Title: Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
Written by: Jamie & Jayde
Pairings: Arya/Jaqen, Arya/Gendry, Sansa/Joffrey, Sansa/Sandor, Dany/Jaqen, Mya/Jaqen, Hot Pie/Cake
Characters: Arya Stark, Sansa Stark, Gendry Baratheon, Jaqen H’ghar, Sandor Clegane, Daenerys Targaryen, Mya Baratheon, Hot Pie
Summary: Modern Westeros AU. When Sansa and Arya Stark decided to travel south to visit the elder sister’s boyfriend, Joffrey Baratheon, things don’t go exactly as planned. After an unexpected death, the sisters, along with several friends (both old and new) hit the road in an attempt to distance themselves from the crime committed.
It was a slightly colder day than Arya would have liked, the wind carrying a bite to it as she waited impatiently for Sansa to come down from the hotel room. Mostly, it was because she’d left her warmer jacket upstairs and didn’t want to make the walk to get it from where it was buried at the bottom of her bag. Plus, it had taken a lot of convincing on her part to even get Sansa to consider staying longer today, rather than just continuing their drive to King’s Landing. Arya supposed it would have just been easier if she’d told her sister about the fact that she’d called Gendry and arranged for him to meet them there when she’d found out he was going on leave.
But she’d doubted Sansa would have agreed to it, just like she doubted if she were to go upstairs that Sansa wouldn’t try to pack Arya’s bag for her and whisk them out of Moat Cailin. All she had to do was stall for another three hours or so, and then Gendry would be there. It helped that she’d promised not to touch any of Sansa’s things, and that she’d stop tossing her trash onto the floor, and mostly that she’d stop putting her feet on the dashboard. Personally, she didn’t see what the problem with any of those things were, but if saying she wouldn’t do them meant Sansa was willing to stick around Moat Cailin for a few extra hours… well, what was the harm in that?
Glancing up at the windows on the building, wondering if Sansa was even out of the room yet, Arya contemplated what more she could possibly promise that wouldn’t make her sister throw a fit when she found out Arya had conspired behind her back, and that she now would have two passengers she wasn’t overly fond of. It irritated Arya that Sansa seemed to let her boyfriend’s opinion of Gendry colour her own feelings for him. As far as Arya was concerned, Gendry was one of the better men she’d met. Far better than Joffrey that was certain. The problem would be getting Sansa to see past the fact that he was a bastard who happened to be a mechanic, getting her to see that he was one of Arya’s favourite people, and for good reason..
Sansa stepped out of the shower and shivered, wrapping her fluffy bathrobe more tightly around her body. She walked out of the en suite bathroom and made her way to the bed, drying herself quickly. She slipped into her favourite pair of pink skinny jeans and hummingbird t-shirt, hunting through her bag for the owl jumper that her mother had given her just before they’d left Winterfell.
Everyone was obsessed with giving her bird-related things, ever since Joffrey’s best friend Sandor Clegane had nicknamed her “little bird” when she was fourteen. The name had somehow stuck, and now Sansa was inundated with birds. She didn’t mind though, she quite liked the colourful creatures, and had asked for a pet bird numerous times, but Catelyn Stark was adamant: one pet only.
It took Sansa half an hour to blow-dry and straighten her hair, and she knew that Arya would be beyond annoyed with her for taking so long, but she didn’t much care. Arya was notorious for being late, it wouldn’t do her any harm to wait on Sansa for a change. After deciding to leave her hair loose for the day, Sansa stepped into her leopard print ballet flats, retrieved her purse from the bedside table and headed for the door, noticing at the last minute that Arya had left her jacket behind. Deciding to make peace with her sister for the day, Sansa grabbed the jacket and locked the door behind her.
Arya was waiting outside, pacing on the pavement as she muttered quietly to herself. Sansa tossed the jacket at her sister, “You’ll probably need this.” Arya blinked at her in surprise, causing Sansa to sigh. “Oh come on Arya, I’m not all bad. I can be nice to my sister when the occasion calls for it.” The look on Arya’s face now resembled a stunned mullet. Sansa laughed. “Come on, Horseface. Let’s go.. be touristy, or whatever it is you wanted to do.”
Because Sansa had been thoughtful enough to bring her jacket down for her, Arya bit her tongue when it wanted to throw an insult at her. Horseface. She hated it when anyone called her that. It wasn’t like she could control the way her face looked. And, in any case, she reminded herself she was trying to stay on Sansa’s good side. For Gendry. For herself, so she wouldn’t be stuck alone in a car with her sister, because while it seemed she was in a good enough mood now, Arya knew that Sansa could change that at any moment. At the slightest provocation. At least when it came to her.
The first place Arya wanted to visit were the ruins of Moat Cailin, a castle that had been there for centuries. But that was on the edge of town, where the land became swampy, full of bogs surrounding a long winding road that led to the broken, old fortress. Sansa objected to that, because it was farther than she wanted to drive, and she said walking around a place like that sounded like the least fun thing she could imagine. Finally, they settled on a movie, because neither of them could agree on anywhere they wanted to go, and after a while Arya forget she was supposed to be trying to make Sansa as happy as possible.
