This story begins with a girl, with auburn hair and bright blue eyes.
She was around twenty years old, and had recently moved to her own little apartment on ground level and with a nice little shared yard. Perfect for her two rescue dogs: Sandor, whose first owner was a cruel man and therefore he had an ugly scar on his face, and several others across his large, fluffy body.
He was a Newfoundland dog, huge and imposing. He used to have anxiety problems, but Sansa managed to tame his fury and nowadays the large dog spent his time sleeping close to his gentle owner.
Her second rescue was Tyrion, a chubby Corgi with a missing front leg. He was a funny and friendly little dog who seemed to get along with everyone he met.
The trio spent their days at home and at the local dog park. Sansa was a painter, so she kept to herself, but she took classes here and there to socialize. She had friends stay over, from time to time. Girls, mostly. She hadn’t had much luck with guys.
Sandor and Tyrion seemed to be very good at sniffing out jerks, and since she had them she had been able to meet several normal men, but none she found interesting enough to start a relationship with.
One day, Sansa was at the park, reading a book, with Sandor sprawled next to her, and Tyrion trying to mount someone’s dog nearby. Then, she heard a commotion coming towards them. A man’s voice that started very faintly and increased in volume as he ran towards them.
Very far ahead from the man was a chocolate Labrador running at full speed, its leash flailing behind it. “Jesus Christ! ARYA! STOP!” the man cried out.
Sansa felt really bad for him, but she couldn’t prevent the giggle that escaped her lips. That is, until she was tackled by the Labrador. She let out a shriek as the dog began licking at her face furiously.
Sandor got up with an exasperated huff and then laid back down a bit further away, while Tyrion decided that this new dog had the best idea, and began to lick at Sansa’s face too.
“Stop it!” she tried shoving the dogs away, but it only seemed to make them more determined.
“Arya, stop!” the man was panting by the time he grabbed his dog and pulled it off from Sansa, who took the opportunity to shove Tyrion off. “I’m so sorry, miss!”
Sansa was trying to recover from the assault when she looked up at the man. He was young, with black hair tied in a ponytail and a scruffy beard. He looked only a few years older than herself. “Um, it’s alright,” she stuttered. “That’s a very enthusiastic dog you’ve got there,” she said with a smile, pointing at the struggling Labrador.
“She’s beyond enthusiastic, I’m afraid. She’s still a puppy. Sometimes I fear she’ll never grow up,” he lamented. “But she’s a gift from someone I lost, so it wouldn’t feel right to give her away.” He seemed to realize he hadn’t introduced himself. “I’m sorry. My name is Jon. This is Arya, if my screaming her name at the top of my lungs didn’t clue you in before.”
Sansa chuckled. “I’m Sansa. These are Sandor and Tyrion, my boys,” she said. At the mention of his name, Sandor lifted his head and stood up. Sansa tried not to show her unease as he approached Jon and sniffed. Before she could warn him, Jon lifted his hand towards Sandor’s muzzle and let it hang there for the dog to sniff.
With a few loud sniffs, Sandor turned and plopped back on the grass next to Sansa. She found herself looking at Jon differently then. If Sandor approved, he couldn’t be bad.
Arya, on the other hand, decided to jump on Sansa’s huge grumpy dog and tried wrestling him, barking madly at him. Tyrion decided to join the fun again by also jumping on Sandor.
Sansa pursed her lips and shook her head as Jon tried pulling his dog off hers. “Arya, no! Arya, stop! Bad girl! Bad girl!”
And so, things moved on. Sansa and Jon started dating, and eventually he moved in with her. And, obviously, he brought Arya with him.
The moment she was through the front door, disaster struck. She dashed across the apartment, barking at everything, jumping over Sansa’s furniture, bumping off trinkets and portraits. As always, it inspired Tyrion to follow her around, barking happily and trying to cause his own mischief. It was fortunate for Sansa that he was small and everything he could damage was far from his reach. But Arya could reach everything just fine. And she did.
Hours later, Jon and Sansa sat on her couch completely exhausted. Sandor, Tyrion, and Arya were piled in a corner, having learned to sleep together peacefully.
“I don’t know if there’s anything we can do about,” Jon paused, and mouthed, “Arya.” He looked fearfully at the corner, and grimaced when he saw his pup’s ears twitch. But sighed in relief when she didn’t move beyond that.
Sansa rolled her eyes. “Really, I think it’s obvious. You need to take her to a trainer.”
Jon looked at her doubtfully. “Aren’t they going to hurt her and crush her spirit?”
“I’d say her spirit needs a bit of crushing,” Sansa joked. “Come on, she’s impossible like this. She’s a sweetheart, but she needs discipline or she’ll end up ruling us all.”
Jon sighed, running a hand over his hair. “I guess you’re right. I just feel bad about it. She’s been with me for almost two years, since she was a cute little puppy.”
