The horns blew, signaling incoming ships and Ubbe made his way down to the harbor with his brother Hvitserk, studying the horizon. Ships with large red sails sailed in on the calm water and he sheltered his eyes from the sun to peer closer at them.
"I do not recognize those ships, do you brother?" he asked Hvitserk who stood beside him.
"They are my family's," a voice came and Ubbe looked, his eyes focused on Harald.
"Your family? What family? I thought it was just you and your brother," he said, and Harald nodded, arms folded across his chest.
"It is but my family is larger than that, those are the sails of my uncle," he said and Ubbe looked back to the ships.
"Uncle? Do you mean King Olaf of Borre?" Ubbe asked.
"The same, I have sent for him to aid us in our battle," he said. Olaf was known to be a keen warrior and Ubbe was happy to have another in their retinue, but he worried the gathering of Harald's family.
The ships came ashore and Ubbe waited impatiently as they docked, wanting to see Olaf. At last, a tall man with blonde hair rose from his seat on the ship, ax at his side and his blue eyes fastened on Harald. He reached down, and it was then Ubbe's eyes focused on a woman. Her long brown hair sat in waves upon her shoulders, her skin was smooth and pale. Her long eyelashes framed large, blue eyes and they were directly gazing at Ubbe. The man helped her from the ship and made his way to Harald. The two hugged jovially, slapping each other loudly on the back and stepped back from each other.
"Nephew, I assume you remember my daughter Pordis?" Olaf asked and Ubbe looked now to the woman, he had assumed her to be Olaf's wife at first.
"Pordis! It has been a long time since last I saw you, you have grown into a beauty!" he exclaimed, and the girl smiled, demurely lowering her eyes.
"Cousin, you do me great kindness with your words," she said in a low but delicate tone, Harald smiled at her.
"Olaf, this is Ubbe Ragnarsson," Harald introduced and then looked to Hvitserk. "And Hvitserk Ragnarsson," he said, and both nodded at Olaf.
"I am glad to have you on our side, Olaf," Ubbe said, putting his hand out and Olaf grasped his wrist.
"I am happy to fight on the side of Ragnar Lothbrok’s sons," he said and then released his wrist. "We are tired from our journey; may we not eat in your legendary halls?" Olaf asked and Ubbe nodded.
"Of course, forgive my manners," he said and stepped back, smiling at Harald as he passed. Pordis raised her blue eyes to Ubbe as she passed and stared at him until she had caught up with the others.
"A new challenge for us, brother?" Hvitserk asked and Ubbe smiled at him, slapping his chest.
"Perhaps she will be a challenge for you brother but not me," he said and made his way up to the Great Hall, Hvitserk laughing as he followed.
Pordis sat at her father's side, swirling her water in her cup bored and her eyes roamed the hall. She watched the sons of Ragnar as they interacted with each other and the participants of the feast. She recognized Ubbe was the most well liked, the ease he had in interacting and speaking with others. Hvitserk sat back with a relaxed stance, cup in hand and joking with those around him. It was Ivar she took the most time to study, he sat sullen in his seat, hunched over the table and turning his cup around in circles, his eyes studying his brothers. It was almost like jealousy but there was still a sense of respect in Ivar's gaze for his brothers.
"What is it you look at so intently, my daughter?" Olaf asked, leaning down to Pordis who did not remove her gaze but lifted her cup to her lips. The rain pounded on the roof above them and it sent a chill through the Great Hall.
"The sons of Ragnar, their legend is well told but they do not seem to be that of which it spoke," she said.
"No? They are lacking for you?" he asked, and she smiled.
"Not lacking but they are more human than I thought, I expected to be seated in a replica of Odin's hall," she said, and Olaf laughed.
"I think you will be disappointed then, my girl," he said, and she smiled.
"I think I will agree with you," she said and leaned into the table, looking at her cousin Harald. "Tell me cousin, are the sons of Ragnar as legendary as they are told to be?" she asked, and Harald smiled at her, his blue eyes roaming to the brothers.
"They carry the name of their father well," he said.
"And which would you say is the fiercest of them?" she asked, and Harald paused for a moment, stroking his beard.
"It would be his youngest son, Ivar," he said and Pordis looked to Ivar now, realizing suddenly his eyes were on her. They had been on her and she held his gaze. There was something wild about him, something unkempt and intense that challenged her.
"What of Ubbe?" she asked. "Is he not as legendary as his brother?" she asked, and Harald's eyes turned to the eldest of Aslaug.
"He is a fine warrior, but he is nothing compared with Ivar, he does not hold the same ambitions," he said and Pordis glanced at her cousin, it had been made obvious Harald allied himself with Ivar. "Why do you ask? Have you come seeking a husband?" he asked, and she looked to him, then laughed as she sat back in her seat.
"I will find no worthy husband here, cousin, these are the sons of Ragnar and their infidelities are as well-known as their battle skills," she said and drank from her cup, shaking her head. "No, my husband shall not wander from my bed and will be the greatest of warriors," she said, and Harald smiled. Cockiness apparently seemed to be a family trait.
Ivar peered through the slats of the barn, watching as Ubbe made love to Margarethe and watched as she moaned at his touches, his kisses. He felt growth between his legs but he pressed his hand against his hardened member. Margarethe's breasts were exposed, and Ivar couldn't help but stare at them, the plumpness of them. He desperately wanted to touch himself, to stroke his cock as he had so many times before watching this scene, but he also enjoyed the torture of denying himself.
"What is so good that the son of Ragnar crouches against the earth with his eye pressed against the wooden wall of a barn?" a voice came, and Ivar was quick to turn, his hand pulled from his crotch. Pordis' porcelain face came into view and a smirk on her lips made him realize he was not the only aware of his hard on. She moved closer, crouching down and put her eye to the barn, Ivar stared at her. Up close she was prettier than from across the hall, her eyes were a piercing blue and her skin was so smooth, Ivar wanted to reach out to stroke it. "Ooh," she said, a smile on her face and looked back at Ivar. "You dirty boy," she said and stood, Ivar stared up at her. "I should rat you out," she said, crossing her arms and he shrugged.
"I do not care," he said, and she raised a perfectly arched eyebrow.
"No? So, I can't use this for sexual black mail?" she asked, and Ivar felt his throat tighten but his cock harden. She smiled and crouched before him, reaching out to stroke his cheek. "Sweet crippled Ivar, how easy you are," she said and pressed her plush lips against his, Ivar gazed at her wantonly as she pulled away. She laughed and stood, walking away from him. Ivar stared after her, touching himself and then pressed his eye against the slat, watching the scene progress.
There were whispers in the Great Hall in the dead of night while all others were asleep, and it brought Pordis from her sleep. She rose from her bed, wrapping her cloak around her shoulders and slowly opened her door, peering out. Unable to see, she moved further into the hall and sat behind the decorative wall, observing the pair at the table. She quickly recognized Hvitserk Ragnarsson and Margarethe burrowed in his arms. She looped her fingers in the wooden lattice and watched as he doted on her lovingly. The kisses became needier. Soon Hvitserk had her laid back on a bench and his lips as well as his fingers roamed her body. She smiled and returned to her room, closing the door. Perhaps Ivar was hidden somewhere within the shadows as well, watching and touching himself. She smiled, she was surprised at how simple the sons of Ragnar were.
Harald had asked her to ride with him from Kattegat, to catch up on the years where they were close, and she happily did so, enjoying riding. She inhaled the sharp, cold air and looked around the beautiful scenery.
"It has been a long while, cousin, since we last saw each other," he said, and she looked back to him, smiling.
"It has, you have grown into a fine warrior, I hear," she said, eyeing his muscular arms and Harald smiled.
"I can hold my own," he said, and she smiled.
"More than you own from what I hear and Halfdan, where is he?" she asked.
"Ah, my brother, he is wandering the Mediterranean with Bjorn, the other son of Ragnar," he said and Pordis was quick to notice the darkness that passed over his face. There was clearly bad blood in their brotherhood.
