Base Metal

noun; a common metal that is not considered precious.
Robb Stark wears a crown of iron, instead of gold. Gendry's no noble, but maybe what's good enough for the King in the North will do for his sister.

Harrenhal isn't such a bad place – at least for Gendry. He's able to do the job he wants, he's useful. They've been headed North for so long that he'd forgotten the swathe of heat that enveloped you while standing near the furnaces, keeping them burning and alive. The air tastes of smoke, and has the bitter tang of copper. He licks his wind-chapped lips and closes his eyes, inhaling. This is home.

And in the armory, while apprentices aren't allowed to work with it, he's been able to watch a few of the master smiths hammering away at castle-forged steel. The sheen of it blinds him, the sound of stone and metal clashing in a steady rhythm against the pitchless roar of fire. Their hands are far more calloused than his, ash and soot clinging to the skin of their knuckles and the underside of their nails. Even so, watching their fingers turn and twist and mold, holding a newly-finished blade like a newborn babe (and oh, he remembers when he made his first proper helmet, that sense of pride and possession and care) -

Arry used to have castle steel. A slim little sword that she'd called Needle, and treated with as much love as a child might a favorite toy. Needle hadn't been a plaything though – it had shredded skin and cloth, skewered flesh. He'd seen it bloody. He'd seen Arry lose it.

(She'll still be alright, he tells himself. She doesn't need Needle; she was clever enough to trick the boys that she was one of them, she would find a way. Wolves have eyes and ears, teeth and claws.)

The smithy has a scrap heap – bits and pieces of broken off iron, molten lumps of bronze, specks of tin and brass. They'll be sorted out and melted for re-use later, but only once the holders are full. Until then, nobody pays much attention to them.

That suits Gendry just fine.

He's not a wolf – he's a blacksmith, or will be some day, and he needs tools. The hammer in his hand is a comforting weight and after he's finished his work for the day, Gendry stays behind.

The furnace doesn't blaze at this hour, but even the remaining flames are enough to heat the soft metal scraps. He takes the very smallest bits, just bronze and iron, and doesn't touch the steel although his eyes gaze at it hungrily. Gendry knows he's not ready for it - yet. (He will be.)

He'd heard rumors from the people around the castle about Robb Stark, the King in the North. It's hard to accept the idea that Arry is this boy-king's sister. She doesn't look it, doesn't act it, but every so often she'll do something that makes him remember she's a Lady, or at least a future one.

They say that Robb Stark has a direwolf who fights alongside him, tearing through enemy lines with blood staining its fur, teeth bared. It's a wild, fierce thing but it is his, willingly. The crown of the old Kings, a circlet of bronze and iron spikes, is his too.

Gendry can't make Arry a new Needle, but maybe he can give her a piece of what her brother has. (What she should have, as Arya Stark of Winterfell. Ladies have nice things, marry princes and knights.)

He is only a bastard and a smith. This is all he can do for her.

It's rough work – he's used to hammering out the links for chainmail or bending the metal into the bullhorns of a helmet, not a tiny lump of metal so small his fingers are burnt and bruised in the process. It's work meant for an artisan, but it's not as if he can simply go out and find one.

In the end, a little brooch, a bronze wolf head upon a round base of iron, sits in his palm. He stares at it, eyes straining to see the details in the dwindling light from the faintly heated coals. It could pass for a direwolf, he decides, though it's far from perfect and less than deserving of its future owner.

Every creation of a smith is like a child, but Gendry will give this one to her.

(He'd trust her with more, if he had more to offer.)


Originally posted on tumblr under the name amaranthined.

...I blame ampersands. My new addiction to ASOIAF is literally all her fault.