A days hard ride has made the saddle chafe, the stink of sweat, shit and horse smacked into his face as he bore his way into Harrenhall.
The men bow and step out of the way, hailing "Milord of Lannister." as he pulls to a halt in the courtyard.
He sighs, breathing roughly through his nostrils before Greagor Clegane catches his eye.
He turns his horse, Lance, marching the beast closer, and the stink of piss and shit greet his nostrils, he tightens his lips in distaste as the Mountain turns to face him.
"What's all this?" He asks, dismounting.
"We weren't expecting you until tomorrow My lord Tywin." The mountain rumbles, bowing his head.
He laughs, his other foot finally reaching the ground. "Evidently not." Better that men didn't expect him. He'd arrived early for that specific reason. That way he could see how sloppy they really were.
He pulls his gloves free, stepping up to the rickety fence that holds at least three dozen men and women. "Why are these prisoners not in their cells?"
"The cells are overflowing my lord."
Of course they are. Nothing was ever ideal.
"It's not like they'll be here long-" A soldier says, some lowborn from Lannisport by the sound of him. Stupid by the sound of him too. "Don't need no permanent place." The man comments as he makes his way around the fences. "After we're done interrogatin em we usually jus-" He gestures to the stockades, to the hang man's noose just over the next wall.
Tywin fights the urge to sigh in frustration. Idiots. This was no longer an interrogation it was simple killing of a bunch of stupid people who, very apparently to anyone with half a mind in their skulls, obviously knew nothing.
"Are we so well manned-" He grunts. "That we can afford to discard, able young bodies and skilled laborers?"
The soldier stares stupidly at him.
He walks forward, ignoring the torturer as he looks at his latest victim, black hair, a strong build. The boy could likely kill half the men guarding him if he had a weapon.
"You." He calls, bringing the boy's eyes up to him. Blue eyes, he noted. "You have a trade?"
He swallows, nervous. "Smith, milord."
A smith! He looks to the torturer, and to the soldier, and they nervously, stupidly, avert their eyes, with nothing to say.
The soldier soon enough decides to take his embarrassment out on the nearest prisoner. "What're you lookin at?" He smacks the wood railings with his stick, drawing his sword. "Kneel!" He says, as the prisoner backs away.
And Tywin notices something that makes him draw a little closer.
Delicate features, hint of a slim waist beneath the heavy clothes.
He steps forward.
"Kneel. Or I'll cut your lungs out boy."
"You'll do no such thing." He tells the stupid soldier. "This one is a girl. You idiot." He decides to add, for good measure.
He looks at the girl, dirty face, messy hair. "Dressed as a boy? Why?"
He half expects the answer she gives. "Safest way to travel my lord." And even though he half expected it, its still impressive.
"Smart." He complements. "Which is more than I can say for this lot." He pushes away from the railings. "Get these prisoners to work." He says over his shoulder, beginning to leave.
Still, he half pauses, thinking. "Bring the girl. I need a new cupbearer. Better to be serving drinks than raped in the barracks.
He did just break her secret after all.
"The Starks have over extended their lines." Reginald says, circling the table from the hearth to his seat. "Now that summer's over they'll have a hard time keeping their men and horses fed."
He nearly scoffs. "The Starks understand Winter better than we ever will. The Cold won't beat them." Our spies report growing discontent amongst the northern lords." Someone else says. "They want to return home and gather up the harvests; before the crops turn."
"I'm sure if those same spies snuck into our camps they'd report growing discontent amongst the southern lords." Wars effects went both ways Don't they realize that? He half wishes Kevan to arrive sooner. At least he had a half decent head on his shoulders. "This is war! No one's content." He spells it out for them.
He looks around the table. Five men weary and tired from a hard days ride and none with a single useful thought in their heads. The blasted cupbearer seems to be paying more attention than they are and she's actually occupied with something.
"We've underestimated the Stark boy for too long." He says, though its mostly to himself. Thinking aloud. " He's got a good mind for warfare, his men worship him. As long as he keeps winning battles they'll keep proclaiming him King in the North."
