A girl is no longer no one. A girl is the girl, a very specific girl. Arya Stark is no longer no one. She is someone.
On the way to the Eyrie, she sees her reflection, briefly, in the still water of a creek in daylight. She is Arya Stark again. Arya Stark looks like her, now, not as she once looked before the blades and the faces. There is no Arry, no Weasel, Nan, Salty, Cat, just Arya.
It was so long ago. So many went to the Many-Faced God since the last time Arya Stark was allowed to be Arya Stark. She doesn't remember how it is to be her, not truly, or doesn't want to remember.
But there's a new list, now. One for lives instead of deaths. There's one name she speaks first.
Nymeria laps at the creek, breaking the image.
She goes to the Eyrie.
Sansa is proud of her name, her House, her holding. She may have had everything taken from her, but she is a Stark of Winterfell. She is of the north. All of that defines her completely. A marriage to Lannister, to Hardyng, it changes nothing.
In daylight, she's proud. At night, when she's left alone with her thoughts, no pretenses, she knows Petyr has poisoned it. Petyr made her life about her mother and his memories of her, twisting everything, playing games with lives to win the life he'd wanted as a trickster building himself up with the remains of those he'd destroyed.
He's poisoned her name, her family. If it wasn't for her hair, red, like her mother's, for her name and status as the last living Stark, he would have said nothing of her, thought nothing. It is who she is, but without it, she might have been free to marry a southron lordling, have his children, and go about her life. She might have been free, or free enough. She might have had some say in how it would all happen.
What would it be like to be free?
Freedom might have been something else, before. Now, freedom is this. Freedom is Petyr Baelish's blood on her hands, on her dress, freedom is this. Freedom is gutting him like her uncle Brandon once did, but finishing the job.
Freedom is watching Petyr Baelish die.
He looked at her with pride, admiration, with love, lust, all of his usual nightmarish delighted looks, as she killed him. She can't even win when she kills him. He couldn't apologize or agonize. This is what he wanted. This is what he's forced her to.
She feels a numbness and a faint tingling through her body, in her hands, as she stands above him. Time has stopped, has skipped, has pooled around her feet like the river where Joffrey had cut the butcher's boy, with the same bright then dark red of blood she'd seen that day. It must have only been a minute, but her heartbeat plays out so many beats it could have been hours. The blood is still warm on her hands and wet on her dress. Only a minute.
She slowly sinks to the floor, watching the blood gather in the cracks of the floor, and feels it pool at her knees. The gown is ruined. The dagger lays beside him. Beside his body.
With some detached relief, she finally notes that Petyr is gone, truly gone. He's a body now, and bodies can't speak words that ruin families and destroy countries.
To do what?
She realizes, then, becomes fully aware that someone is watching her. She closes her eyes. This is where it ends, where she returns to King's Landing, and Queen Cersei has her killed or worse.
It was worth it.
"Sansa," Arya says, "it's me."
Sansa stays perfectly still as Arya stands perfectly calm. There's silence for a long moment, where Sansa clenches her hands and looks down to see the blood drying there, then Arya speaks again. "It's Arya."
"It can't be," Sansa says. Her voice is cloaked, shadowed by misery, haunted. She is as much Sansa Stark as this girl is Arya Stark. "You were dead."
"It turns out I'm not easy to kill," Arya says lightly, and crouches on the other side of the body. Sansa barely looks up at her, past her, and freezes at what she sees behind Arya. "Nymeria. To me."
Sansa stares at her in wonder. Arya pushes her braid to her other shoulder and tilts her head at her sister. The blood stains her boots, and his entrails peek from the wound. Nymeria leans to lap at the blood but Arya raises a hand to stop her, and she draws back just slightly. She looks at Sansa. "You aren't easy to kill either."
Sansa looks as though she might be sick. Arya holds her gaze, steady, certain. She wonders if she looks like Arya Stark to Sansa Stark, who knew Arya's face better than she herself did, and has fresher memories of that, untainted by blood. There's a flicker of recognition in her sister's eyes, finally, an expression Arya knows well. It's one that usually passes after a blade or poison sends a man or a woman to the Many-Faced God.
I know you. I see you.
This time there's a different sort of satisfaction. She is someone. Someone with a face of her own, one that is unmistakable to someone, whose face is important for another to see.
It was something that Arya once took for granted, and she never will again.
"I didn't mean to," Sansa says suddenly, daring to look down at Petyr Baelish's body.
"You did," Arya answers. "You did your duty, for family, to bring justice." She hasn't tasted justice, not truly, but if anyone deserves that sort of justice it's Sansa. "You saved yourself. No prince, no knight. You."
Nymeria crosses past the body, and Sansa looks the direwolf in the face, still wild-eyed. She nudges her nuzzle against Sansa's shoulder, a reassurance. Sansa looks as though she might cry. Arya takes Sansa's hand. "You smell like blood," she notes, with a nod to Nymeria, and Sansa looks down at herself. "You should change."
"I..." Sansa takes a breath; it stops in her throat, then she tries to pull another in, and begins to panic, hiccuping and desperate to breathe.
She's starting to smell the blood, the death, Arya knows, and leans a hand on the ground to reach across and slap Sansa across the face. Stunned, she presses a hand to her face, and Arya smiles like a knife.
"You should change into a new dress," Arya repeats. "And dress warmly. We're going north."