“Yes, well, they’re not lax anymore,” Melisandre returned in a clipped tone. The presumably intentional slight in Jaime’s referring to Stannis by his first name only set her teeth on edge, but she said nothing to address it. She only turned on her heel with a cool “Right this way,” and led the Lannister to her office. His compliance did not reassure her in the slightest. A lion could never be tamed, after all. He only obeyed when it suited him.
Melisandre shut her office door after him, not tight or locked, but enough to keep what was said inside. She did not sit, but lingered by her chair. She didn’t want him in her office, but better there than within reach of prying eyes and wagging tongues. It was strange—she still didn’t quite feel like No. 10 was home, but Jaime looked like it suited him. He always seemed at home at an initial glance, though, or at least comfortable. The sort of ease you could afford when you believed you had the upper hand in any situation, and with Jaime’s tall, blonde frame and characteristic smirk, Melisandre guessed he believed he did.
His eyes skimming her office reminded her of the way his sister—his twin—had glanced around her flat, detached and unimpressed. Melisandre wondered what had made them that way, if it was wealth, power, or the sort of insular worldview that came with both. Cersei had come to her to hear her speak, to size her up for the war she claimed to be starting, the war that Melisandre knew had no beginning or end. What was this, then? What did Jaime want?
Are you here on your own, or at your sister’s command? Is this the first volley in her ‘war’?
As Jaime began to speak of economic struggles, Melisandre’s brow furrowed even as one corner of her mouth curved into a wry, incredulous smile. “Your finances? Permit me, Mr. Lannister, but isn’t there a saying about Lannisters and gold? The times must be very difficult indeed if you can feel any sort of sting of poverty.” It was one of the most ridiculous notions she’d ever heard. The Lannisters had endless resources, and there was nothing to suggest otherwise. Certainly nothing in Cersei’s demeanor when they’d met not long ago and nothing in the papers.
There was apology in Jaime’s eyes, but Melisandre did not trust it. In response she let her expression shift to one of puzzlement and vague, distant concern. “I am sorry that you feel you’re in financial trouble, though I’m not certain quite what you’re seeking from us.” She tilted her head. “What did you wish to tell my prime minister?”
He returned her disbelieving look with an easy smirk. “I beg your pardon, but there’s also a saying about my father and his shit, and I’ve yet to see a drop of gold in it.” It was not exactly professional of him to say such things, but he found he couldn’t care less. People seemed to think that with the Lannister name came an endless amount of spending money, and while Jaime lived more comfortabley than most, it simply wasn’t true. They were rich, but they weren’t fools. Not so tight-fisted as the Freys, but Tywin had ensured that they knew the luxury of wealth without wasting it.
“As for the business concerning your Prime Minister,” yours, not ours, never ours, “I’m not hear to take anything from you, simply withdraw what is ours.” He clasped his hands in front of him, the smirk itching at the corners of his mouth to break free but he kept it down. “As I’m sure you’re aware, my father’s company payed much more than it’s due tax during the late Robert Baratheon’s reign, and we did not withdraw it even after my sister’s seperation from him.” He held up a single finger, as much of a defensive gesture as it was a signal for Melisandre to remain silent. “And no, we are not going back on the promise we made to the Labour party.”
His tone turned grave as he allowed himself to step further into the room, returning his hands to his sides as he met her gaze. He was not sure what he saw there, whether it was hatred, betrayal, or simple amusement as he knew she was far too smart to believe the lies he was telling her - still, it was nice to keep up courtesy. “We simply need to remove a small percentage from the fund, until the company can get back on its feet. I mean no offence to Stannis, but martial law is not appealing to foreign investors, preffering now to keep their assets closer to home. Lannister LTD’s board simply feels that we should do the same.” He bowed his head, a rueful smile on his lips as he waited for whatever backlash he might get from the woman standing in front of him. “I assure you, you are not the only ones we will be disappointing.” Jaime could not help but feel a little smug at the lie. If it were anyone other than Melisandre before him, they might just have been fooled.