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Near Miss

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They decided to fly to Winterfell for the wedding, so they didn’t have to do the long drive again.  It was a bit of an indulgence, but they managed to get a good price and relatively decent flight times, which made them both very happy.

They got to Winterfell two days before the wedding, which irked Catelyn a bit, but Arya pointed out there was really no reason for them to be there any earlier.  “Sandor isn’t even coming up until Friday afternoon, and he’s the groom,” she pointed out.

Gendry finished the commission he got from the Tully family (thanks to Ned’s birthday party) the week prior, so he was able to get that all squared away and shipped out to Riverrun in plenty of time to relax a bit before the wedding.  He has ideas for new projects, and Davos has promised him a few more commissions soon, but he decided he needed a few days of downtime.

Especially if he is to attend a large wedding with the Stark family.  And potentially be faced with Baratheons who may be related to him.

“Dad said he talked to Renly Baratheon about you,” Arya tells him as she joins him in her bedroom, where he is unpacking.

“Oh, is that where you disappeared to?  Found your dad?” Gendry asks.  “What did he tell him?”

“He said that I was dating someone who is probably one of Robert’s, and that he should under no circumstances pursue the issue,” she answers.  “He said if he wanted to talk to you about it that was fine, but that you weren’t interested in any compensation or inheritance or anything like that.”

“Okay.  I can live with that,” he answers.  “I… might actually want to meet him.  You said Renly is the nicer of the two brothers?”

“Yeah.  He’s very charming and very gay.  Stannis is about as warm and soft as a glacier.  And his wife is crazy.  Their daughter is cool though.  She’s got grayscale scars on her face, so don’t stare,” she says, then drops a resigned sigh as she looks at her bridesmaid’s dress.  “Oh and Renly told Dad that he would talk to Stannis and make sure he knew what was up, so Dad wouldn’t have to.”

“She had grayscale and lived?” Gendry asks, walking over to see why Arya is sighing.  “That’s amazing.”

“Perks of being rich,” she explains.

“Ah.  Right.  Why are you frowning into your closet?” he asks, resting his chin on top of her head.

“I hate my bridesmaid’s dress,” she says, pulling it out and removing the plastic from it so he can see it.

“What’s wrong with it?  I mean… besides the color,” he says, brow furrowing as he looks at it.

“That’s most of the problem,” she says, hanging it on a hook so he can get a good look at it.  “I don’t know when the trend of wearing dresses that match the wearer’s skin tone started, but it needed to stop a year ago so Sansa wouldn’t have chosen it for my dress.”

“I mean… it’s not a horrible dress,” he assesses.  The dress is surprisingly simple.  He would have expected more frills or lace coming from Sansa.  It has spaghetti straps and a plunging V neckline on the bodice, which is embroidered with flowers in almost the same color as the fabric.  The skirt is long and flowing, but not puffy or fussy.  “At least you don’t look like Little Bo Peep or something.”

Arya laughs.  “True.  But I barely have enough boobs for the top, and they had to take up the hem so much they could have made me a shawl from what was left over.”

Gendry kisses the top of her head, then bends down further to kiss her neck.  “I’m sure you’ll look beautiful in it,” he says.

“You’re biased,” she retorts.  “Or at least you had better be.”

“Oh I definitely have no objectivity left when it comes to you,” he confirms, still kissing and nuzzling the side of her neck.  “But you’ll still look beautiful.”

“Thank you,” she finally says, then turns around to face him so he can kiss her properly.

xXx

“Is that Beric Dondarrion?” Gendry leans over and whispers to Jon during the rehearsal, noting the best man.

They are seated in the chairs set up for the guests on a large patch of land behind the Stark’s home.  Most of the family is there and enjoying the warm spring evening, watching the wedding rehearsal.  And waiting for the dinner to follow.

“Yeah.  He’s one of the few people Clegane can stand,” Jon explains.  “They were team—”

“Teammates, yeah,” Gendry finishes, briefly overlapping Jon.  “Shame about his eye.”

“Yeah, I can’t help thinking that’s part of the reason they get along.  Shared trauma or something,” Jon says.  “He was in the same car accident that burned Sandor.”

“Oh sh—shoot, that’s right,” Gendry replies, censoring himself because Reina is sitting on his lap.  The little girl immediately climbed onto him as soon as she was done practicing her duties as flower girl.

