But I came and I was nothing

Time will give us nothing

So why did you choose to lean on

A man you knew was falling?


She looked like she'd lived a thousand lifetimes.

A thousand lifetimes full of grief and wrath.

Her eyes haunted him to his deathbed.


He'd imagined their reunion a million and one times.

But even after all this time, she still managed to take him by surprise. She wouldn't have been her if she hadn't. When he looked back on it, he realized he truthfully wouldn't have had it happen any other way. It was comforting to know that even when everything they had ever known had been stripped, and rubbed raw and clean till there was nothing of them left, some things managed to stay constant.

She was constant.

She was his constant, always and truly.

He'd been in the forge when he heard the screams and howls. It was instinct that made him reach for his hammer and run to the direction of the sounds. Winterfell had just started the process of rebuilding itself to it's former glory and trouble was always just around the bend. The gods continued to mock the kingdoms by being cruel and unjust. He didn't even believe in any god anymore, but he long ago found it easier to lay his blame and rage on non-existent entities, lest he implode at the wrong instances and cause some innocent little boy to soil his breeches.

But when he'd successfully pushed through the mass of people, and saw, he thought maybe, just maybe, the old gods and the new had finally answered his prayers. She led the pack, just like she'd always done. Her direwolf prowled next to her, big and fearsome, with blood dripping down its muzzle, and eyes so terrible that even a dragon may hesitate before her. The pack of wolves padded behind her and they growled at every living man and woman they could smell. No one dared to approach, not a single soul. They all stood back, forming a column to let them pass. Eyes flicked back and forth between woman and wolf.

Yet his eyes remained on her, and her alone. She was still dressed the same, in her dirty breeches and her tunic was soiled as ever, with her ever-present sword sheathed at her side. Her hair fell down her back, framing the long lines of her face. It was tangled and dirty and so incredibly wild that he wondered when was the last time she'd bathed. And there was mud, mud everywhere. Surely she stank. It was a strange thought to be having at a time like this, and so very stupid. She would have loved that. Stupid, bullheaded Gendry, she'd say with a twist of her mouth and a twinkle in her eye.

She was a woman grown now, a women of nine-and-ten, with curves and bumps in places that he shouldn't be looking at. But it had been far too long since he'd seen her, except for his dreams where she'd been a constant presence for the past ten years, and he hadn't even known if he'd ever see her again to begin with, so he drank her in, every inch, every nook, every curve. There was a mantra going on in his head, she's alive, she's alive, she's alive, she's alive.

Her eyes swept around the place. Expressionless eyes. Old eyes. Searching eyes. Dead eyes. And he thought that mayhaps she wasn't alive after all.

The people around looked at her with wonder, with admiration, with fear, as if she were some giant. To him, she looked utterly broken. At least she was home, at last. It had been all she wanted, back when he'd known her, before she'd become the broken shell of a girl that he was seeing in front of him. There was an ache in his chest, and tightness in his throat at what he was seeing, yet clearly his brain hadn't been able to process anything because all he seemed to think was 'she needs a hot bath.'

A cry finally broke through his thoughts and he finally looked away from Arya. Was she even Arya anymore? Three more direwolves had added their howls to the pack. But when Arya's face crumpled and a sob fell from her mouth, he knew it wasn't the direwolves she cared for. Rickon was running, looking as wild as she did, with his long hair and long limbs, screaming and yelling. Jon was smiling and sobbing, a sight which was rare to see, as he rarely smiled. But she it wasn't them she ran to. No, it was the fair queen of the north, with her auburn locks and her skirts hiked up, as not to trip while she ran towards her sister. The lost sisters fell into each other's arm, her face pressed against Sansa's chest, grasping her so hard that he was sure that bruises were already starting to form, and the noises that Arya made felt like a dagger had been struck into his stomach, twisting and bleeding him dry.

He'd never heard a sound so horrifying, a wail full of so much pain and grief. At that instant, she looked like she was five, with all the horrors of the world pressing upon her. Sansa's cries joined hers, and her brothers an instant later when they'd thrown themselves on top of the girls. No one seemed to be able to tear their eyes away from them; a broken family who'd started as eight, and had now dwindled to four, who had lost everything. In that moment, they were all grieving, for the father that had lost his head to honor, the mother that had been turned into a vessel of revenge, the brother that had his wolf's head sewn onto his body, and the cripple that had his life savagely taken from him during the final war, leaving his direwolf behind.

He hadn't known how long they sat there, but it seemed liked they'd all aged decades by the time they got up, dusted themselves off, and put on the Stark masks that they were so well known for. That's when he attempted to catch her eye, even though he was terrified of what he might see there. And catch her eye he did, and she looked right at him, with a quizzical look on her face. And for a second there, he thought everything was about to finally fall into place. But she looked right through him, as if she didn't know him, as if everything they went through was nothing, as if he was no one.

As if he was no one to her.


He thought maybe after a few days she'd finally see him.

She didn't.


They didn't know her.

They taught they did, but no one knew her anymore. Not her family, not her kinsmen, not him. Even her savage direwolf occasionally sniffed at her as if she didn't recognize her scent. She even had a thick accent, an accent she'd acquired from abandoning the common tongue and speaking Braavosi language for ten years.

Sometimes it seemed as if she was no one, that she had no identity. And he just wished they knew where she'd been the past few years. She didn't talk about it, or so he'd heard from the other servants at Winterfell. He wanted to shake her until he got the answer out of her, but he was stubborn as she and he refused to talk to her when she acted like he was just another bastard blacksmith.

Even though he was just a bastard blacksmith.

It had been three moons since she'd walked into Winterfell, and she'd finally relented to letting her siblings to throw a welcome feast. Three moons of spending her time in the godswood. Three moons of clutching her siblings until her fingers were blue. Three moons of shaming every man who sparred with her. Three moons of him looking at her from the corner of his eyes.

She smiled sometimes, when Sansa scrunched up her nose in disdain at her choice of wardrobe, or when Jon rumpled her hair, or when Rickon japed with her rather inappropriately. They were rare moments, and he found himself cherishing them and committing them to memory. She hadn't even begun to heal yet, but it was a relief all the same. He wondered if she hadn't noticed his stares, but he knew she had, Arya seemed to see everything, to know everything. Except for him.

Everyone talked about how she beautiful she was, perhaps not as pretty as the queen, but she had grown into a stunning woman all the same, a woman well past flowering age. It didn't surprise him that all the men in the room were staring at her, especially considering for once she wasn't in her soiled men's clothes. No, she had put on a dress, an actual proper ladylike dress. An ivory gown, with roses embroidered around the bodice and hem. He remembered another gown, a gown with acorns on it; it seemed like a lifetime ago when she had been a little girl and he was filled with the sudden urge to ruin her dress once more.

But Arya was no longer a little girl, and the men had noticed. Her bodice was low, and their gazes were drawn to her breasts, breasts that had been bumps the last time he saw her; bumps that he'd felt ashamed to have noticed at that time. No one seemed to be ashamed like he had been though; they ogled her up and down, japed about what was hidden under her skirts, and wondered if her skin was as frigid as the North. He clutched onto his wineskin and glared at all of them. He hoped one of the drunken bastards attempted to touch her. He knew she had a dagger under her skirts, and the thought of it pressed against the neck of a filthy, old man made his mouth twist up into a reluctant smile. They all wanted to fuck her anyway; might as well know what kind of woman they wanted to ring their bells.

