The ship with gray-green sails comes into Tarth bearing wine from its home port in the Reach, not Arbor gold but good stuff nonetheless, apple brandy, and dried Dornish plums picked up on the journey.
Joanna and the other children playing in the yard run down from Evenfall's hills to the harbor. Beric is eldest, and longest of limb, so he reaches the ship first. Joanna is a faster sprinter than Meggett, but the other girl is second to the docks, because Joanna slows her pace for little Willem. The children cluster by the gangplank, shouting welcomes. A red-bearded man calls at them to get out from underfoot, but an older sailor with a pockmarked face tosses them each a wrinkled plum from his bale.
Her mouth full of sweet mainland fruit, Joanna dangles her bare feet in the seawater. Next to her, Beric tries to coax the great orange minx of a ship's cat closer, using the end of his own discarded boot's cord as a toy. He gains a scratched hand for his trouble, and the cat gains a bootlace.
There's a man carrying a harp off of the ship—the First of the Roses, it's called, perhaps for Margaery Tyrell, who is lady of the Reach now—and he walks his way into their little seaside inn, rolling ever so slightly on his feet like one used to waves. A few of his fellow sailors trail behind, hauling wine casks.
Willem darts straight in through the door, boldest of them all for once; his grandfather owns the inn, and he knows no shyness there. The other two glance to Joanna—her own grandfather is Lord of Tarth, though she dresses this afternoon in a plain linen shift and breeches, and looks not much different from the rest. It might be unseemly for her to poke about in a tavern full of sailors, perhaps rowdy ones.
The men of the docks know her well enough, as they know her mother and grandfather before her, and as they begin to know her father. No one will harm her here, even in a pub, and besides, Joanna is too bold by half. The only man who might stop her from taking just a little peek inside is Lord Selwyn's steward, who is far too busy loading wine onto a mule cart to notice any barefoot girl in boys' clothes, even one with golden hair. They slip into the inn, underfoot and virtually unnoticed.
Men of the island and men of the oceans mingle together, crowding the narrow room's trestle tables. A cask of wine is already tapped, and mugs passed about. Copper coins both bright and dull change hands, and bowls of thick fish soup make the rounds as well. Willem's grandfather hauls a stool into place of pride for the harpist.
The man has but one eye, like their king at Storm's End; he wears no patch, his puckered flesh bare. The wound is ugly, but no uglier than the ragged scars on her mother's face or the stump where her father once had a right hand, and Joanna doesn't look away. His hair is long and dark, and he is shaggy-bearded like a Northman. When he sings, his voice is melodious enough, although she hears his fingers stumble on the chords sometimes.
The sailor bard sings pretty songs, of knights and fair maidens—the kind her mother likes, not the funny, bawdy ballads her father shouts out parts of sometimes, to make her mother blush and playfully cover the ears of whichever daughter is nearer to her at the time. Joanna is far too young to understand much of what is sung in those, but they make her laugh. She likes the hero-songs, too, and the love-songs.
The one-eyed man sings a broad range in tone, from sad sweet "Alysanne" to the rousing choruses of "The False and the Fair." His longest song tells of Rodrick Stark, King in the North many years before, who won an island full of bears in a wrestling match and gifted it to his bannerman big as a bear. Joanna has never heard this story, and does not know its name. She supposes the singer must be a Northman after all.
When the last notes of the song fade, the harpist looks up at Willem's grandfather.
"Would you have another?"
Edwyn turns to the youngest of the listeners—his grandson perched on his lap. The other children are clustered about nearby. Joanna sits cross-legged on the very edge of the last bench.
"Any requests from you, Will?"
The little boy shakes his head, shy of all the eyes on him. Beric is fidgeting already, no doubt preferring to chase cats rather than listen to music. Joanna and Meggett are themselves still spellbound by the old tales.
"My little lady? What do you think?"
Joanna starts, and then leans forward to speak.
"Sing a fighting song, please. Like the last."
In her time, she has not heard many war-songs. Her parents have made certain of that.
The harpist laughs.
"Rather fierce for a lady, aren't you? And in breeches, too."
"She's his lordship's granddaughter, and her mother's as fine a warrior as any man," Beric pipes up proudly.
The singer's grin fades, and his one eye narrows.
"Aye, and her father's a traitor and an oathbreaker."
Joanna almost falls off her bench in shock.
She's heard whispers—island peoples mistrust strangers, particularly ones who fought the wrong side in recent wars. But her father has spent years on Tarth now, married their fierce maiden lady and given her strong children, and the whispering has mainly ceased. She has never heard someone speak so loud and clear and angry against him.
Several of the men shout out in indignation, too, although others look indifferent. Old Edwyn straightens his back as if riding into battle.
"I'd guard your tongue, were I you. Ser Jaime's been pardoned by our king, and the Lady of Winterfell besides, Northman. And you'd best not speak of this before the child."
"But not pardoned by Robb Stark, nor Robert Baratheon. The dead don't speak through their brothers and sisters."
