(L&S) Part the First



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Return to The Breoch Cycle

Ilse Breoch remembered the letter.  She still had it in her beautiful driftwood carved box of letters.  Most letters after two years were retired to a drawer, but not this one.  She had been seven, her older sister Cersei a girl of eighteen.  She had not yet been married to Robert Baratheon.  He hadn’t been king.  There had been another king and queen.

Cersei had written of a new knight from Highgarden and his beauty.  He had dark brown hair, eyes a blue gray, and a chiseled face that made him seem harsh and yet lent him a distinction unlike anyone else in the Seven Kingdoms.  He had tilted against Prince Oberyn, the Queen’s brother, and his horse had fallen on him.

He would never walk again.

Still, the description of him had captured Ilse Breoch’s fancy. 

Then there was another letter when she turned seventeen, her nephew the Crown Prince only a child of seven.  Lord Willas, this knight, had come to the Capital.  He was in a beautifully carved chair, dyed as if by a rose with blue flowers on it.  Yes, he was crippled, but he still had use of his knees.  It was his calves and ankles that were destroyed.  His feet were entirely broken, however, Cersei wrote, he was still a man.

Come visit me, Cersei enticed.  I have not seen you since you were a babe.  You have not met our brother Jaime though I know Tyrion loves spoiling you.  Little sister, you may see a man that can make your heart bloom.

Breoch, as her family affectionately called her, looked at the letter, and ran to her father, Lord Tywin.  She was his fourth child by a Septa from the family Sept Breoch.  Tywin had been seduced by her words of piety and promises that she could bring the spirit of his wife back—and Ilse Breoch had been born.  In anger for her initial lies and seduction, Tywin had the woman turned out, her holy robes taken from her back.  He carried the child from the Sept and had legitimized her immediately, naming her for both his mother and the Sept.

It had been Jaime who had called her ‘Breoch’ first.  He had been eleven or so and had been confused, knowing that she had come from the Sept and not realizing that ‘Ilse’ referred to both the baby and the former Lady of the Rock. 

When she found Tywin looking over the walls to the sea, Breoch breathed in the sea air.  “Father,” she began.  “Cersei has invited me to the Capital.”

“I know,” he stated.  “She sent me a raven along with yours.  She believes she has found you the perfect husband and thinks that I should not keep you here with me.”

“Father,” she whispered, touching his arm in affection.  “You know I would never wish myself away from you, but I would like to see the city, to see Lords and Ladies other than our bannermen.  I would like to see my brothers and sister.  I’ve always wondered if the King is how my lady sister has described him.”

“Let us hope not,” he joked.  “You would go?”

“I would go.”

“Then into Cersei’s hands I will place you.  You may not wed, however, without my direct consent.”  He kissed her on the crown of her head.  “Go pack.  I’ve already sent the raven and tomorrow a litter will be ready.”

She squealed, hugging the war worn yet imperious Warden of the West, and ran back to her room, looking around at all the dolls that her brother Jaime had sent before he thought her too old.

Her ladies helped her choose dresses and she was too excited to sleep. 

The litter took two weeks to get to the Capital.  As she was carried through the city, she looked out in interest at all the filth and colors and smells, and happily stepped out onto the stones of the keep, smiling up at her brother Jaime.

“Is that you, Breoch?” he asked, kissing her hand.  “How you’ve grown since you were a child of four!”

“I would imagine.  Father says my eyes have become bluer.”  Breoch was told she had her mother’s astonishing blue eyes that were rare in the Seven Kingdoms.  Not one of the noble houses could claim eyes like hers, and her father had always told her to treasure them. 

Jaime leaned toward her.  “Much.”  He turned from blocking her view and she saw a procession for her.  Jaime led her toward a fat man with a brown beard.  Breoch didn’t need to be told who this was.  She curtsied deeply.  “Your grace.”

“You Lannisters get prettier and prettier.  Your sister, even your brother in the kingsguard is well regarded by the ladies, though your brother Tyrion is only ever sought after—elsewhere.”

