Greetings, peeps! It's me again, your friendly neighborhood Spyder. Love me or hate me, you know you can't resist the pull of the tastiest gossip that only I can give you!
I hope you've all had a fantastic summer, but now that it's coming to an end it's time to get ready for another year at Kings Landing Prep! Start of term is only a few days away!
I have big news for you – I have it on good authority that Sansa and Arya Stark have enrolled at Kings Landing! Yes, those Starks! All of you trust fund babies would know that the Starks are one of the oldest and wealthiest families in the country. They're set to become even wealthier now that Stark Industries are rumored to be merging with Baratheon Incorporated. Respective CEO's Eddard 'Ned' Stark and Robert Baratheon are supposedly old friends that go waaaay back!
I wonder if our very own unofficial Prince of the playground, Joffrey Baratheon, will be personally welcoming the Stark princesses on their first day?
My sources tell me that the Stark girls were previously attending The Mordane School For Girls, and neither have ever been to a co-ed school - girls, let me just put this out there...BOYS, BOYS, BOYS! This whole school is full of them! Let the fun begin!
That's all for now boys and girls...and remember, my eyes and ears are everywhere!
"I hate it here," Arya said. "I want to go back to Winterfell Manor."
Sansa turned from her mirror in the new bedroom she now occupied at their new house 'Chateau Meagor', and gave her sister an exasperated sigh.
"Just give this place a chance, Arya, we've only been here three days."
"Still, I hate it already." Arya flopped down on Sansa's bed. "We don't know anyone here, and Robb, Theon and Jon are at college up North so we'll hardly get to see them."
"Bran's excited about going to his new middle school." Sansa pointed out, "Even Rickon's happy about going to a new school."
"Yeah, but Bran thinks this whole thing is an adventure and Rickon's too young to know any better."
Sansa wasn't in the mood to listen to her younger sister's whining, especially when she'd been looking forward to moving ever since she'd overheard her parents talking one summer night some weeks ago. She was going to ask her mother for money to buy a new handbag, but something in the tone of her parents' voices made her hesitate outside her father's study.
"Jon Arryn's just died, surely this can't be such a surprise to you?" Catelyn had asked Ned.
"His death means that the deal with Vale Corporations has all but fallen through, but Robert still needs a strong financial backer." Ned replied. "You're right, I should have expected this."
"You've already decided, haven't you?"
"You don't sound all that convinced."
"I can't find any arguments against it," There was a rustling, and then the muffled sound of footfalls on carpet. Sansa pictured her father pacing the floor. "I've looked at this from every angle, Cat. Financially, the investment would be sound and I'm predicting impressive returns."
"Couldn't Robert have partnered up with the Lannisters? After all, Cersei's family are hardly paupers."
"No, no. Robert was adamant he didn't want any more Lannisters involved if he could help it. Apparently he's got Lannister nieces and nephews interning all over the place, and his debt to Tywin is in excess of a quarter of a billion dollars."
"So much?" Catelyn gasped.
"That's what's reported in the financials Baelish provided me." Ned muttered, "What I don't know is how much he isn't reporting."
"But you're still going to go through with this?"
There was a small pause. "Yes."
Sansa heard her mother sigh in a way that meant Catelyn had reservations, but wasn't going to argue with her husband's decision.
"It'll mean we'll have to move South, Ned."
"Yes, we'll have to."
"...the girls will have to be taken out of Mordane's and enrolled at King's Landing Prep in time for the new school year. Arya will be starting high school and neither of them have ever been to a co-ed school...Oh no!"
"What?" Ned responded to the alarm in her voice.
"Jesus!" Ned exclaimed. "Cat, have you had that talk with her yet?"
Sansa had been forced to cover her mouth so that they wouldn't hear her gasp. She'd run back to her room, new handbag forgotten, and grinned stupidly at her reflection.
She was doing the same thing now, grinning stupidly at the idea of going to a school that had real live boys in it! She was almost fifteen, and she knew that she was ready to start dating, but Mordane's lack of boys kind of made that difficult to do. There were the occasional mixers with the all-boys schools in the North, but they were few and strictly supervised.
Her mother also tended to be quite over-protective, and as a result they'd had a very sheltered up-bringing.
She was so ready for Kings Landing Prep!
"What are you grinning about?" Arya demanded. "You look like a demented, cross-eyed hyena."
"Shut, up." Sansa snapped, "I'm just excited about going to school with boys."