He knew there were many nobles in the crowd that wanted to wed her. She was the talk of the realm. She was Arya of House Stark, the lost wolf of the North, Princess of Winterfell. They all said the same words, praising her beauty and courage, admiring her wildness, lying through their teeth about how exciting it would be to have a woman like her as their betrothed. But he knew better, they just wanted to be the man that tamed her. They only knew her family name, they only saw her as a highborn lady related to the rulers of the realm, only noticed her beauty as she was now, in a gown and looking like a grown lady. She was a beauty, no doubt about that. But he thought she had looked far more beautiful in her tattered and soiled acorn dress. It was a ridiculous notion they all had, as if anyone could tame Arya Stark, as if anyone should.

When the eighteenth man had approached her, he finally decided he'd had enough and got up to leave with a grunt. He'd gotten himself piss drunk and as he stumbled out of the great hall, he could feel the queen's eyes upon him. Sansa had been staring at him with a puzzled look on her face the whole night, and it made his stomach squirm. Had he been that obvious? He was just a blacksmith; he had no right to be glaring at Arya's suitors as he was.

He ended up staggering to the godswood. He could still hear music coming from the main hall, and he racked his brain trying to remember if he'd ever heard a song about the maiden of the tree before.

He wasn't supposed to be there, these gods were not his gods, and his place was not the place of the northerners. But he went anyway; the weirwoods had always made him feel at peace since he'd come to Winterfell. They'd reminded him of a little girl he hadn't been able to save, but he'd clung on to any memory of her and the frightful trees had given him that.

He didn't belong in Winterfell. He'd come here, a broken man looking for some peace of mind, looking for her. But this wasn't his home; he'd never had a home. He was looking for that sense of belonging he'd felt when he was five-and-ten and on the run from the queen, and that had led him straight to Winterfell. He'd always felt at home when he was with her, even though no baseborn bastard like him had a right to feel such a thing.

He was on his way back to his chamber in the smithy when he bumped into something small. He looked down and saw her and her shocked expression. He'd caught her off guard; she never got caught off guard and she seemed unnerved at the thought. She was sweaty and flushed. Her hair had been coming out of its braid all night, and it had finally come undone. Her fall had made her dress all dirty and muddy and exactly the way he'd wanted it earlier. He thought she looked more beautiful at that moment than she had all night.

But it was her eyes that made him angry, eyes with no recognition in them, eyes that looked through him as if they hadn't spent all those moons together, moons where they protected each other because that was just what they did. He'd always been bad tempered and at that instant he was furious, more furious than he could ever remember being in his life. His mouth twisted with a cruel smirk as he noticed how tiny and vulnerable she looked at that instant.

'I beg your pardon m'lady,' he hissed at her as he walked away, leaving her in the dirt.

Arya blinked.


The next morrow, he woke up with a thumping headache, a dirk pressed to his throat, and a very angry owner glowering down at him.

'Do not call me m'lady Ser, unless you would like to have your heart ripped out and fed to Nymeria.'


Rickon had been about to yield to him when she came.

It had been a fortnight since she'd given him the faded scar on his throat. The cut had been jagged and shallow. Nevertheless, it had left a small white scar in its place. A fortnight of her avoiding him but he found he preferred that to the indifference. But here she was, gently placing her hand on Rickon's shoulders, all the while keeping her eyes solely on him. She looked angry, and a little bit resigned, and he didn't know what to think of it.

A hush went through the courtyard; Arya had never interrupted any of her brothers' practices before, and most certainly not to challenge a blacksmith. Practiced swordsmen had yielded to her. What chance did a man who preferred beating out breastplates with his hammer have?

The practical thing would have been to turn her down and walk away. It would have been the cautious thing to do, the smart thing. He'd been practical his whole life, and he knew very well that Arya was about to destroy him in front of a courtyard full of highborns that he despised. But she had always made him throw caution to the wind, and when she smirked at his hesitation, he found himself giving her a brusque nod.

She dropped into her water dance stance, a stance he had tried to mimic for years and failed miserably at, gripping Needle in her left hand. He wished he had his hammer; he was always better with that than a sword. He didn't have time to question it as she suddenly charged at him. He had to roll out from underneath her to prevent being knocked down at first blow. She was stronger and quicker than she used to be, but so was he.

War had turned them all into soldiers.

Their swords clashed over and over again. He matched her every blow, and dodged all her thrusts, and she was becoming incredibly frustrated and red. But Arya's patience was unfailing, and by time she had the upper hand. He was tired, so very tired, as if the weight of all the horrors he'd been through was pressing upon his shoulders. She had almost stabbed him a dozen times before she managed to unarm him, his sword clattering to the floor with a dull thud.


But she didn't stop. The hilt of her sword came crashing down across his face, hard, and the next thing he knew he was on the ground, feeling as if his head was about to burst. He tried to get up, but his attempts were futile. He raised a hand to his brow and felt the blood pooling between his fingers. There was a dull thudding in his ears and he could barely see two feet in front of him. He shook his head a few times and could make out the silhouette of Arya throwing down her sword next to his. He felt rather than saw her straddling him.

It wasn't until she brought her face close to his that he saw just how livid she was. No one had every looked at him with so much hatred before. She raised her fists and started pounding on him. She may have been small, but her punches took the breath right out of him. She scratched, and clawed, and punched every inch of skin within her reach. He could hear the people in the courtyard yelling and attempting to calm her. He could make out hands trying to pull her off, but she had a death grip upon him. Every cell in his body was screaming at him to grab her hands and stop her, but he didn't. He just stayed there on his back and allowed her to beat him. If she needed this, he would give it to her, even if it cost him his life. Every bruise, every broken bone, every wound, to him they were worth it.

It wasn't until he started coughing up blood that she finally toppled off of him. She stood up on wobbly legs and staggered backwards. She looked down at the blood on her knuckles and then the blood on him. She was shaking head to toe. She looked back up into the one good eye he had half-open and her eyes started welling up with tears. He couldn't bear to stand her looking so horrified.

'Arya,' he whispered, even though his sides hurt when he tried to talk.

She shook her head, looking back down at her blood soaked knuckles. His blood, or hers, he didn't know.

'Arya,' he said more firmly this time. 'Arya, look at me.' By the gods, it hurt like the seven hells to talk.

'You- you left- you left me. You were the only one I had, and you left.' Her voice was shrill, and so full of pain, and it brought him more agony than any of the blows she had imparted upon his body. Her tears were streaming down her face now and she stubbornly wiped them off.

'You left, Gendry. You left me.' She was yelling now, and Rickon was holding her back. He didn't need to; Gendry saw all the fight leave her body and winced when she collapsed upon the ground next to him.

He didn't know how to explain, he couldn't. How could she have possibly not known? He wanted to scream at her no matter how much it hurt, until he was blue in the face and had no breath left in him. How could she be so stupid? Everything he'd done had been for her. He didn't care for titles or a knighthood, but she'd deserved more than a bastard blacksmith. He became a knight for her, he took an oath for her, and he had done what he could to be worthy of her.

