A/N: I'd like to preface this fix saying that I do not believe that either Arya nor Gendry would be well suited or want the iron throne in the canon verse of Westeros. That being said, I was intrigued with the idea of what they would be like if they were in that situation, and the idea of Gendry being a legitimate prince. Basically, this fic is me exploring whether, in this sort of setting, Arya and Gendry would ultimately want the throne, and I really can't say more because I don't want to spoil the whole entire thing. I also must warn you that I'm planing on working out more character development here, and I hope you guys can be forgiving because I am by no means a professional writer and have a lot to learn about. Characters will grow into themselves. That's all I'm going to say. ALSO: you might see (okay I know you'll see), some familiar scenes but they will play out differently than you've experienced before. My lovely beta April will make sure I don't stray too close to the bookverse. That being said, I sincerely hope you enjoy this. I'd like to thank the Jane Eyre and village soundtracks for inspiring me. Sidenote: dear GRRM, I'm sorry I know you hate fanfiction but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do when she has to wait five years between books.
Gendry stepped from yet another council meeting feeling as he always did, and feeling weak for thinking so. Besides, what was the point in feeling this way anyway? What was the point of feeling that the Kingship would be too great a burden to bear when he must carry it no matter what he thought or felt? He was the crown prince, his father was the king, and as the eldest son, he was in line for the throne. Wishing otherwise was a useless folly. He was a man grown and more than able to carry the weight of the world upon his shoulders. His whole life had been spent preparing him for such a task, and there was no one more prepared than he.
"You look very pensive your grace."
Gendry spun around, caught off guard, yet again, by Lord Varys, who always seemed to be appearing from thin air and reading his very thoughts. A eunuch, everyone knew that of Varys, but that was not the reason he was not to be trusted. The thing was, though no man could be everywhere, Varys could. He knew everything. Every secret, every whisper, and sometimes it felt like every thought in Gendry's head.
"It was a serious meeting," Gendry allowed himself to say cautiously. Varys nodded in agreement.
"Very," he said, his arms folded together as he looked steadily at Gendry, an unreadable expression on his powdered face. "So serious that your father and Lord Stark had a troublesome quarrel."
"Not one that won't be fixed," Gendry said shortly.
"Hmm yes," Varys agreed. "The bonds of true friendship can never be broken over a moment of rashness. And, in this case, the King and Lord Stark are to be family within these few months. A reconciliation will follow soon, I am sure of it."
Gendry had nothing to say to this. He wondered why Varys was even talking to him. He rarely did, and it always made Gendry feel unsettled. His giggles. His ways. Everything set Gendry's skin to crawl.
"And what do you think your grace?" Varys asked. "About the Targareyan girl? Do you agree with the King?"
"Disagreeing with the King is treason Varys," Gendry said drily. "Everyone knows that."
"Always so serious," Varys giggled. "You take after your uncle Stannis in that respect, though you look so much like the King. The Queen must tell you that often."
Gendry gave Varys a wane smile. It was the very thing his mother hated about Gendry most, and Varys was bound to know that. Varys knew everything.
"Surely a conversation among friends would not be taken as treason," Varys said with a docile expression, but Gendry was not so sure.
"I respect my father's decision," he said firmly, and made to move away. Varys followed him.
"But is it the decision you would make, your grace?"
Gendry could not help what he felt, so he did not reply. That was answer enough.
"It is not," Varys said with knowing. "You would not see her murdered, then."
Gendry stopped and turned to face him, growing tired of whatever game they were supposed to be playing. He was never good at the kind of games that were played at court. He was much better with a hammer.
"What is it that you want, Varys?" He asked bluntly.
"Why, to know your opinion, your grace," Varys said, his eyes wide.
"What does it matter, what I think?" Gendry snapped with a scowl. Varys chuckled, and Gendry made note that it was not his usual giggle.
"You are going to be King one day," he pointed out, "surely you would agree that your opinion matters a great deal."
Gendry sighed. He felt like Varys was asking him something here, more than the question he was posing. So Gendry thought. He thought about what he would say before he said it, and then he cleared his throat.
"There is no denying that if Danaerys is pregnant, it is not happy news to me or my father," he said, choosing his words slowly. "But does she have to die simply because she is with child? It seems to me that we should never become murderers for the sake of our own self-preservation."