"Did you ever marry your princess?" she asked, raising her eyebrows and again, darkness scattered across his face.
"I did not, she was in love with another and Halfdan killed her," he said and Pordis smiled.
"How the Hálfdanarson brothers have lived," she said, and Harald smiled.
"And what of you Pordis? What have you been doing since you clearly have not married," he said, and she shrugged.
"I have been living in the shadow of my father's reign, enjoying the fruits of his labor," she said, and Harald smiled.
"Clearly, I feel you are more beautiful than our grandmother," he said and Pordis laughed, shaking her head. Asa, their grandmother, was a renowned beauty and she had been told she resembled her, something Pordis used to her reward.
"That is kind of you to say, cousin," she said, and he smiled at her. They rode for a few minutes in silence, pondering the scenery and their thoughts.
"I did not call your father here for simply alliance," he said, and she looked at him.
"No?" she asked, and he shook his head, shifting in his saddle.
"No, I am in need of a wife and since I have not found one so easily, I thought perhaps I should seek one I know is from good blood," he said, and she stared at him.
"Cousin, are you asking me to marry you?" she asked, and Harald glanced at her before quickly looking away.
"You make it sound so crazy," he said, and she laughed.
"It is not crazy, you are a man of power and I am a woman of strong bloodlines," she said, and Harald looked to her.
"So, is that an agreement from you?" he asked, and she smiled at him. She moved her horse closer and Harald glanced down as her leg brushed against his.
"My sweet cousin, while your thirst for power excites me and you are a fine warrior as well as handsome, I fear my heart does not love you in that way," she said. Pordis leaned in and pressed her lips against his. "But you will find your Queen, Harald and she will be beautiful," she said, and Harald studied her for a moment before she pushed her horse into a trot. "Now show me more of this land!" she called back, and Harald couldn't help but smile, pushing his horse into a faster gait.
Pordis studied the apple in her hand, admiring the shininess of it when she felt a presence of her. She looked up, squinting in the bright sunlight and recognized Bjorn’s towering figure.
“Bjorn Ironsides, what do I owe the honor?” She asked as she put the apple back down and continued exploring th market.
“I have seen you skulking around Kattegat and I want to know what you are doing with my brothers?” He asked and she smiled, studying another object.
“I don’t know what you mean,” she said and Bjorn scoffed.
“I see how you tease Ivar, your eyes hardly leave Ubbe and I am sure it wil only be a matter of time before you seek Hvitserk’s attention,” he said.
“I think, Bjorn Ironsides, that you are jealous,” Pordis studied the apple in her hand, admiring the shininess of it when she felt a presence of her. She looked up, squinting in the bright sunlight and recognized Bjorn’s towering figure.
“Bjorn Ironsides, what do I owe the honor?” She asked as she put the apple back down and continued exploring the market.
“I have seen you skulking around Kattegat and I want to know what you are doing with my brothers?” He asked and she smiled, studying another object.
“I don’t know what you mean,” she said and Bjorn scoffed.
“I see how you tease Ivar, your eyes hardly leave Ubbe and I am sure it will only be a matter of time before you seek Hvitserk’s attention,” he said.
“I think, Bjorn Ironsides, that you are jealous that I have not paid attention to you,” she said and glanced up at him, he narrowed his eyes.
“I do not care if you pay attention to me, Pordis, I do not want to see you injure my brothers,” he said and followed her through the village.
“How can I injure your brothers? They are grown men,” she said and Bjorn widened his gait to keep up with her.
“Women are more able to injure men than men are to injure women,” he said and then paused, looking to where she had led him.She had led him outside the village and into the woods, he glanced back at her.
“Is that what you believe, Bjorn?” She asked, stepping closer to him and Bjorn inhaled her scent of lavender. Her sharp blue eyes studied him, she ran a hand down his bicep and he stared at her, willing himself not to respond. She smiled and stood on her tiptoes, kissing his cheek. “You have been jaded by far too many women, poor Bjorn,” she said and crouched down, picking a flower. She stood and brought it to her nose, inhaling. “Not all women are conniving and manipulative,” she said and held his gaze.
“I find that hard to believe,” he replied and glanced around again, slightly nervous.
“Are you afraid of me, Bjorn?” She asked, stepping closer and he stared down his nose at her.
“No,” he said and she smiled.
“Then kiss me,” she said and he stared at her.
“What?” He asked and she smiled, shrugging.
“If you do not fear me, then kiss me,” she said and he shook his head.
“I am with Torvi,” he said and she laughed.
“When men go on raids they rape and pillage, why is this any different?” She asked and Bjorn gazed down at her. She moved closer to him and leaned against his chest, rising to press her lips against his. He leaned down and held her lips against his before quickly parting. She smiled at him. “See? It is not different,” she said and turned away from him, walking into the forest smelling her flower. Bjorn stared after her, confused and disturbed by how easily she had swayed him.
Ivar was always her target. She didn’t know why but there was something about the cripple that drew her in, made her desire him. His legs may not work but his mind, his mind was sharp. There was an intelligent cruelty to him and she wanted to taste it. She wondered if he was able to please a woman but she was willing to put in the effort to find out. She hunted him, made him her prey and wasn’t disappointed. He liked to slink off by himself often, get away from the watchful eye of his brother Ubbe and escape the judgment of the villagers. He would disappear up the hill to a hut and become a hermit.
She climbed the hill, touching the green and wet earth to get steady. She reached the top and made her way to the door, knocking on it. She paused, waiting and looked around the beautiful landscape of Kattegat. The door opened and Ivar’s steel eyes stared at her from the floor. He was the only man she knew that could crawl but still hold his own.
“Hello Ivar the Boneless,” she said with a smile and Ivar gazed up at her, she crouched down. “I’ve heard you have a habit of hunting for game, not just food,” she said and he smiled but it was a passing smile.
“What else have you heard, Pordis? Your hearing seems to be sharper than that of Odin himself,” he said and moved back into the home, she followed him shutting the door.
“I have also heard that you like to maim slaves,” she said and he shrugged, pulling himself into his seat.
“Perhaps but it is only because they deserve it,” he said and she smiled. “Why are you here, Pordis? You have the options of all my brothers, why would you choose the cripple?” He asked and she studied him for a moment, deducing his weakness. She quietly slid herself into his lap, wrapping an arm around his neck and kissed him gently. Pulling away, she saw the desperation, the need and the surprise in his eyes.
“I have heard great things of the sons of Ragnar but the one son’s name that falls with fear from the people’s lips is Ivar,” she said and stroked his face, he stared at her. “Ivar the Boneless or Ivar the Fierce they call you, to be a cripple yet be so feared, it makes a woman desire you,” she said and leaned in towards the end, whispering the words into his ear. She sucked on his earlobe and heard his breath hitch. “So tell me Ivar, who is your Queen?” She whispered and pulled back, he stared at her.
“There is no Queen, I am not king yet,” he said and she smiled, leaning down capturing his lips again.
“Well there is always time to change that,” she said and bit his lip, he groaned into her mouth. The kisses became deeper and she felt the wetness between her thighs. “Fuck me, Ivar,” she whispered into his ear and he growled, grabbing roughly at her.
Pordis left the house the next morning with a slight limp and the understanding that Ivar could very well please a woman.
Ivar thought he escaped Ubbe when he disappeared into Ragnar’s old hideaway but even there Ubbe kept his eyes on him. His brother was not someone to let out of your sight, he was someone who could easily bring great havoc to Kattegat if he was allowed on his own. He had watched Pordis as she climbed the hill, knocking on the door and watched as she had an exchange with Ivar, disappearing within. He waited, hours went by but still he waited. At last the door opened and Pordis emerged, limping ever so slightly. Ubbe took a bite of his apple, nodding to himself and turned, walking back into the village. It was clear to him now her intentions in Kattegat.
