✧You Will Be Defeated✧
The Prince had thrown down the gauntlet, it was the only explanation as to why he came out into the snow and started rolling out a ball.
The man, with such laudy and grand titles, First Prince of Lechen, the Grand Duke and one, the Crown Prince, none of that mattered now as Lisa and Erna watched in amazement has he started to build a snowman.
His attendant looked equally bewildered, circling around the Prince, offering what help he could, though he had no idea what he was doing and looked as if the sky and ground had been reversed.
“Hey, your Highness,” Lisa said to Erna, she understood what was going on.
Erna hadn’t stopped watching the Prince with a sceptical expression, finally turned her attention back to building a snowman. Lisa felt relieved as they continued building. Erna tentatively and very deliberately placed flowers on the snowman, as Lisa tied a ribbon around its neck.
“There we go, this snowman is for you, your Highness,” Lisa said.
The shapely snowman was as beautiful as Erna. Erna looked at the snowman with warmth and clapped her hands together. The laughter was as clear as the cloudless blue sky.
The sound of it made Bjorn stop what he was doing and he turned to look at Erna. Her pale complexion and dark eyes was still cause for concern, but seeing her smile brought him some relief.
She had cried herself to exhaustion last night, until there were no more tears to shed. He had embraced her in that moment, offered what comfort he could, but once her crying was done, she pushed him away firmly and distanced herself once more.
“Your Highness, its…” the attendant stuttered.
Bjorn was busy with his own snowball. It was an appropriate size for a snowman’s lower portion, but it was lacking something, the ball of snow did not meet the Princes strict scrutiny.
“We need to make more of an effort,” Bjorn said, gesturing to the pristine snow covered field before them. “Don’t you think?”
Bjorn continued rolling the giant snowball, closely followed by the attendant, who was muttering and murmuring the whole time. His chirrups chorused by those of the birds in the trees.
By the time Bjorn was done rolling out the snowman, it was huge. Really huge.
Erna watched from beside their snowman as the Prince showed no signs of stopping, until the ball was of ridiculous proportions. If likened to a house, her snowman, standing next to his creation, reaching no higher than a chimney’s height.
When he was finished constructing his snowman, it dwarfed Erna and Lisa’s attempt. It was hard to believe that Bjorn was actually able to make a full snowman to the size he had, with nothing but his attendant for aid. It hurt to admit it, but the Prince was really good at making snowmen.
“I think it would be perfect, if only it had my emblem,” Bjorn said, stepping back and admiring his work.
Bjorn used his hands to work at the snow of the snowman’s belly. Carefully and precisely carving out the Royal Crest as best he could. Despite it just being a snowman, he felt compelled to finish what he had started with absolute perfection.
Meanwhile, the attendant had run off into the house and by the time he returned, Bjorn was admiring his work, and the attendant held out a victory cigar for him.
Why the hell did he bring that thing out here? Bjorn thought.
As he considered the attendants future, he caught the sound of soft laughter and his eyes met Erna’s. While there was a stiffness to her when they looked at each other, her lips turned to a smile, rather than a scowl and Bjorn returned the smile.
He took the cigar from the attendant and placed it in the mouth of the snowman, now finished with the crest of the Dniesters.
“This is me and that is you,” Bjorn said, pointing to each snowman. Erna examined the snowman with the cigar and the one with all the flowers.
“Why did you make it that big?” Erna said.
“Because I am big.”
“I think it would be scary at night.”
“If you’re scared, I can comfort you.”
“No.” Erna snapped with a serious expression on her face, her cheeks flushed and looking beautiful.
Bjorn looked at his lovely wife, his eyes squinting against the bright sunlight reflecting off the snow. As he recalled the absurd things he had done yesterday, just to see that face, he burst into laughter.
When he arrived at his final destination and planned to stay there for the night, there seemed to be no reason for him to go to Buford if the weather made travel impossible.
However, as the train’s horn began to resonate, an inexplicable emotion surged within him. It was an irrational impulse pushing him to turn back. Bjorn turned around and quickly crossed the platform, boarding the moving train, against the expected behavior of a prince of Lechen.
In that moment, his decision was solely driven by his unwavering devotion to Erna. Bjorn Dniester, after all, was simply a man devoted to that woman.
Everything about Erna was in a constant state of flux that made it hard for him to predict her. It left him constantly confused, but one thing was clear, he was a delightful mess.
Mrs Fitz had advised him to go to Buford and win back what he desired, like a Dniester, but when it came to Erna, it felt more like a game with no odds and he knew he could be defeated at any moment.
He loved the thrill of it, playing a game where he couldn’t tell what the winning hand was, he didn’t want to stop. He played willingly because victory was not his chief concern any more.
Letting out a sigh of resignation, Bjorn looked up at the sky. Erna had revealed her heart and now it was his turn. It was overwhelming and fearful, but he no longer wanted to avoid it.
Bjorn bent down and picked up a handful of snow, forming it into another ball.
“What are you making now?” Erna asked.
“Baby Dniester,” Bjorn said after a moments consideration, then went back to making the tiny snowman. “Our child.” He said.
Erna was at a loss for words and chewed on his short reply several times, not understanding what he was doing, or why.
Why? Why now?
Erna blinked and slowly approached Bjorn, who was engrossed in making the small snowman. As Lisa and the attendant watched them decided to excuse themselves quietly, so that only Erna and Bjorn remained in the snow together.
“Why are you like this?” Erna said, “why are you doing this for a child you had no interest in?”
Erna could feel the venom of anger on her words and she felt a surge of emotion. She had opened her heart to Bjorn, but was regretting it now. She felt a mix of shame in with the anger, as if he had invaded her most intimate feelings and rummaged about.
“Are you even pitying me for my foolishness? Otherwise…”
“The news of our pregnancy made me happy too,” Bjorn said, as he completed the body. “How could I not be, Erna? It was our child.”
Erna looked at him with a bewilderment, not saying anything, but mouth moving and trembling.
“I thought it would protect you from the harm caused by your father and no one would dare drive away my wife, the mother of my child. Even from the womb, the child fulfilled it role. It possesses the bravery of a Dniester.”
Bjorn smiled and sighed, and once again bent down to build another snowman. Despite his hands turning red from the cold, he barely seemed to acknowledge his cold fingers.
“I admit that I didn’t prioritise the child as much as I should have, but you were always the first thought on my mind, so I focused on what I needed to do to protect you. It consumed me so much that everything else, even if he is my son, I will put him in the secondary position.”
As the quiet conversation continued, a baby snowman was completed. Bjorn rummaged through the basket Lisa had brought out with her, searching for a suitable flower. He found a delicate snowdrop. The same flower that blossomed in abundance in the forests when they visited last year.
The image of Erna on that beautiful spring day, standing amongst the small flowers came to Bjorn’s mind. Their child, conceived on that beautiful day, would have blossomed into a charming lady, much like her mother, had she been born safely into this world.
“Our daughter would have been as lovely as you.”