So, part II of my latest experiment. Designed to either be read alone or as a companion to 'Little Lion Man'. If my attempt is successful, it should be just as good on its own.
Will be updating both this, and 'Little Lion Man' chronologically. So, there will be a few days between most updates.
For those of you joining the quest later that my release dates, I will be putting up a list of chapters (of all the stories from this adventure) in their proper chronology on my profile page once I know better what that chronology is gonna look like.
-Oh. And the title is from that of a 'Skillet' song. Very worth the listen. Found it by accident when I was looking for this one's title and thought it in-character.
She was raised by Bilig, chief lord of the lowlands and the coast all along the northwestern parts of Vanaheim amid a riot of cousins and friends as near as kin. She was a shield maiden, proven time and again in attacks from the marsh trolls and barrows who plagued her father's people until they were finally driven back for good and all. She was wooed and won in the pride of her youth by a stranger. A traveling warrior, poet, and mage. A fearless man with flashing blue eyes and a quick sword.
He was a prince. The crown prince. Heir apparent to the throne of Asgard, and the title of AllFather, beside.
She was thunderstruck to hear it.
She'd been wed to him for near to three years, knowing him only as Bolverk Vegtam, a warrior errant who had come to her father's halls in the chieftain's time of need and had aided powerfully in the saving of her people.
She'd hated him, at first. Hated him and his bold pursuit of her. But he was brave, and as they fought side by side, as they worked to salvage the wounded and to rebuild her home, she saw the gentleness in his hands and the kindness that would abruptly shine through the flash and flame of his blue eyes and her heart was changed. And when he had returned years later to her father's dun, she did not refuse him.
But his name was strange to her.
Prince. The crown prince. Heir apparent to the throne of Asgard. Someday AllFather.
She shut herself into her rooms and locked the door behind her and stood, trembling with her back pressed to the firm solidity of the wall and her hands splayed flat against it. Her breath came in shallow, uneven gulps.
His father had come. Bor, the AllFather, King of Asgard and Lord of all Nine Realms. He'd come, furious, having heard rumors of his wayward son, lost across the years. Her father had not known why it was he had come. Her father's messengers had come flying before the AllFather, panting that he was come, they knew not why and the house had flown all into a flurry of preparation.
Bor had come, cordial and frightening and Frigga had stayed back by the wall. She didn't know where her husband had gone, but she sorely missed him. Many things she had faced, but Bor frightened her, with his great, horned helmet and his stern eyes. She had heard tales of the things he had done to her people in the Wars gone by – they all had – and no one knew what now he wanted.
He sought his son. Odin. A man travelling in disguise. A wandering warrior who would have come some time hence. His spies had found him here, a man going by the name Bolverk.
And Frigga's heart had stopped.
She'd fled in fury to her rooms.
He'd lied to her. He'd lied to her. All this time, he'd confessed his love, he'd pursued her, he'd won her, and all that time he'd lied.
And Norns, Norns, that wasn't even all of it. She was, by wedded right, a queen.
She was second daughter to her father, at his death the right of rule would go to Saga and she was glad. She'd always been glad. She'd never wanted a throne. She'd known she might marry into one, but she had never thought she would. To be pulled away from her father and all of her family… She'd always imagined she'd wed some lord's son or some warrior, and remain here, and raise her family where she had grown up, by the sea and the grasslands.
Queen, and one day, AllMother.
She pressed her eyes tight closed.
How could you?
When the knock came she shot to her feet. Ignoring the tear-tracks still on her face she went to the door. She didn't open it, but leaned her shoulder against the wood.
"What is it?" she asked.
Her arms pulled protectively about her ribs. "What."
An almost aggravated sigh, "Frigga, I want to talk to you,"
"I'm sure you do." In spite of her will, her voice wavered.
"Frigga," he said, then, softer, "I'm sorry,"
"You ought to be," but that was all she could say. Tears spilled hot and wet down her cheek and she caught her lip in her teeth. She didn't want him to know. Even now she didn't want him to see her like this.
"Frigga," he said, "Please, I only want to talk to you, let me in."
She shook her head, and she went back into her room.
After a while, he gave it up and he went away.
The next knock came perhaps an hour later. It was lower down on the door, and, wordlessly, Frigga opened it.
Siofna was there – her tiny niece. She put out her little arms and Frigga scooped her up. She buried her face in the little girl's warm, blond curls that smelled of fresh air and sunshine and held her tight. Then they sat together on Frigga's bed, with the door slightly ajar and Siofna on her lap. Frigga knew, wearily, that the child was little more than an emissary, sent by her sister. And part of her found some way to be glad of it. She sorely needed counsel.
Frigga petted the little girl's head and asked her about her day and the games she had played and Siofna told her all in her soft, tiny voice.
Saga wasn't far behind her daughter. Ever since their mother's death all those years ago, Saga had been as a mother to Frigga – to all of them. She would make a great queen.
Saga's eyes were gentle and she shut the door quietly behind her. Then she came and sat down on the bed beside her. Siofna was still talking and Frigga wouldn't look at Saga. She hugged the little girl about the middle. Saga didn't interrupt, she sat quietly and stroked Frigga's hair until the little one had quieted.
Siofna had taken a little doll from the pocket of her dress to show Frigga, and she was murmuring to herself as she straightened the tiny thing's skirts.
"You will have to face him," Saga said softly.
"I can't," Frigga hugged the little one till she squirmed, "I can't."
"You must," Saga told her implacably, "You are his wife."
"But Saga –"
"I know," she said. "What he did to you is unpardonable. But it is up to you what to do next."
"Saga," she said, "A queen? AllMother? I…" her voice failed her and she whispered, "I can't,"
Saga turned to face her and her grey eyes softened. She smeared away the tears on Frigga's face with her thumb. "Then tell him so."
She chocked on a sob, "But don't you see?" she managed, "Saga, I love him. Even after…" she couldn't bear Saga's eyes any longer. She turned away, resting her chin on the child's head, "I love him, even so."
"I know," Saga said. She stroked Frigga's hair. "I knew you would not have wed him otherwise."
"But Saga," she said, "I can't do it. Asgard?" she shook her head, "If it was here…"
"Listen to yourself," Saga scoffed, "Is this my sister?"
"No," she took Frigga's hand from about the child and pressed it.
Siofna squirmed away.
"No, you listen to me," she pressed her hand until Frigga finally looked at her again, "If anyone has it in them to be a great queen, it is you."
She traced a gentle hand down the side of Frigga's face, "Shh," she said, "Mother would have been so proud of you,"
After a time, when Frigga had drawn back, Saga kissed her brow.
Siofna squirmed beside her, putting up one dimpled knee to scramble onto her lap.
"You should go to him," Saga said as she rose, "I didn't know he could look so distraught."
"Believe me," Frigga shifted the child, swallowing back the last of her shuddering breaths. "It'll be worse for him yet."
Saga laughed, "There's my sister," she paused in the doorway, "To be frank," she said, "I prefer him this way. 'Odin' is a more respectable name."
"Mm," Frigga buried her nose in the child's soft fair hair.
Siofna laughed, suddenly aware of the conversation, "O-din?" she turned about, grinning up at Frigga, "Who's O-din?"
Frigga traced a golden curl from the child's face and tucked it behind her ear, "We're going to have to wait and see."
Saga was still there, watching the two of them. "You will do well, Sister," she said. Her face was soft and gentle and she looked so like their mother, "You will be a great queen."