You Should See Me in a Crown
A single tear rolls down my cheek at the sight of my father, mother and baby brother being pushed away in to the cold water.
Fate is expensive. The price my father had to pay for killing his own newborn child and wife, was more than he could afford.
A warm hand grips mine, and I glance down to my right to see Ivar sitting at my feet. His crippled legs are kept together with leather straps and his ocean blue eyes hold every single shred of pity in the world in them.
Everyone pities me, and I know it very well. The welcoming touches and obligated smiles have been ambushing me all morning.
The only sanity I have is in that of my older brother, Sidka. His stoic stance brings a sense of comfort to me in an odd way. If Sidka doesn't cry over a situation, it's not as devastating as it appears to be and I have yet to see him shed a tear.
He looks at me from where he's standing with Ivar's half-brother, Bjorn Ironside. A pale green eye and a dark brown eye meet with my blues ones and I can't help but wonder if he's truly as okay as he wants people to think.
Although he's keeping himself together, I can tell with the slight sway of his body that he's been drinking this morning. His dark hair isn't even braided back and the matted knots are causing my fingers to twitch slightly.
He needs to comb his hair, I complain to myself.
Sidka looks away from me to watch the flaming arrows catch the three boats on fire. I don't dare watch, I just focus on my teeth clenching together and pray to the Gods not to let me cry anymore.
Ivar's hand slips under my dress innocently to calmly run his calloused hand over the skin on the back of my lower thigh.
My leather shoed feet are getting cold from the frozen mud under them and I furrow my brows at the feeling of the rain falling lightly on us.
Thunder rumbles in the clouded distance, causing two ravens to let out a chilling cry before fleeing to the Forrest.
I nudge Ivar with my leg, causing him to look up at me.
My chin jerks slightly over my shoulder before the two of us disappear from the crowd of people.
Though it's the place where I was born and raised for fourteen years, the small hut I call home seems as if it's the most foreign place I've experienced.
There's not the usual stench of whiskey in the air, nor the heat coming from a cooking pot of stew in the corner over a fire.
But most importantly, it's quiet. Silent.
Something me nor my brother are accustom to.
I was either use to my father laughing with one of his drunken friends, or fighting violently with my mother.
Synnøve Youngblood was not an easy target for violence. Lagertha, the ex-wife of Ivar's father, had trained her to be a shield-maiden when she was younger.
Her work paid off because my mother could have my father on his drunk ass faster than anyone aside from Sidka.
My mother always tried to teach me to fight so I could someday be a shield maiden and go with them raiding, but I was never interested in doing so.
My ambitions have always been of myself, not of anything worldly such as conquering lands and raiding.
Ivar and I stand in the door way of the hut, the dark shadowing due to the lack of candles casts an eery feeling throughout the place.
"I need the rest of my dresses." I mumble, stepping to my bedroom to grab the woven trunk of dresses and other garments.
Ivar waits for me patiently as I name off aloud everything else I need to take with me.
Before long, Sidka and Bjorn are present and standing at the door with Ivar.
"Do you need anything else brother?" I stop my gathering to ask him and he stands straight, causing the cream-colored fur draping his shoulders to shift.
He doesn't say anything to me, pushing past me to reach under my father's chair to grab the last of his whiskey pitchers that are covered by leather.
My heart sinks at the sight, but Sidka doesn't seem to notice.
His broad and towering figure just looms over mine as he turns to face me.
My emotions display on my face, as they always have, and he tightens his jaw.
"I can stop anytime I want to, Issy." He lies to me about his alcoholism for the umpteenth time and I force my lips in to a thin line.
"That's what father always said, Sidka." Is all I can muster before piling a couple of my mother's old baubles, the fur from her chair and the fur from my bed onto the trunk of my clothes before I pick it up and tote it out of the hut with Ivar and his older brother Ubbe, at my heels.
Ubbe must've been waiting with Bjorn for Sidka.
On the way to our destination Ivar is sidetracked by his mother, Aslaug, and tells me and his brother to go ahead and he'll catch up shortly.
The rest of the walk is quiet aside from me denying Ubbe's help when he offers to carry my things.
"You should be easier on your brother." The second oldest Ragnarsson breaks our silence when we enter their large home.
I set my stuff on the giant center table and look at Ubbe.
He's handsome, his brown hair nearly red in certain light. His eyes shares the same color with Ivar, except his are more so crystal instead of ocean. He looks like his father.
"Yes, I should be." I speak in agreement. "But I won't."
"Ubbe, all of your brothers are alive and well and your mother and father aren't dead..."
"My father might as well be." He interrupts what I was about to say next. "He left us, Iskra. Does having my mother and my brothers help me cope with the absence of my father? Yes. Do you have that same comfort from your mother, no. You don't. I know you don't and I know we are by no means in the same situation, but because you have no more of your family and because Sidka has no more of his family, he needs something else to help him cope because sometimes people aren't enough."
"He's leaning on the same poison that caused my father to neglect my mother for many years. He's nursing his pain with the same thing that caused my father's downfall, Ubbe. I'm bloody sorry if I'm not accepting his new habit."
"And what exactly have you been turning to in order to cope, Issy?" His words hold all-knowing. He knows exactly what, more-so who, I've been doing in order to cope...and it hasn't been Ivar.
"Lower your voice." I state in a hiss and he exhales, seeming to regret throwing my infidelity in my face.
"I'm sorry." He says truthfully. "But your brother has seen and done many things. He's wiser than you and I and he shouldn't have to explain himself to his little sister. You should love him regardless of his flaws, Issy. As we love you regardless of yours."
His rough hand cups my face giving it a single pat before he turns and leaves, walking past Ivar's crawling form.
He hauls himself up to sit at the table and I move my things over so they aren't in his way.
"Are you sure you don't mind staying with us? You don't seem too thrilled about it."
I force myself to smile a little as my fingers touch his jaw.
"I'm very happy to be living with you, Ivar." I lie. "I'm just tired."
"Go to sleep, then." He tells me, waving me off.
"I can't, Ivar. I have many things to do."
"Then tell me what they are and I'll do them while you rest." He argues.
"Iskra," His tone is serious and stern, his eyes challenging mine. "Rest."
The fight in me is as dead as my family, and I just nod and listen to him. I grab the furs I got from my home and step to his room, laying them on the bed.
Fluttering lightening scatters across the sky and shortly after, loud thunder booms. The weight of the pouring rain hits the roof, causing an almost peaceful atmosphere.
I let my dress slip off my shoulders and down my hips before I crawl in to the warmth of furs and blow out the candle resting on the wooden table beside the bed, causing the room to darken nearly completely.