Before he was Lukas, he was Dove. Due . A shared word that didn’t have to be changed to be understood. Norge was another shared word that came before, whispered originally with tangled fingers, clenched tightly in near-frozen sand as they stared out at the reflection of the stars on the sea. They danced on the water when they twinkled in the sky. It had been mesmerizing, back then, but he had more important things to look at now.
He wasn’t born Lukas, and he wasn’t born Norway. He wasn’t born with a name that could be spoken in words. He was born a vague idea, a recognition of the land he grew from, that couldn’t be heard but only seen. Matthias, already christened by the time he’d found him, gave him his name. The road to the North .
Norðvegr , he’d said, the moment he saw him, bundled in blankets gifted to him by old, childless women from villages, and buried in a pocket of snow beneath a heavy tree. Matthias was barely larger than Lukas himself; bulkier, maybe, but only a few inches taller. The tips of his hair - the brightest color Lukas had ever seen, only to be matched seconds later (and then never again) by his eyes, vibrant in ways the aurora had yet to match - were frosted white with snow and ice. Lukas had always wondered how this strange boy had managed to figure out his name before he himself did, had managed to add syllables to something intangible, something he hadn’t been able to do for many years. Lukas knew, now, that he fell for the older nation the moment he’d breathed his name, vacant-gazed and without realizing it. He would remember the way his breath had fogged in his face like cigarette smoke forever, and how he was wrapped in elk fur down to his toes, despite the fact that the cold bothered him very little.
(Lukas would find this out later, after Matthias had helped him build a house. He would leave his cot in the wee hours of the morning to roll in pure white snow with little more than his undergarments and gloves, and Lukas, wrapped in a variety of thick furs, would watch him silently from the window, the burning wood popping pleasantly at the other end of the room. He still couldn’t manage to sleep with full blankets, like Lukas could, twelve hundred years since their meeting).
Matthias didn’t stay with him all the time, but he was with Lukas more often than not until they reached their late teens, hunting for them and teaching Lukas how to sew. He whittled ornaments and bowls until he was found by his people and called away for business, leaving Lukas to miss the unique warmth of the other and yearn for long legs intertwined with his own beneath the covers Matthias would eventually kick off. Lukas had become accustomed to the obnoxious snores and gentle, heated breath against his neck during his formative years and well beyond them, and could no longer sleep without the sensations, without the feeling of cold feet against the back of his legs and the tickling of fingertips against his stomach.
Though they’d been together for centuries, there had been a time, more than half a millennium ago, where Lukas hadn’t known whether or not Matthias knew what singing his name did to him, what it meant to him when Matthias brought them gutted fish and rabbit for dinner, cloaks splattered with blood, grinning from ear-to-ear and staring at him with the softest of expressions. Lukas had wondered, seven-hundred years ago, if Matthias looked at him, just him, like that, with hooded eyes and fluttering lashes, early in the morning, before electricity existed and the only thing illuminating them were the remnants of fire and the pink-orange hue of the climbing sun over the horizon. He’d wondered, foolishly, if the careful caresses and presses of kisses across his collarbones in the evening and to his lips throughout the day meant as much to Matthias as they did to Lukas. He’d wondered if Dove, Due, whispered like a prayer into his skin, held the same intimacy to Matthias as it did to Lukas, who shivered beneath the older boy until the moon began to fade.
Of course, Matthias had croaked, hands buried in Lukas’ still-damp hair. His bangs, long and dirty and unkempt, hung over his watery eyes, and Lukas had never felt more foolish than in that moment, because Matthias knew how to love physically just as intensely as he knew how to love emotionally, and Lukas was an idiot that had been unable to determine that he was something special. You’re my Dove, Norge, of course I love you.
Lukas had never loved anymore more fully and completely as he loved Matthias, curled up on the couch with a book while Matthias, tipsy from ale after a night of drinking, flipped sleepily through channels on the tv without really seeing them, mumbling half-formed stories into the shoulder of Lukas’ woolen sweater. Lukas knew that he never would love anyone more fully and completely as he loved Matthias, whose fingers were tangled with his own, calloused thumb lazily stroking the back of his hand. Matthias pressed a drunken, affectionate kiss against his ring, simple and gold and so, so beautiful even when the moonlight didn’t catch it, and Lukas smiled, dancing his fingers against the rough stubble on Matthias’ cheek in response.
“Jeg elsker dig, min Due,” Matthias whispered, his words heavy and slurred from exhaustion and alcohol, lips tickling Lukas’ palm.
“Jeg elsker deg også,” Lukas hummed, tilting his husband’s chin to press their lips together. His eyes slipped shut, their foreheads pressed together. Sparks still went off in his belly, and Lukas knew that this was what it meant to be found.