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boy seeking seeker

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Arya Stark was a rather frustrating presence in Gendry’s life. She seemed, especially in recent weeks, to take issue with his very existence. It made sense to him - she was a wealthy, talented, effortlessly intelligent, pretty, and well-liked girl and there was no reason for her to spare him a second glance. Still, he wasn’t sure why she felt the need to make her disdain so very obvious. She held her head high around him, as if trying her best to stand taller than him (she would have needed a step stool to come close).

Arya had the best of everything - her quidditch equipment was always state-of-the-art, her school robes never second-hand. She had been named Gryffindor seeker in her third year, and was undeniably up to the task, though it had always sat funny with Gendry, her brothers and Theon never even considering holding an open tryout for the position.

Gendry knew that Arya didn’t like him much - he wasn’t fun like her, didn’t share her ability to make everyone smile. He was poor and sullen and the last person who would ever been invited to one of those elite parties she and her siblings attended with Professor Baelish. Since Christmas, though, Arya seemed particularly annoyed by Gendry. He had noticed her at the celebrations after their win against Hufflepuff - a win that could be almost exclusively credited to Arya’s superb seeking. But when he had briefly considered telling her how impressed he was by her catch, he had become distracted by the flowers in her hair and ended up offering her only a nod as he passed by. Tom and Anguy had been going on about how especially pretty she looked that evening, and Gendry hadn’t agreed - she was always pretty, it was part of what made her so irritating. The flowers had been a pleasant addition though, and seemed enough to render him even more incapable of speaking to her.

Since that night, her attitude towards him had taken a turn for the miserable, and a part of him was worried she had heard him tell Anguy and Tom that someone as rich as Arya wouldn’t deign to be in the presence of him and his second-hand broomstick for longer than absolutely necessary. This seemed sort of unfair to Gendry, since the statement was undoubtedly true. No, Arya Stark certainly had a problem with him, and all he could do was his very best to ignore her.

That was what made Arya so very frustrating. Ignoring her was next to impossible. She was pretty, with her striking grey eyes and expressive eyebrows. Her smiles seemed effortless, her hair always framing her face nicely, even when it was a sweaty mess after practice. But on top of this, on top of how unfair it seemed that someone so attractive could be so stuck-up, Arya Stark was the most exhilarating quidditch player Gendry had ever seen play at Hogwarts.

She was phenomenal, darting through her teammates and opponents, never once looking unsure of herself. Her handling was perfect, her reflexes unmatched. Not once in her years as Gryffindor seeker had she looked like she might lose a match. The team had won two straight championships, and she had not lost a game since she had been named to the team.

Today, a cold day at the end of January, her talent was on full display. Arya had spent the whole match messing with Joffrey Baratheon. Joffrey almost crashed and even once fell off his broom (only a few feet from the ground) as Arya pulled expertly out of each dive. Gendry knew what she was doing, and he couldn’t help but almost smile - she was going to piss Joffrey off enough that by the time she actually saw the snitch, he would hesitate to even follow her. She was brilliant. It was too bad about her personality, because from a purely quidditch-based perspective, Gendry thought himself the smallest bit enamoured with her.

Gendry watched as Ramsay Bolton approached her, and was relieved to see that there wasn’t a bludger in sight. He briefly considered sending a bludger at Ramsay, but the Slytherin beater was quite close to Arya, and Gendry did not want to injure Gryffindor’s star. He instead elected to send the next bludger that came his way in the direction of Joffrey, hitting the tail of his broom perfectly and sending the Slytherin seeker into a brief tailspin.

He glanced around the field again, his eyes - as they often did when she was playing like this - finding Arya again. Bolton was still tailing her, and Gendry was wondering what he was trying to do, with no bludger in sight, when the Slytherin wound up his bat. No. The crack and cry from the other side of the pitch seemed to ripple through the entire stadium. There was a brief surge of concerned yelling, and then a hush as Arya Stark hit the ground, a small pool of blood forming on the grass around her head.

Jon reached her first, rushing to kneel at his sister’s side, calling desperately for Coach Tarth to get the nurse. Gendry dismounted beside Pod the keeper, who looked like he wanted to be sick. They reached Arya with the rest of the team, along with a few Slytherins and Coach Tarth, who looked furious. Gendry thought himself a relatively angry person, so the feeling coursing through him was not totally new. He had never thought Arya Stark delicate - she was not a fragile being, not someone who would break easily, if at all. Seeing her lying motionless was odd. She looked smaller, somehow. Her sharp face oddly soft - she could have almost been sleeping, had it not been for the blood on her face and in the grass.

Gendry realized then, how truly insane Bolton was. Bolton could have killed Arya, had he hit her in the wrong spot. There could be permanent damage from a play like this, it could derail her entire life, her quidditch career, everything. And Gendry had watched it happen. He had sent a bludger at Joffrey instead. He could have taken Bolton out - should have taken Bolton out. It was his job, after all! He shook with rage at both himself and Ramsay Bolton, his scowl deepening and his fists balling. He scowled down at Arya’s tiny, unmoving body and watcher her blink her eyes open. She was confused and clearly in pain, her eyes finding Jon’s, then darting between the rest of the crowd around her. Her eyes met his and seemed to grow steely, and he turned away, unable to look at her any longer.

He marched towards the small group of Slytherins huddled around Bolton, who looked unconcerned, even amused. Gendry balled his fists, glad that they didn’t have their wands. He had no desire to duel Bolton - he just wanted to hit him until he got the image of Arya unmoving form out of his mind.

“No you don’t,” said a gruff voice, grabbing Gendry by the arm. Professor Seaworth, head of Gryffindor house, pulled him away from the Slytherins. “We’ll handle this, Waters. He’ll be suspended, you can count on that.” Seaworth sounded half as angry as Gendry felt, but there was a firmness in his gaze that Gendry trusted - Bolton would not go unpunished. This didn’t make Gendry feel any better, though. He nodded at Seaworth and turned to join the team again. Arya’s stretcher was already on its way to the hospital wing, Jon still holding her hand as they left the stadium. Gendry watched them go, stomach turning as he replayed the fall again and again in his mind, knowing he could have prevented it.

Chapter Text

Gendry flopped onto the armchair feeling almost giddy. It wasn’t a sensation he was used to - it felt sort of similar to nausea, if nausea could be pleasant. They had won - they had beaten Slytherin, he had kept Bolton far away from his seeker, and Gryffindor was one step closer to bringing the cup back to Professor Seaworth’s office. He didn’t want to admit to himself how much Arya Stark was contributing to his good mood.

He watched her across the room, laughing about something with her sister. He envied her smile - it came so naturally to her. He could hardly imagine being able to light up a room with just a grin.

Gendry hadn’t meant to flirt with her, nor, he was sure, had she meant to flirt with him. But as he replayed their walk back to the castle over and over again in his head, his thoughts could help but linger on her teasing smile. He had found in recent weeks that she wasn’t so bad - difficult, yes, and often rather obtuse, but not quite the entitled brat he had always thought her. This development was worrying - he already thought Arya Stark pretty, and he already found her absolutely enthralling on the quidditch pitch. The last thing Gendry needed was an Arya Stark that was nice.

He looked back to her in time to see Ned Dayne - the smarmy Hufflepuff seeker who really had no business being at a Gryffindor quidditch celebration - pull Arya into a hug from behind. Gendry scowled.

“You look miserable, considering the game you just played,” a voice said, and a girl Gendry didn’t know sat down on the arm of his chair. “You were on fire today.” She was pretty, he acknowledged, in a conventional sort of way. Anguy would be all over her, he was certain. The girl ran a hand through Gendry’s hair. “You look like you could use some cheering up.” Gendry glanced up and saw Arya glancing over at them, a funny look on her face. He pushed the girl’s hand out of his hair, blushing, as Arya turned back to Ned.

To his horror, Ned Dayne - the chattiest, dullest, blondest prick he had ever heard speak - immediately reached for Arya’s hand and brought it to his lips. She blushed pleasantly, and Gendry felt as though he might be sick. Ned stepped closer to Arya, her eyes wide, her lips parted in a way that Gendry would think rather cute, had they not been in such close proximity to Ned fucking Dayne’s. Then, before Gendry could look away, the gap between Arya and Ned’s lips disappeared entirely, and Ned Dayne - Ned Dayne! - was cupping Arya’s face and kissing her.