Arya snorted loudly. "You've been reading too much Seventeen and Teen Vogue."
"You read them too," Sansa pointed out, "When you think I'm not looking, I know you peak at them."
Arya blushed, even as she denied it. "I do not! Shut the fuck up, Sansa!" And she got up off the bed and stormed out.
"And you'd better start getting ready!" Sansa called out after her, "The party starts at six!"
Sansa turned back to her mirror and picked up her GHD hair iron and began working the appliance over her auburn waves, trying to tame the fiery mass into a sleek and obedient curtain. She flicked her eyes towards the dress hanging on her closet door and sighed happily.
The Baratheon's were throwing a party for their official welcome in the South, and it was being held at The Red Keep, as the Baratheon mansion was called. It would be Sansa's first grown-up party, and she couldn't wait.
She would finally be meeting Joffrey Baratheon, Robert's eldest son. He was a year older and would be a junior at KL Prep. The pictures she'd seen of him had her veritably swooning. He was gorgeous, tall with wavy golden blonde hair and a golden tan to match.
As she dressed, she tried to keep in check the butterflies that had suddenly appeared in her tummy, but nothing was going to wipe the smile off her face.
When her hair had finally been tamed and was swinging straight and shiny down her back, she slipped into the light blue, floor length silk halter-neck style dress and fastened the buttons behind her neck. Her mother had had it custom made for her by an exclusive couturier, so the dress clung to her in the right places yet remained modest around the neckline and exposed back. Her mother had been unmoving on those instructions, regardless that Sansa had tried to bring the neckline down another inch.
She kept her make-up minimal, but made sure her eyelashes were curled and plumped up with mascara so that her blue eyes stood out. At her ears she wore pearl studs, and a gold Y-drop chain that ended in a pearl that nestled at the top of the valley between her breasts. That was calculated, she'd read somewhere that it would draw attention to her assets.
Sansa stared at the mounds on her chest in the mirror, and was pleased with what she saw. She'd grown a cup size over the summer, as well as about two inches in height. She was now five-eight, and the proud owner of C-cup breasts.
When she deemed herself ready, she wrapped a shawl about her shoulder and she went downstairs to wait for her family.
Arya came down not long after, and the first thing Sansa noticed was that Arya too had grown breasts, which were just noticeable in the black spaghetti strap mini dress she had on. She'd pulled her hair up into a high ponytail...and wore combat boots on her feet.
"Arya!" Sansa said in dismay.
"What?" She said defensively. "It's bad enough that I have to wear a dress, I'm not prancing around in fucking heels, too!"
"Arya, watch your mouth!" Catelyn Stark walked into the room with Bran and Rickon close behind her. "All four of you, I want you all to be on your best behaviour...especially you, Arya."
Sansa hid a smirk.
Arya fought the urge to backhand her sister as they rode in the limo towards The Red Keep. Father and mother were quietly discussing business, while Bran was engrossed in his Ninetendo DS and Rickon was occupied by the cartoon playing on the screen above him.
Beside her, Sansa kept sighing and grinning like the demented cross-eyed hyena she'd called her earlier. It was so damned annoying.
She just wanted to be back at Winterfell Manor, where she'd be close to Robb and Jon. Especially Jon. He was her half-brother (father never talked about Jon's mother), and also the only one of her siblings that understood her completely.
Jon played guitar, and he'd been teaching her to play some simple chords over the past few months. He'd been surprised by how quickly she'd learned, and had promised to keep giving her lessons. He'd just begun showing her how to play Neil Young's The Needle And The Damage Done, one of his favorite songs, when Arya had learned they would be moving.
Jon never finished showing her how to play the song.
She really missed her older brothers. She wouldn't have minded seeing her foster-brother Theon either, though they hadn't been especially close.
"Stop picking at your dress, Arya." Catelyn admonished her, before turning back to speak to her father.
Arya quit picking at the loose thread on the hem of her dress and observed her parents. Catelyn was wearing a dark blue strapless dress with an empire waist, and her auburn hair was swept up elegantly. She wore a diamond pendant at her neck, and diamonds at her ears. Eddard was wearing a dinner suit, and a grim expression on his face.
Arya surmised that her father did not want to be going to this fancy party either.
When they approached the gates of the Baratheon estates, Arya heard Sansa gasp when she first caught site of The Red Keep. The place was huge and imposing, and whoever had built it had designed it to impress.
