holy Mother...it's been a while eh?


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Chapter 3: Capsized

...we were two ships in the night, hell-bent on trying to survive...

For three days she never left her apartments, confining herself to her chair by her veranda and watching the lonely boats pass in the harbour and listening to the screech of the gulls outside. Maids came and went, leaving her be, thank the gods. Her horrid mother-in-law said a few pointy words but when Yvonne did not strike back with the same potent venom, the old crow gave up. Her tears still hadn't dried away in those three days, and the silk skirt of her gown was now ruined from the awful salty droplets, but the Barren Lady hardly cared. Her husband was gone to war, and her lover was gone too, it hardly mattered if one of her dresses was ruined.

She imagined Jaime most often, his gorgeous face, his annoying smirk, and barbed tongue. She thought of every kind thing he'd ever done for her, every time he'd made her laugh and smile and forget the sad parts of her life.

Stupid, she knew. The man threatened to kill her, he fucked his sister so many times she'd gotten pregnant three occasions...he didn't love her. Not how she loved him. It hurt to think she was nothing more to him than a warm bed to crawl into at night when the pinch of loneliness struck. This truth was heavier on her heart than anything else, even the abject horrors of the war to come across the land.

Jaime was the first man to ever really give her pleasure, the first to ever make her feel like a woman. Others had made her feel like a girl with their chaste kisses, and condescending smiles. The idea that there ever was passion in her marriage bed was laughable. But Jaime was different. So much so, that the other half of her argued that her adoration flowed deeper than the shallow reasons of a dreamy girl. But really, who knew? First loves often blind us to the flaws within.

Her heart sank and ached sharply in guilt. Her husband was off to the same war, yet she grieved more for her lover than her husband of nearly a decade. But Gared never loved her dearly anyway, and he'd refused to allow her to take in a child and he hadn't defended her against his awful mother in nearly two years. Yet she couldn't allow herself to linger on those ugly thoughts for long. Gared, for all his failures as a husband, was still a good man. He'd really tried at first when he married her; they tried to make the best of it. But there was no love between them, not the kind of love that husbands and wives have anyway. She blamed his predilection for the male sex. Maybe if he found her beautiful, he could have loved her.

True, she'd never truly cared about Gared in a way that made it particularly difficult to look him in the eye after her trysts with Jaime, but this was life and death. Her husband could die, and the idea troubled her less than the idea of Jaime succumbing.

Yvonne wondered if Cersei Lannister had wept when she heard of Jaime leaving. Somehow she thought not; the woman was so cold and arrogant she probably thought her twin would come back in mere weeks, some victory over his fat head of perfect hair and his armour all bloodied from the foes he'd cut down. Yvonne could laugh at the queen if her heart was not so heavy. All men were made the same—bone and flesh and blood—and so all men can die the same. Despite what all the Lannister's thought, they were mere mortals, just like everyone else.

She'd seen Jaime fight countless times since she'd lived in the Capitol, and almost every time, he'd won. But one slip, one delay a second too long, one mistake, all that he was would be snuffed out forever. Her elder brother had met such a fate many years ago, during the rebellion. Now her little brother, Mykel, was heir to their house. He was a good lad, kind and honest, and she missed him terribly some days. She was happy his lame arm would keep him home where it was safe.

As day broke over the fourth day, and just as the sun was starting rise over the sea, a maid came into the room, to find the Barren Lady still seated on her chair, still in the same dress she'd worn days before.

"Milady?" Yvonne made no noise, so timidly, the young girl continued. "M-milady Rosby has ordered a bath be drawn for you. Shall I tell her you're still not up to it?"

For a long moment, Yvonne was silent, staring out at the sea without much life in her eyes. Finally she said, "Draw the bath water, Jill." The maid did as she was bid.

As she undressed, the woman with yellow hair thought about what life would be like as an old widow without children nor grandchildren. Certainly it was not a glamorous life like that of the Old Lady Tyrell, with wealth and say at her wrinkled fingertips. Lonely most certainly; men don't really like old dusty women, but it couldn't be any worse than what she'd endured for the last decade.

