Chapter 1- Red and Gold
Tyrion Lannister held his head in his hands, his fingers clawing at his hair in an attempt to drown out the screams he could hear from his wife's room. Each squeal of pain from his young wife made Tyrion shoot towards the door as fast as his legs could carry him, and each time, he was told firmly by a midwife that under no circumstances was he to bother his wife during labour.
He sighed heavily as his head dropped down into his hands again, as he regarded the slightly dirty floors of the town healer's rooms. Most Lannisters would have been born amid great pomp and celebration, birthed in one of the stately rooms of Casterly Rock with two dozen attendants ready and waiting to help both mother and child. Instead, his child would be born in secret, in a pokey little hut that had once been a barn, located on the outskirts of Lannisport.
Another scream rang out overhead, causing him to grit his teeth in frustration. He had married his wife, a cobbler's daughter by the name of Tysha, a little over eight months ago, in secret, in the dead of the night. A small, sad smile graced Tyrion's face as he thought of his wife. To him she was the most beautiful thing he had ever laid eyes on (though Jaime would disagree and say that their sister deserved that title). He had met her, fallen in love and bedded her, all within one night, and within three months they had been happily married. They had managed to keep their relationship secret from his father and sister, but his brother had found out almost immediately. He never could keep a secret from Jaime.
Tyrion blanched as he thought of what his father would do if he found out that his youngest son, a mere boy of but ten-and-eight, was married to a commoner and had a child on the way. His father had never been a forgiving man, nor was he one to stand idly by when the family name was being dragged into disrepute. If his father found out, it would be likely that his wife would be sent far from Casterly Rock, never to see him again, while his child's life would be forfeit. Lord Tywin Lannister would not suffer a stain on the Lannister name for long.
His fingers curled around a mug of dark brown ale that had been pushed into his hands by one of the midwives who ran this small establishment. He downed the mug quickly, before gesturing a passing attendant for another.
From above, a long, piercing scream cut through the air, hanging there for many moments before slowly dying away, only to be replaced with the angry squalling that could only come from a baby. Tyrion bolted towards the door, almost knocking over the dumpy little woman who held another cup of beer out towards him.
A grin forced its way onto the Imp's face, as he hurriedly climbed the stairs to his wife's room.
'I'm a father!' He crowed happily to himself, a wide smile lighting up his face.
Tywin Lannister regarded the small hut with an expression akin to disdain as he slipped off his horse smoothly, tossing his reins to one of the Lannister guards he had brought with him. He moved quickly across the open street, hurrying towards the small house. A pair of heavily armoured guards followed him into the house, their hands on their swords, ready to draw at any moment.
Tywin stood patiently as he waited for his guards to clear the first floor of the house. It was a necessary precaution, one of many that had seen him survive and thrive as the Warden of the West. He paused until the captain of his guards told him that the house was clear. With a grunt of acknowledgement, he started to climb up the stairs, the tips of his fingers resting warily on the pommel of the hunting knife that sat comfortably at his waist. It would not do to be caught unaware in such a place.
He reached the top of the stairwell quickly, where he paused once more. His hand rested on the warm, old wood of the door, behind which his youngest son had hidden away. He had been absolutely furious when a young Septon had come to him, not more than a few hours ago, telling him that one of his lions had wed some baseborn wench from the slums of Lannisport. Under normal circumstances, Tywin would have been glad to disinherit Tyrion, casting him out of the Lannister family, but unfortunately, thanks to the late King Aerys, the little runt remained the Heir to Casterly Rock. With Jaime as a member of the Kingsguard, and since Cersei was Queen of Westeros, he had no other option for an heir of his own blood.
He took a breath, steeling himself, clearing his face of all expression before walking in. This would not be an easy task for Tywin to accomplish. It wasn't that he cared for his young son; in fact he regarded his dwarf son with nothing but contempt, but educating Tyrion without falling afoul of his own anger, which would inevitably lead to rash actions on his own part, would be difficult. With a sharp push from one shoulder, the door slammed open, shocking Tywin with the scene that he found.
There was blood everywhere.
'I've seen this before.'
That was the first thought that ran through Tywin's mind.
The room looked like a battlefield. The once crisp white sheets were dyed a deep, foreboding scarlet colour. The blood bucket, which had evidently held the medical tools that the midwives had used on his son's wife, had tipped over, letting a foul smelling mixture of blood and water spread slowly across the slick stone floor.
