Author's Notes: This is one of my favorite things that I've ever written. I just really love Baratheons ok?
Disclaimer: GRRM owns all of these characters and also my soul.
A Legitimate Matter of Blood
"I don't… I don't think it's supposed to be this tight."
"Tight? The boy doesn't even know when clothes fit him. We've got a lot of work cut out for us." Lord Renly Baratheon leaned in closer. "If you want to see some clothes that are tight, just look at your father."
Gendry looked around the room at the three men standing before him. Two were lords and one was a king – all three of them were apparently his new family that he didn't really know what to make of. One day he'd just been an orphan working as a blacksmith's apprentice, hoping to make the best of what little life he had. The next day, he'd been informed just who his deadbeat father was. And somehow or another, he'd managed to find himself being legitimized, with a new name and House and everything.
It was all very complicated and confusing; and he did his best to not think about it, lest he wanted his head to hurt some more.
Well, Gendry tried not to do as Lord Renly muttered under his breath, but Gendry couldn't help but look at his father. Robert Baratheon, the king, was quite fat, but apparently he'd looked nearly identical to Gendry at his age. All that did was make Gendry worry that he was going to end up fat when he got older, but neither Stannis Baratheon nor Lord Renly were fat, so he supposed he'd just have to be careful. He dropped his eyes to the ground, unable to keep from the habit he'd acquired as a child when around highborns. You're a highborn now too, stupid, he thought. Only, despite the clothes they gave him and the fact that he lived in the Red Keep now, he didn't feel like a highborn. He still felt like a bastard.
He still felt like just himself – just Gendry, not Gendry Baratheon or even Gendry Waters.
"I look stupid," Gendry finally settled on as he caught sight of his reflection again. Lord Renly had insisted on buying him a new outfit for the arrival of Lord Stark and his daughters. He'd hated the idea of it, but hadn't even bothered to protest. At least this time Renly had gone on his own. The first time, Gendry had gone with him, in order to get his measurements done, and it had been a nightmare. He never wanted to go shopping with his Uncle Renly or Ser Loras Tyrell ever again. Not only had he felt out of place in a shop filled with clothes that cost more than he'd made his entire life, but he'd felt like a third wheel with his uncle and his uncle's friend.
Still, Renly laughed, all good-natured and cheerful. That much could be said. He was the nicest of the whole lot and did his best to make sure that Gendry was at least somewhat comfortable with everything but clothing. "You don't look stupid. You look handsome. All the girls will be fawning over you." There was a strange look about the smirk on his face. "Maybe even some of the boys too."
Gendry flushed a color that looked painfully similar to Lannister crimson.
"Nearly five and ten and still blushing at the thought of a romp in the sack!" King Robert guffawed deeply and pat Lord Stannis on the back, a little harder than was necessary. Stannis looked quite affronted and glowered at his older brother. "Sure this one isn't yours?"
"You're the only one with bastards," Stannis replied through gritted teeth. He always seemed to speak like that. When Gendry had first met Lord Stannis, it had been in Tobho Mott's armory shop, back when Gendry had still just been a bastard. Stannis had been the first one to recognize who Gendry was, though it had been the late Lord Jon Arryn that had told the king about his bastard son. Gendry could still remember the way Stannis has ground his teeth upon first looking at him.
Robert placed his hands on Gendry's shoulder. "He's not a bastard anymore, Stannis," the king pointed out in a low, protective grumble. It was strange thinking that the king might feel protective of him when no one had ever protected him before. He'd only had himself after his mother's death. Though Gendry was tall for his age, he was still not as tall as his father. He had a few years left to grow, of course, so maybe then, he'd be just as tall. Stannis and Renly were tall as well. It was a Baratheon feature apparently, along with black hair and blue eyes. He always felt strong and tall, older than his age, when around other kids, but when he was with these men, he felt much like a child. These were all men grown, though Renly only had about seven years on him. Gendry was still a boy, a king's boy.
Gendry cleared his throat, causing Robert to step to the side slightly, and cast them a nervous glance. "Maybe, uh, maybe it isn't proper of me to, you know…to be at the welcoming feast when Lord Stark and his van arrive…" All three Baratheon brothers looked at him, which only made him feel even more nervous. He tugged at his collar, feeling hot under the stuffy material. "I mean, I'm not…you know, I'm not exactly proper and…well-mannered and all that sort."
Robert snorted, which wasn't proper or well-mannered at all, but he was the king, so he could do whatever he liked. "Then I hear you'll get on well with Ned's youngest daughter. Apparently she's a wild one."
