In the north, there lived an ambátt by the name of Friða, the dóttir of Kári, a man of great wealth on the southern shore. She was chosen by the wife of a mighty Jarl to be her ambátt. Friða was free as any woman of the Hallstead, treated with care and respect.
Friða enjoyed her duties in the Hall as ambátt, refilling horns of mead during feast, spinning wool, and weaving cloth. The brilliant rays from Sól flushed her skin as she attended the gardens. She found great joy in brushing the mane of the horses. Perhaps her favorite pastime, however, was her evening walks to the river.
The evenings were usually cool, even in the summer, there by the water. This is how it was on this night before the great journey across the sea the days between spring and summer. The moon was large and bright. A breeze swirled around her, embracing her, surrounding her with the aromas of the world. She could now identify the herbs and flowers by their scent on the wind. Her favorite–the anemone–no longer bloomed as it was too late in the season, though her heart reminded her of the faint scent and of a night not so long ago.
The moon was large and bright, just as it was on this night by the river. The night clear. The stars dotted the black sky like light shining through loosely woven cloth. She stood by the sea, much the same way she was standing by the river on this night. She recalled watching the heavy-laden ships bob in the water, tied to the pier. Her father forbade she sail on the raid for her presence was needed at home. Her mother passed on to be with their ancestors during winter. Friða was the eldest of three. Her father also had many bondmen and bondwomen. It was her duty to run the farm while he was away on the raids.
Friða stood there by the sea, under Máni’s light. How she begged him to pass slowly that night. She was concerned for the safety and success of her father and the others going, but her thoughts were focused on one man. He was a brave and fierce warrior, having gone on many raids in his lifetime, though his life had not seen many moons nor many winters. With shoulders as broad as her horse and a kind heart, he towered above her father as they laughed and consumed meat and mead during the feast, which was still going strong. The music and laughter and voices of men drifted on the breeze to her delicate ears. She closed her eyes in an effort to remember the moment forever.
Flashes of her recent dreams interrupted her intimate moment with the breeze. The few nights before brought her troubled dreams but she feared speaking of them, afraid they would come true, uncertain of why she had them. She’d never had dreams like that before but she knew they meant something, she just wasn’t sure what.
She shook off the fear and wringed her trembling hands under her woolen blanket, wrapping it tighter around herself. It was the prettiest blue she had made yet. It comforted her. An aroma then surrounded her: anemones. How could this be? The only anemones grew far from the shore.
A long arm reached around her, the large hand holding a small bunch of anemones. The moon’s light revealed their beautiful white petals. She cupped them and buried her face in their soft touch and scent. She breathed them in deeply.
“I’ve waited all day to pick these and give them to you.” His voice was low. Her knees suddenly felt weak and she felt as though she might fall, though she did not.
“How did…why…?” Friða stumbled over her words, her eyes wide, her heart beating as fast as the fox runs. Why couldn’t she breathe?
“I saw you with them the other day as I was hunting,” he said softly. She noticed a tenderness in his voice she unaccustomed to hearing. “You stopped me in my tracks and I watched the way you delicately touched the petals with your fingertips, your eyes smiling with contentment. Your hair glistened as the honey in the light of the sun.”
As he spoke, he stepped around her to stand in front of her. She could feel the heat from his body. She wanted to touch him with her cold hands, to let his heat warm them. With every ounce of strength, she gently touched his arm. “Thank you,” she uttered, looking up at him with her blue eyes. The moon was slightly behind him, casting a shadow over his handsome face, but the moonlight shone brightly against her bare skin and the white flowers. She felt him shudder beneath her touch and slowly removed her hand, careful to not let it linger too long.
“You are most welcome, hjartað mitt.”
Her smile widened at his words.
“I’ve come to ask you a question, Lady Friða, dóttir of Kári…”
Again, she couldn’t breathe, her chill suddenly gone.
“…will you await my return?” His voice broke slightly. He cleared his throat and quickly took a deep breath as if to pull himself together.”Will you wait for me, Friða?” He paused a moment, waiting for a reply but she gave none. “I will return with many spoils,” he added with as much confidence as he could muster.
But she did not need to know he would return with many spoils. What she needed was air. She could not say yes with no air in her lungs. She smiled wider and nodded. “Yes.” A whisper was all that would escape her lips.
Unable to contain his relief, he scooped her up in his arms and hugged her tightly, the flowers still clutched in his fist, her arms wrapped around his strong neck, her small feet dangling at his knees. They looked into each other, his blue eyes deeply into her own. She felt something she’d never felt before and wanted it to never end.
Slowly and with great care, he set Friða upon her feet and offered her the flowers. His smile wide and bright in the night, the moon high overhead.
That was a moment she would never release to the winds. It was 3 winters ago now, she recalled as she stood there by the river. She was still awaiting his return…