Eira threw him around on the pitch for two solid hours, and he ached for at least half an hour afterward, but he returned to the Harvard house in a better mood than he’d left it. Hilda and Gardar checked in on him. He smiled at her.
“It’s a good day,” he said honestly, and she had smiled back.
“I’m glad, kostr. How about dinner outside? I know you’re feeling a little caged.”
He felt cooped up not being able to return to classes the next day, but he took the time he would have usually spent in class with Aslog and Gura as he usually spent Friggdøgr with them. Aslog had regained enough strength to start walking around the house again, and Gura had been beside herself with joy. They sat at the dining table after Bregðask had fished for lunch for the three of them going over the notes from class so she wouldn’t be so far behind.
“I’m going to see Svala as soon as I can walk there myself,” she said, “And get her to clear me to return to school.”
Bregðask grinned, “That’s awesome. Everyone will be glad to see you.”
She smiled at him, “Thank you, Þjóðann, for not abandoning me.”
He flushed and stammered before directing them to another topic.
When Laugardøgr arrived, he was almost grateful to be able to spend the full day alongside Gardar sharpening swords and adding to his savings.
Due to the rush of people needing their weapons maintenanced before embarking and him putting the final touched on Eira’s ax, he arrived back home closer to dinner time. As it was late June, the sky was filled with the light of the sun that had only moved a little towards the horizon.
He walked into the house and up to his room with a sigh. He wanted to sketch, and he realized while looking through his bag that he didn’t have his large sketchbook because Eira still hadn’t returned it. They hadn’t seen each other since their training session. With a shake of his head, he just made a note to start a new one.
However, Bregðask couldn’t even be ecstatic at the prospect of seeing Eira again soon and presenting her with a new ax for her stint in the Ørlǫg Raun. He couldn’t feel the rush of anxiety about considering confessing his feelings for her, or at least asking her on a date because his room was empty.
He frowned at the sight, stepped back out of the room, and looked down the hallway in both directions to be sure. It wouldn’t be the first time that he had walked into a different room while his thoughts ran wild, but he was nearly too tired to have messed it up this time. After confirming that it was indeed his room, he walked back down the stairs and into the kitchen where he found Hilda packing food with a grave and furious expression on her face. He was sure that he wasn’t going to like the reason she looked like that any more than she did.
“What’s going on, Aunt Hilda? You wouldn’t have happened to have seen my books or at least my clothes? I could really use a bath.”
She turned, her usually warm brown eyes were as hard as stone and as furious as the seas, “Your father is taking you to Bjørn.”
Bregðask frowned, “That’s six days on a boat away. What for?”
“He hasn’t said. He just ordered all of your things to be packed. I hope Gardar knows more than your departure time.”
“Which would be when exactly?”
“In an hour.”
His eyes widened as she went back to packing food with shaking hands and a thick voice, “I’ve packed your favorites–”
“Aunt Hilda,” Bregðask breathed. She paused and sighed deeply before turning around and hugging him tightly.
“I’m so sorry, kostr,” she said, “I really don’t know any more than that.”
Bregðask frowned and let her hug him. He remained with her and helped her pack before taking his last wandering around the house he’d grown up in, yet he didn’t feel regret so much as anger. There weren’t many happy memories in the house for him. That withstanding, he had no idea why Svein was making such a bold move.
He worried his lip. It had to have something to do with his sixteenth birthday, maybe all the revelations that Bregðask was making about himself and the weird things that were happening to him. Perhaps, Svein knew something that he didn’t and needed to know.
It didn’t cross his mind to think that Svein was sending him somewhere for his own good. That would have been giving the man too much credit as a father.
Perhaps I should read that book from her sooner rather than later…
Whatever had caused Svein to make this decision was probably in there and it would behoove him to know it before he was left on Bjørn.
Hilda fed him dinner and packed what looked like several weeks worth of food into a large crate and loaded it onto the cart with the last of the things that would be going with him. Ivan Ngall smiled at him lightly.
“I hear you’re going to study abroad. Congratulations!” he said.
Bregðask smiled politely, “Thank you. YOu’ll at least have a break from my crazy requests.”
“Nonsense,” he laughed, “You and Dvalarr have been best friends for as long as any of us can remember. We’ll miss you Bregðask.”
He scoffed as he helped Hilda onto the cart and climbed up after her.
He didn’t see Svein until he was boarding the boat. Standing on the shore, he looked up at Svein as he ordered men around on the boat and his stomach turned with disgust.
Who else had he lied to aside from Bregðask?
He turned around to see Eira in her running gear. He knew from Kata that they often went running on the beach when they were together. Her dark hair was bound in a high and fluffy ponytail today with a cloth kransen on her brow, a strange sight as he didn’t get to see it often. He couldn’t tell where the look slated among his favorites.
The same as all the others.
“Hi Eira,” he said as she jogged towards him. Hilda’s eyes widened and she shoved Ivan to start working as soon as Bregðask had helped her off the cart.
Hilda walked around the other side of the cart and around others hauling things onto the ship as Eira came towards him. If she was attempting to be subtle, she’d failed at it miserably.
Perhaps I actually inherited my awkwardness from the Harvards.
