A/N: Hello everyone! This will be my first Game of Thrones story. Before we start, let's discuss a few things. First, this story begins right after the Gold Cloaks attack Yoren and the men headed to the Wall. In this story, Arya is a little older…about 15 and Gendry about 20. This is an AU, so remember that when you see scenes that are familiar from the book, yet play out totally different. I'm not planning to write GRR Martin's story all over again, because it's perfection already. So, you won't have to worry about letting me know that I'm getting it all wrong, cause well, again it's AU! This will be a long story, filled with more angst that a heart can take, but there will be light moments as well, fluffy moments. Anyway, I hope you enjoy and please let me know what you think. This story will be all about Gendry/Arya, because they have taken over my life at the moment! I will be writing about some topics that might not be easy to read, so if you are the faint of heart…take precaution. Some material may not be suitable to some people, but I will try and do it as respectful as possible. Now, on with the show…
She was running through a darkened hallway, the lights of the flames on the wall dancing around her. It seemed as though the length of the hallway stretched on into eternity. Was there an end in sight? As soon as the thought crossed her mind, light poured in around her. She was momentarily blinded. Though she could not see anything, she could hear noises coming closer. The sound of footsteps reached her ears as her eyes adjusted to the light.
Slowly, she brought her hands from her eyes. The world around her went out of focus and back again before Arya recognized the place where she stood. The dark hallway was long gone. She stood on stoned steps, the place looking somewhat familiar. Arya turned in circles, until finally she realized where she was.
"Why is it that my daughter always looks as if she is looking for trouble?"
Arya turned swiftly around to see her father. He leaned against the stoned walls, a gentle smile on his face. His eyes twinkled with amusement and she couldn't help but smile at him. He returned her smile, his face beaming. Arya ran down the few steps and threw herself into her father's waiting arms. She felt him squeeze her, as if trying to squeeze his love into her small body.
The Tower of the Hand, of course, how could she have forgotten this place? She was in King's Landing. Her father, Ned Stark, was the king's Hand. Sansa was to marry the king's son and heir to the throne, and she…well she wasn't sure what her role in all of this was.
Her father took her hand and sat them down on the last step, his smile never faltering. Arya loved her father with all her heart. Truly, he would be the only man in her life that she needed.
"Run…run, Arya," Ned whispered.
She stared at him, her face growing confused. "Why?" she asked uncertain.
"They will kill you like they have killed me, child," he said faintly.
Arya watched his face, watched the sadness etched in his handsome features. They would kill her like they killed him? Something caught her attention underneath his chin. It was small in appearance at first, but slowly it began to grow. A red line began to grow from underneath her father's left ear and slowly made its way to the other side. Red liquid began to pour from the red line like water. It took only a moment for her to realize it was blood. Her wide eyes shot up to stare into her father's face. In the place of his saddened look, Arya saw pain.
"Father," Arya called fearfully.
His hands that once held her firmly began to loosen. His eyes, those eyes that held so much love and protectiveness, rolled upwards. There was a sickening ripping sound as Arya watched her father's head being lifted from its body. She followed it, not having the strength to look away. Horrible, gruesome things were hanging from the hole where his neck should have been. The blood, dripping down on top of her like waterfalls, scared her the most. Her father's headless body fell forward with a loud crash, yet Arya found something, or rather someone else, to look at.
Joffrey, that horrible excuse for a king, stood above her with her father's head in his hands. The smile underneath his blond locks was cruel and mocking. He held her father's face out before him, already decayed with death. The tears filled her eyes, yet they would not fall…they never fell.
"Your head will be on a pike beside his," Joffrey said laughing.
"No…no, no, no, no," Arya whispered, as if in prayer.
"Bring me her head!" Joffrey screamed to someone behind her.