“You were gonna swear,” she chides him.

“And you are far too clever for your age,” Gendry replies.  “And you’re right.  I was going to, but I didn’t.”

Reina gestures for him to lean down a little, so he does.  She whispers in his ear, “I’ve heard swears before.  My mummy says them when she drives sometimes.  And when she cooks sometimes.”

Gendry swallows his laughter.  “Well, as long as you know you’re not supposed to say them,” is all he can think to say.

Then he looks up to the front and sees Arya watching him instead of paying attention to the rehearsal.  She looks radiant in the late afternoon sun, her hair, still blunt-cut just below her ears, shines where the rays hit it.  She’s wearing skinny jeans and the bull t-shirt he got Lommy to make for her, and she is the loveliest thing he’s ever seen.

He smiles at her and she smiles back at him just before Sansa nudges her.

xXx

Gendry spots Renly Baratheon fairly easily, and has to admit there is a resemblance between himself and his probable uncle.  He finds Stannis less easily, only identifying him when he sees a girl in her late teens with half a scarred face talking animatedly to Rickon and Lyanna.  A very stern-looking man approaches her and she leaves with him, so Gendry assumes the man is Stannis.  He doesn’t see much of a physical resemblance, but he wonders if that’s how he looks to other people when he goes around scowling most of the time.

He manages to avoid them both until the reception.  He did meet Shireen through Rickon, and decided he agreed with Arya’s assessment of her.  Especially when she tilted her head at him and said, “So we might be cousins?”

“Um, yeah.  That’s the general consensus,” he replied.

“Brilliant,” she decisively said.  “Renly and Loras don’t have any kids, and I really don’t see Cersei’s spawn, which is fine.  So it would be nice to have a decent cousin for once.”

Gendry could only smile at that.  “I’ve never really had any family at all,” he admitted.

“Well, you do now, cousin,” she replied.

Gendry is getting a drink at the bar before the dinner when he hears a voice behind him.

“I understand we might be related.”

He turns around and looks into a face that is too familiar for a man he has never met, and says, “Ned seems to think so.  I’m Gendry.”  He offers his hand.

“Renly,” Renly answers, shaking the offered hand.  “I feel like l’m looking into a mirror that is also a time machine.  How old are you?”

“I’m 28,” Gendry answers.

Renly merely nods, like something makes sense to him.  “Robert was due to marry Cersei around the time you were born.  He said something about ‘last hurrahs’ and ‘sowing his—”

Gendry holds up his hand.  “I’m sorry, but I don’t really want to hear it,” he interjects.  “I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t care about Robert at all.  I mean it’s nice to have confirmation that he was probably my biological father, but… I don’t want any backstory or explanations.”

“Fair enough,” Renly says.  He reaches into his inside coat pocket and pulls out a small case.  He withdraws a card from the case, and hands it to Gendry.  “If you ever need or want to contact me, I’ll be more than happy to talk to you.  About anything.  If you do decide you have questions, or… if you want to get to know some of your biological family.  Or even if you just want to be friends.  Feel free.”

Gendry takes the card and stares at it a moment.  “Thanks,” he says, almost absently.  “Um, wait.”  He digs out his wallet and fishes one of the few cards he keeps in there, just in case.  “Here.  In case I do call… then you’ll be able to identify the number.”

“Oh that’s right!  You’re that amazing metal artist!” Renly exclaims.  “I saw the direwolf sculpture you did.  Amazing.  Just amazing,” he gushes.  “Loras!” he calls to a man about 20 yards away.  “Loras, come here!  You have to meet Gendry!”

Gendry feels his cheeks color with embarrassment as Renly and Loras Baratheon-Tyrell begin tag-team complimenting him.

But it all ends with them promising to commission something, so Gendry supposes it is worth feeling a bit embarrassed.

Then Renly decides he should meet Stannis, and Gendry’s mood drops again.

Stannis is serious and brusque, and his wife Selyse is just as quiet but Gendry feels judgment radiating off of her.

“So you’re one of Roberts?” Stannis asks.

“That’s the theory, Sir,” Gendry answers.

“What do you hope to achieve by making this information known?” he asks.