On the bed lay Tyrion's wife. The girl, who looked to be no older than about ten-and-six years old, was a pale shade of a person by this point. All colour had left her skin, her face had a tired, sunken look to it as unseeing eyes stared up at Tywin hauntingly. He knew that if he were to reach out and touch her hand, she would be cold and clammy to the touch.
She looked just like Joanna had done.
Sitting by the side of the bed, his arms folded protectively under a shifting bundle of cloth, was his wayward youngest son. Tywin's heart clenched in sympathy for just a moment when he saw his son's tear streaked face. He knew exactly just what he was feeling, having gone through the same ordeal just over ten-and-eight years ago. He almost laughed at the absurdity of it all. Tyrion killed his mother on the way out of the womb, and now it appeared that his son had done the same thing to his wife.
Walking over to his son's side, he placed a hand on Tyrion's shoulder, squeezing once before letting his arm drop. It may not have seemed like much, but it was more affection than Tyrion had ever seen from his father in his life.
Poking out from the bundle of white cloth, Tywin could see a small tuft of black hair, the same colour as that of the girl who lay prone on the bed.
"Hand the child to me." He ordered in a harsh whisper.
Tyrion's head flew up, his eyes hardening into a defiant glare. "Why? What do you want with him?"
Tywin's eyes narrowed hatefully. "He will go and join his mother's father, wherever he may be. You will never see him again, you will never speak to him again, and you will be damned grateful that I left him alive, do you understand?" As he spoke, his voice had risen from a cold whisper to a punitive roar, as his displeasure made itself known.
Tywin carried on with his tirade, his fury giving no indication of winding down. "I will not have some… bastard lay claim to the Lannister name! No, he will be taken far away from the Rock or I will see to it that does not live to see his first name-day."
Tyrion's ire was roused at his father's words. "He is no bastard! Tysha and I were wed in the eyes of the Seven, making him a proper Lannister. As much by blood as by name."
Tywin could see cold fury roil in his son's wet eyes, as each levelled a deathly glare at the other.
"Do you wish to be called kin-slayer so badly, father?"
Tywin was smart. He was exceptionally smart, but in that instant he knew that his son had outplayed him. His mind raced as he thought of another place for the little baby in his son's arms.
"If you will not forgo the child, I will have him raised by the Clegane's instead of by his own grandfather."
"The Mountain? I would sooner have my son killed than have him grow up with such a man!" They both knew that Tywin was grasping at straw now, that he had been outmanoeuvred by his own son.
"That can be arranged." Tywin hissed with false venom.
Tyrion took a step back from his father, his face contorted into an expression of fear and shock.
"Look at him, father." He implored, shifting the bundle of cloth so he could see his grandson. Fierce emerald eyes stared back at Tywin, devoid of any fear. The baby's eyes were uncharacteristically cold compared to the screaming, squalling bundles that had been his own children. The little boy didn't cry or even sound a protest when Tywin lifted him away from his father, holding him up to the light.
Tywin inspected him carefully, checking for any signs of the deformation that had stunted Tyrion and left him as the Imp of the Rock. To his relief, he found no indication that his son's affliction had passed down to the little baby. The baby's head was covered with patchy tufts of black hair, but it was his Lannister green eyes, flecked with just that smallest hint of gold, just as Tywin's own eyes were, that really stood out. "He is a Lannister by blood. Look at my little lion cub, father, and tell me that he would not be a great addition to the family."
Tywin could feel his resistance to his son's words slowly chip away as he stared at the little green-eyed boy.
"Very well." He sighed. "I shall concede."
A small, sad smile spread across Tyrion's face.
"But," The smile vanished, "I have some conditions. Firstly, I shall raise the boy, not you. You shall have no hand in his education nor shall you act as his guardian. He is to be raised properly, and without your interference."
"Father!" He exclaimed.
"There will be no negotiation! You've already weaselled too much out of me today. You are but ten-and-eight, you're far too young to raise a child to any measure of standards." He waited for Tyrion to tilt his head slightly in agreement.
"Second, and more importantly; you must renounce your claim to Casterly Rock, from now until the end of time." He paused for a second, before a crafty smile appeared on his face. "Should your son sufficiently impress me, once he is of age, I will consider making him the Heir to Casterly Rock."
'If he thinks he can become my heir through hard work alone, the boy will keep bettering himself until he becomes a worthy Lannister.'
