A/N: Inspired by a Tumblr post pointing out the ridiculous details of Brienne's armour (FFN won't let me post the link so please PM me if you want it!), and my own (admittedly recent) headcanon that there's no way episode 8.04 was their actual first kiss, I bring you this little tale set in season 4, just after the gifting of said armour and before Brienne leaves Kings Landing.
This story is essentially told from Brienne's perspective; if I feel further inspired later down the line, I might do an alternative version to explore Jaime's motives. For the purposes of this, I felt it necessary to leave them something of a mystery…
I would ask you to please bear in mind that my canon knowledge is limited to one full viewing of the entire show (with the earlier seasons being quite some time ago, marathoned at some point before the premiere of season 6, I think) and what I've subsequently managed to glean from fics and GIFs within the awesomeness that is the Braime fandom. I may have taken some liberties with the layout of the Red Keep in particular. So please, be lenient if I happen to get anything wrong. My motto, as ever, is: atmosphere over accuracy. ;)
Brienne could not sleep, which was, frankly, ridiculous. After so many days on the road, with little choice but to rest on the hard ground or in alternative quarters of decidedly questionable comfort, she should have been more than glad of a soft bed. Instead, she found herself restless, the luxurious surroundings of her allocated quarters within the castle doing nothing to ease her mind. The heat was not helping matters, stifling even after dark, and although the cooler night-time air was taking some of the edge off, she had given up on the bedcovers some time ago.
Beyond the window was the distant sound of the ocean, but it did not compare to the crash of waves on Tarth; the gentle breeze was nothing like the squalling winds that buffeted her homeland. She was not homesick, exactly – though the capital was certainly alienating and the royal hospitality was starting to wear thin – but the similarities of the climate were just dissimilar enough to be absolutely infuriating.
In truth, the weather was merely a distraction – albeit a poor one – to enable her to focus on something other than the dilemma which had been plaguing her thoughts since that afternoon.
The gifts from her former travelling companion had left her feeling deeply troubled, and once the initial surprise had worn off, her first thought was that she fervently did not want them. It was not due to any ungrateful feeling, but because she could not fathom their existence. The very concept that Jamie Lannister – arrogant, obnoxious, a man who had made it his mission to become the bane of her life for as long as possible, and undeniably a member of one of the richest families in Westeros – had deemed her worthy of such finery was utterly inconceivable.
She had not expected their paths to cross again, following their arrival in Kings Landing. She had not expected, in fact, to remain there as long as she had, but it became rather difficult to refuse once Margaery had asked her to attend the wedding. (She hoped Sansa had made it to safety, cursing herself for what felt like the hundredth time for losing sight of the girl in the chaos of the young King's demise.) After that, she intended to leave as soon as possible, not wanting to outstay her welcome. And yet, she had continued to run into Ser Jaime, each encounter leaving her more confused than the last.
She was avoiding Cersei to the best of her ability, after their one brief exchange before the wedding. The Queen Mother's observation had left her shaken and unsettled; despite her best efforts to keep her feelings well-hidden, Cersei had somehow seen straight through her carefully-constructed façade to the bitter truth of her heart. Gods, Brienne had not even admitted it to herself, and suddenly it was out in the open. Was it really that obvious? She sincerely hoped it was not, and made efforts to keep out of the way of Ser Jaime – to no avail, as he seemed determined to keep seeking her out for conversation. She could hardly begrudge him the tentative friendship that had formed during their journey, especially after his brother had been arrested. Even so, their every meeting left her feeling strangely empty and unfulfilled.
Some distant, unfamiliar city noise beyond the window shook Brienne out of her thoughts again, and she kicked off the remaining bedcovers with a huff of frustration, disentangling the sheets from around her ankles. Rising from the bed, she debated for only a second over whether she should concede defeat and go for a walk to try and clear her head. Hopefully, a midnight stroll would help to calm her thoughts, or at least tire her out enough to sleep.
An indeterminate amount of time later, Brienne found herself in the stairwell of the White Sword Tower, where Ser Jaime had brought her earlier that very day, without having made the conscious decision to arrive there. She was hiding in a darkened alcove, trying to remain out of sight of the guard posted on the door to the common room, where her new gifts were being stored until she had use of them. For some reason, she had not anticipated that the room would be protected.
