AN: Wow so this is the last chapter, you guys. I can't thank you enough for reading. This was my first multi-chapter fic. I never expected to have so many follow this story. It's insane. So thank you, thank you.
"Do you think you should be with Gendry now?"
"No, I think he needs to be with his family."
They arrived in Dragonstone that night. Gendry had shared the news of Edric's demise to his sibling and cousin. Arya's heart still ached when she thinks of his pained face, of his newfound family leaning onto him, of how they held each other tight in an embrace. Little Shireen's body wracking with sobs and Mya's silent tears….
That's how she left them. Arya found herself walking to Sansa's chambers, who came along to Dragonstone, eager to see Bran and Rickon. Her sister was already in bed, on the verge of slumber. Arya crept in beside her.
They used to do this all the time, when they were younger. When there were thunderstorms, which often frightened the both of them, though Arya never admitted as much. When Sansa had a nightmare. When Bran fell from the tower….
"Do you love him?"
Arya smiled to herself. "Yes."
"I'm glad for you, sister," she smiled. Then it faded. "I've never been in love. I thought I loved Joffrey, but… he wasn't who I thought he was."
"I'm sorry, Sansa. Everyone in Westeros will be begging to marry the eldest Stark daughter now. You will have your pick of suitors."
Sansa bit her lip, thinking. "Well, there is someone…. Do you promise not to judge me?"
Her sister hadn't judged her for Gendry. "I promise."
Tentatively, she admitted, "Sandor Clegane."
"The Hound?" Arya was completely taken aback. The Hound was the one who stole her sister's heart?
"He protected me in King's Landing. The other men… Joffrey commanded them to—" Sansa cut herself off, realizing that she'd said too much. She wanted to keep her sister in the dark about the horrors she faced.
Protectiveness and anger overwhelmed Arya. "Them to what?" If they touched her sister, if they forced themselves on her...
"Hit me," she finished reluctantly. "But the Hound wouldn't. He told Joffrey no. And there was a riot in Flea Bottom, and he saved me. He wanted to take me away. He—" She paused again. Her eyes fell downcast and she smiled shyly, a tinge of color rising to her cheeks. "He kissed me." She looked back up. "Where do you think he is now?"
Arya felt her heart sink. Her sister thought she had finally found her true knight and he was dead. And Gendry was the one who killed him, who dealt the final blow.
Sansa could never know.
"I don't know." It hurt to lie. "He will pop up somewhere, I'm sure…"
"He is a good man, Arya," Sansa told her sister. "Not the way father or Robb were…. but there is good in him."
Deep down, Arya thought perhaps there was. "Maybe you brought out the good."
A while later, Sana was snoring softly. Arya was careful not to wake her as she slipped out of bed. She checked on Bran and Rickon, who were both also fast asleep, before returning to her own room.
Gendry sat on their old bed, in their old chambers. His head was bent as he removed his shoes. He looked up with tired eyes when she entered. She saw the sadness in his face, the exhaustion.
"Where did you go?"
"I was with Sansa." Arya bit her lip. Perhaps he had needed her to stay. "I'm sorry, I—"
"No, there was nothing you could have done," he told her. "Come here."
She joined him on the soft mattress. His heavy head came to rest in her neck. He closed his eyes and her fingers stroked his shoulder in what she hoped was a comforting manner. "I'm sorry, Gendry."
"I don't remember losing my mother, how it felt… I was lucky." He continued painfully, "Shireen and Mya… I don't know if they'll ever be okay again, Arya"
"They will," she assured him. "It won't be the same, but… It's like there's a hole inside you, where they used to be. But you forget that you are empty, you keep going on with your life. And then something… something will just remind you. I don't think that part will ever stop. But then you forget again, and you're okay."
He was silent for a long moment. And then in a small voice he whispered, "I had a brother."
Her heart clenched at his words. She kissed the top of his head and ran her fingers through his hair. "I'm so sorry, Gendry."
"Will you come with me tomorrow? To bury him?"
They lay back in bed, curled around one another. Arya fell asleep with Gendry's head on her chest, his arm thrown across her waist. She woke the same way.
Together they washed. Water and lips alike kissed her skin. After their bath, he took her on the bed. He told her I love you as they dressed for the funeral.
Arya held his hand as they said their final goodbyes to Edric Storm.
Arya, her siblings, and Gendry immediately boarded a ship after receiving the news that the Targaryen queen and her brother successfully retook Winterfell. There was no fight, the Bolton men left willingly for the Dreadfort after realizing the threat of dragon fire.
Ramsay Snow was not allowed to leave. He resided in the dungeons, awaiting execution.
