Obsessed with Game of Thrones! And GendryxArya in a friendly way (for now). I haven't read the books so I've done a smige of research. Just enough not to spoil it for myself. So if you're going to review, no spoilers! SILENCE! I'm kind of happy; I wrote this by hand in a notebook last night so this morning I have a spectacular crick in my neck. It's all downhill after you hit 20. I keep feeling like there are inconsistencies, and run on sentences. And that I should differentiate between the Gold-Hats, instead of just calling them 'gold-hats'. But now I really can't be arsed.
Of course when I actually write something, it's nothing that I should be writing; that being, actual fiction, and revision for exams. Whatever, my life is here.
It was painfully unfair, Arya felt. To have been on the way home, still months away, fine, but in the way home, and then to have been caught, and turned in another direction – towards the looming walls of Harrenhal. But as Arya's father used to say, 'the world rarely takes into account what you've been through. It does not adjust accordingly – only people can do that.' Of course Arya had sulkily asked why people couldn't take into account that she didn't want to do needlework. But that was Winterfell where life without her bow was no life at all. Rather than here; here no life at all was just you, being dead.
Lommy was dead. Every step towards Harrenhal was a step away from their bodies. From Lommy, so stupid and green that he hadn't seen the sword from the moment those stupid petulant, trembling words had left his gob. And Yoren, who once killed Willem. Who had looked like he might stand up until that bastard Lorch kicked him into the mud. In the storm she pictured them melting into the ground which was better than rotting. Since then it had rained non-stop for two days. Arya might have tried escaping with the natural cover for aid but she'd have to bring Hot Pie and Gendry. No way was she leaving them. And she didn't like the way Polliver's eyes followed her, brown flecked teeth, leering after her as the rain splashed off his bald pate. He still had Needle too.
They followed the road about half a league from the edge of the God's Eye. Her boots squelched in and out of the deep black mud that wagons had churned out of the road. Ahead, Lorch's horse stumbled every so often and she caught herself thinking 'wouldn't it be nice if he fell off.' He was either too proud or too foolish to get down.
"He's going to lame that horse," Gendry whispered beside her. She looked up at him, his brown tunic was soaked as well and his hair was all stuck to his forehead. The horse picked that moment to trip and clumsily skitter forward, managing just to keep its feet. Lorch on its back, cursed and flailed, jerking the reins back and pulling the poor creature's head in so far it's a wonder it's neck didn't snap. "Idiot," Gendry hiss, but no one heard him over the rain.
This weather and their current situation wasn't making it easier to hide her gender either. The patter of water meant she always needed a wee, and when she did she was never allowed to go alone. Gendry had taken to coming with her into the woods, to stand guard while she did her business. Of course they weren't allowed to be by themselves either. A guard or a gold-hat had to be with them. Once or twice it had been Polliver and his horrible teeth. To begin with they had lied and said they were brothers – a good enough reason for keeping close to each other if not for pissing on the same schedule – and the lie had just continued. Gendry would piss in full view of their sentry – sometimes making creative shapes to amuse himself – while Arya would dart behind the nearest thick tree. She couldn't squat down any more, she'd be noticed, so she had to pull her trousers down and brace herself against the wood. Sometimes her aim was off and she'd end up with slightly damp trousers or legs. This and she'd always be pressed against cold wet tree bark, hoping that nothing unpleasant crawled up her bum, but it was preferable to the alternative. Last time, Gendry drawing things in a steady stream of urine hadn't amused Polliver and he started stamping over to Arya's tree.
"Better hurry up Arry," Gendry called quickly, his voice impressively calm. "Our guard's coming for you." Cue a furious scramble for Arya to yank up her trousers, clutching them around her waist until Polliver appeared; disgusting imitation of a smile on his face. When all he saw was 'Arry '–frightened but finished - his face fell, and he jerked his head back to camp, grunting.
Gendry fell in step beside her as usual, as Polliver crashed through the thicket before them. His hand came down on her shoulder and squeezed.