If she was never able to remarry, Mykel would take her in; he loved her most out of all their siblings. She had that in common with Jaime—they both loved their little brothers with all their hearts. She wondered if Jaime knew that. She'd spoken of her little brother more than once. Had he at all listened?

Yvonne sat in the water until it grew cold and her fingers wrinkled.

"How could he do this," she murmured as she lifted her feet from the tub and rested them over the lip. The girl's fingers paused their gentle ministrations in her hair for just a second, and started again when her lady spoke again. "How could he? All we've done together? All the years between us? And he just— goes off suddenly, without so much as a goodbye—farewell!" Yvonne spewed, her anger finally coming out in the most reckless way. "Well if the bloody bastard ever comes back—ooh!—I'll have my claws in him!"

"Don't fret milady," the handmaiden ventured gently. "Your husband must be a fantastic warrior. He will come back to you." Said the maid as she poured water over her lady's newly washed hair.

Yvonne was quiet, wishing there was someone she trusted wholly in her employ to share this delicate dilemma she was in with. Alas, while Jill was a sweet girl, Yvonne knew she could never trust her fully with the knowledge she'd bedded the kingslayer. A few moments later, she replied with a quiet, "Yes he is quite the spear handler isn't he?" Hm, Jaime one kind of spear, her husband another. She smiled wryly at her silent joke.

Neither Jaime nor her husband was ever really hers, she knew. Well, she liked to think that for brief moments, she could call Jaime Lannister hers. There was a certain way her kissed her and touched her sometimes, during moments so private she hadn't shared them with anyone, not even with other ladies under the guise that those moments were with Gared.

Sometimes Jaime kissed her slow and tender and sweet. A few times, he'd held her body close while they made love, every part of them touching as they rocked together, mouths locked together, swollowig up each others moans and heavy breath. Sometimes he'd brush her hair away from her face, something so gentle she'd kissed him again to stop the sweet ache it ignited.

No one would take those tender times from her. She didn't even think Jaime knew he'd kissed her like that or had held her in the way a husband should. She held them close to her bosom, to remember when Jaime was not with her, or when he avoided her like she'd hurt him somehow. Yvonne knew he loved that whoring queen above all others. And yet he continued to invite her into his bed.

If he really loved his sister, why would he do that?

She liked to think it was because some part of him felt true affection for her, or perhaps it was because he was just as lonely as she. Either way, Yvonne knew something had grown between them in their time together, something built by two people who knew loneliness. She knew little about the future of their relationship—but what did it matter since he did not care enough about her to give her warning that he was leaving for war? He probably said farewell to that whoring bitch he loved so dearly, maybe he even fucked her. The image made her seethe.

How she longed to get the opportunity to tear that woman's hair out, to bruise and bloody her face until it was unrecognizable. It infuriated her that she would never have the chance.

"Get me my purple gown." She ordered tersely. Without a word, the maid obeyed.

The gown felt long and cumbersome as she paced her room. Her thoughts turned to her husband, and the totally reckless stupidity of his choice to go to war. Gared was not an athletic man; it had been years since he'd entered into a tourney. The last time he had, he had lost his father two thousand gold dragons betting on his own victory. Tournaments were not wars, though, and if Gared lost a battle, he would not thrust the Rosby house into debt, but, rather he'd leave his younger brother to lord their holdfast while she was sent home with nothing. Bastard, she thought. Men and their glory!

Jaime's death would not affect her position, she'd still be Lady Rosby if Jaime Lannister died; but it would maim her, make her worse off than she was before he'd ever took her. Did he know that at all? Is that why he'd left without a word to her? Did he know how deep her affections ran?

She wanted to go home, wanted her mother to weep to like a little girl, cursing the world at its unfairness.