"A good thing they don't, either," calls another man. He is of Tarth, no sailor, but not one Joanna knows. "Else Queen Cersei would have choice words for all of us."
Several people laugh, but not Edwyn, nor the singer.
"I fought with the King in the North in the Whispering Wood, and one of your Jaime's soldiers carved my eye out. It were Lannister men that hacked off Robb Stark's head after they'd shared bread with him, though they wore different colors. Paid with Lannister gold, much good it did them."
His hands grip at the harp as if it was a war-axe, and he stares straight at Joanna. The angry look in his one good eye frightens her, but she stares back.
"You asked for a fighting song, little lion? Should I play 'The Rains of Castamere'?"
At this, half the pub erupts. There's shouting all around, and some peals of laughter. Fat Branmure the chandler pounds his mug on the table, wine splashing out red as blood. Willem slips off his grandsire's lap and under the table. Joanna leaps to her feet, angry and scared.
Edwyn stands as well, as tall and proud as a slim innkeeper could be.
"You'd best get out of here, if you don't want trouble. Go back to your ship."
"I wouldn't have expected such loyalty to the Kingslayer."
"Out of my inn, or I'll throw you out."
He leaves. Several of the sailors go with him. The red-bearded one stays, pouring himself another cup of wine. The roar of chatter dies down, and Willem find it safe enough to poke his head up onto the bench.
Suddenly, Joanna is aware that her eyes are full of tears. She wipes hastily at them.
Knights don't cry. Or ladies, for that matter. No matter which you'll be. Only children cry.
Still, when she opens her mouth her voice comes plaintive and young.
"What did he mean? What's 'The Rains of Castamere'?"
Edwyn sighs, a heavy gasping sound. It is almost pained, like the noise her grandfather makes when his knees ache on cold nights. But Edwyn is younger by far, not much older than Joanna's own father, his hair still brown in parts, and he stands firm and straight. That sigh gives him the sound of a much older man.
"Go back to the hall, little lady. Ask your father, if you must know. It would be his place to tell you."
The hill she dashed down to see the ship with green-gray sails is long and lonely on the ascent. They're unpacking wine casks from the mule cart in the courtyard, and she slips by them easily, passing under the great stony arch of Evenfall's door.
A servant woman, Elara, her arms laden with fresh-pressed cloth, points Joanna to the library. She waits outside for a moment, a strange anxious feeling gnawing at her belly.
When the door creaks open, she is calmed for just a moment by the warm, dim, familiar room. Evenfall's library is small but well-kept; a round room, built into the hall's thick tower. Bookshelves are curved to fit the walls, and overstuffed with the knowledge of years. Most of the castle's rooms have wide windows, to look out on the sapphire seas, but the tower is of older make. Its windows are smaller, lending the room an air of muted tranquility.
Jaime sits at one of the reading tables, in a chair covered with red leather. The volume before him is old, vellum pages wrinkled, their illumination faded.
Her father is a slow study; Joanna reads far faster at eight than he will ever do. But his mind is older than and full of his own history, as well as that of others.
Her uncle Tyrion is the family scholar, he has always said. Jaime was the sword hand and the shield-wielder. Joanna still sees that in him, wild and energetic as a much younger man would be, and fiercely protective. He's thoughtful in turns, though, as full of stories as any bard from the North. Some of these stories he will not tell her.
Another day. When you're older.
To Joanna, he's been the same way forever. As if for the first time, she fully realizes that this was not always so, that her father was a young man and a boy before he was hers. The thought is almost frightening. If this was so, surely he could have turned traitor as well, once?
Deep in the pages of his book, Jaime does not notice her until she is close enough to lay her hand to his shoulder. He jumps slightly, then looks up at her, a laugh etching his lips.
"Joanna! You surprised me. Did you go to see the ship dock?"
"Your mother's gone to visit the captain. We must have news from the Reach as well as apples."
He points at the map within the book.
"Look at this, Joanna."
It's Tarth, she can see. The shape of the island is well-known to her—curved, with a head and tail to it, like some twisted cat. The island is detailed with tiny trees and flowers, multicolored inks faded with time. It was fine and delicate work when the ink was fresh.
"What's the meaning of the plants?"
"Marigold, yarrow, poppy…" he names each in turn, as his finger grazes the map.
"It's a herbalist's book!" Joanna realizes.
"That's right. Did the new ship bring anything but drink?"
"Dornish plums." Joanna hesitates. "And a singer."
He grins excitedly. "Wonderful. We'll have to track him down, somehow. Your mother would never let a new bard escape her."
"I…I don't think this bard would find himself welcome here."
Jaime raises his eyebrows, frowning slightly.
"And why might that be?"
"He doesn't like you."
"Ah. That would indeed pose a problem, wouldn't it?"
"He said ugly things about you."
Her father stiffens, then relaxes.
"Oh? How intriguing. What sort of ugly things?"
"He named you a traitor, and said even if King Stannis and Lady Sansa have pardoned you the dead can't. He said he fought for Robb Stark."
She waits, breathless, wondering if he'll be upset, or tell her it's a lie.