“What’s going on? I went by the forge, but no one was there…”
Bregðask sighed, “Doesn’t look like I’ll be around, so you won’t be able to throw me around on the pitch anymore.”
She frowned, “What do you mean?”
“Bregðask! We cast off in ten minutes,” Svein yelled down at him, “Oh, hello, Eira.”
“Hello,” she waved.
He grit his teeth at his father’s voice before looking up at Eira, “He’s sending me to Bjørn for reasons that have yet to be divulged and I have no idea when, or if, I’ll be back.”
Eira worried her lip. Bregðask did his best to smile.
“I…. guess this is goodbye, then?”
“It is so, milady,” she smiled lightly at the name, but it didn’t last long, “Some other strong and strapping Viking will have to service your every ax-related and trouncing needs.”
She laughed almost helplessly.
“Bregðask!” Svein yelled over the edge of the boat.
Bregðask sighed as Eira winced, “You should probably get going. He sounds angry.”
“I’ve got at least three minutes of Calder territory left,” he said with a grin, “Besides, if he gets really impatient, he’ll just have someone carry me on. It’s not like I weigh much.”
She laughed at that, “Maybe it would be best not to anger him too much before you leave?”
“I don’t think I can make him much angrier than I do by just breathing.”
Bregðask, now or never, he thought as she looked down with a soft smile.
“I wondered if maybe… it would be okay to write to you? I mean, say no, obviously, because you’re busy and have friends and–”
Bregðask’s eyes widened, and she flushed crossing her arms and smirking despite it, “I mean, it’ll be a lot to get used to in Bjørn. They’re totally different than us, and I’ve always wanted to go elsewhere. You’ll probably want someone familiar to talk to. Besides, I can pass on your address to Kata and Dvalarr if you want.”
Bregðask let out a sigh of relief, “Yeah That would be great. Thank you.”
He glared over his shoulder, “The ocean isn’t drying up.”
Svein narrowed his eyes at him, but Bregðask ignored him and turned back to Eira. She lunged at him and wrapped her arms around him startling him with the embrace. In his heart of hearts, he had never thought he would ever be in physical contact with Eira outside of a happy or awkward accident and martial training.
“I’ll miss you, Bregðask,” she said into his shoulder.
Bregðask smiled. His face flushed as he hugged her back, taking a deep breath of her seaside wind and ax oil scent, “I’ll miss you too, milady.”
She released him.
“Try not to kill Sigfrøðr. I hear he’ll be erfingi soon,” he said.
“Well, Odin have mercy on the rest of us,” she said walking backwards. “Have a safe journey and I make no promises unless I leave the island before that. He’s a Renouf and you know how Osulfs feel about them on principle.”
Bregðask laughed, “Yes, he is.”
“Bregðask!” Svein’s voice sounded angrier than before, but he couldn’t fathom why.
He huffed, “Duty calls, milady. Though I would rather stand here ‘til twenty years more have passed.”
She laughed, “I would have thee gone lest your father have your head.”
“Care you not with a silken thread to pluck me back again? No loving-jealousy of this ill-given liberty?”
“I would if thy were a bird with such liberty,” she replied, “A bird you are not but a knave.”
He clutched at his chest as he walked backward up the deck, “If I were a bird, you would kill me with much cherishing, surely. Goodbye, Goodbye! Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodbye until twenty years morrow.”
Eira laughed from the dock, “That’s not at all how it goes, Romeo.”
“Ah, but what is in a name? Neither meaning nor light for names cause doubt in the heart of action and make fools of us all.” Eira’s eyes widened as the plank was pulled up, and he smiled sadly at her, “I shall not forget and send word to you six days hence. Forget me not?”
“I won’t,” she called and waved, “Safe journey, young Romeo, and don’t skimp on any of the details!”
Bregðask waved back, “I won’t.”
He waved at Hilda and Ivan on the shore, “Expect letters about how perfectly miserable I am!”
Hilda laughed, “I packed you pudding!”
“You love me!” He exclaimed, “You really love me!”
Hilda laughed and practically whispered, “Be strong. Be safe. Be brave.”
Bregðask nodded at her, and she nodded back.
He watched the dock fade into the distance until he could no longer make their figures out on the gray horizon. His lips twitched with half a smile. Though the gods had seen fit to make his father do this for whatever reason, at least he had gotten to say one goodbye. It was not the goodbye he would have expected since Dvalarr and Kata were actually his friends, but it was good to find out that Eira had really cared. He still felt warm from her body being pressed against him.
“Since when did you and Eira become so close?” Svein asked.
“Since I treated her like a person.”
Svein grit his teeth and marched away from him as Gardar came up to him.
“So you’ve been keeping things from me! What exactly did you to do during those weekly sessions.”
“She threw me around, swung an ax at my head, and we talked,” he said with a chuckle, “Don’t ask me how that turned into being worthy of a hug.”
Gardar nudged him, “That’s just the natural charm.”
“Oh, your mother’s side of the family obviously. Harvards haven’t a charming bone in their body when it comes to romance that Hilda didn’t steal.”
He laughed at that and looked up to the sky, “You think I have a chance?”
“You’ve at least got more of a chance than Sigfrøðr.”
Bregðask snorted, “I’ll take it.”