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The Lion in Winter (Asoiaf/got Si)

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    Не могу читать через переводчик на оригинальном сайте - https://forum.questionablequesting.com/threads/the-lion-in-winter-asoiaf-got-si.9138/reader . Так что, выкладываю здесь, чтобы спокойно читать. Текст не мой, права не мои, выкладываю без разрешения автора. Ссылка на произведение выше.

  Bronn I
  
  He strode through the corridors of the Red Keep; behind him twelve Red Cloaks marched in lockstep, their armour polished to a high sheen and their faces hard and set. He sported new armour, a new set of scale armour polished to a high, sliver sheen, his clothes and boots were brand new, and he had a wardrobe full of new clothes back in his quarters. Clothes of a quality and cut he had certainly never dreamed of possessing, and a purse heavy with the gold of Casterly Rock. And for all that gold a price, always a price, but then again, he did sell his sword as he had told Tyrion on many occasion, and the man who paid the highest price would win his blade.
  
  His new employer, the Great Lion himself had ordered him to select as many Red Cloaks as he needed for the tasks that he had said he would need him for. What exactly said tasks were likely to be he could not say, but likely to involve bloodshed and nefarious deeds. Not that he cared one whit, even if he was a knight, Lord Tywin had given him more Gold in the last week than he had seen in his life, likely more gold than he would have seen in a hundred lives, and he was not about to refuse such a windfall.
  
  He had been tasked with selecting Red Cloaks that "knew how to fight and fight dirty" was how Lord Tywin had put it, men who would not blanch at whatever was required. He had been given the run of the Red Cloak regiments in Kings Landing to find his men; these few with him knew how to handle their blades and had the necessary moral flexibility he was looking for. Lord Tywin had doubled their pay as a reward, and they were expected to maintain their armour and weapons to a standard required for service in the Red Keep. But these men were not toy soldiers, were not ceremonial guards, they would be the blades in the dark for whatever Lord Tywin wanted done. Though in this case they were moving in daylight and Lord Tywin"s instructions had been clear and concise, none were to bar him and his, not even the King, especially the King as the Great Lion had growled in that low and menacing way of his.
  
  It was a strange deed that Lord Tywin had tasked them with mind you, but nobles, who knew how they thought anyway? He chuckled at this, he was a noble now himself, but he doubted he would ever think like them thank the Gods. The lessons learned growing up hard and fast were not soon unlearned he knew, and he would be safer and wiser for it, though maybe not as wise as he should have been.
  
  For who did not know the Rains of Castamere and who did not know the terrible intent of the mournful words of that fell song? Mayhaps he should have refused a knighthood and just departed Kings Landing after the battle, but who refused the Great Lion and lived eh? Who refused to be knighted by Tywin fucking Lannister himself and who refused to enter his service when he promised you things that you had never even dreamed possible? Lord Tyrion had been a good employer, hell he liked the Imp if he was honest, but the Imp was not his father, and the little Lord, for all his cunning and wit, could not match the power of the Great Lion.
  
  Maybe he was an idiot, maybe he should have never stepped up and stood in for the Imp at the Eyrie, but that was the past, there was nothing he could do to change that now, all he could do was hope that he stayed on the Lions back now.
  
  And ahead was his future as he rounded a corner and came across his quarry, and as he feared, it would be complicated.
  
  Ahead of him two Kingsguard, Tant and Blout of he was not mistaken, were busy stripping Lady Sansa and beating her, while King Joffrey howled and screamed with alternating glee and foul curses.
  
  So absorbed were the trio in beating the girl that they failed to notice them approaching, only realising what was happening as the twelve Red Cloaks aired their steel.
  
  Bron snickered when he say Trant and Blout"s eye"s suddenly widen in fear and for the two cowards to take several hurried steps back and hastily air their own steel.
  
  "What? What is the meaning if this!" screamed Joffrey, over the sounds of the young girl sobbing on her knees, he clothing splayed around her in tatters like the peel of a fruit.
  
  The little shit had his hand on his sword as Bron stepped forwards, moving his head slightly to one side to nod at one of the Red Cloaks, who shrugged his cloak from his shoulders and handed it to him. Draping the red cloak over the girls trembling shoulders he reached out a hand and said quietly "come with me Lady Sansa."
  
  He could see the fear and terror in the girl"s huge eyes, eyes of a pale blue that reminded him of the endless skies of the Reach. But these eyes were clouded, pain obscured them, as did doubt and uneasiness, but the Stark girl looked at his hand and swiftly placed her tiny hand in his and he drew her to her feet, as his red cloaks stepped forwards to surround her.
  
  "What? What are you doing! Release her, release her to your King IMMEDIATLEY!" screamed Joffrey, making a great show of pulling out his sword.
  
  "Mind yourself, you might cut yourself with that lad" Bron deadpanned at the reddened and enraged boy king.
  
  "How dare you speak to his Grace in such a manner!" growled Trant, finally having recovered his voice, if not his wits.
  
  "The Lord Hand requires the presence of Lady Sansa at once; I"m here to escort her to the Tower of the Hand. His orders were explicit; no one is to interfere in this."
  
  "BUT I"M THE KING!!!" screeched Joffrey, his face puffed up in rage.
  
  "We will be leaving now, good day your Grace, good Sers" Bron gave a mocking bow and backed away, his Red Cloaks keeping the steel drawn and their eyes fixed on the Kingsguard.
  
  Rounding the turn in the corridor they could hear Joffrey raging and screaming, and the sound of something crashing to the ground. Bron let a smile come to his face, oh yes, service to the Great Lion was sure to prove as interesting as it was rewarding.
  
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  Sansa I
  
  As was her wont Sansa broke her fast in her modest rooms, Shae bringing her a tray of food for her to eat, usually fruit and fresh bread rolls, with butter and jam to spread on their steaming white insides. Sometimes Shae brought porridge, which remaindered her of Winterfell, and oft she could not stop the tears from forming in the corners of her eyes at the thoughts of home.
  
  Home, that great, grey fortress atop a barren heath, that she had so desperately wanted to escape from, to accompany her golden prince away from its dreary halls and leaden skies. To the south where it would be sunshine and blue skies, balls and tournerys, handsome, chivalrous knights and endless fun.
  
  Sansa looked up from her tray, through the windows she could see Kings Landing, its red roofs stretching out below her in profusion, crammed with half a million souls. For what she would not give to be out among them, to be a smallfolk girl, and not stuck here a prisoner of beasts with smiling faces and golden lions their sigil.
  
  She turned her gaze northwards, thinking that her sight flew across fields and rivers, towns and holdfasts, to gaze once more upon Winterfell, to see it standing as it had always stood, proud against the sky and uncaring of the passage of the years.
  
  But she knew, in the part of her heart that she rarely ventured to, that she would never see Winterfell again, that she, like her father, would die here in Kings Landing, among the stench and horror of the court of Cersei and her mad son.
  
  Oh how she had wept bitter tears night upon night after her world had shattered into a million pieces, of her stupidity and her weakness. And of the all consuming horror in the realisation that all she had been taught was bitter untruth, a bright and shining lie, designed to trap the unwary, the foolish.
  
  For now she welcomed the beatings of the Kingsguard, the scourging of her flesh for her myriad sins. Not the sins of being a traitor, well not a traitor to the King at least, no, never that! But for being a traitor to her family, to who she was. The hot, acid bile in her throat every time Joffrey had made her look upon the rotting heads of all the people that she had known, made her unable to refute the fact that she was responsible for this, that she was indeed a traitor.
  
  And so now she thrilled at the news of Robb"s victories over the Lannister"s, despite the beatings that Joffrey would have his Kingsguard inflict on her, for now she wore her scars like armour, they were her pride in who she was, a Stark of Winterfell. She had thought to throw herself from the window of her room on more than one occasion in the past, especially in the days immediately after Joffrey had taken her father"s head. But now she would not do such a thing. No, she would die at the hands of the Kingsguard, and by the orders of King Joffrey, her once Golden Prince, and she would welcome death, for she would die as she had lived, a Stark, and as nothing less.
  
  But until then she would not show one sign of weakness, she would not let them know the sorrows they had seared across her soul. No for Sansa Stark would continue to wear her armour, the armour of serene knowledge in who she was, what she was. She was now a Lady, not one of those simpering idiots in the books she had liked to read, not a "lady" like the Queen or any number of the cattish hellions that packed the court. No, she now saw through their falsehoods and lies, saw what they were, weak, foolish - just like she had once been. Now she would continue to show them only what they wanted to see, the empty headed little northern girl, who understood nothing and wailed and cried as she suffered under the beatings of the Kingsguard. That was her true armour, the facade that she showed the world, so that inside her, the real her, would remain untouched, inviolate.
  
  She would not be like Arya, who would have cursed and raged and who would probably have been killed outright by Joffrey, if she was not already dead, for nothing had been heard of her sister since the day the Lannister"s had butchered the Starks. No she would suffer as she should, punished for her sins, until one day the torment would end and she would go to the Gods to face their judgement for her sins.
  
  She remembered the terror of the battle of the Blackwater, and not for the reasons that Queen Cersei thought either, no she did not fear death or rape at the hands of soldiers, no for that would not be atonement for her sins, for her betrayal of her family. Only death at the hands of the Lannister"s would atone for her actions, of that she was certain. But instead of a brutal rape and death the Lannister"s had defeated Stannis and she had been confined to her rooms, for what reason she did not know but she had known something of peace and a sort of tranquilly.
  
  The fires of her wish for mortification had died down; never fully leaving her, nor her desire to be beaten, to be scourged, to remind her of what she was, a traitor to her family, the reason why her father was dead.
  
  She had her sewing and her reading to entertain her, that was how she spent her days now, safe in a way, no longer required to attend court and suffer under the mercurial ways of Joffrey. Shae provided for all her needs in regards to sustenance and the usual maid"s tasks, and often as just a companion to sit or even talk awhile, the girl had a sharp wit and was good at ferreting out gossip and news.
  
  Tywin Lannister was installed as the new Hand of the King and Tyrion had been wounded during the battle, the former Hand of the King was recovering under the care of Lord Tywin"s personal Maester in the Tower of the Hand. She knew Tyrion was not the worst of the Lannister"s, and Shae seemed to be fond of the Imp, always defending him should their conversations mention the youngest son of Tywin Lannister. But of course she could not trust a Lannister; she could only trust her family, which was the lesson that had been imprinted on her soul the moment her father"s head had sprung free of his shoulders at the orders of King Joffrey.
  
  As she finished her meal Shae tidied things away and made to return the tray to the kitchens, Sansa contemplated what she would do for the day, and not for the first time wondered what would happen to her. This strange limbo existence of hers was sure to come to an end at some point, and she was sure that Joffrey would soon enough return to having his Kingsguard beat her, not that he would sully himself to hit her himself, not because she was unworthy of it, no because she knew that Joffrey was a coward.
  
  Just then the door to her rooms burst open two Kingsguard stormed in, pushing Shae out of the way and grabbing her by the arms before hurling her out the door and into the corridor, at the feet of Joffrey.
  
  Steeling herself she donned her armour and wailed piteously as the blows from the Kingsguard rained down on her flesh, as they tore at her dress and stripped her bare. Joffrey"s gleeful shouts of encouragement a counterpoint to her screams and protests.
  
  With a suddenness the beatings stopped and Sansa sensed a change in the air around her, glancing up she saw a party of Red Cloaks, led by the sellsword that Lord Tyrion had hired, but who now was working for Lord Tywin and who had been knighted if Shae"s words were to be believed.
  
  "What? What is the meaning of this!" squealed Joffrey like the spoilt child that he was, as Bronn stepped forwards, taking a cloak from one of the Lannister guards and draping it around her shoulders, reaching out with his hand and saying "come with me Lady Sansa."
  
  She placed her hand in the rough, warm hand of the former sellsword and rose to her feet, never sparing a glance for Joffrey or her tormentors, her face composed despite the tears staining it. As she stood the Lannister guards advanced and surrounded her, she did not flinch at this, merely keeping her face frozen and vacant, her thoughts well hidden.
  
  "What? What are you doing! Release her, release her to your King IMMEDIATLEY!" bawled Joffrey, like the child who had just had his favourite toy taken from him, but Ser Bronn just replied in a most matter of fact voice "Mind yourself, you might cut yourself with that lad", from the sudden gasps of rage from the two Kingsguard Sansa knew he had addressed Joffrey in this manner.
  
  "How dare you speak to his Grace in such a manner!" shouted Meryn Trant, his voice menacing, but he was ignored as Bronn simply replied "The Lord Hand requires the presence of Lady Sansa at once; I"m here to escort her to the Tower of the Hand. His orders were explicit; no one is to interfere in this."
  
  "BUT I AM THE KING!" wailed Joffrey, petulance and rage filling his voice.
  
  But Ser Bron just replied "We will be leaving now your Grace, good Sers" and with that the men around her began to retreat, she gripped at the cloak that covered her and matched their pace as they strode away, behind her she could hear Joffrey screaming and cursing as his plaything was taken away from him.
  
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  Ever fancied being Tywin Lannister? Well now you can find out, courtesy of The Lion in Winter
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  Sansa II
  
  Bronn and his Red Cloaks marched her swiftly to the Tower of the Hand, she ignored the stares and whispers of all as she passed, be they noble or smallfolk staff with her head held high, her gaze fixed forwards, seeming to be uncaring, but inside her mind was whirling. Not with the frightened thoughts of a girl, no, never with that again, she was wondering what the Old Lion wanted with her, what game he wanted to play, what humiliation he wanted to inflict on her. Was the Old Lion going to play with her, the little wolf, like his grandson did? Or was another game afoot, Tywin Lannister was a figure of almost legendary dread and fear, and even Cersei seemed to be afraid of her father.
  
  But she would not be afraid, in her secret heart she would be strong, her armour might project the mask of a frightened, abandoned girl but that was not her, not anymore. So she steeled herself, she was a Stark of Winterfell, a Lady of a House whose lineage stretched back eight thousand years, she would walk into the den of the Old Lion unafraid, and she would see what was expected of her. Probably more of the same she knew, of pretending to be a helpless, frightened girl, pleading for her life, terrified and barely understanding what was happening to her.
  
  Passing through the gates in the walls that surrounded the Tower of the Hand and its ancillary buildings she noticed the large numbers of Red Cloaks on guard, they were everywhere. As they climbed the achingly familiar steps of the Tower of the Hand the place was bustling with guards, scribes and others, all in Lannister livery or in the livery of the Red Keep, she noticed nobody sported the livery of House Baratheon of Kings Landing. The Tower was much busier than she ever remembered it, but she clamped her mind down on the memories that threatened to overwhelm her, memories of her father, of Arya, of Septa Mordane.
  
  Eventually they arrived at the floor that contained the Hand"s quarters, where her old rooms had been, she idly wondered who was sleeping there, if anyone was? She had thrilled to wake up every morning to the view out over Kings Landing, and she had reminded herself every morning that the Red Keep was her home now and that she would marry Joffrey and have his perfect blonde babies. All that was dust, ash now, scorched away by her own stupidity and foolishness, leaving only a cold, empty hearth behind.
  
  They were waved right through into the Hand"s Solar and she found herself standing before the Old Lion himself, who was busy behind the great desk of the Hand, his body almost hunched over as he scribbled away on a parchment before him. Around his neck he wore the chain of linked hands that her father had worn, and that denoted him as the Hand of the King. Sansa could not help but shudder when she thought that it looked like it belonged on the Old Lion, and that it had never sat right around her father"s own neck.
  
  "Thank you Ser Bron, you are dismissed" he intoned as if he was announcing he wanted to make water, his voice emotionless and uncaring.
  
  "My Lord" she heard the man say behind here and he and his Red Cloaks left the room. She heard someone enter behind her, a man from the sound of his footsteps.
  
  "Channer, have Septa Elenah, the Ladies in Waiting and Maester Braddok attend me."
  
  "Yes my Lord, at once" the man replied, his footsteps retreating behind her swiftly.
  
  The Old Lion continued to write, ignoring her completely, she did not look around, for she knew this place well, instead she kept her gaze fixed on a spot above his bald head on the far wall, the scarlet cloak wrapped around her. "Bloodied babe"s wrapped in Lannister scarlet" came unbidden to her mind in her father"s stern voice, and despite herself she shivered, before her was the man who ordered the slaughter of Princess Elia and her children and about whom the Rains of Castamere were penned. He was the father of Cersei and Jamie, the grandfather of Joffrey, and he was the Hand of the King, a position he held under the Mad King Aerys, she idly wondered if he liked being Hand of the King to another mad King?
  
  Behind her she heard the door open and people bustle into the room, the Old Lion"s eyes flicking up from his writing at these new arrivals, she noticed that his eye"s barely gave her a passing look, a brief flare of hard green flecked with gold.
  
  "Good" he announced, standing up from his desk, the desk that she had seen her father sit behind so many times, her heart threatening to shatter over again into a million pieces at these memories.
  
  "Lady Sansa, this is Septa Elenah, Maester Braddok, my personal Maester and these are two Ladies in Waiting who will attend to you, your Ladies Maid Shae and all your things are being moved to your old room in the Tower of the Hand as we speak."
  
  Nothing could have prepared Sansa for these words, her mask almost broke, but she kept her facade, deciding that a confused little girl was the best pose to adopt before the Old Lion.
  
  "What, I, I don"t understand my Lord..." she sputtered, her eyes making contact with Lord Tywin"s, an act she regretted instantly, for such was the anger, the rage that burned in those eyes that she almost took a step back in fright.
  
  "I believe that you were rescued by Ser Bronn while members of the Kingsguard were in the process of beating you, is that correct?"
  
  How had the Old Lion known? He had not said anything to Bron when he had delivered her to him, confusion reigned in her mind for a few seconds before she could answer "I, my Lord...I"
  "Yes or no Lady Sansa, were members of the Kingsguards beating you?"
  
  "Yes."
  
  "And they were beating you at the direct command of the King?"
  
  Sansa struggled to make sense of this questioning, but decided that in this case truth was the best option; the Old Lion could just ask Bronn for the truth after all.
  
  "Yes my Lord Hand" she replied, her head cast downwards, not daring to look up into those fierce emerald orbs.
  
  "And his Grace, he was present was he not?"
  
  "Yes my Lord."
  
  "And this is not the first time that King Joffrey has requested his Kingsguard to beat you?"
  
  "I, my Lord, I mean..." best to appear frightened, unsure, to see what the Old Lion was up to.
  
  "It"s a simple question Lady Stark, I already know the answer, but I want to hear you say the words, has his Grace ordered you beaten before?"
  
  "Yes, yes my Lord Hand."
  
  "Good, I prefer the truth at all times Lady Sansa, something that is in short supply in the Red Keep, as I am sure you are aware."
  
  Should she? She weighed her options quickly, deciding that the Old Lion would probably think it the unthinking outburst of a stupid girl "The truth can get you killed in the Red Keep my Lord Hand."
  
  Those oh so cold, oh so hard eye"s registered nothing at this, except to stare at her with undiminished intensity, until the Old Lion replied "Only if you have no power Lady Sansa, with power behind it the truth is a weapon."
  
  She supposed that with the gold of Casterly rock behind you and ten thousand Red Cloaks in Kings Landing the truth was irrelevant as far as the arrogant Old Lion was concerned.
  
  "Very well, now if you do not mind Maester Braddok needs to examine you, the Septa and your Ladies in Waiting will preserve your honour. Lady Sansa may the Maester and Septa attend to you?"
  
  When she said nothing in response Lord Tywin continued "As Hand of the King and as I will assume the duties of your guardian in the absence of your father or brother. As such I also require to see the wounds inflicted on your person, but I beg your permission Lady Sansa for this regrettable imposition."
  
  Her mind was blank, what game was being played at here, what manner of perversity was this, was the Old Lion a man who liked to observe the torn flesh of young women? Did he like to inflict these self same wounds? Was he an even greater beast than many suspected him to be? She gulped a little, she was not embarrassed of her scars, of her wounds, but to let the Old Lion gloat over the damage that his grandson had inflicted on her?
  
  Despite this she nodded in reply, she would allow this, let them see her armour; let them wallow in the marks of their Lannister cruelty, what did she care?
  
  The Maester and the Septa approached her, she noticed that unlike the OId Lion, they had kind eyes; she let them remove the Lannister cloak from her shoulders and reveal the scars and marks that were her secret pride, her visible shame.
  
  She turned to keep her modesty as the cloak was removed totally from her, hearing a hiss of anger escape the Old Lion"s mouth before the two women whom Lord Tywin had referred to as her Ladies in Waiting took the cloak and held it up to shield her from the Old Lion"s view. In that single exclamation from Lord Tywin she had heard a roiling anger, a rage that frightened her to her core.
  "Maester Braddok, Septa Elenah, please escort Lady Sansa to her quarters and begin treating her wounds, she is to be given the same treatment as you would one of my children Maester, and I expect to hear reports of Lady Sansa"s recovery daily."
  
  "Yes my Lord" the two of them replied as they took Sansa out of the Solar of the Hand, instead of taking the door they exited the room via the courtyard, taking the steps that led up the inner walls above the courtyard to what Sansa realised was her old room. Inside Shae was unpacking her meagre things, and the girl jumped to embrace her when she saw her, Sansa winced at the squeeze that Shae gave her, for her latest wounds were very sore and tender.
  The Maester and the Septa took charge of her then, and soon Sansa was lying on her old bed being prodded and poked and having salves applied to her many wounds and scars, and she idly wondered what more strangeness would this strange day bring?
  
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  Think an SI into Ned Stark with a Homo Drakensis twist sounds like fun? Well the Black Wolf [NSFW] is the story for you then!
  What would you did if you woke up in Westeros and discovered you had been subjected to an enforced gender change? See the adventures of The Littlest Lioness for all the delightful details...
  Ever fancied being Tywin Lannister? Well now you can find out, courtesy of The Lion in Winter
  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Tyrion I
  
  "My Lord, your Lord father requests your presence" announced Podrik, his usual nervousness hovering just below the timber of his voice.
  
  "Does he now?"
  
  "Yes my Lord..."
  
  "Well I had better rise from my sick bed and hasten to his summons Podrik, fetch me some clothes that I may greet the Lord Hand" replied Tyrion, wincing slightly at the pain in his face, the constricting bandages stinging as the ravaged flesh of his face healed. At least he was in the Tower of the Hand and he was being cared for by his father"s own personal Maester, for that was probably why he had woken after the battle of the Blackwater, and had not succumbed to the Strangers embrace after Ser Mandon Moore had tried to kill him.
  
  It was puzzling to have awoken here, even more puzzling to hear Pod tell of what had happened in the immediate aftermath of the battle, of his father keeping him in the Tower of the Hand, admittedly in different quarters than those of his previous residence. And of all being barred from seeing him, apart from Pod, Bronn, now Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, Braddock - his father"s Maester, and the fact that Red Cloaks guarded the door to his quarters.
  
  His sellsword Bron had apparently entered his Lord Father"s service after the battle and his knighting, he was annoyed at this, but then again Bronn was a sellsword at heart, his father would always be able to offer Bronn more than he could. A sizeable monthly stipend and the promise of a Keep and a high born bride was Bronn"s price according to Pod, though how his Lord father would deal with Bronn"s irreverent attitude he could not even begin to imagine.
  
  It was nigh on a week since the battle and according to Pod much had changed in the Red Keep, his father had asserted his control as Hand of the King with a ruthless determination, but then he expected nothing less of the Old Lion. He smirked as Pod helped him dress; he wondered how his father liked dealing with that idiotic little shit Joffrey, he did so hope that father was as disappointed in his grandson has he was with his own children, for Tyrion would hate for history not to repeat itself, if only to spite his father. A smile threatened to burst onto his face, he stopped it, the smirk had been painful enough for his torn skin, a smile would have been an agony, everyone failed to live up to his father"s standards, so even though his father frightened the veritable life out of almost everyone he dealt with Tyrion had long ago stopped even trying to placate the Old Lion"s wishes.
  
  He had not seen sight nor heard sound of Shae, but Pod insisted that she was well and remained as a maid to Lady Sansa. Stannis had been sent packing back to Dragonstone minus his fleet and the bulk of his men, the Tyrell"s and Lannister"s having thoroughly routed him on the Blackwater, in no small part due to his actions he thought sourly, and his reward had been a Kingsguard trying to split his head open. He would have to redress this state of affairs post haste, though he was sure to annoy the Old Lion with any request he made, but then again he knew he annoyed the Old Lion every day that he still drew breath.
  
  Finishing getting dressed he exited his quarters with Pod in tow, all of his belongings were now moved to his new quarters, which he recognised as being the quarters of the Chamberlin of the Hand. Not the servant"s quarters or a bare storage room that he had expected if he was honest, could it be that the Old Lion was honouring him? No surly that was too much; there must just have been nowhere else to place him after the battle, which must be the explanation for the luxurious quarters he had found himself in. Once he was recovered he was fully sure that he would be ejected from the Tower of the Hand and he would no doubt find himself having to rest his body in a less than salubrious part of the Red Keep.
  
  The Tower of the Hand was crawling with Red Cloaks, none of whom he recognised, and two Red Cloaks peeled off from his door to escort him and Pod. Interesting he mused, as they strolled through the hallways, corridors and stairs of the Tower of the hand, as scribes and functionaries dashed to and fro, bundles of files and scrolls in their hands. Obviously nobody wanted to be seen to be dawdling now that the Lion of Casterly Rock was Hand of the King, ah except for his dear sister, as he spotted Cersei strolling along with six Red Cloaks in attendance, and looking like she had naught a care in the world. But then again since she had murdered Robert and placed her idiotic spawn on the Iron Throne he supposed she felt that she did indeed have no care in the world.
  
  Cersei was wearing her usual superior sneer on her face, which sharpened when she caught sight of him, before he was subjected to her inevitable invective Tyrion noticed that her Red Cloaks were again none that he recognised.
  
  "Ah little brother, I am heartened to see you risen from your sick bed, I was so concerned for your health!" Cersei said with all the mock sincerity of the finest mummery.
  
  "Why thank you your Grace, I am proud to sport wounds in defence of the capital and my nephew his grace!" Tyrion responded with equal insincerity.
  
  "Those scars will no doubt make you even more handsome little brother, why the ladies will be flocking to you to wed...."
  
  "I fear they will dear sister, much to the sorrow of the whores of Kings Landing and further abroad!"
  
  Cersei scowled at his response, no, his sister would not be getting a rise out of him today, he knew that she had tried to have him killed; his vengeance would come later, for it was a dish best served cold....
  
  They reached the door to the Hand"s Solar before any more verbal barbs could be flung, four Red Cloaks standing guard, one of them knocking on the door and pushing it open slightly to announce them.
  "Bid them enter" came a familiar growl as he and Cersei stepped into the den of the Old Lion.
  
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  Tyrion II
  
  Cersei and he entered the Solar of the Hand of the King, Cersei of course hurrying to where their father sat behind his desk, the scratching of a quill on paper the only sound in the room. He waddled after her, noticing that father had not even raised his eyes from what he was doing once, neither to acknowledge their entrance nor when either of them had sat before his desk, without asking could they sit.
  
  They sat there, Cersei becoming increasingly annoyed as father worked on the document before him, until finally he took the pot of wax from where it sat on a stand above a lighted candle, pouring a small amount of the wax onto the document and impressing the seal of the Hand of the King into the pool of molten wax.
  
  Only then did the Old Lion deign to cast his gaze upon his children, and Tyrion could not help but notice that there was fury in the Old Lion"s gold flecked green eyes, along with their customary coldness. So absorbed by the Old Lion"s stare was he that he scarce noticed that his father no longer sported his trademark golden mutton chops, that he was clean shaven of face and pate.
  
  Deciding that he had nothing to lose he opened the conversation "I like the new look father, clean shaven, very, very "Hand of the King"!"
  
  Tywin did not even blink at this, instead his gaze flicked coolly over him briefly, before settling on Cersei, who squirmed as the Old Lion held her in his view but continued to say nothing.
  
  The silence stretched out oppressively, the only sound being the odd crackle of the candle that heated the wax, until finally the Old Lion condescended to speak.
  
  "We had Lord Stark and his two daughters, and now we have a war and but one daughter. When were you going to tell me that Arya Stark had escaped Cersei? Why did you feel you could lie to me, that you could get away with a lie?"
  
  The voice that issued from the Old Lion"s maw was cold, as cold as the winds that had blown off the lands of forever winter as he had pissed off the top of The Wall. He cast a tiny, almost involuntary glimpse at his sister, and for the briefest of seconds he even pitied her.
  
  "Father, I, I thought..."
  
  "You thought what Cersei? What exactly did you think? I had to send you brother here back to Kings Landing to restore some semblance of order from the chaos that you and your son were creating! And what was Tyrion"s reward for being acting Hand and for leading the defence of Kings Landing? Well Cersei? While the King hid behind his mother"s skirts Tyrion Lannister, my SON rallied the defence of Kings Landing, and all who reside in it. And for this Tyrion was rewarded by a Kingsguard trying to kill him, at your order! Kinslaying Cersei.....you dared to try and murder your own brother, your own flesh and blood!"
  
  "Father, NO, lies, its lies, whatever he has told you, lies, filthy lies!" his sister screamed, turning away from their father and gesturing wildly at him.
  
  "You think me a fool Cersei? Stop you wailing and screaming at once women or I will have you removed to the Black Cells!"
  
  This stopped Cersei"s wailings like a knife across a throat, her head whipping around to regard father and fear, pure naked fear sparkled in her eyes.
  
  "You would not dare, I am the Queen Regent!" screeched Cersei in response.
  
  "Is that so? "Queen Regent" you say...and yet King Robert specifically named Ned Stark Regent for Joffrey? And what pray tell happened to that document Cersei, to Roberts will?"
  
  His sister fumed for a second before replying "Ned Stark was a traitor! He intended to rob Joffrey of his birth right!"
  
  "You expect me to believe that? Quite a story that, Ned Stark, Robert"s oldest friend turning traitor? And you expected the realm to believe that fantasy? That thinly veiled excuse for an outright Lannister power grab? And why the rush Cersei? Joffrey would inherit anyway, a Regency under Ned Stark, while no doubt boring and austere, would be what the realm and Joffrey needed, after the foolish, spendthrift ways of King Robert?" declared the Old Lion, his gaze fixated on Cersei, who wilted under his glare.
  
  His dear sister was trapped; she could not refute her father without admitting to the truth about the rumours of her and Jamie and who the real father of Robert"s children was. This was going much better than he expected much better indeed he thought, making sure to keep his face neutral and not allow his glee to reach his face.
  
  Once it became obvious that Cersei was not going to reply to fathers question on the haste with which she disposed of Ned stark"s Regency he moved on "Anyway the matter of you claiming the title of "Queen Regent", the legal position is that you can only claim that title if the King specifically names you to that title, or if a quorum number of the Small Council approve you elevation thus by a unanimous vote? I assume that as Robert named Ned as Regent and that Pycelle informs me that no vote on your Regency ever took place that you are aware that your position has no legal standing?"
  
  "Pah! No doubt old laws of the Targaryen"s, no concern of mine, I had to act, to preserve the family!"
  
  "As Robert never rescinded those laws they are still in force, so you will cease using the title forthwith, and you will no longer attend the Small Council."
  
  "But, but I am the Queen Mother, it is my duty to represent his Grace!"
  
  "The title of "Queen Mother" is an honorary one, and as such is a position which has no official station or status in the laws of the realm, and one which certainly does not permit you to sit on the Small Council."
  
  Cersei fumed but wisely kept her mouth shut this time at their fathers words, oh this just kept on getting ever more delightful mused Tyrion, and frankly a little unexpected, but were not the gifts that were unexpected the sweetest?
  
  "Thanks to you and his Grace we have two Kingdoms in secession, a rival claimant to the Iron Throne, and the Iron Born up to their old tricks again. It is high time that all of this unpleasant business is dealt with by men who know what they are doing, men seasoned in the running and ruling of the realm. Many things will change around here Cersei, necessary changes for the good of the realm, for the good of the Iron Throne, for the good of the family, do I make myself clear?"
  
  "Yes father..." Cersei replied meekly, unable to meet the glaring fury in father"s eye"s as he started at her, his gaze unblinking and terrible in its intensity.
  
  Tyrion knew that even his sister at her most stupid and strident would only be able to stand up to their father for so long.
  
  "Now tell me Cersei, why was I not deluged in missives in both the field and when I held Harrenhall, with instructions from the Crown regarding the swapping of the Stark girl for Jamie?"
  
  "What, father, I..."
  
  "Well?" Tywin growled, Tyrion shrank a little back into himself, the waves of sheer anger and hatred pouring off his father was terrifying, were he another man and were he not a veteran of similar encounters with the cold rage of the Old Lion he was sure he would have lost control of his bowels.
  
  "The Starks have my son Jamie, you had their daughters, though you were stupid enough to lose one, did you not think of trading them, did you not think of your duty to your family?" asked Tywin, his voice low but rumbling with barely suppressed anger.
  
  "I, his Grace, we, we had to think of the war, of defeating the Starks, and then there was Stannis and Renly to deal with..."
  
  "Don"t prattle woman, I was dealing with the Starks on the field of battle, not Joffrey!"
  
  "Badly!" spilled from Cersei"s mouth and Tyrion knew instantly that she regretted it.
  
  "Badly you say, and would Joffrey have done any better on the field of battle Cersei? That callow milksop that enjoys torturing animals, whores and now high born ladies? Well?" Tywin replied icily, the slightest bunching of muscles in his jaw indicating how angry he was.
  
  Cersei just avoided her father"s glare so he continued "And what pray tell did you do to deal with the threat of Stannis and Renly Cersei? Last I heard Renly was murdered by a thing of foul magic conjured by Stannis"s pet Red Priestess!"
  
  "Surely you don"t believe that nonsense, it was that laughable woman knight, Brienne of Tarth who killed Renly Baratheon!"
  
  Tyrion sunk back further into his chair, pressing his back against the wood and leather as Tywin rose and stalked around his desk to tower over Cersei.
  
  "You will find my dear that I know a great many things, things which others might dismiss as rumours and as fantastical, but which I know are true. Do you think I survived as Hand of the Mad King by not knowing what was going on? By relying on a Master of Whispers? And speaking of spies and knowledge, I"m sure that the Starks are more than aware of the treatment of Lady Sansa at the hands of your moronic spawn, will they be so willing to trade her for Jamie now eh?"
  
  His father"s hand lashed out and grasped Cersei"s chin, squeezing it hard as he lifted up her face to meet his, a cry of pain coming from Cersei"s mouth "If you ever, ever endanger the life of either of my sons again, I will end you without a moment"s thought, do you understand me Cersei?" Tywin hissed at her.
  
  "Yes, yes father..." his sister mumbled, her voice that of a little girl, with none of the haughty arrogance she was so used to projecting.
  
  "Good, now leave me, I have work to do repairing the damage that you have done to this family and this realm..."
  
  Cersei bolted from her chair, not even bothering to give the usual respects that were required on leaving the presence of one"s father, even if she was a Queen, or even a Queen Mother thought Tyrion in the silence of his own mind.
  Levering himself away from where he had plastered himself to the back of his chair he went to regain his feet and absent himself from the furiously raging presence of his father.
  
  "Not you."
  
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  Tyrion III
  
  He froze into immobility at those two words, spoken in a low and unemotional voice, and perched himself on the edge of the seat, all manner of horrible thoughts and scenarios running through his head.
  
  "We have things to discuss, you and I, come" his father said, gesturing to the courtyard off to his left.
  
  The Tower of the Hand, like Maegor"s Holdfast had been modified over the years to make it more accommodating to its occupants than previously. He liked to think of himself as something of an expert on the Red Keep, having read all the works published on its architecture and design that he could lay his hands on. The Tower of the Hand had originally been part of the outer defences of the original Maegor"s Holdfast, but now, like the former it was much modified and changed from its original purely defensive function into something much more suitable for both domestic living and the social status of their occupants. The chief modification from their earlier form was to open up much of the interior and to pierce the outer walls with larger windows. In the case of the Tower of the Hand the open interior space of the original tower had been raised up by several floors, additional rooms filling the former courtyard so that the courtyard floor had been raised up to sit at the level of the Hands apartments, which took up the top three floors of the tower. The floor was tiled with colourful tiles and strewn with planters and benches to make a relaxing and tranquil space open to the sky above but sheltered by the inner walls of the Tower. The actual apartments and rooms of the Hands quarters surrounded this space on three sides, balconies and colonnades competed with large windows for space on these walls. But as his father was the only occupant of these quarters and there were none who would dare disturb the lair of the Old Lion, the space was empty and afforded sufficient privacy.
  
  Picking up two pewter goblets and a glass jug of a dark looking liquid Tywin Lannister strode out into the sunlight and pulled two chairs together beside a table, placing the cups on the table he poured the liquid into both cups, handing one to Tyrion.
  
  As he sat himself into a chair and his father settled beside him Tyrion realised that this was probably the closest physically that he had been to his father in a very long time.
  
  Taking a sip of the liquid his eyebrows shot up in surprise.
  
  "Wine, boiled water, orange and lemon juice, cinnamon, honey" said his father before he could make a comment.
  
  "Sanjira? The drink favoured by Dornish noblewomen? Does that make us Dornish noblewomen father?" he tittered, unable to help himself. Though the drink was very pleasant he was shocked to see his father drinking it, why he thought that the Old Lion preferred sour piss wine and the strong, dark ale of the Westerlands, and not this, well feminine drink?
  
  "I find it good for the bowels, mine have been at me since this dammed war started, and they have ached worse since I returned to Kings Landing...."
  
  "Is that so..." Tyrion replied, not really knowing what more to say on this matter.
  
  "Need I tell you why we are sat out here, so close together?" his father replied in an even but low voice.
  
  He shook his head slightly "the walls of the Red Keep have ears..."
  
  "Indeed they do...." his father intoned, before letting something pass over his features that could have been a spasm of discomfort "now imagine how much it pains me admit the cosmic irony that the only one of my children who is not an embarrassment to me right now is you...."
  
  It took all of Tyrion"s considerable self control to not spit out the mouthful of Sanjira he was imbibing at this statement, and he managed to just about swallow the sweet liquid without sputtering and spitting.
  
  His father continued on "It also seems that I have ill used you in the past... you have done well as Hand, not that I did not expect you to, you are my blood after all."
  
  Tyrion made no response to this, still trying not to choke on his drink.
  
  "What, you do not believe me? You think I give out praise for no reason Tyrion?" his father asked, his eyes flint hard and merciless.
  
  "No father, I do not expect you give praise needlessly" he finally managed to say. Best to be cautious, the Old Lion was full of surprises this day, and though surprises could be either good or bad, with his father it was always better to expect bad surprises he had found.
  
  "I do not think Cersei is unfit to rule because she is a woman Tyrion, but because she is stupid, your aunt Genna was right about you...."
  
  "Oh?"
  
  "She told me once that only you had my mind, and she was right, but I did not listen to her."
  
  Tyrion said nothing, instead gulping down the remains of the liquid in his cup, reaching out to the table to fill it again as his mind whirled and spun, something was amiss with his Lord father and he was terrified, absolutely terrified. He racked his brains for what it might be, every scenario leading back to one, horrible conclusion.
  
  "Do you remember what I said to you when you left my camp in the Riverlands?"
  
  Ice formed in Tyrion"s gut, of course he remembered, Shae....
  
  "I told you not to take that whore to court and what did you do Tyrion? You took her to court. Do you delight in crossing me Tyrion, knowing what I do to people who cross me?"
  
  Tyrion said nothing, his heart already breaking, knowing that Shae was most likely dead, hopefully her end was swift, not, not like the last time he...
  
  "No you don"t do it to delight in crossing me do you Tyrion? You do it to spite me, to assert that you are your own man and that your Lord Father is a colossal cunt..."
  
  Tyrion could not control himself this time, spitting out the mouthful of the sweetened and flavoured wine, gasping in surprise, and suddenly realising that it was worse, far worse than he suspected.
  
  "Well today is your lucky day Tyrion, as it is for your whore, in that I have need of that clever and oh so devious mind of yours, and from the reports I have had you have not made a fool of yourself with your whore, you have been discreet. At least I can give the pair of you that...."
  
  "My Lord Father is too kind" he replied, he had been goaded to say it but he did not regret saying it either, for his father was a colossal cunt as far as he was concerned.
  
  "Don"t try my patience Tyrion, what if it had become know that a whore was a maid to Lady Sansa, the insult to the Starks would be immense. But I will leave this be for now" he glared at him, eye"s unwavering in their intensity, their message clear, I forgive this for now...
  
  "You"ve been here as Hand of the King, you know the perilous state of the Crown, we are in a war that currently cannot be solved by purely military means with the North and the Riverlands, Stannis still broods on Dragonstone - broken but not defeated, Dorne menaces and simmers in anger to the south, despite sending my granddaughter to placate them. The Iron Born ravage our coasts, the treasury is bare because of the years that wastrel Robert Baratheon spent on the Iron Throne, and Daenerys Targaryen has birthed three dragons. Need I spell it out in more detail for you Tyrion?"
  
  "No, no father...." he replied, his father was many things, but he was always a man in full grasp of the facts, and the facts were damming enough as it was.
  
  "We have an idiot King and his equally idiotic mother ruling; Jamie is captured and held by the Starks and to quote their words "Winter is coming". It"s going to be up to us to fix things Tyrion, you always wanted power, wanted something to show your worth? Well here"s your chance, you are going to help me put thing right." his father said, holding his gaze with his steely green eyes, raising his cup in ironic salute to him.
  
  "Still a colossal cunt" he spoke in the sanctity of his own mind.
  
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  Tyrion IV
  
  Returning to his quarters he decided that bed was the best option, he had a splitting headache and his mind was frankly whirling from his most recent encounter with his Lord father. He had been allowed to take the jug of Sanjria with him, despite the scowl on his father"s face at him borrowing the drink. As he lay abed be sipped at the sweet concoction, it was a truly refreshing drink he mused, mayhaps he would take to drinking it also, at least it was better than the sour Dornish piss he had been forced to drink during the later parts leading up to the battle of the Blackwater.
  
  His Lord father was clearly not himself, most likely overwrought form having to rescue the realm from the depredations of Robert Baratheon and now Joffrey, but still, times were definitely going to be interesting he knew. Heads were going to roll of that he was certain, but his father had been quick to warn him that plans were in place to deal with the most egregious offenders and that he was to do nothing to upset them.
  
  Not that he had planned to but still, finding out that Baelish had caused all this mess in the first place and that Varys was a secret Targaryen sympathiser was a revelation. Even more revealing was the fact that both men still had their heads attached to their shoulders. Varys he had come to respect somewhat but Littlefinger was a greasy little cunt, a description his Lord father had used, and one which he agreed with wholeheartedly. He had to admit his father"s language was a tad earthier than he had ever experienced before, it must have been him spending time in the field surrounded by his Army, but still, it was disconcerting to hear the Old Lion cursing like the commonest of soldiers.
  
  Still it frankly shocked him that his father was letting either man live, but the new Hand of the King was insistent that both men had roles to play over the coming months, that he had long been aware of their activities and that it was not yet the time to end either of them.
  
  Tyrion knew that his father was a born plotter, having survived numerous attempts to oust him when he was Hand of the King to mad Aerys, but this, this was something else entirely. And of course Cersei, and by extension Joffrey were blithely unaware of a Targaryen traitor in their midst, nor of the fact that Baelish was robbing the Iron Throne blind. But then of course they were, that pair were too stupid to know any better, only interested in the unnecessary wielding of brute power and petty displays of cruelty respectively.
  
  He had wondered how his father would deal with Cersei and Joffrey, he had not broached the subject of course, but his father had told him anyway. Joffrey had not yet attained his majority so he could not reign as King, no matter how many temper tantrums he would throw, so for the next two years at least Tywin would rule through the Small Council. Cersei would be removed from Kings Landing as soon as a suitable and sufficiently distant husband could be found for her. He looked forwards to seeing how that pair would react to what father had in store for them, oh gods yes he did, to see Cersei and Joffrey humbled like that would be a joy to watch.
  
  Jamie was still father"s priority but he stressed that getting the realm back on an even keel first was his immediate task, and the damage done to the chances of retrieving Jamie thanks to the abuse Joffrey had inflicted on Lady Sansa had to be repaired first. Then, and only then would the matter of retrieving Jamie be resolved his father had promised.
  
  The issue of the war with the North and the Riverlands was another topic that his father was evasive on, simply stating that as he had mentioned that for now a military solution was impossible and hence a political solution would have to be arrived at. His father had admitted that even with the additional military power of the Tyrell"s he could for now not be fully certain of defeating Robb Stark.
  
  Here he had questioned if his father was keeping his Grace aware of this proposal to pursue a political settlement for now, given his Grace"s known military competency, well known lust for battle and expressed wish to have Robb Stark"s head mounted beside Lord Stark"s.
  
  His father had just glared at him for a moment before responding "and what do you think?" before immediately moving onto a new topic, effectively ending conversation on that matter.
  
  So while Littlefinger and Varys were to be left in situ for now, no doubt to either incriminate themselves further or to reveal more of their co conspirators, Pycelle was going to be "removed forthwith", an interesting choice of words by his father seeing as how only a Conclave of the Maesters of the Citadel could remove or appoint the Grand Maester of the Iron Throne. It seemed that Pycelle had forgotten that he was his father"s creature and not Cersei"s, a fatal mistake for the Grand Maester to make and one which Tyrion would not lose any sleep over. Would the walls of the Red Keep be splashed a deeper shade or red than they already were with all the blood of anyone in the way of Tywin Lannister he wondered, his father was certainly ruthless enough to do what he wanted and Cersei and Joffrey could do little in reality to stop him.
  
  Why did his father even bother with the fiction of the Iron Throne and Joffrey he wondered, not for the first time either, everyone knew he was going to be the power behind the throne, even when the Tyrell"s wed their beautiful Rose to that twisted weed Joffrey.
  
  Ah yes the Tyrell"s, what had father called them, oh yes "grasping, jumped up stewards", oh how the Old Lion despised their kind, but even his father knew that they had to work with them. That did not mean that they had to like them, or to roll over and show their soft underbellies to them, did his father even have a soft underbelly in the first place he wondered?
  
  The Tyrell"s and their grasping ways would have to be dealt with, and here Tywin was explicit, one of his duties as Chamberlin to the Hand was to arrange for the Royal Wedding and to get the Tyrell"s to pay for half the expenses involved. Here his father had warned him that this would involve dealing with Olenna Tyrell, the legendary Queen of Thorns, reminding him that the old woman was perhaps the shrewdest political operator in all of Westeros.
  
  At this he could not help himself and he said in mock horror "better than you my Lord father, the great Lion of Casterly rock!"
  
  His father"s reply had been deadpan "don"t mock me Tyrion; keep your mummers display for others. Olenna Tyrell has one goal and one goal only, to put a crown on Margery"s head, and she will let nothing, or no one stand in her way, don"t forget that. The Tyrell"s have agreed to help us, but not out of the kindness of their hearts. We need them thanks to your dear sister and his Grace; our job will be making sure that they don"t swallow us all."
  
  "Lions are tough old beasts to eat, or so I"m told, Olenna Tyrell surely has barely a tooth left him her Crone"s head!"
  
  "Tyrion..." his father had warned him, he knew when the claws of the Old Lion were being unsheathed so he ceased his humorous comments, though he quite liked the comment about Olenna Tyrell, he might keep that for later use.
  
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  What would you did if you woke up in Westeros and discovered you had been subjected to an enforced gender change? See the adventures of The Littlest Lioness for all the delightful details...
  Ever fancied being Tywin Lannister? Well now you can find out, courtesy of The Lion in Winter
  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Bronn II
  
  After his escapades with the Kingsguard Bronn had little to do so he went for a wander around the buildings that made up the so called Keep of the Hand. It was not a real keep as such for the walls were not high and nor were they topped with any battlements or anything like that, merely serving to enclose the space and provide some privacy. Rich folk liked their privacy he had come to realise, not for them one room cottages with the farm animals crowding round, no, nice spacious rooms and places to stroll and walk, with sweet smelling flowers to hide the stench of Kings Landing. The gardens of the Tower of the Hand were not as extensive as the gardens of the Red Keep, but they were big enough to his mind, lawns and flower beds and trees, a shaded pathway twisting around the stand of trees at the far end of the garden.
  
  Bloody stupid design though he mused, anyone could throw grapples over the wall and not be seen, bad, bad idea having trees up against that wall there. Not for the first time did he find himself fretting for the safety of one of his employers, after all they were the source of the gold that lined his pockets, And Tywin Lannister was the biggest source of gold in all of Westeros, he was even rumoured to shit gold! Not that he had any intention of poking through any of the privies here to find out; being paid in Gold Dragons was fine enough for him. And being paid up front with a "signing on" bonus, now that was even better as far as he was concerned, along with the gift of fine new armour and with a swanky wardrobe to go with it, plus quarters in the Tower of the Hand. Yes life had really turned up for the good he mused as he wandered about, getting used to Red Cloaks saluting him as "Ser Bronn", yes he could definitely get used to this.
  
  And the promise from Lord Tywin of a Lordship, a Castle and a high born bride? Well that was just more good fortune piled upon that he had already earned, and Lannister"s always paid their debts, as they were so fond of reminding everyone.
  
  But for now he was content to just wander about and, well "look important", no Kingsguards were allowed to enter the Keep of the Hand, neither were the King for that matter, everyone else required the express permission of the Hand to enter his lair.
  
  The no king or Kingsguard ruling made Bronn"s face twist into an involuntary smile, with Jamie Lannister captured and Barriston Selmy dismissed there was no one in the Kingsguard to be fearful of. They were just jumped up bully boys, especially Trant and Blout, and he had enjoyed removing the Stark girl from their clutches. She was a looker was that girl, and sure to be a beauty beyond compare in a year or two, slim and tall, and only likely to get taller as she grew. Nice set of firm teats on her, more than a decent handful for a maid just flowered he had noticed. Lords and Knights would be lining up ten deep like flies to shite to get a chance to tup her flame haired cunny soon enough.
  
  However the Stark lass appeared to him be a bit dim if he was honest, though the Imp did not think so, being convinced that the girl was acting, well if that was the case she deserved to be on the stage touring Westeros and not locked up in the Tower of the Hand. He respected the little Lannister Lord, he had earned good pay and had not had to work too hard in his service, and his stint as Lord Commander of the Gold Cloaks had made him a pretty packet as that bunch of crooks were smart enough to kick enough gold upstairs to him to keep him happy and not overly bothered in rooting out corruption. Oh he had been required to hang a few of the more greedy ones, along with the stupid ones who had refused to cross his palms with coin, and he had made a good enough show of sending a few to the Wall, but other than that it had been an easy job.
  
  This new role as Tywin Lannister"s fixer, well didn"t the Great Lion have the Mountain and bunch of cutthroats for that already? Ach, the Hand probably wanted someone with a bit of restraint and tact for the kind of work he needed done in Kings Landing, not beasts who would just slaughter everything all round them with little provocation.
  
  For several days now his time was filled with little to do besides train and hang around the Keep of the Hand. Early one evening he was relaxing on a stone bench pondering his life when a Red Cloak had approached him and informed him that the Hand of the King wanted to speak to him at once. It looked like he was required to earn his pay once again, no matter, so far the jobs had been easy enough, and he had been dealing with cunts he did not like. He may have to deal with people he actually liked some day but such was the nature of a sellswords life, anointed Knight or not.
  
  As he followed the Red Cloak he noticed a platoon of Red Cloaks practising in the courtyard, no fancy palace troops were these lads, no, they were hardened fighters, professionals. Every one of them fitted with a solid shield, a good steel sword and the distinctive lamellar armour, made of overlapping plates across their torsos and as pauldrons, along with a gorget at their necks. It was easy to tell ranks in the Lannister forces also, the more gold on the armour the higher up a man was in the ranks. The permanent Red Cloaks were led by professional officers also, they may have been minor nobility but none attained any rank above that of Lieutenant without proving themselves, and every man jack of them looked like a tough son of a bitch. The Lannister"s were rich enough to keep over twenty thousand men under arms on a permanent basis, along with a thousand heavy lances and about double that number of light cavalry.
  Lord Tywin had five thousand Red Cloaks in Kings Landing along with two hundred heavy and four hundred light cavalry, and that was before you counted the Men at Arms and Knights of his banner men, say add another thousand foot and three hundred mounted men. It felt good to be on a side with so much good steel and so much gold he smugly thought as he ascended the steps of the Tower of the Hand.
  
  He was received into the Great Lion"s solar, again the man was writing, but at his entrance he stopped and stood up. Motioning him to join him in the courtyard the Great Lion strode out into the open air.
  
  "Pycelle, he needs to go away" said the Hand of the King in a voice as conversational as if they were discussing the weather.
  
  "Consider it done" Bronn responded, already thinking on how he would carry out his Lord"s instructions.
  
  "Return here in four hours time, I will provide you with a map of the secret tunnels that you will use to gain entrance to the Grand Maester"s quarters, you will return here immediately afterwards and return this map to me, is that understood?"
  
  "Yes my Lord."
  
  "Good...Pycelle may have a whore with him."
  
  "That will not be a problem my Lord."
  
  "I did not think so, by the way, I believe you already had a confrontation of sorts in the Grand Maester"s quarters when my son was Hand of the King?"
  
  "That"s right."
  
  "It was recounted to me that my son told one of his Mountain Clan barbarians to feed the Grand Maesters cock to the goats, to which the half witted savage responded "there are no goats here half man"?"
  
  "Aye, that"s how I remember it anyway my Lord."
  
  "Good, this time you can feed the Grand Maester his own cock."
  
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  Sansa III
  
  A few days passed as her scars and wounds healed under the ministrations of Maester Braddock and Septa Elenah, and she knew peace and quiet, at least as much as one could in the Red Keep and the Tower of the Hand. For there were comings and goings at all hours, and the Red Cloaks drilled all day and patrolled all night, both outside and inside the Tower of the Hand, and servants and scribes scuttled about with purpose.
  
  Shae and her two new ladies in waiting, two Westerlands girls called Fiyona and Breyna, daughters of Knightly houses sworn directly to Casterly rock attended to her every need, not that she had many, she spent all day in bed for the first two days before the Maester let her get out and walk around, and it was a few day later still that he pronounced himself satisfied with her healing. The scars that crisscrossed her body were fading rapidly, though the Maester had warned her that not all of them would fade away entirely and that she would be left with permanent marks. She did not care; she would wear these scars with pride for the rest of her days, reminders to never be a stupid girl again, reminders of the part she played in the death of her father.
  
  She was she realised a very, very different person from the silly little girl who had left Winterfell with nothing but fantasies in her head, and for that she was both angry and sad. Sad that the world was such a cruel place and angry that her parents had not prepared her for the truth of the world.
  
  It had been just after Joffrey had showed her the row of spikes; her father"s severed head first on a long line of Stark guards and retainers, when the Hound had been returning her to her quarters she had overheard some courtiers whispering and gossiping. She had not heard all of it, but she had heard enough, they were laughing at her and how she had betrayed her father to Queen Cersei, and that she must be the stupidest girl on Planetos to have trusted Queen Cersei. And to know that she had once trusted those courtiers, thought them her friends, for she had accepted their smiles and words as truthful and this left a sour taste in her mouth and a lump she could barely swallow past in her throat.
  
  That night she had a dreadful nightmare, one that she could not wake from despite wanting to almost from the moment it began, and one which had haunted her dreams ever since. She would find herself in the great courtyard in Winterfell, but it was a deserted ruin, a light snow was falling from leaden skies, and before her stood all of her family. Her father holding his severed head in his hands, her mother with a gash across her throat so deep she could see bone gleam in its red depths, Robb and Jon ghostly pale, bleeding from multiple stab wounds, Bran standing sightless and still, his eyes milk white, Arya with her face replaced by a grinning skull, Little Rikon with bloody holes covering his chest.
  
  All of them stood mute and staring at her, all with accusing looks on their faces, and in her mind a terrible whispering, growing into a roaring crescendo, babbling and blaming her for the destruction of House Stark. She would cry and weep and deny their accusations, running to each and shaking them, sobbing, beating her fists against them, but they did not move, only standing mute and uncaring to her protests.
  
  And every morn when she would wake she knew with an ever greater certainty that everything was her fault, that she in her stupidity had caused this and would go on to cause the destruction of her family. That her inability to see the world for what it was and that her foolishness in believing people was the root of all the evil that had befallen her and her family.
  
  Her inability to see Joffrey for what he was, her foolish trusting of Cersei, all the mistakes she had made, all the things she had done without for once even considering what the real impact of them was. This burned her mind, blazing and shining a cruel light upon things she would have rather not seen in her own behaviour. The world was not a fantasy of handsome knights and blushing maidens, balls and tourneys, no it was betrayal, hatred, cruelty and a savage game played for the highest stakes, one"s life.
  
  And she had come south without an ounce of sense or credulity, a stupid, stupid girl...
  
  Thus she should suffer for her mistakes, it was only right, it was the only way she could atone for what she had done. But she would not welcome death, though it would be inevitable and would probably come soon, yet she resolved that none would see her true self, the new Sansa that had been reborn from the scourging of the old. Joffrey"s beatings had flensed the soul of that pathetic girl she once was as surely as the flaying knives of the Bolton"s stripped the flesh from their victims.
  
  She would learn, she would know, and even if all was for naught, she would understand, she would know of the Game of Thrones, of the players and their motives. So she let the beatings continue, never let slip the mask she wore, that hated shell of what she had been previously. None would see her new self, none would suspect that she was no longer Sansa Stark, the foolish northern girl who seemed to know nothing. She would observe, she would listen, she would speculate, and she would come to some understanding, and it was not all that difficult, all she had to do was realise that nobody actually cared for anyone else and that the only thing that drove people were their own selfish desires.
  
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  Tyrion V
  
  Despite thinking that his Lord father might have given him some few more days to recover he had been mistaken, barely a day later a squire had called for him at an ungodly early hour and requested his presence before the Hand of the King. He made it to his father"s Solar in time to see the Old Lion breaking his fast, reading a document while he ate.
  
  "Sit, eat" he commanded without looking up, so Tyrion did as he was commanded, waiting for a servant to place a plate of food before him, bacon, eggs and fried potatoes, along with a mug of small beer and bread rolls so fresh that that were still warm from the ovens that baked them. His father was eating something that looked like dried porridge to his eyes, no, maybe flakes of toasted wheat and dried fruit, with some gloopy white stuff.
  
  "Granola and yogurt, good for the digestion and keeps the humours balanced throughout the morning" his father replied to his unsaid question "the Lorathi apparently swear by it, it"s not bad tasting and does not leave me bloated in the morning like other fare."
  
  The mention of where Shae was from sent his manhood leaping in the confines of his trousers. He had been without anything to bury his prick into for nigh on a sennight now and his stones were feeling heavy with seed. Anymore delay and he would have to relieve the pressure himself, something he was loathe to do, for he ached for Shae"s tight cunny to enclose his manhood in its velvety, warm depths, for its wet friction to milk his seed from his balls.
  "Tyrion?"
  
  "What, oh erh sorry father, what was it you said."
  
  His father glared at him; did that man have any other way of looking at one apart form skullfucking you with his eyes?
  
  "Here" his father tossed something at him, he caught the object and turned it over in his hand, it was a golden badge, a hand in a wreath of leaves. The symbol of senior staff of the Hand of the King, a badge that indicated that they acted and spoke for the Hand, and thus by extension for the King. Around his father"s neck was the golden chain made up of linked hands that denoted him as the Hand of the King, and a little tweak of jealously flared in his mind. His father wore the chain of office well, like he was born to it, on him it had always been just that little bit too big for him when he wore it, threatening to fall over a shoulder and end up as a sash as opposed to a chain.
  
  "Thank you father" he replied, supposing he had to say something in response to this.
  
  "Don"t thank me, it"s not a gift, it"s a responsibility, do you know where the office of the Chamberlin of the Hand is?"
  
  "Yes father."
  
  "Good, you will work from there; your staff is assembled, get your feet under the table and seek out the Tyrell"s and make your introductions. Get Olenna Tyrell to agree to half the costs of this dammed wedding, that"s your first priority."
  
  "Surely I should be talking to Lord Mace Tyrell, as Lord Paramount of the Reach?" he could just not help himself, to tweak the Old Lion"s tail just a tiny bit.
  
  "Tyrion" his father growled in response.
  
  "Yes, alright father, just a jape, just a jape..."
  
  The Old Lion glared at him in silence, he broke eye contact when it was obvious that Tywin would not and tucked in, demolishing the remains of the food on his plate. His father ate his own food methodically, sipping at what looked like milk, noticing his gaze Tywin said "Soaked and ground Tiger nuts, boiled water with a little added honey, better than milk and far safer in Kings Landing to drink than milk."
  
  "Father, your diet is a thing of wonder in itself! I had no idea you were a man of such varied tastes!"
  
  "I look after what I eat Tyrion, and moderate what I drink, I intend to remain as fit and healthy as I can, I cannot afford to be old and sick, not now, and not ever...."
  
  Oh, had he touched a raw nerve in the Old Lion, his father was he was forced to admit, a fine specimen of a man for his age, in fact the Old Lion of Castrerly rock looked better than many men half his age. Tyrion idly wondered if his father"s cock still stood as proud as it once did, he had heard tales that one"s cock stand softened as one got older, unable to hold the rigid attention that was such a vital part of the pleasures of the flesh. Was this the reason that Tywin Lannister now ate all manner of weird and wonderful foods? No he thought sourly, such softening would not dare afflict Tywin Lannister, he was sure his Lord father was able to attain a cock stand as big and hard as when he was ten and eight years old. And was that not a strange subject for a son to be considering, the hardness or otherwise of his father"s erections, perhaps his own nobly proportioned member was a gift from the Old Lion"s blood, it would be the only good thing his father had previously given him.
  
  "Tyrion? Your mind is wandering again?"
  
  "Of sorry father, I have much on my mind."
  
  "I hope so Tyrion, you will have quite a bit to do over the next few weeks, all requests for coin for the Royal wedding will come to you first for approval before they go to the Master of Coin for payment."
  
  "Hrmm, you will make me so popular with both Houses in this marriage father, I cannot thank you enough...."
  
  As usual the Old Lion simply glared at him before saying "that other business that we discussed?"
  
  His father spoke these words softly, but not gently, no, never that, for he could hear the steel in his father"s voice, the threat of the Lions claws behind every word.
  
  "Yes father?"
  
  "We will talk further, you will dine with me tonight, and should you need to discuss anything, you know where my solar is."
  
  "Aye, I recall it was once mine, not too long ago."
  
  "Who knows, maybe you can have it again, when I"m done with it....."
  
  Tyrion gulped, his father never made threats that he did not intend to carry out, he rapidly excused himself and made his way to his office, greeting Pod who he found standing outside the door, along with six Red Cloaks.
  
  He raised an eyebrow at Pod.
  
  "Your Lord father insisted that you are guarded at all times, the number of Red Cloaks will be doubled if you have to leave the Tower of the Hand."
  
  "Well, it seems that my Lord father has deemed the small amount of Lannister flesh that I possess is now worthy of protection according to my rank Pod!"
  
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  Sansa IV
  
  A few more days passed and she continued to feel better, at least physically, though her old rooms in the Tower of the Hand held far too many painful memories for her, for now she would have to accept that she had no means of changing her circumstances.
  
  And as to why she was being treated so, her new Ladies in waiting were no help at all to her, neither were Maester Braddock nor Septa Elenah. The two blonde girls just tittered like the empty headed little birds that they were and the Maester and Septa were unhelpful, either avoiding or refusing to answer her questions. Shae could not speculate either, her quarters had been also moved into the Tower of the Hand but she claimed to be none the wiser as to the true motives for her new, but more luxurious imprisonment.
  
  She wondered if she could trust Shae, and at that thought a sour bubble of laugher nearly escaped her mouth, trust? She doubted if she would be able to trust anyone ever again, and her Ladies in Waiting, the Maester and the Septa, they were all creatures of the Old Lion and likely to be spying on her. Shae, well best of she treated Shae as if she was also reporting on her back to the Lord Hand, it was safer that way, simpler.
  
  She suspected she knew the true reasons for her newfound safety and gilded cage, Lord Tywin knew her value as a hostage and a piece to be moved as he saw fit on the great board that was the Game of Thrones. Before she would have been naive and unaware as to why she had been rescued, now, well now she knew better.
  
  But still it was something of a surprise when a dressmaker, two of her assistants and a mountain of different types of cloth and material arrived to her room one morning after she had broken her fast. To the squeals of delight from her Ladies in Waiting the dressmaker had announced that Lord Tywin had commissioned her to make a whole new wardrobe for Lady Sansa more appropriate to her station and that equally her Ladies in Waiting and Ladies Maid also needed new garments to match their Lady"s station.
  
  And so passed a good part of a day with the dressmaker as she, the two blondes and Shae were measured and samples of cloth displayed and selected, and patterns discussed. Fiyona and Breyna were of course all for the latest Westerlander styles and colours, but interestingly the dressmaker, a stern looking woman called Chayanne had called a halt to the twits flights of fancy by reminding them that Lady Sansa was a Lady of House Stark and that her clothes and colours should reflect this fact, but with some accommodating of the styles of Kings Landing and its climate. Sansa shared a silent glance of thank you with the woman while Shae just looked on with a smirk on her face.
  
  Her current clothes were examined and quickly taken away to be speedily altered for the time being, she was growing out of them rapidly as she felt herself stretch and grow, and not only upwards. Her hips were now a much more womanly shape and her breast"s seemed to grow heavier by the day, but thankfully they showed no sign of sagging. A thatch of sparse hair the same colour as on her head was sprouting between her legs, she knew all of this was because she had flowered and was no longer a girl but was now a maid. She had seen the hot glances that some men had started giving her, especially when Joffrey had stripped and beat her in the Throne room, and they frightened her, to see men"s faces twist so, to become leering beasts. For she would have had little protection against them should one of them decide to dishonour her, but now she knew her worth to Lord Tywin, at least so long as Ser Jamie was alive.
  
  Then finally all the tumult had died down and the dressmaker left, promising that her first two dresses would be ready in four days time, and that the first of her altered dresses could be expected before nightfall.
  
  A full wardrobe had been commissioned, from night clothes, small clothes, dresses for day and evening wear, riding and hawking leathers, shoes, cloaks and shawls and everything else that one could possibly think of. Shae, Fiyona and Breyna were also provided for, though not as lavishly as she had been, and the day had been a pleasant diversion, one that would have filled the old Sansa with as much squealing and empty headed delight as it did her two Ladies in Waiting. But she knew better, there was sure to be a price for all these baubles, and she was certain that she knew what this price was going to be.
  
  Sansa and Shae shared a light meal as they sat on her balcony and sun began to set in the west, turning the skies a deep gold before a blood red crept up the sky to replace the gold, the colours oddly prophetic she mused, given her situation. They sat in silence and watched the sky darken slowly from the west, seeing lights begin to sparkle in Kings Landing and in the Red Keep as torches and candles were lit to banish the gloom. Behind them a servant let themselves in and lit several candles before leaving, bowing to them as she left.
  
  "My Lady, cheer up, you will soon have wonderful new dresses and gowns to wear" said Shae, but Sansa could hear the forced cheer in the foreign girls voice.
  
  "And to what end Shae? Why has the great Lord Tywin, Hand of the King, spent so much on a traitor"s daughter?"
  
  Shae did not answer in the darkness; it was now so dark that the girls face was unreadable in the gloom.
  
  She debated in her head what to say next, empty platitudes, some meaningless courtesies, or how she felt? Deciding that in the end she had little to lose anyway as no matter what she thought her fate was now not her own she replied "the Lannister"s control the crown, I escaped one betrothal but I am being prettied up for another. I will be paraded around like a prize heifer at a market for all to see and bid on, and the one who gives the most advantage to House Lannister by marrying me will claim me. For the Lannister"s always pay their debts Shae."
  
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  Ever fancied being Tywin Lannister? Well now you can find out, courtesy of The Lion in Winter
  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Petyr I
  
  Summoned to the Tower of the Hand, where since the battle of the Blackwater all meetings of the Small Council had taken place; as the Hand refused to use the Small Council chambers adjacent to the Throne room, Petyr Baelish was equally concerned and delighted.
  
  Oh he had expected changes when the new Hand had arrived, but the wholesale changes that Tywin Lannister had instigated were troubling to say the least. The Old Lion had seemed not to pry into his dealings until now, and he was a little nervous. Not that he expected that the Old Lion had discovered anything, for he would be dead if Tywin Lannister had even suspected a tenth of what he had managed to accomplish while Master of Coin. And the Old Lion seemed fixated on showing his claws and growling at the idiot boy King and his equally stupid mother, all good as far as he was concerned, he was sure he could play this to his advantage no matter who came out on top in the end. Of course in the end he was the one who he planned to come out on top, specifically to sit atop that towering monstrosity of melted and twisted swords that dominated the Throne room.
  
  That ultimate goal was still a few years away yet, but he could afford to wait, nobody suspected his ambitions and he was a patient man. And yet who would sit beside him as his Queen as he sat atop the Iron Throne? In his early days he had always assumed it would be Catelyn Stark, but every since Ned Stark had come south to be the Hand of that drunkard Robert Baratheon he knew it would be Catelyn"s daughter Sansa Stark. The first time he had caught sight of her he had known, with a clarity that he had often experienced as he had plotted and schemed, that Catelyn had been replaced by her daughter in his fevered fantasies.
  
  This was why he had acted so swiftly to lay that path of breadcrumbs that even Ned Stark, dullard that he was, had been able to follow, and dear Catelyn had been so wonderfully stupid in arresting the Imp, why he could not have planned things better if he had tried! And the boy King, praise be to the Seven who he did not believe in for him being utterly unable to resist acting like a cunt and for chopping off Ned Stark"s head.
  
  Still, it had pained him to see that idiot Joffrey beat the girl, but so long as he did not kill her it suited his plans, a beaten and broken Sansa Stark would be so easier to control, to mould into the women who would be his Queen.
  
  But to his annoyance before he could grasp Sansa Stark away from Joffrey after the Tyrell engagement had been brokered the Old Lion had pounced and now had the Stark girl locked up tight in his den, with nobody allowed to see the her without his permission. Which the Hand of the King had yet to grant to anyone from what Petyr could see, an annoying state of affairs if he was honest.
  
  Oh he knew what the Old Lion was up to; Sansa was the key to the North, her hand in marriage could directly or indirectly end the war with the North. Something he was keen to avoid at all costs, for without the chaos of war how could he use it to climb? Stannis was no longer a threat as far as he was concerned, with the Royal fleet destroyed and his banner men decimated by the battle of the Blackwater all Stannis could do was sulk and scowl from Dragonstone. The Old Lion would get around to dealing with Stannis in time he was sure, but he needed to keep the focus on the North and the Riverlands, and the Crown and the Starks engaged in fighting each other.
  
  Being admitted to the Tower of the Hand he was swiftly conveyed into the presence of Lord Tywin, and the Old Lion was usual hard at work behind the great desk of the Hand. Baelish sat before the desk as he was bidden and Lord Tywin stood up, pouring him a goblet of wine, before pouring himself a goblet and sitting back down behind his desk.
  
  "I have a problem that I believe you could be of assistance with Lord Baelish" the Hand said in that low, slightly rumbling voice of his.
  
  "I am yours to command my Lord Hand."
  
  "Lady Arryn has retreated to the Eyrie and has in effect ignored the Iron Throne both sides in its conflict with the Starks and their Tully allies. While it is of course good that she has not sided with her nephew, her continued withdrawal from the affairs of the Seven Kingdoms is regrettable."
  
  "Indeed my Lord Hand, Lady Arryn fled Kings Landing in fear of her son"s life after the death of her Lord Husband. She saw enemies in every corner, daggers from every shadow."
  
  "The woman left Kings Landing with unseemly, nay hysterical haste Lord Baelish, never a good sign. She is safe in the Eyrie now but needs to declare for the Crown or there will be consequences for this, neutrality...."
  
  "And how may I be of assistance in this my Lord Hand" he asked, his mind calculating and plotting the possible outcomes, the advantages he could extract from this.
  
  "Her son Lord Robyn is young, and a sickly child from what I hear, had his Lord father not unfortunately passed away the heir to the Vale was destined to foster with me at Casterly Rock."
  
  "I had heard tell of the same my Lord Hand" Petyr replied his face and voice neutral, it had been Robert Baratheon and Jon Arryn"s stupidity in suggesting Robin"s fostering, respectively with the Old Lion or with Stannis on Dragonstone that had been the first spark that had enabled him to ignite this so called "War of the Five Kings", though it was only four Kings now. Ah, how easy it had been to finally get Lysa to poison Jon Arryn, once he had stoked the fires of her terror at losing that useless fruit of his loins. Though the lad was his he cared naught for the child, being purely a means of manipulating and controlling mad, deluded Lysa.
  
  "You fostered at Riverrun and during Jon Arryn"s time as Hand both he and his wife spoke highly of your talents and of your friendship with Lord Hoster"s children. You have risen high in the service of the Iron Throne, mayhaps you can rise even higher should you continue to display the same levels of competence and loyalty to Robert"s son as you did to Robert."
  
  Petyr had to hide a smile and schooled his face to impassivity, the Old Lion in his arrogance was likely to prove as easy to manipulate as Eddard Stark and Jon Arryn. The fearsome reputation of the Lannister Lord seemed to have been overstated; for he seemed far less perceptive than his reputation indicated. Maybe the strain of dealing with his imbecile of a grandson and his shrew of a daughter was proving too much for Lord Tywin, maybe this was dulling his legendary skills as a player of the Game of Thrones?
  
  It did not matter to him; he had disposed of two Hands already by using the poisonous bait of the rumours surrounding the true sire of Queen Cersei"s children, what was disposing of a third Hand with the same secret?
  
  "As a reward for your services to the Crown you are to be awarded the Lordship of Harenhall, however given as how it is currently occupied by forces in revolt from the Iron Throne there is no need for you to lay claim physically to its lands and the castle itself. But for now you will assume its title and the status and standing that goes with such a Lordship."
  
  "My Lord Hand, that is far too generous an offer!" he protested, while Harenhall was a ruin that bled money from whatever family had the misfortune to hold its Lordship, it would do to suite his purposes. Though he would tear it down and use the stone to build a much more appropriately sized keep on the site, all that fused stone and wrecked, tottering towers would be pulled down and from it a new castle would arise, Mockingbird Hall.
  
  "It is not, and the crown does not give you this reward just for services rendered, it gives you the necessary position and status to enable you to formally ask for the hand of Lysa Arryn in marriage."
  
  "My Lord?" he asked, injecting just the right amount of shock and incredulity into his voice.
  
  "Lady Arryn has exhausted my patience Lord Baelish, it is high time that someone who knows what they are doing becomes Regent for Robyn Arryn, and rules the Vale in the best interests of both the Vale and the Crown, would you not agree Lord Baelish?"
  
  "I, I would my Lord Hand" he replied, his mind spinning and calculating the glorious possibilities that now lay ahead of him, for he realised that the Old Lion was not the Hand who had served Aerys the Mad, no the Old Lion was a pathetic, mangy old thing that would soon fall.
  
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  Sansa V
  
  Her existing clothes were returned to her the next day, only slightly later than promised and they fit her much better as expected, and she was allowed to walk around the garden of the Keep of the Hand, but again only with a pair of Lannister guards in attendance. She found this ridiculous, was she going to try and escape? And where could she escape to, outside the Keep of the Hand was the Red Keep, outside that was Kings Landing and she was a thousand miles from the nearest Northern forces in the Riverlands.
  
  But then Shae had heard that the Kingsguard and even the King himself was barred from entering the Tower of the Hand, and she wondered if such a thing was even possible? She knew Joffrey, she knew that he would not take well to such a slight, even from a man as powerful as his grandfather, and that sooner or later, and probably sooner, he would seek entrance to the Tower of the Hand.
  
  And as to why he would seek entrance to the Tower of the Hand? Why to continue beating her, and to remove her from her present lodgings and return her to Maegors Holdfast proper. She knew that this was what was going to happen, she was sure of it, for none would be able to stop Joffrey in his madness and temper when he wanted to beat her to appease his whims. She wondered how Lord Tywin would react to this, and what he would do, it would certainly be interesting to see she mused, a calculating part of her brain that she had never knew she had evaluating the relative strengths and weaknesses of each in any potential struggle over her.
  
  But for now she strolled around the gardens with Shae, enjoying the sunshine and the scent of the flowers, sitting down on a stone bench Sansa opened the book she had been carrying and started to read. The book was volume one of Archmaester Gyldayn"s Fire and Blood and she was reading the chapter called "The Sons of the Dragon". She enjoyed the work, it was far more detailed than anything else she had read before and as the copy was from the Great Library of the Red Keep it was superbly illustrated by a Maester Wheatley, which really helped the history come alive for her.
  
  So lost was she in the book that it took Shae tugging on her arm before she realised that there was some sort of a commotion going on, raised voices could be heard and Red Cloaks were running hither and thither. Her two guards instructed her to follow them at once and to hurry to the Tower of the Hand, Sansa obeyed them, entering the Tower via its rear door, a fortified entryway that was almost as impressively fortified as the front entrance, but which was smaller and was usually only used by staff and servants.
  
  Hurrying up the main stairs Sansa glimpsed through a window what was the cause of the commotion and she skidded to a stop, a gasp issuing from her mouth, fear climbing her spine like a touch of icy wind.
  
  For in the courtyard was King Joffrey, two Kingsguards and behind him a contingent of Stormlander knights, and barring them entry was a solid block of Red Cloaks. Joffrey was screaming at the top of his voice like the spoiled brat that he was, demanding entrance, the Captain of the Guard was calmly informing him that no one was allowed entrance to the Keep and Tower of the Hand without the Hand"s express permission.
  
  This Joffrey ignored and he made to push the Red Cloaks aside, who drew their weapons, sending Joffrey"s screams up by several notches and his arms flailing as he demanded entrance.
  
  Sansa moved closer to the window as she caught sight of Lord Tywin, accompanied by a dozen Red Cloaks emerge from one of the ancillary buildings that flanked the courtyard, it was a building containing records and scrolls if she remembered correctly.
  
  "What is the matter here?" she heard the Lord of Casterly rock demand in a clear, commanding voice.
  
  Joffrey launched into an immediate tirade about how as she was a "traitor" she should not be treated with any respect and that she was to be returned to his custody at once and that he wanted the heads of all the Red Cloaks who had barred him access.
  
  "The Lady Sansa is under the wardenship of the Hand of the King as her father is dead and her brother is temporarily unavailable to assume the role of a male relative. Given Lady Sansa"s status her quarters in the Tower of the Hand are much more appropriate than the quarters that she had been assigned in Maegor"s Holdfast."
  
  "I want her returned to me!" snarled Joffrey "I want that traitorous northern cunt returned to me NOW!"
  
  Something caused Lord Tywin to twist his head to look in her direction, he did not even search for her, it was like he knew that she was watching from this very window.
  
  "Lady Sansa, please come down here" the Old Lion commanded her, his voice raised to carry from the courtyard below. So, this was where the Old Lion turned her over to the King again, any foolish hopes she had entertained of being protected by Lannister"s were bile in her throat. She turned away from the window and retraced her steps down the wide steps of the staircase, her head held high, her face a mask of calm; she would know no fear, for she was a Stark of Winterfell.
  
  Exiting the main door"s she strode over to Lord Tywin with the confident, regal and unhurried steps of the great Lady she would have grown into had things been different. If only the cost of becoming what her mother had always told her she would be had not been so high, if only her mother and Septa had told her the truth of the world instead of the stupid tales of heroic knights and courtly love.
  
  Joffrey and the two Kingsguard were standing before Lord Tywin, but all were surrounded by Lannister Red Cloaks, Sansa wondered idly if the idiot boy who thought himself a King even gave a second"s thought to the disparity of arms on display?
  
  For the briefest of seconds she thought she saw something of amusement, something of satisfaction in the ice green eyes of the Old Lion, but it was gone, indeed she was even sure it had been there in the first place, after she curtsied.
  
  "My Lord Hand, your Grace" she intoned, deliberately reversing the normal precedent of greetings that would be expected in this situation, a tiny rebellion against what she expected to happen.
  
  "Thank you my Lord Hand" sneered Joffrey "I will return Lady Sansa to her quarters in Maegor"s Holdfast, a much more appropriate situation for the daughter of a traitor!"
  
  "You will do no such thing" Tywin Lannister replied, his voice conveying not one iota of emotion, she barely saw the fingers of his right hand flick out but she heard the result of his action.
  
  Hundreds of blades were aired in almost perfect unison by the massed Red Cloaks, Sansa noticed that the contingent of Stormland"s Knights that Joffrey had brought along also drew their weapons but none of them budged an inch to assist their King.
  
  "What? What if the meaning of this!" Screamed Joffrey, his hand dropping to his sword "You dare air steel in the presence of your KING?"
  
  "Your Grace, you are in no danger, you are merely being educated as to certain matters" replied Tywin Lannister, his voice almost sounding bored.
  
  "What? What matters?" demanded Joffrey, petulance lacing his voice.
  
  Lord Tywin turned to her and took two steps until he was towering over her, he bent down slightly and whispered "please forgive me for this my Lady, it will be over quickly" and before she could register any fright he grabbed her by the shoulders, spun her around and she felt a blade tear her dress from her neck to the small of her back. His hands grabbed the material of her dress and wrenched it down and away, exposing the mortified and scarred flesh of her back for all to see, involuntary sobs escaping her mouth, despite her humiliation at this expression of weakness.
  
  "You ordered your Kingsgaurd to do that?" Tywin roared, she nearly fell over in fright at the sheer power of his voice, the anger and rage that the timbre and volume of his words contained, her sobs cut off immediately by this.
  
  "She is a traitor!" laughed Joffrey, before his chortles of glee were cut off by a heavy, meaty sounding slap, Joffrey squealing in pain at this.
  
  "She is not a traitor you imbecile, she is the daughter of one of the oldest Houses in Westeros, whose father was Warden of the North and whose head you cut off without a trial. Remind me again what happened to the last King who executed the head of House Stark with no justification you stupid boy! WELL?"
  
  "I AM THE KING!! I CAN DO WHAT I WANT!" screamed Joffrey "I can...AHHHHH!"
  
  "YOU CAN WHAT BOY?" she heard Tywin ask menacingly, Shae placed a cloak taken from one of the guards and wrapped it around her, she had not even noticed her maid leaving her side and returning with the scarlet garment. "Cloaked in Lannister red" she mused as she turned around "I am making a habit of this..."
  
  Tywin had Joffrey grasped by the hair and the two Kingsguard were in the process of being disarmed by Red Cloaks, she kept her face neutral, while inside she thrilled at what she was witnessing, the unmistakable imprint of a hand reddened one side of Joffrey"s face.
  
  "You have not attained your majority boy, you cannot rule, and your continued protestations about being the King only prove that. When you attain your majority you can do what you want, until then you will do as I say, is that clear?"
  
  "I AM THE KING!!! I CAN DO WHAT I WANT!!!!!! Joffrey howled in indignation.
  
  "Any man who has to say "I am the King" is no King. Aerys thought he could do what he wanted; do you remember what happened to him?"
  
  Joffrey just scowled in response to Tywin, who ignored him by moving his gaze to the two Kingsguard.
  
  "As for you two "Kingsguard"" Tywin spat out the words like they were acid in his mouth as his Red Cloaks removed the helmets from Blout and Trant and forced them to their knees "You beat a little, defenceless girl at the orders of a boy who is not King, who has not attained his majority, who does not yet rule the Seven Kingdoms. The rule of the Iron Throne is through the Regency of the Small Council, not through the person of his Grace."
  
  Tywin released Joffrey suddenly and strode towards where the two Kingsguard were being held on their knees, the boy screaming at his retreating back "I"ll have you KILLED for this!!!"
  
  Tywin halted and turned around slowly, his eyes narrowed to mere slits and Sansa felt an involuntary chill spasm through her, such was the intensity of the glare that Lord Tywin gave his grandson.
  
  "Many men better than you have tried boy, and if you do try, you had better succeed the first time...." before he turned on his heel and drew his sword, Sansa took an involuntary gasp of breath, she knew what the Old Lion was about to do.
  
  "You pair are a disgrace to the institution of knighthood and the Kingsguard, bad enough that you beat a girl, but Lady Sansa is a Lady of one of the Great Houses of Westeros, never mind the current difficulties with her brother and as such she should be accorded the respect and privileges that her station and honour demands. As neither her father nor her brother are present to see justice done for the disgraceful impositions against her person that you have committed I will instead invoke my duty to act in loco parentis in the place of the head of House Stark."
  
  With that Tywin took two swift swipes, removing the heads of Ser Boris Blout and Ser Meryn Trant, before turning to Sansa and giving her a bow, straightened up he addressed her "My Lady, I believe it is the custom in the North for the man who pronounces the sentence to swing the sword, I hope you did not disapprove of me invoking that here?"
  
  "I, I do not my Lord Hand, I thank you for your justice" she replied, just about keeping her voice from wavering.
  
  Tywin bowed to her again, a Red Cloak handed him a cloth and he wiped his sword before returning it to his scabbard.
  
  "YOU!! You cannot do this!" Screamed Joffrey, shock written all over his face, and fear Sansa noticed, Joffrey was terrified.
  
  "I just did, go and cry to your mother if you want, I have a war to win and your kingdom to rule for you" replied Lord Tywin as he strolled past Joffrey"s raging form.
  
  A few steps beyond Joffrey he stopped and turned "Oh, and get some new Kingsguard"s boy, and be a bit more choosy about it than your father was!"
  
  With that Tywin Lannister strolled into the Tower of the Hand leaving Joffrey to fume and rage in the courtyard, before he let out a short scream of frustration and bolted from the courtyard, the Red Cloaks parting to let him go.
  
  He never even bothered to take a look at the severed heads nor the bodies of his former Kingsguard she noted, and Sansa suddenly realised with a shudder that what she had witnessed was power, true power. And with that realisation came another, she had indeed seen the King of the Seven Kingdoms here today, but his name was not Joffrey Baratheon, no, his name was Tywin Lannister.
  
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  Varys I
  
  Seating himself at the table in the Hand"s Solar he watched as the last of the members of the rather smaller than usual Small Council assembled. Baelish was seated opposite him; Tyrion Lannister was present doing temporary duty as Master of Laws in addition to his duty as Chamberlin to the Hand. The Imp was additionally burdened by his role in preparations for the Royal Wedding, my but his dear Lord father must truly hate the little Lord for so heaping such an unpleasant task on his youngest son"s misshapen shoulders.
  
  Though Varys knew that was not true, for his little birds sang of something of a reconciliation between father and son, and did not Lord Tywin set the Riverlands ablaze in his fury at the kidnapping of his least favourite son by Lady Catelyn Stark? Lord Tyrion was a clever fellow he had to admit, and his Lord father was not short of brains either, though the Old Lion was far too fond of displays of naked power to his taste.
  
  Not that Lord Tywin was not justifiably famous for favouring this course of action, but even by the standards of the man about whom was penned the Rains of Castamere the last few days had been rather bloody.
  
  Of course by killing Trant and Blout the Old Lion had done the realm no great disservice, Blout was an idiot but Trant had an altogether far too unhealthy taste for veal, and an accompanying need to hurt his unfortunate playthings. He for one would shed no tears for either of them, but the manner of their dispatch, why the Old Lion of Casterly rock was veritably pissing on the Iron Throne; he might as well claim it for all he acted like he owned it.
  
  Which Varys realised he did, not only for all the gold that the crown owed but also because Lord Tywin had brutally enforced the supremacy of the Regency of the Small Council as Joffrey had not yet attained his majority. Ah, but when the golden haired Lannister came of age, what then eh? The brat would be unlikely to forgive the slights and outright insults that the Old Lion had seemed to delight in inflicting upon his grandson. So what was Lord Tywin"s game, for he could not be acting just out of annoyance at the antics of his grandson and his mother.
  
  Of could he? Did the Old Lion know, or suspect the truth about the sire of Robert Baratheon"s children? Something to ponder indeed, for what would the Old Lion do if confronted with cast iron evidence of the his golden twins crimes? He did not spare a glance for Littlefinger, had the Master of Coin already approached the Hand with his barded accusations? He doubted it, for Littlefinger still had his head attached to his shoulders and he knew that all Baelish had was equal to his own, suspicions and a good dose of common sense, but nothing sufficiently incriminating.
  
  No, had Baelish went to the Old Lion he would be dead now, which left the conundrum of what, if anything Lord Tywin knew, and more importantly what was the Hand"s plan to survive past the regency of the Small Council.
  The death of Pycelle, so shockingly violent and degrading to the old Grandmaester, yes, that would be the test, he would see the Hand"s reaction to it to. Ravens had flown to the Citadel and had returned, and he knew the contents of the parchment clutched in-between the claws of the returning bird.
  
  He then cast his mind to the endless knives in the dark as Lord Tywin"s shadow men duelled with his little birds for supremacy in the tunnels and secret places in the Red Keep. A difficult battle for him and his to win, but at least for now the Old Lion was confining himself to securing his lair, and denying his little birds their traditional perches from where they could see and hear oh so much. A regrettable diminution of the songs his little birds would be able to sing to him he was sure, and just when the songs from the Tower of the Hand were likely to be of such fascinating details? Well he did not just have his little birds; there were other ways to wrest the songs he wished to listen to from the possessive paws of the Old Lion.
  