"You're going to have to drink less. That was too close."
She had scowled at him.
"I couldn't help it," she snapped and stormed after Polliver through the wide path he had left – hacking at the brush with Needle. This was the reason for the bad mood she was in and she was determined to take it out on Gendry until it ran its course. For his part, Gendry seemed happy to ride it out, walking in silence at her side, a small bland smile on his face.
They were walking like this when the train suddenly came to a halt. Before them, Lorch was arguing with a gold-hat who had hold of his horse. The animal was lurching all over the place now; forelegs deep in mud. Finally Lorch seemed to be persuaded to get down from the dipping Bay, only to land up to his shin guards in the sludge himself. This cheered Arya up a bit.
Soon it became clear that the mud was the reason they'd stopped. It was so thick and dark now. The remaining wagon was trapped and everyone was struggling to stay upright, let alone move forward. Arya had just found a reasonably firm bit of ground when Raff –known as 'the Sweeting' for some reason – came squelching down the line, scowl in place.
"What's happened?" asked Hot Pie.
Raff – who even had mud in his thick yellow hair – didn't even look at Hot Pie but reached out and shoved him. Wind-milling his arms hopelessly Hop Pie fell into Arya, one fat arm knocking her across the chest as he went down with a wet 'splat'. Set off balance, Arya toppled against Gendry. Gendry nearly did the splits trying to stay on his feet but being sturdier than either Hot Pie or Arya managed to grab the latter under the elbow and keep her upright.
Arya, who had had all the wind knocked out of her by Hot Pie, seized Gendry and used him to haul herself upright. Hot Pie blinked up at the pair of them. Arya looked down at him, his face splattered with mud, and couldn't help it; she laughed. Laughed in a way she hadn't in weeks, not since Syrio and her father died. Hot Pie just floated on top of the road blinking.
A gold hat came hurrying the same way as Raff and as Gendry tried to drag Hot Pie out of the mud, tensely relayed that a canal lock a little West of them had burst and flooded the road.
"Are we stopping?" she asked.
"No," said the gold hat, as if she was stupid, "We're only a few hours from Harrenhal as it is. We'll get through."
Arya huffed as the soldier strode off.
"Hey," said Gendry, as he finally got Hot Pie upright, "No point staying here 'Arry, we'd only wake up floating."
And Arya couldn't hold it in, she giggled again.
They spent the last daylight hours picking a path through the wet ground. Gendry would use his long legs to bridge between two solid bits then take both Arya's hands and help her jump across. She had refused at first – 'I don't need to hold anyone's hand!' - but after ending up thigh deep in one sink hole, started accepting help more readily. They left Hot Pie to himself, Gendry had reached out for him a few times but after he fell over again and again they just left him alone. It was good exercise, Gendry reasoned making Arya snort, as Hot Pie shouted expletives behind them. Arya had just made the latest patch, Gendry actually lifting her and swinging her part of the way because she was too short to make it herself, when she saw the poor Bay horse finally fall to its knees. The two soldiers swore and yanked on its reins, its head jerking feebly against the force, but it wouldn't rise.
She'd just heard hot Pie splat into the mud for the eighth time before she staggered forwards and against the beast.
"Best just to kill it," one gold-hat was saying.
The other laughed, "Fine if you want to explain to his highness why you lopped off-"
"Dont kill him!" Arya gasped. The short walk without Gendry to help, had been tougher than she thought.
"Out of it boy!" One Lannister soldier snapped, as Arya threw an arm over the horse's neck like that would protect him from the world. But even as they came towards her - swords half drawn - a warm presence appeared on the horse's other side.
"I was a smithy in King's Landing," said Gendry, "I shod horses, I know them. I might be able to get him back on his feet." Below, the beast's head jerked again but otherwise it didn't move. The guards looked at each other and one rolled his eyes.
"Fine, what's your name boy?"
"Jon," said Gendry. It was the name they had agreed on when it was decided they'd pretend to be brothers.