The purple silk swished around her legs, and suddenly, she hated the silk, she hated the layers, she hated the corset. She hated it all, and began to yank and tear until she was only left in a half torn corset and a rumbled shift. The Barren Lady looked across the room and out to the balcony, watching the ocean shimmer in the afternoon sun. She breathed deep, trying to stop the oncoming sobs, but it was no good and finally her tears fell and long gasps came from her lips. When she looked down she saw what she'd done to her favourite gown and cried harder, gathering up the torn fabric in her trembling arms, to weep over on her chair again.

This had been the gown Mykel had given her, and the gown she'd worn when Jaime pulled her against him in a darkened corner of the Keep, and kissed her. He'd only kissed her—he hadn't pulled up her dress, hadn't felt at her breasts...he'd only tasted her lips.

It was now in unfixable shreds.

As she wept, she wondered if she'd ever see him again—her husband, or Jaime. She wished that she could change sexes and go after her lover, but the gods had made her a woman—a useless woman for being barren, as her mother-in-law said, but still a woman with a weak body and teats. So she'd have to wait and worry—the months would pass and the war would rage on, while she sat in the Keep, useless to help the cause in any real way.

When Lord Eddard Stark died, Yvonne wanted to knock that too small crown off that idiot boy king's head. She was not a very politically savvy woman, but she knew enough to know that the northerners would come for them now. Even if they could crush Robb Stark's army, then the kingdom would be divided and as the Lannister's would never allow the north to regain any semblance of power, a future war was imminent.

More sons would die, more women would be raped, more children left orphans and more destruction would destroy holdfasts and legacies which took generations to build. War had already taken her elder brother from her family, and she abhorred the idea that it would take her lifeline and her lover next.

Even though Jaime was one of the reasons there even was a war going on. His monstrous son took a man's head in front of his poor daughter. She hoped Jaime regretted squirting that little fool into Cersei. Hoped he hated himself for it.

Weeks later, as Yvonne dined with her handmaiden (she'd had no one else to talk to, so she treated the girl to dinner), news came from her malicious mother in law that Jaime Lannister's army had disbanded after he was captured by Robb Stark. The woman praised the gods up and down that Gared had been under Tywin Lannister's charge, unaware or uncaring at how pale and stricken her good-daughter had become.

When Yvonne could finally take no more of the old bat's praising, she rose and ran away from the room, not wanting to hear any more about this ugly war. Old Lady Rosby sneered at her retreating back. "She's always hated Gared, always wanted him dead. She can't stand to hear that he's safe. Beastly little snake."

She knew she was a fool to cry over the kingslayer, he deserved none of her tears. He didn't even care enough to say goodbye to her. He was a mean, sarcastic, arrogant, sister fucking fool and was half responsible for the malicious idiot sitting on the Iron Throne. But still, she missed him and stories of his captivity were never far from her ears. Sometimes she wondered if he ever thought of her.

Life at Court was a bloody fiasco for weeks. Joffrey liked to have poor Sansa Stark publically beaten, stripped and terrorized, rather than addressing matters pertaining to the kingdom. When he left her alone, he dealt out personal punishments to members of the Court for the stupidest of reasons. One of the fools had played too many foul notes on his flute, and so the king had all the fingers on his right hand cut off. Yvonne had felt so sorry for the poor sobbing man for losing his fingers and therefore his livelihood, that when he'd left the throne room for the maester's laboratory, she'd given him her ruby and diamond bracelet.

Yvonne had clung to her handmaiden's hand, trying not to cry out as Sansa Stark was beaten by a member of the King's Guard, his sword drawing long, bleeding streaks of red where he slapped her with it.

Jaime never would have stood for this. He'd told her once as they lay together in bed, sharing a cup of sweet Dornish wine, how he'd have to watch quietly as the Mad King humiliated his wife at Court, and listen as he raped her at night. King Robert, she admitted, had never been good to his wife before, but he'd never been cruel, at least not publically.

