Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the beloved's bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.
I. braavos – the city of secrets
It's really just a glimpse of a person she got to see: a man with dark features and a hooked nose, which normally wouldn't even draw the slightest attention of a noble lady or a nonchalant peasant.
But she was no one, and knew that behind every facade and name, there is also history.
Arya Stark, they say, wore at least half a dozen names already; then carelessly threw all of them away. Arya Stark was also the youngest daughter of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Tully, a wild little thing who never wanted to be a lady or marry a high lord and have an utterly oblivious and devastatingly boring life. She has the wolf's blood, laughed Lord Stark, before a Queen and its son claimed his head and Arya Stark fled to Winterfell, but died on the way.
She would be seven-and-ten now, add a month or two.
Her heart was beating wildly while the walls of the sanctuary -the ancient walls of the House of the Black and White- screamed their never-ending echo which crawled its way into her head; always screaming the same sentence (youareno one,no one,no one).
And when the man (the alchemist and the assassin; but no one, truly) finally took the time tolook up, Arya from House Stark took the time to breath again.
Their meeting was unevitable, of course.
However hard she tried to sneak away, she could not (would not) hide, especially not from him.
Ironically, she bumped into him in a dark back alley; which not only smelled foully, but his face was the epitome of indifference, which made everything ten time worse.
(He owed her thrice, she remembered. I am an bitter cold Stark, she remembered.)
His eyes laughed soundlessly though, as he measured her up and down.
"You were not here when I arrived."
The accusation fell from her lips as a matter-of-fact-statement, not sounding hurt or bothered at all; but he knew better.
"One might train at the House of Black and White. But the Lady of the House Stark has not changed at all" he bowed mockingly, and stepped closer. Perfume, soap and the bitter fragrance of blood hit her nose, awakening memories that made her both dizzy and sick. His voice was the same too, just as she remembered: too deep, too low and almost outrageously polite.
However, if one thing the House of Black and White, and the journey to reach it taught her, was control: over her emotions and expressions; her voice and thinking; her head and her heart.
She defiantly raised her chin up; her voice crystal clear as she replied.
"You might be a member of the Faceless Man, an alchemist with the power to call death" Arya lowered her voice." But for me, you are Jaqen H'ghar, criminal from Lorath; a soldier from Harrenhal; still feared by all."
He changed then: face and nose smooth and straight; locks of brown to rich-red and silver-white; eyes and smile darker.
For all the seven hells and gods above, he was still devilishly handsome, and she was still looking like a canal rat with her horse-face and mouse hair.
"A girl fears me then, too?" his voice was curious, but too smug for her taste.
"Not a girl anymore, and no."
She had no time to move; he already had her pressed to the dirty, sharp stones of the alley. He was all slim and sinew and muscle, but Arya was sure he kept a dagger or knife of some sort with him somewhere.
"A girl is trying to fool a man, but he knows better." She could feel the heat radiating and his pulse beating rapidly, but his face was as apathetic as ever.
"And what does the servant of the Red God know, tell me?" she whispered back.
He stared at her; looked into her eyes and bent down to reach her ears. He was very tall, compared to her "all limbs, no curves" body.
"Still very sad, but very lovely: seeing and bearing too much at once. A friend could help, no?"
And then she realized.
It was always him, even from the very beginning.
While others looked right through her and saw nothing but a pitiful, helpless child; Jaqen, with his ever-knowing face, looked at, onto, within her and understood. He saw her as she really was, raw and bare, and did not let her drown into grief but lifted her to become an expert of death.
Arya was not really aware what happened next. Jaqen touched her hair lightly, his fingers grazing skin ever-so slightly; and kissed her brows.
As a child, it did not matter.
As a flowering maiden, it made every difference.
II. winterfell – the home of wolves; broken but never dead
"Valar morghulis, Arya Stark."
The greeting was serene and just a bit threatening, but she did not feel intimidated.
I'm home at last, and I have the wolf's blood. It protects me from dismay and harm.
"And all men must serve, Jaqen" she tried so hard to sound neutral, but the biting rage slipped into the answer. It felt good, though. Made her feel alive and northern again."They need me here, and you know this just as much as I do."
"Winters come and go, evil child. But men always wither and always decay."
His voice was both silk and steel.
It made Arya want to weep, but instead she turned to face him.
He stood idly next to a scattered cart and some ravaged banner material, and looked completely out of the picture. She wondered whether he is cold or uncomfortable; whether he feels anthing at all.
"I must help my sister and my brothers before I face Him of Many Faces." she was sure he could hear the sarcasm in her voice.
"The delicate child has already made a vow to Him in Braavos." he warned eerily.
Her blood turned even colder.
"Are you here to kill me?" she asked softly, suddenly quiet.
Jaqen smiled disarmingly, before launching towards her.
Their fight was an abrupt one.
Arya could not tell whether he kissed her or she kissed him; in the end, it had no importance. They landed in the snow, limbs tangled and voices muffled by heavy and hard kisses. His mouth tasted of million spices and southern wine, while hers must have tasted like frozen tears and cold winds. It was a glorious thing, melting in his embrace and trust him with her body and soul, until...
"A man might see you again, wild Arya" he kissed her nose almost affectionately.
Later in the evening, as Sansa and her husband; Bran and Rickon arrived, she found an extremely similar coin in her dress, waiting to be used as an entrance.
It was an open invitation to come and find him.
It was also a love letter.