Chapter 19: Tyrion IX

He was only halfway up the steps of the Tower of the Hand when he heard his sister's voice echoing down the stone corridor. As slowly as he could justify, he took his time ascending the stairs. With a deep breath, he finally knocked on the door of his father's solar, previously his solar, and Ned Stark's before that. It never ends, does it? Tyrion asked himself, and the door opened, and he let himself in.

Cersei didn't notice him at first. "We should just get rid of the Martells, once and for all," she shrieked. "We've tolerated their hostility and arrogance for far too long. They never saw fit to join us in the war, and they can all die in this war they've started now. Them and the Arryns, that pompous bitch Lysa Tully."

"Oh, are we to destroy two more great houses of Westeros now?" his father asked sardonically, and Tyrion hid a smirk. He'd never tell his father as much, but he'd been thinking of the exact same quip. He poured himself a glass of wine.

"We'll burn every other house to the ground if need be until all our enemies are dealt with," Cersei said, turning to Jaime, who took her in his arms. He looked at his father; the man truly still didn't see the truth, right in front of him. Tyrion was almost jealous of that level of obliviousness.

"Cersei, we don't know for certain that it was the Martells," Tyrion said, trying his best to keep his voice level, free of blame for his sister, though she most certainly deserved every ounce of it for Oberyn Martell being in the dungeons at the moment. "You blamed him out of thin air at the wedding, and we're still recovering from the last war. We hardly want to start yet another, especially with them holding Myrcella," he reminded her.

"It was you, wasn't it?" Cersei said, her voice filled with fury and grief. "You hated him. You convinced Oberyn to do it, didn't you, you little monster!"

Cersei lunged at him, but Jaime held her back. Tyrion drained his wine and put the cup down, weighing his words carefully. "Once, I would have considered us better off without Joffrey, yes." We still are, but I'm hardly going to say that to her face at this precise moment. "But Cersei…" Tyrion thought of Sansa, carrying his child. "I could never take your son away from you, not now that I'm so close to meeting my own first born."

"He tried to have you killed," she spat at him. Tyrion looked at his father and brother, who looked at him in return.

"He did," Tyrion said. "He did, and I still wouldn't take him from you, Cersei."

Cersei scrambled, still trying to blame him for this in some way. "You promised me the debt would be repaid. That my joy would turn to ashes in my mouth."

Tyrion shook his head, seeing doubt in his father's face. He stepped closer to his sister and looked her square in the face. "Sansa wanted to blame me, too, after her brother and mother were killed. But Cersei, I will tell you what I told her: I am so sorry, truly sorry, for your loss. I didn't know, Cersei. I didn't do it. I swear to you, I didn't have any part in this." He hesitated, but then he reached out and took her hand. "Above all, he was my blood. I am no kinslayer, sister." She held her breath for a moment before taking her hand away and turning into Jaime again, sobbing into his shoulder. Tyrion looked back at his father, who nodded.

Tyrion let out a sigh, realizing just how closely he'd come to joining Oberyn in his cell. He poured himself another cup of wine and drained it before going to his father, who sat still as a statue in his seat. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"Find money for Tommen's coronation and another royal wedding," he stated dryly, and Tyrion fought the urge to snort in front of his sobbing sister. He knew his father had no love for Joffrey—who besides Cersei had?—but truth be told, his father looked almost bored by his grandson's death. Tyrion wondered for a moment if his father, cold and calculating, had decided Tommen would be an easier king for whom to serve as Hand, but he shook his head. His father was ruthless, but that was beyond even him. At least Tyrion hoped so.

"I take it Sansa's and my departure is postponed until further notice?" he asked.

His father looked at him. "If you wouldn't mind staying until after the trial. You were the one to greet Oberyn, and the judges will need to hear witnesses in his defense."

Tyrion's brow furrowed. "You don't expect Tommen to sit in judgment on this?"

"No. Tommen will recuse himself. I will sit in judgment, along with Mace Tyrell and Ser Addam Marbrand."

"Doesn't seem a very impartial jury," Tyrion commented lightly, staring intently into the bottom of his cup.

"I don't want a war with the Dornish, nor do the Tyrells. If he's guilty, we'll have justice for Joffrey, whatever it takes to defend the Lannister name and crown. If he's innocent, we'll avoid another costly war."

Tyrion tilted his head the side. If Oberyn was found guilty, he didn't think the Dornish would see it like that, but his father had more experience with them than he had. "And Myrcella?"

Tywin hesitated. "Another reason this jury will be impartial."

For one of a very few times in Tyrion's life, his father sounded uncertain, and it set a gnawing pit in the bottom of his stomach. Sweet, innocent Myrcella. She was caught up in all of this because of him. Because he'd sent her away. Just to find out that Pycelle was the spy on his small council. At the time it had seemed a good idea, but now… now his niece's life weighed on him.

Tyrion looked at his sister. "Even if the judges are impartial, do you think the witnesses will be?" He wouldn't put it past his sister to fix the trial exactly as she wanted it. She was in pain, yes, but that was when people could be at their most dangerous, and he was no fool as to underestimate her.

