(there is no looking back, only forward)
Ailith is the daughter of Gerion and Edlyn Lannister, both of them youngest children and her mother from a cadet branch of House Lannister at that. Not much is expected from her, which is just as well–Ailith isn’t sure what she’ll do with the reputation attached to her name much less if she had actual prestige.
As it is, it’s likely that she will be married off in whatever political maneuvers Lord Tywin is up to–given that, with her father dead, he is in charge of her future. Either that, or married to a cousin to keep the Lannister genes strong: probably Lancel, the prospect of which she is not at all keen.
Sometimes she thinks about maybe becoming a septa or a silent sister–denouncing the Lannister name in exchange for a lifetime of servitude to a religion she doesn’t believe in. It is protection in its own way, to become anonymous by shedding her nobility.
But she is a Lioness of Casterly Rock, despite herself. And besides, Lord Tywin would never let her do such a thing.
All Lannisters share a look–blonde hair and green eyes and a ferocity that is usually beautiful–but Ailith doesn’t realize how closely she shares her looks with a different Lannister long passed.
She is eight, not yet a woman grown or even on the cusp of it, but already she hears whispers of the name. Joanna Lannister, Ailith’s mother’s eldest sister, and lady love of Lord Tywin.
It is hard to stay invisible when one is a living ghost. Unfortunately, it is not the correct ghost.
Ailith is eight when Lord Tywin takes her as his page.
Given what she knows of the Lannisters’ proclivities, Ailith had feared the worst. But Tywin, while being fond of her in a dour sort of way, does not actually view her as Joanna come again.
She learns much by being his shadow, under his guidance, how to rule the richest region of Westeros and how to get men to cower from quietly stated words and how fear is better than love but respect greater than both.
Something within her tells her she will not be able to turn back should she accept these lessons, but she would never have been able to escape the circumstances of her birth.
Ailith meets the royal family during their first visit to the Rock. She is not impressed.
“Why teach her?” Joffrey asks, more cruelty than curiosity, “She’ll never inherit anything. Who would put her in charge of their land?”
The question is aimed toward his grandfather, but Ailith chooses to respond instead.
“I may one day be married to a lord as stupid as you and his subjects will be glad to have me,” she snipes with a smile as pleasant as the cliffs of the Rock. Tywin does not agree but he also does not reprimand her, which is agreement enough.
Of course, then Joffrey goes whining to his mother, at which point Ailith has to stand and look contrite, but there is protection in being Tywin’s page. She may be a lesser lioness, but for now she is under the protection of the lion.
She is, apparently, a topic of much conflict for Tyrion. Which is just as well, because he is the same for her.
She’s quite sure he will be the only Lannister to survive the upcoming turmoil–even if badly wounded and poorly treated–and she had been fond of him. Perhaps the same way he had been fond of her father, but mostly the way one is fond of a fictional character.
No matter. To him, she is the girl who looks like his dead mother, the girl who his father clearly wishes was his third child instead of Tyrion, tall and beautiful and smart–the perfect combination of Tywin’s actual children. The girl who is being groomed to possibly steal his rightful inheritance.
It is for this jumble of reasons that Ailith asks, just the once, if he would like to marry her.
He says no, and she is grateful.
There is no way Ailith will ever actually inherit Casterly Rock–not with Tyrion as Tywin’s rightful heir, and Kevan and his children in front of her anyway. But she knows Tywin must be teaching her for a reason. She does not think he’d waste his time if it were only to marry her off to Lancel.
Ailith has been Tywin’s page–his protege–for five years when finally he reveals his intentions.
On his desk is a giant map of Westeros, each region marked with the symbol of the liege lord. Except for Dorne, who would never accept a Lannister bride, anyway, the rest of the regions have unwed men or unbetrothed heirs ripe for the taking.
To his real daughter, to Cersei, Tywin chained her to a poor husband and worse king in exchange for a crown that she failed to use to bring the Seven Kingdoms to heel.
To Ailith he gives the opportunity to do just that.
A/N: I’m a little… mreh about this one: I didn’t quite get the succumbing to being part of the “evil side” that I wanted, but it was surprisingly easy to write?