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On the Run

Chapter Text

Arya’s attention was taken from the conversation Anguy and Gendry were having about the bodkin by the approach of the Red Woman, Thoros, and Lord Beric, along with two of her soldiers.

“I don’t like that woman.” She told the boys. Ever since she left Winterfell, her sense of who to trust and who not to had improved a thousand fold, and Arya did not trust the Lady Melisandre.

“That’s ‘cause you’re a girl.” Anguy told her, smirking. Gendry snickered, and Arya narrowed her eyes at the stupid bull, and the flash of jealousy that shot through her.

“You mean because I don’t have a cock that makes all my decisions for me?” Arya snarked back. Anguy gave a surprised hoot of laughter, but Gendry flushed. He always did when Arya spoke like that.

“Forgive me lad.” Lord Beric gave Gendry a sad look as the trio stopped only feet away from Gendry, Anguy, and Arya, and Arya felt as though her suspicions had been confirmed. She stepped in front of Gendry, blocking the path of the two soldiers.

“What do you want with him?” She demanded, glaring at the Red Woman.

“We serve the Lord of Light, and the Lord of Light needs this boy.” Lord Beric informed her.

“Gendry, run.” Arya commanded him, drawing her dagger as the soldiers continued to approach. One of them laughed, clearly not afraid of the fifteen year old girl.

“Grab him!” The Red Woman ordered. Arya met one of the soldiers with her dagger, stabbing him at the point that his shoulder met his neck, where he wore no armor. He had made no move to block her, either because she was too quick, or because he hadn’t thought she would- or could- hurt him. The man went down with a cry, clamping a hand over his wound, the blood spurting between his fingers. Arya turned to stop the second soldier from catching Gendry, and saw that he was still standing there, eyes wide.

“Run you stupid bull!” She yelled at him. Their eyes met, and Gendry gave a nod before turning and running off into the woods. Anguy made a half-hearted grab for him, but missed, probably on purpose. The second soldier started after Gendry, and Arya launched herself onto his back, bringing him to the ground. Her dagger was gone, buried in the shoulder of the first knight, but she still had her fists, and began to hit the knight in the face as hard as she could, taking out all her anger at being held for ransom, for them going after Gendry, and then for everything else. For her father being named a traitor and beheaded, for Bran and Rickon being killed by Theon, and for Sansa for being held hostage at King’s Landing. Arya was yelling and crying when strong arms wrapped around her waist, lifting her off the bloody knight. She looked around wildly, letting out a sigh of relief when she didn’t see Gendry. Hopefully he would be able to stay away. 

“Calm down child.” Arya recognized Thoros of Myr’s voice, and realized it was him that was holding her.

“You were going to sell him.” Arya accused Lord Beric. His sad eyes stared into hers.

“We need the gold. And the Lord of Light needed the boy.” He told her. Arya wrenched free of Thoros’ grip and stalked towards the Red Woman.

“You were going to hurt him. What did you want with him anyways? He’s just a blacksmith from Flea Bottom, he never did anything!” She yelled at the priestess.

“He is more than any of them could ever be. He could have made kings rise and fall. He could have helped King Stannis considerably.” She told Arya, meeting her gaze calmly. Arya narrowed her eyes and opened her mouth to speak, but the Red Woman grabbed her face, surprising her into silence. The woman’s fingers were unnaturally hot on Arya’s skin. “I see a darkness in you. And in that darkness, eyes staring back at me. Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes you’ll shut forever.” The Red Woman released Arya. “We will meet again.” She promised, before turning and sweeping away, back towards where her horses were being kept.

Arya spat at the ground. Anguy laid a gentle hand on her arm, and led her back into the cave. He brought her deep inside, and later that evening she heard Thoros telling Lord Beric that they would need to keep a sharper eye on her if they didn’t want to lose another hostage, and possibly should even post a guard on her.

That night, Lady Melisandre’s name joined her list.

Chapter Text

Gendry had been on his own in the Riverlands for nearly a week when Arya showed up. She scared him half to death, stepping out of the shadows so silently he thought she might be a figment of his imagination. He had been thinking about her a lot. Of course, he’d been thinking of her a lot for the past several months, but these last few days especially he couldn’t get her out of his head. The raw emotion in her voice when she told him to run, and the look in her eyes when they met his- he saw her face every time he closed his eyes.

“Arya.” He breathed her name, jumping to his feet. “How did you find me?” She quirked half of her mouth up in a smile and rolled her eyes at him.

“You’re still very loud. It’s like you don’t remember anything I taught you. Plus, there’s the smoke from the fire.” She took another step into the light, and Gendry saw a bruise blooming across the left side of her face. Without thinking, he stepped towards her and put a hand under her chin, gently turning her face so that he could examine the injury.

“Who did this? What happened?” He demanded. Then he realized that he was touching her, and quickly dropped his hands again, embarrassed. Arya furrowed her brow, but whether it was because of the way he had touched her or because she was remembering how she got the wound, he could not say.

“The Hound.” She answered, distaste dripping from her tone. “I would have been here sooner, but he captured me. He wanted to ransom me to my brother, but the stupid cunt wasn’t smart enough to tie me up at night.”

“Why did he hit you?” He asked, concern coloring his voice. Arya shrugged as she sat down on the log that Gendry had been seated on.

“Some people find my attitude abrasive. And most men don’t like to be told they looked like a scared little girl at the sight of fire. Also I tried to kill him.” Gendry closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Of course she did.

“Stop picking fights with people bigger than you.” He half-heartedly sighed, resigned to the fact that she would cheerfully ignore this advice.

“Then I wouldn’t get to pick a fight with anyone.” She responded, patting the log beside her. He swallowed hard as he sat down. There was enough room for the both of them, but they were so close that their legs touched.

“You hungry? Rabbit’s almost done.” He cleared his throat awkwardly and leaned forward to turn the spit so the bottom of the rabbit wouldn’t burn.

“I'm starved. I’ve been so busy looking for you all day I haven’t eaten except for some berries since last night when I ate with the Hound. Stole some cheese from him too. It’s hard and not very good, but it’s food.” She pulled a satchel over her head and dropped it onto the ground beside their log. “I’ve got some bread from the Brotherhood too.”

“How did you escape them? The Brotherhood?” He asked curiously. She had tried to run away once before, right after he told her he was planning on joining them, but they had caught her fairly easily. Arya shrugged beside him.

“I waited until nightfall this time, so I’d be harder to see. Didn’t even try the first night after you had gone, and they had their guard down by the second. Thoros had Anguy and Lem taking turns watching me. Anguy was awful sorry about it-”

“That’s because Anguy likes you.” Gendry tried to tease her, but knew he sounded bitter. Anguy was charming and had an easy way with women, whereas Gendry always got flustered and stumbled over all his words.

“Does he now? Well, I don’t see that it matters much, seeing as I have no plans to ever see him again.” She smiled at him broadly. “Why do you care anyways?”

“I don’t care.” He told her stiffly. “I was just stating a fact.” Arya raised her eyebrows at him.

“Well, anyways he only said he was sorry, but Lem’s the one who helped me get away. He fell asleep while he should have been watching me. I reckon he’ll get in trouble for it, but I can’t quite seem to care.” Gendry grinned at Arya’s blasé attitude, and shook his head. For a girl that had gone through what she had gone through, lost in the Riverlands hundreds of miles from home with no horse, no money, and no one but a lowborn bastard to keep her company, she was in an incredibly good mood.

Soon the rabbit was ready, and Gendry and Arya dug in. As he ate hungrily, grease running down his chin, he felt Arya staring at him curiously.

“What is it? Why are you looking at me like that?” He asked self-consciously, wiping his chin on his sleeve.

“Why is everyone after you? That woman was going to pay a good amount of money for you, more than what anyone would pay for a blacksmith.” She told him thoughtfully.

“I toldja, I don’t know. Don’t know what your lord father was questioning me for either, nor the Hand before him.” Gendry shrugged.

“Jon Arryn, my father, Cersei and now Stannis. The only thing they have in common is…” She furrowed her brow.

“You said my father was asking about your mother?” Gendry had no idea where she was going with this. What did it matter why they wanted to buy him or sell him or kill him? The important thing was to just avoid them.

“He asked me what Jon Arryn asked, and that was about my mother. Dunno why.”

“And you never met your father?”

“I told you no. What’s it matter anyways? Like I said before, he was probably just some drunk-” Gendry was cut off by Arya grabbing his chin and turning his face towards her own, staring at him intently. Then she burst out laughing. Gendry flushed, pulling out of her grasp. “What’s so damn funny?” He asked crossly, wiping at the greasy fingerprints she had left on his face. Arya beamed at him, eyes sparkling with her secret knowledge.

“I have.”

“You have what?”

“Met your father. And he was a drunk. Your Grace.” Arya stood and did what looked to Gendry to be a perfect curtsy, or would have been if she wasn’t covered in dirt and grease and wearing boys’ clothing. Gendry frowned at her.

“What in the seven hells are you talking about?”

“That’s why they all want you! It makes perfect sense now. That’s how my father and Jon Arryn knew that Joffrey and Myrcella and Tommen were all the Kingslayer’s bastards. And that’s why Cersei and Stannis want you dead. If you’re Robert’s trueborn son you stand in the way of both of their claims to the thrones.” Arya sat beside him again, grasping his wrist excitedly. Gendry just shook his head.

“They’ve got the wrong person then. Having black hair and blue eyes doesn’t make the king my father. Lots of people look like me.”

“The king has a lot of bastards.” He glared at her, and she smiled. “Gendry, Robert was famous for fighting with a Warhammer, which you are also extremely skilled at wielding. Besides, you don’t just have black hair and blue eyes, you have eyes the exact same color as the King.”

“You memorized the shade of the King’s eyes?” He raised an eyebrow at her, and she sighed in annoyance.

“My sister and her friend Jeyne used to go on and on about how handsome the king was, and how they had wished my aunt Lyanna could have lived and married him and how beautiful their children would be. Anyways, when the king came to Winterfell, all I saw was a fat old man. The only attractive part of him was his eyes. It’s a very distinct color, like the pool in the Godswood when the snow begins to melt.” Arya's tone had changed while she spoke, and by the end she was staring dreamily into the fire, and Gendry smirked at her.

“You think my eyes are attractive?” He asked, nudging her with his shoulder. She flushed deeply.

“I think you’re the king’s son. And you pestered me for being the daughter of a lord. You’re much more highborn than me!” She teased. Gendry shook his head.

“A lot of good it’s done me.” They had finished their rabbit by now, and Gendry sighed and stretched as he got up to stoke the fire. “It’s getting late, and it sounds to me like you’ve had an exciting few days. Exciting enough to make you start believing fantasies. Get some sleep, I’ll take first watch.”

Arya stood up too, and frowned at him. “What do we need to keep watch for? We don’t have any horses to steal. If we put that fire out and move a bit away, no one would see us.”

“And how do you suggest we avoid freezing in the dark without this fire?” He asked, quirking up one eyebrow.

“We’ll just sleep close together.” She told him, giving him a look like it was the most obvious answer in the world. Gendry froze, and swallowed hard. He had slept beside her before, but never too close, and never without half a dozen other people in the room.

“But-” Arya was already kicking dirt over the fire.

“Oh, come on, I don’t bite. I can certainly keep you warmer than a fire. Besides, we’ll take up less space this way, so people will be even less likely to see us.” Speechless, Gendry allowed Arya to lead him by the hand away from the now-extinguished fire and pulled him down on the ground beside her. She smiled at him before turning on her side, wiggling her back against his chest, and pulling his arm around her.

“See? Nice and cozy.” She said sleepily. Gendry was still dazed but finally found his tongue.

“Good night m’lady.” She elbowed him lightly in the side, but he could hear the smile in her voice when she spoke.

“Good night Your Grace.”

Chapter Text

When Gendry awoke, daylight was starting to stream through the trees above him. He was slightly cross that the light filtering through the leaves had awoken him, as he’d been dreaming that he was a prince and Arya was his (still wild) lady wife. It had been a very good dream, and left him desperately wishing it was real.

Groggily, he realized that there was the petite body of a girl cuddled up beside him. And his hand was resting on her breast. Suddenly awake, he snatched his hand away, letting it float frozen in the air above him. His sudden movement must have woken Arya, because she stirred and hummed sleepily.

“Gendry, move your dagger. It’s digging into my arse.” Arya grumbled. Gendry felt a rush of blood flood his cheeks. His dagger was at his side. The thing digging into Arya’s arse was the remnants of his very good dream. Gendry shifted quickly away from her and sat up, grateful for the slight chill in the morning air that was helping him calm down. Arya sat up beside him and stretched.

“I suppose the earlier we start off, the better.” She yawned.

“Start off for Riverrun?” Now that the Brotherhood had shown their true colors, Gendry saw no better alternative than smithing for Arya’s brother. At least he would still get to see Arya, at the very least at a distance. He had no delusions that her lady mother would continue to allow her daughter to spend her time with a lowborn, bastard blacksmith. Arya shook her head.

“My mother and Robb aren’t there anymore, they’re headed for the Twins for my uncle Edmure’s wedding. The Brotherhood received word of it the night you left.” Arya rose and fetched bread and the cold rabbit left over from the night before to break their fast.

“They could have lied, to make it easier for them to find you if you ran.” Gendry suggested. All of his trust in the Brotherhood had vanished. Arya shrugged.

“They could’ve. But I doubt they would share their lie with the Hound, and he wanted to take me to the Twins too.” She smiled around a mouthful of bread. “The first thing we need to do is steal some horses. If we have to walk the whole way, we may as well go to Riverrun for the amount of time it’ll take us.” Gendry agreed, and once they finished eating they headed off in search of the nearest inn. Thanks to their early start, they found one just a few hours later.

“Alright, the owners of these horses are probably still sleeping off the ale and whores they enjoyed last night. Everyone that stayed sober would have already left. You stay here and keep watch for me, and I’ll slip down-”

“I’ll stand watch and you’ll put yourself in danger?” Gendry interrupted indignantly.

“Yes. You’re too loud. And besides, they’re far more likely to let a girl go free than a boy. And I’m quicker.” Gendry pursed his lips, but couldn’t argue. “Good. Now if you see anyone coming out, hoot or something to warn me. It should only be a few moments.” Arya gave him a small smile and slunk down the hill. She is very quiet. Gendry admitted to himself. She hardly rustled a single branch on her descent. It seemed to be going all to plan, and Arya was atop one horse, leading the other when the door to the inn opened.

“My horse! She’s stealing my horse!” Gendry watched Arya dig her heels into the sides of the mare she rode, pushing her to gallop. The man whose horse she had stolen did appear drunk, as Arya had guessed, and his stumbling as he tried to saddle and mount another horse gave Arya a huge headstart. Soon she was completely out of sight, and the man forlornly returned to the inn, panting hard.

Gendry had watched the event with his heart in his throat, terrified that Arya would be caught. Once it was apparent that she had gotten away, he relaxed and waited for her to return. It was a matter of minutes before Arya trotted up, her hair windblown and her cheeks red, a wide smile across her face.

“Nice riding m’lady.” She laughed and winked at him, and he flushed at the double meaning.

“Growing up in a castle does have some perks.” She handed him the reins to the other horse and he climbed on, once again following Arya to the north, where they would find the Twins. They rode in comfortable silence for a while, occasionally exchanging idle comments. Their discussion from last night kept running through Gendry’s head. Could it really be possible? It would explain some things… like how his apprenticeship with Tobho Mott got paid for, and why everyone was always after him.

“Arya, do you-” He was going to ask if she really thought it was true, but she wouldn’t have said it if she didn’t. She was very straight-forward, and relied on facts. “Do you think we would have been friends still? If I really was the king’s son and he had claimed me? We probably still would have met at the castle when your father came to be Hand.” Arya looked at him, examining him. He shifted uncomfortably in his saddle. Sometimes he felt as if those clear grey eyes could see right through him into his soul, see what he desired...

“Maybe, I’m not sure. If you were still like this then of course. But if you became like the other southron lords…” Arya pursed her lips.

“What do you mean?” Gendry had spent very limited time with any lords. Mostly he just saw them on the streets, or heard them give their orders to Tobho Mott.

“They all act like they’re the finest things to ever walk this Earth. My father wasn’t like that, most northern lords aren’t, because they still have to fight the wildlings and deal with harsher winters, where sometimes you have to go without.” Arya was speaking fiercely. "And the southroners are so grabby." She added huffily. Gendry felt his blood heat up in anger.

"Who grabbed you?" He demanded. Who had dared touch her?

Arya rolled her eyes. "Some lesser lordling who was visiting the court. He took me for a kitchen maid, and figured I'd be pleased to get the attention. As if the way I was dressed excused it. If he had known I was the Hand's daughter..." Arya smirked. "It doesn't matter though, because based on the broken nose I gave him I doubt he'll be grabbing any girls that don't want it any longer." Gendry had certainly underestimated what ladies like Arya had to put up with. He had always assumed that all highborn people led very cushy lives. Not that Arya was your average highborn girl.

“Was the king truly the worst of them? In that respect I mean.” Gendry almost didn't want to ask the question. Even he had heard stories of King Robert’s whoring and drinking, they were all over Westoros. Arya hesitated and Gendry was touched that she didn’t want to talk badly about the man she thought was his father.

“My father said he wasn’t always. They were best friends when they were our age, but then there was the war, and Lyanna died…” She trailed off, perhaps not wanting to talk about how Robert had loved someone who wasn’t Gendry’s mother. He knew that she was sensitive about people speculating about Jon’s mother, and she had been quite upset with Ned Dayne when he suggested that Lord Stark had been in love with Ashara Dayne. But Gendry figured there was no love between King Robert and his mother, based on the other drunks he had seen his mother drag home when she had still lived. “I think Cersei drove him to it too. She was cruel and manipulative and- and-”

“She’s on your list.” It wasn’t a question. Gendry had often heard Arya whisper Cersei’s name at night, along with Meryn Trant’s and the Mountain’s.

“You must hate everyone in the south.” He certainly couldn’t blame her.

“Not everyone. You’re not so bad.” She smiled at him. Gendry grinned back. It was almost embarrassing how much he clung to any words of endearment from her, but a warm feeling spread through him all the same.

Chapter Text

Arya gazed at Gendry, toying with the idea that had been running through her head the past few days while they traveled together. Sansa would have thought it was a lovely, romantic idea, which was probably why Arya was so hesitant about it.

“What is it Arr?” She blinked at Gendry, who was looking back at her with an amused expression.

“You’ve been giving me weird looks for the past three days. I’m not totally unobservant you know.”

“I could ask Robb to legitimize you. If you wanted. He’s king in the North, and kings can do that. You’d be Lord Baratheon.” She blurted out, flushing.

“What do I want to be a lord for?” Gendry frowned. Arya immediately became defensive.

You’re the one who said you didn’t want to come to Riverrun because you would be serving my brother. This way you wouldn’t be. You could still be a blacksmith if you wanted, but you could do something else too, be on the war council or- well I don’t know but I just thought-”

“You just thought I would rather be anything but a bastard?” His voice was hard, and Arya almost flinched from it.

“It’s not like you like it! Jon hated it too, I just thought- you have more options as a lord, and it’s not like you would be put in danger because everyone dangerous already knows about you!” Arya was nearly shouting now, and silently cautioned herself to keep her voice down. “You would get the Baratheon name, and lands after the war, and…” And you could marry a lady. She didn’t say it, could barely admit it to herself, but that was the real reason behind her suggestion. If he was a lord he could marry her. Not that he’d want to. He’d probably find some other lady , a  real lady, that he preferred. 

“Are you even listening?!” He demanded, drawing her out of her thoughts. “Just because you think the only people worth associating with are lords and ladies-”

“I don’t think that and you know it!” Arya snapped, wishing there was something she could throw at him for even thinking that about her, let alone saying it. “I just thought- you said I couldn’t be your family because I was a lady, but this way-” She couldn’t keep the slight note of hurt out of her voice, and saw a stupid shocked look cross his face out of the corner of her eye.

“Arya-” Gendry’s voice was gentler now, but unbidden tears were rising in Arya’s eyes and she couldn’t let him see them.

“It was a stupid idea. I’m sorry I even mentioned it.” She said stiffly, urging her mare ahead and viciously wiping away a tear that had leaked down her cheek.


A few hours later, they came upon an inn and Arya finally spoke to him again, saying she was dying for a meal that wasn’t roasted rabbit, and they could use the coins they’d found in the saddlebags to pay for it. Gendry agreed and followed her into the inn’s stables. As they began to hobble the horses, he decided to broach the subject of their argument. He couldn’t bear to have Arya stay angry with him.

“Arry, about earlier, I shouldn’t have been so dismissive. It was a good idea, it just took me by surprise is all. And-”

“It’s fine.” Arya’s voice was calm, but she was staring at the knot she was working on. Gendry was surprised by her answer, when he had imagined this he had assumed she’d get angry again.

“Are you sure? You seemed upset earlier-”

“I wasn’t upset.” A note of indignant anger had crept into her voice, and Gendry almost wanted to smile. Of course she wouldn’t admit her feelings had been hurt. He hated that he had been the one to hurt them, but it was still amusing that after all this time, after how far they had come, she was still the little girl who wouldn’t admit weakness.

“Of course m’lady. I only meant-” Arya shoved him.

“Don’t call me that!”

“I’m trying to apologize! I shouldn’t have said that, about you only wanting to associate with lords and ladies.”

“No, you shouldn’t have.” Arya frowned up at him, but something in her eyes softened and she looked down. “Perhaps I could have presented the idea in a slightly less pushy way.” It was the nearest thing to an apology that he would get. Gendry tried to keep the smirk out of his voice.

“Perhaps. That’s not really your way though, is it?” Arya pursed her lips and shoved him half-heartedly. “You’re not still upset with me then?” He asked. Arya rolled her eyes.

“I wasn’t upset, I was surprised. You’ve never really yelled at me before.”

“I didn’t yell at you.” Gendry argued. Arya raised her eyebrows and he flushed. “I didn’t mean to at least.” He hadn’t meant to get so angry, but it had just felt like she wanted him to be something he wasn’t. She was the only one who had made him feel comfortable as he was, as a bastard, and it felt like a betrayal when he thought that she didn't accept him that way. If he wasn’t so stupid and had remembered that she had already seen him as an equal, as family… not that his feelings towards her were very brotherly.

“Ours is the fury.” Her words pulled him back to the present.

“What?” The words sounded familiar, but he couldn’t quite place them.

“Those are the Baratheon words. Your words. Makes sense now.” She teased him. He smiled, and opened his mouth to respond when Arya caught sight of something behind him and went pale.

“The Hound.” She whispered. Gendry froze, forcing himself not to turn and stare. “He must be heading to the wedding anyways, maybe he’s hoping he’ll find me along the way.”

Arya began chewing on her lower lip, eyebrows furrowed with worry, her mind working a mile a minute. “If we run, he’ll want to know why, he’ll follow us. But if we stay, he’ll see me.” Suddenly an idea seemed to pop into her head, and she gazed up at Gendry.

“Kiss me.”

“What?” He gaped at her, positive he misheard.

“If he sees two people dressed like us kissing he’ll won’t look twice, and that way he won’t be able to see my face. Kiss me!” Before he could think to react, Arya grasped the front of his jerkin and yanked him down, crushing his mouth against hers. The action had pulled him off balance, and he staggered forward, walking Arya backwards until her back was pressed against the wall of the inn. Her lips parted with a slight gasp when he pinned her against the wall, and then the kiss was all teeth and tongues and Arya’s hands skimming over his chest and-

The door to the inn slammed shut with such force the wall they were leaning against shook. Gendry broke apart from Arya, trying hard to not look out of breath.

“We should…” Her eyes were sparkling and her cheeks were flushed, and she looked as though she couldn’t quite remember what it was she was saying.

“The Hound.” He offered, his voice sounding strained to him. Arya nodded.

“We should go. Before he comes back out.” She told him, staring past him as she absentmindedly reached a hand up to touch her slightly swollen lips. Gendry swallowed hard and turned away from her to see to the horses. He told himself. Not because if I see that look in her eyes for one more second I’ll kiss her again, and this time I don’t know if I'll be able to stop.

He wondered if it was her first kiss, but he was afraid that she would say no. If it was, did it even count as a first kiss? It was just a ploy to avoid the Hound. But it had felt so real, one almost could have been forgiven for forgetting that. Especially when Gendry caught Arya biting her lip and gazing at him later that afternoon as they rode on north.

He was going to be in for a long, hard night thinking about that kiss.

Chapter Text

“Come on, let’s hobble the horses. There’s little chance of anyone coming around and I would kill for a wash right now. We should arrive at the Twins tomorrow night, and my mother would faint if I showed up looking and smelling like this.” Arya slid off her horse and began to lead it nearby the bank of the river. Gendry, unsure of what else to do, followed. He took his time hobbling his horse, and Arya was unlacing her jerkin by the time he looked up.

“Hurry up. The water will be cold, it’ll be best to get out while the sun is still up to stay warm.” She told him, picking at a knot.

“I’ll stay and watch the horses m’lady.” He turned away from her, flushing. Arya snorted.

“You could do with a bath just as well as I could, trust me. And stop calling me m’lady. It’s stupid and entirely out of place here.”

“’Twouldn’t be right.” He said gruffly, staring at the ground.

“You’re still worried about proprieties?!” She laughed incredulously. “Gendry, please, we’re in the middle of nowhere, alone, together. All proprieties are already out the window.”

“Someone has to worry about your honor.” He mumbled. Arya scoffed.

“My honor? Gendry, I’ve already seen all those boys heading up to join the Night’s Watch. I’ve seen you already.” Gendry flushed darker.

He had forgotten about the day that the boys joining the Night’s Watch had stopped to bathe in a river on their way to Castle Black. Of course, then he hadn’t imagined that Arry might be a girl, let alone a highborn one. He started to wonder what she had thought of him, but stopped himself before he could go too far. She probably hadn't thought anything anyways.

“And anyways, I had four brothers before that, and there was only one spring in the Godswood. Even the North can get hot sometimes.” Arya was still prattling on. “And I may dress like a boy, but underneath I look like any other girl. Lowborn or highborn, we all look alike.” Gendry was so surprised by the fact that she was talking about her body that he finally glanced up at her face. His expression must have given something away, because Arya looked at him curiously.

“You have seen a girl before, haven’t you?” Gendry blushed furiously and didn’t answer. “You haven’t?” Arya’s voice was colored with disbelief and amusement.

“I didn’t grow up sharing bathing pools with any siblings.” He mumbled at his feet.

“Well yes, but- I mean, I know you’ve had offers, I guess I just assumed-”

“Offers?” Gendry asked, confused. And did he imagine it, or were Arya’s cheeks turning pink?

“Offers, you know, like from that girl Bella in the Peach. Don’t you like girls?” Gendry didn’t know it was possible to feel this mortified. His only solace was that Arya looked slightly embarrassed too.

Yes, I like girls.” He hissed.

“But you haven’t-”

“No, I haven’t. And it’s a good thing, at least with Bella, because if you’re right about me being Robert’s son, she’s my half-sister. Now, I’m going to walk down there to bathe, and you go up there, and we’re never going to discuss this conversation again. Okay?” Arya nodded, cheeks pink, and obediently turned and walked upstream. Thank the gods.

He washed fairly quickly, but decided to stay in the water until Arya called out to him that it was time to leave. The cold temperature of the water helped him calm down every time he thought of her, nude, just around the riverbend. Finally he heard her voice, but the words she was saying struck worry into him.

“I see you there Clegane.” She shouted in her clear voice.

“You’re coming with me wolf-bitch. I’m getting that ransom.” The Hound barked back. Gendry slipped out of the river and up onto the bank, treading through the woods as quietly as possible, saying a silent prayer that the Hound wouldn’t hear him. As he headed toward the sound of the voices, he searched his mind for an idea on how to proceed. He couldn’t fight the Hound, he was certain to lose and then Arya would be on her own.

“And how will you make me come with you? I’m much quicker than you.” Arya was still talking very loudly.

“You’ve got to come out of that water some time. Your clothes are right here, so I think I’ll just have myself a seat and wait you out.” Gendry heard the rustle of chainmail as the Hound took a seat. Another step and he had them in his sight, the Hound sitting with his back against a tree, and Arya standing shoulder deep in the water, her arms crossed over her chest. Gendry spotted a stout branch lying on the ground. That’ll do. He thought, picking it up and hefting it in his hand.

“Don’t you have a horse somewhere? There’s no way you could have gotten this far without one.” Gendry was watching the Hound carefully, looking for an opening. The way he was seated now, he would see Gendry before he could hit him, and then there was no way Gendry could save Arya. But then Arya’s eyes met his, and he saw a glint in them.

“Aye, I have a horse. She’s over there.” Arya pointed left and the Hound turned, leaning forward to get a better view. And giving Gendry the perfect shot.

“Where-” Gendry swung the branch as if it was his hammer, and it crashed hard against the Hound’s skull, knocking him to the ground, unconscious.

“Nicely done!” Arya congratulated him as she waded out of the water, making no effort to cover herself. His eye was drawn to her soft curves, and the dark thatch of curls at the apex of her thighs, but he flushed and made himself look at her face. He flushed deeper when he saw that she was staring at his waist, and he remembered that he had failed to put on clothing before rushing to save her.

“We should go. Before he wakes up.” Gendry mumbled. Arya’s eyes flashed back up to his face, and she nodded, flushing. Gendry hurried back to where his clothes were and pulled them on as quickly as possible, then went to get the horses ready. They were both silent as they continued on their way to the Twins, and Gendry wondered if she too was thinking of their conversation from earlier, and that she was the first girl he had ever seen. He also wondered why the Hound always seemed to be involved when he and Arya had moments like this.

Chapter Text

He was staring at her again. Arya noticed that he’d been doing it more and more often lately, gazing at her in the firelight as they ate. He wasn’t leering like some of the men from the Brotherhood used to, he looked at her the way her father used to look at her mother. It made her more than a little self-conscious, but it also gave her a warm feeling in the pit of her stomach. So she never mentioned that she noticed, and he never mentioned why he did it.

When she finished eating, she sighed and moved to sit closer to him, leaning her head against his shoulder. Since they started traveling alone together, she had gotten a lot more physically affectionate, often leaning against him, touching his hair, or cuddling into him at night. Gendry would always reciprocate in a friendly manner. Tonight, instead of wrapping his arm around her shoulders, he put it around her waist.

She was almost nervous tonight, mostly because her mind kept replaying the scene from the river today. She had been beyond embarrassed asking him about girls, but couldn’t keep her big mouth shut. It was the only time she was ever grateful that he put distance between them. And then when he had saved her… Arya had seen many naked boys before, but she had never really looked. She had peeked a little when the boys going up to Castle Black were all bathing, but not until after the water was at least waist high. Back at Harrenhal, she used to watch the way the muscles in Gendry’s torso rippled when he was smithing and wonder if he was big all over. Her cheeks reddened as she remembered how she stared so openly at him, eyes widening as she discovered that yes, he was. She remembered Theon and her brothers teasing each other whenever the spring was too cold when they were younger, and she only vaguely knew what they meant, but the chilly river water didn’t seem to be an issue for Gendry.

“Arya.” His voice was low and husky, sending a shiver through her and bringing her back to the present.

“Hmm?” He put a hand under her chin and tilted her face up and towards his own. Her breath hitched as their eyes met, their lips centimeters apart. And then his lips were hot on hers, and all thoughts flew right out of her head. This kiss was gentler than their other kiss, probably because Arya wasn’t the one to initiate it this time. Gendry’s hand slid from her chin up to her cheek and cradled her face, and his other hand was warm against the small of her back. Arya melted into the kiss, wrapping her arms tightly around him. This is what a first kiss should be like. She thought, deepening the kiss. Not a rushed ploy to avoid catching the Hound’s attention. All too soon, Gendry pulled away.

“Sorry, I just… needed to do that one last time.” He brushed her hair back from her face and smiled sadly. Arya blinked at him, trying to pull herself out of her daze. He was sorry?!

“What do you mean one last time?” She demanded, grasping his forearm tightly. “You are staying with me when we join my family, aren’t you?” The happy, glowy feeling that had been growing in her stomach a moment ago was replaced by cold dread.

“Of course I’ll stay, but it won’t be the same.” He told her, his voice gentle. “I probably won’t even be able to see you that often.”

“Says who? Robb won’t care, he probably wouldn’t even notice if I’m spending time with you, he’ll be too busy with the war and his new wife.”

