Arya flopped over from her position spooning in my arms to look at me.
“Have you heard from any of my brothers?” She asked suddenly.
“Do you want to talk about your brothers while we’re naked?”
“Do you want me to get dressed?”
I shook my head into the pillow and hugged her closer.
She laughed in a playful-exasperated sort of way and pecked my lips.
“So, should I be worried?”
“What?” She said, distracted, “Oh, yeah, you might want to get some more locks for your door and start wearing a helmet at all times.”
“What did you tell them?”
“I didn’t. Sansa let it slip we’re sleeping together.”
I let out a very unmanly squeak.
“Now I’m really putting my clothes back on.” She extracted herself from our tangle of limbs despite my best efforts to weigh her down, “I have class in an hour, do you want to grab food before?”
“Do I have to put on pants?” I complained.
“No.” She giggled, “I mean, it’ll be a race between you and campus security but.” She slipped my previously discarded shirt on over her bra right as the doorknob started jangling, “Hot Pie! Naked people!”
“Seven hells guys!” He yelled, “Put a damn sock on the door!”
“Not after the last three were stolen,” I shouted, trying not to laugh when Arya flung my boxers at my face.
“You’re so getting your own apartment next semester,” He complained.
“If you’re paying,” I retorted. Arya looked like she was considering the idea for a moment, and I kissed her on the cheek and scrunched up my nose.
“How long does it take to put pants on!”
“We’re ready.” Arya called.
“It smells like sex in here,” Hot Pie sighed while throwing his stuff on his bed.
“We were about to go eat, do you want to come?” She offered.
“I have that paper due. I’d better pretend not to be a human for the next few hours.”
I tugged at Arya’s hand and we bade our goodbyes and walked across campus.
“So,” I started, grabbing her hand as we crossed the lawn, “Should I expect some A Christmas Carol sort of visitation from your brothers?”
She thought on this with a hmm, “I mean, I feel like they’re more likely to all go at once and start kicking you.”
“I thought they were more honorable than a four on one fight.”
“They are,” She stated, “Except when it comes to sisters.”
“Don’t they know you can take care of yourself?”
She let go of my hand so she could menacingly crack her knuckles, “Oh, they know.” She grinned, “This is more of a nice gesture. They know I would take down anyone they needed me to.” She laughed, “If our massive wealth dries up and the company tanks, we could totally start a crime family.”
We entered the mess hall and our conversation suddenly drifted to classes and teachers and tattoos and pudding with the whole thing apparently forgotten.
After her mention of her brothers, I was left with a low level amount of quiet anxiety. She kept making little jokes about it here and there and I could tell the physical threats were less likely to come true, her bothers were quite intimidating. Thankfully there were no breaks for a long while so I didn’t have to see them until…
Until I opened the door to my dorm and barely surprised a shrill scream when I came face to face with Jon.
“Holy fuck!” I yelled, clutching my chest.
“Sorry I didn’t…” Jon said awkward as ever. He shifted on his feet and looked at the ground.
“It’s okay? Um, how did you get into my dorm?”
“Hot Pie let me in.”
“Why are you here?”
“I was just down here for an appointment and thought I’d drop by the university.”
“Why are you here-here?”
“I’m taking Arya out to lunch, but she’s still in class and um, she told me about you two, and I thought I’d come talk to you.”
“If I hurt her you’ll,” I started, saying the words of every concerned family member.
“No—she can protect herself and I saw you take that guy down after groping her. I just wanted to welcome you to the family- not, that’s probably premature since you just started going out, just, you’ve kind of always been like a brother to us but I feel like this solidifies it in a way. In a Harry and Ginny sort of a way.” He paused, “But I don’t want to put too much pressure on you guys- if you break up, you’ll still be part of us.
“Uh, so I came by to say I’m happy for you guys and to not uh, worry about this. I’ve got to, um, go now.” Jon awkwardly exited and I was left in the doorway feeling utterly confused.
Rickon was easy, Rickon, being fourteen came up for a weekend so Arya could instill the want of uni in him by showing him the biology building as a favor to her mother who was starting to worry about his blasé, travel the world plans. We were halfway through the tour when I mentioned something about Arya and my date on Friday. He laughed and asked us how long it had been since we’d gotten together. Arya thought on this and said about a month or two and Rickon spluttered in the realization it hadn’t been years like he thought. Then he got distracted by the building’s resident guinea pigs.
