She narrowly avoided getting hit in the face with the heavy wooden door as he pushed into the kitchen, sorrowful in that he probably would have let her grab a second bottle if she had. Knitting her brows together she set her sights on a lone bottle on the wooden table - nothing strong, scoffable by the standards of her father’s own private reserves, but it would do the job. Wrapping her fingers along the neck she pulled it into her lap, pulling the cork out with her teeth and taking a long drink. A small whine tore from her throat as she shivered, nose wrinkled just say. “This’ll keep me guid company in bed,” she mumbled, wiping her lips. Lifting her eyes to his she allowed for a lazy grin before remembering the second half of his conditions and grabbing a particularly sugary tart from the bunch. “An’ this-” she yawned, rubbing sleep from her eye. “should keep ye righ’ happy tae.”
He steered her around the kitchen to take up the drink and the snack and, had he not been holding her as he was, it might have looked as though they were dancing. He was graceful at least, though there was little grace in the way she tipped the bottle back and took a nice long swig. He maybe would have felt bad about enabling her to drink more if he hadn’t met her father and his clansmen; as it was, he was aware of how much alcohol a Scotsman could hold, and despite Merida’s size he had a little faith that a few more sips wouldn’t make her sick. He smiled a bit at her comment, found himself a little distracted by the wording - keeping her company in bed, she said - and then headed out of the kitchen and up the stairs once all of their cargo was picked up.
“I’ll put you in bed but I’m not leaving right away,” he warned her as he scaled the stairs. “I’ve got to wrap up your ankle and make sure it’s all right. Can I do that?” He paused. “Or do you want me to find someone else?” Eyesore wanted to make sure no lines were being crossed, though perhaps he’d already done that in action - the way he held her in that moment, pressed against him - and in thought.
“Hmm?” was her mumbled response, the princess squinting beneath eyelashes as if he were a picture that had started to blur. She had been enjoying the cool night air with a bottle of booze and a bounce in her step only moments before - it seemed like eons ago now. There was a little spark in her that wanted to put up a fuss about being tucked away for the night, but then she also didn’t seem to mind it much if it was Eyesore tending to her. Lips twisted in a small frown she mulled it over before nodding her head. “A-aye.” she agreed. Glancing towards the kitchen corridor she cleared her throat, looking up at him with a raised brow. “An’ should ye think tae make a stop tae fill yer belly maybe ye can also get me another bottle, lad?”
Any other time he might have had a laugh at her expense, seeing her drunk - for revenge, because he’d made a fool of himself after a few too many himself, so now it was his turn. But no, no, things had taken a more serious turn when she’d hurt herself, so perhaps the teasing could wait until another time. He eyed that frown of hers, wishing it away as hard as he could though that did little to change things. At her request for another bottle, he raised his eyes and weighed the pros and cons of such a thing in his mind. Well… he had made her spill hers into the stream, so fairness dictated that he get her another bottle… and perhaps the spirits would help with the pain of her ankle… but did she really need anymore? He made a decision. “C’mon,” he said, as if she had a choice to follow or not, and turned for the kitchen. “You’re gonna have to be my hands. Grab a bottle of what you want and a tart for me and we’ll be on our way.” He’d insist upon sharing the drink, if only to make sure that she didn’t down the whole bottle.
There wasn’t much protesting on her part as she was scooped up into his arms, cold and wet from having fallen into the stream. She did manage to wrinkle her nose as she looked up at him, blowing a stray curl from her eyes. “An’ wha’ about yer walk? I shouldnae be the ane tae keep ye from i’.” Her leg was beginning to throb and the thought of putting weight on it was almost enough to sober her, the grip she had on him tightening just so. “Try nae tae get caught then, lov’,” she mumbled, cheek resting against his shoulder. There would be too much to explain to whomever found them and she had no patience to even begin right then.
His walk? It was the last thing he was worried about. “I walk all the time,” was his answer, and he’d hear no more of it. After all, he was the one responsible for Merida’s state, so he was going to make it right by helping her. As she tightened his grip on her he held her a little bit closer, a little tighter to his chest, and at her next comment he managed a grin. “I know my way around. Guess you won’t be able to guess how many times I’ve sneaked into the kitchen.” A playful glance down at her. “Scotland wasn’t quite ready for a Viking’s appetite.” Soon enough, they were inside the stone walls of the castle - the very things he’d been trying to avoid, but any concern for himself had fled the moment Merida had stumbled backwards. “I’ll take you to your room?” He, of course, would need permission, or orders to take her somewhere else.
