No Featherbed For Me

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Title: No Featherbed For Me
Author(s): vixleonard (lit_chick08)
Date(s): 2012 - 2014
Length: 154,386 words
Genre: Het, What if Prince Gendry AU, Angst
Fandom: Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire
External Links: AO3

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No Featherbed For Me by vixleonard is a Game of Thrones fic. It is a "what if" AU focused on Arya Stark where Gendry is Cersei's son and the legitimate heir to the throne instead of a bastard. Although the relationship between Arya and Gendry is a major focus of the fic, they aren't endgame and the fic can be categorized as angst even though it's not tagged as such.

The fic is much recced by fans of Arya, and by many fans of the Arya Stark/Gendry Waters pairing. However, it also often comes with warnings because of how emotional it makes it's readers, with fans sometimes including crying reactions gifs in their recs. As of August 2021, the story has over 203,000 hits, 4300 kudos, 790 comments and 1290 bookmarks on Archive of Our Own.[1]

The Story

Based upon the idea that Gendry is Cersei's first child, who is mentioned to have died as an infant in the show, No Featherbed For Me is something of a fandom classic in the GoT fandom. In the author's notes, vixleonard says:

In the first season of the show, Cersei mentions her first child dying when he was still an infant. Let's pretend that baby was Gendry and he's the heir. This means the War of the Five Kings never happens and Jon Arryn dies of natural causes. Just go with it.[1]

It is probably the most prominent example of the Prince Gendry trope, which positions Gendry as the heir to the Iron Throne rather than one of Robert Baratheon's many bastards. Most of these fics feature Gendry as a prince in order to get Arya and Gendry together without the problems presented in canon that keep them apart. In that respect, No Featherbed For Me is something of a departure from the regular parameters of the trope. While the fic is often marketed as "the best" Arya/Gendry fic[2] by fans and they *are* tagged as the primary pairing, Arya and Gendry are not endgame in the fic. This is one of the factors in why people get so emotional about it, because the plot creates extreme angst about the fact that Arya and Gendry can't be together due to Gendry marrying Sansa. The fic is more accurately described as an Arya-centric fic focused on her making her way through the slightly changed plot of GoT. The summary for the fic on AO3 is:

Arya Stark wanted to be a knight; she wanted to find glory and adventure with Needle in her hand. But that is not an appropriate life for a highborn lady, and that was all Arya of House Stark was allowed to be.

and much of the fic focuses on how much Arya doesn't want to marry either Edric Dayne or Aegon VI Targaryen, both of whom she eventually ends up marrying. The story mixes book and show canon, as Arya's pairing to Edric and Aegon are primarily based upon book canon rather than show canon and the fic was started in the hiatus between the first and second seasons. It continued to update for the next two years, finishing just as the fourth season began airing.

Reactions and Reviews

i will never read a fic as good as no featherbed for me and i don’t think i can get over that[3]

It’s one of the few fics that can bring me to tears again and again. Why did I do this to myself???[4]

Sometimes, I feel like No Featherbed for Me is like a study in masochism. Nothing good ever happens in this fic, but damn if it isn’t perfectly written.[5]

The emotional distress this put me in is outmatched by no other work of fiction.[6]

ayy so i just finished reading ‘no featherbed for me’ by lit_chick08 and it’s super great and the characterisation is rly on point and i cried.. highly recommended to anyone who likes asoiaf fanfic.[7]

I never throw fics up for review, but this one really impressed me. It is the most well-written fic in the fandom, not to mention very true to the series. It reads like it could have happened in the actual series, and while Arya is in a very different situation, she acts like herself. The first couple of chapters are kind of dodgy (or maybe that’s because I don’t like Arya / Gendry as a pairing), but it gets better with every chapter written.... The only thing I raised my eyebrow at is while the changes in the backstory seem to only extend to Gendry, things like the White Walker invasion and Dany’s single-minded quest to get to the mainland are hand-waved away (not that they don't appear, but the circumstance have been changed). Other than that, though, this fic is perfect.[8]

Whoa, this is very shockingly a very enjoyable and awesomely written piece. The first chapter made me expect a stereotypical romance fanfic and I'm not an AryaGendry fan to start with, so wasn't interested. But really, Gendry features quite little in the fic. It's a story about Arya, and her life. As other people have mentioned, very similar to canon in writing style and events as well. I'd probably say the only thing that makes it different is well...people seem too understanding and reasonable. And heavens forbid anyone in the ASOFAI universe act like that (As Sansa pointed out in the last chapter, Arya got off almost too lucky with each of her situations).[8]

