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all these worlds within words

Chapter Text

The pep rally was in full swing. Robb was down with the other basketball players, Sansa and Margaery perfectly in sync with all the other perfectly made up cheerleaders as they rounded off another chant with a flip and hair toss. She hadn’t seen Bran or Jon, but they were probably in their respective class sections, freshman and senior, like Arya should have been in the sophomore section.

Should have been.

Instead, with a quick detour to the bathroom and then some subtle crowd dodging (aided by her slight height), Arya had found her way to the shadows under the bleach. She squinted around the nasty Nike’s in front of her and her eyes flicked over the senior section again. She finally saw Jon, sitting uncomfortably between his friends--Grenn and Pyp?-- as they laughed and cheered. Samwell looked only slightly more at ease than him...slightly. Who she didn’t see was more important though, and a scowl formed on her face.

Turning, she almost screamed when she felt herself collide with a body, but then a familiar voice was whispering in her ear.

“Shhh...a girl keeps quiet and friends may enjoy the pep rally for once, yes?”

Arya nodded and Jaqen took a step back, his hand finding hers and leading her to the wall. “You’re late” She pouted as she followed.

“A teacher asked a man to stay behind and discuss an assignment. Truly, it was not intended to make a girl worry so.”

Arya blushed and pinched his arm. “I wasn’t worried, I was annoyed!” It was true. Jaqen was probably the most capable person she knew, and the one person she never had to worry about.

He would never know that she did worry about him. She would rather die than admit that. The jerk wouldn’t appreciate it, he’d just mock her. More than he already did.

The jerk in question chuckled. “A man apologizes. Perhaps he could make up for lost time?”

“I don’t know, I’m not sure you are capable of that…” Arya arched an eye at him. “Maybe I should just go back to my seat---Ugh!”

Quick as a snake, Jaqen lifted Arya and pinned her against the wall, his lips just breaths from hers. “Is a girl certain?”

She scowled, eyes flicking from his lips to those amazing blue eyes. “Shut up” She whispered, shifting more comfortably against him and digging her hands into his hair, capturing his gorgeous bottom lip in her mouth. He sighed against her mouth, and pressed even closer.

Later, when her classmate asked her how she enjoyed the pep rally, Arya could honestly tell her “I never knew how energetic they could feel.”

Chapter Text

It was cold.

Not the cold that Arya had grown up in, not the chill that suffused her life every day nor the frost of her nights. It wasn’t the comforting snow or the beautiful dangerous ice that crept through her childhood.

It was cold, a blustery, depressing cold that crept under her skin and gripped her heart.

“There must always be a Stark in Winterfell.”

And Sansa couldn’t protect herself. Arya knew the Northern armies would defend their gentle Queen with all they had, but Arya knew she was better than a whole army.

Especially with the best of the best (Jon and that foolish Clegane and the brash Brienne and all their trusted and untrustworthy allies and the dragons) fighting undead armies that didn’t even bleed.

She shivered, and stared off into the dying sunset. No, Sansa and Bran were in Winterfell, and she would keep them safe.

___

It was burning, not the Kings Landing heat that was hot and muggy and caused sweat to drip down each and every awkward crevasse of her, nor was it the Braavos heat that gave her the first sunburn she had ever acquired.

It was a burning from the inside out, a rippling heat that seared her and caused her to twist in pain, would cause her to scream if she had any moisture left in her throat to create the noise.

Tender hands pressed to her side, her forehead, her arms. “Sh, lovely girl, shh.”

Maybe the hands were gentle to anyone else, but to Arya they were rough, pressing her overheated flesh to the breaking point as she was tilted and a cup pressed to her lips. As soon as the liquid hit her tongue and throat, she found the strength to scream, spewing the brew out, feeling it dribble down her cheeks.

“Foolish girl!” Someone hissed out, and a moment later cool lips were pressing against her own, begging her to just obey, to just listen.

For him, she would try.

__
It was cold, the feel of the blade against her arm even as she twisted to avoid the impact, instead letting it slide across her skin, the impact frozen in time for a moment before a line of blood oozed out, not that she could feel it. Arya lunged, her remaining knife finding the skull of the enemy.

 Assassin, traitor, it made no difference now. Her sister was bleeding but breathing, and the threat nothing more than a dead man soon to be consumed by flames. Her brother was on his way back, an army on his heels, and soon she would have plenty more wounds inflicted, and many would be cut down by her Needle. She wobbled towards her sister and the man tending to the bleeding Queen.

Her arm burned, and she wheezed out his name, seeing dread in his clear blue eyes as she shakily said, “I can feel the cut…”

____

It was hot. She snuggled closer, letting her warmth infused limbs trail slowly over the object next to her. Her fingers curled against skin, and she forced her uncooperating eyes to open.