He takes a breath, and now he's addressing these five men before him. "We've been waiting for him to fail. He is not going to fail. Not without our help."
And they keep staring at each other like someone besides them should have the answer. He fights the urge to curl his lips at the sight of them, especially Reginald, chewing on some half cold piece of chicken and staring at the table like some slack-jawed lack-wit.
His wise council...
"How do we stop him!" Even if they're going to give him a stupid answer it'll be better than their completely dimwitted silence.
"We've worked all through the night my lord. Perhaps we'd profit from some sleep."
And his patience snaps, like an over-pulled tether.
"Yes I think you would Reginald." He all but barks. And immediately the idiot realizes he's crossed a line. And just incase his anger is in any way unclear- "And because you're my cousin I might even let you wake from that sleep."
Still staring like a fool.
"Go." He snaps again. "I'm sure your wife must miss you."
Reginald straightens answering carefully. "My wife is in Lannisport."
"Well then you'd better start riding." He answers drily. Let the sleepy fool return home with his tail between his legs. He wont take his men, and he wont take his money either. He's not that much of a fool. It'll be a headache to reorganize his division and split them up amongst the other lords but its better than having this imbecile breathing the same air as any of them.
He's still sitting. Still staring.
"Go before I change my mind and send her back your head." Him running Lannisport is not an enticing idea come to think of it. A beheading might be equall parts satisfactory and beneficial depending on his successor.
"If your name wasn't Lannister you'd be scrubbing out Pots in the cooks tent."
Still staring. "Go!"
He finally leaves.
The girl comes along. And he smells the rich wine before she's even close. "Not wine." He says. "Water. We'll be here for some time." She nods, and moves to walk off. But he looks at her, stares at her closely, remembers her voice, now sees her clean features.
"Girl." He calls when she starts to walk away. She stops and turns to face him. "Where are you from?" He knows the answer already. Her accent is clear.
"Maidenpool." She answers quickly. A little too quickly. He wants to chastise her and tell her to stop lying. But he remembers this is the same girl that had dressed as a boy. 'Safer to travel.' She said and she was right.
Smart. He's said. As smart as keeping quiet about where she was from in the middle of a southern army that isn't all too keen on Northerners right now.
He decides to play her little game, tedious as it might be. She's certainly to provide more engaging conversation than the men at the table. "My lord." She adds after a moment.
He smiles just for a second. "And who are the lords, of Maidenpool. Remind me." He doesn't need a reminder. He knows every house in Westeros from small to large by memory.
"House Mooton." She answers. She at least knows that much.
"And what is their sigil?" A more difficult question. And he sees her stop, like an animal suddenly discovering a predator, she freezes.
"A red, salmon." He answers. "I think a Maidenpool girl would remember that."
She looks away.
"You're a northerner aren't you?"
She nods, and he can see the unease there. She hides it well, but she's afraid for her life.
"Good. Now one more time where are you from?"
"Barrowtown my lord. House Dustin." He feels himself smiling a bit as she recites their sigil, though the reason escapes him.
Still, he decides to cut to his point. The reverence Robb Stark is regarded with in the North. "And what do they say of Robb Stark, in the North?"
"They call him the young wolf-" She starts, and he looks to the faces of his men as she recites one by one all the fables and legends and minstrels fancies that are told about their enemy.
This is not a boy that will bend the knee, this is not an army that will have their spirit broken by a single event or setback. This is a very real danger.
"-they say he can't be killed." She's smiling by the end of her little speech.
"And do you believe them?" He asks, half laughing himself.
"No my lord."
The girl says what she thinks he wants to hear. Smart.
"Anyone can be killed."
He pauses looks at her, and he sees that message in her eyes clear as day, sees the loathing there brimming just beneath the surface.
She hides it well but he can still see it.
"Fetch that water."
Once more he has an imbecile sitting infront of him like a slack jawed jester.
