Based on the Friday night prompt game from @whenimaunicorn. Thank you so much for this awesome prompt, and also for letting me submit it super late! Sorry it’s so long, it took a turn I didn’t expect when I started writing it :)
It was my older sister, Ingibjorg, who suggested the game. It was played fairly often in our own kingdom, but nobody in Kattegat seemed to know it, and she cackled in delight. “My sister will show you how it’s done, then.” She motioned to me. “I need three volunteers.” Nobody moved, unwilling to get in over their heads. “Brave enough to stand in a shield wall, but not brave enough to play a little drinking game? What kind of place is this?” She raised her eyebrows, and then the horn of mead in her hand. “Maybe not deep enough in your cups yet?” As if to demonstrate, she drained her mead. “Look how pretty Thora is. Do you really think she would hurt you?”
A deep chuckle sounded as the first volunteer stepped forward. He was tall, and his long braid fell midway down his back. “We’ve seen her on the battlefield, Ingibjorg. We have reason to hesitate, but I will play.”
“Is Ubbe the bravest of the sons of Ragnar, then?” Ingibjorg challenged. Immediately, Sigurd set down his ute and stood, always eager to prove himself worthy of his father. Ivar dragged himself forward as well, smirking first at me and then up at his brother, “I can’t let dear Sigurd have all the fun.” Ingibjorg dragged three chairs and set them up in a line, and the brothers sat.
She grinned at me, wagging her eyebrows suggestively. “Not a bad selection, little sister.” She raised her voice to explain the rules, “The boys will close their eyes, and they are not to move. Thora will choose one to lick, one to slap, and one to fondle. Does everyone agree to these rules?”
“So we cannot respond?” Ubbe asked. Ingibjorg considered this. “You may respond a little, to keep things interesting. But keep in mind you will all get turns later, too.” He nodded in approval, and Ingibjorg continued, “Close your eyes, and let’s begin!” They obeyed, and I considered the choices before me. I knew only a little of the brothers, since this was my first time raiding with them, but what I did know made my decision a little easier. I certainly knew who deserved the slap.
I walked over to Ubbe, sitting still with his hands resting on his knees, and bent my face to his. I let my warm breath tease him for a moment, and enjoyed the pungent scent of mead on his breath, sweet enough to make me a little giddy. I moved slightly to the side and slowly dragged the tip of my tongue along the sculpted line of his jaw, up the center of his chin, and to his lips. They were warm and full, parted either in surprise or pleasure, and I traced their outline. His tongue darted out to gently touch mine, and I laughed. He winked, chuckling warmly, as I pulled away.
Sigurd sat in the next chair, making him the natural choice for my next victim. I stopped in front of him and bent a little, running a hand through the soft curls, and tugged lightly on one of his braids. Next I ran my hands down his shoulders and chest, the coarse fabric of his shirt not concealing the lean strength of the muscles beneath it. I moved my hands to his arms, stopped at his hands, and squeezed the calloused fingers. He squeezed back gently, then released my hands and opened his eyes to grin at me, triumphant because he knew what was coming. His rivalry with Ivar was well known.
I stepped to the last chair. Even with his eyes closed Ivar looked dangerous, but I was confident in my choice. The slap rang out sharply, a faint stinging beginning in my palm, and Ivar struck like a snake. He used his arms to launch himself at me, and I barely had time to move out of his way. He barreled into me like a runaway horse, and his momentum carried us to the wooden floor in a tangled, flailing heap. He quickly writhed loose and pulled himself on top of me, gaining the advantage. As he pinned me, I realized those seemingly useless legs actually made a great deadweight. That was also where the weakness would lie, though.
“To whom are you loyal?” He growled, face hovering above mine. Pressed this close, I could smell the warm musky scent of him, woodsmoke and leather and a little sweat. His breath smelled like mead,sweet and hot, and I hated the unexpected coil of desire stirring in my belly. Damn this bastard, and damn mead, that infamous loosener of legs. His blue eyes bored into me, seeming almost black with fury as he awaited an answer.
“King Finehair.” My voice trembled a little at the word king, and he smirked. Did he think I was scared of him, or did he know the true reason? It didn’t seem to matter, because he pressed his advantage by bringing one hand to my throat and applying light pressure, just enough to be uncomfortable. A small edge of fear and anger mingled with the unexpected lust, but it only seemed to strengthen it. How much had I drunk tonight?
“If you swear loyalty to me instead, I will forgive the insult you have given me.” He pressed harder, showing his advantage, but a plan was forming in my mead-fogged mind.
“Never,” my voice rasped painfully around his hand. “What good is loyalty if it changes like the tides?” As I spoke, I slowly bent one knee, trying to get my heel to the floor and get some leverage. I could see him considering my words. “Would you consider fighting for me, Thora, if your king,” he sneered the words, “decided not to raid?”
“Perhaps, or maybe I would like a taste of peace.” I bent my leg further. He was too focused on keeping his grip tight on my throat and my arms pinned to my sides to notice. He lowered his face closer to mine, his mead-sweet breath brushing my dry lips.”Do you fear me, Thora?”
I shrugged, as much as my position would allow. “Not greatly.” His icy eyes narrowed, piercing me, and that was when I made my move. I used my bent leg as leverage to flip us, and landed on top of him with a dull thud as a surprised cry escaped his lips. Although I had my knees digging painfully into his ribs, he had a vicelike grip on my upper arms. He growled low in his throat and yanked me roughly to him, and he kissed me.
There was nothing soft in that kiss, anger and insult and desire giving easy way to an animal lust and the taste of blood as he bit my lip. The copper tang of my blood mixed with the sweetness of the mead on his lips, and I couldn’t stop the small, hungry gasp that flew from my lips. He groaned quietly, pressing his mouth hard to mine. His angry lips demanded submission, which I refused to give. He broke off the kiss, his lips and surrounding skin reddened with my blood, and pushed me roughly offof his chest. “Someday, Thora, you will submit to me.”
My heart pounded like Thor’s hammer as Ingibjorg hanged me a horn of mead, and I drained it in long gulps. It stung the cut on my lip and reminded me of the taste of Ivar’s mouth. I couldn’t get rid of the taste of blood and Ivar. I choked and nearly spat out the mead when he turned to my sister and asked sweetly, “When is my turn?”