Gendry looked up at the girl at his side. She was looking at her nails, bored. “Hey,” Gendry said, and she looked down at him with interest. He put his hands on her waist and pulled her into his lap, her eyes lighting up and a smile forming on her bubblegum pink lips. He kissed her enthusiastically, not wanting to think about what was going on across the common room. The girl responded eagerly, her tongue caressing his, her hand moving from his face to his neck to his arm, where she touched is bicep with interest. He felt bad, kissing her without even knowing her name, kissing her because Arya Stark was kissing Ned Dayne and his immediate solution was to distract himself from the unpleasantness of it all.

He pulled away in time to watch Ned follow Arya out of the portrait hole. He no longer felt giddy, only nauseous. At least he knew now that his quidditch-crush on Arya Stark had evolved into a real, painful, unavoidable, all-encompassing regular crush. How wonderful.

“I’m Myranda, by the way,” the girl on his lap said with a grin. “You’re a really great kisser.”

Chapter Text

Gendry had never liked parties, but this one felt especially awful. First, there was the fact that his suit was a size too small, and he was certain everyone could tell. Then there was his date, who looked very nice but seemed far more interested in the handsome young keeper of the Wimbourne Wasps. This didn’t truly bother Gendry all that much, though, because there were three even more frustrating aspects of this stupid Christmas party in Petyr Baelish’s office.

1. Arya Stark had flowers in her hair again.
2. Arya Stark was wearing a small, rose-coloured dress, exactly the shade of her cheeks when they blushed, and she wore it perfectly - it managed to cling to her form while also flowing lightly around her, mesmerizing him. Gendry didn’t know much about dresses, but this was a good dress.
3. Arya Stark had arrived at the party on the arm of Ned Dayne.

Gendry has never seen her in pink, but she suited it - even if it was for Ned Dayne. Ned Dayne, who now stood barely a foot in front of Gendry, babbling on to his friend about - oh.

“That’s the worst part, mate. She’s fit but she’s a total freeze.” Dayne’s friend gave him a look of sympathy.

“That blows, Ned. Think she’ll loosen up if you get a bit of firewhiskey into her.” Gendry felt his eye twitch.

“Nah, think I just need to keep telling her she’s pretty. It’s not as if I’m lying - she’s hot, I mean, look at her.” All three boys looked over at Arya, who was chatting happily with her friend Meera Reed. Ned carried on, and Gendry tore his eyes away from Arya to scowl at the blond prick’s head. “Every time I think we might, she makes up some excuse and I’m left taking care of myself after she’s gone. If she’s not willing soon, I’m gonna have to move on, find someone easier.” His friend nodded. “I mean, I like her enough, she’s alright to talk to and she’s sort of funny. Great little tits. But a man has needs, you know?” Gendry might have laughed out loud at Ned Dayne describing himself as ‘a man’, had he not been too busy fuming. Great little tits. The notion that this pathetic prick had been anywhere near Arya Stark’s body was criminal. Gendry swallowed as Ned and his friend moved away from the punch bowl. He had to tell Arya what he had overheard, though the thought of doing so made him feel sick to his stomach.

-

“Can I have a word?” He asked, and Arya jumped.

“Go ahead,” she shrugged, already looking disinterested in what he had to say. Gendry sighed. This was already more difficult than he had hoped.

“Privately,” he said, “it’s about Sansa and Anguy.” She looked up at him curiously, and he motioned out onto the small balcony, closing the door behind them.

“What’s up between Sansa and Anguy?” Arya asked impatiently, “Make it quick, Ned’s probably looking for me.” Gendry swallowed nervously, but remembered Ned’s words and pushed on.

“It’s not about Sansa or Anguy,” he admitted, “It’s about Ned.” Her grey eyes grew sharp at his words.

“What about him?” she snapped. Gendry let out a deep breath, steeling himself. This might be more trouble than it was worth.

“He’s not… good for you. He’s using you -,” Gendry started, wishing he knew how to word this. Arya scoffed, her cheeks red with anger now.

“He’s not good for me?” She spat, “What would you know about being good for anyone?” Gendry had expected this from her, but he couldn’t help but let out a noise of exasperation regardless. Arya wasn’t done. “And what is he using me for? Quidditch? Are you worried I’m going to tell him all about your little drills and secret plays? Worried I might be coaching him on how to be a better seeker?” Gendry blinked at her. She thought this was about quidditch? Quidditch was the last thing on his mind at the moment. “That’s it, isn’t it? You can’t possibly accept that someone actually likes me for me. Not everyone thinks I’m a bitch, you know, and just because you don’t think I’m pretty, Waters, doesn’t mean no one else -,” What?

“I’ve never said that,” he insisted, and she scoffed. He had no idea why she was so certain that he did not find her pretty. However, he wasn’t sure that he wanted her to know that the opposite was true, so he carried on. “It’s not about quidditch, alright? I know you wouldn’t tell anyone about our gameplans, and I don’t care if you teach him to be a better seeker. He could spend the next five years learning your tricks and he still wouldn’t be half of the player you are.” It was only the truth, but her eyes grew a little wide, as if his words had caught her off guard. “It’s about sex,” Gendry said, and he winced internally at the thought of explaining this to her.

Sex?” Arya breathed, “Ned’s not using me for sex, Waters, we haven’t even had sex.”

“I know that,” he said with exasperation, his face growing hot, “because he was telling his friend at the punch table that he might have to break up with you because you’re a total tease who backs out every time he almost gets into your pants and he’s realizing that it’s not going to be as easy as he had hoped.” He said it as quickly as he could. Arya blinked at him.

“No,” she said, “Ned’s not like that. He wouldn’t say that about me, not ever.” But her eyes flashed briefly with concern and then - oh, he hated it - hurt. But before he could feel too bad for Arya, her face hardened. “He’s not like that,” she insisted. “And what Ned and I do when we’re alone is the furthest thing from your business.” He stared at her, disbelieving. He had thought Arya Stark a lot of things, but never foolish.

“Trust me, it’s not exactly high on the list of things I want to think about,” he snapped, “But I suppose if you’re too stupid to see that your boyfriend’s getting bored of you, that’s your problem, Stark.”

“And if you’re bitter because other people are happy, that’s your problem.” Bitter?

“I’m not bitter,” Gendry spat, now very aware of how close she was standing to him. “I just thought you were smarter than this.” He looked down at her dress. It was beautiful. She was beautiful. And it was all for Ned fucking Dayne. “Do you even like pink?” he accused.

“I don’t mind it,” she said defensively, “Ned loves it on me.” Hah.

“Think Ned would prefer it off of you,” he snorted, and Arya shoved him hard in the chest. She was stronger than she looked, and Gendry stepped backwards, grabbing her elbows lightly, steadying them both. Holding her in place, they glared at each other for a moment. Her eyes were frightening, like a winter’s sky after a storm. This close to her, he could see the flowers in her hair properly. Hellebores. They’re so beautiful, it’s sort of cool that they can be deadly. He almost laughed. “You put hellebores in your hair,” he breathed, not sure why he wanted to voice this thought. “Sort of fitting.” She looked confused for a moment, her eyebrows coming together. He had never been so close to her - she had a very light dusting of freckles on her nose. He felt his face shift slightly downward and - his heart sped up - she brought her chin up towards him. She was very close, far too close, looking up at him through her eyelashes. He tried to remind himself that she had a boyfriend. But he’s a shithead. And she’s out here with you. He glanced down at her lips. They were parted, her bottom lip pouting slightly. He could close the distance between them so easily, if he wanted to. He wanted to, he wanted to.

The door slammed open and they jumped apart. “What are you doing?” Myranda snapped, “Standing under the mistletoe with her - what is this?” Gendry glanced up and saw that Baelish had hung an unnecessarily large bushel of mistletoe on the balcony. Myranda stared at him and Gendry rolled his eyes.

“Oh, you and I are barely even dating, Myranda. Go back inside and talk to some quidditch player.” He snapped, and two small hands immediately made contact with his chest again. Arya looked furious.

“You’re a prick, you know that, Waters?” She snapped, before turning to Myranda. “I’m sorry that you’ve had to put up with this arsehole, Myranda. You’re better off ditching him.” Arya swept past, leaving Gendry and Myranda alone.

“Did you kiss her?” Myranda asked sharply.

“What?” Gendry said, “No, I -,”

“Good,” Myranda said, relaxing a bit. “I didn’t want you to be a cheater, you seemed decent. We’re done, by the way. Not that we were ever properly dating.” Gendry blinked at her.

“Alright…,” he said, “Sorry.”

“Try to be less blunt in the future. Girls don’t like to be treated like that.” She glanced over her shoulder, where the party was carrying on inside. “You like her?”

“No.” He said it too quickly. Myranda raised an eyebrow.

