The Night King explodes, dropping her to the ground, and Arya can only remain there, crouched. She can still feel the icy burn of his grip on her throat, the peculiar peace that came with knowing she was about to win, the same peace that filled her in that darkened room in Braavos when she ended The Waif, but unlike with the Waif’s death, she does not know what to do next. Instead, as she kneels in the snow amongst the shattered ice of their enemy, Arya thinks of Beric and his Lord of Light, of his and the Red Woman’s belief that he’d been resurrected time and again just so he could protect her, and Arya isn’t certain she believes in the gods after all she has experienced but if the gods meant for her to slay the Night King, what does a person do after fulfilling their destiny?
She looks up, sees Bran looking at her in that new, oddly empty way of his, and for a moment they simply look at each other in silence. And then something happens Arya finds even more surprising than the evening’s events.
Bran smiles, truly smiles, the way he had when they were children, and if he is still the Three-Eyed-Raven, Arya doesn’t know, but right now she is looking at her little brother for the first time in nearly a decade.
The sound bursts out of her, half-laugh and half-cry, and Arya couldn’t pull it back even if she tried. She laughs/cries and Bran begins to laugh too, the strangest, loveliest sound Arya has heard in years, and that is how Jon finds them.
Sansa helps cut the tie out of her hair, the thing so tangled in her hair that Arya doesn’t have the patience to free it herself. She helps Arya remove her sweat-soaked and bloodied clothing, even helping to fill the copper tub she’s had someone bring to Arya’s chamber. Arya expects her to leave but instead Sansa asks if she’d like her to wash her hair for her, and though Arya always hated being fussed over as a child, she finds herself nodding, grateful for Sansa’s careful touch.
“You should have the maester look at your head,” Sansa says as she uses a cup to pour hot water over Arya’s head, urging her to tilt it back to keep the water from her eyes.
“I’ve had worse.”
“I know.” Working the soap into Arya’s hair, she adds, “But that doesn’t mean you can’t be treated now.”
Arya closes her eyes, savoring the scratch of Sansa’s nails against her scalp and the warmth of water, and she remembers the way Gendry kept his hands away from the scars on her sides, almost as if he touched them, he’d hurt her all over again. He really was so gentle for such a strong man.
“I fucked Gendry before the battle.”
The confession explodes from her lips as unexpectedly as the laughter in the godswood, and Arya can almost feel the sting of the Waif’s staff for being unable to play the game of faces. Except Arya isn’t certain she wants to hide behind other faces anymore. She isn’t certain of anything right now except keeping things inside her body is apparently impossible.
Sansa hesitates for a moment, her fingers pulling a bit at Arya’s hair, and Arya opens her eyes to look at her big sister. She waits, expecting Sansa to tell her how she shouldn’t have given her maidenhead to a man not her husband, to chastise her for being impulsive, to pretend she didn’t say anything at all.
Instead Sansa surprises her by asking, “Was he the first?”
“I thought he might be the only.”
“He was kind?” she asks as she rinses the soap from Arya’s hair.
Arya nods, startled to stillness as she feels Sansa press a kiss to the crown of her wet head.
She closes her eyes and prays Ramsay Bolton burns in all seven hells.
The crypts are a mess like everything else in the castle, but rather than seek out the maester, Arya finds herself descending into the earth. Most of the torches are gone, grabbed by panicking smallfolk, but Arya learned long ago that vision isn’t necessary to find what you need.
Her father’s statue is untouched, and she shoves away some debris that remains at the foot of it. Then she sits, resting her head against the cool stone, wishing it was her father, wishing he’d wrap one of his arms around her shoulders and assure her of what a good place the world was. She tugs the sides of the fur she has draped around her so that it encircles her, drowning her in its warmth, and closes her eyes.
“I miss you so bloody much,” she whispers, a single tear escaping one of her closed eyes to land on the statue.
