Both were awoken in the morning by loud shouts in the castle. Apparently, the bride wasn't in her bed. Guillaume was quicker to react, he woke Geirlaug up and she looked at him, asking with her eyes what happened.
- They're looking for you. You're not in your bed, he whispered with horror.
Suddenly her face turned pale. Horror could be read on her face and panick filled her body. Her heart beat was so fast she could see the little thumps it made on her chest. She lifted the bedshifts in a rush. A small stain of red was located at the center of the bed. She pulled the bedshifts down quickly. Then she looked at Guillaume again. A knock on the door made them turned their heads to the source of that sudden noise. A voice asked him where his betrothed was . He answered that he didn't know and then covered Geirlaug with the stained bed sheet.
He looked in in the corridor to make sure no one was there and then told Geirlaug to run to her chambers quickly. She would explain the red stain by saying this was the last day of her monthly bleeding. She looked at him with panick.
- Go! Go!
She silently ran in the corridors and after a few minutes he heard a door being slammed. She was back in her bedchambers. At last. Guillaume let a sigh of relief out. He laid his head on the door for a moment then took the cloak of fur from the floor and smelled it for a long time. He sighed. He wished she had stayed. They would have woke up slowly and he would have smiled at her. He would have whispered a 'good morning, you' and he would have kissed her beautiful lips. She would have nested in his neck and he would have been able to smell her hair longer. But instead, they had to deal with the mess they created. He had wished they stayed like this forever, but they had to marry in less than three hours.
- So much for a romantic morning, he grumbled.
Then, he asked for a bath and prepared his wedding outfit. If he had to marry the love of his life and the woman who gave him his best orgasm, he better had to be clean and well dressed.
Geirlaug hastly hid the sheet she was wrapped into. She put it under her bed, remembering to burn it afterwards and quickly called for her maids. She asked a bath and her clothes to be ready and sat on her bed.
When she looked at the sky throught the window, she was thrilled to see that the clouds were slowly fading away. The sky was still grey but a small filament of bright orange sunlight could be seen under the sea of clouds. It was like the sky itself was celebrating her wedding. Rouen seemed to have lightened up for her. She couldn't help but smile widely.
She touched her bedshifts lightly to remember the fabric. It was the last day she was spending here, in her old bedchambers. It was hard to leave a place where she had felt safe in for years. Her eyes lingered on the room. She noticed the marking on her bed she made when she was still training with her knives. She saw her old doll at the other side of the room, covered with dust. The tapestries she made when she was still learning were still hanged on the walls despite the time. She smelled the scent of her room once more with melancholy. This was her smell. Now she had to share another's, even if she was addicted to it. She was leaving her childhood behind and was entering adulthood. She wished her mother was here with her to share this moment and to weep with her, but she was busy with the bishop and Guillaume's mother. This time again, Geirlaug was on her own.
Finally the servants came with a tub filled with hot water. One of them scolded the young lady:
- Where have you been? We looked for you for hours!
- I went walking around in the woods, she innocently said.
- Cursed be your implusive and wild temper. I hope your husband will change that, the old servant said undressing her.
Geirlaug didn't replied to this and contented herself to smile. She entered the tub with delight and sighed heavily out of well-being. Of course the water wasn't as warm as Guillaume's arms but it sure relaxed her from her stormy night. She slowly cleaned her skin to get rid of her sweat and put some drops of perfume in the water to smell nicely. One maid cleaned her hair and brushed it with a comb. Once she was cleaned and fresh, she got out of the tub and wrapped herself in a towel. She asked one of her maid, a Norse one, to braid her hair the most beautiful way she knew and the woman gladly complied. She was known as the best hairdresser in Rouen.
