Winters in King’s Landing were nothing compared to the winters in Winterfell. Up north, winters could last for months, with nothing but a white horizon for miles on end. In King’s Landing, winters were timid; a day of snow followed by a cool breeze, all gone before the next morning arrived.
That’s one of the reasons as to why Arya chose KLU as her choice of school. She loved Winterfell, but felt like it was time for a change of scenery. King’s Landing had a diverse group of people who lived there. Everything from Braavosi to Dothraki had migrated to the capital of The Crownlands.
Arya had marveled at the rich diversity and opportunity that it could provide. It was a place she would enjoy learning and living. It also had a mirage of different seasons, not just the cold damp air of winter.
It was an easy decision when the time came to choose her school.
Her mother was less than pleased and was convinced the only reason she decided to go to KLU was because Gendry was attending. In truth, her mother wasn’t completely wrong. Gendry was her best friend; had been since he moved to Winterfell before his 13th birthday.
They had clicked the moment her brothers brought him home for dinner one night after school. He understood her in a way that no one else in her family knew. He protected her from school bullies and queen bees. But then the time came for him to go to school and he had chosen a school hundreds of miles away.
Her brothers were leaving to KLU too, but the blow of Gendry leaving had stung her heart deeper than she thought it would.
She was irrevocably angry with him. She wouldn’t be able to see him for nearly two years, with only brief encounters during the holidays. And although there were text messages and emails and phone calls, nothing compared to having him physically there. Arya would carve that physicality; to be able to engulf him in a hug when she was upset, or to have him brush her loose strands of hair from her face. It was those subtleties that she would miss the most.
That’s why she nearly jumped at the opportunity to attend KLU.
Her university experience had, by far, exceeded her expectations. The copious amounts of friends she had made, as well as mending her fragile relationship with her sister were well worth the two day car ride it took to get to KLU. Even her relationship with Gendry had mended.
But it was on one particularly cold winter night in King’s Landing, with a looming snow storm that the region hadn’t seen in nearly a hundred years, that her relationship with Gendry took a turn that she hadn’t expected.
It was a few days before the end of term, so Sansa had invited their friends over for a study session. It was just a few of them; their brothers and their girlfriends, Theon, Meera Reed, Gendry, and Margaery Tyrell.
The end of term was particularly stressful on Gendry, Theon and her brothers, considering it was their last year at KLU. Their whole academic careers rode on the back of their end of term exam, not to mention the Master’s program Gendry was hoping to get into if everything worked in his favor.
But a simple study session could never happen, not with Theon Greyjoy thrown into the mix. They were lucky they got the four hours that they did, before he decided to make the study session into a game of drunk truth or dare.
Everyone was gathered in the small living room of Sansa and Arya’s flat; noses stuffed into their respective books, cramming all that they could before their upcoming exams. Arya was seated on the floor, with her back leaning against Gendry’s legs as she sat on the couch above her. She was reading over her “War History of Westeros” assignment when Theon and all his glory entered the living room with a bottle of tequila.
“I think it’s about time we all had a break!” He boasted, stumbling through the archway of the living room.
“Greyjoy, what the seven hells are you thinking? We have to study!” Robb chastised. He was seated at the bar where the kitchen and the living room met; his girlfriend Talisa perched beside him.
“My dear friend, all classes have been cancelled due to the snow storm raging outside our windows.” He pointed towards the glass doors leading to an outside deck. Small flurries of snow whipped across the sky, leaving the darken night illuminated with flecks of white.
“When did that start happening?” Sansa asked as she lifted from the couch opposite of where Arya was sitting. She placed her textbook down on the coffee table in front of them and made her way to the glass doors.
Theon shrugged, “Don’t know. But classes are cancelled and I need a drink! We all need a drink! How about a game of truth or dare?”
“No! I don’t think so! The last time I played your version of truth or dare, Dany almost broke up with me. Sorry, not doing it again.” Jon chimed. He and Dany were sitting in the large bean bag chair nestled in the corner of the living room right before the hallway leading to the front door. “In fact, Dany and I were just headed out. We will see you all tomorrow...maybe, if you all aren’t pissed from Theon’s little game.”
Jon scooped up with books, along with Dany’s and bid the group a farewell.
“What a wanker!” Theon shrugged, taking his seat on the now empty beanbag chair. He took a swing from the tequila bottle, wincing as the burning liquid shot down his throat. “His loss.”
“I’m with Jon on this one.” Robb said. “I can’t remember my night from the last ‘Theon’s truth of dare.’ Sorry, but I think Talisa and I will sit this one out.”
“Suit yourself,” Theon paused, turning to the remaining group of people, “What about you lot? Wanna play?”
Arya looked around their group. There seemed to be some hesitance, the no one spoke up, giving Theon all the courage he needed.