Instead, he laughs. It's not his happy, joyful laugh, the one he uses when japing with her mother or tossing her little sister over his head. This laugh is tinged bitter, but a laugh nonetheless.
"None of that's lies, Joanna, except the part about Stannis pardoning me. He let me keep my head, for which I must thank him. That's no pardon."
His face grows serious, and he gestures for her to sit. Joanna settles herself on a spindly bookkeeper's stool, crossing her legs.
"Joanna, many men still call me traitor for raising arms for my family instead of for Stannis. That is not like to change in my lifetime."
"Doesn't that bother you?"
"Of course it bothers me, but I've been called traitor since I was barely a man. I'm quite resigned to it by now."
"But the wars for the throne are done. And you and Mother fought the Others for Lady Sansa during the Long Night. Shouldn't that count for something?"
It isn't fair, Joanna thinks unhappily. Her father was a hero during the long winter, Lady Sansa told her, and she knows well herself, even if he doesn't like to talk about it. The old kings are dead and buried, with one exception, and their war is dead too. It shouldn't matter what side her father fought for.
Jaime smiles wryly. "For some people it counts quite a lot. Your mother, for instance. And without that Stannis would doubtless have taken my head, so that's something. But the wars for the throne left as many scars as the Long Night, and wounds caused by other men are slow to heal."
Joanna thinks she understands his meaning, much as it angers her to accept it, but she has another question now.
"The singer said he ought to play me 'The Rains of Castamere,' when I asked for a fighting song. What is that?"
Her father flinches. "It's a song I've not heard in years."
"How does it go?"
"I suppose I'll sing it for you, shall I?"
She leans forward, curious yet slightly frightened. "Yes. Sing it, please."
Jaime taps out the rhythm on his upper thigh, the sounds soft and muted. He hums a few bars, and then begins to sing. It's a false start, and his voice falters, but soon it grows stronger and louder.
This song is not one to bring soldiers to war by. It doesn't grip at her heart with tight grasping fingers and soar on for blood and glory like some she's heard. It's slow and soft, and the words make no sense, but ring full of foreboding.
When her father's voice trails off, there's a ringing silence.
"What does it mean?" Joanna whispers.
"It's a song my father's bannermen used to sing to warn their enemies. During the wars, and before that. It served to remind them of the dangers of facing a Lannister host. Someone penned it, I don't know who, after my father defeated the Reynes and the Tarbecks. This was when he was a young man, before I was born. Joanna, you know my family's sigil?"
"A golden lion. Like in the song."
"And the Reynes had a red lion for theirs. My grandfather was their overlord, but he was weak-handed, so they rose up in defiance. My father, Lord Tywin, your grandfather, rode to war against them, and…defeated them soundly. After the fighting was done, he burned the seats of their houses. The Reynes' hall was called Castamere, and from there the song takes its name."
Joanna knows little of her grandfather but that he was a fierce general and that he ruled the kingdom while madmen sat the old throne. She knows next to nothing about what he was like as a man, except that her father was afraid of him.
Your grandfather was a great man, but not a good one, her mother told her once. Her other grandfather, Lord Selwyn, is the other way around. He is a capable lord, and the people of Tarth give him their love as well as their loyalty, but he is humble rather than great. He has never raised a ruthless army, or burned enemies' halls. But he is kind to her and her sister, and Joanna is not sure her father's father would be the same.
"So the lord in the song is a Reyne? And it's Lord Tywin he's speaking to? He's saying, I shouldn't bow to you, we're both lions?"
"Yes. And at the end, my father wins the battle and the Reynes are lost. Their family is destroyed 'Not a soul to hear.'"
"It often proved most useful before a battle, the threat of obliteration, the knowledge that we would prevail and destroy all who stood before us. Many would-be rebels chose to go over instead. And that is why your bard would have you hear the song. Because I and my father before me used it as a weapon, and it's useless now. A song written to bring fear that drums up only hate. Some northern soldier turned singer would have you know your family history. The almighty power of House Lannister."
His voice is sardonic, and his smile cuts, but it is directed at dead men, not at a living girl.
"What a fitting end it is, really. My father valued the family legacy more than his children, and we dragged his beloved house down with us. Here we are, Tyrion in Essos and your sister Myrcella in Dorne and me on this humble little island, of all places, and a few others still left. Almost as scattered as the Reynes themselves. Not that he'd appreciate the irony."
"But you're not dead," Joanna says stubbornly. This strange, bitter way of talking worries her. "I'm not either. I'm half a Lannister, anyhow. There are still lions."
Jaime laughs out loud at that.
"I'm not entirely sure that's something to be proud of."
"If you're a lion it is."
She had expected that to bring a smile, but it does not. He looks at her and nods solemnly.
"Come here, Joanna."
He opens his arms, and she scrambles off of her stool and onto his lap. She's tall for her age, and long of limb, and perhaps in a few years she won't be able to fit. But for now her legs fold up against his with only a little effort. He tucks his head down on top of hers, the roughness of his short-cropped beard scratching at her hair. She leans against his chest, and listens to the beat of his heart.