There was a gathering in the hall to celebrate Olaf’s agreement with Harald and the sons of Ragnar, he would raid alongside them. Pordis sat at her father’s left hand, watching the festivities and keeping her cup full. Her eyes grazed over the crowd, peering over her cup as she drank. The grand oak doors opened and Ivar entered with Ubbe behind him. It was not long before the princes’ eyes were on Pordis and she studied them. Ivar had told Ubbe, no surprise there. She let her eyes roam to the others until she felt a presence and turned, her eyes meeting Ubbe’s blue ones.
“Hello Prince Ubbe,” she greeted and he hooked a finger beneath his belt, tipping his chin up.
“I know why it is that you are here,” he said, sliding in beside her on the bench and she raised her eyebrows, staring at him.
“Oh? I thought it was obvious as I came with my father,” she said, waving in his direction but Ubbe shook his head.
“No, you did not come along as the caring daughter of Olaf, you have heard of Ragnar Lothbrok’s sons and wish to have part of their legend for yourself,” he said and she studied him.
“Are you calling me a whore, Ubbe Ragnarsson?” She asked and he gave her a crooked smile.
“It does not matter what I call you, you have already shown yourself,” he said and she stared at him as he rose from his seat, leaving her. Ubbe. He was the one she realized now that would never bend to her charm but instead made her want to work to bend to his. He was trouble for her.
Desperate. Something Pordis had never been and she wasn't now but Ubbe conflicted her. While she normally was the predator, now she felt she was the prey and she felt him circling her but played with her mercilessly. She strayed from Ivar, she didn't want to inflict Ubbe's judgement again and she seethed from that. When she was home, it was the men that bowed to her and the men that she was able to control. Even Bjorn Ironsides had bent to her will. But Ubbe, he was of a different breed.
She sat at Ivar's side, she could not avoid him forever and thought dining with him was innocent enough. He had become like all others who she laid with had, a puppy at her ankles, nipping at her for a bit of her attention. Her eyes moved to the doors as it opened, Ubbe entered with his fur lined cloak and his braid down his back, his blue eyes quickly found her. He studied her place beside Ivar, but his attention was taken by his wife, Margarethe.
"You stare at my brother as though you desire him," Ivar said, his tone dangerously jealous and Pordis looked to him. She smiled, aware of how to control him and kissed his lips.
"Of course not, my prince," she said, and he smiled, satisfied by her response. He looked back to the conversation and Pordis was free to eye Ubbe again. He was embracing Margarethe lovingly and she questioned their relationship, wondered how brothers shared one woman without jealousy. Her eyes moved to Hvitserk who sat at the table and was chugging his mead, slamming it down on the table. He rose from his seat and went to Margarethe, embracing her as well. "What a lucky woman to be loved by two of the Ragnarsson brothers," she said and looked to Ivar, his eyes were on the threesome.
"She is a whore, nothing impressive about that," he muttered and Pordis gazed at him, cocking her head.
"Do I sense jealously from Ivar the Boneless?" she asked, stroking the back of his neck and Ivar's eyes narrowed.
"No, I have had her, and she is nothing to brag of," he said and returned to their conversation, Pordis smiled. She drew circles on the back of Ivar's neck as her eyes moved back to where Margarethe stood now, Ubbe's arm wrapped around her waist and Hvitserk standing beside them.
"She must have something, if she attracts both," she said, and Ivar quickly yanked her chin, so her eyes were on his.
"You are a Princess, act like it, whatever she may have, you have more of," he said and forced his lips on hers, she closed her eyes after a few moments. She was surprised with the forcefulness of his kiss, but she could not deny she enjoyed it, coupled with his words. "And when I am done with Kattegat, I will offer you the crown and you will accept it," he breathed in her ear and she felt him pull back, but her eyes remained closed for a moment. She opened them, and they stared at each other.
"Ivar Ragnarsson, you are a surprise," she said and kissed him again, he held her there.
"Do you not worry of Ivar's alliance with Princess Pordis?" Margarethe asked Ubbe and Ubbe shrugged.
"She will lose interest in him, she is only seeking our father's legend," he said.
"Then would she not become pregnant with his child?" Margarethe asked and Ubbe looked to her.
"Why would you think that?" he asked, and she shrugged.
"It is what I would do, to assure the great Ragnar's legend was mixed with my own blood," she said and Ubbe looked to Pordis again, sat now in Ivar's lap.
"I do not think she is willing to give up her independent life to be the wife of Ivar, there is far too much submission for that," he said, and Margarethe shrugged.
"The thirst for power will do wild things to a woman," she said and moved off, Ubbe stared at Pordis. She leaned down, embracing Ivar and parting, she glanced over her shoulder at Ubbe. He swore he saw a smirk on her face, a confirmation of what Margarethe had said but he shook his head, it must've been the drink.
Pordis had slipped out of Ivar’s controlling gaze at last, slunk down to the stables and found a horse of her pleasing. As she dressed him with bridle and saddle, she heard the familiar thunk of Ivar’s cane as he moved into the stable.
“Where are you going, princess?” He asked. There was no curiosity in his voice but only jealousy, suspicion. She looked at him, silently eyeing him and then turned back to her horse, kissing his muzzle.
“I am going for a ride,” she said and stroked the horse’s wide neck, he nudged her with his big head. She moved to his side and pulled herself up into the saddle and arranged herself, looking down upon Ivar. “I’d ask you to join but I do not think you will be able to keep up,” she said.
“Then you underestimate me,” he said and she smiled, shrugging.
“I suppose we will never know,” she replied and pushed her horse into a walk, sauntering by Ivar. She knew he would follow her, in fact she welcomed him following her and she was soon greeted by the sounds of wheels over earth, he had mounted his chariot in record time.
“Do you wish to race then?” He asked, pulling up beside her and she eyed the beast of a ride.
“If you think that clunky old thing can keep up,” she said and looked back to the road, weaving carefully through the village.
“Clunky?” he said, nearly choking on his words but they had reached the walls and Pordis was off. She leaned close to her horse’s mane, smiling as the wind whipped her hair behind her and she could feel the freedom of speed again. She heard Ivar snapping his reins on his poor horse’s back but he would never be able to keep up with her, she was the fastest rider in her father’s lands.
“Come along Ivar! I thought you said you could keep up?” she asked, turning her body back and seeing his glower, snapping his reins once again. Pordis only slowed when they came to a crystal clear river, churning and rushing over rocks. She dismounted, letting her horse graze and turned back, smiling as Ivar finally rolled up to her. “I should have put a wager on that,” she said and Ivar growled, throwing his reins down.
“You got a head start,” he muttered, leaving the chariot and she laughed.
“If it makes you feel better,” she said and crouched down, dipping her fingers into the lake. “This water is so clear,” she said.
“Do you not have rivers where you come from?” he asked and she shrugged.
“We have a lake but the river rises too high into the mountain, I have never been able to reach it,” she said.
“Afraid of heights?” he taunted and she smiled.
“No, my father will not allow me,” she said. “As his only daughter and only child, he keeps me close to him,” she said and Ivar studied her.
“I can understand how that feels,” he said, remembering his mother’s constant need to have him close to her skirts and keeping a watchful eye on him. She nodded and continued to let the water run through her fingers. “You are a good rider,” he said at last and she rose from her crouched position, raising her eyebrows.
“What is this? Ivar giving me a compliment?” she asked, moving towards him where he was leaned against his cane and wrapped her arms around his neck.
“Please, it is one, do not let it go to your head little princess,” he said and she smiled at him. She leaned and kissed his lips softly.
“Ivar, I think you fear letting anyone seeing how soft you are inside,” she said and Ivar scowled.
“Do not fool yourself,” he said and she laughed again, shaking her head.
“Sweet Ivar,” she murmured before kissing him again and he looked to her, she kissed him again. “I know there’s a kind heart in there, you just need the right amount of heat to thaw the heart,” she said and kissed him again, trailing down his neck. Pulling back, she saw a smile break on his lips and she smiled with him. “There, see? It does not pain you to smile,” she said and Ivar rolled his eyes.
