This is a gift for Evie (who, on Tumblr, is currently peterpannss, but who knows how long that'll last) and was supposed to be for her birthday on December 3 but is now a belated Christmas/New Year's present. Happy Birthday/Christmas/New Year's! Sorry it took so long; it just did not want to write itself.

I'd also like to say that I'm not quite sure about this for everything from the cut down.

The teenaged boy working at the forge lightly swung a hand in her general direction, having no intention of hitting her, but trying to swat her away as if she were nothing more than an annoying fly. "Can't you see I'm busy?"

Arya Stark easily dodged his swinging arm and crossed her own. "My father is Ned Stark, Lord of Winterfell, and soon he'll be the King's Hand. I didn't want to do this, but I demand you teach me." She hated talking like that, like she was better than them. Like Sansa.

Suddenly the boy seemed uneasy and almost afraid. "O-of course, miss, I-I didn't know that was you, m'lady, forgive me, m'lady…"

Arya scowled. "Do not call me m'lady! Just teach me how to fight."

Resigning to his fate, the boy set down his tools and reached for his practice sword. He automatically grabbed one for her as well, before noticing out of the corner of his eye that she had unsheathed her own. A thin little thing, that.

"Name's Gendry," he said.

"Arya." She was already in position, ready to fight at a second's notice.

"You know, there are better swordsmen in King's Landing than me, m'lady." She shot him a glare that would scare the living daylights out of the most hardened sellsword.

"But I found you." He swung the sword and she parried the blow at the last moment, having been caught slightly off-guard.

The corner of Gendry's lip raised. "Weren't paying attention, were you?"

"I was too," Arya lied, thrusting her sword, Needle, at him. As they dueled, after a while Gendry seemed to be fighting sort of half-heartedly, like he was lost in thought. And every so often he would smirk or snicker, and each time it infuriated Arya to no end, knowing he was laughing at her.

"Stop going easy on me. I can take it," Arya complained.

"You're putting all your effort into this, m'lady. If I didn't go easy on you you'd keel over dead from exhaustion." She clenched her teeth and steadfastly refused to acknowledge the fact by responding. He smirked at her cockily, knowing he had won the verbal battle for now, which only served in making her angrier than before. She thrust her sword forward with every ounce of strength she had; it didn't knock the sword out of his hand, as she'd foolishly hoped, but it did knock it sideways a bit. Furious, she stormed away.

The next day, she was back again.

"Come on, Gendry, let's go!" She stood in the stance she'd learned from Syrio and gently poked him with the tip of her sword.

"I'm kind of busy," Gendry told her, but when she tried again, he was sparked with the idea of telling her "My master's coming, he won't like you being here." When he turned, she was gone, chasing after a tabby cat that had just gone by.

She returned the next day, and the next, and the next, and each day he came up with an excuse to get rid of her. Finally on the fourth day, when he had nothing, he set down his hammer, wiping sweat of his brow before turning to her.

"I do have better things to be doing, you know," he said. "I can't just be playing with you all the time. I got work."

Fire roared up in Arya's eyes. "It's not playing!" she cried, indignant. "It's real fighting! I learned from a swordmaster."

"That's nice. I don't care who you played with, it's not real fighting."

"Syrio is a real water dancer—I mean, a swordmaster," she insisted, catching herself at the last moment. Gendry's eyebrows shot up and he smirked.

"A water dancer. I got it now. Dance lessons!"


"You said it yourself, m'lady," he pointed out, laughing.

"That doesn't mean anything."

"If you've got your dancing master, what'dya need me for?"

"I don't need you," she retorted back, at a loss for words in the heat of her rage. "You're just stupid." And stubborn and bullheaded too. How did this boy, this stupid, stubborn bastard boy, manage to make her so angry?

She placed both hands firmly on his chest and shoved. He tripped and fell, and then she kicked him before stomping off once more.

When a fortnight passed and she hadn't yet returned, Gendry began to worry. Which was stupid, he told himself; she was just a pain in the ass, nothing more. Hell, he could barely stand her, and lord's daughter or not, she was only an irritating little girl who distracted him from his work.

Even so, a part of him had enjoyed play-fighting with her. It was more fun than he'd had in years—since he became an apprentice.

Later that day he took a trip to the castle where the king and queen and the Hand lived…and stood, staring at it, kicking himself for doing something so moronic. What had he been thinking? They'd never let the likes of him in. Then he heard a voice behind him.


He breathed a sigh of relief and turned to see Arya standing there, clutching a black cat purring so loud he could hear it three feet away.

"What're you doing here?" she asked, wrinkling her nose in confusion.

"I, uh—" Words abandoned him and then he finished as lamely as he'd started, blurting out, "Want to swordfight?"

Arya's face lit up and she bent down to let the cat go. It jumped out of her arms with a mewl. Almost instantly she had unsheathed Needle, and they both noticed at the same time that he had forgotten a sword of his own. "Come on to the armory," she said, "we'll find you a good one. And you can keep it too, most like."

She took his hand and dragged him along, despite his protests about having a sword made for noblety, around to the other side of the castle and into the armory. When they had him fitted with a sword (they'd walked in and she'd announced "My friend Gendry here needs a sword, you got one?"), they got into their now-familiar stances and began.

"You missed me," she said.

"Did not."

"Yes you did. You came looking for me."

He knocked her sword out of her hand, winning the battle, and while she stood shell-shocked, he grinned. "You said I could keep this, then?"