If you’ve missed the prologue, you can find it here:
Fate Interrupted: Ch. One
“This is so ridiculous.” She tugged at the front of her shirt until it covered the thin band of flesh along her low-cut jeans.
“No it isn’t, Vala. We have been assigned this role and we’ll play it for as long as necessary. Understood?”
Defiance lit her amber eyes. Her chin jutted out, reinforcing the emotion. “If you’re going to say my name at all, say it correctly.”
“Vala is easier for people to repeat and to remember than Svala – which by the way, makes you sound foreign.”
“I am foreign, you son of a–”
“Watch it,” he warned.
“Or have you forgotten that you’re the one who killed me?” She jabbed a finger into his chest, knowing full well that beneath the thin fabric of his shirt rested the giant X shaped scar she gifted the bastard before he turned her to dust.
Marius – the name he had been given at birth during the dawn of the Roman Empire – shrugged and pushed her finger away, rubbing the area. She knew it still affected him, still ached, just a little and it didn’t bother her one bit. Between herself and her brother, she was glad that she was the one who died, but it made her feel a little better to have the knowledge that her murderer felt pain and would for the rest of his miserable life.
“Vala, please.” Marius dropped down onto the nearest surface, hand still pressed above his heart. “Don’t you think I despise myself for what I did to you? That I cannot sleep at night without seeing the terror in your eyes seconds before you …”
His hands moved up to cover his face. “It was supposed to be Ivar, and you know this. I don’t have the authority to question what I do, I just know I have to do it.”
Each time he went through the ‘poor me’ routine, Vala ignored Marius.
Of course he had a choice. They all did.
He simply chose the cowards way out. He chose to kill because he was too weak to accept his punishment. A weak and pathetic excuse for life. Or semi-life, whatever one wished to call a reaper’s existence. Marius may not be alive in the human sense, but he still walked, talked, breathed … he still bled and hoped and wished and dreamed …
Just like Ivar.
Until the day he died at the hands of his enemies on the battlefield.
Vala paused to smile at the memory of her beloved younger brother as she carried him to Valhalla on that day. Pride swelled in her chest, puffing it out. Thanks to her, Ivar had lived a long and wonderful life. He got married, had many sons and gave his life doing what he loved most.
She pushed a hand to her own chest at the stabbing ache that grew stronger each day. Those things had been stolen from her. But Vala did something important now. She carried souls into the afterlife, gave them peace in exchange for their grief, sorrow and agony.
Just recalling some of those instances, after dropping her charge off at the gates when she touched their cheek and accepted their pain made Vala feel weak herself.
The worst feeling in the world. Nothing could compare.
But, today might be just as agonizing.
What was so terrible about today?
For the first time in over one eleven hundred years, Svala Lathgerthasdottir was going to attend high school.
In a small town.
In the Rocky Mountains.
In Alberta, Canada.
Though she should not still possess it, she clasped her fingers around the priceless heirloom she wore hanging from her neck. The Mjölnir, an anchor-shaped pendant known as the hammer of Thor. Her mother gave it to her shortly before her father divorced her for a Swedish princess. It was the only thing she kept from her previous life. The only thing that reminded her of where she came from.
Of what she used to be.
And, that she must always remember to breathe and keep herself from going … berserk. It only got her into trouble last time.
Vala chuckled at the memory. The first, last and only time she ever became what she truly was on the inside.
A Viking warrior.
“Come on,” Marius’ voice broke her current train of thought. “I’m driving.”
“Great,” came her muttered reply.
Vala took one last look at herself in the hall mirror and pushed the endless locks of golden hair over her shoulders.
Okay, so she had two things to remind her of where she came from. Three if she included her obvious ancient Norse features.
Since they didn’t live in Jasper Alberta, there was a bit of a drive to get to the school. Vala used this time to consider everything she knew about high school. She was supposed to be a seventeen year old girl – eighteen in five weeks, thank the Gods – in her final year which meant she would know what to expect. All of her knowledge came from television which wasn’t always the best teacher.
She spent the past month watching every recent show, movie, documentary, and anything else she could get her hands on, that might give her some insight into the high school teenager mindset. And damn, the information felt like one big mind frag.
“You remember the cover?”
“Ja, jeg husker det,” she told him that she did recall it.
Vala laughed. He hated when she reverted to her native tongue.
“Be serious, Val.” He gripped the wheel until his tanned knuckles turned white. “This is important.”