Sansa patted him on the arm. “She’s not going to change drastically. She’ll just be less… destructive. You’ll see.”
And so, Jon had to take his dog to training. Mrs Mordane was a severe looking woman, who owned a Bulldog. All Jon could think was the age-old saying “dogs look like their owners”. He chuckled to himself, and Arya looked up at him, tongue lolling out. Jon patted her. “Let’s see if we can behave, yes?” She looked at him so adoringly, Jon wanted nothing else but to take her back home and forget about the whole thing. He’d gladly put up with the destruction.
“Snow,” the trainer, Mrs Mordane barked. “And...” she looked down at his dog. “Arya.” At that, Arya closed her mouth with an audible click, and stared at the woman with unusual seriousness. “Describe her behavior,” she ordered him, turning to him and ignoring Arya.
“Well,” he suddenly felt foolish. “She disobeys a lot. I mean, all the time. And she runs around the house and breaks things. And she eats from the garbage can. And drinks form the toilet. And she learned to open the fridge, so now all three dogs eat our food. And she howls a lot when my girlfriend and I leave, the neighbors have been complaining about it. And she doesn’t come when I call her. And she can be overly friendly to people and other dogs. And sometimes she...”
“Stop,” Mrs Mordane barked, looking at him with such severity that Jon thought she hated him with the passion of ten thousand burning suns. “What you are describing is the typical behavior of an undisciplined dog. You have failed at the basic task of looking after a living creature.”
Jon bristled, and Arya seemed to pick up his emotions, because she stood and huffed. “Arya is a bit wild but -”
“Not from the way you described her. She’s a complete menace to society,” the woman snapped. “Here, let me show you how to hold the leash, so we can begin to undo all your mistakes.” She yanked the leash from his hand without waiting, and pulled his dog away from him. Arya struggled, whining, and the woman yanked harder. “When a dog misbehaves, it’s important to know their weak points. I can offer you an electric shock collar or a spiked collar, which you can use to -”
“No!” Jon stepped forward and took the leash back from her. “Thank you for all your advice, I’ll keep it in mind. We have to go.”
With that, Jon turned around and ran out of the horrible place, Arya panting happily as she ran beside him. He got in the car with her, and sat there in silence for a few moments. He felt like crying. “I’m sorry for taking you to that horrible woman, girl,” he told her. But Arya just panted and licked at his face. “I love you just the way you are. Messy and troublesome,” he informed her. Arya raised her paw as if to pat his arm.
Sansa couldn’t help but laugh at Jon’s morose recount of the events. Finally, she agreed with him that they would train Arya in their own way. It took some effort, tears and many destroyed things, but eventually they achieved absolutely nothing. Arya remained the same. They just learned to live with it.
Arya woke up one day, knowing full well that something was off. She felt her hackles rise as she looked around. Tyrion and Sandor were sleeping deeply, as old dogs always did. Her tongue lolled out as she inwardly called them “old”. They didn’t like it when she did that.
Well, they weren’t that old. But they were older than her, so that made them ancient.
Arya walked up to the window that connected their small living habitat to the shared backyard. And then she saw it. The enemy! It was there! Bathing in sunlight as if it owned the whole damn place! The nerve! She felt herself growling. “Cat!” she barked, alerting the old guys and their humans. “Cat!”
She heard Tyrion groan and mutter something to Sandor, but neither of them moved.
“Cat!” Arya barked again, looking back through the window, and gasped. It was looking at her. It was looking at her smugly. As if saying, “I know you can’t get out of there and do anything about me being here in your territory.”
Losing all composure, Arya began barking and howling, throwing herself against the window. “CAT! CAT! CAT! CAT! CAT! CAT! CAT! CAT! THERE’S A BLOODY CAT!”
Finally, her pack stirred. She heard her human barking at her, she didn’t understand him much, but he seemed to agree with her. “CAT! CAT! CAT!” she told him. He barked back at her some more, before he finally looked out the window.
Jon’s mate walked up behind him and they both spoke to each other in their strange human language. They both looked out the window and then back at Arya, who was trying to slam her way outside.
With a sigh, Jon slid the window open and Arya dashed outside. “CAT! CAT! CAT!”
To her amazement, the white cat did not run away, but remained curled in the grass glaring up at her. “Leave me alone,” the cat said, and Arya realized it was a female.
“CAT! YOU ARE IN MY TERRITORY!” Arya barked at the cat. “MINE!”
The cat hissed, ears flat against her head, her tail twisting this way and that. It was quite a sight.
After a moment, Arya laid on her belly in front of the cat. “Leave,” she whined.
The cat rolled her eyes. “I will not do anything a dog tells me to do,” she said haughtily. “I am a cat.”
Arya groaned. “Come on, this is my place!”