“Your mother will care. You’ve told me enough about her for me to know that. You were even afraid about the ransom…” Gendry trailed off, but Arya remembered all too clearly her worries over whether her family would ransom her. She was never enough of a lady for her mother, not like Sansa was. And her mother hated bastards, she would make her judgements about Gendry Waters before Arya ever got the chance to explain her theory of Gendry being King Robert’s son.

“If I tell them how you’ve been protecting me-” Gendry laughed.

I’ve been protecting you? Who was it that saved who from the Red Woman? Or got us out of Harrenhal, or got us horses or knew how to even get to the Twins-”

“Who knocked the Hound out earlier?” Arya replied stubbornly. He rolled his eyes.

“You would have gotten yourself out of that one if I hadn’t. You’re the one who’s been helping me this whole time Arya.” He gently caressed her cheek and Arya bit her lip. Gendry was right. She wanted to argue that her mother had let her be friends with Mycah, but she had been a child then, and her mother knew little about the friendship, it was her father who allowed it. And besides, Arya never kissed Mycah, and Mycah never looked at her the way Gendry did. Her mother would spot that a mile away.

“We protect each other.” Arya told him, gazing fiercely into his eyes. He smiled softly and nodded. “As for my mother…” Arya sighed. “We can cross that bridge when we come to it. But right now, we still have all night to be alone together.” She grinned at him mischievously. “Who says that had to be the last time?” Surprise registered in Gendry’s eyes, but before he could say anything Arya pulled him down by his shirt to kiss him again.

She kissed him slowly and softly, as if they had all the time in the world. When they kissed like this, it felt like everything else slipped away, and there was no war and titles and lands and anything else that might keep them apart. There was just Gendry and Arya, sitting by a campfire, wrapped in each other’s arms, their tongues lazily dancing together. Gendry easily picked her up and settled her on his lap, and she ghosted her palms over the muscles in his torso. She wished she could live in this moment forever, with him wanting her, holding her, kissing her. Sometime later, the fire began to dwindle, and Gendry pulled away for long enough to suggest they get some sleep. Arya helped him put out the fire and led him to where she had set up their cloaks as a makeshift bed earlier, lying down beside him and burying her face in his chest.

“I wish we could stay like this.” She whispered, so quietly she wasn’t sure she even wanted him to hear. He was silent for so long that she thought he hadn’t but then she felt him kiss the top of her head.

“Me too wolf-girl.”

Chapter Text

Gendry had a strange sense of foreboding growing in his stomach as they approached the Twins.

It’s just because they’ll keep me away from her. He thought to himself. I’m just being selfish, nothing will go wrong.

As they got closer, they could see people fighting on the grounds. Just some drunken knights taking a foolish argument too far. Gendry tried to convince himself. And then the banquet tents started going up in flames.

“Arya no-” Gendry lunged for her reins, but he was too late. Arya had already taken off at a gallop towards the castle. I have to help her. Cursing, Gendry spurred his horse to follow, praying he would be able to catch up to her before she was harmed or recognized. I have to save her. He lost sight of her when she slid off of her horse and took off on foot, weaving between people to get inside the castle to her family. I have to find her.

Gendry rode around searching for her, taking care to only let his horse trample those wearing the Frey sigil. Find her. Help her. Even without the sigil to guide him, it would have been easy to pick them out. The Frey’s were all laughing like it was a game. Find her. Help her. Save her. Find her. Help her. Save her. Find her. Help her. Save her. The words kept running through Gendry’s head like a heartbeat. He couldn’t lose her. Not her. He had to find her before she got herself killed.

Finally he spotted her, blade in hand, running full tilt from the kennels over a bridge to where Gendry assumed the main hall was. He thanked the gods that he was on horseback, since he would never be able to catch her on foot. Her expression clearly said murder, but with all the noise she didn’t hear him to ride up behind her and grab her by the back of the shirt, pulling her onto the saddle in front of him.

“It’s me, it’s Gendry, don’t stab me!” He shouted as he easily lifted her and wrapped an arm firmly around her waist, knowing she would lash out. As it was, she fought tooth and nail to escape from his tight grip, and it was all he could do to hold on to her and control the horse.

“Let me go! Gendry let me go now! They killed Grey Wind, they killed him and they wouldn’t kill him unless- unless they-” Arya’s voice was shrill and hysterical as she continued to struggle against him. Gendry didn't reply to her now hardly coherent cries, focusing instead on trying to find a way to get her out safely. Help her. Save her. Suddenly, Arya fell silent and stilled completely. Gendry turned his head to see what had quieted her, and saw what he assumed was Grey Wolf’s head sewn on to Robb’s body.

“Don’t look.” He made to press Arya’s face against his chest so she couldn’t see the horror going on around them, but she pushed him away.

“No.” Her gaze was like ice as she stared, but after a moment Gendry realized she wasn’t looking at her brother. She was looking at the laughing Frey’s around him. She was studying their faces, committing them to memory. She would make them all pay. The thought went through him like a shiver. And Gendry would be there by her side to help.


 

They rode in silence for a long time. Gendry thought they were going north, but Arya had always been better at knowing that kind of thing. All that mattered to him was that they put as much distance between them and the Freys as possible.

“Stop here. I want to stop.” Arya finally said, her voice slightly cracking. Gendry stopped the horse and Arya immediately slipped off, then just stood with her back to him, her arms wrapped tightly around herself. Gendry tied up the horse, went to her.

“You should eat.” He said gently. He had tried to get her to eat a few times while they rode, but she never seemed to hear him. This time she whirled on him.

“Why did you grab me? Why didn’t you let me go to my family?” She demanded, shoving him. He staggered backwards, but caught himself.

“It was too late Arya.”

“You don’t know that!” She punctuated her words with another shove, but this time he caught her hands against his chest, holding her wrists tightly so she couldn’t hit him a third time.

“I do know. So do you.” Arya’s expression hardened and Gendry thought she was going to hit him again, but then her eyes filled with tears and she leaned into him. He wrapped her in his arms as she wept, rubbing her back and kissing her hair, doing his best to soothe her, wishing he could take away her pain.

“Did you see what they did to Robb? Did you see what they did to my brother?” She sobbed.

“I saw Arry. They’ll pay for what they did.”

“He was good Gendry. Him and my mother too they killed her.” For all her grit and determination, Arya sounded like a lost little girl right now.

“You should have let me avenge them.” She sobbed. Gendry unconsciously tightened his grip on her.

“They would have killed you too.”

“You should have let me die! My family is all dead. Theon killed Bran and Rickon and they were supposed to be his brothers! The Lannisters have Sansa, and with Joffrey as her betrothed she’s as good as dead. And Jon-” Arya’s voice cracked when she mentioned her favorite sibling. “Jon’s at the Wall now, and the men of the Night’s Watch have to renounce their families. And it’s dangerous at the Wall besides, who knows-” Gendry drew slightly away from her and tipped her chin up so he could look into her tear-streaked face.

“Arya, you are my family. And I won’t let you die. I can’t lose you.” Arya drew in a shaky breath and opened her mouth to say something, but then just buried her face in his chest once more, fisting his shirt tightly in her hands, as if she was afraid he’d disappear if she let go. Somehow he coaxed her into lying down, and eventually she stopped crying and fell asleep, still clinging to him.

I will protect her. He thought to himself. For as long as she wants me to. I’ll protect her on the journey all the way up to Jon at the Wall.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Arya awoke in Gendry’s arms on the ground, and sighed. His embrace was bittersweet, since she knew today was the last full day she would have with him. Once they got to the Twins- and then the day before came back to her. They had arrived at the Twins, and then…

As the events of the past twenty-four hours came back, Arya was surprised by how empty she felt. The night before she had been so filled with rage and sorrow. She didn’t even think she had any tears left, having sobbed so hard last night. The sadness and anger were still there, somewhere deep down, but a numb feeling overcame her, pushing away everything else. So she just lay there, not feeling, until Gendry began to stir beside her.

“Morning Arry. How are you?” He asked, concern clear in his blue eyes. She opened her mouth to reply to him, but then the sadness and tears threatened to surface again so she just sat up, turning away from him and letting the numbness come back. Gendry cleared his throat and went to the horse, grabbing some food for the both of them.

“So, I was thinking that we head north to the Wall. We’ll find your brother Jon, and in the meantime put as much distance as possible between us and the Lannisters.” Gendry announced somewhat nervously. He isn’t used to being in charge. Arya realized. He’s been taking orders his whole life. She just nodded. “Of course, we’ll have to steal another horse. I’m sure we’ll run into an inn soon enough. Whenever you’re done eating we can start off.” He continued.

“I’m done.” Her voice came out quieter than she expected it to, and sounded odd, quivery and weak. Gendry’s face belied his surprise at how she sounded, but he nodded enthusiastically and offered her a hand up.

“Let’s go then! The Wall’s a long way off… I hear.” He untied the horse and gave her an unnecessary hand up before getting on behind her.

“This is north, isn’t it? I guessed last night, but I can see the moss is growing in that direction now.” Arya nodded in assent as Gendry rambled on. He kept up his nervous chatter the whole ride to the inn. Once Arya might have minded that someone would hear him talking and try to ambush them, but right now she didn’t care. If she had his words to focus on, she couldn’t think too much about what she had seen and heard the night before.

When they came upon the inn, Gendry slid off the horse, then hesitated.

“Maybe… maybe I should get the horse this time. Just me. I saw you do it last time, and I have been practicing being quieter…” Some small part of her reared up, wanting to steal the horse herself, but she easily silenced it. Arya was too tired to argue, and too tired to sneak down there and steal the horse herself. So she agreed to wait with the horse they already had, and watched as Gendry snuck down to the stables and fairly easily stole a brown mare. She was impressed by how silent he was, how far he had come from the loud, crashing mess he had been when they met.

When they started to ride again, Gendry stopped talking, and the silence became unbearably loud for Arya.

“Gendry.” Her voice was still raw from her sobbing and screaming the night before. “Tell me about smithing.” He looked at her, his expression one of surprise. Whatever he had expected her to say, it wasn’t that. But he must have recognized the look in her eyes, her need for something- anything- to break the silence. And he could talk about smithing for almost as long as Hot Pie could talk about baking. So Gendry smiled softly, sadly, and began to talk.


The next few days Arya felt like a zombie. Gendry took care of her, making sure she ate, talking to her incessantly, and holding her close at night. She didn’t feel like herself, and she didn’t care. She didn’t want to be an orphan with only two family members left, if they were even still alive. She wanted to be no one. She didn't know where she would be if she didn't have Gendry, if she would even be alive anymore. Sometimes Gendry would try to talk to her about her family. She figured he was trying to get her to cheer up by reminding her of the good times, but she was afraid to open the floodgates, so she would just give him a look and he would return to rambling about smithing. By now, Arya could open a shop of her own.

And then.

And then, as they were riding along, Arya heard someone say the name Stark. It slowly dawned on her that the group of men they were passing by were talking about her mother and brother. And their involvement in her family members' deaths. She turned sharply, staring at the men, studying them. Yes. She remembered them. The loud one wasn’t lying, he was beside her brother when they paraded him around on a horse with Grey Wind’s head sewn to his body. The others were  at the Twins too.

The numbness was replaced with anger, and Arya saw red as she slid off her horse. Gendry said something to her, but she didn’t hear what it was.

“What do you want?” The man speaking spat at her.

“Mind if I keep warm?”

“Fuck off.” She felt a muscle in her face twitch, but kept going with her innocent little girl act.

“But I’m hungry.”

“Does ‘fuck off’ mean something different where you’re from?” The man asked snidely.

“I’ve got money.” Arya took out the coin Jaqen H'ghar had given her.

“What kind of coin is that?” Now she had his attention.

“It’s worth a lot.” She flicked the coin into the dirt. “Sorry.”

“You little shit.” The man bent to get the coin, and Arya attacked. She let her rage loose, put it into every stab of her dagger. She was so focused on hurting him that she forgot the other men around the fire until she heard the sound of them drawing their steel. She turned to face them, but then there was Gendry standing between her and the rest of them. Still protecting her, always protecting her. But Gendry wasn’t as good with his sword as she was with her dagger.

Arya sidestepped him, challenging the other men as he crossed blades with one. Even as she fought with all she had, she knew it wasn’t enough. There were three of them, and Gendry was losing. If she had Needle it might have been a different story, but all she had was a heavy sword and small dagger from the Brotherhood. Arya didn’t care too much if she died, but now Gendry was involved as well. And she couldn’t let him die. Especially not fighting for her.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw that the man fighting Gendry was about to strike a fatal blow. She lunged to the side and caught his sword against her own, just as Gendry drove his sword through the man’s bowels. She shouldn’t have doubted him. His inexperience with the sword made him unpredictable, and in this case that saved his life. But she couldn’t think of that right now, because her rash movement left her open to attack from the remaining two. And then there was a growl and a blur of grey and white fur, and, with a lot of blood and screaming, a third man died. Arya easily finished off the fourth, who was too busy staring in horror at the large direwolf tearing apart his compatriot to really fight back. Gendry was also staring, wide eyed, but Arya stood calmly. The direwolf turned to the couple, baring her teeth in a growl.

“Nymeria.” Arya’s voice was gentle, and she knelt and reached out a (slightly bloody) hand to her old companion. The wolf stared at her a moment longer before butting her head against Arya’s hand. “We’re going north, to the Wall Nym. Come with us.” As Arya spoke, a pack of wolves appeared out of the trees, all staring at Nymeria, who was clearly their leader. Nymeria licked Arya’s palm and gave a whine, but then turned away from Arya, beginning to feast on the man she had killed. A jolt of sadness jolted through her, but then Arya smiled. If I was a wolf, I would want to live in the wild, leading my own pack. She thought to herself. But I’m a Stark. I’ll find Jon. I’ll avenge my family. And I’ll take back the North from those ironborn cunts. She straightened and walked towards the horses.

“That was your wolf? Nymeria?” Gendry asked. For his part, he seemed to be taking the events of the past few minutes in stride. Arya nodded.

“But she’s not mine anymore. She’s her own.” She gave him a soft smile, the muscles of her face feeling strange after the days of disuse. “Nice fighting back there. We should practice more though, so we’re more prepared the next time.” Gendry nodded, clearly just happy that she seemed to be returning to normal.

Arya Stark of Winterfell was back. And she was going to make everyone who wronged her and her family pay.

Chapter Text

“There’s some money in the saddlebags, why don’t we stop at that inn and get something to eat?” Arya suggested. Gendry pursed his lips, and Arya recognized his worried face.

“What if someone recognizes you?” Arya studied the horses in the stable out front.

“None of those horses are the Hound’s. And my own mother wouldn’t recognize me as Arya Stark of Winterfell looking like this. Come on, I’m hungry.” Gendry reluctantly agreed, and moments later they were tying up their horses and walking into the inn.

The first thing Arya noticed was the crying serving girl being groped by one of the men. The second thing she noticed was Polliver. And he still had Needle at his side. Gendry grabbed her forearm, clearly wanting to leave, but it was too late. Everyone had noticed them, and Arya doubted they would be allowed to leave so easily. Besides, she had a name to cross off her list.

Gendry and Arya sat at an empty table, and Arya took in their surroundings. Five soldiers, a frightened innkeep and the crying serving girl. There were too many soldiers for Arya and Gendry to just attack, even if the soldiers were a bit drunk it would be too close of a fight to risk.

“Pretty little girl.” Polliver leered at her. Huh. That could work. Gendry’s grip on Arya’s arm tightened as Polliver turned to him. “How much for a turn?” Arya gave a tinkling laugh, grabbing and squeezing Gendry’s hand as a warning sign to not say anything noble and start a fight.

“Well?” The man grunted at Gendry, who was angrily clenching his jaw. “How much to fuck your whore?”

“Now ser-” Arya started sweetly, trying to remember the way the whores she had seen acted and embodying that. Before she could say much, Polliver cut her off.

“The men are talking sweetling.” Arya laughed again.

“You won’t get anywhere talking with him. He gets all jealous.” She wrapped her arm around Gendry, and laid her other hand against his chest, toying with the ties on his tunic. “Doesn’t like to share me.” The expression on Gendry’s face made it clear that he had no idea what she was doing.

“Is that so?” Arya nodded. “And you sweetling? Do you like to be shared?” Arya choked down the bile rising in her throat and forced herself to giggle.

“I don’t mind at all.”

“What’s your name?”

“Pia.” Arya looked back at Gendry as she gave the fake name, and saw understanding in his eyes. She knew he would recognize the name, just as she knew Polliver, who had fucked Pia at Harrenhal, would not.

“I don’t like this.” Gendry told her. Polliver laughed in his face.

“He’s just afraid you won’t want his cock anymore once you see mine.” Gendry tensed beside her, but held his tongue. The look in his eyes was murder.

“He’ll be alright.” Arya promised, rising from the table. “Let’s go find a room. He’s upset enough already, he doesn’t need to see it too.” She simpered, slipping away from Gendry just as his hand started to close on her wrist. He was much stronger than her, so if he caught her she wouldn’t be able to get away, and that would ruin her plan.

It was easy to lead Polliver away from the other men, back into another room. Easy to make him believe she was undoing his britches while she took back Needle. And easy to drive the sword up into his abdomen. Polliver’s eyes widened, and Arya caught him as he fell, laying him down gently so the others wouldn’t hear a thud. He wasn’t dead yet, but he was gasping for breath. Maybe I punctured a lung. She mused, drawing the sword out of him and slashing his thigh deeply, painfully.

“Something wrong with your leg boy?” She asked him. Polliver stared up at her, still wheezing for breath. “Can you walk?” She wanted him to be afraid when he died. “I have to carry you?” She could see the confusion in his eyes, could see it adding to his terror. She brought Needle up to her face and examined it. “Fine little blade.” She pressed the tip of the sword against his throat, and he put up his hands in surrender. The stupid cunt is already dying, and he wants to surrender? Coward. “Maybe I’ll pick my teeth with it.” Arya saw understanding in Polliver’s eyes as he was finally able to recognize her, remember the night he stole Needle from her. And then she watched as he choked on his own blood.

Then she quietly waltzed out of the room and back into the dining area. Gendry saw her immediately and relief washed over his face. Everyone else was too busy drinking, stuffing their faces and harassing the serving girl to notice her. At least, not until she crept up behind another man and slit his throat with her dagger. By the time the soldiers realized what was going on, she was almost in position behind another one to stick Needle through his back to his heart. Almost. All of the sudden the room exploded with action. One man threw the serving girl from his lap to the ground, unsheathing his sword as he did so. The one Arya was about to kill whirled on her, immediately putting her on the defense. Gendry challenged the third man.

The man Arya was fighting had clearly drunk too much, slowing his reflexes and giving Arya a huge advantage. She killed him quickly enough, but in the meantime the other two had ganged up on Gendry. She rushed over to help him, a jolt of panic shooting through her when she heard him give a shout of pain. Her panic was lessened when she saw that Gendry was uninjured enough to throw a bench at one of the men he was fighting, knocking him to the ground. Arya quickly drove her sword through the man’s heart, and saw Gendry punch the other man in the face, a loud crack informing them that he broke his nose. Gendry used the man’s distraction from the pain as an opportunity to drive his sword through the soldier’s bowels, killing him. Then Gendry sat down heavily, panting, and Arya rushed over to him. “Are you alright?” She bent over him, concerned, and brushed his hair off of his face. He clutched her arm tightly.

“Don’t you ever, ever, go off alone with a murdering rapist like that again, you hear me? I want you to promise me Arya. Promise me.” She stared at him, wide-eyed, as he glared up at her. That was what he was concerned about? She had that part of the situation entirely in control. But, she supposed it really wasn’t too much to ask.

“I promise.” She breathed.

“Good.” And he pulled her into his arms and kissed her.

Chapter Text

The innkeep and his daughter, the serving girl, were extremely grateful to Gendry and Arya for ridding them of the soldiers, and offered to give them food for the road. As grateful as they were, they were happy to see the two leave, and Gendry was eager to leave anyways.

He went to ready the horses while Arya spoke with the serving girl and left the innkeepers some of the coins she stole from the corpses of the dead soldiers. Untying the horses was slow work, since the wound he had received on his torso made it painful to raise his left arm. Not that he would let Arya know that. He glanced down, but it was hard to see how deep his wound was, what with all the blood (his own and the soldiers’) covering his jerkin.

Arya soon joined him outside, tying two small packs to her horse before helping him finish readying them both. They rode north for only a few hours before Arya suggested they stop and make camp by a trickle of a stream. Gendry tried to help tie up the horses, but Arya ordered him to sit and did it herself. She brought both of the packs from the serving girl with her when she knelt in front of Gendry.

“Shirt off.” He looked at her, confused. Arya sighed.

“I know that you’re hurt Gendry. I thought it would be best to put some distance between us and the inn before treating it, so you better not have been stoically suffering through a serious injury.” She started to remove his shirt, and Gendry was surprised by how gentle she was being. Her tone was brusque, but he could tell that she was worried about him. Once they had eased his shirt off, she dunked a clean cloth into the shallow creek and dabbed at the dried blood on Gendry’s torso. She sighed with relief when it became apparent that the wound wasn’t too deep, and went to the pack, producing a wineskin and handing it to him.

“Drink.” She commanded. “It’ll help with the pain.”

“I’m not in pain.” Arya glared at him, and he drank. After a long draught, Arya took the wineskin from him and ordered him to lie back on her cloak, which she had laid neatly behind him. She sat close beside him, examining his wound.

“Thank the gods it’s not too deep. I was afraid I would have to use a Needle.” Gendry sat up.

“What do you mean? What would you need your sword for?” He demanded, concerned. Arya rolled her eyes at him.

“Not my sword Needle, a needle. Like one you use to sew. I asked the serving girl for one, I was afraid you might need stitches.”

“Do you even know how to sew?” Arya placed a firm hand on his chest and pushed him back into a lying position.

Yes I know how to sew. I can do it well enough to close a hole at least.” As she treated his wound they lapsed into silence, made somewhat awkward from the tension between them. Injury or not, Gendry was intensely aware of Arya’s touch on his bare chest, and if the light flush high on her cheekbones was any indicator, she was affected as well. After a while she pulled him back into a seated position so that she could wrap a length of cloth around him to act as a bandage.

“Does it make your blood hot?” She asked. Her tone was bold, but she kept her eyes fixed on her work. Gendry raised his eyebrows and took another sip of wine.

“Does what make my blood hot?”

“Killing. I’m just asking because you kissed me, and you haven’t done that in a while.” She was trying to sound nonchalant, but her blush was spreading. “I was wondering if it was the fighting that made you want to.”

“I always want to kiss you.” Gendry wasn’t sure if he wanted to blame his honest words on the wine, the blood loss, or the fact that killing did make his blood hot and part of him wanted to let her know. He thought he heard her breath hitch, but she looked up at him with a familiar fierceness.

“Then why don’t you?”

“Why don’t I what?” He was too busy trying to memorize the planes of her face to focus on what she was saying.

“Why don’t you kiss me if you want to?” She sounded frustrated.

“Well, why don’t you kiss me?” He retorted. Arya blinked at him and opened and closed her mouth, searching for words.

“It’s not ladylike.” She finally said. Gendry gaped at her for a moment before roaring with laughter. This woman had just murdered four men. She had pretended to be a whore to get one of them alone. She was better skilled with Needle than a sewing needle. She shoved him and yelled whenever he used her proper title. But she wouldn’t kiss him because it wasn’t ladylike.

Arya flushed darkly at his laughter and pushed him. He was so weak from laughter that her light shove knocked him backwards, but he caught himself on his elbows. Gendry grabbed her arm as she shifted to move away from him and pulled her against him. Still laughing, he kissed her soft, pouting lips. When they broke apart, she was smiling too.

“You’re the most ridiculous little fool I’ve ever met.” He told her proudly.

“Shut up.” Arya pressed her lips against his once more. He kissed her hungrily and sat up, holding her in his lap as their tongues battled. Gendry buried one hand in her hair, placing the other on her waist, his thumb tracing small circles on her abdomen. He left a trail of kisses down her jaw, sucking lightly on her neck as he made his way to her collarbone. He made a discontented noise against her skin when he felt her start to move the lower half of her body away from him, but was quickly satisfied when he realized she was just shifting so that she could straddle him and sit more comfortably. She ground against his growing erection, and Gendry moaned, biting lightly on the skin of her collarbone.

“Does it make your blood hot?” He smirked. She answered him by smiling wolfishly at him and grinding against his growing bulge once more. Gendry moved his hand from her hair to the front of her tunic, clumsily undoing the ties that held it on her. When Arya realized what he was doing she helped him, her slim fingers much more deft than his own. Once the ties were undone, Gendry pulled her tunic off more roughly than he meant to, but Arya just giggled at his obvious eagerness. He was enthralled by her perfect, pale breasts. He pressed open mouthed kisses over her chest, reveling at the little squeak Arya made when he swirled his tongue over one of her pink, pebbled nipples. When he rolled them over so that he was hovering above her he was vaguely aware of a slight pang in his chest as he supported his weight in his arms, but was too drunk on wine and Arya to really notice. He was so busy worshiping her tits that he didn’t notice her untying his breeches and small clothes until he felt her hand wrap around his hard cock.

“Arya.” He groaned, drawing back so he could look at her face. She smiled at him, a wicked twinkle in her eye, before placing one hand on the back of his neck and pulling him back down to kiss her again. Her other hand was busy slowly pumping up and down his cock. When he drew back from the kiss again, Arya was frowning. Before he could ask what was wrong, she moved her hand from his cock to her mouth, licked it, and wrapped it around his length once more, now able to stroke him with less friction.

“Much better.” She purred, kissing his neck. He almost came then and there. Instead, he shifted his weight to one arm and started unlacing her breeches with the other. Impatient, he only managed to loosen them before slipping his hand under her small clothes to cup her sex. When he slowly stroked her wet folds, Arya gasped. He leaned down and lightly bite the top of her breast while slowly pushing one finger inside of her, and Arya let out a moan that he would do anything to hear again. He drew his finger out, then pushed it back in, slowly at first, then faster. Arya started bucking her hips against his hand, matching the rhythm of his fingerfucking. She pressed her lips against his shoulder and bit down, sucking on the skin while pumping his cock faster and faster.

“Oh gods. Arry, I’m gonna-” Before he could get the words out he came, spilling his seed on Arya’s stomach. As he came, he made a ‘come-hither’ motion with the finger inside Arya, eliciting a loud moan.

“Oh Gendry yes there!” Arya threw her head back, exposing the smooth arch of her pale neck to him. She stopped pumping his cock after he rode out his orgasm, instead clinging to his bicep with one hand, the other splayed flat against his chest, and he leaned on his side, slipping another finger inside her and reaching up to caress her breast, running his calloused thumb over her pink nipple. Soon Arya’s whole body was shuddering as she cried out his name in moans and pants. As she came, the hand on his chest clenched, and she lightly scraped her fingernails over his skin as she clenched her hand. Finally she stilled, breathing heavily, and leaned up to kiss his cheek.

They laid entangled with each other for a little while, until finally their breathing evened out and Gendry rose to grab a cloth to wipe his seed off of Arya’s abdomen. She made a noise of discontent when he moved away from her, but her pout disappeared when he kissed her softly. And she positively beamed at him when he brought her some food. He teased her about giving him a matching wound on the right side of his chest and she giggled, but did have a slight look of contrition in her eyes.

They were no longer in a rush, so Gendry and Arya spent the remaining few hours of the day seated on her cloak on the ground, somehow managing to always stay touching each other. They ate, and talked, and just lied beside each other. Gendry had tucked himself back into his breeches, and Arya had laced up her own breeches, but made no move to pull on her tunic. Not that Gendry minded.

It had been a long day, and Arya laid her head against Gendry’s chest almost as soon as night fell, her even breathing telling him she had drifted off to sleep. He pulled his cloak over them as a blanket and kissed the top of her head, wondering what he had done to deserve the friendship of this girl who he so adored.

Chapter Text

“We can stop here for tonight, take some time to spar.” Gendry suggested, indicating a spot a several yards to their left that had a clearing large enough to give them some room. Arya agreed, and they lead the horses off the trail, brushing them down and giving them plenty of food and water. They had gotten an early start that day, and it was just about time to give the horses a break. Besides, Arya was eager to spar since Gendry’s wound was finally healed and she didn’t have to worry about reinjuring him.

“You ready?” Gendry asked with a grin, picking up one of the swords that they had stolen from the soldiers they had killed. They had left a one at the inn for the innkeep to use as protection, but had kept the rest for themselves. Gendry had insisted that ‘good steel always comes in handy.’ By the way he had carefully examined each sword, she knew he missed his days at the forge.

“I was born ready.” She told him, settling into her waterdancing stance. As they practiced, she marveled at how much Gendry had improved since they had started practicing. He had proper form now, and was much quicker than he used to be, although still slow compared to her. After a while, they took a step back.

“We should get you a war hammer. I bet you’d be amazing with it.” Arya panted. “You’re better with the heavier sword.” She noted. Gendry grinned broadly at the compliment.

“Thank you, milady.” She narrowed her eyes, but couldn’t keep the smile off her face.

“Don’t call me that.” With the clang of steel on steel, they were at it again. After a while, Arya slipped a foot behind his ankle as he took a step back, tripping him. He surprised her by catching her arm just before he fell and yanking her down on top of him, and she let out a little squeak as she fell.

“You cheated.” Gendry panted. Arya pushed herself up so she was seated on his hips, straddling him.

“All’s fair in love and war.” She smirked.

“And which is this?” He quirked an eyebrow up at her. She knew he wasn’t expecting a real answer to that question. The real answer. Because she didn’t think he knew that she was falling in love with him. She couldn’t bring herself to say it, but she had a few ideas on how to show it. Arya bit her lip and ground her hips against his.

“You tell me.” Gendry leaned up to kiss her, but Arya pushed him back down, a teasing glint in her eye. He raised his eyebrows at her and easily rolled them so he was on top, cleverly moving away from the swords.

“Hey!” Arya protested. He kissed her deeply.

“All’s fair in love and war.” He quoted back at her. She growled and wrapped an arm around the back of his neck, pulling him down in a kiss that was all teeth and tongues clashing. She wrapped her legs around his waist and pulled his body flush against her own, moaning into his mouth when he trailed his hand up her side to her breast, groping her over the fabric of her tunic. Her own fingers tore at his leather jerkin, desperate to get it off. It seemed crazy that mere weeks ago she had been wondering if he even liked girls at all, wondering if he liked her at all. The answer to that was now pressed hard against her.

She kissed his neck in the place that always made him moan and his skin tasted salty, a remnant of their earlier sparring. The reminder just made Arya wetter, and she gyrated her hips against his. Gendry pulled slightly away from her and pulled her tunic off, then just gazed at her for a moment. Arya felt a blush creep across her cheeks, but before she could say something and properly ruin the moment Gendry’s lips were back on hers, preemptively shutting her up. She wrestled him out of his jerkin before moving her deft fingers to his breeches, making sure to stroke him while untying the laces. He helped her wiggle out of her own breeches before dipping his mouth to her breasts, his right hand slipping between her thighs and teasing her wet core.

“Gendry-” she panted. “Gendry I want- gods- I want to feel you.” She felt him smile against her skin as he slipped a finger into her. She moaned in spite of herself, but she was determined. “No, Gendry I want to feel you.” She lightly squeezed his cock as she stroked it to further clarify what she meant. He immediately pulled back, staring at her with wide eyes.

“Arya we can’t.” He said desperately. What in the seven hells?

“What do you mean we can’t? Don’t you want to?” She asked with a furrowed brow. Gendry closed his eyes tightly and took a deep breath.

“Of course I want to Arry but… you’re still a lady.”

“And you’re still a stupid bull!” She hit him in the arm, and he didn’t even pretend to be surprised by the outburst, which made her madder. She wanted to hit him again, but took a deep breath and changed tactics. How would Sansa deal with this? Sansa would wait until her wedding day like a right proper lady. How would Bella?

“Gendryy.” She made her voice a moan, and slowly began stroking his cock again. His breath hitched, and Arya could tell from the look in his eyes that he knew she was trying to play him. She could also tell that it was going to work.

“We shouldn’t… you should wait for… lord husband.” In the past several days Arya had got very good at knowing what he wanted, and was now using that knowledge to tease him as she slowly stroked up and down his cock, tracing a swirling pattern on the tip with her other hand. She heard him let out a soft moan as she bucked her hips, pressing her wet cunt into his rough hand, and she knew she had him. She leaned up, her lips barely brushing his ear.

“No featherbed for me.” She murmured teasingly, lightly nipping his earlobe. He let out a low growl that sent tingles through her entire body and kissed her hard.

