“Time for bed, Morag!” Astrid shouted to be heard above the noise of her seven year old daughter’s giggles and her husband’s feigned roars.
“Morag! Did you hear me? Bedtime!”
“No! Mama! Five more minutes!” her energetic daughter protested.
“Five more minutes,” boomed Olaf, between the growls of the monster he was portraying, “and then, you must do as your mother says. It is bedtime.”
“I don’t want to go to bed!”
“Of course you don’t.” Astrid muttered to herself as she gave Olaf her too-often-used ‘you deal with this’ face and backed out of the room.
“Come on,” whispered Olaf as he prowled toward Morag, who was crouched behind a lavish vase, “if you’re good and come to bed without protest, I’ll tell you another saga.”
He pounced forward and scooped Morag up in one smooth move.
She wriggled in his arms but relented, happy with the game.
“But Daddy,” she giggled, as he bounced her deliberately, “I’ve heard all of your sagas now!”
“Heard all my sagas?!” exclaimed Olaf.
“You most definitely have not heard all of my sagas! Come on. To bed with you, my little shield maiden!”
“Oh, you’ve heard that one, have you?” teased Olaf, as he listed the names of warriors and their previously unknown sagas.
“Yes!” screamed Morag, “I told you! I’ve heard all of your sagas!”
“Hmmm. There’s only one thing for this then,” said Olaf. “I’ll have to tell you one of the grown up sagas.”
“The grown up sagas?” repeated Morag, skeptically, “There’s no such thing.”
“Mummy, did you hear this? Our little shield maiden doesn’t believe that there are grown up sagas we haven’t told her!”
Astrid crept over to the bed, and with a conspiratorial whisper responded “That’s because she’s not grown up enough to believe us.”
“I am! I am grown up!”
“I’m not so sure,” replied Olaf, “grown up girls don’t need to be told to go to bed.”
“That’s true,” agreed Astrid, “and grown up girls don’t need to tell us they’re grown up.”
“I…” Morag stopped her own protest, realising she was backed into a corner. “I’m going to tell my own saga tonight. I don’t need you to tell me one. I’m a grown up.”
Her parents looked at each other with the slightest glimpse of amusement at the corners of their mouths.
They turned back to Morag, expectantly.
She looked back at them, blankly.
“What?” she asked.
“We’re waiting for the saga.” answered Olaf enthusiastically.
“No!” she exclaimed. “I’m telling it to myself. You can go and tell your own sagas to you.”
Her parents sat there for a beat, attempting to hide their need to laugh with a look of offended shock.
Astrid couldn’t hold it much longer.
She leaned down to kiss Morag on the forehead, her body shuddering a little as it tried to contain her giggles.
“Goodnight… my… darling!” she choked out, then exited, quickly.
Olaf followed suit, giving Morag a quick kiss and then following his wife out.
The two parents stood in the doorway, holding each other for support as they tried to regain their composure and breath and heard a quiet voice from within Morag’s room.
Olaf quietened Astrid and they leaned forward, straining to hear.
“Once upon a time,” began Morag “there was a grown up shield maiden called Morag the Grown Up and she was ready for all the secret sagas.”
“She’s almost ready.” Astrid told Olaf as her eyes glistened, partly due to laughing so hard and partly due to the overwhelming feeling of sentimentality that had suddenly taken hold of her.
“Will she be ok?”
“She’s strong,” Olaf assured his wife, “And we have prepared her as best we can. She is a warrior. She’ll be ready.”
They headed toward the heated hearth of their home as Morag continued to tell herself a bedtime saga.