She looked at him and then nodded.  “Thank you, your grace.  I look forward to being with my family while I am here, and meeting my nephews and niece.  I understand Prince Tommen is just a babe.”

“Women’s trouble,” he insisted.

Fortunately, Jaime led her to a face so like her own that Breoch needed no introduction.  “Your grace.”

“Lady sister,” Cersei responded, kissing her cheeks.  “I’ve had you placed with me in the royal quarters.  You are too beautiful to be left unattended.  Your nephew, Prince Joffrey—“ (Breoch curtsied) “—and our little Princess Myrcella.”

“What a beautiful name,” she commented.  “And Prince Joffrey, I would never have guessed you were only seven.  I would have taken you for a boy of ten!  You must be quite accomplished with your practice sword.”

“I care for it not.”

“Well, I have never used one,” she stated.  “Would you show me?  I’m sure I can borrow a simple gown from someone and, my prince, I would be excellent practice as you are sure to win against me as I am only a woman.”  Breoch did not know it, but she had already won his young heart.

She was in such a simple dress the next day, borrowed from her handmaiden Lalie, when she saw Lord Willas.  He was unmistakable in his chair.  He had been taken out by the servants to the practice areas. 

Breoch parried and laughed when Joffrey almost stabbed her.  “I am not dead yet, my prince.”

“I would not kill you, my lady.  You are far too beautiful.”

She struck toward him and was sure to miss his shoulder.  “You flatter.  You will know how to woo the ladies in another seven years’ time.  How I shall love to see the day when you wed.  Do say you will send a raven to Father and invite me.”

He aimed for her legs and she made to try to get away, holding up her skirts, but let him strike her. 

“Well done, Prince Joffrey!”

He gave her a charming smile.  “You will be married by then, my lady, but you will, of course, be invited.  Your blood is undisputed.”

Breoch laughed and curtsied to him before noticing a man at the edge of the practice area.  She came forward and said quietly, “There is a rather large and stern man who seems to want your attention, Nephew.”

Joffrey turned and laughed.  “That is the Hound.  It is his purpose in life to see to my safety.”

“I see,” she smiled, though she didn’t mean it.  “I shall leave you to it, my prince.  I will be of service and put away our swords.”

As she turned, Joffrey called out to her.  “Tomorrow, dear lady.”

“Tomorrow,” she promised, “unless my lady sister dresses me well and wishes for tea, but I think we can sneak around it.”

Joffrey laughed good naturedly, a sound which seemed foreign to him.  “I don’t think I’m ever sending you back to your Warden, my lady, however cross he gets.”

She leaned forward.  “The mighty Lord Tywin does not get cross.  However, you are his grandson and his prince.”  Breoch then turned and jogged to where she would place the swords and passed close to the handsome man in the chair.

“My lady,” he greeted.

She curtsied.  “Lord Willas.  Do you enjoy our sport?”

“I enjoyed how you fell into the prince’s thrusts.  You are truly accomplished.”  He gave her a calculated look, his sharp features lending to his distinguished air.

“My father firmly believes that a lady should be able to defend herself, albeit with a dagger and not a sword.  I am here for a few months.  My tricks will be necessary less and less as the prince improves.  Now he feels the pride of overcoming a woman, however charming, and will go into his next practice with his tutor with the knowledge that he has skills even if they were used on one so lowly as me.”

“There is an ice, like that in the North perhaps, in your eyes.  I believe it is dangerous, my lady.”

The two looked at each other before either spoke again.

“I have never been called dangerous,” Breoch admitted.  “However, this is my first time from my father’s keep.  I have lived a sheltered life.”  She looked at him in interest.  “And you, Lord Willas?  I hear that you have taken up hawking at Highgarden.”

“You are informed,” he remarked.  “You also have me at a disadvantage.”

“Isn’t it wonderful?”  Genuinely smiling, she curtsied.  “For once I am nothing but a sparring partner, albeit to a prince.  Good morning, good ser.”