  When nobody apart from the four of them looked like turning up Lord Tywin opened the meeting "The Small Council is rather smaller than usual due to certain unavoidable circumstances, I have sent summons for men I trust to fill some of the positions on the Small Council."
  
  Whose identity he already knew, but it took no genius to figure it out he mused.
  
  "With the impending marriage of his Grace to Lady Margery of House Tyrell the following appointments will be made. Lord Paxter Redwyne will be offered the position of Master of Ships, Lord Mace Tyrell will be offered that of Master of Laws and Lord Randyl Tarley will be offered the position of Lord Commander of the City Watch. Which will be culled of much of its current elements and it will be returned to what its original function was, that of a police force. House Lannister will maintain its military presence in the Red Keep and Kings landing for the foreseeable future and until the unpleasantness with the Starks and the Tully"s is resolved, and until the Iron Born are brought to heel. Lord Stannis will also be dealt with, the first duty of Lord Paxter will be to invest Dragonstone and blockade the island into starvation, pending a final assault to root out Stannis Baratheon. Part of the Redwyne fleet and the Lannister fleet can remain in the west to deal with the Iron Born for now, the bulk of Balon Greyjoy"s strength is tied down in a useless campaign trying to secure the North."
  
  Varys noted that the other positions were not mentioned; it appeared that the Old Lion was going to keep his services and that of Lord Baelish, before he could speculate any more the Hand continued "there is the matter of the appointment of a new Grand Maester following the sad death of Grand Maester Pycelle."
  
  "Sad death?" Oh dear, oh dear, what did Pycelle do to so anger the Old Lion that he had him removed in such a dramatic manner? But then was it not obvious, the old fraud was probably too used to taking orders from Queen Cersei and most likely forgot who ultimately held his leash.
  
  He thought for a minute of letting out one of his titters at this but decided against it. If the Old Lion would dispose of someone who had been in the Lannister"s pockets for so long with such casual ease, and in such a way that was as much a statement as it was butchery, it was thus better not to draw any undue attention to himself, just in case.
  
  "I have here a raven from the Citadel; they are demanding that we find the person or persons responsible for Grand Maester Pycelle"s murder and that until we do they must decline sending a replacement. As such they name Maester Weslar as acting Grand Maester until the Citadel can send a replacement. Maester Weslar is Maester of Works for the Crown, a singularly unburdened position if I recall, as Hand of the King I will not accept the Citadel"s recommendation in this matter, and it is only a recommendation, the precedent and law is clear on this. So on that basis I will appoint Maester Braddock as interim Grand Maester."
  
  And so the Lion finally shows his claws, now is this not such a fascinating, fascinating time to be alive and living in the Red Keep? Why at this rate it would soon be as interesting as the final days of Aerys the Mad...
  
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  Bryer I
  
  "Bryer."
  
  "My Lord" the man replied, closing the secret entrance behind him, keeping the hood of his cloak raised and barely moving from the deep pool of darkness in the Solar of the Hand.
  
  Of course Bryer was not his name, was not even the name he went by in Kings Landing, nor was that even the name his mother had given him, but for the likes such as him it did not matter.
  
  "We have much to discuss" intoned his master in his usual even and low tones.
  
  "Yes my Lord."
  
  The man who Lord Tywin had called Bryer listened intently to his master"s voice, to the plans and plots that he wished him to engage in, for he had been the secret eyes and ears, and occasionally knife arm of Lord Tywin Lannister in Kings Landing.
  
  He had entered his Lord"s service in the last days of his Handship under the mad King, replacing the previous incumbent, whose name he had never known, and who he had met but a handful of times. Neither of them had revealed their faces to each other, for it was better that way, safer, for darkness and secrets were their trade.
  
  As he listened Bryer kept his face calm, his voice never betraying anything of what he thought, of the emotions bubbling in his mind, until when his Lord and Master paused he could not help himself.
  
  "My, my Lord, I, I have failed you, I was unaware of many of the items you have revealed to me, how can I serve you as spymaster if I have not been able to attain these secrets for you."
  
  "Peace Bryer" Lord Tywin rumbled "you have done nothing of the sort, what I discuss with you has only come my way recently by....other means, means which need not concern you, but which do not cast any aspersion on your abilities. But, I need not remind you the import of what I have told you here, do I?"
  
  "No my Lord, I know the penalties for betrayal."
  
  "Good, now too priorities....Baelish and Varys are the two greatest threats to me and without you I am blind to their movements and plots, oh I know the broad outlines of what they intend thanks to those other means that I came across, but the details Bryer, it"s always in the details....."
  
  "Yes my Lord."
  
  "I assume that you can get me what I want with regard to Lord Baelish?"
  
  "Yes my Lord."
  
  "Good."
  
  Lord Tywin never asked him anything more about his trade, all he wanted to know was that something would be done, not how it would be done. That to Bryer showed that Lord Tywin knew something of the tradecraft of him and his, knew that he did not need to know and that in not needing to know, thus made all involved safer.
  
  "As in everything timing will be critical, can you acquire what is needed in time?"
  
  "Yes my Lord, I will have it ready."
  
  "And Bryer?"
  
  "Yes my Lord?"
  
  "We will get one chance at this, once chance only, should we fail all will have been in vain and who knows what the consequences will be..."
  
  The threat was well understood, his family were all resident in Casterly rock or Lannisport, all worked and owed their livelihood to the Great Lion, none suspected that their very lives were also owed to him also.
  
  "I will not forget what the consequences will be" he had long ago accepted the reality of what this was, but the chance to test his skills and mettle, and the amount of money that he made. And there was the fact that his family were already rising in status, two of his sons were squiring to be knights, various cousins and in laws had been appointed to positions in Lannisport that they would have been astronomically lucky to have attained without their secret patron.
  
  "Varys and his little birds?"
  
  "I have had my men scour the tunnels as directed, we have caught a few of the wretches and disposed of them, we have managed to block off all of the entrances to the Tower of the Hand apart from the ones that you want kept open. Those we have installed stout doors with tamper resistant locks."
  
  "I have my Red Cloaks patrol the part of the tunnels I want them to see, and what the various nooks and crannies that the little birds would roost in this tower?"
  
  "The same as for the tunnels, once found we have blocked access to them, but as per your instructions we are doing this as quietly and as unobtrusively as possible, the Solar and your private quarters are completed, as per your instructions."
  
  "And the substance?"
  
  "Here my Lord" he replied as he handed over a pewter bottle to his master.
  
  "The effects, can they be guaranteed?"
  
  "The alchemist swears it will work, I have used him several times in the past and his potions have always worked as he described them.
  
  "Dosage?"
  
  "Several drops, preferably with wine, to be administered at least several times a week for a month or two, that will produce the effects required, but the onset of noticeable effects depend upon the cumulative amount ingested. Larger individual doses can be unreliable in terms of the severity and duration of symptoms and could lead to sudden death."
  
  "And the alchemist swears that the Maesters have no knowledge of this?"
  
  "They do, it is not mentioned in the latest compendium on poisons as published by the Citadel."
  
  "The documents?"
  
  "Here my Lord" he replied, handing over a leather pouch he produced from under his cloak.
  
  Lord Tywin opened the pouch and took the documents out, examining them closely "professional work."
  
  "The paper is from the same maker that supplies the Red Keep."
  
  "The final matter?"
  
  "No change, I expect what you requested to be available soon, it has been indicated that the necessary transcription will be completed soon, along with the proper authentication of the work."
  
  "I understand, the completion is more important than getting it to me for now."
  
  "Yes my Lord."
  
  "As always Bryer it is good to talk to you."
  
  "Thank you my Lord" he replied, knowing he was dismissed he silently stepped deeper into the darkness and slipped through the secret opening and disappeared from the Solar of the Hand of the King.
  
  He had much work to do and many challenges to face, but as he descended the steps silently he could not help but let a smile cross his face, he was looking forwards to the next few months.
  
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  Tyrion VI
  
  "My Lord, its Lady Olenna Tyrell to see you" said Pod, the boy just radiated nervousness no matter what he was doing he had long ago realised.
  
  "Show Lady Tyrell in then Pod" he sighed, he was not looking forwards to this one bit.
  
  He was not sitting behind his desk to treat with Lady Olenna, that crude power display he left to his father, he was sitting at a small dining table, a degree of informality might work with the Queen of Thorns. At the table was a selection of some fruit, bread and cheeses, a light snack to go with what his hoped would be a casual and easy conversation. He grunted in annoyance in his head at this, he knew that this upcoming conversation would be neither, the Queen of Thorns was not renowned for her fearsome wit and sharp tongue for nothing.
  
  The lady herself strode into the room, betraying none of the frailty that one would expect of a person of such advanced years, he greeted her and bade her sit, Pod pouring her some wine.
  
  "Gods boy enough, we are not in some tavern!" she exclaimed to Pod.
  
  "Pardon me my.."
  
  "No need to speak" she gestured with her hand at Pod to silence him "are there any figs? Fetch some!"
  
  He gestured to Pod to obey the ladies command and he scurried away "I always take figs mid afternoon, helps move the bowels" she announced imperiously, like the state of her bowel movements were a matter of importance to the whole Seven Kingdoms.
  
  What a delightful thought mused Tyrion, wondering if his Lord father also took figs mid afternoon to move his bowels....
  
  "To what do I owe this summons?" Lady Tyrell asked in a somewhat bored voice, changing the subject abruptly.
  
  "Thank you for agreeing to see me, I had hoped we might discuss some financial matters..."
  
  "I climbed all these stairs to discuss "financial matters"?" Lady Olenna asked, shaking her head.
  
  "It"s the Royal Wedding, as you know my Lord Father has placed me in charge of the, the financial side of the wedding. You are involved in planning this wedding, and it"s shaping up to be a very, well, involved affair, indeed the word extravagant has been used to describe it..."
  
  "What good is the word extravagant if it cannot be used to describe a royal wedding?"
  
  "I understand that" he replied, failing to let something of a tone of resignation creep into his voice. Extravagant was one way to describe the wedding, ruinous was another, the Crown treasury was bare, stripped by Robert"s extravagance, the outrageous spending by Joffrey and Cersei on frivolities and gifts to favourites at court and the ongoing, grinding costs of the war.
  
  "However it falls to me to calculate the cost to the Crown and to make sure that we are getting, well value for money."
  
  "What? "value for money", what does that even mean?"
  
  "My Lord Father has insisted that the spending is kept under control, and right now it is looking like being a huge expense to the crown."
  
  "And?"
  
  "And, we"re at war Lady Olenna...."
  
  "Ah! I nearly forgot..." snapped Lady Olenna, her tone sarcastic and biting.
  
  "Yes and maintaining supply lines....
  
  "....I cannot think how it slipped my mind. What is it? Twelve thousand foot, eighteen hundred mounted lances, a further two thousand in support and ancillary roles that the Tyrell family have supplied. Provisions so that this city might survive the next few months, let alone the winter to come. A million bushels of wheat, half a million each of oats, barley and rye, twenty thousand head of cattle, fifty thousand of sheep. You don"t have to lecture me about wartime expenses; I"m quite familiar with them."
  
  During this tirade he had drained his cup dry of wine and found himself desperately in need of another cup of wine, to drain dry again.
  
  "And we are grateful for your contributions for the prosecution of the war and the preservation of the realm."
  
  "As is a royal wedding" interjected Lady Olenna "the people are hungry for more than just food, they crave distractions, and if we don"t provide them they will create their own. And their distractions are likely to end with us being torn to pieces. A royal wedding is much safer, don"t you agree?"
  
  "I would" he replied, gods but this woman was impossible, and his mouth was dry of anything witty to say in response.
  
  "And traditionally paid for by the royal family" Lady Olenna announced with something of a triumphal note in her voice. His father would not be at all pleased that he had been unable to reign in the spending for the royal wedding, the Tyrell"s were bad enough but Joffrey and Cersei were demanding ever more lavish decorations, food, music, entertainment...the list went on and on and on.
  
  He was distracted by Pod returning with a tray of figs, he had forgotten about these and the restorative effect on Lady Olenna"s bowels that they were supposed to have.
  
  "I was told that you were drunk, impertinent and thoroughly debauched; imagine my disappointment at finding nothing but a browbeaten bookkeeper."
  
  Before his anger could flare at this insult Pod placed the tray of figs within reach of lady Olenna, who remarked "where did you go for them, Volantis?" as she chose a fig and bit into it.
  
  "My Lady..."
  
  "Oh very well" she interrupted him with a tone of mild exasperation "I won"t have it said that the House Tyrell refuses to play its part, we"ll pay for half the expenses of the royal wedding and it will go ahead as planned, is that sufficient?" she asked as she rose from her chair.
  
  Scrambling to his feet he replied "Quite sufficient Lady Tyrell, thank you."
  
  "Very good, that"s settled then, good day." And with that Lady Olenna made for the door and her escort of those two towering knights she referred to as Left and Right.
  
  Once Lady Olenna had left Pod looked at him and said "that went alright, didn"t it?"
  
  "Did it?" he mumbled. Well at least he had gotten his father"s term agrees, and without even having to outright ask, or beg, he supposed that was a victory in and of itself.
  
  "Lady Olenna"s husband, the late Lord Luthor Tyrell was said to have died when hawking, he apparently rode his horse over a cliff because he was watching the skies and not the land ahead of him...I don"t know Pod, I think the poor man might have ridden over that cliff deliberately...."
  
  With a sigh he returned to his desk and the mountain of paper work that he had to attend to, his father did not believe in going easy on him, or on anyone else for that matter. The Old Lion was working at a furious pace, consolidating his power, ruling in the boy Kings name, directing the war in the field. As his Chamberlin Tyrion was often delegated work to do on his father"s behalf, and his father was not shy in assigning him work that others should be doing. For example this royal wedding and the matter of paying for it, surely that was a matter for the Master of Coin? But then again knowing now what he knew of Baelish, he was surprised his father even let him into the Tower of the Hand, let alone retain his position as Master of Coin, or his head for that matter. Was him being assigned to control the finances of the royal wedding some plot to undermine Baelish? Or was it part of something greater, he knew his father was up to something, something that he could sense lurking in the shadows, huge, terrifying.
  
  And it scared him, for Tywin Lannister always plotted to win, and those who lost were never long for this earth in the aftermath.
  
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  Cersei I
  
  "What is he doing here?" Cersei asked as she entered the Hand"s dining room, a small and rather intimate dining room in the apartments that her father occupied.
  
  "Your brother is family, this is a family dinner" her father responded in that icy tone that he always seemed to use with her these days. Not that she saw much of him, only when he attended court and he rarely had time to converse with her then. On the rare times Joffrey attended court since he had tried to bring Sansa Stark back into Maegors Holdfast her father often had more to say to her, usually about how she was failing in her duties to prepare Joffrey for the Iron Throne.
  
  Her father was a cold, hard man, and the imprisonment of Jamie by the forces of the North was driving him into a blind, furious rage, one that caused him to lash out at everyone, well except for that odious little dwarf apparently. Which was something that she could not understand, she and her father had always shared a disdain for Tyrion, but something had changed in the relationship between father and youngest son. And despite her best efforts she had not been able to discover why, nor had she been able to sunder this newfound closeness, mayhaps it was something to do with Jamie having been captured by the Stark"s and when Jamie was returned to them her father would revert to his normal contempt of Tyrion?
  
  She hoped so, the way her father excluded her completely, and trusted that horrid Imp was like a knife in her guts, if only that idiotic Kingsguard had not failed in his task to gut the little bastard!
  
  Had Pycelle been still around she would have gotten some poison from him and done away with Tyrion by now, and if her father had not moved him to the Tower of the Hand in the aftermath of the battle of the Blackwater her dear younger brother would have succumbed to his wounds long ago. But Pycelle was no more and her father"s singular lack of anger at the brutal removal of one of his most loyal agents told her enough to realise that her father had a hand in the old lecher"s demise. She wondered why, in spite of everything Pycelle had always been loyal to her, to House Lannister, ensuring that Jon Arryn had been dealt with before he could blab to anyone about what he was investigating. That someone else had poisoned Lord Arryn was fortuitous, she still could not be certain who was behind the murder of the Hand, but she strongly suspected it had been her father, it was certainly something he was capable of, and disposing of Pycelle, who would most likely have been involved in the deed made sense.
  
  But did that mean he knew of Jamie and her? She mulled it over before agreeing with her assessment that it did not matter, her father would never allow House Lannister to be dragged down. And even if he believed the rumours he would never allow them to gain currency, he would quash any and all who peddled them. She felt a warm glow spread inside her, to know that she had outwitted the Old Lion, that there was nothing he could do.
  
  "Sit, let us eat" her father commanded so she sat, and the servants served the first course, a dish of vegetable soup, looking all the world like something a smallfolk would eat. She ignored it and instead sipped at her wine, a very good Arbor Red, while her father and Tyrion tucked into their soup.
  
  "And how is his grace preparing for his wedding day?" her father asked, not looking up from drinking his soup.
  
  "Fine, he is not the type to fret over such things, though I daresay he is looking forwards to bedding that shameless harlot from Highgarden!" The merest thought of Margery Tyrell and the curves of her teats on display like a wanton, her oh so knowing eyes, drove her to a rage she could scarce control.
  
  "That is the future Queen you are speaking of" her father remarked coolly, still, not even bothering to look at her.
  
  "You are not eating you soup dear sister? It is very good..." asked Tyrion, a sneer on his horrid face, the Imp was much more courageous now that he enjoyed the patronage of her father, which was something she would have to devote considerable effort to wrecking. A difficult task, but not one that was insurmountable, she had discovered his whore after all, and ensconced as a Ladies Maid to Sansa Stark no less! What would her father make of that titbit she wondered? She would bide her time though, it was not the right time just yet to topple Tyrion.
  
  Ignoring her loathsome brother she turned towards her father and instead said "I hear you will be installing that oaf Mace Tyrell on the Small Council father?"
  
  "I will" he replied, she could see the tension in her father"s jaws at having to reply to her, she knew the Old Lion was not happy about that particular appointment one bit. She had suffered through enough meals, feasts and social events in the presence of Mace Tyrell to last a lifetime, the man was a confounded buffoon, who never ceased to make her hackles rise, sometimes even by his mere presence.
  
  She had to make a serious consideration her position now in light of Joffrey"s upcoming marriage. For too long she had been in the shadow of her father, even while married to that drunken whoresotted fool Robert she had only ever feared her father, Robert she had merely despised. But Tywin Lannister she had feared, and yet despite what he had done, stripping her of her power, chastising Joffrey and emasculating him until his majority, she realised she no longer feared Tywin Lannister.
  
  For her father had miscalculated in his greed to grab power in Kings landing, he had insulted her, and more importantly he had insulted her golden prince, her Joffrey. Who with his wedding to the Tyrell"s, disgusting as it was, would give him power to counter the Old Lion, and more importantly her father"s days as Hand were numbered. She was certain that on the day of his Majority Joff would strip Tywin Lannister of his position and probably banish him from Kings Landing. Most likely Joffrey would then appoint Mace Tyrell as Hand, who would do as his King ordered. As it should be, Joffrey was born to rule, born to be the great King, and with her to be his true adviser, why there was no end to the greatness her beloved Joffrey would achieve!
  
  She would make sure that the Old Lion would slink back to end his days in Casterly rock, but not before Tyrion was dealt with permanently. Jamie would return to her and all would be well, of that she was sure for Tywin would deal with the Stark"s, the Iron Born and Stannis. Then it would be a simple matter of convincing Joffrey to let the Old Lion keep his head, stressing that dismissal alone would be humiliation enough. Her Joff was brave as a lion but a man like her father was not to be trifled with, and certainly not when he was Hand of the King, but once he left Kings Landing and returned to Casterly rock? Then the Old Lion could growl and show his claws all he wanted but none would pay him any heed.
  
  The soup was cleared away and the main course was served, venison, she hated venison, it reminded her far too much of Robert, he had loved the gamey taste of the meat for he had spent almost as much time hunting as he had wenching and drinking.
  
  The venison was served stuffed with bacon and accompanied with baked sausages and more bacon, along with vegetables stewed in the juices of the meat. It was quite spicy and smoky to Cersei"s taste, and unusual as she did not know her father liked such fare.
  
  The effect was to mask the usual taste of venison which she disliked so she ate the meal with no complaint, neither her father nor her brother had any complaint about the dish either, tucking in, Tyrion with gusto.
  
  Deciding it was high time to broach the subject of Sansa she asked "and what of the little dove you have prisoner in this tower father, why if I did not know better I would suspect you of keeping her as your mistress!"
  
  She saw Tyrion glance at her warily but her father continued to eat his meal, seeming to ignore her question, until he finally remarked, not even glancing in her direction "and is that what you think Cersei, that Sansa Stark is my mistress?"
  
  "Well you have to admit you are quite possessive of the little innocent dear, barring all access to her and keeping her locked away here, showering her with new dresses and appointing Ladies in Waiting to her....."
  
  "If you believe the gossip of jealous courtiers you are a bigger fool than I believed" he replied, before finishing his plate and pushing it away from him, not a morsel of food remained on her father"s plate she noticed.
  
  Holding her gaze with his own he eventually said "Lady Sansa is the key to getting Jamie back, that disgraceful behaviour on the part of Joffrey, which you did nothing to halt, potentially damages the chances of Jamie returning to us. Treating Sansa Stark well and keeping the empty headed girl away from court intrigues are the best way of getting Jamie back via a trade with the Stark"s. That is my only concern for the girl"s well being."
  
  "Of course father" she replied, not believing a word from the Old Lion"s mouth, for she knew Sansa Stark was not an innocent little girl, she had seen the hatred in the girls eyes, the cold, raging fire of her thirst for vengeance. The Stark bitch might have her father and her brother fooled, but she did not fool her!
  
  "The Stark girl has bled father, mayhaps we could use her for a betrothal?" The reaction of her father to this barb would be interesting she hoped.
  
  The desert course had arrived, fresh fruit, oranges, pears, peaches and figs, her father selected a couple and ate as he seemed to be considering her question.
  
  "Indeed we could, the problem is finding a husband of sufficient standing for her hand, and there is the not inconsiderable fact that returning her to the Stark"s wedded and bedded with a southron husband would be seen as an insult. Along with lessening her value to the Starks, whom would also want to wed her to secure alliances or shore up their relations with their bannermen."
  
  "You have appointed yourself her legal guardian father, you could decide for her and the Stark"s could not complain, so long as her husband had enough stature..." her eye"s found Tyrion"s and she smirked at the little Imp.
  
  "Indeed, however your dear brother will not be marrying the Stark girl, I have other plans for his betrothal, as I do for yours...."
  
  "I will not marry again" she hissed, her anger getting the better of her caution, forgetting that Tywin Lannister never let a slight or a refusal to do his bidding go unpunished.
  
  "You are my daughter and you will marry again if I say so!" he thundered, the flat of his hand pounding the table for emphasis.
  
  "I am the Queen Mother, I cannot marry again!" she retorted, desperate to not be forced like a brood mare to marry again, to possibly lose Jamie for good this time.
  
  "A status that is a mere courtesy, which has no basis in law and thus grants you no exemptions from the traditional duties of your father to arrange marriage for you" her father replied calmly, almost sounding bored, his outburst seemingly forgotten as if it had never happened.
  
  "If I may, you mentioned a betrothal for me father?" Tyrion piped up, never was she more glad to have her horrid little brother open his mouth and say something to redirect her father"s attention away from her.
  
  "Matters are being arranged, they do not concern you, only know that your marriage will assist this family greatly should the deal I am brokering proceed."
  
  "Erh, I think I should father....be concerned I mean..."
  
  "You will wed a high born girl I will provide for you, you will bed her and put children in her, that is all that will be required of you, surely you can manage that?"
  
  "And who is my betrothed to be father, I would like to know which fair maid is to be gifted to one of my stature, as my sister rightly pointed out, it"s quite considerable after all?"
  
  "For now you do not need to know..." replied Tywin coolly, she delighted at the frustration and annoyance on her brothers face.
  
  "And as for you Cersei there are several options I am considering for your Hand, once certain matters are resolved you will be married again, is that clear?"
  
  "Yes father" she replied meekly, swearing to herself that she would never marry again, and that the Old Lion would regret threatening her like this, for a Lannister always paid their debts.
  
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  Sansa VI
  
  Ever since Lord Tywin had taken the heads of the two Kingsguard Sansa had found that she saw much more of both of the Lannister Lords during the day. She had started sewing again and she liked to use the enclosed courtyard at the top of the Tower of the Hand, and she could often spy Lord Tywin at work in his Solar, holding meetings with the other members of the Small Council and with his functionaries in the Office of the Hand. Often Lord Tywin would invite her to dine with him and Lord Tyrion of an evening, and despite some initial trepidation these meals were not unduly taxing or unpleasant. The food was much more simple than she was used to in the Red Keep, none of the elaborate dishes and multiple courses that Cersei and Joffrey were so fond of. She was thankful for this if she was honest, and surprisingly Lannister father and son were reasonable conversationalists, something of a surprise where Lord Tywin was concerned she had to admit. She was also thankful that Queen Cersei had not made an appearance at their dinner table, not that Sansa cared one whit now for the Queen, but her presence was an annoyance, it upset the normally tranquil atmosphere that she had come to cherish in the Tower of the Hand.
  
  And unlike what she had come to expect about men, neither of them monopolised the conversations about themselves either, both seemed to be genuinely interested about her, what she had done during the day, how she was feeling, did she like the dresses that had been made for her, etc. Trivial enough things if she was honest, harmless really, though Lord Tywin seemed to be very interested in her childhood experiences in Winterfell and stories of her siblings and parents. She realised that the Lord Hand was seeking to better understand Robb and the forces that had shaped him, so that on the field of battle the Lord of Casterly rock would have every possible advantage, however slight. So she did not give too much away and was careful with what she said, and she often tried to turn the conversation back on the Lord Hand to deflect his questions. She got the impression that he knew what she was doing but was not unduly annoyed by this, as if her actions seemed to be what he had expected all along.
  
  Lord Tyrion"s response to his father"s choice of conversation topics this was to regale her with stories of Jamie, Cersei and him as children in Casterly rock, leaving out the bad bits she suspected. Though Lord Tyrion preferred to tell quite funny stories of his escapades when he was a little older, and sometimes even managed to aim subtle darts at his Lord father. Lord Tywin did not ignore these, usually only grunting in annoyance and responding that Tyrion had deserved whatever imposition he had been subjected to. Though sometimes Lord Tywin had admitted that he had been somewhat harsh on his youngest son, but he always just left it at that, never elaborating any further, despite Lord Tyrion"s oft humorous goading of him.
  
  Then late one morning she found herself summoned by Lord Tywin to join him for lunch in his Solar, and Sansa could only wonder what the Old Lion wanted. The many dresses and gowns that had been ordered for her had arrived and she was no longer short of things to wear, having a more than full complement of dresses for day and evening wear. But such a lavish wardrobe was wasted on her, she went nowhere, saw no one and did nothing, she had not attended court, nor had she received any visitors. Ah but she would need these clothes soon enough she knew, for a prize as valuable as her needed to be displayed to its best advantage, to fetch the best price.
  
  The news of the war, such as reached her told of little movement, and of no major battles, a stalemate in effect, and one which likely favoured the Lannister"s and the Iron Throne. She hoped Robb knew what he was doing, but she no longer prayed to the Seven, for they had not answered her prayers, they had not stopped the beatings, not stopped Joffrey taking her father"s head.
  
  She no longer prayed to anything, for there was nobody listening, or if there was, they did not care for her concerns. Oh Septa Elenah prattled on about nobody being able to know the will of the Seven, and that they "moved in mysterious ways" but she thought it was just a convenient excuse for there being no Gods at all.
  
  But there was power in the world, oh yes, power was one thing she knew all about, for she had none and was thus nothing but a victim of events beyond her control and a chattel of others to trade as they saw fit. And if she was honest with herself, she had been powerless all her life, and the tales and fantasies peddled by Speta Mordane and her mother had prevented her from seeing this. But her sister Arya had seen the truth, and Sansa knew that was what made her little sister so angry, so rebellious, so willing to revolt against any and all the impositions placed upon her.
  
  And thus even her father, who she loved dearly and who she knew loved her had let King Robert decide on her future, on who she would marry, with nary a concern for what she wanted. Thus she knew that Lord Tywin was treating her with the utmost respect so that her family would agree to trade her for Ser Jamie, or if this failed she would be married off to whomever Lord Tywin decided was of best advantage to House Lannister, or maybe even into House Lannister itself.
  
  That was a truly horrifying thought, Lancel or Tyrion? Or maybe even Jamie Lannister, if he was rescued from captivity. For though he was in the Kingsguard she knew his father wanted him to be dismissed from the Kingsguard and as Tywin effectively ruled there would be no opposition to such a move. But married to the Kingslayer? Ah but despite his moniker was he not the very epitome of what all the tales of her youth promised? Tall, handsome, noble, a great warrior?
  
  And should she be swapped for Ser Jamie and find herself back in the bosom of her family? Then she would be married post haste to some Lordling in the North or the Riverlands, and she would have no say in the matter at all. And while she had long know that such as this would happen, knowing as a foolish girl was different to confronting it as something that would happen no matter any desires she might have to the contrary.
  
  Approaching the Solar of the Hand she was wearing one of her new dresses, though the cut and style were decidedly southern, its colouring was pure Stark. The underdress was a steel grey silk, patterned with flowers and trees, the overdress was the finest and lightest satin, of a lighter grey than the underdress, it was open at the front and cut back to reveal the underdress, clasped at the waist with a sash of cloth that was sewn with two Direwolf heads and with the wide and voluminous sleeves so popular at court. Her hair was done in a simple style, bunched up into a bun at the back of her head, from which two thin braids descended, she had them fall forwards down the front of her gown.
  Entering the Solar from the courtyard she gave Lord Tywin a curtsy and he stood up from his desk and bowed to her in return, then gestured her to a small table that was set for two, a delicious aroma of grilled meats filling the air.
  
  Lord Tywin pulled out her chair and as she sat he said "I hope you do not mind Lady Sansa, I am a busy man and I do not stand for unnecessary pomp and ceremony. I will serve you and this meal will be quick and without ceremony."
  "That is perfectly fine Lord Tywin" she replied, the less time spent in his presence the better, for despite everything she did not particularly like being alone in the presence of the Old Lion. There was something unsettling about his gaze, like he was able to see under her skin, into her mind, like he already knew what you were going to say and was already ten steps ahead of you in a game that you barely knew the rules of but yet were trapped in and could not escape.
  
  Pointing to a small grill on a stand beside the table he said "grilled meats on the skewer with Dornish peppers, potatoes cooked in their jackets on the grill" turning to the table "salad dressed in olive oil and vinegar, fresh bread, boiled and cooled water mixed with orange juice to drink."
  
  An odd meal she had to say, but then again she had come to expect that the Old Lion liked a much more varied fare than was normal, including this meal, with its almost Dornish fare.
  
  Lord Tywin filled her plate with several skewers of meat and a baked potato and sat down, gesturing to the table "help yourself to the salad if you want Lady Sansa" as he used two large spoons to ladle a large helping of salad onto his plate.
  
  With no servants present and deciding to follow Lord Tywin"s strange example she place some salad on her own plate, and began eating. The meat was delicious, smoky flavoured from the grill and delicately spiced, the baked potato was all soft and fluffy in the middle, and the salad was delicious, several different types of lettuce, tomatoes, olives and slivers of onion. The onion tasted remarkably sweet and did not have the sharp taste she would have associated with raw onion, and she methodically ate her way through her food, Lord Tywin doing the same.
  
  So far he had not said anything beyond their original words and the longer this went on the more Sansa felt compelled to say something, but she resisted until the Old Lion finished eating and pushed his plate to one side.
  
  "It is high time that you returned to the life of the court Lady Sansa, but not like before, where you were defenceless against the idiotic tantrums of my grandson. This time you will be accorded all deference and respect due your station, and to ensure such, a guard of Red Cloaks. All Red Cloaks in the Red Keep have been informed that they are to intervene in any situation where your person is threatened, so your personal guard has the might of all of House Lannister behind it. Even the guards of the Queen mother have been informed that to obey a command of hers to harm you will result in their death."
  
  "Why?" Sansa asked, the question out of her mouth almost before she can think, but it is was question that makes sense, no matter what. To see what the Old Lion said in response, to measure his words, to weigh them for truth or falseness, she suspected what his answer would be but it was better to let him say it than for her to merely suspect it.
  
  "A simple enough matter my Lady, your brother has my son, I want him back, you are all I have to trade for him. Any further slights against your person, any continuation of the disgraceful disrespect King Joffrey showed you, and the stupidity of my daughter in not putting an immediate stop to the same, potentially endangers the life, health and eventual return of Ser Jamie."
  
  She nodded her head, dropping her eyes from the hard, unyielding gaze of the Lord Hand, it was as she suspected, though confirmation did not bring her much satisfaction. Time to see if she could learn something more, see if she could fool the Old Lion, by however small a measure.
  
  "Is...when, I mean to say, has an offer been made for Ser Jamie"s return?" she asked, letting a tremor creep into her voice, keeping her eyes downcast.
  
  "It has" he responded, venturing no more than that. The offer must have been rejected in that case as Lord Tywin did not elaborate any further.
  
  "What terms did the North reject my Lord Hand" she enquired, raising her head and meeting his eyes, taking all her willpower not to break away from his gaze, for the Old Lion was a frightening player of the Game of Thrones and she was only a little wolf.
  
  "My daughter thinks you are a silly, empty headed savage, barely worthy of a title, and certainly not worthy of her precious Joffrey. On the other hand my son Tyrion thinks you are smart enough to hide what you really think. I am inclined to believe my son over my daughter on this matter."
  
  She did not respond, simply holding his gaze for a moment until he said "you will be allowed out of the Keep of the Hand under escort as often as you want. However you will have to inform me when you are going, what you are planning to do and who you meet along the way. I will also require to know what you talked about to anyone you met. I need not remind you that the Red Keep is full of flatterers and connivers who would kill their own grandmothers for the barest scrap of a whisper if they thought it would buy them some advantage, real or imagined."
  
  "Yes my Lord" she replied, dropping her eyes to her lap, she was still a prisoner, maybe even more so than before, but still, she might learn more by being able to leave the Tower of the Hand. And if nothing less it would lessen the boredom that she had begun to suffer from cooped up in the Keep of the Hand all day long. And she could not help but notice that the Lord hand had not replied to her question regarding the terms for exchanging her and Ser Jamie.
  "Lady Margaery and Lady Olenna have requested a chance to meet with you mid afternoon today, I have granted their request Lady Sansa. You will meet with the Rose of Highgarden and the Queen of Thorns and you will tell me all of what you talk about, is that clear?"
  
  "Yes my Lord."
  
  "And you will tell them the truth Lady Sansa, the truth, and nothing but the truth, do you understand me?"
  
  "The truth my Lord?" she asked, risking a glance at Lord Tywin, before averting her gaze once more, for was this a test or a trap, she would have to think further on this, and make sure that she made the correct decision.
  
  "The truth Lady Sansa, you have no fear of the truth, for you have power now my Lady, more power than you probably even realise."
  
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  Olenna I
  
  Dreary, that"s what her life had been of late, dreary and boring but now, praise the seven, it was anything but. If this plotting did not kill her she was convinced that it would add a good score of years onto her already long life, so alive, so full of something, something thrilling it made her feel.
  
  Even having to drag Mace along had not been much of an imposition; the fat oaf was busy on the Small Council, though how the Old Lion put up with him she could not fathom. Maybe the Old Lion might become so enraged with him that he would lose his temper with Mace and take a swipe at him, disastrous and all that this would be. Only that Mace, despite his girth was faster than her and that she feared she did not have the required strength in her arms, she would have taken a switch to Mace over that oaf"s decision to sell the crown"s debt that they held back to Tywin Lannister, what was he thinking? Oh yes, she forgot, he was not thinking at all, that was dear Mace"s speciality, so much like his father he was in that respect.
  
  What had she ever done to deserve a son like Mace she would never know, at least Mace"s son"s were not too bad a lot, Willas and Garlan were smart enough, Loras, well he was good at knocking other men of horses with sticks, there was that. And Margaery, ah the jewel in the crown of Highgarden, a rose for the ages alright. The girl was smart, cunning and perceptive, and made up for all of Mace"s shortcomings to her mind.
  
  Her granddaughter had lapped up all her lessons, never needing to be told twice, and had passed all the little trials and tests she had set for her, even those the girl did not realise were tests.
  
  And now she was to be Queen, the culmination of all her father"s dreams, and all her plotting. Mace had first wed her to that sword swallower Renly Baratheon, on the advice of Loras of all people, as good looking as Renly but as equally empty headed as the nice smelling Baratheon. She had warned them, warned them of the disaster they were courting, but no, did they listen to her? Of course not, and so off the splendid host of Highgarden had ridden, picking up the rest of the Reach"s finest chivalry amidst tourneys and banquets and ridiculous pomp. Until they had confronted Stannis and Renly had been murdered, some said by a thing of foul magic birthed by his Red Priestess, others by his own guards, some even said by the orders of Catelyn Stark and carried out by that madwoman Brienne of Tarth!
  
  Hah! Such rumours, such fantastical stories, no, Renly was killed by his own men most likely, secret supporters of Stannis in his Stormlander contingent.
  
  And that had left the Reach stranded, beached like a bloated whale as they had rapidly retreated behind their borders and Mace pondered the situation. Pondered? What a jape, Mace never gave a thought to anything except what was next for dinner, and so they sat there, as their banner men begged leave to depart back to their lands and their mighty host wilted day by day.
  
  Until a mockingbird came a calling, with an offer that seemed too good to be true. She should have known it was too good to be true, but of course Mace jumped at the offer. Then again, it was not like they had much options so rather than caw like a annoyed crow she had held her tongue and journeyed to Kings Landing, to once more be forced to breathe its unique bouquet of shit and piss all day long.
  
  Thankfully the gardens of the Red Keep were situated overlooking the bay and the sea breezes oft kept the noisome scents of the city away, this is where she elected to spend much of her days, holding court with her menagerie of clucking little hens.
  
  Empty headed fools most of them; barley a handful might make decent women and would not be idiots their entire lives. But beautiful and diverting they were, and their incessant chatter would confuse any of the little birds that might be trying to listen too closely to any conversation she might want to have.
  
  Like the conversation she and Margaery had with Lady Sansa yesterday, and such an interesting conversation it had been, the Stark girl was quite the revelation if she was honest. If she did not know better she would be convinced that the Old Lion himself had been coaching the girl.
  
  From what her agents had told her of the girl she had arrived to Kings Landing an empty headed twit and had even had a hand in betraying her own father, and had been rewarded by being grossly mistreated by Joffrey. And yet the girl who had joined them for Lemon cakes was a poised young woman who hid her mind well, who had given little away, well only a tiny bit, but nevertheless.
  
  For despite everything she knew she had needed confirmation before she was going to act as she planned; she needed absolute confirmation, and who better to provide that affirmation than Sansa Stark herself?
  
  The girl had joined them, prim and proper and dressed in the latest fashions of Kings Landing, in a two layer dress of silk and satin, whose cut and quality were stunning, and she had not failed to notice that some of her little hens had glared at Sansa with no little jealously as she had passed. The inner silk dress, intricately patterned was cut low enough to show a swell of growing teats, the outer one of satin was cut close enough to reveal a flowering woman"s body. Yes the Stark girl was a beauty, and soon to grow into an even greater beauty, sure to cause buffoons to want to fight over her hand, mayhaps even go to war over.
  
  And why not, the war with the North and the Riverlands would be decided soon enough, one way or another. House Tyrell"s troops would swing the numerical balance decisively in the favour of the crown, the war would either end when the Stark"s and Tully"s saw reason, or with their defeat. In the case of the former the girl was a prize to seal a peace treaty, in the later case her sons would rule Winterfell and Riverrun. The girl"s womb was probably the most valuable in all Westeros after Margaery"s right now, and she wondered if the little chit knew this?
  
  With Tywin Lannister firmly ensconced in the Tower of the Hand his brother Kevan was leading the Lannister armies in the field, though there was little to report on that front. The war was being described as "positional warfare" in official reports hah! As if she did not know what that really meant; two armies either unwilling or unable to bring each other to a field of battle of their liking.
  
  After the usual round of courtesies that had to be observed and pleasantries exchanged she had gotten to the meat of the problem, she had asked Sansa Stark what Joffrey Baratheon was like, asking that she tell them the truth.
  
  The girl had glanced coolly at her before responding "my father, he told the truth, until they named him traitor and Joffrey cut his head off. He promised he would be merciful and he cut my father"s head off, and he said that was mercy. He took me up on the walls and made me look at it....Joffrey is a monster."
  
  Throughout all of this the girl maintained her calm, her voice steady, never wavering, her eyes as cold as the northern wastes she hailed from.
  
  She had responded with "ah, that"s a pity" and then she had moved the conversation swiftly onto other matters, specifically getting Sansa married to either Willas or Loras. Oh she was not as open as that, not actually asking the girl such a question, merely framing the conversation in terms of what might happen after the wedding and places Sansa would like to visit, like Highgarden.
  
  To her credit the girl cottoned on almost immediately to what was really being discussed, intimating that it was Lord Tywin who controlled her movements as her guardian and that he would have to approve any such plans.
  
  Which meant never she knew, for the Old Lion had this little wolf firmly under his paw, and she was sure Tywin Lannister would never willingly give the girl up. The Old Lion was nobody"s fool, he knew the worth of the Stark girl, his actions in immediately bringing her under his protection showed that clearly enough to anyone with half an ounce of sense. Of which Joffrey and his mother seemed not to even have a single one between them, the indignities suffered by the girl were simply atrocious, she would never let such happen to her Margaery, never!
  
  And so she turned to look out over the Blackwater Bay and put Sansa Stark from her thoughts, instead directed her mind to killing a King.
  
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  Petyr II
  
  The summons to the Tower of the Hand was as usual unwelcome, it was bad enough that he had to attend Small Council meetings in the dammed place, but the Hand was won"t to call upon him, and other members of the Small Council at a moment"s notice to meet with him.
  
  Mace Tyrell had finally arrived and was firmly ensconced as Master of Laws, a more pompous and stupid example of the High Nobility of Westeros one could scarcely find he was sure. And as such an utter non entity as far as his plotting and planning was concerned, his mother the Lady Olenna, now that was another matter altogether. The Queen of Thorns had sought him out via the most circumspect of means, and he had responded to her offerings with commensurate caution, but what a glittering prospect the Tyrell"s were offering. And such ruthlessness, such daring, my but that crone was terrifying, mayhaps he should look to remove her from the Game of Thrones permanently without delay, or at least shortly after their mutual business had concluded?
  
  The Queen of Thorns was well informed about the goings on in the Red Keep, she knew of the Hand"s offer to him regarding Harenhall, and he certainly had told no body of this, and he did not think Lord Tywin was the kind to blab this in casual conversation either. So that meant she had sources inside the Tower of the Hand, frustratingly he had lost his own sources in the Tower of the Hand; apparently his man had suffered the misfortune to be stabbed to death for his coin purse while walking home one night. And if he believed that story he was a bigger fool than Mace Tyrell, no, his man had been discovered and eliminated, probably by that cutthroat "Ser" Bron of the Blackwater, who now was sworn to Lord Tywin"s personal service. Hah! "Sworn", that sellsword"s oath was as true as virginity on a whore, no "Ser" Bron was Tywin"s man bought and paid for, simple as that.
  
  It was a dangerous game he played, but what was the point in playing at all if the risks did not match the potential rewards? And he would make sure that should the Tyrell"s try and eliminate him afterwards that he had plans in place that would cause the Old Lion"s fury to descend upon them.
  
  Lady Olenna was a seasoned player of the Game of Thrones; she would know that he would be suitably prepared for any treachery on the Tyrell"s part so he was confident enough that each party to the bargain understood each other.
  It was always better to work with or confront professionals, they understood the rules of the Game, it was amateurs that could be the most dangerous, like Renly and his Knight of Flowers Ser Loras. Ned Stark had not even been an amateur; he had just been a fool, plain and simple.
  
  And just in case things went dramatically wrong, he had his escape plan to flee to Braavos readied. He had enough gold salted away there, even had a modest mansion already purchased for his use. It would be a shame to have to exit the Great Game but his skin was much more important than his lust for the Iron Throne.
  
  Lord Paxter Redwyne was yet to travel to Kings Landing, having been tasked instead with organising the seaborne defences of the western coast of the realm against the Iron Born. Once this was completed to his satisfaction he was to take those elements of the Redwyne and Lannister fleet that were available and sail to Kings Landing.
  
  Entering the Solar of the Hand he was surprised to see someone else already seated before the Old Lion, Tycho Nestoris, the Iron Bank"s chief Factor in Kings Landing. Dozens of possible scenarios flashed through his head at this, some advantageous to him, others not so advantageous, and as he was bid sit he composed his face and waited to see what the outcome would be.
  
  "I have invited you here Lord Baelish as Master of Coin to discuss the Crown"s finances with Master Nestoris, I have reviewed the decade and a half of wasteful spending of my former goodson and I am resolved to make some changes."
  
  Not too bad so far he mused "Of course my Lord Hand, his Grace King Robert did not care where the money came from for his diversions or entertainments, only that it came."
  
  "Indeed, however this state of affairs must change, the Crowns financial matters must be put on a sounder footing for the future, especially now that we are at war. To that end, Master Nestoris and I have agreed that the crowns debt to the Iron Bank will be purchased outright by Casterly rock" he gestured to a document on the table before him "and that the terms of the myriad loans, letters of credit and debentures signed between the Iron Bank and the Crown are to be consolidated into a single series of loans of varying maturation but with standard contractual terms and interest rates."
  
  He knew the Old Lion was ruthless, but this, this was a breathtaking coup on his part, and to have the necessary gold on hand to simply snap up the Crown"s debt to the Iron Bank in one, fell swoop?
  
  "As Master of Coin, may I know these new terms?" he asked, deciding that even fake annoyance at this usurpation of his powers was probably not the best thing to display right now.
  
  Lord Tywin handed his the paper, he quickly scanned the contents - a complex deal indeed but simple in its outcome, and it did simplify his job in calculating the monthly interest payments that the crown needed to make. And as such a direct threat to him, and with the game afoot to remove Joffrey, well unless Tywin Lannister was also removed, the Old Lion would spend the best part of the next two decades effectively in charge of the crowns finances. It also totally scuppered his plans to get the Iron Bank to unwittingly do some of his dirty work for him.
  
  Lord Tywin simply had to go, there was no other way forwards for him, so he set his mind to the task of removing his third Hand of the King.
  
  "A capital idea my Lord Hand, this will simplify greatly my work as Master of Coin" he replied, oozing as much sincerity as he could.
  
  "And to help you further in your duties Lord Baelish I have made a similar arrangement with Lord Mace Tyrell, all the crowns debts to House Tyrell have been purchased by House Lannister and consolidated. I will be meeting the High Septon later on today to similarly see to the debts the Crown has with the Faith."
  
  Disaster, it was an utter disaster, that fucking Old Lion had ruined everything.... Jealously flashed through him, to have such amounts of gold just lying around, the sheer waste of it, he would have put that gold to productive use and made himself the richest man on the whole of Planetos several times over. Damm Tywin Lannister and his ability to "shit gold", or in this case to be sitting on a veritable mountain of the stuff, he knew the rumours and legends, that the Lannister"s were still sitting on seven or eight out of every ten pounds of gold that they ever mined.
  
  "Even better!" he replied, beaming a smile back at the Hand of the King, while at the same time wondering that as he was resolved to topple Tywin Lannister why stop there? The upcoming events were a perfect catalyst for chaos; and he could see a plan forming, its pathway as yet tenuous but its destination obvious.
  
  He would have to ponder this carefully though, he had not survived this long by being greedy, by overreaching himself, the fall of Tywin Lannister would rob the Lannister and by extension the Crown of much of their strength, leaving the Tyrell"s as the power behind the Iron Throne. But the Tyrell"s would never grant him more power, they would fill the vacuum left by the death of Tywin Lannister with their own, and he might even be ousted, no he would be ousted, and killed, Lady Olenna would make sure of that.
  
  No once the Tyrell"s dealt with Joffery it was time for him to leave Kings Landing, at least for a while, he had other things to attend to. Tywin Lannister had given him a perfect excuse to leave Kings Landing but he needed to find a way to get Lady Sansa away from the clutches of the Old Lion.
  
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  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Sansa VII
  
  On returning to the Tower of the Hand from her meeting with Lady Olenna and Lady Margaery she had been conducted straight into the presence of the Lord Hand, who as usual was seated behind his desk, writing.
  
  He had bid her sit while he finished his document and when finished he had stood up, walked to a side board and poured her a glass of wine and one for himself. Handing her glass to her he did not return to sit behind his desk; instead he stood in front of his desk, looming over her uncomfortably close. He was intimidating, tall and broad of shoulder, not gone to fat like many men of his age, and he wore his clothing well - a black doublet with scarlet and gold lions embossed on it and black trousers, with polished black boots. The doublet was closed by five golden clasps that tied the doublet shut and a he wore a narrow belt at his waist, from which hung a dagger in its sheath.
  
  She sipped at the wine, well watered, as if it"s pale colour did not give it away, composing her thoughts.
  
  "Well Lady Sansa, what did Olenna Tyrell ask of you?"
  
  "She asked me what Joffrey was like."
  
  "And what did you tell her?" he asked, his tone conversational, measured.
  
  She steeled herself; tensing her face for the blow she suspected might come "I told them he was a monster."
  
  "Anything else?" he asked his voice betraying nothing, she risked a glance at his eyes, they were the same hard gold flecked green as always, flat and revealing nothing.
  
  "They wanted me to travel to Highgarden after Joffrey"s wedding; they would see me wed to either Willas or Loras Tyrell."
  
  "Did they ask this specifically?" Lord Tywin pressed her.
  
  "No, but the intent was clear enough."
  
  "I"m sure it was...." he replied, she heard the faintest hint of dry wit enter his voice, before he continued "so who would you prefer then? Willas or Loras?"
  
  So surprised was she by this comment that she nearly dropped her wine glass, surely not, surely the Great Lion was not offering to let her go, to let her escape? Her mind whirled with thoughts, no; this was a trap, a ruse on the part of the Old Lion. But the question was, exactly what kind of trap was it at all? Was it a trap to catch a silly girl, or was it a trap to corner a Lady? And if it was the later, was it even a trap; was it not more some sort of a test in that case?
  
  "Neither, Ser Loras, while brave and handsome and a gallant knight has no interest in fair maidens" she remembered when Lord Tyrion had explained to her how Loras and Renly were in love she had been stunned, and even more shocked when he had gone on to explain the details of their love....and apparently there were even women who lay with other women!
  
  She shook her head to stop these thoughts and continued "Lord Willas is Lord Mace"s heir but beyond that I know little of him, other than that he is quite a bit older than me and was crippled in his youth in an accident at a Tourney. But that does not matter much; neither are suitable to my mind because they would both fail to meet my most important criteria for a husband."
  
  "And that is?" he asked, she swore she had seen the slightest of upward tugs in the corner of Tywin Lannister"s mouth.
  
  "They could never fully protect me from Joffrey.....or you...." she replied, forcing herself to hold the Old Lion"s gaze unwavering.
  
  For that was the truth of it for Sansa, nobody could truly protect her, oh the Tyrell"s might talk about protecting her, and they might even mean it, but could they guarantee it? Would they not give her up to the crown if Joffrey demanded it? With Margaery as Queen they would be hitched to the Iron Throne, might this protect her as she would be a Tyrell too? But the Tyrell"s were southerners, who had unfailingly failed to protect her, only northerners and the North could really protect her. And yet the irony for her was that only Lannister"s had ever stood up for her, first Tyrion and now Lord Tywin, had denied Joffrey what he wanted.
  
  "Clever girl" he replied, before turning away from her and sitting back behind his desk, taking a piece of parchment and began to write, realising she was dismissed she rose, curtsied and left the Solar of the Hand.
  
  Since then her routine had changed somewhat, as promised she accompanied Lord Tywin to court on the days he was required to leave the Tower of the Hand, they never left without a contingent of at least a hundred Red Cloaks and in the great, echoing Throne room the guards were exclusively Lannister. Never for a second could you forget that though the King called himself a Baratheon, it was the Lannister"s who were in control, who were the power supporting the Iron Throne.
  
  Sansa and her Ladies in Waiting would watch the proceedings from one of the galleries above the floor of the throne room, and Tywin would ascend the Iron Throne to sit in judgement on the day"s proceedings. A common enough occurrence was that several hours later King Joffrey would arrive with his new Kingsguard, a bunch of former hedge knights if gossip was to be believed, and a motley of knights who had stayed loyal to the crown. Tywin would graciously step down from the Iron Throne and remark that his grace was here to observe the ruling of the realm, at which Joffrey would scowl.
  
  From then on the proceedings would usually descend into farce, with Joffrey making all manner of sarcastic comments and japes from his perch atop the Iron Throne; it was obvious who at court favoured the boy King, for they were the ones who laughed at his supposed witticisms. Though in truth few dared openly show their support for Joffrey at court, only the foolish or the uncaring would openly defy the Lord Hand. So the laughter at Joffrey"s antics was either somewhat forced or somewhat muted, the later seeming to annoy the golden haired little monster no end.
  
  By midday it was over, even if there was other business still to be attended to Lord Tywin would call a halt to proceedings, Joffrey was usually bored by this stage and he would leave swiftly. On those rare occasions Queen Cersei accompanied her son to court Lord Tywin would often have words with his daughter, and despite her distance from them and the fact that they oft stood very close to each other to whisper, it was obvious that the words exchanged were cross ones.
  
  After court she would often dine with other ladies at court, even dining with the Queen on occasion, not letting her barbs and slurs annoy her. It was however interesting to dine with other ladies, excluding Queen Cersei and the Tyrell contingent, for now that she was the ward of Lord Tywin many assumed that they could ask her to obtain favours from Lord Tywin. That these same "ladies" had laughed along with Cersei"s cruel barbs and had not even let forth a gasp of outrage at how Joffrey had treated her struck her as comical that even if she had any influence over Lord Tywin, why would she intervene on their behalf?
  
  As was required of her she would recount all of this to Lord Tywin, and she had decided to test Lord Tywin with a seemingly innocent question about why the ladies of court thought she would intercede for them with him it had drawn something unexpected from the Old Lion, a brief chuckle.
  
  "They ask because they still think you stupid Lady Sansa, your mask of the silly little northern girl still fools them."
  
  She did not know how to answer this comment from the Old Lion, so she just stayed silent, instead rising and giving him a curtsy and leaving his presence.
  
  The Old Lion was indeed a cold, ruthless man but one who always stayed true to his course; there was no false modesty or flattering talk in him, just the brutal, honest truth. She supposed that with the power of the Lannister name and the bottomless pit of gold that was Casterly rock it was easy to be as such, to not have a care in the world for the sensibilities of others. To be able to command such fear, such power made her shudder, and her knowledge that she was utterly trapped by the Lord Hand, that she was caught under his paw helpless was terrifying, soul destroying.
  
  For she knew that her fate was so bound up with that of Tywin Lannister as to be almost inseparable, for it was him who held her life in her hands, even if she was returned to her family it would be by his leave, and no one else"s. And in returning her, would she not just be swapping one prison for another? Exchanging this gilded cage in Kings Landing for a marriage to whomever Robb and mother thought best to advance the cause of House Stark?
  
  That was assuming Robb even agreed to whatever terms Lord Tywin was proposing, she had not heard of him entreating with Joffrey for her life before the Lord Tywin had returned to Kings Landing.
  
  Of course Joffrey would never have entertained the idea of exchanging her for Jamie, for he was either too stupid or too enamoured with beating her to consider this course.
  
  And despite the Queen"s so called concern for Ser Jamie she knew of no moves made by her to exchange her for Tywin"s elder son.
  
  Thus it seemed that Lord Tywin was making all the running on the matter of returning her to her family as the price for releasing Ser Jamie.
  
  And if her brother refused to come to terms with the Old Lion? She knew his pride would never let such a slight go unpunished, and she shivered despite the heat of Kings Landing, the Old Lion would end House Stark without a seconds thought if Robb refused to deal with him.
  
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  Bronn III
  
  Working for the Hand of the King was a rewarding experience, if a rather boring one, though he was not unthankful for this, after all standing around and earning coin was far better than having to fight for one"s life to earn it.
  
  For him the last few weeks had mostly consisted of accompanying either Lord Tywin, the Imp or the Stark girl on forays from the Tower of the Hand into the wider Red Keep or out into Kings Landing. He preferred the Imp"s company if he was honest, at least he was chatty and amiable, Lord Tywin was as grim faced and stoic as ever, and was always accompanied by a large contingent of Red Cloaks, the Stark girl barely said a word to him beyond the minimum expected.
  
  But accompanying the Stark girl was interesting enough for another reason; he got to view quite a bit of high born ladies in their natural environment, and he was frankly disappointed. Of the unmarried ones the only ones who stirred his loins were the coterie of young maids that flocked around Lady Margaery and her grandmother. And he was not stupid enough to even entertain any thoughts of them being available, tempting though the thoughts were, for the way the younger female members of the Highgarden party dressed was highly diverting he had to admit.
  
  He had been approached and several offers had been made, but by only piddling minor Houses, and not an eldest daughter without an elder brother among them. Never mind that some were as wide as a desiter at the hips or some not even flowered yet.
  
  No he could wait for his promised Lordship and its attendant benefits, the Seven Kingdoms were still at war, Houses were sure to fall the longer it dragged on. And seeing as where much of the fighting was happening in the Riverlands he very well might find himself ending up there. Not that he had any real preference, though a Westerlander House with a gold mine would be ideal though wouldn"t it? Aye, a gold mine and a golden haired maid with no father or elder brothers alive, and her golden cunny for him to pump his seed into...
  
  It was a nice fantasy alright, and he had even found a whore with which he could practice and imagine his golden haired high born wife. A girl called Merie, a whore in Chataya"s brothel, all porcelain skin, golden curls and a shy demeanour. He had started patronising the place recently after running into Lord Baelish in one of the brothels the Master of Coin owned.
  
  Littlefinger had sought him out and had insisted on disrupting his selection of a whore to wet his cock. Oh they had passed innocuous sounding talk among them should someone be listening in but Bronn was no fool, the Master of Coin had been sounding him out on the possibility of him betraying Lord Tywin. Baelish had offered the usual inducements, coin, lands, a noble bride, and as much female flesh in any of his establishments as he could want.
  
  Bronn had been non committal on this offer, but after selecting two girls for that evening"s pleasure and having drained his stones into them several times he had left and resolved to inform Lord Tywin of Baelish"s offer. It had not surprised the Old Lion, nor had Lord Tywin reminded Bronn of the price of betraying him, he knew the words of the Rains of Castamere as well as anybody else in the Seven Kingdoms.
  
  So he had ignored the brothels owned by Baelish and instead patronised Chataya"s instead, an expensive habit he knew but so long as he was not too greedy he could well afford it.
  
  But it was not all standing around like a glorified, though well paid bodyguard, or listening to court intrigue, or even enjoying himself in the arms of whores; no there was some real work involved, or what Lord Tywin referred to as "wet work".
  
  Bronn sometimes wondered about the motives Lord Tywin had for killing those Bronn had dispatched, a handsome young lad who had apparently caught the eye of Loras Tyrell, a drunken knight who oft times performed as Joffrey"s fool, and a handful of others, all of whom he suspected were agents of either Varys or Baelish.
  
  Kings Landing and the Red Keep was filling up with nobles for the upcoming wedding of the little shit who was King and Margaery Tyrell, he wondered if getting his cock wet would improve Joffrey much. Probably not he mused, as he had said to the Imp, there was no cure for being a cunt.
  
  But the boy King was neutered for now; the Old Lion had slapped a collar, leash and muzzle on the boy pretty darned quick after the lad had appointed him Hand. Joffrey had raged and screamed and broken things in his rage, including killing a few whores belonging to Lord Baelish if rumours were to be believed, and he did believe that little shit was capable of doing stuff like that. Fine and all that was for whores, so long as you paid their pimp for the damages caused who cared about the lives of whores, but should the brat try something like that with say the Tyrell girl? Things were bad enough as it was without that sort of chaos, the Tyrell"s would never stand for that kind of treatment of their daughter, married or not, Queen or not.
  
  Hopefully the lad had some sense in his head, though he doubted it, fuck, maybe he would have to cut short his service to Lord Tywin, he did not want to be within a hundred leagues of what would kick off if that shit happened.
  
  Why had he thought these morose thoughts he wondered, and there he had been looking forwards to his glorious future? He needed cheering up he did, and he knew exactly what he needed, a whore"s lips around his cock. And despite the expense he wanted a particular whore, one with blonde hair and green eyes...
  
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  Tyrion VII
  
  "You wanted to see me father?" he asked, entering the Hand"s solar.
  
  His father was busy reading some scroll and he just raised his hand to bid him forwards to sit.
  
  He walked forwards, sat in a chair and waited for Tywin Lannister to finish what he was reading. His father"s insistence on these little games of power were well known to him by now so he ignored it, instead remembering the pleasant night he had spent with Shae.
  
  Ah but the girl was inventive and skilled, not to say that he was not either, and she enjoyed his ministrations as much as he enjoyed hers. He was old enough and skilled enough to know when a woman was faking it and Shae was not faking it, despite her former profession.
  
  But it wasn"t only her body or her skilled mouth and tongue that Tyrion liked about Shae, it was her fierce, fiery temper and the fact that she did not suffer fools gladly. That and the fact that she was a good source of gossip about the goings on in the Tower of the Hand and the Red Keep.
  
  And there was much to retell, of how Joffrey ranted over being denied his former plaything Sansa Stark and had now taken to shooting condemned men from the cities jails with his crossbow to assuage his rage, a step up form skinning poor Tommen"s cats. And probably less expensive than sticking whores full with cross bow bolts no doubt. He wondered just what the Tyrell"s made of Joffrey; there was no sign of the wedding being called off, far from it in fact. Surely they were not blind to what Joffrey was; he would never let any daughter of his within a hundred feet of Joffrey, the promise of being made Queen or not.
  
  And how the Queen of Thorns had agreed to exactly what his father had wanted, namely for the Tyrell"s to defray half the costs of the royal wedding? If that was not highly suspicious nothing was, yet when he had mentioned this to his father Tywin had just given his an enigmatic look and informed that there was nothing to worry about.
  
  When he persisted his father had replied that of course there were spies, that "rats" as he referred to them were a fact of life, but some scuttling rats running back to tattle to their masters were useful, especially when the rats only told their masters what one wanted them to report.
  
  Nobles were arriving in greater numbers every day, the contingent from Dorne were due any day now, and he had been delegated to meet them by order of the man sitting opposite to him. Why did his father insist on giving him all the shitty jobs? Probably because he was good at shitty jobs he mused, after all the drains in Casterly rock had never worked better after he had been put in charge of them!
  
  Eventually his farther ceased reading and placed the document on his desk before him.
  
  "Congratulations are in order Tyrion" he said, turning his head to look at him.
  
  "Oh, how so father?" he asked, instantly on guard, terrified by what his father had done.
  
  "Don"t look so scared, you won"t have to face the rigours of the wedding bed just yet....."
  
  "Why, if I did not know better father I would think you were developing a sense of humour, maybe my company is rubbing off on you?"
  
  "Enough with the japing, you are to be promoted Tyrion, you are to be made Master of Coin."
  
  "Erh, we already have a Master of coin, oh wait, Baelish...."
  
  "Yes Baelish....Lord Baelish will travel to the Vale immediately after the Joffrey"s wedding with the crown"s instructions to woo and wed Lysa Arryn."
  
  "Which is why he was made Lord of Harenhall."
  
  "Which was why he was made Lord of Harenhall. Though Lysa Arryn would not care if Baelish was a pot scrubber, his new Lordship gives him the required status to placate her bannermen."
  
  "Oh?"
  
  "Baelish fostered with the Tully"s as a boy, where he developed an unhealthy obsession with Catelyn Tully while Lysa Tully developed an equally unhealthy obsession with him. We all know he challenged Brandon Stark to a duel over Catelyn, and that he was left with quite the fetching scar by the Stark heir, Catelyn had to beg Brandon not to kill him apparently. But what is less well known is that during Baelish"s time recovering from his wounds Lysa Tully got herself pregnant by him, the daft bint then told her father of this, convinced he would let her and Petyr marry. What Hoster Tully did instead was have his guards lock the girl in her room and hold her down as he poured Moon Tea down her throat day after day until the girl bled out her bastard."
  
  "That would explain why Lysa Tully had such difficulty keeping a child....." remarked Tyrion quietly, shocked at the actions of the Tully patriarch. It seemed that his father was not the only Great Lord who was also a colossal cunt.
  
  "It would" replied Tywin in matter of fact tone "it would also not help that Lysa Arryn continued to take moon tea to make sure Jon Arryn"s seed never quickened in her womb."
  
  "I must say father, you are remarkably well informed on these matters" Tyrion observed, wondering not for the first time how his father seemed to know the intimate secrets of so many in Westeros.
  
  "I am" Tywin remarked, indicating that this was as far as the topic would go, so Tyrion decided on another tack "Baelish....all that, well graft you suspect?"
  
  "It will be your job to root it out, branch and stem, every appointment Baelish made is suspicious, I suspect that at least three in every six wages the crown pays out is fictitious, going straight into Littlefinger"s pockets. The Goldcloaks have over five thousand men on their books but I"d wager there are less than three thousand of them in reality, the same goes for gaolers and other staff. Once Littlefinger has left Kings Landing I want you to act ruthlessly Tyrion, end the corruption that Littlefinger has made endemic."
  
  "You ask a lot father, you place a heavy burden on my narrow shoulders" he quailed a little, Master of Coin! And to a bankrupt realm no less!
  
  "I have every confidence in you Tyrion, you"re a Lannister" his father replied, his tone indicating that refusal or failure was not an option.
  
  "Well, the littlest Lannister" he quipped, unable to resist making the jape.
  
  "Your duties as Master of Coin I have somewhat lightened for you Tyrion, you will thank me for that."
  
  "Oh?"
  
  "Yes, all the crown"s debt, minus a few piddling tens of thousands of dragons, is now owned by me" Tywin announced, to Tyrion"s horror he realised his father"s face actually sported a smile, a small one, and a fleeting one, but Tyrion Lannister was stunned, his father, the Old Lion, the Warden of the West, the Lord of Casterly rock, had actually smiled!
  
  He shuddered, the end of the world must be nigh, but as he put aside the revelation that his father actually could smile he pondered what his father had said.
  
  "You opened the vaults?"
  
  "I did."
  
  "Why?"
  
  "Is it not obvious? Robert ruined the realm with his spending, but even he could not have racked up as much debt as he did, Baelish was up to something Tyrion, the crown owed the Iron Bank over three million gold dragons, it would struggle to pay the interest on that, let alone the principle. And that is before the other three million owed to the Faith, the Tyrells and various merchant interests. Three million gold dragons is a sizeable amount for the Iron Bank, should the crown be unable to pay that might force the Iron Bank to start calling in loans all over Westeros. And I"ll bet you the last copper penny that House Lannister has that Littlefinger is flush with coin and he will step in and "rescue" a good many noble Houses who have just had their loans called in. That greasy little shylock cunt already started this war, nearly got you killed, murdered one Hand of the King and betrayed another..."
  
  "And Baelish is being rewarded for all of this with effective Lordship of the Vale?"
  
  "Is he?" his father gave him another horrifying smile and Tyrion shivered uncontrollably despite his best efforts.
  
  "Ah, I see....." he replied, realising that Lord Baelish"s remaining days were about to become very truncated.
  
  "Indeed, thankfully our ancestors have been diligent in not opening our vaults; the sum needed for the Crowns debts had not significantly impacted our fortunes. But it did not sit well with me doing it either, and nor should it."
  
  "So in effect, I will be working to make sure the Iron Throne repays House Lannister, and as the largest single holder of said debt you will be able to effectively control the Iron Throne for the next two decades at least. I"m impressed father, but why me? I mean a lifetime of outrageous wealth has made me very good at spending coin, not at making it."
  
  "You"re a Lannister, you will do fine, I have no worry. And what do people always say of Lannister"s?"
  
  "That we always pay our debts?"
  
  "Exactly."
  
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  Sansa VIII
  
  Sansa opened an eye; there, she did hear that sound, a clash of steel on steel, distant though, she rolled over and pulled back the curtain from her bed, cocking her head to listen. Her heart suddenly clenched, that was the sound of men practising at swords, at for a moment her mind had flown back to Winterfell, and those sounds were her brothers practising.
  
  But no, she was not in Winterfell, she was in the Tower of the Hand, a prisoner, and her father and two youngest brothers were dead, her younger sister missing and presumed dead and her brother a rebel at war with the Iron Throne. She looked at the light filtering around the edge of the curtains drawn over her windows; it had that distinctive pre dawn grey hue about it. Curiosity got the better of her and she got up out of bed, pulled on a dressing gown over her nightdress and walked to the window, pulling the curtains back. Below a contingent of Red Cloaks practiced, wielding wooden swords she noticed, she knew that the wooden training swords weighed twice as much as real swords so as to strengthen the men"s arms. Other Red Cloaks were running back and forth, back and forth, while others did sit ups and push ups, it all looked so regimented to her, so organised. But then she expected nothing less from the Lord of Casterly rock. And speaking of the man, there he was, in simple pants and a loose linen shirt, stretching and twisting before donning a padded gambeson and accepting a sword from one of his men.
  
  A knight stepped up with his sword drawn and without warning the two men"s blades were in motion, silvery arc"s in the pre dawn light, the high ring of clashing steel indicating that the blades had met.
  
  Sansa watched as the Old Lion and the knight sparred, never giving each other an inch, their blades whirling and meeting almost too fast for her to follow. On and on the sparing session went, with no sign of either man tiring, she became almost mesmerised by the clash, her focus intent on just the Old Lion and the knight. The spell was broken when suddenly the Old Lion"s blade slipped past the knight"s guard to rest on his shoulder at his neck.
  
  The knight laughed at this and the two men clasped arms before the next man stepped up, a Red Cloak officer and once again he and the Old Lion sparred, and once again the same result, Lord Tywin winning. He fought four further men, two of them managing to beat him before Lord Tywin called for his squires and watched the two blonde haired boys spar; he would point out flaws in the boy"s techniques and sometimes step in to demonstrate their mistakes.
  Lord Tywin was not the only one sparring, the other knights and Red Cloak Officers were also sparring but she had no eyes for them, only for the Old Lion. The man was like a force of nature, proud, arrogant, strong and what was it Cersei had once said? Oh yes, "Lions do not care for the opinions of sheep", and so utterly devoted to imposing his will upon everything he encountered.
  
  That her brother had even managed a string of victories against the man seemed incredible, but she knew that the longer this war went on the more it favoured Lord Tywin and the less it favoured Robb. With the strength of the Tyrell"s behind him he would soon crush the forces of the Stark"s and the Tully"s.
  
  The only solution to the war that kept Robb alive was that he agreed to trade Jamie for her, but with a sudden lurch of her heart she realised that Robb had probably left it too late. While his son"s safe return was of paramount importance to Lord Tywin she could not see this fact staying his hand any further than it already had been. A significant number of troops from the Reach were already marching into the Riverlands to bolster the Lannister forces there, after the wedding she knew Lord Tywin planned to take to the field again against Robb, his brother Lord Kevan would replace Lord Tywin as Hand for the duration of the campaign in the Riverlands.
  
  She worried about that, for she did not know Lord Kevan, according to Lord Tyrion his uncle was a much more agreeable person than the Old Lion, but a man who had slavishly followed his brother down the years. Would he command the same respect, the same obedience, the same fear as Lord Tywin? No of course he would not, and thus her position would be less secure, who knows what Cersei, Joffrey, the Tyrell"s or even Lord Baelish might try in the Old Lion"s absence?
  
  And Lord Tywin being back in the field meant that no deal had been reached for Ser Jamie and almost certain defeat for Robb. The Hand was a harsh, cruel man, and she knew he would not hesitate to enact the Kings Justice, especially if his son Jamie was harmed or killed. Panic gripped her; her breathing became laboured, thoughts flying through her mind unbidden, confusing, jumbled, terrible, until a cool voice whispered that she already knew what had to be done to save her family, that she had always known, but had been too foolish to admit it.
  
  She spun away from the window in shock, as if her hands had been stung by something where she gripped the curtains. She railed at what her mind had just whispered to her, no, what was she thinking, that was madness, pure madness!
  
  She paced her room, her mind at war with itself, plans twisting and forming, but all circling that same chilling thought that had come suddenly, and definitely unwelcome, to her mind but a scant few minutes ago.
  
  She plopped down on the bed; her pacing had only helped to enrage her emotions further and that was how Shae had found her sat up on the edge of her bed, lost in thought, trails of tears down the skin of her face. She could taste the salt of her tears on her lips, tears for the sacrifice that she would make for her family; feel the sour bile at the back of her throat, reminding her that she did this not of her own free will, but for family, for duty, for honour, because she knew winter was coming.
  
  Shae ran to her and tried to comfort her, but she pushed to girl away, hah! Girl was it, and Shae being what? A good six years older than her...she had Shae fetch for her the usual tray from the kitchen for her to break her fast and as she ate she contemplated the day ahead of her. When her two Ladies in Waiting joined her she announced her plans for the day, first she would bathe and be cleaned and groomed, then she would pick a dress for the effect she wanted and then get her hair done, before she went to seal the future of House Stark.
  
  Bathed and with scented oils rubbed into her body Sansa and her two Ladies in waiting contemplated her wardrobe, she needed to make sure she portrayed just the right image, for she had only one chance at this. Dresses were examined and discarded, until finally she picked one, and she let herself have a little smile, it was absolutely perfect, its colour, its fit, the way it was cut, everything just seemed right about this dress.
  
  Shae and her Ladies in Waiting got her into the dress, an underdress of dark silver, its bodice straight cut and elaborately embroidered, with long, tight sleeves that reached to just above her wrist. Over it she wore a second dress of a vibrantly white silk, it was cut away to just fit over her shoulders and had wide sleeves that ended just below her elbows. Shae did her hair into a single, thick braid that she wore over her right shoulder.
  
  Finally deciding everything was right she nodded and she walked out the door, announcing that she needed to see the Hand of the King at once. A Red Cloak bowed to her and dashed off, the three other guards remaining outside her door. She shut her door and stood back into the centre of her room, waiting. She refused to let any nerves show, nor engage in any idle chit chat or gossip with Fiyona or Breyna, who just tattled on endlessly about why she might be going to see the Hand of the King, but she could see concern in Shae"s eyes.
  
  Eventually after what seemed like an age there was a knock on her door and a guard announced that Lord Tywin would see her.
  
  So she stepped out of her rooms and made her way to the Hand"s solar, escorted by two Red Cloaks, she was announced and bade enter, as was customary the Lord Hand was busy writing. He beckoned her forwards with his free hand but never looked up, continuing to scribble away, until he finished and looked up.
  
  Sansa swore she saw the tiniest look of surprise in his eyes but she could not be certain, so fleeting was it.
  
  "Lady Sansa, how may I be of service" the Old Lion purred, like she was inconsequential to him.
  
  She nearly lost her nerve then and there and it took almost all of her will to not bolt from the room, hysterical. "I, I would come to ask if there has been any further news of my brother Robb stark and negotiations to trade me for Ser Jamie?"
  
  "Should there be any developments I would inform you as a matter of urgency my Lady" he replied smoothly, letting her know that there had been no change.
  
  She took a deep breath, shuddering despite her best efforts "I know, I know that the military situation does not favour my brother, that, that should he continue to resist he and his forces will likely be defeated."
  
  Lord Tywin did not respond immediately, letting the silence hang uneasy before he replied "that is the most likely scenario Lady Sansa" with a coldness that shocked even her.
  
  "But, but nothing is certain in war is it my Lord, it may take much longer to defeat Robb Stark than you expect, he might evade your clutches, slip back into the North. And even if you defeat the North you still have the Iron Born and Stannis to deal with."
  
  "Surely you mean "when" I defeat the North my Lady, not "if"?"
  
  Damm that man! She felt like exploding with frustration, was there noting that could get under Tywin Lannister"s skin?
  
  "No matter, you still need to end the war with the North and the Riverlands as soon as possible and get Ser Jamie back alive. What if I told you I could guarantee both those outcomes my Lord Hand?"
  
  For a second Sansa was sure she saw fear in the eye"s of Tywin Lannister, but she put it down to a trick of the light "I would like to propose a marriage alliance between House Stark and House Lannister...I will marry into House Lannister to bring about the end of this war."
  
  "Jamie is in the Kingsguard and Tyrion is unsuitable for your hand, no I"m sorry my Lady..."
  
  "....who said anything about your sons Lord Tywin, I meant you."
  
  "Oh bugger me sideways" was all that came out of the mouth of Tywin Lannister, his face frozen in shock.
  
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  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Tywin I
  
  Get a grip on yourself man! Focus, focus, let the mask of Tywin Lannister slip back into place, let his memories, his thoughts surface, pull back from being in control, and centre yourself, and for god"s sake don"t let slip a gaff like you just did!
  
  Fuck, that had been a close call; I had dropped our facade for a split second, but after a few calming breaths I felt better, more in control of the situation.
  
  Hah! "In control of the situation", fuck that, this was Westeros, of ever the saying that control was an illusion was true it was true of this fantasy shit hole.
  
  Unlike any of the stories I was so fond of that described "Self Inserts" it, it had not exactly happened like that....it had been a strange process I had to admit. It had been akin to dreaming, like a trance that had at first been fuzzy and indistinct, barely remembered like watching a daydream drift by the eye of my mind. On and on the dream had gone, slowly getting more distinct, for what had seemed like days, and steadily becoming sharper in focus, until it had seemed so real, so vivid, until suddenly, it had been real.
  
  Thankfully it had been at night when I had "awoken" from my extended dream time, to find myself occupying the same mind and body as Tywin fucking Lannister, who was not one bit pleased to have someone else sharing his personal corner of the universe, or multiverse, whatever.
  
  Something instinctive had taken over and I had grabbed control of Tywin"s body, so unlike my own, and I had banished the screaming and raging consciousness of the Old Lion to the depths of my mind. Taking a few calming breaths I had brought the man"s mind back up and tried to reason with him, no joy so I once again had consigned him to the dark recesses of our shared mind.
  
  And so had started the long, and not altogether successful battle for dominance over Tywin Lannister, who never surrendered despite me having the ultimate control over things. During the forced march from Harrenhall to Kings Landing I and Tywin had become more acquainted with each other, and a certain truce, a certain modus operandi had been worked out between us. Of course Tywin had nearly burst a blood vessel on more than one occasion when he learned of what I knew regarding Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. To be honest the Lord of Casterly rock seemed equally insulted that he was a fictional character in a book than the behaviour of his children. Though learning the revelation of his golden twins incest had resulted in a rage of such epic proportions that I almost lost control to Tywin.
  
  Basically Tywin remained "Tywin", I let him "drive" most of the time, only taking over the reigns as needed to prevent him from being, well, "too Tywin" and I was always available as an "advisor" in his ear as needed. I could take over whenever I wanted, and most of the time I was sat firmly in the "co-pilot"s seat" ready to take over as needed, and there was nothing Tywin could do about it, and it always annoyed him when it did so, but fuck him, it was my skin too now!
  
  I could feel and experience everything he did; I had full access to all his memories, but the reverse was not true for him, he could only see what I wanted him to see and if I wanted to I could "lock" him away, he would experience nothing of what I got up to in his body. He hated that, oh god did he hate that with a passion, so it was used as a threat to make him behave himself.
  
  By the time we reached Kings Landing we were, if not happy about the situation, at least mutually resigned to each other"s company, I let him drive during the battle and stayed quiet. And what a battle it was, very bloody and chaotic, and certain to give me nightmares for decades to come, something Tywin mocked me for, calling me a "weak milksop". It was after the battle that we put our plan into action, well my plan really, heavily influenced by Tywin"s ruthlessness.
  
  Some interesting physical side effects of our merger was that Tywin"s body appeared to be getting "younger", something he was quite delighted with, he immediately started sparring again with a vengeance. Not that he was out of shape, far from it, Tywin Lannister was fitter than I had ever been and he was in tip top shape for a man of his age, on earth or on Westeros. And nor had he stopped sparring either, but he had been suffering from the accumulated wear and tear of age and was not as quick or supple as he had been.
  
  Dragging my mind back to the present I gave Tywin the reigns, let"s see how he handles this, should be interesting to say the least...
  
  "Why me?" he? I? asked the Stark girl, who looked nothing like Sophie Turner, apart from having red hair and blue eyes, and she was roughly show age, maybe a little more, so sixteen at most, and very, very good looking I noticed, much to Tywin"s annoyance. Most of the people (characters?) that I had met so far were a bizarre and eclectic mix of show and book in terms of ages and looks. Kevan and Tyrion looked like their show counterparts, Cersei looked nothing like her show character, and was smoking hot, how that idiot Robert Baratheon had spurned her for an endless succession of whores and serving wenches was beyond me. That was another thing Tywin did not like, the very inappropriate thoughts I had for his daughter. I"d delighted in rubbing his face in his twins incest at that, and at the fact that Cersei had probably enough daddy issues that she would fuck me, if I wanted to play that particular game of "happy families", which of course I did not thank you very much, never stick it in the cray-cray as they say...
  
  "As you said, Ser Jamie cannot inherit; you do not want Lord Tyrion to inherit, you have in effect no heirs of the body to leave Casterly rock to. I am young, my mother birthed five healthy children without any miscarriages or difficulties, my family is of sufficient status for me to be your wife. Marrying me will also end the war, my brother and mother will cease to fight so long as the terms agreed are not overly onerous."
  
  "You presume a lot Lady Stark, firstly that I would want to remarry" oh yes that old chestnut of Tywin"s, his obsession with Joanna, not that I could blame him, from his memories she was beautiful, intelligent and Tywin loved her completely, absolutely, giving of himself to her without reserve. Which was why her death had so damaged him, had made him retreat from life so much, not to mention stoke his hatred of Tyrion. Had not stopped him from fucking whores though, no for hypocrisy might as well have been Tywin Lannister"s middle name. The randy old goat had come to favour mild BDSM, where he was tied up and the whores rode him, no humiliation or other such games, nope, that would be too much for him, but a mere surrender of his will for the hour or two that he needed to purge his flesh of what he saw as his weakness.
  
  Ehhh, wasn"t my cup of tea really if I was honest, I was much more conventional sort of a guy, and I did have that tunnel to Chataya"s...
  
  Ending this somewhat pleasant meandering daydream I brought my mind back to the present and I considered the Stark girl, Tywin thought her marginally intelligent, a cut above most women. Me, I had suspected from the moment I had met this Sansa Stark that this was not the same girl as in the Books or the TV show, that there was something more going on behind those huge pale blue orbs that stared out from a striking face. I had even considered that she was an SI like me, but had dismissed this pretty quickly, multiple SI"s seemed to be rare enough in GOT fan-fiction so I assumed the same here, in, well, reality.
  
  "Secondly, the crown now holds the whip hand in this war, as you pointed out we can crush the Starks with the help of the Tyrell"s, your brother wasted his chance to end this war on favourable terms months ago....."
  
  Let"s see what Sansa Stark comes up with in response to that....
  
  "In marrying me you gain the power of the North as allies, and the Riverlands, and a counter to the power of House Tyrell, a solid geographical block with mutual borders and advantages that reinforce each other. King Joffrey will attain his majority in a little over a year, he will not retain you as Hand of the King, you need alliances to preserve the relative power of House Lannister against what is sure to be a reduction in your power at court."
  
  Not bad, even Tywin, despite his natural contempt for anyone apart from himself granted that the girl made some little sense. Of course it was blindingly obvious that the girl was suffering from a very, very severe case of Stockholm syndrome, and was obviously not thinking straight. But Tywin was intrigued by the girl"s offer, thinking it showed a "modicum of sense".
  
  "I am no knight of the stories that maidens like to read of Lady Stark, I am old enough to be your grandfather, I am not an easy man to live with, I will suffer no fools in my presence, least of all a wife who will be the Lady of Casterly rock, and the mother of my heirs."
  
  "I am not a girl my Lord Hand, those stories and for idiots, and to make sure that by the time a girl realises they are lies it is too late."
  
  Interesting, very interesting, so I gave the girl the smallest fraction of a nod indicating that she should continue.
  
  "I will do my duty by you my Lord, I will give you the heirs you desire, the alliances that you need, in return all I ask is that you spare my brother and my mother."
  
  "A tall ask given who sits on the Iron Throne my Lady."
  
  "You rule for now, once Joffrey is King should he decide to repudiate the treaty House Lannister and Stark will be united by marriage, do you think he would be that stupid?"
  
  "The boy took your fathers head on a whim, beat you for sport my Lady, before the entire court, he triggered a riot in Kings Landing over a petty insult, kills whores and condemned men for sport. He is more than stupid enough."
  
  Tywin wanted to sneer at the innocence of the girl, I froze our face into immobility, not letting the cynical Old Lion have his way, instead I said "You come to me with talk of marriage and of being the mother to the heirs of Casterly rock, and of alliances. But that is not the real reason why you come to me Lady Sansa, you come before me because you want three things before all others, three things that consume your every waking moment. Firstly you want to ensure that your brother and mother survive this war, that there is something left of your family when the armies march home at the end of all this. The second thing you want is to be no longer a pawn in other men"s games, you want to decide your own fate, who you will be and what you will be. This is why you propose marriage to me, your last, final and desperate act of freedom, because you know that this land offers you nothing but slavery cloaked in the cloying language of duty, of motherhood, of a woman"s lot in life. And thirdly, you want to see King Joffrey dead...."
  
  The girl was smart, and by now well schooled in hiding her emotions but I saw that I had produced the effect I wanted by the slightest widening of her eyes.
  
  "Damm you Lord Tywin, damm you! You sit there, thinking you know my mind, you know nothing!" she hissed at me, Tywin was mildly amused by the display, but I was not fooled.
  
  Now to the nub of the issue, say yes or no to marrying Sansa Stark, and all the ickiness factor that it would involve, never mind the sheer wrongness of it in the first place. Well fuck Tyrion for a start, though I liked the dwarf, he was not getting her, I had plans for him and marrying Sansa was not one of them. Letting the Tyrell"s marry her to Willas or Loras? Nope, not happening either, no way was I letting those grasping cunts have any more power than absolutely necessary. So that left letting her return to her family and be used to seal alliances in the North or to others, and strengthen the North. I may be a Stark fanboi but Tywin was a ruthlessly cold and calculating individual, so long as you did not trigger his own very special set of "daddy issues". And he was pretty adamant that we i.e. the Lannister"s should retain control of Sansa Stark.
  
  So that left marrying her to Lancel, or "lumpy" as High Plains Drifter was fond of calling him. God I missed not having him to bounce ideas off for GOT stories, when all of this was just pixels on a screen and bytes in a computer, and not fucking real.....
  
  No, Lancel was a halfwit, a pretty halfwit but a halfwit nonetheless, and I, or Tywin were not going to gift Sansa Stark to any of our banner men, no way. Jamie would never marry her either, he was uninterested in anything that did not involve swords or his sister"s blonde cunt, Tywin snarling at this in my head. The Old Lion was none too pleased about his twin"s antics or my disparaging comments on the subject.
  
  So that left me, us, whatever, it was confusing sometimes....and it made me squirm, the girl was a child no matter her protestations, okay sixteen was over the age of consent where I was from but come on....Tywin growled at me from the depths of my mind, reminding me to stop procrastinating and make a fucking decision, and that he, bless his ice cold heart had no problem about marrying Sansa for the potential political gain that could be extracted. Especially with the knowledge that our forced union had gifted him, he knew that Sansa was potentially an important piece in the Game of Thrones.
  
  Okay, fuck it, canon was shite anyway and Sansa"s fate, in the books or the show was pretty crap, I can make it slightly less crap by marrying her, bleh. But I was going to hedge my bets, and Tywin once more growled with anger, cursing my "weakness".
  
  "You are a child playing an adults game, but you have been playing it for scant months Lady Sansa, I have been playing this game since I was even younger than you. You are learning fast, but you could not learn fast enough to survive what is coming, despite the promise that you show. I will open discussions with King Robb Stark on the terms for the ending of this war, and to ask for his permission for your hand in marriage. You will write him a note informing him of this, and how you asked for this marriage, not me...."
  
  "Yes my Lord" Sansa replied, a huge pair of cool blue eyes regarding me from across my desk.
  
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  Think an SI into Ned Stark with a Homo Drakensis twist sounds like fun? Well the Black Wolf [NSFW] is the story for you then!
  What would you did if you woke up in Westeros and discovered you had been subjected to an enforced gender change? See the adventures of The Littlest Lioness for all the delightful details...
  Ever fancied being Tywin Lannister? Well now you can find out, courtesy of The Lion in Winter
  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Cersei II
  
  Anger, that"s what she felt now, every day, anger, rage, frustration, all bundled up into an inseparable knot that sat heavy in her stomach, each day a torment as nothing she could do seemed to be able to assuage it.
  
  Everything was piling on top of her, Joffrey marrying that slut Margaery, the disgusting little Imp still alive, her sweet Myrcella lost to her, packed off to Dorne, her own father undermining her, and Jamie still being a prisoner of the brother of that simpering little northern cunt Sansa!
  