“You’ll be the death of me wolf-girl.” He told her, letting her move his hips to align his cock up with her entrance. Her smugness lasted up until he slowly pushed into her. For fuck's sake. Her mother and her septa had told her it would hurt, but Arya always thought that was just a tale they told to scare young girls out of becoming too friendly with young boys.

“What’s wrong? Did I hurt you?” Gendry caressed her cheek, concern written clearly in his eyes, and Arya realized she had frozen.

“No! No, I’m fine. Just… go slow.” She pulled him down to kiss her, partially so he couldn’t see her face. She wanted to curse loudly, but if she let him know it hurt, he would never agree to this again. And his fingers had been mildly uncomfortable at first, Arya was sure this would get better too. For the first few slow pumps in and out, all Arya could think of was how grateful she was that a man as big as Gendry could be so gentle. That thought slowly but surely faded as it started to feel good… really good. Arya moaned and began to move her hips in time with him, and Gendry groaned her name loudly. His rough hands caressed her skin as he moved them up to her breasts once again, eliciting a small cry from her when he flicked his thumb over her nipple. As she moved her hips more enthusiastically, Gendry began to pump into her faster, going deeper with each thrust. When he hit a certain spot Arya tensed again, but this time it was with pleasure. He had made her cum before, but it was different than this. This was much better. She threw her head back, crying out his name while her cunt tightened around his hard cock. He had his jaw clenched tightly, and as soon as Arya’s orgasm had passed he pulled out of her, immediately spilling his seed on her stomach. Her smug smile was back when she saw the awed look on his face, and when she realized that he had been waiting for her to finish before allowing himself to cum.

He rolled onto his side beside her, panting for a few moments before getting up to fetch a rag to clean her up. The sun had set while they had been fucking, and Arya imagined the darkness was what was taking him so long. He stumbled and cursed on his way back, but soon returned with their blankets and the saddlebag of food. He reverently wiped her stomach clean before easily lifting her and laying her back down on the blanket instead of the cold ground.

“One of these days I’m going to say no to you and actually stand by it.” He told her, wrapping an arm around her and pulling her close to kiss her forehead. She laughed.

“Why would you ever want to do that?”

Chapter Text

Spending the day on horseback after losing her virginity was not high on Arya’s list of things to repeat. She did her best to hide her discomfort from Gendry, but judging by the concerned looks he was shooting her, he noticed. It was nearing nightfall when they saw a small inn up ahead.

“Do you think this one is safe? We never do seem to have much luck with inns.” Gendry noted. Arya shrugged, observing herd of small children running around outside.

“Seems harmless enough. The kids wouldn’t be so happy if there were soldiers. Besides, there are no horses stabled. Worst case scenario, we could run.” Arya pointed out.

Gendry weighed her wirds and shrugged. “We could risk it. Get something good to eat, have a real bed for once.” She sighed at the idea. A real bed again would be heaven. With a grin, she followed Gendry down the road to the inn. A group of girls were standing on the porch, watching their arrival. The eldest of them, who was about ten, said something to one of the younger girls, who ran into the inn.

Arya was so intent on observing this that she hadn’t noticed how quickly Gendry dismounted and tied up his own horse. As a girl a little older than Arya emerged from the inn, Arya was surprised by Gendry placing his hands around her waist to help her dismount her horse. She batted his hands away and jumped off, frowning at him.

“I can do it myself.” She snapped.

“I know, sorry.” He offered her an apologetic grin, and her irritation faded. She’d been snapping at him all day, in a good mood one moment and annoyed the next. She knew it was because she felt vulnerable from being so uncomfortable, and she figured Gendry knew that too, which was why he was being so easygoing about it. That, and she had a sneaking suspicion that he thought it was cute when she was angry. Not that he would ever dare say that to her.

“You have any open rooms?” Gendry asked the girls as they approached the porch.

 The older girl was staring at him with a hard look on her face, and it was the younger who answered. “You got money?” Gendry smiled.

“Aye. Is that a yes?” The older girl went inside without saying anything, and the younger girl shrugged.

“Sure. Jeyne will be serving dinner within the hour. You want one room, or two?” Gendry flushed slightly at the question, and Arya couldn’t help but grin at his embarrassment.

“Just the one.” The young girl nodded and led the way into the inn, going behind the bar and grabbing a key. As she began to show them to the room, the older girl, Jeyne, poked her head out from the kitchen.

“You, girl. Come here for a moment. Help me with the food.” Jeyne commanded. Arya was surprised, but shrugged and handed her pack to Gendry. He grabbed her forearm.

“Be careful.” He murmured quiet enough so the other girl couldn’t hear, concern written clear on his face.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine. Besides, I have Needle.” She smiled at him in an attempt to soothe him. He pursed his lips, but released her. She understood his concern, after all it was odd that the girls were separating them. That being said, Arya was crafty, and Gendry was strong, so she figured that if it was a trap they’d be able to get out. After all, they’d faced worse odds before.

When Arya entered the kitchen, Jeyne was quiet, just standing there and staring at her, analyzing her. “He give you that?” She finally asked, nodding to a scar on Arya’s forearm that she had earned from one of Polliver’s soldiers on the way to Harrenhal.

“No." Arya shook her head, surprised. "He and I were captured by the men who did. We escaped them. Together.”

“You didn’t look too happy with him earlier, when he was helping you off your horse.” Jeyne continued, obviously not convinced that Gendry was safe to have around. “He’s big, but we could put something in his food. Kill him, or just buy you time to get away from him.” Arya tried to fight the smile growing on her lips. She liked this girl.

“I was just annoyed because I didn’t want his help then, he’s always very kind to me.” She tried to assure her. She had seen firsthand the damage that Gendry could do, and he was quite fearsome when he was angry… but the thought that he would ever do her harm was almost laughable.

I thought he looked nice.” The younger girl entered the kitchen and rolled her eyes at her sister. “Jeyne doesn’t trust men.” She told Arya conspiratorially. Jeyne frowned at that.

“And why should I? Even the Bro- they don’t leave anyone here with us to protect the children, and every few weeks when they come back around they try to spirit me away with them. ‘To help care for their wounded’ they pretend.” Jeyne scoffed. “To help warm their beds, more like. Anguy especially, he thinks he’s so charming.”

“Anguy’s nice! He likes you.” The younger girl protested. “I don’t know why you were so rude to him yesterday.” Jeyne rolled her eyes.

“Oh come now Willow. Men only like killing and fucking.” She nodded to Arya before turning back to the stew she was preparing, angrily chopping up carrots. “You should keep that in mind with your man.” Arya just blinked at her, trying to digest all that she had just heard. She managed to excuse herself and headed in the direction she had seen Willow and Gendry go earlier, in search of Gendry and their room.

“Arry!” He called to her from his seat on the bed, polishing his broadsword. She closed the door behind her and seated herself close beside him.

“Call me Nan, like at Harrenhal.” She whispered to him. “Gendry, I think they’re protected by the Brotherhood. The older girl, Jeyne, started to say it, and then she was talking about Anguy.” Gendry frowned at her.

“The Brotherhood? Should we leave? Do you think they’ll be showing up soon?” She shook her head.

“No, apparently they only come around every few weeks, and Jeyne said Anguy was here just yesterday trying to charm his way into her bed.” Gendry made a loud ‘humph’ noise at that, as if he wasn’t surprised. Arya had nearly forgotten about his jealousy.

“What did they want with you anyways?” He asked.

“Oh, that.” Arya waved her hand as if it didn’t matter. “Jeyne was just wondering if I wanted them to help me kill you. She saw me push you away earlier and was concerned.” Gendry was gaping at her, and she kissed his cheek. “I set her straight, don’t you worry. I told her you’re very good to me.” Gendry still looked slightly uneasy, but before they could discuss anything more, they heard Willow shout that supper was ready.

Chapter Text

Down in the main room, Jeyne led a prayer of grace before letting the children dig in to the food. The adults, or rather, oldest children, ate mostly in silence, but the younger children were loud, swiping food from each other’s plates and talking too much. One of the boys was going on about how he wanted to learn to fight proper, and was hoping Anguy could teach him, but Willow silenced him with a whack from a wooden spoon and significant look. After supper, Gendry and Arya tried to help Jeyne and Willow clean the dishes up.

“You any good with that sword?” Willow asked Gendry, who had his broadsword tucked into his belt.

He shrugged and nodded to Arya. “She’s better with hers.” Willow’s eyes glimmered, and Jeyne looked up at Arya, interest clear in her eyes.

“Is that true?” Willow asked excitedly. Arya shrugged humbly.

“I’ve had more practice. Why?”

“We could do with some protectors around here. You could have stay here for free, if you wanted.” Willow suggested.

“We really should continue with our journey.” Gendry told the girls, but the beginning of an idea was forming in Arya’s head.

“You have a forge here, don’t you?” She piped up. Willow nodded.

“Aye. It’s been unused for a while though.” Arya grinned at Gendry.

“He’s a blacksmith, or an apprentice anyways. If the forge is still usable, we could stay for a week or two while he repaired our weapons, maybe repair some for you. In the meantime, I can help around the inn, maybe teach the children how to fight.” Jeyne still looked interested, and Willow was thrilled.

“I’ve a dagger that’s a bit dull. You could fix it?” She asked Gendry. He shrugged.

“If I have the proper tools.” Jeyne and Willow agreed that Arya and Gendry (who they knew as Nan and the Bull) could check out the forge in the morning when there was decent light, and after a little more discussion, Gendry and Arya headed off to their room.

“I know I should have talked to you about it first, but I thought you’d like to be in the forge again-” Arya began as soon as the door was shut behind them, but Gendry cut her off with a quick kiss.

“I’d love to be working in the forge again. But I thought you wanted to get north as soon as possible.” He brushed a piece of hair back from her face and she shrugged.

“The north will still be there in a week or two. Besides, I’m not the only one on this journey.” Gendry’s eyes glimmered and he looked like he was about to say something, but instead he just pulled her close and kissed her hard. She smiled against his lips and started to walk them towards the bed without breaking the kiss, untying his jerkin as she went. The bed was much closer than she remembered, and she gave a soft ‘oh’ when Gendry sat down and pulled her onto his lap.

“My featherbed is deep and soft, and there I’ll lay you down.” He murmured in a teasing tone, flipping them so he was hovering over her, and Arya burst into giggles.

“And when did you become a singer?” She teased back, even as arousal grew in her core. He chuckled and shrugged, pulling his jerkin over his head.

“That Tom O’Sevens sang it so much I learned it.” He kissed her again, gently grinding his hips against hers as their tongues battled and his fingers untied her tunic, and all other thoughts were forgotten.

Usually, Arya would take charge, or at least try to, but this time she just let him take total control. And it was amazing.

He pulled off her tunic, his callused hands gently caressing her soft skin. She hummed in appreciation as he flicked his thumbs over her nipples, and her hum turned into a low moan when he bent his head and took one of her nipples in his mouth, swirling his tongue over the little nub. His large hands traced down her sides before deftly unlacing her breeches. Gendry trailed soft kisses down her inner thighs as he eased her breeches and smallclothes off.

When he pressed a kiss a kiss against her wet cunt, she sat straight up, eyes wide. He grinned up at her, his face framed between her legs, and pressed a firm hand against her stomach, pushing her back to lying down.

“Relax.” His voice was husky, and the feel of his breath against her heat sent shivers through her. Once she was horizontal again, he delved his tongue into her folds. Fingering was great. Sex was amazing. This was on another level entirely.

Arya stuck her fist in her mouth to muffle her needy cries as he tongue-fucked her, her other hand tightly fisting the sheets. After a few minutes he moved his mouth away, but before she could express her disappointment he moved his mouth to her clit, sucking lightly. It was all Arya could do to not scream out, and she felt Gendry firmly holding her hips down as she bucked against him. After she rode out her orgasm, Gendry laid beside her on the bed, grinning at her flushed face.

“That… how…?” She panted, trying to get her breath back. He shrugged.

“Tom O’Sevens talks a lot. I figured not everything he said was nonsense.” She rolled her eyes at him and reached for his breeches, but he stopped her hand and shook his head. She gave him a questioning look, but he was frowning at the bite marks on her hand, and began to gently caress to irritated skin. 

“Tonight’s about you.” He told her, soothing her minor injury. “I feel terrible, I want to make it up to you.”

“What are you talking about?” She furrowed her brow at him, and he gave her a look.

“Come on Arry, you know I’m not as thick as I look. I know you were in pain all day. I didn’t mean to hurt you-”

“You didn’t hurt me!” He gave her another look and she sighed. “Maybe I was... a bit sore today. But I’m fine!” He chuckled and kissed her cheek, then pulled her down so her head was resting on his broad chest and stroked her hair.

“I know love, you’re tough. But you’re not indestructible.” She grumbled at that, but deep down she knew he was right. So she let herself enjoy his caresses, and melted into his muscular arms.

That night, for the first time, she dreamed of herself as a proper lady, with a yellow gown of silk and a crown on her head. She danced with a tall prince with blue eyes and black hair while everyone looked on in jealousy. And then she and the prince ran into the forest together, away from prying eyes. They tore off their finery and took up swords, deciding on a life of adventure, together.

Chapter Text

They had been at the inn for a five days when Nymeria appeared again.

Gendry had been in the forge, working on the broadsword that he favored when he heard the smaller children shriek. He came running out, brandishing his hammer and saw the giant grey and white direwolf gracefully emerging from the forest. Behind Nymeria, he could see the heads of the rest of her pack.

As Gendry came rushing out of the forge, he caught a glimpse of Jeyne and Willow come rushing out of the inn, armed with an axe and a crossbow, respectively. A few of the children were crying and screaming, but several were in what Gendry proudly recognized as a waterdancing stance, brandishing their practice swords (which were mostly just sticks) bravely. Arya shouted to the rest of them that everything was okay, then slowly approached her wolf.

“Nym?” She reached out a hand, and the wolf nuzzled her palm, whining softly. Gendry let out a sigh of relief and walked over to Jeyne and Willow, who looked unsure.

“It’s fine, that’s Ar- ahhh that’s Nan’s wolf. She only comes around every now and again.” He cursed himself for almost slipping up and saying Arya’s name (for about the thousandth time) but seeing Nymeria had clearly awed the two sisters past noticing. Besides, he and Arya had each slipped up so many times that he knew the girls were suspicious.

Tansy, a seven year old girl who already hero-worshiped Arya and was an extremely dedicated student of hers, tugged on Gendry’s apron, her eyes as wide as silver dollars. “Nan can talk to wolves?” She whispered, amazed. Gendry grinned broadly down at the girl.

“Just that one. The wolf’s name is Nymeria, like-”

“The warrior queen! Nan told us about her.” Arya was much more attentive to the children that Gendry had expected her to be. She was almost… maternal. It seemed every night the children would gather around Gendry and Arya and listen to the stories they told. Gendry loved the feeling of almost having a family, and Arya always seemed happy after, although her happiness had a bittersweet undertone.

After about twenty minutes, Nym returned into the forest, her pack slinking away behind her, and Arya returned to her students.

“How did you learn to talk to wolves?”

“What did she tell you?”

“Why is she so big?” As she approached the group, she was inundated with questions. She glanced at Gendry and nodded towards the forge, mouthing the word ‘later.’ He nodded, understanding, and returned to the forge, leaving her to answer all of the children’s many questions, laughter in her voice.


 

That evening, after Gendry had cleaned (most of) the soot off of himself for supper, and after Arya spent another hour or so talking to the children about Nymeria- they were now calling Arya ‘The Wolf’ instead of Nan- the children finally went to bed, leaving Arya and Gendry in the common room with just Willow and Jeyne. Arya curled against Gendry before the fire, sipping her mead, when Jeyne and Willow finally took their places across from them, having just finished their chores from the evening.

“Willow, do you remember when Anguy came to visit a month or so ago?” Gendry noticed that Jeyne’s shrewd eyes stayed on him and Arya as she spoke.

“Aye, he was all upset because two of his friends had run off together. Big man named Gendry, and tiny little Arya.” Gendry tensed, and felt Arya’s body go stiff against him, but he did his best to keep his face stoic. “Course, I’d run off too if someone was trying to sell me.” The younger girl added.

“’Specially to a witch.” Jeyne agreed. “Anguy was awful worried. Apparently the two left at different times, and he was afraid they wouldn’t find each other. But he said as long as they found each other, he thought they’d make it.” Gendry was beginning to relax again. This wasn’t a threat then- even if it was, it’s not as though the Heddle sisters could easily hold Arya and Gendry here against their wills until the Brotherhood showed up- the girls just wanted them to know Anguy was concerned. He almost wanted to laugh at that. Concerned for Arya maybe. He and Anguy had sort of been friends, but Gendry hadn’t missed the looks Anguy gave the wolf-girl. Gendry sometimes wondered if Anguy would have pushed the issue, had he and Arya stayed. He often wondered whether Arya had really liked him before, or if she was just with him now because it was convenient, because he was there for her. Not that he would ever ask her that. He was too afraid of the answer.

“What made you think of that now?” Arya asked carefully, bringing him to the present. “Gendry and Arya I mean. Is Anguy coming back again soon?” Jeyne smirked.

“Arya was Arya Stark of Winterfell, Princess of the North.” The title hit Gendry in the gut. Somehow it had never occurred to him that Arya was a princess. It was bad enough she was a lady, but a princess. More feelings of unworthiness began to fill him. “There were rumors that her brother had a direwolf, a giant beast he could talk to. Apparently all the Stark siblings had one. Like the one that you knew today, Nan.” The yonger girl told Arya. Arya just smiled serenely and shrugged.

“What a coincidence.” Willow burst out laughing, but Jeyne’s smile matched Arya’s.

“Coincidence indeed.”

The conversation easily turned to Nymeria, and the sisters asked all the questions that children had forgotten. As the conversation continued, Gendry felt Arya relaxing, even as he was filled with more and more doubt. Not concerning the Heddles of course- he supposed they just wanted to let he and Arya know they were no fools. His doubt instead regarded Arya, and a voice that sounded an awful lot like hers asked if he would ever think he deserved her. He bitterly reminded himself that he never could.


 

Later, when Willow’s eyes began to close as she spoke, Gendry excused himself and Arya accompanied him to their room, stripping down to her smallclothes before crawling onto the bed beside him.

“Why are you acting so oddly?” She asked, poking him in the stomach.

“I’m not.”

“You are. Why?” He sighed, sitting up to remove his jerkin and breeches so he could just go to sleep.

“Why was Nymeria here? Last time she showed up you were in danger.”

“Is that what’s wrong?” Arya shrugged. “I think she wants us to leave soon. She kept whining and pulling me towards the woods. I promised her we’d go within a week, and she seemed to settle.” She sighed and leaned against him. “I just wish we heard more news.” He pressed a quick kiss to the top of her head.

“I’m sure Jon is fine up at the Wall. From what you’ve told me, he’ll be overjoyed to see you.” He laid back down and closed his eyes, but opened them once more when Arya poked him sharply in the cheek.

“You’re still being weird. Why?”

“I’m just tired.” He told her sullenly, batting her hand away. Her grey eyes narrowed.

“If this is about Anguy again, I hope you know you’re being ridiculous. Jealousy is so boring. Besides, we’ll be long gone by the time he gets back to the inn.”

“And if we weren’t?” The words left Gendry’s lips before he could stop them, but Arya just shrugged.

“Then he would see I’m happy with you and leave me alone. Willow said he’s keen on Jeyne anyways.” A warm feeling burst through Gendry when Arya said she was happy with him, but for some reason all of his insecurities were taking over this evening.

“And if he didn’t leave you alone?” He prodded. Arya furrowed her brow at him, apparently not understanding what he meant. Slowly understanding came over her face, and something that looked suspiciously like mirth filled her eyes.

“You don’t think- Gendry are you really that thick? You think I would want Anguy?”

“He always used to make you laugh.” He mumbled, averting his eyes and flushing.

“You’re so stupid!” She laughed. “Lots of people make me laugh, but you’re the only one I ever wanted.” She said it so casually, but it made his heart soar.

“But… why? You’re a princess Ar, and I’m-”

“A prince.” She told him fiercely. “A stupid prince, but a prince all the same.” She laid on top of him, placing a soft kiss against his lips. He sighed and carded his hand through her hair, deepening the kiss. She pulled away, kissing his jawline and brushing her lips against his ear. “It’s rather unfortunate really. I swore Jon when I went south I wouldn’t let myself fall in love with a prince.” She murmured, then pressed a kiss to his cheek and drew back so she could look at him. “I think he’ll forgive me for breaking that particular promise.” Arya grinned at him wolfishly as he stared at her, shocked by her words. He pulled her down to him and nuzzled her neck, almost laughing, suddenly happier than he ever had been before.

“I love you Arya.”

“That’s good. Otherwise this would be very embarrassing.” He laughed and rolled them over, leaning above her so he could kiss her. She loves me. He thought as she undid the ties on his smallclothes, moaning when he slipped a hand in her smallclothes to stroke her folds. She loves me. Arya wiggled out of her smallclothes and flipped them over, sitting back on her heels and leaning down to take him in her mouth. He groaned as she began to lick his shaft, and felt himself instantly become hard. He glanced down at her as she bobbed up and down on his cock, and almost lost it when he saw that she had slid one hand between her legs to touch herself.

“Come here.” He managed, pulling her up to kiss her. He could taste himself on her tongue, but all to soon she pulled away from him, straddling and lowering herself onto his cock.

“I love you.” She breathed as she began to slowly bounce up and down on him. A growl rose form his throat and he flipped them once more so that he was on top.

“I love you.” Gendry kissed her desperately as he pounded into her. “I love you I love you I love you.” He moved a hand to where they were joined and rubbed her clit, and they both quickly came together with a chorus of ‘I love you,’ calling out each other’s names.

After, as Arya laid with her head on his chest, she giggled. “You really didn’t know, did you? That I loved you?”

“How could I?” He asked stubbornly. “It’s not as though you-”

“Ran off alone with you? You’re right, I should have made it clearer.” He could practically hear her eyeroll, but she pressed a kiss to his chest. “Stupid, stubborn bull prince."

Chapter Text

“Nan!” Jeyne called from the inn as Arya was finishing up the children’s training for the day. “Come inside, Willow’s got a surprise for you.” Arya instructed the children to keep practicing for a bit before washing up for supper, putting Tansy in charge. The little girl was a fast learner and a natural leader, and Arya’s favorite of the orphans.

“What is it?” Arya asked as she followed Jeyne to the back of the inn where the Heddle sisters’ bedroom was.

“You’ll see.” The older girl’s eyes twinkled. “And don’t try to refuse it either, Willow’s been working for nearly a week on it, and she wants you to have it.” Before Arya could respond she was in the Heddles’ room, face to face with a beaming Willow. The younger girl gestured to the bed, where a dark green dress was laid out.

“I know you prefer to wear breeches, but the dress is thick, and it’ll be warmer as you keep traveling north.” Willow told her quickly, her tone equal parts proud and nervous.

“Besides, it’s not as though you can go on pretending to be a boy anymore, not with those curves or that pretty face.” Jeyne chimed in playfully. Arya could feel emotion welling up in her chest as she reached forward to finger the sleeve of the dress.

“It’s beautiful, but don’t you need-”

“It’s too small for me, and too big for Willow.” Jeyne told her firmly. “And besides, the Brotherhood gets us plenty of fabric to keep us and the children warm.” Arya opened and shut her mouth, unsure what to say. She settled for wrapping the sisters in a tight hug.

“Thank you.” She managed. “I’ll miss you two.” She had grown close to the sisters over the past week and a half, and would miss them terribly. She hoped she would see them again, after the wars were fought and the children were safe, but she feared it was unlikely. Finally Arya released them, and Jeyne brushed the hair back from Arya’s face in such a sisterly way it made her heart ache.

“Well, put it on!” Willow prompted excitedly. Arya giggled, and the Heddles helped her into the dress, arranging it just so. The wool dress was much simpler than the ladies’ gowns that Arya had been forced into when she was younger, and she could have gotten it on easily by herself, but she was glad for the sisters’ assistance.

“Huh. No one’s going to be mistaking you for a boy in that any time soon.” Willow noted. The dress fit very comfortably, although the bodice was a little lower cut than Arya was used to, having been designed in a more mature style. It fit snugly around her curves, and Arya wondered how Willow had managed to do so well without having her measurements.

“You’re a vision.” Jeyne told her proudly.

“It’s perfect. Thank you, really.” Arya hugged each of the sisters again. Before the moment could get too sappy, Willow announced that she was going to finish up preparing supper, and Jeyne went to follow.

“Go fetch the Bull for supper, would you Nan?” The older girl asked. “And try not to let him get the dress too sooty. Not yet at least.” Jeyne winked and was out the door before Arya could catch her. A light flush on her cheeks, Arya walked out to the forge, noting that the children were missing from the yard. They must have already gone to the river to wash up for supper.

“I’m almost done, this is the last piece.” Gendry told her, not turning around yet. He must have heard her slam shut the forge door.

“So we’ll leave tomorrow morning then?” She asked, raising her voice to make sure he could hear her over the hammering.

“Aye.” He used tongs to dunk a bit of steel into the bucket of water beside the anvil, and finally turned towards Arya. She bit her lip as he looked her up and down, and felt a small thrill go through her when she saw his eyes darken

. “And where did you get that?” He asked, his voice slightly husky.

“Willow made it for me.” She unnecessarily smoothed her skirts, something that she had noticed Sansa do whenever she flirted.

“You look nice. Pretty.” He flushed. “I mean, you always look pretty, but-”

“Thank you Gendry.” Arya laughed. “At least you’re not laughing at me this time.” He grinned back.

“But it’s okay for you to laugh at me?” He stepped towards her and pressed his lips over her own, but she stepped away from him before he could wrap his arms around her waist. He made a low moan of discontentment and frowned at her.

"You’re all sooty.” Arya explained. Gendry gave her a wicked grin and traced her jawline, no doubt leaving a trail of black behind.

“You don’t usually mind getting a little sooty. And I seem to remember rolling around with you on the floor of another forge the last time you were wearing a dress…” He leaned in towards her, his lips coming closer to her own, and Arya stepped away from him.

“And I seem to remember us rolling around like that because you were making fun of me and I was trying to hit you.” She shot back.

“You did hit me. Several times.” He laughed. “And I wasn’t making fun of you, I was flirting with you, I was just doing a terrible job at it.” Arya bit her lip. He looked good like that, laughing in the dim light of the forge, soot outlining his muscular biceps. She shook herself.

“Well anyways, Jeyne warned me not to get the dress all sooty the first time I wore it, and besides, supper is almost ready.”

“Mhmm.” Gendry’s eyes sparkled, and Arya was sure he was trying to hide a smirk.

“You need to wash up.” She told him, her voice losing its conviction.

“Of course.” Gendry took a step forward and threaded his fingers through her hair. She leaned up on her tiptoes to kiss him, and could feel his hot breath on her face when-

“Wolf! Bull!” Ben, a loud six-year old who was devoted to Gendry (and had attempted to apprentice under him, but was too small to lift the hammer) burst into the forge. “Wow Nan, you look real pretty.” He told her, eyes wide. Then he remembered his mission. “Jeyne said to fetch you two for supper. She said that since it’s your last night staying here, you have to spend it with us.” He grabbed Gendry’s hand, and the big man let the boy lead him to the river to wash up, mouthing ‘later’ to Arya, who was still slightly flushed when she got to the kitchen.

Jeyne burst out laughing when she saw her.

“Aren’t you a sight! At least you managed to keep the soot off the dress.” She wiped a smudge from Arya’s cheek. “Come on, help me serve.”


 

The rest of the night passed in a loud, colorful blur filled with loud laughter and a decent amount of wine. Arya hardly saw Gendry, he was more or less buried in a small pile of children who were desperate to hear just one more story, to spend as much time as possible with their favorite man. The little ones mobbed Arya too, and she keenly felt how bittersweet tomorrow’s departure would be. She would miss them all, but she was getting restless staying in one place for so long. Nymeria was growing more and more agitated by the day, trying to pull Arya with her into the forest. Even now, Arya could hear Nymeria’s whines from the surrounding woods. She needed to head north, and soon.

Finally the children couldn’t keep their eyes open any longer, and Jeyne and Willow sent them to bed. The Heddles went off soon after, and Gendry and Arya made their way to their own room. Gendry collapsed on the bed, fully clothed.

“I’m exhausted.” He told Arya, stretching out and closing his eyes. Arya stripped down to her smallclothes and carefully laid the dress over a chair in the room before she nestled against him, laying her head on his chest and tracing invisible designs on his abdomen.

“That’s too bad. I thought you had promised me we’d pick up where we left off earlier.” She let her hand drift down his stomach, but abruptly stopped just before reaching his breeches. “But if you’re too tired…” She shrugged and moved her hand back up his torso.

“It does seem a shame to waste our last night in a real bed for who knows how long. And since there’s not longer the threat of me dirtying your dress...” Gendry countered, rolling so he was hovering over Arya. He kissed her softly but deeply, threading his fingers through her hair. She let out a low moan when his other hand came up to knead her breast. She busied herself untying his jerkin and breeches, pushing him away from her temporarily so she could more easily pull them off. When she pulled him back down she nipped at his neck, and he laughed.

“Just because you’re called the Wolf doesn’t mean you have to bite like one.” He teased. She stuck her tongue out at him and sweetly kissed the spot she had just bitten.

“Better, Your Highness?” He shook his head and claimed her mouth with his own.

“No, but this is.” He clearly wanted to keep this night slow and sweet. Well, Arya could do that. It wasn’t that she didn’t like it slow, she just didn’t always have the patience. She switched their positions, straddling him and grinding against his cock as she trailed kisses down his jaw. With just their smallclothes separating them, she could easily feel his hardening length.

Gendry moved his hands to cover both of her breasts, lightly squeezing them and gently twisting her pebbled nipples. She moved her wet cunt up and down his member, letting him feel her wetness without quite giving him what he wanted.

“Arya.” His voice sounded slightly choked, and she knew all he wanted was to be buried deep in her, but she was rather enjoying teasing him. Anyways, it was his idea to go slow. He must have seen the sparkle in her eye, because the next thing she knew he had unlaced both of their smallclothes and dipped his fingers into her core, tracing agonizingly slow circles against her clit. Apparently, two could play at this game. She gasped and bit her lip, trying to hold out and remain in control.

It lasted about three seconds before she gave in, pulling off both of their smallclothes and sinking down onto his big cock. She loved the way it filled her, especially when she was on top like this. As she slowly bounced up and down, he bucked his hips beneath her, trying to get her to increase her pace. She happily obliged, crying out when he hit her in just the right spot again and again.

“Gendry… keep going… there…” She panted, letting her head fall back as she felt her orgasm about to hit.

“Wait.” He commanded, his hands moving back up to massage her breasts. “Look at me.” Unsure what he was doing, she obeyed, biting her lip hard to keep her orgasm at bay. “Now.” Gendry breathed, his dark blue eyes meeting hers as she finally allowed herself to release, her cunt tightening around his cock. She fought to keep her eyes open as she felt him release inside her as she rode out her orgasm, sending another wave of pleasure through her body. She had never felt so complete.

She finally collapsed against him, panting hard. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her forehead, and Arya thanked her lucky stars that Gendry was coming with her. She wasn’t sure she could make the journey without him.


 

They left early the next morning, hugging all the children at least a dozen times each and promising that they’d be back someday. Arya wondered if it was true. Jeyne and Willow helped them pack their things onto their horses, and Willow’s eyes sparkled with tears of joy as well as sadness when Gendry presented her with her fixed dagger. Finally Gendry went to the forge one last time, “to leave a gift for an old friend” he told the puzzled Heddles, and he and Arya were off on their horses, Nymeria bounding in front of them, clearly thrilled to finally be moving again.

Arya looked back and saw the Heddles waving at her, and some of the children running behind the horses as if trying to catch up. Her heart felt heavy, but Gendry took her hand in his.

“We’ll be back love.”


 

When Anguy arrived at the Crossroads Inn, he was greeted by the sight of a dozen children sparring with sticks. That in itself wasn’t so odd, but their skill and the fact that they seemed to be following a certain style was.

“That isn’t how the Wolf said to do it!” A seven year old who he believed was named Tansy scolded an older boy.

“You do it then if you’re so smart!” He shot back. The little girl executed a graceful movement that ended in a roll, and stuck her tongue out at the boy.

“Who’s the Wolf?” He asked, searching the crowd of children for unfamiliar faces. Perhaps the orphaned child of a knight had joined the group.

“Anguy!” The children swarmed him, trying to take his satchel.

“Did you bring us presents?” They asked, faces eager. He laughed.

“Of course! But you only get them if you tell me who this mysterious Wolf is.” Tansy’s face lit up.

