Disclaimer: I do not own any characters, names, and any copyrighted material used in this work. This is a fanfic, period. Everything belongs to their respective owners. Comments and constructive criticism are all very much appreciated.
The Return of the Dragon King
Aerys Targaryen, the Second of his Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms tumbled down the stairs of the dais upon which the Iron Throne rested, and leaving a bloody smear on the stone floor. Ser Jaime Lannister breathed slowly and heavily as he stood on the stone steps, his sword dripping with the fallen king's blood, and he slowly turned his head to gaze upon the Iron Throne.
Countless swords fused together by dragonfire, beaten into the shape of a throne to represent Aegon the Conqueror's unification by force of the lands of Westeros centuries ago, and as a reminder to his descendants that no king should sit easy. How unfortunate though that so many of them seemed to forget that second part.
For a moment Jaime wondered how it would feel like to sit on the throne, and then he looked at the fallen king's dead body. And then he looked back at the throne, and then in the direction of the windows and the sound of the city beyond being put to the sword by the army of the west.
House Lannister's army…his father's army…
Jaime glanced back at King Aerys as he lay dead on the ground, and then back to the Iron Throne. Unbidden he heard the words of Prince Rhaegar ghost through his mind, the same words he had spoken before he had gone to that bloody field in the north.
I leave my family in your care Ser Jaime.
Jaime closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. The choice was made. The white cloak of the Kingsguard billowing behind him and without bothering to sheath his sword, Jaime rushed out of the throne room and ran for the Maidenvault. If his father would go to such ends to curry favour with the Lord Baratheon, then there was no doubt what fate would befall the Crown Princess and her children at the hands of his father's bannermen.
Heedless of what few, terrified servants were left trying to hide or flee the Red Keep or the sounds of fighting elsewhere, Jaime swept through the stone halls. As he turned the corner leading to Princess Elia's chambers he heard a door breaking down, followed by the shouting of a terrified yet defiant woman. With mounting horror Jaime saw that it was the princess' door, and he ran as fast as he could.
"Gregor Clegane…" he thought in disgust as he ran over the ruined door. "…a brutishly pathetic excuse for a lord and more so for a knight…"
"Get away from her!" Jaime roared as he spotted the giant brute reach for the princess and her son, trapped as they were in a corner. Gregor turned his head and raised his sword at Jaime's shout, but Jaime was already moving, dropping to one knee and swinging at Gregor's knee.
With his back turned to Jaime, the Kingsguard's sword easily sliced into the gap between armour plating, and separated the man's leg from his thigh. Roaring in pain and fury, Gregor fell…and with a shout of fury Jaime finished the job, stabbing down at his neck and twisting the blade. Through the man's visor Jaime could see the so-called Mountain's eyes widen in shock before going dark.
"Ser Jaime…" Elia began weakly as Jaime pulled his sword out. The knight looked at her.
"My princess…" he said breathlessly. "…hurry…go and find something to cover yourself with… I will go and find Rhaenys. We must leave, and soon."
Elia nodded and rushed to her cabinets but not before shouting after Jaime that Rhaenys had gone and hidden herself in her father's chambers. Jaime was grateful, as he'd probably have wasted time looking elsewhere.
A shrill scream sounded as Jaime approached the crown prince's chambers, and while later on Jaime would wonder with morbid amusement at how he always seemed to be arriving at the nick of time, at the time he only felt urgency. He turned the door and spotted yet another one of the pathetic excuses that passed for knights in Westeros: Ser Amory Lorch.
And he was raising a dagger over the desperately-struggling form of the princess.
"No…!" Jaime shouted as he ran forward, Lorch looking up in surprise. And then the man was screaming as Jaime's sword cut of his hand at the wrist, Rhaenys scrambling away and pressing herself against a wall as Jaime used his sword's pommel to hammer Lorch away.
