"You're here to answer for your brother's latest treasons!" Joffrey looked down his crossbow at the her as she knelt at the foot of the throne.
She should have known as soon as she had walked into the throne room that something was amiss. One of Joffrey's knights had come to fetch her, coldly telling her she was needed. When she had been escorted into the room, she had been surprised that it was so empty. Just a handful of noblemen and women had been scattered throughout the large hall and Joffrey had sat alone on the throne-his precious dog his ever shadow at his side. There had been no Tyrion or Cersei. No one that could temper the king's fury. No one that could help her.
She forced herself to stay calm as she pleaded for mercy.
"Your Grace" she cried, "Whatever my traitor brother has done, I had no part. You know that! I beg you, PLEASE-"
He was uninterested in her begging though as he cut her off. "Sir Lancel, tell her of this outrage." His tone seemed almost bored as the crossbow drooped slightly. Sansa released a breath as the arrow's projection strayed from her chest. Lancel Lannister's voice snapped her back to attention though as it rang out behind her.
"Using some vile sorcery, your brother fell on Stafford Lannister with an army of wolves," Sansa turned her face to survey the false knight and the blood drained from her face at his words. "Thousands of good men were butchered. After the slaughter, the northmen feasted on the flesh of the slain." Had the situation been any less precarious for her, Sansa would have laughed at the court's reactions to such nonsense. The ladies all gasped and covered their mouths with their hands and the men grumbled in outcry. Lancel looked like a preening peacock, proud to throw Sansa to the lions. His claims were obviously exaggerated, but no one seemed willing to say so.
She let her head drop in despair as she turned back to the king. Through her tears, she saw that the crossbow was back in place, pointed toward her heart. His words confirmed her fate.
"Killing you would send a message..." Unbidden, fresh tears poured from her eyes and her throat seized. But then, as if by miracle, the crossbow dropped again.
Joffrey sighed irritably "But my mother INSISTS on keeping you alive." Although Joffrey looked like his favorite toy was taken from him, Sansa couldn't help the hope that leapt in her heart at his words.
Thank the Gods for Cersei Lannister.
"Stand." Sansa made sure to rise gracefully, despite her tear covered face. What a mess she had been, in front of all these courtiers- no less. She smoothed her skirts and looked back up to her betrothed, hoping for forgiveness.
Joffrey was quick to take that hope away. "So...We'll have to send your brother a message some other way. Meryn!" Sansa's eyes widened in fear as her gaze darted to the armoured man on the side of the throne. His armour clanked noisily as he stomped towards her menacingly, ringing in her ears over the overwhelming pounding of her heart. She looked at the knight pleadingly, but was met with only a vicious smirk.
He had just reached her when Joffrey called out again. "Leave her face!" Whatever hope was left abandoned her. "I like her pretty."
Sir Meryn grabbed her shoulder, pulling her attention away from the boy she had been desperately in love with only months before. Her tear-filled eyes begged him for mercy, but a heartbeat later, his mailed fist had slammed into her stomach, knocking the wind from her. She staggered backward slightly, doubled over as pain radiated through her. In the back of her mind, she registered the squeal of court ladies moving out of her way. She knew none of them would stand up for her against this cruelty.
The noise of a sword being unsheathed put ice in her veins and as Meryn raised the steel, she prayed that her death would be swift. Instead, a biting snap of the broadside of the sword on the back of her thighs had her pitched forward onto her knees. She felt a small trickle of blood soak into her pale blue gown and she knew she would never be able to wear it again.
She chanced a look at Joffrey and saw a sadistic smile painted over his features. He rose and took a few steps toward her, sneering in her face. "Sir Meryn, My Lady is overdressed. Unburden her."
As Meryn circled her again, Sansa's head spun at Joffrey's words. He wouldn't...
But her thoughts were cut short by Sir Meryn's brutish hands sliding over the skin of her back and roughly gripping the blue silk. She allowed her head to fall back and she looked at the ceiling, tears running down her cheeks as she prayed to whatever gods would listen to help her. The light summery fabric gave way immediately and she felt cold wind on her exposed back. She clutched her arms to her chest, desperate to save any of her remaining dignity.
