✧Winter, When The Snow Had Finally Stopped✧
The gentle firelight was just enough to keep the room from being too dark. It was nearly the first light of day when then faint sound of the door opening and closing filled the silent room.
Bjorn moved with the utmost caution, making as little noise as possible as he approached the bed where Erna lay sleeping. She looked so peaceful and he was overcome with relief.
“Ah, your Highness,” a nurse said, startled by the sudden appearance of the Prince. Bjorn quickly raised a finger to his lips and hissed.
“Please, be quiet, go and get some rest,” he said.
“No buts, I will look after her.” With a reassuring smile directed at the roused nurse, Bjorn sat in a chair next to Erna’s bed.
As the nurse left, a tranquil silence embraced the room once more. Bjorn watched his slumbering wife, who had carried herself like a saint, hiding her own injuries and looking after others first, it was a real, quintessential Erna-like quality.
Bjorn gently brushed the hair from Erna’s cheek, revealing the bandaging that covered several lacerations on her face. The doctors told him that they would not scar too badly, but the cuts on her arms and on her back, where glass shards had embedded themselves, needed stitching. Through the whole ordeal, Erna just smiled, even when she went ghostly pale and broke out into a cold sweat.
I’m fine. Erna kept repeating, a mantra that bothered Bjorn’s nerves.
He did his best not to show it, taking from Erna’s example. He didn’t want to get Erna upset. He felt like he could understand some of Erna’s past behaviour, pretending things were okay when they weren’t.
“Bjorn…?” a sleepy voice rose.
Bjorn roused, not realising he had drifted off. When their eyes met, Erna gave a sleepy smile. Bjorn looked at her with a distant gaze, as she sat herself up to face him properly, they both emanated a soft, hazy glow projected from the fireplace.
“Are you okay?” Erna said, casting a concerned look at Bjorn. His face was covered in plasters and his hands were wrapped up tight. To find his wife, he had spent the entire night searching the train following the accident
“As you can see, I am fine.”
Feeling a twinge of embarrassment, Erna looked away to the fireplace. She wondered what to say, but found herself fixating on the moment Bjorn had whispered into her ear, ‘I love you, Erna.’ Just as the awkwardness settled in, Bjorn stood up and Erna instinctively looked up at him.
“Rest, Erna,” Bjorn said with a smile. Just like the man before, kind and heartless.
“Bjorn, don’t go,” Erna said as she watched his back head toward the door. Bjorn looked over his shoulder, surprise on his face. “Stay with me.”
“I want to try again, you are still my husband.” Even with her blushing cheeks, Erna spoke confidently. “Also, you said you loved me.” Her voice wavered at the last.
Bjorn stared at Erna and sighed softly. He turned around and went back to the chair. Love, she used the words like a bit and bridle, pulling on his reins to draw him in. But he didn’t hate it. Erna shuffled over on the narrow bed and Bjorn let out a laugh.
“Do you really mean to offer me your expensive bed?” Bjorn laughed as he looked at Erna.
“This bed is not mine,” Erna said calmly, not averting her gaze.
Bjorn accepted the playful, yet endearing invitation and sat next to Erna on the bed. The familiar scent of her, unchanged from his memories, tickled his nose. He was more than willing to lay down next to his beloved wife and rest.
The distance between them gradually grew narrower. Bjorn took the initiative and inched himself closer. Their fingertips brushed, their shoulders made contact and even as they lay facing each other, their eyes locked and was filled with each other.
Bjorn carefully held his wife in his arms, like she was a timid beast that threatened to run at the slightest discomfort. She surrender herself willingly and relaxed into his arms.
“Have you slept since yesterday?” Erna whispered.
“No,” Bjorn said, opening his eyes to look at Erna.
They lay in the bed, looking at each other for a long while.
“Bjorn…our child didn’t leave because of you.”
Bjorn’s fingers was enjoying the feel of Erna’s soft brown hair and stopped when she spoke.
“I hadn’t been feeling well for a few days. The doctor had made a few visits. I hoped everything was okay, but I felt like the child was already leaving.” Bjorn continued to look at Erna calmly as she talked. “That night, I could have rejected you, but I didn’t want to.”
“That night we slept together, in the same bed, with our baby nestled between us, you held me as we slept, just like this. I believe our baby found comfort in your embrace. Every night before, I was in constant agony, but not on that night. I was able to sleep. I sometimes wonder if our baby was waiting for you, to bid farewell to her father one last time.”
Erna smiled and stroked Bjorn’s stoic face.
“I will remember my baby from that night I slept soundly in your arms. I hope you do to.” Erna said the words she had been wanting to say for so long. Bjorn stared at her blankly and Erna let out a burst of laughter.
“You know, you’ve revealed your most advantageous hand,” Bjorn said, his eyes were slightly red.
“No, I think you misunderstand something,” Erna said, shaking her head. “I still keep my cards close to my chest.”
“Well, what gambler in the whole world would reveal their hand?” Erna wore a bright smile on her face.
As the laughter subsided, the two looked at each other. Memory after that as vague, like a distant dream. No matter who said it first, they hugged each other and kissed. It was a careful kiss, just like their first time.
They kissed again and again, they continued kissing until the heat in their passion was kindled and their kissing deepened.
“Bjorn, I love you,” Erna said, her red lips wet..
“I know,” Bjorn said as he came to her with another kiss.
Still he couldn’t help but be arrogant. It was a bit sarcastic and Erna chose to understand, because he was a really good kisser.
Baroness Baden walked the long hallway of the hospital. It was rather unladylike, but it didn’t matter to her when it came to the life of her one and only Granddaughter.
She had received news of the accident yesterday afternoon and thankfully, it also came with news that Erna was safe. If the Baroness had only heard of the accident, her poor, senile heart would have given out there and then.
“His Highness, the Grand Duke, is also there, Baroness,” the attendant from Schuber Palace informed her, as he guided the Baroness to where Erna was resting.
The Baroness burst into the room, along with Mrs Greve’s. She knew she shouldn’t have attempted to scare Erna like that, but emotion and tears blinded her.
“Erna, my sweetheart,” the Baroness bellowed out through sobs.
The Baroness was taken aback when she did not see her Granddaughter in the bed, had the attendant gotten it wrong? This was not Erna’s room, but Prince Bjorn’s. Just as the Baroness was about to beat a retreat to save her embarrassment, Bjorn looked over at the Baroness and she could see Erna snuggled deep into his arms, asleep.
“Oh my god,” The Baroness said as she backed away.
She covered her mouth with a handkerchief, her face like she had seen the very pits of hell and the Baroness hurried away from the ghastly sight. Mrs Greve, who gasped when she saw what was going on, made the sign of the cross and chased after the Baroness.
When the door closed, the room fell back into silence, save Erna’s heavy, sleepy breathing. Divorce was a thing of the past. The Grand Duke and his wife slept soundly in the hospital bed. A thin bar of sunlight poured into the room through a gap in the curtains and illuminated the two who seemed like statues on the bed.
It was noon on a sunny late winter day, when the snow had finally stopped.