“They call him the Wandering Wolf,” she’d heard her father say.
“He must be a wanderer to come this far into the hills,” she’d heard her uncle respond thickly through a mouthful of stew.
“These Starks, calling themselves the this wolf, and the that wolf. It’s as silly as if I called myself the Wandering Mountain, isn’t it?” she’d heard her brother say.
“What could he want?” she’d heard her mother snap. "He’ll fall off the mountain if he’s not careful, and Starks are never careful with their climbing.“
Arya watches him come, watches him pick his way up the mountain path leading his horse and one hand against the rock face. He is taller than she’d expected. To hear her father speak of it, Starks are not so tall for there was no mountain in their blood. She cannot see his face, at all, he is so swaddled in scarves, his cloak wrapped tight about his body and belted shut. At least Starks seem to know how to gird themselves for winter.
She watches him come closer and closer until she hears him make a sound of surprise and he calls, "Hey! Girl!”
She cocks her head, smiling. He would think her a girl, she supposes. She’s far enough away, and wrapped in her own cloak, but she’s too old to be a girl now. The Norrey had been been clear to say so when he’d supped at their table a moon past, commenting on how The Flint’s girl had grown a fine set of teats. "Like the mountains, they are!“ he’d bellowed in his cups, and her father had laughed while Arya had blushed and slumped down in her seat because they were hardly as big as her mother’s–hardly mountains at all–and besides, she did not want everyone to stare at them. But the Wandering Wolf would have had no way of seeing them beneath her furs.
"How far until I reach Lord Flint’s holdings?” he calls to her. "Lord Flint" he names her father. Perhaps he has simply never wandered in this part of the North, and doesn’t know any better.
Arya smiles down at him. "Well, if you take the road, you’ve got another half a day.“ She doesn’t hear him grown above the wind, though from the way his body twists she can tell the news is not quite welcome.
"There is no faster way?” he calls back.
“If you scale the mountain,” she responds, cocking her head and looking up the rock face. She’s climbed it for years–in snow, in rain, in sunshine. She knows the footholds and the resting places and, more importantly, knows that home is only an hour away.
“I could not leave my horse,” he curses.
“No, you could not,” she agrees, and she gets to her feet and climbs quickly down to the road. "But at least, I shall keep you company along the way. It will be faster–I know where the road is.“
She sees his eyes, grey like the sky overhead widen slightly.
"Forgive me, I thought you a girl but I see now that you are not.”
She tilts her head and suppresses a smile. "I’ve heard that you are a Wandering Wolf, but I see that you are not.“ She begins to walk the path, picking her way through the snow and stone. "Only a man.”
“I am a wolf,” he says quickly, and she hears snow crunching behind her. "I am Rodrik Stark, of Winterfell.“
"I am Arya Flint,” she laughs. "And I am a mountain.“