"Arya, I-" Gendry sighed her name and tried to say more, but Arya was too quick, and then they were kissing. Arya held his face in her hands, laying upon him the sort of frantic smooch that a younger Arya might have found embarrassing, perhaps disgusting. But in this moment where certain death crept closer, it felt like there could be no other way. She could feel the places where his lips had cracked from the cold, the warmth of his body pressed against hers as he kissed her more forcefully. The next time he almost missed entirely, his lips crashing somewhere just below Arya’s nose, and she couldn’t help but laugh with surprise. She felt the corners of his mouth turn up too, before he held her closer.
Arya then wasted no time. They only had so much night until the army of the dead arrived. Arya was determined, she had finally decided approximately 5 minutes earlier, that the place she absolutely wanted to be tonight was laying with a man, and the sooner she could feel his skin on hers, the better.
Well... not just any man.
She untied and shoved Gendry's cloak from his shoulders as Gendry's hands found her belt, and they made quick work of their clothing until his chemise had been thrown onto the ground, and she stood in only her breeches and a worn tunic. As their lips met again and Gendry moved to take her into his arms, Arya shoved him backwards onto some nearby sacks of grain.
Gendry lay still. His eyes, unblinking, watched as she slowly pulled off her thin tunic and cast it aside. His eyes did not immediately fall to Arya's bare chest like she thought they might. Instead, Gendry's gaze fell to the scars along her side, fixed as if in a trance. Arya watched him watching her as she began to shove her breeches down. Gendry said nothing.
They could be here at any moment.
"I'm not the Red Woman," Arya reminded him. "Take your own bloody pants off." As if suddenly brought back to consciousness, Gendry scrambled to remove his trousers as Arya did the same.
Arya did not wait for Gendry to finish tugging down his last bits of clothing before climbing on top of him, naked as her first name day. Gendry's gaze did not leave hers as she placed a hand beside each of his shoulders. There was a look in his eyes that she knew. She'd seen it before. It was the same way her father had looked at her mother when she was very small.
Can't think about that now.
She pressed a kiss to his lips and felt his hands, calloused from his work, settle on her hip bones when she kissed him again.
"Gods," Gendry said, finally glancing down at Arya's breasts and taking them in his hands. Arya felt his stiffness pressing against her leg and her heart pounded in her ears. She knew it was probably going to hurt, but she was not afraid. Not anymore. She had seen cocks and all of that before... most recently on the dead back in Braavos and again when she'd cooked up the Freys. Those had been shriveled and lifeless and so far from appealing that Arya occasionally wondered what exactly was so great about laying with a man. But this was different. Gendry was looking at her as if in a dream. His muscled, naked body with scars of its own was at her mercy, and his cock was rather nice-looking if Arya had to give an opinion.
"Show me," Arya commanded. "So we can both feel..." she sat back on her heels.
Once, while searching for a meal on her way to the Crossing, Arya caught sight of a woman in a brothel. At the time, her knowledge of sex primarily consisted of horror, such as the abuses of Merrin Trant, and things she overheard in passing from older women - how best to please a man, the use of moon tea, what to do if he finishes too early, the like. For whatever reason, she had watched one evening as a woman with nearly white skin and a soft stomach sat astrode a rather lumpy looking man, her customer. Arya remembered the woman's dark curls cascading down her back as she slowly dragged her hand from her neck down to her breasts, slowly down her belly, then between her legs. She remembered the look the man had given her, one of elation and wonder, as if the woman's hand had just revealed to him the secrets to a life of riches and glory. Arya had memorized that hand movement and hoped, if given the opportunity, she would try it for herself.
So as Gendry watched her, Arya brought her hands up her body, then slowly dragged one hand from her collarbone to her breasts, then lower to her belly, then lower still. Gendry's eyes followed her fingertips as they descended into the coarse curls that grew just above the warm, wet place between her legs. He took in a slow breath and caught her eyes with a look that made Arya unsure whether he was about to attack her or kiss her.
"As you wish," Gendry whispered. He sat forward and pulled Arya into his arms, kissing her deeply, weaving a hand into her hair. "Milady," he added as she raised an eyebrow.
