Missing Moment after Phase 5 – Beauty: First Time

In which Arya's first Christmas without her father is terrible, but gets better.

XXX

She unfolded the paper and studied the writing on it for a long minute. Inscribed on the paper in the same block handwriting as the recipe for her smoothie were the words 'If you want me - I'm yours.'

Slowly, Arya rolled to her side and propped herself on her shoulder, so she could look down at her companion.

"Gendry?"

Blue eyes tinged with nervousness slowly turned towards gray.

"Does this mean what I think it does?"

He nodded slightly from underneath her.

XXX

He didn't know why he was nervous. However, as he looked in the bathroom mirror at his reflection, Gendry decided to put on a little more deodorant and brush his teeth.

You know, just in case.

This time, despite being almost exactly the same as so many of his visits, was fundamentally different, and he felt like he had to make a good impression.

As he swished water in his mouth to rinse the toothpaste out, he looked at his reflection again. Maybe the button up shirt was too much. Maybe he should put on cologne. Maybe he should have shaved this morning.

Maybe he should just get over it and go.

His parents told him he could drive their car, which was newer and in considerably better condition than his, but he wanted the comfort of driving his old green car with the one red door. Besides, he thought she'd like it more.

After a few minutes, he passed by the grocery store and pulled into the parking lot and thought for a minute, then got out and walked to the floral department. Flowers were good, right?

However, as he looked at the arrangements, knew she would hate all of them. A huge bunch of roses slowly dropping petals all over her dresser would drive her insane. Those big poofy ones would make her sneeze. And, though he figured they were flowers since they were in that section of the store, he couldn't even identify the plant in the corner, and accordingly gave it a wide berth.

Then, finally, as he shoved his hands in his pockets and was ready to admit defeat, he saw the perfect thing for her off to the side. He smiled and bought it right away, and set it carefully on the passenger seat beside him.

Since he had done something to distract himself for a few minutes, Gendry felt much calmer as he made the rest of the drive, but as he pulled into the driveway and parked, he started feeling weird again. He had been to the Stark home hundreds, hell, maybe even thousands of times, but this was so different that he felt awkward about it again, just like the first time he had come over, all those years ago.

Usually, when he came over, he would ring the bell, and Robb or Jon or Arya would clod down the stairs to open the door and let him in. Sometimes, he would even just walk in, but that still felt kind of strange to him. But now, Robb and Jon had moved out, and Arya was...or should be...or maybe she wasn't?

He held his recent purchase in his hand walked to the front door. He chanced a glance up at Arya's window, but there wasn't any movement inside. Maybe she was already downstairs, and would open the door for him. However, he rang the bell and the door didn't open immediately, which dashed that hope.

At that point, he just crossed his fingers and hoped that she would be the one to answer the door, not Sansa or...

Mrs. Stark opened the door and looked at him, puzzled.

"Hi Gendry...Robb and Jon aren't due to be here to visit for another week yet," she said in a consoling tone. She glanced at the plant he clutched in his hand and looked him in the eye again. "And Arya said she was going out tonight..."

"Uh...yeah," he said, unsure what to say. It was clear that Arya hadn't told her family, or at least her mother yet.

As if on cue, he heard the youngest Stark sister scream down the stairs, "MOM! IS THAT GENDRY? TELL HIM I'LL BE DOWN IN A MINUTE!"

Catelyn Stark winced at her daughter's volume, but pulled the door open further and stepped back to allow him entrance. He smiled as gratefully as he could and quickly rubbed his feet on the doormat before entering.

"Could I get you something to drink, Gendry?" she asked as she walked into the house. Gendry followed her and glanced up the stairway they were passing, but saw no evidence of Arya bounding down as usual.

Maybe she was second-guessing herself.

"Sure, water would be great," he heard himself saying as he passed the plant from one hand to the other.

"So, what brings you over here today?" Mrs. Stark asked conversationally as she handed Gendry a glass.

Arya had definitely not said anything to her mother.

"I, uh," he mumbled into the glass, then took a sip to give himself a moment to think. If Arya hadn't told their mother...then maybe this wasn't...maybe he had misinterpreted something? He glanced at the plant he had just placed on the counter and considered chucking it in the trash can, just in case. However, that would look peculiar to Mrs. Stark, who was staring at him, expecting more of an answer than a few mumbled nonsense words.

"I came over to see Arya -"

"He's here to pick me up," he heard a familiar voice from behind him say. "For a date."

Gendry turned before he could see Mrs. Stark's reaction to find that Arya had somehow materialized behind him. It seemed, for the first time since he had known her, she had walked rather than ran down the stairs, so he had not heard her coming.

It was clear that Sansa had been helping with her sister's preparations, as Arya was wearing makeup, which he was fairly certain she did not own, but had given her sister free range to pick her own clothing, as she wasn't in any sort of poofy yellow dress.

He grinned and looked at her, feeling as if he looked stupid, but he found he didn't care. After a moment, he reached to the side and grabbed the plant he had bought earlier.

"I got this for you," he said as he held it out.

For several long seconds, she looked at the tiny potted cactus he held in his outstretched hands, and Gendry began to regret his decision very much. Then, to his surprise and pleasure, she began to laugh and took it from him.

"I love it," she said through a chuckle, then carefully set the tiny pot on the windowsill.

Then, she looked at her mother, who was in turn looking at them curiously. "Yes, Mom, I'll be back by midnight," she promised, then, after a flash of a look up at him, she put her hand around his arm and steered him to the front door.

On the way, he waved to Sansa, who beamed at them as she made her own way downstairs.

Only once they were seated in his car did he feel himself relax.

"Nervous?" Arya asked him with a grin as she slid one leg underneath her, just like she had done a hundred times before.

"Maybe a little," he admitted.

"Why?"

He turned on the car and reversed out of the driveway. "Well, I've never taken you on a date before." He paused, then added, "Pipsqueak."

She grinned and turned to him, "Yes you have. And we're going to go out and enjoy each others' company."

He laughed as his own advice was given back to him, and forgot that he had ever been nervous in the first place.

A few minutes later, when they reached the turn for the movie theater, she pointed them in the direction of the park instead. He was lulled by her cedar scent and didn't mind at all when she pressed him against tree to show him just how much she enjoyed his company.