AN: I know some of you really wanted the Arya chapter, but i decided to go with Gendry. Thanks to all my patient readers and reviewers. This one took me a while because, well, life.
Thank you John, as always, and please all of you, remember to review. I really appreciate all the feedback.
Gendry stepped out of the rain and into the house leaving behind him a trail of wet boot prints followed him all the way up the steps to his room. His clothes clung coldly to his frame and his long hair was stuck flat against his skull and neck, dripping with rain. He wiped violently at a strand on his forehead and began to fuss with the leather straps of his boots. The door was partly ajar so he could hear Lord Ollie's soft footsteps ascending the steps. The hinges on the heavy door creaked their protest as the man pushed it open with a soft knock.
"A girl was here to see you earlier." he stepped inside. "I sent her down to the forge, but I'm not sure she-"
"I saw her." Gendry cut him off as he peeled off the layers of clothes one by one and dropped them wetly by his feet.
He hated addressing Lord Ollie in such a crude tone, but there were days when he grew annoyed of the man and his cheerful, patient nature.
I still do not trust him.
Even when all the man had ever bestowed upon Gendry was kindness. He took him in when Davos freed him of the red priestess and Dragonstone and his deadly fate. He took him in with no questions and expected nothing in return. But Gendry was so suspicious of everyone and everything that it was so easy to question even those kind actions. Were they kindness, or something else?
A way to gain his trust, perhaps. A way to trick him into a false sense of security.
Perhaps he was just stupid to doubt that honourable men still existed, and that Lord Ollie was one of them. One thing that would never change though, even if Lord Ollie turned out to be as godly as he appeared.
He is still a highborn.
"Cat, her name was."
Gendry's head snapped to Lord Ollie. "Her name is Beth."
"A bald, skinny, blind girl with pox scars? The girl that came down to the forge. It was Beth."
Lord Ollie tilted his head to one side with a perplexed look teasing his features. "Her hair was shaved off, yes, but she was not blind, and she had no scars. She said she was your friend."
"I don't have friends. And I don't know any Cats. Just Beth. A blind beggar girl named Beth."
"Maybe she lied about her name." Lord Ollie offered.
"Did she lie about being blind too?"
"People have more pity towards the blind, the crippled and the ill. I'm not calling your friend a liar, but perhaps it was a trick to-"
"She's not my friend. And people have little pity on anyone." Gendry turned his back to Lord Ollie and began untying the laces on his breeches.
"She works for Brusco. I've seen her before, pushing his cart of clams and mussels down the street."
"I'd like to undress in peace, please." Gendry shot back at the man, hating how much like a snobbish highborn he sounded.
"Of course." Lord Ollie said apologetically. Gendry heard the sound of the man's skirt sweeping across the floor as he turned for the door and stepped out of the room. He exhaled sharply as soon at the door closed.
Not an hour ago, he had been down at the forge finishing the etchings he was working on to Beth's walking stick.
A walking stick for a liar. "I don't need it anymore." Her words echoed in his head.
He had only seen a flash of her brown tunic as she darted out the door, but he sprinted after her and saw that it was Beth, running up the steps as if the death himself were after her. He tried to call after her. He tried to follow fruitlessly, for he tripped halfway up the steps and nearly fell.
If what Lord Ollie said was true, then Cat and blind Beth were the same person, and all this time, she had been pretending. For what?
Gendry didn't care. He knew two things, that she was a liar and that the fact should not be upsetting him as much as it was.
He slipped into a simple pair of house breeches and a thin shirt and spent the rest of the day trying to distract himself from thoughts of the lying girl and her unfinished walking stick. I should have been working on fixing those doors instead.
It was pointless though. Tam was in a terribly quiet mood during their lessons, and during supper, Lord Ollie tried to make as little conversation as possible. The storm retuned that evening and with the rain falling hard and mercilessly outside, there was no way to escape the maddening silence of the large house.
His night was a restless one too, and Gendry could not figure out why he had trouble finding sleep. His thoughts found Kings Landing, and what vague, foggy memories he had of his mother. When he woke the next morning to the distant roar of the Titan's morning herald, the memory of his dream was fresh and vivid and real as the dim light that bled through the shuttered windows.
To his surprise, it was not Melisandre he had dreamt of, but Beth. She had the walking stick he made for her and the binds she usually wore over her eyes were gone as were the pox scars. What he was left to state at was a missing face. There was not a hole where the face should be, there was simply no face. No eyes. No lips and no nose. She spoke and the words were loud and clear, but no lips moved, and Gendry tried to find he source of the sound. She was telling him a story about a basket heavy of nuts that fell from her hands and broke. Nuts spilled all over the street floor for people to step on and ruin. All Gendry could pay notice to was the missing face. It terrified and oddly, saddened him a little.
Hs eyes focused on the outline of the shuttered window; he still felt the sadness and the terror he felt in his dream. He clenched his jaw and sighed. Damn you Beth... you and your lies.
"Cat of the Canals." He brought up as casually as he could manage as he broke his fast with Lord Ollie later that morning. "You said you know who she works for?"
If she came looking for me here and at the forge, she must need something. I just want to know what.
"Brusco." Lord Ollie replied in a tone as casual as Gendry's. "He's a fishmonger. You can find him below the Drowned Town."
"Brusco." Gendry echoed with a nod.
He made a quick stop at the forge after breakfast to finish the last of the etchings on the walking stick. It was hers after all. He had no use for it, so he would give it to her whether she needed it or not.
Finding Brusco was not difficult. The walk took him longer than he expected but when he finally made it to the street he'd been directed to by a man in a barge, he found a man with the crooked back ducking under a stone arch of a crumbling stone home. He was accompanied by a girl. When Gendry asked for Brusco, he considered Gendry suspiciously before taking a step forward.