“Nothing.  It was Lord Stark that made the information known, not me.  And the only reason he did that is so you lot would be forewarned about possibly seeing me, since I apparently look like a Baratheon,” Gendry answers with a vague gesture towards a fervently-nodding Renly.

“Hmm,” Stannis grunts.

“Stannis, don’t be a shit,” Renly says.  “Gendry is a good lad.  Ned vouches for him.  If he says he doesn’t want anything, then I believe him.”

“How nice for you,” Selyse says.

“I’m sorry, Selyse, but how, exactly does this concern you?” Renly asks, then immediately turns his attention back to his brother before she can answer.  “You don’t have to talk to him again or anything if you don’t want to.  I simply thought you might like to meet this young man who is probably your nephew.”

“Very thoughtful of you,” Stannis coolly replies.  “It was nice to meet you, Gendry.  If you will excuse us.”

“Of course, Sir,” Gendry says.

“I think he likes you,” Renly comments once Stannis is out of earshot.

When Gendry turns to give Renly a befuddled look, he sees the other man is barely holding his laughter in.  When the dam bursts, Gendry can only join in.

“He’s got a perpetual stick up his arse, and Selyse is unbearable to be around for longer than five minutes,” Renly says.  “It’s amazing Shireen turned out as well as she has.”

“Yeah, I met her already.  She’s really cool,” Gendry agrees.

He thinks he could get along with Renly and Shireen, at least.

xXx

Arya pulls Gendry to the dance floor after only mild protests.  He doesn’t love dancing but he doesn’t necessarily hate it.  He just doesn’t do it.  But he also knows Arya likes dancing and he realized long ago that he will quite literally do anything she asks, so he dances.

When the song switches to something slow and he pulls her into his arms, he decides there are definitely benefits to dancing.  Especially when she closes her eyes and rests her head on his chest, giving him her complete trust to keep her safe and on her feet.

“Tired already?” he asks, kissing the top of her head.  It tastes like hair spray, but he doesn’t really care.

She lifts her head and looks up at him.  She’s always beautiful, but with her hair and face professionally done for the wedding, she’s absolutely breathtaking.  He’s never taken much stock in makeup and doesn’t care if women wear it or not, but whoever did Arya’s makeup today was a real artist.  Her true, natural beauty is merely highlighted by the cosmetics.

“Not really,” she answers, giving him a small smile.  Her lips have only the faintest hint of color left from her lipstick, partly due to food and drink and partly to Gendry.  “Are you having a good time?”

“Surprisingly, yes.  Jon and Ygritte have been keeping me quite entertained.  And Reina, too, of course.  Before she passed out,” he chuckles, glancing over to the side of the ballroom, where there is a little girl inexplicably asleep on an air mattress against the wall.

“I wish I could have at least sat with you for dinner,” she sighs.  “I don’t like the head table.  It felt like everyone was watching me eat.”

He laughs again.  “Well, I was, but I don’t know about anyone else,” he replies.

“Creepy much?” she asks, laughing with him.

His laughing grin fades into something softer and sweeter as he gazes down at her.  “I love you,” he sighs, saying it like it was the easiest thing in the world.

She lifts up and kisses him softly and sweetly.  “Been holding that in for long?” she asks, smiling up at him.

“Ages,” he answers in a heavy exhale.

She laughs and kisses him once more, then says, “I love you too.”

“Oh good,” he says, and she laughs again until he stops her giggles with his lips.  “I was right, you know,” he says, lifting his head to look down at her.

“About?”

“You do look beautiful in this dress.”

“We’ve already established that you’re biased,” she points out.

“Do you always have this much trouble accepting compliments?” he asks.

“Oh, probably,” she allows.  “You know my deal.”

“Yeah, I do,” he says with a nod.  “But you’re going to have to get used to the idea that I find you beautiful, and I love you, and my life was empty before I met you.”

She melts a little, looking up into his earnest blue eyes.  The song ends and the music turns fast again, so she pulls him away from the dance floor.

“Where are we going?” he asks when she keeps walking, away from the reception.

“I want to be alone with you right now,” she answers as they make a beeline for the house.  She pauses.  “Is that all right?”

“Fuck yes,” he answers.  She starts walking again and he willingly follows, just as he knows he will be doing for the rest of his life.