“I am not occupying that much space anyway,” said the cat, looking up at Arya.
“She’s right, ya know,” Arya turned to see Tyrion hopping towards them. “Hey, there! I’m Tyrion! Forgive the pup, Arya gets very possessive about our territory.”
Arya groaned again. “Tyrion! Don’t fraternize with the enemy!”
The cat looked at her bored. “Really, enemy? What are we, in the age of the cave humans? Cats and dogs have been living in harmony for thousands of generations.”
“Quite right!” Tyrion said, his old little butt wagging. “What’s your name, friend?”
“I am Daenerys,” the cat answered, preening.
“And where do you come from, Daenerys?” a new voice asked. They all turned to see Sandor walking towards them in his slow, gigantic way.
“The human I have adopted lives on the other side of that fence,” Daenerys explained, looking towards the fence directly across from their window. “Who might you be?” she asked the large dog.
“Sandor,” he said simply.
“Arya, Tyrion, and Sandor,” Daenerys said, looking at each of them in turn. “I hope you will not torment me further when I come to enjoy this yard in the mornings.”
Arya bristled. “This is my -”
“Yes, yes,” Daenerys said, dismissing the young dog with a flick of her tail. “I do not care. I will come here whenever I please.”
Tyrion and Sandor looked at each other with amusement. “You’re welcome to use our yard,” Tyrion said cheerfully. And his larger companion nodded.
Arya stared at them in disbelief. Daenerys seemed to sense this and turned to look at her smugly. “It seems your pack has outvoted you, pup.”
With a huff, Arya got up and went back inside. She tried to ignore Tyrion’s laugh and the smug tones from that darn cat as she spoke to Arya’s pack.
Traitors, both of them. At least, Arya still had her human Jon. And his mate wasn’t that bad either. Though Sansa would often chastise Arya for everything, she had learned to ignore that annoying tone she had.
“Arya don’t drink from the toilet!” Sansa exclaimed, pulling her away from the bathroom.
Can’t do anything in this bloody place, Arya thought morosely as she slumped back into the bed she shared with Sandor and Tyrion. She sighed, feeling sad and lonely. The old guys were still outside with the cat.
She must have fallen asleep for a bit, because the next thing she knew, Tyrion was slumping next to her. Like always, he was smiling. “Hey, there, pup!” he greeted.
Arya turned away. “Why are you here? Don’t you have a cat to fraternize with?”
Tyrion rolled his eyes. “Oh, come on, pup! You could have stayed with us outside. Daenerys is not that bad, for a cat.” Arya ignored him, and Tyrion sighed. “Well, if you want to stay here on your own...” He walked back outside.
Many days went by, and the cat would be outside, sunbathing and waiting for the old guys. Arya didn’t bother barking at her after the seventh day, because she had a suspicion that Jon didn’t really like it when she barked before sunrise.
And she didn’t go outside when the cat was there. Which was every bloody day, until near sunset.
Jon must have noticed the change in her, because he would crouch next to her and murmur softly at her and prod her when he found her in her bed. Arya just sighed and cherished the pats.
“I think she’s sick,” Jon told Sansa, looking across the room at his unusually quiet dog.
Sansa made a noise as she prepared their breakfast. “Maybe. Or maybe she’s just jealous,” she said.
“Jealous?” he asked. “Of who?”
“Of the cat,” Sansa looked at him as if he was an idiot. “Tyrion and Sandor have been leaving her behind to stay with the cat outside, and for some reason, your stubborn dog doesn’t want to be there.”
Jon mused on that. “So what can I do?”
Sansa shrugged. “I’m not sure. She’ll just have to get over it on her own, I guess. My boys enjoy being outside, so I’m not going to force them to stay here for her sake. And the cat is not doing anything that merits us chasing it away. It looks well taken care of.”
“Still, we can’t just leave her there,” Jon said, looking back at his sad dog.
Sansa kissed him on the cheek and shook her head. “And then you wonder why she never obeys you,” she said as she handed him a plate with a toast and scrambled eggs.
Arya heard her human calling her name, and looked up. And nearly died.
He was holding the cat.
Sure, the cat looked annoyed as hell to be held so ungraciously, but she was there. Inside their territory. Inside their habitat! Right there, next to where Arya sleeps!
“Cat!” she barked, and Jon stilled as he was crouching. He patted Arya gently on the head, as if to calm her, and resumed crouching.
“Hello again, Arya,” Daenerys said, sounding as bored as she seemed. “This is your human? Tell him to unhand me.”
Arya looked between Jon and Daenerys, not sure how to feel. “I can’t tell him anything, you stupid. He doesn’t understand me any more than he understands you.”
“Did you just call me stupid?” Daenerys hissed, tail twitching. Jon put her down and then jumped away from both of them.