“She was our teacher! She taught us how to defend ourselves and fight proper in case anyone dangerous comes to the inn while the Brotherhood’s away!” She explained excitedly. Anguy raised his eyebrows. A she-wolf?

“And why did you call her the wolf?” He asked.

“Because she had a giant one she could talk to! They left yesterday because they had to get moving north.” Anguy’s heart started beating faster and faster.

“They? Was she with someone?” Was it them? Were they still alive? Together?

“You mean the Bull?” Ben asked. “He sparred sometimes too, but it usually ended with him and the Wolf kissing.” The boy made a face, as if the idea of kissing a girl when you could be fighting was ridiculous and gross. “Mostly he stayed in the forge, mending their weapons.” A huge grin spread across Anguy’s face as Jeyne and Willow came out of the inn.

“He left something for you in the forge. Said you’d know what it meant.” Willow told him, shrugging. It was them! Thank the gods they were alright.

Anguy hurried off to the forge, neglecting even to tell Jeyne how pretty she looked in his excitement. When he got to the forge, he saw a single bodkin sitting on the anvil. Beaming, he picked it up to inspect it, and saw that it was an exact replica of the one he had been showing Gendry and Arya they day Gendry ran off.

The bastard finally got the girl. Anguy couldn’t help but feel jealous when he thought about it later that evening, despite the fact that he had seen it coming. He saw the way Arya had looked at Gendry. His jealousy quickly faded when Jeyne told him in a whisper after supper that when he left, she would go with him.

“To help care for the wounded.” She told him with a wink.

Chapter Text

Brienne and Pod were headed north, after being told by a chubby cook that Arya had run away with a blacksmith’s apprentice, and was probably headed north to ‘Winterhell.’ With the head start the young couple had, they would probably reach the north far before Brienne and Pod could catch up to them- especially since Pod had let their horses get away the night before- but they had no other leads, and north was as good a direction as any to head in.

She crested the hill to be greeted with the sight of a man and woman apparently sparring. The man was much taller and brawnier than the woman, but just as Brienne was about to step in to save her, she caught a glimpse of a wide smile on the face of the woman- who was really just a girl- and heard a shout of laughter coming from her. It was just a training session then. Brienne relaxed and began to watch the fight, but all the breath flew out of her when the fighting turned the man’s face towards her.

Renly. She felt as if she had just received a hammerblow to the heart. He can’t be Renly. Renly died in my arms. Heart racing, she took a step closer, squinting to get a better look at the couple. Now she could see that the man was much too young to be Renly, who had been a man grown at one-and-twenty. No, this was just a boy, perhaps six-and-ten. This boy was also much more heavily muscled than Renly, who had been lean and lithe. Whereas Renly always had an easy smile on his face, this boy’s grin was masked by a slight grimace. Perhaps the girl was giving him a run for his money?

Once Brienne got over the initial shock of seeing Renly’s ghost, she began to watch the fight again. The two certainly seemed fairly evenly matched. The boy was no doubt stronger, but the girl was much faster, although her skirts seemed to be slightly impeding her.

Pod came up the hill just in time to see the girl’s legs get tangled up in her skirts, tripping her. The girl let out a surprised cry as the boy, laughing, caught her and pinned her against a tree.

“Let go of her!” Pod demanded, sounding more confident than Brienne had ever heard him. He dropped their supplies and drew his sword, racing forward. The couple immediately sprung apart.

“Pod-” Brienne began, but the girl, who was now standing, albeit a bit unsteadily, on her own two feet, interrupted her.

“He wasn’t hurting me.” She told them, almost defiantly.

“We were just sparring.” The boy explained gruffly. He looked slightly embarrassed to have been caught, but the girl stood with her head held high, daring them to say something.

“I saw.” Brienne told them. “You’re not too bad. Either of you.” She began to walk towards them, and didn’t miss the girl’s glance at where their weapons were now lying on the ground, a few feet away from them. She’s suspicious. It was a good attribute to have in these days, especially for a young, pretty girl with only herself and a young boy for protection.

As she got closer, she examined the boy’s face. One of Robert’s bastards. Brienne thought. She glanced back at the pretty girl. Apparently with Robert’s appetites. With this closer view, she could see that his jaw was squarer than Renly’s, his face harder. Although they did have the same coal black hair and deep blue eyes.

“Something we can help you with?” The girl demanded, eyeing her coolly. She clearly did not care for the way Brienne was staring at her man.

“You have the Baratheon look.” Brienne informed the boy. His eyebrows shot up.

“A dangerous look to have these days, it would seem.” He replied casually. So he knew. Any commoner who didn’t know would have been surprised. And from that accent, Brienne could tell he was from King’s Landing, so he was quite a ways from home.

“What are you doing, so far from the King’s Road?”

“Sparring.”

“Traveling.” The two answered at the same time.

“What are you doing?” The girl challenged, looking from Brienne to Pod and back.

We’re looking for the Stark girls.” Brienne was shocked that Pod had answered- usually he let her do the talking- but when she looked at him she could see he had firmly fixed his gaze on the girl. How curious. Brienne couldn't remember him getting his head so turned before when there were pretty girls around.

“Lady Brienne is Catelyn Stark’s sworn shield, and she swore to her she’d get find her girls and bring them back safe.”

“Lady Stark is dead.” The girl said flatly. Pod flushed at the girl’s words.

“Well, yes, but that doesn’t release Brienne from her oath. Once we find the girls, we’ll offer them our protection.” He was speaking significantly, as if there was another meaning behind his words. As if he wasn't just talking to commoners.The girl took a small step back, and the boy shifted slightly as though to shield her with his body. Interesting. Brienne tried to remember the description of Arya and her blacksmith friend that the cook’s apprentice with the silly name had given them. She couldn’t remember all the details, but a glance at the boy’s right arm showed that it was slightly more muscular than the left, a telltale sign of a smith.

“Who are you?” The boy asked Pod, who had been staring at the girl. Surprisingly, her squire stood his ground as the bigger man glared at him. Was it jealousy that made the couple so protective of each other? Or fear of their true identities being found out? The only thing that did not make sense was the girl’s beauty. Her own mother had told Brienne that Arya lacked Sansa’s good looks, but the girl standing in front of her was a true northern beauty. Perhaps her looks had just taken some growing in to. Hot Pie had said the girl was pretty, but then he had been traveling with a group of men when he was with her, so it wasn’t as though he had much to compare her to.

“Podrick Payne. I’m Lady- I’m Brienne’s squire.” The girl’s eyes hardened with anger at the sound of his name.

“A little old for a squire, aren’t you?” She asked coolly. “Especially for someone with such a well-known surname.” That sealed it for Brienne. She took another step forward and rested a hand on her sword.

“And your surname?” She prompted. “It’s Stark, is it not?” The couple’s faces were almost entirely blank, except for a tinge of worry in the boy’s eyes, and a blaze of anger in the girl’s.

“Stark is almost as dangerous a surname as Baratheon.” The girl retorted.

“That’s a Lannister sword.” The boy suddenly blurted, finally able to see the pommel. “I’ve been looking at those for the past five years, and I’d bet my life on it. It’s Mott’s work.” He informed the girl before casting Brienne a suspicious glare.

“What do you want with the Stark girls?” Arya demanded.

“We just want to offer our p-p-protection.” Pod’s stutter had returned. Apparently, his confidence that Arya might want their protection had fled.

“A woman kept by the Lannisters and a relative of the man who killed Ned Stark want to protect the Stark girls?” Her bark of laughter lacked any humor.

“I am not kept by the Lannisters!” Brienne protested angrily, looking to the boy for help.

“Then where did you get the sword?” The boy asked in a level voice. Brienne felt color fill her cheeks.

“Ser Jaime. It’s called Oathkeeper, I swore to him I’d find-”

“So you’re bringing them to Jaime Lannister?” In a moment, both Arya and the boy- Gendry, the name popped into Brienne’s head- were armed.

“No!” Brinne took a deep breath. “Arya, listen to me. I just want to give you my protection. Your own friend told us you were headed north, he thought you might want our help.”

“What friend?” Gendry frowned.

“Hot- hot Pie.” Pod stuttered out. Brienne could have sworn she saw Arya roll her eyes, and there might have been a slight upturn to Gendry’s grimace.

“Of course.” Arya snorted under her breath. “Now, Arya Stark is dead, or married off to Ramsay Bolton, or whatever other rumor is going around now. Anyways, she isn’t here, and she isn’t going with you.” She and the boy started to slowly back away, towards where Brienne could now see horses tied to a tree.

“My lady, please, let me help you. I wish you no harm, I just want to protect you. Let us accompany you north.”

“We’re doing just fine without your help, thank you.” Gendry growled. The pair started to untie the horses, and Brienne took another step forward, to try to convince them, when a huge direwolf materialized out of the trees, baring its fangs at her and Pod. Brienne gasped and took a step back, and out of the corner of her eye she saw Pod jump about a mile in the air. They slowly backed away from the beast, until finally they heard a high whistle and the beast was gone, along with any trace of Arya and Gendry.

Chapter Text

Gendry hadn’t been all that worried by the knight and her squire, and that in and of itself worried him. Had the past few months really numbed him to such danger? It seemed almost funny to him that the two thought they could take Arya and him into custody, although he supposed they hadn’t known about Nymeria, and a young, seemingly untrained couple didn’t seem all that fearsome.

“And what an idiot that Hot Pie is, going around telling strangers our business!” Arya fumed. Since they had met Lady Brienne and Pod a few hours earlier, she had been alternating between silently seething in anger or ranting. It was honestly quite amusing.

“He never was a clever one.” Gendry commented. It was so like the chubby boy to blab like that, thinking he was being helpful.

It was getting dark, and he and Arry had ridden the horses hard that day, putting a decent amount of space between them and their would-be ‘protectors.’

“They didn’t even have horses!” Arya had ranted earlier. “How in the seven hells were they planning on transporting us? It’s not as though they knew we had horses. What, were we going to walk to- wherever they were planning on taking us?”

“Perhaps you should have asked them.” He’d teased her. She’d shot him a dirty look, but fell silent.

When they got to the campsite, Arya had dropped gracefully off her horse, but let out a surprised cry upon landing and fell to the ground. Gendry hurriedly dismounted beside her.

“Are you alright? What’s happened?” He demanded, trying to crouch beside her while also holding the reins to both of their horses. She waved him off.

“It’s fine, just my ankle. I think it might be sprained.” She waved him off, prodding her ankle gingerly. He blinked at her.

“When did you sprain your ankle? And why are you only just mentioning it now?” She waved him away again, and he went to tie up the horses nearby.

“When we were so unceremoniously interrupted and you dropped me.” She informed him from the ground.

“I only dropped you because you shoved me away.” Gendry defended himself, feeling terrible to have been (partly) involved in her injury. “Anyways, why didn’t you say something earlier?” She shrugged.

“It only hurt for a minute, but the adrenaline numbed it and then I was so annoyed I forgot.” Gendry rolled his eyes at that as he laid down their blankets several feet away from the horses.

“Only you would forget about an injury because you were pouting.” Arya gave him an appalled look.

“I was not pouting. I was annoyed!” Gendry gave her an amused look.

“You were pouting a little.” He walked back over to her and bent to pick her up, but she pulled away from him, folding her arms across her chest. When Gendry laughed she must have realized how much the pose made her look like a pouting child, because she huffily allowed him to pick her up and carry her over to the blankets he had laid out.

“I could’ve walked just fine.” She grumbled under her breath, sticking her leg out to the side as she began to build a fire from their stock of wood.

“I’m sure you could’ve. But then your ankle would have healed slower, or you could have injured it further. And that would only make you pout even more.” Gendry teased. Arya stuck her tongue out at him, but they fell into a comfortable silence as they set about preparing camp for the night, Arya doing as much as she could from her seated position. After they had finished their supper, she spoke again in an odd, thoughtful voice.

“Gendry?”

“Hmm?” He asked, looking into the fire and thinking about the ride ahead of them. Riding for so long wasn’t exactly his favorite thing in the world, and the break from it that their stay at the inn had provided had gotten him out of practice.

“Do you think they might have been telling the truth?” Gendry looked over at her, surprised.

“Do you?” She was gnawing on her lower lip, like she always did when she was thinking deeply.

“No… I don’t know. The Brotherhood said that my mother had freed the Kingslayer in an attempt to get me and Sansa back. Maybe…”

“Do you think your mother would have done that?” Gendry asked gently. Arya pursed her lips.

“I don’t know. Maybe. It was right after Bran and Rickon…” Arya sighed. “I never quite understood my mother. I’ve no idea what she would or wouldn’t have done. But trust the Kingslayer…” Gendry put a comforting hand on her back.

“Well, whether they were telling the truth or not doesn’t really matter, does it?” Arya cocked her head at him and he continued with his explanation. “You didn’t trust them, so that right there rules them out as allies. And like you said they didn’t even have horses. Besides, won’t be long now and we’ll be at the Wall with Jon, and you’ll have all the protection in the world.” He mussed her hair. “Not that you need much protecting.” She smiled smugly at that.

“Plus, this way I won’t have to watch that squire mooning over you day in and day out.” He added in an undertone. Arya raised her eyebrows at him.

“You want to talk about mooning over someone? Brienne looked at you as though you were the Warrior come to life.” She snorted.

“That’s ridiculous. If anything, I’m the Smith come to life.” He teased, a broad grin stretching across his face. Arya seemed to be trying to look stern, but a laugh bubbled up over her lips and she leaned her head against his shoulder. After a while their laughter slowly died out and they stared into the fire in comfortable silence.

“She did like you though.” Arya told the fire, her tone slightly hostile.

“So?” Gendry asked, confused.

“So nothing.” She retorted too quickly. “And she’s a good fighter.” She added it in such an undertone Gendry didn’t even think he was meant to hear it. It took him a minute to put together what was going on.

“Are you jealous?” He asked, dumbfounded. What in the seven kingdoms did Arya Stark have to be jealous of anything about?

No. I am not jealous.” Arya folded her arms across her chest and once again looked every inch a petulant child. Gendry actually laughed.

“You are! Why are you jealous of her? You weren’t jealous of Jeyne or Willow.” He pointed out.

“Should I have been?” She whirled on him, and he gave her a 'don’t be stupid' look. It was odd being on this side of the look.

“Arry, just because I like you and you’re good with a sword, doesn’t mean I like every girl who can do battle. I also don’t like every brunette, or every girl who calls me stupid. I like you because you’re you. You’re Arya.” She smiled and pecked him on the lips, before fake pouting at him.

“Who are all these other girls you’re talking about?” He rolled his eyes and pulled her towards him, kissing her forehead.

“You have nothing to worry about.” She leaned into him and he chuckled against her hair. “And you call me stupid for being jealous.” He teased. She playfully shoved him, but giggled.

“Gods, if we’re both this stupid what chance will our children ever have?” She said it so casually, but Gendry’s heart leapt. It was so unexpected that he didn’t imagine he had even heard her correctly.

“Our what?” He asked, grinning at her. Arya must not have realized what she had said, because for a moment she just stayed frozen. Then she tossed her hair and set her gaze firmly on the fire.

“You heard me.” She said in her ‘I said more than I meant to’ voice.

“I believe I heard you mention children. Our children, to be precise.” Gendry’s grin broadened when Arya flushed a dark red. “I didn’t think you wanted children.” He noted. She shot him an appraising look.

“Why? You didn’t think I’d be a good mother?” He fought the urge to roll his eyes.

“Could you not take everything I say as an insult, for once?”

“I suppose.” She pursed her lips.

“I only thought that because of the moon tea. Women who want to be mothers generally don’t drink it.” He pointed out. Jeyne had had an extensive knowledge of herbs, and had taught Arya to brew it very soon upon their arrival at the inn. Since then, Arya had taken to drinking it nearly every morning, though she would sometimes make a production of how bitter it tasted. And Gendry didn’t blame her. She dared him to take a sip once, and it was nothing he wanted to try again in the near future.

“Well I don’t want a child now.” Arya was explaining to him, rolling her eyes. “How would I fight? Or ride? Or do anything really? I remember when mother was carrying Rickon, she couldn’t do anything the last few months.” Arya shook her head, as if she couldn’t believe her mother could stand being dormant for so long.

“You do want a family someday, don’t you?” She turned her large grey eyes on him, and he saw a look in them that he hadn’t seen since the night she told him she loved him, and was waiting for him to say it back. He laughed, pulling her close to him and kissing her soundly on the lips. He pulled back and put a hand under her chin, gazing into her eyes.

“With you? More than anything. Someday.” A smile slowly bloomed across her face and she launched herself at him. He landed on his back, grinning broadly as Arya peppered his face with kisses from her position on top of him. She paused her assault briefly to grin at him.

“I love you.” He pulled her down to kiss her on the lips.

“I love you too milady.”

Chapter Text

Arya was moodier than usual. She was sullen all day, and seemed annoyed with Nymeria. A few times Gendry thought he heard her talking to the wolf, but he couldn’t quite distinguish the words from the growls. Gendry knew from past experience that this wasn’t the sort of moodiness he could tease her about. In this case, any teasing would lead her to bite his head off, only to apologize for it later. Better to let her bring it up, pressing her face against his chest as if by hiding her expression and muffling her words, he wouldn’t be able to tell how truly upset she was.

That evening, as they sat by the fire between supper and sleep, she cuddled into him. He let her adjust his arms to hold her, and smiled softly as she hid her face against him.

“We’re less than a day’s ride to Winterfell.” She told him in a quiet voice.

“Oh.”

“We’re still quite a ways from the Wall though.” She paused. “Nymeria wants us to go to Winterfell.”

“Is that what you’ve been arguing about?” A year ago Gendry would have thought anyone arguing with a wolf- let alone a direwolf- was mad, but now it just made sense. Arya nodded against him.

“I don’t think she understands that it’s been taken. If we even got too close we could be captured, and I can’t be a prisoner again. Not there.” She sounded like she might cry just at the thought, so Gendry held her closer. He’d never had a home he’d loved, and he couldn’t imagine not only losing something like that, but then being forced to be a prisoner there. Gendry shuddered at the thought of the rumors about the Bolton Bastard, and what he might do to Arya, especially if he knew who she really was.

“I know love.” He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. They didn’t say much more for the rest of the night, just held each other and tried not to think about the perils between where they were and the Wall.


 

Gendry was awoken the next morning by Nymeria snuffling at his face. He groaned and waved her away, rolling to cuddle Arya- just for five more minutes, then I’ll get up- and found that she was gone. He looked around groggily and saw that she was preparing breakfast a few feet away, shooting a glare at her direwolf every once in a while.

Nymeria whined and gently grasped Gendry’s hand in her jaws, pulling him in the direction that he assumed was Winterfell.

“Don’t try to convince me by winning him over!” Arya snapped at the wolf. Gendry extracted his hand, patted Nym on the head, and got up, setting about rolling up their furs.

“Don’t worry love, that only works when you do it.” Arya shot him a half-hearted glare, but hobbled over to him to hand him some rabbit for breakfast.

“Hurry and eat, I’ve an uneasy feeling. I want to be on our way farther north as soon as possible.” Nymeria continued her whining, and Arya continued snapping at her, until finally the direwolf barked and bounded off in the direction she had been pulling Gendry earlier. Arya sighed.

“It’s just as well. She’ll catch up with us later, and I’m sick of all her whining.” She stamped dirt on the fire to put it out- apparently forgetting her injured ankle- and let out a loud curse. As Gendry hurried to her side from the horses to assess the damage, she clapped a hand over her mouth.

“It’s fine, I doubt anyone heard you, we’re in the middle of nowhere.” He knelt and began to gingerly prod her foot, testing for damage.

“Does it-”

“Sh! Do you hear that?” Arya whispered, her hand already on Needle’s hilt, ready to unsheath it at a moment’s notice. Gendry froze. Hoofbeats. Closing in fast. Bile rising in his throat, he quickly stood and drew his broadsword, standing beside Arya in a defensive position.

“We might be able to make it to the horses.” He whispered, knowing it was a slim chance. Arya shook her head as she drew Needle.

“They’re too fast, too close. I’d rather try to put up a fight here.” The words had hardly left her lips when a group of about a dozen men came into sight.

“Well well well, what’ve we here?” A huge bearded man at the head of the group boomed. None of them had bothered to draw any weapons.

“Just two poor travelers m’lord.” Gendry replied in as steady a voice he could.

“M’lord?” The bearded man roared with laughter, and his eyes glittered. “I’m no lord boy. Never saw much use in owning land.”

“Wildling.” Arya’s voice was quiet, but the man still somehow heard and gave her a once-over.

“You look half a wilding yourself girl. I’m guessing you know how to use that sword?” Arya didn’t answer, except to glare at him.

“I’ve a sword I’m sure she’d much rather play with.” A younger man from the group snickered. Gendry tightened his grip on his sword and put a protective hand on Arya’s arm- less as a warning to the younger man to keep away, and more as a warning to Arya to not launch herself into the midst of several heavily armed men, which he was pretty sure she would have already done had it not been for her injured ankle.

“Alright.” The giant man waved a hand at his men. “We’re the King’s men, we don’t go around threatening little girls. Even if it’s not much of a threat coming from you and your tiny pecker.” The younger man flushed deeply.

“Which King?” Arya demanded. She immediately bit her lip, knowing from her experience at Harrenhal that she shouldn’t have spoken out of turn, but jutted her chin out defiantly. Even Gendry could tell these wildlings were much different from the southron soldiers at Harrenhal.

“The King in the North, of course.” The bearded man grinned broadly, but Gendry felt Arya’s entire body stiffen beside him.

“The King in the North is dead.” She snapped angrily, taking half a step forward. The head man’s gleeful expression sobered slightly, and he seemed to look at Arya a little closer. Gendry found his examination of Arya odd, since he wasn’t leering at her the way most men did. Instead, he seemed to be examining her, like he almost recognized her. Gendry found this only slightly less disconcerting than the leering.

“Aye. He was.” The man stroked his bushy red beard as he brought his horse a few steps closer to them. Gendry tightened his grip on Arya’s forearm.

“Who are you girl? You talk like a southroner, But I thought those southron girls were bred to be… sweet. Meek.” In any other situation, Gendry would have snorted at someone who expected Arya Stark to be meek.

“I’m of the North.” Arya growled at him, tossing her hair. As she did so, an expression of recognition passed over his face.

“Get the king.” He commanded his men without looking back at them. When no one moved he whirled on them, a glint back in his eye. “What are you all deaf? Someone ride for the fucking king!” He roared. Three took off on a gallop.

Gendry tried to shake off the icy dread taking over his body, but he couldn’t quite manage it. The redhead must have recognized Arya, somehow. And his men must be fetching Ramsey, because who else would be King in the North? From what Arya had told him, Winterfell was the North’s stronghold. His mind was whirring so fast that he hardly noticed Nymeria creep up beside him and Arya, baring her teeth at the group of men in front of her.

“Call her off girl.” The man was beaming again, no doubt thinking about how he’d be rewarded for handing Arya Stark over to the Bolton.

“What makes you think she’d listen to me?” Arya asked defiantly, in a voice that was much calmer than Gendry would have been able to manage. She was always much better at standing up to authority.

Her question seemed to amuse the man. “She’s your warg, isn’t she?” Gendry didn’t know what the word meant, but Arya clearly did.

“I’m not a warg!” Her voice was filled with as much venom as when she protested being a lady. Now the man laughed.

“Neither of you are, eh? For fuck’s sake, the both of you'd deny it til your dying days. It's something to be proud of, bloody fools.” Before Arya could respond, they heard hoofbeats returning, and Gendry ventured a glance at Arya. She was as still as if she’d been cut from stone, the only sign of her fear was the slight tension in her jaw- and of course, that could just be pain from standing on her wounded ankle for so long.

“Tormund, what is it? They said-” A pale man only a few years older than Gendry galloped up to the group behind the men who’d been sent to fetch the king, but his voice cut off when his eyes settled on Arya. “Arya?” Arya’s eyes were wide, and she bolted forward as the young man leapt from his horse. Arya let out a strangled cry that Gendry couldn’t quite make out, and the next moment she was wrapped in the arms of the man- who was apparently the King.

“Little sister.” The man said softly, and suddenly it all clicked for Gendry. Jon. That must have been what Arya yelled. And that explained how Tormund had recognized Arya. She looked as though she could have been Jon’s smaller, female twin.

So they’d finally done it. They’d finally gotten to Jon. A sudden fear of she doesn’t need me anymore swept through Gendry, but he quickly waved it off. Arya had never needed him, she had just wanted him. He was overjoyed for Arya to finally be reunited with her favorite sibling, but there was still so much to overcome until she would be truly happy. But he was sure that between him and Jon (and of course, Arya herself), they’d be able to push through pretty much anything for the girl they loved so much.

Chapter Text

When Jon finally released her, the world was swimming from the tears in her eyes.

“I thought- how did you escape him?” Jon demanded. Arya frowned at him before remembering that half the world (the half that didn’t think her dead) thought she was the wife/hostage of Ramsay Bolton.

“Ramsay never had me!” She explained breathlessly. “Gendry and I have just come from the south, we’ve heard the tales but-”

At the mention of Gendry, Jon looked past her, a cool expression on his face as though he just remembered that his men had (presumably) told him they’d found a young couple traveling alone. And while Jon never seemed to care much about what was proper for a lady (he had given her Needle after all), Arya doubted that he would be all too thrilled that his little sister had been alone with a man for who knew how long. She moved to take a step between Jon and Gendry to explain as quickly as possible, but forgot (again) that her ankle was injured and stumbled.

“What’s happened?” Jon demanded, catching her.

“It’s nothing.” She waved him off.

“It’s her ankle. She sprained it a few days ago.” Gendry offered, taking half a step forward as if to help. Jon gave Arya a concerned look.

“How’d you manage that? Is it healing alright? Come along, I’ll have someone at the camp look at it.”

“I had a bad dismount.” Arya prayed Jon didn’t think anything of Gendry’s awkward cough and red face. “Anyways it’s fine. Gendry’s hardly let me walk on it at all.” She grumbled as the two men helped her onto her horse.

“How did you end up traveling with my sister?” Jon asked Gendry once Arya was secured on her horse and therefore slightly removed from the situation. She scowled, but Gendry remained courteous. He was always much better at that than she was.

“We met traveling with Yoren to the Wall. Since everything that’s happened since then, we just sort of… stuck together.”

“You were sent to the Wall?” Jon asked sharply.

“He didn’t do anything!” Arya protested from her horse. The boys both looked up at her, Jon frowning slightly, but Gendry had a small grin for her.

“My master sent me to the Wall- I was a blacksmith’s apprentice in King's Landing.” Gendry explained. “I didn’t know why until the gold cloaks started looking for me. Turns out I’m King Robert’s bastard, or one of them anyways. Cersei didn’t want any of us alive.” Jon scowl lessened considerably and he nodded.

“We should start to head back to the camp. It’s just a few hours ride. Lucky we were hunting down here, and found you two.” Jon smiled at her. “I got separated from the group because I was following Ghost, but I’m guessing he got distracted by Nym.” He nodded behind Arya, and she turned to see the two direwolves wrestling playfully, as if they were still puppies and not nearly full-grown killing machines. Several of Jon’s men looked more than a little on edge at the sight.

As they rode, Jon asked about nearly every detail of what had happened to Arya since the last time he’d seen her and now. How had she escaped the Red Keep? How had she ended up with Yoren heading up to the Wall? What do you mean you were at Harrenhal?! As Lord Twyin’s cupbearer? Jon had heard of the Brotherhood, and by that part of the story Arya was tired of talking- even if Gendry was helping fill in some details- and besides, this was the part where her and Gendry’s relationship changed, and she wasn’t sure what exactly she wanted to reveal at this juncture.

“Well what’s happened to you Jon? How come you’re so far from the Wall? And why are all these men calling you the King in the North?” Jon grimaced at the title.

“Tormund and his men only call me that to annoy Stannis.” He admitted, before Arya jabbed him with her elbow, prompting him to start his story. He told her about becoming the Lord Commander’s steward and traveling beyond the Wall, and about how he was captured by wildings and had to join them to complete a mission assigned to him by the Halfhand- and to avoid being murdered, of course. That was how he met Tormund- the large redhead also offered some very colorful details of Jon’s travels with the wildlings, but when Tormund mentioned a girl named Ygritte, he stopped short in response to Jon’s glare. Interesting. Arya noted that she would have to ask him about it later, but by then they were just arriving at the camp.

Jon had been rather vague about the camp, explaining that half was made up of ‘his men’ (she presumed that meant men of the Night’s Watch, northerners and wildings), and the other half was King Stannis’ men. Apparently King Stannis had helped the Night’s Watch fight against the wildlings, but now they were all on the same side? It was all very confusing, and Arya felt that she was missing some vital information. As they brought their horses to the stable and started heading to Jon’s tent, they heard a voice from behind them.

“Jon Snow, you’ve returned. With guests.” Arya’s attention snapped from her brother to the all-too-familiar woman standing behind her.

“You.” She whirled on Jon. “What is she doing here?” Jon couldn’t have looked more confused if he tried. Remembering herself, Arya stepped between the witch and Gendry, as if she could somehow shield him from her.

“You know Melisandre?”

Know her?” Arya made a disgusted noise in the back of her throat. “Why is she in your camp? Are you working with her? She’s a slaver. She’s- she’s-”

“I’m no slaver, girl.” The Red Woman said calmly, that stupid serene smile playing at the edge of her lips. Arya glared at her, as if she could kill her with a look.

“You tried to buy a person. Buying a person makes you a slaver.”

“Arry, I’m sure your brother has a reason.” Gendry’s was clearly doing his best to stay calm, but his voice was slightly strained, and his entire body was tense.

“He does.” The Red Woman announced, looking pleased with herself. Arya wanted to wipe that expression off her face, but Jon laid a hand on Arya’s arm.

“Come into my tent, out of the cold. I’ll explain in there.” He pulled Arya away from Melisandre, and Arya kept a tight grip on Gendry’s arm. She wasn’t about to let him out of her sight with that cunt hanging around.

When they were in the tent, followed by Tormund, Jon gestured for the two of them to sit at the table, then sat across from them and rubbed his temples.

“How- how exactly do you know Melisandre?” He asked.

“She tried to buy Gendry from the Brotherhood. That’s when we escaped from them. Jon I don’t trust her, she was going to hurt him, I know it. She believes in R’hllor, and blood magic and-”

“I know Arry.” Jon interrupted. Arya stopped short.

“What do you mean, you know?” She demanded.

“Best you show her.” Tormund prompted Jon, who sighed and began to take off his cloak.

“After the battle with the wildlings, I was voted Lord Commander. But not all of the men supported me, especially when I let the wildlings through the Wall, and then…” Jon sighed again, his grey eyes gazing into Arya’s.

“I received word that you were to marry the Bolton bastard. I asked my men to support me to rescue you- I asked them, not commanded. But they felt… they didn't care for that.” Jon sighed again and removed his shirt, exposing a heavily scarred chest. One scar was directly over his heart. Arya gasped, horrified, and she felt Gendry freeze beside her.

“Melisandre brought me back. Tormund and Ser Davos- he's King Stannis’ Hand- convinced her.”

“You were dead?” Arya whispered. Jon nodded. “Dead dead?!” Again, he nodded.

“Like Ser Beric.” She heard Gendry murmur under his breath.

“Arry, Gendry, I’m sorry for whatever harm you could have come to because of Melisandre. I know she isn’t- she’s a deeply flawed woman-” Tormund snorted. “- but without her I wouldn’t be here in front of you.”

“She rarely comes into this camp, she’s usually glued to King Stannis’ side.” Tormund offered. “I’d guess she just showed up today because she saw you in her fires.”

“The camps usually stay very separated.” Jon informed them, pulling his jerkin back on. “I’ll do my best to keep her away from you two, but I don’t have the power to send her away from Stannis. And we need Stannis’ men, if we want to take back Winterfell.” Arya let out a long breath. Moral issues- if this could even be called a moral issue- weren’t really her strong suit. Battle she could handle. And what a battle it was that they had to prepare for.

“And what’s the plan?” Gendry asked, as if he could sense her need to discuss something that made sense again. Arya nodded.

“How are we going to take back Winterfell?”


 

Jon did his best to hide his shock when Arya started talking about the upcoming battle. It was extremely odd to listen to his baby sister discuss the pros and cons of different strategies. He supposed that serving as Tywin Lannister’s cupbearer had taught her a lot, although he didn’t want to think to hard on the topic. It could have ended so very badly for her then, and he was more than a little grateful that Gendry had protected her… although he hadn’t quite made up his mind on Gendry himself yet.

