A/N: Post 3x08. This is my Second Sons reply. I just have a lot of AryaxGendry feels. This is my why of combining their journeys. My instinct is to hate what's happening right now, but I'm not sure. This is me trying to figure it out. Spoilers for the RW, clearly.
Summary: She doesn't make a move like he's there, but she never does anymore. Her eyes are stony now, her skin always cold like his first winter. She sits on the edge of camp and she watches the Hound like she always does. Winter comes and the wolf princess and the noble bastard find each other. But they are both so drenched in blood it can never be the same again.
Disclaimer: Nothing belongs to me. Inspiration comes from the show Game of Thrones but all credit goes to GRRM and his world ASoIaF. No beta. Just me and my sadness.
He always finds her on the edge of the camp, watching. She's silent since he found her. But he supposes it wasn't him that found her, really. She would find him, always. Even when she refuses to look at him.
He sits down beside her. She doesn't make a move like he's there, but she never does anymore. Her eyes are stony now, her skin always cold like his first winter. She sits on the edge of camp and she watches the Hound like she always does.
"They caught some rabbits."
He's starting to learn the courtesies. He doesn't ask if she's hungry because she never is. Once when he caught her bathing he spotted her ribs through her translucent skin. He couldn't look her in the eye for a fortnight after.
He hopes she understands he's offering her food like all the high lords would, but she doesn't answer. She just stares as the Hound slashes his sword, parrying with one of the other young knights. He knocks the boy to the ground savagely like it isn't a game. Like this isn't practice.
Arya makes the first sound he's heard in awhile. She's disgusted and she gets up to leave him.
Gendry doesn't think it would matter. She never looks him in the eye anyway.
She starts to walk away from camp and it frightens him. Lady Sansa instructed him to make sure she never strayed too far. He can understand. He doesn't want Arya running away again either. She's too much like the lone wolf. He thought she had found her pack again, but then again, he knows that there's finality in that. Half of her pack is dead and they're never coming back.
Arya whirls around to face him, his feet in her distant footprints. She doesn't speak, she just stares him down like she always does.
He wishes she would hate him. It would be easier than her coldness.
"Come back," he urges. Her lips curl in something like a snarl and it makes his heart sink again. He's never been hurt the way that she hurts him every single moonrise.
"Your memory is so short."
It's the first thing she's said to him in ages and it makes his heart pound, even if it's with disdain.
"Your sister wants you to—"
"My sister is a little fool," Arya spits. Her eyes are drawn back to the man with his unique helm. Gendry used to have a unique helm but it got stolen.
Unique. He heard Lady Sansa use the word once. He thinks he understands it.
Gendry reaches for the girl before him but she snaps backwards like he's attacking her. He wonders how many times his heart is able to break.
He doesn't think it'll stop so long as she stays so very far away. He thought it was the worst when he heard about the massacre at the Twins. He doesn't think this is worse. But it could be. She's still a ghost.
She stalks away from him.
He doesn't follow.
She feels his eyes on her always and it exhausts her. Sometimes he sits next to her in silence. Sometimes he doesn't. But every day she is sick of him. She's tired of her anger she keeps inside and how she's some little lady again.
"I should have killed him when I had the chance."
This time she speaks first and she can tell he's surprised by his stupid blue eyes. But she's so very tired.
Steel rings against steel.
"We need him," Gendry says after a moment. Arya feels the familiar fury and she buries it again.
"He killed Mycah."
Gendry sighs and she resists the urge to push him in the snow. They aren't children of summer any longer and they aren't tramping around in the woods and following a brotherhood.
Her heart was torn all away a long time ago.
"Things are different now," Gendry says. "You said so yourself."
She wants to rip him apart. Her bones are too cold.
"He's a monster."
Gendry's quiet. Somehow, she knows what he's thinking. She's a monster too. That's what they made her into and she can't be unmade. But she's still not like the Hound.
"You didn't know Mycah."
"I know your sister," Gendry says. She thinks it's the first time she heard his voice so hard. She likes him better that way. She likes him strong like her slightest look won't blow him away like the wind. She hates his sadness. She blames him for it and for everything else. "And I know what happened."