Renly gave him a complacent smile. "You're more well-mannered than most people, Gendry. Besides, it'll be another week before they arrive, plenty of time to review lessons on etiquette and dancing and such." Oh, great, there would be dancing. That didn't make him feel any better in the least bit, even with a week of practicing. He'd rather be in the armory, beating a hammer against a burning sword, than prancing around in a room. He'd rather be wearing that old leather apron and his old dirty clothes than these stuffy clothes. His father didn't look too pleased to be in them either, but that was probably because he preferred dallying about naked with women.
"It would seem a slight to House Stark if one of the princes decided to not make an appearance," Stannis added in a no-nonsense tone. He didn't look too pleased with the idea of Gendry being at the feast either. Well, it was either that or he just didn't want to be at the feast. His father said that Stannis wasn't one for parties or feasts or anything remotely fun – that all he did was grumble, make pessimistic comments, and look down on fun. Gendry was more than certain that he didn't care for the type of fun that his father did, but he said nothing on the matter and just smiled and nodded his head whenever things like that were brought up.
"The Queen won't be happy about it," Gendry sighed, deflating on the spot.
Then again, the Queen wasn't happy about anything when it came to Gendry or even her husband period. Whenever he caught sight of her looking at him, it was only with pure venom in her green eyes, as if she hoped to poison and kill him on the spot with just a glare. It made him uncomfortable, to say the least, but he didn't want to say anything bad about the Queen, so he kept it to himself and didn't tell his father or anyone. One of the biggest problems he'd come across since being pulled into this family was that he never felt like he could trust anyone. Even when he'd lived on the streets as an orphan, he'd had friends that he could tell secrets to, even if he hadn't really had any big secrets. In the Red Keep, Lord Varys the Spider seemed to know everyone's secrets, whether they liked it or not; and so Gendry thought it best to just not speak up at all. If he didn't say anything, then how could anyone ever know?
"Bugger on Cersei," Robert dismissed gruffly. "You're a Baratheon. Everyone can see that plain as day. It wouldn't have been right to just waste you on the streets in that little armory shop."
What about all your other bastards? Gendry couldn't help but think. What's so special about me and not them? Why am I a Baratheon and why aren't they?
Those were thoughts that Gendry kept to himself. It sounded terrible, but every night since he'd laid in that plush bed and not the cot in the back of the armory, he'd had to remind himself of how lucky he was. He wasn't just an orphan boy anymore. He may not have had a mother, not really, but he had a father now. He had a home. He was a Baratheon. He could have anything or anyone he wanted. He would never want for anything, never be cold, never go hungry ever again. He was a prince. That was a far-cry from a lowly blacksmith, even if he had been talented. And still, there were times when he longed for that simple peasant life. He longed for privacy, for simplicity, for the boring every day nothings that he couldn't have now. The only time he was truly alone was when he went to the privy and even then he felt smothered.
Everyone wanted to talk to him. Everyone wanted to help him. Everyone wanted to meet this new Baratheon boy.
But they didn't really want to – they just acted like they did because it was expected of them and because he was royalty. The people here weren't really his friends. The only things that were real were his family. Robert was his father and Renly and Stannis were his uncles. He had a little cousin named Shireen by Stannis as well, though they hadn't met yet. The only other brother he knew about was Edric Storm, because he'd been acknowledged, but not even Edric, who was of noble birth, had been actually legitimized yet. Gendry had been stupid enough to ask the king about Edric; and the king had just given him a smile that suggested he thought Gendry was being thick and just said, "All in good time, my boy, all in good time." But why had it been Gendry's time and not Edric's? Gendry thought for sure that Edric would have made a better prince than him, even if he was younger.
"It'll be fun, you'll see," his father told him, all confidence. Robert Baratheon was the type of man that loved having fun, even if it meant possibly killing someone. That was what Stannis had grumbled about at least. The king ruffled Gendry's hair, making it look normal. Gendry couldn't remember ever combing his hair before, but now he had to do it every day, and he thought it looked a bit strange. Renly had even commented that he might grow it out, though Gendry preferred to keep it short like Stannis. Well, except he had more hair than Stannis, who was already going bald.
Despite his doubts, Gendry forced a little grin onto his face. "Fun, yeah. I've never met a Northerner."
"Ned will like you," Robert told him, which was at least a little bit reassuring. Eddard Stark was the Warden of the North and Lord of Winterfell. Gendry was rather hopeful that the man, his father's best friend who had helped win the Iron Throne, wouldn't dislike him. "The only thing that could possibly upset him is if you try to bed one of his girls, I wager."
Gendry's grin fell quickly. "I would never." He glanced at Renly, who wore an amused look, and Stannis, who looked as if he didn't believe Gendry. All Gendry could do was shake his head quickly. "I wouldn't dare dishonor any lady."
His father winked at him. "Then we'll make sure you don't mix beds with a lady then, eh?"