"Noble and well-chosen words, your grace," Varys said, nodding. "I think you will be a good and just king one day."
"I am glad you think so, Varys," Gendry said with a slight bow, though he did not feel any comfort from the spider's words. Besides, it was probably all lies anyway.
"You do not believe me," Varys said with his usual giggle, but his expression was serious. "But I think you have more power than you give yourself credit for. Use it, your grace."
Gendry felt uncomfortable. He hardly cared about the power he may or may not have had, and as for using it? He must be king one day, that was inevitable, but he was not about to play the game of thrones. Not more than he already had to.
"Excuse me, your grace."
Gendry looked from Varys to see a timid serving girl approaching him, very red in the face.
"Yes?" He asked.
"Your grace, it is your bride to be... Lady Arya... She's causing some upset... The Queen is most distressed..." The girl blushed feverishly and would not meet his gaze. Gendry sighed. Not again.
"Varys, I must take my leave of you," he said formally, bowing courteously. Varys did the same.
"Lady Stark is quite the fiery one, is she not your grace? She will make a very interesting Queen, to be sure," Varys giggled. Gendry grimaced. The last thing Arya wanted to be was Queen. She almost hated the idea as much as Gendry disliked being the future King.
Turning away from the council chamber, Gendry took quick strides to make it to Arya's chambers as fast as possible. Whatever it was, he was sure she was raising hell about it, and he was torn between feeling amused and irritated, especially after the very cryptic talk he had just had with Varys, who always set him on edge. As he went up the stairs, he could hear Arya's voice drifting from the room, and yet again, it sounded like a heated argument.
"-I will NOT! I refuse! This is my wedding-"
"That it may be, but you are marrying the future king-"
"To hell with that! Get me out of this insufferable dress this instant!"
Gendry paused, and then went in. Silence fell at the sight of him, but that did not quench the anger that crackled in the air. His mother, the Queen, turned to him, her face red and her eyes flashing with the fury of a lion ready to rip open the stomach of its foe. But Gendry's eyes were fixed on his Lady bride, and for a moment he was tongue tied, as he sometimes was in her presence, and felt incredibly stupid for it.
There was an awkward pause.
It was Arya's older sister, Sansa that spoke first. Gendry jerked towards her in surprise, and she met his eyes, and then dipped into a low, polite curtsey. A pang of guilt went through him, as it always did when he was in her company, and he could almost hear his mother's snarl, "she would have made an infinitely better Queen."
"Lady Sansa," Gendry nodded. "What appears to be the trouble?"
Of course he knew the trouble right away. It was obvious. The wedding, the dress, Arya. She hated all of it, and his mother was determined to make sure the wedding went according to her plans, so naturally that made it all the worse. Even now, he could see the look of resentment his lady flashed towards him, and he sighed inwardly, trying to find the place within himself that was dull and calm so that he might defuse the situation.
"Lady Arya does not like her wedding dress," Cersei snarled, not bothering to hide the tone of malice in her voice. Arya glared.
"I cannot breathe," she snapped. "One would think that the bride falling over in a faint during the celebrations would cause a slight disruption to the wedding. Besides, it's hideous."
Cersei swelled furiously, and Sansa gave a little squawk as if to say 'oh Arya please.' But Arya would not hold her tongue. She never would. It was one of the things about her that was both infuriating and attractive. Her wildness. Even now, with the expression of the fury of winter upon her face that would bring most men to their knees only made Gendry stand stronger. He gave her a purposeful look.
"I think you look beautiful," he said earnestly. She did look beautiful, her long, wild hair in braids away from her curved neck, the fabric cutting down her back and spiraling away in a long train. But this was the wrong thing to say, and it only made her more cross.
"I will not wear it," she said to him. "You cannot make me."
Gendry felt the sting of her words. They did not quarrel often, in fact they got on rather well, but he always felt that there was a certain under current with all their interactions. A certain anger from her, because it was he that had put her here, in this dress, in this room, so far away from home and everything she wanted, and they both knew it. Again Gendry shifted and struggled to hold his own.
"Perhaps on further reflection you will think differently," he said dully. "But for now, I think it is best if we end the dressmakers' misery and let you return to normal clothing."
