(When last we left our repeat offenders, Bragi, god of poetry had just arrived to spring Amalia from her hand-cuffed chair, and Z still had no idea what he was really getting himself into.)
“Thorskona!” Bragi smiled and clasped my newly freed hand in both of his as the police officer tucked the handcuffs back into his belt. “Safe mayst thou go, safe come again, and safe be the way thou wendest!”
“Ah, thank you, Bragi.” Gods of poetry never said one word when they could confuse you with five or ten instead. For Bragi, this was a positively forthright way of telling me I was free to go, finally and at last. I’d only been sitting around waiting for the last nine hours. “And it’s Amalia. My name, I mean.”
He beamed beneath his long, neatly braided beard. “The Allfather himself has five hundred forty names, if you only provide me with one, I must improvise where I may, but believe me, my dear, when I say, as surely as Skinfaxi brings daylight with him across the sky, you are Thorskona, Thorsvíf, Thorskván, Thors–”
“You can stop right there and back it up. I’m no one’s víf, and I’m absolutely not his kván.”
Bragi gave a dismissive flick of his fingers. “Better than being known as Thorsthrall or Thorsambátt, is it not?”
“No,” I said, all but grinding my teeth on the word. My knowledge of Old Norse and modern Icelandic was pretty basic and mostly curses I picked up from Thor, but one thing I did know, being considered Thor’s servant was a lot better for my health than being considered his wife. “It isn’t better. And if you’re saying these things in Asgard –”
“My brother Bragi is not foolish enough to risk the wrath of Sif, even for the perfect kennings,” Thor said, though how long he’d been listening, I wasn’t sure. He’d been talking to one of the other officers still when Bragi had greeted me. Thor placed one overlarge hand on my shoulder, squeezing gently. “You needn’t worry on that account.”
But I did worry. Thunder gods were fun to have around, and even better to have at your back in a fight, but relationships with any kind of god were a different kettle of fish. I rubbed my wrist. If Bragi had numbered my days with his kennings, I definitely didn’t want to spend any more time in the police station.
“Um,” Z said from where he still sat handcuffed. “What exactly does kvown mean?”
“Nothing,” I said, glaring at Bragi. “It doesn’t mean anything.”
“Ah!” Bragi said, smiling at Z. “Wise shall he seem who well can question, and also answer well. It is a word for a woman of hearth and home, hand-fasted and brought to bed, but Thorskona might better be considered Thor’s kvánarefni, his future wife, for they have not yet wed.” Thunder was beginning to rumble, but Bragi was ignoring it, along with his brother’s glower, and my furious blush. “The happy day will come as sure as Hrimfaxi brings night. Who is the man who speaks to me in this drafty hall, and wouldst he know more?”
Z just stared. It was a common problem when dealing with Bragi, really. By the time a god of poetry finished speaking, most people didn’t remember where they’d started. Hopefully Z was one of those people, because the last thing I needed was word getting around that I was Thor’s bride-to-be. When it comes to gods and monsters, the best solution is ALWAYS to draw the line at friendship, and it is never more important to stand firm than when the god or monster’s ex-wife happens to be a goddess of beauty, known for her affairs with a Trickster.
“Well, I guess we’d better get going then,” I said. Thor’s fist closed in the material of Bragi’s jacket. “Great to see you again, Z.”
“But –” Bragi began, and Thor clamped a hand over his mouth, muscling him toward the door.
“I think he’s had enough of your wisdom for one day, brother.”
“Good luck with the Satyr business.” I forced a smile and all but shoved Bragi and Thor both out the door.
Of course it was raining outside. I sighed. Thunder gods tend to forget that not everyone is immune to precipitation, and I’d left my coat at home.
“That could have gone better,” Thor said, striking out into the downpour without the slightest hesitation.
To think I used to worry about running into zombies and frost giants on the bus. Taking Bragi out in public was so, so much worse.