She could feel Lord Willas’s eyes on her as she left and she smiled to herself.  When she returned to the Royal Quarters, Joffrey was there and he insisted on picking out her gown for the rest of the day.  “Blue,” he decided, “for your eyes.  Mother will not care for it as it is not red, but she’s having dresses made up for you in the style of the capital.  I will speak to the head seamstress and have blue added to the collection.  Yes.  Blue, Aunt.”

“Then, blue it is,” she said, picking out a warm colored blue.  “Now, Nephew, I need privacy.  I do not have the magic of the East where I can dress with a wave of my hand.”

He bowed and left her room and Lalie and Avlinda were immediately undressing her and sponging her skin with lavender scented water, her hair brushed with oil from gold mines and left to hang down her back.

“You are beautiful,” Avlinda murmured.  The dress was modest with a scooped neck, the sleeves ruffled and regathered to create poofs again and again, the dress cinched at the waist and flowing out.

“Yes,” Lalie agreed.  “You are worthy of being the Queen’s sister.”

Breoch left the apartment and was happy to find her sister.  “He is handsome,” she murmured.  “He does not know my name or my status, but he spoke to me on the practice fields.”

“I knew that you might favor the dark look instead of the light,” Cersei noted.  “A sister’s intuition.  There is a dance for you tonight.”

“He will be forced to watch.”

“Perhaps I will suggest he send an emissary to ask for your company during the dance?” Cersei asked.  “This dress will be perfect.  I just will send a lady to twist your hair in the style of the capital.”

The two sisters smirked at each other.

Breoch’s first dance was with Joffrey, and she smiled and laughed with him. 

“You’re good for the beast,” Robert remarked as he filled up her cup of wine as the musicians were taking a break.  “He’s not the selfish little prig he usually is.  Then again, it’s been a day.  He might become a prig again in a week.”

She was startled to hear the King speak such of his own son, but she determined to show Joffrey even more careful attention than before.

When she was escorted to Lord Willas’s side, she smiled at him and curtsied again.  “I understood you wished a dance and wondered if you preferred ale or wine.”

“I procured us wine,” he stated.  “I hope you will find this acceptable, my lady.”

“I do,” she agreed, sitting beside him and smiling genuinely.  “Do you enjoy watching the dance?  When I was a little girl, I used to sneak up to the servant’s terrace so I could look down at the hall where dancing might occur.  I would practice the steps with my sister before she moved to the Capital.”

“Your sister lives here?”  His blue gray eyes turned to her and she looked at him in confusion.

“Surely—“ she stated, but she didn’t finish the sentence.  “My lady sister does.  I’ve come for a visit.  My brother is here as well.  I hear another of my siblings might be traveling here in a fortnight.  We shall be a merry group, think you not, Lord Willas?”

“And you have more siblings at your father’s keep?” he asked with a grin, remembering her earlier words.

She took a sip of her wine.  “No.  I was the last.  He was loathe to let me go, but he knew that as soon as my lady sister invited me, I would want to go.  He could not keep me within those four walls forever.”

Lord Willas leaned back in his chair after setting down his wine.  “You are a mystery, my lady.  You have a family here in the capital, you are friends with the prince, and I cannot tell from which of the kingdoms you are from.”

“Your father is Warden of the South,” she told him, leaning forward, her hand cradling her chin.  “Surely you would know if I were a Sothron lady.”

He tilted his head in recognition.  “You would be correct.  That leaves North, East, and West.”

“So difficult,” she teased.  “Why don’t you just ask someone to introduce us?”

“No one knows who you are.  They speak only of Lady Ilse Lannister and her coming to the Capital and I have determined you are not Lady Ilse although I have yet to see her.  Have you?”

“No.”  There was no possible way she could see herself.  “How do you know I am not she?  I am friends with the prince.”

“Your eyes,” he answered, leaning forward.  “The ice of the North.  Lannisters have green eyes.”

Her eyebrow arched at his reasoning, which would normally be correct, and she was taken out of her thoughts when the couples began to clap, and she followed suit.  “I am promised to Ser Hayley Dayne,” she told him regretfully.  “Perhaps we will meet again, Lord Willas.”  She stood.  “My family calls me Lady Breoch,” she told him.  “There.  We never had an introduction.”

