For my Ægir’s fans…
Kirsty could see it in his eyes though they were downcast. It was the latest of the demons they were forced to face, obstacles that stood like ancient adversaries of old against their Viking ancestors. Despair.
She could empathize. How difficult this must all be for such a vital man, used to the wind and the waves of the sea. But now the truth was dawning, it was not just his ‘sea legs’ that threatened to abandon him. The truth was Sven would never walk unaided again.
She knew this better than he or anyone else other than the doctors. In those final days before they had left the hospital in Oslo, she had drawn them aside. Explaining her training and the role that she would be taking on as not just his wife and carer but his personal physiotherapist, she had asked for the complete truth.
She would never forget the x-rays they had shown her. The shattered bones of his femurs and pelvis from a height of almost twenty feet, a fall that would have killed most men. Even the ones taken after the surgery were more metal than bone in places. While her expertise lay in sensory issues and muscle coordination that was the foundation of an Occupational Therapist, she had enough of an understanding and grounding of the companion field of physical therapy to know what it all meant.
Her role then was to motivate and push him. To prod and cajole Sven to reach as close to full recovery as was possible. But even that would be far less than he hoped for. Than any of them did. She had not even shared her knowledge fully with Mikael. She did not want to dash anyone’s hopes. Because sometimes miracles did happen.
But that was what it would take for Sven to ever again take the helm of Ægir’s Captive. Sure, he did not need his legs to ‘drive’ the ship, she chuckled because she had become familiar enough with their world to know she would have earned a punishment for those thoughts even. She could almost see Bjorn’s stern look as he asserted, ‘You don’t drive a boat.’
The thing was that the sea was unpredictable. One moment Sven could be easily mastering that task and a short time later all hands would be required on deck as they battled winds and waves of the especially turbulent waters of the North Sea. Even more so during the most lucrative winter months. As hard as it was to admit even to herself, Sven would become a liability in those moments. A liability that could…
She rubbed her stomach to reassure not just her girls but herself. No, the runes were cast. Fate had set their course for them. Now it was up to her to guide this ship of family through the rough waters that lay ahead.
Once she would have doubted herself. Her ability to do this seemingly impossible task of birthing the captain that had always lain in Mikael’s heart but was overshadowed by his older brother, of encouraging Bjorn to apply the business and computer skills that had seen them through those dark months of exile to chart a new course for the family business, of absolving Petrine and even Olaf of a lifetime of guilt, of drawing Monika out of the world bounded by her senses and autism, and hardest of all…giving this man that if she were honest she loved from before they met a new purpose and reason to live. Oh, and all while, nourishing, protecting and growing the babies that were the future and the purpose of all of it. Not too hard a task at all.
Not for a shield maiden. And a daughter of Freyja.
She reached out and grasp his hand once more. She fought his superior strength. And won. She would not give up. She was not going to lose him. Not again. Not this time. She brought it to the fullness of her body where as if on cue the girls began their dance lessons.
She waited. Hoping that he would find the strength to look at her, at them. But he did not. Rather than castigate him or disrespect him, she felt the depths of his pain. She placed herself in his shoes and tears rose to her eyes. ‘Please sweet goddess of love give me the words to reach him,’ she prayed as she simply sat beside him sharing in the pain and wonder of life. Their lives. Entwined and drawn together by the sometimes dark and often gloriously bright rays of Fate.
When he still had not found that fountain of faith and hope that Kirsty new lived deep within him, she used the fingers of her other hand to turn his face and lift it to hers.
“I meant it, Sven. We need you. The girls and I need you. You don’t want them growing up without their father, do you?” She knew that she had scored a direct hit with those words as she watched his throat constrict.
She inhaled as she realized that it was time to begin to reveal all of the truth that she had kept close to her heart, “A man can do more than just fish the seas you know. It takes a true man to lead his family through these turbulent waters,” she paused and brushed back the increasingly grey hairs that now curled unkempt about his face that was more lined than it had been that first day.
“Mikael may be able to helm Ægir’s Captive. Bjorn may be able to broker deals with high end restaurants in London for the best prices for the freshest fish direct from the seas. But we all still need you, my love. None of us understand the complexities of this small world of kinship and competition in which we find ourselves. None of us have the depth and perspective of these markets the way you do. If this business, this family is going to survive…”
She chuckled and forced a smile, “then you, my beloved, need to pull your head out of your ass and realize that we need what is inside it more than we need your legs or your back or even your hand at the helm of Ægir’s Captive. Because the reality is we need that hand at the helm of this family. We need your leadership in a world that has gone haywire and is turned upside down.”
She gripped his hand as tightly as she could and searched that inscrutable face for some sign, any sign that he had heard her, that he understood what was truly at stake here.