And then she'd run off straight to her doom.

But he didn't tell her that. He wouldn't. He couldn't.

Instead he sucked in a breath and murmured, 'As did you.'


She sat by his feet on the cot, grabbed the cloth from the maester, and gently redid his bandages.

She had bandages of her own on her hands.

The next day, she brought him a pigeon leg and shredded it for him.

He accepted it, as he accepted the unspoken apology in her eyes, even though in his mind, she had absolutely nothing to be sorry for.


She watched him hammer at the anvil.

She had been coming to the smith every day since he had recovered fully enough to start working again. She never said anything, hadn't spoken a word since she had left his body battered and bruised. But she watched him. She had watched him when he'd been in his sick bed, and she was watching him now.

And he had let her.

He'd always known she loved watching him work. He never understood why, but maybe the steamy room, and the sound of the hammer brought her the same serenity it had brought him for as long as he could remember.

She never made a sound, she was as quiet as a shadow and if it had been anyone but Arya, he would have forgotten there was anyone there in the first place. But her presence was so strong that it took a great deal of effort to not accidentally drop the hammer on his foot. Best not add any more injuries to the list.

He wished she would talk. He wanted to hear her voice. He wanted to hear her grumble and call him a stubborn bull, even though she was by far more stubborn than he could ever be. He wanted to know everything that happened. He needed to know. But Arya was Arya, and she needed her time so he would wait until he was old and grey for her to open up if she had to.

He was so immersed in his thoughts that he moved a bit too fast than what his body was still ready for and a jolt of a pain rushed up his side.

He hissed and she was by his side in a second.

'I told the maester it was too early for you to start forging again. You're weak, far too weak.' she grumbled as she nervously flapped her hands around his side. She eventually grabbed the hammer out of his hand and pushed him towards the cot to sit down. 'And more useless than usual.'

He always ended up regretting his wishes.

Her words made him so angry. So furious that all the rage he wanted to unleash on her started piling up on his tongue and crowding his throat that he actually had to bite his tongue to keep himself from snapping at her. The only things she'd said to him since she had walked back into Winterfell and wormed her way back into his heart - if she ever left it that is - is threaten to cut his heart out, accuse him of leaving her and now this.

He had to work. Winterfell still hadn't been fully rebuilt; every corner was still filled with ash and disaster. This was her home, and he had been helping to fix it since the day Sansa had come for the Boltons. He wasn't useless, he had been here, waiting and doing everything he was supposed to do, but she had been somewhere else. A place she would never talk about and it just wasn't fair.

Her words also hurt him a lot more than it should.

It's almost as if she feels the anger radiating off him, as her eyes suddenly snap up to look into his. They were hard and expressionless as always. He refuses to break her gaze. Her grey eyes bore into his blue eyes until she finally realized that she'd done something wrong and her nose crinkled up in confusion. And she looked so much like Arya then, with her scrunched up freckly nose that he couldn't help but smile.

That seemed to startle her more, and she ends up actually recoiling. She never breaks her gaze though, and neither does he.

And he's not sure exactly how it happens, but her eyes end up softening and her head tilts sideways and she's suddenly smiling up at him like she pities him.

Her hand rises up to his face and she starts tracing the lines around his eyes, which are more prominent than usual now that he's smiling. Her touch is tender and so very unexpected all because this is Arya and she's been flinching at everyone's touch since the day she's gotten back. But here she is, touching him so softly, and not because she's tending to his wounds and he doesn't know what he's supposed to make of it. He doesn't understand. So instead he tries to ignore the strange feelings in his stomach at her touch.

'These aren't laugh lines, are they? I should know, I've got more than you,' she whispers.

He can't answer her, not when she's like this. So vulnerable and sweet and isn't this what he always wanted? His tongue seems to be stuck to roof of his mouth and as much as he would like to take her into his arms, he can't. She's never like this and he'd be damned before he breaks the spell.

'Caring is a disadvantage Gendry. Never forget that.'


A white raven from the Citadel flies to the North bearing the news.

The long winter had finally ended.

But summer would never come for the likes of them.


They have a routine.

She watches him work in the smith, and he watches her spar with her kinsmen.

At night, they meet in the godswood. She gets him Dornish wine from the kitchens, and he gets her blueberries from the bushes growing around the forge.

If anyone notices them disappearing after supper, they say nothing. Not to him, at least.

Sometimes he talks, and sometimes she truly listens.

He tells her about his childhood in King's Landing; explains how he felt the first time he made a sword; conveys his loneliness when he was with the Brotherhood; expresses how he'd felt when he learned the Starks had rightfully taken back their seat in Winterfell; describes the day when big, burly men, covered in blood and guts, had bent the knee to Sansa.

That was her favorite story.

She never interrupts him. She may snort at some of his exaggerations, roll her eyes when he asks if he should continue, or smile when he gets too absorbed in his storytelling, but she lets him continue and he doesn't bother asking her what's on her mind.

He tells her his stories hoping one day she'll tell him hers.

She doesn't.

Not right away.

She comes to him one day, before the sun has fully risen, and wakes him up by dumping a bucketful of ice water on his face.

She tries to hide her grin when he bolts straight up, coughing and spluttering up water, but she fails miserably and soon she's silently shaking with laughter.

'You look like a drained cat,' she manages to finally say after she's managed to control her giggles to some extent. 'A cat with coal-black fur.'

'Couldn't m'lady have found another way to wake me up?' He viciously shakes his head, dousing her with water. She scowls at the title, and steps back to avoid the droplets. Serves her right. What was she playing at anyway?

He leans over his cot and pulls on his boots. He's scarcely stood up before she's tugging on his hands. Her hands are no longer soft like they were when she was still a child. They're as rough and calloused as his are, and her scars are plenty.

'Come with me,' she says, her voice soft and as low as a whisper. And she's looking up at him with her wide grey eyes, and there's a question in her eyes that she doesn't ask him, but he knows. His throat feels thick and he swallows before he nods his head. He'd go to all seven hells if that were where she asked him to go.

She's still clutching onto his hand when she takes him to the godswood. It's a cold morning, with the wind sharp and biting and seeping into his bones, and finds himself wishing he'd had time to get his furs. It seems summer takes time to come to Winterfell.

It's quiet; the only sounds he hears are the crunching of branches below his boots, the slight growl of Nymeria, and the rustling trees. She doesn't make any sounds, not with her bare feet and the skills she has seemed to learn in her lost years. The blood-red leaves and the pale white branches get thicker as she takes him to her destination. Eventually the branches break and open up to a clearing with the stillest pool he's ever come across.

'This was my father's favorite place.' He'd heard of the pool, but he'd never ventured far into the godswood to find it. It simply wasn't his place.

She lets go of his hand then, and walks to the edge of the pool, rolling up her breeches as she does. He watches her crouch beside it, and look down into the glassy surface. She flinches at her clear reflection, she hates her reflection, he had noticed her always avoiding it like the plague. He distinctly remembers the Hand of the King, and his grey eyes as he questioned him.

