- Arya, House Stark; The Kingsroad
Hotpie and Romney were asleep.
Arya sat at the very back of the upper floor of the coach, slightly less lively than her companions below and in front. It had been deliberate. Although the seats at the back seemed stickier than the others and had suspicious holes revealing the soggy, stained sponge underneath, it was quieter, something that Arya was thankful for.
Arya had her forehead pressed against the cool glass, Gendry's feet occasionally wriggling in time with the coach's movements, where they lay crossed at the ankles beside her. Of the five seats at the back of the coach, Gendry was sprawled across four, in jeans and a long-dirtied white T-shirt from their travels, his hand bouncing precariously away from the floor with each bump the road brought. He had his first generation iPod Classic plugged in, with cracks and marks running down the edges; from where she sat, Arya could recognize the distinctive beat of Hall of Fame by The Script, playing to ears deafened by sleep.
As if Gendry Waters were such light a sleeper that merely looking at him would wake him – something Arya knew to be entirely untrue -, Gendry stirred slightly, the lamp-posts they were driving past illuminating his face in fluorescent orange every few seconds.
"Did Sleeping Beauty get his rest?" Arya said sarcastically, seeing Gendry quirk one eyebrow at finding her staring at him, propping himself to his elbows.
Not that Gendry knew Arya was a girl. To Gendry, Arya was Ari, a scrawny little boy with a high-pitched voice.
Gendry grunted as he pulled himself upright, rubbing his eyes.
"At least you know I'm beautiful." He muttered without humour, yawning and doing a small stretch that involuntarily had him stretching in his seat for a moment. "What about you? Is it your time of the month - that why you can't get any rest?"
Although Gendry's voice dripped with sarcasm, Arya froze in her seat, her eyes widening in horror. The Wall didn't take females – if Gendry knew she was a girl, anybody else could – and then she'd be caught and she'd never find her way back to Winterfell.
"What a stupid thing to say." Arya finally recovered, shoving Gendry as hard as she could. Gendry snorted at her feeble attempts; he had barely moved and Arya had only succeeded in fruitlessly pressing the palm of her hand against the taut firmness of his chest, felt even over his T-shirt.
"Offended?" Gendry asked brazenly, still grimacing as he stretched his arms out behind him.
"I'd have to be a girl to be offended, you prat." Arya snapped. In that moment, Arya couldn't be more thankful for popular culture considering boys constantly wear caps as normal; wanting to slap herself for being so foolish as to jump to her defences so quickly, Arya hid underneath her brightly emblazoned LA Lakers cap, her hair trapped tightly underneath.
"And I'd have to be an idiot to not notice that you're still a girl." Gendry told Arya smartly, settling comfortably against the window, his arms crossed over his chest as he watched her from the side. Arya opened her mouth, ready to insult him into silence – but, seeing her ready for a reply, Gendry easily continued. "If you're not, Ari, then how come I've never seen you do one?"
Arya stopped for a moment, wondering quickly to herself if she'd heard Gendry wrong. Do one? Did he mean a girl? Of course not. Travelling to the Wall, there was no time for –
Arya stopped as she saw where Gendry's hand lay suggestively in a fist, by his thigh.
"I don't need to do one." Arya replied quickly, wincing in anger at herself as Gendry rose his eyebrows. "I mean, I don't want to. Not now."
Arya felt anger spark through her, but not enough to dispel the current of fear that shot through her chest as Gendry rolled his eyes. She could feel her throat closing with fear – what good would it do, having escaped King's Landing, only to be forced to go back? Most likely, in the name of the one true King, Joffrey Baratheon? The thought alone made her feel sick.
She clenched her fists at her side, reminding herself of her stubbornness. No. She wouldn't be afraid. She wouldn't go back to that, for no other reason than not giving that ass Joffrey the satisfaction.
And... Maybe she trusted Gendry.
"You can't tell anyone." Arya murmured, glancing over at Gendry. He'd closed his eyes again and his head was resting against the window.
"They won't. Not from me." He told her calmly, his eyes kept closed.
Arya said nothing for a few moments, willing herself to not continue speaking. But – well, now that somebody knew she wasn't just some silly young boy with a growth problem, she didn't want to stop talking. She wanted somebody to know who she was, somebody to remember her as who she was rather than another nameless stranger on their way to the Wall, should anything happen on the Kingsroad.
Inhaling as deeply and silently as she could, Arya shifted in her seat. Unthinkingly, she pushed Gendry's legs to the floor and scooted further next to him, glancing furtively at the loud boys at the other side of the coach and the coach stairs.
"What're you-" Gendry began, frowning, before Arya shushed him. She was sick of keeping secrets, of feeling so burdened – if Gendry knew she was a girl, surely he could handle the information of... Well, the other aspect of her identity? After all, it was common knowledge between them that he'd spoken to Lord Stark before his – departure.
