Jaime was roused from his sleep at midday by Maester Corryn shaking him gently awake. He slept most of his days away, his curtains drawn and his room darkened.
"My lord, I am sorry to wake you, but there is a matter that requires your attention," the old man said quietly.
Jaime groaned, stretching widely. Had the wrinkled fool not learned by now that he had no interest in dealing with matters of any kind?
"What is it? Can't you take care of it?" Jaime mumbled, trying to slip back beneath the covers. A maid was already drawing open his curtains, and the noon sun blinded him. He'd always deferred virtually all affairs of the Rock to the maester, who, though not precisely comfortable with the responsibility, did a reasonable job of handling them.
Sometimes, however, the Lannister bannermen were not satisfied to deal with a mere Maester and insisted on an audience with him personally. It was dull, dreary work, but as Corryn was so keen to remind him, if Jaime did not hear them out, they'd likely be sending ravens to King's Landing to complain about him.
Neither the Hand or the Queen would take kindly to being pestered about troubles Jaime should be dealing with.
"No, my lord, I fear this is something I do not have the authority to deal with-"
"Very well!" Jaime snapped, jumping out of bed so suddenly that the maid knocked over a vase in fright and began stammering apologies. Already Jaime's head was aching and his tolerance for people was waning, and he'd only been up for two minutes.
"Forget the bloody vase,you daft woman! Just get out, both of you while I dress!" he commanded harshly.
It was only after they'd shuffled out hurriedly that he remembered the humiliating difficulty he had with even the simple task of dressing himself, now that they'd taken his hand.
He thought of the Stark woman's harsh words and scowled. Anyone would think him mad for believing the beautiful, strong Catelyn Tully had the power to curse a man, but it nagged at him more each day as he contemplated the turn his life had taken since she'd invoked the gods to bring him justice.
He laughed bitterly as he selected a pair of breeches and a tunic and set himself to the arduous struggle of putting them on and lacing them up. It took him what felt like ages to finish the task.
Good, he thought pettily. Let whoever it is wait.
When he emerged, Maester Corryn was waiting for him in the hall.
"Alright, what's this bloody urgent business about?" he asked impatiently.
"As you know," the Maester began, in that irksome tone he used whilst reminding Jaime of something he very well should know, but probably didn't, being so set as he was on his path of total apathy regarding the affairs of the rock.
"We have been holding a few lords who had allied with Renly Baratheon captive here. Lannister troops intercepted them on their way to treat with Renly prior to his death, undoubtedly to discuss the possibility of providing the false king with more men and resources-"
"Yes, yes, what of it?" Jaime said, urging him on.
"Lord Selywn of Tarth is among them. Your Father had commanded he be kept here until Tommen's reign is more secure, lest Selywn choose to ally himself with Stannis. He is in the process of selecting a lord to rule Tarth in the meantime."
"Right," said Jaime. "What is the issue?"
"His daughter has come to - to plead for his release," Maester Corryn said, somewhat nervously as though expecting Jaime to snap at him.
His fears were not entirely unfounded. Jaime growled in annoyance.
"Do you really think I have any interest in hearing some maiden sob for the release of a man my father has commanded remain imprisoned?"
"No, Ser- my, my lord. I, I only think- it would be wise to keep relations diplomatic, to ease negotiations as the war draws to a close. You ought to hear the girl out, even if you do not grant-"
"I don't care to hear some simpering maid's woes!" Jaime roared, taking small satisfaction in the way the maester cowered before him.
"I don't believe you shall hear much simpering from the Maid of Tarth, Lord Jaime. She is a- a most peculiar girl. She arrived dressed in armor and has offered to duel any man of your choosing in exchange for her father's freedom."
Jaime let out a bark of laughter at that. "Did she now?" That was absurd enough to capture a bit of his interest.
What sort of naive fool would think... it was idiocy and madness both!