"You weren't there."
"Neither were you," Gendry says. "But she said so. He saved her."
She doesn't let him finish. She wants him to shut up but he never does anymore. She liked him better when he didn't talk so much. They seem to have traded places. She talks less. He talks more. He almost sounds like a stupid lord now.
"And me?" Arya asks.
She wasn't going to. She doesn't like talking to him anymore. His blue eyes widen up at her as she cowers over his sitting form. She hasn't grown much. She likes it better when he's sitting.
"Did you remember me?"
Gendry slowly rises to his feet. She should push him down again.
"He didn't hurt you," Gendry said.
The cold makes her chest hurt. She shouldn't have said anything. She hates talking.
"No one can hurt me anymore," Arya says spitefully. Gendry takes a step back.
She hates him.
"I know." He almost sounds regretful.
"He can't be trusted," Arya says. "He was going to sell me away."
"To your family."
She hates that word now. Pack. A pack is what she has.
"I'll kill him," she vows. "No one came to save me and I'll kill him before anything else can take her away again."
Maybe she can love. Sansa doesn't smile anymore but sometimes Arya lets her brush her hair.
"Don't be stupid. He loves her."
This time Arya takes a step back. Gendry's eyes have never been so angry. She feels a tug inside her. She's frozen to the ground.
For the first time, she's confused.
"Why are you talking to me like that?"
Gendry refuses to meet her eyes. "My apologies, m'lady. For a moment I forgot I was too bloody lowborn."
For the first time Arya laughs and she takes vengeance in the fact that it scares him. He was angry but now he looks frighten. Her lips peel back in a mean smile. Like the wolf, she bares her fangs.
"You must be," she says savagely. "Ser Gendry Baratheon."
She walks away into the woods where no one can see her. Maybe one of those wights will come. Maybe the moon will rise and she'll howl so loud she can finally return to her true skin and run around with the rest of the wolves.
Then she won't be tormented with visions of fire and ice and scarred bastards.
She doesn't get very far. She wonders who was the smith that made that fancy helm. He was one of Joffrey's but now he belongs to her sister. She doesn't understand that.
"Another fight with your bastard?"
She doesn't know what he's doing out here.
"When I fight, I kill," Arya says.
"So do I."
"You didn't kill me."
"You didn't give me a reason to."
"And what about now?"
She thinks he's considering it. His teeth are yellow with decay. Sansa used to love pretty things. Arya doesn't now why she's so attached to this dog. He's not even close to replacing Lady.
"I told you before, wolf-girl," he says. "I'll give you one chance to kill me. You better finish it or I'll be coming for you."
Arya's instinct makes her unsheathe her sword. The Hound just watches her.
"I could put this through your eye and make it come out of the back of your skull," Arya says. "I'm not a child any longer."
"I know it."
She studies him. He knows she'd kill him if he'd let her.
"Would you let me?"
He doesn't answer and dread spreads through her stomach.
"You asked your sister," The Hound says. "About that day in King's Landing."
Arya's fingers wrap tighter around the hilt of her sword.
"Am I lying, wolf-girl?"
"Why would you do it?" Arya asks. She doesn't know why it's so important for her to know. It just is.
But he won't answer. He never does.
"Gendry's a liar."
Arya runs again.
Sansa's eyes are red when Arya enters the tent. Only when she's alone with her sister does she feel real guilt.
Sansa sighs in relief and relaxes when she sees her little sister. Arya's covered in dirt and practically blue from the cold.
"He almost went out looking for you."
Arya doesn't ask who. She doesn't have to. She just trudges towards her sister and kneels on the ground, putting her head on her lap. Sansa strokes her dark hair silently.
"They all leave me." Arya doesn't know where the admission comes from. She doesn't even know that she had the ability to feel it. She looks up. Sansa's eyes are sad.
"You leave too, Arya." Her voice is gentle Not at all like the girl-child Arya remembered. She wonders if Sansa thinks she's different as well. Arya knows she is.