“You’re a good kisser, Waters,” she said, and Gendry blushed. “Terrible liar, though.” He looked at Myranda sharply and she shrugged unapologetically. “Anyway, I’m going to go chat up that Wasps keeper. Think he’ll feel bad for me if I say I caught my date under the mistletoe with someone else?” Gendry chuckled and nodded, glancing upwards again. The mistletoe seemed to have shrunk.

Chapter Text

Gendry had some happy memories of Christmas, though none of them were recent. They had never had much money, but his mother would always take him somewhere nice for dinner, somewhere where you ordered your food from a waitress instead of at the counter. She usually got him one gift from his Christmas list, and it had always been enough for him.

When he turned eleven and had his world flipped on its head, Christmases became more precious - he felt terrible, leaving her at home alone for so much of the year while he was off at wizard school, of all things. She got sick in his first year, which made going back to Hogwarts after that first Christmas difficult. She refused to let him stay with her, insisting that he was special and magic and had to go learn his spells so that he could make her better her one day.

Christmases were lonely after she died. In fact, this was the first Christmas in three years that had seen him spend any significant time in another person’s company. The only gifts he had received since his mum had died were candies from Tom (Anguy didn’t buy into the corporate greed associated with the holiday). And now, here he was, surrounded by towers of dusty old magical junk, holding a Christmas gift from Arya Stark.

He didn’t know why he insisted that he find Arya something in return. She didn’t want for anything, he was certain of that. But it felt wrong, accepting the ridiculous book she had found for him without trying to offer her something in return. And so he searched. He tapped at an old gramophone, asking her what her boyfriend had given her - she hadn’t yet opened it - and what she had given her boyfriend - nothing. This made the book in his hands feel rather special. He sifted through drawers and cabinets, searching for something she would like. Something nice. Whatever Ned Dayne had bought for her was surely new and expensive and ostentatious. Gendry knew that whatever he found wouldn’t measure up, but maybe he could make her smile - he would like that.

She was laughing at an ugly ring when he found it, a delicate little necklace at the bottom of an old jewelry box. He looked at the charm - it was hand-painted and fading, but he thought it sort of pretty. It depicted a little acorn surrounded by flowering thistles. She would wear this, he was almost sure. “How about this?” he asked. “It reminds me of you.” Arya came over and inspected the pendant, a small smile arriving on her lips.

“Because of the thorns?” she joked, and Gendry smiled. He hadn’t considered that, but he supposed it was fitting.

“Yeah, probably,” he said.

“I like it,” Arya said, “It’s pretty.” Gendry nodded. This was closer to the reason why the necklace had made him think of her. She was pretty and he was utterly incapable of ignoring it. She was wearing a thick sweater and her hair was loose around her neck, a little bit messy. She looked cozy and content. He remembered the hug she had given him the day before and he wondered if she might give him another one.

Without warning, Arya turned away from him and pulled her hair to one side. Gendry stared for a moment, swallowing nervously. She wanted him to place it around her neck, an act that seemed so intimate, almost sacred. And she was asking him, wordlessly, to give her this gift.

Gendry reached over her and brought the chain back around. His hands felt too big to be handling such a delicate thing. Arya inhaled audibly when his fingers brushed lightly against her neck as he did up the clasp.

“There,” he breathed, and she waited a moment before turning to face him. She bit her lip as she touched the necklace softly.

“Thanks,” she said quietly, “It’s really - I like it a lot.” Gendry nodded, his heart slamming against his ribcage. It looked perfect on her - but, then again, most things seemed to. Arya glanced up and met his gaze and he was caught by her eyes for a moment, remembering how close they had been that night on the balcony. And then he remembered why they had argued. And he remembered that she was somehow still Ned Dayne’s girlfriend. He stepped away.

-

It was slightly faded and it hadn’t cost him a knut, but he was sure that Arya Stark had truly liked the gift he had chosen for her. And that made this his happiest Christmas in years.

Chapter Text

He didn’t want the holidays to end. Gendry had grown rather fond of his nights spent in an empty common room with Arya Stark, laughing at her descriptions of Sansa attempting to play quidditch with her last summer. He liked studying in the library with only Arya, sharing gummy worms and watching her proofread his essays. He loved having the quidditch pitch all to themselves for hours on end, perfecting Arya’s dodging ability. She roped him into useless endeavors, like practicing his beater swings with snowballs. He found that he had trouble saying no to her, but he didn’t really mind.

He desperately wanted the holidays to end, because he wanted Arya Stark to be single.

She sat on the opposite end of the sofa, watching Podrick and Sansa by the window. He wondered if Pod would have it in him to make a move tonight.

“Think he does it?” Gendry asked. Arya looked over at him. “Kisses her at midnight, I mean.”

“Oh,” Arya said, “I hope so. I mean, she’s giving him ever signal possible.” As she said it, her sister reapplied her lip gloss and Gendry and Arya grinned at each other. Gendry had been doing far more grinning than he was used to of late. He had his suspicions that Arya had something to do with that, which made him feel a very odd mixture of thrilled and frustrated. He glanced over at her again, watching her sister by the window. He wished he could kiss her at midnight.

Sansa’s radio began its countdown to midnight, and Gendry crossed his arms automatically. He wasn’t going to kiss Arya Stark. Arya might not even want to kiss him, and she had a boyfriend besides. He glanced over to see that she had also crossed her arms.

“Seven!” cried the host. Pod and Sansa fidgeted by the window. Gendry didn’t think Pod had it in him, but he hoped he did.

“Three!” Arya pushed a strand of hair out of her face and re-crossed her arms. Gendry swallowed. If Pod did throw caution to the wind… If Pod was brave enough to kiss the girl he liked…

“Happy New Year!” The host called, and some weird, old-fashioned music started up. Gendry rolled his eyes as Pod and Sansa politely smiled at each other and looked away.

“Well, that did not go how I had hoped,” Arya said. Gendry nodded, not wanting to look at her. It would have been crazy to do it, he had no idea why his mind had come so close to even considering moving across the couch and tilting her face up, kissing her soundly as the strange music played.

“Me neither.”

-

Pod had insisted on walking Sansa back to the Ravenclaw dorms, leaving Gendry and Arya to take down the decorations. Gendry was attempting to shake the thought of kissing Arya, but Arya seemed determined to make life difficult for him.

“Think he makes a move?” Arya asked, waving her wand and forcing a roll of streamers to wind itself up. Gendry shrugged, fairly sure that Pod was too much of a coward to make a move tonight - something Gendry could relate to. Plus, Arya has a boyfriend. “He should have just done it at midnight. What was stopping him?” Gendry folded Sansa’s banner and made a noncommittal noise. Maybe he just wanted to wait til he was alone with her. Gendry picked up a sparkling headband to add to Arya’s pile of her sister’s belongings. “He should have just taken him in his arms and told her he liked her and - oh!” Arya spun, nearly running right into Gendry’s chest. He would have loved to take her in his arms and tell her he liked her and -

“I think that’s hers, too,” he said, doing his best to sound casual. Arya nodded up at him and smiled.

“You’ve got confetti in your hair,” she chuckled. To Gendry’s horror, Arya proceeded to stand on her tiptoes and run her hand through the front of his hair, pulling a small piece of golden confetti out. It seemed impossible that something as delicate as Arya’s hand was capable of rendering him speechless, but he could not help but stare at her stupidly as she touched him. When he did find his voice again, his words came out quieter than he intended

“What else do you think Pod should have done?” Gendry asked. “After telling her that he liked her?” He could feel his heartbeat in his throat. She was very pretty, her hair falling around her shoulders, her grey eyes on his.

Arya blinked at him, as if she too had briefly lost her ability to speak. “Um,” she swallowed, looking away from him. “Tuck her hair out of her face, I guess. He could have told her she looked nice.” Gendry nodded. He could do that. He could reach out and tuck a strand of hair away, he could tell her how pretty she looked in the firelight.

“And?” He asked. He hoped she would say it. Who cared about her stupid prick of a boyfriend, really? It was one kiss, and she was going to break up with him as soon as he returned, surely. Arya met Gendry’s eyes again.

“And then he should have kissed her,” she breathed, and he felt a rush of adrenaline at the look in her eyes.

“She’d have liked that?” Gendry asked. Arya nodded, and Gendry felt as if the whole world was a little bit golden, and all he could see was Arya Stark looking up at him, her eyes alight, her perfect lips parted slightly.

Cornish Pixies,” came Pod’s solemn voice, and Arya turned away, watching the portrait hole swing open. Gendry stepped back, closing his eyes momentarily. They had been so close. Gendry waved his wand at the confetti on the floor. It was for the best, really, that Pod had appeared. She had a boyfriend. The least he could do was give her a couple of weeks. It wasn’t fair of him to come on to her like that. She didn’t seem to mind, though.