The queen had stopped attending these meetings after Joffrey had his new fool throw filth and rotted vegetables at the young Stark girl. What a foul mother, to never reign in her awful son.

The only one who ever tried to openly defend the poor girl, was Tyrion Lannister, the Imp. Ah, how droll, the monster the whole kingdom said he was, did not exist. There were monsters in the world, only their names were Joffrey and Cersei...and maybe Jaime.

Still, she thought of him nearly everyday, hoping he was alright, hoping he remained alive, even as a prisoner.

Short months later, Renly Baratheon was assassinated, and Stannis sailed for the Red Keep. The Battle of the Blackwater, as it was named later, had been the most terrifying night of her life. Woken by the tolling of bells, Yvonne, Jill and her wretched mother in law made their way through the Keep and to where safety was assured. Terror was written in the face of every lady, child and handmaiden they passed, fear of murder and rape hanging heavy as sludge in the air.

Shut up inside the Maiden's Vault with her horrid mother-in-law on one side of her, her handmaid Jill on the other, Yvonne watched on angrily as that awful bitch drunkenly terrorized Sansa Stark. Jill drowsed on her shoulder, and Yvonne wished she could sleep.

The queen was a loud drunk, uncouth and embarrassing as she talked of things a queen should never utter. She frightened the little children and depleted the older ladies' hope. Instead of graciously comforting the women who served her, Cersei the whore tortured the poor Stark girl with stories about what happens when a city is sacked. It almost seemed liked the woman wanted to see Sansa in such pain, as though she would let the keep be overtaken just to see Sansa suffer, to see her innocence and goodness snuffed out. Or at least she wanted to torture the girl with the idea. She was just like her son, only her wounds would last longer.

Once more, she wondered how Jaime could love such a woman.

For the most part, the women were kept ignorant, and when Lancel Lannister came with news, he and the queen spoke in hushed whispers. Yvonne, for her part, did not want to know what was happening. She was terrified and listening to every detail of the battle would only ignite her fear further. She did not even want to entertain the possibility that they would not live to see morning.

She'd seen the effect of siege only once, when she was a young girl still. It was just after Robert had been crowned, and her father had taken her, her mother and siblings to the Capitol to swear fealty. All through the streets, women cried and clutched to the torn shreds of their dresses. Countless bodies of men and women, boys and girls, lay along the streets. Those left alive had to clean the mess left behind by Tywin Lannister's men. She prayed to the gods that she, the other noble ladies and the young noble children saw the sun rise on peaceful streets come morning.

Perhaps on the third time Ser Lancel came back, nursing his wounded arm, he told the queen plainly that the battle was lost, not even attempting to whisper, stupid little twat he was. Most women were whispering among themselves but shushed as the scrawny Lannister knight relayed the grim truth to his elder cousin.

Jill held her hand, children clung to their mothers in the hopes that they could make the horror stop, and the drunken queen shoved her cousin when he refused to bring the child king back inside to hide behind his mother. Absently, Yvonne hoped Stannis put both their heads on the city gates to greet Lord Tywin when he marched on the city. But not Tommen. Prince Tommen was such a good, sweet boy. She didn't want him hurt.

When the queen and her youngest son stormed out of the chamber, the panic swelled in the room. Stannis and his soldiers were coming and no one was there to protect them. The queen had even lost hope and abandoned them.

As the fearful gaggle of the women grew, a small soft voice rose up, and all eyes turned to Sansa Stark. The girl spouted off some lies about how Joffrey was gallantly fighting on the front lines, and how the men had rallied behind their brave lion. Lies, pretty lies. But they calmed the women and children none the less.

Sansa Stark was a child, a hostage and daughter of a disgraced lord, and yet she was more of a queen than Cersei had ever been. That blonde fool should know that there was more to being queen than asserting power over people with none. More than torturing others just because you could.

Yvonne's voice rose up as she and the others sang the Mother's Hymn. She thought of her own mother as she sang.

