The bed was getting old. It wasn’t just the straw-stuffed mattress, or the shaggy furs. The wood creaked every time I turned around in my sleep. It had taken moons to get used to that. At least I had a beautiful woman lying next to me.
“What are you thinking of?” I turned to Lagertha. She had this loving stare in her eyes that could tease my deepest, darkest secrets out of me.
“I’m just wondering what you expect to happen after we take over. You’ll kill that bitch, but what then? Do you really mean to rule?”
“Kattegat is not that bad a place to rule over. It’s closer to England for one, don’t you want to raid there?”
“We have raided there last summer. I just don’t see the need to leave Hedeby behind. We’re fine here. We have each other, we have the love of the people… If we’d just get the bed fixed I can’t imagine me ever being happier.”
“You’ll grow to love it, as I have.”
“There’s nothing but trouble waiting there. If you kill their mother, her brats will want to have revenge.” Lagertha let out a soft chuckle, then kissed my shoulder. Her hair fell down on my skin, tickling as Lagertha’s mouth moved to my ear.
“You’ve seen them. They’re weak, and unable to lead. My son will help us consolidate power, he’ll still be next in line. Torvi will make a fine queen after me, and you won’t have to worry about a thing.”
“You know just as well as I what Ragnar is planning on doing. He’ll never return from England. Will Bjorn really be content to have to wait for you to die, as well?”
“He loves me, as does Torvi. They’ll support us. It’ll be us against a few snotty brats who have been looking up to their brother since he chose to live there.” I turned to my side, moving my hand through her hair.
“And is he not loyal to them, as well? He’ll resent you for putting him in between all of it.” Lagertha leaned up on her elbow.
“How is it you think to know my son so well? You had sex with him once, I am the one who birthed him.” It had been more than once, but now was not the time to bring that up. She’d choke me with one of the shabby pillows.
“It’s what I would do.” I sighed as I turned to my other side. “I just want you to be prepared. It won’t go over without a hitch, not now Bjorn is off to a place no one knows exists.”
“People said Ragnar wouldn’t return to me. Bjorn is his son more than he is mine in that regard, and I know he will make it back.”
“If you say so…”
“I just did. Now do you have other doubts you want to throw in my face, or are we done?”
“Forget I said anything.” She wrapped an arm around my waist. “You know I’ll support you, why are you fighting me? Didn’t you teach me to think for myself? Did you not tell me to ask questions when I have them?” Her lips found the nape of my neck.
“It’s been a while since someone doubted my plans.”
“If that’s your way of apologizing, you’re terrible at it.”
“Forgive me. I must admit I do fear what trouble we might stir up. It won’t be easy.”
“Well, we already have Ubbe and Sigurd captured. If you’re really worried about them, just kill them. The gods know it’ll ease our sorrows.” Lagertha rolled to her back. I had to contain a groan as I turned around to her. The bed creaked as I did. She put an arm underneath my head.
“The gods have no doubt decided on what will happen. I think it’s a mistake to kill them before they prove to be a nuisance. From what that girl told me, they have the hearts of the people. Having them killed might put the town against me before I even take over.” That did not bode well for us. If the people were easily swayed against Lagertha, the sons of Aslaug might just succeed in getting their revenge. Bjorn didn’t know it yet, but our plan was very much dependent on him keeping the peace.
Ever since Ragnar had disappeared he had tried to aid Aslaug in ruling, but he was more occupied with his own plans to sail off to a different world. If anything were to happen to him, Lagertha’s position would be tenuous at best.
“We can always come back here if it turns out to be a mistake. We’ll be happy here again, as we are now.”
“I’d be happier in Kattegat. But less so if you’re not there with me.”
“Then you’ll let me fight?”
“I imagine you’ll hate me if I tie you up like Ubbe and Sigurd.”
“In that case, all you have to do is promise me that the bed we share in Kattegat will be better than this one.”
“What’s with your obsession over the bed, anyway? Does it not hold fold memories?”
“Plenty. You taught he how to love in this thing, but now it’s time for a change.” Lagertha took in a deep breath.
“That it is. Do you think you’ll be happy there?”
“I just need you for that. I can’t wait to call you my queen.” As she turned her head I kissed her. I kept it short, then got up.
“Where are you going?” She was hoping for more than just a kiss, I could tell from her hungry stare. But I was hungry for something else. I wanted to get going and show her just how well she had taught me.
“It’s almost time for breakfast. We do have a kingdom to conquer, if you mean to become my queen.”