Author's Notes: I was pretty annoyed with everything the writer's made Jaime do from S8E4 onward. None of it felt true to the characters, even Brienne. This is a piece meant to address that disastrously OOC turn.
The Silence of Snow
Brienne came awake with a start. Facing towards the window, she could see it was still dark, but something was out of place. It was too quiet. She reached behind her and grasped at air. Turning over she could see the crease where Jaime had only been recently laying. She brushed her fingertips and found the sheets lukewarm. He hadn't been gone for long.
She threw the covers off and leapt to her feet, wrapping herself and shivering in the sudden chill, but then she scrambled to throw on a pair of breeches and a shirt. Before leaving, she glanced around for any clue to his whereabouts and found Widow's Wail still paired with his armor, but his cloak was missing. Probably not doing more than getting air, she soothed herself, but it did little to abate her racing heart.
Despite what she knew of him, there was always that doubt in the back of her mind. She had fallen unabashedly in love with him in spite of them both, but she had never imagined the feelings would be returned. Neither of them had actually said the words. But Ser Jaime was a man of action and his every look, his every gesture towards her spoke of love. Or so she thought. Was she merely seeing what she wanted to see?
The moment of her being knighted was seared in her brain, but she still looked to him for comfort, for confirmation, that he had really done this. He looked almost as astonished as she had, but it wasn't in disbelief. She tried to stifle the singing in her heart, but every romantic tale she had ever heard bespoke a moment where the Prince saw his love for the first time and Ser Jaime's expression encapsulated that. The shining hope and reverence reflected none of the disdain or sneering that she had long been used to, even from him. But he hadn't disparaged her looks since before they'd left Harrenhal, that vague comment in the bath about not being interested was the last reference to her appearance.
As sure as the sun rose in the east, Brienne was sure Ser Jaime Lannister loved her.
But there was a reason for her doubts. That vile sister of his still held him in her talons, whether he admitted to it or not. Despite the fact that he had deliberately disobeyed his twin and abandoned her for the northern cause, despite Jaime glancing at her to show he rode north for her, despite her threatening to kill him twice, Cersei would always have him encaged.
Brienne pulled on her boots and wrapped her own cloak around her, prepared to search the entire castle for him. The first guard she ran into pointed her in the right direction. She stood in the opening, her breath clouding in front of her as she studied him.
He was a silhouette in the night, standing as still as a statue and she knew that he gazed south. A light snow was falling and left a layer of snow on the walkway and on him. She took a deep breath and stepped out onto the ramparts, deliberately scuffing her feet so that her approach would not be silent.
Jaime turned his head ever so slightly to acknowledge her before staring back south again.
She stood close enough to brush his shoulder but said nothing. He needed the opportunity to open the conversation otherwise he might never speak. They stood there for some time. She was just beginning to wonder if she would grow colder than him first for once when he broke the silence.
"I should be there. Shouldn't I?"
"Because you love her?" She asked, feeling her heart clench but she fought to remain unmoved. Jaime loves you, she chastised herself. But was it enough?
He gave the barest shake of his head. He still stared south, but she thought she could see the jagged edge of a broken soul. They radiated sadness and hurt. This wasn't like how he looked when he'd lost his swordhand. Then he was morose and vulnerable and in pain. Now he looked like a child who'd never felt a kind hand or heard a kind word before.
"I'm her brother," he murmured. "I've never been without her and when I was, it was the most miserable time in my life."
"Even with me?" Brienne said. He stiffened and looked at her even more wounded. She cursed herself. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that even in jest."
Jaime stared and then she saw his mouth quirk in a smile. "Your jokes are equal to that pink monstrosity you wore in the bear pit."
Brienne sighed, hearing the low rumble of a bitter chuckle from him. I deserved that, she thought.
She had instinctively known what he meant. There were three distinct times where Jaime was without his twin: guarding the Mad King, being imprisoned in the Stark camp, and being encamped at Riverrun. His loneliness produced mostly hardship. But then he had braved the loneliness, in the winter, to ride North to her.
"Nothing is more hateful than failing to protect the one you love," Jaime whispered.
She closed her eyes. Those words had been her constant companion through the years, having loved Jaime from afar and yet unable to be there in a time of need. She distinctly recalled her heart being in her throat when she'd heard about Queen Daenerys burning the majority of the Lannister army alive on the Rose Road. It had taken Pod reassuring her that they would have heard the news if Jaime had died in that rout.
"I'm failing her by not being at her side. How is that honorable?" He turned to her, the question sincere in his eyes.
This beautiful man, she mused. Her mouth twitched into a smile, though she tried to hide it lest he think she was laughing at him. How naive had she been when she first joined Renly's army at Storm's End? She had been so assured that there was only one way to be a knight, that everything could be broken down as right or wrong. To think it was the dishonorable Kingslayer who revealed that perhaps nothing was quite so easy.
Yet, again, here he was asking if his honor would be besmirched for not protecting the horrible woman who had manipulated and used him his whole life. Cersei didn't deserve it. She didn't deserve this kind of undying loyalty, especially when she had been disloyal in every manner possible against him. But he wasn't responsible for her actions, only how he responded to them.