She misses all of them: Father, Mother, Robb, Rickon, Jory, Maester Luwin, Hodor, Ser Rodrik, Old Nan, Syrio, even Septa Mordane. Sometimes it eats at her gut, the grief burning as sharp as it did in the beginning, and it’s different being home, being in the place where once she’d been so happy only to find the people that helped make it that way were gone forever.
She startles awake when arms slip beneath her and lift her, and she is already reaching for her dagger when Jon murmurs her name and she relaxes into his embrace, letting her head rest against his chest.
“I’ve been going mad trying to find you,” he says as he carries through the ruins of their history.
“I just wanted to be close to them again.”
Jon’s grip on her tightens and his voice sounds tight when he tells her he understands.
There is going to be a feast to celebrate their victory. When Sansa tells her about it, her immediate reaction is to do anything but attend, wanting to hide from the attention and the claims she is a hero. But there had been a time when she loved things like feasts, loved talking to all sorts of different people, of laughing and playing and enjoying life.
She’d enjoyed life once. How could she have forgotten that?
She keeps her hair loose, dressing in one of the few unruined pairs of pants she still has and a shirt she’d worn while watching Lady Crane in Braavos. Arya looks at herself in the small looking glass near her chamber door, considering herself. Her forehead is healing, and though she doesn’t think she’ll ever be a great beauty like Sansa or Daenerys, Arya supposes she looks presentable enough for a feast.
Daenerys is already seated at the head table with Jon and Sansa, the great hall loud with noise and packed with those who survived. The scent of the food makes Arya’s stomach growl with want, and she is preparing to wave down a serving girl for a plate when Jon’s wildling friend is suddenly lifting her off of her feet in a hug that straddles the line between enthusiastic and worrisome, his voice booming, “You’re late, she-wolf! Tip a mug with me!”
Other than some cups of wine and a few sips of whiskey, Arya had never drunk much. Drink made a person clumsy, slow, unobservant, and all of those things got a person killed. But as Tormund Giantsbane near drags her through the hall, Arya aware of people looking at them, she cannot help but laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation. She is being dragged through her family’s castle by a wildling her brother calls a friend, and she doubts either of her parents ever would have expected such a thing.
The mug he hands her is near as big as her head, her hand not even able to properly close around the handle, and he bangs his own mug against hers, sending a wave of beer over the rims. He nods towards her, obviously wanting her to drink first, and Arya thinks of how often she and Bran played at being wildlings as children, how she’d longed to be wild with the people from Uncle Benjen’s stories rather than practice stitches with Septa Mordane.
The beer is foul tasting but Arya drinks it all the same, keeping her mug tipped for so long that Tormund laughs before beginning to chug his own beer, trying to catch her. He somehow manages to finish his drink before she does, slamming his mug onto the table. Arya does the same a few moments later, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, and Tormund’s barking laugh makes Arya laugh too, particularly when he lifts her off of her feet again and bellows towards Jon, “I think I’m in love, little crow!”
Jon’s face is serious, but Arya hears the smile in his voice as he calls back, “Get away from my sister, Tormund!”
“What? But we’re friends now!” Tormund shakes her, her feet flailing in the air like a child. “Aren’t we friends, she-wolf?”
She cannot help but laugh as she confirms, “Aye, friends indeed.”
“Another mug then! Little crow, come drink with us!”
Jon rises from his seat with a grin, and though Arya hardly wants more beer, she finds herself chugging another mug with her brother and the wildling, trying to remember what it was like to be a person who simply had fun without worrying about enemies.
Others have joined them, Tormund now loudly retelling his version of the battle to make it seem as if Jon singlehandedly fought every White Walker, when Arya finally glimpses Gendry. He is sitting with the Hound of all people, though neither looks particularly happy about it, and it isn’t until she stands that she realizes just how much the beer is affecting her. It takes her a moment to steady herself, not wanting to fall on her ass in front of the entire North, before she makes her way across the hall. She drops onto the bench beside Gendry, picking up a roll from his plate and ripping off a chunk. It doesn’t taste as good as Hot Pie’s as she shoves it in her mouth, and she wonders if mayhaps Sansa will let her bring him to Winterfell to work in the kitchens.