"She took the weakest link and attached herself to it," Ubbe said, throwing the bread to his plate and looking to Hvitserk who was still chewing his food. Swallowing, Hvitserk shook his head and put the chicken back down.
"Perhaps she does love him though, why is that out of the range of possibility?" he asked and Ubbe laughed.
"That type of woman does not fall in love with a man like Ivar," he said and Hvitserk raised his eyebrows.
"And who does she fall in love with, brother, you?" he asked and Ubbe smiled at him, leaning his head against the chair.
"Perhaps," he said and Hvitserk rolled his eyes, taking up his cup. Drinking, he pointed to Ubbe.
"You are jealous, brother," he said.
"I am not jealous, I am worried she will bring only bad things to us," he said.
"What are we talking about?" Harald said, patting Ubbe on the shoulder as he sat beside him and both brothers exchanged looks, Harald looked between them. "Let me guess, Pordis?" he asked, drinking from his cup and Hvitserk looked at him, stunned.
"How did you know? Were you listening?" he asked and Harald smiled, shaking his head.
"No, when Pordis is in town, that is usually the only conversation spoken," He said, leaning into the table and clasping his hands.
"She is beautiful," Ubbe said and Harald smiled, nodding.
"Yes but she is more cunning then beautiful," he said.
"I've noticed, she seems to have swayed Ivar to smile," Ubbe said and Harald laughed.
"If all else fails her, she will win her way with her words," he said. "I fear my uncle has done her no good by sheltering her for so long, she is like a wild beast that has been let out of its cage," He said.
"I just hope she does care for my brother," Ubbe said and Harald looked away, watching the activity. "What do you know, old man?" he asked and Harald looked back at him.
"Pordis is well known for her cunning tongue and even more so for her ability to distract by other means," he said and Ubbe raised his eyebrows.
"So you agree she is using her body to control Ivar?" he asked and Harald shrugged.
"I cannot say, I have not known her that closely during our lives but I have heard stories from other men, she is very convincing," he said and Ubbe looked to Hvitserk pointedly.
"So I should intervene," he said and Harald laughed.
"You think intervening with your brother will help? He will only get angry with you and side with Pordis," he said and Ubbe nodded, it was clear Harald was correct. He knew Ivar and knew any time anyone told him not to do something, he would do that exactly. "Leave Pordis to me, I will speak with her," he said, finishing his drink and rising from the table, the brothers watched after him.
"I do not trust him either, " Ubbe said and Hvitserk shook his head.
"He is the one who called for Olaf, he probably asked him to bring Pordis as well, he's always wanted Kattegat," Hvitserk said and Ubbe looked at him, an expression of surprise on his face. HIs brother was usually not adept at seeing these things.
Pordis sat watching Ubbe, she had been watching him for at least twenty minutes now and had no mind to stop. She was trying to figure him out, he was a quiet man that took in much and she wondered what he had said to her cousin. Harald had cornered her one afternoon in the market, telling her that she was spreading herself thin and that she would quickly lose her welcome in Kattegat if she continued. She played but dumb but knew well enough what he meant, she knew Ubbe had kept watch on her.
“You can watch my brother all you like but don’t think he’s not watching you back,” Ivar’s voice came in her ear and she glanced over her shoulder, the man sat beside her.
“I am not watching you brother,” she said and Ivar smiled.
“All the women watch my brother,” he said, looking to Ubbe and Pordis’ eyes followed.
“He is a handsome man,” she said and Ivar shrugged.
“He’s too full of himself,” he said and Pordis smiled, looking to him.
“Oh Ivar, do not worry, you are as handsome if not more than Ubbe,” she said, rubbing his shoulder and Ivar quickly scowled.
“I was not looking for your sympathy,” he said, shrugging her hand off and Pordis smiled.
“Ubbe knows far more than I thought,” she said and Ivar laughed.
“Only about unimportant things,” he said and Pordis looked to him. “He busies himself with the going one of the village but who cares about that? I care about the greater scale, the world and how to conquer it,” he said and Pordis smiled at him.
“And that is why you are my favorite,” she said, stroking his cheek and Ivar gazed at her, it was clear her touch was calming him. She leaned in and kissed his forehead. “But I do not like to be watched and not know for what means,” she said and looked back to Ubbe.
“He does not like you talking to me, he does not trust that you have the right intentions,” he said and she looked back at him again, her eyebrows raised.
“And you? What do you believe?” She asked and Ivar shrugged.
“I do not care one way or the other,” he said and Pordis smiled. “I have received what I wanted, anything else is on your conscious,” he said and rose, apple in hand. Pordis watched him and then looked back to Ubbe whose own eyes were on her. They held each other’s gaze for a moment before she broke contact and followed Ivar from the Great Hall.
Pordis had left her father's house, the one that had been given to them by the brothers when they arrived in Kattegat and was making her way to the Great Hall when a hand grabbed her arm. It pulled her into a side alley and quickly another was over her mouth, her blue eyes stared into Ubbe's. He pressed his body against hers, the heat from him warmed her quickly and she could not help the arousal that she felt, Ubbe was handsome.
"I have tried to leave you be, tried to leave my brother be and Hvitserk thinks you may actually love Ivar, but I do not see it that way," he said and lowered his hand.
"How do you see it, Prince?" she asked and Ubbe continued to hold her against the wall.
"I see a spoiled princess who is used to getting what she wants and manipulating whoever she wants," he said and Pordis smiled.
"Then you see me as I am," she said.
"And you are fine with this? You are fine with being seen like this?" he asked and Pordis shrugged.
"It is who I am, why would I not be fine with this?" she asked.
"What do you have planned for my brother?" he asked and Pordis laughed.
"You did not think cornering me in the alley and holding me against a wall would scare me, did you Ubbe?" she asked. "You did not think I would just spill my secrets to you, did you?" she asked and then laughed again seeing Ubbe's expression. "You did! Oh, sweet Ubbe, you are far fuller of yourself than Ivar thinks," she said.
"Leave Ivar alone," he demanded and Pordis smiled at him.
"My bed is a lonely place and I am cold at night, I need someone to fill it," she said and Ubbe studied her, silent. "I do not care who it is but if it is not Ivar, then who?" she asked.
"I am sure there are other men in the village that will be happy to please you," he said, and she laughed.
"Other men? The other men are all beneath me! There are no other men, Ubbe," she said.
"Who then?" he asked, and she moved forward, pressing her lips against his.
"Why not you?" she asked and Ubbe stared at her before angrily throwing her aside.
"I am married," he said, and he heard her laugh from behind him.
"Marriage has never stopped a Ragnarsson nor their father before, why now? Were you not born out of an affair?" she asked, and he turned on her.
"My father married my mother and she was made Queen of Kattegat," he stated and Pordis rolled her eyes.
"Perhaps but she still laid with the great Ragnar when she was not married to him," she said.
"And what you are doing is any different?" he asked.
"I am not stupid enough to become with child," she said and Ubbe's anger was quicker than his self-control, the back of his hand left a mark on her porcelain cheek.
"You did not know my mother and will not speak of her like that!" he shouted, Pordis held her cheek for a moment surprised but quickly the same sly smile filled her plush lips.
"I see her for who she was, how else should I speak of her?" she asked and Ubbe scowled.
"You are a guest in these lands, Pordis and you will remember that, or you will be on the next boat back to Agder, “he said and Pordis smiled.
"At least there I am guaranteed a true man in my bed," she said.
"You do not stop, do you? You love to push and push until someone becomes angered with you," he said.
"I find angry sex to be the best sex," she said and Ubbe narrowed his eyes.
"Well you will find your bed to be lonely again tonight, if I find that you tended to Ivar, I will be sure that you will not make that mistake again," he said and quickly walked off, a difficult task with the hardness between his legs. But he would not let her see that.
