Chapter 3 – Of the Flesh

Tyrion sat back in his chair with his wine cup clutched in his hand while he watched his wife being completely ravaged by their latest whore shared between them. Ros was a true denizen of the North with her pale skin and practical outlook on life. Normally when whores are chosen by the two of them they’re taken aback by the idea of servicing them both but not this one, she had no hesitation at all about demanding twice the fee for twice the work. 

He admired a self possessed woman.

Janyse was laid out with her head falling off the edge of the bed nearest him, her mouth open in a silent scream for more. The whores mouth had been buried between her thighs since nearly the moment the door closed behind them, he enjoyed watching for the first half of events and only wanted to wade into the mess of limbs and flesh once suitably enticed. 

He lost all focus at the sight of his wife’s pleasure cresting yet again when the door opened for his brother. He knew Jaime would come for them but he had hoped to be forgotten, the atmosphere at Winterfell was chilled in a way that had nothing to do with the snow or ice and was best avoided as long as possible.

“Brother, do I need to explain to you the purpose behind a closed door at a brothel? You would think by now, after years of setting off to fetch me in such dens of iniquity you would have learned the proper etiquette.” He watched Jaime stride towards him, confidence in every movement, but his eyes never left the bed. 

“Oh, I know the etiquette, but I also see it as a waste of time. It’s not like anyone here is at all shy.” He had a point of course, but he would never cede the field in a battle of wits, not even to his dear brother.

“Care to join the fun brother dear?” As a kingsguard he was meant to be celebate but they both knew that wasn’t the case for nearly any of his ‘brothers’  in white. Jaime himself had partaken in the offer more than once, the monotony of guarding their sweet sister and her great lump of a King enough to drive any man to vice and ruin.

“Tempting, but we haven’t the time. Your presence is requested.” Of course it was, the King had planned this trip as a reunion of the former sisters Tully, he would not be pleased if one simply vanished before he was duly praised for his efforts. 

“My presence or hers?” Turning back towards the bed they both watched as his beautiful wife rode the whores tongue, her hands kneading her breasts in breathless anticipation. She was beautiful in her pleasure and he was loath to interrupt her, though he knew she was following their every word. She was never lost in her passions, always aware of every set of eyes upon her. 

“Does it matter? You won’t send her along on her own, we all know that.”

“True.” He might hate the pomp and fuss of the royal party but he would forever be by the side of his dear wife. They had weathered many a storm together and they would remain together through this one as well.

“Look at it this way brother, the sooner it’s begun the sooner it ends.”

“Is that what you tell yourself?” His brother couldn’t meet his eyes, they both knew of his need to disappear within himself more and more as the years passed him by. He may be physically trapped within this life but his mind was free to roam and he and Janyse gave him plenty to sink himself into, happy to be his escape when needed.

“Sometimes.” His voice was low but strong, advice sincerely given and sincerely meant. 

“We’ll head that way shortly. No reason to stop the festivities abruptly, do you need to run back and prepare for our arrival or can you stay.” If he stayed it would not be as a kingsguard or even as a brother, it would be as a man. A man in need of distraction and affection, something that had been freely given to him for years and was never begrudged.

“I’ll stay.”

At first Jaime just sat there beside him in silence, it always took him time from making the decision to performing the action. He remembered his brother as a younger man, a man who lived for action but these days he only ever felt that sureness of step with his sword in his hand. Their darling sister had done her part to drive that doubt deep into his soul but in truth it had been Aerys who had molded him into the man he was now and no one else could see it, not like he could. They would know, if Jaime would simply speak his mind but holding his tongue had become second nature and now it took true safety and peace to pry his words from him, something seldom found at court.

When Jaime did move though it was with purpose. 

He did not hold the same proclivities as their sweet sister but watching his brother undress did send a thrill down his spine. Not one of attraction, they would never have that kind of closeness  and would never want it. No, the thrill came from the knowledge that every step Jaime took towards Jaynse was one he took away from Cersei. He was no fool to think that the bond between the twins could ever be completely sundered but it could be challenged and weakened in ways and that was something he would forever work towards. 

The day he had learned just what was happening between Jaime and Cersei and for how long it had been happening for was one of the few days he had felt a fool. He had known they were close but they had been that close for the whole of his life so he had never really seen past it to the ungly emptiness beneath. Now that he knew though he could not unsee it nor could he look away from it. It was a monster lurking in the shadowed corner of every interaction he had with his family now, and he would slay it one day and free them all.

Jaime never looked at the whore and he would not touch her either unless it was to move her away from his true goal. His brother was a man of love and connection, he was certain that was more than half of the reason that Cersei was able to sink her claws into him as deep as she had, without love he felt no connection. Before Janyse his brother had only ever been in the arms of their sister, but now he had something to compare it to and the leash Cersei had placed around his neck was stretching near to breaking. 