She considered turning back again, but she had made her way to the Tower seemingly on instinct alone, and was doubtless very fortunate to have gotten this far unnoticed. If she was seen on the way out, that would only raise further suspicion; she had come too far to claim she was lost. Her only option was to remain quiet, and hope that the guard changed over at some point.
Within only a few minutes, her luck changed for the better, as the guard began shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot. After another five minutes of increasing agitation, he finally let out a groan and a low curse, and hurried off to the privy. Brienne seized her chance, rushing to the door and grappling with the cumbersome metal handle until the latch released. She pulled the door open just enough to squeeze through, and carefully closed it behind her.
She waited, frozen in absolute silence, for any indication that she had been detected. There was no sound from the other side of the door, not even the returning footsteps of the guard, and she breathed out a sigh of relief.
The room felt larger than it had done earlier that day, possibly because she could not see its darkened corners. A shard of white-blue moonlight was streaming through the high window behind the desk, illuminating the still-open pages of the Book of Brothers, disturbed dust-motes sparkling in the air.
The armour had been covered again with a dust-cloth, and as she drew nearer she could vaguely make out its shape beneath the fabric. As she lifted the cover off, her breath caught in her throat at the sight of it, as it had done the first time. The dark blue plates were almost black in the low light, but no less striking. Her hand reached out, fingertips barely skimming over the cool surface of the metal, but when she reached the sword belt she pulled away abruptly as though it had burned her.
Up close, with the moonlight creating sharper angles of the armour's smaller details, several elements became apparent that she had not noticed the first time. There were sunbursts, hundreds of them, carefully and individually tooled into each leather square of the mail. She thought nothing of them, at first, other than the fact that it was overly thoughtful of Ser Jaime to include the symbol of her House. The sword-belt, however, was studded with tiny lion-heads, a detail so small and subtle that it would go unnoticed unless anyone was looking closely. She did not think to question the pommel of the sword, because it had been forged for a Lannister… but the armour was for her, designed specifically, and she could not even begin to understand the intention.
For a long moment, she was struck dumb, trying desperately to think of some reason for the armour's design. It could not have been intentional; surely not. Perhaps the blacksmith had included the lions by accident before receiving a full brief, and nobody had thought to correct it. It must have been an oversight. There was no possible way that Ser Jaime would have deliberately included the sigils of their joint Houses. Not unless—
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the door opening behind her, and she reached automatically for the new sword – Gods, it feels so right in my hand – preparing for a fight. In her floor-length nightgown, she was otherwise defenceless, and her only option was to attack – either that, or risk a trip to the dungeons for trespassing.
She held her breath as the door creaked open and a figure slowly entered, silhouetted briefly by the torchlight of the corridor.
"Who goes there?"
These words were spoken as the figure moved further into the light and revealed itself as none other than Jaime Lannister, and Brienne almost dropped the sword in relief. The tip of the blade hit the stone floor with a dull clang, the unexpected sound making him jump. Once he realised who was in the room, he hastily moved to close the door behind him, bolting it for good measure, before speaking in a hurried whisper.
"Gods, wench, what are you doing in here? Do you want to get yourself killed?"
She stowed Oathkeeper carefully back in place, before responding in a matter-of-fact tone.
"I was struggling to sleep and went for a walk."
"And you came here?"
She did not want to admit that she had ended up at the Tower without consciously intending to, so merely shrugged, as if to say she could go where she pleased.
"What of it?"
Jaime stepped away from the door so he would not be overheard from the corridor, his voice raising a little.
"Did you forget that this place is swarming with Kingsguard?" When she did not respond, he added: "Do you have any idea what would have happened if someone had seen you?"
"Of course I do. I'm not an idiot." She huffed in irritation. "Besides, I wasn't seen. How did you even know anyone was here?"
He gave her a withering stare, as though the answer were obvious.
"The Lord Commander's chambers are directly above," he explained. "I heard someone enter, and since everyone is under strict instructions not to allow that to happen, obviously I came down to see who I had to reprimand. The guard was not at his post, so I assumed the worst."
