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Of Steel and Snow

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“You look just like her,” the Targaryen advisor spits. The mummer’s dragon that he serves looks at her, his deep amethyst eyes curious and apprehensive. His sworn shield – the one they call Duck – subtly places his right hand on the hilt of his sword.

Smart, Arya thinks. She allows herself another glance at the Targaryen prince, her steel grey eyes looking him over carefully. It has been so long. He is a man grown now. The prince remains unperturbed by her probing gaze, but he shifts a bit in his seat, his arms carefully folded on his lap while his back straightens just the tiniest bit more, making him look more regal than he was. The curious look in his eyes was gone in less than a minute as he starts to analyse Arya as she was doing to him.

A sudden pang of familiarity strikes Arya hard as she recalls how her father and brother used to do the same to strangers, foes and deserters who happened upon Winterfell. But this is not the time for Arya Stark the child to resurface, no, she will have time for that once Winterfell is in the hands of a Stark after she takes down the Bolton Bastard.

Connington’s scowl deepens as she continues to evaluate the Targaryen boy. “We ought to have you beheaded for your father’s treachery. Your Grace, give me the command and her head shall –“

“ ‘The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword,’ my traitor father once said,” Arya says, coldly, her eyes never leaving the prince’s. “If the future King of Westeros does not stick by a principle as noble and simple as that, what business does he have on the Iron Throne?”

Everyone in the small tent-turned-council-room bristles visibly. But Aegon Targaryen, the Sixth of His Name, smiles and Arya cannot help but understand why so many songs were written about the ethereal beauty of the Valyrian Kings and Queens of Old.

“And have I ever claimed that Eddard Stark was not a wise man, dead before his time?” Aegon counters, not unkindly. A strange look crosses his face and his jaw clenches subtly before he schools his features, careful not to let his emotions show in front of his men.

“Forgive us, my lady. We have not encountered many ladies whose only entourage is a pack of rabid wolves," he continues, a small, secretive grin on his face.

Arya raises her brow. “Then you must also realize that it is not wise to hire a Hand who dares threaten a lady who could easily kill all of you here in this tent.”

At that, Jon Connington steps forward, his face red with anger as he raises his arm to hit her. Deep, guttural growls fill the tent as a direwolf the size of a grown horse enters from the open flap of the tent. The few soldiers situated at the entrance of the tent raise their swords at the wolf, only to shake as the she-wolf bares her fangs at those fool-hardy enough to stand against her.

As the tent erupts in a slight chaos with Connington screaming orders at the men to restrain the beast and Aegon’s sworn shields pointing their swords at Arya. She pays them no mind and looks only at the silver-haired prince. He does not seem ruffled however a flicker of fear flits through his eyes as he stares at the direwolf in a mixture of awe and wonder.

“Ask your men to stand down and I shall ask mine to do so as well, Prince Aegon,” Arya orders and Aegon – the smart man he is – orders the men to leave the room in spite of Connington’s outraged protests. The prince looks uncertain for a moment before he sends his advisor and sworn shields out with a firm look. “Don’t worry,” Arya grins wolfishly at the old man. “I won’t harm your king. Wolves do not take well to the fire of dragons, my lord, or have you forgotten?”

With a snarl, Jon Connington glares at the Stark girl before storming out of the tent, "Your Grace, I shall wait for you in your tent. We will talk then."

Once everyone has left, Arya lets out a breath and smiles at Aegon, a genuine one that turns the steel in her eyes to a molten silver. “Nymeria,” she calls out. “Leave us please.” She hears her wolf exit the tent to stand guard but her eyes never leave the prince’s amethyst ones. She watches as Aegon’s breath hitches as he steps towards her. The emotions he had guarded so carefully before are now clear for the world to see. He was not as adept as she was yet, but she had taught him well when she was still wearing the face of a simple maid from Braavos on a voyage to Westeros.

“I’ve missed you, Cat,” he says, his eyes so soft that Arya cannot help but remember the way those very eyes of his had burned with passion and lust every time they laid together.

He raises his hand to caress her cheek but Arya stops his hand with hers before she says, “You knew the moment I entered.” It was not a question but Aegon nods anyway.

She knows that the day she left, she never should have returned. She had a mission, a list to fulfill; and he had kingdoms to conquer, people to rule, wars to command. But a part of her also knows that she will always belong to him, as she belonged to Jon. Different roads lead to the same castle.

