Fandom: Vinland Saga
Word Count: 2,312
Summary/Description: Thors looks at parallels, while Helga looks at him.
A/N: 31 days, May 2nd: the scent of her beauty draws me to her place. Written while I was sleepy, which is never a good idea. BUT I AM SO HAPPY WITH THIS PARING... T_T tears of joy, man. Tears. First VS fic, omg. Apologies for the typos!
Disclaimer: Not mine. Don't sue.
He rises with the sun, and the sound of the cock. The air is biting and crisp, even in the relative warmth of the cabin that the chief had set aside for him, only a few yards away from his own. Thors welcomes the cold, though, as he does the morning; it fills his lungs and courses through his veins and chases away the sluggishness of sleep. He sits up among the plenteous furs and stretches silently for a moment.
The compound is quiet, though he can hear the murmurs of the early risers and the menial workers. Thors and his three ships returned from the English coast last night, with much to show for it; there had, of course, been great revelry. Thors spent much of the celebration being congratulated and being served. He endured it; he has never had much regard for flattery. Much of what he bothers to recall about the night centres around speaking with the chief about the plans for the journey in the next few weeks, and being diligently, shyly followed by the eyes of his young daughter, wreathed in lilies.
There comes a kittenish yawn from the depths of the bed; momentarily, a dark blonde head finds its way to the surface, and Thors recognises the serving wench that Thorkell had had brought to him last night. Something else that he barely remembers. She sits up, letting the covers fall to her waist as she rubs at her eyes. She is comely, and, if his recollections serve him correctly, vociferous.
She gives a start when she realises that he is awake next to her, and blushes deeply, looking up at him from the fringe of her lashes. Thors spares her a last glance before pushing the covers aside and settling his feet on the cold floor. The girl is quick to lower her head.
"Good morning, Master Thors." The voice is husky, and stifles another yawn. "Will you be... requiring anything of me this morning?" She peeks at him, but Thors doesn't look at her as he dons his trousers.
"I will not," he says shortly, and catches a glimpse of her disappointment as he locates a tunic. He wonders where Thorkell found her. Her face is not a familiar one to him, but then, he does not often take notice of the slaves on the compound. She is very earnest, pulling the sheets up to her chest as she leans forward on one hand.
"If Master Thors is sure... I could very quickly fetch you your morning meal, if it pleases you."
"I am sure it will not be necessary." The shift goes over his head, and he casts an eye about for the thong for his hair. He can sense her moving about on the bed, but ignores her, until she makes a small sound to catch his attention. She is kneeling, and holding out her hand to him.
"Please... have mine."
Thors looks at her for a brief moment before taking the short leather thong, and securing his hair. He heads for the door immediately, but pauses when he opens it.
"Sleep in for a spell if you wish to, but be sure that you are not here when I return."
He exits before she can answer; her reply is muffled by the dull thud of the door.
The cold air washes over his face. The sky is a pale ice blue, but there are grey snow clouds gathering in the distance. They will be here by nightfall, but Thors' concern isn't for the weather at the moment. Down at the shore, the repairs on the largest of the ships are already taking place. She hadn't suffered too much damage, even in the last battle, but it is important that she is always in exemplary condition.
He starts off in that direction, quietly cataloguing the number of men at work, and comparing it against the damage done. If he helps, which he means to, they could be done within the week. Thors doesn't intend to be inactive for too long. Even within this battalion of elite Vikings, he finds himself sorely untested at times. His comrades become Jomsvikings when they don the garb and board their ships; he doesn't think he ever shakes off this mantle.
His long legs make short work of the journey to the shore. He feels the familiar presence shadowing him all the way there; moving between the cabins and huts. Even out here in the cold, his imagination or the wind supplies him with the scent of lilies. As usual, he ignores it.
His men greet him respectfully; he returns it shortly and sends them back to work. They function as a unit, working together, but independently of each other, forming the separate arms of an efficient tool. Thors is vaguely pleased to see that their work ethic remains intact even off the battlefield. Many of these men are older than he is, but he has trained each of them in one way or the other. He taught them that in everything they do, on the battle field and off, there is no room for delay or disputes.
The sound of heavy footsteps crunching on the snows heralds the arrival of another batch of men. Thors observes them as they form the line, and bow to him in perfect unison, before moving on to receive their tasks for the day. He has no more need for the display than he does for the accolades he receives, but he says nothing of it, and never will. It is a ritual born of tradition, duty, and what he recognises as loyalty.
He is reminded then, quite suddenly, of a woman he'd had to kill, a month or so ago. In the English town of Fairfield, her husband had been the only one brave enough to face Thors in one-on-one combat, while the others hid behind their arrows and ill-made cannons. After Thors killed him, and the village was subdued, the supplies harvested, the women and children rounded up and the rest of the men killed, the woman did not stop screaming. She beat against the chests of her captors, refused her food, tore at her hair, and cried so much in her foreign tongue that the other prisoners shrank away from her in fear.
After complaints from his men, Thors attempted to reason with her, once without the aid of a translator, and once with. The third time, as she became hoarse with the utterances of what could only be obscenities, and made as if to lunge for one of the other women, he reached between the bars and snapped her neck.
He doesn't know why he thinks of her now. It is not remorse, and he has never attempted to make sense of the actions of the English. Perhaps he finds a parallel in her devotion to her foolish, courageous husband, to that of his men for him, or that serving wench whose name he does not know.
