Stepping out onto the battlements of the Red Keep, Cersei Lannister, Queen Regent and mother to Joffrey Baratheon, king of Westeros, drank in the the fresh heady scent of the autumn breeze. Gazing at the sprawling buildings of Kings Landing spread out in all directions at her feet, she reveled again at how far she had come, how much she had gained, over the past year.
No. Not just the past year. Cersei's tireless efforts had spanned over a decade. She had fought for this success through sheer will and determination.
She had earned it for her beloved soulmate, Jaime, for her cherished son, Joffrey, but, most of all, for her father, Tywin Lannister. She had made all of his ambitious dreams come true.
Cersei, the first born, the should-have-been heir, had achieved what no other member of her family had done.
And one day Father would acknowledge her brilliance. He would finally admire the years of strategy and cunning that had brought House Lannister to the pinnacle of power.
She was a lion.
More of a lion than her twin, Jaime, the secret father of her children. Give Jaime a sword and a suit of armor - and his sister - and he was quite content. He had no interest in the machinations of intrigue.
More of a lion than her despised brother, Tyrion, the abomination who, by his birth, had murdered their mother, Joanna, turning Tywin's heart to stone.
Yet, after all Cersei had done, her father had still sent Tyrion to to act as Hand of the King. Father had deployed the son he loathed to her Court, Joffrey's Court, to curtail her authority over her son.
It was another cruel, humiliating slap in the face from the father Cersei both feared and adored. Tywin had never considered his oldest child to be more than a chess piece to be moved and manipulated at his pleasure. He had used her as a beautiful puppet, marrying her off to Robert Baratheon in order to seal a great family alliance with the ruling family, with no thought of his child's happiness.
From the viewpoint of family advancement, Cersei could appreciate her father's actions, and so she had accepted, planned and endured. She had suffered Robert's physical abuse, his womanizing, his drunkedness, and his occasional obscene groping.
And it had all paid off.
Cersei had achieved her goal, and her revenge.
A Lannister of pure blood now sat on the Iron Throne, and Cersei alone was responsible - not Jaime, not Tywin, and certainly not Tyrion.
She was the true lion, and one day Father would recognize her abilities.
Ambition scorched through Cercei's blood like intoxicating wine, coupled with, and inextricably entwined with her love for her children, for Jaime, and for Father. Ambition fueled her every action.
Only briefly, in her weaker moments, did Cersei ponder what her life might have been like had she married Prince Rhaegor Targaryen. She had loved him once, or thought she had. If they had wed, would she have put Jaime aside in order to ensure that her children were both lion and dragon?
But mad King Aerys had not deemed her good enough for his precious heir, and now he and all his family were destroyed. Only one frail remnant of that discredited House remained alive, far across the sea.
Impatiently, Cersei pushed thoughts of what might have been from her mind.
For the first time in her life, Cersei had power, and none would wrest it from her. After scheming, suffering, and clawing her way to put her son on the throne, she would not allow anyone to challenge her - or him.
She had proven herself more than worthy of her family name.
Cersei would make Father proud of her at last.
His true lion.