Ubbe watched her move through the Great Hall, she sat beside Ivar and he felt his grip tighten on his cup. He watched as Ivar's shoulders relaxed when she put her hand on his arm and brought his cup to his lip, taking a sip. She leaned in and whispered something in his ear, Ivar smiled.
"Excuse me," Ubbe said, rising from the conversation he had not been paying attention to between Margarethe and Hvitserk. He walked over to Ivar's table and sat across from them, Pordis' eyes fell on him. He could tell she wasn't pleased to see him but she bit her tongue.
"What do we owe this pleasure to, brother?" Ivar asked icily.
"I cannot sit with my own brother?" Ubbe asked and Ivar scoffed.
"You don't usually," He said as Ubbe raised his glass to be refilled by the passing slave and took a drink from it again.
"I thought I would come and have a conversation with our guest," he said, motioning to Pordis.
"I think we have spoken enough," Pordis said and Ubbe raised his eyebrows.
"Oh? I do not think so," he said and Pordis narrowed her eyes. "In fact, I think we have had too little conversation," he said, leaning into the table and Pordis leaned back, shaking her head.
"I am going to see if my father needs me," she said, rising from the table and leaving the brothers seated.
"Why?" Ivar asked, looking to Ubbe and Ubbe smiled.
"Because I know what is best for you and that is not," he said, pointing to Pordis with her skirts sashaying around her.
"You know nothing, brother," Ivar muttered and Ubbe smiled rising, leaning over to pat Ivar on his head.
"Sweet little brother," he said and left to return to his table.
Pordis watched Ubbe that night, watched as he drank jovially with his brothers and watched as he got drunker, clumsier. At last, he rose from his seat, stumbling slightly and patted Hvitserk on the back, saying something. Hvitserk smiled, raising his glass and Ubbe maneuvered his way from the Great Hall. Pordis finished her water and quickly rose, following him out. She stayed behind, made sure he didn't hear her footsteps and watched as he reached his front door, fumbling with the door handle. He pushed inside, leaving the door ajar and Pordis arranged herself in front of the opening, watching Ubbe. She watched as he removed his shirt, studied his tattoos and scars. Watched as he fell into his bed, empty of Margarthe who was still back at the Great Hall and when she heard his snoring, pushed inside. She quietly slipped across the floor, pulling her knife from her waistband and slid it against his bare neck.
"What are you doing, Pordis," he said, surprising her but she recollected herself.
"I am ending my problem," she said and he laughed.
"I am not your problem," he said. "Your problem is that you think too much of yourself," he said.
"Then we have the same problem," she said, leaning down and whispering it into his ear.
"Perhaps," he said and rolled over quickly, managing to evade the blade. She stared into his blue eyes and he smiled. "Perhaps you should not waste your time on Ivar then," he said and reached up, grabbing onto her hair. He pulled her lips forcefully down upon his and she could feel his heat radiated against her. His kiss was sloppy but passionate, she felt excitement at his touch. She slowly climbed over him, removing the knife and he grabbed it from her, throwing it across the bed.
"I thought I was banned from sharing the son of Ragnar's beds?" she asked and Ubbe smiled.
"Only Ivar's," he said.
"Oh, so you wanted me for yourself? Are you not married? Did you not tell me this?" she asked and Ubbe smiled, reaching up to push hair from her face.
"I am drunk, there is not much that matters to me when I am drunk," he said and pulled her down to his lips again, she embraced him.
Morning came, she remained in his bed and he rose slowly, his head pounding from the drink. He glanced over at her as he grabbed his shirt and smiled. She was a beauty and she knew her way around a man's body, he understood now why Ivar felt so passionately about her. He moved outside and winced in the bright sunlight. Now to find Ivar and tell him of her betrayal, perhaps it would break the boy's attachment to her.
Ubbe winced as Margarethe sewed his arm, Ivar's blade had been quick and true to his aim, he had not taken kindly to Ubbe sleeping with Pordis. He seethed with anger when Ubbe announced it and instead of being angry at her, he was angry at his brother. He saw it as a betrayal act from him, that he was tricking Pordis into sharing Ubbe's bed and that it was all on Ubbe.
"Gods," Ubbe hissed as Maragarethe continued.
"I am sorry but perhaps you should avoid Ivar's blade next time, husband," she said and glanced up at him. "Why did he attack you?" she asked and Ubbe lowered his eyes, he did not want to tell her.
"It was over something stupid," he said and Margarethe left it at that, used to the brothers getting into petty squabbles. She continued on and at last, stood up.
"I am done," she said and Ubbe glanced down, admiring her handy work. He stood, kissing her forehead and retreating from their home. He glanced to the Great Hall and saw Ivar leaned against his crutch, his blue eyes on Ubbe. Ubbe quickly maneuvered his way out of Ivar's sight and down to the docks, checking on Floki's handiwork with the ships.
"Did your tattle on me not go as planned?" a voice came and Ubbe sighed, he knew that voice. He turned and saw Pordis leaning against one of the ships, a cocky smile on her lips.
"Why do you seem so pleased?" he asked, moving closer to her and she shrugged.
"Perhaps because you thought you had the upper hand but in the end, it was I who the battle," she said, grinning like a fool.
"Ivar might have been upset at me now but the seed of doubt is in his brain, he will question you," he said and Pordis narrowed her eyes. "I just hope you are as a good a liar as you are a whore," he said and left, feeling her gaze burn into his back.
Pordis sat, watching Ivar speak and sighed, resting her chin in her hand. Ubbe had been right, Ivar had finally cornered her and questioned her about Ubbe. She had managed to thwart off the accusations but now Ivar would not stop seething, telling her what would happen if she did cross him.
"Ivar! Why are we spending all this time talking! Why don't we fuck!" she exclaimed, slamming her hand on the table and he looked to her, surprised by her outburst. "I want to fuck you, Ivar," she said rising from her seat and walking to him, leaning against the arms of his chair. She kissed his lips and parting, held his gaze. "Come with me," she said and he stared at her for a moment but nodded, she stepped back to let him rise. He followed her to her room and she shut the door, a smile on her face.
"Advantage? How can anyone take advantage of Ivar?" Bjorn asked, eyeing Ubbe confused and Ubbe sighed.
"She has put him under some sort of spell," he said, waving his hand angrily and Hvitserk smiled beside him.
"Yeah, the spell of her pussy," he said and Bjorn looked at him, the smile slowly fell off Hvitserk's face.
"What do you want me to do about it?" he asked, shrugging his shoulders and Ubbe leaned into the table.
"Threaten her," he said and Bjorn's eyebrows raised.
"Why can you not do that?" he asked and Ubbe sighed again, glancing around.
"I will never admit this again brother but you are more threatening than any of us," he said and Bjorn smiled.
"So she does not take you seriously, is what you are saying," Bjorn said, now leaning into the table as well and Ubbe shook his head.
"I did not say that," he replied and Bjorn smiled, it was clear what he meant.
"I will do what you ask but I will not always solve your problems, little brother," he said and Ubbe clenched his jaw.
Pordis glanced around her surroundings as she walked, she had come to distrust the shadows after Ubbe cornered her and when she had begun to relax, a hand grabbed her arm. She groaned as she was shoved against the wall but felt her heart rise to her throat when she saw Bjorn. He stood over her, looming and his eyes bore into hers. She had heard tales of Bjorn Ironside, fearful tears from both enemy and women alike. He was not a kind nor gentle lover, nevermind a lenient man.
"My brother tells me that you have taken advantage of my brother, Ivar," Bjorn said, hooking his thumbs in his belt and Pordis studied him.
"Ubbe?" she asked and Bjorn shrugged.
"Perhaps," he said and Pordis smiled, nodding.
"Ubbe," she stated. "I am doing nothing to Ivar that Ivar does not ask, trust me," she said and Bjorn cocked his head to the side, studying the woman. She stood many inches below him and looked easy to control, to throw around.