Okay this story was so amazing. No Jaime/Brienne in it but it is literally such an awesome story that I can’t even complain about that at all. The last chapter has just been posted and it was so sad and beautiful... But truly this is worth reading. It’s such an epic story that it’s on par with sigilbroken’s In This Light series. It really is great so if you haven’t read it, please go and read it because it’s simply beautiful.[9]

Holy crap. It was plot twist after plot twist. Bad decision after bad decision. Heartbreak after heartbreak.It was like GRRM decided that not only was he OK with fan fic, he would post his own story disguised as one just to kill us a little more inside.[10]

I love one shots and whatnot, but nothing makes me fall in love like long, plotty fics with excellent characterization. Ugh, my heart. All the love for this fic. Spanning decades and across the entire GoT 'verse, this story is really flipping good, perfectly capturing the universe in which this show exists. From politics to backstabbing to screwed up and flawed characters to shady ones to just, yes. Everything. It's not often I read a fic that actually tugs at many emotions for me, but this one had me loving Arya and then wanting to ring her neck because of some of the decisions she made, and all of it stayed true to character. (And literally like every GoT character appeared in this, omg.) The author did a spectacular job with this.[11]

Negative Reviews

The truth is that No Featherbed For Me is so outrageously out of character with everyone, but especially Arya, that I couldn’t enjoy it even though I think that the author is a talented writer.

Arya is Arya in name only. Gendry is Gendry in name only. Ned, Jon, Sansa, everyone- all their characterizations made me cringe....

As for Arya, I can’t even begin to list my issues. I think what really cemented my hatred of the fic is when Arya runs away from her marriage with Renly. Arya is defined by her loyalty to her family and those she loves. She wouldn’t abandon responsibility and leave her family to suffer the consequences. She’s loyal, very, very loyal, and yet she frequently cheats on her husband with her sister’s husband. She also runs away from her obligations and shames her family.

It’s everything Arya is not. Arya’s so loyal to her friends and family, so protective of them, that she gets in trouble for it (Weasel Soup, Mycah, slowing herself down because she feels obligated towards Hot Pie/Gendry, trying to sacrifice herself for the Night Watch recruits.) The author throws all of that away for unbelievable reasons. Because Arya has survived countless incidents of trauma and forced labour and abuse and yet she can’t handle a marriage to a man that respects and likes her? [12]

I really enjoyed this story, and couldn't stop reading it. But now, I look at the story and I see a couple of things that bother me. Quite a number of important characters from cannon just disappeared to nothing. The author seems to resolve most of the conflicts not including Arya so easily it bothers me.[8]

remember when the biggest asoiaf fic was that garbage “no featherbed for me” where they made arya a ~happy wife married to faegon and sansa was a horrible shrew married to gendry and it had a million chapters and was full of internalised sexist nonsense[13]

I'm worried about people who thinks No Featherbed For Me is the best gendrya fanfic out there, are you guys okay? And I'm not criticizing the author, okay? She has others amazing fics, I just don't like NFBFM because it's literally pain and more pain without being rewarded for it in the end.[2]

Fanworks Inspired By The Story

Example Art Gallery

Further Reading


  1. ^ a b No Featherbed For Me on AO3. Accessed 24 August 2021.
  2. ^ a b Tweet by @delosrusso. Posted 25 Jul 2019. Accessed 19 Oct 2021.
  3. ^ "October 27, 2017 tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2021-08-22.
  4. ^ "June 25, 2015 Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2021-08-22.
  5. ^ "February 18, 2015 Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2021-08-22.
  6. ^ Goodreads review
  7. ^ "April 16, 2015 Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2021-08-24.
  8. ^ a b c "No Featherbed for Me by lit_chick08 - M - ASoIaF thread at, March 29, 2012". Archived from the original on 2021-08-22.
  9. ^ "October 1, 2014 Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2021-08-22.
  10. ^ "July 10, 2012 Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2021-08-22.
  11. ^ "Post by irony-rocks at het_reccers, May 1, 2012". Archived from the original on 2021-10-19.
  12. ^ "Jan 9 2014 Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2021-08-22.
  13. ^ Tweet by @hannahdentata. Posted 29 June 2020. Accessed 19 Oct 2021.
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