The whole thing is ridiculous, Gendry knows that. How silly to think that anything would change outside the Drift.
Arya loves him. Even if she can't say the words, he knows; has literally read her mind. Her love is absolute, paramount.
But when he catches her laughing a little too loudly at Jaime's jokes or in deep conversation with Sam, he can't help the old feeling that he isn't enough. There are other men, better men and why would she continue to love him when they might be an option.
It makes him miss the Drift, makes him miss the total certainty of knowing how she thinks, how she processes the world around her.
He over compensates. Eating her out in the supply closet after lunch; fingering her in the shower until the water runs cold, losing count of how many times she comes. Any chance he has at getting her off, he takes.
She notices. Of course, she notices.
He holds her a little tighter one night, after she had refused to let him finish her with his mouth; working on him until they came together.
"Maybe we should get married," she says, pulling her self tighter against his body.
He laughs, because how else is he supposed to respond?
"Maybe then you'll stop thinking I'm going to change my mind."
That wipes the laugh from his face and his mind. Because of course he wants to marry her, wants to bind her to him in every possible way. But he also knows her thoughts on marriage, seen in the Drift that she never wanted to get married, doing so would bring the law into things, make her sign her name Lady Stark. And Arya was not now, nor would she ever again be, Lady Stark. Gendry knew that, Gendry understood that, Gendry wishes he could change her mind.
So he ignores her statement all together, pretending to have suddenly fallen asleep.
They're making out in the bathroom, as Jaime and Brienne's wedding reception rages on the other side of the door. He has her hoisted on to the counter, his hand up her skirt, almost to his destination, when she brings it up again.
"Let's get married," she sighs. He stops, leaning back to see her face. She is flushed with arousal, her lips red and plump. He raises an eyebrow at her. She shrugs, her voice returning to normal. "Think about how kick ass our reception would be. Think about how great it would be to sneak off in the middle of it for some mind blowing sex."
He laughs, then grunts, pulling her head toward his, his hand moving to pull aside her underwear. She's already working on his fly. And when he's finally inside her, he takes a moment to breathe. Because this is all he will ever have of Arya, this is as close as they will ever be outside of the Drift.
He forgets about her proposal completely when she wraps her legs around his waist, pulling him in as deep as she can.
Gendry follows Arya wherever she goes. He'll always follow her. They travel around Westeros, never settling and he tells himself he's happy, that he would be content to do that for the rest of his life. When Jon asks them to return to the Shatterdome as guest teachers for a couple of weeks, Arya of course says yes and Gendry says yes, because Arya did. Jon has single handedly kept the Jaeger program alive, training new pilots in the off chance the Kaiju return.
Gendry hates him for it. Hates him for having a point. The idea he and Arya might have to fight again, put their lives on the line, risk losing her; it drives him crazy.
So when he comes to the training room to see Arya sparring with Aegon, he kind of loses his shit.
His fury is blinding and it's only the presence of the students that keep him at bay. Gendry knows, objectively, that Arya and Aegon are merely sparring to show a new fighting technique.
But it makes him want to hurt, makes him want to attack. So instead, he runs.
Their Ghost Drift must have re-activated, because Arya finds him seconds after he's closed the door to their room. She doesn't hesitate, taking a running leap at him, kissing him as fiercely as she can. And he can feel her thoughts, her commitment to him, her absolute need of him, knows she's pushing it at him through what remains of their Ghost Drift.
And it's enough, to calm him, to steady his heart.
"Marry me," she says, as he thrusts in to her, his orgasm hitting him hard. In that moment, still inside her, with so much pleasure coursing through his body, he almost says yes. Almost gives in, but then he meets her grey eyes and knows he can't. He loves her too much to ask her for such a big sacrifice.
The freshly reconstructed great hall at Winterfell is loud with the voices of the men of the North, all celebrating the birth of Rickon and Lyanna Mormont's son; when she tugs on his hand.
"Take a walk with me," she says and he follows, because he will always follow.
He doesn't notice that she has a bag slung over her shoulder until they're deep within the godswood, the weirwood tree looming over them. From it she pulls something Gendry can't quite make out, until she unfolds it.
It's a cloak, one of yellow and black that she holds out for him.
He takes it, staring down at the Baratheon sigil someone had stitched on to it, his mind refusing to process it. When he looks up, Arya has already tied a grey cloak around her own shoulders, the Stark coat of arms visible on her chest.
"Put it on, stupid." she says, but the insult has no sting. She's smiling, it's genuine, it's real. He ties the cloak around himself. She pulls him in front of the weirwood, before dropping his hand. He knows the smile on his face is ridiculous, knows this is a very serious moment, but he can't seem to stomp down the joy he is feeling.
This is an old tradition, long since abandoned in Westeros; so he doesn't know where to begin, waits for her to lead.
"I am Arya of House Stark here to be wed. Who comes to claim me?"
He isn't sure of the proper wording or the right way to do it, depending solely on instincts.
"Me," he says, reaching forward to brush aside the hair that has fallen over her face. "Gendry, a mere bastard with no last name. Will you take me?"
"I take this man," she whispers, the sincerity in her eyes enough to undo him. He moves to kiss her but she pushes him back with a laugh and a shake of her head. He gets it, not yet. She grabs his hand, clasping it tightly as she turns to the weirwood, the face almost looks as if it has changed, as if it's smiling with its gaping mouth. She kneels before it, tugging on his hand to join her. She bows her head in submission, in prayer.
Gendry does too, for the first time in his life he prays to the Old Gods. He thanks them for her, swears to love and protect her, vows to never let go. The wind ripples through the godswood, it almost sounds like laughter.
He's not sure how much time passes, but he feels Arya's hand tighten on his, pulling him to stand. He leans in to kiss her, but she laughs again, pulling back, shaking her head, pointing toward the cloak on her shoulders. He laughs, he had forgotten.
A raven quorks over head, as he leans forward, carefully untying the knot under her chin. He watches her shiver as he slowly removes the cloak from her shoulders, folding it, placing it as a sacrifice before the weirwood. Then, with even more care he removes the cloak from his own shoulders, moving forward to swing it around her.
He gets as close as he can with out actually touching her, tying the knot under her chin with great care, not wanting it to ever come undone. When he's satisfied, he looks up to see she is already looking at him. She laughs, he laughs and then her hand is around his neck pulling him into a kiss.
And he knows that this small, unofficial ceremony means more to her, more to him, than any legal document ever could.