Arya was grabbed from behind. She desperately tried to pry the hands from her forearms, but whoever was holding her was stronger. She could not see what was happening, but she could hear and feel. She could hear the whisper in the air as the ax was heading towards her neck. She could feel the wind from it flowing over her hair. She felt the exact moment the blade touched the soft part of her neck, a place designated for a lover's kiss not the sharp part of an executioner's ax. She felt her skin begin to split apart as the blade slid through her like a knife in butter. Then, she felt nothing.
Arya shot up from where she lay. Her chest rose in rapid succession, her body pumping blood faster than it should have been possible. Her wide-eyes searched the space around her, and found the bright staircase gone. The Tower of the Hand had been replaced by a dark and dirty room. For a moment, she could not remember where she was. She could only remember the sight of her father's head, remember the sharp point of the blade digging into her neck. Her hand shook as she rubbed her face slowly. As the seconds past, she remembered the here and now.
Someone moved beside her and slowly she looked over. She came face to face with a pair of deep, blue eyes, eyes she had come to count on time and time again. Gendry propped himself up on one elbow. He watched her without words, just as he did every time. She tried to give him a reassuring smile, but it came out more as a grimace.
Arya rose shakily to her feet to cross the room and walk out into the pitch, black night. It seemed these days that the nights were getting longer and darker. Her only comfort was the breeze that blew around her. It felt good on her flushed cheeks. Arya raised her face to the heavens, giving herself a few moments to relish in the feeling. Moments like these were few and far between these days. Even fewer were the minutes they lasted. This particular glorious feeling of the wind lasted only the time it took for Arya to close her eyes. Joffrey's horrible smile and her father's head in his hands squashed any pleasure the wind could give her.
How long had it been since that frightening day? How long had it been since her father was ripped away from her? A traitor, the people had called him. Arya knew they were wrong. Her father was an honorable man, never the traitor they all thought him to be. It had been an outrageous lie by the so called king. Arya hated Joffrey, hated him with a passion that still burned as raw as the day he had murdered her father.
Arya had to flee King's Landing, for she was the daughter of a traitor in people's eyes. She would not let herself think of what would have happened had she been caught that day. Instead, she had been caught by a man named Yoren. He had taken her from the square, her father's body not yet cold, and cut off her long, brown locks. In a matter of moments, he had turned Arya into Arry. With every cut of his blade upon her hair, he burned into her mind that she was now a boy. When he was satisfied, he threw her into his group, a group of murderers and thieves heading for the Wall to serve in the Night's Watch.
Yoren was now dead, along with almost all of the men headed to the wall. The Gold Cloaks had caught up with them and murdered them where they stood. Arya, with her few companions, had narrowly escaped. She had chalked it up to dumb luck. Yoren had promised to take her back to Winterfell, but now he rotted in a shallow grave. She was no closer to being home than she was on the day her father was murdered. Thinking of her father, Arya began to replay her dream. It was always the same, night after night, she would dream of her father and every time Joffrey would murder him.
Arya leaned against the bark of a large tree, sliding down easily to the ground. Pulling her knees up to her chest, she rested her chin on top of them. Her eyes stared straight ahead, yet she could not see past the blackness. She felt completely alone, as if engulfed by the darkness. Arya wished she could cry, wished she could mourn her father's death properly, but not a tear had fallen. She was lost to her family, yet she could not shed a tear for them either. This was not good and she knew it. Deep down in the lowest recesses of her heart, she knew this was not natural. Something had happened to her the day of her father's beheading. Something had broken within her.
There was movement behind her, the sound of a snapping twig. Arya was not frightened by the sound. Without looking, she knew who it was. This was their routine. Arya would wake from her nightmare and seek the solace of the darkness. Not far behind her, Gendry would follow. When the dreams first started, she wanted to scream at him to leave her be. She felt as if he was invading her privacy during a time when she wanted to be alone. However, after some time she found she didn't mind so much. He never spoke, never asked her about the dreams. He never pushed her to explain to him what she was going through. He only ever sat in the darkness beside her…with her. Tonight was no exception. As the hours passed, they sat in silence. She could hear him breathing, hear that she wasn't alone.
