The gods had played jest with the Lannisters twice, the second far grievous than the first.
It was a lesson, or perhaps a test for the high lord Tywin Lannister when Tyrion had been delivered to him through Lady Joanna’s womb. The gods were just, Cersei sometimes overheard her lord father mumble those words, his hard jaw clenched and his teeth ground. And just indeed they were, for they had taken one life and given another. Only they had replaced her sweet, gentle and beautiful mother lady mother with an ugly, freakish dwarf.
Tyrion remained a bastard in her lord father’s eyes but Lord Tywin’s firstborn son, Rhaegar Targaryen, was a completely different sort. Rhaegar had come to this world together with Cersei, only a minute earlier. And one minute was all needed to create the difference. Even in childhood, Cersei had often wondered why the two of them were so… not alike. They were twins, weren’t they ? Sharing the same mother’s womb, the same mother’s milk, the same nameday, weren’t they supposed to be mirror of each other ? But no, Cersei and Rhaegar were anything but alike. While Cersei had the gold of Casterly Rock for her hair and was extremely proud of it since even their lady mother did not posses such fine golden shade, Rhaegar’s was pure silver. While Cersei’s eyes were the color of jade, Rhaegar’s sported a violet shade, a result of dragon mating lion some generations past, she was told. Sometimes she would naïvely ask Lady Joanna whether their appearance was the reason for their opposite treatments, to which Lady Joanna only smiled and shook her head. As she was taught to sing, to dance and to please, Rhaegar was taught to fight, to lead and to rule. Although Cersei earned the rare moments of tenderness Lord Tywin only showed Lady Joanna, it was Rhaegar who had all the attention of their lord father, at which Cersei held a deep envy. As she grew up, Cersei gradually came to understand the reason. Born Lord Tywin’s firstborn son and the heir to Casterly Rock, Rhaegar bore all their lord father’s expectations. He might not show it but Lord Tywin wanted for Rhaegar to be the son worthy of his legacy and thus, tried to groom the boy into the same man as himself. Yet it seemed the gods had not lost the interest in Lord Tywin Lannister. Just as Rhaegar was nothing alike to his twin Cersei, he was never the son Lord Tywin desired. Their lord father wanted for him to be a great warrior and his son appeared to detest the very notion of taking up the sword. Swords made wars, Rhaegar mused and all he loved was peace. This enraged the Warden of the West, who believed wars were necessary to power, who had won many battles himself. It was not as if Rhaegar did not possess the gift for swords; her twin could do almost anything once he put his mind to it. However, Rhaegar mostly neglected his training in favor of songs, verses and silver harps. Their lord father often berated him for his “womanly” interest but notes and tunes seemed to reach his son’s ears far better than his words. All the threats and insults did little to move him, for Rhaegar was always silent and melancholic as the winter moon.
His relationship remained at odds with their lord father and his connection with his twin did not fare any better. Aside from their appearance, Cersei and Rhaegar were opposite as the sun and the moon. Cersei was proud, ambitious and had a silent thirst for power , a true Lannister both inside and out while Rhaegar’s presence rarely lacked an air of melancholy. He seemed most quiet everytime, musing whatever inside his mind that produced a distant look in his violet eyes. What Cersei longed for, Lord Tywin’s attention, Rhaegar had; what Cersei desired, Casterly Rock, Rhaegar did not muster a thread of care. Sometimes Cersei thought she hated Rhaegar; other times, she yearned for him with a fervent passion. Cersei knew they were day and night but that only proved Rhaegar was the one for her as Cersei for him. Day and night were opposite yet they were also the same and inseparable. Without day night would never come and without night day would never rise. They were meant to exist together, to be together.
Somehow Cersei had let it slip her mind that day and night were never together. Day would not last when night came and night ceased when day arrived. Much as Cersei yearned for her twin, Rhaegar never reciprocated her feelings. To him she was only a sister, a sister who too resembled their cold, unyielding lord father. Some would say Rhaegar took after Lady Joanna’s gentle heart, which was at odds with Lord Tywin’s cruel one. Cersei knew she was Lord Tywin’s daughter and found pride in it; still she would not accept it was the reason for their estrangement. Hadn’t they been together for years, until the dwarf’s arrival tore them apart ? If Lady Joanna could love Lord Tywin, why couldn’t Rhaegar love her just the same ? Despite she always reached out to him, Rhaegar was always distant, avoidance, a league out of her hand. And to salt the wound, he was much closer with their dwarf of a brother. Many a time she saw him with Tyrion, a smile so broad and warm on his lips as her Rhaegar sung and played the harp to him, to the freak that caused their lady mother’s death. How could it be, Rhaegar ? Why him and not me who listens to your music and shares your joys ?
Another reason to loathe the Imp.
