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A Hundred Roads Lead to You

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Gangly little Arya

 

He first met her in Braavos, wandering around the marketplace without knowing even a speck of Braavosi, let alone any other bastard Valyrian dialect.

Short, boyish, all limbs and elbows with short hair reaching her neck and haunted grey eyes. Stained clothes and skin and hair. Smelling of salt like only a sailor would.

There was also the little tidbit that she was accompanied by two massive wolves.

The pure white one suddenly stopped and turned directly to him.

And then so did she.

 

Confused little Arya

 

Her eyes had lit up in recognition before dimming even more.

She ran to him, spoke to him, asked him who he was, why he looked like her Lord Father.

Emotions swirling in her eyes and the grey wolf’s fur spiking up.

Her dead Lord Father, whom she had seen as his head roll ed down the steps of the Sept of Baelor.

So after leading them to a more secluded street and she ordering her wolves to stand guard he introduced himself.

He told her he was Daemon Targaryen, exiled Targaryen prince along with his kin.

And her cousin, given he was half Stark himself.

 

Closed off little Arya

 

He offered her food and a place to stay.

She was blood and he had heard what had happened to her family in Westeros.

Her eyes were mistrusting and her posture gave away she didn’t believe he had her best interest at heart.

Looking ready to bolt at a moments notice.

He couldn’t blame her, not if any of the stories told about what happened to the other side of his family were completely true.

It changed when the white wolf came and sniffed him.

She stared as he raised his hand without fear to it, as he smiled when the wolf licked his fingers and buried its head into his hand.

She accepted then, reluctance still in her voice.

Though before anything she wanted Bread and Salt along with a promise to the Gods.

 

Curious little Arya

 

It took some time but she started talking to him.

Two weeks after he brought her in to his home in Braavos, two weeks since he gave her a place to stay and food without fail.

Then the questions started.

Simple ones at first:

How old was he?

Six and ten.

How did he have this as his home?

He bought it.

How come they had never heard of him?

It wouldn’t be a secret if it was widely known, no?

Why?

The Baratheon usurper made it clear what he would do with the remaining Targaryens, to all who would listen. Never mind a Targaryen born from the woman he declared to love.

Simple little questions that became more complex as the days went by:

How did he know she was a Stark and his kin?

They look similar do they not? And the wolves were a dead give away, specially since it was rumored that the Stark children had Direwolves.

Kinda hard to miss that.

Her lips twitched and he considered it a victory after grimaces, blank looks, silence and all around distrust.

What was he doing here?

Negotiating with the Braavosi.

Why?

To see if they’re willing to help them get home, for a price of course.

What were those bells hanging on that long cloth he had tied to his belt?

He explained to her that the Dothraki wore bells to commemorate a victory.

She interrupted his explanation; asking if he rode with the Horse Lords then.

He snorted at that. Gods no, they brought them to heel.

They? How?

He told her of Khal Drogo the so called Khal of Khals. How he wanted the last two Targaryen Princesses as his wives to commemorate his rising empire. How they had refused.

He hadn’t taken kindly to that, said – bragged rather – there was no stopping him, how he threatened the city magisters they were in and how they almost caved, the sniveling cravens.

So they had gotten their army, the one they had acquired bit by bit when they traversed Essos as sellswords with the exiled knights protecting them along the years.

He told her of how he rode with his elder sister and smashed the so called ‘Great Khalasar’ and had gotten the chance to personally slay the ‘Khal of Khals’ Drogo.

How they had then presented their braids and bells to them.

He raised the cloth and made the bells chime for emphasis.

Horse Lords are fierce, he explained as her eyes light up in curiosity, but they’re no more than mere savages.

So why was he here alone?

His sister and aunt were finishing up dealing the Ghiscari slavers and those sniveling cravens that tried to present them to the Dothraki to be mounted up as broodmares, regardless of their feelings on the matter.

He shook the bells again.

He can’t have all the fun now can he?

 

Skilled little Arya

 

She took to watching him with curious eyes as he trained everyday with his spear and swords, eyes alight in hidden curiosity and buried wonder, surfacing each day.

One day he asked her if she wanted to learn.

She nodded with some reluctance, so he decided to start out small; he pulled out one of his daggers and showed her some techniques before handing it to her.

