They had been sailing for a week now, back across the narrow sea was called the Lady Bright. It seemed strange, she remembered when she was Cat and would visit the captain and their crew to find things out. But she did not speak to them with recognition because that was not her. That was Cat of the Canals; she was Arya Stark of Winterfell.
She often walked aboard the decks alone. Edric seemed more wary of her, since she told him who she really was. But he still felt it was his duty to the Seven Kingdoms to return her to safety. That was stupid, for three reasons.
First, she didn't need an escort home, she made it half way across Westeros pretty much by herself and then across the narrow sea with nothing but an iron penny and a Needle to protect her. She, a lone wolf, could survive on her own no matter what her father once said. Fierce as a wolverine, fear cuts deeper than swords.
Then there was Edric. He was probably only doing it in hopes of getting a knighthood. There was no one lower class than a bastard, even if he was knighted; he would be nothing more than a hedge knight. She knew better to think that he could be a part of a new pack. She was not naive like she was the last time with Hot Pie and Gendry.
Then there was the fact that they were not even going to the White Harbour, the closest port to her home. No. They were planning on going to Kings Landing of all places! She felt like it was the Brotherhood all over again. She would never get where she wanted to go. It was tempting just to find a ship travelling to the North and go back to where she belonged.
Yet she went willingly, what was there in the North now the majority of her family was dead? Sansa would be in King's Landing. She and Sansa had been like summer and winter, like night and day. But they were two sides of the same coin, and though she never realised it, she missed her dearly, she hadn't seen her since her father's head had been cut off, and the rage she once felt had died inside her when her mother and brother were murdered. And she craved to see a face that was not cautious of her, a face that was not afraid to talk bluntly to her.
Plus, there were names on a list that needed crossing out.
His protectors even seemed cautious with Arya, since she heard of her impersonator, she realised they would be suspicious if she was true to her word. They obviously didn't trust her. But the old man, the one who was there the night she re-discovered herself he was. He was Omer Blackberry. When Edric first took her back to meet his men, he was the only one who treated her kindly, forever claiming how much she reminded him Lyanna. Which Arya thought was stupid as he'd never met her.
"How did you know her?" Arya asked him once.
"Alas, I did not know her, but I was there at the tourney of Harrenhall, she was as beautiful as the winter roses the silver prince crowned her with."
She scowled at that, and stormed off in a temper, she did not want to hear of that awful "silver prince". He raped her aunt and caused a war in which her grandfather, aunt and uncle died.
"What do you want?" Nothing slipped her sharp hearing, Edric walked up next to her, gazing out on the angry sea from the decks of Lady Bright.
"Do you ever wonder what she was like? Lyanna, I mean. They said my father never loved anyone but her." Edric asked her quite awkwardly.
Arya sighed. "People say she was like me. But I wouldn't let some stupid dragon take me and rape me. I can fight for myself as I've always done, as she never could."
That's when Edric looked at her oddly, like he pitied her.
"I've killed people before. I've been trained to kill people. That's why I was at the House of Black and White. Or are you too stupid to put one and two together?" She snapped. No one had looked at her with pity since she left the Seven Kingdoms. That was just something she was going to have to get used to again.
"No, of course. I don't doubt you, my lady. It's just... you've been through so much, but you're so resilient. When you get back... They'll make you wed, now you're old enough. It will tire you out; they won't let you wear breaches and that sword anymore."
Arya looked down on the grey breeches and the dirty white tunic she bought before they left Braavos. Andrew Estermont, Edric's guardian, wanted to have a 'lovely' grey silken gown fitted for a true daughter of Winterfell. A gown to show off her newly formed curves. But Arya refused, her sister would recognise her in breeches as most of the time they spent together, that's what she wore. And she didn't want to make a big upheaval over her return.
"They'll make you forget all that you are." Edric pestered her.
I've forgotten too much already... "Just let them try. I'll introduce them to needle. And don't call me 'my lady'" She muttered.
She tried not to show it, becoming Arya meant it was harder to wear masks. I promised I wouldn't forget. She felt like a helpless child again, she knew he was right. They wouldn't let her go home. Just don't think about that, you need to focus on what's important.
"How did you leave? You never told us. I mean at the House of Black and White, how did you leave its employment?"
"Ah," was all she said.
She remembered that day. It was after Edric found here by the canal. They arranged to meet at dusk at Ragman's Harbor. All that was left for her to do was inform the kindly man that she would no longer be serving the god of many faces.
The kindly man had greeted her on her return and asked what he always asked "What news have you learnt?"
She kept her face composed; even now she could control her features as to not give anything away to even the kindly man.
"A fleet of ships travelling through the Smoking Sea, the closest as anyone has ever known to Valaryia that has ever been attempted. A Dragon finally sits the iron throne in the west, with a wolf by his side..."
"What else, child?" the kindly man pressed.
She took a minute to find the words. "Arya Stark has returned to Braavos. And soon she will depart for Westeros." She thought back to the time she told him Arya had killed that Black Brother, and wondered if he'd let her leave. She'd kill him if she had to.
"Understand this, Arya of House Stark. The House of Black and White is not a mere place to simply seek refuge. Once you leave, you may never return." He said in a strangely peaceful tone.
"That is a risk I am willing to take. I thank you for your hospitality. I will not forget what I have learnt."
"Then may the god of many faces be merciful to you when you come to your doom. Leave now."
Those last words still haunted her queerly but she shook away the feeling of foreboding ends.
Arya turned back to Edric and smiled, "let's just say they let me go without a fight" hoping he wouldn't ask more of her.
That's what she liked about Edric, he hardly ever questioned her, and when he did it was simple curiosity. And he never judged her for wearing mans clothed or acting unladylike. If he was a bit more energetic, he had potential to be almost a friend. Don't get close, like he said. They'll take that away from you.
"Not long now my- Arya. Only two more days till we reach Westeros, then you can be with your family again."
Arya thought back to Gendry and Hot Pie and the Brotherhood, and suddenly wondered if she would even make it back, if going back was even such a good idea. May the god of many faces be merciful, indeed.
Hello, sorry this weeks update is so late, I've been really busy with exams and stuff i haven't found the time to write or publish any more, hence, updates may not be as regular as they were at the start.
Again, thanks to everyone who has posted reviews and followed this story, it really means a lot to me!