The Tower of Hand was an ancient place. A separate tower made for a man who does all the work and bears all responsibility, but makes no decisions of his own. At least that's how it was intended to be.

In the later years, the Hand was doing both.

"How did your negotiation with the Tyrells girl proceed?"

Tywin asked. He was sitting in a chair in an empty room, ordered to clear it from everything that was left from Jon Arryn or Eddard Stark. Empty walls and empty desk, that is all that was left inside.

"Well enough." Joffrey shrugged. "We came to an understanding."

Tywin looked at him, waiting. Joffrey suspected the man knew the general answer, if not the details. It was not hard to guess the terms of their compromise.

"I will father no children out of the wedlock, and I will have no wedlock either way. Upon Renly death I will declare her children as mine, and will name them my heirs."

Removing the very foundation of future conflict. It was a nice enough compromise, if too shaky for Joffrey's taste.

"It will break your agreement with Martells."

"Our agreement was about support, not the wedding. Arianne will have to settle for Lancel or any other son of Kevan." Joffrey answered. "We will guarantee her our support in securing the Dorne."

"Lannisters are hated in Dorne. Almost as much as are Baratheons."

Joffrey chuckled.

"The more reasons for her to stick to her side of the deal. We will give her the throne, but she will never hold it without us."

Tywin was silent, thinking, and Joffrey felt unnerved under his grandfather's eyes.

"You had given up the throne."

There was no ire, no anger in old lion words. He was calm and quiet. It did not make it any easier.

"I had prevented the war that was all but lost, and got the Stormlands out of it," Joffrey answered. "Renly is a sword-swallower, he will never have a line of his own. With Myrcella betrothed on Arryn, in fifteen years we will have four kingdoms on our side, and no other claimants for the throne."

"Renly had taken the throne because he had a larger army," Tywin said. "Why do you think it will not happen again?"

"Because there will be no larger army." Quietly answered Joffrey. "All I needed was time. Now I have it."

Silence, deafening silence. Tywin looked tired and old. He was old, Joffrey understood. He had never noticed it before.

"What happened to your hand?"

It was freshly bandaged, ending a palm below his left shoulder. Maester had to cut off a huge chunk of frozen flesh.

"I took part in the red god's ritual," Joffrey answered. "The Dragonstone was captured by the fanatics. Their leader wanted me to prove the purity of my intentions."

"By sticking your hand into the fire?"

"It worked." He chuckled. "They surrendered. I ordered every man to join the Night Watch."

The fanatics were happy to follow his order. Joffrey was not sure what was leading them, a threat of imminent execution or their faith. It did not matter in the end.

"I don't know if you are brave or stupid."

Tywin would have commanded an assault and would have slaughtered every rebel on his way. And he would've been right, in his own way. Joffrey already tried to use Tywin's methods in the Chyttering. The Dragonstone allowed him to try his own.

"I will need to leave. I need you to take care of the Stormlands in my absence."

"Elaborate."

"Daenerys Targaryen, the last of the line, was found in the Qarth. I want to take the fleet, find her, and bring her back to Westeros."

Tywin did not answer. He looked at him, puzzled. He was expecting it to turn out to be a stupid joke.

"She might have made dragons to hatch."

Tywin was silent.

"Did the red priest tell you that?"

His voice was cold. Every word felt heavy.

"The dragons…"

"Are dead!" Tywin barked. "No one had seen a living dragon in the last hundred years. No dragon egg had ever hatched, and trust me, Aerys tried hard."

Joffrey sighed.

"Daenerys is still a throne claimant. Can you guarantee that no one will use her, or a girl disguised as her to claim the throne?"

"A claimant? Of whom, of the Ironborn?" Tywin looked at him. "Do not try to cover your wishes with clever reasoning."

"She is the claimant. She can be used against me."

"The lords of Stormlands can be used against you. They are still loyal to Renly, who ruled them for fifteen years and not to you. You have to work to secure their loyalty, not run on the other side of the world looking for Aerys' daughter."

"I know," Joffrey answered. "That's why I ask you to look after them in my absence."

"What will you do if you succeed?"

"It depends. If she will have the dragons…"

"She will have no dragons. Do not waste my time on wishful thinking."

"Than I will grant her the Dragonstone and keep her on a short leash. No one would ever use a fake Targaryen as a claimant when there is a real one under our control."

"It will destroy your arrangement with the Tyrells."

"It will be too late for that."

Tywin sighed. He was old - old and tired. The return to the office in which he had served in his youth did not make him any younger. And he was disappointed. Joffrey could understand him. All of his children turned out to have some strange quirks in them.

Jaime gave up the heirdom to serve in the kingsguard, Tyrion was a dwarf, and Joffrey had a crush on Targaryens.

"You are my heir, Joffrey. I raised you, I taught you and I allowed you to waste your time in a library. It was my mistake."

Joffrey sighed. He felt that he needed to go. He could not explain it to Tywin, he simply knew it. He had no proof other than a vision, but his whole being told him to go with it.

"Had I ever asked you for something without a reason?"

"Your boyish wish to fuck Targaryen is not a sufficient reason. Or a reason at all."

"I pay my debts. Always." Joffrey pleaded. "Give me two months. That is all I ask and will ever ask from you."

Silence. Tywin looked at him, weighing the costs and the benefits. The man knew Joffrey well. He knew that he will not be able to stop him.

After all, now Joffrey had his own fleet and his own lordship.

"You will take five extra ships from the Lannisport and a household guard. In the slightest danger, you will return. If you will not find Aerys' daughter in two months, you will return."

"Agreed."

"I will send Kevan with you. We fought on the Stepstones together, he knows the fleet and marine warfare. You will listen to him. If he will give you any order at any time, you will comply immediately and without questions."

"I will."

"This is the first, the last, and the only time I shall indulge your wishes. Upon your return, you will serve as the hand of the king. You will rule the country and strengthen the position of our house, without complaints or slacking."

Joffrey smiled.

"I will. Thank you."

Joffrey bowed and left the Tower of the Hand. The crimson comet, harbinger of blood and fire, was burning in the sky. He had little time left.

The winter was coming.

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And thus the second major arc of the story, "the truce of two kings" ends. Joffrey is looking for Daenerys, the Others are mustering their forces and the Seven Kingdoms are resting in a fragile peace. I will not continue it until The Winds of Winter will be published, which I hope will happen before the end of 2020.

I would love to and expect to hear some valid criticism on the plot, structure, characters, and everything else. Come on, give me some feedback, I wrote all those chapters for a reason. It was my first story written and completed in English, so I expected to fuck something up.

If you liked the story and the characters, I offer you the options for the next one in the poll. They are all AU based, centered around either original or changed canon character:

Before the Roberts Rebellion, about the younger brother of Rhaegar. The original one, not Viserys.
During the Robb's War, about the alternative Theon.
About the alternative Aegon the Uncrowned, starting during the Aenys reign. It is right after the Conquest, the second and third generation of kings.
Before the Dance of the Dragons. A lot like Gaemon REDUX, but with the main hero being Rhaenyra's uncle (not Daemon, original).