Tywin clearly understood Tyrion's question. "I'll keep a reign on Cersei."

Tyrion snorted, but regretted it when he caught his father's scrutiny. He tried skeptical remorse. "She's a mother who just lost her firstborn and wants blood. I don't know if there's a reign strong enough to hold her."

"Myrcella's safety could be enough." He watched his father's machinations playing out in his head, and Tyrion wondered if even his father could be brave enough to dangle Myrcella's safety over Cersei to keep this trial fair. He wasn't sure he would be.

"If you don't mind, I'd like to return to my wife," Tyrion said, not looking at his father. Tywin waved his hand in dismissal, and Tyrion left, nodding to Jaime on his way out.

When he returned to his chambers, he found his wife and squire in the corner, unaware of his return.

"You have to tell him," Podrick said, an urgent tone to his voice.

Sansa shook her head. "He just lost his nephew," she replied dubiously, and Podrick rolled his eyes.

"And you know that he's as devastated by that as you are. But your safety he really does care about—"

"What about your safety?" Tyrion said, injecting himself into the conversation and making his presence known.

"Tyrion!" Sansa said, spinning to him. She opened her mouth, then hesitated, looking at Podrick who just raised his eyebrows at her.

"Tyrion, I suppose there's something you should know." She walked toward him and gestured for them to sit in their chairs as Podrick busied himself in the opposite corner to give them privacy.

Tyrion sat, his eyes searching Sansa's face for any hurt or worry, but she didn't seem troubled.

"At the wedding, just as Joffrey was poisoned," she started. "Ser Dontos tried to take me."

"Take you?" Tyrion echoed, wanting clarification.

With a sigh, Sansa pushed up the sleeve of her robe to show him where bruises were blossoming, the clear marks of a man's firm grip on his wife's arm. Tyrion felt his blood start to boil.

"Why did you keep this from me?" he said, trying not to sound angry, but as it came out, he knew he failed.

Sansa shook her head. "With everything else going on, I didn't want to worry you."

"Sansa, you are my only worry. The rest of the world can hang for all I care."

Tyrion reached out and took her arm in his, gently turning her arm to see the bruises in their entirety. "Tell me everything that happened."

Sansa sighed, and then began. "As Joffrey collapsed, Dontos grabbed my arm and told me I had to go with him. I turned away from him, but he didn't let go. He told me that I would be blamed for the murder and would die for it unless I went with him. I tried to pull away from him, but he just gripped my arm tighter and started pulling me away from the wedding party. Then, Podrick came up behind me with his knife drawn out, and only then did Dontos let me go. I fell backward, and Podrick dropped his blade I think and caught me before I fully hit the ground. By the time I came back around, Dontos was gone, and Cersei was screaming. After all that, I just… I didn't want to worry you about him."

Tyrion took a deep breath. "Sansa, did you consider he might have conspired with the murderer? That whoever he was to take you to had or was the murderer?"

Sansa hesitated. "I thought about it afterward, but he just… I saved his life. During Joffrey's nameday celebration, I saved his life. I thought that was all there was to it. He came to me a while ago and—"

"He came to you a while ago and you said nothing?" He looked at her incredulously, and Sansa's cheeks reddened under his scrutiny.

"He offered to take me to friends, and I thought he was just being kind, that he didn't understand the way things were between you and I." Sansa shook her head. "When he tried to take me today, I thought that was all, but now I think you might be right." She paused. "I was going to tell you, but if he's gone already anyway, what was the point of worrying you about me as well?"

Tyrion looked away from her. He didn't want to be the kind of man to shout at his pregnant wife but gods he couldn't believe she wouldn't tell him something like this. That he'd missed something like this.

He looked at his squire in the corner. "Podrick," he called out, and the boy came to him. "Thank you. I promise you, I'll reward you for saving my wife, but for now, I need you to go to my father and relay all that Lady Sansa's said of her interactions with Ser Dontos. The man needs to be found as soon as possible. Also request that additional guards be set outside our chambers and Tommen's. If there's at least two people involved in this, we don't know how many more there may be and what more they want."

"Yes, my lord." Podrick left. Tyrion turned back to Sansa, who was sitting with her eyes downcast, one hand passing lightly over the bruises on her other arm.

"I know you're angry with me."

"I am," Tyrion said. No point in denying it.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you right away. Everything just happened so fast, I didn't know what to do, and you already looked so shaken up." Sansa looked at him, a frown on her lips. "I just want things to be simple, and I know they aren't."

Tyrion closed his eyes for a moment as he took a deep breath. "It's alright, Sansa. Just promise me you won't keep anything else from me. Not where your safety is concerned."

"I promise."

Tyrion rose from his chair and stood in front of Sansa, who leaned forward to rest her forehead on his chest. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and tangled his hands in her hair as her hands found their way to his hips. I could have lost her today, he thought, and he buried his face in her hair, the thought terrifying to him. But that would never come to pass. Not today, not ever.