"Done." Said Tyrion in a heartbeat. What was Casterly Rock to him, when compared with the love he felt for his own son?
"And finally, we must give him a name suitable for a Lannister lord. I won't let him be named something crass or base. He should be given a noble name."
"No. Absolutely not." Tyrion protested. "He already has a name. His mother… Tysha gave it to him before she… passed."
"Fine." Tywin agreed, not wishing to push such a fragile matter when he already had his son, and now his grandson, doing what he wanted them to do. "What is his name then?"
Tyrion smiled tiredly as the baby cooed and gurgled happily. "His name is Harry. Harry of the House Lannister."
Being born was an interesting experience for me.
Though in reality much time had passed, to me it felt as though I was a young man in one instant and, quite suddenly, a bawling baby in the next. I was never quite sure of the moment when I first became conscious of who I was, but I'm sure it was at some point shortly before my delivery into this world. What I remember of that day were the splashes of blood, the scratchy warm cotton of my swaddling cloth and the sense of confusion that surrounded my escape from one world and my entrance to another. As I got older, my new life became easier to distinguish from my old one, the muddled haze of my early months disappearing before I reached the age of two.
My childhood at Casterly Rock was dysfunctional to put it mildly. I spent my early life in partial isolation from my new family. I would be visited once a week by my grandfather who would sit with me for a few hours and would talk of history, family and learning. I'm not ashamed to say that I lived for these short sessions. They were my escape from the condescending world of my childhood. Grandfather refused to treat me as a spoiled babe; instead he spoke to me in the same way that he would speak to anyone else, of any age. Though this may have alienated him from the other children that he raised, it truly endeared him to me.
Many of my retainers said that I was far more intelligent than any boy my own age could naturally be and so the Maester's lessons, which took up most of my waking week, could not hold my interest for very long. Instead I spent much of my time perusing the libraries of Casterly Rock, reading much into the histories of the great and ancient Houses of Westeros.
Once a month, grandfather would bring my father to visit me for a short while.
I never really thought much of my second father; grandfather made sure to keep him away from me. We never met, nor did we speak without retainers and guards to keep our interactions brief. I wasn't all too sure what I thought of Tyrion; I had heard nothing but watered down tales of drinking and whoring about him from grandfather, but on the few occasions that I had spent time with the man, he had plied me with gifts and care, as if to buy my affections a few short hours at a time.
By the time I had learned to read and write in the words of the Common Tongue, grandfather's visits became ever more frequent. He must have seen something in me that he thought was worth his time, so he spent time nurturing the traits that he wanted to see. Despite grandfather's almost business like view of our family, I would like to think that he had come to care for me in his own way. He doted on me far more than on his other grandchildren but that may have been because I spent much more time with him, as I was the only grandchild to live in Casterly Rock.
My life continued much in this manner until I reached my eighth name-day.
On the day of the celebrations, the Greyjoy fleet sailed into Lannisport and burned the Lannister ships at anchor before setting forth into the city to pillage and rape. At the time, my grandfather and his younger brother were touring the Westerlands at the behest of King Robert, going from hall to hall as they prepared to call their bannermen for battle once more. My father had disappeared a few days ago, and since I was barred from seeking him out, I did not question his disappearance. Aunt and uncle remained in King's Landing as they had since last I had seen them, almost four months previous.
In short, I was the last Lannister remaining in our home.
For now, I was the Lion of the Rock.
"Get the little lord back in to bed! He has no place on the battlements; it's too dangerous."
I couldn't match the face of the man to a name, but I was angered enough that it didn't matter.
"Is your last name Lannister?" I hissed viciously, getting close to his face, which was no small feat as he was almost twice my size.
"N-no, little lord."
"Well then, you are here to serve my family, are you not?"
"Yes, little lord."
"Then do not presume to give me orders!" Maybe my temper was getting out of hand, but this bastard wasn't doing his job properly. "And the next time you call me 'little lord' will be the last time you have a tongue to speak with."
"Apologies, my lord." The man seemed actually contrite, and with my pride mollified, my anger swiftly abated.
"Archers!" I heard the call along the battlements of the Rock, and I saw lines of bowmen bedecked in red and gold, draw their bows from atop the walls.
"Hold your fire!" I roared, most likely in a more high-pitched tone than I would have liked. "There are people down there!"
"Peasants," I heard a man scoff. "Not people."
