Snow crunches and drifts in a thickening flurry under his boots. Gendry runs, his lungs screaming for air against the barb-sharp chill of the wind.
He can't slow. Not for one moment.
They're relying on him.
Arya's brother, now confronting the army of the undead without him — Jon trusts him to make it back to Eastwatch alive and deliver the message with the ravens. Nobody is dying like this, and least of all, not him. Not away from the comforting flames of a hearth.
He half-expects one of those damned dead bastards to chase him, or follow him up the mountain.
It's the everlong reach of nightfall and the bone-aching, numbing cold keeping Gendry company as the hours dwindle away.
He runs, runs harder than ever in his life. Through this gods-damned snow and ice, cursing his fortune and Jon Snow's bravery and Ser Davos for discovering him in Flea Bottom, and the Seven while Gendry is at it. It doesn't matter. They're too far off to hear him deep in the Northern wilds.
Arya notices her left forefinger and thumb shaking visibly, nearly pouring her spoonful of barley and venison soup onto herself.
"What's the matter?" Sansa asks in a whisper, eyeing her across the long, taper-lit dining table. The immediate concern tightens Sansa's expression.
"It's nothing. May I be excused, m'lady?" Arya says dully, pulling herself out of her chair and bowing.
The annoyance flashes in Sansa's eyes. She hasn't taken to Arya's derisive show of formality.
"Sansa," Arya replies prettily, the corners of her mouth twitching. With a little more insistent, amused eye-content, Sansa's own lips curl up.
With a firm, hushed nod from her older sister, Arya nods in return and to Bran, walking from the supper table. She heads for a open-air cloister, rubbing at her collarbone with a frown. Each step makes Arya's chest and her insides feel like they're turning into molten steel within, burning hot and sucking out her air.
She grabs a fur-lined cloak off a rack, but to no avail. The cold is sudden and weakening, and unlike anything about winter Arya understands.
It extends and expands, as if burrowing under Arya's skin and penetrating her very marrow.
I've never seen snow.
Gendry's mind churns and dims, as his body fights off the quivering urge to collapse down.
A dark, looming mass on the horizon. Maybe it's the gates of Eastwatch cranking and shuddering open for him… maybe it's…
One of his feet tangles up with the other, and Gendry clumsily heaves onto the ground.
Let me go to her.
His reddened, frostbitten nostrils fill with the icy shards of crystallized snow. He doesn't groan upon impact, slamming his cheek down, but lies there on the white, snowy bank, panting out his mouth.
"Lady Arya?" Brienne calls out, racing up the nearby wooden stairs to greet her, halting.
Another sucking, trembling breath. The lightheadedness washes over her, and Arya feels herself rock forward, losing her balance.
Instead of tumbling onto her face, Brianne catches a sweaty Arya going limp and gasping and coughing, kneeling down and yelling for Poderick down below, find a maester, be quick about it, Lady Arya, Arya, can you hear me… …
A tinge of blood and frost, collecting, lying against Arya's damp tongue.
I want to tell her… I saw it.
Gendry shuts his eyes and imagines a pair of hooded, grey eyes peering down on him.
Dawnlight filters into the chamber-room.
Sansa chews on her lower lip raw, and then on the surface of her knuckles, observing the maester bathing Arya's forehead with herbs and warm water. "Her fever is strong, m'lady."
"Arya's stronger," Sansa mutters, eyebrows furrowing and the blue of her eyes darkening.
"Of course, m'lady. I only meant—"
With enough force to jerk herself upright from her pillows, Arya wakes, gasping noisily. Everyone else initially starts backwards from the cot.
Even the lone, ominous word itself flies out of Arya's lips, breathy and choked for existence.
Her naked, thin shoulders clench in. She dizzily stares ahead, blinking once and passes out, Arya's head flopping onto her pillow.
The innermost walls of Eastwatch are cold and stone-grey, on all sides of him, when Gendry opens his eyes.
"You've made it beyond the Wall, and back," Ser Davos tells him. He chuckles heartily when the younger man groans out, wincing and squinting his eyes at him. "Most of the people born in the South could not make that accomplishment in their lifetime."
"Is that why I can't feel anything…?"
Without losing his smile, Ser Davos touches over Gendry's left hand resting on the sheets, finding a joint and squeezing down harshly.
"Seven hells!" Gendry cries out, yanking out of his grasp, scowling.
"I think you're going to be fine, Gendry."
Arya's eyelids tremble. She rolls onto her stomach, weakly pushing up. The chamber-room is quieter, bright and flush with sunlight.
"Bran? What's happened?"
He offers a slight head-nod, lowering his chin. "Sansa told me to watch over you while everyone's gone. She's talking with the lords," Bran explains pensively, helping Arya sit onto the linens by grasping steadily onto her fingers. "Lady Brienne has decided to guard the door. You gave her a fright. Even Sansa."
The dizziness subsides. Arya rubs under her eye and tucks her legs together, frowning.
"… You felt it, didn't you?" he adds, meeting their near identical Stark grey eyes. The lack of tone to Bran's voice prickles her flesh.
Arya frowns again, shaking her head. "That's ridiculous," she mutters. "I'm not some kind of greenseer."
Bran's mouth twitches, almost resembling a faint smile.
"Perhaps he was trying to reach out to you," he says. Arya's heart quickens at the memory of the cold and the anguish overwhelming her. It… didn't belong to her. Those sensations. "You don't need to be a greenseer to feel when someone loves you, Arya."
At the mention of her name, finally spoken by Bran, she clenches her teeth.
"Sansa was right… you're different."
"Yes, that's true," Bran replies softly, knowingly, ignoring the brittle frustration in Arya's voice. "Same as you."
The chamber-door rattles open. One of the newer stewards greets them by the entry-way, followed by a stern, disapproving Brienne. His words mean little to her, drifting and melting out of Arya's hearing, leaving out only a blaring nothingness.
Same as you.
Arya grinds her palms over her face, breathing out shakily.
gendry's just fine he got tired and fell asleep in the snow and remember ser davos pulled him back inside and gendry will warm up and head to winterfell it's all good everyone's fine everybody's alive okay arya and gendry will reunite and evERYTHING'S GONNA BE ALRIGHT NOW YOU'LL SEE
also i appreciate it but guys it's a ONESHOT so there's no more... ever... don't alert/subscribe to this fic uhh it's literally pointless?