"I can assure you, he was unaware of my presence." They stared at each other with a familiar defiance, and she did not feel the need to explain herself any further. "If you will excuse me, Ser Jaime, I would like to return to my quarters now."
She made to move past him, but he stepped in front of her, blocking her path.
"You're going to have to wait until the next guard change, unless you want to spend the rest of the night in a cell."
She was unable to finish, as Jaime clapped a hand over her mouth to silence her, the reasons for which were unclear until she heard the unmistakable sound of booted footsteps from the other side of the door: the guard had finally returned. She wrenched Jaime's hand away with an unimpressed glare, and if their fingers remained in contact a little longer than necessary, neither of them chose to comment on it.
She tried again, in a quieter tone:
"How long will that be?"
He gave her an unhelpful shrug in response. "An hour. Perhaps more."
"This is ridiculous," she hissed, and tried to step around him again, only for him to block her access to the door entirely.
"This is not a jape, Lady Brienne," he warned her. "If you are found here, the consequences—"
"I'm no longer your prisoner, in case you've forgotten, and I don't take orders from you."
"Escort me out, then," she suggested.
"That would sadly not explain how you got in," he pointed out, and from the infuriating smirk on his face she had the distinct impression that he was enjoying her predicament. She refused to give him the satisfaction of riling her, however, and took a step away with an irritated sigh.
When Jaime was certain she would not make a dash for the door, he moved towards the desk, flicking through the pages of the White Book. Brienne resorted to pacing the room impatiently, the hem of her nightdress skimming the stone floor.
She passed in and out of the beam of moonlight, her gaze flitting between the armour on its stand and Jaime's position at the desk, engrossed in the recorded deeds of some Knight of old. His golden hand caught her eye, glinting against the dark wood of the table, though most of it was hidden inside the long sleeve of his shirt. She had not really paid attention, on his arrival, but she had clearly either woken him up or interrupted a similarly restless night: the long tunic and loose trousers were clearly designed for sleeping. It was difficult to tell in the moonlight, but the fabric looked expensive; she assumed it was gold, or a close approximation. A long, sleeveless surcoat finished the ensemble, in a darker fabric that must have been Lannister crimson, though it was more of a deep blood red to her eye.
Gods, he looks every inch a prince…
The thought sprang unbidden into her mind and she immediately shook it out again, focusing instead on something more tangible.
"Don't tell me she makes you sleep in that thing."
He looked up from the Book and it was evident he had no idea what she was talking about, until the still-unfamiliar weight at the end of his right arm reminded him of the useless, aesthetically-pleasing appendage his sister had foisted onto him. He pulled his sleeve down a little further, then hid his arm behind his back self-consciously. Brienne immediately regretted having drawn attention to it, but it was too late to take the question back.
"It was the closest thing I could find to a weapon," he explained.
"For what it may be worth, Ser Jaime… you need not wear it on my account."
He offered a grim smile in response. "I'll remember that the next time you try to break into my living quarters."
Frustrated that her attempt to rectify the situation had fallen flat, Brienne resumed pacing back and forth. Jaime watched her for several seconds, then took up residence in a chair. A few minutes later, his patience finally snapped.
"For the love of the Seven, woman, stop bloody pacing."
She came to an abrupt halt, her face a mask of unimpressed annoyance.
"What would you propose we do to pass the time? Play a game, perhaps? Train that weak arm of yours with some sparring? There's plenty of swords in here. Or maybe a reasoned debate – if you're capable of reason, that is."
He stared at her, clearly biting down a scathing retort, then rose from the chair and marched towards her. Before she could protest, he grabbed her by the arm and directed her into another chair, shoving her none-too-gently into the seat.
"Sit down and be quiet," he suggested, "if you're capable of being quiet, that is." He returned to his own chair. "I think I preferred it when you refused to speak to me at all."
She bristled at that, but conceded defeat, as Jaime had crossed his arms and closed his eyes in defiance. She fixed him with a glare nonetheless, but it soon became apparent that he was doing his best to ignore her. Eventually, she mirrored his crossed-arms stance and leaned back in the chair with a huff, suspecting that his suggestion of an hour until the guard change was a deliberate under-estimation.
