Thou wouldst as soon go kindle fire with snow
As seek to quench the fire of love with words.
-Two Gentlemen of Verona, II. VII.
As it happened, she was wearing her own face that night. The thought came to her unbidden as she ascended the steps into the cavernous body of the temple. For a moment the air seemed too thick to breathe. She was no one, and no one had no face of her own. Her thoughts spun and dipped and finally locked back into place. She took a deep breath and then turned. A young, sightless acolyte was taking slow, measured steps toward her with his burning luminere. She put a hand on his shoulder, soft as silk, and drew the long, slender implement from his grasp. "I will tend the candles, boy," she told him. "You go along to the kitchen and help Umma. Go on now."
So it was that the kindly old man found her tending the candles in the temple. She felt his eyes on her before she saw him: felt the air stir gently on her skin, tasted a hint of parchment and cloves on her tongue. He paused after appearing at the head of the stairs, and watched her for a moment, waiting for her to turn to him.
"Who are you?" the old man asked finally, a smile on the edge of his voice.
"Arya of House Stark," she said at once as she held the flame to the last wick. She cupped her hand around the little blaze to protect it from the air currents, and then looked up at him.
They stared at each other for a long time, silent and still.
"So you are," the old man said at last, and held out his hand for the luminere. "So be it."
That night, the waif brought her a cup for the first time in more months than she could recall. The clear liquid sparkled and winked cheerily at her as Arya turned it round and round in her hands. The little woman stood at her elbow, waiting, watching, her eyes telling nothing of her thoughts. I could kill you, Arya thought irritably. I could kill all of you and walk out of here, free.
She lifted the cup to her lips and tossed back the liquid in one swallow.
When she awoke, the hard wood under her back was driving splinters into her skin and the world was swaying. The scent of dampness and pitch and salt assaulted her nose. There were faint voices coming from above and just enough light to illuminate the tiny cabin. She blinked at the dark wood grain of the walls for a moment and then sat up. A sword lay on the floor at her feet and she bent to pick it up at once, without hesitating.
Another wave struck the edge of the ship as her fingers closed around the hilt, and then another. Winter storms, she thought, and she clung one-armed to the railing of the bunk to keep from being tossed about the room. She was in the belly of a ship – why? She was – doing what? Going where? She shook her head, but it was still so cloudy, as though she was still dreaming.
She looked down at the sword in her fist. "Arya," she said aloud, with certainty. "I'm Arya Stark."
And I am going home.