Sunlight sent dancing beams across the turquoise water as Rognvald was concentrated on fishing. He smiled to himself, thinking about how much his wife would appreciate if he managed to take home a haddock big enough to satisfy her craving and feed the twins.
Rognvald imagined her standing on tiptoe to kiss him, throwing her arms around his neck as the kids would grimace and complain in fake disgust, secretly eager for their turn to be attacked by their father's tickles and kisses.
After a few hours, his basket was filled and Rognvald wanted nothing more than to go back home. Back to his two troublemakers boys, to his loving Y/N and her swollen belly he loved caressing and talking to.
“Fađir?” Rognvald turned to the source of the excited squeals. The identical boys were running and competing to see who would be the first to reach their father. Rognvald picked them both, throwing them over his shoulders. They would be five year-old when the Spring arrived. The gesture made his heart ache for a moment, thinking about how his father used to play with him and his brothers. But that was in the past.
“Mođir is calling you. Earl Egil is waiting for you.” He couldn't say which of the boys was talking for they were quite fond of playing pranks on Rognvald and his wife. The thought of Y/N going into labor earlier quickened his heartbeat. The twins were so small when Rognvald first held them. He feared the unborn child would face a premature birth too. To prevent the risk, he took over the majority of the work. Rognvald would wake up earlier than his wife, prepare the dagmal and proceed with the exhausting daily chores of the farm.
His mouth was dry and cold sweat ran down his spine as he walked holding his sons’ hands.
What does the Earl want from me? I want nothing to do with Earls, Kings and Queens anymore.
As they approached the farm, he glanced at something that made his heart skip a beat. Rognvald thought he would never see the bloody chariot again.
If he did something against her, I won't hesitate to bath in his blood.
He stopped in his tracks to instruct his children, “I'll enter alone!” He squatted before the boys that looked back at him with wide eyes. Rognvald pulled the twins into a tight embrace. The gesture made his eyes burn with unshed tears. Rognvald was certain it would be the last time he would hold what he had of most value in the world. He thought he would be able to protect their innocence a little more, but his past was alive and reached him. Rognvald didn't know what would be worse – his sons running for their lives, with a monster tracking them down or entering the house and witnessing the carnage he had only himself to blame for.
“Go to your grandfather and stay there until Mođir or I arrive to take you two back home.” Rognvald leaned forward, kissing their foreheads and gulping not to cry and scare the kids.
“But Fađir...” Sigurd pouted and Rognvald interrupted him abruptly, making the children jump with his sudden and unusual harshness.
“OBEY ME!” He shouted and looked around, terrified that his outburst might have alerted his enemy.
“But we want to see the King. We have never seen a King, Fađir.” Ragnar tried to convince him and if Rognvald were not terrified, he would laugh at the cruel joke from the Gods to make his son so interested in being acquainted to royalty as his namesake.
“Not today!” Rognvald smiled at them, “I love you both!” He wrapped his arms around them, wanting nothing more than to provide protection, but aware that they wouldn't have a chance if he didn't let go of the boys quickly. Rognvald breathed in the scent coming from their hair and pulled out, “Go now!”
He watched the boys running as fast as their little legs could take them, turning to the house when the children left his sight.
Rognvald solemnly strode to the entrance, pushing the door open with a loud crack and peering into the darkness.
“Hello, Ubbe! Do you have any idea for how long I've been searching for you?" The man thought he would never listen to that characteristic honeyed mockery again. Y/N was sitting flanked by Earl Egil and Ivar. His brother was smirking, and it took a monumental effort on Ubbe's part not to charge against his brother to protect her. Ivar shouldn't be here. He should have accepted that Ubbe didn't want to follow him. Ivar should have embraced the idea that they followed different paths.
“Ubbe?” She muttered, glancing warily between Ivar and her husband.
“You didn't tell her… Brother.” Ivar tilted his head, licking his lower lip.
Y/N gasped, holding her belly. Ubbe ran to her side, afraid her time had came. He knelt at her feet, trying to hold her hand, but was surprised by her reaction as she flinched away from his touch.
“What do you want, Ivar?” Ubbe shouted, causing Ivar to burst into laughter. He watched as his youngest brother threw his head back, hands over his stomach as if Ivar found the discomfort he caused amusing.
“You can't run from what you are forever.” Ubbe felt his stomach twisting as Ivar glared at him. He was not whatever Ivar thought or wanted him to be. He was Y/N’s husband, Sigurd and Ragnar’s father. An ordinary farmer and he wanted to be nothing more.
Ubbe heard voices and glanced at the entrance, the sun peeking inside through the opened door as Sigurd and Ragnar entered, followed by some of Ivar's warriors.
“Leave my family alone, Ivar!” Ubbe hissed through gritted teeth and Ivar chuckled.
“They are my family too and it's about time you stop playing the happy farmer as you deny my nephews the right to know about their lineage and enjoy the prerogatives.”