He found his pace quickening as he and Corryn walked to the Great Hall where the maid was waiting. It would be quite amusing to lay his eyes of this delusional woman and he was quite starved of amusement these days.
Jaime had never had the slightest interest in gossip, but one did hear things.
Now that he thought of it, he could vaguely recall tales of the Maid of Tarth, a giant of a woman who paraded about like man and had served in Renly's rainbow guard.
He strode into the hall and searched for her. She was difficult to miss, standing in front of a few household knights, in shining blue armor with a scabbard on her hip. Even from a distance, he could see she was an ugly brute of a woman, and as he got closer, the maid got no fairer. He saw that towards the side of the large hall, Lord Selwyn of Tarth had been dragged from his cellroom and was standing, as wide-eyed and perplexed at this sight of this homely wench as the dozens of other onlookers were.
He continued to walk towards her. When they were just a few feet apart when Jaime stopped, waiting for her to curtsy and begin her pleas.
It never came.
She took a step forward and said, in a strong, sure voice, "Jaime Lannister. I have come to bid you to release my father, Lord Selwyn of Tarth, from his captivity. The war has reached Tarth, and his strength is needed to keep our island whole and unravaged."
Though her words were clear and confident, Jaime noticed her large hands shaking at her sides as she clenched them into fists, and the light layer of sweat on her brow.
Jaime did not attempt to stop the mocking laugh that came from his lips, though he knew Maester Corryn would politely scold him for it later.
"Do you, now?"
"Yes," she said, and he was momentarily shaken by the fierceness in her blue eyes, large pools of sapphires that seemed almost out of place with the rest of her homely features. "I do. My father was only on his way to speak with Renly Baratheon when he was taken captive. He has fought in no battles, provided no men to the cau-"
"Ah, save one," Jaime interrupted. "Not much of one, mind," he said looking her up and down judgmentally, "for one would hardly call a creature such as you a woman. But you served in Renly's guard, did you not, wench?"
Jaime was too focused on watching the maid's face change at his words to even consider how appalled Maester Corryn would be at his utter lack of courtesy in treating with a highborn maiden. He'd struck a nerve when he'd insulted her, and hurt had flickered across her features. The wench was a bloody open book. Her blue eyes had looked glossier, for just a moment, and Jaime had thought he'd successfully reduced her to tears in under a minute. All maidens were the same, underneath it all. Layers of armor couldn't change th- But then he'd mentioned Renly, and all that ferocity was back.
"Yes I did," she said, love and pride and pain all plain on her face. "And I'd do it again a thousand times over. But my father has not-"
"Did a grand job there, eh?" Jaime interrupted. "You know, I'd heard there was some mailed beast of a woman present, when his throat was cut. I suppose that was you? Curious tales, too. I wonder what the truth of it is. Some say she slit poor Renly's throat for him, while others say she was simply too weak to stop the hand that- oooh!"
He grinned victoriously when her hand found the hilt of her blade and she began to pull it out. A half a dozen of his guard moved forward, blades drawn.
"Brienne!" Lord Selywn cried out across the hall and Jaime spared a brief glance to see the old man stuggling to step forward, held back by the guards.
But the wench had already dropped her blade into its scabbard and was looking angry with herself for rising to the bait.
Jaime signaled for them to back off and smiled wickedly at her.
"Do you even know how to use that thing?"
"I'd say I can wield a blade a good deal better than you can these days, Lannister," she hissed quietly, eyes flickering pointedly to his stump. He'd neglected to put on his golden hand this morning and it was there, bare and hideous.
Jaime felt a wave of fury course through him at her audacity.
Louder, so the entire hall could hear, Brienne said, "I am willing to fight for my father's freedom, if need be. I will fight any man you name and beat him."
Jaime watched her quietly for a long moment. There was sheer conviction in her eyes, and he admitted, he was curious to see how she would fare in a fight. She was bloody huge and her arms were certainly muscular enough, but strength alone meant little in unskilled hands.