This hardly settled Arya, but she was beyond throwing more of a tantrum, and so she gave a sigh of reluctant admission, and this seemed to satisfy his mother. Only just though. Everything about Cersei's look told him that he was soft. No matter what he did, he would never be pleasing anybody.
Cersei shoved her way past him, not even looking at him or even giving Arya the proper and polite terms of leave. It was clear that she was furious, and it wouldn't be the last Gendry would hear of any of it. Sansa stood awkwardly, her eyes shifting from her sister to the prince, unsure of what to do.
"Thank you Sansa," Gendry said kindly, "if you wouldn't mind, I'd like a word with my future wife."
Arya raised her eyebrows but said nothing as she, along with several of her handmaidens holding onto her large dress, moved towards the screen so that she might change. Sansa nodded, curtseying, and then she too took her leave, relief at being able to escape yet another peril-some day evident on her face. As Arya disappeared behind the screen, Gendry let the air out of his lungs in a great, tired puff.
"If you are going to chastise me like a child, you might as well not bother," Arya's voice floated hotly from behind the screen. Gendry sighed again, taking off his cloak and draping it over a chair.
"You might try to be civil with her Arya," he said warily.
"Why?" She snapped. "She hates me. It's obvious. Why should we pretend?"
"Because it's courteous," Gendry said, pacing.
"Courteous," Arya snorted.
"You are going to be Queen one day," Gendry recited tiredly, "you might try it once or twice. You might even like it."
"I am who I am," Arya said bluntly. "And since it is you who has made the choice, you might as well take me as I am or you should have chosen Sansa."
"Must you?" He asked.
Arya strode from behind the screen, tying a robe about her waist. She had the good grace to look ashamed and apologetic.
"I'm sorry," she said earnestly. "I should not have said that. It was hurtful of me to do so."
Gendry did not say anything, but the words that he wanted to were there. That it was he who was sorry, that had he known, when he was just sixteen years of age, what a decision he was making, he would have never made it. That he wished with all his heart that she loved him and knew that she never would. That he never meant to trap her as he had. That all he had wanted to do was follow his heart, even if it was wrong. But all those things he did not say because she did not want to hear them. Instead he just turned away.
"Apologize to the Queen," he said coldly. "Tell her you will wear the dress as she wishes."
"You have behaved badly today," Gendry said, turning on Arya. "Do you think that you are the only one who must do things they don't want to do? Do you think that gives you the right to be so callus? We all have our duty, and you are not so special that you can shy away from yours."
Arya's face grew red with humiliation and anger.
"It isn't fair-" she started hotly.
"No!" Gendry roared, suddenly enraged, his temper getting the better of him. "How could I forget that when you remind me every waking minute? You are seventeen Arya, a woman grown! Now start acting like one!"
Tears were pooling in her eyes, and Gendry knew he had gone too far, but damn it she made him so angry. Damnation to the seven hells! And he could see it, the growing hurt that was swirling around on her face. He could see it in her eyes. You've ruined it. You've ruined everything!
"Apologize to my mother," Gendry said firmly, ignoring the gaping servants.
"Yes your grace," Arya spat, but her voice quivered despite her icy demeanor.
He turned to go.
He had a split second where he looked into her eyes, clustered with tears, and then she was barreling into him, her arms wrapped around him, and crying. And he knew, he knew this was her way of apologizing, not only for today, but what they were really fighting about. What had happened the day before in the Red Keep, where the dragon heads were kept. What pained him to even think about.
He had taken her down there as sort of an adventure. They did that sort of thing from time to time, when they weren't caught up in their duties, which was rather often. The day before had been a stolen moment, one where Gendry could forget himself and trick himself into believing in a fantasy. To take her small hand in his and pull her down, grinning, with him to the darkness where the skulls were so big they could crouch inside them, and he had watched her eyes, wide with childlike wonder in the dark.
Her head was thrown back, gazing up at the great bones they sat crouched in, her mouth slightly open as she watched the light of the torches flicker against the dark black bone. Her hand had felt so light in his, her fingers curved smooth against his calluses, and he had forgotten himself. In that moment he had forgotten their whole relationship, and, his heart pounding so valiantly in his chest that he might not have been able to breathe, he had let his free hand glide across her cheek, tuck a piece of hair behind her ear, and as she looked at him in astonishment, he had leaned in and kissed her.