Aegon leans into her, his arms dropping to wrap around her waist as he breathes in her scent. She tenses but does not push him away. “It doesn’t matter whose face you’re wearing, I will always know you, Cat,” he whispers and Arya has to force herself to stop acting like Sansa used to. She remembers how much her heart had swelled for him when he kissed her gently over and over after she had told him the truth of her past as a Faceless Man. She had kept her true identity a secret and he knew it, but he never pushed her.

She thinks he might have feared that pushing her would meant losing her. He was not wrong.

He touches his forehead to hers and continues, “Your sword – Needle – was on your right hip, and you had your hair in a braid like you did the first time I saw by the docks – a Northen braid, must I add." Aegon smiles teasingly, "And who else would dare command the future King of the Seven Kingdoms if not you?”

Arya leans back into his touch, and marvels with satisfaction at the way his pupils still dilate whenever she reciprocates his intimate touches. “You have learned to see. Good, you will need it when you take the Seven Kingdoms.” She pulls away before they can get carried away.

“I came back to swear you my fealty, but I do not represent the North, do you hear me, Griff? Once I retake Winterfell, should the Lords of the North insist on Northen independence, I shall stand by my people. I will not have my brother die disgraced with promises unfulfilled and I will not have my people continue to suffer under Southern rule.” she says firmly. “They have suffered enough as it is with winter coming.”

Aegon sighs, and suddenly they are no longer Cat of Braavos and Griff of Tyrosh, simple children who fell in love on the barracks of the Shy Maid. “Very well, Arya Stark. I promise you that no harm shall befall the North, but for the independence of your home,” he pauses, conflicted. “I will try my best to persuade the high lords once the South is ours.”

Arya nods. If Robb was here, he would have lashed out in a fit of controlled anger, full of demands that the North is guaranteed independence immediately, but Robb is dead. He fought bravely, he fought nobly and his people loved him for it. But Robb is dead, and she is not.

Realization hits her as she takes in what Aegon had said, and she cocks her head. She could almost hear the Kindly Man admonish her for doing what Arya Stark used to do when she had to be No One instead. “What do you mean, ‘ours’, Aegon Targaryen?”

Aegon meets her eyes again and damn him, Arya is not Lyanna but the look in his eyes and the crooked smile on his face does not help matters.


 

His men will think him a fool. No, Griff was the fool here, not Aegon Targaryen. A fool in love, Aegon muses, a blue-haired fool who fell in love with a maiden named Cat with the sharpest tongue and the most beautiful grey eyes. They had not think much of it when they sparred against each other in Braavos nor did they give their future much thought on the Shy Maid as they sailed to Westeros.

They were young, hot-blooded and foolish. The days were filled with laughter and teasing winks where both forgot the burden they bore on their shoulders. Young Griff had lived for those days but he loved the nights even more so, when they ravaged each other until neither could move without their muscles screaming in protest.

Aegon closes his eyes as he tries to sleep.

Memories of Cat, no, Arya’s lewd moans as she tightened her thighs around his waist keeps him awake as they always have. He feels his breeches grow tighter as he pictures the way the bed would rock uncontrollably under them as he pistoned in and out of her, the sheets beneath them already stained wet beyond repair from all the times they had come. Aegon shakes his head. It is not right of him to be thinking of Arya like this, not after they had just reunited. 

But oh, the sight of her in the tent, with her head held high, her eyes glinting like polished steel and her body leaner than it was before she left have left him aroused and wanting for more. He could see the way she turned heads as she walked through their camp in Dragonstone. She was a true Northern beauty, beautiful grey eyes framed by long lashes with rosy lips stretched in a smile. She was already comely when she wore the face of the blond Braavosi maid as Cat, but her true face was more breathtaking than Aegon could ever imagine.

Against his will, he remembers the way he had taken her against a wall in Braavos, hard and rough and fast - just the way she liked it; the way her perk nipples felt as he sucked them into his mouth as she moaned loudly while she bucked her hips into his fingers that were already covered in her come; the way her wonderfully tight heat had felt as he thrusted deep inside her, her breathless curses in his ear urging him to go faster, fuck yes! Ah, harder, ahh, please ahhhn, Griff; the lecherous sounds they had made as the melody of their skins slapping and their unrestrained groans filled the air; the sinful scent of sex that always filled their room after several bouts of love-making.