Despite being on the same campus as us, we hadn’t seen Robb in literal months. He was in his last semester of pre-med and so whenever we did see him, he looked like a psa on the horrors of caffeine overconsumption. But, the Starks are an ever present and omnipotent bunch in the worst way possible.
I was in the petrol station across the street, about to ring up my purchases of tampons and all the ice cream I could hold when I heard a familiar voice.
“What’s up mate?” He said, giving me a quick side hug.
“Nothing really. I’m taking my last final next week.” I said, praying the cashier would hurry up and get the items in the bag, “Last final ever, I made it!”
“Congratulations.” He looked more tired than I had ever seen him, “So, you got a girlfriend?” He said, nodding to my bag as I paid.
“Yeah, um, Arya.”
I could tell his fatigued brain could hardly handle this. He seemed frozen in place and I could see the cogs slowly turning in his face.
“I, uh.” He started.
“We would have told you sooner but…” I trailed.
“So, I better get back.”
And I scurried off with all the grace I could muster, which is to say none.
“Bran’s on the phone,” Arya whispered to me, “Do you want to say hi?”
“I’m going to hand you off to Gendry,” She said, shoving the mobile at me.
“YOU’RE DATING ARYA!” He shouted, I pulled the phone back from my ear, “FINALLY YOU BLIND LITTLE FUCKS!”
“You kiss your mother with that mouth?” I mumbled.
“Now you really have to come home with her!”
“You Stark brothers seem to think that my relationship with you guys is fundamentally changing but it really isn’t.”
He huffed, “But we will see more of you, right?”
I agreed and tried many times to change the subject to his studies and his friends and physical therapy but every few minutes he would revel in the fact that Arya and I were together.
“You seem almost happier than we are,” I commented, Arya scuffed my arm.
“Crazy, you guys have been in love for like four years!”
“Yeah,” I sighed, then my heart jumped to my throat, hoping she hadn’t hear.
“Love?” She mouthed.
“I have to go Bran. I’ll see you next weekend,” I promised, hanging up suddenly.
“Love,” She repeated.
“I…” Her face cut me off, an unreadable look yet so open and raw, “It was that or get stuck in another loop with him.” I laughed.
We turned back to our assignments and didn’t mention it again.
When we went to her house over the long weekend, Theon saw me and pulled me aside during the family’s hugs to congratulate me and palm me five condoms with a wink.
But Sansa is who Arya really should have warned me about. During all of dinner she kept making passive aggressive jibes about our four year age difference and my lack of a career path, and every time she could tell no one was looking, she was glaring daggers at me. I excused myself to go to the bathroom, which apparently was a huge mistake because Sansa discretely left to go to the kitchen and looped around and glared at me from the bathroom door.
“Seven hells!” I exclaimed, seeing her shrouded in darkness, “All Starks need cat bells or something.”
“So I know my brothers are all softies when it comes to you, and so was I, but there’s some things I need to know,” She said, determined.
“Shoot,” I said, far more comfortably than I felt.
“Did you like my sister back when you were with Bella?”
“I’ve got time.”
“I’ve always li-loved Arya, I just didn’t know it back then. Plus she was sixteen and I was twenty. That’s weird.”
“And it’s not now?”
“She’s grown up. And nineteen and twenty-three isn’t that bad.”
She hummed, sated by this answer, but still obviously grumpy.
“And you love her?”
“Yeah,” I stared at my shoes, unable to control the blush spreading across my face and down my neck, “I love her a lot.”
“And she loves you?”
“I think so.”
“I think so too.” She said, suddenly soft, “But know if the smallest thing happens to you, I’m going to choke you with your own dick. And get away with it. Understand?”
I nodded. She spun and exited to the kitchen, and I took a moment to grasp at my beating heart when Arya ran out to meet me.
“Did she beat you up?” She asked with a concerned laugh.
She stood on her tiptoes to give me a quick kiss but I caught her back and deepened it, pressing my mouth to hers with such a fury. She pulled back with swollen lips and raised eyebrows.
“What was that about?” She was breathless.
“I love you Arya.”
“I love you too.”
“You forgot to warn me about your sister.”
“Yeah. You know she’s not kidding about any of that too. She game Lommy a black eye and got another kid suspended for it. For me.”
“That’s reassuring, thank you.”
She pecked my lips again and guided me back to the dining room.