Tyrion's plot to break Jaime out of Riverrun is successful. When Jaime returns to Kings Landing it is without having sworn an oath to Catelyn Stark to return her daughters to her. I will be warping the timeline of things quite a bit from the book/show. When Jaime arrives, it is just after the Battle of Blackwater & Sansa is still engaged to Joffrey. WARNING: There will be major spoilers for the book/upcoming seasons of the show, so don't read if you don't want to know!
"The heart lies and the head plays tricks on us, but the eyes see true." – A Game of Thrones
As the Red Keep came into view, Jaime felt a surge of relief. He was mere minutes away from reuniting with his family – with his beloved Cersei. Jaime nervously looked down at the stump at the end of his right arm. He wondered how his twin was going to react to seeing him so far from perfect. When he'd left Kings Landing nearly a year ago, Jaime had been the best sword in the seven kingdoms, and as handsome as Cersei was beautiful. Now, he was returning as a broken man – both literally and figuratively.
When Jaime left Harrenhal, Lord Bolton had seen fit to outfit him as a knight, ignoring the missing hand that made such warlike garb a travesty. Jaime rode with a sword and dagger on his belt, shield and helm hung from his saddle, and chainmail under a dark brown surcoat. Despite his attire, Jaime had never felt less like a knight, nor less like a man, as he stared down at his stump.
Jaime had taken wounds before, but he had never known such pain as he had felt when the outlaws calling themselves the Bloody Mummers had chopped off his hand and seared the wound with a torch. The only thing that had gotten Jaime through the pain and humiliation inflicted on him by Vargo Hoat and the scum he traveled with was thinking about Cersei and Tyrion. Jaime had made up his mind to give up and die more than once, as the pain from his infected stump overtook him, but thoughts of his brother and sister had given him the will to live. He'd survived. And now that he was so near Cersei, all Jaime could think of was going to her, taking her in his arms and making love to her. It had been far too long since they had been together. Jaime desperately needed her to make him feel alive.
As Jaime rode through the city, he was struck by the poverty that surrounded him. He could not remember a time when conditions were so poor in Kings Landing. Certainly war brought poverty, but conditions the likes of these were unfathomable. He had heard that his father, Tywin Lannister, had arrived in the city only yesterday, helping the King's forces to defeat Stannis Baratheon and drive him from the city. Jaime expected his father would take over responsibility for ruling the realm, leaving Joffrey as king in name only. From the looks of it, that would be for the best. Joffrey was obviously unfit to rule.
When Jaime reached the gates of the Red Keep, it took some time to convince the Goldcloaks of the City Watch that he was, in fact, Jaime Lannister. I must look far worse than I realized. Once he gained admittance, he quickly abandoned his escort and, given the late hour, hurried toward Cersei's bedchamber. He longed to be reunited with his twin; the woman that he loved with his whole heart. Jaime was surprised to see that her door was unguarded, and thought that perhaps she wasn't abed yet. From outside the door he heard sounds, the origins of which were unmistakable. Jaime quietly cracked the door, hoping that some servants had stolen away to the Queen's bedchamber for a private interlude.
Jaime knew he would never be able to wipe the image of what he saw in that room from his mind. Cersei was naked, astride an equally naked coarse-looking man. The man's hands were resting on her thighs as Cersei rode him, hard and rough. She was moaning in pleasure and threw back her head, her golden hair cascading over her back. The man moved his hands to roughly squeeze her perfect breasts.
Jaime reached for his sword, overwhelmed with the desire to kill them both, and banged his stump against the grip. A wave of shame overcame him and Jaime's pride wouldn't allow him to enter the room – he wasn't ready for Cersei to see the useless creature he had become. He'd crossed a thousand leagues to return to her, losing the best part of himself along the way, suffering untold pain and indignities and here she was, fucking someone else. Jaime closed the door, leaving silently as Cersei's lover moved her onto her hands and knees and began fucking her from behind, the both of them grunting with each thrust.
Jaime had given up everything for Cersei. He had joined the Kingsguard for her. He had given up Casterly Rock for her. He had no paternal affection for his children because she insisted he remain distant. Now, Jaime had nothing. Not even Cersei. Jaime had thought the Bloody Mummers broke him, but he now knew that wasn't true. What they had done to him was nothing compared to the pain he felt now at Cersei's betrayal. Jaime turned on his heel to seek out the only person left in the world that he truly loved.
As Jaime walked toward the Tower of the Hand in search of Tyrion, he heard a slashing noise and a woman's muffled cries. He turned a corner and saw a naked young woman, leaning against a table with her hands braced on the edge as Ser Meryn Trant stood behind her, whipping her. Hard enough to break her skin, from the looks of the angry red lines on her back. Jaime saw Joffrey watching with a predatory smile and a gleam in his eye as Ser Boros Blount stood behind him, his eyes lecherously roaming over the young woman's body. Joffrey's expression was so like Cersei's that Jaime had an almost uncontrollable impulse to strike him down. He reminded himself Joffrey was now king and settled for stopping the beating.
"What is the meaning of this?"
The young woman turned her head toward him for a moment and Jaime realized that she was just a girl – she was Ned Stark's oldest daughter. When recognition dawned in her eyes, she quickly turned her face away from him, looking at the ground, and moving her hands to try to cover herself.