For a moment, it was just darkness and Arya. But that was all it was, a moment, and it was shattered instantly as she jerked away, her face livid with horrible, terrible anger, and she had pushed him to the ground and away from her, shouting.
"You've ruined it!" She cried angrily, skirting away. "You've ruined EVERYTHING!"
And then she was gone, running up the stairs and into the light away from him, her skirts bunched up in her hands, her hair spilling down her back in waves, feet pounding mercilessly against the ground. Gone before he could even draw another breath.
It wasn't the first time he was abruptly and almost cruelly reminded about how much he wanted his wife to be, and how much she did not want him. Not in that way. The nearing of their wedding day had both caused his heart to flutter and his mouth to dry. He could not help but feel the thrill of what was to come beat within his breast, but if she didn't even want him to kiss her... He couldn't imagine what she would be like on their wedding night. Every touch would be tainted by her unhappiness. He had to come to terms that their first time lying together would be a bitter disappointment.
But he could not help imagining it, late at night, with the most vivid of details... Her body, which he had only caught a glimpse of once two years ago, small yet strong in his arms. His lips upon her hands, her lips, her neck, her breasts... Unable to control them, his thoughts would take a power hold of him, and he would have nothing to do but let them run their course and forget himself in his sure hands and the whispers of his mind. But afterwards he always felt empty knowing that the real thing might happen with time, but she would never be so free with her passions in the flesh than she would in his dreams.
"I'm sorry," she said now through tears. "This whole wedding has been driving me mad. It's all so real, isn't it? The dresses, the food, everything that I say and do cannot be my own..."
"Welcome to my life," Gendry sighed, leaning his head against hers. She gave a watery laugh.
"I did not mean to be short with you just then," Arya whispered. "Truly. Or... Or yesterday either. You're my best friend."
Gendry swallowed hard. Yes. He was her best friend. But he did not think he could be her best friend and only her best friend. He wanted to be her husband as well. He tried to ignore that want for now and wrap his arms around her.
"I know I'm lucky," she said faintly into his shirt. "I only... I just wish you were some insignificant lord or something."
"As do I," he said. "What I wouldn't give to be small... A bastard even."
"You don't mean that," Arya said softly. "Because if you were a bastard then everything would be awful for you. Jon's lucky, not everyone would be so well looked after. And... And then you wouldn't know me, would you?"
"No," Gendry agreed.
"Maybe you wish you didn't," Arya said with a sigh, pulling back. "I'm proving to be a right shit of a wife."
"We're not married yet, milady," Gendry tried to tease, pushing some hair out of her face. "And that's-"
"No language for the future Queen?"
They both laughed.
"It could be worse I suppose," Arya said with a sigh, wiping her eyes. "I could be married to Joffrey. Maybe I would be if you hadn't changed your mind."
Gendry felt himself blush.
"I never thought he'd listen to me," he admitted. He had never admitted this to Arya before. In fact, it was always something that they talked about, his change from Sansa to Arya, without really talking about it. "But suddenly he asked me, after we came back to King's Landing, if I wouldn't like you better... He saw that we were friends..."
"Really?" Arya said, surprised. Gendry nodded.
"He asked me one day," he said, remembering. "I think it was a year or so after... I was sixteen I hardly knew what I was talking about... But Sansa didn't fancy me, and I spent most of my time with you..."
Gendry remembered the day clearly. His father rarely sought a moment with him, so it had been rare and a big surprise when the King had stopped him from slinking away to the forge and told him that they would be going for a walk to survey the preparations for the tourney that was to be taking place on Gendry's sixteenth name day, three days later.
Gendry remembered a feeling of apprehension and uneasiness at spending time with his father. They were so completely different, the king and his son, and Gendry knew with certainty that he would only make his father annoyed with their conversation, as he had in the past. He tried not to feel resentful that his pleasant afternoon was to be ruined. He told himself he should enjoy this rare pleasure of keeping the King's company. He never did quite succeed.
"This will be a fine tourney," Robert boomed as they walked past the tents that were being set up, servants and knights all in a flurry to make sure everything was ready. Gendry wanted to sink into the shadows with every stare that was shot towards him and the King, but he swallowed his embarrassment and strode tall next to his father. The truth was, he hated tourney's, and he would much rather have spent his birthday not being bothered and to make swords and helms as he pleased, but he said none of this.