Once this done, she put her wedding dress on. It was wonderful. It was made with white silk and her sleeves touched the ground when she raised her arms. The neck was V-shaped and the whole dress was embroidered with golden thread. The dress highlighted her waist and her breasts finely. She had no doubt she would make her future husband dizzy. A golden belt made of leather was tied around her waist. Belt to which she tied the dagger her mother offered her. Finally, she put a gossamery veil on her head, held by a crown made of bronze. It wasn't a royal crown, but it was worth it. Her fingers were adorned by many rings and her neck bore the necklace her father gifted her with elegance.
She admired her reflection in the mirror when her father entered the room. He stopped when he saw her. Geirlaug turned her head to him, smiling warmly. But when she saw his face she realized he was almost crying.
- Father, are you well?
He wiped a tear from the corner of his eye.
- Yes. Yes daughter, I am well. I can't believe you're going to be wed. It seems to me that it was only yesterday you were born. I am so proud of you, my beautiful Geirlaug.
He hugged her tight. From his shaking, Geirlaug knew her father was weeping. After a moment, he stepped back and looked at his daughter. She was so beautiful. There was only a few physical traits she shared with Gisla, but she was as beautiful. Rollo was happy he got to father such children as Geirlaug and Guillaume. They honored him.
- Now, let's go, shall we? Everyone is waiting for us, Rollo said with a shaking voice.
Geirlaug nodded and followed her father to the horse that will lead her to the church. Once mounted on Sleipnir she suddenly was consumed by doubt. She questioned her choice. What if Guillaume didn't love her anymore now that they had sex? What if it didn't work? What if she puked on him? What if? Soon, she felt her head spin with all those 'what if' roamming her mind.
But as soon as she dismounted, all her doubts were swiped away by the sight of her beloved count in front of the altar, smiling warmly to her. He was so handsome in his red tunic embroidered with the same golden threads as the one on her dress. He was wrapped into a large and long cloak and he had tied a sword on his belt. On his hand, she noticed several rings and he bore a broch made out of bronze. He gently rubbed his thumb on the one she offered him and his smile widened. If she wasn't surrounded by so many people, in another place, Geirlaug would have kissed him and made love to him instantly. His dark hair were messy and he didn't shave. Geirlaug smiled to herself, knowing that he probably didn't have time. Perhaps she would find her own smell on him or in his room when night will come. In his eyes she saw nothing but adoration and love. He breathed heavily as she made her entrance in the church.
Rollo took her arm and walked her down the aisle. This wedding brought back so much memories. He remembered how beautiful his wife was and how she cried for the whole cremony. He was glad it wasn't the same for her daughter. He was glad she was happily marrying the count. He was happy she knew the same luck as he did.
Sadly for the old duke, the walk to the altar was too short and he had to give her to her future husband faster than he thought. He squeezed then gave his daughter's hand to the count's with regrets and then, came to sit beside his wife and his son. Guillaume of Normannia smiled to her sister to encourage her and then held Sprota's hand and kissed it.
The church was huge and yet, was crowded. People were standing behind the duke, his family and the other nobles of the country Every people in Rouen and the surrounding came to assist the marriage of the year. Geirlaug recognized her old maids, the one that had a child and went home to take care of them, the boys she played with when she was still a child, some vikings she saw around the city. Everyone was there to witness her wedding and she was happy to be surrounded by so many familiar faces.
Guillaume gently took her hand and both kneeled on cushions made of fine fabric placed in front of them. Guillaume bended to her ear.
- What will we do about the bedshifts tonight, he asked whispering.
- Don't forget that I always carry knives, she whispered back. I will take care of that.
- I love you, he purred.
Geirlaug smiled and the bishop started telling mass. His speech was long, the mass seemed interminable and Geirlaug lost notion of the time. She began to daydream. It was only broken by them lighting an altar candle together, receiving Communion, and their kiss sealing their alliance. The bishop, then started the ceremony marking Geirlaug's change of name. He poured holy water on her head and after a prayer, he announced her to the crowd in the church as Adèle, countess of Poitiers. Geirlaug looked at her father to see his reaction and what she saw broke her heart: the duke's face was sad. All it showed was regret. She tried to cheer him up by smiling to him. After all, she was still Geirlaug. Gisla gently pat his hand and he finally got rid of his sad face.
