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Linger

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This would have been the part where Askeladd would get up and walk away.

 

Bjorn waited to feel the weight lift off of the other side of the bed. He waited for the heat beside him to slowly subside without a word. He closed his eyes and sighed, waiting for the lingering warmth of pleasure to finally subside to be replaced by a dull emptiness. 

 

The warmth never left. 

 

When Bjorn opened his eyes, Askeladd was still there. Curled into his side, Askeladd’s head rested on Bjorn’s shoulder. He was looking up at him with half-lidded teasing eyes. 

 

“You’re just going to pass out? Tsk tsk. Your stamina really does need some work.” 

 

Bjorn blinked slowly. He...he had to be dreaming. He was exhausted from today’s siege. Perhaps the effects of the mushrooms were still clouding his mind. This must be a dream…

 

If it was, Bjorn never wanted to wake up. 

 

The small hut was silent, save for the soft crackling of the fire. Outside, the men celebrated the success of their raid. Bjorn could hear the muffled laughter and singing as they drank the night away, probably revelling in the riches they procured. Bjorn looked down at the man nestled into his side. Askeladd was smiling...not his usual smug smirk, but a warm and gentle gaze that Bjorn had never seen before. 

 

Something from within him ached. It ached deeper than any blade could cut. It ached knowing that in the morning, Askeladd would leave the bed and continue business as usual. He would lead the men into another battle, and entrust Bjorn to have his back as they fought. But he would never speak of their intimacies, of the warmth between them as they lay intertwined together. His eyes would be cold once more. 

 

No. 

 

Without thinking, Bjorn pulled Askeladd closer into his arms. He held his leader against his scarred chest and buried his face in his blonde hair. There was a muffled gasp of surprise from Askeladd, but he didn’t fight back or move away. Instead, he felt the man relax and settle into his embrace.

 

“Bjorn?”

 

He remained silent, pulling him as close as their bodies would allow. He wouldn’t think about tomorrow, about the battles ahead, about the coldness in Askeladd’s eyes. He wouldn’t think about the ache that pierced his heart. 

 

Askeladd had stayed. He was here, nestled in his arms. That was all that mattered.