The Ghost In Winterfell

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The saddest line I’ve ever encountered in any book, or: Why show watchers need to read the damn books.

“Rhaenys was a child too. Prince Rhaegar’s daughter. A precious little thing, younger than your girls. She had a small black kitten she called Balerion did you know? I always wondered what happened to him. Rhaenys liked to pretend he was the true Balerion, the black dread of old, but I imagine the Lannisters taught her the difference between a kitten and a dragon quick enough the day they broke down her door.”

-Varys to Eddard Stark, A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

This is sad enough on it’s own, it really is, but it requires context in order to really appreciate it.  The first thing you need to know is that little Balerion is still living in the castle.  That last black cat that Arya can’t catch, the mean, scarred little animal that attacks servants and interrupts Robert and Tywin at dinner, making off with the roast, is Balerion, Rhaenys’ kitten.  So just take a moment to imagine that little kitten, bruised and bleeding, latched onto the boot of Ser Amory Lorch, trying to bite through the leather, trying to save his little girl, staring up at her as she’s stabbed over fifty times.  Imagine him being kicked away as they wrap her body up in a Lannister cloak and take it away.  Imagine the kitten following them, limping, to the throne room, where the skull of the great dragon Balerion hangs.  The bodies of his little girl, and her mother, and her baby brother, are all placed at the feet of the man who sits where the little girl’s father used to sit.  And the kitten looks up, and sees the dragon’s headed mounted over the throne, and he knows how small and weak he is.  If I were a dragon, he thinks, I could have saved her.    And so, over the years, he becomes the hardest mother fucker in the entire castle.  He does what he can to hurt these new men who murdered his little girl and stole her home.  He’d kill them all if he was able.  But he’s still too much kitten, not enough dragon.


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