“The hero of Winterfell come to grace us with her presence.”
“Fuck off,” Arya replies, no real malice in her voice just as there was none in the Hound’s voice. She looks at Gendry, finding his blue eyes already on her. His lips twitch into a tentative smile, and Arya pretends the flip of her stomach is due more to the alcohol than him.
Tearing off another piece of the roll, she announces, “I’m starving,” and Gendry pushes his plate over to her the way he always had, the two of them sharing the food in silence while the Hound looks at them over the rim of his cup. After a moment he scoffs, pushes to his feet, and heads to a group of men who are drinking.
“I don’t know how you stand him.”
Arya shrugs, using her fingers to pop a carrot into her mouth. “I’ve known worse.”
Gendry grins as she licks some butter from her fingers. “I see your manners are as fine as ever, m’lady.”
“What do you know about manners?”
“Nothing,” he admits, “but I don’t see your sister or the queen using their fingers to eat.”
“Spend a lot of time watching my sister then?”
Arya manages not to smile as Gendry’s face falls, panic creeping into his eyes as he begins to shake his head. “No, that’s not – I don’t – I’m not looking – “
“Should I talk to Jon for you, see if he’ll agree to the match? I’m not sure what Sansa thinks of you, of course – “
“I don’t want your sister!” he near shouts, earning some odd looks from those around them, and Gendry flushes, dropping his head so he can repeat in a softer voice, “I don’t want your sister.”
“What do you want then?”
His blush deepens, spreading all the way to his ears. After a moment he reaches over, draining his cup of wine in one gulp before murmuring, “Thought I showed you what I want.”
“We thought we were going to die.” Wiping her hands on a napkin, she keeps her eyes focused on the table as she adds, “Maybe you just didn’t want to die without fucking one last time.”
“Believe me when I say the last thing I thought would happen was…what we did.” He stabs at a piece of meat on their plate with his knife. “Is that why you did it, because I was there?”
“Lots of men were here.” Arya shrugs. “Wanted to do it with you.”
“Because I trust you. And not like I trust Jon or the Hound or Sansa but…a different way. I don’t know.” She shoves at him with her shoulder, barely even making him sway. “Why did you do it?”
“Because – Because you wanted me to be your family and you tried to stop the Red Woman from taking me and you saved my worthless life more times than I can probably count, and I rowed a stupid boat back to King’s Landing and I couldn’t find you. I thought I’d never find you again.” He swallows hard, venturing a tentative look at her. “And then you were here and still so strong and smart and irritating and beautiful and…I know you’re no lady. You’ve told me that enough times, but I did it because I wanted you to be mine even if it was just for a night.”
Arya isn’t certain she’s ever heard Gendry string so many words together in one breath. A lump rises in her throat, unsure how to feel about being called beautiful, even more unsure how to feel about Gendry wanting her to be his lady. But she is a master at the game of faces, and she knows there is not even a hint of a lie in his words.
“You’re so stupid,” she says with a smile, letting her hand rest atop his. Gendry turns his hand over at once, squeezing hers, and Arya feels it in her heart.
She isn’t entirely certain how she ends up drinking, which she blames on both Tormund’s beer and Tormund himself. On her way back from the bathroom, Tormund had grabbed her, insisting on another drink that Jon cautioned her against, which only made her drink it faster, and then the next thing she knew, Tormund was spinning her around the floor as if she was little more than a rag doll.