By now, everyone in the throne room had fallen utterly silent. She searched their faces for signs of sympathy and although some looked on fearfully, no one moved to stop the abuse. Her eyes met with Sandor Clegane and saw him look away angrily, leaving her to her misery.
"If we want Robb Stark to hear us, we're going to have to SPEAK LOUDER" Joffrey jeered, clearly loving this new game. He was almost prancing around on the top of the throne, giddy with his power. Sansa knew this would not stop until she was unmoving, bleeding out onto the floor. Her fears were confirmed when Meryn unsheathed and raised his sword again. She scrambled backwards now, forgetting all propriety, desperate to escape the sharp steel descending upon her. Just as the knight started to move his weapon closer, a voice rang out across the hall.
"What is the meaning of this!" The crowd parted and Sansa was able to glimpse her savior.
Tyrion Lannister may have been a misshapen dwarf but in that moment he stood heads above them all as he moved forward, glaring at his nephew, who looked terrified to be caught. As Tyrion got closer his murderous glare switched to Sir Meryn.
"What kind of knight beats a helpless girl" he ground out through clenched teeth before his eyes moved to her, wide and fearful, obviously trying to gauge how much damage had been done.
"The kind who serves his king, imp!" Meryn spat back.
"Careful now," drawled Tyrion's sellsword almost casually, circling around while eyeing Meryn. "Wouldn't want to get blood all over that pretty white cloak."
"Someone get the girl something to cover herself with" Tyrion declared as he passed her and moved towards the steps of the throne. Immediately Sandor moved towards her, ripping off his white cloak and draping it over her shoulders. The weight of it dropping onto her twinged the forming bruises, but Sansa reached her fingers to pull it around her tighter, savoring the shelter it gave. She listened with half an ear as Tyrion berated the king as no one else dared to. As Meryn was shot down for coming to Joffrey's rescue from the tounge lashing he was receiving, Sansa almost had to hide a smile.
Tyrion stepped back down to the main floor and Sansa's focus recentered on him. She eyed him warily as he came closer to her so slowly it was almost painful. He circled around her to her right, leaving a large space to give her comfort. He approached her as one would a wounded animal, though Sansa had to admit that she felt like a kicked pup at the moment. His hand gently rose and then turned upright to her. She looked at it, frozen, before her eyes shot to his. For a moment, she considered refusing his assistance. No matter what had just transpired, he was just another Lannister. Cersei herself would have probably stopped this beating, but she doubted the golden queen wouldn't love to see her on the floor.
She breathed heavily while she quickly weighed her options. In the end, she knew she had no choice. She doubted she would even be able to rise alone with the wounds on the back of her legs. She shakily reached out to his outstretched hand, feeling his warm fingers envelope hers. It was as if he passed along his energy with that touch as she felt emboldened. She rose gracefully, despite her injuries and went so far as to ignore Joffrey's movement. He had risen from his seat and stared at her, daring her to walk away from him. She met his eyes, her fingers still in Tyrion's hand, still under his protection, and purposefully turned away. She knew that she might pay for that disrespect later, but for the moment, she was safe.
She listened as Tyrion apologized to her on Joffrey's behalf and she felt her resolve sliding back into place. She had lost control earlier, and she couldn't afford to show any weakness here. However, as she turned to look at Tyrion, all she saw in his face was sincerity.
He took her hand once again. "Tell me the truth. Do you want an end to this engagement?"
Sansa could have laughed in his face, but instead just tilted her chin up and spoke her courtesies. "I am loyal to King Joffrey, my one true love." As she turned to run back to her rooms and draw a healing bath, his grip on her hand stopped her. She turned back, surprised, and met his gaze again. The energy that had passed between them before swam through her senses again as she allowed her shoulders to relax. He gazed up at her with such sympathy and concern that Sansa felt her walls crumbling. A single tear slid down her cheek and she barely whispered "I can't."
Tyrion seem moved by her plight as he just tightly nodded his head before releasing her hand.
A/N: Thinking about turning this into a longer story if the inspiration hits me, but for now it's just a one shot. Hope you all enjoy!