"My name's not Ari." Arya told him lowly, watching Gendry's face for any signs of panic, or betrayal. She thought herself an expert on being able to sniff two-faced liars out by now – being in King's Landing with the Lannisters had taught her well. "My name's Arya." Gendry stared at her expectantly, politely wondering of the relevance of their conversation, Arya knew. "Of House Stark."
Gendry's face suddenly froze in place, his eyes wide in horror.
Quickly, Arya shoved herself away from where their shoulders had almost been touching, glancing at him as she crouched behind the empty seat in front of her to pull the cap from her forehead. Long brown hair fell down to her shoulders, messy and wild – not much different from how it would be at Winterfell.
How it had been, before, in Winterfell, that was.
Gendry stared at her, apparently unable to move. Arya could feel him staring at her, could hear him attempting to form words.
Arya winced as she went to tie her hair back again. It hurt at the roots and she had enough of a headache as it was, listening to Hotpie and Romney's rubbish on a daily basis.
"Stark..." Gendry finally managed to say, before staring at her again. Arya paused, waiting for something, anything, so long as she had a reaction. "Your father – he – the traitor, I-"
"He was not-" Arya stopped, realizing her voice had risen. Glaring up at him from the floor, Arya continued, quieter this time – "He was not a traitor – he was never a traitor! Joffrey, Cersei... All of them, they're all liars!"
Gendry just shook his head, as if it were all too much to understand at once.
"So - so you're a highborn then." Gendry continued, as if Arya had said nothing at all. Arya could only watch as horror seemed to cloud Gendry's very aura – he leaned forward on his elbows towards her, as if he were trying to stare into her very soul. "You were the daughter of a Lord and were brought up in a castle..." Gendry suddenly groaned. "I've been pissing in front of you. And – oh, what I said earlier about doing one – damn it, I shouldn't have said any of that-"
"Gendry, it really doesn't matter, don't worry about it." Arya said quietly, rubbing her eyes from tiredness. Well, at least he hadn't shouted his response – nobody else had heard and for now, it seemed Gendry was more concerned with his own manners than the fact he was associating with Arya Stark, whilst she pretended to be a boy. "At least now you know. Just please don't tell, alright?"
Gendry shook his head slightly, glancing away, then back down at her again. Arya continued to tie her hair back again. If somebody at the front turned around and saw Gendry leaning down to talk to her, they were bound to ask why she was hiding behind a chair to tie her hair.
"I should be calling you m'lady." Gendry said stupidly after a few moments worth of silence, staring at Arya with a mixture of terror and curiosity.
"Do not call me m'lady." Arya scoffed instantaneously, stuffing the last stray strands of hair underneath her cap again. Arya was no lady; that was a term reserved for Sansa and her mother, not her. Even her father never – had never...
"Well, as m'lady commands."
Arya blinked, realizing a second too late that Gendry was mocking her.
Grabbing the nearest thing she could find – a half-empty, worn water bottle – Arya whacked Gendry upside the head as hard as she could. Once the plastic had made a resounding thwack noise against Gendry's skull, she glared at him, throwing the water in his general direction.
"Well, that wasn't very lady like." Gendry teased, his face finally splitting into a large grin as he laughed.
Just like that, Arya's fury was so overwhelming, she forgot she'd just told somebody the truth. Swinging her legs up onto the seats, the way Gendry had been sitting a moment before, Arya sent him a swift kick to his stomach and grabbed his iPod from where it had been resting nearby. Gendry merely continued to chuckle as she pressed play, not caring to check the new song; her anger amused him, though they were all facts, particularly that of her high-born status.
It only occurred to Arya when she was dreaming of home - of Winterfell and her father watching her tease Bran about his shooting - that Gendry had seemingly accepted her as a member of the House of Stark, and without much question. She wouldn't have even realized it at all, had she not relived her memories of Winterfell with two bright blue eyes watching her amusedly from the gate, invisible to her parents and her brothers – only visible to her, the body and face and amused eyes of a mechanic from King's Landing, one from her future come to watch her hidden past.
Disclaimer; I haven't read all of the books, though I do occasionally read spoilers and I watch the show religiously. Please bear with me in regards to names and family ties and whatnot; also, this is a modern adaptation, with my own twist on it. Although some things, like the Wall, are mentioned, they'll be explained later.
Originally, this was meant to be formatted slightly differently and with different perspectives, but as I was writing, it seemed fitting to end it where I did. I'm looking forward to writing it, so hopefully you enjoyed reading it, too!
Thank you for reading, if you did, and all comments (unnecessary and unproductive rudeness aside) are welcome. :)