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Cavemen Thor and Loki

Chapter Text

I was away when it happened. The gold ones from the north came down to our valley and killed my kin. They slaughtered them and spent the night sleeping on their bedding. I knew this because I returned in the middle of their feasting. At first I only saw the light of home, I was among them before I realised, before they realised. For a moment I stood frozen, then I ran.

They chased me with whoops of delight. Savage howls and screams filled the night as I fled my destroyed home. I ran without direction, just desperate to get away from the men behind me, to escape with my life. The rabbits I had caught fell from my bag as I leapt from rock to rock, scrambling as fast as I could to the darkness of the woods in the distance.

Behind me the footfalls fell away. I was the fastest of my tribe, there were none who could catch me. Even at nineteen years I was still the best at chasing and catching the rabbits.

But behind me, there was one set of footfalls left.

I tore onwards, fear driving me closer and closer to the edge of the woods. The footfalls were growing louder, gaining. I was going to die.

I could not be quiet, I crashed through the woods gulping air as I did. He was so close now I could almost feel him at my back. Still I ran, for even with my fate so surely decided, I did not long for death.

At the last moment, when I felt his hand brush the furs on my back, I spun and struck. In the darkness I connected solidly, the impact almost broke my arm. He was a brute, a beast of a man, a bear, and he was upon me.

I hit the ground beneath him, crying out in fear and anger. My tribe was gone, I was the last and I would not survive the next few minutes. I screamed at him and clawed at his face in the dark. He struck me once, my head spun. I bit him on the arm, he howled and struck me again. This time I saw blackness and blinding light behind my eyes but somehow I still managed to keep awake. For a moment I was stunned, but he underestimated me. As he relaxed his grip, sure to have bested me, I grabbed the back of his head and slammed mine upward. My father taught me that blow, before he was killed by the one eyed man, the scourge of our people.

The bear above me grunted in pain and his grip slackened. I shoved him off as hard as I could. In his moment of weakness he tumbled away from me and I scrambled to my feet. I did not get far, his hand found my ankle in the dark and I fell again. I kicked backwards and struck him. I heard his grunt and felt satisfaction bloom in my chest. It was short lived. He clawed his way up my leg and pulled me against him. I struggled in his grip but was unable to break free. For a long moment I twisted and turned, his grip never slackened, and the warmth of his body sunk into mine. I became terrifyingly aware of his arousal, the feel of his manhood pressing against my body.

When he pulled the furs from my body I knew a new kind of fear. I had seen what had happened to captives in my tribe. They had screamed and struggled and bled under the hands of my kinsfolk. I had found the act unsettling myself, there was certainly no honour in it, although in time I would have been expected to participate, to prove myself to the tribe, to prove I could be a headman like my father.

Now I was to be under this bear, and he would make me bleed before my death.

I twisted and tried so hard to break his grip, but it was impossible, he was bigger than me, stronger than me, and now that he had me there was no escape.

He tore the last of the furs from my body and pushed me down to the leaf-covered ground. I pressed my lips together. I would not scream for him, I would not give him the satisfaction. He forced my legs apart and reached between us to free his manhood. There were tears in my eyes, betraying me. I was thankful it was dark and that he could not see.

His first thrust missed his target and slid between my legs. I pushed them closed quickly to trap him. For a moment I was successful, then he slipped free. I managed to send his next thrust the same way, his third almost pressed inside me but I bent just enough to stop it. He gave up then, and just rutted in earnest between my legs. I was thankful for that, perhaps I would still die without becoming ergi.

His rutting lasted long minutes. I did not fight him as before, although I was far from willing. I did not want him to try again for inside me.

At last he stiffened and spilled, spurting his wetness onto the ground beneath me. I took advantage of his loss of control to strike out again. He lost his breath as my elbow landed, grunting in the dark as I scrambled away.

I was almost free when his tribesmen found us. They brought torches and held spears at me from every side. I tried to slow my breathing, to be calm in my death.

“Sten.” The bear said from behind me. “Sten.”

I turned and faced him. He was golden, like the rest of his tribe, taller than me and broader. His hair hung down around his head in thick tangles. His eyes looked black in the flickering light. He was looking at me intensely, he looked… pleased? Satisfied? I wasn’t sure, but he was not angry even after our struggle, even after I denied him the satisfaction of my body.

They did not strike, but remained wary. The bear approached me, I backed away but found myself against their spears. The bear took my arm and pulled me with him to the place that I had called home. I spent the night tied to a post, cold and frightened, although I fought not to show it. At one point another of them gave me some rabbit, one of mine I was sure. His smile was smug and knowing. I ate, rabbit was not a bad last meal. I wished I knew why I had been spared. Perhaps they planned a sacrifice to their god. My tribe would give the best kills from the hunt to our god, burning them upon a pyre. They of course were dead when we burned them. It looked as though I would not be so lucky.

The next morning they gathered the valuables, the food and possessions that had been my tribe’s, and headed back to their own base. I was forced to walk behind the bear, he strode forwards with an easy step, confident, certain, and victorious. My hands were tied together which made walking more difficult. The other men would push and jolt me when the bear’s back was turned. They made me stumble as I walked.

One of them grabbed me from behind, squeezing my hindquarters and making me jump as his fingers pressed upward. I yelped in surprise and they laughed loudly. The bear turned just as another of them slapped my rump. He growled in anger and swung his arm at them. The blow knocked them both off their feet. A moment later I was in his arms, pressed against his body as he roared at his kin.

“Niye! NIYE!!” He screamed, pulling me around with him as he spun to catch them all in his gaze. He beat his chest, then mine, hard enough to hurt. “Niye!!”

I tried to break his grip but it was like iron. The bear then turned and kept walking, forcing me to stumble with him, twisted sideways under his arm. He continued on this way for a while before finally letting me walk again. His kin did not bother me further.

Chapter Text

We walked for three days. Out in the open we stopped to rest only briefly. Each time the bear pulled me down beside him and wrapped his arms around me, glaring at the others as though daring them to try and take me. They did not. The bear was huge and clearly the leader. I lay in his arms and tried desperately to think of a way to escape, but those on watch did not allow so much as a stretch to go unnoticed, and with my hands tied I could do little even if I managed to sneak past them.

At least when we were travelling there was no time for mating; such activities were distracting and dangerous when so exposed. That did not stop the bear from sniffing my hair and pawing at my flanks when we lay down together. His attention was frightening. I was alone, and afraid.

On the morning of the fourth day we reached their base. It was a hill, higher than those around us with a flattish area about halfway up. I could see smoke from the cooking fires. As we climbed I realised that they had made their home in caves surrounding the flat ground. Furs were hung to keep out the wind and the women and children came out to greet their returning kin.

The bear gave a great roar, which his kin echoed. He reached for a bag slung on another man’s shoulder and dug out the Bluestone. I stared in shock as he hefted it high to the sound of cheers. The Bluestone had been my tribe’s most prized possession. It was magical, and came from our god. There was no other stone like it, it was carved with spirals and sparkled in the sunlight.

Now it was theirs, and so was I.

I could not keep the look of outrage from my face, as I found out when one of them thumped me hard and growled at me in warning. The bear turned and for a moment his eyes locked onto mine. They were not the black they seemed in the firelight, but a clear blue, brighter than even the Bluestone. He stepped toward me.

I took a step back, but found myself trapped by his kin. The women were looking at me in confusion, the children in concern, and the men in distrust and suspicion.

The bear grabbed my arm and pulled me along with him through the crowd. Perhaps I was to be killed tonight, slaughtered on an altar as the Bluestone found a new home. My heart was beating so loudly I could feel it in my chest.

Then I saw him. The Scourge! The one eyed man who killed my father. He was here! I thought I would lose what little pride I had left and break apart at his feet. He had been so long the man of my nightmares, and now I was facing him. His one eye looked me over, the great spear that had killed my father was in his hand, his face was stern.

“Thor, wa id di?” He said.

The bear grunted. “Niye.” He said, pulling me close to him.

“Du thor du, je tejen ah dool.” The Scourge said, glaring at me.

“Ni-ye.” The bear said, saying each sound slowly as though The Scourge was dim-witted.

“Thor-“

“NIYE!!” The bear screamed and raised his stone hammer. I thought I would faint. He was screaming at The Scourge. I expected him to keel over dead at just one look from that terrible eye.

To my surprise The Scourge backed down. He was shaking his head but said no more. He turned and walked away, no, hobbled. To my shock I saw The Scourge was using his great spear to hold himself up. Somehow the man of my nightmares had become old.

I wondered how hard it would be to kill him.

Then the bear dragged me further, towards the mouth of a cave. Before we got there a woman emerged. She had silver in her blond hair, which fell in long matted strands around her face. She looked from the bear to me and back again.

“Niye.” The bear said again, gesturing to me.

She nodded, and smiled at him as she reached up and hugged him.

“Niye som. Da gool seh yu.” She said and released him.

He tied me to a post near the entrance and left me there. I sat and watched as the tribe fought and argued over the things they had brought back. My things, my tribe’s things. Occasionally one of them would look at me and sneer. The children were kept well back from the black haired monster in their midst. I tried to free my hands but had no more luck now than I did during the three days prior. I was forced to sit and wait.

They had a feast that night. The hunters left behind had made a good kill, and they cooked it upon a fire that they danced around, singing songs in that grunting way of theirs. I sat in the darkness beyond the fire and tried to cut my leather bindings on a rock. I was not having any luck.

In the distance I saw the flames being built higher. My heart froze inside of me. They were going to burn me. I knew it now. I was a sacrifice and I was going to be pushed onto the flames and held there with spears as my skin crackled and burned. I began to panic. I did not wish to die, and I did not wish to burn. The flames were so hot and I knew I would scream, scream until I could not breathe as the hot coals pressed hard against my flesh. Would they laugh? Would they sing songs and dance as I burned in agony? I could feel tears fill my eyes at the thought. A blade. Surely they would end me with a blade before…before…

My eyes filled with blackness. I could feel nothing of my limbs. If they tried to make me walk right now I would collapse at their feet. The flames filled my vision as out of the light strode the bear, coming for me.

He cut my bindings to the rock but did not let my hands free. I tried not to whimper as he scooped me up into his arms. I did not want to give them the pleasure of my screams but I did not think there was any way to prevent it.

To my surprise the bear took me away from the flames and into the cave behind me. He carried me to the rear, where a bed of furs had been made. Feathers from slain birds were scattered throughout and they tickled my skin as he lay me down.

So he was to make me ergi before I died. I had no strength left to stop him. My tribe was gone, my life was all but over. He would make me bleed, then I would burn for a god I did not believe in.

He nuzzled my hair and stroked my flanks with his big hands. I lay beneath him and tried not to let him see my fear. I knew I had failed when he leaned down and brushed my face with his fingers gently, the way you would a child.

“Flacks.” He said. “Flacks.”

I could not stop my body trembling as he kissed me, pressing his warm lips to my cold ones. His beard tickled my almost bare cheeks. Yet another thing I would never do, would never grow old enough to do. My little wisp of black was hardly a man’s beard, and now it never would be.

His kiss was deep and lasting, pressing my head back against the furs hard enough that I could feel the rock beneath them. I tried to pull away but had nowhere to go. I pressed my bound hands to his chest and tried to push him off but he ignored the effort. If I could find enough room for a blow I might at least damage him, but he stayed close and I found no room to strike.

He pulled back suddenly, surprising me, then reached for something beside us. It smelled like animal and felt slimy as he pushed his fingers between my buttocks. I struggled, trying to stop him.

“Flacks.” He said again, his voice low. “Flacks.”

I stayed stiff as his fingers breached me, pushing me open and stretching me wide. I did not know why he would do such a thing, unless he was preparing me for better burning. I knew the women of my tribe would sometimes use animal fat to help other things cook. The thought made my throat close in terror, my head filled with visions of the bear pushing me down onto hot burning sticks, watching in delight as I burned from the inside out.

“No.” I whispered, pleaded. “Please no.”

“Flacks.” He said again and kept pushing.

When he pulled back and coated himself with the fat I was sure he meant to slicken me as far as possible, to make the burning go further and deeper. His rutting would be an extra pleasure, one I would be forced to give him.

The tears spilled over my cheeks as he pressed himself inward.

“Flacks.” He said again, more forcefully. I stayed rigid as my hands desperately pushed at his chest.

The bear pushed further a little more, then sighed in frustration. He reached down and hooked one of my legs under the knee, pulling it up until it was curved over his shoulder. Then he did the other one, holding me open even as I struggled to stay closed to him. He grabbed my bound hands and pulled them over my head. I could not move, he had me, I was open, I could not stop his steady thrusts.

“Flacks.” He whispered to me as he rocked my body with his. “Flacks, gool, flacks.”

His rutting was less painful than I had thought it would be, thanks to the fat, but I was in terror of when it was over. He would drag me outside and together he and his kin would force me down onto a burning stick and I would die in agony. Perhaps they were preparing the stick now as he prepared me, placing it in the coals and letting it glow red with heat.

He was rocking steadily now, forcing me to rock with him. I could not move except where he moved me. I could not tense myself against him in this position. He claimed me, and I was helpless to stop it.

Perhaps it was best. I would go to my god and my tribe. I would kneel before my father and ask his forgiveness for being made ergi, surely he would understand that I could not stop it.

The bear gave a cry and released his wetness inside me. I wondered if that too would help me burn.

He pulled himself from my body and let me uncurl. In the near darkness I could just make out his smile. Now I would die. I tried to be ready, tried not to be afraid. I failed. There were tears on my cheeks and my body shook with the fear of what was to come.

The bear got up and left me.

I was not expecting that. For a moment I was stunned before I realised he had probably gone to fetch his kin. They would be coming to take me.

I stood on shaking legs and tried to walk to the entrance to the cave. Maybe if I slipped out now I would have a chance to escape.

My luck had abandoned me with the Bluestone. The bear came back just as I was inching forwards. He held a bone in his hand, there was a little meat left on it. He gave it to me and sat down, watching me as I held it.

A last meal? There was not much meat, but some marrow was left. I was not hungry at all, but nibbled anyway. My father told me that a wise man does not waste food.

I am not sure what he would say about a man who was moments away from burning to death, perhaps eating it was a waste.

I finished it anyway, cracking open the bone with my back teeth to reach the marrow. The bear watched me do that with interest. When I was done he took the bone and threw it carelessly toward the entrance. Then he pushed me back down onto the furs and wrapped his arms around me.

“Da Thor.” He said, pointing to himself.

“Da Thor.” I repeated.

His brow furrowed. “Du. Da Thor.” Again he pointed to himself.

“Da Thor.” I repeated, wondering if he were more stupid than normal.

“DU. Da THOR.” He said, looking at me in frustration.

I just stared at him. Perhaps ‘da’ was not a name, certainly he’d put more force into the other sound.

“Thor?” I guessed.

He grinned and nodded. “Jar.” Then he pointed at me.

“Loki.” I said.

“Lowki.” He repeated a little awkwardly. “Lowki.”

He pulled me close to him and stroked my flanks again. “Niye Lowki.” He said. Moments later he was asleep.

I was stunned. I had been sure that I was to die, instead I found myself still alive and expected to sleep soundly beside an enemy. The bear was very confident if he thought I would not attack him in the night.

But what could I do really? My tribe was gone, all dead, their bodies thrown carelessly away once they had been stripped of their things. I had nowhere to go, no place that was safe. Here beside the bear, Thor, was all I had.

I did not sleep well that night. Barely dozed even. I was too worried about the morning, and what was going to happen to me. At least I knew what ‘niye’ meant. It’s meaning had been made utterly clear.

‘Mine.’

Chapter Text

During the night The Scourge and his woman came to sleep in the front part of the cave. I watched them without moving as they settled. The Scourge was grumbling quietly, I saw him turn in my direction but he could not see my eyes in the gloom. I wondered if he knew that I was the son of his enemy or if he just hated all outsiders.

My thoughts were troubled that night. I did not know how long Thor was planning to keep me. At what point would his lust be satisfied and I would be handed over to the men to kill? I made no sense to keep me, my tribe certainly wouldn't allow it. A woman maybe, especially if she was pretty and fertile, but a man? No. My life was still going to be short.

I wondered if The Scourge slept deeply, and if I could kill him where he lay before Thor grew tired of me.

Morning light woke the woman, who rose and went outside. She sighed at the entrance and stooped to pick up the bone Thor had so carelessly tossed there the night before. She looked over at him and caught my eye as I lay crouched beneath his arm.

She smiled gently and disappeared, apparently content that I was staying put. I picked off a few fleas that had settled on my skin as I lay waiting for Thor to wake up. Fourteen actually, the bedding needed shaking.

A few minutes later the woman returned with a bowl made from the skull of a beast. She lowered it to my mouth and I tasted water. It was cool and soothed my dry throat.

"Thank you." I whispered.

She smiled, understanding my meaning even if she did not understand my words.

"Frigga." She said softly, placing her hand in her chest.

"Frigga." I repeated, equally softly.

She pointed at me.

"Loki." I said.

"Lowki." She repeated with the same accent as Thor. She pointed at The Scourge, who lay snoring on his back with his mouth open. "Odin."

I refused to say his name. He was, and always would be, the man who had taken my father.

Frigga watched me for a moment, then repeated. "Odin."

I shook my head and narrowed my eyes.

"No." I said.

My movements had woken Thor, he grunted and shifted, pulling me close as he chased the sleep from his head.

"Lowki." He said, smiling down at me. He saw the woman at the edge of the bedding.

"Madra." He said. She smiled and leaned over to stroke his hair.

"Gool Dawa Thor, da gat dool." She said and rose. I watched her as she left the cave.

Thor pulled me close and nuzzled my neck. I didn't like it and squirmed in his grasp. He shifted and I felt his manhood press against me.

I struggled a little more, but as with last night, there was no escaping his grip. He pushed upwards and I stifled a cry, grateful at least that the animal fat from the night before was still slick inside me. His manhood was big, and I felt stretched wide as he rocked his hips against me.

"Flacks, Lowki, flacks. Gool Lowki, flacks." He whispered, switching between kissing and nuzzling my hair and ear. I tried to resist him but there was no way to stop it.

I saw Frigga come back with her bowl, she walked over to us as we rocked together.

"Thor, yu mud woo fan." She said calmly and set the bowl down by the side of the bedding. She left us to our rutting.

There were tears in my eyes again as Thor spilled his wetness. He moved out of me and rolled me over to kiss me deeply.

"Niye Lowki." He said again. He wiped the tears from my cheeks and kissed them both affectionately, before he reached over and took the bowl.

He ate well, remembering towards the end to let me have a scoop of the grain-meal within. Outside I could hear the sounds of the tribe waking up. I felt torn in two. One part of me wanted to get away from this cave and away from Thor. The other part did not ever wish to leave this cave, for out there I was sure I would meet my death.

Thor stood and stretched, then leaned down and pulled me up beside him.

He dragged me out of the cave and into the weak morning light. The hunters had gathered in preparation for the day. They were checking their spears and knives. At the sight of Thor they straightened, at the sight of me their eyes narrowed.

Thor pushed me down onto a rock to sit and went over to his men. I looked around the camp and took note of the pathway down and the position of the guards.

They were arguing, from the way they kept looking over I knew they were arguing over me.

One of them was gesturing with great sweeps of his arms, he was going quite red in the face.

"Je tejen ah dool!” He shouted. "Da hew du craw pwo je hwew at!"

"Je niye! Da hwew craw lat Je!" Thor shouted back.

"Jewa hwew seh je whe yu craw? Je hwew du yrustil. Je hwew fruk ah kindri!" A woman yelled, to grunts of agreement.

I shrank back in my spot, the fear inside of me began to grow again. Thor may be the leader, but there were plenty of others here who would no doubt be happy to take his place.

Thor growled in anger. His eyes looked wild, I thought it was only a matter of seconds before they attacked one another.

"Da hwew seh je." The Scourge said from behind me.

I froze, I could feel his evil eye on my back. I did not know what he said but the tribe calmed itself.

"Dadra, yu hwew seh je sten?" Thor asked.

"Jar. Da hwew clat je a da, je hwew du gron rar wit wri kan hevin je dwon." The Scourge said.

"Fwa i je fruk yu?" One of them asked.

"Den je hwew hov wri *ded* kan hevin je dwon." The Scourge snapped.

I turned back and forth between them during this exchange, unable to understand what they wanted. In any case it seemed things were settled. Thor looked pleased.

Before the hunters left, Thor tied me to The Scourge. The rope was thick and the leather knots tied tight. I could go nowhere without him. I thought I might faint from fear, The Scourge was glaring at me with intense dislike. My only bright point was that my hands were now free, the leather ties from the last four days had left deep marks on my wrists and it was a relief to be able to rub them.

Only a short while after the hunters had left, a larger group of women, children, and guardsmen set off for the plains below. The Scourge and, due to the rope binding us, I went with them.

When we got there, The Scourge handed me a skin bag and pointed to the grains growing on the long grasses before us.

"Pwuk dem." He said, and began to pick the grains.

I reached forward and copied him, plucking the grain pods from the grass as we made our way through the plain. I was not so old as to have forgotten the best way to forage, and my long fingers worked quickly and well. After a time The Scourge looked at my bag and grunted in what seemed to be begrudging satisfaction. He said nothing however and we continued to pick.

By the middle of the day the group had reached an area of low grass by the start of a forest. I saw rabbits feeding here and there. Some of the children made as if to chase them, but they were far too fast, or rather, the children were too slow. The women snapped at them and they slunk back.

I did not understand this, how would they ever grow fast and agile enough to catch the rabbits if they did not practice. We had a good supply of grain, well, I did, and the middle of the day was a good time as most adults were taking a break in the shade of the trees.

I sat as far from The Scourge as the rope allowed and tried to rest. I could see the way the adults watched me, not trusting me at all. I stayed quiet and tried not to make it obvious that I was trying to undo the knots that bound me.

The Scourge shifted and I froze. He terrified me, even now as he sat hunched in the shade. His hair was more grey than blond, and his face was heavily lined. I had not seen him since the day he killed my father and the change was unsettling, as though I was seeing something forbidden. The Great Scourge was an old man, grumbling under his breath and gathering grain with withered fingers. I cast around me idly, pretending that I wasn't secretly searching for a big enough rock to stave his head in.

The rest was over, the adults moved again to a new part of the plains and I went back to plucking grain.

The light was fading when the hunters returned. I could see straight away that they had been unsuccessful. Their shoulders were slumped and their faces glum.

I knew the feeling well. Most big hunts were unsuccessful, my tribe had eaten grain and fruit most of the time, with the occasional fish, and rabbits of course, we were always catching rabbits.

The women just held up their bags, there was enough grain for the night and maybe a little for the morning too. I handed over my bag with The Scourge's, I was pleased to see that mine was one of the bigger ones of the group, at least I could not be accused of not earning my food.

Thor looked please with me, and turned to make sure the other hunters could see it on his face. Then one of the hunters, the one who had brought me a little piece of rabbit the night they caught me, pointed at the forest excitedly. Then he pointed at me.

I froze in place as he babbled at them, pointing back and forth between me and the forest.

Thor looked intrigued, he came and cut my bonds, taking my arm and pulling me towards the forest area.

The fading light had brought out the rabbits in numbers; it was the best time for catching. Thor looked at them, then expectedly at me. He tried to hand me a spear.

"Craw dem." He said, pointing to the rabbits.

I stared at the spear. That was not the way to catch a rabbit. I *could* hit them with a flint knife from quite far away, but the most common way to catch a rabbit was to run it down.

I pushed the spear back into his hand and took off.

I heard the shouts behind me but I ignored them. I had no way to explain myself, so I did not bother. I darted into the centre of the rabbits and gave chase as they fled. They ran from side to side, zigzagging to try and shake me but I was too light on my feet. I dove, landing solidly on top of one of them and gripping it between my hands.

I rolled onto my back in the dirt and found myself facing a number of spears. The hunters had given chase, no doubt believing that I had tried to run away. Thor was among them, looking at the rabbit in my hands in surprise.

I held it up meekly, I had no tools to help me survive, and Thor was faster than me as he had well proved. Escape was not possible right now, the best I could hope was to be productive enough that they would not kill me.

Thor took the rabbit and twisted its neck. I got carefully to my feet.

The other man was frowning.

"Peni." He said. "Yu craw peni."

He held his hand up and extended four fingers. Last time I had caught four rabbits. Then he spread his hands around him. All the rabbits were gone, hiding beneath the ground.

"We have to wait." I said. They looked confused. I gestured for them to follow and walked back to the group. When we were far enough away I sat and looked at them.

"Wait." I said again.

Thor was watching me with shrewd eyes.

"Stei." He said. The others nodded with sudden understanding.

The main group left with the first rabbit. Thor and a small group of men stayed with me as we waited for the other rabbits to come back.

The light slowly began to fade. After a time the rabbits returned. We watched them as they crept out of their burrows and began to eat again. One of the men nudged me. When I looked at him he gestured to the field. I shook my head. Too soon.

We waited a little while longer, then I rose slowly and readied myself.

Thor leaned in close to me.

"Wa hew wei hew?" He said. It was a question, but I did not know what he wanted. He gestured to himself and his men and repeated himself.

Taking a guess at his meaning, I pointed at two of them and gestured to the left. Then I pointed at Thor and the other one and gestured to the right. Flank them, I motioned, keep them contained.

I rose and ran. Behind me a heard the men take off to either side. I darted furiously among the rabbits, launching myself at one and pinning it to the ground. I snapped its neck quickly and rose, hoping that the men had kept some more out in the open.

They had, but only a few, I tore across the ground and chased furiously after another one. It almost escaped but Thor loomed suddenly in its path and it darted to the side. I followed and landed, one hand on the creature. I dragged it quickly toward me before it had a chance to bite and twisted its neck.

We retreated to our waiting place again. The men were pleased with my efforts, although I was tired from my small meals and lack of sleep. We waited again and made one more attempt before the light became too dim. This time we were unsuccessful, the rabbit slipped through my grasp as I tried to catch it. Thor did not seem upset, he wrapped his arm around me and pulled me with him as we walked back to their base.

I did not get any rabbit. The meat was shared by the men, with scraps offered to whichever woman they were trying to rut with. I was given a small bowl of grain-meal to fill my stomach. It made sense, I was a burden to these people, a few rabbits would not change that.

Thor kept me by his side as the tribe ate. I was still not trusted, I could see it as they watched me. I kept my head down and tried to appear meek in their presence. There were a lot of them and I had no hope of escaping, not yet.

Thor finished his meal and tugged me away from the firelight. I swallowed nervously, but there was no helping it. I was his to do with as he pleased. I tried to be grateful that I was not to die, at least, not for a while. Eventually when Thor lost his interest in me then they would have no reason to keep me.

He started with kissing, he liked kissing. His mouth tasted of rabbit, which made me angry. But I was no longer the son of a headman, a hunter who would one day be headman himself, I was prey, caught and held, I was not important enough for rabbit.

His big hands ran down my flanks, sliding under my buttocks and squeezing me possessively. I held myself still and tried not to whimper. I didn’t need to bother anymore, I was already ergi and Thor had made me cry like a child more than once, but it made me feel better to try and hold on to something.

He nuzzled against my neck and covered it with wet kisses and laps of his tongue. One hand reached between my legs and pressed inwards. I jumped and squirmed, trying to stop the inevitable. Thor took this as a hint to dip his thick fingers in the fat by the bedding. His next attempt pushed up into me with ease.

My breathing was loud in the cave, I could hear nothing else as he worked his fingers inside of me. I tried again to break his grip but I could not stop him.

He shifted, pulling me upwards until I sat in his lap. One thick arm around me and the other working itself beneath me. I turned my head away as he kissed me, his lips pressed instead against the corner of my mouth.

“Stop.” I whispered, knowing that even if he could understand me he would not. I was his captive, I was his to take. It was the way of things. I did not have to like it, I was not important enough to have my opinion counted.

He pulled his fingers out of me and grabbed my buttocks in his hands. He spread me even as I struggled to stop it, and lowered me down onto his manhood. A cry broke the softness of the cave. It was me, high and sharp as I felt him breach me. He pushed me down slowly until I was fully impaled on him. He was breathing heavily with pleasure and looked at me with wild, lust filled eyes. His hips snapped upwards, tearing another cry from my lips. This only spurred him on as he moved again, I rose and fell in his arms with each thrust as the sounds of the tribe outside filtered through the furs hanging in the entrance.

When he lay me down afterwards I was too tired to run. I closed my eyes before he had even settled and drifted into a deep sleep.

The next day was the same, except that I was taken to the rabbit fields earlier by the guarding hunters. I still turned in a good bag of grain, and my efforts caught two rabbits before Thor returned. He stayed with me in the dimming light as we waited for the rabbits to come back.

His hand kept brushing my leg. I knew what he wanted, I really hoped that with his men here he would not take me. I had avoided being entertainment for these people so far. I held on to the hope that it would continue.

Thankfully, rabbit was more important. I rose and ran for them, darting back and forth on their tails until I had one in my arms. I snapped its neck and climbed to my feet.

Thor had caught a rabbit! He was standing with it in his arms looking very pleased with himself. His men crowded around and thumped him on the back cheerfully. I felt strangely annoyed. This was a bargaining tool, something I could do that kept me valuable. Thor had taken it from me.

But then he had taken everything else, so why not this too?

I handed over my kill with a tentative hand. Thor grabbed me and hugged me possessively.

I tried to stay calm. Thor was fast and a good hunter, but the others were not fast enough. I could see that. I still had value, unless Thor planned to be the only rabbit catcher in the tribe.

We settled back in the waiting place. Thor took the opportunity to nuzzle me and rub his hands up under my loincloth.

I squirmed uncomfortably; his men were watching and clearly enjoying the show. Thor seemed to realise what was bothering me. I did not expect him to care but he pulled me against him and glared at the others for watching.

"Niye." He mumbled with narrowed eyes. They found other things to look at.

Thor did not catch another one. He was fast, but less agile and could not turn as quickly as I could. His growls of frustration would have been funny had I not been afraid of angering him.

In total we had seven rabbits to eat. I did not have much hope of tasting one, except as juice from Thor's mouth.

I was right, and ate my small bowl of grain-meal without complaint. It was not enough for a man my size, certainly not one who was running down rabbits each day. I was exhausted, and there was only Thor to come. I wondered if there was a way to sneak some food, surely they would take their eyes off me soon.

My luck remained bad. These people did not trust me, they watched me constantly, not just the guards, but the women and even the older children. I was the stranger in their camp and they did not relax around me. This was a problem, not just for my escape but for my very survival.

My father always said I was clever, and with my honour already gone I had little to stop me from acting as I pleased. Well if Thor was so determined to call me his own, he would have to feed me better, and I knew just how to go about making it happen. I had no doubt I would get my opportunity soon.

Chapter Text

I was getting used to being tied to The Scourge. Sometimes, I would catch him looking at me with that one eye of his and I would feel my blood freeze in my body, certain that he knew me, and remembered my father and how he *lost* his eye. But for the most part he ignored me as we picked grains from the plains. It was a good spot; there was plenty of grain for those with slender fingers. The Scourge was quite slow. His hands were weaker than mine and his fingers did not move easily.