The most surprising part, though, is how much Arya likes it, how hard it makes her laugh. She lets Tormund spin her and then she is doing some dance she didn’t even know she remembered with one of the Glovers, a far more civilized affair than Tormund’s partnering. Some knight from the Vale shyly asks for a dance, his fellow knights hooting and hollering for him when Arya agrees to it. When some of the wildlings start a heavy beat on the drums, Gilly shows her the movements the wildlings begin to do, and Arya picks it up easily, following along with the beat. She’s surprised to see that Tormund has dragged Jon to the floor and he’s doing the dance as well, and she grins at him across the floor, aching with happiness at the brightness of his smile.
She dances with Jon next, holding him near in more of a hug, swaying to the music. The steady beating of his heart against her ear unexpectedly brings tears to her eyes, and that is how she knows she’s truly drunk.
“I never thought I’d be here again,” she blurts out.
Jon nods in agreement. “Father would be proud of you.”
“And of you.” Arya jerks her head towards Daenerys, currently being partnered across the floor by Ser Davos. “She’d give you the name if you asked. You’re a Stark. You should be one all the way.”
She doesn’t understand the pained look on Jon’s face or why he seems so sad as he spares a glance towards the queen. Instead he presses a kiss to her forehead and says, “We’ll worry about all that later.”
When Daenerys calls for her, Arya knows she is far too drunk to feign manners. On her very best day she hardly remembers her courtesies and given the soft edges of the world right now, it is not her best day. But Sansa is giving her a look that tells her saying no is not an option, so Arya makes her way to the front of the hall, wondering why Jaqen and the Waif hadn’t taught her a useful skill like instant sobriety.
“Lady Arya, the realm owes you a debt we can never truly repay,” Daenerys says in that measured way she has that reminds Arya of the mummers in Braavos. “You saved us all. I ask everyone to raise their cup for the Bringer of Dawn!”
The hall erupts in cheers, cups and mugs sloshing liquid as they’re held aloft before being drained. Arya isn’t certain if the heat in her cheeks is from the alcohol or embarrassment of everyone’s eyes on her, but she finds herself looking for him among the throng. She finds him standing alongside Pod, his cup in the air, his smile full of affection and pride, and Arya decides she’s spent more than enough time at the feast.
As the music resumes, Arya makes her way through the crowd. She barely notices the way Pod’s eyes widen as she grips the front of Gendry’s shirt, twisting her fingers in it. Gendry just continues to look at her, amused.
“I think you’re drunk, m’lady.”
“Then you should escort me back to my chambers, hmm?”
She sees the desire flare in his eyes before he glances towards the front of the hall where her siblings sit. “What about – “
“I don’t care.” Arya pulls at his shirt, making him stumble a bit. Taking the cup from his hand, she thrusts it at Pod, who is now pressing his lips together tight to hide a smile. “Good night, Podrick.”
He inclines his head. “My lady.”
“Shouldn’t we leave separate?” Gendry whispers into her ear as she pulls him towards the exit.
“Why, are you embarrassed of me?”
“No but it’s going to be hard to fuck you if your brother cuts off my cock.”
Arya releases his shirt, spinning around so she is walking backwards and meeting his gaze. “The only one touching your cock tonight is me. Jon can wait his turn.”
“You’re mad,” he laughs with a shake of his head.
She is. She’s mad and drunk and uncertain of most things, but Gendry is one of the only things that makes sense to her, so she doesn’t care.
Arya turns from barring the door to find Gendry wandering around her chamber, running his hands over the furniture, pushing at the mattress. She toes off her boots, watching him explore, and it makes her smile as he holds his hands before the roaring fire one of the servants kept burning. The room is too warm for her preferences, which is why she pulls her shirt off, tossing it carelessly aside, before untying her pants. Gendry is lifting one of the furs on her bed when the motion seems to catch his eyes, and he blushes even as he takes in the sight of her.
“Does the room meet your standards, Ser Gendry?”
“Never been in one like this, is all.” He rubs at the back of his neck as if the admission embarrasses him, and Arya looks around the chamber.
“It’s just a room.”