She tried to copy them and with some corrections here and there she was doing so adequately, rather swiftly.

When he said as such to her she boasted, the first he had heard such a tone from her, that she had often practiced sword fighting with her brothers (the younger ones mostly) and was a better shot than them with the bow and arrow.

Her eyes started to dim then, the smile she had gained started to drop from her face.

So he grappled her face first into the ground with a simple maneuver; kicking her legs out from under her and giving her slightest push.

She spit the sand out of her mouth and turned grey eyes that were suddenly like steel onto him. The first she had flashed him such a gaze.

With a smile he cheerfully explained that he wasn’t her younger brother and that he had more training and actual experience than them so she was going to have to try vastly harder to rise up from that low bar.

Her eyes grew fiercer and a he knew he had lit a fire within her.

She trained everyday with him after that, getting better and better slowly and carefully. Steel shining in her hands and eyes with all that he showed her; longswords, shortswords, spears, javelins, tridents and bows and arrows.

So after a month he gave her a pair of daggers and a Braavosi styled sword for her very own use.

That was also the first time she had hugged him and genuinely smiled at him.

 

Agile little Arya

 

She dodged and weaved yet he always made her trip in the end.

With patience he lectured her about the importance of keeping the terrain around her in her mind.

So to practice he had taken her to the busiest market in Braavos at the busiest hour and told her to cross it as quickly as she could without getting in anyone’s way.

She had tried and failed.

With a huff she remarked that it didn’t make sense, that it was easier before and that everyone always called her ‘Arya Underfoot’ because she was always skulking beneath people.

So he gave her some tips, showed her an example by doing it himself and even faster than she was picking up moves with a dagger she managed it.

She dodged and weaved between people and stalls, easily and gracefully.

He gave her a little bronze bell as a reward.

That was the second time she hugged him and the first she wound her arms around his neck.

 

Swift little Arya

 

Her bells chimed and danced in the wind as she ran, easily keeping pace with him as he ran on the deserted streets of Braavos.

Through the ports, through drowned town, through the empty marketplaces and the not so empty ones.

They ran and lunged, dodging in between buildings and sometimes even jumping over the more narrower canals, rolling to a stop before climbing to their feet to sprint once more.

They scaled buildings until they were on the rooftops and then jumped from one closely built structure to another.

Again and again, round and round they went, feet moving swiftly and taking brief rests when they could until they made it to his house’s courtyard.

Her eyes shined brighter than they ever had before, life fully visible in them for the first time since he had met her.

Her breath came out in shallow but controlled pants, cheeks red as with an exhausted blush, sweat making her skin shine and her shoulder length hair stick to her body.

He gave her a little steel bell, congratulating her all the while with a smirk on his face.

 

Friendly little Arya

 

For all that she looked like she would run through anyone that so much as brushed against her funny his cousin was quite the outgoing person.

Sailors, merchants, tavern wenches, dock whores, courtesans.

Children, teens, elderly, adults.

Smallfolk, Freedmen, Nobles.

She talked with all of them and seemed to charm most of them and befriend a large part of them.

 

Pretty little Arya

 

He decided they should go out and have some fun for a change.

She answered that they already did that with a roll of her eyes.

He bonked her on the head with the sheathed sword in his hands as he dodged another lunge from her.

Told her he didn’t mean to train. No physical exertion. To just have some fun outside.

She wrinkled her nose but eventually she agreed all by herself, stating it might be fun and she was getting rather curious of the festivals here.

So he lead her to some of her rather expensive courtesan friends and told them he would need their help in getting Arya ready for the festival that night.

He easily ignored the look of exaggerated betrayal and despair she shot him as her giggling friends intertwined their arms with hers and lead her away down the canal in their barge.

When he returned just as night was starting to approach, decked out in his own ensemble, he knew that he had made the right decision as he stared at her.

The dress was the color of the sea, her hair largely loose to trail down her back except for some strands carefully arranged on the top of her head and held in place with netting that shimmered with a light silver color, almost white, making her eyes shine further. It hugged her slim figure that was filling out from her earlier starvation. Her friends had braided colored beads to the ends of her hair, crystals that shimmered as the light hit them.

Bluntly, she asked him why he had such a stupid look on his face.

Smiling he easily responded that it was because of her, that she looked even prettier than usual and it made him stop to stare.