"Gendry?" Her voice sounded like thunder in the sky, though it was just above a whisper.
"Do you ever think about your father? Who he might have been?"
This was the most they had ever spoken to each other in the darkness. Arya didn't know why, but she wanted to hear his voice, wanted to hear that someone was there with her. "Do you ever wonder how different your life would be if you had known him?" she whispered.
"I used to. When I was younger, after my mum died, I would imagine him coming to take me away with him. After a few years of no sign of him, I learned to squelch that thought."
Arya could hear the bitterness in his voice.
"Your dreams," Gendry started, but paused. "It is about your father, isn't it?"
Arya didn't answer him. Her words were caught in her throat. He had never asked before…until now, but she could not tell him yes. Instead, she nodded her head, not all that sure he could see her actions.
"You should get some rest, Gendry," Arya said instead.
She finally looked over at him. He was hidden in shadows. Only the light of the full moon gave her a way to see his face, though it was obscured. Still, she could see his eyes staring at her.
"As milady commands," he said. He dipped his head in a bow.
Arya rolled her eyes. Ever since he had found out she was a girl, he had kidded her about it. He used his favorite phrase as often as he could. He called her milady here and milady there, and every time he would utter those words, she would push him to the ground in frustration. He thought it was comical, laughing as if he would never laugh again.
"Grow up," she muttered as she got to her feet. Just for good measure, she shoved him until he was sprawled on the ground…laughing.
Walking away, she found her dark mood had lifted somewhat. She found instead of wishing to cry, she wished for the smirk on her face to grow into a full blown smile. Just before she walked into their safe haven, Gendry's laughter still ringing in her ears, Arya did smile. Even if it was small, it was a start.
Arya stilled her hands over the wound on Lommey's leg. During the siege on Yoren's men, Lommey had been shot in the leg with an arrow. Though Arya knew it must hurt like hell, her lack of sleep from the night before made her patience low. She had to clean his wound, though it did not look as if it was helping anything. The wound was festering, growing in size and smelling to high heaven. All around it, blue welts could be seen. Arya knew it was a sign of blood poisoning. Lommey needed more than just water to clean the wound. He needed medicine, but there was none, nor would there be.
Sweat ran down his brown. His teeth were grinding in pain as she continued to rub the wound. Blood and puss poured out of the hole in his leg. Arya had to hold her breath to keep from chocking on the smell. Hot Pie had left even before she began her work. Gendry wasn't far behind. The only one who stayed was the small girl that Arya had rescued. Her mother had died before the siege on Yoren's men had happened, but the girl was left to fend for herself. The night Yoren died, Arya had gone back to save the girl, almost getting herself killed, but Gendry had come back for them both. She was a girl of four, her name unknown. They decided to call her Weasel for lack of a better idea. It seemed she and Arya were the only ones who could stand the sight of Lommey's leg, or the smell for that matter.
The five of them were all that was left of the ones marching to the Wall. Ever since that night, four nights past, they had been on the run and trying to stay ahead of the Gold Cloaks. Only now, it seemed their progress had slowed some. Lommey was getting worse and his strength was dying like a flame blowing out in the breeze. Even now, Arya could feel death all around the room, though Lommey's eyes still held some strength of life. She remembered how horribly mean he had been to her when they had first met. Now, her dislike of him had faded somewhat. She couldn't actually say that she liked him, but it was better than hating him, especially at the end of his life.
"I don't want to die," he said softly.
It was the same every time she cleaned his wounds. Arya never answered, thinking maybe he was speaking to his gods. She would never look him in the eyes when he said it. She thought it better to detach herself from the situation. Blood and puss never seemed as interesting as it did in those moments after he confessed his fear of death.
"Sleep," she said, standing to leave. She needed fresh air, needed to get away from the stench.
"Arry," Lommey called out weakly.
