She should have been happy. By all accounts she should have been the happiest woman in the Seven Kingdoms.
She was married to the King. Not the Mad King, Aerys Targaryen, the Second of His Name. The King that the people of the Seven Kingdoms had lived in fear of for years. No, the old, Mad King was gone. She was married to the new king; a young, handsome king. One who was beloved of the people.
There were many maidens across the Seven Kingdoms who would have delighted in being Robert Baratheon's chosen wife. She was not one of them. She had not been given a choice.
The man, no, the King she had married was young. He was handsome. He was strong and brave, to be sure. But he had not been her choice. And she had not been his. Their marriage had been one of convenience. They both had loved others.
But Robert's love was dead. And hers was forbidden. And her father had practically bought Robert his throne, it only seemed right that he also named the young King's wife after the war was won. It seemed little surprise to anyone when he named his own, beautiful daughter.
Her beauty was not enough to tempt the new King though. He mentioned his first betrothed often, even calling her name out on their wedding night. He compared her to his first love. And she always came up wanting. He was heartbroken and had a temper and she seemed to always be pushing his buttons.
She had made the mistake once of suggesting that he should not have been the King. The war had started when the Mad King's son had kidnapped a Stark girl from the North. Her older brother had rode down to King's Landing to demand her be returned to her family and the Mad Targaryen had imprisoned him and ransomed him out to his father. The old fool had followed orders and rode down to King's Landing only to be burned to death by wildfire and had his son's head cut off for his trouble.
It was then that Lord Stark's youngest son, Eddard, the new Lord of Winterfell, had taken up arms against the Mad King. The war was called Robert's Rebellion, and it was Robert Baratheon who was seated on the throne, but it had always been Ned Stark's war. And it was Ned Stark that the people would have truly rejoiced in seeing on the Iron Throne.
But after the war Ned had seen his best friend put on the throne and then had quietly returned to Winterfell to marry his brother's betrothed and mourn the deaths of his family.
She told him that Ned Stark would have made a better king after a night when he had been too busy drinking and whoring to fulfill his duty as her husband and king. The look of defeat in his eyes when he had slapped her across her face and told her to keep her mouth closed had been all she needed to see to know that he agreed with her.
Yes, she should have been the happiest woman in the Seven Kingdoms. She was married to King Robert Baratheon, she was Queen. She had been born a Lannister of Casterly Rock with all the riches that attended the family name. She was gold of hair and complexion and had more jewels than she could wear in a lifetime.
She was pregnant at a time when the kingdom desperately needed an heir to secure Robert's throne and line of succession. Her future looked bright, golden even. And yet, she could not find it in herself to smile when she felt the young babe kick within her. She could not delight in the knowledge that within a few short weeks she would hold the child in her arms. She could find no joy in knowing that if the child within her belly was a boy as the maesters predicted that her place as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms would be safe forever.
She should have been the happiest woman in the Westeros. But instead she was bitter and betrayed.
He had believed that his sister would be a better actress than this. He knew that he alone knew her better than any other in the Seven Kingdoms. But she was so bad at hiding her displeasure that he was not the only one in the castle who knew she was unhappy.
The servants were talking.
And when servants talked in the castle, people talked in the streets.
He supposed that it was his fault. He had been the one to suggest that they put an end to things between them after all. He had not meant permanently, but the way Cersei had railed against him it would have seemed that way.
She had called him weak. And spineless. She had thrown that vile name at him, just to hurt him. Kingslayer. She had gone through every emotion imaginable, trying to get him to stay.
At once angry - using bitter words in an attempt to goad him into changing his mind. Then sad - her green eyes filling with tears, making it hard for him to turn away from her. Then enchanting - smiling at him with that bewitching smile she had inherited from their mother. And finally simply untying her robe and stepping out of it, naked as the day they were born - showing him exactly what he was trying to give up.
He could have happily taken her right then; but it was that, the last attempt that had steeled his reserve and forced him to push her away from him. At one point she had said that she needed him. And maybe that was true, but what he needed to worry about was what the kingdom needed.
And right now, the kingdom needed an heir. One that was completely and obviously Robert's. One that people would look at and without question, know that it belonged to the King. A boy child, an heir with the dark hair and grey eyes of the Baratheon line.
Jaime and Cersei had never been as sneaky as they liked to think they were. There were already quiet whispers around Lannisport of what the two of them did behind closed doors. And their younger brother Tyrion had made more than one sarcastic slight about them. The last thing they needed, the last thing the Seven Kingdoms needed was for those whispers to spread to King's Landing.