“It’s a proper room,” he corrects, coming around the foot of her bed, watching as she climbs onto the bed. “Never had more than a cot myself, even when my mum was alive. And that’s a featherbed, isn’t it? Can see why lords and ladies like them.”
This time she is the embarrassed one. No matter how many nights she’d spent sleeping in dirt and mud, on pallets and straw, she is still a lady with a featherbed.
“Come to bed.”
The only sounds in the room are their breathing and the crackling of the fire as Gendry strips, leaving his clothes on the floor alongside hers. He is careful climbing onto the bed, and Arya is starting to move to straddle him, wanting his mouth on hers, when he catches her with gentle hands.
He swallows hard, one hand cupping the side of her face, brushing a lock of hair out of her hair. “I want – The world’s not ending.”
“So there’s no rush this time.” He kisses her, whisper soft. “I want to do it proper this time.”
Her stomach twists. “Did we – Did I do it wrong last time?”
“No! Gods, Arya, no!” He kisses her again, longer this time, and Arya parts her lips to allow his tongue inside. It is easy to let her nervousness subside at the feel of him against her. “I meant I want to take our time, make it good for you.”
“It was good for me.”
“Then I want it to be better.”
He kisses her again, and this time when she tries to slip into his lap, Gendry lets her. With his back against the headboard, Arya sits nude in his lap, wanting to arch into his touch as if she were Ghost, loving the feel of his work roughened hands sliding across her skin.
“You’re stupid,” she whispers against his mouth as she grinds down against him, shivering as a calloused thumb rolls over her nipple.
Arya slightly revises her opinion a few minutes later when Gendry puts his mouth to her cunt and makes her body sing.
Arya never thought much about sex. As a child with four brothers, she quickly learned the difference between boys and girls, and her mother explained in vague terms how Rickon got inside her stomach. Prior to leaving for King’s Landing, Arya had a general understanding that men and women got into bed together, did…something, and then they had a child. It seemed like such an odd, faraway thing then, it didn’t require any thought.
Until Yoren hacked off her hair and told her to pretend to be a boy, until she saw what the Lannister men did to the women they captured, she had no idea a woman could be forced. Too many nights she’d laid there, listening to what those monsters did to those poor women, and she squeezed her eyes tight, hoping it wouldn’t happen to her. During that time, she vowed she’d never let a man between her thighs.
In Braavos, there were more important things to worry about than something as trivial as sex. Her training took up all of her time, and though a few men made comments to her as she walked through the streets, she never even looked at them. It wasn’t something she wanted, wasn’t even something she thought she was capable of wanting.
And then she’d come back to Winterfell and there was Gendry, handsome and muscled and looking at her with those blue eyes of his as if she was something special and upended everything she thought about sex.
It embarrasses her, how much she thinks about it. Sometimes all she has to do is look at Gendry and suddenly she’s overwhelmed with want for him. While the men prepare to march south to fight Cersei, Arya sneaks into the forge, smuggles Gendry into her room, pulls him into the stables, desperate to have him inside her again. Sometimes she thinks they’ve fucked in every conceivable way in every non-destroyed corner of the castle, but it still isn’t enough.
“The queen is going to wonder why none of the armor is repaired,” Gendry pants between kisses as Arya fumbles with the laces of his trousers, pushing him back onto a bench.
“Fuck the queen,” she laughs, turning around and slipping her pants over her hips. She smiles as Gendry pulls her back onto his lap, her back pressed against his front, shivering as he slips inside her, a rough moan working its way free of his throat.
“I’ve got my hands full enough with fucking you.”
She grabs his hands, pulling them from her hips and dragging them beneath her shirt until he is cupping her breasts. “Are you complaining?”
He presses a wet kiss to the hollow beneath her ear, and Arya hums with pleasure, leaning back into him as she rolls her hips. “I may be stupid, but I’m not that stupid.”