“Okay, okay.” Putting on her serious face, she waited for him to go through it all again.
Marius was nothing if not efficient and anal to a T.
“We go in, keep our heads down. Paternal twins, remember, surname Hewlett.” His hazel eyes met hers expectantly. Vala nodded. “Mind open at all times, listening to every student, teacher cafeteria worker, custodial staff member, everyone in the building. You know what to look for.
“Just remember, the sooner we get what we need, the sooner we can leave.” He turned into the school lot and found a parking space, sliding into it with practiced ease. “Neither of us want to be here, Val, and I know how much you loath working with me. But these are the cards we’ve been dealt. C’est la vie. Whatever.”
Taking one look around her at the flesh and blood human students arriving for their first day of school, Vala silently agreed with Marius. They may not enjoy working together, but the Fates arranged it this way more often than not because they made one kick ass team.
Marius reaped ‘em.
She saved their souls.
And be damned to the Goddess Hel whoever had begun wiping out her fellow Valkyrie. Without them, the souls of the dead wandered aimlessly for days in agony before they vanished forever – almost like she had before Marius so valiantly rescued her and begged for her to be given the Valkyrie status just like her mother had been granted.
Yeah, she would do this and do one hell of a good job too.
“Let’s do this high school thing.” Vala shoved open her door and exited the car, hitching her bag higher onto her shoulder.
They walked into the school in silence, locating the office as instructed on the day Marius enrolled them, and waited in the short line for their timetables. It took a moment for her to familiarize herself with the sound of hearts beating. At first it was like a thousand war drums being pounded out of sync.
Vala already had a headache.
Then she focused on the whooshing noise of blood pumping through veins. Kind of relaxing, like the beach. Or so she made herself believe.
“Thanks, Mrs. P.”
With her eyes closed, Vala didn’t see who spoke, but it swept away every other sound and flitted across the pleasure center in her brain like a whispering caress. She pictured the person to whom it belonged to be tall and muscular, maybe with a light tan. He’d have warm cinnamon hair, maybe a little unruly. Curling slightly near his collar.
And bright, clear blue eyes. Blue like the summer sky that kissed the mountains and the sea in Sogn.
The image blew away as someone collided with her, sending her to her butt in the middle of the small and crowded office. Vala threw her eyes open and stared up at her fantasy come to life, offering his hand.
“Damn, I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”
Don’t touch me! her brain shrieked as the guy reached for her. At the same time, an almost desperate need overtook her to know what it might feel like if he could touch her.
She imagined warm flesh, slightly rough. She saw he had a few callouses.
From what though? Rock climbing? Playing guitar?
Vala had to know, even if it meant poking around inside his head uninvited. Most of the time she only cut through the surface, the memories and current thoughts a person was having at that moment but right now, she wanted specifics. She wanted more because she couldn’t have it. Couldn’t have him.
While inside his head, she subconsciously went through his mind to make sure he wasn’t the reason they were there. A barely audible sigh of relief expelled itself from her lungs. Victor Hastings didn’t have any memory imprints to prove them false. Everything in his head belonged there and nothing had been taken out or added.
Contrary to what she first thought, he didn’t rock climb or play guitar. Those callouses were from something unexpected. Hard labour. She eyed his hands again, seeing how each tool would fit in them. Vala swallowed hard. His hands were massive. As was the rest of him. Tall too.
“Keep yourself together, Svala,” Marius spoke to her with his thoughts and pulled her to her feet.
She nodded to both of them and tugged at her shirt again. Why did she let Marius buy her clothes? The guy must have purchased everything at least a size too small.
“I thought the whole point of us being here was to fit in. I hardly fit into this damned shirt, Marius.”
“I’m fine. It was my fault.” She despised the wispy quality to her voice. A practiced smile, offering just a hint of her teeth solidified the lie.
“You’re sure?” It felt like the cerulean sea of his eyes pulled her into their depths and began tugging at her heart.
Marius tugged on her fist while clearing his throat. Victor followed her arm down to his hand, clutching hers. Vala could actually feel the moment when his pulse stuttered for just a fraction of a second.
“Let this human think that you and I are an item.”
Vala snorted. “As opposed to mortal enemies or siblings?”
He ignored her comment. “It’s better for him in the long run.”
Better … Wasn’t it?
Liar, her mind called out.
“Yes. I’m fine.” She smiled to Marius and stepped forward with him, breaking the connection with the human.