She blinked as he held out his hand to her, eventually wrapped her own fingers through his and lifting herself from the water. “I- I think.” Her skirts heavy and the chemise she wore beneath stuck to her legs but the worst discomfort came in her ankle. A whimper tore itself free of its throaty confines and she leaned again him, holding herself up for support. After a moments thought she shook her head, peering at him from underneath curls, “Nae, I was wrong. I’m no’ fine a’ all.” She sniffled and then brightened, reminded of the bottle in her hand. Just a sip should have done her good. It would have at least brightened her spirits, she figured. Lifting her hand her brows furrowed together as she found the bottle empty, the contents spilled into the waters.
Relief swelled in him at her reply. She was okay. Good. Good, that was all that mattered - but then that relief was quickly stolen from him at her whimper. He held fast to her; nothing in the world could have made him let go of her in that moment. Nothing short of death itself. That she was out of drink was the last thing on his mind; he needed to get her inside and needed to put that ankle up. Wrap it in something to keep it still, too. He’d suffered the same injury a thousand times from dragon wrangling, and untreated it would just get worse. Without a word of warning, Eyesore swept Merida up into his arms, holding her body damp from the stream against his chest. “Let’s get you inside,” he said finally, his usually bright face just a little solemn. Just a little guilty.
“N-nae, I d’nae want ye tae see i’.” she hiccuped, backing up from him. Still he managed to close the gap and she could only whine in response, grip on the neck of the bottle tightening. His fingertips felt like a feather tip against her and it was enough to raise goosebumps on her skin. “Now y-ye’re the ane who’s bein’ naughty. Ye jus’ want tae have i’ all tae yerself.” She accused, pulling herself free of his grip. “I-it’s nae fair…” she continued, slowly stepping back. “Ye’re sae big an’ ‘m sae small, an’ ye’ll have all o’ i’ an’ leave none for m- !” A cry tore from her lips as her heel made contact with a stone and her ankle twisted, sending her falling back. The nighttime air echoed with a splash and she looked up at him from the shallow water of the stream, wide eyed and in shock.
He wasn’t so selfish a man; he only wanted her to admit what he could smell on her breath and what showed in the tiny, halting hiccups that escaped her lips. A pout came to his face when she pulled away, leaving him empty-handed, and he mourned the girl more than he did the booze - though the playful expression fled his face in an instant at the noise that came from her. His heart dropped to his stomach just as she dropped to the ground and he rushed forward, tried his hardest to catch her before— splash. Too late. His gaze met her wide one and his brows drew together, lifted in concern. “Odin,” he breathed. He was thankful, at least, that the stream was shallow, though it did nothing to calm the fast-beating heart that had moved from his stomach to his throat. “Are you all right?” he asked, and reached out to lift her from the water and put her on her feet.
Her brow furrowed as she caught the tilt of his head, instinctively shuffling away from him. “Huh,” she said, lips parting briefly with a small gasp. Stubbornly turning her head to the side she rocked on her heels, free hand holding fistful of her skirts. Clearing her throats she finally answered, “I d’nae know what ye’re talkin’ about. I havenae anythin’ at all.” Shameless and said with the utmost seriousness, though it wasn’t a charade that she could keep up for long. “It’s a seceret,” she finally admitted after a small pause, leaning forward with a grin. “I cannae let ye know or else ye’ll think tha’ ‘m naughty.” She winked, giggling behind her fingers.
His heart warmed immediately. Nothing cuter than what stood in front of him, he would swear his life on it. “Lucky for me,” he returned, “I already think you’re naughty. So there’ll be no harm in showing me, right?” Eyesore too a few steps forward, closing the distance between them. A few more and he was standing immediately in front of her, glancing down at her curl-covered head and cheeks touched with red. And then, without warning, he sneaked a hand around her, feeling for whatever it was she’d decided to hide from him; his fingers slid along her freckled arm. He had a feeling he already knew what she had, especially with the way she was giggling in his direction, and he’d be amused to no end if his hunch ended up being the truth.
