Author's Note: Hey guys. It's me first time writing fanfiction so please go easy one me… and please leave me some comments/suggestions/whatevers so you can help me improve. Thanks!
"Six strokes." Gendry announced, eagerly shaking the three gold dragons he held in one fist. The other clenched his breeches tightly on one knee as he, Lem, Anguy, and Tom craned their necks and cheered on the two armor-clad fighters sparring by the river. They were wearing similar armor and helms—plain, dented, chipped and varying shades of dull silver whilst they fought with blunt tourney swords and faded, battered shields. The onlookers' laughter, the sound of metal clanging against metal, feet shuffling on dirt and rocks, birds chirping and the steady bubbling of the river were the only sounds to be heard throughout the forest. That spot by the river was one the group had claimed for themselves as their favorite haunt.
They were almost of the same height. One fighter was fat, his sides bulging from the sides of the strapped armor he wore, while the other noticeably stick-thin, from the way the armor hung rather loosely from the slim frame—it was armor clearly built for someone of a larger build.
"Eight." Lem called, scratching his broken nose, his eyes never leaving the two.
"One day I should make a song out o' this." Tom said.
Of the two fighters, however, one was clearly winning—it was only a matter of how long it took that the four spectators bet against each other for. The fat one's short and stunted legs buckled and bent now, tired as he was, every time he exchanged blows with his opponent. He blocked the attacks with more difficulty now—with his shield, parried with his sword, but the blows came one after another that soon he was too tired to keep up.
When the thin one fought, from the perspective of an audience, it looked almost as if in an elaborate dance. The fighter moved about relentlessly, striking from all places calm and almost effortlessly—fluid, the opponent unable to do anything other than block and back away closer to the edge of the river.
One, flat end of the swordto the left knee. The fat one lost his balance.
Two, to the left rib area.
Three, this time to the right.
Four, shield to the stomach.
Five, a blow to the side of the head.
And finally six, a clipping sweep underneath until the other fell into the shallow of the river, his arse on the ground, sword pointed down his throat.
"I yield, I yield!" Hot Pie yelled as he threw down his sword and shield to the ground next to him and pulled off his helm, his dark hair plastered with sweat to his forehead and his cheeks bright red as he huffed and puffed, trying to get his breath back.
"Six." Gendry smiled. "I believe you owe me, good sers." Lem, Anguy and Tom all gave disappointed grunts as they placed their coins on the palm of Gendry's open hand. Gendry balled his hand into a fist and cheerfully jangled the coins before he shoved them into his pocket, giving it a loving pat.
"Oh, not again Hot Pie. You don't ever change. Can't you at least put up more of a fight?" Arya said with a laugh as she sheathed her own tourney sword, placed the shield on the rocky ground. She held a gloved hand towards Hot Pie and helped him up on his feet. Then she pulled off her helmet with a grunt, her breath visible in the air as she exhaled in the chilly forest air.
As a child, she had always been called Arya Horseface, but at ten-and-seven, womanhood had been kind to Arya—not that she cared, anyway. Arya did not possess the graceful and elegant beauty the same her older sister Sansa had, but Arya had her own sort of beauty.
She had always had more of the Stark look in her than Tully. Of the five Stark children—excluding her bastard brother Jon Snow—Arya was the only one who inherited the looks of her father Ned Stark. At childhood, she resembled a boy, if anything, but at seventeen Arya had changed considerably. Her face still had the quality of her father's in it, but with softer features like she was almost caught between being handsome and beautiful. Arya's cheeks were always flushed a light pinkish hue which complemented her fair and smooth skin well—even brighter when she was exhausted from a fight. Arya was as stick-thin as she ever was at childhood, but less scrawny—curving gently in all the right places, not as desirable but sufficient. She had her father's notable grey eyes framed in thick lashes. Her lips were normal enough, her teeth somewhat crooked from all the rough handling she'd experienced as a young girl, but it was soon enough forgotten the moment her mouth broke into a smile. Fierce and wild, but pretty all the same—like the she-wolf that she was.
Arya preferred to wear her hair short because she didn't like to brush it too often, and it was least likely to get in the way, but all the same she disliked just as much to always being mistaken for a boy growing up—she had grown it ever since, but not too long. Now her hair grew ways lower than the back of her neck, but not all the way down to the middle of her back. Normally she wore it in a simple braid. Locks of loose hair fell around her face, drenched with sweat from the fighting. She wiped sweat from her brow with the back of her gloved hand.