When the Tyrells switched sides at the last possible moment and beat back Stannis' advances, Lady Margaery Tyrell was given to Joffrey as his bride, and poor Sansa Stark's maidenhead was released. Yvonne stood with the rest of the courtiers, watching as the pretty Tyrell girl charmed all of court and Joffrey too, with silky words of a love for him that had grown from afar.

The entire world loves a good love story, and so all of court chose to believe the girl loved the beast they all knew sat upon the throne. They all hoped maybe the love of a good woman would reign in the horror under the crown.

Of course Sansa remained at court, and some of the younger girls still believed the wolf maid loved the child king and was hurt to be set aside. How foolish the young could be, Yvonne thought as she watched Sansa and her gaggle of handmaids at court. The girls who still had the light of naivety about them, offered condolences to the Stark girl, and went on about how devastated the girl must be to be overthrown. While Sansa agreed compliantly with the women, she seemed brighter already, the weight lifted from her shoulders.

More time passed, and Margaery grew right at home at court, twining into the very foundation of the Red Keep like she'd always been there, like the vines of the roses she wore as her sigil. Even Yvonne, an admittedly minor lady, had the opportunity to speak with the Tyrell girl face to face.

It was at some garden luncheon the Tyrell family hosted for the ladies of the Keep, nearly three months after their arrival. Yvonne thought it dull, and settled on looking out at the open Narrow Sea, the ships sailing far off in the distance reminding her of her childhood. When she was younger, she'd been fostered for a while at the small castle Sharp Point. During her endless days of boredom, she'd watched the sea, counting the days until her father sailed back and collected her.

As she confined herself to her age old pastime, Lady Margaery approached, much to her shock, and began a casual conversation about the sea. Not wanting to offend the girl, Yvonne kept on the conversation, growing to like Margaery the more they spoke. The rose of Highgarden was a lovely girl, although she dressed so boldly that many other ladies at court would assume she'd be no maid when it came time to bed the king. Yvonne herself would have rathered the girl cover up a bit more.

Yvonne did not know the queen had so many handmaidens under her thumb, and so as one handmaid observed the Lady Margaery talk with the obscure lady, and many others, she made plans to inform the queen.

Margaery needed friends at court, she knew it. She couldn't be left alone against the queen regent—should things go awry, a friend or two speaking in her defence would be grand. She'd charmed the people of King's Landing, gaining their love, and love was a powerful thing. When the people you ruled loved you, your reign over them lasted longer. The Mad King had had no friends, and look where it got him. It was plain that Cersei Lannister had no friends.

A few short weeks later, Yvonne decided to visit the gardens once more and came across a peculiar sight: Lady Sansa Stark weeping. The girl sat on a stone bench, a handmaid behind her, rubbing soothing circles on her back that proved futile.

Yvonne looked about, hoping nothing had...happened to make the poor girl so inconsolable. She prayed Joffrey had left her alone, and that his mother had lost interest in her the moment her son set her aside. She knew she should go—it was not her business to ask why a higher ranking lady wept. It could put her in the queen's sights, and both Yvonne and Jaime had never wanted that. But Lady Rosby's heart pulled, and she could not stop the words coming forth.

"L-lady Stark?" she spoke. At once Sansa's head snapped up, eyes wide with fear, and she hurried to brush away the tears. The handmaid behind her glared at Yvonne like she had the right, and for a moment, the Barren Lady thought the girl would maim her and toss her body into the harbor. "I'm sorry, but, what's wrong? Shall I get someone for you?" she honestly hoped the girl didn't need anyone. She would not like playing messenger.

"Oh, n-no, Lady..." Sansa looked down at her lap, a delicate blush spreading over her face. Yvonne knew that the girl didn't know her name, but she didn't mind.

"Lady Yvonne Rosby." The older woman introduced herself. Sansa nodded, a short sniff sounding through the air. She hadn't met this lady before, but she'd seen her face a few times in the throne room. A beat of silence passed between them and Yvonne began to worry, wondering just what had her so upset. "Has someone hurt you, my lady?" was it the king? She asked silently.