Jaime dozed, on and off, periods of gentle snoring from the chair periodically interrupted by him jolting awake. Brienne had tried to sleep as well, but it was just as difficult – if not more – in the uncomfortable wooden chair as it had been in her comfortable bed. She briefly considered trying to sneak out of the room, but doubted she would get very far: if the movement of the heavy bolt did not alert Jaime, then the guard would most definitely notice her leaving.
Eventually, she vacated the chair and resumed her pacing of the room – albeit more slowly and quietly than before, in an effort not to wake her reluctant companion. Over the course of the night, the moon's path across the sky had altered the angle of the light at the window, no longer cascading over the Book of Brothers, but illuminating the armour itself. She was drawn back to it despite herself, her gaze skimming over it once more. The details were clearer now, and she had not been mistaken in her earlier assessment.
Behind her, Jaime cleared his throat deliberately, startling her, and she practically jumped away from the armour. When he spoke, he was clearly trying not to laugh.
"You can touch it, you know. It belongs to you."
Instead, she took another step away from it, turning to face him.
"I… I can't accept this. I'm sorry. It's too much."
"You can, you will, and it's not," he said with determination, rising from the chair. "I won't take 'no' for an answer."
"But I don't understand why—"
"Because you need to leave the capital as soon as possible," he said, the abruptness of his tone surprising her.
"To find Sansa, I know that, but—"
"No," he interrupted, and then corrected himself: "That is: yes, of course, to find Sansa, and Arya as well, if she's survived. But that's not the only reason. You need to leave before my sister finds something to accuse you of and deals with you accordingly. Believe me, it won't take much."
Brienne had to bite her tongue from blurting out that the Queen Mother had indeed already found her guilty of trying to take what was hers. Jaime was right: after losing her eldest child, Cersei was looking for someone to blame, and she was unlikely to stop with Tyrion. A stranger in the royal household, not to mention someone whom the Tyrell women had deemed an ally, could easily be the next target of her wrath.
Regardless, the point remained that the armour and sword were unnecessarily expensive for tramping through the Westerlands on a quest that might come to nothing.
"You could have given me anything that was going spare at the forge," she suggested, "rather than this. It's too fine."
"Too fine," he repeated, scoffing derisively. "Need I remind you that you are, in fact, a highborn lady? Clearly I must, since you've evidently forgotten your manners: it's very impolite to refuse a gift."
She bit her lip, chastised, lowering her gaze to the floor.
"I'm not ungrateful, Ser Jaime, I just…"
She had no choice but to accept the gift. She knew that. But there was nothing preventing her from questioning his motives in including the joint sigils of their Houses. That was a mystery which would plague her forever, unless she could receive a straight answer from him.
Brienne approached the armour again, allowing her hand to drift over the smaller details of the mail and sword-belt, their fine leather tooling and ornate metal-work. Jaime's face seemed to take on a slightly colourless pallor as he watched the path of her fingers, as though he had not wanted her to notice the smaller details so soon.
"Suns," she said, with more confidence than she felt in that moment. "For House Tarth. That much I understand." She hesitated at the sword belt, hoping that Jaime would offer an explanation so she would not have to ask him directly. The silence extended, and she had no choice but to continue. "I didn't notice, at first. Then I thought I must be mistaken…"
"You were not," he finally admitted, taking a step closer. "Lions. For House Lannister."
She nodded, but kept quiet, unwilling to voice any of her assumptions in case they were wildly, ridiculously wrong. Neither of them spoke for some time, and she was painfully aware that Jaime was watching her, waiting for her to speak. She could not make herself meet his gaze, in that moment, fearful of what she might inadvertently reveal – or what she might see reflected back.
Eventually, he heaved a sigh and moved closer to the armour, examining the details as she had done.
"It's excellent work. Better than I expected."
She did look at him then, in surprise. "You mean it… it wasn't a mistake?"
For a long moment, he said nothing, just stared at her. It took him some time to gather a response together, and he spoke it with none of the confidence she was accustomed to, refusing to look her in the eye.