Cruelty I could deal with. Stupidity I could handle. But cruel fools would always be beyond my ability to handle. Those without both brains and morals were always the most dangerous of men.
"Congratulations Lord Lydden." I spoke quietly back at the man. "You have volunteered yourself to lead the next assault."
"You have no right!" His face had paled comically against the orange-red glow of our burning city.
"While my family is away, I am the Lion of the Rock. By blood and by law, I have every right to command you and every other man out there."
He grumbled but cowed quickly. My show of force had had its desired effect on the assembled soldiers. I was nine years of age; far too young to fight myself, but a mind honed by years of war does not dull just from nine years rest. I had led armies before, and was more than capable of doing so again.
"Take one-hundred men and use the ropes to rappel down the Rock. Skirt the water and set fire to the Greyjoy ships. They'll come running to meet you and we can break out and pin them between the sea and our swords." A blood thirsty grin was printed across my face, one that I had worn on many occasions back in the wizarding world.
"That's suicide, my lord!"
"Just move quietly and you'll be fine. The Iron men are arrogant bastards. They haven't bothered to set someone to watch their ships, so if we slip in behind them we can cut off their retreat." Ships at anchor would always be vulnerable to fire. The men of the Iron Islands had long since taken to the habit of slathering their boats in pitch and tar before a long voyage, just to make sure that the ships were watertight and seaworthy. It may have made their ships less likely to sink in a storm, but it made them far more vulnerable to fire attacks.
"I'm not worried about their retreat, my lord; I'm worried about their numbers."
"It's true that they outnumber us, but the Greyjoy's are fucking cowards. They'll panic, they'll flee and we'll cut them down as they run." My eyes were never still, darting this way and that as I took in the situation atop the wall. "Plus, we don't even have to defeat them. We just have to keep them back until those small folk that are clamouring at our walls can get inside the fortress."
Lord Lydden didn't look happy about it. "Yes my lord."
"And be quick about it! Every moment's loss means that more of our people our being massacred!"
The soldiers roared their assent, as the unhappy Lord Lydden scrambled to find his men.
"My lord, how will we know when we have to open the gates?"
"If you see the ocean begin to burn, then you know that they've been successful."
I stalked along the battlements, shouting encouragements at soldiers twice my age, telling them to hold firm and not to act.
Patience was never the warrior's virtue.
They would itch and strain to loose their arrows into the writhing crowd that screamed outside our gates, or to draw their swords and charge the gates, but I kept them in line with barked orders and not-so-subtle threats.
Below the soaring heights of our walls, the city of Lannisport was on fire. Raging flames ate away at the poorer areas that stood away from the docks, causing their inhabitants to flee towards the safety of Casterly Rock, like rats fleeing a sinking ship. Buildings crumbled and fell as the fire burned through the timbers that held them up.
I called for a boy to fetch me my armour and my sword. Even though I was still a child, as a Lannister I was expected to have my own suit of armour for training and play fighting. I grinned when he brought me the red and gold lacquered steel suit; I was already a few sizes larger than my father. The boy helped me slip the steel over my head, tightly buckling the straps that I couldn't reach with my short arms. My sword fit me perfectly, the thin blade tapering to a vicious tip. It wasn't a weapon made for hacking or slicing. It was made to slip through pieces of armour quickly. It wouldn't be of that much use in a fight, as it would probably snap at the first blow from an enemy, but it would suit me just fine until I grew tall enough to wield a proper weapon.
"Set half a dozen men to keep the fires burning on the walls and tell the sentries to alert us when they see the Greyjoy fleet catch fire. The rest of you, with me!"
I led the band of soldiers, maybe two hundred men, down through the castle till we reached the gates to Casterly Rock. A towering set of wooden gates, made from hard red oak and at least a metre thick, were barred closed by a series of heavy locks that guarded a weighty iron portcullis. There were many other defences besides these that guarded the keep, but they were the most prominent by far. These gates had not been breached in over six hundred years, long before Lann the Clever took the castle for his own, using cunning and deception.
I heard the shout from above echo through the castle walls. "The signal!"
"Open the gates!" I roared. "Heave, you bastards! Heave like your life depends on it!"
The carved wooden gates slowly opened an inch at a time, the wood scraping against the stone floor. A dozen men set to raising the portcullis as panicking citizens tried to force their way inside the fortress.