"I'm looking for Cat."
"Cat never came back last night." the girl besides Brusco said, but when the man shot her a warning glare, she cast her eyes to the ground.
"She comes and goes." the man struggled to say. "She left for some long months a while back. I thought her dead, but then she came back. No hair and skinnier than this one here." The man shook the meager girl besides him by the shoulder. "I don't know when she will be back. She may be gone for a few days. She may really be dead this time. Last night's storm claimed several lives. Try the mortuary if you're that eager to locate her." he told Gendry dismissively and stepped inside his house.
Gendry started up the steps to the main street, walking stick at hand. He would go to Pynto and ask him if he'd seen her. He was almost sure Beth did a lot of her begging at his...
"She's not dead."
Gendry turned. It was Brusco's girl.
"Where is she then?" his words puffed out of his mouth in the cold air. He slowed his pace, allowing the girl catch up.
She came up beside him and they strolled down the street in silence until they were a decent distance away from her street, which branched out in a nearly parallel direction from the main road they were on. The girl looked nervous and would not stop glancing towards her house. "That is what you came to tell me. You know where she is?" Gendry snapped impatiently.
She licked her lips, clearly struggling to find a way to say whatever it is she was trying to say. Gendry turned his body to face her.
"I'm not too certain." she began, taking a deep breath. "Cat is very closed. Her eyes reveal little. All I ever see in them is ice. A dangerous cold."
"Danger? Is she blind?"
The girl frowned, clearly confused. "No." she turned to her house once more.
"Was she ever?" she shook her head. "Do you know where she is then?"
"There are nights, after my father falls asleep, when I slip out of the house to meet a boy. When Cat came to us, I saw her creep out at nights too; but not to meet a boy. We followed her once, this boy and I. The night was foggy so she did not know we followed her. She led us all the way up to the House of Black and White."
"The House of Black and White?" The name bothered Gendry for some reason.
"It's a temple. Cat always had a darkness about her. It really did not surprise me much. Some nights, my sister and I would hear her growling in her sleep. Then there was that list."
Every hair in the back of Gendry's neck stood at that word.
They both turned to the steps that descended to the small alley behind Brusco's street. There stood a young girl, skinnier than Beth, if that was possible, glaring at them.
"I must go." the girl, Brea, told him as she turned for the steps. Gendry caught her wrist with his free hand and spun her to face him. When her wide, terror stricken eyes met his, he realized just how tightly his grasp was and he let her go.
"What list?" he demanded.
Brea shook her head with a nervous shrug. "Just a list. A list she whispers at night. A list of names." She turned away but Gendry grabbed her wrist once more, this time gently.
"Do you remember the names?" he pleaded. "Any of them? Please?" he dared to ask.
Deep inside his stomach, a feeling stirred and struggled to be freed. Gendry didn't let it get the best of him though. No feeling anything.
"I don't remember any of them." The girl pulled her hand from his and clutched it to her chest.
"Brea!" the younger girl called again.
"The House of Black and White." Brea whispered to him before running off.
Gendry sighed, his chest heavy with something unknown. He would not let it be known. He forbade himself from thinking it.
A stone bridge took him to a tavern where a tall girl with blonde hair and two missing teeth gave him directions to the temple.
The grey temple stood tall and menacing on a rocky hill. The climb up its many steps brought him before a pair of tall doors; one black and one white. He banged on them thrice and waited. His gaze wandered across the water to the temple of the Lord of Light, standing tall and red in its own hill. Gendry allowed himself a shudder.
Behind the black and white doors before him no sound could be heard. No sign of life. No music. Nothing. He tried again and waited, longer this time. On his third attempt, he called out in the common tongue of Braavos but still no one came.
"Damn!" Gendry pushed and pulled at the door but they did not give. What sort of temple kept its doors locked? He noticed to his right, the steep steps that led down to a covered dock where an old man was carefully untying his small boat.
Gendry darted down the steps, taking them two at a time. He would ask the man how to gain entry to the temple.
Suddenly, one foot fell heavy on one of the steps and it rocked loose, slipping out of its space. Gendry fell on his side and the walking stick clattered besides him before rolling off the side and dropping into the water with a heavy splash.
The man on the small dock must have noticed, for he called up at him in a concerned tone. Gendry didn't catch a single word he said though. The man's voice was just a blur of muffled sound behind him, and the splash created by the walking stick a fading echo in the air. The only thing that was real and clear was the cold pain biting at his side where the sharp steps had dug into his flesh.
He turned with a pained groan, careful not to fall over the edge like the walking stick had, when the space the loose stone step had slipped out of caught his eye.
With one scraped hand he pulled himself closer to get a better look and make sure the pain was not causing him to imagine what was not really there. But as he came closer and gaped into the hole on the floor, he saw it clear and real.
One hand kept him from falling over the edge and the other reached into the shallow hole to pull out the item that confirmed his earlier suspicions.
When Brea spoke of Beth, or rather Cat and her dangerous eyes and her list, Gendry had used every bit of will power he could conjure to keep his mind from even considering the possibility. He had, for a brief moment, allowed himself to consider it back when he had first met Beth and had decided that it would never happen again.
But as he curled his fingers around the small hilt of Needle and he felt the burn of tears in his eyes he allowed himself to consider; allowed the emotions to wriggle free.
"Are you hurt?" the man's voice called a few steps below him. "Are you alright?"
Gendry shook his head, his unblinking eyes set on Needle.
"No." he whispered. "I'm not. I'm not alright."
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