Her eyes stared ahead blankly and she took in the news. There was no expression on her face and the only sign of life was her racing heartbeat. Cercei's cold eyes watched her with little concern before she continued, with a twist of the lips that would have been a smile on any other face. "Are you not excited, little dove? We are to be sisters, you and I, tied together forever."

The words sounded in her ears and she blinked dully. It had been foolish to allow herself to feel, to hope. The Lannisters would never relinquish their hold on her.

After several seconds she forced herself to speak. It was an emotionless, dull voice that responded. "I find I am just surprised, My Lady. Of course I am happy to be so joined to the Lannisters in such a lasting way."

Sansa stared at Cercei, barely listening to the words that flowed from her, like poison from a vial. The only control she had any longer was the control she had over her emotions. She would not allow any Lannister to ever see what she felt, to have that advantage over her. She would control every emotion and play any role she needed to. She would hide the hatred, nurse it inside of her and allow it to grow until it consumed all. And she would not allow herself to feel. She would become cold hard stone and survive

"I do imagine you have much to think about. I'm sure we can talk of wedding plans later, when you have become accustomed to the idea."

Though she craved to be left alone, she would not allow Cercei to grant her anything, to let her think she could not handle herself in any situation. She smiled evenly, her eyes as cold as her rival's. "I find I am already overjoyed at the idea. As I long to be bound to Jaime as soon as possible, I would talk of plans now so as to speed the process."

Cercei inclined her head, taking the change in Sansa in stride. She had expected the girl to weep or withdraw into herself. The girl had not been one to play any games thus far except that of survival. She found herself wondering if she now planned to become an active player. The thought didn't bother Cercei. She had been playing all her life and had no qualms with adding another opponent to the board.

"I'll be damned before I marry the little chit." Jaime Lannister's fist collided with the table, causing ale to spill across it. A malformed dwarf smiled at him in amusement, leaning back into his chair to better survey his golden brother.

"In my assessment you're already quite damned, dear brother." Quipped the dwarf cheerfully.

"I've no time for your jokes, Tyrion. I come home after many trials and am immediately thrown into a new hell." Jaime glared, pacing back and forth. "Dammit, Tyrion, I've no time for a wife! Especially not a ridiculous thing such as that slip of a girl."

Tyrion raised a brow, "Have you laid eyes on the Lady Sansa since you were last here? She has much changed from the small, silly girl you knew."

"I don't care!" Jaime roared. "How is this even a possibility? It is a ridiculous situation. It is an insult to the honor of the Kingsguard to allow me to marry. No king should be able to release a man from such a sacred vow."

Tyrion snorted loudly and ignored the look his brother shot him. "Honestly, Jaime. You have to admit it's laughable for you to use that excuse. Our wonderful sister and father will have their way and you shall marry the Stark girl whether or not you have the inclination. You may as well reconcile yourself to the idea and make the best. It's really not such a poor bargain. It's not as though you were planning to take a different wife and the Stark girl is rather pretty. I doubt it will be such a hardship to you to attend to any husbandly duties that are required of you." He drank deeply and then continued, "Is there any real reason you object so strongly?"

Jaime stared at him, silently cursing him. His logic was infallible and Jaime could already see he was being unreasonable. His mind flashed back to that meeting, the four Lannister's gathered around the table in the firelight.

He remembered his father's voice, his tone and manner as though he was discussing the weather as he explained how his oldest son's life would change. He didn't ask, he commanded.

It burned him how he had waited for Cercei to object, to defend him. But she had watched him silently her expression calm and almost amused. Jaime had argued weakly then, insisting he had taken a vow, that Tyrion was better suited to marriage.

Tywin had laughed in his face, brushing aside his feeble protestations as he would the tears of a woman. "Tyrion could never be accepted by the people in the North. A strong, respectable man is needed. Joffrey has already agreed to let out of your obligation to the Kingsguard. If we are to maintain control we cannot allow the Tyrells to gain more power. I will hear no more discussion of this. You will do what is necessary and marry the Stark girl. Now leave me, you're giving me a headache."

The humiliation rang in his mind and he pounded the table again, anger welling. "I do not enjoy having my life dictated for me." Jaime growled.

Tyrion surveyed him. "I understand this is not an easy situation. However, I have given you the best counsel I am able. Make the best out of the situation and keep an open mind."

Jaime nodded swiftly, and said as gratefully as possible, "Your advice is well received, brother. I find that I grow weary. I will retire to my chambers and think upon the situation further."

He bade his brother a civil goodnight and walked to his room, pushing the door open harshly. He found her there, waiting in his bed. She glanced at him briefly before sipping from her wine cup. His face tightened and he strode to her. "I do not have the patience tonight."

A smile curved her lips and the wine only made her lips redder. "You wish for me to go?"

He started to take off his boots and glared at her sharply. "I merely wish for no more games!"

Cercei sat up, the smile leaving her lips. "This is the best option for us, Jaime. I have worked too long to have the Lannister's position threatened! This arrangement will not harm our relationship. You will be able to stay in the castle and will only have to bed the girl a few times to make sure she carries your seed." She caught his chin as he looked away from her. Her hand stroked his cheek and all resolve he had melted. "Look at me, Jaime. You must do this for us."

He stared into her eyes and nodded after a moment's hesitation. The smile returned to her lips and he claimed them with his own, pushing her back onto his bed; sinking into oblivion with her.