"Oh, no, no." The Stark girl replied gently. She stood, and Yvonne was struck by how tall the child was. She couldn't have been more than four-and-ten, and she stood as tall as Yvonne herself. "No. I-it's silly."

"Silly doesn't make someone cry." Yvonne prodded gently.

"She doesn't want to talk!" the handmaid suddenly cried, her anger making her foreign accent clearer.

"Shae!" Sansa chided.

"It's alright, I understand." Yvonne replied. Truly, she would have liked to slap the girl, but she wasn't her handmaid and Sansa was already upset.

"No, I am sorry, Lady Rosby; Shae isn't from Westeros, and she doesn't understand our customs entirely." Sansa apologized hastily. Yvonne didn't think this excused the handmaid really—how could she have ever become a handmaid if she was so mouthy? Somehow, Yvonne concluded with an indifferent headshake.

"Apology accepted. Would you like me to leave, Lady Sansa, or stay?" she knew this might have been an awkward thing to say, to put the girl on the spot so suddenly, but if Sansa wanted her to go, Yvonne didn't want to waste anymore time. Sansa, she thought, has spent enough time saying things to keep others happy.

"I..." no one besides Shae had ever asked her this before. It was nice, to have the power to start or end an encounter. Everyone else at court came when they wanted, stayed however long they wanted and left when they wanted. But she didn't want to be rude to this lady only trying to help. Of course lady Rosby could report whatever she said to the queen, or worse, to Joffrey. But it had been a long time since someone had asked her if she was alright, if she needed help. Perhaps company would help her forget a little while and she wouldn't say anything to displease His Grace. She spoke calmly. "Stay, if it please you, Lady Rosby."

Her handmaiden flashed the Barren Lady a dark look. Yvonne commended the girl for her loyalty to her mistress.

Yvonne walked forward, her green dress brushing over the stones. Part of Sansa was put off by the yellow of her long braided hair; it reminded her of the queen. But Lady Rosby was younger, her hair wheat coloured rather than spun gold, eyes brown rather than green, with concern and kindness shining in them. Sansa wanted badly to believe the lady was being sincere.

Yvonne motioned to sit, and Sansa followed, Shae the handmaiden standing behind them quietly. "May I ask why you're crying?"

"Oh, I-I," Sansa began shakily. She wanted to tell the older woman it was not her concern, but couldn't. She couldn't say she was upset that she'd missed the opportunity to escape this hell with Petyr Baelish because she'd been looking forward to marrying Loras Tyrell—the only true knight she'd ever seen. All those plans had burned into ash when she found out she would marry Lord Tyrion Lannister, the debauched, dishonourable, ugly Imp, uncle to the monster who'd cut her father's head off. No, she couldn't say any of that. Not to anyone, not even Shae. "I am just very upset that his grace King Joffrey has set me aside. But I have tr-traitors blood, and I-I believe Lady Margaery will make him a finer queen than I."

Yvonne's brows furrowed. "Oh," you poor child, she thought. Twisted and hurt so much she parroted every word the queen and her council had thrust upon her out of fear. Every single word the wolf maid had just spoken was a lie, but Yvonne made no comment. She'd once been her. Once she'd given pretty lies for the sake of others, for the sake of propriety.

Eyeing the rose bushes, knowing that gardens could hide snakes, Yvonne spoke carefully. "I am sorry that...you feel the way you do." Suddenly, her mother appeared in her mind, her wise words flowing through her mouth. "But you will find that after every long void, there is a light. Small, but a light. And as you grow closer, it grows bigger." Sansa looked at the older woman incredulously. What was she talking about? Yvonne quickly retreated back, not wanting to offend the girl. "Anyway. Let us just be joyful that the proper queen takes the throne." She said, the meaning hidden in her words.