The whole structure and accompanying buildings was made of some red-colored stone, with covered walkways connecting the buildings, dark glass and ornate iron-railed balconies.
The long cobblestone driveway was illuminated by old-fashioned lampposts, and curved in a wide semi-circle. It seemed to take ages to reach the front door, where a footman waited to open the limo doors.
Father got out first, who then helped mother, Sansa and Arya alight from the limo. Bran and Rickon minded their manners as they were led into the foyer where the Baratheons were waiting, having been informed of their arrival.
Mother and Father were greeted warmly, and there were hugs and air-kisses all around. There were quiet a lot of people in the room, most were adults.
Arya groaned inside her head. This party is so going to suck!
Robert Baratheon was a tall, fat man with a black beard and a loud laugh. His wife Cersei was an icy golden-blonde whose smile never quite reached her eyes. Behind her was a handsome golden-blonde man who was identified as Jaime Lannister, Cersei's twin brother.
Introductions were being made, and she noted with disgust that Sansa was batting her eyelashes at Joffrey Baratheon.
"This is Sansa, our oldest daughter."
There were murmurs around the room, as people all turned to look at Sansa.
Tall, beautiful, auburn-haired and Tully-blue eyed Sansa.
Sansa who could do no wrong.
Arya refused to allow herself to be envious of how gorgeous her sister looked in her blue silk dress. No one is ever going to call you pretty, or beautiful, so just build a bridge and get over it.
"...and this is our youngest daughter, Arya."
"My goodness!" Robert Baratheon exclaimed loudly, causing Arya to jump. "She's the spitting image of Lyanna!"
"Aunt Lyanna was pretty." She heard herself say before she could stop herself.
Robert laughed. "You're right, little girl. That indeed she was!"
Arya frowned, not pleased.
They were then introduced to Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen. Myrcella was the same age as Arya, and Tommen was the same age as Bran and would be going to the same school together.
Arya didn't like the look of Joffrey at all, and not because the older boy wasn't handsome – Joffrey was very goodlooking. Arya just had a feeling that the guy knew it as well, and she didn't like cockiness as a trait. There was also something mean about the expression in his eyes, and that set her on edge more than anything else.
Myrcella was shy and kept trying to hide her face in her golden curls, while Tommen was immediately distracted by the game Bran was playing on his Ninetendo DS. A nanny was produced from somewhere, and Bran, Rickon and Tommen were left in the woman's care for the evening.
"Joff," Cersei said to her son. "Sansa and Arya will be starting at King's Landing Prep when the term begins on Monday. I'm sure you'll be a gentleman and make them welcome, won't you?"
"Of course mother," He'd replied, and turned to eye Sansa.
Arya rolled her eyes.
They were led through the house, which was just as impressive on the inside as it was on the outside, and into the garden where a marquee had been erected. There were even more people out here, and she forced herself to keep smiling as more introductions were made.
Sansa seemed to take it all in her stride, her smile never faltering even as more eyes flocked to observe her.
"Joffrey, please introduce Sansa and Arya to your friends while we wait for the first course," Robert instructed him. "I must take Mr and Mrs Stark to meet some important people."
"Of course father." Joffrey turned to them as the adults walked away, "Ladies, please follow me."
Arya followed behind Sansa, Myrcella and Joffrey as he led them towards a rose covered gazebo at the other end of the garden.
"How are you liking it here in the South, so far?" Joffrey asked them. "I'll bet you're happy to be a lot warmer?"
"Oh, yes...the weather here is fantastic!" Sansa replied.
"I don't know how you stand the cold in the North." Joffrey continued.
They reached the gazebo, and Arya saw three people already there. Two teenage boys, and one very tall and broad man whose back was to them. She took a few steps closer, and she blinked when the tall man turned around.
Sansa gasped nearby, but quickly recovered.
The tall man was still a young man, but one side of his face – his left side – was terribly burned and disfigured. He looked down at them coldly, and something like a sneer curled his lip when he heard Sansa's gasp.
Joffrey stopped at the steps and introduced them.
"Sansa and Arya, I want you to meet Sandor Clegane, also known as The Hound, as well as Boros Blount and Meryn Trant. They're all on the football team, like me."
Arya said something appropriate in response, and Sansa engaged them in small talk like only she could. Pointless chatter was another thing Arya had no talent for.