He holds the girl back from pouring his wine before glaring again at Amory Loch. "Can you read?" He repeats, trying to emphasize the word as much as he can.
He looks to the men around the table. Perhaps he should make them aware of the situation? In-case they suffered literacy problems like Ser Amory "This letter, detailing our infantry movements was meant for Lord Damon of house Marbrand." He pauses, looks at Ser Amory again and he hopes the man can see just how angry he is. Because if he proves innept even in that may the seven gods smite him now before he proves himself anymore useless. "It was sent, to lord Marlin of house Dormond."
He's hasty in his apology, and Tywin cuts him off before he can say some excuse or other. "Girl, fetch me the history of the Greater and the Lesser Houses its the one on the-" He pauses, watching as the girl quickly grabs the massive tome off the desk, grunting under its weight as she brings it over.
Tywin is so taken aback he actually allows a laugh to escape him.
Then his fury returns, and he glares at Ser Amory as the girl places the book down. "My cupbearer can read better than you."
He opens the book, finding the house and pointing it out for Ser Amory. "To whom, does house Dormond owe allegiance?"
Amory leans forward and seven saves him he's starting to believe the man actually cant read judging by how he squints at the letter. "My lord...I-"
"To the Starks of Winterfell!" He shouts. "Who have twenty thousand men and my son!"
He shuts the book with a sneer on his lips. "I judged that you were good for something more than brutalizing peasants.
He calls the girl over. "I see I overestimated you."
He leans forward, smelling the stink of sweat and old stale beer on Loch. "If you ever risk my son's life again I'll..." He stops himself, the words choking him before he jerks his head to the door. "Leave."
The girl is at his side, staring up at him, wide eyed and nervous. "Put the book away girl."
She puts down her sieve of wine, marching after wards to the book and picking it up. Its granted him a second to breathe, for his fury to simmer down. He looks to the girl, a small smirk finding its way to his lips. "Perhaps we should have you plan our next battle strategy." He sees her smile, almost delighted at the praise. He smiles too, his smiles are rare and his complements less so.
What does it say that she's been able to drag more out of him in just a handful of weeks than his generals have been able to do in years.
He mentally snorts. Maybe she should plan their next battle strategy.
The guard announces Peter Baelish.
And its only later, after the talks are done and he's considering the information Baelish has given him and he's contemplating Robb Stark and Stannis and how to deal with everything that something hits him.
'My cupbearer can read?
And when he puts the pieces together; Tywin Lannister is almost brought to roar in laughter like Robert Baratheon.
He's never met Arya Stark. But he does know Ned, and he met lady Lianna long ago.
Northern features, he'd thought.
She is the north.
Safer to travel as a boy, she'd said.
This time he did chuckle. That had been an understatement if he'd ever heard one.
A cupbearer who could read.
She'd spilled wine on Baelish, it was the first time she'd slipped up, even a little. And now that he recalled she always had tried to keep her face averted from the man.
A million plans rushed through his head and were discarded just as quickly. Robb Stark was no fool, he would not be drawn into a trap with his sister drawn as bait, and men would not follow a leader who had to use a girl, not even flowered to win his battles for him.
He found her in the War room, still cleaning out plates, still scrubbing. One would never know that she was high born. She did not complain, she did not hiss or tear or groan with aches at her work.
She worked like she was born for it. Did that say something about her skills outside of ladies tasks, or of her ability to lie?
He stepped forward. "Who taught you to read?"
"My father, my lord." she answers. And he wonders if its true, or if it was her septa, or her Maester.
He wonders if Ned Stark was like him. Sitting at a table with his children. "I taught my son Jamie to read." He confessed, smirking. "Maester came to me one day...told me he wasn't learning. Couldn't make sense of the letters. He'd reverse them in his head." She keeps her eyes on him as she works, deft hands picking up cups and dirty plates.
"The Maester said he'd heard tell of this affliction, and that we simply must accept it." He removed the part that he'd had that Maester dismissed from Casterly Rock and requested another from Oldtown. She didn't need to know that really.
