a/n: I wrote this while I was supposed to be working on something else. ;) I hope you enjoy.
Dedicated to SponsorMusings, who read every single word of this one-shot fifteen times before I posted.
Gendry Waters tries to act tough around the other homeless boys in Flea Bottom. Like he's not afraid of anything, like he doesn't need anyone.
He's bigger than most of them, which helps. He's only had eleven name days but he already looks like a man grown, with a man's full height and fresh new stubble on his chin.
Gendry's strong, too. So strong that any boy who's foolish enough to swipe one of his few possessions rarely makes that mistake a second time.
But he misses her. Gods, he misses her.
He can't really remember her, of course. A bit of blonde hair. The flash of a crooked smile as she cradled him in her arms. Nothing more than fleeting images that might actually be nothing but the remnants of half-forgotten dreams.
Gendry lets himself think about her sometimes when all the other boys are asleep. But only then. They all miss their mums, of course, but he can't let them know he's no different than they are. That he's no stronger, really, than the weakest among them.
When he can't sleep he clings to the few precious images he has of his mother and wishes he could remember her name.
When Gendry learns that Arya is not only a girl, but also that girl, he panics.
"M'lady," he says, flushing scarlet. He bows his head and bends the knee, the way he'd been taught to do whenever highborn ladies entered the shop. He curses himself inwardly for having been so crude, taking his cock out to piss right in front of her and cussing like the lowborn bastard he is these past few months.
She's unimpressed. She kicks him in the shins, hard, and sticks her tongue out at him. She tells him to get up and not to call her "m'lady" ever again.
"I'm Arya," she insists. "Call me Arya."
But all the others have nicknames for her – "Lumpyhead" and so on – and Gendry quickly decides that it's actually quite funny to see her get all mad when they use them on her. Her face turns bright red, and her eyes narrow to slits, and she stomps her tiny little feet without even realizing she's doing it.
Gendry decides to keep calling her m'lady to her face just to rile her up, and so he does. She takes it as an insult and tells him he's stupid as she begins stomping her feet. It's all so funny that it takes all his willpower not to laugh at her.
One night, when everyone (including Arya) is asleep and there's no one around to hear him, he whispers her real name in the darkness. Just to test it out. To see what it feels like to say a highborn lady's name out loud.
His voice is barely above a whisper, but the word feels silken in his mouth. Like honey on his tongue.
Gendry says her name again, a little more loudly. And then a third time.
Saying her name to the darkness soon becomes a nightly ritual.
Gendry knows that it's wrong. Depraved, even.
He knows he should stop.
But no matter how much he berates himself during the day, night after night his right hand finds its way inside his soft sleeping pants of its own accord, almost as though it's a separate entity over which he has no control.
She's young, he tells himself during the day. Too young. And she's highborn, and a Stark, and –
But at night, when he closes his eyes, and with Arya's soft young woman's body lying not even a foot from his own, his mind invariably replays every moment they spent together that day in an endless loop. In his mind's eye he can see the gentle slope of her slender shoulders. The curve of her small breasts, hidden from sight by her tunic.
And then without even meaning to Gendry suddenly imagines what she must look like underneath her tunic. How she would look lying completely bare beside him. And he's hard as a rock in an instant.
Resigned, he tries to do it quickly so as not to disturb anyone. He always tries to think of other girls, other bodies, other breasts at first. But it never works. Images of Arya – without her tunic; sitting astride him, her small breasts in his face and her nipples in his mouth – flash before his closed eyelids as he wraps his hand around his swollen cock and starts to stroke himself. Slowly, at first, as he wars with his conscience. But inevitably his hand speeds up as the pleasure inside him mounts and he starts to feel like he might die if he doesn't come soon.
He always saves the final image – the one of Arya, naked and kneeling before him as he stands, her hand gripping the base of his cock as he thrusts roughly into her mouth – for last.
"Fuck!" he grits out behind clenched teeth as a thick white jet spurts out of him and onto his stomach.
As he cleans himself up he always peers over to look at her, hoping against hope that he didn't wake her while he was pawing at himself like an animal.
But she never wakes up.
Before coming to Harrenhal, Gendry never had much use for gods.
The Seven had always seemed like an unimaginative fairy tale to him. And the Lord of Light sounded like something frustrated parents must have made up just to get their brats to shut up and go to sleep.
But here, in this horrible place where men and women are being brought in by the wagonful every single day to live in unspeakable conditions and die screaming, Gendry isn't taking any chances.
"Please," he begs quietly every night after his work in the forge is finished for the day and he's back in his cell. He says it kneeling, his hands clasped together in front of him, the way he's heard you're supposed to pray so that the gods think you're serious about it. And he says it as quietly as he can so that the men sharing his cell cannot hear him.
"Please," Gendry says to any and every deity who might be listening. "Help us. Free her."
He doesn't ask for his own salvation. Because his own life isn't worth one goddamn. Never has been. Besides, even if he gets out of Harrenhal alive, once Queen Cersei's gold cloaks catch up with him he's a dead man anyway.
But Arya is a lady, no matter how filthy she might be right now, and no matter how hard she might fight him on this point. A lady with a family and a title and a future. And every day that she's here with him she grows a little more tired, a little thinner, a little weaker. He can see it in her eyes that her very will to keep going, to keep living, is being sapped, little by little, every single day that she's held prisoner here.
"Please," Gendry whispers to the gods, all the gods, any gods, his head in his hands now, tears forming in the corners of his eyes and rolling down his cheeks. "Free her."
The war may have ended years ago, but Arya hasn't really changed in any of the ways that matter.
Her breasts are a bit larger now. Heavier in his hands. Her hips are a touch wider at their fullest point. The girl Gendry used to berate himself for fantasizing about is a full-grown woman now.
But she's just as stubborn and fiery as she was the day they fled Kings Landing together, and he knows he couldn't love her any more if he tried.
She still won't let him call her m'lady (although he does it anyway, just to make her mad), and she doesn't like terms of endearment very much either. In their first year of marriage his attempts at sneaking "sweetling" and "dear heart" into casual conversation were met with stony silence and angry glares, much to his consternation.
But sometimes – when they're in their bed together at night, and he's between her legs and worshiping every inch of her body – she'll let her guard down briefly.
It doesn't happen often, but he knows it's happened when he sees it. Her eyes will soften in a very specific way, and he knows this is his moment.
"Darling," Gendry will sigh into her hair. Her breasts. That sweet juncture between her thighs. "Oh, darling."
At his words, she wraps her legs around his waist and curls her hands into fists in his hair. She pulls him down into a kiss so sweet it takes his breath away.
"Darling," she says back to him against his lips. He laughs with her as he pushes into her, his heart fit to burst with joy.