With myself as the exception, people ate the grain-meal according to what they had harvested, after the hunters ate of course. A woman with quick fingers ate quite well, as did her children. The Scourge did not. I felt a warm sense of satisfaction when I saw him being served so little. Frigga helped him though. She was faster and would serve him some of her food in the evenings. Thor too was not a bad son, he would dribble a little of the meat fat onto his father’s grain when he remembered.

It had not taken long for me to realise that The Scourge was Thor’s father. At first I had been humiliated, of all the people to take me it had to be the son of my father’s greatest enemy, but as the days went past and I saw The Scourge hobble his way through the plains I realised that it didn’t matter. My father would always be a headman and a great hunter, The Scourge would be remembered as a burden who could not die soon enough. So falls the mighty Scourge.

It was still mid-afternoon when the hunters returned. They had made a kill. Thor strode across the plains with a beaming grin, the prey slung over his shoulders.

He accepted his tribe’s admiration easily, as was his due. I stood silently beside The Scourge and tried to appear meek. Inside I was delighted, this could only increase my chances of success tonight.

The hunters lazed about in the shade while we finished picking grains. Thor was watching me from where he lay, one hand casually stroking his manhood through his loincloth. I looked over at him from beneath my eyelashes as I had seen some of the women do in my tribe when they wanted to catch a man’s attention. As he shifted, eyes on me, I turned my head away to continue my task, making sure my neck was on display. Let him want, let him lust. If I did this right I would have a full belly tonight.

There was a debate about the rabbits. They called them prara. I wasn’t sure but I thought they were deciding whether they would be needed. I thought they were all stupid. Of course I should hunt, the plains made them lazy, one day the food would not be there and on that day they would be glad of even a single rabbit.

Thor made the decision, he cut me loose and took me to the rabbit ground.

During the midday rest some children had tried their luck with the rabbits, but the mothers still stopped them. They sent dark looks my way as they scolded their children. I was a stranger, and anything I did was wrong, even if it fed their children. My tribe had not been so stupid, we would take anything that helped us, including new skills.

It had not saved us though, I was the last of my tribe, and the last of our knowledge would die with me.

I caught three of them. Thor tried again to catch them but fell on his stomach again and again. I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing at one spectacular landing, I could not afford to risk upsetting him, not tonight.

He made me sit by his side at the fire, as usual. I ate my small portion of grain and rested the bowl in my lap. Thor was still eating, tearing into the cooked meat with great pleasure.

There was some rabbit left. With a good kill on the fire the tribe did not want my rabbits. The children were watching them though. I had no doubt that if Thor gave the word they would tear the little bodies apart in their haste to eat meat. I took a deep breath. Thor was just finishing up, it was time.

I carefully leaned my leg into him. He went still. Good. Without looking at him I moved my leg so that it rubbed slowly against his. Then, when I was sure he was paying attention I raised the bowl to my mouth and licked it from end to end in one long sweep. I looked at him out of the corner of my eye as I did it again.

His pupils were wide with lust; he had wanted me since the afternoon but had held off for the good of the tribe. Now there was no such restriction. I made sure I had his full attention, and then very deliberately lowered the bowl and looked at the food by the fire. Then back at him. I raised my eyebrows and waited.

He understood. I could see it in his eyes. Now I just had to wait and see whether he would accept my bargain, or whether he did not care for my compliance.

He rose and went to the food. He did not take my bowl which worried me, until I saw him rip off the back of one of the rabbits. He took a bite as he strode back to me and caught my arm, pulling me to my feet and away towards the cave.

When we were no longer under the eyes of his kin he held the rabbit out to me. I took it and took a big bite, letting the juice run down my chin. Still chewing, I raised a hand to his chest and rubbed up over the muscle. He was almost panting with lust. He stepped forwards and wrapped his arms around me, pulling me in against him. Instead of trying to pull away I leaned into his hold, rubbing myself shamelessly against his body as I stuffed the rabbit into my mouth over his shoulder. There was every chance that when he lost himself in lust I would lose my chance to finish the rabbit. I was desperate to have as much as possible.

He nuzzled my neck and ran his hands down over my buttocks. I nibbled at the bone as quickly as possible, remembering to moan a little as I did so.

He growled low and lustfully, walking with me in his arms back towards his bedding. I sucked the juices off my hand and tried to get at the marrow.

It was too late, he pushed me down against the furs and I was forced to kiss him. I carefully extended my arm as far as I could and let the bone go. Maybe I would be able to pick it up again when we were done.

I wrapped my arms around his shoulders and rocked my body up against his. He moaned in pleasure and squeezed my flanks, kissing and licking my face and neck. I raised my legs and wrapped them around his waist as he thrust against me. He reached between us and pulled his loincloth away, grabbing mine a second later and throwing them as far as he could. For a moment he almost seemed so caught up that he would forget to use the fat, but I managed to catch one of his hands and dip his fingers in it. The feel of it reminded him and he sank his slick fingers inside me, working his hand back and forth as he kissed me hard and wanting.

He slicked himself up and pushed inwards. I gave a small cry, but this time I was not resisting him and found that there was less pain. He began to thrust in earnest, panting with the effort.

“Gool, gool, Lowki, gool.” He gasped with each thrust. It seemed relaxing my body increased his desire. I raised my hips as he thrust down, matching him each time.

It was not so difficult now, or so terrifying. I knew he did not wish to hurt me, so while I did not desire this for myself, I at least knew that I would survive it.

His manhood hit a spot inside of me the made a soft cry spill from my lips. I angled myself to try and make him hit it again. If I were to do this, why should I not make it feel as good as possible? I found the right angle and could not suppress a moan at the feeling. That spot was making things much easier. Thor was moaning in delight at my willingness. Fine. As long as he remembered how to achieve it, that was all that mattered. I could not be expected to be so energetic if he did not feed me.

He came with a cry, spilling his wetness deep inside of me. For a moment we lay together, just getting our breath back. Then he pulled out of my body and lay down beside me. I reached over and grabbed the bone. Thor watched as I crunched the bone open and licked at the marrow.

He reached out suddenly and took it from me. I made a noise of protest but could not stop him from scraping a little of the marrow into his mouth. The face he pulled made it obvious that he had never tried it before. He gave it back to me with a look that could only be described as ‘better you than me.’

His tribe, I thought, should be dead. They did not know how to run down a rabbit, they did not know about the marrow. They were nothing but savages. It was not fair that they wiped out my people when we were clearly vastly superior.

But the gods do not care for fairness. Their god made them strong, and ours abandoned us. I lay down in Thor’s arms and tried not to be angry. It was difficult, but at least my belly was full.

Tomorrow I would try to get a little more breakfast.

Chapter Text

The next morning I lay curled in Thor’s arms as his mother brought his breakfast. Thor was just about to scoop some of the grain-meal into his mouth when I beat him to it. I dipped my finger in and scooped up as much as I could. He turned to me, outrage on his face, but stopped when he saw me stick my whole finger in my mouth and suck the grain-meal off slowly. I licked my finger on all sides to get off every last drop. Thor’s face filled with desire.

By the time the bowl was empty and Thor pushed me onto my back, I had eaten about half of it. I hoped Thor would not notice his empty stomach today as that would increase my chances of success again tomorrow.

The Scourge was not happy with me. He had watched with a narrowed eye as I successfully convinced Thor to part with half of his breakfast. He had tried to say something at one point but Thor growled at him and proceeded to ravish me as his father watched with disapproval.

I looked at him over Thor’s shoulder and couldn’t help the smirk that crept onto my face. It was stupid. My position was far from secure, but the look of rage on The Scourge’s face gave me a warm feeling that made my skin tingle as my hips rolled upwards to meet Thor’s.

Afterwards in the field The Scourge hobbled as fast as he could, trying to make me stumble, but I was young and strong and I kept up with him easily. He sneered and shoved my bag at me.

I worked well for the morning, picking the ripe grains quickly and well. The grains were starting to fall to the ground, in another few weeks there would be none left to pick. I wondered what the tribe did once the ready supply was gone. I had not seen any other types of food so far. I hoped things would not get too scarce, or that there was another type of food yet to ripen that the tribe would eat. Otherwise we would be in for a bad winter and my chances of survival would be non-existent.

I lay on the ground during the midday rest time and idly pulled at the long grass. There were a few flowers just out of reach; I doubted The Scourge would let me pick them.

My attention was attracted by a boy about seven or eight years old. He came over to me with bold steps, but I could see the fear in his eyes. Behind him, trying to pretend they weren’t paying attention, sat his friends. He came close enough to talk.

“Erd yu ta Urgdu?” He asked.

I looked at him blankly. I had been picking up words here and there, but I did not recognise this one.

“Urgdu?” I repeated.

He hunched his back, held his arms out like claws and bared his teeth with a growl.

“Urgdu.” He said again.

Monster.

I shook my head.

“Du Urgdu.” I said, hoping that I had guessed the word ‘no’ correctly. Judging by how often I head it in relation to me I was fairly confident.

He turned his head to the side, thinking.

“Pwo wa erd yu den?” He asked.

I was puzzled. I thought I knew ‘what’ and ‘you’. Perhaps he was asking what I was?

“Jotun.” I said, naming my tribe. “I am Loki of the Jotun tribe.”

“Yo-ton.” He repeated. He was more relaxed now that I had not immediately turned into a ravaging beast and tried to kill him.

I nodded and pointed to myself.

“Loki.”

He did the same.

“Ullr.”

In the distance a woman noticed us.

“Ullr!” She shrieked, making my ears hurt.

“Gat radi grim Je!”

He darted back quickly, complaining to his mother as he did so.

“Madra! Da por foo chatta a je.”

“Da wier du! Yu sten radi grim je, hew yu listu da?!!” She snapped in reply.

“Jar Madra.” He said with his shoulders slumped as he walked back to his friends.

She turned on me with narrowed eyes.

“Hore.” She spat, first the word and then literally. I had to shift to avoid it landing on me.

“Flacks Sif, je hwew uy sort. Whe Thor gat slepi o je.” One of our guards said. It was the man who gave me rabbit on the first night. Thor called him Fandral. He was trying to calm her.

“Thor ould du hov tejen je.” She said angrily.

“Thor hwew wa je leas. Lat won, Lowki sten wit ah.” He replied.

She shot me a look of pure hatred and turned away. Fandral came to stand by me. He put his hand to his chest and said. “Fandral.”

I nodded.

“Loki.” I said, although neither one of us needed the introduction.

Fandral gave me a slow, oddly intimate look. His gaze took in my whole body and made me shift nervously. He saw my reaction and winked.

“To kan hwew seh.” He said with a confident smile.

I wasn’t sure what he meant but I turned away to indicate my lack of interest. I had no desire to be beaten by a jealous Thor, and he was just the type to lose his temper, I had already seen it. What puzzled me was that Fandral appeared to be one of Thor’s closest friends, surely he should know better than to look at me like that?

Apparently not, but he did not bother me again, for which I was grateful.

 

The hunters caught a few birds, but nothing substantial. I was taken once again to the rabbit grounds and waited for them to appear in numbers.

“Thor.” Said a female voice.

It was the woman from before, Sif. She smiled at him, clearly trying to acquire his interest. This was a problem. My life depended on Thor’s interest staying with me until I could get myself in a position to run. I could not afford a rival.

Thor turned her way but did not seem to respond as she would like.

“Whe hwew yu snitks wit da ghen? Ah kindri ledis undatha theor e steor.” She said.

Thor frowned and sighed. I would swear he look uncomfortable.

Da leas du a snitks wit yu.” He said. “Da leas a snitks wit Lowki.”

I heard my name and looked up at him. He smiled at me and rubbed my leg.

“Edel, Lowki leas a snitks wit Fandral.” Sif snapped.

Thor’s hand stilled. I could sense the anger come down upon him as though from the gods themselves. What did she say about me and Fandral?!!

Thor turned and scanned the group of men before him.

“Fandral?” He said in a too-calm, dangerous voice.

Fandral appeared. He did not look too concerned, which I took hope from.

“Jar Thor?”

“Wa id di da listu?” Thor asked, still horribly calm.

“Sif id chatta yrust du.” He said. “Da seh, ut da waydas seh. Da hew du maim.”

Thor was watching him with narrowed eyes. Sif looked back and forth between them nervously. So did I, my future depended on Thor believing Fandral over Sif, and I wasn’t even sure what they were saying. Something about looking, I could tell that much. What was snitks? It was important, and Thor didn’t like the idea of me ‘snitks’ Fandral…

No wait, I’m pretty sure I knew what it was. Damn. This was bad and getting worse. Unfortunately I had no good defence. Thor knew full well that I only lay with him willingly for the food he gave me, meaning a plea of attachment would not be the slightest bit convincing. The crowd was with Sif, they did not care that I brought in more food than I ate, I was an outsider, I was not supposed to be here. I should be dead, and they would have no trouble correcting this given half the chance.

Thor turned to his father, The Scourge, and asked him a question.

“Yu seh dem Dadra, hes Lowki seh Fandral? Hes je leas snitks wit je?”

I was dead. It was only a matter of how.

The Scourge smirked at me, which I deserved for being so smug that morning. He opened his mouth to announce my death sentence.

“O rous du.” Said Frigga from behind him. “Lowki fwa Fandral chatta. Pwo hes Lowki fwa Ullr.”

Her tone was dismissive, I realised that she was defending me. I gave her a small smile in gratitude.

The Scourge looked annoyed but to my surprise did not try to correct his woman.

Thor turned to the boy, who stood by his mother.

“Ullr?” He asked.

The boy shrugged awkwardly.

“Wei chatta, Madra hwew da uy. Je du urgdu, je Yo-ton.”

Not a monster, a Jotun. What a good boy.

The Scourge looked outraged, so did Sif. Thor held a hand out to Ullr and drew him into a hug.

“Niye som.” He said.

“Dadra.” Ullr said with a smile.

I should not have been surprised, Sif wanting Thor’s attention, Ullr’s bravery when confronting me. He was Thor’s son. But my trial was not yet over. Thor was still looking between me and Fandral with suspicion. Fandral looked mostly uncomfortable but also defiant. He knew we had barely spoken, we certainly had not tried to ‘snitks.’

I had only one option left. I hoped it worked.

“Da du seh Fandral.” I said, hoping that I had learnt the right words. “Da du leas snitks Fandral. Da du *stupid*.”

I did not look at Fandral, I did not want to rut with him. I wasn’t stupid.

I did not know their word for stupid, so I tried to make my meaning clear with my tone alone. Silently I begged for Thor to believe me.

Thor looked startled and pleased with me. The tribe looked stunned, apparently they had not been expecting me to pay attention when they spoke.

Thor relaxed then. He shook his head playfully at Fandral, who lowered his in a sign of submission.

“Apolo Thor.” He said with a small smile and an embarrassed shrug.

The argument had gone on too long. The light was too dim for rabbits. We walked back without them.

My meal that night was very small, but Thor saved a little bit of bird and let me eat it before we rutted. I had come close to death today, I was more than willing to make Thor feel wanted. In this place with this tribe a rumour could kill me in a moment. Thor was my only ally and I could not afford to lose his trust.

****

Thankfully the next few weeks were uneventful. Sif did not try again for Thor’s affections, although she clearly hated me, and The Scourge just glared at me whenever he saw me, which was unfortunately often. Frigga was kinder, she started bringing in bigger meals at breakfast when she could and would try to teach me words when we were out in the fields.

“Sten” she would say, stopping in place. “Uy” she would start walking again.

Stop and go. I would repeat the words back to her.

“Sten.” She said playfully as we walked. I stopped in place. She smiled broadly. “Uy.” She said and I started again.

“Gool Lowki, gool.” She praised.

I pointed at the grain. “What’s it called?” I asked, hoping she could interpret the question without understand my words.

“Whet” she said.

“Whet.” I repeated. “Grain.”

She laughed. “Grayen.” She said, trying to imitate me.

The Scourge grumbled under his breath at us but did not interrupt. He had lost his place as a leader when he lost the ability to hunt. Frigga had always been a good grain picker and was the oldest woman in the tribe. They still looked up to her with respect, far more so than they did her man. I had even seen her comforting Sif, and more surprising, that Sif had not turned away.

The grains were fewer now, they had fallen to the ground in number and had begun to disappear into the earth where they would be useless to us. We picked as many as we could that were left on the plants.

Our collection was low when it came to be judged at the end of the day. The hunters had not been successful in over a week. My rabbits were becoming a lifeline.

Good, they couldn’t afford to kill me.

That night by the fire Thor stood up and held up his hands. The tribe grew quiet and waited for him to speak.

“Wei uy ip iveh dawa.” He said.

I looked around at the faces of the tribe as he sat down. I did not know what he had said but they seemed to have been expecting it.

I turned to him with a questioning look.

He smiled at me and held up his hands between us.

“Wei.” He said, gesturing to everyone. “Uy.” He mimed walking with his fingers. Frigga had not told him that she had already explained ‘go’ to me. “iveh.” He continued, holding up his hand with the fingers outspread, he pointed to each one in turn “Onu, Donu Teveh Fenur *Iveh*. “Dawa, hmm.” He did not have an action for that one but I knew it from Frigga. All those mornings of greeting us had not gone unnoticed.

We go in five days.

“Uy hmm, *where*?” I asked. I did not know the word for ‘where’. I held up my hands, shrugged my shoulders and looked around me to try and indicate what I meant.

Thor smiled.

“A ah dover craw-erta.” He said.

To our something-hunt-something.

I stared at him in confusion. He shrugged and took my arm.

“Snitks” He said to me and tugged me away from the fire.

So one mystery had been solved. When the grain ran out the tribe moved on, but to where? I did not know and Thor could not tell me, not yet.

Chapter Text

The tribe began to pack up their things the next day. I was sent to the fields again to try and get some of the last grain. The Scourge went with me as Frigga took care of the camp.

We were not very successful, there was only so fast you could pick grain when it was so sparsely available. My bag was pitifully small. The others could move faster and had moved away from us to the areas so far unpicked, they would have slightly better luck there as there would be more grains that would not yet have fallen. Slowly, we lost sight of them. I did not think that that was meant to happen but no one cared much for an old man and a stranger.

The Scourge worked doggedly. He too could see how little we collected and seemed troubled. I realised that I was not the only one in this camp whose meals were dependent upon a plentiful supply.

We worked in silence, both determined to fill our bags as much as possible. When midday came The Scourge did not want to stop to rest. Neither did I, but for some time now I had had one eye on the treetops. The hunters had been returning with more and more birds as the bigger game left the plains, I was quite good at hunting birds, and I wanted to try my luck.

But I would have to convince The Scourge.

I watched him out of the corner of my eye until he became aware of my scrutiny.

"Wa?" He snapped.

I looked over at the trees and pointed.

"Birds." I said. "Da craw birds."

His eye narrowed.

"Yu hew wa yu dold." He said.

I tugged on the rope connecting us.

"Da craw dem, da craw iveh dem."

I hunt them, I hunt five of them.

At least I hoped that's what I said.

He looked suspicious. Five was a big number and I had no weapon.

"Powe?" He asked.

I thought he was asking me how I meant to do so, so I bent and scooped up a stone from the ground. It was not perfect, but how often do the gods provide a perfect stone?

I pointed to a piece of grain stalk that was taller than the rest.

"Seh." I said and threw the stone with a quick flick of my wrist.

It took the top off the stalk. I breathed a sigh of relief. I was good, but not perfect, if I had missed then I would have no chance of convincing him.

"Da craw dem." I said again.

He regarded me thoughtfully, then looked at the bare stalks that surrounded us.

"Hinahden, goinat liep flacks yu hwew hewr craw, ut i yu craw du wei uy a pwuk whet ghen." He said.

Permission seemed to be given. He made his way to the trees with me trailing behind him. I searched the ground for suitable stones to throw. When I had three of them, I kept two in one hand and weighed the third carefully in the other.

We crept quietly beneath the trees, searching for a good kill. The Scourge was light on his feet, his old hunting instincts were not so gone despite his reduced circumstances. His one eye scanned the treetops and his head would turn at the noises of the birds, trying to pinpoint their location.

He pointed before I did, spotting a good sized bird in the branches. He froze utterly as I slowly drew back my arm and sent a prayer to my god for a quick kill.

The stone hit true and the bird fell. We both took off towards it as fast as we could. I landed on it solidly just as it was struggling to its feet. A quick snap of the neck made it ours.

For a moment we just looked at one another, both silently enjoying the kill that we were not meant to have made, then The Scourge turned away and began to scan the trees again.

We did go back the grain eventually. We had to, the tribe would be angry if we did not come back with what we had been sent to get. But later again that day we crept back to the trees and I hunted again. It felt good to do so, running down rabbits was a children's game. I had only continued with it because I was so fast and agile. Hunting the birds was a test of true skill.

The Scourge was pleased, although he tried not to show it. I had managed four birds and we were trying for the fifth. I was pleased that my claim would prove to be accurate rather than boasting.

This tribe was not good at small hunts. The weeks I had spent with them had made it clear that the men were better suited to the big game. I had no doubt that in the right season even the slowest of this tribe would be tasting meat. But the lean times were harder on them. They should have been storing some food when they had it, or preparing to move on sooner. I wondered how many children they had lost to hunger over the years.

The Scourge pointed at another bird. I drew back my arm and threw the stone. It landed true and we ran to catch the bird as it fell. The Scourge held me back slightly as he was too slow but I still managed to grab it as it tried to fly back to the trees. I snapped its neck and smiled. Success, I had caught more birds on my own than two or three hunters together. Then I saw The Scourge's face. He looked alarmed.

I turned and found myself being watched by a bear. It looked very, very angry.

I ran, so did The Scourge. The bear tore after us through the trees. The Scourge was falling behind; if he fell then we were both dead. I reached back and grabbed his arm, pulling him with me as I fled away from the bear.

My father told me that when a bear chased you it was probably a mother and you got too close to its young. If that was the case you had to run and keep running. It would not want to leave the cubs so if you could stay ahead of it eventually it would stop and turn back.

I could still hear it. Beside me The Scourge was gasping for breath. My heart thundered in my chest as I pushed myself even faster.

A moment later we were cleared of the trees and racing across the plains. I saw the group making its way back to the camp. The hunters on watch saw us and started forwards, only to stop as Sif held her hand out and said something. She was watching with delight in her eyes.

The bear was getting closer, I could hear it. It was not stopping or turning back. Beside me The Scourge was drawing great heaving breaths.

The tribe sent the women and children back to the camp. But one child did not turn away with the others. Ullr broke from the group and ran towards us, waving a stick high in the air.

If I had breath to shout I would have told him to run back but I could barely keep myself going. Sif shrieked in terror as the hunters ran forwards towards him.

The Scourge and I had the same thought, we both pulled to the side in an effort to lure the bear away from him, but unfortunately we pulled in opposite directions. The rope between us pulled taunt and I felt it cut into my waist as we both reached its limit.

Then an impact threw me off my feet. The bear had hit the rope as it rose between us. It had caught the rope in its snout and let out a squeal of pain as it cut into the soft flesh at the back of its mouth.

The hunters came at it then, catching up with Ullr who had already thrown his stick to no effect. They were more successful, and jammed their spears into its flanks. Here against the big game I could see their skill. They worked in a perfectly coordinated team to bring it down. It was breathtaking, or would have been if I wasn't still in mortal danger.

I stayed on the ground and tried to avoid being pulled into the middle of the fighting. On the other side of the bear The Scourge did the same. It still had the rope in its mouth and every thrash it gave pulled one of us closer. We kept scrambling back the second we were able.

The fatal blow came from a man named Hogun, who I had yet to see smile once in the entire time I had been there. His spear jammed into the neck of the bear and a gush of blood flowed. It fought on for a few minutes more but each thrash was weaker than the last. When it became too weak to move, Hogun finished it by ramming his spear through its eye to the skull beneath.

Sif came running up and snatched Ullr into an embrace.

"Yu doofoo kindri!" She screeched. "Yu hwew hav bund fruk!"

Which is how I learned their word for stupid.

"Ni por roondi da Gadadra." Ullr protested, pushing her away. He turned and threw himself into The Scourge’s arms. The Scourge was still gulping air. He looked exhausted.

I felt the same way. As the fear drained from my body I realised that my limbs felt shaky and my knees were wobbling.

I sat down again as the hunters gathered around and congratulated Hogun on his kill.

My birds seemed almost insignificant in comparison. The bear would make several fine meals over the next few days. I did not begrudge the kill, I was grateful for it, but how was I to prove myself valuable to the tribe if they took such large kills on the very day I had taken the birds?

I rested for some time more as the tribe began to butcher the bear. They were halfway done when Thor returned with the other hunters. He slapped Hogun on the back with good humour and sat to listen to the story.

The Scourge told it. I did not understand most of it but Thor's face darkened when The Scourge got to the first response of the tribe. His eyes almost fell out of his head when The Scourge mentioned Ullr, who was still sitting in his grandfather's lap.

Thor turned to the boy and pulled him into a tight hug.

"Yu erd woo mini lat craw paar Ullr." He said to him.

Ullr pulled a face.

"Da leas a bu mase yu." He said.

Thor hugged him again and turned back to The Scourge for the rest of the story. The Scourge described the moment with the rope, which I knew because he supplied actions. Thor's face made me laugh, which drew his attention. He looked over at me as he held his son. They had the same blue eyes and very similar features.

I realised that I had never laughed with him before. I stopped, embarrassed, but found myself giggling again a moment later as The Scourge went back to describing the way the bear ran face first into our rope.

"Ni por ta gool rikip, I wei hew ni la urpot.” Hogun said in his serious manner.

I wasn't sure what he said but there was some agreement from the hunters who had witnessed what had happened.

Thor listened until the end, then a frown crossed his features.

"Wa yu hew ip liep trorres?" He asked.

The Scourge looked slightly guilty. I looked back and forwards between them trying to work out what had been said. Then The Scourge rose and came to me. He reached into my bag and pulled out the birds.

"Lowki por craw liep urkes. Wei du hav smil wit liep whet." He said.

The tribe looked angry.

"Yu mamut je hav ta frukit?!" One of them asked.

"Pwo hes Thor, whe je chatmut je a craw liep prara." Odin answered calmly.

"Je hwewre hav fruk ah." Sif snapped.

Odin gave her a look that contained a lot of emotions, none of them good.

"Je por was lohin sloe induf a fruk da, fwa yu hew du osso a hav ta maim wit da ded whe liep berid por roondi ah." He said.

I looked back and forth between them in bewilderment, I understood only a few words although from the tone I knew Odin was angry with Sif.

Thor held up his hands.

"Sten. I je hwew craw urkes den wei ould mamut je, wei hwew du smil la berid. Urkes erd getta oten dan berid, inspicla whe wei mud a liep craw-erta. Wa hes je craw wit?"

This last question was said to The Scourge.

"Ta ruk, ta squa ruk." He said. "Je tot dem fwa fruk liep urkes grim liep trorress. Je gool craw mini metts." He answered.

Thor nodded.

"Wei hwew esu je. Je hwew etch ah."

"Du!" Shouted one of the hunters. "Da hwew du ertche grim ta urgdu!"

He didn’t want me to do something, but I didn’t know what it was.

"Den yu ould du at liep dool je craw." The Scourge said calmly.

For a moment I could see the former leader in him, he seemed taller, with a calmness that comes with power. Thor did not have that yet, but then he was still young.

"Da dadra id hinahden. I yu hew du leas a ertche a craw, den yu hwew du at wa je fruk." Thor said.

"Da hwew hav berid." The hunter replied. His manner was dismissive.

Thor just nodded.

"Hinhahden." He said and rose. "Wei uy, ni id derk fwa liep berid ledis mud a hom."

Everyone carried some bear, even me, although they made sure to give me a heavy load which made my shaky limbs ache. I made it back regardless and had to suppress a pleased smile.

Thor gave me one of my birds openly by the fire. I cleaned it utterly of its flesh and gnawed on the marrow as the bear was shared with everyone else. Ullr was given a large piece for a child and spent the night being fussed over by Sif and admired by his friends. The Scourge ate a bird and some bear, both of which he shared generously with Frigga.

I had not realised before, but the two of them together was usual in this tribe. The men would pursue the women who were not with child or nursing, and the women would choose from among them.

But those two loved one another. It was clear in the way they spoke to one another, in the way they held their arms out to greet each other and tonight, in the way The Scourge lovingly pulled the flesh from his serving and placed it in Frigga's bowl before taking so much as a bite.

For a moment I found myself overcome with longing for such a love. A woman of Frigga's age could not bear children, a man The Scourge's age could not hunt, and yet they took care of one another. I had no doubt that it was this love that kept them alive.

But that was not for me, I belonged to Thor. My only hope of survival was to either escape him and strike out on my own, or make myself so useful to the tribe they did not kill me even when Thor's interest waned.

Thor was in a good mood. His arm was slung around my waist as the tribe sang songs and danced. His voice was deep and boomed above the crowd as he sang. There was a tune there, but I did not know it.

Thor pulled me away from the crowd a little while later and took me back to the cave. Frigga had packed away most of it and we were left with only a sleeping fur. The other things sat neatly on the side for carrying. There was not much.

Thor set his stone hammer down and wrapped his arms around me. He loved that hammer, he was never seen without it. It was a good tool, but I would have preferred he use more knives. When I went, I would not be able to raid much, it would be easier if what I needed was among Thor's things.

He kissed me hard and squeezed my thighs. I responded by pushing up against him and wrapping my arms around his neck.

He kissed me again and fumbled with one hand for the fat. At least Frigga had thought to leave it out. His slicked fingers rubbed against my manhood a few times before he pushed between my legs. I breathed deeply and tried to relax as he stretched me open.

When I was ready, Thor pulled back and rubbed some of the fat along his length. He smiled down at me and pushed himself inwards. I gave a soft moan and angled my back to try and find that spot within me. Thor knew what I wanted by now and shifted his hips around to help. I gasped when he hit it, and he grinned openly in response, rubbing himself up and down against it with strong, confident motions. I lay back and tried to keep myself relaxed for him.

His hand snuck between us and encircled my manhood. He began to stroke it in time with his thrusts.

To my horror I began to respond.

This was not right, this was not what I wanted.

I reached down and put my hands over his, trying to push him off.

“No.” I gasped. “Thor no.”

He did not stop, his large calloused hand slowly undid me, pushing me closer and closer to the edge until I was fighting my spill with everything that I had. My hands were useless against his superior strength. My arms seemed to move in time with his, from the outside it was hard to tell whether I was trying to stop him or encourage him.

My efforts were not enough. I let out a cry as I spilled my wetness across my stomach. My body squeezed down on Thor’s and he found his own release in that moment. For a second we simply lay there, out of breath and locked together, then he pulled out of me and grabbed the edge of the fur. He wiped my wetness from my stomach and wrapped me in his arms to sleep.

Thor was happy, of course he was, but I was horrified. It was one thing to submit in a bargain, but enjoy myself? To spill my own wetness on my body as he spilled his inside me?

Behind me Thor grunted in his sleep and tightened his grip around my body. I lay in the darkness and listened to the sounds of the tribe outside until Frigga and The Scourge came to bed.

****

Thor took me hunting the next day. I was tied to his waist as the group of hunters made their way across the plains and to a rocky outcrop where they could observe the land around them. Thor watched me with serious eyes. He was taking a risk with me, one that could be disastrous for his leadership if it went wrong. I found myself unwilling to fail him. He was a good, if somewhat impulsive leader. His youth would calm itself with time if given the chance.