"Ser Jaime…why…? Your father…"
He didn't get to finish, as Jaime cut off his head with one swing. Footsteps caught his attention, and he turned only to see Varys the Master of Whisperers followed by a cloaked and hooded Elia with Aegon in her arms. Now openly crying, Rhaenys rushed to her mother.
"Ser Jaime…well done…come, we must hurry." Varys said, beckoning him to follow. Jaime obliged, the Kingsguard and the Targaryens following in his wake as the eunuch led them to a door hidden behind a nondescript tapestry, and Jaime unexpectedly thanked the gods for Maegor the Cruel's paranoia. Escaping through the city through his father's army might prove impossible otherwise.
"This passageways leads to a small, out-of-the-way dock behind the castle..." Varys explained. "…the ship there and its crew will take you to Pentos."
"Pentos…?" Elia echoed. "Why not Dorne or Dragonstone…?"
"They will be expecting you to do such, my princess." Varys said. "They will not expect you to go to Pentos however, and while exile is defeat…the war is lost now, but so long as your children live, then perhaps someday they may yet reclaim their birth-right. Please you must hurry."
Elia nodded and entered the passageway. Jaime hesitated however. "You're not coming with us…?" he asked the eunuch, and he smiled sadly.
"My place is here…" Varys said. "…and here I can do more to aid the dragons' cause than by their side."
Jaime nodded, and entered the passageway. Varys shut the door behind him, and Jaime ran after the princess and her children. Several minutes later and they emerged at a hidden dock as Varys had said, but even there the stink of smoke and the sound of screaming and shouting were evident. Rhaenys was crying again, and Elia was as well, but Jaime had no time to attend to them, as several Lannister bannermen had spotted them through windows high up on the castle above and were now trying to find a way down.
"Ser Jaime…" Elia began, but he shook his head.
"Go…" he said. "…I'll hold them off."
Elia held his eyes for several moments, and then giving him a thankful bow rushed up the ramp into the ship as the crew frantically began to cast off. They were but a short distance into the Blackwater before the first Lannister bannermen made their way onto the dock.
One man rushed at Jaime with his sword drawn…and fell as Jaime deftly avoided his clumsy swing and disembowelled the man. He parried a few strokes from the next man before braining him, and then ran a third man through. They kept on coming, but the corpses just kept on falling and the blood pooled on the dock and down into the waters of the Blackwater, until eventually he fell beneath their weight, a clubbing motion the last he would see before darkness claimed him.
Jaime Lannister glanced at his father through the bars of his cell beneath the Red Keep. He'd been in there for several days now, and while he'd been stripped of weapons and armour he'd been surprisingly treated well.
No surprise there though: his father's bannermen knew better than to incur their lord's wrath by mistreating his son, and even though he'd heard through the guards' conversations that the Storm Lord had since arrived, even then the man who would usurp the Targaryen throne and his men would not want to make an enemy of Tywin Lannister.
"Why what…?" Jaime asked back.
"Don't ask stupid questions." Tywin growled. "Why did you help Rhaegar's family escape? And after killing Aerys too…"
"Aerys was mad." Jaime interrupted. "He would have burned the city down with Wildfire if I hadn't killed him, and his name would have gone down in history as that of a monster. So I did my duty, and preserved what little good there was to his name, and did the same by saving Princess Elia and her children."
"You fool…" Tywin growled, his voice simmering with rage. "…your duty…you have put everything at risk…your sister may yet be queen, but we would be fortunate if Robert does not simply have you executed for aiding his enemies!"
"And what was I supposed to do?" Jaime asked coldly. "Let that pig Amory Lorch kill a child of three years? Leave Princess Elia and her son to the tender mercies of the Mountain?"
"Yes!" Tywin roared. "For the sake of your family, yes…! Your sister, queen! You released from your oaths and free to take your rightful place as my heir…! A dynasty of lions who would rule for a thousand years and more! All you had to do was to let them die!"