Chapter Text

Arya Stark tended to catch Gendry off guard more than he cared to admit, but exiting the portrait hole to an Arya Stark with blonde hair nearly took the wind out of him. Her hair wasn’t properly blonde - the roots were a pleasant light orange, and it faded into a bright, silvery white. It was striking and bizarre and she looked sort of like an angel from one of those old paintings - if angels wore Gryffindor robes and scowled at him.

Anguy, who had always been vocal about his preference for blondes, stopped in his tracks as Gendry carried on past Arya and Wylla. Gendry rolled his eyes and waited for his friend. “Whoa, Stark, you look hot as a blonde,” Anguy said, and now Arya rolled her eyes. Common ground, Gendry thought lightly.

“We’re going to be late,” Gendry called back to his friend, who winked at Arya before catching up with Gendry.

“Cockblock,” Anguy accused, though he was smiling. Gendry raised his eyebrows.

“You’re trying to get with Arya Stark now?” Gendry did his best to sound casual. Anguy shrugged.

“I mean, if she stays blonde I might have to give it a go,” Anguy grinned, “Not that I’d be turning her away normally - she’s hot when she puts in a bit of effort.” Gendry gave his friend a look of derision and shook his head. Anguy really was a prick.

-

Arya arrived at practice with her hair back to its natural colour - a deep, dark brown. “Your hair’s normal again,” Gendry said as they stepped onto the quidditch pitch. He had liked it blonde, but he preferred it like this - it was less jarring and far more Arya.

“Yeah,” Arya said, “send my apologies to your friend.” Gendry snorted.

“Anguy’s a prick,” he shrugged, “You didn’t look any better blonde.”

“Thanks,” she replied sarcastically. Gendry paused. Ah, shit.

“No, that’s not-,” he started, but she evidently didn’t want to hear what he meant.

“Leave it, Waters,” Arya said, greeting the rest of the team. He swallowed as she swept past him. Gendry knew that expressing himself had never been a strong point, but he really did need to figure out how to speak to Arya Stark.

Chapter Text

Gendry couldn’t help but scowl all practice long. “I think they’re still together,” Pod had shrugged when Gendry asked about Ned and Arya. He couldn’t believe it - she had been so clearly ready to break up with Dayne during the holidays. What on earth could have changed her mind? Was Dayne that good at apologizing? He did get her a gift. Gendry swallowed at the thought. Arya wasn’t like that, though, surely. She didn’t care about that sort of thing.

Yet she didn’t meet his eye when she arrived at practice, and Gendry’s heart sank. What did that prick buy her that might convince her stay with him? The rain plastered Gendry’s hair to his face as he spent all practice thinking about Arya and Ned, his scowl growing deeper and deeper.

“Stark, wait a minute,” Gendry called as the started towards the showers. She spun to face him, soaked from head to toe. “So, you and Dayne are still together, then?” He did his best to sound casual, though he could hear the nerves in his voice. Arya sighed, and Gendry knew he wouldn’t like what she said next.

“No. Yes, I guess. I don’t know. I planned to end things but then he gave me this stupidly expensive Christmas gift and -,” Of course. Of course!

“Oh,” Gendry said, letting out a hollow laugh, “Makes sense.” Because it did. Arya Stark had the best of everything, why should that change now? Gendry wondered how much Ned’s gift had cost him. Fifty galleons? Likely more.

“No, that’s not - it’s this ridiculous diamond necklace that cost him more than anyone should ever -,” Arya started, but Gendry didn’t want to think more about how much Ned had spent on her.

“Sounds like it did the job, though, if you’re still with him.” He spat. He couldn’t believe he had thought that this stuff didn’t matter, that his worn out shoulder pads and his incomplete booklist didn’t matter.

“I never said it worked, only that -,”

“Only that he bought you an expensive gift and it stopped you from breaking up with him?” he laughed. He couldn’t help it. Arya had been so insistent that she was going to dump Ned, and then the prick shows up with diamonds and she’s suddenly willing to be with him? Gendry glanced at Arya’s neck and felt briefly winded. She had taken the little acorn necklace off. Of course she did, you idiot. He had found the necklace in a dusty old box. It was probably worth as much as a pack of Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum. So, just barely within your budget, then. “I just want to get a clear picture. Guess I shouldn’t be surprised.” He couldn’t believe he had been so stupid.

“If you want a clear picture, maybe you should stop interrupting me.” Arya snapped, her eyes alive with anger. Her hair was sticking to her face, too, and he wished he didn’t think her so pretty. It made the disappointment that much worse. “What do you mean, you shouldn’t be surprised?” Did she really need it spelled out for her?

“Oh come on,” he laughed, “Girls like you are pretty easy to impress, so long as his Gringotts vault is full. I mean, if he’s giving you expensive jewelry, how could you say no?” She stared at him, as if she had no idea what he meant. As if her ripping off his stupid little pendant as soon as she’s offered diamonds was something he should feel alright with. As if her going back to Ned because of a necklace was something that should sit well with him.

“Girls like me?” she repeated furiously.

“Yeah,” Gendry said, “Girls who would rather have a new diamond necklace than a shred of self-respect.” Arya’s jaw dropped. She looked cold and small and hurt and he hated it. But if she wanted a comforting hug, she had a boyfriend for that. Gendry shrugged and walked away.

“Better that than a boy who would rather be a prick than actually listen to what I was trying to say!” She called after him. Gendry swallowed but did not stop. He had listened to her, hadn’t he?

He had heard her tell him how Ned had bought her a ‘stupidly expensive’ diamond necklace. Gendry replayed her words in his head. He had interrupted her a lot. But she had disposed of his gift, surely that said something. And then Gendry had questioned the existence of her self-respect. Shame coursed through his body as he entered the changing room, which was mercifully empty now. He was such a dick.

He had never been good with his feelings. He had always been quiet and closed-off and surly, and this had only worsened when his mother died. Anger was an issue for him. His mother had been so different, so calm and easy-going. Gendry supposed this was what his useless father had left for him - a mop of black hair, a foot of height on most guys his age, and the inability to not be an absolute arsehole when he was mad. Of course he was upset with Arya, surprised at her staying with Ned, hurt by the necklace thing. But he had been cruel, and he had hardly even let her speak.

He thought of her as he showered. Was she still out there, rain-soaked and hurt and angry? She was right - she was always right, wasn’t she? - better a girl with a nice necklace than a boy incapable of being anything but a dick. She should have slapped him.

Girls like you. What the fuck had he meant by that? There were no girls like Arya Stark.

-

Gendry walked back to Gryffindor tower with his head down, thinking about Arya, thinking about how he would apologize. He looked up as he approached the portrait hole and saw Ned Dayne leaning against the wall.

“Waters,” greeted Dayne with a nod, as if they were friends, “Have you seen Arya? I had told her I’d meet her here after your practice.”

“On her way up,” Gendry shrugged, though he had no idea if it was true.

“Have to thank you, Waters,” Ned said with a brotherly nod, “Scheduling practice on a day like this, she’ll need a bit of warming up. Good excuse to get close.” He gave Gendry a knowing look, and Gendry carried on towards the fat lady. He couldn’t hit Ned Dayne only moments after he had just lectured himself on not letting anger get the best of him. He wanted to, though. “One guy to another, you know,” Ned carried on.

Dragonpox,” Gendry said, climbing into the portrait. He had forgotten how much of a prick Ned Dayne was, and his plans to apologize to Arya were set aside. If she wanted to spend her evenings getting close with that idiot, that was her right. And it was his right to be completely thrown by her choices.

Chapter Text

The bar was busy, but Gendry was glad of it, if it meant he got more time to speak to her. He had a lot to say to Arya Stark, probably too much to get across right now. “Listen,” he said, and Arya looked up, “I meant it when I said I was a dick. I shouldn’t have been so -,” Awful. Unfair. Horrible and shitty to the person who I fell asleep thinking about last night. And the night before that.

“Correct?” Was I though?

“Harsh,” Gendry decided upon, leaning down to be sure that she could hear him. She looked happy right now, like the last thing she wanted to do was talk about their fight. Fights. He supposed they had time for that. Gendry’s heart swelled at the thought of their training sessions, where he could be alone with her, apologize properly. Maybe he would find the resolve to tell her just why he had been such an absolute jerk. Maybe. First, he wanted to know what Ned Dayne had done today that made him especially break-up-worthy.

“What brought you to your senses, Stark?” Gendry asked.

