8

Varys gave a long weary sigh, the sigh of a man who carried all the sadness of the world in a sack upon his shoulders. “The High Septon once told me that as we sin, so do we suffer. If that’s true, Lord Eddard, tell me… why is it always the innocents who suffer most, when you high lords play your game of thrones? Ponder it, if you would, while you wait upon the queen. And spare a thought for this as well: The next visitor who calls on you could bring you bread and cheese and the milk of the poppy for your pain… or he could bring you Sansa’s head. The choice, my dear lord Hand, is entirely yours.”

8

It came to her suddenly that she had stood in this very spot before, on the day Lord Eddard Stark had lost his head. That was not supposed to happen. Joff was supposed to spare his life and send him to the Wall. […] If Joff had only done as he was told, Winterfell would never have gone to war, and Father would have dealt with Robert’s brothers. 

Instead Joff had commanded that Stark’s head be struck off, and Lord Slynt and Ser Ilyn Payne had hastened to obey. It was just there, the queen recalled, gazing at the spot. Janos Slynt had lifted Ned Stark’s head by the hair as his life’s blood flowed down the steps, and after that there was no turning back. 

The memories seemed so distant. Joffrey was dead, and all Stark’s sons as well. Even her father had perished. And here she stood on the steps of the Great Sept again, only this time it was her the mob was staring at, not Eddard Stark.