What they did in this room was just as taboo and just as forbidden in the eyes of the gentry but they never used it against him. Not like she did. He still remembered the first year after this strange intertwining between them all began, Jaime had avoided them until he couldn’t any more. At the time he had thought it was out of shame or fear of reprisal for having been with his brother’s wife, but that hadn’t been it at all. Cersei had trained Jaime to associate getting what he wanted with a price to be paid. Even if that price came far down the road it always tied back to that one moment of giving in to temptation. 

They never asked him for anything, well at least nothing they would not have asked him for before. Jaime loved Janyse. Tyrion loved Janyse. And Janyse loved them both. It had taken time for the three of them to work on exactly how they fit together but they had in the end. After ten years of marriage and the last four spent sharing his love they had all finally found their place. Together.

Ros was staring wide eyed at the sight of his brother and his wife in the throes of their passion, he would admit they were a sight to behold, but he was not one to waste valuable time. If they were being summoned back then their time was short. With a quick gesture he beckoned the girl over to him, if he was paying double then she would be doing her work in full. It was with the whores lips around his prick and his eyes on his wife that he found his first release of the night.

Catelyn sat beside the Queen and tried to keep her face calm and neutral as insult after insult was delivered in a saccharine sweet voice. She thought herself so clever, or perhaps she thought herself powerful enough to not care about being clever, but her words were too pointed and her looks too sly to be mistaken for anything other than what it was. She was unimpressed with the north and resentful for having to come to them when she was so used to simply ordering lesser nobles to come to her in King’s Landing. Only Ned was not just any noble, he was the Warden of the North and a man thought of by the king to be as close as kin, they had a standing that seemed to annoy her Grace near as much as being near to them did.

If this was the type of life that Lysa was subjected to since her marriage and relocation to the capital, then it was no wonder she looked so sickly. Her younger sister was a sweet child and mild mannered, always wanting to be someone’s friend. To have to live with such cruelty would surely take a toll. It was cruel too, for every comment the Queen made against her and Winterfell she made two about poor Lysa and her grief. The only person she spoke ill of more was Janyse. She seemed to take great delight in tormenting all three sisters and part of her wondered if that was partly because her husband the King had taken such an interest in them when he seemed to have none for his Lannister Queen.

Her youngest sister arriving nearly halfway through the feast with her husband looking windswept and rumpled with the kingslayer at their backs had incited the Queen to more and more vicious comments. Janyse seemed better able to ignore them and was nearly bored with each rejointer offered. She could admit to confusion by this, by all accounts her youngest sister only came to court two or three times a year but she seemed better able to deal with the courtly manners than Lysa who had lived amongst them for years.

Janyse had been seated to the other side of Lysa arranging them in order by age, it would seem that having the three sisters in a row tickled the king and had him continually looking towards Ned for praise for a job well done as though he had completed a successful hunt. Well he had done the job he’d set out to do in any case, if it was well done or not was still to be determined.

She wasn’t sure what to think about either sister anymore, they were no longer the girls she remembered, but then again she too had changed she was sure. She would make an effort to try and get to know them as the women they were now as they waited for Edmure to arrive, it was the least she could do after all and she had promised Ned she would try.

Maybe she could try to engage them both separately, they did not seem to get along when in close proximity. She could ask Janyse out riding in the morning and then try to speak with Lysa during sewing lessons with the girls. With a plan finally in mind she felt her heart ease a bit, this visit could not last forever, soon enough everything would return to normal.

Ned sat in the king’s rooms sharing wine with him, only the command of his king was enough to keep him there after such a long day, the need for sleep was chasing after him and it was a sirens call he dearly wished to answer. Robert didn’t seem to want the day to end, even though the next would be much the same as the first. It was like his old friend was afraid to go to sleep, like he thought he would wake somewhere else or maybe given his poor health not wake at all. Things had changed so much since the days of their youth. It was like thinking of a different lifetime when he thought of the time before now or like the war was simply a story told by old nan in his boyhood. Something distant and not his own.

He remembered when Robert was a strong and robust man, confident and stalwart eager for battle and filled with a lust for life that wasn’t in this man before him. He remembered when his family surrounded him and the future was certain and something he looked forward to. Now the only thing he seemed to be looking towards these days was the past. Looking back at all the people who should have been standing beside him, but were nothing more than ghosts left behind to haunt them all. 

While he was thankful to Robert for bringing his wife’s family together during their moment of grief, it showed that his old friend was still there underneath it all, he couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps Robert was looking towards the past as well. Family was important to Ned, but it seemed like it was less so for his wife and her sisters, each of them seemed strained during the day in a way that family should never be. They seemed more like acquaintances forced into playing parts with one another for an audience than a family in mourning. So much so it made him wonder who it was that Robert had done this for, for the Tully sisters or for himself and Robert. Did he bring them together for their benefit or did he do it so they could have an excuse to be together again behind these high stone walls away from court and locked in the past together?

He missed them all the more now. His family. Jon. Robert. 

Taking another deep gulp of wine he closed his eyes and let it all wash over him. While his good sister had lost a husband he had lost Jon and this was just one more loss in an ever growing line of them and he was beginning to wonder how much more he could endure before it became too much for him. How much before he became like Robert, drowning in it?

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