"Then how different are you from the Mad King?" Jaime shouted back, and Tywin looked as though Jaime had slapped him. Father and son stared coldly at each other, but it was Tywin who looked away first, walking away without another word.
Jaime stayed in his cell for several more days before finally being brought before Robert Baratheon, now calling himself the King of the Seven Kingdoms. And standing protectively before the throne was his former brother in the Kingsguard, Ser Barristan Selmy. The sight nearly broke Jaime's heart, even as the guards forced him onto his knees before the throne.
Barristan the Bold…how the mighty have fallen…
"Ser Jaime Lannister…" Lord Jon Arryn began, now apparently the Usurper's Hand. "…you have undoubtedly acted against the interests of His Grace, the King of the Seven Kingdoms Robert Baratheon the First of his Name however His Grace cannot deny that your actions were merely in line with your duty as a sworn brother of the Kingsguard."
Jaime said nothing as Jon Arryn paused, and after a moment the Hand of the King continued. "His Grace has also been made aware of the reasons for your slaying of the late Aerys Targaryen…" Jon Arryn said. "…and as such he has no regret in granting you mercy and pardon for the crime of regicide. In recognition of your dedication to your duty, he would offer you a place in his Kingsguard, or if you so wish, he would release you from your oaths and to go wherever you so wish as a free man. What say you, Ser Jaime Lannister?"
Jaime said nothing, though he made to rise. The guards immediately placed their hands on his shoulders, but nothing more at a gesture from the Hand. Another gesture and he was allowed to rise. Jaime looked around, noting the notables in the court, including his father…and his sister. The former's eyes were cold, but the latter was almost obvious in her pleading expectation that he bend knee.
He almost did, but then he glanced at the throne and the Usurper seated upon it, and he remembered Amory Lorch and Gregor Clegane, and the sad expression on the princess' face when he had told her to leave him behind. Jaime smiled, and everyone else visibly relaxed, as though expecting him to simply roll over.
The lion bows to no one, save for the dragon.
Jaime spat on the ground before the dais and all upon and before it, and the guards promptly beat him onto the floor at this great insult to their king. Audible gasps could be heard, and Cersei looked away while Tywin ground his teeth. Barristan looked mournful, while Jon Arryn looked apprehensively at Robert as he rose from the Iron Throne, his thunderous face showing temper barely held in check.
"I show you mercy…" he spat. "…and this is how you return it? I should take your head for this!"
Cersei whimpered at that, but Tywin was unmoved. And neither was Jaime.
"Well Kingslayer? Have you nothing to say for yourself?"
"You're no dragon." Jaime growled. "Dragons forged that throne, and only they deserve it! You're a usurper, nothing more and nothing else!"
"Enough…!" Robert roared. "Guards, take him away! Throw him in the Black Cells and let him rot!"
The guards pulled Jaime up and frogmarched him away, but not before Jaime sent another gobbet of spit in Robert's direction. As whispering and murmurs broke out, and Jon Arryn and Robert began a hushed yet heated discussion between them, Ser Barristan Selmy the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard could only look away in shame.
"Why are you here sister?"
"You know why!" Cersei Lannister, now Queen of the Seven Kingdoms shouted at her twin. "Why can't you understand? All you have to do is bend knee! Swear allegiance to Robert! And then you'll be out of this cell. You'll be free. Free to be with me…"
Jaime glanced at his sister at that, and after a moment he rose from his cot and stepped closer. Brother and sister looked at each other in the eyes, hands caressing each other's faces. "Please Jaime…" Cersei whispered. "…do it for me, if nothing else…"
Jaime pulled his sister into an embrace despite the bars between them. "I love you…" he whispered, kissing her golden hair that was so much like his own. "…and I always will. But you know I can't…"
Cersei gasped, and pushed Jaime away, shaking her head in denial. "Why?" she asked, tears running down her cheeks.
Jaime smiled sadly. "It's not something that can be explained so simply." He answered, and after a moment Cersei nodded and left, crying quietly to herself and leaving Jaime alone.