She looked at him like he was simple, a disbelieving look on her face as her friends tittered behind her.

It was his turn to look at her like she had said something stupid, telling her that she was pretty as he presented his hand for her to take, starting a new round from her friends as they encouraged her to take his hand.

She still looked like she didn’t believe him, but she did take his hand after a promise to spend some time with her friends at the festival before they became occupied.

 

Happy little Arya

 

Despite her insistence that she didn’t dance, know any dance from Essos, was awkward and the like he still convinced her into the center of the square were all the people danced around each other.

They took some space for themselves and with patience he started to show her how to dance.

Slowly she started to recognize the pattern, the rhythm, the steps.

And then she danced with him.

Not expertly, it still showed that she was new to all this; the movements and the beat but she danced like a girl her age learning the steps would.

Stepping closer and then farther away, briefly pressing together before moving away and doing it all over again.

And when they twirled she laughed, the first laugh he had ever heard her utter.

Her friends came by to ask for a dance and so she went with them, twirling around with the courtesans, then some of their guards, her merchant friends and sailor friends.

When she came back he had found a table along with some food and drink. He pushed the various drinks toward her, told her to try a bit and choose her favorite, same with the food.

He joined her in eating and drinking once she had chosen her favorites and he had finished ordering those that she chose, trading stories and gossip as they ate.

 

Stubborn little Arya

 

He choose that time, the lull in the party to rest for a bit, to tell her about the letter he received.

It was time to go back towards the other side of the continent, his business was done here for now.

He could practically see the thoughts that he was abandoning her flow into her mind, so he grabbed her hand to make sure she stayed until he finished explaining himself. Even if she did put her hands on one of the dagger’s he gifted her like she was about to run it through his hand.

She could stay here, a place where she made many friends and knew the streets.

She could see about returning to Westeros alone, to right the wrongs, to take back her family’s land.

She could even come with him, though it wouldn’t be easy, this he made sure she understood.

She could even do something else he hadn’t thought about.

He made it clear that he would help her however he could.

He shifted his hand so that he was grabbing her like when he asked her to dance instead of the steely pressure to prevent her running away in imagined slight.

After minutes of just staring at each other, she asked him to dance.

The music had picked up during their staring contest, colorful and lively once again.

He was amused; hadn’t she danced enough?

Not with you she answered, chin jutting forward.

Resolutely, stubbornly.

He accepted with a laugh and together they danced again, longer than before and with mostly each other.

When the music slowed for couples he thought to made his way back, he knew she didn’t enjoy these types of songs, these dances that had people get close together to relax before the next lively dance.

Her hands didn’t let him though, neither did her eyes. Looking up at him as she tugged him back, making it obvious she wanted to stay even as he raised his eyebrow in confusion.

She brought him to her, arms wrapping around his back and fingers brushing his shoulders, her head laying on his chest sideways and her eyes still looking up at him from beneath her lashes, molten silver instead of steel.

So he danced with her, slow and airy, hands on her back and hip.

She whispered when they had their paces matched, to take her with him. She didn’t want to be alone again, without another wolf, another member of the pack.

She didn’t want to be a lone wolf anymore.

His hand moved from her back to the nape of her neck, finger brushing her hair as he smoothed soft circles into her skin.

He accepted her request.

 

Deadly little Arya

 

They traveled by land and sea.

Obviously along the way some people, factions, groups and what not would get the bright idea that they would be easy pickings.

Naturally he stuck them with the pointy ends of his blades.

And introduced them to the sharp edges.

Repeatedly.

So did the rest of his caravan.

And then there was Arya.

Swift little Arya, agile little Arya, fierce little Arya.

Deadly little Arya.

Baiting her opponents with her small size that just screamed easy pickings.

A calculated move here, a planned trip there and they all fell at her blade.

If not there was her huge direwolf, that was rather fond of crushing throats in its jaws.

Well, not like the white one that he had taking to calling Ghost was different, though he did attack more varied body parts.

Nymeria just seemed to like blood in its mouth.

He can’t wait to tell Rhaenys that name, she’ll absolutely love it.

Then they’ll both laugh about it.

He sighed as he cleaned the blood from his shortsword, he really did miss his favorite girls in the world.

Oh well, not long now.

 

Surprised little Arya

 

She was gawking at the pyramid. They all did for the first time.