Instead she found herself staring at the ugly burned brute, wondering how his face got so fucked up. He was ridiculously tall, about six-five, or six-six of solid muscle. He was probably a linebacker. She must have been watching him too long, as he looked up when he sensed her staring and glared at her just as he'd done to Sansa when she'd gasped.
You don't scare me, she thought as he scowled. He only broke the stare when Joff asked him a question.
"Hound, who are we playing for the first game?"
"Braavos Academy." He replied, his voice a deep rasp.
"You'll be coming to watch us," Joff stated to Sansa as though it was a given. "It's always nice to have a pretty girl cheering for me!"
Sansa's smile became saccharine at his words, and again Arya wanted to hit her.
"Coach Selmy's been making us do two-a-days over the summer to get us ready for the season..." Joff continued.
Myrcella made several attempts to speak to her, but she wasn't really in the mood for conversation and her responses were clipped. Myrcella soon gave up trying.
Arya half listened to the stupid babble between her sister, Joffrey and his friends – except the big ugly one, he didn't say much either.
"Sansa's a sophomore this year, and Arya's a freshmen," Joffrey said. "Trant and I are juniors, while Hound and Blount are seniors."
"I'm so glad we got to meet you all before we start at Kings Landing Prep," Sansa commented. "Starting at a new school can be quite scary."
"Don't worry, I'll look after you." Joffrey's eyes travelled down Sansa's body, and she remained oblivious to the intent behind his eyes.
She was all too happy when they were called for the start of the meal. She had to stop herself from bolting towards the marquee.
"The redhead's got a nice set of tits on her," Joff said as the girls walked ahead of them towards the marquee. "What do you think, dog? Do you think the carpet will match the drapes?"
"Don't care. Not into redheads." Sandor replied.
Although, he was definitely into tits and he was careful to keep his eyes lowered so no-one could see him checking out the girl's rack. Gotta be C cups, no bigger, he thought.
He also liked taller girls, and a pretty face was always a bonus. Sansa Stark was blessed with both height and looks, and he could appreciate that about the spoilt, little rich girl.
"You're going to ask her out, aren't you?" Trant asked Joff.
"Hell, yeah!" Joff grinned, "I can't have someone else getting a piece of that before me."
"Assuming she puts out, of course." Blount added.
"What do you mean by assuming?" Joff made a noise of disbelief, "She'll put out for me. They all do...in the end."
Sandor's fingers unconsciously tightened into a fist at Joff's words. He looked at the redhead again, and immediately knew that the girl wouldn't stand a chance against Joffrey's advances. The guy could be extremely…persuasive… when he had a mind to be.
He tugged at the collar of the black dress shirt he wore, inwardly cursing the fact he was wearing a tailored jacket and trousers when he would much rather be in jeans and a hoodie. The guys had tried to make him wear a dinner suit like they were wearing, but he'd threatened to separate their limbs from their bodies and they'd compromised and let him wear a plain black jacket with a black shirt and no tie.
He was so fucking uncomfortable, and couldn't wait for the night to be over.
Joff annoyed the shit out of him, most days, but the guy was the only one who seemed to want him around – he wouldn't call him a friend, he had no respect for him or trust in him – but there was a mutual understanding between them, he supposed.
Joff needed bigger, tougher thugs to do his dirty work. Robert Baratheon's son was too much of a wuss to get his own hands bloody, and as a result Sandor never lacked for human punching bags to take out his aggression on. Everyone already thought him a monster anyway, so who was he to disappoint them?
Sandor's father also happened to work for Joff's grandfather, Tywin Lannister at Casterly Rock Drilling & Excavation. Old man Clegane was always overseas working, and almost never called to check on him. His dad hired a housekeeper to come in and keep the house tidy and make sure there was a meal in the fridge. Emails were only ever sent if he needed something signed for school. He came home once a year, if at all. Sandor didn't care, so long as his dad continued to deposit money into his account every month so he could pay bills.
Other than that, the old man may as well be dead to him.
With his brother Gregor now in college and living in dorms, he had the house to himself, and that was how he preferred it.
Sandor, Trant and Blount were seated at a different table to the side of where the Baratheons and Starks were placed. However, Sandor found that he had a clear view of the redhead Stark girl from his seat and found himself watching her every so often as the meal progressed.
As he had done earlier when the younger Stark sister had been watching him, Sansa must have sensed his stares as she did occasionally glance at him, only to look away quickly. He didn't blame her, but it still rankled.