It would have been easier to remember if all the places Sansa wanted to go didn’t sound as boring as staring at a rock all day. Sansa wanted to go to a boutique and try on one of the cute dresses she’d seen in the window, but Arya thought the old military museum sounded better. Or Sansa wanted to go visit the indoor gardens, with the blooming hothouse roses that were advertised, only Arya thought it would be more interesting to stop at an old dreary looking corner store that seemed to sell various odds and ends. The movie was a compromise that turned out to not be a compromise at all when Arya saw that The Avengers was playing.
A certain amount of pleading took place, and an awful lot of reminding Sansa of all the very handsome heroes in the movie, before Arya was able to talk her into seeing it again. It was only the third time for her, the second for Sansa, unless she’d seen it with someone else. Doubtful. In any case, Arya enjoyed it as much this time as she had the others. By the time it was over, she had three missed calls from Gendry and several text messages asking where she was, if they were still in Moat Cailin and if she could still pick him up from the airport. The second Sansa started the car, Arya turned to her, trying her best to not look like she was going to ask a giant favour of her.
“Any chance you’d mind stopping by the airport?” Arya asked. “I’ll buy you all the lemoncakes you want.”
Meanwhile, at Moat Cailin National Airport, Gendry Baratheon was pacing in the arrivals lounge. His heart was racing, his palms were sweaty and his brain thought of one thing only. Arya Stark. He repeated her name over and over in his head, as though he was trying not to forget it (as if that could ever happen). AryaAryaArya. His best friend, his light in the darkness, the moon of his life (or as the Dothraki would say, jalan atthirari anni). They were like two sides of the same coin. Scratched and dinged, even when one side is bent and misshapen, that second side will always be there, contouring to the other side’s need. It was too bad for him that Arya did not return his affections and thought of him only as another brother. She had eyes only for Jaqen H’ghar.
Lifting his head to check the time on the wall clock, his eyes landed on a much more interesting sight. Arya. She’d changed a lot since he last saw her, four years ago when he’d first been deployed to Essos. That was no surprise, she’d only been fourteen then, and now here she stood in front of him, a grown woman. She was taller now, though not by much. Her dark brown hair had grown to just above her chest, hanging in loose waves that framed her face. He almost laughed, she hated having her hair loose, she’d obviously done it because she knew he liked her hair flowing free. Her eyes were still the same stormy grey that they’d been when he left, only now they shone with unshed tears. Seven hells, Arya had been beautiful at fourteen, but at eighteen she was absolutely stunning. His heart thudded in his chest, threatening to smash through his ribcage.
He walked towards her, but he hadn’t gotten very far when she broke into a run and launched herself into his arms. He caught her, crushing her to his chest, holding her as if she could disappear at any moment. Gods. Her body fit against him perfectly, her legs wrapped around his waist. She clung to him, shaking silently, and he buried his face in her hair, weeping unabashedly with the sheer joy of being back with her.
Arya disentangled herself from Gendry, stepping back so she could get a real look at him. He was bigger than he’d been before, stronger looking, though he’d always been strong. But he also looked like he was carrying the weight of something with him, probably whatever he’d seen in combat. Jaqen had the same look sometimes, when he thought she wasn’t watching. It was on the tip of her tongue to ask Gendry if he was alright, because he was crying, because he’d yet to really let go of her, his hand gripping her wrist as if he never meant to let it go. Instead she took a step back toward Sansa, pulling him with her.
“So, you should know, she’s not the happiest about this,” Arya began, glancing back at Gendry. Noticing the frown on his face she hurriedly continued, “I know I should have told her before that you’d be coming, but there never seemed like a good time to do it.”
The lie slipped out of her effortlessly. Of course there’d been time, plenty of times when Arya could have mentioned it. But she’d assumed Sansa would have vetoed the idea, even come up with scenarios where they simply drove right past Moat Cailin. She had taken it better than Arya had expected, something she attributed firmly to her sister’s love for lemoncakes. And there would be plenty of lemoncakes, all the lemoncakes Sansa wanted. Arya would buy every single one she could find if it meant there’d be as little objection to Gendry joining them as possible.
Because Gendry was her best friend. He was the only person, aside from Jon or Jaqen, she felt she could tell absolutely anything to. And even with the others, there were certain things she shied away from mentioning. But with Gendry, she’d always felt comfortable, always felt safe coming to him. She hadn’t seen him in four years, but she wrote him letters as often as she could. Not every week, because despite his assurances that it wouldn’t annoy him, she always thought it might. So they’d talked, written back and forth, sent pictures, told stories to each other, shared things, kept in touch. It just wasn’t the same though.
Arya had missed him, though she hadn’t realised quite how much until now. Really, all she wanted was to sit him down and really talk to him, hear all the things he hadn’t written in the letters. But Sansa was waiting, and there would be plenty of time for that on the trip. They still had some time before getting to King’s Landing. Perhaps she’d sit in the back with him and they’d chat while Sansa listened to her music and Lady took the front seat. Yes, that sounded perfect, then they’d be able to talk. For now, she just had to make sure Sansa didn’t change her mind and decide to leave Gendry here.