She has her father's eyes, and he feels stupid for only realizing this now.

She has her father's eyes, and she can't bear to look at it.

She disrupts the surface by angrily pitching a rock into the smooth surface, sending waves expanding in all sorts of directions until her reflection is blurry and chopped and she can tolerate to look at it again. She sinks to the ground, Nymeria not far from her reach, and dips her feet into the water. She shivers slightly, but she doesn't say anything, nor does she acknowledge him.

Eventually, he doesn't know how long it's been, seconds, minutes, maybe even hours, she slightly turns her head and nods to him.

He's walking to her and kneeling down behind her before he's even realized it. The ground is hard and rough under his knees but he doesn't want to make a wrong move and scare her.

'It's a long story, so you should get comfortable. Or don't, I don't particularly care.' Her voice seems far too loud in the quiet woods. He moves slowly, sitting down on the ground, and angling his legs to stretch out around her small frame.

She pets Nymeria's belly for a while, not speaking, the only movement her fingers curling around the fur.

The sun is high in the sky when she finally leans back, barely touching him, her wild hair scratching his face. She brings her knees up to her chin and circles them with her arms, holding herself tightly, her fingers white against her forearms. Her back is taut with tension, and it breaks his heart to know how hard it is for her open up herself to someone. He wonders how much pain and suffering one would have to go through to be the person she's become.

She feels his pity, just as she feels everything else, and she starts grumbling what sounds suspiciously like 'stupid' before she fully leans back, resting her temple against the crook of his neck. He feels her cold breath against his skin, and he instinctively raises his arms and crooks it over hers. She stiffens for a moment, not used to his boldness, but then she relaxes and grasps one of his hands before she tilts her head and looks up into his eyes.

'Have you heard of the Faceless Men?'


She tells him everything that day.

He wishes she hadn't.

He had never hated himself more for staying with the Brotherhood.


'You're making too much noise.'

'And you're making too little noise!'

If looks could have killed, he would have been dead hours ago.

They've been bickering all day, and she's being a right bitch, and it's frustrating and it's infuriating and it's taking every ounce of strength he's got not to use the sword at his hip to run through his chest.

It's also extremely comfortable and despite all the snapping, he enjoys her company more than he's ever enjoyed anything or anyone, and he's actually contended, and the gods have him now, because clearly he's doomed if he enjoys being snapped at by a petulant girl half his size.

But really though, it's not his fault that they can't find game. They're far too close to the edge of the woods, and as Nymeria has been hunting in the woods since they've come back, all the prey had probably scampered long ago.

'Seven hells, just be quiet for a few moments,' she snaps at him when he accidentally steps on some branches that break with a loud crunch.

'As m'lady bloody commands,' he says bitterly. What does she expect? There are branches everywhere and he could be in the forge doing something useful but she was the one that dragged him here and he just wishes she would be quiet for a few moments.

She whirls around, the braid she'd bound with grass slapping him in the face, eyes shining, cheeks flushed. She's looking up at him, he's looking down at her, their faces only inches away from each other. She's been eating blueberries and now that's she close, he can see blue coloring staining her teeth and outlining her lips.

There was a time when he thought he had forgotten her face. Times when he would squeeze his eyes so hard hoping the dots he were seeing would magically transform into her face. Times when he would squint his eyes at any dark-haired girl he would come across hoping he would remember her. But now that's she here, here with him, he wonders how he could have ever forgotten her; how he could have let himself allow her face to become blurry image he could no longer conjure. She'd become faceless, and he'd forgotten her face.

He knows the details of her face by heart now; he didn't need any light to make out her features. The puckered shape of her mouth, small with red cherry lips; her petite nose, with the ever-present dirt and freckles upon it; the lines and scars bracketing her face, far too many for a young girl; her grey eyes, eyes the color of winter, eyes that are regaining their brightness and spark; they haunt him, awake or asleep, they're always in the back of his mind and he vows to never let himself forget it.

She's panting, her chest rising and falling beneath her tunic. His tunic, she stole it once. And it's too big on her and he can see the curves of her flushed breasts and he finds himself wondering how it would feel to run his tongue over them. He tries to shake the image out oh his head, but it's far too late for that. She's growling some sort of insult at him, probably something along the lines of stupid, and her voice has a bite. When she doesn't get the response she wants out of him, she raises her hands, and starts poking at his collarbone.

He grabs her hand, and a wave of fury crashes over her face.

She hitches in a breath, about to unleash more insults at him, but she makes the mistake of licking her lips before she does. He looks down at her lips, remembers tasting them in his dreams, kissing her face and down her throat, her hands digging into his back. He remembers fucking her in his dreams. Fucking her against the trunk of a weirwood, against the wall of the forge, against the scratchy mattress. He remembers how much he's always aching for her when he wakes up, realizes how hard he is right now.

But right now, all he wants to do is kiss her.

And he does.

He gently cups her chin with his free hand, and presses a gentle kiss against her lips.

How he manages to keep it chaste, he'll never know.

Of course, it's the first he's ever kissed her, and maybe it's the last, and clearly it can never be as that easy when it comes to her.

She wrenches away, looking at him like he's some sort of beast from Sansa's stories, and maybe he is, after all he is a bastard and she is a princess and this isn't how the songs go. And then she's slapping him so hard that his lip splits open and he can taste the salty tang of blood in his mouth, and seven hells, she has more force in her tiny body than anyone else he has ever met.

And the next thing he knows, she's kissing him.

There's nothing soft about it, nothing soft about her.

She grabs his face, so hard that it he's sure it's going to bruise, her fingernails leaving red lines and imprints across his cheek, and she's digging his teeth in his bottom lip, bruising it even more, and he can feel the blood flowing into her mouth.

She kisses like a wild wolf, all bite and no gentleness.

Her hands move up to tug at his hair, and he's winding his own hand around her braid so he can loop it around his fingers, and he tries his best to not let the kiss stay angry, tries to coax it into something soft and gently and deserving of a lady, but she's not relenting and soon it becomes a battle between them.

It's a battle they've been fighting since the day they met; him trying to soften everything, and her trying to harden it.

Neither gives the other a chance to breathe.

But soon his lungs are screaming for air, so he has no chance but break away. She smirks at that, he knows she finds him weak for pulling away first, but he truly doesn't care. He's panting, pulling in great gulps of air. She's stolen his breath, burned his lips, and he can feel a flame running up his belly. He feels like he's about to burst into flames and incinerate them both.

'You can't even breath quietly,' she sneers as she rests her forehead against his.

But she's gasping for air as well.


He still remembers his mother with her yellow hair and her sweet songs.

She sang about gallant knights, maidens with flowers in their hair, ferocious direwolves, summers that lasted decades, and everlasting love.

Her songs were endless.

But his mother never sang about a bastard bull and a highborn wolf.


They hear people whispering whenever they pass them by.

The word 'bastard' is said many times.

She grasps his hand in the dark, and holds on tightly.

'I have blood on my hands. Knights, and lords, and bastards, and ladies, and whores, and smallfolk, and even children.' she whispers into shoulder. 'Blood stains red regardless of titles, it's always red, and it always stinks.'