"You can be Jon," Arya had said, tucking into an apple as she sat by the wayside, Gendry setting up shelter, "It's my real brother's name. He's a bastard too."
She had said it blandly enough but realised a second later what she had come out with. Looking to Gendry however, she hadn't seen him look angry. Being labelled as he had, hadn't seemed to annoy him the way it did Jon. When she'd asked Gendry said, "I am what I am, don't care what people want to call me."
And now 'Jon' fell off his tongue like that's what he'd been called his whole life.
"Alright boy, have a go," said the soldier, gesturing at the poor Bay; a hint of a sneer on his mouth. His disbelief didn't bother Gendry either; he turned straight to the horse.
"Arry – help calm him down," he said before leaning against the beast and beginning to murmur in its flattened ear. Arya watched for a moment before leaning in and beginning to whisper soft and low to the beast's other side.
"Come on, get up. You need to get up quick, come on, get up, get up, lovely. I bet you're such a handsome thing when you're clean-" and so on, stroking her hand in slow circles against one large shoulder blade. For his part, the horse turned towards her, to listen better it seemed, and nuzzled her leg, but nothing more.
"Okay," sighed Gendry "next, the hard bit."
He wrapped his arms around the horse's huge shoulder, and under what qualified as an armpit and threw all his weight into trying to move it. His arm muscles bulged against the weight, and the sleeves of his tunic. His face quickly turned red and all the tendons stood out of his neck. Beside them, the soldiers burst out laughing.
"Yeah boy, see if you can carry him all the way to Harrenhal."
Gendry's slipping feet rather than their laughter made him stop.
"Okay, not going like that," he said, nearly to himself. Casting around his eyes feel on the saddle still affixed to the back of the horse, trailed by a chain-mail rump-guard.
"No wonder he can't get up, look at all that he's carrying" He said, nodding at the offending items. The soldiers stopped laughing. One looked angry.
"Ere boy, someone's got to carry that. Who'd you have do it?"
"Well, you can until we get to the other end of this," Gendry threw back with enough force to have the soldier reaching for his sword. Only his friend's hand on his arm stopped him.
Arya could see now, that the rain had eased a bit, that the end of the swamp was really a close, a scant twenty yards beyond. Already a good chunk of their guard was looking back across the wet mud, at the remaining members.
Further back they had given up trying to dig the wagon out and were in the process of unloading the remaining supplies and handing them up the line to begin the trek to dry land. Someone was already leading the cart-mare across a solid bit of earth, along which she plodded dutifully.
"Arry, can you find the saddle buckle?"
Arya jumped and quickly dove beneath the horse's belly in search of the submerged clasp. Sweeping around in the wet, her hands found the buckle on the strap. "Found it!"
"Yeah, can you undo it?"
Arya pried at it with her small fingers, but it seemed jammed in place. Did leather swell? "I-I can't," she had just chocked out, when she felt it come loose in her hands. "Its free," she cried as she managed to release it, flinging her side of the strap over the gelding's back, towards Gendry, who pulled it over, avoiding the flying stirrup. The chainmail slid off the horse's backside and into the mud.
"Better come get that if you don't want it rusting," Gendry said and watched the soldiers scrabbling to get to the fine saddle and soft riding blanket which were slowly taking on water.
They dragged them out from beneath their master's horse. The poor thing whinnied as the other stirrup stuck him in the side.
"Shh, it's alright," Gendry hushed into its ear, patting the big bay neck, "It's okay."
"Can't you get up little thing?" Arya asked quietly of his other side. Hot Pie was standing behind them being useless as usual. But as Gendry was looking around him and his eyes lit on Hot Pie, burning at him in a way that actually made Hot pie recoil.
"Hey Pie. Go and stand next to Arry." Hot Pie hesitated then stumbled towards Arya. "Hey!" shouted Gendry, turning around to the wagon-line, "rope! We need rope!" There was some shuffling around before someone finally threw a coil of rope towards them. Gendry lunged out to catch it and keep it falling into the mud, then tossed the other side over to Hot Pie.