He and I gathered a decent number of rocks to throw, and then as a group we set off through the wooded area as silently as possible.

I knocked the birds from the trees and the hunters ran to catch them before they could recover. It was a good system. There were a few hunters who also tried their hands at throwing, with varying levels of success. They were far more willing to praise one another than me, but I was expecting it.

Thor was not good at it, although he should have been. He had a way of throwing that looked quite awkward and out of place. As the day drew on he became more and more frustrated with his efforts. Finally, it was too much for his temper, he picked up his hammer and threw it at the nearest bird.

Now I understood why his style was so strange. He was used to throwing that great weight on the end of a stick which made his handling of lighter objects awkward and faulting.

There was a squawk as the hammer hit the bird and knocked it clear out of the tree.

Thor and I exchanged a look and went to see the result.

The poor thing had been squashed under the hammer, its wings were sticking out either side and its legs were pointing straight up.

We regarded it for a moment, then I started to giggle.

Thor looked up at me, outraged, then a smile began to curl on his mouth. A moment later he began to chuckle deep in his chest. We stood there and laughed at the sight of the bird and the hammer until the other hunters found us and we had to move on.

The next time Thor drew back his hand to throw a stone I reached up and covered it. As he watched I moved his arm the correct way for throwing, going through the moves slowly so that he would be able to learn it.

He did not get any better that day, but that night I saw him practising his throws by the edge of the camp, and I got to eat bird again.

****

We left on the fifth day, as Thor had decided. I was loaded up with anything that the tribe did not wish to carry. Thor allowed it; he needed to make concessions to them in exchange for his frankly stupid idea of keeping me as winter approached. I just focussed on the set of feet in front of me as we walked and tried not to show how heavy my burden was.

We walked all day, and ate from our meagre supplies that night. The bear had been good for the tribe, giving them a little fat before they set out on their journey, but a little fat was all it was. The tribe was not good at hunting for tomorrow.

I was exhausted by the time we stopped that night. The weight on my shoulders was making me stumble. Thor noticed, and helped me set everything down as the tribe spread out and made sure the stopping place was secure.

I rubbed my shoulders to relieve the ache within them. I did not know how long we would be travelling, and I did not want to ask in front of the tribe in case they thought I was complaining.

We ate little that night and fell to sleep without singing any songs.

In total we walked for twelve days before we stopped for more than a night. It was a large cave that looked out over the area from a good height. Thor managed to mime that this was a temporary place where we could gather and eat some food for a while before going further again. I did not care, I was too tired to do more than lie back and rest.

The following morning I cared greatly.

We were at the far end of my tribe's land. This was right near the place that The Scourge had killed my father and where he lost his eye. The river that we considered to be the boundary was just below the hill.

I knew now why Thor's tribe had killed mine. We had been pushing into this area for years, going deeper and further in our quest for bigger game. Thor's tribe must have noticed our increased presence as the years went by until they finally tracked us back to our camp and killed us. It was a harsh world; they could not afford the competition.

I looked out over the familiar grounds with a deep sadness. A part of me longed to go running home, I knew the way so well. Deep in my mind I felt as though if I made it then they would be there to welcome me. But they were not. They were dead and I belonged to the man responsible.

Thor came to sit beside me as I looked out over the river that made its way out of the trees and through the rocky divide.

"Wei craw dawa." He said.

I nodded, but could not hide my mood.

"Yu erd grif." He said.

I turned to him in confusion. I didn't know that word.

"Grif." He said again and touched my cheeks. They were damp, I'd been crying and not even realised it.

"Yu tier grim grif." He said gently.

I swallowed hard. Despite my feelings I could not afford to anger him.

Thor left me to sit while he went to organise the hunters. I scanned the forest, hoping for a sign that my people were not truly gone. I was not successful.

I heard footsteps behind me. For a moment I thought they were Thor's judging by their softness, but a moment later Ullr came to sit beside me.

He smiled a little shyly and held up a flat stone.

"Hwew yu etch da a tot?" He asked me, miming the throwing action.

I placed my hand over his and showed him the correct way to flick his wrist. He practiced a few times against the wall of the cave, trying to hit a shallow hole in the side while I corrected him occasionally when he needed it.

Thor came to watch us. He looked please as his son came ever closer to hitting his target.

"Gool Ullr, gool. Yu hwew bu ta crawa sort." He said.

Ullr beamed.

Thor reached out, took my arm and pulled me close. In his other hand he held a rope. The arrangement was fine for bird hunting, but if they found big game I would be a problem for Thor. He did not seem to mind though as he tied the rope around my waist and connected the other end to his. He smiled at me, and leaned in and gave me a kiss. He had not fed me well, but then there was little food, so I allowed it. I could always stop if he didn't feed me soon.

We set out down the side of the rocks and made our way to the river bank. We were about to cross into my tribe's territory. I was so close to home, and yet even if I ran now and successfully got away I would never see it again.

I set my thoughts toward finding food and tried to block out anything else. The hunter group waded the river, moved into the trees on the other side and began to search the ground for tracks. I held a rock in each hand and kept my eyes on the treetops.

Throughout the day I knocked two birds down and Fandral tracked and killed a fox. It was not much after so long, and I was not hopeful of any for myself as we made our way back.

Well, there was one thing I could definitely have. I spotted a juniper bush in fruit. I moved towards it and pulled a handful of the berries off and stuffed them in my mouth before anyone thought to stop me.

Thor came over and started to pick the berries. We were joined a second later by the other hunters. I stopped eating them and started gathering with them. We stripped the bush in record time and set off back to the camp.

I kept an eye out for other foods but did not see any. It didn't dampen my sudden burst of good feeling. Despite everything, I was on my home land and I knew that here I could survive.

We shared the berries with the tribe. Everyone managed to have a small handful, but that was all. The hunters had the birds and fox. I did not get anything, and Thor found his favourite activity less enjoyable as a result. He rubbed and kissed at my neck and murmured words that sounded to me like an apology, but I was unmoved. I could not afford to give in easily and lay unresponsive on the fur.

There was another thing that troubled me here. We were all in one cave here, we had no place of our own. My fear of becoming entertainment to the tribe had come true.

Several of them watched openly as Thor took me. Fandral gave me a grin and a wink when I caught his eye. I lay as stiffly as I could and tried not to let the embarrassment show on my face.

After he was done, Thor threw an arm over me and seemed to notice our audience for the first time.

He frowned at them and they all suddenly found other things they would rather look at. Except for Sif, she snorted at us.

"Da hwew du seh liep leas, je hwew du mud lat yu." Her tone was dismissive.

Thor ignored her and pressed me close to him, but he was in a bad mood for the rest of the night.

The next day Thor tied me to The Scourge again and left with the hunters. Clearly I had not pleased him with my public reluctance. I did not protest, I did not want to anger him further.

The Scourge, along with a large group of the tribe, headed down to the ground and made their way across the river to forage. One of them found another juniper bush and they moved to strip it. When I reach forwards, Sif slapped my hand away. I back off and waited while The Scourge tried to get as much as possible. The coming of winter was making everyone selfish, but then those who could not provide their own food were a burden who should die for the good of the tribe. As far as Sif was concerned, that meant me.

The Scourge and I wandered away from the group. I was still looking for birds to kill, and he scanned the wood for other bushes.

With my eyes pointed upwards, I was the one who stepped into the stream.

My foot sank into the sudden chill and I lost my balance, tumbling completely into the water. The Scourge managed to stay dry but was pulled quite close to the edge.

I crawled out of the water and up the bank. My skin was chilled and I rubbed my arms to try and create warmth. Stupid, I'd been stupid, letting my attention grow too focussed on above me.

The Scourge did not say anything, but continued walking in an effort to find food. I followed him feeling very subdued as I tried not to shiver.

We were unsuccessful, and our return to the camp was difficult for both of us. Thor did not share any food with me. He was still annoyed that I was so unresponsive to him in front of the tribe, but he knew as well as I did that my cooperation could only be bought, not given. I sat and tried to shake off the cold that seemed to have crept into my bones.

Frigga shared her food with The Scourge. He ate half of what she'd given him before pushing the other half back to her. His meaning was clear, he did not want her to suffer for his lack of skill. I found myself wishing once again for that kind of affection.

Thor, by contrast, ate his kill with big mouthfuls and the occasional sideways glance, to make sure I was aware of what he had. I sat quietly by his side and tried not to let him hear my stomach as it growled. I was still cold, and very uncomfortable.

Thor did not lie with me. He took Sif's hand instead and led her to his bed. I was left sitting by the fire. A few members of the tribe looked at me with glee, delighting in my change of circumstances.

I stayed as close to the fire as I could that night, sleeping on the ground as the noises of Thor's rutting echoed behind me.

I was worried. If he was losing interest then my time was growing short, and I still hadn't managed to secure a knife, or anything else I would need to survive on my own.

The next morning Thor was still angry. Sif looked triumphant. I was tied to The Scourge again, but I did not know whether Thor had decided to keep me or was just going through the motions.

The Scourge was angry at me too. He stomped his way through the trees, trying to leave me behind but he was not fast enough. I scanned for fruits and foods with a sense of desperation. I had not eaten since the juniper berries the day before yesterday, and I could feel the weakness in my limbs.

We moved further away from the main group again. They would not let us join in harvesting their finds. We wandered for most of the day, I was growing tired and starting to stumble.

It was the afternoon when we found the tree. It had fruit, yellow in colour and tart in flavour. I called them api, The Scourge called them pilels. We stood beneath the branches and stared at them.

The lowest branch was not low enough. I could try climbing the trunk but not when tied to The Scourge, I was also feeling very tired. We looked at one another in despair.

"Liep tong." The Scourge said to me. He took out his knife and cut himself free. I watched him in surprise as he tied his spear to the end of the rope and took aim.

At first I thought he had missed, the spear sailed over the lowest branch and to the other side, but then I saw his plan. He grabbed the spear and pulled the rope taunt.

I went to the tree and started to climb the trunk. The Scourge pulled down with his weight as I climbed, making it easier for me to get up into the branches. I climbed until I was secure and reached out to pick the fruit.

I picked until the sun began to set. I filled my bag which I lowered to the forest floor and hauled up The Scourge's to replace it.

By the time we set off for the camp it was getting dark. We stayed close to one another as we carefully tracked back through the forest to the river.

I could see the fire of the camp in the distance. We made our way slowly and carefully up the rocks. The Scourge muttered something. I heard the name 'Frigga' and saw that his face looked worried. I did not understand, if anything, she would be worried about him.

Which made him worry about her. Someone should immortalise their love in a song.

She was waiting for us at the entrance. Her cry of relief at the sight of The Scourge was enough to bring a smile to my face and tears to my eyes.

To my surprise I found myself wrapped in a hug. Thor pulled me into an embrace and held me tightly. The warmth of his body felt wonderful after the coldness of the night air. I looked up at him from where I stood, my green eyes meeting his blue ones.

I raised my bag and showed him the fruit. He responded by kissing me deeply. I returned it, I had already helped myself to some fruit when picking them, as had The Scourge. We might be undervalued but we were not stupid.

Thor shared a little of his kill with me. It was a vole, which he'd trapped using a skin. Something like that anyway, I did not fully understand his mimes but it didn't matter, his interest had returned.

That night I swallowed my pride and moved with him, kissing him hard as he filled me with his thrusts.

Chapter Text

There was a new type of economy to the food now that the foraging was more varied. The api were highly prized, and The Scourge made several good trades for berries, roots and a little meat. Thor took my bagful and traded for me. If I had done it myself I would not have been able to get anything at all.

This kind of trading meant that those who were fortunate with their finds would eat well, and those who were not would go hungry. It made sense. Food was growing scarcer every day as the cold grew in strength. Thor shared in my finds as I, and by extension everything I found, was his. At least I ate well enough to go out each day. I did not know what would happen to those who grew too weak to gather food, maybe they were just left to die.

For four days I went with The Scourge. Thor had not taken me hunting again, perhaps the other hunters did not like it, and a good headman minded the whisperings of the tribe.

We frequently strayed from the main group, which in itself carried a great risk. But the rewards, when they came, were better with only two of us, or rather, three of us. Frigga had not allowed The Scourge out of her sight since we came back so late. She insisted on going with us as we wandered even though the danger was greater.

“Onu ta berid, den yu sten radi prida derk. Yu fritlin da woo nech.” She said, shaking her head at him.

The Scourge looked both pleased and embarrassed, a peculiar combination that showed a great deal of love in his eye.

I swallow hard and tried to ignore it. That was not for me.

The three of us managed to gather enough food to get by, but not much more. Thor brought back small kills, birds and rodents mostly, it was not looking good for the tribe.

After four days, Thor didn’t come back at all.

Neither did any of the other hunters. The tribe was not concerned, if they were tracking big game they would not come back simply because it was dark. I knew this well myself. Frigga was a little worried, as a mother would be about her son, but I was not.

Well, a little.

A very little.

Mostly because I normally slept in Thor’s bed but without him here I did not have permission.

If he didn’t come back I would have no meat. I liked meat.

Although if he got killed my life would end quickly so meat wasn’t really an issue.

I was allowed to worry about dying, that was normal.

So was being worried about the bed, the ground was hard and the fire only warmed one side of me at a time, so I had to keep rolling over.

I did not even have a small fur to call my own. I needed him back for that.

But aside from all those extremely practical concerns, I was definitely not worried.

I lay on the ground and tried to keep all of me warm by rolling over a lot. The members of the tribe had started wearing proper fur clothing, not just loincloths, but I did not have anything like that. I did have some back at my old home, but that was far away and no-one was going to let me go and get it.

I tried not to shiver as the cold wind blew through the cave. I hoped I would not get the black freeze on my fingers and toes. I had seen hunters who did, and they were not hunters anymore. I tucked my fingers under my armpits and curled my toes up. As a child I had been terrified of the sight of the black freeze. One man had a whole black hand and he used to try and grab us children with it when we were naughty.

A sudden warmth made me jump. A small fur had been placed across my back.

I turned and found myself looking into Frigga’s blue eyes, they were so much like Thor’s, and filled with kindness.

“Thankyou.” I said.

She smiled.

“Yu erd hebton.” She replied.

I slept better then.

****

The hunters were still gone the next day, and the day after. The rest of the tribe were starting to get worried now. Such a delay could still be normal, but with the cold biting and the headman gone, there was an extra amount of worry. If they did not come back who would be the leader? Sif in particular spent a lot of time watching Ullr closely, he was still a boy and without Thor it would be easy to get rid of him and end the line of succession. I had been lucky in my own tribe that Helblindi, my father’s brother, had no children of his own and raised me with the role of headman in mind.

When would the tribe move on? If the hunters did not come back at some point the decision would have to be made. Frigga moved among the women, calming them and reminding them that three days was not very long. Odin watched the men for signs of a move to be the new headman.

And I watched everyone. I had no doubt that if someone else took over, I would be killed. It was a good move politically and would be popular even among those who still wished to support the absent Thor. I saw more than a few glances in my direction. As time went on those glances grew bolder, and I grew more afraid.

On the fourth day, the hunters came back.

Thor climbed up to the cave with a small whole stag over his shoulders and a grin on his face. The other hunters carried what looked to be pieces of a larger stag, butchered already. I was relieved at the sight. Of the food that is, definitely the food. I would eat well with food like that, even as the lowest person of the tribe.

Thor’s eyes found me and his grin widened. I realised that I was returning it and quickly covered my mouth. It was too late, he’d seen. I waited until he dropped his cargo and stepped into his embrace. He kissed me hard and wanting, not even greeting his parents as he drew me to his bedding. I made a slight noise of protest, surely he would want to greet the tribe? He really should…

The tribe took great enjoyment in watching us, which I did not like but could not help. Thor was enthusiastic after so long away and he moved like a beast above me. By the time he was done my hair was sticking straight upwards, my face and neck were almost clean from his spit and I had red marks rising where he had squeezed and nipped at my flesh. My hole felt sore and tender even with the fat.

I saw the crowd and blushed. Several of them were grinning widely, and slapped Thor on the back when he got up, either to congratulate him for the kill or for the display I was not sure.

The only person who hadn’t been watching was Fandral, he was making his own fun in the corner with a woman whose name I could not remember. He was taking her from behind and looked up briefly as I climbed back to my feet.

His eyes met mine and he winked, not halting his thrusts for a moment.

I turned away and made my way back to the front of the cave where the meat was being divided up, trying to flatten my hair as I did so.

Thor had killed the small stag alone, he carved up the meat with a large knife, slicing the flesh from the bones, and gave Frigga and The Scourge a good portion. Another portion went to Sif and Ullr, and the rest he hung up, using branches, for himself and hopefully, me.

Then he took me again.

I may have moaned but I did not enjoy it. Even when he hit that spot again and again and agai– well, I mostly did not enjoy it. I did not harden or spill. I had not since that first time, although Thor tried to make me. I knew that if we were alone then I would find it much more difficult to control myself, the sight of those watching eyes was enough to hold me back.

After the second time he went to put some meat on the fire to cook. The other kill was divided up to the hunters and those they wished to feed. Fandral had the worst of it. He had four children by different women. To his credit, he did give them all a portion, even if that meant they all had a little, including him. His current woman of choice also got some, and I had no doubt that by this time next year she would have born his fifth child.

Thor didn’t take his hands off me all night. He kept rubbing my flanks and kissing my neck. I let him. The stag was delicious, it had eaten well in preparation for the winter and that meant it had lots of fat. I saw Frigga drizzling the liquid fat into a bowl and setting it aside to cool and go solid. That was for us, I realised, for Thor and my rutting.

The mood was light and cheerful, songs were sung and couples reunited. In Thor’s and my case, for the third time that night.

“You should just take me with you next time.” I said as he pulled me in for a hug afterwards.

He did not understand but then he was too tired to care even if he did. I slept well that night, Thor’s bed was more comfortable than the ground and though his body was not warmer than the fire, it did surround me completely.

****

Frigga was on a mission. I did not realise it at first but she pulled Thor aside the next day as we assembled to go foraging. The hunters who had stayed behind had now left to catch more game and Thor’s hunters were to be our guards.

Frigga spoke to him for a long time. I knew I was the topic because she frequently gestured towards me as she spoke. Thor turned and regarded me thoughtfully for a moment as I stood tied to The Scourge. Then he took the fur clock from his shoulders and wrapped it around mine.

“Da hwew gat yu doum plet wippes sort.” He said.

I will get you something. I wondered what. Hopefully some more clothing, I was the only one left who was not covered completely. At night the woman had carefully stitched their children’s clothing so that it fit for the winter, some had needed extra fur which they had taken from their blankets.

Frigga stayed in the camp that day, as we set off in search of food.

I noticed a strange thing as we foraged. With Thor as our guard the other members of the tribe did not slap away The Scourge’s hand anymore. They gave me distrustful and outright angry looks, but they did not turn me away either. Instead they stripped my part of the bush as fast as possible, then crowded me out of the other side. After a while, The Scourge and I began to drift further away.

Thor saw us, and called us back. We came with identical grumbles under our breath. For a moment we looked at one another, startled, then turned away.

Thor was actually making our gathering more difficult. He did not let us stray far which in the past allowed us a better collection. We were both in a bad mood as the day ended.

My bag was pathetically light. Thor seemed to sense my unhappiness and put his arm around my shoulders in comfort as we made our way back to the camp.

The hunters had brought back a few birds, but had not picked up any trails. They told Thor:

“Wei hwew hewr ghen dawa-awa.”

Which I think meant they were planning to hunt again tomorrow in the hope of finding better game.

We were lying together, almost asleep, when Ullr appeared at his father’s shoulder.

“Niye som.” Thor said sleepily. “Wa id ni?”

He was looking at me, I realised. Actually, he was looking at a very specific part of me.

“Je id ta kan.” He said.

He is a man.

Thor nodded.

“Jar.”

Ullr frowned in confusion. I did not realise, but he must have thought I was a woman, and that my appearance, all of my appearance, was due to me being from another tribe. He must have been watching the other day when Thor so enthusiastically greeted me after his hunt.

“Whi yu snitks wit ta kan?” He asked.

Thor seemed to think this over. I too was wondering why he kept me around, surely he could find his pleasure with a woman of the tribe, in fact I knew Sif was very willing.

“Da… *ledis* je.” He said. “Da… leas je peni.”

He wanted me, I knew he said that, but that first word was unknown to me. Ullr seemed to think it over.

“Hew yu amor je?” He asked.

Another word I did not know.

Thor nodded with a small smile.

“Da hew, Ullr, da hew.”

Ullr nodded in understanding, although I was still utterly lost. Then he reached forward over his father and, lighting fast, reached out and touched my hair. He checked his fingers after he’d done it, possible to see if the black had stayed on. Then he smiled shyly at me.

“Den da hwew amor je woo.” He said.

Thor gave him a hug and he went back to his mother.

I caught Sif’s eye, expecting to see a glare, instead, she looked smug, and dangerous. Her smile widened when she saw me looking and I quickly lay down, blocking her view. I did not want to know what had made her so happy, whatever it was it could not be good for me.

****

Thor stayed with us as a guard for the next few days. As a result, I gathered less food than I ate, a dangerous position to be in. Thor seemed to notice the way the tribe would try to shut me out but did not correct them. I thought he would like to, but my presence was a constant source of irritation for the tribe and as their headman Thor had to choose his battles carefully.

He began to allow us to wander further from the group, to give us a chance of finding some food and getting as much of it into our bags as we could before the rest of the tribe noticed and came running.

We found another api tree. This time I was stronger and climbed up without help, but the rope did not allow me to reach the higher branches and The Scourge could not climb. He glanced quickly back at the tribe, Thor had noticed us but they had not. The Scourge dug into a pocket and pulled out his knife. He slashed the rope and let me free.

I grabbed as many api as I could, stuffing them into my bag until it bulged. Thor had said nothing; in fact he appeared to be deliberately directing the tribe in the other direction. I lowered my bag and The Scourge attached his to the rope.

I was just finishing when I heard the sound of an impact, followed by a squawk. From my vantage point I saw Ullr dart through the trees and throw himself on top of a bird as it struggled to rise. He had hit it with a stone. Thor came after him quickly, reaching out to grab his child and, I had no doubt, scold him for running away from the group.

Ullr was still trying to snap the bird’s neck, it was flapping wildly in his arms. Thor reached out and grabbed it, twisting quickly. He stood there with his arms folded as he looked down at his boy. I did not hear what was said but Ullr looked down and addressed the ground. Thor knelt and reached out to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. Whatever he said made Ullr smile, and they walked out of sight together.

I finished picking the api and climbed back down. The Scourge was beaming happily. He would have much to trade again. With the api and the meat from Thor, things were looking good for him and Frigga.

We made our way back to the group, most of whom looked furious at our full bags. Thor gave me a grin and walked with me back to the camp. Ullr carried his bird with pride all over his face. Sif looked pleased too, he boy was going to be a good hunter.

That night Thor traded my api around for some other types of food, and we ate well and sang songs by the fire. I knew some of their tunes now, although I did not know what I was singing most of the time.

The next morning, Frigga presented me with some clothes, stitched from stag hide, rabbit fur and bear fur. I pulled them on and held still as she carefully stitched it to fit snugly. It was important to have clothes that fit, loose clothes allowed the wind to blow inside and tight clothes would rip and become useless. I thanked her and gave her an api, which I did not really have permission to do as anything I gathered belonged to Thor, but he did not object and she gave me a broad smile in response.

Ullr was not throwing stones today. I thought it was the talk Thor had given him, but in the evening I saw him rubbing his hand.

“Ullr?” I said softly.

He looked up with a worried expression.

“Ta urkes snip da ivah.” He said, holding up his hand.

The bird had bitten it when it was struggling. The bite looked angry and red.

I swallowed nervously. Bites like that could kill a man.

“Thor?” I said tentatively.

He turned and came towards us. I pointed at Ullr’s hand as he held it up.

Thor’s expression flickered for a moment, but then became reassuring and calm.

“Yu hwew bu hinahden.” He said with a reassuring smile at his son.

But he was worried. I could see it even as he put his arms around Ullr and gave him a hug.

Two days later, Ullr was sweating. He was pale and shivering, his hand had swelled in size around the bite. Sif spent all her time trying to get him to eat, or keep him warm by the fire. Thor would pace back and forth around the cave.

I sat still and watched them with concern. The rest of the tribe was being respectful; they kept their heads down and their voices low. Ullr’s friends sat together and stared quietly out at the forest, or into the fire. They did not play.

What they needed was a honey and hvonn mixture, both on his hand and to drink.

The shaman in my tribe had always demanded that honey be brought to him whenever we found it. It was not easy to get. You had to keep an eye on the small dark bees that buzzed around searching for flowers and follow them across great distances to their hives. Then you had to build a pine-needle fire beneath the hive and dampen it down to create smoke. When the smoke was thick then you could climb up and carefully cut a slice from the hive. You could still get stung but not as much, and it was helpful to know where the nearest body of water was in case things went wrong.

It was a difficult task, and I didn’t have the time. But I knew where there was a small supply that was not too far away.

Thor was distracted, which was good. I did not yet have the language to explain what I wanted, and with his son in danger he did not have the patience to try and figure out my mimes.

I went to Frigga instead.

“Honey.” I said, pointing to where Ullr lay. “Je needs honey.”

She did not understand me, but I mimed as best as I could.

“I can get it.” I said. “Da hwew gat honey.”

She looked at me quizzically.

“Powe?” She asked.

This was tricky. I picked up a stick and drew in the dirt. I drew the river and the cave, then some lines for trees. Then I drew my tribe’s camp.

“There.” I said. “Da hwew gat ni.”

She looked at the map and back at me. Her eyes were shrewd as she searched mine for tricks or lies. At last she nodded, just once, and carefully wiped my map clean.

That night, as Frigga sat and talked with Thor by Ullr’s bedside, I rose and made my way carefully to the entrance to the cave. I was almost out when I was confronted by The Scourge. He appeared as if from nowhere, making my breath catch in my throat.

He held out a bag. His face was serious.

“Hew du losu.” He said.

Do not fail. I did not need anyone to translate.

I slipped from the cave and made my way down to the ground. If I moved quickly and did not stop I could be there and back in five days. I just hoped Ullr was strong enough to make it that long.

Chapter Text

Travelling at night was always dangerous. The darkness made is difficult to see hidden dangers and there were a number of dangerous animals that hunted at night. I ran as quietly as I could, moving between the trees as the cold night air chilled my face.

I was well into the trees when the sun rose. Slowly the colour returned to the forest as the light filtered through the branches. I paced myself, running for a time, and then walking for the same. It was the fastest way to cover long distances and I could keep it up for over a day.

I headed for the sun until I reached the stream that ran through the forest. Turning left I made my way along its length for hours until I hit the stooped tree, an old marker for my people. I rested there for a few minutes, examining the contents of the bag The Scourge had given me.

It contained food, a knife and a small axe. In truth it was all I needed to go and never come back. For the briefest of moments I entertained the fantasy, but the memory of Ullr’s flushed face was too hard to abandon.

I drank deeply from the stream, ate an api, and began to run again. I followed the old markers, feeling a strange sense of belonging as I did so. As the sun sank and night came again I pushed on through the darkness. Every step took me along familiar paths, through known dangers that seemed more like friends after living with them for so long.

As the sun rose on the second day I was starting to stagger. I had not slept and my head was beginning to swim, but I could not stop now, I was so close.

I tried to put the feeling of excitement from my mind, but I couldn’t help the feeling that I would get to my home and see them, all of them. There would be a fire and birds cooking, or rabbits, or even some deer. There would be songs and dancing, my uncle would throw his arm around me and we would settle the arguments of the tribe together.

My footsteps grew faster as the sun began to sink; I took the last distance at a sprint, bursting through the trees and into the camp with wide desperate eyes.

It was empty, and silent. The fur-skin huts were sagging when their ropes should have been tightened. The fire pit was cold and the ashes partially scattered by the wind. I stood at the edge of the camp and stared at the sight before me. My throat felt tight and despite the heat of my running, my lip was trembling. There was nothing but remnants. They were really all gone. My tribe consisted of me.

Tear were falling from my eyes as I made my way to the shaman’s hut. I knelt at the rear and lifted the rug on the floor. Beneath it was a hole dug into the earth and two containers made from hardened clay.

One held some honey, a smaller one some of the hvonn mixture already made. I took them both out of the hole. I needed something to cushion them. I pulled the rug towards me and wrapped them up well. Then I steeled myself for the sight of my empty camp and stepped back out. There was something odd about the sight of the camp but I was too tired to work out what it was.

I was exhausted. I had run for two days with barely any rest. I made my way to my old hut and crawled inside. I placed the bag by my bed and lay down. I was asleep in seconds.

It was bright when I woke; the sun was high and streaming into the entrance of my hut. For a moment I wanted to lie there longer, but the memory of Ullr crossed my mind and I pushed myself up.

In the light of the day I looked over the camp again. I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something wrong with it. Perhaps it was the emptiness; the feeling that something that should have contained people and life was now silent, and that it had lost something more than just people.

Could a camp have a soul?

I prepared myself to run again, but stopped as I saw something. At the edge of the camp was the stick I had been tied to on that fateful night. Thor had hammered it into the ground himself, and I had spent the night trying desperately to work my hands free. Its presence almost seemed to mock me. Perhaps that’s what that feeling was, certainly it shouldn’t be there.

I strode over to it and took it in both hands. I worked the stick back and forth until it came free. It was a spear, the head of it remained in the earth, but the shaft end was sharpened. I gripped it tightly and set off for Thor’s camp.

I was slower to return, my rest had been deep but not long enough. I made my way back down the familiar pathways, trying to keep myself going by thinking of old songs and stories. I filled my head with thought of Ullr getting well, of his flushed face cooling and his smile returning.

The light dimmed and grew, I stopped only once to eat again, finishing the food from my bag as I sat under the shadow of a tree. My head sank to my chest and for a moment I felt the dream world come to try and take me. I jerked awake and forced myself to rise. I could sleep soon enough, now was not the time.

It was dark when I reached the river. I could see the light of the fire up above me. I waded the river carefully, holding my bag above my head. My vision was swirling and my eyes were heavy.

The climb was exhausting. I crawled to the entrance of the cave and looked inside.

Fandral was on guard. He saw me and jerked in surprise. I held up the bag with a shaking arm. He came forward and helped me to my feet.

“Wa erd yu hew har?” He asked me.

I did not have the energy to try and figure out what he was saying. I made my way to the fire and grabbed a bowl.

As I filled the bowl with water and set it to heat, I became aware of the tribe’s attention. Clearly they had not expected to see me again. I scooped a little of the mixture out of the pot and dropped it into the bowl.

Only then did I glance up. Thor was watching me from the other side of the cave. His face was one of utter shock. It would have been humorous if I were not so tired.

Frigga came close to me and placed her hands gently on my shoulders. I was swaying where I kneeled.

“Flacks.” She said and pushed me down until I was sitting.

“Not yet.” I whispered. “Not yet.”

I made myself crawl to Ullr’s side. He was very sick. Sif had tried to keep his hand clean which was something, but it was not enough.

I scooped out a small amount of the mixture and reached out to the wound.