“Just, smile, and be nice, and act like you’ve got manners,” Arya told him as they approached the waiting Sansa.
Sansa had been watching Arya and Gendry’s reunion with a hitch in her throat. How had she never noticed the way Gendry looked at her little sister, his bright blue eyes brimming with love and affection. Seven hells, it was the exact same way her father looked at her mother every day. Sansa wasn’t entirely sure how she felt about the whole thing. Gendry was clearly infatuated with Arya, but from what Sansa knew, Arya was crazy about Jaqen and had never shown anything other than brotherly love towards Gendry. Shaking her head, she plastered a smile on her face as the two of them walked towards her. She may as well play nice, since Arya had promised to buy her as many lemoncakes as she wanted.
“Gendry! It’s so lovely to see you again, it’s been eons.” Sansa walked forward to hug the taller boy, surprising herself along with both Arya and Gendry. Gendry hugged her back awkwardly, his hand still holding her sisters wrist. Stepping back, Sansa fought back a smile. It was kind of cute, in a way.
Sansa led the way back to the car, and wasn’t surprised when Arya plopped Lady in the front passenger’s seat and climbed into the back with Gendry. They must’ve had a lot to talk about, they hadn’t seen each other in four years, and until Gendry had been deployed, the two of them had seen each other at least a few times a month since they were old enough to talk. Sansa sighed. She’d always wanted a friendship like Arya and Gendry, but her only real friend had been Jeyne Poole, and she’d moved off to who knows where with her crazy boyfriend Ramsay Bolton. Arya and Gendry were completely focused on each other, so Sansa turned on the CD player and blasted some Ed Sheeran. She deliberately picked one of the love-songs from the album, Lego House, simply to see if either Arya or Gendry would notice or if it would affect their behavior in any way. Sansa was meddling in things that didn’t concern her, and she felt devilishly happy about it. She liked Jaqen, and he made Arya happy, but he never looked at her the way Gendry did. And who knows, maybe Arya secretly harbored feelings for her gorgeous best friend.
The thing about Sansa’s music was that Arya only registered it in terms of finding it annoying. Sometimes, later, she’d catch herself humming a tune or singing a single line from one of the songs, but she never really listened to it while it was playing, at least not consciously. This time was no different. It was merely background noise to her, and now that Gendry was in the car, it would be background noise she could more readily ignore. Tuning everything else out, Arya turned in the seat, pulling her legs up so that her knee was touching Gendry’s thigh.
“So, tell me, has anything exciting happened since your last letter?” Arya asked, because it had been three weeks. And plenty of things could have happened in that amount of time.
Gendry swallowed, Arya’s words echoing in his head. Has anything exciting happened since your last letter? Oh, something had happened alright, but it wasn’t exciting, and it certainly wasn’t something that would bring a smile to Arya’s face. He took her hand in his own, stroking her fingers softly.
“I shot a little boy, Arya. It was an accident; he ran out onto the street at the wrong time and instead of pausing to check my target, I shot anyway. He died instantly.” More tears threatened to fall from his eyes, and he angrily wiped them away with his free hand. Seven hells, when did he turn into such a craven? “A little boy died because of me Arya. A little boy that was someone’s son, possibly someone’s brother. Can you imagine the pain you’d feel if someone took the life of your brothers, or Sansa? I took a life that was never mine to take. Does that answer your question?” He knew he was acting like an asshole, but he’d been reliving that horrible moment every single night since it happened, and talking about it now was the last thing he wanted to do, but because it was Arya he was talking to, he told her anyway.
Arya hadn’t intended to make him upset with her question. Hadn’t realised that something of that magnitude may have happened to him. Really, she’d meant had anything good happened. But now that he’d said it, now that she knew why he had that look about him, she wasn’t sure what to say. So she squeezed the hand holding hers, hoping that it conveyed that she was sorry. Sorry that it had happened, sorry that he was carrying those feelings inside of him, sorry that she’d asked, here in the car where Sansa might overhear. Because she knew this wasn’t the sort of thing Gendry would share with just anyone. Arya glanced toward the front of the car, but from what she could tell, Sansa wasn’t listening to them, and in any case, probably couldn’t even hear them.
If there was one thing Arya prided herself on, it was that she didn’t cry easily. Yes, perhaps she’d teared up a bit when she’d seen Gendry, but she hadn’t cried. Now, she couldn’t stop herself from feeling it, in her throat, the sting of it in her eyes. Can you imagine the pain you’d feel if someone took the life of your brothers, or Sansa? The words echoed in her mind, and not just because she was imagining it. No, it was because of how he’d said it. It didn’t matter to her that his tone was harsh, not when she could hear how it was killing him to think on it. And seeing him with tears on his cheeks nearly undid her. Arya didn’t know what to say, knew that perhaps anything she did say wouldn’t be enough, so she held his hand tightly, and moved closer to him, so she could rest her head against his shoulder and just sat with him as he cried quietly.