I felt thoroughly ashamed. Sleep on it, I kept telling myself, but waking up the next morning did not make me feel any better or see the blue sky. One thing was sure – he had just saved me from the biggest mistake of my life and for that I had to admit he was pretty descant man.
Magnus took me up the next morning, too. He was curious about the scars I talked about the night before. It seemed Hagen had been thoroughly enraged and had no wish to speak with anyone. So he searched me out and took his time questioning me, including yesterday’s events.
“Ask Dalek.” I offered dryly, having no wish to deepen my feeling of shame.
“I will do no such thing!” He jumped up from the chair; it fell over, taking the next chair with it.
I felt my heart stop – I had never seen him so angry before.
“What did you do?” he roared, nothing left from the gentle brother I had dreamt of for so long.
“We only talked!”
“What did you talk about?” he demanded, towering over me, eyes glazing fiercely.
“He… I … He wanted to know, why I’m against marring him. I told him the same story.”
“You are not lying to me now, are you?”
I shook my head. Why did he think I would lie to him? He’s my brother! What an outrageous thought!
As soon as he let me I ran from there, leaving him with the barrel of mead. I couldn’t calm down fast enough to return to my work, so I headed to the forest instead, saying I was going to gather some fresh herbs for the dinner. I couldn’t just sit around in the same room with Magnus and do the housework anyway.
I couldn’t be away long, mother would have worried, because I now had a dress to think about and dinner, too. My main concern were the gods at the moment. I wished to go and tell them what I thought of their bad plan of marring me off to the Dane. I had no wish for forgiveness and I promised myself I will take my life if they were making my life any worse and then I’d be closer to them enough to cause them some trouble. That is, I made a promise of a promise, but never got around saying the words out loud.
“Here you are,” I saw Dale before me as I kneeled down in the middle of the oak circle. “I thought I saw you come here.”
“Go away!” I ignored him and closed my eyes, raising my hands for pray. He didn’t move, but staid not far from me. That was too close for my liking – I could still sense him there. “Aren’t there laws that say you can’t strike in other people praying?”
He wouldn’t move for a while, then like waking he gabbed: “What, you came here to thank them?”
“No.” I frowned. “I came here to give them my mind on the latest events.”
“You mean you came here to curse them.” He took a step closer.
I let my hands impatiently back on the sides and opened my eyes. “Yes, I came to curse them.”
“Good I came then – I don’t need a wife that has been cursed by the gods.”
I fell down on my bottom. “Isn’t it slightly late for that?” It sounded funny to me, but it had no amusing effect on him.
I wanted him to go, leave me alone and leave.
“Why?” He asked seriously and sat against be on the green moss. “Because you have to marry me?” He didn’t give me time to response and continued fast, getting aggravated by every word. “I understand that to you, spoiled girls only kings will do, but I…”
Oh this was getting so old! “No!” I half shouted and pouted. “Stop insulting me!”
“And what did you do last night?”
Fair – I honestly believed I had deserved that. I stared at him, making my angriest face, but failed miserably seeing how he started fidget on his place as if he’d have to catch me on the next moment. Did he think I’d run away? I immediately let my stiff figure loosen up showing him I wasn’t going anywhere.
“Why do you have to be so confusing?” I sighed. “I didn’t say I don’t wish to marry you – I promised to gods I will marry the man brother chooses to me. I just didn’t think they’d choose me a man on the same day nor that you are a Dane, which on my lips has the image of a dvergar (=baaad dwarf).”
“You hoped he’d be someone you knew?”
I smiled thinking back on what had really rushed through my head. “I thought they’d given up altogether.”
He smiled on that too and I swear I fell for the man right there. Those grey eyes sparkled nicely, making him shine like the Moon.
“I thought you were an old man…” I confessed honestly, openly staring him.
“Am I not then?”
“No.” My eyes traveled over his slightly wrinkled face. “But you are brown.”
“The sun on the sea makes us darker.”
I set myself in better position.
He shrugged. “I don’t know – it’s always been that way. She loves making us darker. But I’ve seen men much darker than us.”
“That’s not possible!”
“No, no it’s true – they look as dark as night and they have all curled up hair as sheep do.”
I burst laughing, trying to imagine someone like that, but it seemed like a tale some old man would tell to children. “Sun had to burn them in bonfire to get them look like then!”
He enjoyed my amusement for some time, before coming back for the reason he was searching for me in the first place. “I thought about your plea last night.”
I clenched my teeth together and took a deep breath. “I…”
“I will grant you your wish.”
I launched my eyes up on him. Was he serious? I hadn’t even thought it through! I only said it because I couldn’t remember anything else!
“You have two weeks. Before the ceremony I will ask you personally once more. If you then refuse, I’ll let you go.”
I sat there frozen, not believing what he said. When I finally realized, he was gone. Perhaps not ready to hear my answer. I wished he’d had, when it suddenly occurred to me that after two weeks, he might not wish to marry me anymore!