“I realized he didn’t like the flowers I put in my hair,” she shrugged, and for the smallest sliver of time, Gendry felt like the world stopped. What the fuck was wrong with Ned Dayne? How could he be a seeker when he was so obviously blind? Gendry couldn’t help but raise his eyebrows, smiling slightly down at Arya. He thought of the Christmas party, the little hellebores and snowdrops that he had liked so much. Surely she knew what she was doing to him, saying that, giving him some hope, making him imagine what it might be like to tell her just how much he liked the flowers. You could tell her now. He imagined doing it, leaning down and whispering the words in her ear. She might blush. She broke up with her boyfriend under an hour ago. It wouldn’t have to be romantic, though. Just a friend telling a friend how pretty he thought her. “Well, that, and about a dozen other things,” Arya continued, snapping Gendry out of his internal discussion, “namely the fact that he really only wanted to date me so that he could lose his virginity.” Gendry’s thoughts we no longer concentrated on the flowers in Arya’s hair.

“Right,” he said, feeling himself grow a little pink. Did they have sex? He supposed it didn’t matter, really, though just thinking about it made him feel sick. It was exactly what Ned had wanted, with no regard for Arya’s feelings or readiness or anything. He hoped for her sake that Arya hadn’t confirmed that the hard way. “Well, I hope - If he… I’m sorry you had to put up with him.” He stumbled over his words, not wanting to ask outright.

“He can find another girl for that,” Arya shrugged, and she moved into an opening closer to the bar. Gendry smiled. He was relieved for Arya, relieved she hadn’t had to put herself through any discomfort in the name of Ned Dayne’s virginity. And you’re relieved for yourself, too, you jealous, selfish prick.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t that Ned was nervous, per se. It’s just that only a few weeks ago, Arya Stark had broken up with him in front of twenty of their peers, loudly announcing his status as a virgin to the entire clientele of Madam Puddifoot’s as she did so. And now he had to face her if he wanted to give Hufflepuff even the slightest chance of not finishing last. Unfortunately, Arya Stark was rather difficult to beat.

His best chance, Ned figured, was to try and distract her. She did not seem particularly upset by their break-up. In fact, she seemed rather happy these days. He saw her coming in from the quidditch pitch with her captain, often muddy and laughing about something. He noticed her studying happily in the library, sharing a pack of gummy worms with Waters. Actually, now that he thought about it… He stared across the pitch at the Gryffindors lining up for the opening whistle. Arya was beside the Gryffindor captain. They weren’t saying anything, but Arya wiggled her eyebrows at Waters and he raised his eyebrows back. They smiled at each other and then faced forward. Ned shook his head, disbelieving.

Waters was good-looking, sure, in a conventional tall-dark-and-handsome sort of way. He was sort of a weirdo, though, hardly speaking to anyone at all, always scowling. And they just didn’t look right together. Waters’ shoulder pads were falling apart, the laces of his boots frayed. His hair was a complete mess. Arya, meanwhile, was perfect - her equipment all brand new, her hair tied back into a nice ponytail, a few strands falling attractively around her face.

Ned hadn’t expected Arya to give him a second chance or anything, but Gendry Waters? The guy couldn’t afford half of his textbooks, according to Ned’s seventh year friends. He wasn’t trying to be shallow or anything, but Arya surely didn’t realize just how different she and Waters were. She was a Stark, for goodness sake! Where, realistically, could their relationship go? Gendry Waters wasn’t exactly the type of boy you could bring home to the Head of Magical Law Enforcement. He was probably more likely to meet Ned Stark because he was brought in on a charge like petty theft. It’s not that there was anything wrong with Waters being poor, but there was no way Arya Stark would knowingly date someone who couldn’t afford a textbook.

Coach Tarth blew her whistle and Ned shook his head. He had to focus. Distracting Arya was his best option. She may have moved on, but he remembered the little gasps she made when he called her “Princess”. There was no getting around the fact that he, Ned, had made Arya weak in the knees. And the only way he was going to beat her was to remind her of that.

-

The issue with Ned's plan was that to speak to Arya, he would have to catch her. Had she always been this good at flying? He watched Waters approach her and say something that made her laugh as she dipped deftly around him. Ned scowled.

-

“Hey Princess,” Ned called at Arya, but she seemed to be moving too fast to hear him. He sighed.

-

“Are you and Waters a thing now?” Ned asked, finally catching Arya as she floated above the play, eyes darting around for the snitch.

“No,” Arya said defensively, “Focus on the game, Ned.”

“You know, he’s too poor to afford his textbooks,” Ned started, but by the time the words were out, Arya was gone, her body pulled close to her broom as she hurtled to the earth. Ned followed suit, cursing himself. He should have stuck with the Princess stuff.

He reached the grass as Arya pulled out of her dive with the snitch in hand. She landed a few feet from him as the stadium erupted in cheers and her captain arrived, lifting her into an obnoxiously enthusiastic hug. “Nice catch, princess,” Waters said, and Ned froze. No way.

He scowled, storming off to the changing rooms. He spent his entire time in the shower realizing that any time he got close to getting into Arya Stark’s pants, she had just finished a one-on-one session with her captain. He thought about all of the times she had showed up all riled up after practice, annoyed at Waters, wanting to kiss Ned into oblivion. There had been a time in the library, when Ned’s hands had been on her thigh and in her hair, and she had pulled away to mention how intense Waters had been during their bludger training, how annoyingly serious he was all the time, before she had started unbuttoning Ned’s shirt. That bitch.

Chapter Text

Professor Seaworth was surprised when he approached his office and saw Gendry Waters pacing in front of the door. Waters was a quiet young man who never seemed to require any outside help in Muggle Studies, and he had already sat his N.E.W.T. exam in the subject.

Seaworth had always been fond of the lad - he did not speak in class very often, if at all, but in his essays he was unafraid to challenge wizarding perceptions of muggle life, frequently pointing out a level of condescension and belittlement present in magical studies of muggles. This was part of why choosing Waters to captain Gryffindor’s quidditch team had been so easy. Waters didn’t always carry himself as a leader, but he was one, underneath the teenage surliness and constant scowling.

Though, Seaworth considered happily, Gendry seemed to have come out of his shell this year. The combination of captaining the quidditch team and dating Arya Stark had made him more confident, more talkative, and certainly more likely to be seen smiling. They were well-matched - she was outgoing and energetic, he was reserved and steady. Seaworth thought them quite sweet, spending extra evenings practicing together and bickering at mealtimes. When he had complimented Gendry on the tidier spelling in his essays, the boy had smiled and said that Arya had given it a look over, since she knew how frustrating proofreading could be with dyslexia.

“Waters,” he greeted, unlocking the door and motioning for Gendry to enter. “What brings you to my door?” Seaworth looked at the boy and was surprised to see that his face was wrought with concern.

The next five minutes were spent listening to Gendry speak more than Seaworth had ever heard him speak. He was furious and terrified, adamant that Ramsay Bolton should not be allowed to suit up for the final quidditch match of the year. Frankly, Seaworth agreed. He knew Gendry wanted to win, but he couldn’t imagine the boy lying in this way to help secure a victory. He believed the boy, and he told him as much.

“I understand why this is rather concerning, considering how badly injured Miss Stark was last year, and, of course, the nature of your relationship,” Seaworth said. Gendry, who had been looking at his hands, sat upright and furrowed his brow.

“The nature of our relationship?” He asked, his cheeks going pink. Seaworth chuckled. He supposed Gendry didn’t think professors knew about their pupils’ love lives. It was unavoidable as a teacher in this school to not know a thing or two about the drama among students.

“Seeing how Miss Stark is your girlfriend, I mean,” Seaworth explained. Gendry’s eyes widened.

“No she’s not,” he said, looking rather flustered. It was the older man’s turn to knit his brow in confusion.

“Are you sure?” The way Waters had repeated some of Bolton’s threats had been so ripe with hatred that it had reminded Davos of a husband defending his wife’s honour.

“I think I’d know if she was,” Gendry said, sounding a little bit annoyed now. “Trust me, we’re not dating. Not happening.” Seaworth raised his eyebrows. The boy sounded put out and the professor felt a pang of sympathy.

“Well, I hope that the break-up wasn’t -,”

“We haven’t broken up, Professor,” Gendry said, clearly frustrated by the turn the conversation had taken, “We never dated and never will, trust me.” Arya Stark was certainly a touchy subject for the lad. He sighed.

“Well, Waters, I’ll speak to the headmaster about this and do my best to get Bolton banned. Thank you for coming to me.”

“Thanks,” Waters said bluntly before sweeping from the office. The boy’s neck was red and Seaworth sighed to himself. Young love could be a painful thing.