But most of all, he missed the way she would pull him to her after he had finished inside her for the second, third, fifth time. He does not comprehend how she did not get pregnant with all the times they had slept with each other, especially since he had never pulled out of her wet cunt as he came. But he is grateful for it nonetheless. Connington would have turned him into a eunuch if he had gotten Cat with child, although secretly, he had fantasized of silver-haired babes with steel grey eyes.

He misses the warmth of her lithe body as he pulled her close to his chest; the giggles she would let out once in a blue moon when he tickled her.

He misses being just Cat and Griff.

If he could, he would have carried her off and married her in front of a weirwood tree as she so wanted; made love to her every day and every night and filled her full of his babes as they travelled to the edge of the world.

They had japed about their plans together in the depths of the night when they were both warm and sated in each other’s arms, his seed still warm between her thighs and their eyes glazed with the heavenly high of their climax. Their hushed voices were accompanied by the gentle rocking of the ship as they came closer and closer to the day they would part.

The fortnight before they were to dock at Dragonstone, Aegon had come clean to her. He had held her at arms length as he told her the truth, knowing that Connington would have his head for revealing the truth to one of the most skilled fighters on their ship who had yet to reveal who she really was. He had feared her rejection but she merely shook her head and told him that regardless of who he was and how many kingdoms he would have to conquer, she would remember him as Griff of Tyrosh – the ambitious boy she fell in love with despite her initial denial.

She in turn had come clean as well, but Aegon was never truly surprised. No other woman he had met had such talent with blades and poison and pleasure. But Cat was not her real name, he knew, just as how she did not have a sister named Lya nor a half-brother named Ned as she so claimed.

And until today, Aegon flushes with shame as he recalls how – for the slightest moments – he had contemplated in all seriousness of the idea of marrying her there and then before whisking her away with him to Asshai or Old Valyria. When he had told Cat of his plans without a trace of a teasing smile on his face, she had not laughed with him as they did before when they japed about their escape.

“Listen to me, Aegon Targaryen, Sixth of His Name,” she had stressed, her then-blonde hair falling into her grey eyes as she gripped his shoulders so tightly it was almost painful. “You cannot make the same mistake as your father.”
He had protested, saying that they were nothing alike, but she had shushed him, continuing with an almost frantic desperation. “You claim you are not him. Prove it,” she said. “The realm cannot bear to have another foolish King on the throne, we will not survive it. Do you understand?”

Aegon had gritted his teeth at the time, angry at his father for starting a war that tore the kingdoms apart; angry at fate for allowing him to fall in love with the most beautiful Braavosi warrior in the world and for not allowing them to be together.

Days later, when they were finalising their plans in their makeshift war council room, Jon had caught Aegon staring after Cat with unbridled affection and admiration as she argued with his advisors about the best route for them to retake the Seven Kingdoms.

Thinking back, Aegon realizes that if it were not for Cat, they would have been bested on the field, starved or taken captive several times over. It was her who told them of her brother’s victories, how to reenact those victories and how to take Casterly Rock from within; and to Connington’s displeasure, it was Cat who had secured them constant supplies of food from the Free Cities, when Aegon himself had failed to negotiate a mutually beneficial plan with them.

With her plans of distributing food and simple weapons to the smallfolk, Aegon and his host had succeeded in taking the Stormlands without much bloodshed and the people had cheered as he delivered their food himself. “The common folk do not care who dies or who wins in this war, to win them, you must show them that you care before you demand their fealty and love.” Cat had supplied during one of their meetings on the Shy Maid before they arrived in Westeros.

However, regardless of Cat’s prowess and intellect, Jon had grabbed his arm roughly as he warned him not to think of anything beyond a sexual relationship with the blond-haired Braavosi. “She is lowborn and a foreigner, Aegon. To win the throne, you will need alliances. And Arianne Martell of Dorne has already been proferred to you by Prince Doran.” Jon had hissed into his ear. “Your…bedwarmer is smart, I will admit to my displeasure, and should she be of noble birth, I would have encouraged it. She could be a great Queen and a strong shield for you," he had said with grudging approval. "But she is not from a great House, and the Lords of Westeros will never bow to a man with a foreign slut as his Queen no matter how cunning and sharp she is.”

Do not be your father, Jon had sighed at last. Please, Aegon. He had his reasons but I cannot bear to lose another prince.