It had been months since then, and now Jaime found himself being brought before Robert Baratheon once more. The Kingsguard was complete now, as was the Small Council. His father was missing this time, but his sister now sat where the queen customarily sat, to the left of the Iron Throne.
The guards left him to stand alone – bound of course – before the Iron Throne, something that caught Jaime by surprise. And then Jon Arryn began to speak.
"Ser Jaime Lannister…" he said. "…your loyalty to the Targaryen Dynasty does you credit, but times have changed. Things have changed. The Targaryen Dynasty is overthrown, and its claims on the Seven Kingdoms rendered void and unbinding. End this futile obstinacy, and…"
"The White Bull…" Jaime interrupted. "…the Sword of the Morning…Prince Lewyn of Dorne…Ser Jonothor Darry…Ser Oswell Whent…great and good men all of them, greater than I am, greater than most men in this time and age."
Barristan Selmy looked away in shame, and Jaime continued. "You would ask me to break my oaths…" he said. "…to bend knee to the Usurper…"
"Watch your tongue Lannister…" Robert growled. "…or I'll have it cut out for you…"
"…I could never face their shades if I do as you ask of me." Jaime finished. "I would sooner take the black than shame their memories."
Jon Arryn made to speak, only to be cut off as Robert rose from the Iron Throne. The throne room had gone silent, save for the quiet sobbing of Cersei Lannister. "If that is your wish…" he growled. "…let me grant it for you. Rot with rapists and murderers, and see where your loyalty to the dragonspawn led you! Take him away!"
Guards did as their king commanded, and Jaime did nothing as they did so.
Days later and Jaime was led chained to a ship in the morning twilight. The ship was small, and the crew cloaked and hooded in black, so Jaime naturally assumed that he was being led to the Wall. He was a bit surprised to find no one else being led into the ship, but he assumed that this was some final courtesy from his sister, that his journey would be made not in the company of others so far beneath him.
"Farewell sweet sister…" Jaime thought as his door was barred behind him, the sounds of the crew taking on supplies and casting off echoing through the hull. "…I hope you have a happy life…brothers, wherever you are I hope I did your memory proud, and will continue to do so."
It was not until hours later that Jaime's brooding was broken, and he was led up to the deck. The ship was heading northeast it seemed based on the position of the Sun and the assumed time, much to his surprise, the sails angled into the wind. He was even more surprised to see Barristan eating bread and salted meat at a makeshift table, and to have his chains unlocked and his sword returned to him.
The man smiled encouragingly – approvingly – at him, and then left to attend to other matters. Jaime approached his brother. "Isn't the Wall supposed to be to the north?" he asked.
"And yet we head to the north and east."
Jaime chuckled, wondering what his brother was playing at. He could guess though.
"I wasn't aware that Kingsguard escort convicts to the Wall."
"They don't." Barristan said. "They do their duty to their king. And right now our duty is to safely deliver Prince Viserys Targaryen and his sister Princess Daenerys Targaryen from Braavos to their family in Pentos, Princesses Elia Martell and Rhaenys Targaryen, and His Grace King Aegon Targaryen the Sixth of his Name."
Jaime chuckled, and then leaned against the rail. His smile faded after a moment. "Perhaps…" he said softly. "…if I had been there…if we had all been there…then things would have been different."
"Aye, perhaps it would…" Barristan agreed.
Nothing more was said. And nothing more needed to be said.
Different to Spoils for the Dragon King, still with a Targaryen restoration as the end game and with the Targaryens still surviving for the most part, but with fewer assets at their disposal: they don't have a separate nation of their own, and are closer to their canon situation.
Cersei might be a bit OOC here, but personally I find it implied here and there that she used to be different long before the events of the novels begin, and her current characterization is born out of cynicism and bitterness at the twisted nature of her family life: a husband who doesn't love her/she doesn't love, and one who constantly dishonours her, the pressures of being queen and hiding her love for Jaime, etc…