  She needed Jamie back, she needed him inside her, she could not go another day without him, she could not! That weak willed idiot Lancel, while he may have been a Lannister, he was no lion, she had ached, yearned for a golden cock inside her, been as open and as wet as she had ever been, and he had failed utterly to please her. Oh he had spilled his seed into her, after far to brief a time thrusting into her, but she felt nothing, it did not move her the way her golden twin did when he gave her his seed.
  
  Her mind was a whirl constantly, she seemed unable to concentrate on anything except how at every turn she was being thwarted, obstructed, betrayed, and with seemingly nothing she could do about it. Orders that would have been previously been obeyed automatically were either ignored or took far too long for her liking to be completed, and she was sure that her servants were all in the pocket of her father. So she had done what anyone in her position would have, she had dismissed the lot of them on the spot, nobody spied on her! She spied on others, she was the Queen Mother! She was a Lannister!
  
  But despite decisive action on her part this had not removed the ever present feeling, that grew stronger every day, that she was being watched, that everyone was plotting against her, scheming. She could hear them, whispering and murmuring when they thought she was not listening, they could deny it all they wanted, but she knew!
  
  Even sleep, usually a sweet oblivion was no respite, her dreams were all nightmares, jumbled up and terrifying, but yet she could make little sense of them. She would wake every morning more tired than when she closed her eye"s the night before.
  
  It was only by drinking to excess that she could guarantee that the nightmares would not come, that she could sleep the blessed sleep of the dead, with just a blank nothingness before she would awake to face the horrors of the day.
  She had gone to the Maester about it, her father"s personal one, who was now the temporary Grand Maester. He had prescribed essence of nightshade to help her sleep, but it had done little to cure her, failing completely to dull the night terrors she faced. Milk of the Poppy was better but he refused to give her but very small amounts of the substance, she had gotten around this by visiting several of the other Maesters in the Red Keep to acquire the necessary amounts of the potion. When Maester Braddock had discovered this her supply had instantly been cut off, and she had been subjected to a stern lecture from her father about the dangers of unsupervised use of Milk of the Poppy.
  
  She had felt like screaming in sheer frustration and rage at her father, but she had restrained herself, knowing it would be of no avail, and would only reduce her worth in his eyes. So instead she had screamed at her newly hired servants all she wanted too, but that had soon lost its appeal.
  
  The Queen of Thorns had provided some relief strangely at the beginning, the old crone still had her wits about her and trading jabs with her had been a somewhat pleasurable experience. But she had found herself increasingly unable to concentrate when provoked and so rather than give the Tyrell hag the pleasure of being able to land verbal blows without retort she had given up on baiting Olenna Tyrell.
  
  She was going to be removed from Kings Landing, of that she was certain, either by Margaery whispering sweet nothings into Joffrey"s ear or by her father forcing her to marry again. White hot anger blazed in her at the thoughts of Margaery, that slut was probably already sucking Joffrey"s cock, making him putty in her hands. And once they were wed the Tyrell"s would wrap their thorns around the Iron Throne so tight they would never be separated! Why could no one see this? Why did her father, the Old Lion not see this? Why was he blind to the threat of the Tyrell"s?
  
  But then she knew why didn"t she? It was that flame haired slut Sansa Stark, all false modesty and simpering stupidity. She probably had her father reduced to a fool lusting after her cunt, why else would he spend a fortune on the clothes he draped over her, why else would he parade her at court?
  
  Her father was just like all men, give them a sniff of cunny and they would chase it like an inexhaustible pack of hounds till they could bury their manhood"s in it. And she was sure that the Stark bitch was using her wiles on her father, in fact she was certain that the little slut had already offered her maidenhead to her father, and had wormed her way into the position of the Lord Hand"s mistress. She could see it, her pretend innocence, so alluring, so meek, offering herself to Tywin, all shy pretence, and whispering her poison in her father"s ear after he had pumped his seed into her. The little flame haired she-wolf, moaning and groaning as her father fucked her, giving a performance worthy of the finest mummery, breathlessly mouthing her father"s name, urging him on, begging for him to fill her belly with a bastard.
  
  "Fucking bitch!" she snarled, hurling an empty goblet away from her, hearing it crash against the wall of her chambers, and roll along the floor until it came to rest beside the divan on which she sprawled.
  
  One of her maids scurried to fill another goblet with wine and hand it to her, she scowled at the girl, taking a deep draught of the wine, she had become almost allergic to that sour Dornish piss that she had once favoured, preferring sweeter vintages from the Arbor. Thankfully this was what was in her goblet and she took another deep drink, feeling its warmth hit her stomach, she pondered if she should prepare for dinner, it would be one of those annoying court dinners that were becoming far too frequent for her taste.
  
  She had once enjoyed these feasts, where she could have displayed her power and her station, where she was the proud lioness beside her golden cub, as he displayed his majesty and wit. But now? Now she hated these feasts, a torture on her nerves, having to share the table with Olenna Tyrell and her brazen hussy of a granddaughter and that doe eyed slut Sansa Stark! Why the way the northern girl acted all meek and passive, hiding behind her stupid mask of courtesy, it enraged her, drove her to distraction, to a raging, almost uncontrollable need to lash out.
  
  And the way her father would cut her or Joffrey should they even dare to criticise his little wolf? Maddening, pure maddening, but at least the Stark chit might not be soon more for Kings Landing. She had picked up rumours that her father intended to trade her for Jamie soon and that the Old Lion himself intended to deliver her to the bosom of her family, and bring Jamie back to Kings Landing.
  
  She sighed at this, her Jamie, her perfect lover, her twin, her other half.....it would be good to have him back, and if Sansa Stark was the price, then so be it, the sooner the little Stark bitch was gone the better as far as she was concerned!
  
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  Think an SI into Ned Stark with a Homo Drakensis twist sounds like fun? Well the Black Wolf [NSFW] is the story for you then!
  What would you did if you woke up in Westeros and discovered you had been subjected to an enforced gender change? See the adventures of The Littlest Lioness for all the delightful details...
  Ever fancied being Tywin Lannister? Well now you can find out, courtesy of The Lion in Winter
  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Tyrion VIII
  
  He was standing outside the Kings Gate, a contingent of two hundred Red Cloaks arrayed behind and on the flanks of the road outside the towering gate. With him were Pod and Bronn, his father had delegated him to welcome the Dornish contingent that had been invited to the imminent royal wedding.
  
  Bronn, obviously bored waiting decided to enliven proceedings "how many Dornishmen does it take to fuck a goat..."
  
  "Please don"t" he replied, his voice showing something of his annoyance and frustration at being here. The last thing in the world he wanted to do was welcome the Dornish, but his father had insisted, observing that with the costs of the wedding finalised and with the festivities of the day nearly upon us he had spare time in his duties to meet the Dornish.
  
  Despite the somewhat more cordial relationship he now had with his father the Lord of Casterly rock remained a colossal cunt to his mind, and this duty imposed upon him only fitted with his father"s cuntish behaviour. He had still to even be able to discern even a hint of who his father intended to marry him off too, a fact that was annoying him something fierce. To add to matters he had stupidly told Shae of this one evening, to his defence he had been deep enough in his cups so as to loosen his tongue, and she had not been one bit impressed. That was an understatement of ever he had made one, cutlery had been smashed and much screeching had ensued, made worse the next morning when breaking his fast with his father. His father had asked him if the reason why a hysterical woman"s shrieks had disturbed his rest was his whore reacting to the news of his impending nuptials?
  
  As he said, still a colossal cunt.
  
  Not deterred Bronn continued "seems to me the smart place to meet travellers is in a tavern, that way one party is late, the other party can drink some ale inside."
  
  "This is the Prince of Dorne we are waiting for, not one of your former sellsword friends..."
  
  "If he is so dammed important" at this Bronn gestured to the contingent of Red Cloaks "how come they sent you to meet him?"
  
  Tyrion gave Bronn a nervous glance "there, there is bad blood between the Martell"s of Dorne and the Lannister"s of Casterly rock, has been for years."
  
  "And just in case the Martell"s of Dorne are looking to spill some Lannister blood, it may as well be yours eh?" quipped Bronn, seemingly oblivious to the Red Cloak officers bristling at this remark.
  
  "There is no need for such cynicism Ser Bronn, I happen to be an accomplished diplomat!"
  
  "Oh, that explains it then" replied Bronn deadpan.
  
  Ahead in the distance he could see banners detach themselves from the dust and haze that hung over the road "ah here we are" he announced, while bracing himself for what might turn out to be a singularly unpleasant task.
  
  "Can you read the Sigils?" he asked, taking a step forwards.
  
  "Yellow balls?" replied Bronn, shrugging his shoulders.
  
  "Wild Lemons on a purple field, House Dalt of Lemomwood" interjected Pod.
  
  "A vulture grasping a baby in its talons, House Blackmont, crowned skull, the Manwoodys of Kingsgrave...." Pod intoned, his eyes fixed on the approaching party.
  
  "The boy knows his Dornish Houses."
  
  "I need a Sigil" muttered Bronn.
  
  "And House Martell, a red sun pierced by a spear?" he asked, unable to stop a little bit of anxiety creep into his voice.
  
  "I don"t see it my Lord" replied Pod.
  
  Not good, not good at all, if the Dornish had snubbed Joffrey like that there would be consequences, and none of them likely to be pleasant.
  
  The head of the mounted column drew up before him so he swallowed and took another two steps forwards as the riders halted, fierce, dark faces stared down at him, no plate and armour for these lords, fine silks adorned the two who looked at him with little concealed contempt.
  
  "Well met my Lords, his grace King Joffrey Baratheon welcome"s you in his name. My Lord father, the Kings Hand, sends his greeting as well; I am Tyrion Lannister of Casterly rock, Chamberlin to the Hand of the King."
  
  Silence greeted his speech, only the neighing of horses broke the impasse, realising that he had to say something Tyrion asked "forgive me; I don"t see Prince Doran in your company?"
  
  "The Prince"s health forces him to remain at Sunspear. He sends his brother, Prince Oberyn to attend the royal wedding in his stead" announced one of the Dornishmen with just the slightest hints of a sneer on his face.
  
  Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck....the Red Viper, oh Gods, why?
  
  "Yes...the King...would be delighted to enjoy the company of a warrior as renowned as Prince Oberyn at his wedding feast..."
  
  "Will he?" asked the Dornishman who had revealed the presence of the Red Viper in an ironic tone.
  
  "And where is Prince Oberyn" he asked, a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
  
  "Arrived before dawn, not a man for welcome parties our Prince."
  
  "Very well....." he was fucked, well and truly fucked..."these men of the Red Cloaks will escort you to your quarters in the Red Keep, you must be weary after such a long journey" he gestured to the Lannister guards, idly wondering how many would be alive by the time they reached the Red Keep.
  
  As the Dornish party trotted by him and under the Kings gate he let out a breath he did not realise he had been holding, now to find the Red Viper before things got any worse than they already were.
  
  "Some accomplished diplomacy that was" snarked Bronn "now where?"
  
  "We must find Prince Oberyn before he kills somebody, or several somebodies..." he sighed.
  
  "And how do you plan on finding a single Dornishman in a city like Kings Landing?" Bronn asked, seemingly with genuine interest.
  
  "When you are famous for fucking half of Westeros, and you"ve just arrived in the capital after a month of travel by road, where would you go?"
  
  "I"d probably go to sleep, but I"m getting old" quipped Bronn.
  
  "Never mind, mount up!" he ordered Bronn and Pod; he had a good idea where he could find Prince Oberyn.
  
  Pod helped him up into his saddle and off they set, heading back into Kings Landing and making for the Street of Silk.
  
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  Think an SI into Ned Stark with a Homo Drakensis twist sounds like fun? Well the Black Wolf [NSFW] is the story for you then!
  What would you did if you woke up in Westeros and discovered you had been subjected to an enforced gender change? See the adventures of The Littlest Lioness for all the delightful details...
  Ever fancied being Tywin Lannister? Well now you can find out, courtesy of The Lion in Winter
  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Tywin II
  
  Tywin did not approve, but he was a hypocrite so I did not care, and anyway I was in command here so the Old Lion could fuck off as far as I was concerned. Thankfully I got the keys whenever whatever had zapped me here had waved his hand (wing?) and I had went from a middle aged IT manager to Warden of the fucking Westerlands!
  
  Tywin got to be my bitch, and he was so deliciously unhappy about it still, several months later on from our forced and very unwelcome joining. Being Tywin has its advantages but to my mind it came with a long list of disadvantages
  also, chiefly the coming Ice Zombie Apocalypse, and even before one can go to the nuclear option there is the lack of basic healthcare, pharmaceutical knowledge and the gigantic list of things the residents of a 21st century first world country take for granted.
  
  But of course the million dollar, or euro, or maybe Gold Dragon question was what was I supposed to do? Well that was not totally true, once I accepted that this was not the most vivid dream I had ever had, and that I was actually in Westeros, there was only really one thing to do.
  
  Well several things actually, despite being in a rather shit position from the perspective of the Game of Thrones, pity I was not still back in Harenhall though, as I might have been able to pick up Arya Stark while I was at it. And she did look like Massie Williams by the way, so yeah, another oddity to ponder there. Of course being SI"ed well before the onset of the War of the Five Kings would have been better, but meh, this is Westeros after all, I was just glad I had not been SI"ed sitting on that privy and with Tyrion pointing a loaded crossbow at me.
  
  And thus had begun the long and somewhat hilarious experience of plotting with Tywin Lannister to sort the mess of Westeros out. Being, erh, inserted into Tywin with him still resident did pose some unique challenges and opportunities it had to be said, but on the whole I would have preferred someone else, fuck even Tyrion was probably a better choice, but beggars can"t be choosers as they say.
  
  Oh and thankfully I"m not a beggar, far from it actually, the magic gold and silver mines of the Westerlands were still producing full tilt and showed no signs of becoming exhausted anytime soon. Which was just as well given the utterly disastrous balance of trade between Westeros and Essos. The Westerlands were almost singlehandedly responsible for the supply of gold and silver in the Seven Kingdoms, producing about seventy percent of all those precious metals. And down the centuries (millennia?) the Lannister"s and their banner men had hoarded the treasure that they wrested from the earth, Casterly rock alone was sitting on nearly eighty percent of all the gold it had ever mined. The banner men of the Lannister"s were similar, their vaults containing at least half of all the gold and silver they had ever mined. Scrooge Mc Duck and Smaug had nothing on the vast storehouses of gold and silver that gave the Lannister"s and the Westerlands their vast power. And it was just as well that all that precious metal was being kept aside, it would have flooded the world and caused rampant inflation, something pre industrial societies could be surprisingly vulnerable to.
  
  And so the pair of us had worked on what we were going to do about the clusterfuck that was Westeros, even managing to agree upon a compromise solution to the problem of the Golden Twins. We did not agree 100% on everything though, for the Old Lion was stubborn on certain matters, even when the realities of the situation were pointed out to him.
  
  This meant that killing Jamie and Cersei was out of the question completely, despite this being the safest option, so other means had been agreed upon for neutralising their threat. Also certain fictions would have to be maintained for the sake of not alerting the other players of the Game of Thrones that the Lord of Casterly rock no longer considered his twins to be of major concern to him.
  
  Sansa Stark"s offer, so out of character for what I knew of her from the books and the show had thrown me quite a bit, much to Tywin"s dark amusement, and it made me very uncomfortable to be honest. I was secretly hoping that Robb Stark would tell me to "go forth and procreate" but I had a sneaking suspicion that he would not. Tywin had of course quickly warmed to the idea of marrying Sansa Stark, seeing her purely as a means to procure more heirs to replace the current trio who were all defective to his eyes.
  
  He cared utterly nothing for Sansa"s feeling in the matter, simply seeing her as a High Born girl who knew her duty to her husband and who would carry it out. He barely even recognised that her gamble had been that of a frightened young girl, confused and alone, and he had scoffed at my "softness".
  
  But then I suppose you did not get to be where Tywin Lannister was without a certain level of callous ruthlessness. And with my, admittedly limited Meta Knowledge of ASOIF/GOT coupled to Tywin"s aforementioned ruthlessness I think we might have a slim chance of steering this shitshow to a safe, or at least safer than canon, landing. Of course I still fully expected to not survive this place, for in George"s writing "no one here gets out alive" and the myriad threats to my existence were enough to paralyse anyone with fear. And even if I somehow "won" I could still "fail", and end up, oh I don"t know, burned alive by Dragon fire maybe?
  
  On the point regarding canon, it seemed to be book cannon, but with an annoying levelling of show canon, and them some complete curve balls thrown in for good measure. Said curve balls mainly related to world building, something GRRM had been sadly remiss in, but which made sense in the context of a "medieval" setting. Commerce, communications and castles for a start seemed to conform much more closely to what I knew of earths medieval history, though the castles did show a certain predilection for the gigantism that GRRM was known to suffer from. But I was left with the disconcerting feeling that I was missing lots of things, things which I feared would come back to haunt me at a later date.
  
  One definitely positive part of all of this was that Tywin"s attitude to Tyrion had softened slightly, he would never really love the Imp, but even before we reached Kings Landing he was admitting a certain grudging admiration for his younger son"s talents outside of whoring and drinking.
  
  The thing about me that Tywin disapproved of most was my "lecherousness", which I found the height of hypocrisy, he used whores, I was just using them more often and without the kink that Tywin preferred. Oh I had my own personal kink, as evidenced by the nubile ebony body sprawled atop me, Alayaya"s skilled mouth working its magic on my, sorry our, rather impressively sized cock. I could have locked Tywin away but I let him enjoy the delicious sensations that the whores skills were eliciting, no sense in being too cruel to the angry old cunt.
  
  I ran a hand down the girl"s taut back to her perfect buttocks, marvelling again at the contrast between pale and ebony skin. Alayaya groaned at my touch, the vibrations from her mouth sending lovely sensations to match the ones her tongue and lips were lavishing on my cock.
  
  I had sampled all the female flesh Chataya"s had to offer, with the exception of Merie, who may, or may not, be Tywin"s bastard, and my favourite by far was Chataya"s daughter Alayaya. Her haughty beauty, which reminded me of Ethiopian or Sudanese women had caught my eye the moment I had first seen her. Added to this her obvious skills at pleasing a man, and a certain poise and coolness definitely made her my favourite for these night-time trysts.
  
  Unlike the books the tunnel to Chataya"s led from the Tower of the Hand, as I said whatever this was it was neither the Books nor the Show, but some amalgam of the two, which did poise some serious problems to my mind. But the whore"s mouth was working its magic, banishing the thoughts that threatened to overwhelm all conscious thought, to subsume all worries and concerns into sheer bliss.
  
  Letting go of all worries and concerns I tensed to try and delay my release, but Alayaya was skilful enough to recognise these tell tale signs and she quickened the friction of her lips and tongue on me, rapidly defeating my attempts of stave off release.
  
  Afterwards the girl stood up and slinked over to a table, pouring us a glass of wine each, and returned to the bed, handing a glass to me. I sipped the well watered wine, letting my gaze wander over the girl"s body, slick with sweat and glistening in the low candle light.
  
  Much as I would have liked to stay I could not, there were things to do, the duties of the Hand of the King were never done, so I finished my wine and gently pushed the girl off me, she had lain back down in the bed and had sprawled across me, a rather enigmatic smile on her lips. No doubt looking for more business as it where.
  
  Standing up I got dressed as Alayaya rose from the bed and retrieved her clothes, a skimpy, gauzy outfit that did little to hide her body and she slipped from the room without further comment. Once she was gone I pulled the large wardrobe away from the wall to reveal the panel that could be pushed aside to reveal the secret passageway.
  
  With a sigh I hunkered down and entered the narrow vertical chamber, pulling the wardrobe back into place and closing the panel, descending into the absolute darkness. As this vertical passageway and the tunnel beneath it only went to and from the Tower of the Hand I did not need any candle or brand to illuminate my way. Eventually I made it to the chamber below the Tower of the Hand and I ascended to my sleeping chambers, stripping off I collapsed into the bed and was asleep within a few seconds.
  
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  Bronn IV
  
  Now this was the downside of being in the service of the Hand of the King, traipsing through the devastated Riverlands in the company of several hundred Red Cloaks disguised as sell swords, and even he was sporting his old armour to maintain the cover they were adopting.
  
  They were moving through the forests north of the Gods Eye, heading towards Harenhall and a meeting he was frankly dreading, not that he was letting on, not in front of this hard arsed bunch anyway.
  
  He had been dispatched by the Hand of the King to meet with Lord Roose Bolton and deliver a letter and a shit ton of gold, and to return with one, and possibly two nobles. And not just any nobles, well noble singular, Ser Jamie fucking Lannister.
  
  As was usual for most of the jobs he did it had started with a call to the Hand"s Solar and a brief initial conversation, with what details he needed to make initial preparations. In this case get a couple of hundred Red Cloaks who could pass as sell swords, equip them with "odds and ends", often captured equipment from the battle of the Blackwater, and make ready to travel to the Riverlands. Once he had this done to his satisfaction he informed the Hand that he was ready and Lord Tywin gave him his more detailed orders.
  
  The Great Lion was one scary man, not only because of his reputation, but because of what he appeared to know, never mind his instructions to him and what he wanted done. He was playing in the Great Game now, where nobles fought and used the likes of him to do their dirty work. Oh he"d no problem with dirty work, but he preferred not to have to stick his cock so far into danger, nor have to deal with Roose Bolton.
  
  The Old Lion had taken him into his confidence regarding Lord Bolton, and he frankly wished he had not if he was honest, though he strongly suspected hid Lord was not telling him everything.
  
  Anyway he pushed all this worry from his head and set his face to relax, or at least as much as he could relax, they had been travelling along off the beaten track to avoid contact as much as possible, sticking to back roads and forest trails, moving slowly and cautiously.
  
  At night they camped in cover were possible, fires dug into pits to reduce the distance at which they could be seen and one third of them awake at all times. The gold they were bringing with them was distributed across many of the horses, sewn into each saddle to hide it; he wondered if much of it would be pilfered by the men, but then again, these men were Red Cloaks and not true sellswords. If he knew anything about Lord Tywin it was that you never, never crossed the man, so he could actually be reasonably confident little or none would be stolen.
  
  Eventually they reached the edge of the extensive forests the ringed the north eastern shore of the Gods Eye and they had to look forwards to several days of travel over open countryside, not a prospect that filled him with much joy.
  
  
  Surveying the lay of the land from just inside the edge of the forest he did not like what he saw, wide open, rolling terrain, with villages and forests dotted around. Most of the villages looked to be destroyed though and he could see no evidence of the smallfolk that should be out tending their fields.
  
  "Well?" asked one of the Red Cloaks, a veteran Sergeant by the name of Garrel.
  
  "I don"t like it" he replied, not taking his eye from the Myrish far eye he was holding "too quiet, too open....no cover..."
  
  "Aye, we might have to travel by night instead."
  
  "Fuck that, almost as dangerous as travelling by day, nah, we will travel early in the morning, say two hours before dawn and then maybe an hour or two afterwards, making between woods to hide up during the day, travelling again just before dusk."
  
  "Might work..." Garrel replied "I"d like to collect my double pay when this is over."
  
  Lord Tywin had promised double pay to all involved, him included. No good to him if he did not return alive though, and the land ahead of him gave him the creeps for some reason.
  
  Sweeping his far eye over the landscape he glimpsed movement, stopping he swung back a little, focusing on what caught his eye.
  
  "Bugger" he whispered.
  
  "What?" Garrel asked, concern showing in his voice.
  
  "Welcoming committee" he breathed, conflicting emotions warring inside him.
  
  Two hours later the so called "welcoming committee" and his men were meeting, lined up on a stretch of track way between untended fields, a destroyed village about a league away to the east.
  
  The flayed man banners of House Bolton were prominently displayed on the hundred or so mounted men before them.
  
  Well, no time like the present he thought as he spurred his horse forwards and approached the Bolton men, three of them came forwards to meet them.
  
  He stopped his horse and the three Bolton men also halted, just outside of sword strike range "I"m Ser Bronn, I believe you were expecting me?" and he pulled out a small scroll sealed with the wax seal of the Hand of the King.
  
  One of the Bolton men rode forwards and took it from him, returning to the other two and handing it to the man who was obviously the leader of the group. He took the scroll and broke the seal, reading whatever was written there and then looking up at him.
  
  "I"m Locke, we are here to escort you to Harenhall and Lord Bolton."
  
  Bronn nodded at this, keeping his face calm, Locke, one of the names that Lord Tywin had mentioned to him. And the Hand"s instructions had been very specific, should Ser Jamie be maimed a certain letter was to be given to Lord Bolton. Bronn had several letters from the Lord Hand, along with very specific instructions about which ones to deliver depending on certain circumstances.
  
  And thus a few days later they arrived in the great, scorced ruin that was Harenhall, having passed through a landscape devoid of people and as near silent as a graveyard. The Bolton Men at Arms were a tough and humourless lot, prone to picking fights with his lads, if only to relieve their boredom, or so it seemed. He had even killed one of them himself when the stupid fucker had drawn a blade on him one night as he made his way to the lean to he was sleeping in. The fact that they were outnumbered two to one seemed not to register on the Bolton men at all, in fact it seemed to goad them.
  
  He was almost glad when he had to meet that cold fish Lord Roose Bolton, though the man"s dead eyes gave him the creeps.
  
  One of the provisions that determined which scroll was to be given to Lord Bolton was dependent upon the arrival of a Raven from Kings Landing with specific instructions for him, with no raven having arrived for him he could ignore that scroll, well actually his instructions were to destroy the ones that would not be given to Lord Roose. He did wonder what was in those scrolls, but he was not going to let his curiosity get the better of him, that way led straight to losing one"s head, and he liked his head just where it was, attached squarely to his shoulders.
  
  After some perfunctory pleasantries he accompanied Lord Bolton and some Men at arms to meet the two prisoners, Ser Jamie Lannister and Lady Brienne of Tarth. Well, that settled that, Ser Jamie looked like utter shit, and he was missing his right hand, so he would have to give Roose the scroll meant for that eventuality. He idly wondered how the Old Lion had suspected his son would be so injured, and again he shivered at what appeared to be the reach of the Old Lion"s spy network.
  
  Ser Jamie and Lady Brienne were informed that they would be leaving in two days time with him to return to Kings Landing, Ser Jamie asking if a healer called Qyburn could accompany them, as he was treating Ser Jamie"s maimed right arm.
  
  He saw no reason to object to bringing back another waif or stray and said as much, with that he was escorted to his chambers and he awaited the pleasure of an audience with Lord Bolton. Selecting the right scroll he burned the rest of them in the fire place to ash before he was summoned to meet the so called "Leech Lord" of the Dreadfort.
  
  Ushered into his Solar he handed over the scroll to Lord Bolton, who broke the seal and read the contents within without comment. There was also another scroll he had that was to be given to Lord Bolton if he indicated agreement.
  
  Lord Bolton raised his eyes to him and said in a low, almost inaudible tone "I accept Lord Tywin"s conditions; I will send a raven at once. And the matter of the gold promised with this missive?"
  
  "I will organise for it to be handed over to you by nightfall at the latest."
  
  "Thank you Ser Bronn, you are dismissed."
  
  "My Lord, as you have accepted the Lord Hands offer there is another scroll I was instructed to give to you, but Lord Tywin was very specific that it was for your eyes only, and only to be opened by you in private..."
  
  Lord Bolton nodded acceptance so he handed over the second scroll, bowed and asked permission to be excused, and when it was granted he fled back to his quarters as fast as he could without looking like he was running.
  The next day the gold was removed from all the saddles and handed over to Roose Bolton, who"s eye"s did not even flinch at the amount of wealth he had come into, unlike some of his men, whose eyes had glittered with avarice at the gold being handed over.
  
  The days spent in Harenhall were among the worst of his life, the place reeked of something disquieting, of something not quite right. Odd sounds and screams rent the chambers and corridors of the gloomy ruin, cold draughts would suddenly spring up from nowhere and just as suddenly dissipate. He never got a decent nights" sleep, either waking constantly to noises he was not sure he heard or dreamt, or wracked by nightmares whose detail he could scarce remember, only that they were terrifying.
  
  So he was never was he more glad to finally be away from someplace as he was from Harenhall, with three guests to escort back to Kings Landing.
  
  As he had passed out through the gates he had not failed to notice the freshest head adorning spikes was that of Locke.
  
  Riding along with his men he came to the forest they had left a few days earlier and as they approached it armed men detached themselves from the scrub and tree line.
  
  "Easy Garrell" he said in the most conversational tone he could muster, as he spurred his horse onwards to meet the men, a dangerous lot of bastards if he ever saw in his life.
  
  "You Bronn?" asked the nearest one.
  
  "Aye" he replied.
  
  "Good, tell your lads they can pass."
  
  He gestured over his shoulder, beckoning the men behind him onwards, before turning back to the man, waiting as his party streamed by and into the forest and its dubious safety.
  
  Once they had passed by, and he had given Garrell a nod at his worried look he turned back to the cut throat standing before him "Well, where is he?" he asked, forcing his voice to keep steady.
  
  "I"m here sellsword" said a voice behind him and Bronn turned around to see the Mountain standing not ten feet away from him.
  
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  Petyr III
  
  "I"m sorry about the locale" he announced into the sumptuously appointed room, talking to the back of its sole other occupant.
  
  "No you are not" replied Lady Olenna flatly.
  
  "It felt like the safest place" he said, stepping further into the room, and closer to the Queen of Thorns. Getting her here in secret had proved rather easy; there were actually secret entrances into the brothel that used winding passages through adjacent buildings. You could enter this brothel from over a hundred yards away, and even from a small Sept, which was how Lady Olenna had made her way here. The Sept was small but very well appointed and was dedicated to some famous Septon form the Reach, a very convenient arrangement Baelish had to admit.
  
  "This establishment is like no other, the sheer range of appetites catered too, desires that didn"t even exist until we invented them" he said, with only the smallest amount of pride in his voice. This brothel made an obscene amount of coin, and it was a very handy source of ready coin for his various day to day needs.
  
  "You"ve always been rather impressed with yourself haven"t you" the crone responded, turning to face him.
  
  "Aye" he smiled in his most disarming manner "but in many ways this is the past, all I"m concerned about, all that really matters, is the future. The future of House Tyrell..."
  
  "Don"t pretend to have any concern for the future for my house!" Lady Olenna spat back at him "our fates will be joined Lord Baelish, should House Tyrell fall, you will fall alongside us."
  He stiffened slightly at this, unable to keep a scowl from his face, the old hag dared threaten him, now of all times? Their deal was sealed, their pact well bargained for and agreed upon, he had upheld his part of the bargain, despite the tiresome interference of agents of both the Spider and the Lord Hand.
  
  "And if I should meet an unfortunate accident Lord Baelish, should a bolt of lightning strike me dead from the sky, they"ll never even find what"s left of you!" she hissed at him, her eyes hard in her wrinkled face.
  
  "Our interests are aligned Lady Tyrell, and we both have secrets that we would like to keep just that, secret. Soon I will depart for the Vale and leave all this" at this he gestured to the room "behind me. I will take up my duties as Lord and husband to Lady Lysa Arryn and Warden of the East."
  
  Did her really have to spell out that he was planning beyond the upcoming events, that he intended to escape the Tyrell"s assumed hold on him? That should anything happen to him he had fully planned to drag House Tully down also, for two can plan at threatening, something he was sure that the old woman knew.
  
  "Hah! Give up this? No you won"t Baelish; you are far too smart, far too greedy to give up the likes of this and the other enterprises you have in Kings Landing. And what of the Imp? I hear he will be made Master of Coin once you depart, are you not afraid of this?"
  
  "Why should I be?" he asked as innocently as he could.
  
  "You have been Master of Coin for many the year now, you will have installed your men in all the positions of power that you want, or need. Being Master of Coin is much more profitable than being the Lord of a smallholding or even Lord of the Vale?"
  
  "Such is the way of life Lady Olenna, all good things must come to an end, I have been requested to bring the Vale back into the fold, I will do my duty to the realm" he lied smoothly, wondering how he could send this annoying crone packing so as he could get back to some work.
  
  "You may fool others Lord Baelish but you don"t fool me, you do nothing that does not benefit Lord Baelish first, you know nothing of duty to the crown, or anyone else for that matter. Now, you requested this meeting, and in this sordid flesh market of yours, what do you want of me?"
  
  "The Hand is proving reluctant to relinquish his hold on Lady Sansa; I would like the assistance of House Tully in prying her away from the Lannister"s."
  
  Cold, old eyes regarded him calculatingly "House Tyrell has an interest in the Stark girl, one we would not relinquish lightly."
  
  "Of course, however Sansa Stark is a valuable asset in the hands of Lord Tywin, were she to be removed from his grasp, it would hurt the Old Lion"s plans greatly. He intends to trade her for his son; messages have been exchanged with Robb Stark. I do not know the exact details of what is being discussed but I can guess at their content."
  
  "Trading Jamie for Sansa might bring this war to a speedier close? Surely that is a good thing Lord Baelish?"
  
  For the realm yes, but for him, absolutely no "It certainly might, but such an outcome would further entrench Lord Tywin"s power, yes he will be ousted when Joffrey comes of age" he could not miss the slightest glimmer in Lady Olenna"s eye at this, no doubt the Tyrell"s were also fondly waiting for this blessed day "but the Lord Hand wields far too much power, anything that can be done to lessen his power is a good thing, for the realm...."
  
  "And what would you plan to do with a "removed" Sansa Stark?"
  
  "Bring her to the Vale and have her enjoy the security and comfort to be had from her Lady Aunt. Her disappearance would embarrass Lord Tywin and prevent Jamie form being returned to his father, should the Starks be defeated Lady Sansa is the key to the North..."
  
  "......Which puts the key to the North in your pocket Lord Baelish?"
  
  "Mayhaps, mayhaps not, Lady Arryn would be her oldest living relative, I"m sure she would have the concern for the girls wellbeing foremost in her mind."
  
  "I"m sure she would Lord Baelish....I make no promises on this, I shall see what I can do."
  
  Which meant no he knew, damm the Tyrell"s anyway, not that he had expected them to help him, it had just been a piece of wishful thinking on his part. Never mind he would have to look to his own resources to wresting Sansa from the clutches of Lord Tywin. But he cautioned himself, the girl was not absolutely vital to his plans, she was a nice addition and if certain of his plans came to fruitions she would grace his side as his queen.
  
  But he needed to concentrate on his main goals, and thanks to Tywin Lannister they were, if not in ruins then certainly upset greatly. And yet the seating of a dynasty upon the Iron Throne was an unsteady thing, had he not proved it with the Targaryen"s? It had been so tragically easy to ignite the realms into war, all it had taken was convincing Lysa to hand him a letter from that idiot Stark girl, and thus had died the proof of her marriage to Rhaegar. And he held the secret that would topple this so called "Baratheon" dynasty, one which had already disposed of two Hand"s of the King.
  
  The question remained when to spring the trap, before or after the wedding? Before had the advantage of immediately undermining the throne, but it lacked a certain elegance, and it would be very rushed. Whereas after the wedding and with him safely ensconced in the Eyrie? Yes, a much better option altogether, and he could lead the Tyrell"s to what he wanted by a careful trail of breadcrumbs. Cersei thought she had disposed of all of Robert"s bastards in Kings Landing, well she had disposed off all the bastards he had wanted her to know of, but there were others scattered about, why there was even one in the Eyrie. And everyone of them blue of eye and dark of hair....
  
  Yes, after the wedding then, and Sansa Stark? A more intractable problem for now, but once the Lannister"s and Tyrell"s were at each other"s throats? Then it should prove easier to grasp the girl and whisk her away to the Eyrie for safekeeping. He had no concern for the Stark"s, though not a military man he knew their position was precarious, fatal even, they were of no immediate concern to his plans.
  Tyrion IX
  
  "Why do you hate me so?" he quipped, raising his glass at his father, a smile on his face.
  
  "Oh?"
  
  "Making me Master of Coin when Baelish departs, a Master of Coin of an empty treasury, and you have just told me that the actual debt is some two million Dragons more than previously believed!"
  
  "Such is life Tyrion" replied his father "thankfully that Braavosi coin merchant was smart enough to not spill blab about the additional debts above what Baelish has officially declared to the Crown."
  
  "Littlefinger certainly was ambitious?" he stated, the pair of them were in the Solar of the Hand, outside night was rapidly falling, the sky darkening from blue to purple......"no wonder you are going to remove him from play."
  
  "Can"t have ambitious little pricks like that around, they are always plotting and scheming, Baelish thinks that our orders to pack him off to the Vale are proof that we don"t know about him. He has gotten a swelled enough head over brokering that deal with the Reach, but as always little shit"s like him overextended themselves. However you will need to move fast, we will need to take complete control over Littlefinger"s organisation swiftly, and ruthlessly...."
  
  "Yes father, I seem to remember having a sellsword who specialised in that sort of thing? Ruthlessness I mean."
  
  "You may have Bronn for this. Someone will be in contact with you to provide you with as much information that I have on Baelish and his business dealings. No matter what, you can expect that everyone who handles coin in Royal Service is Littlefinger"s man, deal with them without mercy if they resist."
  
  "Does, does Baelish suspect?"
  
  "He may, he may not, no matter, he is being watched closely, if he makes a run for it he won"t make it far, trust me."
  
  "He might try and remove you father, after all he has removed two Hands of the King already according to you, what"s a third?"
  
  "I know how, and why, he removed Jon Arryn and Ned Stark, I won"t fall for Baelish"s trap, forewarned is forearmed."
  
  "And just how did he manage this?"
  
  His father just looked at him, he knew that look, it meant simply "do not push this further", he sighed in defeat, he hoped his father knew what he was doing. Then again it was his father he was talking about, he doubted Baelish had the ability to outsmart the Old Lion. But his father swam in dangerous waters he knew, and equally he knew that his father seemed to be revelling in his role as Hand, like he was born to it. Well he supposed that after having been Hand to mad Aerys, being Hand to Joffrey was a pleasant stroll in a garden by comparison. There was also the fact that his father made absolutely no attempt to hide the naked power of the Lannister"s behind the throne, Tywin"s might was on display for all to see.
  
  Mayhaps a rather rash ploy, it might rise the hackles of the other great Houses and he was sure that the Tyrell"s would seek to curb Lannister influence at court, led by the redoubtable Lady Olenna. But then again maybe this was all part of his father"s plan, to be blatant so as to draw out any opposition into being forced to make a move against him? Who knew in truth what were the machinations and ploys of the Great Game? His father certainly was not telling him anything more than the barest minimum, a sore point with him but one which his father had countered by reminding Tyrion that it was better, and safer that way. Safer for whom he pondered, as he stole a glance at his father, sitting in semi shadow behind his huge desk, a complex man was Tywin Lannister - powerful, ruthless, hard, dedicated and yet, at odd moments his father had recently displayed other traits, traits he thought he would never see from the Old Lion. Tywin could be humorous, witty and even kind, his treatment of Lady Sansa was evidence enough of that, but one could also say that this was just cold, hard calculation on Tywin"s part.
  
  Of course there was the Court gossip that Tywin had taken Sansa Stark as a mistress, which Tyrion found utterly hilarious, the thoughts of his father taking a mistress and of it being the Stark girl, he did not know what was more preposterous.
  
  And his father"s reaction to the rumours had been, well, it had been pure Tywin, he had ignored them completely, not even condescending to reply, until he had heard the rumour uttered in his presence at court one day. The unfortunate had been the daughter of a merchant House from Kings Landing and Tywin had overheard her gossiping with a gaggle of other courtiers as he passed. He had stopped suddenly and turned on the girls, ordering the girl to repeat what she had just said. The foolish maid had repeated what she had been saying, and for her troubles had her tongue ripped out, he idly wondered if she had gossiped about Jamie and Cersei if his father would have slit her throat himself?
  
  He twisted his mind to other thoughts "I hear my dear aunt Genna and uncle Kevan are coming for the wedding?"
  
  "You hear correct."
  
  Hrmmm, there was something about exactly how his father had said that which peaked his interest.
  
  "I do so much look forwards to seeing aunt Genna, she is always a delightful conversationalist..." he decided to open with this and see what developed.
  
  "Your aunt Genna has bigger stones than the pair of us Tyrion...." his father replied deadpan.
  
  He spat out his wine at this, coughing and spluttering "well.......well I"ve, yes aunt Genna is certainly ferocious, but I"ve never quite heard her described like that, and certainly not by you dear father. Do, do I sense a tiny amount of fear in the Old Lion"s voice at the prospect of aunt Genna"s arrival?"
  
  "Tyrion...."
  
  "I do! Ahahahaha, what have you done to anger my dear aunt?"
  
  "It"s not something I"ve done."
  
  "Oh?"
  
  "Enough Tyrion, we have better things to discuss than your aunts moods" his father growled menacingly. Oh dear, there was something amiss between brother and sister then, why this was simply fascinating! Aunt Genna was the only person he knew that could stand up to Tywin and get away with it; he wondered what the Old Lion had done to draw her ire? Or was it someone else as his father had said? Interesting, he would have to have a chat with his dear aunt as soon as she made Kings Landing.
  
  "You may need to depart Kings Landing at short notice in the next few weeks, most likely before the wedding; I have need of you to carry out something I would not trust to anyone else."
  
  "And?"
  
  "And? You do not need to know anymore than that, just be ready. All will be explained to you just before you need to leave, do not fret, it will not be dangerous, at least not for you..."
  
  "Yes father" her replied, wondering just what it was that his father had planned for him.
  
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  Sansa IX
  
  "So you"re the Stark girl eh?" the formidable looking blonde woman asked her from where she was seated on a stone bench in the shade of a few trees at the far end of the gardens of the Keep of the Hand.
  
  "Lady Frey" she replied, giving Genna Frey the required curtsy her status required.
  
  "Pah! Don"t remind me that I married that little weasel, and that I even gave him some heirs among my children! Call me Genna child..."
  
  Sansa did not know what to make of this admission by the older woman, the sister of Lord Tywin, but she schooled her face to remain impassive at this rather scandalous revelation. Genna Lannister had the trademark blond hair and green eyes of the Lannister"s and though a Frey by marriage had apparently come from Casterly rock to Kings Landing for the royal wedding.
  
  Sansa sat beside her as bidden, Genna waved off the guards, only turning to her once they were out of earshot. Cool green eyes, so like her brothers regarded her, seeming not to care one whit for propriety as she looked her up and down.
  
  "You must have some brass neck on you girl if you had the gumption to propose marriage to my brother, all you northern girls so forwards?"
  
  "No my Lady, I proposed marriage to Lord Tywin as the quickest way to end the war" she replied, deciding that hesitancy and shyness would work with the formidable looking Lannister woman.
  
  "Hrmmmm, you are smarter than that girl, I know that for a fact, the Starks are losing, and King Joffrey wants Robb Stark"s head. If the Lannister"s and Stark"s are bound by marriage then King Joffrey would have a difficult time in demanding your brothers head, seeing as he would be good brother to his Hand and head of the most powerful House propping up his rule......though the boy King is an idiot by all accounts....."
  
  The Lannister woman said nothing for a few seconds before adding "My brother has not said yes to your offer though..."
  
  "Lord Tywin has not rejected my offer Lady Genna" she responded coolly, this Genna Lannister was no fool, though she never expected her to be one.
  
  "Aye he has not, though I gave him a good, solid slap once we were in private for even entertaining your idea girl, told him he was a foolish old man who would be a laughing stock if he wed a maid young enough to be his granddaughter!"
  
  Sansa"s mind reeled at the thoughts of someone even daring to strike Lord Tywin, never mind living to tell the tale unharmed. And despite that this woman was a Lannister and she knew little of her beyond some gossip she decided that she liked the woman, if only for her evident bravery.
  
  In truth Lord Tywin had scarce said a word to her since, only confirming to her that he would make no decision on the matter without her brother Robb"s consent. This frustrated her, the Old Lion was no fool, and surely he saw the advantages that a match with her brought? And she was convinced that Ser Jamie would never want to abandon his White Cloak, and so he would never inherit Casterly rock. She doubted if Tyrion would ever inherit, despite the fact that Lord Tywin honoured his youngest son she doubted he would let him inherit, she just could not see the Old Lion unbending enough for that. Her mother had born five healthy children without miscarriage, she could secure the line of Lord Tywin, and she was certainly a match of sufficient status for him.
  
  And yet the Old Lion remained frustratingly aloof to the idea, showing her no more, or no less it had to be admitted, favour in the nigh on two moon since she had broached her offer. The one thing he had insisted on was absolute secrecy, that she tell no one of what she had proposed.
  
  Though obviously Lord Tywin had told his sister, hence this conversation.
  
  "Any who would snicker and jest at Lord Tywin had best do it behind his back and in company they trust Lady Genna" she announced in a forthright manner, with just the amount of anger at a perceived insult to her intended in her voice.
  
  "Ah yes, that twit of a merchant"s daughter, you don"t ever mock Tywin and get away free, I wish more people outside of the Westerlands understood that, it would make life so much easier for all concerned. And finally, there is that little peek of the famous "wolf blood" that we hear about so much girl, so tell me, is your heart all a flutter about the thoughts of marrying your handsome Lord? Are you dreamingly already thinking of his babies?"
  
  "I will do my duty should I marry your brother, I dreamed of knights and tourneys and believed all the stories and the songs, and then Joffrey took my father"s head and I believed them no more. This is a political match, my own desires or wishes do not come into it" she replied with as much steel in her voice as she dared. This was not technically true, she chose Lord Tywin as her last act of defiance at fate, to spite what the gods, or at least the Septons and Lords of the land ordained her fate to be.
  
  "My brother is not a kind man, nor is he easy to live with, and he does not suffer fools at all. He never remarried after Joanna died, despite many offers, he may treat you coldly, he very well may only do his duty by you and nothing else. You are a young girl, beautiful, from a Great House, there will be suitors queuing up for your hand, if there are not already, why choose an old, scarred thing like my brother Tywin, all full of anger and horror?" Lady Genna asked of her, the Lannister Lady"s green eyes full of what appeared to be genuine interest.
  
  "You were not here after my father died, when there was nobody to stand up for me, to protect me. Lord Tyrion tried but he lacked the power to challenge the King, your brother did not......I have spent my life so far being powerless, without even knowing it, my head filled with nonsense by my mother and my Septa. I wish never to be powerless again Lady Genna, should I return to my family they will marry me off to some Lord of their choosing, not mine. Similarly if my remaining family are defeated there would be no obstacle to the crown marrying me off to whomever they choose. This way I make my own choice, and should I become the Lady of Casterly rock none will harm me nor lay a finger unbidden on me ever again...."
  
  "I had heard from my brother of your disgraceful treatment at the hands of Joffrey and Cersei" and at this Genna shook her head "fools the pair of them, and I don"t know which one is the greater" she turned her gaze directly to Sansa, holding her eyes with her emerald one"s.
  
  "You seem to be no fool, that Tywin has not rejected you outright means he is considering your proposal......aye, I think you have what it takes to be the Lady of Casterly rock lass. Tywin has just sent a letter to your brother asking for a truce and proposing that they meet to discuss terms for ending the war, he has also asked your brother for your hand in marriage. You"ve sent your brother a letter; do you think they will agree to the match?"
  
  "I hope so, if they are smart they will agree" she replied.
  
  "If they are smart....have you known men to be smart lass? Always thinking with what"s between their legs and not what"s between their ears!"
  
  Sansa blushed at this, and replied "my brother has my mother advising him, she sits on his councils apparently."
  
  "Good, maybe she can talk sense into the lads head! God"s know my sons haven"t a brain between them, idiots to a man!"
  
  Sansa let this pass, hoping that her mother could talk Robb into accepting the terms Lord Tywin proposed. She was not looking forwards to her marriage, how could she, but she wanted it done as soon as possible so that this waiting would be over. Lord Tywin was as far from the stories of her youth of charming, handsome knights as one could get, well only Walder Frey might be worst, possibly. She know what running a household entailed, and she was sure that Lord Tywin, or his steward, would school her in the particulars of running Casterly rock, and she would learn of the wider Westerlands also. But, but the bedding that she knew nothing of, all she knew was what Septa Mordane had told her, that she must lay still and let her husband do what he needed to do, and that it would hurt, and that she would bleed. It all sounded very frightening, foreboding, but she had nobody to turn to that she could confide in.
  
  "Right, that"s settled so, has your Lady mother discussed with you what happens on your wedding night? In detail I mean?"
  
  "No" Sansa responded, despite her best efforts she felt her cheeks reddening.
  
  "Well then your prospective good sister will have to do that duty then won"t she?"
  
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  Bronn V
  
  He knocked loudly on the door to the Imp"s chambers, standing at a casual rest, ignoring the two Lannister guards who were stationed outside.
  
  When there was no reply he knocked again, his expression remaining unchanged. He could hear movement from inside, eventually the bolts were withdrawn and the little Lord popped his head around the partially opened door. The Imp was in a state of undress and disarray, and he was sure he had torn him away from the arms of his lovely whore Shae.
  
  "What Bronn?" he asked, anger and impatience in his voice, no doubt wanting to return to getting his cock wet, well that was too bad now wasn"t it?
  
  "May I come in my Lord?" he asked, trying to hide a smirk from his face.
  
  "If you insist" snarked the Imp.
  
  "I do" he replied as Tyrion stepped backwards and allowed him entry.
  
  "Tyrion, my Lannister Lion, what is it?" he heard Shae call from the bed chamber; he risked a glance at the Imp, raising an eyebrow.
  
  Tyrion"s face darkened slightly at this but he quickly regained his composure and looked up at him.
  
  Bronn handed over a letter sealed with the sigil of the Hand of the King, the Imp"s eyebrows knotting in frustration.
  
  He would be a damm sight more frustrated after he read the contents of the letter he knew, waiting for the inevitable outburst.
  
  "This, this is ridiculous, even for my father, take me too him at once!"
  
  "I"m afraid not, the Lord Hand has given strict instructions on this, you are to accompany me immediately my Lord."
  
  "Bugger to that, now?"
  
  "Yes now my Lord, I believe that your Lord father instructed you to be ready to travel at a moment"s notice and be prepared?" replied Bronn, vainly struggling to keep a grin from his face.
  
  "Yes, erh, emm, yes..." replied the Imp, casting his eyes about, eventually alighting on a blanket wrapped into a fat tube. "I prepared some travelling clothes as instructed, can I have a minute or two?"
  
  "Aye, but no getting your cock wet, if I can"t then neither can you!" Bronn responded, he was somewhat annoyed by having to do this, he knew that there was other, more important work for him in the capital. Work that much better suited his talents and which Lord Tywin was sure to reward him even more handsomely than he was already being paid.
  
  Acting as a wet nurse to the Imp was not exactly difficult work, but Lord Tywin had insisted that as Tyrion trusted him he was more likely to go along with Bronn. As the Imp returned from his bed chambers dressed in travelling clothes and collected his bag, Shae could be seen standing in the door of the bedroom, a bed sheet wrapped around her, looking all sultry.
  
  Tyrion gave a last longing glance at his whore before he walked out his door, Bronn directed him down a corridor before they came to a man in Lannister colours standing there, who pushed on a stone and a hidden door slowly yawned open in the wall.
  
  Bron gestured for the little Lord to enter and he followed him into the secret passageway, a candle in a fixture on the wall provided the only illumination.
  
  "Down the ladder we go" announced Bronn as he climbed down the iron rungs set into the vertical shaft that opened in the floor before him.
  
  Glancing up he could see Tyrion following him down slowly, the Imps shorter stature and somewhat twisted legs making his descent awkward.
  
  At the bottom there was a room, stone walled, floored and ceilinged, black and red colour marble in an alternating pattern.
  
  "This way" he gestured to one of the seven tunnels that lead off the room, picking up the single candle that was lit in the centre of the room for illumination as he headed off into the darkness of the tunnel.
  
  "I could have done with knowing about these" muttered Tyrion from behind him.
  
  "Aye, no doubt you could" Bronn replied.
  
  In silence they trotted in the confining darkness, descending further and further until they came to a door, Bronn produced a key and slid it into the lock and doused the candle, pushing the door open. Weak light filtered through, along with the immediate smell of the sea.
  
  Beyond the door was a small dock in a flooded cave, beyond could be seen the faint light of the night through an entrance that looked very narrow. A boat was tied up, with six men ready to row, a seventh at the tiller, Bronn climbed down and Tyrion followed him.
  
  The crew silently pushed off and made their way out of the cave, emerging into the darkness, and started rowing around the promontory that the Red Keep was perched upon and once passed it the men rigged up a small sail, the boat heading north parallel to the coast.
  
  Bronn kept his mouth shut and thankfully the little Lord did the same, just as dawn was beginning to haze the eastern horizon with the faintest of pale glows the boat turned towards land and headed towards a beach that was barely visible.
  
  Bronn spotted the light, two brief pulses from a shaded lantern "right everything is good, you"ll soon be on dry land again my Lord."
  
  Tyrion just gave a grunt in response, he was not altogether best pleased by all of this Bronn could tell, but it was not for him to care really, only to deliver him where his father wanted him to go.
  
  The boat scrapped along the sand as it hit the beach and Bronn grabbed Tyrion"s blanket and jumped down into the gentle surf, Tyrion following a moment later.
  
  Several men and horses waited for them, and Bronn exchanged a coded greeting with them, pretty useless he thought as who else would be here at this hour except the men of Lord Tywin?
  
  Saddling up they headed away from the beach and into a forest, after about twenty minutes they came across a Lannister Red Cloak camp, they greeted the commander, a Major and were admitted to a large tent in the centre of the camp.
  
  "Brother!" he exclaimed in shock, seeing his brother Jamie sitting with what looked like a Maester attending to him.
  
  "Tyrion!" Jamie replied, a wan smile on his face, then Tyrion noticed the fact that his brother was missing his right hand.
  
  "What, what happened?" the Imp gasped, shock distorting his voice.
  
  "A Bolton bannerman decided I did not need it anymore..." Jamie quipped "and when he released me Lord Bolton decided his bannerman no longer needed his head....."
  
  "Does, does father know?" Tyrion asked, and who seemed to be floundering at the thoughts of Jamie being so maimed.
  
  "Aye he does, made sure the fucker who lopped you brother"s hand lost his head right quick too..." quipped Bronn.
  
  "I"m sorry, where are my manners, I am Tyrion Lannister" the little Lord said after turning to the tall blonde haired woman dressed in male clothes.
  
  "Brienne, Brienne of Tarth" the woman replied, her voice wary.
  
  "Ah, the maid who won a place on Renly"s Rainbow Guard and what, pray tell, brought you here?"
  
  "Lady Catelyn Tully charged me with returning Ser Jamie to Kings Landing and escorting Lady Sansa back to her family."
  
  "Is that so?" Tyrion asked, taking his eyes from the gigantic woman and letting them catch Jamie"s, who swiftly looked away.
  
  "I"m afraid our dear father would not approve, he is rather protective of Lady Sansa, believing the child to be vital to retrieving you, but as you appear to have slipped the clutches of the Stark"s I wonder what father intends to do with the girl now?"
  
  Jamie just shrugged and said nothing; Brienne of Tarth just looked confused and slightly annoyed.
  
  "So, Lady Catelyn released Jamie but he ended up losing his hand to one of the Leech Lord"s bannermen? That, that does not arguer well for the future of House Bolton, especially as it is reduced to Lord Roose and a bastard son, though there might be a baby in the belly of his fat Frey wife by now...." mused Tyrion.
  
  "Sounds like your brother has quite the tale to tell! You will need wine, lots of wine I am sure!" Bronn interjected, keen to steer the conversation away from the subject of Lord Roose and the Bolton"s.
  
  "And you will have time enough to tell it" added Bronn "The three of you are to remain here until further notice by your Lord Fathers direct command."
  
  "Why?" Tyrion asked, surprised by this, his face displaying curiosity and he was no doubt wondering what exactly was his lord father up to.
  
  "Buggered if I know!" he replied, shrugging his shoulders, grinning slightly.
  
  "We must be unwanted for whatever our dear Lord Father is planning, obviously...." deadpanned Jamie.
  
  That comment he could see made Lord Tyrion very, very nervous.
  
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  Sansa X
  
  "You look magnificent my Lady" cooed Fiyonna, Breyna echoing these sentiments, along with little giggles, Shae raised her eyebrows slightly and her mouth twisted slightly to show her amusement at the twittering of her Ladies in Waiting.
  
  Sansa looked at herself in the mirror, the largest Myrish mirror she had ever seen, taller than her and framed in gold leaf, lion motif"s spread across the frame in a riot of profusion. It had been a recent gift from Lord Tywin, along with the jewellery she wore, a slim golden chain around her neck, with a ruby hanging from it. Very Lannister colours it had to be said, and yet a subtle way of the Old Lion marking her as his. Though of course he had said nothing further on the matter, nor had he changed how he treated her, he was certainly not courting her, something which she was glad of. Not because she would find the attention unwelcome, but because of the reaction of others, in particular Cersei and Joffrey, who might try and stop her betrothal. Or maybe even others, such as the Tyrell"s, for should she marry Tywin and the war end there would be a new power bloc in Westeros, one to match or even exceed that of the Crownlands and the Reach.
  
  She knew well enough to say nothing about this matter, nor to act in any way different, though the dressmaker Chaynne had returned and more dresses had been commissioned for her, including a wedding dress, but that was being kept secret for now, neither Fiyonna nor Breyna were aware of her potential impending nuptials, nor Shae for that matter.
  
  She was wearing the dress that she had worn when she had confronted Lord Tywin and proposed that they be wed, she thought it a suitably subtle reminder to Lord Tywin and she loved the dress anyway, and its colours were Stark through and through, steel grey and snow white.
  
  Again Shae had done her hair into a simple, thick braid that she wore over her shoulder, and she tilted her head at her reflection in the mirror, the face and body of a northern girl glanced back at her, but behind her eyes there was no sign of a girl anymore.
  
  She had been beaten, humiliated, betrayed and she had survived, if not prospered at least she had not been broken. And she was set to soon make a huge sacrifice for the life of her family; she would be the dutiful daughter to all intents and purposes, but inside she knew it was her choice, her punishment for her stupidity. She had killed her father with her idiotic notions, as recompense she would save her brother and her mother by marrying a man who was at war with her family, and who was feared and hated in equal measure by almost everyone.
  
  Sansa would do her duty by her Lord husband and bear his children; she would not shirk at what had to be done, for it appeared that there were indeed some great cosmic scales of justice, and that her punishment would fit her crime.
  She cleared her mind of these maudlin thoughts, she had the wedding of a King to attend, and she would be accompanying Lord Tywin to the feast, and so be sitting at the top table and thus on display for everyone to see. So she would have to school herself to not show her displeasure at having to sit anywhere near Joffrey, the traditional breaking of the fast with both families yesterday had been a disaster, Joffrey as usual acting like the spoilt child that he was. And again as was usual Lord Tywin had been the one to discipline the wayward King, much to Joffrey"s evident displeasure, Lord Mace Tyrell had been unable to keep a look of disappointment from flickering over his face at the antics of his prospective good son.
  
  There was a knock at her door, she nodded her head and Shae opened it, outside was Lord Tywin waiting to escort her. The Hand of the King was resplendent in a crimson high collared and knee length doublet, the silk brocade patterned with golden lions. Black trousers and black boots polished to a high gleam and a leather belt completed his outfit, five clasps down the centre held the doublet closed, each clasp was golden and displayed snarling lion heads.
  
  "My Lady" he announced, bowing his head, noticing the slightest of glimmers in his eyes as he beheld what she was wearing, and she knew that the Old Lion understood the message that she wanted to covey with her choice of clothing.
  
  "My Lord" she replied, giving him a curtsy, Tywin held out his hand for her and she accepted it, tucking her arm into Tywin"s as they exited her room and descended the stairs of the Tower of the Hand. She felt tiny beside Lord Tywin; he towered over her, his presence overwhelming. A faint smell of sandalwood and some exotic spice like smell came from him; underneath it was a faint, but very definitive scent of a musky, man smell that tickled slightly at her nose.
  
  As was usual Tywin had a coterie of Red Cloaks with him, in the reception hall before the main doors Keven and Genna waited for them. Lord Kevan was dressed similar to his brother, only his doublet was a plain crimson, Lady Genna was dressed in a riot of scarlet and golden, there was no mistaking what family she belonged too, even if you ignored the blonde hair and the green eyes.
  
  "My dear, you look simply divine!" she announced "those colours really suite you, and your hair done like that, much better than the silly styles favoured at court!" Lady Genna simply had her hair done in curls left loose around her shoulders, a practical look Sansa could approve of.
  
  "And it seems my dear brother has finally decided to bedeck you with some jewellery, and not too showy, don"t want to upset the bride now do we eh?" she quipped.
  
  "Enough" growled Lord Tywin "this will be a long enough day, and possibly a trying one if my grandson gets into his cups and acts up. Let"s go."
  
  And with that they exited the Tower of the Hand, escorted by a dozen Red Cloaks, out through the gates from the Keep of the Hand and heading towards carriages to take them to the Great Sept of Baelor. They arrived with no incident, the huge numbers of Lannister and Tyrell troops saw to that no doubt. Inside the marriage ceremony went according to plan, the High Septon kept his remarks thankfully brief and soon they were on their way back to the Red Keep. Margaery had of course looked divine, Joffrey had looked smug and conceited, dressed all in golden, with a black sash his only concession to his Baratheon heritage. Queen Cersei had looked like she had a bad case of indigestion coupled with constipation throughout the entire ceremony; the Queen was standing on the other side of Lord Tywin from her and the waves of hatred that the Queen gave off were quite undignified. To think that she had once thought the woman the epitome of beauty, sophistication and grace, and here she was with a scowl on her face like a common fishwife!
  
  Once back in the Red Keep they headed to the gardens, all bedecked with pavilions and tents, full of jugglers, acrobats, musicians along with other performing acts, and thronged with the nobility of Westeros, well that of the Crownlands, the Reach and the Westerlands at least. There was a smattering of foreign dignitaries present and representatives of the various Trade Guilds of Kings Landing, something she thought strange, until she realised that it was a cynical ploy to increase the crowds at the feast.
  
  Up ahead she could see Lady Olenna Tyrell on the arm of Lord Mace Tyrell, who looked as if he would burst out from the doublet he was wearing, she stole a glance at Lord Tywin, noticing his flat stomach and wide shoulders, and how Lord Tyrell suffered badly in comparison to Lord Tywin.
  
  As they drew near Lord Tyrell went to open his mouth, but his mother shut him up with a sharply interjected "Not now Mace, the adults want to talk, I would like a word with Lord Tywin, you can escort Lady Sansa for a while, surely you can do that?"
  
  A somewhat crestfallen looking Lord Tyrell took her arm once she relinquished her hold on Lord Tywin, compared to the Old Lion Lord Tyrell seemed hardly a Lord at all. Lord Tywin and Lady Olenna strolled on ahead talking; Lord Tyrell started prattling on about something or other. She diverted her attention to listen to Lord Tyrell; he was saying nothing of import, for he seemed to merely be interested if she was impressed with the spectacle.
  
  Sansa made the required polite responses and thankfully Lord Tywin returned to her and she took his arm, glad to be away from the sweating Tyrell Lord. As they approached the high tables she noticed a man and woman dressed in bright and frankly scandalous clothing.
  
  "Lord Tywin, Lady Sansa!" the man announced with a marked Dornish accent, smiling at them. The man was very, very handsome Sansa realised, there was something exotic and dangerous about him that made her belly flutter in a way that was not altogether unpleasant.
  
  "Prince Oberyn" Tywin replied, giving the Prince of Dorne a small bow, while she gave him a curtsey.
  
  Turning to the scantily dressed woman Prince Oberyn said "Elaria, I don"t believe you have met the Lord Hand Tywin Lannister, and Lady Sansa Stark, Elaria Sand, my paramour."
  
  "My Lord, my Lady" the Dornish woman curtsied the barest minimum to not be disrespectful.
  
  "It"s a pleasure to meet you Prince Oberyn, Lady Elaria" she replied, wondering how the women could get away with wearing clothes of such a revealing nature, she was certain that she would never be able to wear such outfits.
  "Charmed" replied Lord Tywin, the slightest of smiles on his face, "it is a shame that your brother could not come, but no doubt your presence will enliven the wedding."
  
  "I"m sure it will, my brother suffers from gout, they say it"s a rich man"s disease, as you are the richest man in Westeros I am surprised that you do not suffer from it also?" asked Prince Oberyn, a smile on his face which did not meet his eyes.
  
  "I"m afraid that I don"t enjoy quite the life of luxury and leisure that my wealth supposedly would afford me Prince Oberyn" Lord Tywin replied his voice even and controlled.
  
  Sansa could feel the tension in the air between the two men, like something uncoiling, until queen Cersei stumbled drunkenly into their circle, a goblet of wine clasped unsteadily in one hand.
  
  She flinched inside her as the Queen commenced a rambling and slurred tirade against the loose moral standards of Dorne and the absence of her younger brother, that "little whoresotted Imp".
  
  Tywin smiled tightly and made a quick gesture with his hand, Lord Kevan appearing by his side to escort Cersei away, despite her protests, which were silenced by a fierce whisper in her ear by Lord Tywin.
  
  Just then a bell sounded, calling the guests to begin the feast.
  
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  Robb I
  
  "Well this is embarrassing is it not......" Robb asked, his mothers face reddening slightly at his comment, but saying nothing in return "Lord Tywin would give us peace in return for Ser Jamie, and he asks for Sansa"s hand in marriage. A shame we no longer have the Kingslayer is it not mother?"
  
  The pair of them occupied what he called his Solar in the suite of rooms assigned to him in Riverrun that overlooked the Red Fork; dimly seen through lowering, grey skies and shifting curtains of rain. "Weather to match my mood" he thought grimly, returning his attention to the room his mother. This was family business first and foremost, later he would share the two missives he had received from Kings Landing with his banner men, well one of them only, there was no need to share Sansa"s note with all and sundry.
  
  It was not the first missive he had received from Tywin Lannister, shortly after he had launched his campaign into the Westerlands he had received his first communication from the Hand of the King, indicating that he was willing to start discussions to bring the war to a conclusion. The first missive had stated that the Stark"s ancestral sword Ice, along with his father"s bones would be returned should he agree to halt his incursion into the Westerlands. This had caused consternation among his banner men when he had announced this to them, and of course he had ignored the offer from the Lord Hand, even if he had wanted to consider them his banner men would never have agreed to it, and so they had continued into the Westerlands, hoping to deal the Old Lion a defeat on his own lands while he retreated to Kings Landing. Instead of easy victories they faced dogged resistance and a grinding, hard slog that eventually ran out of steam before The Crag, their assault of which failed despite repeated attempts. Not having the supplies for a prolonged siege he had been forced to retreat and under pressure from newly raised Westerland levies he had abandoned almost all the territory in the Westerlands that he had captured.
  
  Having ended back where he started he had then pulled the bulk of his Army back to Riverrun, it was the best place to concentrate his forces to counter any incursions from the Westerlands. Waiting for him were more missives from the Lord Hand, announcing that Arya had escaped Kings Landing in the chaos following Lord Eddard"s arrest and that only Sansa was still being held.
  
  His agents in Kings Landing, such as they were, had told tales of Sansa being abused by King Joffrey, something that had driven him near mad with rage, and Lord Tywin had confirmed that King Joffrey had beaten his sister; but that Sansa was now safe from Joffrey"s beatings and that she was under the protection of House Lannister.
  
  It was interesting that the Lord Hand said that Sansa was under his family"s protection and not that of either the Hand or the Iron Throne he mused, before dragging his mind back to more pertinent issues.
  
  The war, such as it was had now degenerated into a stalemate, after the highpoint of Oxcross, which in reality had been a close run thing, and their retreat from the gates of The Crag further victories had proved elusive The Lannister"s had retreated through the Riverlands eastwards and southwards, giving up most of the territory that they had captured. But their forces were concentrated in good positions with ready access to supplies and reinforcements, especially now that the Tyrell"s were allied to them.
  
  The Riverlands south of the Red Fork had been extensively damaged during the conflict, farms had been plundered and burnt, the smallfolk either killed or driven off, and the land was as a desert for troops with little or no foraging possible. So the small numbers of his troops occupying these parts of the Riverlands were effectively tied to the rivers to receive supplies from the northern and more untouched parts of the Riverlands. As such they could do little more than hold an empty land from fixed points and patrol to ward off any small scale Lannister incursions, should he have to march into this region with his army he would be faced with the same problems of being tied to rivers for supply.
  But he did not have the strength to do much else but sit still and wait, he could not march on Kings Landing and he doubted he could strike at the Westerlands again with any chance of success. And every day the clamour from his Northern Lords to return home and eject the Iron Born from the North got greater and greater. The Karstark"s had already started marching north, his commands to the Karstark"s to stay had been ignored, and he had dared not fight them and have a bloody civil war on his hands, and several ravens to Harenhall had gone unanswered, raising hackles and suspicions in equal measure.
  
  Of the Riverlands Lords he only really respected the Blackfish, of his uncle he had no time for; a string of idiotic decisions by Edmure on the battlefield had whittled away the Tully forces to a shadow of their former strength. And the Frey"s, in the person of Black Walder, were a constant annoyance, always bringing up the matter of his mothers promise to Lord Walder regarding his hand in marriage. Though in truth the Frey griping had lessened theses past few moons, maybe that old goat Walder Frey was not so sure about the supposed advantages of marrying one of his daughters to him now?
  
  He could feel it, the slow drip, drip, drip of failure, the accumulation of defeats and reverses, of intractable problems pilling up. Their exit from the Westerlands, the Iron Born invasion of the North, the deaths of Bran and Rikon and the sack of Winterfell, the desertion of the Karstark"s - it felt as if everything was falling apart, slowly, bit by bit, and he could see it, even if the more stubborn or just plain stupid of his supporters could not.
  
  And then these two letters arrive, one from Lord Tywin and one from his sister Sansa, potentially offering him a way out of this trap he had found himself in.
  
  He slumped into his chair, letting out a long, juddering sigh "we can only withhold news of this for so long from our banner men, from the Tully"s" he said, glancing at his mother "we need to discuss this...."
  
  "There is nothing to discuss!" retorted his mother angrily "my daughter will not be marrying that beast Tywin Lannister! There have been enough offers of interest in her hand already from the North and she is still captive in Kings Landing! We must use her to bolster alliances, shore you your position!"
  
  "But we do not have Ser Jamie, you saw to that mother....and yet, the terms of Lord Tywin"s deal are generous, in fact more than generous, and the price appears to be Sansa"s hand" his voice sounding tired to his ears. If only his mother had not been so stupid he could still have traded Ser Jamie, now? Now he did not know what to do, reject Lord Tywin"s offer out of hand, bargain in bad faith with Tywin Lannister, ignore the missives?
  
  "Mayhaps the Old Lion is tired of fighting, but yet has no need to be so generous, I"m suspicious...." said his mother, uncertainty plain in her voice.
  
  "I am the one tired of fighting mother, we are beaten, if not totally, but we will be soon enough ....."
  
  His mother said nothing in reply to this outburst, so he continued "we are finished; it"s only a matter of time before we are defeated in detail. We have word of the first Tyrell forces marching through the southern parts of the Riverlands, and of Lannister forces around Kings Landing moving north towards the Riverlands. We cannot match their numbers, we cannot concentrate our forces as we don"t have enough food, and it"s now just a matter of how long the Old Lion wants to toy with us...."
  
  Once more silence greeted this morose assessment of their chances, until he spoke again "I marched south to avenge my father, to bring justice for his death, and I"ve failed, we are no closer to Kings Landing and defeating Joffrey, Arya is missing and Sansa is a captive in Kings Landing. Winterfell is a ruin, Bran and Rikon are dead and the North is at the mercy of the Ironborn. What, what am I even doing here?"
  
  Indeed, what was he doing, that was a question he had oft asked himself in the privacy of his own mind, everything no longer made any sense.
  
  "You were the Lord of Winterfell before you were King in the North; your duty is to the North and to your family! That should be your only concern, I want my family back; such of it that remains, you and Sansa are all I have, please Robb!"
  
  But he barely heard what his mother said "I cannot avenge father, our enemies are too strong for that, all I can do is end this war as gracefully as I can, Lord Tywin has promised to return father"s bones and Ice. The forces of the Karstark"s are marching home in spite of my commands, and no, I will not fight them mother, we cannot afford to lose any more men, no matter what. Lord Tywin has offered us Sansa for his son and a chance to negotiate a peace, which thanks to you is now impossible. He even promised no vendettas, no vengeance and to absolve all who declared for me as King from treason - those are generous terms, all things considered..."
  
  "Except the price is Sansa"s hand!" snapped Catelyn "Robb, please, don"t trade her away, please...I beg of you..." his mother pleaded, tears in the corners of her eyes.
  
  "But you have left me no choice mother, I have nothing to trade with anymore, I cannot treat with him with empty hands now can I?"
  
  His mother just fumed while his anger simmered and raged, the sheer stupidity of his mother galled him. From now on he would not seek her council anymore; this would be the last time he would even consider what she had to say on any matter. His mother would not accompany him should he take to the field; she could stay in Riverrun from now on. Damm her and damm the Lannister"s, everything was falling to pieces, and he needed to get back to the North, to defeat the Iron Born. At even this thought of the Iron Born his rage at Theon erupted uncontrolled, an involuntary snarl escaping his lips.
  
  His mother waited until his anger cooled somewhat, before she searched out his eye"s "Robb, please, I only sent Ser Jamie away to get Sansa back, I only did what any mother would do...." she pleaded.
  
  "And therein lies the problem mother, you thought as a mother first and you betrayed your King second" he replied flatly, feeling hollow.
  
  His mother looked away at his words, so he continued on "Sansa"s letter said that she proposed the match to Lord Tywin, her letter showed her to be thinking clearly on this matter."
  
  "If you believe that those are my daughter"s words, you are a fool!" Catelyn spat back in response.
  
  "Aye, I am a fool, a fool for listening to you for a start, and a fool for not punishing you for what you did...."
  
  "Please Robb, I want this war to end, but can we trust the Lannister"s? Can we trust Tywin, or Joffrey to keep their word? And what would we condemn Sansa to, your sister, to life with a man older than her father?"
  
  "You trusted the Frey"s mother, enough to promise my hand to them" he countered, bitterness evident in his voice. "And you trusted Jamie fucking Lannister, of all people....."
  
  "I trusted the greed of Walder Frey Robb, nothing more, nothing less. The Old Lion"s weakness is his son; Ser Jamie would have done all possible to return Sansa to us!"
  
  "You put a lot of faith in a man who betrayed his vows as a Kingsguard to kill a King, and who fucks his own sister mother. And in doing so you threw away the one thing we had over Tywin Lannister" he said, glaring at his mother, frustration boiling inside of him.
  
  He let out a snort of irritation before continuing "Our agents in Kings Landing tell of tension between the Old Lion and King Joffrey, of him protecting Sansa, and we cannot forget that he may just want Sansa for, for, dynastic purposes, unpleasant a thought as that is."
  
  "If you give up your crown, accede to all his demands.... that, that might be enough for Lord Tywin to release Sansa Robb, think about it!"
  
  In that moment he had a brief flashback to Winterfell, to the day he met Robert Baratheon, who looked unsuited to be a King, and whose behaviour betrayed a deep contempt for the crown he wore.
  
  He knew now that the allure of a crown was illusory, that it was nothing but a crushing burden, getting heavier and heavier as the days became weeks, the weeks became months and the months would became years.
  
  "Lord Tywin also mentions other potential matches between the Westerlands and the North, maybe we can salvage something from all this....." he said, his voice flat.
  
  "You, you would break your betrothal with Walder Frey?" his mother asked, concern in her voice.
  
  "I made no promises, you did, and to a Lord who should have opened his gates without the slightest of hesitation, instead he squeezed from you the price of my hand, along with a cart load of promises and impositions upon us. And who now wavers in his support of our cause and seeks every opportunity short of outright mutiny to desert me? No mother, I"ll gladly tell Walder Frey I have no use for any of his gaggle of unattractive daughters if it means ending this war."
  
  "Robb?" his mother asked, her voice wavering.
  
  "I have to think further on this mother, I thank you for your council, you may leave me."
  
  His mother looked like she wanted to say something but she thought the better of it and gave him a quick curtsy before leaving, Robb turned his gaze to the window, his gaze only seeing the rain weeping down the panes of glass, pondering what to do.
  
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  Sansa XI
  
  Seated at the High table next to Lord Tywin made her nervous, despite her best efforts to hide it, Joffrey had scowled at her, even going so far as to question her presence at the High Table in the first place, to which Lord Tywin had replied coolly that Lady Sansa was his ward and thus it was his duty to have her at his side.
  
  Joffrey had snickered at this and made some off colour remark to Margaery under his breath, she pretended to laugh at it but Sansa could see her apologies in the glance that the Tyrell girl gave her.
  
  It did not matter, soon she would be either away from Kings Landing, to be married as her brother intended or she would remain and married as she intended, either way she doubted if Joffrey would be able to jape at her expense to her face ever again. Though the King was an idiot and he seemed to delight in insulting his Lord Grandfather, something which Sansa thought very stupid, one did not insult a man like Tywin Lannister and not pay for it, no matter who one was.
  
  She risked a little glance at Lord Tywin, who was seated on her left; to the left of him again was Queen Cersei, drunk and ignoring plate after plate that was put before her, with a start she realised she was sitting on his right hand side, the position of honour. She had not realised this when she had first sat down, and something stirred inside her at this, a little bit of selfish pride.
  
  The wedding feast was to be seventy seven courses, each dish was thankfully tiny, the barest morsel of food, more a taster than an actual morsel if she was honest. She did her best to eat at least a bite out of each little dish; she noticed that Lord Tywin would eat everything from most plates, not touching about one in every four or five dishes. He was drinking Westerlands ale, a dark brew with a frothy head when poured, she was drinking well watered wine, a slightly sweet Arbor red that was making her a little light headed if she was honest.
  
  After seven courses were served there was a break for entertainment and speeches, boring stuff mostly, suddenly a thought seized her. Yes, it was high time she started to be a much more active player in the games that went on around her, though maybe the wine was giving her the false courage to start.
  
  "My Lord Tywin?" she asked, leaning closer to him to be heard over the music of a band of minstrels now performing before the High Table.
  
  "Yes Lady Sansa?" he responded, his voice that low growl that she was so used to.
  
  "May, may I try some of your ale, I find the wine too sweat for my taste...."
  
  He did not respond for a second, before he reached out and picked up his goblet, handing it to her.
  
  She took a little sip, savouring the slightly bitter, but then slightly sweet malt taste of the dark beer. Handing it back to him she whispered "I like it, do you think I might have a glass of it my Lord?"Not much of an attempt to flirt she knew but she had to start somewhere, and if she could get the Old Lion enamoured of her so much the better. But she had to be careful, she had to be discrete, not only were there far too many eyes here, but even in the privacy of the Tower of the Hand she would have to exercise tact, for she doubted Lord Tywin would appreciate girlish foolery.
  
  Tywin raised a hand to call over a serving wench, whose bosom was almost bursting out of her bodice "Bring Lady Sansa a cup and some of the same ale as I am drinking."
  
  "Mi"Lord" the girl curtsied and dashed off to fulfil Lord Tywin"s request, she had noticed that her perspective husband had not given the wenches ample charms a single glance, something which made her strangely satisfied.
  
  "What, your little slut drinking ale like a tavern whore now?" slurred Cersei, waving her cup of wine, spilling it over the tablecloth.
  
  "Cersei, I told you to cease this nonsense before, you have already insulted the Prince of Dorne and his paramour, be quiet!" hissed the Old Lion in response, not even sparing a glace for his daughter as he corrected her.
  
  "You must like slut"s father, you and that Dornish Prince....And do I see your little flame haired wolf wearing jewellery? She opened her legs already? My, my but that certainly did not take long now did it?"
  
  "Cersei, Robert may have been too drunk or too busy tupping whatever wench or highborn lass took his momentary fancy to correct your tongue but I sincerely doubt that any new husband of yours will be as lax in his duties as Robert was; you had best learn to hold your tongue woman. And if you open your mouth again to insult me or Lady Sansa I will remove you from the High Table, do you understand?" he growled at his daughter, his voice low but heavy with terrible intent.
  
  Thankfully Cersei got the message and she shut up, though she could see the Queen weighing up her father"s threat in her eyes, as they changed shades to darken. Instead Cersei held out her cup to be refilled and then turned away from them, shrieking with laughter at something Joffrey said.
  
  "I apologise for my daughter"s behaviour Lady Sansa" the Old Lion whispered in her ear, his breath tickling her neck.
  
  Despite the fact that the Old Lion might be her intended she felt little or none of the excitement and fluttering in her stomach that the tales she and Jeyne had liked before said a maid should feel when talking to their betrothed. Instead she just let her mind do what it was wont now to do always, to analyse, to calculate, to weigh her options.
  
  While objectively Lord Tywin was not unhandsome, he was far too, well old, older even than her father had been. And yet she had proposed the match, it was her decision to shackle herself to this man, to give up her freedom, so that she could never forget that it was her stupidity that had killed her father. Lord Tywin putting his heirs into her would be her penance for her betrayal of her family, every day for the rest of her life if she wed the Old Lion she would be reminded of her treason, of her stupidity.
  
  Just as she bore the scars on her back that were her pride so she would bear the imposition of Lord Tywin"s lusts if she married him, she would not break, she would endure the punishment for what it was, just and fair. And she realised that she actually wanted to marry Lord Tywin for this reason, some northern Lordling would scarce do, she would just resent them for what they represented, a loss of freedom, whereas Lord Tywin would assuage her guilt, her remorse.
  
  "There is no need to apologise Lord Tywin, her grace is drunk and thus does not mean what she says."
  
  Lord Tywin gave her a quick, sharp glance before the next round of seven courses was announced, obviously he did not believe her false platitudes, but he made no more of a remark on them.
  
  As before she picked at her food, some of it was far too highly spiced for her taste, the Dornish "fire sausage" was inedible due to how hot it was. Lord Tywin, noticing she had only eaten a tiny sliver of her fire sausage, raised an eyebrow and gestured with his fork towards her plate.
  
  She nodded in return and he stabbed the remaining slices and popped them into his mouth. Once he has swallowed and taken a long pull of his beer he remarked "the secret with some Dornish food is to realise that pain is considered a flavour by some in Dorne, though that fire sausage was particularly hot if I may say..."
  
  After the next seven courses were complete the entertainment was a troupe of dwarfs who proceeded to "re-enact the war of the five Kings" - the whole affair was in poor taste and Lord Tywin stiffened beside her and set his face to stone during the performance. Joffrey delighted in it of course, roaring with coarse laughter and loudly complaining about the absence of his uncle, Lord Tyrion, stating that he had chosen this entertainment especially in "honour" of the Imp.
  
  After the dwarves finished and left the stage in front of the High Table a huge pie was rolled out for Joffrey and Margaery to cut, Joffrey making a show of slashing the crust of the pie open to let white doves soar out into the air and fly away.
  
  They were then served a pigeon pie course, not from the monstrosity that had contained the live birds of course, bit from other, smaller pies that actually contained pigeon meat. Joffrey and Margaery were standing up, feeding each other pigeon pie and generally laughing and japing with each other.
  
  Sansa returned her attention to her plate, as her gaze swept back to her plate she noticed that Lord Tywin had not touched his pie "Do you not like pigeon pie my Lord?" she asked, noticing that the tenseness had not left Lord Tywin"s body. He seemed to be almost trembling with something, something terrible, barely contained.
  
  A retching cough came from Joffrey; she turned her eyes to him as he grabbed at his goblet of wine, a gaudily decorated thing that Mace Tyrell had gifted him as a wedding present. Taking a long trembling gulp Joffrey tried to say something but it was lost in a paroxysm of coughing and choking, one of his hands going to his neck, the other grasping the table to support himself.
  
  Sansa felt the rising panic in the air as Margaery cried out "He"s choking, he"s choking, somebody help him!"
  
  Lady Olenna lent her voice to the sudden chorus of shouts and screams "help him you fools, help your King!" as Joffrey collapsed, his hand clutching the table cloth and brining down a clatter of plates, trays and cups onto the wooden floor of the dais where he fell and sprawled, over the din she heard him retching and his legs kicking and drumming at the floor in a palsy.
  
  She stood up, horrified, against her better instinct moving to get a better look, she felt strong hands grab her shoulders and pull her aside, Lord Tywin turning her around so that she was facing him.
  
  "Don"t look" he whispered in her ear as he pulled her close to his chest and despite the screaming and shouting she could hear the increasingly desperate and terrified strangled noises Joffrey was making behind her. Cersei"s shrill shrieks were echoing and bouncing from the painted wooden wall behind the High Table as she wailed, watching her son choke to death.
  
  A few second later Lord Tywin whispered in her ear "it is over", though she knew that as Cersei had started screeching like a demented banshee, screaming that Lord Tyrion was responsible for this. Something warm spread inside her, it felt like triumph, Joffrey, the boy who had taken her father"s head, was now dead. Though not by her hand, or by the hand of Robb, she had been present, and though she had not seen it, she had heard it, the terrible and panicked noises Joffrey had made as he had died, and with her head buried into Lord Tywin"s chest she risked a tiny smile of satisfaction, before she schooled her face into one of shock and terror. Then she risked turning her head to look down and behind her.
  
  "YOU!!!" Cersei screamed at Lord Tywin "YOU clasped him to your breast and like a viper and he repays you by murdering my SON!!! My brother, my own brother Tyrion did this, he poisoned his King!!!" she screamed at the top of her lungs, her voice harsh and raw.
  
  "As Lord Tyrion is not present and he is currently away on emergency and vital business for the crown I fail to see how he could be responsible for this" Lord Tywin replied, his voice cold and controlled.
  
  Cersei"s response was to rend her gown and scream out her accusations in a voice becomingly increasingly ragged and hoarse.
  
  "The Queen Mother is distraught by the death of his Grace, please escort her to her chambers and give her something to help her sleep" was Tywin"s response to his daughter"s hysterical outburst.
  
  "NO!!" Cersei screamed as Red Cloaks stepped forwards and she continued ranting and raving about how Lord Tyrion was responsible for the murder of her son as they dragged her away.
  
  Sansa noticed movement out of the corner of her eye; hundreds of Red Cloaks were pouring into the gardens "No one is to leave unless it is by my command! His Grace King Joffrey has been murdered and the likely culprits are probably still among us!" bellowed Lord Tywin at the top of his voice, cutting through the hubbub and stilling the rising panic.
  
  "Return to you seats" he commanded as a coterie of Westerlander Knights and Red Cloak Officers approached him. It was only then that she realised that she had been clasped in his arms the whole time as he let go of her and gestured to her seat, indicating that she should sit, which she did.
  
  Lord Tywin and his men gathered round in a huddle and spoke in low voices for a few minutes, until his Maester, the temporary Grand Maester hurried out of the crowd, she had not seen the Maester at the feast, and she had wondered why he had not attended the wedding.
  
  Lord Tywin had stood aside and had a quick, hushed conversation with his Maester before he turned to the crowd "Arrest Lord Baelish at once! He is guilty of poisoning his Grace!"
  
  Bedlam ensued; her eyes went to were Lord Baelish had been sitting to find him with Ser Bronn and a group of Red Cloaks standing behind Petyr"s seated form, and with a look of absolute surprise on his face.
  
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  Update;
  
  102,213 words written, 63 chapters in total now completed.
  
  All chapters since Tywin II (the last chapter posted on AH.com) have more likes here than the average of the likes the story received on AH.com.
  
  So have a bonus chapter....
  
  Tywin III
  
  The Black Cells certainly lived up to their name alright, as black as sin and dank and damp. Baelish was incarcerated in their furthest reaches, with all the guards replaced by Red Cloaks just to be on the safe side. No other prisoners were ensconced on this level, deliberately by my order, and as I approached the cell that held Baelish I steeled myself, Tywin laughing darkly from the recesses of our mind.
  
  Accompanying me were four Red Cloaks as they made their way to one of the interrogation cells, where Petyr Baelish currently resided, no doubt expecting a resumption of the torture sessions he had been enduring for the past few days.
  
  As per my instructions Baelish was chained and gagged at all times, only during his interrogations was he allowed to speak, or scream, plead and shout terrified denials in his case. No questions were asked of him regarding the death of King Joffrey as per my instructions; the only enquiry being put to Baelish was about his financial dealings and the sources and stashes of his wealth.
  
  When he was returned to his cell his gag was reapplied and he was fed via a tube through the gag, soup and water as needed. My instructions to the Red Cloaks regarding the security around Baelish had been explicit, nobody was to be allowed access to Baelish except them, if anyone tried to gain access to Baelish, even with paperwork authorising them to, they were to detain that person and inform me immediately. All the food and water being fed to Baelish was prepared by the Red Cloaks to prevent anyone poisoning him with the intent of silencing the mockingbird.
  
  Only one person had come for Baelish in the end, a man who had been identified as an agent of House Tyrell and I had sent the man back to his mistress in a form I was sure to give the Queen of Thorns a clear message. But it was now time to put an end to the charade of Baelish"s questioning. And in truth I was also here to stop Tywin"s incessant badgering and snide complaints that I was not "man enough" to do what was necessary.
  