A tear slipped from her eye and she was almost startled when she felt it slide off her face. Her eyes burned and she blinked future ones back, breathing deeply, trying to control her emotions. What could she say? That Cersei didn't deserve him to protect her? But this wasn't about what Cersei deserved, but what he felt he should do for the sake of his honor, his family. Weren't those the ideals she had been trying to unearth in him this whole time?
"Don't leave me," she whispered.
"What?" He said and he gazed at her with an intensity she didn't expect.
"Don't leave. Stay. Stay here with me. If you leave to be at her side, you'll die. I-I don't want you to die," she said, the words stumbling out of her. They spilled out of her like a dam had broken, as she tried to fight off the despair that threatened to choke her with tears. She did not cry, she would not cry.
He tugged at her to turn to him. "Brienne?"
It took an effort but she looked into his eyes. He still looked lost, broken, but now earnest.
"I'm not going anywhere."
She felt her heart stall and she blinked. "You're not?"
"I made my choice when I said I was staying here. With you. I came here for you! We've made love too many times to count already. I have never slept with anyone other than Cersei and yet I chose to sleep with you!"
Her breath shuddered out of her and she slumped forward, resting her forehead against his.
"But then why are you out here?"
His eyes fell to the ground and he shook his head. "I was...feeling guilty. She's supposedly pregnant with my child."
Brienne felt her breath catch yet it again. This is the first she's heard of this. "Supposedly?"
"I'm not sure it exists at all. Any time we had a disagreement, she would put her hand on her stomach and make some comment about how the baby would grow up without me. She knows my greatest desire was to have a child and actually be its father. But she knew I was slipping from her grasp, she spun the baby from whole cloth to keep me in line. I'm sorry."
"I slept with her again. I'm so weak that I gave into temptation when I had stopped truly desiring her long ago. I have never been so happy as I have with you, here, in the bloody fucking North. And I can't help but feel like I don't deserve it."
Brienne placed her hand on his check which brought him to look into her eyes again. "Of course you deserve happiness! You're a good man, an honorable man. Lots of people deserve different things, but it's not up to us to decide. Don't live your life worrying about it, just live in the moment. I thought that's what you were best at."
Jaime gave her a crooked smile, but then it fell again. "Did you really think I'd leave?"
She felt the heat rise in her cheeks and she couldn't quite look him in the eye. "It sounded like you thought that would be the honorable thing to do."
He sighed and grabbed her hands with his, though hers more or less rested on his gold hand. "I have been a monster for most of my life, but I have tried to...make amends. You're the only person who actually seems to recognize that, not that I can blame them..." His words seemed to get caught in his throat and she watched him shuffle and then sigh in exasperation. "You should've thrown me out of your room that night. I was flush with victory and drunk. I dishonored you and that was unworthy of both you and me."
"Jaime…" He held up his hand and she stopped, but couldn't help but feel her own exasperation. It's not like she couldn't have kicked him out of her room if she had wanted to.
"I wish to fix that."
Brienne felt her breath come up short again and she could only stare in astonishment.
He took a deep breath and raised his eyes to meet hers. "Will you marry me? That's what I should've said at your door that night. Not that gibberish about drinking. I've spent my life loving someone who didn't love me back. It took far too long to realize you actually did love me like I loved you. If I'm allowed to live out the rest of my life, I can't think of anything better than living with you. On Tarth."
Her mouth was open and she struggled to find the words. "What about Casterly Rock?" She blurted out and silently cursed herself.
"Tyrion can have it," he said with a shrug. "It's not like it's worth much anymore. Well?"
She continued to gape at him, unable to find the words, and then closed the distance with a kiss. A shiver ran through her at the sudden warmth of his mouth, but he returned the kiss eagerly. He was the first to pull away and they rested their foreheads against each other again.
"Yes," she whispered.
He stared at her as though not comprehending.
"Yes, I will marry you. I love you." This time she planted a gentle kiss in his hair.
He brought her hand to his mouth and planted a gentle kiss on her knuckles. "I don't deserve you," he whispered.
"I think I'll be the judge of that," she replied. There was more force to the words than she had intended, but he merely chuckled. "Come back to bed." She grabbed his hand, then let go, shocked at the cold and shook her hand.
Jaime looked down at the gold hand with a bemused expression.
"Come along. What-what are you doing?" Brienne asked as he began to undo the straps of the gold hand. He removed it, revealing the stump and then threw the hand over the wall. Even in the dim light of the starlight, she saw it arc away before disappearing into the night. He grabbed her hand this time and tugged her to the entrance.
"I hated that damn thing. I only wore it because of her," he said, a bitter tone in his voice. "She never did accept the loss of my hand. It made it difficult to move forward."
Brienne felt herself swell with happiness and pride. She'd always hated that damn thing as well, but it wasn't for her to decide to be rid of it. She still hadn't resisted giving it hateful glares when the icy metal had brushed her skin during their lovemaking. "You should get a hook. I've seen a handful of sailors on Tarth with hooks. They can scale the rigging just as well if not better."
"Will I be expected to climb rigging on Tarth?"
She deliberately bumped him and he chuckled. "We'll ask Lady Sansas to marry us at her earliest convenience. I've waited too damn long already."
Brienne squeezed his hand. "I never thought I'd be looking forward to marrying."
There was a fire in his eyes as he turned to her. "I'll make damn sure you don't regret it."
Author's Notes: Thank you for reading! I haven't decided whether or not to continue this. Maybe. I always need a break from writing my epic.