He laughs with his memories, looking at the girl who stares back up at him with those big eyes. He has the widest smile on his face, one that no one had seen for a long time. "After that-" He says smugly. Proudly. "I sat Jamie down for four hours everyday...until he learned." He wonder's if dour Ned Stark would do the same for his children or simply accept the Maester's words.
Judging by Robb Stark alone, Tywin Lannister can definitely see the Winter Wolf sitting down with his cubs to make their minds as sharp as any blade...hell, he doesn't even need to look at Robb Stark. This girl in front of him is enough of a testament. A little high born girl...making her way from King's landing to Harrenhall, un-raped, unspoiled and alive...He doesn't know whether its a testament to her skills or his soldier's exclusive lack of it.
He takes in a breath. "He hated me for it...for a time." He laughs once more. "A long time. But he learned."
He straightens. "Who was your father? Is he alive?"
She hesitates, and sees something pass through her eyes. They glaze, leaving the room for a moment before she returns, shaking her head and now he knows for certain.
"Who was he?"
And Tywin lannister can almost see it, methodical, careful, honest Ned Stark, a stone mason. The work would suit him.
"A stone mason who can read?" He asks, raising an eyebrow.
"He taught himself." She says. And he has to admit she's quick on her feet. Barely a stutter on that one.
He gives an appreciative humm. "Quite a man." He pauses...wondering how she would answer this. "What killed him?"
And she fades away for a moment again, and when her words come its probably the only honest thing she's really said in a long time.
He smiles, just a bit. "You are a sharp little thing aren't you?" Arya Stark.
He turns away.
He pauses, turns back to look at her, but she's already averted her eyes, returned them to the table. "Forgive me my lord I shouldn't ask questions."
"No..." He says. Not if you want to better keep up this lie. "But you've already begun." 'And I already know.'
She looks up, blinking those big eyes. "Did you know your father? My lord?"
Its a surprising question, but he nods. "I did." He walks away, closer to the hearth. "I grew up with him. Watched him grow old." He says the last word as he eases back into his chair, his joints aching. And realizes that he feels old himself.
"He loved us." More than he loves his own children truth be told.
"He was a good man." A stupid man as well, who let his bannermen laugh at him in their cups and behind closed doors. "A weak man." He sighs.
"One who nearly destroyed our house and name." He wonders if Ned Stark's children will resent him in the future should he win. Should he finally drive the young wolf back and pull the House Stark from its seat of power, demote them to lesser lords and name someone else Warden of the North.
They might...but the love they bear their father is no doubt greater than the love his children bear for him.
"I'm cold." He says and he's not sure if it really is the night air or something else that brings the sensation.
"I'll get some more wood for the fire." She answers.
He sends off Greagor Clegane with his orders.
He turns, sees the girl, two steaming plates infront of her, for him most like. "Is that mutton?" He asks.
"It is my lord." She looks up at him still with those big dark, Stark eyes.
"I don't like mutton." He lies.
She looks uncertain, eyeing the food before she answers. "I'll bring something else."
"Leave it." He orders as she begins to lift the plate.
He marches forward, "You hungry?"
"Of course you are." You're a high born girl who's never lacked for food a day in her life. "Eat."
She looks at the food, and there's hope shining in her eyes but she's unsure. Still cautious.
"I'll have something in the kitchens later."
"It's bad manners to refuse a Lords' offer." He says, marching around her and picking up the knife.
"Sit." She does so.
He hands her the knife. "Eat." She takes it.
"You're small for your age." He comments. "Suppose you've been starved half your life?" 'Or it feels that way to you.'
But her hunger takes the better of her, and she has her mouth stuffed with mutton and potatoes and gods above only know what else.
Still, he can understand her. Another slip. "I eat a lot. I just don't grow."
"Hmm." He nods, and can't help but think Tyrion would have something to say to that.
He turns, walks the length of the room to peer out to Harrenhall through the fissured opening of the wall.
He doesn't know why he says it, but he does.
"This will be my last war...win or lose.
