It was the morning after the tourney, and the warm sunlight poured over the gardens where Gendry sat with Lady Margaery. She invited him to break their fast together, and Gendry nearly had no choice but to dine with the frightening woman as her cousins sent to give the message stared him down in his light clothes meant for sleeping. So he blushed profusely, changed into appropriate clothing to meet a lady in, and followed the ladies to Margaery, who smiled warmly and beckoned for him to sit beside her.
"What a marvelous triumph yesterday, Ser Gendry!" Margaery beamed as an equally frightened servant brought a platter of cheese to the table. Unsure of what to say, Gendry stuffed a slice of cheese into his mouth and nodded in reply. The lady continued to watch him eat. "You and Lady Arya make an excellent match, if I have any say."
"You have all the say in it, m'lady." Gendry plainly remarked before he could think of a better response. He instantly regretted it as Margaery's smile began to thin.
"I shall hope so. My brother plans to set a date for the wedding soon, and it would delight me to see him and Lady Sansa married."
"It will be a beautiful wedding, I am sure." Gendry gulped down his tea, unsure of what Margaery exactly wanted from him. He was still not so keen on the way highborns talk amongst each other in sugared riddles.
"It seems that Arya's affections for you are clear." Margaery finely spoke plainly and it was her turn to sip her tea as Gendry almost choked on another slice of cheese.
"She hates me almost as much as she hates the days she's expected to wear dresses."
Margaery smiled plainly then, her eyes filled with mirth as if she could see something that clearly Gendry was unable to.
"If you say so, perhaps you should bring her to explore more of Highgarden together. If you plan to marry her after all, you will have to woo her first." Margaery replied smoothly, instantly reminding Gendry of why he even was brought in her presence. "I am sure when this is all over it would be nice to return to your mother as a knight married to a lady fair."
With thoughts of his ailing, aging, and poor mother working hard by herself,Gendry left
the table with a purpose, rushing back towards the castle as everyone else who did not awake at ungodly hours began to rise. Margaery smiled after him, fully knowing what she was doing, yet fully wondering what was it with he and her brother and those Stark girls.
Arya awoke to pounding on her door and bright light shining through the windows. She did not bother to move, knowing that Sansa usually gave up after a few knocks to break her fast in hopes that she would see lemon cakes on the table. However, the knocks began to grow louder, and more impatient. With a groan, Arya slid off her bed none too gracefully, and wiped away the slobber that dribbled down her cheek only to find none other than the bullheaded Gendry dressed in the silliest cloak and tunic she had ever seen.
"What in the Seven Hells do you think you're doing?" Arya hissed. Her hand almost went to fix her hair knowing it must have been a mess, but she quickly stopped herself.
"I wish to go riding with you through Highgarden, m'lady." She could have sworn she saw his cheeks color a bit as he looked her sorry state over, but he cleared his voice and fixed his posture. Unimpressed, Arya looked him over.
"No." She said plainly as she made to close her door, only to be stopped by Sansa, who was presumably on her way to her room to wake Arya.
"Oh, sweet sister!" Sansa proclaimed as she practically threw her slippered foot in the way of the door frame, forcing Arya to keep the door open. "What is this I hear about exploring Highgarden?"
"Ser Gendry wanted to go frolicking in Highgarden before I could even break my fast." Arya frowned, still dazed by sleep.
"Oh hush now, haven't you always been going on about how you want to explore more of the Seven Kingdoms?" Sansa smiled innocently as she framed the question.
"Then it is settled! You will go with Ser Gendry as soon as I help you get dressed." Sansa practically pushed Gendry aside and rammed Arya through the door, closing the door behind her before any of them had a say in it.
"What was that for?" Arya attempted to regain her balance as Sansa brushed off her skirts. She then searched through whatever wardrobe they managed to travel with from Winterfell.
"Oh, don't act like it will be so awful." Sansa rolled her eyes as she picked a pair of Arya's riding trousers and tunics. "I saw how your faced almost turned a rather Lannister shade of crimson as he went to crown you at the tourney."
"I was blushing out of fury." Arya crossed her arms over her chest and recited an excuse she grown rather fond of repeating whenever she was accused of growing soft for the man. Sansa rolled her eyes and tossed the clothes at Arya. "You're actually suggesting that I wear trousers?"
"Of course." Sansa shrugged as she turned away, expecting Arya to begin changing. "How else would I expect you to go riding?"
