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the language of love

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This is how it ends: they sit at a little beachfront restaurant, its tables covered in chequered cloths and a small swing band playing old 80s music. 

Beneath the patio, the sands are a thin band, streaked with the gold and orange of the setting sun, time turned back with hardly a thought. The ocean swells beyond the beach, a lake of tamed fire, crowned by the vast sinking sun that sets the waters glittering with a thousand bright pinpoints.

He leans over and finds her lips. She smiles and deepens the kiss. 

oOo

 

And here’s how it began: they were watching each other. 

Gendry was leaning against the library wall, ankles crossed, looking relaxed and approachable. His fingers were tapping a soft rhythm on the wall that she seemed to feel echo on her heart. The starts of a smile were edging his mouth, and she knew that he was enjoying teasing her. 

It was written there in his eyes, which stirred with a dark and hungry look that made her stomach quiver.

Arya would clutch her books and listen to the droning conversation of her friends, careful not to look at him directly. She masked her face in a shield of indifference, stepping neatly round the clusters of people filling the halls. She threw a quick glance back over her shoulder and met his eyes briefly, before disappearing into the throngs of the crowd once more.

They gravitated around each other, seemingly pulled by invisible strings; never quite touching, never quite apart. He went to the shops and she was talking quietly with Myrcella, flicking him a single wicked glance before apparently forgetting his existence. Dany would take her out for breakfast, only to discover Gendry and Edric playing cards outside the café. He'd say a cool 'hello', and she would nod her head and they would pull away once more, only to be pushed back together. 

It was clear that they were playing some kind of game. They spoke a different sort of language that no one else truly understood.

Sometimes, Gendry delighted in running his fingers along her spine when they passed, in brushing back a stray bit of hair behind her ears if he felt like it. Quick enough that no one caught this moment of blatant intimacy. 

Their friends didn’t quite get it, either. 

The first time Arya wandered over, informed him in a bland and bored voice that he had ink on his face, rubbed it off with her thumb, and then walked away without another word, Hot Pie had been there.

"What the hell is going on between you two?” he had hissed incredulously, gesturing at Arya's back. "I thought you were supposed to be dating!"

"We are,” Gendry said simply, without looking up from his notes, “isn’t it obvious?” 

 

oOo

 

He pushed her to the floor in the middle of her apartment, grinning savagely and kissing her. A thrill flowed up her spine as they parted their lips and deepened the kiss. Arya could feel their hearts beat in time with one another, rapid as Gendry licked her bottom lip and sucked it between his teeth. She let out a loud gasp, just enough to send him into overdrive. 

Arya kissed with unwavering passion and intense focus. Tension brewed around them, sweat running slick against their skin, meeting each other’s movements equally, unfailingly.

She wrapped her legs around his hips; he pressed his thigh between her legs. She bit his lower lip; he pulled off her shirt to run his hand up her bare back. She shifted against his leg and clawed at his shoulder; he rutted his hardness against her and let out a groan.

Arya shoved at the waistband of Gendry’s pants and grasped him in hand, the tip of his cock wet in her palm as she slicked it downward. She paced herself to match his rhythm against her clit and was overcome with the need to be filled; it hit her hard, this desperate gaping void-like hunger. 

A loud banging erupted from the left neighbouring wall, followed by a string of curses. 

“I think Mrs Johnson isn’t very fond of me,” Arya panted, her eyes gleaming. “Too bad - I don’t feel like being very quiet today.” 

“Good. Neither do I.” With a grin, Gendry rolled her on her back, sliding between her legs, and sat up to tug at her underwear. She lifted her hips and he pulled them off of her, tossing them aside before leaning back down and kissing her exposed belly. He pushed up her shirt until he reached her breasts, and kissed her nipples. Arya watched him as he trailed back down her body and settled between her legs, mouthing at the dark patch of hair. He trailed his tongue around her clit, neat little circles that had her bucking onto his face and curling her hands into the carpet. Arya felt herself at bursting point, letting out increasingly louder moans she knew reverberated through the walls and floorboards. 

They kissed, and pulled apart only to breathe against each other’s mouths, panting and moving in time with each other.

He pulled his fingers out and crawled up the floor, pushing his pants all the way off. She tasted herself on him when he kissed her again, and it made her ache. He slid his hardness against her, slick with his saliva and her come. She wrapped her legs around his hips and pushed him closer to her, needing him inside her to fill the unceasing feeling of emptiness.