But as Aegon had claimed many times before, they are not Rhaegar and Lyanna come again. They cannot be Rhaegar and Lyanna come again, for their predecessors had been stupid and reckless. His father had been an utter fool, regardless of what Connington said.

Aegon understands now the allure of Stark women, but his father never truly loved Lyanna. If he did love her as Aegon loved Arya, he would not take her away from her family nor would he have started a war he could not win before he was officially crowned as King.

Even as his eyes start to droop, Aegon cannot help the way his heart clenches at the thought of sleeping with another woman – a woman who was not his Cat, his Arya. Nonetheless, he will not forsake his country nor Arya’s life because of his selfishness as his father had done so before him.

As Arya had always reminded him, the lords and princes and kings who ruled Westeros before him had damaged the realm beyond repair. The people are terrified and the lands are in ruins thanks to the Lannister Queen’s cruelty. They need a King saner than Aerys, kinder than Joffrey, firmer than Tommen and wiser than Cersei. They do not want a King who looks exactly like Rhaegar who had torn the Kingdoms apart for the woman he believed he loved. And even though Arya Stark does, in fact, come from one of the greatest and oldest Houses in the Seven Kingdoms and they could be married without backlash from the other Houses; the Lords of Westeros will never bow to a King from foreign lands accompanied by a woman who looks just as Lyanna did, in terror of history repeating the tragedy of the two star-crossed lovers once again.

As sleep takes him, the tiniest sliver of a plan hatches in Aegon's mind as he dreams of steel grey eyes and direwolves and dragons.

Chapter Text

Aegon looks up from the map at his advisors, a small council consisting of Jon, Duck, Haldon, Septa Lemore and now, Arya Stark. He had argued for two days and two nights with his stubborn Hand before the older man reluctantly agreed to give Lady Stark a seat on the council as their Northern envoy. By the scowl marring Lord Connington’s face, any man with eyes could see that the decision to include a Stark in the King’s council, albeit having been made, will remain as a strife between him and Aegon.

“Well?” he prompts, his eyes jumping from Jon to Arya. Their faces betray nothing but he could see the cogs turning in Arya’s mind as she chewed on her lower lip. His gaze lingers on the bruised-red hue of her lips before she raises her head to meet his eyes. He holds her stare for a brief moment, before Duck steps forward to speak.

“Your Grace,” the Lord Commander begins, his voice steady but unsure. “Pardon me if I have misunderstood, but you want to legitimize Edric Storm to be the Lord of Storm’s End? The very boy fathered by the Usurper himself?”

“Aye.”

Haldon makes a noise akin to a dying horse. “Your Grace, we have just secured the Stormlands, you cannot simply abandon your reign here to some – some bastard so that you could take the North!” The fierce glare Arya shot him made the half-maester gulp nervously before continuing his tirade. “Should the boy betray you, we will lose the Stormlands and perhaps even the Westerlands if he uses the Baratheon troops to take back Casterly Rock for the Lannisters. You’ve a trusting nature, my king,” Haldon says. “And your people love you for it, but this is not the right time for showing the people your forgiveness towards the Houses who had stood against your family.”

Aegon bristled. “This is not about Robert’s Rebellion, Haldon. This is about keeping the peace between the people of the Stormlands and maintaining a balance with House Baratheon, or rather, what remains of House Baratheon.”

Haldon takes a small step back, his mouth set in a grim line. “Your Grace –“

“What about Princess Shireen?” Arya asks, her interruption eliciting a grunt of disapproval from Jon. “She is the last remaining heir of House Baratheon. And a trueborn heir no less.” Haldon bows his head slightly at the blatant jab at his blunt attitude towards bastards. “Regardless, she ought to come before Edric Storm in the line of succession.”

Aegon falls silent as he trails his fingers across the paper scrolls scattered on the table. Jon nods and for the first time since the old man had met Arya, he speaks to her without the barest trace of malice, although a frown remained deeply set into the lines of the lord’s face. “I agree with the lady. Placing Lady Shireen as the Lady of Storm’s End would send a good message to the other lords as well as to the common folk. At the very least, with Stannis and Renly gone, we can use the "princess" to solidify your claim as the rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, and eliminate the threat of House Baratheon.”

