Lesson Learned

"You'll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though everybody is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in."

-Mandy Hale

In hindsight, the young lion should have known it would only take a short time for his sister to retaliate; he should have expected that, not even a day later one of the wolves would turn up dead. A feeble excuse and an easy lie for the golden haired queen - he could see the new hand didn't by the lame attempt, but the king did and that is all that mattered in the end.

So then, it came as no surprise to him to stumble upon the youngest wolf child and her companion, the wild pair in the finale of their goodbyes. He winced when a rock struck Nymeria in the side, wishing with all his might that he could protect the both of them, but he knew - just as Arya did - that there was no safety to be found so long as his sister bore her grudge.

When the wolf fled and at last the girl turned, those grey eyes rimmed with red and shining like glass from the tears she refused to shed, Jaime knew he was trapped. The girl of three and ten didn't move, her hands balled into tight fists, beads of crimson just barely noticeable in the waning light. "Arya," the lion greeted warily, unsure of what to expect of the girl in that moment. A beat of silence was all he got in return, her pale face more grave than he had ever seen before and his own heart ached for her.

Another beat pasted before the girl finally spoke, words carefully chosen and painfully cold, "Lady is good - she did nothing wrong. She didn't deserve that." Jaime agreed. The direwolf was the most tame and docile of the pack, much as her master was, the most dog like of them all. "It wasn't an accident," she continued, "Lady would never have attacked anyone unless they tried to hurt Sansa." Again, the lion agreed. "I won't let Nymeria come with us. I won't let her be killed next." Jaime was proud of the girl. Despite the coldness that had crept into her heart and words, she was still acting smart - she was still the same girl with a quick mind, sharp tongue, and unyielding loyalty.

"Nymeria will be safer out here," he replied, though none was needed, "perhaps she will find a new pack, or return to Winterfell." He saw the slop of brown bob once, lithe shoulders finally sagging beneath the weight of her frustrations and sorrow. "You will see her again, little wolf." He stepped aside and the two returned to the camp together, a rider and cart trotting past them, returning Lady's remains to be buried in the crypts of Winterfell.

It took another fortnight for them to reach King's Landing, and another week after before the Knight saw the girl again. Her face was smeared with dirt, a few scratches along her jawline. "A cat," she told him before racing off again as a plain, raggedy old tabby darted just out of his sight. He could only shake his head.

By the girl's third week in the city, they had only seen each other twice and it was beginning to drive the knight mad. He felt out of practice, his frustrations building and building with no real release - Cersei refused to see him, her anger as his betrayal regarding the wolf still burning hot like dragon's breath. The king was on his best behavior, saving what little face he could for now, attempting to appear kingly for his oldest friend and chosen brother.

When at last he saw the little lady again, he was just about ready to rip his hair out in frustration. The girl was in dire need of a bath, her hair tied up and out of her face as she stared down a man of straw, a tiny sliver of a blade held loose but firm in her hands. She jabbed and slashed, feet moving back and forth and side to side - dodging invisible blows from an invisible enemy as if her very life depended on it. He always admired the girl for her ability to throw herself wholeheartedly into her sparring, no matter who with. But now, now the knight felt jealousy boil within him. 'Jealous of a strawman,' he sneered to himself, frustrations growing hotter, and before he could stop himself, he steppes fully into the room, steel meeting steel as he intercepted her blade.

"Is this where you have been hiding? Bored of me already?" His brow arched but otherwise his face remained passive. Arya blinked at him in shock, those grey eyes comically wide as her hands shook from the pressure she kept up between their blades. After a moment those eyes narrowed and she bared her teeth like the beast she was.

The pressure releases and she skittered back a few steps, her blade still poised and at the ready. When had she gotten that, he wondered. They had never used it on the road, and he doubted her Lord father would have supplied her with one. "And who did you steal it from?" His sword struck out with practiced ease, tapping her knuckles with the flat of it. She hissed and snarled, her own blade slashing out in retaliation but her reach was too short to hit him.

