Upon the crown of a lonely shore there is a lone shape; fine and tall, and proud as the ages are long, the shape has chosen to keep his horns.
“Your seas are quiet. They reflect too much.”
“Aye,” replies Odin, shoulder to shoulder with the Jotun prince who has condescended to wear a different set of bones for his own pleasure. Bestla hunts in the unearthed silence. Odin wrestles with her memory, with that great sickle moon curve of a shoreline, black sand and dark waters thick with the scent of salt. Such remembrances cut his mouth to ribbons, pluck the mirth from his eyes.
“You think of her, do you not?”
“Why do you not speak her name, Nàl?” There are many things he does not understand about the Prince, but those ignorances are aught but little coin in comparison with his own. “She was of your House.”
“No,” the Prince snaps, and the low hiss pulls a blade up Odin's spine. “She was not of my House. She was a storm Jotun, from the House at the Bottom of the World. Bölþorn was not her father, the Master of Thiazivarði was. Between her House and mine, there is Blood, but not Body.”
“I will never understand these riddles,”
Nàl gives the son of Bor a bright, wicked bolt of laughter; the noise echoes, flying out over the shifting glass of Asgard's greater sea. “Tis that wretched Tongue you use. No give in it, no cleverness.”
“Cruel, Nàl, you are cruel.” Odin breathes, reaching a hand out to curl his fingers round the Prince's sharp hip bone. Even here, upon Asgard's shores, Nàl has ever worn the garb of his people, and it leaves him bare to sun, and wind, and the salt of the sea; bare to Odin and his touch.
But then again, all is a game with Nàl, and there is little reason for Odin to believe he does this without thought, without purpose.
“Oh aye, indeed. Is it not more pleasurable to be sharp than soft? Is is not better to bed a wolf than a lamb.”
Odin gives Nàl his answer with his teeth, kneading thin, chill lips till there is the tiniest flower of blood, copper bright and bittersweet. Nàl laughs, a small, vicious sound, and opens his mouth to lay his mirth upon Odin's tongue. The Jotun prince tastes of nothing more elaborate than clean, white snow. It is as if even in the heat of another's kiss, Nàl cannot, will not, be anything more than a knot of longing and riddles made to slip away unmarked and unclaimed. He will not leave so much as his own taste in Odin's mouth.
Of his milk and honey wife, Odin thinks not; let her spin and weave, let her mend, and keep peaceful Valhöll's high-crowned halls. This violence is not for her.
“Jotun have no word for jealousy, Fráríðr,” Nàl warns. “No living creature should possess another.”
“And I say, Nàl, all the Nine Realms would have me believe otherwise.” No harsh snap, but a dry observation. Odin finds he cannot see any harm in keeping the heart of another, though perhaps...
“Say you that even Love possesses?” This earns him a pair of white fangs at his throat, the breath of Winter cutting against his skin; Nàl is fierce in his reprimand, in his refusal.
“No word for that either, Odin. It is unwise, most unwise, to trade one's heart on the surety of another.”
Dry and thick in back of his throat, Odin offers up a welt of laughter; he may be half a son of winter, but that Realm and all its people are as strangers to him. Strange hearts and strange shapes; a thousand tongues and but one voice on the low, howling wind. A wailing ululation his mother ne'er taught him to sing. “And you, Prince of Jotunheim, art thou so jealous of thine heart's strings.”
“Not strings,” Nàl murmurs. With a blinding speed, he knocks the flat of his palm into the first son of Asgard's shoulder, and watches the spear-breaker tumble to the sandy sprawl of the shore. Odin is a blood red cloak, and fine, earth-coloured hair; such a curious breed, these Aesir. So warm, so cruel, and all without thought, or understanding.
It takes none of his strength to pin the elder god to the sand, and lay his mouth near Odin's ear. The touch of his breath against skin puts an indelicate shiver through Odin's bones, and so close are they, Laufey can feel each ungentle tremor, each promise of violence.
“Not strings, Odin All-Father.” Nàl snarls, teeth bright beneath the crown of Asgard's moon.
Odin steals the words from the Jotun's mouth,and with a mighty twist of his hips, wrestles the ice and flint son of Fárbauti beneath him. Cold thighs to warming leather, sharp hips pressed against his own.
Nàl shifts, his voice comes to Odin as like smoke over thin, crackling ice: full of heat and a secret bitterness none may touch.
“Chains. Fool. Not strings.”
Odin bends his neck, and seeks again to taste of Winter in Nàl's wet, wolfish mouth.