When he pointed as much out to her he received a punch to his side with a huff and an order to shut up.

The uttered stupid was a charming afterthought.

He stared at her and she returned it fiercely but one of them needed to break and it wasn’t he that punched a man kitted in armor and that had been trained since he could hold a weapon in his hands ‘for the future’.

So he took his victory with all the grace a Targaryen prince possessed.

...And added a bit of fond teasing into his tone, as she shook her hand with a small grimace, with the most annoying smirk to those younger than him, for good measure.

He had, naturally, copied it from his darling elder sister, the absolute princess of such things.

He was also glad he and Daenerys practiced such things on each other when they were younger.

Just in case, they had said.

Speaking of, there they were, coming towards him despite protocol, and being the big bad dragon royals that they were.

And Arya was staring again as they approached, so he flicked her nose to get her gobsmacked attention off from his kin.

The smirk and parting line that she had been in contact too much with Baratheon half wits during her time in Kings Landing or Westeros in general was entirely for his own benefit though.

The swiftly retorted answer that the so called half wits were the reason they were hiding in this land far from home, fighting savages and the vermin that were slavers along with the other rift raft that were the egotistical sellsword captains, instead of fighting a true army filled with heroes and sitting on their dragon throne made him proud.

Straight for the jugular.

She really did have a bright future.

 

Beautiful little Arya

 

She often remarked that they were rather fetching in their own ways, an observation most of the time, a compliment when she thought it appropriate.

Arya didn’t give out compliments freely. Cutting remarks and a bit of dark humor? Sure.

Compliments? Those were harder to get from her tongue.

He still told her that she was pretty and becoming more so everyday.

Beautiful even.

Silly little girl still didn’t believe him.

Didn’t even believe his sister and aunt when they said it.

And she dared imply he was the stupid one?

Hmph.

Never mind when Rhae and Dany added their own opinions to the matter, agreeing with his cousin and throwing in their own thoughts of him to mix with hers.

He was outnumbered three to one by these women, it just wasn’t a fair fight.

Giggly (even Arya!), grinning, beautiful, elegant, deadly with words and swords.

They were lucky he favored them so.

Hence he decided to get that stupid idea out of Arya’s head.

So he recruited Rhaenys and Daenerys to help.

They did need to make a victory feast anyway.

And just because, they added Missa into the mix.

He’ll treasure the image of the two young girls giving them deadpan stares for the rest of his life and beyond as they explained that they would be their dress up dolls, in High Formal Speechcraft of course.

He gave his opinions and insight as they talked about dresses, makeup, trinkets, colors, metals and the like.

They also took turns at preventing Arya from slipping away. Missa being the good girl that she was had already accepted her fate from them and started to throw her own opinions on the matter.

When it was time to dress they kicked him out and set to donning.

He was rather proud of the creative ways he heard Arya cursing at them through the door. He really had taken his time to bring life back to the younger girl and break away that shell of misery, loneliness and despair.

He was even more amused, and proud but he was always proud of them, when Dany and Rhae quickly shut her up with their own carefully crafted curses and their sharp tongues.

Those two had Valyrian Steel for tongues.

The giggling that burst forth after a few seconds also warmed his heart.

He even thought the Unsullied guarding the door cracked honest grins at it. Well as much as they could or would.

When they emerged they were visions of beauties.

He said as such to them, meaning every word of it.

As a reward he received pecks from all of them.

Even Arya.

That was the first time he saw her blush.

It melted his heart every time from then on.

 

Bold little Arya

 

The feast was underway and he had posted more Unsullied so that the drunk nobles and those sellswords with their inflated egos wouldn’t get any ideas with the visions that were the girls.

Ghiscari that still thought too highly of themselves and sellswords that hadn’t even proven themselves and just created their companies.

Bah!

Still, he followed Arya as she tugged him away from the feast. Seems she had something important to tell him about.

Probably of their impending return to Westeros.

Instead they found themselves in her chambers.

Slowly she tugged him down by the collar of his clothes, hands wavering a bit as their faces came closer together.

Their noses bumped and she stopped, only to ask him to kiss her.

Why? Why him? Was she sure?

She answered swiftly and without hesitation.

He countered that she should have someone better, someone more suited to her than him.