"Yes your grace."
"Tis a pity you are too young to compete in it," Robert said with a snort. "Or so the Queen says, anyway. Cersei is so wet when it comes to these things. Why at your age I had already killed a man with my hammer, and you've not so much as lifted one!"
That was hardly true, but Gendry was in no mood to correct him.
"Those were the days," Robert said with a faraway sigh. "Where a man could be a man, and wasn't surrounded by such a consort of liars and idiots! God if I thought being King would lead to all this..."
Gendry stopped listening. He was tired of hearing about the old days all the time, and about how wonderful they had been, and how magnificent Robert had been. About all the whores his father had fucked, and all the men he had murdered, and all the violence and blood that had been shed. It seemed to Gendry a poor thing on his father's part that, for such a valiant and vigorous man he was supposed to have been, that he sunk so far into selfishness, gluttony and drink. All he had ever wanted from his father was for him to look at a sword Gendry had made and tell him it was a fine thing, but Robert only looked at blacksmithing as stupid, and he could not understand why Gendry would chose to lock himself up in a forge when he could be bedding pretty girls and beating men's heads in with a hammer. Now that he was older and wiser, Gendry could see that Robert had tried. He just didn't know what to make of a son who was of such a different mind.
"Well boy?" Robert barked, and Gendry started, lost in his own thoughts. "Have you even been listening?"
The honest answer was no, he hadn't, but Gendry hardly felt like admitting as such.
"My apologies your grace," he said but that only made Robert angry.
"Your grace!" He snarled. "As if you were some damned sort of fool! This is all Cersei's doing, of course, she's made you too soft..."
Hardly. Cersei hated him. It was Joffrey she doted on left and right. Joffrey with his lovely golden hair, while Gendry sat in the dark of the shadows, the fact that he so looked like his father damning him in her heart for eternity.
Gendry didn't say anything, but he felt anger swelling within him. Robert tried, he knew, but he didn't try hard enough. He never did. Everything was too hard for his father, so all the bother was washed down with drink and pleasure, and Gendry just wished... But that was stupid. No one would understand him. No one expect Arya. The thought of her, a fellow misfit, always made him happier.
They stopped by the row of seats and the royal box where Gendry would sit with his family in three days' time. He wondered if anyone would die this time. Sometimes knights died, when they got impaled in the neck by a jousting stick, or stabbed in a mortal area. One year, a knight got his balls cut clean off, and Robert didn't stop talking about it for a solid three weeks. He had laughed so hard, his face had turned magenta. Gendry hadn't found it funny in the least.
"Let's stop and sit a moment," Robert had said, so they did, watching the squires run two and fro with things for their knights. Long, smooth swords and armor that shone brightly in the sunlight. Gendry had always wanted to make a suit of armor-
"So what is it with you and Sansa Stark?" Robert asked suddenly. "Is she not pretty enough for you?"
Gendry was caught off guard, dumbstruck and blubbering.
"I-I-she, she is very beautiful!" Gendry sputtered out. "No one could doubt that! I-I never said that she-she wasn't!"
"Then what's wrong with her, hmmm? What is it about her that displeases you?" He demanded. Gendry felt his face heat from humiliation.
"Nothing your grace," he said honestly. "Sansa is very lovely."
She was too. Very nice at age fourteen, with her Tully hair and fair skin. They just had nothing in common. Every time they had lunch together, or danced at a feast they had nothing to say. Gendry had tried to show her the forge, but Sansa had wrinkled her nose and said it smelled, and what was a crown prince doing in a forge anyway? After that, he had tried, very feebly he admitted, but it seemed that there was a mutual understanding between them that while they both liked each other fine, there was nothing between them and never would be except duty. But his attempts to court her had been shabby, so shabby that his father, it would seem, had finally heard about it.
"Then why not show it?" Robert asked. "Give the girl a necklace or something."
"I... I should," Gendry muttered weakly. "I mean I will..."
Robert snorted again. That hadn't satisfied him.
"Well," he said, "if you can pay so much attention to her sister, then I don't understand why it's so hard for you to just pay the proper respects to your future bride."