Arya lets out a disbelieving gasp, her expression mischievous as she shoots Aegon an exaggerated grin. “My lord, I do believe this is the first time I’ve seen you stop scowling for more than half a minute!”

Jon scowls at her, his eyes carrying more than a tinge of irritation now.

Aegon laughs, his eyes meeting Arya’s before she ducks her head and looks away. As always, her eyes betray nothing but the blush dusting her cheeks a coy pink shade tells him otherwise. He smiles to himself. He thinks he will visit her later that evening when the moon is high. They have not talked properly since her first night at the camp one fortnight ago.

Septa Lemore clears her throat and Aegon snaps his head back up to look at the woman still clad in the dull colours of a septa’s robes. “Forgive me, Your Grace, but I believe we may have forgotten about one more issue.”

“What is it?”

“The North’s demand for independence,” the older lady says with a slight frown. “With the King in the North and the other Stark sons dead, that makes Lady Arya the last true heir of Winterfell.”

Arya shakes her head, her dark locks falling into her eyes. “You’re mistaken. I’m no Lady, and I never will be. My sister – “

“Your sister has been married to a Lannister and since then has vanished. The marriage has not been annulled, therefore the North is currently under the power of the Lannisters.”

Duck adds, “And the Boltons are the ones holding Winterfell for them.”

Arya spits onto the ground, earning her a horrified gasp from Septa Lemore. “May the Others take those turncloaks.”

She looks at Aegon with fire burning in her silver eyes. “I will not give you the North, Aegon. The North was promised independence from southern rulers by my brother and I will honour that promise till my last breath.”

“So you want to be Queen in the North, is it?” Jon growls. “The daughter of the Usurper’s dog wants to rule the seven kingdoms for herself. Yet another treasonous Stark with no honour.”

Arya snarls back at him, “I swore a vow to all the Old Gods and the New to never force my people to die for another king’s war and I intend to fulfil that vow! Until the North is granted independence, your king can look elsewhere for support.”

“It is not about the Northerner’s support, my lady,” Aegon cut in firmly. “It is about your people’s survival.”

The brunette raises her eyebrow, threats of violence gleaming in her gaze, “Is that a threat, Your Grace?”

“No, it is a statement. If your people refuse to bend the knee when all six other kingdoms have, I will be left with no choice but to force them to do so. With whatever means necessary.”

Arya opens her mouth, a scathing comment rising to the tip of her tongue when she falters. Aegon continues, “Without the North, the Crown will lose its legitimacy as a just governance. What happens when I grant the North independence? Will Dorne demand the same? The Riverlands? The Vale? What will happen to the realm, my lady, if every kingdom demands to be ruled separately?”

“Fuck the realm,” she hisses, her voice rising in volume. “The South has never seen the North as part of the Seven Kingdoms. You Southerners have scorned us and mocked us since King Torrhen Stark bent his knee. I will not subject my people – “

“But they are not your people, my lady,” Aegon counters calmly. And he watches with a dull ache in his chest as Arya’s eyes flash with a tinge of betrayal. “You said it yourself. You are no Lady, not even the Lady of Winterfell. Your sister is a Lannister and your brothers are gone. What gave you the idea that the North can be a kingdom on its own when there is no House, no King or Queen to rule it?” He plops unceremoniously into his seat with a weary sigh, his head bowed. “This discussion is over, my lady. The North will not be granted independence, with or without your support. If you cooperate, you will be named Warden of the North, your sister will be given a place in the Red Keep if she so wishes and our armies shall aid you in retaking Winterfell. And if you don’t,” Aegon looks up at her, his amethyst eyes heavy with sorrow. “Well. I need not remind you the words of my House.”

“Yes, Your Grace. Fire and Blood, the words that doomed Old Valyria and House Stark,” Arya stalks forwards to stand in front of him, her hands clasped tightly behind her back. She looks down at him the same way she did the first time they met in the Braavos – cold, unflinching and as untouchable as she was before he fell in love with her. “But the North remembers, King Aegon. You’d be wise to remember that when you deal with the Northerners. We are not Roses you can water; we are not Stags you can hunt; and we are not Snakes you can tame. We carry the blood of the First Men, the Kings and Queens of Winter; and we will not bow to a Southerner who claims to be fire made flesh, not when it is ice that runs in our veins.”

Arya curtsies mockingly, “With your leave, Your Grace.”

