A Nordic King

Chapter 18


I look back down the hall toward Aksel’s, but aside from the girls’ giggling, there are no other sounds, no one else around.

I sigh and make my way to their door, knocking quietly. “Girls. What’s going on?”

I hear them both shushing each other, then something falling over, and then a door slamming.

“Clara, Freja,” I hiss. “I’m coming in there.”

I open the door expecting to see that their room has imploded or is perhaps on fire, but instead both girls are standing in the middle of the room in their nightgowns, smiling at me.

Something is so wrong.

“What’s going on? I heard a noise.” I look around suspiciously. The room is messy but no more so than usual.

“Nothing. Go back to bed,” Clara says.

I frown and step inside, shutting the door behind me. I fold my arms. “What’s going on?” I say again. Suddenly there’s that squeal again, followed by a snort. I jump and look around me wildly.

“What was that?” I cry out, hand to my chest. It sounded like a demon creature.

“Don’t worry, it’s just Snarf Snarf,” Freja says.

I stare at her with wide eyes. “What the hell is a Snarf Snarf?”

Is it Danish for Demon Creature?

“Don’t swear,” Clara chides me.

There’s no time to watch my mouth. “Freja, what is Snarf Snarf?”

Suddenly the door to their closet starts to rattle with a thud and there’s another high-pitched squeal.

“Oh my god,” I say. “Oh my god, what is that? What’s in your closet?”

Please don’t say it’s a demon creature.

“Snarf Snarf,” Freja repeats herself, exasperated, and she runs over to the closet to open the door.

For a second I can’t see anything and then a fucking PIG starts running out of the closet and booking it straight for me, squealing wildly as it goes.

“Oh my god!” I yelp, jumping. “It’s a pig!”

Freja laughs and tries to catch it, but the pig darts straight between me and Clara, zipping to the other side of the room like he’s running laps.

“How is there a pig? Where did you get a pig? Why is there a pig?” I cry out as the pig comes back toward us, it’s little pink legs moving in a rapid blur. “Ahhhhh!”

Freja lunges for it again and face-plants into the carpet, then picks herself up and runs after it, grinning like a lunatic as she goes. Since she’s no help, I grab Clara and make her pay attention to me.

“Clara. Tell me. Why is there a pig here and where did it come from?”

She grins at me. “I’ve always wanted a pig. You know this. We got it from the farm.”

“Clara! You’re in big, big trouble!” I turn to look at Freja as she chases the pig under her bed. “You’re in trouble too! You can’t steal a pig!”

“We didn’t steal Snarf Snarf!” Freja yells back, her voice muffled as she’s now halfway under the bed with only her legs sticking out.

“Yeah, the farmer gave him to us,” Clara says, putting her hands on her hips. “He said it was a gift to the princesses of his fair country.”

“Oh, he did not say that.”

“He did too! He wanted us to have Snarf Snarf. He said he’ll always stay this size. They’re called teacup pigs.”

“There’s no such thing. He’s already bigger than a teacup and they all grow bigger, much bigger than this. Clara, Freja, you know that you can’t keep him.”

“Yes we can!” Clara yells, running over to Freja and joining her under the bed. “Come on Snarf Snarf, we’re your friends, we’ll protect you from her.”

“From me?” I exclaim. “It’s your father you have to worry about.”

There’s another squeal and then the girls yell and the pig manages to squeeze between them and goes back to running around the room. I put my head in my hands and sigh. For crying out loud. “I don’t even know how your father’s not hearing this right now,” I mumble.

“He’s drunk,” Clara says matter-of-factly. I look at her in surprise as she extricates herself from under the bed and straightens out her nightgown.


She nods. “He was acting weird at dinner and I heard Maja tell him he was drunk and he should go to his room. It was kind of funny, it was like he was in trouble.”

“Does this happen often?” I ask, not wanting to pry but also … wanting to pry.

She shrugs. “Sometimes. Don’t worry, he’ll let us keep Snarf Snarf.”

I watch as Freja continues to run around the room. I know Aksel says he’ll do anything for them but I’m pretty sure this is drawing the line. First they become vegetarians, then they guilt a farmer into giving them a pig. Pretty sure I’m going to get the blame for this.