Cersei remembered well the look in Rhaegar’s eyes when he caught her pinching Tyrion. Whenever she looked into the cage, disgust and hatred raged in her heart. He should not have been here, wrapped in silk and wool, while her lady mother was six feet underground, embraced by earth and kissed by worms. He should have been out in the woods or under the sea, where he belonged with his kinds. No matter how Cersei denied that he was not her little brother, that he should have been thrown away, no matter how she had entreated Lord Tywin to do so, all her had received was a shake and a scold. Once he had nearly raised a hand to her for bringing up this matter. The world had acknowledged Tyrion as his son and Lord Tywin could not have said otherwise, however he loathed the fact. While her lord father gave Tyrion care befitted a noble’s son, Cersei found a joyous delight in making that twisted meat lump wail like a piggy. Until Rhaegar caught her in the act. “Don’t touch him !”, her twin growled threateningly, hurrying to the dwarf’s side and scoping him up like a little treasure. The way he looked at her was as if he was looking at a wicked monster and not his twin. For a moment, Cersei had thought he might struck her. Rhaegar hadn’t, for all the gentle boy could manage to show his anger was a look of disdain.
She almost tasted despair the day Lord Tywin announced Rhaegar’s betrothal. With the king’s princess, no doubt. As Lord Tywin always said, only a princess was worthy of his heir. Am I not worthy of Rhaegar, father ? I, the child of your own seed ? For once, Cersei wanted to shout in an unladylike manner but as usual, she managed to keep her calm façade. Rhaegar accepted the deal stoically.
The night before his wedding, she came to her twin’s chamber, clad in her thinnest silk. There she found him, playing his precious silver harp. As his mind drifted to the music, the melancholy was written all over his handsome countenance. Do you regret this marriage as well, brother ?
She closed the door behind her, the sound waking him from his trance, and Rhaegar looked at her coolly. Whether he noticed her meager cover, he did not show.
“It’s quite late already. Shouldn’t you be in your chamber ?”
She did not hear him, she determined not to. Cersei silent strut her gown and stood in front of him naked like her nameday, their nameday.
She dashed forward, all her actions in one mere second and she held him, pressing her naked wonder against his clothed form, hoping for a reaction of his flesh beneath.
“Isn’t it great, Rhaegar ? We should have done it long ago. We’re meant to be together, like when we were in our mother’s womb.” In a hushed tone she said, her hands fumbling at the laces of his breeches.
His fingers, firm and lean, her fantasy to be caressed the way he touched the strings, caught hers at once. In a moment Cersei thought she had met the look of disdain in his eyes that day. Quickly, his eyes shifted back to their familiar, quiet grief.
Her heart sank nonetheless.
“Please go back, Cersei and let us pretend this incident never happened.”
“I don’t want to go back ! I don’t want you to marry that princess ! I want you !” She wailed, pathetically.
Rhaegar had no response. His fingers peeled hers off, one by one before he put his cloak around her shoulders.
“It was a mistake, Cersei.” He said and left the chamber.
His or hers ?
Cersei stood pondering for what seemed like hours before silently crept back to her own chamber, tears flowing like summer rain.
No servants saw her and their lord father never knew. Whether Rhaegar had really forgotten or he was too good a pretender Cersei could not tell. The next day her twin’s wedding went at supposed. Beside Rhaegar who was melancholic by default and Lord Tywin who never smiled, Cersei was perhaps the only one who did not feel the joys.
If gazes could kill then Rhaegar would have to take a corpse to his bed that night.
That his son, his heir had stolen the Stark girl and run away was a grievous blow to Lord Tywin’s dignity and pride. Soon the Starks would march to the court and demand their she-wolf’s return. To what rights do the wolves demand the lions ? She overheard her lord father and her lord uncle. Lord Tywin Lannister had never been more furious before.
Cersei wondered if it was Rhaegar or the Starks that infuriated him so.
Foolish Rhaegar. Selfish Rhaegar. Had it not been for his folly, the Lannisters would not have to endure such shame. Had he never enrolled on the tourney at Harrenhal. Had he never met that Lyanna of Stark. Had he never fallen in love with the wolf-bitch but with her instead. Yes, had he loved her, yearned for her the way she did him, none of these would have happened. However she wanted to hate her foolish brother, to loathe him like she did the Imp, Cersei could not bring herself to. But there had to be someone, something for her to direct her wrath. And it would be the Starks and Lyanna, Cersei decided.
War broke out. Rhaegar fought. And Rhaegar died. His death bought not doom upon himself but the lost of the Lannisters. The proud lord Tywin Lannister had to suffered defeat and shame beyond his tolerance. In the end, he grudgingly bended the knee to the winner and offered his only daughter to the new crown. A mare to be ridden whenever he pleases, Cersei seethed.
A Lannister always pays his debts. Though not a man, Cersei Lannister knew her debts she would definitely pay one day. There would come a time when she would crush those who had shamed her family : Baratheons and Starks. And then they would learn the lions feasted on them all, wolves and stags alike.
What Rhaegar had failed she would accomplish. What Rhaegar had wronged she would make amends. If Rhaegar was the lion which had tore the pack, she would be the lioness to keep her family together.
Because Rhaegar was the lion that had lost his way and Cersei was the lioness that knew the game.
Note: Somewhat a parallel to the sixth chapter: Of Wolf and Man.