“It’s a great privilege to meet you again, Ragnar Lothbrok.”
Alfred, Caridwen, Labhraín, and Liusaidh all stood nearby each other as Judith introduced her son to the great Viking king.
“Not every Saxon would agree.” The man was bald, bearded, heavily tattooed, and wearing what seemed like rags. He was barefoot. Caridwen didn’t think he looked very kingly at all this way. Judith’s hand guided her son’s back and Ragnar stood up, walking to get a closer look at the future king of Wessex.
“I’m not every Saxon.” Judith and her son shared a look that was lost on the princesses, the King, and the Viking. He walked forward and stood just before Ragnar. “This is my son, Alfred. He is the son— ”
“I know,” Ragnar interrupted. He seemed distracted and turned to look back and King Ecbert. “Without explanation.” Ecbert smiled and Ragnar turned around, walking right up to the young prince. It was then that the girls noticed the shackles on his hands. Liusaidh nudged Labhraín and gestured in the direction of his arms; the young sisters shared a confused look before returning their attention to the interaction in front of them. “You are Aethelstan’s son,” he smiled. In a moment of emotional rawness, Ragnar brought the boy to him in an embrace. The girls didn’t know who Aethelstan was; but clearly he meant a lot to Ragnar for him to hug the man’s son upon meeting him for the first time. Ragnar gave a breathy laugh, as if he had suddenly been brought to peace, and smiled warmly at the young boy. “You look just like your father,” he told Alfred.
“People who knew him say that a lot,” he responded, and both cracked a smile. He returned to his mother’s side.
Ragnar turned his attention to the princesses. “I’m very sorry; excuse my manners. I am not a proper Englishman,” he joked, and the girls received it well. “Who are the young ladies?”