Chapter Text

Gendry had thought when the Montrose Magpies scouts had shaken his hand and told him they’d be in touch that his day could not possibly improve. And then Arya Stark threw her arms around his neck.

God, he was in trouble. She clung to him for a moment and his heart felt as though it might just give out. Her body was pressed against his, her arms pulling him down to her. Gendry had never thought himself much of a hugger, but he decided that hugging Arya was a different experience altogether.

She pulled away smiling. “Of course they want to sign you, Gendry.” He smiled back at her, hardly believing that anything about this afternoon was real. “You’re brilliant. God, they watched you tail Bolton? No wonder they want you.” He felt light-headed at Arya even speaking about the notion of wanting him. She grabbed his wrist and he met her eyes. They were so full of kindness and excitement on his behalf that Gendry felt momentarily winded. Had he really used to think her cold and stuck-up? “You deserve this, Gendry.” And he believed her.

-

“Look at them,” Arya said, returning to Gendry’s side and handing him a butterbeer. He watched as Sansa and Pod laced their fingers together and shared a tender kiss on the couch. “Disgusting.”

“It’s nice,” Gendry said, “A little cliché, hooking up on Valentine’s Day, but it’s a relief they’ve finally acted on their feelings.” His idea of acting on his feelings towards Arya would definitely not involve such soft, delicate kisses, though. No, he would much prefer a trip to the back shelves of the library, far from onlookers. He enjoyed the thought for a moment before remembering that any hope of that happening would require action on his part.

“Sansa’s always been a romantic,” Arya said.

“And you’re not?” Gendry teased, and Arya almost bit before seeing his smile.

“Like you can talk,” Arya snorted, “Remember that time Margaery Tyrell asked you -,” He interrupted her with a groan. God, of course she remembered that.

“I was caught off-guard!” He insisted. It was true. Gendry had been so surprised by Margaery Tyrell’s interest that he had panicked and rejected her rather bluntly.

“Margaery Tyrell, Waters. The prettiest girl at this school! And you shut her down.” She elbowed him lightly in his ribs and he blinked at her. Margaery was pretty, he supposed. But there was no way she was the prettiest girl in the school, not when Arya was right there, laughing at him, her eyes sparkling, her hair falling perfectly around her face.

“That’s not true,” he said, glancing down at her. It would be crazy to tell her how pretty he found her, but this whole day had been crazy.

“I saw it with my own eyes, you definitely shut -,”

“No, not that,” he said, hardly believing he was about to say this. But it was Valentine’s Day and they had won and Gendry had shaken hands with professional scouts and god, she had clung to him so tightly when she had hugged him. “Arya, she’s not, -”

“Oh my god, is Wylla kissing Sarella Sand?” Arya said, pointing across the room. Sure enough, Gendry’s chaser and her green-blue hair were locked in a tight embrace with the Ravenclaw seeker.

“Oh,” Gendry said, “Yeah, I suppose she is.” He was glad that so many other people seemed to be having no issues expressing their feelings on Valentine’s Day.

-

He noticed the acorn charm back around her neck and he felt a jolt of affection towards her. It really did suit her.“You’re wearing that necklace again,” he said, doing his best to be casual as his eyes traced her neck. She went a little pink.

“I like it,” she said.

“I do too,” Gendry said, “It’s pretty, even with the thorny bits.” He didn’t look at her, though he could feel her eyes on him. She was beautiful, beautiful and sharp and intimidating and she was wearing the necklace he had found for her. The Montrose Magpies and their scouts would have to settle for being the second-best part of his day.

Chapter Text

Giving Arya a piggyback ride to the Gryffindor common room felt like a great idea until she secured her arms around his shoulders and sighed contentedly against his ear. His gripped her thighs and wondered why on earth he had thought it prudent to invite Arya Stark to press her body against his back and giggle beside his ear.

Gendry had thought, earlier in the evening, that perhaps he would offer to walk her home, find a moment alone with her in a deserted hallway. She looked good tonight. She always looked good, but the neckline of her shirt dipped a little lower than usual and the jeans she wore hugged her legs a little tighter than the ones she wore when they studied in the library. Gendry had done his best not to stare, but like many things regarding Arya Stark, he found that rather difficult. Anguy and Tom had elbowed him, commenting on her cleavage and her legs and the way she kept smiling at him. He had rolled his eyes and told them to shut up about her, but he couldn’t find that he disagreed. Arya was hot.

For months it had felt like torture - she would strip down her her sports bra without any regard for his wellbeing and even occasionally walk out of the showers with only a towel around her, as if he was expected to carry on with his day normally after seeing her like that. Her body was small but strong, her arms toned and her legs - well, he had his hands on her thighs at the moment, and he certainly took no issue with that. It had felt like torture when Arya had been dating Ned Dayne - the thought of Ned’s hands on her body made Gendry feel physically ill. Even this evening, when he had left the party to see Ned’s arm on Arya’s waist, Gendry had been ready to knock Dayne out. But now, Arya’s beauty didn’t feel like torture.

She lightly touched the baby’s breath in his ear and Gendry felt his shoulders contract slightly. No, Arya Stark being hot really wasn’t so bad now, because he was fairly sure that Arya Stark liked him the way he liked her. All night she had sent him little glances and smiles. She had taken sips from his drink and touched his shoulder lightly when they talked. She had put this little spring of baby’s breath into his hair and had clutched his arm tightly as she stumbled away from the party. Then there had been that day in the library, when he had been so close to closing the distance between them, only to be interrupted by Pod and Sansa. And then there were the days when he had tied her up and he swore he felt her shiver when his hands were on her wrists. And then there was the hair-pulling comment, so blatantly flirtatious that he lay in bed for hours, replaying her coy smile and doing his best not to imagine the little gasps she would make if he ever did get the chance to run his hands through her hair and tug her head back lightly.

He was almost certain that Arya liked him back. His plans to walk her home and find a deserted corridor to kiss her in, though, were scrapped as soon as she struggled to stand up from the couch they had sat on together. And that had been before the majority of the firewhiskey had been consumed. Arya was now absolutely shitfaced and it was rather adorable, but he would save the kissing for a different evening. Perhaps he would wait until they won the quidditch cup, when he might be so overcome with happiness that he wouldn’t hesitate or lose his nerve.

He climbed into the portrait hole and set Arya down, steadying her with his hands. She was cute like this, smiling up at him, a little dazed. “Thanks for the ride, Gendry,” she said, and she stepped closer to him - he couldn't help but blush. “You’re pretty with flowers in your hair.” He chuckled at this. If he was pretty with flowers in his hair, then she was the most beautiful being in the history of the world with her forget-me-nots and hellebores. But he could tell her that another time.

“You are too, Arya. Now let’s get you to bed.” He made to guide her towards the staircase, but she put her hands on his chest to stop him. He swallowed as her hands roamed his chest, coming up to rest on his shoulders. This seemed rather unfair, considering how very attractive she looked and how very, very drunk she was.

“Arya, look -,” he started.

“Gendry,” Arya said, slurring slightly. “I sort of liked it when you shoved Ned against the wall.” She grinned at him and Gendry laughed. He was glad she had enjoyed that too. He had been wanting to toss Ned Dayne out of his way for a few months now.

“I liked that too, if I’m honest,” he said, “Had sort of been looking for an excuse. Now, you’re very drunk, let’s get you -,”

“I wonder what you’d do to Bolton if I had told you what he said,” she said, trailing off funnily and wincing. Gendry paused, frowning. Bolton?

“What did Bolton -,” but before he could ask, Arya had softly placed a finger on his lips and shushed him.

“It doesn’t matter,” she said, shaking her head. “I don’t want him like that.” Want him? He felt a wave of rage as he processed her words. Had Bolton come on to her? Had he even suggested...

“Like what?” Gendry asked sharply. Arya looked annoyed with herself and shushed him again. He felt the anger in him dissipate as Arya put her arms around his neck and pulled her body to his. “I don’t want to talk about that,” she breathed, standing on her tiptoes. He blinked at her, his lips parting slightly in surprise at her movements. God, she was pretty. But she was also drunk and she had no idea what she was doing. Arya Stark was staring up at him, doe-eyed and hopeful, her face tilting as she closed the distance between them. Arya Stark, with flowers in her hair, wanted to kiss him. And he couldn’t let her kiss him. Firewhiskey should be illegal.

