Bregðask woke up in the room he shared with Gardar and laid still in the sunlight pouring through the window.
Four years until he could leave.
He’d expected Svein to leave him there for a year maybe two, had feared four but hadn’t expected it. Bregðask was so shocked that he couldn’t do much more than stare at the ceiling. Gardar came in and got packed up and Bregðask still couldn’t speak. Their eyes met and it seemed that even Gardar was at a loss for words. Bregðask followed him outside.
“I’m going to miss you, Bregðask,” Gardar said, “You’ll write won’t you?”
Bregðask nodded stiffly and hugged the older man. He pat his back and drew back.
Svein looked at him as Gardar looked between the two of them.
Gardar winced and Svein turned to him, “Is there a problem with your hilmir’s orders?”
Svein was a manipulative bastard when he wanted to be, Bregðask had seen and bore the brunt of it for years. He’d manipulated Bregðask to do plenty of things over the years that had turned out to only hurt him in the end, but this took the cake. He met Svein’s gaze then walked away before he said something that would start a screaming match on a foreign island.
Walking quickly to the edge of the city, he sat down on the beach and stared out across the sea. The waves shifted, and in the distance, he could see the faintest figures in the water. It should have been impossible from the distance, but they were definitely there.
A dragon, he thought, probably the same from that night.
He shook his head, Four years?
His insides turned blue. Sweet Thor, he’d know he wasn’t the best Viking or the best heir, but he hadn’t thought that he’d warranted being exiled for four years. Did his father hate the sight of him so much?
“Will you not see your hilmir off?”Kjeld asked standing beside him.
Bregðask considered telling the man to fuck off, but he stood and followed the man to the docks. Ivan stood at a distance seemingly watching the exchange and Bregðask kept his back to the man so that the man couldn’t tell that there was nothing being said.
“Don’t cause any trouble,” Svein said interrupting the silence that Bregðask had planned to maintain for as long as seemed like a good send-off before leaving. To hell with his agenda, to hell with anything that Svein knew. It didn’t matter. He’d find his answers on his own, one way or another.“And I’ll come visit… probably.”
Liar, Bregðask thought viciously. There was no probably to it. He’d said four years, but Bregðask knew that with a year’s passing, Svein could have married and had another son, or even simply claimed Sigfrøðr as the heir. He’d probably just leave Bregðask on Bjørn indefinitely until the four years ran out and Bregðask could leave as he liked.
“Uncle Gardar, please give the red, blue, and yellow box in the back to Eira the next time she comes in. It seems that I won’t have a chance to give it to her.”
“Er…” Gardar winced and looked between the two as Bregðask pulled out a note he’d written while at sea, trapped in the storage room.
“And if you could give this to the messenger when you arrive, I promised that I would write.”
“Don’t be dramatic,” Svein said dismissively, “Sigfrøðr–”
“Bregðask would like to say that he’ll miss you,” Gardar interrupted, “And he wishes that you’ll come back for him sooner than four years from now so he can go on with his life on Calder and maybe forge a better relationship with you in the future.”
Svein didn’t even look at him. He said nothing and neither did Bregðask. He hoped that Svein could see in his eyes that Gardar’s unhelpful statement was the exact opposite of what Bregðask wanted to say. Svein’s eyes grew harder in response.
The nerve of you, Bregðask thought. As if I would ever think that way about you after everything that’s happened. After everything, you’ve done and let happen to me. Who do you think you are?
With a sigh, Gardar turned to Bregðask and carried on, “Svein wants to tell you that he’ll be thinking of you the whole time so study hard, don’t make any trouble for Bjørn, and he’ll do his best to be back for you sooner rather than later. He loves you.”
“I’m doing this for your own good,” Svein said, and Bregðask grit his teeth, “One day, you’ll understand that.”
Finally, Bregðask had had enough. If he would get no answers besides this, he needed just this one, “Why?”
Svein’s eyes narrowed, “We’ve been through this, Bregðask–”
“No, why lie to me?”
“You have no intention of coming back for me,” Bregðask said, “And though you’ve lied to me plenty of times before, it was always towards an end. There’s no end here, so why lie to me?”
Gardar’s eyes widened, and Svein remained silent.
“You packed up everything I owned and hustled me off the shores of the only place I’ve ever lived to somewhere completely different without warning under the guise of protecting me. You didn’t let me say goodbye to anyone and tried to hurry me through the one goodbye I got to have. I imagine that you’ll tell the rest of Calder that lie you fed Ivan, that I’m studying abroad, but I think I should know: protecting me from what?”