From what he had seen so far of the boy, he wanted to like him. Gendry seemed devoted to Arya, and Jon was quite sure he would fight tooth and nail to keep her safe. He and Arya also seemed to be very in tune with one another, often adding details to each other’s sentences. And he seemed to know when to help Arya, and when to leave her be. But none of that changed the fact that Arya was Jon’s little sister, his favorite sibling, and this boy had been alone with her in the woods for months. Jon wouldn’t be doing his job as a big brother if he didn’t fully vet Gendry before giving his seal of approval.

After a long conversation about the upcoming battle- Ser Davos had come to join them at some point, to stand in for King Stannis, who was ‘ill’ and abed- the group went to relax outside by the fire for a bit before going to bed.

Arya and Gendry seemed suspicious of almost everyone at first- and Jon certainly couldn’t blame them- but they soon warmed to both Tormund and Ser Davos. When they went out to the fire, Jon saw Gendry squeeze Arya’s hand, and heard him murmur something about giving her time to catch up with her brother before heading off to the other side of the fire with Tormund. It was then that Jon decided once and for all that he liked Gendry.

Jon took a seat next to his sister, and marveled to himself at how surreal it all was. For so long he had worried about her, first about how she was adapting to King’s Landing, and if she would forget him, but then, when everything started to go wrong, he had much more serious fears. The young woman beside him had a narrower face than the sister he remembered, and looked much older- there was a depth to her eyes that wasn’t there before, a depth that only appeared once you’d killed- but whenever she spoke, he remembered the little sister he loved so much.

“I can’t believe you still have Needle.” He told her, pleased. Arya grinned at him.

“It’s my most prized possession.” She drew the sword reverently and gazed at it in the flickering light. “I lost it for a while, but we got it back.” Jon didn’t have to ask who ‘we’ meant.

“Who’s Ygritte?” Arya asked suddenly. He pursed his lips and stared into the flames, reminiscing about the girl who was kissed by fire.

“A wildling girl. We met when I was with the wildlings beyond the Wall. She was…” He cleared his throat, willing the words to not get stuck. “She was part of Tormund’s group, he’d known her since she was a girl. She died during the attack on Castle Black.”

“You loved her.” Arya’s voice was as soft as he had ever heard it. She wasn’t really asking a question, but Jon nodded anyways.

“I’m sorry.” His sister put a comforting hand on his arm, and he placed his own hand over it, smiling sadly at her. After a moment he tossed his curls, as if trying to shake off the sadness. He’d just gotten her back, and he wanted to lighten the mood.

“And what about you and this Gendry, huh? You don’t expect me to believe that the two of you are just friends.” He could see her flush slightly in the firelight, but caught a glimpse of her smile when she saw Gendry across the fire, laughing at a story Tormund was very animatedly telling.

“No, we’re not just friends.” She turned back to Jon with those familiar big grey eyes and gave him an imploring look. “Jon, I never would have made it here without him. Neither of us would have gotten anywhere without the other, and-” He raised a hand to cut off his sisters rambling.

“He is yours and you are his. You belong to each other. I understand.” And he did. Maybe if it hadn’t been for Ygritte, he wouldn’t have, or at least not as well. But he could hear the redheaded beauty’s voice repeated in his head again and again. ‘ Maybe we’ll die, but first we’ll live.’ He wouldn’t be an obstacle to his sister’s happiness, to her living. And Gendry was a good man.

“Of course, if he ever did anything to hurt you-” Arya scoffed.

“Please. If he did that he’d be long gone by the time you got to him. First he’d have to survive his own guilt, then my wrath, then Nymeria’d tear him to shreds.” They looked across the fire and saw the direwolf in question cuddled against Gendry, with her head in his lap. Jon burst out laughing, and Arya soon joined him.

“Well, maybe not Nymeria. But the rest of it!” Jon shook his head at his sister.

“I will miss being your favorite bastard.” He admitted. Arya rolled her eyes.

“You’re still my favorite brother.” She leaned her head against his shoulder and sighed. “I missed you Jon. More than anything, I missed you.” He wrapped his arm around her shoulders.
“I missed you too little sister. So very much.”

Chapter Text

The attack on Winterfell wouldn’t happen for at least another three days, since they had to wait for more of Stannis’ men to arrive for extra military support. Arya was less than thrilled about the waiting. Being so close to Winterfell, but still so far was incredibly aggravating, and even being reunited with Jon (and the relief of seeing his budding friendship with Gendry) was not enough to get her to sit still.

So, she was was in the practice yard sparring with the wildlings. Again. She had managed to persuade Gendry and Jon that her ankle was better, or at least healed enough for her to practice. In all honesty, she thought she just annoyed them so much they didn’t feel like arguing anymore.

Despite the stories she had heard growing up, the wildlings were not savages. They treated her with respect, not because she was a Stark, or Jon’s sister, but because they felt she deserved it as a warrior. Word had traveled quickly of how she and Gendry had stood up to Tormund and half a dozen other wildlings, as well as (likely exaggerated) stories of her harrowing escape from the Red Keep, her and Gendry’s time at Harrenhal, escaping the Red Bitch, and the long journey north. Besides, once Arya had taken down the first few laughing wildling men who didn’t take her seriously, the others wisened up.

Now Arya was sparring with a boy about her age. Arya had discovered the first day that once men took her seriously and were no longer shocked to see a skinny girl wielding a sword, she wasn’t much of a match for them. This one was just a greenboy though, about as skilled as Gendry with half his muscle. Arya could definitely beat this one.

After only a few minutes of sparring, she was suddenly hit by a wave of nausea. Arya was so shocked she only just managed to block the boy’s swing. She could feel Gendry’s concerned gaze boring into the back of her head and shook herself to focus. She managed a fairly significant blow to his side that stunned him for a moment, but before she could strike again another, stronger wave of nausea pulsed through her, causing her entire body to convulse. Arya hardly felt the blow that surely bruised her arm, she was too busy sprinting to the edge of the yard to vomit up the contents of her stomach.

Someone, who she assumed was Gendry, held her hair back and rubbed her back. She couldn’t confirm her suspicions for several minutes while she puked, and was shocked to see it was Ser Davos offering her a waterskin to rinse her mouth, gazing at her with almost fatherly concern. Now that she thought about it, it did make sense. She had run away from the main group, and Ser Davos must have been watching the sparring from this side of the yard, away from the wildlings.

“No more sparring today Arya.” Jon’s tone was firm, and she whirled on him to see Gendry standing beside him, nodding along.

“I’m fine. It’s probably just from all I had to drink last night with Tormund and you lot.” In all honesty, Arya still didn’t care much for wine and only had a glass, but if she admitted that she was feeling ill Jon would never let her fight in the upcoming battle.

“Come on Arry, rest up a bit.” She narrowed her eyes at Gendry, but as usual he didn’t balk.

“Shireen’s been cooped up with her mother all day. I daresay she could use some company.” Davos suggested. Arya sighed heavily but complied. Three on one just wasn’t fair. And besides, maybe the teensiest bit of nausea and tiredness was sticking around, and it was slightly possible that she wanted to sit down and trade stories with Shireen. Or whatever. Arya had been surprised to discover she actually really enjoyed the company of the young girl.

Ser Davos offered to escort her, but Arya protested that she knew the way to the other half of the camp, thank you very much. Immediately feeling contrite for being rude to one of the few men she respected, she offered him her best apologetic smile (she was sure Sansa could have done much better), shot a glare at Gendry and Jon (she may respect them, bust she was still pissed at them for the moment) and stalked off.

“A girl has closed many eyes.” Arya stifled a groan of annoyance. The Red Woman always seemed to adopt Jaqen’s style of speaking when she addressed Arya, and it was more than a little unsettling.

“And I’m not done yet.” Arya meant it as half a threat, half a promise. She still hated the woman, but since she’d found out Melisandre was the reason Jon was still alive… everything was complicated. The Red Woman smiled, almost to herself.

“No. It seems you’ll open a pair of eyes as well. Soon.” Arya knitted her brow, but before she could ask what the fuck that was supposed to mean, they were interrupted by Shireen and Queen Selyse.

“Arya! What are you doing on this side of camp?” Shireen asked eagerly. Arya conjured up a smile for the girl, and found it was fairly easy despite their unpleasant company.

“I’ve come to fetch you Princess. Rather important business to attend to. No old women allowed, I’m afraid.” Arya pointed her jab at Melisandre, although she could see that Selyse took offense to it as well. Arya smirked. Two birds, one stone. Shireen bit back a giggle, but looked to her mother beseechingly for approval.

“No dress again today I see.” Selyse chided, her tone lofty.

“How very observant of you. I find a gown hinders sparring.” Arya shot back matter-of-factly. The Queen stared at her for a moment before sighing.

“Go then Shireen. I must speak to your father. Melisandre, you’ll join me?” The two women headed off towards the King’s tent, and Arya led Shireen back to the courtyard to watch the sparring.

“Ooh look Arry, Gendry’s up!” The Baratheon’s had been made aware of Gendry’s relationship to their family, but Shireen was the only one who showed any interest in him. Arya knew he loved having a quasi-little sister, and Shireen absolutely adored him. The two girls increased their speed, and arrived at the courtyard just in time to see the Gendry’s opponent knock him down.

“You should have bobbed right.” Arya informed him when he took his spot beside the girls. He stuck his tongue out at her.

“Could've used that information a few minutes ago.” He pecked her cheek. “Feeling better?” She shrugged.

“I’m fine. I still say it was from drinking too much” Gendry made a face like he didn’t believe her, but didn’t push the subject. The three of them passed the next few hours chatting and watching the sparring, Gendry occasionally taking part, until it was time for the evening meal. Arya and Gendry walked Shireen to the Baratheon side of the camp before making their way over to Jon’s tent, where they regularly ate with him and Tormund.

Arya could tell something was up with Jon, but the meal itself was largely unremarkable. It wasn’t until they finished eating that Arya found out what Jon was so tense about.

“Arry. You know I would trust you with my life.” She narrowed her eyes at him.

"Father always said anything that comes before the word 'but' is horseshit."

“But I want you to stay here at the camp during the battle.” He finished. Arya knew she should have expected this, but she couldn’t help but feel betrayed.

“Jon that’s stupid, I’m a good fighter, better than some of those greenboys you have out there!” She protested.

“I won’t risk it.” He told her stubbornly.

“What if something happened to you?” Gendry added, as if she wasn’t the one who taught him everything he knew about fighting.

“To me? What about you? What, I’m just supposed to sit here and sew while you two take back Winterfell?”

“No one said anything about sewing.” Jon pointed out wearily, looking as though he was struggling not to roll his eyes.

“You’re being dramatic. Shireen is staying, and you don’t hear her complaining.”

"Shireen can do as she bloody well pleases!”

“You haven’t even been feeling well lately.” Gendry reminded her.

“So?! What’s that have to do with anything?”

“You can’t very well be throwing up in the middle of a battle Arya.” She suddenly wished Gendry and Jon got along a little less well, so they wouldn’t be ganging up on her like this.

“Sure I can! They would be surprised and it would give me an edge. Jon you’ve seen me fight, you know I’m good, and I’ve been getting better-”

“This isn’t about being a good fighter Arya! This is a battle, it doesn’t matter if you’re the best swordsman in the world, it’ll be three on one before you know it, or a random arrow will find its mark in you, or- or- Tormund!” The big redhead looked slightly uncomfortable at being put on the spot, but nodded.

“He’s right girl. Skilled or no, battle is random. I’ve seen greenboys make it through on pure luck, and talented men die. It’s best if you stay where it’s safe, so Jon here doesn't have to be worrying about you.” Even Tormund was against it?! Arya opened her mouth to keep arguing, but Jon preemptively cut her off.  He had clearly lost his temper, which made him nearly impossible to argue with.

“Arya, you’re not going, and that’s final.” He told her firmly in an ‘I will not be argued with’ voice that reminded her almost painfully of their father. Arya glared at him, but since there was little to no chance she could change his mind- not tonight at least- she settled on huffily stalking away from him and Gendry for the second time that day.


 

Arya stomped her way to the tent that she and Gendry shared. He’d been more than a little surprised when Arya told him the tent was theirs, but it made sense to her. Jon understood her connection with Gendry, her need to be with him. (She thought Jon understood her need to be in the battle as well, but apparently she was wrong.)

The first night, Jon had taken on look at Arya’s expression when faced with the thought of sleeping without Gendry for the first time in months, and offered her a soft smile.

“You don’t have to sleep in my tent just because it’s proper. I had the men set one up for you and Gendry.” Even Arya was taken aback at first, but Jon just snorted.

“It’s a war camp Arr, not a castle. Besides, proprieties don’t really matter all that much.” She had kissed her brother’s cheek and headed off to find Gendry and drag him to their cozy little tent.

Tonight, Gendry left her alone to sulk in their tent for about twenty minutes. Arya guessed he was hoping that she would cool off if she were left alone for a bit. He wasn’t wrong. Arya loved that he knew her so well, but was still annoyed that he wouldn’t let her take part in the battle, so she tried to keep up her sulking when he finally entered their tent. Her pouting lasted only until Gendry unbuttoned his shirt, revealing a large new bruise blooming across the right side of his torso.

“Who did that?” She demanded, her concern outweighing her irritation at him at the moment. He just waved her off.

“Tormund, I think. Maybe another wildling. I’m not sure exactly.” Arya frowned, rising from her position on the bed to trace the outline of the bruise carefully.

“It looks bad.” Gendry just shrugged.

“I’ve had worse. And so have you, I’m sure.” He pushed one side of her shirt down over her shoulder to reveal the bruise she had earned a few hours earlier when her nausea made her lose the fight. Arya rolled her eyes.

“That one’s not as bad as this.” She pulled Gendry’s shirt off and skimmed her fingers over a yellowing bruise that Jon had given him during a sparring match earlier in the week.

“Well what about this?” He pushed Arya’s shirt the rest of the way off and pointed to a small scar on her forearm that she had earned from a soldier on the long trek to Harrenhal.

“That’s nowhere near as bad as this!” She traced the large scar on his torso that he had received during their fight at the inn when they had killed Polliver and his soldiers.

“I think this is one of the dumbest arguments we’ve ever had.” Gendry informed her with a wide grin, his blue eyes sparkling with mirth.

“So far.” Arya corrected, grinning in spite of herself. Gendry laughed and nodded.

“You’re right. I’m sure we’ll get in much dumber ones in the years to come.” Hearing him speak of the future always filled Arya with a warm, happy feeling, and she pulled him down to kiss her. She felt an all-too-familiar spark as their lips met, and suddenly her hunger for him nearly overcame her. Perhaps it was because with the reunion with Jon and everything going on in the war camp, they were exhausted nearly every night and hadn’t been intimate in a few days (a record for them) but Arya could not wait to get him into bed. She eagerly wiggled out of her breeches, leaving her just in her smallclothes, as she deepened the kiss.

Gendry’s feelings must have mirrored Arya’s, because he quickly scooped her up into his arms, carrying her the few steps to their bed before roughly depositing her on the soft furs. She had hardly landed before her hands were at his waist, untying his breeches and guiding them off his hips, along with his smallclothes, freeing his half-hard cock from its cloth prison. She made a move to straddle him, but he placed a large hand on her hip and held her against the bed, keeping her seated while he stood between her legs.

“You’re always on top lately.” He grumbled as he trailed kisses down her throat to her breasts. She meant to protest, but he chose that moment to slip his hand under her smallclothes to cup her sex, and being touched there after so long (over 72 hours was a long time for them) thoroughly distracted her. Besides, she secretly liked when he challenged her dominance in bed.

“You’re already so wet.” He murmured as she ground against his hand, desperate for any friction. She responded just by kissing his collarbone, gliding one hand up to pinch his nipple. She loved to see the way his cock jumped when she did that. Arya wrapped the fingers of her other hand around his thick member, biting her lip as she felt him become rock hard in her hand, thinking of how sated she would feel once he was buried inside her.

Gendry gently pushed her so she was lying on the bed and pushed her hand away, replacing it with his own. Arya was once again about to protest, since this movement meant he was no longer fingering her, but her whine turned into a moan when he thrust his cock into her hot core. She was sure her moan would have alerted all of the surrounding camp to what they were doing, had Gendry not clamped a hand over her mouth to muffle her groan as he slammed into her.

He was fucking her more roughly than ever before, his standing position allowing him to pump more forcefully, and Arya was loving every moment of it. He moved his hand from her mouth, but now he was busy holding down her hips, so she moved her own hands to her breasts, loving the way his blue eyes darkened to almost black as he watched her pinch and twist her nipples.

She bit her lip from the pleasure, and the sight made him swear huskily as he pounded into her. It didn’t take Arya long to feel herself approach her orgasm. She tried to tell Gendry, but she was struggling to manage anything but curses and moans.

“Fuck- Arry, I’m gonna-” Gendry also seemed at a loss, but Arya understood and gave herself in to her pleasure. Her eyes fluttered shut as her cunt tightened around his cock, drawing his release out of him. After they rode their orgasms out, Gendry let his forehead fall onto her shoulder and collapsing onto the bed beside her.

“If all of our stupid arguments end like that I’ll be a very happy woman.” Arya said once she finally got her breath back. Gendry let out a breathless laugh against her skin, and shifted to kiss her cheek.

“As you wish m’lady.”

Chapter Text

“Jon, please, this is ridiculous.” Jon rubbed his temples in exhaustion as Arya argued her point for why she should be allowed onto the battlefield for what felt like the thousandth time. “I’ve agreed not to go to meet with him tomorrow, I understand that’s too dangerous-”

“You understand that the meeting’s too dangerous, but not that battle is?” Jon demanded incredulously.

“Well, it’s not as though he could recognize me during the battle. I’ll be all in armor.” His little sister explained as though he were stupid. 'Logical' explanation or not, Jon didn't forget that Arya had originally wanted to come along to the meeting before begrudginglyacknowledging that she looked too much a Stark for her appearance not to tip off Bolton that his wife (whoever the poor girl was) was not Arya Stark.

Gendry had snorted at Arya's explanation, seemingly as exasperated as Jon. Arya spared him a glare before directing her attention back to her brother.

Anyways I don’t see why you and Stannis have even agreed to a summit. What terms could he possibly put forth that would be acceptable? You’ve heard the same stories I have, he’s a absolute monster.” Jon agreed wholeheartedly with Arya, but Davos had advised him to go. The Onion Knight had suggested that Jon might be able to goad Ramsey into a one-on-one battle, and be able to avoid a battle where thousands of smallfolk died. Jon knew it was a long shot that Ramsey would take the deal (he knew his reputation preceded him, and Ramsey didn’t strike him as the brave sort), but he had to try. He opened his mouth to explain this to his sister, but was interrupted by Tormund.

“Jon.” The redhead entered the tent, looking shaken. “Stannis’ troops found two people who escaped from Winterfell. They’re in awful shape.” He shuddered. “Stannis thinks they might know you, or at least might be comforted by a Northern face.”

Jon quickly followed Tormund across the camp to where the couple was, Arya and Gendry hot on his heels. They could see two lumps wrapped heavily in blankets, one of which was rocking back and forth, shivering violently despite the proximity to the fire.

“I’m a good girl a good girl, I’m not like her. I’m good and pretty and- I could have been a good little wife I tried I tried. ” The rocking figure was babbling deliriously, her high-pitched voice breaking. Her companion looked like an old man, and he was silent, staring at the ground and clutching his blanket tightly to him. Stannis’ soldiers were standing about them, looking incredibly uncomfortable.

“Have they had food and drink?” Jon asked one of the soldiers. The old man jumped when he heard his voice, and pulled the blankets up more firmly over his shoulders, making it difficult to see his face at all. The soldier started to bark a reply, but was cut off by Arya’s startled gasp.

“Jeyne?!” Jon looked back at the girl, and was astonished to realize that it was indeed their former steward’s daughter, Jeyne Poole. She might have been pretty once, but now she looked as though she was on the brink of starvation, and the tip of her nose was black with frostbite. At the sound of her name, Jeyne seemed to snap out of her daze.

“You!” The girl shrieked hysterically at Arya, leaping to her feet with energy Jon wouldn’t have expected. “He wanted you not me! This is all your fault! You should have stayed and done your duty! You should have married that bastard! But you never did your duty, you always were too busy pretending to be a stupid boy!” Arya was pale, speechless and shaken, and Gendry had moved in front of her protectively. The old man was standing now too, talking quietly to Jeyne seemingly trying to soothe her.

Jon couldn’t hear what the man was saying, but Jeyne was still nearly shrieking as she argued with him.

“You know it’s her fault, you know what she was like! It’s all her fault this happened to me! It’s all her fault Theon!”

Everyone froze. The only sound breaking through the whistle of the cold winter wind was Jeyne’s sobs as she collapsed to the ground once more. Jon felt as though he had just been hit in the stomach with a mailed fist, and Arya looked as though she wasn’t sure if she was about to attack their former foster brother, or burst into tears herself (which was very un-Arya-like, but nevertheless she had that look). Before Jon knew what he was doing, he had somehow gotten over to Theon and gripped him by the front of his jerkin. He was seeing red, he didn’t know what he was doing, he just knew that this unrecognizable man was apparently Theon Greyjoy, who had murdered his youngest siblings and burned Winterfell down,

“I didn’t-” Theon’s voice broke as he addressed the ground. “I didn’t kill them. Bran and Rickon. I didn’t. They- they escaped. I just said- I lied I didn’t really- I’m sorry. So, so sorry.” Tears were streaming down Theon’s face as he spoke, his voice higher and wheezier than Jon had ever heard it.

“Robb trusted you.” Theon flinched as though Arya’s cold, clear words were a slap to the face. “He trusted you like he was your brother. Bran and Rickon too. They were just children. ” Theon didn’t respond, just stood there, not even trying to escape Jon’s grasp, shaking and crying in one of the most pathetic displays he had ever seen. Arya spun on her heel and walked off in the direction of her tent, Gendry following her, but keeping a respectful distance away.

Jon looked at Jeyne, who had slipped back into her incoherent daze, then back at Theon.

“You saved her?” He asked quietly. Theonn gulped and nodded. “And you lied for her? He thinks she’s Arya?” Theon nodded again.

“If he had known it wasn’t her… it would have been worse.” Theon looked terrified at the very thought- although he might have just been terrified of Jon. “And Arya… she would have been found. It would have been…” Jon didn’t want to know what would have happened. He released Theon roughly, and the older boy fell to the ground.

“They are the only reason I haven’t killed you already. But if I find out that you’ve lied about my brothers…” Theon nodded frantically. “I don’t want to see your face ever again.” Theon nodded once more, obediently bowing his head to keep Jon from seeing him, and Jon left to check on his sister.

When he arrived at the door of her tent, he had come upon Arya wrapped tightly in Gendry’s arms. She was shaking as though she was crying, and Gendry held her solemnly.

“It isn’t your fault love, you know that.” Gendry was murmuring soothingly. It made Jon’s heart ache to see his sister like this, but he was glad to see that Gendry was there for her. The other man caught Jon’s eyes and nodded to acknowledge him, and Jon nodded back before leaving for the solitude of his own tent.

Jon had expected seeing Theon Greyjoy would have gone… differently. In all honesty, he’d expected to kill Theon, and to utterly enjoy it. That man was not Theon. He was hardly a man. Jon had always hated Theon, even when they were growing up and he was just an annoying ass, one more playmate for Robb to choose over Jon, one more highborn lord.

When word had reached Jon about what Theon had done, about how he’d turned on Robb and killed Bran and Rickon, burned Winterfell, Jon had begun to imagine finding Theon and murdering him. But he had never dreamed of destroying him, not the way that Ramsey apparently had. The sight of that shell of the man sickened him.

For some reason, Jon believed Theon when he told him Bran and Rickon weren’t dead. He wasn’t quite sure why, maybe because he had just gotten Arya back from the dead, or because when he slept as Ghost he could sense Summer and Shaggydog. Whatever the reason, Jon believed his younger brothers still lived.

Arya and I will win back Winterfell for them. We’ll reunite there, as a family. Jon thought to himself determinedly as he left his camp for the summit with Stannis and the bastard.


 

Rationally, Arya knew that whatever had happened to Jeyne Poole was not her fault, it was the fault of Ramsey Bolton and whoever else was involved. But that didn’t change the fact that, if Arya hadn’t fled King’s Landing, it wouldn’t have been Jeyne who was sent to marry the bastard. Arya wasn’t sure what hurt more, the haunted, accusing look in Jeyne’s eyes, or the knowledge that he had meant to break- and thought he was breaking- her.

Gendry did his best to comfort her, but he didn’t understand, not really. Even back at Harrenhal, when they were prisoners and the Lannister soldiers raped and hurt whoever they pleased, whenever they pleased, he didn’t fully understand. Because when it came down to it, he was a big strong man, and Arya was just a little girl. He would never quite know what it meant to always be on edge, to always be waiting to catch the wrong person’s eye.

She had cried more than she had in a long time, and it worried her. Yes, a terrible thing had happened, but it felt as though all of her emotions had been amplified lately, plus she was still throwing up. She couldn’t quite understand it.  

“I’d nearly forgotten how cruel people could be.” She had whispered into Gendry’s chest once she had finally gotten the crying under control.

“No.” He responded firmly. “They are not people. They’re monsters. People are good.” She wasn’t sure she believed, wasn’t sure how he could believe it, after how he had been treated his entire life, the things he had been through and seen. But he said it with such conviction that she wanted with all of her heart to believe him.

 

A few hours later, Arya and Gendry were waiting in Jon’s tent when he returned from the summit with the Bolton bastard. One look at Jon’s face told her it had gone even worse than expected. Jon looked scared .

“He has Rickon.” The words left Jon’s mouth with no preamble, and Arya felt as though she had gone completely numb. She wasn’t sure why, but she had believed Theon earlier when he told them their younger siblings were alive. She couldn’t, or wouldn’t believe they were dead.

“He might have been lying.” She said desperately. “He might have- he probably just wanted to frighten you, throw you off guard before battle.” Her brother shook his head as he walked towards her.

“He wasn’t lying. He had Shaggydog’s head.” Suddenly a vision of Grey Wind’s head on Robb’s shoulders popped into her head, and Arya shut her eyes tight as if to make it go away. She opened them again when Jon placed his hands on her upper arms.

“We’ll get him back Arr. That bastard has never had to stand up against our family. We’ll make him regret it. The pack survives. ” He promised gravely. His solemn grey eyes still held fear in them, but there was a hard glint of determination in them as well.

“You have to let me on the battlefield. I’m the fastest ahorse, I’ll get Rickon and bring him here, you have to let me Jon.” It was as near begging as she’d get, and Jon knew that. Swallowing hard, he nodded.

“Aye, you can come. But you have to bring him right back here Arya. if the both of you get caught up in the battle…”

“We won’t.” Arya promised quickly. “I won’t do anything that would put Rickon in danger.”

“I know little sister.” He pulled her into a tight hug, sighing heavily. It was almost too much to wish to get another of their siblings back in these times. They all knew that hope was dangerous. They also knew it was the only thing that could get them through this war.

 

Chapter Text

Shireen’s heart was in her throat the morning of the battle. Her father was shut away in his tent with the Red Woman, preparing. Her mother was in her own tent, surrounded by her father’s knights. The twelve year old was meant to be there as well, but she had somehow managed to talk herself into staying in Arya’s tent, “the two princesses together.” One of the wildling woman, Oona, had teased her amicably. Oona was about seven months pregnant, so she would be staying with the girls. After all, a battle was no place for a woman with child. A few other wildlings who were too injured for battle, but well enough to protect the girls (Shireen really, Arya didn’t need any protecting) if things went bad.

As if Arya won’t be on the battlefield herself. Shireen thought irritably. Part of her was jealous of the older girl, and she almost wished she had been training too, and would be able to help her father and the others in the fight. A larger part of her wished that the battle wouldn’t occur, that sword skills were only for tourneys, but she knew that thought was naive.

The older princess had somehow convinced King Jon (Shireen knew Jon wasn’t really a king, but she liked him and thought he deserved the title) and Gendry to let her onto the battlefield ‘just to fetch Rickon and bring him to the camp’. Shireen suspected that they had merely gotten tired of arguing with her.

 

Last night, after the summit, Arya had come to Shireen’s tent, her face grave.

“I have to ask something of you princess.” Shireen nodded solemnly. “Tomorrow, I’ll be bringing my brother Rickon back to camp.” The way Shireen had heard it from her father’s men, Rickon was likely dead by now, but she didn’t say that, didn’t even want to think it.

“I can’t stay with him. I- I need to be in the battle.” Arya’s voice caught, and she took a deep breath before looking into Shireen’s dark blue eyes with her own steely grey ones. “I need you to take care of him sweetling. He’ll likely be hungry, and he might be hurt as well. Oona and the others will help you, if you need it. But I need you to talk to him Shireen, please. I trust you, and I’ve no idea what he’s been through, but I’m sure it hasn’t been easy.”

“Of course.” Shireen agreed earnestly. Having spent time with Arya and Jon, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to get a Stark to do as she told them- she wasn’t sure anyone could. But for Arya, she’d try.

“I’ll tell him to listen to you, he always used to do what I said, more or less. Shireen.” Arya took the princess’s hands in her own. “Thank you. Now, you should get some rest.” Arya kissed Shireen’s brow and flitted out of the tent.

 

When Shireen arrived at Arya’s tent, she saw Arya and Gendry helping each other put their armor on. Arya looked rather serious, but Gendry seemed to be pretending to be happy. Shireen knew he was pretending because whenever Arya couldn’t see his face, he looked extremely anxious.

“Promise me you’ll be safe.” Arya was commanding.

“Of course.” Gendry grinned toothily at Arya, but she only glared at him.

Promise me.” Gendry moved as though to kiss Arya, but she dodged his advance. He rolled his eyes.

“I promise m’lady.” Arya punched his arm, but allowed him to kiss her. “As if I’d go and die without your permission.” He scoffed teasingly. Shireen thought she might have seen Arya half-heartedly hit him again. Just then, Gendry caught sight of her and waved her in.

“Shireen!” He pulled her into a tighter hug than usual, and Shireen tried not to wonder if it would be the last one he’d ever give her. She also tried not to think about the fact that, while she’d managed to hug Ser Davos this morning, her mother had kept her well away from her father’s tent.

“You’ll be brave today, right?” Her cousin asked. Shireen gripped the wooden stag Davos had carved for her and nodded. Gendry gave her his easy smile. “Good. You and Arya have to take care of Rickon once he comes back.”

“Be safe.” Her voice came out quieter than she meant it too, and she saw a flash of pain in Gendry’s eyes.

“Of course princess.” He turned away from her for a moment. “Arry, I’m going to go out and ready the horses.” At Arya’s nod, he gave Shireen one last squeeze and left the tent. Arya quickly took Gendry’s place in front of Shireen.

“You remember what I told you?”

“I remember. I’ll take care of him, I promise.” Arya’s smile was rather tense.

“Good girl. You’ll do great, I know it. We’ll have won Winterfell back before you know it.” The older girl promised. She stayed with her for a while before Jon arrived, offering Shireen a tight smile (he was kind to her when he saw her, but was often busy, so they weren’t as close and she and Arya and Gendry) and fetching Arya for the battle. As they left, Shireen heard Jon making Arya promise to come right back to the camp after fetching Rickon (Shireen noticed he hadn’t said anything about Arya staying at the camp- and was sure Arya had noticed as well- but said nothing). And then she was alone.

She wasn’t really alone of course, Oona was there, and the other wildlings were friendly enough. But they weren’t friends, not like Arya and Gendry and Ser Davos. After what felt like days of sitting with her stomach in knots, attempting to teach Oona to read- usually the spearwife said it was a useless skill, but today she humored her- they heard rapid hoofbeats approaching the camp.

Shireen was immediately on her feet, and made a beeline for the doorway of the tent to see what was going on, but Oona held her back firmly.

“Just in case, princess.” Oona wouldn’t let her go until a few minutes later, when two of the wildlings who had been guarding the outside of the tent threw open the entryway for Arya Stark, who was holding hands with the dirtiest boy Shireen had ever seen.

He looked to be a year or two older than her, but it was difficult to tell exactly as he was covered from head to toe with mud and filth (save a few clean tear tracks on his cheeks that Shireen politely ignored), but in the light Shireen thought she could see a glimmer of coppery red hair. And his eyes were the brightest cerulean that the young princess had ever seen. His eyes looked around quickly, suspiciously, taking in the room, resting on Shireen only for a moment before flitting to the wildlings that had weapons.. She wasn’t sure if she was offended that he’d looked past her so easily, or happy that he hadn’t taken notice of her greyscale. And she didn’t have the time to decide.