  Reaching the interrogation chamber I entered, Baelish was strapped to a wooden frame, naked and gagged, he had been tortured with progressively increasing ferocity over the past few days and physically he was destroyed, missing all his teeth, most of his fingers and toes, knees and elbows broken and both arms dislocated. Yesterday they had started cutting and incising, concentrating on the most sensitive places guaranteed to cause the most pain. Baelish had been given just enough Milk of the Poppy to keep him conscious, but not enough to dull the pain completely. While I could not be absolutely certain that everything had been wrung from him Tyrion had been busy using what Baelish spilled to get a hold on his empire.
  
  Once Baelish saw me I gave a nod to the interrogator, who pulled a short knife from a rack of other instruments and approached Baelish, his eyes wild and moans coming from his mouth. His gag was of a design that trapped the tongue; the man slid the knife into a slot in the front of the gag, Baelish screaming like a pig being slaughtered as the man rocked the knife back and forth, gripping Baelish"s head by the hair and shaking it. Removing the bloody knife he wiped it on a rag and replaced it in its rack.
  
  Baelish was making nonsensical moans, blood spluttering from his mouth, twisted sobs escaping him, his tongue destroyed and no longer capable of shaping words. The interrogator removed the gag, Baelish spitting blood and babbling incoherently.
  
  I nodded to the man who gave him a little bow and he left the chamber, barely hearing the sound of the body of the interrogator drop to the floor outside as the Red Cloaks dispatched him.
  
  The Red Cloaks moved further away, making sure to be out of earshot as per my instructions, and I turned my gaze fully to the pathetic form of Lord Baelish.
  
  "You won"t need to talk for the rest of your life Baelish, hence why you no longer have need your tongue. All your plots are laid bare to me Baelish, the plot to cause the Iron Bank to call in its debts in Westeros, to beggar the crown with excessive borrowing, how you started the War of the Five Kings with that note you got Lysa Arryn to send the Starks, the poisoning of Jon Arryn, your betrayal of Ned Stark, everything Baelish, everything......And to top it all the Strangler you provided Olenna Tyrell to poison King Joffrey."
  
  Baelish struggled a little bit against his bounds, blabbering nonsense and sobs from his bloodied mouth, but in his eyes I saw real fear, he knew he was fucked, though just how fucked he would soon find out. I just stood there impassively, having utterly zero sympathy for the little shit if I was honest. Tywin had wanted to personally hurt Baelish, to carve him strip by strip until all that was left was bloody tatters that was once a man. I did not have the stomach for that but I had to dispose of Baelish myself, Tywin had goaded, cajoled and nagged incessantly about having to be seen to get rid of Baelish.
  
  Hah! "seen"? I was going to kill Baelish here in the Black Cells, making sure that none knew how he was dispatched.
  
  I removed some documents from inside my doublet, strolling nearer to the frame "your signed confession, good work you will admit, even down to the slightly shaky signature and the small blood stains to add authenticity, this is your "official" confession, while this" I held up another document "is your confession to collusion with House Tyrell in the murder of King Joffrey, again I think the work is quite good, very convincing."
  
  Baelish started wailing and gibbering at this, blood sputtering all over his face, I ignored him and worked the mechanism of the frame, flipping Baelish over onto his front. Putting away the documents I strode over to a rack of torture instruments, selecting a narrow, hollowed out horn, open at both ends. Approached the table, Tywin absolutely refusing absolutely to guide my hands, insisting that I had to do this on my own, I prised apart Baelish"s buttocks and shoved the horn into his arse, Baelish howling and trashing against this intrusion. Once satisfied it was inserted enough, Tywin confirming that it was I walked over to one of the two lit braziers in the room, took up a cloth and wrapped it around my hand. Lifting a narrow poker like iron bar from the brazier, I examined it, the end that was removed from the coals glowing a bright red/orange.
  
  Turning back to Baelish I approached the man, steadying myself I took a deep breath, gripping Baelish by the buttocks in one hand and shoving the heated poker up into Baelish as deep as I could through the horn inserted into his anus.
  
  The hysterical, terrified screams and wailing of Baelish as he bucked and tried to tear himself free of his binds would I was sure stay with me until my dying day. But eventually Littlefinger"s shrieks and thrashing stopped and I removed the poker, needing some force to remove it, quickly plunging it back into the brazier while ignoring the bits of flesh stuck to it. I strode out of the room, walking down the corridor to the nearest Red Cloak "Lord Baelish is to be returned to his cell, I believe he is to be fed in one hour"s time?"
  
  "Yes my Lord" replied one of the Red Cloaks, wariness in the man"s eyes evident.
  
  "Unfortunately when the food arrives you will discover then that Lord Baelish has passed away, the rigours of his questioning having proved too much for him."
  
  "Yes my Lord" the man replied, I then took my leave of the Black Cells and returned to the Tower of the Hand, once in the Solar I looked at my hands, no tremors, that was good, Tywin laughing in my head at this.
  
  So what to do? Outside the late afternoon sun was blazing down, take the rest of the evening off, maybe even drink some of that excellent brandy that I had discovered recently, head to Chataya"s for, well some "head" and maybe even not from his favourite ebony skinned whore, maybe he would chose Myrielle, who was probably Tywin"s bastard daughter to suck my cock, or return to work, after all the work of the Hand of the King was never truly done.
  
  Tywin sulked in my head, annoyed about my somewhat fevered fantasies about Myrielle, and I was somewhat inclined to fuck what probably was his daughter, just to spite him for making me "go solo" in killing Baelish.
  
  But duty won out, we had much to do, and medieval paper work appeared to be an endless task, despite the army of scribes and functionaries employed by the office of Hand of the King. With a sigh I sat behind our desk and pulled the first document in the "in" pile towards me, putting all thoughts of Petyr Baelish and the way he died from my mind.
  
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  Olenna II
  
  Despite the rather inconvenient fact that she and all her family could have their heads adorning spikes by nightfall she was rather excited, in a slightly terrified way, of the meeting she was about to have.
  
  Red Cloaks were ushering her into the presence of the Old Lion himself, in his den in the Solar of the Hand of the King. The Old Lion was dressed all in black, in mourning for his grandson and former King. But she knew his mourning was for show only, and that he had despised the boy, not that she blamed him, Joffrey had been such a cunt, and everybody was better off now that he had been disposed of. But there was still the rather annoying matter of how Lord Tywin had known of Lord Baelish"s involvement in her plans, and equally importantly just what had Baelish said when put to the question.
  
  As a matter of course she had dispatched one of her agents in the Red Keep to dispose of Baelish in the Black Cells as soon as she could, she had used her most trusted and competent man for the job. And two days later his severed head had been discovered in her bed no less, an unsubtle warning if she ever saw one. And so she sat down and exchanged the necessary condolences and pleasant words one was expected to exchange, all the time wondering what Tywin Lannister"s game was.
  
  Oh she hoped that he did not know the full extent of her involvement, but she dismissed that silly notion from her head almost as soon as it formed. No, she could only surmise that the reason why she still drew breath was that Tywin Lannister wanted something from House Tyrell, or that he was smart enough to know that eliminating her House would further destabilise the realm at a delicate time.
  
  Pinning sole blame on Baelish was nothing she was concerned about, the little whoremongering cunt would have been disposed of by her in due course anyway, but as the talk turned to more serious matters she put her speculation aside, the next few minutes would potentially decide the fate of her House for ever.
  
  "The unfortunate death of my grandson puts or alliance into something of a quandary Lady Olenna, I would like to discuss with you possible solutions to the dilemmas we both face" the Old Lion announced, his face in semi shadow as he sat behind his great desk.
  
  She almost laughed at this, was he really trying to hide his face from her, truly? At least he was smart enough to ask her directly and not deal with Mace; she gave him that at least.
  
  "Indeed, quandaries and dilemmas all round" she replied, wanting to goad the Old Lion in his den, for despite her fear, she was not going to submit one inch to the Lord Hand if she could.
  
  "King Tommen will marry Lady Margaery, but not for a few years yet, the boy is far too young as of yet."
  
  "Nonsense, so long as his stones have dropped he can father children, Margaery has wed two Kings already; I hardly think it fair to make her wait very long for a third?" The Old Lion did not want to let this cub out from under his paw anytime soon, not that she blamed him, moulding and guiding Tommen would be a vital task to ensure Lannister power in Kings Landing.
  
  "Nevertheless, I, and I"m sure his mother would agree on this point, feel the Tommen is too young to marry, however he should be betrothed to Lady Margaery as soon as a suitable period of mourning has passed."
  
  "Two moons, no longer, and marriage two years after the announcement of the betrothal" she announced confidently, her mood brightening considerably at how the conversation was progressing so far.
  
  Lord Tyrion rose from behind his desk and walked to a sideboard, pouring out two glasses of well watered wine.
  
  "Very well, on condition that Willas Tyrell marries Cersei, again after a suitable period of mourning, say two moons?"
  
  "Unacceptable" she responded immediately, the utter gall of the man "my grandson is heir to Highgarden, your daughter is...."
  
  "......rich, the most beautiful woman in all of Westeros and mother of the King."
  
  "Old" she replied as she took the glass from Lord Tywin, a fine green tinged myrish glass.
  
  "Old?" he asked as he sat down behind his desk.
  
  "Old, I"m something of an expert on the subject. Her change will be upon her before long, I"ll spare you the details of what will happen then. You men may have a stomach for bloodshed and slaughter but this is another matter entirely."
  
  "The years punish us as well, I promise you that" replied the Old Lion, taking a sip of his wine "should you accede to the wedding of Lord Willas and my daughter I will name Ser Loras to the Kingsguard, I have heard tell that he would welcome the chance to stay in Kingslanding and be a guard for his sister."
  
  "He may decide to stay in Kingslanding anyway without the need to don a white cloak" she replied, slightly more testily than she had intended, the Old Lion was a presumptuous fart, arrogant and overbearing to a fault.
  
  "I would have thought that having Ser Loras elevated to the Kingsguard would greatly assist in removing the rumours that swirl around him and his preference in bed partners?" the Old Lion pausing before continuing "do you deny the rumours about your youngest grandson?"
  
  "Oh not at all, a sword swallower through and through" she replied offhand, no point in denying it, Loras was what he was and there was little to be done about it, despite Mace"s obstinate refusal to believe the truth about Loras.
  
  "So he should be grateful to be offered the chance to serve on the Kingsguard and wipe the stain of his affliction from his honour."
  
  "Did you grow up with boy cousins Lord Tywin? Sons of your father"s banner men, squires, stable boys?"
  
  "Of course" the Old Lion replied, his voice suddenly low and dangerous.
  
  "And you....never....?"
  
  "No" he replied emphatically.
  
  "Not once?" she asked her tone slightly playful, ah she had gotten under the Old Lion"s skin, good.
  
  "Not in any way?"
  
  "Never" the word said through gritted teeth.
  
  "I congratulate you on your restraint Lord Tywin" she said, raising her glass in mock salute to the stuffy Old Lion "but it"s a natural thing, two boys having a go at each other under the sheets?"
  
  "Perhaps Highgarden has a higher tolerance for such things?"
  
  "Oh I wouldn"t say that, true, we don"t tie ourselves into knots over a discrete bit of buggery, but.....brothers and sisters? Where I come from that stain would be very difficult to wash out...."
  
  There, it was out on the table, now we shall see how the Old Lion reacted to this accusation? She still did get the feeling that Lord Tywin was holding something back, that he appeared just that little bit too controlled, too sure of himself, too smug. And once again the terrible fear of what he likely knew about the murder of Joffrey crawled up from her gut, but she kept her concerns from showing on her face, there was a game to be played here, a game for survival first and foremost, and after that for position. Based on what had already been discussed things were not too bad for House Tyrell, Margaery would be Queen, and wed to a much nicer boy than that moronic beast Joffrey, Loras would get into the Kingsguard, one way or another, something he had always wanted she knew. So just why was the Old Lion being so accommodating to House Tyrell?
  
  "I will not breathe further life into a malicious lie by discussing it further" Tywin growled at her.
  
  "Lie or not, you must admit that many people feel it quite convincing, enough to put swords in their hands and send them off to kill Lannister"s, and Tyrell"s, thanks to our new affiliation."
  
  "The majority of the swords raised against us now are as a direct result of Joffrey"s stupidity in cutting off Eddard Stark"s head. You supported Renly"s claim to the Iron Throne, I"m sure not out of any real belief in those rumours but out of a gimlet eye on gaining the Iron Throne. Only Stannis still clings to the delusion of that filthy slander about my grandchildren, and I"ll deal with him soon enough. I don"t care what people believe, and neither do you..."
  She gave a little laugh at this preposterous outburst from the Old Lion "as an authority on myself I must disagree."
  
  "Now, if the rumours about my children were true, then Joffrey was no King, and neither is Tommen, so why were House Tyrell so keen to wed Joffrey, and now so keen to wed Tommen?"
  
  "And if Cersei is too old to give Willas children? We simply cannot take that chance!" she replied, deftly avoiding the Old Lion"s question.
  
  "Hrmmm, I see all this uncertainty makes you uncomfortable, let me remove it for you then in that case" and with that he picked up a parchment from his desk, stood up and walked around his desk to stand over her. Trying to physically intimidate her by towering over her, my, how cheap...
  
  "I have here a signed confession from Lord Baelish, not the one read out in court of course, this one details the collaboration between him and House Tyrell, how many times he met you or your agents, the purchase of the Strangler, the details of how it was handed over to House Tyrell. More than enough for all of you to find your heads swiftly removed...."
  
  Ah ha! Finally the Old Lion shows his claws, and so well played it was; lulling her into a sense of false confidence before snapping shut the jaws of his trap. Now comes the interesting part of the conversation, the real meat of what they were here to discuss, she steeled herself, while at the same time feeling that familiar frisson of tension and anticipation at what was to come. But to show a bit of her hand also hrmmm? Yes, better to seem confident and competent than look like a helpless fish hooked on a line. She let her eyes scan the page before her, it looked believable, the dates and locations mentioned, descriptions of the people involved, even her presence in Baelish"s gaudy brothel were listed. The question of it being a forgery or real or not even entered her head, it was enough that the Old Lion had such a document and that he would be prepared to use it was sufficient for her.
  
  "No sense in denying it I suppose, though I had wondered why you never moved to counter what I was planning. We are all better off without that idiot Joffrey on the Throne, you as much as I!" as she looked up into the Old Lion"s eyes, gauging his reaction. His eyes remained flat and cold as ever, revealing nothing, which to her was as much of a revelation as if they had widened in surprise. So the Old Lion was not unpleased with her removal of Joffrey, rather that it suited his purposes, as did pinning it on Baelish, who if rumour were to be believed had tried to beggar the Iron Throne.
  
  Though this might look like something of an impasse she knew better, it was not, House Lannister held the whip hand, now it was time to see the full price of the debt that the Hand wanted to extract.
  
  "Very well, should Willas not marry Cersei, Loras will not join the Kingsguard nor remain in Kinglanding beyond the marriage of Tommen and Margaery, but Tommen will betroth and then marry Margaery in the agreed time. There will be no more mention of vicious rumours or slander, and House Tyrell will continue to provide the Iron Throne with its generous support until the realm is at peace and nothing more threatens the Iron Throne. And Lord Baelish, along with unnamed Targaryen sympathises will carry the blame for my grandsons death, with no mention of the complicity and guilt of House Tyrell in his murder."
  
  She considered this for a merest second; the Old Lion had not pushed the matter of the marriage of Cersei and Willas, for which she was grateful. Loras not being elevated to the Kingsguard was a disappointment, but something that could be rectified in a year or two when the Old Lion finally was unseated from his position as Hand.
  
  Overall it was fair enough, suspiciously so, and the commitment to support the Iron Throne, well she would see that any and all support was designed to maximise the status of House Tyrell. All in all she had gotten off lightly, especially given the reputation of the man sitting opposite her; she had fully expected a song to be penned after the destruction of her House, probably mentioning rains weeping over their halls or some such maudlin nonsense....
  
  "It"s a rare enough thing, a man who lives up to his reputation" she replied, giving the slightest bow of her head to signal her acquiescence to what had been discussed and agreed, smiling inside at the thoughts of Tywin Lannister being taken in by her insincerity.
  
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  Think an SI into Ned Stark with a Homo Drakensis twist sounds like fun? Well the Black Wolf [NSFW] is the story for you then!
  What would you did if you woke up in Westeros and discovered you had been subjected to an enforced gender change? See the adventures of The Littlest Lioness for all the delightful details...
  Ever fancied being Tywin Lannister? Well now you can find out, courtesy of The Lion in Winter
  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Tyrion X
  
  "You disapprove" his father said with a characteristic lack of emotion.
  
  He had just been returned to the Red Keep a scant few minutes ago, he, Jamie and Brienne of Tarth had been released from their so called "protective custody" several hours ago. The three of them were escorted to Kings Landing where they had found the place in uproar, learning the news of Joffrey"s death at his wedding. Jamie had disappeared off the moment they had reached the Red Keep, no doubt to be reunited with Cersei, Brienne had been escorted off somewhere and he had made straight for the Tower of the Hand. Accounts were as usual conflicting of exactly what had happened, was he poisoned or had he choked to death? Poisoning seemed to be the most likely and apparently Lord Baelish had confessed to the heinous crime, unfortunately perishing shortly afterwards due to the rigours of the questioning he had been subjected to.
  
  He sat at the far end of the table that the Small Council used in the Hand"s Solar, warily regarding his father, and cognisant that he had to be very, very careful with what he said. If his father was ruthless enough to kill a King, even a thoroughly shit one like Joffrey, he was sure that the Lord Hand would have no compunction about killing him, father or not.
  
  "It, it was certainly quite the spectacle, or so I"m told, the boy King choking and pleading, his eyes standing out of his skull, red with blood, his lips purple, gurgling and gasping for air. With his mother screaming for my head, how thoughtful, nay how prescient of you to have my good self removed from Kings Landing father.....And with Jamie also not present in the capital...."
  
  "Just so we understand each other" Tywin hissed through gritted teeth "it was not me who poisoned that inbreed bastard.....it was the Tyrell"s with the help of Baelish..."
  
  Tyrion very nearly fell off his chair at that, by the gods, not only did his father know of Cersei and Jamie"s crimes it seemed that he allowed the Tyrell"s to murder Joffrey! He would have to be doubly careful with what he said....
  
  "Do you think that Olenna Tyrell would let that monster hurt Lady Margaery? You think that once that old hag became aware of Joffrey"s nature that the boy"s days were not numbered? The Queen of Thorns is no fool, Tommen is now King and Margaery will be wed to him, a much more pleasant, and malleable young man for the rose of Highgarden and the Queen of Thorns."
  
  "But, but you let this happen? Joffrey was a disastrous King yes, but, but....."
  
  His father stood up, walked to a sideboard and poured out some well watered wine into two goblets, walked over to him a handed him one, his father took a drink, his green eyes boring into him "Do you know why treason never prospers Tyrion?"
  
  He took a long, long gulp of wine, deciding to finish the entire goblet in one draught, to get his thoughts in order, but realising that there was probably no correct answer to his father"s question.
  
  "No?" his father asked when he did not respond "the reason that treason does not prosper is that should it prosper, none dare call it treason. Remember that well Tyrion..." his father said, looming over him.
  
  "And....Tommen and Mrycella?"
  
  "What of them? Do you think I intend to broadcast their status as bastards born of foul incest to the world? To have everyone from Princes to smallfolk laughing at us, at House Lannister?"
  
  "Laughing at you" Tyrion corrected his father in the safety of his own mind.
  
  "No, I will deal with your sister and brother on my own good time for their disgraceful crimes against their blood, and I will have to rededicate myself to ensuring our line continues, free of blemish."
  
  Oh, interesting....but a dangerous thought dominated his mind, and he had to ask "what, what of Jamie and Cersei? What will become of them?"
  
  For a moment or two his father just gazed mercilessly at him, before answering "Your dear sister is distraught by the death of her son, she is sedated currently, once she recovers she will be married off with as much haste as possible and as far away as possible so that I will never have to set eyes on her again. Jamie will no doubt want to take up his duties as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and he can spend the rest of his life guarding his bastard son."
  
  Never let it be said that Tywin Lannister had an ounce of pity or remorse in him, well time to move on then "I believe that I now have to take up my new duties as Master of Coin?"
  
  "You do, Baelish sang like the songbird that was his sigil, he thoroughly implicated the Tyrell"s in Joffrey"s demise, something that I made Lady Olenna aware of. She still tried to bargain her way out, in fact I even gave her more than she thinks I should have, but for now let her think she has won a little victory."
  
  "Most unlike you father?" he quipped, unable to resist, even given the seriousness of their conversation.
  
  "Olenna Tyrell knows the limits of my patience and forbearance, I trust her to honour our arrangement so long as it benefits House Tyrell, no more, no less."
  
  Tyrion did not respond to this for a second or two before saying "it has been publically announced that Baelish conspired with unnamed Targaryen loyalists to murder Joffrey, and thus all is nice and neatly wrapped up if I say so myself. Joffrey is dead; Tommen will be subject to the Regency of the Small Council for several more years, probably won"t be married to Margaery for at least two or three years. Which leaves you in effective control of the realm, and along with the majority of the Crowns debt owned by Casterly rock.....nice. I have to say it"s all worked out perfectly for you in the end father, well done!" he could not let a slight note of sourness creep into his voice, his bloody father had gotten exactly what he wanted again, like every fucking time, and it was so dammed annoying.
  
  "Has it now?" his father responded, the slightest of snarls in his voice "you think this is a game, that the outcome is certain? Your brother and sister have almost destroyed this family, and nearly taken the entire realm with them. This war can be laid at the feet of their stupidity; you think I want to spend my days sorting out their mess? House Lannister nearly fell in my father"s day due to stupidity; I won"t make that mistake again, ever...."
  
  "You, you mentioned ensuring that our line continues? You have yet to inform me of who I am to marry?"
  
  "You have no need to worry, the maid I have in mind for you should meet all your requirements, but I"d see to that whore of yours first, send her away with enough coin to make the parting profitable enough for her."
  
  He gritted his teeth at this, anger flaring on his face despite his best efforts, glaring at his father, whose face looked mildly amused.
  
  "I know you have feelings for the girl Tyrion, but you will need to divest yourself of her sooner or later, you have your duty to your family to consider."
  
  "You mean to you!" he snapped out, unable to help himself.
  
  "Tyrion, you are not a child, I am giving you an opportunity to do this your way, and surely you don"t want to do this my way?" he asked; his voice as cold and merciless as always.
  
  "You..." he choked out, rage filling him.
  
  His Lord father merely looked at him as he raged, unable to form words, until the Old Lion remarked "Now to more important matters, the Starks and Tully"s have decided to come to the negotiating table."
  
  "Is that so?" he asked, momentarily taken back by the change in subject, his anger cooling slightly "Interesting, what made them decide to finally see sense then?"
  
  "I made them an offer they could not refuse" his father replied, the barest hints of a smile momentarily tugging at the corner of the Old Lions mouth.
  
  Tyrion shuddered at what that meant in reality, probably a lone musician playing the "Rains of Castamere" outside Riverrun...
  
  "Baelish killing Joffrey removed a major obstacle to peace, and since they no longer have Jamie they have little to trade or offer, they were at the end of their rope, The Karstarek"s marched home after he took their Lord"s head, the Bolton"s appear to have deserted, or rebelled, or been overwhelmed by an unknown force, the information I have is contradictory on that point. And the Frey"s have abandoned them sighting Robb Stark"s delay in marrying one of their spawn as breaking his oath to them when they let his army cross The Twins."
  
  "The most expensive Toll the Frey"s ever levied I"ll wager" he quipped, but his father gave no outward response to this "Though Walder Frey does not strike me as a brave man, calculating yes, be brave, no....his abandoning his King"s cause, and throwing away the chance, however slim, of a Frey being a Queen? You bought him, didn"t you?"
  
  "I did, the Karstark"s Robb Stark did all on his own......The boy"s mother Catelyn Stark released Jamie, though his maiming is regrettable, another debt the Stark boy owes me. Now they have only one thing left to negotiate with Tyrion, their lives."
  
  Seeing as how the Bolton"s maimed Jamie he would not put it past his father to have been involved in the apparent slaughter that took place in Harrenhall, but as to why the Old Lion was being so coy about it he could not fathom.
  
  "Hrmmm, looks like everything will be wrapped up quite nicely, just leaving Stannis and the Iron Born to be dealt with. Again father, masterfully done" he saluted his father with a nod of his head, while inside bile scorched the back of his throat, his dammed father, having everyone dance to his tune and do exactly what he wanted.
  
  "There will be some details to be worked out before they bend the knee to Tommen, I will require your assistance in this matter, you know the Starks from your time in Winterfell."
  
  "Of course father, though I would be careful to not insult Robb Stark, and not call him a boy for starters."
  
  His father glared at him for a second or two before continuing "We, you and I, will be heading north to meet with Robb Stark on the borders between the Crownlands and the Riverlands. There we will discuss the terms for him bending the knee and surrendering his crown, the second Stark to do so if I recall....he will also be agreeing to the marriage of his sister Sansa, for his sake the lad better not act all butt hurt...."
  
  Tyrion was overcome by a fit of coughing and laughing, "butt hurt", my but where did his father get these sayings from?
  
  "And just which one of the Lannister clan is being so honoured with the hand of Lady Sansa?" he asked once he recovered himself, suddenly terrified his father would have him wed the Stark girl.
  
  "Me" his father announced his face hard set and unsmiling.
  
  Tyrion could have fallen off his chair with the knock of a feather he was so surprised.
  
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  Varys II
  
  Sitting in his chambers the Master of whispers had much to consider, to ruminate on, and to plan for. With Lord Baelish"s removal he thought he would have felt something of joy at the mockingbird"s demise, but instead all he felt was dread, brought about by the swiftness, the ruthlessness of Lord Tywin in dealing with Littlefinger, and to such apparent advantage. He had grossly underestimated the Old Lion, he had thought him just a cantankerous old beast and too interested in using blunt violence to ensure his will was done. And yet the last few days had shown the subtle work of a true master, one he could almost admire he realised with a profound shock.
  
  And yet what did this new and terrifying developments mean for him and his plans? The two threads of his plans were moving on as planned, secure as far as he could make them secure, but the events orchestrated by the Hand were sufficient to make one pause and consider.
  
  And to consider fleeing while one still had a head attached to one"s body, for he could expect any mercy should the Old Lion get even the merest hint of what he was up too. His little birds had been expulsed from the secret passageways of the Tower of the Hand permanently, and a distressing number of them were turning up dead, both in the Red Keep and in Kings Landing, a sorry state of affairs as it reduced the amount of songs he could hear sung every day.
  
  But on the other hand, things were just so much more interesting now, a new King to crown, a Queen not yet bedded being positioned to marry yet another King after a suitable span of time, and the War of the Five Kings as yet not resolved. Though with Joffrey and Renly dead could one still call it the War of the Five Kings? The War of the Four Kings did not quite have the same ring to it he was honest with himself.
  
  On that note his little birds sang a song of a treaty that had mystified him at first, until of course King Joffrey had so tragically been murdered by Lord Baelish. It all began to make sense now, the Old Lion had obviously become aware of the Tyrell plot with Baelish to kill Joffrey and rather than oppose it had used it instead to his advantage. This explained the reckless way that Lord Tywin had acted around Joffrey, his seeming delight in thwarting Joffrey and Cersei, for now with Joffrey removed he could deal with a much more agreeable, and pliant King, the young Tommen.
  
  Tommen might even grown to be a decent King under the tutelage of the Old Lion, but he was sure that poor Tommen would never grow into his Kingship, for Aegon and Danaerys would be back in Westeros long before Tommen came to sit well on the Iron Throne.
  
  And even before that, should it become necessary to advance the cause he had dedicated his life too? Well Kings had been dying ever so frequently of late, what was another one to that list? Maybe he did not even need to dispose of the King, the truth of his true parentage had been a potent weapon in Baelish"s hands, and could he not make the same use of that dark and terrible secret?
  
  But there were the potential upcoming nuptials of Lord Tywin and Lady Sansa to consider, a turn up for the books if ever there was one. The girl would likely be totally subsumed by the Old Lion once he got his cloak over her shoulders, a mere plaything for him, but yet a valuable plaything. For if anything should happen to Robb Stark her children with Lord Tywin would inherit the North, equally precarious was the life of Edmure Tully, should he fall Sansa"s children would also stand to inherit the Riverlands. The arrangement brokered was supposed to be a secret, but his little birds had reported this morsel to him from Riverrun, and he wondered who he might whisper this choice piece of news to in Kings Landing to gain the most effect...
  
  So the Old Lion desired a solid power block for the next generation to counter the Baratheon/Tyrell axis forming in Kings Landing, of that he was sure, the only question was if the Old Lion would leave things to chance or would he see to the demise of his erstwhile relatives himself?
  
  As he said, a formidable player of the Great Game alright, and someone worthy of respect and not a little fear, but he had survived in the court of the Mad King, had survived the years of Robert"s dissolute reign. It would be a challenge surely to survive, let alone prosper, but he felt that his plans still needed his own touch here in Westeros; abandoning things just right now might be premature in the extreme. And should he fall? Well his plans were well enough advanced that his demise would be of little overall consequence, and Illyrio knew what had to be done, there was enough coin salted away for the Golden Company to be hired and committed to the restoration, and the union of Aegon and Danaerys would present a solid front to rally Targaryen loyalists around. And that was before Danaerys"s dragons were considered, such a fortuitous occurrence he delighted, but still it reeked of magic, and that he was of course wary of. Now all that was needed was a few more years for the beasts to grow and become more ferocious, along with making sure that the reign of poor young Tommen was beset with all sorts of problems and tragedies.
  
  For a start his grandfather would have to be removed from play, despite his grudging admiration for Lord Tywin he simply had to go, he was far too much of an obstacle to his plans. But how to remove the Old Lion, he supposed it was too much to expect that Lord Tywin would retire to Casterly rock with his new Stark child bride and spend the rest of his days making her fat with babies.
  
  No, the Old Lion would likely triumph, having ended the war and continue being Hand of the King, with all what that entailed. And there was the not inconsiderable amount of coin the Iron Throne owed Casterly rock, nigh on nine million gold Dragons if his sources were accurate, with Lord Tywin as Hand and Lord Tyrion as Master of Coin, the Lannister"s were going to be paid their debts, one way or another.
  
  So he bent his mind to work, there were still several unresolved items that had the potential to cause trouble for the Iron Throne, the Ironborn, the Vale and the brooding Stannis Baratheon on Dragonstone, and while these were all serious threats, there were other things that could be done in the short term to make the Old Lion"s grip on power less secure.
  
  For start there was the new alliance with the Tyrell"s, which so easily might have gotten off to a rocky start, and which might yet, with a little help of course. The Tyrell"s were obviously being blackmailed by the Hand over the death of Joffrey, so there was potential to sow discord amongst this relationship, twisting things to sour the Tyrell"s towards House Lannister. Or, the perennially fractious nature of Reach politics could be exploited to reduce the influence of the Tyrell"s at court, many were the Houses of the Reach that envied and despised the Tyrell"s, there would be no shortage of candidates that could be manipulated to do his bidding in this regard.
  Or maybe even both options together? Ah, what a delicious thought, to pit wits against the Queen of Thorns, it was sure to be a worthwhile exercise.
  
  And of the other problems confronting the Iron Throne, each one had a potential to damage the fragile calm sure to descend after peace was made with the Stark"s and the Tully"s. It would be such a shame for renewed fighting to break out, with autumn nearly upon the realm and the smallfolk exhausted by war. Each one of these problems were examined, all had potential, indeed all could be steered in subtle ways, both by him and by his birds so as to maximise their potential for disruption.
  
  The Ironborn were slightly more difficult to utilise, their stupid ways made them somewhat resistant to his normal methods, but songs about the upcoming alliance between the Westerlands and the North was sure to concentrate their minds. Add to that the movement of elements of the Westerland and Reach fleet to Blackwater bay, and he was sure the Ironborn would act true to form and continue to cause trouble.
  
  Lysa Arryn could be manipulated by the fact that the Old Lion killed her lover Petyr Baelish, who was also the most likely candidate for the father of her son, so her continuing resistance to the Iron Throne was assured. Some messages containing details, some fabricated but others true, of the tortures Lord Baelish suffered would be sure to inflame Lady Arryn further.
  
  And while Stannis Baratheon was said to consort with a Red Priestess who saw visions in the fire he was sure that a warning of the impending fleet movements from the west coast of Westeros to invest Dragonstone would certainly interest Lord Stannis.
  
  All in all he was confident that he could continue to keep the realms from having much in the way of peace for years to come, and to thus prepare the way for his carefully nurtured plans to bear fruit.
  
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  Bryer II
  
  "My Lord"
  
  "Bryer."
  
  As was his wont he stayed in the deep shadows cast by the walls of the Solar of the Hand, keeping his hood raised to hide his face. Not that is Lord did not know him to see, it was just something born of long habit and natural caution.
  
  "Well done, everything went to plan, no lose ends, very professional."
  
  "Thank you my Lord" he replied, taking pride in a job well done as much as in his master"s praise.
  
  "How goes the tidying up of Lord Baelish"s various enterprises and undertakings?"
  
  "Ongoing, Lord Baelish had squirreled away quite a bit of coin in out of the way places and with other parties, who were mostly unaware that they were holding monies for the former Master of Coin."
  
  "Make sure there is a full accounting of all of this Bryer, but there is no need to hand over all of it to the new Master of Coin, some of it I am sure can be retained and used for our purposes?"
  
  "Yes my Lord."
  
  "I will leave it in your hands then Bryer, now to the rest of our business."
  
  At this he handed over a pewter bottle to his Lord and nodded at the raised eyebrow.
  
  "Same concentration as before my Lord."
  
  "Good, it has worked as you said, and nobody appears to be the wiser, especially after his Grace"s death."
  
  Bryer"s face betrayed no emotion at this; even with his face hidden he would not show anything.
  
  "The item from Oldtown?"
  
  "Yes my Lord, it has been retrieved, here" at this he handed his Lord a book wrapped in oilskin.
  
  "Good, now tell me of progress concerning matters to the north of here."
  
  "All goes well, should the need arise to utilise the method you requested it will present no problem."
  
  "And the necessary "plausible deniability" I would require?"
  
  "I have the necessary documentation prepared, and the bill of lading showing the shipment will actually be the one I will use to ship the goods to their destination. The bonded storage that would be used for the cover goods is a perfect location for the purposes that you require. The cover goods will have their own legitimate documentation, and goods of this type are shipped regularly enough on this route to not arouse any suspicion."
  
  "Good, will you be attending to this personally?"
  
  "I intend to my Lord, yes. And the time frame involved my Lord?" he asked, already suspecting he knew the answer.
  
  "Two turns of the moon as a rough guide, it should not happen before certain events, but should not happen too much later after them either."
  
  "As my Lord commands, but there is likely to be many more caught up in this in addition to the clients" he did feel compelled to mention this, just in case, so that his master was fully appraised of the consequences of the course of action he wanted pursued.
  
  "Understood Bryer, and accepted, now to Dragonstone, is there any news?"
  
  "Nothing my Lord, my agents have not reported back to me for several weeks now."
  
  "Assume they are dead or compromised, Stannis has a Red Priestess in his employ, the Gods only know what she can see in her flames."
  
  "Yes my Lord, is any further action to be taken regarding Dragonstone?"
  
  "For now no.....Lord Varys?"
  
  "We are probing his network, it is more extensive than previously understood, his "little birds" are but one of his means of gathering information. Like the former Master of Coin he had fingers in many pies."
  
  "Not surprising, his contacts with Essos?"
  
  "I have identified the factors he uses and the relative frequency he uses them, roughly every turn of the moon."
  
  "Keep him and his under observation, it may become necessary to remove the Master of Whispers at short notice, be ready to act on my command."
  
  "I will ensure that the necessary plans are ready my Lord" he replied, wondering again why his master had not used the chaos of the death of King Joffrey to do away with the Spider. The eunuch was by far the greater threat than Lord Baelish had been, in his professional opinion, Lord Varys"s network was far reaching and discrete, and very, very well run, Baelish"s by contrast was a typical amateur"s set up. Oh it had a few innovations and surprises to be sure, but nothing to fear, nothing to respect, as one professional to another.
  
  "Good.....now....the whereabouts of Euron Greyjoy?"
  
  "Nothing so far my Lord, rumours of him being sighted off Sothoryos near the Ax Isle, but nothing definitive."
  
  "I want to know the moment he pops up and you can confirm a definitive sighting Bryer, especially if he reappears on the Iron Islands, this is critical, do you understand?"
  
  "Yes my Lord" he replied, an undercurrent of fear just discernable in his Lords voice, something he had never heard before.
  
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  Jamie I
  
  "You took your time" his father growled at him from behind his desk, not even deigning to raise his head to look at him.
  
  "Well, I needed a bath, a change of clothes and a shave father; I missed the comforts of civilisation during my sojourn with the Starks. I could hardly present myself before the Hand of the King looking like a begging brother after all!" He thought it best to resort to his usual light hearted banter to deflect and neutralise his father"s usual wrath.
  
  "Hrmmmm, you had time to visit your sister before you came to me though, how is she?"
  
  He wanted to lash out at his father, anger roiling inside him, Cersei was, she was not the same woman he had left to go to war with the Starks, his lioness was a shell of her former self. Gone was the fire, the arrogance, the poise, replaced by anger, hatred, madness and an unhealthy amount of wine imbibed every day. His meeting with his twin had shocked him, unsettled him, the fragile hold Cersei seemed to have on her sanity was terrifying, her rants against father and Tyrion chilling in their intensity. His sister had always been a passionate person, living her loves and hates to a much more intense degree than him, but Cersei appeared to be driven by something else now, something more fanatical.
  
  "My sister is not well, as I am sure you know, the death of Joffrey has struck her hard."
  
  "Indeed, the death of her bastard fathered by you seems to have unhinged what little sanity Cersei still clung to."
  
  That stopped Jamie cold, his mind whirling, a roaring in his ears that only he could hear making any coherent though impossible. His father simply gazed at him with that steely eyed glare that was his default look, while he was sure his own face probably looked slack jawed and stupid. Before he could recover his father continued "I don"t know what the pair of you were thinking Jamie, that you would get away with it?"
  
  To hell with his father "we got away with it so far...."
  
  "You idiot...." his father hissed at him, his eyes suddenly blazing with a hatred so intense he was tempted to recoil in fright.
  
  "You, you thought so little of your name, that you would sully it so, with incest....."
  
  "I was already a Kingslayer, seemed like it was of little consequence, plus Robert was too drunk or too interested in tupping whores to do his duty by his Queen so I....."
  
  "ENOUGH!" his father roared "Enough gods damm you!" Tywin bunching his fists on the desk, once again he had managed to provoke the Old Lion, good, that meant he was not losing his touch, despite losing a hand.
  
  His father just took deep breath after deep breath before finally asking through clenched teeth "I see you have donned that ridiculous armour, can I assume that if I ask you to relinquish your white cloak you will refuse me?"
  "But of course!" he replied, plastering a smug smile on his face, no sense in letting his father think losing his hand would change him.
  
  Something flickered in the eyes of his father, was it recognition, acceptance, maybe even satisfaction?
  
  "As I suspected, very well, you will be elevated to the position of Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, though you will be the first one handed Knight in the Kingsguard."
  
  What a cunt..."Well I always was one for being unique..." he quipped back.
  
  His father did not respond to this instead he continued "Your sister, should she recover from her malaise following Joffrey"s death will have to marry again, and in all likelihood leave Kings Landing for good as a result. So no more golden Lannister cunny for you, ever again......"
  
  No sense in pleading on behalf of his love, his father had nothing of kindness or mercy in him, only calculation. He came to his decision swiftly. "I will give up the White Cloak if you spare her this...." There, he had said it, he would do it, he would give up, he would surrender to his father"s will, to save Cersei.
  
  "How many times did I make my offer boy? And how many times did you refused me, even mocking me with that stupid grin you like to wear?"
  
  Jamie was shocked by his father"s coldness, here he was acquiescing to what he knew was his father"s most cherished wish, and the Old Lion was saying no?
  
  "You had your chances, and you threw them away..... And why would I want a man who shows such poor judgement that he not only fucks his own sister on a regular basis, but he conspires with her to pass off their bastards as legitimate?"
  
  He gave his father a tight grin "I was never known for my intelligence now was I father?"
  
  "No, you were renowned for you skill with a sword, how is that working out for you without your right hand?" his father replied, the very slightest of a sneer pulling at his mouth.
  
  What did he expect from his father, sympathy? No, never that, only a relentless, crushing monomaniacal obsession with family and legacy, and now that Tywin Lannister considered him worthless?
  
  "Your dear sister is equally as stupid, she let her own twin brother pup her three fucking times! All she had to do was give that drunken fool one dark haired child, one gods dammed dark haired child! And maybe, maybe we would not be in this mess!"
  
  "Cersei did give Robert a dark haired son, but the little whelp died" he retorted sullenly.
  
  "No Jamie, the baby was poisoned by Cersei; I had Maester Pycelle confirm it after the child died."
  
  Jamie was at a loss for words at this, his mind spinning and tumbling and refusing to come up with any answers.
  
  "I know she was the one in the pair of who that held the whip hand, manipulating you, twisting you, leading you around by your pillar. You know she cares nothing for you boy, don"t you? I"ll wager she did not take too kindly to you being missing a hand? Because you are no longer the peerless warrior who can be relied upon to protect her no matter what stupidity she has convinced herself was the right course of action eh?"
  
  There was little to say in response to the Old Lion so he just sat there, keeping his face as fixed as possible and not allowing his father any more victories than he had already scored.
  
  "The things you have done for love Jamie, like throwing that Stark boy from a window, surely your proudest moment as a Knight?"
  
  At this he could not contain himself "how, how do you know? Did Cersei tell you....?"
  
  "Your sister has told me nothing, but when you examine the facts it becomes obvious enough. And rather than resolve it by making sure the poor lad never awoke you left it to that idiot son of yours to arrange. Who of course botched it and thus triggered the whole mess we have been dealing with ever since."
  
  "The attempt on Bran"s life, that was Joffrey"s doing?"
  
  "Yes, and he gifted the cutpurse a Valyrian steel dagger to carry out the act, there is stupid and there is stupid Jamie, but that?"
  
  "Erh yes, well, Joffrey was a bit of a, well...."
  
  "Cunt, he was a stupid, spoilt, vicious, idiotic cunt Jamie, you should have pulled out that time on the Isle of Tarth and done us all a favour."
  "The, the other....children?"
  
  "Tommen will be crowned King and will wed Margaery Tyrell. Myrcella may marry that Dornish Prince her uncle deemed her worthy of."
  
  "And, the, well...."
  
  "The rumours will no doubt circulate, the gossips will tattle, but so long as you and Cersei say, or do nothing further to inflame these rumours, then all might be well, and this family might just survive."
  
  Silence fell between them then, until his father broke it "And to think you could have probably prevented all of this by just telling Eddard Stark why you killed Aerys..."
  
  "It seemed like a good idea at the time" he quipped, falling back on the answer he always gave when this was brought up."
  
  His father slapped his palm on his desk "You think me a fool boy! You think I have not become aware of the Wildfire that Aerys had stockpiled under Kings Landing? That"s why you killed him, and that equally idiotic Wisdom of his. Aerys was mad, he had often spoken of using "fire and blood" to be reborn as a dragon, I"ll bet he thought immolating all of Kings Landing would provide enough blood for his transformation."
  
  Jamie could say nothing in return, how could he, his father had stripped him bare of everything he had once had, everything that had made him what he was. Eventually he croaked out "what are you.....going to do about the Wildfire?"
  
  "It"s been sitting under Kings Landing for over a decade and a half, sweating, getting more powerful, more sensitive...For now you will not speak of it to anyone, but it will be removed and transported to a safer place for storage. Had things been different it could even have been the redemption of you Jamie, showing to the world why you killed mad Aerys, one death to save hundreds of thousands, a confirmation of your knightly vows, your honour."
  "And now?" he had to ask, bile in his throat, the sour taste of defeat, of humiliation.
  
  "Now, it will be just another sad footnote when people talk about the Kingslayer."
  
  What a cunt.
  
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  Tywin IV
  
  Javier Peña stood before me, well not really, but Oberyn Martell was a dead ringer for everyone"s favourite DEA agent from Netflick"s Narcos Season 1 & 2. This was not exactly a meeting I was looking forwards too if I was honest, there was little I could do to deflect the vengeance that the Martell"s were sure to inflict on House Lannister in general, and me, or Tywin, in particular.
  
  The whole "book or show" canon thing was highly confusing to say the least, and I suspected that it was a deliberate ploy by whatever or whoever had dropped me into this particular arsehole of the universe to annoy and thwart me.
  Tywin for one was highly amused by my bemoaning all of this, ascribing me being here to the "gods", though which ones he never specified and of being of the opinion that the Gods were cunts, much like his younger son"s opinion on the matter.
  
  Dragging my mind beck to the matter at hand I was going to do my best to try and postpone the day of reckoning between House Lannister and House Martell for as long as possible. Though of course Tywin had been dragged, metaphorically kicking and screaming to this point, and the Old Lion was still highly annoyed by what I was planning to do. At least he had stopped sulking and being uncommunicative, and had reluctantly agreed that, all things considered, given the greater concerns we both had, namely the fucking fast approaching Ice Apocalypse, that this was in the end a trifling matter.
  
  "My Lord Hand" announced Oberyn Martell with his characteristic smiling arrogance, I"d never read any book descriptions of him, having only read selected chapters of the books - and never cover to cover as such. So I did not know how accurate Pedro Pascal"s portrayal was supposed to be, unlike that Danish dude who played Euron Greyjoy, who even I knew played Euron with enough ham to choke a Rabbi to death.
  
  "Prince Oberyn" I replied, gesturing with a hand to the table, indicating that we should sit, as usual I was using the Hand"s Solar as the venue, I felt comfortable here, in control of events. And speaking of events and such things were progressing with reasonable success, Joffrey and Littlefinger were no more, Cersei was well on her way to becoming insane and needing to be locked away in a septary and Jamie was suitably chastened by losing his hand.
  
  Tywin had been in agreement with killing Joffrey and letting the Tyrell"s do the dirty work, along with pinning the blame on Baelish, what he had not been in favour of was killing either of his "golden twins", no matter what they did he would not countenance killing them. Removing them from play, neutering them, yes, killing them, absolutely no. So hence the poisoning of Cersei with a drug that would drive her insane, ironically Tywin had planned to use the same drug on Aerys but generations of Targ inbreeding had done its work for him instead. All the supposed interest in marrying Cersei off had just been a facade, once Tywin knew what she had done and how she had acted he knew she was an utter liability that needed to be dealt with.
  
  So driving her mad and then packing her off to an enclosed septary somewhere quiet was the plan, we had already found the perfect place to dispose of Cersei, and in the Westerlands, so even better. Cersei would be purportedly sent back to Casterly rock but would "take ill" and have to be removed to the Sept to protect her "fragile state". The dosages she was imbibing were approaching permanent damage levels so it would soon now that she could be removed from Kings Landing. And out of play in the Game of Thrones, for the betterment of all involved, and especially us, me, the Lannister"s.
  
  Jamie had been dealt with by the loss of his hand and though it annoyed Tywin no end he had eventually come to see the benefits of this. He now knew how stupid Jamie had been so retaining him in the Kingsguard made sense with Cersei withdrawn from the scene. He could spend the rest of his life as a glorified guard, for Tywin had finally come to realise that Jamie was just not interested in ruling. But Tywin would have never let the Bolton"s, or those sellswords, what was their name again..... Bloody something"s....get away with maiming Jamie. Oh no, fuck no, and to be honest I was in agreement with him, you did not let anyone shit on you like that in the Game of Thrones, and disposing of the Bolton"s, well at least Roose and his senior bannermen, was the bare minimum that the two of use agreed upon. Ramsey would be dealt with in due course, that crazy ass bastard was going to find himself fatally dead soon enough, come what may.
  
  On the matter of Tyrion I had done my best to try and get him to reconsider Tyrion as his successor, but the Old Lion was adamant, the dwarf would never inherit, ever. And despite this being a major "red button" issue for Tywin some of his reasoning made sense, the banner man of the Westerlands might not respect Tyrion, and there was the matter of a wife. Despite Tywin"s reputation none of his banner men, from the highest Lord to the lowliest Landed Knight had accepted his offer of Tyrion"s hand. Something which had actually annoyed Tywin immensely over the years and which meant that when Sansa Stark had proposed it had not been too much of a hurdle to get him to agree to this.
  
  Of course the age gap factor he had completely ignored, all he was interested in was the girl fertile and was she not an idiot and I think the answer to both those questions was a "yes". This Sansa Stark looked nothing like her show counterpart, and seemed to be less of a befuddled idiotic girl than either her portrayal in the books or the show. She ticked all the boxes for Tywin, who once he had access to my meta knowledge had immediately started to consider matches for himself, though mainly among his banner men and without actually making any concrete moves and thus having to disappoint anyone.
  
  Anyway I dragged my attention back to the room and its smirking occupant, here goes nothing, the guffaw from Tywin in my mind not helping one bit.
  
  "Thank you for coming to see me Prince Oberyn, the unfortunate death of King Joffrey so soon after his father"s death poses a considerable problem for the realm, added to this ongoing senseless war with the North and the Riverlands, to say nothing of the rank stupidity of Balon Greyjoy and the Iron Born. The Seven Kingdoms needs unity if it is to stand a chance of survival, and not descend into a bunch of warring petty kingdoms again, and Dorne is conspicuous by its absence from the affairs of the realm."
  
  "There was a rebellion that overthrew the Targaryen"s, you yourself took some small part in it my Lord Hand, my sister and her children were murdered at the conclusion of that rebellion, surely you remember?" Oberyn Martell asked, a grin on his handsome face but it was brittle and it did not reach his eyes, which burned with murderous intensity.
  
  "Yes, and your brother simmers in anger in the Water Gardens, goaded by your hot blood for vengeance, and thus plots with a Cheesemonger and a Spider to put a young Dragon that is protected by an old Griffon back on the Iron Throne. And all he thinks the price will be is the hand of his daughter Arianne to this so called "Aegon"? Let me ask you Prince Oberyn, would your sister have let her son out of her sight for a second? Would she have let the Spider spirit him away? Why not her daughter too, and even her? I for one find it hard to believe that a princess of Dorne would have let the heir to the Iron Throne to the devices of the Master of Whispers, no matter what."
  
  "You did not know my sister my Lord Hand, she would have done anything, anything to protect her children" hissed Oberyn Martell in response.
  
  "Maybe, maybe not, but the fact remains that this so called "young griff" or Aegon as he styles himself, has no real way of proving his legitimacy beyond the promises of a Master of Whispers and an overly ambitious Magister. Then there is the rather unfortunate problem that the children borne by Princess Elia by Rhaegar are not legitimate."
  
  "WHAT?" the Red Viper hissed at me, I could feel the atmosphere change in the room, violence was imminent.
  
  "Here" I said calmly, letting something of Tywin come to the surface to share this with me, pulling on his reserves of calm and icy fortitude, as I handed over a document to Oberyn.
  
  "This is an excerpt from the diary of High Septon Meynard, the page you hold is a copy, you will notice the Citadel authentication stamps at the bottom confirming that this is a legitimate copy created by the Scribes of the Citadel. The page describes the annulment of the wedding of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell and the subsequent wedding of Rhaegar to Lyanna Stark. By law his children with Princess Elia were bastards from then on."
  
  I waited for Prince Oberyn"s reaction to that bombshell, noticing with Tywin"s eye"s the emotions working their way across the Red Viper"s face, while in my head Tywin radiated a smug sense of satisfaction. Personally I thought that Prince Oberyn was about to murder me, Bronn was at the door but he would never reach us in time if the Red Viper decided to end me. Not exactly a pleasant thought but Tywin scoffed at the idea, confident that Oberyn would not try anything, I was not no sure, these Latin Types were very hot headed after all....
  
  "Bastardry is not so much of an issue in Dorne" he eventually replied nonchalantly, but we could see that this had rattled him, and we both wondered what effect this would have on Doran Martell and his endlessly delayed plans for vengeance.
  
  On that note "I have something for you Prince Oberyn, and for your brother" I gestured to Bronn who was hovering at the door, who gave me a quick bow and left the Solar, Prince Oberyn observed this with a raised eyebrow.
  
  While waiting for Bronn to return I got up and walked over to the sideboard and poured two cups of well watered Dornish red, and returned to the table and handed Prince Oberyn a cup, taking a good deep drink from my cup.
  Standing over him, using Tywin"s favourite tactic of physical domination, the Dornish Prince smiled up at me and took an equally deep drink of his watered wine, his eyes never leaving mine.
  
  Hearing the door open I said "Ah good Ser Bronn, bring them here" I gestured to the former sellsword who plopped the two things down on the table to the right of the Prince of Dorne and just out of his line of vision as he was turned to face me.
  
  Oberyn turned away from me to see the freshly severed heads of Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch sitting on the table, leaking blood onto its deeply polished surface.
  
  He turned his gaze back to me and I raised my glass of wine "A Lannister always pays his debts."
  
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  Cersei III
  
  She sat with the curtains pulled, hating the light now, another thing to add to the long list of things that she hated, despised. Taking a long gulp of her wine, she ignored its sour, bile taste, ignored the effort it took to swallow past the lump in her throat.
  
  Everything was ashes, all was dust, her golden prince was dead, poisoned, poisoned by that little Imp, and none would believe her! And her golden twin returned to her, but maimed, worthless.....
  
  She still remembered Jamie coming to her, of how she had thrilled to hear of his return, how she had felt such joy in her heart, only for it all to be a tragic disappointment. Her golden twin was a shadow of his former self, and not just physically, the spark that made Jamie was absent, that pride, that arrogance, gone. He was no longer a lion to her mind, no longer was a Lannister, his spirit was washed away, there was barely even a glimpse of what he had been before.
  
  And with his sword hand gone, what was he now? The answer was simple, he was nothing, like Joffrey, her golden Prince, Jamie was no more, oh he still lived, if being a cripple could be called still living, but what made him Jamie, what made him special? No, she could not sense it anymore; it was as if in losing his hand the Jamie she had known and loved had been ripped from his body.
  
  How long had it been now, a moons turn, maybe more, since that accursed day when all light, all joy had fled her life, watching her son, the most perfect thing she had ever done, the union of her and Jamie"s flesh die before her. Choking, gasping, eyes bloodshot and bulging out of his skull, frantic and filled with terror as he tried to breathe, his mouth yawning impossibly wide as he desperately tried to gulp air into his lungs.
  
  Her mind dissolved into pure, raging hatred as she relived these memories, unable to form coherent thoughts she gave herself to her rage, letting it course through her, filling her, replacing all the hurt, the pain, the freezing emptiness she felt.
  
  I was good to let go, to embrace this purity of hate, she did not need to think, she did not need to feel, she just existed in a timeless, endless blaze of detestation at everything and everyone.
  
  But despite her best efforts she could not retain this blissful state for ever, too soon it slipped away from her and the world intruded into her thoughts once more, with all its petty concerns and problems.
  
  She stood up from the divan she had been lounging on, her muscles protesting this effort, she was stiff and sore from her lack of exercise, but she did not care, the last time she had left her chambers was to attend Joffrey"s funeral. She supposed that soon enough she would have to leave and attend Tommen"s coronation as King, the thoughts of which filled her with nothing but bile and uncontrolled anger. At this she caught sight of herself in a mirror, and the face that stared back at her she barely recognised, hair wild and unkempt, face puffy and streaked with tears, worry lines across her forehead. A snarl escaped her lips at this visage and she hurled her wine goblet at the mirror, shattering it into hundreds of pieces, no servant rushed in to clean away the mess, they knew better than to disturb her. The last servant to enter her chambers unbidden by her had been removed by her guards, bloody and insensate, and had apparently died a short time afterwards, the blow from a vase to the back of her skull having proved fatal.
  
  She cared not one whit for this, she had brained the chit with that vase for disturbing her, the slut should have known better, well her remaining servants knew better after that at least.
  
  Moving away from the debris of the mirror she paced her room, ignoring its gloom and its slightly stuffy smell from the drawn curtains and closed windows. She was a Lannister, a Lion of Casterly rock, she had to think, she had to plot, and most importantly she had to pay her debts, oh yes, they needed to be paid in full and with interest!
  
  Her brother had to die, and he had to die as soon as possible, that was the only way she could get any modicum of justice for her murdered son. No matter what was said, no matter that the fiction of Lord Baelish"s supposed involvement, she knew, she knew in her heart, that it was Tyrion who had killed Joffrey.
  
  Baelish was a whoremonger and was thoroughly her creature; he had no lands, no power, no vassals, no sponsor, his power was conditional on her blessing and her blessing alone. So he had his fleshmarts, so what, they were not power, real power, and he dabbled in trading and pushing coin around, pah! A Jumped up merchant was Littlefinger, a pawn who liked to sup at the table of his betters and who was grateful for the crumbs that they condescended to throw his way. No, Baelish, no matter how ambitious would not have murdered Joffrey, even with backing; he was not a player of the Game of Thrones, no for the Game of Thrones played him.
  
  The Tyrell"s she dismissed also, they had too much to lose should they be discovered, and they would be crushed by her father if even a hint of suspicion fell upon them. That old hag Olenna Tyrell was many things, all of them annoying, but she was not stupid or rash, no the Tyrell"s were not to blame for Joffrey"s murder.
  
  Tyrion, it had to be Tyrion, it was the only logical choice, this was the first part of his threat to kill all of her children, she saw it so clearly, so blatantly, and wondered, not for the first time, why no one else could see this? The disgusting little Imp"s plans were laid bare to her, kill Joffrey and banish Mrycella, who would probably be killed by the Dornish anyway; Tommen was next, probably to be killed before he attained his majority. But that was not the most diabolic part of the Imp"s plan, oh no, she knew what drove her little brother, what he wanted above all else was Casterly rock, to succeed her father. That was the twisted ambition that drove him, and to heap humiliation on all those who had humiliated him in the past, her and her father primarily. Jamie was a soft hearted fool when it came to their brother, only her and her father had treated him with the contempt that he deserved.
  
  And yet her father now seemed to be taken in by the Imp"s plots, a state of affairs that terrified her, for was her father not the smartest man in all Westeros? Was not the Old Lion the person she had most admired, most tried to emulate during her life? And was not she the only one of his children who had really understood his lessons, his lectures?
  
  And yet he had spurned her repeatedly, treated her and her Joffrey with little disguised contempt, when all she and Joffrey had done was what he would have done in their position, when all they had done they had done to preserve the power of the Lannister family?
  
  And yet her father could not, or would not see things in this light, he seemed to be obsessed with strange plots and plans, of which she was only dimly aware, though some of them she did know about. His absurd plans to marry her off again, firstly to that cripple Willas Tyrell and now according to her sources to a Manderly of all people? To traitors? To northern savages who had rebelled against her Joffrey and whose heads should be adorning the spikes over the Traitors Gate?
  
  Again this must be as a result of the pernicious influence of the Imp on her father, it was the only logical conclusion that she could draw, and her father blinded by the cunning and treachery of her detestable little brother was something that scared her to the bone.
  
  She twisted her mouth sourly as her mind plotted; she would have to do what was necessary, she still had her looks, and more importantly she knew how to wield that weapon that nestled between her legs.
  
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  Sansa XII
  
  Standing beside Lord Tywin she stifled a small yawn, Tommen was being crowned in the Throne Room and the ceremony had lasted at least two hours already. As befitted her station as a ward of the Hand of the King she was standing on the small dais that ran beside and behind the towering, twisted bulk of the Iron Throne.
  
  Her hair was worn loose and curled, as Lady Genna had advised her and she was wearing a gown of deep green, patterned with tiny vines threaded in gold.
  
  Tommen was wearing a doublet of crimson and gold with black trousers and he looked very alone and young as the High Septon droned on endlessly, she risked a glance to the other side of Lord Tywin, Queen Cersei was scowling, and drunk, and the stink of wine from her was unpleasant.
  
  As was her wont, or at least every time she encountered the former Queen, Cersei was drunk and was acting in ways that were highly inappropriate to her station, and she knew Lord Tywin mightily disapproved of his daughters behaviour. Though the Old Lion was not one to ever give up his grip on his emotions she now knew him a little bit better, she could read something of his body language, and he despised his daughter the way other men despised their own bodily waste.
  
  Tywin Lannister, the man who she would be married to in a few short turns of the moon... it was she had to admit, a very strange turn of events, for never in her life did she imagine such a thing happening. No regrets coloured her thoughts, she had made her decision, it would be her penance for her idiotic behaviour, behaviour that led to the death of her father and two younger brothers. And how many countless thousands of others had died in the wars that had followed? All that blood and suffering could be laid at her feet, and she wondered how she had not drowned in the sorrows and self loathing of it all?
  
  Her marriage to Tywin Lannister would, if not absolve her, be sufficient punishment for her crimes. And equally important she got to choose the man she would marry, and the Old Lion was exactly who she wanted, he suited her purposes perfectly. Not just to finally kill the stupid girl she had once been, oh no, while that had been an overriding concern for her, she had realised that Lord Tywin brought other advantages to her.
  
  And not to be too blunt about it, she would have power, as Lady of Casterly rock, as the mother of Lord Tywin"s heir"s she would, for the first time in her life, have, agency. Constrained by her sex and her station yes, but none would dare naysay her, nor mistreat her, she would fear no one as the wife of such a man, for who would dare lift a hand to the wife of the man about whom the Rains of Castamere were penned?
  
  As yet her proposed nuptials were still being kept secret, but only a few days ago Lord Tywin had informed her that they were to travel north to meet with her brother at the border between the Crownlands and the Riverlands for peace talks. She would be accompanying him and a significant portion of the Lannister army to the meeting where Lord Tywin and her brother would iron out the exact details of the proposed peace treaty.
  
  When Lord Tywin had asked her if she would consent to accompany them she had replied demurely "Of course my Lord Hand" while inside she was trembling, though she knew not why. She had saved her family from destruction; she had arranged for herself sufficient punishment, she had no reason to regret anything. Maybe it was the final knowing, that now her course was set, her future closing in around her, marriage and the duties of a wife and Lady looming.
  
  "You have Ser Jamie, what, what terms did you offer my brother that he consented to the end of the war my Lord?"
  
  "The return of your father"s bones and the Stark"s ancestral sword Ice, no penalties or sanctions imposed upon the North or the Riverlands for their rebellion. Your brother bending the knee and surrendering his crown, and being confirmed as Warden of the North and Lord of Winterfell. There are some other small matters to be attended to regarding certain details, but that is the main thrust of it. I gave your brother a way out of the trap he found himself in, and he was smart enough to take it my Lady, and when a man kneels before one it is always for the best that you help him back to his feet."
  
  She brought her mind back to the present, the High Septon was finally finished and Tommen was now officially King of the Seven Kingdoms, she clapped along with the rest of them and when the clapping and cheering had died down Tommen made a quick speech, not saying much of substance or note. Once this was done it was time to retire to one of the banqueting halls in the Maiden Vault to feast, which was attended by several hundred people.
  
  Seated at the High Table beside Lord Tywin she found her mind wandering as she ate, her cheeks colouring as she remembered the conversations she had with Genna Frey, and the positively scandalous book she had given her. A so called Lyseni "pillow book", replete with shocking drawings of things she could not even have imagined men and women did to each other.
  
  Lady Genna was remarkably frank when it came to discussing what passed for normal, or what looked to her like unnatural acts between husbands and wives, she sneaked a glance at Lord Tywin and wondered if he engaged in any of the acts portrayed in the book, or the ones Lady Genna so casually discussed. A giggle threatened to escape her mouth; she just could not picture the Old Lion engaged in the majority of what the pillow book described, mayhaps she had drunk enough wine if she was letting her control slip, settling her face to a blank look she pushed her wine glass away from her and instead reached for a glass of lemonade, a drink that was apparently popular in Essos. Taking a few sips of the refreshingly tart liquid she took a surreptitious look around the banqueting hall, Cersei was in her cups as usual, swaying in her seat and slurring her words, Ser Jamie was standing behind the High Table in his Kingsguard plate, looking slightly pained at his sisters behaviour.
  
  Tommen was sitting up in his seat at the centre of the table, the crown on his head and he looked serious, picking at his food, which was she knew unusual for him. Since Joffrey"s death Tommen had been ordered by Tywin to start squiring to Ser Jamie, and that he would attend one Small Council meeting a week to learn about the running of the realm, in addition to other weekly lessons that Lord Tywin gave to Tommen.
  
  She spied Margaery and her grandmother eyeing the boy king like two wolves would appraise a lost foal, and she felt a little pang of sorrow for Tommen, being King was too great a responsibility for his narrow shoulders and she wondered how he would cope.
  
  At least she knew he would pardon Robb and Edmure, along with all their banner men, he had said it to her a day ago when they had met in the gardens of the Red Keep. She had been out for a stroll and she had come across Tommen sitting rather dejectedly on a stone bench, Ser Jamie standing a few feet away.
  
  At his bidding she had sat and Tommen spoke to her, rambling about everything that seemed to be on his mind. Tommen was worried about what it meant to be King, and the terror of making poor decisions. At least this was something he was worried about, Joffrey she was sure never gave this a moment"s thought, if it had even occurred to him at all. She reassured Tommen that his grandfather was a very experienced Hand of the King and that he was more than willing to guide and teach him, and that he was still young and had much to learn. She could not help but smile a little inside at this, here she was comforting a King whose brother killed her father and whose grandfather was at once the enemy of her family and at the same time her betrothed.
  
  Tommen had also blushed deeply and said he was worried about his wedding to Margaery, fearing that he was too young and that he did not know what to do. Sansa had felt her ears redden at this and she had whispered to him that Ser Jamie would surely know about what he needed to do and as he was his squire he was sure to teach him. Tommen had reddened even further at this and he had spluttered a bit and thanked her.
  
  "So that traitorous wolf bastard and his floppy fish cousin are going to bend the knee eh? Cut off their heads I say, Tommen, your Grace, I say you should cut their heads off!!" slurred Cersei, breaking her train of thought.
  
  She could feel Lord Tywin stiffen beside her, his head turning slightly behind him "Ser Jamie, her Grace is feeling tired and emotional, no doubt the events of the day have become too much for her. Please see her to her room" he asked, his voice level and barely rising above a normal conversational tone.
  
  "I"m not tired!" Cersei slurred, leaning dramatically back and then forwards in her seat, the wine in the goblet she held in her right hand sloshing over its rim and spilling.
  
  Lord Tywin ignored her, simply saying "Ser Jamie."
  
  "Let me be!" Cersei screeched, trying to remove her arm from the grip that Ser Jamie now had upon it.
  
  "Grand Maester, her grace may need some assistance to sleep, please see to it" the Hand of the King raised his voice slightly to carry to Maester Braddock.
  
  "My Lord" he replied, standing up and giving the hand a bow, before he left his place and trailed after Ser Jamie and several Lannister guards who were escorting a shrieking and screaming Cersei from the room.
  
  Lord Tywin raised his hand slightly to gesture to a troupe of minstrels to start to play, they made their way out into the space between the tables and the High Table and they commenced to play, distracting and diverting the guests from what had just happened. Lord Tywin moved into the chair his daughter had just vacated, sitting beside the King.
  
  The minstrels finished their first song and she perked up at the first bars of the song, having never heard it before.
  
  She's got a smile it seems to me Reminds me of childhood memories Where everything Was as fresh as the bright blue sky
  Now and then when I see her face She takes me away to that special place And if I'd stare too long I'd probably break down and cry
  
  Oh, oh, oh Sweet child o' mine Oh, oh, oh, oh Sweet love of mine
  
  She's got eyes of the bluest skies As if they thought of rain I hate to look into those eyes And see an ounce of pain
  Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place Where as a child I'd hide And pray for the thunder And the rain To quietly pass me by
  
  Oh, oh, oh Sweet child o' mine
  Oh, oh, oh, oh Sweet love of mine
  
  Oh, oh, oh, oh Sweet child o' mine
  Oh, oh, oh, oh Sweet love of mine
  
  Oh, oh, oh, oh Sweet child o' mine
  
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  Tyrion XI
  
  He had to admire his father, younger men would not have maintained such an imposing bearing, nor looked as magnificent as his father did as he rode out to meet Robb Stark.
  
  Both armies were drawn up before each other, the Lannister forces, bolstered by Tyrell banner men outnumbered the Stark"s and Tully"s by maybe one and a half times, but the Lannister forces did have more Knights and many on the Lannister side were confident that should the come to blows, this would prove decisive.
  
  He knew his father hoped it would not come to that and that what was going to take place here was not a battle but a peace treaty, but overt displays of military force never hindered in assisting the defeated to come to terms.
  
  He was accompanying his father as he rode out from the Lannister lines, like his father he was dressed in armour, appropriately appointed for his status as a Lannister, and a war hero he mused. No mismatched plate and helm for him, no a smaller and slightly less ostentatious version of his father"s armour protected him. He was under no illusions though; he did not wear it well, like he was born to it, unlike his father.
  
  And he had not failed to notice the admiring glances that Lady Sansa had been making towards his father as they had rode north from Kings Landing, all resplendent in his crimson and gold Lannister armour.
  
  The little wolf girl obviously liked the, well, dashing figure that Lord Tywin cut, not that he could blame her, much as he hated to admit it his father radiated power, command, and utter self belief clad as he was in expensive plate.
  
  They had made swift progress up the Kings Road but when they got within five days ride of the warzone progress had slowed and the army had been much more cautious in its advance, throwing up what his father referred to as "marching camps" at every evenings halt. The Reach contingent had scoffed at this and refused to similarly defend their encampments, his father had not pressed the issue with them but he could tell he had little time for the Lordlings in command of the Reach contingent.
  
  Unlike the Lannister forces which were part professional in the form of the Red Cloaks and the rest were household troops of the various Lords of the Westerlands, and which were used to working together and in having a single, unified command structure, the command of the Reach forces seemed chaotic, fractured. They seemed to him to endlessly argue over precedence and order and minor points of stupidity, not least how their forces were organised for each day"s march, with heated arguments about the positioning of forces. And the arguments seemed not to rest on military matters such as size or composition of a force, no it seemed to Tyrion to be exclusively based on who one was and who one was related too
  
  He knew by the fact that Lord Tywin rarely dallied at the evening suppers to listen to the fools get into their cups that he had no time for them. Lady Sansa likewise retired early most evenings, and was her usual soul of tact and discretion; in fact she had even managed to attract several "admirers" from among the Lords of the Reach. He sighed, really, these Reach Lords were a confounded bunch of idiots mostly, and thankfully none had made any overt move regarding Lady Sansa. The twits knew that ostensibly Lady Sansa was being returned to her family, but yet some still persisted with their ridiculous attempts at secretly courting her.
  
  He fidgeted in his saddle a little bit, thankfully the Red Viper and the Dornish contingent had left after what was being called the Purple Wedding, and there had only been a modicum of trouble all round with the Dornish in general and Prince Oberyn in particular. Something he was eminently grateful for he had to admit, helped apparently by a meeting between his father and the Red Viper, the details of which he was not privy too.
  
  Anyway he put this from his mind, observing the approaching Northmen, but his mind would not be still, the last few Small Council meetings had been illustrative to say the least he mused. He had initially thought that his father had given too much power to the Tyrell"s in bringing three Reachmen onto the Small Council, but he now saw the wisdom, nay the genius of it. Mace Tyrell was an oaf of the first degree, utterly stupid and hopeless at playing the Game of Thrones, and so long as he ignored his mother"s advice he was an effective non entity. Paxtor Redwyne, recently arrived was competent but was kept far too busy with whipping the remnants of the Royal Fleet into shape to have time for plotting. And Randyl Tarley was a humourless authoritarian, who lacked any sort flexibility whatsoever, and who was as inept at the Game of Thrones as Mace Tyrell, but for different reasons.
  
  Tarley"s appointment as Lord Commander of the Gold Cloaks would keep him busy for several years and away from military command, and thus lessen his chance for more glory and by reflection upon the Tyrell"s.
  
  Yes, the Old Lion had seemed to gift House Tyrell much yet in reality he had given them little, something he was sure the Queen of Thorns would notice but which Mace seemed blithely unaware of.
  
  The investigations into Littlefinger"s multitudinous nefarious schemes and enterprises had turned up a host of fascinating surprises, actually copious amounts of coin and commercial paper really, most of which went promptly to his Lord Father as the holder of the vast bulk of the Iron Thrones debt. A nice little racket his father had going he chuckled to himself, along with a compliant King and a cowed Small Council, yes his father had managed to do quite well for himself. And now here came his future goodbrother to bend the knee, end the war and give his blessing for his father to marry his child bride....
  
  "I"ve noticed a few high born ladies from the Westerlands have arrived at court these last few days before we left...." Bronn drawled, not fooling him.
  
  "It is unlikely my Lord Father is considering them for your hand Ser Bronn, most likely they are prospective Ladies in Waiting for our dear Queen, she did after all dismiss the bulk of her previous retainers in a fit of anger. My lord father is sure to want loyal Westerlands Houses to provide suitable candidates for Ladies in Waiting for her Grace."
  
  "Still, fine looking lass"s they are, mostly blonde too....." Bronn said, somewhat wistfully.
  
  So it seemed that Ser Bronn just did not like golden coin but golden cunny also, but before he could ponder this more he drew himself up in his saddle as tall as he could as Robb Stark and his guard hove into speaking range. Alongside King Robb were Lords Umber and Glover, and about twenty mounted men fanned out beside and to the rear, sons of the North"s nobility. The boy King"s Direwolf also strode beside its master, as their horses caught the beasts scent they became skittish and threatened to bolt.
  
  "Lannister" Robb Stark said, only the slightest of growls in his voice, addressing his father.
  
  "Stark" his father replied, his voice even and despite his best efforts he felt a slight grin show on his face.
  
  His father said nothing else, letting the silence stretch out, the tension rising and rising as each man just stared at each other, a monumental battle of wills, neither one wanting to break it by being the first to speak or act. The Stark lad must have some set of stones on him, to face down his father like that, a young wolf confronting the Old Lion in a battle of wills.
  
  On and on the silence held, until Tyrion heard the soft sound of a horses hoofs, turning slightly he spied Lady Sansa, dressed in riding leathers astride a mare, trot up to place her horse between his father and the young wolf, but off to one side.
  
  Her arrival did little to alleviate the staring match between the two men until she called out "the words of House Stark are "Winter is Coming", do you your Grace, my Lord, intend to wait for its arrival here in this field?"
  
  Neither man reacted to this but Greatjon Umber let out a great guffawing laugh, this seemed to dissolve the tension and Robb Stark grinned a little bit, saying "the sooner we start, the sooner this will be over."
  
  Tyrion glanced at his father, who though his face was as stern and serious as ever, he knew his father was pleased at having "won" in his mind, if this was any omen for the coming talks, it was a bad one.
  
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  Sansa XIII
  
  Stepping back from the crushing three way embrace of Robb and her mother Sansa composed herself, it was so good to see them again, but so much was different, so much had changed. While joy filled her heart she knew that there was a deadly purpose to this meeting, that the lives of Robb and her mother would be decided in these next few hours.
  
  "Your Grace, mother" Sansa curtsied at Robb and her mother, they were meeting in the field between the two armies, as Lannister men were bust erecting a tent where the negotiations would be held. The tent was Lannister crimson of course, but it would have its sides removed so each side could look on and be assured that no treachery would take place. Robb"s guards and a contingent of Lannister knights glared at each other behind them but politely out of earshot.
  
  She still wore her riding leathers, with a cloak of grey wool lined with fur at the collar, the leathers were dark grey, almost black and plain enough looking, but they were very comfortable and warm. The weather had chilled noticeably as they had approached the Riverlands and she had been thankful of the leathers and her cloak. She had packed dresses with her, woollen ones cut for practicality as opposed to style or display, but there was something about how the leathers made her feel that she liked. And if she was honest she liked the odd glances that Lord Tywin sent her way when he thought she was not looking, it made her feel all warm and heavy, similar to how she felt when she let her gaze linger on the man who would be her husband.
  
  Lord Tywin cut a magnificent figure in his armour and cloak, tall, strong, handsome despite his age, but it was more than that she knew. The Old Lion radiated power, command, overwhelming presence, and she would have been happy to lose herself in this if given half a chance. All his commands were obeyed, nothing foolish or unnecessary uttered from his mouth, and his will was done by all who fell under his gaze.
  
  A part of her was terrified by this, wondering what it meant for her, the little wolf, another part triumphed that to be dominated by the Old Lion, reduced to an insubstantial shadow beside him was a just punishment for her. But sometimes alone in her tent other, dangerous thoughts filled her mind, hot, carnal thoughts, the illustrations in the Lyseni pillow book flashing before her mind"s eye, imagining Lord Tywin doing those things to her.
  
  "Sansa, there is no need to be so formal, I"m your brother" Robb replied, something chasing across his face, wistfulness maybe, also sadness she was sure, his words bringing her back to the present. Like Lord Tywin Rob was dressed in armour, northern partial plate.
  
  "Your brother is right Sansa, we are your family, there is no need to act so reserved around us" stated her mother, worry on her face.
  "Courtisies are a lady"s armour mother, is that not what you told me?" she asked, her voice emotionless and her face a polite mask.
  
  
  Her mother looked sharply at her before hiding her annoyance and something else that Sansa could not quite discern, as her mother and Robb looked at her closely, like they were truly seeing her for the first time.
  
  Now was when she would weigh and balance her future and that of her family, and work to make sure all got the maximum advantage from what was being offered.
  
  Lord Tywin had taken her aside that morning and had a talk with her, indicating that he would allow her to have a brief amount of "private" time to talk with her family before the negotiations would begin proper.
  
  Both Robb and her mother looked ill at ease with her she realised, with her attitude and probably with her garb she mused, she probably reminded them of Arya.
  
  "Sansa..." her mother began, seeming to run out of words with just announcing her name, her face looking stricken with loss and fear.
  
  "Mother?" she replied, not letting any emotion leak into her voice.
  
  "You, you....how are you Sansa? How are you feeling?" Catelyn eventually managed to say, Robb looking on with a pained expression on his face.
  
  "I am well mother; I have no complaints about anything."
  
  "We, we heard about, about what Joffrey did....." Catelyn spat, barely getting the words past her anger, her face twisting in hatred.
  
  "Yes, he beat me and humiliated me, leaving scars on me, on my soul and on my flesh, scars that will never heal mother. But I deserved it mother; I deserved the lashes and the abuse mother..."
  
  "No! Don"t say that child, never say that!" Catelyn begged her, tears forming in her eyes.
  
  "I did mother, for I was a traitor."
  
  "You were not!" interjected Robb, his fists curling and anger flushing his face.
  
  She turned to her brother and said in a level voice, using all of her self control to keep her voice from breaking "I was a traitor your Grace, not against the Iron Throne, no for I betrayed my father, it was I who told the Queen that father was planning to act against her. It was I who enabled Cersei to act against Lord Stark and kill all the Stark Household in Kings Landing, and ultimately it was my betrayal that led to the death of Lord Stark, my father. So yes, I am a traitor and I deserve all that has happened to me and all that is about to happen."
  
  Silence reigned for several moments, the looks of horror and despair on her mother"s face barely touched her soul, nor did the anger twisting her brother"s face.
  
  "Sansa, you were young, foolish..." her mother tried to say but she cut her off mercilessly.
  
  "Yes I was, stupid and foolish because you and Septa Mordane filled my head with fantasy tales of Knights, ladies, chivalry, balls and handsome princes. You never told me tales of power, betrayal, lies and horror mother, and Septa Mordane certainly did not tell me of how this world really works. You tried to protect me mother, I know that, but all you did was make me weak, helpless, foolish, and I barely survived the snake pit that is Kings Landing after father was killed by my stupidity. But I survived, and I learned mother, absorbing the lessons that neither you nor Septa Mordane could, or would teach me, I learned about the Game of Thrones and what it takes to play it..."
  
  "My, my poor baby" sobbed Catelyn "what has happened to you...."
  
  "I died mother, I died the day they took my father"s head, I am not the girl who left Winterfell with a head full of nonsense."
  "No" whispered Robb "You are not that girl anymore...."
  
  
  "No your Grace, I am not. When you raised your banners at the news of our father"s death, what were your war aims?"
  
  "War aims?" he asked, his face showing confusion.
  
  "What were the things that you wanted to accomplish? What were your goals?" she replied, holding her brothers eyes, so like her own in their pale Tully blue.
  
  "I, I don"t know, avenge father I suppose....."
  
  "And beyond that, what were the things you needed to do to ensure you won both the war and the peace afterwards?"
  
  "What?"
  
  "Robb, your sister might be talking but those are the words of Tywin Lannister!" Catelyn spat, anger replacing sorrow in an instant.
  
  "I have learned a great many things from the Old Lion mother, but I speak for myself here, and for the good of my family. I am a Stark, and I speak to you as Starks."
  
  "You want to be a Lannister!" screeched Catelyn, before lowering her voice "Sansa, what is this nonsense about marrying Lord Tywin?"
  
  "I am still a Stark mother, Lord Tywin has not cloaked me in Lannister gold just yet, like any proper perspective groom he awaits the approval of my oldest male relative, in this case his Grace King Robb" she turned to face her brother fully "You wanted vengeance for father, well King Joffrey is dead, Lord Tywin will give you back father"s bones and Ice, and will let all of you keep your old titles and your heads, what more could you possibly want?"
  
  "Sansa....." her mother interrupted with a note of pleading in her voice "we want you to come back north with us, to Winterfell, home...."
  
  "Home mother? To a home currently occupied by the Iron Born, and in all likelihood I won"t return to Winterfell and find it my home, no, I will be married off to a Lord the moment I cross over into the Riverlands, or at least be betrothed."
  
  "There have been many offers for your hand sister" replied Robb "from as far even as Dorne. The Lady you are now would be a great addition to any house who won your hand."
  
  "Won my hand your Grace? Surely you mean who you and mother decided gave the most advantage to House Stark?" she replied coolly, noticing something twist and dart in the depths of her brothers eyes.
  
  "You cannot be serious about this, this marriage to Lord Tywin?" Robb countered, the words said through slightly gritted teeth.
  
  "I am" she said, her voice even and her face serene.
  
  "Why?" Robb gasped "he, he"s older than even father was, he"s a monster, he"s a Lannister!" the last bit was hissed in rage.
  
  "Your Grace, Lord Tywin Lannister reached out to you to end this war on favourable terms, very favourable terms to the North, the only thing he really wanted was the return of his son in exchange for me. And yet Ser Jamie was released from captivity by mother"s orders and ended up back in Kings Landing a few moons ago. So that left you without anything to bargain for, and yet Lord Tywin still was willing to treat with you, still honoured the original terms of the peace he wished to broker with you. The Hand of the King is offering you a way out of this war, with honour your Grace, some would even say that Lord Tywin has gone soft, that his child bride has turned his head, persuaded him to offer a scandalous level of clemency to you as rebels. And yet I had no hand in any of this your Grace, but I do know one thing brother, Lord Tywin is not a man to be crossed, allow this marriage and you guarantee the strength of the North with a steadfast ally, reject the Lord Hand and gain for yourself an implacable enemy."
  
  "Sansa, please" her mother asked "you, you don"t have to do this, surely Lord Tywin can be negotiated with, hostages exchanged, you, you don"t have to, to marry....him..."
  
  "I do, and not for the reasons you think mother. In marrying Lord Tywin I will continue the penance that I must undertake for being a traitor to my family. I must atone for my sins, what better way is there than this? And I will marry him because I choose him, I choose the Old Lion as a free and willing woman, precisely because he will give me what I need."
  
  "What do you need Sansa?" asked Robb, his eyes cold and serious.
  
  "I need security your Grace, I need to know that no one can ever threaten or hurt me again."
  
  "The North can give you that Sansa, come home with us, marry a good northern Lord, give up this, this fantasy of marrying Lord Tywin!" exclaimed her mother, exasperated.
  
  "Neither of you understand do you? The Rains of Castamere should be warning enough, Lord Tywin is not a man to be denied or crossed, should you not acquiesce to his wishes none of us will live to see the North again, ever."
  
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  Robb II
  
  Accompanied by Lord Edmure Tully, Lord Glover and the Blackfish, and with a contingent of northern Men at Arms, along with Grey Wind trotting at his side Robb strode out to where the great, crimson tent of the Lannister"s was pitched between the two armies. There were no walls to the tent, just a wooden floor and the roof above, it would be chilly he knew, thankful of the fact that he was wearing his usual armour and with a wolf pelt cloak around his shoulders. As he neared he noticed that around the table there were several lit braziers filled with charcoal, which would provide some warmth but no protection to the autumnal breezes.
  
  Entering under the roof of the tent bread and salt was offered and partaken of, before the men sat, Lord Tywin had his dwarfish son with him, no one else accompanied the Old Lion. The Lannister Lords were dressed in their best armour, the set Lord Tyrion wore looked frankly comical on his misshapen form, but Rob refrained from saying anything. The Imp had apparently fought bravely at the battle of the Blackwater and bore the scars proudly of it, so no craven was the littlest son of Lord Tywin Lannister.
  
  For some reason Sansa came to his mind......his sister was not the little girl he remembered leaving Winterfell all full of silly ideas about her Golden prince and being Queen, no, Sansa had the truth of it, that girl was dead alright. And in its place someone he scarce knew, a Lady alright, no doubt about that, but one almost as cold as a northern winter and one well versed in the duplicity and lies of the south. He hated that his sister had become this, this twisted thing, hated the reasons why it happened, wished more than anything that none of this had happened. If only that fat useless King who claimed to be his father"s best friend had never ridden North with idiotic notions in his wine soaked brain.
  
  But he was here as a King, though he would soon be the second Stark who knelt, and to a fucking Lannister of all people, hah Tommen may have the name Baratheon but he was nothing but a bastard born of incest. And he would have to knell to that, he would have to give up his crown for a lie, dishonour his father"s memory, his father"s honour?
  
  Bile burned his throat at these thoughts, and he nearly turned on his heel then and there, but he stayed himself, for that way would lead to a grinding war with only inevitable defeat for the North and the Riverlands. And his uncle Edmure, Lord of the Riverlands had made it clear that he was willing to take Tywin Lannister"s terms even if Robb did not.
  
  So it appeared that he had no choice in the matter, so that everything he had fought for, all the good Northern men who lay in graves all across the Riverlands had died for nothing. Never mind what now appeared to be cowardice or bloody treachery on the part of the Freys, they had removed their forces from his Army, stating boldly that as he was an oath breaker they could no longer serve under him! Hah! The Freys accusing him of oath breaking, he had not broken his oath, for he had made none, he had only yet to fulfil the oath his mother had made on his behalf, or so he told himself.
  After the bread and salt were taken and the platter removed by a servant they sat at a large table, Lord Tywin at its head, his son Tyrion opposite him at its base, he and Lord Glover to the Hand"s right and the Tully"s to his left. A jug of well watered wine and several cups sat in the middle of the table, along with a plate of freshly baked loaves of bread, and slices of cheese and cooked meats, though nobody made any move towards either the drink or the food.
  
  Grey Wind had sat down on his haunches just outside the tent, across from where he sat and directly in his line of vision, the great Direwolves eyes fixed on him, and Robb felt comfortable with such familiar scrutiny.
  
  The dwarf opened the proceedings "Thank you all for attending, his Grace King Tommen is most pleased that you your Grace" here Tyrion nodded at him "and Lord Edmure have accepted the initial terms for commencing discussions for ending this unfortunate war between the Iron Throne and yourselves."
  
  Robb just nodded fractionally at the dwarf, who had not said anything of substance so he awaited the real talking to start. What was it Smalljon Umber had said? Oh yes, he was to watch out for "honeyed words and promises from these perfumed southern Lords, because before you know it you"d be bent over, bags down and getting buggered!"
  
  "You know the broad outlines of the settlement, we are here to discuss certain details and the fact that events and circumstances have moved on since the offer was made" said Lord Tywin, his voice low but nevertheless commanding, the voice of a man you listened to and obeyed.
  Neither he nor Lord Edmure said anything in response, good that Edmure was holding his tongue, no doubt the Blackfish had instructed him to keep his mouth shut and his ears open, or at least he hoped he had.
  
  Lord Tyrion continued "Originally a factor in these negotiations was to have been the release of Ser Jamie in return for Lady Sansa, however with Ser Jamie"s escape from captivity this is a moot point."
  
  "And Lady Sansa, my sister, what of her status as she is no longer to be traded for Ser Jamie?" Robb asked, finally deciding to speak. Yes his sister, the self confessed traitor, he was still unsure of how he felt about what Sansa had admitted to, and what to do about it.
  
  "Lady Sansa has requested my hand in marriage, an unconventional request I grant you, and I was waiting for your approval as her oldest male relative before acquiescing to her request" the Old Lion rumbled from his chair, his eyes boring into his as they held each other"s gaze.
  
  "Before the matter of my sister"s hand in marriage is decided I would like to settle all the other matters to our satisfaction" he replied, not giving the Old Lion an inch, not backing down one bit. Oh he knew he would probably have to agree to whatever was being proposed here but fuck the Old Lion, he could wait for his approval to wed his sister.
  
