So sorry for the delay!
She knew it was a dream. She had always been skilled at knowing the difference between reality and the reality of the mind. So few others knew it, and they mocked it or became confused. Vomitia had told her it was a sign of a ready and alert mind. A reason Gothi had been chosen, taken under the wing of the village elder. Vomitia had spent morning after morning asking her about her dreams and always responded neutrally, yet eyes barely cloaking the fascination of another's dream world.
It was a real dream. Nothing fantastic. Real dreams were trickier to keep one's self from. Real dreams absorbed. But even in the fire-lit skies of Berk Gothi could see the edges of the dream world, hazy and pale silver in the corner of her eye.
She stood at the edge of a cliff, the village to her right. Some buildings were on fire, a common disaster in a dragon raid. She heard the shouts of the warriors, big tough men who existed only to keep the dragons away. Their voices were familiar and comforting. Protectors.
Above were the dragons. Monstrous Nightmares, Hideous Zipplebacks, Timberjacks, Gronckles, Deadly Nadders, Skrills. In the distance was the blue flame of Night Furies. More dragons soared in the distance, yet to be caught in her gaze.
The cliff was safest. No livestock came near the cliff. Gothi was safe where she was, had she not been dreaming. She vaguely wondered what would best be learned from this dream. So far it was dull. She had seen countless dragon raids. Aside from the sheer number of species there was nothing new. A dull dream, a mere cast-off of thoughts of the day.
She turned from the cliff.
The woods were on fire.
The fire was the brightest orange she had ever seen. She froze in her turn, mesmerized by the flames. Beautiful. Deadly. Burn. Death. Life. Warmth. Fires were good, if the woods demanded them. Fire killed and restored. Fire protected.
The dragons used fire as their weapon. It was how they protected themselves. Gothi could respect that.
She continued to stare at the fire. No one else seemed to notice. In the village the battle against the dragons continued. The same fight of centuries. Tradition. She would go help, but she was too small to be of much use. She didn't mind.
There was a figure in the forest fire. Gothi moved forward, recognizing the figure before her mind came up with a name.
The figure was tall, broad, male.
She burst into a run. Maybe this was a good dream.
The fire didn't hurt. Dream fire couldn't hurt. It was impossible. It was only her mind. The dream world had no effect on her. She pushed through flames as if they were water. Trees snapped into ash as she brushed past them.
The figure became more and more clear.
She finally let herself speak the name. "Havarth."
He was no longer just a figure. He was there. Just how she remembered him. She fell against his chest and breathed in the scent of smoke and him as he wrapped his arms around her.
"Gothi," he whispered.
"I haven't dreamed about you in so long," she replied.
"I was waiting for the right dream."
She took another deep breath and looked up at him. He was so much bigger than her. Such an odd betrothal. The village had all but mocked the arrangement. He was twice her age, twice her size, ridiculous all around.
But he had been her husband. For a few precious months, he had been her husband.
"I don't understand," she said. "Why the forest?"
She was in the little gully, next to the pool. "I was here earlier today. All day, in fact."
"I know." Havarth released her. "Not many people know about this place. It was originally Berk's drinking source, when the island was first settled, before wells were dug and the other springs found."
"I didn't know it was so old," Gothi said. She knelt down by the pool. No fire was here. The fire was gone. The gully was green.
"I built a boat," Havarth said suddenly. "I don't know what has happened to it."
"In the dream?" she asked, looking back up at him. He was handsome. Even older than her, he was handsome. Auburn hair, brown eyes, scruffy and tangled beard, so much better than her dainty pale features.
Havarth shook his head.
She wanted to say something, that she didn't understand, but that didn't seem right. So she only nodded. "A boat."
"It was for you. You always liked the water."
She shrugged. That was true. She gently dipped her fingers into the pool. The water was as ice. She brought her fingers to her lips. Dream water. "Havarth, they never did kill the Monstrous Nightmare. The one that killed you."
She expected him to be angry or sorrowful. Instead his face did nothing. "I know."
The dream ended.
For what felt likes years Gothi lay in her bed, staring at the ceiling. It was not quite time to get up, so what did it matter? She enjoyed the last pieces of night before dawn crept forth, and an owl hooted gently outside her window. Perhaps she should try to fall asleep again. The blanket was heavy and warm, and the hazy remains of the dream hung on her mind, drawing her back in even as it kept her alert.
