Since you could remember, Ubbe had been in your life. You had the fortune of being close to Queen Aslaug. Your mother was her friend. When your mother passed, Aslaug was all the mother you ever needed. Out of all the brothers, Ubbe was the one that you found yourself dear to. It was both a blessing and a curse as you came to find out when you reared out of your teenage years and into being a young adult. He was the first thought on your mind when warm sun hit your face and the last wish as your eyes succumbed to dreams.
“(Y/N)?” Aslaug called out to you from your place beside Ivar. Ubbe was absent again. More and more, he spent his time dallying out there rather than with his family. It was that slave girl, it had to be her pulling her away from where he rightfully belonged.
“Yes, mother?” You answer flatly as you look away from the cold entrance. Her warm eyes are both inviting and concerning. You know from that moment that she won’t let this slide.
“You aren’t eating.” She motions to your food which was still full to the rim. Even looking at it sent a pang of revulsion deep inside your belly.
“I… have much on my mind.” You say as you lightly bat the food over to Hvitserk.
“Is it about marriage? My poor, sweet child.” The queen trills. Beside you Ivar sips the rim of his cup with a half-smile turning up on his smug lips. Oh, he knew why you hadn’t married! You playfully shove at Ivar’s shoulder when he releases a knowing chuckle.
“(Y/N) cannot marry mother.” Ivar laughs openly as he brings a bite of meat to his lips. Aslaug looks to her favored son with a brief realization flooding her over. She knew why but she wanted you to tell her. Your breath quivers, glancing to her pale face more than her prodding eyes. The silence among the two of you continues for some time before you give a defeated sigh.
“Ubbe would be heart broken.” You blurt out following a sharp bite to your raw lower lip.
“Ubbe will not marry you, but I have many sons, like Ivar.” Aslaug says. Your eyes avert to Ivar’s strong jawline before drifting up to his eyes that flicker up from your curves to hold your uneasy gaze. It was different with Ivar. He was like your brother. It couldn’t be him. There was Hvitserk or Sigurd as well. And Bjorn. But something told you it was not Bjorn she craved you to marry just as it couldn’t be Sigurd for Ivar.
“Ivar? How could I… He is younger than me.” You cup her soft hand now on your cheek. Her hand falls away with a forced smile. Eyes sharp with rage, he looks to his mother as if loathing her for such a humiliating proposal.
“Did you hear? She couldn’t imagine being with a cripple.” Ivar sneers. The table resounds the impact of his fist as he pulls himself to the side. You know you have hurt his feelings at the way you reacted. You could have flown off your chair as quickly as you knelt before him.
“No! No, it’s not your legs Ivar… I just, I haven’t… You’re my brother. I struggle with the idea of us falling together like that. Forgive me,” You say as Ivar sinks back down into his chair carefully.
“I don’t need your pity, (Y/N). Or anyone elses.” Ivar looks around the table. He is like a bee seeking someone to strike. Your hand squeezes his to redirect his attention back to you alone.
“Stop it. That isn’t the case and you know it.” You respond. Whether you would be his in marriage or not, you needed to make sure that he understood that you respected him first and foremost.
“Your bond would make an even better foundation to build upon. You’ll make a beautiful Queen for Ivar. The seer says you will have many sons, (Y/N).” Aslaug interjects while resting her opposing hand on his. Finally, his shoulders lose his tense quality, glancing to his mother. Its as if through blind faith in the seer, he regains confidence in the proposition.
“I can be more than a brother (Y/N).” Ivar leans into you, melding his lips over yours in a warm kiss. Your lips were shyer and unresponsive, so he deepened the kiss with his hand behind your neck. It should have been no surprise that he commanded your complete attention here too. His moist tongue glided past your teeth along your tongue. He plunders your mouth, unknowingly stealing your first kiss. When you finally pull away, your hand sets on his chest desperate for air. Your heart raced with Aslaug here to watch.
“May I think on this?” You shudder anxiously against his lips. He is so close you can smell the sweat from training and the waving scent of grass from the fields. Ivar nods with your lips against his and you excuse yourself from the table to find your room. Aslaug was crafty. If she wanted you to marry one of her sons, it would be so. Your fingers run across your lips. He could be more, he was right. It was a first kiss, you tell yourself. It had to be that it was the first kiss that you shared with him. For the first time in what seemed like years, it wasn’t Ubbe on your mind when your eyes finally shut.