Sansa fiddled with the handkerchief in her lap. Yvonne knew she better leave, the poor girl was probably uncomfortable. She took her leave then, said a kind farewell and saw Sansa and her handmaid off towards the Red Keep.

A few short days later, Yvonne walked through the water gardens, looking down at the fish in the stone ponds, brushing her fingers over the lily pads.

This was the most beautiful place she'd ever seen, and it was her favorite place to visit. This place had become her sanctuary, the place where it felt calm. There was no dark memory here; no corner of this open garden of ponds and fountains was ugly to Yvonne. Other ladies thought it too ugly, too improper with the frogs swimming and hopping about, snails and other creepy things scurrying about. Yvonne overlooked all that, because this garden truly was beautiful.

In each of the seven different ponds there was a different type of fish swimming in its water. Each pond had a statue of one of the Seven figures of the gods at its center, but for the one that represented the Stranger. In that pond, only frogs swam in the murky water, and there was no statue. Trees enclosed the garden, and distantly, you could hear the ocean, and feel its warm gentle breeze.

She and Gared had often strolled through these ponds, when they were just married, before they stopped trying. It had been lovely.

Although she'd never visited this garden with Jaime, she once saw Jaime here. In his king's guard armor, he accompanied the Usurper King in from his hunt. She'd smiled when the king approached, but it was for Jaime he smiled for. He hadn't smiled back, but he'd taken a quick glance at her as he walked past. Like a child wanting to show off their accomplishment, Yvonne had wanted to show the water gardens off to Jaime, but knew it was impossible. She had never bothered to ask, knowing he'd say no, knowing it would cut her to hear his tactless rejection of her idea.

Still, she must have told him about the gardens once or twice, because once he'd brought her a hairpin topped with a beautiful jewelled lily pad flower. It had been an unexpected gift, and Yvonne truly didn't know why he'd given it to her, and she couldn't get a straight answer from him. She still had the hairpin, but rarely wore it. Gared would have asked where it came from and she didn't have any answers that made sense. His horrid mother would have picked apart the story bit by bit until Gared knew she'd gotten it from another man.

As she sat on the ledge of the Warrior's pond, a shadow suddenly darkened her figure. At once she looked up from the fish she'd been feeding small bits of hard bread...and suddenly all the bread she'd had in her hand dropped into the water, her heart plummeting a hundred miles beneath her.

The whore queen, Cersei Lannister stood before her, her guards standing far off behind her. Confusion swirled inside her. She must be mistaken, why would the queen be standing before her? But Yvonne had never doubted her eyes before, and wasn't going to start.

The fair haired witch wore a beautiful burgundy gown, her golden hair twisted up into a regal southern style. Deep inside her, Yvonne felt a prickle of jealousy. Next to the queen, her yellow dress and her simple hairstyle seemed plain, ordinary. She wondered what Jaime would see if he saw them now.

She shoved those thoughts away from her like a poison and bowed deep to the queen out of instinct. How she would love to shove the horrid woman into the pond behind her, to see all her finery and beauty melt away in the water.

"Your Grace," Yvonne said her eyes to the ground. "It is an honour. To what do I owe the pleasure?" she rose from her curtsey, lifting her brown eyes to her unknowing rivals'.

"Lady Rosby." The queen greeted her face not at all pleasant. It seemed the queen only saved silky words for those who could be her allies, or for those she had to be wary of. "You spent much time in the gardens, I am told. Far too much." Beneath the innocent observation, there was a barb, Yvonne knew it. She clenched her hands into fists, but summoned all the courtesy her mother and septa had instilled in her since the cradle.

Yvonne smiled a small smile. Cersei wanted to rip it off. "I enjoy the beauty the gods have given, Your Grace." She replied modestly.

Beauty? Cersei rolled her eyes. This foul little urchin was lying, she knew it. The queen could see the magnificence of the garden, but she doubted this was why the Barren Lady came here. She was a liar, and one day, she would have her head on a spike, right next to her ugly little brother's.

