(For anonymous using this prompt)
T H E H E A R T B E A T S F O R T W O
Catelyn swept the hair out of her face as she traipsed up the stairs. Only a forth of the way there and her breath had already become labored, but she refused to come to a halt. The Maester had told her that she needed to rest, but Catelyn would have none of it. She was not the type that would sit back and let everything else do the work around her. Her good father had warned her that walking through the castle too much might cause some sort of harm or damage, like it had with his wife when she had been in the same condition as Catelyn, but still, she would not listen.
When she finally reached the right level, she stomped through the halls, raising the skirts of her dress so that she wouldn’t step on the hem of the beautiful red and gold gown her lord husband had given her as a present the month before. It fit her well, even now; he’d had it made so that it hug her full breasts and growing belly. As far as she was concerned, if this discussion went south, she was going to take the first dagger she could find and tear it to shreds.
Voices drifted down the hall from the room at the very end. She made her way there, not bothering to touch up her appearance or gather herself together. Instead, she dropped her skirts and shoved the doors open, making them bang loudly on the walls. “My lord, forgive me, but I very much need to speak with my husband,” Catelyn announced as a greeting.
In the room, standing at the table, was Tywin Lannister and his son, her husband, Jaime Lannister. While the latter looked somewhat shocked to see his wife acting in such an uncharacteristic way, his father did not. Catelyn was always kind and always courteous. She knew her duties and how to act in public. Not only that, but she was smart and savvy. There were reasons why Tywin had picked her, above all others, as a match for his heir to Casterly Rock.
This was not like Catelyn Lannister, and everyone in the room knew it.
Everyone also knew it had to be for a reason.
“We will conclude this discussion later, Jaime,” Tywin said, turning to his son. Jaime nodded his head, a blank expression falling across his face. His father nodded to her and then walked out of the room, leaving her and Jaime in the room alone to stare at one another somewhat unsurely.
At twenty, Jaime was already learning the ways of his father very quickly, but it wasn’t enough. She could see how nervous he was by his eyes. Whereas Tywin’s eyes always remained green and cold, Jaime’s green eyes were always alive. He could hide his thoughts from almost everyone, but she’d learned to read him quite well since their betrothal had been made six years ago and even more so in the two years they had been married. Of course, even he was adept at keeping secrets from her. There were some things that were better left buried, but being with child had left Catelyn to her boredom. And a bored Cat was never a good thing, especially when she had to walk a little every day in order to help with the baby in her belly.
“What are you doing here, my love?” Jaime asked carefully, stepping towards her with his hands out. “Isn’t this the time you’re supposed to be relaxing in bed?”
“Of course, that’s all I’m capable of these days, isn’t it?” Her voice was shriller than she wanted it to be, and she tried to calm down, but that only managed to make her feel even more upset. “All I can do is lie in bed while you do everything and you only come to see me when it’s convenient or when you’re tired. How am I supposed to be relaxing in bed when you–?”
Catelyn tried to stop herself – she tried to keep her emotions at bay – but her body betrayed her nonetheless. Something terrible swelled up inside of her, clenching her throat and stomach and making her feel sick, and tears sprung to her eyes uninvited. She spun away from him as fast as possible, hoping that he hadn’t seen them. “A lion does not cry,” she could practically hear Tywin say, but, I’m not a lion, and she didn’t think she ever would be, truly.
A concerned look flashed across Jaime’s face. “Cat, what’s wrong? What are you not telling me?” He took a few more steps closer to her, until he was standing just a foot away. When he reached out and touched her arms, it was enough to send a shock of anger and grief throughout her entire body. She tried to jerk away from him, but he gripped her and pulled her close to him. His body was warm and hard and though he had a good grip on her, it was also gentle. “You were fine this morning when we…when we were together…”
Catelyn started to turn, and he loosened his grip on her. “Jaime, you know what is growing inside of me, I trust,” she said, still not looking up at him.
“Of course I do.” He furrowed his brow at her and pressed his hands against her swollen belly. It was hidden under the loose cloth of the dress, but with his hands against her, it was plain as day that she was heavy with child. “Our child is inside of you.”
“Our child, yes.” She sighed, a sad sigh, a tired sigh, a sigh that said she did not want to speak any further but had to. “I’ve never been pregnant before. The first year of our marriage, we tried so hard, and I was terrified I might be barren. But then suddenly, I was with child and-and you know how scared I am. I try not to show it, but…” But with Tywin looking at her like her death was upon her and Jaime looking at her like she was a strange foreigner and Cersei…Cersei looking at her with such horrid contempt that it startled Catelyn… “This will be my first child.” She finally looked up to her husband and looked him dead in the eyes and she spoke: “But it will not be your first, will it?”
Jaime tried to hide it. She could see him trying to figure out how to react or what to do. But even as he pulled away, as his face turned blank, his eyes went to a dark, faraway place that she could not reach. There was nothing that could be said. He stepped away from her, one, two, three steps, and then stopped, never taking his eyes away from hers. Maybe he thought he could intimidate her somehow, but Catelyn was not one to be intimidated, certainly not by her lord husband. She’d seen the way he worked a sword and knew he was dangerous and even that he had something of a temper, but he had always been courteous with her. He allowed her to be humorous and to jest with him; they could joke and tease one another, like young people in love were supposed to do. He let her be herself when everyone else around her had confined her to her sex.
She could never be scared by him.
But she could be hurt by him, which was something she hadn’t expected at all.