Her lips made contact with his jaw as he turned his face from hers. The kiss was delicate and he felt like his heart was being stepped on as she pulled back, confused. “What -,”

“Arya, you’re drunk,” he said firmly, searching for the right words. She had to know that he wanted to kiss her, just not while she was too drunk to know what she was doing. He wanted to kiss her when they were both fully conscious, when he could tell her how pretty she was and she would definitely remember the next morning. “I don't want to - I don’t think we should... It’s not what I want,” he sputtered. She stepped away from him, staring at him.

Surely she knew that he would have. Under any other circumstances, he would have kissed her, placed a hand on the small of her back and held her close and kissed her with every ounce of his being.

“I don’t want to kiss you when you’re drunk, Arya, I can’t do that,” he said, and Arya only stared in his direction, her eyes a little out of focus. “I do want to kiss you, though,” he admitted, searching her face for a reaction, “I’ve been wanting to kiss you since you called me a dick the first time we practiced together. Every time you wear flowers in your hair I feel like I might pass out because you're so pretty, Arya. I just… we can’t right now. You’ve had a lot of firewhiskey and it wouldn’t be right.” She still didn’t react, and Gendry was worried he might have come on too strong. “Arya?” he asked nervously. She had been staring at him blankly.

“No, you’re right, that was - I just… a mistake,” Arya said, and Gendry felt his heart fall. What was a mistake? Drinking that much firewhiskey? Or trying to kiss him?

“Arya, it’s not -,”

“What you want, yeah, you said that,” she said, and Gendry opened his mouth to protest. That had definitely not been what he had meant. But Arya was still talking. “Me neither. I’m just really drunk and you’re… here,” Oh. “I’m sorry if I made things weird. It’s…. Firewhiskey, you know?” He was so stupid.

“Right,” he said glumly. “Firewhiskey.”

“Night, Gendry.” Arya spun on her heel and climbed the stairway without looking back.

“Night,” he said, watching her go, regretting every word he had said after she had brought her lips to his jaw. He walked up to the dorm and set the baby’s breath by his bed. Despite his disappointment, despite feeling like an absolute fool, he couldn’t help but think the flower rather beautiful. He rolled over so he didn't have to look at it and did his best to fall asleep.

Chapter Text

Gendry stared at the envelope. It had been years since he had received a letter and here, in his hands, was one from Jon Snow of all people. He wasn’t sure why he was nervous. Arya had narrowed her eyes, clearly weirded out by her brother initiating communication. Gendry swallowed and re-read the envelope to be sure that it was indeed for him.

Gendry Waters
Gryffindor Table (probably), Great Hall
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

He opened the letter and read.

Gendry,

I hope you’re well - I wanted to get in touch to wish you good luck in the final this weekend and also to thank you. I spent all spring trying to help Arya with her fallout of his injury and I will admit I was genuinely concerned that she might never be able to fly the way she used to. It broke my heart, seeing as quidditch was always the thing that has made her the happiest. But then you came along! From all accounts, Arya has flown as well as ever, if not better this season, and from her letters I can tell that she loves quidditch again.

I’ll admit, I was apprehensive when she mentioned that she had asked you for help. You’re an excellent beater, but I didn’t think Arya would be able to show her weakness so willingly to someone she didn’t know well. I’m glad she did, and I’m happy she gained a friend from all of this. She mentioned in a recent letter that she can flip on her broom with no hands now, thanks to your training sessions. I’ve no idea how you pulled that off, but it warms my heart to know that she’s taking risks on her broom again (God knows I need the warmth - Northern Finland is very cold!). She speaks so highly of you - I’m glad Davos knew where the captaincy should go when I left.

Looking forward to shaking your hand at yourself and Sansa’s graduation next month. Thank you for looking out for my sister.

Go Gryffindor,
Jon

P.S. I hear that Sansa has started seeing Podrick Payne - he always seemed like a decent bloke, but keep an eye on him, will you? She’s dealt with her fair share of arseholes. I’m not sure if you have little sisters, but it’s my job as a big brother to be wary of anyone they’re dating.

Gendry blinked, a little overwhelmed by the fact that Arya had written to Jon - her favourite person in the world - about him. He was rather relieved that Arya didn’t mention the tied hands. Something told him Jon would not like Gendry so much if he knew that Arya’s wrists had been bound by one of Gendry’s old school ties. In fact, he was sure that Jon would definitely not like Gendry so much if he knew half of the things Gendry even thought about Arya. He swallowed as he re-read the postscript.

But Arya liked Gendry. She might not like him, not the way he liked her, but she “spoke highly” of him, she “showed her weakness” to him, she wrote about him in letters to her favourite brother. His heart felt light, despite itself.

Chapter Text

He finished tightening his wrist strap and turned to see Arya smiling at him, her eyes soft as she watched him. It hardly seemed fair that she looked at him like this when she only wanted to be his friend. And yet Gendry found that he couldn’t not smile back. It was automatic, unstoppable. She made him happy, even when she made him want to tear his own hair out, even when she told him she had no feelings for him.

“Ready to go, princess?” Gendry asked, and she nodded and turned away. His shoulders fell and he busied himself by tightening the laces of his boots. He hoped he hadn’t ruined things permanently by telling her just how much he liked her. They were friends, but it felt different now. She wanted to be his friend and he had made things weird. He sighed.

-

He had worked up just enough nerve, only to be interrupted by Coach Tarth’s whistle and the team trudging out onto the pitch. Gendry acted on impulse, grabbing Arya’s wrists and holding her back. It was stupid and poorly timed and so very unnecessary, but he had to tell her that being her friend was enough for him, that just knowing her made him happy, that he just wanted things to be normal.

“What?” she hissed, and Gendry hesitated.

“Arya, look ,” He said, flustered. He met her eyes and steeled himself. “I just want you to know that whatever happens today, you’re the best seeker I’ve ever played with.” Arya looked at him, taken aback. He pushed on, “I’m sorry if I made things weird when I told you I liked you, but I -,”

“What?” Arya said, and Gendry froze.

“What?” He repeated. She looked surprised. Why did she look surprised?

“You like me?” Arya breathed, her eyes wide. Is this news to her?

“Yes,” he said, feeling his face heat up, “Of course I like you. I thought I made it pretty obvious when I told you that I had been thinking about kissing you since you called me a dick after our first bludger practice.” He stared at Arya, her lips parted in shock. Gendry’s heart was speeding up at an unhealthy rate.

“When did you… oh my god. Oh, you idiot!” Arya cried, startling Gendry. “You told me you liked me while I was hammered?”

“You said that you remembered!” Gendry exclaimed. “I asked you if you remembered!” He had, although… She was very drunk. If she didn’t remember everything he said...

“You didn’t exactly specify what I was supposed to be remembering, Gendry,” she spat. His mind was reeling, but her anger didn’t seem totally fair to him considering her state that night.

“How is this my fault?” Gendry said, baffled. “You’re the one who was too drunk to remember!”

“Sober enough to remember you telling me that I wasn’t what you wanted,” Arya said, crossing her arms. Oh. He started at her, a little disbelieving. Of course she was what he wanted. Surely she knew that. Surely she knew that he didn’t kiss her because she was drunk, not because he didn’t want to.

“I wasn’t going to kiss you when you were that drunk, Arya. It’s not how I wanted to kiss you for the first time - or at all, frankly. You couldn’t stand upright!” He took a breath and looked at her, drinking her in. How could he not want her? “Believe me, I want you. I really want you. But I would never have kissed you like that.” His looked at her a little desperately. Arya stared at him for a minute, processing his words. Suddenly, her eyes widened with concern.

“I didn’t want to kiss you because I was drunk,” she said frantically, and Gendry was sure his heart was beating too fast to be healthy. “I wanted to kiss you because I like you. I had been thinking about kissing you for the entire night, even before the firewhiskey. And for, like, months before that.” Months. He felt as if he might drop dead, but instead he smiled. She liked him. She wanted to kiss him.

“I don’t want to just be your friend, Stark,” He said and Arya nodded, smiling.

“How did you want to kiss me for the first time? Before I almost ruined everything,” she asked quietly and Gendry felt face heat up.

“I mean… I guess I had been thinking if we won the cup, maybe I’d work up some courage. I kind of figured I would be so happy that I wouldn’t second guess myself and I’d just be able to go for it,” Gendry said, scratching the back of his neck nervously. He had thought about it, even after she rejected him, even when he thought she had wanted to be friends - sweeping her into his arms when they won, kissing her without abandon. But she was looking at him now with a fierce look in her eyes and he decided that a celebratory kiss might make a better second kiss.