Sif did not stop me. Later I would wonder why, but perhaps she knew that death was the only alternative to letting me try.

I smeared the mixture onto the wound. Ullr whimpered and tried to pull his hand away as he slept, but Thor held his arm still for me.

I crawled back to the fire. The mixture was slowly dissolving in the water. I sat watching it for a while as I fought to keep my head from dropping. At last it was warmed enough, and I poured it from the hot bowl to a cooler one.

Thor woke Ullr gently and held him up so that he could drink the potion. He swallowed most of it, to my relief.

I waited until Thor put the bowl down and held up my hand.

“Twice a day.” I said, hold up to fingers. What were the words?

“Donu ta dawa.” I said. “Donu ta dawa.”

The darkness took me.

****

I woke with my head resting on Thor’s lap. He was sitting with his back against the cave wall, watching Ullr as he slept. The tribe was mostly asleep, and the cave seemed quite peaceful in the firelight. I watched Ullr’s chest rise and fall for a while until the dream world came for me again.

The next time I woke my head was resting on a rolled up fur. I felt stronger. I pushed myself up and looked around. Most of the tribe was out. Sif sat at Ullr’s bedside, he was still sleeping.

I crept closer. She saw the movement and looked up at me. She made no objection as I came closer. I may have been imagining it, but I thought Ullr’s hand looked a little better. I went to the fire and saw that some more of the mixture was heating. Frigga was sitting by the fire and smiled at me as I approached. She gestured for me to sit down and fetched me some food.

I was surprised, but she just smiled at me.

“At.” She said and mimed eating.

I was not stupid enough to waste food. I ate.

Thor had gone hunting. He returned that night and went straight to Ullr’s bedside. The Scourge took Thor’s kill and began to prepare it as Thor knelt by his son and laid his hand on Ullr’s head.

Sif was cleaning his hand. It was not my imagination, it was definitely looking better. Ullr opened his eyes and smiled up at his parents.

“Niye som.” Thor said in a voice so gentle I was surprised it came from him.

Ullr smiled.

“Dadra, yu craw?”

Thor smiled. “Jar som, Da craw.”

Ullr’s eyes fluttered. “Da craw wit yu onu dawa.” He said, his breath was laboured.

“Jer som, jar.” Thor said, stroking his forehead.

Ullr’s eyes closed again.

That night I lay in Thor’s arms as we both watched the still figure before us. I prayed to my god that the mixture would work.

In the morning, Sif rose and went to check her son. Thor and I stirred and came closer as she laid her hand on his brow.

For a second I saw panic in her eyes. So did Thor, and he reached forward and placed his hand on his son. I laid my fingers across his arm. His skin was cool.

“Ullr.” Sif whispered, she was shaking.

“Ullr’s eyes opened and he smiled.

“Da paffa gool.” He said.

Sif turned her head away and began to cry. Ullr was alright; his fever had broken in the night. After fearing his death for so long, she was undone by relief. Thor too bowed his head and wiped his eyes. I felt as though my muscles had all unwound inside of me.

Ullr was getting better; he was going to be alright.

I had almost fallen asleep that night when I finally realised what had been so wrong at my camp. Even with the cold, the bodies of my kin should still not yet be bone. Thor and his kin would have spent as little energy as possible to dispose of them, perhaps simply tossing them to one side. The air should have been filled with the stench of decay, but it hadn’t been, the air had been clear and crisp.

Someone had buried them. Someone from my tribe had survived.

Thor shifted in his sleep and pulled me closer. I prayed hard to my god that whoever they were, they would be able to survive the winter. They would have left for the hunting grounds to the sun-side weeks ago. Thor’s tribe was heading the other way. I would not see my kin until the summer, but I *would* see them. I would survive this winter, and they would too. They had to.

Chapter Text

The tribe had packed in my absence. I realised that they had been waiting for Ullr to die so that they could move on. Now that he was recovering, they were delayed even more. Those who were strong supporters of Thor were pleased that Ullr was recovering and made the best of the resulting delay. Those who were less impressed with Thor’s leadership were grumbling and complaining about still being at the stopping place. They moved their possessions a little closer to the door each day. I wished I had the words to point out to Thor that if we waited a few more days then they would be dropping their things over the edge.

Thor watched them all with careful eyes, and two days after Ullr’s fever broke, the tribe gathered their things and set off. I carried Thor’s things, as well as extra from the tribe. Thor carried Ullr, seating the boy in his arms. Ullr was still quite weak and rested his head upon his father’s shoulder as we trekked across the rocky plains away from the rising sun.

I was exhausted each night. Thor would wrap his arms around me and hold me close, nuzzling my neck and kissing my cheek, but thankfully he went no further. My thoughts were filled with my tribe. I kept trying to think of who would have lived. The hunters would have fought and died, so unless there was someone else like me who was away when the fighting happened it would not be one of them. That was a shame; whoever they were they would need to hunt through the long winter. One of the youths? Maybe, if they ran far enough in the confusion. The women? I hoped so, even if it were just a few of them. Maybe, maybe even Sigyn? We had only just started lying together a month before. She had been the first one I had ever rutted with. It would be nice to see her again.

I did entertain a few thoughts of slipping away again, but I was so tired from my running, and Thor was like a vine, wrapping himself around me each night so tightly I could not wriggle out even if I wished to.

They would be far away to the sun-side anyway. I would have to survive the winter by Thor’s side.

At least my saving of Ullr’s life had made me some friends. Thor’s supporters, like Fandral and Hogun, were no longer giving me suspicious glances, or narrowing their eyes when Thor fed me meat.

Sif was still distant. She watched me as only a rival can, although she was not as openly hostile as before. She fussed over Ullr and walked beside Thor during the day, touching his shoulder with a gentle hand and drawing his attention away from me with questions about their son.

On the third day I found myself walking with The Scourge and Frigga. She smiled at me, he did not.

“Yu hes gool.” Frigga said.

I did good. I bowed my head at them both.

“Thank you for trusting me.” I said, wishing I had the words.

They seemed to understand by my gesture. I tried to think of how to ask them a question that had been on my mind for some time now.

“Wa hes Thor chatta whe da uy?”

What did Thor say when I go? I was pretty sure I got the words right.

They exchanged a look, Frigga was suppressing a smile.

It was The Scourge who answered. He looked at me with a sparkle in his eyes and held his hands out like fists.

“ROOOOOAAAARRR!!!!” He yelled, waving his arms about in all directions. “ROOOOOAAAARRRRR!!!”

Frigga was giggling. I started too. It seems that Thor had not responded well.

The Scourge mimed throwing things, including what appeared to be a boulder, over his head. He stomped his feet and growled a few more times as Frigga and I had hysterics.

Then Thor looked back and saw us, a confused frown on his brow. The Scourge stopped and began walking quickly with his head down. Frigga and I did likewise, but all three of us managed only seconds before we were giggling again.

“Roar” said The Scourge quietly under his breath. I bit my lip in an effort to keep quiet.

“Roar” Frigga added softly, her shoulders were shaking.

“Roar” The Scourge said again a few seconds later.

“Roar”

“Roar”

“Roar”

“Roar”

They kept it up for the rest of the day, every time their chatter stopped and there was silence for longer than a minute.

“Roar”

I do not know if Thor knew what we had been discussing, but he left us to our laughter.

****

We walked for eighteen days. Each day the air grew colder, the wind more biting. I staggered a little under my load.

Ullr started wriggling out of his father’s arms about halfway through our journey. He would grow tired quickly though and Thor would take him back. The cold was difficult on his healing body and Frigga unrolled one of the furs and wrapped it around him so that he would be better protected. Still, each day made him stronger. By the time we reached our destination he could walk almost the whole day.

A few days before we reached our destination I saw blue in the distance. As we got closer it became the biggest lake I had ever seen. The water crashed into the rocks far below where we stood, echoing with a mighty boom that made me jump and my hands tremble. Thor saw me and threw his arm around me.

“Flacks Lowki, ni id liep ocean.”

I looked at him, puzzled. I had never heard of this ‘ocean.’ It was certainly the biggest lake I had ever seen. I could not see the other side of it at all, and the water was so choppy, I could not imagine trying to swim in it.

The ocean did not seem to have an end, our last few days of walking took us along the shoreline, until we reached a point where the forest became patchy and the ocean surrounded us on three sides. We had walked out onto a cliff that extended into the ocean. The edge was large, but still I felt nervous, this place was freezing, the wind was like a knife blade, and there was no shelter, just bracken-like plants and sand, although the wood was not far behind us.

The tribe were searching for something. They had spread out in all directions and were scanning the ground carefully.

The Scourge found it, with a triumphant yell he started pulling at the bracken-like plant that grew where he was. The others came over to help and soon they had cleared a hole.

Tied to a branch that lay across the hole was a rope. Thor pulled it up and examined it, then threw it away. It was rotten, so was the branch. He laid out a spear and tied a new rope to it, then Fandral swung down.

He sent up a shout that was the signal to follow. One by one the tribe disappeared into the darkness. I watched them go uncertainly.

Thor tied each person’s things to the rope after they had gone down and lowered it to them. Then he gestured to me.

I relieved myself of my burden and took the rope. With a deep breath I began to lower myself down into the hole.

Below was a cave. It was large, with a wide opening that faced outward to the ocean. The rear of the cave had a number of smaller crevices that were being claimed as I watched. Frigga was setting up one for Thor, hanging a fur across the opening. She smiled at me when she caught my eye.

I stepped back to allow Thor to lower my burden. The tribe came and took what was theirs almost before it reached the ground. I took the remainder to Frigga, who gestured for me to leave it with her.

The wind blew sharply through the cave entrance. I wrapped my arms around myself and went to see out.

Just beyond the entrance the rocks fell in a sheer drop to the ocean below. The waves were huge and they crashed up so high they made me jump. There were already people there, tying ropes from one bracken-like plant on one side to the other. They tied furs to the ropes, creating a rough wall that cut the wind somewhat. Behind this, Fandral was already setting up a fire.

Thor dropped to the cave floor easily and gave me a grin. He strode over to me and pulled me into his arms. There was no denying what he wanted, now that we had reached our destination. Frigga had barely finished hanging the fur, although I doubted Thor cared all that much.

It was difficult allowing him entrance after so long. But he had fed me each night as we travelled and with the bargain I made I could not refuse him.

He took his time preparing me, working his fingers in and out with slow, steady movements. I laid back and tried to relax as much as I could. His hand strayed to my manhood, but I was able to keep from spilling. I was weary from travel, and content to simply lie beneath him. I did rock my hips up as he was expecting, and when he spilled he did so with a moan.

I did not sleep well that night, the boom of the ocean made me jump often. Thor just snuggled closer and nuzzled my hair.

This was the craw-erta. And winter was almost here. I told myself to focus on survival and nothing else. I would not think of my kin, for I would only worry. Until life came back to the world, I would not think beyond my next meal. I just wished that it was as easy to do as it was to think.

Chapter Text

There was much to do. The cave opening had a barrier of rocks that had been built up over the years, and it needed repairing. Wood from the nearby forest also had to be gathered, and early the next morning a large party climbed up the hole and set off.

I went with them. I spent the day collecting the branches that had fallen from the trees over the year. We walked quite far before we started, which I did not understand. Ullr tried to explain it to me.

“I wei tejen grim sloe a liep ettara pa liep compen o liep Icha, den wei hov a mov rar whe ni id friddid, ut i wei colet liep rar stints won den wei hwew du hov rar a uy whe liep icha compen.”

I stared at him blankly. He frowned in thought and then began to mime.

“Wei.” He said, gesturing to everyone. “Colet.” He mimed gathering. “Sloe.” He pondered for a moment, then grinned. “Sloe.” He said again, holding his hands up a distance apart. “Rar.” He said and moved them further apart. “Sloe. Rar. Sloe. Rar.”

I nodded and said it with him. His grin widened.

“Wei colet, den whe friddid compen.” He mimed shivering. “Du stints sloe caridoet. Ut wei colet rar, den whe liep friddid compen, wei hov stints sloe.”

I nodded, I sort of understood. If we took the close wood now, then we would have to go further for it later on, when it was very cold. So instead we walked far to gather it now.

Ullr shyly held his hand up.

“Ni id hinahden won. Dunka yu Lowki.” He said.

I looked at his hand; there was a small scar, the v-like line left by the bite almost looked like a bird in flight.

“Yu welcome… ah… hebton.” I said with a smile.

We spent the day gathering wood and dropped it down the hole in bundles to the waiting hands below. Thor and the other hunters had been busy as well. They were making something with their ropes, tying them to long poles of wood in a simple pattern. I sat and watched them as the sun set and the light faded.

That night Thor sat by me and gave me some dinner. It was not much.

“Dawa-awa wei craw liep pace fwa liep ocean-metts.” He said to me, wrapping his arm around my waist and letting his fingers trail down to play at the ties of my clothes. I let my body lean against his. I told myself that he was warm, and that it had nothing to do with the way his touch made my skin tingle.

And if I understood him correctly, tomorrow we would hunt in the ocean. I could not see how, but this was not my world. My people went to the mountains and hunted the reindeer. I hoped my kin could repair our traps from the years before and use them to survive.

That night Thor pushed me onto my stomach and trailed kisses down my back as he pulled the clothes from my body. His mouth reached my entrance and to my shock he pressed his lips right against it, making me jump. His big hands gripped my waist and held me firm as he mouthed against me over and over. I could not suppress my moans at the feelings that coursed through my body.

Thor hummed in pleasure and made his way slowly back up to my neck. He pulled my hips up and rutted gently against me for a few minutes, his manhood sliding between my legs to poke at my own. He pulled back only slightly to scoop up some fat and began to work it between my legs.

I pushed myself up until I was on my hands and knees. I angled my hips to give him better access, fighting to keep my breathing from becoming pants.

Thor leaned over me and pressed his manhood to my entrance. He nipped at my neck and slide slowly inwards. I gasped a little at the feel of him, forcing my channel to take his length and girth. He grazed past that spot inside of me and for a moment I thought I saw stars in front of my eyes.

Another push and he was seated fully inside of me. His hips pressed firmly against my buttocks as his chest lay over my back. We stayed lock together like that for a long time as Thor just breathed in my scent and nuzzled my hair. His hips gave only the slightest of movements; so much so that I was driven almost wild by the feel of it.

With a cry that I could not have kept inside if I had tried, I thrust back hard against him, trying to encourage movement. He reared up and grabbed my hips. With a growl of pleasure he rocked back and then slammed forwards into me. I gasped and lifted my hips slightly so that he would find that spot inside me. His next thrust made me keen in a high voice that I did not I could make. For a few minutes we rocked together at a steady pace. Our gasps and moans echoed through the cave.

Thor’s hand left my hip and began to grope beneath me for my manhood. He found his target and rolled my sacks between his fingers and I moaned helplessly. I could feel myself hardening to his touch. I didn’t want to spill, but, really, where was the line between making this as pleasant as possible and simply enjoying it completely? I had given so much it hardly seemed important anymore.

Thor moved his hand until it encircled my shaft, each thrust rocked me into his hand, and each movement back impaled me on him. Caught between the two feelings I had no control left. I groaned and panted and whimpered beneath him. I couldn’t stop it, and I didn’t want to. My world narrowed until all I could think about was Thor, all I could hear was his breathing, all I could smell was his scent, all I could feel was his hand and manhood, working together to destroy me utterly.

I came with a gasp, my wetness spilled out of me in hard spurts. Behind me, I felt Thor tense, and a moment later his thrusts stilled as he left his wetness inside me.

We collapsed onto the furs, Thor still buried inside of me. I moaned weakly and tried to wriggle free. Thor snaked his arm around me and kissed my cheek playfully. I reached down and tried to work him out of me. He grabbed my hand and stopped me. I made an outraged noise and wriggled some more. His soft length slipped from my body. I sighed in relief at the same time he grunted in disappointment. I looked at him over my shoulder and narrowed my eyes at him, but I was unable to keep my mouth from twisting upwards.

He saw it and kissed me, wrapping his arms around me and pressing me into the furs with his body. I knew when to surrender and we kissed for a long time. We were still kissing when his parents came to bed. The Scourge sighed and grumbled, but Frigga just shushed him.

****

The hunters took their creations down to the ocean the next day. There was a path some way from the cave. It was steep and narrow and I watched them make their way down with wide eyes.

Then it was my turn. The rest of the tribe was going to the rocks below for gathering. I did not know what they planned to get down there but the children looked excited. I made my way slowly down, trying not to jump at the booming sounds the ocean kept making.

Once we reached a point close to the bottom, we made our way across the rocks to a place where the ocean did not reach.

It must have been there recently though, there were pools in the rocks that were full of plants. I tasted the water and spat it out, it was salty! Disgusting! I pulled a face and Frigga laughed when she saw it. She gestured for me to come over to her.

Some of the tribe were digging up one type of plant. The rest were using their knives to scrape large shells from the rocks, still more were collecting small black shells, using stones to knock them free from the rocks. Frigga held one of the bigger shells up so that I could see. There was a creature in the shell. Food.

I pulled at the plants, targeting the ones I saw other people take. They were slimy and smelled of the salt water. I wasn’t sure I would like them, but in times like this no food should be turned down.

The hunters had finished what they were doing. They had built several woven mats which they anchored at key points along the shore. Then they began to walk the shore, looking for something. I turned my head back to my task. There were plenty of plants and shells, but as winter came on there would be less. I had to gather as much as possible to prove my right to stay with the tribe. I was not foolish enough to believe that saving Ullr’s life would keep my position secure forever.

We stopped our gathering far sooner than I thought we would. I watched in confusion as the tribe began to make their way back to the pathway. Frigga gestured for me to follow. She saw my expression and smiled.

“Yu seh.” She said.

Once we were back on the cliff top, Frigga pointed over the edge at where we had been. The ocean was much closer than it had been, the bottom of the path was almost getting wet. What *was* this magic?! I stared with growing fear as the path was washed with the water, then the place we had gathered was slowly swallowed by the ocean as it moved on its own further inland.

“Will it come after us?” I asked Thor, who had come up behind me. “Hwew ni craw ah?”

He chuckled in his deep throated way and slung an arm around my shoulders.

“Du Lowki, ni hwew du gat di ieei. Seh liep linnea dere, la liep ruk?” He pointed to the cliff face. There was a line there which I think he wanted me to look at. I pointed at it too to show that I had seen. “Liep ocean compen woop a dere, ut du rar.” He said.

I took comfort from the fact that he was not worried. I think he was saying that the line stopped the ocean from rising too far, although I could not imagine how. It must be some kind of magic.

We spent the rest of the day gathering wood. When we got back to the cave, Frigga and Sif uncovered a large cooking pot, too large to carry. It had been left here from the last time. They cleaned it and checked it for cracks. Satisfied that it was still sturdy they placed in on the fire and filled it with water from their skins. Frigga built up the fire and they sat and waited for the water to heat. Thor was grinning at me, his intentions were plain to see. With great delight he showed me the fish he’d caught. It was quite big, and he’d speared it straight through. I rolled my eyes at his enthusiasm. He saw the look and winked at me.

With a start I realised that we were flirting, as a man and a woman would do. I swallowed quickly and went to look out of the cave mouth.

The ocean was crashing hard onto the rocks below. I wrapped my arms around myself and tried not to imagine the ocean climbing the rocks to reach me.

Thor slipped his arms around me from behind. I leaned back against him. His chest was firm and comforting, by now a familiar thing in a strange land.

The shell creatures went into the pot when it was hot enough. They stopped being slimy and became soft and a little chewy. The taste was nice, although unusual. The fish too was different to what I was used to. It was saltier but no less delicious.

The plant was chopped and put into the pot with the shells and the fish. The whole thing became a thick soup that the tribe shared. More water was added when we were done so that the hot pot would not dry out overnight.

****

I feared the ocean. The rest of the tribe seemed to know when it would move back and forward but I did not. I was relying on them to know. I was nervous of lowering my head to searching for food in case they moved off and left me. I told myself over and over that Frigga would not do such a thing, but she wasn’t always with us, she would often stay with the pot, keeping the water high and boiling.

It was beginning to rain often now, soon I thought snow would come and cover the ground with its deadly whiteness.

The mats that the hunters had built blocked the deep pools in the rock. I soon realised that when the ocean came in high the fish would swim with it, but when it went back some of them would be caught in the pools. The water would drain through the mats leaving only a small space for the fish to swim. Then the hunters would stand there and spear them. They caught many fish that way.

All the fish and shell creatures would go in the pot, it boiled continuously on the fire. But there was another food that the tribe ate. There were birds that lived on the rocks, they came to roost high on the cliff face at night. Thor and the other hunters would leave the safety of the cave and climb the cliffs before the sun set. They would wait for the birds with nets gathered in their hands. Once the birds flew into the crevices to nest they would drop the nets and capture them against the rocks. The birds would get tangled up as they tried to fly away and the hunters would drag the nets up and kill them.

Sometimes the net would get caught on the rocks and one of the hunters would have to climb down to free it in the near-darkness. This was a dangerous activity. They were right on the very edge of the cliff, and the struggles of the birds would jerk the net suddenly in random directions. I worried constantly that Thor would be pulled over to his death, but he always came back.

Chapter Text

Sif was pregnant.

She announced it during the evening meal. At first I did not understand what she said, but I saw the way she cradled her stomach, the way the women crowded around her, and the way Thor looked up and beamed.

I sat by the fire and tried not to let my disappointment and fear show. I told myself that Thor would not leave me, he already had a child with Sif and yet still desired me, but that might not be enough. With a child inside of her Sif would need more food, Thor would be sharing more of his kills with her, leaving less for me.

Sif knew that. She also knew that if Thor did not have enough food he would not feed me and I would not rut with him willingly which would anger him. Her eyes flickered to me just once as Thor came to her side. She looked triumphant.

I sat uneasy and alone by the fire. I could not look pleased, the tribe knew too well about our rivalry. But I could not look too put out either, or else Thor would be angry. I tried instead to stay calm.

Fandral saw me sitting there and gave me a small smile. I gave him a tight one in return but looked away quickly. I was already facing a difficult time; I did not want to cause any more trouble.

Thor came back to me that night. He wrapped me in his arms and kissed me long into the night. I told myself that it would be alright, that I could survive this trial as I had survived the others.

But that didn’t stop me from trying to figure out new ways to be useful to the tribe. I needed all the help I could get.

A few days after Sif’s announcement, the hunters began to pack a bundle each. I watched them with confusion in my eyes. Thor gave me a smile and patted my knee gently.

“Craw.” Was all he said.

A day later, they set out away from the cave and travelled along the shore line. I watched them go until I could no longer see Thor’s broad figure.

The remaining members of the tribe got on with gathering food and wood. It had still not snowed; instead a horrible kind of slush fell from the sky and stung my face. The water it left behind was channelled into bowls set into the ground and used for drinking and cooking.

The slush-rain made the path down to the ocean difficult to climb. My feet skidded out from under me on more than one occasion, but luckily I was able to catch myself before I tumbled headlong down to the rocks below.

There were a few hunters left for protection. They still speared the fish caught in the pools, although with fewer hands they did not catch so many. There were grumbles about my presence again, as there always were when Thor was not around to quell them.

On the third day since Thor had left I had had enough. I was made to gather because I was a captive, but I was no weakling. I was a man, only a few years away from leading his own tribe. I deserved better than gathering ocean plant that I did not even like the taste of.

I took the spear shaft from our sleeping place and brought it with me to the rocky pools. I followed the hunters, ignoring Frigga’s concerned call, and set myself up around the first pool with them. Hogun saw me, but said nothing, only began trying to spear the fish that swam trapped in the water.

I faced some difficulty. My spear shaft had a point where it had broken coming out of the ground, but it lacked the fine heads that the others used.

I placed the spear end into the water, so that I could line my strike up properly without having to compensate for the way the water changed the position of the fish. I had done this in the rivers of the Winter Mountains, watching out for bears the whole time. I could fish here, I knew I could.

My first strike was unlucky, and the fish darted away. I took a deep breath and made myself stay calm. I could do this, I could.

The second time I grazed the fish but did not manage to drive home the strike.

The third time, I made my kill.

I pulled it up and shoved it into my bag, immediately turning back to try again. I had to be as good, if not better, than these men. I had to earn my right to hunt.

I took four fish, two were rather small, but still, it was a good amount. They had nothing to complain about as we made our way back up the pathway to the cave.

One of them complained anyway. Baldr hated me. He had always been the first to complain about my presence, and he refused to eat any food that I caught. He was a good enough hunter not to need my food, but I think even if he were starving he would refuse it. He glared at me the whole time we were spearing the fish but did not say anything. Hogun was in charge while Thor was gone and if he did not object, neither could Baldr.

Frigga dropped my fish into the pot with the others and gave me a warm smile. That night I felt a little more secure in my position, at least for now.

Later that night I shivered in the furs as I tried to sleep. Without Thor to warm me it was very cold and I could not curl up enough. I rubbed my fingers together but it was no use. The air was too cold. This was another fear of mine. I had no kin here, back with my tribe in the winter it was normal to simply lie beside another if you were cold. Many of my nights had been spent pressed between my uncle and my cousins, or more recently, Sigyn. Now I had no one and I was slowly freezing.

A hand touched my shoulder. I looked up into Frigga’s warm eyes. She smiled and gestured for me to come. She led me back to her bed where The Scourge lay with the single most disgruntled look on his face that I had ever seen on a man. His narrowed eye followed me as Frigga pulled me down beside her. I ignored him, and fell asleep with their warmth cushioning me.

Chapter Text

Five days after Thor had gone and the hunters still showed no sign of coming back. I was getting restless and checking the horizon as often as I could. The rest of the tribe did not seem so anxious, it seemed long hunts were normal. I hoped they were not too normal. I told myself that the longer Thor stayed away the worse my chances were with the rest of the tribe. But in the deepest part of my heart I knew I missed him. His big gruffness had hammered its way into my feelings. Into my heart.

I was sad when I first realised this, because it would make leaving him so much harder. But I had to go when the summer came. I had to find my tribe and I had to leave his. I could not live my life in fear, or as a weakling when I was as strong a hunter as any of them.
****

It was the afternoon and we were gathering wood in the forest. Ullr appeared before me and I greeted him with a smile. Since I had saved his life and since announcing her pregnancy, Sif had been more forgiving of my talking to her son. Ullr had taken full advantage of this, and I often found him nearby when we went gathering. He had even shown up next to me as I speared the fish sometimes. His little stick could not hope to make a kill, but he was determined to try all the same. In another year or so he would be taught properly by Thor. If he were my son I would be teaching him now, he was clearly ready, but in Thor’s tribe the children stayed with their mothers for longer than in mine.

Ullr was in a talkative mood. He kept trying to teach me words. ‘Tree, trorres’ ‘flower, petrad’ ‘leaf, spinat’ and others.

He smiled at me. “Da hwew bu ta theor ghen.” He said.

I frowned. He saw my look and sighed with exaggerated weariness, the cheeky child.

“Da.” He said in an exaggerated manner, pointing to himself. “Hwew.” He stopped. He could not think of a way to explain it. I laughed at him and he looked put out. Or at least he would if he could keep from grinning.

“Theor?” I asked. It was the only word I did not know.

Ullr nodded. “Theor… hmm…”

He knelt on the ground and scratched at the dirt.

“Madra.” He said, drawing a person. “Dadra” He drew another. Then he added the ‘dadra’s’ manhood and pointed at the woman, before drawing a smaller person in the dirt. “Kindri.” He drew a second person. “Theor.” He pointed between them.

“Brother!” I exclaimed. “You will be a brother again.”

He looked at me blankly, waiting for me to say something he understood.

“Ghen?” I asked.

Ullr nodded sadly. “Magni. Magni ded.” He said.

Thor and Sif had had another child together either before or after Ullr, and they had lost him. I swallowed hard. It was a sad thing, but not unexpected. Life was taken away all too often in this dangerous world. Sometimes the gods made their own sacrifices.

We worked together to gather the sticks. Ullr had quick hands and he would snatch them up with ease. He dumped his collection in my arms to carry. I had almost a full load when there came a cry from up further. Ullr’s eyes widened at the sound.

“Dwarfs!” He echoed in alarm.

He began to run back to the cave, gesturing frantically to me to follow. I started running, reluctant to release my load. Ullr screamed at me and I saw the fear in his eyes. I dropped my bundle and ran after him.

We cleared the trees at the same time as the rest of the tribe. They were all running as fast as they could. The remaining hunters were shouting at them to go faster. I joined them and dashed over the sand.

Ullr had stopped and was looking behind me with alarm. I turned and saw the dwarfs for the first time.

They were another tribe, short and broad with thick red hair and large stone axes. They were charging forward with battle-lust in their eyes.

I could see Frigga and The Scourge trying to outrun them. The Scourge was hobbling but he was still fast enough to outrun a bear, I had seen that for myself. Frigga however was struggling, she was not able to move fast and she was already lagging. He would not leave her. His arm was wrapped around her waist and he pulled her along as best he could.

They were going to die. The hunters had already outstripped them and were taking up a defensive stance further up on the sand. The dwarfs were closing in fast behind them.

I turned back. By all that was foolish and stupid. I turned back.

I reached them just as the first Dwarf did. The Scourge swung around and sliced clean through the man’s neck with the tip of his mighty spear. I stooped, picked Frigga up over my shoulder and ran back to toward the hunters. The Scourge kept pace with me as we tore up the incline and through the protective wall of men.

I put Frigga down on the ground. The Scourge knelt and took her in his arms as she struggled to catch her breath.

The tribe was not going into the cave. With the Dwarfs so close they did not want to reveal the entrance. Instead they pushed back toward the cliff path. It was useless though, the ocean was high and the path led nowhere. If we could not fight the dwarfs off then we would all be slaughtered.

This must be what my tribe felt as Thor’s people came down upon them.

It was too late for dwelling on such things. Thor’s tribe needed to survive, so they killed mine. The dwarfs needed to survive, so they were raiding Thor’s. It was the way of things.

I scanned the ground and found a stone. Only one, the sandy scrub had little that could be turned into a quick weapon.

As the dwarfs reached the hunter’s line I drew my arm back and threw.

My stone hit a dwarf on his head, dazing him long enough for Hogun to cut his belly open with the tip of his spear.

I searched the ground again as the hunters began to fight. There were far more dwarfs than hunters, I needed a weapon.

Something smooth and hard was pushed into my hand. The Scourge had given me his spear, the spear that had killed my father.

I stared at him in shock as he glared defiantly back at me. In his eyes I could see many things. Trust, that I would not betray them. Confidence, that I would know how to use it. And a promise, that I would damn well give it back when I was done.

It was quite a complicated look.

I turned and ran to fight the dwarfs.

One of them had gotten through the hunters, and I met him barely fifteen feet from the tribe. He was big and strong and wielded a spear of his own, but I knew better than most that a spear had to be wielded properly or else it was little more than a sharp stick. He had the strength, but I had the skill.

I jabbed at his arm as he raised it, causing him to jerk it back and throw himself off balance. I followed through with a swing that caught him in the chest before I kicked him onto his back. As he rose I planted the spear in the ground and swung around it, catching him with my feet and knocking him down again hard. I pulled the spear from the ground and buried it in his chest. He shuddered and fell still.