Arya doesn’t know if sex would be like this with anyone else, but as she and Gendry move together in the back of the forge, she understands what all the fuss was about.
Jon tells her and Sansa the truth about his true parents, and Arya feels the same way she did that awful day huddled on the statue of Baelor, watching her father stolen away from her forever.
“I will always be your brother,” Jon says, looking at all of them, before his eyes lock with Arya’s. “Always. I don’t love anyone in the world as much as I love you.”
“Not even Daenerys?” Sansa drawls, but Arya doesn’t have time to think about the strange tug-of-war her sister and the Dragon Queen are having over Jon. All she can think about is how Jon, her favorite brother, the brother she loved the most, the brother whose memory always burned brightest in her brain, isn’t really her brother at all.
“Just because my father was a Targaryen doesn’t mean I’m not a Stark.” Keeping his eyes on Arya, he pleads, “Say something, little sister.”
“Are you going to be the king now? Hop on a dragon with her, kill Cersei, take the Iron Throne?”
Jon flinches, and normally Arya would apologize but not now, not when her head is spinning and she’s so damned confused about the lifetime of lies that have led to this moment. “I don’t want to be the king.”
“But you’re the heir,” Sansa says. “That’s why you made us promise not to tell, isn’t it? Daenerys knows the rightful claim is yours and if people know – “
“I don’t want to be the king!”
“Well the North chose you to be their king, and you gave us away to your – what – aunt, is it? Your lover? Both?” Sansa scoffs. “I suppose they aren’t mutually exclusive when you’re a Targaryen.”
“We shouldn’t fight,” Bran speaks up, the flatness of his voice having disappeared entirely with the Night King’s death, and he actually looks bothered by the bickering. Arya wants to feel happy about that. She wants to feel anything right now. “No matter who Jon’s parents were, we are still the last of the Starks. We’re still a pack.”
“Until the North refuses to bend the knee to Daenerys, and she finishes what the Lannisters started.”
“That isn’t going to happen!” Jon insists.
As he and Sansa start to fight, Bran attempting to mediate, Arya slips from the room, swift as a deer.
Gendry finds her in the godswood, kneeling in the snow in front of the heart tree. The knees of her pants are soaked through from the snow, her legs numb from the cold, but Arya doesn’t move. She knows he’s complaining about the cold, asking if she’s mad, but somehow it is as if she doesn’t truly understand what he’s saying. It isn’t until he is on his knees beside her, gently shaking her shoulder, that Arya realizes he’s asking her what’s wrong.
“Did something happen to you? Did – Did someone hurt you?”
She nods because it feels true. Jon hurt her. Maybe it was her father who hurt them both. Hells, maybe it was Rhaegar-fucking-Targaryen who hurt her. All she knows is she hurts.
“What can I do? Just tell me and I’ll do it.”
There aren’t many things left in this world that cause Arya shame. Jaqen and the Waif taught her how useless emotions were and shame was the most useless. But as she stares into the face of the weirwood, at the Old Gods she didn’t even know if she still believed in, she confesses her most shameful secret to Gendry and the gods.
“It didn’t hurt as much when I thought they were all dead.” Angrily wiping at a tear on her cheek, she chokes out, “I could remember them how they were or – or imagine what they’d have been like if they hadn’t…I forgot how hard it is, how much it hurts.”
Gendry is quiet for a long beat before clearing his throat. “I never had anyone to love before you. But you’re right. It’s hard and it hurts. But it’s…It’s not all bad, yeah? Because as hard as it is and as much as it hurts, it still feels better than not having anyone to love at all again. That…that was harder.” Rubbing at the back of his neck, he adds, “If it’s too hard to love me while you’re loving them, I understand.”
Arya finally looks at him, shaken out of her head. After a minute, she says, “I love you just as much as them, stupid.”
