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The Act of Taking

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He wasn’t accustomed to having long extravagant conversations with women. Small talk was agonizing to get past and any acts of wooing where painfully embarrassing. Halfdan was a warrior through and through, what he wanted he took, and for the longest time he thought of taking you.

Floki halted his small wood carving when he noticed Halfdan’s dead straight stare, unwavering on its target like a beast ready to attack. Looking over his shoulder he found you pulling up your freshly clean dress to the knee to wipe off mud that splattered on and under the last one.

“Careful where your eyes set Halfdan…” they looked to one another, “That one gets more done when she is happy, and I rarely find women happy after men force themselves on them.”  

Halfdan scoffed, tearing meat between in teeth in frustration. “Yeah? I am sure you spend lots of time making that one and only slave of yours very happy.”

Going back to his wood carving, Floki smirked but didn’t care enough to deny it. “It might have something to do with Helga’s fury if she is treated as anything less than a friend… we’ve been speaking with Queen Aslaug to make her a free woman.”

Halfdan stiffened the way Floki knew he would.

“Are you daft? You have any idea how many-” Halfdan was cut off by you coming up behind Floki with one of his smaller tools.

“You are lucky I found this, stomped a few more times into the dirt and it would have been gone.” Floki thanked you and when you came back up to face Halfdan, he couldn’t tell if the nod and sharp edge in your smile was in being coy or just being a nice. That was the worst part about romancing, the assumptions and doubt. The frustrating amount of guesses when he could just take and end. When you left he leaned back to Floki angrily, “As a free woman, without the respect of your wish men will be hounding for her affection.”

Floki looked off in mock thought, exaggerating shock in the obvious conclusion. “Yes, I suppose you are right! Oh what will happen to her Halfdan, all alone in this world surrounded by cheaters and liars-”

“You are an asshole.”

Floki snickered, infecting Halfdan when they both glanced over to you re-braiding Helga’s hair as you two talked casually on the beach. As if you could feel it, you turned and glanced back at them, smiling wider to see Halfdan watching you. Slowly he dipped his head down and looked to his food.

Floki shook his head. “Is it really so hard to ask a woman practically throwing herself at you?”

“Is that what smiles are now?” he scoffed.

“She is a slave, you are the beloved brother of a King, her hesitance I understand. Yours? I do not.”

Not a day, not a single day had gone by since your freedom and men were already surrounding you to offer their eager congratulations. You humored everyone who came to speak with you in the great hall, no matter how annoying they made their presence.

Halfdan watched from the back, feeling safe but lonely at the distance. A hard shove came out of nowhere greeted by his brothers hearty laughter. “Have you been a gentlemen and congratulated her yet?”

“I’m…waiting for people to clear out.”

“You wait that long you’ll be greeting her in the morning out of someone else’s bed.” Halfdan snapped a glare at Harald who raised his brow behind his drink, goading Halfdan to deny it.

Grinding his teeth he shifted watching you utterly bombarded by people. “It is not the right time.”

“It is never the right time for you brother.” 

Halfdan huffed, annoyed with being shoved into this when he tended to screw it up so easily. 

“Here, let me get you a head start.” Harald pushed himself up, Halfdan following every step with only his eyes, feeling more and more on edge. His brother moved through the others with ease, smiling and charming you into taking his arm, pulling you out from the formed crowd and leading you outside. Harald nodded for him to follow, Halfdan keeping a distance.

As he reached the door he nearly ran into his cheeky brother, “Try not to screw it up hm? Me and Floki will be watching and laughing if you do.”

Trying not to growl, as soon as his brother side stepped out of his view, there you were, standing against a beam and enjoying the given moment of peace. Glancing back at Harald and Floki joining a healthy distance, Halfdan was sure you wanted to be alone, but they both teasingly motioned him to go forward.

He hadn’t meant to be so quiet, just so used to stepping lightly when confronted with an unsuspecting quarry. He thought to make his presence known, but then thought better of it, instead resting a few paces behind against the wall.

The small creak in the wood caught your ear and you half glanced back, standing at full attention with a blooming smile to see Halfdan. He smiled back and you gave a bow of acknowledgement.

“You don’t have to do that.” He near whispered. 

You smirked, taking a few steps toward him, “I suppose it is only a politeness now. Still, no need for me to become so unhumbled by my freedom, no matter how many suffocate me with sudden interest…”

Halfdan quietly chuckled, “Welcome to freedom.”

“Yes.” You shyly smiled, realizing that may of sound ungrateful. “It is just so funny the commodity I have become on a few words, I hardly know what is appropriate anymore or…scandalous…”

You looked up from under your lashes, Halfdan shifting uncomfortably. It was always something you got a kick out of, making him tense with a simple look. It was a power you didn’t care to notice until someone so royal and famous for their battle prowess suddenly grew weak in the knees over someone so insignificant as you. It was charming, how quiet he was, making your curiosity peak and now having the freedom to pursue it.

Halfdan glanced to the great hall doors down from him, not thinking of running away of course but to just try again at another time. He just didn’t know what to do now, what to say to lead you to where he wanted. Hell he couldn’t think straight enough to know where it was he even wanted to go. But there his brother and Floki stood further down, cackling at him and trapping him with his own anxieties.

You caught his hesitance to stay, taking a step back wondering if what Floki had told you was just a joke on his part and you were reading too much into things, hoping too much, maybe he was so distant for an entirely unforeseen reason. 

“It was a pleasure talking with you.” Halfdan jumped his gaze to you, shocked by your abrupt departing words. When he didn’t respond you decided maybe it was too soon, maybe he needed time to grasp you were in fact a free woman now. Running fingers along your collar you tried not to sigh too loudly. “See you inside then?”

To your disappointment he only nodded, you giving a slight bow as you started walking away.

Catching Floki and King Harald curiously groan between themselves you failed to notice the sound of a fast approach. A strong hand gripped your arm and spun you back around, crashing lips against yours. As soon as you realized who it was you melted into his chest, feeling his other hand run up behind your neck, holding you in the kiss you eagerly deepened.

Your hands wandered lazily as the energy dwindled in many smaller kisses, some longer than others as you two couldn’t seem to separate. In one last peck he pulled back and dipped his gaze away. “Sorry, probably should have asked first.”

“That’s alright.” You bit your lip, leaning back into him, “I rather like the way you take me.”