When she leaves, Jon tells him to have his guards arrest her for planning treason; Duck argues that if he arrests a woman with empty threats and no army, it will only make Aegon look like a fool.

He supposes Duck is right. He has always been a fool when it comes to Arya Stark.


 

When he enters her chamber that night, he is not surprised when a knife becomes imbedded to the wooden post next to his head. He rubs the back of his neck sheepishly, not at all like the person he was in with his council. “I suppose I deserved that,” he apologizes.

Arya does not look at him, her gaze is directed to the thin blade she is sharpening. The whetstone in her hand gliding smoothly across the blade as she glares at it. Her braid is messier than it was when she left the council room, and her clothes are soiled.

He remains at the door, his hands fiddling with the lock before he leaves the door unlocked. A thousand words come to mind but he keeps his mouth shut.

He waits.

She eventually speaks, her voice soft with an undertone of annoyance. “You couldn’t have warned me about your stupid plan, you dumb egg?”

Aegon grins, “Where would be the fun in that?” She flings her whetstone at him and he ducks, taking her response as an invitation to sit next to her on the bed.

“We needed them to believe that you would never give up the North without a fight. And I suppose you wouldn’t, even if you weren’t acting,” he glances at her.

Arya smirks, putting Needle back in the sheath he had ordered to be made for her a long time ago. “Have you ever tried to tame a direwolf?”

“No, I suppose not,” he huffs. “Turn around.”

She obliges, used to the routine they had developed when they were on the Shy Maid. She lets out a soft moan at the feeling of his hands massaging her scalp as he carefully takes out her braid. Aegon runs his fingers through her wild brown locks, humming a ballad he heard a long time ago when he was still a child, unaware that he would ever be more than a sellsword.

When he finishes carding his fingers through her messy hair, he turns around to reach for the brush on the table next to the bed. A hand curls around his wrist to stop him. “Leave it be,” she murmurs, her lips brushing against the side of his neck.

“Stay the night with me, Egg,” she says, her fingers reaching around his torso to trace his collarbones before she runs them gently up his shirt to brush over his ribs. He stops her for a moment to turn around. She looks at him with hooded eyes and he leans forward to press a chaste kiss to her lips. She breathes against him for a second before she leans into his kiss. It’s sweet and gentle and slow, not at all like the ones they had shared when they were not yet who they were born to be. He lets her pull off all the layers of his clothes, her calloused fingers deftly unlacing his breeches as she moans against his mouth when he runs his hands across her body.

She climbs onto his lap to straddle him as they continue to kiss. He’s aware that he hasn’t locked the door; that anyone could walk in and see him with the person who had openly opposed him in the council meeting. But with Arya in his arms, he finds that he doesn’t quite care about being a King.

They end up tangled in the sheets, their clothes scattered on the floor and their bodies painted with a thin sheen of sweat. Arya rolls her hips against his and he groans, thrusting harder and deeper in her until she comes, her cries swallowed by the pillow she bites. He flips them around and continues to piston in and out of her, his hands gripping her hips. She throws her head back and moans loudly, her right hand placed firmly on Aegon’s chest as she uses the other to touch herself. Aegon sits up to draw her nipple into his mouth, his tongue rolling the hardened peak and causing his lady to buck against him, her movements becoming more frantic as she comes again with a scream. He comes deep inside her, coming in long spurts and painting her walls with his seed.

As she collapses on top of him, he kisses her forehead, her nose, her eyelids and prays that she’ll let their child grow in her belly. She smiles against his collarbone as he realises that he has spoken aloud and she says, “No, Aegon.”

The Targaryen boy sighs, “Never? Not even - “

“No, Aegon,” she repeats, not unkindly.

He runs his thumb across the scars on her lower ribs gently, and she lets out a hitched breath. “You wouldn’t want more Starks in this world? Little wolves running their parents half-mad with their unlordly, unlady-like ways?”

Arya is quiet when he continues, his heart in his throat, “Would it be so bad? Being with me?”

She props herself up on her elbows to glare at him. “I would have followed you to the ends of this wretched land if we were not who we are,” she looked away. “You’re an idiot if you think I wouldn’t want to be with you.”

“Then why not? They may call us Starks and Targaryens but you’ll always be Cat to me and I’ll always be Griff to you,” he doesn’t force her to look at him, but she does anyway. “I am yours, Arya, now and always, no matter the names we wear and the titles we will be forced to bear.”