"Have you ever lost before?" She asks. And he knows that tone.
Hopeful. She want's the answer to be yes.
He turns, he's never been one to sugarcoat the truth. "You think I'd be in my position if I'd lost a war?"
She turns away, bringing her attention back to her mutton.
He looks back out across this cursed castle.
"This is the one I'll be remembered for." And its the truth. "The War of Five Kings, the commoners call it. My Legacy will be determined in the coming months." My families legacy...your families legacy.
He turns to look at her, and sees her jerk back to look at her mutton. "Do you know what that means? Legacy?"
She shakes her head, he doesn't think this one is a lie.
"It's what you pass down to your children. And your children's children. Its all that remains of you, after your gone." 'Do you know what your father's legacy is girl?'
He nods to the walls around him. "Harren the Black thought this castle would be his Legacy."
He makes his way over to the fire. "Greatest fortress ever built. Tallest towers. Strongest walls. The great hall had thirty-five hearths..." He pauses, looks at the fire infront of him before turning to face the girl.
"Thirty-five can you imagine?" He has trouble imagining it. Casterly Rock's great hall holds ten, and its twice the size of the Red Keep's throne room. "Now look at it...a blasted Ruin." He makes his way closer to the table. "Do you know what happened?"
"Dragons." She answers, eager, smiling.
"Yes." He answers, smiling back. He pours himself some wine, letting her keep eating. "Harrenhall, was built to withstand an attack from the land." He sits. "A million men can be hurled here...and a million men would be repelled." Again, his imagination doesn't stretch that far. He has eighty thousand men, and its nearly impossible to manage them.
He isn't sure any man alive could manage a million.
"But an attack from the air...with Dragonfire." He shakes his head, looking at her interested face. "Aegon Targaryen changed the rules. 'As I've done. As your brother is doing, winning every battle that's come his way.' That's why every child alive still knows his name, 300 years after his death."
"Aaegon and his sisters."
He pauses in his drink. "Hmm?"
"It wasn't just Aegon. It was Rhaenys and Visenya too."
He's not used to being corrected. But she is right. He smiles again. "Correct." He complements. "A student of history are you?"
She smiles, and looks off at some part of the wall. "Rhaenys rode Meraxes." She says. "Visenya rode Rhaeghal."
He takes a breath through his nostrils, settling in his seat. "I'm sure I knew that when I was a boy."
"Visenya Targaryen was a great warrior." She continues, and there's that look all children have. When they speak of their idols. "She had a Valyrian steel sword called "Dark Sister."
He nods, chuckling somewhere in his throat. "She's a Heroine of yours I take it. Most girls are interested in the pretty maidens from the songs."
"Most girls are idiots." She shoots back so quickly and so assured that he finds himself letting loose a single bark of laughter.
"You remind me of my daughter." Some of the better things at any rate. "Where did you learn all this about Visenya and her Valerian steel sword."
"My father." She answers, and he wonders again if its a whole truth. That Ned Stark did sit down with his children to teach them in Winterfell.
By the fond recall in her eyes, he judges it to be so.
He nods. "He was a well read stone mason. Can't say I've ever met a literate stonemason."
She turns to him, and there's a moment of impetuousness in her face as she speaks in an all too innocent tone. "Have you met many Stonemasons my lord?"
He raises his eyebrow, feels his smile get a little wider. Its been too long since anyone has gotten cheeky with him. "Careful now girl. I enjoy your wit. But careful."
"Take that back to the kitchen. Eat what you want."
She gets up to leave, taking the mutton with her.
She stops, and looks to him.
His smile turns just the faintest bit predatory. "Milord."
She stares at him. He explains.
"Lowborn girls say, 'Milord' not My lord."
She freezes, and there's that fear again. He sees it like a flash. She masters it quickly.
"If you're going to pose as a commoner you might as well do it right."
She straightens, squares her shoulders, and if he didn't know he never would see the lie on her face. "My mother served lady Dustin for many years, My lord. She taught me to speak proper."