“Gendry...” Arya gasped, mind uncharacteristically blank. 

He thrust into her, slow at first and then picking up a steady rhythm. Arya clawed at his back, his ass, pushing him deeper into her. He stilled in her when they reached their apex, and kissed her softly on the lips before coming with a groaned exhale. Arya cried out as loud as she could, walls clenching around him, tense around the pulse of his thick cock. 

Once the pleasure subsided, Gendry pulled out of her and slumped to the side. He held her close and nuzzled her hair, sighing in contentment. 

“Bet Mrs J listened to the whole show,” Arya whispered hoarsely with a grin. 

“Then we owe her an encore, don’t you think?” 

 

oOo

 

This is how the end began, with a few chosen words:  "I think we should have a chat."

Chat. With Sansa, that was a word that meant 'I'm going to lecture you, and you're going to listen.'

Arya felt wary already. She leaned against the kitchen counter and nursed her tea between her hands. She had expected her older sister sooner, but now that she thought about it, her timing was as impeccable as ever.

"Of course you do," she said aloud. "Whatever you've got to say, say it."

Sansa’s eyes were frozen over, the silent cold of winter blues. "This - this thing with Gendry. Is it actually serious?” 

Irritation spiralled up through Arya’s veins at the sheer haughtiness of the question. “I don’t believe that’s any of your business."

"You’re my sister, of course it’s my business. I only care for what’s best for you, you know.” 

"Is that right?" Arya flashed a crocodile's smile. “It has absolutely nothing to do with Mother desperate to hear those wedding bells, I imagine. Did she put you up to this?” 

Sansa folded her arms and eyed her indignantly from her seat at the dining table. "She’s not the only one, you know. We’re all thinking it. We rarely see you two together. Isn’t that strange to you?”

"I fail to see how this is still any of your concern,” Arya said scathingly, her voice seething with leashed, careful anger. "Gendry and I have an understanding. That’s all any of you need to know.” 

She turned to pour the rest of her cold tea down the sink and heard the scrape of a chair being pushed back. Under all her simmering fury, Arya was realising with something of a surprise that the part of her that wasn’t clouded by emotion was beginning to fill with startling clarity. It smothered her rage almost instantaneously. 

"Understandings can be misinterpreted. This is just you being stubborn. You’re refusing to admit that you might have misread this whole situation. That you might not care for one another as much as you so insist." Derision washed through her sister’s voice as she stood there, always critical. 

"I’m quite aware of what this relationship means to the both of us," Arya said, unaware of how gentle her voice had become. “We have a different language, Gendry and I. Not one, I think, you’d understand.” 

The irritation flared in Sansa’s eyes so quickly, Arya would have missed it if she hadn't been looking; a shimmer of blue, bright in the thunderous silence. "Someone’s heart is going to be broken and we’re the ones that’ll be picking up the pieces after you. Consider this advice, if nothing else - just because he’s a good fuck doesn’t mean he’s worth your time. You can barely tolerate each other in public. That’s not love, Arya, that’s a glorified long-term booty call. Learn the difference.” 

“Probably," Arya shrugged. "But that’s what I want. And that’s my choice to make, however I make it - not yours, not Mother’s, no one. Am I clear?”

Sansa eyed her for a moment, sincere concern flashing across her features for a blink before smoothing out in cold acceptance. She turned on her heel and stormed out the kitchen, leaving Arya to watch her vacated spot thoughtfully. 

 

oOo

 

A few hours later, Sansa knocked quietly on her sister’s door, swallowing her pride. “Arya?” she called out softly, holding her peace offering on a large plate. “Arya, I’m sorry about earlier. I’m only here for a few days, so maybe we shouldn’t fight. I made some lemon tarts.” She frowned down at the sticky mess that almost resembled something edible. “At least, I tried to. Your kitchen is literally such a mess and I could barely find what I needed, I don’t even know how you - okay, okay, sorry, not relevant. I’m sure they still taste good!” 

There was no reply, other than a strange squeaking noise she couldn’t place. 

Really, this was unbelievably rude. Here Sansa was, grovelling at her sister’s door, and she didn’t even have the decency to answer her knocks? This is what she gets for actually being considerate. 