  "All substantive matters as outlined in our discussions still stand - all Lords of the Riverlands and the North retain their titles and positions, King Robb Stark will bend the knee to his Grace King Tommen and surrender his crown, in return he will be confirmed as the Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. The borders of both Kingdoms will remain as they were prior to the outbreak of hostilities, no reprisals or vengeance shall be sought or condoned by any party. All normal feudal obligations and liens between the North, the Riverlands and the Iron Throne will be resumed in full" said Lord Tyrion, attention moving from his father to him. "In addition the Iron Throne will make available low interest loans to the value of one million gold dragons to the Riverlands to repair damages done during the war and three thousand Red Cloaks and two hundred knights will be placed under the command of Lord Robb Stark as Warden of the North to assist in expelling the Iron Born from the North."
  
  "I agree to these terms" interjected Edmure, his voice far too eager to Robb"s mind, and if the look of slight distaste on the Blackfish"s face, to him also.
  
  "Your Grace?" asked Tywin Lannister, damm Edmure for his stupidity and loose mouth! Did he really have a choice though? No he supposed not, and it was not like these terms were odious or imposed any burden on the North.
  
  But, but he had to say his piece, he was not going to surrender to this Lannister bastard without a fight, and if this doomed him, then so be it.
  
  "You would ask me to bend the knee to a bastard? To a bastard born of vile incest? Well Lannister?" he asked, his blue Tully eye"s glaring into the gold flecked green of the Old Lion.
  
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  Tyrion XII
  
  He tried not to let his mouth hang open, the boy was as much an idiot as his father, the oh so honourable Ned Stark. To think the lad believes he can berate his father like this, to his face, and during what were supposed to be negotiations to settle the war on reasonably agreeable terms? Actually ridiculously generous terms he knew, terms that were sure to cause considerable grumbling among his father"s bannermen, well apart from Lord Lefford, but how and ever.
  
  So it looked like his father"s children by Sansa would be inheriting Winterfell after all, no doubt what his father had planned all along he thought bitterly. And Casterly rock, he held no illusions about this either, the moment his father had told him about his marriage to Sansa Stark he knew that Casterly rock was forever beyond him, something that had wounded him more than he thought it would. In fact so wounded had he been that he had pondered what to do about this latest, and most terrible slight against him by his father. He had thought long and hard but had ultimately come to the decision, however distasteful, that he had little real choice in the matter. His father was the true power behind the Lannister"s, never mind their gold and armies, it was the sheer force of will of the Old Lion that gave them their power, and right now, or even in the future it would be against his long term interests to challenge or work against Tywin. The recent rapprochement between them had been a factor in his deliberations yes, and he would be lying if he said he did not relish being Master of Coin with his father as Hand, the power he now wielded, by his own hand and as someone in the favour of Lord Tywin was, was heady, and he liked it.
  
  "You will bend the knee to the rightful king of the Seven Kingdoms, Tommen Baratheon or you will be destroyed, the Stark name and its words consigned to the ash heap of history boy, those are your options. And before you make your choice, I would bid you consider the following items?" growled his father, not letting the Stark boy answer he continued "Firstly, on the matter of parentage and familial looks Cersei did bear Robert a dark haired and blue eyed child, the babe, a boy, unfortunately expired after only several hours of life. Secondly, and relating to the look of Robert"s children by her Grace, you and your sister Lady Sansa share the look and colouring of your mother"s side, by the reckoning that called King Joffrey a bastard and now seeks to slur his Grace Tommen with the same epithet then your father would be Lord Edmure, or maybe even Ser Brynden?"
  
  Robb pushed his chair back and jumped to his feet, anger radiating from him in waves, about to say something he would most likely regret for the rest of his soon to be drastically shortened life.
  
  "SIT!" exclaimed the Blackfish, his voice commanding "Sit your Grace, sit, please..." his uncle"s outburst deflecting anything Robb Stark might have been wont to say in the heat of the moment.
  
  Robb sat back down again reluctantly, glaring at his father with undisguised hatred and anger.
  
  "Your younger sister Arya and Lord Eddard"s bastard Jon Snow favour the Stark side in their looks, how the blood shows through is never a sure thing. Are you prepared to stake everything on this, like your mother staked the future of the Stark"s on a letter from Lysa Arryn, which was dictated by Lord Baelish, a letter solely designed to further his own ends. Lord Baelish got your aunt to blame the Lannister"s for the death of Lord Arryn, when it was actually Lady Lysa who poisoned her husband at the behest of Lord Baelish.
  
  "Outrageous!" shouted the Blackfish "that is an outrageous accusation Lord Tywin!"
  
  "And yet it is no accusation is it Ser Bryden? You know your brother poured Moon Tea down Lysa"s throat when she was pregnant with Baelish"s bastard before she wed Lord Arryn....."
  
  The Blackfish held his father"s gaze relentlessly, daring the older Tully to refute his father"s accusations, but the Blackfish said nothing so his father continued "Lysa Arryn continued to be enamoured of Lord Baelish and conspired with him to murder her husband and blame it on my children, can her neutrality in this war be anything else than as a result of the honeyed words of Lord Baelish?"
  
  "How so?" asked the young King, genuine interest on his face mixed in with anger, he noticed that the Blackfish seemed to be holding control of himself by only the greatest of willpower.
  
  "Lord Baelish never forgave Brandon Stark for taking his one, true love Catelyn Tully away from him, hence why he fought that idiotic duel, and nearly died for his troubles. But whereas this would be a lesson most men would have been glad to have been allowed to learn, Baelish instead converted his humiliation into a burning hatred to destroy House Stark. He wanted your mother your Grace, and gladly betrayed your father in Kings Landing, holding a dagger himself to your father"s throat. But by this stage Baelish had transferred his desires from your mother to your sister Lady Sansa; he had intended to flee Kings Landing after murdering King Joffrey with Lady Sansa."
  
  "A fantastical tale Lord Tywin, you cannot mean for us to believe it?" queried the Blackfish, his face red with anger.
  
  "I have most of this from the mouth of Littlefinger himself, he sang as sweetly as the mockingbird that he took as his sigil. It is on his signed confession; a copy of which I have with me should any of you care to read it. It is the very "fantastical" nature of the tale actually lends his confession credence, we did not question him on this, he volunteered all of it, we had him dead to rights for King Joffrey"s murder. So he sang to us of all his other "accomplishments" to spite us, the least of which was embezzling a veritable fortune from the Iron Throne."
  
  "How much?" asked Robb Stark, before anyone else could.
  
  "Lord Tyrion as Master of Coin is still investigating but we believe upwards of three million gold dragons" answered his father, his voice as matter of fact as if he was discussing a sum one thousandth of that before he returned to the subject at hand.
  "Thirdly the Tyrell"s were more than willing enough to wed Margaery to Joffrey, and to now wed her to Tommen, do you think they would consent to wed their Rose of Highgarden to bastards?"
  
  "The Tyrell"s are grasping former stewards, they would do anything to get ahead in the Game of Thrones, they wed Margaery to Renly, a sword swallower...." remarked the Blackfish deadpan.
  
  This seemed to dissolve the tension somewhat, until Robb Stark eventually stated "I, I find these revelations about my Aunt Lysa.....distressing...."
  
  "Your mother kidnapped my son Tyrion on the basis of your Aunt"s lies....the cut throat hired to kill Bran? He was hired by Joffrey and provided with a Valyrian Steel dagger that Joffrey had pilfered from the Royal Armoury, it was not my son"s, like Lord Baelish told you all" his father admitted, his voice calm and his gaze steady.
  
  An interesting ploy Tyrion mused, clever, but dangerous, let us see how the boy King reacts shall we?
  
  "You, you admit this?" choked Robb out after a few seconds of incredulous looks passing over his face.
  
  "Willingly your Grace, but Joffrey is dead, his act of executing your father has been declared null and void, as are the charges against Lord Stark of treason. Joffery was never the King, he usurped the Regency of the Lord Hand that was both his father"s will and the legal requirement in the event of Robert"s death before Joffrey attained his majority. As such all laws, decree"s and rulings promulgated by Joffrey are thus without effect" at this the Lord Hand passed a scroll to King Robb, as the Stark boy read it his father continued "that absolves your father of any and all accusations put to him, and nullifies his confession, as it was extracted upon the basis of a false premise. Your fathers bones will be returned to you, as will the Stark"s ancestral sword Ice. Bend the knee, end this senseless war; end it with what little honour we both can extract from it."
  
  Robb glanced up at Lord Tywin from the parchment before him, then glanced at Lord Glover, who gave a small nod. Turning his gaze to Lord Edmure and ser Brynden the two Tully"s gave equally small nods of assent. Though the Blackfish looked none too pleased with everything he had just heard Tyrion noted.
  
  "I agree" Robb announced curtly.
  
  "Splendid" beamed Tyrion "now to other matters, the issue of marriages and alliances to assist in securing the peace."
  
  "Yours also Tyrion" announced his father, that horrid smile of his threatening to appear on his face.
  
  "Oh great" he said to himself.
  
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  Sansa XIV
  
  She had been assigned her own tent among the Lannister encampment, with Breyna and Fiyona to accompany her on this journey north, and she sat waiting in the tent, a blanket wrapped around her as she read. Not that scandalous book Lady Genna had given her, no that was safely back in Kings Landing, locked away and hidden, but a tome on the economy and commerce of the Westerlands. The book focused on the seaborne trade of the Westerlands and detailed the numbers of ships, their cargo"s and routes, and the values of the goods shipped, she had also packed some other tomes, histories of the Westerlands and the lineages of the Houses that owed fealty to Casterly Rock.
  
  After meeting her brother and mother she had retreated to the tent and waited, there was little for her to do, she was not allowed to wander over to the northern encampment and would be unlikely to be let do so until after the deal was signed. And if the deal was signed she would be formally betrothed to Tywin Lannister, the Old Lion, and she doubted that he would wait long before wedding her, and bedding her a little treasonous voice in her head whispered. The same voice replaced the "if" with "when" in relation to the deal, mayhaps wishful thinking on her part, but her brother Robb was not a fool, surely he knew what was arrayed against him, that he could not hope to resist the might of the Old Lion now, especially with the Reach behind him?
  
  The, the bedding, her mind turned to consider this, though she knew courtesy of Lady Genna and the book that she had loaned her, what actually happened.....it was still a different matter to actually contemplate, well, doing it.... And even stranger was the fact that a part of her was looking forwards to it, to being married, to no longer being a maid.
  
  Never mind that she would be a Lady of a Great House, and that she would have the respect and power that came with such a station, never mind that she would be the wife of the Old Lion, arguably the most powerful man in all the Seven Kingdoms.
  
  No, there had been a growing feeling, concentrated low in her belly, a languid heat that manifested itself whenever she was in the presence of Lord Tywin, that sent an unfamiliar, aching desire through her. Astride his horse, resplendent in his armour, he was every inch the powerful, noble Lord, and while maybe not every maiden"s dream, he was certainly enough for her. She, she wanted the Old Lion, she wanted him to desire her, she wanted him to do those things she had read about, seen illustrations of. The book Lady Genna had given her spoke only of pleasure and enjoyment, it never once mentioned duty or submitting, or pain, no it described a very different experience than Septa Mordane, or her mother, had spoken about in rushed, embarrassed tones.
  
  And even if what her mother and Septa had said was the truth, and that the Lyseni pillow book was just a tissue of lies? It did not matter, she would do her duty, and it would be just another part of her atoning for betraying her father and her family.
  
  Her daydreaming was interrupted by one of her guards poking his head into the tent and announcing the Peace Treaty between the North, the Riverlands and the Iron Throne was due to be signed shortly, and that her presence was requested by Lord Tywin.
  
  When the guard ducked back out she glanced at her Ladies in Waiting, who were already in motion, opening a chest and rummaging about, before pulling out the dress she wanted. It was a grey dress, northern looking, but made from the finest wool and linen, embroidered across the chest were two snarling Direwolf heads. Rather than being styled in the rather plain and shapeless northern design, it was much more southern in its cut, it hugged her body more closely than a northern style gown would. Over it was an outer dress, of a slightly paler grey, patterned with leaping wolves, which was clasped shut with two golden fastenings at the front.
  
  Once dressed she had her hair done up, in a coiled braid at the back of her head, pinned up into a bun, she examined herself in the small mirror that Fiyona held up for her she nodded with satisfaction, this was the look she wanted. Northern, but with just enough of a hint of southern style to show she was no longer the innocent girl who left Winterfell, but a maiden on the cusp of womanhood and marriage.
  
  She had Fiyona tell the guards that she was ready and soon afterwards she stepped from her tent to be escorted to the tent set up between the two armies. Surrounded by Lannister Red Cloaks she noticed the glances of some of the Knights and Lords who were gathered, some neutral, but not an inconsiderable number of them ranging from annoyed to concerned. So the secret of her betrothal must be out she mused, so she kept her face a mask of indifference as she passed through the earthen and low wooden stake wall that surrounded the Lannister Camp and made her way to the tent without sidewalls that was set in the field between the two armies.
  
  All of the great Lords on either side were present, most in military garb, and at the table three chairs were set, before each chair was a large parchment, quills, inkwells and three pots of wax on stands above lighted candles.
  
  Her mother was also present, looking sour and annoyed she thought, her brother looked pensive, Lord Edmure looked happy, japing with Lord Tyrion. Above all of them stood the Old Lion, looking neither pleased nor displeased, just dominating the space like he always did, no one could mistake who was the real power in this gathering. Nor could anyone doubt who was the real victor here, Lord Tywin had gotten what he wanted, and most likely all of it, she risked a glance at him, his eyes softened for a second when they met hers, a shiver thrilled its way down her spine, Robb had agreed for her to be wed to the old Lion!
  
  Once everyone was present the ceremony began, Lord Tywin, Robb and Lord Edmure sat and signed each document, affixing their seals also. With this complete handshakes and congratulations were had all round, servants passed through the crowd with cups of wine, Lord Tywin beckoned to her and she complied, moving to stand beside the Old Lion.
  
  She noticed her mother"s eyes flash in anger at this, but she ignored them, instead giving the required curtsy and greeting to Tywin and her brother, who stood beside Lord Tywin, avoiding meeting her gaze.
  
  "Lady Sansa" growled the Old Lion, his voice deep and rumbling, setting off little shivers in her tummy "your Lord brother has agreed to allow me your hand in marriage, can I assume that you still are desirous of our union?"
  
  "Yes my Lord" she replied coolly, noticing that nothing stirred in Lord Tywin"s eyes at this, they remained icily unmoved.
  
  "Very well" he replied, making a motion with his hand to summon a servant to his side, who passed a small item in a leather pouch to him. Turning more fully to her he pulled out a gold ring, set with a ruby and he gestured for her to hold out her left hand, once she did so he took her hand in one of his rough, huge hands and gently slipped the ring onto her ring finger. It felt heavy on her finger, but it fit perfectly, somehow unsurprised by this, as Tywin gave her a sudden smile that lit his eyes.
  
  Turning slightly away from her he called for attention to the gathering, the Westerlands contingent falling silent almost instantly, the Northern and Riverlands next and finally some the Reach Lords, who had to be glared into silence by her betrothed. Her betrothed, Sansa mulled that over in her mind, deciding that she liked the sound of it, and unconsciously she moved to stand at Tywin"s right hand side, as was proper.
  
  "My lords and Ladies, today has been a historic day, the North and the Riverlands have agreed to lay down their arms and be welcomed back into the fold of the Seven Kingdoms once more. And to cement that the Lords of Winterfell and Riverrun have agreed to marry the daughter"s of Lord Stafford Lannister, to ensure that no violence or unnecessary bloodshed will mar the peace we have signed today. My youngest son, Lord Tyrion, will marry a Frey daughter; this has been agreed with Lord Frey as dissolving the obligation Lady Catelyn placed on Lord Robb to marry a Frey daughter. But I have one more announcement regarding marriages, Lord Robb has agreed to my suite for the hand of Lady Sansa Stark. Please raise your glasses to the next lady of Casterly rock, Lady Sansa!"
  
  "Lady Sansa!" came the response from the mass of men, and Sansa, with a smile on her face, scanned the crowd to discern how each of them truly felt at this news.
  
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  Tyrion XIII
  
  Tyrion swayed a little in his saddle, huddling deeper into his oil skins, thanking again the Gods that his father had the foresight to bring one of these waterproof garments for him.
  
  They were trudging south along the Kings Road, a sodden downpour having accompanied them for the last three days, considerably dampening everyone spirits, along with their clothing and tents. At least they were on the Kingsroad proper, eighteen feet wide and paved so they did not have to trudge over mud tracks or even across open country.
  
  After the feast on the evening of the signing of the treaty the two armies had separated the next morning, the Northern host retreating northwards to encamp north of the Red River and await Lord Robb"s return from Kings Landing. The Riverlands forces had dispersed to head back to their various lands and keeps, with signed and sealed letters to ensure that any Lannister or Reach forces that had not gotten the word did not make trouble for them. The forces of the Iron Throne were marching southwards, but with two thousand Northerners and Riverlanders escorting their Lords south to their impending nuptials in the capital.
  
  And his wedding he thought sourly, and to a godsdammed Frey no more no less.....He risked a glance at his father a few yards ahead of him, though cloaked in an oilskin he was sitting as upright and proud as ever, not deigning to let the weather impact his bearing. Damm Tywin Lannister for making him be the one to have to suffer for Catelyn Stark"s stupidity, what was that daft woman thinking of making marriage alliances with Walder Frey! The old stoat of the crossing should have been warned that he and his warren of ferrets would have been slaughtered to the last if they had barred her son and his host passage. Robb Stark had been coming south to link up with the forces of House Tully, the Liege Lords of House Frey, Walder"s behaviour towards the Starks was an act of stupidity that no banner man of his father would ever make, well not after the Rains of Castamere anyway...
  
  Letting his horse fall back a little he fell in among the party around Robb Stark, who looked as sullen as the weather he thought, the former boy king was fast adopting the mantle of his late Lord father, in that he appeared to be dour and unsmiling all the time.
  
  "Foul weather my Lord!" he announced as he came alongside Robb stark, his Direwolf absent for once, probably off hunting somewhere, probably.
  
  Taking a flask from under his oil skins he waved it at Lord Stark "this will warm you up my Lord, good apple brandy from the Reach, heartwarming stuff!"
  
  Robb only hesitated for a second before reaching out his hand and accepting the flask from him, the young Stark pulled out the cork, took a sniff and then a tentative swig, only coughing slightly as the strongly flavoured liquid burned down his throat.
  
  "Will have a nice fire in your belly in no time!" he grinned at the Stark, who took another swig before handing him back the flask, Tyrion imbibed a good mouthful of the stuff himself, before he tucked it away, feeling a pleasant warmth spread through his belly.
  
  "Almost as good as a woman to chase away this damp cold!" he quipped, noticing the Stark boy wince at this, ah ha, as he thought.
  
  "You do not look like a man who is looking forwards to his wedding, if I may be as bold to say...."
  
  "Every time I will look at my wife I will remember I was beaten, defeated Lannister, that I lost a war, that in the end I achieved nothing but to shackle my lands to the family that killed my father. So no, you could say that I am not looking forwards to my wedding....."
  
  "Or, you could look at it that you gained the most you possibly could and quit with your head still attached to your shoulders. You got your family title and responsibilities back, with trivial cost and gained for yourself a beautiful young bride, whose family happens to be the richest and most powerful in all the Seven Kingdoms, I"d say you have not done too bad for yourself?"
  
  "That trivial cost was my sisters hand Lannister, your family now has its fists wrapped around the throat of the North, the Riverlands and the Iron Throne, I"d say you Lannister"s have the best of this bargain."
  
  "You were losing the war, how long could you have held out for, especially with the Reach now against you my Lord? You did the right thing for your people, as a King should."
  
  "I"m the second Stark who kneeled, seems we are making a habit of it."
  
  "Better to kneel than be dead, and my father, while not a good man, does believe in something that is of prime importance here Lord Stark, namely that once a man kneels to him it is his duty to help that man back to his feet. You have been given troops to help expel the Iron Born from the North; you can expect Lannister coin to flow into the North to help rebuild it once this is all over."
  
  "Like those "interest free loans" promised to the Riverlands by the Iron Throne? Which I thought was bankrupt, due to the actions of Lord Baelish?"
  
  "I am Master of Coin, and yes the crown"s finances are in a rather perilous state, but where do you think the coin for those "loans" will come from Lord Stark? And the coin to rebuild the North, well you can be assured that Lord Tywin will want the North rebuilt as soon as possible and to do that, well, let us just say that that my Lord father is willing to extend even more generous terms to you than will be extended to Lord Edmure."
  
  His father had planned this with him on the journey north to the meeting, the gold of the Westerlands was going to be used to sweeten the deal with the rebels, warm gold cunny for Edmure and Robb to burry themselves into, and gold coin to rebuild their lands after the ravages of war.
  
  "And you Lannister, marrying a Frey, to "forgive" my mother"s stupidity?" asked Robb, a wry smile on his face, obviously glad to have escaped that particular furry trap.
  
  "Aye, well, one must do one"s duty and all that" he replied, trying to keep his voice light despite his anger.
  
  His father had hated the Frey"s ever since his father Tytos had married off his sister Genna to one of the weasel"s sons. Was this his father pissing on him once again? The equivalent of putting him in charge of the drains of Casterly rock all over again? He could not fathom his father"s actions in this regard, was it that the Old Lion now had a new wife to breed heirs from that he did not care for him anymore?
  
  Speaking of his new mother by law, Sansa was riding up beside his father, the girl had scarce left his father side since the announcement of their betrothal, except to sleep in her own tent of course, he could not see the Old Lion abandoning all propriety just because he now had some young flame haired cunny fawning over him.
  
  At the feast held to celebrate the signing of the peace treaty Sansa had sat at his father"s left, with Robb at his right and Sansa had been the very model of a Great Lady as his father"s banner men had come to pay their respects and wish the happy couple a long and fruitful life together. Any of them who were unhappy with the arrangement were smart enough, or sober enough, to keep their real thoughts to themselves. There would be quite a few annoyed Lord fathers of unwed maidens in this very tent because of this he knew, but he doubted any would make more than the quietest fuss, or most likely no fuss at all.
  
  The Northern Lords congratulating Lady Sansa had passed off without incident, only Greatjon Umber making any sort of a scene, but even that was mild, the drunken oaf asking to arm wrestle with his Lord father, who politely declined the offer.
  
  It was predictably a Reach Knight, whose sigil he did not recognise, who caused the most stir, commending Lord Tywin on his "delectable flame haired little wolf cub" all the while openly leering at Sansa, before loudly announcing that he was greatly looking forwards to the bedding ceremony.
  
  His father"s eyes had locked with the drunken fool"s, spearing him with his gaze like a fisherman would an unfortunate fish, as all conversation and revelry died in a few spasms of noise as every head turned to the high table. The musicians let their music die with a sudden abruptness that was as jarring as the idiot knights shouted promise.
  
  His father reached out with his left hand and placed a massive paw over Lady Sansa"s tiny, white hand, with his other hand he made a gesture towards the musicians, the first bars of the "Rains of Castamere" floated through the silent feasting tent, the Reach knight having suddenly gone as pale as milk and his face twisted in terror.
  
  "There will be no bedding ceremony" his father announced as if he was talking about how many bushels of wheat per acre he could expect from the demesne of Casterly rock. The Reach knight bobbed his head up and down frantically, seemingly having lost the power of speech and with a start he fled the tent.
  
  His father flicked a hand at the musicians had they halted the dire dirge and started playing something more upbeat, and Sansa Stark had looked up into his father"s eyes, her huge blue orbs shining with love.
  
  He dragged his mind back to the present and the sullen rain sodden skies and land "apparently my aunt, the Lady Genna has picked a fair maiden suitable for my hand" he added, unable to let a certain amount of moroseness creep into his voice.
  
  Greatjon Umber, who was accompanying Lord Stark"s party let out a roaring laugh at this "if she"s half the size of Roose Bolton"s Frey wife she will crush you to death on your wedding night!"
  
  Laughter burst out all round as Tyrion stewed but did not let it show on his face, damm his father and damm him to the seven hells for being such a colossal cunt!
  
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  Robb III
  
  "This place still smells of shit!" had grumbled Greatjon Umber as they had been assigned their quarters in the Red Keep upon arriving, not that he really cared; the quarters were warm and above all dry. The next day he and Edmure were to bend the knee before King Tommen, a mere formality, but one which had to be observed. Then four Lords would wed, and then he would depart Kings Landing with a new bride, his father"s bones and his family"s ancestral sword, to retake the North from the Iron Born. Lord Tywin had decided that all four of them would be wed at the same time in a "symbol of unity", probably also to save coin, not that he had an issue with that, he disliked frivolous expenditure of coin like any good northerner, after all winter was coming and that coin could be spent better on food and other preparations for winter.
  After changing and bathing he went in search of Lord Edmure, who looked about as happy as he was with the situation and the pair of them with guards in tow, set off to meet their intendeds. His clothes were the best he had to hand, but having seen some of the southern finery on display already he felt like an impoverished, bucolic relation. He wore grey woollen trousers, a linen shirt and a grey/black doublet, his only concession to, well style was a silver wolf heads broach affixed to close the doublet at his throat.
  
  Lord Tywin had not been specific as to which one of them would have to choose which Lannister daughter to marry, in this case the daughters of Stafford Lannister, who was good brother to Tywin Lannister. He and Edmure were to be bound with chains of gold to the Lannister"s, of coin and hair, prisoners to the will and whim of the Old Lion. But as Lord Tyrion had said, better bound with ties of marriage than minus a head, though he still chaffed at how, well sudden it all was. He had not been naive enough to think he could have married for love, but this? A blade at his back prodding him towards an alter and a bride further from his choosing he could not imagine.
  
  Descending through Maegor"s Holdfast they made their way to the Gardens of the Red Keep, on entering the garden"s they met their future good father and their future wives, two golden haired and green eyed beauties. Both were dressed in crimson and gold, in similar enough dresses but with different hair styles, though both were dressed to catch a man"s eye with dresses that displayed quite the amount of creamy flesh. The sisters shared some familiar similarity, and of course the ubiquitous Lannister colouring, but other than that they seemed quite different. The younger one was slightly slimmer than the older one, and was all sly smiles and giggles, the older one looked haughty and coolly reserved, she probably thinks I"m a savage Robb thought sourly.
  
  After greetings and introductions Edmure chose the younger daughter, who was called Myrielle and sauntered off into the gardens with her and her chaperone, a stern faced Septa. That left him with the other daughter, Cerenna, as blonde and beautiful as her younger sister; in fact probably better looking to his mind on closer inspection, but who now sported a look of mild disinterest on her face. Great, Edmure will have the bubbly one eating out of his hand and he was left with the stuck up ice maiden.
  
  Giving her a bow he straightened up and asked "would you care to accompany me for a walk Lady Cerenna?"
  
  "I would be delighted to Lord Stark" the girl replied, only the tiniest of smiles on her face, and maybe not even that, mayhaps he had imagined it.
  
  With another hatchet faced Septa in tow they set off into the Gardens of the Red Keep, where that bastard Joffrey had choked to death he thought with a savage glee, only tempered by the fact that he had not been the one to end that little shitstains life.
  
  "Are you always this quiet?" asked the Lannister girl, breaking his train of thought.
  
  "Oh, um, no, sorry my Lady, I"ve just never been in Kings Landing, or the Red Keep before." "Great Robb, just great, you sound like a hayseed" he admonished himself in his mind.
  
  "I must say, you are not what I expected Lord Stark" the girl continued, arching one delicate blonde eyebrow at him, her face serenely composed.
  
  "Oh? And just what did you expect my Lady?" he asked, unable to keep just a little of his anger at this whole situation bleed into his voice.
  
  "Well, that you would be taller for one, you are the infamous "Young Wolf", who terrorised the Westerlands, whose men ride Direwolves into battle, and who feast on the flesh of their slain enemies!" the girl finished, he could not be sure if she was being serious or she was japing at him, neither her face nor her eyes gave him any indication of which it was.
  
  "Taller eh?" he replied, trying not to sound a little annoyed at this.
  
  "Well, you are a virtual legend my Lord, and legendary hero"s tend to be described as tall, but now that I see, you are tall enough...." she replied, and Robb was sure he could hear some amusement in the girls voice.
  
  He turned slightly to read the girls face, and to get a better look at her, Cerenna Lannister was beautiful, blonde of hair, green of eye, full of lip and high of cheek bone, but with a jaw just slightly too strong to be considered classically beautiful. But it made her face arresting he thought, this was a face you would never forget, a face that if you saw it in a crowd you would search it out again to gaze upon it. So why was she still unmarried he wondered, what defect did she have that caused her to still be an unwed maid at twenty and one?
  
  Though he knew he had to go through with this marriage he could barely muster any enthusiasm for this sham. "I"m just a defeated ex King my Lady, nothing more, nothing less....." he replied, uncaring what the Lannister chit thought of him.
  
  The girl"s face twisted slightly into a frown at this, before saying "and how many men can say that they wore a crown at all Robb Stark? How many men had the courage to challenge the Iron Throne, or the Old Lion?"
  
  "But I was defeated in the end!" he snapped, sourness and bitterness in his voice.
  
  "You were not, you willingly went to the negotiation table for the good of your realm, and you got the best deal possible, you kept your head, did not have to take the Black, will be acclaimed Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. That does not sound like a defeat to me Robb Stark!"
  
  Throughout all of this the girl"s green eyes had not flinched from his, cold, hard and utterly unreadable to him.
  
  "You may think yourself a failure Robb Stark, but you did what was right, what was honourable, and more importantly you survived and came back from the war with your body and mind intact."
  
  "And what do you know of war my lady?" he asked, unable to keep anger form his voice at the presumptuousness of this haughty blonde.
  
  "All I know is that for those it does not kill, it wounds, either on the outside or the inside. My brother is not the same after the war, the carefree boy I grew up with is gone Lord Stark."
  
  "At least he yet lives, plenty of boys I grew up with lie in graves scattered across the Riverlands and the Westerlands. I don"t know what it is to be a boy anymore my Lady; I had to grow up quick, to learn that fighting is not glory and songs. It is mud, blood, terror and slaughter all jumbled up into chaos, and the knowledge that you will have to do it all over again and again."
  
  "You won many battles, earned the title "the young wolf", you must be good at it?"
  
  "Maybe, but I don"t like it, or, or I"m afraid to like it, I don"t know. My father once said that the only thing more terrible than a battle lost is a battle won...."
  
  The girl said nothing in response and the silence hung heavy between them as the seconds ticked by, until Robb decided that he had to break it "do you, you know of the North?" he asked, stuttering slightly, suddenly felling as if he was walking on ice.
  
  "I read about it when the war started, a, dare I say it, stark place..."
  
  "It is very different from what I have seen of the Riverlands and the Westerlands; it"s emptier, wilder. Towns are more scattered, farms cluster around them, or where the best soils are, much of the land is unpopulated, there are lots of forests....lots of forests...." he ran out of things to say, the North, well it was the North...
  
  "And its people? The girl asked, the question sounding genuine enough.
  
  "Loyal, proud, good natured, wary of outsiders but committed to family and community."
  
  Cerenna nodded her head at this and said "we live at Casterly rock; they say you could live your entire life there and still not visit all its rooms, galleries and tunnels. It"s vast, overwhelming, and you feel so far away from everything, perched up above Lannisport."
  
  That tickled his mind, so he decided to ask, it was not as if he had anything to lose by it, they after all would have the rest of their lives to hate each other "you are a Lannister, you father is goodbrother to Lord Tywin, and you are unmarried as yet?"
  
  The girl did not react to this apart from the slightest clenching of her jaw and she replied after barely a second"s hesitation "my father had certain definite aspirations with that regard, they never matured, or at least they had not up to now. When Lord Tywin commanded him to bring my sister and I to Kings Landing with the prospect of marrying two Great Lords, he forgot all his previous wishes with regard to the hands of his daughters."
  
  Did he hear the slightest undertone of bitterness, resentment perhaps?
  
  "Is, was, I mean, was there someone, well, that you, were, were sweet on?" he asked, damming himself for blushing.
  
  "No, the man my father wanted me to marry was his choice and his choice alone. I am the daughter of a Great House, you are the son of a Great House, our concerns for marriage are not ours, only that of our fathers. In your case you will be marrying at the behest of your future goodbrother, Lord Tywin, but in the end it"s the same, not your choice."
  
  At that a peal of female laughter could be heard distantly, he would bet that this was Lady Cerenna"s younger sister enjoying Lord Edmure"s sure to be witty lines and easy conversation.
  
  If this conversation was anything to go by all he could look forwards to was a cold wedding bed and a loveless marriage, and he felt his anger boil at Tywin Lannister and his insufferable arrogance.
  
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  Tyrion XIV
  
  "My Lord father" he intoned, giving his customary bow.
  
  "Tyrion" his father replied, Lady Sansa, ever the immaculate Lady gave him a little curtsy in greeting "My Lord" she said sweetly, a smile on her lips.
  
  Oh yes, the Stark girl had learnt much since he had come across her being beaten by that idiot Trant in the Throne room with Joffrey egging the Kingsguard on and the rest of the court doing nothing. Now he could scarce know what was going on behind those huge, pale blue orbs, her composure and control over her face and body language were impressive, no doubt his father was delighted by his little wolf"s composure.
  
  He hid the mirth that threatened to erupt on his face at the thoughts of this slip of a girl being his mother by law, and even more hilarious would be his dear sister"s reaction, and speaking of which, Cersei entered the dining room at just this moment, escorted by Jamie. His brother was not in his Kingsguard armour, instead he wore dark trousers and a dark red doublet, Cersei wore one of her trademark heavy and overly complicated golden and crimson gowns, with her hair done up elaborately and she dripped with gold jewellery.
  
  Sansa by contrast wore a simple cut gown of sky blue with subtle red panels in the sleeves and skirt, the bodice was embroidered with a faint pattern, highlighted with pearls, on her ring finger was a golden band set with a single ruby and she sported ruby earrings, visible as her hair was done up into a single plait that was wound around itself at the back of her head.
  
  The girl looked radiant, demure and with the very slightest hint of steel beneath her Ladylike exterior, aye the girl he had come across weeping and stripped in the Throne Room was well and truly banished and in its place was something altogether different.
  
  He wondered idly if his father could see this, but he dismissed this thought almost as quickly as it entered his head, of course he could, for he would wager that part of Lady Sansa"s transformation was as a direct result of the influence of the Old Lion. He gave his father a surreptitious glance, yes, even though his father was hiding it well, he looked rather pleased with himself. And why would he not? He had eliminated Joffrey, hobbled Cersei and virtually ended the War of the Five Kings, with one of the prizes, the most beautiful and eligible bride in the Seven Kingdoms on his arm, and soon to be in his bed.
  
  Nobody could ever accuse Tywin Lannister of not being a player of the Game of Thrones but his father had scored for himself a rather large win he mused, and he envied the Old Lion his success. Bitterly he envied the Old Lion, aye bitterly, and he being pawned off to a Frey of all things, likely some weak chinned, lank haired drudge, a castoff from Walder Frey"s overactive loins.
  
  "Father" Cersei slurred, drunk as usual Tyrion noted, and he could not help but notice the ever so slight tightening of the skin around his father"s mouth at this.
  
  "The pair of you are late" the Old Lion announced, his tone as icy as if he was talking to an enemy.
  
  Sansa gave her usual courtesy to Cersei, to which his sister barely deigned to respond to, a bad move on her part he knew but completely in character for his sister, drunk or not.
  
  Gesturing with his hand the Old Lion guided Lady Sansa to her chair, at his father"s right hand side he noticed, the first woman to sit at his father"s right hand side since Lady Joanna had died, for he had never seen any woman, even Cersei seated at his father"s right hand side.
  
  Cersei narrowed her eyes at this, a glare of pure hatred blazing across her face, which Sansa ignored completely as she gave his father a glance of devotion and respect, before she looked up and set her vision to the middle distance.
  
  They were in the small dining room that was part of the Hand"s personal quarters, his Lord father had invited them all to dine "as a family", and the presence of Sansa as their impending "mother by law", was probably his father"s way of formally announcing it to his three children. Not that Jamie or him were unaware of the upcoming nuptials, and Cersei of course knew pretty much immediately after they had returned, no doubt Jamie had informed her after he had buried his cock into their dear sister. Or maybe before, mayhaps Cersei in a rage was a better fuck than Cersei just aroused?
  
  The first course was served, a fish dish of some sort, small fillets of fish, preserved in vinegar, crab meat, prawns and an accompanying salad. Tyrion tucked in, meals with his father were something of a culinary revelation these days, and he looked forwards to them, not only for the food but for the simple fact that his father seemed to have unbent himself massively in respect of hating him, and now even sometimes treated him with something of ordinary decency.
  
  He wondered if his wedding would further improve his father"s relationship with him, would ploughing the Lady Sansa"s flame haired cunny relax the Old Lion"s sour disposition even more? He would certainly be a happy man at the thought of being wedded to the Stark girl; she was a beauty and only growing lovelier with each passing day, her body blossoming into a much more womanly shape. And gone was the meek and scared girl, and in its place was developing a formidable lady, sure to be an asset to any husband.
  
  And least he get too misty eyed over his new found favour with the Old Lion, he had to remind himself that his father was not totally a new man, he was still as capable of ruthlessness and cruelty.
  
  His pondering was interrupted by Cersei announcing "I see that the Frey chit promised to Tyrion has yet to arrive in Kings Landing, Lord Walder is either late again, or has spurned your offer father" she spat out, spitefulness dripping from every word despite her being quite drunk.
  
  Before he could say anything the Old Lion paused a second and placed his cutlery on his plate and looked at Cersei "Lord Walder did not trust the roads, with good cause I might add, his daughter is coming by sea, and I have word that the vessel carrying Tyrion"s intended has been sighted just an hour ago off Blackwater bay. We shall meet the girl herself tomorrow morning no doubt, soon she will be a Lannister, and due the respect that entails Cersei."
  
  Left unsaid was that Sansa would also be a Lannister soon, and she would be the Lady of Casterly rock, and that his father would stand no disrespect being shown to her, from anyone.
  
  But of course Cersei had to walk straight into the trap her father had laid for her "A Frey is I suppose all Tyrion could hope for, but you father? You are the Lion of Casterly rock! You deserve better than a simpering, idiotic child from the heathen north!"
  
  Tyrion barely kept the smirk off his face at this, his dear sister really was so very, very stupid, and wine had not improved her wits by any amount, he ducked his head to gaze at his plate to select the next morsel to consume, but not before he caught sight of the alarm on Jamie"s face.
  
  "Her Grace forgets herself, her Lord father made my hand a precondition of the peace that has just been signed. That self same treaty binds house Lannister to House Stark and House Tully, both of whose heirs will wed Lannister daughters. In addition your Lord Father ensures the continuation of his line by marrying me, you are a Baratheon and Ser Jamie cannot continue the Lannister line, Lord Tyrion"s line through his Frey bride will provide a valuable extension of Lannister blood."
  
  This was quite the speech for Sansa Stark to make, and in direct confrontation to Cersei also, my, my but the little wolf had a bite to her now. His father moved his head to glance at his wife to be and Tyrion saw a brief flash of respect dance in his father eyes at this repost to Cersei from his bride to be.
  
  "You dare to think that you could replace my mother? You? The daughter of a traitor!!" Cersei shrieked, her voice breaking with the force of her scream, having seen the look his father and Sansa had just shared.
  
  His father swept his cold gaze back to rest upon his daughter "Lord Stark is not a traitor, and nor was he, Joffrey"s order to remove his head was illegal as he had not attained his majority. In addition Lord Stark was afforded neither a trial nor any of the legal protection a Lord of his station is entitled too, thus his "confession", such as it was, is rendered moot. The Lady Sansa offered her hand to me in marriage as a means to return Ser Jamie, my son, to me and to end this war once and for all. Lady Sansa acted as any Great Lady should; she put the interests of her family first, before her own wishes and desires, something which you seemed to have been unable to do, ever....."
  
  Peeking up he noticed his father was glaring at Cersei, who seemed to have received a large dose of reckless courage from the wine she had been drinking, because she was scowling right back at Lord Tywin.
  
  "Your brother refuses to give up his role as a glorified bodyguard and become the Lord he was born to be, Tyrion, despite his wit and brains, could never be Lord of Casterly rock...no Tyrion, I do not do this to spite you, my bannermen would never follow you, not the way they would follow me or Jamie. It is regrettable, and unfair, but it is the truth....."
  
  He did not reply to this, it pained him deeply to hear his father say this, but he had know all throughout his life that this was how his father felt, but at least it was being said in the most palatable way possible. Though the look of savage triumph on Cersei"s face he could do without, but before the riposte about how even though he was "monstrous and deformed", at least he did not fuck his own sibling had time to leave his mouth, his father continued.
  
  "And thus Cersei, it falls to me to ensure that the Lannister name continues and that my line leads our House. So I must wed, and just who would you have me wed Cersei? Margaery Tyrell? A maid as conniving as her grandmother is old, though admittedly she is possessed of a pleasant aspect and no doubt a fertile womb. A bannerman"s daughter Cersei? Sure to set her father"s pride alight but more likely to inflame the rest with jealously. Or the daughter of a House that has stood for eight thousands years, who has ruled the North for that time and seen off all threats and usurpations to their rule? And whose daughter had the sense of duty to know what had to be done, despite the stupid and senseless cruelties inflicted upon her by that idiotic boy of yours that you had not the wit to halt? Well Cersei, I am waiting?"
  
  Tyrion finished his fish course and took a deep gulp form his wine, surveying the truly delightful family dynamic at the table - his father coldly furious, his wife to be looking imperious and calm, his sister hateful and sour, and his brother helpless and forlorn.
  
  When Cersei either could not, or would not reply to her father he continued "The Lady Sansa and I will be wed, she will become the Lady of Casterly rock, the wife of the Hand of the King and your mother by law. I will expect that she will be treated with all the courtesy and respect that her station entails, and I will not be in any way disposed to show mercy to any of you should you forget this."
  
  Though addressed to all of them he knew this message was for Cersei, he did hope that his father was prepared for the sure to be idiotic next move on Cersei"s part in response to all this.
  
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  What would you did if you woke up in Westeros and discovered you had been subjected to an enforced gender change? See the adventures of The Littlest Lioness for all the delightful details...
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  Robb IV
  
  At a nod from the guards the doors of the Throne room were swung open and he and Lord Edmure were announced, he strode along the giant hall, a group of his bannermen and guards walking along behind him. The Throne room was vast, high ceilinged, huge columns soared up on either side of him to hold up the roof that arched two hundred, maybe three hundred feet above him, and at its far end, the hulking, twisted splendour of the Iron Throne.
  
  Perched atop the great mass of melted swords was the tiny form of the King he would bend the knee to, Tommen Baratheon, but he knew he was really bending the knee to the man dressed in black who stood on the dais that flanked the Iron Throne to its right, Tywin Lannister.
  
  As they approached the gathered crowds of courtiers gradually ceased their muttering and whispering until they arrived at the foot of the Iron Throne, and of course Ser Jamie would be there, resplendent in his white Kingsguard armour.
  
  Atop Robb"s head was his crown, the one he was here to surrender as he bent the knee, he purposefully avoided making eye contact with Jamie Lannister, the smirk he had seen on the insufferable Lion"s face had been enough for him.
  
  Halting and drawing himself up to his full height, Edmure likewise doing the same the voice of Tommen Baratheon rang out from his perch on the Iron Throne "Your Grace, Lord Edmure, welcome to Kings Landing and the Red Keep, are you ready to swear your fealty to the Iron Throne?"
  
  "We are" the both of them replied, neither of their voices wavering he noticed.
  
  With that King Tommen began the ceremony "I will accept your crown King Robb and you will become my leal bannerman, the Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, will you accept?"
  
  "I do your Grace" Robb intoned as went to one knee on the marble floor of the throne room, removing his crown and holding it out from his head, he saw Jamie Lannister"s boots appear in his vision and felt him take the crown from his hand.
  
  "Then rise Lord Stark" King Tommen said from far above him, the boys voice echoing slightly.
  
  Robb rose to stand as Tommen addressed Edmure, his child"s voice surprisingly firm and confident "Do you Lord Edmure foreswear you allegiance to the former King in the North and reaffirm your ties of loyalty to the Iron Throne?"
  
  "I do your Grace" Edmure replied, from where he had gone to one knee.
  
  "Then rise Lord Tully, Lord of Riverrun and Lord Paramount of the Riverlands."
  
  "My grandfather, the Lord Hand Lord Tywin Lannister once said to me that "a House divided cannot stand" and much like a House, the Seven Kingdoms cannot stand if they are divided, but much has been injured by this war, and so we must seek to bind up the wounds of our great Kingdom. As part of that binding Lords Stark and Tully will wed the Ladies Cerenna and Myriella of House Lannister, Lord Tyrion Lannister will wed the Lady Roslin Frey and my Lord Hand, Tywin Lannister will wed the Lady Sansa Stark. The wedding of all four Lords will take place in one week"s time at the Great Sept of Baelor, and will be a joyous occasion with which to celebrate and cement the peace that has been offered and accepted here today."
  
  At this thunderous applause broke out from the assembled crowd, and Robb wondered how much of what he just heard were the words of Tywin Lannister and not the young King. Most likely all of them he thought sourly, for the Hand was the real King, and everybody knew it. He risked a glance over at the man himself, he was clapping politely, his face neutral, beside him his sister was clapping with a little more enthusiasm, she was not yet cloaked in Lannister crimson but there was no mistaking who she belonged to now, not in the way she held herself nor in the way she was looking at her betrothed.
  
  With the ceremony of him bending the knee over King Tommen descended from the Iron Throne, he, like everyone else went to one knee as the young King exited the Throne room accompanied by several Kingsguard.
  
  "Probably off for a glass of warm milk and his afternoon nap" whispered Greatjon Umber from behind him, he did not make any reply to the Greatjon"s comment and kept his face neutral.
  
  "Or maybe to beat off to the thoughts of his Tyrell bride....." came the Greatjon again, and he could not resist taking an involuntary glance at the Tyrell girl, who was talking to Sansa now. Lady Margaerey was dressed scandalously, the amount of her flesh on display was much greater than that of any other lady, and he noticed many of them giving her disapproving glances, Cerenna Lannister among them.
  
  "Then again, if he"s really lucky, the Tyrell girl might join him to suck his royal little cock....." whispered Greatjon, equal mirth and jealously in his voice.
  
  Cersei Lannister was absent he noted, and he had heard rumours that the former Queen was rapidly descending into madness after witnessing the death of her first son. No great loss he was honest enough to admit to himself, given what he knew about how she had acted and how she had been party to the betrayal of his Lord father.
  
  Lord Tywin descended from the dais to shake their hands all round, Sansa did not accompany him, but he noticed that the two Lannister sisters did, each one demurely greeting them. He kept a smile on his face as he greeted Cerenna "My Lady."
  
  "My Lord" she replied, and now there was a definitive smile on the Lannister chit"s face, but of course there was, he had surrendered his crown and was now beholden to the Lannister"s, a muzzled and leashed wolf.
  
  The sisters were dressed in customary Lannister crimson and gold, both sisters had been amply blessed by the gods with womanly figures; Cerenna"s a little fuller than her sisters he noted, but no less appealing to the eye for all that. Both had their teats thrust up high by the bodices of their gowns, a sight which Lord Edmure seemed to have difficulty tearing his eyes away from.
  
  Lady Cerenna took his elbow and steered him through the thronged crowd, much to his initial surprise but he let the girl lead him. She greeted some courtiers that she knew, Westerlanders no doubt, until they reached a quiet spot behind one of the massive columns.
  
  "Now, was that so hard?" the girl asked, the slightest of grins on her face.
  
  "Easy for you to say..." he responded, his mood hardly improved by the fact that he was standing beside a stunning young blonde noblewoman who would soon be his wife.
  
  "Really? "easy for me to say" is it? You are not the one being married off to a Northerner, banished to a vast land of heath and forest, where it snows in summer?"
  
  "As you reminded me my Lady, we are not free in this respect; we have to do "what is best" do we not? What is best for Tywin Lannister....."
  
  "We may be being forced into this, but that does not mean we have to hate each other, a lifetime despising each other will hardly make either of us happy now will it?" the girl replied, hope in her voice, but steel in her eyes.
  
  "I was supposed to marry a Frey, Lord Walder"s price for me and my army crossing The Twins, but instead I find myself marrying a Lannister, I"m not sure which is worse."
  
  "Why the Frey girl of course!" Cerenna scolded him, mockery heavy in her voice. "I will grant you that the maid Lord Tyrion is to marry is pretty enough, she does not come with the advantages that I bring."
  
  "Oh? And just what would that be my Lady?" Robb asked, though not in anger, he was too tired of all the fighting and politics to care anymore.
  
  "Men don"t fear Lord Walder Frey Robb Stark" Cerenna husked as she leaned close to him, far too close that propriety would allow, but he did not move back "but men fear Lord Tywin Lannister, your family will be bound to his, twice over. You have a realm to re-conquer, and land to repair after the ravages of war. Who would you prefer to do it with as your good father, a penny pinching Walder Frey as your good brother, or the Old Lion himself Tywin Lannister?"
  this last bit was breathed into his ear by the girl before she suddenly walked off back into the throng of people, leaving him confused and vaguely annoyed.
  
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  Tywin V
  
  The bending on the knee had went off as well as can be expected, with Robb Stark, who did look a little bit like that Scottish guy who played him in the show, and Edmure Tully, who looked nothing like his show self, formally surrendering.
  
  Tywin was supremely pleased with himself, and I had to keep reminding him that this was only part one, and frankly the easy bit, of what we needed to do. There was still Euron Greyjoy and his likely penchant to murderfuck a cosmic horror into existence and Danerys with her three dragons, and lastly, but by no means least there were the White Walkers and the Army of the dead to be dealt with. And even then, was it show or book White Walkers/Others? Which one it was would have a huge impact on, well, my personal chances of survival.
  
  And to be honest, without the frankly incredible levels of self belief and willpower that Tywin possessed I"d have collapsed into a gibbering wreck by now at the thoughts of the numerous existential threats to my skin that lurked on the horizon.
  
  To be fair to Tywin he had been pretty scared when I had shown him what was coming down the line, but he had pretty soon started thinking along the lines of stabilising Westeros first and then preparing for the long night part two.
  
  Regarding the Iron Born so long as (book) Euron did not show up we were confident that these cheap Viking knock off"s could be dealt with. Stannis was a slightly more difficult proposition due to his pet Red Witch, who terrified me to be frank, but who was not omniscient it had to be said. But relying on Mel to fuck things up was hardly a reliable strategy, and gods only knew what she saw of me in those flames she was so fond of, religious nut job probably wanted to burn me alive at the earliest opportunity she could. Or jump my bones, or leach me, who knows what that 400 year old milf witch wanted?
  
  I noticed Cerenna Lannister wander off with a rather hapless looking Robb Stark on her arm, her younger sister was flirting outrageously with Edmure Tully, who seemed to be lapping up the attention from the younger of the sisters.
  
  "Luba and Nadya Shemeyko, I mean who would have thought" I muttered in my head, just my luck that my favourite Ukrainian super hot twins happened to be my nieces eh? Those two lucky bastards Robb Stark and Edmure Tully would get to fuck stupid the two chicks who had long been my ultimate fantasy....At my sour musings Tywin laughed and called me an idiot, but still I was butt hurt over this cosmic injustice, I was only rescued from my funk by Tywin being pestered by several courtiers over minor matters, I let him deal with this bollocks while to take my mind off my jealously of Robb and Edmure I pondered the situation that I had found myself in, a rather frequent pastime of mine and one which Tywin thought overly self indulgent.
  
  In a week"s time I would be married to Sansa Stark, a girl young enough to be my daughter and Tywin"s granddaughter, and this only barely bothered me, maybe it was Tywin"s influence on me, maybe it was Westeros. I don"t know, maybe it was the fact that the girl herself was very good looking and I had always been a sucker for a "damsel in distress", and once Tywin and I had decided we were stuck with each other and that we needed to work together to sort out the mess Westeros was in for he had originally thought to marry Margaery once Joffrey had been disposed of.
  
  Because once the Old Lion had been made aware of his twin"s antics he had decided that new heirs were required forthwith and Margaery Tyrell, or at least Natalie Dormer, had caught the old pervert"s eye. Margaery did look like a younger and bustier version of mizz Dormer, and had things not been thrown a dramatic curve ball by Sansa Stark we would be marrying her, with Sansa most likely marrying Tommen. Of course Olenna Tyrell and Mace would not have been happy, but with what we had on them both of us were confident we would have been burying our cock into Margaery"s cunt to our hearts content. Which would have been quite the pleasant experience to look forwards to I had to admit, the Tyrell girl was very easy in the eye and was sure to be a formidable Lady of Casterly Rock and valuable asset to our plans.
  
  Tywin had remarkably little interest in Sansa sexually, as far as he was concerned she was a means to an end and little better than a walking womb, though he did admit that she was blooming into a capable great lady and she would likely make a more than an adequate Lady of Casterly rock.
  
  Me? I was looking forwards to some tight teenage virgin pussy to fuck with our impressively sized cock, Tywin being quite over endowed in that area, a majority of male porn stars would look on his equipment with jealously. Tywin"s size had terrified his first wife Joanna on their wedding night, and was likely to equally terrify Sansa, so lots of foreplay and gentle preparations were likely in order.
  
  Tywin scoffed in my head at this train of thought, he seemed not to care so long as Sansa gave him heirs, though I suspected he was just being "Tywin" i.e. being incapable of admitting weakness or softness.
  
  "My Lord" came a soft and familiar voice beside me; I turned and gave a bow as Catelyn and Sansa Stark approached, both ladies giving me a curtsy, Sansa"s being noticeably lower and longer, her mother"s being the barest necessary. Catelyn looked nothing like her show character, being quite a bit younger and considerably hotter, to my eyes she looked like Sophie Turner would look in her mid 30"s. Tywin did not find her unattractive either, but thought her irredeemably stupid, though he did find the modern concept of a "revenge fuck" hilarious and would not be averse to fucking the stupid out of Catelyn Stark.
  
  "Lady Catelyn, Lady Sansa" I replied, letting Tywin"s usually calm and cool features settle on my face, regarding my intended and my future mother in law, though here they say "by law" and not "in law", or "good mother".
  
  "Lord Tywin" responded Catelyn coolly, Sansa"s similar response was said in a considerably warmer tone, and her greeting reached those huge Tully Blue eyes of hers.
  
  "I have met the Frey Lady who will wed your son my Lord, the Lady Roslin is as fair and sweet natured a maid as I have ever met" said Lady Catelyn, her voice cool, but not really hostile. Though why she decided that Roslin Frey was a topic of conversation eluded me. Thankfully the little Frey chit was the image of Alexandra Dowling, pretty as a button, petite and delicate, but with an impressive bosom for her size. She would be perfect for Tyrion, Genna had proposed her and I had agreed, hoping that she was "show Roslin", and sure enough she was.
  
  "Aye, but apparently Walder Frey"s daughter was just as tardy as her Lord Father, the good Lady only arriving yesterday. I admit I am disappointed that Lord Frey thinks this matter to be due the same belated attendance as he gave to your father and King Robert during the rebellion."
  
  In truth I was pissed off with Walder Frey, and if I was annoyed with him Tywin was incandescent with rage at his behaviour. The slimy old weasel had twisted and turned and drove a bargain which was outrageous, and which Tywin would have never agreed to, except, well, Tywin had been longing to deal with the Freys ever since Genna had been married into that clan. But Lannister"s not only always paid their debts but they also always collected on them and Walder Frey had incurred a rather hefty debt in Tywin"s eyes.
  
  "The good lady made her way here by ship, down the Green Fork and then out into the narrow sea and straight to Kings Landing. No doubt she is suitably joyous the on occasion of her becoming a member of House Lannister."
  
  It felt good to twist the knife into Catelyn Stark, both over the disgraceful conduct of one of her father"s banner men and to remind her that her precious little daughter would soon be mine, and boy did she not like the thoughts of that one bit. If this dammed bint had of had a single ounces of sense then half of the stupid shit that had happened in Westeros would not have taken place. I mean kidnapping Tyrion, knowing what Tywin was like when it came to slights against his family, what was the daft cunt thinking? And then spiriting him away to the Eyrie for a kangaroo court to find him guilty on the flimsiest of evidence?
  
  If I was honest she deserved to have her throat cut at Red Wedding, and Tywin shared my opinion of our soon to be good mother.
  
  "I hear that Lord Walder will not be attending his daughter"s nuptials?" asked Catelyn Stark, somewhat frostily but I could see that she was trying to make conversation for the sake of her daughter. Or equally she could be trying to be a cunt, I cared little either way, Catelyn Stark would soon be out of my hair for good, Cerenna Lannister would soon be dealing with her. And if the Lannister girl had any sense, and from meeting her several times I knew she did, Robb Stark would be listening more to his wife than his mother.
  
  "I have heard so yes, apparently Lord Walder is ill and cannot travel. He has delegated a minor knightly House sworn to the Twins to provide escort for his daughter and to act in his stead at the wedding. The northern Riverlands are apparently badly beset by banditry and lawlessness and he requires all of his forces to quell these disturbances, hence only the good lady herself and some of her handmaidens will be present from House Frey."
  
  I let something of Tywin"s cold anger leech into my voice at this, for what old Walder had pulled was an unforgivable insult, effectively throwing away his daughter and not having the common decency to send at least one senior male Frey to accompany her. No skin off our noses though in the end, if Walder wanted to cut off his nose to spite his face he could go on right ahead, the old bastard was livid that the plotting that would have led to the Red Wedding had been aborted and that he and his brood would not get the prize of the Riverlands for conspiring with Tywin to remove the Young Wolf. Add to this that his daughter was getting Tyrion instead of Edmure and Walder was all full of piss and vinegar. The fact that Roose Bolton and a good portion of his senior banner men had suffered a rather bloodily abrupt end after our plotting had been aborted had apparently not been sufficient of a warning to Walder Frey to quit while he was ahead.
  
  All this talk and thinking of Walder Frey was making him, well both of us annoyed, so I excused myself from the two redheads, citing pressing business of state. Both women excused us; I would be dining with them later on anyway so no doubt we would have to endure more of Catelyn"s sour, cuntish conversation.
  
  Assembling our guard I returned to the Tower of the Hand and to the never ending work that was needed to keep the medieval ship of state functioning, of course letting Tywin drive when there was boring paperwork to be done. I went for a snooze instead, much to Tywin"s annoyance and woke up as we made our way into the private dining room of the Hand of the King.
  
  Present were Robb, Sansa and Catelyn for the Starks and Cerenna and her father Lord Stafford and our good selves, for the Lannister"s. The fact that Stafford Lannister was still alive was something of a shock for me, hadn"t he been killed at the battle of Oxcross?
  
  After pleasantries were observed, such as they were, we sat down for our meal, nothing too fancy or ostentatious, and thus nothing that might upset touchy and parsimonious northern sensibilities. Good wine was served; I stuck to my favourite tipple, dark Westerlander beer, which Robb also liked, commenting on how good it was. Well bonding over beer was a start I suppose, the lad seemed to pay his intended little attention, something Sansa had noticed and she was trying to draw the two into conversation.
  
  Stafford was his usual boring, and as he consumed more alcohol, boorish self, he appeared to be completely unaware of the attempts being made by Sansa and Cerenna to engage Robb in conversation, even Catelyn was trying to jolly her son along to join the conversation.
  
  And failing it had to be noted, Robb was far more interested in talking to me than talking to the ladies present, and even at that he was not exactly over bubbling with sparkling wit and repartee. That was something of an overstatement, the young Lord of Winterfell was almost as monosyllabic as his father was, I really should have invited Tyrion and Genna along, they might have helped with the funeral like atmosphere.
  
  The lad needed to cheer up, he was going to get to dip his cock repeatedly in a super hot blonde from a fabulously rich family, and the girl was not an idiotic bimbo either, there was a calculating mind behind those cool green eyes of hers. She would do well as the Lady of Winterfell, of that I was sure, and maybe Catelyn Stark knew this also as she had not warmed to Cerenna at all, despite her show of trying to get Robb to talk to her.
  
  Eventually Robb Stark finally got to what was eating him, thank god, when he announced that he had found out about the deal that Roose Bolton had made with me for the release of Ser Jamie.
  
  "And? I treated with Roose Bolton for my Son"s release, he accepted my gold without any compunction, and he returned my son and Brienne of Tarth to my agents without any further ado."
  
  "Gold, it"s always about gold with you Lannister"s isn"t it?" Robb asked, anger bristling in his voice.
  
  "Robb" hissed Catelyn, trying to silence him.
  
  "Let the Lord of Winterfell speak, he is a man grown" I replied, coolly cutting off Catelyn Stark, who looked frankly terrified, a heavy silence filling the room.
  
  "Let me ask my betrothed a question Lord Stark?" I said in Tywin"s trademark low, even voice. Turning to Sansa I fixed her with my eyes and said "Lady Sansa, am I an honourable man?"
  
  Holding the girl"s gaze I saw the calculation dart across the pale blue depths of her eyes before Sansa replied "No my Lord, you are not an honourable man" to multiple hisses of indrawn breath.
  
  "Clever girl" I replied to Sansa, keeping my gaze on her until I languidly returned it to Robb Stark "Your father was an honourable man and Kings Landing destroyed him, and his fall nearly destroyed your family, wiping out a dynasty that has stood proud for eight thousand years. You cannot afford to let that happen, my own father very nearly toppled the Lannister"s."
  
  "Ah yes, I was wondering when you would get the Rains of Castamere" Robb spat.
  
  "Everyone knows what happened, thanks to that song, or at least they think they do. Few know what happened before that, and what led to "the rains to weep ore their halls". I gave the Reynes three chances boy, three chances to come to terms and return to be loyal banner men. And each time they refused, they refused only paying back the principle they owed Casterly rock, they refused paying back with reduced interest and with it only being calculated from the day they bent the knee, and they finally refused to send hostages and pay back all that they owed, principle and full interest. What would you have done boy, in my place, when two of your most powerful banner men spat in your face like that? I seem to remember that the Greystarks are no more, nobody wrote a song about them, did they?"
  
  Robb did not reply, only glaring at me, the room was deathly quiet as I continued "You took the Karstarks head, as you had to, I removed the Boltons the moment I knew a negotiated peace was at hand, for I have no use for traitors, or leaving long running threats to my family un-dealt with."
  
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  Sansa XV
  
  The ballroom in the Maidenvault was filled with the ladies of court and the three other brides to be, including Lady Roslin Frey. Their prospective husbands were all away, in the Kingswood on a "stag hunt", along with about a hundred Men at Arms, Lords and servants. They would be spending two days away hunting, drinking to excess, and engaging in generally bawdy behaviour before returning two days prior to the weddings.
  
  Or at least that was what several women had told her was likely to be happening on the "stag" as Lord Tywin referred to it, though she could not imagine Tywin or Robb partaking in the sort of drunken revelry that Lord"s Edmure and Tyrion would no doubt be indulging in.
  
  Her brother still looked none too happy to be marrying the Lannister girl and seemed to have a scowl on his face most of the time, so he was unlikely to want to "enjoy" himself, and Tywin? Well she could not see her husband to be letting go of his iron control and unbending enough to join in the drinking and singing that was sure to ensue.
  
  She quirked her lips slightly, the thoughts of Tywin carousing were amusing to say the least, a sight she would pay a gold dragon to see! Speaking of gold dragons Tywin had started to let her participate in the running of the Household of the Hand and he had informed her of her monthly allowance as his Lady wife. It had seemed an inordinately large amount to her mind if she was honest and had said so, Tywin had dismissed her concerns by simply stating that she would be the Lady wife of the Hand and the Lady of Casterly rock.
  
  More dresses had also arrived from the dressmaker, in styles she favoured and with a greater preponderance of reds and gold, Tywin having obviously ordered them before they had left Kings Landing to treat with Robb. It did show that Tywin had been confident of the outcome of the negotiations, something that did not annoy her, on the contrary, it made her feel a little thrill of satisfaction.
  
  She had to also give him credit for the styles and cut of the various new gowns, none met with her disapproval, all were similar to her favourite gowns, she did not think Robb, or any other man would know the first thing about ordering garments for his Lady. Mayhaps it was because he had already been married that he knew this, but she doubted it.
  
  Her thoughts returned to her intended once more, and she realised she felt little of what the stories and tales she had liked as a girl had said she should feel for her husband to be. Yes Lord Tywin was tall, strong, a great Lord, and not un-handsome in his own way, but all she felt was a certain satisfaction at the thoughts of becoming his wife. For in taking Lord Tywin"s name, along with its attendant power would provide for her the security that she needed, that her family had been unable to provide. And in becoming a Lannister should atone in part for her sins in betraying her family, she would be the sacrifice that would save Robb and her mother, in spite of themselves if needed.
  
  She had talked some with her mother about her upcoming marriage, frosty conversations if she was honest, but at least her mother had deigned to talk to her, unlike Robb, who seemed to nothing but hate in his eyes when he looked at her. She had tried to reason with her mother that her marrying Lord Tywin was not unlike the marriage that she had been forced into with her father Ned, in that they had barely known each other and the marriage had been for purely political reasons.
  
  Her mother had icily declared that her father Ned had been an honourable man who was only doing his duty, and that while she had not loved Ned at the start, she had come to deeply love his quiet, honourable ways. Left unsaid by her mother was that she did not think Sansa"s future husband was in any way honourable or kind, nor that Sansa would ever come to love him.
  
  She was not so sure about that though, while Lord Tyiwn was a cold, ruthless man, and intensely dominant at the best of times, Sansa had increasingly seen another side to him after their betrothal had been announced. Those cold, utterly unyielding emerald eyes seemed to soften on occasion when glancing at her, and an unexpected warm mirth had sparkled in their depths. That granite hard face of Lord Tywin would relax momentarily and even break into a smile, and that her intended would on occasion even flirt with her. While Tywin was still completely absorbed by the demands of running the Seven Kingdoms he would never refuse her time, nor would he stint on gifts, her new wardrobe being the prime example of this generosity. Her coterie of Ladies in Waiting and maids had expanded to match, and she was expected to be much more of a presence in the Red Keep, something which she had secretly delighted in.
  
  It saddened her to think that her mother would never make peace with what was about to happen, her mother had reacted poorly when she had discovered that it had been Sansa who had proposed the match with Lord Tywin. Did her mother think she was still a stupid little girl? And how could her actions be anything but a desperate act of sacrifice and not the actions of an empty headed girl? In the months she spent as a prisoner of Joffrey and Cersei her mother and brother had made no attempt to trade Ser Jamie for her, despite protestations from her mother that getting her and Arya back had been her only priority. And then to cap it all her mother had thrown away the only advantage they had over Tywin Lannister, his son, in an act of monumental stupidity that thankfully had not ruined everything.
  
  The more she thought about her mother and her actions the less she respected her if she was honest, Tywin had told her some of what had transpired "behind the scenes" as it where. The letter from Lysa Arynn, its accusations and the fact that Baelish was behind it, her mother"s kidnapping of Lord Tyrion and her putting him "on trial" in the Eyrie. As she had pondered this Tywin had said nothing, until she had remarked that she thought her mother had acted rashly and had endangered her father in Kings Landing by her actions.
  
  Tywin had just nodded in agreement with her and had said nothing more on the subject, what she took as him being pleased with her response.
  
  
  She brought her mind back to the present, tables and chairs were laid out in the ballroom around its walls; a quartet of musicians played quietly from the far end, the whole affair was quite informal and was designed to allow the ladies to mingle and gossip, while eating various snacks and drinking wine. Her mother sat beside her, stiff and formal, and not at all like how she would have expected her mother to react to her impending nuptials to a High Lord of Westeros
  Putting aside her thoughts she let her eyes rove over the room, before she would have just seen finely dressed courtly ladies, and thrilled at the style and fashion on display, but now? Now she saw more, and saw much more clearly. She beheld the false smiles, the cliques and power blocs, the manoeuvring for position, the struggle for dominance. There were three factions in this room that she could clearly identify, with a good half of the crowd either neutral, observing warily or blithely unconcerned.
  
  The Queen"s supporters, of which the best that could be said was that their numbers were showing a marked decline, were gathered around Cersei. Rumours were circulating that the Queen was to be married off soon and thus removed from the Red Keep. And so only the most fanatical, or stupid, of her former coterie still surrounded her, and the Queen herself looked haggard and seemed to be permanently drunk.
  
  And to think that she once idolised that woman, but thankfully she was no longer that stupid little girl anymore, and despite it being a bitter pill to swallow, Sansa knew she had Cersei to thank in part for lifting the veil of innocence from her eyes.
  
  Lady Margaery"s supporters were mainly from the Reach but some of Cersei"s former supporters had gravitated to the Rose of Highgarden, as she would be the next Queen and they saw the writing on the wall for Cersei. The former Queen was almost completely bereft of power, mainly as a result of the actions of Tywin, who seemed to positively hate his daughter, or so she believed based on how he treated her. It was obvious to her that Cersei was deeply wounded by this behaviour on her father"s part, and it was eating away at Cersei.
  
  And lastly there were the increasing numbers of ladies aligning themselves to her, once the announcement of her betrothal to Lord Tywin the invites and calls upon her had become a veritable torrent. Some were so patently transparent in their false sincerity that it sickened her, especially those who had once consorted closely with Queen Cersei, but there were a few who she felt she could use, not trust, no, never trust. For such was the lesson of the Game of Thrones - smiles were false, trust was quicksand and loyalty always had a price.
  
  "Little Dove!!" slurred Cersei, loud enough to cut through the hum of conversation, which began to rapidly die down as all eyes turned to watch, the courtiers finely attuned senses knowing that a confrontation was brewing.
  
  "Your Grace?" Sansa replied, her voice level and proper.
  
  "Has your mother told you what will happen on your wedding night little dove?" Cersei glared at her, a maniacal smile gashing her generous mouth, her emerald eyes shining with a disturbing light.
  
  "She has your grace, I am fully aware of what my duty as a wife entails."
  
  Of course her mother had told her nothing, neither had her Septa, but Lady Genna and her Lyseni pillow book had thought her more than she had even dreamed about the ways of men and women.
  
  "You will bleed and breed little dove, bleed and breed for the Lannisters! He won"t be gentle, my father, he will take you for what you are, a womb to be filled with his heirs, nothing more, nothing less. You will never mean anything more to him than that, never forget!"
  
  At this Cersei lurched to her feet and made to stagger off, before turning back to face her, swaying slightly "You will never replace my mother in his heart little dove, enjoy your loveless marriage!"
  
  With this Cersei stormed from the ballroom, followed by her ladies in waiting but by noticeably less other courtiers than she entered with.
  
  Sansa"s eyes narrowed slightly and a scowl threatened to mar her face at Cersei"s disgraceful behaviour, she wondered if she should mention this to Tywin, once they were married Cersei"s behaviour would be unpardonable.
  
  After a few seconds of shocked silence the room returned to normal, well not quite normal, the Queen mother"s outburst and exit obviously being the main topic of whispered conversation.
  
  "I, I never wanted this for you Sansa" her mother said in a low voice, pitched to just about be heard over the hubbub of frantic gossiping.
  
  "I was to marry Joffrey, who turned out to be a monster" she replied, not turning her head nor changing the look on her face "nobody protected me from him, nobody came to rescue me, all those tales of knights and fair maidens were lies. I lived the truth, and the truth is that there are monsters in the world mother, and you cannot protect yourself from them if you are weak."
  
  "Your, your husband to be, he, he is a monster Sansa...."
  
  "He is, but he will not harm me, I am too valuable to him, he needs my womb to bear his heirs. That"s what I am, what all of us here are, wombs to guarantee the dynasties men found. And none will dare harm me when I am Lord Tywin"s wife, precisely because he is a monster mother. You and father never thought any of us about fear, about power, about how dangerous life is, you tried to protect use and all you did was make us weak and vulnerable, pawns in other men"s games."
  
  "Sansa....I..."
  
  "I don"t hate you mother, or resent you, you did what you thought was right, but all actions have consequences, and debts must always be paid, no matter the price."
  
  "My, my little girl, she....she is no more, she is a Great Lady now.....I, I am proud of you Sansa, you have become what you always wanted to be. I, I"m just sorry that the price you had to pay was so high."
  
  "As am I mother, as am I."
  
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  Robb V
  
  The party was camped for the night, the nights came swiftly this far south, unlike the long twilights he was used to at home. The tents were set up and the day"s kills had been butchered and were cooking away, yesterday it had been a whole stag, butchered by Lord Tywin himself, tonight it would be several wild pigs gracing their table.
  
  The wilds pigs were being cooked by Lord Tywin"s personal chef, the tender loin, filet and ribs being served "barbecued" with potatoes roasted in the coals, freshly baked bread and as much wine and westerlander dark ale as one could want.
  
  The great crimson tent was set up for the night, the smells of cooking wafting into it and making his mouth water, the accompanying lords and banner men milling about before the serious business of eating and drinking began.
  
  Apparently this "stag" was an opportunity for a man about to be married to enjoy himself "one last time" as a "free man" with his friends, something that made him snort with amusement, were there whores present then maybe, but this just seemed like any other hunt to him. Better appointed with comforts thanks to his soon to be good brother, and rather larger and more boisterous, but still like a normal hunt nonetheless.
  
  He let a little grimace tighten his face at that, "normal" was not something one could ascribe to these last few weeks, surrendering to the Lannisters, travelling to Kings Landing to meet his future Lannister bride, and now this on the eve of his wedding. Not that he did not like hunting, far from it, but the presence of so many other Lords and retainers made it seem a little false to him. The bawdy singing and lewd suggestions that were common left him just feeling annoyed more than anything else, though he noticed none dared to make any improper comments about Sansa in earshot of the Old Lion.
  
  His soon to be good father was a monumental bore, who only seemed interested in assuring him of his daughter"s beauty, fertility and obedience. He had to laugh at that last bit, "obedience"? The man obviously did not know his daughter at all if he thought she was obedient, she was not some spoiled brat from what little he knew of her so far, but she was strong willed and knew her own mind well enough. She would not be a meek wife, forever only doing her husband"s bidding, no, she would challenge him for power in their marriage, and he wondered why this gave him decidedly mixed feelings. On the one hand he hated the fact that he was being forced to marry a Lannister and thus he resented the girl, who was a few years older than himself in actuality, but the fact that Cerenna Lannister did not even pretend to be meek or all compliant like he would have expected of a southron wife was interesting to say the least.
  She was beautiful, there was no denying that, any man would be delighted to have her as a wife for that alone, and he was not immune to her physical charms, the bedding would be at least made easier with a fair maid to lay with. But, every time he lay with her he would see those emerald eyes and that golden hair and know he had been beaten, that he had not avenged his father, that he had given up a crown for the gold of Casterly rock.
  
  Just then a servant announced that the food was ready and for the Lords and Knights to take their places at the tables and be served. He was to be seated at Lord Tywin"s right hand side and the mug before him was filled from a pitcher by Lord Tywin, the dark, strong ale of the Westerlands filling the mug. Taking a long draught, he watched as trenchers laden with the wild boar were served to them, there was a noticeable lack of serving wenches, none in fact, a state of affairs lamented by some and even loudly commented upon by others, Lord Edmure among them.
  
  Above the din of men eating Lord Tywin had just turned his icy gaze on Edmure who had instantly stopped japing about the lack of cunny to dip into and returned to his food, his face slightly reddened.
  
  "I apologise for my uncle Lord Tywin, he, he can talk without thinking sometimes...."
  
  "The opposite is true with you Lord Stark" replied Lord Tywin, his voice deadpan "you brood too much, it will spoil your enjoyment of life..." He took a long drink from the ale, it was much to his taste, at least he and the Old Lion shared that in common, as he marshalled his thoughts for a suitable reply.
  
  "You think yourself a failure, and that you are being bound with chains of gold to the Lannisters, and it is eating away at you Lord Stark. You and I, we are Great Lords; though we cannot be friends, we share the same burdens of our status, the same concerns for our realms and people. I am to be married to your sister and you to my niece and thus end a ruinous war that has cost us both much. You have secured the future of House Stark, you return to Winterfell with everything you had before the war in terms of your House"s power and position, and gained a beautiful bride from the most powerful House in the Seven Kingdoms. Kill the boy Lord Stark, become the man you have to be."
  
  Arrogant old fucker, thinking he could tell him what to do, like he was one of that cowed bunch who called themselves his banner men! ""Kill the boy "eh? Is that what you did, when you became the Lord of the Westerlands?"
  
  "Aye, and I was younger than you when I went to war against my own vassals" the Old Lion replied, something of fierce pride leaking into his voice, as he methodically ate his way through the meat on his trencher.
  
  "You talk of what the North has gained, but we have lost much, my father"s life for one, one of my sisters still missing, tens of thousands of dead, and, and having to bend the knee to the Lannisters..."
  
  "You bent the knee to Tommen Baratheon, or if you prefer, to the Iron Throne, your father was an honourable man, but that, combined with the stupidity of Robert Baratheon got him killed. Kings Landing is no place for a Stark."
  
  "Is it a place for my sister?" he could not help but blurt out.
  
  "The Lady Sansa will be a Lannister, with all the power and protection that being a member of my House entails. And your sister is no fool, she learned to survive in kings Landing when she had not a single friend in the place, worry not, Lady Sansa will thrive, and of that I am sure. "
  
  Yes, he thought, if by thrive you mean birth Lannisters, but he said nothing out loud.
  
  The Old Lion"s gaze had softened slightly at the mention of Sansa, and with a somewhat wistful tone of voice he said "it is a pity your father did not refuse King Robert"s request, then mayhaps none of this would have happened."
  "My father obeyed his King Lannister...." Robb hissed back.
  
  "Just as I"m sure you will Lord Stark" came the cold reply, any trace of softness gone from the stern visage of the Old Lion.
  
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  Ever fancied being Tywin Lannister? Well now you can find out, courtesy of The Lion in Winter
  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Melisandre I
  
  "And you are sure about this my lady?" asked the man she had once believed to be Azor Ahai, his face stern and set.
  
  "The flames have shown it, there is no mistaking their message."
  
  Lord Stannis pondered this, the muscles in his jaw bunching and moving under his skin, his eyes never leaving the painted table.
  
  His onion knight, Ser Davos looked at her keenly, but said nothing; she kept her face blank, letting only determination show. The onion knight mistrusted her, hated her even, especially after the battle of the Blackwater, but he, like all of them, had their part to play in R"hllor"s great plan.
  
  "Your flames misled me before my lady, you prophesised a great victory on the Blackwater, and yet all I knew was defeat in the end, explain to me if you will that?" Stannis growled, his face dark with rage and anger.
  
  She knew he would react this way, it did not take seeing things in the flames to know of this, and she had pondered and plotted on how to best handle this inevitable situation when it arose.
  
  "Indeed, you were prophesised a great victory and your rightful place upon the Iron Throne, but other forces are at play, forces hidden by dark magics from my sight and the sight of R"hllor. It was only when they acted, when they were present at the Battle of the Blackwater Bay did I become aware of them, and by then it was too late. Be grateful R"hllor was able to save you from the trap of the janus, for it was his plan to kill you my Lord."
  
  "Who, or what is this janus you speak of?" asked Lord Stannis, anger boiling inside him, she could feel the fires of R"hllor burning within the man she had once believed to be Azor Ahai, he was still a chosen of the Lord of Light, just not the chosen.
  
  "A creature of myth and legend, a terrible, unnatural merging of two souls in one body, able to see the twisting paths of past, present and future, a creature of ravening lusts for power and position. Lord Tywin Lannister is the Janus, he
  is no longer just a man, he is a creature of the pit now, filled with dark magics that fuel and sustain him, and he grows stronger every day."
  
  "Hah! Tywin Lannister! Are you sure you are just seeing him as he is, as he always was?" barked Stannis, a bitter undercurrent in his voice.
  
  "I am sure my Lord, the Janus consumed Lord Tywin just before the Battle of the Blackwater, it was as yet weak and thus I could not sense its foul presence, it has grown exponentially in power since, I can scarce see it in the flames. All I see is darkness and shadow where Lord Tywin should be....."
  
  "And so you want me to abandon everything, and go on this wild goose chase to The Wall and beyond?" replied Stannis, getting some measure on control on his raging emotions.
  
  "Yes, this is what must happen, the Great Other is rising, the Wildlings who live beyond The Wall are massing to try and break through The Wall to avoid being consumed by the Great Other. The Nights Watch cannot hold The Wall against them, you must go north."
  
  "To aid the Nights Watch?" asked Ser Davos, his voice as neutral as he could keep it, but she could sense the undercurrents of hatred in his rough, flea bottom accented voice.
  
  "No Ser Davos, the Wildlings must be let south of the Wall, and in return they will acclaim Stannis as their King and Lord, they will be his army to replace the one the Janus and his demon Imp of a son destroyed on the Blackwater."
  
  "An Army of wildlings, and in the North? What use are they to his Grace, the North will never stand for it, Lord Robb Stark is on his way back to Winterfell with his Army, bolstered by a Lannister wife and thousands of Red Cloaks!"
  
  "My Hand has the truth of it my Lady" growled Stannis in response, "what you see in the flames scarce makes sense...."
  
  "And yet that is what the Lord of Light shows me, I have seen a great battle in the snows, between the forces of light and those of darkness, I have seen the wildlings fight alongside the Nights Watch, seen the hordes of the dead pass The Wall. This is the Great War your Grace, the only war that matters!"
  
  Stannis pondered the great painted table for a few minutes of silence, well partial silence; the sound of him grinding his teeth could be faintly heard.
  
  "Leave us Ser Davos, the Lady Melisandre and I have much to discuss."
  
  "Your Grace" the old smuggler bowed to his King but gave her a look of pure, unadulterated hatred as he left.
  
  "My Hand does not like you, nor does he trust you" announced Stannis when they were alone.
  
  "He does not, but it is of no matter, the Lord of Light guides his actions also, though he would reject such an explanation if put to him."
  
  "Do we all dance to your Lord of Light"s fancy then my Lady?" asked Stannis, once more his anger blazing within him like a holy flame.
  
  "We do, some of us know it and accept it, most do not and even if they did would reject the truth, fewer still are granted visions in the flames of what is required of us" as she spoke Melisandre edged closer and closer to Stannis, until she stood directly before him.
  
  "I grow tired of your God"s supposed benefits, my fleet is burned, my army scattered and defeated, all I hold is this island, plus a handful of the houses that have traditionally leaned more towards Dragonstone than Kings Landing, and a scattering of Stormlander Houses. Most of my vassals have deserted me, being granted pardons left right and centre by Lord Tywin, which the majority have been only too eager to agree to. And now you want me to abandon Dragonstone for some vision you saw in the flames and head to the North?"
  
  "No your Grace, I want you to follow your destiny as has been revealed to me by R"hllor" Melisandre replied, not in the slight bit conflicted that she was lying to Stannis Baratheon, and not troubled by the fact that she could see nothing of his future in the flames, only that of a youth called Jon Snow.
  
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  Sansa XVI
  
  The four girls who were to be wed stood waiting just outside the great doors of the Sept of Baelor, herself, the two Lannister sisters and Roslin Frey, the sounds of the crowds cheering washed over them, but Sansa barely heard it, only noticing it at the very edges of her consciousness.
  
  The two Lannister girls were dressed alike in matching white, high collared gowns, which were threaded with gold and embroidered with rampant lions, crimson cloaks over their slim shoulders. The blonde sisters had their hair done up in similar, if simple styles, braided around their heads but with some free to fall around their faces, both also wore flowers in their hair.
  
  Myrielle was the more classically beautiful of the two sisters if she was forced to consider it, Cerenna was the more striking of them though, in a rather severe way. But her mother had commented that Cerenna had better "child bearing hips" than her younger sister so there was that she supposed.
  
  Roslin Frey was wearing a heavily embroidered gown of browns and greens, with her hair tied up into a bun at the back of her head, but which let her hair fall down her back and over her shoulders. Her dress was cut low enough to show a considerable amount of her chest, the tiny Frey was certainly not lacking in the size of her teats Sansa noticed, the slightest twinge of jealously flashing through her mind.
  
  She was dressed in a sheath gown of pale grey, embroidered with snowflakes in silver thread, over her shoulders was a stark cloak, trimmed with wolf fur, her hair was gathered into two braids that were wound around the back of her head. She was taller than the Lannister pair by a good few inches and she felt strangely good about that fact, glad for what she had once cursed as excessive height and awkwardness had instead changed into a confidence in her own flesh.
  
  She noticed almost absentmindedly that the three other girls were nervous; the Frey chit in particular looked like she had been struck insensate by a blow to the head and wore a look of complete shock on her face. She on the other hand felt no nerves, no trepidation, oh she knew what was happening, what all this represented, but it failed to touch her. This was not how she imagined she would feel on her wedding day, but then again, what she had believed were the idiotic fantasies of a girl. These other three girls might be dreading their weddings, they might even be girlishly excited for them, but for Sansa it was much more complex than that.
  
  What was about to happen to her was part penance, part punishment, part revenge and part something else entirely, something that she had been completely surprised by. She had offered herself to the Old Lion to save her family, to save herself from Joffrey, and to punish herself for her stupidity and betrayal of her father. And while all these still held true, she had come to realise that marriage to Tywin Lannister also held advantages that she had not considered, advantages that had become more and more evident over the weeks and moons since she had first proposed their union.
  
  For it was a union that she proposed, not one foisted upon her by her brother or mother, a small, but not insignificant victory she thrilled in. Secondly Lord Tywin was the most powerful man in Westeros, and marriage to him would bring her power also, and she would have some manner of agency in her own right as his wife. Her husband to be had already been married and would thus know well the manner of things between husband and wife, and if Lady Genna was to be believed Tywin was not unacquainted with the contents of the Lyseni pillow book. This brought a slight flush to her cheeks at this; she cast it from her mind as swiftly as she could, but a lazy heat spread through her belly as she reminded herself that finally, despite his age, Lord Tywin was not an unhandsome man, tall, broad of shoulder and taut of stomach. He was not unpleasant to look upon, and he was a man, a proven Lord and warrior, not a boy like, for instance Loras Tyrell. She marvelled at how she had once swooned at the knight of flowers, how young and immature he now seemed to her, a boy she realised, not a man.
  
  A gaggle of Septons and Septas surrounded them, intoning prayers and anointing them with holy oils, when they were finished their escorts stepped up to bring them into the Great Sept and to their respective husbands. The Lannister"s girls father, Lord Stafford Lannister took his daughters arms, a Frey banner man took hold of Roslin Frey"s arm and Greatjon Umber strode up to her and offered her his arm.
  
  The Greatjon was his usual gruff, untactful self, remarking to the Frey girl that her husband"s height was no concern because "all girls are the same height lying down". He thought this a great jape, guffawing loudly despite the poisonous looks being given to him by the Septa"s, Septon"s and the Lannister girls.
  
  She glared at the Greatjon and the smile was quickly wiped from his face, and a somewhat chastened Greatjon Umber took her arm and they strode through the opening doors of the Sept of Baelor. The Greatjon could however not hold his tongue and he mumbled "bloody southron idolatry, statues and fookin" perfume, blasphemy, that"s what it is, blasphemy..."
  
  She ignored the Greatjon"s mutterings, apparently he had been loud in decrying the ban Lord Tywin had put on a "bedding ceremony" for any of the couples, stating that it was bad luck not to perform the bedding ceremony. The Greatjon had muttered this within earshot of her betrothed the previous morning as they had broken their fast and partaken of the gifting ceremony between the couples and their families. This had elicited Lord Tywin to turn his gaze to the Greatjon and as he held the northern Lord"s gaze a hushed silence had fallen, whereupon Tywin had simply stated that any man or woman that laid a hand unbidden on a Lannister, be they a Lannister by blood or marriage, would soon experience rains weeping over their halls.
  
  Into this suddenly tense atmosphere Lord Tyrion exclaimed "at least there are no musicians present or my father would be calling for them to play that ghastly song!"
  
  When Lord Tywin gave his son a brief smile everyone took that as permission to burst into laughter and the tension dissolved, but none forgot the point that the Old Lion had made, there would be no bedding ceremony.
  
  The Sept was crowded with the great and good, though the Lords of the Vale and Dorne were noticeably absent, her mother was there among a gaggle of northern Lords, a rather strained looking smile on her face. Her mother would probably never reconcile herself to what was happening today, her two eldest children marrying into a family that they had been at war with a few short weeks ago, and one which her mother blamed for the death of her husband and the crippling of her son.
  
  She moved her eyes to gaze back ahead of her, up on the steps her brother Robb stood, wearing dark grey Stark garb, his cloak closed across his chest with two sliver headed Direwolf clasps, despite protest from the Septons Grey Wind was curled up to one side at the base of the steps, seeming to be blithely unconcerned by the whole affair and apparently dozing.
  
  Lord Edmure was dressed in Tully blue and had a rather stupid grin on his face, her brother Robb looked stern as he always seemed to.
  
  Beside these two stood the Lannister men, the dwarf Lord Tyrion, wearing crimson and gold and towering above him, the Old Lion himself, resplendent in a doublet of scarlet broadcloth, closed with five golden lion clasps, trousers of black wool and polished black boots. He was not wearing his chain of office, neither was Lord Tyrion wearing his badge of the Master of Coin, but then Sansa supposed neither needed to wear their badges of office for none could mistake who they were.
  
  And none could mistake who was the power here either, the Old Lion radiated power, raw, blazing power and an aura of complete and utter satisfaction with all he surveyed and controlled. Around his shoulders was a cloak made of cloth of gold, which would soon be draped around her shoulders.
  
