A Suitor and a Stranger

Arriving at the village square, filled with different horses and carts and people milling around, Linnea hopped off her horse and guided her to a larger cart piled high with blocks of ice, pulled by a couple of strong horses. 

"Morning, Halden," Linnea greeted the large, built man by the cart of ice.

"Morning Linnea! How's the fair maiden doing today?"

"Oh, I'm fine."

"Surviving well without your father?"

"Yes, it's been a week since he left for war, but he goes every spring. You know how it is with the King's army. How's your family, Halden?"

"Same as usual. The runt's just too loud for his own good."

Linnea smiled.

"Of course. Now, would you mind if I had a block of that ice for the regular payment?"

"Some of that milk would be nice, yes," Halden chuckled as he hauled a block of ice into the ice box that rested on Linnea's cart. Linnea scooped out some of the milk into a jar and placed it on the side, lifting a bucket of milk off her cart and placing it beside the piles of ice.

"Would you mind passing on the rest of my load to Matthias for me? He typically takes the eggs and the rest of the milk to the town market for me, but he's always late and I just want to get back home to check on Tino."

"Oh, of course. Don't you want to see him though?" Halden asked as he helped load the rest of the milk off her cart, and Linnea set aside some of the eggs into an extra basket. 

"Nope," Linnea replied, flipping her hair as she set the basket of eggs down onto Halden's cart, hitting a man behind her with her long hair, "I'd really rather not."

With that she waved at Halden and turned back to her horse, cantering off home.
Halden turned to the man holding his face, wincing at the pain of having hair slapped into it. 

"Matthias, I really don't think you're going to get anywhere with her."

"Aw come on," Matthias pouted, "Be more encouraging!"

"Whining makes you look pathetic, Mathias, and that face isn't manly at all."

"I'm totally manly! She's just too shy to admit she's head over heels for me." Mathias replied, putting his hands on his hips and standing up tall. It was true, he was taller than Halden and he had a handsome face with a broad chin and bright eyes. 

"Your childish attitude ruins your entire appearance."

"None of you guys know how to have fun! Lighten up a bit!" Matthias poked Halden at his side, making the older man send him a tired look.

"I've been working all night. I'm going home. Take the things that Linnea left for you to take to the market. And this time, for the love of Freya, don't make her kiss you before you give her the money she earned. You'll just get hurt again."

"Hey, I just didn't expect her to kick me okay?"

"Would you stop talking? Just take the stuff and go."

"Oh fine, you're no fun," Matthias pouted again as he easily lifted the milk and eggs off the man's cart. He watched as Halden went off to speak to another person and quickly lifted his satchel and unbuckled a horse from the cart, riding it home. He then brightened up and ran over to the man now in charge of selling Halden's ice and decided that he had a drinking partner tonight.


Linnea stretched as she led the livestock back into the stable. Yawning, Linnea closed the stable doors and trudged back to the house, beginning a fire to make lunch. Hearing the door open, Linnea greeted her brother.

"Hey Tino, we have a bit of cheese and rye bread left over, mind taking it out while I boil the eggs?"

"Excuse me."

Linnea whipped around to see a stranger in her house. A young man stood at the doorway, his blond hair bright from the reflecting light of the sun but his dull indigo eyes and calm face displayed no emotion. Linnea was taken aback by the beauty that contrasted his low voice. 

"O-oh, sorry. How may I help you?"

"Is this the healer, Bjoren's place?"

"Uh, no. He lives near the village square, near Berwald's home. Was there an injury?"

"No. Just checking. Thank you," The stranger made to close the door, but Linnea rushed over.

"W-wait. Did you need help with something? I do have a bit of healing experience if someone is sick."
The stranger turned his head and looked at her with a bored expression.

"I suppose you're the other apprentice then. See you," he said, nodding toward her politely and closing the door behind him. Linnea stood for a while, still slightly stunned. Never had she seen such a... pretty... man. 

"Linnea? You seem sick," Tino's voice rang out. Snapping out of her reverie, she turned around with surprise.

"You're home Tino? When did you get back?"

"I got home maybe half an hour ago, I was napping and just woke up."

"Oh, alright, m-mind helping me make lunch?"

Tino shot her a confused look but nodded and approached the cupboard. Linnea sighed and shook her head, turning back to the crackling fire.

The End

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