"Take fifty men and make sure that the townspeople are taken to the great hall, looked after and treated with respect. Make sure to avoid causing a panic. We wouldn't want a riot on top of a siege, would we?"
The man bowed low in respect. "Very good, m'lud." Provincial accent and rough demeanour aside, Ser Harwyn of House Plumm was a stout man with a good heart. He would see my orders carried out to the letter.
"Quietly now, lads." I gave the orders from behind the troops, shepherding them onwards with quiet words of encouragement. I didn't dare to stand in the front line, as a child I would fall quickly if the vanguard were attacked.
We moved quickly through the darkened streets, soft feet slapping on cobbled streets. We followed the dark orange glow that came from the burning Ironborn ships, tracing the path taken by the raiders as they hurried back to save their boats.
I ordered the men to stop when we reached the docks. They stuck to the shadows, moving with surprising swiftness. I called for one of the men to light an arrow aflame and send it up into the air to signal the attack.
"No noise." I whispered. "Get as close as you can, before you start the attack."
The arrow arced gracefully into the air, burning its orange trail through the black night. I could see dark figures from across the docks, inching ever closer to the panicking Greyjoy army. All but two of their ships had gone up in flames, so they knew that they were in dire trouble. Without their transports the Iron men would be lost, and easy to pick off for our trained men.
"Forward." I murmured, as the men jolted into action.
Not until the first of the Ironborn took a spear to the back, did they know what was going on. Their screams pierced the night sky as they were taken by surprise. Dozens fell as they dropped the buckets of water that they were carrying, scrambling to draw their swords before they were cut down.
I hung back, away from the fighting, flanked by a pair of guards who never left my side. They watched me carefully; one hand always on the handles of their swords. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted around fifty of the Iron men attempt to swim back to their remaining boats. Their heavy cloaks and sacks, filled with loot taken from our city, weighed them down, dragging more than a few under the waves for good.
A few dozen of our archers lined the docks, maybe fifty paces behind the fighting, picking off any of the raiders who tried to escape. Soon the waters ran red with Greyjoy blood, as the harbour clogged with corpses.
The fires in the city had been brought under control by now, but much of Lannisport now lay in ruins. Blackened timbers sprouted from the ashes of ancient buildings. Much would have to be rebuilt after the raiders were thrown back into the sea.
"My lord, I must insist that we return to the Rock." One of the guards whispered into my ear.
"Fine, fine. The day is done anyhow." Most of the killings had already taken place and there was little point in staying just to watch some more. If any problems did come up, one of the lords would assume command and deal with it. One or two pockets of Ironborn resistance still stood strong, but they would fall eventually, probably before the dawn.
"Quickly now." I warned the men. "There's bound to be a few stragglers still left in the city. Probably best for us to leave them well enough alone."
"Yes my lord."
Together we hurried back through the city, scrambling through the dark to get back home. The streets were empty; the town's folk had all taken refuge either in their own homes or the Sept of Lannisport, or even in the great citadel of Casterly Rock.
We reached the castle gates just as the last of the smallfolk were being ushered inside.
"An excellent job, Ser Harwyn."
"Thank you m'lud. I've kept them in the Great Hall and posted the men at the entrances."
"A good idea, I applaud you Ser."
He nodded deeply at me. "The men, m'lud, are full of praise for your actions." A humble smile crossed his face. "They've even come up with a little song for you."
I grinned. "And I would be glad to hear it, but maybe another time. I'm afraid that tonight's excitement has rather tired me out. If you'll excuse me, I would like to retire to my chambers."
"Very good, m'lud."
"Ser Harwyn if you could have a man wake me when the men are done by the docks, I would appreciate it." The man nodded in agreement, before turning and taking his leave.
I started to climb the stairs to my room, calling out to one of the servants to bring me some supper. "Also boy, bring me a raven from the Maester's quarters."
I slipped into my chambers quietly, stopping only to stuff a few mouthfuls of bread and fresh beef into my mouth before I quickly scribbled a note to my grandfather and sent it off with the raven that the boy brought. I collapsed onto my bed heavily. It had been a very tiring night for all. As my face hit the pillow, I heard sounds drifting up at me from below. Soon enough the noises began to coalesce into words and the sounds of music.
The boy stood on the burning wall
Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle's fall
Shone round him o'er the dead.
Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
As born to rule the storm;
A creature of heroic blood,
A proud, though childlike form.
A slight smile graced my face as my eyes closed gently.
The day was mine.