"Sansa," Joffrey's arrogant voice rang out. "I have told you that you are not to move. My uncle is Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. There's no need for modesty with my guards."
Jaime watched as she obeyed, moving her hands to her sides and shaking with a clear desire to shield her body from view. She was young – just a teenager – but she had a woman's curves and both Joffrey and his guards clearly enjoyed gazing at her nude form. It would be bad enough if Joffrey were abusing some common whore but to treat a highborn lady this way was unacceptable. Jaime immediately removed his black wool cloak and wrapped it around her. The Stark girl wouldn't meet his gaze and he could plainly see the shame and humiliation on her face. Tears began to silently flow down her cheeks as her little fists held the cloak tightly closed around her body.
"What is going on here?" Jaime repeated. He turned to Joffrey. "Why are you having Lady Sansa beaten? Exposing her body? She is to be your queen."
Joffrey looked past Jaime at the Stark girl, his gaze filled with cruelty. "She's a Stark. They've all proven to be traitors. And she will be punished for their treachery."
Jaime raised an eyebrow at Joffrey's explanation. "I believe she's been punished enough."
"Your hand," Ser Meryn said, noticing Jaime's stump.
"I fight with the left now. Makes for a better competition." Jaime turned back to Sansa, and approached her gently. He hadn't paid much attention before to the girl whom Joffrey was to marry. Now, as he looked at her, he could see that she was quite beautiful, though her eyes were overflowing with tears and she still wouldn't look Jaime in the eye. "My lady, may I escort you to your chambers?"
Sansa glanced at him briefly with watery blue eyes and nodded. When she turned her head, Jaime saw blood running from her lip and a bruise forming on her cheek. Jaime felt his phantom hand twitch with a desire to hit someone. Joffrey looked as if he wanted to argue with Jaime about taking Sansa away and interrupting his fun, but Jaime's hard expression stopped him. Sansa hesitantly took Jaime's offered arm and allowed him to walk her to her bedchamber. They didn't say a word to one another as he walked her down the hallway and she continued to avoid his gaze. Jaime didn't know what to say to her; didn't know what words he could offer that would comfort her.
Jaime opened the door to her bedchamber and escorted her inside, walking her to a chair. He looked at the tears in her eyes and couldn't stop himself from kneeling down in front of her and gently wiping them away. Then he reached for a handkerchief and cleaned off the blood running down her chin. He knew what it was like to be a captive, surrounded by nothing but cruelty. To long for a moment of comfort and a gentle touch. He didn't expect Sansa Stark wanted comfort from the Kingslayer of all people, but he offered it anyway. Looking at this broken girl in front of him, Jaime realized that Joffrey – his son – was a monster. He was no different that the Mad King – savaging an innocent for his perverse amusement.
Jaime didn't notice her touch at first, because of the deadened nerves, but Sansa was lightly holding his injured arm. "Did my brother do this to you?" she asked in a shaky whisper.
Jaime watched her fingers softly stroke his forearm. His first instinct was to pull away the horrible stump, not wanting anyone to see it, but her gentle touch stopped him. He'd faced nothing but brutality for months and months – and he longed for comfort. And after all she'd been through, it was Sansa Stark, a near stranger, a girl who his family had tortured, who first touched him gently. "No, your brother didn't do this. It was…a difficult journey here."
"Did my brother free you?" she asked quietly, removing her hands from his arm. Absurdly, Jaime wished she would resume her soothing touches.
"No. Tyrion arranged for my escape."
"Oh," she said quietly. He could see disappointment in her expression. She must have been hoping that her brother had released him in exchange for her freedom. There's likely to be no freedom for you anytime soon, little one.
He reached for the edge of the cloak, near her neck and began pulling it back to look at her injuries when she pushed his hand away. "Please don't."
"I'm not going to hurt you. I just want to see if you're injured."
Shook her head. "This wasn't that bad compared to the other times."
The other times? Jaime hadn't looked closely at her body in the hallway, but he could see old bruises on her exposed arms. "I'd feel better if you'd let me -" he stopped, her shame at him seeing her so vulnerable and degraded apparent. "My lady, you have nothing to be ashamed of," he said softly, hesitantly resting his hand on her wrist. "You needn't be embarrassed of me seeing your body. You don't have anything I've not seen before," he said teasingly.
"Please don't …" she repeated, holding the cloak tighter around her, fresh tears forming in her eyes. She was shaking and Jaime noted that she still had not met his eyes once. She probably thinks I will harm her, just as Joffrey did. That I want to get another look at her teats or that I'll grope her naked body.
"I'll leave you, then. Perhaps your maid will tend your injuries," he offered quietly.
Sansa nodded, still holding his cloak tight around her body, practically curled up in a ball. "Thank you for helping me, Ser Jaime," she said in a small voice as he rose to leave her chamber.
He smiled at her use of "Ser", and something made him take her hand and bring it to his mouth. "I'm at your service, my lady."
She finally looked up and met his eyes, a hint of a smile on her lips. Jaime had never seen eyes so big and so blue. And he had never seen a creature so vulnerable. Jaime found it difficult to leave her, his desire to protect this girl overwhelming him. Jaime had a mad impulse to station himself at her door and go no further. He forced himself to release her hand and walk away from her, closing the door to her chamber. Once the door closed, he heard her begin to cry and considered going back inside but did not. He left in search of Tyrion, resolving to see to it that Sansa Stark was never beaten again.