The next time you saw Ubbe was early the next morning. He sat on the edge of your fur covered bed. The sudden pressure of his body shifting to sit shook you awake. You lurched forward, holding the furs over your small night dress. The shift of the sunlight on your face frightened you; it must have been late.
“Is something on your mind?” He says in a decadent deep voice.
“Ubbe, why didn’t you wake me up!?” You shrilly squeal.
He chuckles as you lurch off the bed and lurch to find your clothes for training today. Ivar would have fun picking at you now, given how late you were to wake. Your nightgown was quickly peeled off and while you were face away from him, you could feel it. It was the hot sting of his eyes on the curve of your ass. You knew he must have been looking. He claimed you were his sister. So why were his eyes eating your naked body up?
“For what, sister? You were sleeping so beautifully, like Freya.” He asks. Those words were fire to your nether regions. A familiar excitement, like the one from last night, came over you.
“Even so, I…” You stop with your fingers at the edges of your dress. You begin to pull the dress over your body when his firm hands grip your thighs. You turn to face him. He pats his thigh for you to sit like he is not only your brother, but a brilliant throne to sit upon. You take your throne atop of Ubbe and wind your arms around his neck, savoring his broad shoulders and the arms that now cage you in along your waist.
“What is it? I’ve known you enough to know when you look concerned.”
Ubbe flexes his shoulder to bob your head up. Its now or never, but you would have much rather preferred it to be never. You wish you could spend your life wrapped in his strong arms away from talk of his beautiful slave.
“Mother thinks I should marry. She suggested Ivar.” You explain in a few breathy huffs. His face hardens, and he struggles to soften it when you look up to him. It only worsens the blow to the concept of marrying Ivar. If Ubbe didn’t want you to, you feared that you couldn’t. It would only be your wish that he would concede to the marriage if he couldn’t be yours. When he finally composes himself, his words fall flat on his lips.
“And what did you say?” He asks even mindedly. You think, perhaps he thought it would be like all the other moments where you said no.
“I said… I would think of marrying him. He needs a wife. I should speak it over with him today.” You look away to avoid such talk about marriage. Ubbe’s arms move to hold you against him like a beautiful bird in his cage.
“Is that what you want?” Ubbe shudders the words.
“No… maybe, I don’t know Ubbe! We just kissed. How am I supposed to feel?” You sigh, looking up into his brilliant eyes. He scowled at you as you told him. His eyebrows knit tightly together.
“Then you have been with him.” Ubbe holds your hand through his wall of questions. At that moment, you realized what it was. He was fine before because you weren’t interested in anyone else. Now that you might have someone the change must have upset him. If it was your brother and his brother, would it make much a difference?
“I’m sorry Ubbe.” You look away. Ubbe’s eyelids shut to steady his breathing. Its as if he weighs his options.
“Marry him.” Ubbe’s words barely reach above a whisper. His voice is a whisper, but he sounds confident in the decision. It was the affirmation you needed but at the same time, the one you never wanted. Your eyes water at the corners as you meet his solemn ones. Ubbe brushes your hair behind your back.
“If I marry him, I won’t have time for you. I have to take care of him and this household and I want to be a good wife but-“ Ubbe shushes you with his fingers to your lips, effectively shutting down any successive thoughts that came with the notion of marrying someone else.
“Not me. I have Magrethe.” He cuts you off. Her name stings like the bite of a snake. Your heart falls into your stomach. You don’t want to hear her name, nor do you really want to be around her. You want to be in a world where all you need to do is think of Ubbe and the life you could have with him. Now everything changed, nearly upside down.
“Then you don’t love me anymore?” You suggest, pulling back from his map. Ubbe breathes in heavily, clearly hurt by the suggestion that things could change so black or white. That wasn’t the case. He knew this life would not only be better for Ivar and for you, it would be better for his family.
“I will always love you, (Y/N). Don’t ever doubt that.” Ubbe says, tapping your lips. With one last tap, he slides you down against the bed and walks through the door.