chapter seventeen ; skoll and hati

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"No."

"But darling-"

"No. I don't like it. It's much too small."

"It has five bedrooms!"

"Bjorn, please, I said no." Skadi frowned, shaking her head at the wooden living room they stood in. She turned to Floki, her eyebrows furrowing. "I am sorry, Floki, but it is just not right."

Floki grinned and waved her off.

"You women and your nesting. It is fine Skadi. I will tear down this one and build another."

Skadi smiled, exhaling through her nose and rubbing her now very visible baby bump. Bjorn sighed, resting a hand atop her swollen belly.

"I wish you would let the poor man be," He laughed, shaking his head. "He's building houses almost as fast as you are saying 'no' to them. Our son will be here in three months time, just before I leave for the next raid, and I will not be comfortable leaving if you and he do not have a place to live."

Skadi placed her hand atop Bjorn's, rolling her eyes playfully as Floki exited the wooden house, leaving the young couple alone.

"We will not be homeless," She rolled her eyes. "Just uncomfortable at the hall. Five little boys and only two women to look after them all. Besides, I...I do not wish to be alone after I give birth."

Bjorn frowned softly, tracing small circles on her abdomen.

"Does the prophecy still worry you so greatly?"

"A room colored red," Skadi recited. "And the sun will not shine for three days."

"It could mean anything," Bjorn shook his head, sliding his hands off of her stomach and intertwining their fingers, leading her out of the house. Skadi waved goodbye to Floki, who was deep in concentration, already ripping wooden planks off of the house. "It could mean that there will be a red carpet on the floor, and it will be cloudy for three days after."

"It could also mean blood," Skadi pointed out, her voice raising against Bjorn's exasperated groan. "And that the legends are true, and Skoll will eat the sun and the end of days will be upon us."

They came upon the Kattegat marketplace, smiling kindly at the villagers who greeted them before ducking into the hall.

"The prophecy also said that our son will live a great many years and be a warrior of legend. He will have Odin's wisdom, Thor's strength, and-"

"Loki's wit." Skadi finished, a small sense or relief washing over her. "I suppose you are right."

Bjorn kissed her warmly, but they were quickly interrupted by a chipper Ragnar.

"Look at you," Ragnar mused, eyeing her swollen belly. "All glowing and pregnant. Is there any sight more beautiful, my son? To see a woman carrying your child?"

Bjorn shook his head, gazing lovingly at Skadi, who definitely did not feel like she was glowing. She felt fat and bloated, and her feet and breasts ached, and the food she craved also made her nauseous.

"Skadi," Ragnar turned from his son to his daughter-in-law, a twitchy smile on his face. "Your brother is here from Knul. He waits in the strategy room. Refuses to talk to anyone but you."

Skadi's eyebrows furrowed and she set off towards the strategy room.

"Why didnt you start with that?" She snapped. Ragnar shrugged, he and Bjorn following the pregnant shield-maiden as she waddled to the strategy room, pushing through the hung net that acted as a door.

To Skadi's immense surprise, it was not the eldest of her brothers, Refil, nor was it the most extroverted brother, Asger. Instead, Njord was the brother she found pacing back and forth, his pale blue eyes cast downwards.

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