As if he knew what she was going to ask, Gendry explained, "It sometimes hurts for the woman, if you don't uhm, not so much if you..." Gendry trailed off. Arya watched his hand disappear between her thighs. They looked at each other as Gendry began stroking her wetness with slow, careful movements, as if searching for-
"Oh," Arya said. Whatever spot Gendry had just touched was good. It was a good spot. She watched a mix of surprise and triumph play across Gendry's face as he brought his fingertip over the spot again, and again, and again, faster...
Arya steadied herself and dropped her forehead to Gendry's shoulder, closing her eyes to fully feel this, this strange, deep pleasure building fast and trickling down into her toes. She shivered as he placed gentle kisses just behind her ear. Her legs were shaking.
"Gendry-" she whispered, but he suddenly pulled his hand away, took her in his arms, and rolled her onto her back.
Arya almost let out a whine - she selfishly wanted his hand to keep at what it was doing - but there was something desperate in Gendry's eyes. She tilted her chin up and narrowed her eyes.
"What is it?"
"I know I'm not the best with my words," Gendry mused. "And I'm sure I don't know the ones that could come close to telling- well-" he briefly glanced at the ground, then back at her. "To telling you what it means to be here with you now. But if you'll have me, please... let me show you."
Arya had not expected this.
Gendry leaned in and kissed her once with closed lips, then again, slowly, on her cheek, then her nose, her shoulders, her chest, her arms. He kissed her breasts, her ribs, her navel. He sunk down between Arya's legs, his hands never leaving her skin. She watched Gendry with his brow furrowed, concentrating, tracing his fingers over every scar before kissing the length of each one. He reveled in her with gentle touches despite, Arya sensed, a palpable, furious desire. This was worship. This was reverence. This was the warmest Arya had felt in Winterfell since she was a child, and maybe ever would again. When Gendry slowed his barrage of kisses, he looked up into Arya's eyes and smiled. She grinned back at him.
"Is this okay?" Gendry sunk lower between Arya's legs, kissing her knee as she let her thighs fall open on either side of him.
"I'll tell you if it isn't," Arya said. "Show me." Gendry smirked, gently spread her open with one hand, and kissed the spot. Arya groaned and bucked her hips up slightly. Without warning, he was doing something with his tongue over the spot, something that made her squirm and gasp. He did this for a time, then brought his free hand between her legs. She felt his fingertip moving back and forth in the wetness before pressing it inside of her.
Gods. There was a painful, burning stretch, but Gendry's tongue on the spot dulled it some. Arya heard herself breathing loudly, felt her leg intermittently jerking of its own accord as the pleasure grew stronger, building to something.
"Keep going," Arya said, caressing Gendry's head with one hand. He reached up and held her free hand tight. That warm, tingling feeling had suddenly built so much that Arya wasn't sure she could stand it any longer. She took a deep breath in and then she was swearing, and she felt muscles she didn't know she had tightening without her control, each contraction bringing with it a wave of pleasure.
When the waves stopped, Arya looked down and saw Gendry with eyes wide, as if a dragon had just appeared before him among the food stores. She propped herself up on her elbows, at which point she realized she was trembling. Gendry was grinning now.
"Shut up and lay with me," Arya rolled her eyes before he could say anything. He kept smiling as he crawled back up beside her, kissing her once before Arya swiftly moved back on top of him. She braced herself against the enormous bag of grain upon which they lay, and slowly moved her hips against him, against his cock. Gendry's expression darkened as his cock slid against her. Arya reached down, took him in her hand, and angled her body so he was in the right spot...
And then he was inside her, just barely. It hurt much worse than one finger, the stretching, burning pressure strange and uncomfortable. Arya sucked in a breath as her eyes watered.
"Alright?" Gendry asked. Arya nodded her head vigorously, though she stayed still. She had of course experienced much worse pain, but perhaps none this intimate. A few seconds passed, then Arya lifted herself up slightly, before sinking back down, farther this time. Gendry's mouth fell open and his hands gripped her hips. She did it again, then a few more times, slowly, until the urge to go faster outweighed the burning. She drank him in, watched a bead of sweat make its way down his forehead into his eyebrow, moved to meet his hips as they rolled in time with hers, relished his need displayed so plainly.
"Seven Hells," Gendry groaned. He suddenly sat up and took her in his arms. Their mouths crashed together in frantic kisses, and Arya thought they might devour each other then and there. "You'll finish me this minute."
He quickly flipped her over again. Arya laced her legs around Gendry's backside and clawed his shoulders, pressing him in deeper.
