A/N: In the same universe as A Lion Still Has Claws, but earlier chronologically.
"We ought to think about having a sword forged," Jaime announces, completely out of the blue, after the two of them finish sparring one afternoon.
They're both sweaty from the exertion, and muddy from when he somehow managed to bowl her over in the dirt of Evenfall's training yard. Brienne kneels by their tub to draw a bath, sliding the water gate open and allowing cool, slightly salty water to flow out. Evenfall is built upon a hill, and these pipes allow water to flow into the bathhouse rooms from underground springs above. The smooth water laps gently over her calloused hands.
She looks over at him, leaning with his back against the wall, one leg hooked over the other. Next to him, a window gapes open, looking out on the cobbled pavilion in front of the hall. A faint breeze tugs at his curly hair, cropped just a bit longer than her own. The gold is shot through with dark gray now, gathering at his temples and threading its way outwards.
Brienne stands, letting the bathwater continue to run, and crosses the washroom floor. It is a small chamber, and only a few paces takes her to his side.
"What do you need another sword for?"
He laughs, the sound low and coarse deep in his throat.
"Not for me. For Joanna. She ought to have a sword now that she's to begin training."
Their older daughter's sixth name day falls at the new moon, and they decided years before that she would have her lessons, both from her parents and from Evenfall's master-at-arms, at that age.
Brienne frowns, considering.
"You'd have a sword made for a child that young? She's sure to grow out of it in a few years' time, and she won't train with anything but wood for a while yet."
"I had a sword made at six, when I started training."
The master-at-arms when Brienne was a girl had only grudgingly started to train her in the first place. When she had shown natural talent, Ser Allard had become much more willing to teach, but she had still not been allowed to touch a proper steel sword for years, and had not had her own made until she was ten-and-two. Obviously, it had been very different for the lord of Casterly Rock's son and heir.
Brienne looks at him, raising an eyebrow.
"And did you fight with a steel sword then?"
He smirks. The expression is familiar in a way that is both obnoxious and endearing.
"A fair bit, actually, right after it was given to me. Not that I was supposed to—I mostly just swung it about like a mad axe-man. After I almost hacked a chair leg off, it got put on display in my chambers, but I wasn't allowed to hold it again for a while yet. It's the principle of the matter, anyway. My father would never have dreamed of allowing my lessons without a fancy sword to go with them."
Brienne briefly envisions a very small version of Jaime, all angelic curls and devilish smiles, with a tiny, ornately decorated and horrifically costly sword. Rubies and little golden lions' heads, of course—in some ways, Lannisters are nothing if not predictable.
Jaime's expression is half a smile, half a grimace, both strained and wistful at the same time.
"I wonder what happened to that sword? I haven't seen it since I left the Rock to be a squire, and I outgrew it long before that. I was much more excited about starting to learn fighting than getting a bloody piece of sharpened jewelry, anyway. My father had earrings and a necklace made for Cersei when I got my sword, fine work but miniature. Gold and pearls. She didn't speak to either of us for nearly a week. She wanted to fight, too."
Years ago, Jaime rarely spoke of his sister, and when he did, the words came in great, angry gushes. Now, he will mention her occasionally, his tone sometimes casual, sometimes tense. Cersei slips in and out of their conversation, her memory lingering in the hidden corners of her twin's mind, like the feeling of his ghost fingers. Though both may fade in time, neither will ever disappear.
He thinks of Cersei in three ways, Brienne has noticed, although they all tie up in each other. She was his sister first, and his sister she will remain forever. The little girl who would rather have had wielded a sword than draped herself in jewels, that is the first part that makes up Cersei. Second, she was his lover, the mother of his children, golden and beautiful and glorious. That part of her is still with him too, however hard he tried to bury it. Eventually, he stops trying, and moves on. He loves Brienne no less for the memory of Cersei, but he loved her all the same, before. The third part of her is dark, terrible, fiery, a Mad Queen who he could never really slay. As long as he lives, he carries her with him—sister, lover, enemy, hated and loved in equal measure.
Brienne is not jealous of Cersei. She is dead now, and Brienne is alive. That time is gone, and she would not take the memories of it from Jaime any more than she would take a piece of his soul.
So the past stretches out behind them, a tangled, twisted web, until Jaime cuts the threads and breaks the spell with a word. They return to today, looking forward to the future.
"Joanna needn't have some gaudy ornamental thing, anyway. A plain steel short sword with a simple hilt should suffice. She'll practice with wood, but it'll give her a treasure of her own to be responsible for."
Brienne laughs. In her ears, it sounds fresh and welcome in the wake of old memories.
"As you were responsible for your treasure, Jaime? More likely she'll cut the legs off half the chairs in Evenfall."
Jaime smiles. Bright as it is, there's still a hint of bitterness there.
"I had too many treasures to be responsible for any of them. A good sword will suit her fine."
"All right, all right. We'll have one forged. You win. I can't prevail over the great tradition of giving sharp objects to small children."
"You had no objection with giving her a blunt wooden stick and encouraging her to beat at her poor crippled father," he teases.
"If your six-year-old daughter can defeat you with a mere practice sword, either you've finally gotten as old as you complain, or we're raising the next Dragonknight."
"Well, if she takes after her mother, then I suppose I've got a few good years of training our Dragonknight left in me."
She rolls her eyes, smiling.
"Flattery will get you nowhere."
"On the contrary, it already has."
Driving himself away from the wall with his elbows, Jaime tilts his head upwards, his lips brushing hers.
"Shall we proceed to our bath, my lady?" His voice is smug.
"Oh, do shut up, Jaime," she says, and kisses him again.