“Great!” He struggled to get out of the bean bag chair, but managed to do so without falling on his face. He shuffled towards the reaming five participants and placed the tequila bottle on the coffee table between the two sets of couches.
Meera, Sansa, and Margaery were on one couch while Theon squeezed is way on the love seat Gendry had been occupying. Arya remained seated on the floor, propped between Gendry’s legs.
“So how do we play, Greyjoy?” Arya asked.
“So, it’s truth or dare, with a twist. If you don’t complete the challenge, then you drink. It you take to long to answer, you drink. If you flat out refuse to do it...you drink. Everyone got it?”
“So, basically your goal is to get us completely hammered?” Meera chimed.
Theon nodded, “Exactly! Now, who wants to go first?”
Arya could feel the effects of the alcohol setting in.
She was winning, but the few time she had failed were now starting to catch up with her. Sansa was completely gone; passed out of the bean bag couch, cuddling a teddy bear Arya didn’t know she had. Meera had tapped out after two tequila shots, claiming she had to go home to feed her cat...that she didn’t have, and Margaery refused to drink completely, catching a ride home with Robb and Talisa as soon as the game became too heated.
Gendry was keeping up with Arya, and if she did her calculations correctly, they were tied for lead with Theon not too far behind.
“Okay, Greyjoy. I dare you too strip naked and stand outside on the terrace for five minutes.” Gendry challenged. He smirked as he saw Theon’s concerned eyes.
“It’s freezing out there!”
Arya snorted, “Come on, Theon! You lived in Winterfell, I’m sure...” she quickly checked her phone to see what the temperature was outside, “that -6 degrees C is nothing.”
“Fuck that! I drink! I am out!” He grabbed the bottle of tequila, taking a shot in defeat. “It’s between you two now, I’m done.”
Arya watched as he lifted from the loveseat and plopped himself down beside Sansa on the large beanbag chair, pulling a blanket over himself.
It didn’t take long for Gendry and Arya to hear the soft snores come from his slumber.
“Okay, Stark. Truth or dare?” Gendry asked, capturing Arya’s attention.
She took a moment to think. There were plenty of outrageous dares that Gendry could throw her way in order to win. She couldn’t take that risk. Besides, he already knew everything about her, so what harm could come from the truth.
“Truth.” She stated firmly, grinning as if she already won.
Gendry smirked, and Arya had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, “Who do you have a crush on?”
He had her hooked. She knew that he knew she would never spill that secret, even if they were best friends. She wouldn’t have had an issue disclosing that information, if her crush wasn’t the one sitting right in front of her.
She never admitted it to anyone, but she had loved Gendry since the first day she saw him. Her anger for him leaving to KLU wasn’t because she was loosing her best friend, but because she was loosing the only man she was sure to ever love.
She wanted to tell him how she felt, but what if he didn’t feel the same way? Their relationship would be broken beyond repair and that was something she was not willing to chance.
“Never mind, I choose dare.” She stuttered.
Gendry laughed, “You can’t change your decision! Drink up!”
“Come on, Gen! This one time...I’m begging you.” She whined.
Arya’s heart raced as she watched Gendry contemplate her request
“Fine.” Gendry said, allowing Arya to sigh in relief. “I dare you to kiss me.”
Arya’s eyes widened. Was he being serious? Had she heard him correctly? Or was the alcohol effecting her more than she thought? Did he really want her to kiss him?
“Wh-what?” She whispered, trying to process the words that just came out of his mouth.
“I said,” Gendry lifted from where he was seated on the loveseat and rounded the coffee table to sit beside Arya, who was now on the couch opposite him. He sat down close beside her, almost to the point where their thighs were touching. He brushed a loose strand of hair from Arya’s face, tucking in behind her ear and gently placing his hand across her cheek. “I dare you to kiss me.”
Arya lost all self control as she grabbed the back of Gendry’s neck, pulling him down to her lips. She had imagined this day since the moment she realized her feelings for him, and although they were slightly intoxicated, with Theon and Sansa asleep just across from them, she couldn’t have pictured it any other way.
Their lips tangled together, capturing each other as if they were the last breath on earth. She could taste the alcohol on both of their lips, only prompting her to draw closer to him.
She saw sparks behind her closed lids; the flashing lights dancing across the blackened background making it look like fireworks cracking across a night sky.
They were drunk with each other; not the tequila that had ravaged their tongues just a few short minutes ago.
Finally, they broke apart, each trying to catch their breath.
“I guess I won.” She said, a small chuckle escaping her lips.
Gendry smiled, “I guess we both did.”
Arya giggled and threw her arms around Gendry, pulling him into a tight embrace. She had to remember to thank Theon when he woke up because without his version of truth or dare, she would have never known that Gendry felt the same way she felt about him.
At least Greayjoy was good for something.