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Harrenhal’s bathhouse was a dim, steamy, low-ceilinged room filled with great stone tubs. When they led Jaime in, they found Brienne seated in one of them, scrubbing her arm almost angrily.  “Not so hard, wench,” he called. “You’ll scrub the skin off.” She dropped her brush and covered her teats with hands as big as Gregor Clegane’s. The pointy little buds she was so intent on hiding would have looked more natural on some ten-year-old than they did on her thick muscular chest.  “What are you doing here?” she demanded.  “Lord Bolton insists I sup with him, but he neglected to invite my fleas.” Jaime tugged at his guard with his left hand. “Help me out of these stinking rags.” One-handed, he could not so much as unlace his breeches. The man obeyed grudgingly, but he obeyed. “Now leave us,” Jaime said when his clothes lay in a pile on the wet stone floor. “My lady of Tarth doesn’t want the likes of you scum gaping at her teats.” He pointed his stump at the hatchet-faced woman attending Brienne. “You too. Wait without. There’s only the one door, and the wench is too big to try and shinny up a chimney.”  The habit of obedience went deep. The woman followed his guard out, leaving the bathhouse to the two of them. The tubs were large enough to hold six or seven, after the fashion of the Free Cities, so Jaime climbed in with the wench, awkward and slow. Both his eyes were open, though the right remained somewhat swollen, despite Qyburn’s leeches. Jaime felt a hundred and nine years old, which was a deal better than he had been feeling when he came to Harrenhal.  Brienne shrunk away from him. “There are other tubs.”  “This one suits me well enough.” Gingerly, he immersed himself up to the chin in the steaming water. “Have no fear, wench. Your thighs are purple and green, and I’m not interested in what you’ve got between them.” He had to rest his right arm on the rim, since Qyburn had warned him to keep the linen dry. He could feel the tension drain from his legs, but his head spun.” If I faint, pull me out. No Lannister has ever drowned in his bath and I don’t mean to be the first.”  “Why should I care how you die?”  “You swore a solemn vow.” He smiled as a red flush crept up the thick white column of her neck. She turned her back to him. “Still the shy maiden? What is it that you think I haven’t seen?” He groped for the brush she had dropped, caught it with his fingers, and began to scrub himself desultorily. Even that was difficult, awkward. My left hand is good for nothing.  Still, the water darkened as the caked dirt dissolved off his skin. The wench kept her back to him, the muscles in her great shoulders hunched and hard.  “Does the sight of my stump distress you so?” Jaime asked. “You ought to be pleased. I’ve lost the hand I killed the king with. The hand that flung the Stark boy from that tower. The hand I’d slide between my sister’s thighs to make her wet.” He thrust his stump at her face. “No wonder Renly died, with you guarding him.”  She jerked to her feet as if he’d struck her, sending a wash of hot water across the tub. Jaime caught a glimpse of the thick blonde bush at the juncture of her thighs as she climbed out. She was much hairier than his sister. Absurdly, he felt his cock stir beneath the bathwater. Now I know I have been too long away from Cersei. He averted his eyes, troubled by his body’s response. “That was unworthy,” he mumbled. “I’m a maimed man, and bitter. Forgive me, wench. You protected me as well as any man could have, and better than most.”  She wrapped her nakedness in a towel. “Do you mock me?”  That pricked him back to anger. “Are you as thick as a castle wall? That was an apology. I am tired of fighting with you. What say we make a truce?  “Truces are built on trust. Would you have me trust -”  “The Kingslayer, yes. The oathbreaker who murdered poor sad Aerys Targaryen.” Jaime snorted. “It’s not Aerys I rue, it’s Robert. ‘I hear they’ve named you Kingslayer’ he said to me at his coronation feast. ‘Just don’t think to make it a habit.’ And he laughed. Why is it that no one names Robert oathbreaker? He tore the realm apart, yet I am the one with shit for honor.”  “Robert did all he did for love.” Water ran down Brienne’s legs and pooled beneath her feet.  “Robert did all he did for pride, a cunt, and a pretty face.” He made a fist... or would have, if he’d had a hand. Pain lanced up his arm, cruel as laughter.  “He rode to save the realm,” she insisted.  To save the realm. “Did you know that my brother set the Blackwater Rush afire? Wildfire will burn on water. Aerys would have bathed in it if he’d dared. The Targaryens were all mad for fire.” Jaime felt lightheaded. It is the heat in here, the poison in my blood, the last of my fever. I am not myself. He eased himself down until the water reached his chin. “Soiled my white cloak... I wore my gold armor that day, but...”  “Gold armor?” Her voice sounded far off, faint.  He floated in heat, in memory. “After dancing griffins lost the Battle of the Bells, Aerys exiled him.” Why am I telling this absurd ugly child? “He had finally realized that Robert was no mere outlaw lord to be crushed at whim, but the greatest threat House Targaryen had faced since Daemon Blackfyre. The king reminded Lewyn Martell gracelessly that he held Elia and sent him to take command of the ten thousand Dornishmen coming up the kingsroad. Jon Darry and Barristan Selmy rode to Stoney Sept to rally what they could of griffins’ men, and Prince Rhaegar returned from the south and persuaded his father to swallow his pride and summon my father. But no raven returned from Casterly Rock, and that made the king even more afraid. He saw traitors everywhere, and Varys was always there to point out any he might have missed. So His Grace commanded his alchemists to place caches of wildfire all over King’s Landing. Beneath Baelor’s Sept and the hovels of Flea Bottom, under stables and storehouses, at all seven gates, even in the cellars of the Red Keep itself.  “Everything was done in the utmost secrecy by a handful of master pyromancers. They did not even trust their own acolytes to help. The queen’s eyes had been closed for years, and Rhaegar was busy marshaling an army. But Aerys’s new mace-and-dagger Hand was not utterly stupid, and with Rossart, Belis, and Garigus coming and going night and day, he became suspicious. Chelsted, that was his name, Lord Chelsted.” It had come back to him suddenly, with the telling. “I’d thought the man craven, but the day he confronted Aerys he found some courage somewhere. He did all he could to dissuade him. He reasoned, he jested, he threatened, and finally he begged. When that failed he took off his chain of office and flung it down on the floor. Aerys burnt him alive for that, and hung his chain about the neck of Rossart, his favorite pyromancer. The man who had cooked Lord Rickard Stark in his own armor. And all the time, I stood by the foot of the iron Throne in my white plate, still as a corpse, guarding my liege and all his sweet secrets.  “My Sworn Brothers were all away, you see, but Aerys liked to keep me close. I was my father’s son, so he did not trust me. He wanted me where Varys could watch me, day and night. So I heard it all.” He remembered how Rossart’s eyes would shine when he unrolled his maps to show where the substance must be placed. Garigus and Belis were the same. “Rhaegar met Robert on the Trident, and you know what happened there. When the word reached court, Aerys packed the queen off to Dragonstone with Prince Viserys. Princess Elia would have gone as well, but he forbade it. Somehow he had gotten it in his head that Prince Lewyn must have betrayed Rhaegar on the Trident, but he thought he could keep Dorne loyal so long as he kept Elia and Aegon by his side. The traitors want my city, I heard him tell Rossart, but I’ll give them naught but ashes. Let Robert be king over charred bones and cooked meat. The Targaryens never bury their dead, they burn them. Aerys meant to have the greatest funeral pyre of them all. Though if truth be told, I do not believe he truly expected to die. Like Aerion Brightfire before him, Aerys thought the fire would transform him... that he would rise again, reborn as a dragon, and turn all his enemies to ash.  “Ned Stark was racing south with Robert’s van, but my father’s forces reached the city first. Pycelle convinced the king that his Warden of the West had come to defend him, so he opened the gates. The one time he should have heeded Varys, and he ignored him. My father had held back from the war, brooding on all the wrongs Aerys had done him and determined that House Lannister should be on the winning side. The Trident decided him.  “It fell to me to hold the Red Keep, but I knew we were lost. I sent to Aerys asking his leave to make terms. My man came back with a royal command. ‘Bring me your father’s head, if you are no traitor.’ Aerys would have no yielding. Lord Rossart was with him, my messenger said. I knew what that meant.  “When I came on Rossart, he was dressed as a common man-at-arms, hurrying to a postern gate. I slew him first. Then I slew Aerys, before he could find someone else to carry his message to the pyromancers. Days later, I hunted down the others and slew them as well. Belis offered me gold, and Garigus wept for mercy. Well, a sword’s more merciful than fire, but I don’t think Garigus much appreciated the kindness I showed him.”  The water had grown cool. When Jaime opened his eyes, he found himself staring at the stump of his sword hand. The hand that made me Kingslayer. The goat had robbed him of his glory and his shame, both at once. Leaving what? Who am I now?  