“What would you have me do, my lady?” he finally said. There was no shame in his voice, no anger, no pain. There was nothing. But there was something in his eyes that looked a lot like regret, but she couldn’t be sure. She had seen Jaime feel a lot of things, but regret was not one of them. He did things and did them proudly, no regrets. Jaime was not the type of person that looked back on his actions with shame or embarrassment.
“I would have you tell me the truth,” she told him in a quiet voice.
Jaime licked his lips. “And if the truth is not something you want to hear? If the truth disgusts you or turns you from me? If the truth hurts you more than a lie?”
“I’m not fragile, Jaime,” Catelyn snapped. “Telling me that you put a baby in your twin sister’s belly is not going to cause me to miscarry your first legitimate child.”
In that moment, Jaime looked as if he might strike her. There was a flash of anger in his eyes and he clenched his jaw, his fists tightening at his sides. Even then, she did not step back or look away from him. If he did hit her, then she knew that he would not be able to look her in the eyes for a long time, and his father would figure out something had gone wrong. The marriage between Jaime and Catelyn had settled a feud between many high lords in the Riverlands and the Westerlands. If something were to become amiss, then Lord Tywin would have both of their heads.
The air seemed to leave Jaime’s chest, and he deflated. No longer was he a fierce lion, but only a man of twenty. Even when he was filled with anger, Catelyn couldn’t help but notice that he was handsome. When Jaime had been courting her, due to the custom of their betrothal, she’d always thought that he was too handsome for her and that she wasn’t beautiful enough. He’d always tried to change her mind, of course.
Jaime rubbed his face. “Where did you hear this?”
“From a reliable source,” Catelyn said stubbornly, folding her arms across her chest. Her belly had grown to the point where she could rest her forearms on it. He stared at her, a pleading look on his face. She’d never seen him look like this. He looked so… He looked pathetic. Even now, part of her ached to reach out and touch his face. She knew he would lean into her hand and close his eyes. But she couldn’t do that. What she needed was honesty.
“But not from someone you trust?”
“I learned to never trust anyone here.” The words cut him deeper than she expected.
He looked at the ground and nodded. “Then it was Cersei then.”
Catelyn took a step towards him, but when he looked up at her, she halted suddenly. There was a strange look on his face, a look that suggested he honestly had no idea what to do, who he was, or where to even begin. This was a man that was lost and if there was one thing Catelyn had never considered her husband to be, it was just that.
“Why would she–?” Jaime gave a guttural growl as he jerked away from her and walked back over to the table.
Catelyn bit her lip. “Because she loves you, and she cannot have you. Because you belong with her and yet you’re stuck with me.” A terrible sadness swelled inside of her. She wrapped her arms around her belly protectively, desperate to feel some sort of love and safety. Here at Casterly Rock, she almost always felt alone, but with the child growing inside of her, she was never truly alone. That was the one thing she could count on. “Because the king is not half the man you are and I’m not half the woman–”
“You are,” Jaime interjected, not looking at her. “If you can stand here and still look at me, knowing these…allegations, you’re a stronger person than I could ever be.” She said nothing, could say nothing. He splayed his hands on the table and leaned on them, his head hanging. “You must think me mad or disgusting.”
“The Targaryens wed brother to sister for hundreds of–”
“Does knowing that make you feel any better about this?”
For a while, Catelyn didn’t answer, but then, “No, it doesn’t.”
Jaime turned around to face her, sitting against the table. “You’ve always been more honest and open than I could ever be. I admired that about you from the moment we met.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “For that, you deserve a honest answer.” He pushed against the table and spoke as he walked towards her. “No, this isn’t my first child. We had a son, beautiful and golden-haired, that was passed off as Robert’s, but he… He died when he was two. Drowned. Or at least that’s what Cersei told me. I only saw him twice; she wouldn’t allow me to see him otherwise in case anyone thought something strange.”
“So none of their children…”
“No, none of them are mine. She told me told me that she didn’t want any children from him – only by me – but despite any sort of talents I may have, impregnating a woman from hundreds of leagues away is not in my skill set.”Jaime stopped in front of her. “She’s in King’s Landing, with the king; and I’m at Casterly Rock, with you” – here he touched her belly again – “and our child.” She looked down at his hands on her with a sad look, but he put a finger under her chin and lifted her face to his. “I’ve only ever loved Cersei, but I…” He searched her face with his eyes, that pleading look in them again. “But give me the chance to do right by you, Cat. It will take time, but I will love you and I will love our children. I spent years thinking this would only be a duty to me, but after we were married and I was able to get to know you better, I felt different.”
“You will never love me like you do Cersei.”
“No, I won’t,” Jaime admitted, “but I will love you nonetheless.” He stroked her red hair gently. “I never meant to lie or harm you, Catelyn; you must know that. You made me care about you and when I realized that I did care for you genuinely, it, well, it frightened me. I didn’t think it possible. And when you told me you were with child, it pushed me even more, because I was more excited than ever before, more afraid… Do you understand what I’m saying?”
Catelyn nodded her head. She was not expecting him to kiss her, as he suddenly did, slow and gentle.
“I will love you, Cat,” he whispered, pressing his forehead against hers, “if you give me a second chance.”
She looked up at him, blue eyes locked on his green ones, and then pressed her lips against his. This time, he was startled by her action, but his lips molded with hers and he grasped her tightly. She thought tears would spring to her eyes again, but they didn’t, not this time. Their kiss became more passionate and more desperate with each second that ticked by. If this wasn’t an answer, she didn’t know what was.