Arya smiled then, warmed by the thought that Sansa finally understood her to a point, and was equally surprised that she was encouraging her to wear such garb in front of her future good-family. She changed swiftly, a part of her excited to actually explore Highgarden for once, even if she was forced to go alongside the sorry excuse of a knight. Sansa smiled then as she turned around to face her sister, fully dressed in a pants and tunic fit for riding. When did she start getting so old?
"At this rate, he will hardly be able to resist you." Sansa pinched her little sister's cheek, instantly making her scowl. Now there's the little sister I remember.
The ride throughout Highgarden was interesting enough, yet even more interesting was watching Gendry fumble for conversation throughout the entire guided tour, as guards escorted them through the path. However, she found Highgarden itself rather plain. All she found were flowers, flowers, and more bushes of flowers at every glance she took. It was even almost as silly as the flowers embossed on Gendry's cloak and sleeves, fashioned like Lord Willas and Loras's garb, most likely in the attempt to make make him look more like a dashing knight.
"What do you think of my city, m'lady?" Gendry held the reigns of his horse with one hand and attempted to smile at her in the gallant manner that knights in Sansa's old stories ought to. Instead for him, it only looked like a nervous battle for balance on his saddle.
"The flowers look interesting," Arya shrugged.
"Would a crown of flowers have interested you more?" Gendry laughed this time as Arya glared at him. He was walking on thin ice. He then looked back to her, in a real and actual smile, and for whatever reason, Arya felt her cheeks grow hot. "You know Arry, the flower crown is still intact if you still wish for it."
"What did you call me?"
"Oh… Arry?" It was Gendry's turn to blush. "I only thought it would be easier to say than 'She Wolf of Winterfell', or even worse, 'Arya the Cursed'."
"They really call me that?" For a moment Arya genuinely laughed, forgetting that there were guards escorting them, or that this man was even asking for her hand. She decided she rather liked that title. It sounded menacing enough. "Though I suppose I would rather have you call me Arry than m'lady."
"Don't you worry. You'd always be m'lady to me." Gendry smiled at her, and it made Arya want to knock him off his horse. Instead, she guided her mare closer to his horse, so that she was able to whisper to him without their escorts hearing.
"What do you say we have a race?" She asked tantalizingly.
"Where to, m'lady?" Gendry attempted to ask coolly. Without a reply, she only smiled and kicked her heels into her horse, sending her dashing far beyond the guards. No one in the Seven Hells knew where she was going, but Gendry knew he would follow her anywhere at that moment. He playfully gave into the chase, making the guards panic as they did their best to follow. It took a while, but they finally lost the guards as they ventured off the beaten path.
"I suppose I won that race." Arya smugly dismounted her horse first and let her mare drink from the nearby pond. In all honesty, she originally intended to lose Gendry in the chase as well, but conceded to her consciousness in the end.
"You left so fast, it was hardly fair." Gendry dismounted his horse as well and guided the steed towards the pond.
"I just had to lose those guards. It felt like I was a child again being escorted like that." She then went off in a flurry of childish laughter. "And did you see their faces? I bet they're still looking for us right now."
Gendry laughed as well, allowing himself to appreciate the company of the true Arya, who let down her usual menacing aura. Laughing like that, no one could hardly suspect she was the same woman who he chased down on the rooftops of Winterfell, or who rejected his crown of flowers. She sat on a nearby bed of flowers and he picked out an apple he kept in the pack tied to his horse and followed.
"I'm sorry for forcing you to give up your morning meal." He tossed the apple at her, and she gracefully picked it from the air with minimal effort. Amazed at her reflexes, he awkwardly sat next to her. "The apple was all I managed to steal from the kitchens before we left."
"It's good enough for now, I suppose." Arya heartily bit out of the apple. They managed to hold a conversation like normal people ought to, and she again almost forgot that he was asking for her hand in marriage. They laughed, he asked her about life in Winterfell, and she asked him about being a knight.
However, if they knew of the eldest Stark daughter and the second Stark boy hiding in the bushes nearby, none of that would have happened.
"Do you think we should go now?" Bran whispered as softly as he could to his sister, who was still peeking over the bushes, looking at how Arya playfully hit Gendry's arm, not even aware of her flirting.
The two siblings were following the party the entire time, and when they saw the two dash off, they sent the guards away and went to follow the couple themselves. It was all Bran's idea, Sansa would later defend herself saying.
"I suppose they don't need our intervention." Sansa shrugged and they snuck away, leaving the couple to themselves.
A/N So again I hate putting these on this website, so I'll keep it short. But I am so sorry for the ungodly wait for this chapter! Honestly for a while I lost inspiration to continue this, but after watching The Taming of the Shrew again and rewatching season 7, I couldn't resist. If anyone's still there, please review and tell me what you think!