I pulled the spear free and ran to the line, twisting around another dwarf and knocking his teeth clean out of his head with the butt of my spear.

There was a yell that attracted my attention. The dwarfs had divided the hunters with their attack, now three of them ran through to the tribe beyond.

I ran after them and stabbed the first one through his back. The second turned to face me and we fought hard, axe against spear until I split his belly open and stabbed him through the heart.

I looked up as the last of them reached the tribe. The children were screaming in fear. The Scourge was trying to shield Frigga.

Between him and his goal stood Sif.

She had taken the fallen dwarf’s spear and she held it calmly in her hands with her feet planted flat and firm. There was no fear in her eyes, and as the wind caught her hair and blew it wild I saw the goddess within her. Gaia had come. She from whom all life springs will sometimes visit a mother, so that even the most docile will become a great foe, a terror on the wind. She was here. Sif had called Gaia to her. In that moment I knew why Thor had been drawn to her.

She was magnificent.

The dwarf did not see what I saw, if he had he would have turned and run. Instead he swung, clearly intending to take her down with a blow to her head.

She blocked him with the head of her spear and forced his own aside. She followed through, bringing the butt of her spear up and smashing it against his jaw, shattering the bone. He let out a squeal of pain as she jabbed upwards, smashing the butt directly onto his broken chin. He collapsed before her and she stepped forward, swinging the spear around until the tip pointed at his throat. One swift stab and he was dead. It had taken her mere moments.

I turned back to the battle. Hogun had managed to sneak around behind the dwarfs as they fought and was trying to kill them from behind. I helped him by making a loud fuss in front of them, to keep them from noticing his movements.

By the time they realised that we had held and that they should retreat, we were evenly numbered. The hunters found a surge of strength and pushed back against them, giving chase as the panic set in and they ran for their lives.

We tracked them through the forest and killed them. Every last one. They had come too close to our cave and we could not afford this knowledge to be taken back and shared with the remains of their tribe. They would face a hard winter with most of their hunters gone.

In a flash my thoughts turned to my own kin, and whether they were surviving. I pushed it away. I could not afford those thoughts until the summer.

It was growing dark by the time the last hunter returned and Hogun declared it safe to return to the cave. I took The Scourge’s spear back to him. Before the tribe I knelt on one knee and held it out in front of me.

“Thank you.” I said. “Dunka yu.”

I was the only one who seemed concerned with the bodies. I grabbed one of them by his feet and started to drag him to the cliff edge. The ocean could have him. It could have them all. Maybe that way it would not come after me as I feared, maybe it would not come after Ullr or Thor’s new child either.

Gods need sacrifices after all.

To my surprise the hunters came and helped me. Many were grumbling but Hogun put them in their place with a look. Together we stripped the things of value and swung what was left over the edge to the ocean below. I prayed for good tidings as I did so.

The ocean heard me. The next day, as the sun reached its peak, Thor and the bulk of the hunters came home.

Chapter Text

The hunt had been successful. They were each weighed down with meat from the kill and grinning broadly at the welcome they expected.

Thor went to Sif first and gave her a large piece of meat wrapped in ocean plant. She smiled and laid her hand on his shoulder in thanks. He hugged Ullr, then turned to Frigga and The Scourge and gave them their own piece of meat. Then he scanned the crowd looking for me.

His face when he saw me split open into a huge grin. He wrapped one thick arm around me and kissed me hard enough to bruise. I allowed it. I told myself that he would be feeding me later, so I could be generous now. It had nothing to do with the way I missed his lips and hard body pressing into mine, nothing at all.

I mean it.

Hogun was trying to get his attention. He was calling Thor’s name and pulling on his shoulder. Thor ignored him and kissed me harder.

“Thor. Dwarfs.” Hogun said.

Thor let go of me and whipped around so fast I almost lost my balance. He and the other hunters raised their weapons and looked about for the attacking foe.

“Du Thor. Dwarfs fruk onu dawa bintwa. Jeyan ded won.”

He was telling them about the attack. Thor stood with his arm around me and listened as Hogun described what had happened. When he mentioned Sif, Thor gave her a grin and a salute as his men roared at her daring. When he mentioned me and Frigga, Thor squeezed me close and kissed my cheek. Then Hogun said.

“Odin mamut Lowki je Gungnir.”

Thor turned and stared at his father in complete shock. The look on his face was utterly comical and I started laughing. I couldn’t help myself. The Scourge looked calmly back at his son as though daring him to make a fuss.

Thor turned to look back at me. I struggled to keep the giggles form spilling out of my mouth. He looked completely gobsmacked. Helplessly, he turned back to Hogun to hear the rest of the story.

Hogun described the battle, occasionally making hand movements to go with his words. It was the most I had ever heard him speak.

When he was done the hunters cheered the tribe loudly. They clapped the hunters who were left to fight on their backs in celebration and then moved to find their women.

Eventually we had to go back to gathering sticks. Thor did not want to. He kept looking at the cave entrance and back at me. I knew what he was thinking but there was work to be done.

When the last bundle of sticks was dropped down the hole and we had settled in for the night. Thor wrapped his arms around me and pulled me to the back of the cave. He still hadn’t fed me, and I was torn in two. As much as I wanted to lose myself in his arms I could not afford to go unfed.

He seemed to sense my reluctance, and pulled back with a small frown. How did I explain that what I wanted was a reassurance? If only he could promise me that he would not neglect my stomach then I could give myself to him freely.

He sighed against me. In another minute he was going to get annoyed. I made my decision and hoped very hard that I would not regret it.

I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him hard, wanting and needy. I pressed my body up against his and allowed myself to enjoy the feel of it. Thor growled lustily with renewed vigour and pressed me down against the furs.

We kissed for a few minutes, but as surely as the sun rose each morning, Thor’s hands began to stray to my buttocks. His fingers dipped into the fat at our side and he worked them into me with eager movements. I tried to relax as much as I could to make it easier. He groaned against me and buried his face in my neck, mouthing and kissing at me like a starving man at a feast.

He reared back and pushed inside of me with a quick jab. I gasped and for a moment I jerked away from him, but it was in surprise rather than pain. I relaxed my body again and he started to move. We rocked against one another quickly. Our breath coming in gasps and grunts as our rhythm increased to an almost violent level. Thor slammed down against me as I pushed myself back up hard to meet him. Our eyes were locked onto one another’s, his bright blue ones to my deep green. His face was one of pure ecstasy, and when he spilled himself inside of me he seemed to almost lose consciousness for a moment. He sagged and caught himself. I wriggled below him to try and get him to leave my body now that we were done. He grinned, and wasn’t it just the most mischievous grin I had ever seen on a man. He pressed down and pinned me there beneath him. The last time he tried this I had won, but then I had been able to move far more easily than I could in this position. I pushed at his shoulders and kicked my legs, trying to catch his thigh and push him off, but he wouldn’t budge. He kissed my face, covering my cheeks and forehead with gentle kisses as I struggled and wriggled beneath him.

He did not torture me for too long. Just long enough to prove that he always got his own way eventually and to make me squeal in frustration. Then he pulled out of me and kissed my mouth like he owned it, which I suppose he did. I did not mind that thought as much as I used to. I pushed him off after a minute and grabbed the edge of the fur to wipe my spill off my skin. I did not like being sticky. By contrast Thor did not seem to care all that much, although, now that I looked at him I realised that he was actually cleaner than he had been before, even his hair was not as oily. I wondered what he had been doing to be cleaner. In the summer it was normal to be cleaner. Jumping into a lake to cool off was good fun and washing some of the dirt away just kind of happened. But only a fool would do so in the winter.

I wished I knew how to ask him how he had gotten so clean, but despite the progress I had made, I still lacked the words for less common things.

Thor rose and took my arm. He led me back out to the main cave where the food was almost ready. I sat pressed into his side as we ate. My gamble had been worth it, he fed me some meat from the ‘seal’. I also had some fish that I had caught and some of the black shell things. I had to pull those apart to get at the morsel inside. They tasted salty, most of this food did, and I was forever drinking the cool clean water from the catching pots. Still, it was a tasty meal, and my belly was full.

After eating we sat and listened as one of the hunters, a man named Volstagg, told the story of their hunt and how they killed the seal. I understood only a little, but I enjoyed listening anyway. Volstagg was one of those people who always seemed far bigger than they actually were. His deep booming voice filled every corner of the cave and his gestures were wild and large. Thor nuzzled my hair as we sat there, clearly wanting to go back and rut further. He waited until the end of the tale at least, but no longer than that. He’d missed me.

****

That night a storm came upon us. A great crash of thunder woke me as I lay by Thor’s side. I was about to snuggle back down against him when there was an almighty crash and boom from the ocean.

I sat up, startled. Thor woke and joined me. I stared at him with fear in my eyes. Why was the ocean angry? We had given it all the dwarfs as sacrifices. Maybe it did not like dwarfs.

Thor rose and pulled me to the main cave. The children were standing right at the stone wall, trying to see out through the fur and bracken barrier. Beyond them, out as far as the eye could see, the ocean was enraged.

It rolled high and in all directions, hitting the cliff with violent crash that made me jump. It was furious at something. Had I done something wrong? Perhaps it was not a god that was prayed to. Had it become angry at my presumption to ask for Thor to come home? It hit the cliff again and the noise made me cry out in fear. It was coming; the magic line would not stop it. It was so angry and it was coming for us!

Thor wrapped his arms around me and tried to sooth me, but I was shaking in terror. Some of the tribe were sitting far to the back of the cave, they knew to be afraid. But most of the children, and a good number of the others, were watching the sky and the ocean as they fought one another. Thor rubbed my back and murmured soft words in my ear. I could not hear him; I could only see the fury before me.

Thor pulled me back to our bedding and forced me to lie down. He held me tightly as the sky and the ocean did battle, whispering in my ear to ‘flacks’ as he rubbed my back like you would a babe. I did not care that I was showing such fear. I was in terror of the ocean, its power was so strong, I did not see how we would survive this night.

After a time the storm calmed down. Thor kept a tight hold on me and rocked me gently back and forth until at last I was calm enough to fall sleep. I did not sleep well, but only dozed until the first light of the sun began to creep over the horizon.

The tribe barely waited until they could see before heading for the path to the rocks below. They were excited, and chatted happily to one another as they walked. I stayed by Thor’s side, grateful that he did not seem inclined to cast me off and leave me to gather this morning.

The rocks below were different. The loose rocks had all shifted about and the hunter’s barriers had been destroyed. They replaced some of them with some spares they had made and counted how many more they would have to craft. But the truth of why they were so eager had made itself clear to me. Fish littered the ground. They had been thrown about by the ocean and killed. The tribe ran to collect them.

There was more, one of the hunters found a ‘turtle’, which was a kind of shelled creature with stumpy legs. It too had been killed by the ocean and left on the shore.

It was then that I realised what my mistake had been. The ocean had not been angry with us; it had been pleased, and so had given us this great bounty to eat in exchange for the dwarfs.

I felt a bit silly for being so afraid; I should have listened to Thor when he tried to sooth me. Surely if there had been something to be afraid of he would not have been so calm.

The great bounty was collected all morning, until the ocean began to return and we made our way back up the cliff path with full bags.

Thor walked with me that afternoon when the tribe went to collect wood for the fire. We had a huge pile of it in the cave, all stacked neatly and waiting to be burnt, but there was always the need for more. The winter had only just begun after all, and when the snow came it would cover the sticks and hide them, making gathering them far more difficult. Later on in the winter, the hunter might even have to cut down a tree to use, although they take such a long time to dry out that it was better not to if you could avoid it.

Thor was good to have around. He was strong and willing to carry great armfuls of sticks that Ullr and I gathered. Eventually we had reached his limit and I began to hold the sticks that Ullr found. We worked in easy silence until we were out of room, then we walked back to the cave. I did notice Thor looking at me a few times, not with his usual lust but with an almost calculating look. I did not know what it could mean, but I hoped it was nothing bad.

That night by the fire, Thor pulled out a piece of horn from his stag kill back at the stopping place. Most of it was gone now, it had formed tools and things of use, but there were a few pieces left and clearly Thor had something in mind. I rested comfortably beside him and let myself grow sleepy in the flickering firelight. I had no doubt I would discover what it was in time.

Chapter Text

No one objected when I went with the hunters to spear the fish the next day. I still used my broken spear, Thor had never asked me where I had gotten it, maybe he did not care. I was not as efficient without a proper spearhead, but I still managed to kill a few fish that were caught in the rock traps.

I looked up after one kill to find Thor watching me with a frown. I returned it, I thought I had done something wrong although I could not imagine what, but then he grinned at me, and turned back to his task.

Halfway through the morning, Ullr showed up at my side with a sturdy stick and tried to spear some fish. The hunters let him try in the pools we had already killed from, as he could not harm our catches. He was not successful, but then his stick was worse than even mine. He did not give up though, and Thor was smiling to see his son try to hunt.

“Go and help him.” I said. “Uy craw wit je.”

He looked at me, puzzled. “Je ta kindri.” He said.

I shrugged. Ullr might be a child yet but he was growing fast, he needed to be shown how to hunt properly so he had time to practice before it became a matter of survival. But that was in my tribe, Thor’s tribe let their children be children for longer.

He considered me for a moment, then his catch so far that day. Apparently he felt he had enough, because he made his way over to where his son stood, determinedly trying to catch a fish.

He leaned down beside the boy and handed Ullr his spear. With careful hands he adjusted the boy’s grip until Ullr was holding it correctly, then he showed him how to jab. They moved together for a while, jabbing at the fish which still swan in the pool, then Thor let go, and watched as Ullr repeated the movements alone.

“Gool Ullr, gool.” He called out as Ullr moved in quick motions, his whole face screwed up in determination.

We were just starting to make our way back to the path when I heard a squeal of delight. I turned and saw Ullr standing at the edge of the pool with Thor’s spear in his hand. A tiny fish wriggled on the end of it. Thor pulled the fish off and presented it to his son. The grin on his face could not be any wider.

They walked back together, Ullr’s fast steps contrasting with Thor’s easy gait.

We climbed the path and took our food back to the cave. Once inside I presented Thor with my catches. I wanted to prove to him that I was a hunter, not a weakling that he had to provide for, just as long as I could convince the tribe that I was safe with a weapon in my hands.

So far there had been only one objection. Baldr was Thor’s greatest competition, and he did not like me. His eyes would narrow when he saw me, but also when he saw Thor. Thor ignored him most of the time, in a fair fight there would be only one winner and Baldr knew it wouldn’t be him, but there were plenty of unfair ways for a man to take control. I knew that lesson well; my uncle had fought off more than one challenger after my father’s death. Baldr was going to be trouble one day, I could sense it.

Thor spent the afternoon searching for something. I did not know what, only that he was very determined and spent a lot of time finding, and then discarding, long, thick sticks. He found one that fit his exacting requirements towards the end of the day and beamed like a sun all the way home.

That night, Thor did not take out what he’d been working on. Instead he took another leftover piece of horn and knocked it into shape with a stone. Before my eyes he made a spearhead, smaller than normal, but still large enough to be a good weapon. Then he took some thin rope made of leather and began the careful process of making a spear. It was too small for him by far, he was a big man and this spear was half the size of his normal one. I realised what he was doing just as he finished.

“Ullr.” He called out. The boy came over and Thor pulled him into his arms for a hug.

“Lat yu.” He said and gave his son the spear.

The expression on Ullr’s face was one of surprise, then delight, as he took the spear and turned to thank his father with a beaming smile. I knew that smile. In these moments he looked like a smaller version of his father.

“Dunka yu, Dadra.” He said, his voice was trembling a little, but he held it back admirably.

Thor gave him a tight hug, and let him go so that he could show his friends. As they crowded around, making noises of appreciation, Thor pulled out the other bit of horn and began working again.

I pressed myself into his side sleepily. Volstagg was going to tell another story and despite my still shaky grasp of their language, I enjoyed his tales. His hand movements were compelling.

The children settled by his feet, four of them belonged to him I knew, and all from the same woman which I found impressive. She was smiling up at him, another pair who had found love.

Thor paused in his work long enough to plant a kiss on my cheek, then turned back to his task. In that moment I wondered if maybe love was something achievable after all. I hoped not, because then leaving would be the end of me, and when the summer came, I would have no choice. If my kin survived, I could not abandon them.

Chapter Text

Ullr tried out his new spear the next day at the pools. He was very serious as he scanned the water for a fish to kill. The spear was just the right size for him, and he could manoeuvre it more easily than Thor’s big one. He speared another small fish after a morning of attempts. Not nearly enough to survive on but enough to encourage him which was what he needed. He was beaming as he presented it to his mother.

Sif gave him a big hug and declared him more ‘kan’ than ‘kindri’. The smile did not leave his face all afternoon.

Frigga had come out with us to gather sticks and it was she who found the root. They called it ‘rato’ and Thor helped her dig it up. Clearly it was very highly prized. I took note of what the plant looked like above the soil in case I saw it again. I was determined to make myself too valuable to kill as the winter continued.

We had also seen our first snow. It had come down only briefly and melted soon after into freezing puddles of water, but now that it had come it was only a matter of time before we would see lots of it. Snow was a terrible thing; it covered the ground and froze feet, even wrapped ones. It hid plants and turned water into ice. If the ice grew too thick to break then the water beneath, and the fish within, could not be reached.

I feared for my kin, for they would be in the mountains where the snow would have already covered the ground for weeks. I hope desperately that they would be able to kill the reindeer and live off the meat until the thaw.

That night, as the light faded, the hunters left the cave to go and catch the cliff birds. Thor took my arm and pulled me along with him. I was surprised, but pleased. If I were to hunt I should be joining the others in all the things they did.

Thor positioned me next to him in the row of hunters as we crouched low on the cliff edge. We held the bunched net in our hands and waited in the dimming light for the birds to come.

Baldr was further down the line, and he sneered at Thor from where he crouched. His eyes locked onto mine, and for a moment we shared a look of deep loathing. I knew that I should be more careful, I could not afford to have a feud with anyone. But he made my skin crawl. I found myself wishing that he would slip over the edge and that the ocean would take him. I had no doubt that he was hoping that the same would happen to me. We turned away from each other and tried to pretend the other did not exist.

The birds were coming. I watched as two, then five of them came in to roost. Thor was watching too. He waited a little longer, until there were seven that should have roosted high enough to be caught by our net. Then he rose.

We all rose with him and stood, waiting for the signal. Thor swung his great arms once, then we all followed the movement a second time, letting go of one end of the net so that it fell down the cliff face, hitting the side with a smack. The birds immediately tried to fly away, but were trapped beneath the ropes. We hauled the net up, grabbing the birds as they appeared and snapping their necks quickly.

There were only five. It seemed that two of the birds had not roosted high enough after all. We carried the birds back to the cave and gave them over to Frigga to prepare for cooking.

Thor pulled me onto his lap and kissed me deeply. His hands were wandering again, trying to reach my skin beneath my clothes. His mother had made them too well though, and he could not get so much as a finger beneath them without undoing the ties.

For a moment I thought he would do just that, but he managed to contain himself for now and just smothered me with kisses.

Baldr was watching us angrily. Clearly he did not like me, or Thor, but for some reason the sight of us together was making him even angrier than normal.

“Hore.” He muttered.

Thor’s hand stopped its questing. He pulled back from my lips with a popping sound and turned to face Baldr.

“Hmmm?” He said, eyebrows raised.

Baldr had put his head down, he ignored Thor’s look entirely and preoccupied himself with his spear. Thor waited for a moment before turning back to me and starting up again.

I got to have some bird that night, openly and not a portion that belonged to Thor. Frigga also gave me a slice of rato, which was a wonderful contrast to the saltiness of the fish stew. All in all I had a very good meal. Some of the tribe were disgusted, and glared at me as I ate. The others did not seem to mind; perhaps they were coming to accept me, which was a nice thought.

The hunters were planning another long hunt. I could see them packing their things and working out how much food to take. Thor was facing a different kind of decision. As headman, he had to decide whether to go on the hunt or stay behind. Either way he had to choose the man who would lead those who were not with him. Last time it had been Hogun, but Thor liked to change his second regularly. I understood that. A regular second in command does have its advantages, but it also allows someone else to wield almost full power all the time. Many a takeover has occurred when a second decide that he wanted that last little bit more power.

Thor chose Volstagg, and after the evening meal, packed his bags for the hunt. I sat on the bedding and watched him; he would be coming for snitks soon.

I frowned suddenly; he was packing extra food, and a second spear. My eyes widened in growing realisation. He was taking me with him.

I was excited, and I could not hide that fact. I was to go hunting as a man, I would not wait here as a captive. Thor sensed my mood and took full advantage of it, kissing me and rubbing me with his big hands. I pushed him down onto the furs and straddled his body. I had eaten well, I was going hunting. Thor had been good to me and I wanted to reward him.

He watched in delight as I pulled the clothes from my body. I let him see me as best he could in the dim light. Then I reached down and opened his clothing, I took his manhood in my hand and pulled it free. He was already half hard and growing harder beneath me. I ran my hand up and down his manhood a few times, then reached over for the fat.

Thor’s lips parted in lust as he watched me reach behind myself and rub the fat in between my buttocks.

I had had this done to me enough times to know what was best, and I worked my fingers steadily in and out. It occurred to me that Thor couldn’t see what I was doing, although he seemed content enough to watch my face as I worked. I smiled at him slyly, and lifted myself off him. I stood directly over his head and worked the fat in deeper. He was watching my hole as my fingers disappeared inside. I was up to two, and felt that I could manage a third quite well if I wanted to. I squatted down over his face to give him a nice close view as I pushed the third inside. Thor made a strangled noise at the back of his throat but did not attempt to grab me.

Not good enough.

I didn’t realise when I started but I *wanted* him to lose control, to just give in and grab me. I wanted that power over him, that level of need. I needed it to survive. But it was more than that. I wanted his desire. I wanted him to be unable to resist me purely for my own sake, not as a way to keep my belly full.

I moved to stand over him again and rubbed at my manhood with my other hand. I was growing hard, which pleased him.

“Thor.” I sighed softly, making him groan as he looked up at me.

I sank back down onto his legs and took both of our manhoods in my hand. I rubbed them together a few times, enjoying the strangled noises of pleasure that spilled form Thor’s mouth.

He was losing it, just a little more…

I leaned down, and blew gently across the head of his manhood, just enough for him to feel it. Then, with the deep breath to steal myself, flicked my tongue out and licked the tip. Just once, but once was all that was needed.

Thor rose like the ocean itself and seized me eagerly. He pulled me up against him and kissed me roughly, even as his hips twitched hard, searching for my entrance. I spread my legs wide and wriggled back until I felt the tip catch between my buttocks. Thor groaned and pushed his way inside. I sat up on top of him, breaking our kiss. He made a disappointed sound but I had had an idea.

I rolled my hips around on top of him, rocking myself up and down his shaft. His eyes bulged at the sensation and he began to pant openly, mouth hanging open and with the tiniest bit of drool starting to form in the corner.

I moved around until I felt him hit the spot inside me. I let myself moan in pleasure and began pushing myself up and down on it, hitting it every time with a gasp of delight.

Thor raised his hips to meet me and the impact made us both cry out. This was better than I thought it would be. I could not even pretend that I was not enjoying this as much as he was.

Our moans and groans grew louder as we rocked together. I could feel my release coming. I was going to spill all over him this time. The thought was exciting, and I chased the desire.

Thor was resting his hands on my thighs; he was moaning and panting in equal parts. My release came and I cried out his name as I spilled myself in thin white streaks across his chest.

Thor shuddered and grunted. I felt his spill as it spurted inside me, coating my insides with his wetness.

I shuddered and relaxed, sitting slumped above him as we got our breath back. Thor looked as though he had reached paradise. His eyes were unfocussed and his body limp.

I had done it. I had worn the great Thor out.

I sat impaled on him long enough for him to notice the gesture, then pulled myself free. I lay down beside him and snuggled into his side as he wiped my wetness from his chest. Our sleep was deep that night, and very restful.

****

We set off early in the morning. Thor strode out in front, leading the way with confident steps. The hunters, and I, followed at an easy pace. Hogun and Fandral walked with me, they did not try to talk to me, but the silence was easy. Baldr was not with us. Thor had decided to leave him behind on guard duty. I felt that this was a mistake. For all that I disliked the man, I would still rather have him where I could see him. I had no doubt he would use this time to gather support against Thor. Hopefully Volstagg would not be easily swayed by his words.

We travelled for two days, which included most of each night. The hunters were eager to reach their destination. The mood was infectious, and I found myself eager to arrive and see what they were so excited about.

We had travelled along the shoreline of the ocean until we reached a cove. The air smelled strange and unpleasant, like bird eggs, but worse. I wrinkled my nose which made Thor smile.

We made our way to a depression in the rocks. I realised that it was a narrow opening that ran a fair way along the ground. The smell was stronger and appeared to be coming from the crack. The hunters made their way down carefully and I followed.

We were in a cavern of sorts. The air smelt strange and the water below us had yellow rocks in it. But there was one very obvious thing about this cavern. The air was warm.

I watched as the hunters pulled their clothing off and jumped from where we stood into the water below. They landed with a splash and laughter. Thor was pulling his own clothes off and gestured for me to do the same. I complied, although I thought they were crazy.

Thor took my arm the second I was naked and jumped, pulling me off the rock and into the water below.

It was warm! The water was warm enough to flood my limbs with heat. I surfaced and gasped a lungful of the strange air. It wasn’t so bad now that I had been breathing it for a few minutes. Thor swam over to me and splashed me with the water. I laughed and splashed him back, swimming backwards the whole time so that he couldn’t catch up and grab me.

He was laughing as he gave chase. I reached a shallower part and splashed through the water as Thor followed. He caught me as the water reached my knees and wrapped his arms tightly around me. I twisted and struggled in his arms, but was helpless to stop him lifting me up and throwing me back into the deeper water.

Most of the other hunters were splashing about, but Fandral had climbed back out and was trying to start a fire with the sticks he brought with him. He was the best at lighting them, and before long the glow of the flames was lighting up the cavern.

Thor grabbed me again and we wrestled in the water. He pulled me around to face him and kissed me hungrily. His hands gripped my buttocks and squeezed them. Without either one of us trying to stay afloat we quickly sank. We came up laughing, splashing with our arms as we fought to keep our heads above the water.

Thor started swimming for the shallow part, gesturing for me to follow. I swam after him, and passed him easily. My years of fishing in the mountain rivers during the thaw had made me a strong swimmer. My tribe would tie ropes to themselves and dive into the rushing water to catch the fish as they swam past. Thor was less skilled, but he did not seem to mind and swam up beside me with a grin. He sat in the warm water and pulled me onto his lap. I leaned back and rested my head against his shoulder. He kissed me again, moaning softly in desire. One arm encircled my waist and chest, holding me close as his other hand snuck under my buttocks and probed my entrance with a gentle motion.

I made a noise of protest and tried to stop him. He leaned in close to my ear and whispered softy “flacks Lowki, ni hwew bu gool, flacks.”

He was trying to sooth me, but I didn’t want to be taken without the fat. I twisted in his lap and tried to pull his fingers away. Thor moved his hand but did not release me. He kissed my cheek softly and rubbed my back instead.

“Yrust da.” He murmured. “Lowki, ni hwew bu gool.”

His hand slid back down and his fingers probed me gently in the heated water. I tried to relax and keep calm. Thor would hurt me. He wouldn’t. He cared for me, he wouldn’t make me bleed.

His fingers were gentle as they breached me, slowly working their way inside. I turned my head to look at him. He saw my expression and smile reassuringly.

“Gool Lowki.” He said softly as his finger pressed gently deeper. “Gool.”

It didn’t hurt. I had been expecting it to but Thor was being very careful. My breathing was growing deeper and more laboured as he worked his fingers around carefully. His every movement was dedicated to opening me slowly, giving me time to adjust to every little stretch. He nuzzled my neck as he worked me open, trailing kisses along my shoulder and in my hair. I relaxed further under his attentions until I felt almost sleepy in the heat. His touch was soothing rather than alarming. I moaned softly and felt him smile again my skin. His fingers pushed a little deeper and I spread my legs in response. He worked so slowly, so patiently. I did not think he was capable of such a thing but he changed my mind with every tiny stroke.

I was moaning openly in his lap when he slipped his fingers from my body and lifted me onto his manhood. He lowered me slowly, inching me down onto him with steady hands. I groaned and rested my head back against him.

When he was fully seated inside me he kissed my shoulder lovingly and readjusted his grip around me. He placed his other hand on the rock below him and used it to help raise his hips in the water, thrusting carefully up into me. I gasped and moaned. There was no pain, only a burning pleasure that made me tingle from my head to my toes. The heat of the water, the feel of his strong arm, everything combined to drive me wonderfully insane with passion.

He rocked us in the water for a long time, slowly building up to a steady rhythm. He let go of his grip on the rock and curled his hand around my length. I was hard. I had not even realised it was happening. He stroked me firmly, even as he twitched his hips against me. I was lost in feeling; I had never been so carefully or so thoroughly loved.

I came with a gasp, and spilled into the water as Thor shuddered behind me. Afterwards we lazed about in each other’s arms until Fandral called out that he had heated some food. We swam to the rocks and climbed up. The other hunters were in a laughing mood, joking and shoving each other in good humour. I knew why. This place was a little warm haven in the middle of the cold of winter. I wondered why the tribe did not come here to stay, but looking around me more carefully I realised that there were no shells here, none of the ocean plant or even fish in the water. We were here to hunt seal, and while I did not know what it looked like whole, I could not see any life here at all.

I frowned as I looked around at the cavern. It seemed wonderful at first, but why wasn’t this place teaming with life?

We ate on the rocks above the water and waited until we were dry enough to pull our clothes back on. The air outside was fresh and clear. I breathed deeply as Thor led us further on to another site. There was a shelter built into the side of a rock face. The hunters settled there to sleep. We all lay in a big huddle, there was no room to spread out and with our hair still damp the cold was biting cruelly. It was worth it though, the water was amazing.

I fell asleep with Thor wrapped around me possessively and Hogun on my other side with his back carefully turned in my direction. I was looking forward to the next day when we would go on the hunt.

****

Morning came, and with it we rose and made our way to the ocean. We were on another cliff face, but it was not as high as the one the tribe camped on. The hunters stood and scanned the sight before them. There were rocks below, and birds circling above. Thor pointed at a crack in the cliff face, there was a stream of water coming out.

“Wemre aquat dom oot dere.” He said. “Liep seals dom dere lat liep wemre.”

I stared at him; I had understood almost none of that. Thor crouched on the ground and drew a picture. He drew the cavern from yesterday. I knew that because he drew us as well, and what we were doing. He shot me a cheeky grin as he did. I reached forwards and carefully wiped out about half his manhood. He shot me a scandalised look and redrew a bit of it, approximately halfway between our two original estimates. I let it go, shaking my head at him playfully.

Thor then added to the drawing. He showed the water trailing out to the ocean, then pointed down below. I nodded in understanding. The water was warm, the seals would come here for the warmth the same as we did.

We turned our attention back to the rocks below us. Thor scanned the area, then began to give instructions. He gestured for me to go with Fandral. I followed Fandral down to the rocks below and helped him tie a rope around a large one. We took the other end of the rope back up to the other hunters. Working together we hauled the rock up to the top of the cliff. We worked all day, pulling up large rocks as others scanned the area continuously for a seal.