Sansa, growing impatient, decided privacy was a privilege deserved by those with manners and not for annoying, stubborn little sisters who couldn’t even open their door. She grabbed the knob and gave a firm push, scolding as it swung open, “Arya! The least you could is - oh my god, oh my god, what are you doing?! How is that position even possible?!” 

“Oh hey, Sansa. Long time, no see - did you just get into town?”

“Really, Gendry? Now? While we’re naked? Sansa, why are you still here? Get out!” 

“Leave the tarts, please!” 

 

oOo

 

This is how it ends: they sit at a little beachfront restaurant, its tables covered in chequered cloths and a small swing band playing old 80s music. 

Beneath the patio, the sands are a thin band, streaked with the gold and orange of the setting sun, time turned back with hardly a thought. The ocean swells beyond the beach, a lake of tamed fire, crowned by the vast sinking sun that sets the waters glittering with a thousand bright pinpoints.

Opposite him, Arya’s eyes flicker with something he can’t decipher. "Can I ask you a question? And you have to promise to be honest."

He lays his hand over hers, and she smiles. Such tantalising, tender gestures are not normal for them outside their little world of two, not even close, but Arya doesn’t mind this exception. He looks relaxed, the wind flicking the ends of his hair back and forth, his fingers tapping on her wrist in time with the music.

“Have I ever been anything but?” he answers with a laugh. 

Her face is thoughtful, and it strikes him that she seems almost nervous. “Gendry,” she begins, not meeting his eyes, “are you happy? With me? I mean, the way things are-“ 

She cuts off, as though the words have skidded unwanted past her lips. 

“Am I what?" he asks, staring hard at her. “Where is this coming from?” 

“Humour me," Arya says shortly. "Are you happy with me, the way I am, the way things are between us?” 

Her skin feels chilled by the nervous jolts of energy that run through her body. She watches the blue in eyes darken, a thick inky colour that makes him into some otherworldly creature. 

"More than I’ve ever been.” 

She has been waiting for the admission, but to hear it out loud - so bold, it is still a shock.

"I love you," he says casually, sipping his wine and looking at her quizzically. "I thought that was obvious.” 

His face is impassive, yet there are tiny gestures that spoke to her, tiny intimacies she will always recognise. The lines around his mouth promising a smile; the intense focus he fixes on her, and the little flicker of emotion in the deep blues of his eyes. 

Oh...

"And you love me, of course." The statement is sudden, matter-of-fact, leaving no room for argument. She has none, anyhow. 

"Yes." Arya holds her fragile heart and prays it does not break. “I do love you, Gendry. But not in the way you’ll want one day."

"What makes you think you know what I want?” he demands, his brows furrowing in disbelief. Confessions of love are meant to be grand and great, made in joy. Not regret. Isn’t this the moment some part of them had spent forever waiting for?

"I don’t." She lifts one shoulder in a plain gesture. "But this - the way we are now - Gendry, that’s who I am. I don’t want a house in the suburbs and barbecues in the backyard and revoltingly cute nicknames for each other. We’re only on this date for our anniversary because Hot Pie threatened to never speak to us again if we didn’t.” 

Their food arrives and Arya quickly schools her face into a pleasant smile for the waiter.

Gendry gapes at her, not bothering with the charade. Once the waiter leaves, he asks, “Do you think that’s what I want?” 

“Isn’t it?” she counters with an arched eyebrow. “Most people want to tell the whole world how they feel, but that’s not me. I’m not planning on changing anytime soon and I don’t want you to - to resent choosing me.” She swallows thickly and shovels a forkful of pasta in her mouth to mask her emotion. 

"What made you think I had a choice?" he answers wryly, and spreads his hands, struggling for the words that will explain this. "I do love you. And I don't want some damn house in the suburbs. I don't want barbecues, or dumb nicknames and sappy dates. I want you, in every way. Do you get it now?” 

Her eyes widen. She understands - how can she not, when she knows him in the most intimate, terrifying way? "So what now?"

"I don't know." His smile is slender as the crescent moon, with the same stunning radiance. "Romance has never really been our style-“ There is an odd dreaminess in his eyes, “-but I’m willing to make an exception for tonight, if you are.” 

"I'm not made for romance," Arya tells him calmly, and cups his face in one hand. "But maybe, for one night, I can figure it out."

He looks at her, and feels his heart swell with happiness.

"Maybe we both can," Gendry says. 

He leans over and finds her lips. She smiles and deepens the kiss.