Guillaume put a ring on his bride's thin ring finger and Geirlaug did likewise, trying as much as she could to feel his warmth. She smiled to herself when she thought of where those fingers were last night. She looked at Guillaume mischieviously and he answered by kissing her hand. It was enough to make his, now, wife breathe heavily. At this moment, Geirlaug was the happiest woman on Earth.
The banquet lasted the whole afternoon. The guests gladly ate everything that came before them: pies, cooked deers, roasted boars, chickens, soups, carrots and other vegetables. Soon, all the cheese and alcohol of the duke's cellar was gone forever in the bellies of the crowd. Geirlaug and Guillaume were kept apart by countless guests congratulating them for the major part of the feast. The short period of rain didn't stained the crowd's joy, on the contrary. They all sang and danced in the little drizzle that fell from the grey clouds from time to time. The more the afternoon progressed, the less clouds there were.
Guillaume's mother spend a lot of time talking with her daughter-in-law. She welcomed her in the family and adressed her her most warm recommandation. She also told her about her husband's childhood with mischief. She loved her daughter-in-law. She would make a great countess when her time will come. Then, it was Gisla's turn to keep her daughter away from her husband. Her duty as a mother was to warn the young bride of what would come next on her wedding night. Geirlaug hid a smile. If her mother knew she already experienced her husband's body, she would certainly punish her for all eternity and lock her up in the dungeon. Her father also adressed the groom his warnings which made Geirlaug feel awkward. She desperately wanted to touch her husband and to be with him to feel his warm body against hers.
Fortunately, they were sitting side by side at dinner so Guillaume seized the occasion to caress her leg under the table for the whole time they were sitting to make her remember of his hands. Thus, Geirlaug spent the entire feast biting her lips to hold her desire. She felt the urge to kiss him passionately but the guests prevented her to do so. Besides she could gladly unleash herself now that she was married. They had the whole night to achieve their desires. Yet, Geirlaug was still afraid that it might not be as magical as before.
For the whole time the guests were eating, Geirlaug and Sprota joyfully chatted about the latest gossips of the city, plots, schemes and of course, children. Then, it was their families' turn to speak. The speeches of their parents was so moving she wept a little. Guillaume took care of her tears by comforting her. He gently put his arm around her shoulder and stroke her hair with affection. It was painful for him not to be able to touch her more passionately. She was his wife! Why shouldn't he prove her his love?
Then, when the time had come for the newly wed couple to prepare themselves for their first night together – If only they knew – Sprota came to greet her friend once more and to reassure her on the matter. Geirlaug confessed to her what happened earlier that day and Sprota smiled. She was happy her friend freed herself from her condition. Guillaume of Normannia, as the good big brother he was, menaced the groom that if something bad ever happened, he would have to answer it in front of him with a sword. The count contented himself to smile and reassure his homonym. If he knew something, it was that, now that they already did it, it would surely be less painful for Geirlaug.
They did it again that night. It was their duty after all. A day of feasting didn't prevent them to ride each other with passion. And now that they knew their bodies, it was even more delicious. Guillaume soon found new ways to please his wife and Geirlaug rediscovered his body with pleasure. Geirlaug had been brought in her husband's chamber without any resistance and Rollo and Gisla insisted for them to be alone, driven by their common memories. With all witnesses gone, they gladly could unleash their burning passion.
It was only natural for them to possess each other with such desire. Geirlaug had an orgasm multiple times and Guillaume, countless times. The nightgown she was forced to wear was removed as soon as they were alone. They had sex the whole night, not even caring of their neighbour's sleep or theirs. They eventually fell asleep, exhausted, right before dawn.
They were awoken slowly by the rays of sunrise. Guillaume looked at the wonderful creature still half asleep in his arms. Her hair smelled so nicely and shone with the sun. He loved her. He loved her more than life itself.