All of the sudden the boy was a foot away from her, and Arya was standing between them.

“Rickon, this is Princess Shireen. I have to go back to the battle, but she’s going to stay here with you. She’ll help you get washed and in clean clothes, and feed you. I’ll be back Rickon, but while I’m gone you have to listen to her, alright?” Rickon looked from Arya to Shireen, then nodded at the floor. His sister squeezed him tightly and kissed him on the cheek, then offered Shireen a fleeting smile before she disappeared.

Shireen was frozen for a moment, but quickly shook herself. “Arya told me you’d need a bath, there’s one ready over in the corner behind the screen. Let me know if it’s not warm enough.” She told him, trying to make her voice sound warm. Rickon nodded at the floor again, but didn’t move.

“She’s coming back. They all are.” Shireen said with false confidence, sensing his fears (it wasn't hard, since they were her fears as well). Rickon turned his clear blue eyes on Shireen, and she was struck by how haunted they looked.

“No one ever comes back.” He informed her hoarsely. Shireen shook her head firmly.

“Arya will. And Jon. It’ll take more than you could imagine to keep them from finding a way to bring you back to Winterfell.” And maybe Shireen imagined it, but she thought she saw a hint of a smile at the corner of Rickon’s mouth.


 

“Zigzag! Fucking zigzag!” Arya shrieked at her youngest brother as she galloped towards him. He turned sharply to the left, and an arrow pierced the ground exactly where he had been running to. Filled with rage, Arya whipped her bow from her back and stood in the saddle. She loosed three arrows in quick succession, stopping there only because Rickon was getting closer and she had to stoop down to scoop him up onto the horse in front of her.

The first two arrows hit the men on either side of Bolton. The third pierced his leg.

From the moment Arya made contact with Rickon, he clung to her ferociously. “I thought you were dead Rick, I’m so glad you’re okay, you’re okay.” Arya was clinging to Rickon just as tightly, somehow managing to guide her mare through the incoming army while also giving her baby brother a million kisses.

“He said he had you Ar.” Rickon’s voice cracked. “He told me what he did to you, and what he would do if he got you back.” He sounded terrified, and Arya hugged him even tighter.

“It wasn’t me Rickon, it was never me. He was lying. He never had me.” Arya swallowed. “But I will make him pay for what he’s done to you, and to Shaggy Dog, and to all the people of the North.”

“And to Osha?” Rickon asked. “She’s the wildling woman who saved me. He killed her. Quickly, thankfully.” Arya’s heart ached, because Rickon was too young to know that you should be thankful for a quick death, but she nodded.

“And Osha. We’ll make them pay Rickon. I promise.”

 

The promise echoed in Arya’s ears as she tore herself away from her brother and galloped at full tilt back towards the battle.

For Rickon. She thought as she sliced through the first man she saw wearing a Karstark sigil. For Shaggy Dog. She easily took out another footsoldier from atop her horse. For Osha. She thought of the unfamiliar woman who had protected her baby brother when no one else was there too as she loosed four arrows into four men on horseback.

It only took thirty minutes for her to begin to tire. Vomit rose in her throat, and her arm began to feel heavy as she struck down man after man. One man’s battle axe got just a bit too close, and her heart was pounding with fear and exertion when she stabbed him through a chink in his armor with the pointy end of Needle.

You’re better than this dammit. You were taught by the First Sword of Braavos. You are Arya Stark, daughter of Lord Eddard Stark. Sister of Robb Stark, who never lost a battle. Sister of Jon Snow, who came back from the dead because his battle wasn’t finished.

She could not fall. She would not fall. She had to get Winterfell back, not just for the remaining Starks, but to her mother and honorable father, and Robb. For Bran and Sansa, who she could hardly even hope were still alive. For the numerous northerners who had suffered at the hands of the Bolton’s and at the hands of the Lannisters, who she knew were behind Ramsay’s rise to power.

Arya Stark had decided that she would not lose this battle. And when Arya Stark set her mind to something, she did it.


 

According to Jon’s estimate, Arya had managed to stay away from the battle for approximately ten minutes. He knew the moment she returned, because she brought Nymeria with her. Along with about a hundred other wolves.

Why can’t Ghost lead a pack like that? Jon thought to himself jealously as he cut down another Bolton soldier. And how do they know who to attack? Whenever he caught sight of them out of the corner of his eye, he only ever saw them ripping the throats out of Bolton and Karstark men. Ghost’s entire front was stained red with the blood of men he had killed and maimed.

It was a difficult battle- possibly the most chaotic that Jon had ever been in, but it was over in a matter of a few hours. Bolton had fled to the edges, shouting in pain, nearly as soon as Arya’s arrow pierced his leg, and now that it was clear Stannis and Jon’s troops (and Arya’s wolves) would triumph, he turned tail and ran for the safety of Winterfell’s gates.

Not that it mattered. Wun Wun the giant was still alive, and even the sturdy gates of Winterfell couldn’t hold him back. Jon vaguely noticed Arya on his right flank (and was hit with a wash of thankfulness that she was alive and relatively unharmed) but the moment he saw Bolton with his stupid fucking crossbow he had tunnel vision.

Everything turned red, and all he could think of was how badly he wanted to kill- to hurt- this bastard. He heard a sharp gasp as he blocked arrow after arrow with his shield, slowly approaching the Bolton, who looked more and more as though he would piss himself. Jon enjoyed the look of fear in Ramsay’s eyes as he connected his fist to the coward’s face, hearing a satisfying crunch as he broke his nose, and a louder snap when he broke his jawbone- or perhaps his own hand, Jon wasn’t quite sure. Eventually Ramsay’s cries of pain stopped, but Jon kept on hitting the dead man’s swollen and bloody face until he felt a small hand on his shoulder.

Jon pulled back, panting heavily, and came face to face with his blood spattered sister. “He’s dead.” She told him, a morbidly gleeful smile playing at her lips. “He’s dead Jon. We’ve done it. You’ve done it. We’ve gotten back Winterfell.” They sank into a tight embrace.

“We’re home."

Chapter Text

The time immediately after the battle was a blur. At one point she remembered a cluster of people surrounding her and Jon, offering congratulations and asking about further orders, but Tormund had roared at them to leave the King and Princess in the North alone, and they obeyed. It seemed to Arya that only seconds had passed between her embrace with Jon after he killed Ramsay, and Rickon appearing by their side, but it must have surely been more time than that.

Shireen and Oona had accompanied Rickon to Arya and Jon, but quickly backed off. Their freshly bathed little brother didn’t seem to mind that they were all covered in blood and mud, and embraced the two of them tightly.

“You did it.” Rickon seemed to be in awe. “You actually did it.” After a few moments, Rickon released Arya and Jon and looked about them, taking in the ruins of their former home. With his face now clear of mud, it was much more obvious how much he had grown since Arya had last seen him, how much time had passed. Now he looked more like Robb than he did her baby brother. A glance at Jon’s pained face told her he saw the similarities too.

“It doesn’t look like Winterfell anymore.” He said quietly. Jon gripped his shoulder- Arya noticed he used his left hand, and wondered if he’d damaged the right one when he was hitting Ramsay.

“It will.” Jon swore zealously. “We’ll fix it.” Arya took both of her brothers’ hands.

“Come. We should go visit them.” Jon and Rickon nodded and allowed her to lead them down into the crypts, to see their ancestors. For the first time, Arya saw the statue of her father.

“What happened to their swords?” She asked, gesturing to the statues of Ned and Brandon Stark. She hadn’t expected an answer, but Rickon offered one.

“Me and Bran took them when we escaped from Theon. We pretended to run, but really we hid down here for a bit. He never did like the dark.” Arya wondered how Rickon would react when he found out Theon was alive- if you could call it that- and that he was at the camp. In all honesty, she wasn’t quite sure how she felt about it.

After another few seconds (or minutes, or hours, Arya still couldn’t keep track of the time) they were interrupted by Ser Davos.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, but you’re needed Jon. Stannis hasn’t been seen since the battle.” Davos shot a nervous look at Arya, and her heart sunk as she realized what it meant. Gendry hasn’t been seen either. She’d lost sight of him during the battle, but… well, it was Gendry. He had to be alright. He’d promised he would survive. He would never break a promise to her. He wouldn’t leave her. Missing isn’t dead. But wasn’t it as good as?

Jon was saying something, but she couldn’t quite hear him over the buzzing in her ears. He kissed her and Rickon on their foreheads and hurried off with Tormund.

“I suppose we should start getting people to get the rooms together?” Rickon suggested. “I know a bit about it, I was meant to help Bran do it before Theon took over. And I bet Princess Shireen could help.” Arya nodded numbly, and followed Rickon’s lead. Gendry would be okay. He has to be.


 

“Almost there.” Gendry told the man he was carrying as he stumbled over the field of bodies. Stannis let out a moan that Gendry took as a response. The once regal king was losing blood fast, and was barely conscious at this point.

“Your daughter will likely be there, Princess Shireen. She was terribly worried about you this morning. She’ll be glad to see you’re alright.” It was a lie, the king- my uncle, Gendry thought, the word feeling unnatural- was not alright. Gendry wasn’t even convinced he’d make it to Winterfell. For that matter, Gendry wasn’t sure that he’d make it to Winterfell, given his exhaustion from the battle and the fact that he had just carried a grown man a great distance, over piles of bodies and muddy- or was it just bloody?- ground.

They’d only gone a few yards from the edge of the battleground, finally free from the tangle of bodies of the dead and dying, when a few familiar wildling men galloped up to them.

“Arya?” Gendry asked as soon as they were within earshot, panting. His heart had been in his throat from the moment he’d realized she’d come back to the battle. Of course she came back, the little bloodthirsty wolf. He was sure that if anyone were to survive, it would be her, but…

“She’s at Winterfell. Alive. Unhurt.” The men assured him. He felt as though a giant weight had been lifted from his chest. Then a giant weight was lifted off his chest as the men helped him get Stannis onto one horse, pulling Gendry up onto another.

Once on horseback, the rest of the way to Winterfell went quickly. The men had a waterskin and food in the saddlebags, and Gendry drank eagerly, although he could only manage a few bites of food.

Someone must have ridden ahead, because there were a crowd of people there waiting to help get Stannis off the horse and carry him off, Gendry assumed to the Red Woman, or some healer. Jon was there, his right hand neatly bandaged, clapping him on the back and greeting him with a relieved smile. Then a small figure launched herself at him, nearly knocking him to the ground as she locked her arms around him.

“If you hug me much harder, you’ll break my neck.” Gendry told Arya with a laugh as he hugged her back just as tightly. She let out a noise halfway between a laugh and a sob.

“You'd deserve it for making me wait so long. I thought you might have…” She released him quickly. “Are you alright? You haven’t been hurt at all?” Gendry shrugged.

“A few bruises and scrapes. Nothing too serious. You?”

“Not a scratch on me.” Arya replied, grinning. He could see that was true, as her armor was already off, but she was still in her bloody tunic.

“Now come on, you’re filthy. Let’s get you washed up.” He didn’t comment that she was hardly cleaner than he was, just obediently followed as she led him away from the crowd, through the halls of Winterfell. He caught sight of Shireen with Rickon- she seemed to be smiling, so she must not have known about her father yet- and waved to her.

“Who’s that?” He heard Rickon demanding, just as he and Arya turned down an empty hallway. Finally she led him into a small chamber, which seemed as though it had been unused for a long time, but had a large bathtub in the corner and what looked to be fresh furs on the bed. He hardly saw more than that though, because once the heavy doors were shut, Arya threw herself at him again, this time kissing him passionately.

Gendry smiled against her lips. Does it make your blood hot? Her voice echoed in his head. It certainly made her blood hot, of that there was no question. My bloodthirsty little wolf. He thought fondly as she kissed him ferociously, her nimble fingers expertly unbuckling the straps to his armor.

Despite the fact that half an hour ago he was just about ready to keel over from exhaustion, Gendry responded with equal fervor, revived by Arya’s presence, by her love, by the fact that they could have lost each other, but had made it back into each other’s arms safely. Shrugging out of his armor, he pulled Arya’s tunic over her head, tracing his calloused hands over her soft curves. He was happy to see that she had curves now, that she had enough to eat and wasn’t all skin and bones like she was when they were on the road. They broke apart again in order for Arya to tug his tunic over his head, and then her fingers were at his breeches, eliciting a moan from him with her gentle caresses.

But Gendry had his own idea, and quickly untied her breeches and smallclothes, kneeling in front of her as he did so. He wanted to taste her, to smell her, not the dirt and blood of the battlefield. Arya let out a low moan when he nuzzled his nose against her nub, and a louder gasp when he licked up the length of her slit. She buried her hands in his hair, pulling it gently as he slid his tongue into her wet cunt, licking up her sweet juices and reveling in the scent that was purely his Arya.

As he continued to tongue-fuck her, he felt her move one of her hands to his shoulder to support her weight when her knees began to buckle. In one fluid motion he wrapped his arms around her and brought her gently to the floor, enjoying her squeal at the sudden movement. He gently spread her thighs wider to give himself better access, and in a few moments she was a whimpering mess beneath him, yanking on his hair and calling out his name.

After she reached her peak, he slowly made his way up her body, trailing small kisses up her inner thighs, her stomach, her perky breasts. He got slightly distracted there, fondling her right nipple between his thumb and forefinger and taking the other in his mouth, swirling his tongue around the pink pebbled nub. Arya arched her back into him and groaned, then pushed him onto his back and straddled his hips. She hadn’t quite managed to get his breeches off before, and hardly bothered to now, settling for pulling them down just enough to free his cock before sheathing him in her wet heat.

“Arya.” He breathed the moment they were connected, hardly able to stand the electric jolts running through him as he thrust into her in time with her bounces. He had one hand firmly on her waist, and moved the other up to her cheek, caressing her face lightly before shifting his hand to the back of her neck to pull her down for a kiss. She opened her mouth into his, and gave out a low moan when she tasted herself on his tongue.

Not breaking the kiss, Gendry rolled them once more so that he was on top. Arya growled at the change in position and broke the kiss, opting instead to nip and suck at a spot on his neck. She shifted to wrap her legs around his waist, but he grabbed her left thigh and hooked her leg over his shoulder. The scream of pleasure that she let out at the new angle was (thankfully) muffled by her biting down on his shoulder, but it was enough to take him over the edge. She followed him there as he rode out his orgasm, and after a few final shaky thrusts he drew out of her, pulling her onto his chest as he lay on the cool wooden floor beside her.

 

By the time they finally made it over to the bathtub, Gendry figured the water would be barely lukewarm. He was perfectly fine with that, but then Arya showed him the spigot in the wall above the tub, explaining how Winterfell had hot springwater running through the walls which helped keep the castle warm in the winter.

“It’s much less work for a hot bath too.” She told him with a grin as she turned the spigot to fill the tub with warm water. She produced a cloth from somewhere, and bid Gendry to sit in the metal tub while she wet it and wiped all traces of grime from his face and body. Her contradictions are as charming as they are stark. He thought fondly as she sluiced the warm water through his hair. A passionate lover one minute, and a gentle caretaker the next. He pulled her into the tub with him, giving her the same treatment he’d just received, gently washing away the dirt and slowly combing his fingers through her now long, dark hair. He could have sworn it turned two shades lighter once it was cleaned. For a while they sat, her with her back against his chest, her head leaning against his shoulder as she lazily twined their fingers together.

“Gendry.” Arya sighed, looking up at him, a twinkle in her eye. “Why don’t we get married?” He suddenly felt as light as air.She had only ever expressed revulsion for marriage before (but that was before before, before they were together).

“Really?” His wolfgirl nodded, a smile blooming across her face.

“It’s only right to do it at Winterfell, in front of the heart tree in the Godswood. And Jon’s here to give me away.” Gendry never had much faith in the Seven, and he knew that Arya really only believed in the God of Death, but the ceremony must have mattered to her, because it was a Northern tradition.

“Rickon and Shireen can be witnesses.”

“Ser Davos could officiate.”

Gendry was filled with a jittery excitement. “When do you want to do it?”

“Tonight?” Arya suggested eagerly, turning in the bath to face him. “I love you Gendry, I don’t want a stupid feast or dancing or any of that silly nonsense. But I want you, and I want everyone to know.” Gendry kissed her eagerly.

“I love you Arya Stark.”


 

There was a bruise on the crux of Gendry’s throat that Jon was fairly certain wasn’t there after the battle, since the area in question would have certainly been covered by armor, but he did his best to ignore it. It was easy to do so once he understood the words tumbling out of his sister’s mouth about a marriage.

Davos had found them moments later, carrying a (slightly bloodstained) decree that legitimized Gendry as a Baratheon for saving Stannis’ life. Jon knew Arya didn’t care about titles or last names, but Gendry did seem to stand a bit straighter.

A few hours later he found himself standing in the Godswood, with Arya on his arm in her green dress and Rickon’s cloak (Jon’s was black, for the Night’s Watch, but Rickon’s had the Stark sigil on it- however faded and tornnit was). Whenever he’d overheard the girls (and by that he meant Sansa and Jeyne, or the handmaidens, but not Arya, never Arya) discuss their dreams for a wedding, they always talked about fancy dresses and feasts, with crowds of people to watch. Not a boy who was barely a man-grown with blood still on his armor from the battle he’d fought earlier that day. Not a girl in a plain dress and no decoration other than a few blue winter roses in her hair. Not a handful of people (all children really, except Davos and Tormund) who were gathered in a rush, temporarily taken from other duties. But for his little sister, Jon knew this was perfect.

Shireen had insisted on Gendry wearing a Baratheon cloak, and was now standing beside Rickon, eyes shining, as Jon led Arya to Gendry and Davos.

“Who comes before the Old Gods this night?” Davos asked, looking to Shireen to be sure he’d gotten the words right.

“Arya of the House Stark comes here to be wed. A woman grown and flowered, trueborn and noble. She comes to beg the blessing of the Gods. Who comes to claim her?” Jon replied, offering Gendry a small smile.

“Gendry W-” Shireen interrupted by clearing her throat. “Gendry of the House Baratheon. Who gives her?” Gendry replied, unable to take his eyes off of Arya.

“Jon Snow, who is her brother.”

“Lady Arya, do you take this man?”

“From this day, until my last day.” Arya’s eyes were glittering, and she had a glow about her that Jon had never noticed before. He released her arm, and she melted into Gendry’s embrace, kissing him chastely.

“I am yours and you are mine.” Gendry murmured to his new wife. And then Davos was congratulating the couple, and Tormund was clapping them on the back, while happy tears streamed down Shireen’s face and Rickon scowled 'would somebody tell me who the bloody hell he is?'

There was no feast, but Tormund had somehow procured a large amount of alcohol (some of it wine, but most wildling moonshine) and despite the losses they had suffered that day (and the many losses they’d suffered since Ned Stark left Winterfell with his daughters) Jon felt lighter than he had in years. In just a few short weeks, he’d gotten back Arya, Rickon, and Winterfell. The wedding was a sign of good things to come.

Tomorrow he would come up with a plan to rebuild Winterfell, and figure out what foodstores they had, and what alliances would need to be made. But tonight, they would eat, drink, and be merry.

Chapter Text

Stannis was dying. He never had been quite the warrior Robert was, and he realized about ten minute into the fighting just how out of his depth he was in battle. His men had done a good job of protecting him for a while, but one by one they were felled. The Stark girl’s wolves had helped a bit as well, although they seemed to prefer protecting the wildlings to protecting his proper soldiers.

Somehow Stannis had found himself in a field of bodies, the lone survivor. Then one of the men he thought had fallen for good rose, and he found himself fighting for his life. A blow to his right leg brought him to his knees, and another struck him heavy in the chest, tearing through his armor as though it was just paper, and he fell to the ground. The man lifted his sword for a death blow, and Stannis had prepared to die, praying to the Mother to protect his daughter if the battle was lost. But then he saw the bastard. The bastard with hair black as coal and eyes bluer than sapphires. The bastard who was covered in mud and blood, who swung his longsword without hesitation, and lopped the head right off Stannis’ would be killer.

He hadn’t recognized him at first, gods be good he thought it was Robert he was looking at, Robert as he was twenty years ago, all brute strength and bad decisions. But Robert used a warhammer, not a longsword. And he wouldn’t have come back for you. Stannis reminded himself bitterly. Robert wouldn’t have gone out of his way to save you- and if he had it would be all he ever talked about for the rest of his life.

“Your Grace, the fightings almost over. Bolton’s fled. It’s almost finished now.” The bastard was telling him, trying to help him to sit, to stand. “You’ll be alright, Your Grace, once we get you to a maester. You’ll be fine.” Stannis didn’t believe the boy for a second, and he could tell by the wary look in his eyes that he didn’t quite believe it himself.

“Leave me.” Stannis had croaked when the bastard had realized Stannis couldn’t stand on his own and had attempted to lift him.

“Can’t do that, Your Grace.” The boy informed him with a lopsided grin.

Why? Stannis wondered. Where had he gotten this sense of duty from, this drive to save an uncle that had hardly spared to words to him? And words that were most likely unkind, at that. He certainly hadn’t gotten it from his Baratheon side. Stannis himself had killed his own brother, he reminded himself, riddled with guilt and regret. He wondered who the boys mother had been, if she had been exceptionally kind, or if it was just a kind of goodness that came from the boy himself. Like Shireen. The dying king thought. Shireen is good, and sweet, and kind, even though her mother isn’t. Even though I’m not.

But it hurt too much to talk, so Stannis said none of what he was thinking. He thought he might of harrumphed in response to the bastard’s refusal to leave him to die on the battlefield, but he wasn’t quite sure. Everything was fading into a grey fog, streaked with red, as he succumbed to the pain.

His silence didn’t seem to bother the boy, who carried him as though he were a child and every so often informed Stannis of how close they were to Winterfell, or how happy Shireen would be when she saw that he was okay. Shireen won’t care. Stannis thought numbly. I didn’t even say goodbye to her. I didn’t even hug her, tell her everything would be alright. Every since Melisandre appeared, I’ve ignored her. But no, that wasn’t fair. Stannis had been ignoring Shireen long before Melisandre showed up.

When he awoke in his sick bed- death bed he thought wryly- he thought it odd that, when he thought he was dying, he had reverted to his past and prayed to the Mother, one of the Seven who he had recanted, whose image he’d had destroyed, instead of to R’hllor. After his conversation with the Red Witch, he decided it wasn’t so odd after all.

She was there when he opened his eyes. His wife wasn’t there, his daughter wasn’t, but she was. When she saw his eyes open, she grasped his hands in hers, her face pallid. For the first time, Stannis thought her ugly.

“You don’t have to die, my king. I can save you. It’ll take a life, but I can save you.” Melisandre told him, her voice shaking. He blinked at her.

“What do you mean?” The words came more easily now, even if they were quieter than normal, and he idly wondered how much milk of the poppy he had been given. He was having difficulty thinking because of it.

“It’ll take someone with king’s blood to save you, but we have options for that. I just need to build another fire-” Color had returned to her cheeks, and she was talking excitedly.

“Options?” He managed to say the word calmly, but his blood was running hot and his mouth was dry. The Red Witch’s options were rarely moral. She didn’t seem to notice his base reaction and just absentmindedly nodded.

“Yes yes, that bastard Gendry, or Shireen-”

“Melisandre.” Stannis was too weak to raise his voice and shout at her like he wanted, but his anger still crept its way into his low tone. “Did you just suggest I trade my daughter’s life for my own?” A tiny frown line creased her brow, and she looked at him as though he were simple.

“Of course, Your Grace. She has your blood, king’s blood. She can save you-”

“Get. Out.” Stannis commanded. “Leave. I never want to see you again. I never want you near my child again. I never want you near any of the people in this castle ever again.” Melisandre stared at him in shock.

“But Your Grace, the child’s life is nothing compared to the life of a king-”

“Out!” He shouted, the volume ripping through his chest. Looking at the woman now, it was like he was seeing her for the first time. And he could clearly see that she was mad.

She gazed at him, apparently gauging whether or not he was serious. When she saw that he was, her face smoothed into its usual self-satisfied smirk.

“A pity. You could have been great.” He wanted to throw something at her, to throttle her for even thinking of threatening his daughter, but he was too weak for that, so he settled for glaring daggers at her. As she swept out, Ser Davos stepped in. The slight skip in his step let Stannis know he had heard at least the end part of he and Melisandre’s discussion.

“Stannis, I’m glad to see you’re awake. How are you feeling?” His faithful Hand asked.

“Like death.” Stannis groaned back. “And you?”

Davos shrugged, smiling. “I’ve been better. Shireen is in the castle, safe. She’s been asking to see you.” Stannis nodded.

“I’d like her company. First I must thank the boy, Gendry, for getting me here. Do you know where he is?” Davos’s grin turned slightly licentious.

“The Stark girl spirited him away as soon as he arrived at the castle and neither have been seen since.” Stannis wheezed out a painful chuckle. So this Gendry was his father’s son. Stannis himself had never loved a woman (or rather, lusted after her) so much he was incapacitated for several hours. Of course, there was that one night with Melisandre… but no, that was for power, not for her.

“Best leave them then, I wouldn’t want her turning that wolf of hers on you.” The king waved Davos forward. "Come here then, give me that parchment.” Stannis would have asked Davos to write the message, but the man could still hardly put pen to paper, and certainly couldn’t write quickly. So the king wrote it himself, doing his best to jostle his injuries as little as possible.

‘I, Stannis Baratheon, King of the Andals, the Rhoynars, and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, hereby legitimize Gendry Waters as Gendry Baratheon. He shall carry on the Baratheon name, and should anything happen to my Shireen, become my heir.’ He signed the paper and Davos scrawled his messy signature as a witness.

“Give the scroll to Jon Snow, he’ll hold it for the bastard. And Davos, there’s something I need you to do for me.” The man, his only friend, looked at him expectantly, waiting for his task.

“I’m dying Davos, it’s a simple as that. I need you to promise to protect my Shireen for me. Don’t let the Red Woman hurt her, and don’t let Selyse be too critical of the poor girl. Help her arrange a proper match when she’s old enough and… well, be the father to her that I never was.” He finished, sadness compounding the pain that was spreading throughout his body. Shireen had always deserved the world, and Stannis had ignored her in trying to secure it for himself.

“Of course Stannis. I’ll keep her safe.” Davos’s voice was sincere, and his easy grin had faded to a solemn gaze.

“Good man, you’re a good man.” Stannis grunted, lying back in bed. “Now send in my daughter please, and get me some milk of the poppy.”


 

“Father?” Shireen arrived just as the bottle of milk of the poppy was being offered to Stannis, but he put it on the bedside table, wanting to be as engaged as possible at what very well could be the last time he saw his daughter.

“Shireen. Come here girl.” She approached his bed hesitantly.

“Mother’s left with the Red Woman. She wanted to take me with her, but Ser Davos said no, so she just left.” Stannis pressed his lips together in a tight line in an attempt to keep himself from cursing out his wife in front of their daughter. Selyse might have made a good mother once, but after the loss of all of her sons, the illness of their daughter… she was no longer what she might have been.

“He was right to do that. You like Davos, don’t you? You’ll listen to him?” He asked her. She nodded and took a step closer to him, so she was right beside the edge of his bed.

“Oh yes, Ser Davos has always been very kind.” Stannis nodded, and there was an awkward pause before Shireen spoke again.

“Father you- you will get better, won’t you?” He reached out and took one of her small hands in his, taking a deep breath before speaking.

“I’m afraid not darling. Your cousin Gendry did what he could to save me, but I am not much longer for this world.” Shireen looked down, biting her bottom lip hard to keep the tears in, and his heart ached. He didn’t deserve this love from this poor, ignored little girl. “Come here my love.” With his good arm, he helped her into a seated position the bed beside him, nestling her against his side.

“You’re the best thing I ever did, do you know that? I’m sorry I wasn’t a better father to you.”

“Oh but you were a good father!” She protested, the tears spilling over her cheeks. He smiled sadly at the well-meant lie and shook his head.

“No, I wasn’t. But you, my dear, were the perfect daughter.” He sighed and settled against the pillows. “Now, tell me something to keep my mind off the pain in my chest.”

Slowly, Shireen began to tell him about her friendship with Arya, how she was in awe of how brave and strong the girl was. She told him about how kind Gendry was, how he reminded her of Ser Davos, as both men were honest and simple, quietly fierce in their own way. She told him Gendry and Arya were to be wed tonight, in the godswood, and she was so happy because she had ever seen two people love each other more. She told him of Rickon, the Stark boy who everyone thought had been lost.

After a few hours- in which Stannis learned more about his daughter than he had in the past twelve years- she left to attend the wedding, promising she’d be back soon and kissing his brow. As the door shut behind her, Stannis gulped down the milk of the poppy, waiting for it’s calming properties to soothe his pain, knowing that no matter how numb it made him, it wouldn’t help him forget how terribly he had neglected his pure, sweet daughter.

 

Stannis awoke out of the fog at the sound of Shireen opening the door. “Is the wedding over?” He croaked. She smiled and nodded eagerly, her face flushed with excitement.

“Oh yes, everyone’s finally gone to bed! Well, Tormund actually passed out in the great hall, but everyone else is in a proper bedroom.” She climbed into the bed beside him, settling into the nook of his (uninjured) arm.

“Tell me about it.”

And she did. Shireen told him about how bright Arya’s eyes were when she said her vows, how Gendry hardly looked away from his new wife through the whole ceremony and reception after, how proud Jon looked to see his sister with such an apt match.

“And he was so happy to have a proper name to give her father, thank you ever so much for legitimizing him.”

“It was the least I could do.” 

And then she continued, telling him about how Davos had spun her around for a dance, how when Gendry finally released Arya so she could dance with her brothers, her cousin joked with her, and told her someday they would be at her wedding having this much fun. Apparently Rickon hadn’t wanted to dance, claiming he would just step on her feet, but Arya had barked at him to just be careful, that he was probably a better dancer than her and besides it didn’t matter as long as they had fun, so Rickon had awkwardly put his hands on her waist and danced with her, and didn’t even step on her feet once.

She went on about the Stark boy quite a bit, Stannis noticed, and he thought perhaps he might have a discussion with Davos the following day about keeping an eye on the child, who by all accounts seemed to be half a wildling.

Finally Shireen, exhausted by the busy day, drifted off to sleep, her head pillowed on his chest. As he too began to slip into sleep, all he could think of was how grateful he was to the Stranger to have granted him this final day with his child, and to the Mother for helping his daughter to forgive him.

The last thing Stannis Baratheon thought of before he died was that his pure, sweet daughter was much too good for this world. He hoped Davos would be able to protect her.


 

Davos awoke in the early, grey hours of the morning, with a sense that something had changed. The air was different, calmer, and it took him only moments to realize what it was. The King’s Hand quickly dressed, and grabbing a candle, headed to the Stannis’ chambers. He entered without knocking, and was greeted by the sight of Shireen curled against her father’s side, a tranquil half-smile on her face. Stannis was unnaturally pale.

Sadness came over Davos as he reached out to check his friend’s pulse, knowing before he did so that he would find none. With a heavy heart, he scooped up the little girl before she awoke, grateful that he had been able to find the king before she could.

Shireen sleepily wrapped her skinny arms about his neck, not quite waking, and Davos was grateful for that too. It would be difficult enough to explain in the morning what had happened let alone now, when he’d hardly had time to process the loss himself.

As he carried the girl who he loved as his own daughter down the torchlit hallways, he came face to face with little, wild Rickon Stark. The boy laid a finger against his lips, indicating he wouldn’t speak and wake Shireen, and followed the pair to an empty chamber, where Davos laid Shireen down on the bed, pulling the blankets up over her shoulders and brushing the hair out of her face.

“He died, didn’t he? Her father.” Rickon asked, his young face solemn, once they were back in the corridor. Davos nodded soberly.

“She can stay here at Winterfell. She’ll be one of us, part of our pack.” Rickon declared in a determined voice, jutting his chin out as though daring Davos to say he was taking Shireen away from here, back to Dragonstone. As though Davos would ever do that.

“Aye, she’ll stay here. It’s up to us to take care of her now. Can you do that?” Rickon nodded, a fierce look in his eye, and Davos couldn’t think of a better foster family for his Shireen than the Starks.

Chapter Text

Samwell Tarly arrived about a week after the battle, wife and son in tow, and after embracing him like a brother, Jon set him up as Winterfell’s maester. It was Sam that Gendry dragged Arya to when he caught her throwing up after a sparring match, and realized that her nausea hadn’t stopped, she’d just gotten better at hiding it.