The skin belonged to someone she had never expected to see again, let alone this far north. His red and white hair was resting against the wall, and what she had grabbed was his hand, the only part of him under the blanket with her. She was curled completely to his legs, and her face rested against his arm and thigh.

“Wh...What?”

“Easy, lovely girl. Let it come naturally.” He reacher his other hand across his body and gently moved her sweaty hair from her face. She sighed and laid her head back down.

They sat there in silence for a few moments, and eventually she remembered. The fight. The one who jumped from the shadows and took her sister aside as Arya fought. The cut on her arm from a poisoned blade. The fire under her skin.

Arya writhed her way up, shivering as the drafty room’s air hit her sweaty skin, and grasped Jaqen’s shoulder. “You’re here. Why are you here?”

He said nothing, just watched her silently, the hand he had used to brush her hair he now pressed against her forehead consideringly, and nodded to himself.

“Jaqen.” She squeezed his shoulder as hard as she could in her groggy state. “You’re at the end of the world. There’s a good chance of death, whether from freezing or bleeding, and you are here. Why?” She hissed the last word out desperately.

“Because, lovely girl, you are here, and therefore so am I.” His voice was hushed but strong, firm but gentle, and Arya felt the pressure in her heart roll down her face, and then she was moving again, clumsily throwing herself over him, his arms righting her and keeping her safe from falling, and then she pressed against him, cherishing this comfort born of love, as she traced her lips over his brow and down his face until she could return the kiss he gave to save her.

Chapter Text

Arya loved clear nights like this. The city lights shone for miles over the dark, rolling sea. The effect captivated her, and on days she wasn’t busy, she would go to this spot she knew, a dilapidated construction zone, and just sit on the highest level, smelling the sea air and letting the colors fill her vision until all her worries were gone.

Braavos was a fun city, always busy and bustling and alive in a way that other cities could never be, it’s citizens never have had the hope suffocated from them the way their cousins across the sea had, had hope and honor and strength sapped from them in every way possible, like she almost had until she had finally fled after the rawest loss, run towards the only direction she had hope that a tomorrow would come, instead of another piece of her soul being crushed and killed.

She laughed softly to herself, stretching her legs out and wiggling her toes. It was a hot summer night, and the city was empty, most of the trade ships delayed due to a storm, and most of the fishing ships gone through the night to make up for them. There had been a rash of murders lately, and although they had stopped weeks ago, just enough fear lingered to keep most people inside during the darkness.

Arya had never felt the air invigorate her so much. She stood, relishing the cool breeze that swept around her and caressed her bare neck. Throwing her head back, she lazily walked closer to the water, ambling along the streets, listening to the radios playing behind locked doors.

Several minutes later she made it to the docks, and she hopped off the wood boards to land in the sand and rocks below. The girl made to the water's edge and slid her shoes off. There was a figure in the shadowy waves further in the water, and Arya grinned, unbuttoning her shirt and pants, stepping out of them before walking further into the balmy water.

The figure stood ab deep, which meant it was just shy of neck deep. She found his hand through the current, and lifted it, checking for scrapes or cuts. Finding none, she brought it to her face and nipped at his palm, flashing a wicked grin at him. “You’re in my spot.”

The man smiled indulgently and stepped back a few paces, stopped when Arya kissed the same spot she had bitten. “Better?”

“Much.” She purred, relishing the way the water slowly slid down his body back to the water that started just at his hips. Arya had wanted to come enjoy the lights from closer, but this...this was just as good. She bent and sucked at the water droplets, feeling the most deadly man she had ever known shiver and catch his breath, and a heady euphoria came over her: the water, his skin between her lips, under her hands, the sand under her toes, the sound of her name oh so preciously said, whispering through the breeze….goosebumps sprang up and she pressed closer, humming happily as his hands began their own exploration.

Once she had been a wisp, dying in a city far from her family, yet so close that she felt bitterness and resentment at the possibilities so ripped from her, and then this man had given her a beautiful gift, had taken her from meek to powerful, shown her how to haunt those who would see her powerless. And then she had gone farther away than she thought possible, and found him again. And he had shown her, when those same people had sought to come to her new home and bring their plots and their ambitions and their evil--Jaqen had shown her once again how to make them disappear.

She moaned his name, nipping at his side, and he knelt, picking her up and finding the most perfect spot on her neck to whisper against and oh, she loved the feel of his skin through her fingers...and then they were moving, the water and words and tongue lapping at her and then she was floating and oh, oh…

They were technically nothing more than ghosts in this city but Arya had never felt so alive.