"I wanted… I hoped to give you something to remember me by."
Startled, she was not entirely aware of her next words until they had already left her mouth.
"You say that as though I would forget you."
His expression, when he looked at her again, was just as shocked as her own, and she had no choice but to explain something that had been instinctual.
"What you did for me… what you lost for me. I will forever be grateful, Ser Jaime, and it's not something I am like to forget any time soon. And I… it means a lot that you trusted me with your great secret."
"I'm just glad you didn't let me drown," he responded, automatically deflecting into sarcasm, and Brienne rolled her eyes, trying to conceal her embarrassment at having let her guard down, only for Jaime to revert back to old habits. He had evidently realised as much himself, because he immediately attempted to correct his error:
"I'm sorry. That was…" He sighed, and tried again: "Yes, I did trust you. I do still. I know we did not have the best start, but I'm grateful for our friendship. In all honesty, I would rather you did not leave Kings Landing at all: friendly faces are a rarity here, especially for a Lannister. But it's not safe for you to stay, and the oath to Lady Catelyn is more important than what I want."
To her great dismay, Brienne felt the telltale onset of tears, and she tried to keep them at bay.
"I will find the Stark girls," she reassured him again. "I swear it. And then—"
"Don't say you'll find me, Brienne." His tone was morose. "You won't. You will remain loyal to House Stark, and we both know it."
"I won't be your enemy," she told him adamantly, and the smile he gave her was grim.
"You may not have much of a choice."
"Well, let's hope it doesn't come to that," she said solemnly. "I can't bear to think of us being on opposite sides of this war."
"One of the unfortunate side effects of war, my Lady, is that friendships forged in dire circumstances can rarely be expected to survive. Despite that, I'm happy we were able to overcome our differences, if only for a short time."
"As am I, Ser Jaime." She swallowed the lump in her throat, examining her hands as she picked nervously at her short nails. "Thank you for the gifts. I apologise if I seemed ungrateful. If they help me to find the Stark girls, of course I will be happy to receive them."
She hesitated to voice the other feeling which was now rolling around inside her at the thought of leaving Kings Landing, and she did not realise that she was wringing her hands together until Jaime cautiously placed his hand over both of hers, stepping forward to stand before her with a concerned expression.
"My Lady? Is something wrong?"
She shook her head, and the tears she had been trying to keep at bay escaped unbidden.
"No. There's nothing wrong, I just…" She took at deep breath to try and regain some composure. "I'm going to miss you, after I leave."
She expected another sardonic comment in response, but instead his face softened; she barely noticed, focused instead on the way his thumb was lightly caressing her hand, almost of its own volition.
"As will I."
He relinquished his light grip on her hands and reached instead to wipe the tears from her face. At first, she flinched away from him, wary of his intentions. He did not persevere but held her gaze, imparting silently that she could trust him, and when he inched his hand forward again she allowed the contact. His palm was warm against her cheek as he brushed away her tears with the pad of his thumb, and she was so distracted by the unexpected tenderness of the gesture that she did not realise he was leaning closer until she felt his breath fanning across her face.
She froze on instinct, pushing lightly against his chest with her palms to prevent him from moving any nearer.
"What are you doing?" she asked in a whisper, hating how utterly terrified she sounded.
She expected him to mock her, but instead he gave her a gentle smile. "What does it look like I'm doing?"
All she could do was stammer uselessly – "But I don't… I've never…" – flushed with embarrassment and shame at her own naivety. At any second, she anticipated that he would start laughing, but she could not tear her gaze away. Instead, his thumb continued to caress her cheekbone, his face flitting through sympathy and understanding, to something she could only interpret as mischievous.
"I'd very much like to give you another parting gift," he suggested, "if you are amenable?"
It would be impolite to refuse a gift, or so he had reminded her so pointedly earlier, and with her heart hammering mercilessly against her ribs, she forced herself to nod her consent.
As he moved in closer, the look on his face was so intense that she had to shut her eyes. That did little to reduce the anxious anticipation of what was to come, and it seemed a lifetime of agonising suspense before Jaime's mouth finally pressed against hers: a firm but gentle pressure, undemanding and sweet. She wanted to reciprocate, but she had no idea where to start and did not feel like embarrassing herself any further.