- Good morning, my wife, he tenderly whispered.
- Good morning, my husband, she murmured while kissing him.
She yawned and then began to stroke her husband's hair. Husband. It felt weird for her who used to be so alone.
- Your mother asked me if it would be fine if we left tomorrow. I wanted to know if it bothered you.
- Why did she asked you this, he asked puzzled.
- She said she wanted to come back to your father as soon as possible and that she wanted to introduce your wife to him. She offered me a place in her coach.
- What do you say? Didn't you wanted to enjoy your parents' company as much as possible?
- It's not like any of them would pass away soon. Your family is more important right now. This is more urgent. I could still pay them a visit once a year.
- You are a pearl.
- I am your pearl.
They kissed once again.
- Your mother already began to call me by my christian name, by the way.
- I suppose your father wasn't very happy to see you having to renounce your birth name. Who could blame him? Geirlaug is such a beautiful name.
- I don't think my father will stop calling me Geirlaug. I remain his daughter, even if I am married.
- My people will love you.
- I hope so. If they do, then perhaps they'll respect and admire their count more, she tenderly said.
- Thank you.
- For what?
- For your faith in me.
- I am your wife. How can I doubt of my husband?
- I swear to always take your advices in consideration and to treat you as my equal. I swear that I will protect you no matter what.
- Didn't we exchanged our vows already, she giggled.
- I wanted to tell you this. I felt it was important.
- And I swear, she began solemnly, to always watch your back, to work for your interests, to take care of our children and to protect you. You are my life and I am yours. We shall never be departed from one another.
- My beautiful wife, Guillaume murmured.
He tenderly kissed her forehead and then came down on her lips. His lingered on hers and she put her arms around his neck while moving onto him. They kept their embrace until the whole castle awoke itself.
But there was no time for them to stay in bed. A long day awaited them. Guillaume and Sprota were getting married that very day and the newly wed couple did not want to be late for their friends and family. Once their bedshifts collected – Geirlaug took great care of staining it with her blood, to her husband's disagreement on seeing her cut her skin because of the nightmares he had after her suicide attempt - they took a bath together and then dressed up for the event. Geirlaug put a green dress with narrow sleeves and embroidered with golden threads, on and added to her outfit, a viking apron tied to her dress with two bronze broaches. Her neck was adorned with her necklace and she put some bracelets on her wrists. Her hair was beautifully braided which had the effect on making her husband kiss her neck in awe. She kept it simple but she was marvelous. She took great care of telling her husband what to wear. She didn't wish for him to look like a viking. His southern appearance was what seduced her in the first place. She handed him a blue tunic and a golden belt. She also gave him a dark blue coat tied around his neck by two broaches of bronze. The same as hers. He tied his sword on his belt and her, her dagger on hers. Geirlaug looked at her husband. He was handsome.
When they entered the great hall, everyone was already ready to leave for the place Guillaume and Sprota wished to marry. Of course, their arrival aroused cheers from the people gathered there. Rollo shot his daughter a knowing smile and Gisla looked at her daughter with a mix of disappointment and amusement. He told her. Geirlaug was sure Rollo told her about her stormy night with her husband before their wedding. She widely smiled to her mother. She knew that if she dared to punish her, her husband would come to rescue her and take her to his southern lands. Yet, she doubted he would be able to overcome an angry Gisla. But with the help of her father and her brother, perhaps...
The marriage took place on one bank of the Seine. The castle and part of the city could be seen and the place was surrounded by trees. It was there where Guillaume told Sprota he loved her. There, they first had sex. There, they were going to marry. They held that place dearly in their heart and Geirlaug knew it. She smiled to her husband. He smiled back.