Gendry could have told the king that he didn't want a whore, but his words would've fallen on deaf ears. King Robert was set on making a man out of Gendry as soon as possible. Every time it was brought up, he would go silent and just wait for the moment to pass. The only problem was that it was brought up more often than not, especially when the king was drinking. "Like father, like son," he'd laugh, and Gendry would laugh weakly in return and then stare at his food as hard as possible. It wasn't that he didn't like girls. It was just that, well, he didn't really know how to deal with them. He had been taught to never speak to highborn girls and so he'd spent most of his time staring at the ground when ladies came about. Prostitutes just made him uncomfortable. He thought it was important that a girl actually want it, and not just for coin. Try telling King Robert Baratheon that though. He was a gift to women and so his son would be as well.
I'm going to end up as sour as Lord Stannis at this rate, Gendry thought with an inward sigh.
"Come on, let's leave the boy be," Renly said, as if sensing the sullenness that had overcome Gendry. He always seemed to be easygoing, even when everyone else wasn't. He was still young though, only one and twenty, so he made all the jokes he could while Stannis called him childish. No one dared call the king immature though. "You're going to make him blush worse than a maid." At this point, Gendry didn't even try protesting the fact that he'd never been with a woman. He just accepted defeat. "We've got a lot of preparations and decisions to make before the Starks arrive."
"You mean you two have a lot of decisions to make," Robert corrected, picking up a goblet of wine. His squire, Lancel Lannister, had made sure to fill it up with a pitcher to spare before the king had shooed him out of the room. There had been thought that Gendry might take Lancel's place as Robert's squire, but Gendry had somehow managed to convince them that that wouldn't be right since he was Robert's son. That and he didn't know a thing or two about swordfighting, being a knight, or any of that stuff. It had fallen upon Stannis to teach Gendry or, well, Robert had made it fall upon Stannis at least. "I've got important things to do."
Stannis rolled his eyes. "I do not think whores count as important things to do, Robert."
"So says the man that lies with his wife only once a year on a full moon," Robert replied, laughing heartily before finishing his glass of wine.
Lord Stannis looked like he wanted to say something terribly rude, but instead he just grinded his teeth and looked back at Gendry with such a heated glare that it startled the younger boy. "Your lesson will be at five sharp. Do not be late."
"Yes, m'lor– I mean, yes, my lord." It took everything in Gendry to remember himself and speak properly. He'd gone around calling everyone "m'lord" his first week so much that Queen Cersei had made a quip that there was a new Beggar Prince. King Robert had smacked her for that, since it apparently had something to do with the Targaryens. And if there was one thing the king hated more than small council meetings, it was Targaryens. Gendry learned quick from the light bruise on the Queen's face to never mention them. He hadn't thought it proper of his father to do that, but no one said anything, and so he hadn't either. Still, it was hard to remember to say "my lord" and not "m'lord" like a lowborn.
Stannis gave him one more passing look before storming out of the room. Gendry wasn't quite sure why Stannis seemed so irritated by him – maybe it was because he was still a bastard in Lord Stannis' eyes – but the man never treated him differently from anyone else, which Gendry liked. Stannis treated highborns and lowborns alike in that they all seemed to aggravate him.
Renly smiled pleasantly. "I'll see you at supper, Gendry. Don't let Stannis bother you too much. You'll find out soon enough that he's always in a foul mood and nothing solves it, especially not family time. We'll go do something fun tomorrow that doesn't have to do with getting beat with a stick or whoring about, I promise."
As long as it wasn't shopping again or dealing with lords and ladies of the court, Gendry would be happy with anything. That was what Renly was helping him with. Gendry nodded his head; and Lord Renly left the room, so that only Gendry and King Robert remained. It was somewhat startling at how much Gendry looked like his father. Everyone always commented on how Gendry was the spitting image of Robert Baratheon at his age and how remarkable it was. There was not a hint of his mother in him, that blonde woman that sang to him when he was sick and said that his father would beat him when he was bad. Gendry wouldn't dare do anything to upset the king though – or at least he'd do his damned best not to. It was hard to tell with someone when they were in their cups.
With one hand holding a cup of wine, Robert put his free hand back on Gendry's shoulder. "You're going to make a fine Baratheon, a true one. I hate to say it, but I feel like you're more my son than Joffrey or Tommen. They look nothing like me and act nothing like me." Gendry thought that was rather unfair of the king to say. From what he'd seen, Prince Joffrey was rather keen on pleasing his father and tried acting like him whenever he could. They both had a very proud streak in them – and a vicious one as well – but Gendry said nothing and just looked at his father. "Things can get sticky when bastards are legitimized, but I know I made the right decision with you."
"Thank you, Your Grace," Gendry said humbly, hoping against hope that he sounded earnest.