It had been so long since she had dreamt of Havarth. She moved her hand to her chest, where her heart pounded. Perhaps it was healthy. She had not quite been seventeen when he had been killed in a dragon raid. She was eighteen now. Time had passed, and she was not the only dragon widow in Berk.
She rolled over to her side. She missed being a wife. Being a widow was so… unnatural. She felt dry and used up, old before her time. Widows should be older women, who had experienced time with their husbands, born children, perfected households. She was nothing, and no village boy or man had caught her eye.
Cold sense interrupted. Havarth was not the point of the dream.
She turned her eyes to the window, beyond which stars still twinkled. What mattered from the dream? Havarth? Or was he simply her own longing? What had not fit? The boat. The gully. The pool.
Gothi barely spoke to her mother during chores. Her mother didn't mind, merely minded her own business and hummed and whistled as she would. Gothi was otherwise pleasant and dutiful. She had been a fine housekeeper in Havarth's house, had taken care of meals and clothing and cleaning. It all came natural to her.
But as soon as she could she was out, blonde braids flying behind her. The day was overcast, the green of the world stronger for it. She all but flew through the village till a certain house was before her eyes. She knocked.
It was a time before the door opened, but Saliva eventually stood in the doorway. "Gothi!"
Gothi smiled and moved to hug her friend. The embrace was quick but warm.
"I haven't seen you in days!" Saliva continued happily as she pulled Gothi inside the house. "You've been so busy! And yesterday… three years." She frowned as she absent-mindedly twisted a strand of black hair.
"I know," Gothi said with a nod. "How did Cragulk handle it?"
"He was very close to his grandmother, you know. Did you want to speak to him? He's not here and I'm not a very good substitute for my husband…"
"No, no, that's fine." Gothi smiled warmly. "I'm sure you can help me. If there's anything to help me with. Did you or Cragulk find anything else of Vomitia's?"
Saliva gestured broadly at the room. "The woman hid stuff everywhere. I'm always finding things. It's rather exciting, I got to say. But that book she supposedly wrote? No. I think Cragulk's insane. I don't think it ever existed."
Gothi couldn't help but smirk. The very definition of Cragulk. A wonderful man, a good husband to Saliva, but as wild as his grandmother was wise. She studied the room, wondering why she had come here. She had one little dream and she had to come running to the old home of the woman who had always interpreted them for her.
"I feel so silly," she whispered with a giggle.
Saliva shrugged. "Don't look at me. I don't know why you're here if it's not to see me. Though I did find something the other day. Come."
She led Gothi to a shelf, one she immediately recognized as one of her father's. It looked like the shelf of any household in Berk, sturdy, filled with jars of food and various knickknacks. In this case one of the knickknacks was a little wooden ship.
"Sweet, isn't it?" Saliva said as she gently picked it up and handed it to Gothi. "I don't know if it was one of Vomitia's, but it's very nice. I tried to give it to my son but he just rolled his eyes at me. Ingamar prefers weapons. He's a dragon killer already."
"I know, right?"
Gothi laughed and looked at the piece. It was a perfect child's toy, intricately carved with care. It looked a miniature of any ship of Berk's.
I made a boat. Havarth's words shot back through her mind, and she quickly pressed the ship back into Saliva's hand.
"I'm okay," Gothi breathed, putting a hand to her forehead. She felt dizzy all of a sudden. And stupid. Very stupid.
She was overreacting.
"I need to go," she continued, putting more sense into her expression. She could actually pass for normal. "Chores."
"Yes. I understand."
No, Saliva did not understand, because Saliva had fell like a dragon struck by a boulder for that line. Just as well.
Then again, what was Gothi thinking? She had dreams before. Why was this one so important? She was like a child. Vomitia would have mocked her for this. Even so, she made her way to the cliff. She half-expected to see dragons in the distance, but it was the same endless stretch of sea and the same gray expanse of clouds.
Gothi had often wondered where all the dragons flew from. Where did they go afterwards? No one else seemed to care. Everyone else were meathead Vikings who did their job of protecting the village and nothing else. Bless their hearts for their actions, but would it not be wiser to just nip the whole thing in the bud, so to speak?
Spring. Buds. Life. Birth. The words hit Gothi full-force. In the name of Thor, it had just been an expression! No killing buds.
No killing anything.
She sunk to her knees. What was wrong with her lately? She just felt so…
The flapping of leather wings crashed her thoughts as a shadow passed over her. Her breath caught in her throat.