Jaime pulled his bleeding sword free as the body of Aerys Targaryen fell to the floor of the throne room. He wiped his brow with the back of his hand and swallowed hard. Elia, was Jaime’s first thought—and then he was running.
Elia Martell had always been kind to Jaime. “A good and gracious woman,” many called her. Though Jaime knew she was more than that, and didn’t deserve the fate she would surely receive if Jaime didn’t reach her in time. He ran from the throne room as fast as his legs would carry him, trying desperately to put dead King Aerys out of his mind. I had no choice, Jaime told himself. Elia will understand. I had no choice.
The gods alone knew if Elia would trust Jaime after he’d just murdered her good-father, but he had to try. And there was little love between Elia and Aerys anyway, Jaime knew. Instead he thought of Elia. Sweet, clever, fragile Elia; the only woman in King’s Landing beautiful enough to tear his thoughts away from Cersei, if only in passing. Though she was ten years his senior, Jaime hardly seemed to notice. Elia had never looked down on Jaime as others did, or treated him as if he were a child. She had always praised him after he’d done well in a tourney, and Jaime often saw her watching him sparring in the training yard with Princess Rhaenys clutching her leg.
With the drawbridge to Maegor’s Holdfast raised, Jaime headed towards the armory, where he would then need to scale the walls in order to reach the Princess and her children before someone else did. Jaime cringed at the realization, but Elia was worth the risk. Though when he arrived at Maegor’s base, Jaime saw two men already scaling its walls perhaps fifty feet above him; men he recognized as Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch.
“Fuck,” Jaime whispered under his breath. I’ll never make it in time. But he had already come this far, he couldn’t give up now. And he certainly couldn’t leave Elia and her children to mercy of Lorch and the Mountain. Jaime looked up at the challenge set before him, took in a deep breath, and began to climb. The going was quicker than he expected it to be, then again this wasn’t the first time Jaime had scaled a wall. He had grown up climbing the walls of Casterly Rock as a child, much to his mother’s dismay. Jaime thanked the gods for his natural swiftness, and for not making him into a huge boulder of a man like Gregor Clegane.
Jaime saw Gregor and Lorch scamper through Maegor’s first available window and quickened his pace as he gritted his teeth from the exertion, sweat beading on his forehead. He reached the same window not long after and hauled himself through, which was no easy task in full plate armor—his snow-white kingsguard armor, now stained with red. As his feet landed on the stone floor, Jaime found himself on a landing between two staircases, one going up and one going down. Fuck, he thought. Which way did they go? The royal apartments seemed the logical destination, so Jaime chose the staircase leading upwards, and ran towards the bedchamber that had been Prince Rhaegar’s.
But when he burst through the oaken doors, there was no one to be found. Where is she? Jaime wondered, panicking.
“Elia!” Jaime shouted. “Elia, are you in here?”
“Ser Lion?” called a small voice. Jaime’s head turned towards the bed, where he saw a head of messy black hair peak out from underneath it, and two small dark violet eyes staring up at him.
Jaime let out a sigh. “Rhaenys,” he said gently. “Where’s your mama, little dragon?”
Rhaenys shook her head as she crawled towards him. Jaime lifted her up off the ground and into his arms. “I don’t know,” she whispered into his neck. “Mama said to hide and took baby brother away.” The nursery, Jaime realized. Fuck.
“Alright, little one, we’re going to see Mama now, and then you, her, baby Aegon and I are going on a journey together,” Jaime told Rhaenys, stroking her hair to soothe her. “You must be very quiet now, Princess, okay?”
“Okay, Ser Lion,” Rhaenys whispered, burying her head into Jaime’s shoulder. He turned and left the bedchamber with Princess Rhaenys in tow, and headed back down the staircase the way he had come.
Jaime had just reached the bottom of the second staircase when he heard the screams.
“No!” Jaime yelled, pulling his sword from its scabbard, still stained with Aerys’ blood. He burst through the nursery door just in time to see Gregor Clegane dash baby Aegon’s head against the stone wall. Jaime’s mouth fell open, stunned.
“Lannister,” Amory Lorch sneered. “I see you’ve brought us the other dragon-spawn. Be a good lad and hand it over.”
And so Jaime Lannister, with a princess in one hand and a sword in the other, moved to position himself between Elia Martell and her assailants. Jaime’s mouth curled into a smile, as if often did when he faced down an opponent, and he straightened his back.
“If you want them, come and claim them,” he said, not breaking his gaze from Amory’s.
Gregor laughed. “You fool,” he growled. “It was your father who bid us slay this lot.”
“Fuck my father,” Jaime said. “You’ve already butchered Rhaegar’s heir. Leave now, or I will show you no mercy.”
This time Amory laughed as he took a step towards Jaime. “You’re way out of your depth, boy,” he said, gripping the hilt of his sword, still in its sheath. Jaime slowly slide his blade towards Amory’s throat and placed it gently against his skin.
His smile widened. “I’ve already killed the king,” said Jaime coolly. “What do you think I would do to scum like you?”
Amory’s eyes widened as Gregor’s mouth dropped open in disbelief.
“You didn’t,” said Gregor, holding his ground.
“I did,” replied Jaime, without a hint of dishonesty in his voice. “Do you want your friend to live, Clegane?”
Gregor’s eyes narrowed, knowing he’d been had. He stepped forward and grabbed Amory by the shoulder. “Let’s go, Lorch,” he said. “The lion’s not worth it. His father would have us skinned if we harmed his golden son.”
Jaime slid his blade away tentatively, allowing Gregor to jerk Amory away. “I hope you know what you’re doing, Lannister,” Amory called as the pair left the nursery. Jaime sheathed his sword and quickly barred the door. He only now allowed himself to notice the way Rhaenys’ nails were digging into his neck as she choked out muffled sobs. Elia was crazed. She had scampered across the room the moment Jaime shut the door, and was now clutching the body of baby Aegon to her chest, sobbing hysterically.
“Elia,” said Jaime softly, walking towards her. “Elia, we have to leave.”
“My baby… my sweet boy… no, no, no… not my baby,” Elia whimpered, rocking her dead son in her shaking arms. Jaime knelt down beside her and placed his free hand on her shoulder. Elia shrugged it off and began to sob even louder. “No!” she cried. “I won’t leave him!” Jaime felt tears stirring in his eyes, and he blinked them away. He had to remain strong. For her.
“We won’t, Elia. We won’t, I promise. We can bring his body, but we have to go now, before the Mountain tells my father what I’ve done,” Jaime urged her. “Elia, look at your daughter, look at Rhaenys. We have to save her.”
Elia looked up then, and saw her daughter safe in Jaime’s arms. “Rhaenys,” she muttered. “My sweet girl.”
“Yes, Rhaenys,” Jaime echoed. “You still have Rhaenys.”
Jaime grabbed Elia’s chin between his thumb and forefinger and turned her face to meet his. He looked into her black eyes, red and raw and full of hot tears that would not stop falling, then rubbed her jaw with the side of his thumb.
“Do you trust me?” he asked her.
Elia blinked, then reached her hand up to touch his. “Yes,” she whispered.
“Then we have to go,” Jaime said. “Now.”