Gendry rolled over on the mattress, his hand searched the empty spot next to his. His eyes opened.
He sat up in a flash and looked around the room.
Arya was gone.
His eyes scanned the room for any sign of last night, but he found none.
Had it all been a dream?
He rubbed his eyes and crawled to the the edge of the bed.
There was nothing in the room that confirmed she had really been here.
Maybe he needed closure so much that he saw her in anyone that had even the slightest resemblance in appearance or character to Arya.
After all those years, he still needed to know she was alive. Dead. Whatever, just as long as he knew what she was.
He stood, angered, telling himseld he needed to forget the girl.
He was on his way out to the privy, when he saw it. The coin bag resting on his anvil.
At that moment he wasn't sure which he preferred.
Arya being a dream, or Arya being real and gone. Gone without a goodbye.
Gone with Needle's twin.
He walked up to the anvil. The bag looked full and heavy. No doubt more than the sword was worth.
He grabbed it, tightening his fist around it, ready to throw it against the wall.
"Arya!" he grunted through clenched teeth.
Gendry spun around.
At the door, stood Arya, with two young conies in her hand.
Not the freckly red head from the day before. But the one he had met all those years ago. The one he had travelled with. The one he had lost.
She was taller now, and her figure betrayed her age.
She had lost some of the roundness on her face, and her hair was a long tangled mess.
But her eyes were the same. Her face still held that animation he had always found intriguing.
He realized he was just standing there, lips slightly parted. Looking like an idiot no doubt, so he cleared his throat and gave her his back, setting the bag down on the anvil.
"I went to find breakfast." she said as she set the small animals on the table at the front of the room.
"Oh. Thanks. I usually have breakfast with Lady Freya, at the Inn across the square."
"Oh . . . So you've settled down here." she said, walking to the door and looking out.
It was a small here. About the size of Acorn Hall, from what she remembered. There was the inn, and Gendry's forge. A few large, rather homely houses, and the stables, which surprisingly had a horses.
"After he took you . . . well, we searched for days. But had to returned when I became ill." Gendry said behind her.
"After that, I grew angry. I was angry at them for promising to protect you and deliver you, and breaking their promises. I was not the same and they could tell. When we crossed paths with an inn kept by a group of orphans, they left me behind. To take care of the children, they told me, but I knew it was a lie. I was simply not useful anymore. Not when I was as angry as I was."
Arya turned slowly to face him. He was closer than she expected, so her face came inches from him.
"I was angry at myself." he whispered down at her.
She had never been this close to Gendry before. Not like this. Not this still for her to appreciate his features.
He was very handsome, and she found herself grow conscious of their proximity. Of his eyes on her.
"Before i met you, my life was normal. I worked for Tobho Mott, and life was easy. But then Yoren came. I thought the Night's Watch would be just as easy."
He paused and took a step back, and Arya let go of a breath she had no idea she had been holding.
"But then I met you, and suddenly the Queen's after me, then Yoren was killed, and we were caught, and I nearly died in Harrenhal. We escaped, got caught again, and my life had never been so complicated before. All because of this little girl. This girl who was braver than anyone I had ever met before. Stubborn, and clever, and reckless..."
Arya blinked down, unsure of where this was leading to.
Gendry stepped towards her, once again inches from her face. He leaned down to look at her eyes.
"When you were gone, life became easy again. Simple. I wasn't running anymore. I wasn't hiding. I was doing what I love." he grabbed her shoulders. "But for some reason, I didn't want that anymore. I was safe, yet something was missing."
He whispered the last and she looked away, biting down on her lip, afraid of what he would say next.
He felt her body tense and immediately he let go of her shoulders, and looked down at the floor. There was a long, awkward silence as they both stood there. Silent.
He had build up to this, yet now he felt deflated, and restless to get out of the room and away from Arya.
"We better get these to Lady Freya." he said and he took the rabbits by their ears and left through the door, and across the small square towards the inn, leaving Arya standing there alone.
"I missed you too Gendry." she whispered to the empty room, before walking out of the forge, towards the inn.
I'm not sure where this is leading yet. But I had this need to add this. There might be a few chapters left, or it might turn into a huge long story. I'm not sure yet. It depends on where Arya and Gendry take me, and if I'll be able to juggle "that Stark girl" and this one, if it were to become a bigger story.