The Long Retreat No. 90

Again, Sif looked between her new parents. Both wore thoughtful expressions, but said nothing. For another few minutes, nothing happened. Sif rolled her eyes. Looks like it came down to her, yet again. She trotted forward until she walked next to Falthejn. He looked over at her with a halfhearted smile, then returned to his thoughts.

“I forgive you,” Sif said.

That got the diviner’s attention. His mouth worked for a moment before he managed, “Why?”

Sif swatted him on the arm. “Because it isn’t all about you. You left because you wanted to keep us safe, right?” Falthejn nodded, and Sif went on. “That was dumb.”

“Is this supposed to make me feel better?” Falthejn said, one eyebrow raised. He looked genuinely befuddled.

Sif more or less ignored him, barreling onward. “You should have told us what you were doing. We trust you enough to listen to you.” She took a breath and felt Alfhilde and Hrothgar watching. She bit her lip for a heartbeat or two, then found her place. “You made a mistake, but you were trying to do the right thing for us. The problem is, you think you need to be perfect, because other diviners are bad people. You’re just going to let yourself down. You don’t have to make up for the things they do. Just be the best man you can be, and that’s enough.”

Falthejn blinked. “You mean that.”

Sif swatted his arm again. “Of course. I would have liked it if you were with us on the road today. It makes me feel safe. But, it’s in the past now, and maybe we would have died if you had stayed with us. Everything turned out okay.”

“She’s right,” Alfhilde said reluctantly. Falthejn looked over his shoulder. Alfhilde looked away, then met his eyes. “Speaking for me, I can’t be angry with you forever, no matter how bad a decision you made.” She locked eyes with Sif. “May as well get over it now.”

Hrothgar grunted something noncommittal, and Sif watched the tension flow out of Falthejn’s shoulders. He shook his head. “You’re better people than me, at any rate.”

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