When Arya walked through the door, the first thing she saw, was Needle.
Or, Needle's twin.
There was a few things that were different, but it was almost identical.
The second thing she noticed was that the young man that stood at the back of the forge was Gendry Waters.
She hadn't seen him in 4 years, which meant he was about 20.
He looked up from the sword in his hand and hammer in his hands. His blue eyes confirmed it. It was Gendry.
"You need something?" he asked as he set down his tools and walked towards her.
She had one of her many faces on, so Gendry was looking at an olive skinned red head, with too many freckles. He wouldn't recognize her in a million years.
Yet she still felt a shock of anxiety as he walked closer to her.
Perhaps it was just the shock of running into him. Now. After all these years.
She pulled her sword out and handed it to him.
"I need it sharpened."
Gendry inspected it, gazing up at her occasionally.
"It's a good sword."
"I didn't steal it, if that's what you're implying." Arya said as she turned away from him and walked up to Needle's twin.
Gendry exhaled and walked to the back at the room. It might have been a laugh, but Arya wasn't sure.
Arya fought the itch to reach out and grab the small, thin sword in front of her. "This is fine work." she called out over her shoulder.
"It's not for sale." Gendry said sourly, as he began to work on her sword.
Arya spun around to face him. "I'll offer you twice it's worth."
"It's not for sale." he repeated, never looking up.
Anger rose inside of her. Still as stubborn as ever.
Perhaps more, she thought.
She walked closer to him, feeling the thick heat of the forge stronger on this side of the room.
"Don't be stupid! Didn't you hear. I'm ready to give you whatever you ask for it. Times are tough. I'm sure you could use..."
"Didn't you hear? It's not for sale!" he cut her off.
Stupid bull headed boy!
Man-boy. Men his age should have more sense.
Arya rolled her eyes at him and walked towards the cooler part of the room.
After a few minutes, Gendry joined her, with her sword.
"Service is on the house." he said, handing her the sword. "You should leave."
"I don't need your charity." she said pulling her coin bag free of her belt.
"Whatever you leave is going straight into the fire. I suggest you hand it to some orphan instead."
Arya wanted to scream! She could hit him. She could punch him unconscious!
She sighed sharply, and instead, she opened her coin bag and took out several coppers. More than his service's worth, and slammed them on the table, before she turned and walked out the door.
It was the dead of night when she returned to Gendry's forge. There was no moon out, which she was thankful for, so she snuck into the village easily.
She had eyed a window when she was inside earlier, which thankfully was on the other side of the room from where she'd spotted Gendry's bed.
Arya recalled he had always been a very heavy sleeper, and she leaned on that alone as she jumped in through the window.
The room was pitch black, and with no moon light coming from outside, she stood still until her eyes adjusted to the darkness.
Even so, she had to feel her way quietly across the room. Towards Needle's twin.
Quiet as a shadow.
Swift as a deer.
Quick as a snake.
She was almost there. Just a few feet away.
She wasn't stealing it. Not really. In it's place she would leave a decently heavy coin bag, which she hoped Gendry wouldn't be too proud to use.
Suddenly, she felt a hand around her arm spin her and pin her to a wall. A cold blade came under her throat.
"How come i knew you'd come and try to take the sword." he whispered, digging the dagger deeper against her skin.
"Perhaps you're not as stupid as you look." Arya said as she pressed her own dagger deeper against his side. His tight grasp on her loosened as soon as he felt it. He laughed, his hot breath fanning against her face.
"You haven't changed one bit... Arya."
There was a clatter behind them as her dagger slipped from her hand.
She shoved him away from her. She shook her head in disbelief.
"I don't know what you mean." she finally managed to whisper.
"Do you really think I'm stupid. You don't fool me Arya Stark. You never have."
"But... my face." she stuttered stupidly.
"Your face may not be yours. Your hair may be red. But you still walk the same, and act them same. Your eyes are still yours."
Arya suddenly felt like crying and she had no idea why. She pushed the tears back, but there was still a knot in her chest.
After so many years. After so many faces. After everything she had done. She had felt so far from home. So far from the person she was. She had been faceless, and nameless. She had been no one. She had even, finally, given up Needle. Slowly, the wolf dreams had stopped.
She had strayed so far from Arya Stark, that she thought she could never go back. She no longer had a right to.
But standing here, in front of an old, forgotten friend, It all came crashing down on her, like too much water.
And she was drowning.
"Gendry." she said his name. Then she began to laugh.
"Arya." he whispered, and she could hear the smile in his face.
She smiled at the sound of her name, although she doubted he could see in the dark. She couldn't even remember the last time anyone had spoken her name.
She couldn't remember when she had stopped calling herself Arya in her head.
"It's been so long." he said.
"It has." she whispered.
Gendry began walking through the darkness, going up to a chest and pulling something out. He suddendly appeared in front of her, with Needle's twin.
He felt for her hands, before putting the hilt in them.
"I thought it wasn't for sale."
"It's not. But it is yours. I made for you. After he took you. I didn't remember your Needle too well, but.."
"It's perfect." she said, and she surprised herself when she hugged him.
"Thank you Gendry." she whispered.
At first, he just stood there, his hands on her waist. But then he wrapped his arms around her, and he hugged her tightly.
And it felt good.
She had forgotten how good it felt to be hugged. She had forgotten everything, but it was all coming back to her now.
"We searched for days." he whispered against her ear, making her shiver.
His hugged tightened even more at the memory.
After what felt like minutes, he pulled away.
"Where are you staying tonight?"
"The forrest. Like always."
"You'll stay here tonight. Have something to eat in the morning, then you can be on your way again."
"You don't have to."
"Can't you ever do anything with out arguing?" he asked her as he headed towards the back of the room, to where his bed was at.
She laughed and followed.
He offered her a long sleeping shirt which she changed into in a corner, before slipping under the covers with him.
She had slept next to Gendry many nights years ago. But this was different. There was an awkwardness about it. Perhaps because they were older now, or because they had gone so long with out seeing each other.
The fact that the bed was so small wasn't too helpful, since it forced them to lie close.
She was thankful though. And for the first time in years, she gave herself into sleep feeling completely safe.