"M'lady, may I take your helm?" Arya hadn't noticed when he'd gotten there. He took a mocking bow and smiled widely at Arya. Five years older than her, Gendry now stood a head and a half taller than hair so that she had to tilt her head up a little to look him full in the face. Gendry had grown leaner just as he had grown taller. His sleeves stretched with the muscle of his arms—the size of about three of Arya's. His chest was broad, his legs long and strong as his smith's arms and his chin hard-chiseled, with just the faintest hint of dark stubble, as dark as his raven-black hair, the same as when he and Arya first met at King's Landing with Yoren, on their way to the Wall. He deserved the nickname The Bull even more now. Gendry had a nice, manly face. Arya had never noticed all the years she'd known him. Gendry had always been good-looking enough, and growing older had done nothing to change that—if not to enhance it. Half the village and the serving girls all pined after him, but he had always seemed uninterested and indifferent.
No one had ever quite understood it, but Gendry decided he preferred better up in Winterfell even when he was offered a place at King's Landing—again—or wherever he wished, being cleared of his name bastard's name Waters as King Robert's natural son.
He was no longer Gendry Waters, but Gendry Baratheon.
And he was the soon-to-be-heir of Dragonstone, given that King Stannis could sire no children. It wasn't something Gendry ever wanted, but it was his duty. He would bide his time carefully before the time came that he had to shoulder the burdens of a ruler that came with his father's name. Stannis had allowed him to stay in Winterfell, given that he would learn from Robb, and that he would keep his duty in mind
Gendry grew up in King's Landing, he never had any sort of fondness for the place—familiarity, if anything at all. But that was all there was. Gendry had had his share of explorations in parts of the Seven Kingdoms, and he found that Winterfell was to his taste—perhaps not warm enough, but given the work he did, it didn't seem to matter too much. The Young Wolf—King Robb Stark, had welcomed him with open arms. It was what his father Ned Stark would have done, he said. In the three years he had been in Winterfell, Gendry had grown close to the Starks—Robb, Bran, Rickon, and even Jon Snow on his timely visits to Winterfell. Gendry was offered all sorts of titles and places in the council and the garrison, but he denied them all—his true passion, after all, was being a blacksmith. It was certainly a pastime unbefitting someone of his rank and name, but Gendry insisted on it. Gendry focused mostly on his work during his free time away from Robb's side as he learned the ways of a ruler, and as the years passed it seemed fruitful—Gendry's works were well-known throughout the kingdoms for their quality and simplistic beauty. He received commissions all the time, but Gendry always declined if he did not feel like it. It was how he had earned the nickname the Blacksmith Prince. He stayed there along with his friends from the Outlaws—Tom, the court singer, Hot Pie who worked in the kitchens, Anguy and Lem who were serjeants in the Northern garrison.
"I'm not your lady!" Arya grunted, shouldering her way past Gendry and instead of shoving him aside, all she did was hurt herself, even through the loose armor that made her shoulder feel even heavier after the blow. Gendry stood like a leaf had brushed past him. Gendry had always been too big for her. And strong, most of all. Gendry crossed his arms over his chest and laughed hard.
"As m'lady commands." He replied, still laughing, turning his head and following Arya with his eyes as she stomped off to a nearby tree like some defeated child.
She hasn't changed at all, he said to himself. He had always managed to piss her off with the same jibes again and again all the years he had known her. He found the thought amusing. From the day they first met at King's Landing on the way to the Night's Watch, from the day he found she was a girl, when he found out she was Arya Stark of Winterfell and not Arry the Orphan Boy, in the woods to Harrenhal and all sorts of places, and even a few years later, Arya almost a woman grown and him a man, and still she had not changed.
His oldest friend.
Stubborn and wild and brusque and far from lady-like as she was, Gendry loved that the most about Arya.
"Well, come on then, you lot! We've all got work to do!" she barked at them to follow her back.
Still laughing, he turned his head around, following Arya with his eyes as she stomped off and away from the river, intending to go back to the castle grounds.
"Coming, your Highness." He yelled back, watching as Anguy and Hot Pie paced along hurriedly to walk beside her.
"Beautiful, ain't she? And she don't even know it." Tom said, nudging Gendry in the shoulder with his harp. Gendry snorted.
"Manly, you mean. She'd probably end up marrying a bear if she gets lucky." He said with a shrug. Tom and Lem looked at each other with raised eyebrows and a condescending look towards Gendry. Lem thumped him hard on the back of the head and Tom kicked him on the shin. Gendry was too large and strong to be that much hurt, but he was surprised nonetheless.
"Oww. What in seven hells—" he cursed, rubbing the back of his head as the two walked ahead of him without another word.
"For such a smart lad you can be very stupid sometimes, your lordship. Now, come along before that lady of yours gets any more worked up."
"Lady, my arse." He muttered under his breath before jogging off to follow them back to the castle.