I do not own Game of Thrones or any of the characters! No shit, Sherlock.

The old Lion purred. It had been many years since someone had piqued his interest like this. And how strange that it should be this one—a wild little noblewoman posing as a commoner, hair cut short like a stableboy, face dirty from sleeping on the ground, clothes cut ragged from a burlap sack. A northerner, no less. Those cold, hard people rarely held such a fire. But this one: she was no northern lady, ice in their eyes and snow in their words. She was hot as a furnace and sharp as a needle. While other women cavorted around, intrigue up their sleeves and paint on their faces, useless as smoke, Arya had been learning about dragons and battles of old.

From Maidenpor, she said. But he was not so sure. It endeared her to him when she lied to cover her own tracks. She was clever-more so than most of the men on his war council. And she knew how to watch her back around such men. Those sluggish, illiterate imbeciles had no place at his table. How was he supposed to win a war with men like that at his side? There was a place for a girl like Arya at his table. Maybe even at his side in battle. Perhaps his bones were too old to charge onto the frontlines on horseback anymore, but every knight needs a squire, if only to hold his scabbard. And Tywin wasn't dead yet. There was still the War of the Five Kings to win.

His Lannister voice of reason told him not to trust her. He had seen the way she wielded that carving knife, how her ears perked up when he talked of battle plans. "Anyone can be killed," she said, her eyes boldly meeting his like a challenge. As if she were silently swearing to kill him herself one day. But that challenge suited him. The loyalty of a girl like Arya was a rare and beautiful thing, and he planned to hunt it down and carry it home in his lion-jaws, a feast worth fighting for.

It wasn't just his legacy he worried about these days. He worried about what she saw through her fiery eyes when she looked at him. An old, worn-out warrior with nothing left to live for? It shuddered him to think of it. He wished she could have seen him at his best: Before the gold. Before becoming the Mad King's Hand. Before his wife and children. Back when his father sullied the Lannister name and Tywin fought to reclaim it. Back when there was blood on his sword and a roar in his throat. These days, his throat was hoarse and his sword stayed clean. An old lion is still a lion though, and a glance from Lord Tywin was enough to silence the biggest braggarts. Not enough to silence this defiant little girl though, as he was finding out.

He often made her eat with him these days. The company of most anyone else made him lose his appetite. He enjoyed toying with her, testing her, and she always proved a fair opponent for one so young. In time, she would surely best him. In wit, but perhaps also in battle. It was easy to tell from how she carried herself and brandished that knife that she had had training in the steel arts. Maybe that was why she was able to hold his gaze for longer than most grown men and why she rarely ever blushed. He had a hard time suppressing a smile every time she scurried off to the kitchens after their meals together.

Earlier that day, Tywin had asked her where she learned swordplay, and the clever little wench had danced around the question, quick on her feet as always. He caught the girl in her lie, however, when he tossed her a cold, thin log from the hearth of Harrenhal and she spun around to catch it one-handed, stance imperfect, but strong. No one was that natural. If only he were a bit younger...