Sprota was beautiful. She was wearing a crown made of wild flowers and straw in her blonde braided hair and her dress highlighted her waist and the many curves of her body. Now that Geirlaug knew she was pregnant, she began to see a little bump on her belly. Unless her mind played tricks. Her dress was beautifully done. Geirlaug suspected her elder sisters worked on it. The patterns of the embroidery work on her dress reminded her of the roots of a tree and its cream color embellished her skin tone. She wasn't wearing any jewel which, surely, would make Guillaume cover her with necklaces, blacelets, earring, and rings.
Geirlaug, for the first time, realized what a fine man her brother was. He might not be as handsome as her husband, but he bore his viking heritage with pride. He was wearing a tunic made of the same cream shade as his bride's dress and it was finely embroidered with red threads. On his belt he had tied his longsword and was wearing a cloak made of bear fur. Then, she noticed the proud eyes of her father on his son. She was glad he was happy with this. She knew he never had the chance to marry according to the tradition of his people. Gisla was holding his arm and smiled warmly to her son. It was the first time she witnessed a viking marriage. She was happy to see her son almost married.
Sprota's father came to greet his duke. Geirlaug had rarely seen him. He was tall, had a very bushy beard, yet, well brushed, and his long hair was tangled in a braid. He had tied an axe on his belt, just as Rollo did. Both men were wrapped in a cloak of fur and began to joke joyfully in Norse. Gisla, on the other hand, was talking with Guillaume of Poitiers about litterature. Obviously, Guillaume's mother stayed at the castle to prepare her departure. She was a christian and had no intention of being there for a pagan ceremony.
The master of the ceremony began her speech. It was an old lady. Old enough to have known Charlemagne. Two swords were handed to the couple. Guillaume took the old one that Rollo carried with him all his life and Sprota took the other one, a newly forged sword which blade was carved with old runes. They crossed their swords and put their ring at the end ot them. The old woman asked them if they wanted to take each other as husband and wife and both said yes. Then, they exchanged their swords and took the rings to put it on their fingers. They kissed and finally, they were announced as a married couple.
Geirlaug cheered louder than she should have. She was weeping out of joy. Her brother noticed and came to hug her. He tenderly smiled to her and kissed her forehead. Then, Sprota came by her side and hugged her sister-in-law. Her face was radiant. She shone with happiness. Her smile was so bright it seemed made out of tiny mirrors. Geirlaug asked her to protect and take great care of her big brother and then mocked him like they used to do when they were still young children. Guillaume of Poitiers congratulated his homonym warmly and wished him a long, happy and prosperous life with his wife.
- We're both wed now, Geirlaug said her voice shaking with emotion.
- I know. I am happy. Are you?
- Yes. Though I will miss punching you and making your life miserable, she said still crying.
- Thank God! I was wondering when I would be able to live without constantly looking behind me to see if you were going to attack me once again, he joked.
- You idiot, she chuckled.
- I will write you as much as possible. Don't worry, your brother is safe with me, Sprota comforted her.
- I know. I trust you. It's this little brat that I don't trust, she joked looking at her brother. If he makes your life terrible, tell me and I'll come punch him for you.
- With a threat like you, she'll be treated like a queen, Guillaume of Normannia said.
- She better be!
- I will send you gifts for your wedding when we'll be back in Poitiers, Guillaume said. You're family now, after all.
- Thank you count. The greatest gift you could offer me is for my sister to be happy.
- I intend to love her until the day of my death.
- I am glad to have you as my brother-in-law. May the alliance of our families be long and prosperous.
Rollo announced the beginning of a second day of feast. His cellar still wasn't empty and he had some game animal he needed to get rid of. The wedding of both his children was worth the best he could give.
The feast was more magnifiscent this day than the day before. It was the future duke's wedding after all. Countless people across Rouen and the whole duchy came to pay their respects to the groom and his bride who would become their duchess. Guillaume and Sprota enjoyed this moment and took advantage of it to joyfully chat over a goblet of cider, not that they didn't chat all the time. Geirlaug and her husband took this feast as an occasion to hastily come back in their room, giggling like teenagers and make love again. They hardly kept their hands away from one another.