"Get it round his arse," he said, throwing it round the horse's hind-quarters.
"Arya – shit, Arry, get in front and grab his bridle."
A quick glance at Hot Pie showed them he was too distracted - and it seemed a bit distressed – to even notice Gendry's slip.
"Wind it round your – yeah like that. Don't want it slipping."
Both he and Hot Pie wrapped any extra rope around their hands while Arya lifted over the bridle and stroked the horse's lolling nose.
"Right, on three, pull. One-two-three!"
They both heaved but Gendry's superior strength was no match for Hot Pie who slid forwards in the mud. "Shit! Not so hard!" cried Hot Pie as he tried to pull a bit back. Gendry didn't speak, just set his jaw and prepared to pull again.
"Come on!" cried Arya, as if the horse would understand, "You can do it little one!"
The second pull only slid the animal forward an inch. "Come on!" Arya pleaded as the horse's head wobbled – even more pathetically than before, "Come on! They'll kill you otherwise! Come on!" her voice cracked. As a child a work-horse that she loved had gone lame and her father had to have it killed. Arya had begged and pleaded. She had even resorted to Sansa tactics and thrown a tantrum, but it hadn't worked. Even now Arya wondered if nursing Boulder would have helped, before Hordor, crying himself, had gone out with a sword. But exhaustion was not being lame. And damn her, this wouldn't be another Boulder. Arya was just sick of things dying.
Then, as if hearing her crying out across her memories – the big Bay's hooves began to scrape against the ground. One more heave and he was able to fling himself upwards with enough momentum to pick up his legs and use them to shakily support his huge body. Arya whooped.
Dancing about in front of the horse and kissing his nose she didn't see Gendry wind up the rope and take the side of their rescuee's bridle. He clicked his tongue, "Walk on. Come on Arry he's still knackered, let's get him on solid ground," and he led the horse forward slowly. Calming considerably, Arya took the bridle and walked on the other side, as if she could prop Bay up with her minimal weight.
Together, they made it at last to the end of the slick patch. Here, Lorch and the two soldiers waited. "Well done boy," he said jovially slapping Gendry's shoulder.
"Thank you sir,"
"Say, how did you know what you were doing?"
"Smithy sir, I used to be a smith...in King's Landing."
There was a silence and suddenly Arya's insides turned to rock. Did they know Gendry the bastard had been a smith? Was Lorch suddenly become suspicious of Lommy's real identity?
"Oh well good lad. We'll have to see about you getting some smith work once we're in Harrenhal. We'll stop here tonight." He was already walking off, leaving Arya thanking the Gods for the complacency of commanders.
"Here sir?" shouted one of the Gold-hats.
"Yes here!" spat Lorch, "Everyone's exhausted, we may as well get to Harrenhal in the morning. And someone see about getting that wagon free." A collective groan went up. "One of you two, rub down my horse, find his dinner," he said pointing at the gold-hats. They grumbled but one took the Bay from Arya and led him away.
She and Gendry were left standing at the edge of the swamp road looking after their horse - who for his part had probably already forgotten them - then at each other. Then a fat grin split Arya's round little face in two.
"You did it!" she cried and flung her arms around Gendry's middle, squeezing for all she was worth. Gendry – perhaps unused to such affectionate displays – especially from Arya had to bring his hand to pat her hair. A yelp came from behind them, "Oh come on," Arya said, letting him go, oblivious to his awkward, "Let's go and help Hot Pie." And she tramped back into the marsh, towards their floundering friend.
This will be multi-chaptered! I SWEAR TO YOU NOW! I will make it so! And I'll try to keep ahead of the series as best I can, because all of the planned action occurs in Harrenhal. But other than that...what's wrong with it? Please tell me, come up with something, ANYTHING, bad to say. Verbally flay me. It's the only way I'll get better.