“Good. It’s better this way, Val.”
She glanced up at her supposed twin when they reached the counter and thought, “So you keep reminding me.”
But it was the truth.
Things were better this way.
Better for him, at least. The human would live another day, he would smile and breathe and his heart would continue to beat.
Even though, for some unknown reason, hers felt like it had just shattered into a million tiny shards.
She rubbed the ache away and plastered on another smile for the woman behind the desk while Marius worked her mind to speed up the process. The woman, Mrs. Paulson, handed them their schedules and a printed map of the school so they wouldn’t get lost.
How bloody thoughtful, despite the fact that if one were to get lost in this tiny building, they should not be out in the general public.
Then again, neither should she.
“So I guess my powers of persuasion aren’t as strong as I thought.” Marius frowned, passing over her timetable. “We were supposed to have every class together, for support.”
Vala scanned the page then checked his out. They only shared one class. “At least we’re together for phys ed,” she pointed out. “You can keep me from touching any wayward boys.”
He grunted a short laugh. “Just be careful. I’ll meet you at lunch. Your locker.”
Backing away, Marius tapped the outer corner of his left brow with his fore and middle fingers. The sign of respect that a reaper offers to a Valkyrie upon parting. She closed her eyes and bowed slightly in response.
So, this is high school, Vala thought to herself as she located her locker and deposited the things she didn’t require that morning. Her mind open to those around her, head started filling with hundreds of voices, most of which considered mindless and idle things such as clothes and popularity.
One boy read a popular novel in an effort to have something to discuss with the girl he had a crush on. Pathetic, considering he possessed a high level of intelligence and some pretty good looks.
She turned her attention to the girl in question and shook her head. Not so much out of his league as a complete airhead. He was wasting his time.
But the petty thoughts of humans didn’t concern her. Fitting in and finding whoever happened to be behind the atrocities towards her kind was her concern though. With that thought in mind, Vala closed her locker and headed to her first class of the day.
The newfound sense of calm she instilled within herself shattered as soon as she entered the room and noticed who already sat in the back row. If ever the past could come back to haunt a person, that moment had come for her. As impossible as it was, the guy sitting in the far corner of the class looked just like the man who ruled over Sogn and Vestfold in what was now Modern day Norway, back when she was a child.
But this person died long before Ivar did. A good ten years before. And if he’d been made a reaper, wouldn’t Marius have known?
… Unless he was the reason they were here.
Rather than dwell on it and make herself known to him, Vala pretended to be looking around the room and then turned her attention to the teacher who assigned her a seat – directly in front of the boy who knocked her down in the office. Those cerulean eyes pinned her where she sat, holding her captive.
Thoughts swarmed her the second she opened her mind to his.
Not for you, Vic.
Need her though.
Can’t. She’s taken.
Never seen anyone like her before.
You can’t have her though. Don’t deserve her.
Screw that. They shouldn’t rule my life from the grave. If I want something, I should go for it. Go for her.
Don’t deserve her.
“Hey, you’re new in town right?”
Vala snapped her gaze away from the only guy who ever said – or technically thought – anything so sweet about her. She turned to the face of a girl with lovely and smooth caramel coloured skin, dark chocolate eyes and thick shiny curls.
Her mind was free and clear, no impressions in her memories to make them false and none were missing.
“Yes, guilty as charged.” Vala shared in her grin.
“I’m Maya,” the girl offered. “Jasper, born and bred.”
Sticking to the cover story Marius worked out, she replied, “Vala. We moved from out east. Halifax area.”
Maya continued chatting away as if they’d been friends all their lives. However, Vala couldn’t concentrate, due to the fact that a pair of eyes kept staring at her. Burning a hole in her head. As if attempting to bend her to their will. To make her turn around and acknowledge the guy they belonged to.
Vala held strong and kept her gaze on the teacher at the front of the class. No matter how much she wished to turn and look into his eyes. No matter how much she wanted to explore the contours of his face with her fingertips.
Why did she care so much? She didn’t know him. Didn’t know anything about him. So the guy had looks. Made her chest feel tight whenever he walked into the room. Filled her thoughts more often than he should. Nothing could happen.
That’s just the way things were.
He wasn’t for her just as much as he knew she wasn’t for him. The reasons may be so far from what he assumed but the end result still kept him safe.
© 2013 Ellie Carstens. No part of this work can be used without the consent of the author.