She hesitated at the door, turning to the side, yet still not looking at him. "I-I've asked Hot Pie, even Gendry, but I know that won't tell me the truth. So, I'm asking you…"
He hesitated a moment, as if the strain of speaking was too much for him. Arya stared straight ahead, waiting on him to speak. Beside her, Weasel stood closely. The small girl reached up and took Arya's hand in hers. It would seem the girl had found comfort in Arya.
"Am I going to die?" he whispered.
Arya turned to him then. Their eyes met, holding to each other. "Yes," she said. Her voice was void of any emotions. Some would say she sounded cold, but what was she to do? It would not help Lommey to see her tears, even if she could have produced them. What he needed from her was the truth; however she may have chosen to say it.
"Well that puts a damper in things doesn't it?" he said more to himself than to Arya.
Everyone dies, she thought as she walked out of the safe haven. Weasel did not join her, choosing to stay with Lommey instead. Just wait Weasel, in a few years you will learn not to care as well.
Hot Pie was sitting on the ground slowly breaking a twig apart. He did not look up to see Arya pass by him. She wasn't sure how close he and Lommey were. All she knew was that she had met them together, and it seemed as though they had been friends. He was not the one she sought, so she passed without word.
Gendry was collecting branches to start a fire for their dinner. Tonight, they would be roasting what few rabbits and squirrels they had captured. They were babies, and not much meat on the bone, but it would have to do. Beggers can't be choosers. Arya sat down on a nearby log and watched him begin the fire. They didn't speak at first, not until the smoke began to rise.
"He's close, Gendry," Arya said.
Gendry stared at the small fire as it grew. "Are you sure?"
"I've been cleaning his leg for days now. I know what I see." And I know what I smell.
She watched Gendry stand up straight. He looked around him as if the answers to his unsaid questions could be found. With a deep sigh, he strode over to where Arya sat. He sat down heavily beside her, as if he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. She stared at him, waiting to hear what he wanted to do. Arya wanted to say something to ease his burden, but he had put it upon himself to be the leader of their little convoy. Arya had indulged him, though not without a few heated arguments.
"How long do you think he has?" Gendry asked.
Arya shrugged her shoulders. "I have no clue, I'm no healer, but by the way the wound has festered and reeks of disease, he will be lucky to last the night."
Gendry nodded his head at this. "We will stay here until he passes. He and Hot Pie seem to be close, so for them both we will make this easy."
Arya knew that wasn't what Gendry wanted to do. He wanted to be far away from this place as soon as possible. Each day they lagged behind was another day the Gold Cloaks got closer to them. Arya wasn't the only one the Queen was searching for. For some reason, not known to either of them, Gendry was wanted as well. The truth of it was, the Gold Cloaks had been after them because of Gendry, but if they ever found out who Arya was, she would be in just as much danger. Her brother was at war against the Lannisters and the Lannisters sat on the iron throne.
"There's a river nearby. I think I'll take Weasel with me to have a swim. You and Hot Pie should try cleaning for a change as well. You two reek!" Arya said, desperate to change the subject. When things got serious, both of them knew how to lighten the mood.
"I'm the man of the wood now. I'm supposed to stink," Gendry said. She could hear the soft sound of playfulness in his voice.
His sour mood seemed to ease a bit with her jest. She thought that a good sign. When Gendry was laid back and easygoing, Arya knew things were okay. It was the brooding, bad-tempered Gendry that scared her the most. It meant their situation was dire.
"Fine, don't wash up, but be sure to sit downwind of me at supper, so you won't spoil my appetite!" Arya said, rising.
"As milady commands," Gendry bowed and chuckled.
With a huff, Arya gave Gendry one good push and sent him sprawling off the log. His back hit the hard earth hard, but it did little to stop the laughter bubbling out of him. Arya told herself she would not laugh. If she did, he would never cease in calling her milady.
"Bull-headed little boy," Arya mumbled as she went to retrieve Weasel.