Lord Willas took her hand and kissed the back of it.  Their eyes held and he let her hand slip through his fingers as Ser Hayley came up to them. 

Cersei found her in the halls after the dance.

“He thinks Lady Ilse is a lady with green eyes,” she told her sister.  “I informed him I was called Lady Breoch.”

“I feel you inherited my boldness,” Cersei declared as they entered her boudoir.  Lalie was there, Avlinda strangely missing, and she ushered Breoch behind a screen where Lalie readied her for the night and placed her in her most ornate robe. 

“You see,” Cersei continued, “you are doing some of the courting.”

“I was teasing him.”

“Men usually want us to be quiet and like flowers, beautiful, wonderfully fragrant, but without a voice.  A maiden to admire them.  I never agreed with the idea.  I’m glad you don’t either.  Then again, we are the daughters of Lord Tywin.”

Breoch hesitated.  “Sometimes I wonder about—her.”  At Cersei’s confused look, she explained, “my—mother.  I don’t even know if I should call her that.  Is it wrong for me to wonder?”

“No,” Cersei said, taking her hand and pulling her down to a comfortable chair next to one she took herself.  “It’s natural.  I wonder about my own.  I barely remember her.”

“Mine was wicked.  She took advantage of Father’s grief.”

“Yes.  I remember.  He had such hope for about two months and then—utter resignation.”  She seemed lost in herself.  “Then there was you.  You were wonderful and perfect and a little lion despite that woman.”

“With the wrong eyes,” she laughed.  “Lord Willas says they’re like the ice of the North.”

“He is a poet,” Cersei laughed.

There was a slight sound of the door, and Cersei and Breoch both looked toward it.

“Now, little lion, to bed with you.  We must have you looking lovely for Lord Willas.”

Breoch laughed.  “I am sparring with Joffrey.”

“It does him good,” Cersei said as she led her sister out.  “I think he needed an aunt, even if for a few short months.  I think he fancies you a little, which is natural for a young boy of seven.”

“Let it not continue when he’s seventeen.”  The sisters laughed, though Cersei’s was perhaps a little strained.

Breoch was only three apartments over and she thought she saw a shadow, but it didn’t seem like the children were awake, so she continued on, dreaming of the morrow.

And the morrow came.  She was in one of Avlinda’s dresses this time.

“Gray?” Joffrey complained.

Lord Willas’s chair was set almost exactly the same spot.

“Could you not have found a dress that was not gray?”

“Blame my handmaiden!” she laughed.  “I’m borrowing my handmaids’ dresses.  I thought this one sufficiently ugly for you to batter.”

“True, my lady.  I had not thought.”

“Tis of no importance,” she told him with a smile.  “Shall we begin?”

Joffrey came up to her for a moment.  “You have an admirer.  In the chair.  Lord something.”

“Lord Willas,” she stated.  “He is son to the Warden of the South.  Your lady mother wrote and specifically invited me so I might see him, although he does not know that I am your aunt.  He believes me to be some mysterious woman named Lady Breoch.”

“A game!” Joffrey stated in excitement.  “I see Mother is playing one as well.  Let us see.”

The practice commenced and in the end it was Joffrey who pulled at her skirt teasingly and ran from her toward Willas’s chair.  “Ah, Lord South,” he stated, causing Breoch to stifle a laugh behind her hand.  “I was just telling Lady Breoch that she should have some morning tea.  Do you want morning tea?”

Lord Willas looked a little perplexed but then looked at her, his blue gray eyes shining in amusement.  “I would like nothing better, my prince.”

“Good,” Joffrey said.  “We need it.  Get your chair people and I’ll tell the Hound to order some for the garden.”  He handed Breoch his sword and called after his bodyguard.

Breoch was still trying not to laugh.  “Forgive the prince.  He saw us talking yesterday and again at the dance.  He believes he’s being subtle.”