Arya scoffs, disbelievingly, “You will be King of Westeros and ladies will fling themselves at you.” He opened his mouth to protest but she interrupts him with a kiss. When she leans back, she whispers, “You know Connington will never let you marry me, even with this plan you concocted. You know.”

He shakes his head but her silver eyes lock his own in place. “You will be King,” she says again, a sad smile on her face. “And your wife will be a beautiful Queen worthy of that title, be it Princess Arianne or one of Margaery’s cousins or your aunt Daenerys across the Narrow Sea. Your children will be kings and queens and warriors; and I will be in the North, helping you keep the peace.”

Aegon growls, “Nobody will hold a candle to you. You – “ He laughs brokenly. “How do you not know?” He looks up at her, awe and love and affection and trust shining in his purple eyes. “How do you not see that you are the only person who can be my Queen?”

“And how do you not see that I am the last person anyone would consider crowning as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms?”

“I –“ He stops himself before they could argue any further. He tugs her down gently and pulls her to him, her back to his chest as the sound of their slow breaths fill the silence of the room. He ponders quietly while Arya traces her thumb over his knuckles, bruised from his years of fighting.

It is minutes later when he speaks up again, “What if – what if the people want you as the Queen? What if they were shown of the peace and prosperity the union between a Targaryen King and a Stark Queen could bring?”

She exhales sharply. “Aegon –“

He barges on, incensed by the idea, “You are the reason bloodshed in the Stormlands and Westerlands was avoided. You gave the people of the Stormlands food and construction plans for greenhouses so that they could continue growing their crops when winter comes, although you had no reason to.”

“Were the hundreds of children we saved from starving not reason enough?” she mutters.

Aegon continues, “The Stormlanders love you, or at the very least respect you. Who is to say the rest will not?”

“They fear me too, or have you not heard?” Arya counters cynically. “The lords of the Stormlands dislike the fact that a woman is advising them on how to face the long winter and their wives fear my wolves almost as much as they fear the breeches I wear to their holdfasts.”

Aegon cannot help the loud laugh that escapes him. “I am not japing, Egg!” she snaps, turning her head around to glare at her lover who continues to chuckle. “Lord Errol thinks I’m no more than a whore you’re sleeping with who should keep her mouth shut whilst his wife seems to believe I hide a cock in my pants.”

He smirks devilishly, “I can attest to that. You have got more balls than all of the lords Jon have introduced me to combined, as of late.”

“Better be a woman with balls than a man with none,” Arya says and Aegon snorts, eliciting a giggle from her. “Too many cravens in this world and eventually, you will have no idea whom to trust and whom not to. A dangerous thing, trust is.”

“I trust you,” he says honestly.

She turns around to face him properly, her grey eyes clouded with indecision. “I know,” she says. “You trust people far too easily, Your Grace.”

“You are the daughter of the most honourable man to live, and you have saved me countless times, why wouldn’t I trust you?”

Her silence is almost deadly. “I may stage a rebellion for the North,” she says seriously.

“So let me give you part of my army to take the North back in the name of the last Stark heir before more people die from a rebellion. You have the blood of the Tullys, so the Riverlands would rally behind you, and so would the Vale. Retake them from the Lannisters in the name of the Targaryen host and bring their armies with you to Winterfell,” he proposes. “The rest of my army will march south to take King’s Landing once we finish taking the Westerlands. Once we cut off Cersei’s supply of Lannister soldiers, it should be easier to take the capital, especially when the combined forces of the Tully and Vale troops join us in the South.”

“What of the Northern men?”

“They would remain in the North under the protection and good will of the future King. Perhaps they could help rebuild and defend the Riverlands when the Tully troops go to war as the Warden in the North sees fit. Mayhaps more of the common folk will see how a union between a Targaryen King and a Stark Queen willing to put the people would be preferable towards a mad woman who murdered a sept full of innocents in cold blood.”

She stares at him. “Aegon Targaryen,” she starts, and he gulps subtly. “Did you plan all of this behind my back?”

“Just because I love you doesn’t mean I should share every one of my plots with you, you scheming wolf,” he harrumphs. “Would you do it?”

Arya closes her eyes as she ponders. He could see the slight upturn of her lips and he knows her answer.

“Alright,” she says, her face glowing and he feels himself fall in love again. “But I only need two dozen good men.”