The winds blow again, bringing in the salty smell of the sea. Gentle waves lap against the sides of the docked boats, in perpetual motion.
He's been expecting this, so Thorkell's yell isn't as much an interruption of his thoughts as it is a segue. His old friend is bright eyed and almost bouncing on his heels as he approaches, reeking of ale. His straw-like hair is sticking out in all possible directions, and he has a mug in his hands that could be filled with a hot morning drink, but that is unlikely. The corner of Thors' mouth twitches.
"Thorkell," he says, reaching out to clasp his brethren's arm in greeting. "You're in a good mood as ever."
As usual, Thorkell's grip is hard and bone-crushing in that first second. His inebriation does nothing to lessen his strength. Thors smiles under a force that would bring most men to their knees, and Thorkell laughs out loud. He still thinks that one day he will beat Thors; who knows? He very well may.
"Ahhhh, but why shouldn't I be?" Thorkell booms. "We have a good long war ahead of us, and I have a wild night behind me. Today—" He pauses to take a deep lungful of crisp, saline air. "—is a good day, my friend."
Amused, Thors steadies the arm that holds the mug, so that liquid will not slosh out.
"Have you even been to bed, in the past twenty-four hours?"
"Bed? Of course I have. Just haven't been doing much sleeping there." He guffaws, and takes a swallow. "How was she, by the way? The serving wench I sent your way. Betcha liked her."
Thors nods as he directs his attention to the mounting of a beam on the ship.
"I did. Thank you."
Thorkell waves it away.
"Don't mention it! You need to spend more time getting laid, Thors. If I can do it, I'm sure you can."
The grunt he gives is non-committal. It is by choice that he does not share his bed often. He has no desire to repeat this morning's scenario every single day. A woman warming his bed has her uses, but is far from necessary. Thorkell knows Thors' thoughts on the matter, so he doesn't pursue it. Instead, he addresses another topic that amuses him to a great degree.
"So Thors," he declares in a stage-whisper, throwing an arm around his friend's shoulder. "I see you've still got that pest problem, huh?" He is angling his body towards a stack of barrels, not twenty yards away.
Thors gives him a patient look, folding his arms across his chest. One of the men comes to ask him his opinion on a matter; when he has finished advising him, Thorkell is still speaking.
"I'm not sure about you, but I'm getting in itch in my side, as if someone just stuck a thorn..."
"Leave her alone, Thorkell," Thors cuts him off with a sigh. "She is just a child."
Thorkell's scoff almost echoes; such is its volume.
"Pah! She's not a child anymore. She's turning into an actual lady, I think! You just haven't been paying attention." He wags a finger mockingly, before calling out. "Come on, Helga, come out from there, and let Thors see you."
The general sighs again. Thorkell, apparently, would like to make a point, and he knows for a fact that the stubborn man won't stop until he does. He watches, resigned, as the chief's daughter appears from behind the barrels, where she stationed herself after following him from his hut. She is dressed simply as always, with a white flower in her hair, and has a small bowl in her hand.
He realises, with some small amount of surprise, that Thorkell is right. He never has cause to look directly at the chief's daughter, but it is obvious that she has grown several inches since the last time he bothered to really look at her. Her wheat-blond hair falls below her shoulders, and there is a curvature to her body that was not present before. Her amber eyes are trained on Thors, which is another new development. He has seen her stare at his toes for minutes on end rather than meet his gaze.
When she is at an appropriate distance, she stops, and bows to them both. Her voice is clear, and sweet.
"Good morning, Uncle. Good morning, Master Thors."
She is close enough that the sweet, herb-like scent on her breath is carried on the wind, the short distance to Thors' nose. It is a pleasing scent.
"Mornin', Helga!" Thorkell gives cheerfully. "Here to irritate the Troll again, hmmm? When your father hears about it, he's not going to be pleased. And Thors is already displeased." A chuckle. "Maybe you should come back tomorrow; it might be less scary," he teases.
It is on the tip of Thors' tongue to tell the girl that she should know that no harm would ever come to her by his hand, but he stays himself, instead wanting to know how she will reply. She looks nervous, but she is still in a way that shows both her upbringing and her courage.
"I apologise most sincerely for disturbing you both. I simply wanted to give this to Master Thors." Here, she fidgets, but only a little bit, fingering the top of the bowl that he holds. "In case he has any need for a breakfast meal."
Thorkell wastes no time in expressing his supreme amusement with loud barks of laughter. The Troll, however, watches the young woman with her firm stance and her liquid amber eyes. He has known her since she was too little to talk, and every step sent her stumbling to her knees, but he has never quite seen her in this light.
"Come," he says quietly, and holds out a hand. Almost immediately, she hurries up to his side. After all the hiding and secretive looks, he would have expected her to be much shyer, but she is almost bold when she meets his gaze, eyes flickering like twinkling stars.
Thorkell, slowing his laughter, looks on in interest as Thors takes the bowl.
"What is it?" he wants to know.
"Rabbit stew," she says immediately, voice strong, and just a little breathless. The look in her eyes is a strange one, Thors decides, but not strange enough to bother him. She looks at him as if she perceives someone different from the tall, dark haired, blue eyed man he sees being reflected in the mirror of her eyes. As if she sees underneath, and through him.
"I... I made it for you," she continues unnecessarily.
He says nothing. He uncovers the bowl, and steam rises out of it, accompanied by that fresh, herb-filled smell. The scent of lilies hits him after.