"Then why does Ubbe worry?" he asked.
"Because he is jealous, he does not like that I did not come to his bed first," she said and Bjorn smiled, clearly amused.
"That sounds like Ubbe," he said and Pordis smiled. "But that does not change the problem, you are the problem, you have an agenda and it is not an agenda that is good for myself or my brothers," He said and Pordis smiled at him, she'd attempt charm.
"No? I think it could be very good for you, Bjorn Ironsides," she said and moved closer to him, stroking his arm. She was surprised and aroused by how muscular his bicep was but had no time to admire, his hand was around her throat as he held her against the wall.
"Do not try your tricks on me, I am not one you can take advantage of," he said, anger in his eyes and Pordis relinquished to him. She lowered her eyes and only looked up when she felt Bjorn's calloused thumb run over her lips. He was staring at her strangely and she suddenly felt fear. Quickly, his lips were upon her and she was pressed against the wall, her nails dug into the wood behind her. He was swift, surprising and before she knew it, he was buried inside her. His fucking was rougher than Ivar's and Ubbe's. He wanted pleasure and only pleasure, there was nothing else he needed from their coupling. She dug her nails into his shoulders, protected by fabric but she knew there would be marks underneath, proof of his fucking. Their grunts and moans filled the dark alleyway but the village was empty, all were at the Great Hall dining. Bjorn finished, dropping her to the ground and redressed. "Leave Ivar alone, little one or I will have to see to it you do," he said, eyeing her once more and then disappeared from the alleyway, leaving her in a crumpled heap on the ground.
Pordis leaned against a beam in the great hall, watching the gathering of people and swirling her drink. She had avoided Ivar after Bjorn’s warning, it was not fear of him but desire instead. She had watched Bjorn’s relationship with Torvi and knew it was fractured, the only common ground were their children. Bjorn though seemed far more focused on conquest and expansion then who was in his bed.
“You have not been to my bed in days, Princess,” Ivar seethed into her ear and she froze, pausing.
“I thought a son of Ragnar would take no notice,” she said, remaining still and Ivar moved to her side.
“If you were a normal woman, perhaps not but you are a princess and sister of Harald Finehair,” he said and she smiled.
“So my title is what sets my place in your memory?” She asked, glancing down at him and he shrugged.
“Isn’t that how everyone is defined? Their place in life?” He asked and she shrugged.
“I suppose so,” she agreed. “What is wrong with your brother, Bjorn?” She asked and felt Ivar’s eyes on her briefly.
“You are the only woman that has come to Kattegat that has said there is something wrong with him,” he said and she smiled to herself.
“Well then I am the only woman that thinks clearly,” she said and Ivar nodded.
“Why do you think there is something wrong with him?” He asked.
“He seems far more focused on battle then the conquests of the bed, is he...” she trailed, knowing full well he was not but Ivar smiled, a beautiful smile.
“Perhaps,” he said and Pordis knew he took great pleasure in her words, that she did not talk Bjorn up as so many others did. “He is with Torvi but I do not think there is much love left in that relationship,” he said and Pordis nodded. “So when will you return to my bed?” he asked and Pordis looked down at him. She could not deny her desires for Ivar, his fucking was insatiable and he was focused more on her pleasure then his own.
“Tell me the youngest son of Ragnar has had no one else but me?” She asked and Ivar smiled, shaking his head.
“There is no other woman that has my desire,” he said. “Tonight I will expect you or I will find you,” he said, moving off and she stared at him. To some, those words would seem loving but to her, she knew Ivar’s meaning. He would hunt her like prey in the woods.
She waited for him, she knew he would find her and she enjoyed the thrill of her heart racing. She felt like a deer in the hunter’s path, knowing death was close behind but those few precious moments of life left, everything was crystal clear. The breath from her body, the blood rushing through her veins and the coldness of the air that surrounded her. She heard his footsteps against the frozen earth, the limp that was pronounced and then they stopped outside her door, he was listening. He was seeing what was awaiting for him before he entered and when he heard nothing, the door lurched open. His steel eyes searched the dimly lit room for her, she felt her breath pick up along with her heartbeat and then they landed on her, holding her in that moment.
“You found me,” she said and he stared at her still, caught off guard by her words.
“Found you? Were you waiting for me?” He asked, shutting the door behind him and stepping into he room.
“Perhaps, I wanted to see the talents of Ivar the Boneless and not just in the bedroom,” she said and there was something in Ivar’s eyes that came alight. “But now, I wish to witness the talents of the bedroom,” she said, bringing up the skirt of her underdress and he stared as her legs became visible. He moved closer with a swiftness that was unlike a cripple and she pulled him into her bed. She moved on top of him and held his face in both her hands, he stared at her amazed. “Show me what Ivar the Boneless can do,” she said and kissed him.
“I will show what I can do,” he breathed and she smiled, leaning down to kiss him again.
Ubbe saw the transformation quickly happen with his youngest brother, the adoration and obsession start filling Ivar’s mind. Ivar was an intense man, his emotions were quick and consumed him, they were no different in the matters of love. Ubbe wasn’t sure how Pordis had put him under a spell but it was obvious when it happened. The way he looked at her, the way he tended to her and the way his eyes would disengage any other from conversing with her. It made Ubbe uncomfortable, knowing he had been between her legs but his brother was the one that had managed to catch her, hold her heart.
“If I was a wiser man, I would think you were mad at Ivar,” Hvitserk said as he sat beside Ubbe and the man shook his head, drinking from his cup.
“For what?” He asked and Hvitserk smiled, looking to Ivar with Pordis seated in his lap.
“That,” he said and Ubbe shrugged.
“I think he is a fool but that’s all,” Ubbe replied and Hvitserk nodded but the annoying knowing smile remained on his lips. Ubbe watched as Pordis coddled Ivar, tickling the back of his neck and kissing his jaw, watched the way Ivar closed his eyes in pleasure. He remembered the feeling of those lips on skin and he was jealous.
“All I am saying brother is I would not worry, Ivar manages to push those he loves most away,” Hvitserk said and rose, leaving Ubbe to his thoughts.
"We are returning," Olaf told, sitting down at the table and his daughter looked up to him over her food.
"Returning? Home?" she asked and Olaf nodded. "But why? We have not formed an alliance with the sons of Ragnar," she said and Olaf smiled, looking down to his cup.
"I think you have done far more for the diplomacy between our families then I could ever do," he said and drank, Pordis stared at him. "I have heard of your conquests, daughter and I don't quite like them," he said, leaning into the table with a grip still on his cup.
"I don't know..." she started and Olaf laughed. He had a deep and hearty laugh.
"Don't know what I am talking about? I think the entire village knows what I am speaking of, how many sons of Ragnar have you slept with?" he asked and Pordis lowered her eyes. "By Odin, Pordis, I brought you here to find a husband, not to be a whore," he said and shook his head, finishing off his drink. He stood and sighed, looking down on his only daughter. "Your beauty is known far within the lands and I will not waste that on you becoming with a child before marriage, there is a fine dowry I can fetch for you," he said and moved off from the table.
"What do you mean you are leaving?" Ivar asked he watched as Pordis mended his shirt and she shook her head, it was clear this bothered her.
"I am leaving, my father has deemed it time to return home," she said.
"But he has not helped us as he promised," he said and she looked up at him.
"He does not care, he says I have done more for our diplomacy than he ever could," she said and quickly lowered her eyes again.
"So he returns because you have slept with me?" he asked and Pordis chewed on her lip, her eyes still lowered. "Is it because I am a cripple? Does your father think his beautiful daughter far above a cripple?" he asked, his tone become nasty and Pordis shook her head.
"It is not whom I have slept with but the number," she said and raised her eyes slowly, Ivar stared at her.
