“Brienne! Why is there a tree in our living room?”
Jaime heard the unmistakable sound of shoes being kicked off in the hallway and a heavy sigh that could only have come from Brienne. He turned round to see her stood in the doorway, arms crossed over her chest and a small smile lighting up her face.
“It’s a Christmas tree, idiot,” she sighed, “we just need to decorate it.” She walked over to him, wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him soft upon the lips.
“A...Christmas tree?” Jaime stuttered, almost a question. “What do we do with it?” He looked genuinely confused and slightly sad at the prospect of having something so unfamiliar in their home.
Brienne pulled away, holding him at arm’s length, “What do mean ‘what do we do with it?’” she settled her hands on the nape of his neck, regarding him curiously. “Don’t tell me you’ve never had a Christmas tree before?” She looked into his eyes then, full of confusion and a little sadness, the usually bright green colour dimmed. He looked down at the floor and shook his head slightly, only noticeable because of her closeness.
She pulled him close again and he spoke into her shoulder “We…we never really did Christmas as children, not even when mum was still alive. You’ve met my father, does her really seem like the festive type to you?” She shook her head softly, urging him to continue “And when I moved out I never celebrated Christmas either…I didn’t know how.”
Brienne stroked Jaime’s hair and lifted him from her shoulder so they were once again face to face. She wiped the tear which was rolling down his cheek and kissed him there, whisper soft and gentle. “I’ll show you how”, she whispered, grabbing his hand, “come on.” She led him over to the tree and left him standing there, looking even more confused than before.
“Where are you going, wench?” Jaime asked as she left the room, only to return with a cardboard box which looked big enough to even fit her in comfortably. Jaime pointed at the box. “What’s that for? Planning on posting me off somewhere?”
Brienne shook her head and laughed a little. “Decorations silly, we can’t have a bare tree can we?” She set the box on the floor and opened the lid with a flourish, the sound of tape ripping allowing him a chance to look at the decorations inside, all different colours and sizes and shapes. Jaime had never seen such a sight.
Brienne sat on the floor and gestured for him to do the same. He sat slowly and carefully across from her, on the other side of the box. Brienne started to unpack the box, pulling out colourful balls and sparkling lights.
“What’s this?” Jaime said holding up a length of something gold.
“It’s tinsel”, she replied with a fond smile.
“But what’s it for? Do we need it?” He looked slightly wary of the sparkly gold tinsel in his hand.
“I don’t really know. We always had it on the tree when I was a kid. It’s just pretty I guess.”
He settled the tinsel down carefully on the floor next to him as if it might bite and looked up to find Brienne smiling at him. He sent her a cautious smile back and she carried on rooting through the seemingly never ending box. Once the contents of the box were emptied onto their living room floor Brienne looked to Jaime and saw the pure excitement gleaming in his eyes, although the uncertainty was still somewhat present.
“Come on then, give me a hand”, she said, standing up and taking the nearest bauble with her.
“Afraid I only have the one to spare, wench”, he laughed; half at his own joke and the other half at her, gawping like a fish. He lent forward and pushed her chin up so her mouth closed.
Brienne shook her head and began to decorate the tree in earnest, baubles and tinsel and even the odd candy cane. She’d bought them that morning remembering Jaime’s sweet tooth. She was alone, at first, until she turned around to see Jaime stood like a lost little child holding a shiny red bauble in his left hand. She smiled sweetly. “Go on then”, she gestured towards the tree.
Jaime placed the bauble on one of the branches of the tree. It wasn’t easy seeing as though he only had one hand, but he managed it without help or complaint. He turned to face Brienne, his face beaming with unadulterated joy and utter wonder. “It’s the first time I’ve ever done that.”
Brienne handed him another bauble and he carefully placed that on the tree as well. She kept passing him decorations and he kept putting them on the tree with complete abandonment, his movements becoming faster and more excited each time. When it came to the tinsel Jaime decided it would be a good idea to decorate Brienne instead of the tree, winding colours of gold and red around her until she shook it free and set about attacking him with it instead. Their little playful fight ended with Brienne being the sensible one, as usual, and taking the lead to wrap the tinsel around the tree. Jaime quickly caught on and helped her out.
Jaime shot her an ear to ear smile, eyes darting between her and the newly decorated Christmas tree. “There, I think we’re finished”, he commented, both excited and yet also a little upset at the prospect of it all being over.
She shook her head. “Just one last thing Jaime”, she said bending down to retrieve something from the discarded cardboard box. She came back up holding a gold star and presented it to Jaime, smiling as she did so.
He held out his hand and took the star, the confusion coming back to his face and he looked to her for help. “What…what do I do with this?” He twirled the star in his hands admiring it.
“It goes on the top of the tree” she said in a matter of fact way, “My dad always used to lift me up when I was little so I could reach the top, it was always our tradition at Christmas. We both used to decorate the tree but I’d put the star on the top.”
“Don’t you want to do it this year?” he asked, holding the star out to her.
“No, you do it”, she pushed the star back to him and spun him back around so he faced the tree once again.
Jaime reached up and placed the star on the top of the tree, stepping back to admire his work. He span round to face Brienne and saw the sad look on her face when she realised his tears. “Don’t worry, wench, they’re happy tears.”
“Why did you never tell me? I mean, we’ve known each other for years and I never knew you didn’t celebrate Christmas. I just assumed you went to Casterly, if I’d have known you could have come to Tarth with me.”
Jaime looked down and spoke to his feet, “I don’t know, I was ashamed really. It shows how screwed up my family is I guess. No tree, no dinner, no presents.”
“No presents?” she asked and saw him give a small shrug, “I’m going to buy you so many presents this year.”
“I don’t need any presents; I’ve already got the best one.”
“Oh yeah? What’s that then?” she asked and saw the smirk he was giving her.