Just as she had plucked up enough courage to try and return the kiss, Jaime pulled away from her. It took her another second or two before she risked opening her eyes again, dreading the look of disappointment she was sure would be written all over his face. She was pleasantly surprised to find that he was merely gazing at her thoughtfully. His palm had not left her face, still gently moving across her skin.
"You've really never done this before, have you?"
Like an idiot, she felt like crying again, and she willed the tears away as she shook her head, not trusting herself to speak.
"Just follow my lead," he suggested, and before she could respond he leaned in again.
She was quicker to catch on, the second time, returning the pressure of his mouth. Her palms flattened against his chest, the cool silk of the shirt a balm for her suddenly overheated skin. Jaime took a step closer towards her, and her hands slid upwards to settle on his shoulders, trying to ground herself.
By the time he withdrew again, she was feeling light-headed, still not quite able to believe what had happened. Her predicament must have been obvious from her face, because he gave her only a second to recover before claiming her mouth for a third time.
His thumb drifted down towards her chin, tugging her lower lip gently downwards until she succumbed, allowing him an opportunity to deepen the kiss. Her grip on his shoulders tightened in surprise, but she did not try to pull away. Jaime's hand sank into her hair, keeping her exactly where he wanted her. She felt as though she ought to reciprocate, or at least reach for his face, but she could not make her arms cooperate.
How long it continued, she could not say; time seemed to stand still. The Queen Mother's words were echoing through her brain and there was no possible way she could deny it any more. She had tried so hard to ignore that burgeoning feeling in her chest; she simply could not allow herself to fall in love with Jaime Lannister. Except now he was kissing her and there was no point in trying to convince herself otherwise; all she could do was hope fervently that he would never work it out for himself.
One of them made a noise, and Brienne was not sure if had emerged from her own throat or Jaime's, but either way she felt her face burn with mortification. She surmised that it might have been her when Jaime moved closer into her personal space, his right arm winding around her waist, though he was careful not to allow the golden hand to come into contact with her. She wished she had the courage to reach for his arm and remove the appendage herself, but she could not predict how he would react and did not want to interrupt the moment, nor to jeopardise whatever had possessed him to kiss her in the first place.
As they eventually drifted apart again, Jaime's mouth lingered tenderly against hers before he took a step back, relinquishing his hold on her. A moment of silence passed between them, Brienne's hands still resting against his shoulders before she realised and hastily lifted them away again, allowing him to step back from her. She was struggling to interpret the look on his face, and was well aware that her own must have been a mask of utter confusion and shock. Gods, she wanted so desperately to kiss him again, but she found herself paralysed, frantically trying to process the maelstrom of emotions now bombarding her. Her heartbeat simply refused to return to normal, impeding her ability to speak without sounding, she was certain, like a terrified child.
She watched Jaime's face as his gaze flitted over hers. He focused on her mouth for a long time, and seemed to be drawing nearer to her again, and she found herself moving to meet him, her breath halting in her lungs.
A mere hair's breadth away, something made him pause. The disappointment sank into her stomach and settled there like lead, threatening to overwhelm her, and she was so focused on trying to rein it in that she barely heard him speak.
"The guard is changing. Now's your chance."
When she did not react, not having perceived whatever noise had alerted Jaime's attention, he pressed his hand against her arm and gave her a gentle shake.
"Brienne. You need to leave now, unless you want to spend the rest of the night in here."
Oh, that was certainly tempting, but she suspected Jaime was not of the same opinion. Instead, she nodded briskly and followed him towards the door.
He pressed his ear to the heavy wood, halting her with a gesture, and after a few seconds he unbolted the door.
"All clear, but be quick."
He pulled the door open just enough for her to slip through into the corridor, waited until she was clear of the area, and then followed, tugging the weighty panel closed behind him. Brienne barely made it to the stairwell before the next guard emerged, and she hid herself once again in a darkened alcove where she could not be seen. She could just about hear the exchange between Jaime and the guard as he explained his unexpected presence, and she could tell that he was in full Lord Commander mode, strictly business and stern in tone. It was so different to the gentle manner in which he had spoken to her only moments ago, and it sent a thrill down her spine. She knew full well that she should use the distraction he had provided wisely and make her escape, but she could not bring herself to move.