"I do not understand, who else have you slept with in Kattegat?" he asked and she stared at him, waiting. "Ubbe?" he asked, incredulously and looking disgusted. "You have slept with my brother in between sharing my bed?" he asked and Pordis lowered her eyes. "Gods! It is more than just Ubbe! Have you slept with all of us then?" he demanded, leaning back in his seat and Pordis was quick to shake her head.
"Not all of you," she said softly and Ivar scoffed.
"It might as well have been! Tell me now, Pordis, who else have you slept with?" he demanded, slamming his fist on the table and Pordis jumped, poking her finger with the needle. The blood pushed its way out and formed a tiny bubble on her finger, she stuck it in her mouth.
"What does it matter, Ivar? It will not make you less angry," she said, pulling her finger out and studying it.
"Bjorn? Hvitserk?" he demanded and then disgust passed over his expression again. "Sigurd?" he asked, lowering his voice and Pordis shook her head.
"I have never slept with Sigurd," she vowed and Ivar scoffed.
"As if it matters, I thought it was only my bed you shared but you were going behind my back and sharing my brothers' as well," he said and shook his head. "I am glad you are returning home, I can be rid of you," he said and Pordis stared at him. She had expected anger but it still pained her to hear it. She crumpled Ivar's shirt and placed it on the table, standing.
"I will not see you before I leave but I wish you only the greatest blessings from the Gods," she said and paused before leaving the chamber. The door slammed shut, echoing and Ivar stared at it. He could never hate her, he had let himself love her but gods he wished he could strangle the life out of her pretty little body.
Pordis boarded the ship with a heavy heart. She had come to conquer as only a woman could but she was returning a failure and so would be once again locked away to the life of a king's only daughter. As she sat on the ship, she watched her father bid farewell to the brothers and Harald. She watched as he paused at each brother, saying words of encouragement and then stopped at Harald for longer, the blood shared between them created a closer bond. He smiled, nodding and then turned to the ship. He sat beside his daughter and looked to her.
"Do not be so sullen, Pordis, with your beauty I am sure you will be married soon and I will do my best to make sure your reputation is not sullied but what you have done here," he said and Pordis remained silent. She gazed at the brothers, Bjorn with his arms cross, Ubbe as always had such a calm expression on his face though there were worlds of thoughts beneath that gaze and Ivar. He stared at her the hardest, he held the most anger and betrayal against her. There was nothing she could do now, no way to apologize but she wished she could. The ship was untied and pushed off from the dock, slowly but surely the brothers grew to be tiny specks on her horizon. Gone from her gaze. She had set their lives ablaze when she arrived but it had quickly fizzled out when they realized she had used them all.
The winter winds blew the ship into harbor, its sails billowing in the breeze and Ivar silently watched it. He knew those sails but didn't understand why they were returning.
"King Olaf is returning," Ubbe said, coming up beside his brother and Ivar nodded. "Do you think Pordis comes with him?" He asked and Ivar shrugged though he wondered the same thing.
Olaf's tall figure appeared on board as the brothers rose from their seats on the dock and reached down, pulling Pordis up beside him. Both brothers stared at her robust stomach. The reasons were now clear why the ships had returned merely months after leaving.
It was soon clear Pordis was not at all happy about the situation, neither was her father. He had returned to demand reparations for what had been done to his daughter, as he put it.
"Who's child does she carry?" Ivar asked, studying the burly bearded man and Olaf looked to him.
"What?" he asked and Ivar pointed to Pordis' stomach.
"Whose child does she carry?" he repeated. "You have already said the sons of Ragnar have defiled her but if it is more than one of us, how do you know who is responsible?" he asked and the fury was quickly made apparent by the reddening of Olaf's cheeks.
"It does not matter which of you! It was one of you and that is the important thing!" he shouted and Ivar smiled, shaking his head as he leaned back in his seat.
"I'm sorry but Pordis' promiscuity is well known and I can't be sure that the child she carries is mine or one of my brother's," he said and Olaf shouted in rage, slamming his fist again on the table. Pordis jumped and winced at the sound. The shouting match went on for some time until at last, Olaf was sated with the promise of talks in the morning and he sauntered off to dull his anger with mead. Pordis looked to Ivar after her father had left, she studied him silently and Ivar held her gaze, refusing to engage her. She rose at last and followed after her father, leaving without a word to any of the brothers.
It was morning before any of the brothers saw her again, she was as radiant if not more as the day they had first seen her. She had a glow now that seemed to seep from her skin and it had been discussed well into the night which brother was responsible for the child in her belly. Ubbe had said it could be any of them excluding Hvitserk and Sigurd of course. Even Bjorn had fessed up to having his way with her, surprising his younger brothers but making it all the more confusing.
Pordis ate tentatively, moving the food around the plate as she picked at it and Ubbe watched her from beside his wife. It irked him that she hadn't spoken to him nor any of the others, she arrived back in Kattegat and supposedly with one of their children. He quickly rose from his seat and sat himself beside her.
"Whose child is it?" he demanded and Pordis looked at him, surprised by his presence.
"What?" she asked, either baffled by the question or she didn't hear him.
"The child, whose is it?" he asked, pointing to her stomach and she sighed, resting a hand on it.
"I think it Ivar's, it was he I slept with the most," she said and Ubbe raised his eyebrows.
"So you think him more virile then myself or Bjorn?" he asked and Pordis studied him.
"It is not a matter of virility, Ubbe," she said and Ubbe shook his head.
"I knew you would do nothing but harm to our family," he said and Pordis sighed again.
"I am tired, weakened from the journey here and I did not even want to return but my father demanded it, said one of you would have to take responsibility for this child," she said. "I would have been happy to raise them on my own and never see this wretched land again," she said and Ubbe felt his irritation rise at her words of Kattegat.
"You did not seem to hate it so much when you were fucking us," he said and Pordis fell quiet. Ubbe paused in his words and thought, at last breaking the silence between them. "If it is my child, they will not leave Kattegat," he said.
"How am I to know if it is your child?" she asked and Ubbe realized that this was truly the last situation she had wanted to be in. She was young, too young even and had let her new found freedom lead her astray. In the end, he could not blame her actions, she had been kept under thumb her entire life and then brought to a new world, given free reign. Her father had known her past liaisons with men in his village but he had chosen to turn a blind eye to it, perhaps even planned for her to become with child by one of Ragnar's sons.
"Perhaps you won't, perhaps you will forever question yourself but if it has the blood of Ragnar than it stays in Kattegat," he said and she sighed.
"My life has been dominated and ruled over by men, there has been no moment where what I did was by my own decision," she said, her eyes staring into the sunlight that shone into the Great Hall. "And now this child only brings more of a prison for me," she said and looked to Ubbe.
"Perhaps but it was your own doing, it was you who chose to share the beds of Ragnar's sons," he said and she nodded.
"A creature of habit," she said with a shrug. "What if it is Ivar's?" she asked.
"So what?" Ubbe asked and Pordis shrugged.
"He does not seem the most loving and gentle of men," she said and Ubbe smiled, looking to his younger brother.
"No but I think to his own child he would not be the same way, I think it would soften him," he said and Pordis nodded.
"I hope," she murmured.
Olaf was leaving and without Pordis. She was stunned as were the brothers, they had expected him to stay and demand marriage. His ships were loaded and Pordis watched from the dock. At last her father came to her and stood in front, gazing down at her.
“You are leaving me,” she said at last and he nodded, his eyes studying his only daughter. “Why,” she demanded and Olaf sighed.
“You have shamed me for the last time, I do not have any use for you now,” he said and she stared up at him. It was clear the pain his words inflicted on her.
“Use for me? I am your daughter,” she said and he nodded.
“You carry my blood but you do not act like a daughter of Olaf Geirstad-Alf, ,” he said. “Your cousin is here, he will look after you but I must return to my kingdom,” he said.
“Will I see you again?” She asked and Olaf shrugged.
