Gendry couldn’t fault all the boys who started to pick on Alayne - she has had an air of nobility around her that annoyed like nothing else on the bastard girl. If Gendry had to guess, he would have said that she was raised by her lording father with the rest of his kids to look over them (a path enviable by any bastard). Girls didn’t like Alayne, too. She doesn't know how to do anything, Gendry heard them whispering, looking at the way Alayne was torturing the dead rabbit instead of skinning him.
It didn’t help all too much that she was looking better than the queen (not that Gendry seen the queen, only knew she was the most beautiful woman in Seven Kingdoms), or had the manners and the talk of a lady.
Only Gendry couldn’t find it in himself to be even a little annoyed by Alayne. He didn’t know why. He hated the useless lordings and people who tried to lure them like any other Flea Bottom boy. (How could Gendry tell Alayne was trying to lure a lording to marry her? Easy - why else would she pick the talk and the manners, why else would her hair and hands be so beautiful and well-cared?)
He dropped next to her, and took the rabbit from Alayne’s white hands wordlessly. He didn’t want anyone to think he was siding with her. He only wanted the dinner to be ready sooner than later. Alayne took some carrots to rinse, and it was hard for Gendry to look away from her hands. Alayne probably imagined herself to be playing some instruments with the fingers so long, the skin so white. The dirt and the blood on such a tender skin was offensive to Gendry’s eyes, he thought Alayne was crying each day in her sleep because of the roughening of it.
It took a great effort to tear his eyes away from those hands, an effort Gendry is going to grow accustomed to in the days to come. Alayne did everything prettily, Gendry noted. She walked prettily, sat on the horse prettily, sighed prettily. She braided her hair and the sun would stop in it’s track to play with the colour red that bloomed on it. Alayne would bend down to splash the water on her face to cool down, and the line of her back was high-strung like the bow.
Other boys noted how pretty Alayne is, too. When the talk went south and they started discussing if Alayne was as graceful when she had to pee, or if the rest of her body was as beautiful as her face, Gendry smacked some of them, grateful he was the biggest out of all of them.
He grew accustomed to being near Alayne after that. Not that he was happy about it. In fact, it made the journey even the bigger torture that it was. It was hard to be walking near Alayne, because Gendry was as aware as he never was before of his huge legs (Alayne was probably used to seeing lordings light on their feet what’s with her cat-like steps), of the smell that clinged to him like the second skin of dirt and smoke and filth, when Alayne, Gendry so carefully sniffed the air near her once, always smelled like flowers. It was harder to hear Alayne noiselessly cry in her sleep and not know how to ease her pain. But the hardest part, the worst kind of torture begun after Alayne thanked him for bringing her the oil for her skin (he bought with the day of work in the town they passed by). She thanked him, and Gendry’s tongue mumbled something that made no sense, so he spent a nice night wishing he was swallowed by the ground.
Alayne was no fool, so she realised just how much entertainment she could get out of this torture of Gendry, so it became a daily occurrence - Alayne would talk to Gendry, Gendry would do something embarrassing, Alayne’s eyes would sparkle with good humour, her mouth would tug as if in a smile, and Gendry would spend the night wishing to die. He could just stop replying to Alayne, of course. Only when he started spending half the night trying to find the right word to explain Alayne’s eyes’ colour and reliving the rush he felt, just imagining Alayne’s smile, it stopped being a choice. It was a torture, that was true. Sweet torture, and it had Gendry hooked.
Until, the sweetness left it all at once, because Alayne started talking to him during the night, too. And all her jokes that during the day seemed funny, at night turned to something that made Gendry think not of Alayne’s smile, but of her lips... Hiding his body from Alayne’s smart eyes was hard, not getting the relief made Gendry as dumb as his mother has said it gets man to get.
As they have approached Winterfell, their last stop before the Wall, where they would leave all the girls, Alayne scooted closer to him, saying the wind was too cold, so Gendry gave Alayne his blanket. She chuckled, and said they should share. He learned a long time ago not to argue with Alayne, for the regret and shame bit harder during the night.
“You will marry me,” - for some reasons it didn’t feel like Alayne was asking a question.
Gendry didn’t talk. He might have lost the ability to talk forever. Let Alayne state her facts, and do what she pleases with him, why would she need Gendry’s will? Gendry’s mind would only ruin it all.
“All the girls have said it is obvious that you want,” - Alayne did manage to get closer to the rest of the girls, now that she knew how to skin rabbits. And it was obvious for all the boys, too, what Gendry wanted. It was obvious for Gendry’s mother, long time dead, and she haunted him tirelessly, telling him what an idiot he was, as dumb as the next man. Because Alayne wanted herself a lord-husband, deserved one even, a good one, like the Hand of the King that came to visit him once. Why not - Alayne needed a nice castle to care for, the servants to tend to all her needs, she was smart and beautiful enough to be the prize worthy of King...
“I do want.”
“Then you can’t join the Black Brothers.”
“Aye. I will get a job, I will support you, I promise,” - he wouldn’t be able to be the lord-husband Alayne deserves, but he will do his best to care of her.
“There is no need. I heard the King in the North is willing to pay any money to get his siblings back.”