“Bregðask, there are things that a hilmir never shares with his tribe.”
“Don’t,” Bregðask sneered, “Don’t start with that hilmir and tribe schtick. I’m your son, but you’ve never bothered to protect me before.”
“That’s a lie! I–”
“When have you ever protected me? Ever?” Bregðask scoffed, his voice cold and even, “How much conscious time have I lost because someone punched me too hard? How many times was that person Snotlout, your nephew? How many times did I return to the house bruised and battered for reasons that were never explained to me? How many times have I had to hear that my mother was a demon loving witch and I was better off dead?”
Svein’s eyes widened, “What did you just say?”
Bregðask scoffed, “Don’t act like you didn’t know what people say about this woman whom I’ve never met, and you won’t tell me about other than to consider her dead!”
Svein swallowed, “Bregðask, you don’t understand it all right now. Just believe that I’m–”
“Doing this to protect me from what?”
He sighed, “It’s of no importance what, just that I am.”
“That sounds like a convenient excuse to exile me without shame,” Bregðask said. “Let me guess, you’ve already got your wife and a real, full Viking son on the way?”
“Bregðask,” he began, “You have no idea what you’re saying. I love your mother.”
That rang true for some reason, but that didn’t answer the other issues.
“Then, why isn’t she here?”
“That was her decision,” Svein hissed.
“Ulfarr and the rest of the goðar were her decision?” Bregðask scoffed, “Odin, do you hear yourself?”
“I don’t have to explain myself to you. I am your father–”
“Tell me something more than I’m trying to protect you from something far less tangible than Sigfrøðr,” Bregðask said, “Tell me something more than consider her dead when I know she isn’t! At least try to make me believe you’re doing this for anything more than your ego.”
Gardar flinched, and Svein whirled on him, “Have you spoken to her?”
Got him, Bregðask thought seeing the spark of terror in his eyes. What is that you don’t want me to know?
He smirked, “Wouldn’t you like to know?”
His eyes narrowed, “What did she say to you?”
“More than you ever have.”
He grit his teeth and glared at the ground, “Hilda.”
“Don’t blame Aunt Hilda for your mess.”
“You will cease contact with her.”
“Over my dead body.”
“Bregðask, so help me–”
“You can’t stop me,” Bregðask said, “You couldn’t stop me before, not now, and certainly not when I turn twenty.”
Svein paled and then his cheeks reddened, “You are not to leave Bjørn for any reason, do you understand?”
Bregðask’s eyes narrowed at Svein’s stern expression. He recognized it from every time Bregðask was absolutely right about Svein being a liar and had won the argument. As usual, Svein had nothing more than brute force to counter with. It was an expression that Bregðask knew almost as well as disappointment and disregard. The expression morphed into something like horror before shifting abruptly into determination.
He’s known, Bregðask thought, He just didn’t know how long she’s been sending me things… Maybe she’s come to Calder before….
He thought back to the strange moments over the years when things would appear in his room, or he would feel someone watching him as he ran through the forest.
The feeling of the waves carrying him to shore in that pain and half-dead haze after he’d jumped from Viking’s Cliff.
She’d been there… he thought, She’s always been there. Why not take me with her?
There was a memory of fire and ash filling his sight, but it broke as Svein hissed at him, “Get whatever is in your head out, right now.”
“She’s alive, and I’m going to find her.”
Svein grit his teeth, “Let me make it clear–”
“No, let me make it clear,” Bregðask said, “I have put up with a lot from you. I’ve written your speeches, suffered your training, your silence, your inaction, your scorn and disappointment for years without so much as a thank you, without complaint.”
Svein flinched staring down at his son.
“As far as I am concerned, this conversation can end like every other conversation we don’t have about anything that matters, but mark me when I say I will find her. If she doesn’t come for me first.”
“She left you on Calder, does that mean nothing to you?”
“You and I both know that isn’t the truth,” he said, “I don’t know what the truth is quite yet, but I know you have more of a part to play than this helpless victim you’re trying to make yourself out to be.”
“What is it you’re expecting me to say?” Svein asked, “I’m sorry?”
“I would never have that high of an expectation of you.”
Svein’s gasp did something to Bregðask’s insides that he would dare call pleasurable.
You fucking deserve it.