“Perhaps but not soon,” he said and she stared at him. “Good bye, daughter,” he said and kissed the top of her head before boarding his ship. Pordis glanced at her side as she felt a presence and saw Harald, whose own eyes were on the ships.
“Your father leaves you here,” he said and Pordis nodded.
“Yes, I have shamed him by becoming with child, without marriage,” she said and Harald nodded.
“You are worth more than he knows,” he said at last, looking down at his cousin and she smiled at him but it was clear the pain that she held. She turned and departed the dock, refusing to see her father off.
“He has left her, in our care and on our hands,” Ivar said and Bjorn looked to his younger brother.
“Yes, he has but that is not what we were discussing,” he said and Ivar shook his head, scowling. “She is carrying a child of a Ragnarsson, she is our responsibility,” he said and looked around the table at the gathered brothers.
“She did not share my bed,” Sigurd said and eyes turned to him. “I am innocent in this, I do not know why I must be included,” he said and Bjorn leaned into the table.
“She carries your nephew then and is that not enough?” He asked, Sigurd fell quiet. “It is between Ubbe, Ivar and myself, that is true but it should matter to all of us, our blood runs through that child,” he said.
“Are we so sure?” Ivar asked.
“Of what?” Ubbe asked and Ivar shrugged dismissively.
“Are we so sure it is ours? She left our shores, who is to say it is not another’s?” He asked and Ubbe stared at him, the thought had entered his mind a few times.
“If it is not, we will be made aware,” Bjorn said and Ivar’s eyebrows raised.
“And how so, brother?” He asked.
“A child of Ragnar’s blood will be made obvious,” Bjorn replied.
“I hope so or we will be raising another man’s child,” Ivar replied, leaning back in his seat and the table fell quiet. All lost in thought on this child of Pordis and what it meant for them.
Ivar watched Pordis as she listened to the stories being told in the Great Hall that night, the flicker of shadows from the fire played on her face but never diminished her beauty. He looked to her robust stomach, studying it for moments and thought of the child that grew within. If this was his child than Pordis had proven Sigurd and all others who doubted his manhood wrong. She should be elevated to a level of importance, he should marry her and make her his Queen when he finally took over Kattegat. But there would always be that seed of doubt in his mind.
Pordis laid in bed that night, the chill from the night air had left her as she laid beneath furs and she closed her eyes, attempting sleep. She had tried not to let her father’s desertion bother her but she could think of nothing else, it was unlikely she would see her home again. Kattegat had become hated by her for that fact alone and she knew she was being ostracized by the brothers. Ivar had stared at her since she had arrived, she had felt his eyes always on her but she knew that Ivar’s heart was cold, it was unlikely forgiveness would be received from him. She had just fallen asleep, her dreams had barely started.
“Princess,” a voice came in the darkness, her eyes flew open and she laid still, waiting. “I know you’re awake,” the voice came again and she recognized it. She turned her head and focused on Ivar at the edge of her bed.
“Ivar?” She asked and he pulled himself up onto her bed.
“Who’s child do you carry?” He asked and she pulled herself up to a seated position.
“I think it is yours, you were the one I slept with the most,” she said and he looked down to her stomach.
“But there is still chance it may be my brothers,” he said and she shrugged.
“There is,” she agreed and he shook his head.
“I cannot raise another man’s son,” he said and she sighed, shaking her head.
“I do not ask you to, I would not be here at all if it was not for my father,” she said and Ivar nodded but remained silent. She looked down as his hand reached out and slid across the surface of her stomach, resting on it. Her child gave a violent kick and she winced at the pain, they had been having good aim lately.
“Was that?” He asked, his eyes were wide and Pordis laughed.
“Yes, that was the child,” she said and he looked back to her stomach.
“Does that not hurt?” He asked and she smiled, shrugging.
“Depends where they kick me,” she said and he nodded. Pordis watched Ivar’s analytical mind working and his hand ran over the surface of her stomach, trying to feel the child kick again. Pordis guided his hand to the child’s favored spot and they waited quietly. She watched Ivar’s face, such concentration and smiled. The child kicked again and Ivar’s eyebrows flew up in surprise, a smile fell across his face.
“Amazing,” he muttered and she smiled again. Ivar spent the better half of a half hour feeling the baby kick and the baby stopped at last. “Pordis,” he started.
“Yes?” She asked and he sighed, staring at her. He reached out and touched her smooth skin, stroking it with his rough fingers. He ran his thumb across her plump lips, she parted them slightly for him and he stared at them.
“If this is my child, I will know it and I promise you I will care for both you and the child,” he said and she smiled, lowering her eyes. “You are a beautiful creature and I would be honored to call you my wife,” he said and her eyes raised, she gazed at him.
“You would marry me?” She asked.
“Of course, I cannot let the mother of my child marry another and have my child given siblings that are not of my blood,” he said and she smiled.
“And that is the only reasons?” She asked and Ivar smiled, he knew the words she wanted to hear.
“You know the other reasons,” he said and she sighed, nodding. He smiled and leaned in, kissing her. “I love you,” he said softy and she gazed at him. She knew those words were important to Ivar and that he did not want to give them away so easily.
“Do you?” She asked and he laughed, shaking his head.
“Yes, if you give me a child you will disprove all who have spoken against me, how could I not love you for that?” He asked and she smiled kissing him again.
“Come lay with me,” she said, laying back and patting the bed. He crawled into bed with her and they laid there in the darkness, his hand upon her stomach as they slowly drifted into sleep.
Pordis had been further along in the pregnancy when she arrived at Kattegat, it was only a matter of two months before she went into labor and had the Ragnarsson brothers waiting impatiently. Ubbe sat with his feet up on the table, hands clasped in his lap, Bjorn sat at the table flipping a knife over and over again as he watched the chamber door. Pordis’ cries rang out from behind it, Ivar drummed his fingers on the arm of his chair and leaned his chin into his palm. Hvitserk and Sigurd leaned against the beams outlining the room, waiting. All were waiting for this child of great mystery to be born, to see which brother would be claimed as father.
At last an infant’s cry broke into the air alongside his mother, the brothers perked up and stared at the door anxiously. The wooden door was opened and the midwife left with a bundle in her arms, looking to the gathered brothers.
“It is a boy,” she announced and looked over her shoulder at the thrall that followed her with another bundle. “And girl,” she said and the brothers quickly stood.
“Two?” Bjorn asked breathlessly and she nodded. The babies were brought to her and the brothers huddled around, staring down at them. The room was silent for a moment until Bjorn slapped Ivar roughly on the back and he nearly fell forward. “Congratulations brother, they are fine children,” he said and Ivar looked at him then back to the pair of infants.
“It is obvious, isn’t it?” He asked and Ubbe laughed.
“There was no doubt the moment I saw them, the boy especially, he looks like you when you were born,” he said and Ivar smiled, the brightest smile many of the brothers had seen on his face.
“I am a father,” he murmured and the other brothers patted him on the back before leaving the Great Hall, greatly relieved. The infants were brought back into their mother and Ivar followed them. Pordis was sat up in the bed, her thrall fixing her hair and another cleaning her face. The linens had been changed quickly and she sat now as though nothing had happened, beautiful as always.
“Congratulations,” she said, a smile on her face and Ivar beamed, he could not help it. He went to the edge of the bed, seating himself and watched as the infants were brought to her breasts. They fed hungrily and she gazed down at them with such tenderness.
“We are parents,” he said and she looked up, laughing softly.
“It is hard to believe, I thought they were active for one baby,” she said and Ivar smiled. He reached out and stroked the foot of one of the children.
“Their legs,” he said and she smiled.
“Perfect,” she said and he exhaled quietly, relieved. “Do not worry so much, Ivar, you will be a good father,” she said, reaching out and cupping his cheek in her palm.
“Do you think so?” He asked and she smiled, nodding.
“I know,” she said and looked back at the boy as he fussed, she readjusted him. “You must name them though, claim them as sons of Ivar the Fearless,” she said and he smiled as he looked at them.