She's so sure of herself, so sure of everything, except for the times when she forgets herself.

When she becomes no one again.

It happens more times than he knows how to count, and it destroys him every single time.

They send for him every time it happens.

Rickon used to rouse him at night and simply say, 'she needs you.'

He doesn't have to say the words anymore, Gendry knows.

She was always vicious and in hysterics.

She recognized no one, least of all herself. Her face would be pulled back in a snarl, and she'd scream and yell and mumble names of people he didn't recognize. Names that were not her own. Names that she had taken on and then shed like a snake. Names that she had used to forget the pain she'd gone through as Arya Stark.

She was mad, swiping at everyone that got in her way, clawing and scratching at her face, pounding on walls and door. Her chamber would always be a mess, with furniture turned over, and feathers from her pillows adorning the floor. And there was blood. Her blood, whoever dared to attempt to subdue her, Sansa's blood, his blood. Red and bright and mocking; on the walls, on the ground, running down her face. She would grip her small sword in her hand, she would grasp the top, clutching it to her like it was her child, the Valryian steel cutting her fingers to the bone, leaving her hand stiff and bruised for weeks.

He'd once asked Sansa what they had done in the first moons of her arrival when he hadn't been in her life.

Sansa had simply said, 'we barred her in of course, until she exhausted herself out and fell asleep. I stayed with her. She never hurt me, not much at least.'

But now he was there, and Arya may not have known her own name, but even in her haze of craziness, she always perceived that he held the answers she was seeking.

She hurls herself at him whenever he comes in, hair whipping about his face, tears and blood streaking down her face onto his, petrified grey eyes boring into his, slamming into his chest, grasping and twisting his shirt underneath her blood-spattered fingers, holding Needle to his throat, and begging him to say her name.

He never did.

It infuriates her, and she unleashes all her rage on him, beating his torso, pressing her blade harder to his throat, scratching and biting his skin. She thrashes against him, frantic and manic and completely mad. His heart feels as if an ironclad hand is squeezing it, but he doesn't let his sorrow show on his face.

She's always been the strong one, the resilient wolf of the North; it's his turn now.

She laughs when she notices the blood running down from his cuts, throws her head back, her pale neck exposed and shining in the moonlight, and laughs and laughs. Crazed and demented and shrill, she laughs. Laughs until her throat is hoarse and her mouth is dry.

She collapses from exhaustion then, falling onto the ground a dull thud, still holding onto his shirt. Still begging him to say her name. Her small frame a startling contrast to the destruction that surrounds. He never fails to realize how tiny she is. He cups her face then, doesn't let her flinch bother him. He kisses her, because he can't not kiss her. Kiss her cracked lips, her teary eyes, her bruised knuckles. Spells out her name against her skin with his lips, tries to burn it onto her, imprint her so she never forgets. He strokes her face, gently, wiping the blood and gore off, caressing her bruises. He combs his finger through her hair, slowly, attempting to tame and untangle her wild hair as tenderly as possible.

He's still spelling out her name on her skin with his lips, breathing it on to her neck, tracing it against the small of her back. He doesn't stop, not for one moment.

Not until she remembers her name.

Finally before she closes her eyes and falls into a deep sleep, she whispers, 'Arya.'

'Arya,' he agrees, clutching her even tighter.

He can't bear to move when she falls asleep, stays with her until she wakes up, disoriented and groggy.

He doesn't even move when Sansa leans on the bedpost in front of him, fixing him with her shrewd gaze.

She doesn't say anything, just watches, her eyes sad and perceptive.

Arya jumps in her sleep, twisting and turning, her eyes squeezing harder; he calms her down, he always calms her down.

'You love her,' Sansa declares. It wasn't a question.

'I'm just a bastard, you grace.' If held her any tighter, she would cease to breathe.

She laughed at that, a soft melodic laugh. 'And is there some rule that says bastards are not permitted to love?''

'Bastards are not allowed to love princess.'

'I was betrothed to a king once,' she snorted, a rather alarming thing as the queen was always polite and ladylike. 'And he never showed me an ounce of genuine kindness and love that you show her. You are not just a bastard, and you cannot possibly think she cares.'

He was speechless; the queen had never mentioned her time with the Lannisters before. Not to him, not to anyone.

'Love is supposed to dismiss your fears, not break your heart. It's never that easy though, is it?' She had a faraway look in her eyes, and he wondered if she had loved and lost.

'It does not matter. Arya does not know how to love anyone anymore, your grace.' He hadn't intended to sound bitter, but he couldn't help it.

Sansa smiled then, a desolate smile, her eyes taking in Arya's body in his arms. She stood up then, smoothing out her skirts. She paused on her way to the door, lightly resting her delicate hand on his hair.

'We were fashioned for love. I'm afraid that's our greatest downfall. But she loves you in whatever way she can, in whatever way she allows herself.'

She paused once more at the door and looked back at him, looking as regal as a queen ought to.

'Trust me Gendry, the same blood flows through our hearts. A sister knows these things.'


'Sometimes I wish you were dead.'

Her hand freezes on her way to her mouth, where she's still chewing sour leaf.

He asked her why she wanted to try it, and she said she wanted to taste blood in her mouth.

He realizes he was crass, but she doesn't mind.

She understands.


He hadn't been able to sleep, so he was at the anvil when she sneaked into his chambers well after dark, clutching a wineskin.

She's wearing a nightdress, and only a nightdress. And he's only in his breeches, and this isn't right and a noble knight would march her straight out.

He's never been very good at being a noble knight.

Her nightdress is so thin that he can see her whole naked form underneath it, soft and supple and pink.

She's trying to break him.

She's succeeding.

He gently sets his hammer down, walks slowly forward, grabs the wineskin for her hands, throwing it on the ground next to his feet, and grabs her in a crushing embrace.

He hasn't been able to keep his hands off her.

Which he has to admit, is very very bad.

Her mouth slants over his, slanting back and forth in a fierce and arousing kiss that sends a rush of blood to his cock. He presses his body against hers, his hands stroking over her breasts, her hands on stroking his back. His skin burned wherever she touched it. He breathes her name in a ragged whisper, over and over again, sliding his lips down her neck and back up again to bury his lips on hers again.

He slows down the kiss, kissing her deeply and gently, but he has never been good at controlling his urges, and soon he's kissing her with urgent hunger again. He runs his hand through her hair, down her sides, and cups her bottom and pulls her against his stiff cock.

She moans at that, a moan of pure desire and need.

Without breaking the kiss, he puts his arms beneath her bottom and sweeps her into his arms. She struggles for a second, but relaxes when he gently lays her on his cot.

The first time he'd laid her on his bed, he'd asked her if she minded his scratchy mattress.

She's snorted at that and asked him if he seriously thought she wanted a featherbed.

He lays over her, making sure he bears most of his weight off her, tenderly kissing her closed eyes, drawing her against his body, reaching out with his free hand to smooth the tousled wild hair that's spread across his straw pillow.

He pulls back when she reaches for the edge of her nightdress, stretching up and jerking it over her head. She feels no embarrassment lying nude in front of him. Not the first time he saw her like this, and certainly not this time.