By the afternoon we had a good selection piled on the cliff above the warm stream. The ocean had come in closer as we worked, but it did not come in far enough to catch us, the rocks here were too high. But now that it was closer, it would be easier for anything in the ocean to reach the warm stream.

Then one of the hunters gave a shout. He had seen a seal in the water. The hunters crouched down behind the rocks and gripped their spears tightly. Thor gestured to Fandral and Hogun to go down to the rocks on one side. He and another hunter set off for the other side. They crept down and waited out of sight of the approaching seal.

The rest of us stayed where we were. The seal swam around for an hour in the ocean as we watched. It was difficult waiting so long with no guarantee of success. I could see Thor from where I was. He was still, even after so long his instincts were still alert. I admired that about him.

Finally, the seal came closer. It swam up the stream of warm water and disappeared from our sight. The hunters beside me leaned forward and put their hands on the rocks. I joined them uncertainly.

Thor was watching the seal. I saw him raise his arm in some kind of signal and the hunters all heaved the rocks forward so that they fell down to the stream below.

Thor was already moving as the rocks began to fall. I heard them crash as the other hunters rose and ran in two groups to the ground below. I grabbed my spear and joined them.

The rocks had grazed the seal. It was trying to swim but was clearly injured. Thor leaped forward and threw his spear at it. He scored a direct hit and the seal squealed in pain. Fandral threw next as the hunters gathered around, yelling and screaming at it to try and keep it from trying to escape to the ocean.

It was bigger than I thought it would be. I stayed back and kept my spear ready in case it was needed. I knew too well how a wrong move could ruin a hunt. The others knew one-another’s moves well and my place was to be an extra spear *if* it was needed, not *when* it was needed.

I did help in the end. The seal was large and thrashed about wildly. The other hunters had thrown their spears and were struggling to get close enough to get them back. I ran forwards and jabbed my spear into its neck before jumping back as fast as I could. Even so it almost hit me. Despite its size it was fast. Thor jerked forward with concern in his eyes but I was already clear. Bravely, Thor ran forwards and shoved my spear in deeper, piercing the veins and causing the blood to gush out. The rest of the hunters just kept it in place until the blood had spilled enough and it began to grow sluggish.

The hunters kept harrying it until it began to fall. Its struggles got weaker and weaker, until at last Thor was able to dart in and grab another spear. He waited for his moment, and jammed the spear home. The seal shuddered in its death throes and went still.

The hunters roared in excitement and celebration. Thor was the loudest of all. He caught me up in his arms and kissed me hard.

Hogun took a knife and began to skin the seal. The moment he had skinned the head the hunters fell on it and began carving. It took until after nightfall to cut up the whole seal. The hunters wrapped the meat in ocean plant and carried it back to their sleeping place. The mood was bright and cheerful that night as we laid down together for sleep.

We visited the cavern again before we left. We all splashed about in the water like children, laughing and pushing one another from the rocks above. Thor pulled me aside again and took me from the front this time. He was gentle and took a great deal of time. At one point I saw Hogun watching silently, with Fandral grinning like an idiot over his shoulder. I ignored them. Thor was all I needed, and we rocked together lovingly in the heated water.

****

Our journey back was cold and difficult. It was snowing more now and the slush it left behind on the ground was making it harder to keep our balance. I slipped a few times on the patches of ice that were appearing everywhere.

Our arrival back was greeted warmly, but with a heavy feeling in the air. I watched as Ullr went up to his father and hugged him very tightly. Sif too looked worn and saddened.

“Wa id ni?” Thor asked.

What is it?

She swallowed and gestured to another woman, who was talking quietly and with tears in her eyes to a returning hunter named Hod. Before my eyes his shoulders drooped.

“Jeah kindri, Darna, woop fwa crill la liep lippes pad. Je id ded.” She said.

I knew ‘kindri’, that meant child, and ‘ded’. I didn’t need to know the rest, Hod bowed his head and began to cry.

Thor walked over to him and put a hand on his shoulder.

“Da apolo lat yu grif. Da apolo je id ded.” He said seriously.

Hod pulled the woman close and they held one another tightly. A child peeked out from behind another woman and Hod reached out and pulled the little girl into a tight hug. She was his other child, had by a different woman, who stood by with tears in her eyes. It seemed there had been no rivalry there, and now they were grieving together.

The mood was grim that night. The child, a boy named Darna, lay wrapped in a fur by the cave opening. I tried not to look at the small shape.

Thor held Ullr close and rocked the boy in his arms. I wondered if he was thinking of his other child, Magni. I had no idea how old Magni had been or how he had died. But I knew what grief felt like, I knew the anger that came with it, and the sense of helplessness.

Ullr was especially affected. He clung to his father and did not want to sleep by his mother’s side that night. Thor took him to bed with us and held him close, rocking him with soothing sounds when he woke from nightmares.

Darna, I knew, had been one of his friends. Ullr had probably seen the moment he had died. It could be a difficult thing to live with, as I well knew. I had never forgotten the moment of my father’s death, my nightmares had slowly faded with time, but they were always a part of me.

****

The next day the children were refusing to climb the cliff path. They stood at the top and shook their heads and pleaded with their parents. It was then that I knew how Darna had died. He had fallen. The path had grown slippery with ice and his feet must have skidded out from under him. I wondered if he had known what was happening as he fell, or if there had been no time for fear. I hoped it was the latter.

Thor stepped out on the path and Ullr began to cry. He was too scared to run after his father but terrified that Thor would also fall. Thor looked back at his son and held out a hand.

Ullr was shaking. He did not want to walk the cliff path. He had to though; it was the only way to get food. I remembered how hard it had been for me to return to the river the year after my father’s death. I spent all my time looking for The Scourge and living in fear that he would come and kill my uncle as well. Ullr had to face this. If he did not then he would not survive.

Slowly the boy inched forwards. He had tears streaming down his cheeks, and his grip on his little spear was white knuckled. But he carefully reached out and took his father’s hand.

Together they made their way slowly down the cliff path. Thor struck each patch of ice with the butt of his spear, speaking to Ullr as he did so.

I imagined that each year the children would need reminding of how treacherous the path could become, sadly this year the reminder was a large one.

The other hunters followed. Some children joined them; others stood on the top and cried. They were left there. As cruel as it was, the tribe could not afford to let them give in to their fear. They would have to come soon, or they would be useless in gathering.

I made my way from pool to pool, spearing the fish with my broken spear. Away from the tribe Thor had given me a proper one, with a bone head on it, but most of the tribe still did not trust me with a true weapon around their children. I was back to using my broken one. A part of me did not mind, even though it made my hunting harder. I had taken this spear, this piece of wood that did not belong on my tribe’s lands. It was mine in a way that I could not explain.

Thor was teaching Ullr to fish again, correcting his stance and his jabbing motions. Ullr was trying to pay attention, and was very deliberately not looking at the cliff path. I left them to it, and concentrated on catching enough food for myself, with some extra for the tribe to prove my worth.

Without some of the children, the gathering was less than it could have been. One or two of them braved the cliff path as we worked, but five of them had remained on top of the cliff.

I hoped that they would be able to join us tomorrow. I saw the faces of their parents; they were worried about them, and about what would happen if they did not climb down the path.

That afternoon, as the tribe gathered more wood and foraged for ever decreasing plant food, the hunters broke through the freezing earth and dug a small pit in the sand. When it was ready we all gathered together as Darna was laid down with his legs curled up against his chest. He had wounds on his face and head from falling, but otherwise he looked asleep. His mother shrieked in mourning as his father fell to his knees by the pit.

Darna’s younger sister carefully put his eating bowl by his side, and Hod placed a small fish in it with shaking hands. Then the hunters laid a skin over the pit and weighed it down with rocks on the edges. The skin was pulled tight and did not move much in the breeze.

Thor said something, a prayer I think, but most of the words were unfamiliar. He raised his hands as he spoke, and the tribe bowed down in response. I joined them. Their god had taken a sacrifice, he must be honoured in the hope he would take no more.

We made our way back into the cave and the women began to see to the food. Hod, his two women and his daughter remained by the grave until the light faded and Thor went out to retrieve them.

****

Baldr was looking smug. He spent a lot of time that night whispering in Hod’s ear, which I did not like, especially as his eyes kept glancing toward me. I watched him carefully as he talked, but I could not figure out what he was saying.

Hod did not appear to listen much; he was too grief-stricken. But Darna’s mother was hanging onto every word. I moved closer to Thor and tried not to pay any attention.

Sif was rubbing her belly slowly. She was not showing yet, but the death of Darna had made her worry, and her movements brought her comfort. We ate in silence and went to bed with our thoughts uneasy. Ullr wanted to sleep with Thor again, but he put the boy very firmly in his mother’s arms.

“Yu ledis a kep je wemre.” He said.

He took me to our bedding and started kissing me straight away. There was an edge to his kisses that I had not felt before. I allowed it for a little while, but then pulled back.

“Thor” I said, “Whi yu du kep Ullr wit yu?”

Why don’t you keep Ullr with you?

He sighed and wrapped his arms around me tightly.

“Je madra ledis je.” He said.

His mother needs him.

I rested my head on his shoulder and rubbed my hand slowly on his chest in a comforting, circular motion.

“Wha hew yu ledis?” I asked. What do you need?

He sighed and shifted until he was on top of me.

“Yu.” He breathed against my lips.

We moved slowly, as we had in the warm water on our hunt. Darna’s death was a sad end to a perfect time, and I almost felt as though Thor was trying to recreate the perfection, to make the grief disappear for a while.

When it was over he cradled me close and nuzzled my hair. I wasn’t sure what I should do, he seemed to need something more but I did not know what.

“Wha o Magni?” I asked gently as we lay there. I hoped my fractured words did not make me seem callous or cruel, but I wanted to know what had happened. I was certain that Thor’s dead child was on his mind. Perhaps I could help, if he let me.

Thor seemed surprised by my question, but then a knowing look came over his features.

“Ullr?” He asked.

I nodded. Ullr had told me, yes.

Thor seemed to think about it, staring at the cave roof as he did so, then he turned back to me.

“Magni por niye som, onu som. Je mani smirtek. Je mani gool craw.”

I tried to figure it out. He was the first son, and he was good at hunting, I did not know what ‘smirtek’ meant but it was a good thing, from the way Thor’s eyes shone with old pride.

“Magni fritlin berid. Berid fruk Magni bintwa da…” He broke off; tears were forming in his eyes. I held on to him tightly as he fought back his grief.

Magni had frightened a bear, and the bear had killed him. I remembered Sif’s face when she grabbed Ullr after he attacked the bear on the plains. The terror in her eyes took on an extra level now.

Thor took a huge breath and spoke again.

“Da hew du fruk berid bintwa Magni ded. Dap or woo struglin.”

Thor did not kill the bear in time, he was too ‘struglin’, from the context I thought the word meant ‘slow’ or ‘late’.

He held me tightly as I made soothing noises and stroked his hair. It was so easy to lose a child; they were so small and weak.

“Whe?” I asked him softy, when had this happened?

“Teveh nuel bintwa.” Thor said holding up three fingers.

Three years ago, I guessed. Ullr would have known his brother well then, and still ran toward the bear. He was his father’s son repeated.

I kissed Thor’s brow softly and just stroked his hair until his body relaxed and he finally settled into sleep.

****

The next day the adults made every child climb the cliff path. Some of them screamed in terror, but their parents were unmoved. Thor went first though, and broke the ice with his spear as best he could. Hod was listless at the pools, his strikes were weak and slow and his eyes were red. He watched Ullr as the boy tried to hunt, then abruptly threw his spear down and sat, shaking as the tears came again.

Ullr saw him and bit his lip. Taking a deep breath, the boy walked up to Hod and gently laid a hand on his shoulder.

“Darna por gool rinda.” He said. “Fwa gool som.”

Hod nodded and gave the boy a hug.

“Yu gool rinda a je, woo.” He said in reply.

I turned back to the pools. I was glad that we had caught the seal. Hod was in no state to hunt and the meat from the seal would keep his family fed for a little while as he grieved.

The other hunters seemed to understand, and no one tried to make him rise or go back to the hunt, not yet.

Baldr looked at Hod, then at me, his eyes were calculating.

“Wha hew yu tinka wit ta urgdu har?” He said to Hod.

I frowned, he had called me a monster again, but there was more to it, I could tell.

“Je id whi yu som ded.” Baldr continued with a sneer at me.

That I understood. Baldr was blaming me for Darna’s death, because I was a monster.

I shook my head violently.

“Du” I snapped. “Da du fruk Darna. I craw wit Thor.”

I didn’t kill Darna, I was hunting with Thor.

Baldr just grinned unpleasantly.

“Seidr.” He said simply, as though that solved everything.

The hunters all pulled back in horror at the word. I did not even know what it meant. I looked helplessly at Thor.

“Lowki du hew seidr.” He said. “I je hew seidr, whi da du fruk? Whi Darna fruk? Darna du maim Lowki. Du seidr, du.”

He was asking why I hadn’t killed him instead of Darna with this ‘seidr’ I hoped his reasoning worked. The reaction of the tribe was terrifying. I had no doubt that if they could be convinced of this ‘seidr’ then I would die tonight.

Baldr just shook his head.

“Je id urgdu.” He said again.

Thor growled and strode forward to face him.

“Du urgdu.” Thor said in a low, dangerous voice. “Lowki gool.”

Baldr shoved him.

The hunters gasped and exchanged looks. I could tell that something big was about to happen.

“Da kalla yu Thor, I kall yu lat Allfada!” Baldr shouted.

The rest of the tribe heard him and looked up. Thor’s eyes narrowed.

“Da hinahden.” He said quietly, and dangerously.

The tribe went back to gathering, the hunters went back to fishing, Thor and Baldr included. Whatever had happened appeared to be over, or so I thought.

When the ocean began to approach and the tribe climbed back up to the top of the cliff, Thor and Baldr walked to a clear area and faced one another, their eyes calculating. Baldr had a spear, Thor had his hammer.

They were going to fight. What Baldr had done on the rocks was challenge Thor. I stood and watched nervously. Baldr was smaller than Thor, but not by all that much. He was a strong hunter and a good one, and he knew how to use that spear.

Thor was bigger, and very fast. He was incredible with his hammer, but it lacked the reach of a spear.

They circled one another carefully, each making slight feints to draw the other into striking. Baldr broke first, and swung his spear up at Thor’s head. He pulled the swing back just as Thor began to duck and sent the point in a jabbing motion instead. Thor dodged that too and darted in close. He swung the hammer and narrowly missed hitting Baldr’s hip bone.

The tribe were crying out encouragement, some for Thor, and some for Baldr. He had not gone into this challenge without allies.

Baldr had ducked back and swung again, forcing Thor to dodge awkwardly. Baldr took advantage of the moment and reversed the swing, catching Thor across his chest. Thor grunted from the impact but recovered and grabbed the spear in one hand, with the other he brought his hammer down onto the spear, close to the centre, breaking it in two.

Baldr was left holding a much smaller weapon, although the broken end was still sharp. Thor threw away the other piece so that Baldr could not use it.

The circled again, Baldr was growing more desperate. Without the full length of his spear he was less effective as a fighter. Thor just kept circling, he was calm and confident.

Baldr made one more attempt to swing at Thor, trying to repeat his move from earlier that had almost worked, but the length of the spear was wrong now, and Thor knocked it aside easily and swung the hammer hard into Baldr’s stomach.

Baldr hit the ground with his breath gone and lay there gasping helplessly. I hoped that Thor would take the opportunity to finish him, but he did not. He raised his hammer in victory and walked away, leaving Baldr to his defeat.

I would have killed him. A headman could not afford a challenger. But Thor must have felt more confident.

He smiled and pulled me in for a victory kiss. Baldr sneered from the ground. I saw him mutter the word ‘urgdu’ again, but he did not dare to say it loudly so soon after his defeat.

****

The next few weeks were a struggle against the cold and the wind. It snowed most days, although it would turn to slush quickly. But that brought its own complications. The shell creatures were becoming scarce. The ocean plant too was almost gone. The fish were our lifeline but even they were getting harder to come by. It would soon be time to hunt seal again. But in the meantime there were the cliff birds.

We sat on the edge and waited for Thor’s signal. He was watching the birds arrive with a shrewd gaze. When he stood we moved with him, and brought the net down against the side of the cliff with a slap. We started to pull it up, but the edge caught on the rock. Volstagg tugged at it, but it wasn’t moving. Thor yelled for the hunters to keep the net pulled tight so that the birds could not escape, then he swung down the side of the cliff towards the caught net. I stood still and silently prayed for his safety. The net did not get caught often but when it did I was always nervous.

Thor was at the bottom of the net. He called out for us to loosen our grip slightly. We did so and he pulled the net free of the rocks. I watched as Thor began to climb back upwards. He looked up and grinned at me as he climbed. Then Baldr was *there* right by my side with a handful of net. He jerked it hard and the whole thing swung out. Thor was thrown backwards with the net, and then slammed back against the rock as it returned. His grip failed, and before my eyes Thor fell backwards down into the ocean below.

I screamed in fear as he fell away from me. His eyes were wide and uncomprehending, as if he couldn’t understand how he could be falling. Then he was too small to see properly, but the white splash was unmistakable.

The other hunters had let go of the net in shock, it tumbled down after him. The sight of it falling shook me out of my frozen stance. If the net fell on him then it would drag him down and he would drown.

I ran for the cliff path, tugging at my clothing ties as I did. I needed to lose the furs, they would only drag me down. I knew what I was going to do even though it was stupid, even though my chances were low. I had to get him, I had to, he was everything.

I loved him.

I ran down the cliff path naked, my foot slipped halfway down and I fell forwards. I splashed into the ocean’s cold embrace and started kicking straight away. I headed for the cliff frantically. I had to find him.

The ocean pushed me forwards towards the cliff. It lifted me and carried me faster than I could swim. As I approached the cliff I saw Thor struggling in the waves. He was caught in the net and was desperately trying to keep his head above the water.

The ocean lifted me again, pushing me towards him, but then the wave caught up with Thor. He was lifted high and thrown against the cliff hard. I screamed in the water as he hit. He fell back down and started struggling again, but his movements were weaker.

I crossed the final distance and grabbed the net where it embraced him. His mouth dropped open and his eyes nearly popped out of his head. I ignored him, I was always surprising him anyway.

I pulled him free of the net as the waves lifted us again. Thor wrapped his arms around me and took the impact as we were slammed against the cliff. Even so I lost my breath and fought desperately to suck more air inside as the ocean rested.

Thor was heavy in his furs, he couldn’t get them off and so had to struggle with the weight. I tried to swim with him back towards the cliff path, but we got nowhere, I could not swim properly with my arms around him.

I knew what I had to do, I just hoped he understood.

I pushed the net into his arms, pulled one of the larger holes over my head, and swam away from him.

I fought the waves as hard as I could. I felt the net pull tight against my waist as it reached its limit. Now the hard work began. I swam hard as it dug into me, pulling Thor and the net against the waves. The ocean was not pleased, and pushed us both back hard. I renewed my efforts and fought back, making up some distance whenever the ocean rested. The chill of it was sinking into my limbs and the horrible salty water kept splashing into my mouth.

I did not give up; every stroke was one closer to the cliff path. I wished I could look behind me and see Thor, but if I stopped the ocean would push me back and I would have to make it up again. I had to trust that he could keep his head above the water.

It took a lifetime, but slowly, slowly, oh so slowly, I made progress against the waves. I could see the cliff path. I could see two figured standing there, waving at me. I forced yet more effort from my aching muscles as tears spilled from my eyes. My body was like a sodden log. My arms and legs felt so heavy I did not know how I was still lifting them. My waist was burning where the net cut into me. I fought on, sobbing in agony as I made it across the last little distance and grabbed the spear end that Hogun was holding out for me. He and Fandral were standing together just above the waves. They pulled me from the waves and onto the rock.

I lay there gasping as they reached past me and grabbed the net. Heaving hard they pulled it in until they could reach Thor. I watched as they pulled him from the waves. He was limp in their arms. I cried out and tried to reach him but I could not raise my arms. Relief flooded my body as he raised his head and looked at me. He was injured, and exhausted from keeping his head above the water, but he was alive. Hogun put Thor’s arm over his shoulders and began to make his way back up the cliff path. Fandral cut the net off me, grabbed me around the waist and did the same.

Out of the water the cold air bit into me hard, and I could feel my body starting to freeze. By the time we reached the top of the cliff my legs were not working properly. I was feeling hot and cold at the same time, and my vision was fading into blackness. I saw Baldr being pressed into the dirt beneath Volstagg. He looked furious. The ground began to rise up toward me. I had a moment of confusion as I wondered why the world was tilting before I fell into darkness and knew nothing more.

****

I woke up warmer than I had ever felt before. I was in the centre of a pile of bodies; we were all naked and covered with furs. The whole tribe was pressed around me. I turned my head and tried to see Thor, on the edge of my vision I saw him. Sif was on one side, Fandral on the other, Ullr lay above his head, curled around the top of his father’s hair. Unlike me, there was nobody on top of him. I saw him take a slow breath and allowed myself to relax.

Movement caught my eye and I turned my head to see. Frigga was sitting by the fire, carefully stirring the pot. She looked haggard and her eyes were red. The Scourge sat by her side, his arms were wrapped around her as he murmured soothing words in her ear.

I tried to rise, but couldn’t. My body was not working. I made a noise of alarm.

Frigga’s head shot up and she saw me. A smile graced her lips and she scooped a little stew into a bowl and came over to me.

“At.” She told me, holding out the steaming bowl.

I tried to rise again. She slipped her hand beneath my head and helped me raise enough to sip at the stew.

I ate it all with her help, and then put my head back down.

“Is Thor alright?” I asked. I was so tired I could not remember the words.

She seemed to understand and her expression became sad.

“Thor maim.” She said.

I frowned, I knew that one, I know I did.

Hurt. Thor was hurt.

I tried to see him again. I could not hide my distress.

“Je hwew bu hinahden.” The Scourge said. “Je torgg.”

I took comfort from his tone, even though I was too tired to try and work out the words.

My eyes were closing. I could not keep them open. I fell back into sleep.

The next time I woke it was daylight. Most of the tribe were gone hunting and gathering but there were a few still pressed against me. I tried again to rise but my limbs would not obey me. One of the men pressed against me threw an arm over my chest and held me down with no effort at all.

“Yu sten.” He said and put his head back on the furs.

I obeyed, I could do nothing else. I turned to see Thor, he was still sleeping. I wanted to lie against him as Sif did, but we were kept apart. I understood in a way. Putting us together when we were both freezing would do nothing to help warm us up, but now that I was warmer there should be no objection.

I was too tired to argue. I could already feel the darkness pressing again. It was persistent, and would take no denial. I slept again.

It took me three days to recover enough to move about. Thor had woken but could not move. He had pain in his chest that kept him still, but he had not gotten worse since being warmed by the tribe. If he stayed still, he would recover. But it would be slow, and the winter was still long. Thor’s condition was a big problem for him, for Sif, for Ullr, for Frigga, for The Scourge, and for me.

And then there was Baldr. He had been tied to a post since his act against Thor, but he could not stay there forever. It did not help that he still had a large number of supporters. They knew he had done the wrong thing by attacking Thor, but they still thought that he should lead the tribe. He was a strong personality, and that type of person will always attract a certain level of support.

I was almost strong enough to go hunting when Baldr announced that he challenged Thor for the leadership again.

Thor’s supporters were outraged. It was clear to them that Thor could not fight anyone. They yelled and shook their arms in disgust. Baldr just sat calmly and waited for them to finish.

“Wei ledis ta Allfada.” He said smugly.

We need a leader.

He was right. Without a headman the tribe had no one to settle the disputes, or to give direction. Thor could not do it, he had lost his place.

Baldr stood, tugging at his bonds. He clearly felt that he had the support to take the tribe. Thor’s supporters looked at one another. There were more of them, but without their leader they were lost.

Then Fandral stood. He raised his spear and stared Baldr down.

“Da hwew fruk yu.” He said.

He was going to fight Baldr for the leadership of the tribe. One of Baldr’s supporters cut him free and he grabbed his spear. I took the opportunity to crawl over to where Thor lay. I took his hand in mine and squeezed his fingers. He smiled at me, but it was strained. He knew how hard the rest of winter would be for his kin, doubly so if Baldr won.

The two men sized one another up, Baldr was bigger, Fandral was more wiry and a more accurate spear thrower. There was no telling which way this could go.

Thor was watching from where he lay. He looked concerned. I saw him try to move, but a look of pain crossed his face and he stopped.

The hunters climbed up out of the cave. I followed; I had to see what would happen.

The hunters settled into a circle as the two men in the middle began to move around one another, searching for an opening. Baldr darted in and jabbed, forcing Fandral back. Fandral swung and their spears slammed together with a loud crack. Baldr used his strength to push Fandral backwards. Fandral didn’t have the strength to resist him and was forced to give ground.

My heart was in my mouth. I needed Fandral to win, but Baldr was forcing him back with every swing. I bit my lip and prayed to my god for Fandral’s victory.

Fandral gathered his strength and brought his spear up sharply through Baldr’s defense. The head pieced Baldr’s clothing and caught. Baldr yelped in pain and pulled back, unfortunately pulling the spear from Fandral’s hands at the same time. Baldr stood sideways, keeping his injured side away from Fandral as he tried to free the spear from his clothing. Fandral darted back and forth, trying to find an opening that would allow him to take back his spear. Baldr did not allow it, and managed to pull the spear free.

He tossed it far from Fandral and swung his own spear around, aiming at Fandral’s head.

Fandral ducked and rolled under Baldr’s swing and came up on the other side. He ran to his spear and snatched it up, narrowly blocking Baldr’s next swing. The tribe gasped in response at the quick movement. Baldr reversed the swing and Fandral managed to block it, but he was in a bad position and was forced to give ground. Baldr pressed the advantage, and kept forcing Fandral back towards the cliff edge.

He was going to lose. Fandral was running out of options and he hadn’t managed to injure Baldr enough to make a difference.

I slipped away from the crowd and dropped down into the cave. I ran to Thor’s and my bedding and snatched up my pots of honey and hvonn. I put them into a bag and grabbed my broken spear. I ran back to the rope. I could see Thor lying on the ground, Ullr sat by his side.

Thor could see the outcome of the fight in my eyes. I did not think his look of pain had much to do with his chest.

“Da amor yu.” He said.

I did not know that word. I ran to his side and kissed him goodbye. I kissed him as hard as I dared. Then I ran back to the rope and climbed up.

Fandral was on the ground, he was trying to stop Baldr’s strikes but Baldr was slaming his spear down as hard as he could. I could see Volstagg trying to calm him before Fandral died, but Baldr did not listen. I saw madness in his eyes, the bloodlust of the hunt, of a kill.

Fandral was going to die.

I probably shouldn’t have done it.

No, I *definitely* shouldn’t have done it.

I scooped up a handful of slushy sand and threw it at Baldr’s head.

It was freezing, at hit him solidly. He was startled out of his rage and spun, scanning the crowd for the perpetrator. Fandral took advantage of the distraction to crawl away and stumble into a run.

I ran too, we were heading in the same direction into the darkness. Behind me I heard Baldr’s shriek of rage as he realised that Fandral was gone. I heard him screaming at the tribe, but in the darkness and the cold I hoped that he would not be stupid enough to demand they go after him.

I wasn’t sure if they had noticed my absence yet, but it was only a matter of time. Baldr would order my death straight away. I had to go. My chances of survival were low. The winter was too cold for one man alone, and I had no food with me. But if I could get as far as the cavern then I could at least have warmth. I ran on through the darkness, hoping that I would not go tumbling off the cliff by accident.

I made it as far as the cavern. I had not stopped running for almost two days. I ate snow and forced myself to keep moving to stop the cold from seizing me. The cavern would be a good stopping place for a time, but there was no ready food there. I would need to find some as soon as possible. The seals were far too big for me to hunt alone, but maybe I could find some fish further along the shore.

I climbed carefully down into the warmth of the cavern and finally let myself rest. My eyes drooped closed and my head sank into my chest. I was exhausted, and probably going to die. Thor was injured and his family would struggle to feed themselves. Fandral was on the run and likely to die from the cold. His children would go hungry as well.

Things were bad. I could not see any way to fix it. We were halfway through winter and in serious trouble.

****

I woke to a hand pressing against my shoulder. I jerked awake and jumped back, hitting my back against the rock as my hand groped frantically for my spear.

It was Fandral. He had come to the same conclusion as me and headed for the one place where he would be able to stay warm alone.

I relaxed only a little. He was banished and likely desperate. But once he had woken me he settled back and sat nearby.

We just watched one another for a while. Neither one of us were stupid. Our chances were better together than they were alone. I had my broken spear, Fandral had held on to his intact one, beyond that though we had nothing.

“Wei ledis stints.” He said.

Sticks, for a fire. I nodded.

“Trorres?” I asked. Saying their word for trees.

Fandral nodded and pointed.

“Du rar.” He said.

Not far.

We were both exhausted, but we had to work if we were to survive, we did not have the luxury of sleep just yet.

We climbed back out of the warmth of the cavern and immediately began to shiver. The air was moist in there, and our skin prickled with the cold as the wind blew.

We made our way to the nearby trees and began to gather sticks. There were not many, the hunters had taken many of them the last two times they had come to hunt seal. I started pulling some of the smaller branches off the trees themselves. Fandral saw what I was doing and joined me.

We went back to the cavern with enough sticks for a small fire. Fandral began to work on getting the sticks to light. He had trouble. The sticks were wet from the snow and the newer ones still had their greenness which made them less likely to burn. He persisted though, and eventually was able to get a small flame which we carefully fed with leaves, building it up slowly until it could take small sticks. For a long time we worked on the fire. We needed it to dry out the rest of the sticks so that we might start another one somewhere else. We knew we couldn’t stay here forever, the tribe would eventually come hunting seal again and we would have to flee until they were gone.

We did not swim, we avoided the water entirely. With only two of us it would be too difficult to stay warm afterwards. Instead we stuck to the top of the cavern, high enough to stay mostly dry, but close enough to still have warmer air than what blew outside.

We went hunting the following morning, when we were rested. There was truly nothing in the cavern, but down near where the warm water met the ocean there were a few pools further along the shoreline. We did not find any fish, but I pulled out some ocean plant and Fandral used the tip of his spear to cut free a few of the larger shell creatures.

We had no bowls for cooking, so we put the shell creatures upside down in the hot ashes to cook and ate the ocean plant raw. I hated it, but forced it down. Food was scarce and I was not stupid.

The shell creatures shrank without water to boil in, but we ate the chewy result all the same. We smashed the shells open to get every last piece of the creature. Even so it was a pitiful meal.

We did not speak much, perhaps if I had the words we could have discussed our situation, but while I had learned much, I did not know how to tell Fandral my thoughts, and he almost certainly felt likewise.

Instead we concentrated on survival. We gathered every day by the ocean. We had to go quite far before we could find enough food, and I wondered whether this would make a better camp than the cavern. But if we stayed near the shore then we would have to lie against one another at night for warmth. I did not want to do that. Even if it meant nothing, I did not want to lie near anyone but Thor.