"Arya Stark," Robert said firmly. "And don't try to deny it either! You spend every waking minute with that girl, if you could call her that."
Gendry felt his face color all the way to his ears.
"Arya's just my friend," he said quickly. "I'm not courting her."
"Would you like to?"
Gendry blinked in shock. He opened and closed his mouth but no sound came out. He didn't believe it, but Robert was... Robert was serious.
"I can't!" Gendry choked out. "I mean, Sansa-"
"To hell with Sansa," Robert snapped. "Forget Sansa for a moment. If given the choice-"
"I cannot break my engagement-"
"We've made no formal announcement," Robert cut across him hotly, his temper flaring.
"But won't the gods-"
"Fuck the gods!" Robert snarled. "I'm asking you who you want to marry, damn it! I never got the chance to choose, and by hell I don't want the same to happen to you!"
Gendry was stunned silence. He had never thought about that.
"I... Arya and I... I suppose..."
"Well stop supposing!" Robert said in his booming voice. "You can't suppose with this sort of thing!"
So Gendry didn't suppose. He knew.
"Yes," he managed hoarsely. "I mean, yes to... To Arya."
Now, with her wiping her eyes, sighing, Gendry wondered if going with what he wanted wasn't the worse thing he had ever done. It had changed everything, but only slowly. At first, it had just been because Arya understood him, because they were friends and a life with her seemed like a life worth living. But then... But then she had started to grow up and mature and his feelings... Well his feelings had started to mature, hadn't they? And here they were, she and him, standing in her chambers as her serving girls, carrying her wedding gown, scuttled out of the room uncomfortably. Never a moment alone.
Maybe this was him paying the price for breaking his agreement with Sansa. Maybe this was the Gods punishing him, damning him to a life of loving her, while she would always be trapped by it.
"I never knew," Arya said now. "But... Well Sansa had always taken it so well..."
"She's Sansa," Gendry said affectionately. "She does everything well."
Arya groaned and rolled her eyes.
"Don't I know it," she sighed, and then she shook her head, as if wishing for all the foolishness to go away. Gendry wished as well.
"Are you ready for the feast tonight?" Gendry asked. "And the tourney tomorrow?"
Arya looked irritated again, but this time not with him.
"Another set of insufferable dresses," she said with a groan. "Oh I'm so jealous of you! I wish I could ride in the tourney!"
"You'd beat every knight to a pulp, I have no doubt," Gendry chuckled, but then he became serious. "It seems a bit strange; to be a having a tourney right after Jon Arryn's burial, not even cold in the ground..."
"I know," Arya agreed, and Gendry was glad they could talk freely again. She was too, he could see it. "Father protested furiously..."
"But Robert is the King," Gendry said grimly. "And we might have no money, but he'll run all the even kingdoms into the ground for his amusement."
A crinkle appeared between Arya's eyes, but she said nothing about it. She never said anything when Gendry's face went dark as he spoke of his parents, but he felt her press her hand affectionately against his. He tried to smile at her, but it was a poor attempt.
"I am excited," Arya said, trying to lighten the mood, "about being crowned Queen of Love and Beauty that is... If you win."
"So despairing, Lady Stark," he said, giving her a slight shove, but he did not let go of her hand. "And what if you dress up as a knight and beat all of us men black and blue? Who will be Queen of Love and Beauty then?"
Arya chewed her lip in mock consideration.
"I suppose you'd have to do," she said with a sigh, "but you're not very beautiful, or very loving are you?"
"Or a woman," Gendry pointed out.
"Well we'd make you King of Love and Beauty then," Arya said, "we'll bind your hair with grass..." "And you can be my forest love," Gendry sang rather badly. "And me your forest lass," Arya finished and, as if lost in her little joke of a fantasy, she ran her fingers through his hair lightly. He felt his throat run dry and his heart hammer in his throat. She seemed to catch herself. "But this is silly. You'll win, everyone knows that."
"Against the Mountain? He'd crush me to bits," Gendry said seriously. "I hope I never have to face him."
"You should be allowed a hammer," Arya said fiercely. "Then you could beat his chest in."
Gendry's amusement was wiped quickly off his face. The rage that sparked behind her eyes... Arya had always been strong willed and quick tempered, her world was so black and white, but sometimes it surprised Gendry, just how much... How the whole fury of winter and ice and wild wolf blood was really hidden under her skin.