Laughing himself, Lord Willas replied, “He reminds me a little of my brother Loras.  Of course, Loras is fifteen years older, but I remember him well at that age.”

“Is he to come to the Capital?”

“It is why I am here.  He’s here for the Tourney in Lady Ilse Lannister’s honor.”

Breoch paused.  It seemed like Cersei had put plans in motion long before she had been asked to arrive.  “I look forward to seeing him ride,” she said after a moment, having been lost in her thoughts.  “I’ve been to few tourneys, though I have come to the Capital to see this one.”

“Have you not put the swords away yet, my lady?” Joffrey asked petulantly.

“But a moment,” she answered, leaning forward in mock solemnity before shooting a smile at Lord Willas and then running to deposit the swords.

Tea in the garden was lovely.  There were blooms that Breoch had never seen before and she enjoyed the pastries that were from other parts of the kingdom.  However, Joffrey spoke a great deal of his desire to hunt and how his father would not let him.

“He says I must wait until I am ten.”

“Ten is such an important year,” Lord Willas said.  “You are truly a man at ten.  A man hunts.  A boy does not.”

This seemed to cheer Joffrey up. 

What truly disturbed them, however, was a knight falling out of a hedge of some white blossoms.  He had red hair and blue eyes, duller than both Lord Willas’s and Breoch’s, and then he picked himself up and looked around.  “I’m looking for the Queen’s sister,” he declared, glancing around.

He wasn’t a servant.  The man looked like a possible young knight.

“Why?” Joffrey asked.  “My aunt usually does not take to being summoned.”

The knight flushed and bowed.  “I am but a humble servant, my prince.  The queen desires for her lady sister to try on the dresses sent from the seamstress.”

“Tell her I will personally escort my aunt once I have finished my tea.”  Joffrey looked far too pleased with himself.  He definitely thought this all a game.  He then saw that the man was staring at Breoch.  “Do you suppose my lady aunt generally takes tea wearing gray?”

“No,” the knight replied a little too quickly.  “I imagine Lady Ilse wears only the finest silks.”  His eyes shifted between aunt and nephew.  “May I beg a name?”

“My sword master,” Joffrey told him.  “She’ll be at hall with me, dressed in blues if I have any word about it, unless she forsakes my company for others.”  Joffrey now looked at Willas with all the subtlety of a toad.  “Your name.”

“Ser Edmure Tully.”


Breoch was certain that Joffrey didn’t recognize the name at all.

“I shall find the lady,” she declared, taking her last sip of tea.  “My prince, Lord Willas, it has been a pleasure, as always.”  She stood and moved around the table, barely nodding to the Tully.

“He is full young,” Cersei agreed, “though I did not believe he would behave so badly.”

A gown of red with gold flowers stitched on it was being tailored to Breoch’s height.  She did look rather well in it, Breoch thought.  The arms hung open and then the fabric wrapped around the arm to hang loosely.  It was a strange style and Breoch knew it would take a few days to get used to it.

“Joffrey told me he wanted you to wear blue to the Tourney.”

“The one Lord Willas is here to see.  His younger brother debuts, it appears.”

“You’ve caught me out,” she smiled.  “I had planned this little diversion in case Father would not let you come.  I see it was not necessary.”  She smiled to herself and began to play with Breoch’s hair, twirling it one way or another to see how best to place it.

“Your son is universally charming.  I will do, however, what you think it is best I do as a Lannister.”  Blue eyes met green, and Cersei smiled that strange smile of hers.

“Good.  You’ll be dressed in our house colors, your favor you can decide upon, whether it is gold or crimson.  Now, Jaime usually begs my favor, but he has my permission to ask for yours as your favorite will not be jousting.  You are the lady of the tournament, after all.”

“No,” she decided.  “He will remain true to his beloved sister and twin.  I shall bestow my favor on no one to be truly impartial.”

Cersei laughed.  “Bring a favor, in case you change your mind.”

“In case I change my mind?” Breoch laughed.  “Sister, I do not believe you know me well at all.”

Published by excentrykemuse

Fanfiction artist and self critic.

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