It was possible that she was feeling jumpier than usual, face falling at the sound of snapping twig behind her. With tensed shoulders she turned her head to peer over her shoulder, relief softening her as she offered him a small smile. “Lad,” she said, nodding her head. A hiccup spilled from her lips and she could only laugh for a moment. Clearing her throat she turned full way around to meet him, though she held the bottle behind her back. She felt the same as a child hiding an extra dessert and it curled her lips with a mischievous smile that had her biting her lips to hide. “Out for a stroll, are ye?”
An apology was quick to his lips. “Didn’t mean to sneak up on you,” he said, tilting his head to the side. He met her smile with an apologetic one of his own - one that only widened when the tiny hiccup sneaked from her throat. If that wasn’t the cutest thing he’d ever heard, then he wasn’t a Viking. At her question, he gave a slow nod, though made no answer. Instead, he leaned to the side a bit, furrowing his brow and trying to look behind her. She wasn’t exactly being subtle, after all. “What’s that you’ve got?” he asked, and, as always, remnants of his smile remained curled in the corners of his mouth.
It seemed as if one minute she had been sitting before a crackling fire and then the next, she wasn’t. The cool night air felt good against her face, flushed rosy and pink from bubbly drink. She hooked her lips around the neck of the bottle and took another long gulp, pulling back with wrinkled face and flashing tongue. “Ahhh…” she groaned, wiping a hand across her warm forehead. She stood in silence for a moment, face tilted to the silvery pinprick stars before her shoulders trembled and she fell apart into a fit of giggles.
Stone walls felt strange around him for so long living in a village made of wood. More than that, the castle had a feeling of age in it, ancient walls where in Berk, every building was new and none, save the Great Hall, were older than he was. DunBroch, as much as he loved it - for its occupants, mostly - proved suffocating every once in a while, and the cool, open air outside called to him. So it had that night, and so he had followed that call - and so he stumbled upon the very reason the castle was a home to him at the best of times. “Your Highness,” he grinned.
The whispered voice echoed, came to his ears from every direction. He turned to find the lips that uttered his name but did not lay eyes upon them.
A laugh. One he knew well. It brought a smile to his face though it was dazed, confused because the sound surrounded and filled him. Where was she?
“Come find me.”
Movement caught and drew his gaze: red curls disappearing down a corridor. His feet were quick to follow but not quick enough, for when he turned the corner he was met with nothing. Nothing, except for a crack in a door through which light filtered. Soft light. Sunlight through clouds.
His fingers curled around the edge of the door and pulled it slowly open, and where there should have been another stone room of the castle there was instead a wide meadow. Tall grass, flowers that swayed in gentle wind. Out of place were lengths of string held taut between posts, and on the string was draped long pieces of flowing fabric. The sound of fluttering in his ears, he reached out and pushed aside one curtain only to find more before him.
Another laugh. He turned his head toward it, stepped in that direction. Parted two rippling curtains and there— there on the other side he could see her silhouette through sheer white. Her fingertips touched the fabric, slid slowly across it as he moved nearer. “Eyesore,” came the voice again.
He would wait no longer. One scarred hand curled into a fist around the cloth and pulled it from the line, and to his feet it pooled, revealing her. She was bare to him - every freckle, every dimple, every flush of pink. Her hair moved like the curtains in the wind, falling over her shoulder. A curl followed the curve of her breast and he couldn’t tear his eyes away.
He blinked and she was in his arms. He blinked again and he was lowering her into the soft grass, and his body was as bare as hers was. Her skin was warm and soft and when he touched it, it was with reverence.
He did not take her, but she gave herself to him. Her knees were pressed against his hips and he moved into her again and again and from her lips came gasps that echoed just as her voice had in beckoning him. Her hand was lost in the grass; it found sheer white cloth and twisted it in its grip - but he soon welcomed those grasping fingers back when they found purchase on the planes of his shoulders, the tips of them sinking into his skin.
Their bodies rolled in the grass and her weight was atop him, though her lifted himself and pressed their chests together to find her lips. She didn’t kiss him; her mouth was busy forming shaking sighs and breathless whimpers but still his lips remained, only to taste the sounds - until her head tilted back and her body arched and she trembled against him.
With his face buried against her neck, he followed her, and a gust of wind sent sweet fabric to soothe their sated skin.
There was nothing to soothe him when he awoke in his bed. The blanket that covered him only stuck to him and weighed heavily on limbs that shook. A hand lifted to his forehead beaded with sweat and he closed his eyes; he wanted to go back there. He wanted an afterglow shared with her and not with the suffocating darkness of his room.