His face blooms with surprise and pleasure. Getting to his feet, he extends his hand, and Arya allows him to pull her to her feet. She shivers, the cold finally having seeped into her bones, and though she knows he has less tolerance to it than she does, he unfastens his cloak and wraps it around her shoulders, the fabric dwarfing her.
As they leave the godswood, Arya glances back at the heart tree, thinking of her father, the Old Gods, and their ways.
She loves Gendry. Gendry loves her. They said so in front of the tree. He gave her his cloak. Arya doesn’t remember much from the few weddings held at Winterfell, but she knows enough and, as far as she’s concerned, Gendry is hers now and forever.
The banging on her chamber door wakes Arya. As she stumbles to the door, pulling on her clothes and wondering how Gendry can sleep through such a racket, she wonders if the Lannisters have made it above the neck, if it is time to fight again.
The last person she expects to see on the other side of the door is Ser Davos, his eyes focused on the ceiling, a light blush on his cheeks.
The older man clears his throat and, when he speaks, his voice is little more than a whisper. It’s then Arya realizes it isn’t the middle of the night but rather the strange hour between night and morning when only a few in the castle have started to wake. “It’s almost dawn.”
“And the queen and your brother plan to head to the forge after breaking their fast to speak to the armorer about how many more repairs are need before marching south.” He lets his eyes drop to meet her gaze before turning them skyward again. “Probably best if the armorer is there when they arrive.”
Leaving the door half-opened, she crosses back to her bed and begins to process of waking Gendry. Usually when they spend a full night together, she sleeps in the forge so she can sneak back into the castle or else she doesn’t let Gendry fall asleep. It takes a minute shaking his shoulder and a sharp slap to get him awake, and his sleepy smile quickly turns to confusion.
“What’s – “
“It’s almost morning. Davos is here. He says you’ve got to get back to the forge before Jon and Daenerys come looking for you.”
“How did he – “ He almost trips as he untangles himself from the bedclothes, grabbing his trousers. “How did he know I was here?”
“I don’t know!” Marching back to the door, Arya swings it wide, and the older man still stands where she left him, this time looking at his shoes. “How did you know he was here?”
“Got seven sons. You learn fast which pretty girl they’re going to get themselves killed over.” He finally looks as Gendry comes up behind Arya, tucking his shirt into his pants, and the chastising look he gives him reminds Arya of the way her father used to look at Robb and Theon when he caught them flirting with the serving girls. “And make no mistake, you’re going to get yourself killed if Jon catches you in his sister’s bed.”
“Why? I didn’t kill Daenerys for being in his.”
Cuffing Gendry around the back of the neck, he looks between the two of them and shakes his head. “You Starks will be the death of me.”
When Gendry tries to look over his shoulder at her, Davos smacks him in the head, and Arya cannot help but laugh.
“I don’t want you to go south with Jon.”
They are stretched out on furs in front of the fireplace in Arya’s room, Gendry’s fingers tracing the lines of her body, his lips whisper soft against her hip. He is at her back, curled around her body, and she can feel his heart beating against her skin. She thinks it is the reason he is asking the impossible of her.
“You’re going with him.”
“Because I have to. I swore to follow him and the queen. You don’t.”
“You know I have to, too.”
“A dragon can kill Cersei.”
“Or Tyrion or the Kingslayer could convince Daenerys to exile her.” Staring into the flames, she adds, “I thought you understood.”
“I do. I did.” He kisses her bare shoulder, pulling her tighter against him. “I know how good you are with a sword. I know that you’re…You’re the Night Slayer. But you’re not. You’re Arya. You’re…you’re mine like I’m yours. And I don’t want you to die.”
“I don’t want you to die either.”
“But you’re still going.”
“I love you, you know.”
She nods again.
“I want…I want to marry you.”
We’re already married, stupid, she almost says but instead she snuggles deeper into his embrace.
“I won’t wear a dress.”
He laughs, one of his rare, truly free laughs, and Arya closes her eyes, wanting to remember this moment for however much longer they have.