Inevitably, he found her hiding in the stairwell only moments later, flashing her an irritated look before marching her forcefully down the stairs in silence. She shook free of his grasp once they reached ground level, an empty expanse of corridor stretching out ahead of them.
Aware that she was hesitating unnecessarily, Brienne explained:
"I can't remember my way back. If you could just point me in the right direction…"
He sighed with faux-impatience, but smiled and gestured ahead of him.
"Please allow me to escort you, my Lady."
The journey passed in silence, not least because of the lateness of the hour and the fact that the majority of the castle was still asleep. Brienne recognised parts of the route, but had little recollection of navigating it herself earlier in the night; truly, her instincts had taken over to send her to the Tower.
When they finally reached the quarters she had been allocated, she opened the door and half-entered, turning back to Jaime from her position in the doorway, blocking his view of the room out of innate propriety.
"Try to get some sleep, if you can. There's still a few hours until daybreak." She gave him a nod. "Goodnight, Lady Brienne."
He turned to leave when she did not respond, and she found herself blurting out the question that had been plaguing her mind since leaving the Tower.
"Why did you kiss me?"
Jaime stopped in his tracks and span to face her, a slightly frantic expression on his face.
"Keep your voice down, for Gods' sake. Lord Varys has spies everywhere."
She bit her lip apologetically and wanted nothing more than to take the question back, but now it was out in the open she desperately needed an answer.
"Yes, but why?"
For a moment, she thought he would not respond. Then he apparently took pity on her, leaning closer, almost conspiratorially, and gave her a warm smile.
"Something else to remember me by?"
Brienne could not say what force overtook her in that instant, only that one second she was staring at him in disbelief and the next she had grabbed a fistful of his nightshirt to pull him back towards her, slamming her mouth against his. It took a mere heartbeat for him to recover from his surprise and return the kiss; if the previous meeting of their mouths had been a dance, then this was a battle. She had dragged him halfway into the room before common sense struck like a bucket of cold water over her head, and she broke apart from him, shocked at her own boldness.
"Gods," she groaned, absolutely mortified. "I'm sorry, Ser Jaime, I have no idea what—"
He interrupted her with a low chuckle and an exasperated shake of his head.
"I think you can drop the 'Ser', after that," he suggested, smiling as her face once again burned with embarrassment. He reached for her hand, allowing his thumb to gently stroke against her skin. "Let's call that something to remember you by…"
She smiled, a little sheepish, and squeezed his hand gently before letting go.
"Goodnight, S— Jaime."
"Sleep well, Brienne."
With that, he vacated the room and headed swiftly back the way they'd come. Brienne watched his familiar, lopsided gait until he disappeared around a corner, before finally closing the door. She leaned back against it, banging her head lightly against the wood to try and knock some sense into it. What was she thinking? Not to mention what Jaime must think of her, now.
She was due to leave the capital in a few days' time, armed and armoured with Jaime's unexpected gifts, but she knew it was more than her body and arm that would be weighed down. She did not know how she would cope, having to say goodbye, after what they'd shared tonight: not knowing if – or when – they would see each other again, but certain it would be from opposite sides of a battlefield.
As she returned to bed, the covers dishevelled from her previous hours of tossing and turning, she could not say that she felt any more able to sleep. Her thoughts continued to return to the subject of the armour; she really felt none the wiser as to Jaime's true intentions with the design, his latter actions only confusing her further. When she closed her eyes, she could still feel his kiss, the warmth of his lips and his thumb and his arm about her waist, the cool silk beneath her palms, the glint of the armour in the moonlight, the weight of Oathkeeper in her hand.
Something to remember him by, indeed.
A/N: Well, there you have it - hope it was enjoyable. It's my birthday on Wednesday so a few reviews would be a lovely way to celebrate. ;)
Coming soon: the final chapter of "The Things We Do" (honest!), and another, separate post 8.02 story to further this whole 'first kiss' headcanon I've got going on.