So he had made a vow to himself to stay away, to stay away from Cersei until she had produced a legitimate heir to Robert. One that the King and the people of Westeros would not be able to question. His sister had called him a fool, she had told him that she would never be able to produce a child with a man she was so little attracted to and she had slapped him across the face when he had told her that a woman need not be attracted to her husband to do the deed, she need only the patience to lay on her back and spread her legs while he took what he wanted.
She refused to speak to him for a week after that comment. But what he had said had been true and within a matter of a month or two after the wedding there had been a royal announcement to the people of King's Landing and in Westeros beyond, that Queen Cersei was with child.
As much as Cersei had said that she hated him. As angry as she had been. He knew that deep down, his sister would be grateful to him one day. That one day, Robert might get suspicious of her and that she would be able to parade this child in front him - this heir with his eyes, and his hair and she would be able to tell him to look at what she had done for him.
Robert may have won the war for the Seven Kingdoms, but it would be Cersei who would secure the throne.
Gods, but the woman was infuriating. There were days when he was sure that she was trying to bait him, trying to make him angry at her. He wondered in part if it was his fault; he never tried to hard to hide the fact that he was still in love with her.
Lyanna was the only woman he would ever love. That much Robert knew for fact. There was no woman in all the Seven Kingdoms and the world beyond that would compare to her. Least of all Cersei Lannister.
They were different to be sure. Lyanna had been small, a slight little thing - a girl one felt compelled to protect and watch over. Cersei was tall, almost as tall as himself - her body was sharp lines and strong muscles, Cersei could protect herself. Lyanna had been dark haired and dark eyed, like all the other Starks. Cersei was as gold as the sun, a perfect human representation of the lion of her house. Lyanna worshiped the old gods. Cersei worshiped no one, save herself and perhaps that brother of hers. Lyanna had been gentle and quiet - she was no push over, the girl had a quiet strength and stubbornness like all Northerners, but she knew when to hide it. Cersei wore her strength like a badge, though Robert often wondered if she used it more as a shield than anything else. Lyanna ... Robert would have married Lyanna without a moment's pause. Cersei ... he had needed to be convinced of Cersei.
Funnily enough, it had been Ned who had first suggested the Lannister bitch to Robert. Just after the end of the war, while they were both still mourning the loss of Ned's sister. Robert could remember the day like it was yesterday. They were back at Winterfell after having laid Lyanna to rest. Robert hadn't been able to find the words to express his gratitude to his friend for having a statue made for her among the others of the Northern Kings and Lords of Winterfell.
Ned had waited until they were each one tankard of ale in before he had turned to Robert and told the new King that he needed to find himself a wife. Robert was shocked, but before he could vocalize his shock Ned had surprised him further by suggesting that the wife be Cersei Lannister.
It was no secret the Ned Stark hated the Lannisters and that they, in turn, hated him. Perhaps it was the sheer absurdity that New would be suggesting this at all that had kept Robert from upending the table and storming out of the room.
Instead he sat. And he drank. And he listened as Ned explained all the benefits of the match. The Lannisters controlled the Westerlands and were Wardens of the West. They had 60,000 men under their power. They had gold. Ned understood that his friend would just as soon not marry, to take time to mourn the loss of the woman he loved, but Ned was also a smart man. He saw what Robert, in his grief, could not. That while he had won the war and was seated on the Iron Throne it would never well and truly be his until he had an heir. Ned pointed out that Robert would always have the support of the North, but the Lannisters were a tricky sort, the only way to secure their support would be to marry one of them. To give them an heir that would sit on the throne of Westeros, one they would never be able to abandon.
It was then, once Robert had drunkenly agreed to the match that he began to cry. He cried for Lyanna; he cried for himself; he cried for his best friend, nay brother, and all that Ned had lost during the war to put him on the throne.
Ned, the strong Northern man, had cried too.
And then, once their tears were dry, and the ale was finished. Robert had sent his Raven down to Lannisport to propose the match to Tywin Lannister.
He had never admitted it to Ned, but watching that Raven fly away - a blackspot against the grey of the Northern sky - had felt like a death sentence to him.
Gods this was a hard chapter to post.
Not sure if you read the first edit, but I forgot how much the "copy and paste" option hated me.
So, here's version two.
I hope you enjoyed it, it's a prologue, of sorts. Setting us up for some very exciting things to come in the future.