"I am sure you enjoy more than the scenery." Cersei uttered darkly, her green eyes boring into Yvonne's. The younger woman's smile faded.

For a small second, Yvonne was afraid. Had this woman somehow found out about her and Jaime? What would she do to her if she had? At once, Yvonne thrust the fear back. All that Yvonne had done with Jaime Lannister had been far more decent than what Cersei had been doing with him. Cersei rightfully had no claim over her brother. And it wasn't although Jaime hadn't been a very eager participant.

"What were you doing alone with Sansa Stark?" the whore queen asked in a low murmur. The question halted Yvonne's wrathful thoughts a moment. Sansa Stark? Sansa Stark—Suddenly she recalled the brief conversation with the girl a few days past, in what appeared to have been an empty garden. Yvonne wanted to roll her eyes. Of course there had been a snake in the garden, she thought with derision. Quickly she provided an explanation.

"I was only trying to be friends with her, Your Gra—" Yvonne tried. Better not say the girl was weeping; especially when it was plain it had something to do with the Lannisters.

"You're a bit too old for that aren't you? A woman approaching middle-age, attempting to befriend a girl of four-and-ten." Yvonne bristled a little. I'm younger than you, you arrogant twat.

Yvonne hoped she hid her anger. "Your Grace I was not aware that friendships needed age limits."

The queen ignored that. "And what of Margaery Tyrell? Have you decided to befriend her as well?"

Margaery Tyrell? Was the woman mad? Yvonne hadn't spoken with her since the first time, at her little luncheon months ago. And if anything, Lady Margaery had tried to befriend her. She'd been content in watching the sea.

Yvonne opened her mouth to defend herself, but the queen cut her off, her voice as sharp as steel. "Do you think I am an idiot? You were the only one to speak to both of them." She hissed, venom dripping from her voice. "Who are you spying for? That little Tyrell whore? My grotesque little brother? That fool Littlefinger?" Her blunt hostility surprised Yvonne. The woman was not even attempting tact any longer. She had once thought that queens to have grace even in anger. Apparently not.

The sudden danger of the situation was not lost to the Lady Rosby. The queen thought her a spy because she'd been approached by Margaery months ago and had tried to show poor Sansa Stark some kindness. If she answered incorrectly, the mad woman before her would have the guards behind her arrest her for treason. She'd be thrown in the black cells of the Red Keep and subsequently killed at some point. She would not let herself meet that fate, not if she could help it.

And Yvonne prided herself on being a woman free from the games played at court. She observed the game, no more. As Jaime did.

Her answer was immediate, sharp and defensive. "I am no spy, Your—"

"Oh shut up, you Barren slut. I'm not a fool. You're spying for someone." It was hard to believe that a few moments ago Yvonne had been enjoying the tranquility of the water gardens she loved so much. "Don't try to deny it, or I'll have your tongue ripped out." Yvonne shut her mouth. How would she defend herself should this little cunt rip out her tongue? "If I ever hear of you talking to Sansa Stark or Margaery Tyrell again, I'll give you to the King's Guard, naked in the barracks." She let the terrible thought remain between them a moment, her threatening smile sealing the conversation like an iron lock. Yvonne stared back, a spark of horror in her eyes that made Cersei happy.

Then the queen smiled, as though donning a mask to hide the hideous witch beneath. "Good day Lady Rosby." She turned to go, her beautiful skirt swishing behind her.

Heart pounding in her breast, Yvonne let out a harsh breath, her sharp tongue lashing out before she could stop herself. She called out to the queen, not moving from her spot beside the Warrior's pond, staring intently at the stones where the horrid woman had just stood.

Yvonne's voice was calm and factual as she spoke, no tremor in her voice betraying the fear and rage within her. "Your Grace, I know the King's Guard do not have barracks. They've their own private quarters."

holy wow!

:D :D :D

so what do you think? i know, I know, no Jaime...I hate it too :(