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“I’m not the Red Woman. Take your own bloody pants off.”

Gendry’s eyes are still caught on her, and then he’s rushing to remove the last of his clothes and a smile tugs at her lips. Much as she wants this, she wants him to also. She had long since decided that she would choose who to give her maidenhead to, if anyone – she knew she wouldn’t be married off to suit the desires of someone else’s politics and gift it to a stranger, but until she had realised death was likely the only outcome on the other side of this night, she hadn’t known she would give it to him. She will respect any lines he wishes to draw.

Three women is not many, not from the way she knows men to be. It’s enough for him to know what to do and to guide her without making her feel foolish; and she tries not to feel so now, standing bare before him. She doesn’t entirely know what three includes of the Red Witch but she expects he has seen her naked, too, and from the icy tone he had used she assumes it was not for wanting to. Arya wonders, briefly, how she compares. She is smaller, toned, and her body scarred; she doubts she is nearly as soft as any of the other girls he’s been with.

He stares at her in awe as she mounts him. It’s not a look she’s experienced before. Even wearing the faces of whores in Braavos, no man has looked at her like he is now; like she’s the sun and stars brought down from the sky and he can’t quite believe that she’s real. She wonders if he has looked at other girls this way. She doesn’t imagine so, but the thought is persistent and so she quells it with a kiss.

They part and Gendry whispers her name again, and she likes the sound of it on his tongue. It is an unspoken question that lingers between them. Is this ok?

Part of her wanted this to just be about fucking him. About letting him take her, no questions asked, because in a few hours they will be dead and no one can judge her for wanting some reprieve. He is honourable, and she can trust him with her body. But he is solid beneath her, hard between her legs, and his voice so gentle she doesn’t want to admit that this is far more than just sex. He still looks at her like she is the sun, but he is not afraid of being burnt and that alone is enough alone to break her.

Arya answers him by pressing herself against his cock. It brings a gasp forth from his lips, his nails grazing her back; when he meets her gaze again something burns behind his eyes. It sets alight a fire in her belly and she rocks gently, slowly, her own breaths a light stammer in anticipation, and yet she keeps her eyes trained on him. Taunting him. His hands skim her skin to grip at her hips, his palms pressed against bone. He could break her, if he wanted to, but he holds her steady instead of hard. She whimpers the first time he pulls her down to him, bites her lip. It’s not that she is nervous; it’s that she wants him so bad it has become a need, and she no longer trusts herself.

And then she is kissing him again, needing to fill her mouth with his tongue until he fills the rest of her. His touches get rougher as want swallows him too, now pressing his feelings into her skin with his fingertips. She has felt some of this before, from the last few nights alone in her bed, images of him working the anvil in her head. Nothing compares to the real thing, though, and Gods they haven’t even started yet.

When she breaks away from the kiss his lips follow hers, like he is making up for the time that he hadn’t. Then he shifts, repositioning himself, and gentle hands part her legs further. There is another question on his lips as his eyes skim her body, and the answer is no. They have so little time. Too little time to take things slow. He can have her all he wants should they survive the long night to come, but she’s not hopeful and it pushes her to kiss him, hard, as he guides his cock between her thighs.

He enters her and she’s not sure if hurt is the right way to describe it. It’s a sharp sensation and she hisses, eyes shutting. She wants to bear down on him but he holds her steady, his forehead pressed to hers as he lowers her hips. What’s painful is the wait, not the feeling, and she must be making noises he likes because she feels his brow furrow against hers, his hold tighten. And then he is inside her, fully. Her eyes flicker open and this time she is the one seeing stars.

Gendry lets out a snort of laughter and the sensation ripples through him to meet her between her legs. “You never did like to make things easy, did you?” he says, his thumb drawing light circles between the crook of her hip and thigh. She suspects he means he should have her on her back beneath him, but he has seemed more than willing to let her lead.

Arya feels her expression soften around him for the first time since she was a child. This never could have just been about fucking him. Her edges have hardened through the years but no matter how long she had spent at the House of Black and White, no matter how well-trained an assassin she had become, she had always felt too much. Too much to join the Faceless Men, too much not to return to Winterfell, too much not to take a breath here, just for a moment, and take in the man beneath her that cares so deeply for her she can feel it each time he touches her.

His mouth curls into a fond smile and he takes her face in both hands to pull her down into an easy kiss, giving her time to her find herself again. She splays her hands across his chest, tracing the lines of his muscles. He seems to lean into her touch and she smiles against his mouth.

Then he is peppering kisses down her neck and she is rocking her hips against his. She doesn’t keep to a rhythm. She could, if she tried, but she’s desperate and he doesn’t seem to mind, not if the groans he presses into her throat mean anything. Arya wonders if the sounds she makes are doing the same to him as his are to her, tightening like a knot in her lower abdomen. He keeps one hand slipped under her right thigh, following her movements, while the other rises up her waist to her breast. It fits perfectly in the palm of his hand and she wonders if it’s an advantage she has over the other girls; and then she hums in satisfaction as he begins caressing her.

She aches for him now, and by the time his lips have found the nipple of her left breast she’s lost most of the composure she had been clinging onto. His hands are back on her hips, and she grips at his shoulders to steel herself a he guides her up, down, and she is close, so close. She murmurs his name and somewhere in between it catches in her throat, turns to a moan, and she bucks her hips against his, pulsing around him.

He’s yet another person she risks losing. But she hasn’t felt this alive, nor this human, in such a very long time, and perhaps it’s better to die knowing everything she has, everything she could have, than to die already half-dead.