Unfortunately, if Aksel is drunk, then he’s sleeping right now, and even if I woke him, I don’t want to deal with a drunk king and a pig situation. I have to wonder though, what he’d even be like if he was drunk. I have a hard time imagining him unbuttoned and unhinged in any way.

No, I’m sure he’s just a mean drunk since he’s a fairly mean person in general. Best I stay away from that scenario.

Which means, of course, that we’re going to have to deal with Snarf Snarf until the morning.

God, I’m already calling the pig by its name.

“Okay, well you girls can’t sleep if there’s a pig in your room,” I tell them. “Maybe we can put him in the bathroom, that way if he makes a mess, it’s easy to clean up.”

“He’s already had a huge crap in the closet,” Clara says helpfully, and I have to bite my lip to keep from laughing. It’s not funny because I know someone has to clean it up but it’s still a hell of a sentence.

“Okay, well,” I say, trying not to giggle still. “Come on. Let’s try and herd him into your bathroom. Then I’ll get some water for him.”

“And some stuffed animals to cuddle,” Freja says as she zooms past us on Snarf Snarf’s trail.

“Sure. And then you girls sleep in my room with me, okay? That way I don’t have to worry about you.”

“Really?” Clara asks. “Is there room?”

“It’s a big bed,” I tell them. “Now come on, let’s work as a team.”

It ends up taking us about half an hour to actually herd Snarf Snarf into the bathroom, then I ask Clara to run down to the kitchen to get a bowl for him that we can fill with water. There’s no way I’m leaving those two up here alone, they’d probably let him back out in a hot minute.

As per Freja’s request, I also put in her teddy bear (which I’m sure will never be the same come morning) and some towels in case the pig wants to sleep.

I have to admit, the pig is incredibly cute. It’s about the size of a puppy and a smooth, pale pink, with deep curious eyes. Except I also know pigs are smart and so the curiosity in his eyes will turn to mayhem pretty quickly.

“How did you even get the pig in the house without me noticing?” I ask them after I’ve closed the door on the snorting Snarf Snarf.

“We smuggled him in my backpack,” Clara says cheerfully. “The farmer said he’ll go to sleep if he’s in a small, dark place. That’s why we put him in the closet.”

“We only opened the door once to say hi and that’s when he escaped,” Freja explains.

“Initially,” Clara says, and I’m pretty sure it’s the first time she’s used this word in English.

I shake my head as I lead them over to my room. The fact that I didn’t notice a fucking pig in the car with us means I’ve reached a new low in my nanny skills.

Maybe if you hadn’t been daydreaming about their father, that annoying voice in my head pipes up.

I ignore it. It’s wrong. I wasn’t daydreaming, I was just … thinking. And it doesn’t matter about what.

“All right girls, it’s past midnight now so we’re going straight to sleep, okay?” I tell them as I pull back the covers and get in.

They crawl in next to me on either side. “Tell us a story,” Clara says.

“About a pig named Snarf Snarf,” Freja adds.

Oh brother.

I take in a deep breath and start telling them about a mischievous royal pig named Snarf Snarf who stole the king’s crown. By the time I get a few minutes into it, the girls are cuddled into me, fast asleep.

Despite the day I’ve had, and the fact that I’m going to be in so much trouble tomorrow, the sight of them sleeping next to me puts a peaceful feeling in my heart. I think I fall asleep with a smile on my face.

I wake up with a start to loud pounding on the door.

I immediately sit up and then remember Clara and Freja are on either side of me.

“What is it?” Clara asks through a yawn and squints at the morning sun already coming in through the curtains. We must have slept in, even for a Sunday.

“Aurora!” Aksel’s voice booms from the other side of the door as he knocks on it again. “I need to speak with you. Now.”

“He’s found Snarf Snarf,” Freja says quietly, fear in her eyes as she climbs out of bed. As much as the girls said he’ll let them have their way, I think they also know that having a pet pig isn’t meant to be.

“Just a minute!” I call out, getting out of bed alongside the girls. I pull on my robe and give them both a pained look. “This is it, girls. Say goodbye to Snarf Snarf.”

I go over to the door and open it.

Aksel’s eyes are like sharpened ice as he stares at me, a cold rage building behind them. Then he sees the girls on either side of me, and his expression instantly changes to one of confusion. “Why are you girls in here?”

“We slept with Aurora last night,” Clara says.

“Why?” He glances at me, the line deepening between his brows.

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