He's seen her naked and willing beneath him more than he had ever dared to imagine, and she still manages to take his breath away. With a low groan, he leans down and kisses her with fierce tenderness, unable to control the shudder that passes through him. She wraps her arms fiercely around his neck, curls her leg around his, and draws his tongue into her mouth, battling him for control.

She wins.

She always wins.

She jumps when his fingers rub her nipples into hardened little buds, arches her back when he kisses down her throat and nuzzles her breasts, tugs on his black hair when he draws her nipple into his mouth. She lets him suck her breasts for only a short while before she starts pushing his head down her stomach.

Always the impatient one.

He chuckles before pushing her thighs open with his big hands, and putting his mouth between her legs.

Pride surges through his body when he draws moans and gasps and whimpers from her bruised lips, when she twists on his hair so hard he winces, when her back arches completely off the cot, when she grinds her slick cunt into his face, when she breathes his name during her climax.

Once she's stopped quivering, he shifts upwards in smooth motion and kisses her lips with raw hunger. He can never get tired of her kisses.

She's kissing him back with an innocent ardor that manages to rile him up and soothe him at the same time.

It's innocent until she delves her hand down onto the laces of his breeches.

'No!' His lands lock down on hers.

He knows her body intimately more than any man has ever had the pleasure of knowing, but he refuses to allow her this. He refuses to lay with her.

It simply wasn't his place.

She's frustrated, actually stomps her foot on his cot, glares at him with so much anger that it's hard to believe he had his mouth on her less than a minute ago.

She never understands why he's always so difficult about this.

He doesn't care; he refuses to lay with her.

And he's steadfast on not letting his restraint shatter.

But then she gently lays her hand on his cheek, and simply says 'please.'

He's shocked, his mouth actually falling open, and he must look like proper stupid right about now.

How many times has she sneaked into chambers, and this is the first she's begging him.

She's far too stubborn for that.

But not tonight, it seems.

After what seems like a hundred years, he whispers, 'I don't want to ruin you.'

She rolls her eyes at that, punching him hard on his forearm. 'You're so stupid.'

'I'm serious, Arya.'

She pushes her hand down between them, grabbing onto his laces, and she begins to undo them. 'I'm already ruined beyond repair Gendry, and it had nothing to do with my maidenhood.'

She pushed his breeches down his legs with her feet, pulling them off him while wholly taking his body in. She clings to his shoulders, digging her nails into his flesh, her wide eyes, dark with desire, boring into his and imploring him.

'I want you. Please.'

His resolve shattered, and he moved partially atop of her, bracing his hands on either side of her, wedging his knee between her thighs.

He kissed her again, biting on her bottom lip, his arms taut with the strain of holding back.

It took one more please before his resolve completely shattered and he plunged into her, tearing through her maidenhood. He heard her gasp, and he was about to pull out before she grabbed his shoulders and wrapped her legs around him.

'I will stab you if you stop now.'

He didn't doubt her.

Arya had never let a little pain stop her, and soon she started nudging his bottom with her foot. He eased out of her, and then pushed back in again, deeper this time, and deeper the next, until she arched her hips against his and started moving against him.

She had always been a fast learner.

Sweat dampened his forehead as he drove fully into her, and he had to force himself to slow down to fight down the tormenting demands of his own body.

He watched her face as she strained towards him, shaking and frantically gasping, and he began increasing his movements to help her reach what she was looking for.

He felt her reaching her climax once more, and bent his head and kissed her desperately and drove into her one more time before joining her in her peak.

He collapsed on top of her; their bodies still joined and his head resting on her chest.

Once he realized he might be crushing her, he moved to the side, pulling her along with him and cradling her in his arms. She laughed when she looked up at him, her dark lashes fluttering against his forearm, and asked, 'Now was that so hard?'

He couldn't help but join her in her laughter, pulling her even tightly against him and kissing her forehead, as she feel asleep snuggled against him.

He woke up when she was pulling on her nightdress.

He watched her and when she turned to him, hair a mess, checks flushed, and a slight smile on her face, he blurted, 'I love- '

Her hand clamped against his mouth as her eyes hardened.

'Love is for children.'

He blinked, and she was gone.


He bought her a rose for her name day.

She pricked her finger on a thorn.

When she saw his expression, she laughed and laughed and laughed until she was on the floor clutching her sides.

She rarely laughed.

He brought her roses every day from then on.

He made sure they had thorns.


Sometimes he manages to forget.

He forgets that she's a princess now, and that he's always been a bastard.

It happens when she steals food off his plate, when she calls him bull-headed, when she pats his head when he says something particularly stupid, when she moans his name, when she comes to him to complain about Sansa, when she kisses his cheek leaving an imprint of her blueberry stained lips.

When she's Arya, and he's Gendry.

His entire universe had been thrown off balance, and she was the root of it. He wondered when everything he'd ever known had been shifted. Had it been during his reckless moment when he'd kissed her? Or because of the time she'd left him bloody and bruised? Or was it when she'd walked back into Winterfell with a pack of wolves by her side? Although if he was honest with himself, his entire universe had been shifted upside down the day he'd met her. Back when she'd been Arry, a fierce, tiny wolf who could spit and chew him out if she wanted to.

He still couldn't believe what was happening, he's still waiting for the day when she tires of him, and for her to reject him just like he's always expected her to do, like she's supposed to do.

That would make everything right it again, put everything back it's proper place, its rightful place. He doesn't fit in her world, he has never has.

But he can't understand why something that feels so right is considered so wrong.

There are many things he has regretted in his life, thousands of regrets, things he covers up by pounding on swords and bitterness.

But he would never regret her. He could never regret her.

Not a single moment.

Sometimes he thinks he hates her, hates her for taking his heart, hates her for making him dismiss everything he's ever been taught, hates her for making him love her, love her all the while knowing there's no place for him in her life.

He was once told that the opposite of love wasn't hate, and that love and hate were co-existent, and he'd taught it sounded stupid.

He was wrong; he was always wrong.

He'd seen horrors most of his life, and he'd always thought the gods were malicious and cruel. But he never thought it more than now. The old gods, the Seven, the drowned god, the Lord of Light, all of them. Why have him fall in love with the one person he could never truly have?

Sometimes he manages to forget, but it never lasts long.

A sneer from the high lords when they see him with her reminds him.

A jeer from the stable boy who claps him on the back and congratulates him for fucking a princess reminds him.

The constant talk of how Arya has ruined herself by being with a bastard blacksmith reminds him.

The worst is when he hears people whispering about how he is a selfish bastard that has destroyed her life.

It becomes unbearable for him, and one day he finds himself walking to Jon's court.

He kneels before him; unable to look into his eyes after his relationship with Arya has been the talk of Winterfell for so long.

But when Jon commands him to stand, he finds understanding and sympathy etched on the lines of his face. Jon's voice is weary when he asks what he can do for him.

'M'lord, I've come to ask you to allow me to serve the king.'

Jon raises his eyebrows at that, clearly not expecting that. 'Shouldn't you be asking this of Aegon himself?'

