Fool's Gold

AU: I'm not sure where I'm headed with this. Probably a series of short interwoven scenes spanning several years. Cersei marries Eddard stark. War happens, anyway. That's the basic idea.

"They said you might have been king and are a fool to have refused a crown," she said, making him frown.

He'd looked at her all evening with that dismissive glance, as if she were a displeasing dish someone had brought to the table and set at his side. Well, she'd had enough of Eddard Stark and his barbed politeness. He'd better learn that this lion had claws.

"They said you might have been queen," replied Eddard Stark.

Cersei glanced in Robert Baratheon's direction. The man was half-drunk already and did not seem interested in slowing down. Next to him, rigid as a board, sat that skinny little ninny of Catelyn Tully, his queen.

She can have him, she thought. Cersei would never have believed it before, but after the war and her brother's death all she wanted was silence. A silence which she was being denied, forced to attend this idiotic wedding.

How quickly they forget the prices that were paid, she thought and sipped her wine.

"When I was a child, a crone once said I'd be queen one day and all my happiness…" Cersei said.

Queen you shall be... Five children you shall have. All in shrouds.

"I'm glad it won't come to pass," she muttered.

Eddard Stark looked at her curiously and she realized she had spoken out loud. Perhaps Robert had not been the only one who'd had a little too much wine. Cersei frowned and clasped her cup.

"Your father shall make another match for you," Eddard said, his voice kind.

"As soon as he can he shall have me shed my mourning clothes and parade me around court."

Cersei had refused to wear anything other than her simple mourning dress which would clash with all the colors on display at the wedding feast. But even when her father bared his teeth and whispered sharp words to her, she refused to change. It would not last, though. She'd made a futile stand.

"They say they might marry me to Jon Arryn ," Cersei muttered, downing her cup. "He's old enough to be my father."

Yes, she was drunk. No matter. She wanted to be drunk. The joy of the other people around her irritated her. The only person she could half-stand in this state was Eddard Stark. At least he kept his mouth mercifully shut unlike some of the other noblemen who talked and talked and said nothing of importance. If only he wouldn't stare at Cersei with those dour eyes of his, as if he were unmercifully dissecting her. Other men might stare in awe or lust at Cersei Lannister, but Eddard Stark just stared.

"He is a good man," Eddard said, gently.

He pities me, she thought, narrowing her eyes and measuring his expression. It made her want to splash her wine in his face because nobody pitied her. When she looked down she remembered that her cup was empty. Cersei blinked twice and rose from her seat. She caught a glimpse of her father across the room, starring at her.

They had brought a pie into the room. The bride and groom were about to cut into it, large knife in hand. A hundred birds would fly out of it for the merriment of the drunken revelers. She did not want to see it. She pictured the birds pecking at Jamie's eyes and she felt like retching.

Cersei walked out of the room as quickly as she could, rushing down a dark hallway and then down the stairs. She did not know where she was headed. Only that she wished to be away from all the brightness and the music.

Cersei had almost reached the bottom of the stairs when she slipped and fell. She sat on the floor and thought she might weep.

She felt a hand on her arm, aiding her up.

"Are you hurt?" Eddard asked.

He'd followed her. Of course he had. It was the honourable thing to do. One must aid the maiden in peril.

She didn't want to be saved.

"I am fine," Cersei said straightening up.

She glanced at him, irritated but oddly grateful for his presence. With him there, she would not cry. It was good not to cry. Her eyes were raw from the tears.

"I shall escort you to your rooms," he said.

"I shall need no escort," she hissed.

Cersei walked back by herself, unwilling to lean on the arm of any man. However, she did notice he followed her, walking only a few paces behind.