Fandral was of a different mind. When we were done gathering he began to scout the area for a good place to set up a new camp. I knew that if I refused to go with him then he would be forced to go back to the cavern for warmth, but he would be angry. My reluctance was running contrary to my survival. Mostly I just hoped that he would not find anywhere suitable.

The day I caught a fish was one of celebration. We wrapped it in some of our precious, yet disgusting, ocean plant and cooked it in the ashes. It was delicious, quite possibly the best fish I had ever eaten.

Chapter Text

For three days we struggled through, eating little and working hard. Fandral had found a good spot for a shelter. It was a shallow curve under a small cliff, and after the day’s foraging he would build the snow up to form a wall across the front to cut the wind. I helped him. We could not stay in the cavern, it was getting harder each morning to leave the moist air and step out into the freezing winter winds. I had to accept that fact, as hard as it may be.

We finished the shelter on the fourth day and it was clear that Fandral had no intention of returning to the cavern. He had brought the dry sticks with him, and started making a new fire. I sat down reluctantly and tried not to think about the coming night.

We ate our meagre findings and sat watching the fire for a while. We spoke only rarely. What was there to say really? I admired him for standing up to Baldr, but unfortunately he was not strong enough. This was the price of a failed challenge against a harder leader than Thor.

When the night became too late to avoid sleep, Fandral lay down and looked at me expectedly.

I swallowed hard and made myself crawl over to him. I was rigid as he put his arms around me. He was warm, but I found myself longing for a different set of arms.

“Lowki?” He said. His voice was low and his breath tickled my ear.

I shifted enough so I could look at him, he was very close.

“Yu erd lat Thor.” He said seriously. “Je amor yu.”

You are for Thor. He *something* you.

Something inside of me loosened at his words. Fandral had been incredibly obvious about his flirting with me, but underneath his play he had no intention of pursuing his friend’s lover.

Wait. Lover. Love. How could I have missed it! Thor said it to me himself. He *loves* me. He said it straight to me and I hadn’t understood. Suddenly I wanted to go running right back to the cave. I would kill Baldr single-handedly and save my Thor!

Then the cold seeped back into my thoughts. I was highly unlikely to succeed with such a plan. I had to stay here and survive. After a time, maybe, I would be fit and strong enough to creep back and push Baldr right off the cliff. He should never have been made headman.

But until then, at least I knew Fandral wasn’t going to try anything.

I let my body relax.

“Jar.” I said in agreement. My voice sounded lonely, and I wondered how Thor was coping with his injury. I hoped he wouldn’t do anything stupid, like challenge Baldr before he was healed.

Fandral settled down and shut his eyes. He had said all he needed to. I lay back and tried to think only of survival. I had to survive, for my kin, for Thor.

****

Two days later, I made a discovery.

We had gone inland a little way searching for more trees to harvest sticks from. We had found a small wood and were making our way through gathering the sticks when I saw something in the distance.

I held a hand out to Fandral and we both stilled.

It was a blood trail. Something had been attacked and had run away, but it’s blood had flowed enough to mark its route.

There was no question, we followed.

We walked for a while; the trail had left splatters in the snow that were easy to see. Finally we reached a point where the trees ended and a snow field began. I heard something, and frowned.

I knew that sound. It was the sound of wolves.

In the depths of winter wolves became a deadly problem. They were starting to starve, and would find and attack a tribe if they couldn’t find anything better. But these wolves were not on the hunt. I knew that because I knew the noises they were making. They had already made a kill.

And if Fandral and I were clever, we could scavenge some of that kill for ourselves.

I crept forward, keeping a look out for any stray pack members, but they were all occupied. The pack had brought down a reindeer. They had feasted on most of it and were milling around as the weakest member of the pack ate his fill. The liver and kidneys, as well as most of the good flesh, were gone. But there was a hind leg left, underneath the carcass. I could see it. That would do very well for two hungry men.

It was a good thing that the pack was well fed. We did not have the manpower to fight them, and with a full belly rather than an empty one they would be more likely to run than fight.

I pulled a branch off the nearest tree. It had a lot of tiny branches that made me look much bigger when I held it above my head.

Fandral saw what I was doing and looked at me as though I was mad. I knew his tribe fished their way through the winter, but I had not realised how little experience they had with wolves.

I handed him the branches and carefully pulled another free. The pack was still picking at the carcass; they were getting close to the hind leg. If they freed it, they would eat it, there was no question of letting it lie when food was so scarce.

I took a deep breath and ran towards them. I screamed at the top of my lungs as I did. I waved the branch wildly, over my head and out in front of me.

The pack scattered. Their first instinct was to flee an unknown danger and I took full advantage of that.

Fandral came up behind me, yelling out too. His voice sounded terrified.

We reached the carcass and I immediately pulled the leg free. We had to work quickly, the pack might just decide to come back and defend their kill.

Fandral dropped his branch and used a sharpened stone that he’d found while foraging to cut the leg free of the rest of the carcass. He worked quickly as I stood over him and yelled, waving both branches around in a circle.

The moment he had the leg he stood and started running back to the trees. I followed him. We were laughing like children as we reached the branches. We had done it, we had stolen food form the wolves and gotten away with it.

We ran back to our shelter, looking over our shoulder the whole time. I knew it was unlikely that the pack would follow, they were more likely to go back to pulling the last of the meat from the carcass, but even so, I checked more than once.

We cooked the leg over the fire and tore into it like animals. My belly hurt when I was done, it had grown used to being hungry. Fandral had to lie down and hold his stomach for a while, but it was worth it.

We kept some of the meat aside for the next day, in case we couldn’t find any other food. We searched along the shoreline looking for fish, shells and plant. Slowly, our route took us back to where the warm water flowed from the cavern.

We didn’t like going there. It was too depressing. Seals came in quite regularly to splash about in the warmer water, but with only two of us, they were impossible to hunt. Instead we could only stand there and watch them longingly, with hunger in our eyes.

Still, on this day we had not had any luck further along so we found ourselves back at the rocks.

The tribe was there.

Fandral saw them first and pushed me down behind a rock. We peeked out and watched as the tribe tied the rocks and hauled them upwards in preparation for hunting the seals.

In the distance I saw a familiar figure, one I was not expecting to be here on the hunt.

It was The Scourge.

He was working with Volstagg and Hogun. Together they tied the rocks and made sure they were secure before giving a shout for the others to haul them up.

It was the most dangerous job, if you didn’t tie the rope correctly, then the rock could fall back down on your head.

Thor had made us all take it in turns, himself included. But it seemed Baldr ran things differently.

The Scourge was struggling to get up the rocks. He looked exhausted, but he pushed through. I supposed that he had to, with Thor injured there was no one else to hunt for them. At least by joining the tribe to hunt seal The Scourge should get some of the spoils.

We watched them work for a while, then Fandral went to move away. We still had to find food for ourselves after all.

I joined him reluctantly. I wanted to see if I could talk to The Scourge, and ask how Thor was. But it was a silly thing to want. We would be spotted and run off as strangers.

We searched further along the shoreline again, but there was depressingly little. We could hear the sounds of the tribe yelling to one another as they worked.

We were about to give up and head back to our shelter to finish the reindeer leg when I saw The Scourge in the distance.

He was shuffling along as fast as he could, looking behind him guiltily for traces of pursuit. Fandral and I exchanged puzzled looks and followed him.

He made it to a small patch of trees, then headed out just beyond them. He was out of breath and struggling, but knelt and started to dig around under the snow.

I stepped forwards, deliberately letting my feet crunch onto the snow so that he knew I was there.

He jumped anyway, and turned around suspiciously. When he saw it was us he relaxed a little. He didn’t look surprised.

“Odin.” Fandral greeted him. I nodded.

He looked from one of us to the other and shook his head.

“Yu doofoo. Yu kif yu bur ip liep hollot.”

Fandral cringed. I wasn’t sure what he said. Fandral saw my look and mimed warming his hands by a fire.

My eyes widened in understanding. We had left the remains of our fire in the cavern. The tribe had seen it and they knew we were about.

The Scourge had gone back to digging. He was almost frantic.

I got down and helped him, it must be important, whatever it was he was after under the snow.

We reached the rocks, and I gasped as The Scourge cleared a hole. There was a cave here. He kept digging, trying to clear it.

When the hole was big enough, he carefully climbed down. I followed him, as did Fandral.

The cave was a good one, small, but completely contained. There was a river that ran through the bottom, and in it I saw some fish.

The Scourge wasted no time, but hobbled to the river and started trying to spear them. I joined him, as did Fandral. I realised that this place must have been his secret, and that the rest of the tribe had no idea it was here. I wondered why he had never told anyone, not even Thor, unless he did, but hunting seal was considered a better use of time.

He caught two, and stuffed them in his bag. Fandral caught one. I was not having any luck with my broken spear. The Scourge nodded to us both, and went to leave. Clearly he did not wish to share this place with anyone else.

He climbed back up with difficulty, and left us to our hunting.

I hoped no one in the tribe had noticed his absence, or the fish he caught. I had a feeling that this place was special somehow, I would hate for someone like Baldr to find out about it.

We fished until we had enough for a good meal, and then left the cave. I put a fallen branch over the spot and Fandral and I pushed the snow back as best we could.

The tribe had not caught a seal. I could hear them complaining in the distance. Fandral and I went the other way.

The next day the tribe tried again, but this time they were more successful. We watched them from behind a rock as they killed and butchered the seal. We were hoping that they might not be able to carry it all, then we could scavenge their leavings, but instead Baldr just overloaded The Scourge.

The moment his back was turned Hogun took some of The Scourge’s load. Volstagg took some more a few minutes later. I was glad that Thor’s friends were helping him. Judging by The Scourge’s actions, sneaking away and fishing when he should be with the tribe hunting, he clearly believed that he would not be getting much seal for his efforts. That was wrong, but I could not do anything about it. Not yet.

But I swore to myself on my father’s honour that I would find a way to remove Baldr as headman. For the good of the tribe, and for Thor.

Chapter Text

We returned to the cave to fish each day. Some days we were unsuccessful, but on others we had many fish to try and catch. We soon realised that the fish were more plentiful during the times when the ocean rose, so we would visit then.

Fandral wanted to move to the cave. It was more sheltered, and closer to the food source. I had no objection, and we set up a new fire and moved our meagre possessions.

No sooner than we had the fire going that I noticed something I had been unable to see before with only the light form the entryway. There were paintings on the walls.

I picked up a stick and started to follow the painting along the cave wall. Fandral saw what I was doing and followed me.

The paintings told a story. There was a man who wore two stubby horns on his head. He was shown to have travelled far and wide. Then he gained a wife with dark hair painted with charcoal. They went back to his tribe together.

Then tragedy struck. His tribe was attacked and many were killed. He fled away to the ocean with those that were left. He found the cave with the stream and they survived on the fish.

The tribe were small and weak. I could tell because they were drawn very small compared to the animals they hunted and the fish they caught.

But then, the man made a spear with a special end. It was drawn far bigger than it would have been in life, to show its importance. The spear helped the man fight another tribe, a short tribe armed with axes. I realised that they were the dwarfs.

The tribe became strong. They went back and attacked the ones who had slaughtered them. They drove the men away and took the woman. The man with the horns was victorious.

But then it showed him travelling back to the cave. It showed him lying down, with his spear beside him. He was dead. In the cave. This cave.

Fandral made a whimpering noise behind me.

“Bor.” He whispered.

I turned to look at him, he looked terrified in the firelight.

“Bor?” I whispered.

“Dadra a Odin.” Fandral said.

Father to Odin. No wonder The Scourge knew of this cave. This was the resting place of his father. He had probably painted some of the pictures himself. Bor was the one who found this place, who guided his tribe through trying times.

I turned around and looked just beyond where the pictures ended.

On the ground before me was a helmet made of bone, with two horns.

I heard Fandral run away behind me. In truth I was almost ready to follow him. This was a sacred place, one that The Scourge had only disturbed because he was desperate.

But he hadn’t turned us away either. He hadn’t told us to go and leave this place. I took a tiny step closer.

There was an old spear lying on the rock. It was rotted and useless. The head appeared to be made of something green. It wasn’t a rock, or a bone. I did not touch it.

The helmet intrigued me. Thor’s tribe did not appear to wear them. My tribe did for ceremonies and magic by the shaman, but not into battle. It wasn’t a bad idea though, if you could make one that fit well, and didn’t fall over your face in key moments.

I bowed my head to the grave; there was no sense in angering Bor’s spirit.

“We thank you for the fish, and for our safety.” I said to him, and turned back to find Fandral.

Fandral was pacing near the entrance. He no longer wanted to stay in the cave. I could not convince him, it seemed Bor was a great legend among his people and he was afraid of the power of the man’s spirit.

I suppose I should have been more frightened, but there was a mystical feeling to the cave. It was a place that felt protected, and calm. I was sure that if Bor objected to us we would have known from the moment we stepped inside.

Fandral could not be convinced, so we took our things back to the other shelter.

I fished there daily, but Fandral no longer joined me. He spent his time hunting and gathering along the shore. I tried not to mind, although I was now bringing in the most food. We would eat better if he were not so afraid.

I wondered if he had ever known Bor, or if it was just the stories that had him so terrified.

For ten days we struggled through. Every night I lay in the shelter and wished that the arms around me belonged to Thor. Every night I dreamed he would come and take me back to the cave, where he would lie me down and tell me he loved me.

We found just enough food to keep us going. The winter was now at its height. The dark days would soon begin to lighten a little more, and the cold would start to fade not long afterwards. I hoped that Thor was alright, and that The Scourge was managing to find enough food for his family, despite his age slowing him down.

The next day, as I was walking to the cave to fish, I heard the hunters on the shore.

I crept down to the rocks to watch them. Fandral was already there, crouching low. The Scourge was with them again. He looked very thin, and his arms were shaking as he tried to tie the ropes around the rocks in preparation for the seal hunting.

Fandral made a frustrated noise in the back of his throat. I had no doubt he was thinking of his children. I narrowed my eyes at Baldr, who was striding around boldly without doing any work.

He had Thor’s hammer. HE HAD THOR’S HAMMER!

He was carrying it with a certain amount of difficulty, but even so I could not stop the growl from forming in my throat. Evidently he had claimed it as the weapon of the headman, But in my mind the hammer was Thor’s, just as the special spear tip had been Bor’s and The Scourge had his Gungnir. Baldr did not deserve it.

I had visions of charging him, but he had his two closest allies with him, I had no chance. I tensed anyway and tightened my grip on my spear.

Fandral saw and laid a hand on my shoulder to keep me still. He shook his head at me, trying to get me to see sense. I hated it, but I could do nothing.

We reluctantly turned away and went to our respective tasks.

I had caught three fish when The Scourge turned up. He looked hurried, and kept looking behind him. I had a feeling that he had been under closer scrutiny than last time.

I gave him my fish. They were of a decent size, and it meant he could turn back straight away.

He looked surprised at my gesture, but he was no fool, and took them without argument.

“Thor?” I asked as he turned away.

“Je id nech hinahden. Sort je hwew craw ghen.” He said and left quickly.

He is much better. Soon he will hunt again.

I was glad. Thor would provide food for everyone again. I hoped that little Ullr wasn’t suffering too much for his family’s misfortune.

I caught another fish before they all disappeared with the changing ocean, and went back to the shelter to find Fandral.

We were very subdued that night. We ate without speaking even the bare minimum of words and lay down to sleep as soon as we were finished.

****

I was woken by the sound of thunder.

The sky was angry, and it had brought down a storm onto the ocean. I could just see it in the distance. I remembered the last time they had fought. I remembered how afraid I had been. I also remembered how violent the fighting had been. Our shelter was nowhere near good enough to withstand it.

Fandral had come to the same conclusion and had already grabbed his spear. I picked up the food we had left and we both started running. There were two places that were safe enough for us to survive the storm’s anger. Fandral was afraid of one of them, and I wasn’t sure I could find it in the dark anyway. That only left the cavern.

I was going to face Baldr now whether I liked it or not.

We ran as fast as we could before the storm reached us. We had almost made it when ice and rain began to all to the ground in earnest.

We reached the cavern and slid down through the opening to the moist warm air below.

I was right. The tribe had relocated there to wait out the storm. They were all sitting quietly together as the thunder crashed overhead.

Baldr’s eyes almost fell from his head he was so shocked to see us, but then he grinned in triumph and stood, hammer and spear in hand. He marched over to us both as we sat awkwardly on the rocks where we had landed. Fandral stiffened in alarm as he came closer, but I was nearer to him and a more appealing target.

Baldr raised his spear and swung. I caught it with my broken one and forced it up so that the strike missed me. I added my strength to his follow through which, along with the heavy hammer in his hand, caused him to overbalance. He stumbled, and I took advantage of the moment to throw myself onto him.

I had forgotten about the edge, and we tumbled together into the water below.

We hit with a splash and both started frantically fighting the water as it pulled at our clothes. I struggled to the shallows, but Baldr had better footing once he released the hammer and knocked me down hard. I crawled backwards away from him, splashing up water as I did so. My hand found a rock in the shallows, and as Baldr raised his spear to strike me, I swung my hand and threw the rock at his head.

It struck him in the eye. His head was thrown backwards and he howled in pain. He fell to the ground screaming as blood began to pour from his head.

In my life, I had thrown a stone at two different men in pure desperation. Both times I had hit the cause of my fear in the eye.

Both men were in the cavern that night.

I backed away and looked up fearfully. I *saw* The Scourge’s face. Perhaps he had not truly known until this moment, but the pure shock of *recognition* was plain for me to see. He knew who I was. He knew that we had met before the day Thor brought me home.

He climbed down the rocks and splashed through the water. The others were less eager to do so while clothed. I could see a few of Baldr’s allies pulling their clothing off in preparation to come and kill me, but The Scourge beat them to the ground.

Before their eyes he plunged his hand into the water where the hammer lay. I watched in awe as he lifted it high above his head.

The tribe stopped moving. They all watched in fascination as he walked through the water to where Baldr lay in agony.

Only I was close enough to see the way his arm trembled. If he lost his grip, or his strength failed, the hammer would come down on his head. But that was what made the sight so impressive.

When he reached Baldr, The Scourge looked down at him with a stone-like expression. Then, and only then, did he let the hammer fall.

It landed with an audible crack, and Baldr was no more.

The Scourge left it there, and turned to me. He knelt down until we were eyes to single eye and looked at me with a stern expression. I was almost pissing myself in fear.

“Da apolo Lowki. Lat yu Dadra.” He said gently, in words only I could hear.

I’m sorry Loki, for your father.

He knew, and he was sorry. Their fight had been about territory, a common thing. It was one fight among many. I was angry to lose my father, but in time I had come to understand, and if Laufey had won then Thor would have been the one to face a childhood without his father and would have only hatred for mine.

“Apolo lat yu eye.” I said, carefully tapping under my eye so that he would know what I meant.

Odin nodded his head slowly in acknowledgment, then turned to climb back up to the rocks above. Baldr’s allies just stared down in shock. One of them started to speak, but then Odin let out a roar that rivalled the very storm itself.

He voice was powerful still, and I saw some of them actually wince at the sound. This was the voice of their childhood. This was the man who had led their parents through many years. Odin Allfada had reached down and found the part of them that was still the child of their youth and he *screamed* at it until it cowered in fear. He pointed at Baldr’s body and screamed again, this time giving commands. Baldr’s old supporters scrambled down the rocks and pulled his body from the shallow water. They hauled it up and outside the cavern. They were still naked, but at this point they were so touched by fear that they didn’t seem to notice the wild stinging water that lashed them as they dumped Baldr’s body in the snow outside.

There was only one headman in the cavern that night, and he sat proudly with his arms folded, as around him the hunters frantically waved his clothing around the fire to dry it before the morning.

The storm had blown itself out before the light of the day grew bright enough to leave. We headed back straight away. The hunters had caught their seal and were eager to get back. At least some of that had to do with Odin, who glared at them all with fire in his eye. He carried the hammer, striding out in front of the group in a way that reminded me so much of Thor. I had not truly realised how much he was like his father.

Unfortunately, Odin was not a young man. He had called on old strength in the cavern, but we had barely left it behind and already he was starting to struggle. We needed to do something, or else there would be a challenge right here on the snow, and Odin would not survive it.

I was the one who made the seat. Baldr’s clothes had been stripped from his body as they could be used by the tribe. Volstagg was carrying them. I took some off him, along with Baldr’s spear and my own, and tied it into a rough seat that four men could carry together. My tribe had done so for the shaman during his magic ceremonies with the bluestone.

When it was ready I pushed the ends of the spears into the hands of Volstagg, Fandral and Hogun. I took the last spot for myself. Odin’s breathing was a struggle now, although his bigger fight was not showing it. I tapped him on the shoulder and gestured to the seat when he turned around.

I saw his frown, he thought that it would show weakness, but I quickly bowed low to show him respect.

“Allfada.” I said with my head still pointing at the ground.

There was silence. I risked a peek.

Odin was standing there with a shrewd expression. He was considering the offer carefully. Finally, he stepped forward and seated himself, taking his time to examine the seat for any flaws.

“Da mamut yu.” He said with his chin in the air.

I allow you. He was making this a privilege of rank, not a sign of weakness. We took the offer and carried him.

It was heavy going. We were all carrying seal as well, but it was worth it. No one challenged him, and as the second day of travel came to an end, we reached the cave and the rest of the tribe.

I climbed down the rope after Fandral. I could already hear the cries of delight from his women and children. I saw him at the centre of a great huddle with a grin as wide as the cave opening on his face.

I reached the ground and turned to look for Thor.

He was there. Standing straight and tall and whole. He looked back and forth between his father and myself as though he did not know who had done more of the impossible.

I walked over to him and looked him right in the eyes.

“Da amor yu woo.” I said.

It had only taken me twenty three days to say it.

Chapter Text

Thor wanted me. He made that clear in his usual subtle way by squeezing my buttocks with his big hands, kissing me over and over again, rubbing his manhood through his clothes, and of course there was the way he kept saying “Da leas yu” over and over again. Yes, that was a clue.

We sat by the fire and snuggled together as Odin decisively threw out all of Baldr’s things from the crevice at the back of the cave, which he had taken over as a sleeping place after he’d won the fight against Fandral.

The sound of grumbling interspersed with the thuds of bowls and other items hitting the dirt echoed out to where we sat.

Frigga was cooking the seal meat. She kept glancing up in Odin’s direction with a concerned, yet utterly affectionate look on her face.

She saw me looking and winked. I grinned at her in return. It was in these moments that I no longer felt like an outsider here. I felt as though there was a chance I could belong.

Then I saw Sif’s face, and knew that I never truly would. She was looking at me with utter fury. Clearly she had not expected me to survive.

Odin finished clearing out Baldr’s things and grabbed his own bedding. He gave the whole tribe a glare for good measure and carried it through to the back. A few moments later he came back for Thor’s bedding, and all of their things.

Frigga served up the meat. She gave Odin a large portion, and then did the same with Thor, myself, Sif and Ullr. Odin then gestured to where Baldr’s woman sat with their child, the boy was only barely out of infancy.

“Mamut dem doum.” He said.

Allow them some. Frigga gave her man a smile and served up a decent portion for them both.

The feeling by the fire that night was a strange one. The hunters had accepted Odin as Allfada for now, but the women were confused. For my part I was worried. I knew that Odin would most likely give up his position to Thor once Thor was truly recovered, but until then he was playing a dangerous game.

Thankfully, Thor’s friends were happy to play right along with him. The next day as we made our way down to fish and forage, they showed deep respect for Odin in the way they cleared a spot for him, which kept the others in line.

Thor lent me his spear. He was up and walking, but he bent only stiffly and could not manage yet the sharp movements required for a hunt.

Last night he had clearly wanted a physical reunion, but he was not able to move properly. Instead I had laid down next to him and rubbed us both with my hand. His breathing had grown strained and I almost stopped, but then his own hand had come down and covered mine, finishing us both together.

The look in his eye afterwards promised far more as soon as he was able. I had every intention of taking him up on it.

For now though, he was forced to follow his mother and Sif around as they tried to find the shell creatures and the ocean plant.

They would put their finds into his arms which meant that they were not weighed down as they worked and so could work faster. He took it with a kind of stubborn humility. He clearly wanted to be hunting, but knew that he could not, so he held his head high and proud. I got the distinct impression that there was an extra-large deer who was going to die by Thor’s spear come spring, just to prove a point.

I saw Frigga speaking to both Thor and Sif, and as one they turned to look at me. I turned back to my fishing quickly.

My fishing was much improved by the use of a proper spear. I caught four fish in the pools. One was a bit small but the rest were a good size. They would do for the pot tonight.

Odin had only caught two. He was slower than the rest of us and struggled to react to the quick movements of the fish.

When the tribe were looking else ware I slipped him two of mine. He looked outraged for a moment, but then took them both. He was not a stupid man by any means.

Ullr had joined us at the pools again. He was looking quite thin and he kept looking back at where his mother foraged for food. I had no doubt that with Thor unable to hunt, Ullr had not been permitted time to practice, instead having to gather as much food as possible for his kin.

Now though he was taking advantage of the seal meat, and he stabbed at the pools with wild enthusiasm.

The tribe were starting to struggle to find the shell creatures and the ocean plant. We had been here for more than half the winter and the last part of autumn as well. They had to go further to find food, which meant they had less time to collect it before the ocean claimed its territory once again.

They climbed back up the cliff path with light bags and heavy hearts. At least the supply of fish had not diminished, we were going to be eating nothing else by the time the spring came, I could tell.

****

That afternoon we gathered wood for the fire. Thor was once again carrying the wood that we collected from the ground. Unlike the rest of the tribe, who were confused and worried, I felt light and happy. The air was clear, the sun felt almost warm, and I had my Thor with me.

I would remember this day, I thought, when I am forced to go, I will remember this.

I caught Thor looking beyond me with narrowed eyes and turned to see what he was looking at.

It was Fandral. He was walking with a single stick in his hand and the other arm around his current woman. His children were running around them gathering up as many sticks as they could find. They all looked thin as well, clearly Baldr had not been as kind to them as Odin was to Baldr’s kin.

I looked back at Thor, who was watching me. He immediately looked guilty, and a little concerned.

That idiot. He was thinking about how Fandral and I had spent our time away. He was worried that we had pressed together for more than just warmth. His fears were so plain on his face it could have been a cave drawing in many colours.

Well that was just unacceptable.

I walked right up to him and gave him a hard kiss.

“Da amor *yu*. Doofoo.” I said.

I love *you*. Stupid.

It was hardly the language of seduction, but perhaps it was the language of love.

Thor looked even guiltier and started to protest, but then shrugged and lowered his head.

“Apolo Lowki.” He said.

I nodded firmly, and went back to my gathering.

That night after we had lain together, Thor took out a piece of bone. He had shaped it into a rough circle and carved spirals through it.

“Lat yu.” He said, giving it to me.”

It was the bone he had been working on before I left. He had made me a pendant to wear around my neck. I pulled it over my head and kissed him in thanks. Beneath the kiss I could feel him smile.

It took another ten days for Thor to re-join our hunting. He was a little out of practice, and his movements were still a little stiff, but he managed to kill some fish, and so support himself and his kin.

His friends celebrated by cheering him loudly and clapping him on the back. Thor celebrated by taking me in bed that night twice.

It felt strange after so long to feel myself being opened again. I felt a little nervous, and I worried if my time away had made me tighten again. But Thor’s questing fingers were not to be denied, and I found myself gasping in pleasure beneath him as he thrust firmly into me. Our noises echoed back to the cave, and I heard someone cheer Thor’s name. I laughed at the sound, and wrapped my arms around his neck and rubbed his broad shoulders.

Certainly things had changed from the first time I had laid beneath him. I found myself wondering what it would have been like if our two tribes had managed to find peace instead of war. As we moved I allowed myself the luxury of the thought. Whoever had survived from my tribe could come and live here with Thor’s. We would hunt the small game as he hunted the big game. Our women would gather together, and share knowledge of what was good to eat…

When we were finished though I pushed the thought away. If any of my tribe had survived the winter, they would not be welcome here. I was barely welcome here. My dream was impossible, and so I abandoned it.

The next morning Thor wanted more, and took me from behind; sliding slowly into me until we were pressed firmly together, then slowly out until he almost left me entirely. But his patience could only last so long, and I soon found his rhythm increasing to a faster pace.

From the distance I heard Odin yell at us to be quiet, as the sun had not yet risen.

Thor chuckled in my ear and pulled my body around just enough so that he could kiss me as we moved. His big hand worked my manhood at the same time, and I only just supressed my cry as I lost control and spilled my wetness onto the side of the bedding.

Thor emptied himself into me before pulling out and pinning me for some kissing. We were still at it when Odin got up and kicked Thor’s leg to tell us that it was time to go and hunt.

Four days after Thor began hunting again, Odin stood and picked up the hammer. He walked over to where Thor sat, and with great ceremony, handed it to him.

“Thor Allfada.” He said seriously.

Thor nodded and took the hammer.

“Da dadra. Dunka yu.”

They had done it. Odin had held the position for long enough. Something inside of my chest loosened as the cheers of Thor’s supporters echoed throughout the cave.

I thought of Baldr, lying in the snow where he was left. Perhaps he would be gone by now, the wolves would not waste such a feast if they found it. I hoped so, because a moment later Thor announced another hunting expedition. The seal meat was gone; it was time to hunt another.

****

Before we left, Thor gave me Baldr’s spear. It was not a loan this time, it was to be mine. I felt a strangeness about it. My broken spear was mine in a way that this one wasn’t, but I could not deny that a whole spear was better for hunting. I decided to take both with me just in case.

Sif was packing food for Thor by the fire. She looked up at me as I made my bag ready.

“Lowki.” She said.

I was surprised. She had not spoken directly to me at all since the day she called me a ‘hore’.

“Sif.” I said cautiously.

She made the same face that I imagined I did when I had to eat the ocean plant raw.

“Dunka yu.” She said. She sounded as though she had to fight to say the words.

She had shocked me. I was not expecting her to say that at all.

“You’re welcome.” I said, to stunned to think of the right words. I think she understood me anyway.

She turned away then and walked quickly to her bedding, leaving the packed food for me to collect. I did not impose upon her further.

I knew now what Frigga had told them on the rocks. Odin must have told her about the fight, and about the fur seat. I was one of the main reasons Odin had been able to take charge and hold on to that power.

Sif may be my rival, but she was a woman of honour.

****

Baldr’s body was missing, and we set up a lookout for wolves. This was the most dangerous time of the year, when food was scarce and everything was starving.

With Thor back in command, the tribe was more settled, and our hunt did not have any surprises. I did sneak away once to Bor’s cave, to thank him for his permission to fish there, and to cover the entrance once more, so that nothing could stumble upon it. In the days following Baldr’s death, there had been no time to do so in the chaos.

The air was definitely warmer now, not enough to melt the snow yet, but I could feel it on my face. The rest of the tribe too were responding. They moved faster, and laughed more. Our arrival back at the cave was greeted with the most enthusiasm I had seen yet, but it had little to do with the food.

Spring was coming. The earth was waking once again, and life would soon return to the land.

Soon I would leave Thor forever.

Chapter Text

Winter may have been giving way to spring, but there was still enough bite left for one last storm.

