“Arya?” Gendry had followed her out. “Lady Smallwood said there’s a smithy. Want to have a look?”
“If you want.” She had nothing else to do.
“This Thoros,” Gendry said as they walked past the kennels, “is he the same Thoros who lived in the castle at King’s Landing? A red priest, fat, with a shaved head?”
“I think so.” Arya had never spoken to Thoros at King’s Landing that she could recall, but she knew who he was. He and Jalabhar Xho had been the most colorful figures at Robert’s court, and Thoros was a great friend of the king as well.
“He won’t remember me, but he used to come to our forge.” The Smallwood forge had not been used in some time, though the smith had hung his tools neatly on the wall. Gendry lit a candle and set it on the anvil while he took down a pair of tongs. “My master always scolded him about his flaming swords. It was no way to treat good steel, he’d say, but this Thoros never used good steel. He’d just dip some cheap sword in wildfire and set it alight. It was only an alchemist’s trick, my master said, but it scared the horses and some of the greener knights.”
She screwed up her face, trying to remember if her father had ever talked about Thoros. “He isn’t very priestly, is he?”
“No,” Gendry admitted. “Master Mott said Thoros could outdrink even King Robert. They were pease in a pod, he told me, both gluttons and sots.”
“You shouldn’t call the king a sot.” Maybe King Robert had drunk a lot, but he’d been her father’s friend.
“I was talking about Thoros.” Gendry reached out with the tongs as if to pinch her face, but Arya swatted them away. “He liked feasts and tourneys, that was why King Robert was so fond of him. And this Thoros was brave. When the walls of Pyke crashed down, he was the first through the breach. He fought with one of his flaming swords, setting ironmen afire with every slash.”
“I wish I had a flaming sword.” Arya could think of lots of people she’d like to set on fire.
“It’s only a trick, I told you. The wildfire ruins the steel. My master sold Thoros a new sword after every tourney. Every time they would have a fight about the price.” Gendry hung the tongs back up and took down the heavy hammer. “Master Mott said it was time I made my first longsword. He gave me a sweet piece of steel, and I knew just how I wanted to shape the blade. Only Yoren came, and took me away for the Night’s Watch.”
“You can still make swords if you want,” said Arya. “You can make them for my brother Robb when we get to Riverrun.”
“Riverrun.” Gendry put the hammer down and looked at her. “You look different now. Like a proper little girl.”
“I look like an oak tree, with all these stupid acorns.”
“Nice, though. A nice oak tree.” He stepped closer, and sniffed at her. “You even smell nice for a change.”
“You don’t. You stink.” Arya shoved him back against the anvil and made to run, but Gendry caught her arm. She stuck a foot between his legs and tripped him, but he yanked her down with him, and they rolled across the floor of the smithy. He was very strong, but she was quicker. Every time he tried to hold her still she wriggled free and punched him. Gendry only laughed at the blows, which made her mad. He finally caught both her wrists in one hand and started to tickle her with the other, so Arya slammed her knee between his legs, and wrenched free. Both of them were covered in dirt, and one sleeve was torn on her stupid acorn dress. “I bet I don’t look so nice now,” she shouted.
Tom was singing when they returned to the hall.
My featherbed is deep and soft,
and there I’ll lay you down,
I’ll dress you all in yellow silk,
and on your head a crown.
For you shall be my lady love,
and I shall be your lord.
I’ll always keep you warm and safe,
and guard you with my sword.
Harwin took one look at them and burst out laughing, and Anguy smiled one of his stupid freckly smiles and said, “Are we certain this one is a highborn lady?” But Lem Lemoncloak gave Gendry a clout alongside the head. “You want to fight, fight with me! She’s a girl, and half your age! You keep your hands off o’ her, you hear me?”
“I started it ” said Arya. “Gendry was just talking.”
“Leave the boy, Lem,” said Harwin. “Arya did start it, I have no doubt. She was much the same at Winterfell.”
Tom winked at her as he sang:
And how she smiled and how she laughed,
the maiden of the tree.
She spun away and said to him, no featherbed for me.