"I'm King Robert's son."
Arya wasn't sure how to respond to such a bold claim.
She stared blankly up at Gendry from her spot on his cot in the small room above the forge on this Street of Steel, the bustling sound of the city dying to a soft roar as she focused on her traveling companion. His bright blue eyes have not averted from hers in the silence that has followed his words.
"You're joking," she finally said flatly, fingers curling angrily into a fist by her sides. She couldn't believe she'd followed him all this way to King's Landing, and even stepped foot into his home, only for him to lie to her face. "I don't believe you."
"We've traveled together for days, Arry," Gendry huffed, his muscles flexing as he crossed his arms in defense. "I wouldn't lie about something like this."
"You said you're the king's son!" She hissed, eyes narrowed dangerously as she stood and pointed her finger accusingly at him.
"I am," he agreed. "But I'm just a bastard." He sighed and ran a hand down his face tiredly. "I thought you needed to know, if you're to stay with me. I always have to be looking over my shoulder in this city, in case someone comes looking."
Arya didn't move for several heartbeats, waiting to see if he'd flinch, but he showed no signs of nervousness or guilt, so after a moment, her shoulders relaxed. She nodded tightly in apology before sitting back down. "Why would someone come looking?" The words felt unfamiliar in her mouth.
Gendry shrugged, but she could see from the way his head dipped down that it weighed heavier on him than he let on. "To use me as a hostage against the royal family. To kill me. To challenge the succession." He grimaced before looking back at her seriously. "Any number of reasons. Nobility play by different rules than us."
It must've been clear that Arya didn't fully understand what he was trying to tell her, as Gendry huffed tiredly before kneeling in front of her. "Lift your legs?" Once she'd followed his request, he ducked down, his arms disappearing beneath the bed as he searched blindly for something. "Ah– here it is." He pulled out a small, dust-covered wooden box, and didn't bother brushing it off before opening it so she could see what was inside.
There was a little golden locket with worn joints, the two halves opened to show miniscule portraits of a man in rich clothes with black hair and blue eyes, and a woman with blonde hair and brown eyes.
"Who are they?" She asked softly, her gaze flickering up at Gendry to find his eyes trained carefully on the locket.
"My mother and father," he replied just as quietly, as if speaking louder would be disrespectful to the figures forever frozen in the painting. "My mother worked… she was a whore, in one of the more popular brothels here. She always said she was my father's favorite," he chuckled darkly. "But she died in the plague that swept the city ten years ago."
Arya wanted so badly to reach out and touch the locket, almost as if that would somehow bring Gendry's parents into his life together, so he wouldn't sound as lonely as he did while speaking of them. But she was only a girl, no magic to her name. So instead, she rested her hand on Gendry's upper arm, hoping it'd be enough to provide some comfort. By the relaxed state of his body, she'd helped just a bit.
"That's the only secret I have," he joked blandly, shutting the lid to the box with care. "It wouldn't be fair for you not to know, in case something happens. Now you won't be forever wondering what happened to me, Arry."
This was an entirely new feeling for Arya, to have someone's explicit trust, to be their secret-keeper.
She wasn't entirely sure why it'd struck her by surprise; after all, they'd spent many days together now on the road, watching each other's backs. Keeping each other safe. This was only another level of that… but one she wanted to keep equal.
Gendry paused from where'd he been crouching down again to re-home the box in its hiding spot. "What?"
Arya bit the inside of her cheek before steeling her nerves once more. "Not Arry. My name is Arya." She could feel her face beginning to heat as Gendry's azura eyes burned holes into her spirit. "You trusted me with your greatest secret, and well… this is mine."
"Arya." Gendry's voice was flat and emotionless as he raised up on his knees again to be at her eye level. "You're a girl?"
"Yes." She furrowed her eyebrows in thought and began to pull up the bottom of her shirt. "Sorry, did you need proof–?"
"No, no, no! No, I believe you," Gendry panicked, his tone raising dramatically alongside his eyebrows as he shook his head. "I just… why did you hide?"
"You did break into my home," she reminded him. "Mother told me stories about what could happen if I went out into the real world on my own… for the night is dark and full of terrors," she intoned with a roll of her eyes. "Besides, everyone would be on the lookout for a girl in red robes. Not a short boy tagging along with you."
"So all those times we shared a bedroll…?"
Arya tipped her head curiously. "What about it?"
Gendry stared at her for several moments before he burst out laughing. She wasn't sure what she'd said that was funny, but she figured it was a much better reaction than him possibly being mad and throwing her out.
"What a pair we are," he said once he'd calmed down enough. "The lost girl and the secret son." He held out his hand for her to clasp. "Arya of Braavos, a pleasure to meet you."
Her smile was true and bright as their hands melded together. "Valar Morghulis, Gendry Baratheon."