It took a lot of coaxing on Arya's part to get Weasel away from Lommey, but after a long while the girl went willingly. Arya had explained they were going swimming to cool down. With nothing to wash themselves, no soaps or perfumes, the river water would have to do. The river was set a ways away from the safe haven they had found, which was just a small shack in the middle of nowhere. The inhabitants had long been gone. Where the river ran, Arya wasn't sure, but it was cool to the touch and delicious to drink.
They came to the bank of the river. The sound of the rushing water was so inviting, Arya thought to just jump in with her clothes on. She knew without touching it that it would be cold, but that was what she was looking forward to the most. Perhaps, it would be cold enough to silence the voices in her head, and the horrible images they showed her. She called them her demons, because they started the day her father was murdered. They whispered things, horrible things to her of death and destruction. Some moments, she felt consumed by them, but she would find a way to battle out of their hold and back to reality. The voices were her secret, something even Gendry did not know about.
Arya felt a tug on the bottom of her shirt. She looked down to see Weasel staring at her. The girl pointed to the river. She wanted to get in. Weasel began to get undressed, but Arya hesitated. There was a strange sound coming from the river. The rushing water began to grow in volume. The sound was queer to Arya's ears, for she had never heard it before. Weasel walked past her to climb in, but Arya reached out and stopped her.
"Put your clothes back on, Weasel. We're going back," Arya said.
A feeling of dread overtook Arya, though she couldn't explain it. Weasel pointed towards the water again, more forcefully this time. She was not happy with Arya's decision. As the seconds ticked passed, and nothing happened, Arya wondered if her imagination was getting the better of her. Was she creating this dread that flowed through her body for no reason? For a moment, she thought about calling for Gendry, but if she was wrong and there was nothing to fear, he would never let her live it down.
Weasel took a step towards the river, but her tiny body froze in mid-step. Arya watched as the girl began to shake. Looking from Weasel to the river, Arya watched as something floated past them. At first, she thought it was a log, until she saw that the log had arms, legs and hair. It was a body. It floated past them face down. She wasn't even sure if it was a man or woman. The body was too bloated. Weasel let out a soft moan of horror.
Arya grabbed her, turning her swiftly away from the floating body as it went downstream. Her need for a swim was all but shattered. Still, the loud sound from the river continued. Unable to see up ahead due to the trees around the bank of the river, Arya waited to see what would come. When she thought back on this moment, she would realize what a horrible mistake that would be. To her horror, another body came into view. This time, it was floating face up, though she still could not tell the gender. One arm was missing, the blood stopping long ago from the wound left from the missing arm. She could see a piece of bone protruding out.
As the body floated past, heading in the same direction as the first, Arya realized the river had not finished giving up its secrets. It seemed now that it had her attention, its flood gates came open. One after the other, bodies began to float in front of them. Some were large, while others were small. Some held hands, while others floated alone in their death. The whole of the river, from one side to the other began to fill with floating bodies. She could easily see how most of them had died, for they still wore their mortal wounds. That is, if they were recognizable at all. It wasn't until the smaller bodies began to float past, their numbers too great to count, that Weasel began to scream. Arya did not even try to stop her.
Behind her, she could hear Gendry yelling her name, Hot Pie yelling Weasel's. She could not answer, even if it had meant her life. Her eyes, as wide as saucers, continued to watch the bodies swim past her in the river of death. The voices in her head were having a field day with her sanity. At the exact moment her eyes caught the body of a small baby, she felt someone grab her from behind. Arya was turned around, her back turned to the river of death. Gendry was there, pulling her into his chest, shielding her from having to see. Hot Pie grabbed Weasel, mimicking Gendry's actions, but he also turned from the river. Gendry stood rooted to the spot, crushing Arya to him. She could hear his heart beating wildly. She could feel his rapid breathing on the nape of her neck. He was staring at the madness in the river.
"Seven hells," he croaked. Yes, in the end, everyone dies.