He had been having a good dream when she woke him. He couldn't quite remember it with her cold hand pressed hard against his mouth, just a swirl of muted colors and warmth and, somewhere distant, a voice saying his name all quiet and sweet. And it was fading away completely even now, and she was still standing there expectantly with her stubborn jaw stuck out and a look in her eyes that told him she was not jesting, not even a little.
What was she thinking anyway, trying to drag him into this? Hadn't she already done enough? And didn't she know he was furious with her? Yet there she was, brazen as could be, dragging him out of bed, asking him to steal a sword, asking him to run away, asking him for everything he had and still more that he didn't.
He had a good place here – he was safe as anyone was in the bloody decay of war, with a good warm bed and the best food he'd ever had and girls who smiled when he passed and for the first time in his life potential. More than once Lucan had told him that he was good, that he had the makings to be much more than good if he kept at his craft. Gendry knew it too, and it wasn't arrogance, just truth.
But now Lucan was dead, and wasn't that her fault too? If she hadn't – but it was no good, because there were a score of "if she hadn'ts" he could add to that list, and all of them ended up with him dead, dead at the holdfast, dead in the forest, dead in the storehouse if she hadn't been there, pushing him, tenacious and too smart for her own good.
"You won't forget the swords?" she whispered again, insistent, and pushed up on her toes to make sure he heard her. Something in her voice caught deep in his chest and he clenched his jaw hard.
His dream, his swords, his life – it was all hers anyway. He would do as she asked and damn the cost, this time and every time. She knew it and he knew it. He had no choice. Maybe he was just as stupid as she told him he was, at least where she was concerned.
After what seemed like forever, he shook his head and swallowed hard.
"No," he said at last, "I guess I won't."