Arya stood, towering over her. “I did!” But it didn’t seem to bother Daenerys, who just looked up at her with the same condescension she always seemed to have for her. “You are a stupid little cat,” Arya said with certainty. “This is my pack, my territory, and you have crossed a line by coming here.”
“I did not do anything!” Daenerys exclaimed, incredulous. “First of all, the yard is for everyone. Second, your so-called pack chose to be with me. And third, your stupid human put his filthy paws on me, not the other way around.”
“I cannot really blame Tyrion and Sandor for preferring my company,” the cat said, sitting and licking at her paw casually. “I mean, look at you,” she smirked. “Who would want to be with a wild little beast like you?”
Arya lunged at her, but before she could close her jaws around the annoying little shit, Jon had snatched her away and was running towards the window. She followed them, but Jon was quicker and released Daenerys, who ran towards the fence and left.
“Arya!” Jon exclaimed, turning to grab her collar, but his usually sweet dog snapped at him. He managed to pull away just in time to avoid being bitten.
At once, she calmed, and looked at him as if she knew what she had almost done. “It’s okay,” he said softly, trying to pat her. But she lowered her head and ran back inside, tail between her legs.
It took him many days to coax her out of the corner where she slept, but eventually she became somewhat less gloomy around him.
Still, it was clear even to Jon, that something was not alright with his dog. There was an air of unhappiness around her that worried him.
Sandor plopped down next to her one day. “Pup,” he said in his usual deep voice. “I think it’s time for you and the cat to have a talk.”
He sighed. “Listen, pup. You both said mean things to each other, and that’s not good. I know what it feels like to think everyone’s out to get you, but I assure you, none of us are. You and Tyrion are my pack, my family. Sansa is my everything, and even your human is someone I will follow.” Then he lowered his head so it was close to hers. “And Daenerys is my friend as well. And she could be your friend, if you allowed her.”
“She doesn’t want to be my friend,” Arya muttered. “She said so.”
Sandor shook his head. “You called her stupid,” he said, though there was amusement in his voice. “Granted, you call everyone stupid, but she didn’t know that. She’s a cat, you know,” he added conspiratorially. “Cats are notoriously vain.”
Arya felt her tail wag in response, and hated it for doing that against her will.
As if sensing that, Sandor’s own tail began to move. “So, what do you say? We go outside?”
She knew he was right. And honestly, she was sick of being lonely. “Fine,” she said with a sigh.
“Good pup,” Sandor said, licking her behind her ear. He wasn’t one to show affection, so Arya basked on the gesture.
They walked outside, and Arya had to admit the day was very nice, warm air and plenty of sunshine. She hadn’t been out in the backyard for days.
Tyrion was laying on the grass in that absurd way he had, with his hind legs stretched out behind him. Sansa was always making squealing noises whenever she saw him doing that.
Daenerys was laying as cats sometimes do. She was so fluffy, Arya couldn’t tell where her limbs were. Only her long tail and her head gave any indication that she wasn’t merely a rectangle of white hair.
“Ah, look who’s joining us!” Tyrion exclaimed, his ridiculous butt wiggling. “Sandor!” he added. Arya rolled her eyes and plopped down next to him, keeping him between her and the cat. Sandor laid down next to her.
The larger dog looked at Arya pointedly.
With a sigh, she turned to the cat. “I’m sorry I called you stupid, cat.”
To her surprise, the cat looked contrite. “It is alright. I am sorry for the things I said to you. It was a lie,” she said, then looked at Sandor and Tyrion. “In truth, I was jealous because all they would talk about every single day was you, that you were not out here with us, and all the things you have done, and that sort of sappy stuff.”
Arya’s ears drooped, and she looked at her old guys, who seemed to be finding the grass extremely fascinating. “Really?” she asked in a small voice.
Sandor snorted. “Yes,” his voice was gruff, he seemed to want to change the topic.
Tyrion finally looked at her with one of his more honest smiles and nodded. “Yep. It’s hard not to like you, pup.”
Without warning, Arya threw herself at the smaller dog, and began licking his face. “I love you, little old guy!” Then, she turned to Sandor and did the same. “I love you, big old guy!”
Daenerys watched the scene with amusement, until she saw the Labrador pup turn to her, and before she could unfold her paws from underneath herself, the pup was on her, licking her face. “Gah! Get her off me!” she yowled, but the old dogs merely laughed.
“I love you too, cat!” Arya said, keeping a hold of her with her long paws. “Now you’ll have no choice but to stay here with us.”
Disgruntled, Daenerys allowed herself to be held, and eventually found a comfortable spot in the pile.
When Jon and Sansa looked out the window a few hours later, they were surprised to see their three dogs sleeping on the grass together. Sandor, as usual, was the pillow, with Tyrion and Arya sprawled on his back. And next to Arya’s neck, curled up and purring, was the white fluffy cat.