But even one as disinterested in politics as he was knew it would be no good if word got out that one of his guards had slaughtered a young woman of a noble house in his hall. The Lannister name had been dragged through enough mud by himself, his father, his sister and his vile dead son.
"While I'm sure that would provide great amusement to my household," Jaime said, taking a step closer. He took her hand and kissed it, feeling it stiffen and clench into a fist beneath his lips. He smiled mockingly up at her. "It would not be very honorable for me to allow a highborn maiden to be killed so brutally in my hall."
"What do you know of honor, Kingslayer?" the ugly wench hissed, so quietly that none but Jaime could hear. Rage swelled up inside him, but before he could react, she wrenched her hand out of his grasp and addressed the rest of the hall. "I assure you, I have no fear about that being a possible outcome. I take the risk willingly."
A few onlookers had begun to laugh. Jaime glowered at her. This was getting out of hand. He had to end this spectacle now, and get back to his chambers. As he considered the matter quietly, Selwyn used the opportunity to call out to his daughter.
"Brienne, my child, this is madness. Return to Tarth. Rule in my stead until the fighting ends and I shall-"
"Quiet," Selwyn's guard said sharply, elbowing him in the ribs and the old man fell silent.
"Your father is right, my lady," Jaime said at last. "It is madness. I will not have you dueling anyone in my hall." He paused once again, but much more briefly this time, for an idea came to him almost at once as he considered the obvious affection between father and daughter he was witnessing. "However...I believe there is a way we can help your father, if you are willing."
"What's that?" Brienne asked, narrowing her eyes suspiciously.
Jaime considered the solution bouncing around in his head. It was reckless, stupid and probably a little bit insane...but it made sense.
Tarth was an island and Selwyn's ancestors had ruled it since- since- well, Jaime didn't know or care precisely how long, but it was long enough that its people would be unwilling to bend to whatever outsider Tywin thought to grant it to.
And the man loved his daughter, that much was plain. Why, Jaime could not comprehend, for she was an ugly, delusional beast who pranced around playing at swords and war and insulting her betters. But Jaime recalled that Lord Selwyn had no other heir, and his distress at seeing his child willing to die for his freedom was plain.
Jaime had no interest in these political games, but he was in this regardless of his wishes. So he made his move.
"Tarth needs a strong hand to rule it. That much is true. And the King needs loyalty. I will send your father back to your Sapphire Isle. But in order to ensure his loyalty to King Tommen, you will remain hostage at Casterly Rock in his place."
Brienne stared at him, her blue eyes wide. She took only a moment to consider it before bowing her head, "Very well. I will stay."
"No, Brienne!" her father cried out, but he was silenced by the guard immediately.
"Yes, father. You are needed at home. I will remain here in your stead." she said, addressing him from across the hall, her expression set and determined.
Jaime turned to Maester Corryn. "Corryn, find suitable chambers for the lady," he said, before turning towards the guards who held Selwyn, "Get Lord Selwyn some suitable clothes for travel. Cleos, gather up a suitable sized guard to escort Lord Selywn safely home."
He turned to go. Maester Corryn and a few guards were attempting to lead Brienne out a side door of the hall, towards a passage that contained a number of fine rooms. Across the hall, Lord Selwyn was being lead out another door.
"Wait! Please! I want to- I want to say goodbye!" Brienne pleaded, fighting them. One of them had already taken her sword, but she was twisting wildly, trying to move back across the hall to her father. Now there were tears leaking freely from her blue eyes. Jaime only spared her the briefest of glances, but he could see them streaming down her freckled cheeks.
He turned his back and strode out of the hall back to his chambers, ignoring the sounds of her pleas, slamming the door in his wake.Notes:
Guh! Sorry Jaime was such a horrible brute there! That was hard to write because I'm so sensitive towards Brienne.
Anyway, I hope this is enjoyable and not too ridiculous.
Feedback is SO greatly appreciated!