His wife and Arya's imposter also remained in Winterfell. She was left in Sansa's care, as she turned out to be their childhood playmate Jeyne Poole. The poor girl looked so different, so broken after whatever she endured at Ramsay's hand. She kept mumbling "Theon" all the time. Jon once told her to shut up about that "dead traitor", and was immediately scolded by her sister.
Arya didn't remember Jeyne and Theon Greyjoy being particularly close. Maybe Sansa would eventually get that story out of her. But right now, she wasn't much of a talker—something else that was quite different about Jeyne Poole.
As Arya walked through Winterfell, surveying the damaged with her brother, she could not help but think that her home didn't look like her home anymore. The faces she had come to associate with Winterfell were long dead. Without them, the castle felt empty. The stone walls she had thought were so strong were crumbling to pieces, scorched from the ironmen's fires. It would take years to rebuild.
She said as much to Jon.
"No, we'll have it finished soon enough," Jon told her. "Maybe even before winter comes. The inside is mostly intact, and the Boltons gave us a head start with rebuilding."
Biting her lip, she decided to throw it out there. "We could really use your help, Jon."
"We've had this talk a million times, Arya. My place is at the Wall. I am Lord Commander—"
"Fine, fine." She huffed, "But Bran is so young—"
"He has his sisters to help him."
Arya sighed and bit her tongue. They walked a while longer before parting ways. She found herself headed for the crypts.
She knelt in front of her father's statue. He was not buried there. The location of his bones was a mystery. They suspected they were lost somewhere in the Riverlands.
I will find them, father, she promised silently.
She felt a hand on her shoulder. One she knew to belong to Gendry. She had his touch memorized.
"I wish you could have gotten to know him," Arya told him. "I wish he was here."
"I do too." He sat beside her. She leaned into him. "Arya, we don't have to—"
"Yes, we do. I'm afraid Jon will leave before—"
"No, I mean at all. If this isn't what you want Arya, I'm okay with—"
"That's why I want to marry you, Gendry. Because I know you won't try to change me." She took his hand and continued, "I never wanted to marry because I didn't want to be some lord's lady. I didn't want my life to be decided by anyone but me. It felt like something was being taken from me. And gods, Gendry, I never thought I would fall in love. So I'm deciding for myself. I'm choosing to marry you, because I truly believe I will be happy. You make me happy."
Gendry was rendered speechless at her words, deeply touched. "Arya—"
"Just tell me one thing."
"Will you be happy with me?"
"No," she shook her head. "Really think about it. What if you want an actual proper wife who takes care of you? What if you decide you want to be the Lord of Storm's End and I want to stay to rebuild Winterfell? Or what if you don't want to be a lord, and hate that you're married to the highborn lady?" She paused, biting her lip. "Gendry, what if I never want to have children?"
"I want you," he told her intently. "I want you over anything else. I'll always be happy if I have you, Arya. You are all I need."
His hand cupped her face. She looked into his eyes and promised, "You have me, Gendry."
And the next day, she swore it in front of the gods.
They said their vows before the heart tree. The ceremony was small, short and sweet. Arya thought the less people the better. Jon was the only one in attendance, who officiated and gave her away.
Traditionally, Bran would be the one to remove her Stark grey cloak, but she wanted Jon to do it. Arya hoped that her younger brother would not mind.
The cloak Gendry fastened around her shoulders was a simple black one that he happened to own, for her had no House colors. At least, not yet.
It was perfect.
They had a feast afterwards, and announce the marriage. The bannermen that remained since following Jon to Winterfell cheered for them, and called for more wine.
Arya apologized for keeping her siblings in the dark. "I just… I wanted it to be for us," she explained.
Bran understood and gave her his congratulations. Hurt flashed in Sansa's eyes but then she smiled and said how happy she was for her sister. Rickon was too busy attacking a chicken leg to care.
After sharing a dance and a slice of cake, Arya and Gendry sneaked away from the feast in avoidance of the bedding ceremony.
They went up to her chambers alone. He kissed her the entire way.
Arya was glad that there wouldn't be any nerves, any pain. He undressed her with soft hands and laid her down on the bed with love in his eyes. "I can't believe you married me."
"Me neither," she smiled. "Now are you going to consummate it or what?"
"Arya, my wife," he mused. "Always the impatient one."
"Gendry, my husband," she said right back. "Always the stupid one."
AN: The end! Again, thanks so much.
I've just started a new Arya/Gendry multi-chapter. It's a Modern AU! There is a road trip! Jon and Gendry are roommates! Arya is very confused by her feelings! It's called "You Made Me" or "You Make Me" depending on which thread you read it from. Please go read it! I'm really excited about this one.
It's called "You Made Me" or "You Make Me" depending on which thread you read it from. Please go read it! I'm really excited about this one.