I stood with Thor's arms around me and watched the mighty ocean as it rolled violently beneath the sky. The waves had such power in them, I couldn't help but still feel a little afraid. Thor held on to me tightly and nuzzled my neck comfortingly.

The waves crashed hard against the cliff, and Ullr came up to us and tugged on his father's clothes. He couldn't see properly.

Thor let go of me and knelt to let Ullr climb onto his back. He stood again and the three of us watched the waves.

I felt a sense of contentment as Thor slipped his arms back around me. I gave into the feeling, even though I knew it would be better not to. I wanted so badly for this moment to last forever.

But all things must end, and when the storm was over and we lay down to sleep my thoughts drifted once again to my tribe. If they had survived, then they would be making their way back to the summer hunting grounds. I had to find them. I owed it to them. I had been raised to be their leader, and while there may be a new headman who had risen to take control during this winter, it could just as easily be a group of terrified children who struggled through on the luck of the gods alone.

I treated each day as though it was my last. Thor clearly enjoyed the way I pressed against him, immersing myself in his scent and kissing his lips at every opportunity.

In a mad moment, I imagined again combining our tribes in a way that let me have both worlds, but once again I pushed it away. I had made my choice. I had a duty to my people. I had to give up Thor.

But not tonight.

I lay on top of him and pressed myself against his body. My hands slid down over his hard muscles as I rubbed against him shamelessly. He moaned under me and wrapped his big hands around my waist. With a sudden movement he flipped me, laying me down against the furs and covering me with his body as he pressed his mouth to mine.

He reached for the fat and began to press him slickened fingers against my entrance. I sighed in pleasure and widened my legs to give him better access. He shot me a grin and moved downwards until his mouth was hovering over my manhood. He gave it slow kiss right on the tip and I almost spilled myself right then.

Thor moved lower and gently kissed my sacks. I gasped at the feeling. It was gentle, but tickly from his beard.

He licked my sacks a few times as his fingers worked me open.

“Amor yu.” Thor breathed as he kissed his way along my inner thigh.

I could not respond, I was too busy remembering how to breathe. Thor moved back upwards and pulled my legs up over his shoulders. It felt so different from the last time he’d held me so.

How had I ever feared him?

I did not know the answer. He was possessive and rough, he took what he wanted to be sure. But he was a good leader, he let men live who should have died, he loved his kin. He was my everything.

I moaned in delight as his manhood pressed inside of me. It stretched me open wide and pressed against my pleasure spot.

I let my head fall back against the furs even as my arms came up to hold his arms.

Thor was watching me with a smile.

“Amor yu.” He said again, and began to move.

We rocked together, building our rhythm until I thought I could see the gods themselves.

I spilled between us as he lost himself inside of me.

He sank down against me as the strength left his body. I was still folded up and wriggled a little to get him to move.

“Amor yu woo, won mud.” I said.

I love you too, now move.

He grinned at me cheekily, but obediently shifted to let me uncurl.

I stroked his face lovingly and smiled at him in the dim light.

“Da amor yu.” I said again. I needed him to understand, when I left it would be to go to my tribe, not to go away from him.

Thor was oblivious to my thoughts and gave me a grin and a kiss.

I had trouble sleeping that night.

 

No matter what I did, spring kept coming. The snow melted, the air warmed, and Thor decided that it was time to return to the plains.

We packed our things and left the cave behind. Hogun threw a large piece of bracken-plant over the top of the entrance and that was it.

We walked back the way we had come. The hunters kept a lookout for wolves as well as game, and the women scanned the ground for roots that may have survived the harsh winter.

Halfway back Thor spotted some rabbits and I ran them down. It took me a little while to get back into the rhythm, but I was still the fastest man here, excepting Thor.

We dined on rabbit meat and listened as Volstagg told stories by the firelight.

All too soon, we reached the stopping place. The tribe set up camp and settled in. It seemed that they used this place twice a year. I was only two days from home, if I ran without stopping. This was the place I should leave from.

Even so, I found myself delaying. I went hunting with the others and even helped them bring down a deer. Thor made the killing blow, as I had predicted so many days before.

We ate by the fire and I abandoned my pride to rut on top of Thor, riding him until we were both exhausted. My spirit felt torn, and every pleasure was heightened by the knowledge that it could be the last.

When the time finally came, when the camp had packed again and the tribe began to make their way back to the caves on the hill, I took the opportunity and slipped away.

Thor was distracted. Frigga and Odin were occupied. No one saw me go.

No one saw me cry.

Chapter Text

Thor wrapped his arms around me. His breath was soft on my skin as he leaned down to kiss me gently.

“I love you.” He whispered.

“I love you too.” I said, reaching for him.

He smiled at me in a sad way and faded from my sight.

“Thor?” I asked, but there was nothing but air.

My eyes opened and I shook myself awake. I had rested beneath a tree on my journey home. It had been a dream, a wonderful, beautiful, heartbreaking dream.

I bit my lip and made myself sit up. I played with my clothing, settling it properly where it had twisted, then I ate a little food, and contemplated the best way home.

I was delaying. During the day I had moved slowly, I stopped for the night far sooner than I could have. I needed to go home, but I wanted to go back.

I kept hoping that if I delayed long enough, Thor would come and take the choice from me. I no longer feared such a thing, in fact I would welcome it. I had found a place in his tribe, a place by his side. I had found love.

I gasped in air hard to stop myself giving way to tears again. It was done. One way or another I had made my choice. Thor would not be following me, he would assume I had rejected him, lied to him. He would forever remember me as a liar who broke his heart.

I should have told him, maybe he would have understood. But if too many of my tribe survived then Thor’s tribe would want to wipe them out as before. I couldn’t tell him, I had to hurt him.

I started walking again.

It took me four days to slowly make my way back to my tribe’s camp. The huts were mostly ruined, but there were two that had been repaired.

They were here.

I walked quietly to the two huts. I could hear movement from within.

“Hello?” I called out when I was close enough.

The noise suddenly ceased. Then a slender hand reached out and pulled back the fur opening.

It was Sigyn. Her green eyes widened at the sight of me.

“Loki?” She said, disbelieving.

“It’s me.” I said. “I am returned.”

“You survived?” She asked, moving toward me.

“I was taken.” I told her. “I spent the winter with them, but now I have returned to my… home.”

The word felt strange.

She was staring at me, her eyes tracked over my body. There was a frown on her face.

“You look well.” She said at last, and a little suspiciously.

I took a deep breath, it was true that a captive should be far thinner than I.

“I traded something for food.” I said. “I traded my pride.”

A look of understanding crossed her face.

“You were made ergi.” She said.

I nodded to confirm it. I could not lie.

There was a disturbance behind her and she turned back to the hut briefly. I saw two young children sitting on the floor playing.

“The others are hunting.” Sigyn said suddenly. She looked nervous. “It is good to see you again Loki, it is good to see you alive.”

She hugged me then, and I returned it. She had been my first companion, and while I knew now that my youthful affection had never truly been love, she did hold a special place in my heart.

There was something different about her. I pulled back and stared at body.

“Sigyn, are you…?”

“I carry your child.” She said simply, rubbing her hand over her belly, it was just starting to curve. “I am glad you are alive to see it.”

I was stunned. I had not known, all this time, all through the winter as Sif had sat and smiled as Thor’s child had grown in her belly, I had a child of my own doing the same far away from me.

“That is wonderful.” I said and meant it. “I should hunt for you.”

Sigyn laughed, I liked the sound. It was good that she could do so after our loss.

“The others are hunting, they will catch rabbits.” She said.

“Who else survived?” I asked as she led me into the hut to sit.

“Gjalp and her child Groa, Nat and her child Aud, little Gang, and Fjolsvin, although he was wounded and cannot use his right hand anymore. Skadi ran from the fighting and we found her up a tree after two days. Rind and Nal ran away together, but their mother was killed.”

Groa and Aud were on the ground in front of me, they smiled shyly as I sat. I did not think they were old enough to remember me after being gone for so long. There were so few survivors, but I had hoped for only one, so the short list of names sounded wonderful.

But they were mostly women, and little Gang was only twelve. Fjolsvin was older, almost my age, but with a damaged hand he would struggle to be a leader.

I sat and waited for the hunters to come back. The tribe would be surprised to see me, but hopefully we could move toward the future together. At the very least I could warn them not to venture too far towards the river; it had been hunting there that had led Thor’s tribe to attack us.

I wondered what he was doing right now, and if he was thinking of me as I did him.

I could not even begin to explain to Sigyn how I could love the man who killed so many of us. All I knew was that my Uncle would have done the same to Thor's tribe if he’d known, and my Uncle had not been a bad man either. I did not think such a fact would be much consolation to them. But then they had not been raised to be a headman.

“Did they hurt you very much?” SIgyn asked. “Did they at least keep you warm in exchange for your shame?”

I shifted a little uncomfortably. They would all have questions of this nature. I should have been prepared for them.

“I adapted.” I said at last. “I traded my body for furs and food. I traded for survival.”

She nodded at me and settled herself down.

“You did what you had to do.” She said.

“There was one man, Thor, he was the only one who took me. He claimed me as his own from the first night.”

“He sounds horrible.” She said.

“I thought so at first, but he is a headman like my Uncle, he did nothing that Helblindi wouldn’t have done.” I said, trying to get her to understand.

She did not look convinced, but she was not turning me away either. I had to step carefully. Perhaps I could make her understand if I went slowly.

“He fed me, and let me hunt rabbits.” I said. “He could see that I was good at running them down. His tribe is very bad at hunting small game.”

“He sounds sensible.” She conceded. I let the subject drop. There was only so far I could go at once.

In truth I did not know why I bothered, it was not as though she was ever going to meet Thor. She could think whatever she liked.

It *did* matter though. It mattered to me that my Thor was thought of properly. He had done the practical thing, not the nice thing or the pleasant thing. He had killed because he had to protect his tribe. This was the same man who let Baldr live when he should have killed him. Thor only killed when something threatened his kin.

I forced my thoughts away as Sigyn asked me:

“How did you escape?”

“I slipped away during the confusion of moving. They are heading back to their summer home.” I said.

“Will they come here?” She asked.

“I do not think so, we are far from their camp and they do not know anyone has survived. They probably believe I am living alone in the forest now.” I said.

She nodded carefully.

“Even so, we should be on watch for a while.” She said.

“Yes. I will help keep watch.” I said.

“And we need a place to run to if they attack again. Skadi has scouted a number of places that we can hide in.”

It saddened me that they were so afraid. But what reason did they have to think otherwise? I had left Thor’s tribe; I had to stop thinking as though I were one of them.

This was my place. I had to believe that.

My kin were astonished to see me again. They ran to my arms and hugged me tightly. That night I lay beside them as they all slept together in a pile and dreamed of large arms and hungry lips. I woke with tears on my cheeks, but Sigyn didn’t say anything.

Chapter Text

The next day it became clear to me that my presence was a source of tension for Fjolsvin. He and Sigyn traded looks as we prepared to go hunting. I realised that they had become the leaders of the tribe. Sigyn had always had a calm manner and way of thinking, and even hurt as he was, Fjolsvin was the oldest male.

I could see something else too, and I knew that my arrival had upset a relationship of sorts. Being alone together for the whole winter had made them close.

I was grateful, in a way. I had no desire for Sigyn with my heart filled with Thor. I did not want anyone else, Sigyn and Fjolsvin could be happy together, I would not be interfering.

That did not stop his narrowed eyes and hunched shoulders. In addition to having a prior claim on Sigyn, I was a year older, and in good health. I was a natural choice for headman and it was only a matter of time before the other women began to follow me over him.

For now I stayed friendly and followed his lead. I did not think coming back and immediately challenging the way things were would be a good thing for me to do.

We spent the day hunting birds. I was in fine form and it was clear by the end of the day that there would be plenty of food that night, even for the little ones.

Fjolsvin was unhappy, but he did not push his share away, only watched me carefully from across the fire.

 

For eight days I hunted with them, I talked to them and helped them rebuild the camp. I taught little Gang to throw more accurately and brought home more food than the rest of them combined.

I tried so hard to convince myself that I belonged there. But every night I dreamed of Thor. Every night he was with me, holding me, kissing me, claiming me.

Therefore it was no surprise that when he appeared out of the darkness as I sat on watch one night, I immediately assumed that I had fallen asleep.

It took a few moments to realise that this was not the case, and he really stood before me.

“Thor.” I whispered, staring at him in shock.

His eyes were sad and searching. He looked at me in betrayal.

“I’m sorry.” I whispered. “Apolo.”

He took a step towards me and I was forced to raise my spear. I was crying, the tears began to make my vision blurry and trickle down my cheeks.

“Stop.” I whispered. “You have to go. Uy Thor, uy.”

He shook his head stubbornly and came at me.

I stifled a sob and thrust my spear forwards to drive him back. He looked at me in confusion, then his eyes slid past me to the hut beyond. I glanced back and realised that he could see my kin through the door. I moved quickly in front of it.

“Please go.” I said.

All I wanted was to be in his arms, but I couldn’t, he couldn’t, we had to part ways. I had my duty and he had his.

Thor looked at me stubbornly. He shook his head.

“Yu niye.” He said in a low voice.

I shook my head at him.

“Da dem.” I said sadly. “I’m theirs.”

Thor scowled and tried to see in again. I shifted to block him. He looked at me again with a hard expression. I had angered him.

He pointed at my chest. The pendant he had made for me was still around my neck.

“Yu *niye*.” He insisted.

I raised the spear and jabbed it at him.

“Uy!” I sobbed. “Uy Thor uy!”

I watched with a breaking heart as he turned away and left me. I cried until the light of dawn crept through the tree branches.

****

I told the tribe when they woke. They had a right to know that Thor had come. Skadi gave a scream and started running around in a panic. Gjalp and Nat grabbed her and made her sit.

“I am sorry.” I said. “I truly did not think he would follow me, even now I do not think he will come back, he must lead his tribe, he cannot keep leaving them to come here.”

Sigyn was watching me carefully.

“We should go to a new place. Skadi has found several, we should go now and set up a new camp at the best one.” She said.

I nodded, just as Fjolsvin did the same. He glared at me, but I looked away first. Now was not the time to challenge him.

We packed our things and moved to the place Skadi had found. I immediately did not like it. It was a cave, but not a good one. It had only one entrance which trapped us if we were attacked. The entrance was wide too, it would be difficult to defend.

I said as much, but Fjolsvin overruled me. The rest of the tribe were inclined to follow him, as they were still suspicious of Thor following me. Certainly it was not usual behaviour, I knew they were wondering what exactly I had been doing all this time.

I wished I could explain, but I could not think of a way to make them understand my true feelings.

We moved in.

****

I sat by myself as the sun went down that night. I thought that with time the ache in my chest would fade, but Thor wasn’t letting it. He had to let me go. He had to think of his tribe as I did mine. We were not meant to be together.

No matter how many times I thought it I still couldn’t make it feel right.

I pulled the pendant he had made for me out of my clothing and looked at it. The swirls were beautiful; it was hard to believe that his big hands had made such a delicate thing.

I turned it over and gasped. I had not looked at this side properly before. Thor had carved his hammer in the centre, and either side of it was what I think was meant to be rabbit ears, to represent me, but they looked more like horns.

Him and me, together. My hands shook as I gently stroked the pendant.

It would get better, I told myself. One day I will hardly think of him.

What a good liar I was.

****

The summer passed slowly. Eventually I challenged Fjolsvin, and won. I did not claim Sigyn as would be my right, but instead I wished them both well. She was growing bigger with my child and I was eager to become a father. I felt that it would give me something to love as much as I had Thor.

I hunted, I fished, I taught the women and children both how to survive better. I gathered honey and hvonn roots and made up a mixture for us. I led the summer prayers at night. I made myself think of everything but the one thing I wanted.

I told myself that it was working. Every time I thought of Thor I reminded myself that it had been a whole morning, half a day, longer than the last time for sure.

At night he came to me in my dreams and loved me. At night I knew peace and happiness.

One morning I came outside the cave to discover the bluestone sitting on a rock nearby. There was no other sign of anyone having been.

The others thought it was a gift from our god. They took it inside and set it up on a flat stone to show it proper respect. I stood and stared at it for a long time. What was the meaning of this? Why would he give it back to me? Why had he come so close in the night but not tried to speak to me?

I could not imagine his thinking.

Ten days later a haunch of stag was sitting on the rock outside. Again I had neither seen nor heard any sign of him.

Thor’s gifts filled me with a strange feeling. I felt giddy and silly and I kept wanting to catch him.

He was courting me, I realised with a start. He was trying to obtain my affections. It was wonderfully sweet and crushingly painful at the same time.

The next time a gift was left, it was a rabbit. I almost laughed imagining how difficult he must have found it to catch one.

This was not good for us, but I could not make his stop. I worried about what his tribe thought of his behaviour, or how long they would allow his absences. I did not want him to lose his status as Allfada or worse. If he was gone for long enough they might refuse to let him back at all.

I took my pendant and placed it on the rock where he would find it. No more courting, he had to stop.

He had to.

Two nights later the pendant was gone, there was no gift left in its place. He had given me up.

****

It was almost the summer’s height. Food was plentiful and life was as easy as it ever got. Gang was hunting the birds with great skill, and Fjolsvin had taught himself to fish with his left hand. Still, sometimes there are no birds, or the fish are too fast. So in the evenings there were times when I would set out to catch some rabbits for us.

I was away when it happened. The gold ones from the north came down once more, but this time I saw them standing in the light before I arrived. My kin were sitting around the fire, they looked terrified as Thor and his hunters stood around them on guard.

I froze in the darkness. What were they doing?! What was Thor doing?! How could this possibly help?!

Before I knew what I was doing I strode forward into the light.

“Thor! Wa erd yu hew?” I snapped.

Thor! What are you doing?

He turned to me and grinned broadly. I just stared at him as he stepped forwards and pulled me into his arms.

“Niye.” He said firmly and kissed me hard.

I heard Fjolsvin’s sound of anger. I understood it, from his perspective I had brought these men down upon us. I hadn’t meant to, I had really thought Thor would give me up.

Thor had obviously decided otherwise, and his actions were making that perfectly clear. He pushed me down on the ground by the fire and proceeded to ravage me. He even brought the fat. That cheeky bastard.

I could not resist him. He was too strong and too determined. I took comfort from the fact that his men had not killed what remained of my kin, but then they were no threat to them now. Thor did not kill those who did not threaten the safety of his tribe.

When it was over, Thor made us all bed down for the night. My kin lay down under guard, frightened and huddled together. I lay beneath Thor’s thick arms and tried to fathom what he was planning.

****

They took us back with them. They marched us all the way back to the caves on the hill. I tried to question Thor about it, but all he would do was squeeze my shoulders and declare me his.

When we got to the hilltop, the rest of the tribe were waiting for us. I saw immediately that our arrival was no surprise to them. The women came out and gave my kin food. Frigga started fussing over the children and Ullr came up to little Gang and waved hello to him.

Sif approached Sigyn and sat beside her. After a moment she started talking, then miming. Sigyn watched her movements very carefully and tried to respond. Thor’s child and mine would grow up together, I realised.

Odin watched them all from higher up the hill. His one eye took in the scene and he just sighed, shook his head, and turned away, muttering about ‘Jotuns’. But there was no malice in his words.

“Thor?” I questioned again. This was utterly baffling.

He smiled at me.

“Yu erd dem. Yu erd niye. Pwo jeyan erd niye.” He said simply.

You are theirs. You are mine. So they are mine.

I would not leave them, so Thor, in his very direct approach, had simply taken them with us.

I wondered how many nights he spent arguing his plan before convincing the rest of the tribe to agree.

Thor took me into his cave and led me to the back. He reached down to his things and pulled out my pendant. His face was serious as he placed it back over my neck.

“Niye Lowki, Low- Lock- *Loki*.” He said. “Niye Loki waydas.”

My Loki always.

“Niye Thor.” I said, my throat was dry and threatening to close with tears. “Niye Thor waydas.”

He pulled me to him and I fell into his arms. There were hard days ahead of us, there was still much work to be done to unite our tribes, but we could do it, together.

ORIGINAL END

Chapter Text

There is more to being the Allfada than just waving your hammer around and shouting at people.

Admittedly, that’s the fun bit.

No, you have to take care of them. You have to tell them when to hunt and when to forage. You have to read the tribe and keep them from fighting. You have to be a symbol of strength. They have to trust you.

That is what my father told me on the night he gave way to my leadership. I have never forgotten his advice. Except once…

His name was Loki and he was the most beautiful man I had ever laid eyes upon. To this day I cannot explain how he could have affected me so. His eyes, his dark hair, that wonderfully superior look that he would give me. Oh I could gush for hours about him, I truly could. But the thing that really caught my loins, if not my heart, was the way he almost smashed my nose flat with his arm in the darkness the first night we met.

There’s just something about a man who is trying to kill you. I had chased after him with bloodlust pouring through my veins, but as we struggled together I felt a different kind of lust upon me. One I had felt before, and indulged in a few times with others of my tribe who felt the same way. But *this* body was intoxicating.

He did not stop trying to fight me the whole time; indeed, it was his struggles that denied me my true goal.

Just as I had spent myself, and was feeling that wonderful glow inside, he slammed his elbow into my chest and took my breath away entirely.

The Tribe would have killed him, but in the light of their torches I saw Loki for the first time. I wanted more.

So in defiance of my father’s teachings, I took him home with me.

By day he showed me his skills with the hunting of small game, by night I explored every inch of his body. I had to bribe him with food at first. The look he gave me when licking his bowl clean almost made me spill right there by the fireside. He was an asset, and for that I was grateful. Even an Allfada can be overruled.

By the time we returned from our winter hunting grounds, I was in love with him, and he with me. At least, he said he was. That was why when he disappeared I felt such a shocking pain in my stomach and in my heart. I thought that he loved me. I was so sure that he had gotten lost or someone had managed to attack him while my back was turned.

Some of the tribe said it was for the best. They knew nothing of love, and were blind to all that Loki had done in his time with us.

That night I travelled back along our path, searching for a sign of him. When I saw the broken branches and shallow footsteps leading away into the forest, I knew he had left me.

That, I felt, was unacceptable.

I could not follow him right away. I had a duty to the tribe and so I brought them safely to the summer hunting grounds. We had barely settled in when I announced the first hunt. I had to find him. I had to go. My men would cover my tracks. I did not believe that Loki did not love me. That was utterly ridiculous.

When we reached the forest, my men searched for prey. I searched for Loki. I deliberately led the men close to his tribe’s old camp. I thought perhaps he would go there for supplies, although what would be left after so long I did not know.

I was right. That night as the men slept I slipped away to where I though the old camp used to be. There was a fire burning in front of a tent as I stepped out of the trees.

He was sitting by the fire, and for a moment his face displayed only sadness. Then a kind of realisation came over him and he stood very quickly.

I had expected a greeting and was shocked to find myself at the pointed end of his spear. He looked fearful, the way he had when he had first come to the tribe. I felt betrayed.

“Thor.” He whispered. “Eyamsory. I’m sorry.”

I tried to reach for him but he fended me off with his spear. I could feel my heart breaking inside of me. Had I been mistaken in his feelings for me? But he had said the very words himself!

Maybe he had not truly understood them.

“Go Thor, go.” He whispered.

I shook my head stubbornly. I would take him home. I would show him that he was loved. He had to love me back. Our winter together could not be a lie.

He only jabbed at me with the spear. He looked utterly miserable.

It was then that I saw what was behind him. There were people asleep in the tent. Some of his tribe had survived.

He stood in front of them, blocking my view.

“You’re mine.” I told him. He looked at me sadly as he shook his head.

“Please go.” He said, although his face told a different story.

I pointed at his chest. He still wore the token I made him, the token of our love.

“You’re *mine*” I repeated. Why else would he still wear it?

“I’m theirs.” He said. “Go Thor. Go!”

He was crying. But I had no choice. He would not leave the remains of his tribe. He had duties too.

I returned to my tribe and saw out the remainder of the hunt. But in my mind, I knew I could not let him go. He was my Loki. He had my heart. And more importantly, he had not given me back my token, which I knew meant that he felt the same way.

It was a hunt of a different kind, and I was going to win.

The night we returned with our quarry I sat and stared into the fire, trying to think of a way to show Loki that he belonged with me.

“You are sad Thor.” My mother said by my side.

“I will be happy when I have Loki.” I told her.

She frowned in confusion.

“He is gone Thor, he ran away.”

“No.” I said, loud enough to be heard. “He did not go *away* from me, he went *to* his tribe. There were a few who survived.”

The moment those words left my mouth the men started and reached for their weapons. I waved them away.

“Women mostly, some children, no men.”

From what I had seen this was the truth, although with Loki blocking me I had not been able to see much. It calmed them anyway, which was important.

“I will take him back.” I said.

A few of them rolled their eyes, but they did not challenge me. I would have won easily anyway.

“He ran away once Thor, he will not stay with you while his tribe lives.” Hogun pointed out to me.

I was annoyed at his words. The last time we attacked them it had been for hunting ground. These remnants were no threat to us and I could not imagine myself killing them.

“He loves me; I will win him away from them.” I insisted stubbornly.

I could tell they did not believe me, but they were content to let me try.

 

I gave Loki back the blue stone. He had been quite upset to see me take it, so I thought it would make a good present to begin with, to show that I had not given up; after so long I did not want him to doubt my intentions.

The next time we hunted, I slipped away to find him.

His people had left their camp. I trailed them along until I reached a rocky cave where they were sleeping. There was a young boy on watch out the front but I was quiet and he was not very good at listening. It was a bad choice of shelter, but I was not here to complain.

I left the stone sitting where Loki could find it. The game had begun.

I stayed nearby and watched as he came out the next morning. His tribe were few indeed, and they gathered around their stone and marvelled at its appearance. Loki was different, he scanned the trees looking for me, but I was well hidden. He did not look pleased. Clearly I had to find something better to win him over.

I remembered how he had given himself to me for food. That is what I would try next. It worked last time after all.

 

I could not go to him all the time, I had to hunt for the tribe. But after a particularly good kill, and with the blessing of my men, I left him a good sized haunch of meat. I stayed nearby again and watched as he stared at it with his hands resting on his hips.

I grinned as I saw a half smile grace his features. He was pleased. But other than scanning the trees again, he showed no sign of trying to find me. I had to try harder.

 

Rabbits are the single most infuriating animal I had ever had the misfortune to hunt. I must have fallen a hundred times onto my stomach without result. I had no idea how Loki managed to catch these things night after night.

Finally I landed on top of one and squashed it flat. I broke its neck before it could squeal in pain and held it up triumphantly.

My men sighed in disappointment; they had been enjoying the show.

That night I left it for him, and waited eagerly for sunrise.

He laughed at the sight of it. A proper laugh filled with affection. I grinned in my hiding place and slipped away. Soon I would approach him, and he would come home with me.

I came back two nights later, when he would be on guard duty. Resting on the stone was his pendant. I stared at it in shock for several minutes. What was the meaning of this? I knew he loved me. Why would he do this? Why would he reject me?

I took the pendant and slipped away. He never even knew I had come.

 

I sat by the fire at home and held the pendant in my hands. I had been mistaken. Loki had not been willing to come with me. But I loved him! And I was sure he loved me too. Somehow it had not been enough.

My father came to sit beside me.

“I am sorry that you hurt my son.” He said. “But you cannot expect him to abandon his people.”

“But he loves me.” I insisted. “I know he does.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” My father pointed out. “He has his duty.”

“I don’t care. He belongs with me.” I said, gripping his pendant tightly.

“So leave us and go to him.” My father said. “Fandral will make a good enough Allfada.”

I stared at him in shock.

“I can’t do that! I have a duty! I must take care of… oh.”

“Yes.” My father said, not unkindly. “You must let him go Thor, he must care for his people as you care for yours.”

I put the pendant away and refused to look at it. I understood, but even though I tried I could not accept it.

In my mind there was only one solution. But I had to be clever, which even I will admit is not my strongest skill. But I could be clever for Loki. If he wouldn’t leave his people, then his people would just have to come with us.

Over the next few days I found time to speak to each and every tribe member alone.

****

“Those poor women, just the right age to bear children and no one to lie with.” I said to Fandral as we walked through the fields.

Fandral’s head rose, as I knew it would.

“I suppose another few wouldn’t make too much of a difference, if they gather well.” He said to me.

****

“Those poor children, they survived one winter, but will they survive another?” I said another day as Volstagg and I climbed the peak to scout.

Volstagg looked uncomfortable; he had always been a great one with children.

“They will be alright.” He mumbled, but I could see his true thoughts behind his eyes.

****

“If we take them now, they will be a part of our tribe, not an enemy for our son’s sons.” I said to my father as we sat by the fireside.

“Like my people.” My mother said with a soft smile.

My father scowled deeply and hunched his shoulders between us.

“He is good at throwing.” He said at last and I knew what true victory felt like.

****

“There are women with children, children who will suffer without help.” I said one day as Sif dumped her gathered food down next to her to rest.

She looked at me with narrowed eyes, but then her face softened.

“I always knew you could do the impossible Thor.” She said. “It seems unfair now that you have found your equal to keep you apart from one another.”

****

Even with over half the tribe’s support, there were some grumbles, but I had won them over, slowly and patiently. For Loki I could be anything, even patient.

Finally it was time. My men and I departed to go and retrieve my love.

And his kin.

 

By all that was unbelievable. He wasn’t there. We snuck up on them by their fire and had them surrounded and helpless before they so much as had time to jump and he wasn’t even there.

I had to sit and wait for him while his kin trembled in fear of me.

He marched out of the shadows completely unafraid.

“Thor! What are you doing?!” He yelled. My men parted to let him through.

I couldn’t help but grin. He would not confront me like this if he feared me. He would run away and hide. No. He was coming toward me, ready to do battle. This was a fight of love.

“Mine.” I told him firmly and kissed him with all of my denied passion. He struggled briefly in my arms but nowhere near as hard as he had the night we had met. He could have hurt me and didn’t.

So I pushed my luck, and took him right there by the fire. I suppose I had always believed that we would have a physical reunion, because I had packed that fat to help ease the way. I had been thinking that we would spend our night tucked away in the cave, but I was far too eager after so long. He did not deny me after that first struggle. I could feel him kissing me back and I knew that I had won.

Our journey home was relatively calm. Loki tried to question me but I knew that my words would get twisted between us. It was better to show him my plans. Perhaps one day we could talk properly, he was certainly very clever. Perhaps I could learn some of his words too.

The tribe were welcoming to Loki’s kin. I had prepared them well. My supports certainly embraced this new change. I watched Loki’s face as he realised that his kin were being welcomed to the tribe.

“Thor?” He asked me with the most adorable look of confusion upon his face.

“You are theirs. You are mine. So they are mine.” I told him.

Now he had no reason to go, there was nothing to keep us from one another.

I took him to our cave and took out his pendant. He smiled gently to see it.

“My Lowki, Low – Lock – *Loki*” I said. His name had always been difficult on my tongue, but he deserved for me to say it properly. “My Loki always.”

He looked at me with such love and hope it took the very breath from my chest.

“My Thor” he said, “my Thor always.”

I pulled him into my arms and let the hole in my heart heal. We were one.

Always.