The wench looked ridiculous, clutching her towel to her meager teats with her thick white legs sticking out beneath. “Has my tale turned you speechless? Come, curse me or kiss me or call me a liar. Something.”  “If this is true, how is it no one knows?”  “The knights of the Kingsguard are sworn to keep the king’s secrets. Would you have me break my oath?” Jaime laughed. “Do you think the noble Lord of Winterfell wanted to hear my feeble explanations? Such an honorable man. He only had to look at me to judge me guilty.” Jaime lurched to his feet, the water running cold down his chest. “By what right does the wolf judge the lion? By what right?” A violent shiver took him, and he smashed his stump against the rim of the tub as he tried to climb out.  Pain shuddered through him... and suddenly the bathhouse was spinning. Brienne caught him before he could fall. Her arm was all gooseflesh, clammy and chilled, but she was strong, and gentler than he would have thought. Gentler than Cersei, he thought as she helped him from the tub, his legs wobbly as a limp cock. “Guards!” he heard the wench shout. “The Kingslayer!”  Jaime, he thought, my name is Jaime.  The next he knew, he was lying on the damp floor with the guards and the wench and Qyburn all standing over him looking concerned. Brienne was naked, but she seemed to have forgotten that for the moment. “The heat of the tubs will do it,” Maester Qyburn was telling them. No, he’s not a maester, they took his chain. “There’s still poison in his blood as well, and he’s malnourished. What have you been feeding him?”  “Worms and piss and grey vomit,” offered Jaime.  “Hardbread and water and oat porridge,” insisted the guard. “He don’t hardly eat it, though. What should we do with him?”  “Scrub him and dress him and carry him to Kingspyre, if need be,” Qyburn said. “Lord Bolton insists he will sup with him tonight. The time is growing short.”  “Bring me clean garb for him,” Brienne said, “I’ll see that he’s washed and dressed.”  The others were all too glad to give her the task. They lifted him to his feet and sat him on a stone bench by the wall. Brienne went away to retrieve her towel, and returned with a stiff brush to finish scrubbing him. One of the guards gave her a razor to trim his beard. Qyburn returned with roughspun smallclothes, clean black woolen breeches, a loose green tunic, and a leather jerkin that laced up the front. Jaime was feeling less dizzy by then, though no less clumsy. With the wench’s help he managed to dress himself. “Now all I need is a silver looking glass.”  The Bloody Maester had brought fresh clothing for Brienne as well; a stained pink satin gown and a linen undertunic. “I am sorry, my lady. These were the only women’s garments in Harrenhal large enough to fit YOU.”  It was obvious at once that the gown had been cut for someone with slimmer arms, shorter legs, and much fuller breasts. The fine Myrish lace did little to conceal the bruising that mottled Brienne’s skin. All in all, the garb made the wench look ludicrous. She has thicker shoulders than I do, and a bigger neck, Jaime thought. Small wonder she prefers to dress in mail. Pink was not a kind color for her either. A dozen cruel japes leaped into his head, but for once he kept them there. Best not to make her angry; he was no match for her one-handed.  Qyburn had brought a flask as well. “What is it?” Jaime demanded when the chainless maester pressed him to drink.  “Licorice steeped in vinegar, with honey and cloves. It will give you some strength and clear your head.”  “Bring me the potion that grows new hands,” said Jaime. “That’s the one I want.”  “Drink it,” Brienne said, unsmiling, and he did.  It was half an hour before he felt strong enough to stand. After the dim wet warmth of the bathhouse, the air outside was a slap across the face. “M’lord will be looking for him by now,” a guard told Qyburn. “Her too. Do I need to carry him?”  “I can still walk. Brienne, give me your arm.”  Clutching her, Jaime let them herd him across the yard to a vast draughty hall, larger even than the throne room in King’s Landing. Huge hearths lined the walls, one every ten feet or so, more than he could count, but no fires had been lit, so the chill between the walls went bone-deep. A dozen spearmen in fur cloaks guarded the doors and the steps that led up to the two galleries above. And in the center of that immense emptiness, at a trestle table surrounded by what seemed like acres of smooth slate floor, the Lord of the Dreadfort waited, attended only by a cupbearer.  “My lord,” said Brienne, when they stood before him.  Roose Bolton’s eyes were paler than stone, darker than milk, and his voice was spider soft. “I am pleased that you are strong enough to attend me, ser. My lady, do be seated.” He gesture............
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