Summary: They call Nerthus a widow now, although her husband still lives.

Note: Companion piece to my fic Numbered Among the Aesir. You'll probably want to read that one first.

the birds have all flown away

Nerthus is called a widow now, although her husband still lives. She watches the sea, sometimes, and thinks of him, far away and lost to her more surely than any dead man. She has heard that Njord is called one of the most eligible men in Asgard. No doubt they will marry him soon.

A shadow crosses her face at the thought. She remembers far off days spent laughing in bed, and days further still spent chasing one another through the ripe barley, playing at adventure until their mother came to collect them for sleep. She misses her husband, and her brother perhaps more so. But she does not allow herself sorrow.

She keeps Freyja's necklace, the one she left behind when she went to teach seid to the Aesir. She doesn't wear it, but she takes it out sometimes and traces her fingers lightly over the glass beads. It's an old necklace, a child's necklace. She remembers giving it to her daughter, and Freyja's childish glee – now she could look like Mother. Nerthus wonders how her daughter looks now.

She fingers the necklace and smiles her soft widow's smile.

Outside, a falcon banks steeply and lands at her doorstep.