chapter ten ; winter of our youth

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Bjorn stood in the small clearing between the trees, eyes shifting as he scanned the foliage. He protectively held a large basket of assorted berries in his arms, and around his waist was tied a white sheet that Skadi had begged him to try and keep clean.

It had been over a month since Borik had arrived in Kattegat, and the winter was beginning to thaw. With Skadi's intimidating father also staying at the hall in preparation for the raid on Wessex, it had been hard for the young couple to find time for themselves.

Above him, Bjorn heard a twig snap, and his gaze shot upwards. Taking a handful of berries from the basket, Bjorn waited until he saw movement- then threw.

From the trees, Skadi squeaked. She appeared on a branch, a berry splatter on her face, her eyes narrowing at Bjorn.

The clearing filled with his laughter and he moved towards her, a grin stretched across his face. Hooking her long, strong legs around the branch, Skadi allowed her weight to drop, hanging upside down.

"My little spider-monkey," Bjorn mused, cupping her face with his free hand. He kissed her warmly, feeling her smile against his lips.

Skadi dropped, pushing off from her hands and springing to her feet. She held out her hand, and Bjorn moved to take it.

The duo strolled to the river bank, sitting at the base of a small waterfall. Skadi removed the wooden plank that had been strapped to her back, setting it gently on the damp ground. She untied the sheet from around Bjorn's waist, winking at him playfully.

"What is this called again?" Bjorn asked, setting down the berry basket. Skadi smiled ruefully at him.

"Painting," She explained, tying the white sheet tightly around the wooden plank. She grabbed a handful of berries, squeezing them until her fingers were covered in bright red juice. "It is a western tradition. As children, when Idunn and I were not training, my father would teach us to paint. It helped us unwind after many lost battles."

Bjorn watched, entranced, as she smeared the red berry juice atop the white canvas, her fingers dancing as she added details and shapes to the white sheet.

"What are you designing?" Bjorn's voice was soft, busy admiring how her eyebrows furrowed and little tongue stuck out when she was concentrating.

Skadi looked up and smiled.

"A new tattoo," She mused. "It is about time I added to my collection."

Although many men found women with tattoos unattractive, Bjorn found Skadi's affinity for them charming. He loved the sun on her shoulder, the wolf on her back, and even the apple behind her cut-up ear. His favorite, though, was the coiled snake around her left thigh - for reasons unknown, he found it incredibly sexy.

Skadi set down the canvas, finished, and looked up at him. He raised a playful eyebrow at her.

"You are filthy," He laughed, taking in her berry-stained skin and clothes. Skadi smiled slyly, her eyes sliding towards the river.

"I suppose I may need to wash up before we return to Kattegat, then," Skadi teased, rising to her feet. As Bjorn watched, her fingers began to undo the strings on her cloak, and she let it drop to her feet. Tying her hair up, Skadi then kicked off her boots and stripped herself of her top and trousers, leaving her only on her undergarments- tight black shorts, and a grey strip of cloth that barely contained her breasts.

Bjorn stared, as if in a trance, at her lean body in the sunlight. Her sculpted abdomen, toned thighs, and strong arms. Her defined collarbones, and the dip where her hips met her groin. She turned, revealing her muscular back and perky, round behind.

He did not bother hiding his raging manhood.

Skadi jumped into the water, swimming a few feet before climbing up onto the rock entrance to the waterfall. The sun bounced off her glistening body, and in the light, she seemed to sparkle.

Sending him one last teasing, inviting look, Skadi vanished behind the waterfall.

Bjorn stared for a moment, stunned.

Then, quicker surely than he had ever moved, he shot to his feet. He stumbled to shed his boots and remove his cloak, and then pulled off his tunic, not caring as he heard the fabric ripping. Leaving only his trousers, he jumped into the river, swimming sloppily towards the waterfall.

The water beat greatly against his back, but as the roar of the waterfall echoed behind him, Bjorn found himself in a large cavern.

There, against the far wall, was Skadi.

Sunlight streamed in through the water, the light catching them in odd places. Without saying a word, Bjorn took crossed the cavern in three long strides, and his calloused hands found her bare body.

She pulled him closer as they kissed, his hands running circles along her back, and then tracing upwards. He picked her up, laying her back down on the stone floor and climbing atop her.

Their lips departed and he began to kiss his way down her chin, sucking on her neck and leaving small love bites. He kissed back down to her collarbone, and then tore off the strip of cloth protecting her breasts with his teeth.

He felt her react and push against him as his hot breath fanned across her breasts, her nipples standing erect. He took one breast into his mouth, sucking on it while one hand massaged the other. His free hand travelled downwards, slipping underneath her shorts.

His touch set her on fire, and Skadi's nimble fingers found the drawstring to his trousers. She untied them and pushed them off of him, finding his manhood where it stood erect, flat against his stomach.

She could not take it anymore.

Skadi pushed him off of her and onto his back, standing up and pulling off her shorts quickly. Bjorn watched the rippling light hit her glistening body as she straddled him, and slowly lowered herself onto him.

As her warmth enveloped him, Bjorn swore that he knew true bliss for the first time.

He pushed in an out of her and she grinded against him, the two of them moaning softly. She pulled his head against her chest, her lips finding her ear.

"Bjorn," she moaned, her eyes fluttering as he pulled in and out of her. He grunted in response, keeping a steady pace as they made love.

He picked her up off of him, laying her back down and pulling her leg up over his shoulder to give him better access. She kissed his collarbone as he pushed back into her, her fingers digging into his back. Skadi felt him twitch inside her.

"Fuck," he groaned in her ear, his hot breath setting her body on fire. "Skadi, fuck. You're beautiful."

Skadi moaned as an overwhelming feeling of ecstasy came over her, and she began to finish. Less than a second later, she felt Bjorn's seed begin to fill her, flooding her insides.

He pulled out and rolled over onto his back, pulling Skadi into his arms and laying a kiss atop her head. They were both breathing heavily, and Skadi heard Bjorn's heartbeat underneath her ear.

"You," Bjorn breathed, stroking her hair. "Are incredible."

Skadi kissed his chest, then worked her way up is neck, straddling him and pulling him into a sitting position as she kissed him. Bjorn groaned, holding her bare back underneath his calloused hands.

Bjorn stared into her golden eyes as she stroked his hair, trying to memorize her face as if he might never see her again.

"Marry me," He breathed. A smile twitched on to Skadi's face.

"I already am," she laughed. "Are you so satisfied that you cannot think straight?"

A grin stretched across Bjorn's face and he pulled her closer, laying another kiss on her neck.

"That was arranged. I never got to actually ask you," He tucked her hair behind her ear, looking back up at her. "Skadi Serpent-Caller, I am asking you to marry me."

Softly, Skadi smiled. She tilted his chin upwards, pecking him lightly on the lips.

"Of course I will marry you, Bjorn."

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