"And get charged with the murder of a knight?" Gendry said with a frown. "I hardly think that would be a good thing to do as the future King of Westeros."
"He's vile," Arya said, her eyes dark, "and I hate him. I don't like the Hound either."
"Is there anyone in King's Landing that you do like?" Gendry teased, feeling as though such talk was a bad idea. He had the unsettling feeling that someone was watching him. Sometimes it felt like the shifting curtains, the shadows that danced on the walls and the whisper of the torch all had eyes that followed him everywhere. Maybe they did.
"Well you, stupid," Arya said, shoving him. "And father and Sansa are here, so I suppose there's some good down south after all."
Gendry laughed and shook his head.
"I hate to leave you," he said, standing up and clasping her hands, "but my mother looked ready for murder when she left, and if I keep her waiting any longer, she might actually go through with it."
"That's all right," Arya said with a shrug. "I have to get ready for the feast anyway. Another awful dress of your mother's wishes, I'll have you know."
"Well when you're Queen you can wear what you like," Gendry said, dropping their hands.
"I'll bring breeches into style," Arya joked with a relish, flouncing through the room dramatically. Gendry watched her and laughed.
"But for now, wear the dress," he said, shaking his head at her pout. "And the wedding gown isn't so bad either, admit it."
"I will not admit it!" Arya protested. "That god awful train! People will be breaking their necks tripping over it, and for another thing, I cannot breathe! It will be a poor thing indeed if I fall flat into a dead faint when we are saying our vows."
"I'll speak with my mother about loosening it," Gendry said, and he bowed to her. She curtseyed, but he knew he would be hearing about the wedding dress until he took it off her on their wedding night. He tried not to think about that.
He had no sooner left the room, when he nearly ran into his uncle Tyrion, who was coming from god-knows-where with a mischievous look on his face. But then, he always looked mischievous.
"Ahhh nephew!" He said gaily. "Stealing a moment with the bride-to-be?"
He nodded towards Arya's room. Gendry grimaced. Tyrion's tone insinuated something more than a 'moment,' but he and his uncle both knew that Gendry's time spent with Arya was always innocent. Everyone knew.
"I heard she raised quite a brawl," Tyrion said gayly as they walked down the hall. "Cersei looked positively livid. It was very amusing."
"Wedding dress again," Gendry said wearily.
"Oh again?" Tyrion said with a grin. "Well who's to blame the poor girl? Last time I saw her, she was positively drowning in it."
"I think she looks lovely," Gendry blurted, feeling like such a heel. Tyrion sighed and shook his head.
"Still besotted then?" He said. It wasn't a question. Gendry's face flushed hot. He did not respond. Tyrion sighed.
"You really should get yourself a whore," he said seriously. "Robert's right in that account. Hang your blasted honor. You aren't doing the girl any disservice by spending a few rounds in bed. And just think of it, her tits, the whine-"
"No," Gendry said firmly.
"So you want your first fumblings in bed with the Stark girl to be an utter embarrassment?" Tyrion demanded. Gendry felt his face heat again.
"I respect her too much; I have no interest in other-"
"In other women?" Tyrion said with a biting laugh. There was a bitter tone to his voice. "Let me give you some advice nephew: save yourself the pain and take a trip to one of Littlefinger's brothels. She'll only break your heart in the end."
A darkness had settled over his uncle's face, and Gendry did not say anything. He knew, vaguely, that Tyrion had been very hurt in the past, but he had never asked. In truth, he rather liked his uncle. Tyrion was someone who rarely cared what other people thought of him, and whenever Gendry had been on the brunt end of Cersei's anger, Tyrion was always there with a word or two of comfort, and a rather vulgar joke. And, if he was completely honest with himself, Gendry had considered everything Tyrion said. He and Arya were friends, and it was very clear that she had no idea what to make of him in the romantic sense. One time, he had even made the trip down to one of the brothels, but once inside he could not go through with it and had stolen away. He did not know if it was bravery or cowardice that made him do so. The only time he had ever heeded his uncle and father's advice had left him feeling the last thing from brave. No matter how many times he had told himself it was the right thing, that he had done nothing wrong... The thought of it brought a chill to his heart and the bitter word that whispered coward.