  As she had descended the stairs she had noticed Lord Tywin"s eyes settle on her, ignoring all others, and now she returned his gaze, never leaving his as she drew nearer, keeping her blue eyes locked on his green/golden ones as she crossed the Sept and ascended the steps to him.
  
  As she stopped on the wide landing before him she was sure she saw the smallest of smiles flicker on his face, and she was sure she caught a sparkle in the depths of the Old Lion eyes. Each girl went to their respective husband and their escorts retreated back down the steps, and the High Septon started droning on, mainly about the sanctity of marriage and that the four marriages being performed here were of great importance for the peace and prosperity of the Seven Kingdoms.
  
  Eventually they got to the exchanging of vows, four other Septon"s did the actual work while the High Septon intoned the words, and they all said their words, Sansa feeling a strange calm as she said her words and kept her eyes locked with Tywin"s.
  
  Then came the cloaking ceremony, Lady Roslin having to kneel to allow Lord Tyrion to place his cloak around her slender shoulders, she shed her Stark cloak and Tywin draped a golden cloak around her, and it was done, she was a Stark no longer.
  
  Tywin had bent to kiss her and her lips had tingled at the contact of his lips on hers, a not unpleasant kiss she mused as the expected round of applause thundered through the great Sept of Baelor. She remembered little of what happened next, the greeting and mingling with Lords and Ladies, firmly ensconced on her husband"s arm, and then it was time to retire to the Red Keep for the marriage feast.
  
  The feast was being held in the great dining hall of Maegor"s Holdfast, it being just the right size for the number of guests, several hundred in all. Twenty eight courses were to be served in all, not including the desert courses, and soon the hall was abuzz with conversation and the sounds of people feasting. Her husband was very attentive towards her, much more than he had ever displayed before, and she liked the novelty of it, he was not playful nor did he jape, like Lord Edmure seemed to be doing with his wife. But he was pleasant company and he often held her hand and smiled at her when their eyes met. Lord Tyrion was concentrating on getting as drunk as he possibly could while ignoring his tearful Frey wife and her brother seemed to be struggling to engage his new wife in conversation.
  
  Tywin, noticing the looks she was giving the others, leaned closer to her and spoke into her ear, his breath hot on the skin of her neck "well my lady wife, what do you make of your fellow newlywed couples?"
  
  She wondered briefly if her husband would always be testing her, evaluating her on how she evaluated others, then she dismissed this concern, of course Lord Tywin would test her constantly, for he was the Old Lion, and this was his way.
  
  "Lord Edmure seems content with his jolly wife, and she with him. Lord Tyrion seems to be intent of drinking so much that he will be insensate when the bedding comes, something I thought only nervous brides were wont to do. My brother seems ill at ease with the entire concept of being married, though his lady wife is doing her best to humour him and both are at least trying to be pleasant and polite to each other."
  
  "Hrmmm, and you my lady, what would others make of you, sat beside your Lord husband?"
  
  "Many would see only what they wanted to see, a dynastic marriage, obviously foisted upon a reluctant young girl by the victorious party in a war. They would see her annoyed mother and hope to exploit that to undermine the pact between the two houses, assuming that the girl herself is either clueless or likely powerless. What a few might see is the fact that neither party to this marriage seems to be overly concerned about what others think, nor that the girl does not act with trepidation, fear or horror, unlike Lord Tyrion"s wife, who makes little effort to hide her tears. Lady Roslin, when asked by Lord Tyrion why she was crying replied that they were "tears of joy" but I doubt that is the case."
  
  She could feel the slightest of grins on her husband"s face at this, though she could not see it as she was still gazing ahead at the panoply of guests eating and drinking and generally being merry. "The Frey chit is done an incredible honour in marrying into the Lannisters, certainly one old Walder could never have expected from me. She will soon cease her tears if she knows what"s good for her, and had better at least make some pretence of opening her legs willingly to my son; I won"t have the Frey"s insulting my blood" the Old Lion growled, while keeping his voice pitched just above the roar of the feast.
  
  "I cannot speak for my good sisters sense on this matter my Lord, nor would I care to comment on Lord Tyrion"s expectations of his lady wife doing her duty by him" she replied coolly, before she would have felt sorry for Roslin Frey, would even have pitied and understood her fears and her tears. Now? Well now she had little sympathy for Lady Roslin, Lord Tyrion was a Lannister, had a powerful position in the government of the realm, her and her children by him would lack for nothing. The Old Lion"s younger son was witty, honourable and had a kind heart, would the Frey chit prefer some idiotic Lordling who looked good on a horse instead?
  
  Were the roles reversed would she be happy with Lord Tyrion? No, probably not she was honest enough to admit to herself, but then again, she had selected the man she had married, and for her own reasons. She was not a pawn, not a chattel to be sold, she had escaped that fate, and the only price had been her father"s head. The "only price" she mused sourly, that was price enough, that and the beatings and humiliations that followed, but she had to pay that price, and pay it in full, with the required interest.
  
  "And you Lady Sansa, what of your duty to your Lord husband?" asked the Old Lion, his voice low and level.
  
  She turned her head towards Tywin and held his eyes "My duty is the price I pay willingly to save my family, my duty is the act of honouring my husband and bearing his heirs."
  
  The faintest of smiles ghosted across Tywin"s face at this, he leaned forwards and for a second Sansa thought he was going to kiss her, instead he placed his mouth beside her ear and whispered "clever girl."
  
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  Think an SI into Ned Stark with a Homo Drakensis twist sounds like fun? Well the Black Wolf [NSFW] is the story for you then!
  What would you did if you woke up in Westeros and discovered you had been subjected to an enforced gender change? See the adventures of The Littlest Lioness for all the delightful details...
  Ever fancied being Tywin Lannister? Well now you can find out, courtesy of The Lion in Winter
  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Bryer III
  
  "Twelve tuns of Braavosi brandy for consignment to Seaguard and onwards to Lannistport, likewise fifty one hogsheads of Tyroshi sweet wine. All to be consigned to bonded storage awaiting cartage to Seaguard, came ashore from the knarr Grace of the Seven, out of Maidenpool, sign or make your mark here" announced the bored clerk, Bryer singing the name of the fictitious factor he was portraying.
  
  Bryer handed over the payment for storage of the cargo in the high security bonded warehouse that resided beneath the western tower of The Twins, along with the faked bill of lading and other documentation associated with the various sized barrels.
  "Here" the clerk said as he handed back his documents after they had been stamped and had a wax seal attached, along with a pass that gave him access to the bonded storage.
  
  Bryer nodded in reply and headed out of the offices that were in a building set against the inside of the outer walls of the western keep of the Twins, and strode over to where his merchandise was loaded onto carts. He watched as it was taken into the secure warehouse under the looming tower of one of The Twins, trying to show only as little nervousness as was warranted, given the supposed value of the goods he was responsible for.
  
  The Frey"s made coin not just from their bridge over the Green Fork, the road of Seaguard was among the best in all of Westeros and significant traffic went up and down it to the port town that surrounded the western of The Twins, which was called Seaport. There was another town around the eastern of The Twins, called Riverport, and between them and the bridge they were the biggest trading nexus in this part of the Riverlands.
  
  And the Frey"s made coin hand over fist from the towns, both in terms of taxes and in the provision of all the services associated with ports, much traffic for the western coast of Westeros preferred to use the Green Fork and the road to Seaguard as opposed to the route around Dorne. For one it avoided the perennial problem of piracy in the narrow sea, especially around the notorious Stepstones, and despite the Frey"s tolls and taxes it was still highly competitive, especially for trade with the Westerlands.
  
  Maidenpool was the other major port in the trade that went up and down the Green Fork; oceangoing ships would load and unload there to and from smaller ships able to navigate the Green Fork. Some ocean going ships went further upstream to Saltpans or even to Darry to load or unload, but the majority did this in Maidenpool due to its cheaper port dues and its better port facilities.
  
  There had long been a proposal for a canal between Seaguard and the Green Fork, which would of course join the Green Fork at Seaport, but nothing had ever come of it for various reasons.
  
  Bryer followed his cargo into the warren of storage rooms under the Keep, and once he was satisfied that all the barrels were stored correctly he watched as the Frey Guards locked up the doors and handed him a key to the lock.
  He was now supposed to depart to Seaport and begin negotiations with the mule and oxen train teams who would carry his goods down to Seaguard for onwards shipping to Lannisport. The merchant he was supposedly representing regularly consigned cargo"s to Lannisport via this route, and the value of his cargos meant that he often stored them temporarily in the most secure, and thus the most expensive bonded warehouse available, the one below the western Keep of The Twins.
  
  Sauntering out of the large entrance in the Keep that serviced the warehouse Bryer made for the gates and showing his pass to the guards he exited the castle and made for the centre of Seaport and he searched for a tavern or boarding house to spend the night. After rejecting several candidates he selected a tavern that met his needs and he paid over the coin for room and board, and settled down in the tap room, ordering food and a flagon of ale.
  
  As was common many of the serving wenches would not be averse to taking a tumble with customers for enough coin but Bryer was uninterested, despite the obvious charms of the buxom blonde who served him. He was dressed in clothes appropriate to his disguise, fine bit not lordly garb, and he did not look out of place in the tavern, which served Merchants and their Factors mostly.
  
  As he ate his meal he never relaxed for one second, his eyes always roving over the assembled crowd, looking for patterns, for covert glances his way, but thankfully finding none. Not that he felt secure, to him there was always the concern that he was being watched, that other players knew of his activities. So all he could do was to take every opportunity to reduce the chances of discovery and compromise, like for example the fact that he was clean shaven now and he had died his hair a muddy brown.
  
  Finishing his meal he retreated to his room and waited, reviewing in his head what was to come next, his sources were confident that there would be a feast tonight, with the majority, if not all the male Frey"s present at the Twins invited. The Twins were not identical internally, despite being almost identical externally, the castle on the Western side of the Green Fork was where Walder Frey spent most of his time, his quarters and the main hall were located there. This was convenient for his purposes and meant that the method to be used tonight was both logical and likely to be a great success.
  
  Equally important for his Lords plan was the fact that the Maester lived in the western Tower and the Frey"s had their Library and main offices also in the western tower, all in all a perfect combination for what was about to take place.
  Bryer held no reservations about what he was going to happen, he had been given a job by his Lord and it was his duty to carry it out to the best of his abilities. There was no place in his heart for regrets, or sentimentality, this was what he did, if his master wanted the Frey"s dead then so be it.
  
  Exiting the Tavern after dusk had fallen he made his way to back to the western keep, showed his pass to gain admission at the gate, did the same at the entrance to the warehouse under the keep and finally reached the storeroom assigned to him.
  
  There were two Frey guards patrolling this section, who looked quite bored with the whole affair, he pulled out a small bottle of Brandy from the sack he had slung over his shoulder, telling the guards that it was the same vintage that he was shipping. The guards gleefully took the bottle from him, thanking him for his generosity and he entered the storage room, locking the door behind him.
  
  He removed a lantern from his sack and lit the candle inside, closing its glass panels and setting it on top of a stack of cloth, well away from his barrel"s.
  
  He wiped his hands on his trousers, they were suddenly damp, he was nervous as what he was about to do required a delicate and deliberate touch, and probably not a little bit of good luck also.
  
  Though his cargo was just that, Brandy and sweet wine, each barrel contained a smaller barrel inside it, each one filled with sand to cushion its true contents, a jar of wildfire. This complex arrangement was the only safe way to transport wildfire, or at least that was what the Wisdom had assured him, and so far, the substance had not exploded.
  
  But now it was time to make sure that it did explode, and all at once to ensure the destruction of the western keep of The Twins. So he set to work, each tun sized cask had a tierce sized barrel inside of it, while each hogshead sized barrel had a rundlet sized barrel inside it.
  
  As per his instructions each hogshead was stored upright, he took out a crow bar and began lifting off the lids of each barrel, the smaller barrels inside were mounted almost flush with the top of the larger barrels they were contained in. Carefully lifting off the top of the smaller barrels he methodically removed each jar of wildfire and carefully set them against the larger barrels containing the Brandy.
  
  With the final jar of wildfire he spilled its contents all around the stack of twenty wildfire jars, laying a stream of the vividly green liquid across the floor, noticing where it pooled and formed puddles. Taking out a short candle he lit it from the lantern and with shaking hands placed it into the middle of a shallow pool of wildfire, his breathing coming in short gasps as he fought to keep his hands steady.
  
  Stepping back from his work he was satisfied, the candle would take an hour to burn down and ignite the wildfire, plenty of time to make his escape. Easing the door open carefully he spied the two guards, swiftly strode past them and out of the gates and into the outer courtyard, he picked up faint sounds of revelry and music from high above, the feast was in full swing.
  
  Making his way out of the castle he moved off in the direction of the docks, ducking down an alley he quickly changed clothes into much poorer clothing, and pulled a cloak around him, before setting off again.
  
  Reaching the docks he made his way along them until he found what he was looking for, a small rowboat with two men waiting in it, he exchanged the correct greetings with them and he boarded the boat, which rowed him out of the harbour and alongside a ship anchored out in the roadstead.
  
  The ship was the same knarr that he had travelled in to The Twins; she was loaded with grain and timber for Maidenpool. Climbing aboard he nodded to the master who cast off and his crew hoisted sail to move away downstream. A combination of the current and a freshening breeze saw them make good progress until behind them the darkness was split by a sudden blaze of green hued light.
  
  Bryer looked on impassively as a huge column of green flame roared up into the night sky, he could see the walls of Keep at the base of this towering jet of flame, before they disintegrated and blew apart, just then the sounds of the explosion of the wildfire reaching his ears. The sound was tremendous, and was accompanied with a blast of hot air that staggered the boat and near knocked him from his feet.
  
  Robb VI
  
  His mind wandered, he tuned out what his bride was saying to him and instead concentrated on looking around, but without seeming to do so, or at least not being obvious about it. Lord Edmure was sharing some joke with his wife, who giggled appropriately and batted her eyelashes at him, seemingly demurely but he suspected that the blonde was playing his fool of an uncle. Lord Tyrion was slumped drunkenly beside his wife, who looked to be on the verge of tears again, her face pale and pinched looking, despite the fact that Lady Roslin was a rather attractive girl. Mayhaps he should have married a Frey after all, if Lady Roslin had been his bride he would have been happy, certainly happier than with the icy Lannister chit he had just married.
  
  His sister sat serenely beside the Old Lion, whose paw barely left its position covering his sister"s left hand, the Hand of the King not being shy about showing his claim on his newest possession. They made an odd couple he mused, both appeared to be above showing emotion, or any shred of affection for each other, though they did not show any hostility either, the pair of them appeared to be the very soul of southern nobility and reserve.
  
  He reached for his cup, filled with dark Westerlands ale, and he took a deep draught, savouring its rich, malty taste, noticing that his mother still had a scowl fixed on her face, and he could not help but let a little bit of resentment creep into his mind. His mother....she had ill served him with advice he had come to realise, and seemed to be unable to reconcile herself to the terms of the peace they had concluded with the Lannister"s. True, it imposed strict terms on the North with respect to alliances and marriages, but other than that there were many advantages overall for the North, and for House Stark. But that assumed the he, unlike his mother, could overlook the negatives of the alliance, the swearing of fealty to a King he knew was a bastard and to agreeing to his and Sansa"s marriages. His Lord father would never have agreed to any of this, of that he was sure, but his father was dead, and he was Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North now, and it was up to him to lead the North.
  
  The coin and aid in expelling the Greyjoy"s was a bonus of course, as was everyone knowing that his good brother was Lord Tywin Lannister.....which though advantageous, still stung a little. The fate of the Bolton"s for example, massacred by the Mountain and his men on the orders of Lord Tywin after they had maimed Ser Jamie, that, that rankled still. Even though the Bolton"s had betrayed him and were plotting with Lord Tywin, he was the Bolton"s Liege Lord and it was down to him to see justice done, not Lord Tywin.
  
  He and the Old Lion had exchanged heated words on this very subject when the Hand of the King had revealed to him exactly what had happened to the Bolton"s, along with a shocking revelation about the actions of Lord Roose"s bastard, Ramsey Snow. He had decided to deal with this immediately on returning North, and he was already wondering how to parcel up the Bolton lands among existing Lords, and maybe even creating a few new noble houses. He wished his brother Jon had not joined the Nights Watch, for he would have gifted Jon the Stark name and given him lands to rule in the former territories of the Bolton"s.
  
  "You seem pensive my Lord husband" his wife said in a level voice beside him, he turned his head to look more fully at the girl he had married a few shot hours ago. She was older than him, twenty and one and had all the looks of a Lannister about her, though he had to admit that she was not unattractive, indeed the very opposite. Bedding her would be far from a chore, at least in the physical sense, though he did wonder how she would react to the act itself, would she lie there all passive and accepting? Would she be unable to keep her disdain for him from her face as he mounted her? Or would she be a lioness, like her House"s sigil, fierce, proud, mayhaps even biting and scratching? At the thoughts of this he felt himself begin to stiffen rapidly despite his swift attempts to clear his mind"s eye of increasingly heated visions.
  
  "I have a lot on my mind, I am sorry" he replied, not really meaning it, though he did make sure he made eye contact with her, and kept his gaze fixed on hers, her emerald eye"s seemed warmer than he had ever seen them before, softer, welcoming.
  
  "It is your wedding feast, you should enjoy yourself, mingle with your new family, your banner men, not brood up here like you are regretting this already?"
  
  "My Lady, that is unkind" he replied, forcing the anger from his voice at the presumptuous of this girl.
  
  "But is it true my Lord? I doubt the bedding to come will be your first time, so that cannot be the reason you are so sullen and withdrawn?" she asked, a grin tugging at her mouth and mirth flashing in the depths of her green eyes.
  
  Robb mulled over his response to this, he could be curt and annoyed with her, like he wanted to be, to lash out in temper, but this girl was his wife, and she had about as much of a say in all of this as he had, which was to say none.
  
  "I, I tend to worry too much, I was just thinking about the wars to come against the Iron Born and rooting them out of the North, and taking vengeance for Bran and Rikon...." he hissed, he had not meant to say this but somehow it had spilled out of him, hot and sour and full of hatred.
  
  The girl"s hand reached for his and her tiny, delicate, soft hand lay across the back of his hand, a delicious thrill coursing up his arm at the contact "This is I am sure no consolation, but our first two sons should be named Bran and Rikon, to honour the memories of your slain brothers." Cerenna"s green eyes looked huge in the candlelight, and he could detect only sincerity and kindness in them, something he had assumed he would never see.
  
  He started a bit, almost pulling his hand away from where she rested hers atop it "thank you" he whispered, and he meant it.
  
  "But for there to be Stark son"s there must be bedding"s, and probably lots of them" she grinned mischievously at him. "I grow tired of all of this my Lord husband, take me to our rooms, it is time we became truly man and wife."
  
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  Tywin VI
  
  "See Lady Sansa is prepared for bed" I commanded the two ladies in waiting, striding into my bedroom and standing by one of the large windows, there was only a solitary candle lit in the room and outside the sky was clear. The view was out over Blackwater Bay, the sky was strewn with millions of stars, something which a modern person in the 1st world will rarely appreciate, light pollution being what it is.
  
  The night sky is not the black so many are familiar with; instead it is a deep purple colour and the handful of stars that are typically visible the sky is instead full to overflowing with pinpoints of light. And soaring from left to right in a great arc, what looked like the plane of the galaxy, of whatever galaxy Westeros was part of. It could have been the Milky Way for all I knew, but still, its beauty was awe inspiring, Tywin had been rather contemptuous of me the first time I had gazed at the heavens above Westeros in awe, he had rapidly shut up and changed his tune as I shared my somewhat considerable knowledge of astrophysics with the Old Lion. The distances, energy output and sheer awesomeness of stars, along with the revelation that all elements came from the fires of stars blazing deaths humbled Tywin Lannister. Yes, I was a complete geek, and had never been ashamed of it ever, working with techies most of my life meant that being able to "out geek" them was a positive. What had really blown my mind, and Tywin"s was the graphic I saw that showed how big the area of visible stars was against the size of the Milky Way galaxy, and almost insignificant yellow dot against the vastness of the spiral arms of the Galaxy.
  
  Letting my mind wander I pondered the perennial topic and favourite when one finds oneself "self inserted" as it where, the so called "uplifting" of Westeros. It was certainly something I wanted to do, and Tywin saw the advantages of some of what I proposed, and we even had some concrete plans in that regard. But the bulk of any major changes, with a few exceptions, were going to have to wait until after the upcoming "War for the Dawn II". Though there was quite a bit that would have to be done prior to this, already plans were in motion on this front, proto industrialisation had already started in the Westerlands, along with the first experiments with the Four Field rotation system and some animal powered "mechanisation" - seed drills and the like.
  
  But it had been politics and securing stability first, not that I expected everything to go to plan, this was Westeros after all, but so far I did not think I"d, sorry, I mean we, as Tywin scoffed in my head, had not done too badly.
  
  Of course getting married to a teenage red head babe had not been part of the plan, and initially neither of us had exactly been enthusiastic about the offer and its ramifications and butterflies. But both of us had come to see its benefits, initially the plan had been to make a grab for Margaery after the Purple Wedding and have Sansa marry Tommen. That pair of twits would have been perfect for each other, but then Sansa had displayed an unusual level of competency at the Game of Thrones such that it had piqued our interest.
  
  Sansa shipping that inbreed cunt Joffrey to the Tyrell"s without a seeming ounce of remorse was what sealed it, well for Tywin at least, with that action Sansa became a worthwhile candidate for his next wife. Making the whole deal conditional on Robb Stark actually acting rational had been a more difficult sell on my part to Tywin. The Old Lion had been determined to carry out the atrocity that was the Red Wedding, even with the fact that Sansa would be his wife; I had to labour the point with him repeatedly that the fear instilled by the Rains of Castamere were different from the hatred that would ensue after the Red Wedding. Ultimately it came down to persuading him that his legacy was best served by my proposed course of action as opposed to his.
  
  Of course Tywin being Tywin he insisted upon roping in Robb and Edmure into the deal, Tyrion was something I added in; why not let the Imp have the sweetest, and prettiest of the Frey"s? And as to the elimination of the Bolton"s and the Frey"s? Well who the fuck would care about either of them anyway, and many would see their elimination as a positive thing.
  
  But enough of that, behind me I heard movement, I turned around and beheld my new wife, Sansa. She was dressed in a nightgown of sheerest silk and lace, embroidered with flowers that hid the curves and sweeps of her body.
  
  "My Lady" I intoned, though a throat suddenly dry and tight with desire, Sansa"s stunning beauty almost rendering me speechless. Huge blue eyes in a high cheek boned face, generous, ever so kissable lips, thick, lustrous auburn hair, free now to fall in waves around her shoulders, tall and gracefully slim, yet with enough curves to entice and excite.
  
  "My Lord" she whispered, letting her eyes fall from my face, she did not know what to do with her arms and hands, they moved from her side to her front to clasp, before she moved them back to hang at her sides.
  
  "Now that we are married, when in private or in public where propriety allows it, you may call me Tywin" I said, taking several steps towards the girl, who flinched slightly at my approach.
  
  "Yes, my...I mean Tywin" Sansa almost whispered as I took another step towards her.
  
  "Sansa" I said, feeling how the name felt on my tongue, liking it, liking the way the girls breathing was becoming shallower, noticing the two points of her nipples through the fabric of her nightgown. Maybe it was just the cool night air bringing them to hardness but I reached up a hand and gently cupped her left breast through her nightgown, my thumb rubbing lightly over the erect nipple.
  
  "Ahhhhhhh", the tiniest of moans escaped the girl"s mouth; I felt the shiver travel through her at my touch, noticing Goosebumps erupt along her uncovered arms.
  
  Removing my hand from her breast I unclasped the fastenings on my doublet, shrugging it off and then unlacing the cotton shirt beneath, pulling it over my head, noticing that Sansa"s eyes were roving over my torso, darting between each scar and old wound. Tywin"s torso was fairly battered, sporting a fine array of battle wounds; the most prominent was a long scar on the right flank that dragged up over the ribs.
  
  Sansa reached out, almost stopping her hand, but continuing until her fingertips brushed the puckered skin, the contact made me suck in a breath, and twist slightly away from her, not in pain, but because that brush of her fingers had been so intense, so powerful.
  
  "I"m, I"m sorry" Sansa stumbled over the words, whipping her hand back, "I did not mean to hurt you!"
  
  "You did not hurt me" I growled, noticing that my tone of voice scared the girl, lowering and softening my voice I continued, "your touch was too pleasurable Sansa."
  
  The redhead"s eyes widened at that, a look of wonder passing through them, a shy smile tugging at her lips. "Really? The Old Lion afraid of the touch of the wolf maid?"
  
  I smiled at this and took a few steps back, feeling the bed against the back of my upper thighs, I sat down and tugged off my boots and socks, watching Sansa take a few hesitant steps forwards towards me.
  
  Standing up I unbuckled my belt and pulled down my trousers and smallclothes, to stand naked and well, rampant before Sansa. Tywin had not been hiding behind the door when the gods had been handing out cocks, he was massive, long and thick at with balls to match, and still capable of attaining an excellently hard erection.
  
  The girl gasped at this unsheathing, Tywin chuckled darkly in my head, and I knew I would have to take things very easy, least I terrify the girl further.
  
  Sansa for her part tore her gaze away from my member and undid the laces at the throat of her night gown, pulling the garment over her head until she stood as naked as I.
  
  She was simply perfect; sweeps of pale, taut skin, softened by female curves, pert breasts high upon her chest, a small and sparse tangle of curls the same shade as the hair on her head above the slit of her sex.
  
  "I, umm, your sister, the Lady Genna, she insisted I get a Lyseni waxing" she stammered, noticing my gaze linger between her legs "do, do you not like it?"
  
  "No, I love it" I husked in response, taking a step forwards to tower over the girl, hands reaching into her thick hair to pull her head back so that her face looked up at me.
  
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  Robb VII
  
  He awoke with a start, not knowing what had caused him to awake so suddenly, his heart hammering in his chest, the unfamiliar surroundings giving him a start, until his mind settled and he realised where he was.
  
  The Red Keep, he was in the Red Keep, in Maegor"s Holdfast, and in the bed chamber he was sharing with his wife of several hours.....who was sprawled across his chest and upper stomach, fast asleep from the cadence of her breathing.
  
  The bedding had not been unpleasant, far from it in fact, Cerenna had not been in the slightest bit shy, nor had she been reluctant. Instead his wife had matched him in her desires, unafraid, wanton even, urging him on inside her, wrapping arms and legs around him, meeting his thrusts with abandon.
  
  A grin flickered across his face, he had taken the Greatjon"s advice and had a "tactical wank" on the morning of the wedding, so that as the Greatjon had remarked "you don"t blow your load getting out of your breeches instead of deep in your wife"s cunny!"
  
  His wife had triggered something in him, something wild, abandoned, and possessive, their union had contained little of restraint, nor of love as he understood it, just an overwhelming need to join physically.
  
  Not that any of what had transpired had been un-enjoyable, and Cerenna had seemed to be equally aroused during and satisfied afterwards, but their sex had seemed to him frantic, overwhelming, and almost desperate in its intensity.
  If this was to continue he would find himself pleased with this aspect of his marriage at least, though he doubted it would make up for the not inconsiderable disadvantages of having wed a Lannister brought. For despite the sweet release afforded by pumping his seed into the moaning, thrashing blonde he could not help but remember that he was a defeated former King, and that he had knelt to the killers of his father.
  
  It was still a harsh and bitter knot in the back of his throat, something which he did not know if he could ever overcome, ever be able to leave in the past.
  
  Cerenna"s golden hair was splayed across his upper chest, tickling him slightly; he reached up and took a handful of it into his fist, bringing it up to his face gently to inhale its scent, before letting it fall through his fingers. Gold, gold to imprison him, golden coin from her family and golden hair upon his wife"s head....and between her legs as before his mind"s eye flashed the images of their lovemaking, their bodies meeting, the dark hair at the root of his pillar meeting the golden hair at the juncture of Cerenna"s legs, her maiden"s blood slick on her thighs and splashed across his groin.
  
  He felt himself stiffen at these wanton thoughts, shifting gently so that his member was not poking against Cerenna"s side. He, he had not actually been decided upon what to do about his Lannister bride, even after their wedding and at the feast he had felt his familiar companion, that sour, bitter resentment of all things Lannister fill his thoughts.
  
  But it had been Cerenna"s offer to name their sons after his slain brothers that had shocked him out of his brooding, her offer was made fairly and openly, he could detect nothing of falseness or design in her words. And her proposing that they leave the feast to consummate the marriage had further served to push his gloomy thoughts into the recesses of his mind.
  
  By the time they had reached their bedchambers he could feel the thrilling tension between them almost sparking in the air, and once alone they had needed no words, tearing at their clothes in a frantic scramble to reveal their bodies to each other.
  
  Naked Cerenna was glorious, narrow of waist, wide of hip and heavy of breast, with pale skin that seemed to glow in the low candle light. Her golden hair cascaded over her shoulders and down her back in thick, glossy waves once she had released it from the pinned up style she had worn it in, a thatch of equally golden hair nestled between her legs.
  
  As his gaze roved over her body he noticed that her eyes were making an equally frank appraisal of his naked form, and she took two swift steps forwards to stand with her body lightly pressing up against his. The contact of her heated flesh against his sent shivers coursing through him, her fingers danced across the muscles of his arms and chest, leaving tingling Goosebumps in their wake.
  
  Despite a raging, unquenchable desire to take Cerenna he took his time before splitting her maidenhead with his cock, exploring her body with fingers and lips and tongue, feasting on her sopping sex, the scent of its musk intoxicating as he lapped and kissed at its folds. Cerenna arched her back and pressed herself into his face, grabbing his hair and hoarsely moaning and calling out his name, driving him on to lash his tongue faster and faster over her opening.
  
  Cerenna cried out and her body thrashed under his ministrations, achieving her peak noisily, satisfied he moved away and positioned himself at her opening, her eye"s regarded him heavy lidded and unfocused, but she hissed "yes", and he pushed his way inside her, meeting the resistance of her maidenhead but not stopping, breaking her and pushing forwards into her grasping, slick tight depths.
  
  A sharp intake of breath accompanied this, Cerenna"s face twisting from slack bliss to taut pain, but he did not stop, he could not, his desire was inflamed, unstoppable, he had to possess this girl, he had to take her. He drove in and out of her, slowly at first, but as she started to make little moans of pleasure he increased his tempo, until she was thrusting back at him with abandon, gripping at his sweat slicked body and thrashing beneath him.
  
  Cerenna even bit his shoulder, drawing blood but he did not care, slamming himself into her until he could hold himself no longer and unleashed a long and judderingly pleasurable stream of his seed into the heated and sated core of his wife.
  
  Maybe marriage to a Lannister was not such a bad thing after all?
  
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  Ever fancied being Tywin Lannister? Well now you can find out, courtesy of The Lion in Winter
  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Tyrion XV
  
  "My Lord!"
  
  "Yes?" replied Tyrion, noticing that the Maester was slightly out of breath.
  
  "An urgent Raven for the Hand of the King, it bears the stamp for absolute priority!"
  
  "Give it here" he commanded, his hand outstretched as the Maester hesitated " The Lord Hand is indisposed this early, he will no doubt break his fast soon, but in the meantime, as Master of Coin I will take the message."
  
  The Maester seemed to hesitate for a few seconds before handing over the small, tightly rolled up piece of paper, it was sealed with the sigil of the Office of the Hand of the King, but also bore the double lightning bolt symbol that denoted absolute priority.
  
  He was out in the cool of the morning, the sun having just risen, dew still sparkled on the grass and the air was crisp and seemed not to yet have the stench of Kings Landing hanging from it. He was taking his morning walk in the gardens of the Red Keep, but he was making for the Tower of the Hand with a bunch of scrolls for his Lord Fathers attention.
  
  He wondered if he should open the scroll, then decided against it, instead resuming his stroll, though this time he cut short his normal walk and instead made straight for the Tower of the Hand. These last few days since his marriage he had found himself rising early and being at his desk before his Lord father, who now seemed to prefer lying abed with his new wife to getting up at the crack of dawn as had been his wont.
  
  Not that he could blame him, Sansa Stark was a beautiful young girl and his father had sported the look of a particularly satisfied cat these last few days. No doubt if he wanted to he could have gotten more details by paying for the servant"s gossip but he refrained from doing so, he did not want to be reminded of his own, rather unhappy marital situation.
  
  He had drunk himself insensible at that sham of a multiple wedding, unable to face the revulsion and despair in the Frey girl"s eyes. His Lord father had admonished him for his drunkenness stating "you seem rather drunk", to which he had replied "rather less than I had planned to be, is it not a man"s duty to be drunk at his own wedding?"
  
  To which his father had given him a version of the usual lecture about family and duty, though this time spiced with concerns about his ability to perform his duty as a husband and thus the speed by which he would put a child in fair Roslin"s belly.
  
  The fact that the girl in question had been seated beside him did not seem to deter the Old Lion one bit, his father"s looming presence seeming to terrify the girl even further.
  
  On retiring to their chambers the girl had been shaking with fear and he had declined to perform his duties as a husband, instead passing out dead drunk on a low couch. He had avoided Roslin for most of the next day, instead burying himself in his work when he had been awoken by the servants with food to break their fast.
  
  The Master of Coin had quite lavishly appointed quarters in the complex of buildings that made up the royal treasury, his offices were but a short walk away, yet the fair, and exquisitely petite Roslin managed to avoid him for most of the day and for most days subsequently. Her behaviour had become tiring, not to mention the girls refusal to entertain his husbandly rights, petite and all that Roslin was he was not about to hold down his own wife and force her.
  
  He did not even have Shae to fall back on, having finally decided that he had tweaked the Old Lion"s tail more than enough with her presence, Shae had been dispatched back to Lys with enough coin to live the rest of her life in comfort and some little style.
  
  Passing through the gate house in the wall surrounding the Tower of the hand he quickly made his way up the stairs to the offices of his Lord Father, the guards admitted him to the Hand"s Solar, where to his surprise he found his father already seated at his desk.
  
  "Tyrion" his father said by way of greeting, his eyes flicking downwards again to the document he was reading.
  
  "Father, an urgent raven for you, and those spending figures that you wanted" he replied, approaching the desk.
  
  "Leave them on my desk....you are up early...." he remarked as he took the raven"s message and broke the seals, reading what was written there.
  
  "Lots of work to be done father, Baelish did leave quite the mess after all."
  
  "More important than putting a Lannister child in your wife"s belly?" his father growled, raising his gaze to meet his.
  
  He did not reply to this barb, instead just holding his father"s gaze, anger seeming to shimmer in the air between them.
  
  "You still have quite a bit of work on that score, like actually taking her maidenhead?"
  
  "I will not rape her!" he spat out, incensed at his father"s suggestion.
  
  "Your marriage is not consecrated in the eyes of Gods nor men if you don"t put your cock in her Tyrion, need I remind you of that fact?"
  
  He ignored his father, anger simmering and boiling in him, a sour taste at the back of his throat.
  
  "Here" his father tossed him the raven"s scroll "that might change your mind regarding fucking your Frey wife!"
  
  He plucked the scroll deftly out of the air and read it, incredulity spreading across his face.
  
  "Walder Frey and his bunch of squabbling weasels are dead, killed in a wildfire explosion at the Twins, the Lady Genna"s husband and children might be the only Frey"s left alive, your wife is very lucky to have been in Kings Landing and getting married to you, I"d remind her of that fact if she proves reluctant to open her legs....."
  
  Tyrion pondered his next words for a second or two, then decide he had nothing to lose "and how will you play this father, who will you pin the blame for your actions on this time?"
  
  His father"s eyes glinted like the steel of a blade being unsheathed "why the Frey"s themselves, there are documents showing them purchasing consignments of wildfire from the Pyromancers Guild recently. Apparently House Frey was mightily impressed with your use of the substance in defeating the fleet of Stannis Baratheon, but alas the Frey"s were too cheap to pay for a Wisdom to oversee the proper storage and care of the stuff, and thus a tragic accident ensued."
  
  "Why?" he asked. Oh he knew why, his father had hated Walder Frey since his sister Genna had been married to a Frey, and he was sure that his father had been up to something with both Lord Roose Bolton and possibly also with the Frey"s. Both were the most likely House"s to betray King Robb and in the case of House Frey they had the issue of a betrothal that the Young Wolf had seemed disinclined to honour. But he wanted to see what twisted reasoning his father came up with for slaughtering virtually an entire House, even if they were a pack of snivelling weasels.
  
  "Do you know what nemesis means Tyrion? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent, personified in this case by a horrible cunt, me."
  
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  Sansa XVII
  
  Sansa rolled over in the bed, languidly stretching out her arm, expecting to find the warm bulk of Tywin beside her, instead only finding empty space, she opened her eyes, the Hand"s bedchamber was still in semi darkness but she could see the grey light of dawn seeing from behind the drawn curtains.
  
  She rolled over into the space where Tywin would normally be, the cotton bed sheets were cool, no trace of his warmth remained, but his scent lingered on the cotton, faint but distinctive.
  
  Marriage to the Old Lion had not exactly been what she had expected, and it had started on the night of their wedding, with a bedding that had been quite the surprise. The actual act itself had held less terror for her thanks to the Lyseni pillow book Lady Genna had given her, she had known what was to take place, but knowing and actually experiencing, well they were two very different things entirely. For example, a naked Tywin had not been altogether unattractive, quite the opposite if truth be told, neither did the many scars on his flesh detract from his looks one bit, in fact to her mind they seemed to enhance it. She knew what men looked like naked, her and Jeyne Poole had spied on a few servants and stable boys bathing in the hot pools in Winterfell, though Lord Tywin"s manhood was definitely much bigger than anything her and Jeyne had glimpsed.
  
  A smile came to her mouth as she remembered in her mind"s eye that night, how Tywin had taken her to bed and brought her to heights of pleasure she had not known existed. Her husband was obviously skilled at pleasuring a woman, the way his hands, mouth and tongue had drawn ecstasy from her flesh.
  
  And when his tongue and hands had drifted lower and lower until he had touched and kissed her in her secret place, the pleasure had been so unexpected, so overwhelming, that she had been unable to stop such wanton moans from escaping from her mouth. Her moans had only spurred Tywin on to greater effort and she had peaked uncontrollably and unexpectedly, shrieking with surprise as much as pleasure.
  
  As the visions flashing across the eye of her mind became increasingly heated Sansa let out an involuntary moan, her hands moving across her flesh, leaving trails of tingling pleasure in their wake.
  
  For the last few mornings Tywin had stayed late abed with her, not leaving his chambers until the sun was well risen, but not this morning, and she let her lips pout slightly, she had liked waking up beside Tywin, his presence comforting and warm. She liked lying in the Old Lions arms, who could be surprisingly tender and gentle, though at other times he was, not gentle....and she blushed deeply knowing that she liked that. She especially liked it when Tywin took her from behind, pulling at her hips and her hair, frantic to burry as much of his considerable length inside her, hurting her as he hilted himself within the sheath of her wet, pliant flesh.
  
  But she liked being hurt like this, liked the thought of Tywin using her roughly, it aroused her, overwhelmed her with a frantic desire to be taken like this, to know that she made Tywin lose his control so completely. In a similar way she enjoyed pleasuring Tywin with her mouth, the act had fascinated her when she had read about it, and Tywin"s moans and shudders when she wrapped her lips around him sent little shivers through her with delight.
  
  Her pleasant daydreams were interrupted by the ladies maids entering Tywin"s bedchamber and proceeding to chivvy her out of bed and into a bath, before dressing her for the day, now that she was the Lady of the Hand and Lady of Casterly rock her wardrobe had expanded quite dramatically, Tywin placed certain demands upon her with regards to style, cut and colour, favouring her in more figure hugging dresses than she would have thought. Golden and crimson was more in evidence in her new clothing, but Stark grey and Tully blue was also much in evidence, with lace and silks replacing wools and linens.
  
  Making her way to the Solar of the Hand she found her husband at work, but with a table laid out for them to break their fast. Tywin rose and gestured to the table for her to sit and join him; a scroll still in one hand, as she sat Tywin bent down and planted a light kiss just behind her ear, a spot that she had found to be exquisitely sensitive.
  
  Letting out a tiny moan she tilted her head backwards slightly, Tywin"s lips nuzzling her neck before he gave her a final kiss on her now heated flesh and he took his seat opposite her. The meal was sparse, as she had discovered, her husband did not like to eat a heavy meal to break his fast, freshly baked rolls, butter, jam, and fresh fruit was the fare laid before them.
  
  Her hair was done up in one of the complicated styles that were favoured at court, leaving her neck bare, something Tywin had expressed a like for, and she studied the man she was married to as he ate methodically and read the scroll.
  
  He was as tall and broad shouldered as any man she had met; age did not seem to have had much effect upon him, for he carried himself with the taut, lean carriage of a man much younger than his years would indicate.
  
  Picking at her repast she wondered idly if his seed had quickened inside her yet, he had certainly spilled himself inside her enough times that this was a distinct possibility, but her musings were broken by Tywin"s Maester arriving with a small bottle of a clear liquid.
  
  Tywin thanked the man and dismissed him, turning his gaze to her and saying "this is moon tea my lady, would you be so good as to drink it."
  
  She was shocked by this sudden turn of events and blurted out "why, my Lord, I mean...."
  
  "You are no use to me dead girl, you are young, mayhaps too young to bear my children. For now it is better to be safe than be sorry. You will drink the moon tea for the next several months at least, maybe even a year" he announced, golden flecked green eye"s boring into hers.
  
  "But my Lord, I mean, your, your heirs....."
  
  "Can wait my lady, I lost one wife to the birthing bed, I will not lose another."
  
  With that she realised the debate was over, she took the bottle and poured out its contents into a glass and drank the liquid, it felt oily on her tongue and had an acrid, bitter taste. Finishing the drink she took a drink of freshly squeezed orange juice to wash the taste from her mouth.
  
  "Good, once you have finished breaking your fast there is a lady waiting to attend upon you, she will assist you in becoming the Lady of the Rock" with that Tywin got up, gave her a quick bow and retreated to his desk and the mountain of documents that were piled there.
  
  Once she was sure Tywin was not watching her she let a pout rest on her face, she was being treated like a child by her husband!! But in the end, what could she do, refuse to lie with him? And cut herself off from such pleasure? And anger the Old Lion, the man about whom the Rains of Castamere were penned?
  
  She was a wife, it was her duty to bear her husband children, and if she did not fall pregnant with child soon no doubt tongues would wag.
  
  She could brood and sulk or she could get up and be about her business, she opted for the later, knowing that Tywin would not appreciate the former.
  
  Making her way to where this lady was waiting for her she beheld an older lady, green of eye and looking like she was of Lannister blood, but whose hair was snow white.
  
  The Lady gave her a curtsy and said "Hello Lady Lannister, I am Meera, I knew Lord Tywin"s first wife in my youth, now I have the pleasure to know his second wife."
  
  Meera"s smile was warm and pleasant; she was a slim woman who was wearing a simple dress and off white and had her hair pulled up into a severe bun.
  
  "Men have the battlefield to face and they train assiduously for its rigours, we women on the other hand have to face the birthing bed, and we too must prepare for its trials. I am here to train and strengthen your body so that you do not fail at the task of birthing Lord Tywin"s children."
  
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  Jamie II
  
  "Be careful with that, I should not have to tell you by now you know," Jamie hissed at the workmen, the scum of fleabottom and a levelling of the dregs of the cities prisons, as they ever so gently removed yet another jar of wildfire from the basement of a warehouse near the Mud Gate. The former were attracted to this most dangerous of work by the high wages being offered, the later by the prospect of reduced sentences.
  
  He, and the teams of workmen placed under his command, had been toiling for several months now, with the somewhat reluctant cooperation of the Alchemists Guild to remove the hidden caches of Wildfire that Aerys had stashed all over Kings Landing.
  
  They first had scoured the Red Keep and its immediate environs, unearthing a huge cache of what Tyrion was wont to refer to as pigshit, though he failed to see the joke, he still remembered Lord Rikard Stark"s screams as the wildfire had consumed him.....
  
  Once the Red Keep had been emptied of its hidden Wildfire stores it had been on to the Great Sept of Baelor, and underneath that great edifice another equally large haul of wildfire had been unearthed.
  
  After that the stashes had been of steadily decreasing size, and not every place where the wisdoms swore Wildfire was secreted had turned up to actually have the stuff hidden away, which seemed to Jamie"s mind to indicate that some of it had been stolen, but by whom he did not know.
  
  Anyway, he did not care much either way, he had been put in personal charge of this "clean up" and it helped him to forget about Cersei...
  
  Cersei.... his other half, the only person he had really ever loved.... bile rose in his throat at her memory. Why? Why had she been so godsdammed stupid? To think that she could play the Game of Thrones against their father of all people, and what was worse, to strike directly at their father"s legacy, or in this case his new wife Lady Sansa. Despite himself he shook his head at his twin"s utter stupidity.
  
  Cersei had hired some cut throat and had sent him to kill Sansa, the fool had been caught before he had a chance to even get close to Lady Sansa and had sung like Bealish had been rumoured to when put to the question, the tortures having been administered personally by his father.
  
  The look of sheer, utter hatred and anger on his father"s face when he had called Cersei and him to the Tower of the Hand several days after the attempt on Lady Sansa"s life had chilled him to the very bone. Unlike Cersei he had realised immediately what was afoot and he had steeled himself for what was about to happen, that he was probably about to add kinslayer to his nickname of kingslayer.
  
  Ushered into his father"s Solar he had been surprised by the presence of a number of Red Cloaks and that Sellsword turned Knight, Ser Bronn of the Blackwater.
  
  Almost before he could react steel was aired and his father growled "remove your sword and dagger Jamie, if you know what is good for you."
  
  Cersei, shock registering on her face blurted out "make no move, any of you!" addressing the Red Cloaks "your Queen demands it!" her voice rising shrilly.
  
  "Your word carries no weight here Cersei" his father replied coolly, his eyes never leaving Jamie"s.
  
  "Jamie, surrender your weapons."
  
  "I"d rather not, if you don"t mind father" he replied smirking and making sure he looked not the least bit concerned about the amount of steel pointing at him and Cersei.
  
  "What is the meaning of all this!" Cersei blustered, trying to regain some semblance of power and control over a situation that even he knew was far beyond that, for the Old Lion having his men bare their steel against you was never going to be a sign of good things.
  
  His father turned his head slowly to glare at his sister, he could see the muscles in his father"s neck and jaw tense and spasm as his gaze came to rest on Cersei. To him it seemed as if his father could not even speak, so great was the fire of rage burning in his blazing, gold flecked emerald eyes.
  
  "The meaning of this.....Cersei?" he asked his voice choking, before he regained control of himself, barely. "The cut throat you hired to kill my WIFE! THAT"S WHAT THIS IS ABOUT YOU STUPID GIRL!!!!"
  
  He took an involuntary step backwards at this; beside him Cersei cringed, seeming to shrink into herself, to make herself smaller to avoid their father"s wrath.
  
  "Lies!" she screeched, "lies father, all lies!! The Imp hired him! I swear it father! It was not me!"
  
  At this Tywin strode forwards, slowly, deliberately, like a lion stalking its prey. He tried to place himself between Cersei and his father but he felt the sellswords blade at his throat "Ah ah blondie, keep still now" Ser Bronn announced in a matter of fact voice.
  
  Tywin grabbed Cersei"s hair and twisted it viciously, causing Cersei to scream in pain, his father ignoring Cersei"s cries and hissing "disarm Ser Jamie, everyone leave us except Ser Bronn!"
  
  After his weapons were removed and the Red Cloaks trotted out Tywin said through clenched teeth "I know Cersei, I know everything, about your children, about what happened to Robert, everything...."
  
  "No, I, lies father, lies...." Cersei screeched in response, struggling to tear herself free of Tywin"s grip on her hair.
  
  "You must think me the greatest fool in Westeros Cersei, but I know you hired that cut throat to kill Sansa, just like I know everything else you stupid girl....."
  
  "Father..." Jamie finally found his voice, terrified of what his father might do next.
  
  "Don"t worry boy, I won"t become a kinslayer, no, Cersei"s punishment will be banishment from Kings Landing back to the Westerlands, she"s out...."
  
  "Noooooo!" Cersei sobbed at this, collapsing as Tywin released his grip on her hair.
  
  "You will remain here in Kings Landing as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, and you will dutifully fulfil you vows of that office" Tywin turned to address him, ignoring Cersei sobbing at his feet.
  
  Before he could reply his father added "Don"t make this any more difficult than it has to be Jamie, your sister tried to destroy us, our family, our name. I have given her mercy this time, because she shares my blood and my name, she will not get a second chance...."
  
  He jerked his mind back to the present, the last of the jars of wildfire were safely, if such a adjective could be used about wildfire, in the hands of the representative of the Alchemists Guild, and a heavy escort of Gold and Red Cloaks saw the various Wisdoms and their substance away and out of Kings Landing, to gods only knew where. His father knew no doubt; Tywin was probably planning on using the stuff at some future stage, probably against the Targaryen girl if she ever decided to reclaim her throne.
  
  "If she ever tried to reclaim her throne" he chuckled in the privacy of his mind, of course she would, and he wondered what his father would do then? Probably beat her he mused sourly, an assassin"s blade in the dark and then no more would the Targaryen name trouble the Seven Kingdoms, and much more importantly to Tywin"s blood, sitting as it did on the Iron Throne.
  
  Though he was Lord Commander of the Kings Guard that institution was currently in a rather sad state, he needed to recruit knights to bring it up to strength, currently Tommen was being guarded by Red Cloaks, men who answered to his father and his father only. It was not that he feared for his son"s life, but he wanted to regain some modicum of his old life and responsibilities back, and to exert himself against his father, in however little he might.
  
  He decided that he would start attending Small Council meetings, and that would stick in his father"s eye straight away, he would be bored out of his skull no doubt but nevertheless, it was something he felt he had to do.
  
  Equally he had taken up his duties to squire Tommen, his gentle and more than a little overweight son was showing some genuine promise with a blade, something he noted with no little pride. No doubt his father would dismiss it as just "the blood showing true" but he clung to it with a fierce pride he never knew he was capable of.
  
  With Cersei banished, the last he had heard of her was that she had not even made it back to Casterly Rock, falling seriously ill on the journey and she was currently being cared for in a Septry in the Westerlands. According to reports his sister"s already slender grasp on reality had slipped away completely and she had degenerated into a ranting, hateful wraith, unable to distinguish the terrors of her mind from the outside world.
  
  He was sure Tywin was delighted with this turn of affairs, in fact he knew he was as when the Tyrell"s had heard of this Olenna had immediately went to his father and announced that any possible match between Cersei and Willas could not be contemplated due to Cersei"s "fragile mental state". That his father had barely condescended to even pretend to be annoyed by the Tyrell"s actions told Jamie everything he needed to know.
  
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  Tyrion XVI
  
  Life, he mused, was just not fair, something he had long ago come to realise, but also something that had been bent on proving to him every day.
  
  Here he was, Master of Coin, reconciled somewhat with his father, sporting the valiant wounds he suffered in defence of Kings Landing, and married to a beautiful young lady, and yet still he knew life was not fair.
  
  And the chief source of his annoyance with his life was sitting right opposite him, meekly eating her dinner and trying her best to avoid eye contact with him. His wife Roslin Lannister, nee Frey was now the chief source of his displeasure with the entire world.
  
  Chiefly the fact that he had been forced to demand his rights as a husband from the girl, and continued to have to demand them ever since he had taken her maidenhead. His wife seemed determined to extract as little pleasure from their couplings as was physically possible, barely deigning to even look at him as he mounted her, turning her face away and only ever seeming to grimace or wince as he ploughed her tight, but still admirably wet, for a chit who seemed to not enjoy the act of sex, cunny.
  
  As it was obvious that his wife despised him, and especially seemed to despise his physical form he was equally as determined as her to give her as little of pleasure and comfort as was possible. She was a cunt to be fucked, a womb to be filled with his seed, a vessel for his children, no more, no less. If she persisted in hating him he would hate her right back, but with the added spice of getting to fuck her, to use her cunny as a sleeve for his pleasure, and his alone.
  He had come to take what little delight he could in his marriage from taking the girl as roughly and forcefully as possible, his not inconsiderable length and girth was obviously uncomfortable for as he thrust swiftly and brutally into sweet Roslin her gasps and cries of pain were music to his ears, as her body reacted despite his unwelcome intrusion.
  
  A part of him had come to realise that Roslin secretly liked being used like this, being degraded, and he did not know how this made him feel, for he did not want his wife to know anything of pleasure at his hands or cock. As she cared naught for him or his desires so he wanted to ensure that she felt naught, but in the end all this did was spur him on to take Roslin rougher, to degrade her more, to treat her worse than a two copper whore from flea bottom. And to use her as often as possible, only giving her cunny a break when her moon blood came, though even then he used her mouth instead, forcing her to swallow his seed despite her tears, her protests and her retching.
  
  Though it had to be said that fair Roslin had quite impressive breath control and a seemingly bottomless throat, something that had surprised him and which had led him to suspect that for all her supposed innocence and the evidence of her maidens blood coating his cock the first time he fucked her, that sucking cock had not been unknown to his pretty little wife.
  
  He had asked her about this very fact a few nights later, her moon blood having passed and he was mounting her from behind as was his wont, slamming himself into her with abandon, and she had surprised him by admitting that many of the innumerable Frey daughters preserved their maidenhood from their brothers, cousins, uncles and even sometime their fathers by offering up their mouths instead of their cunts. To hear such tales of depravity issue from the mouth of his oh so sweet, oh so innocent looking wife had sent him over the edge and he had spilled himself uncontrollably into her slick cunt. Whipping his cock out he had then forced Roslin to clean his softening pillar with her mouth, something she had been reluctant to do, but a few slaps and a firm grasp of her hair had induced her to comply with his demands.
  
  And his demand every night from then on, she would clean him with her mouth once he had spent himself, despite her increasingly feeble protests.
  
  He dragged his mind away from remembering their loveless couplings -he had wanted love, he had wanted respect, he had only ever wanted for a women to look upon him without disgust and revulsion, and not to have to pay for them to look at him with lust in their eyes.
  
  But no, Roslin was not that woman, of that he was abundantly sure, he had know it from the second he had laid eyes on her in the Great Sept of Baelor, her eyes had beheld him and she could not hide the revulsion that welled in her mind, he saw it clearly, and how it wounded him. Sansa Stark had gazed upon his father with love, of that he was sure. Robb Stark"s bride had looked upon him with a frank appraisement and an obvious like for what she saw. Her bubbly blonde sister had smiled shyly at Edmure Tully, but the look he had gotten from his bride to be had been one of horror and fear.
  
  And so he had went through the motions of the ceremony, his mind elsewhere, until at the wedding feast he had been able to drown his pain with his old friend wine, dulling the oh so familiar pain. That night he had been so drunk he had passed out on the floor of the room assigned to him and his bride, the next morning the girl had looked like a cornered mouse when he tried to make conversation with her.
  
  The next few days had been little better, Roslin shrank away from him when he tried to converse with her like he was some hideous monster, some slavering beast. Until after a few weeks of this he had finally had enough, and he had forced his duty upon her.
  
  He had initially hoped to be gentle with her, coaxing her and talking to her before during the nightly meal he had insisted that the two of them take every evening. It had been one of his attempts to break the ice with Roslin, that and showering her with gifts and presents, a new wardrobe for one, and gold jewellery to denote her status as a Lannister.
  
  But Roslin had barely thanked him, had even rarely worn the new gowns and dresses bought at great expense for her, instead preferring to wear the dresses that she had brought with her from The Twins, drab, shapeless things, which made her look like a drudge, and which were certainly not fitting for a Lannister woman to wear.
  
  Something which his father did not stint on mentioning of course, being the cunt that he was, and of course Lady Sansa was more than happy to wear a wardrobe that reflected her status and new family, though the northern girl did still wear her Stark colours on occasion, but made of fabrics and materials that reflected the gold of Casterly rock.
  
  And so finally it had become all too much for him, and he had torn Roslin"s night gown from her body in a rage at the chits utter unwillingness to accept her station and to accept that he was trying his level best to be as accommodating and kind as possible to her.
  
  That said night dress was made of heavy cotton and covered Roslin from throat to ankles only further fuelled his anger, he ripped it from her in a rage, uncaring of her screams or tears.
  
  Revealed in all her naked glory his sick lust pooled heavily in his loins, Roslin was stunning, petite yet perfectly formed, her teats large on her tiny frame, a slim waist and nicely flared hips, a tangle of dark curls hiding the secret entrance to heaven itself.
  
  She tried to cover her body with her hands; he slapped them away, and not gently either, eventually having to slap the chits face a few times to make her see sense. Pulling her legs apart he debated teasing at her slit and that little nubbin of flesh hidden among the folds of flesh of her sex, but as he gazed up at Roslin"s face only to find it turned away from him, buried in a pillow and a fan of her hair splayed across her cheek, he growled in anger.
  
  Positioning himself he gripped the girl"s legs and lifted them up, she did not resist and he pushed the tip of his cock against her opening, the girl was barely damp, no matter, her maiden"s blood would have to suffice. And with a swift thrust he shoved a not inconsiderable amount of his length into Roslin, breaking her maidenhead without pause, sliding roughly into her dry, tight depths.
  
  The sharp, scream of agony, followed by howling and sobbing only further enraged Tyrion, rather than pulling back he pushed himself even deeper, until he was fully sheathed in Roslins unwelcoming cunny, feeling the tip of his cock probe at her very depths. Urging himself deeper, he felt his heavy balls slap against her arse, hoarse cries of pain emanating from her hidden mouth, along with pleading sobs for him to stop.
  
  But her did not stop, instead sliding back, removing almost his entire length, before he slammed forwards again, banging the tip of his cock against the depth of her cunt, causing Roslin to yelp and buck, she squirmed, trying to lever herself up off his cock that was impaling her.
  
  Instead of letting her he grabbed at her hips and began to thrust brutally into Roslin, uncaring of her cries and protests, feeling the beginnings of moisture dampen her cunt, her body betraying her mind. With savage glee he pounded in and out of Roslin, concentrating totally on his pleasure until he could take it no more and with an agonising grunt he expelled his seed into his wife, enjoying a copious release that left him feeling pleasantly drained.
  
  As he began to soften he pulled out of Roslin, looking down to see his cock slide out of his wife"s cunt, slick with blood, her juices and his seed, more of which oozed out of her as he fully removed his pillar.
  
  Without a word he got up off the bed and went to the bathroom and poured some water from a jug into a bowl, and he used it to clean off his member, before he returned to their bedroom.
  
  Roslin was curled up on the far side of the bed from him, sobbing, he ignored her and instead went to a side board and poured a glass of wine, which he drank greedily, before her climbed into bed and despite the whimpers and tears of his wife, he rapidly fell asleep.
  
  And so this was how it had been from then on, he took his wife when it pleased him, and it came to please him every night, neither her protests nor her pleading stayed him, if the chit would not show him any love or respect he would likewise show her none.
  
  "My Lord husband" Roslin"s meek voice interrupted his musings.
  
  "Yes my Lady, what is it?" he asked, despite everything the social norms were still observed between them, he only abused her like a slut when he was fucking her.
  
  "I, I am with child, the Maester confirmed it today."
  
  "Well that"s good news, it will stop my father annoying me for a start" he replied, delighting in seeing a flash of pain flicker in the depths of Roslin"s brown eyes.
  
  "The, the Maester, he, well, he said that we should refrain from....from being as man and wife for a few moons turn, for, for the....good of the child."
  
  "Did he now, well that"s convenient for you is it not? But you still have your mouth and your ass with which to do your duty by your husband, I don"t think the Maester was talking about those holes now was he?"
  
  "My, my Lord, please, I have never, I mean, my ass.....you are too big...."
  
  "There is always a first time for everything my dear Roslin, luckily for you I am aware of the necessary preparations and cleansing that is required, and there is no time like the present my dear!"
  
  Outwardly he thrilled at the horror on his wife"s face, letting his face twist into a leering grin, he would enjoy the sure to be exquisitely tight ass of his little wife, while inside a tiny part of him quailed at the monster he had become.
  
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  Tywin VII
  
  I raised my glass in salute to Tyrion and Roslin, congratulating the happy couple on the announcement of their impending parenthood, about time Tyrion pupped that delectable little chit of a Frey, who looked none to delighted by the entire affair I could not fail to notice.
  
  Said former Frey chit was the image of Alexandra Dowling, and it had been a tossup between her and "fair Walda", the later was rather higher on the Frey totem pole but the cute one had been my favourite. Interestingly Tywin had not expressed much interest either way, while he appreciated the dynastic advantages of fair Walda he seemed rather disinterested overall. Probably because he had been planning to wipe out the bulk of the weasels anyway, and the matter of Tyrion"s wife was not of huge concern either way. All he cared was that Tyrion put children in her belly, and that they were not "stunted" as Tyrion was.
  
  As it was Eamon Frey was the presumptive Lord of the Twins now, though he did not have technically the best claim. However he had arrived at The Twins with several hundred Red Cloaks (under the effective command of Genna of course) along with a letter from Edmure Tully according him the title of the Lord of the Twins. Of course this had not had the slightest bit of impact on the chaos that had reigned in the aftermath of the unfortunate accident. Open warfare had broken out between the handful of surviving male Frey"s and the too numerous to count minor Houses that had blood ties to the Frey"s. Eamon (well Genna really) had imposed a swift end to the fighting, hanging as many of the claimants to the title of Lord of the Crossing as was needed until everyone got the message.
  
  Appeals to Edmure Tully to intervene fell on deaf ears, he was far too busy fucking his new bride, being completely enamoured by her golden cunt and the gold of her dowry no doubt.
  
  He put the fate of the Frey"s from his mind, Roslin was a Lannister now, and we both agreed that this was an honour barely deserved by the girl, she was the pick of the sorry bunch of drudges that had the misfortune to be fathered by the late Walder Frey and so should be bloody grateful for what had been bestowed upon her. Not forgetting that she owed her very life to the fact that I chose her as Tyrions bride, and still she seemed to be unable to be anything but a shy and timid mouse. Not forgetting that her marriage meant that Roslin and Tyrion were the heirs to Rosby, a not insubstantial Crownlands seat. Well technically the child in her belly was the heir, but how and ever, House Lannister of Rosby had a nice ring to it, either way, feeling Sansa"s arm on mine I put sweet Roslin from my mind.
  
  "I am so happy for Lord Tyrion and Lady Roslin" whispered Sansa in my ear, though I sensed a "but".
  
  "But" I whispered in response, pitching my voice so that Sansa could hear me over the hubbub of the meal.
  
  "They do not look happy Tywin, Lady Roslin is trying to look happy at the thoughts of being with child, but she is failing."
  
  "In that you are right my Lady, but the happiness or otherwise of my son is not my concern, only that his wife produces suitable heirs" Ah Tywin, you are always a cunt aren"t you?
  
  "And me?" Sansa asked, leaning closer to me, her lips brushing my ear, the tip of her tongue darting out to land a feather light lick on it "is my only role to produce suitable heirs?"
  
  Tywin would no doubt have replied in the positive, but instead I replied "among other things my Lady yes, though you do so enjoy the acts required to make heirs don"t you?"
  
  And she did, Sansa had blossomed into a voracious and inventive bed partner, and I was a happy man with the physical aspect of my marriage. Thankfully my, or was it our? Stamina was up to matching that of my teenage wife, for who would have guessed that the red headed wolf girl was a total screamer in bed, and who was not in the slightest bit shy about what she wanted when it came to being intimate.
  
  I, and Tywin were equally happy with Sansa"s blossoming in her role as someone we could hand over tasks to and know that they would be completed to our satisfaction, and our wife was an excellent source of Court Gossip, something that might seem trivial but which was interesting enough sometimes to warrant attention and even action on foot of it.
  
  I glanced over at Myrcella, recently returned from Dorne and much more grown up, though somewhat sullen, probably still pining for that Martell drip she thought she was going to marry. She was blossoming into a beautiful young woman, equal if not surpassing her mother at that age, and thankfully lacking any signs of the cuntish stupidity that marred Cersei. I had half a mind to take her under my wing and train her, or at least have Tywin sharpen her mind, in part to make up for the neglect of Cersei at that age.
  
  Though this might completely ruin a sweet natured and kind young girl, Tywin"s brand of realpolitik was rather harsh, and certainly not to the taste of most of Westeros. Maybe it would be best leave Myrcella well enough alone, the girl might be better off without the trauma of Tywin schooling her in what he required of her.
  
  But Tywin had plans for her of course, he had intended to use her to wed Harry the Heir and use this to assist in ousting Lyssa Arryn from the Eyrie, but my plan had come to fruition quicker, namely presenting (forged) evidence to the Lords of the Vale regarding Lyssa Arryn and her poisoning of Jon Arryn, along with Littlefingers confession that he fathered Robin Arryn. Thankfully Lyssa had already been so batshit crazy that she had alienated the Lords of the Vale to such an extent that they had deposed her and her whelp of a son, though tragically Lyssa Arryn had fallen through the Moon Door, dragging her son with her in the ensuing commotion.
  
  Such a tragedy, and now Harry the Heir was the Lord of the Vale and the ungrateful prick had rebuffed the offer of Myrcella"s hand in marriage, well Tywin was never one to forget or forgive a slight but I managed to convince him that this was only a modest setback and that we had more important issues to deal with. Though Harry the Heir would be dealt with in eventually.
  
  The Vale had been the most pressing threat after the signing of the treaty to end the War of the Five Kings, in fact Tywin had fully suspected Lysa Arryn to unleash the Knights of the Vale the moment she heard of it. Thankfully my missives had been enough to disrupt and distract the Lords of the Vale sufficiently, plus thanks to Tyrion"s assiduous digging and Littlefinger"s squealing I knew which Houses of the Vale were up to their necks in debt. Raven"s and letters to them reminding them of their precarious financial position and the fact that I effectively now held their loans had a remarkably cooling effect on the willingness of the Knights of the Vale to attack what was now a united and at peace realm.
  
  I turned my mind away from the Vale, it was a minor irritant for now and instead pondered the conundrum of Stannis Baratheon, who amazingly had taken off for the North a few scant weeks ago, surely that made no sense? Did it? The North was united now, Robb Stark having made short shrift of the Iron Born, Theon Greyjoy had been given a death according to the "Old Ways", which involved being tied naked to a weirwood and sliced to pieces slowly, Robb Stark making the first cut himself, and then anyone else who fancied a piece of the squid being allowed to cut him, the only condition being that you did not inflict a mortal wound.
  
  Ramsey Snow had also been dealt with, and on this I had Bryer"s assurances that his men had dealt with Ramsey, his men and his hounds, something for which I was very grateful for, you never let mad dogs live, you always put them down. A sentiment that Tywin was in full agreement with me on and when I had shown him the full extent of Ramsey"s derangement, oh how Tywin had not liked that scene where Ramsey raped Sansa, oh no, not at all...
  
  "Well father, I believe that I have carried out my duties, now what about yours?" Tyrion burped, interrupted my musings, he was drunk as a skunk, having dived head first into the bottle again, what was wrong with him? I had provided a decent wife for him, cute as a button and curvy enough to distract, along with the Lordship of Rosby, "Tyrion" I growled at him, giving him fair warning to shut up while he was ahead.
  
  Which he ignored, deciding that he should continue to harangue me over my inability to father an heir, Tywin bristled at this, and I was not overly impressed either, so I leaned closer to the drunken little shit and whispered, "another word out of your drunken mouth and I"ll have you sent to Dorne in the morning, minus your position as Master of Coin."
  
  Thankfully he got the hint and he slinked off without further comment, though I could see the unsaid question in Sansa"s eyes, she wanted to know when I would give her a child. Soon enough, but not yet, she was too young as of yet and I could do without the distraction of children, though noble parents seemed to have little day to day involvement in the rearing of their children. Plus I had no want to ruin her super hot body with a pup just yet, I far was too enamoured of her lithe limbs and taut flesh.
  
  Anyway back to musing and plotting, Stannis would find a united North as opposed to the fractured and devastated kingdom he found in the books, so what was he up to? I had to assume that it was the influence of that Red Witch of his, and I would need to plan accordingly, though what exactly was going to happen was anybody"s guess.
  
  The Greyjoys had been delivered a series of defeats at sea but nothing decisive so their temper tantrum was grinding on with little sign of it being resolved one way or the other. All I could hope for was that Euron Greyjoy did not turn up, but I knew that was wishful thinking, a character like that (in the books) was going to have a major, and probably catastrophic part to play. My bad for never properly reading the books or paying attention to what the fan sites had to say about Euron Greyjoy.
  
  "Tywin..." whined Sansa in my ear.
  
  "My Lady?" I asked, Tywin was annoyed at the interruption, but I did not mind.
  
  "You are ignoring me, lost in your thoughts, stop being Hand of the King for a moment, please?"
  
  "Very well" I replied, turning to face my teenage wife, who as ever looked stunning, dressed in one of what had become her signature sheath dresses, her hair done up to expose her long, swan like neck. The dress was pale grey with hints of gold and crimson in the embroidery scattered across its surface.
  
  Sansa gave a little pout before beaming a genuine smile at me, the girl was adorable and sweet natured, but with a sharp enough mind and her experiences had made her nobody"s fool. We engaged in small chat and pleasantries, the kind of frivolities that Tywin had utterly no time for, but which I indulged Sansa in on occasion, knowing that she was still only a young girl, for all her being the wife of the Hand and Lady of Casterly rock.
  
  A raven had arrived from Winterfell a few days ago, Robb"s wife was with child and Sansa had been delighted with the news, this plus Tyrion"s announcement had probably gotten her ovaries in a spasm. He would have to make sure she took her Moon Tea this month, for it was still far too dangerous for her to get pregnant to his mind.
  
  To our great surprise Sansa seemed to have a head for figures and for the rather arcane science of economics, or what passed for economics in Westeros, and she had become fascinated with the experiments in agriculture I had introduced in the Westerlands. So she was busy implementing them on the Kings own demesne outside Kings Landing, though to almightily indifference from the varied Lords, Lordlings and Landed Knights of the Crownlands. Sansa had passed from idle chit chat to enthusing about her latest work on this, apparently the Kings own fields could expect to provide enough food for the entire Royal House Hold with plenty spare to be sold for profit, a notable first in the history of the Royal demesne, which normally was a money pit.
  
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  Varys III
  
  "It seems I owe you my life Lord Varys" intoned the silver haired girl sitting regally upon the stone bench atop the flight of broad stairs in the room she had taken as her throne room in Mereen.
  
  He gave Danaerys a bow of his head in response, he was still far too busy assessing the girl who would be queen to respond as of yet.
  
  "Master Illyrio speaks highly of you in his letters; indeed he has explained how you assisted him in sheltering my brother and I from the knives of the usurper."
  
  Again he kept his own council and merely bowed in response, his mind poised and calm.
  
  "And yet you served the usurper for all of his reign, likewise you served his bastard first born son, and the current usurper, this bastard child Tommen?"
  
  "I did your Grace, I served until I could serve no more, until my position was untenable and I was forced to flee Westeros and reaffirm my loyalty to the true ruler of Westeros, Queen Daenerys Targaryen, first of her name."
  
  Left unsaid was the ignoble fact that he had fled Westeros at the sufferance of Tywin Lannister, he had been in the act of fleeing Kings Landing, and in good time, not in desperate haste to keep his head. And as he traversed the tunnels beneath the Red Keep he had run full tilt into that Sellsword turned knight called Bronn, who with a coterie of Red Cloaks had "escorted" him to a meeting with the Hand of the King.
  
  The meeting had taken place in the tunnels, in a space barely wider than the normal tunnels, he had been tied to a chair and Lord Tywin had stood off to one side of him, barely in his line of vision, even if he turned his head as far as it would go. A single candle illuminated the space, the Lord Hand stood shrouded in darkness against the wall, and as his men left them to their privacy Lord Tywin said nothing, the silence stretching out, begging to be broken.
  
  He knew what the game was here, so he resolved to say nothing, but it seemed Lord Tywin was equally determined to play this game of silence. And so the minutes dragged on until eventually with a sigh he decided to end this game, "My Lord Hand."
  
  "Lord Varys" replied the Old Lion, his tone dry and seemingly disinterested.
  
  "To what do I owe the pleasure of your company" Vary replied, deciding that one of his trademark titters was probably out of place given the seriousness of the conversation they were about to have.
  
  "I was quite insulted that before you leave the service of the iron Throne for the service of the Breaker of Chains you did not at least drop by to have a pleasant conversation with me."
  
  "Pleasant conversation" was it, more likely him trying not to scream as his flesh was carved up by the torturers of the Black Cells. "I felt that mayhaps such a conversation might be too trying for the both of us, but I see you are determined to force the issue my Lord Hand."
  
  "Indeed I am, now tell me Lord Varys, what will come of your plans when the lad who thinks he is Aegon Targaryen meets her Grace Danerys Targaryen hrmmm? And what when the lad fails to be able to bond with one of her dragons? What then Lord Varys?"
  
  He kept his mouth shut and his face as calm and unruffled as ever; he would never leave this place alive so there was little point in humouring the old Lion.
  
  "Pity about fake Aegon Varys, the lad will in all likelihood be eaten by one of Danery"s dragons, that will rather put a dent in your plans now won"t it? She is unlikely to marry him, even if he is not turned into a snack by that trio of fire breathing lizards. For as we both know he"s not a Targaryen, a Blackfyre maybe, but not a Targaryen. And you cannot guarantee that he has enough of the blood of old Valyria to enable him to control dragons. Magic Lord Varys, magic was the random variable that you did not account for."
  
  "I will admit I have never had a fondness for magic my Lord Hand" he replied icily, hating the fact that his plans were unravelling. He had hoped to flee to Essos and see what could be rescued of his plans, Danerys birthing dragons had upset everything. And damm the oh so smug, oh so superior old Lion, for being right.....
  
  "No, ever since a sorcerer cut off you manhood and fed it to the flames you have had a well cultured dislike for magic. Unfortunately for all of us, and you in particular magic is making a comeback, and we will all have to learn to deal with it."
  
  "Alas, I fear others will have to deal with the consequences of magic my Lord, I doubt I will have the time left to me to have to confront magic in all its devious ways."
  
  "Maybe, maybe not Lord Varys. Your plans were to have Danerys return as the Queen to your fake Aegon, who has been coached and trained oh so carefully by Lord Jon Connington. The pair of you, and that fat cheesemonger from Pentos planned to put the "perfect Prince" on the Iron Throne, and that is what you have been working towards for many the year. But that plan is in tatters, you cannot risk fake Aegon being exposed now can you? So you were planning on running off to Essos to see Daenerys for yourself, to get a measure of the girl, and of course to offer your services as her Master of Whispers. And to see if she could be controlled and guided, and if not eliminated so that plan A with your fake Aegon could be put back into motion. Am I speaking the truth so far Lord Varys?"
  
  He did not deign to reply to the Lord Hand"s mocking comment, instead calming his mind and preparing for what was to come, death certainly, but before that the most rigorous of tortures to wring from him all his secrets.
  
  He dragged his mind back to the present, noticing that Danerys seemed to considering what she had to say next. "You are a Master of Whispers, perhaps the most despised position in the direct service of a King, or Queen. Why should I accept you into my service, when you have served my enemies and were responsible for the knives of the Usurper that sought us out time and time again?"
  
  "Yes I sent those knives, for if I had not I would have been killed. But ask yourself this question your Grace, why did your protectors always know that those knives were coming? Why did those knives always fail to reach your or your brothers flesh? I made sure that they would not succeed, by warning your protectors and by making sure that the men sent were not of the necessary skill to succeed."
  
  "So you say" intoned Danerys, "I have nothing to base this assertion of yours on, only your word."
  
  "Indeed your Grace, but I come with something that you will find most valuable I believe."
  
  "Oh? And what is that Lord Varys?"
  
  "I bring Formal documents from the Hand of the King for the surrender of the Iron Throne to you, the abdication of King Tommen and the restoration of the Targaryen dynasty."
  
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  Sansa XVIII
  
  It was funny thought Sansa that of all the things she had found strange about being married to the Old Lion it was the little things that she had found the most unusual. Case in point, the preference of Tywin to sleep naked, a practice that while she could see the benefits of, she could not bring herself to do. Despite the fact that she regularly ended up naked herself, still she always went to bed wearing a nightdress, though the nightdresses she wore now bore little resemblance to those she once wore. With little or no need to provide warmth this far south, even with autumn having been announced by the Citadel it was still pleasantly warm enough during the nights in Kings Landing, her night attire was more, well decorative if she had to be honest.
  
  The sheerest of silks, fine lace and the thinnest of cottons made up the material of her nightgowns, often barely concealing her flesh beneath, and most of them daringly short, none of them reaching below her knees. Tywin approved of course, though he did regularly ask her to discard night attire altogether and sleep naked like he did, but she demurred.
  Beside her Tywin slept, his chest rising and falling regularly, in the darkness his features were indistinct, ghostly. She had awoken a few minutes ago, something dragging her out of her sleep. She tossed and turned for a while, pondering various things in her mind; it refused to rest and let her sleep.
  
  Her thoughts ranged from the benign regarding her duties as wife of the Hand, she ran his household and made sure that everything functioned smoothly, and Tywin had been nothing but complementary on how she was doing in respect to this. Her mind drifted over the comings and goings of the court and the latest gossip, how the Seven Kingdoms was settling down after the War of the Five Kings, how King Tommen was growing taller and stronger every day. And how the Tyrell"s were positively salivating at the thoughts of Margaery being finally wedded to Tommen. Lady Olenna and her court had remained in the Red Keep this past year, refusing all polite invitations to return to High Garden, insisting on waiting for the wedding and staying stubbornly put.
  
  She knew Tywin was very frustrated with the antics of the Queen of Thorns but he seemed to have given up on ejecting her from Kings Landing, an unlikely defeat for the Old Lion she mused. In the next few months Tommen and Margaery were sure to be wed, and it would no doubt would be a glorious occasion, full of the pomp and ceremony a Royal wedding would demand. Her and Lady Margaery had remained on good terms, she would not quite call it friendship, her former self would have, now she knew better. For now Margaery and her could associate and be polite to each other with little or no consequence, but once Margaery was married to Tommen and was Queen?
  
  Ah but then her husband"s time as Hand of the King would be numbered she knew, the Tyrell"s would never stand for him as Hand then. Unlike Joffrey though Tommen would be unlikely to demand his grandfather"s head, and so Tywin would be informed that his services were no longer required and he would be allowed to leave Kings Landing with as much grace and honour as he required.
  
  Or at least she hoped that would be the case, she suspected that the Tyrell"s knew that you did not insult a man like Tywin Lannister and expect to live long afterwards.
  
  Tywin, she turned over in their bed to look at him, in the darkness she could see little of his noble features, but she could sense the masculine bulk of him inches away from her. Marriage to the Old Lion had certainly been nothing like what her Septa had said marriage would be like, nor anything like what the tales she had read as a child had described.
  Her husband was a complex man, cold, ruthless, arrogant and with a will that no other man could match. But at the same time he was capable of humour, mirth, warmth and an amazing tenderness. The Old Lion seemed to have a special soft spot for his granddaughter Myrcella, who he spent quite a bit of time with, the smaller and much sweeter image of Cersei had become a genuine friend of hers. She wondered what kind of a father Tywin would be, Lord Tyrion was dismissive of his father"s abilities in that department, but then again he had been in deep mourning for his first wife Joanna.
  
  With a strange confidence Sansa knew that Tywin would be a great father to any children they would have together, and speaking of children....
  
  With a mischievous smile playing on her lips Sansa gently sat up in the bed and discarded her night gown, before lifting the thin sheet and blanket that covered Tywin and slipping on top of him, pressing her torso against his, splaying her legs open to straddle him, her long legs gripping the outside of his thighs and legs.
  
  "Sansa..." he mumbled.
  
  "Is the mighty Lion awake or asleep?" she asked, planting little sharp kisses on his neck, nibbling with her teeth.
  
  "Sansa" he mumbled again, his arms moving to embrace her, locking around her lower back.
  
  She ground her groin into his, feeling the stirring of his manhood become more insistent, feeling it lengthen and thicken beneath her. She lifted up slightly to allow his cock the necessary room to grow to its not inconsiderable full size.
  
  "I see the "little lion" is awake, is his master as willing as he is?" she teased.
  
  "Gods girl, you are insatiable" groaned Tywin, but with mirth clouding his voice.
  
  "Well you did not do your duty by your Lady wife when we retired for the night, I am merely making sure that you attend to this duty my Lord" she reminded him, before one of his arms released her and she felt his hand bunch in her hair and lift her head up slightly. Tywin"s lips met hers, her mouth opening immediately and her tongue darted into his mouth, retreating as Tywin"s tongue thrust forwards into her mouth, a moan escaping her lips as his tongue probed and swirled around her own tongue.
  
  His hand released her hair and began to join its partner in roving over her body, his calloused hands rough against her sensitive skin, sending shivers and tremors of pleasure as he skimmed lightly across her flanks and back.
  
  She moaned into his mouth as his hands played with her skin, she felt the familiar, tugging ache in her heated, sopping core. Still keeping her mouth glued to Tywin"s she moved so that her soaking slit moved up and down along his now fully effect length, teasing and rubbing against him. She smiled and tore her lips away from Tywin, pushing herself upwards slightly, gazing down into his face as she teased the head of his cock with her slit. Moving her gaze to hold Tywin"s eyes she angled her body to position him at her entrance, Tywin"s hands moving down to rest on the upper slope on her hips. Moving slightly she felt him at her entrance, thick and insistent, she let out a juddering moan as Tywin pushed down on her hips and thrust upwards with his body, sinking into her.
  
  It never failed to astonish her at just how pleasurable those first few seconds of Tywin entering her was. Her husband seemed to be of the same opinion as without fail he always let out a groan of pleasure to match her own as he entered her.
  
  Slowly Tywin pushed her down, his grip strong on her hips, his length seeking to bury itself to her depth, she rocked back to more fully engulf his manhood inside her, her jaw going slack at the pleasure of feeling Tywin fill her.
  
  She rocked forwards and backwards, keeping as much of him inside as she could, the delicious friction between her sodden sheath and Tywin"s cock making her swoon. Tywin sneaked a hand between their bodies, his fingers seeking out her engorged nubbin, teasing and rubbing it as a counterpoint to her movements. Stars exploded behind her eyelids as she reached her peak, far too soon for her liking but it was not unknown for her to have several peaks with Tywin inside her, this position with her astride him seemed to favour that outcome.
  
  Tywin had moved his hands to the small of her back and he was pushing her down onto him, their groins grinding against each other, she had not the energy anymore to rock back and forth, so she let Tywin thrust in and out of her, sliding easily in and out of her sodden womanhood.
  
  She drifted off into a haze of pleasure, incoherent thoughts splashing across the surface of her mind"s eye, brief glimpses of things that made no sense, while her second peak lazily built, slowly, almost maddeningly. She tried to hurry it on by grinding herself against Tywin harder, but his hands crushed her to him, stilling her motions, little gasps of frustration escaping her mouth.
  
  Eventually her peak became inevitable and she let it wash over her, long and drawn out, leaving her exhausted and barely able to form conscious thoughts. Beneath her Tywin had sped up his thrusts, grunting and moaning, his mouth sought hers, his tongue forcing its way into her mouth, trashing and wriggling against hers as she felt him tense beneath her and finally grunt his release. Inside her she could feel the hot wetness of Tywin"s seed as it jerked from his manhood and she gave little satisfied moans as their mouths remained locked together.
  
  She could feel Tywin"s member begin to soften inside her after he finished spending, their mouths still locked together, but now their lips and tongues moved at a more languid pace, teasing and flowing. Her husband"s hands left the small of her back and buried themselves in her hair, she loved it when Tywin did this, she loved him running his hands through her hair, it was strangely comforting to have him fondle her tresses.
  
  Their lips parted after a while, both sweaty and slightly out of breath, she gazed down into his eyes in the darkness, moving a hand to cup the side of his face, feeling the slightly bristly skin under her fingertips.
  
  "That, that was good........"
  
  "I should hope so" replied Tywin, the slightest of smiles just visible on his face in the darkness.
  
  "I don"t like it when you neglect your duty my Lord, and it is a wife"s burden to remind them...."
  
  "Is it now?" Tywin asked with a teasing note in his voice.
  
  "Yes, it is, and it has been five days since we last.....and I don"t like waiting so long..."
  
  "Do you now? Maybe I should make you wait longer then?"
  
  "You are insufferable Tywin Lannister!" she retorted, only the slightest hint of anger in her voice.
  
  "No, I am your Lord husband, and I have my duties to attend to." With that Tywin gently levered her off him and got up out of the bed, returning a minute later with a bowl of water and a towel.
  
  Dipping the towel in the water he gently began to clean her body, delicately dabbing the cool cloth over her heated skin, wiping away their mingled sweat. He cleaned her nether regions last, wiping away his seed that was oozing out of her. Satisfied that she was clean Tywin handed her the night dress that she had discarded and as she put it on Tywin left the room. She knew he was giving himself a wash also, and a few minutes later he returned, slipping back into bed.
  
  Lifting up the arm closest to him Sansa took the invite and cuddled into Tywin, that was another unusual aspect of her husband, he always liked to cuddle after their couplings. Sansa found it very comforting and relaxing to snuggle up to the Old Lions flank or even to lie with her head upon his chest, listening to his breathing and his heart beat. She would always fall asleep very quickly, drifting off into a dreamless and very refreshing slumber.
  
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  Robb VII
  
  Robb inhaled the inviting aroma of good, beef broth and smiled as a servant placed a good sized bowl of the thick, steaming broth before him. He reached out and tore off a good chunk of bread from a freshly baked loaf and began tucking in, not bothering to see if others were waiting to start.
  
  It was a small meal, family only and was in one of the smaller dining rooms in the Great Keep, a fire crackled merrily in the grate, newly mined coal from one of the mines Tywin Lannister had paid to be opened not far from Winterfell burned with logs in the hearth.
  
  Around the table with him was his wife, his mother, along with Rikon. Bran had apparently disappeared before Winterfell had been liberated, heading north to parts unknown with Jojen and Merra Reed. He was of course worried about Bran but Rikon seemed to be sure that no harm would come to Bran and that more importantly Bran would return to them.
  How Rikon could be so sure his youngest brother could not say, only asserting with a childlike certainty that it was so.
  
  Winterfell had suffered some damage during the Greyjoy occupation and the subsequent battle to liberate it, though with the use of the secret tunnels and crypts below the fortress they had surprised the Greyjoy defenders and easily overwhelmed them.
  
  That dammed traitor Theon Greyjoy had been given the death he deserved, courtesy of the "Old Ways" as Old Nan had said, tied naked to the weirwood tree and cut hundreds of times so that his life"s blood had slowly leaked away to stain the earth. The squid"s blood would feed the weirwood, or so Old Nan had said, his mother had not been happy with this "heathen practice" but he had overruled her, insisting on the death of the Greyjoy as prescribed. All had been offered their chance to cut Theon, even his southron wife, heavily pregnant with his child, had taken her cut, not flinching in the slightest he had been surprised to see.
  
  That fact alone made him proud of his wife, never mind that she was already carrying the next generation of Starks in her womb, nor that Cerenna had proved to be a willing bedmate and to have a sensible head on her pretty shoulders. Pretty was a good word to describe his wife, there was nothing about her that he did not find attractive physically, she was a gorgeous, golden jewel and he had come to believe himself lucky to be married to her. Even of the circumstances of their marriage had been not of his choosing, even if their union was forced and contrived. He had come to accept this, not forget, or forgive, but at least accept. And there were certain advantages to being Tywin Lannister"s good brother of course, not least of which was the considerable coin which was flowing northwards in the form of investments, outright gifts and generous loans to assist the North.
  
  A few moons ago Cerenna had given birth to a baby boy, who he had named Brandon, and he had to admit that fatherhood had changed him further, made him recognise that while he was the Warden of the North, he had a duty to his son as well as the people of the North. He had to make sure that he would pass down a realm in good shape to his son. Brandon had the grey eyes of the Starks but his head was adorned with wispy blonde hair, his mother"s blood showing true.
  
  Part of his duty to the North had been eliminating the last of the Bolton"s, but annoyingly Tywin Lannister had got there ahead of him, the sole remaining Bolton, the bastard Ramsey Snow, had apparently been killed by agents of the Lord Hand. It had sent his temper flaring at the news of this, but in the end he had let it go, and it somewhat suited him as he could claim to the other Northern Lords that the destruction of House Bolton was not something he had any hand or part in, it was solely due to the Bolton"s own traitorous machinations with the Lord Hand.
  
  And to be fair none of the Northern Lords really cared a toss for House Bolton, whose lands he had yet to decide what to do with, were Jon not in the Nights Watch he would have legitimised him and given him the Lordship of the former Bolton Lands.
  
  And speaking of the Lord Hand, the several thousand Red Cloaks and knights that his good brother had lent him were still quartered in Winterfell, though many grumbled about this, whispering that the fist of Tywin Lannister held Winterfell. They were staying put for now as Lord Stannis was rumoured to be sailing to the North, and Rob had no problem with extra swords for when the time came to deal with Lord Stannis.
  
  And unlike some of his bannermen, and especially unlike the various contingents he had commanded in the Riverlands when he still wore a crown, the Red Cloaks, their Officers and the accompanying Knights were well behaved and never once questioned any order he gave them. Lord Tywin had placed him in command of them, and as such he had the authority of the Lord of the Westerlands over them, and that was good enough for every one of them.
  