'You're his hand, he trusts you. His kingsgaurd hasn't been decided yet. I understand I'm not worthy enough of this; I'm just a bastard blacksmith. But I can wield a sword as well as a hammer, I'm a better fighter now. I could serve him well. And I'm loyal, you know I would never betray my vows. The last Targaryen that sat on the throne was betrayed by a member of his own guard. I would never.'

Jon studied him for a while before he finally stood up, and walked towards him. 'You would leave her? Again?' he asked, an edge of anger in his voice.

He recoiled at that, dug his fingers into his thighs, before gulping and saying, 'I just want to do what is right, m'lord.'

He goes to the back to the smithy after Jon dismisses him while promising him he'll consider his request.

She's furious of course.

She storms into the forge a few hours later, slams him into the wall, and presses her blade so hard to his neck that a thin streak of red blood flows from his old scar and blossoms over his skin.

She seems to be particularly fond of holding a knife to his throat.

'Why are you always so stupid?' she hisses, her voice full of venom and hate.

He opens his mouth to apologize, but she cuts him off, her grip loosening on the handle of her dagger, before he hears it clatter to the ground. She grabs his face and kisses him so hard that it bruises and she once again leaves three red lines down the left side of his face. It takes every ounce of control he has, but he wrenches his lips away from her, stubborn in his decision to not let her break him.

She reaches down and grabs her knife before he can even blink, poking him in his stomach.

Her voice is devoid of emotion when she says, 'I talked to Jon; you're not going anywhere. You can walk out of these gates if you want, why should I care? You are nothing to me. But you will not continue on with this stupid idea. You willcontinue doing what you love, smithing in case you have forgotten. You willlive your life without stupid oaths and stupid vows. And one day, you will meet a stupid girl and you will have stupid sons with stupid coal black hair and stupid blue eyes.'

Her knife pushes deeper against his skin, cutting through his shirt, but she doesn't draw blood. She gives him one more piercing glare before she whirls around and walks out without a second glance at him.

He doesn't talk to her for days after that.

Jon comes to him to apologize for rejecting him. Gendry tries to not show his bitterness but he fails miserably.

'I cannot deny her. She may not be my sister anymore, but the Stark blood still flows through both of us. I would do anything she asked of me, you must understand that.'

He says nothing, doesn't trust himself to say anything, his anger causing his hands to curl up into fists. Punching the king's brother may not be the smartest idea.

'You are implicitly hers, as she is yours. I will not take that away cause you think you're not worthy.'


Her eyes don't soften and she doesn't smile when he offers her crushed blueberries held in the palm of his hand, his peace offering.

But she accepts them, her eyes boring into his.

He stares back into her eyes and thinks to himself that he doesn't want any sons with black hair and blue eyes.

It's daughters he wants, fierce wolverines with grey eyes and wild hair.


He knows many things about her, sometimes more than he knows about himself.

They have an understanding of how they work with one another, have agreed on this many years ago. And he likes to think their bond has only gotten stronger.

So when she asks him why he refuses to be legitimized, her mouth full of bread, he knows she's not questioning him in order to insult and mock him.

He opens his eyes, props himself up on his elbows to get a closer look at her. 'Would you like me to get legitimized?'

She spits her food out on him, covering him with pieces of saliva and half chewed bread, before she proceeds to punch him in the forearm.

'You stop that. It's just that you're always so angry about being born a bastard, ours is the fury indeed. There are so many more things to be angry about. And you can actually do something about this. You hate being a bastard? Then stop being one.'

He can't help but snort obnoxiously at that. Arya always manages to simplify everything. 'Somehow I doubt the king would be willingly to legitimatize the Usurper's bastard,' he states bitterly.

'Jon could convince him. I can talk to him if you'd like me to,' she rips another huge piece from her loaf of bread.

He sits up. He's still angry with her for forbidding Jon to let him go to King's landing. And she's still angry as well, acting as if she was the injured party here, and managing to actually make him feel guilty. Her head tilts to look up at him from the ground, and from that angle she looks like she's scrutinizing him, gauging him, and that makes him angry as well.

He stares her down, his gaze unflinching, and unwavering. 'I'd really rather you didn't discuss me with Jon again.'

His voice has a dark tone to it, but she doesn't flinch. However after a while she looks away, curling up on herself and facing away from him. And once again he feels incredibly guilt-ridden, even though he was done nothing wrong, and he ends up muttering an apology, and it's makes him so angry that she's managed to wrench another apology out of him.

She ignores him; she was never one to care about apologies.

He stretches his hand, manages to find hers and grasp it. 'Would you like to me get legitimatized?' he repeats, this time he's serious.

She turns around then, sits up and leans her head against the crook of his shoulder. It feels like hours before she finally answers, and he doesn't realized he's been holding his breath this whole time before she breathes into neck, 'no, I think I'd prefer Gendry Waters, even if he is a stupid bull all the time.'

And he thinks they're fine now, as fine as they could ever be, until she rouses him in the middle of the night wearing her breeches, with her hair in a braid, and Needle at her hip.

'I want you to make me a new sword.'

He shakes his head and blinks a few times before he realizes what she's asking of him.

'What's the matter Arya?'

'I have to leave for a while. I plan on going to King's Landing with Jon tomorrow, and when I get back I want a new sword ready for me.' She smirks at him and says, 'I've been told you're an excellent blacksmith.'

I have to leave for a while.

Fear grips his whole body, and all his nightmares are replaying over and over in his mind.

Nightmares he's been living with since the day she had galloped away from him and been captured by the hound.

He sees her broken body on the floor, twitching and shaking, her blood pouring all over the hard ground.

He hears her yelling, screaming, sobbing, with no way to comfort her.

He smells the blood, the sick stench of it clouding his senses.

He feels the wound on her chest, the blood staining his hands red and leaving their imprints upon them no matter how many times he washes.

He watches as the light leaves her eyes, as her body stops twitching, as her mouth relaxes.

He imagines himself holding her still hand, kissing her forehead, brushing the tangles in her hair.

'I'll come with you,' the words fall out of his mouth, pleading and begging, even though he knows her answer.

'No,' her voice is harsh, and she turns away from him, the profile of her face hard and set in determination.

'Arya, please,' his can hear the tremor in his voice, the fear, the pain, the agony.

He can hear it, and so can she.

She glances at him, and he knows she won't change her mind, always such a stubborn wolf. And he's never felt more helpless than he does at the moment. And she realizes this, understanding his terror, understanding him, just as he understands her.

She leans in front of him, her rough fingers grazing his cheekbones, and she whispers, 'I have a list Gendry, I need to finish it.'

He knows about her list, listened to her mumble it into the night when she was just a small child, and he has heard her repeat her final name over and over again the past few moons. It never fails to shatter him completely. He had never been able to quell the hate and vengeance she lived with, and he'd never felt more like a failure.

He wanted to save her, just like she saved him, and he had, but never in the way that mattered.

'I'll come back.' She leans her forehead against, her long eyelashes getting stuck to his, 'I promise I'll come back to you.'

And then she's gone.

As quick as a snake.

Leaving him cold and terrified.

He feels something akin to pity for her final victim.

The prisoner of King Aegon VI was about to learn that lions weren't the only ones with claws.