They reached Cersei's room and both went in.
"There you are at last!" Cersei spat, and it was clear that Gendry's stalling with Arya had allowed her anger to fester. "Yes, come slinking in like a coward!"
"And a good day to you too, sister," Tyrion said merrily, but Cersei ignored him, her eyes were fixed on Gendry.
"Arya is going to apologize," Gendry said calmly. "I've talked to her-"
"Oh and I suppose that makes everything all right!" Cersei said lividly. "You made me look a fool in there today, against that shameful little tart-"
"Arya Stark is hardly a tart," Tyrion said, helping himself to some wine. Cersei continued to ignore him.
"I did my best mother," Gendry said, still trying to remain in control of his emotions.
"Always," Cersei said, for a moment a look of hurt flashed across her face, "always it is Arya who you support! You always stand by her like some sort of lost puppy-"
"That's hardly fair," Gendry said, tightening his hand on his sword. "Maybe if you-"
"Maybe if I?" Cersei swelled in indignation. "I am the Queen! I am your mother! How dare you disrespect me so?"
"I have already had my fair share of words with Arya," Gendry said feeling his resolve wane. "I do not want to quarrel with you."
"Your lady needs to earn some respect!" Cersei said. "And know her place."
"I assure you Arya will apologize for her conduct today," Gendry sighed. "And she will wear the dress as well without a word."
"I highly doubt that," Cersei snapped, but she seemed somewhat satisfied at last, and her face began to return to its normal color. There was a crackling tension in the room, but no one addressed it.
"I heard from Varys that father is coming to King's Landing," Tyrion said cheerfully.
"Yes," Cersei said, her voice faltering slightly. "Of course he is. He would not miss his grandson's wedding."
"Ahhh yes," Tyrion said, as if forgetting, but Gendry had a feeling he was up to something. "How could I have forgotten the joyous occasion?"
Cersei wavered slightly, and there was a change in her demeanor. Her eyes flicked to Gendry almost guiltily, but she could not meet his gaze. Gendry frowned, not understanding. His mother sat down, glaring at Tyrion, but he merely smiled.
"Aren't we all so excited," his uncle said, taking a swig of wine. "And isn't Gendry just the picture of Robert at that age?"
Gendry and Cersei dared not look at each other.
It was a source of great pain in their relationship, Gendry knew, that he looked so much like his father. The older he had gotten, the more the resemblance had flowered, and the more Cersei could not look at him without the resentment and anger she harbored towards Robert. Not when all their other children were so lovely and golden haired. Gendry had been a grave disappointment to her, he knew, but no matter how hard she tried, there was one thing Cersei could not avoid, and that was that she fiercely loved her children. Even Gendry.
"Why so quiet sister? Is something amiss?" Tyrion asked, still cheery. Cersei's glare could burn a whole city to the ground. Gendry felt something bitter in his mouth.
"No," she said smoothly. "Why would there be? You're always so queer, Tyrion. Why don't you just run back to that whore, to wherever it is you've hidden her."
"Always so subtle," Tyrion said with a dramatic sigh. "But I'm in no mood to stay. I'll be off."
He pushed himself from the chair and slid off it with a practiced ease, draining the wine class, smiling and both Cersei and Gendry, and then he waddled out, an unreadable look on his face. The door slamming behind him left a ringing silence. Neither mother or son spoke. Cersei turned away from him.
"Leave me," she snapped. "Just go away and leave me in peace."
Gendry fancied himself so used to this kind of response that he had grown an invisible armor against it. He was wrong.
"As you wish," he said dully, bowing even though she had her back to him, and then he left too, the door swinging shut behind him. As he paused outside, he thought he heard a muffled sob from within the room, but that was probably just his imagination.
Remember this is only Gendry's POV. Next comes Arya's… And it might be that she's feeling differently about the situation than Gendry perceives her to be. This first chapter is about Gendry's relationship with Arya, and his next POV will delve more deeply into his relationships with his family. Also, importantly: if you have any suggestions or ideas about this fic, please feel free to share them, here, or drop a message in my askbox on my blog. I've gotten some really lovely feedback and ideas from easymuse, and so I welcome input. Hope you like this new story =) *coughs* (i know I shouldn't be taking this on when I've got stuff unfinished but I couldn't resist)