It was cold. The closer to the Wall, or Winterfell in her case, they got, the worse and colder the weather seemed to become. The men were shivering and complaining about the weather even through their heavy cloaks.
Arya's own cloak was one that Yoren had given to her but it was too long for her, at least a foot of material stretched out behind her, gathering mud and water in the bad weather making it heavy and uncomfortable. The water rose up the cloak, as well as her pants, making it seem almost impossible for her to get warm.
Tonight was colder than the others, Arya could see her breath. Despite the small fire they had lit, she was shivering.
Gritting her teeth, she wrapped the wet cloak around herself more tightly, determined not to seem weak in front of her companions.
Gendry frowned as he saw Arya grit her teeth to prevent them from chattering.
Her face was pale, but her nose was pink from the cold, and the ratty old cloak Yoren had given to her wasn't doing any good. Most of the men were asleep already, their own cloaks and furs wrapped tightly around them against the cold.
Gendry sighed, moving closer to the fire.
He rubbed his hands together, the friction creating warmth. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Arya move closer and copy his actions. Her small hands were frozen and Gendry felt a rush of protectiveness towards her. She shouldn't be here, she didn't belong here. She belonged in a castle. This wasn't a place for women, never mind a nine year old girl. She should be at Winterfell, surrounded by the other high borns, where she belonged.
Standing slowly, he moved over to her.
“Take that off. You'll make yourself ill wearing wet clothes in this weather.”
“I'll be sicker without it,” Arya told him shortly.
Gendry smiled slightly, she was as stubborn as a mule.
“You can share with me, two bodies are better than one. Hang that over one of the branches,” he told her, motioning to her cloak.
She looked at him “I’m not sharing with you.”
“Not your choice,” he told her, lowering his voice and adding, “m’lady.”
Her expression turned to a glare as she swung her arm at him.
“Do. Not. Call. Me. That.” She hissed, teeth ground together.
Gendry chuckled, “put the cloak over there. You’re going to freeze.”
Arya looked from her fingers to her wet cloak before slowly climbing to her feet with a mumbled “okay.”
Gendry smiled again as she walked over to the lowest branch, still having to jump to reach.
Stop it, as soon as we get to Winterfell, she’ll go back to being a lady and never think about the likes of you again, she’s a high born and you’re nothing more than a bastard boy, girls like her don’t have friends like you, he mentally chastised himself.
Arya walked back over and Gendry unwrapped his cloak from around himself before pulling it back around them both as she sat beside him.
He took both her hands between his, marvelling at how small they were in comparison.
“Better?” he asked.
She nodded once quickly and he smirked.
“A lady like you not want to share a cloak with the likes of me?” he joked, nudging her side with his elbow.
“It’s so cold,” came the quiet reply as she watched him rub her hands, finally feeling the heat seeping into them.
“I know. It’s one of the coldest nights I’ve known in a while. Winter is definitely on its way.” Gendry sighed.
“My father said that winter can last for years.” Arya said quietly, her face suddenly tense with pain as she remembered.
Gendry wrapped his arm around her shoulder “it’s fine to be upset you know. That doesn’t make you weak.”
“Joffrey killed him. He wasn’t a traitor. He killed him anyway.” Arya sniffed, rubbing her eyes roughly and taking a deep, shuddering breath as she regained control over her emotions.
Gendry frowned, not quite knowing what to say for a moment.
“He wouldn’t have wanted you to be sad you know. Sure you miss him, but he wouldn’t have wanted you to be sad. That’s not you.” Gendry told her gently.
She continued to stare into the fire for a while before she finally turned back to him.
“This cloak smells weird.”
Gendry snorted slightly, glad that they were back on normal terms again.
“And here I thought we were having a touching moment.” He joked.
Arya didn’t reply, merely leaned closer into his side, pulling her half of the cloak further around them both, keeping the draft away from their sides.
“You should at least try to sleep you know,” he said “it is past your bedtime and all.”
She dug her elbow into his ribs sharply “shut up!”
He pretended to flinch, holding one hand to his side “ouch.”
She rolled her eyes at him “it’s too cold to sleep.”
Gendry smiled and shook his head at her, noting, however, that she had at least stopped shivering.
Eventually he felt her slump against his side, her head falling onto his shoulder as exhaustion finally claimed her.
Careful not to wake her, he slipped an arm around her waist, pulling her backwards away from the fire, so that if she rolled in her sleep she wouldn’t be close enough to burn herself, before lowering her down onto the floor next to him.
Gendry lay beside her, tucking the cloak around them both again.
She murmured in protest, shifting closer to him at the loss of contact and heat, rubbing her forehead gently against his skin on the small stretch of bare chest at the top of his sternum, tucking her head between the edge of his clothes and his neck. He shivered slightly at her cold skin, wrapping his arms around her tiny frame.
“Thank you.” He heard her mutter.
“That’s okay, tomorrow I’ll cut your cloak so that it doesn’t drag along the floor and get soaked,” he promised.