Wolves had claws as well, and in Arya's case, they were longer and sharper.


It was a moon later when a raven came bearing the news of the extinction of House Lannister.

He had been polishing her finished sword when it had come.

It was said that the Kingslayer had gone mad, breaking out of his chains, and running a stolen sword through his sister's chest, before running it through his own.

A fortnight later, she climbs into his cot, wearing her soiled clothes, covered in blood and dirt, clutching his shoulders, shivering and shaking in his arms.

There were new scars on her body.

He tried to memorize them once.

He had failed.


He never understood why people worshipped the gods, praying to them and asking for guidance and comfort in the hardest of times.

It never made any sense to him, when the gods themselves were the cause of everything cruel that had ever happened, and everything cruel that would ever happen.

Love had always been their cruelest joke.

They had always been so careful. Her and her moon teas; him refusing to spill inside of her after their first time.

But sometimes, in their haze of desire and want, they'd forget. They had forgotten themselves, forgotten who they were, forgotten where they lived, and they had forgotten the high costs that were paid for mistakes.

They'd gotten comfortable with each other, far more comfortable than they had been with anyone else, and rather than give them peace, it had been the cause of their greatest downfall.

He had always cursed his father, the 'brave' stag, cursed all men for siring bastards without realizing the damage they were causing an unborn child. Cursed them for not being able to keep their cocks in their pants, and ignoring the life their bastard would go through for just a few moments of pleasure.

But when she came to him, in the cold of the night, her eyes detached and having the same lifeless expression she'd had worn when she'd first come back, an expression that had been absent for a while, and simply and calmly told him she hadn't bleed in two moons, he realized he truly was his father's son after all.

A selfish bastard with blue eyes and black hair.

He had said nothing, just grabbed his hammer and went to the edge of the godswood, pounding with all his might against a weirwood, laughing madly when the face carved into the tree became deformed and ruined.

She had followed him, hadn't flinched once when his hammer swung down and destroyed the trees of her father.

She just watched him, her eyes glinting in the moonlight, watched as he exhausted himself and crumpled on the ground.

She stood over him, and watched him breathe loudly, pant, curse, and sob apologies.

And with each of his apologies, her face would break down more and more, until she was quietly sobbing along with him.

'Wha-' she gulped before she attempted to talk again. 'What should we do?' she asked him, her voice so quiet that he had to strain his ears to hear.

He said nothing.

He didn't know what to say.

The first lights of dawn broke through the branches before she finally walked away from him.

He didn't see her anymore that day, or the next, or the next, or the next, didn't see the queen either.

He paced outside the castle; ignoring the suspicious looks the guards gave him, ignoring the whispers following him, ignoring everyone and everything.

He didn't give a damn about any of these men; he just needed to see Arya.

She came out eventually, without her sister.

It was Gendry she wanted with her, not Sansa.

He didn't see her, hear her, feel her, until she was standing right in front of him, and looking up into his eyes.

Her eyes were full of sorrow and pain and unspoken regrets, and he looked away before she placed her free palm on his cheek and gently brought his face back towards her.

He closed his eyes, willing his tears away; before he finally looked down at the wineskin she held in her other hand.

He knew it wasn't wine.

Of course he knew.

Just as he had known what was going to happen when she'd told him she was with child.

There really hadn't been any other option.

Arya had never wanted children, especially after she'd seen the terrors of the world they lived in, had refused to bring an innocent child into such a dangerous place, a place full of bloodshed and treachery and pain.

And Arya Stark, princess of Winterfell, sister to the Queen of the North, cousin to the Hand of the King, a former member of the Faceless Men, with more blood on her hands than most, having a bastard child with him, the bastard son of the Usurper, the Usurper that had exiled the Targaryens and ordered the murder of the princess of Dorne and her children, was as dangerous as it could get.

There really hadn't been any other option.

It took all the courage he had ever possessed to reach down and grasp her hand, guiding her away from the castle and towards the small pool of the godswood.

He'd like to think this was their place, a tainted place now.

He refused to show any emotion, he couldn't, he shouldn't.

He refused to make this any harder on her than he already knew it was.

So he simply held her.

He held her when she sat down at the edge of the pool, her back to his front, leaning against him, her arms curled around his, reminiscent of the last time they sat here.

He held her when she played with wineskin, trembling and quivering in his arms

He held her when she drank the whole contents of the wineskin in one gulp, gasping at the bitter taste.

He held her when she twisted and turned and winced in pain and agony; he hadn't realized this would physically hurt her, although he should have known cleansing would cause anguish.

He held her when repeatedly told him she was sorry, when she repeatedly told him it wasn't his fault, when she repeatedly told him she never cared about their classes; he believed her, for once he believed her, but in the end it hadn't mattered.

He held her when she bled, watched the blood pool out from underneath her, staining their clothes, and seeping in all directions on the ground. It was red, bright red, and it stank, just like she had once said it would.

He held her when she sobbed and screamed, clawed at the blood on her thighs, and struggled in his arms.

He held her when she finally calmed down, breathing heavily and hiccupping, when she rested her temple in the crook of his shoulders and closed her eyes, the tears still seeping out from underneath her eyelashes.

He held her, keeping out all his emotions, refusing to allow himself to feel.

But when she whispered 'I love you,' into his neck, her voice sure and clear and with not one hint of doubt in it, his heart finally shattered.

And he allowed himself to grieve then, grieve for her, grieve for himself, grieve for their unborn child, grieve for their love that couldn't ever be, felt the sorrow and pain rush through his veins, felt the numbness taking over his body, felt the hot tears fall down his face and onto hers, felt the ache in his chest grow until there was nothing of him left.

He held her until the morrow came, and then gently stood up with her cradled in his arms.

He walked back to the castle, pushed away all the guards that stared wide-eyed at the blood on them, took her to her chambers, and laid her on her featherbed, handing her over to Sansa.

He pressed a kiss onto her forehead, breathed her scent in, and traced her face.

She was asleep, her face still splattered in blood and tears, her back still tense but her face was as relaxed as it could be. She looked tiny, she always looked tiny, but she hadn't been a child for such a long time.

He closed his eyes, let himself forget what had just transpired, remembered the times when he had been happy, when she had been happy, pretended that she was just Arya, and he was just Gendry.

But she wasn't just Arya, and he wasn't just Gendry, and they had paid the price of forgetting that, and he could never let that happen again.

He forced himself, his heart hammering and his muscles tensing, to let go of her and leave.

And he did leave, left with the queen's eyes boring into his back, and Arya slow breathing following him.

He walked towards the bustle of activity, towards the carts and horses, towards the recruits of mismatched men, and straight towards Benjen Stark.

The man said nothing, just looked at his broken face, his blood-splattered clothes, and white knuckles.

'Are you sure?'

He didn't trust himself to speak, not yet, so he simply nodded.


His mother used to sing about gallant knights, maidens with flowers in their hair, ferocious direwolves, summers that lasted decades, and everlasting love.

But his mother never sang about a bastard bull and a highborn wolf.

There were no songs about the likes of them.

There never would be.


A/N: Hi, my name is Raha and I'm a review whore. Please don't disappoint me.