She 'catches' herself. "Properly!"
He smiles, narrowing his eyes just a bit. "You are far too clever for your own good. Has anyone told you that?"
She smiles. "Yes."
"Go on." She turns, and he sees the sag of relief in her shoulders. She's good but she still has a few things to learn.
And its only long after he's mounted his horse, Lance, ready to ride through the night to reach King's landing, after warning the rabid dog that is Clegane that no harm must come to the girl in one of his fits, that he finds himself waiting infront of the doors to the throne room, a note in hand as he reads a report, eight men found dead at their posts, his cupbearer missing, along with the Blacksmith boy and the cookboy that Tywin Lannister finds himself smiling.
He had dismissed the thought that the girl had something to do with Ser Amory's death, she was clever, but that had been a profesional, well trained assassin, and her only friends were a cookboy and a Blacksmith as big as Robert Baratheon in his youth.
He handed the missive back to the grand Maester as the doors opened, trotting through the doorway and through the crowd on Lance's back.
If the girl could hide an agent like that, maybe it was him that had more to learn.
And he wonders, as he accepts Joffrey's naming him King's hand, on what the future will bring.
He's having trouble with Robb Stark, more than he'd like truth be told. But he cant help his curiosity, wondering what will happen if he should slay Stark, now that his two younger brothers are missing and the lady Sansa is their prisoner.
Will a smart girl, who dresses like a boy, can bear cups like any squire, can lie better than either Varys or Baelish and has a mind for reading and history, appear years from now? North? In Winterfell?
Will she strap a sword to her side of normal steel? Or Valyrian Steel? Will she call in her Banners and march south? Will she declare herself queen and ride into battle on the back of a Giant Direwolf?
Tywin Lannister half wishes for such a thing to happen, half dreads it, because if it should then she can rightly call him a liar.
Because should that happen, and should he live to see it the war of five kings will not be his last war after all.
There were alot of things I liked in Season 2. Alot of things I didn't like.
First, things I liked.
If it wasn't obvious already the Tywin Arya scenes were a highlight for me. Whenever they showed up I always leaned a little closer to the screen. The portrayal of Tywin from the books is a bit different but I like the Tywin of the TV series more, I can level with the guy.
Next thing I like, the actress chosen for Brienne. She definitely fits the description phisically, she's just as awkward and naieve as portrayed in the books. Long and short, she fits the role to a bloody T
The Actress for Ygritte is another great performance.
And Davos Oh god, Davos Seaworth. I didn't think one of my favorite characters could get any more bad ass but there it was.
Robb Starks new love interest. Much more interesting than Jeyne Westerling I think
Shae's new role that's closer to Sansa Stark than the book, definitely something that was handled well.
Now, things I didn't like.
Asha Greyjoy's actress and portrayal. Asha has always been portrayed as loud, boisterous, proud and unafraid to make a scene. But in the TV series the actress, who works on the sun baked surface of a ship all day is paler than Jon Snow up north of the wall, she doesn't look like a seafarer at all and she's colder than Tywin Lannister (book version) Asha raged at Theon and didn't give two shits who heard her when she arrived at Winterfell, she didn't sit at the long table with her feet propped up and glare at him while speaking with the emotional level of a porcelain teacup.
Melisandre's actress, I really get the idea. She's a priestess, preaching a new religion, you have to give her a bit of zeal. But it seems like the actress and the script are trying a little TOO hard for my tastes.
Stannis. I get it, Stannis is a difficult actor to portray anything even remotely resembling human emotion. One can only read the "grinding of teeth" in the book before realising that's his true expression, and last I checked it was difficult to show that on TV. But still, if you're gonna have such a limited role like that, you might as well put an actor that can at least deliver a strong physical presence when you have such limitations. Which I don't believe his actor has.
Anyway, I wrote up this oneshot because Tywin's portrayal in Season 2 and his interaction with Arya is freakin brilliant, and I really did get the impression that Tywin knew who she was there. So here's my interpretation.