A Game of Thrones-Chapter 67
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A Clash of Kings
Sansa is in a depression after the execution of her father. Joffrey arrives to browbeat her into attending him in court. After court, Joffrey takes her to the ramparts to see the heads of her father and household. For a fleeting moment, Sansa has the opportunity to push Joffrey off the wall, but it disappears too soon.
Sansa stays in her room in Maegor’s Holdfast, sleeping, sobbing, and sleeping again. She does not eat the food the servants bring. When she dreams, she relives her father’s beheading. She remembers wanting to look away, but not being able to. She remembers that all the people were screaming and she remembers Joffrey smiling and feeling safe until he said those words.
Sansa believes she will be executed and the thought does not bother her; she knows songs will be sung about her. She even considers throwing herself from her window, but cannot summon the courage and runs back to her bed sobbing. She dreams of footsteps that belong to Ser Ilyn Payne coming for her with Ice. In the dreams, when Ser Ilyn is at her door she realizes she is naked, and covers herself and screams out that she will be good.
Finally, Joffrey arrives with the Hound and two others of the Kingsguard. Joffrey throws the curtains of the bed open and tells her that she will attend him in court that afternoon. Sansa begs him to leave her be, but Joffrey threatens to have his Hound force her. When she does not move, he orders the Hound to get her out of bed. She struggles as her blankets fall away to show that she only wears a thin bed gown. The Hound then tells her “Do as you are bid, child; dress.” He pushes her to the wardrobe almost gently.
She tells Joffrey that she did as she was asked and now only wants to go home. Joffrey tells her that he is still to marry her, so she will stay here. She responds that she does not want to marry him because he killed her father despite promising mercy. Joffrey insists he was merciful: he gave her father a clean death. Sansa now truly sees Joffrey for the first time, and cannot believe she ever found him handsome. Sansa whispers that she hates him. Joffrey tells her that his mother has said he should not strike his wife, so he orders Ser Meryn Trant to strike her with the back of his gloved fist. Sansa sprawls to the floor, her ear bloody. She agrees to attend court and everyone but the Hound leaves. The Hound tells her that she should save herself some pain and give Joffrey what he wants: she is to smile, smell sweet, and be his lady love.
Two maids creep timidly into the chamber. Sansa instructs them to prepare a bath and to get powder to hide the bruise on her face. She is amazed at how dirty her bathwater becomes, not having washed since her father’s execution. She chooses the green silk gown she wore at the Tourney of the Hand when Joffery was sweet to her—maybe he will remember and be gentle.
Ser Meryn escorts her to the throne room. From her observation of Ser Meryn, Sansa realizes that he feels nothing towards her; she is only an object. Sansa tells Ser Meryn that he is no true knight, which she thinks the Hound would find amusing, but she gets no reaction.
She is alone on the balcony as Joffrey dispenses what he considers justice. Mostly he lets his small council make the decisions, but when he intervenes he will not be dissuaded. She sees the ugly face of Janos Slynt at the council table and remembers how he threw down her father for Ser Ilyn to behead. She also notices how he nods approvingly at each of Joffrey’s brutal judgements. She wishes some hero would cut off his head but knows there are no heroes, remembering Petyr Baelish telling her that life is not a song. Sansa thinks “In life, the monsters win.” The last case is a singer accused of singing a song ridiculing King Robert Baratheon. He is made to sing the song before the court and Sansa thinks it is funny; in some verses it seems like he is singing about the queen. Joffrey gives the man the option of keeping his fingers or his tongue.
When the court is dismissed, Sansa flees the balcony only to be met by Joffrey, Ser Meryn, and the Hound. Joffrey examines her and tells her she looks much better. Sansa thanks him with hollow words. Joffrey then tells her to walk with him—the touch of his hand now makes her skin crawl. He asks her what she will get him for his coming name day, but Sansa admits that she was unaware it was near. Joffrey tells her that she is truly a stupid girl, and that his mother has said so and is worried their children will be stupid as well. Despite her expectations, the words still hurt Sansa and she realizes that the Hound was right: she is “only a little bird, repeating the words they taught her.” Joffrey then tells her that he will get her with child as soon as possible, and if the child is stupid, she will lose her head and he will find a smarter wife. He asks when she can have children and she tells him, not being able to look at him, that Septa Mordane told her twelve or thirteen.
Sansa now realizes they are going up onto the battlements and begs not to go there. Joffrey insists that he wants to show her how traitors are punished. He also threatens to have Ser Meryn drag her if she refuses. The Hound encourages her to go and Sansa realizes that one way or the other she must go up, so she goes willingly. It seems like she climbs a thousand steps to the top. Sansa looks out across the city to the countryside beyond and lets her imagination cross the hundreds of leagues north to her home in Winterfell. Joffrey demands to know what she is looking at and instructs her to look at the heads of her father, her septa, and a dozen more. Her father’s head does not look recognizable or even real. Sansa decides that they can make her look, but they cannot make her see. Joffrey is disappointed by Sansa’s hollow and stoic reaction.
Sansa cannot understand why they would kill Septa Mordane, but Joffrey insists she was a traitor as well. He asks again what Sansa will give him for his name day as a preamble to declaring that instead he will bring Sansa the head of her traitor brother Robb. Joffrey explains that Robb used treachery and deceit to defeat his Uncle Jaime. Sansa suggests that Robb may give her Joffrey’s head. This mistake results in two harder blows by Ser Meryn. Joffrey commands her to clean off the blood.
For a fleeting moment, Sansa realizes that it would only take a shove to send Joffrey over the parapet to splatter far below. Just as suddenly, the moment is gone when the Hound comes between her and Joffrey to dab the blood from her broken lip with surprising gentleness. She thanks the Hound; she is a good girl and remembers her courtesies.