She tilted her head just the slightest bit to brush her lips to his, light as a feather, hot as dragonfire and as sure of herself as a wolf making its way down a path. Whispering that there was only him all the while.

So he kissed her, as much as she liked.

As much as he liked.

She asked him to take off her dress, fingers on his lips like she was preemptively stopping his protests.

He didn’t protest though, just kissed her fingers and gave her everything she wanted.

She was on her back, pale skin bare to him in its entirety, brown hair trailing down her back and front, and pink complementing her skin lovingly; the barely hidden pink of her nipples, the pink flush present on her body, or her pink lips that were pulled into a smile and that contrasted with her red cheeks.

A sliver chain around her hips filled with little trinkets, charms, beads and cloth. A present from his kin he knew.

Eyes enhanced further by the line of black kohl that stretched, from temple to temple, across her eyes and nose like a mask.

And grey eyes staring at him; eyes like steel, eyes like silver, eyes like the image of the moon reflecting upon water.

The contrast with the makeup made the silver become more beautiful, just like she did everyday, inside and out.

He asked her one more time if she was sure, needed to hear that final confirmation.

She was. She spoke clearly, telling him that she wanted him to have her maidenhead.

He froze, for a second, then nodded and kissed her again.

Daemon had seen women – and girls – taken as cities were conquered and armies fell upon them. Crying, despairing, blood dripping down their thighs whether from having their maidenheads taken or by the uncaring grasp of their captors. Sometimes he had even seen men and boys treated the same.

He had beaten the habit out of their forces, beaten the torching of cities out of them, forced the savagery out of mercenaries and destroyed it in the Dothraki savages no matter how much they raged and protested, he felled them all.

Because no matter how hard he tried all he could see in his mind, as clear as a grand painting or mural, was Daenerys and Rhaenys in those positions. How they could have been sold to the Dothraki or the Ghiscari, how they could have been treated, how they would have been treated.

He talked, he argued, he shouted, ordered, dealt with, convinced.

He spilled whatever blood was necessary.

For them he would create an ocean.

So he would be gentle with her, he would give her everything he knew and more on her first time. If she wanted they would up the ante.

Later – much later – they lay there, sated, she with her eyes slightly glassy, head on his shoulder with his arm wrapped around her tightly, his hand drawing random patterns on her skin, her maiden’s blood drying on her thighs, one of her legs hooked with his and he with his back and sides burning slightly from where she sank her nails into, bite marks on his lip, shoulder, chest and arms and enjoying the small kisses she was leaving as her eyes focused on him from between strands of brown hair.

Her eyes shined and she, almost completely innocently, asked him if they could go again. Her eyes twinkled mischievously and when he told her of changing the pace a bit they gained an interested gleam along with what he would say was determination mixed with expectation.

He devoured her that night just as she did to him.

His name a prayer on her lips just as hers was on his.

Wouldn’t be the last time either.

 

His little Arya

 

He looked at her as she watched the waves flow by with Daenerys at her side, Rhaenys by his.

Arya stood with light armor protecting her and the sword and daggers he had gifted her so long ago. Daenerys with her flowing dress with some armor protecting the most important places of her body.

Both girls loved the sea, the smell of it, the motion of the waves, fishing in it, swimming in it, so both older dragons would let the younger wolf and dragon enjoy it.

Who knew when they would have the chance later since they were almost to the shores of Westeros.

Rhaenys grabbed his hand and leaned into his shoulder while she whispered that they were almost home.

He lay his head on top of hers, squeezed her hand back but said nothing.

His mind occupied by battle plans, logistics, excitement, worry and Arya.

Little Arya as beautiful as she was deadly, as fierce as she was kind, as friendly with others just as she kept only those close to her in her heart and no one else, as compassionate as she could be unforgiving.

Could end those against her, be covered in blood and still look beautiful while so making him wonder if she got tips from Dany and Rhae on that.

Could slice the throats of two men open in the blink of an eye while her wolf tore open the third’s, bringing death to those who she wished as easily as she made friends with those she desired to.

Yet all he could think about as she turned to him with those grey eyes was her.

Deadly little Arya, bringing death to others as easily as she brought him to life with three little words uttered from her pink lips, each and every time.

The words she uttered that night at the pyramid again and again, the same ones he answered with, the same ones she told him when they set off and again when they announced that Westeros was within sight.

“I love you.”