He was ugly as sin, and it grated him when girls couldn't look at him properly, let alone pretty girls like Sansa. The feeling quickly turned to anger, and the scowl returned to his face.
He also heard bits and pieces of the conversations she was having with the people around her, and he quickly concluded that the girl was utterly clueless.
Or she was damn good at pretending to be dumb. Joff was feeding her the stupidest lines, and the girl was falling for every one of them. He remembered hearing something about the Stark girls going to an all-girls school up North.
Makes fucking sense, it explains why she's so easy to fool. He shook his head at the train of his thought. Why do you fucking care? You don't even know this girl.
Suddenly not hungry, he got up from his seat and told Trant and Blount he was going to take a leak, but instead he went in search of a gullible waiter who he could trick into giving him alcohol.
It didn't take him long to find one, and soon he'd finished two glasses of red wine and was on this third when he spotted a flash of blue silk gliding past him where he stood in a darkened alcove, and into the house.
He waited just long enough to finish his drink, before he went into the house to investigate. He saw her down a dimly lit hallway, outside what he knew to be the downstairs powder room, but instead of coming back out the way she had come, she took a detour towards a flight of stairs at the end of the hall.
Where are you going?
Sandor quietly followed. He'd been a regular visitor of The Red Keep since being introduced to Joffrey three years before, and he knew the layout of the main house well enough to be able to navigate in the dark.
Reaching the landing at the second storey, he saw her entering a room he knew to be one of the many sitting rooms in the house. He followed her, and when he entered the room he found her facing a grim looking man in a dark suit.
"...sorry, I didn't mean to barge in." She was saying to the man in front of her, who didn't say a word.
Sandor quietly came up behind her, just as she began to back away from the grim unspeaking man. He placed his hands on her shoulders to stop her colliding into him, noting the warmth and smoothness of her skin under his palms, and silkiness of her fiery hair that caught in his fingers. She startled at his touch and turned around, out of his hands, eyes widening when she saw him.
"You're shaking," He rasped, "Do I scare you that much?"
She didn't answer him.
"Or is it him that scares you?" He gave a nod to the man in front of them. "He scares me too, sometimes!"
Sansa looked from him, to the grim man, then back to him, her expression uncertain.
"She's with me, Mr. Payne." Sandor finally said to the grim man.
The expression on the grim man's face became even more unfriendly, but he eventually moved to leave the room, without saying a word.
"Who was that?" Sansa asked, again turning to him but not looking at his face.
"That's Mr. Payne, he's part of Mr. Baratheon's security team."
"Why wouldn't he speak to me?"
"He doesn't have a tongue," He replied, "Lost it in some freak accident he was in years ago."
"Oh, that's horrible." Sansa shuddered quietly. "I thought no one was in here...Mr. Payne just came out of nowhere."
"What are you doing in here?" He asked.
She moved towards the open doorway that led to one of the The Red Keep's many iron-railed balconies and stepped out into the night air. Below them, the garden was buzzing with elegantly dressed people and the sound of violins from a quartet playing somewhere they couldn't see. There were lights strung up in some of the trees, and lanterns hanging from branches that lit up the place like some kind of magical fairy-land.
Further down, past the line of carefully manicured hedges and rosebushes, they could make out the ocean where moonlight glimmered over the water.
"I..I wanted to see what the view would be like from up here." She replied, and gave him a shaky smile.
His presence was unnerving her, that much he could definitely tell, and he didn't want to stay where he wasn't wanted.
"View's better from the next floor," He said gruffly.
"Clegane?" A loud voice called from behind him.
Sandor and Sansa both looked towards the sitting room entrance and found a tall, very handsome dark-haired young man standing in the doorway. "Who have you got there with you?"
"Sansa Stark," Sandor said, nodding towards her.
The young man strode over and claimed one of Sansa's hands between his own.
"Miss Stark, allow me to introduce myself. I'm Renly Baratheon, the much younger and undoubtedly better looking brother of your host this evening."Renly smiled at the girl, who smiled right back, her discomfort in Sandor's presence quickly displaced by the arrival of the other man.
"You're Robert Baratheon's brother?" Sansa wondered, and Sandor could see her trying to work out how old Renly was in her head, "But, why didn't we meet you earlier?"
"Because, I wasn't sure I was coming," Renly shrugged, "It's quite a drive from college, but now I'm glad I made the trip!"
Predictably, the girl blushed at the compliment.
