use then."
"Would Stark trade Jaime for his sisters and mother?" Jaime was worth a hundred of them she knew, but she knew that The Young Wolf and his dragon king weren't like to see it that way.
"One of his brothers was here too if I recall, in addition to Lord Eddard… What became of the boy?"
Cersei bit her tongue. "Lord Eddard sent him away with Lord Bryce Caron not long before Robert died. The boy had been squiring for him, and when Lord Bryce decided to return home, he went as well."
"Getting your brother back would've been easier if we still had them… A pity I suppose," he said.
"And my daughters?" She asked. Myrcella and Marla were in the clutches of their foes still, regardless of whether or not they were wed.
"That remains to be seen. It would seem that Myrcella named her son for the boy's grandfather, no doubt knowing that it would please her husband. I shall do what little I can for them." His eyes seemed to dart a glance towards her stomach, and Cersei placed her hand there protectively. "You are with child again?"
She nodded, knowing she couldn't deny it. The swell of her belly could be seen even when she was dressed now. This one had been growing faster than her others had, and she wondered if it was because it was Robert's.
His reaction seemed more indifferent than anything. "Tell me of my son, Lancel."
He killed a king for me, and I took him to bed, she thought to herself, but she knew better than to tell her uncle that. "Lancel is well," Cersei said instead. "He is a knight now too."
The knighthood had been the price she had paid for Robert's death, and Cersei had been glad to pay it if it meant her children were safe.
Her uncle gave a bit of a smile, as though he were proud of Lancel. Cersei decided that she would rather not risk Lancel running to his father, telling of how he had fucked her, so she would need to deal with him soon enough.
"I should go see him myself now, pray excuse me," her uncle said, and he began to get up. "We shall speak again soon."
He strode out of the Council Chamber, leaving Cersei alone. She decided to take her leave as well. All her children were outside of the Red Keep she knew, save for Loren, with the Tourney being held in honor of Joff's nameday.
When she walked outside, she still saw that Ser Mandon was standing guard, and he followed as Cersei began to walk away. The outer yard was mostly empty still, though Cersei could see men were beginning to enter the keep, bringing things in, and many were busy moving things into the Tower of the Hand she saw.
If her uncle was moving into the Tower, she knew that meant her father wouldn't be returning for some time. It was times like this that she rued how the gods in their ignorance had made her a woman.
I will prove them all wrong, she promised herself. If her father would ignore her summons, she would have to play his part for him.
It was Ser Alyn who she came upon first, encountering him as she began to walk down the Serpentine Steps. He was a handsome man, with copper red hair, slender and tall too. "Your grace," he called out to her.
"Ser," she said, offering her arm for him to take so that they could walk together. "Come with me."
She turned to Ser Mandon, and dismissed him, before they started down the Serpentine Steps together.
"Will Slynt be going to Harrenhal then?" He asked after some time of them walking together.
Cersei considered the question carefully. She had half a mind to order Slynt away, if only so she didn't have to see him anymore. Giving him Harrenhal and a Seat on the Council was a mistake, and the sooner she was rid of him the better.
"Perhaps," she answered. "But if I do, who would serve as Lord Commander of the City Watch?"
"I could, your grace," he offered.
He was a good sword she knew, and she could keep him more loyal than she had Slynt. Cersei decided he would be suitable for the position at least. The gold cloak would go well with his copper hair at least.
"I shall speak to the Council on it Ser. Joff needs loyal men about him, and I know you will remain true to him," she said. Being Lord Commander of the City Watch was not all that he lusted for though.
They started to cross the dry moat into Maegor's Holdfast, and walked the rest of the way to her bedchamber in silence.
Now that Robert was dead, Joff was in the largest of the royal apartments, while Cersei had moved into Myrcella's old chambers, and she took him into them, closing the door behind him. She bid Ser Alyn sit on the bed, and after the door was locked, she did the same.
"I do not trust my uncle," she confessed to him when it finally was. "Or the other Councilors for that matter. But I want to know that I can trust you at least."
He nodded, and seemed a little eager too. "I hope to prove most loyal then," he told her, beginning to fumble at the laces of her dress.
She didn't move to stop him as he did, and instead she helped in getting out of her clothes. When she was finally naked, she began to help him remove his clothes, and got into bed with him.
Her belly was bigger than she would have liked, but he didn't seem to mind as he moved her to lay flat on her back, and crawled on top of her. Cersei almost felt herself gasp when his manhood entered her, and he began to thrust himself in her.
Cersei wrapped her legs around his hips, helping him push deeper into her, while he felt one of his hands go to her breast. It was tender and sore, but the tingling that she felt from her breast pleased her.
Before long she felt his seed spill inside of her cunt. Lancel had always made sure to spill his seed on her belly, even though she never told him to, but it didn't matter since she was already with child.
He seemed out of breath when he rolled off of her, and laid beside her on the bed. "What is it you want Ser?" She asked him after a time, knowing the answer that he was going to say.
"You," he answered.
Well… That's that…