Arya had huffed and grumbled throughout the entire exam, giving monosyllabic answers whenever possible and insisting that she was perfectly fine every few minutes. It would have been funny if Gendry wasn’t so concerned. It would be just like fate to take her just when she had finally been reunited with her siblings, just when she had gotten home, just when they had gotten married. It’s too good to last. A cruel voice whispered in Gendry’s mind.

After the examination, Sam gave them both a cheerful smile.

“Well, Lady Arya-” he didn’t seem to hear her growl at the title- “is perfectly healthy. Because you’re so young and healthy, I doubt any complications will occur-”

“Complications? From what? I thought you said she was fine.” Gendry cut in, frowning at Sam and taking Arya’s hand in his protectively. Sam’s expression became slightly confused, but his smile didn’t falter.

“Of course, I mean, she is fine. I just mean complications from the baby.” Gendry wasn’t sure who was more surprised by this, him or Arya.

“What? Whose baby?” She demanded, although the way she placed her hand over her stomach made it clear she knew the answer.

“You- you didn’t know?” Sam asked weakly, suddenly looking slightly panic-stricken.

“If I knew,” Arya began, her voice tight with frustration, “why would I have gotten ingredients for moon tea from you two days ago?” A look of understanding and surprise crossed Sam’s face.

“Is that what you were getting ingredients for?”

“What kind of a maester doesn’t even know how to brew moon tea!”

“I do! B-but you, you haven’t been getting the ingredients for moon tea. A few of them look the same, I’ll give you that, but the ones you collected… well they wouldn’t do anything, except maybe taste foul.” Arya looked as though she might murder Sam, but Gendry was too filled with excitement to really take notice.

“How far along is she? Can you tell?” He asked eagerly. Sam nodded.

“Based on the level and duration of her nausea, as well as her other conditions… I’d say about two months. More or less.” The baby would be here in seven months. His and Arya's child. Gendry had thought that the day of his wedding was and would always be the happiest day of his entire life. And while it was up there, the thought of starting a family with Arya- and so soon- was filling him with joy that he had never felt before. The maester turned back to Arya.

“I’m surprised you haven’t noticed the pregnancy, my lady.” Gendry intercepted Arya as she tried to leap at poor Maester Tarly, and hustled her out the door, thanking Sam over his shoulder as he went.

“Like I haven’t got any better things to do than try to remember when my moonsblood is due. Or has he forgotten the war?” Arya snarled, once Gendry had released her a safe distance away from Sam’s chambers. He was hardly listening to her.

“A baby Arya.” He murmured in an awed voice. His little wife turned to him, all traces of irritation disappearing as a wide smile bloomed across her rosy cheeks.

Our baby Gendry.” She corrected him, and he whooped with delight as he lifted her up and spun her in the air, the sound of her giggles echoing through the corridor. Then he realized what he was doing and set her down, again stricken with worry. Arya didn’t notice, looking down at her stomach and tracing patterns over the fabric of her dress.

“I suppose all that crying I’ve been doing makes sense. I was afraid I’d gone soft.” She looked up at him and finally noticed his expression. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Do you think that could hurt the baby?” He asked, eyes wide with concern. 

Still smiling, Arya lifted an eyebrow at him. “What, touching my belly?” She teased.

“No no, I meant the spinning.” Arya rolled her eyes at him, but Gendry’s worry was not abated. “I’m serious Arya!”.

“I was sparring earlier today, I doubt spinning-” She cut herself off when she saw his eyes widen even further when he remembered her morning activities. “Gendry Waters Baratheon, I swear by the old gods and the new that if you tell me I can’t spar for the next seven months- It was with you for crying out loud it’s not as though you would’ve really hurt me!”

“I just don’t want to do anything that could hurt the little one!” He defended himself. Arya had opened her mouth to argue, but before she could they were interrupted by a familiar voice.

“What little one?” Gendry whirled around and caught sight of Jon, who was looking between the two of them curiously. Then his eyes settled on Arya’s hands on her stomach.

“Are you- you’re not- but- a little one?” Jon spluttered, his eyes going as wide as dinner plates. His surprise was quickly replaced with a broad grin.

“I’ll be an uncle!” And then Arya was rushing towards him and hugging him, squealing something about a new Stark.

“But what on Earth were the two of you arguing about when I came along? What's could be hurting the baby?” He asked, once he had finished embracing his sister and clapping Gendry on the back in congratulations. Arya rolled her eyes theatrically.

“Gendry’s already badgering me about not being able to do things-”

“Because she wants to continue sparring!” Gendry cut in. Jon turned horrified eyes onto his sister.

“Of course you can’t spar Arya are you insane?” Arya gave the two of them an incredulous look.

“Have the two of you forgotten that less than two weeks ago I was riding into battle-” The men gasped in horror in unison.

“Were you pregnant then?” Jon demanded.

“She’s two months now, she must have been!” Gendry informed his good-brother, staring at Arya’s flat stomach as though it would give him answers.

“If you two are going to be acting like my nursemaids for the next several months, I’ll banish you both from my sight until the baby is born.” Arya declared,giving them her best glare. They ignored her, knowing she would do no such thing.

“We should probably talk to Sam, to find out what’s safe for her now- she can’t drink can she?” Jon asked Gendry.

He shrugged. “I don’t know, but I don’t see that it matters much, she doesn’t like the taste anyways.”

“No? I’d assumed she’d grow out of that. Wasn’t she drinking at your wedding?” Gendry was once again worried.

“You don’t think that could have hurt the baby? It was only a glass or two.”

“I don’t know!” Jon’s face mirrored Gendry’s panic and lack of knowledge of anything baby-related.

“You were right, we should discuss this with Sam.” Gendry agreed, leading Jon towards the maester’s room. It wasn’t until they nearly got to the door that they realized that Arya was not with them. The two turned, panicked yet again, and saw Arya standing several feet behind them, staring at them in wonder.

“Like a couple of anxious septas, you two are.” She said to herself in an undertone, shaking her head. “You can plan a battle and lead the North, but a baby comes into the picutre you become nervous wrecks! Are you going to be like this during the entire pregnancy?”

But she allowed them to escort her into Sam’s chambers, and only complained a little but as they grilled the poor maester about exactly what she could and could not do. One hand- her sword hand- stayed on her stomach the entire time.

Chapter Text

Two days after the battle, Davos had entered Jon’s solar, insistent that the discussion about who was to claim the right to the throne must occur, and soon. Reluctant as he was to face this, Jon knew it must be done, and soon he had called Rickon, Shireen, Arya, Gendry and Tormund in his chambers.

“The men already call you the King in the North, why not just take the role?” Tormund asked.

“That was when we thought we’d lost Rickon, by the laws of inheritance it should go to Rickon.” His younger brother, who had previously looked incredibly bored at the prospect of discussing who was to be in charge (whoever it was, Rickon had probably already made up his mind to disobey them) now looked incredibly alarmed.

I don’t want it! I’d make a terrible king!” Rickon protested, looking around the group for help. His wide eyes settled on Arya, who looked for the first time as though she were happy she were a girl and out of the running.

“In Dorne, girls inherit titles. Arya could be Queen in the North.” Arya frowned at him.

“We’re not in Dorne. Besides, it should go to Jon, he’s the best leader among us, and he’s got experience, what with being the Lord Commander.”

“Here here!” Tormund cheered his agreement.

“If you recall Arya, the men disliked me as Lord Commander so much that they put a knife through my chest.” Jon pointed out. “Besides, there’s also the question of the Iron Throne. Gendry’s the next male heir now-” -his new brother-in-law’s eyes widened with panic and he shook his head animatedly- “-and an alliance between North and South could be beneficial-” Arya snorted.

“As appealing as the thought of Cersei losing her mind when she finds out Robert’s bastard son and Ned Stark’s daughter have married and are trying to take her power is, I think we’ll pass.” She rolled her eyes and casually laced her fingers between her husband’s.

“Shireen is Stannis’ only true child-” Jon continued, trying to lay out all of their options.

“I never even wanted to be Princess, let alone Queen!” Shireen cut in, begging Davos with her eyes to help. Jon sighed deeply in irritation and passed a hand through his mess of black curls.

“So, to be clear, everyone here but Tormund and Davos has a claim to some throne or another, and no one wants it.” The youngest faction of the group nodded in agreement.

“I have a claim to being King Beyond the Wall.” Tormund pointed out, smirking. Jon knew his wildling friend was treating this whole thing as a joke because he already thought of Jon as king, but Jon himself wasn’t so sure the northern lords would ever truly accept a bastard king.

“We needn’t worry about the Iron Throne now Jon, we have enough to be concerned about in the North. Now Joffrey’s dead, and Tommen’s too busy dealing with the mess his brother and mother made to give a fuck what we do up here. So long as no one here plans on going south again anytime soon, we only have our own affairs and the affairs of the Northmen to worry about. You should be King in the North, and Rickon will be the next Lord of Winterfell.” It was almost odd to hear Arya talk sensibly, with no threats of violence or revenge. It was refreshing that she was able to see past it though, and Jon was fairly certain her seeing past her rage was a direct result of the calming effect Gendyr seemed to have on her.

“I’m not a trueborn son Arr.” He reminded his sister gently. She may forget he wasn’t her true brother, but it was always on his mind.

“Jon, you got back Winterfell. Plus you have the support of me and Rickon, for what that’s worth. Any cunt who doesn’t think you deserve the title can go through me.” Arya announced firmly. There's the threat of violence. Jon nearly grinned in spite of himself, and Rickon nodded in agreement with Arya.

“Besides, those cunts on the Wall only tried that before because you were young, and they were jealous. They’d be fools to speak against you now.” Tormund offered.

Jon sighed and nodded. He knew he should take the title. He just didn’t want it. Having that sort of power was not something that he had ever wanted. Which will be Davos’ argument of why I should have that sort of power.


 

In the end, it did not matter what was discussed in Jon Snow’s solar. Only hours later, Lyanna Mormont and her family had arrived, not only proclaiming Jon Snow as having the heart of a true Stark, and deserving the title for his bravery and skill in battle, but also producing Robb Stark’s will.

“He gave it to Dacey after Greyjoy burned Winterfell, and the rumors of Bran and Rickon’s deaths were spread.” She told them in her high, clear voice. The mention of Greyjoy normally would have soured Jon's mood, but in the present context he was too curious to spare the cretin much thought. Besides, the coward had fled during the Battle of the Bastards, robbing Rickon the opportunity to confront him for his crimes.

“She sent one of her men to Bear Island with it, for safekeeping. It names you Jon Stark, heir of Robb and the next King in the North.” Lyanna held the scroll up for all to see, then passed it to Jon himself, who read it in shock.

Jon keenly felt the loss of his brother, who he now saw every time he looked at Rickon. Robb was the golden child, cheerfully confident and good at everything. He had been Jon’s best friend, and almost every day Jon wondered what might have happened if he’d ridden south before taking his vows, if he’d joined his brother fighting the Lannisters in their father’s name. I’d likely be dead. He thought ruefully. Dead along with Robb, reckless teenagers riding through the Nightlands eternally, making all the worst decisions in the name of loyalty and honor and love.

Jon was glad his bannermen were chanting his name too loudly for him to have to speak, because he wasn’t sure he’d be able to without his voice cracking. But looking around at the family he had now, the empty hole left by the loss of Robb and the rest of his family was slowly being filled.

By his wild siblings, who had all of Robb’s grit and determination (and stubbornness). By Arya, who couldn’t have looked less like Robb, but embodied him in her ability to take charge of a room, in the way everyone listened when she spoke. By Rickon’s russet hair and Tully blue eyes, who even made the same faces that Robb used to make.

And by Gendry’s fraternity, his easy and immediate friendship, the way he would sometimes catch Jon’s eye and shrug, and grin in a way that told him he understood. Gendry understood Jon the way only another bastard could, in a way Rickon and Arya could not.

 

As the people cheered his name, he clasped hands with his siblings, Arya on his left, and Rickon on his right. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Arya holding hands with Gendry, and Rickon shyly taking Shireen’s hand in his.

The Starks had had everything taken from them. But the pack had found each other again. And they were going to take it back.

Chapter Text

“Arya!” Gendry’s voice boomed across the courtyard, making two serving girls who were carrying laundry jump and drop their loads. He winced, immediately remorseful. He hadn’t meant to be so loud, but his surprise got the best of him. His little wife was unphased, and turned him ever so calmly, a placating smile on her face.

“Husband.” She greeted him in a sweet voice. Gendry took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. He was probably overreacting anyways, but why did she always have to be so- so- stubborn and danger-seeking and Arya-like. That’s what you love about her. He reminded himself.

“Why exactly,” he glared at the guilty-looking wildling men around her, “are you out in the practice yard, dressed as though you’re about to spar and holding a sword?” Still with a serene look on her face, she opened her mouth to answer him, but before she could another angry female voice came from behind him.

“Gendry Baratheon!” The small voice piped up. “Do you mean to tell me that it was you who I just heard bark at Arya like that?” Gendry whipped around to see a frowning Shireen sweeping up to him, dressed identically to Arya, with a sword in her hands and Rickon and Lyanna Mormont flanking her. The usually sweet and gentle twelve year old suddenly looked rather intimidating. 

“I didn’t mean to yell, I’m just concerned for her wellbeing Shireen.” He turned back to his wife. “We agreed last week that she wouldn’t be sparring anymore.”

You and Jon agreed I wouldn’t be sparring anymore. I agreed to no such thing.” Arya pointed out. “Besides-”

“Why in the seven hells wouldn’t Arya be sparring?” Rickon snorted, interrupting her. No one even attempted to correct his language anymore, the boy was a lost cause and besides that they all swore too often to judge. “And why would Jon want her to stop? He doesn’t care if she’s a lady.”

“It’s not quite a question of me being a lady or not.” Arya informed the group of preteens before her, taking her place by her husband’s side and linking her arm with his. They had agreed to not tell anyone about the baby until later on during the pregnancy, since there was so much else going on at Winterfell to focus on. It had already brought up several questions about Arya’s suddenly un-Arya-like behavior (this was the first time this week she’d been seen anywhere near the practice yard) and they’d been planning on announcing it to a select few in two days. Based on the curious looks these three were giving them, there were going to have to move that announcement up.

“Gendry and Jon were just concerned because, even though Maester Sam said it would be perfectly fine as long as I was careful-”

“Which you never are.” Gendry pointed out.

“Which I sometimes was, and now will always be.” His wife corrected testily, before returning her attention to the kids. “Well, it’s not just me I have to look out for anymore.” She placed her other hand on her stomach, and although Rickon still looked confused, Lyanna’s eyes widened with surprise, and Shireen’s shone with delight, all of her irritation towards Gendry instantly dissipating as she rushed forward.

“Truly?!” She squealed, placing her palm on Arya’s stomach as though she’d be able to feel the baby underneath. Gendry didn’t bother telling her Sam had told them that the baby wouldn’t begin to move for another two or three months (mostly because he was sure Arya would make fun of him if he did, since he eagerly placed his own hand on her stomach several times a day in hopes of feeling his child move). Shireen looked between Arya and Gendry, her blue eyes impossibly wide.

“But then Gendry and Jon are right! You don’t want to risk anything. My mother stayed in bed for her entire last pregnancy.” She told them, a tiny shadow coming into her eyes, as it always did when she spoke of her absent mother. Gendry wanted to try to keep Arya from being too wild, but he didn't think Selyse Baratheon's methods- or what he'd heard of them, at least- were proper either. Lyanna snorted behind Shireen.

“Of course Arya can still spar! My mother did all through her pregnancy with me and all the rest of my sisters. Us Northerners are made for it.” She informed them proudly. Realization finally flickered across Rickon’s face, and his jaw dropped.

“Arry, you’re pregnant? With a baby?” He demanded, dumbstruck. Arya giggled at her little brother’s denseness and nodded.

“And as for sparring, I’ve decided to come to a compromise. I’ll show you lot how to spar, since you’re all young and not all that experienced, so I’m much less likely to even accidentally get hurt. And I’ll stop once I get too large.” She smiled at her younger brother. “When Mother was pregnant with you, she was so big around the middle by the end she could hardly walk.”

Rickon frowned, apparently trying to decide if this was an insult or a compliment.

“That is a very rational compromise.” Gendry murmured, kissing the top of Arya’s head. She elbowed him playfully and grinned up at him.

“No need to sound so surprised. Not every choice I make is brash. And I was going to tell you, it only just occurred to me this morning after you’d already gone off to the forge.” Before they could converse once more, Shireen was commanding their attention again, asking a million and one rapidfire questions about the baby.

“Do you think it will be a boy or a girl? Ooh- what if it’s twins?” Gods, Gendry thought, exchanging an alarmed look with Arya, two babies at once?

“What will you name it? When is it going to arrive? Have you-”

“We’ll answer all of your questions, but later.” Arya told the excited young girl, laughing. “I’m sure Gendry’s hungry after working in the forge all morning, and besides that it’s time for your first waterdancing lesson.” Lyanna and Rickon looked eager to stop with the babytalk and begin practicing, but Shireen looked slightly crestfallen. She only agreed to the arrangement once Arya and Gendry absolutely promised they’d discuss the pregnancy with her soon.

His own stomach growling, Gendry kissed his wife on the cheek, promised once more that he would tell Shireen everything, and headed off, just barely hearing Rickon’s suspicious voice saying he thought they were learning how to fight, not dance.


 

Hours later, when Arya finally entered their chambers for the night she found Gendry in his chair by the fire, his skin still slightly pink from the heat of the water he’d scrubbed the soot off his face with. She’d been held up in a meeting with Jon and Davos to try to discuss what they were going to do about the Dragon Queen’s beckons- they still hadn’t come to an agreement, Jon wanted to go, but Arya and Davos thought he was needed in the North.

Before they could even begin to discuss that though, Jon had expressed his disappointment at not being able to be there when she and Gendry "gave everyone the news," and begged to hear every detail of everyone's reaction. He and Gendry act more like starry-eyed little girls than I do.  Arya thought fondly. Of course, Davos still hadn't heard the news, so Arya let Jon tell him, and then it was another several minutes of congratulations and cooing and excitement before they could actually discuss the matter at hand.

All in all, Arya was exhausted, ready to collapse into her husband’s warm embrace. She still felt a flutter of excitement whenever she remembered that they were married- officially each others, forever- and happily sauntered over to him, discarding her outergarments in a trail behind her on her way. He kissed her warmly when she slid onto his lap in just her smallclothes, but all too soon he frowned and pulled away.

“I am sorry about earlier love, I didn’t mean to yell.” He apologized. She reached up to caress his sweet, troubled face, offering him a warm smile.

“I know.” He’d told her before about his childhood, always having to deal with the loud and angry men his mother would bring home, who would inevitably shout at her (or him) and beat her before leaving. He’d promised himself from a young age he’d never yell like that at someone he cared for, and so far as Arya knew today was the first time he ever had. She didn’t even count it really, she had heard in his tone that it was surprise and worry that amplified his voice, not anger.

“It’s fine, really.” She promised him, putting a hand beneath his chin and gazing into his earnest blue eyes. “You were just worried. Besides, I’m sure it looked as though I was going behind your back- which I would never do of course- and I’d be beyond hurt if you ever thought you had to hide something from me.”

He finally smiled, although his eyes still looked slightly troubled. Arya kissed his cheek tenderly and leaned her head against his chest, settling into him. Gendry wrapped an arm around her waist, his hand resting on her stomach, and nuzzled his face into her hair. Such a sweet man. She thought. So unlike the cruel men he knew growing up. 

Gendry hadn't even wanted to bed her once he found out she was pregnant. (Well, when she said wanted... really he was just afraid of hurting the baby.) Arya had put up a huge fuss about it, and ended up dragging him down to Sam's wife Gilly.

"You've had a baby, tell him it's perfectly fine for us to lie together while I'm pregnant!" She'd huffed, hands on her hips. The shy wildling girl blinked several times in surprise (Arya may have forgotten to give her any sort of greeting before diving into the topic) before telling a crimson-faced Gendry that sex was perfectly fine, and could even be beneficial.

"After all, what's good for the mother..." Gilly told them, with a sly wink to Arya. Somehow that turned Gendry even redder, and Arya had ushered him back to their chambers (after shouting goodbye to her new friend of course) gleefully chanting I told you so. They'd had another small battle when Gendry somehow found out sex could induce labor, and that time Arya had to drag him to Sam to convince him that it wouldn't induce labor until the baby was due (Sam explained it in a much less exasperated tone than Arya had, and didn't even call Gendry a stupid bull once.)

 “Did Shireen keep pestering you with questions after I left?” Gendry asked, breaking their comfortable silence and bringing Arya back to the present. Arya chuckled softly.

“Yes, much to Rickon and Lyanna’s annoyance.” She shifted slightly to look up at him. “She keeps wanting to know what we’ll name it.” His brow wrinkled in the expression he always made when he was thinking.

“We haven’t discussed that yet, have we?” He said thoughtfully. Arya shook her head, and he smiled down at her. “Well, what do you think? Eddard, after your father? Robb?” That could be for my brother and Gendry’s father. Arya mused to herself. Although Robert Baratheon was a drunken prat who didn’t deserve a son as good as Gendry.

“Yoren?” Her husband teased, earning a giggle. Although he was the one who brought us together...

“What if it’s a girl?” She asked.

“Catelyn?” He suggested. Arya wrinkled her nose up at him.

“Do you want to name her after your mother?” Arya loved her mother, but there were some things that she still couldn’t quite bring herself to forgive her for. And just thinking of what her mother would say if she could see Arya now, married to a bastard. She’d never see him for who he really is. Arya thought sadly. Just as she never saw Jon.

Gendry was grinning and suggesting more names. As the night went on and they ran out of ideas, the names they suggested became more and more outlandish- "We can't name the child Nymeria silly, that's the wolf's name" "NymeriO then"- and they began having a sort of competition to see who could come up with the silliest one.

”That doesn’t count, it’s not a real name!”

“It is in Braavos.”

”You wouldn’t know, you’ve never been to Braavos!”

Eventually Arya dozed off against her husband’s chest, warm from the fire and his love, and only stirred slightly when she felt him lift her up to carry her over to the bed.

“Good night my love.” He’d whispered, kissing her cheek. “Good night little one.” She felt him brush his lips lightly against her belly before pulling her into his warm embrace to sleep, and her heart was so full she thought it might burst.

Chapter Text

“Good Rickon, just like that! Lyanna, keep your arm up higher or he’ll ring your head like a bell.” Arya instructed the duo, briefly looking away from her own opponent. The children were progressing very quickly in their lessons. Of course, Rickon and Lyanna had some practice already, although Rickon’s skills were mostly defensive. Shireen had no practice to speak of, but in the past few weeks she’d finally grown comfortable with handling the wooden practice swords. What shocked Arya about Shireen was the younger girl’s agility when weilding a dagger.

However, Arya had noticed that whenever she put Rickon and Shireen together to spar, her brother suddenly became a novice again, stumbling and missing more often than not (when he did hit her, they were extremely light taps). The first time he sparred against Lyanna he’d become the same bumbling fool, but then Lyanna shouted at him and they had a huge row, which was only resolved when Rickon stopped holding back when sparring against Lyanna.

“Shireen, make sure you stay sideface.” Arya reminded her. “I’ve had about five chances so far to get you full in the chest.” Shireen corrected her stance and gave Arya a grimace that might have been meant as a smile. The poor girl wanted to be able to defend herself, but Arya knew she would prefer stitching together leather doublets and helping run the household over practicing in the yard. Arya had tried to tell her she didn't need to practice every day- after all, someone had to do those other things- but Shireen had stubbornly insisted that until she could defend herself, she'd spend her free time practicing.

They continued, with Arya shouting out corrections to the children every few minutes, for some time. Arya was starting to feel winded- the baby was tiring her out more and more- when Rickon yelled out to them.

“Gendry’s- ow Lyanna- Gendry’s coming with lunch.” He informed the girls, rubbing his arm where Lyanna had smacked him when his attention was elsewhere.

“That hurt.” He complained to the younger girl.

“You should have been paying attention.” Lyanna shrugged, unremorseful. Rickon scowled at her, but his attention was soon taken by Gendry’s arrival with a large basket of food.

It had become a daily occurrence, Gendry taking a mid-afternoon break to bring them lunch, perhaps spar for a few rounds, and then return to the forge. Arya had a suspicion that he started doing it to ensure she wasn’t taking too many risks, but now it was just for the company. Now that they were at Winterfell with so much to do, Arya saw her husband much less than she was used to, and she was grateful for the stolen time with him. Today, however, that time was cut short.

“Lord Stark!” A soldier that Arya recognized as one of the front gate guards came running into the practice yard. Rickon looked with all of the rest of them, but did not stand or address the man until he received an elbow to the ribs courtesy of Shireen.

“That’s you Rick.” She reminded him in a low whisper. Slightly red-faced, Rickon jumped to his feet.

“Ser?”

“Four people have arrived at the gates. They want to see you. They’re claiming- well, the girl’s claiming she’s your sister.” The entire group was immediately on their feet.

“Get Jon.” Arya's command to Gendry came out as a whisper, but he was already racing off in the direction of Jon’s solar. She herself was hot on Rickon’s heels as he ran to the front gates. She tried not to get her hopes up too high, tried to tell herself it was likely just some girl with red hair, tried not to let herself believe it was truly Sansa. When she finally laid eyes on the tall, thin young woman in the dirty dress and cloak, she almost didn’t recognize her sister. But then she saw her Tully blue eyes, her light copper hair that fell down her shoulder in a neat little braid, the curve of her smile as Rickon shot towards her and enveloped her in a bear hug, nearly knocking her over in the process.

Arya was there a moment later, hugging her sister who she’d thought was lost after the news of her disappearance following Joffrey’s wedding. After Jon arrived and wrapped the rest of the Stark siblings in a bear hug, Arya started to feel slightly claustrophobic, and nimbly slipped out of the embrace.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Gendry speaking to the group that had accompanied Sansa, and nearly burst out laughing when she recognized them.

“So you weren’t lying about wanting to help us.” She greeted them in a bemused voice. The tall blonde woman inclined her head respectfully, and her squire offered a flustered smile.

“That’s just what I was saying.” Gendry told her. “Apparently Brienne and Podrick saved Sansa from Littlefinger in the Vale.” Arya’s eyes narrowed at Littlefinger’s name. He’d come to speak with Lord Tywin when she was at Harrenhal, and she’d never been able to shake the suspicion that he was at least partially responsible for her family's woes. They would get their revenge on him for that.

For now, Arya stepped forward to shake hands with Brienne and Podrick.

“We owe you a great deal of thanks then.” As Podrick mumbled something about it being no bother at all, Arya looked around.

“I thought the guard said there were three people accompanying Sansa?” She asked the group. Brienne sighed heavily and jerked her head back, indicating their fourth was behind her.

“There were. He’s back there.” She told Arya in a resigned voice.

“Sulking probably.” Pod added in an undertone that Arya wasn't sure anyone was meant to hear. Arya stepped around them and took in the hulking man leaning against several barrels of food. When he turned to glare at her, her mouth fell open in surprise.

“How much do you want then?” She demanded once she got over her surprise, drawing herself up to her full height and placing her hands on her hips.

“What are you on about, girl?” The Hound frowned. Arya huffed.

“For her ransom. How much?”

“Nothing. I just wanted to help the little bird.” Arya exchanged a look with Gendry at the ridiculous nickname- little bird? He calls me wolf-bitch. Then she turned back to frown at the Hound.

“You demanded a ransom for me, but you’ll help her out of the goodness of your heart?” Her tone made it clear that she didn't believe him.

“She didn’t try to kill me half a dozen times.” The Hound growled back. Arya rolled her eyes.

“Don’t exaggerate, it was only twice I tried to kill you. Gendry’s the one who knocked you out the third time.”

“Who the fuck is Gendry?” The Hound asked. Arya gestured frustratedly to her husband, who had a hand on her shoulder, ready to pull her back and away from the Hound at any time. “Well you’re the one who provided the distraction, aren’t you?” The Hound pressed on.

Before Arya could retort, she felt a slender hand take hers.

“Arya, come here let me get a good look at you, you look so different than when I last saw you!” Her sister was saying, pulling her away from Clegane and casting what looked like a warning glance at him as she did so. Interesting.Sansa's shrewd blue eyes also looked over Gendry- specifically his hand that was on Arya's shoulder- curiously, but, ever the proper lady, she said nothing.

Arya allowed herself to be drawn back to her family, keeping her grip on Sansa's hand as everyone demanded to know what had happened to Sansa in the past few years.

Jon led the way into Winterfell, holding Sansa's other hand, while Shireen bounced along beside them, insisting Sansa have a hot bath and something to eat. Sansa seemed beyond confused by the little girl, but politely inquired as to who exactly she was, and the little princess eagerly introduced herself. Arya noticed Lyanna talking to Brienne, a slightly star-struck look in her eye, and smiled to herself as she heard Rickon interrogating Gendry as to whether or not he had truly knocked out the Hound, and if Arya had really tried to kill him.

"I mean, he's the Hound how did you do it?" Gendry laughed and delved into the story (conveniently forgetting to mention that they had been bathing and completely nude at the time) and Rickon looked more than a little impressed, shooting Arya a now-familiar look that she was pretty sure meant Rickon approved of his good-brother.

The pack survives. Their pack was coming together again. Arya looked over at the orphans they had taken in, and placed her free hand over her stomach. And the Stark pack is growing. 

Chapter Text

“Is it what you expected, Lady Sansa?” Brienne asked her as they walked to Jon’s solar for dinner. Sansa frowned, thinking, before answering.

“In some ways, yes. In other ways…” She took a deep breath before letting the words tumble from her mouth. “I feel like all of my siblings are in an exclusive group, and I’m on the outside trying to peak in. I don’t think they’re doing it on purpose, I’m sure it’s just a bond built from fighting together and winning back Winterfell. Still…” Brienne put a comforting hand on Sansa’s shoulder, and offered an empathetic smile.

“I’ve always felt excluded, so I understand how you feel. It will likely just take time. You’ve all been through a lot in the past few years, and you’re all very young yet. It’s hard.” Brienne squeezed her shoulder, and Sansa laid her had over the older woman’s. They’d grown close on the trek from the Vale, and Sansa knew Brienne understood exactly how she felt.

Arriving at Jon’s solar, Sansa squeezed Brienne’s hand tightly and the two parted ways. Sansa was hoping the dinner would just be her and her siblings, and besides, Brienne had told her she prefered eating with Pod in the kitchens to dining in any quasi-formal setting.

Jon looked up and smiled at her in greeting when she entered, but he was still half engaged in quiet conversation with the big redhead who had spent the past two days leering at Brienne- Tormund, Sansa recalled his name- and Ser Davos. Arya and Rickon had not yet arrived.

“It’s the diplomatic way to go about things.” Sansa heard Jon quietly insisting.

“I don’t give a rat’s ass about diplomacy.” Tormund stubbornly argued. “It’s a trap.”

“I happen to agree with Tormund on this matter.” Davos said. “You shouldn’t go.”

“Where are you planning on going?” Sansa asked suddenly, surprising them and herself. It had been ingrained in her for the past few years to be meek and quiet while the men were talking. But the past few years had also taught her quite a bit about politics, and she was willing to bet she had more knowledge of diplomacy in her little finger than these three had put together.

“It’s about the Dragon Queen. She requests an audience.” Jon informed her, gesturing to an unfurled scroll sitting on the table before them. The fact that the scroll was nearly flat, with the edges curled only the slightest bit, told her it had repeatedly been flattened out and read.

“She requests you to bend the knee.” Tormund grunted. Sansa turned to her older brother with wide, slightly panicked eyes.

“What- Jon you can’t!” “I’m not going to.” He promised. “But I do need to go down there. She’s on Dragonstone, and we need the dragonglass that’s found there.” Seeing Sansa’s confused expression, he smiled gently. “I’ll explain it all later, I promise. For now we should probably get ready for supper.” The men went about clearing the table, and Sansa assisted, still troubled.

She had just gotten up the nerve to ask again about the Dragon Queen, but before she could, the blacksmith, Gendry, entered the room, an easy smile on his lips. For once, he was completely clean of soot, Sansa noted haughtily.

“Where’s your spearwife?” Tormund asked him in a teasing tone, looking around the muscular man. Gendry sighed heavily as though he had heard this a thousand times before and halfheartedly glared at Tormund.

“Arya’s not my spearwife, she’s my wife. I didn’t steal her.” He grumbled. Tormund merely shrugged. “Anyways, I imagine she’ll be here soon. She and Rickon got caught up talking after training today, and they asked me to go ahead and explain for them.”

