“Lady Arya.” Jaime genuflected, looking up at Arya and her bastard half-brother from under his brow.
“Jon Snow, is it? I hope you don’t think me rude to steal your sister away for a walk through the snow.”
“Of course, Ser Jaime.” Jon nodded stiffly to him and pressed a tender kiss to Lady Arya’s brow. “Arya.”
The pair watched his retreat. Jaime looked to Arya then and offered her his arm, Arya placing her hand in the crook of his elbow. They walked together in silence for a few minutes, snow crunching under their boots as Arya steered them towards the Godswood.
“You and your brother are very close,” Jaime observed.
“He wants to take the black,” Arya said, seemingly miles away in thought, “Now that I am betrothed, he says there will be no place for him in Winterfell.”
“There are few ways for a bastard to find his place in the world. I can think of none worse than the Night’s Watch.”
“I hate to think of him so far away at the Wall.”
“You remind me a little of my sister.” They were similar in all the right ways to make them perfect enemies, he thought.
“The queen?” Arya blanched.
“I was engaged to your aunt, Lysa Tully, once upon a time, but I thought being a lord rather boring. Tyrion was always better suited to politics. I dreamed of being among the Kingsguard, I thought the White Cloaks some sort of romantic heroes from a song, but my sister went to King Robert and convinced him I was not right for the job. Cersei wanted me by her side, always. Now my cloak is red and I am shield to my sister. Queensguard,” he japed, “and still able to inherit.”
“My mother and father were not yet even married when you broke with my aunt Lysa, something must have kept you unwed for so long. Was that your sister’s doing as well? How did she take the news of our betrothal? ”
“She seemed rather pleased, actually.” Jaime leaned in close to her ear, whispering as though confiding in her an important secret, “I believe she thinks we will make each other miserable.”
“Perhaps we will. The ugly northern girl who looks like a boy and the vain Southron knight who looks like a girl.”
“Lady Arya, you wound me.” The two entered the clearing and Arya sat at the foot of the weirwood tree. Jaime sat beside her, looking up at its ugly red face. “You do know they call you Little Lyanna?”
“It is only in jest, Ser. Lyanna was beautiful.”
“As are you, my lady. It is a great pity you have been convinced otherwise.” Jaime wondered if her pretty, red-haired sister had anything to do with that. In the time Lady Sansa had served his sister in Kingslanding, he had heard her speak of Arya Horseface a time or two. Cersei had laughed, tears coming to her eyes at the prospect of his marrying the wild little thing from Lady Sansa’s stories. Jaime knew she would not find his young wife quite so humorous once she saw her with her own eyes, and not through the skewed view of a pompous elder sister.
It was true the Northmen now called her Little Lyanna, but to Jaime’s eye she was far lovelier than her aunt had been. Beneath the rough wool and heavy furs, Jaime could see she had a lean body, likely thanks to the little sword he had caught her with the morning he had first arrived in Winterfell. He had heard her grunting and a man groaning and then she had cried out the man’s name, “Jon,” and Jaime thought he would find his betrothed red-faced and bare beneath her brother. Instead, he had peaked between trees in the Godwood to find her standing over her brother’s prone form as he nursed a wound on his hand, put there he assumed by the skinny sword in Arya’s hand.
Once it was clear to her he was not going to die of blood loss, she had called him stupid and hugged him and Jaime had slipped back out of the Godswood and into the castle before he could be discovered.
The girl in the Godswood that morning had been a great deal more interesting to Jaime than this demure little thing that sat before him now
“May I speak to you honestly, Lady Arya?” She nodded. “You will be Lady of Casterly Rock someday, do you know what that entails?” Jaime searched her face and saw her jaw clench, like her brother’s when Jaime had interrupted their conversation.
“I must wear silk dresses and smile prettily and bear your sons.”
“Gods, who filled your head with all this tripe?”
“My mother,” she confessed, biting her lip as the words left her mouth.
“Wear breeches and curse and bear a hundred bastards for all I care.” She looked scandalized at that, and ever so slightly enthralled.
“My lady mother said I must be a loyal wife to you, do my duty.”
“She had the right of that, at least. The only thing I wish from you is discretion, with my secrets and your own. Behave the lady before my father and take a lover with green eyes,” Jaime thought of Jon Snow, “or grey. That is all I can ask of you. Most men avail themselves of their heart’s desires while forbidding their wives to enjoy any of the world’s pleasures. I think they are fools. Asking for your love and obedience when I cannot promise you mine, I can think of no surer way to make an enemy of my wife.”
“I believe we may come to find happiness in this marriage.” Jaime and Arya shared a smile. Jaime stood, offering Arya his hand. She ignored it and stood on her own with a smirk.
“Bring your brother South as your shield if you like. A flagon or two of wine and perhaps we can persuade Robert to make him a knight.”