"It was a gift," she snapped stubbornly, grip tightening, chin rising in defiance and eyes blazing with cold fury. "You said our lessons would continue. You lied."

He hummed, side stepping another slash, spinning his sword lazily in his hands. "People lie, little wolf." Steel met steel again in rapid succession, her fury once more getting the best of her. 'At least she is maintaining a smart rhythm,' he mused to himself before his blade finally snagged her knuckles, the sliver of a blade dropping from his grasp and balancing upon the flat of his. "But I did not. I warned you, our sessions would be few and far between. I am of the Kingsguard, Arya. I cannot attend to your every whim." Those eyes narrowed like daggers and a shiver ran up his spine. "Don't look at me like that," he finally sighed, letting her blade drop to the stone floors and sheathing his own.

"I hate it here," he heard her growl as he turned to remove his cloak and armor. "It's too loud and everyone is always trying to make me act like a lady. I am not a lady." A small smile twitched at the corner of his lips.

"It has been many years since women have been seen as warriors, and even they were few in number," the man chirped, turning back to her, sword back in hand. She stood ready once more, stance strong and loose. "But who is to say you cannot be both a lady and a knight?" His inquiry brought about a tilt of her head, stance softening for the briefest of moments, enough time for him to swing out, her sword just barely catching his in time to redirect it to her left.

"I don't want to be a lady," she breathed, taking three steps back before ducking to his left, then to his right. Always on the move, always one step ahead of his sword - oh how he loathed her speed. "I just want to be a knight. I don't want to marry or have the babies of some stupid lord. I want to fight." Jaime pitied the fool who would have to see the wild girl. Her sword jabbed low, the point mere inches from his belly when he pushed it back sharply with his, jabbing out again. Blow after blow pushed her back, edging her for the corner. Each clang of steel making the girl wince until finally she dove instead of blocked, slipping easily between his legs and rolling behind him. Her shoes scuffed and scrambled as she raced to her feet, eyes sharp and excited, chest rising and falling with eager breaths.

"Father set me up with a teacher when he found I had Needle," ah, so the blade already had a name, a very suitable name too. "He says to never let yourself be back into a corner."

"Then your teacher is smart. Once you find yourself cornered, there is little you can do to escape." Despite the ache in his chest, Jaime was glad the girl hadn't been slacking off in her training.

Arya moved first, her feet moving as if she were dancing around him, her eyes ablaze with delight as she rained attack after attack on him, the tiny blade moving too fast for him to block and dodge, the blade all but going invisible with the speed and angles she was hitting. In the end though, experience won yet again, and Arya lay defeated on the stones but with a wide grin adorning her lips. "Will you spar with me again," she inquired, voice strained and breathless. The lion just chuckled, back leaning against the stone walls, eyes shut to the world. Arya squirmed until she laid beside him, her head beside his thigh, eyes on the sky.

"Once a week, at least," he conceded, listening to the pants of the girl beside him until at last they evened out. "The king is preparing something," he mused after several beats of silence, "he has been keeping me busy more than normal. He is preparing something and I'm not sure what." He felt the girl's head nod in silent understanding.

And that is how they remained, well into the night until the moon replaced the sun and sounds of the city faded into nothing but the distant cries of the guls. Jaime realised, with startling clarity, that the pent up frustration was gone. No longer were his limbs aching for a fight, his temper dangerously close to boiling over - for the first time in what felt like months, he was at ease. "Keep it up, little wolf," he whispered into the night, rising with the sleeping girl in his arms, "my sister will never forgive you." And he realized once again, he was no longer concerned for what that meant. For the first time in his entire life, the eldest Lannister son could say his sister was not the first or last thing on his mind.

Hey everyone! long time no see! Just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for reading and reviewing so far and thank you for sticking with this story during my unexpected Hiatus from it. who else is ready for season 8?! I'm equal parts happy and sad that its coming out. if Jaime and Arya dont make it through this alive, i will be devastated! anyways, i hope you enjoy this chapter and I hope to update more frequently from here on!