Sequel to Dawn and Solaris. You can read this as a standalone but I highly recommend reading the first two for the full effect.
Hey guys! This is the third installment in a series of four and I'm so excited to post this for you today! Eve is definitely my favourite of the four and I really hope to hear from you guys and your opinion of it. As you know, I write purely for myself and post only if I have readers who really desire to read a sequel - a total win win situation! So please review if you would like to see the final chapter of the series posted!
See you after the jump!
She had informed her parents that she was going to the Great Hall but it was safe to say that they didn't believe her – they played along anyway, that knowing almost sympathetic look in their eyes. Half the tribe had already accepted the obvious; the boy's time was about to run out. Astrid ignored the whispers and continued on regardless, her beliefs and prayers still intact. She was a Viking – stubbornness was her way of life.
She slipped out of her front door and started into the village square, her skin illuminated by the setting sun. The skies were dyed alight, crimson bleeding into a pink that stretched endlessly across the heavens. Soft clouds peppered the vivid skyscape like puffs of dragon's fire, shadowing the lands as the sun sunk down below the horizon. Astrid smiled lightly to herself, memories of a night not at all unlike the present replaying in her mind.
She slipped into the Great Hall for but a moment, confirming her suspicions. The Chief was sitting in the far corner, his great body curled over a stein of mead. His closest friend sat across from him and was talking quietly to the man, already mourning. Astrid pursed her lips and slipped from the shadows of the Hall, taking to the evening once again just as the disk of the sun dipped below the ocean waves.
She scampered up the slope without hesitation, her eyes peeled for unwelcome observers just asking for a beating. She was pleased to see that most of the town was already inside for the night, and without a second thought she slipped into the Chief's home and closed the door behind her.
She spun around quickly, her eyes scanning the room for others. It was deserted, save one.
The dragon was nowhere to be found and Astrid took small comfort in that. The Night Fury was far too perceptive for her to chance meeting at the moment, her own emotions already in a pandemonium inside her heart. She paused in her stride and stared for a moment at the boy, his face scarred and mouth agape; if it wasn't for his haggard breathing, she would have assumed he was dead.
She stepped closer, taking up the wooden stool at his bedside. He had lost weight and his cheeks appeared to have sunken in, making him look even sicklier than he had already. His skin, pale and lifeless, shone eerily in the dim firelight. Hesitantly, she pressed her palm to his forehead and ran her fingers through his auburn hair, taking comfort in the regular warmth of his skin. The fever had broken – she smiled and bent lower to his prone body, kissing his cheek.
The boy did not stir in his sleep as she would have liked, but his fingers did twitch slightly, a sign that his soul still resided within. She trailed her fingers down his cheek and neck before resting on his bandaged chest, revelling in the steady heartbeat that pumped fervently beneath his skin. She sighed, raking her fingers against the soft wool of his tunic as she pulled herself together, fighting the emotions that were welled up painfully in her chest.
She could hear his stomach growl with hunger even above the crackle of the hearth and she nearly leapt to her feet, her concern getting the best of her. She hurried towards the small galley and pulled some of the salted mutton from the pantry and placed it onto the table. She glanced over her shoulder to see if he had stirred but her hopes were fruitless. With a despondent sigh, she seized a cleaver in her hand and began chopping the cured meat into large chunks.
She started a pot on the cooking fire and seasoned the water as it began to boil with marjoram and thyme, stirring it frequently until the scented water rolled and bubbled with fragrant steam. The young Viking threw in a few mutton bones and raised the pot so that it simmered, busying herself with cutting root vegetables while the stew began to take form.
Once all of the ingredients were combined, she covered the pot and stifled the flames so that only the molten coals endured. The stew continued to cook down and bubble, filling the house with an aroma like the ones she remembered after the plague a few years prior. She herself had fallen victim to the illness, and not having enough strength to eat, her mother had made a simple broth and stew that had helped keep her nourished as she was nursed back to health.
She caught a glimpse of the boy, finally stirring beneath his furs. Astrid was immediately at his bedside, watching with widened eyes as he turned his head to the left and groaned quietly, his fingers twitching with an energy she hadn't yet seen. Once he had calmed, she returned to her stew and drew a ladle from its stickpin on the wall. She spooned some of the broth into a wooden bowl and brought it to the table to cool, watching it patiently as its steam began to whisk away.
A few minutes later she brought the bowl over and set it upon the stool, sizing up the slender boy as she tried to figure out how to do this simply. She sat down upon his bed and gently placed her hands beneath his underarms. She hoisted him upwards and propped him against the headboard, placing his pillow between his back and the bed to keep him comfortable. Content with her work, she lifted the bowl of soup from its pedestal and began feeding him the broth, being careful to make sure he swallowed. Within minutes a touch of colour began to return to his cheeks, a hint of rose tinting his pallid skin. She smiled and combed the unruly hair from his eyes, setting him back down into his original position on the bed. She replaced the pillow beneath him and brought the furs back up towards his collarbones, his arms lying lifelessly on top. She got up from the bed and lifted the pot of stew high above the coals, the heat just enough to keep it warm.
Astrid returned to the young rider's bed and kissed him again, this time pressing her lips to his. She smiled and turned towards the door, pausing only to scratch a few runes onto a piece of parchment and stick it to the pot with a droplet from the honeycombs.
Hours later, when Stoic returned to his house that night, he took the message into his hands and read it silently.
Hope you enjoyed! If I get good enough feedback on this and the next installment I may even think about doing a multi-chapter fic post Horizons. What do you think? I'd love to hear from you!
Love and fluff,