  A refreshing change from the often garrulous lot he had commanded as King.
  
  Anyway, ravens had gone out to inform the Lords of the North that they would be needed to deal with Stannis Baratheon if he indeed did land on the shores of the North. He hoped that Stannis did not land and that instead he was heading off to exile in Essos somewhere, but according to what the Lord Hand had said he could be expected to land either at Eastwatch by the Sea or at points farther north beyond The Wall.
  
  What Stannis wanted in the North, or even beyond The Wall Robb could not know, it sounded stupid to him but it was his job as Warden of the North to defend his realm against Stannis, who was in rebellion against the Iron Throne.
  
  "You have hardly said a word Robb" his mother scolded him, bringing his mind back to the room, his bowl was nearly empty, the second course was a whole roasted boar, great slabs of which had been laid out on a platter, glistening with fat and their juices.
  
  He took a sip of his beer, his favourite Westerlands tipple; a brewery for this very same beer had been set up in Winterfell shortly after he had recaptured the place. When chilled this beer was even nicer than when only cool.
  
  "I am sorry mother, I was hungry and I have a lot on my mind" he replied, noticing Cerenna"s green eyes twinkling in the candlelight. His wife was rapidly regaining her girlish figure after the birth of Brandon, but as yet they had not lain together as man and wife, though there were other ways for them to be "intimate" as Cerenna had shown him, so he was not missing out on much he mused.
  
  Surprisingly for him it had been the moments of intimacy after their often heated and frantic couplings that he had come to enjoy almost as much as the physical acts themselves. Cerenna had a lively wit and mind, and they had often spent hours late into the night talking, often about themselves and their childhoods. But equally often about the North and the Westerlands, and about politics in general.
  
  He had a very particular topic he wanted to discuss with Cerenna later on, his train of through once more interrupted by his Mother remarking that the sooner the Lannister soldiers were gone the better.
  
  That was the nearest his mother came to mentioning Sansa, whose name his mother appeared determined to not let cross her lips ever again. He was not sure how he felt about Sansa, and her revelation of the part she played in the death of his father. His mother seemed to have decided that her eldest daughter was effectively dead; much like it was suspected that Arya was actually dead.
  
  He hoped Sansa was enjoying being wedded to the Old Lion; he hoped she enjoyed being a great southron Lady, like she had always dreamed of being. He put all the sour thoughts about Sansa and Tywin Lannister and the south behind him and concentrated on eating his fill of the roast boar. The conversation that flowed between Cerenna and his mother as he ate until he was satisfied was still somewhat stilted, but at least it no longer consisted of hostile silences and barbed comments.
  
  Afterwards in the chambers of the Lord and Lady of Winterfell he decided to forego some of the highly pleasurable play of lips and tongues over each of their bodies to instead talk to his wife about what concerned him. He noticed she was slightly annoyed by this; he would have to instead pleasure his wife after their conversation in that case.
  "The Freys" he began, knowing that Cerenna knew exactly what he was referring to.
  
  "What of them?" she asked, innocently enough, but Robb knew his wife well at this stage, he could see the slightest hint of a smile tugging at her lips.
  
  "We both know that the story of what happened is a tissue of lies, a fabrication...."
  
  "Do we?" she asked "Lord Edmure has accepted that the Frey"s brought their own doom upon them, and he has confirmed Lady Genna"s husband as Lord of the Crossing," one delicate, blonde eyebrow arching slightly.
  
  "So that places the Lannister"s in effective control of the crossing, the Frey"s, such as they are will require significant loans to repair the Twins, and I hear that the proposed canal from Seaguard to Port Town has received Royal approval. More loans will be needed to construct that. And who will be providing all that coin? Not the Iron bank but my very own good brother, Tywin Lannister...."
  
  Cerenna took several steps towards him, until she was standing with her body pressed against his, she reached up with a hand and pulled his head downwards, but instead of the kiss he hoped for she instead whispered in his ear "the truth is what people say it is, and if you are as powerful as Tywin Lannister then your truth IS the truth. Who cares for the Frey"s, they were poor allies of you when you were King, abandoning your cause, and like the Bolton"s likely plotting with Lord Tywin. And dead men tell no tales, whatever Lord Tywin had been planning with them died with both traitorous Houses. The Crossing is not in the North, worry about that first and foremost."
  
  With that Cerenna moved her head and captured his lips with hers, her tongue darting playfully into his mouth, his concerns and worries evaporating as his mind clouded with lust.
  
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  Bronn VI
  
  Life, Bronn realised had never been better, here he was, sat at the High table in a feasting hall of the Red Keep, his wife of two hours sat beside him. The chit was ten and seven years old, Joanna Swyft of House Swyft.
  
  He took a sip of his wine, good arbour gold, not the sour piss he was used to, for was he not "quality" now eh? He would have preferred marry into a Lordly House of course, preferably one with huge gold mines, but he was satisfied enough with the match Lord Tywin had made for him. House Swyft was one of the largest producers of grain in the Westerlands, its lands rich and bountiful, and they actually did have several gold and silver mines to their name, but their output was pathetically small compared to that of other Houses.
  
  However Lord Tywin had imposed upon him the caveat that any children he would father on Joanna would take the name Swyft. It was he mused no great imposition as he had only had a real "last name" since the Battle of the Blackwater. And fathering pups should not be too much of an imposition on his new wife either.
  
  Also he now became related by marriage to the Lannisters, via the fact that Lord Tywin"s brother Kevan was also married into House Swyft. And apparently this had caused something of a rift between the two Lannister brothers, though Bronn knew that whatever resentment Kevan Lannister might have he wisely did not pursue it openly, and from when he knew of Kevan Lannister the man was thoroughly beholden to Tywin and unlikely to make too much of a fuss.
  
  He glanced at the girl, ash blonde of hair and blue of eye, with a delectable swelling of creamy teats visible under the folds of her dress. He would enjoy bedding the girl, though he did wonder if he was cut out to stay faithful to her, he had always easily tired of women, preferring the company of whores. At least with them there was no artifice, you paid them and they did their job, end of story. And speaking of whores, what of his particular favourite, Merie? Apparently the girl had left Chataya"s and departed for places unknown, and without so much as a by nor leave. A shame that, she had been an enjoyable tumble, sufficiently naughty and skilled to keep his attention. He had always preferred "duskier maids" before Merie, whose golden hair atop her head and between her legs had inflamed his desires.
  
  Adjusting himself in his seat he felt his pillar beginning to stiffen at the images flashing through his mind"s eye, he turned his thoughts elsewhere to reduce his discomfort.
  
  Neither the current head of House Swyft, Ser Harys Swyft, nor his good father Steffon had been at all pleased with the match, but Lord Tywin had insisted, and like most bannermen of the Old Lion they might have grumbled but they did not dare defy their Lord Paramount. He grinned at that, anyone fool enough to cross Tywin Lannister must be devoid of an ounce of sense. For had the Old Lion not eliminated four Houses that displeased him? Well technically House Frey still lived, but only the portion with Lannister blood.
  
  "My Lord Husband" the girl said, her eyes downcast, nervousness evident in her voice.
  
  "Aye lass, what is it?" Bronn replied, picking up his wine goblet and taking another good gulp, this really was very good wine, he ought to secure some of this for his own use, now that he was a "proper" Lord. Well, technically he was still just a Ser, but how and ever....
  
  "You have scarce said a word to me since we were wed, do, do I displease you?"
  
  "No lass, of course not, I"m not a man of many words, especially with someone I hardly know. Worry not love, we will get to know each other very well, you will be staying on with me in Kings Landing for now. I am sworn to the Lord Hand"s service, he likes to keep me close, often has interesting work for me to do."
  
  On that note, things had actually been quite boring recently, with only the odd bit of "wet work" that required his skills. Not that he was complaining, the money was still good, and the living was better than he had ever enjoyed in his life. He idly wondered when he would return to the Street of Silk to enjoy himself, tomorrow? A week from now, a Moons Turn? He let his eyes rove over his young wife, she was certainly attractive enough, but her knew he would get bored of her soon enough. The girl was almost certainly a maiden, probably had never seen a cock before in her life, and most likely knew nothing of the arts and ways of pleasing a man.
  
  A bubble of mirth escaped his throat, and the Sigil of Hosue Swyft was a fucking cock of all things!
  
  He half suspected that this was some vast joke, the Imp had certainly said as much; slyly whispering that his Lord father thought that marrying Bronn into a house whose Sigil was a cock was a joke of cosmic proportions.
  
  He moved his gaze to the pair of Lannisters, both present with their wives, a sign of the honour and esteem he was held in by House Lannister, which also meant that his new in laws behaved themselves. A finer study in contrasts one could not find he mused, and not just in their physical appearances. The Old Lion"s wife sat regal and beautiful beside him, paying her husband as much attention as was proper and right, a soul of courtly manners and ladyship. The Imp on the other hand slumped drunk, his wife, her swollen belly making her tiny fame almost disappear behind it, looked to be on the verge of tears as usual.
  
  All was not well with that pair he knew, the Imp had even said as much, telling Bronn one drunken evening that he had to force his husbandly duties on the former Frey chit, that she never acceded to her duty willingly. Shame that Bronn idly pondered, the Frey chit was pretty enough, if she ever smiled and did not go around with a hangdog expression on her face all the time.
  
  Still, pretty as the Frey chit was, he was not married to her thank the gods, he did not know what he would do if married to such a girl. No, he did know what he would do; he would be spilling his seed into whores instead, not bothering to waste it on one so ungrateful.
  
  He put Tyrion and his unhappy marriage from his mind and returned his attention to his new wife; maybe he would have some entertainment in teaching the chit how he liked his women to pleasure him. She seemed meek enough that a bit of cajoling, sweet talk and being smart about how and what he said might make for some interesting times ahead.
  
  There would be no bedding ceremony; the Lord Hand"s well know dislike for this practice ensured that nobody was foolish enough to suggest one. He had to agree in principle with the Lord Hand; he did not like the thoughts of his wife being manhandled by a bunch of drunken louts.
  
  He put these thoughts from his head, he had come a long way from the gutter he mused, he had climbed high in the service of the Lannister"s. Not bad for a smallfolk sellsword he thought, not bad at all.
  
  
  The candles provided soft, low light in the chambers in the Maiden vault that he and his new wife had been assigned, nice enough quarters and a damm sight better than he was used to. Appropriate to his newfound station and that of his wife, who would be joining the handmaidens of the Lady of Casterly rock.
  
  Joanna turned to him, nervousness making her blue eyes seem huge in the semi darkness, she twisted her hands before her, shying away from his gaze and looking at the floor. She had been prepared for bed, her clothes removed and instead she was dressed in a silk nightgown, which was almost, but not quite see through.
  
  Bronn sighed, he was not good at this he mused, whores were not shy like this, unless you paid "em to act like this, and well, he was not a great believer in the supposed pleasures of maiden cunny. Bedding a maiden meant more work for you, and dealing with an inexperienced lass was not high on the things he relished. Give him an experienced whore any time of day or night, one who knew how to bring a man pleasure and who could drain his stones completely leaving him exhausted and sated.
  
  Instead he would have to spend far too much time educating this chit to the ways of pleasing a man, and mayhaps he might even fail in this endeavour, for whores rarely complained when you made them swallow your seed, so long as they were paid appropriately.
  
  Dragging his mind back to the present he said as gently as he could "take off the night gown lass."
  
  She looked up at him, fear plain on her face, she looked like she was about to say something but instead she complied, removing the garment and discarding it, to stand naked before him.
  
  "You are very beautiful Joanna" he said, keeping his voice steady and he took a step towards her, the girl made to take a step back but she stopped herself.
  
  Shrugging off his doublet he pulled his shirt off over his head, taking another step to stand mere inches from Joanna.
  
  "What do you know of what happens between a husband and a wife?" he asked, bending his head down to whisper this in her ear, noticing that the girls nipples were standing erect and that her breathing was becoming increasingly shallow.
  
  "I, erh, my Septa has told me that I must lie back and let my husband do his duty.....that....that there will be pain, and....blood...at first....."
  
  He smiled to himself "so nothing then?" he whispered as he bent his head to nuzzle in the join of her shoulder and neck, inhaling the scent of her skin and hair. He kissed the girls skin lightly, just over where one of her veins pulsed in her neck, hearing her sharp intake of breath at this touch.
  
  Bronn brought his hands up to cup the girl"s waist, feeling her shiver as his calloused hands rubbed over her soft skin. Sliding his hands upwards his fingers traced the underside of her breasts, before his finger tips brushed lightly against her erect nipples.
  
  The gasping moan that escaped the girl"s lips brought a smile to his face, maybe teaching this chit would not be so much of a chore after all?
  
  Picking her up in his arms he ignored her yelp of surprise as he carried her to the bed, depositing her there gently and pulling off his boots, socks, trousers and small clothes. He climbed up onto the bed as naked as the girl, noting her eyes immediately flick towards his groin and his proudly erect member.
  
  He bent his head to take a nipple into his mouth, enjoying the electric like shock it produced through Joanna"s body; he suckled and bit at the nubbin of hard flesh in her mouth, as Joanna moaned at this. His hands were not idle, discovering every sweep and curve of her soft flesh, teasing her legs open despite some slight resistance.
  
  He dipped a finger into her folds, pleased to find her commendably wet, he brought his finger up to discover the little secret centre of pleasure that was the key to pleasing women.
  
  Brushing against it he smiled with a nipple in his mouth as Joanna gave a gasp of pleasure, followed by an aching moan.
  
  Resting his palm on her lower belly, feeling the familiar bone under the heel of his palm he pressed down while his finger circled that hard little piece of puckered flesh hidden among the damp folds of her womanhood. Joanna arched her back, pushing herself up against the heel of his palm, and he smiled again.
  
  That little trick worked every time he grinned, he moved his mouth the other nipple, lavishing it with attention, before heading southwards along her belly, trailing his tongue through the golden curls above her sex and fastening his lips around the flaps of flesh that hid his goal.
  
  Using his tongue and lips to part his quarry he gave it a light flick, followed by a much more forceful lick, Joanna"s body bucked and squirmed underneath his ministrations, incomprehensible sounds escaping her mouth.
  Bronn licked and lapped at his wife"s increasingly heated and dampened sex, until he felt her clench and arch her back, crying out. He kept up a frantic licking as she rode her peak, as it began to fade he ceased to stimulate the little bud, instead lapping and pulling her folds, though every few seconds he returned to her clit and gave it a quick, hard lick. Each one of these produced a sharp intake of breath from Joanna, followed by a wanton moan of pleasure.
  
  Well, that"s part one finished Bronn thought, rather satisfied with the job he had done, as he levered himself up and gazed down at Joanna. Her body was slick with sweat and looked fevered with the flush of blood across its surface, especially across her chest and over her face. Positioning himself between her legs he teased at her sodden folds with the tip of his cock, she moaned slightly at this and opened her eyes, her head flopping to one side to get a better look at him.
  
  "Susshhhh now sweetling, just relax....." he whispered as he pushed forwards, meeting her maiden head and he kept on going , breaking it, seeing Joanna"s face twist from slack passion to tensed pain in the merest second.
  
  "Ahhhh, that hurts...." she moaned.
  
  "Aye lass, it will hurt for a second or two, no more," he replied, slowly thrusting deeper into the incredibly tight cunny of his wife. "Fuck" he breathed as he hilted himself, he"d never felt a cunny so tight, nor so wet, in all his life. Holding himself inside the girl he leaned closer to her face, bucking his hips slightly to shove himself in even deeper than he already was, grinding his groin against hers, not noticing her maidens blood slick at the base of his cock.
  
  Joanna"s mouth found his, her tongue snaking into his mouth, oh now that was good, if unexpected. He pulled back slowly and equally slowly thrust forwards again, noticing that Joanna did not wince as much this time. He kept this up for a few minutes, a nice, slow, easy fuck, anything faster would have had him spending in seconds due to the fierce, slickly heated grip that his wife"s maiden cunt had on his cock.
  
  But eventually even he could not contain the seed boiling in his stones and he grunted and let himself spend inside his moaning wife. He held the chit in his arms afterwards, stroking and kissing her like he knew some women liked after they got a good dollop of seed inside them.
  
  After a while he freed himself from Joanna"s embrace and washed himself down, Joanna did the same, her maids having prepared a bath for her. Bronn scowled at this, here he was washing himself with a towel and a bowl while his wife was getting a nice bath, something was not right about that....
  
  Afterwards, once both of them were cleaned they went back to bed, he pulled on his smallclothes and Joanna her night shift.
  
  Bronn was sure that the girl wanted to ask him something as she lay beside him in their bed.
  
  Opening his arms he beckoned her into his embrace, women, even some whores he knew, liked to be embraced and cuddled, and especially after sex.
  
  "How was that for you lass?" he asked, whispering, giving the top of her head a kiss, he really liked the smell of Joanna"s freshly washed hair, it reminded him of summer.
  
  "That, that was very nice husband" she replied, lifting her head to give his chest a little kiss.
  
  "You can call me Bronn you know" he replied.
  
  "And you may call me Joanna" the girl said, her voice only slightly cautious.
  
  "Grand, that"s the awkwardness of first names out of the way" he joked.
  
  "Bronn?" Joanna said, something lurking in her voice that made him instantly wary.
  
  "Yes Joanna?"
  
  "That, that thing you did with your mouth......"
  
  "Aye, it"s called "the Lords kiss", or so I"m told" he replied, grinning.
  
  "It, it was very pleasurable......"
  
  "I"m glad you liked it, and before you ask, yes, I liked it as well...."
  
  "Is, is there....a...."lady"s kiss" also? I"d like to learn how to do it...."
  
  Bronn"s eyebrows climbed almost to his hairline, mayhaps marriage would not be so boring after all?
  
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  Think an SI into Ned Stark with a Homo Drakensis twist sounds like fun? Well the Black Wolf [NSFW] is the story for you then!
  What would you did if you woke up in Westeros and discovered you had been subjected to an enforced gender change? See the adventures of The Littlest Lioness for all the delightful details...
  Ever fancied being Tywin Lannister? Well now you can find out, courtesy of The Lion in Winter
  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Robb VIII
  
  As was now all too common his mother and Arya were arguing, about what he cared little about, no doubt something his mother wanted Arya to do and which she was violently opposed to. His little sister had turned up two moons ago in the company of Sandor Clegane, who upon seeing Lannister troops in Winterfell had growled "fucking Lannister"s everywhere I turn, fucking Lannister cunts".
  
  The Hound had stayed a few days, collected a reward from Robb for returning his sister to Winterfell and had promptly left, but not before having had one too many arguments with the Lannister forces still garrisoned at Winterfell. Said forces, unlike The Hound, had shown no signs of leaving anytime soon, and thus it was just as well that Winterfell was large enough to accommodate them. His mother, along with an increasing number of his Bannermen had become steadily more vocal in their opposition to the continuing presence of the Red Cloaks and Westerlander knights in the North. He was not altogether pleased with their continuing presence either, his raven to Kings Landing asking for the Lannister forces to be removed had been turned down by his good brother, citing the threat of the Wildlings massing beyond The Wall. Robb had taken this as an insult to his ability to defend the North and still bristled when he thought about it.
  
  But the Lannister forces had proved their mettle when it had come to dealing with the Army of Stannis Baratheon. The Lord of Dragonstone who had crowned himself the King of the Seven Kingdoms had landed by Eastwatch by the Sea and had marched to Castle Black, before heading south, seemingly intent on taking Winterfell. But what Stannis had wanted in the North Robb could not, even now, fathom, weeks later. The Army of the last Baratheon had lacked cavalry and sufficient scouts, of which he and the Northern Army that had marched north to meet him had plenty. They had kept Stannis under close watch as he and his host had come south from Castle Black, eventually confronting him on terrain that suited Robb and his forces.
  
  It had been hard fought alright, but in the end the outcome was never really in doubt, and afterwards it had been a rather harrowing time of dealing with the shattered elements of Stannis"s banner men. Though many bent the knee or were dispatched back to The Wall to live the remainder of their lives as brothers of the Nights Watch, a disturbingly large number of the former Army of Stannis Baratheon had refused either option and had to be beheaded. Lord Stannis had been taken alive, cursing Robb for being a traitor and sullying his father"s honour by bending the knee to a bastard King as he had been captured.
  
  In the end though he had swung the sword himself that had taken the head of Lord Stannis, the man refusing all entreaties to bend the knee or take the black to the very end.
  
  Of the Red Priestess who was supposed to consort with Stannis nothing was found, he suspected that she was still at Castle Black, though Lord Tywin had indicated in a raven that she should be left there for the time being. Also missing were the wife and child of Lord Stannis, apparently the former had killed herself and the later had been burned to death as an offering to the Lord of Light by the Red Priestess.
  
  He wondered what his good brother wanted with the Red Witch, whose followers had mostly fought to the death and who had refused to surrender, the battle having been a bloody affair when all was said and done.
  
  Lord Tywin......the man"s very name was still bitter on his tongue, despite everything. The Red Cloaks and the Westerland knights he had been lent had been completely loyal to him, probably more than his own sometimes quarrelsome banner men, something that he was both surprised and annoyed by. These Westerlanders had never questioned any of his orders, and they did their duty to him without complaint or hesitation.
  
  The unfortunate demise of the vast majority of the Freys meant that Arya"s intended Frey match was no longer on the table, and the Northern Lords had not been shy about declaring that she would have to be married into the North, seeing as how Sansa had married into the south. His sister was having none of that, threatening to run away if she was betrothed to anyone, and generally making his mother"s life a complete misery by point blank refusing to behave in a "ladylike" manner.
  
  And Arya had been scathing with him when she had learned of his marriage to a Lannister, barely even acknowledging his wife even now, weeks later after her arrival back at Winterfell. When he had tried to explain to Arya the reasons for him ending the War of the Five Kings her reply had been a brusque "you won every battle you fought, and you decided to surrender. Father would never have surrendered...." And with that Arya refused to hear more on the subject.
  
  His mother had employed the services of a new Septa to teach Arya, it had ended in disaster when Arya had pulled a knife on the woman and cut the woman"s face over something the southron had said to Arya.
  
  His mother had been furious with Arya for this, but he was strangely ambivalent if he was honest with himself. Actually no, that was wrong, he was, if he was honest somewhat glad that Arya had done what she did. The tales his little sister had told of her adventures after escaping Kings Landing showed Robb that Arya was not some delicate Lady, and despite his mothers best will and intentions Arya would never be a "Lady", at least not in the accepted southron sense of the word. Probably not even in the northern sense either, his little sister would have probably been better off born a Mormont than a Stark. But she would have to be married off eventually, a task Robb did not relish in the slightest. But he was proud of Arya when she had recounted her tale of how she outwitted the Old Lion in Harenhall, of how she had been his cup bearer and how she had spied upon Lord Tywin"s strategy sessions.
  
  Tywin Lannister....his mind drifted once again to his new good brother, and the missives he had sent recently concerning The Wall and what lay beyond it...
  
  It, it troubled him greatly as Warden of the North, the talk of Wildlings massing under a King beyond the Wall, of which Lord Tywin seemed better informed about than him. Add to this the news that his half brother had been appointed Lord Commander of the Nights Watch, along with Jon"s apparent wish to bring the Wildlings south of The Wall. He grimaced, the Umber"s were in uproar, along with most of the Northern Lords when they had heard of Jon"s plan, the Umber"s just being the loudest and most vocal, as was their wont.
  
  Jon had pointed out that the Gift and the New Gift were the effective "lands" of the Lord Commander of the Nights Watch and as such his to administer and work as he saw fit. This argument had carried little weight with the Lords of the North unfortunately, but his good brother had intervened into the argument by supporting Jon Snow. Lord Tywin had sent out missives to him and all the Northern Lords stating the exact legal status of the Gift and the New Gift and that the Lord Commander was in effect the feudal Lord of these lands. In addition Lord Tywin had shocked many by his generous donations of food, clothing, arms and sundry supplies to the Nights Watch, amounting to more than the Crows had ever received in the last decade from the Lords of the North. The ships from Lord Tywin had already started to arrive at the Bay of Ice and at Eastwatch and were busy unloading supplies for the Black Brothers.
  
  The Ironborn, though kicked out of the North with substantial casualties were not as yet defeated, but Lord Tywin seemed to be content to harass them with elements of the Lannister and Royal fleets, supported by the Reach"s not inconsiderable naval forces. Which was equally strange, Lord Tywin was not the kind of man to let such a threat fester, especially right off the coast of his lands.
  
  Not for the 1st time Robb wondered what exactly the wily Old Lion was up to?
  
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  Varys IV
  
  "This, this offer of Lord Tywin"s....I am troubled by it, it, it does not make any sense....it looks more like a trap to me than anything else..." muttered Daenerys, her hand absentmindedly stroking the thin stem of her wine glass.
  
  "Indeed your Grace" he replied, tilting his head to a small bow to the Targaryen girl, but as yet saying nothing.
  
  The two of them, along with Ser Barristan Selmy, Ser Jorah Mormont, Missandei and Grey Worm were in Daenery"s personal quarters atop the Great Pyramid of Mereen, night was falling and Varys could see a spectacular sunset through the thin silk curtains that covered the large windows and doors that lead out onto the balcony that made up quite a bit of the pyramid at this level.
  
  "Well?" Daenerys asked, seemingly to the room in general, but Varys knew she was asking her de facto "small council" about what it thought.
  
  "I can scarcely credit it your Grace" replied Ser Barristan, the first out of the traps as it where. "Lord Tywin is a ruthless and ambitious man, for him to make an offer such as this....well...it smacks of...well I don"t know what it smacks of to be honest....." Barristan"s words failing him and he fell silent.
  
  "It"s a trap, it has to be!" announced Ser Jorah vehemently "Wights!? The Others?! Does Tywin Lannister think us simple minded fools! Your Grace, this is a trap, one made more devious by its outlandish claims!"
  
  "Hrmmm" was all Daenerys Targaryen said in response to her two male advisors outbursts.
  
  "Tywin Lannister is the man I hold most responsible for the deaths of my kin and the toppling of the Targaryen dynasty, as such his life is automatically forfeit the moment I return to Westeros. And he must know this, but he makes me this offer, it"s very outlandishness completely out of character for the man, if I am correct?"
  
  At this Daenerys glanced at him, he inclined his head slightly and took the girls look as his leave to speak.
  
  "Your Grace, before the Outbreak of the so called "War of the five Kings" the Nights Watch sent one Alister Thorne to Kings Landing with supposed "evidence" of the wights and the White Walkers. I saw this evidence, a half rotten hand that moved and skittered of its own accord, magic of course but not conclusive proof either way. However, Lord Tywin is neither a fool nor someone who is easily swayed by rumour or myth. The very fact that he states that he believes that the Others are real, that the Long Night is about to come again......from anyone else this would seem fanciful, incredulous, fantastical....but from Tywin Lannister?"
  
  "He knows I will kill him, if not immediately, then when I ascend the Iron Throne, and yet he makes no entreaties for his life?"
  
  "No your Grace, he only asks that his wife and children be allowed to continue the Lannister name, he, he is perhaps resigned to his fate?"
  
  "Pah! If you believe that you are a fool Varys!" spat Jorah Mormont in response.
  
  The gruff northerner, his former spy and a man whom he could destroy with ease, even if he had yet to establish himself fully in the trust of the Dragon Queen, was not someone who trusted Lord Tywin Lannister it seemed. Not that Varys blamed him one whit, but, and this was frustrating him greatly, he had failed to discover any obvious signs that Tywin Lannister"s offer was anything but genuine. And that terrified him, Varys was sure that this offer was a trap, yet he felt it was not his place as yet to confirm this, for the annoying truth was he had no proof of Tywin Lannister"s obvious duplicity, beyond the fact that it was Tywin Lannister they were dealing with. And so everything had to observed through the lens of how this impacted the Lannister"s and their seemingly vice like grip on the Iron Throne.
  
  "I knew Lord Tywin from my time in the Kingsguard your Grace" remarked Ser Barristan "he was perhaps the most able Hand in the last half century....a man not given to sentimentality or foolishness. He, he would not make this offer unless he was serious..."
  
  "Or devious!" retorted Ser Jorah "I state it again, this is a trap your Grace, nothing more, nothing less!"
  
  "Can he, can he deliver what he promises Varys? The Seven Kingdoms on a plate for me?"
  
  "He can deliver the Westerlands, the Riverlands and the North your Grace, seeing as how Lord Tywin is linked by marriage to the rulers of said realms. The Crownlands has always been loyal to House Targaryen and would welcome a restoration. The Stormlands would, under the terms proposed by Lord Twin, come under the rule of Tommen Baratheon, the current King who would step down in favour of your Grace. The Vale is currently in something of a state of flux; its presumptive heir has rejected a marriage proposal for the hand of Lord Tywin"s granddaughter. The Reach have tied themselves to the Lannister"s, firstly to Joffrey and now via the proposed marriage of King Tommen. This may be problematical once the Tyrell"s become aware of Lord Tywin"s plans however...."
  
  "The Tyrell"s were loyal to my father, and yet they now ally themselves with the Lannisters?" asked Daenerys, an eyebrow arching to counterpoint her question.
  
  "The Tyrell"s, as Lord"s Paramount, are not as strong rulers of their Kingdom as say the Stark"s or the Lannister"s are of theirs your Grace. They have long sought royal favour to give them an advantage over their powerful vassals" added Ser Barristan, his face neutral but Varys was sure he could detect the slightest hint of disdain in his voice.
  
  Daenerys gave the Lord Commander of her Queensguard a glance before she asked him "Dorne and the Iron Born?"
  
  "House Martell would support anyone who would support them in their quest for vengeance against Tywin Lannister. The actual murderers of Princess Elia Martell and her children, Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch were executed by Lord Tywin, as a sop to Dorne."
  
  "And?" asked Queen Daenerys, taking a sip of her wine.
  
  "Anyone who thinks that"s the end of it is a fool!" Ser Jorah jumped in before he could reply.
  
  Giving Ser Jorah a slight bow of his head in acknowledgement Varys continued "Indeed, the Martell"s will not be satisfied until Lord Tywin is dead by their hands, preferably in the most protracted and painful of manners."
  
  Yes, on that Ser Jorah was indeed correct; the Martells would not be satisfied until they had extracted their "pound of flesh" from Lord Tywin himself. And speaking of the Martell"s, their Prince and Princess had once featured so prominently in the plans he and Illyrio had hatched, but now? The girl he saw before him had never featured much in those plans, well perhaps tangentially, and only as a bride, either to increase the legitimacy of Illyrio"s bastard who they had convinced Jon Connington was the son of Rhaegar, or to be wed to the Prince of Dorne. The Dornish Princess had been a backup marriage prospect for "Aegon" if Daenerys had proven in anyway unsuitable. Her elder brother Viserys, well he had always been....expendable as far as they were concerned, for he had never been a pawn of theirs like Aegon. And as the boy"s familial similarities to his late father had become more and more obvious, then his days and his usefulness become as numbered.
  
  Politics and the delicate balance of keeping the Seven Kingdoms unstable but not collapsing, and the increasing need to finally decide upon which option they would pursue for a Targaryen restoration had to an extent forced their hand. Illyrio"s contention that the brother and sister were actually less use to them than their "fake Aegon" he did not totally agree with, but the Cheesemonger had acted anyway, sure that Viserys would remove himself from the succession by his own stupidity. Things had played out as Illyrio had expected, Viserys having gotten himself killed. And that should have been that for them, the girl should have spent the rest of her days as the brood mare for a Dothraki horse savage and safely away from the Seven Kingdoms. What neither of them had expected was Daenerys hatching Dragons, nor her conquering Slaver"s bay with her Unsullied Army.
  
  He had planned to go and meet Daenerys Stormborn for himself anyway, to see what he made of her, the last of the Targaryen"s, and if she would make a decent Queen. For her birthing of Dragon"s had thrown everything into, well, chaos. The Aegon that Illyrio had placed so much hope in now had a, well rather knotty case of illegitimacy - would what Targaryen blood he had in him be sufficient for him to be accepted by the Dragons? Illyrio was adamant that it did not matter; he on the other hand was not so sure about the Cheesemonger"s confidence in this regard. For him it would come down to if this Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, rightful heir to the Iron Throne, rightful Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, the Breaker of Chains - as she styled herself, was a worthy Queen to sit atop the Iron Throne.
  
  And that was indeed the nub of it, would the Mad King"s daughter, and with three Dragons mind you, be a good ruler of Westeros? Oh she could probably conquer Westeros if she tried, enough Lords would flock to her banner as she had Dragons, the Crownlands en masse for one. The Dornish also, just to spite House Lannister due to its current grip on the Iron Throne. It might take another Harenhall or the Fields of Fire to persuade the rest to bend the knee, but they would eventually. But Daenerys might end up ruling the ashes, something he would be loathe to permit to happen, if he could prevent it.
  
  "And the Ironborn?" asked Daenerys, dragging his mind back to the present.
  
  "No one cares about the Ironborn" muttered Ser Barristan under his breath while out loud Varys stated "the Ironborn remain a conundrum for the Seven Kingdoms, forever testing the limits of the Iron Throne"s forbearance your Grace...."
  
  "I have Dragons Lord Varys, they will not test the limits of my forbearance....."
  
  "Indeed your Grace" Varys replied smoothly, keeping his face neutral of any emotion, so "Queen of the Ashes" it very well might be. He set his mind to making sure that this would not happen, and for that he had to make absolutely sure that he gained the trust and confidence of Daenerys Targaryen.
  
  "So Lord Tywin offers me most of the Seven Kingdoms in return for me swearing to fight these so called "Others" from beyond The Wall. He proposes that I bring my army to Westeros, to the North in fact, where he will, he says, present solid proof and evidence of these selfsame "Others". He makes no pleas for clemency on his part, nor offers any contrition or apology for the murder of my family and its overthrow from its rightful rule over the Seven Kingdoms. He swears he will bend the knee and asks only to be allowed to fight against the Others in my name, so long as his family is spared and allowed to continue as Lords Paramount of the Westerlands."
  
  "That is the right of it your Grace" he replied, wondering for the umpteenth time if Lord Tywin was mad.
  
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  Melisandre II
  
  She had said the words "We beg the Lord to share his fire, and light a candle that has gone out. We beg the Lord to share his fire, and light a candle that has gone out. From darkness, light. From ashes, fire. From death, life." She had performed the rituals, the washing of the body, the clipping of hair to be burnt in the flames as offerings, the laying on of hands. And she had left that cold, dank room as depressed and defeated as she had entered it, with Jon snow un-risen and still dead by the hands of his former comrades.
  
  But now? Now her body once more glowed with the warming light of her God, his burning presence banishing the chill once more. For had not Jon Snow risen indeed, and killed those who had betrayed him? She had asked for the lives of these traitors to be given to R"hllor, as a gift for the former Lord Commanders life, but Jon Snow had refused, instead hanging them, to her displeasure.
  
  That was unfortunate, but of little consequence, for the flames in her quarters shimmered and danced in writhing passion, never before had she seen the flame behave so. Not even in the Red Temple of Volantis when scores of specially bred and trained slaves offered up their lives upon giant pyres to allow the priests to commune with the Lord of Light.
  Wolves, Dragons and Lions danced and fought together against a howling darkness, an old Lion with two heads at the forefront, two russet haired wolves to either side of him, above them silver Dragons wheeled and screeched, unleashing unending streams of golden fire to banish the darkness. Ice and Fire met and clashed, merged and split apart, waves of dead men led by spectral, skeletal figures wielding long blades of crystalline Ice surged forwards, slaying desperate men with abandon. A figure wearing a crown of Ice strode forwards, menace and darkness clinging to him like a shroud, his face split into a hideous smile as he raised a sword of glittering crystal. Other visions danced and roiled, sometimes their meanings obvious, sometimes their meanings were confused or hidden, but all raged to Melisandre"s sight with an ardour, a fervour she had scarce ever experienced.
  
  Melisandre gasped as the flames suddenly blazed and then guttered, returning to normal, she inhaled massively, her lungs seeming to have forgotten how to breathe, gasping and heaving a she steadied herself. After a few moments she composed herself, her mind whirling and surging with the visions her God had provided her.
  
  The Old Lion, that creature of two souls, that abomination before the Lord of Light.....she knew he was important but she had failed to see, or she had not been shown, how important he, it, now was. It seemed that the Old Lion had been playing a pivotal role in her God"s plans, and whose actions had been partially shielded from her gaze in the flames.
  
  But now? No, now she could see the works of this, this thing in all their multiform and nefarious complexity. Melisandre marvelled how the works of such a foul, lust filled beast were mostly in accordance with her God"s glorious plans.
  
  She arranged her clothing, having no longer any need for the heavy cloak or furs she had worn following the death of Stannis Baratheon, with a twist of thought she commanded the fire ruby at her neck to adjust her glamour. Her skin took on a more radiant, healthy glow; she admired herself in a small mirror, deciding that her teats could do with being a little larger and firmer. Smiling as her glamour responded to her will she departed her room, heading for the quarters of the Lord Commander.
  
  She was admitted immediately, the Wildlings guarding the door shuffling away from her, fear and awe evident in their eyes, mayhaps future converts there to the one, true faith?
  Entering the room she saw Jon Snow seated behind his desk, writing, he glanced up at her and stood up, coming out from behind the desk.
  
  "My Lady" he intoned, his voice just the slightest bit shaky, for Jon Snow was still as yet weak from his resurrection, though Melisandre could see the fire of her Lords light burning inside Jon Snow, flickering and faint aye, but soon to blaze forth in glory.
  "Lord Commander" she purred, tilting her body slightly to present her form to best effect, decades of experience in seduction and persuasion would guide her movements, the timbre and pitch of her voice.
  "I, I am no longer the Lord Commander my Lady, I died, my watch has ended...." Jon Snow replied, sounding morose.
  
  "And if such is the case, what will you do Jon Snow?" she asked her voice melodious and husky as she took a step towards the boy, yes he was still a boy despite everything she mused, and definitely a boy compared to her span of years in service to R"hllor.
  
  "I, I don"t know....leave here, go south....I don"t know..."
  
  "What if I told you that your place is here Jon Snow, that what you saw beyond The Wall is the very reason you were born in the first place?"
  
  "What? What do you mean?" he replied, the words increasingly harsh as they spilled from his mouth.
  
  "Your destiny is to fight against the Great Other, the beast from the outer darkness that threatens the realms of men. That is why you came back, I did not bring you back Jon Snow, R"hllor brought you back, brought you back for this reason and this reason alone."
  
  Jon Snow glared at her but before he could respond she continued "your dealings with the Old Lion, his sudden interest in the Nights Watch and his provision of a ruling from the Iron Thorne legalising you bringing the Wildlings south of The Wall, why do you think he did this Jon Snow?" Melisandre asked, taking two steps closer to Jon Snow, noticing that despite his best efforts his eyes could not remain fixed on her face. Instead they rove over the valley of flesh that ran down the front of her gown, from her neck to her stomach, the swell of her teats pushing and tenting the material, their fleshy curves partially visible, enough she knew from long, long experience to entice and aflame the desires of any man.
  "I, I don"t know......" he stammered, taking a step backwards, but she took two steps forwards to stand mere inches from him.
  
  Melisandre tilted her head to one side, pouting her lips slightly before whispering "because Lord Tywin Lannister knows about the Others Jon Snow, he knows what you know. The Old Lion knows of the Great War to come Jon Snow, and he knows what must be done, of the parts we all must play so that we may see the Dawn and not die under the pall of the darkness of an endless night...." These last words were whispered almost into Jon Snow"s ear, as she had bent her head forwards so that her lips were mere inches from the boy.
  
  She could sense the fire burning in the boy, his desire rising, feeding the flames, but she would not give him of her flesh, for this Jon Snow was meant for another and not for her. A shame that, for Jon Snow was certainly pretty enough, and young enough and thus more able to bear the price of fuelling her magics, unlike Stannis whose essence had been drained beyond her expectations by fathering the shadow that had Killed Renly.
  
  Just then there was a knock at the door and she stepped hurriedly back two paces, a sultry smirk on her face.
  
  "Wh...What?" stammered Jon Snow, his voice stammering and hoarse.
  
  "A raven Lord Commander!" announced the voice from the other side of the door. "From Kings Landing, it bears the seal of the Hand of the King!"
  
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  Jon I
  
  "Hold it! Hold it down! Tighten its bindings!" he bellowed, fear and exhaustion roughening his voice.
  
  His brothers, though was he truly still a broth of the Nights Watch, was he really still their Lord Commander, seeing as how he had died? He thrust these thoughts from his mind; he had no time for these ruminations now.
  
  His party of Brothers and Wildlings struggled with the dead thing, as it hissed and screeched at them, they had managed to throw a net over the ragged, magic animated corpse and were attempting to bind it further with chains and ropes. Around them the remains of the party of dead things that they had ambushed lay scattered around, mostly dismembered and thankfully no longer animate.
  
  They had marched out from Castle Black nearly a week ago, Crows and Wildlings, at his behest but really at the orders of the Lord Hand, Tywin Lannister. Lannister"s might be famous for paying their debts but Jon Snow knew also knew how to honour debts. For Lord Tywin Lannister had become the most generous supporter that the Nights Watch had ever known, sending a torrent of goods and gold north to them for the last nigh on six months. The Brothers ate food sent from the south and paid for by Lannister gold, wore good, warm clothing from the mills of the Westerlands and were armed with plate, chain and swords produced by the Lannister"s and shipped north in quantities the Nights Watch had never seen before.
  
  And so when the latest raven from the Hand of the King had asked him to capture one of the dead creatures that roamed north of The Wall Jon Snow had known that despite his own fears, he was duty bound to carry out the Hand"s request.
  
  After Hardholme he had feared returning north of The Wall, like all his men who had witnessed the attack led by the Night King and his Army, and he had dreamed, nay, he had nightmared many"s the night of that battle.
  
  And so despite his fear, and he was sure the fear of his brothers and the Wildlings, they had ventured north of The Wall, to find and capture a wight to bring south to show all of Westeros the threat that lay in the frozen north. The missive from Lord Tywin had been quite specific - he believed in the existence of the wights and the Night King, and he understood the threat they represented, but the Lords of Westeros required proof positive. Hence the request for a "live" wight, though in truth was it really a "request"?
  
  Lord Tywin Lannister, Hand of the King, Hand to a bastard King if the rumours be believed, and husband of his half sister Sansa....
  
  Before he could muse anymore there was a cry from his men and he whipped his head around. Out of the shrouded forest more of the dead things were running and stumbling, screeching in that terrible, hideous way of theirs. Drawing Longclaw he gestured to his men to form around him, the only way to fight these things was in close order, not letting them swarm you. Black Brothers and Wildlings drew their weapons, spears and maces tipped with Dragonglass, another gift from Lord Tywin, along with the advice that Valyrian steel, fire and Dragonglass would kill the monsters from beyond The Wall.
  
  The nauseating wave of undead corpses rushed at them, headless of anything except getting as close as possible to them so as to drown them in numbers. The first of the corpses were upon them in seconds, and the brutal fight for survival began. They had just managed to kill the twenty or so dead things that had been with the wight that they had captured; now they were facing what looked like hundreds of the things.
  
  Jon hacked and stabbed and slashed with Longclaw, his mind blank of anything but his next strike and when to twist and sidestep a rusty blade or axe. Around him the men of the Nights Watch and the Wildlings fought desperately, any who fell were stabbed with dragonglasss by their comrades to prevent them rising as wights.
  
  But the sheer numbers of wights was telling, more and more of his comrades fell, and the little band of living men was compressed into an ever smaller space.
  
  He wondered idly if this was where he would fall, and only hoped that someone would stab him with Dragonglass so as to prevent him from rising as a wight. As this thought crossed his mind a blossom of fire burst behind the wall of wights, a pitiful screeching wailed from the wights that had been engulfed in flames.
  
  A cloaked rider on horseback emerged from the gloom, swinging a chain with a ball of fire on its end. Wherever this fiery ball touched the wights they would burst into blazing, roaring flames, consuming them as they flailed and screamed.
  
  Jon let out a roar of defiance as Longclaw whirled and stabbed in his hands, desperation born of terror driving him onwards to kill as many of the wights as possible. His companions were of the same mind, screaming and hacking at the dead tide with equal fierce and frantic blows.
  
  And then with a shocking suddenness Jon realised that there were no more dead things in range of Longclaw, he sucked in a huge breath of freezing air, stinging his nostrils and hurting his lungs. Around him the last of the wights were being dispatched by the Black Brothers and the Wildlings, he kept Longclaw in his hands as he turned to look at the figure atop his horse who had so aided them in defeating the dead things.
  
  The stranger was cloaked in black with his face hooded and concealed behind a scarf wrapped around his head. From his right hand hung a long chain, at its end some sort of brazier burned with yellow/white flames. He rode atop a huge black horse, who stamped its hooves in what seemed to be annoyance as the stranger turned the beast towards him.
  
  Jon stood his ground as the black garbed stranger drew closer, holding Longclaw at the ready, he barely notice Edd and Tormund move to his side, their weapon also raised.
  
  The great war horse stopped before them, Jon noticing that the golden flames of the brazier at the end of the chain guttered and died. The stranger reached up and pulled back his hood and lowered his scarf.
  
  "Uncle Benjen!" Jon gasped, recognising the man revealed before him.
  
  "Hello lad" his uncle responded in a strange voice, more akin to a harsh and guttural whisper than the voice Jon remembered him speaking with.
  
  "First Ranger!" blurted out Edd "are we glad to see you!"
  
  "No doubt Ed" replied Benjen Stark, what was probably meant to be a smile tugged at his uncle"s lips, but to Jon it looked more like a grimace. In fact the more he looked upon his uncle, the more Jon could not help feeling that there was something wrong with his uncle. The pasty white skin of his face, the strange way the pale light seemed to reflect flatly in his eyes, this unnerved Jon if he was honest.
  
  "I came at the behest of someone who is anxious to meet you Jon Snow" said Benjen, raising his left arm to point to the tree line behind them. A figure clad in Wildling furs emerged, pulling something behind them, as they got closer Jon realised the figure was a girl.
  
  She halted a few feet away from them and then pivoted to show the sled like contraption she was pulling behind her.
  
  "Hello Jon Snow" said a fur wrapped figure on the sleigh.
  
  "Bran!" exclaimed Jon Snow in amazement.
  
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  What would you did if you woke up in Westeros and discovered you had been subjected to an enforced gender change? See the adventures of The Littlest Lioness for all the delightful details...
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  Robb IX
  
  "I can scarce believe this...." muttered Rob, staring at the letter on his desk, the man who delivered this missive, Ser Davos Seaworth sat opposite him but said nothing.
  
  The so called "onion knight", once a confidant of Lord Stannis said nothing in response, holding his counsel, which annoyed Robb slightly if he was honest.
  
  Ser Davos had rode south from The Wall with a letter from his brother Jon, whose contents were for Robb"s eyes only, at least for the time being. Accompanying Ser Davos had been a rag-tag bunch of Black Brothers, former soldiers in the Army of Lord Stannis and Wildlings. This ensemble, almost as unbelievable as the message they bore had been granted passage through the North to Winterfell by a letter of safe conduct signed by Jon as Lord Commander of the Nights Watch.
  
  "I would not have believed it either my Lord, had I not seen the things I have seen....."
  
  Robb glanced up at the former smuggler, his flea bottom accent still evident in the man"s voice, noticing the small pouch that hung from his neck, which was reputed to contain the finger bones from those which Stannis Baratheon had taken from him in punishment for smuggling.
  
  Stannis Baratheon.... a stubborn, uncompromising and, if he was honest, a rather unlikeable man, going from his admittedly brief encounter with the rebellious Lord. Which had ended with Robb taking the head of Lord Stannis, who had refused to either bend the knee or take the black, instead stubbornly insisting to the end that he was the lawful and legitimate King of the Seven Kingdoms. And Robb was inclined to agree with Stannis on this point, but the time for challenging the Lannister grip on the Iron Throne was long past, he was a loyal Warden of the North, bound by golden chains to the Lannister"s, chains of blood and coin.
  
  "Hmmmm" grunted Robb in reply; he had seen the "thing" that the men had brought with them, a so called "wight" and had been horrified by it. Robb had also shown the wight to his mother and wife, along with the rest of the senior staff at Winterfell, just to make sure that they knew what they were now facing. As Jon had urged him he had sent out ravens to all the Houses of the North, those that the party had not visited on their journey south to Winterfell had been commanded to make all haste to Winterfell to see the wight for themselves.
  
  "This is why Lord Commander Snow", Robb noticed the slightest of catches in the smugglers speech when he said his half brothers title "let the freefolk past The Wall my Lord. They would all become like that thing, soldiers in the Night Kings Army of the Dead....."
  
  "Hmmmmmm" replied Robb. Why was this happening now, of all times? He felt like laughing at the absurdity of it all. He had fought to reclaim his father"s life, then when that failed his father"s honour. He had lost a crown and married into the family he and all the North held most responsible for the death of his father and the subsequent War of the Five Kings.
  
  And now, to top it all, the Long Night was returning! He thought to scream at the monstrous injustice of it all, and to top everything it seemed that his goodbrother Tywin Lannister not only seemed to know of this threat already, but was actively aiding the Nights Watch to prepare for the threat of these "Others" as they were oft referred to.
  
  For the rest of the day Robb pondered and fretted, terrified about what was to come and the monstrous responsibility now cast upon his shoulders and upon all those who knew of the return of the Long Night. At dinner he was morose and sullen, unwilling to engage in any sort of conversation, brooding and letting his morbid thoughts spin and tumble in his mind.
  
  "Robb!"
  
  "Huh? ermmm, oh, sorry...." he mumbled, seeming to see his wife"s emerald eyes for the first time as the hovered close in the light of a single candle.
  
  "You have not been listening to me..." she purred, a smirk quickening her lips as she lay half atop him in their bed.
  
  "No, ummmm....I"ve, I"ve a lot on my mind Cerenna, sorry......"
  
  "My Lord husband is the Stark in Winterfell, the Warden of the North; he had best get his mind back to where it belongs!" Cerenna mock hissed at him, before her face turned serious. "Septon Ronard is going to be a problem."
  
  "Oh?" he asked, suddenly very interested in what his wife had to say "I wonder how he could be even more of a problem?"
  
  The good Septon had joined them in the Riverlands, attaching himself and a Septa to their party as it had travelled North. The Septa, a sour faced hag was the same one that Arya had cut in a fit of anger, had at least had the decency to leave Winterfell after this incident.
  
  Septon Ranard on the other hand, was determined to make a nuisance of himself, seeming to rely on his mother"s patronage and protection to generally cause insult and annoyance wherever he went.
  
  Robb had already had to bar the man from the Godswood, and only his mother"s pleading had stopped him from ejecting the meddlesome priest from Winterfell altogether. The good Septon seemed to think it was his life"s mission to convert the North from its "heathen ways" and was not shy about pursuing this goal. The presence of so many Lannister troops, most of them adherents to the Faith of the Seven, whom the Septon was careful to minister and preach to, seemed to make the man ever bolder in his pronouncements and preaching. Robb would not be in the slightest bit surprised if the Priest would be found dead some morning, probably with his throat slit at the feet of the great weirwood tree.
  
  "He has been preaching against the....the wight, saying that it is an affront to the Seven and a thing of foul, northern magic, a trick to "sway the faithful from the light of the Seven"....to quote his evening sermon from yesterday..."
  
  "He"s, he"s seen the, the thing, how the fuck?" Robb spluttered in reply.
  
  Cerenna just gave him a thin smile in reply "the fanatical believe what they want husband....he has come to me to ask....no, ask would be the wrong word...to instruct me that it was my duty to get you to order the wight destroyed. And that if I did not my soul would be cursed forever...."
  
  
  Robb"s anger flared and exploded, he could hear nothing but a roaring in his ears, that southern cunt, thinking he could "order" his wife about, the Lady of Winterfell and the mother of the next generation of Starks!
  
  He went to rise from his bed, his rage all consuming, grabbing his clothes and hastily putting them on, barely noticing that Cerenna was also dressing herself, shouting for his guards to assemble and be ready for him.
  
  Storming through the halls and corridors of Winterfell Robb ordered his men to carry out the tasks he wanted, his fury having cooled enough to enable him to think coldly, clearly.
  
  Striding though the night he and his men came to the cells and to his rage he came across the Septon, his mother and a small contingent of Westerlander soldiers outside.
  
  A cooling breeze seemed to waft through his mind as he announced "take Septon Ronard into custody, any who resist are disobeying the direct command of the Lord of Winterfell."
  "Robb!" shrieked his mother, making to stand in front of the Septon, who was brandishing a torch, along with several others of the party.
  "That includes my Lady mother" he hissed, noticing his mothers face suddenly go slack with shock.
  
  "You are making a mistake boy" snarled the Septon "that thing is an affront to the light of the Seven and deserves to destroyed! A foul product of northern blood magics and sorcery! Its presence corrupts your very souls!"
  
  The Septon continued wailing as he was manhandled away, the small crowd of his supporters putting up no resistance. Robb barely noticed Westerlander Officers and Knights arriving, who took charge of their errant men, disarming and binding them.
  
  All marched with Robb to the Godswood, the Septon"s screams about their souls being cursed echoing off the walls and buildings of Winterfell, his mother plea"s equally shrill. But Robb listened not to either of them, his mind set, his heart hardened to what he had to do.
  
  Reaching the Godswood and the ancient Weirwood at its heart, Robb gestured with his hand, indicating that the Septon be bound to it.
  
  "Robb, please...." his mother sobbed "don"t do this...."
  
  "Listen to your Lady Mother boy, what you plan to do will damm you all for eternity. You are a madman!"
  
  "You come to my home, my Castle, preach against my gods, try and destroy the evidence we have of the return of the Long Night and threaten my wife......."
  
  "Blasphemy! You speak blasphemy, that thing has poisoned your minds, you are gripped by madness, MADNESS!" The Septon shrilled, his voice going hoarse from the sheer effort he put into his screech.
  
  "Madness?" Robb asked, his voice quiet in the sudden silent aftermath of the Septons scream. He gazed around him, seeing grim resolve on the faces of his men, fear in the eyes of many of the southerners. He sought his wife"s face, noticing with some pride that she was a grim faced and stoic as the rest of the northerners, her eyes met his and she gave him the slightest of nods.
  
  He turned back to the Septon "Madness? THIS. IS. WINTERFELL!" he bellowed, drawing his sword and beheading the Septon in one single, brutally swift stroke.
  
  Turning away from the slumping, headless corpse he announced "those men who chose to follow the Septon and threaten the Peace of Winterfell have but two choices - join the Septon in the afterlife or take the Black. Lady Catelyn will be confined to her quarters for the time being, that is all."
  
  All of the westerlanders who had followed the Septon decided that life in the Night Watch was preferable to an immediate death, they were hustled away and the crowd began to disperse, none paying any head to the body of the Septon, nor the blood splashed scarlet across the pale bark of the weirwood.
  
  Soon there was only Robb, Cerenna and a handful of guards remaining, Robb noticing the pride and strength in his wife"s gaze as it held his. A small shape detached itself from the shadows, his sister Arya, dressed like a boy as usual and with her hair haphazardly cut short, most likely by her own hand with a knife.
  
  "Well done brother" she announced coldly, turning her gaze to Cerenna "and you my lady, not too bad for a southron" before she dashed off into the enfolding darkness.
  
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  Think an SI into Ned Stark with a Homo Drakensis twist sounds like fun? Well the Black Wolf [NSFW] is the story for you then!
  What would you did if you woke up in Westeros and discovered you had been subjected to an enforced gender change? See the adventures of The Littlest Lioness for all the delightful details...
  Ever fancied being Tywin Lannister? Well now you can find out, courtesy of The Lion in Winter
  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Olenna III
  
  Well now, was this not the most fascinating of news Olenna Tyrell chuckled to herself, sitting in her favourite spot in the gardens of the Red Keep and enjoying the view out over Blackwater Bay. Strong sunlight sparkled on the waves, dazzling splashes of pure white light reflecting off the azure waters. Despite the Citadel announcing that autumn was upon them the weather in Kings Landing had yet to change, the days were as bright and as hot as ever, the nights muggy with the stored heat of the day seeming to bleed out of the very stones of the Red Keep.
  
  The smell was still the same, the Red Keep still stank of the wastes of the half a million citizens of Kings Landing, though thankfully the hill upon which the Red Keep was built allowed the breezes off the Blackwater to carry away the worst of the stench. But the plotting and scheming were still the very same, in fact Olenna was sure that this had to be the most exciting time to be alive, it was only a pity that it had come so late in her life, when she might be removed from the Great Game by the whims and foibles of time and age.
  
  She wagered that not even the end of the Mad King was as interesting as the time she was living in now, though maybe less lethal....though that was debateable.
  
  At least things were kept to the shadows and overt violence was kept to a minimum, as much a sign of the Old Lion"s iron fisted rule as anything else she knew. But now? Well the Great Game was definitely afoot once more, of that she was absolutely certain!
  
  She was surrounded by her gaggle of clucking hens, mostly the daughters of bannermen sworn directly to Highgarden, some also acted as handmaidens Margaery. As to her granddaughter herself, the girl was sitting and chatting amongst them; Olenna caught her eye and beckoned her over.
  
  "Grandmother" Margaery said in a level tone, her eyes cool and unreflective. Good,by her tone the girl knew that serious business was to be discussed.
  
  "Child, have you managed to get the boy kings cock inside you, mouth or cunt? Cunt would be better of course...."
  
  "Grandmother!" hissed Margaery, her face a picture of shock and surprise but Olenna knew the girl was playing a mummers game.
  
  "Oh hush now, there are no "little birds" close enough to hear us now, well?"
  
  "No, not yet I"m afraid. He is guarded constantly, and Lord Tywin keeps him busy morning, noon and night. He spends nigh on half each day with his uncle sparring and practising his sword work, the rest in study with the Maesters, with his Grandfather or in Court. The poor boy has scarce a minute to himself."
  
  There was something of frustration to be heard in her granddaughters voice, but Olenna put it to one side "you will cease in your attempts to seduce the boy King my dear."
  
  "Yes Grandmother" replied Margaery, her gaze asking the question that she was too clever to ask with her mouth.
  
  "There are changes in the Great Game afoot my dear, changes that mean House Tyrell should no longer be seen as being too close to House Baratheon and House Lannister."
  
  "The Targaryen girl...."
  
  "Indeed, this Danerys Stormborn has set the cat among the pigeons my dear" she chortled; proud that Margaery had gotten straight to the matter.
  
  The Seven Kingdoms were not to slumber peacefully under the reign of the Old Lion and his grandson, of that she was now certain, but as to what the Old Lion appeared to be planning? Well she suspected a trap, or at the very least some nefarious scheme to hobble House Tyrell, or at the very least to enhance the power of House Lannister.
  
  Or was it, that was the question now was it not? Her spies had finally been able to ferret out some small titbits relating to the plans of the Old Lion. Ever since she had discovered the severed head of her best agent in the Red Keep in her bed, after she had sent him to silence Petyr Baelish she had spent much effort to regain adequate sources of information. The warning from Tywin Lannister that the severed head had represented had been greatly appreciated by her; she knew that she would have to exercise extreme caution when dealing with the Old Lion.
  
  But then, in her long, long years of life she had come to understand one salient truth above all else. To know your opponents motives was to know them as well as they knew themselves. And the Old Lion"s obsession was with his legacy, and so she supposed she should not be surprised by what she had just learned. And if what her agents reported about the Lady Sansa were true, that the girl was carrying the first of the latest generation of Lannister"s in her belly?
  
  Well then Tywin"s actions made even more sense in that case, did they not?
  
  But, but the sheer gall of the man, to think that he could get away with it! But then nobody ever accused Tywin Lannister of lacking balls, why the man must verily clank when he walks, his stones made of brass, to match his neck she mused.
  
  Reaching out to the Targaryen child in Essos and offering her the Iron Throne on a plate! With the price being the survival of his House, and probably his own mangy hide to boot! And what of Margaery"s marriage to Tommen then eh? At best she would be the Lady of the Stormlands, if at all.
  
  The Targaryen girl had three dragons if rumours were to be believed, along with an Army of Unsullied, and some assorted mercenary riff raff, more than her famous ancestor had, though his dragons had been bigger she had to admit. She also had Varys, the former Master of Whispers and Ser Barristan Selmy, sure to be able to provide the girl with sound enough advice about Westeros and its various Lords, Ladies and factions.
  
  And just what should she do in response to this most amazing of rumours then? Well for a start they were no rumours though; the sources that had relayed this information to her were ones she trusted, so she believed them at face value. Most important was to make sure that Mace did nothing precipitous or stupid, but she repeated herself. Now to the nub of it, what should House Tyrell do to advance its position and ensure survival?
  
  "But not only that my dear, it appears that out Lord Hand has been in contact with the Targaryen girl, who styles herself the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Not only in contact, it appears that Lord Tywin is offering her the Seven Kingdoms on a sliver plate!"
  
  "No doubt in return for his life" Margaery slyly replied, sotto voiced.
  
  "That man is far too clever for his own good, he is bound to come unstuck sooner or later, but yes, Lord Tywin intends to trade the Iron Throne for his life and that of his family."
  
  "I hear she has Dragons, this Targaryen girl, our would be Queen?"
  
  "She does indeed, young dragons yet, but dragons nonetheless. And an Army of Unsullied and sellswords, plus Dothraki savages."
  
  "A pity her brother is not still alive....." Margaery said softly, her face set in a determined look.
  
  "Her brother was a madman by all accounts, no, we"ve had enough trouble with mad Kings and Joffrey....."
  
  "She is unwed, this Targaryen girl who styles herself our Queen?"
  
  "She is...." replied Olenna, looking smug.
  
  "So would that make Willas King or Prince Consort?" Margaery asked, her mouth twisting into a mischievous smile.
  
  "Your father will probably huff and puff but I"ll offer her Willas as her Prince Consort, and the Great Council be dammed. House Tyrell remained loyal to the Dragons to the end; it"s time we made that loyalty pay off."
  
  "And me?" Margaery asked, her voice light and innocent sounding, but Olenna knew her granddaughter well, she could sense the concern behind her words, see the worry behind the perfectly composed mask of her pretty face.
  
  "You are my favourite Margaery, do not worry, your chance will come my dear, of that I am sure...."
  
  For if this Daenerys was to be crowned Queen it was best that House Tyrell stood square behind her, for who could trust the Old Lion eh? He was sure to try and murder this Targaryen girl was he not? And when House Tyrell was able to show conclusive evidence of the Old Lion"s murderous plans, well then...she could see rains weeping over the halls of Casterly Rock.
  
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  Think an SI into Ned Stark with a Homo Drakensis twist sounds like fun? Well the Black Wolf [NSFW] is the story for you then!
  What would you did if you woke up in Westeros and discovered you had been subjected to an enforced gender change? See the adventures of The Littlest Lioness for all the delightful details...
  Ever fancied being Tywin Lannister? Well now you can find out, courtesy of The Lion in Winter
  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Tyrion XVII
  
  "Not something I thought I"d ever live to see" he mumbled, pitching his voice so that his brother could hear him.
  
  "No, I suppose not" replied Jamie, standing behind him and staring at the sight that was both enthralling, and utterly terrifying to him.
  
  Dragons, actual fucking DRAGONS! Soaring and wheeling in the sky before them, their screeches and cries echoing off the cliffs of Dragonstone as they danced and swooped, sometimes diving down to the surface of the water to pluck an unfortunate sea creature from the water with their claws. The largest dragon, with a black body and red wings would haul its struggling prey into the air and toss it away to their front, before immolating it with dragonfire, dashing in to devour their cooked meal before it could fall back to the sea below. The two smaller ones, one green and bronze coloured, the other cream and gold flew with their catches to a beach, where they cooked and devoured them.
  
  "Blackwater pilot whales" said the ship"s captain, unbidden by either of them, from where he was observing the scene as the ship glided towards the port below the huge, looming presence of the castle of Dragonstone.
  
  "Good eating in them, can feed a hundred men from one of "em easy..."
  
  "Indeed...." he replied, never once taking his eyes off the circling dragons, letting his mind wander back a mere nine days, back to Kings Landing, and to his father, it was always his father he mused, always his godsdammed cunt of a father.
  
  
  "You want me to do what now?" his voice rising despite his best efforts, threatening to be a most unbecoming squeal.
  
  His father regarded him from the semi shadow as he sat behind his great desk, more games and mummery from his father, thinking to intimidate him, and his brother Jamie in this so obvious a way. Outside the Office of the Hand night had fallen, fallen on a day that Tyrion was sure he would never forget until his dying breath. For Robb Stark, his wife and infant son, along with his brother Bran and his bastard brother Jon, some Black brothers and even some Wildlings, along with the Red Priestess who had once consorted with Stannis, and one Ser Davos, another former Stannis loyalist had arrived in Kings Landing. And with them.....and with them, in a sturdy crate a thing from the deepest, darkest nightmare.
  
  The wight, as it was called, had been shown to the Small Council, the King and the Tyrell"s, along with the High Septon and the Most Devout. Everyone was terrified of it, as it had burst screeching from its crate, thankfully chained. It had trashed with unnatural life, its bright blue eyes full of the madness of the dammed. It stank powerfully of decay and rot, yet it moved with terrifying speed and purpose, making for the nearest living thing to attack it with its bony, claw like hands. Thankfully it was heavily garbed and tied with chains and it was brought up short, snarling and gnashing its rotten teeth, wailing piteously as it was dragged back by four men, two black brothers and two wildlings, who manhandled the thing via its chains back into its crate.
  
  He surveyed the scene, everyone apart from the Northern party was frozen in shock and sheer, utter horror, everyone that is except his father, who stood still and unemotional, his face might as well have been carved from granite for all the emotion it displayed.
  
  Interesting he mused, very, very interesting, but then mayhaps not so interesting he noted sourly. This was his father after all, the Old Lion, the man whose actions prompted the "Rains of Castamere". And it was not that his father was unafraid of these things, no, for that would be stupid, and Tywin Lannister was many things, but stupid was not one of them. No, Tywin Lannister not only knew about these fantastical things, he was already planning and plotting to defeat them, in fact if he knew anything about his father he would wager that Tywin Lannister not only knew how to defeat these creatures, but that he had a complete strategy worked out. A memory tickled at his mind, his father informing Cersei that he "knew a great many things, things which others might dismiss as rumours and as fantastical. But which he knew were true."
  
  This did of course lead him to ponder about his father"s actions over the last few years. And to re-examine them in a whole new light, and to admit somewhat grudgingly that his Lord father was an even better player of the Great Game than he had been willing to admit.
  
  That night there was a small feast, more like a family dinner in reality - him, his father, Sansa, Jamie, Tommen, Robb Stark and his wife. His father kept the talk relatively light, only making the odd reference to the day"s events, probably to spare the sensibilities of the ladies present. Lord Robb seemed to be in better fettle since he last saw him, certainly less sour and broody, no doubt the influence of his beautiful Lannister wife; the chit had probably sucked all of the young Wolf"s ire right out of the tip of his cock!
  
  Afterwards he and Jamie were invited to their father"s Solar, and they learned of their upcoming mission.
  
  "You, along with Jamie are to head to Dragonstone and meet with Danerys Targaryen, you will be the Iron Throne"s ambassador to the girl, Jamie your guard" his father repeated, his tone cool and indifferent.
  
  "You mean her hostages!" he spat, unable to help himself.
  
  "Tyrion, you have seen what we have to face, the Seven Kingdoms can fight those things or it can fight Daenerys Stormborn, it cannot fight both......" his father replied, his voice deep and rumbling from where he sat in semi darkness.
  
  "And what of Roslyn and Tyrone?" he asked, terrified at what he suspected was the answer. While he cared little for his wife in truth, he did care about his son, a babe barely a year old and one who showed no sign of his affliction. And one whose golden hair and green eyes marked him as a Lannister, true and true.
  
  "They will stay in Kings Landing, Danaerys Targaryen has asked that as many High Lords and their families as possible be in Kings Landing when she finally arrives in Westeros."
  
  "So more hostages then" he replied, unable to hide the bitter tone in his voice. And a part of him could not help but wonder if his father was losing his touch, for this seeming surrender to the Targaryen girl appeared to be, well, out of character for his father. No, no that was not right, his father was up to something, he was acting according to a plan that he was not sharing with him or Jamie, that, that was obvious to him now. The wight and the coming Long Night were obviously a prime constituent of his father"s plans, that much was blatantly obvious, but beyond that Tyrion was stumped as to what his father planned.
  Mayhaps he planned to finish the work that The Mountain had begun all those years ago? Or he could be genuinely more scared by what that wight represented than the thoughts of his own survival?
  
  But now that the Lady Sansa was with child, and with twins apparently, his Lord father"s actions in sending him and Jamie to Dragonstone were a stark reminder that some things about Tywin Lannister never changed....
  
  But, even if he strongly suspected that Jamie and him were no longer of that much use to the Old Lion, why would he be risking his so called legacy, with the babes in Lady Sansa"s belly not even born yet?
  
  It was a conundrum that was already churning his mind into a storm of doubt and uncertainty.
  
  Never mind that he and his father had become closer; never mind that his heir, his son Tyrone was of "perfect" Lannister stock. No, Tywin Lannister was not someone to forgive or forget, nor was he a man to ignore an opportunity presented to him. The Stark girl"s attempt to end the War of the Five Kings without the annihilation of her family had presented the Old Lion with the perfect chance to try again with his legacy. A sour and resentful part of him hoped the twins growing in Lady Sansa"s belly were a boy and a girl; would not that be a great jape for the Gods to play upon his father eh?
  
  "You will depart on the next tide for Dragonstone, Daenerys Targaryen and her forces have arrived a few days ago to take up residence there."
  
  "You, you let her, her dragons, eight thousand Unsullied and fifty thousand Dothraki Screamers set up camp right off Kings Landing?" asked Jamie, his voice steadily rising in pitch and anger.
  
  His father turned his gaze to his eldest son, pausing a few seconds to let an intimidating silence settle, before saying "I did Jamie, and do you know why?"
  
  Silence greeted his father"s question, until Lord Tywin decided to answer his own question "Let us for a moment ignore the eight thousand or so Unsullied and the several thousand of the Second Sons and concentrate on the Dothraki shall we? There are rumoured to be 50,000 Dothraki Screamers with Daenerys, lets also ignore the fact that they have also brought their herds, slaves and their families with them, their so called "nation-in-arms". Typically each Screamer has five remounts at least with him, so that"s a quarter of a million horses alone. Each one of their horses, and they are not Westerosi horses, they are smaller and hardier than a destrier, requires 6 lbs of hay and barley a day if they are not let out to pasturage, along with five gallons of water a day. Where they put out to pasturage a quarter of a million horses would require four thousand, four hundred acres of pasturage, or eleven and a half square miles per day to sustain itself. Horses grazing fresh pasturage would only require two and a half gallons of water per day. Dothraki horses typically graze for ten hours a day if feeding exclusively on pasturage to eat their daily fill. And that is before taking into account the needs of her men for food, or their herds. The Dothraki probably depend on their flocks and herds for food, but everyone else needs a minimum of 2 pounds of milled wheat - and that"s an absolute minimum ration."
  "So?" Jamie asked, his tone petulant "All you have done is forced her to act quickly!"
  
  "An amateur talk"s tactics, a professional talk"s logistics" he interjected to break the staring match between father and eldest son that had developed in the silence after Jamie"s last outburst.
  
  "What options does the girl have Tyrion, with all her strength gathered on Dragonstone, a short ride on Dragon back or a few days sailing from the heart of power in Westeros?" his father asked him, his father"s eyes never leaving their focus on Jamie.
  
  "She can strike Kings Landing with her Dragons to try a "decapitation strike".....but all those new Scorpions, Catapults and Bolt Throwers that have decorated the walls of Kings Landing and the Red Keep over the last few years, plus the repairs and upgrades to the defences on Kings Landing in general now make much more sense......she could attack with her Dragons and her Army with the intent of capturing Kings Landing, the longer she stays on Dragonstone the more dependant she is on supplies arriving by sea. She has three Dragons and had enough shipping to move her army in one go from Essos to Dragonstone, so she might be able to keep herself supplied on Dragonstone in that case, so long as the Navy of the Iron Throne doe not interfere with her supply lines. She could crush us if she was of a mind. No, there is something else here father, it"s the Others..."
  
  "Your aunt Genna always said you had my mind" his father growled at him through teeth that were just the slightest bit clenched, he dipped his head in recognition of his father"s praise, however begrudgingly given.
  
  "The girl who imagines herself Queen no doubt thinks she holds all the cards, and that I have gone soft in the head, or that I"ve finally lost my nerve. Varys no doubt is advising her not to trust me, but the girl came when bidden, when I offered her the Iron Throne...."
  
  "You did what?" gasped Jamie, a look of utter disbelief exploding onto his face. "She, she will kill us all father, without a thought of mercy! Have you gone mad?"
  
  "Tyrion?" his father asked him, ignoring Jamie"s outburst.
  
  "I, I am not in the full possession of all the facts that you appear to be basing your calculations on father, but......you offered her the Iron Throne in exchange for the lives of your family, not yours though. Tommen will step down and become Lord Paramount of the Stormlands, the invite you will no doubt have me give to her to come to Kings Landing will be phrased in terms of ensuring a "peaceful and swift" handover of power."
  
  "And?" his father asked, his voice low and menacing, despite it being utterly without emotion.
  
  "Hrmmmmm, you no doubt have sent ravens to the other Lords Paramount to come to Kings Landing, though the Dornish and the Iron Born are likely to ignore you. And.....and you have not yet told the girl about these others, have you?"
  
  "Clever boy" was all the old Lion said in reply.
  
  
  Dragging his mind back to the present a part of him thrilled that he was seeing real Dragons, and soon also real Dothraki and Unsullied in the flesh as it where. But then again the girl was the Mad Kings daughter, his brother had murdered her father and their father had murdered her family. She might very well kill them on sight, maybe even have her dragons burn them, and maybe even eat them afterwards, though there would not be much eating in him he japed in the privacy of his mind.
  
  "If we don"t make it out of here alive, it was a pleasure being your brother Jamie."
  
  "Has fatherhood robbed you of your wit and thirst for life?" Jamie joked in response.
  
  "No, but you have to admit that Targaryen girl is as likely to burn us alive as offer us bread and salt!"
  
  "Maybe, maybe not. We shall have to see won"t we?"
  
  "I don"t like those odds Jamie; I like my skin far too much....."
  
  "We are expendable Tyrion, now that Lady Sansa is pregnant, and with twins to boot, father has no need of us anymore. Danaerys would do him a favour by killing us, thus keeping his hands free of the stain of kinslaying."
  
  "Lady Sansa has not yet given birth to our half siblings yet Jamie, and he is not a reckless man, our father. Cold, heartless, calculating yes, but not reckless, nor a fool."
  
  "He"s still a cunt though" quipped Jamie.
  
  "Aye, that he is..."
  
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  Sansa XIX
  
  Sansa lay against the flank of Tywin, as was his want he was naked in bed, she wore a thin cotton night gown, for she was never able to be quite as comfortable with casual nakedness, even in bed with her husband. Tywin"s arms were wrapped around her belly, cupping the considerable bump that denoted the twins growing inside her. The decision to secretly cease taking the Moon tea had been a little rebellion on her part, one which Tywin in the end had been only slightly annoyed with her about. She had expected the Old Lion to be angrier with her when he found out, she had even been prepared to lie and say that Moon tea was not always effective in preventing seed quickening, and the Gods knew Tywin had seeded her womb enough for her to get with child....she blushed slightly at this, sex was good, it was more than good, it was very, very enjoyable, and so both of them had not stinted from engaging in it. And strangely, even though she was with child, she found herself desiring to have sex with Tywin more and more, something which pleased both of them to be honest.
  
  "How is Sandor getting on?" she heard Tywin ask her, the rumble of his words low in the darkness of their bed chamber.
  
  "He is fine, especially now that he has learned to stop calling me "little bird" she snorted with some slight annoyance.
  
  Tywin let out a little chuckle at that "Yes Sandor Clegane"s arrival in Kings Landing was a surprise, seeing as the last time he was here he left with a ringing "fuck the king"!"
  
  "He, he said...."
  
  "Hrmmmmm? He said what?"
  
  "He, he said that I had exchanged the bars on my prison for those made out of gold...."
  
  "Did he now? Same foolish, stupid, pig-headed bravery as always then" mumbled Tywin.
  
  "Are, are you...?"
  
  "No, I"m not going to do anything, this time. So long as Clegane behaves himself and guards you to the best of his ability....he is a bannerman of mine, and the heir to his house....and I promised him that he could eat as many chicken wings as he wanted, so long as he stays in the service of House Lannister" Tywin replied to her question, mirth evident in his voice by the end of his answer.
  
  "Sa....Celgane, he, he does certainly like those "hot wings" of yours Tywin" she replied, still frankly amazed by the whole affair. The Hound had returned to Kings Landing, all scowls and fierce anger, for what reason she could scarce determine, she did not believe his gruff assertions that he had nowhere else to go. She would have thought that based on his rumoured desertion from the service of King Joffrey that he would have avoided Kings Landing like the plague, but no, the Hound had turned up one day, bold as brass and twice as fiercely scowling as she remembered.
  
  It had quickly emerged that he had rescued her sister Arya and delivered her to Winterfell, and for that alone she was thankful for the Hound"s service, but when Tywin had proposed that Sandor be her Sworn Sword, now that had taken her aback.
  
  Even more surprising had been Tywin"s means of securing the Hounds loyalty - endless chicken wings, legs and thighs baked and smothered in what her husband called "Franks Hot Sauce". Who, or what "Frank" was she did not know, but the pieces of roasted chicken slathered on the sauce were certainly far too hot for her to enjoy. Tywin and the Hound on the other hand seemed to revel in eating veritable buckets of them, and with the sauce the hotter the better. Who would have thought that the ferocious Hound could have been brought to heel with the aid of spicy chicken?
  
  "Sandor is not technically eating chicken though; mostly capons, quail and pearl hens go to satisfy his urges for poultry. And no, I won"t be letting anyone know the secret of Franks Sauce either..." he chuckled.
  
  Sansa let the silence stretch out between them, comfortable with it in a cosy, drowsy sort of way, until she decided to ask the questions that had been spinning around her head for days now. She did not fear asking these questions of her husband, the opposite in fact, but she realised she feared the answers more than the questions themselves.
  
  The events of the last few days had been, well, what was it that Tyrion had jokingly referred to them as? Oh yes, grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented! As good a description as any Sansa mused for what had taken place.
  
  The arrival of the contingent from the North, Robb his wife and their infant son Brandon were a joy to see, Cerenna had blossomed into quite the Northern Lady she realised, and both her and Robb seemed content and happy with each other, and Brandon was a delightfully cute baby, blonde of hair and with grey/green eyes. If the party that had visited Kings Landing were confined to these she would have been more than delighted, to enjoy the company of her brother, his wife and their baby son.
  
  But the party from Winterfell had contained many more; her brother Bran was, well he was a stranger to her, his face slack and distant, his eyes flat and emotionless. This was not the Bran she remembered from Winterfell, this, this was a stranger to her, barely even recognisable as her brother.
  
  The Red Priestess, one Mellisandre of Asshai seemed to be taking far too much of an interest in her brother to her liking, and in her husband. A flash of pure jealously stormed through Sansa"s mind, the Red Priestess was a woman grown, with a woman"s body sheathed in scandalously revealing gowns of crimson. She had not failed to notice this Melisandre"s smouldering gaze on her husband, and she was appalled at her sheer gall to presume to look upon Tywin in that regard. And she knew Tywin was spending a lot of time closeted with the Red Priestess and her brother, and her half brother also.
  
  Jon had come south also, but strangely he no longer wore the garb of a brother of the Nights Watch, instead clothing himself in the plain greys and muted browns of the North.
  
  Then there were the Wildlings and Brothers of the Nights Watch, supposedly sworn enemies but they seemed to be agreeable enough towards each other all the same.
  
  She shivered unconsciously as her mind passed over the unveiling of the wight, the thing terrified her almost beyond rational thought, but Tywin, well Tywin seemed, if not terrified, at least only concerned.
  
  "Tywin?"
  
  "Hrmmmm?" he asked, bending his head down to inhale the scent of her hair and plant a feather light kiss on the top of her head.
  
  "That, that thing.....you, you are going to show it to Danaerys Targaryen tomorrow aren"t you?"
  
  "Of course, ironically without the threat it represents she would burn us all to death in an instant..."
  
  Something clenched inside of her, she was a Lannister now, the two lives growing in her belly were Lannister"s, would this daughter of the Mad King see her and her babies dead in revenge? Did she even need to ponder what fate Tywin was likely to suffer should the girl become Queen, through peaceful or violent means?
  
  "And, you think it will be enough Tywin....."
  
  "No, probably not" he replied, a shocking weariness evident in her husband"s voice.
  
  Sansa twisted around, breaking the grip of his arms around her, her face flushed and angry in the darkness, her eyes seeking Tywin"s. "And you, the Old Lion, the man about whom the "Rains of Castamere" were penned, are going to let this happen? Let this, this...bitch, destroy you and your line?!"
  
  A bubbling chuckle escaped Tywin"s mouth, before it died and she could see his lips thin and set.
  
  "No Sansa, of course not, but you must remember that the only thing that matters, the only thing, is that you survive. You carry the future of my House in your womb, and if I must die to ensure that you and our children will live, then I will pay that price, willingly..."
  
  "No Tywin, please" she gasped, tears beginning to form at the corners of her eyes, a sour lump forming at the back of her throat.
  
  "Sansa, you saw that thing, you know what it represents. The Long Night is real, the Army of the Dead is real, the Night King is real. The Great War is coming Sansa, the only War that matters, the war between the living and the dead. If any of us, any of us are to survive we need to be united and prepared....I....I became aware of this threat to Westeros shortly before the Battle of Blackwater Bay. Everything I have done since then....everything, was to prepare the realms of men for this threat. We must win Sansa, for if we lose, all of mankind will be wiped out, and this time forever."
  
  "Tywin...." she sobbed, tears streaming down her face.
  
  "Sansa, Sansa, I don"t plan on letting that Targaryen girl kill me, and I plan on surviving the coming Long Night, which hopefully will be a short one..... but, you must be brave, and you must realise that my chances of survival, no matter what, are not good....."
  
  "Please don"t say that Tywin, please?"
  
  "Do you want me to delude you Sansa, tell you stories about valiant knights triumphing over evil, returning to wed their fair maidens? You are the Lady of a Great House; the wife of the Hand of the King, such foolishness is unbecoming of you...."
  
  Sansa pivoted away from Tywin and flung herself into the mattress, curling into a ball and softly crying, pulling the thin blanket up over her.
  
  Her husband did not reach out to comfort her; instead he got up out of bed and left their chambers, leaving her to cry her tears alone.
  
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  Varys V
  
  "I should have you killed here and now" the Targaryen girl said from where she sat resplendent upon the throne of Dragonstone, the two Lannister brothers standing before her. Dothraki and Unsullied guards ringed the throne room; both Lannister"s were unarmed, though how Ser Jamie thought to fight with his right hand missing and the Imp, though brave, was no warrior, of that he was certain.
  
  Ser Barristan Selmy, resplendent in white armour chased with red and black highlights, stood to the queens left, his hands folded before him.
  
  "You could" replied the Imp in a casual manner, Varys pleased to see that Tyrion was keeping his fear in check.
  
  "I could?" replied Daenerys icily "you make it sound like I require permission!"
  
  "You do not" came back Tyrion"s reply, as level and deadpan as the self styled Dragon Queen"s was hot and angry.
  
  "I could take Kings Landing even now, with my Dragons, my Dothraki and my Unsullied, I could be sitting atop the Iron Throne before the week is out!"
  
  "You could, if you wanted to..." said Tyrion, seemingly unfazed by the girl"s tirade "and yet you have not made any move to take Kings Landing, you sit here on Dragonstone, and you accept my father"s offer of us" here he gestured to his taller and much handsomer brother standing one pace behind and one pace to the Imp"s right.
  
  "I have not accepted anything from your father Imp!" Daenerys hissed.
  
  "Yet." Responded Tyrion evenly, stating the obvious.
  
  Varys mentally prepared himself for the coming execution of the Lannister brothers, no doubt via dragonfire, much like Illyrio, his son and that fool Jon Connington. He had warned the Cheesemonger that the girl was, well how had he put it? Oh yes, "convinced that the Iron Throne was hers by might and by right", and that she would have to be handled very carefully in regards to her introduction to the so called "perfect Prince", supposedly Aegon Targaryen but in truth the fruit of Illyrio"s own loins and a Blackfyre womb. But no, Illyrio has insisted and instead had turned up with "Aegon", Jon Connington and a thousand of the Golden Company in tow.
  
  It had gone as he had feared it would, Daenerys had reacted badly to the story that Illyrio had spun, of him becoming aware of the secret mission of Jon Connington, who had been supposedly charged by Rhaegar himself with spiriting his baby son out of Kings Landing. Of the Prince swapped with some smallfolk babe, the leavings of some nameless dragonseed apparently, who suffered to have its head bashed in by the Mountain that rides. Of how Jon Connington and his band of intrepid wayfarers had kept the boy safe, of how they spent their time training and schooling the boy, so that one day he might take back his birthright.
  
  As the tale had gone on Varys had noticed Daenerys become more and more annoyed, more and more agitated with the whole affair. And then Illyrio had broached the subject of marriage, how Aegon and Daenerys should be married, so as to solidify their claim to the Iron Throne.
  
  He had wondered what had possessed the Cheesemonger to make such an elementary mistake, why had his co-conspirator rushed things so? Had they worked together, had Illyrio not introduced the matter of marriage, maybe, then maybe all that was left of the Cheesmonger and his son would not be dragon shit somewhere in Essos.
  
  Daenerys"s eyes had blazed with fury at the mention of marriage, and she reminded Illyrio of the last time he was involved in matters pertaining to her hand. The Cheesmonger had deftly tried to deflect her anger and rage, but to no avail. His honeyed words had fallen on deaf ears, as had his increasingly shrill pleas and protestations that he was only ever a loyalist to the cause of the Dragons.
  
  Daenerys had her Unsullised and Dothraki drag the Cheesmonger, Jon Connongton and the boy Aegon outside and her dragons swooped and landed at her side. The largest one, black of body and crimson of wing, who was named Drogon after the Dothraki husband whose funeral pyre had given birth to the dragons shuffled over to sniff at Aegon, the other two dragons also advanced, but kept to either side of Drogons considerable bulk.
  
  Small growls and snorts issued from the beasts, enough to make any man"s bowels turn to water, as evidenced by the stains spreading down the leg of Aegon"s pants.
  
  With a sudden roar, and a movement so swift that Varys scarce could credit it the three dragons reared backwards and unleashed three jets of liquid flame to bathe the Cheesemonger, his son and Lord Connington. Their terrible, souls searing screams were mercifully short, as they collapsed Drogon dived his great snout forwards and gobbled the three blazing figures in a single mouthful, rearing back up and throwing his head back to the sky, bellowing out a roar once he had swallowed the morsels that had once been father, son and deluded Lord.
  
  "He was no Dragon, this so called "Aegon"" said Daenerys in a cool, unemotional voice. "the Golden Company can remain in my service should they want, or they can depart, but not before swearing to never take up arms against me or mine."
  
  The commanders of the Golden Company wisely took the knee then and there.
  
  "Is he always this....difficult?" asked Daenerys, tilting her head to make eye contact with him, pulling him out of his reminiscences. The Golden Company was currently not on Dragonstone, it was gathered in Pentos, awaiting instructions to cross over to Westeros.
  
  "Lord Tyrion is an accomplished wordsmith your Grace, and do not let his antics fool you. He is one of the smartest men I know."
  
  Daenerys turned her face away from him, not giving any indication that she had even heard him. "Your father..." she said through gritted teeth "....has offered me the Seven Kingdoms, on the condition that I come to Kings Landing and meet with him and the High Lords of the Realm. If he thinks to convene a Great Council to decide the future ruler of Westeros he is sorely mistaken. What are my House"s words Lord Tyrion?"
  
  "Fire and Blood....your Grace" replied Tyrion Lannister, his voice wavering by only the slightest of degree.
  
  "Yes, Fire and Blood, it will be for the best that the Lords of Westeros remember this...."
  
  
  Varys dragged his mind back to the present, marching with a contingent of ten thousand Unsullied towards a bare field on the outskirts of Kings Landing. Said field was open and untilled, one could see all around for leagues, unobstructed by forest, buildings or undulations in the terrain. Off in the distance Kings Landing shimmered in the heat haze of the late afternoon, its walls indistinct. The great bulk of the Red Keep loomed over it, seeming to squat like a great dragon, lording over the city. No doubt an image planned by its original builders he mused.
  
  Set in the field was a crimson pavilion, its walls absent, only its canopy giving shade and relief from the sun. Despite it being officially autumn the sun rode high in a cloudless sky, the temperature high enough to be slightly uncomfortable for Westeros.
  
  With him marched the two Lannister brothers, slightly sullen and certainly less talkative than was usual, and if he was not mistaken he detected the definite undercurrent of fear in both men.
  
  Probably not surprising given how if things did not go to plan, both would probably be dead by sundown. Though the central question remained - to whose "plan" exactly did the brothers expect, or fear, would the meeting follow?
  