Sandor cleared his throat, feeling like a third wheel, acutely aware of the difference between himself and the youngest Baratheon.
"I'll leave her with you, Baratheon. She was admiring the view from the balcony."
"Certainly," Renly didn't even look at him.
Without another word or glance, Sandor left the room and went hunting for the same stupid waiter and another glass of alcohol, wondering why the hell he'd followed her in the first place.
Gendry parked his new car in the student lot, switched off the engine and took a breath, readying himself. Then he grabbed his backpack and locked his car, before staring up at the impressive facade of Kings Landing Prep.
He wondered where he should go. It was first day of term, and his first day at a new school. He studied the kids walking past him, and the other cars being parked in the lot. Expensive cars, driven by rich kids in expensive designer clothes, he noted.
I shouldn't be here.
It was a thought that had crossed his mind several times over the last two months. The first time had been when his foster parents had received a notice from some lawyer, telling them to take Gendry to see them. So the Mott's had taken him to the city and Gendry had sat in a posh office as a stranger talked, and turned his fucking life upside down.
"You've been left quite a substantial sum of money, Mr. Waters." The lawyer had said. "I'm not at liberty to say who your benefactor is, but what I will say is that you're being handed a chance to start over, and to make something of yourself."
Gendry had stared at the skinny man, not really comprehending what he was being told.
"It also means the Mott's will benefit from your change of fortune." The lawyer had continued. "I understand you've been living with the Mott's for the last six years, and from what you've told me they've been exceptional foster parents."
It was true, they'd treated him well enough, but still they weren't his real family. Yet, of the many foster-families he'd been charged to, he guess he liked them the best.
"How will they benefit?" He'd asked.
"Your benefactor has left some pretty specific conditions, and unless followed, you won't be entitled to a single dollar. However, if you accept, the Mott's are also entitled to receive a separate sum of money so that they can continue being your foster parents until the time you are legally emancipated."
"How much are we talking about?"
"For the Motts?" The lawyer named a sum of money that made Gendry's mouth go dry. "As for your entitlement..."
Gendry's head had spun when he finally processed how many digits were in the number the lawyer told him.
"Name the conditions." He'd finally said.
He'd gritted his teeth as he was told, but it hadn't taken him long to agree to them. The Mott's had been good to him, and the money would allow them to pay off their debts, and put their two kids into good schools.
I shouldn't be here.
The second time he'd thought that was the day Mr. Mott had taken him to a car dealership to buy his first car, outright in cash. Most seventeen year olds he knew drove second-hand Hondas and Toyotas.
But, no. His first car was a brand new white BMW 120i Coupe.
He'd balked at the price, and the cost of insurance, but Mr. Mott had said it was okay. Gendry had money now, and if he was going to fit in then he'd need a car like this.
I really shouldn't be here.
Kings Landing Prep was one of the conditions the lawyer had mentioned. He was to get a good education, and go to college. Make something of himself.
Mr. Mott had also insisted he get a haircut, and Mrs. Mott had made him buy some new clothes before the term started. So now he stood, in brand new jeans and his black hair spiked with gel, wondering which way the administration office was.
Seeing as it was the first day, he figured he couldn't possibly be the only new kid in the school. He made his way up the stairs that led from the student lot, and followed two girls that had just entered through the front gate.
One was a tall, pretty redhead and the other was younger, pixie-like and diminutive, dark-haired and looked about thirteen. Both wore similarly lost expressions on their faces.
"...Do you even know where you're going?" The small one asked the tall one.
They were following a winding path that led up a hill towards what looked like the main building. King's Landing Prep had been founded some four hundred years before, with Gothic style architecture dominant in the high arches, gargoyles and flying buttresses. There were about a dozen buildings that Gendry could see, with interconnecting covered pathways.
To his right, past the student lot was the football field and bleachers. To his left were gardens, interspersed with benches and tables that were occupied by students.
One of them was occupied by a group of four boys, all of them wearing letterman jackets. White wool, with two bands of yellow-gold along the cuffs and hem. Three of them had their backs turned, and Gendry was able to read their names across their backs, written in yellow thread three inches high. BARATHEON, BLOUNT, and TRANT.
The tallest and biggest one – and Gendry did a double-take when he saw his face – spotted someone, and the other three turned around. The letters KLP were embroidered on the left breast of their jackets.
"Oh, look!" The tall redhead giggled. "There's Joffrey."
