The light was fading over Blackwater Bay as Jaime and Brienne watched the water from their vantage on the stone walls surrounding the private terrace below the Red Keep. Drying sweat chilled their skin as they discussed the day's sparring, but the last rays of the autumn sun warmed their features with golden light reflected off the bay. This had come to be their favorite part of the day, and they often lingered here until after darkness fell.
"I do think you're improving, Jaime, but you've got a long way to go," Brienne was saying as she plucked at the damp tunic clinging to her chest, "you can't expect to be back to your former strength so soon."
"I'm stronger than you know, Wench. I worked my arse off for weeks with Bronn. Now that you've finally agreed to take over my retraining, you can see how far I've come."
"Yes, Jaime, as I said, you've come a long way," Brienne agreed, her tone conciliatory, "But you were starved and confined for a year, and putting on a stone or so of weight isn't the same as regaining your former strength. Your previous prowess was achieved over years of hard work; you can't expect to rebuild it all in the space of a couple moons."
"At least you have to agree that I'm a better swordsman than most now, even fighting with my left hand," Jaime said, wondering why she was so chary with her praise.
"You're doing very well for the kind of rough fighting Bronn taught you. But undoing the damage to your technique from practicing with him is proving a challenge."
"Undoing? You suggest that I wasted my time practicing with him? The man was a dirty fighter, but very effective," Jaime argued, "It's a necessary advantage now that I am less a hand."
"If you were really back to your full strength perhaps you wouldn't need that advantage," Brienne suggested, "Either way, you're certainly not strong enough to best me."
"I'm strong enough," Jaime said, edging a little closer to her.
Brienne turned her head to look at him, surprised to find his face so close to hers. Jaime held her eyes for long seconds before she abruptly looked away, pretending her attention had been caught by some seabirds quarreling over the bay.
"Wench? Brienne? Admit it; even if I'm not back to my full strength I'm still stronger than you."
"You have not bested me yet, Jaime," Brienne reminded him, "Not once, not ever."
"Ah, I have not bested you with a sword yet," Jaime said with a cutting smile, "But I bet I could defeat you in a battle of strength."
Brienne, caught off guard, laughed, "A battle of strength, Jaime? Are we to behave like street brawlers then, comparing our muscles as we square off against each other? What does it matter?"
Jaime's smile did not waver as he leaned in to whisper in her ear, "Are you afraid to try, Wench? Afraid I might be right?"
Brienne shivered and blushed. He was not playing fair; she had resolved to think no more about Cersei's accusation that she was in love with Jaime. He was making it difficult to maintain her indifferent friendliness when his warm breath in her ear was sending tingles throughout her body.
She tried to lean away from him, but he caught her hand in his and she froze, stricken.
"Give an old man a chance to prove himself, Wench. Whoever can pin the other against that wall over there is the strongest." Jaime gestured with his gold hand to a spot near the stone cut stairs.
"My name is Brienne," she reminded him, for want of anything else to say. She was having a hard time thinking with his callused thumb stroking over the back of her hand.
"Brienne," he said in a low voice.
This would not do. "If I agree, will you stop pestering me?"
"I'll try." He smirked.
"I won't let you win just to spare your feelings," Brienne said, standing and pulling her hand from his grasp.
"I would expect no less of you," Jaime said, "You're an honest woman." He walked to the center of the terrace, taking up a slightly crouched position and looking at her expectantly.
This is a very bad idea, Brienne thought, coming to stand in front of him.
"On the count of three," he said, "One, two, three!"
He lunged at her and wrapped his good hand around her upper arm, trying to get his right arm around her waist to drive her to the wall. Brienne grabbed both his forearms, pivoting him until his back was to the wall. He was surprisingly strong, and even lacking a hand his muscular legs kept her from gaining much ground as she tried to push him back. She wanted this silly fight over as soon as possible.
Jaime shifted his grip, bringing himself even closer to her for leverage. He got her nearly against his chest and Brienne grappled with him, trying and failing not to make too much contact with his body. His nearness was making her lose focus as their legs tangled and their struggle to move each other to the wall began to resemble a lover's embrace.
The rabid beating of Brienne's heart had little to do with exertion, and Jaime's labored breathing against her cheek could hardly be from the few moments they had wrestled together. This had to end now. Brienne pushed hard against him, using her longer legs to drive him back.
Jaime was not giving in, despite her surge of strength. Just when she managed to get him against the wall he dodged and turned, pushing her back to the wall. Before his triumphant smile could fully form, Brienne swung him around and pinned him against the wall with her body. Jaime struggled, still grinning, and she pressed herself into him from chest to thighs to keep him in place.
Just as she was beginning to feel like the contest had been won and she could relax, Jaime circled her waist with his arms and pulled her closer. With sudden comprehension she felt his arousal pressing hard against her where his pelvis met hers. Brienne gasped and tried to back away, but Jaime held fast.
Gently, he reached up and drew her head down until their lips met. The sensation was dizzying to Brienne as she found herself captivated by his kiss, no longer able to deny her feelings as she kissed him back. Yes, she thought, oh, yes, I do love him.
Jaime stopped kissing her just long enough to murmur against her mouth, "I win."