Arya had no place to go. Like for real ! Wherever she went he was there and if he wasn't, there were always people talking about him. Like her parents in the living room, praising his book or gloomy Sandor in the kitchen. Arya couldn't decide what was worse, her dad announcing he's wise beyond his years or Sandor sniffling :
'I knew the day would come, she's too good for me !'
The worst was mum, Arya realized, who cared that the man was dashingly handsome !
It's not how it was meant to be.
When they told her Jaqen was coming back to Westeros she jumped with joy. She was ten when she last saw him. He used to be their neighbor and he was her friend. He was sweet, he used to tell her funny stories about dragons and spies. He was patient with her when she needed help with homework. Even though he knew she pretended to need help. And he never mocked her fencing lessons like other boys did. He even sparred with her once and let her win. They both knew he let her win but they chose to pretend he didn't. Arya liked his long red hair with funny white streaks, his Lorathi accent and his worn jeans. And she liked that funny feeling in her belly when other girls were looking at him whenever they strolled around the town together. She even tolerated his girlfriend. She was older than Jaqen and already studying in Braavos and he never spoke of her anyway.
Arya made plans for the whole summer for the two of them. They would feed strays and eat apples straight from the tree in her mother's garden. They would go swimming every day like they used to do. Arya would take Jaqen to that beautiful glade she had discovered behind the pines on the other side of the river. They could stay there for hours, reading his strange books, not bothered by anyone. She bit her lip in excitement at the thought Jaqen would see all the trophies she won in Harrenhal tourneys. And she won Harrenhal six years in a row !
They had a beautiful summer ahead of them !
Finally, he appeared at their house on Friday night with beautiful roses and a bottle of Dornish red. Arya wanted to run and hug him but something stopped her. He seemed taller than she remembered, more masculine, stronger. For a twenty-four year old he had the air of someone who had seen everything. He complimented lady Stark's hospitality, flashing a disarming smile, drawing sighs of admiration from mum, Sansa and Jeyne. Arya could swear mum blushed !
Jaqen shook hands with everyone and congratulated dad on the case he won against Tywin Lannister. Dad pulled him into a hug laughing and when he released him Jaqen found Arya. His eyes gleamed like blue steel, he had the most beautiful face of any man she had ever seen. Arya had never felt so small and vulnerable, all her plans vanished, her courage evaporated in a heartbeat.
This handsome stranger wasn't her Jaqen, the slender boy she used to know, with funny hair and dreamy eyes. Suddenly she realized what dad had been trying to tell her for weeks, that Jaqen was a published author now, an expert in politics of Essos and she shouldn't expect him to climb trees with her. Arya remembered the cover of the magazine Sansa showed her with the picture of Jaqen and queen Daenerys. Suddenly she felt so silly with her fencing trophies ! Suddenly she was very aware that she was a girl and Jaqen was a man.
Seven hells ! They had a long agonizing summer ahead of them...
Arya sighed for the hundredth time this day, recalling Friday dinner during which she didn't say a word. She developed very strange habits lately, sighing and checking her looks in the mirror weren't the worst of them. Reliving that dinner and analyzing every look they shared was.
She made sure Sandor had enough chicken wings to satisfy his emotional needs and went to the garden, stealing a book from Sansa's room on the way. The letters on the cover assured that Unrequited Love Can Make You Do Incredible Things. Arya decided to broaden her horizons and read books in genres she normally didn't choose. She stepped out into the sun with a solemn desire to climb the weirwood tree and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the feelings that a certain type of men evoked in a certain type of girls.
And there he was. Leaning casually against the weirwood tree, looking flawless in his black jeans and tailored black shirt, posing for a selfie with Sansa and Jeyne. Stupid Sansa had a ton of stupid selfies on her Instagram. All tagged with the inspirational quotes from his book ! Arya thought it totally pretentious. Almost as silly as wearing black clothes on the hot summer day. She bit her lip guiltily, she knew the airline lost his luggage and he didn't have much choice. She turned her face away. She couldn't stand looking at her maniacally giggling sister. Jaqen had been in Westeros since Friday and all this time Sansa was all over him !
'Arya, look !' Jeyne squealed like a piglet. 'Arya !'
That's it. She had to apologize and find herself a quiet place where she could read since her favorite spot, her weirwood tree, was occupied by annoying people. She needed to go alone to her beautiful secret glade on the other side of the river and stay there for the rest of the day. Or summer. Arya turned her head to make her excuse and then she saw him taking a photo. Of her.
She blinked like a deer caught in the headlights.
'Lovely !' She heard his deep voice saying. 'Arya, you look so lovely !'
Arya felt a hot blush spreading over her face as if the sun started shining even brighter, burning her delicate northern skin. She bit her lip.
Seven hells...They had a long hot summer ahead of them...