By Eliana Dockterman
August 14, 2017

Warning: This post contains spoilers for season seven of Game of Thrones.

Cersei Lannister announced that she is pregnant with her brother Jaime’s baby on Sunday night’s episode on Game of Thrones. The news was met with a collective “ew” by the internet, and many fans theorized that the queen may be lying. But if Cersei is indeed pregnant, then the baby might fulfill a long-held fan theory about her eventual demise.

First, let’s dive into the argument against a real pregnancy. The story is now moving at a fast pace, and we simply don’t have nine months for this storyline to play out. And while we don’t know Cersei’s exact age on the show, at least one character has suggested she’s too old to conceive. Way back in season three, Olenna Tyrell expressed her doubts about Cersei’s ability to produce an heir when Tywin proposed a marriage between Cersei and Loras. “Her change will be upon her before long,” Olenna pointed out.

Cersei has good reason to lie about being pregnant. Perhaps she feels that her brother-lover is straying from her: The deaths of three children and an ongoing war with a dragon queen would strain any relationship. Jaime also just betrayed her trust by meeting with their estranged younger brother Tyrion in secret. Faking a pregnancy would force Jaime to recommit to her.

A key moment in a scene from “Eastwatch” suggests that Cersei’s news is, indeed, a setup. Jaime walks in while Cersei is consulting with Qyburn. “I could give you something,” he says, presumably suggesting the Westerosi version of the morning after pill. She declines. This seems like too-perfect timing, almost as if Cersei orchestrated the conversation for Jaime to see. Maybe she is trying to win Jaime over by pretending to reject Qyburn’s offer in favor of announcing to the world that she and Jaime are in love and pregnant.

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Now for the argument that Cersei is pregnant, a plot twist that might make for a better story. Women faking pregnancies to entrap or trick men is a lazy trope. And a pregnancy ruse can only last so long. And the writers could get around the logistical issue of a nine-month pregnancy if Cersei has a miscarriage.

Some fans have even argued that Cersei is pregnant in the books. George R.R. Martin writes from Cersei’s perspective in A Feast for Crows, “Her wretched washerwomen had shrunk several of her old gowns so they no longer fit.” Perhaps the dresses seem smaller because of a swollen belly.

If Cersei is pregnant, then perhaps the pregnancy will play a role in fulfilling the popular prophecy of the valonqar.

In one of the show’s few flashbacks, a witch tells a young Cersei about her future. Maggy the Frog says that Cersei will marry the king, not the prince; that another younger, more beautiful queen will take all that is dear to Cersei; and that Cersei will bear three children, all of whom will die — “gold will be their crowns, gold their shrouds.”

The creators of the show left an important part of the prophecy out of the scene, presumably so as not to spoil Cersei’s death. In the books, Maggy concludes: “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.”

Valonqar means “little brother” in High Valyrian, and in the books Cersei assumes it’s Tyrion who will kill her (hence her intense hatred of him). But many fans have theorized that it is in fact Jaime, born seconds after Cersei, that will kill his twin.

Throughout the show, Cersei has consistently misinterpreted the prophecy and in trying to escape her fate has accidentally fulfilled it.

She assumed that she would marry the prince, Rhaegar Targaryen, but instead married King Robert Baratheon. She thought that Margaery was the young, beautiful queen who would usurp her and concentrated on eliminating her while ignoring the true threat, Daenerys.

All three of her children did, indeed, die — in part due to Cersei’s own actions. Her determination to make Joffrey strong turned him cruel and led Olenna to poison him in order to spare Margaery from a terrible marriage. Her determination to punish Tyrion led to the Mountain killing Oberyn Martell. In turn, Ellaria Sand exacted revenge on Cersei by killing Cersei’s daughter, Myrcella. And her determination to kill Margaery and the High Sparrow led Tommen to kill himself.

So if Cersei expects Tyrion to kill her, Jaime becomes the more likely candidate to commit regicide. (Regardless, she’s been wearing a lot of high collars this season to protect her neck.) If Cersei were to die during childbirth, her demise would technically be the fault of Jaime, who fathered her child. (It’s unclear how Jaime choking Cersei would come into play, but perhaps it’s one of Martin’s many mysterious metaphors.)

Alternatively, Jaime could strangle Cersei. Jaime has yet to turn against his sister. Blowing up the Sept, indirectly causing Tommen’s death, conspiring against Tyrion — not one of these misdeeds has convinced Jaime that Cersei must be killed. But Cersei’s love for her children is the only thing that humanizes her. If the queen loses the baby — and remember the prophecy says she’ll only have three children — she could become so unhinged that she commits the sort of act that would compel Jaime to add Queenslayer to his resume.

Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com.

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