  Was this a trap set by the Old Lion? His final revenge upon the Targaryen"s for the decades of humiliation heaped upon him by Aerys the Mad? But if it was, it did not make sense to him? Why this meeting, in a place where a trap would be visible from leagues around? And what of the girl"s three dragons, whom she would be bringing to this meeting, how would one deal with those beasts? Add to this the fact that the Old Lion, his wife, Lord Robb Stark and family, Lord Edmure and his wife, along with a coterie of Westerosi nobles would all be present.
  
  And the Tyrell"s - the Queen of Thorns and her granddaughter had apparently been thwarted from leaving Kings Landing by the Hand of the King, and were going to be present.
  
  Speaking of which, he spied banners swaying in the distant heat haze, Dothraki riders approached a few minutes later, had a brief conversation in their guttural language with Greyworm, before wheeling off again, galloping away.
  
  Greyworm nodded to him, all seemed to be in order, their erstwhile hosts were approaching it seemed, and with nothing to cause any concern from the commander of the Unsullied. Small parties of Dothraki fanned out all around their column, ever watchful and alive to the fact that everyone suspected some sort of a trap.
  
  Reaching the pavilion, which was obviously owned by Tywin Lannister he gratefully stepped into the shade offered by its canopy, there were chairs arranged around three of its sides facing inwards, the fourth side was open.
  
  A small number of servants were on hand, they directed them to one side and to be seated. As per the arrangements the Unsullied marched to stand in serried ranks behind were Varys had taken his seat, two dozen assorted Unsullied and Dothraki stood arrayed in the pavilion directly behind them, under instructions to be ready for any treachery, and to kill the two Lannister hostages as an absolute priority should betrayal rear its ugly head.
  
  Despite his best efforts he had been unable to learn much from either Lannister brother, the smaller one was far too clever to reveal anything of use, the handsomer one was too stupid to even realise what Varys was seeking. For he was seeking the real reason for this, well for this mummers farce set in a field several leagues from the walls of Kings Landing, for that was what it was. Both sides were not, could not be ignorant of what the other desired, and that those desires were utterly at odds with one another. And yet....and yet, something tickled at the mind of the Spider, something that he disliked intensely, the simple fact that he did not know exactly what Lord Tywin was up too. His actions on the face of it made little sense, based on everything he knew of the man, but....with the Lady Sansa with child and with Tywin apparently prepared to offer up his life in return for that of his family and a peaceful restoration of Targaryen power? Mayhaps the Old Lion was being pragmatic in the face of insurmountable odds? Or was Tywin Lannister playing another game entirely? One which he frustratingly only had the barest glimmers of? His agents had reported that Lord Robb had brought something in a largish crate with him from the North, the contents of which his agents had not been able to verify. But whose contents had apparently terrified all those who saw it. Varys was greatly troubled by all of this - and he had advised Daenerys show caution in dealing with Lord Tywin, he chuckled at this - "caution!" Hah! An understatement if ever there was one. That he could offer no more insights into the Old Lion"s motives beyond speculation had lessened his usefulness in Daenerys"s eyes, of that he was certain.
  
  His musings were broken by the arrival of the party from Kings Landing, a grim faced lot, and that for once was not just the Northerners either.
  
  King Tommen was accompanied by his Grandfather, who in turn was accompanied by his wife, his good brother Robb Stark, his wife and Lord Brandon Stark, obvious by the wheeled chair he was being pushed in, by a rather stern, if sad faced girl. And speaking of stern and sad, Lady Catelyn Stark was also present, looking ill at ease and frankly like she wished to be anywhere but here.
  
  The rest of the northerners consisted of a smattering of what might be Lords, he was unsure due to their style of dress; Black Brothers from the Nights Watch, and what he was sure were Wildlings, of all things. Sandor Celgane, the Hound was present, apparently sworn to the Service of Lady Sansa, an unusual move he had to admit, and one his agents had yet to more fully probe and understand, given the Hound"s admitted hostility to the Lannisters.
  
  Lord Edmure, his wife and a coterie of Riverlander Lords was next, then a smattering of Stormlands and Crownlands Lords rounded out the ensemble. Well not quite, a Red Priestess, one Melisandre of Asshai was standing confidently, nay brazenly, towards the front of the group. And skulking at the back, seeming to be part of the contingent of the Nights Watch, though not wearing their garb, was who he assumed to be Jon Snow, Ned Stark"s bastard son. Who was supposed to be a Brother of the Nights watch, though Varys was adept enough to notice that the bastard was holding himself apart from those of the Nights Watch. His manner of doing so was subtle enough, but readily apparent to Varys"s eyes.
  
  And then there were the Tyrell"s, Olenna and Margarey, accompanied by a small contingent of Tyrell guards, among whom were Lady Olenna"s personal guards, named "left" and "right", and Ser Loras Tyrell. The Tyrell"s were keeping their distance from the Lannisters, that much was obvious to him, and that spoke volumes in his mind. The alliance between the two Houses was on rocky ground, or so it appeared....Willas Tyrell was as yet unwed, mayhaps there was an opportunity there, and Daenerys would need a husband would she not? And then who better than the heir of the largest kingdom in the realm? Hopefully she would not burn this particular suitor for her hand...
  
  "Jamie, Tyrion" said Lord Tywin, approaching them, breaking his train of thought, wearing his trademark crimson and black garb, Varys supposed that the fact that the Lannister Lord was not wearing armour could be construed as a good sign, or so he hoped.
  
  "We are well father, thank you so much for asking after our health and wellbeing" replied the littlest Lannister Lord, biting acid evident in his voice.
  
  The Lord Hand did not even spare his youngest son a glance at this outburst, his gold flecked green eyes instead holding his, staring with the Old Lion"s usual glaring intensity.
  
  "Lord Varys" the Old Lion growled, dipping his head by the merest fraction.
  
  "My Lord Lannister" he replied, giving a rather deeper bow in response, but not using Tywin"s title of Hand of the King deliberately, a small, petty thing, but nonetheless the merest of slights.
  
  "I assume that Daenerys Stormborm will be arriving atop a dragon, with her other two dragons in tow?" the Old Lion asked, his tone of voice indicating little real interest in the answer. Varys nearly smiled at Tywin"s lack of use of Daenerys"s royal titles, a subtle rejoinder to him not using the Lannister Lord"s title as Hand of the King.
  
  "Indeed, my Queen does like to make an entrance" he smiled back at Tywin Lannister, his face split into a grin that did not reach his eyes.
  
  "She"s late" replied the Old Lion, before he turned away from him and strode back towards his party.
  
  "What a colossal cunt" he heard Tyrion Lannister whisper under his breath.
  
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  What would you did if you woke up in Westeros and discovered you had been subjected to an enforced gender change? See the adventures of The Littlest Lioness for all the delightful details...
  Ever fancied being Tywin Lannister? Well now you can find out, courtesy of The Lion in Winter
  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Tyrion XVIII
  
  "This, this is....strange do you not think father?" he asked, pausing in eating his meal to say what had been on his mind, taking a sip of wine to wet his throat. Just a sip mind you, seeing as how he was living under his father"s roof again the Old Lion not only disapproved of his drinking, but actively restricted his access to wine, spirits and beer.
  
  "How so?" asked his father in response, the rather dim candle light in the small dining room casting his father"s face into half shadow.
  
  Jamie was not present, as was usual. Despite having been removed from the Kingsguard he showed little inclination to commence his duties as heir to Casterly Rock, and his father seemed equally uninterested in having his first born assume this role. Which was a definitive change in the Old Lion"s previous obsession with Jamie as his heir, and which confirmed Tyrion"s belief that the Old Lion had indeed cast aside Jamie as his heir. And him also he noted sourly, he was effectively removed from the line of succession by having been named Lord of Rosby, with his wife the Lady of said same seat.
  
  "This....no longer living in the Red Keep, you no longer Hand, all of us under, how did you put it? Oh yes "House Arrest"?"
  
  "The surroundings are comfortable enough and certainly of sufficient standards for you?" came the usual growl of a reply.
  
  The house where the Lannister clan in Kings Landing now resided was their usual Town House, with the Starks being housed in one of the properties formerly owned by the late Master of Coin, Lord Baelish. The property where the Starks resided was much larger and more luxurious than the property that the Lannister"s had owned for nigh on three centuries in Kings Landing, and was actually secretly owned by them following the dismemberment and absorption of Baelish"s empire by him, with his father"s tacit support. That not all of Baelish"s ill gotten gains had been made public had allowed him and his father to siphon off quite a bit of Baelish"s wealth. At first Tyrion had not understood why his father had done this, the Lannister"s in general and his father in particular were leagues wealthier than Baelish, and had no need of the sums or properties Baelish had accumulated through graft, theft and deceit. But those funds of Baelish were separate from the acknowledged sources of Lannister wealth, and could come in handy in an emergency, such as like now.
  
  He considered his next words, before deciding that it did not really matter one way or the other.
  
  "We sit here, effectively trapped, while our new Queen listens to the words of her Small Council, none of them friendly to the Lannister"s, indeed her Hand, Prince Oberyn is actively hostile. How can you be sure that Daenerys will not renege on her words father? Or that Prince Oberyn will not decide that he has had enough of waiting for his vengeance, and don"t fob me off with the heads of Lorch and the Mountain; he won"t be satisfied until he has your head!"
  
  His father continued eating, seeming to ignore him until he said "tell me again Tyrion what happened in the Great Sept of Baelor two turns of the moon ago?"
  
  "Daenerys of House Targaryen was crowned the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms."
  
  "And?"
  
  "And? All present bent the knee to her...."
  
  "Before that Tyrion, what happened before that, what allowed the girl to be crowned Queen, and for her subjects to kneel?"
  
  He noticed the specific emphasis his father put on the word subject. "Daenerys of House Targaryen acknowledged her father"s sins and absolved all the Houses involved in Robert"s Rebellion from blame..."
  
  "You are leaving out the most important bit Tyrion...I wonder why?" asked the Old Lion, his voice low, yet carrying the menace that his very being seemed to radiate.
  
  "Daenerys instructed that all be bound over to her peace as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. And that none shall break it to settle any slights, oaths or claim vengeance resulting from any acts carried out during the Rebellion."
  
  "Good, you do remember...."
  
  How could he forget he mused, the great and the good assembled in the Great Sept, the smell of incense filling the air, cloyingly sweet, almost gagging so heavy was the air with its scent. All of them watching as a slip of a girl was crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, the sounds of her dragons roaring and screeching in the air above Kings Landing clearly audible inside the vast, cool, echoing, marble clad space of the Great Sept.
  
  Said Dragons had set up shop as it were in Kings Landing; the largest one Drogon had made the lower bailey of the Red Keep its lair, to be near its mistress no doubt. The green hued one, Rhaegal now nested in the ruins of the Dragon pit, its varied previous occupants removed by a combination of the beasts own presence, its dragonfire, and by the Unsullied for the more stubborn, or stupid salubrious former residents of the vast, ruined structure. The third Dragon, Viserion, who had a distinctly blue tinge to his scales and wings, seemed to prefer to roost among the towers and arched rooftops of the Great Sept itself.
  Apparently the High Septon was none too pleased with this, but was terrified to say anything, from what Tyrion had gathered the Great Sept appeared to be able to accommodate the beast"s weight, at least for now anyway.
  
  And yes, oaths had been spoken, vows had been said, but Tyrion did not trust mere words, even those said in a Sept, before crowds of Lords....But his father seemed to think it was sufficient, and maybe it was. If Daenerys broke her word she would lose the support of many, and with the North, the Riverlands and the Westerlands now tied together by marriage, she should be wary about moving against his father. But she had the Reach and Dorne behind her, a powerful Army in the form of the Unsullied and the Dothraki, both of whom were beholden to her and her alone. And that was before one factored in her Dragons......as he had oft reminded himself, the Blackfyre rebellions only started a generation after the last dragons had died out.
  
  But something was nagging at his mind, something whose shape and meaning remained stubbornly elusive - his father was not, as he was wont to remind people, an "honourable man", and Tyrion could not see the true course of action his father was taking. He did not believe for one second that his father was taking the words said under oath before the High Septon and the Most Devout on face value, the Old Lion had to assume that these would be broken. As to when they would be broken, by whom and under what extenuating circumstances he could not say - though he had his own strong suspicions on that matter.
  And now with Lady Sansa having pupped her twins a mere three weeks ago, his dear father had two more heirs of his body. Small enough things, two boys, strong lunged though, both green of eye, the eldest blonde of hair while the younger sported a darker coloured mop of wispy hair atop his head.
  
  The twins were named Patryk and Brynden, strangely non-Lannister names he mused, but no one had the wit, inclination, or stupidity to remark on this in his father"s presence. Lady Sansa had not gone "into confinement" as some had proposed, including his father"s personal Maester, who had been removed from his post as acting Grand Maester even before the Dragon Queen"s arrival. Olenna Tyrell had Lord Mace"s uncle Gormon Tyrell installed as Grand Maester shortly after the "Four Wedding"s after a Funeral" that some wags referred to the events after Joffrey"s death.
  
  But the Old Tyrell hag"s victory had been short lived, Grand Maester Gormon had been recalled to the Citadel under mysterious circumstances and Grand Maester Marwyn replaced the Tyrell stooge.
  
  Tyrion liked the new Grand Maester, he was a fine conversationalist and he shared his passion for all things dragon, as well as being quick of phrase and of mind. Unlike Gormon who had seemed terribly dull, and as much a Tyrell lickspittle as Pycelle had been a Lannister one.
  
  The Lady Sansa was still recovering from the ordeal of birthing, but she was up and about and though she had not formally returned to her duties as the Lady of the Westerlands, it was likely that she would do so very soon. Like most new mothers the girl had seemed a little overwhelmed by the whole thing at first, but that hidden steel that the girl had soon came to the fore. Unlike his dammed Frey wife, who seemed to spend her days either crying and shutting herself away or dotting on their son, denying, or at least trying to deny him access to the boy. And with no job to occupy his mind he was bored senseless, though the expectation that they would all be murdered in a spectacularly gruesome way, maybe even by dragonfire, did give him some respite from the boredom.
  
  The army of Red Cloaks that had backed up his father"s power as Hand was gone, dispersed back to the Westerlands and replaced by the Unsullied and the newly recreated Gold Cloaks, with Lord Randyl Tarley as their Lord Commander. That was yet another coup for the Reach, already having Garth Hightower as Master of Coin. Varys of course retained his position as Master of Whispers with Adrian Celtiger filling the position of Master of Ships. Barristan the Bold was the Lord Commander of the Queeensguard, though that institution was only three knights strong currently.
  
  At least his father was called to the Red Keep regularly enough, to discuss the preparations for what was being referred to as the "second war for the dawn", and of course he had his duties as Warden of the West and those of a father to newborns to occupy him.
  
  "And how is my goodmother, the Lady Sansa?"
  
  "She is fine, she is young, healthy and strong, she will be back to fulfil her duties soon."
  
  "And my little half brothers?"
  
  "Doing well also, Sansa insists on feeding them herself, something which I approve of."
  
  "Oh?"
  
  "Wet nurses are an expedient when needed, but the milk of its mother is best for a baby. I don"t want the milk of some smallfolk chit being all that nourishes my sons when they are babes."
  
  "Speaking of children.....I hear rumours that our new Queen in barren....."
  
  "Do you now?" replied his father, barely condescending to give him the merest glance. Tyrion"s mind whirled at this response, did his father give credence to the rumours, or did he have proof he wondered?
  
  When his father said no more on the topic, and looked like he would not be drawn further Tyrion he returned his attention to his plate and finishing the meal before him. Typical Westerlander fare this time, a good, rich porter and beef stew, thickly sauced and filled with hearty vegetables and good chunks of tender beef. Roasted potatoes and freshly baked bread accompanied the meal, along with beer and wine, though so little wine he lamented, the carafe of red was small, barely enough to fill his glass twice, maybe three times.
  
  His father was drinking a pale golden beer, apparently Bealish had owned the largest brewery in Kings Landing and his father, as its new owner had been experimenting with different types of beer. The beer his father was drinking went by the strange name of Urquell pilsner, and it was apparently selling in such quantities that the brewery could not keep up with the demand.
  
  He had sampled the product and it was to his liking, refreshingly tart yet not too bitter and with just a hint of sweetness. The foamy head it displayed upon pouring made it very distinctive, as did the fact that the beer could retain this foamy head much longer than other beers. He had taken a tour of the brewery with his father once, marvelling at how the Old Lion could converse with the Master Brewer on such subjects as decoction mashing, Lautering and other such ridiculous sounding terms that obviously related to brewing.
  
  For desert there was a selection of fresh fruit, peaches, figs, plums and apricots. Tyrion passed up on the fruit, while his father took several of each to consume, eating in that deliberate, slightly fastidious way of his.
  
  "Out with it Tyrion, you are glowering, something troubles you" Tywin said after finishing his fruit and pushing the small plate with the assorted stones and discarded skins.
  
  "You, you are plotting something.....I know it..."
  
  "This is the Great Game Tyrion, one is always plotting, if one wants to survive...."
  
  "No, there is...there is something more to this...this time. These, these wights and what you believe is coming..."
  
  ...."I don"t believe it Tyrion, I know it!" hissed his father, interrupting him.
  
  "Nevertheless, though they complicate things, they do not alter the......fundamentals of the Great Game. There is more to this than I can see. And I hope for your sake, and all our sakes, that our enemies cannot see what is so plainly obvious to you father."
  
  "What drives me Tyrion, what motivates me, above and beyond anything else?" his father asked him, the Old Lion"s face neutral and composed looking, but his eyes glared with their usual frightening intensity.
  
  Tyrion decided to be flippant, not knowing why the sudden urge to throw caution to the wind came over him. No, that was untrue; he knew what was making a sour lump of bile sit in the back of his throat. It was the birth of Sansa"s twins and what he knew they represented, one of them would inherit Casterly Rock. His hopes were forever dashed by their birth, even though he had been confirmed the Lord of Rosby, and by none other than Queen Daenerys herself, it was not the same.
  
  "To be right all the fucking time, and to make everyfucking body aware of it....."
  
  "Really? I prefer to think of it as putting the interests of House Lannister first, before my own, selfish desires and wants."
  
  Tyrion could not stop his face from twisting into the veneer of a smile that was more a grimace in truth "Only it"s easy for you to be utterly devoted to family, when you are making all the decisions!" he retorted, irony and sarcasm dripping from his voice.
  
  "Easy for me, is it?" asked his father, his voice strangely harsh.
  
  "When have you ever done something, anything, which was not in your interest, but solely for the benefit of the family!" he spat back, a reckless courage making him feel slightly light headed.
  
  "The day that you were born!" his father replied, every word harshly bitten off, anger and something Tyrion could not quite recognise harshening and roughening the Old Lion"s voice.
  
  "I wanted to carry you into the sea, and let the waves wash you away. Instead, I let you live, to honour your mothers last request that I not kill you. And I did that, I brought you up, because you"re a Lannister!"
  
  Tyrion wanted to recoil from the sheer anger and pain projecting from his father, noticing that his eyes were moist, though they lost nothing of the intensity of their customary glare.
  
  He sat there stunned until his father got up from the table and picked up his chair, moving it and setting it down right beside his. Tyrion gulped involuntarily, not knowing what was about to happen, his mind awhirl with terrifying thoughts.
  
  "Let me tell you a tale Tyrion, a tale of a rebellion based on a lie, of a bastard who never was, and of a Prince that was promised" whispered his father.
  
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  Okay - I have a confession to make - this chapter should have been posted before Tyrion XVIII
  
  Apologies, my bad, anyway, here's the chapter;
  
  Jon II
  
  Jon resisted the urge to pull at his collar, sweating in the heat, despite the shade provided by the crimson canopy above him. His new clothes, a gift from his sister Lady Sansa of all people, though light, comfortable and of better quality than anything he had ever owned, made him feel, well, conspicuous. It was not helped by the fact that Ser Loras Tyrell had started making eyes at him, just like Sansa had predicted!
  
  He cast his mind back to yesterday, keen to take his mind off the seemingly interminable wait for this supposed Dragon Queen and her three magical beasts.
  
  After arriving in Kings Landing by sea, and with the unique stench of the city seeming to clog his nose, he had met the notables of the Red Keep, and then swiftly they were shown the wight, along with Lord Tywin explaining his role in its capture.
  
  Afterwards he had been shown to the quarters assigned to him, bigger and more lavishly appointed than anything he had ever experienced before. His awe at the place was broken by the entrance of his sister Sansa, who was accompanied by a gaggle of servants carrying bundles of what appeared to be cloth. The great, scarred bulk of the Hound gave him a look that seemed to indicate pity and a little amusement, before he left and no doubt took up station outside his door.
  
  "Sansa?" he asked, giving her a bow worthy of her station, for she was no longer just his sister anymore, that girl was gone and replaced by what looked to his mind every inch a southron Lady.
  
  "Jon" she replied evenly, her tone cool and formal.
  
  "What can I do for you my Lady?" he asked, suddenly very wary for some unexplained reason.
  
  "None of this "my Lady" Jon, you are my brother, I am your sister, we are not in public and do not need to maintain the expected norms..." Sansa replied, a mischievous smile suddenly twisting her lips.
  
  "erhhhh, ummmhhh..." was all he could say in reply.
  
  "Now, to business, we cannot have you meeting the Hand of the King looking like that!"
  
  "Like what?" he asked, surprise making his voice rise in pitch and tone.
  
  "This is Kings Landing, you will be at Court while you are here, as a brother of the wife of the Hand of the King, there are certain standards to be maintained..."with this Sansa gestured to the servants, what Jon had originally thought to be bundles of cloth turned out to be clothes instead. And more clothes than Jon reckoned he had ever owned in all his life "Sansa...I cannot..." he said, his voice sounding lame to his own ears.
  
  "You can and you will, I paid for all this from the allowance Tywin gives me, it"s the least I can do, and it makes sure that Tywin does not get into one of his moods when he thinks he is being slighted...."
  
  "Tywin....." Jon said, the name strange on his tongue, he looked at Sansa, the query writ upon his face.
  
  His sister quirked up a delicate eyebrow, despite her belly being swollen with child, or with two of them in this case, Sansa still retained enough of the looks of that little girl he had last seen in Winterfell. Robb had told him of all that had happened to her, of her admission of guilt in the matter of his father"s death, and of how she had insisted on punishing herself for this, with her marriage to Lord Tywin.
  
  Sansa did not look like she was being punished much to Jon"s mind; his sister was dressed in clothes that probably cost more than some whole villages in the North would see in a year of honest work. She was married to arguably the most powerful man in Westeros, carrying his heirs in her womb, no; Sansa had done alright for herself. Maybe it was not the fairytale that she had dreamed of but still...
  
  "Yes Tywin Lannister, the Old Lion....not that old though" she smiled, letting her gaze fall to her pregnant belly, Jon feeling colour rush to his face.
  
  "Anyways, take these clothes in the spirit they are offered, wear them, they will be more practical and comfortable than anything you have now, especially those furs you seem so fond of. It will make you fit in much better at court, and will be sure to set the young maidens tongues a wagging....and to catch the eyes of a certain "Knight of Flowers!"
  
  "Sansa!" he stuttered in reply, not knowing what to say.
  
  "Hush now Jon....and don"t dawdle, the Lord Hand is waiting for you."
  
  "He is?" he asked, his voice coming out as a squeak despite his best efforts.
  
  "Yes, best not to be late, Lord Tywin does not like it when one is late..."
  
  And so he had found himself in the Solar of the Lord Hand, wearing his new clothes, and feeling nervous. As to what he had to be nervous about he did not know, he had faced the Night King, killed wights, wildlings and Others, why did he feel nervous standing before the Old Lion, who was busy writing at his desk.
  Looking up Lord Tywin bid him sit, as the Lord Hand finished his missive, he then rose, poured Jon and himself a goblet of well watered wine, before seating himself behind his desk.
  
  Silence stretched between them, Jon feeling the increasing pressure to say something, anything, until finally he cracked "My Lord Hand, on behalf of the Nights Watch I..."
  
  "I"ve never met a man who rose from the dead before" interjected Lord Tywin, his voice low yet powerful, reducing his rushed babbling to silence, though Jon could not escape seeing something briefly flash across the face of the Old Lion, something strange, wistful even.
  
  "My, my Lord?" he stuttered in reply.
  
  "Lady Melisandre says she did not bring you back, that her god of fire did, but nevertheless, you were dead, killed by your own traitorous brothers, with the scars of your stab wounds under your shirt to prove it...and yet here you are before me...."
  
  "My Lord, I...."
  
  "There is nothing to say young Snow, I know what happened to you, I know of the wights, the Army of the Dead, the Night King, the coming Long Night...I know it all" the Old Lion said, his voice rumbling and powerful, the voice of a man used to command, a man used to having his every word listened to and obeyed.
  
  "Is that...is that why you supported the Nights Watch, sent us supplies?"
  
  "Of course, it"s why I ended the stupid war that was tearing Westeros apart as soon as I humanly could, with a cost to me that many fools thought was too high. I am bound to House Stark, as Houses Stark and Tully are bound to me, House Tyrell might even stop its ceaseless plotting for the merest scrap of advantage and also join with House Baratheon. For the Great War is coming Jon Snow, and we will either beat the dead together or lose separately."
  
  Jon nodded his head at this, still amazed that this man believed in things that he had previously not seen, and who he was in debt to, much as it pained him to admit.
  
  "The Red Witch is not the only one gifted with visions of the future young Snow, I was struck down by a vision myself, probably from the Old Gods, as I travelled from Harenhall to Kings Landing to confront Lord Stannis. I saw many things Jon Snow, things from the future, things from the here and now, and things from the past...."
  
  Jon suddenly found himself tensing, the very air in the room seemingly to be charged with something, something of terrible import.
  
  "As my wife is fond of telling me, I am not an honourable man" at this Jon hissed in his breath, noticing that a small smile briefly lit Lord Tywin"s face at the mention of Sansa "but what I am is a man who cares for his family, and for what family represents Jon Snow. And I am prepared to do whatever it takes so that my family survives, my sons, my relatives, and my wife, your sister. Understand this young Snow, if you understand nothing else....and so we come to you, and who you are...."
  
  "I"m a bastard..." he replied automatically, almost without thinking.
  
  Lord Tywin moved his head to one side, seeming to consider him; his gold flecked emerald gaze holding him like a lion would hold its prey, staring with an intensity that made Jon want to flee the room.
  
  "What do people say of Lannister"s Jon Snow?" he eventually asked, the Old Lion"s voice steady and even a little quiet in the silence of his solar.
  
  Jon thought about it for a second or two "that you always pay your debts?"
  
  "Indeed.....though I may not be an honourable man I swear on the blood of my unborn children that I will never ask of you anything dishonourable Jon Snow."
  
  He sat there for a second or two, his mind spinning and whirling, unable to make sense of what the Old Lion was saying.
  
  "I have need of you Jon Snow, to work with me, to help us defeat the Night King and his Army of the Dead, to turn back the Long Night. But though I need your strong sword arm and you skill as a warrior, we first have to unite the seven Kingdoms. And for that we will need politics, a skill which you Starks are sadly lacking in. I will need you to do my bidding on several matters, without others knowing that you answer to my command in this respect. And in return, when you have completed your tasks on my behalf I will tell you the name of your mother...."
  
  
  A distant screech broke Jon"s train of thought; another answering screech quickly followed the first, and then a third. He had never heard such a sound before, the crowd gathered under the canopy of the pavilion stirred and shifted in their seats. Outside a shriek of "dragons!" tore at the air, an instant hubbub of voices rapidly soared to a mad scramble to get out from under the tents crimson roof and see for themselves. He spied Lady Olenna Tyrell swiping about her with her walking stick, to clear herself a passage to the open air, others equally undignified in the race to spy the legendary beasts of Old Valyria.
  
  The party of Daenerys Targayren did not move at the sound, likewise the Old Lion stayed seated, not even a muscle moving in response to a new series of bellowing roars as in the distance before the tent three dragons alighted on the ground. Upon landing the three beasts roared out what seemed to Jon like challenges, daring anyone to dispute them the right of being the supreme beasts of war.
  
  In truth Jon near swooned at the sight, real, actual dragons.... from the central one, a hulking black and red brute a tiny, silver haired figure dismounted and strode towards them. Behind the girl the three dragons launched themselves back into the air to the accompaniment of deafening roars and screeches, and three gouts of flame, one from each dragon.
  
  As the girl drew closer Jon studied her, she was tiny, petite, yet despite her obviously young age she had the figure of a woman, in near perfect proportions for her stature. The nearer she got the more Jon could see of her features, their almost unearthly perfection, the sculpted planes of her face, her plump, red lips. Large violet eyes blinked as she looked around, her face showing only cool interest, her silver golden hair done up in a complicated braid arrangement. She wore riding leathers that clung to her legs, a long woollen coat that reached to mid thigh covering her torso. Without stopping she took her place among her people, a sash of silver links, looking to Jon"s eyes like dragon bones was worn across her chest, from her right shoulder to her left hip, the clasp at the top of the chain that held her dark red cloak was fashioned as three dragon heads.
  
  Servants scurried around with platters of bread and salt, offering everyone to partake in the tradition of guest right, which everyone did.
  
  With this ritual completed the servants beat a hasty retreat, leaving the assembled Lords, Ladies, Knights, King and potential Queen to stare at each other uneasily.
  
  Lord Tywin broke the silence "we have been here for some time" he remarked, his face stony and unreadable.
  
  "My apologies" the Targaryen girl replied, her voice liquid and as beautiful sounding as her face was looking. Jon scolded himself, he was a bastard, best not to let his thoughts fixate on this Daenerys of House Targaryen, but there was something about her that drew his attention, something he could not help but feel. And below this, a snarling, wild rage at the thoughts of this girl being forever denied to him by virtue of his lowly birth.
  
  "We are a group of people who do not like one another, we have suffered at each other"s hands, though some more than others I will admit. If all we wanted was more of the same there would be no need for this gathering. Daenerys Targaryen seeks to reclaim the Iron Throne, with three Dragons and almost the same number of troops as her illustrious forbearer, who would dare stand against her? Who would risk their life, their legacy to another "field of fire"?"
  
  "And yet here we are Lord Tywin, meeting with the supposed intent of settling our differences and all living in harmony afterwards?" asked the Targaryen girl, her voice strained and angry, but at the same time its timbre was strangely appealing to Jon. He knew of what Lord Tywin Lannister did to Princess Elia and her babes, and he would not begrudge the girl her vengeance were he in her place. Even with the promise from Lord Tywin to reveal who his mother was. And on that very point, why was Lord Tywin waiting to tell him, his mother was likely dead, probably some smallfolk lass, or maybe even a whore, why was the Old Lion holding it over him? Before his mind could ponder this more the Lord Hand spoke again.
  
  "This is not about living in harmony; it is just about living. The same thing is coming for all of us. A general you cannot negotiate with, an army that does not need food or shelter, that does not leave corpses behind on the battlefield. This city contains a million souls, give or take a few thousand, and they are about to become a million more soldiers in the Army of the Dead."
  
  "I imagine that for some that might be an improvement?" quipped the dragon girl, her face twisted into a snarl, which made her even more beautiful in Jon Snow"s eyes.
  
  "This is serious, I would not be here if it were not serious" growled the Old Lion in reply.
  
  "I don"t think this is serious at all, I think this is a trick, some convoluted delaying tactic on your part Lord Tywin. You have asked me here, to discuss matter of state, to have the usurper who currently sits on my throne step down, to allow me to take "peacefully" what is mine by rights?"
  
  Jon felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise up at this, as the sounds of dragon roars reached his ears. Something in him screamed at him to run, to get away, but he could not, he was rooted to the spot, observing the staring match between the slip of a sliver haired girl and the Old Lion. Neither was willing to break eye contact, both glaring at each other with a hate and anger that seemed to almost be a physical thing.
  
  "There is likely no conversation that could erase the last half decade.....but we have something to show you" said the Lannister Lord, who gestured with his hand, his hard gaze never leaving the Targaryen girl"s eyes.
  
  At this Jon stepped forwards and out into the space before the assembled High Born of Westeros to play one of his roles as ordained by Lord Tywin.
  
  "And who is this?" asked the girl, eyeing him coolly, her gaze finally averted from Lord Tywin"s by his movement.
  
  "This is Jon Stark, perviously Jon Snow and also former Lord Commander of the Nights Watch."
  
  "Former Lord Commander? And how does that work exactly" asked the tiny form of Lady Olenna Tyrell "the vows of the Nights Watch are for life, are they not?"
  
  "During the recent unpleasantness in Westeros Lord Rob Stark, as King in the North and the Riverlands signed a decree that legitimised Jon Snow, absolved him of his vows to the Nights Watch and made him his heir. As Lord Robb is no longer a King and has an infant son the second part of that same decree is now null and void. The first and second parts however still have legal force, and there is precedent from before the time of the Iron Throne whereby a Stark King can revoke the oaths of a Black Brother" replied Lord Tywin to the Queen of Thorns, who looked sour and pinched at the reply she received.
  
  Eight men carried the crate that the wight was imprisoned in into the tent, wildlings and Black brothers, setting it down in the middle before all. Tormund gently slid the restraining bolts back from its lid, before giving it a quick kick to tip it over towards were the Targaryen girl sat.
  
  The wight burst out from its confinement to the shocked gasps and screams of the assembled crowd. Well at least those who were not aware of the things existence. Screching and hissing it launched itself towards Daenerys, Tormund and several Black Brothers grasping at the chains that led back from its sprinting form, pulling it up short with a jerk before it reached the silver haired girl.
  
  Screaming and waling the thing thrashed about in a frenzy, before turning back to rush at the men holding its chains. Tormund drew his axe and as it went to leap at him, hands outstretched like claws he swung his weapon, bisecting the wight. If it had stunk before, the stench as its rotten bowels emptied was simply horrendous, he heard several people gag and retch at the reek emanating from the thing. It still wriggled and thrashed about on the ground, hissing and screeching piteously, trying to drag its torso along towards the nearest living being.
  
  Ser Davos stepped out of the crowd, handing him a burning brand, he took it and set the wights lower torso and legs alight, its limbs burning with a strange fierceness, rapidly consuming the leathery flesh of the wight.
  
  "We can destroy them by burning them, and we can destroy them with Dragon glass" he said, his eyes finding the purple ones of the Targaryen girl, holding them with his gaze, never wanting to tear his eyes away from hers, drowning in their violet depths. "If we don"t win this fight, then that" he gestured behind him to where the remains of the wight trashed and hissed "is the fate of every person in the world."
  
  Taking two steps back and to the side he reached down and grabbed the wights arm and lifting its torso up he stabbed it with a dragon glass dagger, instantly cutting of its waling. Dropping the corpse to the ground Jon advanced towards the girl, his eyes once more finding hers and feeling their magnetic pull.
  
  Coming to a stop a mere two feet from Daenerys Targaryen he nodded to her, before saying "There is only one war that matters, one struggle that we should concern ourselves with, The Great War, and it is here."
  
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  Sansa XX
  
  Sansa glanced over at her husband, noticing his eyes rove back and forth, back and forth, ignoring what was going on around him, his eyes fixed on the sight before them.
  
  Winterfell loomed in the distance, atop the hill that allowed it to dominate the slightly rolling countryside it sat in. Before them in the middle distance Wintertown straggled, its untidy assemblage of rather variegated buildings looking, well, untidy to her eyes. An unexpected feeling of embarrassment crept up from the depths of her mind, at the rather poor look of Wintertown, how it looked ramshackle, its appearance made worse by a sea of Wildling tents and lean-to"s that seemed to cover the snowy land around Wintertown.
  
  Beyond this Winterfell proper sat against a slate grey sky, dark and brooding, looking every inch the plain, severe fortress that it was.
  
  Winterfell was no southern keep, for it made little concession to style or ornamentation, it was designed to survive winter and be a defensible home for the Starks, nothing else. It was no fancy statement of wealth or power, no glorified Toll House or barracks to control fertile plains; no Winterfell was something else entirely.
  
  Tywin had been studying the plans of Winterfell on the trip north, often muttering to himself long into the night, pouring over plans, elevations, and maps of the environs of Winterfell. Tywin was a military man and he was obviously making sure he knew the strengths and weaknesses of Winterfell to withstand a siege.
  But this had confused Sansa at first, though she was no expert on military matters she understood that what confronted them was not a normal Army, and it was one that had no use for territory as such, and even less for castles or keeps. If they holed up in Winterfell all they would be doing was asking for the Night King and his Army to starve and freeze them to death.
  
  She had voiced this to Tywin one evening in their tent; he had turned to her in the semi darkness and had whispered "how long did it take you to figure that out?"
  
  "Not, not long Tywin. This, this seems like madness, like we are walking into a trap?" she had whispered back, unable to keep fear from her voice, cuddling into Tywin to huddle against his warmth, his bulk.
  
  "We are, walking into a trap that is, but we have our own trap, inside the trap the enemy hopes to set for us...."
  
  Tywin refused to be drawn further on this matter, much to her frustration, so she had dropped the matter entirely. The Stark contingent that had been forced to remain in Kings Landing was also marching north with them, now that she was also a mother her and Cerenna had deepened their friendship further. The former Lannister girl was a no-nonsense, practical young woman, with a lively wit and sharp enough tongue when it suited her. Her brother Robb was obviously content with his southern wife, as was her uncle Edmure, who had joined then in the northern Riverlands, again with his wife and newborn children in tow. His wife had born him twin girls, and Edmure did not seem too disappointed that his wife had yet to provide him with sons and heirs.
  
  Unlike her, for she had provided her Lord husband with two fine heirs, her sons were in the care of their nannies and wetnurses a way back, riding in a carriage and probably fast asleep. She did feed them herself, at least twice a day, and often rode in the carriage with them, but she preferred riding beside Tywin if she was honest. Clad in riding leathers, cloaked in crimson, now lined with fur to ward off the chill of the North, Sansa liked having the chance to spend time with Tywin. She found that as they had journeyed north he had become more talkative, more likely to make "small talk" and less likely to just talk about matters pertaining to either the Lannister family or the upcoming conflict.
  
  They had been nigh on six weeks on the road now, with Queen Daenerys, her Small Council, her Unsullied and Dothraki, her dragons and an increasing number of the bannermen of various Lords. It was the Army that was to fight the so called "Army of the Dead" and its numbers seemed to swell every day they marched.
  
  Conspicuously absent were the Lords of the Westerlands and the Red Cloaks, they were either coming by sea or were at least a week behind the main body of the Army. This was on deliberate orders from the Small Council and the Queen, ostensibly to prevent any "trouble", but Sansa knew it was a slight to House Lannister.
  
  The Tyrell"s were absent, ostensibly having gone to raise their banners in the Reach, but she suspected otherwise. Tywin was strangely uncommunicative on the matter of the lack of Tyrell"s present. But she knew enough of her husband"s moods to know that he was not one bit impressed with their absence.
  
  Also absent were the Dornish levies, they were coming by ship and would land at White Harbour and march to Winterfell from there.
  
  Lord Tywin was accorded a small measure of respect due to the work he had done in preparing the realm for this new and terrible war, not least his provision of dragonglass for their army. Spears, pikes and arrows were having their iron heads replaced with those of dragonglass, simple wooden cudgels with shards of dragonglass embedded in their heads were another weapon being distributed among the troops.
  
  Many scoffed at the idea of exchanging their steel with dragonglass, but the persistence of her husband on this point beginning to pay off, if slowly. The Red Cloaks following behind were exclusively armed with weapons to defeat these so called Others and their Army of the Dead. Before they had left Kings Landing Tywin had demonstrated these new dragonglass weapons, along with improvements to the Red Cloaks armour to make them more durable against the expected hordes of the dead. Also displayed was a "repeating crossbow" and an attachment for Longbows that Tywin called the "instant Legolas".
  
  Many had grumbled in envy when they saw these things, but Tywin had arranged for these to be made available to any who wanted them, at a price of course. The crown had repudiated its debt to House Lannister shortly after Daenerys had assumed the Iron Throne, and though Daenerys and Tywin had exchanged some cross words on this matter, a fair price was quickly agreed upon for any who wished to purchase these new weapons from Lord Tywin"s arsenals. Also agreed was that the crown would assume the position of sole supplier of dragonglass when the Lannister"s ran out of the supply they had mined from Dragonstone.
  
  The North on the other hand had been gifted enough of these to equip all the Stark Men at Arms who wanted them along with hundreds of sets of a simple partial plate armour for the Stark household guard.
  
  "So that"s Winterfell" Tywin eventually said to her, turning his head to look at her, he was wearing his armour this time, with a heavy crimson cloak wrapped around him for additional warmth.
  
  "Yes husband, my childhood home" she replied. They were in company and she had to observe her niceties, though when alone Tywin seemed not to care anymore, something that had become more pronounced the nearer they had come to Winterfell.
  
  Her husband"s desires had also increased the further from Kings Landing they rode, not that she objected to them, not one bit, feeling heat come to her cheeks at the memories of their near nightly couplings on the journey North.
  
  They slowed to a halt and waited for the Queen and her procession to assemble for the entrance into Winterfell proper, after a seemingly interminable amount of jostling and settling or precedence they moved off again.
  
  The Lannister contingent was at the very rear of the Queens party that would enter Winterfell, and Sansa bristled at the slight being done her House. She risked a glance at Tywin, noticing the way the muscles of his jaw were tight and clenched. A scant six turns of the moon ago none would dare insult the Old Lion so, but now?
  
  "You know they call you the "toothless lion" japed Jamie, who was for once riding with them, probably for the express reason to see his father humiliated like this. The relationship between father and elder son was almost completely sundered, the two men barely tolerating the sight of each other. Despite this Sansa felt no malice towards her from Ser Jamie, he seemed to be utterly uninterested in her, or her sons for that matter. The former Kingsguard spent all his time practising with his left arm to regain something of his skill at the sword, and had little interest in conversation or company. If he sought company at all it was with Lord Bronn, the woman Knight Brienne of Tarth, or with his younger brother Tyrion.
  
  From Tyrion Sansa did feel hostility, which seemed to wax and wane to no apparent rhyme or reason, Lord Tyrion had also resumed his usual drinking habits, annoying his father further. When they had lived in the Lannister Manse in Kings Landing Tywin had restricted his younger son"s drinking, something which she knew Lord Tyrion resented.
  
  Lord Tyrion"s wife and son were also accompanying them north, indeed Sansa could not help but notice that most of Lord Tywin"s bloodline, and that of the Stark"s and Tully"s was accompanying the Dragon Queen North. Jamie was convinced it was so that they could be murdered more conveniently, and was not shy about expressing his opinion on the matter. Her husband did not dismiss his son"s concerns out of hand, and this terrified Sansa greatly, for the thoughts of her sons being murdered in their cribs horrified her, along with drawing a raging anger from deep inside her that she did not know she had.
  
  "Lions do not care for the opinion of sheep" replied Lord Tywin, his voice even, almost offhand sounding.
  
  "Do you think consorting with a seer cripple and a Red Priestess will save you?" laughed Jamie, insistent for some reason on carrying on a verbal feud with his father. "You seemed to favour the company of that odd pair in Kings Landing to an extraordinary extent father. Why if I did not know you better I would think that you intended to convert to the Faith of R"hllor!"
  
  "Or that you were having an affair with the Red Witch!" quipped Tyrion, whose face dropped its grin when his father"s glare was unleashed upon him.
  
  "I"m only repeating what several wags were saying!" the little Lord replied, his voice meek and slightly scared sounding.
  
  "Tyrion....." his father growled.
  
  "Yes, yes father I know...."
  
  "Even your bannermen, a spineless lot at the best of times, think you have had your claws pulled by this Dragon Queen, and that you are just meekly waiting for the headsmans axe to fall!" interjected Ser Jamie, seemingly keen to draw his father"s ire from his younger brother.
  
  Sansa did not know what to make of the comment about Tywin being unfaithful to her, on the one hand she highly doubted it, nothing about him even suggested that he would either do such a thing, or that he did not find her company fulfilling. The Red Priestess was a beautiful woman though, with a full figured woman"s body, which she was not shy about displaying in a wanton manner. Before her train of thought on this annoying matter could continue it was broken by Tywin"s next words.
  
  "You have seen what is coming Jamie, and yet you still jape and concern yourself with things of little real import. Just like your sister you are too selfish to see beyond your nose....and don"t you start either!" he snarled at Lord Tyrion, who was about to say something.
  
  The younger son snapped his mouth shut, and then reconsidering, opened it "Jamie does have a point you know, seeming to be weak....well it can be seen as the same as actually being weak...."
  
  Tywin breathed heavily through clenched teeth for several seconds, before replying "if we live though this, then, then we will see who still thinks the Lions are weak" and with that he spurred his horse on and through the great gatehouse of Winterfell, disappearing into the gathering gloom.
  
  Sansa shivered uncontrollably and turned her mount to follow Tywin into her girlhood home.
  
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  Tywin VIII
  
  Winterfell, he was finally in Winterfell, the home of the Starks and in reality quite similar to that idiotic slapdash "castle" that the show portrayed with hardly an ounce of irony or historical sense. Tywin thought the place a hovel, though he did approve of the defensive measures that the castle was replete with. Double walls for one, and of a proper height thankfully, heavily reinforced with round towers and with sturdily constructed interior buildings and a welcome and logical arrangement of covered walkways so that access inside the keep could be achieved without going outside. Which made sense given the multi-year winters and severe cold that this place was supposed to suffer from. The Inner keep was a further stronghold of stout walls, round towers and formidable gates. The Godswood was off to one side a la showverse, with but a single ring of walls surrounding it, and it was three acres in extent as I expected and so about one third the size of Winterfell proper. Which made Winterfell a giant among castles back on earth, but apparently only mildly impressive by the standards of Westeros. What however was impressive was the size of the blocks of stone that Winterfell"s walls were made from, huge and regularly shaped stones that individually must have weighed hundreds of tons each. Ditto for the Main Keep and some of the other interior buildings, which looked like they had been built only yesterday, obviously the result of whatever magic had built Winterfell in the first place.
  
  We had been studying Winterfell and its defences against the Army of the Dead intensely since almost the moment Tywin and I had been introduced to each other. He had laughed hysterically at the show"s portrayal of the defence of Winterfell, but had approved of the Defence in Depth YouTube video criticising the show"s portrayal of the Battle of Winterfell. And it was on this very YouTube video that Tywin had come to posit his ideas for the defence of Winterfell, except that the outer defensive works would fully encircle Winterfell and which Robb had already made a start on when we had arrived. More than a start if we were being honest, the other barrier at 250 yards from the walls was almost complete with only the southern bit around Wintertown and the Kings Road needing to be completed. Inside the outer barrier work had started on the inner ditches and the chevron like fortifications. The smallfolk sheltering in Winterfell were hard at work, and had been joined by the Unsullied without complaint, and by the Dothraki with quite a bit of complaint, who took exception to actually, well, working. Eventually the Dothraki had quit their grumbling and the forests in the immediate vicinity of Winterfell rang with the sounds of trees being felled and Dothraki curses and shouts as they used their mounts to pull chopped trees back to Winterfell.
  
  Here the trees were either incorporated into the outer defensive barrier/wall, where smallfolk toiled away sharpening every branch to create an impenetrable, defensive faschine of sorts. Well impenetrable as impenetrable went against ice zombies, its job was to hold up the Army of the Dead and force it to bunch up, where it would hopefully be vulnerable to the trebuchets, scorpions and varied ballistae that were being even now assembled on the walls and in the outer courtyard of Winterfell.
  
  Beyond this the Alchemists were busy burying wildfire "mines" to act as tripwires to give us warning to the approach of the Army of the Dead. I fully expected them to arrive in the midst of a snowstorm and/or at night, and we could not reply upon dramatic, if poorly though out narrative to warn us if their approach now could we?
  
  Speaking of poorly thought out narrative Bran, or the Three Eyed Raven was sure that he could track the approach of the Night King and his army of Others, zombies and Ice Spiders, yes, because they were apparently a thing. I mean it was not as if we were not already royally fucked now was it? We were betting everything on a gamble, on the word of The Three Eyed raven that the Night King had to come to Winterfell and he had to kill Bran 1st. As to why this was the case, the lad himself was surprisingly reticent, giving only vague hints and frustratingly obtuse explanations, which Mel and Kinvara lapped up, but which irritated Tywin no end. Not that I blamed him, here we were, all in, stakes raised as high as we could, all life in Westeros riding on, well on a hand of fucking jokers...
  
  I pushed down Tywin"s rising annoyance and turned my mind back to the additional defences of Winterfell.
  
  Inside the outer barrier was a deep trench at arrow range from the walls, with a tangle of sharpened stakes at its base and then inside that the ring of redan style earthworks. Bristling with crudely fashioned abates and designed to be packed with Unsullied Spearmen backed up with archers these should further breakup the "wall of zombies" tactics of the Army of the Dead. We would not be allowing our forces to be "dog-pilled" as they were in the show, not a fucking chance. The wildfire trench was just beyond these earthworks, it would not be filled with the substance until the last moment, the Alchemists guild having accompanied their product north with sufficient care and attention to not blow themselves to kingdom come.
  
  A coterie of Red Priests and their guard, the so called Fiery Hand had arrived in the last few days, that Israeli chick Kinvara at the head of them. Her and Melisandre seemed to be rather cool towards each other but when they had said that they had magical means to enable the wildfire to burn for much longer than normal I was instantly suspicious. Magic in Westeros usually meant blood magic, especially with this lot, and I hoped that this would not be more trouble than it was worth, like I don"t know, the Red Priests asking to tie sacrifices to the Weirwood tree and setting it and them alight maybe?
  
  Tons of dragon glass, which was definitely not obsidian, or at least not the obsidian of earth, because it could be smelted and cast....which was pretty much impossible as far as I knew, was being prepared for the coming battle. Knives, spear heads and arrow heads were being produced in their thousands, both at Winterfell itself and on Dragonstone and being shipped to Winterfell. I wanted every spear tip to be dragonglass, ditto for arrowheads, and given a few more days that looked to be achievable. As there was not enough time to smelt and cast all the stuff I was also relying on traditional "knapping" methods, several hundred women and children were hard at work creating sharpened dragonglass using this method, this was then embedded into the various wooden barriers of the outer defences, and festooned over the multiple interior barriers that were being created in Winterfell itself. A careful examination of the interior of the Keeps and towers showed that the design was heavily biased towards interior strong-points that could control and limit access once an enemy gained entrance to the Keeps or towers.
  
  And finally, nobody was going to shelter in the crypts, instead said crypts exits were blocked with rubble and wooded obstacles reinforced with dragonglass. The civilians who would be inside Winterfell would be assigned to carrying projectile ammunition, assisting the wounded and the rest were armed - nobody would be slacking or hiding, all our asses were on the line here.
  
  Huge stockpiles of oil, the only slightly less famous Dornish Fire and loose stones were being built up, all to strengthen the defences of Winterfell. The gatehouses of Winterfell were formidable defence structures on their own, and should the Army of the Dead breach the outer gates they would find themselves drowned in boiling oil, immolated by Dornish Fire or crushed under a barrage of rocks from the countless murder holes that dominated the space between the outer and inner gates.
  
  The inner and outer courtyards were dominated by the huge trebuchets that were zeroed on the space just beyond the outer barrier, with piles of ammunition growing daily beside them. Both the courtyards were also strewn with faschines and abates, breaking them up into defensive mazes that would hopefully never have to be used. Because if the outer walls were breached then we were all well and truly fucked....
  
  Other smaller siege engines adorned the walls, Winterfell fairly bristled with Scorpions, Ballistae and Ongars, all to make sure that the Army of the Dead was whittled down before it made it to the walls, you know, like military logic would dictate Dan and Dave? You useless pair of cunts......
  
  Despite the fact that there were nearly one hundred thousand troops in Winterfell I still did not give us more than a fifty/fifty chance of winning, while that sounds like a lot of men, given the length of Winterfells walls the actual concentration we could achieve was a tad concerning. We were relying on Smallfolk to provide much of the crews for the ranged weapons, and they also made up the bulk of the defenders of the outer wall. The Dothraki were a mobile reserve whose job it was to react to any breakthroughs of the outer barrier, using speed and mobility to pinch off any breakthroughs. That was the theory at least, the Unsullied were holding the defensive works just inside the wildfire trench, with the Red Cloaks, and the assorted bannermen of various Lords from the Crownlands, Riverlands and the North holding the walls. The walls of the Inner Keep were held by House Stark Men at Arms along with Westerlands bannermen. Two out of every three knights were concentrated into several reserve forces whose job it would be to reinforce threatened points on the walls. The rest of the Knights were either spread out among the defenders or were concentrated as a final, last ditch reserve force, who would also assist with defending the New Keep as needed.
  
  Then there were the assorted "special forces" as I had christened them, much to Tywin"s disdain. The Red Priests were set up in the Courtyard of the Inner Keep, they had built a massive pyre and they would "pray" around this to sustain the wildfire trench when the time came. Their Firey Hand would guard them and contribute to fighting any wights etc. that made it into the Courtyard of the Inner Keep.
  
  And then there was the "Gods Wood Squad" - Bran, Melisandre, Jon Snow and a coterie of guards, our "bait" for the Nights King. The walls of the Godswood were deliberately not as well defended as the rest of Winterfell"s, though not overly so; no sense in making our trap too obvious now was there?
  
  And last, but certainly by no means least, were the three dragons and that tiny, feisty little Queen. Despite his obvious fascination with Daenerys and her Dragons there was no way I was letting the secret of "She"s Muh Queen"s" heritage out of the bag, well not just yet anyway. So The Mother of Dragons and her winged fire breathing children were our airborne reserve, to be directed against the Army of the Dead as needed. I was fully committed to using them to their fullest extent, straffing the shit outta the zombies as they bunched up against our defences, especially the outer ring of obstacles. Tywin had ironically pointed out that such a strategy risked the Dragons being injured or killed by our own defensive fire, and congratulated me on finally learning the lessons of the Game of Thrones properly. I told the old prick to fuck off, inadvertently killing Daenerys Targaryen was not part of my plan, though should we survive this her death would certainly be advantageous to all concerned, well to us mainly.
  
  And well, let"s be honest Melisandre had been dropping enough hints about Azor Ahai, Lightbringer and Nissa Nissa that the tragic demise of our new Queen was not an unforeseen possibility. And of course Tywin had a plan for this all ready and waiting, because we are a cunt.
  
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  Robb X
  
  They were gathered in one of the rooms of the Great Keep, a group of Lords, Ladies, Wildlings, Fire worshiping fanatics and their new Targaryen Queen. Robb wondered if Winterfell in all the millennia it had stood had ever seen a group such as this inside its walls. Or equally as important, had such a group ever assembled to face a threat such as they faced?
  
  They all stood around a large table, upon which was a map of Winterfell and its immediate environs, which was marked with the symbols and notations of their proposed defence of the Castle from the oncoming Army of the Dead.
  
  And coming they were, The Wall had fallen, apparently it had collapsed close to Castle Black, rumours were confused, but the surviving Black Brothers spoke of a haunting sound, like a terrible, mournful horn blowing before the wall had started to crumble.
  
  Everywhere north of Winterfell was being either abandoned or evacuated, with orders for fighting men to assemble at Winterfell and smallfolk to flee as best they could. Those that were close to the coast were being directed to head there and the Royal Fleet and as many merchant ships as could be hired were busy picking up these refugees and shipping them south.
  
  Last Hearth was probably already overrun, though they had no absolute proof of this, instead he was assuming its fall based on the rate of progress that had been agreed that the Army of the Dead could make. After some wrangling and to Robb"s mind pointless arguing it had been agreed that they would assume that the Army of the Dead could advance at four times the speed of a normal army, based on their lack of need for sleep or provisions.
  
  Robb wondered about this and hoped they were right about this, otherwise they might find themselves overwhelmed before they were ready. His goodbrother Tywin Lannister had argued that they should ascribe an even faster rate of potential progress to the Army of the Dead, but his opinions had been ignored in the Councils that were held prior to this one.
  
  He dragged his mind back to the present and coughed slightly to hide his nervousness before he started to speak "The Army of the Night King has been confirmed as being at most a week away, mayhaps less even, those preparations that we can still complete in the next few days we will, as many smallfolk as possible that are south of Winterfell have been ordered to head as far south as they can, those in the immediate environs of Winterfell are either already sheltering here or are on their way here. We"ve done what we can; we are as ready as we can be..."
  
  Robb went on to detail the defensive plans for Wintefell, the role of the outer palisade, the open area between it and the 1st Trench, the function of the redans and the wildfire trench. The additional fortifications inside the walls in the Courtyards and finally the internal defences inside every building, of how windows and internal doors were to be blocked with sharpened wooden stakes tipped and edged with dragonglass.
  
  Outside snow fell in thick blankets, stirred by the odd gusts, according to what they had learned, the wind would grow to howling strength as the Army of the Dead got closer and closer, presaging their assault on Winterfell itself. His guts twisted at the thoughts of what was to come, that they were not ready, that they would never be ready, could never be ready for what was about to break upon them.
  
  Their new Queen had insisted on the families of these Lord Paramount"s and Wardens accompany her to Winterfell, many whispered that she did not trust them and that she actually intended to murder than all. Which would be a monumentally stupid thing to do, but then again this was the daughter of the Mad King.
  
  The girl herself was disturbing to Robb, unearthly beautiful but with something disquieting burning in her eyes, something he could not quite discern. On top of this there were the obviously lustful glances that she and his brother Jon were sharing, when they thought nobody was looking. He could scarce contain his mirth at this, his shy bastard brother and the Dragonqueen, even thinking of it now threatened to make a stupid grin break out on his face.
  
  He quashed the smile and set his face to its usual grim visage, the weight of ruling heavy on his shoulders, the knowledge of what was about to happen threatening to turn his insides to ice water and his legs to jelly. How he wished that this was not happening, that this was all a bad dream, one that he would wake up from, maybe with his father still alive and the past several years all nothing but a nightmare.
  
  He thrust these wishful thoughts from his mind, instead bringing his mind back into the room.
  
  "And we are sure that the Night King is coming here?" asked Ser Jorah Mormont, the girl Queen"s sworn sword and apparently her advisor on military matters.
  "If I understand it correctly, the Army of the Dead needs no food, no rest, no shelter, why would it not just bypass Winterfell and leave us to starve and freeze here?" the Queen added before anyone could reply to Ser Jorah, a rising tone of heat in her voice.
  
  Robb noticed that some of his own bannermen, and the handful of Riverlander Lords also seemed to agree with the Dragon Queen"s assessment, if the scowls and worry on their faces indicated such.
  
  The Westerlander Lords kept their faces carefully neutral as always, waiting to see which way their Lord reacted, Tywin he noticed kept his face impassive as usual.
  
  "Because he is coming for me" replied his brother Bran, or The Three Eyed Raven as he preferred to be know as.
  
  "And what would he want with you?" asked the Targaryen girl, one slim silver eyebrow raised in question.
  
  "Stark blood and the magic that is built into the very stones of Winterfell has kept the Night King slumbering and his army quiescent north of The Wall for millennium. This place is a locus of magical power that he cannot ignore, nor can he ignore me and the powers I now command. Through the weirwoods of the North I can not only see him, I can to an extent thwart his plans."
  
  "How so?" blurted out Robb, before he could even think of saying the words they had spilled from his mouth. He dipped his head when the Dragon Queen speared him with a glance that seemed to burn his very soul, feeling his cheeks flush despite his best efforts.
  
  "Yes Lord Bran, how so indeed?" asked Daenerys, her plump lips tugging ever so slightly into the merest ghost of a smile.
  
  "I am not Lord Bran anymore, not really....." replied his brother, before he continued "I can limit the powers of the Night King, limit the range at which he and his White Walkers can control their wights. The number of weirwoods in the North increases my power; the locus of magical power that Winterfell is built upon enhances it further. I can also somewhat limit his ability to raise the dead, not all who he and his army kill will rise at his command, and the further south he travels the weaker his powers will become, unless he kills me first. He must come for me, he will come for me, I have foreseen it."
  
  "Winterfell is a trap your Grace" interjected Lord Tywin smoothly into the silence that threatened to become oppressive after Bran"s words.
  
  "But it is not too obvious a trap that the Night King will not fall for it" continued his goodbrother, a title which he still thought of as strange, of Sansa being married to the Old Lion, and the mother of twin boys to boot.
  
  "Then why all the elaborate preparations? Why the toil and effort to strengthen Winterfell, surely that is counterproductive?" asked the girl Queen, he voice slightly heated at having to address Lord Tywin, whom she had plainly little or no time for.
  
  "On the contrary, were we not to prepare, the trap would be so obvious that the Night King would be tempted to avoid Winterfell altogether."
  
  "Lord Tywin is correct" Bran answered the Targaryen Queen"s question "The Night King is confident of victory, he thinks he has the numbers and magical strength to defeat us. I will be the bait to make sure he comes..."
  
  "And how exactly will you defeat him?" Daenerys asks of his brother, her voice quick and angry sounding.
  
  "The victory of Azor Ahai is foretold in the flames your Grace" Melisandre replied, the red priestess"s voice smooth and silky, seductive in that foreign accent of hers. "But the exact roles we all here have to play are not to be treated lightly, not to be casually talked about. Many will not survive; we the Priests of R"hllor for one know that all our lives are forfeit in the battle to come, as are the lives of our guards, the Fiery Hand."
  
  "I am not comforted by this" snorted the Queen, tossing her head in frustration.
  
  Robb could only silently agree with the Targaryen girl, they were betting the entire fate of the world on what his brother Bran had advised them to do.
  
  He hoped his brother was right.
  
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  Jon III
  
  "Lord Tywin, Lord Tyrion" he bowed to each man in turn shutting the door behind him.
  
  "Jon Stark!" announced Tyrion, already more than a little drunk Jon noted, and he could not help but see the look of distaste on Lord Tywin"s face at the condition of his younger son.
  
  "Please join us!" Tyrion announced, waving expansively with his arms, encompassing the room in general and the table in particular, upon which a simple meal was laid out. Stew from the looks of it and confirmed by smells emanating from a single large earthenware pot sat in the middle of the table. A plate with boiled potatoes, a largish jug of ale and bread rounded out the food and drink.
  
  Most unlike what Jon expected southern Lords to eat, this was good, simple northern fare and his stomach growled at its enticing scent.
  
  "Sit, eat with us" stated Lord Tywin, a simple enough command but one backed by the power of the Old Lion.
  
  Jon sat, no servants attended them, Lord Tywin serving Jon and then his son with large helpings of the thick stew, before he served himself.
  
  "Eat" the Old Lion commanded "there is no need to stand on ceremony here, and especially now."
  
  "As we all might be dead soon" quipped Lord Tyrion, drawing an ire filled glance from his father.
  
  As Jon ate he wondered why he was here, the two Lannister Lords seemed to be equally as committed to eating in silence as he was.
  
  It had been strange coming back to Winterfell and seeing his old home again, equally strange coming back with the Army of Queen Daenerys he mused. His checks coloured at the thoughts of the silver headed girl, and he quashed the thoughts of her that had been increasingly filling his mind. Dishonourable thoughts, exciting thoughts, crazy thoughts....they seemed to plague him more and more since he first clapped eyes on the girl in Kings Landing.
  
  It helped him not that while in Kings Landing he had drawn the attention of several of the young ladies that had been part of Lady Margaery Tyrell"s party. Who were shameless in flirting with him, and who had driven him to hide in his rooms for the last few days before they had left for the North. Such was their persistence in trying to ensnare him, dropping sly and enticing hints as to what they would like to do to him, and what they would like him to do to them....
  Jon was no boy, he knew the ways between men and women but though he had been sorely tempted he had refrained for indulging, despite how pleasurable it would likely be. The pain of losing Ygritte was still fresh enough, but that was not the reason he knew, it was those huge violet eyes, seeming to gaze into his very soul that he could not betray.
  
  He snorted in his head "betray"? She was the Queen and was a bastard, even if he now had the Stark name, something which Lady Catelyn still took every opportunity to harangue Robb about apparently. Which his brother often complained to him about, much to his annoyance it had to be said. Robb was the Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, he should tell his mother to cease her grumblings and complaints, Robb had a wife and a son, along with the backing of the Lannister"s, what could Catelyn Tully possibly be concerned about?
  
  Dragging his mind away from the sour thoughts of Catelyn Tully he refused to let his mind settle on Daenerys Targaryen, he did not want to become even more distracted and annoyed. There had been much talk of who the Dragon Queen would wed; speculation on this was apparently a favourite topic of discussion among noble and smallfolk alike. The thoughts of the Queen being wed enraged him, drove him into a frenzy of anger and jealously he had scarce imagined it was possible to feel.
  
  "I"m sorry? What did you say?" Jon asked, suddenly realising that he had been asked a question, from a quick glance around the table he realised it was Lord Tyrion who had asked him something.
  
  "You were leagues away Jon" giggled Tyrion "probably thinking about some fair maiden no doubt! In fact I know that there are not a few smallfolk wenches who would eagerly warm you bed should you desire it!"
  
  Lord Tywin gave his son a glare, before turning his cool, but intimidating gaze on him "What my rather drunk son asked you was if when all of this is over have you given any thoughts to marriage?"
  
  "Marriage?" he squeaked, his voice breaking involuntarily.
  
  "You are a Stark, named so by your brother when he was King in the North, you are no longer bound by your vows to the Nights Watch, seeing as how you died. Should you survive what is to come your prospects will be quite good, maybe even better than you think" said the Old Lion.
  
  "My father"s wife, your sister, has been nagging my father to play matchmaker!" slurred Tyrion, who received another glare from his father for his trouble.
  
  "Really?"
  
  "It is something women are wont to do, they do not like the thoughts of a handsome and eligible young Lord being unwed, or at least un-betrothed apparently" Lord Tywin replied dryly.
  
  "But, but...I"m no Lord...."
  
  "That can be rectified easily enough" was Lord Tywin"s response. "But enough of this frivolous talk, to serious business."
  
  Jon noticed that Lord Tyrion, who suddenly seemed to sober up and his face become rather pinched looking.
  
  "Your brother Bran has shared with you the real plan for the defence of Winterfell?" asked the Old Lion, his voice cold and devoid of any inkling of warmth.
  
  "He, he has......I, I don"t...I don"t understand it, I don"t know why he thinks I am important...."
  
  "You are one of a handful of men to have fought the Others and lived to tell the tale, your brother Bran has seen what is to come, he knows the critical part you will play."
  
  "I don"t know..." was all he could say in reply.
  
  "We cannot defeat the Night King and his Army of the Dead by conventional means, all the additional defences, the wildfire, the dragonglass, even the Dragons themselves will not be enough. The numbers are simply not in our favour, the Night King can dog pile us to death in corpses, our only chance is to lead him into a trap and have a select group of warriors, armed with as much Valyrian steel as we can muster, kill the Night King. It does not take any of Bran"s powers to know this, anyone who understands anything about strategy knows that the bigger army wins nine times out of ten. How big is the Army of the Dead? One hundred thousand? Half a million? A million?"
  
  Jon shivered despite the pleasant fire heating the room, a small and plain room in the quarters that the Lannister"s had been granted. Said quarters were hardly fitting to their station and were in one of the towers in Winterfell"s inner wall, a slight which Jon knew was unlikely to be of his brother Robb"s making. Yes Winterfell was packed to the rafters with people but this insult was something that one should not do to a House of the Lannister"s standing, never mind that the Old Lion was the head of said House. And never mind that the Lannister"s were family of the Stark"s now, by dint of not one but two marriages.
  
  Princess Myrcella had accompanied her grandfather north also, something which Jon had noticed, remembering the shy girl who had accompanied the fat king to Winterfell to name his father his Hand. Of how she had stolen covert glances at him and Robb when she thought they were not looking, of how she looked like a smaller version of her mother Queen Cersei. Well the girl was on the cusp of womanhood now, and even more beautiful than he remembered, green of eye, blond of hair and lithe of body. The Princess seemed to spend a lot of time with Lady Sansa and with Lady Catelyn, and not in what he thought of as traditional pursuits for a Princess either he had noted. Despite some protests the women of Winterfell were preparing as hard as the men for what was to come, some were training with pikes and spears, others were training with the Scorpions and Trebuchets while still more were assisting in preparing Winterfell for its coming siege. The Princess and the two Ladies fell into the latter category, overseeing the preparation of food supplies and the setting up of places to treat the wounded.
  
  He pushed the thoughts of Lord Tywin"s granddaughter from his mind; annoyed at himself for once again letting thoughts of a girl cloud his mind. Before he could think of anything else to say Lord Tywin continued "you have done well so far, you played your part in convincing the Dragon Queen that the threat of the Night King was real."
  
  "She could hardly deny the evidence of her own eyes, it"s hard to deny when a wight is right there in your face, screeching and stinking of the grave...."
  
  "You would be surprised what people fool themselves into believing young Stark" replied Lord Tywin coolly. "Do you see the Tyrell"s here for instance? Or the former King Tommen Baratheon? The Dornish, for all their talk of loyalty to the new Queen are also strangely absent, no doubt they will blame the inclement weather for delaying them."
  
  At this Jon spared a glance at the single window, thankfully it was paned with glass, outside snow spun in flurries driven by a howling, thin wind.
  
  "The weather is said to be very bad, Lord Manderly has reported that the storms in The Bite and The Narrow Sea are the worst he has ever seen" said Jon in reply to the Old Lions statement.
  
  "How convenient" purred the Old Lion "and the Reach, what of their forces young Stark? They will be marching up the Kings Road, a road designed for military traffic first and foremost, maintained by every Lord whose lands its passes through on pain of Royal censure? Even in the North it is maintained to a passable degree, the only place it is treacherous is when it passes through the Neck?"
  
  Jon had no answer to this so he stayed silent, instead eating his stew.
  
  "Just because the world might be about to end does not mean that the Game of Thrones has ceased, on the contrary" said the Old Lion in a matter of fact tone, his eyes glittering with a barely restrained intensity.
  
  "Then they are fools!" Jon announced, heat colouring his voice with anger at the foolishness of The Reach and Dorne.
  
  "Be that as it may, they still play the great game, for it is all they know. Remember that Jon Stark, so long as a King or Queen sits atop a throne in Westeros, the Game of Thrones is afoot."
  
  "Unfortunately I have to agree with my Lord father" burped Lord Tyrion, who"s face flashed embarrassed momentarily, before he continued "the Game of Thrones destroyed your father, nearly destroyed your House, should we survive what is to come, it will continue on, as it always has..."
  
  "I am glad then that I have had no part in this so called "Game of Thrones", and I am glad I will have no part in it in the future" he replied, turning his gaze to his plate and his attention to finishing his stew.
  
  Thus he missed the wry glances that Lannister father and son shared.
  
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  Sansa XXI
  
  "Tywin?" she paused a moment, giving her husband the common courtesy of a reply that she knew he would not give her.
  
  "Really?" she added after a suitable time had elapsed, just a little bit of frustration leaking into her voice.
  
  Tywin"s gaze held hers, her Lord husband was never one for avoiding eye contact, especially when a battle of wills was in the offing. Even with her Tywin was never one to back down or retreat, despite the fact that she knew her husband well and knew how to get her own way when it suited her. The secret was to never confront Tywin Lannister directly, never make any conflict, however small or trivial, about his perception of control.
  
  She would have smiled at this had the situation not been so outrageous, so, so well bizarre!
  
  "I, I simply cannot wear this, I cannot!" she protested, felling like stamping her foot for emphasis.
  
  "You can my Lady and you will" replied Tywin, his voice cool and measured, the slightest sparkle of humour flecking his green-gold eyes.
  
  "Armour? Tywin, really....." she huffed.
  
  "I had it made especially for you Sansa, along with the other garments. You are my wife, we are about to confront an almost numberless army of dead things, like what you saw in Kings Landing. I will not have you unprotected or without the ability to defend yourself."
  
  "I am not my sister Arya, I cannot wield a sword Tywin...."
  
  "Which is why I am giving you a dragonglass dagger and a short spear tipped with the same, in addition to your armour."
  
  "Tywin....."
  
  "I will book no further discussion my Lady; you will wear what I have provided for you. The matter is settled."
  
  Sansa huffed in annoyance at Tywin"s words, knowing that he would not be swayed on the matter.
  
  "You will not look like a man, or that wild little sister of yours, do not worry" Tywin said, letting the smallest ghost of a smile pull at his lips. "I have even made it so you can dress yourself easily in the armour and can wear womanly clothes over it if needed."
  
  She looked at the pile of clothes, plate and chain mail distrustfully, not willing as yet to admit defeat totally.
  
  "Now would be a good time to put it on and try it out, I"m sure it will fit, the clothes and armour were made in Kings Landing especially for you to my order."
  
  "Here?"
  
  "Yes here, why not? These are our chambers, we are man and wife, I see no reason for you not to try on the armour and garments that I have prepared for you?"
  
  "You only want to see me naked" she teased, her mouth quirking into a sultry smile. Sansa knew that Tywin desired her, that she held some small amount of power over the Old Lion due to his desire. And this excited her, to know that she was desired, that Tywin Lannister, perhaps the most feared man in all Westeros, desired her above all other women. And her Old Lion, who was not so old as to be unable to perform his duties as a husband, he satisfied needs she scarcely knew that she had, womanly needs that caused her to feel heavy and hot and all wet with desire. Tywin was more than able to satisfy these urgent, wanton desires that blazed searing and demanding across her mind and body. And it was not just her desires either; Tywin seemed to be equally driven to lie with her, to fuck her, to fuck her until she was exhausted and sore, but yet triumphant with his seed warm inside her slick depths.
  
  "I will see you naked this night if you try on this armour or not my Lady" Tywin grinned at her "and I will give you what you so desperately desire..."
  
  "Oh?" she asked, her voice a slight croak as her mouth and throat went dry, while between her legs she got so very wet "and what is it that I desire Lord Tywin?" she asked, cocking her head to one side, letting her eyes widen with curiosity.
  
  "To be fucked long and hard, to scream and moan my name as my cock slams into you, to feel my seed spilling into you" Tywin breathed as he moved closer, until he towered over her.
  
  "You naughty Old Lion" she teased, her breath hitching as Tywin"s hands gripped at her hips and his face descended towards hers, Sansa tilting her head up and opening her mouth as she felt her husband"s lips on hers, his tongue forcing its way possessively into her mouth.
  
  Needless to say she did not try on her new armour; instead she was stripped by Tywin"s frantic hands, her equally frantic hands tugging at his clothes, until they found themselves naked and on their bed. And true to his word Tywin gave her exactly what she wanted, first heating her body to a furnace like temperature with his caresses and his skilled lips and tongue on that little nubbin of flesh above her soaking, aching slit. And then he took her like the wanton she wanted to be taken like, thrusting fast and hard into her, slamming his hips against hers, grabbing her hair in his fists as he grunted and dripped sweat onto her equally sweat slick torso. She hoisted her legs over his back, wrapping her arms around his shoulders, crying out his name, urging him on, urging him deeper into her, to feel him at her very core.
  
  
  The next morning after she had bathed and broken her fast she had to give into Tywin"s orders and try on the so called armour he had bought for her.
  
  First off there were a pair of skin-tight black leather trousers and a plain cotton shirt, over this she put on chain mail trousers, which had wide cloth straps attached to them to support the weight of the chainmail over her shoulders. Over the cotton shirt was a thin, padded gambeson like garment and over this long sleeved chainmail top, the weight of it all was uncomfortable but she found it did not restrict her movements too much. Over all of this she pulled on a long sleeved woollen dress, well made but in a plain, northern style. Leather gloves and good, strong boots completed the outfit.
  
  Sansa was not too displeased with how she looked, the chainmail was hidden by what she wore and she chided herself on being foolish last night and objecting to wearing this. It was practical and if not exactly stylish, it would offer her some protection, but why she needed protection scared her no end.
  
  Winterfell bristled with new defences and was packed with men and women ready to defend it, its storehouses were filled to bursting with supplies, and the three dragons of their new Queen were truly terrifying to behold.
  
  "Well?" she asked Tywin, who had been assisting her dress.
  
  "Looks good my Lady."
  
  "Do, do you think...do you think I will...need it?"
  
  "Hopefully not Sansa, but better to be safe than sorry."
  
  "I, I want to be with Patryk and Brynden, if, if the end....comes...."
  
  "They will be with the children too young to contribute in the New Keep, the rooms they will be in are the best defended in the whole of Winterfell."
  
  "But Tywin, they are our sons..."
  
  "And you shall be with them, to defend them if needs be, like the she wolf that you are."
  
  "And, and you Tywin" she asked, knowing already that she would not like the answer.
  
  "I will fight as and where I am needed my lady, with my personal bodyguard of knights, and Tyrion. He insists on fighting for some reason, apparently his taste for combat in the War of the Five Kings has not left him satiated enough...."
  
  "He, he is a brave man you son. He defended me in Kings Landing when nobody else would."
  
  "He has a sharp mind, but with a heart overly given to sentimentality my Lady. I would prefer if he stayed out of the fight, should anything happen to me he would be a good foster for our sons."
  
  "Tywin.....please...."
  
  "I have lived a long life, though not always a happy one...and...and I never thought I would find happiness again in my life. But the Gods are cruel Lady Sansa, we should not ask too much of them, ever."
  
  "Don"t, don"t say that Tywin, please, please promise me you will come back to me, to our sons?"
  
  "I do not wish to die here my lady, please dissuade yourself of that notion. Nothing more would please me than to lay my bones to rest in Casterly Rock many years from now, with my sons by you grown to fine men and the Lannister name secure."
  
  "Then, then make that wish come true Tywin!" she cried, rushing forwards and crashing into him, heedless of the heavy chainmail she wore.
  
  Tywin let an "oooofff" of expelled breath escape his mouth as she collided with him, his arms enfolding her in a tight embrace. "Do not worry little wolf, The Three Eyed Raven and the Red Witch promise us victory" he said, burying his head into her hair and inhaling her scent, planting tiny kisses into her hair.
  
  This calmed her somewhat, until she felt she could risk saying "the, the dagger and the spear...I"m...I"ve not, I"ve never trained with them..."
  
  "It"s very simple, stick them with the pointy end" replied her husband, his voice level and calming.
  
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  Think an SI into Ned Stark with a Homo Drakensis twist sounds like fun? Well the Black Wolf [NSFW] is the story for you then!
  What would you did if you woke up in Westeros and discovered you had been subjected to an enforced gender change? See the adventures of The Littlest Lioness for all the delightful details...
  Ever fancied being Tywin Lannister? Well now you can find out, courtesy of The Lion in Winter
  The Dance of the Dragons, how would you change it if you could? Come and see When Dragons Danced
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  Jamie III
  
  The Great Hall of Winterfell was surprisingly packed, though the hum of conversation was rather low, the mood after all was hardly celebratory mused Jamie. Assorted Men at Arms, Knights and smallfolk levies from a bewildering array of Houses were chatting and drinking sombrely, most likely glad they were not outside in the howling wind and driving snow, the great fireplaces that lined the hall on both sides roaring with logs piled high to ward off the cold.
  
  Jamie sipped at his ale silently, his immediate companions doing likewise. Even the usually boisterous Wildling Tormund was quiet, or at least quiet by his standards. Jamie idly cast his eyes over the hall, wondering how many would still be alive come morning, not many he mused sourly, given how the latest reports from their scouts of the size of the Army of the Dead were terrifying. He looked at his golden hand; he did not expect to survive either. The warrior he once was, that thing that had defined his whole existence for so long, was gone, he knew his skills with his left hand were only fair to middling. Not that he really cared one way or the other, Cersei was lost to him, apparently she needed help being fed and would void herself with no concern, her face slack jawed and blank as she spent her days staring at nothing. So he had it from the Head Septa of the Septary that she resided in, he had received the Septa"s letter just before they had set out for the North.
  
  Joffrey was dead, probably murdered with at the minimum the acquiescence of his father, if not his active connivance with the Tyrell"s. Tommen was a deposed ex King, allegedly the Lord paramount of the Stormlands but apparently his new realm was none too pleased to have him foisted on them and his bannermen were in, if not open revolt, were steadfast in ignoring as much of his rule as was possible. Myrcella was back from Dorne and with a broken Betrothal to her name, apparently she had actually liked the Dornish Prince she had been promised to, but of course her feelings had meant nothing to his father, who had arranged for Myrcella"s return.
  
  And speaking of the Old Lion, despite him having been dismissed from the Kingsguard and technically being the heir to the Westerlands his father had made little if any effort to actually acknowledge him as such. Little if any effort? He laughed mirthlessly at this, no his father had ignored him completely, seeming to think that he no longer was his son.
  
  This had annoyed him mightily and so he had decided to annoy his father, as had been his habit for much of his life. So his plan had been to ingratiate himself with his father"s bannermen, and what better way than to marry one of their daughters? Oh he knew he would not have any feelings for whatever poor girl ended up as his wife, but he cared not, all he needed to be was married and for the girl to get with child as soon as possible. Let"s see how his father would deal with that, let"s see him ignore him then! But of course his father"s bannermen, a spineless lot at the best of times had proved remarkably reluctant to agree to him marrying any of their eligible daughters. One would have thought they would be falling over themselves to offer him every unwed daughter they had, from un-flowered girls to crones.
  
  But alas not, it seems they retained their well found fear of the Old Lion and were loath to do anything not specifically approved of by his father, including it appeared marrying off their daughters to him. He had even tried to see if any particularly grasping merchant Houses in Kings Landing were interested, a daughter of a merchant House would be sure to draw his father"s considerable ire and stoke his amusement no end. But again they had proved to be remarkably cautious with their daughter"s hands; despite the obvious interest some of said daughters seemed to show him.
  
  A trawl of Crownlands and Stormlands Houses likewise turned up empty; he did not even bother with the Riverlands or the Vale. Dorne he never even considered, the Reach had been considered but rejected by him, even he was not stupid enough to put his cock anywhere near were Olenna Tyrell might have even the faintest possibility of influence.
  
  Now that he found himself in the North there were a few eligible daughters floating around, most of the North"s noble Houses, such as they were, seemed to be concentrated in Winterfell. Alys Karstark was available, but was a rather plain looking girl, no great beauty in anybody"s eyes. Not to mention he had a certain history with the Karstarks and they were frankly hostile to him. The little Bear, Lyanna Mormont was too young, but her feisty nature would be such a delightful foil for his father"s attitude, would it not? He would nearly marry the girl on the spot just for the likely verbal barbs that she and the Old Lion were sure to throw each other"s way. Then of course there was Arya Stark, formerly his father"s cup bearer in Harenhall, a fact he never missed an opportunity to remind his father of. Lady Arya had reminded his father of this fact the very day they had arrived in Winterfell, and the Old Lion had not been one bit pleased to be forced to face this unpleasant truth.
  
  But alas Arya Stark seemed completely uninterested in anything that did not involve fighting or training for fighting, and it was obvious that she only had eyes for that big smallfolk lad Gendry, who worked in the Winterfell forge.
  
  He had, he realised given little actual thought to wooing any of the girls, of whatever status and House they belonged to, convincing himself that it would be unjust of him to give the girls much hope of a pleasant marriage. But a secret, hidden part of him whispered that he just did not care in the slightest, and that as none were truly worthy of him, so why should he make any effort at all?
  
  Of course the way that Brienne of Tarth looked at him he knew that he would only have to ask the girl and she would likely say yes to marriage, but Jamie found her obvious affection off putting, annoying even.
  
  And so he remained unwed and as much shunned as ever by his father, oh he did not stint in crossing verbal swords with his father whenever the opportunity presented itself, but even the pleasure of this was waning day by day.
  
  His contemplation was broken by Sandor Clegane"s growled "fuck off" at an overly forward serving wench, whose desire for a tumble was going to be fulfilled by Toramund, the big wildling possessively wrapping a beefy hand around the girls arm as he stood up and strolled off with her.
  
  Well at least they would not be subjected to Toramund"s endless tales of fighting and fucking any more, something he was grateful for.
  
  Tyrion was also drinking with him, along with Podrick Payne, the aforementioned Brienne of Tarth, Samwell Tarley, ostensibly a Brother of the Nights Watch, but who seemed to be more interested in tupping a comley if rather plump wildling chit called Gilly. The Tarley lad apparently recently arrived from Oldtown and the Citadel, where he had been studying to be a Maester, and who appeared to Jamie to be as craven as he was fat. He had arrived with his family valyrian sword Heartsbane, though why his father Lord Tarley had let the lad have the blade was another matter entirely, for Samwell was no warrior, of that Jamie was certain. Bronn and several of the Lords of the minor Houses sworn to House Swyft rounded out their rather subdued drinking party.
  
  "I fookin" hate the cold" grumbled Brnon, nursing his flagon of ale, taking a long draught from it.
  
  "At least we are not out in it...yet" replied Tyrion, holding out his cup for a rather attractive serving wench for a refill.
  
  Said wench was rather dusky looking for a typical northern lass, mayhaps there was Dornish blood somewhere in her ancestry pondered Jamie, noting with amusement her obvious interest in him and Bronn"s obvious annoyance.
  
  "You don"t even have to do anything, do ya?" Bronn grumbled, as the wench sashayed off, her head turning over her shoulder to give him a look of frank invitation.
  
  "You just sit there, a rich slab of beef and all the birds come a pecking" continued Bronn, his face as sour as his voice.
  
  "You"re welcome to her" he replied, amusement twisting his voice.
  
  "She doesn"t want me, she wants your golden fingers up her twat" retorted Bronn, as Tyrion sputtered and coughed up his ale at the exchange.
  
  "Not my type" replied Jamie evenly, taking a sip of his ale.
  
  "Not blonde enough?" asked Bronn, setting Tyrion off on another round of coughing and spluttering.
  
  Brienne of Tarth, whose face had reddened considerably, coughed and asked "Lord Tyrion, I hear you will be donning armour and joining the defence?"
  
  Tyrion took a few seconds to catch his breath and replied "Yes my Lady, I will not have it be said that any son of the Old Lion is a craven" accompanied by him waving his ale mug in a dramatic fashion about him.
  
  "He"s got balls, does the little Lannister" quipped Bronn in reply "I"ve seen him fight; he"s handy enough with an axe so he is."
  
  "Lord Bronn is too kind" Tyrion said in reply, before adding "though I will be with my Lord father and the rest of the Lords in the New Keep, directing the fight....should I have to actually become involved things will be, well, rather desperate at that stage."
  
  "And you Ser Jamie, where will you fight?" asked Brienne of him, blushing furiously as they made eye contact.
  
  "The Godswood, guarding Lord Brandon, all I am good for apparently" he quipped, holding up his golden right hand.
  
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  Tyrion XIX
  
  Off in the distance, barely heard over the howling of the wind and barely even seen through the swirling snow a small blaze of green light pulsed and then guttered.
  
  "They are getting closer" he observed, the wind cutting across his face like thousands of icy blades.
  
  "It won"t be long now before they reach the outer barricade" replied his father, his voice tight and strained sounding. Well at least the gravity of the situation was getting to the Old Lion he mused, this being probably the end of the world and all that.
  
  He, along with his father and his personal bodyguard were huddled together atop one of the towers of the New Keep, along with Lord Robb and his bodyguards. Blazing torches and a collection of trumpets and horns were scattered around, to be used for signalling to the outer walls and towers, and to the collection of trebuchets that packed the courtyard of the outer keep. Runners were also on hand to relay messages back and forth between the various parts of Winterfell, so that they would have some modicum of knowledge of what was happening during the battle.
  
  At least he was not potentially meeting his death with a full pair of stones he thought somewhat wistfully, that pretty, dusky serving wench from the Great Hall had proved to be more than agreeable to a tumble. Even more surprising was the fact that she had refused coin for the pleasure of his company, saying that they might all be dead soon and what use was coin in that case. An admirable, if rather depressing stance to take, but nevertheless it not stopped his enjoyment the wench"s skilled mouth, nor the taste and tightness of her cunt.
  
  Death, life.... legacy, it was funny sometimes how one"s mind would think of these things at the most inopportune of times was it not? His wife and son were here in Winterfell, and he had not visited his husbandly rights upon dear Roslin since the 1st night of their arrival at the Stark"s ancient home, much preferring the company of whores and serving wenches. At least they were not sullenly hostile to him, the demeanor that his dear wife had adopted since the birth of their son Tyrone, though Roslin would not deny him his due as her husband. But no matter what he did she would barely whimper or cry as he took her, preferring to just lie there silent and unmoving, usually with her eyes either closed or deliberately looking away from him.
  
  Legacy....he had a son and should Roslin not spite him by taking moon tea he could expect a few more children from her, and he would assure the future of House Lannister of Rosby. It was a decent enough seat; its incomes were good enough to keep him in something of the style he was accustomed to. And its lands had potential enough; it was close enough to Kings Landing that its trade with the capital should be able to bring in more revenue, with some small investments, namely improvements to the docks on the river at Rosby itself, improving trade via Blackwater Bay, and improving the road to Kings Landing.
  
  And had not his father made strenuous efforts to secure his own legacy? The twins pupped by Lady Sansa were evidence enough of that, as were the seemingly endless machinations and manipulations of the Game of Thrones that the Old Lion was involved in.
  
  And on that later note; the "bastard who never was" and what his father had planned for the poor, innocent lad eh? Jon Snow was as stupidly honorable as the man whom he thought was his father, now as Jon Stark he certainly seemed to have learned little of the Great Game, at least from what he saw. But the lad was playing his part in his father"s schemes well enough, for now anyway, but then Jon Stark was blissfully ignorant of the Old Lion"s plans for him. And on that Tyrion could not believe what his fath