The cocky looking blonde with BARATHEON on his jacket raised his arm in a greeting.
Jocks. Why do they always get the pretty girls?
The hulking one with the mangled face turned his back, and across it was the name CLEGANE. He had straight black hair that he wore long to his shoulders, and swept over in an attempt to cover his scars and the apparent patch on the left side of his head where no hair grew.
"Motherfucker..." The little dark-haired girl whistled in front of him. "He's even uglier in daylight!"
"Arya!" The redhead exclaimed. "That's not polite."
"No, but its true! Sansa."
"Keep your voice down!" The redhead named Sansa shushed. "He might hear you."
Arya snorted, and Gendry bit down on his tongue to keep from smiling.
"I don't care if he hears," Arya said. "I know, I'll tell him to his face!"
"Don't you dare!"
Arya made as though to run towards the group, and Sansa began to threaten her in a panic.
"...I'll tell mother!"
"Go ahead. What's she going to do?"
"I'll tell father, too."
"He listens to mother, so what's he going to do?"
Gendry found himself calling out. "Excuse me."
Both girls turned around at the sound of his voice.
"Can we help you?" Arya looked up at him, and Gendry noted she had grey eyes, slightly too big for her face. Like a doe.
"Yeah," He caught up with them, and now both girls had to look up at him. "I was hoping you could tell me where the administration office is?"
"You're new?" Arya asked him.
"Yep, first day."
"Then we can go and find it together," Arya stepped to his side. "My sister here will be fine with Prince Joffrey."
"No way, Sansa. I'm not hanging around with that bunch of brainless jocks." Arya made to keep walking. "Enjoy your first day, and don't wait for me. I'll find my own way home this afternoon."
"Fine, suit yourself."
The redhead veered to the left and made her way towards the table where the jocks were waiting.
"Where is she going? Who's that with her..?" Gendry heard them ask, but he didn't hear her reply.
Amused and slightly bewildered, Gendry followed Arya up the path.
"I'm Arya, by the way. Arya Stark." She glanced up at him, pushing her hair away from her face.
"Gendry Waters." He replied, "Pleased to meet you."
"You too," Arya said, remembering her manners.
Where had he heard the name Stark before?
"What grade are you in?" She asked, "I'm a freshman."
"I'm a junior."
"Oh...do you know anyone else here?"
"No, I don't know anyone. Just you now, I guess."
"In that case, do you mind if I sit with you at lunch?" She mused.
"Not keen to sit with your...sister, did you say?" He struggled to see any familial resemblance between the taller redhead and the tiny girl beside him who couldn't have been more than five-two.
"She's not so bad. It's that Joffrey Baratheon that she's mooning over that I can't stand! I mean, she only just met him two days ago!"
"Shit." Gendry just made a realization.
"Not about your sister, I meant about something else." He'd stopped walking, and gazed down at his apparent new friend. "Stark and Baratheon."
"Yeah..?" Arya raised as skinny shoulder, "What?"
"Your father's Eddard Stark."
"I know that,"
"And that guy was Joffrey Baratheon...my foster-dad works for Baratheon Incorporated."
"I bet many of the parents of the kids who go here do. What about it?"
Gendry pulled himself together, knowing how stupid he must have sounded to Arya.
"Nothing, never mind." He finally said.
I definitely shouldn't be here.
What the hell was a kid from the wrong side of the tracks doing in this posh school, befriending the daughter of one of the richest men in the country?
Arya shrugged and mumbled something that sounded suspiciously like 'stupid' as they climbed the steps of the first building they reached, where she asked directions from the first person they came across. They finally made it to the administration desk, and each were given schedules and allocated a locker.
They helped each other find their respective lockers, before Arya made to go to her homeroom.
"Wait for me in the quad at lunch, okay?" She asked...or was that ordered? Gendry had a feeling she was telling him, not asking him.
He found that he didn't mind.
Gendry went to his homeroom, and there he met another new kid who introduced himself as Hot Pie. What his actual name was, Gendry couldn't even pronounce, let alone spell it. He had a class with Hot Pie, and one with Joffrey Baratheon, and after listening to the guy mouth-off at everyone and everything it was easy to see why Arya disliked him.
At lunch time, Arya was waiting for him in the quad with a freckled ginger-haired boy who introduced himself as Mycah Butcher. With Hot Pie joining them, the newly made foursome found an unoccupied table and shared their first meal together.