“That would have been nice,” Arya said. Gendry nodded, and they moved to each other. Gendry pulled her against him, weaving a hand through her hair as she flung her arms around his neck. For the briefest moment, his lips were on hers and everything he wanted was in his grasp. And then Podrick fucking Payne slammed the door open. Gendry shut his eyes in frustration as Arya spun to face Pod. Her arms were still around Gendry’s neck, his nose pressed to her cheek. He exhaled in exasperation. They had been so close.

“Seriously?” Podrick said. “Now?My thoughts exactly, you prick. Arya stepped away from Gendry, which he found was not a sensation he enjoyed. “We’ve sort of got a quidditch match to play, and I’m not sure I fancy our chances without our captain and our seeker.” Gendry rolled his eyes. Who cared about a bloody quidditch match? He had been on the precipice of kissing Arya Stark the way he had been wanting to kiss Arya Stark for months and Pod expected him to give a shit about a quidditch match?

He scowled and walked past his keeper. He hoped Arya would catch that snitch quickly.

Chapter Text

Sansa loved the holidays. She loved watching the snow fall outside as she curled up by the fire, she loved knitting sweaters for her family every year, and she loved the big Christmas tree that the house elves put up in the entrance hall every year. What Sansa didn’t love, though, was spending her holidays stuck with the three stupidest quidditch-playing romantically-clueless idiots in the school.

Arya and Gendry would be positively insufferable if they weren’t so adorably enamoured with each other. Her sister was clearly beginning to realize how attracted she was to Gendry, but had not yet broken up with Ned. Gendry became visibly annoyed any time Arya’s boyfriend was mentioned, but otherwise spend the break making heart-eyes at his seeker. It was becoming painful to watch, really. The two of them were practically inseparable, studying together, practicing quidditch on the snowy pitch, exchanging knowing glances about herself and Pod.

Pod. Perhaps he was even worse than Arya and Gendry. Sansa was almost certain he liked her. She could see it in the way he gently adjusted her hand positioning during Charms class and in the way he blushed when she smiled at him. She had given him every opportunity to ask her out and …nothing. Even Arya and Gendry had noticed, which Sansa found rather ironic, considering how blindly flirtatious they were with each other.

Someone had to instigate some romance in this castle before Sansa went mad.

“Pod,” she said as she sat down on the arm of the sofa and lightly touched his shoulder, enjoying the way it made him blush, “How many times do you think Arya has to touch his arm before your captain realizes she likes him back?” The duo in question were sitting by the fire, discussing some move Arya had been trying out on the quidditch pitch. This apparently required a lot of playful shoving of Gendry’s shoulder on Arya’s part. Pod glanced at Sansa and her hand, which was still casually resting on his upper arm. He swallowed.

“Er, I’m not sure,” he said with a nervous laugh, “Suppose she’s still got a boyfriend, so he might -,” Sansa scoffed.

“A boyfriend doesn’t stop them from liking each other, Pod,” she said this quietly so that the other two wouldn’t overhear. She was pleased to see Pod lean closer to hear her better. “Look at them, heads together, whispering away.” Pod nodded.

“As soon as she’s single, I’d say he’ll go for it,” he said cheerfully. Sansa felt her heart sink.

“What if she was already single? If she was single and touching his arm and whispering in his ear, would he have made his move already?” She asked, hoping desperately he would hear what she was saying and come to his senses and bloody well ask her out already. Pod nodded.

“Oh yeah,” he said, “Definitely.” Sansa let go of his arm and stood up. She had no idea what might inspire Pod to act, but she was getting tired of waiting.

“I’m off to bed,” she declared, heading for the portrait hole. Arya and Gendry nodded briefly in her direction before resuming whatever conversation they were having, Gendry now rifling through some old book and leaning close to Arya to show her the diagram on the page. Sansa rolled her eyes and sulked all the way back to the Ravenclaw common room.

-

Pod was absolutely fucked. He had, beyond all sense and beyond all reason, fallen for Sansa Stark. Sansa Stark! The pristine, elegant, perfect Sansa Stark who, until this year, he had never been able to work up the nerve to even speak to. He hated Professor Baelish for pairing them up (well, he hated Baelish for a few reasons, come to think of it). Being forced to speak to Sansa Stark and having no choice but to spend time with her and get to know her was a cruel and painful way to spend his final year at Hogwarts.

And now they were friends, and he was fucked. He did his best to not stare at her when she spoke, to not think too hard about her friendly smiles or the way she would touch his shoulder. He tried his best to ignore every bit of affection she offered him because as much as he enjoyed her company, the longer he spent as Sansa Stark’s friend, the longer he would have to endure this cruel sting of unrequited love.

Pod knew Sansa liked him well enough, but certainly not the way he liked her. He was average-looking at best and yes, he had an unexpected amount of success over the summer picking up the muggle girls in the village near his home, but Sansa Stark was well out of his league. She dated handsome, confident guys, guys who carried their shoulders tall and who looked like something out of the Quality Quidditch Supplies catalogue without a hint of an effort. Gendry, for example, would be a perfect candidate, were he not busy happily explaining how motorbikes worked to an enraptured Arya. Pod could practically hear Gendry’s heart rate speed up when Arya demanded he show her how to ride one someday.

God, those two were sickening sometimes.

Sansa leaned close to him and he steeled himself. “Gosh, she’s so into him,” she laughed quietly, though Arya and Gendry were chatting so enthusiastically across the dinner table that Pod wasn’t sure anything could distract them from each other. He nodded and grinned.

“I think your guess that they’ll hook up by Valentine’s Day might be a winner,” he beamed. Sansa’s smile was terribly pretty.

“If they can keep their hands off of each other that long,” she chuckled. “Though a Valentine’s Day confession would be awfully romantic, wouldn’t it. It’s the perfect day to tell someone how you feel, don’t you think, Pod?” He frowned and shrugged.

“I suppose so,” he said. “Though Christmas is just as romantic, really. All of the fairy lights and mistletoe.” He glanced at her, and for a moment he thought her blue eyes were shining.

“Oh, I agree,” she said softly, “Christmas would be a wonderful time for it, too.” He felt a sting in his heart as he looked at her, wishing for a moment that the feelings to be confessed were his own, that he could tell her how very much he liked her and how very much he wanted to spend an entire evening under a sprig of mistletoe with her. He wrenched his eyes from her and back across the table.

“It’s too bad they’ll have to wait until Arya dumps Ned,” he said glumly, and Sansa sighed in agreement, poking at her turnips with her shoulders slumped.

-

Sansa had done everything - everything - she could think of. She wore a pretty golden dress and she had done her hair perfectly. She had drawn Podrick away to the window a few minutes before the countdown, commenting on how pretty the grounds looked, how pretty the snow was. She had stupidly thought that he might comment on how pretty she was.

“Do you not think it’s pretty, Pod?” she had asked, and he had only nodded, looking a little bit uncomfortable.

She had applied her lip gloss and told him how good this particular flavour tasted. She had twisted her hair around her finger, batted her eyelashes and - she winced as she recalled it - straightened her shoulders so that her boobs stuck out slightly. And she had nothing to show for any of it.

Now, Pod was bowing awkwardly as he bid her goodnight in front of the Ravenclaw common room. He turned to leave and she took a deep breath.

“Wait,” she said, and he spun back in confusion. She thought fast. “Let’s give Arya and Gendry a few more minutes alone. Maybe he’ll work up the nerve to tell her how he feels.” Pod raised his eyebrows.

“Er, alright then,” he shrugged. He looked at his feet and she twisted a finger through her hair again.

“How do you think he’d do it,” she offered, and Pod blinked at her.

“Dunno,” he said, “I still think he’ll wait til she’s single and then make a move.” Sansa felt her face fall.

“So no chance of romance tonight, then?” She asked hopefully, and Pod shook his head. “Right then,” she said coolly, “I’ve got to sort out this riddle if I want to get to bed. Night, Pod.” She turned away from him and crossed her arms, wondering what on earth it might take for him to act on his feelings.

-

Sansa was a funny girl, Pod decided as he slumped back to Gryffindor tower. He offered the password gloomily and saw Arya and Gendry step apart. They seemed to have been standing rather close. Gendry immediately busied himself with the confetti on the floor and Arya was looking over at him longingly. Pod felt a brief wave of sympathy for them both until he remembered that their attraction was mutual and that they would, in all likelihood, work it out eventually.

He, meanwhile, was stuck in romantic purgatory, hopelessly fond of a girl who would surely never see him as more than a friend.

Gendry entered the dorm a few minutes after Pod had turned out his light.

“Happy new year, Gendry,” Pod said as cheerfully as he could muster.

“If you say so, Pod,” his companion grumbled, throwing his shirt onto his wardrobe and flopping onto his bed. It was a long while before either boy fell asleep.