"Come on then," she hissed in his ear. "Let me feel you finish." Gendry growled, moving his hips faster with steady rhythm, and the pain was back again but Arya didn't care. She could taste him, salty with sweat, as she kissed his neck. He smelled of burning, and wax, and molten dragonglass. He filled her every sense, her every thought, stirring her somewhere she didn't know existed. He took her face in his hand and their eyes found each other.
"Arya." Gendry's voice was unsteady, desperate. He made a small, throaty noise, pressed inside her once, twice-
Arya gasped as his hips snapped against hers again and she finally felt him spill his seed. He moaned, and she continued clutching his shoulders until he finished. He took her in his arms and rolled them onto their sides.
Again, Arya was trembling, and she noticed Gendry was too as they lay breathless and entwined. His gaze had not wavered.
And she never wanted to leave.
For a time, they lay naked beneath Gendry's cloak, unspeaking, listening to the crackling of fire. Gendry had his arm wrapped around Arya's shoulders as she lay her head on his chest. His thumb intermittently stroked her arm.
"I missed you," Gendry said.
"Me too." Arya turned her head up to look into his face. His eyes were closed.
"I'm glad you like your weapon."
"Oh," Arya said. "Yes. I don't think I properly thanked you for it, so, thanks."
Gendry chuckled. "Happy to make it. Where did you learn to handle... well, anything like that? To fight?"
Arya hesitated. Tell him everything.
"I've had many teachers, some kinder than others. Some taught me out of necessity rather than choice."
"I see," Gendry said, sounding unpersuaded. "You'll have to tell me about them sometime."
"I'd like that." If we survive. "You've been a good teacher too," Arya admitted. Gendry cracked an eyelid and looked down at her.
"Yes. I made the right choice for where to be right now. I'm glad you came back to Winterfell."
Even in the dim light of the nearby fire, Arya could see Gendry's face turn pink. He brought her hand up to his lips and kissed her knuckles.
"I am too."
Silence again. For a moment, Arya swore she could hear someone singing an old song. She shivered.
"Are you scared?"
"No," she answered quickly. A lie.
Fear had been growing in her like a thorny weed ever since she decided to leave the life of the Faceless Men and chose ultimately to be Arya Stark of Winterfell. It grew stronger when she saw Bran, and Sansa, and Jon again. And now, having lain with Gendry, a man with whom she had come to feel new and beautiful things...
"No?" Gendry cocked an eyebrow. “Well, I’m convinced.”
Arya chose to ignore his snark. "It's more difficult to set fear aside when you have something to lose, but you must. Otherwise you won't stand a chance."
"I suppose," Gendry said. "But I think if you've got something to lose, then you've got something worth fighting for." He squeezed Arya's arm.
Her ear was pressed to Gendry's chest as she watched the firelight intently, listening to his hearbeat, waiting. In time, Gendry began to snore softly, and the sound was comforting. It was... home.
I never want to leave.
Arya's breathing suddenly felt unsteady as a flood of feelings from a past life washed over her. She remembered vividly the moment she met Gendry, the way he had defended her without knowing who she was, a mark of his character that she'd never since doubted. She remembered the flea-bitten nights on the run, shivering beneath the stars, during which she was lulled to sleep only by Gendry's soft snores and, occasionally, the thought of his arms around her. She remembered the terror of Harrenhal, the joy of escape, the bitter taste in her mouth after the Brotherhood sold him to the Red Woman. Arya had been a girl then, with girlish dreams, but the thought of seeing Gendry again - her family, blood be damned - was sometimes all that sustained her throughout her journey to womanhood.
And now here he was, years of abuse and hiding and fighting behind him, having made Arya a weapon she knew only he could forge, having made her feel so good, so alive, now holding her close in what could be his final hours. The meaning was not lost on her.
Arya gently placed Gendry's arm beside her and turned away from him. She couldn't look upon his face in this moment, though she would never admit why.
He cannot die. He will not die.
As she looked into the darkness, Arya sensed the faint pulse of Gendry's heartbeat where her back pressed against his flank. She closed her eyes and savored him, living, breathing up against her. Perhaps, in this moment of stillness, the dead were returning to the earth. Perhaps the Night King was simply dissolving into the winter winds, and outside the forge the sun was rising over the long night at last.
The truth came screaming back with the sound of three distant horns.
Winter is here
And we will not die
For ours is the fury