Geirlaug doubted that two days of feast would be enough for the crowd to feel full. They ate like ogres. Of course Gisla insisted that it was their duty, as ruler of this lands to welcome the beggers and everyone who came to pay their respects. Such a celebration was always an opportunity to do some charity work. Rollo, on the other hand, was drinking mead joyfully with Sprota's father and some of his warriors. Gisla glanced at him from time to time, smiling to herself, happy to see her husband this radiant.
When the night came, most of the guest were already alseep, stunned by the amount of food they ate. Sprota and Guillaume were back in their chambers where they made love and Geirlaug and Guillaume were in theirs, recovering from two exhausting days of feasting and nights of love making. Geirlaug had no doubt she would give him an heir within the year.
Geirlaug was sad to leave Rouen again and for good. Naturally, when the time had come, she had to pay her parents her farewell. Rollo cried. Something he rarely did. Gisla held her daughter for a long moment in her arms. She wasn't ready to let her baby leave. No mother was. Of course, Geirlaug was sadder. She had to say goodbye to Sprota, her best, and perhaps, her only friend. She had to leave Rouen and all its familiar faces behind. She would miss the smell of fresh baked bread in the morning, just as the usual forging sounds of the castle's blacksmith. She would dearly regret the sight of her father and her brother, training in the yard. And more than anything, she would miss the sound of Gisla's harsh voice when she was scolding her.
She was also afraid to leave for some unknown land and live in a foreign castle. It surely would take her years to adapt herself to it. But her husband took care of reassuring her as well as his mother. The countess was so gentle and generous with her Geirlaug felt she found a new mother. Obviously, she was very demanding and insisted to teach her the tongue of Oc during the journey to Poitiers. She asked for books to read and for tapestries to make. She wished to pass on her daughter-in-law everything a noble lady from the south wished to know. She never had a daughter to share those things. Geirlaug was happy. She felt loved and desired by her new family. A thing she needed.
Fortunately, she could take Sleipnir with her to her new home. It was a relief to know that she brought some of herself to her new life. She was also granted the permission to take some shields and other norman weapons and to her great joy, Guillaume showed her the norse tales her father told her written on paper. Now, she would always have some of her family with her.
The time had come to leave for good. Before she entered the coach she hugged her brother and adressed him a last advice.
- Do not forget what I once told you, brother. Don't give your trust so easily. Be wary of men and other women for they will covet what is yours and try to destroy you. Watch your back and the one of your family. Be vigilant. Rest one eye open and do not hesitate to question things. Remember this.
- I will. Farewell, sister.
- Farewell, idiot, she smirked.
Guillaume chuckled. Even in such heart wrecking moments, she found time to joke and mock him. He wished her husband to have the patience to bear her presence. Little sisters were annoying, but he loved his annoying little sister. He would miss her. They grew accustomed to one another. They knew each other for their whole life and now had come the time of separation. Guillaume shed a tear.
After a last hug with her father and mother which tore her heart in two, she joined the countess inside the coach. By the opening of it, she waved at her family while the convoy which consisted in Guillaume's men, her mother's and some of Geirlaug's servants and knights, set off. Now, she was definitely crying.
Soon, the faces of her family blurred with the distance, reduced to a vague memory. She lost any clue of their scent and the walls of Rouen. The city, the noise it made, the harbour, the ships, the smell of what she knew and her beautiful Normannia were now just a memory.
Last chapter (before the epilogue which is scheduled on Saturday)! First of all, I want you to know that I described what i saw in the show regarding the weddings. I know it must not be exactly accurate (especially in the case of the Norse wedding.). I am sorry for that proof of lazyness from me. I should have researched more. I hope you liked this chapter, just as I hope you liked the whole story. Thank you all for your comments, reviews and addition regarding the historical accuracy. It means a lot to me.
Leave a review if you want ;)