The Day Is Dark And Full Of Questions


Chapter 060





“The gods must have a very shitty kind of ironic humor,” Jaime commented darkly and looked into the goblet filled with Arbour gold in front of him.

They – he and his brother – were sitting in one of the better wine sinks of King's Landing and had already downed two wineskins. A musician was weeping on a fiddle in the background, but the sound mingled with the overall chatter of the many other customers. The air was rich with smoke and sweat and the smell of beer.

“I know,” Tyrion agreed, “but what exactly are you referring to now?”

Jaime snorted: “Two things, actually. First: there was one thing I was really good at. Fighting with a sword. And now look at this!”

He held up his stump.

“Let me assure you that you've been very competent in more than one way,” Tyrion corrected him. “You're also good at smirking, at being arrogant and at making a fool of yourself – though these qualities may not be exactly fulfilling, I must give you that.”

Jaime hissed back: “Yes, do it, rub more salt into my wounds, just go ahead.”

He took a deep swig from his goblet and felt even more miserable than he had during his confinement under Robb Stark – a thing that he'd never have deemed possible previously.

Tyrion grinned wrily and retorted: “Rubbing salt into wounds is certainly one of my qualities. But tell me: what's the second reason for you to believe in the crookedness of the gods' humour?”

Jaime uttered a short, bitter laugh and explained: “Well, you see – when I was sworn to be a bachelor I sinned all over the Seven Kingdoms. And now that I've been released from the King's Guard and my dearest father has forced me to marry the wench my bed is suddenly cold and empty.”

“Ah, I see,” Tyrion uttered and murmured: “though I must say that I'm surprised that you're talking of your bed. Did you ever do it there?”

Jaime rose and towered over his brother like a predator on the jump. His blood was boiling in his veins from sudden anger.

“If you weren't my brother I'd kill you now!”

Tyrion looked up, unimpressed.

“You've lost your sweet sister. Do you want to lose your ugly, but at least entertaining brother now, too?”

Defeated, Jaime slumped back on his chair.

“Why did Cersei have to go to Brienne right after the wedding and to reveal all the... private details to her, little brother? Tell me!”

Tyrion shrugged.

“Misguided Lannister pride.”

Jaime threw his hand and his stump into the air in despair.

“But I don't get it! Really, I don't! I mean – you told me she's been having many lovers for years. Why should she be angry with me then, because I was with Brienne? She even found me physically disgusting, crippled as I am now. You should have seen the look she threw me when she discovered my injury!”

“See, that's the differende between pride and misguided Lannister pride.”

Jaime grumbled something unintelligible and took another swig.

After a silent minute or so, he stated: “Well, she's gone now, our sister. Father must be congratulating himself. Putting sweetsleep into her drink and shipping her off to Braavos was indeed a clever move. I'm just wondering what will happen when she arrives – Cersei will surely be breathing fire and brimstone from sheer anger.”

Tyrion nodded: “Sure she will – but her only chance will be to marry the Braavosi from the Iron Bank. I mean – she was sent away without her precious dresses, jewellery, without a penny and, most of all, without father's support. On her arrival she won't have any options.”

Jaime commented on that: “I wonder if father's wedding deal won't backfire in the future.”

Tyrion shrugged.

“Who knows.”

They drank deep; Jaime's little brother patted a serving maid's plump bottom, and gave her a stag for some more booze.

When they had another skin of wine Tyrion asked: “How's your wife, by the way? Still sick in the morning?”

Jaime sighed: “Yes, she is. Otherwise – I don't really know. She doesn't talk to me. And I can't be cross with her, not after my behaviour. I must have hurt her so much and broken her heart. That she's such a wonderful woman makes me – if possible – even more of a monster. You should have seen how she defended me out there on the road in front of King's Landing. The wench risked her life for me although I didn't deserve it. It still breaks my heart when I think of the moment when I saw that arrow stick out of her leg, and another one out of her left arm. You can't believe how relieved I was when I learned from Maester Pycelle that they were no serious injuries, and that they were healing well. Anyway – it was in that moment when we were beset by robbers that I realised that if Cersei had been allowed to learn how to wield a sword... she wouldn't have tried to save me with the same ferocity.”

Tyrion yawned and asked: “So you you love her? Brienne, I mean?”

Suddenly, Jaime's eyes burned.

“Yes. Oh yes. With all my heart. You know – in the past I used to think that I'd die the same moment like Cersei. She always told me it would and it should be like that, and I believed her. She also told me we were one soul in two bodies, and I believed that, too. What an oaf I was. When I came together with Brienne I was an individual for the first time. And the wench would deserve so much better. As it is, she can't love me any more, now that she knows of all my sins, but I'll try to care for her and the child as best I can. I want to be a real father. A good father – at least once.”

On hearing those words, Tyrion teased him: “Don't you think Brienne's too ugly and too big for you?”

Now, Jaime could show that probably he wasn't as deft with his left hand as he was with the one he had lost – but he wasn't weak either: he started a second time, and this time, he grabbed his brother, lifted him up and pressed him against the wall. All around, people started to stare... and then to quickly look away. No-one interfered with Lannister problems.

The Kingslayer didn't care one whit for their reactions and roared like a true lion: “How DARE you? You, most of all! You take that back! Understood?”

Tyrion could only groan: “Yes. Sure. Understood.”

So Jaime let go of his little brother, but he was still angry. To cool down, he emptied his wineskin with big gulps and noticed the alcohol go to his head. He welcomed the feeling. Welcomed the increasing numbness.

Tyrion rubbed his throat, panted... and when he had finally caught his breath he spoke up casually: “You can come out now!”

Drunk as he was, Jaime needed a second to realise his brother wasn't addressing him; and he needed another moment to look up and to understand who had been waiting for his brother's words, hidden in an alcove, and who had surely heard every single word.

“You!” Jaime called. And then: “Tyrion, you treacherous bastard!”

The Kingslayer was so far beyond himself that he only wanted to leave. He made for the door. The only problem was that befuddlement hit him like a ram now; he tripped, toppled over, banged his stump, yelled in pain and found it impossible to get up again. He moaned.

Far above him, Brienne complained: “I'm not sure, if this a good for a pregnant woman, Tyrion, but I fear I've got to carry my husband back to the Red Keep.”

And further down, closer to Jaime's ear, his Little Brother answered: “I fear the same, especially since I'm not in the physical position to carry out this task myself. Let's see, if we can hire anyone for help. Shouldn't be too difficult in this case, and a Lannister always pays his debts.”

Jaime thought he could see his brother hold up a golden stag, but his thoughts were becoming hazy, and he couldn't see clearly any more. Mere moments later, the Kingslayer passed out.