Sansa felt as though she was rooted to the spot. She knew Arya and the blacksmith had a rather… unorthodox relationship, but she hadn’t imagined her sister would be so stupid as to marry him. Sansa had been trying to talk to Arya about it for the past few days, but Arya was always busy with one thing or another, surrounded by mixed company. Gendry was a bastard, not someone suited to marry the sister of a king, the sister of the Lord of Winterfell! And besides, everyone knew that marriage was the best way to cement an alliance. Sansa knew better than most.

She wouldn’t marry again, just because Arya was selfish. She couldn’t anyways, she was still married to Tyrion in the eyes of the gods. She was secretly grateful for that, Tyrion wasn’t a bad man, and besides the fact that she was married kept her safe from Petyr for a long time.

Looking around the room, no one else seemed to mind much about the entirely improper marriage. Ser Davos and Tormund had departed to eat on their own, leaving just the siblings for supper on their own. Rickon had arrived, and he and Jon were chatting animatedly with Gendry, not seeming to notice that they were once again excluding her. They both seemed to love the blacksmith.

It didn’t surprise her with Jon, he probably recognized a kindred spirit in the bastard. But Rickon… She missed the younger brother who used to let her carry him around, playing as though he was her baby. As Rickon grew older, they had grown apart slightly, since he started sparring with the other boys, but still, of all her siblings, he and Robb were her favorites. It stung seeing how much time he spent with Arya now, practically glued to her side in the fighting yard.

When Arya finally did arrive, she flitted over to Gendry, kissing him on the cheek before greeting everyone and apologizing once again for her lateness. Sansa tried to ignore the pretty picture Arya and Gendry made, along with the way Gendry’s smile brightened when Arya arrived.

Sansa sauntered over to Arya, gripping her upper arm tightly and drawing her away from the others. The boys pretended not to see the sisters walk away, all taking seats at the table and striking up a lively conversation about Rickon’s sparring progress.

“Arya,” Sansa was trying extremely hard to keep her tone level. “Why did Tormund refer to you as Gendry’s wife earlier?” She was hoping she had merely misheard. Arya grinned impishly at her sister.

“I suppose because I’m married to him.” Sansa’s eyes grew wide, and her bitterness flared.

“But Arya, he’s a bastard!” She argued. “You can’t just-” Arya’s eyes flashed in anger, and she wrenched her arm out of Sansa’s grasp.

“I can and I did!” Her sister growled back angrily. “Him being a bastard is neither here nor there, you stuck up little-”

“It is Arya, you’re a princess, you’re meant to marry to forge an alliance!”

“That was never me Sansa! That was always your dream, not mine! I never even wanted to marry before I met him-”

“Then why did you do it?!”

“Because I love him!” Arya shouted. She and Sansa were no longer keeping their voices down, and out of the corner of her eye Sansa noticed the boys very awkwardly trying to ignore their argument. “You wouldn’t understand.” Arya said in an undertone. Sansa felt an odd jolt in her chest, and a vision of Sandor Clegane popped into her head.

“How would you know what I would or wouldn’t understand?” Sansa hissed.

“You wouldn’t understand what it’s like to depend on someone, to trust them completely. Gendry-”

“Nothing you say will change the fact that he’s a bastard. I don’t care if he has been legitimized-” Arya had raised her hand as though to strike Sansa, but they were both cut off by Jon’s commanding voice.

“Arya! Sansa! That’s enough.” He glared at them both, his grey eyes stern and for a moment Sansa felt as though she was back in the Red Keep, squabbling with Arya while their father tried desperately to calm them down.

She’s the one-” They both started to say at the same time.

“Sit. Down.” Jon’s tone brooked no disagreement, and the girls obediently sat. As far away from each other as possible. Arya kept her steely glare on Sansa as she threaded her fingers through Gendry’s. He whispered something the Arya that Sansa couldn’t hear, and Arya briefly looked away from Sansa to shake her head, and offer her husband a sad smile before murmuring something back.

The Stark family began eating in awkward silence, with Rickon shooting worried glances between the sisters. Arya angrily stabbed at her food, staring down Sansa the whole time, conveying not so subtly that she would rather be stabbing her. Finally, Jon broke the silence.

“Sansa, Gendry is a good man. He-”

“Of course you would take her side.” Sansa snapped back. “You always did, didn’t you? The only person who was ever on my side was Mother!” Unbidden tears rose in her eyes and she angrily tried to blink them back. Not waiting for a response, she shoved her chair back, announced that she’d lost her appetite, and stalked out of the room. She heard Rickon calling her name, but resolutely ignored it, stomping on. Unfortunately, Arya soon caught up to her.

“Don’t you dare act like you were the odd one out growing up.” Her sister growled at her. “We both know it was Jon and me on the outskirts, never quite fitting in. Don’t you dare act like it was you.”

“Father was always on your side!” Sansa retorted. “He was asking for you that last day. He wasn’t asking for his life, or asking for anyone else. He kept asking where you were.” Her voice had gotten quiet, but anger and hurt leaked through. Arya furrowed her brow, but Sansa could see the emotion that she was attempting to hid by contorting her face.

“Because he didn’t know where I was! He knew where you were, at your rightful place by Joffrey’s side-”

“I was forced to be there! You would have been too if you hadn’t abandoned me!” Tears were slowly dripping down Sansa’s face, but Arya didn’t seem to notice.

Abandon you? If I hadn’t left when I did I never would have escaped Sansa! Besides, do you really expect me to believe you would have come with me if I came to you first?” She demanded angrily. Sansa swallowed hard, involuntarily remembering someone else asking her to leave the Red Keep with him, and her stupidly refusing.

“Do you think you would have survived if you had?” Arya pressed on angrily. Sansa shook her head.

“You have no idea what I survived.” She told her in a quiet, angry voice.

“And you have no idea what I have.” Arya retorted. “And I might not have if Gendry hadn’t been with me.” The sudden trace of sadness in her little sister’s voice gave Sansa pause, and she was able to temporarily push away her anger.

“Arya please listen to me.” She took her sister’s hands in her own, and attempted an emotional appeal. “You must annul the marriage. If you say it was unconsummated-”

Arya wrenched out of her grasp and gave a hard bark of laughter. “I don’t think anyone would believe that.” She placed her hand on her stomach, and Sansa’s eyes widened as she took in the small bump that strained against Arya’s tunic. How could she have missed it before?

“You’re with child.” She whispered numbly. “Is that why you married him?” Arya made a disgusted noise, and looked as though she wanted to slap Sansa again.

“I married him because I love him. More than anything in this world. He is mine and I am his, forever.” Arya shook her head sadly at her sister.

“Everyone else understands, why can’t you?” With that, Arya left Sansa standing in the dim corridor, alone.


 

“Listen, Gendry.” Jon unsteadily made his way back over to him, carrying a fourth- fifth?- bottle of wine. “Sansa is my sister, and I love her. I’m thrilled that she’s back at Winterfell and safe. But she is a stone cold bitch.” Gendry snorted with laughter and held his tankard out to be filled.

“It’s true! She always was a bitch, and she probably always will be. It’s just something you have to accept. Like Arya.”

“Hey, that’s my wife you’re talking about.” Gendry joked, taking a swig of wine. Jon shrugged.

“And I’m sure it’s part of why you love her. Ygritte was a tough bitch, and I loved the hell out of her.” Gendry frowned, taking a another gulp before speaking.

“I don’t think they are, really. Bitches I mean. Have you noticed that any woman who isn’t meek is called a bitch? Any woman who speaks her mind.” Jon nodded in agreement.

“You’re right. Even if they’re not even mean. Although, in the case of my sisters and Ygritte, they’re mean. Sansa especially. Ygritte and Arya are just teasing. Usually.” The two laughed again, the humor in everything magnified by their drunken state.

“Besides, even if Sansa and Arya weren’t arguing about this, they’d be arguing about something else. They were always squabbling as children. If I had a drink for every time Robb and I had to separate them-”

“You’d be as drunk as you are now?” Gendry teased. Jon smirked.

“Even drunker.”

They were soon interrupted by the arrival of Arya, dressed in a nightgown and hugging a fur around her to fight the cold.

“I was wondering where you were.” She ruffled Jon’s hair on her way to kiss Gendry hello. “Exactly how much have you had to drink?” She asked, her light voice in stark juxtaposition to her wrathful tone from earlier.

“Almost enough.” Jon replied, offering her a glass. Arya shook her head.

“As much as I’d love to partake,” she pointed to her swollen stomach, and Jon smacked his forehead.

“I totally forgot! Gods maybe I have had a bit too much.” As Jon thought on that point, he took another swig from his goblet, eliciting a flurry of giggles from Arya. Shaking her head, Arya prodded Gendry.

“Seeing as you seem to have drank your fill, are you ready for bed? It’s getting quite late, and I’m quite sure neither of you will want to face the morning if you drink much more.” Nodding in agreement, Gendry unsteadily rose to his feet. Jon sighed heavily.

“It looks as though I shall have to share my bed tonight as well.” Rickon was sound asleep on Jon’s bed, having nodded off somewhere after the second bottle.

“You’ve corrupted him!” Arya pretended to chide them, although she couldn’t keep the smile off of her face. “It seems I’ll have three men to take care of tomorrow morning. I think this may be a record for a fight between Sansa and I.” She mused, before kissing Jon on the cheek.

“Good night, and good luck in the morning.” He grunted a response, and Arya guided Gendry out of the room.

The walk back to their room felt longer than usual, probably due to the amount of stumbling Gendry did on the way. His arm was slung heavily over Arya’s narrow shoulders, but she didn’t seem to mind, teasing him lightly whenever he tripped, never letting him fall.

Once they reached their chambers, Arya helped him heavily fall on the bed, then laid down beside him on her side. She reached over to gently trace his cheekbones, her delicate touch soothing. Gendry turned his face to look at her, and was struck by the impassioned expression on her face.

“I’m sorry for what she said Gendry. She’s just-” Arya frowned and sighed heavily. “I don’t know what she is. But I love you, and that’s all that matters, right?” Gendry rested his hand on her cheek, rubbing soft circles, attempting to clear the frownlines off her face.

“There’s nothing she can say that I haven’t already heard before love. I’ve stopped listening to it, to be honest with you.” He kissed her forehead gently.

“We have each other, and we have our baby, and that’s all that matters.” He moved his hand from her cheek to her stomach. “I love you Arry.”

The baby kicked.

Gendry gazed up at Arya with wide eyes, welling up with joy.

“Have you felt it kick before?” He asked fervently. Arya shook her head and placed her hand over his.

“This is the first time!” An expression of pure happiness brightened his wife’s face.

“Do you think it heard you?” Grinning, Gendry shrugged, then moved so his face was closer to Arya’s stomach.

“I love you baby.” He murmured against her belly. His response was another light kick against his hand, and he looked up at Arya with bright eyes. She was grinning back at him, and all of the negative feelings from earlier in the night faded away.

Gendry had a wife he was crazy about, who through some stroke of luck loved him back. They’d have a baby soon. They were a family. And even if one of his wife’s relatives didn’t like him, Jon and Rickon were like his brothers.

Gendry and Arya continued talking to the baby late into the night, telling it how excited they were to meet it, and how much they loved it. Eventually Gendry dozed off with his hands still on Arya’s stomach, murmuring to his child, with his wife’s hands gently carding through his hair. This is love. He thought to himself. This is family.

Chapter Text

Arya had been refusing to speak to Sansa since their fight. She would acknowledge her older sister when she walked into the room, but any attempt Sansa made to actually converse was met with Arya’s cold indifference, or Arya leaving the room. Her brothers spoke to her, often urging her to apologize to Arya, to get to know Gendry. Even Shireen, the ever-happy, sweet little princess, had scolded Sansa for her words, having heard what happened from Rickon.

The day after her and Arya’s argument, she had spoken with Jon, who tried to help her see Arya’s side of it. What he didn’t know was that Sansa understood why Arya had fallen in love, she just couldn’t understand why Arya would succumb to it.

“Love is the death of duty.” Sansa had stubbornly reminded her brother. Jon had smiled ruefully at that.

“Family, Duty, Honor.” He echoed the Tully words and shook his head. “Arya is about as much of a Tully as I am, Sansa. We all always knew she would never follow the proper lady’s path. She’s happy now. She’s happy with him.”

Sansa didn’t doubt him. There was no question of Gendry’s character- once she had thought about it, she had realized that if her wild sister had chosen to tie herself to this man in marriage, he must be something rather extraordinary. Gendry even showed his kindness to her, always greeting her politely, a ready smile on his lips at all times.

And besides being a good man, he made Arya happier than Sansa had ever known her to be. Her younger sister was veritably glowing. It had been hardly a week since Sansa’s homecoming, and already she had accidentally stumbled upon the couple dozens of times. Sometimes she found them kissing, more often they were just talking, always touching each other, whether they were holding hands, or had their arms casually slung around each other’s waists. Every time she saw them, their happiness seemed to radiate outwards, and the deep love for each other was always clearly apparent on their faces. Arya and Gendry looked at each other as though they were each others sole reason for existing. And if that in itself hadn’t melted Sansa’s heart, the first time she heard Gendry speaking to his unborn child certainly did.

An apology was certainly in order. The only remaining difficulty would be getting Arya to listen to her.


 

An opportunity for Sansa to get her sister to listen to her arose only a day later. Unable to sleep, Sansa was pacing her chambers, when suddenly she had a strange feeling that she should head out to the godswood.

It was well past midnight, and the entire castle seemed to be asleep, so Sansa was very surprised to see a candle flickering in the distance, beside the hearttree. As she approached, she recognized her sister’s figure, illuminated by the light. Strangely, Sansa was not surprised to find Arya there. It was almost as if part of her knew she would be there.

Approaching quietly, Sansa took a seat on the ground beside her sister at the foot of the hearttree, carefully leaving a good deal of space between them. Surprisingly, there were two steaming cups of cocoa on the ground beside Arya.

“Were you expecting someone?” She asked suddenly, afraid the newcomer would arrive and interrupt their talk. Arya shook her head.

“Not really. Sometimes Rickon comes out here when he has nightmares. He says the night air helps him, and I think he can feel them here. The cocoa seems to cheer him up too.” Sansa didn’t have to ask who Arya meant by “them.” She too could feel the shades of their ancestors, the comforting presence of her father and eldest brother, when she was in the godswood.

Sansa nodded, and the silence between them grew louder and louder, until, steeling herself, Sansa knew she had begin.

“You’re happy with him, aren’t you?” She asked her hands quietly. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Arya’s eyebrows shoot up. Clearly she hadn’t expected this topic. Continuing, Sansa forced herself to turn towards her younger sister.

“I’ve never seen you this happy, except when talking with father or playing with Jon when you were very small. Now, you’re happy all the time. It’s because of him, isn’t it?” Of course, Sansa already knew the answer to the question, but she didn’t know how else to start. The corners of Arya’s mouth began to turn up softly.

“He… balances me.” The younger girl said thoughtfully, her right hand coming to rest above her womb. Sansa sighed before going on. She just had to help Arya see why she had reacted so hysterically.

“It scared me. Learning that you had married for love, and not for an alliance. Arya, Robb was murdered because he married for love.”

“I know. I saw.” Arya’s voice was toneless, but a muscle in her face spasmed.

Sansa’s eyes widened in horror. “You… saw?” Arya nodded.

“I was there. Gendry and I were trying to get to the Twins, to join Robb and Mother. But by the time we got there it was too late.” Arya’s large, serious grey eyes met Sansa’s, and she could see tears glistening there. “Sansa, I would be dead too if it wasn’t for Gendry. He got me out of there. He took care of me after, when I…” Arya trailed off and shook her head as though to clear it.

“I understand why Robb married Talisa. I’m sad for all that’s happened because of it, but I understand why he did it. Because when you love someone like this, it’s as though nothing else matters. I love Gendry more than I ever thought possible.”

“Because he saved you?” Sansa asked, thinking of her own rescuer. Arya looked at her, a gentle smile on her lips. It was the sort of smile you would give a simple child who was failing to grasp an easy concept.

“No, I loved him far before that. Of course, I didn’t realize it until I thought I’d lose him, and I wouldn’t admit it until long after that.”

And Arya explained about their trek from King’s Landing with the Night’s Watch, about being captured by the Mountain’s men. Despite knowing that Gendry was alive and well, a cold hand of fear for her goodbrother clutched Sansa’s heart when Arya, her voice shaking, told her about the day that Gendry was chosen to be the victim for the rats.

“After that, I decided I wouldn’t let anyone take me from him ever again.”

Feeling like a true sister for the first time in a long time- possibly ever- Sansa listened intently as Arya relayed the rest of her love story. She laughed at the appropriate times, like when Arya told her how jealous she grew of any girl who flirted with Gendry-

“Not that the stupid bull noticed any of them,” Arya had noted with a fond smile. After seeing how Gendry lit up whenever he saw Arya, Sansa couldn’t picture him even noticing another woman. He looks at her as though she’s the Maiden herself.

She’d gasped when she heard how they had run from the Red Woman and the Brotherhood, how they were forced to fend for themselves, to depend entirely on each other. It was clear that theirs was a love borne of friendship first, strengthened by the deep, strong bond that connected the two of them, which would never be severed.

By the end of Arya’s tale, the sun was beginning to paint the land in shades of pink and orange, and the sisters were leaning against each other, finishing off their now cool cocoa.

“I’m sorry for how I acted Arya. And not just this past week, but always. I wasn’t the sister I could have been.” Sansa apologized. Arya shrugged.

“It’s not as though I was an easy child to get along with.” She smiled sweetly up at her sister. “Of course, we have time to make up for all of that now. And I’m sure you’ll be a perfectly lovely aunt.”


 

Jon and Rickon found the girls in a pile at the foot of the hearttree a few hours later, when they went to the godswood for morning prayers. Grinning at each other, they prayed in silence as to not disturb the girls. Then, dropping their cloaks over their sisters’ sleeping figures, they quietly departed.

“Now we can be a real family again.” Rickon whispered excitedly to Jon as they walked back to the castle. Grinning, Jon rustled his younger brother’s russet curls.

Chapter Text

“Gendry.” Arya’s musical voice sounded far away, and he began to stir from sleep as soft lips brushed light kisses over every inch of his face.

“Wake up my love.” She lilted, pulling him further into consciousness. Gendry felt her shift her weight to straddle his hips, and her lips started pressing kisses down the length of his throat.

For a few moments, Gendry basked in her kisses, allowing himself to slowly awake in the arms of his love. Then her kisses became impatient little nips as she trailed farther down, from his chest to his abdomen. When she kissed a spot just above the edge of his smallclothes, he let out a noise halfway between a growl and a moan and grabbed Arya by the upper arms, eliciting a delighted squeal as he lifted her up to capture her lips in his own.

“Good morning little wolf.” He murmured once he released her.

“Good morning.” She purred back, rocking her hips lightly against his morning wood. “Good dreams last night?” She asked knowingly. Gendry grinned up at her and rolled them so he was hovering above her.

“The best. I had a dream that you were my wife. I believe you were telling me how much you loved me when you woke me.”

Arya looked extremely pleased with his answer, but raised her eyebrows at him. “You’re hard because you dreamt I said ‘I love you?’” She asked doubtfully. Gendry grinned wickedly at her.

“I didn’t say what you were doing when you said it.” Her eyes began to sparkle in a familiar salacious way.

"Well have I got good news for you.” She rolled them so she was on top once more. “Not only am I your wife and completely in love with you,” she leaned down so her lips brushed his ear and dropped her voice into a low murmur, “but I’m also quite willing to do whatever it is you dreamed up.” She punctuated her words by lightly grinding against him. Gendry pressed his lips to hers in a hard, passionate kiss. His voice was slightly husky when he drew back again to speak.

“In that case you are wearing entirely too much clothing.” Arya happily stripped off the nightshirt (which was really just one of his shirts) that she was wearing, revealing that, as usual, she wore no smallclothes underneath. Gendry ghosted his calloused palms from her waist up to her breasts, caressing his wife’s soft curves. She shivered slightly as he gently massaged her breasts, brushing his thumbs over her nipples until they hardened to little pink nubs.

Always less patient than him, Arya tugged at the knot on his smallclothes, rapidly untying it and easing them off. Biting her lip and gazing at him with half-lidded eyes, she took his length in hand and began to slowly stroke him.

“Was this in your dream?” She asked, minx-like. Gendry nodded.

“Mmm. And this.” He skimmed his right hand back down her body, stopping when he reached her core. Arya let out a happy sigh when he slowly slid two fingers into her slit, which he found already slick with arousal. Much to Arya’s chagrin, he drew his hand back, but her expression turned galvanized once more when she watched him lap her juices from his fingers.

“Gendry.” She groaned, her hand tightening around his hard length. She wanted more. Arya hated teasing (or she did when she was the one being teased), which was probably why Gendry so enjoyed teasing her. That being said, Gendry was still terrible at telling her no.

Conceding, Gendry flipped them so he was on top and slowly penetrated her. He may have given in, but he was doing it his way, making love to her at a much slower pace than Arya favored. Arya moaned impatiently as he drew back and entered her again in his unhurried way, but her moan became more of a growl when he bowed his head and took her left nipple lightly between his teeth and swirled his tongue around her breast. Her breasts had become much more sensitive in the past few months and weeks, and any attention he paid to them nearly always left her gasping for breath.

He left a trail of wet, open-mouthed kisses between her breasts before giving the other one the same treatment. At the same time, he moved his hand back down to her core, rubbing small circles on her clit as he slowly drove in and out of her. Arya buried on hand in his hair and the other tightly gripped his bicep as she let out a string of keening moans and breathy expletives. Replacing his mouth with his hand, Gendry lightly nibbled her earlobe.

“This is what you were doing,” he murmured into her ear, “in my dream.” She turned her head to kiss him hard on the lips.

“I love you Gendry.” She whispered back. Grinning, Gendry increased the pressure of his thumb on her clit, and almost immediately Arya fell over the edge, closing her eyes tightly as her body convulsed with her orgasm, her core milking Gendry’s cock and pulling him over with her. Her hand tightened in his hair, pulling it in an entirely pleasant way, and another series of curses interspersed with his name fell from her lips.

Once he had ridden out their orgasms, Gendry collapsed onto the bed beside her, drawing her tightly against his chest and kissing her hair.

“That was much better than my dream.” He told her sleepily. She laughed and kissed his chest. For a few moments they laid there, snuggling into each other’s arms. The lazy aftermath of morning sex always made it his favorite. He coudl think of nothing he'd rather do than cradle his wife in his arms.

All too soon, Arya sighed and drew back just enough that she could look into his eyes.

“It’s too bad they’ll be looking for us at breakfast.” She said, tracing his cheekbone. “I didn’t even get to show you my dream yet.” Gendry felt a wolfish grin spread across his face.

“I suppose you’ll just have to show me tonight then.” Arya smirked back.

“I suppose I will.”

Chapter Text

Something was up with Jon. He had been distracted during breakfast, and afterwards out in the practice yard she had noticed him making several mistakes he hadn’t made in years. She would have said something then if she was his partner, but Jon refused to spar with her since he’d found out she was pregnant. Gendry had tried to stop as well, but was much more easily bent to Arya’s will.

Telling the children she felt ill and to keep up the good work, Arya flitted off after Jon when he left the yard, still looking a bit dazed. She followed him up into his solar, but he was so distracted that he didn’t notice her behind him until she spoke.

“You’re going, aren’t you?” It was more of a statement than a question. Jon turned to her, looking equal parts surprised and wary. He knew how she felt about the Dragon Queen’s invitation.

“Where did you come from? I didn’t hear you.”

“I followed you from the yard. You should keep a better guard up.” Jon rolled his eyes at that, but his right hand absentmindedly drifted to the space above his heart where she knew he had a stab wound. In his defense, no one in Winterfell would ever dream of hurting their beloved king.

“Well? Have you decided?” Arya pressed when Jon said nothing. He gave her a long, searching look before answering.

“I’ve decided. I’ve been decided for some time now, you know that. I meant to have already gone, but then Sansa arrived and there are so many things to be done here.” He ran a hand through his curly locks, pushing them back, and sighed. “There will never be a right time to go.”

“So don’t go.” Arya’s voice came out much smaller and sadder than she meant it too, and Jon shot her a sympathetic look, reaching out to place a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“You know that I have to. We need the Dragonglass if we’re going to fight the Others.”

“Send someone else.” Arya demanded desperately. “I know we need it, but you must be able to send someone else. I only just got you back.” Jon shook his head solemnly.

“It has to be me little sister. I’m the one the Dragon Queen wants.” She knew he was right. But she didn’t have to like it. Arya clenched her teeth hard to keep from crying, and Jon swept her up into a tight hug.

“It’ll be fine. I’m sure I’ll be able to reason with her.” Jon assured her. If he can’t, we’re all lost. Arya added bitterly in her head. Without the Dragonglass that Sam had told them was at at Dragonstone, they stood no chance against the Others.

“When do you leave?” Arya asked. Jon tensed slightly against her, and paused before answering.

“Three days. I was going to discuss it with everyone over supper. I was going to tell you first, I just didn’t know how exactly.” He admitted, taking a step back from her so he could see from her expression how she took the news.

“It’s soon.” She sighed sadly. Jon swallowed and nodded.

“Well, yes but- I just- I’ve been putting off telling you. I only decided officially last night. I can’t- we’ll need time to forge all the weapons from the Dragonglass, and we don’t have time.” He tried to explain. Arya frowned and pursed her lips tightly. She didn’t like it, but she understood. He had to do what he felt was necessary. And as king, that rarely meant that he could do what he wanted.

Jon offered her an only slightly strained smile.

“I won’t be gone long. You’ll see, I’ll be back before the baby is born.” He placed a hand on her stomach to illustrate his point. They both knew it was a promise that he could not keep. There was a good chance that this Queen Daenerys would kill him as soon as he arrived, but it was a chance they had to take.

Arya and Jon knew that, but the baby did not. And the baby chose that moment to kick. Arya took it as a good omen and felt a real smile replace her grimace, and saw a true grin spread across Jon’s face.

“See? The baby knows. Don’t you little one?” The last words were said in a goofy, higher-pitched voice that made Arya laugh, and they were met with another little kick from the baby.

“You better be back to meet the wee thing. It’ll need a good influence every once in a while.” Arya teased, trying to lighten the mood.

“What about Gendry?” Jon quirked an eyebrow up at her. Arya smirked back at him.

“I’m much too good at corrupting him. He needs someone else to keep him sane.”


 

The two spoke for a bit longer, somehow managing to push aside all thoughts of Jon’s impending departure. Instead they focused on happier discussion points, like Rickon and Shireen’s innocent young romance, and how Sansa and the Hound thought no one knew about their feelings for each other (including each other- the two were so deeply in denial it was almost painful).

Finally Davos came to fetch Jon and mentioned that Gendry was looking for Arya. Apparently the children had told him she was ill, and he was concerned when she wasn’t in her chambers. Of course, he wasn’t that concerned, because he was well aware that Arya could take care of herself.

Although Arya had cheered considerably while gossiping with Jon, the second she left his presence she was nearly overcome with emotion regarding his coming absence. And Arya Stark Baratheon had long ago discovered her favorite way to deal with emotions caused by her family. So she marched into the forge, where Gendry was just finishing cleaning up for the day, grabbed his hand, and started pulling him towards the door.

“I want to spar.” Worry lines immediately creased her husband’s face, and he shot a concerned glance at her stomach. He began to open his mouth to protest, but caught sight of her expression and nodded.

“Just for a bit.” He acquiesced, allowing her to drag him out to the practice yard. He didn’t ask what was wrong, knowing she would tell him in her own time. He did, however, put an extra layer of leather armor on Arya before picking up his wooden practice sword.

Sparring helped Arya get all of her frustration and fear out, and she attacked Gendry almost viciously- although his own skill had increased so he was able to block nearly all of her blows. Besides, the extra layer of heavy armor slowed her down and her wild emotions were making her clumsy. Had Gendry been a proper foe she was sure she’d be dead, since he had many an opening to hit her. Of course, he didn’t dare do more than lightly tap her with his sword, careful to give her stomach wide berth.

All too soon Arya was out of breath and exhausted, and the baby was kicking furiously in protest at all of her movement. With a tired huff, she slumped out of her position, and a moment later her panting husband was by her side, a hand on her elbow guiding her to back to the storeroom where the armor and swords were kept. She struggled with the knots on her leather armor, but Gendry’s strong, sure fingers were there to free her from the heavy garments.

“Thank you.” She said softly. Whether the thanks was for sparring with her or for helping her out of the armor, she wasn’t sure. Gendry gently caressed her cheek.

“Of course love.”

Arya laced her fingers through his and held his hand tightly as he led the way back to their chambers. As he did whenever she was upset, he patiently waited for her to say what was bothering her, filling the silence with a description of the pieces he worked on today in the forge. She didn’t really reply until the door to their chamber was shut behind them.

“Jon’s going south.” She told him tonelessly as he finished his description of a pair of gauntlets. He grimaced, but didn’t seem all that surprised.

“You knew?” She demanded. Gendry held his hands up and shook his head.

“I guessed. We all knew he was thinking about it, and Rickon rather suspiciously asked me yesterday if Jon had said anything more to you about it.”

“He told Rickon?” Arya asked, momentarily outraged that she hadn't been the first to know. However, once she thought about it, it made sense. When Jon first brought up going south, Rickon had nearly started hyperventilating. He was still young, and afraid of anyone else leaving the safety of Winterfell.

“When is he leaving?” Gendry asked.

“Three days. He’s going to tell everyone else and give more details at supper tonight.” Arya shrugged and flopped onto their bed. The fight had gone out of her, and now she was just tired and sad. Gendry came over and sat beside her, taking her hand in his and tracing soothing patterns on her palm.

“It’ll be okay Arry. Jon’s smart, and he’s more tactful than the rest of you Starks. Perhaps not Sansa, but you and Rickon for sure-”

“That isn’t saying much.” Arya pointed out, but Gendry pushed on, determined to cheer her up.

“It will all work out love. You know it will.” She didn’t though, and neither did he. But when he wrapped her in his warm embrace, it was hard not to believe him.


 

The morning of Jon’s departure was a sad one. The onl thing anyone could really think about was the last time a Stark had gone south. Arya and Rickon were in a better mood than he had expected, but he attributed it to Gendry doing his damnedest to cheer them up. Shireen was trying to stay cheerful as well, but was tearfully clutching the doe Ser Davos had just given her to match the stag he had already made her. Sansa alone was the only one who managed to keep on a brave face, and Jon felt a pull on his heartstrings as he realized that her ability to mask her emotions was the only thing that kept her alive.

Early that morning, Sansa had given him a cloak with the Stark emblem on it. It was all Jon could do to bite back tears as he embraced his once-estranged sister, grateful now more than ever that the surviving Starks were now all united as one. As Jon finished checking over his supplies for the final time, Arya spoke from somewhere behind him.

“I’m still offended that you’re putting Sansa in charge and not me.” His little sister huffed.

“I second that.” Rickon piped up. “I am Lord Stark after all.” Jon sighed heavily.

“Sansa’s the eldest, and she knows the most about running a household. Besides all that, if you recall, I tried putting the two of you in charge before she got here, and both of you told me you’d rather- oh.” He had turned around during his little speech, and caught sight of Arya and Rickon struggling to hold back laughter as Sansa fondly rolled her eyes at their antics. Leave it to his two wild siblings to find humor on this bittersweet day.

“Come here you.” He grabbed Rickon and pulled him into a tight embrace, mussing his hair. “I’ll be back soon, I promise. In the meantime you have to promise to listen to Sansa. She knows more about leading people than you could imagine.” His younger brother nodded seriously, his face mature beyond his years.

Next he hugged Shireen, asking her to take care of Rickon for him in an undertone. She nodded eagerly. He had already said his goodbyes to Sansa, and just hugged her and thanked for for taking care of things in his absence before moving on to Gendry.

“Keep Arry out of trouble, will you?” He joked as he embraced his good-brother.

“I’ll do my best.” Gendry grinned back.

“We’re in the middle of a war with the richest family in Westeros, you’re sailing south to meet a queen with dragons who wants you to bend the knee, there’s an army of undead ice people in the North that want us all dead, and I’m pregnant. What more trouble do you think I can get into?” Arya scowled. Jon grinned at her and ruffled her hair.

“I’m sure you’ll manage to find something.” Arya huffed and tackled him with an embrace.

“Promise not to do anything stupid to get yourself killed.” She begged.

“I promise.” He solemnly vowed. “I’ll be back before you know it Arr.”

Releasing his sister, Jon got into the saddle of his horse and, sparing another wave for his loved ones, began the journey south.