Some of the others stayed at the poles in the hopes of roping in a spotter. Sif gently disentangled herself from her friends, assuring them that she would be fine. She caught Gyr Didriksson looking her way, with a pained expression on his face. She nodded, hoping it said that she appreciated the concern. He looked away.
Sif wandered the grounds for a while. It occurred to her that she hadn’t been home in two weeks or so. Alfhilde always knew what to say, and she could almost feel Hrothgar’s hand on her shoulder and his sympathetic look. It ached.
She realized she was homesick, and the giddiness of that thought all but swept away the feeling. You couldn’t be homesick without a home to be sick over. She resolved to go back soon.
Today would have been nice, if she was honest with herself. It did sting to be rebuked in front of everyone, and on any other day she probably would have gone home for a night or two, where she could sit by the fire, talk, and laugh. For her, at least, that was the real allure of home. Her family didn’t need anything from her. They had no demands, no expectations, beyond that she merely be herself.
She sighed. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the way her evening was going to go. She had to talk to Herre Leifsson, uncomfortable as it was going to be, and there was no way she could go home and make it back before the end of the day, especially not with her bruises protesting a little more with every step.
Her wandering took her to section of the outer wall directly across from the main door into the tower. She turned that way.
The spiral staircase was always a little annoying, the risers too far apart to take each one with one pace, but too close together to fit two paces each. It was doubly difficult today. The murmur of quiet conversation and the crackle of the bonfire on the hearth were welcome sounds. A moment later, she emerged into the great room. She’d been alone with her thoughts for longer than she realized. Nearly every seat was taken, and servants rushed back and forth with plates for the evening meal.
She sighted Ansgar Leifsson sitting in the corner formed by the ramp up and the tower’s outer wall, and strode purposefully toward him.