"All I want is to go home," Arya says. Sansa takes a brush and removes all the brambles from her sister's hair.
"That's what we're doing," Sansa says. "That's why we're here. We're taking our home back."
"Just you and me," Arya whispers. "I don't care about all these others."
"That isn't true," Sansa says. "He likes to know when you return."
"I hate him," Arya says. "He's so afraid all the time. He's stupid and I never want to look at his face again."
"It must feel that way," Sansa says.
She doesn't know what that means. She doesn't know what that wistful tone her sister takes is. It almost sounds the way Sansa used to sound when she spoke of ballads and knights who rescued ladies.
"He's not afraid when you're away," Sansa says. "He's angry. He was so angry when he joined us. And then you came back."
And she hates him.
They have rabbit again. He doesn't sit by her. He sits far away, but she can feel his blue eyes boring into her. As if he has a right to feel betrayed by her, though she doesn't know why he would. She wants to throw a log at him. When she gets up, he isn't slow.
His hand is strong and she feels that tug again. It almost feels like longing, if she knew what that was.
His grip is tight around her arm and she never thought Gendry could have power over her ever again.
"You're not running."
It almost sounds like a command.
"As my lord commands."
He flings her away from him and her back hits a tree. She sees anger in him. And she feels it flare up in her too. She shouldn't like it so much.
"Don't taunt me."
"Why not?" Arya asks. "You taunt me."
"When?" He isn't desperate. He's demanding.
"Since the moment I saw you," she says coldly. Again. Since the moment she found her sister and the bastard who had sworn loyalty to her. "It must be nice to be in the red witch's brothel while I was watching my family get murdered."
He flinches. But he isn't afraid. His eyes flare.
"How was it, Gendry Baratheon?" Arya seethes, her feet making prints in the snow as she makes her way towards him. "How was the Dragonstone castle and making love to that red bitch? You never had so much luxury before, had you?"
She wishes he would hit her. Then she could feel something. But his hands crush her arms and her heart jumps to her throat. She's heaving and he sees his eyes flick down to her chest and up again to her face.
He's breathing hard too.
"Stop calling me that."
"Stop calling you what, my lord?"
His grip tightens.
She wonders what the camp sees with the two of them grappling with each other. She doesn't know. She doesn't even know what she sees.
"Aren't you the grand son of a king?"
"Aren't you the daughter of a high lady?" he asks.
"I was watching my lady mother and lord brother getting their heads cut off while you were off in your castle getting fucked." Arya doesn't realize she was crying until her wet cheeks start to freeze in the cold air.
"I was a boy," Gendry said. His voice was booming with anger. Her nails dug into his arms. "I was a boy in over my head and I had no idea the scars that it would give me."
"Do you want to see mine?" Arya demanded. "My father. My mother. My brother. All gone. My sister almost raped to death. And you."
She hits his chest with her fist.
"I wasn't going back to my family, you stupid bastard." She wishes she sounded fierce like the wolverine but all she sounds like is the little girl that she was. "I was going to the slaughter."
It's the first time she's felt scared in a long while. His big arms surround her with her back against a tree. She feels his hot breath and for the first time during this cold winter, she's warm.
"Don't you think I know that?" he asks gruffly against her ear. "Don't you know what it did to hear that the little daughter of House Stark was at the Red Wedding? Every time I thought of you, all I could see was you floating in a red river. All I saw was you dead. And everything was for nothing. I never knew I could have so much hate in me. I would bash in every skull of every Lannister, Frey, or even Baratheon I saw. I would have ripped out the red woman's throat for you."
She could feel his heart. It was beating against hers. She felt choked, gasping for breath.
Gendry fell to his knees.
But his arms still clung to her.
"Don't you leave me," Gendry said, his face buried in her neck. "Don't you run away. Don't leave me ever again."
Arya clung to him, their bodies entwined. Command thrummed through his veins and into her. She drank it up.
And she knew. She knew like Sansa knew. She didn't know how or why, but she did. She knew what he was saying, even when his words were something different.
"Gendry," she said against his skin.
He pulled away to look in her eyes.